Monday, October 7, 2013

From the Top Shelf - Mrs Dickens, Part 1

I recently discovered a lovely short story by S.T. Rogers. The Chastening of Mrs Dickens is a modern tale about a "Victorian" household. Here is part one of the story.

Emily, from her place of concealment, watched as Mrs Dickens entered the room and stood before the bureau. She did not look at her master but inclined her head and stared at the floor. Her demeanour surprised Emily who had always regarded her as a strong-willed and proud woman; but now she looked like a crestfallen schoolgirl standing before her headmaster, awaiting punishment.

Also surprising was the housekeeper's appearance. In the lamp-lit study she looked ravishing; her pale but beautiful face was highlighted by her raven-black hair, and the tight black dress she wore contrasted deliciously with her white apron. The slimness of her waist and the broadness of her hips and bottom was quite striking.

The young master left her standing in this position for several minutes and then rose from his chair. He approached the housekeeper and, in one swift movement, raised her black dress and white apron above her waist.

"Oh, master, please...don't..." she moaned as she was pushed sideways and gripped firmly around her midriff. With the same swiftness as before, the master yanked her starchy white bloomers down over her stocking tops and placed his hand on her quivering bottom.

"Have you missed me?" he hissed...


Emily obtained her position at the Grimes household in the winter of 1996. At nineteen, she was the younger of the two maids employed in the elegant town-house; the other, Susan, being twenty-two.

Emily had been interviewed for her position by Mrs Dickens and at the time she had expressed her curiosity over the 'Olde Worlde' atmosphere which existed in the household.

"Master Grimes is particularly fond of the Victorian era," Mrs Dickens replied. "You will notice that the decor, furniture and servants' uniforms are all fashioned after that period of history. We do not question the Master's tastes or opinions. We simply obey his wishes. Of course, if you do not approve..."

"Oh no, Mrs Dickens," replied Emily hastily,"it's not a question of disapproval. In fact I find the whole idea rather charming and I'm sure I would enjoy working here. I think I'd look quite fetching as a Victorian maid."

Mrs Dickens had looked distinctly unimpressed by Emily's youthful exuberance but gave her the job nevertheless. After all, she did have excellent references.

Two weeks into her employment, Emily had still not met the owner of the house, Master Grimes, but she knew that he was in his mid-twenties and had inherited the house from wealthy parents who had passed the family business over to him and retired to the country. Apparently the young man was on a business trip to Italy and would return shortly.

In the meantime, Emily quickly became familiar with her duties and with the other members of the household staff. Susan, the older maid, was the one that Emily felt closest to. They had a shared sense of humour which helped to alleviate the monotony of the daily routine of chores.

Mrs Dickens, the housekeeper, was responsible for the allocation of work to the two maids. She was a tall, slim woman in her mid-forties with striking black hair tied up in a severe bun, and piercing blue eyes. Emily often felt that those eyes could see straight through a person. Both she and Susan were wary of the housekeeper and tried to keep on her good side; she had such a formidable presence that both girls were loathe to make her lose her temper.

Mr Balfour, the butler, was a source of great amusement to Emily and Susan. Whereas they treated Mrs Dickens with great respect, Mr Balfour was treated with a kind of humorous contempt. He had such a proud and haughty demeanour that the girls found it impossible to stifle a giggle when they passed him in the corridor. his back stiff and straight and his nose in the air. He seemed uncomfortable in the presence of young ladies and they would exploit this at meal times in the downstairs kitchen, teasing him until he stared at his plate - blushing and confused.

Emily was dusting in the library when Mrs Dickens took her aside one grey Monday morning. "Master Grimes is returning from Italy and will arrive tomorrow morning," said the housekeeper. Emily was delighted with the news. She had previously asked Susan for a description of the mysterious young man and had been told that he was very handsome. It would make a change, she thought, to have a good-looking man in the house instead of having to look at boring old Balfour all day.

Mrs Dickens then said something which left Emily puzzled. "I am sure you lack experience of members of the opposite sex, but I think you will discover that they are not all as quiet and timid as Mr Balfour, whom you obviously enjoy teasing. Some men know precisely how to deal with impertinent young ladies. You will find that out soon enough."

Later that night, Emily sat before the mirror in her chamber, brushing her blonde tresses and pondering what Mrs Dickens had said. She had obviously been referring to Master Grimes when she spoke of men who knew how to deal with impertinent young ladies, and this added even more mystery to the young man arriving next morning. Eventually her curiosity conquered her and she decided to visit Susan's chamber to make some enquiries.

Susan was in the process of removing her uniform when she heard the tentative knocking on her door. "Come in," she said and smiled at the younger maid as she entered.

"What brings you to my humble abode, Miss Emily?" she asked with a grin. Emily positioned herself on the edge of the bed and explained her curiosity about the young master, mentioning what Mrs Dickens had said earlier. Susan listened as she removed her frilly white apron and dress. She turned to Emily and gave her a quizzical smile as she eased her black stockings down her legs.

"You have not been here long, Emily. I have worked in this house for four years. There are certain things you will have to get used to if you wish to continue working here. You see, the Master has specific ways of dealing with female servants. I no longer question his methods, in fact, I participate fully in them and derive immense satisfaction from them." Susan paused and giggled. "Master Grimes has a very firm hand!"

Emily stared in bewilderment.

Susan giggled even louder. "Don't you see what I'm getting at?"

"I'm afraid I don't," said Emily. "Sometimes I am so confused by this place. It's as though we are in a time warp. It's as if the Victorian age has been brought into the 20th century."

Susan grinned slyly. "Go to the Master's study just before nine o'clock tomorrow evening. There is a small store room adjacent to it; conceal yourself within. There is a landscape painting on the wall, push it to one side and look through the peephole - don't worry about being discovered, the peephole is concealed in the shadows of a large book-case in the study."

"What will I see?" asked Emily.

"You must learn patience," replied Susan. "You will find out soon enough."

That night Emily lay in her bed staring into the darkness.

She experienced a mix of confusion and excitement. It was difficult to sleep. She could not wait to dispel some of the mystery surrounding young Master Grimes.

The next day's chores seemed to drag on forever but at last the time arrived when she was safely concealed in the store-room. Emily's hands trembled slightly as she carefully pushed the small landscape painting on the wall to one side and peered through the hole.

Eventually her eyes focused on the man seated at his lamp-lit bureau writing in a ledger. It was the first time she had seen the young Master and she let out an involuntary sigh because he was more handsome than she could ever have imagined, with golden brown hair and handsome features which struck her heart immediately.

Emily's appreciation of the young man's beauty was interrupted by the sound of a light tap on the study door. Master Grimes closed his ledger and raised his head. "Come in," he said. Mrs Dickens entered and stood before the Master's bureau.

And you, dear readers, must also have patience. The mystery will be revealed next week in Part 2.

From Hermione's Heart


Roz said...

Great story, thank you for sharing Hermione. I love the modern day victorian household. Looking forward to part 2.


garyntboy said...

Damn it !!!! I've lost patience already.
Kind regards,

garyntboy said...

Can't you tell us now ? Pleeease. It's my bedtime soon.

Hermione said...

Roz - It would be quite the place to live and work.

Gary - No, I'm sorry, you'll have to wait like everyone else. But I will give you a hint: read the first four paragraphs again.


ronnie said...


Charming story. Thank you. Look forward to part II. Though naughty of you making us wait a whole week.


Anonymous said...

I've never seen this one before and I'm not familiar with the author. Where did you find this?

Aimless Rambling said...

You are making us wait a whole week.Glad time goes by very quickly. Thanks for sharing.

Hermione said...

Ronnie - Yes, I know I'm naughty. I deserve a spanking:)

Rollin - It's from Janus, years ago, but I don't know the exact date.

Sunny - I will include a reminder to reread this portion in next week's installment.


an English Rose said...

I think that you are a bit naughty Hermione making us wait a week for part two :(
love Jan.xx