Tuesday, June 17, 2014

From the Top Shelf - The Careless Maid

Today's story is an extract from the erotic novel The Housemaid by Deborah Ryder. Not every great house was as easy to work in as Downton Abbey. In many, the butler and the housekeeper ruled with rods of rattan. It was into one such home that a young woman, newly engaged to the Lord of the manor, finds herself.

"I trust that everything is to your liking, my Lady?"

It was hardly a question. It was inconceivable that any fault could be found with Mrs. Hetherington's impeccable housekeeping.

"Oh yes, indeed." Lady Anne hoped that she did not sound nervous, but this stately dowager, so unlike the cheerful housekeeper in her parents home, overawed her. "I understand you have run the household efficiently since..."

Mrs. Hetherington sighed theatrically. "Such a tragedy. Poor Mrs. Wallace. So young!" Yet the conventional sympathy was uttered with as little feeling as if she were reciting a script. She continued: "Mr. Wallace insists on efficiency. You will find no waste in this household, my Lady."

"I am certain there is none, Mrs. Hetherington. And I am very glad that you are here, to run the household in such an admirable fashion." Lady Anne had decided that she must arrive at a truce with this alarming figure. "Since Mr. Wallace honoured me by asking me to become his wife, I have found that the position will entail a great many social duties. I must also be a mother to his children. It is a comfort to know that I shall not be troubled with details of household management."

Mrs. Hetherington almost smiled. "You may rely on me, my Lady. Now is there anything else you wish to see?"

"Should I visit the kitchen? I do not wish to make a habit of descending below stairs."

"There is no need for you to trouble, my Lady. Everything is in perfect order there. The children particularly asked if you would visit the schoolroom."

"Of course! I shall be delighted to see them again!"

The housekeeper conducted the future mistress of the house to the schoolroom, where a governess was supervising the lessons of Mr. Wallace's two daughters...

They heard the sounds of Mr. Wallace's homecoming and Lady Anne hurried downstairs. He greeted her pleasantly before going upstairs to change for dinner. Lady Anne decided to wait for him in the sitting-room where she had earlier been served tea. The tea-tray was still there. She was about to ring for a servant to clear it away when the door opened and a housemaid hurried in. Seeing Lady Anne, she stopped dead, a horrified expression on her face.

"Whatever's the matter, girl?" Lady Anne demanded severely.

"I forgot - the tray - I'm-I'm so sorry, my Lady -"

"What is your name?"

"Emma, my Lady."

"Well, Emma, there is no need to be so upset. Try not to forget again. Take the tray away now."

The maid hesitated, her face drawn. "My Lady - please - are you going to tell Mr. Dickenson?"

Lady Anne was about to reply that she had no intention of reporting such a minor lapse to the butler, but the girl's evident fear disturbed her. The younger servants had to be beaten occasionally, to instill discipline and obedience, but surely a maid would not be punished for such a trivial piece of forgetfulness. She hesitated, then decided to ask no questions.

"I will say nothing, Emma. But do not let it happen again.!"

She wondered whether to mention the matter to Mr. Wallace but decided against it. Possibly the household was too strict but she was not yet in a sufficiently secure position to make alterations. Her own noble but impoverished family was too polite, and too grateful, to call Mr. Wallace 'nouveau riche', but she was well aware that his unexpected offer of matrimony was going to transplant her into a different world. A world of new gowns, fine carriages and gas lighting instead of candles. But also a world of unaccustomed manners and conduct.

When her father had first told her that Mr. Wallace had formally sought his permission to ask for her hand in marriage, Lady Anne had been frightened. There were strange tales about the man, not least the mystery of his first wife's death. But it was her duty to her family to accept such a splendid offer.

* * *

The butler frowned. The young housemaid trembled. The other servants watched passively.

"When you brought the tea-tray downstairs, Emma, Her Ladyship had already returned to the sitting-room. Does this mean that, when she entered the room, she found that you had neglected to clear away the tea things?"

"I-I'm sorry, Mr. Dickenson - her Ladyship said it didn't matter."

"It may not matter in her Ladyship's family home, Emma, but she will learn to expect a higher standard of service here. And you will learn that slatternly ways are not tolerated here. The lesson will be impressed upon you." He liked the phrase and licked his lips before repeating it. "Impressed in stripes across your bottom."

"Please, Mr. Dickenson, please not now. I'm still sore from the last time."

"Then perhaps the increased soreness will remind you to improve your conduct. Bring me the cane, Emma."

Tears were beginning to flow as she brought the cane from its place on the wall. He removed his jacket and rolled up his shirt sleeves, very deliberately, then took the cane from her.

"Prepare yourself, Emma."

Silently, she lifted her skirt and underskirt, pulled down her knickers and bent over the table. The exposure no longer embarrassed her as it had done at first. She had seen all the other junior servants thrashed in the same way on their bare buttocks. Mr. Dickenson punished the girls while Mrs. Hetherington beat the males in similar fashion...

Mr. Dickenson liked to prolong the agony of anticipation. He was examining the fading bruises which he had inflicted a few days earlier...

She heard the cane swish, and tensed in anticipation of a pain which did not come. He was only taking a practice swing. The next stroke would be across her trembling flesh; and it came. She tried not to cry. She wanted to be like Charlotte, the head housemaid, who stoically endured her beatings and said afterwards that she had won because she had not given the butler the satisfaction of seeing her sobbing and screaming as the other maids did.

The second stroke scorched across Emma's tender buttocks and her tears were flowing freely. She had not yet screamed, but the third stroke landed in almost the same position as the second, intensifying the pain, and she could not repress a cry. After the fourth cut of the cane, she was begging for mercy, promising incoherently to improve her conduct.

Her sobbing pleased the butler who, as he often observed to Mrs. Hetherington, liked to be sure that the punishment was having some effect. Charlotte's passivity annoyed him. When would the girl realise it only earned her a more severe flogging?

As the fifth stroke sent shivers of pain through her body, Emma screamed as loudly as she could. Of course the Master knew what went on in his household. He sometimes thrashed a servant himself. But the beautiful young lady he was going to marry seemed gentle and kind; if she knew what was happening, surely she would stop it?

The sixth stroke had been the most vicious of all, as if her scream had annoyed Mr. Dickenson. He knew that the Master and his future wife had already left, and he had been warned to make sure that Lady Anne gained no knowledge of the practices of the household until the Master finally owned her. But it was obvious why Emma was screaming for help and he made a mental note to confine her to the kitchen while Lady Anne was in residence, until after the wedding. Then it wouldn't matter.

Emma clung to the table, sobbing.

"Stand up!" the butler ordered.

She obeyed, pulling up her knickers and smoothing her skirt.

"Now, Emma, are you sorry that you have been so careless and forgetful?"

She sniffled. "Yes, Mr. Dickenson."

"And will your behaviour improve in future?"

"Yes, Mr. Dickenson."

He smiled grimly. "Ah, an easy promise to make - and break. I think you need considerably more instruction."
Will Lady Anne find out before her wedding? If she tries to interfere, how will her husband to be deal with her?

From Hermione's Heart


Aimless Rambling said...

I would have hated to be 'in service' back in the day.

ronnie said...


Same as SG, would have hated being in service then.

Another matter getting caned by the Master of the House as his wife.

Will you be sharing from this story?



Cat said...

I totally agree with Sunny and Ronnie...would have hated being in service...especially in that household where the butler seems to be a sadist! Thanks for sharing.

Hugs and Blessings...

Blondie said...

I don't think that it matters when Lady Anne finds out, she will interfere and earn herself a spanking. There is no way I could be employed there. I wouldn't let anyone but Ty to spank me

Roz said...

I'm with the others. I would have hated working in that household. I'm also willing to bet Lady Anne will find out and interfere at some point.


Hermione said...

I agree with you all. It wouldn't have been nice to work under those conditions. However, if the alternative was to on the streets and starve, perhaps it wouldn't seem so bad.