Tuesday, April 3, 2018

From the Top Shelf - Heatherton Hall, chapter 2a

Last week I reintroduced the late Rollin Hand's novelette, The Ladies of Heatherton Hall. We will continue today with chapter 2. Since it is quite long, I have had to break it into two installments. Unfortunately, today's installment does not contain any spanking, so skip it if you wish. There is, however, a lovely buildup to what is to come.
“Come with me,” said Gwyneth, a day or so later.

“Where to?” Josh had just come down to breakfast and was rubbing the sleep from his eyes. The incident with the maids was still fresh in his mind, but they seemed to bear him no ill will. In fact, if he encountered either Jane or Millie, they would just smile at him, rather coquettishly, he thought. It was as if, in dispensing discipline, he had helped clear the air and had restored harmony in the household. Curious.

“The dock. The ferry is coming in and my cousins Amanda and Felicity Campion are arriving. They are on holiday and will stay with us for a few weeks. They have been here before and I want them to meet you.”


“My mother’s brother married and had two daughters, and every summer they pack them off to somewhere just to get them out of the city— and out of the way. And no wonder. They can be a handful.” She rolled her eyes to emphasize the point. “So let’s be off. Can you drive?”

“Sure,” said Josh. Gwyneth just smiled and tossed him the keys. They made the dock, but barely. After attempting to navigate the narrow roads of Oakton Island while driving on the left side of the road, he was as white as a sheet. “Good God, that was unnerving. You drive on the wrong side of the damn road here!”

“Well, you said you could drive,” said Gwyneth, smiling sweetly, her hand covering a laugh.
Josh muttered something under his breath as Gwyneth took his hand and patted it. “There, there, you’ll get the hang of it — just another adjustment to make as the new Earl of Carlisle.”

Like the last “adjustment”? thought Josh. He sure hadn’t figured on being the lord high dispenser of corporal discipline for a whole household. The incident had been as unnerving as it had been arousing. Oh, sure he had spanked a few bratty girlfriends in his day, but that had been all slap and tickle, a prelude to the action. Still, as he recalled, a few swats on the bottom had often led to some passionate sex later. But this sort of formal punishment was at a different level. He found himself assessing the responsibility, now seemingly thrust upon him. Where would this all go?

His train of thought was interrupted by the arrival of the ferry. The ladies who disembarked were pretty. Amanda was medium height, with long raven-colored hair. Felicity was shorter, an impish-looking cute blonde with freckles. Josh guessed their ages at somewhere around eighteen. Gwyneth had said they were in the sixth form, whatever that meant. They gave Josh the once over, looking him up and down like a prize stallion they might purchase.

“Where did you get this one, Gwynnie?” said Amanda with cool appraisal in her voice. She looked at him over the top of her dark glasses.

“I’ll have you girls know this is the new Earl of Carlisle.”

Gwyneth explained as best she could the odd circumstance that had brought the American to their shores. Then she continued without dropping a beat. “So you’d do well to be on your best behavior for the duration. Let’s have no wild shenanigans like last year.”

“Oh, come on, Gwynnie, we’re here to have fun. Mum and Papa were ever so keen to get rid of us for a spell. Loosen up.” This from the other one, Felicity.

“Yes,” said Amanda. “After boarding school, it’s about time we had a chance to do some serious carousing. Are those boys, Billy and Tom Higgins, still around?”

“Look, girls, I don’t mean to be a spoilsport, but things are a teensy bit tense now, what with all the demonstrators and those real estate clods.” Gwyneth practically spat that one out. “I think you’ll have to keep the carousing down to a mild roar.”

Josh just shook his head. Then he steeled himself for the drive back. About halfway there, after swerving to avoid oncoming cars and nearly crashing into stone fences on the narrow road, he realized that Gwyneth had probably played him on this one. After all, the household had a chauffeur. Why had she tossed him the keys? Obviously to have a little fun with the new guy.

But they made it back, the girls chatting and laughing as though he were no more than a chauffeur, and Josh concentrating for all he was worth, trying to visualize everything in reverse image so he didn’t pull into the wrong lane by mistake. By the time they pulled into Heatherton Hall, Josh was finally getting used to it. The terror had subsided a bit.

Lydia Heatherton received the girls in the parlor. Her mood seemed guarded, and while she welcomed the Campion sisters cordially, there was an underlying sense of trepidation. Or at least it seemed that way to Josh. That feeling was confirmed when she pulled him aside. “You’ll have to watch those two,” she said. “When they are away from mum and dad they have a tendency to get into some naughty scrapes. Because they are family, when they do, that reflects upon Heatherton Hall. Right now is not a good time for raunchy behavior,” she sniffed.

Well, now, what am I supposed to do? Josh heard her, but he sighed to himself. Two girls on holiday here? He wasn’t some sort of nursemaid.

The new earl spent the next several days going over the books and being instructed by Griggs in the ways of manor life appropriate for a man of his new station in life . He met all the staff and resolved to memorize each one’s name. What he realized was that the manor was a business. Tenants worked the land and paid rent to the Hall. He made a mental note that, at some point, he’d have to meet the tenants personally to get a sense of how this was going to work. He still wasn’t sure he was cut out for all of this.

He didn’t see much of Gwyneth. She seemed preoccupied with the developers but, thankfully, no more riots had broken out. He vowed that when he had the time, he’d address that problem. Right now, just learning the ropes was a full time job. He was grateful that things seemed quiet.

The quiet was shattered by Gwyneth. It was a Friday night, late, when she burst through the front door just before Lydia was about to retire.

“We have an emergency!” she declared.

“What on earth?” said Lydia Heatherton. She was halfway up the stairs to her room and had turned to observe an obviously agitated Gwyneth in the foyer, waving her arms.

Josh was in the study and heard the commotion. He emerged in time to hear Gwyneth describe the situation.

“It’s Amanda and Felicity,” she said. “They’re at the Three Bells in Carlisle—Andy Sedgwick just gave me a call to say that they are drunk and dancing on the table and things are getting ugly.” Seeing Josh’s perplexed look she said, “Andy is a tenant. He was in there having a pint and saw them come in with some boys. Things heated up from there.”

“What are they doing there? They are under age. You must be twenty-one on Oakton Island.” This from the family matriarch.

“Yes, Granny, I know. That’s why we have to go get them. The constables could be on the way any minute.”

“Yes, of course. We’ll leave immediately.” There was steely determination in Lydia Heatherton’s voice when she answered. All thought of retiring for the night was gone. This was a mission to save the family honor. “And when I get them home... ooh! Cranston was much too lenient on those girls the last time.”

“What’s going on?” said Josh.

“Come. There is not a minute to lose. Andy will help, but he said it’s shaping up like a brawl between the locals and the construction workers brought in by the developers.” Gwyneth rousted William, the chauffeur. They all piled into the car and made for the Three Bells.

It was a raucous scene inside. A crowd surrounded Amanda and Felicity, who were up on a table, bumping and grinding, as watchers hooted, whistled, and clapped. That the pair was inebriated was obvious. The issue was how to extract the girls before the constables arrived.

“You are going to have to fetch them, Mr. Fairchild. If they are carted off to jail I’ll never hear the end of it from Melinda Campion-—that’s their mother,” the countess added for Josh’s benefit. “Spoiled those girls rotten, I say.”

From what Josh had heard about justice on Oakton Island, his first thought was that maybe being hauled off to the slammer would  serve them right. Something about a matron and her whippy birch rod? But Lydia Heatherton clearly did not want that to happen, so Josh enlisted William and Andy Sedgwick and they waded in. Josh affected his best authoritative pose, head high, hands on hips, and boomed out. “Okay, girls, party’s over. Time to go home.”

Amanda stopped, looked at Josh, and giggled. She grabbed Felicity and pointed at him. “Look, Felicity, it’s none other than the bloomin’ Earl of Carlisle, come to rescue us.”

“We don’t need rescuing, Your Lordship,” shouted Felicity above the din. Then she elbowed Amanda and both girls broke into uncontrollable laughter.

“You’re coming with me, right now,” said Josh, shouting above the noise and trying his best to project authority.

“No!” shouted Amanda. “We’re having too much fun.” And she stuck her tongue out at him.

“Time to wade in, boys,” said Josh. Andy and William nodded and they started forward. But they were met with resistance.

“Whoa, whoa, lads. The girls are just havin’ a bit of fun,” said a particularly enthusiastic patron with a mug in his hand. “Who you think you lads are, anyway?” A trio of patrons formed a wall between them and the girls, blocking their way.

“He’s the new Earl of Carlisle and these girls are in his charge,” said William. “And I’ll trouble you to stand aside.”

“The earl, is it? I never seen one o’ those before. Hey, boys, we got us some royalty here. Better let his highness through.” But they didn’t move.

“He’s not from here,” Andy muttered in Josh’s ear. “Neither are the others. They’re with that construction crew building those houses.”

“The girls are coming with us,” said Josh. But he saw what was developing and things looked ugly. It would be helpful if Amanda and Felicity would cooperate, but they seemed content to stand  there and giggle while Josh attempted to deal with the situation before the police arrived. Josh tried to squeeze between two of the girls’ new defenders, but a guy grabbed his arm. He elbowed the man in the solar plexus.

And all hell broke loose. Fists flew, bottles broke. There was squealing and yelling. Somehow Josh got to Amanda and threw her over his shoulder. Kicking and screaming, she angrily pounded her fists on his back. Her heel flew back and hit Josh in his nose and it started to bleed. A thrown bottle clunked him in the head. Andy grabbed Felicity and hustled her through the melee. By this time islanders and outsiders had gotten into it, and inside the pub, things had escalated into a full-scale brawl. But Josh and his entourage had made their escape. In the distance he could hear the whine of sirens approaching. “Let’s go,” he said, and they managed to cram all seven of them into the car and speed away.


“Just what did you two think you were doing in that pub?” Lydia Heatherton was furious. They were now back at the manor and the girls were sitting side by side on a couch in the study while their great-aunt railed at them. “Your behavior was atrocious. What would your parents say? Think of the shame you bring on the family acting like that. How did you get into that pub anyway? You are under age on Oakton Island.”

The girls sat there, sullen and pouting. Josh leaned against the desk, a cloth filled with ice pressed to his face. He didn’t think the nose was broken, but he wasn’t sure. His head throbbed where the bottle had hit it. Gwyneth watched the scene with a bemused detachment. A knock on the door interrupted the dowager countess’ tirade. A minute later Griggs ushered the island constables into the study. The badges said “Robinson” and “Pelham.”

“Beggin’ your pardon, Lady Heatherton, but it seems that a couple of your household were implicated in a bit of row this evening. We got orders to take ’em in until we get it all sorted out. There was allegations these girls was under age,” said Robinson, apparently the leader of the team. “The penalty for a minor in possession of alcohol, public drunkenness, lewd behavior, and inciting a riot could be a dozen with the island birch,” he added, looking pointedly at Amanda and Felicity.

That finally got the girls’ attention. “Auntie, please do something. Don’t let them take us to that jail,” pleaded Amanda, now panicked.

Josh mused that in view of the constable’s pronouncement, they were well aware of what could happen in that jail. His mind wandered back to that discussion on the ferry about the matron and the birch rod. The girls had been here before. Surely they had known about the island’s “quaint” custom. That actually seemed appropriate for a pair of underage girls gone wild in a pub.

Lydia Heatherton considered this for a moment, then she spoke. “As you know, constable, tradition holds that Heatherton Hall has imposed discipline on its own when necessary to preserve decorum and decency. In the past the Earl of Carlisle has taken up that duty personally.”

“Beggin’ your pardon, Lady Heatherton, but the earl, rest his soul, is dead,” said Constable Robinson.

“No, he’s not,” said Lydia Heatherton. “Constable, meet Joshua Fairchild, the new Earl of Carlisle.”

For a moment Constable Robinson was silent, assessing the situation. Then he set his lips, nodded to himself and said, “If you and the new earl here can assure me that these ladies will be dealt with, maybe there’s no need to haul them in. Do I have your word?”

Lydia Heatherton glared at her great-nieces and spoke in a voice that left no doubt as to her intent. “You have my word that these two will be dealt with most severely, and you’ll not see this behavior again.” She turned toward Josh. “If the earl agrees, of course.”

Josh eyed Amanda and Felicity, who quailed under his direct gaze. He was angry enough, that was for sure. These little madams needed a good... well, he’d figure out what. “As the earl, and speaking for Heatherton Hall, you have my word, constable,” he said evenly.

“Well, then,” said the constable, “we’d best leave you now to sort things out.” He tipped his hat and Griggs escorted them out.

Josh fixed Amanda and Felicity with a steely gaze. “We’ll deal with this in the morning,” he said. He watched as the two girls were ushered out by Lydia Heatherton, who continued to scold them all the way up the stairs.

“What do you intend to do?” asked Gwyneth. She was intrigued now. This was a different side of Josh Fairchild.

“I have an idea or two.”

Something tells me that his idea will not appeal to Amanda or Felicity in the slightest.
From Hermione's Heart


Roz said...

Hi Hermione,

This is a wonderful story, looking forward to reading more :) Amanda and Felicity deserve whatever Josh has planned. He seems to be coming to grips with the workings of the Island and Heatherington Hall nicely :)


opsimath said...

... unfortunately, today's installment does not contain any spanking, so skip it if you wish.

While it is always good to get to the 'meat and potatoes' of a story such as this one, Rollin's command of the language and his wonderful ability to tell the story would mean missing an important part of this story's fullness and beauty.

I don't think many of your followers are so much into instant gratification that they would willingly miss anything written by the master.

Thank you once again, Hermione. My very best wishes to you and yours as I wait for Chapter 2a.


ronnie said...

Yes a good build up. Thank you, Hermione. Looking forward to reading more.


Enzo said...

Hi Hermione -

Thanks for sharing this great read! Really looking forward to hearing about Amanda and Felicity facing their consequences.


Hermione said...

Roz - He has taken up the reins (or should that be 'canes') of responsibility.

Opsimath - I agree, few people would want to pass over this excellent piece of writing.

Ronnie - You will really enjoy part 2.

Enzo - I assure you, they will be dealt with every effectively.