© Copyright 2015 - Charlotte Arabella Graham - Used by permission
Storycodes: Solo-M; F/m; cd; latex; maid; uniform; heels; corset; chast; service; training; public; hum; cons; X
Ms Westbury sat at her large desk set in the bay window looking out over the garden. Light fell on the face of her visitor.
“So, Ms Sinclair, why are you applying for this position?”
Cecilia looked down at her hands when she replied. “Well, Ms Westbury, I think that I would be very good at it.”
Ms Westbury gave a slight cough, as much as to say, ‘perhaps’, and stared at her. Cecilia met her gaze for a moment, before looking down again.
“Do you understand all of the requirements that I have for this position?”
Cecilia fidgeted with the sleeve on her blouse and tried to get into a slightly more comfortable position on the hard stool she had been given to sit on while Ms Westbury carefully read through the reference she had brought with her.
Simon Sinclair was teased at school. He liked classical music, not pop; he would much rather stay indoors, making things or reading rather than be out playing ball games.
Not surprisingly, he got the nick-names at school, ‘Simply Simon’ was one but, in the end, it was, ‘Sissy Sinclair’, that stuck. When, then, it came to choosing a new first name, Cecilia was the one that seemed to be, ‘right.’
Until not so long ago he had been successful; too successful some might say in retrospect, in his career. He had been successively promoted to be one of the two persons second in command in the organisation. All seemed well until, one morning, he was summoned to the Chief Executive’s office and told by the Chairman that his services were no longer required.
Shattered, he didn’t want to know himself.
On the way home that night he had picked up a stray newspaper as it blew across the side walk. Angry that someone had so carelessly dropped the litter he was about to bin it when he felt that there was something odd about it. What was it? The paper, the print? Then it clicked, it wasn’t an American paper at all; it was pages from a British one. It was quite clean and could not have been there very long. However, there was no one in sight who could have dropped it.
“I wonder how they handle the news on the other side of the Atlantic?” he thought, so instead of dropping it in a bin, he put the newspaper in his briefcase to read later at home, after all, he now had nothing else to do.
He propped the British newspaper up on the table as he ate his supper. It was quite different. More international news, stuff about politicians of whom he had never heard. He thumbed through to the sports pages, cricket, totally incomprehensible he decided after a very few seconds. Skipping that section, while persuading himself that he was looking for job advertisements, he came across a page of small personal advertisements and scanned his eyes over them. The usual sort of ‘Man seeks woman, woman seeks man’ kind. Then one at the bottom of the page leaped out at him
Successful businesswoman seeks a live-in maid and occasional travelling companion. The successful candidate will be disciplined, intelligent, resourceful, but willing to be totally obedient. Employment will be on an, ‘all found’, basis and will be subject at all times to strict, flat extra, dress code.
The advertisement went on to give where to send a CV and other details.
He re-read it a couple of times, though he could not quite put his finger on a reason, the wording seemed a bit strange. He tossed the paper to one side and did something else. Clearing up the next day, doing my maid’s chores as he thought of it, he came across the advert again. Suddenly, he realised what was funny about the wording. It was the, ‘flat extra’, that appeared, seemingly out of place, in the middle the bit about dress code, surely it was latex, lightly disguised! The maid was going to have to wear a latex uniform, perhaps even when acting as travelling companion. It was all too tempting. He just had to know more. He typed out a letter, the CV suitably doctored to be ambiguous about matters of gender, and set off for the box.
In his mind Simon read and re-read the advertisement. Should he? Could he? But a live-in maid, and in England too. And as a woman, it was one of his fantasies. He had played the role of maid for a long time, but this was altogether more serious. To become a full-time lady’s maid would be to finally cut the thread.
An hour later found Simon, now Cecilia, was returning from the Post. The job was done. An application was set to wing its way across the Atlantic.
‘Well, why not?’ he had thought, ‘Nothing will come of it this far away.’
Then, ten days later a letter from England dropped into the box; it contained a one-way air ticket and a request to attend for interview the following week.
Cecilia became aware of Ms Westbury’s stare.
“I think so. You are looking for a maid to work in your household. To cook and clean and that sort of thing.”
There was a short silence.
“Is that all? I think that it would be as well if you were to read my advertisement again before we proceed.” Ms Westbury handed her a copy of the newspaper clipping.
“When I say, ‘strict traditional uniform code’, I mean just that. And training. Your references seem reasonable, though I have no personal knowledge of your previous employers. Normally I would not take on gels from the former Colonies. Experience suggests that their understanding of even the most basic skills leaves much to be desired. However, I was impressed by your letter and, as you have had the initiative to make the crossing to come for this interview, it does show a certain keenness; that is to the good. I must confess that I am in urgent need of a new maid and all the other applicants were quite useless so, if you wish, consider yourself hired. Otherwise you may have the fare home. I must stress that I expect nothing but perfection, in a maid as in everything else. There will be no such word as ‘can’t’ in your vocabulary. If there is something that you are unable to do, you will be trained. After which there will be no excuse. While here you will have no need for money, everything will be provided. If you will give me a list of any commitments that you may have in the United States I will arrange for them to be dealt with, otherwise your stipend will be paid into an interest bearing escrow account until such time as you leave my service.”
“So, do you wish to be engaged?”
Cecilia’s mind gave a little mental gulp.
“Yes”, she nodded. “Oh yes please, Ms Westbury” Cecilia blurted out.
“When you speak to me you will address me as, ‘Ma’am’ accompanied with a curtsey as you will, it should be unnecessary to say, never be seated in my presence unless I should happen to give you permission. On answering the telephone you may announce that it is, ‘Ms Westbury’s residence’. Should it then be necessary to refer to me you will say ‘Ma’am’ or more specifically ‘The Governess’.
“Now follow me and I will show you to your room.”
Cecilia followed her new mistress up three flights of stair, each steeper and narrower than its predecessor. The last stair was behind a small door at the side of the second landing, made to look like the passage so one could easily walk passed it without noticing. Unlike the lower ones these were uncarpeted so the Mistress’s high heels rapped out a tattoo on the bare wood. At the top the stairs opened on to a small room lit by a ceiling light. There was little furniture. A bare scrubbed pine table, an uncomfortable-looking wooden chair tucked under one end stood on a small square of carpet that had long ago seen its best days. To one side there was a bookcase. No fiction, just cookery books and ones on deportment and manners, and old ones at that, was all, Cecilia’s furtive glance revealed.
“Your bed room is in here”, the Mistress said, leading the way through to a second small room, very much like the first, with a narrow bed pushed up against one wall. On the wall at right angle to it wash stand with jug and basin and what, Cecilia realised to her horror and disgust, was a commode without even a lid to hid the chamber pot slung beneath it.
A wardrobe filled the other wall. Ms Westbury flung it open.
“There can, of course, be no concessions as to gender. Also, there are certain matters appertaining to dress upon which I am quite insistent. What you chose to wear here in your own rooms I will not dictate, however, outside you are on duty; and when on duty you will be in full uniform unless I order to the contrary. You will have a number of uniforms for various activities and times of the day. They will be hung up here in sets to that there can be no confusion about what you will wear.”
“Some you may at first find a little uncomfortable to wear. That will pass, and certainly they could be made much more so if desired. In the past I have had unfortunate experiences with gels who considered that they knew better than I what was correct and have sought to go about their duties improperly attired. The last such I recently dismissed without references. In consequence I have the adopted the following policy.”
“With each uniform you will find a collar of appropriate design to be worn with it or integrated into the dresses high neck. Having put everything on, you simply attach the dress, usually by its zipper slide, to the collar with this padlock.” She picked up a lock from a hook at the rear of the wardrobe and held it out for Cecilia to hold. She gave a shudder as the cold lump of brass fell into her hand.
“There are two keys, one is for me. This other is for you to use.”
She again reached to the back of the cupboard, this time bringing out a key attached to a short length of stout chain, the other end being securely fastened to the rear planking.
“The chain means, course, that you will not unfasten any dress outside of this room.”
“I also find”, she went on, “that some gels are a trifle confused about the height of heels they should wear and their waist sizes. You will adhere to the following very simple rules. You must ensure that your waist is no more than a third of your height while, for general use, heels must be no less an eighteenth. For more special occasions, for example in front of guests, two inches smaller waist and two inches higher heels, are appropriate; I suggest that you should practice walking in the latter.
“It is a trifle old-fashioned working in inches, I know, but it has a certain ring about it. I do not require you initially to have the same figure as a Gautier perfume bottle, but you must acquire such as soon as possible. To that end you will wear a training corset twenty-four hours a day. Over the corset you will wear a girl’s chastity belt, suitably adapted, with thigh-bands, again the key is on chain. If you wish you may start taking hormones however, until such time as they are fully effective, the belt will avoid any accidents and at the same time painfully suppress any erection should it occur. I should, perhaps, add that the shoes are one size smaller than you have stated. That will make your feet look daintier.”
“In your application you told me that your natural waist size is a rather generous twenty-six inches. You should, therefore, have no difficulty in lacing that down to twenty-two however, as a concession, I will initially permit twenty-four. Realise that is only for a short time. I expect an improvement of not less than one inch every six weeks. I may, of course, decide to make a spot check at any time when you are on duty.”
Cecilia mentally shuddered at the thought of being laced to twenty-two inches, ‘as a concession’, especially as she had been less than accurate in making her application. That twenty-six had been more like a rather generous twenty-seven, and she suspected Ms Westbury knew it.
“The uniforms”, Ms Westbury went on, pointing to those in the wardrobe, “are just stop-gaps. Now I know that you will be joining me I will order a full set in you proper size, they will take a few days to arrive so you will have to make do with a restricted range until then. Here is a tape measure and a size chart. I have already entered the waist measurement that you gave me. Please fill in the rest after you come off duty and give it to me at breakfast tomorrow morning.”
“I will give you a piece of advice. When I was young I was taught, in such a way as I would never forget, that though there are absolute physical limits to everything, they are often not only beyond what you think they are but beyond what you can imagine them to be. When you’ve laced your corset so that you think you won’t ever be able to breathe again, make it tighter; when your heels are so high that you think your ankles will break, toss them in the rubbish bin and find a higher pair. Tierry Mugler, the fashion designer, said in Paris, ‘Comfort, who cares about comfort? What matters is style!’ If you push you will amaze yourself; if you push really hard you will amaze everyone else. But if you do neither all you do cheat yourself, you will be miserable and no one will care.”
“Now, as it is past three o’clock, you should be in your parlour maid’s uniform. I expect to be served coffee in the garden room at four sharp. That is not three fifty-five, nor five past four.” Ms Westbury handed Cecilia the desired uniform then turned on her heel and was gone.
Cecilia listened to the diminishing sound of her heels on the stairs and started to cry. What had she done?
It was Saturday afternoon. A week had gone by since Cecilia had taken up her post as maid. The number of times in a day she was chided for doing things incorrectly had tapered to a mere handful and her new existence had started to settle into some sort of rhythm. The day before two large parcels and a somewhat smaller one had arrived, addressed to Ms Westbury. They proved to be her new uniforms. One group Cecilia did not like the look of at all. They were made of heavy latex and she could not imagine working in them would be at all comfortable; especially as Ms Westbury, in front of whom she was opening the parcels, dismissed them with the comment that, ‘they were for use when carrying out wet work or when she had to be outside if raining.’
The other parcel’s contents were more to her liking, the dresses being essentially of black satin with white trimmings. The smaller parcel Ms Westbury had insisted should be saved until last.
What she found inside took Cecilia’s breath away, quite literally. Inside were four corsets, two covered in satin, two in latex intended, clearly, to go with the uniforms. The waists so nipped in the thought of having to wear them frightened her. Ms Westbury caught Cecilia’s expression.
“What is the problem, Cecilia? They are only a trifle smaller than the size you told me.”
“Oh, it’s just fine, Ma’am”, she replied, “They are all so nice, I was well, just a bit overwhelmed.”
Cecilia could tell that Ms Westbury didn’t believe her.
So on this day she was wearing a black satin dress, of the classic French maid style, its diminutive skirt held out by a cloud of white petticoats beneath which it was possible to catch brief glimpses of frilly panties. As she cleared away lunch, as she now made sure she called the meal in the middle of the day. “Luncheon is a pretentious neologism used by the uneducated who know no better”, she had been told on her first day. “If in doubt, consult Fowler, a copy of the 1926 edition of which you will find on your reference shelf.”
Ms Westbury looked up from her copy of the Financial Times.
“It being Saturday, I expect to have a written report on the state of the pantry. Are there any provisions that require replacing?”
Oh, gosh, yes, that was one the innumerable items on the list of tasks stuck to the inside of her wardrobe door. Cecilia improvised.
“We are mostly all right, Ma’am, though a bit low on regular things, like bread and milk.”
“Very good, as you have failed to provide a shopping list with which to arrange for their delivery, you will have to go and fetch them.”
“Like this?” Cecilia asked, suddenly frightened of be seen in public in uniform.
Ms Westbury glanced at her watch.
“Yes, why not?” she demanded. “You should be back before three so the morning uniform is correct and there is no likelihood of rain so …” Ms Westbury paused and was thoughtful for a moment. “Unless, yes, why not? Cecilia, I think I am becoming senile.”
Cecilia shook her head, “No Ma’am.”
“Don’t contradict me. Why did I not I think of that before? Cecilia, go and change into a latex uniform of the same style as the one you have on, latex stockings and cap and gloves. You know how to polish them don’t you? Good. Be in the garage in fifteen minutes. I will go with you this time to ensure you do not get lost. Hurry now I have other things to do.”
Cecilia arrived at the garage with seconds to spare, out of breath and already sticky. The net fills of the satin uniforms petticoat were one thing, the nimbus of white latex that now held out a skirt that seemed if anything to be even shorter was an altogether different proposition.
Ms Westbury looked at her watch.
“Just in time. We will take the BMW. You may drive, I will ride in the rear. Perhaps I should order a chauffeuses uniform?” she added as an afterthought.
In near panic of the thought of having to drive a strange car, on the wrong side of the road, Cecilia opened a rear door for Ms Westbury to enter, then returned to the front.
“The other side, my dear.” Ms Westbury called out, as she was about to get in on the left. Cecilia could almost hear her sigh and mutter, ‘Colonials’, under her breath.
Fortunately the car was an automatic. That minimised the footwork necessary to drive it. She hadn’t a clue how she could have manage delicate clutch work in those heels, especially having to shift gear with the wrong hand. As it was working the accelerator and brake pedals with four inch spikes sticking out of each heel required maximum concentration and she gingerly eased the vehicle out of the garage down the windy gravel drive and on to the road. The road was a quiet one, little more than a wide country lane, but to Cecilia it seemed as narrow as if she were threading a needle down it. Everything was on the wrong side. The car felt huge, ‘Oh please, let nothing come the other way’, she prayed.
Two miles on they came to the traffic island at the entrance to the housing estate where the supermarket was situated. Cecilia was on the verge of going round it in an anti-clockwise direction when a voice from the rear called out, “Keep to the left.” She yanked the car over just in time to see the angry face of another car driver coming the other way.
“Phew, that was a close one”, she thought. “Sounds as if Ms W is a bit on edge too”.
Drawing into the car park a few minutes later Ms Westbury pointed to a corner far from the shop.
“I think”, she said”, that we should pull in over there, away from the rest of the cars, so you have more room to manoeuvre”.
Having stopped, Cecilia was sent off to collect a trolley. The warmth in the car and her petrifying drive had made her hot and sweaty, now she shivering in the cool late afternoon air, the latex dress clung clammily to her.
“Why did she have to wear it?” she wondered for the umpteenth time.
The collection of trolleys on offer showed signs of having been picked over by busy shoppers during the day. An experimental push showed that each of them had a mind of its own regarding the direction in which it wanted to travel. Eventually she found one that went in a reasonably straight line, except that it squeaked abominably in the process. Cecilia returned pushing it with both hands on the crossbar.
Ms Westbury was holding something behind her back.
“You look so pretty, just to make sure no one runs off with you I’ll just slip this round your wrist”. Before she could pull back Cecilia found her right wrist attached to the trolley by a handcuff. She leapt back with a little squeal, but to no avail, Ms Westbury simply pretended not to notice.
“Here is my version of a shopping list to replace the one that you failed to produce. If there is anything that you think we need or you would like add it on, please do so. Now off you go. I must make some telephone calls. I shall come and find you in a few minutes”.
A disconsolate Cecilia trailed up and down the rows. She didn’t know which was worst, the squeak of the wretched trolley or, try as she might, the scraping of her heels on the terrazzo-tiled floor. People stared at her; everyone in the shop was doing so, she felt. Her maid’s dress with its diminutive skirt and billowing petticoats was bad enough, but it was in kinky latex too. At first she tried to shrink and hide in herself. Then she realised that attack was the best defence.
“You are all right”, she told herself, “It’s the others that are different”. Later that night musing on the day’s events she realised that that had been part of the devious Ms Westbury’s plan. She had not been making ‘phone calls at all but had been discreetly watching to intervene if she had not been able to cope with the stress. It was all designed to make her completely self-reliant. But at the time she had felt anything but.
Mentally chanting her mantra, she pulled herself up and she marched down the aisles awkwardly filling the trolley to the brim with her free left hand. Some pointed remarks and giggles from a knot of schoolgirls nearly broke her resolve, but, in a flush of anger, she pushed the trolley towards them.
“Excuse me, I have work to do, and shouldn’t you be at school?”
She grabbed something from the self where the girls were standing and dropped it in with the other things, then continued her march, leaving them staring open mouthed after her. When she eventually looked down at the trolley to see what she had picked up she saw it was a packet of large tampons. Eventually she spotted Ms Westbury.
“What in the name of Goodness is that?” demanded Ms Westbury, pointing to the packet of tea.
“Tea, Ma’am, I quite like a cup sometimes”.
“Yes, I can see it purports so to be. I am able to read the packet, even from this distance. Put it back. As you know I only drink coffee, however, if there is to be tea in my house it shall be at least Earl Gray and not those excuses done up in little bags”.
Glumly Cecilia wheeled the trolley back along the rows, its squeaky wheel and the sound of her heels on the terrazzo seeming to draw even more attention to her. She dutifully returned with a packet of Earl Gray.
“Why?” she wondered as she trailed back, she didn’t even like it. And why, she wondered, did she feel obliged to do anything and everything that Ms Westbury ordered?
Ms Westbury handed Cecilia a purse.
“Pay for the groceries in cash Cecilia. That way you will more quickly learn to recognise the notes. At least ours are different sizes and colours, not just misty green”.
Cecilia fumbled through the unfamiliar money, loaded the bags into the trolley and raced to catch up with the already receding Ms Westbury and be out of the dreadful place.
“You did very well handling the change in those gloves”. She said over her shoulder. “Have you been practicing? I must get you some heavier weight ones for the future”.
Ms Westbury waited, hands on hips as Cecilia loaded the groceries into the boot of the car.
“You may wonder why I ordered you to wear that latex outfit. Well, in addition to doing the weekend shopping, which you will now do every week as you know where everything is, it occurred to me that the car was in urgent need of a wash. As well as the drive-through, they have here a jet wash system using a high-pressure lance. Anyone using it seems to get absolutely soaked. I would never use it myself, but dressed as you are it should be quite interesting to watch”.
Cecilia heard the characteristic sound of Ms Westbury’s car on the drive and rushed, if that was the appropriate word for the agonisingly slow top speed her parlour maid’s dresses allowed, to be in time to open the front door.
Cecilia smoothed her apron and straightened her maid’s cap then, judging the moment, opened the massive door and gave a deep curtsey.
“Good afternoon, Cecilia”. She gave her maid a quick scan, as there was no adverse comment Cecilia concludes that she must at last be getting things right. The last week had been one of constant criticism, direct or implied. Completing all her scheduled tasks in the day while remaining ‘pretty’ was hard enough, but now she had also to contend with the heavy encumbrance of her ‘proper’ uniforms, those that had come, under which she was now wearing a rigid corset that she had to lace down to a twenty-five inch waist in order to get the dresses fastened. It had so many bones she felt that a whole whale must have been sacrificed to make it, oh why had she been so silly as to boast a waist so much smaller than it actually was. Come to that why had she been so silly as to come here anyway. Except she was enjoying it in an odd kind of way.
“It has been a very good day, today”, Ms Westbury went on. “I need to celebrate. Open a bottle of Dom Pérignon and bring me a glass, I will be in the Jacuzzi in the gym. Use the plastic ones, glass and bare feet do not go together”.
A few minutes later Cecilia was making her way, balancing a tall flute of champagne on a tray, to the conservatory in which was housed an indoor swimming pool with a wide range of exercise equipment at its side. Her feet were getting tired; she had been on heels all day and the shoes pinched horribly. All went well until the very last moment, and then a piece of coconut matting at the entrance to the gym got the better of her. A heel caught in a loop and she stumbled, she landing on her face on the floor, the glass in the pool.
There was a silence.
Cecilia looked up to see her enraged Mistress scowling down at her.
“Am I to be punished?” Cecilia asked in a whisper, expecting the worst.
“Punished, no, trained yes. One must distinguish carefully between training and punishment the purposes of which are quite distinct. The purpose of training is to condition the mind and body so that they carry out a task to perfection automatically and without thinking. Punishment is quite to opposite. Its purpose is to condition the mind so that the idea of repeating what lead to the punishment never again enters it; and if in public to dissuade the masses also. For now you are in need of training. Once trained, any lapse will naturally risk punishment”.
“Do not move a millimetre”, she was told.
Ms Westbury wrapped herself in a towel and went back into the main house, returning a few minutes later with two champagne flutes, a tray and a pair of shoes. Standing by a jogging machine she called Cecilia over to her.
“Change into these shoes”, she ordered.
The shoes’ heels were even higher than those she had been wearing. At least seven inches she thought, maybe a bit more, with the tiniest turn at the end that bent the toes in an uncomfortable sharp right-angle. While she changed her shoes Ms Westbury dipped one of the glasses in the pool, used it to half fill the second one and placed both of them on the tray.
“What are you waiting for?” she demanded. “Get on to the machine”.
She clipped a leash to the D-ring in front of Cecilia’s collar and attached the other end with a lock to the front of the machine.
“Are you ready?” She asked.
“Yes Ma’ma”, Cecilia replied remembering to make a little bob of a courtesy.
She switched on the tread-mill, adjusting the speed to a brisk walking pace. Cecilia, recovering her balance after almost tumbling when that machine started into motion, settled into a pattern of rapid short steps dictated by the narrowness of the parlour maid dress’s skirt.
To Cecilia’s horror, Ms Westbury handed her the tray with its precariously perched glasses.
“I will return in fifteen minutes. Do not spill any water”.
Within seconds the glasses fell over and their contents shared between the tray and the tread mill’s track. Moments later one of the glasses, that much to Cecilia’s relief turned out to be plastic, followed its water to the floor.
The machine carried on relentlessly at the same almost impossible pace. Cecilia could not, dare not try to get off. Suddenly, after fifteen minutes, it stopped. On cue Ms Westbury appeared and walked over to the panting Cecilia, picked up the glasses refilled them, placed them back on the tray and restarted the machine.
This time she did better. It was a full five minutes before the first glass wobbled and fell. The second survived for twice as long.
Once more the machine stopped and Ms Westbury reappeared. Without a word and hardly a glance at the poor maid who, as well as being out of breath was sweating profusely, the training was restarted. Five minutes, ten minutes, twelve, thirteen, her arms were aching the tray felt like a lead weight, fourteen. The glasses began to wobble then, seconds before time was up one fell over. Cecilia burst into tears as Mr Westbury re-entered.
She seemed to have not scintilla of sympathy. The grasses were reset and, for the fourth time Cecilia found herself walking as fast as she could.
‘I’ll show the old witch’, she though focussing very last bit of her attention on those dreadful glasses. This time they stayed upright.
Ms Westbury returned after the allotted time.
“Well done Cecilia, well done. That’s really difficult. A lot of gels never do manage it. I’m sure that you are ringing wet. Why don’t you use the Jacuzzi then put on one of the dressing gowns until you can wash and iron your dress. Then you can show off you hard-won skills and bring me a drink. But keep the shoes on. It would be a pity to waste all that hard earned skill of walking in them. I think we can regard that height of heel as standard from now on”, she added with a smile.
“Thank you Ma’am”, said Cecilia with a curtsey, then, emboldened by Ms Westbury’s sudden change of heart. “May I ask a question, Ma’am?”
“Yes, of course Cecilia. What is it?”
“What would have happened if I had spilt the glasses again, a forth time?”
“Oh, that’s simple. You would have stayed on the machine as long as necessary until you learned not to spill them”.
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story continues in Ms Westbury's Niece 2: Secrets