© Copyright 2015 - Charlotte Arabella Graham - Used by permission
Storycodes: F/m; M/f; cd; latex; maid; uniform; leather; clothing; heels; corset; hood; boots; chast; service; drug; kidnap; outdoors; molest; hum; cons/nc; X
Part Three: France
For the next few days the letter played on Ms Westbury’s mind. She was usually grumpy and Cecilia, redoubling her efforts to do everything to perfection, studiously avoided the subject. Eventually it got too much for her. Taking morning coffee to the study she noticed the letter was again on the desk. Ms Westbury had pushed back her chair and was staring up at the ceiling wrapped in thought. Cecilia put down the tray and began to pour. Ms Westbury came back from her reveries.
“What shall I do, Cecilia?” She asked.
“Well, Ma’am, I’ve been thinking, you can’t very well not go to the meeting, and you can’t not go in the dress, so how about that we go and see if we can find it?”
“Of course you are right. It is obvious that there never has been any choice, it is just that I do so hate being forced into a corner and being told what to do”.
“Yes, Ma’am”, Cecilia agreed out of courtesy. She was always being told what to do.
They went upstairs together to the walk-in wardrobe. Ms Westbury started opening and closing cupboards and pulling out drawers. Either she had forgotten where she had put the thing, hardly likely Cecilia thought, or she was deliberately trying not to find them so as to make some last minute excuse. Cecilia, however, knew exactly where they were. She had gone looking for them the day of the letter in anticipation of exactly what was happening now. She waited for five minutes. Then, after pretending to look in a few places at random, open the cupboard where they were stored.
“Are these they?” she asked hoping that her voice did not give away the fact that she knew all the time.
“Yes”, said Ms Westbury. She sounded almost disappointed.
“It’s super”, enthused Cecilia, holding the dress in front of her, its hanger in one hand while she used the other to fight against the frills of her maid’s uniform and smooth it to her.
“Shall I carry it all to your bedroom so you can try it on?”
She didn’t give her mistress time to decline the offer but marched off down the corridor carrying an arm full of red rubber, a still reluctant Ms Westbury trailing behind bemused, and increasingly amused, at this new positive attitude of her maid.
Cecilia laid the things out on the bed, suspender belt, stockings, shoulder length gloves and a helmet with ponytail tube and, in much heavier weight material, but in the same vibrant red, the dress itself. By the time Ms Westbury had arrived, Cecilia had brought a big towel from the bathroom, spread it out on the bedroom floor and was waiting beside it, a large can of talc in hand.
Ms Westbury stripped to her undies.
“Just the dress for the moment”, she said grumpily. “It won’t fit”.
She stepped into the skirt and Cecilia started to work. To say that the dress was tight would be an understatement. A double-ended zip ran from hem to waist, above that lacing from the waist upwards fastened the boned strapless bodice. Even with Ms Westbury helping by stretching the latex behind her Cecilia had a struggle to get the zip up over the hips to the waist. But as there was nothing to hold it there, as soon as she let go of the slider to do the lacing it slid down again. With each failed attempt she sensed Ms Westbury anger rise a little further.
“Please Ma’am”, she eventually asked, “please could you just hold the slider then I can do the laces and it should be all right?”
Angrily, Ms Westbury grabbed the zip while Cecilia did up the laces as fast as she could. Her prediction was right, as soon as she had pulled the dress tight at the waist calm returned.
“There should be a pair of red shoes with steel spike heels”, she said, trying to kick the excess latex aside to avoid treading on it.
Cecilia scampered off to find them before her Mistress could change her mind, not that, she thought, she could now get out of the dress without her help, a thought that she found wickedly exciting. The shoes were where the other items had been. Red leather, with a pair of wide ankle straps that, she noted with not a little satisfaction, fastened with small pad-locks.
‘Sauce for the goose’, she thought.
However, the real killers were the heels. Even though the platform soles were twelve millimetres thick, the heels of needle fine stainless steel, all of nineteen centimetres.
‘God! Thought Cecilia, ‘I know that Ms W always wears high heels but these were, there was no other word for it, formidable.’
Back in the bedroom Ms Westbury was looking at herself in the cheval mirror.
“To echo Eeyore thoughts in one of the Pooh stories, pathetic”, she said turning to look first a one side, then the other, sucking in her stomach and pushing out her bust, “pathetic. Ten years ago I had the figure for this now I look no so much like Morticia Adams as a red skinned sausage, all bulges and bumps”.
“I think you look just great”, Cecilia tried to encourage.
“How many times have I told you not to contradict me”, Ms Westbury snapped in not altogether convincing anger.
“Where are those shoes? I may as well cripple myself as well as looking a complete fool”.
“Gloves too?” Cecilia offered. Ms Westbury nodded.
Cecilia rolled on the shoulder length red long gloves, smiling to herself as she did so as Ms Westbury started to preen in the mirror. For all the grumbling, she was actually enjoying herself. They both were. I wonder what stories that dress could tell, she wondered. Perhaps there would be an opportunity to ask in Paris.
Most of the next day was spent packing ready to take the Eurostar to Paris following morning.
“What do you wish me to take?” Cecilia asked as she sat on the lid of want she fervently hopes was the last suitcase of Ms Westbury’s things.
“You should always travel light”.
‘You could have fooled me’, thought Cecilia, looking at the mountain of her Mistress’s luggage.
“Just your morning and afternoon uniforms”, Ms Westbury went on.
“Say two satin and one latex of each style plus, if you wish, a few of the toys from the Cupboard that you seem so to enjoy. If you are a good girl I will take you shopping when we are in Paris”.
“What about for the journey?”
“Journey? I don’t see a problem”.
“I only have my uniforms to wear”.
“Yes, well the train leaves at ten o’clock, we will be in Paris before two, local time, so it will be entirely in order for you to be in a morning uniform”.
Cecilia bit her lip then carried on hoping that Ms Westbury would not be angered.
“It’s just”, she hesitated. “It’s just”.
“Out with it girl”, Ms Westbury was getting angry.
“Now or never”, Cecilia screwed up her courage. “Could I have something to wear over my uniform?”
There was a momentary silence as Ms Westbury gave her a cold stare. Seizing the opportunity Cecilia carried on.
“I like my uniforms ever such a lot and I’m very happy going to the supermarket and things, it’s just that at the railway station there a lot of people and some of them might be a bit funny and, well you know…”
Actually, Ms Westbury did ‘know’ much better than she was at present prepared to admit to her maid.
“Ogle”. She prompted. Cecilia nodded.
“All right, in the Cupboard you should find a heavy shiny black latex zip-fronted trench coat that is about your size. In fact, on second thoughts bringing it is a good idea; it has a few novel features that might come in handy to keep you out of mischief in Gay Parrie”.
Cecilia was glad of her coat next morning. They had arrived at St Pancras station, pink in the morning light now that it and its hotel had been rescued from demolition and turned into the rail terminal for trains from Europe.
Ms Westbury entered the station proper and marched past the, Meeting Point sculpture. She waved an arm at it.
“Anthony Gormley was very scathing about it”.
Cecilia tried not to think of anything as she trailed behind pulling the cases. There were far too many strangers about and she felt that all their eyes were on her.
Quickly passing through the check-in they were standing waiting for the train to arrive, a man on hand to deal with the luggage. The wind along the platform was trying to blow Cecilia’s skirts over her head. It was all right for Marilyn Monroe, she mused. At least she was standing over a hot air vent. God, England can be so cold. Even looking at Ms Westbury made her feel cold. Dressed in a fine leather two-piece, she seemed oblivious to the cold. Cecilia snuggled into the coat, sticking her hands deep into the pockets to try to get warm.
“Cecilia”. It was a vexed Ms Westbury. “You are slouching. The way you are standing is a disgrace, slovenly in fact. I thought that you knew better by now, but apparently not. However, even here we can do something about that”.
With two quick movements she pulled on straps at the sides of the coat pockets. To her surprise Cecilia found that she couldn’t take her hands out, they were trapped. Next Ms Westbury pulled the front zip right up closing the coat collar tightly round Cecilia’s neck and revealing a series of straps and buckles that, when tightened turned it into a rigid cervical collar immobilising Cecilia’s head. Finally, the last for the moment, she learned of another of the coat’s many tricks. Under the shoulder cape at the back Ms Westbury adjusted another strap that had the effect of pulling Cecilia’s shoulders back and making her boobs strain dangerously against the coat in front.
“You can stay like that on until we get to the hotel”, she was told. “I could have fixed your elbows together behind you back, but that would make sitting on the train difficult and they do not allow passengers to stand. I hope you are warm enough now”.
Cecilia was sweating, out of embarrassment.
The face of the man was a picture. He had watched all this in quiet amazement. Now he could hardly contain himself ‘til the moment he could go and tell his mates all about it. And why did he feel so randy?
Ms Westbury was clearly very well known at the Paris hotel. When they arrived several other new guests were waiting in line to register. Cecilia was about to join the queue when the manager appeared from nowhere, swept across the foyer and with much ceremony took Ms Westbury’s hand and kissed it.
“Your usual suite is prepared”, he declared in a voice that was simultaneously both the epitome of discretion while also calculated to be heard by the other lesser mortals who were privileged to be staying at his establishment.
The manager escorted Ms Westbury to an ornate open lift that was being held by a bellboy dressed in a classic suit, all shiny brass buttons and frogging. Ms Westbury was bowed in followed by the Manager who immediately closed the door behind him, narrowly avoiding trapping the tails of his morning coat in the process. Cecilia was left standing staring up at the underside of the departing cage. The bellboy gave Cecilia a hard, knowing stare. She didn’t like it a bit.
“Staff lift at the back”, he said pointing. “You want the Presidential suite, seventh floor. See you later”.
“Not if I can help it”, thought Cecilia hurrying in the direction he had indicated. Her French wasn’t good enough to be sure of what he called after her, but she could have a good guess and didn’t like it.
“Time for an afternoon drink, I think”, said Ms Westbury as she watched Cecilia, still in a morning uniform though the time was well past that by which she would normally have changed, put away the last of the clothes”. She picked up the telephone and called room service.
“No, you can-not be of service”, she snapped to the unfortunate who answers the ‘phone. “I wish to speak with Alfonso, tell him it is Ms Westbury, ‘The Governess.’”
With the shortest of delays, Alfonso was on the ‘phone.
“Ah, Alfonso, Lavinia Westbury here, I trust you are well? Would you be so kind as to come up to my suite, I would like some refreshments and to introduce you to my new maid”.
Without waiting for a reply she put the telephone back on its cradle.
A few minutes later there was an almost inaudible tap on the door.
“That will be Alfonso. He is too well trained to ring the bell. Let him in”, ordered Ms Westbury.
A slightly out of breath Alfonso entered and bowed deeply to Ms Westbury. Presumably, Cecilia thought, he had come running at The Governess’ command.
“Alfonso, how nice to see you looking so well, I trust that your current position is proving more satisfactory than the previous one. You will have ensured that your staff is fully aware of my requirements, I am sure”. Alfonso bowed his ascent. “I will be dining out this evening; however, coffee and some of your excellent patisserie would now be pleasant. This”, she pointed to Cecilia whom Alfonso seemed to notice for the first time, “is Cecilia my new maid. The previous one proved to be most unsatisfactory and had to be dismissed without references. Please will you take her down to the pantry; she can bring the tray back. You will take care of her well-being while in the hôtel as she is, perhaps, not quite what she might seem. I would not wish anything unfortunate to occur”.
Alfonso bowed again.
“No, Ms Westbury, certainly not, Ms Westbury”, he said and gave Cecilia an all-comprehending glance and lead the way to the door, clearly with every expectation that she would follow.
Quickly turning though an unmarked hidden door off the lavishly decorated corridor Cecilia found herself in a series of less that elegant corridors and stairs leading to the kitchen in the basement; part of the maze of passages that allowed the needs of the hôtel’s pampered guests to be served with a maximum of discretion. Presumably, Cecilia thought this is one of the places Ms W was talking about where clients can slip in and out unseen.
Her reverie was shattered by a familiar voice.
“Hello, again”, it was the bellboy who had appeared from some cubbyhole. “Nice dress, nice”.
“This is Cecilia, Ms Westbury’s personal maid. Whatever you might have in your mind, scrub it”.
“Personal maid, nice”, the boy continued.
Alfonso swore at the boy who, with one back glance at Cecilia’s fluffed out skirts, swaggered off. Alfonso muttered something offensive under his breath, then to Cecilia.
“I hope that you will not feel it necessary to tell Ms Westbury about that, er, incident. She does not have to know does she? He, that thing, is not part of my department, I do not know what he was doing here”.
“Course not”, Cecilia replied. How odd, she thought what hold has she got on him?
Certainly Alfonso’s kitchen staff was more respectful, both to him and, after an introduction and the establishing of her credentials, to Cecilia. Saying hello in her best French, she gave everyone a little smile, curtseyed to the assembled company, and waited while Alfonso supervised the preparation of a tray of goodies for her to carry upstairs.
Carrying the heavy load of silverware and china all the way up was hard work, even after the practice that she had had back in England. Even by half way she was quite out of breath with legs that were beginning to turn to jelly. She had to force herself to lift one foot above the other to continue climbing the steep stairs, though the main driving force that kept her going was a fear that the bellboy would pop out of one of the dark recesses.
After she had cleared away the remains of the refreshments, Cecilia started to help a still far from pleased Ms Westbury struggle into the red outfit. It seemed that she was determined to find fault with everything. The stockings were not straight. The dress was laced too tight and she could not breathe, then it was too loose so, she claimed, her boobs fell out.
She refused point blank to wear the hood with its ponytail opening.
“It might have been all right for an hour or so when I was younger, but I not going to put up with my hair being pulled out by the roots all night”, she grumbled.
Eventually all was ready. With hardly any time to spare there was a call from the concierge to say that a car was waiting. Cecilia opened the door of the suite.
“Come with me to the car, please dear”, Ms Westbury asked stretching out a hand. It was shaking slightly.
‘She is scared’, Cecilia though.
Ignoring yellow lines and no parking signs, large black car stood waiting outside the main entrance, the chauffeur holding open the rear door.
“Promise to wait up for me”, Ms Westbury whispered as she entered the car.
With a salute the chauffeur closed the door. Then Cecilia noticed the coat of arms drawn discretely on the side, they were those of the Prince.
Time ticked slowly by, half-past one, two o’clock, two thirty. Cecilia was having difficulty staying awake; there was nothing that interested her on the television at that hour and her eyes too tired to read. Just before three the ‘phone rang. She woke with a start from her half-dozing and grabbed the handset.
“‘s that you Cecilia?” it was Ms Westbury, her normally precise voice hardly recognisable, slurred and at the same time raised several tones in panic. “Come and rescue me. Please hurry, and bring your big coat”.
“Where are you?”
“Outside hurry, I think I’m going to pass out again”.
Clearly there was an emergency, Cecilia had never heard Ms Westbury like this, angry yes, but panic, until now inconceivable. Grabbed coat and shoes, she ran bare foot into the corridor to the lift, poking the call button with one hand swearing at the slow response of the antique machinery while trying to climb into her shoes using the other. Once it had arrive and she could wedge herself in a corner of the cabin she managed to get the left shoe on and its locks fitted. Arriving at the ground floor the right shoe still defeated her, her afternoon parlour dress was simply too restrictive.
A crazy thought crossed her mind, Should she really be in a morning uniform?
Jamming the other shoe on unfastened she limped as fast as she could across the hall to the front door where the night porter stood holding it open. For a moment Cecilia wondered where her Mistress could be, there was no limousine. Then she saw someone slumped in the back of a taxi. It was Ms Westbury. What had happened?
With the help of the night porter together they raised the semi-conscious Ms Westbury out of the taxi, wrapped Cecilia’s coat round her shoulders carried her up the steps and balanced her onto a chair in the entrance. Borrowing some money from the porter Cecilia paid off the taxi and returned to the slumped figure of her Mistress. Her dress was split from the hem upwards, only holding together by virtue of some of the stitching that had once held its boning in place. One of her arms was bare, the tatters of a glove being all the remained on the other. The ever-attentive porter appeared with a large glass of cognac. Wondering if it was the right thing to be doing, Cecilia forced a few drops through Ms Westbury’s lips. The lady moaned and opened her eyes.
“Don’t ask”, she said in a slurred voice.
She tried to stand up, immediately collapsing back into the chair.
“Ma’am, shall I send for the hôtel doctor?” the anxious man asked.
“No!” she replied with surprising force, “No, just get me to bed, be all right tomorrow”.
Between them, Cecilia and the porter walked Ms Westbury to the lift and propped her in a decidedly undignified manner in a corner of the cabin.
“I can manage now, thank you very much”, Cecilia assured the man, torn between curiosity about the state of one of the hôtel’s most respected clients and his duty to guard its front door.
“The room’s just opposite the lift”, and pressed the button for their floor.
Just how difficult, ‘managing’, was, became apparent as soon as the lift stopped. The normally tall and erect Ms Westbury had somehow been reduced to the consistence of a limp rag doll; unable to help herself, she stumped half in, half out of the cabin. A single futile attempt was enough to convince Cecilia that her parlour maid’s dress had been styled for elegance, not doing fireman’s lifts.
“Sorry, Ms W”, she murmured under her breath, “but there’s nothing for it”.
Grasping her mistress by the wrists, she pulled her across the carpet. The friction was too much for the remaining structure that finally gave up the attempt to hold together, leaving the tatters of the dress in the corridor as Cecilia struggled and cursed the fiddly sham antique room door lock.
“Oh shit, now what?” she thought. “Don’t say I’ve got to go and get someone to open it. Come on Cecilia. Stop panicking”. She took a deep breath and tried again. The key turned perfectly.
Somehow, Cecilia got Ms Westbury on to her bed. Apart from a few bruises she was, as far as she could tell, all right physically. Certainly there was no sign of any bleeding anywhere. Perhaps she was just very drunk or drugged and had fallen badly or been in some sort of a scuffle. Anyway, there was no way to find out just yet as Ms Westbury, snoring gently, had fallen into a deep sleep. Cecilia tiptoed to her own room. By now there was a pale glimmer of light in the sky. It would be dawn soon. Way past being tired, Cecilia lay on her couch and wondered. What could have happened, had Ms W had some kind of premonition, certainly she had been strangely nervous about the whole assignation. Eventually she fell asleep. She woke with a start. She heard the last stoke of the chime of a distant clock. She had no need to check her watch, unconsciously she knew it had struck eleven.
The next day Ms Westbury stayed in bed until late in the afternoon. Just as well, Cecilia thought, after her recent experience. By tea-time she had begun to stir; the next day, superficially, nothing had happened.
Cecilia served breakfast as usual and, after a suitable interval, returned to clear away.
Ms Westbury was sitting in an arm-chair, her back to the table, looking out of the window at nothing.
“Leave that for a minute”, she said, still looking out of the window. “Pull up a chair and sit beside me. I want to tell you about the other night”.
“You don’t have to”, Cecilia blurted, taken aback.
“No, let me tell you. It will help me to decide what to do next”.
“As you are aware, I was very suspicious about the equerry, Joseph’s motives. His story just did not ring true. You see, I just happen to know the Contessa whom the Prince is going to marry; known professionally, from some ten years ago, that is. Anyway, curiosity killed the cat, as they say and, mixing metaphors, I swallowed the bait”.
“The car took me to a very up-market restaurant where Joseph was waiting. Initially he was all sickly sweetness. ‘Oh how good of you to come. And the dress, magnificent, so wonderful’, and so on. With great ceremony he escourted me to a private room where we sat down for dinner. I must say that was very, ‘interesting’, sitting down on a restaurant chair in that dress”, she added smiling slightly at the recollection.
“Anyway, as the meal progressed it became obvious that his real objective was to obtain something with which to blackmail the Prince. He clearly knew of the Prince’s rather unconventional interests but was totally unaware that the Contessa was every bit as kinky, more so in some ways. As a result he thought that he could threaten to disrupt the forthcoming marriage by spilling the beans unless he was paid to keep quiet”.
“I told Joseph that whether or not I knew anything about the Prince was irrelevant. In essence I was like a doctor or a priest in a confessional; anything I might learn was strictly confidential between me and the client”.
“Naturally he did like this one bit. He snapped his fingers and out of the shadows appeared two men who grabbed me, put something over my face and bundled me out of the backdoor of the restaurant into a waiting car. On another occasion I might have been impresses by the smoothness of the operation”.
“Anyway, the car took me to the Bois de Boulogne where I was unceremoniously dumped in a semi-conscious state”.
“As I expect you know, The Bois de Boulogne is the second-largest park in Paris; it is two and half times larger than Central Park in New York, and about the size of Richmond Park in London. In the day time it is green oasis; full of activity, biking, jogging, boat rowing, horseback and pony rides, and remote control speed boats. Picnics abound in most parts of the park. At night it is a different matter. Though soliciting for prostitution is illegal in France, at nighttime parts of the Bois de Boulogne are a popular rendezvous places for prostitutes, usually working in vans parked by the side of the road. Everything is available, TVs, boys, straight girls, you name it. So me, staggering about in the red sausage skin, was just another temptation that did not take very long to attract interest.
“I was mauled at by several men. Come to think of it, they could have been tipped-off by Joseph. I was still too groggy to defend myself. Part of the dress tore off and trying to run, I lost a shoe”.
“Very fortunately a taxi, taking a short-cut through the park, came past. Somehow, I managed to flag it down and tell the driver to come here. The rest you know”
Ms Westbury fell silent again; then snapped out of her reverie.
“Ok, then, we are going shopping. One can hardly be in Paris and not visit the shops, can one? And, in any case, you need something more suitable for driving the car. For now, you may wear the trench-coat over your satin French maid’s outfit”.
Ms Westbury ordered a taxi that was already waiting outside the hôtel as the lift arrived at the foyer. Cecilia thought she could note a subtle change their relationship, she was expected to accompany Ms Westbury and not use the staff lift at the back of the hotel. Could it be something to do with the events of two days ago, she wondered.
The taxi wove through the heavy Parisian traffic with what, to Cecilia, seemed like far too much gay abandon finally pulling up in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré outside a shop selling leather garments.
“I think that we will find some things that are satisfactory here”, explained Ms Westbury as they went in. “I have already ordered appropriate long boots to be delivered to the hôtel by the time we get back. I fear that they were from a shop that I would not normally frequent but, on this occasion, there was insufficient time to have them made”.
Ignoring several shop assistants that had the temerity to try to bar her passage, Ms Westbury sought out the manager.
“I require things for this gel”, she declared, pointing at Cecilia. “Your zipped jacket with zipped cuffs teamed with a very short, tight, straight skirt should be ideal. All in black leather, of course. I will sit here while she tries them on to see if they are suitable”.
Eventually, even Ms Westbury was satisfied with the tightness of the jacket and with the shortness of the skirt. Cecilia briefly entertained the hope that she might be allowed to wear the new things but these were soon dashed as she was told to change back into her maid’s outfit while the new clothes were wrapped to be delivered to the hotel later that day.
Ms Westbury paid the hefty bill and walked out of the shop to the waiting taxi, apparently oblivious to the jam and chaos that it had caused, and gave directions to their next port of call.
Next day Cecilia finally managed to dress in the new things. At breakfast, served by French maid Cecilia, she had been told that today she was to be chauffeuse.
“Yesterday’s jacket and skirt are appropriate, you may leave off your chastity belt as you will be seated for some time. Oh, and the boots, I nearly forgot, they are in a long box in my room. Go and fetch it”.
Cecilia went to get the box thinking that Ms Westbury never, ‘forgot’ anything unless it was deliberate. It was long. She offered it to her Mistress.
“Well, open it then!”
Cecilia opened the box, folded back the tissue paper and withdrew a shiny black patent leather boot. Cecilia had never imagined such long ones, let alone seen them.
“They will go right up to my…”
“Crotch”, interjected Ms Westbury, with rather too much enthusiasm, Cecilia afterwards decided. “Put them on”.
As well as spikes for heels, the boots had a platform of some five centimetres. ‘She can’t expect me to drive in these, surely’, Cecilia though.
“Well, are you going to put them on?”
Cecilia did as she was told. Actually, they looked rather good with the jacket and short skirt going, as they did, so far up that no leg, at least if she stood still, showed below the hem.
“Turn round. Let me look at the back of you. Yes, very satisfactory. Now let us go down stairs and look at the car I have hired”.
Cecilia thought that it must be the only Lexus 600 hybrid for hire in France. At least it was left-hand drive so handling it was not quite as scary as the BMW back in England especially when trying to thread through the chaotic Parisian traffic.
She had punched the approximate location of their destination into the GPS and soon they were out of the heaviest traffic and on the A6 reading south, then on to the A77 where the traffic was even lighter.
‘How empty the French Autoroutes were compared to the English Motorways’, she thought, ‘I wonder if it’s having to pay tolls’.
Finally, Cecilia turned off even that and on to the N940.
For the first part of the journey Ms Westbury, sitting in the passenger seat, had been deep in thought; as she drove in silence, Cecilia mused that she ought to have, perhaps, picked up one of the hotel’s multi-lingual, ‘do not disturbed’, notices.
Suddenly she came out of her reverie.
“Yes, of course”, she said out loud to the startled driver.
What Ms Westbury had decided remained her secret. Instead she turned her attention to the GPS screen. They passed by several clumps of houses clustered at the side of the road and through two small towns. Suddenly Ms Westbury tapped Cecilia on the arm.
“Turn here, on the left”, she said with some urgency.
Cecilia turned across the road and down what seemed little more than a country track, barely wide enough for the big car.
Ms Westbury turned up the GPS to its maximum resolution.
Cecilia stopped the car. Ms Westbury got out of the passenger seat and repositioned herself in the back on the divan.
“Put the cap on and pretend to be my chauffeuse”, she was told. “Then drive slowly or we will miss the entrance”.
Five hundred metres further along she was again brought the car to a stop. At a cursory glance there was nothing to distinguish this length of ragged hedge from any other. Then Cecilca noticed something between the twigs, a little box with lens and speaker grill.
“Announce our presence, gel”, a voice came from the back of the car.
Cecilia got out, then wondered what she was supposed to say; speaking to a hedge in halting French was really odd.
Suppressing a giggle, she couldn’t help thinking, ‘What if the hedge didn’t understand my accent’.
She needn’t have worried. Clearly their arrival was anticipated. With a slight crackle, the box sprang into life, “Who’s there?” a male voice asked in near perfect English.
“Ms Westbury”, Cecilia answered, adding “and her chauffeuse”.
There was a pause; clearly they were being scrutinised by the wide-angle lens on the box.
“Ok, I’ll open the gates”.
As if by magic a gap slowly opened in the hedge to reveal a path through the trees. Cecilia got back into the car and drove through, the hedge closing behind it so quickly as to set the rear proximity alarm sounding.
The path was narrow, barely more than a car’s width, the branches of the trees touching so as to make it seem more like a tunnel.
Cecilia drove slowly. She had the uncanny feeing that they were being watched. Once she thought she saw a glint of light off a camera lens but dare not take her eyes off the narrow path lest she crashed into the trees.
Suddenly, rounding a corner, the car broke out of the trees.
In front of Cecilia stood a fairy-tale France château complete with peacocks on the grass and a fountain playing in a pool in front of impressive steps leading up to an equally impressive front door.
“It is only a last nineteenth century pastiche”, whispered Ms Westbury with a sniff, as the owner, Alain, and his wife, Brigitte, wearing a leather dress very like one that Cecilia had seen on her shopping tour of Pairs, came down the steps to greet them.
Ms Westbury was clearly very well-known with each making the four kisses that was the Berry custom for the closest of friends. Cecilia hung back, not being sure what her status was supposed to be. Eventually she, too, got kissed but only twice; accepted, she thought, but not yet one of the family.
The grand entrance to the chateau was up several wide stone steps from the gravel parking space that had been created in front of the house. Once inside there was an impressive hall with ground-floor reception rooms opening off it to either side of a grand stair-way. Brigitte and Alain used the whole of the first floor as their apartment while guest rooms were confined to the rambling second floor with its lucanes and turrets.
Like most fine houses of its period it was very much a case of a Queen Anne front but a Mary Anne back. Servants’ quarters had been in the attics or in the basement. Even now the main kitchen, where a caterer was expected to prepare a banquet, was there.
Ms Westbury needed no guidance; clearly she knew the château very well as she lead the way up the two flights, leaving an out-of-breath Cecilia, in her high-heels, to carry up the cases
“The suite has only the one bedroom; I fear that you will have to make do with the Clik-Clak settee in the lounge. Whatever, it should be a lot better than the bed that was in the maid’s attic room back home. I hope to have not gone too soft on the new one”, Ms Westbury added with a smile.
Ms Westbury dined that night with Brigitte and Alain. She came to bed late, obviously well satisfied with developments so far.
The next day, after an early breakfast, Ms Westbury and Alain repaired to Alain’s study. There was no need for a, ‘Do not disturb’, sign. It was obvious that they were cooking up a plan.
From time-to-time Cecilia tip-toed in with more cups of coffee to replace those she had taken in an hour before. With frequent telephone calls, the planning went on all day.
“Just bring us some sandwiches”, she had been told when, after picking up courage, she had asked about lunch.
Two days later Cecilia heard a crunching of the gravel on the drive. Looking out of the window from their upstairs lounge she saw a car coming to a majestic halt outside the main steps of the château. Ms Westbury cocked her head to listen.
“A 1932 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Sedanca de Ville, I suspect. That will be the Prince and the Contessa. They have been staying the night with the Prince’s cousin. He has a real château not far away. They never throw things away, just put them in an outbuilding and then forget them. As a result he has got a huge collection of old cars. I would very much doubt if the Prince could resist the temptation to drive one, with the front down, as its chauffer and, similarly, the Contessa would never be able to resist being the Grand Lady in the back”.
Alain came down the steps to meet the car and opened the door for the Contessa to get out or, rather, descend from it. Taking her arm, Alain escorted her into the château leaving the Prince, in his chauffer guise, to wrestle with two heavy leather suitcases.
Once in the château, the principals, Ms Westbury, the Contessa, Prince, Brigitte and Alain repaired to Alain’s study leaving Cecilia upstairs in the suite. Soon she began to hear laughter; clearly a plan was being hatched at someone’s expense. And it didn’t take much to guess whose!
At that moment Ms Westbury stormed into the lounge, threw something that appeared to be a tangle of black latex, red straps and shiny buckles on to the Clik-Clak and disappeared into the bed room.
Two minutes she re-appeased, wiping her eyes. She had been crying, ‘Gosh’, thought Cecilia, ‘I never expected to see that.’
“The Contrssa has decided to give a very private betrothal party tonight at which I am requested and required to attend on her presence”.
“Do not look so smug”, young lady, Ms Westbury replied with a laugh, “you are invited too”.
“Both of us?”
“Yes, but you haven’t heard the half of it. But first she wants one of your latex French maid’s dress, its apron ect and the chastity belt. There was no way to refuse. You are to take them to her straight away”.
“She was one of those clients that when they said, ‘jump’, you were expected to say, ‘How high?’ She always expects to get anything she wants and, in this case she wants your dress. Or, more exactly, she offered to swap it for a dress that she had with her. Here’s the key to the belt, I’ll show you your dress when you come back. Go on and take the thing she wants. I may have calmed down a little when you return and we can then look at your dress”.
Cecilia took the belt and a maid’s dress to the Contessa’s but, finding no-one there, left them on a chair and ran upstairs to hear the rest of Ms Westbury’s news.
“There is to be a strict dress code for guests; leather or latex. Guess which we got. When I said that I didn’t have anything with me she said that she did, she understood that the red sheath dress had been ruined but that my maid’s, she meant you, my maid’s Victorian parlour maid’s dress without its apron would be ideal as a demure Victorian evening dress for an older person. Older person, indeed! It may well be true, but she does not have to say it to one’s face. That really is too much”.
With its chin-high collar and double long sleeves the parlour maid’s dress was going be tighter and much more restrictive on Ms Westbury than the, ‘sausage’, ever was. The hobble skirt would be more familiar but even it would be difficult, the hem being so small walking would be reduced to baby steps, little more than a shuffle, with strides of a few centimetres at most.
Cecilia plucked up courage to speak.
“I’m smaller than you are. It’s going to be very tight”.
“I am fully aware of that, and so is the Contessa. Her little joke. Very funny, ha ha”, Ms Westbury added sarcastically. “However, if you think I’ve drawn a short straw, yours is even shorter”.
“But I’ve got nothing to wear either”.
“Oh yes you have”, Ms Westbury pointed to the Clik-Clak, “over there; strict latex dress code”.
“What is it?”
“A spanking dress, why the Contessa should have one with her I do not know. However, be that as it may, I fear we will have to defer looking at it until later. For now you have a job to do”.
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story continues in Ms Westbury's Niece 4: Plans