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Winterbrook - Chapter 4 - Housemaids

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Sir George Radcliffe September 1907

I have asked Jenks and Mrs Fuller to choose two of the housemaids for promotion. When Charlotte and Lucy arrive they will each require a lady’s maid. We haven’t had a lady’s maid at Winterbrook since my dear wife passed away twenty years ago. Any female guests bring their own servants; for such an intimate role it would never do to be attended by a stranger. I told them to find me two girls who were reliable, neat and who could be trusted to be discrete. A lady’s maid overhears and sees many things in the course of her duties and it is important that she knows not to gossip in the servants’ hall. They have found me two girls who have been with us a couple of years – Alice and Maria. I can’t say I have had much to do with either of them before, housemaids do not usually come to my attention unless they are especially ill-disciplined or especially pretty…

However, I interviewed the two chosen girls and initially found them much to my liking. Maria is twenty-three and has been in service since she was eighteen. She is dark haired girl with a somewhat haughty expression for a maid but she answered my questions politely enough and seemed genuinely pleased to be offered the chance for promotion. Alice was similarly delighted with the opportunity to take on a more responsible role and to earn a few extra shillings in her wage packet. She is a year younger than Maria and in contrast to her counterpart has a shyer disposition and rather attractive blonde hair. I recall noticing how pretty she was when we first took her on but somehow she has escaped my attention since then. But that is how it should be, housemaids should go about their business unnoticed and un-remarked.

I told them that Mrs Fuller would explain their regular duties to them but that until Miss Charlotte and Miss Lucy arrive their job would be to prepare their mistresses’ rooms.

I have chosen two pleasant, adjoining rooms in the East wing of the house. Each has a separate bathroom and dressing room and both rooms afford decent views over the gardens. Neither room has seen much use over the last few years so they required a thorough spring clean and good tidy up. Normally I would leave the supervision of such a task to Mrs Fuller but seeing as Charlotte and Lucy will be members of the family it seemed right that I should personally inspect the rooms when the two new ladies maids had had a couple of days to complete the task.

Consequently, this afternoon I accompanied the housekeeper and made my inspection. We went first to the blue room, which is to be Miss Charlotte’s room. It has been decided that Maria is to be Miss Charlotte’s maid so she was in attendance as I carefully examined the work that had been done. There was little with which I could find fault. The room was spotlessly clean, the linen had been properly aired and folded and all in all a very good job had been done.

“Would you thank Maria Mrs Fuller?” I said to the housekeeper, “She has done an excellent job. The room is just how I hoped it would be.”

I saw Mrs Fuller glance at the girl standing quietly in the corner and saw her blush with pleasure.

We proceeded to the yellow room, which is to be Miss Lucy’s. Alice was waiting for us, standing demurely with her hands clasped in front of her, her eyes downcast. The lower servants know not to make eye contact and only to speak when spoken to, but it soon became obvious that the downcast expression was more than mere deference. Alice had not done a good job and she knew it. There was dust along the top of the wardrobe, the linen had a slightly damp smell about it and the yellow room did not sparkle in the way that the blue room had. I was most displeased.

“Mrs Fuller, this is not good enough,” I said firmly. “This room is not ready for Miss Lucy. You will see to it that Alice is disciplined and that she is made to do the work properly, even if that means she does it on her afternoon off.”

I was taken by complete surprise by what happened next. I am sure that Alice did not mean to say it out loud, but say it out loud she surely did.

“Oh hell!”

She said it under her breath, but in the silent room she may as well have shouted it!

I have not been so shocked by a maid in a very long time. ‘Hell’ might not be the strongest of expletives but I do not expect maids to offer any sort of outburst. I turned slowly, feeling the colour coming to my face.

“What did you say girl?” I demanded, my voice low and full of menace.

Alice had gone very white. Her hand went up to her mouth and she stood in front of me quivering like a terrified rabbit transfixed by the twin barrels of my shotgun.

“N…n…nothing sir,” she stammered.

“I heard what you said girl… and it was certainly not nothing. It was a blasphemy that I am shocked to hear used in this house.”

I turned to the housekeeper. “Mrs Fuller, if Alice wishes to keep her position in this household you will have her prepared and waiting in my study at ten o’clock tonight. Otherwise she may pack her things and go… without a reference!”

I did not wait for a reply. Mrs Fuller knew what to do, it had been a while but she had prepared girls often enough in the past.



I enjoyed a leisurely dinner followed by a glass or two of port and one of my favourite Havana cigars. It was strange to think that in a few days time my meals would no longer be taken alone. I enjoy the company when Freddy is at home or when we have guests but I have got used to my solitary mealtimes, exchanging the occasional word with Jenks as he directs the serving staff, but by and large content with my own thoughts. I do hope the girls will not be giggly at the dinner table for that is something I cannot abide.

Nor can I abide maids whose work is not up to standard and who cannot keep their foul mouths closed. I checked my hunter - five past ten - Alice would have been in place for over half an hour so would just about be ready. I took a last sip of port and made my way to the study.

Mrs Fuller had done what I asked; Alice had been prepared and was waiting for me. She was stood in the near corner facing the wall. She was dressed solely in corset and stockings and across her bare bottom she held my favourite cane. I saw her tremble as I closed the door and went over to sit at my desk, but she knew better than to move or to turn her head. I sat down and contemplated her for a moment. She made an attractive picture. Her waist was pinched in by the tight lacing, drawing the eyes to, and accentuating the curves of her full bottom. Her skin was alabaster white and, for now, unmarked. Her fair hair hung, in a long pony-tail, down to the middle of her back. I enjoyed her for a few moments more, knowing that the wait was surely an agonising one for her.

“Come here girl,” I ordered.

Alice turned. She blushed as she walked towards me, ashamed of her semi-nakedness, aware that my eyes were drawn to the brief triangle of darker hair at the juncture of her thighs. I wondered how many men had seen her like that before. I do not fool myself into believing that the servants lead chaste lives and very much doubted that a pretty girl like Alice had maintained her maidenhood, but you never know, perhaps I was the first to see her womanly attractions.

I stood up.

“The cane,” I commanded. She passed it to me, her hand trembling. I gave it a practice swish through the air and saw her shiver.

“You may count yourself very fortunate that I did not instantly dismiss you girl,” I told her sternly. “However, such conduct will not go unpunished. A dozen strokes I think.”

Alice could not help but give a little gasp of horror. She looked at me with wide and frightened eyes but was wise enough not to challenge the sentence or beg for mercy.

I pointed to the chair that was positioned in front of the desk. “Stand behind the chair.”

Alice did as she was told, standing behind the chair and waiting for the next order.

“Bend over the back of the chair and grip the chair legs at the front.”

Alice took a deep breath as though she was about to dive into a lake, then bent forward over the chair back. She reached forward to take hold of the chair legs coming up onto tiptoe as she did so, the back of the chair lifting her hips and pushing her bare bottom into the air. I tapped the inside of her ankles with the tip of the cane, forcing her to part her legs. Now she was exactly as I required; bottom ready to be caned, female secrets wantonly displayed, humiliated and vulnerable.

I placed the cane across the middle of her bottom. Her breathing quickened and I saw her tense. I lifted the rod high and took careful aim. I love to cane a pretty girl, and administering the first stroke is my favourite part of the process. The sting that the cane imparts is very intense, a shock even to one who is expecting it and for a girl like Alice far worse than anything they could have feared and imagined. Alice gave a sharp cry as the cane bit home. She jerked against the back of the chair and her toes scrabbled at the carpet. Where the cane had landed was a crimson stripe, livid against her white skin.

There is no value in caning a girl too quickly. Each stroke should be relished, the pain should be allowed to reach its peak and then subside into a throbbing line before the next stroke is even contemplated. The girl should have plenty of time to anticipate and fear each and every biting stroke. Caning Alice took a good quarter of an hour. She was crying openly after the third stroke but that was only to be expected, it certainly elicited nothing in the way of sympathy or leniency from me.

When it was over Alice remained bent over the chair crying softly, her bare bottom now very well-striped. It was an image that would remain with me for the rest of the week. Once again I regretted that Anastasia was not staying at Winterbrook that evening, for my blood was certainly up.

“Stand up and put your hands on your head girl,” I told my chastised maid.

Alice got to her feet. I knew she desperately wanted to rub her smarting bottom but she dared not and slowly put her hands on top of her head.

“I trust you have learned your lesson girl,” I told her. “I will be keeping an eye on you from now on and if you displease me again then rest assured I will not hesitate to repeat this evening’s punishment. Do you understand me?”

“Y…y…yes sir.” Alice sniffed.

“You will go and stand in the corner facing the wall until Mrs Fuller comes for you. You will then clean and tidy this study. If it is not done to the highest standard then you will be caned again tomorrow night.”

Alice walked slowly to the corner, wincing with each step. I left her there, confident that in the morning my study would be cleaner and tidier than it has been in a very long time. A dozen strokes of the cane is a very effective motivator in my experience!

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