“You are a submissive and impressionable young woman—as submissive as I’ve seen in some time—and I’m sure you’ll adjust to these new duties. Understand, that you wouldn’t be spending this time with my husband if he were not fond of you. Be as compliant as you’ve been so far and you’ll do well.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Alice’s chin was quivering, her voice faint.
Madam Haliday laid a kind hand on her cheek. “You’re trembling.”
“Yes, ma’am.” A lone tear threatened in her eye.
“Use your fear to guide you. Know that when you feel this kind of apprehension that behind it is the most wondrous joy. Truly, I wish it were me who the Master is calling to the cellar tonight.” She was quite envious of the fair-skinned Alice. Her eyes glimmered passionately and her hefty bosom breathed with sensuality, while her whole body reeked remorse. “Finally, my dear, understand that there is really nothing to fear. Sir Haliday seeks nothing but your happiness.” She ran her long nails through Alice’s soft blonde curls. “Go now, and be sure to wear your corset tightly laced, fix your hair and pinch your cheeks. Sir will be most pleased to see that you’re ready for him.”
Alice backed off the pillow and rose to her feet. With a nod of approval from her mistress, she then scampered out the door.
Alice had heard of the other girls being taken to the cellar—which they had all aptly named The Dungeon. They talked about the cross, but never explained exactly what they meant, which left the goings on in the cellar of the house a mystery to the newest and most innocent housemaid. Alice only understood that the event would be sexual. Being a virgin with no worldly experience, she had no idea what might transpire between she and the Master of the house. She was, however, quite delighted that Sir Haliday was so taken with her, and that she could in some way please this powerful and very enchanting gentleman. Though he was much older than she (and even his wife), his attractiveness to women had not been diminished by age; in fact, it only increased as the handsome gentleman matured. To Alice, he’d been God-like, the paragon of mastery, the center of her desires since she walked through the doors of her new home. Yet, until he retrieved her from her ungracious sprawl on the foyer floor, he paid no mind to her—so she assumed.
“He is quite fond of you.” “Sir Haliday seeks nothing but your happiness.” The Mistress’ words played musically through her mind as Alice made herself ready for the Master.
She was in the maid’s quarters, having whispered to her friend, Hannah, what she needed before she was required in the cellar.
Tightening her corset, the envious maid advised her, whispering, “Don’t be scared. It all looks very extreme, but it’s not. Trust me, our master is very gifted.” She tugged the corset laces so that Alice could hardly breathe—though the sight of the young maid’s beautiful form in the mirror was sheer perfection. “Ah! He’ll love you,” Hannah went on.
“Oh, I don’t know. I have the shakes. It feels like I’m going to my wedding.”
“And how would you know that?”
“Your imagination is silly. This is not a marriage, dear girl, this is lust. Something to be enjoyed.” The twinkle in her eye mimicked Madam Haliday’s. They knew the truth, while Alice was still too innocent to understand. And it must be a special truth for all the rumors and looks of eagerness and passion, which filled maids’ faces when Sir Haliday summoned them.
Alice knew that several nights each week one of the girls was taken to the cellar. Others girls were taken in Sir Haliday’s study for similar sessions. There was even an attic with the proper equipment to serve the master’s needs—whatever they were. However, the attic had been locked for several years. (Rumor was that Sir Haliday’s favorite maid was often taken to those upper rooms—in fact, she’d lived there, instead of in the third floor maid’s quarters. One winter, however, it was deathly cold, and the young girl, being so completely compliant that she neglected to speak of her lack of warmth, caught cold and eventually died of pneumonia. Sir Haliday blamed himself and never forgave his negligence. He never used the attic again, as the reminder of the young woman was too painful for him to bear. He did not, however, give up exercising his proprietary rights over his housemaids.)
Now, her turn, Alice could hardly contain her anxiety. And yet, when she was summoned by Major to proceed with him to the cellar, she did so with a look of serene resignation—something she’d been practicing; and an air of dignity that any well-trained maid should naturally possess.