Helga was very puzzled too. Mr. Slipper - whom Miss Lillian had told her to look upon as a friend, seemed determined on upsetting her. She had almost forgotten her desire for the plump little man who liked naughty things and yet Mr. Slipper (why, she had no idea) was now trying to remind her of him. Quite how he came to know about her “noddy liddle boy” she could not imagine, but the memory had once again brought on a great sadness in her heart and tears were flowing down her enormous face.
Slipper was exasperated. He had not expected it to be quite so difficult. “I not zee him any more!” Helga wailed, mopping her face with a hankie the size of a tablecloth. “Why you say zese zings? Miss Lillian say Mr. Slipper, he iss mein freunde.”
Slipper was nonplussed. He had never been one for coping with women. Coping with women in an emotional state of mind - which seemed to be a permanent state with most of them from his limited experience - was something else again. Whatever he tried to say to the German girl brought on a fresh outburst of tears and he was getting more and more flustered.
“No, Helga …”
“Nein iss right! Iss not freunde to speak zo of ze man I loff.”
“But you do not understand, Helga, he lives here.”
“Vot? Vy you torment Helga zo, Mr. Slipper. Mein leibling haff gone, und I not zee him again. Iss no-one but you und Herr Brandybutt und Harris” and she launched into another tirade of tears.
Slipper ran a hand through his hair. If things continued in this vein then he could see Helga either walking out or hauling off and flattening him with her spade of a hand. Either way the prospect was not an appealing one. The only possible way out, the thought struck him, was a photograph. And the only possible location for such - unlikely though it may seem - was in Milady’s boudoir. He motioned Helga to stay put and hurried out in search.
Lady Melsham had earlier taken the opportunity of a temporary lull in Fullerton’s renovation works to do a spot of gardening. She resented parading her person in the presence of the common herd and had thankfully left all dealings with the rough crowd to Slipper, in her husband’s absence. In fact, in her husband’s absence she felt more the lady of the manor and less the dog’s breakfast that Archie’s attitude towards her inclined more and more, nowadays. And in Slipper’s presence, with his deference and his Milady this, Milady that, she positively felt herself born to the aristocracy.
She felt a kindred spirit in Slipper. Not only in his obvious enmity to Lord Melsham - with which she could only sympathise - but also in his adherence to the proprieties of the feudal existence. Slipper fitted Melsham Hall more, she realised, than either she or Archie could ever hope to. And he was quite an attractive little man, in an obsequious, and quite proper way even though he was just a servant.
She was not unattractive herself, she thought, catching sight of her reflection in the fish pond. A bit on the meaty side, if anything - which all enhanced the image, of course. Not - she thought - that Archie’s treatment of her paid her any compliments. For all her faults - and, deep down, she recognised the shallowness of her pretensions - she was still a woman. A woman neglected, she thought savagely, a woman emasculated, if that were possible. She wielded the pruning shears with spiteful malice wishing that she had had them in hand the other night when relieving Archie of the sticking plaster gusset. That would have really given him something to howl about!
And suddenly, she felt a sad and lonely woman. She pocketed the pruning shears and made her dignified way back to her quarters before she disgraced herself in front of the servants by bursting into tears.
The only photograph that Slipper found to hand was a wedding group, and the young Lappit in the picture bore about as much resemblance to the present-day Lord Melsham as Helga to the Queen of the Fairies, although the steel glint was present in the eyes even then. Lady Melsham, though, was something else and even Slipper cast a second glance at the demure and innocent teenager that she had been. He replaced the photograph and cast about desperately for the likely repository for any others. The only possible place left was Lady Melsham’s en-suite dressing room. Slipper had entirely discounted Melsham’s study as a possible source - he knew from previous rummagings that the man’s personal possessions amounted to no more than a dog-eared copy of ‘Success in Business At Any Price’, three or four broken calculators and some well-thumbed copies of ‘Tits and Tarts’ hidden at the back of a drawer, so he entered the small room and closed the door behind him.
At that precise moment, Lady Melsham hurried into her room and sank onto the sofa in a state of abject misery. Inside the dressing room Slipper froze, then stiffened in panic as he heard her rise again and walk across. A drawer in the bureau alongside the door opened and he heard the distinct clink of bottle and glass followed by her footsteps as she re-crossed the room and sat down again, then what sounded like muffled sniffles as a glass was filled - substantially - with liquid. Lady Melsham, it appeared, was about to help herself to another bout of migraine!
Slipper cursed, softly. He knew, beyond certainty, that the door to the service corridor was bound to be locked, as indeed it proved when he tiptoed over and tried the handle. Short of a miracle, he was trapped!
The current copy of ‘The Prattler’ lay on the sofa and, as Lady Melsham took a huge gulp of the tumbler full of gin to which she had helped herself, she desultorily flipped over the pages, sniffing away errant tears as they slaked down her cheek, hoping to lose herself amongst Society and all its trappings. Instead of losing herself, she found herself. Or, rather, she found herself and Archie pictured at Staddon Hall. Some columnist had got hold of Archie’s plans for the future of the Hall and scathingly castigated this upstart ‘Grocer’s Boy’ for despoiling the fine name of the British Aristocracy (and the historic old pile of Staddon Hall to boot) with the vile taint of commerce. Which was all very laudable: Lady Melsham herself was none too enamoured of the prospect.
The article went on at some length in disparaging terms but what really went to Lady Melsham’s core was the columnist’s thinly hidden opinion of herself. Alluded to as that ‘blue-rinse small town Tory with elevated opinions’, her erstwhile society friends in her home town of Brandsley had, apparently, lost no time in denigrating her good fortune and her abilities as a Society Hostess to all and sundry. Small-minded to a bitch they had taken her to pieces, put the remains on public show and then pitched brick-bats at them! On a better day, Lady Melsham would have seen red. Now the article became the proverbial straw and she burst into tears, howling in utter dejection, between savage gulps of the soothing gin.
Trapped in the dressing room, Slipper heard the caterwauling with dismay. He had been subjected to enough of that already. He was also surprised at the depth of the unladylike language punctuating the staccato sobbing. It flowed beneath the dressing room door like a tide of vitriol that could have taken paint off. Once, he ducked and grimaced as a loud ‘thump’ struck the dressing room door and the sound of a bottle, bouncing over Queen Anne furniture resounded in the little room.
Lady Melsham had drained the bottle to the drop, howling between times with rage, frustration and downright self-pity. She had made a number of resolutions during her brief frenzy, most of them actionable in the extreme and unlikely to be put into practice. The least contentious of these was to open another bottle of gin. Which she did, drinking from the bottle, and slumped in a stupor on the sofa where the anger and despair slowly drained away, replaced by the lassitude and languor that liquor always induced and fuelled by the hopelessness of her position. If only, she thought dully getting the two separate strands of her personal failings intertwined, she had a MAN she could turn to instead of the perverted power-mad apology of a dog-turd she called a husband she would show him what sort of a hostess she was - and thoshe tight-arse bitch-cow friendsh of hers back in Yorkshire < Hic! >
The thought struck a loosely flapping strand in Lady Melsham’s meandering mind. She giggled convulsively. “Archie!” she declaimed, hoisting the bottle of gin towards the wedding photograph, “You’re a tight-arshe, shon … of a bitch! < Hic! > An’ you’ve got no shkin on your ball-bag!” she added dissolving into hilarity, whooping with laughter and sloshing gin across the carpet.
“Archie!” she cried again. “Archie. Your doingsh …don’t!”
Tears of mirth this time rolled down her face and she staggered upright, holding her aching sides. “Yoursh don’t …but I know what doesh … Oh, yesh I do. S …Sylvia knows what Shylvia likesh!”
So, found Slipper to his eternal regret, did he.
Listening to the outpourings next door, he had decided to make good his incarceration in the dressing room by searching for what he had come in for, while the noise outside masked his movements. When Lady Melsham had cried or drunk herself to sleep he could make his escape. Until then, he had thought, he may as well make the best of it.
There was nothing in the wardrobes but clothes. The cupboards contained only suitcases and the drawers were full of surprisingly filmy lingerie and what Slipper could only describe as female impedimenta ... until his hand closed on a hard and smooth object which he drew out curiously.
The resemblance to the male organ in full erection was so uncanny that Slipper almost threw it from him in revulsion and then, with awful certainty, he knew what it was that Sylvia liked! And, what was more, she was coming for it now!
Slipper sat there, the outsize dildo held distastefully in front of him, not knowing quite what to do with it whilst, outside the dressing room, Lady Melsham blundered towards discovery like an elephant on heat. Desperately Slipper made to dive for the wardrobe, just as she threw open the door, revealing him lunging towards her, dildo in hand and a hunted look on his face. Both froze.
Slipper tried to speak but, for once, was lost for words and crouched there, gnome-like, mouth working, with little gobs of spittle starting from the corners. Convulsively his grip tightened on the monstrous object, which immediately began throbbing and dancing in his hand. He yelped with surprise and jerked his arm as if 1,000 volts had instantly shot up it, letting go the dildo as he did so.
The suddenly animated prosthesis described a graceful, if revolting, parabola through the air. It took Lady Melsham, not quite believing what she was seeing in her befuddled state, a considerable time to react. When she did, it was to open her mouth to scream. The action, unhappily, co-incided with the downward curve of the missile and the scream died in her throat as the projectile rattled off her teeth and lodged, quivering, in her oesophagus.
Slipper stared, horrified and revolted in equal measure and then whittered in panic as Lady Melsham began making curious, choking, noises and started flailing at the air while her eyes slowly bulged. Then, they rolled in their sockets and she collapsed.
Slipper still crouched, paralysed, while his mind raced. The sight of Lady Melsham lying on her back with a plastic organ throbbing between her teeth was too awful to contemplate. Then, as her face began to turn blue, he shot into action. Leaping to her side he grasped the offending object with both hands and pulled, casting it away from him in disgust as it came free with a libidinous Schlooop. It rolled beneath the dressing table, where it lay obscenely, beating a tattoo against the leg and setting up vibrations which had the hairbrush rattling against the glass top.
Colour slowly came back to Lady Melsham’s cheeks and she caught her breath in a gin-laden gasp. Taking her under the armpits, Slipper hauled her to the bed and deposited her on it as gently as his agitated state would allow. Torn between a desire to see an end to the whole sorry business and a concern for his Mistress’s welfare, he dithered by the side of the bed. Some weighty explanations would be due, and his mind raced to find a plausible excuse, all thoughts of Helga and the photograph forgotten. Excuses were similarly lacking. Slipper could not remember when - if ever - he had been so discommoded. The mistress of the house lay dishevelled on the bed with skirts drawn up around her thighs (revealing a surprising taste in underwear) and breathing stertorously through a throat recently engorged with a foot of throbbing plastic while he, the servant, stood guilty of launching the damn thing at her, like a javelin, from a position which could only be described as suspicious, putting an end both to his career and to any hope of seeing the loathsome Lappit finally get his come-uppance. The world suddenly seemed an unfriendly place, to Slipper, and he hopped from foot to foot in agitation.
If, before, the world had seemed unfriendly it then became downright spiteful as Slipper’s foot caught Lady Melsham’s discarded gin bottle and with a whoop he lost his footing completely, coming to rest with a ‘whomp’ between his employer’s legs and nuzzling her disordered décolletage with flattened nose and organ-stop eyes.
Lady Melsham let out a huge gasp as the air was driven from her lungs by Slipper’s precipitate landing, sending a waft of gin-soaked breath through his tousled hair. The shock brought her to. In her alcoholic stupor, the unfamiliar burden pressing intimately down on her, particularly after her last conscious memory, lit fires she had thought damped down twenty years ago and she clasped the body savagely to her.
It was Slipper’s turn to choke. Struggling to escape the clamp-like grip he flailed his legs and pushed against Lady Melsham’ s chest to free his air passages from the enveloping flesh. His hands immediately lost themselves in her bosom, and pounded up and down in his frenzy to escape. It felt, he thought incongruously, just like kneading dough.
Somehow a hand insinuated itself beneath her clothing and he suddenly found a bullet-hard nipple drilling a hole in its palm. He withdrew it hurriedly, finally succeeding in freeing his face from her heaving bosom. He raised his head and met Lady Melsham’s eyes, miserably. In them he saw a light that he never thought to see in a woman’s eyes and then saw nothing at all as she caught him by the jacket lapels, dragged him to her lips and all but suctioned his face into her mouth.
The next thing that Slipper knew Lady Melsham was straddling his body, stark naked, letting out an animal yell of gratification whilst something like a small vice gripped his lower regions
Slipper looked. He also was somehow stark, bollock- naked, his clothes strewn around the bed as though lately caught in some monstrous typhoon. Lady Melsham, towering majestically above, leered at him through glazed and blood-shot eyes and slowly lowered herself… and Slipper fainted dead away.
Just at that moment Harris, also, was entering that semi-conscious state that was the aftermath of any physical intimacy with Carmen. Ever since Brandybutt had regained the full use of his legs, thanks to Helga’s magic hands, he had now gladly taken over chores which he had relied upon Harris to do for so long, revelling in the feel of the good Dimpset soil between his fingers again, and releasing Harris to more pleasant duties. Not that Harris was complaining. “If the old fool wants to do my work, as well as his, let him,” he said to Carmen. “It gives time for more important things, dunnit?”
The brief respite from Carmen’s predations had done Harris a world of good and now that he had more time and strength to devote to the matter in hand he had resumed where he had left off with renewed enthusiasm, to Carmen’s delight. There was no telling where it might end, Harris thought, privately. In a Walter Mitty sort of way he saw himself as he Lord of the Manor. If he could keep Carmen sweet and satisfied then, he reasoned, he would be more than willing to trot down the aisle in return for a title. Harris had little conception of the ways of the world. What he did have was a great deal of imagination. Applied in the right quarters it was what kept Carmen happy, and applied it certainly had been over the past few weeks.
Harris’s latest application had just been tried, tested and approved… with reservations. It paid to keep him on his toes, Carmen felt. After all, she reasoned, she knew precisely what she wanted ... and it was not Harris. For want of anyone better, Harris would suffice only for the moment and, for as long as she could string him along, all well and good.
She left him face down in the straw again and walked thoughtfully down to the Hall.
Faint sounds of almost hysterical weeping and laughter combined floated down from one of the upper storeys. “Oh God, she’s on the gin again,” Carmen sighed wondering whether to go up. But the thought had hardly surfaced when she heard the scrunch of car tyres on the gravel outside the gates. She poked her head outside to see who the new arrival was and immediately forgot everything. Carmen, if nothing else, was an opportunist and a True Believer in lust at first sight. The apparition which arose from the open sports car had her heart bouncing almost audibly between the ground and her mouth. It approached her, looking warily around the crumbling walls of Staddon Hall.
“Is this Staddon Hall?” It asked.
Carmen nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
“Is Archie in… Lord Melsham, I mean?” Freddy looked curiously at the girl in front of him. “Carmen? Is it Carmen?”
It was Carmen’s turn to look curious.
“Freddy,” he said “Don’t you remember?” He looked at her, appraisingly. “You’ve grown.”
When Slipper came to, Lady Melsham was spread-eagled face down on the bed beside him breasts pillowed beneath her and one leg entwined in the bedclothes, the other pinioning Slipper’s own leg. The steady rise and fall of her back, accompanied by a twitching of limbs told him that her Ladyship had finally succumbed to the bottle. But not, he found, before he had succumbed to her. With some effort he extricated himself from her somnolent clutches, his mind a welter of confusion, and hurriedly collected his clothing from where it had been cascaded around the bedroom.
In the dressing room the discarded vibrator still beat its head insistently against the dressing table and, distractedly, Slipper snatched it up and vehemently switched it off. He slumped on the dressing room stool, head in hands. For once, his analytical mind had deserted him.
To someone for whom sex was a bothersome part of life’s ritual, to be taken sparingly when the body rarely urged, what had just happened to Slipper was as far outside his experience as celibacy was to Carmen. He considered what had happened. The very proper manservant had just rogered his way through the erstwhile Ladyship (whilst, admittedly, said Ladyship was in her cups) revealing a side to his nature that even his rationed romps with Fat Lil had not drawn out. At least, that’s how it seemed to a distraught Slipper.
That he had, in fact, been raped never occurred to him. The fact of the matter was, Slipper reasoned, drunk or not, remorseful or not, he Slipper, was well and truly FUCKED thank you very much, whichever way you looked at it and (glancing through at Lady Melsham now hunched rear-end-up on the bed) whichever way Slipper looked at it, the prospect was positively hideous. He shuddered. To think that a lifetime’s service should end in so ignominious a manner.
Resigned to ridicule and instant dismissal, Slipper slowly dressed.
Left alone in Slipper’s parlour, Helga had slowly recovered her composure, letting escape only the merest shuddering sigh on occasion. Her world had been turned upside down. She had more or less been coerced to leave the Massage Parlour, boarded out with people whom she didn’t know and now Miss Lillian’s funny little friend insisted on goading her constantly about her lost love, saying she ‘would see him soon’ The English were a cruel, disdainful race Helga thought, blowing her nose, she would have been better off if she had stayed behind in the Bavarian mountains.
She waited patiently for Mr. Slipper to return from wherever he had dashed off to in such a hurry, but he had obviously found better things to do. Rising to leave, she glanced idly through the window, with that momentary flash of envy that all pretty girls induced in her, to see Miss Carmen walking across the courtyard. She heard the dying growl of a sports car pull up outside the gate, saw Miss Carmen slouch across to greet it and witnessed the exchange of words that perceptibly lightened the girl’s deportment. As Helga passed sadly out of earshot, she missed the sound of a larger, more sedate car pull up behind the other one and the exasperated cry, in a timbre that would have set her heart strings twanging, “Oh, Bloody ’ell! Freddy! What the fook are you doing ’ere!”