Thrift starts her schooling at the Diplomatic School in the Quality Enclave of London. Her classmates come from all round the British Empire - and beyond. But girls will be girls and soon they are scheming and quarreling with each other. Poor Thrift finds that she is often at the bottom of the pecking order and the things she has to do to appease the bullies get more and more bizarre. It's just a shame that she can't help enjoying them!
London, March 2004.
Thrift cried out in indignant shock as she was bundled expertly across her Governess’ knee. Her arm was twisted into the small of her back. Her nightie was hauled high to expose her modesty gown. Her modesty gown was hauled high to expose her pyjamas. Her pyjama seat was hauled open to expose her bottom.
It was a sequence of motions rapid, matter-of-fact and well practised, each exposure adding a new pang to her sense of embarrassment until with her bare bottom showing it had become a physical pain. Ready, she screwed her eyes up in miserable anticipation of the spanking to come. Nothing happened, save for Miss Challis’ hand coming to rest lightly on her naked flesh. The Governess spoke.
‘On second thoughts, perhaps not. It would hardly do to have you arrive on your first day with your face streaked with tears.’
‘No, Miss Challis,’ Thrift answered quickly as relief flooded through her.
‘Then I shall postpone your spanking,’ Miss Challis stated.
Much of Thrift’s relief disappeared, to be replaced by chagrin. She made to get up, but the grip on her twisted arm did not weaken, holding her firmly in place.
‘May I rise, please, Miss Challis?’ she asked.
‘I think not,’ the Governess replied. ‘You will remain exposed for a while, for the sake of your humility.’
Thrift slumped back down, red faced, her tears heavy in her eyes. Outwardly motionless, inside she was writhing in an agony of embarrassment for her position. She was, she knew, supposed to reflect on the sins that had brought her to so humiliating a state, but it was impossible. She could concentrate on nothing but the fact that her bottom was bare, while the fact that she had been bared for not leaving a small portion of her breakfast kipper on the side of her plate brought on only indignant self-pity. It just wasn’t fair, a punishment out of all proportion to her crime, to have to endure the agony of physical exposure merely because she was born to a respectable station in life. Vexation was added to the jumble of her emotions as the Governess began to stroke her bottom.
‘Miss Challis, please!’ she protested.
‘Hush, Thrift,’ Miss Challis said gently and went on stroking, her hand moving gently over the contours of Thrift’s bottom, to follow each ripe curve and gentle dip.
Thrift took the exploration of her bottom in stolid silence, trying to ignore the tickling sensation and the slow build up of warmth between her thighs. Finally Miss Challis drew a deep sigh, stopped., gave a gentle pat on the crest of each buttock, and spoke.
‘Some day, my darling Thrift, you will make some lucky gentleman an admirable wife, at least, if you can bring yourself to bear in mind how to behave as a Lady should. Now, what should we remember?’
‘Always leave one for Mr Manners,’ Thrift answered sullenly, and squeaked as her bottom was slapped again, this time hard.
‘Do not be ungracious!’ Miss Challis snapped. ‘Why, many people in the colonies never so much as see a kipper their entire lives.’
‘Yes, Miss Challis, sorry, Miss Challis,’ Thrift responded hastily, forcing herself to sound repentant.
‘That is better,’ Miss Challis went on, ‘but you must learn. Rest assured that I shall continue to punish you, Thrift, until the day it becomes the responsibility of your husband. Now, up with you, and get dressed, we have a busy day.’
Her wrist released, Thrift scrambled hastily off Miss Challis’ lap, at the same instant snatching back to cover her bottom, losing her balance and instead sitting down on it, hard. As Miss Challis suppressed a chuckle Thrift found her face redder than ever. Climbing quickly to her feet, she covered herself and ran behind the dressing screen.
Everything she needed was laid out, the various brushes and pastes for her ablutions and those clothes appropriate to her age, or rather the age she had been the day before. She began to undress, her embarrassment at her body growing as she shrugged off her nightie and modesty gown, and declining only a little as she pulled on her white rubber bathing gown. It grew worse again as she wriggled out of her pyjamas and pushed them down off her feet, careful never to expose her knees or elbows. Nude beneath her bathing gown, her face was warm as always, although the embarrassment was nothing compared to the agonies of being bared for spanking.
Stepping into the broad porcelain washing trough, she pulled the rubber curtain to behind her and began to wash, leaving the awkward bits until last, her breasts, bottom, and the unnamably rude bulge of split, puffy flesh between her thighs. Washing each brought her embarrassment higher, until by the time she was washing the soap from the fleshy folds and crevices of her unmentionable she was scarlet with blushes and mumbling prayers in her head. It never got any easier, and recently the impossibly improper feelings touching herself brought had been growing stronger, bringing to her the horrible conviction that she might be wilful, even wanton.
Clean, she dried herself as fast as she could without risking the exposure of her legs and arms and stepped from the trough. She applied powder and scent, then turned to her clothes. Miss Challis had selected a beautiful pair of drawers, heavy silk with six layers of lace trim, with blue Morning Glory flowers embroidered at the legs and waist and the rear panel held up with no less than a dozen ivory buttons.
As she pulled them on her embarrassment began to fade again, and further as she added her chemise, her three petticoats of cotton, flannel and taffeta, her underdress and the gown of richly embroidered forest green silk Miss Challis had selected. Stockings, gloves, boots, ladyspats completed her attire, and as she stepped from behind the screen she picked up her bonnet. Miss Challis cast a critical eye over her, then spoke.
‘Yes, I think so. Indeed yes, a credit to your station, family and the Empire, or at least, you will be shortly. First I must do something about that hair, then to the establishment of Mesdames Cantlemere and Lucas, in Piccadilly, where your corset and bustle are to be collected.’
Miss Challis had remained on the straight backed wooden chair in which she had sat to administer the spanking. Thrift took her prayer stool from beneath the bed and placed it at Miss Challis’ feet, feeling rather childish as she knelt to have her hair done in the new style. The Governess was quick, looping Thrift’s luxurious auburn curls into a soft bun, pinning it in place and slipping the jewelled net on to hold it, a task it would have taken Thrift twice as long to do half as well.
Ten minutes later, having greeted her mother in the drawing room, she was stepping out into Dover Street. London was as ever, the morning typical of the English spring. The street sweepers, delivery men and gardeners of the night were long gone, leaving the granite of the pavements glistening wet from the light shower before dawn, the discreet shops well stocked with their produce laid out in the windows, the baskets hung from each lamppost bright with flowers.
Taking Miss Challis’ arm, Thrift allowed herself to be steered down the street, to where it opened onto Piccadilly, with Green Park to the side, bright with purple and yellow crocuses against the verdant green of the grass. Few people were about, those who worked in the government departments and Imperial service offices already indoors, and the strollers and riders not yet out.
As they turned east into the main thoroughfare, a gentleman passed and tipped his hat. Thrift, recognising him, made a polite curtsey in response, but was forced to suppress a giggle as they passed on. His suit, while of respectable cut, had been brown, and, more amusing still, so had his boots, while his spats had not only been a pale tan, but patterned. Most comical of all had been his hat, a brown felt fedora. It was impossible to resist a remark as soon as they were safely out of ear shot.
‘How comical Mr Sullivan-Jones does look, my dear Miss Challis!’
‘He is an artist,’ Miss Challis replied, herself attempting to hide her amusement, ‘but yes, one might wish he would dress in more conventional attire, at least within the Quality Enclave.’
They paused at the entrance to Bond Street to allow the sleek black bulk of an Austin Baron to turn noiselessly into the road, and Miss Challis spoke again as they reached the far side, in a quiet undertone.
‘Naturally, my dear, within the Diplomatic Enclave you may expect to see styles of dress more unusual by far, fantastical even. The Soviets, as I understand it, actually wear trousers.’
‘Why should that be thought peculiar?’ Thrift asked, flushing slightly at the mention of a male garment.
‘The Ladies,’ Miss Challis replied.
‘The Ladies wear trousers?’ Thrift demanded in a disbelieving hiss.
‘So I am given to understand,’ Miss Challis answered her and gave Thrift a look that conveyed both disapproval and amused contempt.
Thrift shook her head, sure that her Governess was making a joke. The idea was absurd. Then again, Miss Challis never told a lie, even in jest.
They had reached the premises of Mesdames Cantlemere and Lucas. It was a triple bayed shop decorated in the traditional black and gold of the Enclave, yet unusually discreet in that no trade was advertised, while the three broad windows were closed off by heavy drapes of rich, old-gold plush, each embroidered with the name of the establishment. Reaching the door, Miss Challis gave the bell a single, fastidious push. It swung open immediately, a tiny woman in black bombazine curtseying as she ushered them in. Miss Challis immediately adopted an air of haughty politeness, which Thrift struggled to imitate.
Within, the shop was no less discreet than it appeared from the street. Directly in front of them was a wide counter of brilliantly polished wood, behind which rose tier after tier of square drawers, each numbered and labelled after some cryptic system that meant nothing whatever to Thrift. A tall wooden modesty screen barred access to the rest of the shop. Another woman stood behind the counter, somewhat taller than the first, and also dressed entirely in black. She too curtsied, greeting them.
‘Good morning, Miss Challis. Good morning, Miss Moncrieff, if I may presume?’
‘You may,’ Miss Challis answered before Thrift could respond. ‘I trust Lady Moncrieff’s order is ready?’
‘Indeed so, Miss,’ the woman replied. ‘Please step this way. Jane.’
The smaller of the two women moved quickly forward, to open a panel in the screen. Miss Challis stepped through, Thrift following, to find herself in a long, high room, furnished as was the outer room, with banks of labelled drawers, also several screens which appeared to conceal alcoves. Light came in from a row of tall windows, each protected by a modesty curtain although all that could be seen beyond was the roof of the building opposite and a great deal of sky.
‘May I offer you refreshment, Miss Challis?’ the woman asked. ‘Tea, coffee, a little sack or laudanum?’
‘Thank you, no,’ Miss Challis answered. ‘Miss Moncrieff and I are somewhat pressed for time.’
The woman curtsied and went on, ‘I shall fetch Madame Cantlemere directly.’
She disappeared through a door, only to return almost immediately behind a tall, stately woman and carrying two objects, both heavily wrapped in white tissue paper.
‘Madame Cantlemere,’ Miss Challis addressed the newcomer, making a carefully measure curtsy as she spoke. The tall woman responded in kind, then turned to Thrift.
‘It is a pleasure to have your custom, Miss Moncrieff. As you no doubt know, it has been the privilege of our establishment to serve your family for five generations now, both here and in Edinburgh. Please be assured that we shall do everything in our power to provide satisfaction to the sixth.’
‘Thank you, Madame Cantlemere, most gracious,’ Thrift replied, pleased by the formidable woman’s unctuous manner.
‘Pride is unseemly in a young Lady,’ Miss Challis remarked quietly as they were ushered into one of the screened alcoves.
The alcove was deep and tall, with a padded bench set against the semicircular wall. Miss Challis sat down as Madame Cantlemere took the first of the two packages from Jane, speaking as she began to unwrap it.
‘If you would be so good as to disrobe, please, Miss Moncrieff.’
‘Disrobe?’ Thrift answered in sudden shock, the blood automatically rising to her face.
‘An unfortunate necessity,’ Madame Cantlemere went on, ‘for the fitting of your corset, you will understand.’
‘But to disrobe…,’ Thrift began.
‘There is no impropriety involved, Thrift,’ Miss Challis interrupted. ‘You need merely slip off your gown, underdress and petticoats, no more.’
Thrift found herself blushing furiously at the mention of such intimate garments as her petticoats in front of strangers, but there was an all too familiar note of warning in the Governess’ voice. With trembling fingers she began to unfasten the buttons at the front of her dress as all three women gave pointed attention to the series of pastoral prints that decorated the walls.