It’s another day at Castlebridge Hall and Michaela, in her new role of house maid, starts it with a good hard strapping from the Head of Housekeeping. She also has an uncomfortable interview with Lord Castlebridge to face, a sound caning from the Hall’s butler to suffer, a complicated affair with her beautiful fellow maid Jessica to manage, the unwanted attentions of the lecherous Lord Stansbury and the haughty disapproval of the hideous Priscilla Armstrong to endure, a perilous night time mission through the Hall to negotiate and these are only the beginning of her woes.
Michaela finds herself entangled in a labyrinthine conspiracy involving Lord Stansbury’s nefarious schemes, Lady Cynthia’s devious plots and not one, but two valuable works of art. The author’s eponymous and irrepressible heroine weaves her way through the minefields of Castlebridge Hall intrigues with her usual acerbic wit, hilarious anecdotes and propensity for finding herself in trouble.
This, the second instalment of Michaela’s disaster prone misadventures at Castlebridge Hall, is another classic erotic farce. Told in Michaela’s own inimitable style, it is sexy, funny, full of insights into the mad world of Castlebridge Hall and always engaging.
I woke early on my third day at Castlebridge Hall although, in truth, I’d only slept fitfully all night at best. The other girls in my dormitory were still asleep. I suppose that was something of a blessing. Two of the girls had crawled into bed with each other at some point of the wee early hours and they’d been so pleased to see each other that they’d woken everybody else up and caused Lucy to swear and throw a pillow at them. Not that Lucy was entirely without sin when it came to keeping folks awake, however. She had a persistent snore that was quite cute to begin with but became downright irritating after an hour or two.
I lay in my little corner bunk and took stock on my first two days at the Hall. It wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a positive review. If you’d assigned two people to keep tally of the pros and cons then the person charged with the latter would have been rushed off their feet whilst their colleague would have fallen asleep in boredom. Normally I can brush off adversity and find some sort of silver lining. I’m a cup half full sort of person but, in this instance, I wasn’t looking at a cup half empty but more one in which it was increasingly difficult to detect more than a few dregs at the bottom of it. The past two days had been almost uniformly wretched and the day to come promised to live up to the high standards of its two predecessors.
To summarise my Castlebridge Hall career so far, for the benefit of those of you who haven’t caught up yet, I had come to the Hall straight from St Margaret Clitheroe’s Catholic Girls Boarding School to serve a half term work placement in domestic service under the philanthropic care of my patron and sponsor, Lord Castlebridge. I had set off for Castlebridge Hall afflicted with a broken heart having been victimised by that most malevolent deity, Cupid, who had seen fit to loose one of his blasted arrows in my direction and caused me to fall in love with a beautiful exchange student from India called Priya. Priya, it had turned out, had been a Maharani who had come to St Margaret’s to case the joint for her fabulously rich daddy’s foreign scholarship programme for deserving Indian students. At half term, she had duly skipped off back to the sub-continent to report her findings and hanging my injured heart out to dry. I expect that the afore mentioned Cupid was highly amused with his handiwork and, if I ever get my hands on the little shit, I will wring his blasted neck for him.
The net result of this malady d’amour had been to cause me to dally in self-pity en route and I’d arrived at Castlebridge Hall very late. Lord Castlebridge had been less than amused and, in a spirit of reformatory zeal, had decided to start my Castlebridge Hall career as he intended it to continue by ordering me straight to the library where, strapped down naked over the infamous and venerable caning stool, I was to be instructed in the virtues of punctuality with the aid of fifty hard strokes of the butler’s cane across my youthful rump. From that inauspicious beginning, things had only got worse.
I had fondly believed that I was only at the Hall for a short sojourn for half term… ten days at tops. I had since learned that, instead, I was stuck at the dump for a month and that, furthermore, I would be back again at Christmas and every subsequent school break for the foreseeable future. In fact, unless I could find some way out of the blighted place, I was liable to be stuck with it, as part of the Castlebridge Hall workforce, for years to come. It was a frightful prospect. That first thrashing in the library had been merely a foretaste of the horrors to come. I had had most of my clothes and possessions confiscated and was confined to the Hall’s environs, in maid’s livery, where I was to be employed in the disagreeable function unpleasantly known as “honest hard work”. If this distasteful activity was not bad enough, there had been a further malicious refinement added to my regime. Lord Castlebridge had made it a condition of my employment that I was to receive a routine strapping or caning at least once a week and he was seriously considering a policy of having me in the library for a thorough thrashing on a monthly basis.
These beatings were to be, you understand, merely routine maintenance discipline; a sort of on-going corrective penance, supplementary to whatever other punishments I incurred as a result of any misconduct. I had already suffered one additional punishment, having had to drop my knickers for the cane in the Hall’s entrance hall after losing my way in the interminable corridors of Castlebridge Hall and turning up late for an appointment with Lord Castlebridge. In addition to this I was facing another uncomfortable interview with His Lordship regarding my school work and liable to face another dose of the cane if, as seemed likely, he was dissatisfied with it. Then again there were the events of the previous night. I shall have more to say about this in due course but suffice it to say, for the moment, that it was odds on to be another ticket to the caning stool.
As if this regime was not bad enough, life had become even more complicated. I had hoped to keep a low profile at Castlebridge Hall; slip under the radar as it were. I’d thought that if I could just keep out of trouble, I could simply melt into the scenery; be just another anonymous maid dusting shelves or something in the background. I’d only expected to be there for ten days and I hadn’t thought it would be too hard to keep my head down and evade notice until such time as I could be rid of the place. Well the wheels had come off that wagon in no uncertain fashion and my hopes of avoiding attention had ultimately proved futile.
It hadn’t helped, of course, that I’d been frogmarched off for a thrashing in the library barely the minute I had taken my coat off. With an entrance like that, any hope I’d had of melting into the background was effectively dead in the water. Now the entire Hall was talking about the new girl who had scarce managed to wipe her feet before finding herself prostrate over the caning stool for a sound hiding. The story was further enriched by the fact that I hadn’t exactly received my caning with fortitude. The entire Hall had heard my manic shrieks from the library and there was a story doing the rounds that I’d scared the crap out of the peacocks in the gardens. My initiation into Castlebridge Hall domestic service was already accumulating the status of a legend.
Naturally, therefore, there was a good deal of talk about me. This was fuelled by the fact that many of the small army of maids in the Hall were old St Margaret’s girls who knew me from school. My notorious reputation preceded me, therefore, and those in the know nodded their heads in smug satisfaction that they, at least, were not surprised that the old man had had me thrashed the minute I walked in. The maids were all looking at me as if I was some sort of exotic curiosity and there was already a sweepstake in progress as to the exact number of days it would be before my next punitive visit to the library.