Making her way back inside the manor-house she tried to make some sense of what had transpired and what was, to her rising alarm, about to happen to her rather full and bewitching bottom..
"Tess, his Lordship wants ter see you sharpish. Leave the dustin' and go and see what he wants and be quick about it cos ye've got to go into town to the market to get the duck fer their dinner." called Mrs Mopp from the top of the kitchen stairs as the young miss scrubbed and polished the pots and pans.
Smoothing down her black skirts hidden beneath her white apron, Tess reached up to fiddle with her cap making sure it sat atop her head neat and tidy for she new those upstairs liked their staff to be smartly turned out in case some of the hobknobs decided to pay a surprise visit for tea and crumpet.
"Wot fer Cook ? I'm not in trouble am I ?" squeaked Tess with that oh so familiar sinking feeling in her tummy, trying to think if she'd done anything untoward since the last time she was up before the head of the household for her sins.
Nibbling her lower lip with worry, she recalled "the last time" and the painful memories it had resulted in. She most certainly didn't want to go through THAT again !
Grabbing up her skirts she scampered up the stone stairs and headed for her Masters study....
Tess blinked wide eyed at the man sitting behind his desk staring at her as she stood fidgetting before him wondering what on earth he was talking about. "B..bu..but Sir, twasn't me..honest !!" she blurted out, glancing at the man standing beside Lord Twittie who looked snootily at her.
"She's telling fibs yer Lordship, I heard the commotion with my own ears and went to investigate. On my word, just as I was coming down the hall this 'ere madam came running out of the drawing room looking around suspiciously and scarpered like the very devil was after her. " whispered the Butler in the elderly gentleman's ear'ol as he drummed his fingers on the desktop.
"Well Sir, I thought to meself what's going on here then ? So I went to investigate and to my 'orror discovered that porcelin vase, the one that Lady Twittie brought back from the tiger hunt in Burma and was so fond of, lying in pieces on the floor beside the fireplace." he finished, standing straight and staring at her with his nose in the air.
"Oh I say, thats a jolly bad show. The memsab will be distraught, distraught, when she comes back from her irrigation. You, what do you have to say for yourself girl ? Come on, speak up !!"
"B...bu..but...."stammered Tess, as she stood fidgeting with mounting fear and trepidation and the realisation that there was to be no escape.
"Silence !" thundered his Lordship, getting to his feet, "...it seems to me to be a clear cut case of carelessness, butterfingers and passing the buck if you ask me girl. How much do I pay you a week ?" he asked, perching his spectacles on the bridge of his nose as he looked her up and down.
"Four shillings and sixpence Sir." Tess mumbled.
"I do ? Hmm, yes of course I do. Isn't that a fair wage round these parts Soames ?" he asked.
"It is Sir, a tidy sum for a scullerymaid." replied the Butler smoothly.
"It seems you have a choice my dear, I either dock a shilling a week from your paypacket or we come to some other sort of agreeable arrangement. Isn't that right Soames ?"
"Most assuredly Sir. Yer such a reasonable man if I may say so Sir."
A whole shilling !!
Tess knew she couldn't afford to lose that much a week for how would she be able to pay not only for her lodgings but also to be thrifty and able to put a few pennies and coppers away for a rainy day ? Dropping her fair head, she licked her lower lip and sighed deeply for she had been in this postion one or two times before much to her consternation.
"Well Miss, what shall it be then ?" asked her Employer.
Seated on a chair, Lord Twittie picked up the hairbrush and pointed at his lap.
"Over you go my dear, I haven't got all day so let's make a start shall we. I think I'll give you a quick few with the memsab's hairbrush." he ordered, a small smile on his lips.
With her belly fluttering, Tess hesitantly stepped to his right-side and with a soft sob draped herself over his knee.
"Did you pick the best and thickest you could find ?" he asked her offhandedly as he whacked her with the broad brush.
"Ohowww, yes Sir." she winced feeling the dull thud over her skirt.
"Did you tie them in a sturdy bunch ?" he asked as he flipped her long black skirt up over her back and opened the seat of her bloomers to his rapt gaze. Lifting the brush, he walloped her again, this time on her bare bum as it peeked out from the gap.
"Aow...as tight as tight can be Sir, truly !!" she squealed softly, feeling the cold air replaced with a stinging warmth.
"Jolly good girl, I'll give you the birching once I've reddened you up a bit."
"Eeeeek, oh that stings Sir, pleeeeeease stop !!"
"Nonsense girl, I've only just started, besides you've got a firm botty there my dear that can take a proper thrashing by the looks of it. So grit your teeth and say OW !!"
"Bend over, hold it open. Come on girl stop dilly-dallying or else I'll be here all day and miss my bridge night. That's more like it, now stand still...staaaaaaand still" he ordered. Taking careful aim, he drew back the birch and swished it in hard.
"AGGGGGGGGH SIR that stings sooo much!!" squealed Tess, stamping her feet and tossing her head.
"Tsk, silly moo, of course it stings. Its meant to, now come on get back into position and I'll give you another one for luck. " he said, pushing her back down with his free hand.
Just as he was about to swish the birch down on Tess's vulnerable bum for the last time there was a loud rapping at the door which made him jump and her squeak with alarm at her undignified position.
"Enter !!" bellowed Lord Twittie.
Soames the Butler entered carrying a hot toddy that steamed gently.
"I thought a little refreshment might be in order Sir." he explained, totally ignoring the bare bummed lass who was still standing bent from the waist with her hands on her knee's looking wide-eyed and uncomfortable at having been discovered thus...especially by the loathsome Mr Soames.
"Oh jolly good show. Dealing out a thrashing brings on quite a sweat watto !!" grunted his Master as he carefully picked the glass from the tray and had a sip.
For the first time since entering the room, the Butler cast a glance at the young maid who noticed his look with a frown. Her frown got wider as Lord Twittie replaced the glass and picked up the awful bunch of twigs again and moved behind her, practicing his swing as if he was getting ready to go serve at tennis. Watching this, Soames raised his hand to his lips and coughed...
"Sir, if I may be so bold. Having had no little experience in these matters whilst dealing with the female staff downstairs perhaps I can partake a tip or two ?"
Looking both bemused and surprised for a second, Lord Twittie stepped back and handed his Butler the birch.
"Eh ? Oh, an expert you say. Why not ?" he blustered standing aside watching as Soames rolled up his sleeve, taking one or two experimental swipes through the air.
"Oh yes Sir, there are times when one has just got to take a firm and disciplined stance with the younger members of the cavalry....and not so young come to think of it.".
"Dash it Soames, you mean....?" gasped Lord Twittie with a twinkle in his eye.
"Yes Sir, Cook. Though I don't use the birch on her Sir seeing she's of more mature years. No, it takes a good bakers dozen with a thin bamboo cane to smarten her ways up. By the time I'm finished with her, her backside looks like a garden gate."
"Crikey, you don't say..." mumbled his Lordship as he tootted on his pipe thoughtfully.
Even Tess was surprised at the revelation, so much so that she nearly forgot about her own predicament....nearly, but not quite as Soames moved behind her and carefully measured his swing by lightly tapping on her swollen, criss-crossed bottom until he was satisfied.
"But, with your permission Sir let us get back to the small matter of me showing his Lordship how to professionally birch a naughty young maids bum."
"Toppo my good man, simply splendid. I was only going to give her one more when you entered but seeing as my technique isn't what it should be, you can start again. Twelve I think it was..."
Tess waggled her ruby red derriere, gasped and turned around.
"B..ber..but Sir, I.." she sniffed, feeling her eyes misting over with tears.
But her plea's fell on deaf ears for Soames had already raised his arm back and......therwick.
In the study, a short while later....
" I trust, it was to your satisfaction Sir.?" asked Soames the Butler as he leaned forward, taper in hand and carefully lit his Lordship's bullhandled pipe.
Puffing happily, Lord Twittie sat back in his leather chair and nodded," Splendid, absolutely top-oh Soames. She's a frisky little filly with a delectable derriere that one er....whats her name again ?"
"Tess Sir, she's the chambermaid downstairs. You've dealt with her once or twice before."
"Ah yes, never could remember their names, all look the dashed same to me these days. Though don't know how I'm going to explain to the memsab that another of her precious trinkets has disappeared again. You'll have to be more careful in what you select Soames, can't have anyone getting suspicious can we ?"
"No Sir, I'll only break things that aren't so valuable in future." he promised.
"Good man. Hmmmm, come to think of it Soames, I seem to recall a most fetching and downright buxom young girl with brown hair wandering around." he wondered, scratching his nose.
"That would be Betty Sir, she works in the kitchen peeling the vegetables."
"Does she now....hmmmmmm, thats interesting." pondered his Lordship reaching up to twiddle his handlebar moustache with a glint in his eye.
Bending down, Soames whispered in his ear.
"I hear tell, she's a wee bit clumsy and a bit of a butterfingers Sir."
"You don't say Soames...you don't say."