The story continues. Read the previous chapter by Posy Churchgate here After the Christmas holiday Delphine returns to school at the beginning of what is to be Coronation Year.
St. Faith’s School – January 1953
As I looked out of the window I saw Catherine Spencer-Harrington’s dark green Alvis draw to a halt on the gravel before the main entrance to the school. She got out, immaculate, as ever, in an emerald skirt suit, ivory blouse and courts.
“I have been having the most awful day” she said as my secretary closed the door of my study behind her. Catherine sat down and lit a cigarette.
“We have had some horrid little men from the News of the World lurking outside all day. They are looking to get photographs of the Agriculture Minister who, as I think I mentioned to you, is one of our best clients. Everyone in the Conservative Party knows about his little shoe fetish but the great unwashed don’t need to know. It is the most frightful bore.”
I rang the bell and Delphine de Lotbiniere walked in after knocking. She had that look of pouting defiance that never seemed to leave her leave these days.
“Lotbiniere, my visitor is a distinguished old girl of St. Faith’s, Catherine Spencer-Harrington, a prominent London businesswoman and benefactor of the school. When you return with pot of tea, for scones and raspberry jam and cream, you are to curtsy to Miss Spencer-Harrington and then to me. Is that clear?”
“Oui Madame” said Delphine with another pout before turning on her heels and leaving.
“Who is that girl?” asked Catherine
“Delphine de Lotbiniere is a rather arrogant and cocky French girl who needs taking down a peg or two and I intend to do that. She is waiting on us today as a punishment for continual refractive and uncooperative behaviour.”
“She is beautiful” said Catherine “I am sure I could find work for her after she leaves the school.”
“The thought had crossed my mind. I am always on the lookout for girls of an appropriate bearing who have what it takes to please your very demanding clients. But I don’t know. I really don’t.”
“Why is that?”
“Delphine is the eldest daughter of the Comte de Lotbiniere. The Comtes de Lotbiniere go back in an unbroken line to 1223. A direct ancestor of Delphine led the French army at Agincourt. Several daughters of the family married into the royal houses of Valois and Bourbon. In 200 years the school has never had a girl of such breeding, of such indisputably noble blood. She is better than us, Catherine, and the trouble is, she knows it. And she is destined for greater things than pleasuring Conservative MPs in a Mayfair bordello.”
There was a knock on the door and Delphine entered, scowling, carrying a silver tray with tea and scones. She placed he tray on the table and curtseyed to Catherine although without obvious enthusiasm.
“Pour the tea Lotbiniere.”
She turned the delicate china cups over and placed them in the saucers. She lifted the lid of the teapot, stirred the tea, replaced the lid and placed the strainer across the rim of one of the cups.
“Milk first” I reminded her.
“Pardon Miss Ransom”
She poured the milk, then the tea and I could see this was going to be a strong, satisfying brew.
Delphine handed us the cups of tea. She took a step back, curtseyed to Catherine again then to me. She turned and headed for the door.
“Young lady” said Catherine, “come here and prepare my scone.”
Delphine looked surprised. I must admit I hadn’t expected this. Delphine took a scone, cut it in tow and spread cream on it, followed by the raspberry jam, heavy with lumps of fruit. She offered the plate to Catherine who took it and inspected the scone with distaste.
“Is that how you serve scones in France?”
“Madame Catherine, we do not have these things in France.”
“Do you not?”
“I find that a shame. If you did you would know that one puts the jam first, then the cream. This” she pointed at the scone and grimaced “is barbarism. Pure barbarism.”
Delphine went red.
“Come closer girl.”
I watched in fascinated horror as Catherine picked up the scone, one half at a time and smeared the jam and cream over Lotbiniere’s face.
“So then, girl, you are to take the tray back to the kitchen and bring us fresh scones. You think you are better than us I am told. Let me make it very clear to you. You are not.”
She left the room and we could her sobbing as she made her way down the corridor to the kitchen. Catherine laughed.
“You are evil Miss Spencer-Harrington, pure evil,” I smiled as I said this and the smile froze as I realised that there was more than a little truth in thus.
“No, Miss Ranson nor evil. Just hard and unforgiving. Do you think I could survive in my line of work if I wasn’t?”
We drank our tea in silence until there was again a knock at the door and Lotbinere came in to repeat the ritual. She picked up a scone but Catherine grabbed her wrist and pulled Lotbinere towards her. She stood up, took a handful of Delphine’s hair and pulled her head back so that she was looking up into Catherine’s piercing green eyes,
“I don’t like your attitude young lady. I don’t like it one bit. I am a successful businesswoman and I do not tolerate my employees providing poor service to my clients. I do not tolerate ladies who work for me picking and choosing which clients they serve. They do as they are told. Do you understand?”
Lotbinere let out a cry of pain as Catherine pulled her head back a bit further.
She struggled to get the words out as she began to cry. I looked on uncomfortably, knowing that I ought to intervene, it was not appropriate, it really wasn’t. But I could do nothing. I was bewitched by Catherine.
“I am going to teach you a lesson. You will get twelve strokes of the cane.”
“No please madame I will do better next time I promise, please”
“Twelve with the cane and if you want it to stay at twelve you will shut up now. Miss Ranson, give her twelve.”
I had two canes I kept in a stand by my desk. I took one on, with a curved handle a bit like a shepherd’s crook. I pushed the girl over the desk and Catherine stood up to hold her down. She wriggled and struggled but I was strong and she soon resigned herself to her fate.
I pulled down her pleated uniform skirt, them her knickers.
The first stroke land and Lotbinere’s scream of pain was stifled to a whimper but the hand that Catherine had placed over. As the second stroke landed she kicked and wriggled.
“Keep still you little slut!” hissed Catherine or we will make it even worse for you.”
After the fifth stroke Lotbinere was broken and barely moved as the other strokes landed, leaving neat tramlines on her virginal backside. Stroke twelve landed and Catherine released Delphine from her grip.
“Let that be a lesson, Lotbinrere” I said, trying desperately to reassert the authority that Catherine had so blatantly usurped.
She pulled up her knickers and skirt and ran from the room, wailing.
Catherine returned to her chair, crossed one leg over another and lit a cigarette.
“So you had another business proposition for me Miss Ransom?”
At moments like this I found her quite chilling.
When we had finished the tea and scones I led her through two sets of doors to my bedroom. She sat down on the bed. I closed the door and locked it.
“On your knees Ranson Now!”
“Yes Lady Catherine” I blurted out and knelt before her.
“My shoes are a little muddy. Clean them.”
I set to work licking her patent courts, the uppers, the heel, the soles, looking up like a puppy dog for a look of approval from her. I knelt up when I had finished, pushing a small piece of gravel into my cheek.
“Stand up and drop your knickers.”
I stood before her, skirt and knickers around my ankles.
“Show me your knickers!”
I stepped out of the knickers, picked them up and gave them to her.
“Dirty again aren’t they? Nasty brown marks. What are you going to do?”
“I promise to wipe my bottom more carefully in future Lady Catherine.”
“Put your grubby knickers on your head and go and stand in the corner.”
I felt my cheeks burning as I took my place in the corner. I could see Catherine in the mirror as she took her clothes off and lay on the bed, watching me, playing with herself.
It was after Catherine had left that I began to feel unwell. I went to bed early but a queasy feeling kept me awake. I soon had to leap out of bed and rush to the bathroom, where I knelt sweating in front of the toilet. As I vomited I could only think of one thing, the scones. The scones! I felt the chill of fear. It seemed clear that Lotbiniere had tampered with them. I already knew that she was a girl of spirit. But if Catherine was suffering the same indignity? She would surely want to punish Lotbiniere. That, I knew, could not happen again and I had to protect her. But if she could not punish Lotbiniere she would punish me. That I would be powerless to prevent.
TO BE CONTINUED
A post for Wicked Wednesday. Read more wickedness here