The House of Elyot

1888 Part 3

Posted on: January 19, 2011

Florence involves her maid in her plotting…

1888 Part III

Sitting alone at her vanity mirror, Florence found her imagination assailed with those images from the private viewing room she had strained so assiduously to avoid.

Yet they had been unavoidable. The writhing limbs and intertwined bodies were seared into her consciousness now; they had impinged ruthlessly on her peripheral vision until she had been forced to admit them, then they had swarmed in and rearranged the furniture of her imagination into configurations hitherto undreamed of. Were such acts truly performed? Did men spear maidens mercilessly with their…their…oh, she could not even think a word for it…while they were bent over in front of them? Were there ladies so lewd that they would think nothing of spreading their thighs widely to expose their…that hair and…oh, surely a decent husband would not demand that of one? Surely a decent husband would not expect his wife to…oh, to put it in her mouth?! Why had she looked? Why had she not clamped her eyes tight shut and allowed Jess to lead her through by the hand?

Yet Jessie had not seemed to turn a hair at all this awful bestial display. What had she called it? ‘Erotic art’, as matter-of-factly as if she had been describing a lampshade in a catalogue. How very strange. She was, of course, very happy to see Jessie again, but although she was undeniably the same girl she had played with as a ten year old, she was somehow exotically different. Almost foreign, as if she had spent long years in the colonies and returned with a quite new set of moral and behavioural codes. Or would Florence have been the same, had she stayed in Camberwell?

“Do you want me to lace you now, Miss?”

Florence’s uncomfortable train of thought was abruptly derailed by her maid’s enquiry.

“Oh…yes, Molly,” she said, her tone still somewhat distrait. “Tightly as you can, please. You know Lord Hunter-Fox dines here tonight?”

“Oh, yes, I heard he was coming.” Molly began to criss-cross the laces up the back of the constricting whaleboned armature. “I shall stay below stairs. He frightens me, Miss. Such a severe gentleman, he is.”

“Indeed.” Florence frowned, thinking that Molly was unaccountably more familiar with her these days, and wondering what had encouraged her to confide such thoughts. Did she imagine Florence had any interest in a maidservant’s opinions? Still, she could scarcely dispute Molly’s summation of the exalted Lord Hunter-Fox. He was indeed an intimidating character, regardless of the great patronage he had conferred on Papa, financing his business until he was able to realise his dream of moving out of respectable but obscure Camberwell and into the cream of London society. It irked Florence that they always had to be grateful to Lord Hunter-Fox, to remember how much they owed him, to address him with the appropriate respect and humility. She felt that it was shameful to be so beholden to him, and it embarrassed her when Papa or Mama apologised for expressing an opinion he might not concur with, or fawned excessively over his every pronouncement. Florence was not sensible of any indebtedness to the imperious Peer, but she did wish he would stop addressing her in a tone that lay midway between disapproving and patronising in their every exchange. It was clear that he thought her quite beyond the pale, so why did he not just leave her be?

Molly puffed and strained to pull the stays taut enough for her lady’s requirements, until the corded laces almost burned her hands.

“Enough,” wheezed Florence, her peaches and cream complexion almost purple. “Enough. Let me catch…my breath….” The young lady stood erect, composing herself for a few minutes while she admired her tiny waist and upthrust bosom in the pier glass. In just the satin-ribboned corset and her lacy pantalettes, she was suddenly, unwelcomingly reminded of those hussies in Vyvyan Stanford’s sketches. Breasts heaving while a male hand strayed down the front of the cambric undergarments…

“Oh, dress me, Molly, quickly!” she commanded, half-turning to point out the elegant blue evening gown laid out on the bed.

“Surely, Miss, at the double,” said Molly cheerily, attending to her task.

“Molly, what would you think of accompanying me on a little excursion…an adventure, you could call it?”

“Oh!” Molly’s lively brown eyes danced into alertness. “An adventure! Would it be dangerous?”

“Of course not,” scoffed Florence. “But it would be secret. Just between you and me. Papa must never find out, nor Mama, I suppose.”

Molly licked her lips as she helped Florence into the peacock silk. “That’s a powerful pretty colour on you, Miss. What’s the adventure?”

“A night at the opera, Molly!”

“Lawks! The opera! I ain’t never been there!”

“Well, not Covent Garden,” conceded Florence. “The Savoy. Gilbert & Sullivan.”

“Ooooh, yes, Miss, that would be wonderful! I often hear the errand boys whistling their tunes. ‘ I’ve got a little list,’” she sang, impromptu.

“So you’ll accompany me? Splendid.” Florence stood still while Molly buttoned the bodice of the gown up over the rippling curves of the corset. “Just splendid.”

3 Responses to "1888 Part 3"

“Rearranged the furniture of her imagination”! So excellent. (I wondered what all that noise was.)

You definitely win the G&S Smut Award!

I think G&S smut is a much under-represented genre.

And I think I need a lovely walnut escritoire for my imaginative furniture…the type that costs thousands of pounds :D.

I think anything that’s A) called an escritoire and B) helps the creative process, should definitely be tax deductable. Especially if it inspires beautiful detail like this 🙂

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