It was just after ten o’clock when the carriage pulled up in front of the homes along St. Andrew’s Square. As usual, a light mist was falling from the murky London sky and the cabbie hopped down to give the girl a hand. Normally he wouldn’t have bothered, considering the quality of her dress, but she was a right beauty. Her face was almost perfect porcelain, with sparkling sapphires set in cream. Her nose was turned upward just a smidgen, giving her small mouth and thick lips a perpetual bemused expression. Her hair, ringed locks of gold, cascaded down around the sides of her head, peeking out from beneath the veil she wore against the dreary sky.
She couldn’t have been more than eighteen years of age, and a beauty, but her clothing marked her, at least to the cabbie’s well-tuned eyes. He didn’t need to be a “consulting detective” to see that she was unemployed and hoping for work, or that this outfit was the single best thing she owned. She lacked the sophisticated grace of a proper finishing school and unless something lucky happened to her… well… that didn’t bear thinking about. Still, there was something about her wide-eyed amazement as she took in the stately row of homes before her that made him want to smile.
She returned the cabbie’s grin and handed out her luggage. It was thick enough to carry perhaps two or three days’ worth of clothing, but from the way it felt in his hand he doubted there was much in it at all. His experienced eye saw that the edges were well worn and the leather was cracking.The handle, which had once been screwed onto the frame, was missing a fastener and had been reattached with a simple scrap of wire. A small detail, barely noticeable, unless one was looking.
She hopped down, a pleasant smile on her face. “Now then sir,” she said brightly. “How much do I owe you?”
“Shilling and four-pence, miss.” He smiled to take the sting out of it. Her eyes widened and he could see her swallow and he mentally cursed himself. She didn’t have it. Then she seemed to steel herself, nodded respectfully at him, and brought out her purse. When she opened the tiny bag his heart fell. She had the fare, but there were only two coins in the small satchel. She fished out the two shillings and handed them over. He didn’t even consider the possibility that she was intending to tip him. He carefully counted out her change and passed it back. She looked at him gratefully and then she curtsied.
“Thank you, sir.” It came out as a whisper.
He shook his head with a rueful smile. “Whatever you’re seeking here Miss, I hope you find it.”
She smiled again and he felt a sudden warmth in his heart. “I hope so too. Not many options left.”
He touched the brim of his cap. “Best of luck, miss.” Then he climbed back up into his cab and flicked the reigns. The sound of the horses’ hooves were loud against the cobblestone but faded quickly into the London drizzle.
She pulled out the advertisement. It was dog-eared and heavily folded, but her keen eyes were able to compare the addresses. The cabbie had done as promised, delivering her exactly in front of 38 St. Andrew’s Square. A small, metal set of numbers adorned the lintel above the door. She clutched her valise tighter in her hand. She nodded to herself and then resolutely marched up the short set of stairs to the door.
She fidgeted nervously, smoothing down the dark skirt she wore, wishing she could have afforded a corset. Still, she was trim enough. She checked to make sure the buttons of her shirt were buttoned all the way to her collar, and when she was as ready as she could make herself, she knocked three times. She closed her eyes and uttered a silent prayer to St. Jude, and bit her lip. She didn’t have time for doubts because the door opened.
The man who answered was clearly the butler, or perhaps another servant. He was dressed in dark slacks, pressed tight with a crease, a white shirt with black vest, and wore a close fitting tie. His hair was gray, but he had a kindly face. His eyes softened the moment they fell on the girl.
“Yes?” he inquired.
She opened her mouth to speak but found herself momentarily flummoxed. She quickly cleared her throat. “I’ve come to apply for the position advertised,” she said seriously.
He blinked. “Have you now,” he said deeply. “And are you aware of nature of the position?” His voice was twinged with suspicion.
“Of course,” she said with certainty. “It is for that of ‘passio’ servant’. The advert was very specific,” she chided. “Blond hair, between the age of 16 and 18, fit and resilient.”
He looked her up and down. “You do seem to meet the qualifications,” he acknowledged.
She grinned. “Then I am to be permitted entrance for an interview?” She asked.
He bowed once, a tiny smile forming on his lips. “Entrance. An interview will be at His and Her Grace’s will.”
Her eyes widened and her smile deepened. Grace? His and Her’s? That meant an earl or possibly even a Duke! No wonder they were willing to pay so much money! Fifty pounds for a sixteen week stint of service was unheard of. And with fifty pounds she could buy lodging, fine clothes, even try courting a young gentleman! She curtsied to the butler and as he stepped aside and held open the door, she waltzed in.
The town home was exquisitely decorated and she calculated more wealth in the foyer alone than she’d seen in her entire life. At least in one residence. The orphanage run by the nuns had been a stark, cold place and when she rejected the offer of the Abbess to join the order she hadn’t been given much. Fortunately she could read and the strange advertisement in the daily had caught her eyes.
“Please wait here and I’ll see if their Graces are available for an immediate audience.”
She nodded and sat down on the small bench that lined the wall. Of course she wouldn’t be shown to the sitting room. After all, she was applying for a servant’s position. She waited patiently, humming under her breath. He returned in less than a minute.
“They will see you,” he said gruffly.
She smiled and stood, picking her valise off the floor.
“You may leave your luggage here. I will take care of it for you,” he said quietly. She frowned, a little quirk of indecision, but then accepted the man at his word. After all, he might be her superior in a few minutes. She set down the luggage and then followed him up the stairs to the second floor.
“We’re not seeing them in their sitting room?” She asked curiously.
The butler shook his head. “Their Graces keep the second story of the residence open as a lounge, to better suit their interests. They are both there currently and bade me to bring you to them.”
“I see,” she said, though she didn’t. They arrived at a closed door at the top of the stairs and the butler turned toward her.
“Answer any and all of their questions, and for your sake I hope you ask some of your own,” he urged her quietly.
Her eyebrows dipped. “Ask my own questions?”
He nodded. “You seem far too innocent of this world.”
That put a bit of spark back in her and she glared at him. “I beg your pardon, but I am an educated woman, well-traveled, and quite informed.” She said distinctly.
The butler sighed, shook his head, then knocked.
“Enter,” came a commanding voice through the wooden door.
The butler twisted the knob and led the girl onto the second floor.
The room she found herself in was strange. That was all she could muster in the way of descriptive adjective. The walls were covered from floor to ceiling in Asian tapestries and the entire floor, except for a staircase leading to the third floor, was open. The furniture in the room, at least those pieces not covered with white clothes, as if to protect them against a chimney cleaning, were positioned in odd little groups. There were settees, chairs, benches, and loungers, none of which matched. The room smelled of both tobacco and opium and the girl wrinkled her nose at the contrasting scents.
“The girl, your Graces,” the butler said, bowing once.
“Ah yes. Thank you Wordsworth. You may leave.” It was a woman’s voice and the girl had trouble locating the source, only to spot an attractive woman in her mid-thirties lounging on a nearby sofa. A cigarette in a holder dangled from the woman’s fingers, but what immediately shocked the girl was the state of Her Grace’s attire. The woman wore only the flimsiest of robes and while it did cover her more salient parts, large swaths of bare skin, from throat to… well… her unmentionables, were quite exposed. The robe parted again, showing the woman’s shapely leg. The girl stood there in astonishment, never having seen anything so wanton and inappropriate in her life.
“My dear girl, you look like you’ve swallowed a magpie,” the woman said. “Close your mouth directly.”
The girl closed her mouth, blinking.
“Very good. There is chair, there between his Grace and I,” the woman said, pointing to a single wooden chair, without arms, that sat in an awkward place. “Please sit.”
The girl, still feeling very disconcerted, moved forward and sat down, resolutely looking away from her Grace’s state of attire.
“Very good. I see you fit our physical requirements for the position quite well. Tell me, child. What is your name?”
The girl swallowed. “Chastity Valwood, your Grace.”
The woman suddenly burst out into rich laughter. “Oh? Chastity is it? How droll!”
Chastity gave her a corkscrewed glance of confusion. “You find my name funny?” She asked, slightly offended.
“Oh no dear. Not funny. Ironic. And to the British sense of humor that is an essential element.” The woman cleared her throat. “Harold. Harold!”
A rumbling grunt from another part of the room caused Chastity’s head to swivel and her eyes widened as a man wearing nothing but trousers, suspenders and a bowler cap suddenly sat up, toppling a pile of blankets onto the floor. The fact he wasn’t wearing a shirt seemed to have escaped him as he blinked, then his fingers along his waxed mustache.
“Yes my dear?” He asked, blinking.
“Rouse yourself you cretin. We have an applicant. Her name is ‘Chastity’.” She said the name with a certain emphasis.
He grumbled and coughed as Chastity looked away, appalled at seeing him in such a similar undressed state as his wife. It just wasn’t proper. Though… at least he didn’t look so… so… she glanced back at her Grace for just a second. Sexual.
“Oh. I see,” he muttered. “Now where did I put my shirt?” he mumbled.
“For heaven’s sake, Harold. It’s on the back of the sofa behind you,” her Grace spat.
Chastity just stayed quiet, wondering what the hell she was doing there.
“Please forgive his Grace,” the woman said. “He’s a bit of a hedonist and when we’re between Passio Servants he falls prey to the more chemically minded hobbies those of his ilk engage in.” She said it in a disapproving tone, glaring once more at the man. He didn’t seem to care, finding his shirt and sliding it on. Chastity felt a bit better as the man buttoned up the front, but he didn’t seem to realize that his collar was turned up on the left and so he looked a bit ridiculous.
Her Grace thought so as well when she caught sight of him, but rather than informing him, she snorted and rolled her eyes, both of which she meant Chastity to see so that the girl could feel a little better. A tiny giggle escaped from between her lips. She’d been told that the rich could be… well… eccentric. But she’d truly had no idea.
“I’m curious Chastity Valwood, about the nature of your name,” her Grace began.
Chastity blinked. “My name?”
“But of course. You seem to be an educated young lady. Do you know your name’s meaning?”
Chastity frowned. “Yes. It means ‘purity’ and ‘innocence’.”
“Ah yes, but from what?” The man suddenly rumbled.
That confused the blond girl sitting on the chair. “I’m sorry, your Grace?”
Her Grace laughed. “Never mind him. You clearly know the meaning behind your name, but are you aware that it happens to be a word in the common idiom as well?” Chastity’s eyes narrowed. She had only been interviewed twice before and neither had gone like this. She’d been asked about how hard a worker she was and what skills she had.
“Um, no ma’am,” she replied, becoming flummoxed.
“The definition of the word chastity is the state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse.”
Chastity’s eyes widened and the scarlet blush on her cheeks made her feel hot. She didn’t reply to such a scandalous statement.
“Where were you born?” Her Grace asked firmly, changing the subject.
“South Hampton, your Grace,” Chastity said, clearly relieved to be discussing something other than the source of her name.
“Common, your Grace, and I regret to say, dead. They died of fever when I was five. I was taken in by the Nun’s orphanage.”
There was a long pause. “The Nun’s Orphanage?” The man finally asked in disbelief.
Chastity blinked. Had she said something wrong? “Um… yes your Grace?”
There was another long pause and it seemed as if the lady and man were both privately considering her words. Chastity fidgeted on the chair.
“Why did you not choose the nunnery?”
Chastity frowned. There were a number of reasons, mostly personnel. She hadn’t like the rules and lack of freedom. And there were mysteries in the world she wanted to examine. She wanted to find a man, to make love, to perhaps one day be a mother…
“I felt it wasn’t right for me,” she said finally.
Her Grace hummed curiously. “In what way?”
Chastity considered her answer carefully. “I felt it was too restrictive. I’m a free spirit. I want to experience things for myself, to see them and taste them and understand them. The nuns were very nice, but the idea of locking myself away in that way seemed unconscionable.”
“Do you consider yourself to be athletic?” the woman asked a moment later.
“Athletic? You mean like able to carry and lift and climb, your Grace?”
“To endure!” his Grace interrupted, startling Chastity. His voice seemed to roll across the room like far away thunder.
“Harold! I swear,” her Grace said in exasperation. “Please cut the theatrics. The poor girl is terrified enough without you shouting at her.”
Chastity stared at the exchange. She wasn’t fearful of the man, but more dumbstruck by his behavior. And the duchess seemed not much better. “I’m not frightened,” she quickly assured them both. “But yes, I consider myself athletic. At the orphanage I could sweep and clean and make the beds faster than any of the other children and when the pigs escaped I was one of the few girls who could run them down,” she declared proudly, only to realize how unladylike that actually sounded. “Except, that was when I was a child, very young,” she amended, hoping they wouldn’t take exception.
“Well that does sound very athletic,” Her Grace said approvingly. She sat up straighter and Chastity had to glance away as the woman’s robes fell forward, revealing a well-rounded bodice. “And what do you know of love, Chastity?”
Chastity bit her lip and stared over at the man, who had settled with his arms crossed, his fingers idly twisting his mustache. “Your Grace?”
“Surely a beauty such as yourself as been wooed before? Some young man from the church choir perhaps? An altar boy who fancied you? Have there been dalliances in quiet corners or secret shadows?”
Chastity gasped and flashed a look back at the woman, a flush of anger giving her a bit of moxie. Beneath her long skirt she pressed her knees even tighter together. “Of course not, your Grace. And I don’t take kindly to the implication. I’m not that sort of girl! I’m respectable.” The last bit was more of a reassurance to herself, than any sort of declaration.
The woman smiled warmly. “I take you selected to apply for this position because of the money it paid, instead of because of special knowledge pertaining to the services you would be rendering?”
Chastity opened her mouth to deny the accusation, but she faltered. That was exactly the case. She hung her head and nodded dispiritedly. A sweeping sense of failure settled over her and she knew that she’d already lost the job.
“Don’t despair, child. You still fit the requirements of the job, but let me explain exactly what a Passion Servant is.” Her Grace stood up and Chastity realized that the woman was actually nude beneath the robe. Her eyes widened in alarm as the woman drew closer, her voice molten sensuality.
“As a passion servant, you would be required to sexually service both myself and his Grace, using your entire body; but most especially your mouth, cunt, and arse. You would not be allowed clothes and your pubic hair would be shaved daily. You would be subjected to a variety of sexual torments, inflicted upon you by us. You would be forced to orgasm, as well as bring us and possibly others to the same climax. As a Passion Servant you would be frequently bound, chained, or manacled and forced into indecent positions, exposing the delicate lines of your body to our eyes, and for our amusement and entertainment. You would be directed to complete sexual acts, difficult and possibly outrageous ones, with inanimate objects or even animals. You would also be punished, usually by tawse or the leather sap, upon your genitals, twice per day, regardless of wrongdoing. Your bottom would be frequently spanked and there would be few moments when you were not impaled with some sort of sexual novelty. Your days would ricochet from one sensual, mind-numbing pleasure to another. You would beg for more, for less, for anything we liked, and like the others you would find yourself pleading to be allowed to stay, even to the point of being willing to give up the money in exchange for the hedonistic delights of debauchery.”
Chastity stared up at the woman, her mouth open, her face a terrified mask of horror. Her Grace’s robe had fallen open, the sweeping depths of her décolletage exposed. The woman’s nipples were pierced with tiny silver hoops and her belly button sported similar dressage. A dark tattoo, unlike anything Chastity had ever seen, seemed to spiral along one side of her Grace’s torso, drawing the eye toward the woman’s sex. A trimmed triangle of hair stood out in dark contrast above a darkly pink and obviously wet slit, the petals of the woman’s sex open and inviting. Her thighs were milky white and smooth, the curve of calf and ankle both delicate and sweet. Her Grace leaned forward and ran her finger along Chastity’s temple, tucking a fallen strand of gold behind the girl’s ear and leaned forward, the scents of cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Her skin glistened.
“I’m hungry, my dear. And you? You are a beauty of unconscionable worth. Every bit worthy of devouring.”
Chastity jumped to her feet, spinning toward the door. She struggled for a moment against the knob, somehow thinking it might be locked for a moment, before the portal swung open against her flailing fists. She thundered down the stairs, tears streaming from her eyes until she found herself back in the entrance foyer. She stared up the steps, half expecting the demonic woman to come flying down on batwings, her eyes blazing like coals. Chastity racked in a quiet sob and buried her head in her hands as she sat down on the bench. She wanted to collect herself before she stepped out the door.
A moment later she sensed a presence and she jerked her hands away from her face to see the butler, standing nearby. He didn’t say anything to her, but stared in pity at the girl. Finally he sighed.
“The way I see it, you have two choices. You go out that door; no skills, no money, no prospects. You might get lucky, but more likely you don’t. Either you get sick, starve, and die, or you end up selling what most women in your position always seem to have. Your threadbare clothes won’t rate you men of quality, despite your fresh face, and you’ll be used by gutter trash little better than animals. You’ll catch disease from them and your time on this earth will be measured in months instead of years. Or, you can stay. You can march back up those steps, remove your clothing, allow his and her Grace to to use you as they see fit, after sixteen weeks of which you will be hale, healthy, infinitely experienced, wiser, worldlier, and richer by fifty pounds sterling.”
Chastity looked up. “What about my soul?” She cried, her tears now streaming.
The butler shrugged. “I doubt God will love you any less if you engage in the act of sex. He told us to be fruitful and multiply, did he not? Though you will drink a medicinal herb here that prevents pregnancy. And if he really didn’t want us fucking, wouldn’t it have been one of the commandments?”
She hiccuped, eyes rimmed with red. “His Grace is violating the seventh!” she whimpered.
The butler laughed. “In front of her Grace? Oh not to worry. Neither of them are married,” the butler scoffed. He came closer and then sat down next to her. He reached into his coat and pulled out a handkerchief. It was white and quite clean. He handed it to her and she took it willingly, trying to dry her eyes and then dabbing at her nose.
“Do they really,” she hiccuped again. “Hurt people?”
The butler sighed. “Not like what you’d imagine I expect. But yes. They do inflict small amounts of pain. The thing is that they do it in such a way, at such times, that the Passion Servant always seems to like it. Or want more.”
Chastity shook her head. “I don’t understand. How could anyway want to be hurt?”
“His and Her Graces have made a study of such things. I couldn’t begin to answer. But I have seen girls, such as yourself, so overcome with desire and need that the touch of a whip, not brutally or viciously applied, but sparingly and lovingly, is the only thing that can help her achieve the next level of spiritual consciousness. I’ve seen a girl as wholesome as you, screws applied to her bosom, beg for them to be tightened in order to feel her desire more strongly. I’ve seen girls as pretty as you, offer the bottoms of her feet, her thighs, and breasts and bottom as targets for the switch, because the reward of what came next would be enhanced by the pain now. So no, I have no answer for you. Why do we find it hot or cold? Why is the sky blue? Ask me instead how to find fresh avocados in the middle of a dreary London spring day.”
Chastity blinked. “What’s an avocado?”
The butler smiled. “Stay and find out.” He rose carefully then bowed to her. “I hope you can find your own way out, miss.” He smiled. “Presuming you aren’t staying.” He turned and headed down the hall, obviously toward the kitchens. Chastity watched him go and then she suddenly realized she had made a decision. She knew what she was going to do. A wave of sweeping anxiety swept over her. But she was so afraid!
Still, if she were going to do this, she had to do it right. She took a deep breath. Her valise was there, right where she’d left it. With one eye on the door and the other on the empty hall, she quickly began to unbutton her shirt. All she wore beneath was a white colored breast band and with a growing sense of excitement she slipped this off as well. Her fingers worked fast at the cord that held her skirt closed and then it too fell free. She stepped out of the material, folding it quickly and placing it next to her shirt. She removed her boots and stockings, and last of all, her underclothes. Everything she set into her case and was surprised there was still room to spare.
Barefoot and naked she cast her eyes up the stairs and set one foot before the other. She climbed, her heart thudding hard beneath her ribs, her skin tingling. The carpet felt strange under the bare soles of her feet. Her hands kept fluttering across her loins, one arm tightly bound against her breasts. She bit her lip and had to tell herself to walk normally, to relax, but in the end she couldn’t. The door at the top of the stair was still open and she pushed back through it into the half-lit, otherworldly demesne of his and her Graces.
“Ah, she returns,” Harold intoned. “And appropriately attired.”
Chastity blushed crimson, but it was sufficient enough to make her drop her hands. It exposed the thick and stubby bush of hair between her legs, but also the sweet and delicate curves of her young breasts. Then her Grace swirled into Chastity’s vision. The robes were open even more now and there was a slickness against the woman’s thighs, glistening in the candlelight.
“Child, you have anticipated the final question, the need for us to see your body. And you are perfection indeed. Easily one of the most stunning of specimens. I offer you the position of Passion Servant, for the duration of sixteen glorious weeks, for sum of fifty pounds sterling.”
“I… I accept.” Chastity said, her voice crackling with tension.
Her Grace reached out a hand and Chastity took it shocked when the woman pulled her into an embrace. Her skin was warm and slick and smelled like everything good that had ever come out of a baker’s oven. Her Grace began sliding her hands up and down Chastity’s body, sending shivers through the young girl. It felt so wrong, and yet so right. Chastity moaned as slivers of pleasure danced along her skin. Then her Grace put both hands on the girl’s bare shoulders.
“How…” began Chastity, but her Grace quickly placed a finger against the girl’s lips.
“No. Don’t speak. You have no voice. No questions. You will do as you’re told.” The woman began to walk around the girl, still touching her with gentle fingertips. “I will prepare you for your first duty, your first torment, your first desperate cry of longing. I will set your nerves afire with so much need so that when you finally beg me to take you, to give you what you’ve longing for, the pain will be nothing.”
Chastity swallowed. “I’m afraid,” she whispered.
Her Grace smiled. “I know. But first, pleasure. Pleasure unlike any you could imagine.” She took Chastity’s hands and drew the naked, defenseless, barefoot waif forward, past the hulking form of his Grace and his hungry eyes, into the darkness… and corruption.