Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Wednesday, April 03, 2013 -

The Maid and the Master

by Geraldine Hillis
Published: Apr 02, 2013
Words: 18,093
Category: romance
Orientation: M/F
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"You may rise and dress." Lord Anthony Barrington turned abruptly away from the figure ignominiously stretched over his desk, and stood looking out over the wide expanse of lawns and shrubbery visible from the west window. He waited until the sounds told him that the girl was now presentable, and swung round again to face her. In his hand he still held the heavy leather strap he had used to mark her smooth bottom.

She stood quietly, awaiting his instructions, hands folded demurely over the white apron.

Somehow unsettled by her very silence and passivity, Lord Anthony cleared his throat. "Well, Catherine, I hope you have learned something from this."

Their eyes locked. "Yes, Sir," she replied calmly. "I have learned that you do not approve of housemaids who read Shakespeare."

A muscle clenched in his jaw, and he started towards her. "You do not help yourself with insolence, girl!" he snapped. And yet, he mused, there had been no insolence in her tone ... she had merely stated the facts as she perceived them. He checked his annoyance and spoke quietly. "You were not punished for your taste in reading material, Catherine, but for the theft of a book."

"Indeed, Sir?" The ghost of a smile played about her lips. "I removed the volume from the library, it's true, but since it never left the house, I fail to see ..."

"Enough!" Lord Anthony cut her off sharply, angry with himself for allowing this chit of a girl to get under his skin. "You removed it without permission. In many households you would have been dismissed and turned out without a character. Consider yourself fortunate that I chose to discipline you myself. Now, go about your duties, girl."

With only the briefest of hesitations, the housemaid curtsied and left the study.

Anthony replaced the strap in the desk drawer. Crossing to the sideboard, he unlocked the tantalus, and with hands which were not quite steady, poured himself a generous helping of fine malt.

"Damn it!" he muttered to himself. What was it about that girl which set his nerves on edge? She wasn't beautiful ... certainly not like that luscious little Margie who worked in the kitchens, or the rosy-cheeked Becky from the dairy. But that, he supposed, was the whole point. Catherine was no more like the rest of the servants than a swan was like a flock of starlings. It was more than beauty ... it was a quiet elegance, a poise he had never before encountered in one of her class.

When he had offered her the choice of instant dismissal or a strapping at his hands, she had not reacted with shock or tearful pleas as he had expected. Instead, she had appeared to consider her options thoughtfully, then had matter-of-factly accepted the latter. Her expression had not changed when the strap had been produced, nor had she baulked at laying herself across the desk. There had been no nervous twitch as he had lifted her skirt and bared her, and no sound or movement as the leather had raised ten livid welts on her white skin. Afterwards, she had stood, dry-eyed and apparently unmoved.