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Making Ends Meet part 3
Uniform Maid in Hell!
True to his word the van turned up to collect her stuff bright and early Saturday morning. Luckily Colin had thought to organise a pile of boxes as well or Sarah's worldlies would all have moves in carrier bags. The packing took longer than one might imagine for a few books and clothes but eventually van, Sarah and her worldly possessions arrived at the house a bit after one.
Her new boss greeted her warmly and helped move her stuff upstairs to her room. Well that would do it an injustice; her quarters consisted of a pleasant bedroom, a small sitting room and a modern bathroom, nestling on the top floor under the eaves. Sarah was quite excited by everything, at home she had a pokey attic room and the house only had one small bathroom. By comparison this was luxury, and she was to be paid to live here!
Colin left her to settle in for a couple of hours then summoned his new housekeeper to introduce the rest of the property to her.
'I don't expect you to start properly until tomorrow but I thought you should get the threepenny tour so you know where everything is. Come, we'll start outside'
He led the way out through the entrance hall to the drive.
'Ok, I know this sounds a bit feudal but I'd like you to use the side entrance, unless I give you a specific instruction, that goes for any visitors you might have too.'
'You're the boss'
'Well I hope you can accept a few oddments like that, come on round back.'
She followed him past 'her' entrance and into the kitchen yard.
'Ok, over there' he motioned to the far side of the yard' are the stables, mostly just storage but I keep my car in the end one. The building at the end is the wash house.' He unlocked the door and followed her inside.
'Washer, dryer, airing racks' he indicated each in turn, the appliances were good brands and pretty new.
'I tend to be a bit of a bachelor slob as far as laundry goes, I will be relying on you to help me break the habit.' There was humour in his voice and Sarah smiled slightly nervously in reply.
Leading her back outside he continued,
'The garden is looked after by a contractor, you're free to make use of it, there's about two acres.'
As they walked back to the house he pointed out several concealed cameras and sensors that formed part of the house security.
'The gates close and lock automatically at six p.m., you'll need the code to get in after that, they open again at seven so the milkie and postman can get in.'
By now they were back inside the house. He took her round room by room, drawing room, lounge, the little security cupboard, library, the kitchen and its various larders and storage. She declined a look into the cellar so they proceeded to the first floor. Master bedroom, two guest rooms, all en suite and a sitting room. Then up to what she already thought of as her floor. Besides her little suite of rooms there were a couple of other empty rooms, linen storage and not much else. As with the cellar she declined a tour of the attic and Colin smiled inwardly at that.
'Ok then, here's your keys' he dropped an impressive pile of iron into her outstretched hands, 'there's keys for the house, outbuildings and the cupboards there. If you need access to the cellar, attic or security rooms just ask. The gate code changes weekly, I use historical dates however I only refer to them by event but as a historian you should know most of them anyhow! This week we are using Domesday, last week was Agincourt, the computer picks them at random from a database of @ one hundred and fifty events.'
Despite herself Sarah liked this little foible.
'If you have any questions just ask. You're uniform will be here on Monday and I must insist you wear it whenever you are in the house and grounds'
'Ok I guess, do you want me to cook this evening?'
'No, not tonight I'll order pizza for us in a while, in the meantime finish getting settled in and have a poke about. I'll get the food here for about seven.'
She made her way back up to her room and decided to set up her computer before collapsing onto the bed for an hour. She ran over the events of the last few days, the job offer, dinner last night and here today she was moved into the home of a slightly eccentric bachelor, that to be honest she knew nothing about. She found her copy of the contract and decided to have a more thorough read. There really didn't seem to be any catches until she got toward the end, she read the paragraph several times, but it was worded quite cleverly and carefully.
'I agree to comply with all uniform requirements, which may change from time to time, and will appear on duty only as prescribed in the uniform(s)supplied. I further agree to comply with standards of appearance as laid out in the employee handbook'
There was nothing overtly strange but she just had a niggly feeling that there was more to this than met the eye.
When their food arrived they ate together and she asked Colin about the employee handbook the contract mentioned.
'Oh that thing, it's still being written but its all pretty standard stuff, standards, discipline, terms and stuff. It's mostly in the contract but my legal guys want me to produce one so I guess I will when I get some time.'
In fact Colin had already got it prepared but he didn't want to drop too much on his newest employee just yet.
Sunday would normally be a work day but this first one she had free so she went into town to do a bit of mall cruising and window shopping. She got back to the Victorian mansion she now would be calling home a bit after four and after changing, started the evening meal. Apart from a few particular dislikes, the choice of menu would be hers except when Colin was entertaining, so tonight it would be a salad with baked potato followed by ice cream, all found in the kitchen. In future she realised the procurement of the raw materials would be down to her.
She had seen little of her employer since Saturday and after eating she was again left to her own devices. Monday and back to Uni, however the first lecture was not until eleven so she had a late start and would not be back till around six.
Colin however had not spent Sunday idly. A quick bit of detective work equipped him with the knowledge he needed to move things along on Monday. So it was that he left for 'work' early but he only had one employee on his mind. An hour down the motorway and he was at his first stop.
This type of emporium barely batted an eye at his shopping list, only an avaricious look as the bill added up. Next stop one of the nearby malls. Colin hated these places but today he actually found himself enjoying the experience as he sought a few specifics. He was done by lunchtime so after a leisurely meal he set off home in plenty of time to prepare for Sarah's return. Back at the house he took time to check out his purchases before parcelling them ready for his housekeepers return.
He caught her as she came in,
'Your uniform arrived, I took the liberty of putting it in your room'
'Oh ok, I'll go and change then'
'No hurry, I've got a friend coming over later, if you can be ready for eight to do the drinks bit, I've already eaten'
'Fine, I best go get sorted then.'
First things first, she needed a shower, so that was the first stop before even looking in the boxes sat on her sofa. Feeling more human she took the boxes into the bedroom. What she expected as uniform was not really clear but this was clearly not it! The ensemble consisted of a black dress she recognised as being Edwardian in style, shin length skirts with petticoats, tight blouse buttoned down the back with full sleeves, again buttoned at the wrist. There was a pair of silk stockings and period style boots with three-inch heels and lastly a carefully styled blonde wig.
Geesh! What is this all about? Well she had signed up for this so she started to get ready. Twenty minutes later and she had everything except the wig on; she checked herself in the mirror and actually found she quite liked it! What she didn't like was the way her distinctly twenty first-century body made the cut look wrong, it was after all designed with somewhat different undergarments in mind! Still it would have to do.
After a further ten minutes she had the ornate wig fixed on her head, she looked completely different and apart from a few odd bulges around the middle she looked the part.
'Ah excellent, it fits'
'Yes, you don't think it's a bit over the top?'
'Not at all, I best explain'
'Please do, not that I mind but I am curious'
'Ok then. I've always been fascinated by costumes and back in my student days I went to see a play set around nineteen hundred. Anyway I was fascinated by one particular cast member who wore essentially what you are now, I thought it would be nice to have my housekeeper dressed the same.'
'Ok I sort of buy that but why this blonde wig?'
'Got me there! I've had a thing for blondes ever since Pretty Woman.'
'Well as long as that's it and you don't want me to fill in for Julia Roberts as well.'
'Don't be daft, but you do look good as a blonde'
'That's as maybe, what am I supposed to do tonight?'
'Well I'm knew to all this too, I guess you do the door bit, coat etc then drinks and perhaps a couple of sarnies later.'
She could barely contain a laugh, he really was unused to this stuff, and good job she was interested in this period so had read several books on domestic life both above and below stairs.
'Ok, if we're doing this right I can't call you Colin in front of guests, would you prefer Sir or Mr Humphries?'
'That sounds a bit Are You Being Served? I'll settle for Sir'
Sarah was a bit young to pick up on the pun but let it go.
'As master you get to choose what you call me, I think Sarah might be a bit familiar, you had best call me Miss Farnsworth or just Farnsworth.'
'Well then Graham, Mr Evans, will be here in a few minutes, I'll be in the lounge'
'Very well sir' Sarah just about stopped herself curtseying and felt a bit silly.
Colin smiled to himself, Sarah whether she realised it yet or not would be fulfilling his wishes of her own accord soon enough. Thus started Sarah's transformation.
Maddy Bell 17.11.02
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