Describing the fury of my emotions over the first few weeks of my employment at Wynterbourne House would be impossible. One moment I was bored to tears with endless hours of hand-cramping writing. The next I was overcome with helpless desire when Mr. Wynterbourne threw me a rare smile or said, “Good boy,” when he was especially happy with my work. Any encouraging word from him was like a bone to a dog, and I gnawed on it for days. My attraction to him grew stronger with every hour that passed.
I caught my breath each time he walked too close to me, which I swear he did increasingly as the weeks passed by, until I was driven mad with yearning.
One afternoon he leaned over my shoulder so closely that his body touched mine, and said, “Let me see what you have so far, boy.” The feel of his warm breath against my ear caused my cock to rise. I swear he chuckled as he walked back to his desk, and I entered my room each evening with my cheeks drenched in tears of frustration to write a missive to Mother about how desperate I was for London, the theatre, and her.
I was completely infatuated with my master, and I had a suspicion that he knew it. I had a great tendency to fall easily in and out of love, and every time I did, I thought it would last forever. But what I was beginning to feel for Mr. Wynterbourne was different. The usual intense emotions were there, but it was as if something deep-rooted had begun to grow inside me. I sought a communion with him I did not understand and could not have put into words even if I wanted to.
One day when master's back was turned, I put my pen in the ink pot, stretched my hands, and rubbed them together. Master caught me at it and asked, “Are your hands stiff, Swift?”
“Sorry, sir.” I immediately grabbed my pen.
“Put it down and come here,” he ordered.
I obeyed at once and walked quickly toward him. When I stopped in front of the desk, he beckoned me with an elegant gesture to come around beside him. Leaning back in his chair, he stretched out his hands to me and waited. I hesitated, terrified of doing the wrong thing, yet he gave me no instructions. I offered him my hands, not daring to touch his. Master grasped both my hands, turning them this way and that to look at them. Then he pressed the palm of his right hand against the palm of my left, seemingly intrigued at the difference in size. Mine was much smaller. The touch of his cool, smooth hands sent shivers through me. I held my breath for an agonizingly long moment, and when I released it, a gentle smile tilted his mouth.
“You have small hands, boy.”
“Yes, sir,” I replied.
“I must remember to let you rest them regularly.”
“Thank you, sir.”
My hands were shaking by the time he released them. “Turn around,” he ordered.
Confused, I hesitated. He made a small twirling gesture with one finger. So I turned my back to him, waiting. My heart pounded as he took my wrists and drew them behind my back. He placed them together at my tailbone. “There. That is where you will hold your hands when you speak to me.”
I looked over my shoulder at him. “If you wish, sir.”
“It is not a wish; it is an order, boy.” The soft smile had left his face. His tone was suddenly hard.
“Yes, Mr. Wynterbourne.” I faced him again, standing to attention as he wished. I looked directly into his dark eyes, their intensity frightening. Then, remembering what he liked, I lowered my eyes, bowing my head very slightly.
“Shoulders back, boy,” he ordered. I straightened at once. He looked down at my feet, which were slightly apart, and whispered, “Perfect.”
My heart leapt at his approval. I wanted to throw my arms around him for allowing me the dizzying pleasure of standing before him. “Leave your boots outside your room each night. I will order the boot boy to keep them polished for you.”
I eyed my toes, seeing that they were scuffed, and a momentary shame flooded me. I just wanted to be perfect for him. I wanted desperately to please him. “Thank you, sir.”
Each night I lay in bed, my stomach in knots, thinking about him. In my favourite fantasy, I envisioned him so overcome with appreciation for my work that he drew me into his arms and kissed me lovingly on the mouth. I became intensely aroused by the image of his firm lips upon mine and his hands holding my head so securely that I could not move from his grip. I wanted him to overpower me, yet I wanted him to love me too. But how could this paradox be possible? I wanted both, but how could I have both? He barely even acknowledged my presence most days.
He pointed at my desk, and I went back to work.
* * * * *
Week followed upon week, during which I worked, slept, ate, and very little else. In fact, much of my time outside Mr. Wynterbourne's study seemed occupied with avoiding Archie and William--especially Archie.
I grew bored and rather sullen, so when the housemaids asked me at the dinner table to accompany the servants into Herstmonceux village that evening for the summer solstice dance, I jumped at the chance. “You might enjoy yourself, Mr. Swift,” Archie said, looking sideways at me.
“Are you going?” I asked cautiously.
“Yes, we all go to the village dances. You came too late for the May eve dance, but summer solstice is always a jolly time.”
“Come on, Mr. Swift; you can dance with me,” Rosie, a very plump housemaid, eyed me with mock lasciviousness. Laughter erupted around the table, I suppose at the picture of the short, very plump, lusty Rosie dancing with pale, willowy Mr. Swift.
I laughed back. “Yes, all right. I'd love to dance with you, Rosie.”
Through the merriment, I just caught Archie saying quietly, “You'll be dancing a merry jig before the evening is over, because I intend to have you this time.” He paused, then added, “Jade.”
Nothing could quell my excitement at going out to have some fun, not even Archie's threats, because there would be a large crowd of us, it seemed, and he was hardly likely to molest me while others watched.
In my second-best jacket of dark green velvet and black trousers with a snow-white shirt and a dark red ascot, I marched down the front staircase from my room, my hair swinging like heavy silk about my shoulders.
Just as my foot landed on the marble-tiled floor, I saw Mr. Wynterbourne standing outside the library door with a woman. She wore a common shawl over an old brown frock, and her face was work worn and anxious. Master put several coins into her hand and patted her shoulder. “Send word to let me know what the doctor says.” His voice was kind, and he smiled at her.
“Thank you, sir. Thank you.” The woman curtsied and hurried off toward a side door.
Master looked at me. He stood several feet away, and I wondered if I should approach him or remain where I was. I decided to stand still, and as expected, I adopted the position he liked, hands behind my back, eyes lowered, feet slightly apart, shoulders squared.
In my peripheral vision, I caught his smile of approval, and my stomach tightened with warmth and excitement. For one insane moment I hoped he would come to the village dance and waltz with me.
“Swift, are you going with the servants into Herstmonceux?” he enquired.
It occurred to me that I should have asked his permission. “I beg your pardon, sir; I should have asked if you had any objections.”
He shook his head. “I have none.” I glanced in the direction the woman had gone, and master saw the question on my face. “Mrs. Denbigh is a tenant on the estate. Her child is sick. Off you go, boy. Enjoy yourself.”
Like an apparition, he disappeared into the shadows. I stood watching where he had gone for a moment, then hurried along the hall to the green baize door and down into the kitchen.
A merry party stood gathered at the back door, and I joined them happily. Rosie took my right arm and another housemaid my left, and we ventured out into the night.
I loved talking with girls, especially when they chattered about men, and I listened to them and laughed as we strolled between the hedgerows under the moonlit sky. The air, warm for the first night of summer, made the stroll pleasant. The servants, including the outdoor staff, whom I did not usually see, were consumed with the freedom of an evening out. Among them was a handsome boy I did not know. He winked at me and raised his eyebrows in a cheeky smile. I nodded shyly at him.
The villagers were already gathered on the green, and the dance was in full swing when the Wynterbourne servants arrived. We were greeted and welcomed, though I received a number of up-and-down glances with raised eyebrows. Rosie had decided I was hers, at least for now, and took to explaining me to everyone who approached.
“He's Mr. Wynterbourne's secretary.” That received an “oh yes?” When she added, “He's educated,” a knowing smile would follow. The coup de grâce was delivered with the words, “He grew up in the theatre...in London.” A nod and a sad acceptance followed. I could almost hear them saying, Can't help himself, poor thing.
“He still likes girls, though,” she said loudly, then swept me into the midst of the dancers.
I had a wonderful time, even if I could not dance with any of the handsome young village boys. Having learned to dance at an early age by joining in the dance practice of the young ballerinas at the theatre, I made a worthy partner and soon found myself called upon by one girl after another.
“Quite the man of the hour, aren't you?” Archie came up beside me when I went into the beer tent to fetch cider for myself and a couple of the girls.
“Just enjoying myself and being polite to the ladies,” I told him. “You should try it.”
“Watch yourself on your way home,” he said under his breath as I took the tankards, two in each hand, and left my coins on the table.
“You're a bully, Archie.” I walked back out into the noisy, happy gathering. “You're handsome, and you're a good footman, but you are a bully, and I am not afraid of you.”
“You will be,” he said in a low voice into my ear.
I'm not quite sure when I began talking to the barmaid who, as it turned out, had lived in London for several years and had seen Mother sing at the Drury Lane Theatre in an opera by Gilbert and Sullivan. But hearing her thrill over the marvellous voice of Amethyst Swift brought tears to my eyes, and my heart swelled with pride. By the time we had finished chatting, the green was empty but for a few stragglers, and I faced the daunting journey back to Wynterbourne House alone in the dark.
“Head for the road,” she told me after several offers of a bed for the night. “Then follow it; you can't go wrong. The moon is quite bright. You'll be fine, Jade.” She kissed my cheek, and I set out nervously. It was not so much the dark I was afraid of as getting lost and being late for my work in the morning. I did not want to incur Master's displeasure for any reason.
I dashed off across the green, jumped the ditch, and began a fast walk along the lane back to Wynterbourne House. Even though I had drunk several glasses of cider, I was not really drunk, just feeling rather giddy and very happy to have spent the last hour talking to someone who loved the theatre and appreciated my mother's beautiful voice.
Relief at seeing that I was almost halfway home was followed quickly by panic when two tall figures stepped over a stile and blocked my path. For a fleeting moment, I thought they were highwaymen, until reason took over--and fear--when I saw it was Archie and William.
“Time to teach you a real lesson,” Archie said. I turned quickly and began to run. They were both taller than I, and their legs were longer. It took only moments for them to catch me and drag me off the road. In the middle of a field, a small copse of willows stood, offering privacy, and it was there they dragged me and threw me down on the grass.
“Remember, not a mark on his face,” William said. “The master likes that pretty face.”
“What are you talking about?” I sat up, gathering my dignity about me, attempting to brush the twigs and grass off my clothes.
“Oh, he likes you, all right,” Archie said, looking about him in the moonlight. When he took a small knife from his trouser pocket, I panicked, thinking he intended to use it on me. My panic rose rather than fell when I saw him cut a thick yet very flexible willow branch before pocketing the knife again.
Slapping his hand with it, he said, “Take off your clothes. I'm going to pay you back for stabbing me in the leg. I still have the bruise all these weeks later.”
“You had that coming after what you did to me. You tried to rape me!”
Archie sneered. “Rape? Don't be stupid. You were begging for it. You wanted to feel my cock up your arse, and you will, after I've thrashed you. Now drop your trousers, or we'll strip you like last time.”
“I'll do no such thing, and if you do anything to me again, I'll inform the master.”
“I don't think so, Mr. Swift.” With that, they pounced on me, and I stood no more chance against those two strong footman, several years older than I, than a small mouse would stand against a couple of well-fed farm cats.
They threw me onto my stomach on the grass. William sat on my back while Archie pulled my trousers down. With William holding my hands securely in his and his full weight pinning me down, Archie thrashed my bare backside mercilessly with the willow withe.
“This will teach you to stab me,” he said breathlessly. The onslaught of sudden, intense pain left me rigid and silent for the first few moments; then I screamed. But when the intensity of the assault struck my senses, the pain left me weak. After my initial scream, I fell silent, barely able to breathe, let alone scream any longer or call for help. The thrashing went on and on until Archie threw down the willow branch and stood panting with the exertion.
“Look how pink his cheeks are.” William laughed and slapped my buttocks several times with his large hand.
“Now the real fun begins,” Archie said, unbuttoning his trousers. He got down on his knees, straddling me.
Amid the panting and loud voices of the footmen, the snorting of a horse broke through their merriment, startling them into silence. Master's voice cracked the sudden stillness. “What in God's name is going on here?”
Archie struggled to his feet, pulling up his trousers. William leapt up and offered a small bow, which was ridiculous, given the circumstances.
I heard Mr. Wynterbourne's voice with both relief and horror--relief that the assault would stop, and horror at being caught in this ignominious position by the man with whom I was madly in love.
Rolling onto my back, I saw that my cock was erect. How that had happened, I did not know, because I was not enjoying myself. Before I could cover it with both hands, he saw it! Now he would never believe I had been abused against my will. I wanted to scream. I would be dismissed. We would all be dismissed for such carryings-on.
With the grace of an actor in a choreographed theatre fight, Master leapt down from his horse. I struggled to my feet, pulling on my trousers. Thank God for the darkness, because my face burned scarlet.
“I said what is going on?” Master's voice rose with each word.
I adopted the correct posture before my master, while William and Archie stood up straight like alert footmen. In several long strides, Master came to stand barely a foot away from them. “Archie?” he said.
“It was just a bit of fun, sir,” he mumbled. “Mr. Swift has been asking for it for weeks. He's always prancing about, flaunting himself in front of the male staff. He came to our room a few weeks ago and tried to get us interested in his dirty games. He took his clothes off. Mr. Beagle saw him. He's a queer, sir. Isn't that right, William?”
William nodded. “It is; it's true, sir.”
By the thin moonlight, I gauged Mr. Wynterbourne's response. His face hardened. I was done for. For a long moment we all stood silent before the master. The wind picked up and began to blow cold. I wanted to fasten my jacket against the advancing chill, but I dared not move. The long, ghostly call of an owl broke the tension.
“William, Archie, go back to the house. I will speak to you both in the morning,” Master said calmly.
“Yes, sir!” Together, they grabbed their coats from the grass and set off, half running toward the road. Master watched them go while I stood in silence, trembling with fear. Part of me was relieved that I would be able to go home to London, and part of me did not want to be torn from Mr. Wynterbourne's presence, even if my love for him were to go unrequited for a lifetime. I felt sick with apprehension and shamed beyond measure.
“Boy.” I looked up, meeting his eyes. I could see their expression even in the darkness. There was no anger, no disgust. There was nothing I could grasp and understand. “Come with me.”
Master's horse had wandered off to eat grass, and I followed him over to the animal. As gracefully as he had leapt down, he mounted the horse in one swift movement and reached down his arm to me. I did not know what to do. “Take my arm,” he ordered.
Still not understanding, I grasped his arm and followed the momentum and strength of his pulling motion. I found myself struggling up behind him onto the huge beast's back. For a moment I was stunned. I had never sat on horseback before, and the warmth and firmness of the animal beneath me so suddenly felt strange. Stranger still, but also wonderful, was the unexpected proximity of Mr. Wynterbourne. I sat behind him so close that my crotch nestled against his buttocks. A precipitate movement of the animal caused me to panic and encircle Master's waist with both my arms. I held tight in fear of falling off.
With the practice of years, Master steadied the animal with a few gentle words and a light slap of the crop across its neck. I remained helpless with fear. It was perilously presumptuous to wrap my arms around him, yet I was terrified to let go, in case I fell. Also I feared I might piss myself at any moment.
“Are you afraid?” he asked.
“Yes, sir.” My voice sounded tiny and terrified. The night air and the open space expanded around me. I began to feel faint. “The horse is so big.”
“Hold on tightly,” he said. I closed my arms more closely about him until my hands clasped in front of his chest. Then, to my amazement, he placed his cool hand over both of mine for a moment. “That's right,” he said. Then, with both hands on the reins, he set off at a gallop.
The speed at which the horse raced was dizzying. Yet despite my certainty that in the morning I would be sent packing, right at that moment I had the unexpected pleasure of the closest contact with Mr. Wynterbourne I ever expected to get, and I made the most of it. My chest remained pressed up against his back, and I rested my cheek on the warmth of his shoulder. He wore a dark wool frock coat of such excellent quality that it felt like satin against my hot face. Even in the fresh, cold wind, I could smell the masculine scent of him, his shaving soap and a clean, new sweat. Closing my eyes, not only to shut out the countryside flashing by but to experience his closeness all the better, I revelled in the moment.
The rhythm of the animal's steady gallop caused me to rock gently against Master's back. With my legs stretched wide over the horse, my cock pressing in measured excitement into Master's buttocks, my pleasure rose with a force I could not control. My cock strained at my trouser buttons, and the up-and-down pressure of his buttocks and the rhythm of the horse became too much. My spend gushed forth, and I moaned, unable to stop myself.
He was going to kill me. I just knew it.
“Are you quite well, boy?” he asked over his shoulder.
“Yes, sir.” I breathed heavily against his neck. Mr. Wynterbourne was a worldly man; he must know what had just happened. I wanted to cry.
We rode across the open fields to Wynterbourne House. When Master reached the house, he slowed the horse to trot it through the courtyard and round to the stables. The stable door opened at the sound of the horse's hooves clattering on the cobbles, bringing a groom out to greet us. With his usual agility, Master dismounted, then turned to me. “Lift your right leg over to this side and slide down on your stomach.”
The groom took the horse's head to hold him steady. I moved to obey but found myself gripping the pommel when the animal shifted slightly. I was frightened of falling, especially with so little light. The groom held a lantern, but aside from that, the courtyard was thrown into darkness by the tall buildings surrounding it.
From nowhere, I felt Master's hands encircle my waist. “Swing your leg over,” he ordered. I obeyed at once, prompted by the impatience in his tone. As I did so, Master lowered me to the ground, and I fell into his chest as the groom led the horse away. He steadied me until I found my feet. “Come along, boy.” He sounded impatient now, his voice echoing off the stable walls in the still night.
There was no wind in the sheltered courtyard, and I was no longer cold. When I walked beside him, I felt the sticky fluid in my underdrawers and wondered with fresh shame if he had felt my arousal pressed against his buttocks. It was then I began to feel the pain of the beating I had taken.
We entered the house through a side door. No words passed between us, and I walked several paces behind him, finding it hard to keep up with his long-legged stride. Master walked me directly up the main staircase and along the hall to my bedchamber door. There he stopped, assessing me from his superior height. I looked up at him, too tired and beaten to adopt the correct posture. My shoulders slumped, and I wrung my hands together.
“Go to bed now, boy.” The gentleness in his voice made me want to weep.
“Yes, sir. Thank you.” I entered my room as the tears poured down my cheeks. I threw myself on the bed and sobbed. I had lost my situation, and I would be thrown out in shame in the morning. I would disappoint Mother, who wanted a better life for me than the theatre. All in all, I was a complete failure. The worst part was that I would never see Master again. I would never hear him call me good boy
, or melt at his approving smile. Even if he never thought of me as anything but his secretary, I still wanted to serve him.
Miserably I undressed and washed my privates. I was covered in welts from the whipping. The jolting carriage ride back to London over rough country roads would be murder on my buttocks tomorrow. I was climbing gingerly into bed when I heard a step outside my door and jumped up to throw the bolt. It could only be Archie come for further revenge.
“Unlock the door.”
It was Master. I threw the bolt back quickly, not daring to disobey, yet fearful of what he wanted. Did he intend to throw me out tonight, after all?
“Please, sir--” I began, but he walked in past me and closed the door.
“It occurred to me that your backside must be sore. Archie thrashed you with a willow branch, didn't he?”
“Yes, sir, He did,” I replied quietly.
“Willow is far too harsh. Personally I would never use it,” he said. I did not quite understand his meaning and wondered if he sometimes beat the lower servants.
I stood before him in my white nightshirt. It had a frilly collar and cuffs, having been made for me by Mother, who was amused to indulge my desire for prettiness on occasion. I had always liked it, but now I felt ridiculous in it, especially when Master reached out to flick the lacy collar with his fingertips. “Lie on the bed, boy,” he ordered.
Confused, I lay down on top of my eiderdown, wincing as my backside touched the bed.
“Over,” Master ordered with a little gesture of his hand.
I rolled onto my stomach, still unsure what he intended to do. Perhaps he wanted to thrash me as well for my audacity on his horse. I whimpered when he sat on the side of the bed and threw up my nightshirt, exposing my backside. My cock hardened at once, while I prayed, Please don't let him see!
“Oh dear, look at you,” he said.
I looked over my shoulder at the raised red welts and watched as if in a dream while Master unscrewed the lid from a jar of salve and began to apply it to my bottom. My skin already burned with pain; now it burned anew with desire. Very gently he rubbed the salve into my blazing buttocks with both hands, his eyes intent, not looking at me but at my backside. His touch was so gentle and soothing. The cream smelled like new grass and was soft and silky to the touch. It was cold and felt wonderful on my raw skin.
“This is calendula salve. It is good for damaged skin. It is very comforting, and it heals skin abrasions. I would hate to see any permanent marks on that sweet little peach of a bottom.” The kindness in his voice left me more confused than ever. Or was he being sarcastic? I could not tell. His remark was hardly the sort of thing a master would say to his secretary. Was he planning to throw me out or not?
“Jade,” he said.
“Yes, sir?” It was difficult to talk with my buttocks bare and his hands all over them. I was extremely distracted, aroused, and confused.
“When you sat behind me on my horse, did your cock get hard?”
He knew! Still, I was shocked that he asked. My cheeks flamed, partly because he knew and partly because of my lack of self-control. “Master, forgive me. I could not help it. I'm so sorry. Don't throw me out!”
“Did you spend?” he questioned quietly. When I failed to answer at once, too ashamed to admit it, he repeated the question. “Answer me, boy.”
“Yes, sir. I beg your pardon.”
With a final, gentle pat, he said, “There. That should help.” I pulled down my nightshirt, being careful to hide my telltale cock, and sat up gingerly. Master sat wiping the remaining salve off his hands onto a handkerchief. He looked into my eyes.
It was all too much for me, and the tears tumbled down my cheeks. I let out a huge sob. The night, which had started out so merry, had ended in disaster. I was in pain, and Master was being kind to me. If he had raged at me, I would not be crying. I threw my arms around his neck and sobbed against his shoulder.
“There, there, boy.” He patted my back kindly.
“I'm sorry, Mr. Wynterbourne,” I apologized. “I'm sorry for everything. I only want to please you, sir.”
“That is good, boy. It is very good that you want to please me.” He took my wrists to unwind my arms from his neck and stood up. “Go to sleep now and be in my office at half past eight in the morning, sharp.”
With that, he was gone, and I cried myself to sleep.