The Countess finished dressing quickly and left Hattie alone in the bedroom.
She took the opportunity of sitting at the dressing table and looking at her new man’s face, focusing her attention on first one feature, then another; reaching up with her huge somewhat clumsy hands to touch and feel. It was undeniably her father’s face but seeing it from the inside was so different from seeing it externally. For one, her father’s spirit wasn’t animating the features and interacting with her. She had the chance to just stare and take it in. The face she normally saw was reversed in the mirror obviously but that didn’t have as much of an effect as she would have thought it would.
She turned her face to the left and right, examining her prominent nose and her bigger ears; the jagged cut of her chin. She picked up a comb and straightened what little silver hair she had around the bottom of her head, feeling it under her fingers then irresistibly going up to the smooth skin on top of her head; running her palm flat across it front to back over and over again, amazed by how authentic it felt, even though she could see the truth with her eyes. Seeing it was one thing though. Touching and feeling made it seem infinitely more real; especially the bald head and the moustache.
“I’m a middle-aged man,” she said breathlessly, and then in stronger tones: “I’m Lord Howard Neville.”
Hattie chuckled, still disconcerted. She closed her eyes and pictured her female reflection: dark curly hair, round pretty brown eyes, soft angular cheek bones and dewy skin. She opened them again and came face to face with who she was now instead, then she raised her chin and in her most imperious affected manner, said, “I’m Howard Neville by George! I own this house and all the land for miles around.”
She laughed out loud at that but felt an odd sensation at the back of her neck that distracted her momentarily until she discounted it.
She was still chuckling as she stood up but she noticed again how unfamiliar inside her mouth the chuckle was; how different from her normal giggle. She quieted herself and tried to do one of her normal giggles but it came out sounding odd and felt even stranger on her tongue.
She shook her head ruefully and went to the wardrobe to choose what she was going to wear. She picked out a three-piece suit, shirt and (after some deliberation) a tie.
Hattie had never worn such clothes – it was unheard of obviously – but she was keen to try. She felt a bit more comfortable in this body now than she had and was keen to experiment with as many aspects of manhood as she could in the limited time she had given herself.
She climbed out of her silk pyjamas, being careful not to look down. She still wasn’t ready to see her father’s penis dangling freely between her legs. Finding some underpants, she covered it up as quickly as she could then put on the shirt. The fabric felt stiff compared to the sheer delicate cloth she was used to. She put it on and then climbed into the trousers, laughing at how odd they felt encasing her legs so tightly. Her shirt required cufflinks that she had seen her father fit before. Still, it took her a while to work them out with her big fumbling man fingers.
Again, she’d watched her father tie his tie many a time but found the action herself most difficult. It took her four tries to get it passably right and she still wasn’t sure it was correct.
As the image of her father became truer in the looking glass, Hattie got an increasing sense of wrongness, but she persevered. It was just so disconcerting to look so much like her own father. Presumably because of her breeding, her own posture wasn’t far off her father’s. In a man’s body she seemed to be defaulting to a physical stance very close or even identical to his and at rest, her face too seemed the perfect simulacrum of his expression.
I’m still myself on the inside, she told herself, but looking at this reflection it was hard to believe it.
Hattie put on the matching waist coat and slipped her father’s pocket watch into the front, attaching the chain carefully, then she slipped on the jacket, completing the outfit but for the shoes. She tied them on; great big black boats that constrained her feet but gave her far greater stability than she’d ever known.
Now, looking in the mirror, she really did look exactly like the Earl. It was oddly far more immersive becoming a man than it had been to change into the maid for that brief time. She knew that the longer one spent in a new form, the more acclimatised they would become, and she had spent most of the night sleeping in this body. Perhaps some further changes had ticked on through the night, slotting her more fully into this new identity.
Hattie shivered, keen to get on with her plan as quickly as possible then get back to her own shape before anything untoward could happen. As far as she was concerned, becoming acclimatised was the last thing she wanted to happen.
Feeling somewhat self-conscious, but bolstered in confidence by the perfection of her disguise, Hattie went to the bedroom door and opened it. She hesitated for a moment then stepped out onto the landing. The railing ran round in a square above the hallway down below.
She thought no one was about but immediately saw that was an error. Coming out of her own bedroom door was... herself: the maid in her body.
Nellie froze, seeing her, and Hattie realised why. She of course had no idea who was really hiding behind her eyes. She smirked, drawn to making more of that than was strictly necessary, then she strode toward the young woman and hailed her.