Wednesday, 16 December 2015

LADY ANN'S DISGRACE: Chapter One - Part One

Lord Howard Neville had always been, to his mind, a fairly perfect specimen of manhood. As the Earl of Griply, a wealthy, titled gentleman, he had possessed all the attributes he could have wished. At fifty seven years of age, this towering well-built man had crafted a life and persona for himself that satisfied every aspiration he had. He was over six feet tall with a proud jutting chin and a stern brow, a thick, silver handlebar moustache and a bald head. With his irascible egocentric character, he dominated every situation he found himself in, perfectly secure in his position and his power, his physicality and, most of all, his masculinity.

But when he opened his eyes from sleep and realised he was still trapped in the cellar of his home, he remembered again how utterly all these qualities had been stripped away.

He wasn’t the lord of the manor anymore. He wasn’t even a man. He was a pitiful wench; a serving girl; the lowly maid-of-all-work. He was still Nellie Barrow.

He raised his skinny arms and hands up where he could see them and moaned. There was almost no light coming from the steep and narrow stair leading up to the house and precious little coming from the tiny windows at the top of the walls at ground level, dirty and obscured as they were by foliage. The arms seemed so weak, so unlike the steely limbs he should have been seeing. The fingers were so tiny.

He felt his body: the thin legs inside the dress (dress!) he had been forced to wear, the round tummy, the oddly shaped breasts. Touching the maid uniform he was trapped in made him want to weep but the idea of that was just as horrifying. He covered his face in his hands and muttered, “Why me? Oh Lor’, why me?”

But even that chilled him further. He could hear the difference in the way he talked now. Even his dialect was being stripped from him. Straight from sleep, without any kind of forethought, his choice of words, the simpering lower class inflexion: they were those of the common maid he had been turned into. Gone were his brash, confident tones and hard well-bred consonants and the weak ignorant sounds stripped him even further of his confidence.

He recalled the terrible events of the previous day: the humiliation of waking up to find himself transformed into the body of one of his own housemaids; being forced to act out the part as though he truly belonged in it despite all his efforts to stand up to the higher servants who were now his “superiors.” And the worst: finally confronting the imposter who had taken his place as the Earl and learning just how complete his doppelganger’s disguise was as he faced the full ire and retribution he would have meted out himself for such impertinence.

He couldn’t believe that this could have happened to him, with still no clue as to how. He couldn’t believe that the fake Earl had been so real. He couldn’t believe the butler, Powell, had made him spend the night down here in the cellar. But more than anything else, he couldn’t believe that he had stayed here, trapped and punished like a snivelling simpleton, even though the door hadn’t been locked. He could have left at any time in the night but he had been too afraid. He had gone on following their terrible ruling out of fear.

Why hadn’t he left in the night? Why hadn’t he gone back to at least his maid’s room in the attic? Why hadn’t he gone up to the first floor and demanded the imposter Earl get out of his bed and give him his life back?

But the answer was obvious.

He was afraid? He wasn’t himself. He wasn’t acting like himself. All that confidence and surety that he could solve any problem for himself had been stripped from him. He wasn’t Lord Howard Neville – not at the moment. He was only Nellie Barrow. And Nellie Barrow couldn’t risk the enmity of the butler, and most certainly not the Earl. Nellie Barrow wouldn’t dare confront anyone, let alone a powerful aristocratic man. Nellie Barrow would be too petrified to go against a direct order to remain in the cellar.

“I’m Nellie Barrow now,” he whimpered forlornly. “I’m Nellie Barrow and there ain’t two ways about it.”

There was a scrape and a rattle from the top of the cellar steps. Howard flinched back into the folds of his maid’s uniform, terribly worried as the door up there opened a crack then pushed open fully. More light spilled down the tatty wooden steps but he couldn’t see who was there. He was terrified it would be the fake Earl but instead the voice of the butler came down, lanced with chill authority.

“Nellie, get yourself up these steps now before I have a mind to lock you down there for good.”

Howard jerked up to his feet and hastened to follow his instructions, rushing up the narrow staircase. Powell stood at the apex glaring down at him and he wilted still further under those merciless eyes.

“Well?” snapped Powell. “What have you got to say for yourself girl?”

Howard stammered. This was the moment when he could stand up for himself; try to explain the truth of this magical exchange or at least attempt to rebuild some of his pride and self confidence. Instead he said, “I’m so sorry Mr Powell. I done wrong. I shouldn’t’a talked to the Earl. I should have done as I was told.”

Powell glared coldly and Howard wilted further.

“I’m so sorry sir. I’m sorry. I should have known my place,” he said, hating himself for saying those things but truly unable to do any different.

“Have you learned your lesson?” asked Powell.

“Yes sir. Certainly. I have,” stammered Howard, eager to please him; to be allowed egress from the cold dankness and be given a chance to remain in Griply Hall long enough to find some way to change back to being himself,

“Then get upstairs and make yourself presentable,” snapped Powell, “and be quick about it. There are chores to be done and the family will be awake soon.”

“Yes sir. Thank you sir,” gushed Howard, rushing past him and heading for the servant’s staircase. “I’m sorry sir. I won’t let you down.”

But inside his throbbing head, Howard knew he had let himself down. He was losing track of everything that made him who he was. If he wasn’t careful he was going to end up living the life of this maid willingly and subserviently.





12 comments:

  1. "I should have known my place" so many interpretations. I love it!

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    1. And so the new chronicle begins...

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  2. Great start. How themighty have fallen, Fear is a powerful forc. The earl is in acrcible & he is melting, his ld self is being moldend & his or HEr nw body & mind can not contain the old one. Even if the former Earl got his bod back he probably couldn't resume his former existance. Hattie's plan has obviously gone too far & se also has been trapped by it.
    I wonder what will happen when the new Reggie goes home? Also what plans the new Lady Hattie will put in place to make sure she doesn't lose her wonderful new body & life? &how will Reggie like being a middle age woman? What a tangled web Hattie has woven & she too is caught in its coils. Verhy well written.

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    1. Thanks Eric. Yeah. There's a lot going on and a LOT to come!

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  3. Hope you are feeling better. A good start to the new section of lady Anne. I wonder how lady anne is going with richard and his mum but as i suspect all will be revealed in time

    Rob

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  4. Glad to see you're feeling better!

    I don't know who is worse--Powell (who acts like he's higher than he is), Hattie (for obvious reasons, she's probably an even bigger jerk now after becoming her father), Nettie (who is the one who gets Reggie in trouble, and is a rotten older sister), Richard Hurley (who doesn't really love Ann and can't stand up to his own mother), or Lady Hurley (who is probably a bigger misogynist than Hattie!Earl, which makes her a total hypocrite considering she's the one in power). I hope they all get their just desserts. -Luka

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  5. Well, it's the first of January 2016 - wow!

    I'd just like to wish Emma and her family a Happy New Year and the same to all Finnfans.

    I'm sure we all wish Emma a speedy recovery for her and her family's sake. I know we're all wishing her the best for 2016 and that she can put the last few weeks of 2015 firmly behind her.

    love

    Robyn H

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    1. Thank you Robyn. That means more to me than you can know.

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  6. Finally caught up at last after many, many months with a lot of earlier episodes over the break and found it to be very interesting, especially psychologically !

    Assuming I've understood it all correctly a few thoughts if I may perhaps concerns, regarding both the latest new title and for the original Lady Anne herself who is now Burt. Because I feel she's the one who's suffered the most out of everyone as she'd had no real self-interest or upward aspirations originally like I think nearly everyone else had.

    So I think, again if I've understood the meaning correctly, it's a bit harsh to say it's her disgrace really as it wasn't her original intention to disgrace herself only done basically out of curiosity; as well as a chance to escape for a while from Society's boring and stifling impositions and restrictions. Rather all coming about I think as a result of unexpected outside human influences and not just from the pendant alone.

    Which is why I think it would be nice to one day see her finally restored back to her own body as I feel she's been overlooked and ignored a lot. Only this time bringing back with her all the sympathy and understanding for the lowest folk that she's no doubt learnt on the way; perhaps placing a now much wiser elder sister's ethical brake on some of Hattie's more spiteful impulses ?

    Equally perhaps Hattie, who from memory seems to be the only one still retaining some of her original identity, could start feeling some remorse for her sister's current lot as well ? For example some old childhood affection Hettie had had for Lady Anne unexpectedly surfacing, pricking her conscience after so long to deliberately restore Lady Anne back to her rightful position in society again ?

    With perhaps Burt, if he isn't already (?) back to his original self in exchange.... ?

    How different Lady Anne might perhaps also be as a person once fully restored back to herself, the intriguing aspect then being how Lady Anne would then cope with everything this time round, because she's the only one I think (?) of the original family who knows about the pendant.

    Perhaps getting hold of the pendant and giving Hattie a little taste of her own medicine and be on the receiving end by say making her Burt for a spell....lol !

    Finally to perhaps spare a thought for the poor old pendant itself, who must by now I think be feeling pretty shattered and exhausted and possibly in need of some sort of ethical recharge and sustenance soon as well :)

    Whatever happens many thanks for a great and imaginative long running story, so hope that you and your family have a really Happy and Healthy New Year and that you're now well on the road to recovery....


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    1. Thank you for this. It's interesting to here your thoughts. You should sign your comments though.

      In fact the Lady Ann's Disgrace title refers to events in the new book that have yet to occur. We'll have to wait and see when they come.

      I have to say it's unlikely the original Ann will get her first body back as I don't tend to end things in that kind of Disney way. But that isn't to say we won't see a happy ending for... some of our characters... one day.

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