Eirin

bymeg1©

This is my first submission to Literotica. While I wish the story to be consistent throughout, I am less interested in historical accuracy. This will be a multi-chapter story, updates will be based on responses. Please feel free to respond with any constructive criticism you have, I do want to improve.

*****

Phillip stared across the desk at Lord Hawthorn. He was screwed, he knew it. Lord Hawthorn had caught him getting money out of the safe; there was nothing to save him now. Damnit, he wasn't going to go down like this! He had worked for Lord Hawthorn for three years already, following him around and 'Yes m'lord'ing him until he was blue in the face, no way was he going to let this overstuffed windbag of a lord put him down.

"As justice of the peace, it will be my responsibility to decide your punishment. Having said that do you have anything else you would like to say on your behalf?" Lord Hawthorn snapped Phillip's attention back to the matter at hand.

Phillip gripped the edges of the hat he held in his hands and twisted them around. He sat forward in his chair and looked at the Lord, "Please, m'lord, I had to have more money! It's my daughter, she's coming out this year, and she says she has to have a wardrobe for it. I have been saving diligently from my wages, but it won't cover all the expenses. How is she supposed to make a good match if I can not provide for her? I don't mind being destitute myself; I have nothing much to live for now that my sweet wife has passed away, but my daughter. You must understand, this is everything to her, I can not condemn her to my fate!"

At this point Phillip stood up put his hands on the desk, practically leaning across it in his plea to the Lord of the castle. He could feel the lord's resolve slipping, and knew if he could just push the daughter thing he could get out of this without too much inconvenience. Sure he would lose his job, and probably not even get a recommendation, but he'd been there before. He'd been conning lords and ladies for years now and never had any real consequences.

Lord Hawthorn glared at the man now standing across the desk from him. The man was distasteful. He'd never liked him, always scraping and bowing around him. He had always suspected the man of being devious, and looked to him first when money started coming up missing from the house's accounts. It was bad enough to have stolen the money, and more he was sure, but to do it for a mere chit of a girl? For this man to put his entire life on the line for a girl who would use it to tease her way through a season only to score the richest man available? There was no excuse for anyone stealing from him, but to do it for a girl was too much. Women are just whores anyway, whether they sell their bodies for straight up money, or for a wedding license, that's all they are.

That's it! The girl thinks she can manipulate every man around her to do whatever she wants, just so she can be comfortable? Well, that's easily rectified. Lord Hawthorn gestured for Phillip to resume his seat, and stood up himself. Clasping his hands behind his back, he strolled around the desk and took the seat next to Phillip. "I understand your dilemma Phillip. I understand what it must mean for you. However, I do not understand why you would go to such lengths, and put yourself in so much danger for a single season for your daughter. She is not even guaranteed a match this season; if that is the case what will you do next season?"

Phillip leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. He was feeling very much at ease now, as he felt there was no way that Lord Hawthorn would not let him leave. It's a shame how naïve some people are; they will just believe anything you tell them. If he played his cards right, he could probably get Lord Hawthorn to agree to keep this just between the two of them, maybe he wouldn't have to leave London altogether. After all, his daughter truly did want a London Season.

"M'lord, that will not be the case, my daughter is exceptionally beautiful. I know she will find a suitable match this season; I just have to give her the opportunity. Even though I may not be the richest man around, and I know that stealing is so wrong, I still felt it unfair to her to let this chance pass her by. She is my only child, and I want to see her well taken care of in case anything should ever happen to me. I would never have been moved to such drastic measures otherwise."

Phillip placed his hands in his lap and looked down at the floor; he knew he had come to the limit of how thick he could lay it on for Lord Hawthorn. Lord Hawthorn is hardly an idiot, and should the plea be too sugary sweet, he would see through it. His only goal was to be able to get out of this house without a fine or jail sentence. Everything else could be taken care of in time. Anyway, with how stressful this day had been, he really needed a drink. Maybe the widow Thompson would be willing to see him tonight; she was adept at relieving his stress.

Lord Hawthorn was aghast that this man really believed he could con him into letting everything go. He and his spoiled daughter would learn their lessons. Phillip might be a weasel, but he came to work in threadbare clothes, his shoes were completely worn out on the soles, and arrived early to be able to eat breakfast before he started his duties. Without having to provide for a money-sucking girl there was every chance that he could make a fresh start and not be forced to steal from his employers.

"I understand Phillip, and I do sympathize with you, however, I can not let this behavior go unpunished." At this Phillip sat up straight and started to beg the lord for a reprieve; however Lord Hawthorn held up his hand to ward off any outbursts. "Yes, you stole the money from me, and I have no doubt that this is not the first time, however, I can see that the truth of the matter is, it is your daughter who is behind the actions. Therefore, I will give you a choice. I will make a full accounting of the house's books, and find out exactly how much you stole. You can either spend a day in jail per pound you stole, or you can deliver your daughter here to me to punish as I see fit."

"My Lord! That is too much! How can I do that? If I am in jail, then there will be no one to take care of her, and I can not just bring her here for you to punish." Phillip began thinking quickly to see a way out of this predicament. He knew he shouldn't have come here in the first place. But, there were few lords more wealthy than Lord Hawthorn, and he was sure that in an estate this big house accounts were often off. How was he to know how closely he followed the accounts? Melissa was going to kill him for this. She was dead set on having a season, but if he ended up in jail then there would be no way for her to show her face at a single ball.

Lord Hawthorn shook his head, "My mind is made up, it is quite obvious to me that your daughter is beyond spoiled, and if you will not teach her properly, then I will."

"What will you do to her my lord?" Rather than look concerned, Lord Hawthorn noticed that Phillip looked more speculative.

"That will be my business. For each £100 you stole she will stay here for a month. That is a better deal than you are getting, but let me make it clear; she will be mine to do with as I please. If, at the end of her time here, she has improved to the point of taking responsibilities for her actions, and I feel it is recommended, I will provide for her. I will see her settled in a manner befitting her class."

Looking at the lord, Phillip knew he had no where else to go. Lord Hawthorn would not change his mind, and no amount of arguing, pleading, or haggling would get him a better offer. This was unacceptable, there had to be a way out of it. He just couldn't think here with the lord glaring at him and setting him on edge. He needed to sit down with a good scotch and think this through. "My lord, this is a huge decision, you understand that I can not make it on the spur of the moment like this. You must give me time to think about it."

"Very well, you may give me your decision tomorrow. Either you will turn yourself in at the jail, or you will deliver your daughter here. Either way, the decision must be made by 9:00 tomorrow morning." Lord Hawthorn could see the scheming in Phillip's eyes. He was looking for a way out of this situation. He might have been too easy on him to begin with. He might not be as innocent as he gave him credit for. Nothing to do about it now, the decision was made, and he would stick by it. "Oh, and Phillip, I would not consider trying to run if I were you. I can find you no matter where you go. I know every boat in the harbor and every carriage that leaves an inn. Should you run, and I find you, you will have the punishment I have meted out for you."

Phillip hung his head. That had been his last hope. But he knew the lord was telling the truth, nothing happened in London or even all of England without his knowledge. Running away would be impossible; he would have to come up with another way out of this situation. "Yes m'lord, you will have my decision by 9:00 a.m. sharp. I promise you." With that Lord Hawthorn dismissed Phillip and he walked dejectedly from the room.

*****

After Phillip left, Lord Hawthorn walked back around to sit at his desk. He knew now, by the look in his eyes that he would not be coming to turn himself in to the jail. Phillip hadn't even pushed him on what he would do to his daughter. Lord Hawthorn wasn't even sure if he would have told Phillip, but he knew that once he was done with her, she would never be anyone's wife. It was about time some of these spoiled girls learned that not everyone or everything is at their beck and call. He didn't have control of the whole of London, but by God he would teach this girl that lesson.

Thinking about Phillip's daughter and her manipulation of her father just reminded Lord Hawthorn of his own mother. She had died, finally, ten years ago, in the arms of her lover. Her husband at the time had been a man thirty years older than her with nothing more on his mind than making everyone's life around him a living hell. But then, his mother would hardly have known that since she had left the house the day after her marriage. He was her fourth husband, and the richest of them all. She was notorious for marrying very old men who had nothing to offer but money.

She would marry them and leave her young son in their homes with a governess while she would go off to balls and parties, the opera and theater. Whatever her heart desired she would go and do. One time she was gone for two years straight in Paris while young Christopher was left in her husband's house. He had been beaten daily by the man while he ranted about where his wife was and what she was doing and with whom. She never once sent him a single letter to find out if he was ok, or if he needed anything. He had been eight at the time, and had it not been for the cook, who had a big heart for all things small, and a soft spot for Christopher himself, he might not have survived.

Christopher Hawthorn shook himself out of his thoughts and started planning what he would do with the girl once she arrived. He already had what he called the "whore's room", a small room in between his room and the room on the other side of the wall. He was not sure what it had been used for originally, possibly a valet, but his own valet had never slept there, and his step-father had often kept girls in there, so that's what he called it. He'd never actually kept a girl in there himself, the one and only time he'd had a mistress he'd kept in his house, she had taken the chambers across the dressing and bathing room from him. What would normally have been his wife's chambers.

Of course that had been years ago, when he was too young to know better. Now he knew no one would take that room until he did actually get married. What a fool he'd been then, keeping a mistress in his own house. She had believed he would marry her, and the ton could not believe the audacity at him not being more circumspect. Calling in his butler, he asked for the room he would put her in to be prepared. There was of course, very little to prepare, she would not be his guest, she would be his.....property? slave? Hmmm, he'd have to think more on that later.

*****

As Phillip arrived home, he noticed his daughter in the parlor with a man. He stuck his head in to tell her he needed to speak to her before dinner and went upstairs to change his clothes. The one good thing about being caught was that until he found another position, he would no longer have to dress like a vagabond. It was humiliating going out each day in such clothes. However, it did give him a certain amount of leeway when he showed up early to eat breakfast and hear the best gossip as it came in. No one questioned him for small things he let slide because they felt sorry for him. That gave him more opportunities to leave his work, and move around the house in order to plan what he would steal and when. As he was leaving his rooms, his daughter came up the stairs. "You wanted to talk daddy?"

"We are in trouble; I think we should go to the library to talk." Melissa narrowed her eyes at her father, but didn't say a word as she followed him down the stairs and into the library. Phillip went to the decanter first and poured himself a healthy swallow of scotch, drinking it down in one swallow.

As he poured himself another Melissa blurted out, "Well? What's wrong now? You didn't get fired again did you? If I had known your plans before you started, I would have stopped you; he would be a much better marriage possibility than just to steal from him. But, seeing the way you go to work every day, there is no way I could convince him that I'm suitable for marriage. The least you can do is hold off getting fired until you get a little more out of the old codger."

Melissa sat down on the couch and arranged her skirts, she just knew her father would mess up somehow. He always did. She couldn't wait to be out from under him. It was such a pain trying to pretend you're part of the ton when your father is dressed like a vagabond all the time. If he hadn't already been doing that for years before she was born, she would have been able to break him of it, and maybe they could have come up with a different scheme. As it was, no matter how hard she tried to convince him there were better ways to get money he wouldn't listen. He wasn't about to get married; he hadn't even married her mother, as he liked to remind her. So trying to win over a rich widow was out of the question. Oh, he'd have sex with them, he had women drooling over him all the time, but never to be shackled to one. He said he couldn't stand the thought of having to escort them around town schmoozing his was into homes, and listening to them tell him how much he needs them. He was just a con man, plain and simple.

But not Melissa. She wanted more than that. She wanted a life of luxury and she figured after the life she had lived with her father, she deserved it. After all the times she had bailed him out of trouble, all the times they had had to leave town in the middle of the night, all the times she had had nothing to eat or clothes to wear. No, now it was her time, and she would have a season. She had even conned some old woman into sponsoring her, convincing her she was her great-niece, it was perfect. If he had ruined this for her, he was going to pay.

Phillip walked over to his daughter and sat down on the chair across from her, he looked weary and beaten. He knew she would be mad at him. Maybe she would have an idea for how to get out of this situation. He just hoped she would realize that they probably wouldn't be able to stay in London, and that she wouldn't be too upset about it. Taking a smaller sip of his drink, he looked down at his lap and mumbled to her, "Lord Hawthorn caught me".

Melissa stopped fiddling with the skirt of her dress and looked up at him. "Say that again, please? I did not understand you".

Oh, she understood it alright; he could see it in her face. Sitting up he looked her in the eye and said more loudly, and clearly, "I was getting the rest of the money today, and Lord Hawthorn caught me at the safe."

Melissa jumped up from the couch and leaned over her father, pointing her finger in his face, "How could you? You bumbling oaf! I told you no more money, you could have easily taken some silver or a trinket or two. We could have pawned them by the weekend. How could you ruin everything? The season starts in a month, there will be no way that this will die down enough for me to make my debut. What in the world were you thinking?" Melissa continued shaking her finger in his face, her own beginning to turn red with the fury running through her.

Phillip jumped up from his chair and started towards her, "What do'ya mean how could I? I was gettin' the money fer you, wasn't I? Yer the one who wants some big fancy to do, with all yer frilly clothes and such. I don' see you bringin' nothin' in to 'elp with all the money we's spendin'!" The madder he got the more pronounced his accent became until each word was cut off and run into the next and the entire rant came out in a single breath and spit flew from his lips.

Melissa backed away from her father and held up her hands, "Ok, just hold on, tell me what happened. If you were caught how is it that you are here?" Phillip picked his glass up from the table and went back to the decanter to refill it. When he had returned to his chair he explained all that had happened at the castle, as well as the choice given to him by the lord.

"Well, that's easy then, I will hate to do it, but we'll have to leave." Melissa said confidently. "However, this time I want to go to France, or Italy. I don't want to be stuck back out in the country again, do we have enough left for a ticket?"

Phillip was already shaking his head as she finished up. "No, he said that if one of us does not show up tomorrow, then he will track us down, and he can do it. I have no idea where he gets his information, living in the castle out of town, but somehow he does. Nothing happens here that he does not know about, we will never be able to hide from him. We are going to have to think of a way to get out of this."

"Well, I've gotten you out of jail before; maybe if you take the sentence, I can get you out again?" Melissa knew from the information her father just gave her that would never happen, but she hoped he wouldn't realize that. To be honest, she wouldn't even try this time. The last time she had gotten out of jail, she had been a child, and had needed him, but he was becoming more of a liability than a help recently.

"No, then we would still be in the same situation, with no way to leave the city, and no where to go within it. Maybe if you went, you could convince him to marry you?" Phillip knew from the look on Lord Hawthorn's face as he was sitting there that he would never marry her, but if he gave her hope, she might go willingly and spare him having to force her.

"Any man that would require you to bring them your daughter for punishment is not going to marry that daughter. If I went to him, that would ruin all chances of me ever being married. Even should he not want to have sex with me, I can not live in a house with a man unchaperoned, so that is out of the question. We will have to come up with another solution. Dinner will be served momentarily, let's think of ideas while we eat and then discuss them afterwards." She started moving towards the door, thinking that if she put him off long enough, then she could just slip away in the night, and her father would be forced to accept the punishment, for she knew she would not.

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