A Sissy Saga Ch. 18bySnurge©
Miriam observed the assessor from the Historic Buildings Commission with a measure of disapproval. When he'd first arrived she'd believed her luck had changed and he was about to reverse a previous decision and tell her that financial help was about to arrive by way of a grant. That was not what had happened.
"I was on my way to Chance Hall," rumbled Mr Crabtree, a thin, long-nosed man with the piercing eyes of an accountant, "And since Fairyfield Grange isn't too far off my route I took the opportunity to come here and insist you cease pestering the Commission with so many irritating letters. Fairyfield Grange as never been under consideration for a grant, and it never will be."
He had declined to take a seat, so he and the headmistress stood facing each other in the middle of her parlour-office like a pair of pugilists in a boxing ring. She, delicate and sparrow-like, Crabtree no bigger but with eyes that tried to dominate.
"You're being unfair," Miriam complained bitterly, "You're prepared to give assistance to Lord Chance-Barton who's wealthy enough not to need any, yet you give me nothing. Fairyfield as twice the historical interest of Chance Hall."
"That may well be," Crabtree replied heatedly, "But externally Chance Hall is a perfect example of a mid-Victorian stately-home. The Grange on the other hand as been cobbled about so much during its existence it represents neither one thing or another. It's an absolute mess, a dire hodgepodge of a place madam, and those two grotesque wings added during the reign of King Edward are the last straw. In no way do I intend to advise settling any money on this place."
Crabtree had the face of a spade and was as ugly as Himmler, decided Miriam. She looked at him as if he were a serial killer, or the sort of man who put pet poodles to death by slow torture. He was tall and trim and in his mid-thirties, sporting a bouffant hairstyle, and dressed in a well-cut suit that was too heavy for the weather. A white shirt, bow tie and black, well buffed Oxfords completed his ensemble. In Miriam's opinion such men always wore bow-ties, it betrayed their self-image of importance.
She was tempted to attack him with knives at that moment, but instead she turned about to conceal her anger and fixed her gaze on the portrait of Sylvester Fairyfield hanging on the wall over her desk. It was a frustrating sight in a time of financial starvation. She desperately needed money to oppose the National Trust in their claim against her home and the sale of the Laszlo would settle all her cash worries in a single sweep. But the painting had to legally belong to her first, and since it was part of Uncle Albert's estate that wouldn't happen until after she'd won her case in court.
Gathering up her wits she swung about to face her visitor again. "Would you like to have a look around the school Mr Crabtree? I've a number of lovely students here and many of them would cherish a lesson in - um - historical architecture from such a worldly person as yourself. Perhaps I could arrange a few interviews. In private of course."
Her attempt to appeal to the baser instincts of his carnal nature met with complete failure. The man ignored her innuendo entirely and reached for his briefcase. "I don't have the time for any such nonsense. I'm due to have tea with Lady Chance-Barton."
Before he could depart from the room the door opened and Emma Twist popped her head inside. "Sorry to..." She stopped in mid-sentence and her eyes glowed at the sight of the visitor, and immediately sidling uninvited into the room she swung her hips and offered him a broad smile.
"Billy! What a surprise it is to see you. I never dreamed we'd meet again once I'd gone from Leeds."
The man paused in his stride and the colour drained from his face. The sudden change in his demeanour was remarkable. That which just a few moments before had been bombastic and sneering was now one of hesitance and uncertainty. He seemed fearful of gazing at Emma full in the face, as if like some creature from a Greek myth she'd turn him into stone if their eyes met. The sparse flesh on his face moving into furrows as he struggled with a reply and his tone seemed defensive. "I-I didn't imagine we'd ever meet again either."
"But here we are." fizzed Emma. Sensing the tension in the room she held him with a stare for a moment before glancing at Miriam and then back at the man's hangdog expression. Finally she moved up to Mr Crabtree, took his briefcase from his limp hand and put an arm about his waist. "Tell you what Billy," she murmured as she ushered him towards the door, "You leave your briefcase here and stand outside in the hall for a minute while I have a word with the headmistress. I'll call you back in when I'm ready."
Having shut the door behind him she turned into the room and smirked. Her amusement was infectious and even in her depressed mood Miriam became tempted to smile. "What on earth went on between you and that grisly man when you were in Leeds? He allowed you to lead him away like a lamb."
Emma stopped smirking and settled for a broad grin. "Oh, he and I - we had a certain understanding. He has certain needs I've catered for in the past. Why is he here now?"
"I'd some hopes pinned on a grant from the Historic Buildings Commission to help me over a spot of financial bother, and that horror is the assessor who recommends such things."
"From the sour look on your face when I came in I'd say you hadn't enjoyed much success with him."
"He's a bloody simpering jack-in-office. A spineless know-it-all jobsworth." Miriam complained bitterly.
Emma chuckled. "Yes, I know that." Her fingers plucked gently at the buttons of her blouse. "Would you like me to help? I know him rather well and I could get him to change his mind."
The eyes of the headmistress narrowed. "Good Lord, I wouldn't expect you to go down on your back for the likes of that creep."
Emma removed her blouse and adjusted the sit of her breasts in the cups of the skimpy black bra she wore beneath, then before Miriam could make another comment she unclipped her skirt and let it drop to the floor. "Nothing like that will be necessary. Billy is not allowed to shag me. He and I have a special kind of relationship." she explained.
She went straight to the narrow cupboard in the corner and took out a school teacher's traditional mortarboard cap and schoolmasters gown that the headmistress rarely wore. Placing the cap squarely on her head and slipping the gown over her shoulders she then drew out a bamboo cane, and at last Miriam began to grasp what she was doing.
"Do you keep a cock here in the office?" Emma asked.
"In the vitrine, behind the sherry." the headmistress told her.
The strap-on was immediately hauled out and Emma stroked it. "Mmm, a black one. That will suit the colour scheme and the mood. And you always seem to favour the jumbo size, which is nice." Without pausing to consider anything else she buckled it onto her thighs, and when she'd finished she gave it a joyous shake with one hand whilst bringing the cane down with a sharp swish with the other.
The slash of red lipstick on her mouth drew into a demonic expression. Her skimpy black underwear and black stockings together with the jutting black penis and schoolmaster regalia gave her the appearance of a teacher from hell. Clearly now, she was one who would accept nothing short of abject obedience.
Miriam had yet to recover completely from her surprise. "I'm beginning to understand. You provide some answer to that vile man's kinky masochistic tendencies. Do you use the cock on him?"
Miss Twist gave a small shrug of her shoulders that could have meant anything. "Not always. The little pantomimes Billy and I play out don't always have the same ending, but he expects to be treated with severity and never complains of the form it takes. And he likes me to wear one. It tells him exactly who the boss is and that's important. I'll need an hour alone with him Miriam. Is that okay? If it's a grant of money you want from him I can guarantee you he'll award you the maximum amount."
Still slightly shocked by the overt sexuality being flaunted in her study, Miriam nodded. Emma held the bamboo cane in the fingers of both hands and bent it double to test its pliancy. "Send him in when you leave. Tell him teacher is ready to see him now."
The hall outside was deserted of other people, which was a mercy for Mr Crabtree. Miriam found him standing obediently outside the door, back against the wall and face cast down, looking every bit the nervous schoolboy who knew he was in for a hard time. He seemed immobilised by his own imagination, gripped by some fetish he probably didn't even understand himself, but which revolved around the role played by Emma Twist.
"Go in Crabtree. Miss Twist will see you know." she told him curtly.
The normally loud man was barren of words and his attempt at what was probably intended as a grovelling apology was aborted before it started by Emma's voice rasping sternly from inside the room.
The man trembled visibly. "Is she going to be cruel to me?"
"I've no idea Billy. But I think it best if you do as she wishes."
Emma's voice called again, more urgent and dangerously impatient now. "Don't keep me waiting Billy. Come in and take your trousers off. You and I have something to discuss."
The man immediately panicked. "Yes, Miss. S-sorry Miss." Offering Miriam only a shamefaced glance he silently slunk away through the office door and closed it.
Money was at last beginning to swell Miriam Hancock's war chest, and feeling confident and in a position of strength she was quite willing to meet a representative of the Trust to discuss an amicable arrangement.
The lady from the National Trust announced herself warmly as Pamela Upduff. Miriam assessed her behind a polite smile as she led her into her study. She was smartly dressed, about fifty and had no rings on her fingers, so she was probably unmarried. She also had a well-boned face which had probably been lifted. Miriam was quite certain it had been lifted. Gloria brought in coffee and Miriam, not in the mood to be civil, ostentatiously served herself first. "Well!" she said, reclining in her chair and glaring.
"I should like to say," Pamela began with a smile - as she always began, "how deeply the Trust appreciates your willingness to hear its point of view. It really is the best way forward with them and will pay dividends in the future."
Miriam grimaced her hostility. "I'm not about to give in to them. I intend to fight their claim to my house. I've enough funds now to invite Sir Gordon Pettifore QC to present my case in court, and as you may know, when it comes to matters of probate he's the best there is."
Her visitor offered her a sad smile. "Yes of course, but you won't know yet that you've been gazumped. Sir Gordon as already accepted a better offer from The Trust to represent them." She shook her head soulfully. "Lawyers. However eminent they become they're always so avaricious, aren't they? What would you do with them?"
Miriam clenched her fists. Right at that moment she could list a number of nasty things she'd like to do with Sir Gordon Pettifore, but the woman didn't give her time to dwell on them.
"It's par for the course, you see. The Trust always win in cases such as this so it would be wiser to accept the inevitable and concede before wasting a great deal of money. And it really would be the best way to signal Albert Fairyfield's generosity."
"Generosity?" Miriam spat. "Uncle Albert was never generous to anyone in his life. He was a shallow-minded scrooge and a devious bastard."
Ms Upduff's smile showed no sign of wilting. "The Trust understands how you cherish this house and what a shock news of your uncles endowment to an organisation such as ours must be. All of us at the Trust appreciate that."
Miriam's shoulders sprang forward. "His WHAT?" Her mouth remained open. "Did you say 'endowment'? Are you telling me he left money? Are you claiming money as well as the house?" She waved her arms about as if to suggest the very air she breathed was being stolen from her. "Endowment!" she repeated. "Endowment for what, for Christ's sake?"
Pamela's smile withered a little, but only a little. "Miss Hancock. The expense - there will be constant expense."
Miriam gave a snort. "You mean you'll except the gift of the house only if a gift of money goes with it. It's outrageous. Such an endowment rightly belongs to me. This is MY house."
"Yes, yes. We at the Trust understand your feelings and you may go on living here, you and your family in perpetuity. That's always been the policy with us. And by the way my name is Pamela."
Miriam ran a hand over the back of her neck and bellowed a rye laugh. Her uncle had made a fiasco of his last will and testament, no doubt purposely making it sketchy and ambiguous and subject to legal interpretation. No wonder the women at the care-home had said he died content. The decrepit old git probably laughed himself to death.
"I have to tell you Ms Upduff," she remonstrated, ignoring the woman's plea for first name intimacy, "I may not possess a Nobel Prize-winning brain, in fact I've probably only got one more O-level in education than most of the Royal Family, so you'll have to bear with me. Are you seriously telling me my own uncle left YOU a sum of money to allow ME to live in my own house? Is that what you're saying?"
"If you don't oppose us you'd be assured of a rent-free home, Miriam. Unfortunately if you dispute the matter the outcome may not be so sweet. Be sensible. Fairyfield Grange could prove quite a viable tourist attraction and everyone could benefit. Naturally the Trust will meet all structural costs to facilitate the house being open to visitors, and you'd only have to meet the annual running costs, which are unlikely to exceed thirty thousand pounds a year for a property of this size."
Miriam did what she always did when she felt at a disadvantage. She buried her emotions, sucked in a deep breath and pretended everything was under control. Control was important she reminded herself, and if she didn't have feelings she couldn't be hurt. It all came down to control.
She shuffled uncomfortably. "We're well off the beaten track and too far off from established tourist routes. No one would ever come here."
"I'm certain that won't be the case when we put our minds to it." Pamela smiled blithely, "We can easily promote a flavour of Wuthering Heights romance about this location and even suggest it was obliquely mentioned in the Bronte novel. That would have people pouring in, they'd love it. Chance Hall isn't far off, and stately homes always whip up bags of interest too. They are all grist to the mill of tourism."
She glanced about and simpered slightly. "I've done a little research on Fairyfield Grange in the Bodleian Library already, and although the Fairyfield family were business people and much lampooned in their time for putting on airs and graces, they did come into prominence towards the end of the 19th Century.
"The Prince of Wales brought shooting-parties here once or twice before he became Edward VII, and there's an indication Queen Victoria may once have visited. Any suggestion of royalty is good fodder for visitors, the American's especially love that kind of thing. When the legal issues are done with my instinct would be to redecorate and furnish all the apartments in the late Victorian style."
Miriam sat down and no longer participated in the conversation, but Ms Upduff didn't seem to notice and managed quite well to continue on her own. On and on she prattled, making it obvious that in her mind the ownership of Fairyfield Grange had already been settled. She wasn't bad looking for a middle-aged woman and would probably have made a good shag, but her verbosity meant any partner would need to stuff her knickers in her mouth before doing anything else.
Pamela said she wouldn't return until things were finally settled, but then there would be some things to arrange. Such things as insurance, a structural survey of the building and an inventory of its contents. Extra toilets would doubtless be needed and there would have to be special facilities for the disabled to meet current standards for tourism.
She would put forward a case for retaining the school of course, but frankly running schools didn't benefit the Trust and it was invariably felt that all education was best left to other organisations.
By the time she was ready to depart Miriam felt shattered, but her feelings were not spared the coup-de-grace.
"Your garden is a masterpiece," remarked Ms Upduff, "Unfortunately much of it will need to be sacrificed. It will be imperative to have good hard standing for motor-coaches and cars."
When finally alone Miriam mused dismally about the future. It seemed that the whole world had stopped. The silence that now descended felt like shell-shock, and beneath the brittle surface of her exterior she was in broken pieces. She had a premonition that however well her case was presented in court, she was going to lose, and in essence the Upduff creature had said that her school, her only source of income, would be closed, but she'd still need to find thirty thousand pounds each year if she wanted the discretionary right to live in the museum that replaced it.
To add insult to injury she would also be expected to play host to coachloads of tourists, or pay someone else to do it for her. That wasn't the kind of future she'd envisioned for herself when coming to Fairyfield Grange and it wasn't one easy to settle for. It was both repugnant and financially unsustainable.
For what seemed an age there was no sound in the room except for the faint ticking of a carriage clock on the mantleshelf and the pacing of her feet up and down on the carpet. A caged animal seeking escape. She needed to clear her head and think things through. Something would turn up and save her. Something always did. Until then she had to keep her nerve, remain calm and maintain normality. The school routines must not suffer and Open Day must go ahead exactly as planned.
The room suddenly became claustrophobic. She gave a long sigh, then picked up a folder marked 'Solicitors' and flung it to the floor. She glared at it for a moment, then deliberately put her foot on it as she went out the door.
Outside she skirted the yard where Hardwick was rehearsing in the open air with the ten sissies chosen for the dance display she'd planned for Open Day. They were all high-stepping and swinging about to a tempo called out by the tutor. "One, two, three. Up, two, three" the ageing dance-master sang out rhythmically.
Still feeling irritated, Miriam paused. "Mr Hardwick, I do hope we aren't going to have to put up with that wretched shouting on the actual day."
Hardwick called his troupe to a halt, and they stood quite still, legs together, arms down by their sides. Unrequested, he then jogged across towards her.
"I shall provide a sound system and the beat of taped music eventually headmistress, but at the moment I still find it best to call out the time."
Miriam felt in no mood to pleasant and gave him a grim look as she cast a critical eye over the group standing in the yard. Apart from their shoes each of the dancers wore nothing but a pair of pink cocktail gloves and a skimpy G-string.
"Their costumes need to be developed, Hardwick, at the moment they create an air of cheap burlesque. On Open Day we shall be entertaining quality people, so I expect some imagination about such aspects."
"But, you warned me about expense, headmistress."
"Damn the expense. Speak with Mrs Pardoe and arrange something more elaborate. Everything that happens on Open Day must be top-line."