“Nancy Wilson’s Holiday Home for Empire Young Ladies.”
In the days when the sun never set on the British Empire you might have seen this advertisement in newspapers from the London to the Bombay Times and all up market newspapers in between. No one ever called it by its full name; it was always “Nancy’s Place.”
In those far off days men and their families went out from the British Isles to serve in all manner of countries in business, administrative and military capacities.
These ex-patriots, like many other human beings, tended to breed, especially as contraception wasn’t what it is now. There was a view held by these people that their sons and daughter had to be returned to the “Mother Country” in order to receive their education. Thus it was that boarding schools, quaintly and inaccurately called “Public Schools,” located in the homeland, served the educational needs of these far flung servants of the Empire.
Nancy’s Place occupied a particular niche in this educational mart. Had you read on in the details of Nancy’s advertisements you would have learned that it served the “Holiday needs of Empire Young Ladies.”
To be clear; when the long summer school holidays came around many of the Empire Young Ladies could not return to the distant bosoms of their families. The reasons for this were varied, but the main reasons given were, the sea voyage took so long it wasn’t worth the trip, or the climate in which the parents lived was “unhealthy,” and would endanger their children.
Beneath these virtuous sounding reasons lurked, in many cases, the desire of the parents to continue their lives of chota pegs and pink gins at the club untroubled by their offspring.
Thus the long school holidays proved to be a bit of a nuisance to these “far flung” parents. The alternatives available short of having the poor wretches join them were, a compliant relative in the home country who would take the child in during the holidays, or some boarding schools that allowed the child to stay on for the long summer weeks. The problem with the latter arrangement was that the victim was virtually without suitable companionship for up to eight weeks.
This was where “Nancy’s Place” came in.
To explain briefly about Nancy; at eighteen she met and married a handsome and virile young man called Gordon. Their wedding took place one week before Gordon was to set sail for some distant corner of the Empire to serve as an Assistant Deputy Commissioner. Nancy went with him.
That particular corner of the Empire proved to be especially rich in all manner of tropical diseases, and within six months Gordon had succumbed to one of the more virulent examples, and had gone to that Great Empire in the Skies ruled over in those days by a Deity that spoke with an Oxbridge accent.
I hasten to add that these days the same Deity, or at least a variation of Him/Her/It, speaks with a transatlantic accent.
Nancy was distraught. Her potent lover/husband, passimg beyond this veil of tears within so short a time, and for all their nightly endeavours, no offspring on the way.
The upshot was that Nancy returned to the land of her fathers resolved never more to permit male entry into her lovely female body.
Now let me be clear; Nancy was no fool, in fact she was a very, very bright young lady. She was also extremely observant and for the brief time she dwelt in that particular disease pit of the Empire she noted the problem of what to do with “the young wretch(es)” during those inconvenient holidays.
Despite her distrait condition Nancy contemplated this problem during the voyage home, and setting foot on her native soil, she felt she had the answer.
Using the narrow resources left to her by Gordon and what she could inveigle her relatives and in-laws to part with, plus a huge mortgage, she bought a pleasant old manor house.
After many expensive modifications the manor house, once the residence of a by then impoverished minor aristocrat, became, as I have said, “Nancy’s Place.”
If that name is redolent of certain lurid establishments, let me hasten to add that Nancy’s Place embraced only the highest of moral standards.
The opening of the establishment was trumpeted throughout the Empire, and despite the exorbitant fees demanded by Nancy, proved popular with the upper and more highly paid echelons of those serving their king and country in distant lands.
Applications rolled in from those who wanted to “keep the little bastards as far away from us as possible,” and Nancy found herself riding on a high tide of financial success.
She was but a tender twenty one when the establishment opened its doors, and so to ensure an air of virtue for her establishment Nancy was wise enough to employ two maiden ladies, namely the Misses Edith and Angel both of impeccable character and middle years. In addition she took on a Mrs. Agatha Turtle, widow, as cook.
Further staff was added in the years that followed but that is not our concern here, except in one particular instance. Suffice to say the whole enterprise took off in a manner not even anticipated by the shrewd Nancy. Young Empire Ladies came to reside in her establishment in abundance, even to the point where Nancy had to refuse many applications.
Not only did these young ladies arrive during holiday times, but many in transit came and went, thus ensuring a steady inflow of money.
Now apart from the desire of the Empire Parents to keep as much sea room between themselves and the “seed of his loins,” and “the fruit of her womb,” to what can we ascribe this success?
Now surely we have reached the point when we must view Nancy in more detail. Not only was she a shrewd woman of business and avowed celibate, she was also devastatingly beautiful. Upon her becoming a widow many young and not so young men on bended knee begged for her hand in marriage, each to be turned away broken hearted by the now celibate Nancy.
This beauty might have counted against her when she interviewed the parents of potential “Guests,” but as you will realise, those parents for the most part were too far distant to attend interviews. Should, however, the said parents be home on leave, or their nominated representative arrive for an interview, Nancy made sure that the Misses Edith and Angel together with the Rector of the local Church of England, who for a suitable fee served as chaplain to Nancy’s Place, were present. This seemed to reassure the parents or their representative that the establishment was of suitable moral rectitude and solemnity.
Then there was the other side of the equation, the girls themselves. Should they write to their far flung parents, complaining of wretched circumstances and harsh treatment, who knows if the said parents might relent and withdraw their daughters from Nancy’s care?
Fortunately, along with her many other worthy qualities, Nancy had a sunny disposition and, being still young herself, had a sympathetic understanding of the problems and needs of young girls. Even the Misses Edith and Angel were not quite the serious ladies they appeared to be, and were known to let their hair down with the cook, Mrs. Turtle (known affectionately as “Dove”) when they split a bottle or two of red wine in late night kitchen revelries, in which they were sometimes joined by the chaplain.
Thus the girls resident in Nancy’s Place found little cause for complaint. Those who during term times endured the rigours of the boarding schools, found respite and freedom from the onerous discipline with Nancy and her staff, and rejoiced.
Of course, Nancy’s Place provided a vast variety of occupations and activities varying from walks in the surrounding countryside through dancing, singing and music lessons, to coaching in mathematics, English, Geography, etc., for those wishing to engage in these activities and get ahead for the coming boarding school educational agonies.
I should point out that there was no compulsion to participate in these “Tutorials” as they were called. They were just there for those who desired them.
For all these activities Nancy had to employ tutors, and in keeping with about her only oppressive rule, these were all female. No male under fifty years of age, the chaplain at that time being fifty two, was allowed to visit a girl unless with the express written permission of the girl’s parents, and even then the man had to be a brother or other near relative.
Nancy was determined that no hint of scandal would touch her establishment; above all no coitus with fruitful outcome.
To ensure the continued virtue of her Empire Ladies even where written permission had been given, Nancy or one of the Misses Edith or Angel were present during the interviews.
Not, you understand that Nancy did not recognize the desires of young ladies; she was still too close to the days of her own yearning. The age range of her charges extended from about eight years of age to eighteen. She herself took charge of those most vulnerable to the wicked blandishments of young men, the fourteen to eighteen year olds. The younger children were in the charge of the Misses Edith and Angel.
Nancy had a very close relationship with her specific charges, and most unusual for those more formal days, they were all allowed to call her “Nancy.”
The girls that Nancy took into her special care were lodged in two-bed bedrooms. It is a clear indication of Nancy’s insight into young female appetites, that she experienced no anxiety when at night, passing along the corridor on which her charges rooms were located, she heard ecstatic squeals and moans issuing forth.
“After all,” she meditated, “Who knows what the Misses Edith and Angel get up to in their shared bedroom; or for that matter, what went on in the kitchen on the nights of revelry when the two Misses had departed for bed. Nancy was fully aware that, on such nights, Dove who in her fifties was still ripe of lip and buxom of bosom, could be seen heading for her bedroom with the chaplain in tow, and that some two hours later the chaplain could be observed flitting through the dark garden on his way back to his chaste Rectory.
Then of course, Nancy the celibate could still remember her own days before Gordon when, stretched out on her bed in the fastness of the night, she caressed her breasts and circled her clitoris with a gentle finger. “If only I’d had another girl to enjoy myself with then,” she thought.
So all went on serenely in Nancy’s Place. The distant parents were satisfied and the girls were as content as possible, given the lack of male companionship – a rather severe deprivation for the older girls.
Then came the moment of crisis. Just prior to the customary in rush of “Guests” for the summer holiday, the history tutor normally employed by Nancy announced she was getting married, and would not continue in the task.
Nancy set to and put advertisements in all the educational magazines. Such was the salary offered, and the relaxed conditions of employment, that normally there would have been a flood of applications, but not so on this occasion.
It is true that Nancy demanded very high qualifications from those whom she employed as tutors, and at least two character references from members of the clergy. Of the few who applied, their qualifications were totally inadequate. There was however one notable exception. This applicant came with qualifications far beyond even Nancy’s exacting standards. In addition, there were four character references; one from a local vicar, one from an archbishop and two from cathedral deans.
With all this to recommend the applicant all should have been well, except for one very large fly in the ointment, he was a male.
Nancy had specified that “Only females need apply,” so why this man had applied was a mystery.
Looking over the qualifications submitted, and considering that with such credentials and recommendations she was dealing with a man getting on in years, Nancy decided to give him an interview. “He’s probably just looking for a fill in job before retirement,” she told the Misses Edith and Angel.
The day and time for the interview was fixed via telephone, with Nancy putting on her most severe voice. The voice at the other end sounded rather cheerful, even having a note of levity she thought.
The day and hour arrived, and with it the applicant.
Horror of horrors, he was young and handsome, some twenty six summers of age, with a bright cheerful countenance and he moved with athletic ease. This was not at all what Nancy had expected, and certainly didn’t fit in with her normal staff requirements. Her immediate reaction was to reject the young man, Charles Fleet by name.
Nancy, however, was caught in a difficult position. History had been included in the tutorial subjects she offered, and it seemed that it was a fairly popular subject among her young ladies, whose arrival was now only two days off. To be unable to provide what she had advertised might tarnish her to date impeccable reputation.
Nancy was unusually ambivalent about what to do. She had the Misses Edith and Angel with her during the interview. She asked Charles to wait outside. On asking the views of the Misses she was disconcerted by their twittering and chirpy responses.
“Such a nice young man,” warbled Edith. “So polite and well spoken,” echoed Angel.
In near desperation Nancy telephoned each of the referees. One of the deans was not available, but on being asked on what matter she wished to speak to the dean, Nancy said, “It’s about a young man called Charles Fleet.”
The voice at the other end, female, went into ecstasies. “Such a lovely young man; a brilliant mind; we’re sure he has a calling to the priesthood.” And so it went on for about two minutes.
The other referees were equally glowing in their praise; in fact Nancy thought she could almost feel the telephone wires trembling in exultation at the fulsome praise of Charles.
Nancy called Charles in and this time interviewed him alone. As subtly as she could she informed him of the female nature of her establishment in which only the highest moral standards were acceptable.
Many of her staff, including the non-local staff employed for the holiday period were housed in the main building; in the case of Charles, he could use the flat above the old coach house, this at least in part would remove him from the tempting female flesh in the main building.
Charles listened to her looking at her with, what Nancy herself had to admit, were “beautiful brown eyes” and a very fetching smile on his lips. In fact, despite herself, Nancy began to feel drawn to this attractive young man.
This attraction almost made Nancy reverse her decision to employ him, but given her difficult situation, she set aside her prejudice and announced that he could start in three days time and, if it suited him, he could move in to the coach house as soon as he liked.
Thanking her quietly Charles said that he would like to move in the next day, and, if she could spare him the time would like to run over exactly what he was expected to cover in his tutorials.
Nancy who had a busy schedule for the next day; without knowing quite why, she cancelled a number of appointments and while intending to set aside one hour for their discussion, found herself telling him they could “have a couple of hours together.”
Charles duly moved into the coach house next day and presented himself at Nancy’s office.
She gave him a run down of his duties that were far from onerous. Nancy’s Place was not a school. History was only taken by the older girls, specifically those in Nancy’s direct care. There were twelve girls coming of whom seven had been signed up for history tutorials.
“It’s a matter of individual attention,” Nancy explained, “and if they have done poorly in the subject over the past year, getting them up to speed. In addition, I would like you to prepare them for the coming year. I assume you are acquainted with the history curriculum for next year?”
“Yes, I’ve been going over it.”
“Good; of course the girls vary in age from fourteen to eighteen, but as the eighteen year olds are probably leaving their present schools to go on to continental finishing schools, they don’t usually bother much about the tutorials.”
“Your actual contact time with the girls should amount to no more than two or thee hours each day, but I emphasis, it is the individual contact that is of greatest importance, and a relaxed atmosphere. The girls are not here for high pressure teaching, and are as entitled to enjoy their holiday time as any other girl. It is important that they find the tutorial a pleasant experience.”
“Understood,” said Charles.
This part of their discussion took only about half an hour, and Nancy was wondering why she had cancelled so many appointments in order to be with Charles. She was also wondering what they were going to talk about for the next hour and a half.
Nancy was curious why Charles had answered her advertisement in the first place, so she went on to quiz him about this, and in the process got quite a lot of information about him.
He was anticipating an appointment to the staff of an overseas university, but, as he explained, “They take their time about these things, so I needed something to fill in the time until I heard from them, and also to earn a little money. I saw your advert, and despite the fact that you asked for only female applicants, I took a chance and wrote. I mean, there was no harm in trying was there?”
“No,” said Nancy, “there was no harm in trying, and obviously you’ve succeeded.”
Despite Nancy’s wish to remain the stern head of her establishment, she found herself melting and even laughing with Charles.
In order to try and re-establish the employer-employee relationship she said sternly; “One of the rules of this establishment is, that all attend the service at the Parish Church at eleven o’clock on Sunday mornings. You will of course join us.”
“Of course,” said Charles, smiling his charming smile, “Since my father is a bishop I’m used to attending morning service. It runs in the family.”
“Aha,” thought Nancy, “so that’s why he got so many clerical accolades.”
Thus did Charles Fleet begin his pedagogical activities among Nancy’s Empire Young Ladies.
The response to Charles’ arrival in their midst had something of a dramatic effect on the young ladies. Being almost totally denied access to males both in their boarding schools and in Nancy’s Place, the advent of such a pleasing young man found them paying more than usual attention to their grooming and dress arrangements. In addition, those girls who had not been signed up for history tutorials found a sudden interest in the subject to the effect that all of them were soon in attendance at “Mr. Charles’” sessions.
Nancy was rather overwhelmed when she faced a somewhat rebellious younger group of girls demanding that history tutorials be also available to them.
Nancy sat in on all Mr. Charles’ tutorials to ensure that propriety prevailed and was further troubled when she noticed that the girls took any opportunity to gain “individual attention” from Mr. Charles. This attention included any chance to touch the young man and engage in giggling banter with him.
As to Mr. Charles himself, he seemed to accept the approaches of the young ladies with a mixture of good humour and aplomb; replying to their girlish repartee without once, as the bard says, seeking to get “his hands in the placket.”
Mr. Charles also joined the young ladies and Nancy on their country walks. These rambles were intended to provide virtuous exercise and a study of nature. This study however, did not face all the facts of nature, “red in tooth and claw.” The sight of little animals of the fields and woods, perhaps trailing young offspring, tended to be dismissed as “Sweet.” No word of the copulation that led up to led up to this “sweet” issue was ever heard, except perhaps out of Nancy’s hearing.