The Lady's Maid

Disclaimer: The Alice books and the 2010 film do not belong to me. This is only for fun.

Alice Kingsleigh bounded up the stairs three at a time, paying scant heed to ladylike decorum. Her meeting on Company business with Lord Ascot had taken longer than she expected and now dinner would be starting in less than half an hour.

Opening the door to her room, Alice was surprised to find a maid she did not recognise laying out clothes on her bed.

"Hello," Alice greeted her curiously. "Are you new here?"

The woman straightened up and turned to face her. Alice judged her to be in her mid to late twenties, a tall fair haired girl with a rather freckled face and a stocky, muscular build.

"Yes Miss Alice," she replied. "I'm Clara, your new lady's maid."

"Lady's maid?" Alice frowned. "I've never had a lady's maid. I always dress myself."

"Mrs Kingleigh has employed me to do that for you, Miss." The young woman informed her. "From now on I am to choose your clothes and help you dress."

"I see!" Alice moved closer to her bed to study the array of clothing on it, noting with annoyance the presence of stockings and a corset. "And is this what I am expected to wear tonight?"

"Yes, Miss Alice," the girl replied. "That is what I have been instructed to put out for you"

Alice moved to her wardrobe and took out another dress, one of the many her dressmaker had specifically designed for her that did not require a corset as an undergarment.

"Those clothes are quite unsuitable," she informed the new maid. "In case my Mother did not tell you, I never wear a corset or stockings." She held up the dress she had chosen before laying it on a chair. "This is what I will be wearing tonight."

"I'm sorry, Miss Alice," Clara apologised. "But Mrs Kingsleigh has instructed me to ensure you always wear your corset and stockings from now on."

"Has she?" Alice muttered. She undid the buttons of her day dress and quickly wriggled out of it. "She will be disappointed then, as I have no intention of wearing either!"

Turning to face Clara, Alice was dismayed to see the woman advancing on her with a determined look, holding the corset out and obviously intending put it on her forcibly.

"Stop right there!" Alice ordered her. "If you try to put that thing on me you will regret it!"

"Now don't be foolish, Miss!" The maid said with an indulgent smile. "Just be sensible and let me dress you like a proper lady and things will be much easier for you!"

Unknown to Alice, Clara had a great deal of experience getting recalcitrant upper class girls to wear their corsets. That was why Helen Kingsleigh had hired her. She had every confidence of being just as successful with Alice. But there was something Clara also was unaware of.

All her previous charges had been rather wild and rebellious girls, but their bodies had been weak and soft, the result of a lifetime of enforced inactivity. Now, for the first time, she was pitted against a physique hardened by years of arduous travel and adventuring.

Before Clara knew what was happening, two hands had darted out and seized her wrists. She dropped the corset she was holding with a cry of pain, suddenly subjected to a grip of crushing power.

Clara tried desperately to free herself but to her horror could not move her arms. She was held immobile and helpless by wrists as strong as steel.

Alice gradually increased the pressure she was exerting, inexorably forcing the hapless maid to her knees. Slowly she forced the girl's arms back until she cried out in agony and terror.

"Please stop Miss, you'll break my arms!"

Alice relaxed the pressure slightly but did not release her grip on the girl.

"I won't break your arms," Alice assured her. "But I will dress in the way I please and if you are to be my maid you will have to accept that."

Alice released Clara and stepped back. She suddenly felt a little ashamed of her brutality, although she did not doubt Clara would have put that corset on her by force if she had been able to.

Alice retrieved the dress she had taken out and held it up. "Now please help me put this on." Then she pointed at the corset lying forgotten on the floor. "And kindly get that abomination out of my sight!"

A couple of minutes later, Clara was doing up the hooks on the back of Alice's dress.

"No corset or stockings!" She moaned. "I don't know what Mrs Kingsleigh will say. She'll dismiss me for sure!"

"She won't dismiss you," Alice reassured her. "Don't worry, I will sort everything out with Mother."

Alice pulled on her skirt, straightening out a couple of creases that had appeared on the bodice of her dress. Picking up a brush from her dressing table, she quickly brushed her hair then stepped back to study herself in the mirror. Satisfied with her appearance, Alice headed downstairs to the dining room.

She had more than a few words to say to her mother.