Sunday, 10 April 2011

From Subaltern to Schoolgirl - 1916

With one exception, the boys of the Upper Fifth Form of the Darrow Hill Preparatory School for Boys were excited, for it was the end of their schooling. And, for many of them, commissions in the army to fight in the war were waiting. The chance to become men. Heroes. Many of the boys spoke excitedly of their futures. The exception sat miserable and alone in his dormitory. Tom Winthrop was not looking forward to his future at all. He had read the papers and had seen the enormous casualty lists from the battles that had already been fought. The casualty rate amongst junior officers was especially high in proportion to other ranks. And Tom was to become a subaltern in an infantry regiment, due to his family connections. If it hadn't been for those connections, Tom knew he would be going to war as a private soldier, as his performance as an officer cadet had been less than impressive. He was a poor marksman and backwoodsman and had displayed weak and indecisive leadership, in the opinion of his superiors. He was not really officer material, but the casualty rates were so high that the army could not afford to be too picky. His academic performance had also been poor. His parents despaired of him ever making anything of himself. It didn't help that his younger sister, Lucy, was doing very well at school by comparison. Top of her year. Tipped to be the youngest girl ever to be appointed as a prefect at her school. Tom genuinely loved his sister, but at times he resented her as she always outdid him and was a star in their parents eyes whilst Tom was a disappointment. Tom packed away his possessions, said his goodbyes to his friends, and waited for his parents to pick him up. Tom's parents arrived in a motorised car, driven by a chaffeur. Tom was pleased to see that Lucy was with them. Despite a two year age gap, Lucy was actually as tall as Tom. She was a solidly built girl and stronger than either of her brothers. But she did not have the delicate, feminine features of her brother. She was plain and dumpy. If she liked wearing gorgeous dresses and petticoats, she did a good job of hiding it. Lucy, dressed in a fussy brown dress, the skirts of which were pushed out by voluminous layers of petticoats, spoke to him, asking him how he was and fussing over him. Tom felt inadequate in comparison to his sister. It was humiliating to be the boy and yet to have a sister that was better than him at just about everything. Lucy eventually clammed up for the rest of the long journey, her mind absorbed in a novel. Eventually, the car pulled up outside the Winthrop residence, a small manor house surrounded by acres of well tended land. The Winthrops were rich. Seriously rich. Liveried footservants scurried around the car, fetching out trunks and trying to anticipate their master's needs. Within an hour, Tom was back in his old room. His clothes and other possessions had been unpacked and put away and his officer's uniform was adorning a dummy. Tom had just a fortnight's grace before he would be required to report for duty. Into a war zone where junior officers were cannon fodder. His life expectancy was reduced to a matter of weeks. Tom was scared. Really scared. There was a tap at the door and Lucy entered, all smug and superior in spite of the fact that she was wearing a pink dress and full petticoats. She was the only female sibling, yet at times she seemed more masculine than feminine.

Lucy was very interested in Tom's military uniform "I like this" she said. She gave Tom a long look "Can I try it on? I've always fancied being in the army".


"Don't be silly! Tom retorted "You're a girl! Girls don't get to join the army!"


"Oh, go on! Just for a bit of fun". Lucy gave him a pleading look.


Reluctantly, Tom agreed."You'll have to help me out of this lot" said Lucy. She turned around, indicating the back of her dress. Tom deftly undid the many buttons and helped his sister out of her gown. He lay the shimmering dress on his bed for now.


Lucy pulled down her many layers of silken petticoats and stepped out of them. The petticoats joined the dress on Tom's bed. Lucy stepped out of her pink satin slippers and kicked them unceremoniously under her brother's bed


Tom blushed, for his sister, shorn of her glittering gown and mass of petticoats, was dressed only in her underwear of white satin corset, frilly white drawers and white silk stockings. He had to look away, for it was most ungentlemanly for him to glance at a female in her underthings.


Lucy though seemed to be relieved to be released from all of that soft, yet heavy material, and revelled in her new freedom. She laughed as she saw that her brother was embaressed.


"Honestly, Tom, sometimes you are more demure and ladylike than I am! Come on, look at me!"


Stung by his sister's comments, Tom looked at her. His sister was a solid, strapping girl. Strong as well as highly intelligent. Even though he was fully clothed and she was more scantily clad than he, he still felt inadequate.


Lucy took the officer's uniform and put it on. "How do I look?" she asked Tom "Like a leader of men?"


Tom had to admit that she looked quite good in the uniform. In spite of the fact that Lucy was still wearing a corset, the uniform fitted her well. In fact, Tom had to admit that if she cut her hair short and got rid of the frilly things she still wore, she would look better in it than he did.


"Yes, you look good in it" Tom admitted, which made Lucy smile "Perhaps you're the one who should be going off to war wearing it instead of me!"


Lucy gave him a little kiss in gratitude "Thank you, but, as you said, they don't let girls become soldiers, let alone officers". Lucy took the uniform off and Tom helped her back into her gown and petticoats.


Lucy glanced at Tom's hands "Your hands are all soft and white, just like those of a lady. And you make a good little maid, helping her mistress in and out of her clothes!"


Tom flushed again "They won't be soft and white once the war's over. I'll have become a man".


Lucy gave him a weak smile, but was thinking "You'll get your head blown off more like!" Their parents were fretting over how Tom would cope with the horrors that they had heard about on the Western Front. For all of his bluster and confidence, he was a sensitive and delicate boy, and none too bright either!


Some weeks passed. As the dreaded day when Tom would have to put on his uniform and report to his barracks for duty grew closer, the more scared Tom became. He would lie awake at nights in a cold sweat. He could be killed, or horribly maimed! At times he would have given anything not to have to go to war, just to be a normal boy.


His parents were desperate to avoid their eldest son ending up as just another name on a tombstone. They tried to pull strings to get Tom out of military service, or to a posting away from the fighting, but it was to no avail.


Before Tom knew where he was, it was the evening before he was due to report for duty. Tom was a bag of nerves and retired to his room. He wasn't alone for long when there came a gentle tap on the door.


He was pleased when it was Lucy's face he saw when he opened the door. To his surprise, she wore some sort of trouser-suit ensemble that was gaining popularity amongst young females. With the wartime need for women to replace men on the farms and in the factories and offices, a relaxation in dress for women had come about and they were allowed to put off their skirts and wear trousers.


"How are you feeling?" Lucy asked, in genuine concern.


Lucy, in spite of the fact that she made him look a dunce by comparison, was his best friend, so he decided to bare his soul "To be honest, terrified. I haven't slept properly for days!"


Lucy nodded, as if to say that she had known this all along "Don't worry, Tom. Everything will be fine and you'll be safe".


As Tom was wondering what she had meant by that, Lucy landed a punch on his jaw that laid him out cold.


Tom came around lying on his bed. His parents, with concerned looks on their faces, were standing over him.


"What happened?" Tom asked "Lucy came to see me and the next thing I know, she's knocked me out and I'm here!"


"Lucy's gone" Mother said flatly "And so has your uniform. And she's cut her hair!"


Tom looked past his parents to see the dummy sans uniform. On the floor beside were the clothes that Lucy had been wearing, along with a pile of blonde hair. What was Lucy playing at?


"She left a letter. For you" said Father, handing him an envelope.


Tom tore it open and read it eagerly.


"Dear beloved brother. By the time you read this, my plan will have succeeded and I will be long gone. Let's be honest, you aren't cut out to be a soldier, but I've always dreamed of being one, so I've taken your place! I'm sure I can pull this off and come home safely and what will keep me going is the knowledge that you will be safe. Give my love to our parents and stay safe! Love always, your sister, Lucy".


Tom read it several times in disbelief before showing it to his parents.


His parents were as stunned and appalled as he was. They told Tom to stay in his room for the time being. They needed to go away and discuss what to do next.


Tom sat alone in his room. He was relieved that it did not seem like he would be going to war but he was worried about his sister. What if she got killed or injured? More likely, he thought, her deception would be uncovered and she would be sent back.


That was what his parents had hoped too, the thought expressed when they next spoke to him. Over the next few days, they expected a knock on the door and to find Lucy had been brought home.


But days, and then weeks passed, and there was still no sign of Lucy, or that her disguise had been unsuccessful.


Three weeks after Lucy's disappearance, Tom's mother came to see him in his room. She held out a hand.


"Come with me, please, Tom".


Tom took her hand unwillingly, for he was not a child. He wondered where they were going.


Mother led him to her own room, a proper lady's bedchamber. Tom was embarassed to be in such a feminine environment. There was also, Tilly, his mother's ladies' maid, in attendance, dressed in her full uniform.


Mother smirked at his discomfort "There's no need to be so embarassed!". Then her expression became more serious.


"Look at me please, Tom".


Tom raised his head to look at his mother. She still retained traces of the beauty that she had been renowned for when she had been Lucy's age, but now looked more distinguished. Grey hairs had begin to appear in her blonde hair.


"Lucy's little escapade, as madcap and harebrained as it was, has, despite our hopes, succeeded. There's nothing we can do about it. We could expose her and have her brought back, but that would bring dishonour on our family, so we can't do that. In any case, we 've learnt that she's been posted to a desk job, so she's perfectly safe. That leaves one problem. What to do with you! Clearly, if Lucy is meant to be you, and officially you are where you're supposed to be, your presence here creates problems and will raise awkward questions".


Tom wondered where this was going as he tried to keep up with his mother's commentary.


"Then, there will be questions raised about what has become of Lucy". Mother looked at Tom directly.


"The solution is obvious. As Lucy has taken your place, you will have to take hers!"


Tom was stunned by the suggestion "You mean.....that I become Lucy? Wear dresses and petticoats? No chance!"


Mother sighed, as if expecting this response "You talk as if you have a choice in the matter. But you don't. Your father and I are united in this. You will do as you are told".


Tom was so appalled by the notion of having to dress as a girl that he had to restrain himself from stamping his foot and confined himself to saying "I won't! You can't make me!"


"Oh, really? We'll see about that, young man!"


Mother advanced towards him. She was dressed in a white blouse and tweed skirt from which the frilled edging of her petticoats could be seen as she moved. Mother was dressed in a very feminine way, but the look on her face was one of fury and determination. Frightened by the expression on his mother's face, Tom involuntarily moved back.


Mother grabbed his wrist and gave it a hard twist. Tom cried out in pain. His mother was stronger than she looked, he realised. He doubted that he could defeat her. And even if he could, his upbringing had made him naturally chivalrous, especially towards females. He could'nt hit a woman, let alone his own mother.


Before Tom realised what was happened, his mother had dragged him over to a chair, sat herself down on it and put Tom over her knee. She proceeded to spank him, giving him a dozen hard slaps on his rump. The pain and humiliation was extreme, but Tom was determined to hold out. The alternative, giving in, would be even worse in his view.


"Tilly, bring me a hairbrush please!" The maid obediently handed her mistress a broad hairbrush and Mother gave Tom another dozen spanks with it. This time, the pain was almost unbearable and Tom was weeping at the end of it.


"Have you had enough? Or would you like me to gave you another dozen? You're going to have to give in, so why suffer more than is necessary?"


Tom's bottom was on fire and he was gasping with the pain. He knew he could not withstand another twelve strokes from that brush. But.....to have to wear girls' things! It would be so humiliating!


Sighing, mother raised the brush high, ready to deliver another flurry of blows.


"NO!" Tom cried out "Please! Don't hit me anymore!"


"You'll do as I say?" Mother lowered the brush.


With the greatest reluctance, Tom nodded.


Mother smiled "Good! Now, from now on, you'll do whatever I tell you to and do it without hesitation otherwise you will be punished. Severely. Understood?"


Tom nodded again.


"Now, Tom. I want you to go behind that screen and remove all of your clothes".


Miserably, Tom obeyed. Within a few minutes, his reassuringly male clothing and shoes were in a pile and he stood stark naked. He was grateful for the screen otherwise all his wares would be on display to two women!


"Tom, come out from behind the screen please!"


Tom gulped and, blushing, slowly moved out from the refuge offered by the screen to show himself. Tilly giggled, but Mother gave her a sharp look. The girl became more subdued, as befitted a lowly maidservant, and kept her head down.


Mother inspected him, taking in his small, slender frame, his almost complete lack of musculature, his small hands and feet and his rather feminine features.


"This is going to work very well" she announced "You should have been a girl, Tom. I had hoped that my first child would be a female, but I got you! Now, thanks to circumstance, my first born child will be a girl!"


Tom cringed with shame.


The two women, mistress and maid, got to work on him. Tilly produced a atomiser filled with a sweet smelling lilac perfume and sprayed it all over Tom's puny body. Tom had to put on a frilled chemise and matching pair of knickers. A corset was then clapped around his small torso and tightened until Tom could hardly breathe and he felt like he was about to break in two. Thick woollen stockings were put on his slender legs and attached to his corset. Tom then had to step into silk, lacy petticoats and these were pulled up around his now tiny waist. Tom could no longer see his feet and he felt overly warm.


Tom's dress, a rose coloured frock with lots of fussy frills and lace, was put on him and over his petticoats. It had a pink silk sash around the middle that ended in a large bow at the small of Tom's back. Tom's feelings of shame were increased as he remembered his sister having to wear this dress, and hating it. Now he knew exactly how she had felt!


Tom's small stockinged feet were inserted into a pair of pink satin slippers, designed for indoor wear only and a wig, similar in length, colour and style to that of Lucy before she had hacked hers off, was plopped on Tom's head and worked until it was deemed to be satisfactory.


Tom was given a pair of white silk gloves to put on his hands. Tom shuddered again as he recalled that girls had to wear gloves like this - and keep them spotless - to force good ladylike behavior from girls.


And now it was happening to Tom, a boy! Tilly helped him put the gloves over his petite hands.


Mother came over to inspect her work "Very nice!" she said jubilantly "You make a very lovely girl, Tom. Prettier than your sister, in fact!"


Tom groaned because he knew that his mother was right. With his small, slender body and delicate features, he would look prettier than his sister, with her big boned body and plain face.


"Now, then, Tom. From now on, you will answer to the name of Lucy and you will be a well behaved young lady at all times. You will be dressed and treated exactly like the fourteen year old girl that you have been transformed into and you will be punished if you are naughty or disobedient. Clear?"


Tom nodded miserably. He was still trying to come to terms with his new gender and status. His senses were filled with his perfumed body, the itchy wool of his stockings, the feel of a skirt and petticoats on his legs, the frills and lace and rose coloured gown that were constantly in his vision, the heat of his wig and the silk gloves that covered his hands.


"Come along with me, Lucy" his mother commanded. Getting up with difficulty in his corsets and petticoats, Tom followed her. He felt incredibly nervous and self-conscious anyway, but he also felt ridiculous dressed as he was and having to answer to a female name. His cheeks burned with shame.


Mother led him past his own bedroom. How Tom longed to get in there, discard the feminine trappings he wore and get back into trousers! They stopped outside Lucy's bedroom. Mother opened the door.


Tom had never been inside his sister's bedroom. Boys did not enter a girl's bedroom. It was not done. The room was all a dazzling white. The walls were painted white, the carpet was white, all of the furnishings were white. The room was dominated by large bed with white sheets. A doll dressed in a not disimilar way to the way Tom was now dressed lay on the bed.


"This is your bedroom from now on" his mother stated "Your wardrobe is where you will find your dresses, and the dresser is where you will find your underwear".


Tom was subdued. He was expected to sleep in this very girly room? He knew he would have to, but cringed at the idea.


The dinner gong rang.


"Ah, time for dinner!" said mother "And time for the rest of the family to see you!"


Tom almost burst into tears at the idea. Mother took his hand. "Don't worry, you look very nice. Much nicer than as a boy!" She led him by the hand to the dining room.


Tom was absolutely dreading having his father and his younger brother, Simon, seeing him like this! He entered the room in a swish of skirts, his head bowed down low, his cheeks burning with the humiliation.


Tom had to sit with his mother on the side of the table traditionally reserved for the females, whilst his father sat at its head and Simon sat at the other end, in the place where Tom normally sat.


It suddenly struck Tom how patriarchal his family was. The males were dominant and he was now merely a female within it.


"Is that really Tom?" Father asked his wife, who nodded. "My goodness, what a pretty girl he makes!"


Simon, aged only ten, sniggered "What its like, having to wear a dress?"


"Shut up, you little weasel!" Tom hissed at him. Simon responded by sticking his tongue out at him.


"Children, behave! Especially you, Lucy!"


The family ate their meal. Father turned to his wife "What's.....Lucy going to be doing all day, by the way?"


Mother smiled "She'll be doing ladylike things. Sewing, Embroidery, practising her deportment".


Simon snickered "Tom's gonna be a pretty lady!"


Tom's cheeks reddened.


"Good!" said Father "Because my boss's wife will be coming to visit you as the lady of the house and as she's heard me talking about my clever daughter, she wants to meet her!"


Mother patted Tom's hand "Don't worry, dear, Lucy will be ready".


The evening went quickly. Tom had sat in a chair, not moving and not speaking, still trying to get a handle on what was happening to him. Then he was sent to bed to get some beauty sleep.


Mother, he discovered, had given him Tilly as his maid, as she was in on the secret. Tom realised that he could not have got undressed without her. His dress was buttoned up at the back and he could not reach the stays of his corset. Without the assistance of a maid, he was helpless! He had never felt so vulnerable.


Tilly gave him a long white nightdress to wear, along with a silk robe and a pair of satin slippers. Although he felt silly, he was glad to be liberated from his corsetry and petticoats. The free flowing nightdress was heavenly by comparison. He climbed into his sister's bed, marvelling at the softness of the sheets and fell into a deep sleep. He hadn't realised being a girl was so exhausting!


Three weeks later, Tom was a bag of nerves, for Mrs Biggins, the wife of his father's boss, was coming for tea with the ladies of the house,of which he was now one.


The three weeks since he had been forced into a dress had been a nightmare. Where once, he had admired a well dressed girl and had been intrigued by the brief show of lace underneath under skirts as she walked or sat down, he was experiencing for himself what it was like to have to live in frilly knickers, lacy petticoats, tight corsetry and all of the accroutrements of femininity and the pain involved in looking pretty.


He was in corsets all day long and had by now got used to the feel of silken skirts against his legs. After some tantrums, which had earned him a spanking over his mother's knee, he had become subdued, knowing it was hopeless to resist the regime of feminisation that he was now living under. He hated wearing dresses and frilly underwear, but was having to accept these indignities.


He was aware that he was becoming more docile and submissive, just like a real girl. Underneath his wig, his normal hair was being allowed to grow. Soon it would be long enough for Tom to stop having to wear a wig. But that meant that his hair could have things put in it. Like ribbons.


Feminine dress meant feminine pursuits. Tom had gained some new skills but none that he could boast about. He could now sew and darn, do some elementary tapestry and embroidery, curtsey and walk and talk like a lady.


He spent most of his time with his mother, being constantly supervised by her. His father was busy with work. Simon was loving Tom's humiliation and constantly jibed him about it.


Tom was constantly aware of his predicament, and lay awake most nights crying softly about his fate. But he knew that he could do nothing about it.


Tom stared down at the embroidered material in a frame on his skirted lap. He had been made to dress in that awful rose coloured gown that he loathed as much as his sister and had been told to behave and say as little as possible.


Mrs Biggins was a massive woman in a blue dress. Trailing behind her was a boy, looking sullen and resentful.


"This is my son, Oliver" Mrs Biggins said. "He can be sweet at times, but most of the time.....well, you know how boys are!"


"I do indeed!" Mother confirmed, looking back at her son with a smile "Hello, Oliver".


"How many sons do you have?" Mrs Biggins asked.


"Two. My eldest, Tom, is currently serving on the western front. My other boy is Simon. He's ten. He's a tearaway!"


"And this must be your daughter, Lucy. My husband has told me all about what a clever girl she is".


Tom rose and gave Mrs Biggins a curtsey, as he had been instructed, and submitted to being kissed on the cheek by her.


"What a charming girl you have!"


The ladies, and Oliver, took tea. The older women talked amongst themselves. Tom kept his head down but he was aware that Oliver was looking at him with interest. Oh, no! thought Tom, don't tell me he likes me!


Oliver leant over towards his mother and whispered something in her ear. Mrs Biggins interupted the conversation to say "Poor Ollie's getting restless. And your girl seems to be nodding off. Why don't we let the children play in the garden?"


Tom tried to show his reluctance by giving little shakes of his head but if his mother saw them, she ignored them and agreed to Mrs Biggins' suggestion. Ollie and Tom were turned out into the garden.


Simon was already outside, playing on a swing. He and Ollie introduced themselves, but as Ollie was in his teens and Simon was only aged ten, they were unlikely playmates. Simon took no further interest in Ollie and continued swinging.


Tom's heart sank as Ollie made his way towards him. He kept his head down. His heart skipped a beat as Ollie took hold of one of his gloved hands and began kissing it.


"Please! Stop" Tom begged him in a reasonable facsimilie of a female voice. Those hours of speech coaching with his mother were paying dividends.


"Don't worry, you ravishing creature, I won't hurt you". Tom panicked as Ollie's tongue ventured from his gloved hand to his bare arm. Tom wondered what he should do. He had never felt so helpless or vulnerable. But then, he had never been in this position before.


Ollie took him into his arms and began kissing him on the lips. One of his hands was trying to find its way underneath Tom's skirts, but thankfully they were too long and cumbersome. Tom tried to break away, but Ollie was far stronger than him. Tom realised that he was as helpless as a real girl in this situation.


Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Simon still playing on the swing. As his back was turned towards them, he could not see what was going on. Tom had to get his attention.


"What would a lady do in this situation?" flashed through his mind. Although he had only been a girl for a few weeks, he knew the answer. He managed to part his mouth from Ollie's and gave a loud, piercing scream.


"Hey, what's going on?" came Simon's high, piping voice.


"Hey kid, mind you own business and keep on playing with your dolls!" Ollie snapped at him.


Simon was indignant "I don't play with dolls! I'm not a girl! And what are you doing to my...sister".


Tom broke away from Ollie and, lifting his skirts high, tottered back into the house. He went to his room and threw himself on his bed, a sobbing mess. I hate being a girl!


Mother came to see him. If Tom was expecting sympathy, he guessed from the look on his mother's face that he would get none.


"I'm not very happy with you" she said "The son of your father's boss makes a pass at you and make a commotion!"


"Mother, he was kissing me and trying to put his hand under...under my skirt! He would have found out if I had let him go any further..."


"Screaming and running away was not the way to deal with the situation! You should have preserved your dignity...and his...by saying you had a headache and must withdraw to your bedchamber to take some repose. Your behaviour today was NOT ladylike!"


Tom seriously doubted if such a tactic would have worked, but could say nothing. Girls were to be seen and not heard!


Tom trembled. Over the last three weeks, the accusation of unladylike behaviour was accompanied by punishment. Spanking was normally the most common punishment but for the most unacceptable outbursts, a tightening of his corset was applied. Tom blushed as he remembered that his waist was no wider than sixteen inches, smaller than that of most women.


"Because you are new to all this, I won't insist on your corset being reduced another notch! Anyway, all is not lost. Mrs Biggins has invited us to stay with her next weekend!"


Tom almost fainted with the horror that passed through his mind.


"Lucy, listen to me. This visit is extremely important. To your father. Mr Biggins is retiring soon and it's up to him to decide who will take his place. Your father wants to be Mr Biggins's choice. So, you'll have to be nice to Ollie!"


"But...."


"There are no buts, young lady. It's time for you to learn what all us women must know. That men rule the world and it is our task to please them. We need to do all we can to please the Biggins's, so your task is to be pleasing to Ollie"


"Yes, mother" Tom said in a subdued tone.


Over the next week, as well as being pre-occupied by the visit to the Biggins's, Tom had another problem. Simon was constantly teasing him and making remarks. He spoke to his mother about it.


Mother shrugged "Boys will be boys".


But over the last few weeks, Tom had learnt a few new skills, including, he suddenly realised, some feminine cunning.


"But if he keeps making remarks like that, I'll be exposed".


Mother looked up at him with a frown "That's true. And we cannot afford for anyone else to know that you are not really a girl. So, what do you suggest?"


Tom smiled for the first time in weeks "The threat of some petticoat punishment to shut him up?"


Mother smiled too. It was a moment of female solidarity. "I see we think alike. You are more like a female than you think!"


Simon was taken aside and shown the overly feminine dress and underwear of a very small girl that he would be made to wear if he made any more remarks about his "sister". Horrified, Simon ceased to make any more remarks.


Tom felt sick, for he and his mother were travelling to the Biggins's residence. This was the first time Tom had been outside as a girl since his feminisation began. He was wearing his new saffron coloured dress with silk stockings, which were at least more comfortable than the woollen ones he had worn previously, along with a bonnet and handbag. It felt very strange to wear and use such things. Being a girl was much more complicated than being a boy!


They arrived at the Biggins's mansion and got settled in. Tom wore his new gown to dinner and sensed Ollie's eyes on him. He flushed. Once dinner was over, Tom retired to his room, saying he was fatigued after his long journey.


Tom lay on his bed, still in his saffron gown, when he detected a presence beside him. He was shocked to find Ollie lying next to him!


"How..did you get in here?" Tom asked.


"I grew up in this house. I know every secret passageway". Ollie dispensed with pleasantries and kissed Tom full on his lips.


Tom froze in terror, unsure what to do.


Ollie kissed him deeply on the lips and then began to explore his body with his hands. Tom's mind was reeling as he discovered the experience of being the "girl" on a date. Ollie took his silence for assent kissed and cuddled him. He broke off suddenly and looked at Tom. He suddenly looked very vulnerable.


"You do like me.....don't you?"


Tom was taken by surprise at this sudden turn. Ollie fancied him. Or, at least, he fancied the girl Tom purported to be. And he was desperate for Tom's approval. He could see it in his eyes.


Tom was beginning to understand that, mere girl he might be, he had the awesome power to please this boy or dash his hopes.


Tom smiled "Yes, I do like you".


Ollie's face light up "Thank goodness. Is it alright if I kiss you again?"


Tom wasn't keen on the idea of being kissed but he had his orders, so he nodded and submitted to Ollie's kisses.


"You're such a lovely girl" Ollie told him "the prettiest girl in the world in my opinion".


The weekend was a nightmare for Tom. Ollie took every opportunity to kiss and cuddle him. He had to change clothes frequently and be paraded about to show off the new dresses that his mother had bought for him specially for this weekend. Tom knew he looked very pretty in them, and the shame was almost unbearable.


On the last evening, Tom had to doll himself up in his new pink ballgown that left his shoulders and back bare and dance with Ollie. Ollie's eyes greedily took in the bare flesh that was on display. Tom's cheeks coloured up. It was very strange for a boy to be in this situation.


Tom was thankful when it was time to leave and he could escape the caresses and embraces of his would be suitor. Mother was pleased. The weekend had been a success. The Biggins's had been impressed with both Mother and her ladylike daughter.


But Mother dropped a bombshell on the ride home "Lucy, have you given any thought about school?"


Tom was taken off guard by the question. As far as he was concerned, he was sixteen and his schooldays were over. He realised with horror that now he was masquerading as a fourteen year old girl, he would have to attend school. And as a girl too!


"Do I have to go to school?" he whispered "I can't go to a school dressed like this!"


"You're a fourteen year old girl, so yes, you must attend school. It's the law. And you will go!"


"But....I can't go to the same school as Lucy did! Everyone knows her there!"


"Don't take me for such a fool. Of course I've considered that. So, instead of going to Lucy's school, we'll send you off to St Aubrey's Academy for Young Ladies. They have an excellent cirriculum and a very smart uniform".


Tom was horrified at the notion of attending a girls' school. A boy amongst girls, but having to dress and behave as a girl. It would be so humiliating!


He tried begging his mother to let him stay home. She could hire him tutors. But Mother was unmoved and Tom had to wipe away his tears. He would be going back to school and that was an end to it, his mother insisted.


Tom was measured for his school uniform and it arrived a few days later. It consisted of a plain white blouse, blue dress that fit snugly around Tom's body, blue woollen stockings, big black clumpy shoes, a straw boater and worst of all from Tom's point of view, a white lace pinafore to go over the dress. Tom had to continue to wear a corset and frilly knickers under the dress. The rest of the uniform was bad enough, but the pinafore made him look younger and more girlish.


Tom burst into tears as he saw himself in the mirror, dressed up in the uniform.


But Mother had no sympathy. She slapped him. "What are you bawling like a baby for? We're sending you to a fine school and we've spent a lot of money on your uniform".


"But....it's a girls' school! And I look about Simon's age in this silly pinafore!" Tom griped.


"Oh stop whining! Do you think I enjoyed having to dress that way when I was a girl? You'll just have to endure it, as all girls do. You can wear the uniform around the house until you leave for school, so you can get used to wearing it".


Tom was sullen and tearful for the next few days. Simon teased him mercilessly. However, Simon was caught doing this by Mother.


"Simon, I warned you what would happen if you teased your sister!"


Simon tried to resist, but he was no match for his Mother and Tilly and he ended up dressed in a cute pink frock, lacy white petticoats, and frilly white knickers which peeped out from the short dress. Simon's legs were bare and he wore frilled ankle socks and satin slippers. He was made to play with one of Lucy's old dolls, like a good little girl. Simon was sobbing with the humiliation.


Tom had quite enjoyed seeing his brother getting his just desserts. Lucy would have been amused too, had she known that currently both her brothers were in frocks whilst she wore the trousers.


The dreaded day when Tom would have to leave for school dawned. Tom put on his uniform and his pinafore, hating what he looked like. Tilly started doing something with his hair and Tom realised that she intended to put his by now long hair (he had ceased using the wig a fortnight earlier) into pigtails. He had no choice but to submit to this further indignity. Tilly finished her work by tying pink bows onto the pigtails.


Now I look even younger and even more girlish! Tom groaned.


Mother was satisfied with his appearance and kissed her daughter goodbye. Simon sat sullenly in a corner of the room, still dressed as a little girl. Mother had decided to extend his punishment a little.


Tom was driven to the train station and left there with his luggage. The train would be along in a few minutes. For the first time since this ghastly nightmare had begun he was alone. Perhaps he could run away and resume male garb and a masculine existence.


"Excuse me" came a piping voice behind him. Tom turned around to see a girl, dressed in exactly the same way as he was.


The girl spoke again "I couldn't help noticing that you're wearing the same uniform as me. Are you going to St Aubrey's too?"


Tom cursed his luck. He had hoped to avoid attention and perhaps slip away but there was no chance of that now!


Tom confirmed in the soft voice he had had to adopt to talk like a girl that he was bound for the school.


"Oh, what luck! We can be travelling companions. I'm Annabel Crower, by the way!"


"T... I mean Lucy Winthrop" Tom stuttered.


"Gosh, you are nervous! You must be if you can't even remember your own name! Don't worry, I've been to St Aubrey's for two years and its a wonderful place".


You'd be nervous too, if you were me! Tom thought.


Annabel gushed on with girlish enthusiasm, even after the train arrived and they boarded it. There were, of course, more girls from St Aubrey's on the train and more got on at each stop. As well as Annabel, Tom was surrounded by excited, giggly girls, asking him about himself, or rather his girl self. Tom did his best to answer them and had to invent some stuff out of his head.


Thankfully, the train journey was short. Tom began to lug his two suitcases along the platform when an older girl, already carrying a suitcase of her own, offered to help him "A dainty little thing like you shouldn't be humping suitcases around! Let me help!"


Tom was embaressed to note that the girl, who must have only fifteen, was taller and stronger than him, but he knew he could use the help, so he let the girl take a suitcase. Talk about role reversal! he thought.


The girls - and Tom - boarded a bus that ferried them to the school. St Aubreys was in the middle on nowhere, surrounded by miles and miles of fields, and Tom had no idea of the geography of this region, so whilst escape from the school would probably be easy, getting beyond it would be impossible, especially as Tom had absolutely no male clothing.


Annabel was studying him "You look awfully serious Lucy. Is anything the matter?"


"No, I'm fine. Just nervous!"


Annabel patted his hand. "It'll be fine, you'll see".


The girls were taken to the main hall for induction and assignment to dormitories. Their luggage would be taken to their dorms by the male servants, the only men allowed in the place. Tom was assigned to the same dorm as Annabel and she stuck to him like glue, much to his dismay.


However, at least Annabel and all of the other girls he had encountered so far, seemed friendly. They also seemed to accept him as Lucy. Tom knew he would need friends here. He would not be able to get undressed or remove his corset without a helping hand. And he would have to do the same for Annabel. Help her out of her dress and loosen her stays. Tom knew that he would have no problem with the practical side of this arrangement. After all, after almost two months in a girlish existence, he knew his way around feminine clothing and corsetry as well as any fourteen year old girl. It would be seeing Annabel, or any girl, in just her underwear would be embaressing.


It was just so humiliating to have to go to a girls' school, as a girl!


Tom was unpacking his possessions from his suitcases when a shadow loomed over him. He glanced up to see an older girl who wore a gold badge on her uniform. The girl stuck out a hand.


"Hi there! I'm Marjorie Thompson. Head Girl. And you are?"


Tom confirmed his name and shook the girl's hand. She had a strong grip and looked quite strong.


"Welcome to St Aubrey's, Lucy. If you need someone to turn to or talk to, I'm in that bunk over there. Bye for now". Marjorie smiled and gave him a little wave. Feeling foolish, Tom gave a little wave back. Everyone seemed so nice here!


The following day, school began in earnest. Tom's timetable was crammed with lessons he had to attend. There were no free periods. He spent the whole day in classrooms with girls. To his consternation, all of them were brighter than he was, a sixteen year old boy! He was bottom of the class in every subject, except one. Drama.


Drama was about the only lesson that Tom enjoyed. The teacher, a Miss Kershaw, seemed to like him better than the other teachers. Tom had tried to avoid attention, but Miss Kershaw had singled him out to play the bigger roles. Invariably, female roles. Annabel always seemed to be cast in the male lead. At least, Tom thought, I'll have a chance to shine here because I'm a dunce in everything else!


After one lesson, Miss Kershaw asked Annabel and Tom to stay behind. Miss Kershaw explained that Tom and Annabel were, in her opinion, the best actresses in the class. Miss Kershaw planned to stage Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and she thought that Annabel would make a fine Romeo and that Tom would be a good choice for Juliet.


Tom was embaressed that he was to play the female role whilst Annabel, a real girl, would be cast in the male role. Tom suggested that they switch roles.


Miss Kershaw laughed "Don't be silly! You're much too petite and feminine to play Romeo! But you will make a perfect Juliet!"


Annabel was puzzled "Why wouldn't a girl want to play Juliet? I'm slightly envious of you, but Miss Kershaw is right. You'll make a lovely Juliet!"


Tom blushed. Annabel noticed this "My, you're such a blusher! I've never seen a girl blush as much as you do! It's almost like you're constantly embaressed!"


I am! Tom thought. A sixteen year old subaltern having to dress up as and be a fourteen year old schoolgirl and being cast as Juliet in the school play opposite a girl who will be playing the male role! Who wouldn't be constantly embaressed in that position?


Tom tried to laugh it off "Yes, I'm easily embaressed. Have been all the time!"


Tom's schooldays as a schoolgirl continued. To his surprise, whilst in schoolgirl mode, he was actually doing better in all of his lessons. He would never be top of the class, but was getting higher marks and more praise. He was picked out for a special commendation for some excellent work he had done in embroidery. Annabel remarked that he was much better at needlework than she was.


He also had more friends. His dorm mates all liked him and were kind to him, unlike the rough lot he had had to board with at his last school. He was even included in the girlie chats that took place after lights out.


The girls produced candles and lit these and then lay on their bunks. They talked about everything. Their past. Their hopes for the future. Their boyfriends and past boyfriends. When pressed on the point of boyfriends, Tom had to talk about Ollie and being kissed by him. He even had to say how much he had enjoyed it.


The topic one night was brothers.


"I've got three" said Annabel "All younger than me, thank goodness, otherwise they would have to go and fight in that dreadful war. They're all so sweet. I used to dress them up in my clothes. They looked so cute!"


The other girls fell about laughing.


Marjorie spoke next "I've got the one brother. He's younger than me. He dresses up in my things all the time! He especially likes my school uniform! Sometimes, he's more girly than me!"


"Aren't boys weird?" All of the girls cooed in agreement.


"How about you, Lucy? You've got two brothers haven't you?" prompted Annabel.


For once, Tom was not struggling to find words. He briefly talked about his "older brother" now an army officer and was more expansive about Simon, describing his petticoat punishment, which the girls found very amusing.


Marjorie spoke again "Of course, boys like my brother are unusual. Most boys hate being made to dress as a girl. Absolutely hate it. I can't imagine what it must be like for some boys, who are made to dress as girls against their will, like Lucy's brother. It must be so humiliating for them!"


It is! Tom thought. But he was enjoying these girlie chats. He knew more about each of these girls than he had ever known about any of his school chums from his old school. It was intimate and lovely.


He did so much better as a schoolgirl than he had ever done as a schoolboy!


Tom was getting ready for the school play. He was dressed up as Juliet in a long, flowing silver gown and had been fully made up. He knew that the make up would make him even prettier. He also had to wear an elaborate wig, which was most uncomfortable. He envied Annabel, who could legitimately wear male clothing as Romeo.


The rehearsals had gone well and Tom felt a confidence in himself that he had never had in his male persona, but he was nervous because his parents and brother would be in the audience.


Miss Kershaw suddenly rushed in and announced "I'm sorry everyone, owing to unforeseen circumstances, the play is postponed. Lucy, please will you come with me. The headmistress wants to see you".


Tom indicated his flowing dress "Shouldn't I change first?"


"No, you're to come along at once!"


The other girls looked at each other as Tom gingerly walked after Miss Kershaw in his finery.


Tom entered the headmistress's study to find not only the headmistress there, as one would expect, but Tom's parents. There was no sign of Simon.


The headmistress and Miss Kershaw excused themselves and left Tom alone with his parents. They seemed subdued and downcast.


Mother? Father? What's wrong?"


"You'd better sit down, dear".


Tom obeyed, sitting with difficulty in his dress.


"We've had news of Lucy from the War Office. It couldn't be worse, unfortunately. She's been listed as killed in action. She was killed by a stray shell whilst visiting the frontline as an aide to the commanding officer. I can't believe I'll never see her again". Mother began sobbing.


Tom was crying too. He had sometimes resented his sister because she made him look like a dunce, but he had always loved her. Now she was gone. Forever.


"This is my fault" Tom began "If I'd been more of a man, I would have gone to war, as I should of..."


Mother sighed "No, it isn't your fault at all. It's Lucy's for running off in your uniform and ours for not alerting the authorities and getting her brought home. We thought she would be perfectly safe in a desk job and now she's dead!" Mother began to weep again.


Father spoke next "There's more. I'm afraid that Lucy was totally pulverised by the shell. Her body, what's left of it by all accounts, is just a bloody mess. There's nothing to bring home. Just as well nobody found out her true sex. Had it got out that she was a fourteen year old girl, we would be in serious trouble with the authorities".


Tom nodded. He was still processing the news of Lucy's death. Nothing else seemed important now. Not the school play, nor possible repurcussions with the authorities over a schoolgirl posing as an army officer and vice versa.


Mother dried her eyes "Lucy's dead and gone" she became more serious in expression and tone "But there's the question of what to do about you. You could come forward and admit your true identity..."


"He'd get shot for desertion!" his father stated flatly "Then we'd lose two of our children in as many days!"


Mother nodded "Your father is quite right. That leaves other options. You could drop the schoolgirl charade and run away. I suppose we could pay to get you new identity papers and set you up somewhere else".


Father shook his head again "No, that won't work either. We're in the middle of a war, the authorities are extremely vigilant. If he gets caught with false papers, he could end up being shot as a spy. Even if he doesn't, as a young man he'd still get called up and end up the same way as poor Lucy".


Mother looked at Tom "There don't seem to be many options and only one that makes sense. You should remain as Lucy! You make a lovely girl, you really do. Your headmistress was full of praise for you. How well you've done in your studies, the friends you've made. We never got a good word about you from your old school".


Father nodded in agreement "You made a pretty poor son, but a much better daughter".


Tom couldn't believe what he was hearing. Stay as Lucy for the rest of his life? He thought about the future as Lucy and the implications. He would have to dress and act as a female all of the time. He wasn't sure if he could do it. But what other choice did he have? Besides, as his parents had pointed out, he was doing much better in life as a female and Tom could even envisage himself being a happy schoolgirl.


Tom spoke quietly "I'd like to stay as Lucy. You're right, I make a much better girl than boy!"


Mother hugged him, which took Tom by surprise, as his mother was not given to be demonstrative "Thank you. At least I'll have a daughter again!"


Father smiled for the first time since hearing of his daughter's untimely demise "And Simon will have an older sister again. Mind you, he's spending more time in dresses these days!"


"Yes, he's a very naughty boy! Of course, he hates every moment in dresses, but he does look sweet!"


They continued talking as they left the office and headed for their car. Tom was being granted a leave of absence from school due to bereavement and so would be going home with his parents. As he climbed into the vehicle, Annabel, Marjorie and the other girls from his dorm gave him a friendly wave and looks of sympathy.


Tom smiled in the knowledge that he would be coming back to this wonderful place and now fully accepting his new status as a schoolgirl.


















2 comments:

  1. I wonder what would've happened if Lucy survived and came home. Would their mother would've let Lucy assume Tom's identity?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Role reversal should continue Tom as Lucy and Lucy as Tom as the shoe fits

    ReplyDelete