Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Forbidden Fruit

In the summer of 1900, Edmund Downes and his older sister, Edwina were sent away by their parents to stay with their uncle and aunt and their children, Sybil and Thomas.

Uncle Clarence and Aunt Eustacia lived in a big house in the country, with large gardens, liveried footmen and immaculately uniformed maids.  Uncle Clarence was a Major-General in the army and he was away fighting the Boer War, so that left Aunt Eustacia in charge of both house and children.

It happened to be that two weeks after Edmund and Edwina arrived there was to be a Grand Ball held at the house and all the titled gentlemen and ladies of the county would be there.  The ladies would of course be expected to wear their finest gowns.  Edwina and Sybil, both aged fifteen, were old enough to attend but the boys, each being only thirteen, were still considered to be too young for such an august occasion.

There was a great deal of fuss over the gowns that the three ladies were to wear.  There seemed to be endless fittings and adjustments.  The two boys watched the antics of their aunt and sisters with amusement.

Edmund and Thomas were good friends although Edmund was the dominant personality of the two.  Thomas seemed happy to follow.  They both agreed that their older sisters were haughty and looked down their noses at their younger brothers.

"Honestly" Edmund said one day "Sometimes Edwina treats me just like a servant.  Get that for me Eddie! Bring me my wrap!" he said in a passable imitation of his sister's higher voice.

Thomas giggled "Sybil's just the same.  She orders me around like I'm a maid!"

"Girls!" said Edmund "They think they're so superior!"

"They sure look pretty and they do wear nice things" Thomas observed "Sybil's cleverer than me as well.  I'm a real thicko compared to her!"

Edmund sniffed "Only because she's older.  Girls don't have the capacity for studies like us boys.  We'll soon overtake them, you'll see".

Thomas was suddenly very thoughtful "I wonder what it would be like....you know....to be a girl"

Edmund boxed his ears "Don't be absurd!  Why on earth would anyone WANT to be a girl?  You meant that as a joke right?"

Thomas nodded weakly.

"Come on" said Edmund "Let's forget all about girls and go and play soccer!"

A week later, the boys were bored.  They had played soccer with some of the local boys of the nearby village, but now it was harvest time and the local boys were busy with that.  They had grown tired of all of their other games.  They couldn't even annoy the girls since they were out shopping with Aunt Eustacia and would be gone all day.

"What are we going to do all day?" Edmund asked "I'm bored, bored, bored!"

"I've got an idea" Thomas piped up excitedly.

"Well?" Edmund urged him crossly.

"Why don't we have a peek in my sister's room?  I've always wondered what it looks like".

"We can't go in there!" retorted Edmund "We aren't allowed in there".

"Have you got any better ideas?" Thomas asked him simply.

Edmund didn't.  To his surprise, he found himself warming to the idea.  He was curious himself about how a girl lived.  They crept along to the room of Thomas' sister, Sybil, and ventured inside.

There was a faint odour of perfume.  The bedroom was undoubtedly for a lady.  Thomas unstopped a perfume bottle and smelt it "Violets" he said wonderingly.

"Put it back" Edmund ordered him "They can't know we've been in here".

Thomas put the bottle down, went to a wardrobe and opened it up to reveal an array of brightly coloured dresses and ballgowns.  He took one out and looked on it in wonder.

Edmund snatched it out of Thomas's hand and carefully put the dress back where it had come from "Stop touching things or else they'll realise someone's been in here!"

Thomas pulled the dress out again "We can just say it must have been one of the maids.  The girls can't even dress themselves without help from their maids".

Edmund conceded that Thomas had a point.  He went over to a lacquered chest of drawers and opened one drawer.  He pulled out a pair of pink silk bloomers all covered with red bows.  So, he thought, this is what girls wear underneath all those skirts and petticoats! A curious sensation came over him and he had a sudden urge to try the ridiculous bloomers on.

He tried to dismiss the thought.  He angrily stuffed the bloomers back in the drawer and slammed it shut "We really shouldn't be in here!" he said to Thomas "We ought to leave right now".

But for once Thomas was not in the mood to obey Edmund "I'm not going.  You can if you want to. I think we should dress up like girls.  Only for a short time, just to see what it's like".

Edmund went red at the thought of him and Thomas dressed as girls "Are you mad?  What if we get caught?"

"Who's going to catch us?" asked Thomas "Aunt Eustacia and the girls have gone to town.  It's a three hour trip each way.  And the servants are too busy preparing for the Grand Ball to worry about us.  No-one is going to find out. Come on, admit it, you really wanted to try those bloomers on!"

"I suppose I did" Edmund whispered.

Thomas went over to the door and turned the key.  The boys heard an audible click.  "There" said Thomas "the door is locked.  Even if one of the servants tries to get in here, they'll have to get the master key from the butler first by which time we will have scarpered.  Come on, lets try on some of these clothes!"

Half an hour later, Edmund was wearing those fantastic bloomers under a red satin ballgown and Thomas was wearing a green dress and silk french knickers.  Both boys had festooned themselves with pearl necklaces and bracelets.

It felt good and luxurious to feel silk and satin against their bodies and to wear pretty jewellery.  They peered into the oval mirror that Sybil used when dressing.  Both boys had quite delicate and feminine features and were of small builds so they looked quite convincing as ladies.

It was a pity, the boys decided, that they could not enhance their appearances further by use of corsetry and cosmetics but they knew that there was only so much that they dared do.  Corsets and cosmetics took ages to get on and off.

The boys tried on other dresses and gowns to see what suited them best.  They were really getting into girl mode now.  They now understood why girls needed so many clothes and complained that they had nothing to wear when they had wardrobes stuffed full of clothes!

Edmund had decided on a lilac gown that showed off his small shoulders whilst Thomas seemed to like a pink gown that was all shimmery and shiny.  In fact, he seemed mesmerised by it.  Edmund, the more sensible of the two, had kept an eye on the time.

"We'd better get back into our normal clothes now" he said "Auntie and the girls will be back soon".  Reluctantly, Thomas obeyed and the boys left for their own room.

Once there Edmund said "We can't say anything about what we've just done to anyone.  No-one must ever know so keep silent about it.  Promise?"

Thomas nodded miserably.  Edmund was worried about him.  Edmund had enjoyed the experience, but it was a lark, not to be repeated.  But Thomas seemed preoccupied by it.

The ladies returned, satisfied with their shopping trip, and things returned to normal.  The Grand Ball went ahead and was a great success.  Aunt Eustacia, Sybil and Edwina were all very pleased.  If Sybil had noticed anything amiss in her room, nothing was said.

Then, one morning at breakfast, Aunt Eustacia opened a letter.  Her plucked eyebrows raised in surprise "It's from Lord and Lady Dullarde.  They were guests at the Grand Ball.  They were so impressed with our ball that they've decided to hold one of their own.  And we are all invited.  Even you boys!"

The children were thrilled, but Aunt Eustacia had not finished.

"Oh, how delightful!  It is to be a fancy dress ball!  How exciting!  Whatever shall I wear?"

The boys were asking themselves that very same question when Sybil piped up "I have a wonderful, and very funny, idea.  Why don't we girls go as chaps and the boys go as girls?"

Aunt Eustacia's usually sour face broadened into a smile "I say, I do like that idea!  I can wear Clarence's tuxedo.  What a splendid man I shall make!  That's settled then!"

The boys of course made some mild protests but since they secretly loved the idea of dressing up in Sybil's clothes again they quickly conceded.

On the afternoon of the ball, Sybil took her brother and cousin in hand.  The boys had to wear elaborate and very frilly pantaloons over white silk stockings.  They were put into constrictive and waist reducing corsets.  They were required to wear layers and layers of silk, satin and lace petticoats over hooped skirts.  Their feet were encased in jewelled high heeled shoes that were very difficult to walk in.  The boys both wore pink silk ballgowns that displayed their shoulders, arms and backs.  They were adorned with glittering jewellery.  Their faces were given a thin coating of cosmetics and their lips were rouged.  Edmund and Thomas also wore long blonde wigs crowned with a small tiara and carried tiny purses.

The boys looked at themselves after their transformations and had to admit that they looked extremely convincing.  Stunningly beautiful even.

"You both make very pretty young ladies!" Sybil confirmed "Now, ladies, it's time to leave for your grand debut".

The boys tottered after Sybil, who was dressed in a man's tuxedo and enjoying the freedom, wearing fur wraps to protect them from the cold.  They met Aunt Eustacia and Edwina, both dressed as Sybil now was.  They burst out laughing at the boys' new appearance "My goodness, you both look so much like girls!" Edwina shrieked.

With great difficulty dressed as they were, Edmund and Thomas alighted the coach and got out at the other end.  When they entered the ballroom of the Dullardes, they cringed in horror.

Except for their aunt and sisters, everyone else was dressed normally.  Lord and Lady Dullarde peered at them curiously "My dear Eustacia!  This isn't a fancy dress ball.  Why on earth are you dressed in that get up?"

Aunt Eustacia said "It's just a little joke.  We ladies decided it might be fun to dress as chaps, as a wheeze!"

Lady Dullarde pointed at Edmund and Thomas "But what about those two girls?  They look normal to me.  Why dress three of you as chaps and leave two as girls?"

Sybil answered the question by grasping the wig of each boy and lifting it up to reveal that the two "girls" were in fact boys dressed up as girls.

Lady Dullarde stifled a laugh "Oh, I see!"

"Yes" said Sybil "These two rascals had a poke around in my room whilst I was out and tried on my dresses.  They even wore some of my underwear believe it or not!"

Edmund and Thomas looked at each other.  How could she have known?

"One of the maids saw them leaving my room and my clothes had clearly been tampered with so it wasn't difficult to put two and two together.  So I got my own back by publicly humiliating them, with some help from Auntie and Edwina".

Edmund and Thomas looked at each other again.  They had been outwitted by Sybil and their fetish for wearing girls' stuff had been exposed.  Oh, the shame!  The boys hung their heads as the guests roared with laughter at them.

"Oh, one more thing, ladies " continued Sybil "Since you like wearing girls' frilly knickers and pretty dresses so much and since they suit you so well, it would be a shame to deprive you, so you'll be wearing them all of the time for the rest of the holidays!"

The ballroom was filled with laughter once more.  Edmund and Thomas did not know where to put their faces!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Russell / Jasmine,

    I love this story. I also have a CD-fetish, although it did not develop nor show in my childhood or youth. Makes me really dreamy...

    Best regards, Roland

    ReplyDelete