Madame has asked me to accompany her and offer advice on new clothing. This request is most unusual. I have only been out of the house with her once or twice. That was for everyday shopping, when she wanted a hand. Now she wants me to advise. Our relationship is good for maid and mistress, but to say that there is a level of intimacy, which corresponds with this sort of advice? Not in the conversations we have. And I have not seen her in any fashion less than fully dressed. But there is always a first time and perhaps I should be flattered. I cannot help fearing that she is up to something, however. But what?
Today, she wears a collarless, kneelength dress with large buttons at the front and three-quarter, tight sleeves. The bodice starts close to the neck, stretches over the bosom and reduces sharply down to a tight waist, while the wide skirt falls round in plentiful waves. It becomes Madame beautifully. It is simple, but well made of fine, burgundy silk. Her stockings are just off flesh coloured, veering towards the burgundy. She puts on a long coat, which she does not bother to close. It is a nice day. And we go out.
We arrive in the centre of the city. She and I. We do not talk much, I for being pre-occupied a little. She is amicable enough, however, and gives nothing away if she really has any special purpose. She leads the way with determined look and purposeful stride. Once, we pause at a lingerie shop and look inside. It is busy. A metropolitan business busy with metropolitan women. 'No', she declares and we move on.
The Maison de Paris. We stand still in front of the windows of this expensive, aristocratic establishment, emanating, above all, discretion. I look inside and see the old fashioned, sedate tranquillity. Few customers around at this time, outnumbered by the squadron of staff. The staff is dominated by middle-aged women, but a few are younger, although no younger than late twenties. Perfect. We enter.
I spot a particular woman in her early thirties who is available. We quietly move in on her. 'Madame...' I say. She interjects, 'Pardon me, Madame, it is Mademoiselle.' I smile inwardly; she is the one. This civilised and representative specimen of our sex will be my accomplice. Perfect all the more, because I sense she is the kind of woman whose behaviour and appearance have been honed to perfection, but deep inside of whom the soul of a little girl resides.
We have arrived in a posh shop in front of a posh attendant, a little older than I am. She seems to be perfectly able to advise Madame. Her advice will be professional, but candid enough. She will be capable of the mix of truth and flattery that is required in cases like this. Why does Madame want me here?
Madame speaks, 'I should like to purchase a few articles of lingerie. Perhaps you would be kind enough to advise me?' She speaks in her most beautifully civilised manner, but well articulated and authoritative. She looks at the attendant in a kind, yet determined manner.
'Very well, Madame, I would be pleased to do so. What precisely can I help you with?', the woman replies in an obliging, but competent way. She flashes a smile towards me, a professional smile so as to involve me.
'A girdle, firstly. I am looking for one in grey satin. It is to have a wide, comfortable waistband, allowing for a sufficiently wide arch at the front however.'
'Perfect, Madame. Grey is well represented in our new collection. I think I will be able to satisfy your requirements. Please wait here a brief moment,' and she moves behind a counter and opens one of the banks of drawers. She removes a few items, considers them a moment, selects one and returns to us. She hands Madame a beautiful girdle.
Madame takes the article from her and investigates it. She feels the softness of the material, flexes the elastic and holds the girdle in front of herself. It is an item with few frills, not for the girlish, but very attractive. She then says, 'Yes ... it is nice ... but, you see, I specifically requested a high arch at the front.'
The attendant replies, 'Well, perhaps it is not very high, Madame, but the girdle is very comfortable and wears well.'
'I am sure it does, Mademoiselle. My husband and I, however, have the access to consider. I am sure you would agree that this girdle partly covers the abdomen and rather inhibits the access to the triangle.' She glances at me a moment.
I blush and look down. Madame is shamelessly explicit. On my turn I throw a glance at the attendant, who remains entirely composed.
Madame says, 'Let me show you what I am after, ' and to my amazement - no, horror! - bends over slightly, takes hold of the hem of the skirt and lifts it up, right there in the shop, however empty it may be.
With both hands I take the hem of my skirt between my legs and slowly but steadily lift it up to waist level. The tops of my stockings appear, the naked flesh above it, punctuated by the girdle straps, and finally - as I have chosen not to wear panties - the fur of my triangle. I watch the expression on my maid's face as I proceed. She does not look back but is entirely absorbed by the result of my action. When she finally does look me in the eye, my skirt is up. Her look is perplexed. During a second or two we look at each other until I turn my attention back to the attendant. Whether or not she is surprised by this turn of events or not - she must be! - is impossible to ascertain.
I proceed, 'As you see, this girdle arches up quite a bit more and thus allows free access to both eyes and touch.' I musingly stroke my hair once, with my middle finger trailing my cleft. 'I am sure you would agree that is functional and rather becoming as well.' The attendant clings well to her role and does not even swallow before she says in the normalest of tones, 'Madame, it shall be as you wish. We do not stock a girdle quite to your needs, however. If you would bear the delay, we shall be more than pleased to make the necessary modifications. Perhaps you would like to try it on as it is for the moment?' I restore the skirt to its natural position and reply, 'Yes, I would. Thank you. But not before I have selected a brassière to match.' I describe what I am after, without demonstration this time. The cups are to be made of sheer lace and cover as little of the breasts as possible, while still providing the necessary support. If the nipples and their haloes are visible, so much the better. Again, the uninhibited view is of key importance. Fortunately, I do not possess the largest breasts in the world and can therefore cope with a light model.
The woman returns to the bank of drawers, opens a few, takes out a number of articles and comes back to us. Looking at the bras in her hands, she has evidently selected the most delightfully indecent models in stock. She and I handle them all, consider the straps, the clip, the cups, the lace, and the embroidered pattern and engage ourselves in a detailed discussion. I cast a glance towards the maid every so often. Why doesn't she join in, or else walk away? She is self absorbed, embarrassed but unwilling - no, unable! - to react. She would be disinterested or angry if she were simply unwilling. The attendant, I have to say, continues to play her role admirably. One wonders how exceptional our visit really is.
My maid then, the time has come to involve her. I select the most indiscreet brassière on offer and prepare to enter the fitting room. To the maid I say, 'Now, if you would come and help me, dear.'
Before I find an excuse, she takes me by the arm and tags me along into the fitting room. We are in private now. The room is large enough for a crowd, however. It is lined with mirrors. Am I any safer now from this terrible embarrassment? I look at Madame and try to force a smile. The grimace I manage must appear very awkward to her. She does not smile back.
I hardly look at her when she steps out of her shoes and removes the belt of her dress. She then turns her back to me and one by one undoes the buttons and opens the dress. She lets it slide from her shoulders and drop to the floor. 'Please, would you pick it up and hang it somewhere?' I comply and walk up. I bend over and take the dress. I come very close to her naked buttocks now and feel her warmth and smell her scent!
A surge of emotion... so near...
I turn around, put the dress on a hanger and hang it on a peg. When I turn back to her, she has removed her bra and is busy with her girdle, disengaging it from her stockings, in a slightly bent posture. Her back is so beautiful and smooth. Then I see her image in the mirror in front of her... I start... She is wounded... ill... Her skin is...?
'Madame!', I utter.
'Yes?' She stays in this position, her back to me, still slightly bent over, and carefully finishes the release of her girdle. She then straightens and drops it to the floor. She first turns her head towards me and looks me in the eye for a few moments.
Then she turns around herself. There she stands right in front of me, bare-naked, save her stockings, stripped of all that makes a woman a lady. Her torso shows a range of purple welts, not least her breasts! I am speechless. My hands take hold of my face and tears form in the corners of my eyes.
She walks up to me close and softly places her hands on mine. 'My dear girl,' she says, 'feel them'. She pulls my hands over to her chest and makes me feel the welts. 'They are fresh, yes, and your touch both soothes and hurts. You are shocked, naturally. But please be aware that I am proud of these welts. I consented to my punishment. I wanted you to see the welts and know me. My pain is my love, the love that enriches me and heals me. You shall understand sometime, perhaps.'
How could I agree? 'But...'
'Hush... You shall understand. Don't worry,' and she looks at me like a mother. 'Now let me first fit these articles.' She puts her arms through the bra straps, lifts her wounded breasts into the scant cups and closes the clip at the back. She puts on her girdle, but leaves the stockings unattached. Then she turns to a mirror and studies herself. What a woman! I sense that she so perfectly represents what a woman is all about, through the power of her desirability, her beautiful shape in these intimate clothes, through her vulnerability, symbolised by the welts.
'Mmmm... Close, but not quite. Please call our attendant for me, will you?\rquote There is a hint of mischief in her eyes.
I hurry out of the fitting room and nearly run over the attendant. I stare at her for a few moments before I manage to bid her assistance. Whether she has registered my confusion or not, she smiles charmingly and says, 'But of course... after you, please...'
I face the entrance when the maid and the attendant return. My maid is confused and torn by shame over me. The other woman's composure freezes into an uncomfortable tightness. She has to swallow before she manages, with unsteady voice, 'Madame, do you need help?'
I reply, in a surprised tone, 'Why, yes, that is what I had you called for! Oh, but you are not referring to these whipmarks? You do not realise that I deserved and wanted them?' I smile, 'Please, my affliction is not contagious. Now, help me with my girdle,' and I launch into a slow and detailed dissertation on the failings of the present design, how the arch is too low and covers the top of my garden and how it should be modified. I amply illustrate my words with delicate movements of my fingers and my hands, often both hands at the same time, intermittently looking at the attendant, who, while tight still, appears to accurately follow my expose and, after I close, takes out a crayon and draws the arch on the girdle as it should be. Her other hand then rests on my belly ('pardon me, Madame') and her face is a mere foot or two away from my sex, which she must be well aware of.
I watch the attendant indicate the required changes. Then she is finally done and prepares to leave. Madame removes the new pieces of lingerie and hands them to her. Still bare-naked, she says suddenly to me, 'How would you like a set like mine, my dear? As a present from me, of course. Just let Mademoiselle take your measurements,' and to her, 'That is, including the alterations.'
I don't have the courage to refuse this sudden present and the attendant faithfully takes my measurements: waist, hips, bust, chest. She looks very tired suddenly, but remains professional to the bitter end. 'The girdles will be waiting for you in five days time, Madame. Will you takes the brassières, now?', and she looks at us both. Madame replies, 'No, that will not be necessary. We shall not be wearing them separately. I shall see you in five days.'
The attendant leaves. Madame gets dressed again. Her bra; her wounded breasts are tucked in. Her girdle... Her dress... Her shoes... And soon the Madame I have known replaces the indecent Madame whom I was just confronted with. However much I have been embarrassed, part of me is sorry about this intimacy coming to an end. Part of me is very close to the woman who is hiding behind the civilised facade.
We leave the fitting room and Madame nods to the attendant, who is now in the company of another looking equally serious and composed. Are their eyes following us when we leave the shop?
Outside, I send her home with a little kiss. Her day's work is done. On my way home I play the scenes back in my mind.
I see the fitting room with us three women, with me in my paradoxical capacity as saint and sinner, the attendant as the novice acolyte in this obscure ritual, the maid as the congregation, whose faith is bought with fear.
I feel I have succeeded. My maid has certainly been brought closer to me and what I represent.
The 'Reflections' section of my 'Mirrors' is inspired by "l'Image" by Jean de Berg, the store scene, my favourite section of the book (see my little piece on "l'Histoire d'O"). It is far from a carbon copy, however. The action in my story is a reversal of what happens there. Here, the submissive (Madame) takes the lead and embarrasses her Maid by revealing herself as such.
What went before - To be continued
Copyright by Vanna Vechian, 2001. Reproduction allowed only for personal use.
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