Saturday, May 6, 2017

Story: Professor Janice Sinclair Gets a New Maid. Chapter 1.

By Jackie J

Wendy could be away for up to three months or so following her operation and Professor Janice Sinclair was distraught. Wendy had been in the service of the professor for just over a year and during this time had taken care of her every need: cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping, and paying the household bills. Never had Wendy had so much as a day away from her domestic duties in the household of the professor.

The letter from Wendy was hand written, brief and precise, explaining that she would be away for some time but that she had contacted an associate, a Miss Patricia Drummond. Miss Drummond would be in touch to discuss organising the housemaid’s duties until Wendy was ready to return.
Janice stared at the letter cursing the day when she agreed to let Wendy have the time off for the operation: "Simple and straightforward she said, did she? Didn't she say that was only for a few days? Never a day off, now this, what am I going to do?"

Wendy had been a successful barrister in the city before becoming a maid; Janice had always thought it a strange career change. Why on earth would a successful pretty young woman give everything up to be a maid rather than following her career in law? In fact, Janice sometimes doubted that her maid had ever worked within the legal profession being so shy and withdrawn. Wendy had said that she had no choice in the matter but never elaborated further.

It was some days after receiving the news that Wendy would be on extended leave that Janice was in her study engrossed in her work, planning lessons for her students and preparing for an upcoming lecture tour when the doorbell rang, then rang again and again.

The absent minded professor called for her maid to answer the door.

“Wendy, Wendy the door! Will you answer the door, dear?”

Only when the door chimed again did Janice realise there was no Wendy!

Walking down the hallway the professor could make out the silhouette of a woman through the frosted glass of the door. Having momentarily forgotten the contents of her maid’s letter Janice opened the door and before the visitor could speak uttered rather unceremoniously:

“Yes, I am very busy; you will have to come back later, goodbye.”

The door was already closing when a firm gloved hand reached forward to jam the door and a voice, refined and clear, spoke.

“Professor Sinclair? I am Miss Drummond, Miss Patricia Drummond, here to cover for Miss Simms. Is Wendy Simms one of your maids?”

Janice stepped back and looked at the smartly dressed women, similar in height and build to her but with raven black hair, glossed red lips, bright green eyes, eyes which carried the hint of a smile. There was a small suitcase by her side.

Janice, being taken a little by surprise, apologised if she had come over as being rude and, remembering the letter, invited Miss Drummond inside.

Miss Drummond, over the threshold, slowly closed the door, her eyes holding Janice’s gaze.
“Yes, that was very rude of you, professor, not a good start but your apology is accepted.”

Not more than a couple of weeks since Wendy had left for her operation but the rambling residence was already looking a little unkempt.  Again, Janice found herself apologising this time for the state of the place.

Miss Drummond followed the apologising Janice into the sitting room and, after removing some discarded paperwork, took a seat opposite her. With more of a sneer than a smile Miss Drummond looked around the room and spoke in a quiet controlled tone.

“Well the house looks to be a mess. Are you always so untidy? I understand that Wendy has only been away for little over two weeks and look at this place! Still that’s why I am here, isn’t it?”

Janice was taken aback by the surly attitude of her replacement maid. She was not like Wendy at all, but without a maid the professor’s life would be impossible.

The two chatted, well, Miss Drummond doing most of the talking, and it became clear that she was familiar with Wendy’s work for the professor and Janice became a little more relaxed and the discussions progressed.

How this woman had become so familiar with Wendy’s routines and why the replacement domestic looked and sounded anything but a maidservant, Janice chose to ignore. She had a replacement maid and that was good enough for her and Miss Drummond was settled in.

Miss Drummond was not just a replacement maid having explained to Janice that she ran a training school for maids and domestic servants. Wendy, Miss Drummond confirmed, had once been an aspiring lawyer and had been trained by Miss Drummond to become one of her maids, given this was the case Miss Drummond told the naive professor she felt obliged to cover for her.

It seemed with Janice being a lecturer and head of the science department at the renowned Castanbury Girls College and Patricia running a school for maids they had at least some common ground.

Professor Sinclair had, through ambition, single mindedness and her intelligence, overcome all obstacles to succeed in the male dominated world of the 1920s academia. Her elevation through the ranks and especially at such a relatively young age had been met, in equal measure, with resentment and envy. Especially so from her male colleagues but the jealousy of the female subordinates was like a simmering pot. There was no support for her in this quarter: women should know their place.

Until the arrival of Professor Sinclair female teaching staff had been restricted to Domestic subjects, cooking, needlework, country dancing and sports. More serious subjects, such as science, were the reserve of the male staff. The head master who recruited and promoted the professor, above her male colleagues, had recently moved on but Professor Sinclair remained at the residential College, much to the annoyance of those having to work with and for her.

Like most, whom become successful when still young, only twenty-eight, Professor Sinclair carried an air of arrogance, an aloof persona that did not sit well with the Governors, staff, or students at Castanbury.

Whilst most young ladies of her class were preparing for a good marriage, Janice Sinclair had buried herself in books forgoing all her social skills and domestic acumen. She was a slave to her career and hence why she required the services of a maid. This especially relevant given she had inherited a large rambling house when her parents passed away quite suddenly.

Wendy, who had been the professor’s maid until her untimely departure, was rarely chatty and kept herself to herself in the maid’s quarters at the back of the house. Patricia, Miss Drummond, on the other hand, always had a friendly word and over the coming weeks worked hard to endear herself to the receptive Professor Sinclair.

It was over a late-night beverage, served by Miss Drummond, that the subject of maid and domestic servant training was raised, Professor Sinclair showing an interest in this side of Miss Drummond’s work. The professor was quite surprised that much of the training that Miss Drummond provided was not to domestics and maids at all but to young professional girls and ladies.

Miss Drummond, with a tone of disdain, explained that almost all modern career women had little or no knowledge of running a household or general domestic skills like cleaning, cooking, laundry, sewing and the like.

Miss Drummond then stopped mid-sentence and feigned a look of embarrassment and concern, staring at Janice who was hanging on her every word.

“Oh, what must you think of me? I did not mean to... well not you, I don’t mean you are like that. Oh, I feel really bad now.”

With her seed now sown in the professor's mind, Miss Drummond excused herself to retire to the maid’s quarters but, before she did, she casually dropped a maid’s training handbook on the sofa with a throw away comment.

“It's all in here, Miss, if you want to know more.”

Miss Drummond returned to her quarters, a smile of satisfaction on her face. Each section of the book was prefaced by “seek professional guidance where you can.”

A subliminal line that should hook the pretty professor like it had hooked Elizabeth Sloane-Fergusson, once an up-and-coming barrister in the city with wealth and position, now penniless, one of Miss Drummond’s indebted subjugated maids by the name of Wendy.

Janice, thinking of Miss Drummond’s words concerning the lack of domestic skills within professional women such as herself, reached for the book and started to read thinking: "how hard it could really be to learn all that domestic stuff?"

Not a week later Miss Drummond could not believe her ears when, whilst she stood at the sink, about to wash crockery and cutlery, an inquisitive voice chirped up from the doorway.

“So, plates or cups first? I see you have laid the cutlery to the base already?”

Miss Drummond turned to see a giddy smiling Professor Sinclair waving the book in her hand that she had left for her to read.

“Got you there, didn’t I, Patricia?”

Miss Drummond had to stifle a snigger, knowing her plan was in motion.

“Oh, yes, Miss, for sure, I should have known you wouldn’t just read the book and put it down! You know though that a little knowledge is dangerous don’t you Miss?”

The professor was soon at the side of the large stone sink next to Patricia.

“So, Patricia, show me how to wash the dishes. I have read the book you gave me. It seems straight forward enough.”

Miss Drummond was ready and made light of the situation.

“Oh, me show you? I think you should show me! A bit of a test for you, Miss?

An apron in hand, Miss Drummond offered it to Janice.

“Put this on to protect those nice clothes of yours, Miss.”

The large bibbed apron fastened in place, Janice set about washing the dishes much in line with the instructions found within Miss Drummond’s book. Each item methodically washed and dried in turn and then racked. Janice even added the soda to ensure the glassware did not streak and gleamed.
Miss Drummond stood back and applauded.

“Oh, Miss, what a quick learner you are, I could not have done that better myself.”

Janice momentarily was full of pride until Miss Drummond spoke again with a hint of disdain: “That is apart from the order, the knives and long spoons before the bowls? And always double drain the cutlery of course? Schoolgirl errors really, Miss. I couldn’t expect you to be perfect. There is so much detail, this work is not for you, Miss, and you are best sticking to your studies!”

If that wasn’t a red rag enough for the now deflated Janice! She was always right and methodical, never made a mistake. To be told in essence that she could never master basic domestic skills, poor Janice was on tilt and the scheming Miss Drummond was going to exploit that.

Miss Drummond then opened up the avenue to Professor Sinclair’s demise: “Like it says in the book Miss, seek professional guidance where you can.”


  1. Hi Jackie
    Excellent as always
    Have I read a similar story by you, but on another site?

    1. Indeed locked in lace?

    2. It looks like an mirrored version of Professor John Sinclair Gets A New Maid.

      Mirroring is when you change the gender of a character or characters so you can reach a different audience with what is otherwise the same story.

    3. Since TG has never sold to me the way female professional demotion always has, I look forward to the continuation of this story with delight.
      In recent years, I have gained a greater appreciation for the genuine skill and knowledge of people doing supposed "menial" jobs, so Dr. Sinclair's education in what (I presume) is to be her new line of work is going to be additionally interesting to me .

  2. Yes you are correct but worry not certain aspects will change in the rewrite The story runs well withut the TG aspect.

    Anyways you be the judge of that hon and let me know

    Hugs and Kisses
    Jackie J

  3. Jackie, one of my favorite writers. Happy that you described each of the main characters thus far as pretty. Hoping you will play up the professor's current beauty and how her looks fade over time as she falls into a lower social sphere. Physical deterioration adds a juicy dimension to the story line.

  4. Love the story <3