Category: NonConsent/Reluctance Stories

Cinder Girl Ch. 01

by peaches07©

Madame Le Turad snapped shut her ledger with a sigh of annoyance. She couldn't deny the state of the manor's financial situation any longer. She'd slowly been dwindling down the money left to her by her husband ever since he'd passed, with no real means to rebuild them. He'd been in the trading business, and very good at what he did, but the nature of his business meant there was no shop or other facility for her to take over and continue making money, and Madame Le Turad had neither the head nor the patience for trading.

"Stazia! Drianne!" She called, summoning her daughters. She tapped her foot impatiently as she waited. Her silly daughters, the byproduct of her first marriage, were her only real hope of pulling out of this financial slump. If at least one of them could marry well, standards of decent society would require that the husband keep his mother and sister-in law off the street.

Stazia ambled in, in her usual lethargic manner. Madame Le Turad indicated she sit on the couch with a silent wave of her hand, and Stazia complied without a remark. She'd always been the most compliant of her two daughters, largely due to her laziness. She just couldn't be bothered to fight against anything that didn't require actual work on her part. Blonde and buxom, she resembled Madame more closely than Drianne, but only in looks.

Drianne made her way into Madame's sitting room, her face quizzical. She took after her father physically, her bright red hair a constant reminder, but Madame flattered herself that Drianne's quick wit was entirely from her own genes.

"Sit," she commanded Drianne. With one arched brow, Drianne adjusted her cumbersome skirts and sat next to Stazia. "Girls, you must be brave. The day we've been fearing is swiftly approaching. Your stepfather left with me hardly anything, as you well know, and though it has lasted through your adolescence, the money is nearly gone. In short girls, we will soon be destitute. You know of course, that the easiest way to remedy the situation is for one of you to marry." She eyed her daughters. They were both attractive in their own way; if she was lucky she'd have both of them married off before the coffers ran dry. She'd put only minimal effort into before, but now she was left with no choice, and they were both of age.

Drianne and Stazia were both nodding. They'd heard this before. Stazia was too lazy to have put efforts in on her own, and though Drianne had looked into the matter a bit on her own, she hadn't found a candidate suitably rich and handsome enough to suit her needs. If a handsome husband couldn't be found, she was willing to settle for rich and old, that he might soon pass and leave her a very comfortable widow, but so far none had presented himself.

"In the meantime, girls, I'm going to need your older jewels that you no longer wear, and perhaps your older gowns as well. We'll need something to sell for now to keep up us living as we are now. We can't have suitors thinking we're paupers."

"Mother!" objected Stazia. "How will we catch a husband in rags with no jewels?" She pouted, very put out at the thought of losing her things.

"Surely there must be something else we can sell, Mother," put in Drianne.

"Well there isn't!" snapped Madame. "I've already sold off a number of small things around the manor, though you're both so self-absorbed it's no wonder you haven't noticed. There is nothing left short of -" Madame paused, as a delicious solution presented itself to her. "On second thought, Drianne, you're right... There IS something else we can sell." A cold smile spread across her face, and even her daughters felt chilled.

** **

Gabriella rose early, as she always did, the faint rays of dawn only just beginning to lick her pillow as she dressed herself in the crisp morning air. It was always chilly in the morning here in her tower, even in the summer. She dressed quickly, the cold air seeping in from between cracks in the planks of her wall and the floor.

She eyed her skimpy blankets with longing, wishing she could curl up in them and sleep longer, but that wasn't an option. Her stepmother, Madame Le Turad, would have her horsewhipped if Gabriella wasn't up and about, preparing breakfast and lighting fires. The manor used to have many servants when her father was alive, but as their fortunes had dwindled, so had her position in the household.

Now there was just Gabriella to serve as maid and scullery girl to the woman who came from the village to cook luncheon, tea, and supper. Breakfast always fell on Gabriella's shoulders, but as she'd shown no aptitude for cooking, her stepmother and stepsisters had learned to subsist on boiled eggs and toast or porridge. Not without complaint, but after they'd sampled too many of her disastrous failures that no amount of scoldings or threats seemed to prevent, Madame Le Turad had thrown up her hands and resigned herself to meager breakfasts.

Madame ran a very tight ship as far as servants were concerned, and though Gabriella's father had been master of this manor, he'd left everything to Madame, who'd bullied Gabriella into servitude, leaving her no other option but to leave. She couldn't bring herself to leave her childhood home, even if she did now have a reduced position and quarters. On the whole, she knew what Madame expected and so long as Gabriella followed it to the letter, things went smoothly. It was hard work, but she saw no alternative.

Drianne enjoyed lording over her, and had taken to it immediately. When Madame had first insisted that Gabriella begin helping out with the chores, Drianne had gone out of her way to make messes and create more work for Gabriella. She still sometimes did, but more out of habit now. As the years had gone on and Gabriella had grown more and more disheveled in appearance, Drianne seemed to grow bored with her little game.

Stazia wasn't too bad, she was too lazy to bother creating extra work. Sometimes her laziness created extra work in and of itself as she would call Gabriella to fetch her things so she didn't have to stir from her bed or couch. Always Gabriella obeyed without complaint. Madame had her whipped for insolence years ago when she had dared object, and the tight scars criss-crossing her back served as a constant reminder to her to hold her tongue.

Sometimes she dreamed of running away, but she had no idea where she would go or what she would do. She had no real skills, other than cleaning, but real, paying maid positions were hard to come by, at least any in reputable houses. Her most cherished fantasy involved Madame and her daughters leaving the manor, whether due to marriage or perhaps perishing in a terrible accident, and leaving Gabriella behind to straighten things out. She felt guilty wishing death upon them though, so her dreaming usually consisted of one of them getting married. Or re-married; though older, Madame was still a handsome woman, and she knew far more in the ways of flirtation and seduction than either of her daughters.

With a sigh, Gabriella shook her head to clear it, and went downstairs to start the fires. The sun was creeping up over the horizon, and she admired the beauty of it as she put flame to tinder. Once the kitchen fire was lit, she put a kettle over it to boil, then quietly made her way into the bedrooms to light the fires.

Drianne had immediately claimed Gabriella's room at the beginning of her servitude. It was a beautiful room, with a large window and a cleverly carved bed frame that suggested the bed was nestled among wood-colored leaves. Gabriella had loved it, and Drianne had coveted it as soon as she saw it. Whether it was the room itself or the fact that it belonged to Gabriella was unknown. In any case, it hardly mattered now.

Gabriella carefully lit the fire in what was now Drianne's room, not wanting to wake her. She was a very unpleasant person in the morning when woken, and over the years Gabriella had learned to avoid it. Drianne was sprawled across the bed, her heavy breathing an indication that she still slumbered. Closing the door quietly behind her, Gabriella lit the fire in Madame's and Stazia's room before returning to the kitchen to prepare the breakfast trays.

With longing, she remembered how once upon a time, servants had been bringing breakfast trays to her and lighting the fires while she slept. Those days were gone, and would never come again. Now she was the girl who put the jam into little pots instead of spreading it on her toast from the pots. How her life had changed! It wasn't that she minded the work, exactly, but oh, now nice it would be to sleep in once in a while and take a day off!

Propriety decreed that Madame be brought her breakfast try first, so Gabriella arranged things just as she liked it, making sure not to spill a drop, and knocked softly before entering, hoping Madame was already awake. As usual, she was, and waiting for her tea. This time she stopped Gabriella before she left.

"Ella," she said, using the shortened nickname that she knew Gabriella hated. Her father had called her 'Gabby', which she'd loved, but she'd never wanted to be anything but Gabriella to her step-family. "I will be requiring something extra of you today. After breakfast, when you have completed your usual chores, I wish you to bathe and present yourself to me in the sitting room. And do please put some effort into your bathing, dear, one would think you slept among the cinders of the fireplace." Gabriella blushed, knowing that she usually was streaked with ashes, though why today her appearance mattered, she could only guess.

She was burning with curiosity, but only curtsied as she left. "Yes, Madame." She was distracted the rest of the morning, Stazia bellowing at her for being a clumsy oaf as Gabriella spilled tea on her breakfast tray, narrowly missing Stazia's bed. Her chores seemed to drag on even longer than usual, but at last the the last pot was scrubbed clean and the floors swept. She bathed as she always did: with a little bucket of cold water fetched up from the well and a rag. This time she tried to take more care to scrub and remove the ash and dirt. Her bare feet seemed to be perpetually stained. Her last pair of slippers had fallen to pieces in the spring and Madame had not yet seen fit to replace them.

There was a tub that Madame and the girls used for bathing, requiring Gabriella to haul pot after pot of heated water to fill it. How much easier it would be to remove the dirt and dust if she was allowed to soak in a heated tub! But she did the best she could, and hoped she was presentable enough to Madame for whatever she had in mind. Perhaps Madame was finally going to buy new clothes for her! Her tired old rags were falling apart and soon she would be virtually naked.

Once she was dressed in the best of her remaining outfits, she made her way to the sitting room, to find Madame and both her daughters waiting. Gabriella curtsied on entrance and stood before them, anxiously waiting.

"I thought Mother told you to bathe, Cinderella," mocked Drianne. "Did no one ever teach you to wash your face?" Her harsh laugh rung in Gabriella's ears as she reached a hand to her face and found to her dismay that she had indeed missed a spot of ash, as evident on her fingers. Stazia joined in laughing, though Madame kept a stern countenance.

"You have grown." Madame Le Turad studied her, then strode forward, her hand on Gabriella's arm holding her still when she normally would have backed away out of deference. Madame examined her arm, put her hands about Gabriella's waist, and to her shock, Madame raised a hand to her chest, feeling her breasts. "Open your mouth," said Madame, and Gabriella obeyed, bewildered. Surely Madam only wanted to gauge her size for some new clothes, so why look in her mouth? Madame examined Gabriella's teeth until she was satisfied. She stepped back again.

"Disrobe." Her voice was icy and firm.

Gabriella was shocked at the command. "Here? Now?"

"Now, or I shall remind you what happens to insolent servants."

Fingers trembling, Gabriella slowly began to extricate herself from her rags, her humiliation evident in her burning red face. Why was it necessary to disrobe in front of her stepsisters, even if Madame needed to see her body to estimate clothing sizes? Of course she was not expecting tailor made outfits, she knew Madame would not spare that expense, but the cheaper, ready-made outfits she'd seen other servant girls wearing seemed to allow for a generous flexibility in body size. Gabriella dropped her ragged dress to the floor, trying to cover herself with her hands.

"Put your hands at your side!" barked Madame, and Gabriella hung her head in shame as she stood naked and completely uncovered before her step-family. Madame eyed her a while before ordering Gabriella to turn around. She gasped as she felt Madame's cold hand on her buttock, testing its size. "Very well," said Madame at last. "You may put your clothing on." Drianne and Stazia snickered, and as soon as she was halfway dressed, Gabriella fled from the room without even a curtsy, embarrassed and nearly in tears. Why did Madame have to be so cruel?

** **

Much to Gabriella's relief, there was no further mention of the incident over the next few days. She still clung to a faint hope that a proper servant's uniform might appear, something that would at least provide her more cover when the colder weather of winter began. Her current rags barely came to her knee anymore, the pieces of the once long skirt having been worn down to the point of tearing off. She supposed it didn't really matter, she never left the manor for anyone to see the indecent state of her clothes, but it would be nice to own something that wasn't full of holes or in pieces, even if was a garment that cemented her descent into servitude.

A week after the incident, Madame ordered the tub filled for a bath. There was nothing at all unusual in her request, but to Gabriella's shock, once she had finished filling the tub, Madame demanded that she climb in!

"Don't stand there gawping like a fish, get in," demanded Madame, and once again Gabriella found herself undressing in front of Madame, though thankfully Drianne and Stazia were not present. Had she done such a poor job bathing with her bucket of water that Madame felt she required a full bath? Her shyness over her nudity was easier to overcome now as she thought of soaking in that lovely warm water and being finally, gloriously clean! It had been so long since she'd felt that way. A bucket of cold water could only get one so far.

Slipping under the warm embrace of the water, Gabriella sighed with happiness. This was the best thing that had happened to her in years. Madame, however, did not look pleased. She rolled up her sleeves and reached toward Gabriella, dunking her head under the water. Gabriella came up sputtering.

"Your hair is filthy. It'll never come clean if you don't get it under the water." She glared meaningfully. Gabriella nodded her understanding and tipped her head back so only her face poked out above the water. It suited her fine, she'd been longing to give her hair a proper wash. Her stepmother appeared again, brandishing the harsh soap that Gabriella used on the pots and pans, and without a word, grabbed Gabriella's foot, jerking her head back under the water as she pulled. She scrubbed none too gently at her foot, and Gabriella fought back a grimace as she focused on keeping her face out so she could breathe.

At least she would be clean. The scrubbing felt like it was removing the top layer of her skin, but at least that meant the dirt and soot would be gone as well. She gritted her teeth and endured Madame's harsh scrubbing. Madame saved her hair for last, bunching it around in a tangle that Gabriella knew would take her hours to comb out. When at last it was cleaned to Madame's satisfaction, Gabriella made to rise from the tub, only to have Madame stop her again.

"Get on all fours," she ordered. Gabriella stared at her, not comprehending. "Get on your hands and knees!" she commanded again, the irritation in her voice a warning. Reluctantly, Gabriella rolled over into the required position, her breasts just brushing the surface of the water. Madame took a cloth and more of the soap, and to Gabriella's horror, she reached between Gabriella's legs and began to wash her there! As if Gabriella wasn't perfectly capable of taking care of that herself! Mortified, she held her position as Madame harshly scrubbed in between her buttocks, her face flaming. Finally Madame declared her clean. Gabriella made to put her ragged garments back on, but Madame stopped her.

"Tonight you will be accompanying me to a very special party. I have an outfit you will wear."

Gabriella's heart leapt a little at the words. She was going to go to a party! She was being allowed to leave the manor! Of course it was only in the capacity of being Madame's servant, but still. Perhaps she was to pretend that she was Madame's lady's maid. She had years ago when the manor had hosted important guests that Madame wanted to impress. Madame bid her to wait, and returned shortly with the garments.

Gabriella was surprised to see it included a corset. Corsets were fashionable, but rarely worn by servants. Madame soon had her laced in so tight she could barely breathe. Gabriella knew better than to ask for it to be loosened, for Madame seemed quite pleased with her work, spanning Gabriella's cinched in waist with her hands. Her objections could not be helped, however, when Madame presented her with the barest scrap of lace that was to serve as her undergarments!

"It's not decent!" protested Gabriella, but a swift slap from Madame silenced her on the matter and she slipped it on, feeling even more naked than she had before. The dress was altogether too pretty, an ivory sheath that skimmed the corset-created curves and clung to her hips and buttocks. Why was Madame dressing her in finery? What was going on? Her cheek still stinging from the slap, Gabriella held her tongue. Madame must have some sort of plan, and when she was ready, she would tell her.

Madame combed out Gabriella's hair, causing her to tear up at the swift jerks and the pain it caused. She was ordered to leave it down to dry, and sent to the sitting room to await the coach. Her fingers twitched nervously. Why was her stepmother giving her free time to sit? It must be because she was afraid of Gabriella dirtying the dress, for normally her stepmother worked her from sunup to sundown. Her legs and buttocks felt uncomfortably bear without her usual undergarments.

Madame swept into the sitting room in a cloud of jasmine, her signature perfume. She ordered Gabriella up and out the door, and they were soon ensconced in the coach and on their way. Drianne and Stazia had pouted over not being allowed to go, but Madame had been very firm that they stay behind, making Gabriella even more curious. Normally the spoiled girls were denied nothing. Where could they be headed that Madame would not take them to?

They rode on for a good hour, Madame pursing her lips and gazing pointedly out the window, discouraging questions. It suited Gabriella well, she was only too happy to look out the other window and watch the world whizzing by, hungrily absorbing the sights of new faces and buildings, and the beautiful scenery of the trees. She tried to soak it all in, not knowing when her next outing might be, if ever.

The coach slowed to a stop in front of a very large, grandiose mansion, surrounded by many other coaches in its circular drive. The driver stopped near the door to let out Madame and Gabriella, then headed further down to find a place to park the carriage. Madame grabbed Gabriella's arm and hauled her forcibly up the steps while Gabriella gaped in awe at the size of the place. The grounds were impeccably manicured as well, and her head swiveled back and forth as she admired it all.

Category: NonConsent/Reluctance Stories