An impoverished actress approaches arrives at the door of the Greenwich Foundation for the Support and Betterment of Destitute Women, begging that she will do anything to escape poverty. And they are only too happy to find her an an opportunity to impress the charity’s patrons.
But neither the actress nor the charity are what they seem, for the Foundation’s benefactors have a scandalous passion for beautiful young women, its organizers have a sinister plan to exploit their lascivious benefactors, and the actress is, herself no mere helpless waif….
Following on from the novel Sexual Sorcery, this prequel delves into the first meeting of two of the main characters from the series, Catherine Wolseley and her seductive assistant, Emma Ferriss, and of their first investigation together. And it is an investigation filled not only with mystery and the shadows of occult conspiracies, but also packed with debauched sex, in a tale of deceit, infiltration, group sex and voyeurism.
The Greenwich Foundation for the Support and Betterment of Destitute Women occupied one half of what once had been a grand house, in a somewhat run-down stretch of South East London. The neighbourhood had seen better days but, Emma noted as she approached, the brass plaque on the gate post was well polished, and the lawn in the front was trim.
She pulled at the bell rope, and promptly a slender, red-haired maid opened the door.
“Oh, good morning,” Emma affected a slight nervousness, “I was given this hand-bill, and so I have come to… well….”
“No need to be embarrassed,” the young woman smiled, in a soft Scots accent. “I was standing just where you are two months ago. You’ll want to be seeing the Reverend.”
“If he’ll see me?”
The maid glanced down at Emma’s threadbare old dress, and back up at her pretty, nervous face. “Oh, I’m sure he will.”
Emma was led into a long reception room, which seemed to run the full length of the front of the house. Across the hall a series of four closed doors led towards the rear of the house, and above was an open landing, reached by stairs at the right hand end and open to give a view over the main hall, five additional doors on the landing leading to the upstairs rooms. The reception area was well furnished, with four settees, several low coffee tables, three heavy sideboards against the far wall, and around twenty light chairs, like dining chairs, along the near wall. It struck Emma that the room was large enough, and furnished well enough, that it could reasonably host a charity’s social activities, fund raising mornings, lectures, and so forth.
“Wait just a wee while,” the maid smiled, and disappeared through the farthest downstairs door on the left.
A minute later she returned, and said “Reverend Hare will see you.”
Emma walked through in to a well lit study. The curtains were still part closed, but the tall windows let light stream in, across the big wooden desk in the centre of the room and the book cases that lined the walls. Across the desk a slender young man, perhaps twenty five, stood up. He wore a black shirt and trousers, with a white clerical collar at his neck.
“Welcome to the Greenwich Foundation for the Support and Betterment of Destitute Women,” he smiled and shook her hand gently.
“Thank you, Reverend Hare,” she replied with a curtsey.
“Please do sit down, and relax. You are among friends here,” he smiled reassuringly, and returned to his seat. “What is your name?”
“Emma,” she said, wondering – would he check up on her story? Could she, should she, use a false name? Safest to lie only when necessary, she thought. “Emma Ferriss.”
“And tell me, Miss Ferriss, what misfortunes have brought you here?”
“Oh, Reverend Hare, I feel so ashamed to be here! I never like to ask for things – but everything has come at once! I am behind on my rent, and, just when I thought I had a good job, that pays real money, that has been taken from me!”
“What is your employment, Miss Ferriss? Tell me about it.”
“Oh, Sir, I am an actress – but a respectable one, I must say. And I had a good part, in a proper play. But now I have lost the part to another, and have nothing to go to next.”
“I am sorry to hear that,” he assured her, seeming to take more attention after she said the word actress. “May I take some notes?”
“Of course, Sir, as you wish, if you can help me?”
“Perhaps we can, Miss Ferriss. Please, go on.”
She decided to base her story on the truth, and explained about her current production, the reviews, her replacement in the role, and he nodded sympathetically throughout. In the end she added, to make her predicament seem more extreme, “And now, I have no way to support myself. If I could, I would go home, to my parents, but even that I dare not do – not with my father the way he is… getting so angry, when he has been drinking….”
“As an actress,” Reverend Hare noted sympathetically, “you must not earn very much, even when you are working. Is there no way to supplement your income?”
“With two performances a night, and rehearsals most days, there’s no regular work I can take,” she said sorrowfully. “Of course, some nights… men come to the stage door… sometimes rough men… sometimes gentlemen…. But there are some offers that a good girl should refuse, aren’t there, Reverend?”
“Of course, Miss Ferriss. A young lady should be careful when faced with the predations of rough and ugly men.”
“I did think so, Sir,” she nodded, wondering to herself if there was some Biblical passage that stated that women should be chaste only with rough and ugly men, but be carefree when faced with the predations of smooth and handsome men.
“And so what do you hope to do now?” he asked.
“Hope, Sir, is a thing I have quite run out of! If I lose my lodgings, I will need a place to sleep. But I would rather earn money, and keep where I am. I just don’t see anything that I can do. I will take a tour of the theatres and ask after jobs. I will speak to the shopkeepers and such near where I live and see if they would have work for me – but, of course, as some think an actress not respectable, it is hard to find work in shops and such…. Oh, Reverend, I do not like to ask for charity – though I know, of course, that your Foundation is charitable, and I have come here to… to beg, to implore…. But I would rather find a way to help myself, rather than to rely on the kindness of others. And if I must take charity, I would want to repay it, somehow.”
“Then of course, if we can help – if we can help you to find something to which you can apply yourself, or, if you lose your lodgings, a clean place to sleep – then we will do this for you. It would be terrible if a keen, pretty, diligent, young woman such as yourself could not find assistance in her hour of need.”
She nodded, gratefully.
“Now, if I can have a few details – an address where we can contact you, and past employment that might indicate skills that employers may seek….?”
And so she gave him her address, discussed possible forms of employment, all the while attempting to seem eager but hopeless, until in the end he filled in the final line on the form, and set his pen aside.
“That is all that I need from you for now. But I promise that we will consider your case, and we will contact you as soon as we can.”
“Oh, thank you, Reverend Hare, thank you!”
“You need not worry,” he smiled, confidently. “I think you can be sure that you can rely on us to take care of you.”
Emma thanked him profusely and curtsied repeatedly as he showed her to the front door, and as she headed back out towards the street she glanced back and saw him through the front windows, walking away from the front door. There was no sign of the red-headed maid.
She glanced around, and wondered if there was more that she could find out while she was here. The vicar had been writing at his desk, and a charity must produce an amount of paperwork and correspondence, some of which might be thrown away. She wondered where trash might be piled up, and saw a path curing around the left side of the house. Perhaps there would be outhouses, perhaps with piles of refuse, around the back?
Emma walked cautiously back into the front garden, and, watching through the windows in case someone emerged from the back room, she cautiously followed the path around the side.
As she approached the study window she paused an listened. She did not want him to see her, if he had returned to his desk, passing the window.
“Aye, well, isn’t she a bonnie one!” The maid’s voice carried, muffled but audible, through the window.
“Is she, indeed?”
“Ach, away ye go – ye know she is!”
Emma adjusted her position, to see if she could glimpse through the curtains which way they might be facing. A slim crack at the side gave her just a tiny sliver of a view, but she could make out that he was sitting at his desk, side on to the window, and she saw the maid walk around behind him and lean over. Emma saw no chance to walk past unnoticed, and so waited.
“What are you doing?” he asked, with a hint of irritation.
“I’m just seeing what your opinion of the lassie might be.”
“I am simply writing my usual covering letter, relating to the perfectly standard questions which I asked her.”
“Hmm. Is that so?” the maid asked, still bending down to look over his shoulder.
“Yes, it is.” He now sounded less irate.
“Well, I know ye will not be letting that one get away.”
“You can tell that from my letter?”
“No, Reverend. I can tell that by looking at you. Ye’ll be doing your best to make sure she joins us all, if she’s amenable.”
“Perhaps? Are ye telling me,” she leaned forward, stretching out her hand and running it down his chest, “that ye get that muckle with every lass ye interview?”
He inhaled sharply.
“Even the ugly ones?”
“Perhaps,” he noted, retaining his composure, “that is the effect of a fiery, wanton hussy standing behind me, with her breath on my neck… and her hand – oh God!”
“Her hand where, Reverend?”
Through the crack in the curtains Emma could see the maid’s arm flexing, up and down.
“Your hand there!” the vicar gasped.
“And I’m all to blame?”
“Of course you are… you wicked temptress… so to blame!”
Still Emma could see the maid’s arm working, up down, as the vicar’s breathing became more laboured.
“Well,” the maid teased, “that isn’t fair…. You can blame me… but who do I blame?”
“Blame…?” Hare’s voice was weak, as the maid’s deft fingers distracted him, rhythmically.
“Aye, blame…. Ye blame me because you’re so very hard…. But who do I blame… for the wanton, sinful thoughts… that are filling my head… and making my cunt so very wet?”
Emma could see the girl’s arm now pumping faster and faster. She wondered how skilled those fingers were, and how much stamina the Reverend had. From the way that he panted faster, deeper, she suspected that either the maid was very skilled, or that Hare had little willpower.
“I… I’d blame demons…..”
“Demons…? Demons are making me do this…?”
“I’d… I’d say so… maybe I’ll write a sermon about it….”
“Aye, do that!” she laughed. “And I want to hear you preach it! I want to here the uplifting moral lessons that we can draw from how Reverend Thomas Hare gets his prick pumped.”
“Oh… that’s… you’re definitely… uplifting.”
Through the crack at the edge of the curtain, Emma could see the girl’s arm slowing, teasingly making Hare’s pleasure abate.
“Aye, Reverend… I can tell… but still… who is going to save me from my demons?”
“Mmm… I will do everything I can to save you from your demons.”
“That’s good, Reverend… that’s good…. Because I really, really need a good, hard saving…. Did I mention, Reverend, how wet my cunt is?”
Hare stood up abruptly, grabbed the maid’s shoulders, and swung her round.
She laughed and perched on the desk, raised her legs and leaned back.
Through the crack in the curtains Emma could see Hare loosening his trousers and pushing them down. He reached forward, and as the maid moved her hips he pulled her knickers down and over her thighs and cast them away.
He pushed in determinedly, his full length in one swift stroke, until he was buried fully inside her.
“Oh, yes, Reverend,” she moaned, “I did tell ye how wet I am!”
“And I can tell,” he told her, sliding back, and then forward again, then back and in again, “just how much you must be tempted by your wanton thoughts!”
“Aye, I am!” she laughed, her hands at the front of her dress, unbuttoning it. “And I so need… oh, aye… I so need a really good, hard saving!”
“Hard?” He pushed firmly in to her, and paused for a moment.
“Aye! But harder!”
He pulled slowly back, and then – “Hard?” slammed back in, making the desk shake.
“Aye! Save me like that!”
And so he thrust again, and again, increasing his pace, grabbing her thighs and pulling her onto him as he rammed in.
Her dress half unbuttoned, her stockinged calves resting on his shoulders, she gripped the edge of the desk. “Aye, Reverend! Aye! Like that! Like that!”
Again and again he slammed in. Even outside the window Emma could hear the sound of his flesh slapping on her thighs with each thrust.
“You feel saved yet?” he asked, as he slowed.
“No, Reverend!” She laughed, moving her legs to part her thighs. “But ye know the surest path to my salvation!”
He pulled back, and she laughed as he crouched down between her thighs.
“Aye, Reverend! Save me!”
He craned his neck forward, and she fell back.
“Oh, Reverend Thomas Hare! Your tongue is… divine!”
With the maid flat on her back, and Hare’s attention firmly fixed between her legs, this, Emma thought, might be the time to get past the window.
She stepped forward, peering round the curtain, and saw the girl laying back – but looking down her body to watch the vicar’s ministration. And Emma, outside the window, was directly in her line of sight.
Emma pulled back immediately.
“Thomas! Someone’s there!”
“I don’t know!”
Emma retreated swiftly down the path and ran out onto the street, and while Hare fumbled to pull up his trousers and the maid re-buttoned her dress, she made her escape.
By the time the vicar and maid emerged, respectably clad, from the front door of The Greenwich Foundation for the Support and Betterment of Destitute Women, their unidentified intruder was nowhere in sight.
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