The layout of the house was very much as they had guessed when they entered. What they hadn’t considered were the two wings running from either end of the building, making it a big C. Godfrey had a room on the first floor that was not occupied by a family member, whilst Jiggles, Ally and Ginge were each assigned smaller ones on the second floor. By the time Maude had shown them all around, their cases had been brought in by two strapping young men who looked like they had been drafted from gardening duty. They placed them at the top of the stairs, waiting to be told which room they should go into.
Maude flirted with the older of the two men, reasserting her role as sexy servant after feeling that Eileen had tried to take it away. It was embarrassingly unsubtle behaviour, which Eileen simply ignored. The younger of the men was the only person who was visibly flustered by Maude’s behaviour, and he quickly made his excuses and rushed off to whatever outdoor duties he had been pulled away from.
“Cook says she will be serving food in an hour. She seems as think that flying would have made you hungry.” Maude announced when she realised she wasn’t getting the reaction she hoped for from her audience. “There are two bathrooms on this corridor, if you want to clean. Eileen, we are needed downstairs, I’m sure.”
“I’m sure we are. But I was told to help the guests to unpack, if they need the help.” Eileen replied. She cast a hopeful look to Jiggles and Ally.
“That would be very helpful, thank you.” Ally said.
Maude’s pout was a sight to see. Her foot tapped an angry rhythm on the wood of the corridor floor. The older of the gardeners looked her up and down, and decided to slip away and join his colleague. He took a slow step sideways, then turned on his heel, and crept down the stairs. Maude caught the movement from the corner of her eye, and knew she had lost the argument she had yet to start.
“You stay and help the guests to unpack, Eileen. I will make sure that Mister Lynes knows you are making yourself useful.” Maude said, after taking a slow breath to calm herself. Without further ado, she turned around and followed the gardener down the stairs.
When Maude was on the landing below, Eileen asked, “How may I help you unpack?” The question was loud and clear, she obviously hoped that the other maid heard it. Her grin was sexy and infectious.
“Ally always packs the most clothes.” Jiggles joked. “Why don’t you help her unpack first. If Ginge or I still require any aid when you’re done, we will call.”
Eileen picked up Ally’s case, which was larger than seemed appropriate for a long weekend. It was heavy, but she didn’t appear bothered by that. Ally gave a shake of her head at Jiggles for the mickey taking, then followed the maid into her room.
Ally liked to wear nice clothes. With family in the fashion trade, she knew how to get them, and, if the need arose, how to cut and stitch them into shape. She particularly enjoyed having sexy underwear for those special occasions. It was a large selection of these flimsies that greeted Eileen when she dropped the case onto the bed and opened it.
“Oh my, these are lovely. Are they French?” Eileen couldn’t help but pick a teddy top from the pile, and hold it against her own chest to get an impression of how it might look.
“Mostly French. But I do know some talented seamstresses in Soho who can knock up anything I give her the specs for. She makes some stuff for my uncle to sell, based upon my designs.” Ally bragged.
“That’s incredible. You’re a fashion designer? I thought you were a pilot?” Eileen laid the lingerie on the bed, then moved to the chest of drawers and cupboard against the wall. She opened the top drawer, and nodded satisfaction that it would be suitable.
“Oh, I am a pilot. That is what I do to make a living, helping Jiggles out. But my family is in the rag trade. I suppose appreciating the best clothes comes naturally. Toby says you are the mechanic for his aeroplanes?” Ally sat on the arm of the over stuffed chair by the window and watched the sexy young woman unpack the case and transfer its contents to the drawers. She was short and pretty, not the willowy English Rose type that Ally normally went for. She had been thinking of making a play for her, but the way Eileen perked up at the mention of Toby’s name told her she would be on a hiding to nothing.
“Master Toby lets me look at the planes. I know a little about engines. Father taught me how to take them apart and rebuild them and fix lots of problems. But he didn’t know a lot about flying machines, so I’m having to teach myself. And Toby…. Master Toby has promised to teach me how to fly.”
“Was he giving you a lesson when we arrived?” Ally asked, fighting back a grin.
Eileen’s cheeks were a lovable shade of red. “He was. I was sitting on his lap, and he was showing me the controls.”
“How are the lessons going?”
“Oh, well, as they don’t fly at the moment, all I can do is play with the stick a bit.” Ally couldn’t help but snort a laugh at Eileen’s answer, making the maid go even redder.
“Well, Toby has asked Ginge to give you lessons whilst he works on the aeroplanes. So you will know all about them by the end of the weekend, I’m sure.” Ally said, changing the subject out of pity for the girl.
“Oh, that will be wonderful. I want to learn so much. There, everything is packed away for you. I should see if Miss Jiggleswick or Mister…. Ginge, need any help.”
Ally followed Eileen out onto the landing. Jiggles and Ginge were waiting for them. “Everything unpacked?” Jiggles asked.
“Everything.” Ally said. “And you?”
“We’re all unpacked. But then, we always carry far fewer clothes.” Jiggles told her.
“Ginge, when will you be working on the aeroplanes?” Ally asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. That’s up to Toby, I suppose. But don’t worry, I’ll make sure to have Eileen help me out.” Jiggles smiled and nodded at the maid, who was standing in the middle of the corridor, with the three of them seeming to close in from all sides.
“Oh, thank you so much. I can’t wait to learn all about them. But I must get back downstairs, to see how much trouble Maude has got me into.” Eileen set off down the corridor, away from the stairs. Near the corner into the next wing, she stopped and poked at the wall. Nothing happened, and she looked embarrassed. Then, she had a revelation, and poked at a different section of the dark wood panelling. It opened, revealing itself to be a secret door. “I’ll take the Shaft down to the servants’ quarters. I shall see you all again soon.” With that, she disappeared into the dark opening, and pulled the panel closed behind her.
“She is certainly an interesting young lady.” Ally said. “There is a lot going on with her.”
“With Toby?” Jiggles asked.
“Possibly. He has been letting her play with the stick in the SE5.” Ally smirked.
“How long did they say it would be until food was served?” Ginge asked, getting his priorities sorted out.
“Perhaps another half hour.” Jiggles estimated.
“Well, I’m going to spend some of that time finding out more about that door that Eileen just disappeared through.” Ginge said.
“It is a little mysterious. And we are supposed to be here to investigate mysteries, after all. Apres vous.” Jiggles gestured toward the section of wall Eileen had opened.
They walked to the corner, and looked down the corridor of the wing. Ginge cupped his chin between thumb and forefinger of his right hand, and thoughtfully tapped his lips. “The way this corridor goes, I think this corner could be storage. It would be a dark corner of a room, with no windows” he opined.
“You know, we could stop theorising about what’s behind that wall, and actually find the door the lovely young thing went through. Then we will know just what is in there.” Ally suggested. She was already back around the corner, checking out the panelling.
“I suppose so.” Ginge agreed. But he stayed back and watched as Ally and Jiggles tested the panelling.
The dark, smooth, shiny wood was very well put together, with tight seams. “So, she pressed somewhere around here.” Jiggles mimicked Eileen’s actions.
“And, if you look closely, there is a seam, just here. So, if I press it on this side….” When Ally pushed against her chosen section of wall, it moved inwards, and there was a light click. She released it, and the door popped open. “Open sesame.”
The door didn’t reveal a hidden storage room, but a stairwell. Just inside the door was a small landing, and narrow wooden steps led up and down from it. “This would be the Shaft.” Jiggles said, looking as far up and down as the tight turn of the stairs would allow.
“A secret tunnel? How very old country house.” Ginge said.
“Is it a secret tunnel? Or just a way for the servants to get around without being seen?” Ally wondered.
“Maybe it’s both. Maybe we should explore it. Later.” Jiggles pushed the door closed, until it clicked again, and became a panel once more. “Let’s change, then go and eat.”