Governess Malice arrived suddenly and without warning one summer many summers ago. I can’t remember precisely which one. There are so many vivid images and sensations which cloud and crowd my recollection of those remarkably formative months.

I do recall that the trees lining the gravel drive had been cut back brutally the day before I left for the Summer school term. I almost felt sorry for their shivering branches, left so naked they had nowhere to hide. Having just been subjected to a particularly unforgiving hair cut, I knew just how they felt. But by the first day of the holidays, (whilst my hair had barely grown an inch and my ears still stuck out as if in protest) they were once again heavy with leaves so luscious the sunlight struggled to reach the ground beneath. Yet there she stood in a single sunbeam, elegant and graceful with her shoes and her smile and her hair shining in the bright morning light.

I peered down from my bedroom window, trying to conceal my curiosity behind a thick damask curtain. Yet within seconds she looked straight at me, shooting a gaze so stern it made me shudder. I swear she had a sixth sense.

After a supper I could barely bring myself to eat, we were finally introduced in the library that evening. Looking me up and down, she gave my hand a firm shake and told me she looked forward to getting to know me and to teaching me a great many lessons during our time together.

Squirming self-consciously, I struggled to look up at the alluring warmth of the smile which danced on her soft red lips as she spoke. She lifted my chin and gave my right ear a little stroke, then a mocking twist (damn that ruthless barber) and her bright green eyes sparkled like a Hatton Garden shop window. She appeared to gaze at me, into me and straight through me all at once. Locked in her penetrating stare, I blushed and trembled.

Miss Malice was as sweet as she was strict. An effervescent air of authority and exacting standards exuded from her feminine demeanour. Over the next two months I did my best to behave but of course I failed on countless occasions. And then I was punished. Sometimes sensually over her perfect silk stocking clad knees. And sometimes brutally with the cane until I sobbed and begged and assured her I would never fail her again. Sometimes she hugged me. And at other times I was ordered straight to bed without another word.

I’m sure you wish to know more. But she taught me discretion, as well as impeccable manners, self-control, abstinence, French, Biology. And Ancient History….as is the rest of this story. If you are lucky enough to have her appointed as your Governess then prepare to find yourself at her mercy and under her inimitable magic spell. Fail her at your peril.