© Copyright 2010 - AmyAmy - Used by permission
Storycodes: F+/m; latex; corset; maid; fem; cd; bond; training; hum; cons/reluct; X
Chapter 6: Excellence in Conformity
I followed Housekeeper Four to a room I had never seen before. It was a very small, stuffy room, more of an oversized broom-closet than anything else. It contained a large shelf with a computer, and a tall barstool with a chromium pedestal and footrest.
The Housekeeper directed me to sit on the stool. She then cuffed my ankles to it, rather unnecessarily I thought. I was still able to swivel back and forth within a limited range.
A computer screen, along with speakers and a microphone were positioned so I could comfortably reach them from my current position. The main case of the computer and the keyboard were on the floor nearer the door, far out of my reach.
Housekeeper Four fixed me with a stern look and launched into one of her prepared speeches. I knew her English wasn't good enough to have managed such a complex monologue without help, but I couldn't help being impressed how well she had learned it - even while it seemed to bode ill for me.
"Today you are to learn how to speak. You will learn when to speak, what to say, and how to say it. This is a very easy lesson, so I expect you to perform well. Just because it is easy does not excuse laziness or lack of attention," announced the housekeeper in English.
"I will explain this simply, as maids are not very good at understanding complex things. While it has become apparent that you are slow-witted even by maid standards, I think even you will be able to follow this."
"Firstly, when to speak: just because you are not gagged does not mean you may speak. I never want to hear a word from you unless you have been asked to respond. The only exception to this is that normally you should confirm that you understand all orders that are given to you respectfully."
"Secondly, what to say: it should be obvious to you that anything you say should be respectful. As the most novice maid, everyone is your superior and they will require you to demonstrate this at all times. I will make sure that everyone remembers and follows their orders to report any disrespectful speech on your part."
"You must say the name or proper title of the person you are speaking to, unless you do not know it. In that case you may append Mistress, or in the unlikely event you are ever allowed to speak to a man, Master."
"The English words you may use to respond are your name, 'yes', 'no', 'thank you', 'mistress', 'master' and 'sorry'. Those words, along with the name and title of the person you are speaking to, are the only ones you are allowed to say unless instructed to speak freely."
"As for how to speak: German language is the preferred response at this time. I know you speak enough of the language to manage that, and naturally, by the time we are finished with your lessons, you will manage your approved vocabulary perfectly."
"You may only respond in English if you are spoken to in English, otherwise you must speak German. Mistakes will be punished. I am going to remove your gag and spray your throat with something that will help your voice today. I hope you can avoid unwanted chatter and keep yourself out of more trouble," said the housekeeper in a tone, which for her was almost cheerful.
She then released the valve on my gag and I felt the pressure on my jaw relax. It had been stretched so hard and for so long that I doubted that I would be able to get enough mobility in it to say anything intelligible for hours.
She then pried my mouth open with her fingers and sprayed a blast of something cold from an aerosol into my mouth and down my throat. It burned like a mouthful of hot chilli. I had an immediate coughing fit, which she ignored. I felt as if I was about to choke.
When I had finished coughing, and was working my jaw, trying to get it to move properly she administered a sharp slap to my nipple. Much to my surprise I let loose a squeal. I didn't mind. I was elated: I could make sounds.
"That was not a ladylike performance," said the housekeeper.
She waited a few moments before slapping me again. I stifled any sound.
"I expect to be thanked properly when I correct you, ungrateful slut," said the housekeeper.
"Thank you Housekeeper Four," I answered.
I had forgotten what my own voice sounded like. It sounded strange to my ears: higher and softer than before. It wasn't a big difference. I put it down to the combined effects of memory playing tricks on me, the spray, and the long period of enforced silence.
"What are the words you are permitted?" Demanded the housekeeper instantly.
"Yes, no, thank you and sorry," I answered weakly.
I winced in pain as she slapped me again.
"Stupid maid, you annoy me," growled the housekeeper.
"Sorry, Housekeeper Four," I answered immediately. I wasn't sure what she expected me to say. I felt stupid, confused and embarrassed: I had to be some sort of dummy if I couldn't manage it even after the housekeeper had made it so simple.
"Are you ashamed that you cannot follow simple instruction?" Asked the housekeeper.
"Yes, Housekeeper Four," I answered immediately.
"Good. Now what is your name?"
"Number Twenty Two, Housekeeper," I answered.
I flinched, though no blow came.
"Do you now understand the words you are permitted?"
"Yes, Housekeeper," I answered.
"Say them!" She barked, as if frustrated with my clumsy responses.
"Yes, no, thank you, sorry, mistress, master, Number Twenty Two, Housekeeper Four," I said hesitantly.
"Better," growled the housekeeper. "It seems even a bimbo like you can understand this. Now, this time in German... What are the words you are allowed to use?"
I answered her hesitantly as she requested.
"That will do, so it seems you can say everything that is required of you quite adequately in German. There seems to be no reason for you to use English again, yes?" She asked, now in German. I understood most of it.
"Yes, Housekeeper Four," I said in German.
"That's right. You agree there is no need for you to speak English at all?"
"Yes, Housekeeper Four," I answered weakly, in German of course.
"Good. We are making progress. So, if I hear you speaking English anywhere to anyone including during free time, or if anyone else hears you, you will be punished for disobedience. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Housekeeper Four," I answered, defeated.
She paused for a time, just staring at me in a way that paralysed me with fear. I felt depressed that I wouldn't be able to speak much to anyone, even the other maids, because my German was so bad. Mainly though, I was just trying to concentrate on Housekeeper Four. The fear of punishment had a way of keeping my attention.
From that point on, she spoke only German, and I had to focus all my attention on following what she was saying, though I realised she was trying to keep her words simple.
"Your speech is horrible. You will be trained to speak in a ladylike voice. This will be done using the computer. The computer will speak and you will repeat exactly into the microphone. If you do not repeat exactly, the computer will know. At the end of the day your errors will be counted and your punishment will be decided."
"Do you understand?" She said with a cold, hard smile.
"Yes, Housekeeper Four," I answered (in German of course).
"You must imitate what the computer says perfectly in all ways. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Housekeeper Four," I answered again.
"The program is already loaded. Begin now," she said, hitting a key on the computer keyboard.
Housekeeper Four then left immediately. The door locked behind her, and I was plunged into near darkness, the only light coming from the computer screen.
A moment later, the computer sprang into life.
"Repeat after me," said a smooth, deep, seductive female voice emanating from the speakers.
I waited for the phrase I was supposed to repeat.
"Yes, Mistress," it said.
I copied it. A moment later the screen flashed black. Red text alerted me, 'Bad girl! You failed to speak with the correct accent or tone. You have received a demerit.' At the same time the computer replayed my performance for my education.
I bit my lip. My voice sounded much higher and thinner than I was used to but I was sure I'd answered correctly. I was sure! My words coming from the computer were the correct ones.
After a short pause the computer spoke again.
"Yes, Mistress," is said.
Again, I responded, careful this time to be sure I spoke into the microphone exactly the right way to avoid any cracks, pops or breath noise. I also did my very best to ensure that I had the accent the same.
It flashed black again, another red failure message, another demerit.
It was five minutes, and many demerits later before I realised that I had to reproduce the sultry feminine sound of the voice, not just the words. I was trying not to weep with despair, knowing that would defeat me for sure. I couldn't really manage it, but I got close enough. At last one of my crude imitations of the female voice earned me a success of a sort.
The screen flashed blue and white text informed me, 'Good girl! You spoke adequately. You must try harder. If you are successful you can remove demerits, or earn credits.'
I did my best to keep my sobbing silent and work hard at reproducing the simple phrases. Sometimes they were in heavily German accented English, but mostly they were in German. Frustratingly, I found that a failure to reproduce the German accent in the English phrases was classified as a failure.
The most complicated thing I had to say was my own name, and a great deal of the time I couldn't even manage the simplest things. I felt depressed that I was sure to receive a horrible punishment. The pain from the wounds the cane had inflicted the day before yesterday had diminished to a dull throbbing ache. I desperately wanted to avoid receiving more, but it seemed unlikely.
The dismal repetitive task continued for ages. The room was hot and stuffy. Even with the gag removed I felt that I couldn't get enough air because of the combined effects of my ever-present collar, poor ventilation, and the restriction of my corset. Even my position on the stool started to become uncomfortable, as I had little scope to move about or stretch in any way.
I made gradual progress, and eventually I could make the sounds well enough to convince the computer to award me a pass about half of the time. I was convinced that I was still a long way from scoring a credit, and this worrying thought made me increasingly gloomy.
After what seemed like hours of work, I started to think they had forgotten me. I wondered if I might be left here for days. Would I collapse from dehydration? If I fell asleep, would the computer just continue on, speaking phrases that received no answers while it relentlessly added demerits? I was very tired, and falling asleep was my second greatest fear. My foremost fear was that I would be harshly caned for the day's failures.
When I had given up hope of any rescue, I was disturbed by the return of the housekeeper. She hit a key on the keyboard, and the computer stopped.
"It is lunchtime. Follow me," she said, unlocking me from the stool.
I tottered after her as fast as I could on enforced tiptoe. My legs were cramping up from sitting all morning after the days of hard exercise. It was enough to make me forget my blisters and aching toes. The cramps made it agony to walk, but I didn't dare fall behind.
Lunch proceeded as normal. I sat at a table with maids I barely recognised, and I scarcely had time to notice them, as there was no time to spare. I managed to consume my meal within the deadline and avoided another punishment.
After lunch I followed the housekeeper to the clinic where Nurse Five administered my injections. These were the same as the day before and I wasn't given much chance to rest.
Nurse Five had something to say to me though.
"Ah, delicious Twenty Two: when you finish your training today, instead of wasting your time in the maids' quarters, I could have you brought to me to serve as my sex toy for the night. Would you like that Twenty Two?" She asked, oozing erotic charisma.
"Yes Nurse Five," I answered eagerly, with my best effort in the style I had learned.
I was very eager for some time together with Nurse Five. She giggled, indulging me with a beautiful smile. My penis throbbed hard in its confinement. Before I could get lost in a daydream of how I might manage to cum, she asked another question.
"You are making progress; I think that if you try hard at your lessons you are going to sound very sexy. Are you looking forward to it?" She asked.
"Yes Nurse Five," I answered. I wasn't sure if I genuinely meant it, or just feared to disagree with her.
I realised that I was trying my hardest to sound sexy and feminine – something I was convinced that I would never achieve. I was a man and all these tests and lessons were unfairly designed for women. How was I supposed to compete? I wondered if I now felt as women did when faced with a world biased in favour of men.
As if she could read my mind, Nurse Five laughed again.
"Never mind, I will see you later - unless you get yourself into serious trouble - so be on your best behaviour," she ordered finally.
After that, the housekeeper returned me to the stuffy little dark room, locked me to the stool and left me repeating a handful of words into the computer. I glumly persisted in trying to make my male voice sound as much as possible like a women, convinced in my heart that I sounded ridiculous.
As the day dragged on, the computer began to introduce words that were not on Housekeeper Four's allowed list. I was actually afraid that repeating them to the computer might actually be earning me punishments. However, it had given an order, and I obeyed. Now I had uncertainty and worry to deal with as well.
At last the housekeeper returned. She stopped the computer and unlocked me from the stool, then sent me to stand outside the room. I did as instructed without a thought. The Housekeeper seemed to spend some time looking at data on the computer, assessing my terrible performance no doubt. I couldn't see what she was doing, but I couldn't imagine what else there was for her to do in that dull little room.
I was shivering in terrible anticipation of my punishment when finally the housekeeper emerged from the room. I suspected she was about to declare something terrible.
"Number Twenty Two, you have not done very well today, but I accept that it is difficult for someone as slow and stupid as you to learn to speak properly. I will give you a chance to redeem yourself."
I was steeling myself for the declaration of my punishment, but at the offer of a possible escape my heart started to pound urgently.
"I will set you another task. If you can write an honest and complete account of why you are so awful at being a maid, I may erase today's demerits. You may write in English or German. It is your choice. Can you manage that Twenty Two?"
"Yes Housekeeper Four," I nodded.
"Are you sure? If you fail at this task you will receive extra punishment in addition to the punishment you have already earned for your awful speech," she explained darkly.
"Yes Housekeeper Four," I said weakly.
"Are you really sure? You don't sound sure. You don't sound grateful."
"Yes Housekeeper. Thank you Housekeeper," I said hesitantly - still failing to sound sure or confident.
"And don't forget Twenty Two, that a maid should always smile pleasantly when speaking to a superior," added the housekeeper.
"Yes Housekeeper," I agreed, attempting to smile. I wasn't sure if she could see it beneath the hood.
"Adequate. Perhaps I should ask the Nurse to take a look at your teeth: you don't have much of a smile. Would you like that Twenty Two? Would you like a pretty smile?" She asked almost pleasantly.
"Yes Housekeeper. Thank you Housekeeper," I said quickly, trying to smile, afraid of not being eager and compliant enough.
"We may make a maid of you yet. Follow me," she said, and set off.
I was still reeling from the housekeeper's odd suggestion about my teeth. Was there something wrong with them? Was she making some awful veiled threat? Some nightmarish thoughts popped into my head. I don't know where ideas like that could come from. I tried to think about something else. My sore feet were an almost welcome distraction.
I could swear that Housekeeper Four always found the longest route to walk to anywhere. She would try and make me walk as far as possible and as fast as possible whenever she had the chance. It was probably just my imagination. I had no idea where I was in the building most of the time so I had no way to be certain.
She led me to a room not much different from the one I had been in before. It was small, windowless and poorly ventilated. Instead of a computer and a stool, this one contained nothing but a filing cabinet.
Housekeeper Four removed a pad of ruled A4 paper and blue fibre tip pen that a child might use for colouring from the cabinet and placed them on top of it.
"You have a time limit, so write quickly. Remember, your words must be honest and complete. Explain why are you so awful at being a maid. Make sure you list how can you improve," she instructed.
She left, locking the door behind her. At least the light was turned on so I could look around me: a bare fluorescent tube that cast an unhealthy greenish tinge over the room.
I dropped the pen twice before picking it up successfully. The effects of my long artificial nails and my new gloves combined to create a severe obstacle to any task requiring the use of my fingertips. I imagined it as the manual equivalent of trying to walk over slippery cobblestones on stilts.
The only thing I had to rest on was the top of the filing cabinet, so I had to stand to write. This was very tiring in the ballet heels. I was afraid of the time limit running out, but I feared my feet would fail me first.
I wrote that thought down right away. I explained how I struggled to walk; the pain standing caused me; the terror of falling; my efforts to avoid being too slow. I wrote that I must learn to endure the pain without complaint.
It was slow work because of the problems with using my hands, and everything I wrote looked childish and clumsy, despite the struggle to produce it. I had to learn a new way to hold the pen. I wrote that too. I wrote that I was too clumsy to write in gloves and would have to learn to do better.
I went on in a similar vein to describe the limitations of my uniform, how I had brought them on myself through laziness and disobedience, and how I must work hard to manage despite them. My uniform was not very forgiving of laziness now.
I described how the tests were all things that women naturally learned how to do, but men did not, and so they were hard for me. I explained how my sex made me ill suited to be a maid.
I knew that the fear of punishment was one of the chief things that made me work harder, but I didn't know whether it was a good idea to list that. If I mentioned it, I might receive even more harsh punishments 'at my own request', but if I missed it out I might be in trouble for skipping such an obvious topic.
Nervously, I hedged around it, stating that I needed to work harder to avoid punishments, and if I did that I might waste less staff time on punishing me.
It seemed I still had time to write more, so I described my bad accent, and uncouth manly voice. I knew that I had to learn to speak like a sexy woman. I wrote that I felt this was probably impossible for me as a man, but I would try my best.
Still the housekeeper hadn't returned, so I covered my initial transgression under the charge of Nineteen: how I had masturbated in the toilets, bringing pain and shame to both of us. I put down how grateful I was that Nineteen did not receive the worst of the punishments, for a crime that was entirely my fault.
I wrote how a good maid wouldn't do anything to cause trouble for others and would only work hard to help them. I explained how I had learned my lesson regarding this and hoped that there would be opportunities to show I was now less selfish.
I was about to write something about how afraid I was of Housekeeper Four, when she returned. I expected her to immediately pick up the pad and read my work, but she didn't.
"In your best voice, I would like you to read your work out to me," she said. "Do you think you can manage that?"
I nodded, "Yes Housekeeper."
She stood and listened to me reading all the embarrassing things I had written. I started to feel very ashamed of my poor performance. I was also confused and frustrated, because in a way it seemed like none of it was my fault. Now, in my own words I was taking the blame for everything that had happened. It made no sense, if I didn't believe it, why was I doing it?
Was I really to blame for all the punishments, difficulties and pains I was experiencing? I had thought not before I started writing, but now I wasn't so sure. Apparently, Housekeeper Four was aware of this conflict too.
"Have you been dishonest? Did you mistakenly write what you thought I wanted to hear?" She asked.
I was now in a terrible dilemma. Should I answer yes and admit that I lied and tried to deceive her, or answer no and possibly be found out. But if I answered no, and I really meant it, then surely there was no way she could punish me? Did I really mean it, or was I just lying to save my skin?
"No Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper," I said weakly.
"So, you honestly believe everything you wrote?"
"Yes Housekeeper," I answered.
"I'd like you to read the part about wasting staff time to me again," she ordered.
I began nervously, "When I make mistakes I must be punished. Punishing a stupid maid wastes precious staff time. A good maid should save time for the staff, not waste it. By wasting staff time I have been a bad maid. I need to work harder, and avoid earning punishments, so that I do not waste the staff's time. I need to work harder so that I do not bring punishments on the other maids. I must learn from my punishments and do better in future. I must avoid punishments because when I am punished it is harder for me to avoid additional punishments. When I earn punishments I encourage myself to waste the staff's time and be a bad maid..." I read until Housekeeper Four gestured for me to stop.
"So, you think the punishments you have been given are unfair? You think the tasks you are given are wrong? You think you are given tasks you cannot complete just so you can be punished? You think that your crimes do not merit serious punishment?" Asked the housekeeper.
I flinched. I knew the housekeeper had seen what I had tried to avoid saying. I was in trouble now. There was no easy way out of this. She had seen straight to the heart of my deception.
"Yes Housekeeper," I answered honestly.
"Really? I thought as much. You lack respect for us and for the tasks we set you," she said, pausing.
I waited, terrified. I was paralysed with suspenseful anticipation of her pronouncing yet another awful punishment for my transgressions. She in turn fixed me with her gaze and watched me quiver with fear for what seemed an eternity before continuing.
"You admit that you are a pitiful failure as a maid. Your list of mistakes goes on for many pages. You have wilfully disobeyed orders and endangered others. Don't you agree this is a serious matter?"
"Yes Housekeeper," I said. I wished I could hang my head. My collar wouldn't let me.
"So, this is a serious matter. Do you agree that serious matters deserve serious punishment?"
"Yes Housekeeper," I agreed.
"Remember Twenty Two, smile, be pleasant and respectful at all times," reminded the housekeeper, confusing me. My head was buzzing. I had lost my train of thought.
"So you admit that you deserve serious punishment?"
I didn't know what to say. What had I done that deserved serious punishment? I'd forgotten already, hadn't the housekeeper just told me?
"Sorry Housekeeper," I said, trying to smile, though I wanted to cry.
"Are you confused Twenty Two?"
"Yes Housekeeper," I said. I meant it.
"You put Nineteen in danger of her life when she was trying to help you. How can you be confused about how serious that is?"
"Sorry Housekeeper," I said. Yes, that was what I had done. She was right.
"So, you admit that's a very serious matter. You were deliberately disobedient, you were selfish, and you put someone else in great danger, just so that you could enjoy yourself. That's right isn't it?"
"Yes Housekeeper," I said.
Yes, it did sound bad when she put it that way. I had forgotten how horrible I'd been. Despite my best efforts I started to cry.
"So, tell me what you did wrong, you may speak freely," she said softly.
"I touched my..."
"No! What did you do to Nineteen?"
"Sorry Housekeeper. I disobeyed Nineteen. I was selfish. I put her in danger because I couldn't control my sexual desires. I caused her to be terrified. I caused her to be punished," I wailed. Yes, it was true, that was the sort of person I was. I was filth. If I were in the housekeeper's place I wouldn't waste time on a person like me.
"That's correct Twenty Two. Selfishness is a serious failure. Disobedience is also a very serious failure. So, do you think the punishments you have been awarded are unjustified for your crimes? Crimes you confess are very numerous and severe," said the housekeeper.
I didn't know. I could barely follow her complicated German. How could I tell what punishment was correct when I couldn't even understand what I was told? Clearly, I was no judge of what was right and wrong. I was far too muddled, confused and selfish to know.
"Sorry Housekeeper," I wept.
"So, what do you think? You may speak freely," said the housekeeper.
"I don't know Housekeeper."
"Why don't you know?"
"I'm confused. I'm just a stupid maid. It all seemed... I can't think it through. I just need... I don't understand what is going on. I don't remember things well. I'm too muddled and selfish to decide how I should be punished."
"Yes, that's correct. So who does know? Which people are not confused? Which people know what is going on? Which people remember everything?"
"That must be the staff Housekeeper," I said hopefully.
"Yes, that's correct. You are not fit to judge your punishments. Do you agree?"
"You must never forget that we know what is best for you. We only want to help you be the best person that you can be. Do you agree?"
"You need help. You want us to help you don't you?"
"Good. So, do you realise how silly you were when Number One asked what was wrong?"
"Poor stupid maid. Don't you understand?"
"No Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper," I felt wretched. It was true. I had no idea what I had done wrong. I must be stupid, because there was obviously something important enough for the housekeeper to bring it up now of all times.
"You told Number One that you wanted to suffer Number Nineteen's punishments. In effect, you said you know better than the staff what punishments people should receive. Do you really understand what those punishments amount to?"
"No Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper," I said. I felt so idiotic.
"Do you really know Number Nineteen well enough to say what punishments she should or should not receive? Have you known Number Nineteen long?"
"No Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper,"
"You should be sorry. You were in front of the entire staff telling them what punishments to give to people you don't even know. Do you understand?"
"Yes Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper," I said. They must have thought me so arrogant and conceited. What a fool I was.
"You don't even seem to know yourself. Do you understand yourself Number Twenty Two?"
"No Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper," I said. I knew she was right. How could I be so confused and claim to know myself? I didn't even know what I was saying from one sentence to the next.
"Do you agree that it was self-destructive to ask for additional punishments, that you didn't even begin to grasp the outcome of?"
"Yes Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper."
"You not only presumed to demand how you should be punished, which you now admit to having no understanding of – but you also presumed to know what was right for Nineteen. You told the entire staff that they had made a mistake regarding punishments. Do you understand how ridiculous you were? You were like a child giving orders to her mother. Do you think you should be punished for that sort of presumption?"
How could I answer? Yes, no, either way I was wrong. My head was swimming. I had to reinterpret everything that had happened. Had I misunderstood it all so completely? Had I made an idiot of myself while Number One politely humoured the nonsensical ideas of a muddled imbecile?
"Sorry Housekeeper," I said brokenly.
"So now, do you finally understand how rude you were?"
"Yes Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper."
"Do you still think the punishments we have given you so far are in any way inappropriate?"
"Sorry Housekeeper," I said.
I still felt the answer was no, even though every logical argument I could see said yes. Yet I realised that to answer at all was to make an arrogant presumption. There was no other logical conclusion: this was outside my realm of judgement. For me to think at all about whether a punishment was right or wrong was selfish, arrogant, insolent, stupid, useless and an invitation for punishment in itself.
"So now, do you have some idea of what a bad maid you've been?"
"Do you now agree that you made a very long list of failures, and that you still missed the most important things off it?"
"Do you agree that for you to think about whether a punishment is fair, or unfair, is silly?"
"Do you agree that when you try to make decisions about anything you become confused and act both selfishly and self-destructively?"
"Do you agree that you tried to hide things from me when you wrote these notes for me?"
"What did you hide? You may speak freely."
"I didn't want to admit how effective punishments are at making me try my hardest. I didn't want to receive more punishments, even though I have seen they make me a better maid," I said, knowing I was doomed.
"And what else?"
"I should have said I was arrogant and selfish," I said, sniffling.
"And what else?"
"I should have said I was self-destructive," I wept.
"Remember Twenty Two, pleasant and respectful. There is no need for you to be upset," said the housekeeper in a kindly tone.
"Sorry Housekeeper," I said trying to smile through the tears.
"And what else did you miss out?"
"That I get confused easily," I tried to smile again.
"And what else?" She said again. Would she ever stop?
"Sorry Housekeeper," I pleaded.
"There are three more things I want to hear Twenty Two," she said, her voice growing firmer.
"Sorry Housekeeper. I forgot to write what a stupid maid I am, and how I made a fool of myself in front of the staff," I tried.
"No, you did write that down, but you got confused and have forgotten it twice despite reading it to me," she said in a voice that was understanding but yet firm.
I was running out of ideas. What had she said earlier? I'd already forgotten.
"Sorry Housekeeper: I can't remember things properly," I said.
"Yes, that's something you missed. Your memory isn't very good. I'm surprised you have been able to manage at all in your life without that terrible memory getting you into trouble. Of course, you probably never noticed how much help you were receiving from others ... you probably forgot," said the housekeeper reasonably.
"Sorry Housekeeper," I said.
"So, we agree you sometimes don't remember things the way they really happened?"
"Yes Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper," I said. Was my memory really that bad?
"Can you remember that one thing? Can you remember that you do not always remember things truthfully?"
"Yes Housekeeper," I said. I hoped that I could remember it. What if I couldn't? That would mean I really had a head full of whipped cheese.
"There are just two more things I want to hear Number Twenty Two," she said, unyielding.
Of all my failures as a maid I had no idea what two things she was on about, but something was gnawing at my conscience from the night before. I blurted it out before I could think.
"I wet myself last night when I thought I would be caned," I whimpered.
"Typical. Yes, you lack control, you lack discipline, but most of all you lack courage. You tried to hide that from me, but it's impossible. You cannot even trust yourself to keep a secret from me to protect yourself from punishment. What chance do you suppose that others will lie or withhold information to protect you from the proper and beneficial education you so clearly require?"
"We always find out. Somebody will always notice. You are on camera at all times. We are always watching, and if we do miss something at the time, we will spot it later," explained the housekeeper in a warning tone.
"So do you understand now, what to do when you or another maid does something that requires correction?"
"No Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper," I said.
I really wasn't sure. I suppose it was because I really was a bit slow and easily confused. The Housekeeper seemed to think she'd told me. Had I forgotten what she told me already?
"When you do something that might be wrong, or you see anyone else do something that might be wrong, then you need to inform a member of staff about it as soon as reasonably possible. You should ask permission to tell them what happened and if they allow it, you must tell them absolutely everything. If you don't do this you will be punished both for withholding information from the staff and for whatever wrongdoing took place as well. Do you understand?"
"If you are not directly to blame but you keep a secret to protect someone else, you will be punished worse than if you did it yourself. Do you understand?"
"Remember, you aren't helping someone by keeping a secret, no matter how in your muddled head it might seem you are. When you stop someone being punished you are acting as if you think you know better than the staff. You already know how wrong that is, don't you?"
"Yes Housekeeper," I said. Oh yes, I knew very well now.
"This brings us to your last problem Twenty Two, what is the most important thing you missed from your report?" She said with a hint of growing irritation in her voice.
I was at a total loss. My mind cast about at random. Would I be punished if I gave a wrong answer? Probably. There was no point trying to second-guess the housekeeper, I couldn't even first-guess her. Then a thought popped into my head.
"I am afraid Housekeeper. Sorry Housekeeper," I added, trying to smile.
"Yes. Yes. You are afraid. What are you afraid of?"
"Punishment Housekeeper," I said quickly.
"And why is that?"
"I... Pain? Sorry Housekeeper," I said. I was confused again. I couldn't explain what I feared the most.
"Listen carefully Twenty Two. I have some advice that you must heed. I know you forget things, and sometimes you even remember things that did not happen, but you must remember this," said the housekeeper grimly.
"Yes Housekeeper," I flinched again.
"When you lie, or keep a secret, you are trying to outsmart the staff: endangering everyone's best interests. Not only is that arrogant, selfish, disobedient and offensive, but it is a betrayal of everyone here."
"You are not as clear a thinker as anyone on the staff, in fact you are completely bubble headed. Even if you were a lot more wise and intelligent than you are, you could never hope to outthink the entire staff."
"When you lie, you have to think, and we both agree you are no good at that at all. You know you will be found out. You know you will be punished. Most of all, you know you have betrayed us. When you betray us, you betray yourself. That is why you are afraid."
"Stop telling lies. Stop trying to think of smart ways to 'beat' us. Stop trying to avoid punishments. If you get punishments, it is because you need them. They are to help you. Do not reject our help. Do not fear our help."
"All you have to do is what you are told. As soon as you start thinking how to do what you are supposed to and stop thinking about how to avoid being punished for following your own little plan, life will get a lot easier for you. Do you understand Number Twenty Two? Do you see what you must do?"
"Yes Housekeeper. But I am afraid," I said honestly.
"Of course you are, but you must try very hard. We are all here to help you."
"Yes Housekeeper," I said, my tears seemed to be stopping.
"Stop fighting us, you cannot win. If we want you to receive punishments, you will receive them. It is not your actions but your attitude that is punished. Until you understand what we mean by 'giving your best', you will never manage it," she explained.
I could see the truth in what she was saying. There was no point getting upset over demerits. What mattered was how I accepted my punishments, however ridiculous, handicapping, restrictive or unfair they seemed.
"Remember Twenty Two, pleasant and respectful at all times," she said.
"Yes Housekeeper," I said eagerly.
Now I understood. That had been the secret all along. I had been driving myself mad trying to think around corners and outsmart the whole hotel. I was an idiot, the housekeeper was right. I just needed to keep that good attitude.
If I could remain cheerful and eager no matter what they made me do, eventually they would be satisfied. I might have to endure awful pain before that point. They would make it as hard for me to succeed as they could, but they were doing it out of love, not out of spite.
They just wanted to help me get rid of the shallow, greedy, selfish, spiteful, stupid, arrogant, lazy person that I had always been deep down. Why had I been trying to stop them? I really did want to be purified. I just knew it was going to hurt.
"Thank you Housekeeper," I said with a smile.
"Now, as for this claim that you are a man and unsuited to be a maid: do you really believe it?"
"Yes Housekeeper," I said.
"Silly maid. You aren't really a man. Do you look like a man?"
"No Housekeeper," I said.
"So how can you be a man?"
"I have a... I have a penis, Housekeeper," I said nervously.
"You have a what?"
"A penis Housekeeper," I said again.
"Really. What if you didn't have one? Would you still be a man then?"
"No Housekeeper," I said.
"What if we removed the penis? Would you be a better maid then?"
"No Housekeeper," I said.
"Well, if the penis makes you a man, but removing it doesn't make you a better maid, then your idea that being a man stops you being a good maid must be nonsense. Do you agree?"
"Or would you like the penis removed? Would that help you?"
"No Housekeeper," I said.
"I don't want to hear about it again then," she said.
"Thank you Housekeeper," I said.
"That's better Twenty Two. I am prepared to accept your report on your progress as a maid - conditionally. The demerits you have earned will be carried over to tomorrow. If you do well you may be able to cancel them out with credits. In the meantime you will be allowed to go and serve Nurse Five tonight. I know you are looking forward to it," said the housekeeper with a smile of her own.