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The Queen's Footman

by Charles Lacey

Chapter 3

Poor Prince Albert! He had a hard time of it, those first few years. Other than sitting with the Privy Council, he had no part in Government, and he found this most irksome. To begin with, he was not allowed even to make small domestic changes around the Palace. However, this was the first area in which he made his influence felt, and little by little the old fashioned, and hopelessly inefficient, ways began to be modernized. Apart from anything else, this made for greater comfort all round! More fires were permitted in the winter; or, rather, more fires became possible when the endless protocols regarding their preparation, lighting and maintenance were simplified. Little by little, he began to be permitted to see State papers, and a very shrewd judge of men and of countries he proved to be. In time, the Queen came to rely more and more upon his sensible advice. Would that his judgement had been so good in the case of their children!

Since the change of Government and the consequence – for me – that my lovely Christopher, Lord Rednal, was no longer visiting the Palace, I had no-one to solace my all too scanty leisure hours. I did not waste the time, of course; I was permitted to borrow books from the Library; I re-acquainted myself with the Latin authors to whom my poor father had introduced me, and read some of the fine literature from contemporary writers. And I did have some small adventures of my own. It must have been in 1842 when Prince Ernst of Saxe-Coburg came to stay with his brother and sister-in-law for a month. He brought with him a considerable retinue, among whom was a page-boy a little younger than I. His name was Johannes, but I called him, at his request, Hansi. For some reason, the planning for Prince Ernst's visit had gone awry. The Groom of Chambers had deputed the task to the Groom of the Back Stairs, who had deputed the task to one of the Housekeepers, who had made a considerable muddle of it. The consequence was that Hansi ended up sharing my room and, indeed, my bed. Well, that didn't worry either of us. He was there for a fortnight during which we had to attend upon our respective employers during the day, but the nights were ours, and very good use we made of them.

Hansi was not quite as tall as I, lean and sinewy with the blond hair and bright blue eyes often found in German youths. And although sporting with other boys was as illicit in Rosenau as it was in London, we gained great pleasure from one another's company, not only in bed but during the day as well. He was intelligent and quick-witted, too, which made working with him a pleasure. He had a little English and by the end of his visit I had a little German, though not of a kind that I could use before Prince Albert or the Queen! Such phrases as Lass mich deinen Schwanz halten1 or Dein Arsch ist wunderschön2 might not have been well received by the Queen (who was a fluent German speaker) or either of the Princes.

And it was Hansi who taught me how much pleasure is to be had from stroking and being stroked, caressing and being caressed. His body drove me to distraction and he gave me good reason to believe that mine did the same for him. And it was good that we had time to explore one another, not only our bodies but our minds also. For Hansi was well educated and well read; we found that we enjoyed several of the same Latin authors, Marcus Aurelius and Catullus in particular. We giggled a good deal as we read Catullus' poems expressing love for a boy. Human nature hasn't changed much over the centuries.

I was well settled into my Palace role now, and while the Queen could be demanding, unreasonable and cantankerous, she did care greatly for our welfare. A few of the Palace staff took advantage of her generous and kindly nature and did only such work as they cared to. This made them most unpopular with the more conscientious among us and after Her Majesty asked my advice several of them were told to seek other employment.

By the time of Her Majesty's marriage, I was sixteen: indeed, my sixteenth birthday occurred the day before, and the small celebration was swallowed up in the great one. But I had a visitor: Lord Rednal, my beloved Christopher, called, arriving tactfully at one of the staff entrances, and we spent an agreeable two or three hours together in my bed. He'd learned some new tricks (I didn't ask him where) but the results were most satisfactory. He also gave me a birthday gift: a lovely gold watch with a movement by Breguet of Paris. I have it still, and it keeps excellent time. Whenever I look at it I see his sweet face. But as a general rule we Palace staff were kept furiously busy, and there was little time for dalliance.

Mr Francatelli was the head chef at that time, though he fell out of favour a year or so later and went to be chef at the Reform Club. Great cooks are great artists, of course, and a certain latitude has to be allowed them. When all went well, he could be perfectly charming. But if anything went wrong, the whole Palace staff were left in no doubt. Though English by birth, he was of Italian descent, and had inherited the Italian temperament. He would storm one moment and weep the next, waving his hands above his head the while. As I was not a member of the kitchen staff, I was fairly safe from Francatelli's moods, though if the Queen sent me with a message to him, and it was not to his liking, I could be on the receiving end of one of his explosions. However, he did not perturb me unduly.

But if Francatelli did not pose any great problem, Herr Radmacher did. He was a German sous-chef whose main duty was making the German sweets out of spun sugar. I do him the justice to say that he was superb at this. But he had other, less agreeable, characteristics. In the first place he was, as many of his trade are, grossly fat. He rolled from foot to foot as he moved. He also sweated heavily while he worked and many were the times when I saw his sweat falling onto a dish he was making. Well, I thought, I'm not going to eat it and what the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve over.

As I said above, there were a couple of page boys on the Palace staff, and a part of my own duty was to guide them in theirs. They were pleasant, willing lads, and I must admit that I rather liked the older of the two, Gilbert by name. Indeed, I did toy with the idea of persuading him into my bed, but in the end I did nothing about it as by then I had someone else to keep me company there. But it was the younger boy, Perkins, who came to me in tears one day. He told me that Herr Radmacher had been following him around, fondling him and making the most improper suggestions. As far as possible, Perkins avoided him and kept away from the kitchens, but he had been sent with a message to Radmacher, who had pawed him about and finally thrust a fat, greasy hand into his breeches. Perkins had run from the kitchen and told Gilbert, who brought him to my room.

It was not, of course, my place to interfere in the running of the kitchen, but I felt some sense of responsibility for the younger boys and in the end I went to see Francatelli. The explosion that time was indeed impressive. He sacked Radmacher on the spot. And when Radmacher protested that Francatelli had no right to do so, he threatened to go straight to the Prince Consort. That brought about the desired result and Radmacher was gone by that evening. I did hear that he went to one of the larger hotels in the West End where he did well. After that small victory either of the boys would have done anything for me. But there was no need for me to take advantage of that as I had someone else whom I did indeed come to love very dearly.

This was Alec Cranborne. Major Cranborne, his father, was a soldier who had retired from the regular army and taken a post in the Household; higher in rank than a servant but not so high as an Equerry, though he did eventually become one. He had married some years earlier, but his wife had died of consumption after bearing a son. This was Alec, who had been brought up by his aunt, his father's sister who had come to live with them after Alec's mother had died. By all accounts, she was a bit of a Tartar, and Alec disliked her cordially.

Major Cranborne was very much an English Officer and Gentleman, with, let us say, a very limited emotional range. This stood him in good stead at the Palace, since he was utterly reliable and could be depended upon to keep his head in any emergency. But it did not make him a good and understanding father. So Alec was a complete enigma to him. In Major Cranborne's world boys were unruly, even a little wild; eager to engage in Manly Sports, ready with a little fisticuffs if the occasion called for them, but always chivalrous to girls and women.

Alec was not an enigma to me, though. He was a year younger than I, of medium height with slender build, hands with long, delicate fingers and perfect almond-shaped nails, silken hair which fell straight to his shoulders and the most beautiful face I had ever seen. His manner was delicate and feminine. At his public school he had been relentlessly bullied and teased. Matters had reached a point when he should have returned to Westminster school for a new Half, and had hysterically refused to even step into the coach. His aunt threw up her hands in horror, and tried to cajole him into returning. This produced a further hysterical fit, after which his father, for the first time in his life uncertain what to do, brought him to the Palace in the hope that a change of scene might help, and indeed that he might perhaps be able to assist him in some of his duties. Alec did so, with a fair degree of efficacy. He was an intelligent youth and had a good grasp of order and method.

The Prince Consort had rung for me to come me to his Study to take an urgent message to Major Cranborne. I went to the major's room, knocked and entered. The Major was sitting at his desk, facing me, and Alec was standing beside him with some papers. Alec's eyes met mine, and each of us instantly recognized a kindred spirit. I know that his face broke into an enchanting smile, and I have no doubt that I returned it as much as my inferior rank permitted. As I left I heard him ask, in awestruck tones, "Papa, who was that?"

Well, I had made myself very useful around the Palace, and was, I believe, well regarded among the senior staff. And so the fact that my father had been a country parson, while Alec's Papa was next best thing to an Equerry, with distant connections to a titled family, might have been a bar to our friendship. But the Major was so relieved at having found someone, albeit quite by chance, who could look after his wayward son that he set aside any social difference between us and welcomed me as Alec's particular and confidential friend.

I wasn't surprised that Alec had suffered at his public school. Even in these days, after the benign influence of Doctor Arnold had done away with many of the old vicious ways, the public schools were not places for gentle and sensitive boys. And Alec was both. At first he came across as very quiet and a little dour. But once he had come to know me well and trust me, he opened up as I think he had opened himself to no-one since his mother had died, and I learned much about him, his thoughts and his opinions, his nature and his loves. He was devoted to animals. Even the Queen's dog, Dash, which was a snappish and cross-grained creature, would fawn upon him, and he made friends easily with the various cats which roamed the Palace and kept it relatively free from mice.

With people he was far more reserved. If spoken to, he would respond politely, but he seldom opened a conversation, even with his father. But with me he was frankness itself. He would come to sit with me in the Servants' Hall; if I were off duty he would come to my room. But there was an unspoken tension between us, a tension not of anger or envy, but of love. Like the growing tension in an india-rubber sheet which is being stretched, it had eventually to break, and. break it assuredly did.

Alec had come to my room. He had sustained some slight injury to his knee, and had asked my advice about it. I recommended a cold compress, fetched a handkerchief from my drawer and wrung it out in cold water from the ewer. I bade Alec remove his breeches, and wrapped the compress around the affected joint. It surprised me not a whit to see that he had lovely legs, the skin soft and creamy with not a trace of hair except for the slightest down upon his shins. Looking upward a little, I could see the point at which his legs disappeared into his linen under-drawers, and the gentle swelling in front. Above that, his shirt-frill, his collar and then his beautiful face looking down into mine, the slightest flush upon his delicate cheeks.

No power on earth could have stopped me doing what I did then. Slowly, lingering to make it last as long as possible, I stood up, letting my hands travel over his thighs, then clasping him around the waist, then the chest, finally the shoulders. His arms came around me and we stood still for a moment so long it was as an eternity, our faces close, so close that I could feel his breath upon my chin, but not yet touching. And then his head tilted a little to one side, mine to the other, and our lips brushed as lightly as a feather's touch. It had been some years since I had kissed anyone, and that would have been only my mother and sisters; but neither that nor anything else had prepared me for the torrent of emotion that overcame me. Alec's lips were silken soft, yet firm; as we pressed more together we could feel one another's teeth behind them. Our lips parted and our tongues met, lightly as thistledown at first, then ever more strongly. I became aware of increasing pressure in my breeches as my yard arm stiffened. This happened from time to time, of course, and I had discovered through private exploration that if the tip were repeatedly, but gently, squeezed, the most delightful sensations could result, along with the emission of a few drops of fluid.

But this was a wholly new experience. I had thought about Alec, and fancied how it might be to have him in my bed next to me. But I had never connected those fancies with what was now happening. But I glanced downwards, and observed the most unmistakable tent in the front of his under-drawers. Clearly what was happening to me was happening also to him.

I sat down on my bed, pulling Alec down with me. In a few moments we were lying face to face, still kissing, and I felt his hands moving down towards my bum. They slid in past the waist of my drawers, and then I felt them first stroking my buttocks and then creeping round until they were almost touching my cock.

I'd never felt like this before. Physically I was very excited indeed, but even Christopher had not stirred my emotions like this. I slid my hands up and eased Alec's shirt up over his shoulders. Then, without a word spoken, we both removed our remaining clothes and lay, face to face but a little apart, studying one another. Well, Alec clearly liked what he saw. As for me, I could not take my eyes off him. From his silken hair to his tiny, shapely feet, he was quite simply the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.

And it was not a skin-deep beauty. His face, with its straight nose, rose-petal lips, tenderly dimpled chin and soft, light brown eyes, showed character, intelligence and good humour. Though he was apt to be shy with most people, with me he was frankness itself. I thought, he trusts me; me of all people. The thought terrified me. I knew I must never let him down. His body showed unmistakably that he was eager for pleasure. Well, I thought, I am sure that what will bring me to the peak of enjoyment will do the same for Alec. I took his yard in my hand. It fitted there as if the two members had been made for each other. Alec's arms were around my neck; his breath was coming heavily now, in short gasps. I noticed that his yard was slightly smaller than mine, but the skin on the end a little longer. I squeezed and rubbed gently, as I had learned to do for myself. Suddenly, he went rigid, and he let out a cry of ecstasy. At the same time, I noticed a quantity of white liquid dripping down my hand; some had spurted even to my belly. He produced far more than I ever did.

Alec, sated, lay down on my bed, pulling me down on top of him. I rolled onto my side, taking my weight upon my flank but leaning against him, one arm under his neck and the other flung across his chest. My heart beat rapidly still; I had never known that it was possible to feel like this about another person.

"Thomas," he said, "Can I call you that?"

I nodded.

"Thomas, you know we must never tell anyone about what we did today. Some of the fellows at school do it to one another, but I'd never done it with anyone. I am so glad we met."

"I, too," I replied, with perfect sincerity.

"Can we… can we do it again? In a few days?"

"Yes. Whenever you like."

We lay there, close together, for a good hour, half dozing. I felt one of Alec's hands come up to my head and play with my hair, running some strands between his fingers. Suddenly he said, "I never saw eyes as blue as yours. They are beautiful."

I smiled, and kissed him. I was very glad that he found me beautiful. I just knew that I wanted to stay like this for ever, wrapped around this wondrous boy. But the gong sounded and I would have to be dressed and ready to serve the Queen and the Prince Consort at dinner. Alec had been around the Court long enough to know that this took precedence over everything else. We reluctantly disengaged ourselves, and helped each other to dress.

As a general rule, Equerries and other senior Palace staff ate in their own dining room. I was in attendance upon Her Majesty, of course. During dinner the Prince – who never stopped working; I used to think sometimes that he worked even when asleep – the Prince sent me with a note to Major Cranborne. I delivered it; Alec was at the table a few places away from his father. He gave me a swift, conspiratorial smile.

But I was in a great quandary. As a servant, albeit a valued and trusted one, I was still a good many steps in the social scale below Alec. It was hardly fair to expect him to drop rank. I had been promoted by the Queen and was now a footman, though I sensed that the Queen still like to have me around; she had appreciated that I was competent, reliable and above all discreet. But… I was still only a servant, and even if I were to be promoted through the ranks to something like Groom of the Household, I would still be only a servant.

I should therefore have to rise. I had two fairly good starting points. First of all, my voice, taking after my father, was that of an educated youth. And I had been long enough in the service of the Archbishop, and then about the Court, to have picked up the principles of both Court etiquette and ordinary good manners. And, indeed, when I came to reckon up my material wealth, I was in a very good position for a boy of my age. The Comptroller of the Privy Purse, kindly and scrupulous man that he was, had taken my small salary and my considerably greater income from gifts and tips and invested it wisely, and my income was even now greater than my father's had ever been. Not that I supposed it would make the smallest difference to Alec's feelings for me, but if I were to become at least an independent gentleman, it would, I hoped, make me more acceptable to the Major as a friend for his son. In this I actually did the Major rather less than justice. In his anxiety to find someone of Alec's own age to befriend him, I think he would have welcomed a reasonably presentable scullion. The son of a respectable country parson was quite adequate as far as he was concerned.

Two days after our first intimate encounter, I'd had a busy time running errands, mainly for Prince Albert, who liked things dealt with immediately, unless they required further thought. There had also been a string of mostly unwelcome visitors to the Queen, who was tetchy and demanding in consequence. It was nearly nine o'clock in the evening when I was able to return to my room and take off my uniform and put on a night-shirt. I hadn't bothered with a candle, and the room was dark. When I climbed into my bed, I was more than startled to find someone else in it. My first thought was that in the dark I had come to the wrong room, and you can understand that I jumped out of the bed mighty quick. Then I heard Alec's voice, with its characteristic slow, gentle delivery: "It is I, Alec. Get into bed."

I was too tired to do anything but sleep that night. I heard Alec's voice saying, "poor very weary" before I dropped off with his arms around me. In the morning, however, it was very different. We both woke earlyand found ourselves together in a tangle of limbs. It was wonderful, just the closeness to one another. I ran my hands down Alec's side, and then let them wander behind his back, and down…

His night-shirt had ridden up, leaving his thighs exposed. My hands explored his body, caressing the twin half-moons of his lovely rounded bum. My yard-arm sprang to attention, and his was not slow to follow suit. It took but a moment for us both to remove our night attire, leaving us naked. I could feel the pressure of his yard against my belly; my own rubbed against it, making us both even more excited. His lips met mine and I felt his tongue inside my mouth, caressing my own and exploring. I was concentrating so much upon this that I was scarcely aware that my hips were moving against Alec's. His hands were on my legs now, pushing them apart and stroking the inside of my thighs. Suddenly, within seconds of each other, we both exploded, soaking ourselves, and my bed, with our seed.

But we had very little extra time for dalliance as I had to get out of bed, wash and dress in readiness for the new day. It was not to be a good day. Sir Robert Peel was now the Prime Minister, and First Lord of the Treasury, but the Queen was not reconciled to his being in office. She had thought a great deal of Lord Melbourne, who had been one of her first advisers, and who, indeed, had always given her wise and helpful counsel, and in consequence Sir Robert was held in some disfavour. And so she was in a vile mood, snapping at everyone including the Prince Consort. When Sir Robert arrived at the Palace it fell to me to announce him. Well, I knew the form. Open the door, bow, say "Sir Robert Peel, your Majesty", stand aside to let Sir Robert in, bow, turn, close the door. But before I had got back through the door, I heard her acid tones, "Good day, Sir Robert." I took up my post outside the door, ready to show him out when Her Majesty rang. As he left the Drawing Room, Sir Robert fished a large handkerchief from his pocket and mopped his head with it. Clearly he had not found it an easy meeting. But I took Sir Robert back to his carriage and returned to my post.

My sweet Alec had begun to make himself useful to the Palace staff. While both his rank and his education were far above mine, and so a post such as I held would have been unthinkable for him, he had neat handwriting and a quick mind. Once he felt confident with someone he could be very charming, and he was taken note of by the Comptroller of the Privy Purse. In an informal way, to begin with, he worked in the Comptroller's office, keeping the books and dealing with petty cash and the like. He was of course utterly scrupulous. Indeed, he was the most moral creature I had ever encountered. Had I been a woman, and he my husband, I would have felt not only the greatest love for him, but also complete trust and confidence. And these were indeed the emotions which I did feel, despite our both being boys, and of very different social position.

I have never discovered whether Major Cranborne knew, and approved of, our real relationship, or whether he merely thought of me as a reliable friend for his son. But he was as shrewd and observant a man as ever lived, and I think it probable that he had long understood Alec's true nature and was glad of his having found a discreet and undemanding companion. Be that as it may, he certainly treated me with consideration and courtesy.


1 Let me hold your cock

2 Your arse is beautiful

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