Interactive fanfic going below the cut:
From the pic at https://webspace.utexas.edu/lw385/period/X1899.jpg and the phrase, “Born into a world that clucks it’s tongue in ungentlemanly disapproval of them…” from Lesli’s site ^_^ I got the mental image of Scooter in a straw boater and wondered exactly how… *gothic* I could make such a fanfic foray.
Then I realised that I have next to zero time to write any fanfic, let alone a new one, so I let the plotbunny chew on my nether regions for quite some time.
It can be resisted no longer…
ObInfo: My bits are the only ones that aren’t credited ^_^ Everyone else has their name before their story-post.
Bayville by Gaslight
InterNutter et al.
Millie had heard tales about Professor Xaviers’ establishment. Practically all of Bayville had heard tales. Of how the Professor let a Nigra run the household, and how he gave students of *both* genders as much education as they could take. About how the establishment was - and here, the clucking tongues tisked in scandalous disapproval - *co-educational*! Imagine!
Young gentlemen *and* ladies in the same classroom! With only the teacher as the chaperone!
Fortunately for the sensibilities of Bayville’s matron aunts, Xavier himself was particular about the students he took in. Ergo, not many young ladies had been ruined as of yet. There were even whispers that the man insisted his own staff were educated beyond their proper station.
Millie tried to put all this behind her as she waited and stared at her pinny, whilst the aforementioned Negress examined her papers.
“This all seems to be in order… Millicent, isn’t it?”
“Most call me ‘Millie’, m’m.” Millie bobbed, not looking up.
“May I ask you a question, Millie?”
“How can you be expected to receive instructions from your shoes?”
That made her look up. “M’m?”
“Or, were you expecting, perhaps, to gain insight from the carpet?”
“I… I don’t understand, m’m.”
“And that,” said the Negress, “is why you should look *up*, Millie.”
“…’s not m’ place, m’m,” she managed, gaze drifting down again. “Didn’t want to seem above m’ station, m’m.”
“And *do* stop that bobbing, you’re making me seasick.”
“Yes’m.” Millie bobbed again, and blushed. _Damn. I’m doomed._ “I’ll… just let myself out, m’m…”
“My dear… who ever said you weren’t hired?”
“Professor Xavier will be quite pleased with you, Millie. Once you learn to keep your head *up* and stop that infernal obeissance.”
“Curtseying, dear. Follow me.”
Millie swallowed, picked up her carpet bag, and stepped smartly into the lion’s den.
 In historical context, this is a legitimate term for someone of african descent.
 Educating women was said to 'ruin’ them for the prospects of future matrimony.
 Pinafore - an article of clothing something like an apron with frilly bits.
“Logan,this is the new maid,Millie,"said the Negress."Millie,this is Mr. Logan,one of the teachers here.Do not fear,he is not as scary as he looks.” Millie curtseyed again and kept her eyes on the floor. Mr. Logan grumphed out a 'hello’ and went back to cleaning a musket. Millie shivered a little involuntarily, remembering how her older brother had always threatened to shoot her as soon as their father allowed him to use the gun. Neither Mr. Logan nor the Negress noticed.
“Come along now,Millie,” said the Negress, dispelling Millie’s daydreams. “You must be introduced to Professor Xavier and the students.”
“Yes, m’m.” Her attention was attracted by a loud noise-a girl tumbling from…the wall?
“Ororo! Ororo! I-I’ve started and I don’t have any-” she paused suddenly, noticing Millie keel over in a dead faint.
 Yep, Kitty jumps in head over heels! Or should that be tumbles in?
 She means she’s started her period.
The first thing Millie was aware of, after the insistant odour of the smelling salts, was the ticking of a clock and the prickling of horsehair niggling through her stockings.
“Welcome back, miss Jones.”
Millie opened her eyes to see a pleasantly smiling elder gentleman without a single whisp of hair on his head… save for the eyebrows, which seemed to be trying to compensate. “Uhm…” she blushed, scrambling off the sofa to bob and blush at the floor. “…’m terribly sorry, sir. Beggin’ y'r pardon, sir.”
“You *had* fainted, miss Jones,” said the man. “It’s hardly your fault that you then needed a place to recover.”
“But… the girl…” said Millie.
Xavier raised an eyebrow. “What about the girl?”
“She…” a moment of fogginess. “She must’ve startled me…” Millie blushed. “I’m not in the habit of fainting, sir.”
“There are a great many startling things here at my institute,” he said, leaning back in his chair. A creak of wickerwork issued from the blanket behind him. He reached down and moved something.
The chair glided back on wheels.
“Yes. I am the infamous, infirm Professor Xavier.” He smiled as he manoeuvred around to his desk. “And though the traditional basket chair has comfort to its merit, I much prefer a certain level of independance. You *can* close your mouth, miss Jones.”
Millie blinked. Then she closed her mouth. “Sorry for the impertinence, sir. I didn’t mean–”
“I know.” He busied himself with the papers, then sighed. “Yes. All in order. Though there is one final requirement.”
“Since you are illiterate–”
Hot blood rushed to her face. “I *beg* your pardon, sir! Me mom and dad were married good and proper 'ere I was born. Well *before*!”
“I *meant*, miss Jones, that you are unfamilliar with reading and writing. The gentle art of literacy.” His correction had no trace of ire nor exasperation. In fact, he hadn’t spoken down to her at all during the entire interview. “In lieu of your signiature on an official document that you cannot be expected to read, miss Jones, I will accept a solemn vow.”
“Do you vow, by everything you hold sacred and dear to you, that you will not breathe a word about the - startling… goings-on inside this establishment to anyone *outside* this establishment?”
Millie had the sudden sensation of dangling over a very deep pit. Her whole future depended on her honest answer. And with her parents gone and brother imprisoned - what choice did she have? “I don’t got no-one to talk to, sir, but… I do so swear.”
“Excellent. Your lessons will commence in the evenings, when the students are attending to their independant work.”
“I do expect a modicum of education in my staff. Since it’s rather difficult to find, I’m somewhat open to -ah- manufacture.” His eyes twinkled in merriment. “Alas, that does tend to lead to other establishments purloining my staff with better offers… but I digress. Breakfast is to be laid on the tables before six, luncheon at noon, dinner at seven. You may clean any room that is not behind a locked door as a general rule… though it would be wise to remain clear or Mr Logan’s suite, the basements, and the west wood.”
“Yessir,” Millie said to the carpet, curtseying.
“My students have their own unique… *quirks*, miss Jones. Some may strike you as unusual, whilst others may seem initially disturbing. Rest assured that these… quirks are not in any way harmful. Should you find anything worrisome, please discuss it with me at your earliest convenience.”
“The carpet is never going to talk to you. Do try and meet people in the eye.”
“Ororo will educate you in the uses of some of our domestic equipment, and then you must prepare a room.”
“A room, sir?”
“I’ll be bringing a new student in this evening. He should be arriving by steamer shortly before dinner.”
“There’s no reason to be afraid,” said the Professor. “We’re doing everything in our power to ensure that you will be perfectly safe.”
Now *why* did he have to go and say *that*?
The Negress - Millie assumed she was the 'Ororo’ the Professor had spoken of, quickly swept her up again in her wake. Instructions were rapid-fire and helped only by swift movements of the woman’s arms. Millie learned quickly to watch those brown, pointing fingers rather than her feet and the hem of her dress.
“Here’s your quarters and your personal key. That, and the key to the front door are the only keys you will obtain. Do not attempt to use them on any other door. A closed door must be knocked before entering. Partially ajar,” here, she demonstrated the position. A bare finger’s width of air stood between the door and its jamb, “indicates that, though privacy is desired, interruptions will be tolerated. An open door is free to enter without comment. No matter how disturbing the sounds coming from Mr Logan’s quarters - especially at night - you must *not* go anywhere near them.”
“Are the rumours true, m’m?”
“The rumours… that there’s a werewolf here.”
Ororo tisked and rolled her eyes. “Honestly. Werewolves…” she scoffed. “Mr Logan simply has a troublesome past and some - finely honed responses. Sometimes, he acts without thinking. For that reason, and that reason only, it is particularly unwise to disturb his nightmares.” Ororo walked briskly onwards. “You can summon the elevator by pressing *this* button. Always ensure that *both* doors are closed, whether entering or leaving the machine. Leaving a door open will cause the elevator to cease functioning, and thus *irritate* the Professor. Through *this* door are the stairs to the laundry and washing engine. It is the only room in the basements that you are permitted to enter.” Ororo closed it again. “Operation of the elevator is simple. One enters, closes the doors securely, and either pulls or pushes *this* lever, *so*… to begin motion upwards or downwards.”
The cage moved and distant machinery grumbled.
Millie quailed. “If it’s all the same, I think I’d prefer the stairs, m’m.”
Ororo smirked. “They all say that at the start.”
 Comic side-fling. Early Xavier had some funky, funky eyebrows…
 It’d be homework, but this time, Xavier’s is a boarding school. Public education was almost unknown back then.
Kitty left the bathroom and almost ran Rogue over. “Sorry!”
“Watch it, Pryde.” Rogue twisted away at the last moment. “What’s got you so excited?”
“The new staff member. I hope she’s more like Ororo than Logan…”
“It won’t matter,” said Rogue as she moved into the bathroom herself. “I heard Xavier and Ororo talking. She’s a maid, not a teacher.”
“Oh.” Kitty shrugged. “I hope she stays. I kind of… startled her.”
Rogue only sighed.
Millie had another question. “Beggin your pardon, miss… is it true that, at this school, they have, er…”
Ororo simply paused and waited for the question.
“Classes that are… co-educational?”
Ororo mentally groaned. “Yes.”
“Won’t that… ruin them?”
Ororo sighed. “Studying with the Professor has helped me earn a doctorate,” she said. “And in the process of earning that doctorate, I’ve studied anatomy. I can definitively tell you that there is not much difference between the brains of men, women, and women with an education. The only difference is in the minds of those *viewing* women with an education. Frankly, if a man is so frightened by the idea of a female knowing a few things, he doesn’t *deserve* the companionship.” She smiled as the elevator came to a halt. “Besides which, you’ll also be learning to defend yourself should one decide to force the issue.”
Millie bolted from the metal cage. She managed to recover a more proper pace and decorum within a few seconds. “But no real gentleman would…” she trailed off, remembering her brother.
“I see you know a few gentlemen who *aren’t* gentlemen,” said Ororo. “Preparedness is essential, Millie. You *will* be prepared.”
“And don’t for a minute think that you are weak because you are female. Women regularly lift pounds of wet washing, irons, kettles, and so forth. This is equivalent to weight training for a strong-man. We’re stronger than men would have us believe.”
The very thought emptied her head of rational thought. Left with nothing to say, she simply said, “Yes’m.”
“The Professor takes breakfast in his suite,” Ororo opened the relavent door, revealing a neat chamber lined with books. Only the presence of a chain dangling above the bed gave Millie any indication that the man was infirm. “Lay the tray *here*, the day’s blanket *here*, and remember at all times that the Professor prefers to be independant of aid. Do not condescend; rather wait for a request.”
Ororo swept her out of her room, closing the door behind them. “The rest of the adults - Mr Logan, Dr McCoy and I - can fend for ourselves. This is Mr Logan’s room,” she indicated a door rent with three long slashes, and tisked. “It seems Mr Logan owes another door…”
“M’m?” Millie squeaked.
“Don’t concern yourself,” Ororo breezed onwards. “Dr. McCoy’s room will be easy to maintain, since he rarely spends any time *in* there.” She tested the doorknob and found the portal locked. “He usually occupies himself with the calculating engine in the basement. You won’t be meeting him for a while.”
“Um… might I ask why, m’m?”
“It’s one of his quirks,” she said, sweeping onwards. “He’s somewhat sensitive about his appearance and thus, tends not to display it to strangers. My quarters are in the loft. When you go there, pray don’t disturb my plants.”
Visions of an amazonian jungle in the loft made Millie decide to avoid the loft for as long as humanly possible.
“Young Mr Summers is very particular about the layout of his room,” she said. “When seeing to its upkeep, you must not disturb any furniture and take care to leave his things as you found them. You may take soiled laundry, and any trash you might find, but the remainder is to be left as it is found.”
The room she glimpsed was scarily pristine. Desolate and empty.
Another room. Tastefully appointed and slightly dusty. “These rooms will be assigned to young Mr Wagner,” she took care to pronounce it as the Germans did. “Further instructions will have to await his arrival, of course.”
Together, they aired the room and drove the dust from the furniture. The balcony showed a pretty view of the west wood and glimpses of the bay that gave her town its name.
“Do you think he speaks much English?” Millie asked, quite forgetting that the woman keeping pace with her in housekeeping had earned a doctorate.
“I know he speaks several languages. German, of course. Then English, French, Rom, Swiss, some Russian, something called 'Halbespferd’… and -uh- what was the phrase? Ah yes. Enough Spanish to swear in.”
Millie giggled at the idea. “He must be very clever to know so many, m’m.”
“Hardly. Europe is a place where one must know several languages if one expects to travel. Us Americans are rather spoiled by the idea of journeying from one coast to the next and still speaking the same tongue.”
Finished with the room, Ororo took her to the other wing, where the girls resided. “Always announce your presence,” she said. “Lest you startle - or be startled by - the residents. Our students are currently engaged in calisthenics in the gym–”
“Of course together. One gym. One fitness teacher. Why *not* one class?”
“But… there could be…” she blushed. “Goings on.”
“Not anywhere near Mr Logan,” Ororo assured. “He makes a singularly convincing argument towards increased restraint and control.”
Millie thought of the musket, and the rough slashes in his door. One certainly could not feel amorous with someone like *that* walking around loose.
“No food or drinks allowed in the rooms unless a student is feeling ill. You will find the linen cupboard for each section at the end of the hall.” The clocks chimed. “And now, I believe it is time to prepare dinner.” She tilted her head as if listening to something. “A large dinner.”
 Pre-adamantium, Logan’s claws are bone.
Millie gasped in amazement as she entered the kitchen. She had never seen so many pots, pans, and cooking utensils. “Everything you need to cook is in here. The foodstuffs are in the pantry on your right. When all of the students are here, you should make a very, very large meal. Every night there will be one or two girls helping you to make dinner,” Ororo said, rattling off every thing she thought the new maid would need to know. “Do you understand everything I have just told you?”
“Good,” Ororo said as she turned to leave the room. She stopped suddenly and turned back, “By the way, you should be sure to keep a close eye on whatever young Kitty is cooking; she tends to mess things up. Now you should go ahead and get started; dinner takes a long time to prepare here.”
Millie began to go through the dinner food. After all, knowing what was there was essential to using it in a recipie.
Millie’s eyes widened. The professor must have been rich, not many people in town could afford such quantities of food without it all being gruel…
She began to organize the pots and pans for easy access, and thought of cooking chicken that night. She was leaning into a cabinet to check some of the seasonings when she heard a door open behind her.
She turned and bowed. “Hello miss…”
“Gray. Jean Gray.” The redhead smiled. “You don’t need to bow.” Behind her a gentleman entered. “And this is Scott Summers.”
Scott was grinning awkwardly at Jean. “Thanks for saving my butt during the–” he shut up at her glare, then noticed Millie. “Ooh. Um, in the weight room, when you spotted for me… ?”
Millie’s eyebrows rose. Yes, Ororo had just told her that the girls were trained the same as the boys, but… it was different to here a boy talk to a girl and sound almost as if they had been lifting weights together.
Jean blushed. “No problem.”
And then, scandalizing Millie, Scott gave Jean a quick peck on the cheek. “See you later.” He left.
Millie watched, stunned. Had Summers just kissed Gray? In public?
The docks were still wreathed in plumes of grey-black smoke from the steamer’s chimneys, and those waiting on them choked delicately on the down-drifting fumes. The entire area smelled of the indelicate aroma unique to a sea-port. That unsubtle scent of sea-offal, gull guano, oil, coal and their byproducts, tar, sweat and the faint traces of second-hand rum.
A blond boy carried his own valise down the gangplank, staring in faint disapproval at the figure Xavier made with his associate Logan by his side.
“Not him?” guessed Logan.
“No. That’s not Kurt.”
The boy met with his father and hurried as far away as he could possibly get from the associated stigma of Xavier and his revolutionary school.
A darker figure, more hunched and covert, appeared against the sky like a dark blot. His movements were cautious, yet graceful… and he was completely covered from head to foot in an encompassing robe.
“*That* is Kurt,” announced Xavier.
The steamer trunk he bore announced on its prominent side the wonders and miracles of the Circus Gelhaar, as well as bearing some remnant indications of past destinations. France, Switzerland, Spain… and a number of small principalities in the vicinity of Germany.
Logan took it without comment and strapped it to the rear of the horseless carriage they’d taken to the docks.
Kurt whistled. “Impressive ride, mein herr. I’ve never seen a real one before.” The folds of his coat’s arms twitched before he forced himself to stay still. “How do you steer it?”
“Logan will drive,” said Xavier. “I’m sure he’ll be glad to answer *all* questions you might have.”
That earned him a baleful glare from Logan.
“Curiosity is not only to be expected, but rewarded,” Xavier reminded the man. “I am, after all, running a school.”
“Is it true?” Kurt begged on his way into the carriage. “There are really others like me there?”
“Others, yes,” said Xavier. “Although… 'like you’… I hesitate to be that - generic.”
The figure in the cloak deflated. “Ah. I know to keep myself hidden, then.” He sighed. “Again.”
 Movie fling.
“Kurt,” Professor Xavier started, “you do not have to keep yourself hidden from the other students, nor the staff members. You will be attending the school just like everyone else and they will just have to get used to you. You are…”
“Going to scare them all the same, mein Herr. Please pardon my interruption, but I have experienced how people react to someone like me,” Kurt stated with a sad tinge to his voice. Xavier got a flash of fear and fire licking at his skin and shuddered at the thought.
Dinner had been… an experience. Though everyone present at the table had been more than well-mannered, the conversations had been - stilted. Millie began to get the very intense feeling that half of everything anyone at the Institute had to say to one another was concealed in code. The other half was simply not to be revealed.
At least, not to Millie, and not yet.
Her personal word might be enough for Professor Xavier to trust her, but the others didn’t know her, yet. And there was one more coming.
Millie swallowed nervously as he appeared behind Xavier towards the end of the meal.
“Students. Staff. I’d like you to meet Kurt Wagner. He’s just arrived from Germany.”
Kurt Wagner’s stomag growled like a savage beast.
“Ach… Entschuldigung… Excuse me. I think my stomach has its land legs back. Er… may I?”
Millie bobbed him into a seat and passed him an amazing array of foodstuffs. All of which vanished into the hood at phenominal speed.
Millie had never seen such an appetite. Then again, she’d never seen anyone eat whilst completely swathed in clothing, either. The new boy - Kurt - neither removed a mitten nor swept back his hood during the entire process.
He was fast and efficient, building the next forkful as the previous one was being processed in his mouth. He made no conversation beyond polite requests for a dish to be passed, or for his glass to be refilled.
Even the napkin, lifted gently to his mouth when he at last finished his marathon feast, refused to help reveal the slightest part of him. Where a normal person would tilt their head back, he leaned forward, thus obscuring his features with hood and hair.
It might have been the light, but - Millie could have sworn that his hair was… *indigo*.
There was something of a conversation from him at last as she escorted him, his bags, and the Professor up to the dormatory floor in the unnerving elevating cage contraption.
“You’re not dressed like the other students,” he said.
“No, sir. I’m a maid.”
“Was? But you’re younger than–”
“Have no fear, Kurt. Millie will also be receiving an education in her free time.”
“I’m still going to have trouble,” said the hooded German. “She reminds me too much of my sisters.”
He fell silent, thereafter, through the tour of his room. Millie put down his luggage, turned down his bed, and drew the curtains before asking, “Would you like me to unpack?”
“Nein. Danke. I can see to myself from here on.” He ushered her gently from the room and, once she and the Professor were beyond the threshhold, shut and locked his door.
There had been something strange about his walk… as if there were more than two legs under the fall of that encompassing robe.
After Kurt was settled in, Xavier and Logan retired to the lounge. Millie was sent off to clean a chamber that would serve as another training room.
Logan lit a cigarette. “This was a bad idea, Chuck.”
“I assume you are refering to the hiring of the maid?”
“You bet I am.” Logan paced. “There’s nothing she does that we can’t get the students to do, and the first time she sees something strange she’ll be running back to town.”
“I don’t think so. Millie is… unenlightened, but I think she is a decent person. She can come around, and eventually she may be ready to know.”
“You’re too trusting, Chuck,” Logan said. “If you’re wrong–”
“No one will believe her, and we need but wipe her memory and find a new maid.”
“Except everyone in town’s afraid of us, 'cause we actually teach girls together with boys,” said Logan. “If our maid suddenly vanishes, or loses her memory of what happened–”
Xavier only said, “Please trust me, Logan. I have every confidence things will work out.”
He uttered those fatal words a mere handful of seconds before the scream. It was a solid scream, involving the whole capacity of the lady in question’s lungs, not to mention the full capacity of her volume and loudest possible pitch. It was followed by a muffled thud.
By the time anyone arrived at the scene, all they found was Rogue, laid out comfortably on the floor with a cushion under her head.
She was opposite the hall from the door of the new student, and the air smelled distinctly of sulphur.
Logan rattled the locked door, then pounded on it. “You in there!”
“Kurt,” supplied the soft voice within.
“You see what made 'er faint?”
A pause. “No. I did not see it, mein Herr. I did make her comfortable, though.” A sigh. “I’m sorry.”
Millie, amongst the crowd, knelt and made to pat the young woman’s face to rouse her.
A dark brown hand stopped her. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
The young man responsible was another negro, dressed like the other students in an indigo uniform. He kept his hair cropped close to his scalp, but otherwise had a pleasant demeanor.
Millie didn’t know whether to address him as a superior, an equal, or as someone of a lower station.
The negro boy smiled. “She has a skin condition. It’s very bad for you to touch her.”
It was then that she recalled the presence of a physician. “Should I fetch Dr McCoy?”
A sudden look of fright. “No. That’s a worse idea. We’ll take care of it. I mean her. We’ll take care of this ourselves. No need to disturb Dr McCoy’s… uh… calculations.”
Millie felt a strange chill.
What *were* these people hiding?
 Some fanficcers have theorized that Spyke’s hairstyle is that way to avoid trouble with his bone projections. This way, I’m leaving room for that theory.
 Three cheers for racism and strict social heirarchies.