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“Oh, honey, I am so nervous about this!”
“There is nothing to be worried about, every bride is assessed. My mom was, your mom was. Every married woman is assessed.”
“But my mom died so early. I feel like I don’t know enough or that my domestic skills aren’t up to snuff.”
“You had Mrs. Fields, that neighbor woman who took you under her wing. You’ll do fine!”
“I really hope you are right, honey!”
“What’s the worst that could happen?”
“We both know that, husband. If I fail my assessment, the assessor can dissolve our marriage!”
“That WON’T happen baby, you’ll do great!”
“That’s easy for you to say, you don’t have to spend an entire week with the assessor.”
‘Appraisals take time, love. Do everything the assessor says to the best of your abilities and you will do fine!”
“Oh, honey, I’d give anything to have your confidence.”
“Shush, darling and kiss me.” And that is just what the pretty blonde wife did. She and her tall and dark sawmill worker exchanged kisses for a long time before he swept her up in his arms and toted her to the bedroom. Their subsequent lovemaking was very sweet indeed. Samuel always made Mae feel like a queen and she tingled from their lovemaking for a long time.
The next morning, the wife of only a year, was in the stagecoach being transported three towns over. Brides were never assessed in their hometowns for a myriad of reasons. She fondled her travel pass; made sure her identification was in proper order before adjusting her bonnet. On the knee of her ankle length dress she balanced her copy of “The Bride’s Guide to Assessment.” Frankly, the book only exasperated her sense of ill ease. There was so much it didn’t reveal! Her town was so small, that it had no assessors, so Mae had never encountered the process first-hand. Never the most confident of women, Mae was convinced she was doomed to failure. Even now, in her head, she could hear the assessor informing her that she had failed. To be parted from Samuel! To be sent to a remedial wife center and then to be assigned to a new man, one willing to take her despite her earlier domestic and emotional failures! No! Her and Samuel’s love was too strong and too pure to fall to capricious fate. Mae would do all she could. As the book advised, “Obey your assessor implicitly!” She would take that dictum to heart.
May turned her attention from the book to the view out the window. Only once had she been this far from home and that was when she was a young girl and could not appreciate it fully. The landscape was beautiful, well-tended farms beneath wooded hills. The stage arrived at the town closest to her own. As the horses were exchanged, Mae went into the station to use the necessary. She hurried back to her seat as fast as she could. Failing to show up at the assessor’s house promptly was a sure recipe for failure!
Other passengers entered the stage. There was a salesman with a sample case who winked at May. A soldier on furlough who’s stares in Mae’s direction made her uncomfortable. There was also another woman carrying a travel pass and the “Bride’s Guide.” “Surely, it not her first assessment?” thought Mae.
She broached the subject with the attractive, redhaired older woman.
“Tenth-year assessment, darling. This is my third go-around. It should be a piece of cake, provided my assessor is not a jerk!”
“This is my first time,” confessed Mae.
“You didn’t have to tell me, it’s blindingly obvious! I was as nervous as you are my first time as well. The first assessment is the hardest, but you will learn so much about yourself and how to please a man, that you will remember it all your days.”
“But what if I fail?”
The redhead laughed, “How are your cooking and baking skills?”
“Do you follow instructions easily?”
“Most of the time.”
“Do you love your husband to the point that you would do anything to keep him?”
The redhead smiled at Mae and said, “You’ll do fine then, girl!”
Mae suddenly felt much better. She really paid attention when the stage arrived at its second destination. This town was larger than her own. It looked like it had TWO opera houses in the downtown square! The local bank was a much more imposing edifice than the one she and Samuel were patrons of at home. She knew her final destination would be in a town even larger; she could scarce imagine so large a metropolis!
Certainly, it was large. The scale of her final destination was almost overwhelming. When Mae arrived at the station a message from the assessor was waiting for her. The young bride’s first task would be following the map and making her way through the warren of streets to the assessor’s home. Mae studied the map carefully. It looked less intimidating the more she pored over it. After a moment of panic in the unfamiliar streets, she bore down. Following the map and its plain instructions to the letter, she found herself, after a three-quarters-of-an-hour trek, bahis firmaları in front of a handsome edifice. The charming house was surrounded by a low white fence. Trying to stifle her nerves, Mae opened the gate and strode up to the front door and rang the bell.
A moment later, a dark, attractive middle-aged man stood in the open doorway.
“Assessor, Reynolds? I am Mae Stevens.”
“Ah yes, the bride of one year! You are right on time. Enter.”
Mae stepped into the house which she found neat and tidy and well furnished.
“I must check your ID, Mrs. Stevens. Please hand me your papers and place your right hand on this fingerprint reader.”
Mae did as the assessor asked. How hard could this first test be? She knew who she was and who would masquerade as her? He carefully checked her picture and her fingerprints on the card with those on the reader. Only after he was satisfied that Mae was the genuine article did he address her once more.
“Very good, Mrs. Stevens, May I call you Mae?”
“Very good. Shall we begin, Mae?”
The pretty blonde nodded.
The assessor presented her with a box. “This contains your assessment attire. I shall leave the room for fifteen minutes. Take out the contents of this box, then take off everything you are wearing and fold it neatly in the empty box. After that, put on your assessment attire. I will come in and inspect you when the fifteen minutes are up whether you are fully dressed or not. Is that clear?”
The tall handsome man strode out of the room. Mae watched him leave then froze for a moment before she chastened herself for dawdling and opened the box. Inside was lovely rose-patterned fabric but the dress itself was incredibly short! “Why this will expose nearly the entirety of my legs!” she said in shock. Still, she saw no possibility that this was some sort of cruel joke. She removed the rest of the contents of the box and then proceeded to divest herself of her clothing. Off came the sunbonnet. Her feet came out of the ankle-high shoes. She began to unbutton the long dress. For a moment she stood there in her underwear, corset, and stockings. She unhooked the stockings from her garter and rolled them down and off her exquisitely turned legs. She froze for a long moment. The next move meant partial nudity and then full nudity! She unlaced her front opening corset, freeing her prodigious bust. Gasping for air, she quickly stepped out of her step-ins and garter belt. For a moment she stood there, a blonde vision of loveliness while she sorted through the unfamiliar assessment clothes. Mae was one of those women unaware of their own beauty. Oh, she knew she was pretty, but she did not see what others saw in her. The nude woman was beyond stunning. Her golden hair was long and straight, her face, which could have come off a china doll was worthy of a great master’s portrait, with brilliant blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and carmine lips. Her long neck gave way to graceful collar bones and an ample bust. Each breast was surmounted by a light brown areola and a chance pink nipple. Her ribs flared to a narrow waist and long, graceful legs, the blonde thatch of womanhood, demonstrated that she came by her blonde locks naturally. Her feet were small and dainty with high arches and pretty little toes. Mae gasped for air before proceeding.
On went the lacy step-ins. On went the lacy bandeau. On went the dress. Seeing it fall only to mid-thigh once again shocked Mae, perhaps worse than that, it was ridiculously tight, fitting her torso almost like a second skin. Lastly, she stepped into the white kid boots. There was also a straw hat which Mae supposed was protection from the sun when she was out of doors. Mae shivered at that thought. To be seen in public in something so revealing, it just wasn’t decent! Mae thought some more the assessor had told her to remove everything. Mae assumed that meant the many pins in her hair. Just as she had chased the last one down and her straw-yellow hair fell to the middle of her back, the assessor returned.
“My, aren’t you a pretty one!” he said enthusiastically before ordering Mae to come to attention.
He paced a circle around Mae several times. She felt extremely uncomfortable with so much of her exposed.
“I see that you did not follow my instructions to the letter, Mae,” he said while gesturing to the large gold ring on the third finger of her left hand.
Mae’s eyes grew large and imploring.
“If you fail your assessment Mae, your wedding ring will be melted down to pay your passage to the nearest remedial wife school. While you must surrender it now, it WILL be returned to you once your assessment is completed; provided of course that you pass.”
He extended his right palm towards Mae who swallowed heavily and, with tears in her eyes, twisted off the ring that had not left her hand since her wedding day. She emitted a soft sob when she saw the assessor’s fingers grasp it, hiding it from view. He placed kaçak iddaa it atop her clothes in the box which he then picked up. He left the rattled Mae alone in the front room while he took all her worldly possessions and secreted them somewhere else in his large house. A moment later her returned.
“Your first test is rather easy Mae. Follow me to the kitchen, there you are to make a pot of tea and warm and butter the scones provided; then we will sit down for an interview.”
Mae suddenly felt much lighter. Certainly, she could pass that test!
Mae felt in her element as she brewed a fine pot of tea and warmed the scones in the oven.
She sat across from the assessor and he began speaking in a kind, pleasant voice.
“First off Mae, we should go over why wives are assessed. The government taxes real income and rewards “personal comfort” income. One can diminish the other. In other words, the amount of tax your husband pays on his gold earnings is reduced by various factors if he has personal comforts that are first-rate. In simple terms, the higher a wife is assessed the lower her spouse’s tax burden. Wives are assessed after one year, five years, ten, fifteen, and twenty years of marriage. The government has standards for what is expected of a wife, in the kitchen, in the home, in the market, and in the bedroom. Failure to meet government standards means that a wife is not up to snuff and her marriage was in error. If that should happen to you, your marriage would be dissolved, and you would be sent to the nearest wife reeducation school. After a year there being drilled and refined, you will be offered in marriage once more, though you will have no say in who your husband will be. If you fail, you could be assessed twice in three years, depending on how quickly you are remarried.
The government believes that wives are a bulwark of the state and that the tax burden on its citizens should be light.”
Mae nodded before asking nervously, “How often does a wife fail her assessment?”
“That is classified information. In any case, you won’t receive your confidential rating until the final day you spend with me although you will be tested each day. This tea is delicious by the way.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Wife assessing is a long and honored tradition in our country. Husbands are happy to have their tax burden eased and wives find comfort in knowing that they are a boon to their husbands and to society. It works very well, almost never does a wife fail assessment a second time.”
“I wish the “Bride’s Guide to Assessment” was clearer on the whole process.”
“Assessment is best experienced first-hand and not learned from a book, therefore the text all brides are issued is intentionally vague.”
“I was quite surprised by this outfit, for example,” said Mae as she indicated the tight, short dress.
“I have to see how you move and get a general estimate of your health. I can’t do that with you veiled neck to ankle.”
“I may as well tell you now, Mae that I will be seeing all of you eventually.”
Mae’s face donned a shocked expression before she replied, “I don’t think my husband would like that!”
“He would dislike you not going home to him far more”
“What do you mean?”
“Lack of cooperation on a bride’s part is a sure way to fail. I am responsible for you for the next week. Until your time with me concludes, I am in charge of you and you are under my full authority. For the next week, I have all the rights and privileges of a husband.”
“Oh, my heavens!” exclaimed Mae.
“I MUST have a completely accurate assessment of you, Mae otherwise your time spent with me is meaningless.
“I vowed to be faithful to my husband!”
“You no doubt recall the phrase in your vows to “Obey all the laws of the land as they pertain to marriage.”
“Of course, but I thought those mean husbands only having one wife and to not beat their one wife and so forth.”
“As with every contract, Mae you have to examine the fine print.”
“That’s disgusting! You’re disgusting!”
“Insulting me is NOT a good idea, Mae. Bride assessment has been the law of the land for several centuries now. Surely your mother told you what to expect?”
“My mother passed away when I was twelve and the woman that took me under her wing after she died, refused to talk about assessment in any way. And it’s not a thing a father discusses with his daughter.”
“I’m truly sorry for your loss, Mae, but ignorance of the law is not an excuse for escaping it. Is that clear?”
There were tears in Mae’s eyes, but she nodded in the affirmative.
“Good, now I’m going to ask you to calm down. I have to take a detailed interview. This is going to cover your personal history, your marital history, and intimacy issues.”
He placed a Holy Book before Mae. “You are going to take an oath to be as honest as you possibly can. Remember, the Maker and Redeemer are watching.”
Mae placed her right hand on kaçak bahis the Book, raised her left and repeated the oath.
For the next several hours Mae answered questions that ranged from the deeply personal to the most mundane while the assessor checked boxes and made notes on a huge sheaf of papers. There was something to the manner of the assessor though, the more he spoke, the more he probed, the more Mae found herself opening up to him. When the questions began focusing upon her bedroom activities with Samuel, she answered every one without reservation, even the question as to how often and with what methods did, she stimulate herself!
“Very good Mae,” said the assessor at last. “As you can tell it is now early evening. Your next task is, using only the items you find in the pantry and the icebox, create an outstanding meal for two. You have three hours beginning NOW!”
Mae snapped out of her interview reverie and hustled to see what was available. She found a little beef, potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, an assortment of spices, tinned fish and flour and yeast. She quickly realized she had all the ingredients for an excellent meat pie. Looking further she found all the pans and utensils she would need. She gathered up the apron from its hook by the stove and plunged into work. This she could do! As to the assessors having the rights of a husband…well, she wouldn’t think of that now!
She had always loved the kitchen, ever since she was a small girl and could first help her mother. She had learned a great deal from her mother before her early death from cancer. Mae’s mother was prepared for the end however, she had sought out a tutor for her only daughter, Mrs. Fields, an elderly but reliable neighbor was more than happy to finish polishing Mae’s domestic skills. The slim blonde woman had learned much from the gray-haired matronly woman. She could now sew, bake, and cook almost without peer, but there were so many things that the older woman would not or could not provide Mae. When she became interested in boys, for example, she could not even broach the subject with Mrs. Fields. As to assessment, the older woman said only that “it was a necessary evil,” a remark that even now troubled Mae. Mrs. Fields had passed away only three months after Mae had married Samuel. The older woman was proud of Mae and said that she had found an exemplary husband, a sentiment to which she agreed wholeheartedly.
The oven was very hot, Mae wiped her forehead, she was warm, but could actually appreciate the brevity of her attire. Back home, making this same meal in her usual clothes, she would have already been drenched in sweat. She found she could move more easily without the long skirt and confining corset. “Maybe this outfit is not as perverted as I thought,” she recited to herself. She looked at the clock, dinner would easily be ready by the deadline. Through it all, the assessor looked on, watching her every move.
Mae set the table and used the ice scraper to fill two tumblers with ice. A bottle of fruit juice would slake their thirsts. She waited for the assessor to sit before serving him. She held her breath until he took the first bite.
“This is delicious Mae!” he enthused. Mae began breathing again. She had to admit, after tasting her handiwork, that she had done a fine job. The meat pie slid sweetly down her throat. The assessor had three helpings, so there was nothing left. That made Mae feel very good. “If the rest of the tests are like this…” she thought happily.
“Excellent dinner Mae, now you have an hour to clean up and straighten this kitchen. Begin now.”
“Yes, sir!” responded Mae as she quickly rose to her feet and began policing up the plates. Fortunately, Mrs. Fields had taught her the value of not using an excessive number of dishes and bowls when she made a meal or baked something because, “It all has to be cleaned in the end and the person doing that cleaning will invariably be YOU.” Mae actually finished her assignment early. She brushed back her golden hair and sighed heavily. She really wished that Samuel could have sampled that meat pie. He would have praised her for hours and planted sweet kisses on her lips and that would have led to… Mae noted the Assessor staring at her intensely and she blushed all over. “My goodness, it’s like he can read my mind!” she thought.
“Come, Mae,” announced the assessor, “because of the lateness of the dinner, which is certainly not your fault, it is now time to retire. I’ll draw a bath for you.”
“Thank you, assessor, sir but I think I am capable of that on my own.”
“Don’t you understand, silly girl? I’m going to bathe you!”
Mae’s mouth fell open and she sputtered like a fish out of water for several moments.
The assessor chuckled, “Your innocence and naiveite are endearing Mae, but they cannot interfere with the work we have to do. Wives are rated on aesthetic appeal as well as domestic skills. Now, stop being an embarrassed little girl and be an adult woman, perhaps for the first time in your life.”
“Yes, sir,” said Mae at last, softly. She reminded herself that she had promised Samuel that she would obey her assessor and she never broke a promise to her man.
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