Tuesday passed into Wednesday quickly. In the upstairs of the Hall Rebecca, Alice, Robin and Daniel spent a day of consolidation. On the Tuesday afternoon Lady Mathom requested that Alice play for her for an hour and Alice had nervously complied. Her new level of inspiration had saved her however and Lady Mathom had expressed genuine delight in her piano playing. Daniel spent much of the time closeted with either Robin or Mr Coleman, forging plans for his future career as a self-employed builder and decorator. Self-employed was a little of a misnomer in certain respects however since Daniel was all too aware that his real boss was the Lady to whom he was now pledged in slavery to.
When not obliged to be with Alice and Daniel, Robin and Rebecca worked on their own projects. Robin was pleased with the way his presentation was shaping up but Rebecca shuddered with horror every time she considered the chaotic state of her thesis. What Rebecca really needed was some guidance in putting the thing into some cohesive order but the sensitive nature of the material determined that she was obliged to work alone. Only her Mistress was aware of the nature of Rebecca’s thesis but she was busy with her own obligations. Rebecca flogged away at it in the cold light of solitude with nowhere to turn for help on a project that frankly frightened her. This was the material that she had laid aside long before when its implications became apparent to her and threatened to overwhelm her ordered existence. Even a conservative analysis of the research promised to be explosive and Rebecca was undoubtedly conservative by nature. She liked order and predictability in her life. She delighted in outraging conservative order it is true but she nonetheless required it. Take it away and there was nothing to outrage. For years she had spent a somewhat pampered and sheltered existence beneath the eaves of Mathom Hall. Her thesis represented a threat to that agreeable and secure pattern of life. She was under orders to take this body of research to Switzerland; to White Mountain whatever that was, and the thought filled her with dread.
In the cellars Rachel had not allowed the events of Monday to interfere with the proscribed routine. Jennifer was still spanked each morning, still put through her exercises and still subjected to rigorous training tests. On Tuesday afternoon Rachel had retired for her siesta and once again delegated Jennifer’s whipping to Sebastian. Sebastian had granted Jennifer a peculiar concession. He’d approached her when the time had neared and said, “In view of the pleasant weather outside Miss Jennifer I wonder if you would find it agreeable to take your whipping out in the garden today?” Jennifer had looked at him bemused. She’d been working on her essay and Sebastian’s approach had almost seemed to suggest that he was offering her a welcome interlude from her labours. It was as if he regarded her whipping as just a routine chore that might be made pleasant simply by undertaking it outside in the sunshine. She couldn’t for the life of her see what was supposed to be agreeable in being thrashed with a whip!
Yet she’d felt some strange validation in Sebastian’s request in that he had politely asked her co-operation and indeed an active participation in her daily whipping. So strangely she’d replied to him civilly and said, “Yes that would be in order Sebastian. Do you want me to accompany you now?”
“Not immediately Miss. I will have to prepare the suitable apparatus. Perhaps you can finish the passage you are on and follow me out when you are ready. In about half an hour shall we say?”
There was an old clock ticking on the cellar wall and Jennifer glance at it, “Very well Sebastian in half an hour then. Am I to be whipped severely today?”
“Not intolerably so Miss. A moderate treatment of the back and buttocks will suffice.”
“Thank you Sebastian. I shall present myself in the garden in half an hour then.” Jennifer had turned back to her work feeling oddly calm. In truth she no longer feared her daily whippings so much. They hurt of course and she knew that even a moderate flogging would wrench screams from her throat and reduce her to pitiful sobs but she had learned that she could endure them. She was even beginning to take a perverse pride in the fact that the whip held less terror for her. She was a slave of the House of Mathom wasn’t she? What was a little suffering? The endurance of her suffering was a matter of pride; her growing fortitude was an achievement of will. It would soon be over! Goddess knew that many people suffered far more on a daily basis. She, Jennifer Walstow, had a promised long life of ease, luxurious comfort, security and wealth beyond the dreams of avarice to the average person. A little whipping now and then was a paltry price to pay for her advantaged position. The closet socialist in Jennifer even quite agreed with it. Perhaps the rich should be beaten daily if only to remind them of the fortune of their lives of privilege. After half an hour she had laid her pen down with a sigh and used a ribbon to tie up her hair. If she were to be whipped on her back as well as bottom then Sebastian would require that her long hair did not obstruct her shoulders and upper back. Prepared, she’d made her way to the garden.
Sebastian’s preparations had been immediately apparent. On the little lawn in the walled garden he’d placed a small wooden platform with a single stake affixed to it on one side. At the top of the stake there’d been an iron ring and there were coils of rope lying to one side.
“Ah there you are Miss Jennifer. If you are quite prepared we can begin.”
“Yes Sebastian. How do you want me?”
“If you would care to kneel on the platform facing the upright Miss then I shall affix you in preparation.” Jennifer had knelt on the small platform. The wooden stake had been at about the height of her chin. “Would you place your hands around the stake Miss?” When Jennifer had complied Sebastian had clipped her cuffs to the iron ring. Satisfied that her hands were immobilised he’d then taken a rope and lashed her securely around the waist to the stake. This completed he’d then taken another length of rope and used it to secure her legs to the platform, looping the coils of rope just below her knees. He’d then checked all her bonds and when satisfied with the knots he’d addressed her again, “Are you quite comfortable Miss?” It was a question that begged a week’s answer or none at all and Jennifer had almost smiled in bizarre wonderment.
“As comfortable as can be expected Sebastian! Would it be better to gag me since we’re out of doors? Somebody might hear me otherwise.”
“Please don’t concern yourself with that Miss. We are in a very private and secluded part of the grounds. I’m not in favour of gagging people generally. It can be dangerous.”
“Very well! In that case you can proceed Sebastian. Will I be left here long? I am trying to finish my essay and I’m looking forward to getting back to it.”
“I shall keep it as brief as possible Miss. Your whipping will only take a few minutes and then I shall allow you about half an hour to recover after which I’ll release you. Would that be convenient?”
“Yes that will be fine Sebastian.”
“Then with your permission Miss.” Sebastian had picked up a multi-thronged whip, like a cat of nine tails with long leather thongs.
“Yes Sebastian. At your convenience.” Jennifer had gritted her teeth, gripped hard at the wooden stake and the whipping had commenced. It had, as Sebastian had noted, only taken a few minutes but it had been enough to colour Jennifer’s back and buttocks in scarlet, fill the little garden with her screams and chafe her limbs and waist where she had struggled against her bonds. At length the ordeal had ended and Jennifer had leant limply against the stake gasping for breath. Sebastian had left her so with a promise to return in half an hour and Jennifer had sobbed a grateful thank you. In one respect however Sebastian had been wrong. The garden was indeed secluded and firmly shut against outside entrance. Nevertheless there were people that came that way occasionally and the one that happened to pass that way this day was probably the person that Jennifer would have least desired to have heard her screams.
The stairs from the cellars to the little prisoner’s garden actually emerged alongside an auxiliary wing of the Hall where no windows from the main buildings overlooked it. The high walls surrounding it offered a further privacy and in fact the walled garden was set into a private section of the grounds where nobody but an elite few were allowed access to. Nevertheless this security was not completely watertight and a few insiders among the Hall’s personnel knew of the little secret garden and, moreover, the fact that naked young women were often known to disport themselves in it during warm summer days. Among the cognoscenti of the Hall’s staff was none other than Quentin Baxter. Baxter by now had become aware, through the most secret channels of the Hall’s g****vine, that the object of his most fervent desire, Jennifer Walstow, was currently incarcerated in the Hall’s cellars. As a result Baxter was finding more and more time to work on nebulous projects in close proximity to the Hall to the neglect of his duties on the further flung fields of the Hall’s estates. He had been pottering about in the grounds for the last two days and, when the occasion provided, had been sneaking in to the private grounds abutting the prisoner’s garden. Known to only a very few among the male employees of the Hall and a closely guarded secret was the fact that there was a little secret spy-hole in the garden’s wall, covered with a grate and hidden under some thick bushes against the wall, that allowed of a view into the garden. It had long been a dangerous game for those who knew about it to spy on the naked lovelies within the garden. It was a perilous pursuit since discovery would have meant instant dismissal but for Baxter it was doubly dangerous. He not only held a position of responsibility, he had also already been warned, if somewhat obliquely, by Her Ladyship, on the occasion of their meeting in the Low Woods, to stay away from Jennifer. Her wrath upon discovering that he was still stalking Jennifer would have been monumental. Baxter was under no illusions as to just what extremes that wrath was liable to manifest itself as. Nevertheless, as we have noted previously, Baxter’s obsession had become an all-consuming flame in the man’s troubled psyche.
The faint screams emanating from the walled garden were fresh fuel to that flame as Baxter hovered around on the periphery of the private section. He recognised the particular timbre to those screams. As yet he had not been successful on his furtive forays into the forbidden zone and he had yet to catch a glimpse of the naked Jennifer in the garden but those faint echoes indicated that his vigil was to be rewarded and that his luck had changed. First making sure that he was not observed, he penetrated into the private gardens. The shrieking that he had heard had stopped now and he cursed his luck that he might have missed that which he so ardently wanted to see. Under the shadow of the bush by the wall he lowered himself to his knees in the dirt and carefully removed the concealing grate of the spy-hole. Putting his eye to the orifice a wonderful spectacle was revealed to him. Jennifer was still tied to the whipping stake, kneeling on the platform with her back to his line of vision. His heart pounded wildly as he took in the view of her exquisite slim body in the full glare of the afternoon sunshine. She was breathing heavily and moaning softly with her chin resting on the stake. Gloriously her back and buttocks were scored with dozens of red weals, some starting to turn slightly purple. Baxter could see clearly how the marks extended around her thighs and hips. There was even heavy marking on the backs of her legs and lines that extended around her upper torso to the sides of her breasts. Whoever had beaten her had done the job thoroughly. Baxter’s excitement was immense. This was always how he had wanted to see her, tied and whipped scarlet, delectable in her agony. He was bitterly disappointed that he had been just minutes too late to witness her screaming and writhing at the whipping post as the lash had snaked around her body. Still that might have been dangerous. Whoever whipped her might have detected his presence. But oh how wonderful it would have been to watch! He wanted to see the fear in her eyes as the whip was drawn back for the first stroke. He wanted to see her eyes fly open and the breath explode from her mouth in shock as the first lash lacerated her body. He wanted to peer into her realm of anguish and pain, see the desperation in her tormented face as the tally of lashes mounted. He wanted to hear her scream and beg, the tears flowing from her eyes as she flung her head about in torture.
Most of all he wanted to be the one to ply the whip over her slender frame. He wanted to glory in his administration of her torment. He had only beaten her twice and that just a few strokes with his crop and a belting with his strap. Now he desired to have her like this, naked and bound for his pleasure. He vowed that he would have her so. Whatever the risk, he would not rest until he had satiated that desire. He heard someone coming and hastily withdrew successfully negotiating his way from the private grounds unseen. But he needed release. Fortunately the means of his release was at hand. Mrs Hilda Johnson, one of the casual laundry maids, a plump well-endowed woman in her thirties, was crossing the grounds on her way home. Baxter made it his business to uncover secrets and he knew some terrible ones about Hilda, ones that she would do anything to persuade him to keep quiet about.
“Now then ‘Ilda! Just on our way ‘ome are we?”
Hilda started and glanced about nervously “What ..what d’ yer want Quentin?”
“You my fine lass. Yer can be a bit late in goin’ ‘ome today. Strikes me thee’s getting a bit fat ‘Ilda lass! I think yer in need of a bit of exercise. A nice little dance down at my den will be just the tonic don’t yer think?”
“Quentin Ah can’t! Me ‘usband noticed t’ marks on us after last time. What if he comes ‘ome and sees ‘em again?”
“Don’t lie ter me ‘Ilda Johnson! I know fer a fact that Rex is away fer t’ rest o’ t’ week. So yer’ll follow me right sharpish down ter my den and get thesen stripped down for yer just desserts or Rex’ll be findin’ out what it is yer get up ter in Cropton an’ where t’ ousekeeping keeps disappearin’ to!”
“No Quentin! Please!”
“None ov your whimperin’ ter me ‘Ilda. Thee’s not ‘ad a good ‘idin’ for a couple o’ months now! You agreed back when ah found out about you an’ Charlie Dunstall. We said then that a woman as wicked as you needed reg’lar correction in t’ error ov ‘er ways. Just can’t keep on t’ straight an’ narrow can yer ‘Ilda lass? Aye an’ ah know oo it is yer seein’ when yer supposed ter be visitin’ yer s****r in Cowbridge!” Hilda gasped in horror. “Aye yer might well looked shocked ‘Ilda! Yer not ‘alf as clever in coverin’ yer traces as yer think ye are! Ah’m in right good form today ‘Ilda lass! Bin pickin’ up a few ideas I ‘ave! Ah think we’ll ‘ave yer roped ter t’ tree fer yer comeuppance today. I’ve an ‘ankerin’ ter see them titties of your’n bouncin’ up an’ down whilst yer get yer fat backside leathered! So not another word now ‘Ilda! Lets be ‘avin’ yer down to my den!” Hilda surrendered completely. She had too much to lose and she knew that Baxter could deliver on his threats. So the afternoon held at least some satisfaction for Quentin Baxter. It might not be Jennifer but at least there would be some compensation in watching the overly plump flesh of Hilda Johnson bounce and quiver to the accompaniment of her screams as he thrashed her until the bl**d flowed. When he was satisfied that he’d beaten her satisfactorily he might even release her from her ropes and push her to her knees to take her savagely between her ample buttocks and dig his fingernails into her weals. He’d wipe himself clean on the items of Jennifer’s underwear hidden in his den whilst plotting the downfall of Mathom Hall’s new slave.
Over the two days Julie and Debra were becoming firm friends. Rebecca’s manoeuvring was bearing fruit. Perhaps the relationship lacked the heart quickening passion that Julie shared with Jennifer but it was nevertheless a warming comfort for both of them. Debra, as we have seen, lived a sheltered and lonely life up at Waterstone House and spending the afternoons with the bubbling personality of Julie was a welcome change. Her Mistress had been more than willing to allow her to take Tuesday afternoon off to meet Julie at the “White Monk”. Julie had cycled all the way up from Mathom for the rendezvous and they’d spent a happy afternoon together. There’d been no sexual nature to the meeting although the two girls were already somewhat familiar with each other sexually since Monday, as a result of Rebecca’s endless capacity for extracting the maximum amount of erotic value out of any scenario. In fact the two girls felt a bit shy with each other. In a secluded glade just beyond the Abbey, when their senses had been titillated by a bottle of wine, Rebecca had introduced them to a version of “spin the bottle” that would have made a sailor blush. The resulting havoc was the basis of the information that Alice and Rebecca had tactfully withheld when reporting back to Robin and Daniel.
For all that there was little sexual tension in the air although the two girls felt wholly at ease with each other physically, touching each other often and exchanging the occasional kiss. It wasn’t that they didn’t find the other attractive. Neither had the slightest inclination toward mono-sexuality and was as likely to seek out their gratification in the arms of a woman as those of a man. Debra however was somewhat less experienced sexually. It is true that her two s****rs at Waterstone House had taken full advantage of the lovely little blond girl’s attractions since she had arrived in Mathomdale six months earlier. They were both healthy fast maturing Alpha Sensuals and the arrival of fresh talent, in the shape of beautiful young Debra, into their isolated household had been rather akin to throwing a bone into a dog kennel. They’d had her stripped down and awaiting their pleasure within twenty-four hours of her arrival. Since then however Debra’s sex life was more or less confined to her availability to her two elder s****rs. This is not to say that they exploited Debra. Indeed they were both kind and affectionate to her but there was a sense that they were senior to Debra in the household. Debra was treated as a beloved but, nevertheless, younger s****r and was expected to pay due respect to her two elders. With their Mistress away frequently away on business much of the day-to-day running of the household had devolved on the two elder slaves. One result of this had been that disciplinary matters had frequently been delegated to the two elder girls and it was not unusual for Debra to find herself on the receiving end of the strap being wielded by one or both of her two s****rs.
Debra had no resentment over this situation. On the contrary she loved her two elder s****rs and generally all too willing when they took advantage of their seniority to require her compliance. Nevertheless Debra was definitely not of an equal status at Waterstone House. She lacked anybody to whom she could refer to as an equal. Her Mistress had fretted over this lack for some time now and the prospect of Debra getting out to meet more friends had been an entirely agreeable one. In fact the new potential blossoming of Debra’s social life was not entirely or even particularly noticeably the result of fortuitous chance. Eleanor Waterstone occasionally attended on Lady Mathom and when such matriarchs meet the merits and doings of their personal slaves are always favourite topics of conversation. In fact it had been Lady Mathom’s suggestion that Debra be nominated for festival queen that summer. Of course Her Ladyship had made it clear that she expected her own personal choice to take the honour but the mere fact of nomination would bring the retiring Debra to the public eye. Lady Mathom had also been indirectly instrumental in Rebecca’s action of bringing Debra into closer contact with Julie. Her motives for this were complex. She was still concerned about Jennifer’s relationship with the village shop girl and almost undoubtedly had some thought of weaning Julie and Jennifer apart somewhat. If by forging a friendship that would tie Julie closely to young Debra she could also help the latter expand her restricted horizons then it was a case of killing two birds with one stone. Thus she had warmly encouraged Rebecca to facilitate the potential friendship between the two girls.
Of course the fly in the ointment of these manipulations was the fact that not only did Julie unreservedly adore Jennifer but so did Debra. In fact their shared adoration of the new and highly valued slave of the big Hall was the initial meeting point on which the two girls founded their growing friendship. Debra had fallen irrevocably in love with the auburn haired Queen elect at the crowning ceremony in the village and was desperate for any news or information concerning the object of her ardour. Jennifer, of course, was Julie’s preferred subject for discussion and she happily chatted away for hours about her whilst Debra sighed in hopeless longing. Julie even had some photographs of Jennifer from the ceremony. There was one in which Debra had posed alongside with her. Would Debra like a copy? Debra would have happily swapped her entire wardrobe and walked about in a shift for such a treasure. The framed photograph was already holding a place of honour on her bedside table in her imagination. She would come down to Mathom to collect it the very next day even if she had to walk all the way.
In the event she didn’t have to. Her Mistress had to drive to town on Wednesday and dropped Debra off in Mathom leaving her free until the evening when she would pick her up on the village square. The two girls spent Wednesday afternoon in the beer garden of the Mermaid, by the fountain enjoying each other’s company. Their friendship flowered and grew deeper and the two blond girls were much admired among the old pub’s clientele. Julie had complex feelings towards Debra. She liked the green-eyed girl immensely and had she met her before becoming infatuated with Jennifer she would undoubtedly have thrown all her affections on to her. She was however inhibited by the knowledge that she was sworn to Jennifer. A fling with Debra would feel almost like infidelity. It might seem contradictory of course since Julie had already enjoyed Debra’s sexual pleasures as a result of the random spin of a bottle in the glade behind Marveaux Abbey. But there was no contradiction to Julie. That had just been a party. Everybody got up to mischief at a party. Why she had watched her own beloved Jennifer making love to two twin s****rs in one such party! She’d even egged her on! However the idea of having a one on one sexual encounter with Debra whilst her Jennifer was incommunicado bespoke a much greater level of intimacy and Julie wasn’t at all sure that that was proper. Had she been given a green light by Jennifer it might have been a different matter but Jennifer was imprisoned in Mathom Hall and in no position to grant her permission. In spite of these inhibitions she was prepared to take Debra warmly to her heart and even flirt with her gently. She was missing Jennifer dreadfully and the lovely Miss Clark at least took her mind away from the aching void her lover’s absence had created. By the time the afternoon was ended and they were obliged to return to the village for Mrs Waterstone the two girls had at least reached a level of togetherness that allowed them to hold hands affectionately as they walked back along the riverbank.
“You must come up to Waterstone House and stay over for a night sometime Julie.” Debra told her.
“Could our Jenny come along an’ all?”
“I don’t know. I’d have to ask my Mistress. I don’t see a problem though. We’ve plenty of room. Wouldn’t Jennifer need Lady Mathom’s permission though?”
Julie sighed “Aye I suppose she would”. There was a world of regret in that sigh. It was so easy to forget that Jennifer was now bound to Mathom Hall. It had been so much easier in the days when they’d been free to walk the valley, as they wished, beholden to nobody but themselves and the easygoing leave of Mr and Mrs Appleton and Julie’s parents. “Aye she would. I don’t know if’n she’d get it either. ‘Er Ladyship’s oldin’ ‘er on a short leash Debbie. ‘Eavens know when I’ll get ter see ‘er again!” Julie looked close to tears.
“Oh Julie I’m sure Her Ladyship will give Jennifer plenty of time to see you. She seemed very kind when I met her at the ceremony.”
“Aye well that’s as maybe but ah don’t think ‘Er Ladyship’ll be all that keen on me spendin’ too much time wi’ Jenny. An’ let’s face it she’s t’ boss now! Jenny ‘as to do what she’s told now and if ‘Er Ladyship tells ‘er ter be seein’ less o’ me then she’ll ‘ave no option in t’ matter will she?”
“But why would she Julie?”
“Cos Jenny’s t’ apple ov ‘Er eye at t’ moment be sounds o’ things and she won’t want ‘er gallivantin’ off wi some lass from t’ village. Ah know Jenny sez otherwise but ah’m not daft. She’s got Jenny where She wants ‘er now an’ if’n she sez that She don’t want Jenny ter be carryin’ on wi some common bird from t’ village then that’ll be that!”
Debra squeezed Julies hand tightly “Oh Julie! I think you’re being overly pessimistic! Stop it now! You’re not common at all! Everybody I meet says that you’re one of the nicest girls in the village. Jennifer thinks the world of you! She told me that at the crowning ceremony. Lady Mathom’s not such an ogre surely.”
“I’m sorry Debbie love! I’m just missin’ ‘er is all. This week’s bin bl**dy murder! It’s alright when you or Becky’s around but at ‘ome on a night I cry mesen ter sl**p every night. Ah know ah’m daft but ah’ve never felt so lonely!”
“Oh Julie! Listen why don’t you come up to Marveaux for the next couple of days? My Mistress has always said that if I want to invite some friend along then as long as I have her permission it will be alright. You said Jenny wouldn’t get out of the Hall until the weekend at the earliest. There’s no point in you being alone and I could do with some company the Goddess knows. The other two girls are in Carcester until Saturday so I’m completely on my own for the moment.”
“Don’t yer ‘ave ter work? I mean looking after yer Mistress an’ all that?”
“Oh yes a little bit. I do have my chores and I have to attend on her but she’s been away so much recently that they’re not particularly time consuming. You could help me if you like.”
“Eee I can’t see me waitin’ on yer Missus Debbie!”
“Plenty of other things to do around the house Julie. Anyway why not? She likes being pampered sometimes and if I bring in somebody to help her when she’s missing her two senior girls she’ll be quite pleased.”
“Eee Debbie! This sounds like fun!”
“It will be. Missus Eleanor’s bound to give us time off in the afternoons and we can go for some nice long walks, have a picnic or something.”
“An’ yer reckon she’ll go for this?”
“I can only ask! I don’t think she’ll have any real objection. She’s always saying I need more friends. Why don’t you stay till Friday or even Saturday?”
“Well I’d ‘ave ter ask me mam an’ dad but if they’re ok I’d love to! When will you ask yer Missus?”
“When she picks me up on the square. If she’s ok with the idea then you could throw a few things in a bag and drive back up with us. How about it?”
“Where’d I sl**p?”
“Oh heavens we’ve got loads of spare rooms Julie! That’s not a problem! It’s not Mathom Hall or anything but it’s a big old rambling house. We have to cook our own breakfast and the Mistress’s because old Mrs Darcy, our cook, has trouble with her lumbago in the mornings, but that’s not too much of a chore. Most of the general cleaning’s done by a couple of ladies from Marveaux so we don’t have to worry about that. There’ll be some tidying up and polishing and a few bits and pieces but nothing to worry about. I’m supposed to do the brass work in the front lounge sometime this week. You can give me a hand with that if you like.”
“All right! I’m game then! ‘Eaven’s knows it’s no good me mopin’ around t’ village whilst our Jen is stuck up at t’ bl**dy ‘All all week!”
“Great! We can have some fun Julie. It’ll be so nice to have somebody to talk to! Come on let’s hurry! I don’t like the look of those clouds!” Ominous dark clouds were beginning to unfold over the valley and there was rain in the air. Excitedly the two girls quickened their pace. The rain remained only a threat however and they made it back to the village in good time. They had only a few minutes to wait before Mrs Waterstone drove her Mercedes into the village square. She was a tall statuesque brunette with stern features that were ameliorated by the constant dancing amusement in her light brown eyes. She was a well-respected and liked personality in Mathomdale. She had an air of brusqueness and severity that failed utterly to mask the underlying heart of gold. She was one of those people whose public persona fools nobody. She could be sharp on occasion to the point of rudeness but nobody ever took offence from it. Her basic kindness and generosity were just too evident. She had a reputation for not suffering fools gladly and she was a scourge of bureaucratic absurdity in her dealings with the local government of the valley but she was well renowned as a champion of the less fortunate and hard done by. She took pride in saying that she ruled her household with a rod of iron but the easy-going laxity with which she treated her slaves and servants contradicted that boast. In fact she was a big softie and her strict demeanour was a charade that few took seriously. Although she could be diligent in maintaining a disciplined regime in her household she nevertheless allowed a degree of latitude and indulgence that would have shocked a Mathom Hall girl. She was amused to see her lovely Debra waiting for her with Julie Hawthorne from the shop, the two girls evidently excited about something. Stopping the car she climbed out to greet them.
“Hello Debra. I’m glad to see that you’re punctual.” Debra of course wouldn’t have dared be anything but punctual. Had she missed her rendezvous she would have been walking back to Marveaux and facing the strap when she got there. “And hello to you Julie. It must be what… two years or so since I last saw you. How are your parents?”
Julie and Debra curtsied low and Julie replied “They’re right well ma-am. Thank yer fer askin’.”
“Good! I wanted to pop into the shop for a couple of things. Is your mother working?”
“Oh good. I’ll pop in and have a chat to her then.”
“Er… excuse me ma-am.” Debra began.
Debra swallowed and curtsied, blushing shyly. Her idea seemed not quite as easy to put into practise as she had first thought. She decided to couch her request in the formal language of a slave of the Line “Th… this slave would beg her Mistress’s pardon My Lady. Worthless though she is, this slave would humbly request a great favour of her benevolent Mistress.”
Mrs Waterstone’s eyes glowed with amusement. “And that is Debra?”
“That is My Lady, that due to the absence of her two honourable elder s****rs, this worthless slave fears that she might prove inadequate in providing her honoured Mistress with the service to which her revered status entitles her to. Therefore in recognition of her dismal failings this slave has asked Julie Hawthorne to come to our honoured house and assist her for the next couple of days in the rendering of her duties however poor they may be. This miserable slave begs her Mistress’s pardon for her inadequacies and prays that the provisions that she has made for her Mistress’s comfort will at least compensate in some small measure for her temporary inconvenience and will persuade her not to sell this wretched slave.”
Mrs Waterstone laughed, “Why of course Julie can come and stay for a couple of days Debra! It will be lovely having her around!” Mrs Waterstone looked kindly at Julie, liking what she saw. “Have you asked your parents Julie?”
“Er not yet ma-am.”
“Well why don’t I ask your mother for you Julie. I’m sure that I can persuade her that no harm will come to you up at Waterstone House!”
“Why thank you ma-am!”
Debra was shining with pleasure “This slave thanks you humbly My Lady that you have not beaten her for her impertinent request.”
“Get along with you two! If your mother gives permission Julie then you’d better go and pack a few things hadn’t you?”
“Come along then let’s go and see her.”
Mrs Hawthorne was delighted to give Julie permission to stay up at Waterstone House for a few days. She hadn’t seen Julie so excited all week. The poor girl had been pining miserably for her friend Jennifer and a change was just what she needed. Whilst Mrs Waterstone sat down for a cup of tea and some Eccles cake Julie and Debra rushed upstairs to pack Julie’s belongings. “bl**dy ‘ell Debbie! That were an’ ‘ell of a mouthful yer came out wi’ to yer Missus! D’ yer allus ‘ave ter talk to ‘er like that?”
“Good grief no Julie! That was formal language reserved only for important requests and formal occasions. We’re not nearly so obsequious normally.”
“Yer really sounded like some slave or summat!”
“I am a slave Julie! My Mistress owns me! Under formal conditions I use the language appropriate to my status as a slave.”
“I thought yer was a servant up at Waterstone ‘Ouse or summat!”
“Goddess no! I’m not just a mere servant Julie! I’m a slave!”
“Well like what’s t’ difference?”
“There’s a whole world of difference Julie! You can hire a servant. You can fire a servant! A slave you have to buy and once you’ve bought one you are completely honour bound in responsibility to them. They’re valuable! A slave has far higher status than a mere servant Julie. A slave is second only in the hierarchy to the masters or mistresses of the household. Slaves are f****y! The servants have to bow or curtsy to us!”
“Crikey! I don’t know nuthin’ it seems! An’ our Jen’s a slave as well is she?”
“Oh yes Julie! I overheard my Mistress talking about her Julie. Lady Mathom has paid millions for Jennifer! They’re saying she’s one of the highest priced slaves ever to come to Mathomdale! One of the highest priced anywhere!”
“Yer mean she’s bought Jenny? ‘Ow? Oo from?”
“From Jenny’s mother of course Julie. My mother sold me to the Lady Eleanor when I was thirteen although I didn’t join her household until much later of course. Haven’t your parents negotiated your own contract price yet?”
“Er… er no… no not yet.” said Julie in much confusion. It was evident that Debra had misinterpreted Julie’s own status and taken her for a girl of her own ilk.
“Well since you are affianced to Jennifer it might be that Mathom Hall comes in with a bid for you. Then again my Mistress seems to like the look of you so perhaps she’ll buy you! I’d love to have you as my s****r Julie! Hey if she’s pleased with you over the next couple of days she might weigh in with an offer! That would be better than being sold out of the valley wouldn’t it?”
Julie gulped trying to come to terms with all this. Jennifer had often hinted about her status as a slave but she’d never mentioned that she’d actually been sold as one! And now Debra was assuming that Julie was up for auction too! Julie tried to imagine her parents pushing her onto a block in the middle of the village square whilst the auctioneer called out “Right then! Lot number thirty-two. One young blond bird, bit shop soiled but plenty o’ go in ‘er, nice teeth an’ ‘ard workin’! Oo’ll start me off on twenny quid. A tenner then! Right! Ah can see ah’ve met me match terday! Oo’ll give us a fiver!” Julie shook her head. It was all too absurd. Nevertheless she was secretly pleased that Debra had taken her for a young lady of the valley, if not of the same status as a Mathom Hall girl at least one of their spiritual s****rs. It was altogether more glamorous than just being a shopkeeper’s daughter. She felt a thrill of guilty pleasure.
“Well I don’t know if me mam an’ dad would get much fer me but it might give ‘em an extra room!” she said laughing. “Any road Ah’ve packed a few things now so if your Missus ‘as finished ‘er Eccles cake we can be off!”
By odd coincidence whilst the two girls were upstairs gathering Julie’s belongings Mrs Waterstone was plying Julie’s mother with questions about Julie with great interest. She only knew the Hawthorne f****y slightly but she was determined now to take a greater interest in them. She noted with pleasure Mrs Hawthorne’s pride in Julie’s growing sense of responsibility and her undoubted usefulness to the f****y business. She was very interested in Julie’s business acumen and was delighted to hear that Julie was a tidy and conscientious girl always willing to help around the household. She sounded an altogether impressive young girl if somewhat unformed as yet. She frowned when she heard about Julie’s recent illness. It was worrying but hopefully nothing too serious and perhaps something she might grow out of. She was eighteen in October was she? How very interesting. Mrs Waterstone determined to return and have a much longer talk with Julie’s mother come October. Debra certainly needed a younger s****r with whom she could relate. Julie sounded just the ticket and possibly not too expensive as well. Waterstone House was on a fairly tight budget for the moment and the prospect of shelling out for a highborn slave from one of the more prestigious families had been giving Eleanor headaches. This could well be an economical solution to her problem. It never occurred to her to question Julie’s hereditary and lineal qualifications.
On the drive up to Marveaux Mrs Waterstone took a great interest in Julie. She was shy to begin with but her natural good-natured enthusiasm soon showed as Mrs Waterstone put her at her ease. She was a happy vivacious young woman Eleanor noted. She would be a breath of fresh air up at Waterstone House. Also on a positive note, if the stories were correct, she was very closely attached to Jennifer Walstow, Lady Mathom’s legendary new slave. The prospect of a marital connection with the House of Mathom was a thrilling thought. Waterstone House was admittedly a daughter establishment of Mathom Hall already but not so grand that it wouldn’t benefit from a closer tie to the Founding House. If half the rumours were true then this Jennifer Walstow was a daughter through marriage to Lady Mathom and potentially an heiress. Marrying her own slave off to a Grand Lady of Mathom Hall was a glittering possibility and one to be assiduously cultivated. The bridal price would be astronomical and you couldn’t buy prestige like that! Eleanor began tinkering in her mind with the delightful range of future scenarios.
Debra wasn’t the only girl in Mathomdale receiving visitors that evening. Jennifer was also about to have unexpected guests. For the moment however she was rather more in expectation of a far less welcome occurrence. She was standing at attention whilst Rachel read through her finished essay on Sun Tsu. Rachel was frowning and marking different parts of her writing heavily with a green pen. Jennifer was decidedly nervous. She thought that she’d done a good job on that essay but nothing in Rachel’s demeanour suggested that she was pleased with it. If it was sub-standard then Rachel had promised her a whipping. Jennifer was still sore from her daily whipping from Sebastian already.
The weather had been somewhat cooler today and carrying the prospect of rain so Jennifer had had to take her whipping indoors. He’d spread eagled her to chains from the roof and rings in the floor and given her her hardest whipping so far with a long bull whip curling it around her torso, hips and legs to leave her body striped with angry red lines front and back. She glanced down and saw the weals across her breasts, stomach and thighs. The twinges of pain from her back, buttocks and the backs of her lags reminded her of the weals there. He’d even curled the whip around her outstretched legs to sting the sensitive flesh on the inside of her thighs. At the end of it she’d been hanging limply in her chains, drenched with sweat and sobbing uncontrollably. It had been altogether too much to have to report to Rachel with her essay and to fetch the whip with her in case her work did not meet Rachel’s exacting standards. Now the whip was curled up on the long wooden dining table, where Rachel was sat, next to the leather paddle that was by now a more or less permanent fixture on the table. Jennifer couldn’t take her eyes off it. The thought of facing it twice in one day was unbearable.
“Very well Jennifer there are some points I have to make. Your placing of the work within historical context is generally very sound but you’ve used two quotes here and you haven’t referenced them! That might have been all right at school but you’ll certainly get penalised for that at university. Sebastian will give you a handbook on the Harvard method of referencing used at Warborough University. I shall expect you to be familiar with it before presenting your next written work. You get a bit lost in the relevance of Taoist philosophy here and I’m not sure that you have a full grasp on the subject. There are a few grammatical errors and there’s only one r in allegorical. Also try to make some of your sentences a bit more concise and pay more attention to the overall structure of the thing. You tend to jump from one subject to another without any real lead in which can make it difficult to read. Nevertheless in spite of these faults a creditable first effort.” Rachel picked up the paddle “Please bend over the end of the table.”
“I… I thought you said it was creditable ma-am!”
“It is Jennifer. It shows diligent effort and intelligent insight and some of it is very good. Your handwriting is neat and legible too. All in all I’m pleased with it. Had I not been you would be facing the whip! There are just some issues to iron out. If I was marking that at university I would have given it a reasonably high upper second class mark for a first year student.”
“Then why am I to be spanked ma-am?”
“Because it’s not first class Jennifer. Now stop arguing and bend over!” Miserably Jennifer obeyed. Thankfully the spanking was mercifully short although hard and when Rachel put down the paddle once more she had some good news. “Ok Jenny school’s out for the day. Now because you’ve been good, worked hard and taken your beatings without undue moaning I have a nice surprise for you. You are to be allowed visitors tonight. Rebecca and her new friend Alice will be joining us for our evening meal.” Jennifer grinned in delight, her stinging bottom forgotten already. “It will be our last evening together Jenny because I’m leaving tomorrow so I think it will be nice to have a formal dinner don’t you? Sebastian is preparing something special to entertain our guests with. We’ve dug out the best china, tablecloths and linen napkins and I saw Sebastian earlier polishing up some old brass candelabras he‘d unearthed from somewhere. So we’ll be able to set a proper dinner table. First of all let’s get showered and our hair and make up seen to so that we look our best for our guests.”
“Are.. are we allowed to dress?”
“Of course not! We’re still under prison rules Jenny. Collar and cuffs only! Make sure they’re nicely polished. I notice your left cuff is looking a bit scuffed, probably as a result of Monday’s adventures. Get some leather polish on it.”
“Will Rebecca and Alice have to be undressed?”
“No Jenny! They’re just visitors. They’re not under any obligation to disrobe. If they want to out of politeness then that’s their affair of course. We however will be naked and proud of it! All right!”
“All right Rachel. It’s just that, although Rebecca has seen me without my clothes on, I’ve never met this Alice girl. What will she think?”
“Let me whisper what a little dickey bird has told me Jenny. Alice and her husband Daniel have just become slaves of Mathom Hall. Apparently they just took their oaths and signed their documents of indenture this very afternoon in the Rose Parlour. That makes Alice your s****r Jenny and you shouldn’t feel in any way inhibited about being naked in her presence with or without whip marks on you. You shouldn’t be ashamed in front of your s****rs. Now come along and let’s pretty ourselves up.”
Alice shivered as she and Rebecca descended into the cellars. Rebecca had told her what to expect of course but nevertheless she felt a thrill of horror. Ever since the conversation at Marveaux Abbey Alice had been imagining ghosts everywhere. These cellars must be infested with the things. In any case Alice felt strange. She looked down at the ornate leather cuffs on her wrists with their fine silver inlays and fingered the collar at her throat. She and Daniel had had these items placed on them in the private but formal ceremony in the Rose Parlour when they had accepted their status as slaves to Mathom Hall and made solemn vows to uphold the principles, live by the rules and swear fidelity to the House of Mathom in perpetuity. Lady Mathom had officiated in the ceremony and Rebecca, Abigail, Heather and Helen had acted as formal witnesses. Alice had worn her best dress for the ceremony and the cuffs and collar didn’t clash too badly with it since they were beautifully jewelled, almost like fashion accessories, with what appeared to be real diamonds and, of course, the obligatory amethyst. Alice had shuddered with pleasure when Lady Mathom had buckled her collar on with her own hands and told her that it was customary by tradition to wear the collar and manacles for the first twenty-four hours. Alice couldn’t stop looking at them. Bemusedly she saw that there were pieces of jet inlaid on her collar to symbolise her connection with Bolswick Bay. The adornments must have been custom altered within the last few days. She loved them already but she felt strange about them, about as strange as being invited to a formal dinner in a prison in fact. Life at Mathom Hall was full of these incongruities seemingly. It was certainly never boring!
Sebastian, as custodian of the cellars, met them in the reception chamber and led them quickly through the cellars to the prison quarters. Alice blinked as they entered the big dining chamber. Rachel, Jennifer and Sebastian had done a wonderful job transforming the rude old long wooden table into a setting worthy of a banquet. The table top was covered in a spotless white cloth and slips and each of the four placings held solid silver utensils and elaborately folded napkins next to a pair of crystal wine goblets. Sebastian had brought fresh flowers from the prison garden to decorate the table and, holding pride of place along the centre of the table were two magnificent, gleaming silver, elaborate candelabras each with five tall candles in them already alight. It was almost surreal in appearance this gleaming white formal dining table set in the rough brickwork and uneven stone floor of the prison quarters with the big fire in the great arched fireplace, gas lamps and ominous looking iron rings on the walls. It was as unreal as walking into a cow pasture and finding half a dozen society people in full formal evening wear sipping champagne around an exquisitely laid out table among the Frisians and cowpats. Mathom Hall had excelled its propensity for eccentric juxtaposition!
Adding to the overall bizarre effect, of course, was the fact that two women were standing politely by the table dressed in nothing but elaborate, jewelled collars and matching manacles on their limbs. Sebastian, who in deference to the formality of the evening, had donned an old fashioned butler’s evening dress, made the formal introductions. The two women seemed so u*********s in their nudity that Alice, in her best dress felt almost overdressed for the occasion. In fact that wasn’t quite true when she thought about it. In reality she felt inappropriately underdressed! It was as if naked skin was de rigueur formal dress at this sort of occasion and walking in fully dressed was a social faux pas on a scale of wandering in to the first class dining lounge on the Queen Elizabeth during the evening meal in a pair of jeans! She half expected someone to say “Oh dear me! Haven’t you undressed for dinner yet my dear?”
Rachel greeted them “Welcome to our humble prison my ladies. Would you please take a seat whilst Sebastian brings us an aperitif.”
After kissing Rebecca Jennifer took Alice’s hands and said warmly “I’m so pleased to meet you at long last Miss Alice. I’ve heard so much about you from Rebecca. I have to thank you moreover for saving my Rebecca’s life. You have my love and gratitude forever for that.” Alice curtsied and looked at the young woman in wonder. She was as beautiful as Rebecca had said she was, her lovely, perfectly shaped, slender body gleaming in the soft lighting and the great waves of auburn hair highlighted in the firelight. Her body was not blemish less however. To her shock Alice saw that the skin was criss-crossed with slowly fading whip marks. The girl didn’t seem at all put out by the fact however and her hazel eyes were softly serene with no trace of discomfiture. The beautiful emerald and amethyst studded collar and the matching manacles seemed all the adornment this penitent, lovely girl required or even desired.
“Thank you Miss Jennifer! I’ve bin lookin’ forward ter meetin’ you an’ all! I’m afraid me an’ Becky ‘aven’t come properly dressed for the occasion mind!”
Rachel laughed, “Please don’t concern yourself Alice! Jennifer and I are under the obligations of formal prison attire but you and Rebecca, as guests, are excused from following suit.”
Jennifer fingered the cuffs on Alice’s wrists. “Are these new Alice? They’re lovely!”
“Aye. Lady Mathom put ‘em on me today.” Once again Alice felt the incongruity of wearing her manacles whilst fully dressed. “I feel a bit of a prat wearin’ ‘em wi’ me best frock mind when you’ve nowt on besides yours!”
In the background Sebastian cleared his throat. “If it would make you feel more at home Miss Alice I can readily hang your clothes up for you in the ladies closet.”
Alice blushed and looked at Sebastian but there wasn’t the hint of guile or anything else other than a polite wish to put her at her ease. In sudden decision Alice reached for the zipper on the back of her dress “Aye! Thank you sir. I would appreciate that. Give us an ‘and wi me zip Becky!” Rebecca laughed and assisted Alice out of her dress. Sebastian vanished for a moment and reappeared with some clothes hangers, taking Alice’s dress and carefully placing it on a hanger as Alice unclipped her bra and slipped out of her shoes to facilitate drawing her knickers over her ankles. Sebastian took her clothes as gravely as a porter in an exclusive club would receive a lady’s fur. Delicately hanging her underwear on another hanger and clasping her shoes he walked off to put her clothes away. Alice felt somehow strangely more comfortable now that she wore only her wedding ring and the symbols of her slavery, newly earned that afternoon.
Rebecca laughed, “I had a feeling that this might happen.” and delved into her handbag drawing out some objects. “Hold these for a moment would you Alice?” Alice gasped as she took the objects. They were Rebecca’s own personal collar and cuffs of lovely design and bearing rubies and diamonds as well as the amethyst stone at the throat of the collar. “Well I wasn’t going to be the only one improperly dressed for dinner in the cellars was I ladies?” said Rebecca as she started to strip out of her dress. Sebastian took her clothes and when she was naked Rebecca buckled the cuffs to her wrists and ankles with practised ease. “Could you put my collar on while I hold my hair Alice please?”
“Aye of course.” Alice felt the same intimate connection with Rebecca that she’d felt in the pub in Saltersea when she had fastened the jet necklace around her throat as she buckled on the fabulously ornate collar. Rebecca glanced back at her and smiled and overcome by the moment Alice bent to bestow a kiss on the nape of Rebecca’s neck.
Rachel clapped her hands in pleasure. “Well now ladies! Now that we are all dressed up, or should it be down, for the ball shall we take a seat?”
“Would you sit next to me Alice?” asked Jennifer “You’re my new s****r and I’d like to get to know you better.”
“I… I’d be ‘onoured Jennifer!” In the warm companionship of s****rhood the four women took their places at the big table. The cellars hadn’t run to more fitting chairs unfortunately so they were obliged to sit on the old wooden benches that were the usual accompaniment to the central dining table of the prison accommodation. Sebastian had provided the best cushions for their comfort but even so Jennifer winced slightly as she lowered her long suffering posterior onto the bench.
“Are yer alright Miss Jennifer?” inquired Alice with concern.
“Perfectly thank you Alice. Just a bit sore that’s all!”
“’Ave… ave yer bin given an ‘idin’ terday love?”
Jennifer smiled ruefully “Four hidings by my count Alice!” In addition to her spankings at breakfast and just before dinner, as well as her routine afternoon whipping, a momentary, foolish lack of concentration had earned Jennifer a short sharp caning from Rachel just before lunch. “Please don’t worry about me Alice. I shall be all right!” Indeed she appeared to be. On the face of it, bearing the many marks of her day’s ordeals, Jennifer would seem to be a seriously abused young lady but Alice noted that nothing of the sort appeared in the auburn haired girl’s face. She seemed ethereally tranquil and happy.
“Yer poor thing Jenny!” Alice reached out to touch her fondly. “An I thought I were ‘ard done by an’ all I’ve ‘ad all week so far is two dozen wi’ t’ cane off Becky ‘ere!”
“Rebecca caned you?”
“Under orders Jenny!” Rebecca told her “And I received the same from her!” Rebecca recounted the story of their shared punishment under the instruction of Robin and Daniel to general amusement. Rebecca embellished the tale with such comic detail that they were soon all roaring with laughter over their cocktails. “Anyway Alice!” said Rebecca evilly through the general merriment “If Danny gets uppity again in the near future just ask him what he had to do in the Lady’s study on Monday afternoon!”
“Aye up! What’s all this?”
“I spoke to Heather this afternoon, whilst you were changing, and she recounted the incident in graphic detail!” With wicked glee Rebecca told the story of Daniel’s provision of a sperm sample in front of Lady Mathom with Heather’s assistance. Alice laughed so hard her sides ached and Jennifer and Rachel joined in the enjoyment of Rebecca’s hilarious anecdote.
“Don’t tell us any more Becky!” gasped Alice, dabbing at her eyes with her napkin, “Yer’ll do us a mischief! No wonder ‘e were a bit reticent when I asked ‘im what ‘e’d bin doin’ all day! So yer’ve bin disportin’ yersen wi’ another lass in front ov ‘Er Ladyship while me back were turned ‘ave yer Danny me lad? By ‘ell I’ll mek ‘im suffer fer that t’ next time ‘e gets stroppy wi me!”
“Save it up Alice!” Rebecca told her “The pair of them have got a come-uppance coming to them! Wait until we’ve got them both by the short and curlies! Then we’ll make them pay for making us cane each other for their amusement on Monday!”
“You’re a wicked, wicked girl Rebecca!” Rachel told her.
“Where are Robin and Daniel anyway?” asked Jennifer.
“Gone down ter t’ pub for a celebration Jenny.” Alice answered, “We told ‘em that this were a girls’ night. What wi you an’ Rachel ‘ere walkin’ about in yer birthday suits it might ‘ave bin a bit embarassin’ don’t yer think? Danny’s not seen yer wi’out yer clothes on and Becky says that Robin ‘asn’t either, nor Rachel!”
“That’s true Alice!” Rebecca interrupted “But Jenny’s seen Robin undressed! Go on Jenny tell Alice about what happened up at Woodman’s Bluff!” More hilarity reigned as Jennifer told her story.
“It was awful!” she recounted “I’d left all my clothes in a pile in the meadow and I was sure he must see them sooner or later! Then this wasp started buzzing around me and I couldn’t even dare shoo it away without revealing myself!”
“Oh Goddess!” laughed Rachel! “What if there’d been a nest of them in that bush to flush you out? Robin would have thought it was his birthday!” Rebecca nearly choked on her drink at the imaginary vision of Jennifer dashing naked and squealing out of the bush before Robin’s astounded eyes. She was still trying to catch her breath when Sebastian appeared with the hors d'oeuvres. It was a merry meal and Sebastian had excelled himself in his little kitchen for there were six courses of it and it was all delicious although Alice found it somewhat startling at times. There was nothing wrong with the creamed mushroom soup but the Escargots a la Bourguignon were a challenge to say the least. Eating them involved a hazardous affair involving unfamiliar eating utensils that Alice had never seen before and carrying the danger of dropping some hot buttery morsel into one’s naked lap at any moment.
“I’ve never eaten snails before!” Alice protested when presented with the dish.
“You’ll find they have a delicate flavour of butter, garlic and parsley Alice.” Rachel told her. “Of course that’s only because they’re cooked in butter, garlic and parsley! Try one without those accompaniments and you’re in for a real shock!”
“Sod it!” expostulated Rebecca “I’ve just lost one of mine under the table!” Chester, who had joined the company for dinner, took one sniff at the apparent windfall and walked away twitching his tail austerely. The roasted langoustines on saffron rice to follow led Rebecca to inquire sourly “I wonder if Sebastian is going to serve up something that doesn’t require an intimate knowledge of invertebrate anatomy to eat it sooner or later!” But the main meat dish was just superb with a whole roast rack of lamb with mint sauce, new potatoes and buttered vegetables. Dessert was a woman’s bane of impossible to refuse treacle pudding and thick custard. The four women were getting quite strident in their protests when Sebastian brought out the fruits and cheese to accompany the last remnants of the wine.
“Goddess!” moaned Rebecca pushing away from the table, “I think I’ll stay down here for the next six months on bread and water! Low calorie bread!”
“Coffee my ladies?” inquired Sebastian. “And perhaps a small liqueur?”
“Go on then Sebastian!” Rachel told him “Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb!” Over coffee and liqueurs Jennifer shyly turned to Alice on her right hand side and lifted her left wrist.
“May I Alice?”
“Er what Jenny?” Jennifer smiled and in reply used the clip on her right manacle to attach herself to the ring on Alice’s left cuff. “What are yer doin’?” asked Alice in puzzlement.
“You’re my new s****r. I would be honoured to be bound to you.”
“Blimey!” Alice looked confused. Rachel rescued her.
“It’s just a custom among us Alice, a declaration of affection and s****rhood if you like. When Jennifer and I are relaxing or just walking about we often clip ourselves together. It shows our togetherness, that we belong to each other. We’re all s****rs, s****rs in slavery.”
“In that case I don’t mind Jenny. Can yer manage left ‘anded though.”
“Oh yes I’m used to it by now. You might have to help me though. That’s half the point. When you’re bound to someone you have to cooperate and be aware of the other person completely to compensate for their handicap. After a while the pair of you just become a single unit. You get to instinctively know just what the other person is doing and what they’re going to do. Your s****r becomes almost an extension of yourself.”
“I can vouch for that!” said Rebecca “Did I ever tell you about the time I had a row with Abigail? When I first came to the Hall Abigail and I didn’t get on very well. Our personalities clashed I suppose. It came to a head one day when we had this flaming argument over something stupid! I can’t even remember what it was! We even slapped each other and refused to talk to the other one! Goddess the Lady went radio rental when she heard about it! She had us both tied up naked together and left alone for a day in a room with instructions that we were to be whipped every hour on the hour until dinnertime. At first we were both blaming each other for getting us into so much trouble. But that day went on forever and every hour somebody would come in without saying a word to either of us, thrash us and then just leave again. We had nobody else to turn to in our misery and by dinnertime we had quite forgiven each other and were getting quite sloppy with each other! She wasn’t finished with us yet though! She made us each wear a single cuff on one of our wrists and then she had them locked together. We had to stay locked together like that for a fortnight! Each day we’d have to report to her and she’d swap our wrists, so one day you’d be attached by your left wrist, and the next day by your right. We had to do everything together. We had to sl**p together, bath together, eat together, even go to the toilet together! We had to wear sleeveless dresses or tie up tops the whole time or anything that didn’t require putting our arms into sleeves. We had to help each other dress and do our hair and faces because if one of us wasn’t properly turned out she’d cane both of us!
Goddess the things we learned about each other that fortnight. As Jenny says it became second nature after a while. You’ve no secrets left from somebody who’s had to help you wipe your backside! By the end of that fortnight it just seemed the most natural thing in the world to help your s****r and rely on her to help you. We became almost telepathic with each other! Such close contact and enf***ed cooperation fosters love. Nobody else was allowed to talk to us apart from the barest necessities for the whole fortnight although that rule got broken more and more towards the end. Mostly though we only had each other’s company. I hadn’t really liked Abigail before but by the end of that fortnight I would have killed anybody that had a bad word to say about her! When we were finally released it was like cutting an umbilical cord. I almost felt lonely without her fastened to me! I found myself doing things to compensate for her presence even when she wasn’t there. It was like having a ghost attached to me all the time. I never had another argument with Abigail! She’s been my beloved s****r ever since. The Lady demands that her slaves love, honour and respect each other. She gave us the two cuffs that we’d been attached by and bade us treasure them in honour of each other. And we do! We had each other’s name printed on them in gold lettering and sometimes we wear them together, yes and fasten them together for a day in celebration of our love for each other. When the Lady sets out to teach you a lesson Alice, believe me, you don’t forget it!”
“That’s a lovely story Becky!” said Alice, her eyes shining. She turned to Jennifer. “I’m sorry Jenny! Mebbe I didn’t understand t’ full ‘onour of wot you was doin’! I think ah do now though! I’m right ‘onoured ter be yer s****r Jenny an’ I’ll treasure this evenin’ always!” Alice looked at the lovely hazel eyes and fell deeply in love.
“Well kiss her Alice you twit!” said Rebecca in exasperation. Alice laughed, suddenly joyous, and embraced Jennifer in a deep melting kiss.
Neither Rebecca nor Rachel was in the slightest bit surprised by the scenario. Rebecca just shook her head in wonderment. How easily the daughter of Katherine Carmillion captured people with her love! That was her secret wasn’t it? She was just pure love, absolutely pure and unadulterated love! She loved everybody! She couldn’t help it! It was her very nature. People took one look at her and knew that at a fundamental level she loved them. There could be no resistance to that simple primary f***e. You knew when she smiled at you or shyly requested something of you that you were the most precious thing in the world to her at the moment. And you were! Everything was the most precious thing in the world to Jennifer. One look, one touch, a single smile and you were hers for life!
Rachel’s thoughts were much the same. “Goddess!” she said to herself “Where does this girl get her power from?” Rachel was suddenly filled with a vision of the future, a future in which this girl would capture a dynasty, an army, an empire of devotion with a shy flicker of those hazel eyes. Now Rachel truly saw why her Mistress so cultivated this slim young woman. Here was a worthy daughter indeed. Here was an heiress. Here was a worthy successor to the House of Mathom and the Empire of the Line!