Some of the readers on this site have been following the Slaves of the Amethyst sage that I have been posting and have been kind enough to make positive comments on it. However there is a problem since the entire sage is currently a three volume novel of over one hundred and fifty chapters and the section of the tale that I’ve included on the site comes close to the beginning of the second volume. As a result much of the preceding story has been naturally missed out and some readers have asked me to fill in the background to the story so far so as to better understand the convolutions of what is admittedly a complex narrative. Therefore I’ve posted this brief resume of the earlier part of the novel to fill this gap. I hope it helps those readers who have been following the tale.
The novel is mainly set in a beautiful fictitious valley in Northern England called Mathomdale and much of the plot revolves around a central character, Jennifer Walstow, who is the beautiful, auburn haired, nineteen year old daughter of a rather conservative vicar and his quiet and enigmatic wife on the outskirts of a large town. Jennifer’s upbringing keeps her somewhat sheltered and naive and she is inherently shy and reserved although possessing a warm irresistible charm. At the beginning of the novel Jennifer finds herself in trouble for the sort of reasons that teenage girls do and she is caught red-handed in an indelicate position with a local lad in the barn belonging to one of her father’s parishioners. The scandal threatens to be enormous and the tongues are wagging in the parish. Jennifer’s father is outraged by his daughter’s sinful behaviour and determines to send her away for the duration of the summer to reside in the country until the scandal dies down. Jennifer is in any case due to begin university in the autumn and he hopes that by the time she returns to the vicarage after the first semester then the incident will have been forgotten.
The reverend Walstow initially intends to send Jennifer to stay with a clerical colleague of his who is noted for his strict Christian beliefs and narrow interpretation of the scriptures. Here however Jennifer’s mother intervenes. Jennifer’s mother is a somewhat secretive person with a faintly scandalous background herself but she is the dominant figure in the marriage and, although she rarely challenges Jennifer’s father’s authority openly, when she does do so it is usually decisive. She agrees that Jennifer should be sent to the country but she refuses to allow Jennifer to be sent into the clutches of the narrow-minded bigot that is Jennifer’s father’s friend. Instead she insists the Jennifer be sent to Mathomdale. The Reverend is appalled. Although he originally met his wife in Mathomdale whilst serving as a curate in the parish church he has no love for the valley with its barely concealed pagan beliefs and the shocking morality of its inhabitants. He refuses to entertain the idea but his wife is adamant and after a terrible argument she gets her way. Jennifer will go to Mathomdale to stay with an elderly couple she knows that live in the valley.
Mathomdale is a revelation to the young girl. Although she feels that she has been sent away in disgrace she finds the lovely unspoiled valley a liberation and she soon falls in love with its idyllic rural beauty and the odd old world courtesy of its inhabitants. Before long she is spending all her free time roaming the valley and the surrounding fells enchanted by it. But Jennifer is a perceptive girl and she quickly comes to realise that there is more to Mathomdale than simply rustic charm. It seems in some ways to live completely outside the normality of contemporary English life. All the shops are owned locally for instance and she looks in vain for a Tesco’s or a Sainsbury’s. There are no McDonalds, no Pizza Huts; the only fast food outlets she can find are locally owned fish and chips shops. In fact wherever she looks there are no chain outlets of any sort. The valley seems completely self-contained. Even the pubs sell only beer brewed in the Mathomdale brewery. This economic reality cannot be explained by the backwater nature of the valley for it is a populous and prosperous enclave. It certainly doesn’t depend upon tourism for its wealth for there is virtually no tourist infrastructure in the valley at all. There are hardly any camping grounds or hotels, no souvenir shops or any other trapping of tourism. She can’t even find a place to buy a postcard. The valley it seems has closed itself to the outside world.
The people seem to belong to another world as well. They are entirely concerned with their own internal affairs and apparently ignore the world beyond. There are important national elections taking place in England that summer but Jennifer can’t even find a mention of them in the local newspaper. The people have their own odd customs as well. Early Jennifer observes a charming local custom wherein the inhabitants greet each other with formal bows or curtsies regardless of the sex they are greeting. She also becomes aware of the pagan nature of the valley represented by an oddly elusive deity simply known as the Goddess. She finds little shrines and statues to this deity all over the valley and some of them are strange indeed. She hears the name of the Goddess invoked constantly around the valley and the inhabitants use the term as an epithet freely. With her Christian upbringing Jennifer is a little shocked by this but she soon comes to understand that she is seeing merely the tip of the iceberg. There is much more going on in this valley.
Nevertheless, experiencing the greatest freedom she has had in her life, Jennifer adores the valley but her life is about to change in dramatic fashion. To begin with she befriends a young girl of s*******n who works in her parent’s shop on the square of Mathom village, the largest centre of population in the valley. Julie, her new friend is an ebullient and extroverted little blond girl and both shocks and charms Jennifer with her irrepressible penchant for getting into mischief. She is the perfect foil for Jennifer’s shy introverted nature and soon the two girls are inseparable. Julie for her part adores the rather posh city girl that has landed in Mathomdale and quickly becomes devoted to her. The crisis comes the day the two girls are caught trespassing together in private woods by the formidable local gamekeeper, Quentin Baxter. Trapped by this ogre the two girls are obliged to lower their underwear and are beaten with Baxter’s riding whip. The shared experience of pain and humiliation ignites the smouldering embers in the two girls and they become lovers. Jennifer has never had a girl for a lover before and, although she knows that her father would condemn her for it, she glories in her new-found love for her irresistible girl-friend.
Whilst the two girls enjoy their curiously naive and tentatively blossoming sexual adventure another person becomes aware of Jennifer’s presence in the valley and that person is by far and away the most important inhabitant of the region. Jennifer has heard stories about the fabulously rich and powerful woman Lady Mathom who resides in the massive imposing structure of Mathom Hall, one of the greatest private dwellings anywhere in Britain set among tens of square miles of private parklands and gardens along the northern side of the valley. Jennifer has been taken under the wing of the landlady of the largest local pub and Jennifer gains some information from her, unaware of the fact that the landlady knows Lady Mathom well and is reporting back to Her Ladyship all the intelligence about Jennifer. Jennifer discovers that Lady Mathom is the real f***e behind Mathomdale and that she rules the valley almost as a private feudal fief. Nothing gets done in the valley without her say and the inhabitants revere her almost to the point of worship.
Lady Mathom, upon learning about Jennifer’s presence, has become determined, for reasons of her own, to meet this young lady. Jennifer remains for the moment unaware of this curious interest in her but now she is being monitored closely and a subtle web of entrapment begins to weave about her. Jennifer is already coming to wonder at the strange hierarchy in the valley. Some people she notes are accorded higher status than others and treated reverentially. Most bewildering is the higher status granted to women and there is no doubt that the valley is dominated by its female sex which almost seems a part of its curious cult of worship of the Goddess. Most specifically, she notes, the high status of the richer ladies of the valley who dominate their households and can often be seen accompanied by their retinues of young female or occasionally male servants. In due course she hears a shocking word; slaves. With a shock she begins to realise that the valley has a culture of institutionalised slavery.
Jennifer tries to find out more about the valley and specifically about Lady Mathom. One day she even sneaks into the parklands of Mathom Hall and penetrates far enough to view the vast bulk of the Great Hall and its numerous wings and offshoots; a looming presence over the waters of the Great Lake. The adventure is not a happy one however for she gets caught in the rain and falls once again into the clutches of her nemesis, Quentin Baxter who takes the time to teach her another short and painful lesson.
More fruitful for the purposes of intelligence is an encounter that Jennifer has whilst waiting for Julie in the beer garden of the Mathom Arms. Here she espies four startlingly beautiful and immaculately turned out young women she has not seen before in the valley. They are notable local personalities she notes by the way they are treated by the locals with such respect and she watches them covertly admiring their studied grace and elegance. She does not know them but they apparently know of her for one of them walks over and introduces herself and asks if they may join her. Jennifer feels boorish in her old jeans and a tee-shirt alongside these four exquisite beauties but they seem friendly enough and indeed rather more than just friendly. There is the tall blond and intelligent Abigail, the vivacious and temperamental Rebecca and the two happily mischievous identical twins Heather and Helen. The four girls tell Jennifer that they are Lady Mathom’s personal handmaidens or ladies in waiting; a sort of personal private servant to the Mistress of the Great Hall. The word slave is never used. The four young women tell Jennifer something of their life at the Hall and Jennifer is shocked by the rigid code of discipline imposed upon them by their mistress. She can it is apparent punish them for whatever misdemeanour she thinks merits it or for no reason at all it seems. They are absolutely bound by strict codes of honour to obey her in everything and the slightest infraction could earn them punishment. Her control over them even extends to the way they dress and Jennifer is appalled to learn that the girls are not even allowed to appear in public without first having their appearance vetted by their mistress. It all sounds incredibly servile and tyrannical to Jennifer yet the four girls don’t see it that way at all. They not only seem perfectly content with their lot they actually appear to be proud of their position. It is a deeply disturbing and thought provoking encounter for Jennifer the more so because the four girls are not only beautiful but highly predatory and they make their intentions perfectly visible to the flustered and confused Jennifer.
Jennifer is about to become more confused. After watching her for several days from a distance Lady Mathom makes her move. Jennifer is shocked to find that Lady Mathom has extended an invitation to the Appleton’s, the elderly couple with whom she is staying, to visit the Hall for afternoon tea in the coming week and to bring their guest along with them. Lady Mathom informs the Appletons that she knew Jennifer’s mother once upon a day and would dearly love to meet her daughter. Jennifer’s mother has never even mentioned Lady Mathom to her. Jennifer is terrified of the forthcoming meeting. She would have been nervous at any invitation to tea from so powerful a figure as Lady Mathom and what she has learned of late of this woman has done nothing to reassure her. She is convinced that the great lady of Mathom Hall must be a despotic monster.
Her other problem of course is that she doesn’t have a thing to wear or at least nothing suitable to wear in a Duchess’s parlour. In panic she begs leave to visit Brawton, the nearest large town to buy something suitable to wear. In Brawton she has the most astonishing revelation yet. She visits a small but exclusive boutique called “Pixie’s” and falls in with the proprietress, a kind and gentle woman called Rachel to whom she tells her tale of her invitation to Mathom Hall. Rachel takes a shine to Jennifer and, recognising something of her takes her under her wing. She recommends a beautiful dress in gold and brown that matches Jennifer’s chestnut locks perfectly. It is far too expensive for Jennifer however and she protests. Rachel insists however and to Jennifer’s surprise gives her the dress as a gift. Not only does she gift Jennifer the dress but she also provides a pair of shoes and incredibly a chain of amber beads for a necklace to accessorise the outfit. Jenifer’s protests are useless and when she enquires why Rachel has been so generous Rachel explains that she knows Lady Mathom intimately and once held a position in Her Ladyship’s household equivalent to that of the four girls Jennifer has met.
Jennifer wants to know more and so Rachel closes the shop and takes Jennifer out to dinner at an Italian restaurant. There Rachel tells Jennifer the most incredible story she has ever heard of Rachel’s earlier life as a sexually abused d**g addict who was captured by Mathom Hall and imprisoned naked for six months in the vast cellars beneath the Hall emerging at last, restored to health and as a slave to the mistress of Mathom Hall. Rachel’s description of her imprisonment and life as a prisoner of the Hall is vivid and shocking but Rachel recounts it calmly, not with resentment but with gratitude, and she still considers Lady Mathom her mistress.
Jennifer is appalled at this dreadful tale yet fascinated at the same time but Rachel has even more terrible revelations to make. It is at this meeting that Rachel first explains to Jennifer the culture to which she belongs. It is an ancient secretive culture known among its people as the Line or the Line of the Goddess. The Line is not merely a sub-culture Rachel explains; it is an identifiable physiologically differentiated sub-race of human beings with specific characteristics that set it apart from main stream humanity. Rachel calls such people Alpha-Sensual humans or enhanced human beings characterised by their greatly enhanced nervous systems, high physical abilities and superior immune systems. They are notably long lived and of highly superior intelligence. Rachel explains the theory that the Line grew out of a fortuitous genetic mutation in the distant past and has propagated itself slowly ever since.
Rachel also explains that the Line has maintained its own culture and values throughout its long history of covert infiltration of society. For instance multiple extended polyamorous marriages are common within the Line and Jennifer is astounded to hear that Rachel has three wives and two husbands. Families form up into dynasties and inter-marry and form alliances all the time. Slavery is indeed an institution of the Line but it is a rigidly controlled practice with its own Byzantine codes of ethics and customs. Families usually sell their c***dren into slavery in their teens and the f****y owning them has high responsibility for them until they are then sold into marriage in another f****y or are elevated to the status of full f****y members themselves. Rachel explains that Alpha-Sensual people grow up in different ways to ordinary people. They may reach normal physical maturity in their late teens but mental and other characteristics of Alpha people do not begin to reach full maturity until much later and thus people of the Line are not considered suitable for marriage until in their mid to late twenties or even later. Fertility is a problem since they only breed slowly but greater longevity, a longer fertile life, the practice of extended marriage and an inherent promiscuity seems to act as a counter balance to the low fertility rate.
Alphas, Rachel tells, Jennifer are highly sexed, nearly always bi-sexual and intense in their relationships with each other. Jennifer thinks of her relationship with Julie and begins a little to understand, the more so as Rachel explains that Jennifer is almost certainly a pure bred Alpha-Sensual herself. Her mother was, Rachel tells her and a powerful one too. Whatever the reasons for this curious syndrome, Rachel says, it is a fact that the Line pervades many human cultures and insidiously infiltrates itself within those cultures whilst keeping itself yet apart and true to its own laws and morality. The Line is a powerful hidden f***e with human society and Lady Mathom is not merely a member of this Line but its titular head, the Empress of a far flung empire of the Goddess.
Bemused and not a little disturbed by this conversation Jennifer awaits the fateful day when she must meet the Lady of the Great Hall herself. She is not aware of it but things are happening within the confines of that edifice. To begin with the four girls that Jennifer has met are wildly excited about the forthcoming interview since being close to Lady Mathom they are aware that her interest in Jennifer is not entirely altruistic. Lady Mathom herself also eagerly awaits the meeting. The truth is that all is not well at Mathom Hall nor has it been for a long time. Lady Mathom’s own marriage collapsed in tragedy twenty years ago and since then the House of Mathom has undergone a slow decline. Where once the Lady of the Hall lived surrounded by her wives and husbands Lady Mathom has lived on alone in quiet solitude. The old slaves’ wings wherein the pampered high slaves of the House have their residence was once home to dozens of vibrant young men and women but now they are sadly reduced. The girls’ wing houses now only four slaves and the boys’ wing has fallen into disuse altogether. Lady Mathom sees in Jennifer the means by which she may rejuvenate her House. She is determined to capture her.
Part of the reason for this Jennifer learns through a chance encounter with the beautiful Rebecca. Rebecca has taken a great interest in Jennifer and has researched the reasons for her mistress’s fascination with her. She has uncovered a terrible truth and reveals it to Jennifer. Jennifer is by now aware that her mother was intimate with Lady Mathom but she is shocked beyond words to learn that in fact her mother was married to Lady Mathom; that Lady Mathom almost considers Jennifer as her daughter by marriage.
Lady Mathom has her own distractions. In the same week certain observatories run privately by the multi-national co-operations of the Line discover a distant space object in the outer rims of the solar system, well beyond the orbit of Pluto that seem a fulfilment of an ancient prophecy of the Line. The object is on a long cometary orbit that will bring it within the inner solar system within the next century. If the prophecies are to be believed then the close approach of the object will spell judgement day for the Line and possibly for humanity itself. Lady Mathom must needs put her House in order. A day of reckoning approaches.
Finally Jennifer meets Lady Mathom with her guardians, the Appletons, for tea at Mathom Hall. It is one of the most defining moments of Jennifer’s life. She knows that Lady Mathom must be old for she knows that she was not a young woman when her mother knew her before she was born and there are strong hints that she is present even in the oldest memories of the valley’s inhabitants. She is prepared therefore for some forbidding ancient dowager matriarch, probably domineering and a tyrant of her household. Her first encounter therefore with the high mistress of the Hall astounds her. Lady Mathom she would swear was no older than her early thirties at the most but most of all she is simply the most beautiful woman that Jennifer has ever cast eyes upon in her life. Her slim body is almost perfect and she wears a mane of shining jet black hair from her exquisitely fine featured face to her slim waist; a matchless sheen of glossy perfection unsullied by even the hint of grey. But it is the eyes that captivate Jennifer for they are pure purple in colour; great orbs of fathomless depth and wisdom shining out hypnotically from beneath graceful arched eyebrows. Jennifer takes one long look into those charismatic windows of sagacity and enchantment and falls in love forever. It is Jennifer’s first chance to see the incredible interior of Mathom Hall and all its treasures and also, since they take tea out on the enormous back veranda of the Hall, her first glimpse of the extraordinary manicured landscape of the vast parklands of the Hall. Jennifer has no eyes however for any of this since her gaze is transfixed on the grand mistress of all this enchanted realm. She is a joy simply to watch; graceful and elegant; her every movement harmonious and as carefully choreographed as a ballerina’s dance. Her movements are seductive and perfectly measured and the low timbre of her voice a sheer pleasure to the ear. She is electrifying and Jennifer begins to understand the thrall that this woman holds over her minions. This is a woman that people will be prepared to die for.
Lady Mathom takes Jennifer aside from the party ostensibly to show her a sculpture crafted by Jennifer’s mother in the grounds. Holding Jennifer’s hand she explains that she considers Jennifer a c***d of the House of Mathom and that this fantastic place is Jennifer’s home. Jennifer is entranced, unable to tear her eyes away from this extraordinary woman. Lady Mathom tells her that they must talk. She must come one day to the Hall privately to take dinner with her. They have much to talk about. In the meantime she will write to Jennifer’s mother. There are things to be decided.
In the days following this meeting Jennifer is torn in two. She realises at one level that she is being asked to surrender her freedom to the woman she privately calls the “Witch Queen of Mathomdale” and her free spirit rebels at the thought. On the other hand she is captivated by Lady Mathom and can barely wait to be in her presence once more. Julie is of little help in this conundrum for she is frightened of Lady Mathom and terrified of losing her beloved Jennifer to the enclosed world of Mathom Hall; a domain forbidden to her. Jennifer is torn between her choices and even more so since she has grown close to Rebecca from the Hall; a girl who ardently desires Jennifer to come to reside in the Hall.
Whilst Jennifer agonises Lady Mathom takes some decisive decisions. She consults through correspondence with Jennifer’s mother; her estranged wife to ascertain her wishes and then sets into motion a series of events designed to capture Jennifer. She has another few cards up her sleeve. For one thing there is her son Robin. Jennifer first encounters Robin whilst on one of her hikes in the upper valley when the hot weather lures her into the indiscretion of bathing naked in a pool in the river. She hears someone approaching and in fright scuttles off to hide in a bush. The person approaching is Robin and he is also tempted by the cool inviting water, stripping off to bathe whilst Jennifer cowers naked in her bush unable to take her eyes off the handsome man disporting nude in the river. At the meeting with Lady Mathom Jennifer meets Robin a second time; her blushes betraying her earlier distant intimacy with him. Robin misinterprets these blushes and takes them for the innocent blushes of a lovely girl charmed by his presence. Jennifer’s shy blushes are irresistible and, much to Lady Mathom’s exasperation, Robin instantly falls in love with her.
The complication is that at this time Robin is somewhat rebellious and resentful of his mother’s control. That and Jennifer’s obvious growing attachment to Rebecca are both a challenge and an opportunity for Lady Mathom; the grand mistress of manipulation. She hatches a plot to form Robin and Rebecca into an unassailable partnership to lure Jennifer into the Hall. First she must tame Robin. She uses the pretext of one of Robin’s rebellious outbursts to lose her temper with him and order him to confine himself in the prison section of the cellars at her pleasure under the supervision of the guardian of the cellars Sebastian. She then orders Rebecca to the cellars as well but keeps them apart. Finally she goes to the cellars herself and diabolically bends Robin to her will. First she seduces her own son and then she orders Sebastian to whip her whilst Robin watches. Robin is horrified watching his mother’s agony and he finally intervenes to order the whipping stopped. Lady Mathom is content. Robin has taken responsibility for her care and protection and she has chained him inexorably to her will. As he cares for her and blubbers his love for her she begs him to go to Rebecca and take her beautiful slave as his lover. Robin is inexperienced with women but he obeys his mother.
Rebecca is anything but inexperienced and in a beguiling night, naked in the cellars together, she teaches Robin the fundamentals of love. It is Robin’s first woman and their love-making continues throughout the night. By morning they are devoted to each other yet still beglamoured of Jennifer. To seal the bonding Lady Mathom tells them to take a car and go for a short holiday on the coast together. It is a marvellous week for them and they make tentative future plans to marry; a future that vaguely includes the auburn haired Jennifer they both adore.
In the meantime Lady Mathom increases the pressure on Jennifer herself. One night Jennifer and Julie are enjoying each other’s company in the Mathom Arms when they are approached by Margaret, the landlady, carrying a white rose. It is a symbol Margaret explains. Jennifer has been nominated for the symbolic role of “Mathomdale Queen” at this year’s summer festival. It is a ceremonial function presiding over the festivities; giving out prizes and heading processions and so forth. Margaret is economical with the truth here for the role has many aspects that would shock Jennifer. The festival queen is chosen by ballot from among the nominees and, in a deviation from the normally feminine domination of the valley, only men are allowed to vote. It’s a lot of fun Margaret explains and she’ll have a great time. Jennifer is not so sure. She perceives rightly enough the hand of Lady Mathom behind this initiative and realises a sacrifice is demanded of her. Her choice is stark. She either leaves Mathomdale to go to university at the end of summer or she stays and staying might mean servitude to Lady Mathom. By nominating her for the role of festival queen Lady Mathom has put her in an dilemma. For one thing she is liable to win the position. Few people are going to go against Lady Mathom’s chosen favourite. Once elected as ceremonial queen Jennifer knows that the bonds tying her inexorably to Mathomdale will be tightened. The position has a high symbolic value and it is not lost on Jennifer that her mother once held the same role and is much remembered in the valley for it. Julie is wildly excited by the idea and urges her to take the symbolic rose to the festival committee and accept her nomination. Unable to deny her beloved’s wishes Jennifer resigns herself to her fate and accepts but she feels the entrapment closing about her.
At Bolswick Bay on the coast Robin and Rebecca are basking in their new-found relationship when they meet a remarkable lady. Her name is Eugene Collette and she introduces herself as the head of a modelling agency on the look out for fresh talent. Eugene, it turns out, is a lady with a somewhat chequered past. She is a former cabaret artist and model herself although the kind of shoots she has featured in would not be the kind one would readily show one’s grandmother. She runs a modelling agency and a nightclub in Hamburg and generally sounds a very wicked lady albeit a remarkably beautiful one. Eugene however is more than she seems to be. In fact she is a highly trained field intelligence agent working on behalf of the co-operations of the Line and is in fact in Bolswick Bay seeking out Rebecca whose own doctoral researches have uncovered a can of worms concerning Alpha-Sensual paleontology that have flagged up security alerts at a massive scientific research facility in Switzerland, run by the Line, for which Eugene is the head of security.
But modelling is Eugene’s other passion and she wickedly persuades the gorgeous Rebecca to pose for some photographs for her along the beach in a secluded cove under the cliffs. Rebecca is hopelessly exhibitionist and agrees readily and Robin is quite excited by the prospect of his new girlfriend posing for some naughty pictures along the beach.
The photo shoot is every bit as raunchy as Eugene can contrive but it gets even saucier through another chance encounter. Although the little cove is well secluded a young newly married couple, Daniel and Alice, come around the headland in their bathing suits and catch the little scenario in full flight. Daniel is delighted with the sight of Rebecca cavorting naked for the camera and his wife thinks the whole thing rather glamorous and exciting herself. Eugene gives them her card and then looks at Alice carefully and asks her if she’s ever considered modelling herself. Alice currently works as a cleaning girl in a hotel, a shockingly inadequate utilisation of her considerable assets, and the idea tickles her fancy. Urged on by Eugene, her husband and Rebecca Alice agrees to join the shoot. The result is startling to say the least. As Alice joins Rebecca on the sand before the camera Rebecca ruthlessly seduces her and the two make love for the camera before their astonished men-folk’s eyes.
Whilst everyone is catching their breath disaster strikes. Unnoticed by anyone the tide has flooded and now they are cut off on a rapidly shrinking shoreline with the tide rushing in. They have no choice but to attempt to scale the imposing steep cliffs above. It is a dreadful climb and Rebecca who has sacrificed her sari to help tie Alice to Robin’s back has to climb the cliff naked. Alice Daniel and Eugene successfully complete the climb but at the very top a momentary carelessness sees Rebecca lose her grip and fall. A superhuman effort from Alice saves Rebecca from almost certain death on the rocks far below as she leans out and grabs Rebecca’s hair at the moment she loses her grip. With a concerted effort Rebecca is hauled over the edge of the cliff and the party fall into each other’s arms in mutual gratitude for their salvation. A bond is formed on the cliff tops and Alice and Daniel depart to their rented honeymoon cottage with promises to meet again the next day in Saltersea for lunch with Robin, Rebecca ns Eugene. Rebecca walks back serenely along the cliffs stark naked with Eugene and Robin in tow.
That night Rebecca’s infinite capacity for extracting the maximum amount of erotic pleasure out of a situation reaches new heights and Eugene shares a night of uninhibited domesticity with the two lovers. At dawn on the cliffs Eugene reveals her true purpose to Rebecca as they watch the sun come up out of the sea. Eugene tells Rebecca that her presence is required by the end of summer at the “White Mountain” research facility in Switzerland and that her mistress has agreed to this. Rebecca is devastated. She has never left the shores of England in her life and rarely strayed much away from her beloved Mathom Hall in that time. Moreover the implications of her research frighten her and it seems as if the cosy world of her slavery is coming to an end.
In the meeting with Alice and Daniel the next day Robin invites Alice and Daniel to Mathom Hall. Both Robin and Rebecca now know that their new friends are Alpha-Sensual humans although unregistered ones; people unaware of their own heritage. Rebecca speculates idly on what reward her mistress will give them for saving the life of one of her valuable slaves. Eugene offers Alice the chance to do a photo-shoot for a lingerie magazine in Hamburg and Robin suggests that if Alice and Daniel are looking for a house in Bolswick Bay then the House of Mathom might well be able to assist them with the finances. A glittering future seems to have opened up for the newlyweds.
The same cannot be said of Jennifer still agonising over her position in Mathomdale. With the vote for festival queen now only days away she feels increasingly trapped and uncertain. Julie is wildly excited about the vote but Jennifer’s stomach turns over every time she thinks of the high profile role she will be obliged to play at the festival if she is unlucky enough to win the vote. She is even more horrified at the prospect the more she learns about the festival. She had assumed it would be a quiet rural affair confined to the valley’s inhabitants but in fact the Mathomdale fair is a major gathering of people of the Line from all over England and beyond and tens of thousands of visitors are expected. She quails at the thought.
She has an inclination of it on the day the votes are counted. This in itself is a major event and a minor festival itself and it seems as if the whole of Mathomdale has converged on the village of Mathom for the announcement of the results. It is Jennifer’s first exposure to huge public interest and she only manages to cross the packed square and take up her position on the terrace of the Mathom Arms overlooking the square with the considerable assistance of Rebecca and Julie. The whole village is in festival mode, hung about with bunting and with food stalls and beer tents doing a roaring trade around the square. Erected in the middle of the square is a large podium for the dignitaries of the festival committee, the valley council and no less a personage than Lady Mathom who will be arriving to ceremonially crown the elected queen with the traditional tiara of her office. Jennifer meets the four other girls whose nominations have survived until the final vote. Two of them Sarah and Janet are slaves of a large mill owner in the valley. Another is Claire Rosemont who, until Jennifer’s entry into the running was the favourite to win the title. She regards Jennifer with unalloyed hatred. The final nominee is a green-eyed, lovely, shy blond girl called Debra who is a slave to the Waterstone household, a prestigious house in the upper valley.
Inevitably, to Jennifer’s horror and dismay, Jennifer wins the title by a country mile. She has become popular in the valley and the matronage of Lady Mathom is decisive. In resignation she picks her way through the cheering crowd to accept the tiara from Lady Mathom who looks strangely proud of her. Back on the veranda of the Mathom Arms Jennifer glumly accepts the congratulations of all her friends including the four slaves of Mathom Hall who have joined her for the festivities. There is one serious buffet being laid out but nobody is allowed to touch it until to everyone’s surprise Lady Mathom crosses the square to join them; a most rare occasion. Lady Mathom only stays briefly to take a morsel of food and to congratulate Jennifer but before she goes she gives Jennifer a letter that she has received from Jennifer’s mother for her.
Once Lady Mathom departs the village erupts into an almighty party and the square becomes a large dance floor. All the girls drink more than is good for them and Jennifer dances with Robin and half the other males of the valley who fancy their chances it seems. Late into the night Robin collars a very tipsy Rebecca and conveys her home. A limousine turns up for the rest of the Mathom Hall girls and they commandeer it, knowing the chauffeur and order it on a somewhat scenic route home with Jennifer and Julie in tow. Fuelled by a champagne Abigail, Heather, Helen, Julie and Jennifer stop the limousine in a quiet country back road and, while the young chauffeur amuses himself with his girlfriend in the front seats, the five girls engage in the sort of sybaritic overindulgence that would have Jennifer’s father, the Reverend Walstow, denouncing his own daughter from the pulpit.
At last the limousine delivers Jennifer at home at the Appleton’s where Julie is staying for the night as well. Julie is hopelessly d***k by now and Jennifer has an awful time getting her into bed. Finally with Julie snoring gently in Jennifer’s bed Jennifer remembers the letter from her mother and opens it. It is the most appalling letter Jennifer has read in her life. Her mother tells her that her marriage has broken up and that she and the Reverend Walstow must part their own ways. The Reverend will go as a missionary to Africa and she will depart on some mysterious mission of her own. The home that Jennifer has always known will therefore no longer be there. There is worse. Jennifer’s mother asks her to be very grown up and tells her that in fact the man that Jennifer has always considered her father is not her father biologically at all. Her true father is long dead but Jennifer should still revere the Reverend as the man who raised her as his daughter. Since she has no home to return to Jennifer’s mother has made provisions for her future. Jennifer is faced with two alternatives. Either she can go to university endowed with a small fund her mother has made available for a modest living or she can contemplate the other alternative and one which her mother urges upon her.
Her mother informs Jennifer that, in the last days she has negotiated with Lady Mathom for Jennifer’s papers of indenture. This means that Jennifer would take up residence at Mathom Hall and be bound in servitude to the mistress of the Hall. She could still go to university but now she would be bound to Mathom Hall and it would be there where she would have her permanent address. She would be bound by oath to be completely obedient and loyal to her mistress and be willing to subject herself entirely to her wishes. In return she would be nurtured and protected and want for nothing. Jennifer’s mother tells her that Lady Mathom is paying a fortune for her and that a great future awaits her if only she dare take the shackles of servitude to the raven haired mistress of Mathom Hall. As the words sink in Jennifer realises in horror her mother’s overall plan. She had not sent Jennifer to Mathomdale to avert scandal in her home town at all. She has sent Jennifer to be sold as a slave to Lady Mathom.
This then ends the first book of the current trilogy in the saga. Early in the second book Jennifer returns to Mathom Hall to dine with Lady Mathom. In this second meeting Lady Mathom, over long discussions, spells out the conditions of Jennifer’s slavery in detail and asks her to think it over and return in a few days to give her answer. These are gloomy days for Jennifer. She has lost her f****y and all the bedrocks of her former life. She harbours fantasies about leaving Mathomdale and going to university alone anyway but that will mean leaving behind the people she has come to love and the only people she has left in the world now. For a while she entertains the dream of a little bedsitter somewhere in the city with her beloved Julie; free together, but she knows it to be an illusion. Julie will not leave the comforting certainties of her valley and she would be miserable in the city. Julie is in any case distraught believing that she will lose her Jennifer whatever the outcome despite Jennifer having extracted from Lady Mathom a promise that she will still be allowed to see Julie.
Eventually Jennifer bows to the inevitable and sadly makes her way back to Mathom Hall to declare herself Lady Mathom’s slave. Lady Mathom surprises her for she makes her present herself before her in her underwear and chastises her. Jennifer expects to be told to go to the wing reserved for the high lady slaves of the Hall and take up residence there but instead Lady Mathom has her stripped naked and orders her other girls to take Jennifer to the cellars there to be incarcerated for the rest of the week. Jennifer is baffled and upset; more forlorn than she has ever been in her life in fact and bitterly rues the web of entrapment that has lead to her torment in the awful dungeons below the ground of Mathom Hall.
That then brings the story up to the section I have chosen for you. I’m sorry if this resume has been so long but it is a long and complex novel and this is but the briefest summary of its many convolutions. In the following few chapters Jennifer starts to learn the true meaning of what it means to be a slave of the House of Mathom; to belong to the elite sorority of the “Slaves of the Amethyst”, Alice and Daniel arrive at the Hall and have their own lives changed by the experience and a miserable Julie, missing her darling Jennifer, suddenly finds her own life becoming more complicated too.
I hope this helps the reader to understand this story better.