This is a print version of story Slaves of the Amethyst (part ten) by Mikebasil from

Slaves of the Amethyst (part ten)

Chapter Sixty Five.

Lady Mathom eyed Helen critically as the girl cleared the breakfast dishes away the next morning. She was pleased by what she saw for, having imposed no dress restriction on her young slave this day, she noted that Helen had dressed in a most becoming fashion in a pretty light pink and lilac summer dress and matching shoes she had not seen before. The girl lit up the outer chamber of Lady Mathom’s private quarters and Her Ladyship, already deeply involved with the backlog of paperwork on her desk, was grateful for the little radiance that her pretty slave brought to alleviate the morning drudgery. “I see Helen that you put the bonus on your allowance to good use on Saturday. That is a very fetching ensemble you’re wearing.”
Helen blushed happily “Why thank you My Lady! I’m pleased that you like it.”
“You’ve had your hair done as well. I noticed it yesterday. It’s most attractive. I was getting bored with your old style.”
“Thank you My Lady and thank you for the bonus.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it Helen.” Helen flushed with pleasure at the memory. With a thousand pounds at their disposal she and her twin s****r had gone on a shopping binge the likes of which would go down in legend. It had been enormous fun for them but it had been pure purgatory for poor Andrew who had been designated as their driver for the day. They’d made him drive their limousine around seemingly every shop in the city and the harassed young man had been called upon to give his opinion on a bewilderingly endless collection of garments and accessories and pressed into service carrying handfuls of shopping bags out to the car. Only when the two girls had disappeared under the mysterious portals of the hairdressers for a couple of hours had he been able to get away for a coffee and a chance to check up on the latest football results. By the end of the day they’d had little change left out of a thousand pounds and they’d put a considerable backward stagger in their winnings from their investment on Jennifer in the stakes for Festival Queen as well.
“Excuse me ma-am,” said Helen “When will we be able to see Jennifer? We bought some presents for her.”
“At the end of the week all being well Helen. She has some surprises from myself as well so she’ll have a nice reward for her endurance in the cellars to look forward to. All of you are excused from duty on Saturday night so you can have a little party to welcome Jennifer to the Hall.”
Helen’s face lit up with glee. That was going to be one party for the record books! She wondered if Rebecca would be amenable to the idea of getting her video camera out. “Thank you ma-am.” she remembered to say, “We’ll look forward to it.”
“I bet you will. Anyway that will be all for the moment. I’m expecting Dr Chandra this morning. Would you tell Mr Carmichael that I’ll receive her in here?”
“Yes of course My Lady.” Helen curtsied and left.
Lady Mathom smiled and returned to her work, the chore not half as onerous as it had been. Shortly afterwards Thomas Carmichael entered to announce “Dr Chandra My Lady.”
“Thank you Thomas. Show her in if you would and perhaps fetch us some coffee.” Thomas ushered in the brisk efficient looking Asian lady and Lady Mathom regarded her with pleasure. She was an attractive petite Indian woman dressed in a business like lady’s suit. Her face was an almost perfect oval crowned by deep black hair and her eyes were so dark they appeared almost black against the warm olive tones of her skin. She made a formal bow of obeisance in Asian fashion with her hands flat against each other before her.
“A good day to you My Lady.”
Lady Mathom rose with a smile and took her hand “And a good day to you Akuti. It’s a great pleasure to see you again. It’s been too long.”
“The denial of a beloved fruit only makes it sweeter when one reacquaints oneself with its flavour My Lady.”
Lady Mathom laughed, “I see you have not lost your propensity for flowery speech Akuti. Come; sit for a moment my little princess. Thomas is bringing some coffee. How are the c***dren?”
“Very well My Lady. Thank you for asking.” Over coffee Lady Mathom inquired about Akuti’s extended f****y, large even by the standards of the Line. She was particularly interested to know about the well being of one of Akuti’s husbands called Abhay. Abhay belonged to the Line’s military caste and he had been wounded in a conflict battling the Line’s adversaries in Afghanistan the previous year. Lady Mathom had placed a private aircraft at Akuti’s f****y’s disposal to fly him back to England where he was thankfully on the road to full recovery. Abhay was the holder of the coveted award of the Swords of the Goddess, first class, and had lived up to the name his parents had bequeathed him proudly. Finally when the formalities of respectful inquiry had been exhausted Akuti donned her professional persona.
“I believe My Lady that you have a new slave that you wish me to examine.”
“Yes that’s correct Akuti.”
“And where is this worthless girl My Lady?”
“In the cellars currently Akuti. Would you mind examining her there?”
“By all means. Why is the miserable wretch confined to the cellars? Has she displeased you?”
“No Akuti she is simply under instruction.”
“Very wise My Lady. It is always best to show a newly bought slave who bears the whip from the very beginning. It will save much disagreeable confusion at a later date.”
“I recall that you were not of the same opinion when you were first in the cellars and being acquainted with the fact Akuti.”
“Ah My Lady that was long ago. Nevertheless I did learn and the lesson has not been forgotten. My wisdom has grown slowly since then, as slowly as a walnut tree.”
“A walnut tree?”
“Yes My Lady. The more you beat a walnut tree the more fruit it will give you.”
“Indeed Akuti? Well perhaps we ought to be careful just how great our wisdom grows lest it poison the shoots of new learning that spring up in its shade.”
Dr Chandra laughed and conceded the game to her Mistress. “Ah My Lady I should know better that to bandy words with you! I shall attend to the young shoot immediately.”
“Just one more thing Akuti. If you have the time I would like you to have a look at two other new slaves, that I have a mind to acquire, whilst you are here.”
“Very well My Lady. Are these others also in the cellars?”
“No you may examine them in the upstairs clinic. How long will you require to examine the first girl?”
“How thorough do you wish me to be My Lady?”
“Very thorough Akuti. The young lady in question is costing me a great deal of money. The other two don’t require so intensive an examination but I want her examining in detail.”
“I shall be meticulous then My Lady. If the girl is flawed in any way then you will know about it and your investment will be safe with me. Shall we say about two hours then?”
“Excellent. I shall summon the other two to the upstairs clinic at twelve sharp. I would like to be present for that examination. I’ve had the chance to look over the girl in the cellars but not those two. When we have completed our examinations perhaps you would join me in a late luncheon. You’ll be able to present a preliminary report on their condition then.”
“I would be delighted My Lady although of course the laboratory findings will take a week or two longer.”
“Of course. Do you wish Thomas to e****t you to the cellars?”
“I have trodden those steps frequently enough for my feet to find their way unaided My Lady.”
“Good. Until later then.” Dr Chandra took her leave and Lady Mathom settled once more to the business of running her empire.
A little later in the clinic in the cellars Dr Chandra regarded the nervous figure of Jennifer, standing to attention, somewhat sourly. Dr Chandra had bowed politely to Rachel but had ignored the bow, which Jennifer had been taught that morning, and instead turned to address Rachel. “So this is the miserable slave is it?”
“Yes Doctor. This is Jennifer.”
“And you are telling me that our Mistress has paid a small fortune for this?” Dr Chandra waved a contemptuous hand in Jennifer’s direction.
“Yes Doctor. She has an impeccable pedigree apparently.”
“Hmmph! Well it is not evident at first glance I am obliged to say! The girl is all skin and bones! Hardly a muscle on her by the looks of things. I do hope that our Mistress has not made a poor choice in purchasing her. Still we shall take a look at her.” The doctor turned to Jennifer and barked, “Stand up straight girl! Your posture is execrable!” Jennifer froze at rigid attention under the scrutiny of this small but formidable woman, her eyes fixed glassily at the wall. “How old are you girl?”
“N…nineteen Doctor ma-am.”
“Great Goddess the wretched wench is trembling like a leaf!” Dr Chandra observed. “Is this the comportment of a slave of this House? This modern generation is completely hopeless! In my day such a quivering jelly wouldn’t have lasted five minutes! If I were you my lady Rachel I would have her thoroughly flogged for her spinelessness.”
“She will be soundly whipped this afternoon Doctor you may be assured.”
“Good!” Dr Chandra opened her bag “Well we’d better take a look at the specimen such as it is!” For the next two hours Jennifer was subjected to the most intrusive and humiliating medical examination of her life. Dr Chandra rarely spoke to Jennifer directly except to bark orders and questions at her and instead addressed all her acid remarks and observations to Rachel. For Jennifer the two hours were a nightmare and only the surety of the scorn it would bring prevented her from breaking down in tears. It seemed as if there was no part of her that was not kneaded or probed, no bone or muscle not flexed and no orifice not explored. The doctor took bl**d samples, cervical swabs, skin samples and hair samples. Jennifer even had to squat over a bowl to provide a urine sample with the doctor drumming her fingers impatiently. She was subjected to a thorough dental test and at least that brought a grudging grunt of approval whereas most of her body seemed to elicit comments of disappointment and tutting clicks of outright disapproval. Dr Chandra kneaded her breasts quite roughly, examined her eyes with an ophthalmoscope, peered deeply into her ears and listened long at her chest with a stethoscope. She took Jennifer’s bl**d pressure and tested her reflexes then she had Jennifer go through a five minutes of strenuous activity and tested her all over again. She had Jennifer sit in the gynaecologist’s chair and examined her with mounting irritation over Jennifer’s embarrassment.
“Does Her Ladyship know that this slave has lost her virginity?” she asked Rachel sharply.
“I believe so Doctor.”
“Goddess! I can’t think what our Mistress is thinking of! How she is to recoup her investment I can’t imagine. She can’t even sell the girl’s virginity! Not that such a mousy specimen would command a high price of course.” Jennifer blushed with shame, which earned her a “Stop blushing girl! I’m certainly not the first person to have probed you down here! Now stand up and bend over! I want to conduct a rectal examination.” Jennifer obeyed fearfully as Dr Chandra donned rubber surgical gloves with a brisk air that left Jennifer in no doubt that the coming ordeal would not be a light one. There’d been tests of her eyesight and hearing and all sorts of other tests which Jennifer was unable to fathom the purpose of. There were also high technology tests for the clinic was fully equipped with up to date medical apparatus. She was ultra scanned and x-rayed and the doctor also subjected her to a strange battery of tests involving skin pads with electrodes on various parts of her body. She also connected her to a chest oscilloscope and had her repeat her exercises. There was another small examination that Jennifer couldn’t understand when Dr Chandra examined her hair and lifted it at the back to trace a finger down her neck to the first few vertebrae of her spine.
At long last Dr Chandra repacked her bag and put away all the specimens she’d taken and Jennifer’s ordeal was over. Jennifer had never felt more degraded and the doctor’s parting comments made her feel as if she was the most miserable specimen of humanity imaginable. These comments were of course directed at Rachel. “Well that will be all for now. I have two more slaves to examine. I sincerely hope that they are an improvement on this one! I suppose it’s a seller’s market for the moment and Her Ladyship has to take whatever she can get but the quality of slaves on offer nowadays is shocking. Still make sure that she gets thrashed regularly and perhaps something can be done with her. I can find my own way out thank you my lady.”
Rachel accompanied Dr Chandra as far as the dining chamber in any case and returned to find Jennifer sitting devastated in the little clinic. “Whatever’s the matter Jennifer?”
“That horrible woman! She made me feel as if I was nothing! Like a flea bitten mongrel or something!” Jennifer was close to tears.
“Really? I thought she sounded quite pleased actually.”
Rachel burst into laughter “Jenny, Jenny! Dr Chandra was the doctor that examined me when I first came here and if you think she was rough on you then you don’t know the half of it! When she’d finished doing a number on me I thought they were going to throw me out with the garbage! Don’t worry about it honey. It’s just our dear Doctor’s inimitable style. She’s quite a nice person in a non-professional capacity. She’s also a very good doctor Jennifer, specialising in Alpha Sensual medicine so please respect her even if she is a bit acerbic at times. Come along and let’s grab some lunch.”
Jennifer wasn’t the only person to have her feathers ruffled by Dr Chandra that day. Alice was still fuming as she and Rebecca drove down to the village for a late lunch. Daniel was eating lunch with Mr Coleman, the Hall’s head of building works. “I tell yer summat Becky, if’n ‘Er Ladyship ‘andn’t ‘ave bin there I’d ‘ave slapped the bl**dy bitch!”
Rebecca laughed over Jet’s wheel and shook her head. “You would have regretted it Alice honey! Don’t underestimate darling Doctor. Small as she is she would have broken your arm for you! I’ve seen her pick up somebody who massed twice her weight and throw them across the room like a bean bag!”
“Well fancy sayin’ me tits were like a cow’s udder!”
“Cows are sacred where Dr Chandra comes from!”
“Aye well that’s as maybe but I’m fussy about who gets ter worship my tits!”
“I think Robin’s already erected a shrine to them!”
“Anyway it was nowt to what she did ter poor Danny!”
“Oh Goddess. What did she do?”
“Only started fannin’ around with ‘is you know what till ‘e gets a stalk on!”
It took all of Rebecca’s control to keep Jet on the road as she burst into a peal of laughter. “No seriously?”
“Straight up! Poor lad looked like ‘e wanted t’ ground to open up an’ swallow ‘im!”
“And the Lady was there too?”
“Aye! Watchin’ everything wi’ great interest!”
“Oh this is brilliant! What did Dr Chandra do?”
“Just reached out and felt it. It were t’ only time she looked pleased. I thought she were gonna measure it!”
“Stop it Alice! Please! I’ll have us off the road if you tell me anymore!”
“bl**dy ‘ell though Becky we didn’t know what ‘ad ‘it us when we got t’ orders to be in t’ clinic at the double! We walks in an’ there’s Lady Mathom and that bl**dy quack! No good day or owt just “Strip!” and we ‘ave ter shuck us kit off! Danny wanted ter keep ‘is underpants on but she weren’t ‘avin’ none o’ that! Just says, “Have you got something unpleasant to hide young man?” and ‘e ‘ad ter drop ‘em!”
“What did the Lady say?”
“Bugger all to us! She just discussed us wi yon foul female like we ‘ad nowt ter say about t’ matter!”
“It sounds authentic Alice. I’ve had the misfortune to be on the end of one of Dr Chandra’s exquisite diagnoses myself. She put me through every humiliation she could think of bar giving me an enema and she’d have probably done that if she could have thought of a good excuse for it!”
“D’ yer what she says ter t’ Lady about me?”
“Go on.”
“Well she feels me ‘ips and looks at me privates an’ only turns round an’ says though I might be deficient in other respects at least I should be a good breeder for ‘Er Ladyship! Oo the ‘ell does she think I am? A bl**dy prize sow or summat? Mind you I thought t’ Lady were on t’ point o’ pissin’ ‘Ersen laughing! It were tekkin’ a right struggle ter keep ‘Er face straight yer could see.”
“I can understand that! I’m sure the Lady just uses Dr Chandra for devilment. I think she rather enjoys these little amusing interludes in the day’s routine.
“Anyway thank ‘eavens that’s ovver wi’. Where are we meetin’ Julie?”
“We’re picking her up at her shop. Then I thought we could drive up to Marveaux Abbey. There’s a lovely little country pub there that does nice lunches.”
“You got Jennifer’s letter with you?”
“Yes. Rachel had it sent up this morning. Listen when we meet Julie keep it all sweetness and light Ok? I need your help on this one. We’ve got to reassure her that everything is just dandy. If she asks about the Lady just tell her what you think. We’ve got to get this irrational fear of hers out.”
“Got it Becky. Yer worried about this lass aren’t yer?”
“Yes Alice. Yes I am. Julie’s always been a bit of a complication Alice. I don’t think the Lady or Jenny’s mentor, Rachel, really approve of Jenny’s relationship with Julie but we have to deal with it because Jenny’s devoted to her. Then again, so am I now, and well…. it makes things complicated. We’ve got to see where Julie fits into the pattern. The other thing we’ve got to do is sort out Julie’s medical problems.”
“Well fer ‘eaven’s sake don’t be sending ‘er to awd “Chunterin’ Chandra” there! If she ‘as got summat wrong with ‘er then that awd bitch’d probably ‘ave ‘er put down!”
“No I think we’ll find another solution to that one! Listen we might have to er… comfort Julie a little bit. She’ll be missing Jenny something rotten.”
“I’ll pat ‘er ‘and for ‘er don’t worry Becky.”
“Erm we might have to pat rather more than that Alice.”
“D’ yer mean….. ?”
“Well yes. Would you mind?”
“Not me Becky! I’m startin’ to acquire a taste for t’ lasses! Yer a bad influence love!”
“It won’t be a terrible chore I assure you. Julie’s a little bombshell!”
Julie was waiting for them at the shop door and she was looking her best today. It was quite posh to be invited out for lunch by the girls from the Hall and so Julie had donned one of her best Sunday dresses on her mother’s insistence. It was longer and more modest than Julie’s usual attire and quite grown up giving her a more mature look than she normally managed. It was a lovely duck egg blue with a pattern of darker blue on it and Julie wore dark blue shoes and belt to accessorise it. She even had her wavy blond locks tamed with a blue ribbon and she looked a picture standing on the edge of the square, albeit a self conscious one, clutching her handbag. Rebecca was pleased to see Julie looking so nice. Both she and Alice were elegantly dressed for a warm summer’s day. Before leaving the Hall Alice had been introduced to the Lady’s dress code. She had been a bit confused when Rebecca had come to fetch her from the chambers allotted to Daniel and her and insisted that before they went out to the garage they must first present themselves to Lady Mathom.
“Why does she need ter see us Becky?” she’d asked “I mean I only saw ‘Er an ‘our ago.”
“Yes dear but we’re leaving the Hall and she has to vet our appearance.”
“But why?”
“Because that’s the rule Alice and since you are now a slave of this House you have to live by the rules. So don’t argue. Here let me fix your hair a bit.” A few minutes later they’d presented themselves to Her Ladyship on the big back veranda. Dr Chandra had just left her.
“Very nice girls.” Lady Mathom had told them “However Alice that colour nail varnish clashes with your dress. Please go and remove it and replace it with a softer colour. A light pink would be far more appropriate than that shade of scarlet.” Alice had realised that protest was useless and they’d been delayed whilst she conformed to her Mistress’s wishes. It had felt odd this inspection but, as Rebecca had pointed out, it was the rule. Every time that Alice looked at her nails now she seemed to see the fetters of her bondage in them. Rebecca had quailed when Lady Mathom had singled out Alice’s fingernails. It was not unknown for her to forbid a person from leaving the Hall for such a minor infraction or even, if the mood took her, to administer a punishment for it. But she seemed in a good humour today and willing to allow some leeway to a new and untrained slave.
Lady Mathom was in a good mood. Dr Chandra’s report on her newest acquisitions had pleased her greatly. The doctor had been concise in her first impressions of Her Ladyship’s newest coffle of slaves. “I was impressed with the slave Alice.” She’d said. “She seems a healthy and buxom girl although a little too much so in that latter regard for my tastes. I thought at first that she might belong to somewhat vulgar Alpha stock but there are characteristics of quite high lineage about her. I would suspect that there is some hybridisation with non Alpha genes in recent generations but she certainly retains enough Alpha to be considered nearly true bred. She has highly developed auditory senses as her hearing tests showed and extremely good tactile sense. Her ocular acuity is well up to the Alpha range and she is finely endowed with sensory awareness. Her muscular power is potentially great although I found her reflexes a little slow for an Alpha. She does have very good eye to hand spatial awareness and her hands are certainly among her better features. Very long tactile fingers and a fine flexible bone structure. You told me that she was a fine piano player. I can well believe it. She is obviously just starting her Alpha emergence, which is rather late given her age. I don’t necessarily believe that it is altogether a bad thing for Alphas to mature late. I often find that it is a sign of high latent ability. Obviously the girl needs training however and there is a shocking absence of evidence to that end.”
“She was raised in a non-Alpha environment Akuti.”
“Ah that would explain it. The faster she is brought behind the Line the better My Lady. Still there are encouraging signs. The girl certainly has spirit! She reminds me a little of your slave Rebecca. There’s a feisty side to her nature that I rather like although I wouldn’t let it get too predominant. Personally I’d have her whipped enough to keep her in line but not so much as to break her spirit. All in all though, given proper training and development, there is absolutely no reason why she should not become a valuable asset to your household. Aesthetically though you ought to stop her dying her hair blond. She would be far more attractive in her natural colour.”
“Yes I concur. What did you make of the young man, her mate?”
“Not at all bad. He’s clearly not completely pure bred and the Alpha line in him is quite a way off the main lines I would have thought. Nevertheless he is a robust and vigorous young specimen with enough Alpha sensory capabilities to make him a worthwhile slave. Personally I wouldn’t pay a huge amount for him but he’s certainly worth a modest investment. You tell me he comes as part of a potential breeding pair with the slave Alice. Taken together they are definitely a good all round package. He seems reasonably intelligent and I was impressed with his deportment. Physically he is very sound as is his mate. Both of them have high quality cardio-vascular and respiratory functions. I noticed that he has very good coordination and fine spatial awareness. He’s strong too and virile by all appearances. I’ll be able to tell you more about both of them when I see the test results from the lab. Oh yes one thing I didn’t have time to test was the male slave’s fertility. Would you be so kind as to send me a sperm sample My Lady?”
“I’ll send one around to your surgery by courier as soon as possible Akuti. Now what about the girl Jennifer?”
“Ah My Lady! Now she is quite a different matter. Absolutely prime thoroughbred stock! I see you haven’t lost your eye for a top-notch pedigree. I’m not surprised that she cost you a lot of money ma-am. She’d be worth a mint on the open market, straight off the top of the Line My Lady. It’s been a long time since I was privileged enough to have examined such a prime specimen. Nearly perfect in every regard although I’d put a bit more muscle on her if I was you. She has ultra fast reaction speeds, very high sensory capabilities, terrific bone structure, natural grace and a most pleasant temperament. She’s potentially very capable physically as well with good balance and coordination but she needs very intensive and careful training. Her sensory awareness is almost scary although she needs to be watched very carefully. She’s a very high-strung sensitive pedigree and just beginning her maturation process. You were most wise to have her put in the cellars for a time to keep an eye on her. She seems to have learned a little control as such but it is going to have to be reinf***ed. She has a powerful sex-drive and obviously superior intelligence. She seems a bit shy and timid but that is one very superior young slave you have there My Lady. You wouldn’t consider an offer for her by any chance would you?”
“Your f****y couldn’t afford her Akuti!”
“No possibly not. A shame. I’d love the chance to raise a highbred young filly like that. If she produces any young please consider us as in the market.”
“I will bear it in mind.”
“You really ought to put one of your sons to stud on her My Lady. Any possible offspring would be highly superior.”
“The thought had occurred to me Akuti.”
“Well if you’ll excuse me My Lady I really must return to my surgery. Thank you for the lunch.”
“And I thank you for your time Akuti. Please make any suitable adjustments to your bill for examining the other two when you make it out.”
“That is one thing I am most unlikely to forget My Lady. The Goddess be with you Lady.” All in all Lady Mathom had been most pleased with the day’s work so far.
In the car going up to Marveaux Abbey Rebecca was complimentary on Julie’s appearance. “Why you look lovely Julie! That dress suits you!”
Julie blushed and said “Me mam bought us it ter go ter me cousin’s weddin’ last spring. I aven’t worn it since. She said if’n I was goin’ out with you two I ‘ad ter look me best.”
“Well you do. I’ve never seen you look prettier. Don’t you think so Alice?”
“Aye ah do! Yer look a treat Julie.”
“You two look drop dead an’ all.” Julie observed.
Alice laughed “Aye well me an’ Becky’s ‘ad the Lady Mathom treatment Julie! I didn’t believe Becky when she said we wouldn’t get out of t’ ouse unless we was dressed just perfect. Ah do now though! It were touch and go anyway. She med me go an’ change me nail varnish an’ ah think if I’d so much as opened me gob to argue the toss I’d be confined to quarters right now.”
“I thought you was just a visitor like, Alice.”
Rebecca chimed in “Alice entered Lady Mathom’s employ last night Julie.”
“Oh! Oh ah see. Are yer movin’ ter Mathomdale then Alice?”
“Well not permanent Julie. We’ll be working part time up at t’ ‘All but me an’ Dan’ll still be livin’ in Bolswick Bay. Still it sounds like we’ll be up ‘ere a fair bit so we’ll get ter see a bit of each other. Dan’s gonna be doin’ some buildin’ work on t’ ‘All an’ T’ Lady wants me as extra domestic ‘elp like.” Alice’s diplomatic version of the facts had been well primed by Rebecca’s warnings.
“Ow long are yer stayin’ this time?”
“Just till Thursday Julie. I ‘ave ter fly ovver to ‘Amburg on Friday fer a modelling contract.”
“What yer mean yer a model?”
“Not yet I’m not. This’ll be t’ first time I’ve done it. It’s for a lingerie magazine an’ I’m bricking it truth be told.”
“Lingerie? Yer mean saucy undies and the like?”
“Aye all see through bits an’ bats, naughty basques, suspenders, little thongs and wot ‘ave yer.”
“Sounds great! Mind yer’ve got t’ figure for it. Yer’ll ‘ave to bring us a copy to show us.” Julie was looking at Alice enviously. It sounded like a very glamorous existence to her. Jetting out for an international modelling contract no less. Julie was impressed. Nothing anything like as exciting as that ever happened in her life. Once again she felt the curious exclusion from the elevated lifestyle of the Mathom Hall girls. She didn’t have time to dwell sadly on it however because they were approaching Marveaux Abbey.
Mathomdale with its curious inwardly turned culture and the all-encompassing influence of Mathom Hall was not a valley that was very oriented towards tourism. Indeed it almost seemed to actively discourage influxes of visitors. There were barely any hotel rooms in the entire valley for one thing and no campsites, heritage centres, car parks, official picnic grounds, tourist offices or any of the infrastructure to sustain a tourist industry. The cognoscenti that occasionally visited the valley had long lamented this obvious lack. Whilst they appreciated the unspoilt beauty of the valley they nevertheless bemoaned the lack of facilities within it. Mathomdale’s authorities made not the slightest effort to correct this failing. The valley did not advertise its natural beauty and breathtaking scenery. There were no hiker’s guides and properly marked trails. There wasn’t even so much as a glossy brochure advertising the valley. You couldn’t even find postcards with views of the valley. Mathom Hall and its extensive grounds itself was virtually unknown outside of the valley in spite of being one of the most extraordinary country estates anywhere in Britain. Some developers had tried in the past to edge into the valley and open up its untapped potential for tourism only to clash headlong with the brick wall of obduracy represented by Mathom Hall and its near monopoly of the land and business within the valley. In truth Mathomdale didn’t need the revenue from tourism. The wealth of the House of Mathom ensured a general prosperity and security throughout the valley and its inhabitants were mostly quite content with that. Mathomdale pulled an obscuring mantle of inaccessibility over itself from which the general mass of the public was subtlety excluded.
Nevertheless the people who did discover the valley and were prepared to make the effort to overcome the obstacles raised against its exploration would have told you that there were few places left in England of such exquisitely nurtured unspoilt loveliness. There were corners of the valley that seemed almost perfect in their rural idyll and the location of Marveaux Abbey higher up the valley certainly fell into this category. It had been an old Cistercian monastery growing from humble roots in the twelfth century before expanding in its richer days to an imposing Gothic artifice of wealth and influence until the cataclysm of the Reformation had ended its days in the sixteenth century. Now the old Abbey was a stark yet hauntingly beautiful collection of ruins gracing the meadows by the upper river, in a sheltered hollow of the valley with the fell sides towering above. The tiny village of Marveaux had grown up in the shadow of the old monastery and the discerning eye could detect that many of the houses in the little settlement were in fact built from the stone quarried from the Abbey’s ruins following its fall from grace. The little tavern, “The White Monk”, lay on the edge of the village and its back lawns let onto the old grounds of the Abbey. A tiny brook bubbled under a little stone bridge by the pub to let into a crystal clear pond that itself drained into the main river. Some said the little pond was one of the fishponds the monks had once maintained to supplement their diets.
There were numerous legends about the old Abbey. It had once been a focal power point in the region and its history was one of a curious co-habitation and occasional competition with the House of Mathom that represented the other kernel of power within the valley. In that strange and dynamic relationship the Great Hall had ultimately proved ascendant and now the Abbey grounds were owned by Mathom Hall and the ruins maintained almost as a curiosity, a garden of peace and contemplation, held in trust for the inhabitants of the valley. The chanting of the monks and the sounds of their bells had disappeared forever and now there was just the rippling note of the streams and river to harmonise with the secluded tranquillity of the Abbey ruins.
Alice looked at the scene from the old wooden table she was sat at with pure pleasure. “It’s just lovely ‘ere!” she said. And it was. The pub didn’t have a garden as such just a few rough but solid oak tables and benches on the grass outside the back entrance with the wild flowers growing between the legs.
“Aye it’s nice ‘ere” agreed Julie. “Me mam an’ dad offen come up ‘ere fer a meal. It’s bin a while since I were up ‘ere though.”
Rebecca was rummaging in her handbag. “Oh Julie I have a letter for you from Jenny. Here it is.”
Julie’s eyes were alight “Did she get mine then?”
“I delivered it directly to her hands personally as I promised Julie. Look you be reading her letter and Alice and I will go and get some drinks.”
“Aren’t we goin’ to order food?” asked Alice “I’m starvin’! All I’ve ‘ad’s me pill since breakfast.”
“Er we’re a bit early yet Alice.”
“What? Aren’t they doin’ food yet?”
“No they serve food all day here in the summer. No it’s just that well…. all right I have a confession to make. I’ve invited a friend along and she said she could be here by three. It’s nearly that now so do you mind if we wait.”
“Oo’s the friend Becky? Julie asked.
“You remember Debra Clark from last Saturday at Jenny’s election? Well she lives up this end of the valley and doesn’t seem to get out much so I thought I’d phone her up and see if she’d like to join us for the afternoon.” Julie was amenable to the idea. She liked Debra. It seemed a good idea to invite the pretty blond haired girl out. What Julie didn’t discern was Rebecca’s covert motives for inviting Debra. Actually Rebecca was being rather clever. She realised that Julie was so fixated on Jennifer that her enf***ed absence from her was tearing the poor girl apart. She’d noticed at the village party at the weekend the affinity that Julie and Debra had for each other and she’d decided that they were both just what each other needed. Julie needed another friend for when her beloved Jennifer was unavailable and the bubbling companionship of Julie was just the thing to tease Debra’s retiring nature out into the open.
Debra in any case led far too sheltered an existence. She was owned by a Mrs Eleanor Waterstone, a rich landlady with some considerable holdings in the upper valley. In fact Eleanor Waterstone was of the Line of Mathom and her landholdings were in reality held in trust by her for the House of Mathom. Her household was in point of fact, really a daughter house of the Mathom Line and Mrs Waterstone acknowledged the Lady of Mathom Hall as her Mistress. She had three young women currently bonded in servitude to her of which Debra was the newest having joined her household some six months earlier. Debra enjoyed her servitude in the beautiful upper valley but there was no doubt that it was a restricted existence for it was well off the beaten track and even a journey down the valley to Mathom was a considerable undertaking without the use of a car. It was a considerable odyssey on a bicycle and there were few buses to the upper valley. Debra had been delighted when Rebecca had phoned her up offering the prospect of some different company for the day and it was an honour to receive an invitation from a high slave of Mathom Hall. She’d run along to her Mistress and politely requested the afternoon off. Eleanor Waterstone was a kindly woman and to be truthful she had been worried that Debra was not getting out enough. Her other two girls both had friends from the lower valley but Debra didn’t seem to make friends easily through her innate shyness and she was often left alone in the small manor that was the Waterstone residence. Her isolation didn’t seem too onerous to Debra for she was a girl comfortable with her own company but Mrs Waterstone considered it unhealthy and was more than pleased to grant her young charge leave to socialise with the girls from the Hall.
An excited Debra had spent considerable attention to her appearance and dressed in white and lime green. She’d even gone to the trouble of wearing an emerald pendant her mother had once given her that matched the colour of her eyes, which were one of her most entrancing features. She was not a vain girl but she’d shivered in pleasure when her Mistress had complimented her on her appearance and given her leave to dance out of the house in joyful anticipation of a pleasurable day. Before she left the house she paused to kiss a little white square of linen that had lately held pride of place on her dressing table. It had the initials J.W. embroidered on the corner. Jennifer had wondered what had become of her handkerchief during the festivities on the village square the Saturday before last.
In fact even as Rebecca was inside the pub ordering drinks Debra turned up. Julie thoroughly approved of Debra. She was aware of what Debra thought of Jennifer but, far from being jealous, Julie actually considered this to be a point in Debra’s favour. Anybody who adored her beloved Jennifer had to be all right in Julie’s eyes. Also there was a simple wholesomeness to Debra that Julie found attractive. She had less of the occasionally intimidating feminine allure and highborn manners of the Mathom Hall girls and Julie found it easy to talk to her. Thus she greeted the young girl warmly and exchanged s****rly curtsies with her after Debra had bounced up in excitement to the little pub. Rebecca and Alice returned from the interior, carrying drinks, to find Julie and Debra already engaged in conversation.
After the formalities of formal greetings and the acquiring of a drink for Debra the four girls sat around the rough wooden table to enjoy each other’s company in the afternoon sunshine. “I’m so glad you could get away for a few hours Debra.” Rebecca told her. “Did your Mistress give you permission?” Rebecca was fishing for information. She had a fascination for the regimes under which households other than her own held their slaves.
“Yes Rebecca. I don’t think it’s likely that she would have withheld permission however. Not when she knew that a Mathom Hall lady invited me directly. That’s tantamount to an order isn’t it?”
“Your Mistress thinks that?”
“Oh yes. In fact I think that if she knew that I’d been invited she would have ordered me to honour the invitation and would have punished me if I hadn’t done so.”
“How odd.”
“Not at all Rebecca. Lady Mathom is Mistress to my owner and any request emanating from Mathom Hall has the f***e of command. She had me parading in front of her for ten minutes whilst she looked over my appearance before leaving the house. If I hadn’t looked smart enough to be seen in public with a Mathom Hall lady she would have strapped me.”
“Does she always look you over before you leave the house Debra?” asked Alice who, having had her first experience of the Mathom Hall regime, was interested in the subject.
“Oh no Alice. She’s not as strict in that regard as Lady Mathom is apparently. For one thing we’re a bit isolated up here and we don’t get to see many people so it’s maybe not as important. Also of course we’re not Mathom Hall! We don’t have the same reputation to maintain. Still she likes us to look our best and she controls what we look like for important events or meetings. If we go on an excursion for instance we have to be well groomed but she’s a lot more lax when we’re just around here.”
“How long have you been at Waterstone House?” asked Rebecca.
“Only about six months Rebecca.”
“Do you like it here?”
“Oh yes mostly. The countryside is beautiful up here and it’s ever so peaceful. It just gets a bit lonely at times, being so cut off and all that. I miss company.”
“Don’t you get on with the other girls in the house then Debra?” Rebecca wanted to know.
“Oh of course. They’re both very nice and kind but they’re both a lot older than me and they’ve been here years. I’m a bit like a k** s****r to them but of course they’ve got their own things going on. They’re in a semi-formal engagement for instance and they’ve got boyfriends in Carcester so when they’re free they take their car and drive over there. Other than that there aren’t really any other people around my age up here and it’s a long flog down to Mathom so I spend most of my free time alone.”
“Oh you poor thing!” exclaimed Rebecca “You should get out more and make friends. Surely your Mistress wouldn’t object to that.”
“No Rebecca. On the contrary she’s always saying the same thing herself and she got me a bicycle so that I could bike down the valley to Mathom but its still a long way and honestly I hardly know anybody in Mathom.”
“You’ll know more people now because of the Festival Queen vote. You’ll know even more after the festival proper. You really have to get down to the village. We can’t have a lovely thing like you hiding herself away at Waterstone House.”
“Well I’d like to but I mean where do you start? I can’t just go off on my own down to Mathom and walk in the pub and introduce myself now can I.”
At this point Julie interrupted. “Well Debbie love yer don’t ‘ave ter. Don’t forget we’ve got to re’ earse for t’ summer festival wi’ our Jenny. We’re supposed ter be meetin’ up at t’ Mathom Arms ter go ovver all t’ ceremonies and what ‘ave yer as soon as Jenny gets back down from t’ ‘All. I’ll need yer there just ter ‘elp me kick Claire Rosemont’s arse fer ‘er if’n she gets uppity! I don’t know wot Jenny we’re thinkin’ off inviting that cow! Alice says she’ll be ‘ere for it an’ all so you two can ‘old ‘er whilst I tek a run up at ‘er!”
When the laughter had subsided Rebecca was serious once more “Honestly though Debbie. It’s not healthy being so isolated away from people. You do need friends of your own.”
“Well about three months ago my Mistress did talk a bit about buying a companion for me sometime or other but I’ve heard no more of it since.”
“Well if the price was right we could always flog Julie here to her to keep you company! She’s second hand but she’s had careful owners and she’s got plenty of mileage in her yet!”
“Just one flippin’ minute Miss Walpole!” Julie blustered indignantly.
Rebecca laughed and slapped Julie playfully on the knee “Relax Julie! Just joking! Jenny would never sell you anyway.”
“Where is Jennifer anyway?” asked Debra enjoying herself.
“Stuck in t’ All for t’ rest of t’ week Debbie! Becky sez she’s ‘avin’ some trainin’ wotever that means!”
“I think I can guess Julie!”
“Well yer could explain it ter me cos nobody tells me bugger all!”
Alice exchanged meaningful looks with Rebecca and changed the subject “Don’t you come down ‘ere at all Debbie? I mean to this pub. It seems right nice.”
“Yes occasionally we take a drink or lunch here since it’s our closest pub. It does get a few visitors in the day especially on weekends but at night I’m afraid it’s mostly the local farm workers in here whose social graces amount largely to the bulk consumption of draught bitter and dominoes!”
“Why’s it called the “White Monk” Debbie?”
“Oh that’s straightforward enough. The old monks of Marveaux Abbey belonged to an order that wore white habits. They were called the “white monks”.”
Rebecca laughed “You should visit us at the Hall Debbie! We’ve got some habits there too but there’s nothing white about them!”
“Anyway lasses!” said Alice decisively “Ah don’t know about you but I’m starvin’! When are we gonna order some calories?”
“Suits me!” Rebecca confirmed, “Let’s grab some menus.”
Back at the Hall Daniel had already eaten a hearty lunch of steak pie on a mound of mashed potatoes, garden peas and smothered in rich gravy in the company of Mr Coleman and his estate workers in their own hut in the builder’s yard of the Hall. It was good hearty simple fare of the kind that Daniel loved best and the conversation had been interesting and stimulating. Mr Coleman and his associates spoke Daniel’s language and the mysteries of stone facing, guttering and bricklaying were being explored in exhaustive detail. Mr Coleman had shown Daniel to the master mason’s yard where at any time there were, in addition to large slabs of masonry, paving and such, also a number of statues in for repair. “We’ve got bl**dy ‘undreds of statues all ovver ter t’ place ‘ere!” Mr Coleman explained “Statues, fountains, griffins, gargoyles, ornamental stone decorations you name it! bl**dy ‘All’s full o’ the stuff. Wuss than a bl**dy cathedral! See that flippin’ statue ovver there?” Mr Coleman pointed to a large sculpture of a naked woman on horseback. “Supposed ter be Lady Godiva or summat. Anyway it’s fallin’ ter bits an’ some ‘ow we ‘ave to put it back inter shape. Soddin’ thing weighs nearly eight ton an’ we ‘ad ter shift it in ‘ere fer repairs. It’s one of t’ Lady’s favourites though so Goddess ‘elp us if we don’t do a good job on it. An’ that’s just one o’ the flippin’ things needin’ seein’ ter! Yer never catch up on all ter t’ work there is ter be done around a place this size. We’ve got all t’ pavin’ to replace on t’ west veranda and that’s a bl**dy nightmare in itsen! Me stomach turns ovver every time ah think about that job! Then there’s t’ bl**dy roofin’ on t’ clock tower needs lookin’ at. I ‘aven’t even thought about ‘ow we’re gonna get t’ scaffoldin’ up on it! There’s ‘alf a dozen jobs wot want doin’ on t’ front façade and then there’s kitchens ‘owling about their bl**dy drains day in day out! Well Ah were only born wi t’ normal ration o’ two ‘ands! I’ll tell yer though Danny lad, yer won’t be wantin’ fer a bit o’ work around ‘ere! ‘Er Ladyship tekkin you on’s t’ best thing ‘as ‘appened in ages. We could do wi’ t’ elp an’ no error!”
“Yer can rely on me Mr Coleman! I’ve allus wanted ter work on an old ‘ouse like this.”
“Call me Stan lad. Only ‘Er Ladyship calls us Mr Coleman and that usually when I’m up on t’ carpet fer summat or other!”
“Is she ‘ard ter work for then?”
“Oh aye Danny! Don’t get me wrong though! I wouldn’t work fer nobody else now. Yer’ll not find a better boss. She’s generous and allus ready to reward yer when summat pleases ‘er. But there’s no doubt she’s a perfectionist. Everythin’ ‘as ter be just so or ‘eads roll! An’ don’t try pullin’ t’ wool ovver ‘er eyes either! She’s forgotten more about this ‘ouse than most people ever learn. But stay on t’ right side ov ‘er an’ she’ll back you up an ‘undred percent. Get t’ basics right and do yer best an’ she’ll turn a blind eye if yer think that nice bit o’ marble there‘d look good on yer front patio. She don’t believe in muzzlin’ t’ ox wot treads the corn!”
They walked over the eaves of the hall, perched dizzily high above the grounds whilst Mr Coleman tapped various parts of the structure with his stick pointing out outstanding needed maintenance work. “T’ brickwork on them chimneys needs shoring up and some o’ this tilin’s in a right state. We ‘ad a storm up ‘ere last October and we was up ‘ere fer weeks puttin’ all t’ damage ter rights. Wuss bit were when some o’ t’ tiles on ‘Er Ladyship’s young lasses wing came off an’ there was watter getting’ down inter their quarters. Well them lasses is t’ apple of ‘Er eye and she cracked t’ whip right sharpish till it was mended.” Mr Coleman chuckled reminiscently “Eee though that were summat! Them lasses walk around in their quarters wi’ next to nowt on ‘alf o’ t’ time and me an my young lads up on t’ roof got some right eyefuls I can tell yer! I caught young Jack slitherin’ down on ter their balcony an’ ah gave ‘im a clip that med ‘is ears ring fer a week!”
“From what I’ve seen Stan, yer did the lad a favour! ‘E’d ‘ave never got out o’ there alive! Them lasses would ‘ave eaten ‘im!”
“Aye yer right there! Still wot a way to die though!” The two men laughed conspiratorially, content with each other’s company. “Any road Danny,” Mr Coleman continued, “let’s push on. I ‘ave ter show yer some o’ t’ wallin’ in t’ kitchen gardens.” Back down at ground level Mr Coleman continued his tour guiding Daniel around the multitude of tasks facing them. Before they could press on to examine some damaged stone facing that Mr Coleman was concerned about however they were interrupted by Heather who had been sent in search of Daniel.
“Excuse me for interrupting you Mr Coleman.” said Heather politely, “but Her Ladyship requires Daniel’s presence in her chambers immediately.”
“Eh? What?” began Daniel confused “I’m just ‘avin’ a look around wi’ Mr Coleman ‘ere. What does she want me for?”
“I couldn’t say Daniel,” said Heather austerely “Perhaps it is inconvenient for you. Shall I inform Her ladyship that you feel unable to conform to her request? I’m sure she would understand!” Heather’s voice was dripping with sarcasm.
“Er no I’… I’ll come right away. Er sorry about this Stan.”
“Eee never mind lad. You just get on. If’n Er Ladyship wants you pronto then best not be ‘angin’ about!” Puzzled, Daniel followed Heather back indoors where she led him to Lady Mathom’s private office. Upon entering after the response to their knock they found Her Ladyship sat at her desk quite obviously busy.
“Ah Daniel! Thank you for attending on me.” Lady Mathom reached beneath her desk and extracted a curious small bag from which she pulled a sealed Petri dish “This morning Dr Chandra omitted one of her tests Daniel and she’s asked me to rectify that omission. She needs to conduct a fertility test on you and for that she requires a sperm sample. I have a thermally sealed bag here to chill the specimen in and one of my drivers is going to take it to Dr Chandra’s clinic.”
Daniel stared horrified at Lady Mathom. “Er sorry my Lady?”
“I said I require a sperm sample Daniel.”
“A… a sperm sample?”
“Really Daniel! I wonder if Dr Chandra conducted a thorough enough examination of you. She certainly never mentioned this hearing deficiency that you seem to be manifesting.” Daniel looked around in desperation. Heather was stood to one side her face twitching under the enormous pressure of maintaining a serious demeanour. “So if you would be so kind Daniel.”
“Yer.. I mean you mean now My Lady?”
“Yes Daniel I do mean now! I can hardly keep a driver waiting about all day whilst you seek further confirmation! Would you kindly remove your clothes and proceed to provide the required sample Daniel.”
“You mean undress My Lady?” Daniel bleated pathetically.
“That was the intended meaning of my request Daniel. Come along now young man. I’ve seen you undressed before and there is nothing to be shy about.” Miserably Daniel started to undress. Lady Mathom turned her attention back to her computer screen frowning slightly as she fingered the keyboard, obviously distracted by some pressing business.
Heather addressed Daniel with a grin “Give me your clothes here Danny. I’ll put them on this chair here.” Daniel’s mortification increased as Heather took his shirt and trousers, folding them neatly to place on the chair where his shoes and socks resided underneath. Once she had folded them she turned back to him and held her hand out, her eyes arched inquiringly. Daniel’s face was the picture of abject misery. Heather looked at him and let her eyes drift to his boxer shorts. She turned her head on one side and made a little beckoning gesture with her hand. His face blushing deep scarlet Daniel slipped his shorts off and Heather took them with satisfaction.
Lady Mathom looked up and surveyed him coolly. “Excellent! Now if you would put your sperm sample in this dish Daniel we can get it sent off without delay.”
“Ow? I mean how Milady?” Daniel’s desperation increased by the second.
“I’m sure Daniel that a young man of your age is quite aware of how to produce a sperm sample.”
“Ah… Ah can’t! Not just like that Ma-am!” Daniel had his hands clutched in front on his crotch, his penis limp and flaccid.
Lady Mathom clicked her tongue in irritation “Really men are so foolish about these things! Would you help Daniel please Heather?”
“Yes Ma-am.” Heather took the Petri dish from Lady Mathom’s desk and walked over to Daniel. “Come along now Danny! Move your hands out of the way.” Heather prised Daniels hands apart gently but insistently. Daniel was trembling in embarrassment but Lady Mathom had already turned back to her computer screen. Daniel gasped as Heather’s hand cupped his genitals and began to caress them. She leaned closer to him and smiled seductively to arouse him. In spite of his humiliation Daniel felt his penis stirring under Heather’s manipulations and spring to erection. She began to masturbate him quickly and expertly and soon he was shivering and mounting towards ejaculation, emitting small moans which he hastily stifled.
Lady Mathom did not look up but instructed Heather, “Make sure that you catch the first pulse of the ejaculation Heather. It usually contains the highest sperm count and the most mobile sperm.”
“Yes Ma-am. Nearly there I think.” Unable to hold back Daniel groaned and felt the irresistible surge of his orgasm. Lady Mathom looked up and watched amused as Heather expertly caught the strong spurt of his semen into the dish.
“Very good. Thank you Heather. Give me the dish here now so I can I’ll seal and label it. There are some warm damp flannels in the bathroom. Perhaps you could clean Daniel up.”
“Of course Ma-am.” Daniel stood there his cheeks burning with shame as Lady Mathom carefully sealed the sample, attached a small label to it and placed it in the hermetically sealed bag for transport. Heather cleaned his private regions with a warm damp cloth.
“I have Jonathon waiting with a car in the car pool Heather.” Lady Mathom said at last. “Could you take this bag to him for me?”
“Yes My Lady.” Heather took the bag and began to leave. Daniel started towards his clothes.
“You are not dismissed Daniel!” Lady Mathom informed him. “Would you come here please?” As Heather left Daniel came to stand by Lady Mathom. She was well contented. The little scenario she had just enacted had underlined Daniel’s complete subservience to her. There were an infinite number of ways of showing a slave their absolute bondage to you. “Let me have a good look at you.” She enjoyed these moments when she was able to examine a new slave for herself and she ran her hand up the back of Daniel’s thighs feeling with satisfaction the firm muscles there and the hard taut buttocks. “So Daniel have you been spending your afternoon profitably?”
“Y… yes m… ma-am.”
“I’m gratified to hear it. You’re a strong boy Daniel.” she said, exploring his musculature. “Attractive too, and well endowed.” She hefted his scrotum in her hand weighing it approvingly. “I’m most pleased to have acquired you. I think you will be a credit to this House Daniel.” Daniel stood hypnotised as his Lady handled his body. Her soft words were vibrant and held him spellbound. She granted him the boon of a smile and he felt like a young boy absurdly happy at having pleased his Mistress. She gave a short laugh and slapped him on the rump. “That will be all now Daniel. You may dress and rejoin Mr Coleman.” Oddly he felt disappointed now to be so dismissed. His embarrassment had left him. He could have stood there all day whilst his Mistress admired his body. Almost reluctantly he recovered his clothing. Lady Mathom regarded him critically. “I do understand that you are obliged to wear some older clothing whilst working with Mr Coleman Daniel but that is surely not an excuse for such an old and tattered pair of shorts under your outer dress. Would you please get rid of them and wear some more attractive and less battered underwear in future?”
“Y…yes Ma-am.” Daniel made up his mind to do so. He was quite sure that the Lady was all too likely to demand an immediate underwear inspection and he would be in no position to protest. Once he was dressed he gave a bow and started to leave only to be called back to kiss his Mistress. Once he had finally escaped there was no longer any doubt in Daniel’s mind about the extent of his servitude. Lady Mathom had branded him as her own as surely as if she had used a red hot iron to do so.
If Daniel was having a somewhat trying afternoon the four girls at Marveaux Abbey were having a lovely day. The food at the pub had been superb and after they had eaten they had taken a bottle of wine down to the Abbey ruins and lazed around on the short grass beneath the old gothic arches in deep contentment. “It seems right weird ter think that there was once a load o’ monks all walking about, where we are now, chanting psalms and what ‘ave yer.” Alice commented.
“They still do according to the locals.” Debra told her. These ruins are supposed to be haunted.”
“Really?” Alice shivered. She had a vivid imagination and ghost stories had always fascinated her. “’Ell I wouldn’t like to be ‘ere after dark!”
“Why not Alice?” asked Rebecca “You’ve been in Mathom Hall after dark and that’s reputed to be the most haunted house in Britain!”
“Yer joking!”
“Straight up! We’re bl**dy infested with ghosts! They used to have to get an exorcist in two or three times a year just to keep the numbers down!”
“Oh brill! Don’t look for me wandering t’ bl**dy galleries ov a nighttime that’s all! What sort of ghosts?”
“Well there’s the blue Lady for one. She’s supposed to be seen in the long gallery in the east wing. Then there’s a little girl who’s reputed to haunt the whispering well and the mad woodman they say they’ve seen out in the deer park.” For the next few minutes Rebecca thrilled them all with the multitude of ghost stories associated with the Hall and its grounds. Julie put in a few more stories about the general hauntings around the valley until Alice was starting to feel that the unquiet dead outnumbered the living in Mathomdale. Even Debra had a story. Waterstone House had its own ghost; a strange man in Victorian costume and a tall top hat the servants had reported seeing sat by the scullery fire late at night. Alice was quivering in a mixture of thrilled horror and deep interest. The quiet rural backwater of Mathomdale had its own excitements it seemed. She was holding Rebecca’s hand and she gripped it nervously. Sitting among the ruins she could almost see the wraith like figure of a hooded monk, dressed in white meandering his way beneath the collapsed arches by the moonlight whilst the awful black hound of the fell sides howled mournfully in the distance. She wondered what she would do if she came up against one of Mathomdale’s prodigious population of ghosts. It was a hypothetical question for Alice but far less so for Jennifer in the cellars for, whilst Alice envisaged the ghosts of Mathomdale under the sunlight at Marveaux Abbey, down in the gloom of the cellars beneath the Hall, Jennifer had just seen one.

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