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Authors: Jennifer Jane Pope

Tags: #historical erotica, #slave girl, #jennifer jane pope

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BOOK: The Devil's Surrogate
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Isobel de
Lednay could barely suppress a grin of triumph as she followed the
maidservant along the wide corridor and down the stairs into the
cellar. Bressingham was a fool, and an arrogant one at that, and
soon she would enjoy taking his money from him, of that she had no
doubt.

She knew the
Grayling estate quite well, having played here as a child with
Ellen, and she had also seen two of these curious hunts before, so
she knew well enough that although eventual capture was inevitable,
the more resourceful quarry - whether dressed as birds, or deer or
rabbits - managed to evade it for the better part of two hours, let
alone one hour, and these were simple slave wenches probably
terrified out of their wits and not thinking clearly, if they were
capable of thinking at all.

Besides, the
fact that they had endured hardships in their lives did not
necessarily make them better fitted for running. Isobel had four
brothers, two older and two younger, and she had learned to run and
ride with them almost from the day she had first been able to walk.
As an adult she was expected to follow more decorous pursuits, but
she was confident she could still move fast enough to outwit a
drunken dullard like Bressingham, in fact, she had just done
exactly that.

She was also
curious to know what it felt like to be set loose in one of those
bizarre costumes, which were quite revealing and yet which showed
little more than she would willingly display above her bodice at
any social gathering. And did not the ladies of the French court
bare their breasts as a matter of fashion?

Oh, yes
, she told herself as she and
her escort entered a room with a low ceiling at the end of the
subterranean passageway,
this should be
quite good fun, and there'll be a handsome payoff at the end of it
to boot!

 

James
Calthorpe raised his head slowly above the top of the hedge, and
peered across the deserted graveyard in the direction of the
church.

Behind him,
stooping low, Hannah Pennywise growled with frustration. 'What do
you see?' she demanded.

James looked back down at the top of her head. 'Nothing,' he
whispered, 'nothing at all. The church looks as if it's empty, and
there is no one amongst the tombstones, at least no one I can see
from here, but they could well be watching from the windows, and
one man up in the bell tower could see the countryside for miles in
all directions... ah, yes!' he hissed as he caught the first sign
of movement. 'Yes, there
is
someone up there. I see only a shadow, but there
is movement for sure. Yes, there he is again. A sentry for sure.'
He ducked and slid down the few feet of embankment at the foot of
the hedge. 'There's no way we can get close in daylight,' he
affirmed. 'If what I heard is true and he now has more men with
him, then I fear even with darkness as our ally any attempt to
break in there would be doomed to failure.'

'Then I must
pay the villain what he demands,' Hannah muttered.

'But what if
he takes your gold and then kills you?' James said. 'He needn't
even kill you outright. He could as easily buy testimony against
you as Wickstanner must have done against Matilda.'

'Not if he
thinks there's more where this came from.' Hannah held up the small
leather pouch and jingled the contents.

'And is
there?'

The old woman
snorted. 'Oh, aye, aye, there's more, but whether it's enough for
the likes of him, especially if he thinks he doesn't have the lot,
who's to say?'

'Then you
cannot allow yourself to fall into his clutches,' James declared.
'I'll go to him with an offer, half the gold now and the other half
when he releases Matilda, and he can send an emissary to confirm we
have the rest of the money.'

'A good idea,'
Hannah agreed, 'but not you. Not you, nor me, for if he seizes
either of us, then our numbers are cut in two at a stroke. No, we
must find another to take the message and the gold, though not
half, not to begin with. We'll send one fifth of what he first
asked for, to show our good intent, and I think I know just who to
despatch on such an errand. We'll send him during the funeral.'

'Yes, even
Crawley would think twice before doing anything untoward before the
entire village,' James agreed. 'Perhaps we should ask my father to
take the message. His standing is such that—'

'No, not if
Crawley already knows of your association with my Matilda,' Hannah
cut him short. 'He might not dare to actually try to seize your
father, but it would be better not to take the chance. No, I have a
far better messenger in mind. Now, come lad,' she urged, turning
stiffly, 'give me your arm until we're out of this lane. The ground
here is so bad that I fear for my ankles and knees, and if I don't
get some liniment onto them afore long, they'll surely seize up
completely.'

 

'But this is
preposterous!' Isobel stood defiantly, her cheeks blazing under the
bird mask, as she sought in vain to cover her naked sex with wings
designed not to come completely around in front of her body due to
the tightness of the feathered jerkin between the shoulders, and
its stiffness in the elbow joints. The maid who had dressed her
stood waiting quietly, leaving things now to Grayling, whom she had
summoned upon the red-haired noblewoman's insistence.

'But you
agreed to the terms, my dear Isobel,' Grayling purred. 'You agreed
you would be prepared exactly as the other girls have been.'

Isobel glared back at him, and then down at the strap with its
attached tail and at the two dildos lying on the floor between
them. 'But there was no way I could know about... about
those!
' she cried. 'That
stupid girl there even tried to push them inside me, and oh... oh,
Roderick, you know I had no idea, and you can make just one small
allowance for an old friend. I can make it worth your while later
after supper.' She tried to give him an encouraging smile, but the
mask hid most of her features so it was largely a wasted
effort.

'I count
two
allowances,' Grayling smirked, bending to scoop up the
offending items. He appeared to examine them as if seeing them for
the first time. 'Besides,' he added, 'whatever I say, Wormley will
declare your wager lost, which will annoy those people with money
riding on you, and Bressingham will certainly call
foul.'

'But he need
not know!' Isobel protested. 'He surely won't expect to examine me
in such—'

'Probably
not,' Grayling interrupted her, 'but he'll surely ask me to, and
I'll have to give my word as a gentleman.'

'Pah, some gentleman
you
are, Roderick!'

'Perhaps it
would be better if I did this for you?' Grayling suggested. 'I seem
to remember a time not so very long ago...' He smiled.

Isobel held
her defiant pose, but she knew when she was beaten, and she also
knew Roderick was taking a certain amount of pleasure from her
humiliation. He would certainly not let her off the hook, which
would mean loss of face for her in front of all their friends,
especially those who would lose their money if she did not carry
the bet through. 'Very well,' she said finally, 'you do it, but
first you can get on your knees and kiss me down there, as you've
done willingly enough before. And then you can get some spittle on
those beastly things, for I'll not have them in me dry, not unless
you want to rip me in two, you awful beast, Roddy Grayling!'

 

On the inside
of the fence, the woods seemed as quiet and deserted as on the
outside. Paddy had sawn through the selected paling with deliberate
care, although to Toby, crouched watching and listening a good
fifty yards further along the boundary, each saw cut had seemed
abnormally loud, and he had been sure that at any moment the
Grayling keepers must come bursting through the trees.

'You've not
been this far in lately, I suppose?' Paddy whispered as Toby padded
up alongside him. 'It might be just as well if you went back now
then.'

Toby shook his
head firmly. 'No,' he said, 'I'm staying with you. I'm the only one
who knows what Miss Harriet looks like, don't forget, and anyway,
who says I ain't been in here lately.'

'You mean you
have?'

Toby nodded,
smirking. 'That fence was intended to keep out the likes of you and
Mister Kelly here. Someone my size can find several places where
the rails are far enough apart not to need no sawing. Don't you
worry, sergeant sir, I knows my way around these woods well enough,
at least to within a distance of the house, and I also knows where
the keepers patrol usually.' He pointed off to the right. 'There's
a pathway runs from one end to the other just down there a-ways.
It's wide, wide enough that Lady Ellen sometimes takes a trap ride
along it, or at least she used to. The keepers use it to ride their
horses; saves them doing too much on foot, see.'

'Makes sense.'
Paddy nodded. 'So, which way is the house from here, left or
right?'

'Just to the
left,' Toby said, 'but it's a good couple of miles and the
undergrowth is a bit too thick if we try to go in a straight line.
Best way is to find that main path and then head off into the trees
a bit and follow it for about a mile that way.' He waved an arm to
indicate a direction further to the left. 'Round about there
another path goes off towards the house. It's a bit winding, but we
can follow a straighter line through the trees as they ain't
anywhere near as thick there.'

'What about
the keepers?'

Toby shook his
head. 'Can't be sure,' he replied. 'Usually they stay out near the
fence, waiting to catch anyone trying to get in, but there ain't so
many of them this time of day as most poachers work at night.'

'Aye, we know
that, Toby lad,' Sean Kelly grinned at him, 'but these sods ain't
just watching for poachers, methinks, so we'd best watch our steps
carefully.' He looked down, and gave his musket an affectionate
pat. 'We'll just have to show these English bastards how these
things are really done, won't we, me darling?'

 

What had at
first seemed to her like an adventure and an easy way of taking
money off that idiot, Guy Bressingham, was now taking on the
proportions of a nightmarish ordeal, as far as Isobel de Lednay was
concerned. She cursed herself for her foolishness - for not being
more sure of her facts, and for not fully understanding what the
bird-girls were expected to endure. The twin dildos lodged inside
her now seemed to mock her carelessness as she followed the
maidservant back out into daylight, where she was received with a
round of applause that was as much ribald as it was
appreciative.

Isobel would
have readily delivered a torrent of castigating abuse at her
supposed friends, but the gag - yet another refinement she had
failed to consider - prevented her from uttering anything beyond an
incomprehensible grunt, and she was determined not to give
Bressingham, or any of the others, the satisfaction of realising
the full extent of her helplessness. Her eyes narrowed behind the
mask and she vowed to exact a suitably vindictive revenge on her
former lover, Grayling, as soon as the opportunity presented
itself.

Grayling
himself, having performed the duty of inserting the dildos, had
left the maid to gag Isobel and was thus already back on the lawn
when she made her entrance. He nodded at her, and then at one of
the grooms, who immediately took charge of her and guided her to
the other bird-girls. She bit deeply into the gag and steeled
herself to walk as naturally as the weighted boots and the two
invaders permitted, fighting back the small spasms that every step
triggered inside her.

Damn Roddy
, she thought, and damn
herself for being so stupid. Even the boots had come as a shock
when she tried to walk in them for the first time. Outwardly, they
gave no indication of the way in which they were weighted, and for
the first time she began to doubt herself, for the footwear
presented a handicap she had not bargained on. Yet if these stupid
peasant girls could stay free for over two hours, and occasionally
even longer than that, then she could certainly evade capture for
the required hour. She would then be released to claim her prize,
and to savour Bressingham's defeat for the rest of the day and well
into the evening.

 

'You know what
you have to do, Billy Dodds?' Hannah Pennywise leaned close to the
young lad's face and peered into his eyes.

He stared back
at her, his unblinking eyes plainly reflecting his awe of her.
'Yes, mistress, don't worry none, I can do this as well as Toby
would have, maybe even better.' The news that Toby Blaine had
disappeared somewhere - and nobody was saying where the boy had
gone, only that he was not expected back for several hours - had
come as a blow to Hannah. Toby was a bright lad, sometimes too
quick with his lip, but dependable and honest enough, if you didn't
count poaching the odd rabbit or two, which nobody in their right
mind would. Billy Dodds, usually all but inseparable from Toby, was
the obvious substitute, the only real alternative, Hannah knew, and
she hoped the lad was even half as bright as his friend. 'You do it
just after they lower the coffin, you understand?' she
repeated.

Billy nodded.
'Yeah, I hand the bag over and give him the note and tell him I'll
be outside the inn an hour later. That's it, isn't it?'

'Yes, that's
exactly it,' James said reassuringly. 'Everything else is in the
note, so all you have to do is deliver it and then get away and
come back here to the cottage. I'll be watching, and so will most
of the village, so you won't be in any danger.'

BOOK: The Devil's Surrogate
4.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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