Castle Tydwell
by Van

Chapter 6



More than an hour had passed since Mistress Cressida abandoned Corky in her tiny cage.  More than an hour since Corky looked up the word "immure" and learned her fate—or her possible fate—or had learned nothing at all, other than the dictionary meaning of the word.

The hour gave Corky a chance to calm down, and she had.  She was still anxious and conflicted, of course.  Okay, she was terrified and conflicted.  Her tummy butterflies had settled into a non-fluttering lump and her heart was no longer pounding.  That was something.  Having nothing to do but lie in a locked, cramped cage curled up in a naked, freckled, tousle-haired ball and fret was the main problem.

"To entomb in a wall" was only one of the meanings of "immure," and the third meaning, at that.  Also, everybody in Tydwell Castle, from top to bottom, had been very nice to Corky from day one—not counting the way the senior maids had "hazed" her by refusing to boink her like the other junior maids—and the way the Dragon Lady made life difficult with her exacting standards—and the cruel and unusual (and wonderful) things Mistress Cressida had done to her in the last few hours.  She didn't really believe Her Ladyship, the Dragon Lady, or anybody was planning to wall her up in an alcove in some secluded part of the castle—naked, in chains, gagged, with a bunch or hungry rats and hairy spiders crawling all over her, and...

"Stop it!" Corky muttered under her breath.  Mistress Cressida won't let it happen.  And they aren't going to do anything like that in the first place.  So... exactly what was Lady Jane talkin' about when she said 'the immurement?'

Just then the bedroom door opened and Corky's interlude of senseless, stupid worrying was over—either that or her worst fears were about to come true!  Corky watched as Mistress Edna (the Dragon Lady, herself) and two senior maids entered the bedroom and walked towards her cage.

"Get her dressed while I check on the Handmaiden's Hole," Edna ordered.

Corky's cage was unlocked and her fellow maids helped her crawl out and climb to her bare feet (her bare everything).  "My hole?" she whispered.

"Hush," one of the maids whispered back.  "She's not in a good mood."

"No, I'm not," Edna huffed.  Obviously, the Dragon Lady had overheard.  The House Mistress was standing before a section of wall on the far side of the bookcase.  She opened a hinged panel, revealing a doorknob set in a shallow niche, then turned the knob and opened a door—a door that Corky hadn't even noticed was there.  It was one of those "secret doors" that wasn't really secret. The frame and the door itself were flush with the wall and matched the bedroom's wallpaper and wainscoting.  Granted, the doorknob was hidden, but the door itself was not.  It was hiding in plain sight, so to speak.

What else have I been too busy to notice?  Corky resolved to examine her Mistress' bedchamber inch-by-inch the first chance she got.  She heard a rustling noise, turned her head and—  "Oh!"  Her eyes popped wide.

While Corky had been watching Mistress Edna, one of the maids had unrolled a canvas bundle, revealing it to be a straitjacket!  This particular model was natural canvas—heavy, natural canvas—with butternut leather trim and reinforcing panels, as well as a plethora of dangling straps of cotton webbing with stainless steel friction buckles.

Corky cooperated as the maids dressed her in the jacket.  What choice did she have?  This wasn't the first canvas outerwear Corky had seen at Tydwell Castle.  After all, she was a graduate of the basic training for new maids held in Training Room B and straitjackets had been a part of the curriculum.  During that particular class Corky had been a passive student, observing how to secure a guest in body-hugging canvas but not actively participating.  Anyway, the techniques Corky had been taught were now being used on her.

After Corky's arms were in the sleeves the jacket was zipped closed up the back—Ziiiiip!  Then, seven straps were buckled over the zipper's flap to reinforce the closure.  Vrrrip, vrrrip, vrrrip, vrrrip, vrrrip, vrrrip, vrrrip

They're right, Corky mused, when you're the one in the jacket, that noise is really unsettling.  And so were the accompanying tugs on the straps as the jacket grew progressively tighter.

And the jacket was tight.  It hugged Corky's torso like the proverbial glove.  She was under no delusion the canvas sheath had been custom tailored to the exact measurements of junior maid Corky O'Brien.  Apparently, somewhere in the castle was an inventory of crazy-coats in all sizes.  Either that or the jacket's more-or-less perfect fit was blind luck.  Corky's money was on the former.

Her canvas-sheathed arms were folded in the traditional self-hug, under a loosely buckled strap in the front that ran from just below her breasts to just above the jacket's lower hem.  The sleeves' left and right terminal straps slid through a pair of additional straps on either side and were buckled together behind her back.  Vrrrip.  Next, straps were buckled over her upper arms—Vrrrip, vrrrip—and through her crotch, framing her pussy on either side.  Vrrrip, vrrrip.

Corky knew what was coming next: "The Hug."

Working in concert, one maid embraced Corky from the side while a second took in the resulting slack in the sleeves' terminal straps.  Vrrrip.  They did this from either side, twice, stopping only when no discernible slack remained.  The maids then went over all of the jacket's ancillary straps, removing their remaining slack as well.  Vrrrip, etc.  Finally, the senior maids took a step back and smiled at their fellow maid.

That was Corky's signal.  She twisted her upper body and tugged on the sleeves.  It was a "courtesy struggle," proper etiquette for any distressed damsel who found herself in such a situation.  Yes, the jacket was tight.  Yes, damsel Corky was completely helpless.  Yes, the senior maids' due diligence was confirmed.

In point of fact, Corky was very helpless.  The jacket squeezed her with every breath, and the canvas was stretched taut over her shoulders, breasts, and around her arms, sides, and tummy.  The straps between her legs were also taut.  Her pussy was exposed, as was her ginger pubic bush, but from the jacket's lower hem to its leather-trimmed collar, the leather and canvas sheath hugged her body like a lovesick python.

The maids stepped forward and tucked the free ends of the straps into various pockets.  They finished by securing the velcro closures of flaps that hid the straps and pockets, then turned to face the House Mistress.

"Well?" Edna huffed.  "What are you waiting for?"

She is in a bad mood, Corky thought as she was led across the hidden door's threshold, even for the Dragon Lady.

Corky found herself in a small bedroom.  The bed was a full-sized four-poster, but its frame was of stout timbers, including a rectangular, horizontal top frame about five feet above the level of the mattress.  Style-wise, it was severely spartan.  Bondage-wise, it was a top-of-the-line deluxe model.  Steel rails were mounted on either side of the lower bed-frame and numerous steel rings dangling from the lower frame, upright posts, and upper frame.  Lash-o-rama, Corky thought.  It would take a very long time to run out of all the novel ways the bed could be used to bind a hypothetical damsel—say, Corky O'Brien—on and/or above the mattress.

The remaining furniture were a solidly constructed straight chair—two freestanding wardrobes, side by side—a dressing table, bench, and mirror—and a chest of drawers.  The bedroom was fully furnished, but in an every-expense-spared sort of way, at least with respect to style.  However, like the bed, iron rings dangled from the chair, dressing table bench, and even the heavy timber rafters overhead.  Corky sighed.  More lash-o-rama.  Light in the windowless chamber came from an overhead fixture, a double row of bulbs on either side of the mirror, and a reading lamp on a small nightstand next to the bed.

Mistress Edna took the pitiful number of steps required to reach a panel door on the far side of the room and slid it open.  Beyond was an even smaller room, perhaps better described as a large alcove, with a commode, wall-mounted washbasin, and a small shower stall with a transparent shower curtain of heavy-duty vinyl.  "None of this had been touched since the last annual cleaning," Edna muttered, "but it will do for tonight."  She left the mini-loo's pocket door open, walked to the wardrobes, and opened their doors.  The first wardrobe was empty, but hanging from pegs and hooks in the second were coils of rope, leather straps, binders, gags of various design (and severity), and heavy steel cuffs joined by chains.  "Hmm... not all of this is in Miss O'Brien's size," Edna noted, then closed the wardrobe doors.  "No matter.  There will be plenty of time to replace them before the end of the immurement."

Corky stared at the House Mistress.  There was that word again, "immurement."

Edna walked to the door leading back to Mistress Cressida's bedroom.  Corky started to follow, but was stopped with a preemptive gesture.  "Stay!"

Corky remained behind, standing in the middle of the bedroom, as ordered.  The helpless maid watched as Edna slid a set of vertical iron bars across the threshold.  The gate locked with an audible click.  Then, without another word, Mistress Edna closed the outer door.  Corky heard a key turn in a lock, and she was alone.  The lights winked out—!!!—but a pair of dim, blue-green nightlights took their place.  One glowed from somewhere inside the tiny bathroom and the second from floor level, near the bed.

"So... I'm to wait here?" Corky inquired.  There was no answer, of course.  She sighed, padded to the bed, and flopped down on the mattress on her back.  Her eyes adjusted to the near-darkness as she stared up at the bed's upper frame and the massive rafters beyond.

Obviously, the "Handmaiden's Hole," as Mistress Edna called it, was her new bedroom, attached to Mistress' bedroom for ease of service.  Also obvious was the function of all the rings and rails, rope, straps, cuffs, etc.  When Mistress decided her personal handmaiden required discipline, everything she could possibly require would be readily at hand.

"Out of the cage and into the Handmaiden's Hole," Corky mused aloud.  "And what did the Dragon Lady mean by 'it will do for tonight?'  What happens tomorrow?  And why am I talking to myself?"

Minutes passed.  Then, the door to Mistress Cressida's bedroom was unlocked and opened, and one of the senior maids slid a tray through a small, horizontal slot in the barred gate, just above the floor.  By the time Corky sat up and was lifting her feet off the bed, the outer door had closed.  She heard the lock click, again.

Corky shuffled over and knelt before the tray.  Even in the dim light she could see that it held three sturdy stainless steel bowls with flat bottoms and sloping sides.  They were pet bowls, eminently practical and just the thing for the care and feeding of dogs, cats, and helpless damsels.  The first bowl held water with a floating slice of lemon.  The second held a dozen or so pastry nuggets that were like tiny burritos or egg-rolls.  The third held bite-sized pieces of mixed fruit.  "Dinner is served," Corky sighed and leaned forward to enjoy her repast.

More pointless worrying about a possible entombment and the true meaning of "the immurement" could wait.

 Chapter 6

Naked and chained to the bondage table in Training Room B, Cressida had drifted off to sleep—but she was awake now!

Two or more maids—they were probably maids—were executing a classic Sleeping Damsel Pounce and Full Hooding.  Hands had gripped Cressida's head, but before her eyes were open and fully focused, a leather hood had slipped over her head and was being laced up the back.  During the process, rubber plugs were inserted in her ears and her hair was gathered into a ponytail and pulled through an opening in the back of the hood.  Cressida found she could breathe, so she surmised there must be an opening in the hood over her nostrils.  Mouth breathing was also possible, albeit slightly more difficult than before, so there had to be another opening over her ball-gagged mouth.

Senior maids, Cressida decided.  They've got to be senior maids.  The cranial encasement had been accomplished quickly and efficiently, with coordination and minimal wasted effort.  And spreadeagled as she was, she'd been unable to resist.  Full marks, ladies.  You do mother, Mistress Edna, and Castle Tydwell proud.  She tossed her head and tugged on her chains, a courtesy struggle.  Cressida might be angry with mother, but it would be childish, indeed, to take it out on the staff.

A steel belt clicked closed around Cressida's waist.  Like her wrist and ankle cuffs, its finish was smooth, the edges well-rounded, and it was a perfect fit.  Another gift from mother, no doubt.  Her wrist cuffs were released from their chains, she was "helped" into a sitting position, and the cuffs locked together, behind her back and to the back of the belt.  Her ankles were released next, but immediately linked together by a short, hobbling chain.  Resistance had been impossible, more evidence that she was under the control of experienced handlers.  Senior maids, she decided, assuredly.

Naked, in close chains, gagged, blind, and effectively deaf, Cressida was led from Training Room B.  A long journey ensued with many left and right turns and the repeated ascent of spiral and straight staircases.  Cressida tried to discern where she was being taken, but her handlers paused several times to spin her helpless body in circles.  The intent was to disorient her, of course.  Castle Tydwell was huge, virtually a massive three dimensional maze.  Getting lost would be easy for someone in Cressida's condition.  However, Cressida had lived in the castle all of her life (not counting boarding school and college) and she knew its floor plan by heart.  Well, ninety-percent of its floor plan.  Mother had her secrets, and there were doors barring entire sections of certain towers and areas of the lower levels to which Cressida did not have the key.  In any case, the maids' spin-the-damsel tactic had proved effective.  Cressida had no idea where she was—other than still in the castle.

There was a pause—then Cressida was led forward and eased down onto what felt like a soft bed.  The maids' hands disappeared.  Several seconds later she thought she might have heard the sound of a heavy door closing, but couldn't be sure.

Time passed.

Hooded, gagged, her ears sealed and her eyes covered, naked and in chains...  time passed.

Eventually, Cressida went back to sleep.

 Chapter 6

Morena awoke totally refreshed.  She was back in her Practice Room, under the covers of her comfortable, faux-medieval pallet.  Her chastity belt was back in place, as was the long chain linking her to the dungeon wall, but their presence hadn't interfered with her slumber.  A sly smile curled her lips.  She'd been totally exhausted when the maids more-or-less carried her from the bath and back to her dungeon, then more-or-less poured her into bed.  It would have taken a belt lined with sharp spikes to keep her awake—and the steel panties mandated by Her Ladyship remained surprisingly comfortable.  Morena's right hand slid along the smooth steel over her pussy, up and down the shield's vertical, sawtooth slit.  Comfortable and cruelly effective, she mused.

Yes, the masturbation embargo was back in effect, but Morena didn't let that spoil her mood.

Early morning light was glowing from the south-facing window shaft, the still dungeon air was pleasantly warm, and all was quiet.  Morena combed the tousled hair from her face with her fingers, then closed her eyes.  It was good to sleep in... even chained in a dungeon... a nice, comfortable dungeon.

Suddenly, Morena heard the now familiar rattle of the dungeon's outer door being unlocked.  The heavy portal of iron-banded oak opened as she sat up, and she beheld a pair of smiling maids.  One, a blond, was unlocking the dungeon's inner gate of iron bars.  The other, a brunette, was carrying a tray.  The gate squealed open and the maids entered the dungeon proper.

"Good morning," the blond said with a friendly smile.

"Good morning," Morena answered, mustering a smile of her own.  She recognized both maids from last night, but didn't know their names.

The brunette set the tray down several feet from the pallet and curtsied.  Then, together with her blond companion, she returned to the far side of the gate.

"Enjoy your breakfast," the blond said as she closed the gate and turned the key in its lock.  "Your morning exercise period is in two hours," she added.  "Be ready."

"Thank you!" Morena called as the outer door closed.

Morena slid from under the covers, dragged her chain to the tray, and knelt.  Its contents were covered by a faux-burlap cloth which would also serve as her napkin.  She whisked it away, and underneath found a covered plate, a tea service, and a simple set of hand-forged cutlery.  Apparently, Her Ladyship wasn't bothered by the thought of Morena using the knife, fork, and spoon to escape the castle.  No doubt the maids will inventory the tray when they take it away, she reasoned, and missing tableware would provide an excellent excuse for erotic torture... as if they need an excuse.

Morena's spirits remained high.  Thoughts of "erotic torture" aside, she was very happy to be Lady Jane's captive—happy in the manner of a terrified prisoner in a romance novel pining for rescue, of course.  She lifted the cover and found a traditional English "fry-up": bacon, bangers, fried eggs, fried tomato slices, fried mushrooms, fried mashed potato cakes, and baked beans.  All of which was substantially heavier than her usual breakfast of toast with jam, honey, or Nutella—maybe a little cheese—and coffee; but after last night's orgy...  Morena grinned.  She'd make do.

Morena poured herself a cup of tea, took a sip, then picked up the knife and fork and "tucked away" at her breakfast, as the English would say.

 Chapter 6

Cressida came awake, again—and for a while, total disorientation held sway.

"Mrrrf!"  Cressida twisted and squirmed, and in so doing realized she was was naked and in chains, her head was laced in an isolation hood, a ball-gag was in her mouth, and plugs filled her ears!  She tugged on her implacable steel bonds, tossed her head, and mewled into her gag.  "Nrrrrr!"

Finally—in a matter of seconds, actually—her head cleared, memory returned, and the panic dissipated.  I was at tea with mother and Edna, she recalled.  My tea was drugged, and I awoke spreadeagled to the table in the maids' training room.  Then, senior maids hooded me, released me from the table, and brought me here, wherever 'here' is.

Cressida's wrists were still manacled behind her back with wide, close-fitting, probably custom made steel cuffs and locked to the back of the steel belt locked around her waist.  Her steel-fettered ankles remained hobbled by a few inches of steel chain.  Finally, she was on what was almost certainly a bed.  However, there had been a change, and it was what had disturbed her slumber.  Her hooded head and bare shoulders were on someone's lap, and as soon as she stopped thrashing and struggling, fingers began fiddling with the laces of her hood.  The grip of the leather encasement relaxed.  Cressida's nostrils flared and she recognized her rescuer's perfume.  Mother!

The fingers—mother's fingers—pulled the loosened hood halfway off her head, plucked the rubber plugs from her ears, then pulled the hood the rest of the way off.  Cressida blinked in the sudden light, then focused on her mother's smiling face.  Lady Tydwell was beautiful, as always, and was dressed in one of her extensive collection of designer summer dresses.  This one was sky-blue and short sleeved, with a generous décolletage.

Cressida faced something of a dilemma.  How should she react to a maternal kidnapping?  Her main options were anger and acquiescence.  It was an absolute outrage that mother was treating her like one of her celebrity playthings, but Cressida knew her mother's love was as certain as the sunrise.  She decided on cool indifference, at least for now.  She could always throw a childish tantrum later, if it seemed appropriate.

Lady Jane combed her fingers through her bound, gagged, and naked daughter's tousled hair.  "I know you're curious, darling," she said, continuing to smile.

Cressida rolled her eyes in exasperation.  I will NOT sit through a classic Gloating Scene, she decided.  Option two be damned!  I'm giving mother a piece of my mind—in gag-speak, of course.  Her eyes narrowed and she growled through her gag.

"Oh, Honeybee," Lady Jane chuckled, "if you could see your face."  She reached to the side and produced a leather bound book, opened its cover, and Cressida realized it was actually a double picture frame.  The left panel held a sheet of parchment, elegantly illuminated in medieval style.  It bore the Tydwell coat-of-arms and underneath, in exquisite calligraphy, the words:

The Honorable Jane Penelope Rowena Tydwell
To Become the Seventeenth Marchioness Tydwell
Taken April the 5th, 1972
The Third Month of Her Immurement

The right panel held a color photograph.
Young Lady Jane
"Mrrrpfh?"  Cressida's eyes widened in utter astonishment.  It was a portrait of mother, herself—but she was young—by the date given, a few years younger then Cressida's current age.  And she was naked, or appeared to be naked.  Only her upper body was in the picture and she was half-turned from the camera, but the flare of her just visible hip suggested full nudity.  She was posing before a window.  And, in a not-so-minor detail, a steel collar was around her neck, with an attached, nearly vertical chain!  Mother is naked and tethered like a dog! Cressida thought.  Or a maid!  Or a guest!

Cressida gazed at the photograph while the fingers of mother's free hand continued combing and straightening her hair.

"My hair was very long in those days," Lady Jane purred, "to my waist, in fact.  It was something of a trademark.  Even Her Majesty noticed."  She indicated their surroundings with a wave of the hand.  "The photo was taken in this very chamber.  One of mother's maids was something of a shutterbug.  Her name was Amanda, but I always called her Mandy.  She retired to Lyme Regis some years ago."

Cressida lifted her head and surveyed her surroundings, as best she could from her mother's lap.  The chamber had the stone walls and floor typical of most rooms of the keep, and was an elongated rectangle.  At the far end was a single window set in a shallow alcove, but it was unlike the window in mother's portrait.

The photographed window was modern, by castle standards, a double-hung design found in those parts of the castle that had been renovated for day-to-day living.  The windows of the castle's "guest quarters" remained medieval in appearance, of course, as they were often used for the day-to-day languishing of naked damsels in chains.  Most of the openings had been made weather tight at some point, but they were almost always protected by heavy iron bars on one or both sides.

The chamber's present window was decidedly of the "guest" variety.  A large, single pane of glass was set in a hefty iron frame, and a curtain of vertical iron bars walled off the entire alcove.

"Yes, I had the window replaced," Lady Jane nodded.  She closed the picture frame, set it aside, and returned to combing her captive daughter's hair.  "The new glass is shatterproof, more than an inch thick, and the frame and bars incredibly strong.  Nothing can be removed without the use of specialized tools.  Much better suited to the chamber's purpose."

Cressida stared up at her mother's smiling face.  "Mrrrf?"

"I also had the plumbing and heating improved," Lady Jane continued, then gestured towards the vaulted ceiling, "and the chain-handling machine refurbished."

Cressida looked up and beheld an impressive mechanism of large, nested metal gears and iron counterweights dangling from chains.  The assembly was mounted eight to ten feet above the floor and was solidly bolted to the massive rafters.  Bottommost was a long metal track running the length of the chamber.  Riding in the track was a curved, horizontal lever-arm, and dangling from the end of the arm was a long steel chain.

"Don't trouble yourself with the machine, Honeybee," Her Ladyship chuckled.  "You'll have plenty of time to study its operation."

Cressida kicked her chained feet in frustration.  Enough was enough!  Now it was really time for that tantrum!  "MRRRPFH!"

"Temper, young lady," Lady Jane purred.  "Allow me to unfold the tale in my own way."

Cressida glared—in the way a loving daughter who finds herself the naked, helpless captive of her loving mother glares—and heaved a long-suffering, gagged sigh.

"I know you've read many of the castle ledgers and family papers," Lady Jane continued, "but I've held back certain journals and letters in my private study.  Among them is a firsthand account of the betrothal of the first Marchioness Tydwell.  By modern standards the betrothal in question would be characterized as an abduction and hostage-taking.  It's a stirring tale, worthy of Sir Walter Scott, more so as it is history, family history, and not fiction.  In any case, Lady Ghislaine considered her new husband and kidnapper to be something of an uncouth bumpkin, more interested in his horses and dogs, hunting, and waging war on his neighbors than he was in his abducted bride, and she resented being his pawn.  His response to her scorn was to keep her naked and in chains until she came to know her place and appreciate his many fine qualities.  Strangely, the tactic worked—and backfired.  You see, Honeybee, Ghislaine and her beloved Alerick fell madly and mutually in love.  By all accounts, he came to value her keen intelligence and profited greatly by her shrewd political advice.  Eventually, he was made marquis by the king."

Cressida continued staring up at her mother.  Strangest mother-daughter family chat EVER!

"Anyway," Her Ladyship continued, "formally imprisoning Tydwell women for some period of time became a family tradition, but over the centuries the practice changed.  What is known as 'the immurement,' is now a rite of passage for Tydwell daughters.  After your immurement, I'll allow you to read the immurement journals of all of our ancestors.  You will keep a journal, as well."

Cressida's eyes popped wide, again.  MY immurement?

"Tracing the gradual evolution of the tradition is fascinating," Lady Jane said.  "Bridal abduction has become an extended lesson in empathy and self control."  Her Ladyship leaned close and kissed her daughter's forehead.  "Think of it as your apprenticeship for a position on the castle staff."

Cressida blinked in surprise.  What?

"I have never seen you actually mistreat one of the servants," Lady Jane purred, "nor has Edna reported any abuse.  That said, while immurement might not be a lesson you need or want, it's one that I know will help you grow.  It helped me.  In any case... tradition."  She reached to the side and lifted a steel collar attached to a chain.

The chain dangling from the mechanism overhead swayed and rattled, and Cressida realized the collar and machine chains were one.  The collar was a thick, rounded, hinged torus, and locked to the chain by means of a small ring in the back and one of mother's figure-eight double locks.  A second small ring dangled from the collar's front.

"Of course," Her Ladyship continued as she fit the collar around Cressida's neck and clicked it closed, "a key element of the immurement is that your wants and wishes are completely irrelevant.  You are now a prisoner of the castle, and will remain a prisoner until you are released."  She turned Cressida's head, unbuckled the ball-gag and eased it from her mouth, then eased Cressida off her lap and stood.  "If you're truly unhappy, I suppose you can escape, of course."  Her smile broadened.  "There's always a first time."

Cressida licked her lips, worked her jaw, and tried to swallow.  Her ladyship was strolling to a gate of iron bars set in the wall.  She hadn't noticed the gate before as her mother's body had blocked her view.  "Mother!" she finally managed to gasp.  "Let's talk about this!"

Her Ladyship opened the gate and the steel-clad door beyond, crossed the threshold, and turned.  "Later, Honeybee," she chuckled.  "A few final arrangements remain."  She pulled the gate closed with a clang.

"Mother, please!"  Cressida's plaintive cry was cut off by the closing of the outer door.  She stared at the iron bars of the gate and the iron-clad portal beyond in stunned disbelief, then heaved a despairing sigh.  "Brilliant," she muttered under her breath.  So much for my shopping trip to London next week.  A frown knitted her brow.

Mother never said how long this 'immurement' nonsense is supposed to last, she realized.  What was the last line on the parchment?  She remembered—and swallowed, nervously.  'The third month of her immurement!'  Three months!  Mother isn't going to keep me in here for THREE MONTHS!  Is she?

"Oh, bollix!" Cressida muttered under her breath. 

 Chapter 6

Corky opened her eyes.  The overhead light was on and the door of her new bedroom, the Handmaiden's Hole, was being unlocked.  The portal opened and Mistress Edna stood in the doorway.  The sliding gate of iron bars still blocked the threshold.

"Relieve yourself," the Dragon Lady ordered.  "You're going to breakfast with Her Ladyship."

Corky shook her head, trying and failing to bring some degree of order to her tousled mop of red curls.  "But... What?"

The House Mistress rolled her eyes.  "This is not an invitation to chat, Miss O'Brien, it's an order.  You have five minutes."  And with that, she slammed the door shut.

Corky blinked her sleep-crusted eyes in surprise, and decided she wasn't dreaming.  For one thing, the overhead light was still on.  For another, she was hungry.  Breakfast with Her Ladyship?  Corky was naked, but for the canvas and leather-trimmed straitjacket squeezing her upper body.  Her legs and crotch were completely bare, her hair was beyond messy, and she needed a good bath.  Breakfast with Her Ladyship?

Corky heaved herself off the bed and padded to the bathroom alcove.  She'd already determined the commode operated by means of foot pedals for both the flushing and bidet functions.  Elimination wouldn't be a problem.  Splashing her face in the wall-mounted washbasin while strapped in a straitjacket?  That was a problem.


 Chapter 6

Chapter 5
Chapter 7