|| SAM's WAR
The d'Arcy Manor Mystery
FICTION SET IN THE WW-II ENGLAND OF FOYLE'S WAR
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The Countess flipped the page on her sketchbook and
began a third drawing. Sam remained exactly as she'd been
placed, of course. That was the point of the "modelling
armature", after all—to hold her completely immobilized in the
pose of the Countess' choosing. The naked captive continued
staring straight ahead, focusing on nothing, angry and humiliated.
Minutes passed, then Sam heard the sound of approaching
footsteps. Whoever it was, they were using an entrance out
of her rather limited field of vision. She noticed the
Countess lift her gaze towards the sound, and the foreigner's lips
curled into a truly evil smile.
Then, Zaza, Marie, and Marion stepped into view, centre-stage
between herself and the Countess.
Zaza was dressed in a plain black dress, much more conservative than the rather
scandalous maid's uniform she had been wearing earlier.
Marie, however, was un-dressed,
wearing only bra, knickers, garter belt, hose, and high heels.
The Countess frowned. "Marie?" she hissed, warning in her
"I don't want to rip me new uniform," Marie explained, "in case
things get... strenuous. It's the only one we got."
The Countess resumed her sketching. "The first sensible
thing you've done in days," she muttered. "Continue."
Poor Marion was dressed and restrained—one in the same, as her
clothing were her
restraints—as she had been before. Black leather
thigh-boots, corset, mitten-sleeves, collar, and a tight
body-harness of straps embraced her petite form. Her encased
hands and arms were folded behind her back. And in the stiff
boots, with their precariously high heels and knee-hobbling
straps, she could do little more than stamp her feet and
stutter-step. She was still gagged with a cloth stuffed in
her mouth and held there by a tight, cleaving cloth, but that
didn't prevent her from directing a continuous stream of
well-muffled (and no doubt very
rude) remarks towards her captors.
Sam sighed through her own gag, and pulled weakly on the straps
pinning her to the armature. She's certainly a fighter, she thought, I'll give her that.
Marie had a handful of Marion's hair, controlling her feeble
struggles. Zaza was encumbered by a double armload of bulky,
neatly folded garments. She set the stack down on a chair,
then draped the top bundle across the chair back. It
appeared to be a black veil framed by stiff panels of white
cloth. She then lifted the remaining bundle, let it fall
open, and held it up. It was a robe-like, black dress.
Sam's eyes popped wide. The entire costume was a Catholic
nun's habit! She watched as the maids dressed Marion in the
voluminous frock. The American captive squirmed and
struggled, of course, but could do nothing to impede the process
in any meaningful way.
"The irony is delicious," the Countess remarked. "Our Miss
Ravenwood as a chaste bride of Christ?"
Fire in her eyes, Marion lunged towards the gloating Countess and
tried her best to deliver a vengeful kick with her right boot, but
the strap hobbling her knees, and the maids, defeated her
effort. The toe of her boot missed by more than a
foot. Zaza knelt and tightened a leather strap around
Marion's ankles, preventing further such rebellion.
Marie tightened her grip on Marion's head while Zaza reached into
the pocket of her dress. The French maid started doing
something to Marion's right ear, but her hands and body blocked
"Beeswax plugs," the Countess explained, for Sam's benefit.
Marion's left ear was sealed as well, then Zaza tightened her gag,
took a rolled bandage from her pocket, and began wrapping it
around Marion's lower face.
The captive tried to toss her head and resist, but Marie tightened
her grip even further and gave her head a warning shake.
"None of that, Yank," the English maid warned. "Hold still,
or I'll clobber yer good."
"She cannot hear you," Zaza reminded her confederate. "Not
to worry. I know how to reason
with mademoiselle." The now familiar evil smile curling her lips,
she reached out and pinched Marion's nostrils closed!
Marion began squirming and twisting in earnest, her boot soles
scraping and sliding on the tiles as she fought her bonds.
Quiet, mewling moans accompanied her struggles. Marie's free
hand slid over Marion's gagged and bandaged mouth, tightened, and
the moans ceased.
"Zaza, please step to the side," the Countess purred.
"You're blocking Driver Stewart's view.
"Oh, how thoughtless of me, Madame!" Zaza responded, and took the
Now Sam could see Marion's wide, desperate eyes, and the bright
red flush of her cheeks above the gag, bandages, and Marie's hand.
Sam forced a moan of her own past her gag, and jerked on her
"Don't worry, Driver Stewart," the Countess said. "Zaza has
perfect timing, and this is one of her favourite games."
"Madame, you make me blush," Zaza cooed, then released her
grip. Marie released her hand-gag as well.
Marion panted through flaring nostrils and her bosom heaved,
visible even under the habit.
Zaza, still smiling, shook a warning finger in Marion's flushed
face. The prisoner blinked, then nodded her head, as much as
Marie's grip would allow. "Mademoiselle and I have reached
zhe understanding," she announced, and resumed wrapping the
bandage. Cotton pads were placed over Marion's eyes and
cotton wool stuffed into her ears, reinforcing the beeswax
plugs. More bandages were used until the captive's head was
completely covered, as thoroughly as the cranium of an Egyptian
mummy. All that broke the smooth surface of the linen
wrappings was a tent-like area over her nostrils, and Marion's
hair, gathered in a loose ponytail in the back.
The wimple was next. The cowl was dropped over Marion's head
and laced in the back, under the veil. Sam had no idea how
the elements of a regular nun's habit were worn, but she strongly
suspected this particular wimple was a little more enthusiastic with the laces
than most. She was sure Marion would find it impossible to
dislodge the head covering, especially with the added restriction
of the leather collar she was already wearing.
Zaza straightened the drape of the veil, and Marion was now a
fully costumed nun, her bonds completely hidden, her bandaged face
obscured by the drooping veil.
"Driver Stewart," the Countess said, "allow me to introduce Sister
Mary Corbeaubois. In the event that we encounter a military
roadblock, we have a most entertaining and tragic story for the
soldiers on guard." She closed her sketchbook, stood, and
stepped forward. "You see, Sister Mary is a resistance
fighter, recently rescued by our gallant Commandos from occupied
France. I'm afraid she's been horribly injured. In
fact, a Nazi soldier broke her jaw with his rifle butt.
We're taking her to Swansea, to rendezvous with the captain of a
certain fishing boat, and then on to Ireland, so she can
convalesce in one of her order's convents." Her eyes focused
on Marie. "Finish getting dressed, and be quick about it."
Marie curtsied and left the room. Marion remained in place,
squirming and twisting in her bonds, but without any great
enthusiasm. Zaza kept a steadying hand on the "nun's"
The Countess lifted the edge of Marion's veil. The only
thing Sam could see was a mass of neat, white bandages.
"Poor Sister Mary," The Countess continued, in a mocking voice,
then let the veil drop. She returned to her chair, retrieved
her sketchpad and pencil box, and handed them to Zaza.
"Place these in one of the secret vaults," she ordered, "then help
Marie. We're otherwise prepared to depart?"
"Oui, Madame," Zaza
responded, "all ees in
readiness." She curtsied, gave Marion's deaf, dumb, blind,
and helpless form a last, lingering look... then left the room.
The Countess carried over a chair, placed it behind Marion, then
put her hands on her shoulders and forced her down. Marion
forced a patheticly well-muffled squawk past her gag as she
plopped into the chair. "Stay!" the Countess ordered,
knowing, of course, that Marion could hear nothing. She
smiled and walked towards Sam.
Sam's heart was pounding. She tried not to be frightened,
but the Countess' smile was... disturbing.
| SAM's WAR
| The d'Arcy Manor Mystery—5
Sam closed her eyes as the Countess' hands, once again,
touched her helpless body. One slid down her back and
caressed her left butt cheek. The other gave her right
breast a gentle squeeze, then slid to the left and gave that
breast a squeeze as well.
"Such smooth skin," the Countess purred, her lips an inch from
Sam's left ear.
Sam shuddered and moaned through her gag. Her traitorous
nipples were becoming stiff, engorged, and sensitive, responding
to her tormentor's lambent touch.
"I have never considered freckles to be especially attractive,"
the Countess continued, "and here I have three captives in my
power, all with fair complexions prone to such... dappling."
Sam bucked and twisted in her bonds as one hand slid between her
buttocks and began a gentle caress, and the other travelled down
and pressed her tummy, between her navel and the upper margin of
her pubic bush. Sam's head was pounding, and she realized
she was holding her breath. She exhaled in a piteous moan,
then quivered as her captor's hands continued to tease her body.
"Lady Jane, with her copper-red hair and peachy-pink, milky skin,"
the Countess whispered, "Marion with the delicious contrast of her
black hair and ivory colouring…. And you, Driver Stewart,
the very picture of the rosy-cheeked English lass, with your
auburn hair and blushing cheeks..."
Sam continued shuddering and moving under the Countess'
touch. Not again!
Please, not again!
"Yes, I find myself with an embarrassment of freckled
beauty. I would dearly love to keep you all and...
experiment. Tie Lady Jane under the sun, day after day,
until she is as freckled as an Irish farm wife... then lock her in
a dark dungeon until she is as pale and unblemished as a statue of
white marble. And 'Sister Mary'..." She nodded towards
Marion's helpless form. "...I'd do the same for her.
My brave, English Rose, on the other hand..."
Sam moaned through her gag. The Countess' hands continued
working their magic, and she was helpless to resist.
"I would dress you in medieval gowns and tunics, and chain you in
the tower, only bringing you down to play with you in the torture
chambers below, or for parties.
I have a few select friends who... appreciate such diversions,
you see." The Countess slowed the pace of her caressing
massage. "You would be my perfect, Modern
Pre-Raphaelite maiden—a Burne-Jones or Waterhouse canvas, sprung
to life. Such a pity."
The Countess' hands left Sam's flushed body, and she walked over
to stand beside Marion's chair.
Nostrils flaring, Sam glared at
Countess, grateful she hadn't been forced to a second climax; but she was
also—dare she even think it—frustrated?
"Yes, I only get to take Marion," the Countess sighed, "and she
will be mine only for a while."
Just then, the maids returned, and once again Sam's eyes popped
wide in surprise.
| SAM's WAR
| The d'Arcy Manor Mystery—5
Zaza had added an apron and veil-like scarf to her
costume, both of grey linen. She was a novice, a
nun-in-training. The leering, maniacal grin on her face
somewhat spoiled the effect, but Sam knew the French hussy was
enough of an actress to pull off the masquerade.
Marie, on the other hand, was wearing Sam's uniform! An
angry growl escaped Sam's gag, and all three of her captors
laughed. Marie's high heel shoes and stockings were hardly
standard issue, but from skirt hem to cap she was the very picture
of an MTC volunteer.
Zaza stepped to the Countess's side and slid something over her
mistress' hand and left jacket sleeve, to her upper arm. It
was a white armband emblazoned with a red cross. "Does
everyone have their papers?" the Countess inquired, and the maids
nodded. The Countess focused on Marie. "...the papers
appropriate for their current
Marie blushed, reached into the pocket of her—of Sam's uniform—and produced
Sam's ration book, driving licence, etc.
"Excellent," the Countess said, then turned to face Sam.
"Novice Zaza will be caring for poor, injured 'Sister
Mary'..." Zaza grinned her now all-too-familiar evil grin, and
curtsied. "...'Driver Stewart' will be behind the wheel of
the Police Wolseley you so thoughtfully provided..." Marie
touched her cap in a mocking, rather slovenly salute. The
Countess glanced at her armband, then reached into her jacket
pocket and produced a slender, oxblood leather wallet embossed
with a white cross. "...and as a Swiss national and
representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross,
I'm along to observe."
The Countess pocketed her papers, then waved towards the
door. Zaza and Marie hauled Marion to her feet, Zaza knelt
to release the prisoner's ankle strap, then they shepherded her
from the room. "Well, this is goodbye, Driver Stewart," the
Countess purred, "or Agent Stewart, or whoever and whatever you
really are." She walked forward and cupped Sam's breasts.
Sam glared at her tormentor and shuddered at the gentle, unwelcome
"I instructed Marie to turn up the heat to this room, so you
should be comfortable in case you aren't rescued until tomorrow,
or even later, for as long as the coal in the hopper lasts."
Her fingers tightened on Sam's nipples, and she gave them a soft,
teasing pinch. "You may be a little too warm when the afternoon
sun arrives, but it's better to sweat a little during the day than
shiver through the night, don't you agree?"
She released Sam's nipples, spun on her heel, and walked to the
door. She paused in the doorway, a gloating smile on her
beautiful face. "I should have let Marie use the clips and
weights," she sighed—then turned and was gone.
| SAM's WAR
| The d'Arcy Manor Mystery—5
Sam listened for the Wolseley's engine, but she was on
the wrong side of the house. The helpless, pinioned prisoner
never received any confirmation that her captors, taking their
other captive with them, had indeed abandoned her to her fate.
Clouds passed over the sun—the sunlight returned—and time passed.
One hour became two.
Sam hung in her bonds, helpless to make more than the occasional
squirming attempt to find some comfort for her aching
muscles. The butter-soft leather straps securing her to the
poles of the modelling armature remained tight and exactly as they
had been placed by the maids. They flexed a little when she
fought their implacable grip, but retained their firm hold.
Sam supposed such
support was better than having to use her strength to maintain her
posture, but not being able to move more than a fraction of an
inch in any direction was becoming an ordeal.
And what of poor Marion? Cruelly bound in tight leather,
gagged, deaf and blind, helpless and on her way to the
Germans? What was the Countess' plan—to rendezvous with a
U-boat at the coast, or would they be meeting a fishing boat, as
the Countess said? And why did the Nazis want Marion so
badly? What secret had the Countess been trying to force her
Tears welled in Sam's eyes. I'm sorry I couldn't save you, Marion, she
thought. I'm sorry.
Suddenly, Sam heard a shouting male voice. It was coming
from the outside, and was muffled by the glass of the conservatory
wall. "Blimey! Here! She's in here!"
| SAM's WAR
| The d'Arcy Manor Mystery—5
Rescue was at hand! Sam's heart fluttered and she
erupted into tears. Her emotions were a roiling cauldron of
that her ordeal was about to be over—crushing humiliation at being found naked and
at the treatment she had received from the Countess and her maids—anxious guilt on Marion's
Seconds passed, possibly a minute, then DCS Foyle, Sgt. Milner,
and two uniformed constables were through the studio door and
rushing to her aid. Sam squeezed her weeping eyes closed and
struggled to control the sobs racking her helpless body.
Fingers fumbled with the straps pinning her to the armature and a
blade severed the cords tied to her gag-harness. In a short
time Sam was completely free of her bonds, a blanket was draped
over her quaking shoulders, and her head was against Foyle's
One of the constables held a crystal glass under Sam's nose, and
she smelled brandy. She sipped the liquor, then took the
glass, downed its remaining contents, and coughed.
Foyle held her in a fatherly embrace. "Are you all right,
Sam?" he asked in a quiet voice.
"Yes," Sam answered. "Yes, sir." She looked at the
faces crowding around her. Milner, four constables—more
seemed to be arriving all the time—all staring at her with open
Sam blinked in surprise. She'd been at enough crime scenes
to know that professional detachment was the norm. This was
required, for a policeman saw too much of the ugly side of
humanity, and must learn to maintain an emotional distance for his
own protection. But the faces around her were anything but detached.
"Enough," Foyle said, directing his remark to the officer who had
supplied the brandy. "Go find some water."
Sam was no longer crying, but her cheeks were still flushed and
wet. She looked up into Foyle's concerned face. "I-I'm
sorry, sir. I've made a mess of things, and—"
"Hush," he whispered, and gave her a reassuring hug. "We'll
find you some clothes, and—"
Sam pushed away, holding the blanket close. "No sir, we have
to raise the alarm!"
"The Army will take care of the fugitives," Foyle advised.
"We have to rescue Lady Jane!" Sam announced.
Foyle frowned. "She's not with the others?"
Sam turned and pattered towards the door. "I know exactly where she is!"
Foyle shook his head. "Get things sorted out," he told
Milner, then motioned to two of the constables. "Come with
Sam was in the doorway, the blanket clutched around her, stamping
one bare foot on the threshold. "Hurry, sir!" she shouted,
and was gone.
"I'm coming," Foyle called after her, and left the room with his
"If I get my hands on whoever did that to our Sam..." one of the
remaining officers muttered. The others nodded in agreement,
their faces grim.
"You can join the queue," Milner growled.
| SAM's WAR
| The d'Arcy Manor Mystery—5
Foyle and the constables followed Sam into the library,
through the secret door in the bookcase, and down into the
dungeons. "Be careful, sir," Sam warned as they blundered
into the darkness. One of the officers produced a small
electric torch and passed it forward. They passed the alcove
with its still flickering candle, then came to the door of the
cell that should be incarcerating Lady Jane and her cage.
A large skeleton key was in the lock, as well as a smaller key
tied to the first by a salmon-pink ribbon. Sam recognized
the borrowed hair ribbon she had lost earlier, some place between
her current location and the tower cell. She released the
bow and handed the smaller key to Foyle. "We're probably
going to need this, sir." She turned the larger key and
shoved her weight against the door. Foyle and the constables
helped, and the heavy portal swung inward.
"Blimey!" one of the officers gasped. Lady Jane and her cage
were exactly as Sam had seen them last; however, the helpless
aristocrat was in a sorry state. Before leaving, the
Countess, or, more probably, the maids, had heaped an armload of
dry wood in an iron brazier and set it alight. In the hours
since, it had burned down to a bed of glowing coals, but the air
in the chamber was still stifling
hot. Lady Janes's silk robe and negligée were
plastered to her glistening body, and her hair was hanging in a
damp, auburn tangle.
Foyle handed the small key to one of the constables. "See if
this fits those padlocks," he ordered, then turned to the
other. "Go find another blanket." The officer touched
the brim of his helmet and left.
The padlock securing the cage's gag-panel surrendered to the
key. The constable swung the panel aside and Lady Jane spat
the knickers stuffed in her mouth to the floor. "Get me out
of this thing!" she demanded.
"Please try to remain calm, Your Ladyship," Foyle said. The
constable stepped behind the cage and began opening the remaining
Lady Jane's eyes focused on Sam, and flashed with anger. "You—you call
yourself an Intelligence Agent? Just wait until I make a
report to Sir David! You'll be lucky if they let you hand
out doughnuts and tea to the troops at the docks!"
"Lady Jane—" Foyle began.
Lady Jane shifted her attention to Foyle. "And as for you—"
"Enough!" Foyle barked.
"How dare you!" Lady
"I dare," Foyle responded quietly, "because I've had enough of
being played the fool by Military Intelligence, and hope to
prevent you from continuing to play the fool, yourself."
Sam quickly hid her involuntary smile. Foyle was well-known
for his self-control, but he was famous in the force as a master
of the understated dressing-down. His ability to puncture
the ballooning pride of a self-important twit was legendary.
Lady Jane's green eyes were wide with shock.
"I was requested to provide you and your guest, Miss Ravenwood,
transportation to this manor, and was not informed that we were part of a
counter-espionage operation encompassing half of Southern
England. Samantha Stewart is a volunteer and a valued member
of my team."
Her mouth still hidden behind the edge of her blanket, Sam
"If I had been informed of any
element of this grand scheme," Foyle continued, "her
place would have been taken by an armed detective. If you
have anything helpful to say about her conduct during this
debacle, you may make a report to an interviewing officer, at the
By this time the last of the locks had been opened and Lady Jane
was being helped from the cage. The second constable had
returned, and he draped a blanket over her shoulders. "I-I
never!" she stammered, and stomped from the chamber.
"You're welcome," the constable still holding the key muttered.
"None of that," Foyle said, a smile softening the rebuke. He
turned to Sam. "You're out of uniform," he observed, still
"Sorry, sir," Sam whispered. "What scheme were you referring
to, sir, if I might ask."
"If anyone has earned the right," Foyle responded, "it's you."
Sam blushed again.
"It would seem Military Intelligence is folding up a network of
German spies," Foyle explained, "using a team of double agents to
capture several of what they call sleeper cells, from here to the
Irish coast. I knew nothing of this beforehand, Sam, I
"Double agents?" Sam asked, then her eyes popped wide. "The
Countess? And her maids? They're not German agents?"
Foyle smiled. "I've already told you all that I know, and
more than I should. None of this is to leave this room."
"Yes, sir," Sam responded.
Foyle lifted his eyes to the pair of constables.
Both touched their helmets in salute. "Mum's the word," the
Foyle nodded, then glanced around the chamber, frowning at the
cage, rack, and other instruments of torture. "And speaking
of leaving this room..." He put a protective arm over Sam's
shoulders and ushered her towards the door. "...let's find
you a bath, some clothes, food, and when you're up to it, you can
make your report."
"Yes, sir," Sam whispered, then skidded to a halt. "Oh sir,
the Wolseley! They've taken the Wolseley!"
"We'll get it back," Foyle reassured her with a smile, "or
| The d'Arcy Manor Mystery—5