Well, I have to admit – it had to have been one of the quietest summers I had ever known, and now it was nearly at an end.
We went away as a family for a week to France, which gave us all the chance to kick back and relax, as well as for Charlie to practice the French he had been trying to learn. The cottage Mum and Dad had found was nice, the sun shone, and a great time was had by all – but I missed my friends as well.
Charlie and I had also spent a week at Eric’s farm, as the guests of his parents, while Mum and Dad had a few days away themselves. Louise and Fiona came over as well while we were there with Frank, as did Mary Holmes – must have been something there that attracted all of them...
Ah who am I kidding – it was great to have the time with Eric, and we went for a few walks together in the woods round the house.
Where were the rest of the gang? They were invited down to the house of a friend of Suzie’s grandfather. And thereby, as I learned over the course of the holiday, hung a tale...
This house – actually a great big Tudor house – was the main setting for a new film that had been released called The Awakening, and it was set in Victorian England – lots of costumes and dances and so on. Mum’s really into that sort of thing, so I knew she wanted to see it, but – pay attention, this could get complicated.
Markson Manor, as the house was called, was the family home of an old friend of Lord Holderness, Suzie’s grandfather. His son was the director, and apparently his daughter was an adviser on the costumes or something. Anyway, Lord Holderness was one of the backers of the film, and in return Alicia and Angela were offered a small part in the film. So they spent some time down there in the late spring and early summer.
Still with me? Good – because as a way of saying thank you, they were invited to spend the weekend at Markson Manor, so they went down with Jenny and Cassie, Patty and Rachel, and Suzie.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – all of them gathered in one place, and a big country house at that? What could possibly go wrong?
It’s okay – I’ll wait while you get the laughs out...
So, there they all were, with Viscount Markson and his daughter – and an armed gang breaks in and holds them and the daughter hostage for the weekend while her father is made to withdraw money from various places.
Yup, you guessed it – somehow, they ended up with Jay Edwards and his friends looking after them, so they spent the entire weekend tightly bound and gagged. Some people got all the luck...
And even more – they were wearing costumes from the film at the time?
I know it sounds ridiculous, but they had all the fun – and I got even more jealous when they came home, and I got to see one or two things.
The first of which was the film itself – once the news broke of the break-in, a lot of people wanted to see the film, so a few days later Mum and Dad took me and a very reluctant Charlie to see it in our local multiplex.
It actually was a really good film – well made, and a decent story, but the costumes... I found myself wondering what it would be like to wear those clothes, and I even felt a little jealous of both Alicia and Angela when I saw them there, much larger than life on the screen. They were very much in the background, but there they were, at a garden party, and a grand ball, as well as elsewhere. It gave me goosebumbs to see their names in the credits as well.
The next day I went across the road to see Cassie and Jenny, and they told me everything that had happened that weekend – wearing those gorgeous clothes, and how it felt to be tied up while wearing them. I found myself wondering what it would be like to be wearing those clothes, how I would feel...
I talked to Mum about it that night as well, and she told me about the times she had to wear similar costumes, when she was a student. She mentioned something called a corset, but just said it was the way they looked so slim.
Like I said, the movie proved very popular – I saw some of the critic’s reviews in the paper. So when I heard that Viscount Markson was planning to come and visit Lord Holderness, I wondered if he was going to get his money back.
I also heard that Angela and Alicia were going to be going to the States for a week, to visit her cousin over there. I’d met Sarah and her husband, as well as their children, and liked them – Mum and Dad are two of their godparents, and we went to the States last year to attend the Christening and on a holiday.
That’s also where we met some of Alicia’s American friends – especially Heidi Strong and Cindy Elsworth. I got on well with both of them – especially as we have a mutual love of tie-up games. In fact, I knew they and some of their other friends had been, like me and Charlie, through some very scary situations, and that Sarah had helped them to get over those times.
Ach – I promised myself I’d not go back there again. Where was I?
Oh yeah – costumes and vacations. A couple of days before they went off, Angela called round to see Mum – she had been given a brochure of the costumes used in the film, with colour pictures, and Mum wanted to have a look at them.
I sat and looked through them as well, looking at the pictures and one in particular that caught my eye.
It was a pink dress, with buttons up the front, and long sleeves that flowed out with white cuffs on the wrists. There was a white lace collar, and the skirt of the dress reached almost to the floor. One of the nicest things about it was the pink bows that were on each sleeve, and around the skirt of the dress, as well as the way it seemed to just hang on the woman, with her thin waist.
“Do you like this one, Lisa,” Angela said to me, and I just nodded silently as she looked at me. I was too busy imagining myself in it, walking round a garden party and drinking tea from delicate bone china...
That had been a week ago, and I knew they were due back tomorrow morning, as I sat in the front room, watching an athletics meeting on the television. I was wearing a blue t-shirt and denim shorts over black leggings, and black trainers with black socks. I’d got into watching this sort of thing, and given Eric had called to say he was going somewhere with his family, it was one way of passing the day. Charlie had already gone off somewhere, and Dad was at work.
“Hey,” Mum said as she looked in the door, “I need you to head down to the shops and pick up some milk.”
“Okay Mum,” I said as I looked out of the window. The sun was shining down, so I took the money Mum was holding and set off without my coat.
It really was a warm day, and I wasn’t paying much attention as I walked down the road, passing the entrance to the path to the Cottrell farm as a grey van pulled up by the side of the road.
So when I walked past, and two pairs of arms reached out and pulled me inside the van, I barely got time to catch my breath before I saw the man, wearing a boiler suit and a balaclava covering his head as he looked at me.
I barely had time to register as my hands were pulled behind my back, and heard the sound of duct tape coming away from a roll as my hands were made into fists and covered in sticky tape. As I felt cotton pulled up my arm, and then rope around my covered wrists, the man kneeling in front of me produced a folded cloth from a bag and held it in front of my hand.
“I really hope this is a game,” I said quietly before I opened my mouth, and allowed him to push the cloth in as the rope was pulled between my arms, and then my ankles were put together and tied. While this took place, the man took a knotted strip of cloth and used it as a cleave gag on me, before he produced a roll of white tape and wrapped it round my head.
“Swwhthsgnnn,” I mumbled, only to have my world plunged into darkness as a black cloth was tied over my eyes, and I felt the van move off.
As I felt the van bump over the road, I hoped Mum knew what was going on – and then realised she must have. After all, we had gone shopping that morning, and like a complete idiot I realised we had picked up milk then...
So this was a game of some sort – which left the question of who had invited me to play in a way I could not refuse. The only question really was, who else and where?
The van stopping was my clue we had arrived, as I felt the ropes going round my upper body, sitting around my waist, stomach, as well as below and above my chest, each band cinched between my arms and body as it was tied. I felt something else however – the gag tightening, as something else was placed on top of the band of tape, something in addition to the cloth which I felt as it was tied at the back of my neck.
My ankles were untied and I was helped to stand up, as I stepped out of the van and onto gravel, then stone and wood, before I was helped to walk down some stairs. As I reached the bottom, I could hear some other soft mumbles.
The blindfold was removed from my eyes, and I blinked and looked round as I recognised the cellar at Holderness Manor. The two men helped me to sit on a folding bed, as I watched them bind my ankles and legs with more rope.
Suzie was on the bed next to mine, wearing a pair of bib shorts over a striped t-shirt, long socks and trainers, just as tightly bound and gagged as I was, with a red scarf tied over her mouth. Next to her was Patty, looking at me as her glasses sat over the black scarf, and then Rachel. Both girls were wearing short sleeved blouses and skirts, and seemed to be totally at ease.
Further over were Louise and Fiona, Louise in a blue cornflower print dress, and Fiona in a white sundress, both also tightly bound and gagged.
“Sgldlducldmktt,” Suzie said as I was helped to lie down on the bed, and a rope tied from my ankles to the foot, before the two men left. There were two more empty cot beds, and I figured I could guess who was going to be occupying them before too much longer.
Sure enough, a little while later we heard footsteps on the stairs, and the equally tightly bound and gagged Cassie and Jenny came down. Jenny was wearing a v-necked sweater and jeans, with black ankle boots, while Cassie had on a black polo shirt and shorts.
“Hgrrtthgnngslhhrrr,” she said as she was helped to sit on the camp bed, both of them watching as their ankles and legs were secured, and then tied to the foot of the bed.
“Enjoy the afternoon,” one of them said, and my eyebrows shot up as I recognised Charlie’s voice, before we went out.
“Keeethn,” Patty said as she looked up, “whsnntstnggg?”
“Dnttsksmmm,” Cassie said as she wriggled on the bed, “smmnngrbddssthm. Fmllrttthh.”
“Nfmmllssfng,” Cassie said as she looked at me. “Ntthfrsttmtshpndd.”
“”Whstgnnthtnn,” Louise said as she and Fiona tried to sit up – only to fall onto their backs again. The room laughed as Jenny said “Llrrttclmdnnnwww.”
“Tknnfrddd – uuu?”
That’s the problem with gag talk, you see – it really is incredibly difficult to understand, and for some reason, with this gag tighter than usual, that was even more the case.
As they tried talking to each other, I sat myself up and looked round, trying to figure out what was going on here. The last time this stunt was pulled was the Christmas before last, when we were all brought here for a party – only that time, they kinda sorta forgot to tell our parents they were doing it. That got Bobby, Colin and Martin – the boyfriends of Cassie, Jenny and Alicia – into a little bit of hot water, especially with Colin’s Dad – Detective Superintendant Barry Hampton, of Holderness CID.
However – given the fact I knew Mum had sent me out for no reason, I was fairly certain this as a game – which was more than Louise and Fiona did as Rachel and Patty sat up and tried to explain what was going on.
I looked over at Jenny, who was shaking her head and giggling into her gag, while Suzie and Cassie looked at each other.
Eventually, after a while, we heard the door to the cellar open, and the men who had brought me in walked down – along with a few friends, in a variety of heights, but all wearing boiler suits and black balaclavas.
“Ekkeke, spprrtmmm,” Suzie said as she watched one of them set down a tray. Going by sizes, I guessed we had Bobby, Colin, Martin, the Cottrell boys, and Charlie – so I really hope Tommy was there for Suzie’s sake. Each of them was carrying a bed tray, with a domed dish and a glass of juice on it, as they set them to the side of the room, and then stood by our beds, helping us to sit up as they slowly untied our upper bodies.
“Do not touch the gags,” I heard Bobby say, “Only remove them when we tell you to.”
“Wthshttymhmngnfths,” I mumbled as my captor released my arms.
“Do as we say, and everybody gets to go home afterwards,” he said, me smiling as I recognised Eric’s voice. So we all sat nice and compliant, as our hands were uncovered and we all rubbed our wrists.
“All right,” Bobby said as the tray was placed over our laps, “you may remove the gags.”
I reached behind my head and untied the scarf, and then looked at the others, as I saw the silver band over the white.
Cassie and Patty nodded as we unwound the silver band, and then the white band, before the soaking wet cleave gag and cloth came out of our mouths. The masked captors gathered up the material, and then left us to look at each other.
“Okay,” Louise said as she looked at Cassie, “what in the name of all that is good and nice is going on here? Fiona and I went to see the Cottrell boys today, but we didn’t get as far as the drive to the farmhouse before we were pulled into a van, trussed up and brought here!”
“Oh yeah – you hadn’t found out about our games back then,” Cassie said with a smile as she sipped her drink, “I think we’re been invited to a party.”
“A party,” Fiona said, “that’s one heck of a way to send out invitations! I take it they’ve pulled this off before – and who did it anyway?”
“At a guess? My darling brother and his friends for starters,” Suzie said as she lifted the dome off, and cut into her fish. “I was planning to have a nice quiet day in the treehouse, with a few books and some snacks, but as soon as I went into the larger of the rooms I was grabbed from behind, blindfolded, and then felt someone covering my hands. You can guess the rest – ropes, gags, journey, and hey presto I find myself in here with Louise and Fiona.”
“You sound as if this is an everyday occurrence,” Louise said as she picked up a chip.
“Sometimes I think it is around here,” Jenny said as she took a drink. “I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been surprised at home with someone covering my mouth.”
“For good or bad reasons,” I asked as I tried to put some peas on my fork.
“Both,” Jenny said as she shook her head. “Take today – I was finishing off some pre-work for history, when I had a cloth clamped over my nose and mouth, and a very, VERY familiar voice told me to breathe deep, and let the chloroform do its work.”
“They pulled the pretend you’re been put to sleep trick? I really hope that familiar voice was someone you trusted.”
“Implicitly,” Jenny said with a smile, “so I pretended to fall asleep, let him tie me up and gag me, and carry me to a van. I could hear Cassie there as well?”
“I got the classic ‘hands behind your back and do as I tell you’ line – although he did make me gag myself first before he tied me up.
“Which was nice.”
I shook my head as I saw the smile on Cassie’s face, so I told them how I was taken off the street.
“What about you two,” I said as I looked at Patty and Rachel.
“Well,” Rachel said with a giggle, “we were playing at my house. Mum had allowed us to tie her to a chair, with some rope under her tummy and her ankles tied to the crossbar. She was then watching as I tied Patty up – lightly, it has to be said. Mum’s still a little tender about these things.”
I looked at Patty as she nodded, and said “So there I was on the couch, Mrs Rigg in the chair, with a scarf tied between her lips, and Rachel had just tied a cleave gag into my mouth, when this masked guy walks in and grabs her – and then a second one comes in and helps to tie her up, gag her, and then blindfold both of us.”
“Now I think of it,” Rachel said, “Mum was laughing all the way through it. I should have known it was a setup then...”
“So this is all a big game?” Fiona laughed and said “all right – I guess I can get with that, so what happens next.”
“One of two possibilities,” I said. “Possibility one – we get untied, told to put on party clothes, and get taken to a party upstairs.”
“And possibility two?”
“We get untied, told to wash and change into night clothes – and tomorrow is a really interesting day.”
“Right now,” Cassie said, “let’s enjoy supper – and then we can see what happens next...”
Once we had all finished, the boys came back and took our trays away, then they untied our legs one by one as we were taken to the bathroom. I was third, as I saw Cassie and Suzie come back wearing long white nightgowns.
“Go in,” Eric said to me as he opened the door, “and prepare yourself for bed. You’ll find your nightdress on the stool in there.”
Going in, I saw a towel, soap, and our toothbrushes and toothpaste. There was also a folded white gown, which I glanced at before I stripped off and cleaned myself up.
Once I was washed and cleaned my teeth, I put my dirty clothes into a wash basket, and then put on the gown. It was really old fashioned, reaching the floor and covering my arms, with a lace collar and gathered cuffs.
As I walked back in, I saw that Cassie and Suzie were both in the process of being secured, as one of the boys handed me two sponges, and held up a roll of silver tape.
So – holding sponges in fists, taped over fists, socks over hands and socks taped to arms? Check.
Ropes holding my wrists crossed and together behind my back, and then rope around my waist, holding them in place? Check.
Bands of rope around my stomach, and above and below my chest, the latter annoying and confusing the hell out of me as they ribbed on me, particularly after he cinched them under my arms? Check.
Cloth in mouth, knotted strip of towelling, white tape round mouth, silver tape over white tape, and folded white cloth over all of that? Check.
Helped to sit down on bed, watching as ankles are secured? Check.
Band of rope around the skirt of my night gown, below and above my knees, holding the skirt of the night dress against my legs? Well, that was new, but it was that or he lifted the skirt up, so I lived with that.
Secured to the bed as I tried to get comfortable for the night, and watch all the others end up the same way as me? Check – but what was interesting to me was that the others all seemed to accept the long night dresses – even Louise and Fiona, although I guessed they had been told something.
Anyway, we were all on the beds, the lights turned off, as we slowly drifted off to sleep...
When I woke up the next morning, I rolled over and looked round, surprised to see that Cassie and Jenny had already gone, and the other girls were still sleeping. I looked to the stairs as one of the boys came down, and stood next to me, his finger to his lips.
“Sit up,” he said quietly, “I’m going to untie your legs, and then you need to come with me.”
I nodded as he untied me from the bed, and then removed the ropes from my legs, before he walked me up the stairs. I could see it was still fairly dark outside as we walked up the staircase and to one of the toilets.
“Now then,” he said as he started to unite my arms, “I will untie you, and uncover your hands, and then leave you. You may then remove your gag, and shower. Once you are finished, put on what you find and come out.”
I nodded as I shook my arms, and then went into the room. Removing my gag, I took off the nightgown and then stepped under the shower, letting the hot water wash over me as I cleaned myself up.
When I stepped out, my clothes and the gag had gone, and there was a bathrobe waiting for me. I put it on, the water dripping from my hair, and went out of the room to see my captor waiting for me, yawning before he saw me standing there.
“Sorry,” he said as he saw me, and I realised it was Bobby, “come with me please.” He walked me to one of the bedrooms, and then showed me in. Lying on the bed was a towel, and what looked like a short white nightdress.
And that was it – nothing else, so I dried my hair with the towel, as well as the rest of myself, and then looked for my bra and panties. They weren’t there, so I took off the robe and pulled the gown over my head, looking at myself as it covered me to my knees.
“Okay,” I said quietly, “what’s going to happen next?”
I slowly turned round at the familiar voice, my jaw dropping...
“It’s called a chemise,” one of the two women standing there said, and I realised it was Angela speaking, but she certainly did not look like Angela. And I wasn’t just talking about the fact both of them were wearing balaclavas so that only their eyes and mouths could be seen.
It was the clothes they were wearing. Angela was wearing a light blue Victorian style dress, with darker trim. The top of the dress was cut to look like a jacket, with buttons down the front and an open collar t show what looked like a white blouse, and white cuffs that came to the white gloves she was wearing. The skirt flowed out from her waist – her impossibly slim waist – and covered her feet. Finally, she had over the balaclava a bonnet, tied under her chin with a ribbon the same colour as the trim on her dress. It looked vaguely familiar, as if I had seen her in it somewhere before.
The other girl was as tall as Angela, and was wearing another Victorian dress, this one with an olive green blouse effect on top, and a tartan checked skirt with a lace like trim a few inches from the hem and a black fabric round her slim waist. She was also wearing cream gloves, and a brown bonnet with a lace trim, tied under her chin with a cream ribbon.
Something Cassie had told me about when they were held hostage at Markham Manor came to mind – that the women, Mrs McPhee, had dressed as a governess, complete with the balaclava, to play along, and I realised what was really going on here.
The two masked women put some piles of clothing on the bed, and then looked at me. Angela smiled as the second girl said in a West Country accent “the next thing you need to put on is these.”
She handed me what looked like a pair of knee length shorts, but when I looked closely I noticed there was a small problem with the par between my legs.
“What the... Are you serious?”
“Oh yes,” Angela said with a smile.
“But... I haven’t put on my underwear yet, and this...”
“Trust us,” the other girl said as she smiled, “you will understand why you need to wear this later. For now, let us help you to put them on.”
Well, it took several attempts – my foot kept going in the wrong hole – but with Angela’s help, I finally got them on, feeling very strange as a breeze blew there and the chemise was tucked in.
“Now then,” the second girl said, “you can put on these stockings and shoes.”
Well, that was easier, as I put on the white knee length stockings and put on the lace up ankle boots. “Why am I putting these on now,” I said as I stood up, feeling very strange already.”
“Now that,” Angela said as she picked up something that looked like a white sheet, with bars in it and laces, “is a very good question. We’re going to put this on next.”
The other girl walked behind me and passed it round me, Angela fastening it in front of me. She looked at me, and smiled, as she said “ready?”
“Ready for WHAAAAAOOOAAA,” I said as I felt the laces behind me been pulled tight, and I literally could not breath for a moment. This new garment was pulled round my stomach and waist, making it very difficult for me to catch my breath.
“Look at me Lisa.”
I looked in to Angela’s eyes as she said “slow, deep breaths, use your chest rather than your stomach. In... Out... In... Out...”
As I copied her, I realised my chest was moving up and down much more, and the faster I breathed the faster it went, but eventually I got the idea. When I had, I realised it actually wasn’t that bad – until I tried to bend down, and realised I couldn’t!”
“And that,” the other girl said, “is why you had to put the stockings and shoes on first. Ready to continue?”
“Sure – but what comes... I had to ask didn’t I?”
The girl was holding up what looked like a series of steel hoops, with leather straps running down to hold them together, and a strap round the waist. As she held it, it was flat, but then she placed it on the floor.
“This,” she said, “is a cage crinoline. You see the way our skirts flow out from our waists? Well, this is what helps us to do that.”
I looked at Angela, who lifted the skirt of her dress up to show me the cage underneath.
“It looks heavy?”
“Actually, it’s very light – the hoops are light spring steel, and the leather is strong and thin. Truthfully, this is lighter and far more comfortable then wearing five or six petticoats to get the same effect.”
“And how on earth do we get through narrow doors?”
“It’s flexible – you can gather in the cage and skirts to get through doors and narrow spaces, and it will snap back into shape afterwards. So, if you would stand in the centre of the cage?”
Nodding, I stepped in and waited as Angela pulled the cage up, the hoops falling as she tied the band round my waist. The other girl had been right – it did feel surprisingly light.
“One word of caution – you need to be careful when sitting, because you cannot lean forward, and if you sit too quickly or in the wrong way your skirts will fly up. So, all those lessons you learned on grace or deportment come into play for this time.”
I nodded – but I couldn’t resist the idea of jumping up and down, watching the hoops move and swing like a bell as I did so.
“Now,” Angela said as she picked up what looked like a white linen skirt, “the first petticoat. We put two on, to hide the shape of the cage when the dress goes on, and also to give the shape we need.”
As I put them on, I looked down at my white body, and then gasped as I looked at the dress Angela was holding up.
“But... But that’s the dress from the catalogue!”
“Yes, it is,” Angela said, “and you are going to wear it today.”
I was stunned, but as she lifted it over my head, and I put my arms through the sleeves, it felt so soft and wonderful. The other girl watched as Angela buttoned up the front, and then said “have a look at yourself in the mirror.”
As I looked on, I looked wonderful, the dress fitting me like a glove.
Which was what Angela handed me next – a pair of soft pink kid leather gloves, which I put on as she tied a pink bonnet to my hair by securing the ribbons under my chin.
“Now then,” Angela said, “my friend and I need to see to the others, so I want you to make your way downstairs for breakfast.”
“Thank you,” I said, giving a little curtsey before I left the room and walked slowly along the corridor. As I got to the top of the stairs, I lifted my skirts slightly and walked carefully down, breathing slowly as I reached the bottom.
“Good Morning, Miss Lisa.”
I smiled as I turned and saw Mrs Bridges there, wearing a long sleeved black dress and a white apron.
“Breakfast is currently been served in the dining room. If you would make your way through?”
“Thank you,” I said as I walked down the corridor, past the portraits, and then slowly opened the door.
“Hey Lisa – sleep well.”
“I did thanks,” I said as I looked at Cassie. She was wearing a blue dress with a checked pattern and dark trim, the top like Angela’s and with a white collar and cuffs. She also had on white gloves, and a large bonnet with black ribbons tied under her chin.
She and Jenny were standing by what looked like a buffet, her older sister wearing a long blue dress with a black trim on the top half, and again white collar, cuffs and gloves. She had a small cap perched on her head, and both of them were moving as if nothing unusual was going on.
“You get used to it,” Jenny said as she looked at me, “just remember what Angela told you. At least these fit better than the ones at Markson Manor.”
“That’s easy for you to say,” I heard someone else say in a North American accent, and I turned to see a blonde haired girl sat at the table, wearing a light grey dress with purple cuffs and a purple underskirt at the bottom o f her dress. Her bonnet also had purple ribbons which hung down the front of her dress to her waist, and then more ribbons from her waist to the hem.
“You remember Heidi, don’t you Lisa?”
“Of course I do – and Cindy as well.”
“Hey Lisa,” the dark haired girl next to Heidi said from her seat. She was wearing a peach silk dress, buttoned up the front, and a peach hat with feathers on her head.
“What are you two doing here?”
“Well, right now, getting used to having to breathe a different way in these things and having breakfast,” Heidi said with a smile. “Grab some and come on over.”
I helped myself to some food, and then walked over with Jenny and Cassie, watching them move as if they were wearing jeans and t-shirts, before they sat themselves down on the seats. I took my time, making sure my skirts did not gather or flip up as I sat down, but I also soon discovered with the corset on there was no way I could slouch.
“Deportment and manners,” I said to myself as I straightened my back, sat back and began to eat.
“That’s the secret,” Jenny said with a smile, “with these on, you have to be a real lady.”
“Can I ask a question? Your dresses...”
“Yeah,” Cindy said, “we’re all apparently wearing dresses we picked out of the catalogue Angela showed us. She brought a copy over to the US for us to look at.”
“Oh wow,” I said quietly as I ate some ham, “so this is all because of what happened at Markson Manor?”
“Partly, I think,” Cassie said, “although I’d love to find out how they got these dresses up here.”
“Angela must have known for sometime this was going to happen,” Heidi said as she picked up a glass of orange juice and sipped from it.
“And yet she didn’t say a word during the entire trip – neither did Alicia.”
“Hey Nats,” Jenny said as she looked to the door, “I like that one.”
“It does suit me doesn’t it,” Natalie said as she came in. She was wearing a reddish brown dress with a light tartan print, and a peach bonnet with silk ribbons tied under her chin.
“How does it feel?”
“Not as bad as I thought it would,” Natalie said as she went to the buffet table, “although I did have to persuade her to do my own thing with it.”
“Oh lord,” Cassie said, “you’re not...”
“I am,” Natalie said as she raised her skirts, to reveal her bare feet and legs.
“Lord help you if we go outside today,” Heidi said with a grin.
“Oh come on – it’s not the first time I’ll have walked to the lake and back barefoot. Now this does smell good...”
“It’s called kedgeree,” Jenny said, “rice, fish, peas, with rice and a little spice. Very Victorian.”
“So I guess we’re all going to be wearing clothes like this,” I said as I sat next to Cassie.
“Of course, we are, my dear friend – it does so make us more polite and mannered, does it not my dear Rachel?”
“It does indeed, my dear Patricia.”
“Oh lord,” Jenny said, rolling her eyes as Patty and Rachel came in, walking slowly as their skirts moved with them. Patty was wearing a light brown dress, with white cuffs and collar, the sleeves and indeed the body of the dress arranged in layers. A matching bonnet was tied over her hair with purple ribbons. As for Rachel, she was smiling as she walked in her pink dress, again with a white collar and cuffs. Her dress was designed so that it looked as if she had a long jacket on over a white blouse and skirt, while her bonnet was secured with white ribbons.
“You both look as if you’ve worn these clothes all your life, instead of one weekend,” Heidi said as they got some food and sat carefully down.
“True – but it feels so much more comfortable,” Rachel said.
“Really – feels funny to us.”
We all looked at Louise and Fiona, both girls wearing grey dresses. For Louise, the dress had a light purple trim and belt, her bonnet secured with pink and grey ribbons, while Fiona’s had the same style as Rachel, with turquoise trim, a matching ribbon tied round her hat.
“My tummy feels really funny,” Fiona said as she looked at the buffet, “can I really eat?”
“Of course,” Patty said, “but slowly and carefully.”
“Listen to Miss Pickering, girls – she is making good sense.
“Har de har har, Miss Bowden,” Patty said as she stuck her tongue out at Alicia in a very unladylike manner. “Where were you last night anyway?”
“With my guests,” Alicia said with a smile. Her hair was pulled back, and she wore a brown silk robe that I remember seeing her wearing during a scene in the film. She placed some food on a plate, sat herself down, and said “Hello everyone – I trust you all slept well?”
“Like a log,” Cassie said, “where’s Suzie?”
“Right here,” Suzie said as she came in, wearing a blue-grey checked dress with a three tiered skirt, and a matching bonnet. She walked gracefully to the table and helped herself, before sitting down. She then looked down the table and said “Cindy? You’re here with Heidi and Natalie?”
“Quick on the uptake today, isn’t she,” Cassie said as she looked at me.
“Yes we’re here,” Cindy said, “surprise!”
“Well, it’s going to be a great day then.”
“We both hope so.”
Looking to the doorway, we saw Angela and the other girl standing there, Angela smiling as she removed her bonnet and the balaclava from her head. The second girl did the same, revealing a brown haired girl who smiled as she said “that feels better – how did she manage to keep that on for two days?”
“I don’t want to know,” Angela said as I tried to think of where I had seen her before. “Okay – Gerri, let me introduce Lisa, Louise and Fiona on one side, and Heidi, Cindy and Natalie on the other side. Girls, this is Lady Geraldine Markson, who was the costume adviser on The Awakening.”
“Call me Gerri,” she said with a smile, “and it’s a real pleasure to see all of you, some of you under slightly less – restricting circumstances.”
As they sat at the table, I looked at Heidi and said “So where were you last night?”
“Honestly? We were upstairs – thanks to a certain older and far too cunning sister.”
“Now come on Alicia,” Angela said as she looked over the table, “you enjoyed it eventually.”
“Once I got over the shock of Martin and Eddie waiting inside the SUV as Mister Bridges put our cases in the back,” Alicia said with a smile. “We’d all managed to get some sleep on the flight over, but were still a bit groggy, so as we got into the car we saw them both waiting, masked and holding some sets of handcuffs. They cuffed our wrists behind out back, tape gagged and blindfolded us, and then brought us here.”
“So,” Suzie said, “while we were been gathered downstairs...”
“We were watching from the playroom window,” Heidi said, “tied to chairs and quite securely gagged, thank you very much. Martin and Eddie took very good care of us – you two are very lucky women you know.”
Angela and Alicia both smiled as Natalie said “anyway – like you, we were tied to the beds, and then these two lovely instructors helped us to put these clothes on today.”
“So were these costumes used in the film,” Louise said.
“They are indeed – how do they feel?”
“Different – and you literally took my breath away, but I’m slowly getting used to it,” I said.
“I have to say, it feels much more comfortable than when we wore them at the Manor,” Rachel said.
“Ah – well, there is one crucial difference this time,” Gerri said, “the corsets actually do fit you. I had them made up for you before coming. When we had to wear them at Markson Manor, I had to sue the closest fit, but these should be much better for you.”
“They are,” Cassie said, “so you brought all the costumes with you?”
“I did indeed,” Gerri said. “Father had told me he was coming to Holderness to do some business with Lord Holderness, and he asked if I would come along – which is when Angela and I planned this.”
“So when we were looking at the catalogue,” Heidi said, “and we said which dresses we really liked...”
“I picked them out of my collection, had them adjusted and the corsets made, and brought them with me the day before yesterday,” Gerri said. “That’s why, very quietly, I had Angela send me your measurements in advance.”
“Hang on,” Alicia said, “you knew this was going to happen before we even set off?”
“Oh yes,” Angela said as she patted her lips, “and before you ask, I knew Heidi, Cindy and Natalie were going to come over for a week as well.”
“Well, it’s a fantastic surprise,” Patty said. “I mean, when we were at your house, Gerri, it was fun, but I really feel as if I could have been in the film as well.”
“I have to say,” Heidi said, “when Angela showed us the film – which I hope you didn’t mind her doing – it was a really good and moving one.”
“Thanks – I’ll pass on the compliment to my brother,” Gerri said with a smile.
“So where is Grandma and Grandfather,” Suzie said as she looked at Angela.
“They went out for the day with my mother and father,” Gerri said as she sipped on some tea, Mrs Bridges refilling her cup. “So do the corsets all fit?”
“It’s certainly a lot more comfortable than before,” Cassie said.
“Well, it’s like someone’s giving my tummy a really long and tight hug – it’s nice, but it still needs getting used to,” I said quietly.
“Good,” Gerri said as she took another sip, “because they’re yours.”
There was a collective silence as we all – including Angela – looked at Gerri.
“I’m not joking. As Alicia and Angela can tell you, I have an extensive collection of costumes at home, which was only added to by the film, so I needed to make some room. I thought about what to do, and then I realised there was this group of girls who liked to play dress up – so why not let you have them?
“One word – the corsets are made for you, and as the others will tell you, it is more uncomfortable if you wear a corset that does not quite fit.”
“This is an amazing gift,” Cindy said, “thank you for the dresses.”
“Not just the dresses – you need the full costume, so everything is included.”
“Can I ask,” Heidi said, “an – indelicate question?”
“The pants? Trust me – you will thank us later,” Angela said with a smile, those of us who had been at Markson Manor all nodding in agreement. “Grandmother has already said she will arrange shipping for the three of you – might cause some comments at your end if you take them in your case.”
“So what are we going to do this morning,” I asked as we finished eating.
“Well, I cannot speak for you lot,” Angela said, “but I’m taking Gerri on a tour of the manor house. It’s a dry morning though – so outside with all of you.”
“Want to take a walk down to the lake,” Alicia said as she looked at Jenny and the American girls, all of them nodding as they stood up, but their bonnets on and headed out.
“Let’s go out onto the lawn,” Patty said as the younger girls headed off in a group, while I went out onto the path outside the windows with Suzie and Cassie.
“Getting used to it,” Suzie said with a wink as we watched the others walking down to the trees.
“Very very slowly – I mean, can you do everything else in this costume? Can you jump, run, skip – I mean...”
“I know what you mean,” Cassie said as she looked to a nearby tree. “Tell you what – you and Suzie have a race over to that tree.”
“I’m game of she is,” I said as I looked at Suzie. She just nodded as Cassie said “All right – on your marks, get set – go!”
We both gathered up our skirts and started running. I was a little hesitant to begin with, but when I saw Suzie going a little more slowly than I knew she could go, so I set off full speed, easily passing her as I got closer to the trees...
But then I realised I was getting short of breath, and my chest was moving faster and faster, so I stopped and sat down, my skirts gathering round me as Suzie passed me by.
I was panting like crazy, as Cassie came and sat carefully next to me.
“Remember what Angela said – slow, deep breaths,” she said as she put an arm round me, and Suzie walked back over.
“Sorry – that was cruel,” she said as she sat down as well, “we should have warned you not to run full pelt. The corset means you don’t breathe in the same way, so you have to take things a little slower.”
From where we were sitting, we could see the younger girls playing tag, Fiona and Louise running fast and then having to stop as Patty and Rachel teased them.
“Come on,” I said as I stood up, “let’s try that again.” I started to run, more slowly this time as I got the hang of how to do it, before we went and joined the others.
As we joined in, I could see Angela and Gerri walking round outside, Angela holding a basket as she pointed something out, and then they disappeared round the side of the house.
I lost track of time, before we all heard a young male voice say “excuse me?”
We all turned to see a stranger standing there. He looked to be about Eddie Holmes’ age, and was tall with short blonde hair. He was wearing a suit and an open necked shirt.
“Sorry to interrupt your fun,” he said as he looked at us, “but I’m looking for Geraldine Markson. I was told she was here at Holderness Manor.”
“Gerri? I think she went to the other side of the house with Angela,” Cassie said with a little curtsey.
“Come with me,” I said as I started to walk up the lawn, “I’ll take you to her.”
“So are all of you dressed as Victorian ladies,” he said as we approached the house.
“We are – Geri has very kindly given us these outfits.”
I looked at him – I knew he wasn’t Alun, her brother, because I’d seen pictures of him, and I wondered if he was her boyfriend.
“So have you known Gerri for long?”
“You might say we were childhood playmates,” he said as we walked round the side of the manor house, and saw them sitting on a garden seat, Angela kneeling in front of Gerri, who had her back to us. There was something different about her, as the young man said “thanks,” and ran towards her.
I tried to keep up with him, as he called out her name, but as I got closer he stopped while Gerri suddenly turned round. As I caught up with him, I could see why, as Gerri said “Hmggdddkneee,” her eyes wide over the knotted cleave gag.
“Ah,” Angela said quietly, “I assure you, there is a perfectly logical explanation for this, mister...”
Both of them were blushing as the young man looked at both of them, before I heard a familiar voice behind me say “Ken, did you... Ah. I see you did find them.”
“Eddie – you any idea what’s going on here?”
“Actually, I do – Ken, I’d like you to meet my fiancée, Angela Bowden. Angela, this is Ken Stobbs – Geri’s boyfriend.”
“Your boyfriend?” Angela looked at Gerri, who nodded as she blushed even more.
“Yup,” Ken said as he looked at Gerri. “I was meant to come along as well, but I had to go to a meeting with Eddie. It finished early, so Eddie offered to drive me out to Holderness to catch up. I met Viscount Markson in town with Lord Holderness and their wives, and they said to come up to the manor house. They didn’t say what I would find, however...”
“Right,” Eddie said as Angela quickly untied Gerri. “Why don’t we go into the house – I can tell you something about this...”
“Lisa,” Angela said with a smile, “it’s actually getting close to lunchtime. Would you find the others and ask them to come to the house please?”
“Sure,” I said as I watched them walk round the path, Eddie talking to Ken, while I went in the opposite direction and caught up with the others.
“So who’s the new guy,” Cassie said as I caught up with them.
“Well, it’s lunch time, so I’ll let Angela make the introductions. We’re to come in now.”
We made a most exquisite procession as we ascended to the manor house, talking to each other as we made our way towards the...
Oh lord – I just slipped into Austin mode, didn’t I? Anyway, a few minutes later we were all sitting round the dining table, Eddie and Ken the odd ones out in their modern dress.
As Mrs Bridges served lunch, Angela said “Ladies, as you can see we have an additional guest, Ken Stobbs. Ken, allow me to introduce...”
As she went round the table, we nodded before he said “it’s a very great pleasure to meet all of you. Gerri had told me about some of you, after the unfortunate incident at Markson Manor, but I have to say to see all of you attired in this way is something very special.”
“So have you known Gerri long,” Heidi asked.
“Most of our lives – we attended the same primary school, and I’ve visited the manor on many occasions. I’ve even helped out with tours from time to time, dressed as a Victorian gentleman of course.”
“Naturally,” Alicia said, “as is only right and proper.”
“Anyway,” Ken said, “we’ve been going out for a couple of years now, and I thought I knew everything about her – turns out I was wrong. So what are these tie-up games Eddie told me about as we came in?”
“Oh we love playing them,” Patty said with a big grin, “and Gerri likes it as well. If you really are her boyfriend, and want to please her, you should tie her up as well!”
“Oh yes,” Rachel said as Cassie, Suzie and I looked at them, “our boyfriends do it to us, and we really like it when they do.”
“Girls,” Angela said quietly, “I think you could show a little less enthusiasm – you are embarrassing our guest.”
I looked at Gerri, who was so red you could have cooked an egg on her forehead, as Patty and Rachel looked down and said “Sorry, Angela. Sorry, Gerri.”
“Well, if you want the honest truth,” Ken said with a little smile, “I don’t know how to.”
“Oh Cassie can teach you – she taught us,” Patty said, and then mumbled “sorry” again.
“Perhaps that can be arranged after Lunch,” Angela said as she rolled her eyes. “For now, let us sit and eat.”
“I have to say,” Eddie said, changing the subject, “you all look fantastic in those outfits. Gerri did a fantastic job in getting them adjusted to fit you.”
“She did – and thank you again Gerri,” Angela said with a sigh of relief.
“As I said, it was my pleasure,” Gerri said as she looked round the table.
“So why were you not surprised by how we were dressed,” Cindy said as she wiped her mouth.
“Oh I knew what Angela and Gerri were planning – after all, I helped bring you here from the airport,” Eddie said with a smile. “Angela told me about what happened when some of you went down there.”
“Can I ask a question,” Natalie said, “why the corset? I mean, I’m thin anyway, but...”
“It supports the skirts, so that the cage underneath does not cut into your waist,” Gerri said. “It also supports the chest – the bra wasn’t invented until 1914 as we currently know it. Besides, as you can tell, it aids correct posture for the lady of the time.”
“So it would be noticeable if we didn’t wear it?”
“Oh yes – you can tell just by looking at someone in these costumes if they are not wearing a corset. The dresses of the time were designed with the corset in mind, so if you don’t wear one, it doesn’t fit properly and hangs too loosely, if it fits at all. The corset and the cage make sure the skirts hang properly. More to the point, if you did not, the cage hurts too much, and the weight of the petticoats and skirt would drag you down.”
“So in other words,” Heidi said, “no corset, no dress?”
“Precisely – but as I said, so long as the corset fits properly, it’s not uncomfortable once you get used to the way you have to breathe.”
“We gentlemen definitely had it easier,” Ken said as he looked at Eddie.
“Anyway,” Angela said as she wiped her mouth, “when Lunch is finished, please do whatever you require to do.”
As Suzie and I made our way to the toilet, I said quietly “On a practical point, Suzie, how do we...”
“Well,” Suzie said as she looked round, “there’s a reason there’s no crotch in the panties.”
Suzie merely nodded as I went in, locked the door, lifted my skirts and sat down...
“Okay, I understand now,” I said to Suzie as I came out, “and I guess that’s why skirts were so long as well?”
“Got it in one – Eddie was wondering if you’d go to the library? I’ll join you in there when I’m finished.”
“Sure,” I said as I walked in, to see Cassie in there with Eddie and Ken.
“Thanks for coming in,” Eddie said, “I think Ken here needs to learn something of how you girls play tie-up games – just in case. So when Suzie gets here, perhaps you can show him while I watch as chaperone?”
“Sure,” I said as Suzie came in. I could see a box of supplies on the floor, as Ken said “so, where do we start?”
“Well,” Cassie said as she stood up, “Lisa and Suzie will be our volunteers. I’ll show you what to do on Lisa, and then you can try on Suzie, all right?”
I could see he was nervous, as Cassie took two lengths of rope from the box and handed one to him. “Okay, double the rope over and then stand behind Suzie. Can you two cross your wrists behind your back?”
Ken watched as Cassie passed the ropes around my wrists, and secured them, before he tried to do it to Cassie. It took him a few tries – Cassie just shook the rope off the first time, and then twisted free – but eventually we both nodded to show our wrists were secured properly.
“And this really doesn’t hurt,” he said as he looked at both of us.
“Not really – if it’s done properly, like this, it’s very comfortable,” Suzie said.
“Now,” Cassie said, “that’s not enough – we need to secure their arms to the bodies.”
She started by showing him how to tie the rope round our waist that kept our wrists against our back, and then progressed to the band around our stomachs. With this corset on, I barely felt the ropes, but I knew my arms were already locked in place.
We nodded when Eddie suggested the extra ropes – I was fascinated by the fact I could only feel the band above my chest, even when Cassie showed Ken how to tighten them with the shorter ropes under our arms – but it felt different, as I had to breathe using my chest and it moved with it.
“All right,” Cassie eventually said as Ken finished, “I think they have their upper bodies secured now. Why don’t you sit down, and I’ll show him how to secure your legs.”
Suzie and I looked at each other and gracefully sat, while Cassie and Ken secured our ankles side by side.
“Now, we have a small problem,” Cassie said. “TO be really secure, we need to secure their legs below their knees, but a gentleman would not look under the skirts of a lady.”
“I think we’ll let it pass just this once,” Eddie said, “go on, but be careful.”
So Suzie and I giggled as they carefully lifted our skirts back, and secured our legs below our knees.
“There,” Cassie said as she and Ken stood up, “Nice and secure, aren’t they?”
“I think so,” Ken said as he scratched the back of his head.
Eddie started laughing as Suzie and I stood up and shifted back to back, looking over our shoulders as we tried to undo the knots on our wrists. It wasn’t as easy as usual – because of the hoops and the skirts, when we stood back to back the skirts tipped up to reveal our bound ankles and our shins.
Having said that, five minutes later Ken was saying “how did...” as our arms were free, and the ropes on the floor.
“Not bad,” Eddie said. “Tell him what you didn’t do that time?”
“If you don’t want us to use our fingers, you need to cover their hands,” Cassie said as she took four sponges from the box. “Let me show you, and then you can copy me.”
So Ken covered Suzie’s hands as Cassie did mine, and we found ourselves retied as we faced each other, the ropes now sitting over our sock and tape covered hands.
“Okay,” Ken said as he stood with Cassie, “they can’t use their fingers now, can they?”
“No, no we can’t,” Suzie said as she looked at me, “ready?”
The others watched as Suzie jumped round and behind me, before she squatted down and started to use her teeth to untie the ropes around my chest. As she pushed against me, my skirt rose up again, and I hoped I was not revealing too much...
Eventually, I felt the ropes loosen, and shook them off. I then used my mouth to untape and uncover one hand, and then free the other, before I untied Suzie.
“All right, I see the problem,” Ken said, “You can use your teeth as well. So how do we stop that?”
“He had to ask...”
“Let’s get them secured in the same way again,” Cassie said, “and I’ll show you how.”
“Well, might as well go all the way – Hollywood usually gets it wrong,” Cassie said in a frightening impression of Angela once we were properly tied, and sitting down. She took two clean cloths, folded them and handed one to Ken, before saying “open wide ladies.”
I allowed Ken to push the cloth into my mouth, trying not to giggle at how nervous he was, before he was handed a knotted strip of towel and told to use that as a cleave gag.
“All right,” he said as he looked at me and Suzie, “I get that they can’t talk now, but surely they can still use their teeth?”
“Indeed,” Cassie said as she picked up the roll of white tape, “but not in a few minutes. Watch what I do, and then do the same to Lisa – and don’t worry about the hair. This tape won’t cause any problems.”
So we both watched as she wrapped the tape round Suzie’s head, and then handed it to Ken, using some duct tape on Suzie as he covered my mouth. Once he had used the silver tape on me, they folded a cloth each and tied that over the gag, before securing our bonnets over our heads.
“And there you have it,” Cassie said with real pride, “easy when you know how, right?”
“I guess it is – and you all are happy to play these games?”
We both nodded as Cassie looked over at Eddie.
“Eddie, would you mind...”
“Didn’t see that one coming,” he said with a smile as he picked up some sponges – and a few minutes later, Cassie was as tightly bound and gagged as us.
“Come on, let’s find the girls,” Eddie said as he and Ken walked out, leaving the door open as we looked at each other.
There was an unspoken discussion, and one thought, as Cassie stood up and started to hop towards the door. She took shorter hops than usual, Suzie following her, and as I copied them I realized this was what I needed to do to keep my breath.
Even with that, I had to stop and get my breath. IT was funny the way our skirts jumped up and down as we did this, and the rustling of the silk and petticoats, but the way my chest moved up and down, the rope across the top the only one I could really feel...
Anyway, we made our way along the corridor and looked in some of the rooms, eventually arriving at the drawing room where Angela and Gerri were sitting.
“Ah,” Gerri said as she looked at us, “so you did show Ken how to do this after all?”
We all nodded as Angela said “well, the others are still outside, so would you like to play hide and seek? Gerri and I can help two of you, and the other one looks?”
Cassie jumped up and down at this, so Suzie and I went with Angela and Gerri to hide first. Now, here’s what you need to remember – we had on full Victorian dresses, and no way of gathering our skirts to try and get into a hiding place, right?
So, even with their help, we were reasonably easy to find, although we all got to take a turn, before we went back outside. When we went out, I heard Eddie say “well, after you all changed today, I drove the boys into Holderness so that they could pick up a few things and then went on to the meeting with Ken. So no, I didn’t see anyone except Angie, Alicia and the Americans – ah, there you are.”
I could see the others, with the exception of Angela and Gerri, were just as tightly bound and gagged as the rest of us. Gerri was sitting next to Ken, while Angela was walking down the garden.
“All right then,” Eddie said, “a little race I think – one from each age group. Volunteers?”
Naturally, Patty jumped up and down, while Suzie and Alicia looked at each other before jumping over to join her.
“Simple route – first to where Angel had placed the basket wins. On your marks... Get set... GO!”
We all watched as the three of them started to move forwards, taking small hops as they did so, while Angela started to walk back towards the house. I could see they all were doing this as naturally as they usually would – except they were taking smaller jumps, and stopping for a few seconds after each one.
I wondered why that was the case as Angela and Eddie stood behind me, and then I – well, I just got bored, so I started jumping at full speed after them. Very quickly, however, I realised just how stupid that was, but my momentum kept me going until I actually fainted.
Fortunately, Eddie was right behind me and caught me, helping me to stand up as I managed to get my breathing under control.
“Are you all right,” Angela said as she looked at me, not paying any attention to the race, “I told you earlier you cannot breathe as much as you usually can wearing these clothes, especially the corset – and then...”
“Ssss... Sorry,” I panted, “I forgot, but...”
“Well done Suzie,” the other girls called out as we looked to where she was jumping up and down.
“Slow and steady, and lady like, all right?”
I nodded as we walked back to the others, and Eddie said “now, how about those who have never been tied up like this having a go. Lisa?”
“Lllrrtt,” I mumbled as Natalie and Louise came to join me at the start, all of us trying to copy the first three as we were sent on our way. This time, I copied the others, short hops with a stop to breathe – but that didn’t stop Natalie managing to do what she does best, beat us all in this sort of race. I noticed as well her bare feet and shins, and the fact Louise had ankle boots on like me, but it really became a two horse race.
For second place, as Natalie won comfortably. It actually was neck and neck, but I just managed to beat Louise before we all fell to the ground.
“I think that’s enough exercise in that state for all of you,” Angela said as we were all untied and ungagged, “Now, make sure you keep out of trouble for the afternoon.”
“Now what sort of trouble do you honestly think we could get into,” Cassie said as she stretched out.
“No comment,” Angela said as Gerri and Ken walked back to the house with her and Eddie.
“They make a nice couple, don’t they?”
“Angela and Eddie?”
“Oh them too,” Suzie said, “but I meant Ken and Gerri. They look as if they belong together.”
“Yeah, I guess they do,” I said as I walked back up to the house with them. “So, back to school again soon.”
“Yeah,” Cassie said, “I heard Aunt Cassie talking to Aunt Jo about it the other day. Something about new lessons and things they have to do.”
“Mum’s the same,” I said as we went to the door, “Mum was in the school from Thursday last week, mumbling something about new admissions and rules.”
“So now you’ve had it on all day,” Cassie said, “what do you think of the outfits?”
“I like it – it’s comfortable, and yeah it feels different, but it’s nice so long as I don’t try to run,” I said. “I just wish it wasn’t so fiddly to put on, or that you didn’t need help to put it on.”
“Well, you don’t really,” Suzie said, “it’s very easy to put on yourself. You have to remember things like putting on shoes before the other clothes, and squatting to pull the cage up and secure it round your waist, but otherwise it’s simple.”
“Apart from the corset,” Cassie said, “although Gerri said there are some videos on line that show you how to do it.”
“Well, I suppose practice makes perfect...”
“Hey Cuz,” Suzie said as we came up to Angela and Eddie, “any chance you can teach Lisa how to put these clothes on herself?”
“Perhaps later,” Angela said as I realised I had something urgent to do.
“I need to...”
“Gotcha,” Cassie said, “Suzie and I will go and join the others.”
As they headed down the lawn, I went inside, and then to the toilet, locking the door behind me as I gathered my skirts together and sat down. When I had finished, and washed my hands, I walked down the hallway, thankful once again the skirts were so long.
I lifted my skirts and walked up the stairs, and then along, but as I passed one of the bedrooms I saw a picture hanging on the wall. It wasn’t a room I had been in before, but as I went in I saw the large bed, and the furniture around the room.
Looking at the picture, I realised it was as if I was looking at Alexander Holderness and Anne Bowden – but it couldn’t be. The clothes made it look as if it was taken in the early nineties, and there was a young boy and girl standing with the couple. The boy looked so much like Bobby, and the girl Alicia, it was frightening.
“This must be Lord and Lady Holderness,” I said to myself, and then I heard voices coming closer. In a panic, I looked round and saw a wooden door, and walked quickly over, opening it to find a small walk in wardrobe.
There was just enough room for me to hide in it, but I had to gather my skirts round me, and push the cage totally out of shape. I barely had time to close the door, and certainly no room to move, as I looked out of the slats in the door.
“We can talk in here – Angie said it would be all right,” I heard Gerri say as she came in, Ken following her in with a bag in his hand, before she closed the door.
“Well, this has been quite a day,” Ken said as he put the bag down, and then put his arms round Gerri’s waist. “Enjoying your visit?”
“Very much so – it’s been nice to see some of the girls again, and meet their friends. Even the American ones,” Gerri said as she put her arms round his neck and looked into his eyes. “But you been able to make it made it a really special day.”
I had to watch – honestly, I had no choice – as they started kissing, gently, slowly, and stood there for what seemed like an eternity. As I watched them, I wondered what it would be like if Eric and I were to do that – he’d probably run a mile if I suggested it, then maybe...
“Hmm, that was nice,” Gerri said when they eventually stopped, “Want to...”
The knock on the door made them both look over, before Gerri suddenly lifted her skirts up, and I was amazed as Ken went underneath, the skirts covering him completely as Gerri let the cage and skirts fall back into position.
I was amazed that he had done that – he was taller than Gerri, but thinner, so physically fine, but what was he looking at...
“Ah, there you are,” Angela said as she came in.
“Hey,” Gerri said, “I was looking at the picture. Are they your grandparents?”
“Yeah – that’s Dad and Aunt Anne,” Angela said as she stood and looked at the picture with Gerri. “I hope it was all right for me to look in here?”
“Oh it’s fine – Grandma and Granddad don’t usually like others coming into their bedroom, but they’re not here. Where’s Ken?”
“Oh he’s somewhere round,” Gerri said as she smiled. I then realised this was not the first time he had probably done this.
“What’s funny,” Angela said as Gerri suddenly giggled.
“Oh nothing,” she said as she regained her composure.
“Okay,” Angela said as she looked at her in a funny way, “well, I’ll see you downstairs in a few minutes.”
“Of course,” Gerri said as I watched Angela turn and walk out, closing the door behind herself.
“Now that was close,” Ken said as he emerged.
“No kidding? Did you have to do that?”
“I don’t see you complaining.”
“No – no I didn’t,” Gerri said as she kissed him. “Reminded me of when Mum and Dad walked in on us in the viewing room at the manor, and...”
“Yeah – that was fun,” Ken said quietly as he picked up the bag, and nervously looked round. “Gerri – when I got here...”
“Yeah – look, when we were held hostage that weekend, it was the way the girls treated the whole thing as a game that amazed me. When I was bound the same way as them, I realized it was their coping mechanism. So I tried to look at it that way.”
“And do you like it?”
I saw the smile on Gerri’s face as she said “yeah – if the right person is doing it?”
“Would I be the right person?”
Gerri smiled and nodded as she said “if you wanted to...”
“Well,” Ken said as I watched him open the bag, “I was hoping you would say that...”
“Oh my – did you bring enough to everything?”
“Well, my very good teacher isn’t around, but I’ll try,” he said as he handed Gerri two sponges, watching as she made fists with her gloved hands before he started to tape them slowly over.
“Are you nervous or something, Ken?”
“Or something,” he said as he pulled a pair of white socks over the silver fists, and then taped them in place onto her arms. Guiding her hands behind her back, I watched as he lashed her wrists together with the first length of rope, making sure and taking care to cinch it, and then to use another length around her waist.
As he tied her lower arms to her stomach, he gave Gerri a little kiss on the side of her neck, and then said “So, my lady, do you wish me to continue?”
“Oh you know I do – and yes, you may add both bands if you so wish.”
“Well, if my lady insists,” Ken said with a smile as he started to wrap the rope around her above and below her chest, Gerri actually closing her eyes and nodding as he pulled them tighter, and then used smaller lengths to cinch them under her arms, between them and her body.
“Eddie was mentioning a different way of doing this,” Ken said as he tied the last one off.
“You’ll need to tell me about that another time,” Gerri said before he kissed her again, and then picked out two lengths of rope before he disappeared under her skirts again. I could see her smile and heard her gaps once, but from the way she was moving I guessed he was binding her ankles and legs as well.
“Hey – Careful down there, young man.”
“Now what is it you think I am doing?”
“I know exactly what it is you are doing,” Gerri said as Ken crawled out, and then stood up.
“What? What is it?”
“I don’t know,” Ken said as he looked at her, “if I have told you today just how beautiful you look.”
“Well, the outfit does complement...”
“No – I meant how beautiful you look, regardless of whatever you may be wearing.”
Through the slats in the door, I watched as he took Gerri’s head in his hands and gently kissed her lips, her eyes opening wide before she slowly closed them and kissed him back.
“Now what on earth has brought that on, Kenneth Arthur Stobbs?”
“You know I’ve always been fond of you, ever since we were kids Gerri?”
“Yeah – and I...”
“Hush,” he said as he placed his finger on her lips, “let me say this please.”
Gerri looked at him again as he said “Gerri, I’m more than fond of you. I think I loved you from the first time we met, but over the last couple of years that’s become something a bit more than just friendship, true?”
Gerri just nodded, looking as confused as I felt, as Ken said “Well, I think you feel the same way I do, and because of that, there is something I want to say.”
I had to put my hand to my mouth as he got on one knee, took a small box from his pocket and opened it, before he showed it to Gerri and said “Geraldine Victoria Markson, will you do me the ultimate honour of becoming my wife?”
“Yes,” she said quietly, “yes, I would, I really would...”
Ken stood up and kissed her again, before he held a folded cloth in front of her mouth and I watched him push it in, and then remove her bonnet as he proceeded to add the layers of the gag.
When he had tied the cloth over the tape bands, and replaced the bonnet, he gently kissed her again no her gagged lips, as I sighed – and then sneezed.
Both of them suddenly looked in my direction, as Ken walked over and opened the door.
“Errr – hi?”
“Well, perhaps you had better come out,” Ken said as I left the closet, noticing and thankful as my cage snapped back into shape. He then looked at the windows, and walked over to close the curtains over them before he came back to me.
“Look, I’m really sorry,” I said, “I was in the room, heard someone coming, panicked, hid...”
“Tssllrrtt,” Gerri said as Ken looked at both of us.
“I assume you heard everything?”
I could only nod as Ken said “look, we’re not angry, but we need you to keep it a secret for now. I need to talk to Gerri’s father and ask his permission formally, and we’d rather announce it after that ourselves, in our own way.”
I nodded, and then said “I guess you’ll have to keep me quiet then...”
I watched as Ken went to his bag, and took out two more sponges, Gerri nodding as I gripped them in my hands, and smiled as he tore the end of the tape loose....
Fifteen minutes later, he was replacing my bonnet having put the gag in place, and my upper body snugly secured. I marvelled again at how different it felt, with only the band of rope on the top of my chest able to be felt by me – but given every time I breathed I felt it on me that was distraction enough.
“I am afraid, as a gentleman, I cannot bind your legs,” Ken said as Gerri looked at me, “so this is as far as I can go.” Opening the door, I gave a little curtsey and then walked out of the room, Ken closing the door behind him as I started to walk back down.
“THERE YOU ARE!!”
I looked to the side to see Cassie and Suzie in Suzie’s bedroom.
“Where did you get to,” Suzie asked, “and who tied and gagged you?”
“HKknnmmmmddd,” I mumbled – I didn’t want to lie, but I knew they would not understand me.
“Oh never mind Cass,” Suzie said with a laugh, “you know we’ll never understand her. Mind you...”
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
Suzie nodded as we made our way to the play room, and Cassie closed the door as Suzie found one of the boxes of supplies.
“One problem,” Cassie said as she looked at me, “one of us needs to be free to make sure the other two don’t trip over their skirts.”
“You’re been the sensible one, Cass?”
“Strange but true – Rock Paper Scissors?”
“What happened? Damn,” Suzie said as she made scissors, and Cassie made rock. “Well, we went down to the path to the lake with everyone else, Angela carrying a basket with her as did Alicia, and we had a little picnic – you and Gerri conspicuous by your absence, I might add?”
“We did see Gerri and Ken going into the house beforehand though,” Cassie said as Suzie was covering her hands, “so Angela went in to see if they were coming. We could see both of them through a window, and then Angela come into a room as Ken disappeared.”
“When Angela came back, she said Gerri was on her own – we had a bet he’d crawled under her skirts,” Suzie then said as she started to bind Cassie’s wrists together behind her back.
“Anyway, we could see him begin to tie her up, but then the Tornado Twins showed up – and by the time they went on, the curtains were drawn.”
I breathed a sigh of relief at that, and never felt as grateful to Patty and Rachel as I did then.
“So from there we went down to the lake – and we decided after a while to find you and take you down,” Cassie said as Suzie tied the ropes around her chest, before cinching them. “And now – here we are.”
“Indeed – open wide.”
I watched, giggling as Suzie gagged Cassie thoroughly, and then tied her bonnet back on, before we left the room, Suzie holding Cassie’s skirts as she walked down, and then returning for me before we made our way outside.
We made our way down the path to the lake, emerging to see Alicia and the others in the distance, and Patty with her friends down by the lake.
“There you are,” Louise said as she came over, “we were going to... Hey not fair!”
“What’s not fair,” Patty said as she came over with Rachel and Fiona, and then looked at me and Cassie. “Great – so why can’t we...”
“Ah good – you made it back,” Angela said as she walked over, “did you find Gerri?”
“I’m afraid not, no,” Suzie said.
“I’ll get Eddie to call Ken – I just got word that Grandfather and Viscount Markson are heading back in a short while.”
“Well, you’d better warn the other boys as well.”
I looked over to Alicia and the others as they came over, and suddenly realised they had company – specifically, Bobby, Colin and Martin. They were escorting Heidi, Cindy and Natalie – who, naturally, nodded to me and Cassie when they arrived.
They couldn’t say much – they were as tightly bound and gagged as we were, although it was obvious their legs were free.
“When did you arrive?”
“About an hour ago,” Bobby said to his sister, “we had a call from Granddad inviting the three of us over, and – well, how could we possibly refuse?”
“Well, fun time is over – they are on their way back, and we need to untie those who are tied, give them a chance to shake any stiffness out as we go back to the house.”
And so, we allowed Suzie to untie myself and Cassie while the boys took care of our American guests. “Now this has been a good day,” Heidi said as she worked her jaw, “and it’s good to see you boys again as well.”
“And to be able to finally here you talk,” Colin said with a smile. We then walked back to the house, joining a now free Gerri and Ken outside the dining room windows.
“I think we need to give Grandfather and your father a formal welcome home,” Angela said as she looked at Gerri.
“It’s an idea – how many of you know how to do a proper curtsey?”
I did, as did Suzie and Alicia, and the rest of the older girls, but the younger ones just shook their heads.
“All right, we have a few minutes,” Gerri said, “Angela?”
“You need to put one leg behind the other under your skirts,” Angela said, “and then bend your knees as you let your head down. Watch.”
Louise, Fiona, Patty and Rachel watched as Gerri and Angela made a very graceful curtsey, and then the rest of us copied them. They then had a go – well, several goes, if truth be told, but eventually they got the hang of it.
“Right – let’s go,” Angela said as we walked round to the front of the manor house, and lined up both sides of the front door, Bobby, Colin and Eddie going to one side as Martin and Ken went to the other.
“When I give the nod,” Angela said as we heard two cars approaching, and Mister Bridges came out...
“Welcome back, Your Lordship,” he said as he opened the door and helped Lord Holderness to get out, Lady Holderness getting out from the rear seat as from the other side, Viscount and Lady Markson emerged. The two men were wearing suits, white shirts and ties, while Lady Holderness was wearing a grey knee length skirt and jacket. Lady Markson had on a red jersey dress, as all four walked round and looked at the two lines.
“Good afternoon,” we said in unison as we curtseyed, and the young men bowed.
“Well,” Lord Holderness said as he leaned on his stick, and we all stood up, “this is not what I was expecting to see when I returned home. Gerald?”
“I hope you have all enjoyed your gifts,” Viscount Markson said with a smile, “Ken, I see you managed to find Geraldine?”
“I did Sir – thank you for suggesting I called here.”
“Well – shall we all go in?”
“Dinner will be served in an hour sir,” Mister Bridges said as he held the door open, all of us following as we held our skirts to walk up the steps.
“So this is what was in the car,” I heard Lady Holderness say to Lady Markson
“Oh yes – Mr Danvers drove us all up with them, but we kept them hidden away. What I do not understand is how so many of your family and their friends managed to get here so early without us hearing them?”
“Ah – we have our ways,” she said as I saw Angela smile and hold Eddie’s hand. “Under the circumstances, I trust you ladies will forgive us if we do not dress as finely as you have for dinner.”
“Mrs Bridges, you have outdone yourself today,” Lady Markson said as the main dinner plates were cleared away. We were all sitting round the large table again, Lord Holderness and Viscount Markson with their wives at one side as we all sat round.
“Thank you Your Ladyship – Dessert will be served in a short while,” she said as she wheeled her trolley out.
“Well – let me just say you all look wonderful in the costumes, girls, and also for clearing at least one room in my home for another purpose.”
“Geraldine knows I am joking,” he said with a smile, “but I do hope you have enjoyed wearing the dresses today.”
“We have, thank you,” Alicia said, “especially those of us who were unable to visit Markson Manor before.”
“That is true,” Heidi said, “so again, we thank you for this truly generous gift.”
Viscount Markson smiled as he said “so are all the grandchildren here, Desmond?”
“No – you will hopefully meet Lucy tomorrow when Alexander and Susan call, as well as Andrew. They are still too young to spend a day like this.”
“So,” Lady Markson said as she looked at Jenny, “you’re Miranda’s granddaughters? How is the rest of your family?”
“Very well, thank you Your Ladyship,” Jenny said as she sipped her drink, “and I am sure they will look forward to seeing you tomorrow as well.”
“When they visited my home,” Viscount Markson said, “I was telling the girls of some of the things we used to get up to in the old days.”
“Geoff, you know I don’t like talking about those days...”
“Desmond, your problem is you still like to live the quiet life. Do you remember Berlin?”
“I’ve been to Berlin,” Angela said, “on a school visit.”
“Ah yes – but this was in the seventies, when things were a trifle more frosty. Anyway, Desmond here has been asked, along with me, to make sure certain items were safely brought over from East Berlin. In those days, of course, that was a tad more difficult than it is now.”
“Really? What were you asked to bring over,” Suzie asked.
“Oh I’ll get to that. So we made our way through Checkpoint Charlie, and meet our rendezvous. The exchange works well, and we’re working or way back when we see two Stazi cars pull up outside the building we have just been in.”
“East German Secret Police,” Lady Holderness said, “not the sort of people you wished to meet on a cold dark night – or at any time.”
“At which point,” Viscount Markson said, “we just turned round, and walked towards the checkpoint again, trying desperately not to draw attention to ourselves. Which lasted just as long as I took the car to follow us, and we had to move into what we thought was a bar.”
“Well, to be fair,” Lord Holderness said as he put his glass down, “it was a type of bar, wasn’t it?”
“Well, yes – but not the sort any of the young ladies or gentlemen would want to visit. They did at least provide some cover for us as we made our way out, and then through the checkpoint. I do have to ask, however – was it worth it for a box of Cuban cigars?”
“No it wasn’t,” Lady Markson said, “but that chief of the Berlin office – whatever happened to him?”
“He retired,” Lady Holderness said, “on full pay to Thailand, I believe.”
“Hey, I still got him out of there...”
“Which is more than you managed on our wedding day,” Lady Holderness said with a smile, “it is the bride’s prerogative to be late, not the groom’s.”
“Now hold on a minute,” Viscount Markson said as I watched him lean forward. “One – I had never been to Hertford in my life. Two – this was before the days of Sat Nav. Three – is it my fault there were two churches called St Austell’s? And finally...”
“You got me there in the end – so stand down Gerald,” Lord Holderness said as we all started laughing. “You stood by us all through that day and the honeymoon afterwards.”
“You went on Grandma and Grandpa’s honeymoon?”
“Well,” Viscount Markson said with a smile, “it was more a case of been in the same area, just in case.”
“In case of what?”
“In case I needed a drink, young Suzanne,” her grandfather said as she looked at Suzie. “And I was there for Geoff and Audrey as well when they got married. Friends do that – they look out for each other.”
“Which is why I am still so sorry about what happened when you visited Markson Manor,” Viscount Markson said.
“Geoff,” Lady Holderness said, “it was not your fault. As we said at the time, it is not the first time the paths of this Jay Edwards and these girls have crossed, and they showed great courage throughout their stay.”
“On the other hand,” His Lordship continued, “I need to thank you again, Desmond, for supporting Alun. It has become a critical and commercial success, but it would not have been possible without your help and investment.”
“So did you two manage to sort things out,” Lady Markson said as she looked at Ken and Eddie.
“Oh yes – thank you,” Eddie said, “there were no real problems.”
“Eddie and I,” Ken said, “had to confirm some details for something we need to do together next year.”
“Are you at the same university as Eddie then,” Patty asked.
“Same University, Same Faculty, slightly different courses – but we have a mutual interest, so we’re working together on this,” Ken said with a smile.
“So long have you known Gerri?”
“All my life, if truth be told,” he said as I saw Gerri smile at him – and also Lady Markson.
“Ah – excellent,” Lady Holderness said as Mrs Bridges brought in a trolley, “Girls, you may have first choice.”
A short while later, as the plates were taken away, Lady Holderness stood up and said “I think the ladies shall retire to the drawing room. Will you bring the coffee through, Mrs Bridges?”
“That includes us,” Angela said as we were helped to stand up, and then made our way through. As we left, I heard Ken say “May I have a private word with you, Sir,” before he and Viscount Markson stepped outside.
“I must say, you do wear the costumes well,” Lady Markson said as we all sat down, but I noticed Patty starting to yawn.
“Forgive me, Your Ladyships,” she said quietly, “but I think I may go to bed now.”
“Of course – Angela, would you help them please?”
“Certainly,” Angela said as she led the four youngest out, Cassie and me looking at Suzie.
“With your permission, Grandma,” Suzie said, “we three will also retire for the night as well.”
I watched as Lady Holderness nodded, and we stood, making our way out and up the stairs.
“Go into the designated rooms girls,” Angela said as she reached the top of the stairs, “Gerri and I will be with you in a moment.”
I went into the room I usually sleep in and removed my bonnet, laying it to the side with my gloves and looking at myself. It had certainly been quite a day – and as Angela came in, to help me remove the dress, I said “thank you for everything today, Angela.”
“Well, you look as if you need a proper night’s sleep, she said as I untied the cage and let it fall to the floor, before she unlaced and removed the corset.
“Oh that feels so much better,” I said with the biggest sigh I could, as I was able to breathe again, without any form of restriction.
“I’m going to leave you to take the rest of the things off,” Angela said as she hung the dress up, “leave the linen in a small pile, and put on the nightdress before you go to do your teeth, all right?”
I nodded as she left the room, and I removed the rest of the clothes, before putting on some underwear and the long white nightdress. A quick trip to the bathroom, and I lay down under the covers, thinking about everything that had happened that day.
I had to admit, difficult as it was to get air into my lungs with it on, I did look much slimmer with the corset on, and I started wondering what Eric would have said if he could have seen me like that.
“Maybe when Halloween comes round, I can wear it then,” I said to myself as I started to yawn, and then wondered what it would be like to wear it at a party, with my other clothes over the top of it...
I opened my eyes and looked at the clock, but I could see it hadn’t passed midnight yet. On the other hand, I had a pressing need, so I got out of bed and put my slippers on. Before I could put the light on, however, I could hear footsteps, so I waited as I heard Lord Holderness say “I’m really glad you were able to make it here G, it’s been far too long since out families got together.”
“Well, Dessie, it is a tad difficult – but I’m glad we could as well, given everything that’s happened over the summer. I have to say, your grandchildren have a lot of you and Lucy in them.”
“Tell me about it – but I’m glad there was no real harm, and I have to say, Alun did a fantastic job.”
“I know – which is why I wanted to give you this.”
I heard them stop outside my door, and then Lord Holderness say “G, this is far too much...”
“Now Dessie, I won’t hear another word about it – you invested the money, and that managed to get others involved in backing the film. It’s only right you get your share back.”
“But this is ten times what I gave you...”
“And the film has been a phenomenal success. It’s only right you get your investment back with a proportion of the profits.”
“It was a gift G...”
“No it wasn’t Dessie – you know I don’t take charity, and neither does my family. It was an investment, fair and square, and this is your return.”
“Still – look, if you must give me something back, then I’ll take half this, and you can give half to a charity of my choice.”
“The British Heart Foundation – in my name.”
“That’s what I always liked about you Dessie – looking out for everyone else.”
“I have more than enough money for my comfort, and the family when I’m gone G – let it benefit someone else.”
“All right – come on, I’ll sort it out in the room.”
As they went past, I waited until they were out of my hearing, and then nipped out, heading to the toilet and then back to bed...
“Good morning, Lisa.”
I opened my eyes to see Bobby standing there, smiling as he said “your turn for the shower, on you go.”
When I returned a few minutes later, I saw a clean chemise on the bed, so I finished drying myself off and slipped it on, looking at my dress in the wardrobe while I waited for the rest of my clothes.
“Well, I see you’re ready Lisa.”
I smiled as I saw Angela and Gerri coming in, already dressed.
“Right,” Angela said as she handed me a pair of drawers, “we’re going to teach you how to put these on for yourself – step by step. We’ll still need to help with the corset, but you can look that one up for yourself on YouTube at a later date.”
“So, we start with the drawers,” Gerri said as she handed me the crotchless pantaloons. I looked at them for a moment, and then pulled them up my legs, making sure the split was exactly where it should be before I tucked my chemise in and tied it round my waist.
“Excellent,” Angela said, “and don’t worry – they’re clean. Your dress is protected from your skin, but nothing else is, so each of you has two complete sets of undergarments as part of the outfit.”
“But only one corset,” Gerri said, “one is enough. Now, put on the stockings and shoes as you did yesterday.”
I sat on the bed and pulled the stockings on, and then the ankle boots, lacing them up before I stood up, and saw Angela holding the corset.
“We don’t’ have time today to show you how to put this on yourself,” she said as she wrapped it round my stomach and fastened it at the front, “but as I said, look on YouTube and you will find out how to do it. Now, ready?”
“Today I am,” I said as I braced myself, and then felt it tighten round me as Gerri laced it tightly at the back. At least I was able to control my breathing, as Gerri said “excellent – now there is an additional piece of clothing we would like you to wear today.”
“Oh – what is it,” I said as I saw Angela pick up a smaller petticoat.
“This,” she said, “is called a modesty petticoat. It’s slimmer than the other ones, and not an essential item, but many Victorian women wore it, particularly in the winter.”
“The idea,” Gerri said, “is if there is a strong gust of wind or you fall over, it protects your modesty from any – unfortunate views.”
“I think I get it,” I said quietly, “so I put this on now?”
“That’s right – over your head, and then fastened round the waist.”
I nodded as I pulled it over my head, looking at the way it covered my legs, and then tied it round my waist over the corset as well.
“And now – the cage,” Gerri said as she laid the circle out on the floor. “Stand in the middle please, Lisa.”
As I did so, Angela said “Remember, the petticoat is to preserve your modesty, so I want you tuck it in between your legs, and then squat down before you take the inner circle in both hands.”
Nodding, I put the petticoat in between my knees, and then slowly squatted down, keeping my balance as I looked to the side and grabbed the inner band.
“Now push yourself up,” Gerri said, “and the cage should form naturally around your legs.”
As I did just that, the steel bands fell with the leather straps, and I saw the bell shape from yesterday form.
“Tie it to your waist now,” Angela said as I looked at the leather straps in front of me, “and we can move on to the petticoats.” As I secured them, I was then handed the petticoats to put on, putting them over my head and around the crinoline before I looked at myself in the mirror.”
“You’ve done a fantastic job there Lisa,” Angela said as they both clapped, “I think you’ll manage most of that without any problems from now on.”
“Thanks,” I said with a smile, “and now the dress?”
“And now the dress – want to try and put it on yourself?”
“Not today – but can you show me what to do?”
“Of course,” Gerri said as they helped me into the dress, and she showed me how to fasten the buttons. I then put on the gloves and bonnet, curtseying and thanking them for their help, before I made me way down to the dining room.
“Good morning,” Heidi said as I came in, “Did you get the lesson this morning as well?”
“I did,” I said as I saw her, Cindy and Natalie helping themselves. All of us had on the same dresses as the day before, as we came in one by one. Finally, Lord and Lady Holderness came in with Angela, Gerri and her parents.
“Well, don’t stand on ceremony,” Lady Holderness said, “let’s all eat.”
“So how will you spend the rest of the week,” Suzie said to her American friends as we sat down.
“I don’t think we have anything planned as such – unless Alicia knows something I don’t?”
“I think Dad’s booked tickets for a show on Wednesday, but beyond that, no,” Angela replied as Alicia looked at her. “We’ll just see where each day takes us.”
“Best plan I can think of,” Natalie said as she sat down, and I caught a glimpse of her bare foot.
“Actually, before we start eating,” Viscount Markson said, “I have a small announcement I would like to make.”
“Ken last night asked me for permission to marry Geraldine – and I gave my blessing,” he said with the biggest of smiles. “Congratulations, both of you.”
Well, the applause and cheers were deafening as Eddie shook Ken’s hand, and Angela hugged and kissed her friend.
“Congratulations, both of you,” Lord Holderness said, “we must celebrate before you all leave, but for now, let’s eat.”
Breakfast was great fun, as we talked about the dresses, and other things, but the big surprise came as the plates were been cleared away, and we saw Mr Bridges coming into the dining room.
“Forgive me, Your Lordship, but Viscount Markson has a visitor.”
“Oh – show them in,” Lord Holderness said as he stepped out, and then said “this way please.”
“Hi Dad, we got here a little early, and...”
He looked like a younger version of Viscount Markson, and was wearing a brown leather jacket over a checked shirt, and corduroy pants. With him was a young dark haired woman, wearing a grey jersey dress and grey suede boots, as well as a three year old girl in her arms, wearing a blue smock and white leggings. Holding the man’s hand was a five year old boy, wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
“Daddy,” the boy said, “why are Aunt Geraldine and all these girls dressed like the ladies in your film?”
“Alun! We weren’t expecting you until later!”
“Well, we made an early start,” he said as Lady Markson came over and kissed the women.
“Desmond, Lucinda, you know Alun, my son, and Elaine?”
“We do,” Lady Holderness said as she came over. “And this is Alan and Claire?”
“It is,” Elaine said “but the girls?”
“Well, you recognise Angela and Alicia? These are the rest of their family and friends – Gerri kindly donated some of her costumes as gifts to them.”
“Well, you all look wonderful,” Alun said as he looked round.
“We loved your film,” Heidi said, “and I’m glad it was a success. We all agree, don’t we?”
We all nodded as Lady Markson said “We have some more news as well – Ken and Geraldine have become engaged.”
“Oh that is wonderful news,” Elaine said as she handed Claire to her grandmother, and walked over to embrace her sister in law. “congratulations – and it’s about time really.”
“Well, I need to finish my degree first,” Ken said as he smiled, “but after that...”
“You know what we need,” Lord Holderness said, “a photograph of all of the girls. Mister Bridges, would you fetch the camera please?”
And that is why, an hour later, we were all standing outside the Manor House as Mister Bridges took a group photo – just as Alicia’s parents arrived.
I looked up from my seat in the library as Mum and Dad came in, Charlie behind them. He stopped and looked round the room, softly whistling as he said “we didn’t go through a time warp or something on the way here did we Dad?”
“I don’t think so,” Dad said as I stood up and said “Good morning, Mother, Father. Thank you for allowing me to spend this time with my friends – we have all enjoyed ourselves greatly.”
“I’m sorry, I think this time has got them all thinking,” Gerri said as she came over. “I’m Geraldine Markson – you must be Lisa’s parents.”
“Mark and Yvonne Williamson,” Dad said as he shook her hand. “Markson – are you related to Alun Markson?”
“You mean my brother the film director? He’s over there,” Gerri said as he pointed to Alun, who was talking to Uncle Alexander. “I was the costume adviser on the film – I trust you approve of what young Lisa is wearing?”
“Very much so,” Mum said as she looked at the dress. “Well, I guess you need to go and change to come home now.”
“Actually,” Gerri said with a smile, “the outfit is for Lisa. We’ve gifted each of the girls an outfit, with all the necessary accompaniments.”
“That... Is extremely generous,” Dad said as Charlie walked over and put his hands over Rachel’s eyes, making her squeal and jump, and then him laugh at the rustling of her petticoats and crinoline.
“Charlie,” Mum said as she looked over, “it is not polite to do that to a young lady of the time.”
“Yes Mum,” Charlie said as they started talking.
“Please, come and meet my parents,” Gerri said as they walked over, and I went to see Cassie.
“Jenny’s arranging to meet up with Heidi and chums later in the week,” she said, “so, you heading home?”
“Yeah – you?”
“In a minute – once Dad’s talked to Suzie’s dad about something. I’ll call you later, all right?”
“Come on Lisa,” Mum said, “we need to head back.”
“Can I wear this home?”
“Might be easier,” Dad said as he came over, “I have a rather large bag to collect anyway, by all accounts.”
I walked out to the car with her and Charlie, and then had a thought – how was I going to sit in the back seat?”
“Charlie, can you get in first,” Mum said, so I watched as Charlie walked round and sat himself down, putting on his seat belt. Mum then held the door open for me and said “now how would a lady get in?”
I thought for a minute, then sat in the seat, gathered my skirts around my legs and lifted them up. Waiting until Mum closed the door before I let go and put my seat belt on. Charlie found himself covered in silk and petticoats, as I saw Dad carry a large bag out and place that in the boot.
“Well now,” he said as he drove off, “don’t you still have to pick up some milk, young lady?”
“In this dress dad?”
We all started laughing as we headed down the driveway...
Once we got home, we had lunch, and I decided I wasn’t going to change just yet – I mean, when was the next time I was going to get a chance to dress like this?
So we were sitting in the front room, and starting to talk about the fact I would need to go shopping with Mum for new school clothes tomorrow, when the telephone rang. Charlie went out, and then said in a loud voice “Miss Cassandra Craig wishes to communicate with Miss Lisa Williamson.”
Standing up, I went into the hallway, and said “Miss Cassandra, how nice to hear from you again,” sticking my tongue out at Charlie as I did so.
“Hey – you busy this afternoon?”
“No – why?”
“I’ve been thinking about this corset...”
“Are you still in costume as well?”
“Yeah – can I come over? I want to show you something.”
“Of course,” I said, putting the handset down and then opening the door. Mum watched from the kitchen as Cassie walked over the road in her dress, and then came in.
“We’ll be in my room mum,” I said as we went up, closing the door behind us before I said “What about these?”
“I found a video on YouTube about how to put it on by yourself – the missing link in the costumes. Want to watch it with me?”
“I’d love to,” I said as I started my laptop up, and then we helped each other to remove the dress and petticoats, as well as the cage, leaving us with the modesty petticoat and the corsets, with everything underneath.
Once we had done that, I started YouTube. Cassie typed in a link, and then made the film fill the screen as we watched the instructor show us how you could put a corset on yourself.
“Well, it looks easy enough,” I said after we had watched it a couple of times, “want to give it a try?”
“Let’s get these off first,” Cassie said as we unlaced each other, and then took a deep breath before a toilet break.
“Right,” I said as we came back, “have you seen it enough times?”
“Well, I have watched a couple of times already,” Cassie admitted, “but this is the first time I’ll actually have tried to do it. So, after three...”
Well, it was more like a dozen attempts throughout the afternoon, and I don’t think we ever quite mastered it, but by the time it was six we had at least got to the stage where it was staying in place, rather than slipping off.
“Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day,” I said with a smile as Dad called up “Cassie? Your mum and dad want you to come home.”
“Give me a hand?”
I nodded as we did each other’s corset up, and then put on the rest of the clothes, before I followed Cassie down the stairs.
“See you tomorrow,” Cassie said as she went out of the door, Dad closing it before he looked at me.
“Nothing – come on, dinner’s ready...”
“If I told you I’ve already pre-ordered a certain film,” Mum said as we sat watching the television after dinner, “would you be surprised?”
“Not really – I suspect a lot of mums are going to be ordering that film,” I said with a smile before I started yawning.
“All right,” Mum said as she stood up, “upstairs with me young lady.”
We walked up the stairs and into my room, while Mum carefully unfastened the dress and let me take it off, before she placed it on the bed.
“Seeing you in these clothes takes me back,” she said as she removed my petticoats.
“I worked in a theatre when I was a young woman,” Mum said as I unfastened the cage and let it fall to the floor, “and used to wear costumes like these as well. I got to be quite good at putting them on.”
“Oh yes – and you know what the best part of wearing the costume was?”
“No – what?”
“The feeling of relief when this came off,” she said as she unlaced the corset, and looked at it. “Made to measure – one thing. The more you wear this, the easier it gets.”
“So I can wear this again?”
“If the situation allows it, yes. Now, decide what you’re wearing in bed tonight, and go shower.”
I grabbed a pair of pink pyjamas and went to the bathroom, not removing anything else until I had locked and closed the door, and then taking care of myself. As I came back in, I put the ankle boots on the floor of my wardrobe, and put the other garments in a pile with the petticoats.
“Any requests tonight?”
“Something simple please Mum.”
I lay on the bed and put my hands together as if I was praying, watching as Mum took some rope and tied my wrists tightly together, and then did the same to my ankles, and my legs below my knees, before I laid my wrists down and she tied a last length of rope from my wrists to my knees. She then took a roll of white tape, tore off a long strip and smoothed it down over my mouth, before she gave me a kiss on my forehead.
I smiled under the tape as she hung my dress up, put the cage carefully away, and then gathered up the linen. “Sleep well,” she said as she turned the light off, and closed my door.
As I lay
there, I knew I was going to master putting on the corset, and that the next
time I wore that outfit, it would be as wonderful as the last two days – and I
would do it all myself...