anyone had told me that I would learn so many new things at the start of the
summer holidays, I would never have believed them. Yet here I am, sitting next
to Cassie on the couch as we watch Mum and Dad trying to find their things, and
so much has changed in the last few weeks.
Case in point - I love Cassie to pieces, and I would never let anyone hurt her, but she has an amazing capacity to open her mouth and land whoever is with her right in it. Take the day Granny found our stash, and we found out that she had played the same sort of games as us when she was a little girl. That seems so far back it’s unbelievable, and yet - well, we discovered that later.
Then we visited her friend, and there was one surprise I could have done without - Alicia Bowden, easily the most obnoxious girl in my year. When we were visited by those two men after school, and everyone wanted to talk to me, she and her ‘friends’ were the only ones who did not. It didn’t bother me at the time - but then, I had no idea when Granny drove us up that long driveway that we would ended up bound and gagged by a nice robber - again.
Mister Small was his name, but he wasn’t the first person we met. That was Granny’s friend, and then we met Alicia and her young cousin Suzie. There was also an American girl called Heidi, who was a pen friend of Alicia’s. I have to admit at first I thought she wrote poison pen letters, like the ones Alicia had passed round about me, but she was actually a great laugh - especially when we found out she played the same sort of games as us.
No, tell a lie - that was Suzie, who asked how it felt when we had the other men staying for the night. Cassie told her, then when Suzie asked if she could be tied up she jumped up and did it. Then Heidi asked about it, and I showed her how tight it had been - which was when Mister Small walked in.
Now, I knew it was a robbery, but as always Cassie, bless her heart, thought it was another game so she virtually told him how to tie us up. Half an hour later, all five of us were lying on the floor, unable to move unless we wriggled like worms, and Cassie was arguing with Mister Small to gag her by wrapping that funny brown plaster he had wound round her head.
Instead he put strips of the plaster over our stuffed mouths and a scarf tight over that - and it felt like we could not move it, especially when he tied the scarf to the ropes around us.
It turned out Alicia and Suzie’s “Grandma” was a genuine Lady of the Realm, as Dad calls it, and Mister Small and his partner had come to steal her expensive things. We weren’t tied up for that long, but I have to admit the best bit was that I was forced to tie up Alicia.
I had so much to thank her for, and I actually took great pleasure in tying her as tightly as I could. Later on, I felt a bit bad as she started crying - she genuinely was scared of what was happening, even though we all tried our best to cheer her up - especially Heidi, who I learned later had been through a lot more experiences than any of us.
The funny thing? I genuinely do not think he wanted to tie us up at first. I heard Granny telling Dad what had really happened to her and her friend - how they had been cocooned tightly in rope, with their hands bound and pinned down in front of them, and their mouths stuffed before two large scarves were rolled into bands, knotted and pulled in. It was a little tighter than us, but the other man - Mister Tall she said he was called - was very polite all the time. So that was another thing to thank Cassie for. Not that I’m complaining - it was great fun.
I’ve got to know Suzie really well, and Alicia a bit better, since then as they have visited a couple of times a week. Suzie and Cassie have hit it off famously and I suspect she had been teaching Suzie a few of our tricks. I nudge her in the ribs as I look at her, and she just nods and says nothing.
Mind you, once Gran found out we liked to tie each other up, it was only really a matter of time before Mum and Dad found out as well. Dad was first - he walked in unexpectedly when I was out shopping with Mum, Alicia and Heidi and found her and Suzie tied up and happy as lambs. When I got home, a little while before Mum, I found Granny and Dad looking at both Suzie and Cassie as they sat back to back on the floor, gagged with some white tape and looking at me.
Well, what else could I do? Ten minutes later I was lying on the bed, securely tied in ropes and Dad sticking a length of the white tape over my mouth, feeling it as it seemed to mould to my skin. Then Granny started to tickle the youngsters on the floor, Dad started tickling my feet, and we all laughed - until Mum walked in and saw us.
That night, we all learned a lot about us as a family. We found out Dad used to tie up not only Granny, but both our aunts when he was a boy, and as he showed us he still knew how to tie us securely. We also learned how Mum felt the two times we were held - well, hostage is as good a word as any. It seemed to bring us a lot closer together as a family, which is nice.
In fact, it led to the most amazing Saturday, when we were bridesmaids at Aunt Connie’s wedding. In fact, we’ve got on the dresses we wore that day right now - Granny’s friend has invited us all to a very posh dinner tonight, which is why we’re sitting here waiting while Mum and Dad run around, and Granny is still upstairs.
Where was I? Oh yeah - when we all sat down and talked that night, we all agreed that after the wedding we would play three games when we got home - one we picked, one Mum and one Granny. For our game, we asked if we could be kidnapped princesses - which Mum was a bit reluctant about at first, but eventually agreed to.
So that Saturday went something like this - Aunt Connie’s house early to be dressed, our hair done and make up. Ten thirty wedding and we were the real centre of attention there. Twelve o’clock slap up meal and some dancing, then two thirty we found ourselves in our car, sitting with our hands tied and fabric plaster over our mouths as Granny was helped in by Dad.
And so began the greatest half day of my life, as we spent nearly three hours been held hostage as princesses, then another three re-playing some of the things that happened the first time we were robbed. And a late supper. We loved every second of it, especially as Mum and Granny joined as well and were as securely tied and gagged as us - more so actually, when you think about it.
The last thing that day was when Cassie and I were tied back to back, Mum on the couch and Granny in a chair, all of us dressed in our nightclothes. I don’t remember much of that, because when Dad gagged us by wrapping the white tape round our heads I suddenly got very very sleepy. The next thing I remember was waking up in my bed, still bound and gagged, and having to make my own way downstairs.
So as I say, a lot of new things and discoveries over the last few weeks, and today we are going back to Holderness Manor to have dinner with Suzie, Alicia and her grandparents. Cassie and I are going to stay there after the dinner for a sleepover, which I’m looking forward to and dreading at the same time. I’m looking forward to spending time with Suzie and Heidi, and even Alicia, but at the same time I know Heidi has been teaching both of them some new things with the ropes, and I’ve heard Suzie say she has been the focus of Alicia’s attention.
Now, I know Alicia has been a little more friendly the last few weeks, but I still don’t trust her completely, and I can’t help feeling she may try something. But even she would not try something at her grandparent’s house, would she? We’ve already asked Mum and Dad if we can play some tie-up games while we are there, and we’ve packed some of our supplies in our bags, but I still feel as if I need to be careful.
We got ready first, putting on our long white dresses, tights and shoes as well as the long gloves and letting Mum tie the sash round our waists, then we came in here to sit and wait as Mum, Dad and Granny got ready. As I look up Granny walks past and smiles as she fixes a pearl earring into place. She heads one way, as Dad goes the other, taking our bags to the car. He looks very handsome tonight, in his black jacket and bow tie, while Mum has on the blue sleeveless dress and gloves that she had worn to the wedding. As she passes the door, she walks in and kisses us both on the forehead.
“Looking forward to tonight,” she says as she musses up my hair slightly, and I nod eagerly as Dad comes into the room. “Let me escort you to the carriage, dear lady,” he said as he took Mum by the hand, winking at us as they left the room. Cassie giggled at this, but when Dad came back she beamed even more - or at least her eyes did.
“Ready,” he said as we shuffled forward on the couch and stood up, stopping for a moment as we regained our balance. When we had finished, and Mum had tied our sashes, Dad had taken our arms behind our back and crossed our wrists, before he tied them together with thin cord and then wrapped it round our waists. He had then put a strip of the white tape over our lips, and tied our ankles snugly together, side by side. We could still kinda understand each other, but we pretended we were well and truly silenced.
We looked at each other and started hopping to the door, our skirts rustling as the various layers move with each jump. It only took us a few minutes to hop through the kitchen and out to the car, where Mum helped us to get in and strapped us into the seat. Dad locked up and we drove off, Cassie and I giggling through the tape over our mouths as we listened to them talking.
The deal was we would stay like this until we reached Holderness Manor, so we wanted the trip to last as long as possible. No such luck - we arrived within half an hour, and Granny reached over and removed our gags while Mum untied our ankles, and then our wrists as we turned round.
As we climbed out of the car, we saw Mrs Bridges, the housekeeper standing in the doorway. “Welcome,” she said as we all walked up, “Sir Desmond and the others are in the drawing room. If you will follow me?”
She was dressed in a black dress with white collar and cuffs - very different from the gypsy look she normally had round the house. We followed her into the house, and opened a door, motioning for us to go in.
“CASSIE!!” Suzie ran over and hugged my sister as we came in. She was wearing a dress made from a light blue colour of silk, which flared out from her waist to just below her knees. Her sleeves were short and puffed, and she had a pair of white gloves over her hands with a matching sash round her waist.
Alicia nodded at me as I came in. She was standing in a corner, wearing a red velvet dress that covered her arms and legs, but I could see a pair of red satin slippers just under the hem. Her grandparents came forward, the tall, thin grey haired man extending a hand to Dad as he said “Sir Desmond Holderness. It’s a real pleasure to meet you at last, Mister Craig.”
“Thank you, Sir Desmond. This is my wife Jennifer and of course you know my mother Miranda.”
“A pleasure Jennifer,” he said as he took Mum’s hand and kissed it. “My wife, Lucinda - she knew your mother in law when she was a little girl.”
As they talked, I walked over and joined the others as they sat in the corner. “How are you tonight, Alicia,” I asked politely.
“I am fine, thank you Jennifer,” she said quietly. “I’m looking forward to you staying tonight.”
“Sorry I’m late,” an American voice said, and we turned to see Heidi walk in the door, her blonde hair held back by a small tiara. She was wearing a peach coloured dress, made of satin with a square neckline. It also had long sleeves that hooked over her middle finger and a full skirt that covered her legs.
“Wow,” I said, “Where did you get that dress?”
“Prom.” She replied as she came over. We hugged each other as Alicia watched, before Mr Bridges came in and said “Dinner is ready, Sir Desmond.”
“Excellent,” Sir Desmond said as he put his glass down. “Mrs Bridges is a truly excellent cook - I think you’re really going to like this.”
left the large room, Sir Desmond taking Mum’s arm as Dad walked beside her,
then Granny and her friend, and then us, Cassie and Suzie talking to each other
as Heidi, Alicia and I walked side by side at the rear. As we walked along the
corridor, I saw a line of portraits along the wall; all men and all looking a
little like Sir Desmond.
“These are the Baronets of Holderness,” Alicia said as she walked along, “The first was created by George the III in recognition of his services during the Napoleonic wars, and Grandpa is the Eighth Baronet.” I noticed she was speaking in a slightly exaggerated way, almost as if she wanted to show me just how posh she was, but I let it pass.
“I have been telling Heidi while she has been staying with me all about the work my family has done, and the standing we have in the local community,” she continued, but when I looked at Heidi she rolled her eyes slightly and put her hand over her mouth. I had to stop myself from giggling as we walked into a huge, high room which had a long dark wood table in the middle, laid out with silver cutlery and what looked like very expensive china and glasses.
“Wow,” Cassie said as she looked round, “I wish we had a table like this at home.”
“Well, if I ever get made a Peer of the Realm I’ll make sure it is the first thing we get, Cassie,” Dad said, which made both of us laugh, but made Alicia seem to frown slightly. We all sat down, Mister Bridges waiting until we sat before he pushed our chairs in, as Sir Desmond waited on his wife and Dad on Mum and Granny. I looked at the range of cutlery laid out in front of me, and whispered to Heidi “Which one do we use when?”
“Just work in from the outside,” she whispered back as Alicia glanced out of the corner of her eye, “That seemed to work for me last time I ate here.”
Mrs Bridges came in with a trolley, and placed some small plates of slices of melon in front of us, before handing out plates with red fish and salad leaves on them to Dad and the others. I watched as Suzie picked up the knife and fork on the outside, and showed Cassie how to cut and eat the melon, so I just copied her.
“So tell me, Jennifer,” Heidi said as she put a piece of melon in her mouth and chewed slowly, “How did the wedding you and Cassandra attended go - did you have a good time?”
“We had a great time,” Cassie replied before I could say a single word, "We wore these dresses, and had to walk down the aisle., and then we played a game in them on the way home.”
I saw Suzie smile as Alicia said, “Oh, what sort of game?”
“Kidnapped princesses - we had our hands tied and we were gagged, then properly tied up at home.”
Alicia nearly choked on her starter as she cast a nervous glance towards the adults at the top of the table. “Please,” she hissed out of the corner of her mouth, “This is not the place to talk about those things. Grandma and Grandpa are still very sensitive about what happened.”
“But it was great fun - we were able to hop round in our dresses, and look outside, and all sorts of things.”
“Maybe you can show me later, Cassie,” Heidi said with a smile as Mrs Bridges took our plates away and gave us all a bowl of hot tomato soup. As we silently ate, I listened to a bit of the conversation at the other end of the table.
“So you work at one of the larger banks, John,” Sir Desmond said to my father.
“I do, Sir Desmond - in the international bonds division.”
“Please, call me Desmond. I did read in the papers about the incident with your family - I trust they are all fully recovered now?”
“Yes, thank you - although I have to confess I did not hear as much about what happened here.”
“Yes, well - we have some influence with the local media. Lucinda and I wanted to keep it all quiet, but what can you do these days? As it was, we kept the details that got out to the bare minimum.”
Granny looked over at Lady Holderness and said “have you noticed anything different about the girls since that day?”
“I cannot say I have - except they seem remarkably happy to come and visit your grandchildren, isn’t that right girls?” She looked down the table at Suzie and Alicia, who nodded and said “Yes, Grandma” very quietly.
“And what of you, Heidi - how do you feel?”
Heidi wiped the corner of her mouth and said “I have been fine, thank you Mrs Craig - it is not exactly the first time I have been in such a situation, and by no means the scariest.”
“Oh,” Mum said, “and what was the scariest?”
“The weekend myself, my mother and aunt, and my friend and her mother were held hostage by this crazy man, and made to wear different clothes and be tied up in different ways. Turned out he had a long standing grudge against my family.”
“My dear,” Granny said, “that sounds awful. How have you coped?”
“Therapy, and good friends,” Heidi said as she smiled at all of us. My admiration for her grew even more, as the soup plates were cleared and the main course was brought in.
“So, Desmond,” Dad said as he cut into the lamb, “If you are the Eighth Baronet, who becomes the Ninth?”
“That would be my son, Alexander - Suzanne’s father,” Sir Desmond said as he looked down the table. "I have an older daughter, who is Alicia’s mother, but sadly the laws of the entailment of titles are rather archaic these days."
“Not that Ann minds,” Lady Holderness continued, “she is determined that Alicia has as normal a life as possible, as is Alexander.” Alicia smiled as she heard this, and we continued eating in silence.
After a while, and a very lovely bowl of ice cream, Lady Holderness said “I think it is time we let the children go and the adults talked. Alicia, you may all go upstairs. Mister Bridges has already collected the bags for Jennifer and Cassandra, but they need not retire for a while - it is only eight o’clock after all.
“Yes, Grandma,” Alicia said as she stood up and made a small curtsey - something we all did as we filed out of the room and made our way up to what we now knew was the old playroom.
“That was delicious,” Cassie said as we went into the room, “Thanks for inviting us, Suzie.”
“It was Grandpa and Grandma, not me,” Suzie said as Alicia closed the door. “So did you bring the supplies?”
“They’re in our bags,” Cassie said as Alicia and I sat at a table.
“Oh no,” Alicia said as she looked at her younger cousin, “You are not going to play those games just at the moment.”
“Why not, Ali,” Suzie said as she frowned at her older cousin, “Just because you don’t want to does not mean we can’t. Besides, I thought you would want to show off your skills to Jenny here.”
Alicia looked over at me, and I was surprised to see a small smile cross her face. “All right then,” she finally said, “Let’s see just how good I have become. Suzie, our guests are using the Lavender room - why don’t you go and get their bag.”
“It’s the Carrington Cougars bag,” Cassie said as Suzie looked at her, then jumped up and ran out of the room.
“I hear Heidi has been teaching you how to tie,” I said as Suzie closed the door behind her.
“Yes - I decided after those horrid men came here that I needed to confront my fears, and Heidi has been kind enough to show me a few of her techniques. Suzanne has proved a most willing model to practice on as well.”
“Have you been tied up since then?”
“No - I prefer to do the tying,” Alicia said as Suzie came in and let the bag fall to the floor. “Why don’t you secure your sister,” Alicia said, “and then I can secure Suzanne.”
Cassie stood in front of me and crossed her wrists behind her back as I wrapped a length of rope around them, tying them together as Alicia took care of Suzie. “Dad used our sashes to keep our hand against our back,” Cassie said, and Suzie nodded as we did the same this time, then tied their arms to their sides as Dad had to us, starting round the elbow and eventually fixing them in place.
“That’s a good technique,” Heidi said as she watched me binding Cassie, “not uncomfortable and it keeps you nice and snug.”
“Thanks, but it was Dad who showed us this,” I said as both Cassie and Suzie sat down, their skirts rising as Alicia and I bound their ankles together, side by side, and then their legs just below the knees.
“Now the gags,” Cassie said, laughing as I handed Alicia a handkerchief and we pushed in into their mouths, before tying a knotted bandana between their lips to hold it in place, and then a long woollen scarf over the top of that.
“Ccmmcmnndnnsnsan,” Cassie said as she got to her feet and started to hop to the far side of the room. Suzie looked determined as she got to her feet and started hopping as well, checking every time she landed to make sure she was still standing up right.
“So, what else have you got planned for tonight, Alicia,” I said as the two younger ones hopped round to their hearts content.
“Oh, I thought we could play a few games, find out how things are. Mister and Mrs Bridges will be up eventually to tell us when it is time to go to bed. Why, what did you have in mind?”
“That sounds good,” I said with a smile, watching as Suzie overbalance slightly and fell onto her side, laughing as Cassie sat herself down next to her. “She really seems to enjoy been bound, doesn’t she?”
“She does,” Heidi said before Alicia could say anything, “but I have an idea for a challenge, if either of you are interested?”
“Oh - and what is that?”
“Escape - I want to see just how good Alicia is getting, and you make the perfect comparison. If you tie me up, and Alicia watches, then she can do the same to you and we can see who escapes first.”
I looked at Alicia, whose face was a picture of perfect innocence, before I said “Well? Are you up to the challenge?”
Alicia simply smiled and said “Bring it on...”
better put your hands behind your back, palm to palm, and lock your fingers
together,” I said as I selected a suitable length of rope from the bag. As
Heidi put her hands together, I wrapped the rope around them and pulled them
together, Alicia watching the whole time as the rope went around and between
her arms until they were securely locked together. I then passed a length of
rope around her waist, pulling the peach silk further in as I did so, and
secured her wrists in place, making sure the rope went between her arms and
waist to tighten the coils.
“I like how this feels,” Heidi said as she looked over her shoulder, “it feels very comfortable. Will you tie my arms into my side next?”
“Do you want them tied together or to your side,” I asked as I sorted out the next length of rope, to which she replied “Both.” So I passed the rope around her arms, pulling them together as the white rope pulled the silk in, cinched the coils and then passed it round her tummy, pulling them into her back as well. I then tied another length to the centre of the band, passed it under her arms and the rope, up and around the back of her neck, and back down again, so that when I turned her round it looked as if she had two lengths of rope running either side of her.
“How does it feel,” Alicia said as Cassie and Suzie sat on the window seat and looked out onto the gardens. “Nice and comfortable,” Heidi said as she twisted round, “but I wonder if you could do a length around my shoulders as well, then link it to the centre band.”
“Sure,” I said as I shook another length out and then did as she asked, making sure her arms were held tightly in place. When I had finsi8hed she turned round and showed Alicia what I had done. “Think you can do this,” she said as she stopped and looked at her pen friend. Alicia put her hands through her hair and said “I think so.”
“One last thing,” I said as I took a length of string out. Walking behind Heidi, I tied her thumbs and middle fingers together, so that she could not use her hands or fingers. I then helped her to sit down on a cushion on the floor, her skirt rising up to reveal a pair of golden slippers over the white tights that covered her legs.
“I would like to have a go at hopping round,” she said as I knelt down in front of her. Nodding, I placed her feet together and wrapped the rope around her legs, pulling them tightly together and making sure I cinched the coils as well. I then lifted her skirt up slightly and tied her legs together below her knees, making sure the rope went between her legs as well.
“What about your upper legs,” I said as I looked up at her. “Just wrap the rope around the skirt,” Heidi said as she smiled and looked at me, “I need to pack it away soon and it will get cleaned before that anyway.”
“All right then,” I said as I folded the skirt back and wrapped some rope around her skirt, pulling it in as it raised still higher and gathered under the white strands. As I tied it off, Heidi stood herself up and hopped round a little, to cries of “ISsssmsmsngdn” from both Cassie and Suzie.
She then allowed herself to sit back on the cushion, and looked at me before saying “Do it - the full gag.”
“You sure - I mean, it can be a bit...”
“What’s wrong, Jennifer - scared you won’t be able to take it?”
Now that was a comment I was not expecting from Alicia, but it was a challenge, so I took one of my dad’s handkerchiefs, rolled it into a wad and held it in front of Heidi’s mouth. She opened wide and allowed me to push it in, and then a knotted length of towelling to hold it in place.
“Whtsrtftp,” Heidi said as I reached into the bag. It had taken some persuading to let Dad allow me to bring it, but eventually he had relented and given me two rolls of the special white tape. As I ripped it free from the roll, I saw Alicia squirm slightly, but when she saw it sticking to Heidi’s mouth, and the way it stuck round her head and over her neck, she actually smiled.
“Can you say anything,” she said to Heidi, who just shook her head and said “ddnnfffftssutrn.”
Alicia picked up a length of rope, smiled at me and said “Ready, Jenny?” She took me by surprise, calling me by my short name, but I figured she was just been friendly and relaxed, so I turned and crossed my wrists behind my back.
“Oh no, I insist I tie you as you tied Heidi,” Alicia said as I felt my arms been moved and my gloved palms been put together, and the tightness as the rope went round my wrists. I relaxed a bit as Alicia wound it round - it was obvious Heidi had taught her well, as I felt my arms been tightly drawn together.
“Do you mind, Jenny, if I gag you once I’ve secured your wrists,” she said in my ear as she passed rope around my waist and fixed my hands against the small of my back, the rope tightly wound between my body and hands as she did so. “No, I don’t” I said with a smile, “You’ll find everything you need in the bag.”
“Thank you,” she said as I tried twisting my arms round, and then looked at Heidi. “You’ve got a good student there,” I said as she looked on, but there was a funny look in her eyes, one I could not quite place.
“Open wide, Jenny,” Alicia said as she held one of Dad’s handkerchiefs in front of my mouth. As she pushed it in, I felt the linen pushing down on my tongue, and then the rougher cotton as the knotted strip went between my teeth. As I closed my mouth around it, I saw Cassie and Suzie start to hop over, fascinated at what Alicia was doing as she tore the tape loose from the roll.
“I hope you enjoy this,” she whispered as she stuck the tape over my mouth and then wrapped it round my head, making sure it was tight as it stuck to my skin and hair, “because I want to be sure you can’t say a word.” She wrapped it round as many times as I had to Heidi, tore the end off and smoothed it in place, putting the tape down before picking up another length of rope. I tried to relax myself, waiting for the rope to go round my arms as I had done to Heidi.
Alicia did something else, however - she wrapped the rope around my lower arms and tummy, pulling it tightly with each pass as she made sure my arms were locked in place then passed it between my arms and my body on both sides before tying it up. “I hope this is as tight as it was when those men tied you up that afternoon,” she whispered in my ear - and I have to admit, it was as tight as then.
“Mmdmdd,” I mumbled as she took another length of rope and passed it round my upper arms and chest, pulling my arms even more tightly in as she made sure the rope was firm against my bare arms. “You know, I had to say when I heard you were robbed as well, I was surprised - I didn't think you would have anything to take, but obviously you had something. But then when you were here that day, you said you heard how I had behaved when I was bound and gagged by them - and I was embarrassed by that.”
She tugged the rope under my armpit and the band, passed it round the back of my neck and then down the other side, pulling it tightly again before she tied it off. “And then you had to treat that horrible afternoon as a game - you and your sister.”
“Bttshwcpd,” I mumbled as I felt my thumbs and middle fingers been tied together, and then was helped to sit down. “I was humiliated when I was tied up with my mother - and then I was humiliated again that afternoon, and what did you do?” She tugged the rope tightly around my ankles as she said “You laughed, you made the others laugh - even when I was crying.”
“Tssntfrlsh,” Heidi said as she tried to sit up, but Alicia ignored her, lifting my skirt up to bind my legs together below my knees. As she folded the skirt back, she looked into my eyes and said “Do you have any idea how small that made me feel, Jennifer Alison Craig?”
I stared back at her, starting to feel a little uneasy at how things were going, but there was nothing I could do about it - she had already gagged me, and as she tied the skirt of my dress around my upper legs I found she had very efficiently and effectively bound my body and legs.
“Rulrtlne,” Cassie mumbled as she looked on, and I nodded as I looked at her and Suzie hopping over. I was wondering what Alicia was going to do next, but I was not expecting her to roll me over onto my side, facing Heidi as she pulled my legs back and tied a length of rope from my ankles to my back.
“Ahtrdddunglsha,” Heidi mumbled through her gag as Alicia did the same tot her, leaving the two of us facing each other as Alicia said “How does that feel, Jennifer - nice and cosy?”
Actually, it was - Heidi had taught her very well, but I could see the anger in her eyes, and decided not agreeing with her may not be a good thing to do. I nodded as she checked the ropes again, and then looked at Cassie.
“And then there’s your darling sister,” she said as she picked up the roll of tape, “and my cousin - both of whom seem to love been bound and gagged, and both of whom made me feel about this big that day. How would you both like to be gagged like Jenny and Heidi?”
“Yspls,” Cassie said as she nodded, Alicia smiling in return as she untied the woollen scarf and let it drop to the floor, before tearing the tape loose again and winding it tightly round her head. I could hear her laughing as the tape stuck to her skin and head, her cheeks visible under the tight band of white. She tore the tape loose, and then repeated the process on Suzie.
“Would you like to be tied like your darling sister,” Alicia said with a sickly smile, and my heart sank when Cassie nodded. Five minutes later, she and Suzie were lying on their sides, facing each other as Alicia tied off the rope behind Suzie.
“So here we all are,” Alicia said as she looked round. “My good friend from America, my darling cousin and my two new friends - the least popular girl in my year and the bright, spunky, irresponsible little sister.
“Do you know, Cassie, you are directly responsible for what happened up here that day - if you had kept your mouth shut, he would have just locked us in, and I’d never have had to learn how to tie someone up. The day would have passed, I would have smiled sweetly, and our paths would never have crossed again - but no, you had to walk into my life time after time.”
I looked at Cassie, and then at Alicia, wondering where all this vitriol had suddenly appeared from. “You know, I was the centre of attention at school after we were robbed, and then it was you. What’s worse, you were robbed, or held hostage again, and suddenly the Craigs are the most famous girls in the school - not me or my friends, you.
“I thought the summer holidays would be a break, but oh no - your gran has to be friends with my Grandmother, doesn’t she? And we get robbed again, and I get tied up and gagged again, and you all laugh, and I felt so small, so very small. I hate you, Jenny Craig, and I hate you, Cassie Craig, and I hate what you have done to my lovely cousin Suzie, and I hate how much I hate this and...”
We all looked at each other, wondering how she had managed to keep this all bottled up, and concerned for how she was thinking. She kept ranting, saying things about how she blamed us for the fact she was not going to be a lord’s daughter, and how she had had it learn to do something she did not want to do, and all sorts of other things. It seemed to go on forever, and I actually started to feel sorry for her again - so much hate bottled up cannot be good for anyone.
I was wondering how much longer she was going to go on when a voice interrupted her.
“Alicia - I think you have said quite enough, don’t you?”
looked in the direction of the door to see Lady Holderness standing there, her
arms folded as she looked at the five of us.
"Well, Alicia? Do you have anything you would like to say to me?"
I swear the colour drained away from her face as Alicia stood there, her mouth wide open as she seemed to be struggling to speak. Eventually a sound did start to come - a low, deep, heavy sobbing sound as she knelt on the floor and buried her hands in her face.
"Miranda, can you at least release the girls from the ropes holding their legs back," Lady Holderness said as she came in and held Alicia, while our Granny came in and released each of us from our hogties. She went to start to untie Cassie, but she just shook her head and sat herself up, Suzie doing the same thing.
As Heidi sat herself up, she looked at me and said something like "msrrdnno." As for me, I was watching Alicia as she sobbed in her grandmother's arms.
"It's all right, Alicia - just let it all out," Lady Holderness said as she looked at me. "Jennifer, I am truly truly sorry that you were subjected to this - outpouring from Alicia. Her mother and I have been worried for some time that she has been keeping her real feelings, her real reaction to recent events to herself, and I regret to say that you have been selected as her target."
"Are you all right, Jenny," Granny said as she helped me to sit up, untying the ropes from around my skirt as she did so. I nodded and looked at Alicia, wondering how long she could do this for.
"We came to tell you that your parents are leaving now, and to see if you wished to say good night," Lady Holderness said as she looked at me and Cassie. "They had been telling us of some of your - more recent experiences, and I have to say it took us back, did it not, Miranda?"
"Oh dear god yes - like the time you visited on the farm and I used some twine and a rag to keep you quiet in the hay store?"
OK, now I’m getting more surprised - I knew Granny had said she had played these games, but with Lady Holderness? Alicia looked almost as shocked as she looked up at her.
"Look, I'll go and tell your parents you are - a little tied up. Your dad will come and collect you tomorrow at about four. Will you be all right up here, Lucinda?"
"I think so, Miranda - I'll have a chat with Alicia and Jennifer. Tell Desmond I will be down in a little while, and we'll talk later in the week."
Granny waved to Cassie and me as she left the room. "Suzanne," Lady Holderness then said as she looked at Suzie, "I believe you have been practising hopping with Cassandra? Why don't you show me what you can do - take her on a tour of the upper bedrooms. Perhaps you would go with them, Heidi, to make sure they are safe?"
Heidi nodded as she pushed herself onto her feet and nodded to the other two. They managed to stand up and hopped to the doorway, their skirts swirling as Heidi followed them to the door and out of the room. As Heidi went out, Lady Holderness turned and looked at Alicia.
"How do you feel now, Alicia?"
"I... I don’t know, Grandma," she said as she tried to dry her eyes. "I've been so angry, so caught up in wanting revenge for what I have been through."
"That is perfectly natural, my dear girl - I was angry as well that day, and when I heard what had happened to you, Anne and Angela. But there was nothing we could do, and after all it was only possessions that were taken - you and I were all safe and sound."
"But they like it - they actually play it as a game."
"And that is how they have dealt with the situation. I suspect, Jennifer, that you partially did it to protect your sister, and partially because you liked it, would that be correct?"
I nodded and said "Itddtllr."
"I'm sure you did, dear, but Alicia is a very proud, and sometimes very stubborn, young girl. She also is very proud of being a Holderness, and all that means."
Granny came back into the room. "I told John and Jennifer I would get a taxi back later," she said as she sat next to me. "Alicia, darling, how are you feeling now?"
Alicia nodded as she said "Strangely better, but I'm also sorry that I did what I did to you, Jenny. I just... snapped."
"It happens, dear," Granny said as she hugged me, "You needed to get it out of your system, but you could have picked a slightly better way."
"Oh I don't know, Miranda - I ended up venting to you in much the same way when we were their age."
"You did," Alicia said as she dried her eyes, and I looked at Granny. "Why?"
"A story for tomorrow, I think - but it ended up with Miranda's father making sure we were able to vent at each other and not disturb anybody."
"How did he do that?"
Lady Holderness blushed as she said "Well, I had bound and gagged Miranda, he walked in much as I did in the middle of my tirade, let me cry, and then did to me what I did to Miranda to me and let us trade insults."
Alicia looked horrified at this suggestion. "But I'm scared of been tied up and gagged!!"
"You were right to be those times - this time it is me who will do it, and I promise nobody will hurt you. But it is entirely up to you, Alicia."
Alicia looked at me, as I slowly nodded. I was keen to see what Granny and her friend had done. "Is this your bag," Lady Holderness said as she looked at the rucksack, and as I nodded in reply she drew out some lengths of rope, passing one to Granny as she took the other.
"All right, I'll do it," Alicia said as she slowly moved her hands behind her back. I watched as Lady Holderness bound her hands together, and then to her waist and side, while Granny bound her legs. They were quick, and ten minutes later she was as securely bound as me.
"Now, when I gag you," Lady Holderness said as she folded the cloth, "You get ten minutes to hurl insults at each other. At the end of that time, Alicia, if you feel you want to both continue do so, otherwise both of you can make your way to your bedroom where I will be waiting. Miranda, the other girls should have found the room they are in by now - perhaps you will join them there?"
"Of course," Granny said as Alicia allowed her grandmother to push the cloth in, then the knotted strip of towelling, and finally the tape round the head. She brought two chairs over and set them down to face each other, then sat me in one and Alicia in another.
"You may begin," she said as she walked to the doorway, "and I will see you in a little while." She walked out as Alicia looked down her own body, and then at me.
“Fshfs,” she then said through her gag.
As we traded insults to each other, I saw something in Alicia that I had to confess I had never ever seen before – laughter in her eyes as she mumbled indecipherable things back at me. It was almost as if all the anger and bile was melting out of her, and she was a nice, ordinary girl of my age who seemed to be beginning to enjoy her situation.
“Mmmmmm” I said as I nodded my head and then moved it in the direction of the door.
I pushed myself up onto my feet and started jumping, my skirt now reaching as it should do to the floor as I moved. Alicia watched for a moment, then pushed herself up and started to hop as well, her dress making a softer sound as she caught up with me. Her hops were shorter, more hesitant, and I could see her wobbling with each time that she stopped. Despite that, she kept going, eventually catching up with me.
“Cmmmn,” she said as she reached the door, “flmm....”
I allowed her
to go through first, and for the first time I saw how her grandmother had bound
her. The white rope was clearly visible over the deep crimson red velvet, holding
her hands tightly together palm to palm, and a length of string was also
wrapped round her thumbs and middle fingers. She had also pulled her elbows
together behind her back, and there were lengths of rope around her waist and
tummy, holding her arms firmly against her back, as well as one around her
Unlike me, Lady Holderness had run a length of rope up her back, from her wrist to her shoulders, and wrapped it round each of the bands. Her ankles were obviously tied together side by side, and her skirt rose up with each hop to show her slippers. I had seen Granny tie her legs together below her knees under her skirt.
As Alicia headed down the corridor, her hops getting slightly better as she gained in confidence, I looked at the pictures that lined the walls. They were beautiful landscapes, unlike the portraits downstairs, and showed what I presumed was some of the local scenery. As she paused to catch her breath by a heavy wooden door, I looked up at one particular striking scene, showing a lake surrounded on all sides by trees.
“Whrst,” I said as I move my head up.
“Mmm - nwdsnrb. Wnngfer?”
I nodded as she started hopping again, but before we got too far we saw a door open and Cassie hop out, followed quickly by Suzie, as they quickly made their way back down the corridor.
“Ccnchssmmmm” Cassie said as she hopped past both of us, with Suzie close behind, as they made their way towards the staircase. Our eyes followed them, and then turned to see Heidi hopping along behind them. She stopped as she looked at both of us.
“Ruuttdflldrrttmgmfdmsmf,” she mumbled as her eyes moved between the two of us. We both nodded, to show we were fine, as Granny came out of the door.
“You’d best follow them,” she said as she leaned on the door frame, “I think Cassie is going to try and go down the stairs.
“Hhhbbeeee,” I said as I turned and hopped in the direction they had gone, Heidi and Alicia coming after me. By the time I had got to the top of the stairs, however, they were already half way down, muffled laughter coming from them as they went down on their bottoms.
The last time I had done this, I was wearing a nightdress and could almost have slid down, but there was no way I was going to be able to do that in this dress. Alicia and Heidi watched as I rather ungracefully sat on the top step, planted my feet two steps down and lifted my bottom down one step, taking great care not to trap my skirt if at all possible.
Alicia had a bigger problem - her skirt was a bit tighter than mine or Heidi’s but she somehow managed to follow me, using her hands to steady herself as much as possible with each move down. Heidi brought up the rear, her skirt rising up as she followed the two of us down.
“Thssttrrngngngng,” Heidi said as the three of us stood at the bottom of the stairs, looking to see where the younger girls had gone. “In here,” we heard Lady Holderness say through an open doorway, and the three of us hopped over to make our way in.
Cassie and Suzie were sat on an old Ottoman couch, their bound ankles in front of them as they watched us come in and sit on the floor. “I think you need to be released and take a break now,” Granny said as she came in, “but we can tie you up again later if you want - just not in your gowns. I think they have seen enough damage for today,”
We all nodded as Lady Holderness took a pair of curved scissors and carefully cut away the tape from Suzie’s head, removing the bandana and stuffing form her mouth as she moved her jaw and said “That was great - thanks for letting us play Grandma.”
“Well, after the conversation we had over coffee, I suspect I could not stop you even if I wanted to,” Lady Holderness said as Granny took the scissors and cut the tape away from Cassie’s mouth, removing the towelling and stuffing as well before she did the same to Heidi.
“Jenny, I’m really sorry,” she said as soon as she had the cloth taken from her mouth, “I had no idea Alicia was going to do what she did. I thought she was going to play a prank on you, but when she started...”
“ddntwrrbtttwrffnnn,” I mumbled as Granny untied Heidi, allowing her to rub her wrists as she was able to bring her arms round, and then reach down and lift her skirt up to untie her ankles and legs.
“If you could untie the two younger girls, Heidi, Miranda and I will take care of Jennifer and Alicia.”
Heidi nodded as she knelt behind Cassie, unwinding the rope from around her tummy and arms as Granny started to untie me as well. As I felt my hands been released, I flexed my fingers and brought them round to rub my own wrists as I looked at Alicia.
She nodded as Granny went to untie her arms as well, allowing me to untie my own legs. Lady Holderness cut the gag away from my mouth, and finally from Alicia, who worked her jaw for a moment before saying anything.
“Cassie, Suzie, I’m really sorry if I scared you upstairs, and Heidi I’m sorry I tricked you as well. I was so caught up in anger and thoughts of revenge that I lost sight of what’s important - friends and family.”
Suzie got up onto her feet, walked over and hugged Alicia, saying “It’s all right Ali - I know you can be a total idiot at times. But Grandma - how long have you known we were playing these games.”
“Truthfully? Mrs Bridges happened to see Alicia having a - lesson with Heidi a few weeks ago, but she did not tell me until after she heard that Jennifer and Cassandra would be spending the night. She was concerned that you may do something stupid, so she informed me.”
“And Grandpa? What did he say?”
She looked at Alicia and said “He just shook his head and said ‘So long as they are not getting hurt, and it helps them to cope, than I can live with it.’ I know he did not play these games when he was younger, but he is not going to stop you.”
The door opened and Mrs Bridges came in, carrying a tray with glasses of milk and what looked like large chocolate chip cookies. “When you are ready, Mrs Craig, my husband will be available to drive you home,” she said to Granny before leaving the room.
“I think we will be all right now, Miranda,” Lady Holderness said as the five of us gathered round the table, “I will call you in the morning.”
“What are you going to do with them now?”
“Oh, I thought I might read them a bedtime story when they have changed - and I have made sure they are ready to listen.”
“The Holderness Shadow?”
Lady Holderness nodded as Granny stood up. “I’ll see you tomorrow," she said as she kissed Cassie and me on the head, “and behave yourselves.” As she left the room, Suzie said “You’re going to tell us a story, Grandma? But what if we fidget and interrupt you?”
“I have an idea of how to take care of that,” Lady Holderness said with a smile, “so finish your biscuits and milk.” She glanced at the clock, which showed it was after nine thirty. “After that, I think it is time you changed into your bedclothes.”
“Aw, Grandma...” I heard Suzie say, as well as Alicia to my great surprise. “Not to go to sleep,” she said as she raised her hand, “I know all too well you are too excited for that, but to listen to my story in a way that ensures you will listen.”
A few minutes later, we were walking back up the staircase, and towards the room we had seen Cassie and Suzie hop out of earlier. As we walked in, I saw five sleeping bags laid out on mattresses, and our bags in one corner. “We’ll leave you two to get changed,” Alicia said as she followed Suzie and Heidi out of the door, “and be back in a few minutes.”
As she closed the door, Cassie turned and said to me “IS Alicia all right? Her eyes are all red.”
“She just had a lot to get off her chest,” I said as Cassie turned round and I untied the sash from round her waist, before pulling the zip gently down her back. She slipped out of the dress and sat on the bed, taking off her shoes and tights as I handed her the white nightdress and slipper socks that Mum had put in the bag for us.
“I wonder why Granny and Suzie’s granny got so mad at each other when they were younger,” Cassie said as she watched me strip out of my dress and pack both carefully away in the special bag Mum had given us for keeping them clean.
“Maybe she will tell us tomorrow,” I said as I removed my tights and found my blue cotton pyjamas, which I put on just in time for the door to open and Suzie to come in. She had on a blue satin nightdress, with short sleeves and a skirt that came down to the floor and blue cotton bed socks.
“The others will be along in a minute,” she said as she sat down on one of the beds, “they’re just getting changed.” Sure enough Alicia and Heidi came in, Alicia in a pair of red pyjamas and Heidi in a vest top and what looked like cycling shorts, both a shocking pink.
Finally Lady Holderness came in, wearing a blue dressing gown over what I could see were cream coloured satin pyjamas. She put a bag on the floor, and I could see the ropes from earlier sticking out of them.
“Before I begin the story,” she said as she handed me and Alicia a pair of white socks, “I think that Cassandra and Suzanne should show me how skilled they are. Jennifer, if you will allow Cassandra to tie your hands behind your back, and Alicia will allow Suzanne.”
Suzie looked at Alicia, worried that this was a line she had not crossed, but she soon smiled as Alicia pulled the socks over her hands and said “It’s all right, Suzie - I want you to do it.” We both sat down on a mattress as Cassie and Suzie each took a few lengths of rope.
I put the socks on and crossed my wrists behind my back, looking over my shoulder as Cassie wrapped the rope around and between them, pulling them next to each other and snugly tying the ropes in place. Suzie looked at Cassie and copied everything she did, as Heidi watched from the other side of the room.
“See, Ali, it’s not as bad as you thought it as,” Heidi said as she saw Alicia actually smile!! “I know,” she said as Suzie cinched the rope between her arms, “and I’m not scared any more - not if all of you are her as well.”
“That’s good to hear, Alicia,” Lady Holderness said as Cassie wrapped a length of rope round my waist and tied my wrist against my back, then tied a second length round my tummy, pulling my arms into my side and passing the rope between my arm and body and both sides. I looked over to see Alicia smile as Suzie fixed her arms into place, and then walk forward and put her cousin’s feet together side by side.
“Make sure it is comfortable and tight,” Lady Holderness said as the tow youngsters tied our ankles together, making sure the rope went round the cuff so four pants as they were pulled tightly together, then our legs below our knees, then around our thighs.
“This actually feels quite nice now,” Alicia said as she smiled and tried to twist her legs round. Suzie had been a good pupil of Heidi, and I suspect a bit of Cassie as well, as the two girls stood up and let Lady Holderness examine their work.
“Excellent job, girls,” she said as she stood up, “now both of you lie face down on one of the other mattresses. Heidi, if you could take care of Cassandra, I will make sure that Suzanne is secured as well, and then I will take care of you.”
“You’re going to tie me up!!” Suzie jumped up and down and clapped her hands as Alicia said “Grandma is very good, Suzie - you might not be able to move when she has finished.”
“Bet she’s not as good as dad,” Cassie said as Heidi put a pair of socks on her hands, crossed her wrists and started to tie them tightly together as well, while Lady Holderness did the same to Suzie. Alicia and I watched, fascinated as they both had their wrists secured, and then their ankles side by side. Lady Holderness told them both to roll over and bend their knees, as she and Heidi pulled their skirts up to their knees and tied their legs together just below them, then pulled the skirts back down and wrapped a length around the upper part of the skirt, holding their legs together as the material was pressed into place.
“Sit up,” Heidi said to Cassie, and as she helped her to get up she wound rope around her waist and tummy, forcing her hands against her back and her arms into her side. The same thing was happening to Suzie, until they both were as well secured as us.
“Your turn now, Heidi dear,” Lady Holderness aid as Heidi put on a pair of socks on her hands and crossed her wrists behind her back. We watched as Lady Holderness did to her exactly the same as was done to us, making sure she was sitting on the one free mattress before she bound our American friend’s legs.
“Now, I must insist on no interruption as I tell my tale,” Lady Holderness then said. “Can we be gagged tightly and thickly,” Cassie piped up, only to lower her head and say “please” as she remembered where she was.
“I am a little reluctant to gag you so thoroughly now, in case you sleep,” Lady Holderness said, “but I think you know how well this can silence you.” She held up a roll of brown fabric as she said this, making all of us cheer and say “Yes please” - even Alicia, who was the loudest of all.
“Can we have something in our mouths,” Suzie said as Lady Holderness stood up. “Only for a little while,” she said as she found five small cloths, and folded each one into a pad. Starting with Suzie, she pushed the cloth into her open mouth and watched as she closed it again, before tearing off a wide strip of the sticky fabric and pressing it over her lips. She did this to each of us in turn, before sitting down and looking at the five of us as we sat in silence.
“I believe a ghost story is in order,” she said as she leaned forward. “So let me tell you about the Holderness Shadow...”
legend of the Holderness Shadow is said to date back to the time of the first
Baronet. It was the year 1820, and Bartholomew Holderness was riding with his
brother Horatio on the estate when they found signs of poachers
“Now Bartholomew was the younger son, and had earned his reputation on the fields of Belgium, while Horatio had stayed behind and minded the estate. He did not begrudge his brother his fame or success, but instead had sworn to protect him no matter what happened. So when they found signs of the poachers, and Bartholomew wanted to hide in the woods and catch them that night, it was Horatio who said he would keep watch and take the lead.
“The legend has it that the night was cloudless, and the air warm, as the two brothers took up their position in the wood and waited for the poachers to arrive. Eventually, as the village clock could be heard to strike midnight in the distance they heard footsteps and the sound of a dog panting.”
Lady Holderness looked at each of us as the light in the ceiling suddenly went out, leaving the lamps around the room providing the only illumination.
“As the two men approached the brothers, Bartholomew started to rise, but Horatio held him back. He recognised the father and son - they were poor villagers, and he realised they were looking for food to survive. He urged his brother to lie low and watch as the father reached down and set a trap for rabbits, as his son held the family dog by a rope leash.
“They watched them walk into the distance, and that would have been the end had they not heard a scream from the young boy. Horatio and Bartholomew ran full tilt towards the sound, arriving to find the boy kneeling as his father lay unconscious on the ground.
"The sound of a twig snapping behind them made both men turn round, and as Bartholomew heard his brother shout ‘NO!!!’ he was pushed to the side as a shot rang out. He raised his head from the leaves and dirt to see a figure running away, and Horatio lying on the ground, staring up at the dark sky.”
She looked at us as a chill ran down my spine and I heard Cassie and Suzie gulp. Even Heidi was listening intently.
“Bartholomew scrambled to his brother’s side and held him in his arms as Horatio looked at him.
“‘Are... Are they safe?’
“He looked over at the father and son as the older man slowly raised himself from the ground. ‘They’re safe.’ he said, ‘but we need to fetch a physician for you, you’re...’
“’I’m dying, but don’t fear, brother - I will always be there, watching over you and your family, and if they are ever in need or in danger, I will be there with them - you have my word as a Holderness.....’ With that, he closed his eyes and breathed his last.
“He was buried in the family crypt, and eventually the person who had shot him was found and hanged according to the law. Bartholomew attended the execution, but as the hangman put the hood over his head he caught a glimpse out of the corner of his eye of a shadow - nothing more than a shadow, but in form and size it so closely resembled Horatio that he almost called out his brother’s name.”
Alicia looked at me, her eyes wide as her grandmother sat back into the shadows.
“He thought it was just a trick of the light, and thought nothing more of it. Eventually he married and had a fine son, who in turn married and had children. On his deathbed, it is said his final words were “Thank you” into no particular direction at all, but his son reported that he saw an unexpected shadow on the wall as he died.
“Some years later, when the Second Baronet had married and had children, his daughter fell ill with typhoid. She was near to death’s door, with her father and mother by her side. As the rays of the rising sun came through the window, she suddenly relaxed, and opened her eyes. ‘Daddy,’ she said slowly, ‘the nice shadow told me I had to come back.’
“As her mother held her, the Baronet looked to the window, and caught the shade of a shadow fading against the wall - where no light had yet fallen...”
Now we all shivered - I could see each one of us looking at the others.
“The legend of the Shadow has been passed down through the years, with each new appearance been added. The Fifth Baronet was an officer at the Somme, and one day thought he saw a shadow moving in the corner of his bunker - on a cold, clear night. He left to investigate, following the shade down the trench, as a shell came from the enemy lines and obliterated where he had been standing. The story has always been that if a Holderness is threatened or faces death, then the Holderness Shadow has appeared and all has been well after that.
“But the tale I really want to tell you concerns his son, the Sixth Baronet and your grandfather’s grandfather. The year was 1936, and he was away on business in London, while his son was at Harrow. This left his wife and his two daughters, whose names were also Alicia and Suzanne, alone in the house when a vicious armed gang broke in.
“They overpowered the housekeeper in the kitchen, and tied her tightly to one of the wooden chairs, gagging her with a thick cloth. Her husband was also away, so there was no-one to warn Lady Holderness or the girls when the three men burst into the room and aimed their shotguns at them.
“Her Ladyship was quite a beauty, and this particular day was wearing a red knee length dress with a square collar, and high heeled red shoes. Her two daughters were dressed differently - Alicia was still in her school uniform of a white blouse, grey pinafore dress with button down shoulders, a black and red tie, white socks and black shoes. Suzanne was younger, and had on a red and black checked dress, short sleeved with three buttons down the front, white socks and flat shoes.”
I looked over at Alicia and Suzie at this point, as they stared intently forward.
“The men wasted no time, or manners, in showing them that they were in charge. They forced the two girls to stand in front of their mother, as one of the men tightly bound their hands behind their backs with thin twine, which bit into their skin, then made them sit back to back. One of the men tied their ankles together tightly, while the other pulled the curtain cords down and used that to pull the two girls together around their waists, trapping their wrists behind them.
“While this was going on, the third man was threatening their mother, holding her arm tightly and pointing the gun in her face to force her to tell them where her valuables were. They could see the tears in her eyes as she had her own arms pulled behind her back and her wrists tied tightly together, but they were in no position to say anything - the two men had pulled thick towels into their mouths, forcing their lips apart as they tried to bite down on them.
“’Either you start talking,’ the man said to Lady Holderness, ‘or we start hurting the brats. You have five seconds... four... three...”
Lady Holderness leaned forward again and looked at us. “In her fear and tears, Alicia swore later that she saw some sort of shadow moving from the corner of the room, just before the lights suddenly dimmed. The man looked round, shouting ‘What the hell’s going on,’ before he stuffed an oily cloth into Lady Holderness’s mouth and forced her to sit on the couch.
“’It’s probably just the electricity,’ one of the other men said as he stood up, ‘I’ll go and check outside.’ Before he reached the door, however, the lights went out.
“What happened next is - uncertain. Lady Holderness reported that as she sat there, a warmth passed through her before she heard a heavy thud. When Suzanne was asked,” Lady Holderness said as she looked at Suzie, “she said she heard a kind voice saying ‘don’t worry, little one, you are quite safe’ before the thud. As for Alicia, she could see the man by the door, and to her dying day she said she saw the colour drain from his face, his pallor a ghostly white as a shadow seemed to raise its hand and hit him.
“At any rate, all three agreed that when the lights brightened a few minutes later, they found themselves free of their bindings, and the three men unconscious on the floor, their faces as white as sheets. Lady Holderness pulled the cloth from her mouth, hugged her girls and ran from the room to call the police. They ungagged themselves and went to the kitchen, where the housekeeper was still in the chair, her head in her arms as she sat slumped on the table free of the ropes and gags.”
As she sat back, I saw Cassie and Suzie shaking slightly. I imagine they were thinking of themselves as the other Suzie, sat there wondering what was going on. Alicia was looking at her, attentive as ever, while Heidi was actually giggling. I don’t think she believed a word of it - and neither did I, but I said nothing. As if I could anyway...
“So you see, girls, the Holderness Shadow is like our Guardian Angel - always there when a Holderness is in grave peril.” As she stood up, Lady Holderness walked to the door, before turning and looking at us.
“Do you know, that day we were all robbed, bound and gagged? When we were been tied up downstairs, I could have sworn I saw one of the shadows in the drawing room move out of the corner of my eye. I will be back in a little while - just keep an eye on the shadows as you wait.”
She left the room and closed the door, as we all looked at each other, unsure of what our next move was going to be.
“Ddblfffttt,” Alicia said as she looked at me. I was going to shrug my shoulders when, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw one of the shadows cast by the lamps moving for no apparent reason.
Alicia obviously saw it as well, because she screamed through her gag “WTTTHLLSSSASDDASSADD” as she backed up onto the mattress. That made Suzie jump and back up as well, as Cassie looked over at me, wondering what was going on.
We all looked at Heidi, who had managed to grab a drape with her hand and swing it from side to side; making the light cast a shadow that seemed to move for no apparent reason. Her eyes were sparkling as she looked at each of us.
“Mmddullklmdmdusttrrr,” she mumbled as Alicia forced herself forward, saying “lllgtufrrrtssssheedeestrnnggg” as she started to approach the laughing American girl.
She literally jumped onto the bed and knocked Heidi onto her side, pushing into her as she tried to get her own back. Suzie and Cassie laughed as they watched the mock fight, and I have to admit I giggled as well.
Eventually the door opened and Lady Holderness returned with Mrs Bridges, the housekeeper now also wearing a dressing gown over a night robe. “I think we need to make sure you girls are not uncomfortable during the night,” she said as the door closed, “and more to the point, we need to take that tape off.”
“Ohhhgfgffhhgh,” both Suzie and Cassie said, “Cnnttstssnnn”
“I’m afraid not, girls,” Mrs Bridges said with a smile, “but her Ladyship and I have a better idea.”
helped us all to sit up, before removing the tape and cloths that were keeping
us reasonably quiet. Mrs Bridges then helped Cassie to stand up and started to
untie the ropes around her arms as Lady Holderness did the same to Suzie. They
then guided their hands in front of them, crossing their wrist as they retied
them together, and then held them firmly against their bodies with a length of
rope around their waists.
“I like this, it’s firm,” Cassie said, “but why can’t we have the nice tight gags all night? Jenny and I had to sleep the night with them before, and it wasn’t any trouble.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t dear, “Mrs Bridges said as she wound some rope round Cassie’s arms and tummy, “but the others have not, and it would not be fair on them, would it? Trust us, we have something as good in mind - and I promise you can have your way tomorrow.”
“How does that feel, Suzanne,” Lady Holderness said as she tied the rope off behind Suzie’s back. “Very comfortable, thank you, Grandma,” she said as she smiled in reply.
“Now then, you two sit down and we will deal with the older girls.”
As Suzie and Cassie sat on their cot beds, we each took our turns in having our arms released and then re-tied so that our hands were snugly bound in front of us. Even Alicia agreed to do this, despite her grandmother saying “You don’t have to if you don’t want to, dear - they’ll understand.”
“No, it’s all right Grandma - I need to do this for myself,” she said in reply as the rope went round her waist. I said “Well done, Ali,” and she actually smiled in response. At me!!
Mrs Bridges had brought a pile of things in with her, and out of that she picked up an old woollen headscarf, with a picture of a small dog printed in black on the brown material. She rolled it into a thick band and stood behind Cassie.
“We do not want to tape your mouth, but we can silence you somewhat,” she said as Cassie opened her mouth and allowed her to pull the band in. “Ttcklsss,” she mumbled as Mrs Bridges pulled the ends round her cheeks and head, and knotted them tightly together under her hair.
Lady Holderness, in the meantime, had taken an old silk headscarf, embossed with black on red, and rolled that into a thinner band. Suzie opened her mouth and allowed her to pull the gag in, closing her lips over it as the ends were tied over her red hair.
“BtIcnsttspk,” she mumbled as she looked at her grandma.
“You just have to pretend,” she said with a smile as they helped both Suzie and Cassie to lie down in their sleeping bags on the cot beds. “Now, Jennifer, if what your parents and grandmother say is correct you want a gag like Cassandra, and I suspect Alicia would appreciate one similar to Suzanne. What of you, Heidi - which would you prefer?”
“I’ll take one like Cassie,” Heidi said with a smile, “It won’t be the first time I’ve been left all night like that either.”
“As you wish, dear,” Lady Holderness said as he picked up a large brown scarf, almost a shawl, rolled it into a band and pulled it into my mouth. The fabric tickled my tongue, and I had to bite down to close my mouth, but there was no denying it muffled anything I wanted to say.
Alicia had a large royal blue silk scarf pulled into her mouth, while Heidi bit down on a thick band of green wool. We three girls lay ourselves down on the bed as Mrs Bridges and Lady Holderness covered us with the sleeping bags.
“Two last things,” she then said as she handed Mrs Bridges a couple of small packets and black sleep masks, “and then I will wish you a good night.” I watched as she opened one of the packets, and pushed the foam earplugs into Suzie’s ears, then fixed the sleep mask over her eyes. One by one the others had the same thing done to them, until I felt the plugs going into my own ears, blocking out most of the sound, and then the darkness as the thick fabric covered my eyes.
I heard something that sounded like “Good night, girls” and then nothing - just darkness and silence. I could hear some movement, and very muffled noises, but I was suddenly so tired, so very very tired...
I opened my eyes to total darkness, and it took me a few minutes to remember that I had an eye mask on. Rolling onto my side, I rubbed my head against the pillow I was lying on, slowly making the mask slide up and over my forehead until I saw Cassie kneeling next to me, the mask off her eyes clear bright eyes.
“Good morning, Jenny,” I heard Alicia say, and rolling over I saw her kneeling next to Heidi, who had somehow used her covered hands to ease the scarf out of her mouth. It lay around her neck, a dark stain in the middle.
“I’m just trying to unpick the rope around Heidi’s hands with my teeth,” she said as Heidi nodded in agreement. “Maybe Cassie can try and ease the socks off your hands.”
Now the rope around our wrists was tied over the socks, but they weren’t taped down to our night clothes, and I could see the top had fallen a little way down my arms. What I did not know is if there was any slack underneath Cassie’s wrists to allow me to try to pull them off - or even if I could get enough of a grip to do so.
So when Cassie put her hands in front of mine, and I saw she had belled her fist up inside to leave a little flapping end in front of them, I tried to grab one with my own hands and pull down. It wasn’t easy, but eventually I managed to grip it between my fingers, even through the sock, and start to pull it down her arm. I lost grip a few times, but eventually I managed to get the sock through the ropes and pull it off.
Turning my head, I waited as Cassie picked at the knot over my brown hair, slowly loosening the scarf until I was able to push it out with my own mouth and turn to look at her. As I did so, I saw Suzie was finally beginning to stir, and I saw the time on the clock - eight am.
“That’s better,” Heidi said as she shook her wrists after taking the scarf out of her own mouth, the dark green stained cloth hanging round her neck. “Now let’s get everyone freed, and we can all go down for breakfast.”
“Brkfssttmlrdee,” Suzie said as she rolled onto her back, looking from side to side as we all burst out laughing.
so the little captives are awake,” Mrs Bridges said as the five of us trooped
into the kitchen. “Sit yourselves at the table and I’ll get you some
It was actually a sunny day, so we all had on suitable clothing. I had packed in a blue polo shirt and denim shorts, which I wore with white socks and trainers, while Cassie had on a pair of blue shorts and a t-shirt with “Little Princess” printed in silver on black. Heidi was wearing a cotton vest top, with light blue and white stripes, and matching athletics shorts in light blue with a white trim.
Even Alicia was casually dressed, in a sleeveless white blouse and khaki baggy shorts, while Suzie had on a grey t-shirt and shorts. As we sat round the table and tucked into bowls of cereal, I saw a large wicker basket on the work surface, into which Mrs Bridges was packing things wrapped in paper.
“What’s the basket for, Mrs Bridges,” Suzie said as she swallowed a mouthful of corn flakes.
“It’s for a picnic,” Lady Holderness said as she came in. She had on a blue long sleeved blouse, with a grey waistcoat over it and a matching scarf tied round her neck, grey slacks and soft shoes. “I thought we could all go down to the lake for lunch, and we can show you some of the grounds of the Manor.”
“Is that the lake in the picture upstairs,” I asked, and Alicia nodded in response. “There’s a great patch of grass down there that we can put a blanket on, and nobody can disturb us - there’s only one way in and out, and the grounds are walled in.”
I could see Suzie and Cassie exchanging glances - the sort that said they were going to suggest something. “Mrs Bridges,” Suzie said with the sweetest smile on her face, “Remember last night you said we could have our way today?”
Mrs Bridges looked at Lady Holderness, as the three of us looked at Cassie and Suzie. We had a feeling we knew what they were going to say, and it proved to be right.
“Yes,” Mrs Bridges said slowly, “I did promise that. Why?”
“We want to have our hands tied and be tightly gagged when we go,” Suzie and Cassie said at almost the same time. We looked at Lady Holderness, who had a smile on her face.
“Very well then,” she eventually said, “I presume you want the special gag you like, Cassandra?” Cassie nodded and smiled a big, broad smile as she did so.
“Very well then - but I insist you all wear a scarf over your hair, to protect it, and that we do not tie your feet or legs. It is a nice walk, but it can get a bit bumpy.”
“Thanks Grandma,” Suzie said as Mrs Bridges cleared our bowls out of the way and put plates of sausages, bacon and eggs in front of us. “Eat up then,” Lady Holderness said, “and then get yourselves ready. We will leave at eleven.”
We gathered in the room we had slept in at ten thirty, and opened our bag to take out some of Dad’s handkerchiefs, five of his ties and a roll of silver duct tape.
“You’d better give those to Mrs Bridges,” I said to Alicia as I handed her a pair of curved scissors, “We’ll need them later if we want to eat.” She nodded and left the room as Suzie and Cassie each tied a blue scarf over their hair, pushing it back so that the point reached down to their shoulders.
“Ready,” I said as I handed Heidi a handkerchief and tie. Suzie nodded and opened her mouth to allow Heidi to push the cloth in, as I did the same to Cassie, and then we both pulled one of Dad’s ties between their lips as she closed her mouth over it.
Taking the roll of tape, I tore the end loose and pressed it against Cassie’s cheek, before wrapping it around her head, taking care to keep it over the headscarf as it enclosed her cheeks and mouth. As Alicia came back into the room, I handed the tape to Heidi and said “Are you sure you want to go through with this? I mean, you still must be a little afraid.”
“I am,” Alicia said as she picked up a large handkerchief, “but something Heidi said to me that day we were all tied up just keeps sticking in my mind.”
“Oh,” Heidi said as she tore the tape off and smoothed it down at the back of Suzie’s neck, “What’s that?”
“It’s like riding a bike - you need to get back on and try it again,” Alicia said before she popped the cloth into her own mouth and used a tie to hold it in place, tying the ends tightly round her neck before she tied a green scarf, folded into a triangle, over her hair. Heidi handed her the tape, but she passed it to me and said “Udtjneee” before smiling. IT looked strange with a black band emerging from either side, but I smile din return before tearing the tape loose, as Heidi put a black scarf over her short blonde hair ad picked up a handkerchief.
As the clock struck eleven, we all walked down the stairs, our mouths and heads wrapped in bands of silver. I had put on a white scarf before gagging myself, as Lady Holderness and Mrs Bridges stood in the hallway.
As we reached the foot of the stairs, Sir Despond walked past, carrying a paper in his hand. “Picnic?” he asked as he looked at us, and we all nodded in reply. “Well, enjoy yourselves,” he said as he walked away, “and keep an eye out for shadows that move.”
Our eyes must have shot up, as Lady Holderness said “He’s only kidding. Now, each of you turn round and put your hands behind your back, palms together.”
I watched as she and Mrs Bridges dealt with Alicia and Heidi first, binding their wrists tightly together with thin cords of white. “This is parachute cord,” Lady Holderness said as she saw me looking over, “It won’t bruise the skin, but it will do the job.” She wound the cords around and between Alicia’s hands, tying it off and then tying the ends round her thumbs as well. She then took a second length and tied it round her waist, holding her arms tightly in place, and third length as before round her arm sand tummy, brining the ends between her arms and body to further secure the binding.
Cassie and I were next, and I had to admit it did feel soft as the cords slipped over my arms. At the same time, it was strong a sit held me hands firmly together, and the lengths around my thumbs made it virtually impossible to move my hands apart. It was a lovely way to be secured, and I had no problem dealing with it while Mrs Bridges dealt with Suzie, and Lady Holderness picked up the picnic basket.
“Now then,” she said as she walked to the door, “Follow me girls, and try not to trip up.”
walked out of the front door and along the gravel path that wound its way
around the manor house. Lady Holderness took the lead, we followed, and Mrs
Bridges came up behind us. While Lady Holderness was carrying the large wicker
basket, Mrs Bridges had two bags, out of the top of one cloud be seen a large
I actually felt a bit bad about this - we should have offered to help. Alicia’s grandmother must have noticed my look, as she said “It’s all right, Jennifer - you can help to bring the baskets and bags back. Suzanne, dear, watch where you are running.”
We had emerged onto a huge, incredibly well kept lawn, with trees growing through the grass at various points. Suzie and Cassie had sprinted on ahead, Suzie taking the lead as they made their way down the gentle slopes to a line of trees that ran along the bottom edge. As they ran and skipped across the grass, Alicia turned o tem and mumbled “wttrrggnfddd” through her gag.
“Hwlngngsssbnnnrrrr,” Heidi said as she looked round the grounds.
“How long, Heidi? I am not exactly sure, but there is a mention of a Holderness her in the Domesday Book. I do know the house that became the manor house was here quite a few years before the first Baronet Holderness, if that is any help. Indeed, there are some tales of events that took place during the English Civil War, so that is nearly 500 years ago.
“MDmsccnnttmgmggngnnn,” Heidi said as we walked towards Suzie and Cassie, who had stopped and were trying to trip each other up with their legs.
“Now girls, come along,” Lady Holderness said as she headed for a small parting in the tress, the rest of us following after her. The path that the opening went onto was wide and dry, if a little uneven, so that we all stumbled at least once or twice as we walked along.
After a few minutes, we stopped in a small clearing, at one side of which was a large oak tree that had a small metal cross attached to it. “This,” Lady Holderness said, “is where the brother of the First Baronet, Horatio Holderness, was killed.”
I could not help looking from side to side, wondering if anyone was watching, before we moved on again and down the path. Eventually it opened up into a clearing, at the side of a large lake. I recognised the scene from the picture hanging on the wall, as Alicia said “wlccmtsscrrtsptttttjneeeee.”
“This has always been one of my favourite places,” Lady Holderness said as Mrs Bridges took the blanket out of one of her bags and laid it on the ground. “I find it - restful. Now, we need to lay out the picnic, so I thought you girls may like to play a little game.”
She opened the wicker basket, and instead of a plate of food or some fruit she took out a large silk headscarf, the red pattern clearly visible on the cream background.
“I think Blind Man’s Bluff will do,” she said as she folded the scarf into a band, “but obviously you will not be able to use your hands, so the rule will be that when you bump into somebody, I will come and switch the blindfold. Now, which of your girls would like to be first?”
It didn’t surprise me one bit when Cassie nodded and jumped up and down. “Very well then,” Lady Holderness said as she gathered us in a circle round my sister, “I will put the blindfold on, turn you three times and then you can start to try and find them. When you are ready?”
“Rddeeddd,” Cassie mumbled as the scarf was tied over her eyes, and she was turned round three times. She started to move round as we called out to her through our gags, jumping out of the way as she tried to stumble towards us. “Stdfnstttldnnntplsss,” was all she could say as she darted from side to side, while Mrs Bridges helped to set the food out on the blanket.
Eventually, more by luck than skill, Cassie ran straight into Heidi, making her let out a strange sound like “Mmmmgggpphphhhh” as Lady Holderness came over and removed the blindfold. She then tied it over Heidi’s eyes, and spun her round three times.
This turn did not last nearly as long, as Heidi managed to stumble over a raised part of the ground and fall straight into Alicia. As the two girls tumbled over, I could hear them both laughing under the silver bands, and I realised that Alicia was not afraid of being like this - at least as long as she was with us.
“Come on girls,” Mrs Bridges said as she helped them both to stand up and untied the blindfold, “What will your mothers think of getting into these scrapes?”
“Ccchdddlvdddd,” Heidi said as she watched Alicia been blindfolded, and then spun round. She nodded to me, Suzie and Cassie, so that as Alicia started to move round we moved away as silently as we could, to see if her hearing was more than up to the task.
We were doing well too, until I managed to stub my toe on a stone. “Mgggggg” I screamed out, only to realise my mistake when Alicia literally charged at me, knocking her and me to the ground. We rolled round for a few minutes, until we stopped facing each other. The blindfold had managed to slip down to her neck, so that she looked at me and said “Tllddudgggtttuuujnnnncrgggg.”
“I think it is time for lunch, girls,” Lady Holderness said, so we trooped over to her and sat down, waiting patiently as she and Mrs Bridges untied our hands and arms and then cut away the tape gags.
“Put the handkerchiefs in this plastic bag,” she said as she held a clear pouch in her hand, “and we can take them home with us later.” We did as she asked and then sat round the blanket, looking at the piles of sandwiches, pies and cakes that we had brought along.
“So, Jennifer, Cassandra,” Lady Holderness said as she poured us each a glass of squash from a large pitcher and handed them over, “I hope you have enjoyed your stay with us so far”?
“Yes, thank you, Your Ladyship,” I said before nudging Cassie, who was deep in conversation with Suzie. “Wha... Oh yes, thank you for allowing us to come,” she said as she looked round.
“Well, I’m sure that my grandchildren are glad that you could come as well, is that not right?” She looked at Alicia and Suzie as she said this, expecting a response. Suzie, unfortunately, had a mouth full of chicken salad sandwich, so when Alicia said “We are actually - especially me,” I wondered what was coming.
“I’ve not exactly been a friend to you, have I Jenny?”
“Err - well, I would not say we have been friends, no.”
“Can we be?”
I nodded as I looked at Lady Holderness, who had a strange smile on her face. “Excellent - I’m glad you’re feeling better now, Alicia,” she said as she drank from her glass. “At least Suzanne will not be spending quite so many mornings bound in her room, on her own.”
“One question, Alicia - when did your hair turn dark?”
“My hair? Oh,” she said as she ran her hand through her long black hair, “After that first robbery, it just felt as if I wanted to be someone else. So I stopped dying it and let my hair colour grow back out again.”
“And very nice it is as well,” her grandmother said with a smile as she watched Suzie eating a sausage roll.
As we were talking, Heidi was looking across the lake, at an island in the middle. There was a large white marble building in the middle, which seemed to grab her attention.
“That,” Mrs Bridges said as she cut open a large apple pie, “is the Holderness family crypt.”
“In the middle of a lake,” Heidi said as she turned round and accepted a slice of the pie on a plate, “I mean, it is private, but...”
“It does seem a little morbid,” Lady Holderness said between mouthfuls, “but we in the English Aristocracy must be allowed our little eccentricities. Now then, who would like some more squash?”
We must have passed at least an hour, sitting round, talking, eating, as if we were all one big family, but eventually I looked at my watch and saw it was two o’clock.
“Lady Holderness,” I said quietly, “I have really enjoyed this, but I wonder if we need to start it return so that we are at the Manor House when our father comes.”
“My goodness, is that the time,” she said as she looked at her watch. “Well then, we must clear up, or else...”
Her words were stopped as Alicia said “Grandma, I am afraid neither you nor Mrs Bridges are going to clear up. Heidi, Jenny and I will gather everything up and carry them back.”
“Oh,” Mrs Bridges said, “and how are you going to stop us?” She had a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye as she said this - she had seen, as had I that Suzie was sneaking behind her grandmother with a length of the parachute cord in her hands.
“Granny,” she said in her sweetest voice, “can Cassie and I show you how good we are at tying hands together?”
“Oh,” Lady Holderness said quietly. “I did wonder if this was going to happen. Very well then - do your worse.”
“You really should not say that, Grandma,” Alicia said as Suzie crossed her grandmother’s wrist behind her back, and wrapped the cord around and between them, been careful to keep the rope over the cuffs of her blouse as she did so. “That does feel secure,” she said as she got onto her knees and allowed Suzie to tie some cord round her waist and wrists, fixing them in place behind her back.
“Mrs Bridges,” Cassie said as she stood there with her hands behind her back, smiling just as sweetly, “Suzie says you need to play as well.”
Now Mrs Bridges was wearing a short sleeved tunic top which had a green floral pattern on the black background, leggings and black shoes. She looked at Lady Holderness, who said “I don’t think they’re going to do anything silly,” before moving her hands behind her back and allowing Cassie to start to bind them together.
As the two holy terrors went to work, Alicia, Heidi and I packed away the remaining food, the plates and all the rubbish, making sure it was all placed in the bags and basket. I heard Lady Holderness say “Not tape, dear,” at one point, and rolled my eyes at Alicia. She could see what was happening, but said nothing until we had finished the clear up.
As we turned round, we saw both Lady Holderness and Mrs Bridges standing there, their hands fixed behind their backs and bands of rope around their waists and stomachs, holding their arms firmly in place. They both had one of the sleep masks fixed over their eyes, as well as a long silk scarf tied over their mouths - grey for Lady Holderness, black for Mrs Bridges.
“SJssttbccrrfllll,” Lady Holderness mumbled. “What have you gagged them with,” I asked as we picked up the basket and bags.
“What we were gagged with last time you came,” Suzie said as she took her grandmother’s arm. Cassie took that of Mrs Bridges, as we started to make our way back to the manor house.
walk back was, of course, longer than the walk there. Not that we had heavy
bags to carry - between the three of us, Heidi, Alicia and me were able to
No, it was because Suzie and Cassie were leading both Suzie’s grandmother and Mrs Bridges along the path, holding their arms as they said things like “You need to raise your foot a little, Granny,” or “Be careful Mrs Bridges, there’s a root there.”
And you know what? For all the times that Cassie has got me and others into tight spots and situations, and she and Suzie have annoyed us a little, they were the perfect guides. They made sure their captives walked safely along the path to the large lawn, and then kept their arms in theirs as we escorted them back up to the main house without any incident or harm.
“Whrwwmmmsss,” Lady Holderness said as we walked across the lawn, the light wind blowing in our faces as we did so.
“We’re just walking back up to the house, Grandma,” Suzie said as they heard the crunch of gravel under their feet. We made our way round the path and into the kitchen by the back door, Alicia leading the way.
As we set the bags on the large wooden table, Suzie and Cassie helped Lady Holderness and Mrs Bridges to sit in two old wooden chairs, and removed the sleep masks from their eyes. “Shall we remove the gags as well, Grandma,” Suzie said, and as Lady Holderness nodded she walked behind her and untied the grey scarf, revealing that they had pulled a rolled and knotted scarf into her mouth.
“I thought you said they were gagged the same way we were,” Alicia said as she looked over.
“Oops - me bad,” Suzie laughed. “We were not allowed to use tape, and we did not have the brown stuff, so we used a scarf. Grandma said this was how she and Mrs Craig were silenced, however.”
Lady Holderness nodded as she heard Suzie reply, and then looked over at Mrs Bridges as Cassie untied the red and black scarf that had been pulled into her mouth. As she eased the soaking knot of silk out, Mrs Bridges worked her jaw and said “Thank you, dear - now if you could please untie me, I need to start preparing dinner.”
“Actually,” Lady Holderness said as she was allowed to speak as well, “Cassandra and Jennifer need to go and finish their packing.” Her eyes were looking at the clock, which said it was a quarter past three. “Alicia and Heidi can take care of the rest of the untying - I want Suzie to do something else for me.”
Cassie and I left the room and ran up the staircase to the bedroom. Picking up our bags, we started to neatly fold our bedclothes and other things and put them in, as well as packing our supplies away.
As I closed the bag, I looked over at Cassie and said “We need to thank Alicia and Suzie properly for allowing us to stay the night.”
“I know,” Cassie said as she swung her legs to and fro, “What do you think we should do?”
“We only have a couple of weeks of the holiday left - maybe we can arrange to have a special day with them, like we did with Mum, Dad and Granny?”
“I like that idea,” Cassie said with a smile, “but we’d better ask Mum and Dad before we say anything.”
“Hang on,” I said as I poked her in the ribs, “are you been the sensible one?”
I would have launched into a tickling match right there and then, had Heidi not put her head round the door and said “Mister Bridges is going to come up for your bags in a minute - Lady Holderness wants you to come down to the parlour.”
We looked at each other and followed her down the staircase, walking into the large room we had first seen last night. Lady Holderness was seated on a long couch, with Suzie and Alicia sitting either side of her.
“I wanted to thank you for staying last night,” Lady Holderness said as she smiled at us, “but before you go my granddaughters would like to say something to you.”
We wanted to thank you as well,” Alicia said as she stood up, “and also once again I wanted to apologise for last night. I don’t know why I did it, but I’m glad you were here to help me.”
“Thanks for coming Cass,” Suzie said as she stood up and hugged my sister. “Can you do one more thing for both of us before you go?”
“Sure, Suz,” Cassie said with a smile, “What is it?”
“Tie me and Alicia up, so that we are sitting back to back. Grandma wants us to...”
“To be in here for a while,” Lady Holderness finished. “In return, if you so desire, Heidi has agreed to prepare you for your trip home in any way you wish to be ready.”
“You name it - I’ll do it,” Heidi said, “although I think you need to bear in mind you are going out in public.”
Cassie and I looked at each other, before saying “All right.” Cassie took a length of the parachute cord from Lady Holderness, but instead of standing behind Suzie she went behind Alicia. I was going to suggest we swapped, but Alicia said “I probably deserve this anyway” and crossed her wrists behind her back.
“Do you want your hand free to move about,” I said as I walked behind Suzie. “Yes, please - we’re going to see if we can untie each other,” she said with a smile as I wrapped the cord around her wrists and tied them tightly together.
“Grandma,” Alicia said as she felt her won wrists been bound, “Last night you said you had a similar experience to me with Jenny’s grandmother. Can you tell us what happened?”
“Oh, that!” Lady Holderness smiled. “It was over a boy - I was deeply, madly and passionately in love with a local village boy, as much as any twelve year old wanted to be, but before I got the chance to ask him to the local disco Miranda had invited him.
“Well, I was angry, jealous, however you wish to describe it, so the day after the disco I went to the farm Mrs Craig - sorry, Jennifer and Cassandra's grandmother lived on. There was nothing unusual in that - I often went over on a Saturday - and as always we went into the barn and played in the hay stock for a while.
“At any rate, at the first opportunity I had I suggested a Tie up game. She was wearing, if I remember correctly, an old white jumper and dark slacks, with her feet in a pair of wellington boots. She agreed, and I used some baling twine to bind her wrists and ankles - it worked really well in pulling the rubber around her ankles, I remember - and then pushed one of my handkerchiefs into her mouth, before using an old rag to keep it in place.
“Well, once she was secured, I believe the phrase is I ripped into her. I called her every name under the sun, accused her of trying to destroy my life, everything - and like you, I did not know when to stop. I did stop, however, when I felt the hand of her father on my shoulder, and I saw the tears running down her cheeks.
“At any rate, he asked what was happening, but like you Alicia I found myself unable to answer. He just looked at us, and said we needed to get this out of our system, so he took more twine and tied me hand and foot, before putting me on the bale next to your grandmother. He then pushed one of his handkerchiefs into my mouth, took off the scarf he had around his neck and used that as a gag on me, and basically said we should call each other whatever names came to mind, until we had exhausted ourselves.
“I still do not know exactly what I said to her or her to me - all I know is eventually we looked at each other and just started laughing. That day we became closer friends than ever - and it is my hope that you and Jennifer have the same experience.”
While she had been talking, Cassie and I had been hard at work. Suzie had said they wanted to see if they could free each other, so we had not secured their hands or covered them, ,instead opting for the simple tying of the crossed wrists and then around their waists, before we made them sit back to back on the floor and tied their ankles together, then their legs below their knees. I had then gone on one side, and Cassie on the other, before we tied their arms together above their elbows, making sure we cinched the coils, and then between us wound a length of cord around their bodies and arms to hold them together.
“I think you should just have a simple cleave gag for now, “ Lady Holderness said, and as Suzie protested added “You may want to speak to each other to co-operate, after all.”
We each took one of Her Ladyship’s scarves, me a large green head scarf and Cassie a blue and white check one, rolled them into thick bands and tied a knot in the middle, before pulling the knotted cloth into their mouths and taking the ends around their heads.
“Fnnkssjnneee,” Suzie mumbled as I tied the ends together, and sat back, putting my hands through my brown hair as I watched Cassie finish the knot over Alicia’s dark shoulder length hair.
“Now then,” Heidi said as she stood up, “You two will be going soon - how would you like to be when your father arrives?”
Cassie and I looked at each other and smiled...
We heard the doorbell ring and the voice of our father saying “Good Afternoon, Your Ladyship - are the girls ready?”
“I believe they are - and please, call me Lucinda,” we heard Lady Holderness say as the footsteps grew louder outside the door. “Mister Bridges, would you take the bags to Mister Craig’s car outside,” we heard her say before the door opened and Dad walked in.
“And how are my two little angels,” Dad said as he walked over and hugged each of us, running his hand over our hair as he did so. “I trust they have not been a problem, Lady Hold... Lucinda?”
“No of course not, “ Lady Holderness said as she smiled at us. “We may have had a few bumps and scrapes, but no more than usual. My grandchildren apologise for the fact they could not be here to meet you, but they have been - detained elsewhere. I hope it is still all right for them to come on Tuesday?”
“Of course it is, we will be delighted to have them,” Dad said as he looked at us. “Well then - we had better make a move. Come on - hop to it!”
Cassie and I looked at each other as we pushed ourselves onto our feet and started to jump towards the door, the ends of the rope hitting the backs of our knees as we made our way across. Heidi had tied our legs together first, then taken the rope down and tied our ankles together with the same length. She had then folded our arms behind our back so that our hands were supporting our elbows, and tied our forearms together in three places, so that although we could move them away from our back, we could not move them apart.
Our mouths were covered with a long strip of the white tape, but there was nothing underneath, so Cassie was able to say “Wvvgtalltttlluddd” as we hopped past him.
“I’m sure you have, poppet, I’m sure you have,” he said as we hopped across the hallway, heading for the open door and the car waiting outside.