An Interlude – Take Three Girls
“There now,” I said as Eddie panned the camera along the line of trussed and gagged girls. “The benchmark against which to measure the other things I wish to share with you today. How do you feel girls?”
“Mffnfnn,” Jenny said as she mumbled through her gag, Alicia nodding as well. Cassie said something like “Wnnttmrrps,” but I chose to ignore that for just a moment.
“Now, I need to tell all of you a big secret – move forward a little.” I knelt on the floor in front of the couch as the three of them sat up and looked at me.
“The thing is, when you have a willing victim like this, bound so that it is difficult to move and unable to speak clearly, it makes one thing a lot easier.”
“Hhh,” Alicia said as she looked at me, “Whstshtht?”
“To surprise them.”
“Which is our cue,” Bobby said as he, Colin and Martin jumped up from behind the couch and pulled a clean pillow case over the heads of the three volunteers.
“Whtthhhhh!!!!” I had to stop myself from laughing as Alicia screamed through her gag, before the three boys came round and helped their now blindfolded captives to stand up.
“My apologies, sis,” Bobby said as he looked at Suzie, “but we need to borrow these three for a few hours. We’ll have them back by dinner time. Come on, the car is waiting.”
Eddie was sitting down, laughing his head off as the boys made Alicia, Cassie and Jenny hop out of the room, Suzie and the younger girls watching them with their mouths open. Eventually, Suzie looked at me and said “Where are they...”
“Honestly, Cuz, I have no idea. They just asked if they could borrow them for the day, and I felt a little payback on my part was in order.
“Mind your head,” I said as I helped Cassie to sit in the back of the car, making sure she was buckled in between Alicia and Jenny. Alicia in particular was letting some choice phrases escape from under the pillowcase, as Martin and Colin sat facing them and I joined Mister Bridges in the front of the car.
“Right,” I heard Colin say as we moved off, “I hope you three are ready for an interesting day.”
“Clnhmtnlkkllu,” Jenny mumbled as she twisted her head from side to side, making me laugh as she did so. This was going to be a bit of a different day – I had something to show all of them.
“Oh my goodness,” Colin said as Mister Bridges turned into the driveway and up to the large double doors, “I never thought I would be here again so soon.”
“What is this place,” Martin said as the car stopped, and we started to untie the legs of the three girls.
“I’ll tell you once we have them inside,” I said as we helped the girls out of the car. “Now step up when I tell you,” I said to Cassie, who nodded as we walked over the gravel driveway, then up a few steps and through the doors. Our footsteps clattered on the wooden floor as we took them into a large room, and let them stand while we pulled three chairs away from the table and sat them down.
“Just a few more minutes,” I said as we took the ropes that had held their legs together, and used them to tie their front legs to the chair legs. Having done that, we stood behind them, and on a nod from me we pulled the pillow cases off their heads.
Alicia blinked and then looked around, before saying “Hmgd....”
“Whtrwdnghr,” Jenny said as she looked at Colin, while Cassie was looking out of the door to the floor at the bottom of the large double staircase.
“It’s all right,” I said as I looked at her, “the floorboards have all been replaced, and there is absolutely no danger of you falling through them at the moment – even if you could move around.”
“Sddndnhl,” Cassie said as she looked at me.
“That’s right,” I said quietly, “the workmen have finished the repairs, and they just need to complete some work on a special project outside which we’ll show you later. The three of us thought you might like a sneak peek.”
“Me especially,” Martin said as Alicia looked at him, “I wanted to see where this great hostage game took place.”
I looked at Colin, and then we both looked at Alicia. She shook her head to indicate she had not had a chance to tell him yet, so I said “Martin, about that game...”
“Yeah – what about it?”
Martin turned and looked at Alicia, before saying “You’re joking, right?” One look at Jenny and Cassie’s faces, however, was enough for him to look at me and say “Oh dear God – they really were held hostage?”
“Yeah,” Colin said as he rubbed the back of his head. “Perhaps we had better start at the beginning...”
Twenty minutes later, Martin knelt in front of Alicia and said “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Hvtnhdchnsyt,” she mumbled as she looked at him, before he reached up and gently pulled away the plaster from her mouth, and then eased the cloth out of her mouth.
“Do you have any idea how scared I was,” she said as I and Colin removed the gags from the other two. “The last time I took a car ride unable to speak, see or see was...”
“When we came here last time,” Jenny said as she licked her lips. “Mind you, the decorators have done a good job in this room – Light blue makes it look roomier.”
“My girlfriend the interior decorator,” Colin said, which at least made us all laugh. “Look, let’s untie your arms,” I said as I moved behind Cassie, “and then I’ll go and get us some cold drinks. I think the fridge should be up and running by now.”
“So you’re keeping the old dining table,” Jenny said as she looked at it.
“Yeah – what of the furniture could be kept, we’re keeping, and adding our own to it when we move in. When Mum visited here last week, she at least had to admit much of the stuff was in good condition.”
“That must have been an experience,” Alicia said as she rubbed her wrists, “so what does Suzie think?”
“She hasn’t seen it yet – truth to tell, this is the first time we’ve been back as well. Still, I like what I see.”
“Yeah,” Cassie said as she looked round, “It does look better. Still, can I ask a question?”
“Whose idea was it to kidnap the three of us?”
I looked at Martin, who blushed and said “Well, actually...”
“Oh I am so going to have words with you,” Alicia said, but she at least smiled while she said it. “So now we’re here, what are we going to do?”
“Have that drink first,” I said as I left them for a moment, and made my way through to the kitchen. When I got there, I was surprised to see Mister Bridges there, talking to a younger couple. They looked as if they were the same age as Mum and Dad – the woman was wearing a dark blue blouse over a light blue jumper, a knee length blue skirt and black leather boots, while the man was dressed in an open necked shirt and dark slacks. They both had light brown hair; the woman’s coming down to her shoulders while the man’s was cut short.
“Well, your references certainly are impressive,” I heard Mister Bridges say, “and... Oh, hello Master Robert, can I help you with anything?”
“I’m just getting some drinks for us,” I said as I went to the refrigerator. “Hi – I’m Bobby Holderness.”
“A pleasure to meet you Bobby,” the man said as he looked at me. “I take it you’re the oldest son?”
“That’s right,” I said as I looked at them. Mister Bridges coughed and said “This is Mister and Mrs Boyle, Master Robert. They are applying for the position of live-in housekeeper and maintenance man here.”
I stood still for a moment, then looked at them and said “What does Mum have to say about that? No offence to you, but...”
“She is open to the idea of some help to keep this new home in a good condition,” Mister Bridges said quietly, “and I suspect you will appreciate it as well. I was about to say to them that everything seems in order, but it occurs to me we probably should do one last thing before we come to an agreement on terms.”
“Oh,” Mister Boyle said, “What’s that?”
“I believe you need to be made aware of the games the family like to play, particularly the younger ones. I presume you are in the dining room, Master Robert?”
“Yes,” I said cautiously, “Why?”
“Will you come with us, please,” Mister Bridges said as he stood up and took the drinks I had removed from the fridge with me, Mister and Mrs Boyle following behind him. I gulped, and then followed them to the dining room.
“Hey Bobby, have you...” I heard Colin call out as I followed them in, Mister and Mrs Boyle looking at our three guests.
“Allow me to make the introductions,” Mister Bridges said as he set the drinks down. “This is Colin Hampton and Martin Davies, while the young ladies are Alicia Bowden, Robert’s cousin, and Jennifer and Cassandra Craig. Ladies, Gentlemen, May I introduce Mister and Mrs Boyle.”
“Er – hi,” Alicia said as she looked at the young couple. “You’re probably wondering why we’re tied to the chair – well, there’s a perfectly sensible explanation...”
“You play tie-up games, don’t you?”
We all turned and looked at them, as Mrs Boyle said “It’s all right – I used to play them with my brothers all the time, and I’m used to seeing my friends end up the same way. Isn’t that right Abe?”
“It is, Becky,” Mister Boyle said with a smile. “So if you’re worried we might tell anyone don’t be.”
“Well,” Mister Bridges said, “I think that is everything. I am authorised by Lord Holderness and Mister Alexander to offer you the position if you wish to take it.”
“We’d love to,” Mrs Boyle said, “Do you agree Abe?”
Mister Boyle nodded as Mister Bridges said “Very well then – if we can return to the kitchen, I will explain the terms of the offer.”
“Nice to meet you all,” Mrs Boyle said as she smiled, and then followed her husband out of the room with Mister Bridges. “What just happened,” Cassie said as she looked at me.
“I think you just met our equivalent of Mister and Mrs Bridges,” I said as I handed a can of drink to the girls, and then the three of us took one. “That was – unexpected.”
“Come on Bobby,” Alicia said after she had taken a drink, “Do you honestly think Aunt Susan could look after a place like this on her own?”
“She’d try,” I said with a smile, “but you’re right – and least they won’t be taken aback by our games. Right – drink up, and then I’m taking you on the grand tour.”
“Like this,” Alicia said as she looked at her arms and legs, “it’s a bit too close to...”
“No, we’ll untie you for this part,” Martin said with a smile, “but no promises about what might happen later.”
“Why didn’t you bring Suzie,” Cassie said as I started to untie her.
“No Brian is the short answer to that,” Colin said as he looked over from Jenny’s feet, “we felt it would be a little unfair. Besides, Bobby’s dad wants her to stay away from here until it is time to move in.”
“Hang on,” Alicia said as she looked at her cousin, stretching her legs out as she did so, “We only found out about this on Saturday. When did you know?”
“Not saying,” Bobby said as he stood up, “But we changed our plans for today fairly recently. Dad thought it would take a lot longer than it did to renovate the house, and the workmen are taking today off.”
“Very convenient,” Cassie said as she jumped up and hugged me. “So, what about the rest of the house?”
“Come on – I’ll show you. We’ve got the dining room here, which is big enough to hold a party in as well, and I’m sure you remember the toilet.”
“Don’t remind me,” Jenny said as we walked into the hallway, Cassie treading very carefully on the floorboards as she did so. “Over there,” I said as I pointed to a door by that which led to the dining room, “is where Dad is planning to put his office, while through the kitchen there’s a utility room. Meanwhile, on this side, I think you remember this room.”
“How could we forget,” Alicia said as we walked into the large room, the television set still sitting at one side. “We spent most of our day in here, especially on the Sunday.”
“Well, this is going to be our day room, for want of a better word,” I said as I looked around. “I guess we’re going to spend quite a bit of time in here as well. Meanwhile...”
I opened a set of double doors to reveal a smaller room, with large windows that looked out onto the lawn at the back of the house. “Wow,” Cassie said as she looked out, “we never saw the grounds – well I didn’t at any rate. They look almost as big as the lawn at the manor house – how far back does the estate go?”
“I’m not quite sure,” Colin said as he looked out with Jenny. “Where did we watch the house from again, Bobby?”
I looked out of the window, and then said “I think we were there – under that large Oak tree in the centre of the tree line. Not that we could see anything, of course...”
“True – curtains nailed up and all that,” Alicia said as she hugged Martin. “So, is this going to be the equivalent of the library?”
“That’s Dad’s plan – the computer and game consoles will go in here, and those double doors open out if our parents feel they need to keep a really close eye on us. Not that they really need to, but...”
“Got it,” Colin said with a smile. “They could always make sure Suzie was kept out of the way while...”
I saw Cassie looking out onto the lawn. “Hey,” she said quietly, “what’s all that wood for?”
We all looked out at a pile of wooden planks, covered by a tarpaulin on the ground. “I’ll show you later,” I said with a smile as I walked to the door. “Want to see upstairs?”
We all walked out and up one side of the double staircase, the ones the girls told us they had jumped up and down so often for those two days, and found ourselves on the top landing.
“I don’t remember that wall being there,” Jenny said as we looked to the left, and saw a new wall had been built there, with a door boasting a strong lock in it.
“Ah yes,” I said with a smile, “Well, that side of the upper floor has been reserved for – well, I guess for the Boyles now. Four of the bedrooms and one of the bathrooms have been converted into a live-in flat, with their own sitting room and kitchen. We’re going to be sleeping on the other side.”
We walked down the corridor and looked at the doors on either side. “You know the bathroom is here, of course.” I saw the three girls roll their eyes at that comment, before saying “I’m going to sleep in this room, and Suzie gets the one opposite. Mum and Dad, naturally enough, get the one with the built-in bedroom. The other three are guest rooms for the moment.”
We looked in the room I was taking, as Cassie said “Hey – this is the one Patty and Rachel slept in. Suzie and I were opposite there, and Mum was in the big bedroom.”
“Alicia and I were in here,” Jenny said as she opened the door opposite the master bedroom, looking in and saying “I see you’ve redecorated. I like it.”
“All the rooms have been given a lick of paint, the floorboards fixed,” I said as I winked at Cassie, “and made ship shape and Bristol fashion.”
“You’ve been talking to your dad about shipping again, haven’t you,” Colin said as we walked back down the stairs. I nodded and said “now, let’s go and have a look at the part of the Hall you did not see before.”
As we walked into the hallway, I saw Mister Bridges escorting the Boyles out, saying “If you call at Holderness Manor tomorrow, I will tell his Lordship to expect you.” Waving them off, he turned and saw us standing on the stairs.
“I will place the picnic lunch we have brought with us in the playhouse, Master Robert,” he said with a smile as he looked at us.
“Playhouse? What’s that?”
“You’ll see Cassie,” I said as I opened the front door. “Right now, let me show you the gardens.” We walked out of the front door, turned right and walked round the side of the building, Alicia smiling as she looked out over the green lawn.
“Well, plenty of room for the younger ones to run round,” she said as she held Martin’s arm, “so what about the woods?”
“Come with me,” Colin said as he turned left and followed a path into the woods. As we followed him, the autumn sun shined down through the leaves, a brown tinge in the air as we walked round.
“The grounds go about a mile in each direction,” Colin said as we walked down the path. “When this was a Cub Scout house, we used to go for walks in the woods – and there used to be rope bridges and all sorts of other climbing things in the trees.”
“Not there anymore?”
“Nah – health and safety rules took over. I think that’s why they closed it down in the end – too big and not enough to – ah, here it is.”
We had walked into a glade, which had a small pond in the middle of it, with some wooden benches around the sides. “This,” I said with a flourish, “is Wissenden Lake.”
“Very nice,” Cassie said as she walked round it, “but no room for a mausoleum.”
“That stays right where it is,” I said with a smile. “This was where we used to have camp fires and the like – you can still see the stone circle over there – but now – well, I guess it’s our very own wildlife spot.”
“I like it,” Cassie said as she sat down on a bench, Jenny sitting next to her. “Although it probably gets dark very quickly at night-time.”
“I seem to remember we needed torches occasionally,” Colin said as he looked at me. Martin was looking over the pond, humming a little song to himself as Alicia stood with him.
“What’s that song,” I said as I looked at him.
“Hmmm – oh a bit of Benjamin Britten,” he said as he looked at me, and then hugged himself. “It’s getting colder, shall we go back to the house?”
“Is it? Well, let’s go anyway,” I said as Cassie and Jenny stood up. “We can take the path this way, it brings us out at the other side of the lawn.”
We set off along the other path, hearing the birds singing as we did so, the sunlight still shining down through the leaves. As we came out onto the bottom of the lawn, we saw the hall framed in the noonday sun.
“Well, I’m not going to deny it is a beautiful set of grounds,” Alicia said as we walked up the lawn, “and there’s certainly plenty to see. What I don’t understand is what the playhouse is – is it a new outbuilding on the other side of the hall which we have not seen yet?”
“Well, I guess you could call it a new outbuilding,” I said with a smile, “but it’s not on the other side of the hall – it is over there.”
I stopped and looked at the line of tress that led up to the house, the others staring in the same direction.
“I don’t see anything,” Jenny said as she looked at Colin, “do you?”
“Nope – so is it hidden in the trees,” Colin said as he looked into the shade.
“Oh it’s hidden in the trees all right,” I said as I pointed in the same direction, “but you need to look to a higher place.”
The five of them looked up, as Cassie said “Oh my goodness – that’s the playhouse?”
“Well, it will be when it is finished,” I said with a sense of pride. They could now see the dark wood staircase that went from the grass up into the trees. As we walked over, the others could now see that the stairs went up to a trap door that sat in the middle of a large wooden platform.
“Come on up,” I said as I climbed up the stairs, pushing the trap door open and holding it as the others climbed up. As they came up, we stood in what actually was a small hallway, with three doors, two at either side of us and a third behind me.
“This is Mum and Dad’s idea, and the main reason we could not bring Suzie with us,” I said as I closed the trap door. “When they saw the woods, and how close they came to the house, they thought she might like a place of her own to bring her friends.”
“Wow,” Cassie said as she looked up, “so the wood that is under the tarpaulin?”
“That’s for the roof,” I said as we looked up into the trees above us. “Now, there is a toilet through that door there, while on the left is our play area.”
I opened that door and showed everyone in. The room was large, but bare at this stage.
“Once the roof is in place, we’ll put some beanbags and other chairs in here, and store some of our toys in here as well,” I said with a flourish. “I think the electricity will be connected up by the time we get here, so we can even watch some DVDs up here – and even if it is not, then we can bring a portable player up here.”
“So what’s in the other room?”
“Come and have a look,” I said as we left that room and walked to the other side. Opening the door, I said “They’ve already roofed this part,” I said as we went in, and found a number of bean bags had already been put into the room. “And I see they now have the windows fixed in. So even if it rains, we can have lunch in here.”
I could see the picnic blanket laid out on the floor, with the wicker basket to one side. Mister Bridges had laid out some plates and cups, while a selection of cold meats, pies and other food were on plates.
“Heh – reminds me of that time you and Colin took me and Jenny to the woods,” Cassie said as she sat herself down on a bean bag, her skirt spreading over her legs as she did so.
“Yeah – you never told me the full story of that date,” Alicia said as she settled in a bag of her own, “You really took them both to the cinema, bound and gagged, and nobody noticed?”
“Well, that’s not quite true,” Cassie said with a smile, “Two people did notice us, right?”
“That’s right – we were spotted, but they were sworn to secrecy,” Jenny said with a smile. “Can I have a chicken leg please?”
“Of course,” Colin said as he put one on a plate with some rice salad and handed it to her, “and would Mademoiselle care for some carbonated drink as well?”
“Why thank you kind sire, I will have some of the delicious Coca Cola,” she said with a smile as Colin handed her a glass, and I gave Cassie a plate of food.
“So what exactly happened that day,” Alicia said as she sat with Martin.
“Well, we took them up to the picnic spot first.”
“The one up on the other side of the estate? It’s years since I have been up there – now that Andrew is starting to walk, we may go there a bit more often. Then you went to the cinema, then back to the manor house.”
“Where we had dinner and danced,” Colin said as he gave Jenny some more food. “Quite a day, all told.”
“Makes you wish we had been going out at the time – perhaps we could have joined them,” Alicia said as she nudged Martin.
“Nah – I hate those animated films,” Martin said with a smile, “now a musical...”
He feel backwards from the push that Alicia gave him, making all of us laugh as we continued to eat and drink. Once the food was finished, I started to help Cassie and Jenny pack the food away as Martin put his arms round Alicia and hugged her.
“Hey,” he said, “can you guess what we’re going to do next?”
“Treat the three of us like a lady and make us feel special?”
“Something like that,” he said as he made Alicia lie on the wooden floor, and crossed her wrists behind her back, taking some rope from Colin and binding them tightly together.
“Hey,” she said as she looked over her shoulder and laughed, “I don’t even get the chance to go to the toilet first?”
“OF course you do,” I said as I grabbed Cassie and lifted her off her feet, “do you need to go?”
“Yeah I do – Jenny, I’m going to need your help.”
Jenny shook her head and said “Come on – you say the plumbing’s finished in here, Bobby?”
“Should be,” I said as they walked out of the room for a minute, while I plopped Cassie on a bean bag and pulled her arms behind her back. She pretended to resist as I crossed and tied her wrists tightly together, and then passed some rope around her waist to keep them locked in place.
“All right,” Alicia said as she came back in, and stood with her back to Martin, “You may continue, you fiend you.”
“”How sensible of you,” Martin said before he did a damned good impression of an evil cartoon villain, cackling as he tied the rope around Alicia’s waist, while Colin started to get to work on Jenny.
“A brilliant plan,” I said to Martin as I picked up some rope and tied Cassie’s arms to her sides below her elbows, “to capture all three daughters of the scientist at the same time, and then demand the secrets of their research for their release!”
“OH NO!” Jenny called out in mock horror, “it was all a clever, clever trap!! Let us go, you fiends!!!”
“Never,” Colin cackled as he tied her arms to her sides, and then wrapped another length around her upper arms, to make sure they could not be moved, “we’re going to make sure you cannot move or raise the alarm.”
“Oh no,” Alicia said and then she called out “HELP!!!! SOMEBODY HELP MMMMMMGGGGGG!!!!”
Her calls were stifled by the cloth that Martin had pushed into her mouth, before he took a knotted length of cloth and pulled it between her lips as well, gagging her quite effectively for the moment as we played catch up with Cassie and Jenny. Soon all three had their upper bodies tied and their mouths gagged.
“Ufrtgsmfn,” Cassie said as we stood and looked at them.
“Oh,” Martin said as he lifted her chin up, “and what did we forget?”
She looked at the other two, then wriggled her arms and body around and said “cnsttlmfmrms.”
We looked at each other, as Alicia and Jenny looked at Cassie, before Jenny said “Ksseeermbrmm.”
“Bttsntthsm,” she said as she looked at them then at us. “What is she taking about,” Martin said as he checked the tightness of the ropes around her shoulders.
“I think my little victim is wanting the extra security of another band of rope, don’t you,” I said as I looked at Cassie. She nodded as Alicia and Jenny both shook their heads.
“I don’t know,” Colin said as he looked at them, “I’m not sure that is a good idea. After all, they may not like that.”
Now I really could see the indecision in their faces. I had to admit, they did seem to have liked that extra band of the previous days, but the voice of Aunt Anne the other night was still ringing in my ears.
“What harm can it do,” Colin eventually said. Well, that kind of sealed it for me, so we each picked up a length of rope and tied it around their arms and upper body, below their chest, then used two smaller lengths to tighten it.
“Hmmgddd,” Alicia said as Martin tightened the band under her chest, and as I looked over Martin whispered “Sorry” as he put his hands on her shoulders. She nodded, and I could see she was blushing as well as we walked into a corner.
“What happened,” Colin asked Martin as we watched.
“It was funny, I was tying the rope under her arm, and the back of my hand happened to brush over her top. I heard her gasp slightly, and then she blushed, so I apologised, but I’m not sure what it was I was apologising for.”
I looked at the three of them, as they wriggled round, the ropes rubbing them, and suddenly I realised just what all those warnings from Aunt Anne, Mum and Mrs Craig had been about.
“Ah,” I said quietly, “I think we need to agree not to say anything about this when we get back, all right?”
Colin must have realised as well, as we looked at Martin and said “You really do not get it, do you?”
Martin looked at us, and then the light of realisation dawned in his eyes as well. “Oh... OH,” he said before turning round, to see the three of them creeping towards the door.
“Oh no you don’t,” Martin said as we walked over and guided them back, “I see we need to keep them better secured. Find some more rope and we’ll tie their legs as well – and we’d better keep them really quiet as well.”
I could see the grin on Cassie’s mouth as I crossed her ankles and tied them tightly together with the rope, and then her legs below her knees, folding her skirt back down to cover the cinched band when I was finished. I could see Colin and Martin has also bound the legs of their captives, before I realised something.
“Damn – we only have duct tape up here. Can you two keep an eye on them for five minutes – I need to go and get something from the main house.”
“Don’t worry,” Colin said as he and Martin stood either side of the door, “they won’t go anywhere.” I nodded and then went down the stairs, and into the main house. Heading for the dining room, I found a bag we had brought with us, and took out three scarves – one black, one white and one green. Smiling, I put them in my pocket and then headed back.
“Now then,” I said as I rejoined the others, and handed Martin the black scarf, Colin the green one and I kept the white one, “We’ll use these to cover their hair. Don’t want to ruin their lovely hairstyles, now do we?”
“Scnssdrrt.” Jenny mumbled with a laugh as Colin folded the scarf in half along the diagonal and then tied it over her hair, before he tore the end of the roll of duct tape free and wound it round her head, keeping her even more quiet before he handed the roll of tape to Colin, then it came to me.
“There,” I said a is tore the tape free and smoothed it down over the white scarf covering Cassie’s hair. “Now we need to test how good these gags are – by the traditional method.”
“Hnnndnnthhahaahhhhhhh” Alicia said as Martin started to tickle her ribs, making her squirm round as he did so. Jenny and Cassie looked at each other, but could not move fast enough to escape the two of us as we started to tickle them.
“They seem to be working,” Martin said as Alicia fell forward onto her stomach, allowing him to pull her ankles back and secure them to the rope around her stomach. We did the same to the other two, before saying “Right – we need to go and deliver the ransom demand. You three can stay here and wait for our return.”
Cassie turned and looked at me, mumbling “yfnd” as we walked out of the room and closed the door.
“So how long are we going to leave them,” Martin said as we went into the room on the other side.
“Oh I don’t know,” I said with a smile, “about as long as it takes them to notice I left a pair of scissors within their reach...”
“You did what,” Martin said as he looked at me.
“Hey – evil despots make mistakes from time to time. The trick is to see whether or not they notice,” I said for a smile as I looked out of the open hole in the wall. “If they are playing at hostages, then sometimes you need to give them a way out.”
I could see Colin looking out over the house, a funny look on his face.
“Penny for them?”
“I was just thinking about that weekend,” Colin said as he looked back at me. “Who would have thought it would lead to you coming to live out here?”
I looked at the house and nodded as well. “Yeah – it is a funny turn around, isn’t it? The last thing I ever expected would happen was to end up living in a house like this.”
“So says the future Lord Holderness, who will live at Holderness Manor,” Martin said as he looked at us. “I mean it’s not as big as there, but still....”
“Hey,” Colin said as he looked over at the house, “Is that a skylight? Does that mean there is an attic as well?”
“Must be – but I’ve never been up there. Want to explore it?”
I turned to see Alicia in the doorway, Jenny and Cassie following her. They still had their arms bound to their sides, and their mouths covered in tape, but their legs were free of ropes.
“But of course, my guests,” Martin said as he stepped forward, “I would not dream of leaving three such lovely escape artists where I could not see them. Robert – lead the way.”
“Yes, master,” I said with a smile as I took Cassie by the arm and walked her down the stairs, the others following as we crossed the lawn and walked back into the house. As we got to the staircase, I saw Mister Bridges coming out of the kitchen.
“Ah – I see you are all having fun, Master Robert,” he said with a smile.
“Mister Bridges, how do you get to the attic?”
He stood in thought for a moment, before saying “There is an entrance door at the end of the corridor, but I do not believe your father – or indeed, anyone – has been up there.”
“Well, first time for everything – let’s go,” I said as we walked up the stairs and to the end of the corridor. Sure enough, there was an old oak door, with a handle, and as I turned it opened to a staircase going up.
“Just like the manor house,” I said as I led the way up, the girls following with Martin and Colin bringing up the rear. As I opened the door at the top of the staircase, I could see the dust rising and falling in the air because of the air that was going in.
“Wow,” Martin said as he came in, “how long has it been since somebody came up here?”
“I’m not sure,” I said as I looked round, “but some time.” There were a number of crates and boxes lying on the floor, as well as a couple of old armchairs and a small couch. Colin walked over and wiped some of the dust off, before the three girls went over and sat down.
“Hwssfsst,” Cassie said as she looked at the floorboards.
“I think so,” I said as I jumped on the boards, and didn’t hear any creaks or squeaks. “Still, I’ll see if Dad can get the men up to check – especially as they need to put a dividing wall in.”
I looked at Martin, then along the room to the stone wall on the other side. “It goes all the way over – including the rooms the Boyles will be using. I don’t want to be the cause of any trouble.”
“Fair point,” Colin said as he looked out of the window. Jenny looked at him and me, and then said “Cnnwhfggsffpls?”
“You want the gags removed?”
They all nodded as we stood behind them and took turns with a pair of scissors, which I had brought with me, carefully cutting and then removing the tape before pulling the scarves down as that the point of the triangle fell down their backs.
As I eased the knotted towelling from Cassie’s mouth, and took the cloth out, she licked her lips and then said “It’s like a dark dungeon in a way, isn’t it?”
“I guess so,” Jenny said as she coughed a little from the dust, “but it’s still interesting. Any idea what’s in the crates?”
“Nonewhatsoever,” I said as I walked over to one of them, “I don’t remember us even being able to get up here before.” I lifted the lid of one of them, and looked in.
“Looks like a collection of Scouting Magazine,” I said as I took a copy out and looked at it, “dating from the 1950’s by the look of it. There’s something in here about a visit by the Duke of Edinburgh to a troop in Wycombe.”
Martin went over to another crate and looked inside. “My goodness,” he said as he looked in, “Colin, can you give me a hand with this?”
“What is it,” Colin said as I watched him walk over, and then lift out an old record player, with a handle on the side.
“I’ve only seen these in museums before,” he said as he set it down on top of the crate, after Colin had placed a lid on it, “I wonder if it still works?”
“What is it,” I said as I looked at it, “it looks like the player on the top of our music centre, but we never use it now.”
“Your loss,” Martin said with a smile, as the girls came over and had a look. “I think the music sounds better on a record than on a CD or a tape.”
“Tape? What’s tape?”
Martin looked at Cassie for a minute, before saying “anyway, they used to sell these wind up gramophones. If you wound it up enough, there was sufficient time for you to play four or five singles. It even has a 78 rpm setting for really old records.” He looked round the attic, and spotted an old, battered brown trunk.
“Give me a hand to open this,” he said as I lifted it up, and we released the catches. Inside we saw a collection of six inch square cardboard and paper envelopes, and as Martin took them out he gave a low whistle.
“Wow – some of these are really old,” he said as he looked at them. Alicia looked over his shoulder at one and said “Cliff Richards – Move It? Come on, he’s still around today.”
“One of the few,” Martin said, before he suddenly turned and kissed Alicia, taking her completely by surprise. “Whhhhh What was that for,” she said with a blush as he stepped back.
“For being you,” he said with a smile, before taking a handkerchief from his pocket and wiping down a needle that was fixed to an arm on the device. He then wiped the black turntable, before slipping some sort of disc out of the envelope and putting it on, then winding the handle at the side.
“Let’s see if it works,” he said as he flipped a switch, the disc spinning as he gently lowered the needle on the spinning plastic...
Come on pretty baby, let’s a-move it and a-groove it,
Well shake it shake it shake it honey, please don’t lose it...
It sounded crackly, and really funny, but Alicia was delighted as she said “Wow – it really does work. What else do we have in there?”
“Let’s see,” Colin said as he looked in, “Quite a few fifties pop songs here – some jazz – even the odd comedy record or two. Martin, you ever heard of someone called Spike Jones?”
“And his City Slickers?”
Colin nodded as he handed the record to Martin. “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of this one,” he said as he put it on, and the most amazing sounds came out. Looking at the card it had come from, I saw it was called “Cocktails for Two” but it was really just a riot of noise and laughter.
“Is there anything we can dance to,” Cassie said, so Martin looked through the cartons, taking four or five out and stacking them on the little metal rod that stuck up from the turntable, before he wound it up again.
“Before we start, though,” I said as I took three lengths of cord from my pocket, “We’ll tie your knees together. That way you can walk a bit, but still feel secure as you dance around.”
“Sounds good,” Jenny said as we tied their legs below their knees, and then Martin started the music. They then started dancing round, the dust rising with their skirts as they jumped in time to the music as we watched.
Martin had picked an old Elvis Presley record, then one by a band called The Animals, which made Alicia laugh at the sound.
The last record, however, as a lot slower, so we took them by the arms and danced from side to side with them, looking into their eyes as we did so.
“Do you think,” Cassie started to say, and then paused as she looked at me.
“Do you think one day, when we’re older, we’ll still dance like this?”
“I hope so,” I said as I gave her a hug, and then looked at her, before giving her a quick kiss.
“Oh,” I heard Jenny and Alicia both so, and glancing to the side I could see we were all kissing them at the same time...
“Oh yeah, very surprised,” she said as she looked at him, “but I liked it. Can we do it again?”
“Hey,” Jenny said as she looked up in the rafters, “What is that?”
We all looked up to see a small shield shaped object hanging at the junction of the wooden roof supports. Colin pulled a box over, stood up and lifted it down.
“Looks like a coat of arms – maybe this was the family that built the house in the first place?”
“What do you know about them,” Cassie asked me as I looked at the wooden design.
“Not a lot – I know this was built in Georgian times, but what came before that, I’m not sure. Do you think your Aunt Connie might be able to find out?”
“We can ask her,” Jenny said as Colin picked up a sheet and wrapped the wooden thing in it. “Any chance of another drink?”
“Come on,” I said as I opened the door, “Let’s go back down to the kitchen and see what we can find.”
We walked back down the stairs and into the kitchen, the girls sitting at a breakfast bar as I looked in the large refrigerator. “We have some milk,” I said as I took a carton out, “Colin, there should be some plastic glasses in the cupboard there.”
“Got them,” Colin said as I poured six glasses out, and passed them round.
“Ahem,” Cassie said as she looked at me, “Forgetting something?”
Actually I had – I had forgotten their arms were still tied. “Do you want to be untied,” I asked, getting three shakes of the heads as a reply, so I rummaged through the drawers, found three straws and put one in each of their glasses.
“That’s better,” Alicia said as she started to sip her drink, the others following suit as we sat and drank for ourselves.
“Ah there you are, Master Robert,” Mister Bridges said as he came in, “I need to remind you that the film starts in forty five minutes.”
“Oh yeah – I got tickets for the Cineworld at Wycombe to see a film. Mind you…”
“That sounds good,” Jenny said, and then she suddenly pursed her lips. “Hang on, last time you took us to the cinema…”
Her words were cut off as Colin kissed her again, and then stuffed a folded cloth into her mouth, before sealing her lips with a length of clear tape. “No bound arms this time, but your legs can stay secured,” he said with a smile as Alicia looked on.
“Oh no, Martin, you are not mmmmg” Alicia said as she had a cloth pushed into her mouth, and then her lips sealed as well, while I gave Connie another quick kiss before gagging her.
“Nffrfflmwftfd,” Connie said as she shook her head, but waited until I had untied her before she flung her arms round my neck, and gave me a taped peck on my cheek.
“Whtrwgnngtssnyw,” Alicia said as she looked at Martin.
“Oh you’ll see soon enough,” he said as we escorted them out to the car, Mister Bridges waiting until we all got in. “After all, you’ll have to walk through the shopping area from the car park to the cinema.”
“WHHTTTT” the three girls said, but ti was too late…
The Cineworld cinema at High Wycombe sit sin a shopping area known as the Eden Centre, and there is no specific car park – you have to park in the main one and then walk to the entrance. Mister Bridges parked as close as he could, but we still had to walk past House of Frazer and some other stores to get in.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Cassie looking so nervous, shooting glances from side to side with every step just in case they found someone she knew. WE made it safely in, however, and up the long escalator, into the cinema and into the screen.
As the film started, Cassie snuggled her head against me, as I put my arm round her shoulder…
The looks of the girls said it all – we had enjoyed the film a little more than them, I suspect, but as we returned to the Manor House I felt it had been a good day.
Reaching over, I peeled away the tape from Cassie’s mouth and took the cloth out. “Thor? You took us to see Thor?”
“Well, we’ll make ti up to you,” Colin said with a smile, “we still have that show which Bobby needs to pay for – remember the bet?”
“OH yeah – I have to get those tickets sorted out – right after I wear the Shirt of Hurt.”
Martin had to laugh at that. “Maybe you should use it to raise money for charity – get people to sponsor you to wear it at the Gallowgate end that day?”
“Not a bad idea,” I said as the car pulled up the driveway, “I’ll get a sponsor form together.”
As we walked into the house, we could hear talking in the library, so Alicia and Martin went to see who was there.
“Are you going to tell them about the ropes,” Martin said as Alicia put her hand on the door handle. She looked at him, and then said “No – not this time. Come on Martin – just this once I’ll forgive you, but next time...”
Alicia looked into the room, Martin looking over her shoulder. The girls had put their scarves back on to keep their heads warm, so she said “Oh – hi Mum,” as she removed the black scarf. “We’ve...”
“Just got back, I know,” I heard Aunt Anne say, “You can tell me all about it later. Right now, the six of you need to go and clean-up for dinner.”
“Gotcha,” Alicia said, as they turned and closed the door behind themselves. “Come on,” she said quietly, “We need to wash for dinner.”
“Who’s in there,” Jenny asked.
“Mum, your mum and your Aunt Cassie,” Alicia said as we went to the stairs.
“Good – I want to see the twins,” Cassie said as we walked up. I nodded – a good day, but time with family was just as important.
Especially when you’re going to a new home…..