A Mother's Tale
“…. And they just left us there rolling around on the floor.”
Janice put her cup down at stared at her daughter as the tears started to roll down her face.
“You must have been terrified,” she said as she reached over and lightly touched her arm. “How long were you left before the police arrived?”
“Too long, mum, too long. I don’t know how we managed to stay in one piece.”
Janice nodded, a sad look passing over her face.
“Yes, I can believe that. You see, Danni, I went through a similar experience.”
Danni looked up and stared at her mother as she sat there. “You? I don’t understand – when did you ever....”
“It was nearly forty years ago, but I sometimes wake up at night and remember it as if it was yesterday. It started when I and your Aunt Sally were visiting our grandparents, just after my eighteenth birthday……”
Janice looked out of the carriage window as it pulled into the station.
“Sit down, Jan; they’ll be waiting for us.”
“I know,” she said as she turned and looked at her sister, “but I’m excited. Imagine spending a month living with the Colonel!”
Colonel Hart was their mother’s father, and was effectively the squire of the Yorkshire village that her family came from. As the train came to a stop, the conductor called out “York!! York station!!”
Sally picked up their suitcases and opened the carriage door, with Janice jumping down after her. They stood there in their coats, looking around them when there was a soft cough.
“Miss Janice, Miss Sally? I am Meadows – your grandfather asked me to come and meet you.”
He was a tall man with greying hair and a kindly face, in his mid fifties and dressed in a dark suit with a peaked cap. Sally smiled in return.
“Yes, the Colonel said you would be here. Can you help with our cases?”
“Of course,” he said as he signalled to a waiting porter. “If you will follow me?”
The drive into the Dales took both girls by surprise. Having spent most of their life in the city, the open fields were a bit of a shock. Sally brushed back her chestnut coloured hair.
“It’s a bleak place, isn’t it?”
“Well, it is a lot brighter usually, but the weather has been a problem.” Meadows brought the car to a stop next to a line of cars.
“Good morning, constable,” he said as a policeman walked over, “What’s happening?”
“Escaped prisoners, sir,” the man said as he touched his helmet. “You work for the Colonel, don’t you? We’ll wave you through.”
As the car was allowed to proceed, Janice looked back at the line.
“There’s a prison about ten miles from here – probably just kids trying to get home. Ah, here we are….”
The car turned through a gated walkway and up a tree lined avenue to a large imposing manor house. Outside the front door stood an elderly man in a tweed suit, with another woman standing beside him.
“Janice, Sally, so good of you to come and join us. This is Mrs Wilson, my housekeeper. She’ll make sure you are made comfortable – we eat at seven.”
Over the dinner table, the Colonel regaled his granddaughters with tales of his war years and the local community. Eventually, Janice could not stop herself yawning.
“Oh, I’m sorry, my dear – you must be tired, and we have a busy day tomorrow. You had both best retire.”
Sally looked at her sister. “Why – what are we doing tomorrow?”
“A visit to Catterick race course, my dear – I think you’ll enjoy it. I trust you have brought suitable clothing?”
The two girls smiled, and stood to leave the table. Sally was the elder girl by two years, and liked to dress in the fashion of the day, while Janice preferred to dress more smartly and conservatively.
“What have you got that you can wear to a summer race meeting?” Janice asked as they climbed the staircase to their bedrooms.
“Wait and see, Jan, wait and see,” Sally said with a smile as she entered her bedroom, closing the door behind herself.
As the last light went out in the house, the two men kept low behind the hillock and looked over the land before them. The older one turned to his companion.
“We need to stay out here tomorrow tonight, but tomorrow we’ll visit the old fool and get what we need.”
“What about the girls that drove up?” The younger man said.
“We’ll deal with them – get some rest now.”
The morning sun was rising in the sky as Janice came to the breakfast table. Her dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and she was wearing a long sleeved white blouse and dark knee length skirt. Her stocking were held up by a garter belt, with the seams up the back of her legs, and her shoes were leather with short heels and straps around the back of her heels.
“Good morning, my dear,” the Colonel said as she walked in. “Have some breakfast – I think Sally is…. Mt goodness, you are quite the fashionable woman aren’t you?”
Janice turned round and looked at her sister. Sally was wearing a tan suede sleeveless dress, with a white yoke collar. A tasselled fringe ran around the edge of the collar, and there were also tasselled fringes around the waist and half way down the skirt. She was also wearing dark Mary Jane shoes.
“Well, you did say it was a day at the races – I have a hat that I’ll put on later. Now, what’s for breakfast?”
Mrs Wilson put the last of the dishes on the side table, and made her way out of the room and back towards the kitchen. As she went into the room, she noticed that the back door was ajar. This was the last thing she noticed before her neck was caught in a choke hold and she slipped into unconsciousness.
“Get a move on, Sally – Meadows is going to take us in a few minutes.”
“All right, Grandfather,” the young woman said as she walked out of the room, leaving Janice and the Colonel at the table.
“I must admit, grandfather, this is going to be an exciting day.”
“I hope so, Janice, and we had better….. What the devil are you doing here?”
“Good morning Colonel,” the older of the two men who had entered said. Both men were in jeans and blue shirts, with dark bomber jackets, and both were carrying large clubs.
“Steve, why don’t you go and see if we can find something to make the Colonel and his young friend comfortable – the garage may be of use,” the older man said. His friend smiled and walked out.
“Jenkins – you’re the escaped prisoner?”
“I am, Colonel – you sent me down for ten years, and now it’s time for payback.”
“Grandfather, who is this man…..”
“Oh, so this is your grandfather, is it?” Jenkins said with a sneer, before he walked over and grabbed Janice by the arm.
“In that case, Colonel, you do as you’re told or your young granddaughter is the one we hurt. Understand?”
“I understand, but if you dare harm a head on her hair….”
“Oh shut up, you stupid old man,” Jenkins said as he raised his cudgel and struck the Colonel over his head. He crumpled unconscious to the floor as Janice watched horrified.
“Oh god, what have you done to him?” She screamed as Steve came back in with several bundles of rope.
“You just keep quiet – we’ve dealt with the housekeeper already…”
“And the chauffer is safely asleep as well,” Steve said as he dropped the rope on the floor. “What do you want me to do, Jenkins?”
“I’m going to make sure there’s no-one else….”
“Right, I’m ready to go… what the hell?”
Sally walked in with a large floppy white hat on her head and a string of pearls around her neck, and screamed when she saw the two men and her grandfather crumpled on the floor. She was so shocked she didn’t see Steve come up behind her and grab her, muffling her screams with his hand.
“Shut up and you’ll be all right,” Jenkins said as she pulled Janice over and stood in front of Sally. “Now, are you going to behave yourself?”
Sally nodded, as she saw the fear in her sister’s eyes.
“All right – Steve, find a knife and cut that rope into lengths. You,” Jenkins said pointing at Sally, “come with me and your sister.”
He took the two girls into the next room, which the colonel used as an office. There he made Sally sit down in an old wooden swivel chair, and place her hands on her head. Steve came back with a large kitchen knife, and cut a length of about six foot of the end of one of the rope coils.
“Where’s Mrs Wilson?” Sally asked,
“Secure in the kitchen. Right, young one, put your hands behind your back.”
“Are you talking to me,” Janice said between gulps of air and her tears of fear.
“Yes, you – we can’t leave you and your sister to run around, can we? Now, put your hands behind your back and stand still.”
Sally watched as the escaped prisoner pulled her sister’s wrists together and bound them roughly together with the rope. “Please, that hurts,” she whimpered as the rope was knotted off out of reach of her fingers. As this was being done, Steve cut the remaining rope from the coil into several lengths.
“Steve, take the young lady into the morning room, and secure her there. I’ll take care of her sister.” As he said this, Jenkins took one of the lengths of rope and walked over to where Sally was sitting. As Steve took Janice out of the room, she looked over her shoulder and saw Jenkins wrap the end of one piece of rope around Sally’s left wrist.
“All right, in here,” he said as he pushed Janice into a chair and stood in front of her, wielding the knife and starting to cut the coil of rope he had brought with him.
“Please, just leave us alone – we’re not going to stop you,” she said as he dropped length after length on the floor.
“Sorry – can’t take the risk,” he said as he put the knife on a side table, before pulling Janice back onto her feet. Turning her round, he passed one of the lengths of rope around her arms behind her back and proceeded to pull her elbows together. Janice called out as the rope was pulled tighter and tighter, holding them together.
“What has my grandfather done to you?” she asked as he picked up another length of rope and passed it around her waist, securing her lower arms to her back in the process.
“He was the magistrate that sent us both to prison is what he did – we just want our fair justice. You’re unlucky enough to be in the way – now just be quiet and this will soon be over.”
Janice could hear her sister talking in the other room, and her occasional yelp of pain or fear. She was so intent on what was happening ext door she did not realise that even more rope was passed around her chest and arms until she felt them being pressed against her side, and looked down to see her breasts being made to strain against the silk of her blouse.
Steve pushed her back into the chair, and grabbing another piece of rope he knelt beside her and pulled her ankles together. A final length was passed around her legs below her knees and pulled tightly to hold them together, before Steve stood up and checked his work.
Jenkins came into the room as Steve was finishing. “Good job, Son,” he said as he looked at Janice. “Now, finish the job and join me in the dining room- we’re going to take the Colonel for a little drive.”
“Where are you tasking my grandfather – what do you think you’re doing?” Janice asked as the older man opened a number of cupboards and started to pocket some bundles of banknotes he found there.
“Best you don’t know,” Steve said as he took a device that Jenkins had handed him. IT consisted of a thick rubber ball, through the centre of which a wide leather strap had been passed. Janice looked on as he undid the strap and held the ball in front of her mouth.
“I want you to open up as wide as you can,” Steve said, and as Janice did so he pushed the rubber ball as far into her mouth as it would go. The strap was then fastened around her jaw, with the buckle against her right cheek, before she was pulled over on her side in the chair.
The two men laughed as they left Janice alone. She lay on her side, listening as they went back into the dining room and then something was dragged along the stone floor. Eventually a quiet silence fell over the house, punctuated only by low moaning from the kitchen and the office.
She wasn’t sure how long she lay there, but eventually she could make out the sound of Sally trying to call to her from the office and decided to see if she could help her. Slowly, she managed to right herself in the chair, and then with some effort managed to push herself onto her feet.
Slowly, carefully, she hopped across the floor of the dining room and out of the open door, before making her way down the corridor and finally into the office where she had left her sister.
Sally was sat in the chair, her wrists bound to the steel tubes at the chair back with rope that passed around and between both her arms. Her elbows were also bound to the metal, and rope passed around her upper body that held her securely to the padded back of the chair. Her ankles had been bound together and then secured to the seat support with more rope. She was facing the wall when Janice hopped in, but turned when she heard the sound of her feet hitting against the wooden floor. Her sister could now see the thin black tie that was tied into her mouth, and by the muffled calls Sally was making she knew some sort of cloth was being held into place by that thin band.
Janice hopped over to the corner of the table that Sally had been left next to, and looked at the wires dangling from the telephone that sat on the desk top. Grunting with despair, she straightened up and looked at her sister, who returned the look with a concerned gaze.
In the kitchen, Mrs Wilson was slowly rubbing the rope around her wrists up and down against the blade of a vegetable knife. She had managed to kick it off the wooden table after she finally came round to find her wrists and ankles bound, and a strip of plaster stuck over her mouth. Now she patiently continued the process of severing the ropes….
“It took another hour for the housekeeper to free herself and raise the alarm. Your great grandfather was later found in the car, abandoned near the racecourse. IT took some time before any of us could speak of that day again.”
Danni looked at her mother, then stood up and walked over, wrapping her arms around the older woman as she sat silently.
“I understand, mum, I understand,” she whispered as both women started crying.