The Great Marvolo
Author's Note: Thanks to Jennifer Harrison for her assistance, and for letting me read her great-great grandmother's diary.I was immensely relieved that she did not think I was guilty, and even more gratified by the greeting and signature lines.
When I heard the Inspector say, "You are under arrest" I was momentarily shocked into immobility. Then I jumped to my feet, but before I could move the policeman pulled my arms behind my back and the Inspector locked handcuffs on my wrists. As I was dragged to the door I shouted, "I'm innocent! You must believe that, Lady Agnes!" Then I was hustled outside and down the corridor. If she replied I did not hear her.
Each policeman took an arm and they hurried me down the stairs and through the lobby. With my hands locked behind my back I could not pick up my skirt. I tripped on it several times, and if the policemen had not been holding my arms I would have fallen on my face. People turned to stare at us and I was totally humiliated. I was crying now and the tears ran unhindered down my face. It was worse in the street, for it was crowded with morning shoppers. I was actually relieved when we reached the police station.
I was placed in a holding cell and there I remained for several hours. My wrists were still handcuffed behind my back, and they ached. These weren't the usual kind of handcuffs, with a chain between the bracelets, they had a swivel of some sort, and kept my hands close together. Eventually a policeman took me to another room where Inspector Braun and a clerk were waiting. He removed his handcuffs and I was finally able to wipe my tear-stained face.
The interview started easily enough. I was asked to state my name, age, address, and occupation, how long I had been in Gorhalt, and various other routine questions. The clerk wrote all of this down in a large ledger.
Then things got ugly. Inspector Braun snarled, "Well, are you ready to confess? It will go much easier for you."
"I have nothing to confess! I am innocent! I did not steal those jewels! This is all a terrible mistake, and I want to see the British consul."
"There is no British consul here." He paused, a thoughtful look on his face. "If you were German I might try to persuade you to confess. But a confession isn't necessary, as the evidence against you is overwhelming. I have other cases to solve, so I won't waste any more time with you." He turned to the policeman. "Take her to the woman's jail."
The clerk filled out a form and gave it to the policeman, who put it inside his hat before he handcuffed my hands behind my back. Then we were moving down a long corridor, the policeman's hand tight on my upper arm. We paused while he unlocked an iron door, and then we were moving across a stone-paved courtyard toward another iron door in a stone building. He pounded on this door, a peephole opened, and then the door was unlocked and partly opened by a hard-looking blonde woman wearing a dress the same gray color as the policeman's uniform.
"What's this?" she asked.
"Prisoner awaiting trial." The policeman took the form out of his hat and gave it to the woman.
She glanced at it, then opened the door, grabbed my arm and pulled me inside. Before she could close the door the policeman yelled, "Hey! I want my cuffs!"
"Come back in an hour." The woman slammed and locked the door. She led me into a corridor and then into another room. This room had bare stone walls, a stone floor, and a small heavily barred window looking out over the courtyard. It was furnished with several straight chairs, a sturdy table, iron-fronted cabinets, and a massive black-haired woman. She, and the women who brought me here, must have been chosen for their size and strength, for each was at least six inches taller and fifty pounds heavier than I.
Blondie removed the handcuffs from my sore wrists. "Now, Fräuleinchen, let's get you checked into our hotel. You're not going to give us any trouble, are you?" She took a heavy strap from the table and ran it through her fingers.
By now I was terrified, and I shook my head violently.
"That's good. Now strip. To your skin. And if you want to keep that skin unmarked, do it fast."
All thoughts of modesty had vanished in the face of the terror I felt. I disrobed as fast as I could, piling my clothes on the table. I wasn't wearing my corset, so I was able to undress without help.
Once I was naked Blondie said, "Open your mouth." She looked inside my mouth. "Now bend over and put your face and arms on the table."
I didn't know what this was for, but I did as she told me. Then I felt a finger exploring my nether passage, and I was so shocked that I straightened up. She immediately struck my bottom with the strap, a blow so painful that I could only gasp.
Blondie yanked my hair and banged my head against the table. "Hold still, bitch!" She emphasized her remark with another blow from the strap. Now her fingers explored my vagina, taking longer than I thought was really necessary. Finally she finished, and I was allowed to stand up.
The other woman tossed me a dress, and I scrambled to get into it. It was made of worn cotton, unbleached, and it was nothing more than a long sack with holes cut out for my head and arms. It extended to just below my knees, and Häftling, German for 'prisoner', was stenciled in black on the front and back. When I had it on Blondie gave me a pair of felt slippers and I stepped into them. No other clothing was forthcoming.
Blondie took leg irons from a rack on the wall and locked them on me. My fears increased with every click of the ratchets as she tightened them around my ankles. This must all be a terrible mistake! Yet I was being pulled deeper and deeper into the depths of this hideous nightmare. My greatest fear was that Lady Agnes would believe that I really was a thief and abandon me to my fate in this alien land.
Blondie took me the other way down the corridor and unlocked an iron door in the middle of a row of identical iron doors. She shoved me into a cell and slammed the door. My new home was a bare stone cube. A narrow wooden bench fastened to the wall with iron straps was opposite the door and it extended from wall to wall. Under it I could see a pottery jug and a wooden bucket, while a folded blanket was on top of it. A small barred window pierced the wall above it.
I walked to the bench, the chain between my ankles rattling across the stone. Once there, I sat down, put my face in my hands, and wept.
Some time later the sound of a key in the lock brought me to my feet. Any hopes of release were dashed when Inspector Braun entered my cell. He was followed by two men I had never seen before, one, in his fifties, plump and with thinning gray hair, and the other younger, in his twenties, thin and scrawny.
Inspector Braun barked, "Harrison! Say, 'How much will you give me for these jewels?'."
When I hesitated he stepped forward and slapped my face. "Say it! Or we will have to use other means to persuade you."
I thought of Blondie and her strap and blurted out, "How much will you give me for these jewels?".
Inspector Braun grunted, then he and the men left the cell. The door slammed and I was alone again. I wondered who the men could possibly be.
I explored my cell , discovering that the pottery jug contained water and the bucket, to judge by its smell, was for human waste. The blanket was wool, but thin and with many moth holes. The window looked out on the same courtyard I had seen from the other window. It was still empty. Then, having explored my surroundings to their limited extent, I sat back on the bench and brooded. Time passed slowly, with no sound reaching me, until a narrow slot in the bottom of the door opened and a wooden bowl was shoved through it. It contained food, a stew of some sort, and I ate it with the wooden spoon in the bowl. Finally the sun went down and the cell darkened. I wrapped myself in the blanket, stretched out on the bench, and tried to sleep.
I was able to get some sleep, but I awoke the next morning tired and sore. Another bowl of food, this time porridge, was shoved under the door, and later in the morning a prisoner, accompanied by Blondie, collected the used bowls and exchanged my water jug and bucket. I supposed this was all the excitement I would have that day, but I was wrong. A short time later a well-dressed middle-aged man carrying a leather briefcase was admitted to my cell.
"Good morning, Miss Harrison. I am Herr Speer. I am a lawyer, engaged on your behalf by Lady Agnes Dalrimple."
I felt an immense surge of relief. I hadn't been abandoned! "It is so good to see you, Herr Speer. How soon can you get me out of here? I want to tell Lady Agnes how grateful I am for her support."
"I'm afraid that your release cannot happen just yet, and anyway, Lady Dalrimple is not here. She has returned to Berlin for an audience with His Imperial Majesty."
"But you can get me released soon, can't you? I am innocent."
Herr Speer raised his hand, palm facing me. "Let's not talk of innocence, and please, do not tell me you are guilty. Let us discuss the practical aspects of the case. I have seen the police report, and I recommend you plead guilty."
"Guilty! But I am innocent! Why should I plead guilty?"
"Because the evidence against you is very strong, and I believe you will be convicted if this goes to trial. You are more likely to receive a lenient sentence if you admit your guilt and express remorse."
I was astounded by this statement. "Evidence? What evidence?"
Herr Speer took some papers out of his briefcase. "Here is the police report. Inspector Braun is very thorough and a good detective. When you hear what he says, please consider these statements from the point of view of an impartial judge. First, you knew about Lady Dalrimple's jewels and had access to her room. The jewels could have been stolen at any time from when she took them off to when she found them missing, a period of almost 24 hours. They were sold in the afternoon, the day before yesterday. At that exact same time you left Lady Dalrimple's company and went off by yourself."
"Yes, I got a message saying I had a letter at the post office."
"The Inspector investigated that. The message was given to the hotel clerk by an unidentified street urchin sometime that morning, so anyone could have sent it. The postal clerk says you did ask for a letter there, but the post office is on the same street as the pawnshop and only 100 meters distant from it. Now here is the most damning evidence against you: Both the pawnbroker and his assistant described the woman who sold the jewels as young, with red hair, and speaking German with an English accent. When they saw you here in the jail they both positively identified you as the one who sold the jewels."
So that's who those men were. "That can't be. I was never in any pawnshop. They are lying."
Herr Speer shrugged. "The final piece of evidence against you is the money. The pawnbroker paid 625 marks for the jewels, the exact amount of the money found in your suitcase. Furthermore, the pawnbroker remembered that one 50-mark note had a corner torn off. This note was also found in your suitcase.
"Those are the facts. Then there is the question of motive. You have no money of your own, so you are completely dependent on Lady Dalrimple. But she treats you badly. You were severely beaten, were you not? By stealing the jewels you both revenge yourself on Lady Dalrimple and acquire the means to escape from her."
"Yes, she did beat me, but we were both drunk. She apologized the next morning and I accepted the apology. I'm not resentful, I'm grateful to her." I was reeling from the shock of these disclosures. Who could hate me so much that they would do this to me? "I did not steal the jewels! Somebody impersonated me at the pawnshop and planted the money in my suitcase."
Herr Speer shrugged again. "You have only been in Gorhalt for a few days. Have you done anything in that time to create such a vicious enemy?"
"No, I have done nothing of the sort."
"Did some enemy from England follow you here?"
"No, I have no enemies in England and besides, how would they know I am here? This must have been done for some other reason."
"What could that be? Lady Dalrimple will get her jewels back and the pawnbroker will get his money back. There is no financial benefit to anyone."
Things were looking very bad for me. "If I plead guilty what sentence would I receive?"
"I cannot give a definitive answer, of course, but I think the court would be lenient. You are a beautiful young woman, this is your first offense, and you are a foreigner. If you say you acted only out of anger, and if you say you are sorry, that will influence the court. Lady Dalrimple must be a woman of influence, and if she vouches for you I think the court will only order that you be expelled from the Empire, with no penal servitude."
"And if I am found guilty after a trial?"
"Then you must expect to spend a year, perhaps two, in prison."
"This is not a easy decision, Herr Speer. When will you require my answer?"
"I will return here tomorrow morning. I will need your answer then."
I thought of a way to resolve my dilemma. "Can you send a telegram to Lady Agnes, Herr Speer? Relate the facts to her, and also your recommendation. If she advises me to plead guilty I will do so, providing she knows I am innocent and only following your advice."
"Very well, Miss Harrison. I will do as you ask. Until tomorrow."
He knocked on the door and the jailor opened it. When he was gone I was alone once more.
* * *
I spent a restless night. I worried about Lady Agnes' reaction. If she did not believe I was innocent then I must plead not guilty, even if it meant that I would go to prison. In the best of circumstances this affair would inconvenience her, and being expelled from Germany as a convicted felon would not help my future prospects either. Perhaps prostitution would be my only career option.
I anxiously awaited Herr Speer's return, pacing my cell until my ankles were red and sore from the friction of my chains.
Finally he appeared. "I have received a reply from Lady Dalrimple. Here, read it yourself."
He handed me a telegram and I opened it anxiously. I noticed that my hands were trembling as I read it:
I KNOW YOU ARE NOT A THIEF X TAKE SPEERS ADVICE X HE WILL PROVIDE FUNDS AND HELP YOU LEAVE GERMANY X I CANNOT LEAVE BERLIN AT THIS TIME X
"I will take your advice and plead guilty, Herr Speer. When will I be sentenced?"
"Soon. It depends on the court schedule, but it may be as early as this afternoon, and not later than the day after tomorrow. I will meet you at the court. Goodbye for now, Miss Harrison. I wish you well." He knocked on the jail door and the guard opened it for him. I fervently hoped it would open for me soon.
The next hours were an agony for me. I couldn't sit still, and I kept pacing my cell until my ankles were raw. I did not hear anything for the rest of that day, and spent a sleepless night, consumed with anxiety. Herr Speer had said that it was unlikely that I would go to prison, but the mere chance of penal servitude oppressed me.
* * *
The next day I didn't see anyone until late afternoon, when Blondie entered my cell. She didn't respond to my eager questions, saying nothing except to order me to put my hands behind my back. She handcuffed me and hustled me out into the corridor. We walked for quite a distance, and I soon became disoriented as we traversed many corridors and passed through many doors.
Finally we entered an elegant courtroom, paneled in oak and with a high bench at one end. Much to my relief Herr Speer was present, seated at a table in front of the bench. Blondie led me to the table and Herr Speer seated me in a chair next to his.
It was only a few minutes before a clerk entered the room from a door behind the bench. He held it open for a judge in a red robe and a round red hat. Herr Speer stood and I also scrambled to my feet. Things moved swiftly from then on. The clerk called my case, and Herr Speer announced that I was present and that he represented me.
The judge asked, "Does your client wish to plead, Herr Speer?"
"Yes, your honor. My client pleads guilty."
"Is this your plea, Harrison?"
"Very well, the clerk will enter that as the judgement of the court."
Herr Speer said, "Your Honor, my client wishes to make a statement in mitigation. She..."
The judge interrupted. "That is not necessary. I have read the reports. Harrison stole from her mistress, breaching her trust. This is especially reprehensible. Accordingly, I sentence her to fifteen years in prison. Jailor, deliver the convict to prison immediately."
I could not believe what I heard. Fifteen years! I could not believe it.
Herr Speer was also astonished. "Your Honor, I must protest! This is excessive. My client has committed no other offense. This sentence is only appropriate for a hardened criminal, not a young woman!"
"I am the one who decides what is appropriate, Herr Speer. I do not want to hear any more from you. Jailor, take her away."
* * *
I was in shock. I don't remember much of my journey, only that I was taken first to the jail and then transported in the back of a closed carriage to the prison, together with two other women. Blondie, carrying a truncheon, accompanied us as guard. One of the other prisoners was in her forties, and had the look of someone who had suffered much in life. The other was young, barely more than a girl, with a pale face and pale blonde hair, and she sobbed continuously. Both women were dressed and chained the same as I. The older woman said her name was Hilda and the younger woman's name was Greta. I said my name was Jenny, and Hilda commented on my strange name and funny accent.
Blondie removed us from the carriage and hustled us through an iron-banded wooden door and then into a bare room. Three women of the same physical type as Blondie, except dressed in blue uniforms, were waiting for us. All had crops thrust under their belts. Also present was a man wearing a blue uniform and holding a double-barreled shotgun.
One of the women had chevrons on her sleeve. "I am Chief Guard Hess. You will address me, and all other guards, as sir or madam. But you will not speak without permission."
While she was talking Blondie had been removing the handcuffs and leg irons from the three of us. When she finished Hess continued, "We don't have such elegant clothes in this establishment. Strip!"
Hilda obeyed without hesitation, and I reluctantly followed suit, but Greta, seeing the male guard, shook her head violently. Hess pulled the crop from her belt and struck her a half-dozen vicious blows on her back and bottom that sent Greta to her knees, screaming wildly. Hess grabbed Greta's hair and shook her head violently.
"You don't disobey an order. You will be punished for this. Now strip!" She used her grip on Greta's hair to pull her to her feet. Greta turned her back on the male guard and pulled off her jail dress.
"Here, put this on", Hess barked. Another guard tossed to each of us a garment which looked to be no more than a potato sack with the bottom ripped open and shoulder strings to hold it up. As I pulled it on, the stench of root vegetable seemed to confirm my first impression.
The guards then fastened manacles on our wrists and ankles, thick iron cuffs joined by heavy chain. They were crudely forged, and could have been made in the middle ages. The only concession to modernity was that they were now locked in place by bolts that replaced the original rivets, bolts that a guard tightened with a spanner. We were lined up by a heavily studded door and prompted, through the application of a crop to our exposed thighs, to go through the door, which slammed with an awful finality behind us.
We were forced to shuffle down a narrow corridor past identical iron-clad doors and, one after the other, my fellow prisoners were pushed through a door, which was slammed and locked behind them before I could see what lay behind the door.
At last it was my turn and I found myself standing in a cell barely wider than the three bunks on the wall and lit only by the light filtered through the barred window in the door. Sitting on the top bunk and looking at me was a young woman, while in one corner sat a creature who must have been a woman, though it was difficult to tell. As I stared at her, she looked round with such a look of abject terror I hope to never again see. A moment later, she returned to her former activities of staring at the wall, hugging her filthy knees to her body and rocking back and forth.
"Don't mind Claudia" the other woman said, "She don't say much". The shock of hearing a broad cockney accent in such a place quite threw me and I stared dumbly at her.
"Charmed, I'm sure" she said sarcastically, "Name's Abigail, yours ?" My brain refused to work.
"Jenny!" I blurted finally. The woman before me had once been very beautiful, but now she wore a hideous scar from her left ear, across her cheek, to the point of her chin; her right eye was swollen and nearly closed; and dried blood was smeared from a cut somewhere in her hairline down to her bruised and lacerated neck. Every inch of her body not covered by sacking was marked by welts, old and new.
"Well, Jenny, I feel sincerely sorry for you."
"And I for you", I said as I sat next to her "You seem to have suffered very badly."
"Ha!" she let out a mirthless laugh. "That I have, but it will be so much worse for you. They always go for the pretty ones, and you are most definitely that." I would have thanked her for the compliment, but I knew it was no such thing. Despair overwhelmed me, and I crawled into the lower bunk and lay there, sobbing.
"And you can stop that too. Be nice and quiet, like Claudia there, and maybe we can get some rest. Plenty of time for tears." Needless to say, sleep evaded me for a long time.
We were woken as the doors along the corridor slammed open. As the new girl, I had to take out and empty the night bucket, which had to serve all three of us. After that, everyone shuffled down the corridor and out onto the stone-paved yard, surrounded on all sides by the forbidding facades of the prison. There was a watchtower on one corner, and I could see a guard with a rifle pacing back and forth. Somewhere, beyond the slate gray cloud and persistent drizzle, dawn had broken.
I shadowed Abigail as we were formed up into four lines facing a raised platform, perhaps a hundred of us, all clad in dirty sacks, all in heavy chains. We waited for some time before Hess and another guard mounted the platform. They accompanied a tall bald man in a shiny black suit.
He said, "Chief Hess, what offenses have I to judge today?"
"Just one, Governor. Disobeying an order." Two guards dragged Greta forward. She was obviously terrified, and only the guards' grip on her arms kept her from collapsing.
The governor asked, "Do you have anything to say, prisoner?" Greta's mouth worked, but she was too terrified to speak. "No defense? Very well. Twenty lashes."
One of the guards untied the strings supporting Greta's sack and it dropped to the ground, displaying her pale, thin body. There was a whipping post at the back of the platform. A rope ran through a hole near the top of the post and the other guard tied it to the center of Greta's wrist chain. They pulled on the rope until she was suspended by her wrists, and I could see blood trickling down her arms as the cuffs cut into her.
Hess stepped forward, a long black whip in her hand. Without any preliminaries she laid it across Greta's back. It didn't raise a welt, it cut like a knife, and Greta screamed. I could not watch; I shut my eyes, but I could not block my ears from the smack of the whip and the scream. Soon there was only the smack of the whip. I opened my eyes and saw that Greta was hanging limply from the rope, mercifully unconscious. Her back was just raw meat, and the blood streamed down her legs.
Finally we were marched away from the hideous scene and into another room, this one with tables and benches. As we entered we picked up a wooden bowl and it was filled with gruel, ladled out from a large copper vat. I was so foul that I could barely choke it down, but my fellow prisoners ate it eagerly. After this disgusting meal we lined up in the yard again and guards formed detachments of various sizes and led them off until I was standing alone. This ominous development worried me.
After several minutes a guard ordered, "Come with me." She grabbed my arm and led me to a door on the other side of the yard, my hobbled feet shuffling rapidly as I struggled to avoid tripping over the chain joining my ankles. We entered a room that was unlike the others I had seen so far, in that it's walls were not bare stone, but were painted a sickly green. Once I was inside the guard left, and two men in white coats removed my sack and unbolted the cuffs from my wrists. Once again I was naked, but I doubted this was the worst of my problems. This surmise was proven to be correct when the men strapped me into an iron chair bolted to the floor.
Another man in a white coat approached me, and my first impression was of being in the presence of pure, unadulterated evil. "Good morning, Fraulein Harrison, my name is Herr Doktor Tiermörder," he said in a raspy voice. "We are conducting an experiment here, trying to find a way to rehabilitate criminals. You have been chosen as a test subject as you have not yet been conditioned by the usual prison experiences. I hope you will cooperate with us."
I nodded. I was in no position to refuse him anything.
"From your records, I see you are a common thief."
"No, I'm innocent!" I protested weakly. "I just pled guilty because my lawyer said I would receive a lighter sentence." I watched, uncomprehendingly, as the doctor clipped a metal clamp to each of my nipples. Wires connected the clamps to terminals mounted on a large oak box. A crank was on the side of the box and a dial was on the top.
"Tell me again, fraulein, are you innocent ?"
"Yes! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!" The scream was wrested from me as electricity surged through my tortured body, making it dance to the doctor's tune as he rapidly turned the crank.
Tiermörder changed the setting on the dial. "Remind me, fraulein, you did not rob your employer?" He again turned the crank.
"No! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh! Please-Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!" Each time the dial went higher and the screams got louder.
"So you say the police are wrong? Perhaps you believe they fabricated the evidence against you?"
"Yes! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh! I mean no! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh! I mean-Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh!"
I knew that I was utterly lost. I was just an object lesson for the entire prison. There was no gag, even the door was left open so my screams would carry as far as possible, letting every inmate know there was no hope, only endless torture.
This went on and on, until I finally fainted. My escape was temporary, however. I was revived and unstrapped from the chair and the two men put a canvas garment over my head, something I recognized from illustrations of madhouses – it was straight jacket, and I was strapped in tight. I was hustled towards the wall where an iron door about three feet high was opened to reveal a small dark void. They thrust me inside and my head hit the back of the space. I scrambled to face forward just as the door slammed shut. There was a small metal grille in front of my face, and the evil doctor peered in at me.
"It seems you are completely delusional, fraulein. I think a week. To start. Then I reconsider the case." He closed a small iron panel over the grille, and just before it slammed shut I could see that both it and the door were made of iron at least two inchs thick. Now I was in total blackness. Every scream bounced back into my face and I was sure not a sound could escape my tiny cell.
It seemed the opportune time to start losing my mind.
After a while I felt a thin stream of water striking my chest. I leaned forward and captured the stream in my open mouth for as long as it flowed. Apparently I was not meant to die of thirst. All I could do in this stygian blackness was endure the pain as best I could. I knew any sound I made would not penetrate the boundaries of the cavity holding my contorted body, but that did not keep me from screaming and then begging for release. After a while I just whimpered, sure that I was now entombed in my crypt.
The only way I could estimate time was by how often I had to urinate, and by that inexact calculation I was in the cell for two days. My cramped legs complemented my cramped arms, and I was in so much pain that I would have confessed to any accusation Herr Doktor Tiermörder made, if only he let me out. When the door finally opened I could not move, so I was pulled out of the cell by the two white-coated men and they peeled me out of the straightjacket. I was numb and just lay on the floor as they sluiced me with buckets of cold water and scrubbed my befouled body with a stiff brush.
I was still too cramped to move and I remained motionless for some time, until eventually one man pulled me into a sitting position and the other gave me a cold boiled potato. I wolfed it down, and it helped relieve the pain in my empty stomach. The men pulled me to my feet, dressed me in my sack, and bolted the manacles onto my wrists. I could hardly make my legs function, so they dragged me across the room to the door. On the way we passed a dissection table bearing the nude body of Greta, her lifeless blue eyes staring at the ceiling. That was the moment I knew I was destined to die in this hellhole of a prison.
A female guard was waiting at the door and she dragged me across the yard and back into the main prison building. I was not returned to my cell or put on a work detail; instead I was taken to the governor's office and stood in front of his desk. "Where have you been, prisoner Harrison?" he barked.
I was confused. Surely he knew that I was away being 'treated' by Herr Doktor Tiermörder. I stammered, "I... I... I..."
"Enough!" he interrupted. "You have absented yourself without my permission. The penalty is fifty lashes. Guard, tie her to the whipping post. She will be flogged at tomorrow morning's muster."
I could not believe this. I had been sentenced to death for a nonexistent offense, for if twenty lashes killed Greta fifty lashes would surely kill me. I did not cry or protest, for my mind could not grasp the enormity of this catastrophe. In a daze I was led out of the office and across the prison yard.
The guard tied the whipping post rope to my wrist chain and pulled me up onto my toes. It was only then, with the cuffs digging into my wrists, that I wept. Never could I have I imagined that my life would end in this way, tortured to death in a German prison, incarcerated for a crime I did not commit. My mind dwelt on the things I could have done differently to avoid this fate. Some were trivial, such as not going to the post office. Others were more substantial, such as not submitting to Lady Agnes' punishment and thus staying in England. Finally despair overwhelmed me, and all I did was weep.
A few hours later, and without explanation, a guard let my hands down, untied the rope, and led me outside the gate and into a small room near the prison entrance. She freed my wrists and ankles from the chains and indicated a pile of clothing on a table in the corner. "Get dressed," she commanded. "Don't talk."
I quickly shed the malodorous sack and examined the clothing. It was not what I had been wearing when I was arrested nor was it new, but it seemed to be clean and in good repair. There was a corset and a chemise, as well as a dark blue dress with a low neckline and short sleeves, but no other undergarments or stockings. I put on the chemise and the guard helped me lace the corset, making it tighter than I found comfortable, but I did not complain. I put on the dress and the guard buttoned it up the back. There were a pair of flat-heeled, black leather shoes, more like slippers than shoes, and I put them on.
The guard left, locking the door behind her, and I waited for I knew not what. Hope started to build in me. Had my conviction been overturned? Had my sentence been reduced to expulsion from Germany? I knew Lady Agnes had not abandoned me, and she was not without influence. Perhaps she had arranged for a pardon! Was I to be released? I had gone from brutalized prisoner to young lady in what seemed only moments; I had gone from a nightmare to a dream. I waited anxiously for someone to inform me of my fate, but I was sure I would not be here and dressed as I was if my life was not going to change for the better.
A short time later the door was unlocked and Max entered. "Hello, Jenny."
"Max! Is this your doing? Do I have you to thank for my freedom?"
"I am responsible for getting you out of prison, but you haven't been freed. You have merely been paroled into my custody. This will last only as long as you behave yourself. If you don't, one word from me and you will be returned to prison, where you will suffer the punishment you so narrowly averted."
"I don't understand. Why are you doing this?" I was confused by Max's attitude. The deferential gentleman I had known had disappeared.
"I wanted you to be my assistant, but this is better. Now you are my slave."
"Slave! You can't be serious! This is Germany, not Arabia. You can't have a slave here."
"Not by that name, but in fact that is what you are. I effectively own you. You have no rights. You have no recourse to any authority. I can command you and punish you if you do not obey. Indeed, I can punish you at my whim. If I want to use your body sexually you must submit or suffer the consequences. I cannot kill you, but that is my only restriction. I can certainly make you wish you were dead." He opened the case he was carrying and took out leg irons. "The authorities insist that criminals be restrained when they're in public. Put these on your ankles."
"I will not!"
"Jenny, Jenny, don't be stubborn. You are of no use to me if you do not obey, so you have a stark choice. Do as I command or go back into the prison and be whipped to death. Which will it be?"
Was he bluffing? I could not tell. But to go back into prison surely meant I would suffer a cruel death, while all I faced now was humiliation. I took the irons from Max and locked them onto my ankles.
"You have made a wise decision, Jenny." He took handcuffs from the case. "Turn around and put your hands behind your back."
"Please Max, not behind my back. I can't pick up my skirt when I walk."
"Do as I command! Slaves obey without protest. And you will address me as 'Master'. Do you understand?"
His anger was visible, and I was frightened. "Yes, M... Master." I turned and placed my hands behind me and felt the cold steel on my wrists. Max made the cuffs cruelly tight and I winced.
Max (for I would not call him Master in my thoughts) turned me to face him. "I had this collar made especially for you, Jenny. See, it has your name engraved on it."
He was holding a shiny silver collar, about an inch wide and a quarter inch thick. The engraving read, 'Slave jenny'. At this final humiliation I wept, the tears coursing down my cheeks.
Max closed the collar about my neck and it locked with a loud click. "There is no key, Jenny. The collar will have to be cut off at the end of your sentence." He clipped a dog leash to a ring on the collar and knocked on the door. It was opened and a tug on the leash led me outside, into my new life. I had no illusions now, I was Max's slave, nothing more.
Once outside the prison a short walk took us to an alley where a carriage with the ducal coat of arms on the door waited. It was not impressive in spite of this pretension, for it was well-worn and weather beaten, and it was pulled by only two nondescript horses. Apparently Max did not perform as 'The Great Marvolo' just as a lark, but rather it was a major source of income.
I was too stunned to do more than follow Max, too stunned to speak. I could not believe this was really happening; it was all just a bad dream.
Max effortlessly lifted me into the carriage and when he was inside and the door closed the driver cracked his whip. The journey was undertaken in silence, but I felt increasingly uncomfortable under Max's steely gaze. I felt him undressing me with his eyes, and wondered what else he was imagining as he stared at my body with no thought for my modesty. We drove outside the city and then for perhaps an hour more, eventually stopping in the weed-choked drive in front of what was once a coaching inn. Max dismounted and lifted me down from the carriage. He said to the coachman, "That's all for now, Karl. I won't need the carriage again today. I've got other things to distract me." Karl laughed and drove away.
Max yanked on my leash and led me up some shallow steps and into the main room of the former inn. It had been cleared of all furniture except for a table and a few chairs. The cabinet used in the underwater escape trick and some other apparatus was stored in one corner. We did not stop here, but climbed the stairs to the upper floor and into a room furnished as a sitting room. A bedroom containing a large four-poster bed was visible through an open connecting door.
I knew that the only thing on the mind of my new owner at that moment was to take advantage of his relationship with me. The man revolted me, but I was now his de facto slave, and I realized that if I refused him anything he could punish me as he wished. Or worse, he could have me re-incarcerated with a word, and I was sure the prison governor, after having to let me 'get away' once, would ensure it couldn't happen again. He would promptly administer my sentence of fifty lashes, and that was a fate I could not face.
Max unlocked the manacles around my ankles, then released my wrists. As I rubbed my chafed flesh I nearly thanked him for freeing me, before I remembered that this was not freedom, just a prelude to further shame and humiliation.
"So, Jenny, I think we should get to know each other a little better." As he said this, he gave me a smile and ran his fingers down my face. He walked behind me and I felt him place his hands on my corseted waist and then slowly move them up, until they were cupping my breasts.
I knew that the one thing I mustn't do was turn and slap him across the face as hard as I could, but that is exactly what I did. His hand went to his rapidly reddening cheek.
"Good," he said, his smile widening. "I like my conquests to show some spirit. But not too much; a slave who strikes her master is usually severely punished."
"Conquest?" I exclaimed, incredulous. "I am not your conquest! I am your chattel, bought like some household utensil!"
"Yes," he said, a tone of steel in his voice, "and right now I would like my household utensil to go into the bedroom and remove her dress."
I was boiling with rage but, mustering as much dignity as I could, I did as he ordered. He leaned in the doorway and watched me, that infuriating smile still on his face, as I stood before him in my corset and chemise. He came up behind me and once again took my breasts in his hands, massaging them and toying with the nipples through the thin material. I knew I did not dare hit him again, and I don't know whether it was this realization of my helplessness or the deftness of his touch, but there was no denying that my body was responding. My nipples were hard and protruding through the chemise, my breathing was shallow and labored, and my face was flushed red and burning with pent-up arousal. I had been touched like this before by Betsy, but this was something entirely different.
"Good," he repeated. "You are as much a slut as I suspected. Hold on to the bedpost there while I remove your corset."
I held on as he loosened the laces and removed my corset, fighting to understand what was happening to me. I had not come to any conclusion when I felt him pull my chemise up around my waist. He knew I was naked underneath, since he had provided my clothes, and he now had a perfect view of my bottom and bare thighs.
I felt his hand on my thigh and then I was shocked when I felt his finger penetrate my sex and explore inside me in the most intimate way. I gasped in surprise, but also in response to the mounting passion in me, as he forced a second, then a third finger into me, eliciting a desperate moan from my reluctant lips. My knees buckled and I slumped forward against the bedpost, eyes closed, fighting against my body's shameful response to his lewd and disgusting groping.
"Stand up straight, slut!" he barked. As I did so, his hands once more briefly grabbed my breasts, but then there was the sound of tearing material, and my chemise was rent from hem to navel, exposing my sweat-soaked body and revealing my chest, heaving as I tried to catch my breath. He pushed the ruined garment off my shoulders and it slid to the floor, leaving me naked. He brought his hand up to my face and I could smell the rankness of my sexual arousal on his fingers.
"Suck them, slave, suck them clean," he growled in my ear. I looked around, and there was nothing but animal lust in his face. Reluctantly, I bent my head and took his fingers in my mouth, sucking and licking my own juices from them.
"Excellent. Now, get on the bed!" I obeyed his command with a heavy heart, knowing this was the point at which I was to lose what little virtue I still had. As I lay down on my back he threw several skeins of rope onto my naked body and wrapped the one he still held around my wrist. When he had the rope painfully tight he knotted it and pulled it until I was flat on the mattress with my arm stretched towards the bedpost, where he secured the free end.
"Why do you bother with the ropes when you know I can do nothing to resist you?" He looked at me expectantly, his face gradually darkening. I knew what he wanted, but I fought to keep a modicum of self-respect. Eventually I admitted to myself I was only making my life more difficult. "… Master!" I finally spat, and a cruel smile disfigured his face. By now he had tied my other wrist to a bedpost and was tieing my spread legs to the foot of the bed.
"Binding you is my personal preference," he said, stretching me as tight as could as he completed my bondage, "I enjoy seeing a young woman such as you trussed and entirely helpless. But also, I am confident that you are such a wanton slut that, under my skilled touch, you will soon be pulling against these restraints in your eagerness to offer me your body. Knowing you are helpless will reduce your inhibitions."
As he said this he forced into my mouth an object which filled it to the point where I was retching as it touched my throat. I tried to cry out, but this thing filed my whole mouth, stretching my jaws wide and muffling any sound I tried to utter. The object was held by a leather strap, which Max pulled viciously tight and buckled behind my head. To test the efficacy of the gag he grasped the nipple on my right breast and twisted it until I screamed in agony. Barely a sound could be heard, despite the tears forced from me by his torture. The room suddenly seemed airless and I found myself breaking into a sweat which prickled my brow, stung my armpits and ran freely from them as I fought for breath.
He turned to the commode in the corner of the room, and when he returned my eyes widened in fear as he opened a straight razor and waved it before my face.
"Regretting your earlier insolence yet, slut?" As he lowered the blade to my body I tried to raise my head from the bed to see. I felt him grasp my pubic hair and slice it away, leaving only stubble. He then scraped the razor over my skin, removing the stubble as well.
"There", he said in satisfaction. "Bare as any good slave girl should be." It seemed my humiliation would never end, but it was only just beginning. Now he raised for my inspection an object of revolting aspect, which caused me to shake my head in disbelief and a mute plea for mercy. The thing was of ivory and shaped like a man's erect penis, but was of such length and girth that it could only be a weapon of torture.
"I see the light in your eyes, Jenny. You seem to relish the prospect of my using this on you."
I shook my head violently, trying to shout out my abject fear at such a prospect. But I knew it would make no difference. I felt the tip of the monster parting my lips and sliding into me, unopposed.
"See how your filthy cunt takes it in greedily," Max taunted, as he slowly drove it into me. "Already you are flowing with lust for this, like some common harlot!"
I closed my eyes and felt the tears of shame burning on my cheeks. I knew he was right, that my thighs were slick with the evidence of my wantonness. The feelings of desperate sexual arousal mounted in my faithless body, unbidden and unwanted. I felt his hands slide over my sweat-soaked skin and squeeze my breasts until they ached, but this just seemed to intensify the fire within me.
Gradually and inexorably, he forced the monstrous phallus deeper and deeper into me, far past the point where I was sure I couldn't take any more, yet still it disappeared inside my body. I felt every swelling and carved vein along its obscene length and, to my horror, my body continued to respond, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I reached an orgasm. Max seemed to know this too and took the opportunity to increase my torment. He lowered his head to my breast and bit down hard on my nipple, until I was screaming uselessly and struggling vainly against the tight ropes, just as he had predicted.
At that moment I reached the most mind-numbing climax it is possible to imagine. It racked my body, making me shake. More sweat sprang from my pores, saliva drooled from my mouth and I could feel my sex juices oozing from me, dripping onto my thighs and the bed. The feeling seemed to last for hours, forever, the intensity almost unbearable. My eyes opened wide and I saw, staring down at me, the demonic face of my tormentor.
At that point I must have become unconscious. When I awoke, I found that Max had untied me from the bed, but only so he could bind me again, my tortured frame bent over a small table. As I fought back to consciousness, he was entering me from behind, thrusting deeply into my tortured sex. Once more, my fickle libido betrayed me and I soon found myself at the point of climax, a point quickly passed and then revisited as Max now consummated the terrible master-slave bond between us.
As hot tears streamed down my face I saw Max readjusting his clothing and picking up a riding crop, bending it threateningly. If I had ever been in any doubt about the dire situation in which I found myself, I knew the last remnants of pride and defiance were about to be thrashed out of me. What I could not fathom, and what made me hate this loathsome man even more than I had when I first realized he intended to enslave me, was that it was he that had brought me such intense pleasure of the sort I had never experienced before in my life. I now knew that this man could take me to his bed and, like the wanton slut he had named me, I would go there eagerly, ignoring the shame I felt coursing through my veins. I hated and despised him, but I hated and despised myself even more.
Much to my surprise I was not thrashed. Max untied me and gave me a housemaid's dress to wear. It was large on me, and fitted loosely.
"It is time to prepare a meal, Jenny. Mealtimes have been somewhat irregular around here since I was forced to discharge the staff. You do know the rudiments of cooking, I hope?"
This abrupt change disoriented me. I replied, "Yes, Master. I have some abilities as a cook." I had spoken automatically, and it wasn't until after the words were out of my mouth that I realized I had used the title 'Master'. Max realized it too, and his smile of triumph brought a blush of shame to my face.
"I am glad that you are adapting to your new life. Keep doing so, and it will be more pleasant for all of us, but especially for you. Now on to the kitchen. There will only be the three of us at dinner; you, me, and Karl."
He picked up the leash that was still attached to my collar and led me downstairs and into the kitchen. In the center of the room was a coil of light chain, with one end bolted to the stone floor. Max removed the leash and padlocked the free end of the chain to the ring on my collar. "How convenient," he smirked. "Your collar is useful as well as ornamental."
How convenient that this chain was just waiting here for me. "You've known since I was arrested that I was going to be your prisoner, haven't you? Master."
"Yes, of course I have. You're not stupid, Jenny. It would be impossible for me to hide my involvement for long."
"I didn't steal the jewels. I am not a thief. You must believe me!"
"Of course I believe you. Karl stole the jewels and put the money in your suitcase, as I told him to. I bribed the pawnbrokers so they would falsely identify you. I bribed the judge to sentence you to fifteen years. I also bribed the prison governor to sentence you to fifty lashes, and most importantly, I bribed him to not carry out that sentence. The Parole Bureau didn't need a bribe, they gave me your custody because I'm the Duke's nephew."
"But why? Why have you enslaved me? Why have you ruined my life?" I was crying now. This was worse than an attack by an enemy. This was a betrayal by a friend.
"Because I needed an assistant. And because you are the most desirable woman I have ever met, and I had to possess you."
Max took me into his arms and kissed me, not a violent kiss of lust, but tenderly. "I realize this has been difficult for you, Jenny. But you must admit that I've shown you intense pleasure. And what I feel for you is more than lust, even though I must own you, body and soul. We will spend many years together. They can be pleasant ones, if you let yourself enjoy them. Your situation is not unlike that of a royal princess, married for political reasons. She may not have chosen her husband, but she can learn to love him. And addressing him as 'Your Majesty' is not so different from addressing me as 'Master'."
I had to laugh through my tears. Max was a silver-tongued devil. "How many royal princesses have a collar permanently locked around their necks? How many can be tortured at a whim?"
"Well, the analogy only goes so far. You are a slave, so you have a distinctly different status to that of a princess. And while I have a great deal of affection for you, I still demand your obedience. At least twice now you have forgotten to address me as 'Master'. Bend over and hold your ankles."
This jolted me out of my fantasy world, where I was not a chattel. I begged, "Please don't whip me! I'm sorry, I just forgot, this is all new to me. Please don't hurt me."
"You won't remember your place if I let your transgressions go unpunished. Now hold your ankles. If you cannot do it I'll suspend you by your wrists. Which do you prefer?"
With a sob of despair I bent over and Max lifted my dress above my waist. Then he delivered five stinging blows across my bottom with his crop, and I was cruelly brought back to the brutal reality of my world.
"You will find food in the larder, Jenny. I look forward to a delicious meal. Do not disappoint me." He left the kitchen and I was alone, chained in my place.
I actually had some cooking skill. I took an interest in it, and the various cooks my father had employed over the years were willing to teach me. I tried my best to produce a 'delicious' meal, but the larder was almost empty, so I was worried that the result would not meet Max's standards and I would be punished. I was also hampered by my tether, for I was not yet used to living at the end of a chain.
Max entered the kitchen. "Is the meal ready yet?"
"Yes, I have just finished, Master. Where do you want me to serve it?"
"Here in the kitchen will do. Set the table while I call Karl."
"How many places shall I set? Master."
"Three, of course. We are just a team of show folk, with no distinctions among us."
I fingered my collar and jingled the chain attached to it. "Yes, Master. Whatever you say." I saw a smile play on his lips as he recognised the sarcastic tone, but he was apparently amused rather than offended and I was not beaten this time.
When Max returned I had my first meeting with the notorious Karl. He reminded me of a troll, as pictured in a children's book. He was no taller than I, yet three times as broad, with a barrel chest and heavily muscled arms. His face had a bulbous nose and a receding chin, and he was completely bald, with rolls of fat where his short neck met his shoulders. He wore brown leather trousers tucked into knee boots and a leather vest over a gray woolen shirt. He exuded a rank smell.
Max introduced us. "Jenny, this is Karl. He is my trusted assistant, and an indispensable, if unseen, part of the act. Karl, this is Jenny, my slave. She is Bella's replacement."
Karl grunted and moved towards me, his hand outstretched. I shrank back, but Karl stopped immediately when Max shouted, "Karl! She is my slave. You may look, but do not touch. But I'll let you look. Jenny, remove your dress."
I was so shocked I could not respond. Max threatened, "Do as I say, Jenny. Or do you like the touch of the crop?"
I had endured enough pain today, and humiliation no longer mattered much, so I removed my dress, letting it fall to the floor. I covered myself with my hands until Max ordered, "Put your hands on the back of your head and turn around slowly. Karl appreciates the beauty of the female form, do not deprive him."
I made several complete turns, trying to appear indifferent to my degradation as his ugly servant stared hungrily at my nakedness. Finally Max ordered, "Enough. Serve the food, Jenny."
"May I dress, Master?"
"Yes, since you asked permission."
I quickly put the dress on and hurried to bring the food to the table.
After we had eaten I anxiously awaited Max's verdict. Was the food satisfactory, or was I to be punished? He stared at me, his face unreadable, deliberately prolonging the suspense. I tried to pretend indifference, but I was not successful. I did want Max's approval, and not just to avoid pain.
"Well, Jenny, that meal was... very good."
"Oh, thank you, Master! I'm so glad you liked it. But I don't know if I can do it again. The larder is almost empty, and there is not much coal left, either."
"Yes, I know. My funds are low at the moment, because you were very expensive. Bribery used to be much more affordable. Karl, you will have to do some foraging."
"Yes, sir. I haven't been to Siebenhitz lately. I'll see what I can find." He slouched out of the room and out the back door.
"When you have finished with the clearing up call me, Jenny. I'll be in the main room."
I had some water boiling on the stove and I pumped some more cold water and mixed it to obtain the proper temperature to wash the dishes, and when they were done I started to mop the floor. It wasn't that dirty, but if I was working in here I didn't have to call Max. My subterfuge was unsuccessful, as he came for me.
"What are you doing, Jenny?"
"Cleaning, Master. As you commanded."
"That can wait. I have another duty for you to perform."
He unlocked the chain from my collar and clipped on the leash, and I perforce followed him upstairs and into the bedroom. Another chain was bolted to the floor, this one near the head of the bed, and I was attached to it.
Max commanded, "Strip, Jenny."
I shrugged the dress off my shoulders and let it fall to the floor. I stood quietly, my hands at my sides, wondering how I would be violated this time. I resolved to show no response, to fight my base impulses so my body would not lewdly surrender again.
Max disrobed and got onto the bed. "Don't just stand there, Jenny. Get over here!"
I reluctantly lay beside him and he embraced me and kissed me. When I did not respond he kissed me again, and this time his tongue gently eased between my lips and stroked my tongue. His fingertips brushed my right nipple, quickly bringing it erect, before moving on to my left one. I relaxed my jaw, opening my mouth a little, and his tongue slid a little deeper. I felt my body reacting to Max's gentle touch and put my hand on his chest to push him away. He stopped kissing me and pushed my hand away, and his embrace tightened as he rolled me onto my back so I was underneath him. He supported all of his weight on his knees and elbows, not crushing me in the least, and then resumed the kiss. This time I kissed him back, and our tongues danced together.
"Relax, Jenny," Max whispered, "relax and enjoy the sensations. Your body knows the way, just follow it."
His mouth left mine and moved to my breasts, and he took each nipple into his mouth in turn, his moist lips sliding across my flesh. His tongue flicked out and circled my areola, before his teeth gently squeezed down on the nipple itself. I gasped, and despite my resolution to be passive I arched my back in response. His tongue continued to swirl around, and just as I was thinking I couldn’t take much more, he moved on to the other breast, which received the same treatment.
Now Max's hands were stroking my shaved mound. He touched my swollen lips and I parted my thighs. I remembered my resolution and closed them, but this lasted only moments before his insistent probing caused me to open them again. His fingers slid across my vagina and probed gently inside. I knew I was very wet by now, and I abandoned my resolution. My mind was no match for my body in these matters, and I opened my legs a little further.
Now his fingers found my clitoris, and the stroking and squeezing caused me to moan. "Please," I begged, "please, please, please..."
I felt the tip of Max's shaft enter me, and I circled his waist with my legs, doing all I could to impale myself on his manhood. He responded with a forceful thrust and vigorous pumping, and I screamed and clutched him in my arms, my nails digging into his back, as waves of pleasure coursed through my body.
I must have fainted, because when I was aware of my surroundings again Max and I were lying side by side under the blanket. "You seemed to enjoy that, Jenny."
"Yes, it would be futile to deny it. May I ask you a question? Master."
"Of course, I also enjoy interacting with your intellect."
"This time you did all you could to give me only pleasure. The first time you did all you could to degrade and humiliate me. Why did you behave so differently?"
There was a long pause before Max answered. "The first time I wanted to test you, to see if you would respond. I also wanted to demonstrate that you are my belonging, and I can do anything to you that I wish, that you are a slave who must accept what I give. The second time I wanted to show you the rewards I can bestow if you accept your status and behave as I desire." He jingled the chain locked to my collar. "This is also a factor. If you were a free woman your conditioning might not allow your body to respond normally. As a bound slave you have no choice, so your mind cannot be blamed for your body's response."
"Yes, my body certainly does not obey my mind, Master. My body loves you, and I hate you."
Max laughed, "Well, I cannot hope to obtain all of my goals at once. We shall see what the future brings. Now let us sleep. Tomorrow we start your training as an escape artist. Oh, I hope you appreciate the favor I'm bestowing on you now."
"What favor? Master."
"It is customary for a slave girl to sleep on the floor at the foot of her master's bed. Allowing you to share the bed with me is a privilege."
"This slave is grateful for your indulgence, Master."
Max laughed and hugged me. "I detect some sarcasm, Jenny, but no matter. I enjoy having your body next to mine, so it's an indulgence for me too."
End of part 2
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