HELD TO RANSOM
Held to Ransom was published some time ago in the Archives section of the Map Room in Reds Realm of Romantic Restraint on the web. Finding it there after so many years was one of the catalysts that impelled me to take up the pen again. The source from which Red scanned the story was The Bondage Models, No. 1, London Enterprises Ltd., 1981. It follows a story line similar to that of Captive (1979) and A Heroine in Lace (1986), both published by Harmony. It was the first of three stories in which my heroine is seized by a mysterious man and woman, each tale presented with a slightly different twist but using much the same elements. By my present standards they are less sophisticated than the tales I weave today, such as Mia Chantal in Jeopardy, but they evidently gave pleasure to readers (Jeb has kindly said this) and for that reason they are included here as retrospectives to be placed side by side with the new offerings.
As usual, I have made a few editorial changes and added graphics taken from various sites where vidcap bondage is posted.
Header for Part One: From Bondage Parade, No. 17, 1985, p. 28.
In-text 1: Unnamed Soap, from Bindher.com
Header for Part Two: Detail from Hawaii Five-O, Labyrinth with Tricia ONeil, Steves site
Footer for Part Two: Detail from Murder Call, from Damsels in the Dark, a site sadly no more
HELD TO RANSOM
Part One: One Drink Too Many
It was late evening. I left work early because a long weekend was coming up, and at leisure I relaxed in my apartment after eating a light supper. Then Clive rang. He sounded strangely tense on the phone, which was not like him. But then, he had been working very hard on some mysterious project for the last two weeks.
I was wondering when he might get in touch with me, for I was his favorite confidante at the office. We had a standing joke about my readiness to work hard on the pay we earned because I had a large private income promised as a lump sum from a wealthv uncle living overseas, who in the meantime gave me a small steady salary as part of an agreement with my late father, with whom he had had a business relationship.
I was Clives little rich girl. Under other circumstances and from a different person, I might have taken that as an insult, except that I knew Clive himself was well off.
Rona, are you free tonight? he asked. Then, without waiting for my reply, he continued. Look, Im awfully sorry to disrupt your evening, but Ive found something I think you ought to know. Youre in charge of our books and I thought that before we called a board meeting vou should know whats been going on the last two weeks. Youve been very good about not asking me before this ...
Clive, get to the point please, I exclaimed in alarm, Whats wrong with the books?
I heard him take a deep breath. I have proof of embezzlement on the part of one of our rnajor sleeping partners. Its in a safe in a private home, and Ive managed to get an invitation for late cocktails tonight at ten. I thought that if you came with me and engaged the hostess in conversation, perhaps caused a distraction like spilling your drink. I would have an opportunity to slip away and check the safes contents. What do you say?
The idea of the adventure intrigued me and, what was more, I felt angry that one of our trusted partners was being light-fingered. I did not know all the people who may have been involved and I wanted to get to the bottom of the matter now as badly as Clive. So I agreed.
Right, he said excitedly, Ill pick vou up in twenty minutes. Could you dress in something, you know, sexy? Theyre that kind of people.
When Clive rang off, I checked the weather bureaus forecast - a fine night, cool, and it would be a good idea to wear a scarf or something. I had already showered and freshened up, so after slipping on sheer black panties, bra, suspender belt and seamed stockings, I chose a simple short sleeved blouse of pure silk, with a deep V-neck and narrow waist, and a short skirt of iridescent silk taffeta. In my bag I placed a blue chiffon stole to contrast against the blouse in case I needed it later to keep my shoulders warm.
When Clive arrived, I was ready and we left at once.
On the way, Clive filled me in on the details he had not mentioned over the phone. He had been carrying out a routine inspection of our monthly books when several entries did not appear to tally. His detective work led him to suspect the people in the house to which we were going. Something did not seem right with their documents when he saw them at the bank, but since then they had been removed from the safety deposit box. We needed them as evidence.
The house that we drove to was located in a good class suburb near a marina. We could see the masts of the yachts through the trees of a park opposite the house, lit by the lights of the harbor walk.
A tall woman wearing a 1ong white dress answered the door when we rang. She held a glass of wine. The sound of party music came from behind the closed door of the room behind her
Oh Clive, do come in, she gushed. Im glad you could come. And you must be Rona. Clives told us he works with you, and of course as one of your new clients weve been looking forward to meeting you.
She took my hand briefly, then led us through into the inner room. It was empty of people although there were glasses and drinks set out on a long bar. The decor was a restful green, and potted palms lined the walls. Our hostess turned to us and, apologizing for the other guests who had not yet arrived, offered me a glass of wine.
Rona, would you mind terribly if I took Clive away for awhile? she asked. I have to get his approval of our scheme before presenting it to you.
Clive gave me a subtle nod.
Sure, I replied. Go ahead. Ill stay and explore this room.
This might be the opportunity we needed to steal a look at their books, and I resolved to check on the adjoining rooms if possible while they were out. For appearances sake I sipped two small mouthfuls of the drink, but when they stepped out of the room I carefully poured all except for another mouthful into one of the pot plants.
A quick and cautious inspection of two rooms drew a blank. However, the third room I entered was an office. Was it the office that contained the wall safe and the documents we needed?
I gulped down what remained of my drink - that much would be enough for me to keep a clear head and, placing the glass on a table near the door, I stepped across the threshold, softly closing the door behind me.
My eyes swept around the walls, eagerly taking in the details. A large desk stood in the center of the room, a long bookcase filled one wall, the wall to my left was paneled with some kind of dark wood, and there behind the chair matching the desk, directly in front of me, was a wall safe. I switched on the light now that the door behind me was closed. Heavy curtains covered the window. I listened, holding my breath, and began to walk as lightly as possible across the room.
Then something inexplicable happened. The room seemed to turn slowly around. I could not keep my feet on the floor that tilted and ran away from under me. I sank to my knees. My head drooped to the carpet and everything went dark.
Regainng consciousness was like coming out of a deep vertiginous pit. My poor head ached, my body felt as heavy as lead, and my mouth felt funny. I was lying on my side on a carpet. When I managed to open and focus my eyes, which took several minutes, I found myself looking at the bottom of a section of the paneled wall. I was still in the room I had attempted to burgle. What had happened?
Slowly strength seeped back into my limbs, sufficient enough for me to move them. But my head reeled when I tried to lift it even slightly. A strange tightness around my face and mouth made the blood pound in my temples. With an effort I lifted a hand to my face and my searching fingers discovered that a thick piece of cloth was bandaged very tightly between my teeth. I was gagged. When I moved my tongue it pressed against a ball of cloth wedged in my mouth. Later I found that I had been gagged with my own silk neck scarf, its center rolled around a large handkerchief that nearly filled my mouth.
My fingers were too weak to do anvthing about the silk muffling me, and my head fell back to the floor. Slowly the minutes dragged by as I sorted myself out. The nausea from the drug, which I guessed must have been placed in the drink, began to wear off and I could see more clearly. The room in which I lay was now in darkness, although a splash of light fell across the carpet and my ankles from an adjoing room, not the room from which I had come.
As my head cleaed I could hear voices. At first they were muffled, then they became clearer with the return of my senses. I could make out the voice of the woman, and a man, and was it Clives voice that I could hear also? Snatches of conversation filtered through my groggy mind.
the girl will be but are you? she wont come to harm. How can I be sure? ... were not brutal people just taking an opportunity thats hard to miss, like you.
But she mustnt know that I had anything to do with it.
Dont worry. The amount she drank means shell be out for a good hour yet. The drugs harmless. Shell just have a headache when she comes to.
Id better go all the same. Youll make arrangements to secure her, and send the ransom note?
The voices trailed away, whether because they moved out of earshot or because I blacked out I was not sure. It seemed a long time before I was able to think clearly. Even then I did not understand at first what had happened. How had Clive become involved with people like this? Why was I drugged?
Then the truth hit me. Clives search for falsified documents was a ruse to get me here in this house. It was not fiddled books that Clive wanted, it was me. Or rather it was my money. Their whole plan had been to set up a kidnap trap with me as the victim, and I had easily fallen into it. My chances of getting away were slim, for I was still very groggy from the drugged wine, to the extent that I was unable to take the gag from my mouth although my hands were free.
Why hadnt they bound my arms as well? They must have thought that I was more heavily drugged that I was. Probably I was gagged first, in preparation for being bound, and something diverted their attention. Perhaps the conversation I had just overheard was the culmination of a council of war over my fate.
The voices returned, two people this time, and I was able to make out more clearly what they were saying.
Go and prepare the cabin for our guest. Ill pack my bags and make the car ready.
It was the woman who spoke. All I heard of the others response was a grunt.
Now the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. Their plan must have been to render me unconscious, bind me, then transport me to a place where I could be held prisoner without much chance of detection. I heard the doors close as the two people left, one to the cabin where I was going to be taken, and the other to another part of the house. For a moment I could hear the clack of the womans high heels in the distance.
I realized, then, that when the woman returned she would finish the job she had started on me. I would be trussed up. There had to be something I could do to help myself instead of waiting like a lamb to the slaughter. There was some relief to think that my life was not in danger, if I had heard them correctly.
I cast around in my mind for some way that I could help myself, and my eyes fell on my bag which lay on the floor near where my captors must have dropped it. I hefted myself onto one elbow with an effort, reached down, and pulled it to me. I unfastened the catch and scrabbled about inside. My fingers found the lipstick tube. I was searching for something to write with, and in the emergency this would have to do. With a shaking hand, I scrawled on the wall near the floor the words: Please help me. I have been kidnapped. They are holding me in a cabin. The lipstick slipped from my fingers several times.
When that was done I returned the lipstick to my handbag and moved away from that part of the wall so as to lessen the chance of the woman seeing the message when she came into the room. My movements were enough to show me that I had little hope of walking out of there. My limbs felt like jelly.
A few minutes later I heard my captor return.The door from the party room opened so that I was bathed in a criss-cross of light from the two adjoining rooms. For some reason the woman did not switch on the light of the office in which I lay. She came to me and I stirred and looked up at her from over my shoulder.
I see youre coming around, she said pleasantly. It must be frightening for you so Ill set your mind at ease. You are being kidnapped. We are abducting you from this place and storing you where no-one will find you, not even if they knew where to look in general. But you have nothing to fear because were not going to hurt you. Its true youve seen my face but I will be leaving the country well ahead of the police. Youre in for a couple of days of discomfort but thats all. Obviously we have to make sure that you cant get awav, so you will be kept bound and gagged most of the time. Im sorry but theres nothing else for it.
She smiled reassuringly and gently stroked my shoulder-length hair. Ive sent
your friend Clive off thinking that you left on a sudden impulse to walk along the beach, she lied, and bv the time he returns well be gone. Now, lets have your arms round behind you. Thats right. This will hurt a little but if you keep still and relax your hands it wont be so bad.
With those words, she turned me face down again and with gentle but strong hands she brought my arms back together, crossed my wrists and began winding a long piece of thin cord about them. After three winds she made a tight double knot, working the cord firmly into the soft flesh of my wrists before doing so. Next she wound the ends of the the cord three more times around my wrists vertically so that they were secured in a very tight criss-cross. My fingers tingled and I soon learned to relax my hands in order still to experience some feeling in them. I did not struggle, for I knew it would be useless.
My ankles were tied together next, the second length of cord being wound about four times around them, knotted with a doubled knot, and then cinched between. I was rolled over and propped up with my back against one of the thick legs of the desk.
The woman spoke in a preoccupied, conversational manner while she rummaged through my bag. Thats a beautiful skirt youre wearing my dear. Pure silk taffeta isnt it? And it suits you. Its a pity it will get so creased and rumpled over the next few hours. Bad for your pride I suppose, being bound and gagged like this.
I did feel insulted by the gag in my mouth and the bonds at my wrists and ankles, and in response to her chiding I attempted to speak. But all that came out were indistinguishable sounds.
I see you can still be vehement about your predicament, the woman added, and as its my business to keep any noise bottled up as far as possible Im going to add insult to injury by muffling up your pretty mouth even more.
With that, she drew my chiffon stole from the handbag, spread it out on the floor and folded it over until it made a long narrow bandage about two or three inches wide. I was going to be gagged even tighter! Indignantly I protested through the cloth already pressing on my tongue but it was no use. Quickly and expertly she drew the center part of the long scarf between my teeth and tied it in one knot behind my neck. It pressed the wad already in my mouth farther back against my tongue. The ends were then wound around, across and over my mouth and lips and a double knot tied once more at the back.
The soft chiffon clung tenaciously around my face and jaw. It proved impossible to shift. All I could do was shake my head in a futile gesture. I found that the only sounds I could now make were faint, stifled grunts that would not be heard at any reasonable distance from me. I could perhaps be locked in a closet, and I was unable to make sufficient sound to be heard beyond that enclosed space. I hoped to goodness that nothing like that would happen because I had a fear of narrow places. Being tied was bad enough, but to be locked in a closet or, worse still, a trunk would terrify me.
In spite of my efforts to fight them back, tears came to my eyes and I bowed my head, not wanting my captor to take pleasure from my little girl whimperings. However, she merely stood a few moments looking down at me, then she turned and left the room. I had a few minutes on my own.
But what could I do in that time? My wrists were imprisoned tightly. There was no give at all in the cords. And my ankles likewise were immovable. I was still very weak and dizzy from the knockout drops they had given me - their effect seemed to be taking ages to wear off - and I was almost swooning from the muffling constriction of the gags cunningly tied in and over my mouth. With a whimper of hopelessness and near panic, I sank to the floor onto my side and closed my eyes. Oh please let this be a bad dream. But reality denied me that comfort. Scarcely knowing what I was doing, I rolled and tossed from side to side, trying involuntarily to free my mouth.
It did not take long for exhaustion to overtake me. I must have lost consciousness. Dimly I became aware of being carried by someone, wrapped in a heavy blanket and laid on my side across what turned out to be the back seat of a car. The vehicle started up, and for the first couple of minutes I swayed listlessly with each movement it made, to right or left, slowing, accelerating.
I may have been gagged and bound but I could still use my eyes, if I could work my head out from under the blanket. It was not as difficult as I expected it to be, and when the corner of the blanket fell away from my face I lifted my head painfully in an attempt to see from the back window where we were going. I could glimpse only trees and an occasional two-storied house or block of apartments. Then a line of streetlights came into view and I saw masts in the hazy air beyond. The cabin they were taking me to was in a boat! There was now little chance that I might be found if a maid or someone happened to see the message I had scrawled on the foot of the office wall. People would be looking in the hills and not around the marina!
The car drew to a halt. The driver slipped out soundlessly and opened one of the doors on my side. I had a fleeting sight of his teeth, almost obscured in shadow under the brim of the hat he wore, and then the blanket was pulled smotheringly over my face and I was lifted out. He seemed to walk a long way, carrying me in his arms as one might lift a child, before we descended a steep ramp and what seemed an even steeper ladder. The blanket was allowed to fall away from my head and shoulders and I saw that we were in what was really quite a large cabin.
I was carried across to a wide bunk that with its head frame looked more like a bed. It stood in a corner against one of the cabin walls, and as we approached my eyes went wide. Attached to the bunk at several points were sturdy cloth straps, like hospital restraining tapes. I was laid on the bunk face up and strapped down so securely that I felt cocooned. It seemed as though I could scarcely twitch a muscle.
One wide tape passed around my ankles. It was looped around them before being buckled to the other side of the bunk. Another strap passed across my thighs without being looped around them, but the one for my waist was wrapped around in the same way as my ankles. Two more straps over my upper body, below my breasts and above them across my shoulders, completed my helplessness. I was only able to move my head a little from side to side and had scarcely the strength to lift my head at all. My arms tied behind me were crushed beneath my body and pins and needles were beginning to shoot up them already. In a short time they were aching so badly that tears welled in my eyes. As the finishing touches of the strapping-up were done, the woman climbed into the cabin. Her male companion left without a word and she walked over to me and inspected my bonds critically.
Yes, she said when she had finished and straightened up, Thatll hold you quite well my dear. Its not very comfortable I know. In fact, by the morning itll be real torture, and I do promise to loosen your bonds then and restore circulation. But you see, you have to stay here for the present. Later well put you in a nice quiet basement in a comfortable armchair, but boats dont sail till morning and we dont want to draw attention to ourselves. We all have to wait until then.
She bent down again and inspected my gag closely, Mmm, she murmured, That gag looks pretty tight. Its hard to keep someone really quiet you know. One has to use plenty of cloth to absorb the sound, and to immobilize your mouth and jaw as much as possible. Small women are often easier to gag because they have softer voices. I noticed you were soft-spoken at our "party," which was all a trick. You have probably gathered by now no other guests were coming. And so this gag is working beautifully on you. Silk and chiffon, my dear, are materials that make excellent non-slip knots. It was very thoughtful of you to provide us with the materials that would make such a neat gag. Ill take it off you for awhile in the morning but for the present youll have to bear it.
I grunted and shook my head but she ignored me, turned and climbed back up the ladder. Soon after, the cabin door was closed and bolted - I heard a padlock snapped into place - and the cabin was plunged into darkness. There must have been a light switch under the steering cowling on the deck that controlled the interior lights.
Uselessly I strained against the broad straps holding me down, but I could make virtually no movement at all. My ankles and waist were held so rigidly that I could do nothing with the rest of my body, which was in any case only slightly less well trussed. After more than an hour of stirring, fluttering under the tapes and making faint squeals in my mouth or croakings in my throat, I turned my head to one side and tried to sleep. My arms were almost completely insensible by now, and if I did not move too often (how could I!) I could forget my discomfort for a time.
I slept fitfully for the rest of the night, waking occasionally in a sweat of fear and crying aloud through my gag against the constriction of my bonds. It was like waking to a nightmare each time, so that when the first light of dawn turned the porthole above my head gray I had no sleep to speak of. My eyes felt heavy and itchy and there was a continual throbbing in my temples from the gag. It seemed paradoxical that the silk and chiffon which I loved so much to wear as dresses and scarves, so soft, filmy and feminine to the touch, became smooth, clinging, immovable bands when they were tied as tightly as they were in and over my mouth and lips.
Part Two: Ocean Bound
The woman and man returned early. I could hear them walking about on the deck above me, and when the woman climbed down the ladder into the cabin the boat was already moving. She came across to where I lay and began to untie the knots of the cloth imprisoning my mouth.
As I promised, Im giving you some relief from your bonds, she said. It must have been an ordeal for you to lie here bound and gagged like this all night.
The chiffon and silk cloths came away from my face, the straps holding my body to the bunk were unfastened, and I was rolled onto my face and my wrists were freed. There was no feeling at first in my arms, but after half a minute they began to prickle and sting painfully as circulation returned to them. The woman massaged and kneaded my arms, wrists and hands using baby oil and after ten minutes my limbs felt like my own again. My mouth was dry from holding the silk wadding for so many hours and my attempt to speak a thank you ended in a fit of coughing. A glass of water was held to my lips and I drank gratefully.
By now the boat seemed to have picked up speed and was heaving in a swell which showed that we were outside the shelter of the bay. I was allowed to sit up and I could see the cliffs of the shore some distance away. My ankles were still bound, but it was such a relief to be able to move my arms and to have feeling restored to them that I did not worry about that. I had done plenty of thinking in the night and was more or less resigned to being their prisoner. At the same time I would remain alert for any opportunity to get away from them.
My legs are very stiff and cramped, I said. Cant they be freed too?
The woman shook her head. Theres not much chance that youd be able to make a break for it after lying trussed like a chicken all night, but I dont want to take any chances. Youre a valuable prize. Even now the ransom note is on its way to your uncle so you may not have to endure these indignities much longer, two days at the most. In the meantime ... and she took up the piece of thin sash cord which had been used to tie my wrists before, and gathered my hands together in front of me, I11 keep you tied down for the next hour till we reach port, but not as uncomfortably as before.
With that, she bound my wrists together in front of me and lay me back. My arms were drawn up above my head and the ends of the cord were lashed to a wooden slat in the bed-head behind me. There was no slack allowed, so I was unable to reach the knot, and this was made even more certain when the straps were refastened around my body so that my arms were stretched taut. It was only slightly less uncomfortable than when my arms were pinned beneath me, for the cords bit keenly into my wrists and I could feel my fingers tingling straight away.
The woman walked over to a cabinet on the far wall and from it took a roll of two-inch wide tape and a pair of scissors. With her back turned partially to me, she pulled out a strip of about six inches of tape and cut it from the dispenser. Holding the strip at each end, she advanced towards me. Knowing what was in store and hating the idea, I turned my head aside.
Its not really necessary to keep you gagged while were not on dry land, she said, But subjecting you to this is a sure way of making you more compliant and less willing to escape. You will fight against the bonds, the gag will make breathing difficult, and you will exhaust yourself quicker. Having your face muffled will make you a little feverish and less able to think clearly. The alternative way to do this would be to keep you drugged, but that would be dangerous for your health. In this instance, because we have only a short period on the water it would be impractical to use the scarves again, because 1 have some words I want you to put down on tape before we secure you in that comfortable chair I mentioned. Now. and her voice became hard, turn your head back like a good girl, with your lips together.
Reluctantly I obeyed. The tape was strapped neatly across my closed lips and smoothed down carefully so that it stuck to every part of my skin, the skin of my cheeks, my mouth and my lips themselves. The woman spoke again, this time with satisfaction.
That will discourage noise. Tape like that is fairly easy to work off, but if you do I promise you that I will make you very uncomfortable, by using all the tape in that dispenser, and Im sure you wont want that, would you?
I shook my head. She left me, helpless and suitably frightened. I worked my lips a little against the sticky material covering them. It stuck well and I did not try to force my jaws apart. I strained uselessly at my bonds. My arms were hurting again. There was nothing for it but to wait.
A change in the roll of the boat roused me from a kind of half drugged state that was induced by the constrictions on my body, as the woman had said. The boat was moving now through quieter waters. A few minutes later the woman re-entered the cabin. She was carrying a small portable tape recorder, which she set at the foot of the bunk. In answer to my questioning look she spoke.
Yes, weve arrived. Now listen. Im freeing your lips and, if you do what I say, they can remain free for the next hour or two. First, you are to speak into this tape recorder to your uncle. Tell him that you have been kidnapped, that it is not a hoax of any kind, and beg him to send the money as quickly as possible. Tell him that until the money is received you will be kept gagged and bound. Do you understand?
Secondly, we will be landing at an isolated part of the coast and you will be allowed to walk to the house where you will be held. The gag can remain off if I have your word not to scream. Do I have your word?
I nodded again. The straps were removed once again, my wrists freed and I was able to sit up. With quick, stinging movement the tape was peeled from my mouth. I put my hands to my face in reaction to the sharp but brief pain. Then with a shaky voice I spoke into the small hand-held microphone.
Uncle. This is Rona. They ... theyve told me you have the ransom note already. Its true, Ive been kidnapped and Ive spent the whole of last night tied up and gagged. Theyre going to keep me tied up that way until they get the money theyve asked for. Please send it to them. I hate being tied up...
And the microphone was snapped off.
Thatll do, said the woman. She untied my ankles and stood back. Try to walk.
I did, but it was several minutes before I was able to stumble on unsteady legs about the cabin. The boat in the meantime had moored at a small jetty, which I could see through the porthole. However, before we climbed the ladder to the deck a thick black silk scarf was tied over my eyes. I mounted the ladder at the womans bidding.
When we stood on the deck, my arms were drawn behind me and my wrists were tied together tightly as they had been before at the start of my abduction. I was guided down a platform, onto the wooden boards of the jetty and along a narrow sandy path that sloped upwards. The walk uphill, eventually over soft turf took about ten minutes. I was hustled up the steps to a house of some kind, there was the sound of a key turning in a lock, and my high-heeled shoes trod soft carpet.
Once we were inside, my eyes were freed and the bonds at my wrists were removed. The woman and I sat at a small table while the man of the team, still masked by his hat, served us with food and wine. It came in Continental style, a croissant, cheese, fruit, wine and coffee.
This will be your last meal for a day at least, said the woman, so eat well, Rona.
I did. After the meal, I was allowed to wash and tidy myself up, but I was watched lynx-like by the woman as I completed my toilette. In spite of my confinement for twelve hours, my clothing was not too disarrayed. The silk taffeta dress and white silk blouse were of the best quality and still looked presentable when I inspected myself in the bathroom mirror. And being able to clean my face, hands and arms made me feel refreshed and more relaxed. I sat quietly in one of the lounge room chairs while the woman relaxed similarly opposite me.
The one sign of my imprisonment was the figure of the man who stood on guard in front of the main door. I wondered what they were waiting for but it was not long before I knew. A telephone in the adjoining room jangled suddenly, making me start. The woman rose and left the room to answer it. I guessed this was Clive telling them of the progress of their scheme. The woman returned, nodded briefly to the man, and taking me firmly by the arm she brought me to my feet.
Its time for the next phase of our plan now, Rona sweet.
What are you going to do with me? I asked apprehensively.
As I promised you before, she continued, were going to make you comfortable in an easy chair.
The man had been standing a couple of paces behind me with a length of sash cord in his hands. Once more my arms were pulled back behind me and my wrists tied tightly together, only this time after being wound around by about three turns and double knotted, they were cinched between by the ends of the cord. Tied this way my hands were almost palm to palm. The tension at my wrists tended to draw my elbows towards the small of my back. A second piece of cord, probably the length that was used on my ankles, was employed now to secure my arms above the elbows.
I was forced to stand straight to attention, like dark-eyed Bess in the poem The Highwayman who was bound and gagged to the foot of her narrow bed. What a strange turn of mind to think that, I said to myself. But I knew why. Like the heroine in those kinds of adventure stories, I too was a prisoner. I was bound, and soon I would taste the clinging silk of a gag in my mouth again.
Thats very pretty, Rona. said the woman in honest admiration. I looked down at myself as additional lengths of cord were wound about my body, first two or three turns below my breasts then a couple of turns above, forcing them to lift against the silk of my blouse and highlighting the décolletage revealed by the V neckline. The cords were tight but not to the extent of being torture. However, I could not move my arms at all.
Come along, my pretty prisoner, and I was led to another part of the house and down narrow stone steps to a cellar.
It was different from what I had expected. For one thing, it was carpeted. Along one wall stood a well-stocked bar. Against another wall was a color television. But set in the center of the floor, in fact bolted there, was a padded leather armchair. It had a tall straight narrow back and armrests.
This, said the woman with a theatrical sweep of her hands, is your prison from now on. You will be strapped into this chair and there you will have to wait until our return. If the ransom money comes through quickly enough, that wont be for much longer than a day.
Thats long enough to spend tied up, I replied.
I then turned defiantly to the woman and the masked man and added, Youd better finish tying me up as quickly as possible and go. The sooner we get this done the quicker Ill be free again.
With that, I sat down carefully in the chair. It was comfortable as promised, but at the same time it was a little awkward because my arms were between my body and the back of the chair. I remained sitting proudly and quietly while the same straps that had been used on the boat to fasten me to the bunk were employed again. One was passed twice around my waist and the chair and buckled firmly. Another circled me below my breasts. A third was secured across my thighs and the seat of the chair. However, they tied my ankles together with another piece of thin cord, cinched in the middle in what had proved to be an expert knot, and did the same for my legs just above my knees. Here, the taffeta of my dress, and to a lesser extent my sheer black stockings, served to cushion the pressure of the thin cords a little. Finally, a short strap fastened my bound ankles to one of the chair legs. I looked down at myself again. It was hard to believe that this was really happening to me and that the young womans body I saw so thoroughly strapped up was my own. I strained in the bonds, but to no avail.
There are one or two final touches yet, my dear, before we go, said the woman.
From her bag she produced a handful of silks, my black and pink neck scarf, my blue chiffon stole, and the black scarf which had been used to blindfold me. My neck scarf was still as it had been when used as a gag, folded around a wadded handkerchief.
This comes first Rona, open your mouth and relax your jaw.
With a reluctant murmur, I obeyed, and in a short time the folded silk filled my mouth. The black scarf that had been my blindfold was folded into a pad and packed into the front of my mouth between my teeth as far as it would go before it was stopped by the wadding already fixed deeper in my mouth. Then the chiffon scarf was bound very tightly between my teeth to hold the wad in place, and the two ends wound around face and jaw as before. I could breathe with difficulty through my mouth and with a mental effort I switched to breathing through my nose. Shaking my head from side to side had no effect at all in dislodging the gagging arrangement. I was well and truly held and silenced.
An instant photograph was taken of me in this state. The woman remarked cheerily that this was to convince my uncle and his agents that the tape recording was not faked. A light was left glowing softly in one of the corners, and as a parting gesture the television set was switched on. The door was locked. I was alone but with entertainment.
For some minutes I sat quietly thinking about the irony of this. Next, I turned my attention to my plight and wriggled and strained in the cords and straps, testing them but with little hope that they would afford a chance of escape. It did not take me long to realize how well my gags had been applied, and after some futile murmurings and an attempt to rub my face against my shoulder I came to accept my fate. In weary surrender I rested my head back and watched the TV, every so often shifting my position slightly in the chair. There was no escape from the ties that held me.
The hours dragged by. I had always hated daylight shows on TV, had hardly ever watched them. On this day, ironically, two cliffhanger movies were shown whose heroines shared my plight. At one oclock in the afternoon, I watched Linda Stirling in an old 1940s movie, Cyclotrode X, which I remembered was the feature version of the serial The Crimson Ghost. Linda, in the role of a scientists daughter, sat bound to a chair next to a box of TNT, a white handkerchief tied over her mouth. She succeeded in slipping it over her chin in time to call a warning to the hero, who duly freed her.
In the evening, following a very uncomfortable day during which I struggled twice to exhaustion, I saw with great surprise the film I had thought about whimsically that morning, The Highwayman. In it, Wanda Hendrix played the part of black-haired Bess. Captured by the soldiers, she was tied standing to a bedpost and gloated over, a pink chiffon scarf tied over her mouth. That wouldnt gag her properly, I thought.
I wished that I had only that thin slip of material over my mouth instead of the very thorough gags I now wore. My head was splitting and I was beginning to feel weak and sick after sitting helpless, my mouth filled and smothered with silk, for more than twelve hours.
There was no means by which I could escape. I could not bounce the chair to any point in the room where glass or something could be broken because it was fixed to the floor. My wrists were expertly secured and struggling only tightened the cunningly cinched knots that held them. Scarcely any sound escaped from my cruelly bound mouth, even if there had been anyone near to hear my cries.
My kidnappers knew their business. All I could do was to wait in increasing panic as the cloth between my jaws slowly dried and threatened to choke me with each straining breath. I passed out several times, and dropped off in an exhausted nap once. By the time daylight filtered through a ventilator high in the wall near the ceiling, my body was either numb, my arms and hands, or aching unbearably, in my back and along my sides which were cramped from sitting in the one spot for so long.
I lost all track of time. It may have been mid-morning, or was it mid-afternoon, when I heard a sound at the door to my prison? There was the snap of the key turning in the large lock and the heavy paneled door swung open on its wide hinges. The woman stood on the threshold, silhouetted by the light behind her. She walked over to me, inspected my gags and quickly set about untying them. I lost consciousness.
When I opened my eyes, I found myself lying on the couch of the living room in the main part of the house. An attempt to move revealed that my ankles were still tied together. My hands had been secured in front of me however, and I was not gagged. I turned my head. The room was empty. On a table nearby lay a pile of cord and scarves. I struggled upright and found that my limbs and body responded better than I expected. They felt somehow rested and I could smell the faint perfume of soothing oil on my arms. While unconscious, I had been massaged back to life, or that was how the exquisite feeling of relaxation felt.
The woman appeared suddenly in the doorway leading from the kitchen, dressed for traveling in a smart suit. Were taking you home, she said cheerily, Everything went like clockwork. You frightened me when I came to free you because you looked so sick. But Ive taken steps to make you feel better. Ill untie your ankles so you can freshen up, then well take you back to the docks.
It did not take me long to get myself ready. I allowed them to bind my wrists behind my back again and I was blindfolded with the black scarf and gagged by the combination of wadded silk and bandaged chiffon that I had almost grown used to. On the boat my ankles were tied but I was not strapped down. I dozed exhausted. Bound hand and foot and still gagged and blindfolded, I was left in some sort of warehouse on the wharves.
About six hours later the police and concerned friends found me, and my ordeal was over.
No one had found that plea in lipstick I had left on the wall of the townhouse, and anyway my message would have misled them. Strangely, I felt charitable towards that woman and I hoped she would get away safely. Someday well meet again, I promised myself, and then things will be a lot different. I felt a little sorry for Clive too. Though he was well heeled himself, his greed for more wealth was to land him in prison - when they caught up with him.
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