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Mina Berkeley's Voyage

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Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
speck and mote
Lovely choice of words, most appropriate for the time and place!
We will prevail. We will bring these people to justice. Whatever it takes! The world may be against us, but we have each other.”
A more serious version of what we often hear from Moore.

You have engineered a remarkable turn in the story. From the exploitation and abuse and suffering of the sisters (here and in Diocletian's story), hope is provided of release and recompense. One simply cannot help but continue to follow.
 

Jon Smithie

Governor
Another chapter of the Mina Berkeley saga:


LAURA’S BEDSIDE MANNER


Laura was a devoted nurse.

Through long days and nights she bathed Mina when Mina was feverish, and calmed her and caressed her and cooed to her when she was delirious. She spoon fed her cool water at all hours of the day and night when Mina was calm and conscious enough to swallow. She kept her wounds scrupulously clean and bandaged, cleaned her and her linens when she urinated or moved her bowels. She changed the linens as often as she needed, for she had mentioned the need to Mr. Flaywell, and he, well aware of Madame Louisa’s parsimony, spoke to Madame Louisa on the subject in no uncertain terms, and afterwards there had been no shortage of clean linen and towels.

Laura weaned herself off Laudanum, strictly limiting herself to the smallest dose that reduced the distracting craving for it, and realized, after an especially trying time, when Mina seemed near death, that she had gone an entire day without any. And from that moment on she turned away from it. Laura knew Madame Louisa left the bottle on the table in the chamber to tempt and torment her, and as a way of demonstrating to Laura her ever deepening spiral into shame as she cheated her own sister of her badly needed relief.

But in this Madam Louisa underestimated Laura’s resolve. The bottle, mocking Laura every time she glanced at it, only strengthened her determination to shake off her habit and devote herself to her sister.

Doctor Prentiss made frequent visits when Mina was at her worst. To Laura’s relief, he did not expect her to perform for him every time he visited, but then, within a few days of Mina improving, he did.

After examining Mina, Dr. Prentiss expressed his satisfaction with Laura’s care.

“I suppose it must be said that you are taking adequate care of your sister, Loretta,” he said.

He sat down on the chair and started unlacing his shoes. “Now suppose you take adequate care of me as well, as a way of thanking me for saving your sister’s life?”

With her mind less dulled by the Laudanum, for at the time she had not completely overcome her dependency, Laura felt a burst of defiance in her at the humiliating acts he expected her to perform. And in the presence of her sister! What if Mina were to awaken and look upon her sister’s humiliation and subservience? The thought was nearly unbearable! She felt a hot flush of anger and outrage.

But hard experience had taught her to bank her temper. “Loretta, you seem hesitant.” Dr. Prentiss said. “Come, I haven’t all day.”

She removed her shift and crawled on all fours to Doctor Prentiss. But instead of bowing to lick his feet, she leaned back on her haunches.

“Loretta, what is it?” Doctor Prentiss asked.

Laura hung her head. “Doctor,” she said, “It’s only that Mr. Flaywell has questioned me closely about the care of my sister. He asks me if Madame Louisa allows me to attend her, or if she puts me to other work, or if anyone else . . . is distracting me.”

Laura darted her eyes at the doctor. His face flushed with displeasure and what else?--a touch of alarm, perhaps fear?

“And what have you told him, Loretta?”

“I only told him about the linens, Doctor Prentiss, that I didn’t have enough to keep my sister clean. That is all I told him. I did not know if he would consider. . . what we do. . . a distraction. I fear him, Doctor Prentiss. I don’t think he is a nice man, like you. And he keeps asking me these questions, as though he doesn’t trust me to care for my own sister properly. I don’t know what he would do if he finds out about . . . us”

“Ha ha!” Dr. Prentiss laughed. “Put your mind at ease, Loretta, Mr. Flaywell and I understand each other.” As though an afterthought, Doctor Prentiss added, “But no need to mention our little game to him.” He patted Laura on the head. “I suppose I should be getting on. Other patients to see, you know. I shall check in again tomorrow.”

He put his shoes and hose back on and without another word left the chamber, and afterwards, bothered her no further.



Flaywell visited as well, but not as frequently, for the demands of preparing Smythie’s fleet to sail crowded all the hours of his day until at last the fleet weighed anchors and left the African coast, bound for New South Wales.

Of course Laura had not spoken to him about Doctor Prentiss; it didn’t occur to her that he would care what happened to her, as long as she did as she was bid. Nor indeed had Flaywell asked. To him, she was little more than a useful tool.

He seemed so cold and lifeless. Laura knew enough of men by now to be wary of him. She could sense that there was something not quite right about him, something dark. When he came he would have her leave the chamber.

Laura was loath to leave her sister with this man. The first time she had pleaded with him to be allowed to stay. She promised she would make no noise, but sit quietly in the corner, but Flaywell had regarded her with those cold eyes. He had responded to her distress with what was meant as reassurance. “No,” he said, “I shall not disturb your sister, I only wish to examine her,” and indicated the door with a firmness that brooked no further discussion.

Nonetheless, Laura had again nearly balked, but, as she had with Doctor Prentiss, reminded herself what her privileged righteousness and obstinacy had cost her. She knew she could not outmaneuver Flaywell, as she had Prentiss, and that to defy Flaywell meant, at the very least, to be separated from Mina.

She left the chamber without further demurral.



She did not know what Flaywell did with Mina when he was alone with her. She could imagine, but feared it was probably more disturbing than that. And yet when she was readmitted to the chamber, Flaywell appeared to have been as good as his word. Mina always seemed undisturbed, resting peacefully after Flaywell’s visits, and Laura could see no sign that Flaywell had abused her in any of the obvious ways.

“Are you feeding her?” Was all Flaywell had asked her. “She is becoming too thin. You must feed her.”

He seemed to accept her explanation that all Mina would take was water, and that only when she was calm. But he ordered Madame Louisa to prepare meat broths for Mina.

Laura concentrated on her one purpose, that of bringing her sister back to health. She did not know what the future held for either of them, nor did she waste time ruminating about it. But there was enough of that old righteousness and defiance that had reignited within her. But no longer for justice. Now she wanted vengeance.

Vengeance, first and foremost, for what they had done to her little sister.

Her old desire to improve the lot of the lower classes, or to obtain justice for herself, had fallen to a very distant, unremembered second.

The key was getting Mina strong again. She had faith that with Mina on her feet, and the two of them united in a common purpose, they would make those who had made them suffer pay. Laura did not know how they would bring that about, but she had heard things that perhaps could be put to use.



Men have a tendency to speak with unguarded tongues around whores. Laura had heard, or heard at second hand of the various schemes and plots of men who came and went in Cape Coast. Her mind had been too dull at the time to make use of such knowledge, but not so dull she could not now remember. She also knew there was unrest in the entire colony over the corrupt and unjust rule of the Governor and the Judge and their associates. She and Mina were not the only ones to suffer under their administration. She knew that Commodore Smythie and several of his captains were corrupt, and were smuggling women and slaves to America and the Caribbean. She knew Flaywell was involved in that scheme.

She knew that what had been done to her sister had provided the first spark of resistance, and that it was possible that the spark could become a flame.



Over the weeks that followed, Mina’s wounds slowly healed, the dangerous infections in her brands and in the wounds in her buttocks finally began to heal, leaving awful scars as a reminder of her ordeal. Slowly she emerged from her fever dreams and her delirium. Too weak to feed herself, nonetheless she began to have more of an appetite, and Laura fed her chicken broth and porridge, cooing to her and kissing her forehead.

All Mina remembered for days after she returned to consciousness was the dark angel who had protected her and the bright angel who had tended her like a mother bird does her chick. The bright angel she knew was her sister Laura. She could not think who the dark angel was.

For a time she did not remember what had brought her to such a pass, or why she was in pain. There were awful fleeting dreams that scudded like dark clouds across her memory, and as those clouds gathered she became more fearful. Now it was not the fever that made her cry out, but the dreams of awful suffering that would leave her wringing wet and gasping in horrified and panicked wakefulness.

And as Mina’s dreams became memories, Laura took to sleeping in the bed with her. She cuddled her and caressed her as Mina spoke of the things that had been done to her. When Mina was too weak to talk any longer, Laura would take over and sing lullabies.

It was the only way Mina could fall asleep, on her side with Laura spooning her, Laura’s body pressed tightly against her back in the narrow bed, Laura’s warm hands caressing the length of her, her warm breath trembling against the back of Mina’s neck, her soft voice whispering endearments or singing lullabies in her ear.

But Laura had been too long in this house learning the ways of the flesh. She had been forced to give pleasure without intimacy, to pretend passion she didn’t feel, to welcome love empty of any promise. And as Laura eased her sister into sleep, as she stroked her sister’s body, as she whispered to her and kissed her neck, her feelings became confused.

She had longed for an intimacy and love that had been denied her, indeed, held up as nothing but a mockery during her time at Madame Louisa’s. She had been subjected to unending abuse and humiliation, an object of contempt even to the other whores. She was after all, a member of the upper class, a beautiful and privileged young woman who had been handed all the advantages of life, and who had no doubt looked down on all of those she now found herself among. Such was the view of the occupants of the house, and they had treated Laura accordingly.

But now Laura could give comfort and even pleasure to someone she truly loved. And one night, almost without thought, following an urge that must have expression, she lifted Mina’s shift, and stroked her bare thigh. She nuzzled Mina’s neck and kissed her cheek, and Mina, half asleep, sighed in contentment and nestled herself more deeply against Laura. Laura smiled, caressing the length of Mina’s body from her shoulder to her thigh. A body that she knew better than her own by now. Mina was painfully thin, but her skin was still supple and soft, though marred in places by scars, but not nearly to the extent that Laura’s back had been. At last Laura left her hand on Mina’s hip, gently stroking the rounded crest with her thumb. She could feel Mina’s chest rise and fall as her body eased deeper into the comfort of sleep. Laura smiled, and slowly reached down and pulled the hem of Mina’s shift up to her hip. She paused as Mina twitched, and then, feeling Mina’s body relax again, she continued to stroke her bare hip. Mina sighed in contentment, for there is nothing more relaxing to a human body than the caring touch of another human.

Laura continued to caress Mina, drifting her hand up to trace the ridges of her ribs as well. Her hand brushed across Mina’s belly. The flesh was wonderfully warm and soft, and Laura felt herself becoming delightfully warm herself in response. Warm as toast, warm as a sunny summer day.

Her hand dipped lower, against the fringe of Mina’s pubis.

Mina swam up from her twilight sleep. “Laura?”

“It’s alright, Mina. Remember what they have done to us. We can only trust each other. We can only care for each other. We can only love each other. Let me give you pleasure.”

“Laura, no.”

“We need feel no shame, not any more. They have stripped us of shame. They have shamed themselves. But we shall repay them. Let us think no more of them. Let me give you pleasure.”

It was true, Mina thought. Her mind was hazy with sleep and weariness, but she fully remembered how she and her sister had suffered. We have only each other to rely on. We have only each other to trust. To love.

What Laura offered was wrong. And in a time past Mina would never have considered it, much less accepted it. Neither of them. But Laura was right. They had been stripped of shame. No, freed of shame.

What would the future bring? Better not to think about it.

Mina put her hand over her sister’s. She entwined their fingers and gave Laura’s hand a weak squeeze. Then slowly Mina moved her sister’s hand down against her, Mina’s sex, and opened her legs.

“We only have each other to love,” Mina whispered.

Laura’s hand dipped lower against Mina’s pubic mound, gently tousling her pubic hair and then teasing Mina’s outer labia, stroking a finger up and down, easing open the folds of skin, tracing the inner length of the wonderfully silken flesh.

“Oh,” Mina sighed. “Laura.”

Laura’s questing finger explored the delicate threshold of Mina’s most inner sanctum, stroking the silken entryway, and then entered.

Laura kissed Mina on the neck, nuzzling her, whispering to her. And Mina responded, sighing deeply, her breath warm against her pillow, pressing Laura’s hand more firmly against her mound. Laura did not intrude too deeply, but instead pulled her finger back, her finger now lubricated with Mina’s desire, and eased open the hood of flesh covering Mina’s clitoris. She stroked a magic circle around the button, and then let the very tip of her finger rest on the tip of the nubbin of exquisitely sensitive flesh.

Mina gasped. And bore Laura’s hand down harder. Laura began rubbing her finger over the little button slowly at first, and then, as Mina’s body responded, with ever greater vigor and force.

At last Mina gasped out her pleasure, and held Laura’s hand in a grip whose strength neither of them suspected she still possessed. Mina ground her pubis against Laura’s hand, until grunting, she trembled in pleasure, and then relaxed, exhausted.

Laura pulled the shift back down over Mina’s thighs. “You are recovering nicely, Mina,” Laura whispered. “Soon you will be strong again. Now sleep little sister. I don’t think you’ll need you’re Laudanum tonight,” she teased. “Perhaps never again.”

“Laura,” Mina said. “We must never do that again. We must ask forgiveness of God.”

“Mina,” Laura said, “There is nothing to forgive. We have only each other to love.”



In the parlor above, Madame Louisa welcomed a group of randy young naval officers from a squadron of ships that had recently anchored in the bight. Such was the story at Madame Louisa’s. One fleet sailed, another anchored. Madame Louisa’s was rarely becalmed for long.

She flirted with the young men, teasing them and offering up her well worn double entendres while offering them drinks and encouraging them to make their selections, mentally weighing their purses as she did so.

She recognized another young man stepping up to the porch.

She did not like this young man, for he was truculent and vindictive and could be rough with the girls, especially when he was in his cups. He was the sort of man who envied and resented the attainments of others while believing that his own far superior gifts went unrecognized.

Still, he had performed his part admirably at the flogging of Laura Berkeley. It was quite obvious to all who had witnessed it, as Madame Louisa had from the shore, that he quite enjoyed the duty.

What was his name? Uncharacteristically for her, his name had slipped Madame Louisa’s memory. And he had been a regular customer. The name was something common. Something with an H.

“You must find yourself one of our girls, Lieutenant,” Madame Louisa said, jesting with him, “And right quick, lest I have you whipped for vagrancy!”

“Ha!” the Lieutenant said, “You remember my little jest, do you, Madame?”

“Who could forget, sir?” Madame Louisa said, her eyes lighting at the memory. “Having just returned from escorting that slender young thing, Laura Berkeley, for her flogging round the fleet, you threatened to have her whipped for vagrancy if she did not move from the beach! You are a delightfully cruel and wicked man, Lieutenant! I hope you shall not treat my girls in such a manner.”

The man grimaced at her, his eyes impatiently roaming the parlor to pick out a desirable partner. “Your whores are too fat, Madame,” He said. “I like ‘em thin.”

Madame Louisa paused, considering a delightful, if risky, prospect. And suddenly she remembered his name. It was a sign.

“I may have just the girl for you, Lieutenant Hudson,” she said.
 

Fossy

Tribune
Another chapter of the Mina Berkeley saga:


LAURA’S BEDSIDE MANNER


Laura was a devoted nurse.

Through long days and nights she bathed Mina when Mina was feverish, and calmed her and caressed her and cooed to her when she was delirious. She spoon fed her cool water at all hours of the day and night when Mina was calm and conscious enough to swallow. She kept her wounds scrupulously clean and bandaged, cleaned her and her linens when she urinated or moved her bowels. She changed the linens as often as she needed, for she had mentioned the need to Mr. Flaywell, and he, well aware of Madame Louisa’s parsimony, spoke to Madame Louisa on the subject in no uncertain terms, and afterwards there had been no shortage of clean linen and towels.

Laura weaned herself off Laudanum, strictly limiting herself to the smallest dose that reduced the distracting craving for it, and realized, after an especially trying time, when Mina seemed near death, that she had gone an entire day without any. And from that moment on she turned away from it. Laura knew Madame Louisa left the bottle on the table in the chamber to tempt and torment her, and as a way of demonstrating to Laura her ever deepening spiral into shame as she cheated her own sister of her badly needed relief.

But in this Madam Louisa underestimated Laura’s resolve. The bottle, mocking Laura every time she glanced at it, only strengthened her determination to shake off her habit and devote herself to her sister.

Doctor Prentiss made frequent visits when Mina was at her worst. To Laura’s relief, he did not expect her to perform for him every time he visited, but then, within a few days of Mina improving, he did.

After examining Mina, Dr. Prentiss expressed his satisfaction with Laura’s care.

“I suppose it must be said that you are taking adequate care of your sister, Loretta,” he said.

He sat down on the chair and started unlacing his shoes. “Now suppose you take adequate care of me as well, as a way of thanking me for saving your sister’s life?”

With her mind less dulled by the Laudanum, for at the time she had not completely overcome her dependency, Laura felt a burst of defiance in her at the humiliating acts he expected her to perform. And in the presence of her sister! What if Mina were to awaken and look upon her sister’s humiliation and subservience? The thought was nearly unbearable! She felt a hot flush of anger and outrage.

But hard experience had taught her to bank her temper. “Loretta, you seem hesitant.” Dr. Prentiss said. “Come, I haven’t all day.”

She removed her shift and crawled on all fours to Doctor Prentiss. But instead of bowing to lick his feet, she leaned back on her haunches.

“Loretta, what is it?” Doctor Prentiss asked.

Laura hung her head. “Doctor,” she said, “It’s only that Mr. Flaywell has questioned me closely about the care of my sister. He asks me if Madame Louisa allows me to attend her, or if she puts me to other work, or if anyone else . . . is distracting me.”

Laura darted her eyes at the doctor. His face flushed with displeasure and what else?--a touch of alarm, perhaps fear?

“And what have you told him, Loretta?”

“I only told him about the linens, Doctor Prentiss, that I didn’t have enough to keep my sister clean. That is all I told him. I did not know if he would consider. . . what we do. . . a distraction. I fear him, Doctor Prentiss. I don’t think he is a nice man, like you. And he keeps asking me these questions, as though he doesn’t trust me to care for my own sister properly. I don’t know what he would do if he finds out about . . . us”

“Ha ha!” Dr. Prentiss laughed. “Put your mind at ease, Loretta, Mr. Flaywell and I understand each other.” As though an afterthought, Doctor Prentiss added, “But no need to mention our little game to him.” He patted Laura on the head. “I suppose I should be getting on. Other patients to see, you know. I shall check in again tomorrow.”

He put his shoes and hose back on and without another word left the chamber, and afterwards, bothered her no further.



Flaywell visited as well, but not as frequently, for the demands of preparing Smythie’s fleet to sail crowded all the hours of his day until at last the fleet weighed anchors and left the African coast, bound for New South Wales.

Of course Laura had not spoken to him about Doctor Prentiss; it didn’t occur to her that he would care what happened to her, as long as she did as she was bid. Nor indeed had Flaywell asked. To him, she was little more than a useful tool.

He seemed so cold and lifeless. Laura knew enough of men by now to be wary of him. She could sense that there was something not quite right about him, something dark. When he came he would have her leave the chamber.

Laura was loath to leave her sister with this man. The first time she had pleaded with him to be allowed to stay. She promised she would make no noise, but sit quietly in the corner, but Flaywell had regarded her with those cold eyes. He had responded to her distress with what was meant as reassurance. “No,” he said, “I shall not disturb your sister, I only wish to examine her,” and indicated the door with a firmness that brooked no further discussion.

Nonetheless, Laura had again nearly balked, but, as she had with Doctor Prentiss, reminded herself what her privileged righteousness and obstinacy had cost her. She knew she could not outmaneuver Flaywell, as she had Prentiss, and that to defy Flaywell meant, at the very least, to be separated from Mina.

She left the chamber without further demurral.



She did not know what Flaywell did with Mina when he was alone with her. She could imagine, but feared it was probably more disturbing than that. And yet when she was readmitted to the chamber, Flaywell appeared to have been as good as his word. Mina always seemed undisturbed, resting peacefully after Flaywell’s visits, and Laura could see no sign that Flaywell had abused her in any of the obvious ways.

“Are you feeding her?” Was all Flaywell had asked her. “She is becoming too thin. You must feed her.”

He seemed to accept her explanation that all Mina would take was water, and that only when she was calm. But he ordered Madame Louisa to prepare meat broths for Mina.

Laura concentrated on her one purpose, that of bringing her sister back to health. She did not know what the future held for either of them, nor did she waste time ruminating about it. But there was enough of that old righteousness and defiance that had reignited within her. But no longer for justice. Now she wanted vengeance.

Vengeance, first and foremost, for what they had done to her little sister.

Her old desire to improve the lot of the lower classes, or to obtain justice for herself, had fallen to a very distant, unremembered second.

The key was getting Mina strong again. She had faith that with Mina on her feet, and the two of them united in a common purpose, they would make those who had made them suffer pay. Laura did not know how they would bring that about, but she had heard things that perhaps could be put to use.



Men have a tendency to speak with unguarded tongues around whores. Laura had heard, or heard at second hand of the various schemes and plots of men who came and went in Cape Coast. Her mind had been too dull at the time to make use of such knowledge, but not so dull she could not now remember. She also knew there was unrest in the entire colony over the corrupt and unjust rule of the Governor and the Judge and their associates. She and Mina were not the only ones to suffer under their administration. She knew that Commodore Smythie and several of his captains were corrupt, and were smuggling women and slaves to America and the Caribbean. She knew Flaywell was involved in that scheme.

She knew that what had been done to her sister had provided the first spark of resistance, and that it was possible that the spark could become a flame.



Over the weeks that followed, Mina’s wounds slowly healed, the dangerous infections in her brands and in the wounds in her buttocks finally began to heal, leaving awful scars as a reminder of her ordeal. Slowly she emerged from her fever dreams and her delirium. Too weak to feed herself, nonetheless she began to have more of an appetite, and Laura fed her chicken broth and porridge, cooing to her and kissing her forehead.

All Mina remembered for days after she returned to consciousness was the dark angel who had protected her and the bright angel who had tended her like a mother bird does her chick. The bright angel she knew was her sister Laura. She could not think who the dark angel was.

For a time she did not remember what had brought her to such a pass, or why she was in pain. There were awful fleeting dreams that scudded like dark clouds across her memory, and as those clouds gathered she became more fearful. Now it was not the fever that made her cry out, but the dreams of awful suffering that would leave her wringing wet and gasping in horrified and panicked wakefulness.

And as Mina’s dreams became memories, Laura took to sleeping in the bed with her. She cuddled her and caressed her as Mina spoke of the things that had been done to her. When Mina was too weak to talk any longer, Laura would take over and sing lullabies.

It was the only way Mina could fall asleep, on her side with Laura spooning her, Laura’s body pressed tightly against her back in the narrow bed, Laura’s warm hands caressing the length of her, her warm breath trembling against the back of Mina’s neck, her soft voice whispering endearments or singing lullabies in her ear.

But Laura had been too long in this house learning the ways of the flesh. She had been forced to give pleasure without intimacy, to pretend passion she didn’t feel, to welcome love empty of any promise. And as Laura eased her sister into sleep, as she stroked her sister’s body, as she whispered to her and kissed her neck, her feelings became confused.

She had longed for an intimacy and love that had been denied her, indeed, held up as nothing but a mockery during her time at Madame Louisa’s. She had been subjected to unending abuse and humiliation, an object of contempt even to the other whores. She was after all, a member of the upper class, a beautiful and privileged young woman who had been handed all the advantages of life, and who had no doubt looked down on all of those she now found herself among. Such was the view of the occupants of the house, and they had treated Laura accordingly.

But now Laura could give comfort and even pleasure to someone she truly loved. And one night, almost without thought, following an urge that must have expression, she lifted Mina’s shift, and stroked her bare thigh. She nuzzled Mina’s neck and kissed her cheek, and Mina, half asleep, sighed in contentment and nestled herself more deeply against Laura. Laura smiled, caressing the length of Mina’s body from her shoulder to her thigh. A body that she knew better than her own by now. Mina was painfully thin, but her skin was still supple and soft, though marred in places by scars, but not nearly to the extent that Laura’s back had been. At last Laura left her hand on Mina’s hip, gently stroking the rounded crest with her thumb. She could feel Mina’s chest rise and fall as her body eased deeper into the comfort of sleep. Laura smiled, and slowly reached down and pulled the hem of Mina’s shift up to her hip. She paused as Mina twitched, and then, feeling Mina’s body relax again, she continued to stroke her bare hip. Mina sighed in contentment, for there is nothing more relaxing to a human body than the caring touch of another human.

Laura continued to caress Mina, drifting her hand up to trace the ridges of her ribs as well. Her hand brushed across Mina’s belly. The flesh was wonderfully warm and soft, and Laura felt herself becoming delightfully warm herself in response. Warm as toast, warm as a sunny summer day.

Her hand dipped lower, against the fringe of Mina’s pubis.

Mina swam up from her twilight sleep. “Laura?”

“It’s alright, Mina. Remember what they have done to us. We can only trust each other. We can only care for each other. We can only love each other. Let me give you pleasure.”

“Laura, no.”

“We need feel no shame, not any more. They have stripped us of shame. They have shamed themselves. But we shall repay them. Let us think no more of them. Let me give you pleasure.”

It was true, Mina thought. Her mind was hazy with sleep and weariness, but she fully remembered how she and her sister had suffered. We have only each other to rely on. We have only each other to trust. To love.

What Laura offered was wrong. And in a time past Mina would never have considered it, much less accepted it. Neither of them. But Laura was right. They had been stripped of shame. No, freed of shame.

What would the future bring? Better not to think about it.

Mina put her hand over her sister’s. She entwined their fingers and gave Laura’s hand a weak squeeze. Then slowly Mina moved her sister’s hand down against her, Mina’s sex, and opened her legs.

“We only have each other to love,” Mina whispered.

Laura’s hand dipped lower against Mina’s pubic mound, gently tousling her pubic hair and then teasing Mina’s outer labia, stroking a finger up and down, easing open the folds of skin, tracing the inner length of the wonderfully silken flesh.

“Oh,” Mina sighed. “Laura.”

Laura’s questing finger explored the delicate threshold of Mina’s most inner sanctum, stroking the silken entryway, and then entered.

Laura kissed Mina on the neck, nuzzling her, whispering to her. And Mina responded, sighing deeply, her breath warm against her pillow, pressing Laura’s hand more firmly against her mound. Laura did not intrude too deeply, but instead pulled her finger back, her finger now lubricated with Mina’s desire, and eased open the hood of flesh covering Mina’s clitoris. She stroked a magic circle around the button, and then let the very tip of her finger rest on the tip of the nubbin of exquisitely sensitive flesh.

Mina gasped. And bore Laura’s hand down harder. Laura began rubbing her finger over the little button slowly at first, and then, as Mina’s body responded, with ever greater vigor and force.

At last Mina gasped out her pleasure, and held Laura’s hand in a grip whose strength neither of them suspected she still possessed. Mina ground her pubis against Laura’s hand, until grunting, she trembled in pleasure, and then relaxed, exhausted.

Laura pulled the shift back down over Mina’s thighs. “You are recovering nicely, Mina,” Laura whispered. “Soon you will be strong again. Now sleep little sister. I don’t think you’ll need you’re Laudanum tonight,” she teased. “Perhaps never again.”

“Laura,” Mina said. “We must never do that again. We must ask forgiveness of God.”

“Mina,” Laura said, “There is nothing to forgive. We have only each other to love.”



In the parlor above, Madame Louisa welcomed a group of randy young naval officers from a squadron of ships that had recently anchored in the bight. Such was the story at Madame Louisa’s. One fleet sailed, another anchored. Madame Louisa’s was rarely becalmed for long.

She flirted with the young men, teasing them and offering up her well worn double entendres while offering them drinks and encouraging them to make their selections, mentally weighing their purses as she did so.

She recognized another young man stepping up to the porch.

She did not like this young man, for he was truculent and vindictive and could be rough with the girls, especially when he was in his cups. He was the sort of man who envied and resented the attainments of others while believing that his own far superior gifts went unrecognized.

Still, he had performed his part admirably at the flogging of Laura Berkeley. It was quite obvious to all who had witnessed it, as Madame Louisa had from the shore, that he quite enjoyed the duty.

What was his name? Uncharacteristically for her, his name had slipped Madame Louisa’s memory. And he had been a regular customer. The name was something common. Something with an H.

“You must find yourself one of our girls, Lieutenant,” Madame Louisa said, jesting with him, “And right quick, lest I have you whipped for vagrancy!”

“Ha!” the Lieutenant said, “You remember my little jest, do you, Madame?”

“Who could forget, sir?” Madame Louisa said, her eyes lighting at the memory. “Having just returned from escorting that slender young thing, Laura Berkeley, for her flogging round the fleet, you threatened to have her whipped for vagrancy if she did not move from the beach! You are a delightfully cruel and wicked man, Lieutenant! I hope you shall not treat my girls in such a manner.”

The man grimaced at her, his eyes impatiently roaming the parlor to pick out a desirable partner. “Your whores are too fat, Madame,” He said. “I like ‘em thin.”

Madame Louisa paused, considering a delightful, if risky, prospect. And suddenly she remembered his name. It was a sign.

“I may have just the girl for you, Lieutenant Hudson,” she said.
What a great read, and the reference to Laura's 'whipping around the fleet' towards the end of the piece was a timely reminder of the true nature of the total vengeance sought by the Berkeley sisters! As for the sisterly sexual interlude, that was a most erotic piece of writing. But now we have the return of Lieutenant Hudson - will this be a an opportunity to begin the road to revenge or just an occasion for further humiliation and punishment to be inflicted? I am waiting eagerly to find out!
 

Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
OUT OF THE FRYING PAN (cont.)

The girl grudgingly obeyed. She was slender, and seemed, unlike the others, quite downcast. She looked up at Flaywell with a quick, shamed glance. Her face seemed oddly familiar to Flaywell.

The man opened her labia with his fingers and peered intently at her genitalia.

“Doctor Prentiss, I hate to interrupt you, but there’s a gentleman here I’d like you to meet.”

“One moment,” the man said. He continued peering at the woman’s exposed vulva. He inspected her labia majora and minora most carefully, then thumbed open the hood of her clitoris. The woman gasped and jerked.

“Hold still, girl!” the doctor said. He leaned forward and sniffed her sex.

Apparently satisfied, the doctor stood and turned to face Madame Louisa and Flaywell. He was dressed in a good quality pressed shirt and well fitting waistcoat and trousers, and had carefully groomed mustachios and chin beard. His eyes took stock of Flaywell behind the spectacles that magnified them.

Madame Louisa made the introductions.

Doctor Prentiss wiped his hands on a handkerchief, and began to extend it, but thought better of it. “No offense, Mr. Flaywell, perhaps you’d rather I’d not shake your hand,” he said with a smile.

“Doctor Prentiss is kind enough to inspect the girls once a week,” Madame Louisa said. “We have a reputation for the cleanest and most handsome girls in Cape Coast. And I am mindful I have the Commodore to thank for that.”

“Ah, you are acquainted with the Commodore, then, Mr. Flaywell?” Doctor Prentiss asked.

“I am his personal secretary, sir,” Flaywell said.

“Good man, good man!” the Doctor said, and dismissed him from further consideration. “Madame Louisa, I regret to say I did find a chancre on one girl, Sally. I have seen no other chancres, sores or rashes either upon the other girls’ privities or upon their gums or lips. No rashes on their feet or palms. No loose teeth.”

“Well then Doctor Prentiss,” Madame Louisa said. “Will it be the usual course for Sally?”

The doctor nodded.

“Indeed, yes. Mercurous chloride, first with pills, and then, if that is ineffective, with inunctations. I may include a regimen of sweating as well. And we shall hope for the best. But need I remind you that a good deal of the efficacy seems to depend upon the constitution of the sufferer. We may expect to see further deterioration of her general condition in the near term, but hopefully Sally will recover and show no further symptoms, otherwise. . .”

“Otherwise, I shall be forced to turn her out,” Madame Louisa said. “I keep a clean house, Mr. Flaywell,”

“I shall accept my usual payment for my services, Madame, if I may.” He nodded to Flaywell. “Mr. Flaywell, a pleasure, sir. My compliments to the Commodore.” Turning back to the line of girls he said to the slender, downcast one, “Come, Loretta.”

“Excuse me, Doctor,” Flaywell said. “Is that Laura Berkeley?”

The doctor looked to Madame Louisa and then to Flaywell. “Indeed it is, sir. We call her Loretta here, but yes, Laura Berkeley is her given name. You have heard the story, no doubt? Did you witness her punishment?”

“I was aboard ship with the Commodore, sailing here, as a matter of fact. I did not hear of it until after we arrived.”

“Ah!” the doctor exclaimed. “Perhaps you know her sister, Wilhelmina, who, I believe must have sailed with you, and who has also fallen afoul of the law!”

“That is correct, sir,” Flaywell said. “I do know her. In fact . . .”

“I saw her punishment as well! Wouldn’t have missed it! But . . .”

Doctor Prentiss told Laura to turn her back to Flaywell. He lifted her chemise off her shoulders and let it drop the length of her body, exposing her from head to heels.

“. . . I’ll wager her sister has no marks like this!”

Flaywell saw that Laura’s back was nothing but scar tissue, an undifferentiated mass of ridges and wrinkles, like a thick cloth that had been cut to shreds and sewn carelessly, all rumpled up, back together.

If Flaywell had not known better, he might have thought she had been burned in a terrible fire, but then he noticed the parallel lines of faint scars along her ribs as well. They were the distinctive marks of the cat o’nine tails. He’d seen many whippings in his time, and their results, but he’d never seen such a mess as this.

Flaywell was fascinated. He could see no art in it, no beauty at all, it was just a waste; a savage, wanton destruction of what must have been a lovely expanse of epidermis.

But what an addition it would make to his collection! Even if only as a curiosity. Part of a matched set!

Madame Louisa cast a professional eye toward the region of Flaywell’s groin, for she had noticed the twitching and slight tenting of his breeches in that area. She smiled to herself. She had suspected he was an odd duck, but perhaps not so odd after all.

“I have a proposition for you, sir,” Flaywell said to the doctor.



From Madame Louisa’s, Flaywell drove his buggy to Government House. Doctor Prentiss was with him. He intended to retrieve Mina from the holding cell. He was concerned that they would not allow him entry, for certainly the body of the warden would’ve been discovered by now. But he was prepared to go to Judge Higgens if forestalled, and he thought having the doctor along would add weight to his claim.

To his surprise however, he discovered that activity seemed to be concentrated around the back steps of the building.

Judge Higgens was among the men, giving instructions and offering opinions with his usual asperity. But when the judge saw Doctor Prentiss, he broke off.

“Doctor Prentiss, good to see a man of sense about.” The judge said, barely acknowledging Flaywell with a nod. “Have you come to inspect his prisoner?”

“Yes, Your Honor,” the Doctor said, “And Mr. Flaywell would like to remove her from her cell.”

“Well, sir, you have her indenture, do you not?” the judge replied, turning to Flaywell. “Then take her to Timbuktu, if you like, she is out of my hands! And good day to you!” He turned again to Doctor Prentiss. “Doctor, I hope we shall enjoy your company again at one of our gatherings. I would stay longer to talk but we’ve had a most inconvenient incident occur. Our warden was found at the bottom of these stairs, dead. These idiots seem to want to make something of it, but personally I think the drunken fool must simply have stumbled and fell. Now I shall have to hire another.”



Flaywell was dismayed when he saw Mina’s condition. It had worsened through the night. She looked feverish and was only semi-conscious, and was groaning and tossing in the bed. The Doctor had Mina bundled up and together Flaywell and he placed her in the back of the covered buggy. Flaywell drove a roundabout way to Madame Louisa’s. He signaled to the doorman, who had been told to expect him, and then drove around to the cellar entrance, where the Madame and the slender figure of Laura Berkeley, huddling behind her, waited at the door.

Laura had broken out in a sweat after the two men had left, when Madame Louisa pointed a finger at her and said, “Come with me, now, Princess. You’re going to the cellar.”
Jon, I don't know how I overlooked this delightful episode back in Nov. I can only plead the sparsity of your postings as a lame excuse for my unforgivable negligence.
But now I have read it and enjoyed your sound writing and impeccable pacing once again. A fine job!
Flaywell was fascinated. He could see no art in it, no beauty at all, it was just a waste; a savage, wanton destruction of what must have been a lovely expanse of epidermis.
That mirrors my response exactly. Though I was suitably aroused in Diocletian's original story, the permanent reallife marks (that you so exquisitely describe) leave me totally cold and regretful of the waste of her beauty.
 

Praefectus Praetorio

Brother of the Quill
Warm as toast, warm as a sunny summer day.
Absolutely marvelous image!:clapping:
“I may have just the girl for you, Lieutenant Hudson,” she said.
The devil returns! :eek:

The long waits for new material may indeed be frustrating, but the results, when posted, more than makeup for the anticipation. Fine Episode!
 
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