The sunlight twinkled on the rippling brook as it meandered between the meadows of Caisterdale to pass beneath the old stone bridge beside the village church.
Sarah sat at the brookside, her face in shadow oblivious to the scene, staring unseeing into the distance, book in hand but lost in her thoughts.
She heard hooves clattering upon the gravelled path, "Ah Miss Haverthorpe, one last day of freedom?" asked a familiar voice.
She looked up, John, Lord Caisterdale's son, her childhood friend looked down upon her from his chestnut stallion.
"Yes," she agreed quietly as she stared at his hansom face, his broad shouldered frame, his hat jauntily poised atop his mop of dark hair.
He looked down seeing the young girl of his childhood rather than the young woman in the full bloom of life which she had become
"A worthy fellow, indeed a lucky fellow, Mr Countisbury," John chuckled, "Staid steadfast all the qualities one could wish for in an Arch Bishop, you have indeed chosen well!" he laughed.
"Shall we see you tonight?" he chuckled, knowing full well she would never succumb to the age old ritual of the 'Droit de Signeur,' where the maidenhead of all the maidens of the parish belonged to the Lord of Caisterdale to be plucked on their wedding eve.
"Yes," she said turning to stare steadfastly at the water, "I shall be there, it is the tradition."
He reigned in his horse and whirled around, "Yes?" he said, "Surely not?"
"Yes, I shall be there," she repeated.
"But you don't understand," he said hopelessly, "Father," He felt he needed to warn her, to warn of the world of fornication which he sampled sometimes in Harrogate or Heaton, a world away from Caisterdale where wenches cavorted wantonly for pennies, a world into which in a few furious moments his own father would propel her into unsuspecting and unwilling.
"I understand full well," she said, "It is barbaric, half the first borns of the village have your father's eyes." she announced, "But it is his right, and if the humble servant girls must succumb then so must I."
He wanted to look into her eyes, to see her soul but she stared through her book and into a world far beyond.
"I shall not allow it!" John announced, "Not you, with father, it is abhorrent, why not so long ago we were as brother and sister playing."
"And now I have made an excellent match," she said, adding with a degree of sarcasm, "Everyone says so."
"Yes," he agreed uncertainly.
The sun shone on her golden hair, glinted off her engagement ring, shone golden upon her shapely ankles and the curve of her neck, he felt stirrings, but she turned towards him once more and the moment was gone.
"And you agree?" she said, "That I shall make an excellent vicar's wife."
"Indeed," he agreed, "A vicar's daughter become a vicar's wife, it is," he paused seeing her discomfort, "As if ordained by the lord almighty," he said pompously.
"steward!" she snapped and tured back to the brook with tears welling in her eyes,
The rebuke stung, had any other maid said it it would have been as nothing, had it been a servant girl she would have been whipped, but this was Sarah, whom he had known for longer than he could remember and her opinion mattered.
"I suppose we shall meet occasionally?" he queried as he struggled to come to terms with the practicalities of Sarah's forthcoming mrriage.
"I doubt it," she replied, "The life of a Vicar's wife is entirely full of good works and endless mind numbing tedium!" she snapped and she threw her book down in anger, "I could scarce countenance the excitement."
He knew not what to do or say, the whole engagement had been somewhat of a shock, his regular visits to the vicarage had perforce been curtailed by her courtship with Mr Countisbury, and indeed he knew he would miss her as he would a sister, and the thought she was to marry disturbed him deeply.
"Indeed," he said, "Until the morrow then, good day," he said and wheeled his horse again and rode home, his thoughts greatly troubled.
He helped stable his steed, washed the dust of the road from his face and hands, toyed with his writing and finally dressed for dinner and came down to dine.
"Oh, what form of honour is this?"his father asked, "Deigning to dine with us, is it in honour of Miss Haverthorpe?"
"Miss Haverthorpe Father?" he asked.
"Indeed, young Sarah, come to be plucked, but she will not arrive until dark," his father averred, "Why it must be a month very near since you last forewent the delights of the Dog and Duck to dine with us,"
"I have business Father," he insisted.
"Funny business, monkey business?" his father chided.
"Leave the poor boy alone Charles," his mother insisted, "He is Twenty One after all."
"Yes," his father agreed, "And with age comes responsibility."
"And decrepitude, his mother insisted.
"And that is the thing father," John said forcibly, "Why you are old enough and more to be Miss Haverthorpe's father, it is quite unseemly!"
"I had no relations with the mother I assure you," Lord Caisterdale admitted, "But in part you are right."
"Indeed," added his mother, "But you see your father and I had words."
"And therein you shock and amaze me," John sneered, "Had words indeed?"
His mother sat bolt upright, "And the upshot is I have forbidden your father to fornicate with Miss Sarah or indeed any more maidens."
"It's my heart son," the Lord said, "It pains me."
"Oh poor Miss Haverthorpe," John sneered.
"Poor Miss Haverthorpe indeed," his mother insisted, "Suffering your fumblings instead."
"What?" John protested.
"Why the duty devolves to you," she insisted, "Now perform it honourably!"
"But we played together!" John insisted, "I cannot ravish her, she is naught but a child!".
"Bah humbug," she snorted, "She has become quite womanly, have you not noticed the swellings atop her chest?" she asked, "No you must seize her roughly and claim her, tear away her innosence and put her childhood behind her, just do your duty Charles."
"Yes, it is as our mother says," John's father admitted, "For the chaste wench the first intrusion is agony and the blame for that pain and hurt must fall to the Signeur, so that the first conjunction betwixt husband and wife might be soft and gentle and ecstatic do you see?"
"And do I wear a skin?" John asked.
"Lord no, not if she's pure, why half the village," his father started to say proudly.
"Have his eyes," his mother added, "And not just first borns!"
Johns father frowned crossly, "He blames me," his mother confided, "But there are limits John, there is only so much a woman can take."
"One damned child, twenty two years," he muttered, and she smiled.
"Say Grace dear the repast grows cold," Lady Caisterdale exclaimed as se regarded the simple beef meal before them.
"From what we are about to receive may god preserve us," he uttered blasphemously and they started to eat.
"Excellent Beef Charles, one of ours?" his mother exclaimed.
His father put down his fork, "For you see John if you rouse the wench gently, kiss her, finger her teats, feel her womanhood gently, probe it, allow it to ripen and open gently and ease and tease the maidenhead asunder the wench will pine for you, even years after she will see her man as second best and you as her one true lover, so be brutal to be kind John."
"He has all sorts of straps and contrivances and whips you my use, he even has stocks to take the wench's ankles and wrists all in a row," the mother explained, "That way she cannot resist."
"Mother!" John protested.
"Tell him Charles!" she insisted.
"Yes," he agreed, "A lifetimes collection efficacious in every circumstance."
"Apart from last time?" she added.
"She was fat as a pig!" he protested.
"She lost her maidenhead to a chair leg John, how undignified!" his mother declaimed inelegantly.
"And what makes it ten times worse, your mother did the poking," John's father insisted, "No John, tis your duty now."
"What, ravish Sarah?" he asked thoughtfully, "But we are like brother and sister."
"Mr Countisbury shall be her brother now," John's father insisted, "Such childish ways must be set aside, she's not been a child these two years, look at her chest, those ruby lips, the golden ringlets, are you blind, why half the village think you lovers!"
John thought hard, perhaps Sarah had become a woman without his notice, it made sense now, he must do his duty, he must for both Mr Countisbury's sake and her sake appear to be cruel and heartless, "Then if I must I shall do my duty," he said nobly.
The meal passed and with the dusk came the clattering of hooves and Sarah was delivered by the undertakers cart as was the custom.
"Sarah!" John's mother welcomed her, "So tomorrow is your happy day!"
Sarah looked at the floor unhappily, "Indeed it is Lady Caisterdale."
John's mother replied cheerily, "Cheer up my dear, tomorrow will dawn with brilliant sunshine and only happiness will await you will see!"
"I only hope you are proved correct," Sarah agreed.
Charles stepped forward, "It seems such a short time since you and John played together in this very room, and now he is twenty and one and you cannot be far off the same.
"It is indiscreet to ask a lady her age, " Sarah replied, "But yes, I am almost twenty and one and as father says an unmarried wench of twenty one is a sad, morose and dissatisfied one."
"Yes indeed," Charles agreed, "But we have business to transact, do you have your robes child?" he asked.
"Beneath my cloak," she said, "All virginal white awaiting to be sullied by the vivid red!"
"Quite so," Charles interjected, "Sadly my heart is no longer able."
"Oh thank god, I was so frightened!" Sarah gasped with evident relief.
"So John will perforce take on the duty," he continued.
"No, not John, god no!" Sarah protested, "No it cannot be!"
"It was not my choice but it is for the best," John assured her, "Best for all."
"How can it be best for me?" she demanded.
"Enough," John's mother cried, "Desist or I shall have cook bring a scold's bridle and silence you. Now come with me and I shall show you the place and do what I may to ease the torment."
Sarah stared open mouthed but refrained and steadying her nerves she followed John's mother upstairs.
The second best guest bedroom was prepared already, the four post bed freshly aired with fresh virginal white sheets, wine and lemon barley water were provided and towels and bowls of water.
A chair, a wardrobe a chest of drawers, mirrors everything, a candelabra of sixteen candles shone like sunlight, rich rugs carpeted the floor and all was as opulent as any whore's boudoir to be found in Yorkshire.
Sarah accepted her fate, and on Lady Caisterdale's advice set about easing the torment with half a carafe of Claret which relaxed her greatly.
Heartened by the wine she disrobed to her virginal white shift without demur, she wore no under things nor corsets as was the tradition and sat upon the bed while John's mother offered her sound advice, "The thing is Sarah, that first time can be an agony of the first order and some girls never forgive their husbands for that agony, so, do you see, if the lord causes the hurt then it matters not."
Sarah thought hard, "But what if she falls in love with the lord?"
Lady Caisterdale smiled, "It is for the lord to ensure she does not!" she declared as she produced a piece of mahogany split in two with four holes and a hinge pin and clasp with a pad lock to hold it tight , "Charles finds this efficacious on occasions," she added, "Your wrists and ankles through the holes, most efficacious," she said wistfully, remembering happier times.
"But John, do you see, he is, he was, my friend!" Sarah pleaded, "Surely, he can not treat me thus?"
"No, to the contrary," the older woman insisted, "He must for the alternative is to have you pining for him like some doe eyed pup, oh no, no you must see him for the fornicating brute he has become and thank your stars for kindly Mr Countsibury."
"Oh lord," Sarah sighed a she heard footsteps approach.
There was a knock on the door, "It is time," John's mother avered, "Come in."
"Ah, father said," John explained awkwardly.
"I shall leave you to it, good night," the mother said and she slipped away.
John bolted the door behind him.
"Good evening," he said awkwardly, "Can I get you anything?"
"No, I am content, just do your duty," Sarah said nobly.
"On the bed?" he asked.
"No on the front terrace by the fountain," she replied, "Of course on the bed!"
"Yes," he laughed awkwardly.
"So," she probed, "What are you waiting for?"
He stood immobile, "Yes indeed."
"So disrobe," she said, "And ravish me."
"Yes," he said, "Of course," and he set about removing his jacket, his kerchief, his shirt, carpet slippers, socks, undershirt, breeches and finally he stood in naught but under breeches.
"Shall we extinguish the illuminants?" he asked.
"No," she insisted, "Or dawn shall be with us, disrobe and be done!"
"Ah," he said awkwardly, as he hesitated to shed his underthings.
"Down!" she snapped and grabbed his under breeches which tore as the drawstring was still fastened and the underpart fell to the floor, while the waistband remained, "Oh!"
His appendage hung limp and unexcited, "Do I not excite you?" she asked.
"Er," he said, emboldened she grasped his appendage.
"Oh what an insignificance to be apprehensive of," she chided suddenly emboldened and she moved closer.
He went to push her away, but as his hands went to her shoulders so he was suddenly aware of the womanly swell of her breast and the outline of her teats against the thin white shift.
Instead of pushing her away he pulled the shoulders of her shift aside and eased it down gently.
"Forcibly," she said as her held her and flicking her golden hair aside he kissed her neck.
"Er, yes," he agreed as he tried to reconcile her womanly form with his recollections of her climbing trees and running around as a child.
Her shift slipped further, her fingers instinctively cupped his balls and caressed his shaft as deftly as any whore and as her mounds touched his chest for the first time so he began to become aroused.
"Forcibly," she said as he held her tightly, "Please!"
His appendage reared against her, "On the bed," he said urgently.
She led him by the hand and flung back the bed clothes, he pulled up her shift so it was naught but a silken belt around her waist and easing his knees inside hers thus spreading her thighs he went to mount her.
His fingers sought her soft moist cavern but found only clenched muscles.
"Ravish me!" she cried.
"I cannot, you are not ready," he said apologetically.
"Ravish me, this is not love, ravish me!" she insisted.
"No, it is impossible," he insisted, "You must be aroused, let me."
He kissed her neck once more and his fingers sought her teats, kneading them, "No!" she protested, but his lips were upon hers now, his tongue ran along her teeth, "Oh."
Her teats were hardening now, he relaxed, she was just another whore after all, his fears that he might be unequal to the task evaporated, she was just a fragrant blonde strumpet after all, he knew she would prove moistened when required and he enjoyed greatly the intimacy afforded.
He relished her excitement, her little gasps as he squeezed her teats, her ineffective attempts to push him away and then with his sap rising further he decided the time was ripe.
His finger moved to the soft down covering her lower belly, trailing slowly down between her legs to where he felt moistness, he explored and there for the first time he found the moist spot which eased into a hole and then a slot for one two and then three fingers. He inserted a thumb, she gasped, so he forced the thumb harder into her, "Ohhh," she cried quietly as she buried her face in his shoulder.
He worked quickly to enlarge the cleft, the force made his thumb ache but moistness increased a hundred fold and his thumb slipped ever deeper until it was unequal to the task.
He slid down the bed and rolled his hips to straddle her and gently eased his knees between her thighs parting them and spreading her knees wide, he eased his fingers within her once again and then grasping his manhood he gently pressed it against the pink softness of the folds of her sex before certain of her readiness he slid his bare appendage into her womanhood.
He revelled in the sensation of flesh on flesh, his whole manhood tingled as it eased relentlessly into the tight softness engulfing it. He revelled in the intensity of sensations coursing through his bare member, amplified twice or a thousand times by the absence of the thick propylactic sheath he wore at the bordello. Quite suddenly he felt increased resistance, he thrust with his hips, once twice, she cried out, he thrust again and quite suddenly he was entirely sheathed, his balls against her flesh and his appendage nakedly sheathed to its utmost, his flesh entirely within hers and he rocked gently within her as the sensations overwhelmed him.
The heavens opened in his mind and he saw all the joys of union as his sap rose further and further until it threatened to overflow entirely.
Sarah in her turn revelled in John's tender kisses, his probing finger troubled her but excited her in equal measure and with her increasing her excitement so the number of fingers increased.
Quite suddenly he changed and his muscular thumb was stretching her, she heard a moan, could it be her own voice? and then his manhood, warm and muscular easing within her secret place which she had barely explored for fear of ruining her maidenhead.
A brief flash of pain, a cry she had no recollection of uttering and she was ruined, yet he was caressing her, loving her and her heart soared, and most of all the sensations she had been assured were agony were naught but ecstasy as he filled her to excess, a gasp, a moan, his fingers caressing her teats driving her wild and finally as she feared the fires of passion would engulf her he quenched the fires with a torrent of love.
For John it was a final kiss, a tweaked teat to make her gasp and then he claimed her entirely with a torrent of seed pumping and coursing through his body to flood hers. A torrent unrestrained he revelled in the freedom and made the moment last as long as he could his manhood pumping in ever decreasing surges until it stilled.
"Tis done," he said as they stilled and he came to rest lying upon her.
She pushed him away and wriggled free of his embrace as his manhood shrank.
"You were to ravish me," she protested, as she slipped from the bed, "But instead you used me for a lover."
"I eased you, to save you the hurt," he insisted.
"You made love to me, it is inexcusable," she protested as she grasped a cloth and wiped away the moisture from her innards..
"You aroused me," he challenged, "Did I make you bleed?"
"A little," she said, "I am completely ruined."
"Then the next time should be a complete pleasure," he insisted.
"I shall scarcely bear it," she said and she rearranged her shift, pulled on her cloak and shoes and went to leave him.
"Are we still friends?" he asked.
"Friends, no, I believe I hate you," she said quietly, "You abused me, good night."
He lay back as the door closed, watching the candles guttering in the sudden draft as he listened to her footsteps receding as she went down the stairs.
He wanted her again already, but he was sure it would soon pass.
Sarah wandered aimlessly away down the corridor, "Oh," John's mother, Lady Caisterdale, exclaimed, "Finished already?"
"Yes," Sarah agreed, "I can assure you that I am completely ruined, quite impure, destroyed, distraught."
"Was it horrendous?" she asked.
"No, no, not at all, it was gentle, tender, he kissed me as if he loved me," Sarah admitted.
"Oh you poor girl," Lady Caisterdale commiserated, "He was supposed to take your innocence no more," she paused as Sarah's eyes moistened, "But it will resolve itself this evening when you are alone with your beloved."
Sarah sobbed suddenly, "I suppose." she replied.
"But why the hurry to depart," Lady Caisterdale asked, "There is no carriage, the bed is soft and warm, shall you not stay?"
"I ought," Sarah pleaded.
"No stay here safe and warm," she suggested and she shouted, "John, John, come down here this instant."
"No!" she gasped, but John was upon them, struggling with his breeches as he ran.
"John," Lady Caisterdale insisted, "How dare you treat Sarah so ill, take her back to bed and ravish her."
"But my Lady!" Sarah protested.
"I treated her with the utmost consideration!" John insisted.
"You treated her like a whore, made love to her when you should have ravished her, so take her to bed this instant," Lady Caisterdale insisted.
"Yes mother," he agreed in confusion.
"Go!" she insisted.
Sarah held her head in her hands in confusion, "Please no," she pleaded
"If you do not wish it then I shall not," he agreed.
Lady Caisterdale sighed, "Indeed you shall," she insisted, "Now ravish and abuse the girl, do not seduce her, use the restraints, use her unwillingly!"
"If I must," he agreed
Sarah turned and turned again but there was no escape so she retraced her steps, the bed awaited, still lightly stained with red and she lay upon it.
Lady Caisterdale followed, "Use the restraint John," she insisted as she picked the mahogany restraint from the floor, "Bare yourself girl!"
Sarah cowered against the bedhead, her fingers shook as she removed her cloak and shift and she lay naked upon the counterpaine.
"Ravish her then," Lady Caisterdale insisted, "Restrain her and," she paused, "Oh, ah perhaps you cannot after all ravish her John."
"Why?" he asked.
"Look at her," Lady Caisterdale exclaimed," her teats are swollen, her womanhood glistens with desire, you Steward you have made her love you!"
"So what shall I do?" he asked.
"Use her like a whore while you may, good night!" she replied and slipped away.
Sarah went to protest but John was upon her, desire overcoming sense and with his breeches discarded now he joined her upon the bed.
"Please no," she said but he pulled her towards him, crushing her mounds against her chest and in a moment he felt her hands on his manhood guiding it unerringly into her warm moist slot.
He kissed her tenderly, "No you torment me!" she protested but her body craved his seed and she squirmed beneath him tormenting him in her turn.
He saw the heavens again, the angels sang and his seed pumped forth.
She was gone when he woke next morning, "John, you must get dressed, it is Mistress Havethorpe's wedding."
He had no desire what ever to attend. It troubled him that Sarah had succumbed so willingly, that his childhood friend whom he had never even though to kiss had proved such a wanton whore.
He dressed and took a late breakfast and joined Lord and Lady Caisterdale in their Carriage to arrive as was the custom a moment before the Wedding was to commence, barely a minute before the bride herself.
Countisbury awaited his bride, a steadfast staid individual, standing in a suit of black cut in a style not seen for twenty years which had in all probability formerly belonged to his father.
John sighed, why had he not sampled Sarah before, many times he had bidden her good day and departed for the town to sample a whore, where had he thought he might have sampled Sarah instead, finally he decided that after vthe marriage he would indeed seek Sarah out and Mr Countisbury should be cuckolded.
John barely registered the service, "Do you take this man for your lawful wedded husband?" Sarah's father the rev Haverthorpe asked.
"No," she said, "I cannot, I have a lover."
"Come child, that was the lord taking your innocence, it was nothing," the reverend insisted.
"Gone, your innocence gone!" Countisbury queried.
"Just the Lord of the Manor's perogative sir," the reverend insisted, "An elderly gentleman sir."
"It was John, the son," Sarah explained, "I cannot lie, it was ecstasy sir, I am undone, I cannot lie, I relished it, I cannot marry you any more than you can marry me."
"No!"Countisbury cried, "It cannot be, it is intolerable!" and he stood up from the altar rail.
"John?" the reverend demanded, "You consorted with John?"
"Yes father," she admitted.
"Intolerable, you sought to have me marry an impure wench, that is intolerable sir!" Countisbury insisted, "I do not wish you good day sir, I merely take my leave."
The reverend looked on in horror as Countisbury walked away, then he turned to Sarah and declared.
"You whore, you are no daughter of mine, get thee hence from the house of the lord!" the reverend cried, "Go!"
Sarah rushed away, her billowing white wedding gown rustling against the pews as she ran and she disappeared from view.
"You sir are a disgrace," Lord Caisterdale bellowed, "Attempting to marry your daughter to such an insufferable dullard."
"You sir are the disgrace with your evil practices, insisting on the Droit de Signeur indeed!" the reverend challenged.
"Me!" he protested, "I made no such demand, it was your choice sir!"
"How dare you," the reverend demanded, "My daughter is completely ruined, who will
take her now, I cannot bear to see her, who will take her?"
"Oh shut up reverend," Lady Caisterdale insisted, "John will take her for now, she will make an admirable bed mate, why a girl more naturally inclined to whoredom I have seldom seen," she added, "Come Charles let us settle the child into her new position."
Sarah stood disconsolately outside the church as Lord and Lady Caisterdale stepped outside, "It seems you are to become my son's mistress Sarah," Lady Caisterdale explained.
"Mistress, a kept woman?" she demanded, "That makes me no better than a whore!"
"Oh my dear," Lady Caisterdale explained, "You will relish it I am sure, and why not, you have no other future, you are hardly fit to be a chambermaid, and we have no need of a governess so mistress it shall be, you shall have days to yourself but the nights shall be Johns."
"I was to be married, and a Vicar's wife but now I am to be a kept woman?" Sarah asked, "I should rather be a nun."
"Too late my dear," Lady Caisterdale suggested, "You relish carnality too much, why we could her you screaming in ecstasy, no you are far better suited to whoredom, and I think with John you have the best of it."
"Give us a lusty son and I'll let you marry the blighter," Lord Caisterdale added.
"Do I not have a say in this?" John asked.
"No!" came the reply from both parents as one.
Sarah had no other choices so with great reluctance she climbed into the carriage and they made haste to the Manor Hall. Sarah had naught but her wedding dress to wear and so she borrowed a servant's smock from Mrs Franklin the housekeeper while her things were got from the vicarage and in due course the family assembled in the sitting room.
"I shall drawn up a list of duties for you child," Lady Caisterdale announced quite suddenly.
"Duties?" Sarah asked.
"Yes, even a whore should know her place," Lady Caisterdale insisted, "You eat with John or the servants, each morning you help me dress and each evening undress and are available to serve Charles or John as required, is that acceptable?"
"No," John insisted, "I want Sarah for myself."
"Well you can't," Lady Caisterdale reminded him, "The reverend has disowned her and she is not twenty one yet."
"Then I shall marry her at common law!" John insisted.
"Hold on John, tis a big step!" his father insisted.
"No, my mind is made up," John insisted, "Call the parish meeting father, I wish to claim Sarah as my bride!"
"Directly," Lord Caisterdale agreed, "Tomorrow at Six!"