No Ransom: Extreme Taboo BDSM Erotica - Elsa England - ebook
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Table of Contents:CHAPTER ONE - Faith without Freedom    1CHAPTER TWO - Tar and Feathers    17CHAPTER THREE – Lune    33CHAPTER FOUR - Fantasy in Fetters    65CHAPTER FIVE - Strapped Skin    85CHAPTER SIX - Plural Punishments    110CHAPTER SEVEN – Shamed    128CHAPTER EIGHT - Diversity of Prisons    142CHAPTER NINE - Saint Ursula's Prisoner    162CHAPTER TEN - Return to Penance    186CHAPTER ELEVEN - The Loving Bind    209Excerpt:Faith Baldwin had been prisoner to The Cause for more than a month and seemed likely to remain so for the rest of her life. She had become accustomed to the "hit and run" existence of the tiny group of rebels everyone called The Bhoys in an admiring Irish brogue. She had expostulated with Ratigan. their leader, to no avail. "There's no need for you to drag me around like a camp follower or a bundle of baggage. The government's offered an outrageous ransom for me, why don't you take it and let me go?"'"Cause you're English, love, that's why. Every ransom offer is loaded with traps. We don't need their lousy ransom money and they won't give us guns for you." Ratigan had laughed at her sulky face. "How many guns do you think you're be worth, love?""You can buy guns with the money. Please take it and let me go.""We don't buy guns, they're given as a gift to the Holy Cause, you know that. Sorry girl, you're going to stay with me a long, long time.""As your personal possession. Can you take pride in using me the way you do?"Ratigan was a fugitive from wealth, he had done Oxford and the London School of Economics but frequently employed a bit of Irish raillery. "Would ye be Catling yourself a whore, lassie? Come now, 'tis an honorable estate, so it 'tis." He chuckled, "Ye don't get paid a penny for your pretty pussy. By rights I should share ye with m'boys. Maybe ye'Id be liking that." 

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No Ransom

Elsa England

Copyright © 2017

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE - Faith without Freedom

CHAPTER TWO - Tar and Feathers

CHAPTER THREE – Lune

CHAPTER FOUR - Fantasy in Fetters

CHAPTER FIVE - Strapped Skin

CHAPTER SIX - Plural Punishments

CHAPTER SEVEN – Shamed

CHAPTER EIGHT - Diversity of Prisons

CHAPTER NINE - Saint Ursula's Prisoner

CHAPTER TEN - Return to Penance

CHAPTER ELEVEN - The Loving Bind

CHAPTER ONE - Faith without Freedom

Faith Baldwin had been prisoner to The Cause for more than a month and seemed likely to remain so for the rest of her life. She had become accustomed to the "hit and run" existence of the tiny group of rebels everyone called The Bhoys in an admiring Irish brogue. She had expostulated with Ratigan. their leader, to no avail. "There's no need for you to drag me around like a camp follower or a bundle of baggage. The government's offered an outrageous ransom for me, why don't you take it and let me go?"

'"Cause you're English, love, that's why. Every ransom offer is loaded with traps. We don't need their lousy ransom money and they won't give us guns for you." Ratigan had laughed at her sulky face. "How many guns do you think you're be worth, love?"

"You can buy guns with the money. Please take it and let me go."

"We don't buy guns, they're given as a gift to the Holy Cause, you know that. Sorry girl, you're going to stay with me a long, long time."

"As your personal possession. Can you take pride in using me the way you do?"

Ratigan was a fugitive from wealth, he had done Oxford and the London School of Economics but frequently employed a bit of Irish raillery. "Would ye be Catling yourself a whore, lassie? Come now, 'tis an honorable estate, so it 'tis." He chuckled, "Ye don't get paid a penny for your pretty pussy. By rights I should share ye with m'boys. Maybe ye'Id be liking that."

Faith ignored the implied insult. There were a great many things to ignore about her present condition. Doggedly she propounded logic, "What girl wants to be a camp follower to a ragged bunch of rebels who can never win the war they fight. I sometimes think you just shoot people out of perversity. This Cause of yours doesn't really exist."

"Careful, lass, you're cutting close to the bone."

Faith bit her lip. She had been whipped once for inserting a barb tongue beneath Irish skin to touch Irish sensibilities. True, it had by no means been a flogging but Faith had been bitterly humiliated by the exposure to the pain. She was careful now to treat everything Irish with lip service to The Cause. "I'm sorry," she said hastily. "I don't mean to offend. But, Ratigan, please, tell me why you keep me here and how long I must remain your prisoner?"

There had been no satisfactory answer, there never was. She remembered the ambush under which her escort had died under a hail of rebel bullets and being dragged, fighting and screaming, from the car to be bound and gagged and tossed into the back of a truck. She had been marched in front of Ratigan as a prize of war, facing him in her full fury of shock and indignation. Her kidnappers had been none too careful of her clothes and Faith was well aware of a bare breast proclaiming itself proudly from a rent in her blouse.

"What is it you want of me?" she had asked bluntly, "Rape or ransom?" She tugged savagely at wrists tied behind her back. "Surely you don't have to bind me like an animal ready for slaughter!"

Ratigan had laughed at her dramatics. He had laid her on the floor and raped her with a competence to command respect. Faith constantly remained herself of bound wrists which technically made it rape but otherwise was none too sure. Ratigan had the charm of the Irish along with a fascinating disregard for hypocrisy. "I fucked you because I wanted to," he told her with a smile as he helped her to stand. "I'll do it again whenever I feel like it. It puts me even with the daughter of Hilary Baldwin, that mealy-mouthed bastard cabinet member. I'll make you wish you had some else for a father.

Ratigan's use of her body had been clear cut and understood from the beginning. Faith knew herself a prize of battle, a captive maiden to assuage her captor's lust. It was no more than she had expected when pulled from the bullet riddled car. It was almost a relief to have it over and done with. She now fought a rear-guard action.

"There's no reason to keep me bound or chained up or any of that silliness. I'm sure I can't escape so there's no need for story book restraints. Untie my hands."

For answer Ratigan had put a rope noose around her neck, trailing a rope tether to the ground. He had also tied her elbows painfully together in what Faith knew to be an emphasis of authority.

"Things can always get worse for you, Miss Baldwin," he assured. "Any more complaints?'

Miss Faith Baldwin had complaints aplenty but choked them back. Roped elbows were a new experience and they hurt terribly. She knew they were intended to hurt so did not ask for them to be untied. Ratigan read her thoughts.

"There's a girl who will look after you. Her name's Jinny Riley, she's one of us so don't bother trying to seduce her, she'll report to me any tear-jerking stories or offers of bribes and you'll be appropriately punished."

"That sounds as though I'm to be constantly tortured."

"Don't be ridiculous." Ratigan's voice was suddenly close-clipped Oxford. "You need suffer nothing but the restraints I order put on you, anything else you get will be your own fault."

She had said a sardonic thank you for his candor but still insisted, "I don't want to be tied up all the time! Can't you be more civilized. Handcuffs for instance?"

"I'll see about it, it's not a bad idea. We're a mobile force so convenience means a lot. In the meantime you'll stay tied."

"My clothes are torn, I'm not even decent."

"Jinny will look after that." He barked a short, swift laugh. "But I'll warn you about Jinny, she's more likely to take something off than to put something on. But she'll not hurt you without my permission. But if it pleased her to strip you naked, she'll do it." He laughed at her visible consternation. "Don't worry. Miss Baldwin, my boys have seen a lot of naked girls, we pick them up in the raids or for a bit of tar and feathering if that's what they deserve. The name for us is 'uninhibited.'"

Jinny Riley had lived up to expectations, stripping Faith of all she wore and giving her in return a tattered male shirt which only scantily met the demands of decency.

"You'll not be ordering me around, Miss Baldwin, and that's the truth of it. You give me any lip and I'll march you right up to Mr. Ratigan, he'll fix you for sure, he will. You going to be sensible?"

Faith had promised to be sensible, allowing her hands to be untied and relied as desired. She felt to naked in the single shirt and was quite certain her sex was visible at least half the time. Speaking of this to Jinny she got the obvious retort, "So what if the boys do get a look at your hairy spot, all us girls got one and all the boys seen it time and time again." She giggled suggestively. "Takes more than a few pubic curls to make the Bhoys blush. They'll have themselves a time with you. Miss Baldwin, I'll make sure of it."

Faith had become accustomed to the tattered shirt and to the carnal comments it evoked. She no longer much cared if the Bhoys saw her private parts or not. She realized that the only parts of her private now were he thoughts, breasts and pubs were communal property to be examined at will but to be used only by Ratigan. She supposed she should be grateful for belonging to a single man. Now, as the afternoon drew to its close, she watched the approach of Johnny Catlin who gave her the usual greeting she thought sincere.

"You sure are a looker. Miss Baldwin. Ain't never seen no girl as beautiful as you. Mind if I take a look under that there shirt?"

Faith Baldwin stood stiffly erect while the shirt was raised for the male inventory of her physical assets. When the hem was again allowed to fall to the level of her crotch, she turned and crossed her wrists behind her back, then stood in rigid obedience while they were tightly bound. Whoever it was among the rebel group who tied her, they always made certain the cords were made tight to tell her she could forget escape and be a good girl. That humiliation done with. Faith then submitted to the collar and tether on her neck. She had long since learned the potency of this control. A couple of jerks on the tether would bring her to her knees and obedience. Conscious of this hazard she walked in docile submission beside Johnny Catlin in their decent to the camp beneath the hills.

"Think the boss would let me have you for an hour all to myself, Miss Baldwin?" It was an oft played tune. "I sure would like to have you naked, I'll give you a real good time."

"Why don't you ask him, Johnny, I'm his property?"

"I'd sooner you ask him, Miss Baldwin. He wouldn't take it all that kindly from me."

"Don't be silly, Johnny," Faith chided gently. "I'm certainly not going to ask permission for a man to rape me. If you desire me enough, you'll ask him yourself."

To what abject state had captivity reduced her to talk thus! Faith thought of her father in his pin-striped suit and bowler hat, busy in West Minister and White Hall, seeking her release. He would be frantic, envisioning her condition as worse than it actually was. Not that being a camp-follower was anything that a well-educated young woman might feel proud of. But she had suffered no torture, contrived to keep on the right side of the mercurial Irish temperament by a wry exchange of self-deprecating humor. Twisting her wrists against the tight cords she complained as she had done a hundred times before.

"Why the devil must I be tied, Johnny. It hurts and makes me feel like a criminal or a wild animal. You can control me well enough with the collar."

"There ye go ag'in, Miss, always complaining. It's Mr. Ratigan's orders, so it is. He says you're a sly piece of fluff and not to be trusted." Johnny leered. "If I give you your hands right now, you could find a rock and knock me for a loop. Come off it, Miss Baldwin, you know right well you got to be tied."

Faith Baldwin knew the truth in what her companion said. They would not dare take chances, knowing she would flee for safety if given an inch of slack. She was a valuable hostage but more importantly to Ratigan a flag he could wave as in victory. He slept each night with the daughter of a Minister of the British Crown. Most Irish hearts would warm to his conquest. Ratigan was by way of being a national hero.

The Bhoys and their leader made camp as necessity dictated, inhibiting the innocence of farm buildings owned by a men loyal to The Cause.

They had a central deport were their armament was cached but used it little for fear of drawing attention. They had been in their present stop over for a week and Ratigan had made himself a sort of office over the barn. Johnny Catlin thrust her inside, saluted with commendable military precision while announcing, "One live body safely delivered, Sir."

Her escort departed, Faith sat on the battered kitchen chair Ratigan offered. His voice was casual, "Have a nice day, Faith?"

"It's beautiful up there in the hills. If you allow me to go there often enough I'll see a Leprechaun."

Ratigan smiled with the strange tenderness which had flowered between them during the weeks he had possessed her body. "They're there, darlin,' never doubt it. The Irish hills are haunted by ancient ghosts. I'd be disappointed if you never saw one. Young Johnny treat you okay?"

"Yes, he's the soul of decorum and ties me very tight. He takes the odd peek under my shirt but I expect that's his right. When are you going to set me free."

Faith asked the same question everyday, it had become a joke between them.

"You'll go free on the day you bring me that Leprechaun. How's that for a bargain."

Faith no longer felt silly sitting before this man upon the rickety chair with her arms awkwardly twisted behind her back. She deliberately made her posture seem more uncomfortable than it was but she dared not ask him to untie her hands, Ratigan would untie her soon enough if he wanted to but not before. She knew he got a male satisfaction in observing her helpless vulnerability. She was his and he savored the fact every time they were together. "Got a letter for you today through the underground. I've read it. Makes me feel a right bastard." He laid the missive for her convenience upon the desk. "Draw up your chair, I'll turn the pages."

Miss Faith Baldwin would once have told her captor she could move no furniture until her hands were freed, but that time was past. She hooked a bare foot around a wooden leg and drew the seat to where she could gaze down to read the words written in another land a million miles away. Tears gathered as her misted vision followed Ratigan's obliging fingers but she fought them back and read to the final endearments, her voice only slightly effected by emotion. "Thank you for letting me read it, I hope you always will."

"You'd be better off without them."

"Perhaps, but I want them just the same. I'm a little girl who's far from home."

"Thought I'd untie your hands, eh?"

"I hoped you would, I wasn't going to ask."

"I like them tied as they are but we can get rid of this," Ratigan said as he freed her neck of the collar and tether then kissed her quietly on each eye and bit her ear playfully. "Tell me what you know about a place called Lune."

"Why ask me, I've never been there. The guide book says it's a eighteenth century castle somewhere in Gallway or Connemarra Or maybe it was Clare, I've forgotten. The book said it was privately owned."

Ratigan nodded thoughtfully. "The chap who owns it is witting for us to use it as a hideaway. He says quite a lot of it can be made livable and there's a dungeon or two." He grinned at her consternation. "Think, girl, you could have a room all to yourself."

"I'll die in a dungeon, you know I would. Why are you telling me this?"

"Because tomorrow you and I are going to be Mr. and Mrs. Bascomb, motoring down to visit friends in Kerry. What we'll be doing is having a good look at Casde Lune."

Faith was startled, her voice bitter, "You'd trust me that far! I'll probably escape."

"No you won't, lass, I'll make sure of that. Make a nice outing for you."

"I'm happy being chained up there in the hollow everyday."

"There's hollows like that, equipped with resident leprechauns all through the Irish hills."

"They won't all have a great big stone with an iron ring embedded in it to chain me to. I wonder who put that ring there?"

Ratigan shrugged. "Probably the leprechauns did that. too. You'll Find these bits of ancient times all over Ireland. Castle Lune should keep you amused."

"It might if I were free. But it will take me a long time to explore it ten feet at a time at the end of a chain. I like this place, it seems safe for you. You'd be foolish to leave it."

Their arrangements for the night were simple and always the same. Faith was secured to the bed by a length of chain padlocked around her narrow waist, the bed itself a heavy, home-made box filled with straw. Faith ruefully reflected the straw would offend her parents as would the chain and padlock. The keys to the latter were visible but distance on a peg on a far wall. As usual, there was no escape for her. Even while Ratigan slept she was totally impotent so might as well sleep, too. There was a blanket laid over her but she got her warmth from Ratigan's muscular body. Sometimes she worn her shirt right on through their lovemaking and the night but at other times was rendered naked for both. Faith never understood her varying nudities, there seemed no logic to them. But why seek logic in Ireland when the Irish laugh at it themselves.

Faith Baldwin knew she derived comfort from this dark-haired, dark-eyed native of Donegal. She knew he had killed often but had never been cruel to her, and when the Bhoys made cruel sport with a captive girl he was never there to watch, leaving such recreations to his tiny army who probably had a need of such emotional release. Ratigan had taken care to explain to her from day one his attitudes about his homeland and the English. He had made understandable his need to hold her captive as a bargain lever of last resort, frankly amused by the impotency of Parliament in effecting her rescue. He told her of the places the police and army had raided in their search for her but he had always held her far from those places where he had spread false clues. He told her how the rescue rampage was waning, they probably thought her dead.

Ratigan explained her hands would remain tied throughout their lovemaking and the night, it would be an amusing innovation. Faith bottled resentment and found compensation in thinking of the morrow, surely in such a journey for such a purpose some opportunity to escape would surely present itself. But she kept such thoughts to herself, wondering what expedience her master would resort to that her captivity remain in tack.

After the first week of being Ratigan's concubine Faith ceased to feel guilt over the responses he evoked in her. His lithe, hard skills reducing her always to a mass of longing and a succession of gasping cries and moans of which she was afterwards ashamed. But there was a basic honesty about the act in which she eventually gave as good as she got and in easy acceptance of something which, after all. was to be expected from a soldier and his captive who shared a bed. When, each night, the chain was locked around her waist, Faith Baldwin tried hard not to think about her family back home.

They were to travel in a small car which appeared from no where as did most things in connection with The Cause. Faith's hands were untied, she was given a clean shirt with a somewhat more feminine cut. She was then placed beside the steering wheel on the front seat and her bare ankles bound tighter that strictly necessary, this precaution against impulsive flight was accentuated by the tying of her two big toes. For the rest she was entirely free and her heart sang a joyous tune of expectation as Ratigan drove out onto the graveled road.

"It's not impossible we may be stopped," he told her soberly. "It that happens and you ask for help, I'll be compelled to kill whoever it is concerned. The police travel on bicycles hereabouts and nobody will miss one." He showed her the ugly automatic pistol from its holster beneath his arm. "Don't make me use this," he cautioned grimly. "Could be you hold someone's life in your hands some time today."

Optimize fled or was diminished. Faith examined what she had been told but could not fault it. Ratigan was clever. "I don't know whether to believe you or not," she said primly. "But don't worry, I won't take a change, no body's going to get killed because I want freedom."

Ratigan was pleased, his voice almost warm. "I bet you, a couple of months back, you never dreamed you'd be riding with a rebel like this, eh?"

"Clothed indecently with only a shirt and my ankles bound and my toes tied no, I certainly did not. I'm not exactly choosing it now."

"You've got a lot of common sense. Faith, I'm beginning to trust you, not about escape but about your judgment and behavior. I could wish you were with us in The Cause." He chuckled quietly. "You're ankles hurting?"

"Yes, they're hurting. No doubt they're suppose to. And as for my toes, you ought to be ashamed of yourself."

Ratigan considered what she said and grinned. "That's what I like about you, girl, you handle fear damned well. You and I can talk. Do you have any idea what that means to me?"

Faith suddenly saw the isolation of his life, the loneliness of a leader who's men were of a lesser breed.

"Is that way you had me kidnapped?" she asked, interested. "From what Johnny tells me you could have you pick of girls from those your men pick up and punish for no other sin than simply being female."

"They bore me stiff. Most of them have only been half way through school or maybe no school at all. The only interest they've got is the same as my men."

"What's that?"

Ratigan barked a short, swift laugh. "I'd have thought you knew, its that thing you've got between your legs. And don't ever forget these," he said. Without taking his eyes from the road he reached out and flicked the hard nipples beneath the shirt.

"So, okay, they're obsessed by sex. But don't let's you and I throw stones, I've never been so involved in it myself until you got hold of me. I don't suppose you need that chain and padlock to keep me in your bed at night. You've made me shameless. I don't know how I could ever again face a London cocktail party."

"You won't have to, love."

"What you've just said tells me you're going to keep be prisoner for life. I wish you wouldn't keep telling me. Haven't you ever been married?"

"Once. To an English girl when I was at Oxford." He grunted. "You can imagine how long it lasted. Her family cast me into outer darkness inside a year."

Their first hurdle was as Ratigan predicted, a police on a bicycle. He flagged them down on the narrow road so nearly devoid of traffic and beamed his apologies for asking names and destination, excepting Ratigan's bogus proofs of identity without raising an eyebrow. Faith was thankful he was accosting them through the window at her side. Had he been on the other side he might have easily have seen her bound feet but they were now out of his range of vision and he could not be certain of the brevity of her attire. She made great play with bare hands and arms as though to assure him they were not bound nor she under coercion. It was heartbreaking to have the law and rescue so close yet ask no help. The policeman seemed a kindly soul and she could imagine the startled shock his kindly face might show if Ratigan shot him. but they went their separate ways amiably and without suspicion.

"You did okay. Faith," Ratigan said easily. "I know the temptation you were under, I could feel the vibrations coming from you in waves. Let's hope the constable didn't feel them, too. Do you realize you just chose enslavement?"

"I chose to save a life."

"Well, okay, you saved the poor, silly bastard from a bullet. But these sort of encounter is going to increase in your life. Little by little its going to throw you more and more under my wing." He gave her a small, shy grin. "Not that I'm complaining, I like you."

They reached Lune before midday, seeing its crumbling yellow stone and the surround of unkept garden. Faith Baldwin knew this was The Place. Here was a place to dream dreams and see visions. Perhaps amid such loveliness Ratigan would find the peace to turn him from a killing machine into to some one she could love. They were met by the owner, awaiting their arrival and therein lay a shock!

Adrian Moore was a personable male of Ratigan's own age, they had shared the academic life but after the London School their paths had diverged to take Ratigan to the killing of Englishmen and Adrian to the renovated gate house of Castle Lune to write the stories which later made him famous as a master of fantasy. But, unseen beneath the surface, the two young men cherished a blood loyalty to The Cause, Adrian more choosing to hide his feelings with the ephemeral freeing of his native land to become a quiet recluse living with books and dogs and horses. If there had been a woman in his life, none knew her name. He looked now at Faith Baldwin with startled approval.

"Mind if I keep my maiden safe?" Ratigan asked with the easy familiar of old friendship. He unknotted the cord from Faith's toes and ankles, he cheerily demanded. "This way, sweetheart, let Adrian kiss your pretty hand but then you know what."

Faith was reserving a judgment, she allowed her hand to be gallantly raised to Adrian's lips before turning her back to the men and crossing her wrists in readiness. While Ratigan was busy tugging and knotting, Adrian inquired, "I say, old chap, is that really necessary? She isn't dangerous, is she?"

"Sure she's dangerous and she's accustomed to being tied," Ratigan retorted in the same vein of flippancy. "Tell our host you're accustomed to having your hands tied, Faith. Tell him you enjoy it and wouldn't feel right if it wasn't done."

Irish fun is hard to ignore. Her hands and arms firmly secured. Faith turned to face her two companions. "I don't really enjoy it, Mr. Moore, but I've become so accustomed to being bound I feel a trifle naked if I'm not. Please excuse the brevity of this shirt." She twinkled at him mischievously. "You could always look the other way."

"What I'm looking at, dear lady, are those scarlet indentations around your ankles, that must have hurt."

"Of course it hurt, but that's one of the little problems of being a professional prisoner. You can ask Mr. Ratigan but I'm sure that's what I've become."

Adrian Moore was obviously not to be easily shocked. His lunch at the luxurious gate house was superb and if it was needful for Faith to kneel beside her master's chair to be fed by her master's hand, he raised no eyebrow and made no demur. It was obvious his worship of Ratigan went deep. The two men spoke mostly of other days and Faith willingly enough accepted her role as the silent slave. Her relationship to the British Parliament was referred to only briefly.

"I'll bet poor old Baldwin is raising the roof in White Hall," Adrian remarked reflectively. "Remarkable how you've kept this girl out of sight, Ratigan. What are you trying to do, convert her?"

Ratigan laughed at the question. "Nice thought," he admitted casually. "But Miss Baldwin is under a tremendous handicap, no matter how she might protest, my boys and I would always suspect she was putting on an act with escape in mind. I'm leaving it to Faith herself to find a way around this hurdle. In the meantime her hands stay tied."

There was a dreaming feeling about the place Faith found agreeable. She sat back upon her heels, all of her that matter respectably covered, and listened to the drone of voices, it would have been easy to fall asleep. She realized that Lune was one of those places imposing magic upon a mechanical world. It that seen its Adrians and Ratigans come and go and viewed them with a indulgent Irish eye.

There tour of the ancient ruin set Faith's heart to thudding once again. There was in intimacy about choosing their bedroom and the kitchen and the lounge. Ratigan's boys would be busy cleaning up but the potential was there. There was potential for a great many activities, there were also empty stone-walled rooms Faith eyed with disfavor. When they came to the actual dungeons she was close to panic when forced to view their dank and dismal gloom. A girl locked and chained in such a place would have nothing to live for. She begged, simply and without shame, "Ratigan, please don't ever lock me in one of these. I simply couldn't bear it. There's nothing I could ever do to deserve this."

They laughed it off, and went up into the sunlight but a memory of dark stone and rusty chains lingered in Faith's mind. There was something distressingly logical about placing a naked girl in a dungeon and keeping her well chained therein. It was a convenient disposition, especially if the premises were being searched. Faith recalled vividly the awful doors which, when closed, became a part of the wall itself no one could detect. She shuttered and forced herself to be aware of male discussion.

"Why don't you chuck the whole sad business, Ratigan," Adrian asked pensively, "you're fighting a war you can never win. And if you did win it things wouldn't be any different or better than they are now."

Ratigan's retort was bitter, "Okay then, but what the hell to you expect me to do, Adrian, takes money to eat?"

"I've got money. I'll start you off in a new life. Marry a nice simple Irish girl and get yourself some babies."

"I don't notice you, Adrian, having either of those. I'd sooner see you join me and carry a gun."

They bantered back and forth but at the same time took measurements and made calculations. The old castle took on new and important signs as they walked along its passages. When it came time to part Adrian Moore tipped a finger beneath Faith's chin and kissed her warmly on the lips. "Put up with him," he suggested earnestly. "Ratigan's a man looking for his soul, he may die in the finding of it. But be kind to him.. . "

He bestowed on Faith a shy, boyish grin. "In the meantime, if things get too rough for you, remember there's always me."

"Why don't you untie me now and let me go?"

"Because you belong to Ratigan. Ratigan needs you and I'm his friend."

Adrian had said it all.

CHAPTER TWO - Tar and Feathers

The little car sped them back to the encampment by another road. There were plenty of gravel tracks but very little pavement. Ratigan was silent. No body bothered to untie Faith's hands so she was now tight bound at wrists and ankles. She was little bothered by the double restraint, snuggling into the corner to easy her arms, her mind vivid with memories of Lune.

"You and Adrian love each other," she said quietly to the man behind the wheel. "I mean nice and decent kind of love, not that other thing?"

"I suppose we do, Adrian means a lot to me. He's something I'll never be." He laughed shortly. "Adrian is an Irish gentleman."

"I once read that Irish girls were compelled to immigrate because their own men paid no attention to them." Faith continued earnestly, "Is that true?"

"Probably, but does it matter!"

Faith knew it mattered a great deal, wives and revolutions did not mix. She longed to pursue the topic but dared not. It would only get Ratigan angry and he might gag her, something he had often spoke of but had never done. Playing it safe, she asked, "Are me going to move to Lune?"

"Yes, but slowly over a bit of time. Adrian is going to fix up whatever living quarters we need and make a workshop for the jeeps. He's got money." There came a short reflective silence. "Adrian likes you.

He asked me to set you free but understood my refusal. Adrian is clever, he should turn his intellect to something better than those whimsical fantasies he writes about."

"I'd write fanciful things, too, if I lived in Lune."

Ratigan grunted. "I'll get you a pencil and paper then because that's where you'll be going."

Amusement filtered through her quaint, "I can't write a book with my hands tied."

Ratigan grunted, amused. "I suppose that's a hint. Save your breath. I won't untie you." He laughed outright. "I've got to hand it to you females, you never miss a chance for a plug, you never let up. I ought to whip you for it but you amuse me. Are you serious about the book?"

"I've never written one but I would like to try, if you'll fasten me so I have my hands. There's an enchantment about Lune."

Ratigan's reply was lost in disaster. A police car emerged from a layby. The officers who left the car were uniformed but of decidedly higher rank than the constable they had encountered earlier. The request for the driver's license was polite but firm. Faith Baldwin sat in frozen horror. Any inquiring eye could see that she was tightly bound and there was an air of authority about the two men.

"Perhaps you and your wife would be kind enough to get out of the car. Sir."

The license was not returned. It happened with shocking speed. With an officer at either window Ratigan fired at point blank. The gunshots in the little car were shattering. Faith buried her face in the seat cushion and wept in terror.

"You've killed them, you've killed them! Oh, Ratigan!"

Ratigan made no reply, he was busy with two dead bodies, fumbling in their clothing and then dragging them into the ditch. He then started the police car, headed it back the way they had come then jumped from it as it continued a slow progress in low gear. It went a surprising distance before veering off into the ditch and killing the engine. Ratigan got back behind the wheel and as they resumed their journey said jauntily, "Silly bastards, should have minded their own business." He looked sideways at the weeping girl. "Don't take on so. Faith, it's just one more incident. They'll get a hero's burial and no one will ever know who fired the shots."

"But.. .but.. .it's murder! Ratigan, you killed two men!"

"Not murder, sweetheart-war! Two dead Englishmen we can add to the tally."

"But they weren't English, they were Irish! Those uniforms were Irish police.. . . " Faith was aghast, trembling.

"I didn't notice, they're all the same to me."

Faith Baldwin knew she should hate this man at her side but there was no hatred in her heart, only sorrow. More than ever she realized the hopelessness of Ratigan's Cause. He would kill. kill, and one day himself fall lifeless from a bullet. She could not doubt his terrible sincerity in this killing of two men he saw as enemies. But the incident, terrible as it had been, changed nothing, she was still tied hand and foot and the prisoner of a man her father could count as many times a murder. She had never felt so broken and baffled in her life. But Ratigan lowered the window of the car to allow the soft, warm Irish air to repossess them until journey's end. There Faith was picked up bodily while a shadowy, anonymous figure drove away in the car she would never see again. Ratigan carried her to the barn and upstairs to fling her on their bed. Outside, beneath the silver Irish moon, the farmstead slept in innocence.

Morning disclosed the plan for The Bhoys to slip away singly or in couples to converge upon Lune over the period of a week, attracting no attention. They would walk, ride bicycles or thumb their way, it was all very clever. And the killing of two policemen was scarcely mentioned. Quite possibly it was with a view of diverting Faith's memory of murder that Ratigan arranged the kidnap and the Court.

The Bhoys had their own name for it. It was not a kidnap it was an "arrest." Their Court vested itself in its own authority and dealt out its own sentence without benefit of law. Faith realized the make-believe pretense of a court was purely for the entertainment of the group. While it had never been Ratigan's habit to attend such things he did so now out of consideration of his own personal prisoner who's personal feelings were a mixture of curiosity and repulsion. When they left to attend the affair Ratigan strung his small surprise.

"Got them from the two Bobbies I killed last night," he said offhandedly while holding up the two pairs of shining handcuffs with keys to fit. "A gift of the Queen of England." he proclaimed sardonically. "You could wear them with pride, sweetheart. They're going to be damned convenient for looking after you."

Faith Baldwin gazed fascinated at the steel circlets and sturdy and link. One was the regular English "Darby." while the second pair she recognized from American television. Either would hold her with equal authority. Irritably she exclaimed, "Good Heavens, Ratigan, I'm not a criminal or a convict. Do you have to use those things on me?"

"Damn it girl, you've been complaining about being roped. I would have thought handcuffs improved your social status."

Belatedly, Faith recognized a virtue. It was hateful to have her hands tied most of the time and handcuffs must surely be more comfortable than the cut of the cord. Holding up the American model, Ratigan invited, "Over here, my pretty one." He grinned. "I think this is technically known as 'putting you in irons.'"

In unwilling curiosity Faith did as she was told, turning her back to have her hands untied and then holding out her right wrist for the bite of metal jaws. She found the clicking of the ratchet a spine-tingling novelty. With her free hand she tested the snug fit of the chrome band then gasped in astonishment as Ratigan clicked the other cuff on his own left wrist. "Where ever we go, we go together, sweetheart," he told her with a sly wink. "It will give a rest not having you beefing about tied hands. If you complain about this handcuff you'll go right back to some nice thin twine I've been keeping in reserve."

Miss Polly Malone was, as yet, intact. She was also fiercely angry and desperately afraid. Her clothes were torn as in a struggle and her wrists and elbows tied tight behind her back. A rope hobble shortened her steps to where she could not run. Standing as the central figure of a drama, she glared around at smirking male faces and the sober countenance of the farmer and his wife who were privileged to watch and hopefully approve the punishment of a young woman who had failed to support the Cause.

One of the Bhoys referred as "Cully" took the part of public prosecutor while the amiable Johnny Catlin was the maiden's only defense. Faith's heart went out to the girl as she realized Polly Malone really had no defense at all, she was already condemned.

There was much testimony from many witnesses, most of it hearsay. Polly Malone was her own worst enemy, vehemently excoriating all and sundry with her fervent declarations that what she did in private with a British soldier was her own affair. The condemned maiden compounded her own felony by a graphic descriptions of her activities with the military forces of The Oppressor and with ill-advised promises of future intentions. The poor girl struggled constantly against her binding and even contrived to trip and fall over her hobbled feet. She was lifted erect by the kindly hands of her appointed defender who had lamentably failed to defend any of her rights whatsoever. Such reasoning as Johnny Catlin chose to advance was instantly shot down by the vicious Cully. In a pregnant pause for breath before sentencing, Polly Malone relieved herself of fervid sentiments.

"You're a rotten lot of sods, so you are. Treating a girl like this. It's a bad cess I'll be saying to ye while I have the chance. Assholes, that's what ye be, assholes. With not a man among the bunch of you to give me a bit of help. If you don't let me go, you'll have the army around ye ears, so ye will." She sniffed pitifully. "I ain't done nothing what no other girl does. too. If what you're needing is a little bit of Irish love I'll give it gladly if you'll set me free. I'm not guilty of nothing at all."

Miss Polly Malone was soberly sentenced to be stripped naked, violated by any of the Bhoys who desired to possess her charms, whipped, and, as a grand finale, she was to be tarred and feathered after her curly locks had been shorn bald. She would then be free to go.

It was a horrific punishment for any girl. Faith tugged restlessly at her tethered hand but knew enough to keep silent. It would probably be too easy to find herself in company with the girl already sentenced. Faith had no wish to be bald and knew her words would fall on deaf ears. She watched the condemned girl stagger as if from shock then sink to the ground and weep in a bitterness of despair. It was Cully who stripped her naked and invited the assembly to partake of her sexual nature. He went so far as to take her bare legs and spread them far apart in obscene display. But. strangely, no man claimed the privilege. Watching the suddenly stony faces, Faith Baldwin realized she was witnessing some form of Irish purity, or perhaps the band considered it unwise to sully their reputation by pointing fingers accusing them of rape. They were, after all, a political entity.

Little time was wasted. The hands of the naked girl were bound in front and she was hoisted off her feet by a rope across the sturdy bough of a farmyard tree. The whip made Faith wish to laugh. It was a long, curved ornate affair such as coachmen use and it was easy to think that it might not truly hurt a girl's skin. But this was soon disapproved by its application upon quivering girl flesh while Polly Malone screamed to heaven, not without the interjection of choice, ripe adjectives. As the slender wickedness cut ruthlessly at her nakedness she became a puppet on a string, leaping this way and that in feverish contortions to escape the pain. The whip, which was shared by every male desiring to use it, snapped shrewdly into every crevasse the girl's struggled disclosed. No part of Polly Malone escaped its kiss. It was not long before Faith Baldwin urgently whispered, "Oh, make them stop. Ratigan, make them put an end to this, no girl deserves this treatment."

Ratigan raised the feminine hand chained to his and kissed it gently in admonishment. He whisper was as urgent as her own. "That girl has condemned herself and she belongs to the boys. It's not for any Laird to spoil the pleasure of his men. Keep quiet and watch."

The struggles of the lovely young nudity at the end of the tethering rope were slowing fast. Every part of Polly Malone's youthful skin was crisscrossed by the sharp scarlet excoriations of the carriage whip which had been used upon her by many experienced hands. From time to time she looked frantically back over a shoulder as though for help but such words as she still uttered were concerned only with the retribution she would bring down upon the heads of all present. When her contortions ceased entirely and she hung motionless beneath the lash. Cully called a halt. It was now time for the shearing of Polly Malone's most beautiful hair. An intermission was called by mutual consent. While the beer was passed around the girl remained hanging from the tree. She was now sobbing quietly to herself.

It was the farmer who provided a sturdy kitchen chair for the ritualistic cutting of a maiden's crowning glory. Polly Malone was bound to it by strand after strand of brutal rope, binding hands and arms and every portion of her torso to prohibit motion. In addition a band of wide, heavy leather was buckled around her neck to also deny movement to the delinquent head. Once more it was Cully who showed up with shaving mug, lather, and razor. In addition, a sheep shearing device was planted by the distraught girl, the handle of which was vigorously turned by the farmer's son. The whole procession of menace was too much for Polly Malone.