This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
In the small village of Stamford, centrally located where roads, streams, and commerce intersect, there is a large assembly hall. It is at the center of activity in that village. There is a farmers’ market downstairs every Saturday and Wednesday, and another kind of market upstairs whenever there is a ball or other social occasion.
In that social market, men seek flirtations or conquests; whatever they might be allowed to get away with. Rarely, there are those whose taste runs to seeking a wife, and a more lasting relationship, if that is what it will take to become intimately close to a desirable woman.
Cautious women in that environment are constantly challenged to parry and resist the more mischievous intents of men, while sorting through them for a potential husband, and then seeking to ensnare him in whatever way she must, but without giving away too much of her reputation and self-respect in ways that others might notice. It is a dangerous game for a woman. Especially as there are more intent predators stalking those same grounds
Jane Dawkins escaped the confining atmosphere of the ballroom on the upper level of the hall to walk the almost empty open space of the enclosed farmers’ market downstairs. It reeked of cheeses and dried herbs. She took a deep breath of the cooler, cleaner air that met her as she descended the stairs away from the noise and the crush of so many perspiring bodies. No one tried to stop her. They may even not notice that she was gone. She decided to walk into the cool outside air for just a few moments.
She was alone, but would not be that way for long. Others would soon follow her example once the dance had ended. The music of the dance faded, ready for the dancers to rearrange themselves for the next dance; a quadrille, and to find their partners that had spoken for that particular dance. Others would soon come down to get away from the oppressive warmth.
As she passed one of the doors to the storage rooms at that level, she felt her arm grabbed out of the darkness, and she was yanked off her feet into that room she had just been passing, unseen by anyone. She had no time to let out a cry, and would not have been heard anyway above the beginning strains of the orchestra.
The one who snatched her, closed the door as he covered her head with a blanket, threw her to the floor and lay across her to stifle any noise she might make. When he realized that she would not be followed and had been unable to let out enough of a cry to be heard over the noise from upstairs, he relaxed. He moved most of his weight off her, pulled her long skirts up and over her head to pinion her flailing arms and to further muffle her shouts, and lay across her again. She would not be heard now.
She struggled beneath him, fighting to breathe. She could hear him chuckling above her. When she relaxed for a moment, he wrenched her clothing up from behind her too, and up to her head to trap her arms even better. He could see her now entirely naked lower body, revealed in the weak light from the one lantern he had brought with him. She was kicking out desperately, trying to catch him with her feet, but he was lying across her and well out of their way.
There were tantalizing glimpses of straw-colored hair on her Mount of Venus as she struggled and kicked. He lay even more heavily upon her as she tried to turn first this way, then that as she writhed beneath him fighting for air. When she was exhausted, he tied her hands, poking up out of her skirt by her head, trapping them there as she continued to fight—more weakly now—to bring her dress down away from her face so that she might breathe. He had prepared for this.
When he felt her exhale beneath him, he brought her skirts down off her face for a just a moment. As she opened her mouth to inhale, then scream, he stuffed a rag into her mouth, risking getting bitten.
He was now in complete control—her threshing legs posed no threat to him—and he could now take his time about the more important things. He slid his hands up on her body, moved her clothing higher to trap her arms more securely while leaving her head uncovered. He revealed her breasts as he pushed her dress up on her, then excitedly fondled and kissed them, mouthing at her nipples as she lay there, unable to do anything to stop him. Knowing what would follow.
When she became still once more, he pushed her clothing up and off her body entirely, to trap only her upper arms, leaving her head exposed enough to see him. She had gone quiet by then, starved of air, able to breathe only through her nostrils. He brought out his knife then, and proceeded to cut her clothing away from her arms but without freeing them. He leaned close in to her head and spoke to her in a tormenting voice, knowing she was entirely helpless to do anything to defend herself now.
“You are going to have a very exposed and embarrassing walk home, Jane, after I let you go, but I suspect that how you are to make your way home will be the least of your problems by the time I have finished with you. I shall follow you, of course.” He hinted at a continuation of what he was about to do to her.
He caressed her breasts as he changed his position to lie heavily upon her, forcing her legs apart with his own, and then with his lower body—aided by her kicking wildly when she felt what he was doing.
She regretted having come downstairs without a friend or her sister with her. That voice and that face were familiar to her at a distance. Humphrey Weston! He was never tolerated at any of their assemblies but was always close by.
He laughed by her head as she made one last effort to kick out at him, until she collapsed once more out of utter exhaustion.
“I have waited for this opportunity for a long time to catch you alone like this, Jane. It will be worth the wait. For me, if not for you. I almost had you at the last dance. I doubt you will wish anyone to know what has happened to you when you leave here, and that has happened to others down here and in many other similar places.” He had the gall to smile at her and even continued to torment.
“It is strange how other animals become more docile when they are on their backs as you are, but not a woman. Not at first. Women struggle and fight for a while so that they can plead that they resisted, but they soon give up. Some even enjoy it.”
He sat up over her, positioned himself between her legs, and undid himself. He pulled his shirt up, and pushed his trousers down to be trapped beneath his knees. Her eyes were wide with fear at what she knew was about to happen to her, and what she could see standing out from his body, ready to injure her in the worst way. She was horrified by what she could see of him, with mounting concern at what he was doing with himself, but at the same time was mesmerized by it as a bird is said to watch a snake. As he watched her face for her reaction, he eased the skin back from that intimidating member, to make it even more proud and ready for her.
He could see the fear in her eyes at what he was doing, and was about to do to her. None of them were ever prepared for this. He smiled, gaining some satisfaction from seeing her concern. They writhed, kicked, screamed—ineffectively, with their mouths gagged—and then they went limp and gave up, or fainted, once he pushed deep into them. They could be together, like this, doing Moll Peatly’s jig for the next few hours for all anyone upstairs might notice.
“Yes, Jane. Soon this will be yours to enjoy for the rest of the evening. All of it. Like the others, you will be anxious to say nothing afterward to ruin your reputation. If you manage to get home without being discovered by any others like me after I have finished with you, then this shall be our little secret, known only to you and to me—at least for several months—after I have entertained myself royally in your tight little virginal garden.” He watched for her reaction, seeing all that he hoped to see.
“It is still virginal isn’t it?” He knew it was. “Devastating for you, however, if it were to become known, as it is sure to be, one way or another. I will see to that. You have far more to lose than I have. It is always embarrassing to have such an awkward secret found out in such a small village, along with the damaging rumor that you had been compliant not only with me, but with others on similar occasions. Especially if you become pregnant, as others have done.” He smiled and continued to torment her as he fondled her breasts again. He held her face then, and kissed her. With that rag stuffed into her mouth he had no fear of her biting him.
He mused, feeling in a more tormenting mood than usual. “I think I shall hang your dress on the flagpole outside of the Assembly Hall and start the rumors flying. Others may not recognize it, but your own family will.”
She could not help but listen to everything he said as he alternately played with himself and fondled and touched her upon her breasts or between her legs, savoring the look of desperation and panic in her eyes. He toyed with all of his victims like this before that final step. She well knew what her fate was to be. Her life was about to be ruined as the lives of other young women in the village had been.
“You would be amazed at how many of the women in this village share this same experience but have kept it secret, and there will always be more to join our secret little band of despoiled virgins. Even your own sisters eventually.”
She kicked out in protest, but he had expected that, and just chuckled as he settled more snugly between her bare legs, forcing them further apart with his hands on her knees. He leaned forward and grasped her hair behind her head, holding her in a firm grip, waiting until she became still, and then moved even closer to her between her legs. He moved his other hand between their bodies, caressing her between her thighs; becoming even more forceful as she tried to resist. She felt his fingers move along her, but not so gently, as he detected what she was trying to do to deny him entry to her. She breathed with a snort at what he forcefully did to her, forcing a finger into her, causing her pain.
They none of them gave in willingly at first. She was resisting him as much as she could, and instinctively tensed herself to keep him out of her, even as she threw herself around and tried to shout, despite the gag. She would not be able to refuse him entry for long. It always began this way. He slowly forced his finger deeper into her, and followed it with another. He was hurting her and pulling her about as he did so, intending to open her up as much as he could to ease his way. He didn’t care how much it might hurt her. It would soon hurt much more when he positioned himself just inside her, and then forced that weapon of his into her without any hesitation or care for what she might feel. They usually tensed up then in agony, just before they collapsed and gave up as all of the fight left them.
After opening her as he had, to her great discomfort, he repositioned himself above her, keeping his fingers in her, moving her legs further aside with his own body, pushing them as wide apart as he could. He slowly discovered more of her, in preparation to follow it with that other, much larger, part. He was already primed and in position, so that even as he slowly removed his fingers, he would replace them, and push forcefully into her while she was helpless to do anything about it, caring nothing for the pain he would cause her. He had done this many times before with others. She would stiffen up in real pain when he did that, before collapsing in resignation, perhaps fainting at the shock and the pain of it, as others had done. It made it easier for him when that happened.
She closed her eyes and prayed.
He knew she would dare say nothing afterward. None of his other victims had, after they had managed to find their way home after the village had gone quiet. They had been naked and helpless to avoid whatever else might befall them. Sometimes he could not resist following them, taking them violently yet again, several times even, as the mood overcame him once more. They rarely got home before dawn.
It could only be a matter of time before a brother or a father would learn of it and think to shoot him down in the dark, or knife him, but it hadn’t happened yet, and he doubted that it would. These young women tended to keep their embarrassing little secret from everyone, as far as they could. He didn’t care. He was too excited to bother about such minor details as brothers and fathers at just that very moment.
He managed to find her entrance with his rounded tip as he simultaneously removed his fingers, and forced himself into her; slowly at first, as she tensed up beneath him. Once well-positioned, he would make that final push, over-riding all of her resistance.
At that point where he took his weight upon his hands beside her, and began to brace himself to push deeper into her to complete what he had begun, Master Weston felt his head pulled back by the hair, and an arm encircle his neck. He was unable to execute any more of his plan, but was lifted bodily from her. He found that he could no longer breathe, and was fighting not only for air, but for his life.
For the first time in his brief existence, he felt for himself what it was like to be a victim, and entirely helpless.
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