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It’s odd to be sitting here in the Florida sunshine as a great grandmother and to remember that I never even met my first American until I was almost eighteen. That was when the big war was being fought in Europe. I’m an old, old lady now but I still remember that windy April afternoon when I ran an errand to Mill Cottage and everything that happened to me there.
My home was in a small rural village in England and I was waiting to be drafted by the government for work in a munitions factory. It was something I was looking forward to because most of the factories were in the cities, and I’d never been to a city. My father was a farm laborer who’d spent his entire life in our village. The only break in his dawn to dusk chores was when he acted as warden in the village church every Sunday. Perhaps it was because he was such a well respected member of the Vicar’s flock that I became a Sunday School teacher. Not that I minded, as there was very little else to do while I waited to be sent away. There were no more dances, no more church socials, not with all the young men away fighting Hitler and all the older people having to work twice as hard to keep things going. The village had become a stagnant little backwater and now even my girl friends were leaving to help make tanks and shells.

I sometimes wonder how long it would have taken me to wake up to real life if I hadn’t run that errand for the Vicar. Anyway, I did, and Mill Cottage turned out to be an instant education by courtesy of our American allies and a pair of English courtesans. And all because the Vicar wanted to ingratiate himself with Mrs Harrington by sending her a bottle of home made dandelion wine!

Mrs Harrington wasn’t a villager at all, nor her friend who lived with her, Mrs Walsh. They were a couple of snobby upper class London wives who’d only moved to the countryside to escape the blitz. They were far richer and more sophisticated than any of us, they wore fancy clothes, their children were in private boarding schools and their husbands were stockbrokers or something. Whatever they did for a living, Mr Harrington and Mr Walsh only came down about once a month to visit their wives. I think perhaps they were quite enjoying the war as temporary bachelors. Mrs Harrington and Mrs Walsh, on the other hand, were clearly pining for London and were only kept away by fear of the bombing. Which all seemed like good reasons to me why they didn’t deserve anything as a gift, not even a bottle of dandelion wine. Another good reason was that I was the one who was going to have to pedal out with it to their home at Mill Cottage, three miles away from the village.

Transport was always a problem in the war. Very few people owned cars, and in any case civilian fuel supplies were so tightly rationed there was none to spare except for the most necessary journeys, so anybody with a bicycle and a pair of strong young legs was always being asked to run errands. Mostly I didn’t mind, but I knew just as well as the Vicar that the only reason he was asking me to run this errand was to curry favor with our local ladies of substance. Perhaps he was hoping there might be a handsome subscription from them eventually for his church restoration fund. Yet, young and naive as I was, I didn’t think he had much chance of getting any cash from either of those two, no matter how deep their purses. Not that I knew anymore about them than the local gossip, though there was plenty of that.

In a village as small as mine a couple of women living on their own caused a lot of loose talk, most of it nonsense, I thought. They were good looking women though, that was true enough. They were much of an age, in their early thirties I suppose. Mrs Harrington had brilliant red hair, which she let grow in a long pony tail all the way down to her waist and always wore rather flamboyant earrings. She was tall and trim and apparently played tennis and golf very well. The dashing air of self confidence in the way she walked around the village always had the men looking after her swishing skirt and the long legs underneath it. As for Mrs Walsh, she was a little shorter and full figured who wore her blonde hair in a high combed style. Both of them dressed like models, even in wartime, right down to nylon stockings, an almost unheard of luxury then. Perhaps there was some truth in those rumors about fancy cars belonging to black market crooks being seen parked near the cottage.

Which was really why I decided to deliver that lousy bottle of wine. Because I was curious about whether anything out of the ordinary did go on at Mill Cottage. Not that I was likely to be any the wiser after I’d been there of course, but at least it was an excuse to go and knock on the door. The back door, of course. I knew the ladies wouldn’t want a farm worker’s daughter knocking on their front door as if I was their social equal.

Having decided to do the job, I found myself heading out of the village on a blowy April afternoon with tree branches flouncing around in a cold wind which was blowing straight into my face. By the time I got to Mill Cottage I was so fed up with the whole stupid business that I just wanted to turn around and get an easy ride home before the wind changed direction. I wheeled my bike down the small gravel drive at the side of the cottage and then stopped in surprise at what I saw.

Parked up behind the cottage, completely out of sight of the road, was a small car quite unlike anything I’d ever seen before. It was square at the front and back, painted olive green, with a raised canvas hood and a long radio aerial sticking up at the back. Obviously it was a military vehicle of some kind. There were white stars on the sides and I realised it must belong to the American army. Apart from anything else the steering wheel was on the wrong side. Then I remembered a picture I’d seen in the newspaper, with General Montgomery riding in a car that looked like this. A joop, or a jeep, or something like that was what it had been called. I didn’t know anything about American cars. In fact I didn’t know anything at all about Americans, except from what I’d seen on the films and newsreels at the cinema. All I’d ever seen of them in real life were a few big planes flying overhead with these same white star badges on the wings.

Of course I was very curious about what the joop was doing at Mill Cottage. A large metal box with yellow lettering and numbers on it was wedged in between the two front seats. I thought perhaps it might contain bullets, which seemed even more likely when I saw that the lid was closed with a padlock. Then I took a second look and realized that the hasp was hanging free. Anybody who wanted to could lift up the lid and look inside the box.

There was nobody in the back yard, nobody at the closed back door, no flutter of movement at any of the cottage’s curtains. All that was needed was for me to lean inside and flick open the top of the box, and if anybody came out I could say I was just wanted to see the inside of the joop. So I leaned in and opened the lid, to find that what I was prying into was a treasure chest of off-the-ration luxuries.There were packets and packets of cigarettes in strange soft packets which had a picture of a camel on them. I wondered why, because I didn’t think there were any camels in America – I’d never seen any on the films, anyway, There were bars of chocolate, there were jars of coffee, there were the protruding necks of four bottles.

I lifted one of them out far enough to read the label – genuine Haig whiskey! So much for the Vicar’s dandelion wine as a home front comfort. Yet the most impressive thing of all to me were the cellophane wrappings with nylon stockings in them. Now I knew how Mrs Harrington and Mrs Walsh were able to wear real nylons whilst the rest of us had to make do with seams painted on the backs of our legs! And perhaps the three boxes of contraceptive sheaths mixed in amongst all these luxury goods supplied a clue as to why they were getting such treats.

Of course, even in my remote little village, we’d heard stories about how US serviceman were incredibly rich, with access to all kinds of fancy supplies, and how successful they’d been in spreading them out amongst the lower sort of girls in return for. . . well, in return. But this was the home of two respectable married women. It couldn’t be that they were playing fast and loose with the Yanks, surely?

And just as I was turning that question over in my mind I heard a woman laugh from somewhere nearby. Bewildered, I looked around and realised that the sound come from the wash house on the other side of the small yard. Smoke was rising out of the chimney, which suddenly seemed very odd, because I knew that Mrs Harrington and Mrs Walsh had a woman come in on every Monday to do their washing and that day wasn’t a Monday.

This is were I have to give everybody a little bit of an history lesson in how domestic chores were done in the old days. Before electricity and washing machines came along the usual thing in most English houses was to do the laundry in a ‘copper’. A copper was a very large circular sink – made of copper coated metal – big enough to hold a week’s houshold laundry together with several gallons of water. Coppers were usually built into the top of a large square brick fireplace about waist height. Except in the larger houses it was always put into an outside building, with a hand operated water pump next to it. The housewife’s job was to keep working the handle on the pump to fill the copper up with water, with occasional breaks to tend to the fire underneath it, until the copper was half full and the water as hot as possible. Then the dirty laundry went in and the whole lot was stirred around many times until it was considered washed. Afterwards it was taken out and everything rinsed in a wooden cask. And after that – well, I’ll tell you about those arrangements by and by. Anyway, the one thing you didn’t usually hear in a washouse was anybody laughing – there was too much hard work done in them for that. So I found it hard to believe our two high society ladies could be doing their own laundry, and even harder to believe they could be enjoying it.

The wash house door was closed. Of course, normally, if I’d have just opened it and walked in, because it wasn’t like going into a house uninvited. Most wash houses were usually shared by several houses anyway. This time though I could justify it to myself to be rather cautious, as Mill Cottage already seemed to have a guest, or guests. I was therefore perfectly entitled to take a cautious peek through one of the wash house windows before I disturbed anybody. At least that was what I told myself as I sought a way to satisfy my burning interest about what was going on in the place. So I walked around the small building until I found a small window misted up on the inside. So misted up that it was impossible to see through.

It was an infuriating situation because it was clearly the only window in the wash house and it was ideally situated, on the far side from the cottage and facing a high hedge row at the back of the cottage garden. Nobody could see me standing there, but I couldn’t see anything either. If it had been an ordinary sort of window the situation would have stayed like that. Only it wasn’t an ordinary sort of window, it was one of the old fashioned type made of lots of small diamond shaped panes of glass set in lead strips. Old fashioned and flimsy, and one of the panes near the top of the window had been knocked out. If only I could just lift myself up a foot or so …

Looking around, I saw several old bricks at the bottom of the wall, stacked together and almost completely hidden from sight by overgrowing grass and nettles. I plucked out three of the bricks, carefully, but still got stung on the wrist by a nettle in my hurry. With the bricks put back on top of each other and with my right foot resting on the top one I was able to lift myself up high enough to put my eye to the gap in the window.

The copper was set in the very middle of the wash house. A steady fire was burning in the grate underneath the copper, with a gently rising cloud of steam above it, and a considerable pile of firewood still waiting to be used. There was a table, a plain old wooden table, near to the fireplace. On the table was a naked man.

Well, naked except for a green towel draped over his bottom as he lay on his stomach on top of the table. On top of the table and on top of some more towels which had been spread across it like table clothes. His hands were resting near his head, the bent arms showing great bulges of muscle on the upper biceps. His face was turned away from me but it was easy to see that he was in the prime of life and physical condition, at least six feet tall, and heavily tanned from the sun in a very un-English way. Another alien thing was the way his black hair had been cut right down almost to his skull, top and sides.

If I was astonished by the sight of the American, as I supposed he must be, I was even more astonished at seeing a woman leaning over him, rubbing her palms over his shoulders and neck muscles. It was Mrs Harrington, smiling as I’d never seen her smile before, Mrs Harrington wearing a white bed sheet wrapped around her like a Dorothy Lamour sarong, and the sheet so damp it seemed to be sticking to her like a second skin. In fact it was obvious she had nothing on underneath the sheet at all!

This was like something the Vicar often preached about in church, about Soddom and Gomorah and all the world’s wickedness. And here in his own parish, a married woman indecently dressed was putting her hands on another man! Yet if I was shocked I was fascinated by the scene, scarcely daring to breathe. Even better was to come though, because Mrs Walsh came around the copper carrying a tray in her hands, a rectangular wooden tray with one small drinking glass on it. Incredibly, she was wearing nothing but a sheet as well, a blue one this time. The only thing which seemed to be holding it up over her breasts was a clothes peg visible in the quivering cleavage between them.

The next thing that happened, astonishingly, was the sight of Mrs Walsh getting down on both her knees at the head of the table and holding the tray up to the man as if she was acting the role of a slave girl! He laughed and said something to Mrs Walsh I couldn’t catch, but she stood up again. In response he raised his other hand and my eyes bulged when I saw the huge shiny pistol in it. I’d never seen one before in my life except in gangster films. The Yank pointed the pistol at Mrs Walsh and she stood still. Then he said something else and Mrs Harrington took her hands off his shoulders and walked around behind Mrs Walsh. Then, and not believing it possible, I saw her reach up in front of her her friend and pull the clothes peg free, letting the sheet slide down over Mrs Walsh until she was standing in front of the man completely naked from the waist up!

Mrs Walsh held the tray underneath her well shaped breasts and gently lifted them up on it with the glass carefully balanced between the pale skinned mounds. She was watching the American as if unsure of his reactions. In the meantime Mrs Harrington stood there grinning, holding the blue sheet around the other woman’s waist. Then she let it fall down to the floor and Mrs Walsh was standing there without a stitch on. If somebody had fired off a shot gun directly behind me at that moment I don’t think I would even have turned my head. Yet this was still only the beginning.

Mrs Walsh slowly knelt down in front of the Yank again, being very careful not to spill the glass. Without any hurry at all he put down the gun grup gaziantep escort bayan on the table, reached out with his thumbs and forefingers and brazenly tweaked both of Mrs Walsh’s bared nipples jutting out over the edge of the tray!

Her hands were trembling. I knew they were because the tray was, and I knew the tray was trembling because both of the breasts piled up on top of it were quivering like newly set jellies. Mrs Walsh was staring down at her own vibrations and at the fingers playing on her with a kind of pursed mouthed concentration, apparently determined on keeping the glass from spilling over. As for Mrs Harrington she leaned forward over her friend and squeezed the Yank’s biceps as if to encourage him. Then I saw her bend forward a little closer as though he was telling her to do something. She nodded, smiled again, reached down with an extended finger between her companion’s breasts and apparently dipped it into the glass. Then the Yank released his grip on Mrs Walsh and Mrs Harrington immediately applied her long fingernail to the very same places, apparently smearing each of her friend’s nipples with a drop of liquid from the glass.

Talk about exciting! I was watching all this in complete disbelief. I saw Mrs Walsh wriggle further forward on her knees and lift the tray higher towards the Yank’s face. He had the pistol in his hand again and pointed it down towards her legs. Then he leaned forward and started to lick on each of the nipples in turn as Mrs Walsh apparently struggled to keep the tray level, struggling even more as the man slid further forward yet on the table and took a mouthful of her right tit into his opened mouth. The tray began quivering again and Mrs Walsh surprised me by suddenly laughing out aloud in the same way as I had first heard outside.

My impression was that the pistol wasn’t a real threat, more a kind of symbol of power. Neither of the women seemed to be in real fear, I was sure of that. They were playing out roles which they were willing to do and the gun was there as a kind of stage prop. Whatever was going on there was no doubt that both of them seemed totally unabashed in doing whatever the Yank wanted them to. It also seemed just as certain that one or both of them were soon going to get treated in the same way as married women were treated all the time. I certainly hoped so because I really wanted to watch that! I was also hoping that it wouldn’t be long before it happened because my eye was watering already with squinting through the small hole and my right ankle was aching from balancing awkwardly on the bricks. Still, it was well worth it because now Mrs Walsh had put down the tray and was holding each of her nipples in turn up to the Yank’s mouth, dribbling a few drops from the glass onto herself each time, apparently as a way of encouraging him to keep on sucking both of the jutting tips.

It was simply so obvious how excited she was, obvious not only because her teats were sticking out so much, but by the way she was offering them to him with an almost abject eagerness to please, as if she was a puppy lying on her back surrendering to the authority of the pack leader. When I remembered how the pair of them strutted around the village with their noses in the air – well, I would have given a fortune to have some kind of a magic crystal ball or television set at home which would show this scene over and over again. Not that I’d ever seen a television set, of course, but I had once met a man who said he’d watched one in London before the war.

Soon there was something better to see than any television. Mrs Harrington went back to the side of the table, where she had been before, on the opposite side of it to the window I was looking through. She calmly reached down and pulled the towel off the man’s bottom. As she was neatly folding it I stared at the sight, the paler rounds of flesh in the middle of the long stretches of well tanned skin. Then she put her hands on each of the taut buttocks and stroked them with her palms, just as she had done to his shoulders. The Yank stirred and moved around, then apparently lost interest in Mrs Walsh’s bosom, glancing back and lifting his bottom up an inch or so off the table. The reason why was probably because Mrs Harrington’s right hand had slid out of sight, down between the top of the legs, and the only place those long fingernails could be now was around his balls. It was like getting a bull aroused for a tupping session with a cow.

Mrs Walsh got up and walked around the table on my side, still stark naked and blocking my view of what was happening but apparently helping her friend in her work. Mrs Harrington stepped back and pulled down the top of her white sheet, revealing exactly what I expected to see: nothing but bare skin. Her breasts were a lot smaller than Mrs Walsh’s were, and she winked and smiled at her friend and ran her hands over herself before she stepped up to the table again. Her nipples were browner and larger in proportion to the other woman’s but just as taut.

Then I saw the American’s face for the clearly for the first time as he rolled over on his back. He was very good looking, with a strong chin and a straight nose, like the cowboys we saw in Hollywood films at the cinema. Or perhaps I was put in that way of mind by the pistol he was still holding. Mrs Harrington looked at his face, down at what was in front of her and then back at the man as if she had some great satisfaction in what she was seeing. I couldn’t see much myself because Mrs Walsh was in the way, but it seemed as if they were both playing with him together, which surely, I thought, there couldn’t be room for. Mrs Harrington moved sideways a step or so, leaned forward over the American, rested her hands on the other side of the table and began rubbing herself over him with her breasts dragging to and fro against the mat of curly black hair on the man’s powerful chest. She seemed to be enjoying the feeling. He laughed and put his free hand round behind her. Mrs Harrington moaned loud enough for me to hear as she wriggled her bottom around under the man’s touch. His other hand and the pistol in it was still pointing towards Mrs Walsh.

She moved around to the end of the table and I gaped at what I could see now, the jutting length of maleness that stood up proudly from the American’s loins. Without the slightest hesitation Mrs Harrington reached out to her side and stroked his length from top to bottom, from tip to balls, as calmly as if she was polishing a church candlestick – which was about the length and size of it as well. It didn’t seem necessary to threaten the women with a pistol when he could point something like that at them. Mrs Harrington certainly seemed to be fascinated by it and in watching her companion lean forward between his legs, further and further forward until her face was between his thighs. And then Mrs Walsh put out her tongue and lapped at the side of the rampant horn nearest to her.

Mrs Harrington giggled at the sight, still clutching the top of the Yank’s cock. Then she slid further up his body and lowered her head to kiss him full on the lips as he kept on fondling her amongst the folds of the rucked up sheet. After that she moved back again in the other direction, her tongue running over his body hair, until she was face to face with her friend. Mrs Walsh was still licking the Yank’s cock and both of their tongues met as if by appointment on the very tip of his straining flesh.

As for me, by this stage I wouldn’t have blinked if Adolf Hitler had goose stepped in singing ‘There’ll Always Be An England’ – I was past being surprised by anything. Our two most stuck up ladies, our local snobs, bellies down over a Yank soldier doing things I’d heard of but hardly believed possible. Both of them playing the same pink piccolo at the same time and to the same tune! But who would ever believe me if I told them? Oh, this was going to be good!

It was. First of all Mrs Harrington went to the side of the copper and picked up a small packet she tore open with her teeth. As she came back she took out what was inside it and put on the tip of his policeman’s helmet. With a lot of laughing the two respectable married ladies helped each other unroll the rubber sheath down over the American’s rearing organ, stretching the rubber so tightly it glinted in the flickering light from the open fireplace. It was obvious from the way that the man was rubbing himself up and down against their hands that there was a pressure bursting up inside him he urgently needed to relieve.

The Yank suddenly jumped up, grabbed Mrs Harrington’s sheet and pulled it off her body with one hand, to show she was wearing no more underneath it than her friend had been. Then he grabbed her by her ponytail and bent her forward over the table, still holding her hair and pressing the pistol against the side of her head.

Mrs Walsh leaned forward and reached down between the two of them, apparently positioning his cock for the first lunge forward into Mrs Harrington. When he moved his prisoner screeched like a scalded cat and then much louder again as the Yank jerked against her, wedging Mrs Harrington on that massive piston and beginning to pound it into her like the driving rod on a steam locomotive. Now he was on his feet I could see he was a giant of a man, as wide across the shoulder as the village well, with cords of muscle on him like a blacksmith. Mrs Harrington seemed like a puppet against him as he jerked her backwards one handed, then rammed her foward again with his hips. Not that she wasn’t helping as much as she could in sliding up and down his long inches, her hands gripping the table’s edge with whitened knuckles as she squealed like a slaughtered pig.

I wondered what each of them was feeling. The man was enjoying himself tremendously, proud of showing what he could do and obviously enjoying every movement. I thought he looked like a footballer scoring a goal with every stroke. Mrs Harrington – well, she making so much noise it seemed it might be more of a pain than a pleasure for her, until I saw her face and knew she was getting something out of the act that she had to have. Not just pleasure but a necessary fulfilment – like a moth fluttering above a candle that’s scorching its wings yet desperate to get even closer. It was fascinating.

Meanwhile Mrs Walsh was stepping off a chair onto the table. She stepped over the top of her friend then knelt down on top of her. Mrs Walsh’s bottom pinned Mrs Harrington to the table top, her hands resting on the other woman’s shoulders as if to make sure she couldn’t move.

The American put down the pistol, reached around Mrs Walsh with his huge hands and seized both of the plump breasts that hung down as if they were ripe fruit ready for picking. She seemed to enjoy that well enough, but I could see what she couldn’t, Mrs Harrington’s petulant expression at being held still and suddenly deprived of the Yank’s full attention. She twisted her head around to the left and then to her right, calling him to keep on fucking her. Yes, that was the word she actually used, loud enough for me to hear her, and with her supposed to be so middle class and posh. The Yank grinned in great good humour, suddenly looking like a schoolboy stealing a slice of cake, and then answered her begging with several thrusting strokes so powerful that I was sure the table was shoved forward an inch or so, even with all the weight that was on it. Mrs Harrington beat her palms flat on the table and honked – it’s the only word, through her nose and sounding just like a angry goose as her earrings jangled.

The man’s right hand dropped down onto Mrs Harrington’s spine in front of Mrs Walsh, then slid back to the bush of hair that was the same colour as Mrs Walsh’s hair. The fingers moved between the two women, underneath Mrs Walsh and up into her. Her thigh muscles tensed and her fingernails clutched at her friends shoulders as if she was riding her like a jockey, though it was clear that the only riding Mrs Harrington was concerned with was the one she was getting from the Yank. And it was then, at that moment, that Mrs Walsh lifted up her head, looked at me and shouted out in anger.

It was one of these times that you can see what’s going on in somebody’s mind without any need for words or even signs. She was already gasping for breath, her face screwed up and ruddy cheeked as she concentrated on her pleasures, and then she was suddenly staring at me and trying to warn the other two. The problem for her was that neither of them were interested right then in anything she had to say. As for me, I couldn’t believe she’d been able to spot my eye with everything else that had been taking her attention. Only when I looked down at the window did I realise what had happened. The fire had burnt down, the water in the copper wasn’t quite so hot now and some of the mist on the window had disappeared. Not much, but enough for me to see the firelight through it – which must mean, I supposed, that the upper part of my body was silhouetted against the daylight. Which was how Mrs Walsh must have seen that somebody was watching them. The question now was what to do next.

There was total confusion in my mind about whether to run away or apologise for being there. Then I decided that I was being a fool for thinking that any sort of an apology would get me out of this situation. The only thing to do was to get away as soon as possible. But Mrs Walsh was a lot more quick witted than I was. She forced herself up and back and looked down to where the Yank had put his pistol on top of the table. She reached for it, picked it up and aimed it directly at the window I was looking through.

“Stay there!” I heard her shout.

The pistol was waving around a lot but her finger was on the trigger and the barrel looked as big as a milk churn as it was aimed straight at my eye. Until then I hadn’t had the faintest idea of how frightening it can be to have a gun aimed at you, especially when you don’t know if it’s loaded or not. And even more especially when the person holding the gun might really be angry enough to use it. So I did something I never thought I’d have to do in my life. I held my hands up over my head like a surrendering soldier. But in my shock at what was happening I’d stepped down off the bricks and lost my viewpoint through the latched window. I could hear through it though, a mingled bellow of male triumph and a higher pitched shriek of absolute pleasure. It seemed that Mrs Harrington had finally touched the flame with her wings and the Yank was also very happy about his own situation.

I was much less happy about mine. Staring at the window pane a few inches in front of my face I wondered whether I was still visible through the misty glass from the other side. Perhaps I could run off now, get on my bike and pedal like mad for home. On the other hand maybe Mrs Walsh could see my outline against the daylight outside and if she saw it moving she might pull that trigger. I was pretty certain that the pistol wasn’t loaded, and I was almost sure that she couldn’t be crazy enough to try to kill me even if it was, but somehow those two facts seemed to weigh very lightly against the memory of that big gun aimed straight at me.

There was more to it though. If I stayed there it was certain that I was going to meet the Yank. And even if I wasn’t as smart or as well to do as Mrs Walsh and Mrs Harrington, I was younger than they were and I didn’t think I was so bad looking. And to be honest, I couldn’t see that what they were doing for their luxuries was so bad, especially not with a man who looked escort bayan güneyşehir like that. I suppose I was getting bored with being a dutiful bible imbiber and bored with living within the rules of village life. Truth to tell I’d just seen two women being treated like Chicago gangster’s molls and I envied them because it was the sort of mad moment which could never have happened in my life. Or at least I thought it couldn’t.

What did happen was that I suddenly found myself staring down the barrel of the pistol again, only without a window between me and it this time. And the reason for that was because the window had been pushed open and the man was standing in the frame, aiming the pistol straight at me.

“Who are you then, honey?” he asked me. He spoke very slowly, dragging the words out of his mouth as if he was pulling them out like strips of toffee. There was a deeper tone in that huge chest than I’d ever heard in anybody’s voice.

“Sarah Vandell – Sarah Vandell! I just came to deliver some wine, that’s all.”

“Oh God. It’s that bloody Sunday School teacher,” I heard Mrs Harrington say sharply. I couldn’t see her though, the Yank was completely filling the window space with his body.

“Wine?” He looked down at the bricks I’d piled up against the wall underneath the window. “You sure seem to go to a lot of trouble making your housecalls. Tell you what, young lady, why don’t you just step back up here where you where and tell us about yourself?”

“Please stop pointing that gun at me,” I protested. “It looks dangerous.”

He grinned, again looking for a second like a small boy: “Lady, in the army they always tell us that it’s the unloaded gun which kills people. This one is loaded and cocked and the safety catch is off, so it can’t possibly hurt you. Now just kindly come back where you where and then I’ll put the gun down.”

The wind seemed to be blowing even more strongly as I took a pace forward and put my weight on the brick pile again. Now I was looking directly into the Yank’s face. Dark skin, hooded eyes, high forehead, that convict style haircut, a glimpse of white teeth in sardonically smiling lips, a strange smell of sweat and – perfume? From Mrs Harrington or Mrs Walsh, or was it true what I’d heard, that American men splashed scent on their face after they’d shaved?

It wasn’t something I had time to think about. He did get rid of the pistol: he passed it to one of the women inside the wash house and immediately afterwards he put his hands underneath my armpits and lifted me off my feet as if I was a little girl. It was a tremendous surprise to be just hoisted and virtually dragged through the window – If it hadn’t been for the fact that I was wearing my long cycling skirt my knees would have been badly grazed on the window sill.

“Hi, honey, my name’s Reuben. I guess you know Harriet and Susan.”

Well, I didn’t, not by their Christian names, and I still didn’t know which one was which, nor did I care too much right then, because I was still being held up in his remarkably powerful hands with my toes just barely touching the paving stones. Above everything else I was acutely aware of the fact that I was about as close as I could be to a completely naked man

“Ladies, I think it’s time we turned the handle here”.

I didn’t have a clue as to what he was talking about though it was obvious from the smile on Mrs Harrington’s face that she did. As for Mrs Walsh, she moved as quickly as she could to the mangle standing near to the copper.

You remember I promised to explain about the washing after it had been rinsed? Well, a mangle was a heavy cast iron upright frame and in the top of the frame were two wooden rollers, each one twice as thick as my arm, with the wet laundry squeezed item by item between the rollers as they were turned by a handle on a big wheel. I guessed that was the handle the Yank was talking about.

Yes, Mrs Walsh already had her hands on the crank handle. I saw that before the Yank spun me round so the mangle was behind me. Then I felt the back of my skirt being plucked up. Straining my neck around, I saw that Mrs Harrington had lifted up the hem and was feeding it between the rollers as her friend cranked the handle around. The American laughed, let go of me and as more and more of the skirt was drawn up between the rollers and I was pulled backwards, uselessly trying to hold down the hemline as it rose up my legs. I suppose I must have protested, but nobody took any notice of whatever I said, not until I was pinned back against the mangle with most of my skirt hanging out the other side of it. What was left to me was rucked up around my waist, so high up that I knew the bottoms of my old fashioned bicycling briefs with the elasticated leg pieces must be showing. The sneer on Mrs Harrington’s still flushed face was proof enough of that, let alone the Yank’s grin.

“Honey, you sure do have one nice pair of legs, especially for a Sunday School teacher.”

“Let me go, please.”

He picked up one of the towels off the table and tied it around his waist, sat down on the top of the table and reached out his hand to Mrs Harrington. She gave him the gun and he put it down next to himself.

“And you sure haven’t been short changed in the upper works either, Sarah. A nice little double handful there for any guy to play with.”

I felt my face burning and my tongue completely tied. I’d never even heard of any man daring to talk like this to a respectable girl. Mrs Harrington just laughed, picked up the tray and walked off towards another table with clothing thrown on top of it.

“Susan, why don’t you put some more wood on the fire? This is the only place I can get warm in a goddam country that’s never heard of central heating. Don’t worry about our unexpected guest, she’s going noplace soon.”

A couple of his fingers tapped lightly against the pistol and Mrs Walsh – Susan? – walked towards the fire. As she walked past the Yank he caught her right breast in his outstretched hand and pulled her round to his lap. Mrs Walsh grunted, pulled the sheet around her above her hips and pressed herself against him in shameless response, grabbing his hand and holding it between her legs as she kept on making noises like a pig rooting through kitchen scraps. The Yank was watching my face as he put his fingers into Mrs Walsh, apparently far more interested in my response than in that of the woman he was playing with.

“See, I told you she wasn’t going anyplace soon. She’s too interested in watching what I’m doing to you girls to want to leave.”

“I’m not interested in what you’re doing” I said as confidently as I could. “I do want to leave, so you’d better let me go. And you can’t get away with threatening people with guns in this country. This isn’t Chicago.”

“Honey, I would never have guessed that,” he said sarcastically.

Mrs Harrington came back with her sheet neatly wrapped around her again and carrying the tray. On it were three glasses and a very expensive looking gold cigarette case. She took two cigarettes out of it, put them in her mouth and lit both with a lighter built into the case. I’d never seen such a fancy thing before. She passed one of the smokes to the Yank who released Mrs Walsh as casually as he’d grabbed her to take the cigarette from Mrs Harrington’s hand. Susan seemed unhappy about being discarded and knelt down to begin shoving sticks into the fire with unnecessary force. The man and the woman still at the table drank and smoked and stared at me, Reuben with lazy interest, Mrs Harrison with sharp eyed annoyance.

“What are you doing here, Sarah?” she asked.

“I don’t have to answer your questions!” I answered with defiance.

She smiled coldly: “How would you like us to feed you through that mangle the other way around – tits first?”

“I was just delivering a bottle of wine for the Vicar.” I answered quickly, my stomach feeling as if the wind had just been knocked out of it. Mrs Harrington snorted in disbelief, her eyes sharp and bright.

“It’s true – the bottle is in the saddlebag of my bike outside. But when I got here I heard some noise from inside here and I just wondered, well, what was going on. . .”

“So you decided to spy on us and now you’re going to go back to the village with a lot of gossip which everybody in the county will hear about in a day or two – or at least you think that’s what you’re going to do.”

“I won’t tell anybody anything.” I told her, trying to damp down her rising anger.

“No you won’t, not if you know what’s good for you. Reuben is a Major in the American military police and very rich as well, so you’d better not say anything or you’ll be in real trouble.”

“Gals, gals, quieten down will you, I’m getting a head ache,” the Yank rumbled. “This is no problem. There’s twenty pounds in the jeep that I’ll give to Sarah here in return for keeping quiet about our little get together.’

Twenty pounds – it was a fortune, as much as a skilled man could earn in a month. “And seeing as how she’s here and paid for, I guess she may as well join in the fun as well. It sure would be a waste of a good Sunday school teacher otherwise, for Jacob can see there is corn in Egypt.”

I was almost as startled by the quotation from the old testament as I was by his implied threat of what he was going to make me do.

“Now you needn’t look so surprised, honey. We’ve got bibles back home as well and my folks were kinda strict about bringing me up on it. Anyway, I guess we need to make a sinner out of you so there’ll be no temptation for you to go throwing any stones. Now if only I’d have known that I was going to have to lead a pretty young lady like you into temptation afternoon, why I guess I’d have preserved my strength a little instead of sinning straight off with Harriet.” He spread his arms out to encompass all three of us, then reached down and stroked his groin underneath the towel, still looking around and leering. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.”

Next his eyes turned directly towards me: “Never mind, Sarah, ye shall eat of the fat of the land.”

It took me a moment or two to understand what he meant and why the women were laughing at me. Imaging myself sprawled over the top of a man’s naked body with my mouth full of him was as inconceivable as doing it with two other women watching me. Yet there was a kind of poetic justice about it that I knew would appeal to Susan and Harriet. I felt like I did when I fell of my bike – only really having time to wonder how hard the ground was going to hit me when I finally stopped falling.

“How long do you think she was watching us?” Harriet asked.

“Long enough to know exactly what’s going to happen to her now,” Susan snapped.

The other two each seemed to find the idea amusing. Reuben put his arms around the women, each of his hands cupping one of their breasts.

“Well, Sarah, you sure do seem a mite overdressed for the occasion. Maybe we can do something about that,” he drawled. His cigarette was hanging from the corner of his mouth, an eyelid screwed up against the smoke. I’d never seen a man so self assured. He dropped his hands and slapped both of the women on their bottoms. “Fix her up, gals. I’ve got to make a call on the radio – find out how things are going back at HQ.”

He got off the table, tied the towel around his waist, slipped his feet into a pair of unlaced shoes. “Have her ready for me when I come back.” He went outside, apparently unconcerned by the cold wind blowing outside. The gun was still in his hand, as though he was determined never to be parted from it.

As Susan and Harriet moved towards me I reached round to the handle to try to release myself but my skirt was bunched up in the rollers too tightly for me to be able to turn it from that difficult angle. And anyway, it was two against one, two who would have grabbed my arm before I could have turned the wheel even once. There was no way out.

Harriet Harrington stood and watched me, her arms crossed, the same cold smile on her face; her companion touched her elbow and whispered in her ear. Whatever she said seemed to suit Harriet.

“Well, Miss School Teacher, you might have thought that you’ve had an interesting afternoon so far, but it’s soon going to get a lot more interesting. Now for starters, it must be getting awfully hot in here underneath that sweater you’ve got on.”

Of course it was. In a situation like this I would have been hot and bothered enough anyway, let alone in a hot steamy room with a sweater on. My skin was pricking underneath it and drops of sweat were rolling down my face.

“So why don’t you let us take it off you?”

I shook my head.

“Suit yourself,” Harriet said briskly. “It’s just as easy for me to get Reuben to do it. He’d enjoy that, but you won’t. Especially when he gives you a spanking for being a stubborn little bitch. He’s got a swagger stick that he’s used on me once and I’ve never dared to argue with him since. But you’re going to be stripped off in here, that’s for certain. Your only choice is whether you want to be given a civilized shagging afterwards, or just plain raped. Whatever happens, Susan and I will be holding you down for Reuben if we have to, understand that. We need to make sure you won’t talk and having you thoroughly fucked is our only guarantee of that. So is it going to be done easy or hard? And if it’s to be made easy for you you’d better put your arms up without any further delay.”

I didn’t know what to do. Until Mrs Walsh showed me the long hat pin in her hand, then pressed the point of it through the wool of my sweater, through the fabric of my bra and into my left breast. It made me cry out with pain.

“Better make your mind up, Sarah – quickly.” She wasn’t pretending

Once more in the same day I held my arms up over my head in surrender. Harriet and Susan put their hands underneath the sweater my mother had knitted for me and raised it up and up, over my bra cups and over my shoulders, over my face, my hair, along my arms, and then it was hanging from her hands and I was wearing nothing but my bra above the waist. Susan nudged the left cup with her palm, her face close to mine.

“We’ll have that off you, and then you can do a performance for us to watch.”

I could see the smudged mascara on her eyebrows, smell the tobacco on her breath. It was a different sort of tobacco smell to anything I’d ever smelt before, sweeter. My heart was was bouncing around in my chest like a canary frantic to get out of its cage. Susan asked me questions.

“I bet you’ve never done it before have you? Or did that Charlie Moore manage to get his wicked way with you before he finally got called up for the navy?”

I was surprised she knew about Charlie and me. Everybody else in the village probably knew we’d begun courting but I didn’t think anybody in Mill Cottage would have cared.

“No, we didn’t do anything,” I protested.

Harriet touched me as well, stroking my cheek with the back of her fingers: “In that case I’ll bet twenty to one that Charlie boy is going to get a lovely surprise on his next leave. By then you’ll be grabbing hold of any cock you can get and bouncing up and down on it like a good ‘un. You’re as sexy a girl as I’ve ever seen, Sarah, and your days as a Sunday School teacher are definitively over.”

“No – no,” I protested, in vain. Susan unhooked the back of my bra and both of them took it off me. Both pairs of hands had long unchipped fingernails and soft skin which had never islahiye escort bayan done any work. Harriet stood back and eyed me.

“Well, Sarah, you’re a well developed young lady. If nobody has been getting his fingers around those it’s been a sad waste.”

I tried to cover myself up with my hands, and that just made them laugh at me even more. Harriet said: “OK, let’s take off her English Channels now.”

“My what?”

“Your briefs,” Susan explained. “Your last line of defense.”

“Oh God!”

It only took a second or two, both of them kneeling down on either side of me and plucking the briefs down. “Be careful, please. Don’t break the elastic.” Maybe it was a silly thing to say under the circumstances, but maybe it wasn’t. Elastic was another clothing item which was hard to come by in wartime shops.

Anyway, they were reasonably careful, not wrenching them off me and helping me to step out of them. Harriet stood up, threw them casually across the back of a chair and looked carefully at me again. Susan had picked up a cigarette from somewhere and swallowed a stream of smoke before passing it over to Harriet.

“Another turn of the handle?”

“Oh yes, I think so. Just to set the scene off nicely.”

Susan caught hold of the mangle’s handle and turned it again, pulling me yet closer to the rollers and the bottom of the skirt up higher until it was right up around the top of my legs and I was literally within a hair’s breath of indecent exposure. One futile attempt trying to pull back some of the trapped cloth was enough to prove I was wasting my time. Susan giggled and patted the handle.

“One more turn, Sarah, one more turn of this and you’ll be putting on a turn of your own. A strip show turn with everything on show.”

“What are you doing this for?” I asked. “Why are you doing everything that man wants you too?”

Harriet nodded her head, as if appreciating the question.

“It’s suddenly become a whole new world, Sarah. A whole new country anyway. You know how it’s always been in England, the aristocracy and the landowners have always had the real power – and if you weren’t born and bred in their own little circles you were always a second rater, no matter how hard you worked or how good you were. But now we’re suddenly getting thousands of these Yanks flooding in and you just can’t believe how rich they are. Rich as a nation, rich as individuals, many of them. Not broad acres and rent book rich but cash rich. They’ve got bundles of money burning holes in their pockets because they know they’re going to be in the fighting and maybe getting killed. All they want are good times and to hell with what it costs. So if you’ve ever wanted to make your pile while you’re young, this is your chance. We’d be delighted to have you join us.”

“Join you?”

“Sure, believe me, there’s plenty for all and thanks to Reuben we’re just starting to get organised in a big way. He wants to bring some of his friends along here for a party – I think you’d be just right to come as the second story maid. I can even get you a special costume to wear.”

She was laughing at me with her eyes but she was serious too. “Listen, Sarah, if you come to one of Reuben’s parties dressed in the right way and carrying a collection plate you could end up buying your own house in that mouldy old village. You’ve got a lovely smile – it could be a smile that sets you up for smiling for the rest of your life.”

That struck a chord. My family, like many others, lived in a tied cottage – a cottage that belonged to the farm my dad worked for. If he lost his job he lost his home as well, a situation that always gave the farmers the whip hand when dealing with troublesome workers. Nobody could ever call my father a troublesome worker but it had always a sore point with me. Basically, tithed workers were no better off than Negro cotton pickers living in plantation cabins in the days of slavery. The prospect of being able to buy a way out of that trap was enough to get my undivided attention. Or at least it would have been at almost any other time – only Reuben walked back in just then.

As a natural reaction I covered my nipples up with my hands, something he hardly seemed to notice. A white belt was slung over one of his massive shoulders and around his chest like a bandoleer, a holster hanging off it and the butt of the pistol sticking out of the top of the holster. It was just like the cinema again, like one of the Mexican bandits you saw in the cowboy films. I felt like Dorothy in reverse – I’d somehow clicked my heels and we must be in Kansas. I wondered if there were Mexican bandits in Kansas.

“Goddamn those stupid bastards I have working for me!” Reuben’s smile had faded into a look of anger which frightened me. He seemed to realise that and to reassure me.

“Sorry, Sarah, I didn’t mean to bother you. I’ve been checking on things in London and I guess I’ve got a problem.”

“What’s wrong?” Susan asked him with concern in her voice.

“Two of my sergeants were doing street familiarization with a London bobby. They’d parked up near Claridge’s while the limey cop went for one of his usual limey tea breaks. So my two guys were sitting in their jeep and there’s a maroon Rolls-Royce parked outside the hotel across the road with an ATS officer inside it. Very young, not bad looking apparently. So she gets out of the Rolls and walks over to the jeep and asks my two half wits how they like England. OK, one half wit then, because one of the guys is very polite and says he likes it a lot. But sergeant Hermann Zeitler, he tells this female limey officer they should cut the cables on the barrage balloons and let the whole goddamned island sink into the sea. So she gives him a real long hard look and goes back to the Rolls. Just then the cop comes back and asks them if they knew who they’d been talking to.”

“Some Duchess?” Susan guessed.

“Some Duchess! That fuckwit Zeitler, he’s only gone and told off Princess Elizabeth of England! If she complains the shit is really going to hit the fan. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if Eisenhower was still around but now he’s in North Africa and the senior American officer left in London is General John H. Lee. That strutting turkey will just love it if the US Ambassador to the Court of Saint James turns up in his office complaining that Major Reuben Steele’s military police company have been insulting the British royal family.”

“It’s OK,” Harriet said. “I bet the Princess won’t say anything about it. She’ll be like the rest of us, too glad to see you people here to help us to worry about a small thing like that. My advice would be to write to her, apologise, and say that your man only answered the way he did because he was feeling homesick. And maybe send her a gift of some kind as well.”

“What the hell sort of present do you give a Princess?”

“Nothing to her, perhaps, but if she’s in the army you could donate something to her unit. A film projector and some of the latest Hollywood films — musicals would be good. Anything at all except war films — we’re all fed up with the war over here.”

“Good thinking, Harriet. I’ll do just that. As for Sergeant Zeitler, I’ve got an ideal transfer arranged for him. If he doesn’t like this island we’ll send him to one where he’ll have real trouble finding any princesses to mouth off at.”

“Where’s that then, Reuben?”

“A nice little tropical resort in the South Pacific called Guadalcanal. I’ve a feeling that Zeitler won’t be there too long before he’s wishing like hell he was back pulling duty outside Claridge’s.”

“Never mind, we’ll take your mind off your worries,” Susan said brightly. “Won’t we, Sarah?”

“What do you mean?” I asked her and she smiled.

“I think we can lift that skirt just a teensy weensy touch more, can’t we, Susan?”

Susan put her hands on the handle: “Hey, hey and a up she rises, early in the morning”.

Harriet’s hand dropped to the front of Reuben’s towel and stroked his pizzle. “I think we might have something here that’s about to rise as well.”

The Yank grinned and plucked the towel from his waist. His cock twitched as Harriet touched it, like the head of a sleeping python being roused. The length of flesh seemed almost independent of Reuben somehow — he and Harriet were both looking down at it as if neither of them were quite sure of what it was going to do next. Then he carefully folded the towel in a long strip and gave me a smile which seemed to be as slow growing as what was stirring at his groin.

“Sarah, I guess you’ve heard about Sir Walter Raleigh spreading his cloak in front of Queen Elizabeth. Now you’re going to have a man spread a towel for you. No need to get frightened, I’m not going to hurt you any.”

I was so nervous I didn’t know whether to scream or not as he laid the towel on the brick floor in front of my feet. I was puzzled as well, not knowing what he meant to do, even more so when he knelt down on the towel, his face only a few inches from the hem of my skirt. He swirled one of his fingers around as a signal to Sarah and she turned the handle as far as she could. I was pinned right gack against the mangle, up on the tips of my toes, with my own small patch of brown hair openly exposed and Reuben’s breath stirring them. I saw his tongue dart forward and press against the junction at the top of my legs. The wriggling length of hot skin went further underneath me as he tilted his head back, his eyes staring at my face in humor as he lapped against most private places like a cow feeding off a salt lick. Both of the other women were watching me as though I was was some kind of a laboratory experiment, some kind of Frankenstein about to come to life.

Not that that was far from the truth, and it was Reuben who was whipping up the storm where the electricity was coming from.

I found myself wailing out his name as my clit began to swell like a spring bud. There was no way I could stop myself twitching and gasping in response, my bare bum rubbing up against the wooden rollers of the mangle. Looking down at the Yank’s smiling eyes I knew I was seeing the man who was going to be my first lover, the one who was going to change me from a girl into a woman. My hands came down and rubbed his bristly scalp in encouragement as I literally melted on top of Reuben’s face, my cunt as damp as the tongue rubbing against it. Henrietta and Susan grabbed at my exposed nipples, tweaking and plucking both of them with crazy smiles on their faces, like the Marx brothers trying to tune a harp.

My head went back and I stared up wide eyed into the roof rafters, letting out a shriek which echoed amongst them. Although it must have been my imagination I thought I saw the clouds of steam underneath the tiles quivering at the sound waves.

Harriet’s face was close to mine, watching with amusement and interest: “How do you feel now, Miss Sunday School Teacher?”

I groaned. “Like a Guy Fawkes dummy on top of a burning bonfire!”

“Then it must be about time for the fireworks to start.”

She began nibbling on one of my ears and then Susan did the same from the other side, just as Reuben’s huge hands clasped my bottom. One of his fingers jabbed straight up between both of my buttocks and I wailed out again. Reuben leaned back, his hands still holding me in a crushing embrace.

“Noisy little bitch, isn’t she? I wonder if she’ll be able to keep it up when I introduce her to the rest of the guys.”

“You think she’ll be able to stand the strain?” Susan answered in a jokey kind of voice,

He stood up and casually waggled the huge up roll of swollen skin curving up in front of his loins. “I guess we’ll have to give her a stretch test to find out. Roll a sheath on for me, ladies.”

They couldn’t get down on their knees fast enough, as if they were worshipping his maleness, working hand over hand to stretch the sheath over the length of a cock that seemed more the right size for a bull than a man. I’d never been near so frightened of anything in my life — being shagged for the first time was bad enough, being shagged for the first time in front of an audience was worse, but being shagged by a tool like that! I was going to die in agony impaled on an organ which was never meant to be used on a human woman …

The only slight consolation was that Harriet had already been used by it and survived: on the other hand, our respectable Mrs Harrington had probably had more men inside her already than the changing rooms at Wembley Stadium. Reuben had been following a well beaten path, not cutting a new one. It was no use, I was as dead as Lord Kitchener, and for the same reason – torpedoed to death.

No sooner was the sheath on than Susan was checking the fit with her mouth, squatting on her haunches and snorting through her nose as she sucked on his cock, one hand cupping his balls. Her other hand was up between Harriet’s thighs as that ‘lady’ licked the matted hair on Reuben’s chest.

“Yeah, maybe you girls would be interested in hearing that a bunch of my guys will be here soon for a work break. I think what we’ll do is to dump little Sarah here in the copper to steam for a while in a hot bath. When my guys arrive they can strip off at the door, collect a bar of soap each and gather around the copper to give her a real thorough washing. I guess we might get some fun out of watching that.”

Harriet giggled and looked at me as if it was a great joke I should be sharing in while Susan sounded as if she was choking. She had to stop sucking on Reuben’s cock before she could recover her breath.

“OK, ladies, one leg each, high and wide, and let’s see if the Sunday School teacher knows any good prayers.

The two ladies of Mill Cottage seemed quite calm as they prepared for my ravishment by lifting up my legs as I cried out and held onto the frame of the mangle underneath me. “Put her knee over your offside shoulder,” Harriet said. “She’s not very heavy but we might be here for a while and it’s easier to support her weight like this”

It was crazy, it was impossible, I was hanging in mid air with my legs splayed out against two naked womens’ breasts, my calves pressing against their sweating skin as a nude man moved closer holding onto a bulging erection he was preparing to ram into me. Then I felt the tip of it stroking my cunt lips and went into a spasm of trembling. And then I screamed more loudly than I ever had in my life as I was joined to Reuben. Well, perched on Reuben’s cock really, but certainly with his helmet inside me an inch or so and it felt more like God’s work than anything I’d ever learned in church.

He leaned forward, put his mouth against mine and pushed his tongue through my lips. I gladly met him halfway, my tongue as active as his. He came closer and my own weight slid me further down his cock, setting me whinnying into his mouth like a hard ridden mare with a foam spattered bridle. I had to jerk my mouth back, suck in air and let it out in bubbling moans of despair, knowing that if there was no end to this invasion of my body soon I would be past help.

Harriet’s sardonic voice was in my ear: “Any last words from the scriptures, Sarah?”

“Oh God! Oh God! He maketh my deep to boil like a pot!”

Reuben’s hands were holding my waist, he was preparing to pull me down completely and utterly onto him, I was doomed …

Reuben barked with laughter: “I was a stranger, and yet ye took me in.”

There was an explosion inside me, setting off yelps of forlorn despair which shot up high like skyrockets to burst amongst the steam and the rafters and the tiles. A pair of yellow eyes were glittering down angrily, a small barn owl hunched up in its feathers, weary of trying to sleep above this human hullaboo. I found myself laughing uncontrollably that such a wise bird had picked this place above all to seek a peaceful day — we’d both been so wrong about that.


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