Lady Birgit, bound to the tree, blindfolded with rough cloth, listened to the muffled squeals of her handmaid and the sound of receding hooves. It was quiet for a long time. She tugged at her bonds to no effect.
Then there was a sound - a horse approaching. The sounds of a rider dismounting, walking toward her. She held her breath, too frightened to speak. Had they come back for her?
A hand stroked her nipple where her dress was torn. Another raised the hem of her dress. First a hand, then a mouth caressed her most private part. It was warm and soft. It was-
"Thank God you're here. They've taken Maria. Untie me! We must catch them."
"The men, three of them. For God's sake untie me!"
"It is doubtful that we should be able to catch them. We know not where they went. Which direction and whatnot. I feel that for the moment there is little to be done."
He still had his hand on Lady Birgit's mound. He slipped a finger into her. She was sopping wet.
"Aye. Little to be done about the girl, but as for you..."
He worked his fingers deep into her. Lady Birgit moaned.
"Dwayne, please. I beg you. Not here with me like this where others may see."
"None will know 'tis you, dressed as a common girl, cloth covering your face."
"Dwayne ... God! Well just be quick about it. We must go after her."
But he was already working on the ropes and freed her of the pesky blindfold. He laughed.
"A jest M'Lady."
"Jest be damned! Finish what you started, then we must be off."
He did and they were.
"You say there were three of them?"
Lady Birgit sipped her wine, nodded. "Aye. A right foul bunch."
"The way you were dressed they mistook the girl for you."
She sighed. "'Tis like a game. She gets to play the lady and I get to be out and about without all the attention."
"They are no doubt after ransom. You must write a letter to your father, tell him of the affair, and assure him you are safe."
As she wrote, Sir Dwayne contemplated the situation.
"You saw them? Saw them well?"
Lady Birgit nodded.
"Anything stand out? Manner of dress? How they spoke?"
She frowned, shook her head.
"They were commonly dressed, though cleaner than you would expect. Two of them said not a word."
"And the third?"
"He spoke ... he spoke as if trying to hide his station, as if he had been educated, but tried to pass himself off as common."
A groom knocked and entered. Lady Birgit sealed the letter and handed it to him.
"See that my father gets this. "Tis a matter of life and death. Assure him that you have seen me and that I am well."
When he left Sir Dwayne said, "I shall start with the larger towns, the kind that would befit the man you described."
"You know not how they look."
"If you would describe them -"
"Dwayne, we go together. But they have seen me. We need a ruse."
Two miles from the house Lady Birgit slid from Sir Dwayne's horse.
"Well, do I look suitably whoreish?"
"Mayhaps a bit too."
Sir Dwayne dismounted scooped a handful of dirt and worked it into her hair, rubbed her cheeks.
"M'Lady, you play the whore and thief, but you still look and smell like a lady."
He ripped her dress, a sleeve hung free, a breast nearly exposed. He ripped the hem a couple of times exposing a considerable amount of leg. He pushed her down to the ground and climbed on top of her.
"Dwayne! What? Not now!" She pounded his chest.
He ignored pleas, wrestled her fair and good until she was a nice mess. He climbed off of her, offered his hand.
"There, now you look suitably disreputable."
Lady Birgit held out her hands and Dwayne tied her wrists. He hefted himself into the saddle, fastened the rope, shook the reins, made a clucking sound. The horse proceeded at a walk dragging Lady Birgit behind.
Dwayne glanced back at her. He liked what he saw. Their relationship had always been a proper one, courtesies observed and all that, in public as well as private. But seeing her disheveled and dirty, bound and helpless touched a base chord, something primal. He was going to enjoy playing his part.
It had been her idea to play the part of whore and thief, captured, being brought to the sheriff to be arrested. They would work their way through neighboring towns. There were men Dwayne knew, men who could be trusted. Men good with a sword if it came to that.
Morning turned into afternoon. Dwayne found a spot near a brook, tied the horse, dragged the bound girl down to the water, pushed her in. She sputtered and fumed. Dwayne just laughed.
"Are you going to untie me?"
"No. 'Tis better that you play your part fully, lest someone happen by."
She looked a right mess. A quick dunking did little to remove the dirt, added some mud here and there. Her hair hung, wet and stringy. The sight inflamed him
Sir Dwayne yanked her tether and led her to a fallen tree. He pushed her; she topped forward. He raised her skirts. He reached his hand down for the preliminaries, but quickly realized there would be no need. She was ready and then some.
"Ow! Dwayne it hurts! Stop! Stop it!"
He ignored her. He didn't doubt it hurt some being pounded from the rear, soft girl flesh rubbing on rough bark. But he knew her and sensed that it only fueled her ardor. Her lips said "Stop!", but her hips told the truth.
Later he tried to nap, but she began a string of prattles.
"I wonder if we shall find them, and what of Maria, and what will happen, there are three of them you know, and what of my father, and-?"
Having endured enough, Sir Dwayne fetched a couple of bits of cloth. He pressed the first into her mouth and wound the other around her face, knotting it tightly.
Lady Birgit made mmfing sounds of outrage.
"Be quiet M'Lady. I need my rest."
She sat, bound to a tree, and glared at him.
They passed two villages that afternoon. None there had seen three strangers and a girl.
Along about dusk they entered the town.
"Keep an eye, M'Lady. We may not see them, but perhaps their horses."
Lady Birgit, still gagged, mmfed and nodded.
A circuit of the town turned up nothing. Sir Dwayne led his charge to the stable.
"She'll spend the night here. I want her secure. Do you have a shackle."
"Aye, Sir, I do."
" Place her in a clean stall and wrap some cloth on her ankle. I don't want her bruised."
The man reached a set of shackles from the wall and the three of them headed to the back corner of the stable. In the stall, the man wrapped Lady Birgit's ankle in coarse cloth, then fixed the iron ring. He made the other end fast to a metal ring on a post.
"That will do. Here," he said giving the man a coin. "She is not to be disturbed. I want no gawkers."
Sir Dwayne found the sheriff's man, told him a variation on the story. The man said that there had been no strangers, none with a girl, but he would send out his men.
After a meal, Sir Dwayne brought a bucket of food to the stable.
"So now I am not even a common whore, but an animal?"
"We are all animals in a way, M'Lady."
"I am not an animal and I am NOT your whore Sir Dwayne!"
Sir Dwayne? She never called him "Sir" in private. Interesting.
"Aye you are my whore and will be used thusly!"
"I shall not!"
Sir Dwayne grabbed her arm, twisted it, threw her into the straw, and used her thusly, and thusly and a bit more thusly.
The knock came well after midnight.
"We've found them, the men and the girl."
"Is she all right."
"Aye, Sir, a bit shaken up, but she is well."
Sir Dwayne dressed quickly and followed the sheriff's man out into the night.
The three were in a cell, they looked like they had gotten the worst of it in the fight.
"With a woman, just across the way. She is safe."
He turned to the three.
"So, let me hear your story. Come on. What is it?"
The three remained silent.
"They refuse to talk, Sir."
"Perhaps you used the wrong methods. I know you are bound by the law as to what you can and cannot do."
Sir Dwayne drew his sword. One of the men was clearly frightened. Sir Dwayne placed the tip of his sword to the man's throat, backed him up against the wall.
"Talk or die."
The man talked.
"I must check on the girl. If she is well enough, I want her to make her statement then brought home at all possible haste to attend her lady."
When the woman opened the door the girl leapt past, wrapped herself immodestly around him.
"Sir Dwayne! Oh thank God! Thank God. My Lady, is she ...?
"She is well and eagerly awaits your return. Come you must make your statement and one of the sheriff's men will escort you home."
Out in the street - "Make no mention of your Lady."
"But ... but I have already."
"No! She was not there. You were frightened, confused. The other was merely a companion. Your Lady indulged you a bit of play and you took it a bit for real. Tell the absolute truth, except that the other was NOT Lady Birgit. Do you understand?"
He explained the situation and could see understanding in the man's face. It was beyond belief that the bound girl in the stable would, indeed, be Lady Birgit, being treated so harshly. The other girl was clearly addled.
"Bring them to the stable in ten minutes."
In the stall - "They've been caught."
"Truly? And what of Maria?"
"Safe and well. The leader was indeed a man of class. He had a falling out with your father, felt he had been cheated, and this was this way of making up his loss, or so he thought."
"They will bring the men here so that you may confirm their identity. Here," he said pulling a bit of rough burlap around her face.
"Can you see?
"Aye, well enough."
"Good. Listen, we are going to change the story slightly. Everything that happened, happened, except you were not there. It was your girl and a companion."
Lady Birgit nodded.
"It is not necessary for you to see them, but I feel it would serve a purpose in your own mind."
"Aye. To see for myself." She nodded.
The next morning, Sir Dwayne led the bound girl out the back of the stable, across a field, through some woods until meeting the road. She had suffered enough public indignity without parading her through the town yet again.
Back by the stream, Sir Dwayne unfastened Lady Birgit's tether. He began loosing her bonds when she reached up to embrace him. They kissed, which led to what one might expect, one last coupling between the knight and the bound whore.
"If I shall be your whore, I shall not be so willingly."
"I have enough rope and muscle to ensure your cooperation, M'Lady."
He handed her a sack.
"Up yonder there is a clear pool. Here is some soap and a clean dress."
Later, she sat, leaning against him, sharing a skin of wine.
"This has been quite a lark, Dwayne."
"We shall do it again when I am not so distracted, when I can, er, appreciate the experience more fully."
story continues in The Tales of Sir Dwayne 2: The Lark