A final meeting of the Sisterhood had taken place at which a number of alterations to the agreed Plan of Action had been unanimously accepted.
The major change was that a thin black cord should be stretched across the arched tunnel through which Fraulein would run, at about shin-height. This, it was felt, would literally bring her to the ground, and give her something to think about while she was initially being secured and silenced..
And - this was Evelyn's contribution - rather than Fraulein being placed on the Execution Block in her cuffs and straps, it would be better -more aesthetic, surely - if she was roped up securely ? At this stage Sally Tuppenham was proud to display the beautifully professional hangman's noose she had constructed, in thick hemp rope, with the traditional series of thirteen hitches to fit behind the right ear and, in the case of a long drop - break the neck. After she had been congratulated on this effort Sally demonstrated to the Sisterhood, using a further length of the same rope, how the weak link she had incorporated in both ropes would support a fair load, but would inevitably break when Fraulein's full weight was suspended from it.
All the necessary equipment had been checked, sorted, and stowed in the various shoulder bags needed - one to each operative - and it was now in the early evening of the day before the Ceremony. The five girls, Mary, Evelyn Ayesha Sally and June were grouped around the exit of the narrow arched corridor through which Fraulein would come at the end of her run, their hearts beating with excitement. Each was wearing a woollen balaclava, pulled down over their chins so as to be unrecognisable - each was wearing a black roll neck sweater, and black slacks. Most of them had running through their minds the pattern of what exactly was their particular responsibility
The thin black cord had been properly secured to one wall of the Archway, and lay invisibly along the ground, the other end tightly clasped in Mary's hands, she preparing herself to stretch the cord tight at exactly the right second to trip Fraulein.
As one girl the conspirators stiffened, and crouched further back into hiding as the steady thudding of the German's jogging feet as she entered the stone flagged corridor came to their ears.
Nearer and nearer came the sound of the running feet, and Mary judged that the time had come to tauten the trip rope. With one quick movement she pulled it hard. It caught Fraulein's right leg at exactly the correct place to ensure that she came down - heavily - face to the ground. Both her arms flew out to the front as she realised that she was hurtling to the ground.
The Sisterhood were on to Fraulein like a flock of carrion crows.
Speed. of course, was of the essence - they had to get the German girl out of sight of any passers by. Sally and June each grabbed an arm, straightened it fiercely and then twisted it behind Fraulein's back and forced her wrists together. Ayesha was standing between them, ratchet cuffs at the ready, and in a second there came the satisfactory 'click !" as each cuff was locked in position. While Mary, who had successfully thrust the sponge rubber ball between Fraulein's teeth, thus bringing to an end any expostulations, was buckling the gag strap tight at the back of the captive's neck, prior to blindfolding her with a black velvet hood which came down to her shoulders. Ayesha was on her knees strapping a leather fetter on each of the German girl's ankles, this strap being connected with an eighteen-inch long thin chain, and then tearing off Fraulein's running shoes.
The twins hauled Fraulein upright on her knees, so that Evelyn could pass a lengthy two inch wide strap round her elbows, pinning them together, and twice round her body, thus fastening her arms securely..
The hasty buckling of a heavy studded dog collar, complete with handling chain and a neatly-engraved brass plate with the name "Ursula", round Fraulein's throat, and she could be hoisted to her feet and hustled back through the passage to the "Execution Chamber".
This had been carefully prepared for her inspection. The girls held Fraulien firmly in the door, standing at her sides and behind her, and then Mary whipped the hood from her head.
This is what she saw.
A thick rope, culminating in a hangman's noose, dangling from the ceiling. Underneath this, on the floor, rested a three foot high stout wooden box.
At the side an unfolded step ladder. The apprehensive Fraulein was given just enough time to take all this in, then the hood was swiftly whipped over her head again - no attention whatsoever being paid to her gurgles and snorts - and she was propelled forwards so that she was eventually standing against the far wall, facing it, on her toes, as the handling chain had been tightly drawn through a ring at just the right height. And there she stood on tip-toe while the twins very quietly carried into the room and placed round the box the fully-inflated air beds, and the rest of the Sisterhood gently replaced handcuffs and straps with previously prepared lengths of thin rope, each culminating in a slip knot.
Mary had been insistent that this stage should be conducted with the minimum of discomfort to Fraulein - this so that the actual punishment for her transgressions which would be administered later on would be even more effective - and her instructions were followed very carefully. The strap round the prisoner's upper arms and elbows was unbuckled and removed, and then a number of different lengths of thin cord were used to lash her elbows together in the small of her back, and to fasten her upper arms to her sides, the ropes passing above and below - and in between - her ample breasts.
Not until her arms were thoroughly secured were the cuffs unlocked and gently taken from her wrists These, crossed, with the palms of her hands facing outwards to the back, were now tied together and to the top of her thighs. Almost the final touch was to pass ropes round her forearms and her upper thighs, so that now her arms and wrists were held immovably in a kind of rope clamp. Her ankles were still fettered, of course, and the tiny steps her chain compelled her to take bore her to the base of the wooden box. She felt hands at the waist, her bound arms and her knees, and then she was lifted up by four of the girls and carefully put down so that she was, she knew, standing on the top of the box she had seen beneath the Rope.
Little more remained to be done. Her legs were tied closely and tightly together just above her knees, and she realised that someone was climbing the steps of the ladder at her side, and with a shudder she found that the noose was being pulled down over her head, and tightened round her throat, with the heavy knots behind her right ear. The rope was pulled taut and secured to a cleat in the wall, though not so tautly as to restrict her breathing.Her tormentors had not finished. The fetters were unbuckled and removed from her ankles, a rope was tied round her left ankle, and she found that her left leg was being bent upwards at the knee and tied off to the ropes round her upper body so that she was standing on her right foot only, supported solely by the tight thick rope round her throat.
Very very quietly Ayesha went to the door of the Execution Chamber and loudly slammed it shut and turned the key from the inside. Then she re-joined the rest of the group, and they squatted in a line along the wall, watching with great interest the frantic efforts the German girl was making to retain her balance. and listening with great appreciator to the muffled noises she was straining to emit through her efficient gag and hood.
Mary could - almost - feel sorry for Fraulein. She wondered what was going through the mind of the helpless victim as her fingers twisted and she vainly pulled at the tight cords restricting her wrists and arms and cutting into her tender flesh. Mary knew from personal experience that after only a few minutes the difficulties of retaining balance while standing on the one leg would prove insurmountable and she wondered how long the Fraulein's much-vaunted physical condition would enable her to resist the pull of gravity.
But never mind about the physical effects - what was she thinking at the moment ? Mary was sure that Fraulein would be completely convinced that the sentence of death she had received was now in the process of being carried out -was the German preparing herself as best she could for her ending, or would she still be hoping against hope that at the last minute she would somehow be saved.? As far as Fraulein was concerned, Mary was convinced, she was utterly alone and completely helpless, with only her stamina and physical strength keeping death at arm's length. "And her incredible Teutonic will power,of course. We mustn't forget that !" thought Mary ironically.
THE Sisterhood of Banbury Cross watched quietly in absorbed fascination as the helpless trussed body swayed to and fro, perched as it was on just the one leg. They had to admire to a certain extent the determination shown by Fraulein to retain her precarious position to say nothing of her life ! But after some thirteen minutes or so the strain was too much for her, and she swayed so far to one side that she could not retain her balance and at last toppled off the box. She fell for about eighteen inches before the hangman's noose tightened round her throat - there was a pause for a fraction of a second, and then came the snap as Sally Tuppenham's ' weak link' parted, followed by the the thud as Fraulein's limp body hit the inflated mattress waiting for her, and bounced up and down a few inches at a time.
When the girls were sure that their prisoner had regained full consciousness they put the next stage into action, guided by Mary's hand signals.
Fraulein's legs were untied at the left ankle and above the knees, and the ankle fetters were restrapped into position, as was her collar, complete with its handling chain. She was very gently raised to her feet, and then Mary and Ayesha, taking an arm each, led her out of the Execution Chamber, through the echoing empty gymnasium, to the long shed at the North end of the Quad wherein now rested the Horse. Here the three of them waited while the others removed every trace of the occupation of the Chamber, and joined them.
Now they all set to work untying Fraulein's ropes, hoping that as she she felt them slacken she would be deluded into thinking that she was to be freed. and substituting them with many rolls of two inch wide crepe bandaging, which immediately disabused her of any such hope. She now found to her distress that her hands were palm to palm behind her back, she was made to clasp them, and many rolls of the tight bandaging were wound round her palms, clenched fingers and her thumbs, so that not the slightest movement of any of the digits of her hands was possible.
This completed. then came the turn of her wrists. Arms above and below the elbows received the same treatment, and then she felt that her ankle straps were being taken off, to be replaced with more bandaging above and below her knees as well as the ankles. Gentle hands lowered her to her knees, and then to one side, so that she was lying on a blanket on the stone floor and then she felt that her legs were being drawn up behind her so that the ankle bandaging could be roped to the upper arm wrappings in the classic hog-tie position. A cushion was placed under her head, her ankles and her upper arm wrappings were connected to the fore and aft legs of the horse, so that it was not possible for her to roll around, her cheeks were patted in a kindly way, and she heard the door of the place where she was confined being closed and locked, and realised that she was now alone - helpless - silenced and blindfolded in the dark. The girls removed their balaclavas, and returned to the normal life of the School. Mary was confident that nobody would try to enter that section of the building which housed the Horse. and in which their prisoner was confined. Darkness had fallen, and it was time for the light supper that was provided for pupils and staff. Not all the mistresses partook of this light collation, so it was, again, unlikely that the absence of Fraulein Ursula would be commented on.
The girls ate together, quietly discussing the abduction. Sally Tuppenham was a little worried that no provision had been made for Fraulein to "spend a penny" if she had to, but her twin told her that the prisoner would either have to cross her legs ("but she can't - she's all tied up !" interrupted Sally) or else wet her pants. "Which", Mary concluded, "would do her no harm at all ! Now " she said. "we'll meet outside the gym at four o'clock tomorrow morning - you've all got alarm clocks - and this will give us plenty of time to get the liebe Fraulein ready for her Ride .O.K. ?"
While the Sisterhood retire for a well-earned rest, no doubt happily congratulating themselves on a good job well done, perhaps we can turn our attention for a little while to the unfortunate Ursula Battenburg. Picture her, if you will, as she lies there on her side in the dark, neatly packaged. She cannot see, she cannot speak, she can't even move her fingers. She will be comfortable enough, as the width of the many yards of elasticated bandaging holding her helpless is such that the securing loops do not cause her any pain, as tight rope would do. Her gag, try as she may, cannot be expelled. Her feet and her shoulders are secured to some solid object, she finds, so that she cannot roll from one side to the other.
Now that she is alone she can begin to recall and to wonder about what has happened to her after she crashed down to the ground, only a few yards from her front door, at the close of her usual evening exercise. She had tripped on something, she remembered, and then found herself under attack by several people. Before she had the slightest opportunity to cry out for help -or even to catch a glimpse of her assailants - she had found herself most effectively gagged and blindfolded, and despite all her strength she could make no real resistance as she was cuffed, strapped and fettered.
Then she had been led by a collar and chain to some place, and there released, stage by stage, from the handcuffs and straps and fetters, and tied up most cunningly, scientifically and efficiently. Then came the dreadful period of time - how long could it have been she wondered ? - when she stood on the one foot, supported only by the rope round her neck, until despite all her efforts muscle fatigue took over, and she had resigned herself to the thought of death, hoping it would come swiftly by the breaking of her neck, rather than by slow strangulation, as she plunged to the ground.
The ingenious cruelty of that simulated execution ! How the people who did this must hate me !she thought. She remembered lying -breathless - on the soft yielding surface of the air mattresses onto which she had fallen, wondering if she was still alive - and realising that she had been the victim of a vicious practical joke.
And then had come her removal to this present place of bondage, and the replacement of the tight cords with the bandaging which now held her so closely and immoveably.
Again and again the unfortunate Fraulein attempted to force a coherent sound from behind the sponge holding her jaws apart and her tongue down, but all that emerged was a series of high-pitched nasal whines, inaudible to anyone outside her prison, she knew.
Slowly, so slowly, the time dragged by. Very occasionally some sounds from the outer world percolated her prison walls through to her - the rattling of a faraway train, and the occasional drone of a high-flying aeroplane. She was, oddly enough, reasonably comfortable, inasmuch as her circulation was not too badly restricted, she was fairly warm, thanks to the blanket on which she lay, and her captors had at least propped her head on a soft pillow. What worried Fraulein, as the hours crawled by, was her growing necessity to relieve herself, and eventually she had to accede to the increasing pressure, and with a feeling of self-disgust she realised that she had been forced to empty her bladder.
It was not until an hour before the School Prize Giving was due to begin that the Members of the Sisterhood of Banbury Cross gathered, one by one, outside the door of Fraulein's prison, prepared to perform their Final Ceremony. The first that the German girl knew of their presence was the slackening of the ties between her ankles and her shoulders so that at long last she was able to stretch her legs.
She was going to be freed, she thought. Now she would be able, she was sure, to identify some at least of her attackers - and very very soon now they would be made to pay for the indignities that had been inflicted on her !
Alas for Fraulein, this was not to be.
The team, well-rehearsed, made short work of transferring the helpless German girl to the location of her next ordeas.
First stage was carefully to unwrap the bandages holding her elbows together and her upper arms to her body. Then, to her immediate relief, came the removal of the tight wrappings round her clenched hands,.Carefully the team left her wrists still fastened together behind her back.
Her legs were freed above and below the knees and at the ankles, but as soon as this had been done she felt hands grasping her at both sides, and she was lifted in the air, her legs parted, and she found that was sitting astride what must surely be the Gymnasium Horse she had so brusquely ordered two of her students to clean and renovate. A strong hand pressed her forwards, and she found that she was now lying face down on the 'saddle' of the horse, while other pairs of busy hands were dragging her legs back so that they could be strapped, above the knees and at the ankles, to the rear legs of the apparatus.
Hands were at her waist now, tightly strapping it with a wide belt onto the Horse. Now a further thin strap was being passed around her body and her right arm, so that it was firmly secured, and now, at last. her wrists were being freed. As the final loop was taken off them Fraulein clenched her fist and wildly struck out with her left hand at where she imagined her tormentors were. Her blow was easily evaded, and Ayesha and Mary had no difficulty in forcing her arm forwards and downwards so that it could be strapped above the elbow and at the wrist - fully extended, of course - to the left front leg of the horse.
The same treatment to the right arm, and Fraulein was almost ready for the next stage of her Treatment.
Almost ready. But her gag had to be changed. As Mary had previously explained, if the silenced prisoner was going to cry a lot, the bandaged sponge gag was so efficient that she might well choke.
Hence it should be changed for a small ball gag (which, she had pointed out to her fascinated audience) could easily be locked in position. although such a gag often leads to some rather unaesthetic dribbling.
The prisoner's mouth was free for only a second, as the sponge was whipped out and replaced with a hard rubber ball. Through the centre of this there ran a thin metal rod. and from the two ends of this came the halves of the thin strap - sponge lined on the interior) which was buckled at the nape of the neck to keep the gag in position. As Mary pointed out, a hole punched in the tongue of the strap to correspond with a similar hole in the other part of the leather, and a small self-locking padlock passed through the two apertures and then clicked shut, would make all secure.
The next stage - greatly enjoyed by the Sisterhood - was the removal of all of Fraulein's clothing. Not that this was very much, of course. An athlete's bra, a short sleeved singlet, panties and running shorts were all very quickly cut through at strategic places and pulled free.
Now came the ceremonial Sacrifice of the Locks, as one of the girls had facetiously named it.
The German girls's blonde hair was thick and, when freed from its customary complex plaiting, streamed down over her shoulders and back to an inch or so below her waist. Judge of her horror when she felt that the tightly wound heavy plait was being lifted up from the back of her neck into a vertical position - and was then being cut off with a pair of very sharp scissors !
Ursula strained and pulled at the cunningly applied straps holding her to the Horse until the apparatus actually creaked, and attempted to force pleas, orders, threats, beggings through her gag. All she could emit was the same series of high-pitched whines. To which her assailants rightly paid no attention whatsoever, engaged as they were in a work of Justice . . .
The twins were quickly undoing the many separate strands of the thick plait, combing them out, and binding together the strands joining at one end. This so that, when all else was finished, the bound end could be inserted into a hole drilled in the top of the Horse, as far up between Fraulein forcibly spread buttocks as was possible, to give the effect of a luxuriant tail.
Meanwhile, however, the unfortunate Fraulein was undergoing her next trial. Carefully, so as not to cause her pain, Evelyn was using the electric clippers to shave her head completely. This done, the artistic Ayesha, who had been standing by with brush and paint at the ready, motioned to Evelyn to hold Fraulien's head steady. while she carefully painted a large black swastika inside a circle outlining the bald skull. The effect was, to say the least, bizarre.
MARY nerved herself for the least attractive (probably to her, and certainly to the German) operation of the punishment process. She signalled to Evelyn and Ayesha to hold the prisoner's head tightly, and then dabbed a little disinfectant on both sides of Fraulein's septum. This caused the prisoner to snort wildly. Now Mary opened the jaws of the leather punch she was holding, having first adjusted the circle of hollow piercing punches to the chosen diameter to take the brass ring that was to be inserted, and carefully eased the ends of the instrument to the right distance into Fraulein's nasal cavities. Then she nodded to her two friends, and suddenly and as quickly as she could clasped the handles together with all her strength, thus closing the jaws and punching a neat hole in the septum.
Fraulein Ursula convulsed as she felt the sharp and sickening pain of the insertion, and the crunch of the closing jaws echoed through her head.
Mary opened the jaws slightly, and withdrew the tool noting with distaste the tiny circle of bloody gristle now filling the punch. Next stage was smoothly to insert one end of the brass ring - one and a half inches in diameter- through the bloody aperture. She handed the tool over to Ayesha, and received in exchange two pairs of powerful pliers, and with these, using all her strength, she twisted the ends of the ring until they butted together. A quick application of a coagulating ointment (also from the barber's shop) to help stop the bleeding, and Fraulein's ringing was complete, apart from the attachment of the end link of a small light handling chain. This completed, the other end was attached to the left forward leg of the Horse, so that Fraulein's head was pulled down and to one side as if it was hanging in shame.
It had been decided that Mary and Ayesha should apply the major punishment, the flogging on the bare back, which would be the last to be suffered by Fraulein, while the use of the cane on the bare buttocks would be the province of the rest of the Sisterhood.
Each armed with a short length of thin bamboo, Sally, June and Evelyn carried out their task with gusto and with skill. Mary had, of course, described in full detail how the German had started to punish her, when she had her tied helpless to a chair, and the same routine was faithfully followed. At first a slow, gentle and hardly discernible tapping preceded by a soothing massage of the area, very gradually increasing in pace and strength until it was succeeded by a series of hard, cutting strokes. Not until both the German's naked buttocks were streaked all over with red weals did the punishment administered by the three cease.
Now it was the turn of Mary and her friend. One each side of the Horse and its prone and naked occupant,they gripped the handles of the two cats o' nine tails, nodded to each other, and began to take alternate strokes, carefully striking not so hard as to break the skin and draw blood, but hard enough so that Fraulein's back was very soon crisscrossed with raised and ridged bruises, overlapping as the girls had taken great care not to strike the same area of the German's well-muscled back twice. In all she had received fourteen strokes of the cat before Mary felt that honour had been satisfied. In any event, she reflected, as she stowed away her whip in the bag into which all the other equipment had been packed, in any event the exposure of the Horse and its helpless 'rider' would probably be worse for Fraulein than the corporal punishment, the shaving of the head and the painting on the bare skull of the Swastika and the insertion of the ring.
She waved the rest of the group away - there to join the rest of the School now filing into the Hall. The Tuppenham twins were careful to insert the 'horse's tail' so that it waved proudly over Ursula's maltreated buttocks . Mary waited for an hour, occupying the time by fastening the set of bells to the horse and various parts of Fraulein's anatomy, and by drying the cheeks of the German girl, and gently and tenderly stroking her back and buttocks (varying this treatment with the occasional sharp and savage pinch and tickle to keep the prisoner awake) until the first members of the audience - a mixed group of pupils, parents and Staff, appeared on the top of the steps leading to the Gym. Then Mary acted as swiftly as she could. She fully opened the two doors, and gave the horse a push from the rear. Slowly it started down the gentle slope leading to the middle of the Quad the bells tinkingaway merrily. Once the rear wheels were clear Mary slid shut the doors, left the Punishment Chamber, and made her way along the corridor to a small door leading to the Gym. Here she managed unobtrusively to join the crowd.
By the time Mary reached the outside, all Hell seemed to be breaking loose in the Quad ! The front of the Horse had been halted by the plinth of the statue in the middle of the Quad, and the apparatus and its helpless burden were surrounded by a disparate group of people, all talking at the same time, all trying to release Fraulein from the straps holding her so securely. Mary noticed that some gallant individual had endeavoured to cover the girl's nudity with a rain coat, which kept being removed as it was discovered that before she could be released the padlocks threaded through her holding straps and her gag would have to be unlocked, or else sawn through, and already searches were being made for hack-saws and the people to use them.
Someone had managed to remove Fraulein's blindfold, while a Junior Mistress could be seen running off to the Office there no doubt to telephone for the local Fire Brigade. What particularly pleased Mary, though,was that the local photographer was extremely busy making a pictorial record of Ursula's humiliation, despite the frantic efforts of the Headmistress to persuade him to desist.
Taking care not to join up with any of the rest of the now dissolved Sisterhood Mary edged her way into the crowd surrounding the horse, and gave a hand as it was wheeled away from the Quad, and up the stairs leading to the Gym, where it was hoped that its occupant could be freed and tended with some degree of privacy.
AFTER it was all over there was most naturally a plethora of enquiries, unofficial and official, and many efforts were made to uncover the identities of Fraulein's unknown assailants. She was insistant, of course, that Mary was the instigator of the whole affair, but had eventually to admit that she had neither seen nor been aware of her presence in any way throughout the whole of her ordeal. Nor could she provide any logical reason for her reiteration that Mary was at the bottom of it all without admitting that her cruel treatment of not only Mary but many of her other pupils may quite possibly have given some of them cause to dislike her.
Fraulein's accusations were further nullified by the fact that not only did all the pupils cross-examined by the Authorities deny any participation in the Ride, but stoutly and resolutely provided firm alibis one for another.
Frantic efforts were made by those in charge to water down the vivid accounts of the event that were circulating through a wide field, and large sums were used to persuade the photographer to destroy his negatives. It is rumoured. however, that one or two privately owned cameras recorded in full detail Fraulein's humiliation and prints are still in circulation, it is believed.
After a few days 'convalescing' from her ordeal Fraulein returned to her native land, minus her nose ring, of course, and bravely sporting a blonde wig.
Fully-recovered, she volunteered to join the Gestapo, was appointed to the Staff of her distant relative Heinrich Himmler, and eventually found herself in charge of a Special Interrogation Unit, a post for which it seems she was ideally qualified.
In the fullness of time Mary, it so happenes that by a strange coincidence, Mary and Fraulein (or rather Ober Lieutenant Battenburg as she was by that time) and the Syrian girl Ayesha were to meet again after a year or so, in an extraordinary role reversal, which all three young women found extremely interesting, though it is likely that two of them enjoyed their reunion rather less than did the third, at the beginning at least.
But that, as The Master said, is another story . . .
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