Amateur

Harold Plays The Hero
Copyright Oggbashan June 2001/July 2002 Minor revisions July 2015. The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.

None of this story has any relevance to a historical India. It is a fiction based in a mythical country which is one character’s imagination of what India might seem to be after consuming too much alcohol. The persons, acts and customs are those of a mythical place which has no basis in reality.

* * * * *

Harold Plays The Hero

I was riding my horse through the native quarter. It was a hot evening even for this part of India and I wanted to get back to my bungalow in the cantonments. It had been a hard day at the office. The dust muffled the sound of my horse’s hooves. The hubbub of the crowd seemed louder than normal but I wasn’t really noticing my surroundings. I was startled to hear Lisa shouting for me.

“Harold! Harold!”

I looked round. I couldn’t see her. Her shouts continued. Finally I looked up. Lisa was leaning out of a window on the top floor of the Rajah’s palace.

“Harold! Get us some weapons, quickly! We are being attacked!”

“What do you mean, attacked?” I shouted. Had Lisa gone mad? Who would attack Englishwomen in the Rajah’s palace of all places? This was the middle of the 19th Century and John Company people were safe anywhere. We effectively ruled all of India. The Rajah was a trusted ally.

“Don’t just stay there!” Lisa shouted “The natives are trying to break into the zenana. We’ve barricaded the doors but we can’t hold them off for long. We need weapons to fight them off until some troops can arrive. Get some NOW!”

“Yes, Lisa!” I shouted back. I turned my horse and galloped it back to the Company’s office. If what she said was true, she was in real trouble. The zenana was forbidden to men. Attacking a zenana was as bad as sacrilege. Anyone doing that must be either mad, or d**gged, or fanatics of some kind. If they broke in the women had no chance.

As I leapt from my horse, George’s horse was outside ready for him. I rushed in and met him at the top of the stairs. I grabbed him unceremoniously by the arm and pulled him in through the main entrance doors. I told him what was happening and asked him to send a heliograph to the cantonments, then join me at the Rajah’s palace. He sprinted up the stairs to the roof. I made for the basement armoury, unlocked it, and gathered pistols, powder, ball and a dozen swords; all we had. I added four naval cutlasses, bundled everything in a canvas sheet and staggered upstairs.

I left half the weapons for George to bring and loaded the rest on to my horse. I left at a gallop, shouting for people to get out of my way. As I rode the short distance I wondered how I could get the weapons to Lisa. I should have known better! As I reached the palace’s wall a rope of cloth was lowered from the window by Jane. I tied a bundle of swords to it. They were quickly hauled up and the process was repeated. As the last of my load was drawn up, George arrived. While we unloaded his horse we spoke.

“I got the message through,” he gasped “but they’ve got problems of their own. They are under siege by an armed mob of natives. The Colonel had ordered the gates shut and the walls manned this afternoon as an exercise. He must have known something would happen. They can’t promise to get here for a couple of hours.”

“Hours! The women may have only minutes!” I retorted. “We’ve got to get in there now!”

“How?” he asked, reasonably “We can’t go in through the main palace and the zenana has no other exit. That window…”, he pointed at the one that Lisa and Jane had used “… is the only one with a view of the outside. Access to it is a privilege granted to but a few inmates.”

“Then we’ll have to use it!” I said “Perhaps the women can pull us up?”

“You maybe,” George said “but I’m a heavy load” He looked around. “If I could climb that tree perhaps…” he looked doubtful “… I could jump down on to the roof.”

Jane appeared again and lowered the cloth rope. While we tied another load of weapons on I shouted to her.

“Jane! Do you think I could be hauled up to the window?”

“If Lisa can be spared to help me, maybe.” she replied.

When all the weapons were up, Lisa’s head appeared beside Jane.

“We’re going to try, Harold. Hang on to the rope!”

She called it rope but it was no more than native scarves tied together. If it broke, so would I be on the hard dusty street below.

I slung my sword across my back, checked that my pistol was tied into its holster and grabbed the rope. It began to lift me slowly. I walked up the wall as best I could. Suddenly the rope slipped as a knot tightened. I thought my last hour had come. It seemed hours before their hands reached out and pulled me in.

“Come on, Harold!” ordered Lisa “Jane will stay to watch this window. Her ankle was damaged when they tried to break the door down. She’ll tell us if help is coming. I’ll take you to the entrance without meeting any of the zenana women. You’d shock them. If we can survive this without revealing your presence we won’t have offended the Rajah’s sensitivities.”

I waited until we were out of Jane’s earshot.

“I’m sorry, Lisa. Help won’t be here for some time. The cantonments are under attack as well.”

She spat out an unladylike word.

“Then we’ll have to cope alone. We managed to bar the doors thanks to Jane. She saw them coming and slammed the doors yelling for help in Latin. The Rajah’s women didn’t understand her so we were able to act before they realised. We suspect that the Ranee’s invitation to so many of the important Englishwomen to see a dancing display and Indian textiles was timed so that we could be captured.”

“Have any of the women attacked you?” I asked

“I like to see them try!” she snorted “The older ladies felt it was too hot to come out. Those of us who came are the younger, fitter ones who like riding, hunting and sports. We’re more than a match for these exotic harem flowers even when we’re outnumbered two to one. The only advantage they had is that they weren’t hampered with corsets and crinolines. You’ll have to avert your eyes from some of us. We’ve shed a few layers and are in our chemises. As you are married to me you’ve seen more than that!”

We reached the antechamber to the zenana. A miscellaneous pile of furniture was pushed across the narrow doorway. From beyond sounds of banging and crashing showed the attackers were still persisting. I looked at the barricade and at the white-faced women ready to defend it. The women looked determined but worried.

“Haven’t they tried to blow the door in?” I asked Lisa in a whisper.

She replied equally quietly. “We’ve told them that we’ve tied the Ranee and some of the others to the barricade”

“But you haven’t!” I retorted

“Well, no. That wouldn’t be cricket.” she replied “It is only necessary for the attackers to think we have. We’ve locked the women in a large room and two of us are guarding the door. We think we’ve imprisoned all of them but in this maze we can’t be sure.”

I looked closely at the barricade. “This looks sound enough to hold them for a while.” I said “What about other entrances?”

“This is the zenana!” Lisa responded “There is supposed to be only one carefully guarded and controlled entrance to keep men out and to keep the women in.”

“Maybe. But what about The Consort’s Stairs or the viewing gallery?” I asked.

“What Consort’s Stairs? What viewing gallery?” She asked, puzzled.

“Oh ****!” I exclaimed “I forgot you don’t hear the stories in the Mess.”The Consort’s Stairs” are the private access to the Rajah’s suite so that the selected woman can get to him WITHOUT having to go through the main entrance. We’ve found that feature in every palace we’ve had to capture. The viewing gallery is right behind the throne so that the Ranee can whisper advice to him when he’s holding court. There’s usually an access there as well! We MUST find them or we can be outflanked!”

“In that case the entrance must be in or near the Ranee’s suite. It’s this way.” said Lisa pulling my arm.

“Hold it!” I said. “If I’m right we may be too late. We need more than the two of us to hold them off. If George has got in he could help.”

“All right! We’ll check with Jane.”

We rushed through the maze of passages to the window. George had just squeezed himself through it from the roof. We explained what I suspected.

“I’ve got my revolver,” said George “So have you. They should stop a rush. Has Lisa got a pistol?”

Lisa produced a short double-barrelled Derringer from her skirt pocket. It looked like a toy but the bores were massive. “I’ve got this, but I need to be very close to whoever I shoot.”

“You’d better watch out, Harold.” George said “You’re closest to her.”

Jane laughed. “I’ve got one of those too. They’re meant for us to use in the last resort; to kill ourselves. That’s why they have no range. But I’d rather take one or two of them with me and let the rest kill me.”

“I think this attack is to get hostages,” I said “Otherwise they’d have used guns before now. Are you content to stay here, Jane?”

“I’ll be all right. My ankle doesn’t hurt so much now. We need someone here in case help arrives. I’ve hung a Union Jack out of the window so they’ll know we’re here.”

“Where did you get that from?” I asked

“Didn’t you know that all English ladies carry a Union Jack in their drawers for use in emergencies” Jane asked archly.

“Ignore her!” said Lisa “It was hanging on a wall near here. We must check for other entrances before they are used.”

Lisa, George and I set off for the Ranee’s suite, advancing slowly. Lisa led the way and looked around each corner before beckoning us on. We reached the door to the Ranee’s suite without incident.

Lisa eased the door open quietly. She put her head around it. Then we went in. This room was empty but each wall was d****d in tapestry. We looked behind each tapestry, finding that they covered no entrances, but had concealed incredibly erotic carvings and paintings. Some of the positions looked impossible.

“Don’t get ideas now!” Lisa snapped at me and George. She knew us too well!

We moved carefully into the next room. This one was strewn with thick cushions and masses of silken materials. There must have been dozens of brilliantly coloured saris, shawls, scarves and other feminine garments. At one end of the room was a gaddi – a Rajah’s cushioned throne. It was unusual in that it seemed to have many long silken scarves attached to it and there was a U shaped cushion for a head-rest on top. The decorations in this room were not hidden and were very explicit.

“I’ve never been in here” breathed Lisa, looking at the walls “I’d like a record of those pictures. They could be most educational.”

Under his tan I could see George blush. I didn’t. I was used to Lisa.

“This must be the Ranee’s room for receiving the Rajah.” I said. “If there is another entrance it must be in here. George, can you check the left wall; Lisa you check the right one. I’ll look at the end wall beyond the gaddi.”

We examined the walls closely. The statues were almost free-standing and linked in incredible ways male to female. I couldn’t find any joins in the end wall. Lisa and George couldn’t in the walls they were looking at. Suddenly Lisa giggled.

“Look at this one. Its thing is sticking out at just the right height for a small Indian lady to mount!” she peered at it closely. It certainly was realistic and erect.

“It’s worn!” she exclaimed “It’s polished with hard use!” She grabbed it and pulled. Even I blushed at that. Then she pushed it. There was a grating sound and the statue and its partner slid apart revealing an opening.

“That’s an interesting idea” said Lisa in a normal voice “but rather TOO obvious. Any passing woman would be likely to grab an unattended prick.”

George and I were horrified. That was NOT the way for well-bred Englishwomen to talk. Lisa laughed at our embarrassment.

“You men! You just don’t know how women talk when we’re alone. Our language is no worse than yours is when The Ladies have retired.”

We didn’t dare ask how she knew what male conversation was like. We were embarrassed enough!

“Come on!” she ordered. “We’ve got to find where this goes. Either we can block it or maybe use it to get out of here.”

She plunged into the dark opening, her sword held out like a spear in front of her. We followed.

After a few metres we could see a faint light ahead. Then we emerged behind a strong metal lattice screen. It was fantastically ornate but all too obviously a fixture. This was the viewing gallery behind the Rajah’s seat. But there was no way through from this end of the passage. As we returned to the Ranee’s room we felt the walls on both sides. They were unbroken.

“There must be another secret passage,” I said as we emerged into the Ranee’s room. “We’ll have to check every statue!”

We grabbed, pulled, and twisted at all the protruding parts of the statues. I felt myself aroused despite caressing only stone. That stone was so realistic. It fell to George to make the discovery. He had remembered that both Yoni and Lingam were important to Indian culture. Where I’d been grabbing protruding parts he’d been fingering every orifice! He finally fingered a most appealing wench standing with her hips thrust forward. He was rewarded when her legs slid aside. We’d have to enter between them and under her yoni!

This time I went first. We had to crawl the first few metres until the passageway became wider and higher. It was lit from small gratings up high and was very clean. It must have been swept daily. It ended in an apparently solid wall with an eyehole.

Looking through I could see the back of our attackers. The eyehole was on gallery level of the main hall. The attackers were prying at a door on the opposite gallery with crowbars. The door had been ornately carved wood but most of that had been torn away revealing riveted iron. That was what was protecting the women! If Jane had not been able to slam that door in time …

I moved aside to let the others see. Then we fell back. We didn’t want to be overheard.

“There must be some way through but the attackers don’t seem to know it, and neither do we.” I said. “How many attackers did you see?”

“About 20.” said Lisa

“I thought less, maybe 15,” said George “But how many more are there elsewhere? There isn’t room on that gallery for many more than those we saw. There might be hundreds downstairs or in the rest of the building. Did you recognise any of them, Harold?”

“Yes. I did! There’s the Rajah’s eldest son and some of the younger nobility. The Rajah must be in this up to his neck!”

“I agree,” said George “This isn’t an isolated bunch of fanatics. It’s a conspiracy to get rid of John Company. Those people are important in their community. If they succeed they might blame it on dacoits or thugs but they couldn’t let the women live to tell the truth. They’d be massacred to keep the secret that the Rajah sanctioned the attack.”

“Oh ****!” exclaimed Lisa “If that’s the case we’ve got to break out. They’ve been trying for nearly an hour. When they lose patience they’re will use gunpowder and blast their way in. But if the Rajah’s involved why haven’t they used the other entrance? It must be here somewhere.”

“If it is, and I think it must be, all I can suggest is that the Rajah wants the secret kept.” I said “It must be very useful to him and he might not want all his young men to know about it. How could he protect his zenana afterwards? Shall we go back and look very, very quietly?”

They nodded. Then we crept back to the eyehole. While Lisa kept watch through it, George and I searched. We found nothing. The head of the passage was about 4 metres across but plain. There were no crevices, no projections, nothing! Lisa hissed at us.

“The Rajah’s coming this way!” she whispered. As she watched she signalled his progress with a hand. He approached and passed out of her view.

We heard a faint sound behind us, down the passage. George and I grabbed our swords and started towards the sound. Lisa followed. There was nothing to see until a section of wall moved silently aside behind us and just in front of Lisa. The Rajah stepped out. He must have been blinded, coming in out of the light. He didn’t seem to see us although we were only a metre away. We and our swords were facing the wrong way but we needn’t have worried. Lisa was on him in a flash and as one arm grabbed him around the neck her other hand silenced him. He struggled for a second before we reached him. Then he collapsed. He had fainted from the shock!

Lisa hog-tied him with his sash and gagged him with his turban. George and I stood there goggling. She had bound him in seconds!

George whispered to me “If I were you, old boy, I wouldn’t argue with your wife. That looks as if she’s practised.”

I nodded. I didn’t want George to know that she practised on me!

“He’s safe for a few minutes,” said Lisa “Let’s explore his entrance.”

It was dark inside the side passage. I struck a lucifer on the wall to show the way. The sliding door had been released by a long lever on the inside. We forgot to look for the release from the main passage. That was a mistake that I would live to regret!

We reached the entrance while my lucifer was still burning. It too had an obvious lever. I operated it quietly, opened the panel a crack and peered out. The entrance was in a recess in the wall so I was unseen. I opened the panel fully and slipped out, motioning to Lisa and George to stay put. The panel was operated on the visible side by a button hidden on a decorative flower. I noted its exact position. I might have to use it. Gingerly I stepped forward and looked around.

On the gallery opposite they were still prying at the door. Below there seemed to be dozens of natives armed with swords and daggers just waiting to rush up the stairs when the door was open. Then I paused horror-struck. Through the crowd three men were forcing their way carrying a small barrel of gunpowder. They must have decided to blow the door in!

I slipped back to the others to tell them what I had seen.

“Take the Rajah and put him behind the door.” I ordered. “I’ll try to delay them and then retreat through this entrance. Quickly now! You must make them hear the Rajah before they set off the gunpowder.”

Lisa pecked me on the cheek before she and George set off at a run. I put down the two swords I had been carrying and loosened my pistol in its holster.

I opened the panel, stepped out, and closed it fully behind me. The men carrying the gunpowder barrel had started up the stairs. How could I stop them? A lucky pistol shot might hit the barrel but I would have to be very lucky to hit a moving target at that range.

Even if I could fight my way through the mass below I would be too late. I looked around and saw the chandeliers. If I could hang on to the nearest I could swing to the next and then across. As long as there were no firearms I might have a chance. I peered carefully – only swords and daggers. I hoped I hadn’t missed a concealed pistol.

I thought of Lisa. She may have seen the last of me! I jumped to the first chandelier and grabbed. It swung violently and hit the second one. Before that one swung away I transferred one hand to it … then both. But my momentum had been lost! I was stuck above a hostile crowd who had seen me! They shouted imprecations at me and waved their useless swords in the air. A spear thrown from the back of the hall missed me by inches and impaled one of the natives to groans of dismay.

The progress of the powder barrel had been halted in surprise. I swung by one hand and scrabbled at my holster. I pulled out my pistol left handed, cocked it with my thumb and started to lift it to aim at the barrel. I was impeded by the swinging of the chandelier. When it stopped moving I must hit the barrel with at least one of the six shots. I wouldn’t survive the explosion. Unfortunately one of the natives must have been a person of intelligence. He realised my intention. He threw the barrel from the gallery into the crowd below shouting to them to conceal it. It reached the people below before I could complete my aim. I pointed the pistol down at the commotion. The barrel was being moved away from me. Then I saw a glimpse of it and pulled the trigger.

The explosion caused me to drop my pistol and grab at the chandelier with both hands. I swung violently. I jumped for the other chandelier as it touched and used it as a swing until the pendulum action enabled me to reach the gallery I’d started from.

I was still in trouble. Although the explosion had killed and injured many, a few were running up the stairs towards me and I was unarmed. I turned to run to the secret entrance and met Lisa holding out a sword for me. I clutched it, turned and then she and I were fighting for our lives. Side by side we thrust, parried, thrust again. A few bodies testified to our skill then Lisa’s sword jammed in her opponent’s body. As she bent to withdraw it another attacker tried to run her through.

I parried, grabbed one of the dead men’s swords and threw it like a spear. It skewered Lisa’s attacker through an eye. She retrieved her sword and returned to the attack shouting “Thanks!”

Then George shouted from behind us “Fall back!”

We withdrew as his pistol roared. Five natives fell to his six shots and the gallery was cleared. We ran for the secret panel, through it and slammed it behind us. We rushed through to the main passage pulling the door closed, forgetting we didn’t know how to open it.

We paused panting for breath.

“Thank you, Lisa,” I puffed “I thought I was certain to die until you came with the swords. And thank you George. You saved both of us.”

Lisa cuffed me round the ear. “Were you trying to commit suicide? I saw everything. You hadn’t a hope of swinging from the chandelier and shooting as well. I don’t know how you hit that barrel …”

“Neither do I!” I admitted

” … but I want my husband in one piece, not blown to bits!” she finished.

“We’d better get back to the others and see how they’re doing with the Rajah” said George. “You can save the recriminations till later.”

As we returned to the Ranee’s room we discussed what to do next.

“What if they break through here?” I said “Or through the viewing gallery? With their crowbars they could get in there even though we can’t get out.”

“I can stay here,” said George as we entered the Ranee’s room “If I sit on the gaddi I can see both secret panels and hold them off with my pistol. If you hear me fire you’ll know I’m being attacked.”

We agreed although we all knew that George could not hold them off with the six shots in his pistol which he was reloading carefully. If we heard him fire all we could do is prepare the women to ambush the attackers. George would be dead.

Lisa and I returned towards the main group of women by the entrance door. On the way we checked the two women guarding the room where the Ranee and the other native women were confined. There had been little sound from inside, just muted conversation. We could hear a faint murmur through the door. We saw Jane at the window. She had seen nothing unusual, nor any sign of a rescue party.

I wasn’t prepared for the sight that met me when we rejoined the main group. The women had stripped the Rajah, tied him into a discarded dress and crinoline, and hung him by the heels from the ceiling. He was naked from the waist down, or rather up since he was upside-down. His head, hands and upper body were invisible under the inverted crinoline. His cries were muffled under the trailing skirts. There was good reason for his cries. His backside was being enthusiastically whipped with a riding crop! It was already reddened and the weals criss-crossed both buttocks.

Lisa’s reaction was typical of her. She laughed heartily before asking “What are you trying to achieve?”

The answer was that the Rajah had refused to shout through the door to tell the attackers he was there. He’d said he rather die than admit that he’d been captured by women.

I asked the women to stop, got down on my knees and raised the skirts slightly so I could talk to the Rajah, but he couldn’t see beyond me. “Good afternoon.” I said “While I might sympathise with your scruples, do you realise that your son might wish to blow you up with us? If he does, he will be the Rajah. If you tell those outside that you are here he will be unable to blame the British for your death.”

The Rajah did not reply.

I continued “On the other hand the women are getting impatient. They are heating a poker to push up your arse because they think that might make you squeal. I think it will, don’t you?”

That drew a response. The Rajah turned pale. “They wouldn’t do that!!” he squeaked.

“Oh yes they will. The poker isn’t hot enough yet so they might castrate you first as an appetiser.”

“Please stop them! I’ll talk!” The Rajah was obviously terrified at the thought of castration.

“I’ll try,” I said, dropping the skirts as I stood up.

I pulled Lisa aside and whispered what I had told the Rajah. She caught on straight away.

“Is that poker hot enough yet?” she asked in a loud voice. The other women looked at her wondering what she was asking. One of them caught on. “Nearly ready, Lisa! Only a couple of minutes more before it’s really red-hot!”

The inverted dome of skirts swung as the Rajah struggled inside. “Let me out!” he cried. “I’ll talk to my people!”

Lisa and the others lowered the Rajah to the floor and turned him the right way up. He had to be held upright because his legs were still tied together. They bundled him towards the barricade and waited.

The Rajah gathered his breath then shouted in dialect through the door. The gist of what he said was that he had been captured (he didn’t mention by women!) and that he was held immediately behind the door. If they broke in he, the Rajah, would be killed.

We waited expectantly for a reply. There was a sudden silence. There was some scuffling outside. His son shouted the reply in the same dialect. He would not withdraw but he would try to capture someone important enough to exchange for his father. Then he repeated the reply in clear English, adding “If you harm my father you will die slowly and painfully.”

We all relaxed. The relief was intense. We were now unlikely to have the door blown in and we hoped that the Rajah’s son wouldn’t capture anyone. While we held the Rajah we were safe – for a while.

Lisa and I decided to check on George while the others secured the Rajah to the barricade.

When we reached the Ranee’s room there was no sign of George. The gaddi was disarranged, showing that the U-shaped cushion was fixed to a metal frame and the other cushions were in a heap. I looked through them and was horrified to find George’s unfired revolver. I showed it to Lisa.

“How could they have got at George without him being able to fire a shot? It must have been very sudden. They can’t have come from the passages that we know about because he would have seen them and have had time to fire.”

Although I was speaking to Lisa both of us knew that the questions were rhetorical. Neither of us had any idea how George could have been captured. He must have been captured because there was no sign of blood anywhere.

Lisa stated the obvious. “There must be a third entrance that we don’t know about. It can’t be near the other two.”

I thought for a moment. “It can’t lead outside the zenana or the Rajah’s son would have mentioned that he captured George. It must be internal.”

Lisa suddenly realised “The only part of the zenana we don’t patrol is the room where the Rajah’s women are kept. The passage must lead there! The women must have George.”

“Before we rush off there I’d like to know where the passage entrance is” I said “Otherwise the women might escape through it.”

As I was speaking I was rearranging the cushions of the gaddi, looking for any other clue to how George had been a*****ed. I peered closely at the U-shaped cushion and its metal support because I hadn’t seen such a feature of a gaddi before. Then I stiffened and sniffed carefully. There was a sickly-sweet smell that I didn’t recognise.

“Lisa” I called “Can you smell anything on this gaddi?”

She looked at me as if I’d gone mad. “Smell? Why a smell?”

To humour me she sniffed at the cushion. Then she stepped back suddenly. “So that’s how they did it!” she exclaimed.

“What?” I asked stupidly

“That smell is an anaesthetic. If you smell enough of it you’ll be u*********s. It’s used by delicate ladies for c***dbirth and I’m told it’s even used by dentists. Even our Queen has used it but it’s very uncommon. We had a demonstration once at the Residency. The lady who tried out was u*********s for ten minutes but was violently sick afterwards. Most of us decided that bearing pain was preferable but we were told that she was sick because she’d taken the anaesthetic after a meal. If she’d starved for 12 hours there would have been no problem.”

We looked closer at the metal support. It was made of tubing which entered the U-shaped cushion. The gas must have been passed through the tubing. Anyone resting their head in the U would have breathed the anaesthetic and passed out.

“It must be a fixture. They didn’t do this just now. I’ve been told that the ladies of the zenana “control” the Rajah’s sexual desires. This must be one way that they do it.” Lisa said.

We followed the tubing down the back of the gaddi to the floor. Now we were close we could see a faint join in the flooring outlining a square trap door.

“Get the table from the ante-room” Lisa ordered

I dragged the heavy table in. Then we inverted it over the trapdoor and piled chairs and other furniture on top. Whether it opened up or down, that trapdoor was blocked.

We returned to the entrance hall. Lisa picked a group of women to accompany us to the room where the Rajah’s women were locked in. When we arrived the women guarding the door whispered that there had been nothing unusual except that there had been some giggling. “The women inside seem remarkably happy,” said one.

“We’ll see about that!” whispered Lisa. She explained that we thought they had captured George. While the two women had a normal level conversation the door was unlocked. Then we rushed in waving swords and cutlasses. The native women screeched and some tried to hide a couch from our view but we thrust them aside. What a sight was revealed!

George was tied to the couch with silken saris. He was swathed so effectively that little of him was visible. His tool had been left exposed and a woman was just lifting herself off it, leaving it slick with her juices. His head was concealed under another woman’s d****ries. As she stood up he was shown to be tightly gagged with a long silk scarf. That also was moist with female secretions as was the rest of his face.

While Lisa stood in front to conceal George from the other Englishwomen I cut him free with my sword. I had to help him to stand up and I wrapped a sari around his privates. He sank down on to the couch as I searched the room for his clothes. They were strewn everywhere! They must have been thrown around the room as he was stripped.

Much later George told Lisa and I about his ordeal. He fell asleep on the gaddi and when he woke up he was tied to the couch. One woman was riding him and another was rubbing her yoni over his face. Every few minutes the women were replaced by others. He seemed to have been straddled by every woman present at least once. He couldn’t understand how he had kept his erection until after I’d released him when he found a cord tied around the base of his penis. He hadn’t felt it because he was so sore from all the action his penis had endured. He admitted that it took him several weeks before his wedding tackle was fit for use again!

The Ranee had been seized and hustled away. The rest of the zenana women were tied up by the outraged Englishwomen and lined up in a struggling line on the floor. The two who had been in the act with George were turned on their faces and whipped with riding crops. I didn’t say anything at the time but the native hussies seemed to be enjoying it as much as the Englishwomen wielding the crops. As George had not admitted that the two were the last of many (and he never did admit it except to us two and Jane) the rest were not maltreated.

I helped George to Jane’s window. Jane thought that she could see movement at the cantonment but was not sure. I left her ministering to George while I returned to the entrance hall to see what the women were up to.

They’d inverted the Rajah again and now his Ranee was also caged in a crinoline and inverted. His and her private parts were clearly on view and hers were suspiciously wet. There was talk of red-hot pokers again. Lisa drew me aside, pulling me with my back to the view of the Ranee’s yoni.

“We’re trying to discover if they know of another way out” she explained.

“Oh shit!” I retorted “No-one is watching the ones that we do know about. I’d better get back there now.”

I rushed back to the Ranee’s room. I checked the passage with the viewing screen. It was empty. From the screen I could see natives moving around but no real action. I returned to the Ranee’s room.

I entered the other passage under the statue’s yoni. I crawled through until the passage opened out. I went to the eyehole but the scene was as before. There was no sign of any purposeful activity. I seemed to feel a presence in the passage with me but I couldn’t see anything. I felt for the opening the Rajah had passed through and then cursed aloud because I had forgotten to look for the secret lever on this side before we had shut the door. I couldn’t find it. I felt everywhere but there was no lever that I could find.

I decided to return to the Ranee’s room and crouched down on my hands and knees in the low part of the passage. As I crawled along I felt that something was wrong. My hands were on a silky material that hadn’t been there when I entered! I had just realised this and stopped when a head banged hard on my rump sending me toppling forward headfirst, with my arms beside me.

I expected to hit the stone floor hard but I landed on warm flesh. There was a soft grunt in a female voice then my head was tightly wrapped so I couldn’t shout. Behind me the silken material was pulled backwards trapping my arms against my sides.

I was pulled out of the tunnel still unable to see until the cloth was repositioned over my mouth. Through a translucent material I was looking at a jewelled navel a few centimetres away. My head was resting on silk covered thighs. Then I was rolled over on to my back. As my head was lifted I could see that I had been bagged in a silk sack with a drawstring pulled around my ankles. Facing me was one of the Ranee’s younger ladies who was lashing my legs with a scarf. Above me two breasts pressed down. Their owner was lashing my arms to my sides.

I was dragged across the floor and lowered down the open trapdoor to more waiting female arms. The two native ladies followed and the trapdoor swung shut. Why hadn’t I noticed that the table had been moved? I must have seen it but was too concerned about the passages leading outside to worry about the internal one.

I was carried along the passage and into a dimly lit chamber. It was part of the secret passage. I was thinking furiously. How had I been caught? Some of the women must have been outside the locked room when we broke in to rescue George. Some could have been between that room and the Ranee’s room but the table would have trapped them. The only place others could have been was the Rajah’s entrance. Why hadn’t they admitted the men who could have outflanked us? The women in the Rajah’s entrance could have moved the table and released the others from behind the gaddi. I was in trouble but the Englishwomen guarding the native women were also at risk. There were at least six or seven women with me. If they could get through the passage they might overpower the guards and release their friends.

But my plight was more urgent. What would happen to me? Would I suffer like George?

I was laid down on a mattress on the floor. Then four or five women fell on me. While my gag was removed and replaced several hands covered my mouth. They tore away my bonds and the enclosing silk sack but I was held too tightly to escape. My clothes were stripped off me and I was bound hand and foot. I was naked except for the silken bonds holding me.

A woman sat beside me and lifted my head and shoulders on to her lap. My cheek was pressed against her naked midriff and I could barely see her face past the overhanging breasts. She spoke quietly to me.

“Well, Englishman? What should we do to you? Can you help us?”

I couldn’t answer because I was still tightly gagged. She lifted me further and pressed me against her breasts. She spoke again. “It would be pleasant to find out if you are a better love toy than the Rajah’s sons but we have more important matters to consider. Are you willing to discuss them without raising an outcry?”

I looked carefully at her face. She seemed to be serious. Perhaps we could negotiate? I nodded which had the unfortunate side-effect of entering her cleavage. She forced my head further in and then pulled me out again.

“I would like to try an Englishman,” she said “but I must think of my people first.” She untied my gag. I moved my lips and jaw, easing them.

“What do you mean, your people?” I asked quietly.

“I am the Rajah’s second son’s wife,” she replied. “The Rajah and his heir are deeply committed to the plot against the English. I am afraid that they are misguided and cannot succeed. When they fail you English will take terrible reprisals. We will all suffer for the madness of a few. That I want to prevent. Can you help me to protect those of us who are innocent of plotting?”

“It might be possible but not while you keep me a prisoner,” I replied.

“Harold!” I started at the realisation that she knew who I was – “Will you give me your parole as an English Gentleman?”

I thought for a moment. “Of course.” I said.

She untied me and the women returned my clothes to me. I felt more embarrassed getting dressed than I had lying naked on her breast. When I had finished I stood up. She stood beside me. She was nearly as tall as I am.

She kissed me on the cheek.

“What was that for?” I asked

“For giving your parole to a woman. Most of our men have a low regard for women.” she replied.

“My wife has taught me that women are as important as men.” I said

I realised I didn’t know her name “I’ve met your husband, Vishaladeva, but not you. What is your name?”

“They call me Serena,” she said “My full name is difficult to say in English.”

“Well, Serena, how are we going to help your people? Have you any ideas?”

“Yes. We have kept my husband and his advisors out of the revolt …”

“How?” I interrupted.

“My husband honoured my bed last night. He didn’t intend to and unfortunately he found that he couldn’t leave it this morning. A message was sent to the Rajah that my husband and his advisors were sick and being tended in his zenana. So they are but not for sickness.”

I couldn’t contain my curiosity “How was it that all of them were sick?”

“I arranged for a dance troupe to entertain them last night. My husband and his seven closest advisors were present. The dancers were very good; a team of f******n. At the climax of their performance they danced in pairs around each man. Somehow the dance ended with the men bagged as you were. Now they are confined to bed with their every need attended to except freedom, of course.” but the women would be safe.
“Won’t they seek revenge on the women when they are released?”

“We think not. If they realise that they have been spared from participation in an unsuccessful revolt and now my husband might be the next Rajah – I think they’ll forgive us. Despite their bonds they have been pleasured all day. But I must convince the English authorities that they were not involved in the revolt. I hope that you can help, Harold.”

“How?”

“If you can see that the men are not involved at present, and take their word that they were unable to participate today, you might be able to convince the authorities that not all of us supported the revolt. If my husband had been able to influence the Rajah there would have been no revolt here. He could not but also could not betray his father. I solved his dilemma for him.”

“I can understand what you are asking but how can I tell my superiors that your husband was tied up by women? He wouldn’t have any credibility left. His people wouldn’t respect him.”

“You English don’t understand the native mind. You may tell our people that my husband and his advisors were captured by women so that they couldn’t participate in the revolt but the people won’t believe it. They will think it’s just a clever story to account for not supporting the Rajah and part of a devious plot for my husband to succeed. Even if they do believe it, they’ll probably be jealous that the men were pleasured for so long – a much better course of action than a revolt. We won’t tell the people anything. We’ll just spread a rumour about what happened. As far as your authorities are concerned you can think up a story that would convince them, can’t you Harold? If not, you aren’t as clever as your wife says you are.”

“You know my wife?”

“Yes” Serena replied “How do you think the Colonel got the idea of having a practice today? I hinted to Lisa. She spoke to the Colonel’s wife and so it was done. We thought that the women would be safe in the zenana here. The men’s attack on it was a surprise but because Lisa and Jane were aware that something might happen they reacted quickly. We had expected an attack by the women since no man should enter the zenana. That is why only the younger Englishwomen came. They and I thought that the Ranee’s women couldn’t win. They didn’t but they weren’t in on the plot, not even the Ranee herself. The revolt was the men’s idea and they didn’t consult any women.”

While she was speaking I was thinking fast. What could I do to convince the authorities that Serena’s husband was uninvolved in the revolt? Then I realised. We had the Rajah and Ranee! If we could escape to the English cantonment with the women, and with the captured Rajah and Ranee, and I could report that escape was the work of Vishaladeva and his party …

“I think I have the solution, Serena. Is there any way that we can leave this zenana without the men outside knowing? If there is my plan may work. Is there another exit?”

Serena seemed reluctant to answer. Then she said “Come out into the passage with me.” She spoke a few words in dialect to her women. Some of them obviously protested but Serena spoke sharply, just once. When we were in the passage in sight but out of earshot of the women, Serena whispered to me.

“You are asking too much, Harold. There are secrets within secrets. The Rajah knows of the passage to the viewing screen, and to the spyhole. He knows about the entrance to the spyhole passage but the Ranee does not. She knows about the two passages, but not how the Rajah enters. She knows he has an entrance, of course, and that it is in the spyhole passage but not where. She knows about the passage to the trapdoor behind the gaddi but the Rajah doesn’t. He certainly doesn’t know about the anaesthetic in the top cushion. Whenever it is used the Ranee has the room perfumed and overheated so when he falls asleep he thinks that it’s because he’s overcome by the heat. He isn’t very bright and the Ranee d**gs him frequently. But the other passages are not known to the Rajah, nor to the Ranee, nor to any of their staffs. I know because I’m a descendant of the builders. My husband doesn’t know and I don’t want him to know. You could make life very difficult for me if you knew about the other passages. If I am to be the next Ranee I will need those secrets.”

“All I want to know is whether we can get out. How we keep your secrets is another matter. We may be able to find a way of using the passages without seeing where they are and how they are worked. We already know too much. I am sure that the Englishwomen and George and I can keep your secrets. We can give our word.”

“Your women I am not worried about. They will understand my need for secrecy. You, maybe I can trust, but George – him I don’t know.”

“I do. If he gave you his word, he would never break it. Neither would I”

“Even to a native woman?”

“Especially to a woman. And to a princess and ruler of her people. Neither of us would say a thing.”

“I’ll have to believe you. Yes – there are ways out of here. We can go to my husband’s zenana and then outside, or directly outside from here. Is that enough?”

“More than enough. If we go through your husband’s zenana we can arrange for him to rescue the women, capture the Rajah and Ranee, and take all to the cantonment. That will show that he is not part of the revolt. By rescuing us he will be acceptable to the authorities. So far none of us has been hurt except Jane’s sprained ankle and George’s ordeal. He’ll keep quiet because he’d never live the story down. Jane can tell her story openly. George and I will say we have NEVER been in either zenana. We must have helped from outside. The two of us will ride ahead and warn the colonel that your husband is coming. Will that do?”

“Yes, Harold. Lisa was right. You are clever. Now how do we keep my secrets?”

“We are blindfolded before we enter the passages and remain blindfolded until we are in public rooms. When we are outside we can be unblindfolded. Will that do?”

“I suppose it will have to do. But you will still know of the existence of the passages.”

“Yes. We will all give our word not to speak of them.”

“In that case, we’d better start moving now. Can you explain to the women without the Rajah, the Ranee or her women hearing?”

“Yes. That’s easily done.”

“Remember I have your parole. Do not try to escape, please.”

“Of course not. If, and it is very unlikely, the women reject our plan then I will return to you.”

“Come on then,” said Serena. She spoke a few sentences to her women. Two ran ahead down the passageway. One came back shortly afterwards and whispered to Serena.

“The Ranee’s room is clear but the Englishwomen are rushing around looking for you. To get you outside will take careful timing.”

We stood beneath the trapdoor waiting for a signal from one of Serena’s women looking through a spyhole I hadn’t detected. Suddenly Serena tapped me on the shoulder “Go NOW!” she whispered urgently. I lowered the trapdoor, clambered through it and it shut silently behind me. I ran out of the room and collided with Lisa coming the other way. We grabbed each other and kissed passionately. Eventually we broke our kiss.

“Harold! Where have you been? We lost you and thought you had been captured.” Lisa panted.

Slowly I explained to her what had happened and the plan Serena and I had worked out.

“Serena’s a friend,” Lisa said bluntly “I’ll forgive her this time for capturing my husband, but she’d better not do it again – at least not without my consent!” She twinkled at me. “I’ll explain to the others. You go back and tell her that we’ll go with the plan. Don’t forget to tell her that I’ll spank her bottom if she k**naps you again!”

“Are you sure the others will agree?” I asked as I was returning to the Ranee’s room.

“Yes – if they won’t I’ll make them!” Lisa replied.

When I got back into the Ranee’s room I said “Serena?” quietly. The trapdoor opened and Serena emerged.

“Lisa’s agreed and is persuading the others. She told me that she’ll spank your bottom if you k**nap me again!”

“That sounds like genuine Lisa!” Serena giggled “Go back and tell her to bring everybody here with something to blindfold themselves. Although there’s enough s**ttered around this room to provide blindfolds.” She looked disdainfully at the s**ttered silks. “The Ranee’s women thought about nothing other than personal adornment. I and my women have other interests as well.”

I went back in search of Lisa. It was the story of my life! If I wasn’t organised by Lisa, some other woman was ordering me about.

When I reached the entrance hall the Rajah and Ranee had been lowered to the ground, stripped of their crinolines and roughly dressed in their own clothes. They were bound, blindfolded and gagged. The women were struggling into their crinolines and dresses. I laced up more dresses than I could count. Finally all of them looked like respectable English gentlewomen again except for the swords, daggers and pistols!

I went to find Jane and George. Jane had dressed herself with George’s help. She pointed out of the window.

“The fighting seems to have stopped. It looks as if there’s a column of troops on the way. If our plan is to work we must act quickly before the colonel arrives.”

“Yes. We’re nearly ready. We should be the last to leave.” I replied.

When we reached the Ranee’s room it was empty but for Serena. She held out blindfolds for each of us. When we were blindfolded she spun us round one by one. A hand pushed my head down and I ducked into an echoing passage. A small soft hand held mine and guided me along. The passage twisted and turned for at least a hundred metres before I was forced to duck again. Then I felt a finished floor under my feet. I was led through what I felt were several rooms before my blindfold was removed. Serena was standing in front of me, surrounded by her women. I looked to my side. Still holding my hand was Serena’s youngest daughter. I lifted her hand to my lips and kissed it. She giggled and said something to her mother.

“My daughter says that she is still just too young for such gallantry, Harold. But she also says if you come back to her in about 5 years time perhaps she’ll be old enough.” Serena smiled.

“Thank her for her kind guidance. She is old enough to lead a man wherever she wants him to go. You should be proud of her.”

“I am.” said Serena. She then translated my reply to her daughter who reached her arms up to me. I picked her up and she nestled against my shoulder. Then I followed Serena to the room where the Englishwomen were waiting.

Lisa spoke to me. “I’ve sent George off to meet the Colonel. You’ll meet them on the edge of the town but you have one more task before you go. We need to see that Serena’s husband and advisors ARE immobilised – not that I doubt her word but she wants you to be convinced. There’s a small problem though.”

She beckoned me to her and whispered in my ear. “You’re not supposed to be in a zenana. So we’re going to have to smuggle you in and out of the room where the men are kept. How we do that we can’t let the other Englishwomen see, even though they’ve given their word. If they were to see, I think it would be too much to expect!”

“You’ve got me interested. What are you going to do?”

“You’ll find out soon enough. We’ve got to be quick because you have to lead the women and the captives to the Colonel’s column, escorted by Vishaladeva and his men. Their role is being explained to them now. While they’re distracted and still held firmly is our only chance. Come on!”

I followed Lisa and Serena into a small room. On the floor was a portable bed made of rattan. Several saris were on it.

“Strip!” ordered Lisa. She was undressing herself quickly. I shrugged inwardly. Serena had seen all of me only a short time ago.

“Lie down!” was Lisa’s next order. She was being dressed in a dancer’s costume with a face veil.

I lay down on the bed. Lisa and Serena lashed me to the bed with the saris. When they had finished I was mummified and invisible except for my eyes and my tool. That was proudly erect. I grunted through the sari gagging my mouth as Lisa hoisted up her skirts and mounted me.

Serena snapped out an order and the room seemed to fill with women dressed just like Lisa. Some of them grabbed handles on the bed and lifted it with me and Lisa still locked together. The whole party moved through a door along a corridor and into a large room. By turning my head I could see other beds with men similarly pinioned with the exception that each one’s head was concealed. Some of the heads were covered with skirts, some with breasts, and some with hands. My bed was tilted so that I had a clear view of the room. Lisa was held in position so that our link was unstrained. Then we were carried out of the room and back to where we had started.

Serena bent over me. “Satisfied?” she asked, pulling the gag away from my mouth.

“Yes. As far as I could see but Lisa hasn’t satisfied me” I joked.

Lisa’s vagina contracted around me.

“We soon sort that out! Shut him up, Serena!”

Lisa began to contract rhythmically. Serena’s skirt obscured my view and then her yoni caressed my face. As Lisa’s movements aroused me, Serena’s yoni clamped over my nose and mouth. The two women moved together and I erupted in seconds. As soon as I was spent the women climbed off me and started to release me.

“Like it?” asked Lisa.

“Yes!” I replied “Now I can understand how Serena’s husband was trapped. She’s devastating!”

“So am I. She can only have you when I’m around.” replied Lisa.

I looked up at Serena as my bonds finally were withdrawn.

“Serena. Thank you. I will treasure this forever.”

“If we succeed, I’m sure Lisa will let me help you to find happiness again with her” Serena said.

“We’ve got more important things to do at the moment,” said Lisa. “Get dressed quickly.”

I dressed myself and helped Lisa into her dress. When we were presentable we rejoined the other women.

“Blindfolds again,” said Serena.

We were led through another passage and emerged through a shop into the open street. I could smell the spices in the shop and I was fairly certain which one it was, but resolved NOT to try to find it. When our blindfolds were removed we were outside the palace in a side street. Serena’s women surrounded us and in a circle outside them were palace guards armed with ceremonial spears. The Rajah and Ranee were in covered litters supported by bearers.

“Try to keep within the crowd until we’re outside the city,” Serena commanded. “Then Harold can lead us to the Colonel.”

We quickly left the city through side streets. Out in the open a bearer was holding my horse. I mounted and led the large party towards the cantonments. We were barely half a kilometre from the city when George galloped up to us. He swung his horse alongside mine.

“The Colonel’s agreed to your plan. You will have a small escort to the cantonments where the natives will be guarded until the Rajah’s son is captured. The Colonel will storm the palace if necessary …”

Serena strode up to us. “I have instructed one of the guards to show the Colonel a way into the Palace so that he can outflank the rebels. He waits for your orders, George.”

“Thank you, Princess. That will save much bloodshed. I will wait here with him until the Colonel arrives. I hope that your help will be appreciated.” George said.

It didn’t seem long before we met the Colonel’s force. He detached a small squad to escort us. I told him as much as I could and then continued to the cantonment.

George told us later what had happened. The Colonel surrounded the palace with most of his troops facing outwards and small groups facing each entrance. The population seemed welcoming, not hostile. The guard provided by Serena led some of the English troops to the gallery opposite the zenana door. They presented their loaded muskets over the balcony and that was it. No shots were fired. The Rajah’s son surrendered. He and his officers were disarmed and brought back to the cantonment in irons. The zenana ladies were released by some of Serena’s women but told to remain where they were.

At the cantonment the Rajah and Ranee were imprisoned to await their fate. When the Colonel returned with his prisoners he summoned me, George, Lisa and Serena.

“What do I do now?” he asked us. “You four appear to have put down the revolt almost without my help. Thank you, Princess for your warning through Lisa. We had no casualties and the rebels lost only a few men once they realised that they had no chance of breaking in. They kept us penned in for a few hours before they faded away back to the city. We could hunt them down but I’m more interested in getting things back to normal. So, what do I do now?”

Serena and I started to speak together. I stopped.
“After you, Princess.” I said.

“I would like the Rajah, the Ranee, the Rajah’s heir and his wife transferred to my husband’s custody for sentencing” Serena said. “Although the women did not know what was planned, they will have to commit suttee when their husbands die.”

“You intend to execute them?” the Colonel asked.

“Yes. There can be no other penalty for a failed revolt.” said Serena. “If we execute them, your hands are clean. Our people will respect their new rulers for acting in accordance with our ancient laws. You can formally protest, if it suits your purpose, but you could not bring them back to life.”

“That sounds possible. You are assuming that we recognise your husband as the next Rajah.”

“Yes. He was not involved, nor were his officers. None of them supported the revolt. Harold and Lisa can confirm that.”

We nodded.

“I see. There are only two things I would ask before accepting both your proposal and your succession.” said the Colonel.

“What two things?” asked Serena

“First. There must be no public executions. They can cause riots. The executions must be quickly arranged and in private… ”

Serena nodded.

“Second. You, Serena must be the joint ruler with your husband. You must be part of all decisions made.”

Serena looked horrified. “That would be against all custom! Only a man can rule!”

“We English have a Queen. We think that our beloved Queen Victoria is as good a ruler as a King would be. If it is good enough for the most powerful state in the world to be ruled by a woman, why cannot joint rule be acceptable to a small state such as yours? You and I know that you will rule your husband anyway. I would be happier if I could consult directly with you rather than through intermediaries.”

Lisa interrupted (I know she shouldn’t have interrupted the Colonel but Lisa will do anything!) “Serena! It is important to us. We trust you to lead your people. Your husband is not clever enough to do it on his own. You will have to work with the Colonel. I have done my best to be a messenger between the Colonel and the ladies of the court but some things are best sorted out face to face. That is what the Colonel wants. Is there some way it can be done?”

Serena stood silently for a few moments. Then she answered “A Ranee cannot rule. But a Queen can. If he was King and I was Queen instead of Rajah and Ranee that might be acceptable. It is worth a try”

“Congratulations, Queen Serena. I look forward to attending your coronation – once the former rulers have departed this life.” said the Colonel.

“I will arrange that now. If you let me see my husband I will tell him what we will do.”

“That sounds like a Queen talking. Is there anything I can do to help?”

“Not now Colonel, except… Please let my guards take over responsibility for your prisoners. We will leave the cantonment in a few hours and return to the Palace. Some of us may be dead by then but in a covered litter who can tell who is alive and who is dead?”
“Officially I do not want to know what happens. Unofficially I must know. Can Harold and Lisa be witnesses for me?” asked the Colonel.

“Certainly. They will be always welcome as friends.”

“Then I believe we have arranged the future of your state under benign English guidance. We will meet again soon when you become Queen.” The Colonel bowed low to Serena and we left him.

“We must go to my husband and tell him what is agreed and what we have to do,” said Serena.

“That doesn’t sound like a joint ruler!” I protested

Serena laughed “No. But I’m not going to be a joint ruler. I’m going to rule. Your Colonel knew that I would rule my husband anyway. But his idea was right. My people wouldn’t accept me alone. Even a joint ruler will be difficult for them to accept. I had expected to be the power behind the throne and to tell my husband how to rule. This way will be easier for me.”

When we met her husband Serena drew him aside and they had a hurried conversation. Vishaladeva was obviously horrified by some of the one-sided discussion but Serena spoke sharply to him. He wilted visibly and then shrugged his shoulders. Serena beckoned us over.

“My husband has reluctantly agreed to the Colonel’s proposal. We have to settle the fate of the rebels NOW, before we leave the cantonment. I’m sorry that you two have to be witnesses. It may not be pleasant.”

“Rebellion is never pleasant,” I said “Whoever wins the results are usually bloody”

“I hope to reduce the blood letting to a minimum.” Serena said “If possible there will be no more blood at all and only a few deaths”

When we reached the room where the Rajah and Ranee were imprisoned the English guards had been replaced. Serena gave a few crisp orders and we were let into the room. The Rajah and Ranee were handcuffed back to back with a pillar between them. They were released and told to sit on the large bed which was the only furniture in the room. The Rajah’s eldest son and his wife were brought in and sat next to them.

Serena spoke to them. “I am going to speak in English which I know you all understand for the benefit of these two who are here to witness our justice. My husband and I have decided that the Rajah and his heir must die for starting the revolt. Their wives will be expected and required to commit suttee.”

She spoke directly to the Rajah “You can choose how you and your heir are to die but you must be dead within the hour. I would appreciate it if you could die with dignity and in accordance with our traditions.”

The Ranee whispered in the Rajah’s ear. He nodded, whispered to his eldest son and daughter, who also nodded. Then he replied.

“Since I have been overthrown by a woman, aided by Englishwomen, it seems appropriate that I and my eldest son should die by yoni.”

Serena and Vishaladeva seemed shocked. Serena recovered quickly.

“If that is your wish, so shall it be. Your wives shall be your executioners. Do they wish to throw themselves living on to your funeral pyre or do they wish to die now, once they have done their last service for you?

The two women whispered for a few seconds. The Ranee replied.

“We wish to die as soon as we have killed our husbands, in fact before we dismount. We ask that you, Serena, strangle us as soon as our last duty for our husbands is completed.”

The Rajah spoke again “I am sorry, Serena, that I did not recognise the scope of your abilities. Had I done so, either the revolt would have succeeded with your help, or our people would be ruled carefully under English direction. I commend our people to your rule. I know that YOU will rule since your husband is not strong enough to do it. If he had been, either he would have supported me, or else he would have made his opposition clear. He vacillated which is no way to rule. To you alone I entrust the safety and well-being of our people. I am sure you will justify my trust. Now let it be ended. I have spoken.”

The Rajah climbed on to the bed and lay down on it. His son lay beside him. Their wives undressed them slowly then bound each man tightly with their arms lashed to their sides. The Ranee mounted her husband’s erection and slowly, carefully and gently aroused him to a climax. The heir was treated similarly but had not yet climaxed when the Ranee lifted herself off the Rajah’s flaccid tool and on to his chest.

The Ranee took off her scarf, wiped it over her glistening yoni then gagged the Rajah with it. She positioned herself carefully with her yoni covering his mouth and nostrils then locked her legs behind his head, pulling him deep into her. Her muscles strained to hold him there as his forehead turned redder and redder as his breath ran out. His body jerked and juddered but his bonds and gag did not allow him to dislodge her straining grip.

As it became obvious that the Rajah had only a few seconds of life left, Serena positioned herself behind the Ranee, kneeling over the Rajah. Serena looped her scarf loosely around the Ranee’s neck. The three of them held this position like statues while beside them the Rajah’s son and daughter-in-law still coupled.

The Ranee inhaled deeply and shouted in dialect “It is finished!”

As the last word rang out Serena’s hands moved swiftly. I could not see exactly what she did but the crack of the Ranee’s neck breaking was unmistakable. Serena spoke quietly.

“Yes, father and mother, it is finished.” A tear glistened on her cheek. She lifted herself off the bed. She and Vishaladeva lowered the Ranee’s body so that it was lying on the Rajah’s breast.

“Now, sister…” she started to say but her brother-in-law’s wife interrupted.

“I know, sister. It is time. I was prolonging the moment so that the son should not precede his parents into the next existence. c***dren should not die before their parents.”

As she spoke her husband shuddered underneath her. She quickly stuffed her scarf into his gasping mouth and clamped herself on him before he had a chance to draw breath. He died far quicker than his father and before Serena had time to position herself. His wife turned as Serena moved to her.

“Thank you, Serena, for allowing me one last ride. You will rule well until your time comes to meet us again. Now finish it!”

Serena’s scarf whipped out quickly and the neck was cracked before I could see what Serena had done.

Again Serena and her husband placed the bodies together. Both of them were now crying openly. I glanced at Lisa. So was she. Even I couldn’t stop a tear. Whatever their faults, they had died well.

Serena sent her husband out of the room with instructions. As far as I understood he was to send some servants to lay out the bodies and also to have all the rebel officers assembled in one place under guard.

While we were waiting for the servants Lisa asked Serena about “death by yoni”.

“Is death by yoni a normal custom, Serena?”

“No. It is usually done to a man who has been flagrantly unfaithful, to retrieve the wife’s honour. Since she must commit suttee when he dies it is a drastic step for her to take. He doesn’t know that it is to be done so the wife must catch him unawares.

I believe that the Rajah’s father died that way. The rumour is that it was done to him by a dancing girl while he was tied to the gaddi in the Ranee’s room. The then Ranee was too weak physically to do it herself. It didn’t matter who had done it. However the man dies the wife must commit suttee. It was a long time before I was born since this Rajah has ruled for nearly forty years. I think that he – she pointed at the Rajah’s body – arranged for his father to be killed because he was neglecting his duties to the people and becoming cruel and capricious.

If a wife has to kill her husband the normal way is to strangle him as I did for the women. The method is part of a woman’s education in our country. As you saw, it is very quick and there is no time for struggling or resistance. ”

I chipped in “Why is the scarf used in death by yoni?”

“If not, the man may bite the woman. The desire to live is very strong in humans and even a loving husband would bite in his death throes. The scarf prevents him using his teeth. Some women do not use the scarf and stand the pain as a penance for allowing their husbands to stray. Some husbands who die voluntarily by yoni – although I’ve never know of any before these two – are said to ask not to be gagged so that they can express remorse to their wives. I think it would have to be a stupid woman who could trust her husband that far.”

“What happens now?” asked Lisa

“The bodies will be prepared for the funeral pyre at noon tomorrow. The rebel officers will be offered a choice. They are required to attend the funeral under guard. Then they must choose. Either they swear fealty to my husband and I or they must go into exile, never to return. If they choose exile they have two days to leave and will be guarded until they do. They will be escorted to our border.”

“Do you expect many of them to choose exile?” I asked.

“No. They were loyal to the Rajah or his heir. Now they are dead and we rule this country most will wish to serve us. They know that we could be much harsher and execute many of them – but why should we? They didn’t fight us. They fought the English under direction from our rulers. It is fortunate …” Serena winked “…that the Colonel took precautions and no Englishman or woman was killed or seriously injured. The attack on the zenana was unexpected. Those who took part in it will be unpopular with the people for a while. Of course some of them died or were badly injured by you two and George. I think I can count that punishment enough.”

The new King returned followed by a group of servants who set about cleaning the bodies. During the following discussion I watched the servants closely. They seemed to pay particular attention to the men’s faces and necks.

The King explained that he had done as his Queen had ordered. A messenger had been sent to the city to arrange for the funeral pyres to be built and for the coronation to take place tomorrow evening. He had informed the Colonel’s staff and the Colonel would attend.

He then spoke directly to us. “The Colonel sends his compliments to you two. He asks that you join him for dinner as soon as we have left the cantonments. You are of course guests of honour at our coronation.”

I and Lisa thanked him. Serena added “Without you two and the others there would be no coronation. We shall always remember your contribution. Perhaps one day, Harold, you can give a demonstration of pistol shooting. I have never seen such accuracy under such difficult conditions.”

“You saw it!” I exclaimed

“Yes. I saw it. From where you do not need to know. That pistol shot changed the revolt into a failure. The men killed were the fanatics who thought of the attack on the zenana. They were too proud to do it themselves, leaving it to younger men to take the blame. But you blew them up!”

The servants were still washing the late Rajah’s face. I looked too closely so that Serena realised what was puzzling me.

She whispered in my ear, but Lisa could hear too: “Harold. They have to wash carefully because one of the disadvantages of being strangled is that your bladder and bowels empty themselves. The men were bathed with the flow from all three of their wives’ orifices. Their wives had the final word!” She giggled “If they hadn’t been already dead – the men might have been drowned!”

Lisa whispered in my other ear, loudly enough for Serena to hear … “If a Queen keeps whispering in your ear you might die by yoni as well but I won’t feel the need to commit suttee!”

Both of them laughed at my discomfiture. Some women seem to have a callous regard for the decencies. Maybe it’s the mess that c***dren make as babies that makes them so much less squeamish than men.

The rest of the events of that day went well for the new rulers. All the rebel officers pledged fealty to them. The bodies of the former rulers were taken by litter to the city. As they entered the new King and Queen were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd strewing flowers at their feet.

Lisa and I joined the Colonel for dinner. We reported what had happened to the Rajah and his heir. His only comment was “Not something Englishwomen would do!” I wasn’t so sure. Lisa had a glint in her eye.

Lisa and I and a small group of officers attended the funerals. As the women were already dead there were no objections from the missionaries who might have caused trouble about custom of suttee.

That evening Lisa and I attended the coronation as honoured guests. It was an unusual ceremony even for India. The Colonel had sent the Company’s brass band. They played before and after the coronation and provided the fanfares to mark significant moments. I think that the local population found brass band music as incomprehensible as we found their traditional music.

The King and Queen crowned themselves. Serena crowned herself first, then Vishaladeva followed. They then swapped crowns for a few seconds before each crowned the other.

There was a crowd of priests, priestesses and holy men to add sanctity to the occasion. I expected to be more interested in the famous temple dancers but to my disappointment, although their dancing was exquisite, they were all ladies of advanced years!

The Queen addressed the people in their dialect promising all the things that new governments promise. The King’s speech was in different words but the promises were identical. The Colonel spoke in English, pausing for his words to be translated. He welcomed the new rulers as allies of the English and delivered congratulations from Her Majesty Queen Victoria. At least that is what he said. He should have said “on behalf of Her Majesty” since Her Majesty will not know anything about the events for at least three months. Even then I doubt she’d be impressed enough with the doings in such a small part of her world-wide realms to send a personal message to the new rulers!

After the coronation we retired for dinner at the palace. All signs of the devastation caused by the powder barrel had been removed. Apart from a suspicious smell of paint the entrance hall was restored to its previous splendour. Even the zenana door bore its ornate wooden carvings again.

The dinner was less gluttonous than the previous Rajah’s norm but beautifully presented. After the dinner a messages were given to the Colonel, to Lisa and I, asking us to attend the fealty ceremony in the throne room. We accepted.

The King and Queen were sitting on identical chairs, not gaddis. The Colonel was sat on their right side, one step down. Lisa and I were on their left also one step down. I hoped that the ceremony wouldn’t last long because I was wearing my full uniform, cocked hat, sword and all. In the heat of the throne room I was sweating profusely. Lisa was glowing in her largest crinoline and court gown.

The procession of nobles giving fealty seemed endless. One by one they stepped forward, knelt on the lowest step and repeated their oath of fealty before kissing the hands of their King and Queen.

As the line continued to move towards the thrones I amused myself by trying to remember who each noble was, and what I knew about them. Some of the things I knew were unrepeatable in mixed company. Then I saw a face that I had seen only yesterday. I struggled to recall where. Then I realised. He had been the man who had thrown the gunpowder barrel from the balcony into the crowd. Yet here he was about to swear loyalty to the new rulers! I whispered to Lisa. “Watch that man carefully. He was one of the ringleaders yesterday. Have you got your pistol?”

“Yes.” She replied quietly “But I need to be within two metres of him to be sure of hitting him.”

“It may not come to that, but if it does, be ready to protect the King and Queen.”

I stretched as if I was tired and loosened my sword in its scabbard. I hadn’t brought a pistol.

As the man approached I looked at those immediately behind him. One had powder marks on his face presumably from yesterday’s explosion. If there was to be an attack it must be now. I stood up just before the last man withdrew. The King, Queen and Colonel looked at me amazed that I should interrupt the ceremony. I drew my sword and saluted them. Then I swung around and put the point at the man’s throat. If I were wrong I would be in disgrace! But if I was right…

The man fell back revealing that he was clutching a long dagger in his hand. The powder-marked man also pulled out a dagger.

I ran the first man through. The second tried to stab me before I could withdraw my sword but Lisa jabbed her pistol in his side and shot him. Both were dead instantly.

The palace guards rushed towards us with levelled spears. Serena shouted at them. They halted.

I turned back to the King and Queen and saluted again, this time with my sword dripping blood. As I did so, Lisa calmly reloaded her pistol’s discharged chamber. Then we resumed our places, but I kept my sword out and Lisa held her pistol.

The line of noblemen seemed as stunned as everyone else. The guards searched the rest of the line but there were no other weapons found. The bodies were dragged away and the blood quickly wiped from the floor. The ceremony continued without further incident.

At the end of the ceremony Serena had a whispered discussion with her husband. Then she spoke to the assembly again, this time in English.

“I regret that this demonstration of our people’s loyalty should have been interrupted by an unfortunate incident. I thank our two English friends for dealing with it so efficiently. As a token of our thanks for this and other services to us they are appointed as friends of the state with the rank of nobles. They are to be treated as having precedence in this state immediately after the heir to our throne. They will have the right of access to us at any time.”

There was a long silence as the gathering absorbed the enormity of the honour that had been bestowed on us. Then the shouting began. I was very nervous but soon realised that the shouts were congratulations. The shouts changed to cheering that was only ended by the bandmaster’s hurried fanfare to the new nobility.

Then more fanfares were played as the King and Queen withdrew. As soon as they had gone the Colonel hurried across to us.

“Congratulations again to you two! I thought that you had gone made when your drew your sword, Harold. Thank goodness you did. And Lisa … your pistol shot was as effective as Harold’s yesterday. For once we English are popular in this state. I hope it stays that way. You as honoured nobles will have more effect than ever I can.”

We made the deprecating noises of embarrassed heroes. Thankfully we were cut short by the arrival of a messenger commanding us to attend the King and Queen. As we followed the messenger the Colonel gathered the rest of the English people to return to the cantonment.

We were surprised to be met by Queen Serena completely alone.

“My husband is discussing with our officers whether the two assassins were acting alone or as part of a conspiracy. I have left him to do it because the officers will talk more freely to him at this time. They do not know me well enough yet to express themselves freely.” She laughed nervously “They do not know how to deal with a Queen, especially one who killed her mother-in-law and sister-in-law yesterday. I am outside their experience! They will learn in time.

You two have saved us again. The public reward is little enough for your services. The resources of my state are yours to command.”

I spoke for Lisa and myself. “Your Majesty. We do not need a reward. You are our friend. We acted to protect our friends. You protected us yesterday. We protected you today. Between friends there is no need for rewards.” Lisa nodded beside me.
“There is one thing I know that you want” Serena insisted “You want c***dren.”

Lisa and I looked at each other. How could Serena know that? And what could she do about it?

Serena saw our confusion and giggled. “No! I’m not going to give you a couple of native babies!” She seemed to think it highly amusing. I blushed.

“We have some interesting customs and rituals to encourage conception. Do not worry. They are not disgusting or likely to upset you. You may like to try them with amusement. You have nothing to lose except perhaps a couple of hours sleep tonight. If you will stay here tonight the ritual could be completed by morning. If it works you can thank me. If it doesn’t you will recall an interesting experience that was enjoyable.”

Before I could speak Lisa jumped in, replying for both of us. “Thank you, Your Majesty. We accept.”

“Very well. It will be arranged shortly. Now that both of you have addressed me as “Your Majesty” that is enough. You may have to address me and my husband in such terms in public but never again in private. I am Serena. He is Visha. To us you are Harold and Lisa. Agreed?”

We nodded. “Thank you, Serena” I said.

“Now we should go and change into more comfortable clothing. I know yours is still back at the cantonment so you will have to go native tonight. My ladies will find clothing for you.” Serena clapped her hands. A young lady appeared and bowed to Serena, who spoke a few sentences in a dialect I’d never heard. The young lady bowed and left.

Serena led us from the room into a … I’m not sure how to describe it. It wasn’t a bedchamber. It wasn’t a public room. It wasn’t a private room either. It was too large (about 20 metres square) and too ornately furnished. We looked around and marvelled at the erotic bas-reliefs on the walls, the erotic silken hangings, the tented ceiling, the numerous couches and cushions. Serena was amused by our interest and our perplexity.

“You may not believe me, but this room is the entrance hall to a temple. It is also known as the orgy-room! The late Rajah held many parties here to which his official women were NOT invited. Now I think my husband and I will use it for entertaining friends. At present you two are the only ones who fit that description so we have enough space, I think.”

She took us on a tour of the room paying particular attention to the erotic art. I was getting more and more embarrassed until Lisa held my hand and squeezed it. Then Serena held my other hand. The two of them made sure that I inspected everything closely. Some of the positions seemed impossible, but most were interesting variations on a familiar theme. They certainly gave me ideas! Just before my excitement became too obvious the young lady returned followed by six others who were very scantily dressed. Each wore a very thin cotton sari which was translucent and showed that they had nothing but skin underneath. They were carrying clothing.

“Good!” said Serena “Now we can change.”

She pulled me through a curtained archway. Lisa came too, still holding my hand. The six girls followed us. It was a bathroom with a large sunken pool tiled in a brilliant blue. Around it the tiles showed erotic bathing scenes. Before I could protest the young ladies started stripping me. Lisa and Serena were undressing each other and watching me with amusement.

Serena’s response to my protests was “I held you naked in my arms yesterday. Lisa’s seen all of you before. My bath attendants are enjoying themselves. They’ve never bathed an Englishman before and they’re curious. You wouldn’t disappoint them, would you?”

I had little chance of disappointing them. They had stripped me with remarkable speed and efficiency and had bundled me into the pool, following me in. Somehow their saris had been left behind.

Six pairs of hands washed me gently. Then one swam round to my head and poured some liquid on it before washing my hair carefully and thoroughly. While she was busy, one of the others was gently scr****g my skin with a bronze implement. The other four had started washing Lisa and Serena who had entered the water while I was distracted.

When the girl was satisfied with my hair Lisa called me.

“Harold! Come over here please.”

I half-swam, half-waded to where she was sitting on the side of the pool. Her hair was down and was being given the undivided attention of two girls. Her hair was so long that it was fanned out behind her. Even so, Serena’s was longer. If she had been standing it might have reached down to her knees. Both women had beautiful tresses which were being expertly dried.

I climbed out of the pool and sat between Lisa and Serena. The two girls who had been with me started with my hair. Then we all stood up and our bodies were dried and lightly perfumed. That made me glad I was with Lisa. No man could go home to his wife smelling of perfume and expect to survive uns**thed. I certainly couldn’t go into the mess trailing perfume. The more usual male scents there were sweat, horses and cigars. I realised that most Englishwomen I knew had the same scent except for the cigars! Lisa, Jane and their friends were the exceptions.

The girls dressed Serena in a silver sari with a golden border. As she stood there with her hair streaming down her back she looked like a man’s ideal fantasy of a savage Queen. Her hair was being worked back into its normal heavy braid.

Lisa had a bright blue sari with silver stars. It strained at the top inadequately concealing her breasts.

I was dressed in a white cotton loin cloth. It took the girls some time to get it on me as their hands tickled me. I felt more naked wearing it than without it. I felt delicate fingers moving over the scars on my chest as if they were questioning their origin. The large one on my back had special attention. One of the girls spoke deferentially to Serena who replied. The girl winced. She spoke to me: “She wanted to know why such a brave man had a scar on his back when most were in the front where they should be. I told her that it was caused by a bullet going through from the front and blowing your flesh away. She didn’t like the idea of that.”

“Neither did I at the time!” I retorted. “It was a fragment of cannon ball, not a bullet.”

“You must tell me the story of your scars sometime, Harold” Serena said. Lisa looked at me. She wasn’t letting Serena go that far unless she was present. I nodded both to Serena’s spoken request and Lisa’s unspoken one. I might tell them both, but not to Serena alone.

The young ladies had resumed their thin saris. Throughout the bathing I been thinking about Serena’s attendants. I’m not sure how to describe the young ladies who attended Serena. They didn’t behave like servants, certainly not like those of the late Rajah and Ranee. Their servants had gone about in fear of their lives or at least a whipping. These young ladies were deferential to Serena and to us but not subservient. They seemed to have a pride in themselves and the services they performed. They had individuality and I was aware that each one was herself, not just another servant, handmaiden or whatever. Before I had not been conscious of which servants had been in the Rajah’s presence. If a servant drew attention, it was followed by punishment. It was not customary then to thank one of the Rajah’s servants. I felt that with Serena’s it was different. I decided to make an experiment.

“Serena. I would like to thank your young ladies for such an enjoyable bath. They are beautiful, talented and highly skilled. I appreciate their care and courtesy. Please, could you convey my thanks to them since I regret I do not speak their dialect?”

As I spoke I realised I had the six young ladies’ complete attention. Even before Serena replied I knew that they understood English very well!

One of them whispered in Serena’s ear. “Harold, they understand English …”

“I thought they did”

“… but please forget that they do. It is very useful to me that my young ladies have talents that men do not suspect …” I nodded.

“…Their reply is that they knew that you were a brave, courteous and intelligent man. The bravery they know about from the last two days. The courtesy you have just shown. But intelligence, that they have doubts about. What intelligent man praises other women in his wife’s presence?”

Lisa and I laughed heartily. I collected myself before I replied directly to the women.

“My wife is intelligent too. She knows that if I praise other women in her presence it is much safer than if I praise them when she is not there. She knows I appreciate beauty, intelligence and talent in other women. Why should I not? She also knows that I chose her and that I would not leave her for another woman. I would not. I am not so brave that I dare risk her anger.”

That caused a storm of laughter. There was a whisper in Lisa’s ear this time. She looked at me before nodding. The girls huddled together and then I was swamped by them and kissed by each!

The last one spoke for all. “Thank you for your kind words and your wisdom. We had not realised that such understanding between husband and wife could exist. We are pleased to have met you both.” Then they all kissed Lisa.

Serena clapped her hands. “Please prepare the room as we agreed. From now on we will forget that you speak English. Thank you for entertaining my guests so well that you attracted their praise.” The young ladies left, bowing to Serena as they went.

“They are some of my most valuable allies. They have been moving around the palace doing their duties unobtrusively but keeping their ears and eyes open. Not only do they understand English and most of the languages and dialects of the area but they can read and write them!”

Lisa and I were astonished. Women who could read and write even one language were rare in this part of India. Women were considered not worth the cost of education.

Serena continued “That’s how I knew about the attack on the cantonments. The Rajah left a letter lying around. Normally that would be safe since so few people can read but he wasn’t safe with my young ladies as Harold calls them.”

“They are extremely talented.” I said

“Yes they are in more ways than you might suspect from what you have seen of them of far …”

“He’s seen enough of them!” interrupted Lisa

“He’s seen them naked but we don’t have them same attitude to naked skin that you English have. I meant that they have other abilities that you haven’t seen yet.”

Lisa began to look dangerous. Even Serena noticed. She laughed.

“Yes Lisa, they are skilled at seduction but I wouldn’t ask them to do that to a friend. They are the priestesses of this temple. Their leader, Pushpa, who you saw briefly, is the Chief Priestess. All seven will take part in the ceremony being prepared now for you two. They should be ready shortly.”

As if she had heard the young lady who had first brought us in to the orgy room appeared. She bowed to Serena and then to us. We bowed back which seemed to surprise her.

“This is Pushpa. They are ready for us.” Serena said.

We followed Pushpa back into the orgy room. Much of the furnishings had been moved to the walls leaving a large settee facing an open area. Pushpa motioned to us to sit on the settee. Lisa took my right hand, Serena my left, as we sat down. The other six young ladies stood either side of a curtained doorway I hadn’t seen before.

Pushpa began a speech which I couldn’t understand. Serena whispered a translation to us.

“This speech is a formal invocation to the Goddess on your behalf. She is asking for the Goddess to grant c***dren to you two, and is insisting that the grant be made now, not at the Goddess’s convenience. That is a normal request because later in a Goddess’s time scale may be several of our lifetimes. She is saying that you deserve a reward for your recent services to the Goddess’s people, preserving them from needless bloodshed. Now she is chanting the ritual prayers necessary. When she has finished we will go into the temple for you to be introduced to the Goddess. If the Goddess accepts you, the next part of the ritual can proceed. There is some doubt about your acceptance because the Goddess has never met an English couple before and you are non-believers in her sense. The priestess is recounting your services to the state and to me in detail and asking in my name for Her favour. It is just as well you don’t understand her. She is being very explicit about your deeds and your personal beauties! She has even explained about the scar on your back, Harold, and the colour of your skins!”

I nearly spoke but Serena’s hand covered my mouth firmly. “It is not proper for either of you to speak until we have returned here after your introduction.” I nodded and she withdrew her hand.

Pushpa finished and Serena stood up, pulling me to my feet. Lisa followed. Pushpa took Lisa’s other hand and the four of us approached the doorway. Pushpa spoke quickly to Serena and she translated “This time we must continue to hold hands. Pushpa will enter, then Lisa, then Harold and I come last. We leave in the same order. Do not worry. The Goddess is a kind one and even if she refuses to accept you She will not harm you or us.”

Pushpa entered and we followed still holding hands. The temple was one huge room with no roof. It was open to the moonlit sky. The figure of the Goddess was a massive stone statue of a naked woman on all fours with her breasts dangling down. There was a hint of d****ry around the hips but nowhere else. Her head was turned towards us with a faint smile on it.

Pushpa led us towards the head. We bowed. Then Pushpa led us between the breasts which were just above my head. We walked down towards the Goddess’s yoni and as we passed under it and between her legs I felt a gentle spray of cool liquid over my head and shoulders. We continued past her feet then up the other side, round to the Goddess’s face. As we bowed again I thought that the smile was much wider and more sensual. It seemed as if the Goddess was smiling directly at me! It must have been a trick of the moonlight. Pushpa led us out and back into the orgy room.

Serena gasped “I’ve never known such a positive response! Look at him,” she said pointing at my head and shoulders. “He’s soaked!”

Indeed I was. My hair was as wet as it had been coming out the pool and my shoulders and back were dripping as if I’d been caught in a heavy downpour. I was much wetter than my impression of a gentle spray would justify. Serena’s ladies gathered round me in awe. They wiped me dry, putting the damp towels in an exquisitely carved casket.

Pushpa realised that Lisa was damp as well. Her hair glistened and her sari clung to her shoulders. Lisa was dried and her sari exchanged for another, this time a rich patterned one. Her blue sari with stars went in another casket with the towels used to dry her. Serena’s young ladies were chattering excitedly together. Serena clapped her hands for attention.

“Since it’s so important you’d better explain in English.” she told them.

Pushpa started “We’ve never seen such a response from the Goddess. No one has been anointed so profusely. No woman has ever been anointed before, not even me, her High Priestess!”

Another added “You two have been honoured more than any one has ever been. The ritual is certain to succeed. It is also an endorsement of our Queen. Her request on your behalf has been answered so promptly that she and her reign must be blessed.”

I forbore to comment since they were obviously so pleased. I hadn’t felt blessed, just cooled. I was beginning to wonder what the rest of the ritual would entail. Pushpa enlightened me.

“Now we will serve you with the ceremonial wine and dance for you before the final act.”

The ladies brought forward jewel encrusted goblets. Mine was much larger than the others. They knelt before us and presented the goblets with raised hands.

“You … ” Pushpa said to me ” … you must finish all of it. Your wife must drink all of hers. Our Queen can choose how much she drinks. You have no choice!”

I gulped. I had at least two litres to drink. The others had half a litre each. I made a start and found that the wine was as refreshing as spa water with a slight bite to it. I finished my two litres or so in a couple of minutes. That also seemed to amaze the audience who had been watching me intently. Why they should be amazed I couldn’t understand. It had been easier than downing a few bottles of pale ale in the mess.

I turned to Lisa. She also had finished. Serena seemed to be having difficulty with her goblet. With an effort she drained the last. I returned my goblet to the lady still kneeling before me. She seemed in awe of me and nearly dropped it!

Even Pushpa seemed to be – not frightened of me – more considering me as if I was an extremely unusual person with talents she had never before realised.

I didn’t feel as if I’d done something special. All I had done was drink two litres or so of flavoured water. What was special about that?

The other goblets were collected and then all seven left the room. Pushpa returned with a stringed instrument. She sat down with the instrument on her lap and began to play a soft melody. It was a melody, not the usual native sounds. It seemed plaintive, pleading and curiously moving. After a minute or two the music changed to a more insistent tone and the young ladies entered dancing sinously. Their breasts were covered; their midriffs were bare; their feet were bare but they wore flowing red skirts embroidered with gold that shimmered as they moved.

As Pushpa’s playing became more rhythmical their skirts swirled around them expanding like flowers and contracting again as they twisted and turned. Their hands, fingers and arms traced messages that I couldn’t understand or could I? They were mildly erotic, not conveying an invitation from the dancers, more a general suggestion that love was desirable. I was more conscious of Lisa’s hand in mine than I had been. I was holding her hand. Serena’s hand was resting on mine. I was not holding it. She was not holding mine. The message from her was becoming clear. She was supporting me in whatever I wanted to do. From Lisa the message was much clearer. She wanted our c***d.

Only afterwards did I wonder how I received their messages. Lisa, Serena, Pushpa and the dancers were all communicating clearly to me yet not a word was spoken. From all of them came love and respect that I felt was undeserved yet freely given.

The music and the dancing gradually became a more intense sensation. I felt the music as part of my being. Each dancer’s movements seemed as if they were pressed against my body yet I knew I was sitting here and they – they were dancing over there, in front of me. Slowly, slowly my hold on reality slid away. The dancers WERE around me, even inside me, above me, below me. I was lost in swirling bodies and clinging arms.

To clear my head I turned slightly towards Lisa and found that she’d become a dancer too. She wrapped her arms around me and her hair whipped across my face as she danced with me. Serena was there as well. She and Lisa danced together with me between them. They grew larger and larger until their breasts were at my face level, fascinating me with their movement. Their breasts moved upwards and their navels danced before my eyes. The last I remember is the sensation of Lisa and Serena’s red skirts slithering around my face … Even as I lost consciousness I knew that Lisa and Serena weren’t wearing red …

The next events I was aware of seemed part of a d**g-induced dream. Perhaps they were. I’ll never know.

I came to, lying on a soft mattress with the Goddess bending over me. She was the size of Her statue. Her breasts were nearly touching my face and I reached up a hand to feel their texture. I knew that they should be stone but they weren’t. They were warm soft flesh! I withdrew my hand quickly as if I’d been burned. Then I told myself that I wasn’t afraid of a Goddess made flesh, even one of that size. I caressed the breast closest to my face. It responded to my touch and moved closer. I thought I heard a faint sigh of pleasure. I stroked the breast with both hands and was rewarded by an erect nipple the size of a small fist!
Goddess or woman, reality or fantasy, I knew what to do with an erect nipple. I reached up and covered it with my mouth. Despite its size it didn’t seem to stretch my mouth, in fact more of the breast entered with it. I rolled my tongue around it, nibbled at it gently with my teeth and then sucked.

Then I was convinced that this was no dream! As I sucked warm milk began to flow from the aureole. I drank all that came and the breast moved further in. The flesh was becoming warmer and I could feel the pulse of the woman feeding me. Even her heartbeat filled my hearing. A hand cupped the back of my head and two fingers eased the breast out of my mouth before it was replaced by the other. I licked, nibbled and sucked again. This time I was held in place by the hand as the milk flowed down my throat.

At last the breast withdrew and I was moved towards the face. It was the face of the Goddess, this time smiling broadly. Her lips kissed me tenderly. This time they felt Goddess-sized. The kiss covered most of me. She held me up in her hand and sat back on her heels. Despite the height from the ground I felt no fear. Holding me carefully, she peeled off my loin cloth.

She produced a blue sari marked with stars just like the one Lisa had been wearing at first. Against her hand it looked as if it had been made for a doll. She wrapped me tightly in it until I was a swathed bundle with my head protruding. She kissed me again.

The next experience seems incredible even as a dream. She lifted me up to her eyes, smiled at me, then moved me down between her legs. Her yoni opened and she thrust me inside!

The sudden darkness startled me but the warm embrace calmed me. I was immersed in warm wet flesh and felt surrounded by love. Her muscles contracted around me and released in a definitely increasing slow crescendo. My senses reeled with the impact of an overwhelming passion. I was loved, protected, yet used. I could breathe, and all my senses were working at a peak. It was bliss!

I could not bear such ectasy for long and that was the last I remember. However long I live I can never forget the effect of a Goddess’s love-making. It is not meant for humans to bear.

*****

I came to, lying across Lisa’s lap. We were underneath the Goddess’s yoni surrounded by the Goddess’s priestesses. Lisa was stroking my forehead. Serena was stroking my hair. I looked down. I was still tightly wrapped in that blue starry sari. It and I were soaking wet and liquid was dripping on to the floor.

Lisa and Serena gently unwrapped me and they carried me through to the orgy room. I was dried off again and yet another loincloth was put on. I was still dazed but Serena asked me what had happened. I wasn’t sure that I should answer. I asked Pushpa whether I could tell of my experiences with the Goddess.

“Yes” she replied “You must. We know what we saw. We need to know what you experienced. It is important for your future; for your wife, for Queen Serena and the state. And I and the priestesses are curious. Nothing like you has ever happened before.”

Slowly, reluctantly, I told what I had experienced. They didn’t seem surprised. None of them! Even so the priestesses’ eyes opened wide with wonder.

When I had finished Serena spoke “We saw it all as you described. The Goddess came to life, breast-fed you, kissed you, and then used you as a love object. Nothing like that has been known before. The most that had happened had been the impression of a wider smile on the Goddess’s face. We are all stunned.”

Pushpa added “You have been honoured beyond all men. Now we are jealous of your wife.”

I protested “I’m just an ordinary Englishman …”

“If you are ordinary … then I’m French!” said Serena.

“I thought you were something special, but I didn’t expect a stone statue to agree,” said Lisa.

I remember little of the rest of that night except that Lisa and I were left alone and we made love several times. The last time it was getting slightly chilly so Lisa covered our nakedness in her discarded sari. I fell asleep with it wrapped around us.

***** *****

I woke up tightly wrapped in a sari. Lisa was beside me propped up on one elbow. She smiled at me.

“How are you feeling now?” she asked.

“Great!” I replied “Ready for anything.”

“I must have been dreaming … ” I began ” … it was incredibly real though … and nice.” I felt that nice was inadequate for the intense experiences I’d been through.

“Was I in your dream?” Lisa asked.

“Yes. You were the most important person in it. Serena was important of course …”

“That was no dream, Harold. I’d better get your clothes. Then you can tell me all about it.” Lisa stood up and left. I tried to sit up and realised that I’d been too efficiently wrapped. Apart from my head I couldn’t move at all. It felt like Lisa’s work.

When she returned she brought our English clothes. They had been washed and ironed overnight. Lisa confirmed that we had experienced the Goddess.

“Do you think The Goddess help us to have c***dren?” I asked.

“Yes. She honoured us far more than anyone has been honoured before. Pushpa isn’t sure whether we should be treated as honoured nobles or demi-gods. You, Harold, are considered The Goddess’ consort on Earth. Pushpa and her young ladies are almost frightened of you. But c***dren? I think The Goddess would expect us to do something to help ourselves.”

“I can’t do anything while I’m wrapped like a mummy, Lisa. If you unwrap me perhaps we can make you the mummy.”

“You’re getting the right idea. Hold on a second …” she unwrapped me and starting stroking my back as my muscles regained usefulness.

We dressed, and had a light breakfast before returning to the cantonments. The rest of the day was busy for both of us.

But that night we practised making babies …

THE END