At first glance, she appeared to be about twenty. At second glance, maybe twenty-five. The more you looked, the less able you were to decide. But one thing you could be sure of - she was completely feminine, feminine in the old-fashioned sense of the word, a woman who was glad to be a woman, and to make the most of all those things that set her apart from a man.
You could never picture her in a sloppy sweater and a pair of blue jeans. This girl would always be dressed in the most feminine of garments, or if she did wear something masculine, like a pair of slacks, she would, by her very womanliness, make them look ultra feminine.
These were my thoughts as I settled myself in an aisle seat and glanced at my lovely neighbour. We were both attending one of New York's hit straight comedies, and seats were so hard to get that I counted myself lucky in having found a single.
There were still a few minutes before the curtain went up on the first act, and I filled in most of the time by taking as much stock of my neighbour as I could without being too obvious about it. She knew what I was up to, and did not seem upset about it. But then, she was well worth looking at.
About medium height, very slim in the waist, with a very full bust, which she carried delightfully high; midnight black hair, cut short, and dressed in a curling mass of ringlets all over her head. Her face, while pretty to begin with, was made positively striking by her very elaborate makeup.
She looked almost as though she could have been up on the stge herself. Her skin was made up so pale as to be almost white, against which her brilliant red lipstick, outlining a very pretty wide mouth, and her green eyes, dramatically accented with heavy green eye-shadow, black, curling artificial lashes, and high arching, painted black eyebrows.
Her costume was conservative, and all the most striking by reason of its very conservatism. She was clothed in clinging black satin, from a high, close-fitting collar, right down to a rather full, floor-length skirt. While it was in no sense tight, the shining black material was so subtly draped that it showed the lovely figure beneath it very clearly. The long sleeves were full to the elbow and then fitted snugly down to the wrists, where they gave way to obviously extremely tight black kid gloves. Long gold and ruby drop earrings, a close fitting necklace of the same design, and a single gold ring, worn outside her right glove, completed the effect.
Very striking she was, too, and I was by no means the only one looking at her. Something else that intrigued me was the way she sat. She held herself very upright, hands in her lap, knees modestly together, and, save for the occasional movements of her head and eyes, she sat as still as a statue.
She did not seem to be with the party of four next to her, and so I assumed she was alone, and began thinking furiously of ways to make her acquaintance. She certainly wasn't the type to whom you simply said, "Hey, how about a drink after the show?" The approach had to be subtler than that.
Suddenly I had an idea. I have always had some skill with a pencil, so, making sure that she could not see exactly what I was doing, I began sketching her boots on the margin of my program.
In a few moments I paused thoughtfully. To my surprise she leaned toward me and murmured,
"May I see it?"
"See what?" I asked, in feigned astonishment.
"The picture of me."
"How do you know it's of you?"
"If it isn't, I've been wasting a lot of time posing," she dimpled.
Naturally, I handed it over. I flatter myself that it was good too, save that it was not finished.
"May I do that part?" she asked. "I draw a little, too."
"Why sure," I answered eagerly, handing over the pencil.
She added some deft strokes, though I could see that the tightness of her gloves made it quite hard to hold the pencil.
"Oops! 'fraid I've dropped your pencil."
"I'll get it," I said, diving down for it.
"It's right around my feet somewhere," she said, raising her long skirt helpfully.
"See anything?" she asked.
"Er-yes. A good deal," I floundered, then added, hopefully, "Not quite enough, though."
Obligingly, the concealing skirt was raised several inches higher.
"Oh, much better," I assured her. I had already snared the pencil, but I saw no reason to cut short this lovely display.
"It's a good thing you could get that pencil, I couldn't lean down that far."
"Why not?" I asked, with a sudden feeling of excitement.
"You think of the simplest, and oldest-fashioned reason, and you'll be right," she assured me.
Suddenly the reason for her very upright carriage, slim waist and high bust became clear.
"As stiff as that, eh?" I murmured, careful to keep my voice down.
"Even stiffer," she returned in an equally guarded tone. "My spine might just as well be made of steel. Does that interest you especially?"
"You're darn right it does." I crammed as much meaning into my answer as I could.
By this time the curtain was going up again, so we had to give our attention to the play. The high point of this act, and the real reason I had come at all, was a kidnapping scene. The action of this part of the show took place in a nightclub, run, naturally, by gangsters. The heroine, the heiress to a large fortune, naturally, was working there, for some typical comedy reason, as a cigarette girl. The chief gangster's girl was also working at the club in the same capacity.
The chief gangster, as you would expect, falls heavily for the heroine, and decides her money would come in handy, too. So her lures her into his office, ties her hands behind her, gags her with a knotted handkerchief, and, to prevent her from seeing where he is going to take her, he pulls a black sack over her head and down to her hips. He then gets a phone call, and has to leave.
With her pretty legs, in the mesh stockings of her calling, being all of her that was showing, I thought the heroine looked most attractive.
Suddenly the hero, who has been working at the club as a bartender, appears and frees the heroine, explaining that he sent the fake phone call.
Her and heroine are just about to leave when the other girl busts in, looking for her gangster-boyfriend. With one accord, hero and heroine jump on her, tie and gag her in the same way that the heroine had been treated, pull the sack down over her head and body in the same way and leave.
Gangster's moll does some very pretty struggling and squirming, trying to escape, and also showing her very pretty legs. Gangster returns, breathing threats against whoever sent the phone call. He begins to tell the helpless occupant of the bag, whom he naturally assumes is still the heroine, just how he proposes to treat her, up at his little hide-away in the country. Much to his surprise, the legs show every indication of liking the things he suggests. (Of course, Moll has been trying to get him to do these things to her for years.) Considering the actress had only her legs with which to express emotion, she did an amazing job. The more he threatened, the more she strutted, and posed, and expressed pleasure. At first, he was flattered, and began thinking he might have considerable appeal after all. So he begins embroidering his threats, and her legs begin to show a series of terrific bumps and grinds.
That tears it. Gangster realises that the heroine couldn't know how to do a bump or grind, but his girl had been in burlesque for years. To make sure, he tears the sack off the girl, sees who it is and storms out, saying, "Even without the sack, you're still an old bag!" This throws the silent and helpless girl into a perfect transport of rage. Fruitlessly she tries to open the door, but can't do it. She puts her high heel through the window with the idea of calling for help, but can't make a sound; finally she goes to the phone, knocks the instrument off the cradle, and as the curtain comes down, we see her trying to dial for help with her nose.
The theatre then rocked with laughter and applause.
As the house lights came up, I turned to my companion and remarked, "I thought that was terrific, didn't you?"
"It was pretty funny, alright, but I would have liked it better if that had been a real gag," she answered.
"What do you say we go over to the bar and have a drink, instead of sitting in this hot theatre?" I asked.
She made me very happy by agreeing.
The waiter captain at the bar knows me, but he knew my companion even better.
"Good evening, Mrs. Roberts," he said, bowing. Then he led her to a booth; I followed along behind, feeling considerably dashed by the knowledge that she was married. But then I cheered up. Maybe she had been divorced.
As we sat down, I said, "So you're Mrs. Roberts?"
"That's right. Mrs. Richard Roberts, happily married and the mother of a daughter."
"Is that right?" I asked.
She started talking about her husband.
"My husband insists on high heels for my carriage, corsets for my figure, bondage to make me helpless, and a gag to assure that silence which is a guarantee of assent."
"How about your daughter? Is she being brought up the same way?"
"Being brought up? She won't have it any other way. At times she insists on such severe treatment that we're afraid she will do herself permanent injury. But she just laughs, or would, if she could make a sound, and wants her gag and bonds pulled tighter."
"She sounds like a thoroughly delightful girl," I said, wistfully.
"Oh, she is, she just lives for bondage and figure training."
She paused and I waited. This was the moment.
"Would you like to meet her?" asked my pretty companion.
Restraining a strong, but I think natural, desire to yell "Yes!" at the top of my voice, I answered, "If she's anything like you, I'd be delighted."
"Well, I suggest we finish our drinks and then go home."
"Sounds like an excellent idea."
For her pat she told me her name was Victoria, Vicki for short. Her daughter was Nicole, or Nicki. Her husband, Dick, who ran a brokerage house, was away for a couple of days on business; that was why she had come to the theatre alone.
We were soon in a cab heading for an address uptown.
When we arrived at the address Vicki had given me, I was impressed to see it was a private house, rather than an apartment.
"I don't know what your daughter may look like, but you look utterly charming. I've never seen such a figure-that tiny waist and full bust."
"Oh, this figure?" she answered me in an oddly detached tone. "This is just the figure I wear in public-can't stop traffic, you know. But wait till we get inside."
"Would you unlock the door, please? My gloves are so tight that it's very difficult for me. Use the big fat key."
I soon had the door swinging open and she stepped inside. I followed. I heard a pleasant, slightly French accented voice begin speaking as I followed her in.
"Madame is back so soon, surely, the play cannot be over? But of course not; madame didn't stay beyond the second act, that is when the interest ceases."
"Fifi, this is a new friend of mine. You may be seeing a good deal of him. His name is Mr. Walk."
Fifi looked at me, giving me a warm, inviting smile. Meanwhile, I was looking at her, well, maybe staring was a better word.
Believe me, this Fifi was worth a long stare any day. Actually about medium height, she appeared to be tall, by reason of the slim six-inch heels on her pretty ankle-strap sandals, of black patent leather, shackled at wrists and ankles with dainty cuffs and chains.
"Show Mr. Ted into the living room, Fifi. Then come upstairs and help me. I'm going to slip into something more comfortable."
Fifi watched her mount the stairs to where they turned at a landing, then she turned to me and breathed, "Madame is so lovely. But then, Mamselle Nicki is lovely, too . . .
Then she waited.
"You're lovely, too, Fifi," I assured her.
"Thank you, monsieur, I was beginning to think you would not say it."
She opened the door with a grand gesture, ushered me through.
"This is the living room, monsieur," she informed me.
She was interrupted by Nicki's voice, calling from above.
"Fifi! Stop flirting, come up here and tend to your job!"
Left alone, I turned and inspected the living room for the first time. Money, and plenty of it, was obvious in the furnishings. But it was money controlled by quiet good taste. One of the most striking features of the room was the number of photographs. Some were hung on the walls, some were placed on the tables and occasional pieces.
One picture in particular caught my eye; at first I thought it was an oil painting in tones of sepia, in a very low key. It was just a girl's head, in an old-fashioned travelling hood, against a dark background. As I looked more closely, I saw that the girl was Vicki, or somebody that looked very like her. And the pose was modelled on the famous sequence in "Jamaica Inn," and the subject was gagged, although the fact was not too obvious at first because of the shadow that the cloak cast on the face. Unlike Maureen O'Hara, in the original, this girl was really gagged. Her mouth was almost wide open, and very tightly packed with a large pad of cloth, while the band that crossed the face and circled the head, keeping the pad in place, went between the parted teeth, and was obviously pulled very taut. The subject's wide open eyes, with a tear trembling in the corner of one, looked at the observer with a mixture of fright and desire that was extremely interesting.
Another photograph nearby was just a pair of bound hands. Clearly, they were crossed and bound behind the owner's back; they were tightly gloved in glistening black kid, which contrasted very sharply with the almost white cord that imprisoned them. The cord, by the way, it sank into the flesh, was drawn very tightly. There was a tremendous sense of tension in the rigidly held, almost claw-like fingers.
Over the rather modern looking fireplace was a very large photographic enlargement, done in the manner of the time-honoured family portrait. At first glance it was exactly like hundreds of other family works. The subject, who was presumably Vicki, was seated stiffly upright, in a rather ornate straight chair, the figure three-quarters to the camera, the face looking straight at the viewer. She wore a light coloured evening dress and appeared to be so tiny in the waist and so full in the bust that it seemed obvious that a retoucher had been at work.
But as you looked more closely, several things became apparent. To start with, Vicki's arms were drawn over the back of the chair, and seemed to be secured behind her back in some manner; so far were they drawn back, in fact that the elbows must have been very close together, or actually in contact.
That accounted, at least in part, for the stiffness of the pose and the way the high, huge bust was thrust forward. The evening gown was transparent, allowing the figure to show through in pretty semi-visibility. It also showed that the legs were tightly laced into thigh-high boots carrying heels at least seven inches high. Further, the pretty ankles were strapped together and loops ran from the ankle bondage to each of the front legs of the chair.
But it was the face that worried me most. Partly, around the eyes and upper part of the face, it looked exactly like Vicki; but the lower part of the face, from the nose down, did not. It looked rather stiff, somehow, with rather too much distance from nose to chin, and a pair of flat-looking, unnatural lips. They seemed painted on. Then I got it. Vicki was wearing a concealed gag. The upper part of her face was free, but her mouth was apparently packed with a pad that held her jaws about an inch apart. Then, from the root of the nose to the base of the chin her face was smoothly covered with something concealed, and sealed the mouth. It seemed to be smoothed well out onto each cheek, and may have gone all around the head; it was so skilfully done that one could not tell from the picture. Finally, a pair of lips was painted in the proper position.
All in all, it was a picture to delight a bondage-lover's heart.