Beauty's Release (Page 47)

Beauty’s Release (Sleeping Beauty #3)(47)
Author: Anne Rice

"When are those tears going to stop?" he said as he kissed my ear. "Chew hard on the bit when you cry. Chew hard.

Doesn’t that feel good, the soft leather in your teeth? Ponies like it."

It did feel good. He was right. It helped to chew on it, to work it between my jaws, the stiff roll of leather tasting good and feeling strong enough to take the clamping down, the chewing.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him polishing Tristan, thinking, "Any moment we will be out on the road; we will be marching and hundreds will see us–if they bother to look up, bother to take notice."

Gareth turned to me again. A small loop of black leather was fixed just under the tip of my c**k and this was adorned with a small bell that gave a low, brassy jangling noise with every movement. Unendurably degrading. Such a little thing.

Memories of the exquisite adornments in the Sultan’s world inundated me–jewels, gold, the multicolored carpets strewn on the soft, green, garden grass, the fine leather manacles–and the tears streamed down my face, but it was not that I wanted to be there! It was only that the dramatic change intensified everything!

Tristan, too, was being made to wear the bell, and every movement of our cocks brought some appalling sound from the things. And we would become accustomed to all this, I knew. In a month, it would seem natural!

I watched Gareth take from a hook on the wail a long-handled thrash I’d never seen before. It was a bundle of stiff but flexible leather strips, a sort of cat-o’-nine-tails, and with this he thrashed both of us soundly.

It did not hurt like the wallop of the strap, but the strips were heavy and they covered all of the flesh in each sweeping blow easily. Almost caressing they were, enveloping the naked skin in countless stings and prickles and scratches.

Gareth took our reins again and marched us to the gate. My heart came up in my mouth. I looked out over the broad road to the far wall of the village. On the top of the wall, the soldiers passed back and forth lazily, were silhouettes against the sunny sky. One of them stopped and waved to Gareth, and Gareth waved back. A carriage appeared to the south, and it came on fast, pulled by eight human steeds, all harnessed and bitted as we were. I stared at it, stupefied.

"Do you see that?" Gareth asked. I gave as vigorous a nod as I could. "Now remember, as you march, that that is what you look like. And you belong to these who see you. Step high, step proud. I can forgive some faults, but lack of spirit isn’t one of them."

Two more coaches went thundering past, slaves prancing, horseshoes ringing on the stones, leaving me all the more breathless, petrified.

For a year we would do this, this would be our lives. And, within seconds, the first excruciating test would begin in earnest. My tears poured down, as freely as ever, but I swallowed the sobs, chewing on the leather bit, liking the feel of it as Gareth said I would, and when I flexed my muscles I liked the pull of the harness, the knowledge that I was bound too well for rebellion to make much difference.

In moments, the Mayor’s cart appeared, lumbering up to the gate and blocking everything beyond it. It was piled with linens, furniture, other merchandise, apparently to be taken out to the manor house from the market. And other stable boys quickly unharnessed the six dusty and windblown pony slaves who had been pulling it. Four fresh ponies were driven out from the stables and harnessed in the front places as we waited.

I wondered if I had ever known such tension, such a feeling of dread and weakness. Of course I had a thousand times, but what did it matter? The past did not come to my aid. I was on the cutting edge of the present. Gareth’s hand closed on my shoulder. The other stable boys moved in to help. And Tristan and I were ushered into place behind the first two pairs of steeds rather roughly.

I felt straps looped under and over my bound arms and through the ring attached to the phallus. The reins were lifted behind me.

And, before I could resign myself, or prepare my spirit for it, the reins and harness were pulled, the phallus lifting me off my feet, and the team was suddenly galloping.

Not a moment to beg for mercy, for time, for some last touch of comfort from Gareth. No. We were lifting our knees, moving fast on the cobblestones of the road, passing into the stream of traffic that we had studied in mingled apprehension and horror.

And I realized in these harrowing moments that the harness and bit, the boots and the phallus, were unlike any devices to which I’d ever been subjected. They had a clear and useful purpose! They weren’t merely to torture us, humiliate us, make us malleable for the amusement of others. They were for the simple and efficient pulling of this cart along the road. We were, as the Queen had said, workhorses.

Was it less debasing or more so, that we had been so cleverly put to work, our tendencies as slaves so expertly channeled? I didn’t know. I knew only, as we pounded suddenly into the middle of the road, that I was drenched in shame, each marching step intensifying it, and yet I felt as I always did at the core of punishment: the coming of a tranquility, a quiet place in the very center of frenzy, in which I could surrender all the parts of my being.

The driver’s strap licked down with a loud popping noise at my legs. The sight of the ponies in front of me stunned me. The bushy black tails swayed and danced in their reddened rumps. Their legs pumped at the ground, their hair shimmered against their shoulders.

And we made the same picture, except that the driver’s long strap smacked us hard over and over again. And it wasn’t the maddening little sting of the Sultan’s thongs. It was a good smack each time the leather whipped us. And down the road we went in a loud clatter of horseshoes, the sky shining overhead as it had done on a thousand warm summer days, other carriages passing us.

I can’t say the country road was easier than the village road. If anything, there was more traffic. Slaves at work in the fields, small carts rattling by, a string of slaves bound to a fence, their bottoms being soundly whipped by an angry Master.

And when we pulled into the farm road, our brief rest in harness was hardly an escape from our new station. The naked and dusty farm slaves pushed indifferently past us, unloading the cart, then piling it high with fruit and vegetables for market. At the kitchen door, a scullery maid watched us idly.

The experienced ponies pawed the ground with their horseshoe boots; they shook their heads now and then when the flies came near; they stretched their muscles as though loving their own nakedness.

But Tristan and I were rather still, and it seemed each tiny variation of the country scene took more of the mental skin off me, deepening the sense of my lowliness. Even the geese pecking near our feet seemed part of a world that had condemned us to be rude beasts and would keep us there.