Edward Lane’s Argosy Chapter One: The Blind Lady Of Tudley House

by Ian Ironwood
Chapter One: The Blind Lady Of Tudley House

Edward did not like the looks of the old country manor, no matter which angle he saw it. It was dark and dreary, and it had been years—decades!—since anyone had maintained the place. A Tudor style, two-story affair, the decrepit pile of bricks was covered in vines and dirt. The lawn had not been tended, the windows were caked with coal soot from the Bloomfeld plant a mile away, and the once-stately slate roof looked like the hide of a dragon after a particularly rowdy fight with a vengeful knight. There was an air of misfortune and misery that hung over the place, as if great misdeeds and missed opportunities had accumulated over the years in layers as thick as the dust.

     Edward should have had a home like this himself, he thought with a sigh. Only not so dreary. His college friends, the cream of the realm’s aristocracy, had such places to spare: the accumulated inheritance of generations. This home could have been magnificent under his care, he knew, a worthy estate for a country gentleman or industrious peer. It was precisely the sort of thing he aspired to—had aspired to for years, actually. Only Edward Lane was without inheritance of any significance.

     That wasn’t quite true—his father had been a Brigadier in the Lancers, a career military man furthering the Empire in distant lands. Edward had only met the man three times in childhood, when he was home on leave and condescended to visit his wife and children. The last time Edward had been twelve years old, and had been very impressed with the gentleman, his uniform, his thick mustache and his commanding manner. He had seemed invulnerable, eternal. Then he had returned to foreign parts for the final time, succumbing to some tropical disease when Edward was fifteen, leaving a tiny pension for his mother and no sort of inheritance for his children. His salary as Brigadier wasn’t extravagant, but it was sufficient to send his only son to a decent school, and one of his leftenants overseas, a prosperous aristocrat whose life his father had saved, had generously ensured that Edward receive a decent education by getting him into college and paying him a small stipend until he earned his letters.

     There are limits to such generosity, though, and upon graduation Edward found himself without a home (his mother had died, his sisters had married), without money, without title, and without prospects. Having become accustomed to the life of the aristocracy, he had clung to the coattails of his college friends for a few years, pretending to an affluence he did not have, before he decided to take up a trade. And while he was intelligent enough to take the bar, canny enough to con himself a commission in the Army, and witty enough to continue sponging off of his college friends indefinitely, he was too lazy or proud to do any of these things. So he had condescended to take up a trade: Art thief.

     He was well-prepared for his new profession, having had a love of great art and jewelry since he’d been exposed to it. He was also adept at a number of subjects that are not generally taught in the finer colleges, such as picking locks and pockets, dissembling around suspicious servants, and lying to the face of police detectives, all thanks to the tuition of his mother’s half-brother, a Celtic n’er-do-well named Uncle Pete. Pete had occasionally arrived at their house unexpectedly, stayed for an unspecified duration, and vanished without explanation.

     But when he did linger for more than a day or so, he doted on his nieces and nephews. From the first time Pete had picked his pockets at nine, Edward had been fascinated with such sleight-of-hand and demanded to learn how it was done. Pete had been tickled to have such an apt pupil, and thereafter he would impart some bit of underworld knowledge to his beloved nephew. It had made him quite a name in school. He had become known as “Eddie The Dodger” for the adept way he seemed to be able to acquire things, from examination answers to the odd wallet. Always quick with a joke or a smoke, Edward had used his petty notoriety to insert himself into a social group far above his means—and he had Uncle Pete to thank for it.

     Edward had a touch of the man’s abhorrence to hard work, but didn’t share his penchant for gambling, women and drink, which meant that he retained far more of his ill-gotten gains than his uncle ever had. But when Edward had confided his despair at having any prospects to the man the last time he saw him, Pete had taken him on a seven-house burglary spree before sitting him down with a mutual friend, a squint-eyed fence named Lyle. Lyle had a better appreciation for Edward’s potential than Pete, recognizing his education and social contacts gave him access to great troves of treasure. So he embarked on his career that very day, and hadn’t looked back since.

     The key to his success for the last three years had been his patience and willingness to acquire lesser pieces from less well-guarded premises, avoiding risky situations at all costs. The result had been a string of unconnected robberies of low stature. His biggest take had been the reason he was now in the countryside: a magnificent antique gilded jewelry box belonging to the mother of one of his old classmates. It had been worth more than all of the junk jewelry within it, some three hundred pounds, but some pieces of sentimental value had caused the wealthy matron to pursue the theft with all the powers at her disposal. That made the city too uncomfortable, and so Edward had decided to pursue a few scant leads in the countryside. At the top of the list was this Tudor manor: Tudley House.

     He had no idea who the original Tudley had been, nor much about the current owner, one Lord Trey, a distinguished gentleman who spent most of his time abroad pursuing his varied interests—and a lot of native womanhood, by all accounts. He hadn’t been in the realm, much less at Tudley House, in more than four years. But his sources had mentioned the trove inside as being right up his alley. Odds and ends from Lord Trey’s adventures, some original Tudor-era artwork (which was a long way from Edward’s tastes in art, but no matter), and some even earlier pieces the distinguished old family had collected. Tudley House may have been a mausoleum, but it was one stuffed to the rafters with loot.

     Edward had taken the train to Bloomfeld—his resources did not permit a more stately and expensive airship, and the truth was Bloomfeld had no proper tower for one— and a room at the village inn for a few days, indulging in the inexpensive but comfortable digs and visiting a few friends in the area. It gave him a solid reason for being this far from his normal haunts, and a nascent interest in birding had made a tromp through the backcountry behind the manor a reasonable thing. Slipping unnoticed through the foliage that afternoon had been simple. The three hours of clandestine surveillance had been boring but rewarding for all of that. A caretaker seemed to live in the carriage house, and a maid left for the village just after dusk, but beyond that there didn’t seem to be anyone about Tudley House this fine autumn evening.

     He waited a further two hours past dusk before he made his way to the back kitchen door. He found it pleasantly unlocked, although the hinges were in deplorable state, and so he stopped to thoughtfully oil them to silence before proceeding. The dark stone rooms of the pantry and kitchen smelled of stale flour and moldy cheese, and a careful hand on the stove and a glance at the rubbish bin told him that the maid had cooked at least two sparse meals today.

     Satisfied, he climbed the narrow stairs up to the buttery, stopping to sneer at the poor vintages stored therein (but making an exception for an unexpected bottle of Port that he consigned to his bag for celebration later) before making his way out to the front of the house. He moved carefully and quietly, cursing the squeaking floorboards in his mind as they betrayed him. Still, he heard nothing else in response, and proceeded more boldly forward to the parlor where he expected to begin his spree. The big wooden double doors seemed more intimidating than inviting, but he soldiered on, turning the tarnished brass handle with a decisive click.

     “Hullo!” came a voice in the darkness, making him nearly jump out of his skin. His heart began beating furiously. “Is anyone about?” The voice was female, though he couldn’t determine the age or class.

     “I . . . It’s just . . . me,” he finally choked out, his throat dry. He hadn’t seen any signs of life within, but unless the woman was a ghost—which he didn’t believe in, despite the current fad for such things—he was nicked. As Uncle Pete said, a swift tongue can get you out of more dodges than swift feet. “Where are you?” he asked, putting on his best confused aristocratic idiot expression.
     “I’m here, in the chair,” the voice said, a touch of gravel in it. “Come join me.”

     “It’s . . . well, is there a lamp?”
     “I wouldn’t know,” the voice said, bemused. “And it would do me no good if there was. I am blind.”

     “I . . .” Edward said, his voice in his throat. Perhaps he wasn’t nicked after all! Thinking quickly, he struck a Lucifer from his pocket, splashing the barest bit of light into the room—and causing a cascade of macabre shadows to rush forth. He thought he glimpsed the woman’s shape in the gloom, slumped in a great over-stuffed chair next to the fireplace, where the tiniest of embers glowed. But more importantly he saw a candlestick on the mantle. The Lucifer went out, burning his fingers, before he gained it, but he had another, and in a moment there was enough light to see, dimly. He found three more candles and lit them, and the light was almost passable. “That’s better,” he sighed. “I’m afraid I’m no fan of the darkness.”

     “Either am I,” the woman quipped, drolly, and then added the briefest of laughs. “Now who are you?”

     “I? I’m nobody. Edward, Edward Lane,” he explained, one of the prefabricated explanations he’d prepared falling out of his mouth like the honest truth. “I’m a birder, and such a novice at the art of woodsmanship that I’m now hopelessly lost. I followed a stream expected to eventually encounter a bridge before nightfall, and thus a road and beyond that a house, but then I smelled the chimney smoke and followed my nose here. I didn’t think anyone was about, and planned on spending the night until I could orient myself in the morning.” It was a plausible explanation—the best ones were—and decorated with enough of the truth to pass as such.

     “Well, welcome, Mr. Lane, to my home. I apologize that I’m such a poor hostess—I don’t often receive visitors, and the maid has retired home for the evening. Still, it wouldn’t be Christian of me to deny you shelter on a night like this.” She nodded towards the tall, narrow window to her right. A brisk autumn shower was already starting—which Edward had planned on, to erase any incidental footprints his visit might leave.

     “I appreciate your kindness and generosity,” he said, bowing—and then realizing she could not see the courtesy. “And whom do I have the honor of addressing?”

     “I am Elizabeth, Lady Trey,” she said. “Although counting it an honor would likely be overstating it. And you are welcome to whatever little cheer I have. In truth, I welcome the diversion. It makes a welcome respite from my usual mode of evening entertainment.”

     “And that would be?” I asked, curious.

     “Sitting in the dark, alone, and drinking gin,” she said with a wry chuckle, raising her glass to him. “It is ever so much better to be sitting in the dark with someone else and drinking gin. Cheers.”

     “Cheers,” he echoed, absently. “Is Lord Trey not about, then?”

     “Lord Trey is at his estate in Beumonde, where he oversees his interests,” she said, emptily. “I have not had the pleasure of his company in four years. Please, have a seat,” she said, interrupting herself.

     “I’d love to,” he said, “but if you permit me, let’s stir the fire and take the chill off, shall we?” It was depressingly cold in the room, he noted, and Tudors had a justly-earned reputation for draughtiness. Lady Trey was enwrapped in several quilts, and while the air before her mouth did not quite turn to vapor, it was a near thing. She nodded and Edward proceeded to stoke the fire to the point where the flames provided more illumination than the feeble candlelight. When he turned back to face his impromptu hostess, he gasped. Wit the augmented light he could see her face clearly for the first time.

     “What is the matter?” Lady Trey asked. “Did you burn yourself?”

     “No,” Edward said, shaking himself back to reason, “I was just . . . startled. You are very beautiful. And much younger than I thought.”

     The laugh that came from the fair face and unseeing—but nonetheless gorgeous—blue eyes shook Edward for its hollowness and lack of mirth. “Beautiful? Young? I feel neither—and none has dared say such things to me since I lost my sight.”

     “That is a tragedy,” Edward murmured. “You are quite stunning.”

     Lady Trey dismissed it with a wave of her hand. “My maid brushes my hair twice a day, and helps me wash. Apart from that I am quite plain in my toilette.”

      “I beg to differ, madame,” Edward countered.

     “Well, you are gracious to say so. But I’ve already invited you in to stay the night, further flattery is unnecessary, Mr. Lane. But I do bid you join me in a drink.”

     Edward poured a second glass from the pitcher of gin and lemonade set near to Lady Trey’s hand on a well-appointed table, then took a seat on the settee opposite her. “Cheers,” he repeated, sipping the cool drink. By the size of the pitcher and what remained, Lady Trey was at least two sheets to the wind at this early point in the evening. And there was still plenty left.

     “I cannot help but wonder that you aren’t concerned for your safety, out here alone,” he mused. “Do not be,” the woman said, shrugging. “Sometimes I pray some ruffians will break my house and end my torment in some spectacularly savage manner. But we are too remote and humble to attract a better class of ruffian. Besides, Hampton, my groundsman, can hear me scream from here. “

     “Now, now,” Edward soothed. “I can see how your situation would drive one to melancholia—or drink, for that matter—but to wish for a premature end is, if I may say, unChristian.”

     “Oh, I’d be content if some hideous wretch broke in and ravished me,” she said, just flamboyantly enough to let Edward know the level of her toxicity. “Indeed, I’ve prayed for it. Is that not also unChristian, Mr. Lane?”

     “Well, I’m hardly a vicar,” Edward chuckled, warming to the woman. “And I would not presume to judge such . . . flights of fancy. They’re quite common. Propriety keeps me from mentioning a few of my own . . . wilder dreams. Perfectly normal.”

     “Does that mean you’re here to ravage me, then?” she asked, an eyebrow cocked.
     “I wouldn’t presume on my hostesses’ hospitality—and I assume madame is jesting.”

     “I haven’t seen my husband in four years, Mr. Lane,” Lady Trey said, sadly. “And he wants nothing to do with me. The last time I felt the touch of a man . . .”

     “Oh, dear,” Edward said, taken aback. He had thought her just a bawd—but there was true misery in her voice. “Is your husband blind, as well, then?” he asked, sincerely.

     “Flattery again!” she said, shaking her head. “What a rogue you are, Mr. Lane. My groundskeeper has grandchildren and smells of manure. My maid is more a jailor than a confidant. Yours is the first other human voice I’ve heard in years, since I stopped attending services, and you fill my ears with honey.”

     “I speak only the truth,” Edward sighed. “While I respect your infirmity, if I had no knowledge of it I assure you I would spare no expense or trouble to make your acquaintance across a crowded ball room.”

     “Where you would never see me. The blind are not known for their dancing. More the pity—I loved to dance, before my accident. You have a kind and . . . virile voice, Mr. Lane. “

     “Flattery!” Edward accused. She laughed at his joke, the first pleasant laugh he’d heard from her lips since he’d arrived. “But I’ll allow it only if you accept that I have a face like an overdone kidney pie. “

     “As long as your voice is handsome, that is agreeable,” Lady Trey said. “Then we can agree to this fiction together, and proceed with the ravishment.”

     “Another drink, first,” Edward demurred, pouring for them both.

     “So you think me . . . pretty?” the woman continued.

     “As lovely as a doe at dawn,” Edward assured.

     “Honey-tongue. Pray continue. Pretty enough to court?

     “Of a certainty,” he avowed.

     “Pretty enough to wed?”

     “If I had the station and expectation, you’d make a lovely bride for me.”

     “Pretty enough to . . . bed?” the woman asked, hesitantly.

     Silence hung in the air, broken only by the crackle of the fire. Edward tried hard to gauge the woman’s emotions—the eyes were not as telling as they were with other women, and he had difficulty judging how serious she was. He was on dangerous footing, here, and he knew it. But he was bold, at need, and this was such an occasion where boldness, not timidity, seemed to be called for.

     “You are a striking woman,” he began, hoarsely. “And I would be a liar if I said I was unmoved by your beauty . . . in a most uncomfortable way. Were you unwed, I would ply you with drink and flattery far beyond the feeble praise I’ve made here, and steal kisses at every moment.”

     “Go on,” Lady Trey said, breathily.

     “I would not stop until I had you alone, and I would do my utmost to put you in a compromising position at the first opportunity.” He hoped that sufficed. The poor, lonely woman was starved for attention—for simple conversation—and if he was planning on depriving her of her valuables, the least he could do was cater to her whim. “I would make passionate love to you day and night. I would cast aside all propriety and insist you perform like a doxy until we were both satisfied.” He wasn’t certain, but he thought he heard a moan emit from the heap of quilting. He elected to continue out of nothing more than a perversity to stir the passions of this woman. “I would teach you things to our mutual pleasure that a dockside whore would balk at for a purse of gold.”

     “Yes, yes!” Lady Trey said, closing her eyes. “That is entirely what I want!”

     “How, a ‘yet’? “ she asked, in frustration.

     “You are wed,” he pointed out. “And to a peer of the realm. Propriety dictates that such liberties are . . . sadly . . . forbidden. The scandal . . . ”

     “And what scandal there would be if lonely, blind, pitiful Lady Trey be discovered in such a position,” she said, dryly. “In truth there are maybe four aristocrats in the county who even know my name, Mr. Lane. Even the villagers rarely speak of me. There is no scandal where there is no reputation to break . . . and I am unnoticed. As far as my ‘dear husband’ is concerned, the night I lost my sight was the last night he cared to speak to me, much less touch me. And as far as my eternal soul is concerned, I tell you that I fear no damnation from such an act. My soul has been bound for perdition for years, I assure you. One more sin—or a lusty dozen—more or less will make no matter before the Throne of God. I’ve accepted my damnation, Mr. Lane, and not only willingly break my marriage vows, but actively seek to do it.”

     “Well,” Edward said, quite at a loss, “If I might ask—purely for the sake of conversation, I assure you—what form of vow-sundering ravishment plagues your tormented soul?”

     “For the sake of conversation,” Lady Trey said, amusedly, “let us say that the scenario you’ve described lives up to it quite nicely. I wish to be treated like a whore, Mr. Lane. I was but twenty when I wed, and my ‘dear husband’ was artless in the marriage bed. I barely knew what was happening before it was over. After my accident, my native urges did not vacate me with my sight. On the contrary, deprived of literature and art, boredom and ennui made my carnal longings that much more acute. But what could I do with them? People look upon me with pity or scorn, and neither one often leads to such illicit pleasures. I have been denied the pleasures of marriage, Mr. Lane. Of even a poor marriage. The most common peasant wife enjoys a more fulfilling life than I. And while my sight and usefulness is limited, I cannot help but think that, in the darkness of the bedroom, such infirmities are moot.”

     “ ‘All cats grey at midnight’,” Edward quipped, sipping his drink.

     “Precisely. A useless ring, a dusty old manse, and a bothersome title are poor recompense for this denial. And all in an effort to make me ‘comfortable’. So I ask you, Mr. Lane,” she said, nearly quivering, “would you care to bed me?”

     “I . . .”

     “Make me your whore, Edward,” Lady Trey’s voice commanded, firmly.

     “It’s just . . .” he stumbled.

     “For the sake of God, do not force me to beg!” she finally exploded.

     Edward was quite out of his element, here. He had plenty of experience with the carnal arts—since two of his fences were also pimps, he’d celebrated a hefty haul with an all-night indulgence a time or three. And he’d seduced his share of the aristocracy, too, as well as their servants. But this situation was unique, in her experience, and the dangers were subtle.

     But there was no denying the effect of Lady Trey’s plea on his manhood.

     Quietly, he rose, setting his drink on the table. He placed another few logs on the fire and stirred it while he thought. Then he returned to Lady Trey’s chair and studied her face, which was collapsed in an expression of despair.
     “If you’re going to be my . . . whore,” Edward said, quietly, “you will be spared nothing.”

     “I ask nothing less,” she said, simply.

     “There will be no screaming for help,” he instructed. “There will be no denial . . . of anything. Every depraved act will be mine to do at will. Agreed?”

     “For the love of God, yes!” she almost yelled.

     Edward grinned and silently unbuttoned his trousers, finally releasing his thick cock to the open air. It hung there, unseen, in front of her face and he felt a lewd charge surge through him at such a brazen display.

     “Say the words,” he commanded. “ ‘Cock.’ ‘Cunt’. ‘Fuck’. ‘Frig’.”

     “Hard, long cock, wet juicy cunt, long glorious fuck, and . . . frig me, dear?”

     He stifled a chuckle at that. “How about . . . suck?”

     “Suck?” she asked, curious.

     “It’s something the dockside whores do,” he informed her. “It’s when you take . . . oh, well, easier to show you, I suppose,” he said, and grabbed the back of Lady Trey’s head and pulled it forward. She resisted the sudden touch and startled—then his cock clumsily touched her face and she transformed. Hungrily, greedily, she took it between her lips, once she knew what it was, and for the next few moments Edward was the recipient of a lifetime of pent-up passion. She was clumsy and inexperienced, and several times she was more forceful than Edward’s manhood would have preferred, but the enthusiasm was so great that minor issues of technique were incidental to the experience. Edward reveled in the pure carnal satisfaction of the moment, and noted that his hostess’ eyes were blissfully closed as she passionately serviced his weapon.

     He was proud of his prick, of course, not just for its size—a full seven and a half inches—but for its form. He had a pretty penis, his friend’s sisters and scullery maids had often said. Well-proportioned and formed, it now delighted at the deft tonguing it was receiving. It was all he could do to avoid ending the evening prematurely, so ardent was Lady Trey’s fire.

     “Am I doing it right?” she asked, when he pulled away.

     “Exceptional,” he confirmed with a smile. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear you were an airship station whore servicing the five-fifteen from Luxley.”

     “Greater praise I’ve never heard,” she giggled drunkenly. “I cannot believe I actually put a cock in my mouth!”

     “You almost had more of the experience than I intended,” he confided, idly rubbing his length in front of her in a way that would have been lewd, had she been able to see him. As it was, it was twice lewd for her blindness. “Any more and I’m afraid I would have spilled my seed prematurely.”

     “Is it . . . healthful to do such a thing?”

     “Not if you are to get properly rogered,” Edward quipped. “But as far as swallowing the ejaculate—well, by all scientific accounts, it is not only completely untoxic, but many foreign lands see it as positively beneficial! There are whole barbaric lands where such a thing is not just common, but expected. Or so I hear.”

     “Then why spare me?” she asked. “Unless . . . that would end your play for the evening.”

     “Oh, I’m virile enough,” Edward bragged. “Two, three, even four courses in a night, if I’m of a mood.”

     “Then spare me nothing!” Lady Trey demanded, passionately. “Push your cock into my mouth until you release fully—I beg of you! Just swear to me that you’ll continue our interlude . . . or not . . . but I have never tasted a man’s seed, and if the residue on your instrument is this delightful then spare me not the rest!”

     “Well, if you’re certain . . .”

     “Are you always so polite with your whores, Mr. Lane?” she asked, sensing his hesitation. “When I invited you to use me, and swore that I would expect no less, I figured that you would be more . . . robust about the matter.”

     “Fortune favors the bold,” Edward said with a sigh as he pulled Lady Trey’s head back to his cock. For fifteen delightful minutes she pleasured him with her mouth, learning what aroused him the most along the journey. At some point her left hand stole out of the quilting and wrapped around the base of his shaft while she practiced tormenting the head with strong suction and an agile tongue.

     Taking her wish to be treated whorishly at her word, when he found himself once again close to climax he abandoned all pretense and grabbed her blonde locks, using them to propel his pecker deep into her mouth and into her throat. She struggled minutely as he did so, but soon abandoned herself to the depraved act. Edward fucked her face with long, glorious strokes, and she reveled in every moment.

     “At last,” he gasped, “I arrive!” and pumped a massive torrent of seed into her mouth. Lady Trey struggled at first, but then complacently accepted his offering, swallowing heavily.

     “That,” she said, as his cock slipped from between her lips, “was wonderful! I never knew one could perform so on a cock!”
     “Not many can,” Edward sighed, “and all too few do. Most wives find such sports . . . distasteful.”

     “They are idiots, then,” she sighed, contentedly. “If I had known . . .”

     “Oh, there are greater pleasures than that ahead of us—though I won’t mind revisiting the practice. Until then, there is still something that lingers high on the agenda.”

     “And that would be?”

     “Your cunt, my lady,” Edward said, kneeling before her chair, his cock still out and beginning to dangle as it enjoyed the post-orgasmic repose. “It needs tending.”

     “But did you not just climax? Surely you will need a few moments to recover.”

     “That is not the only way a whore’s cunt can entertain,” Edward said as his hands found Lady Trey’s slippered feet—and began climbing upward. She gasped at the shock of the cool air as much as the stranger’s touch on her limbs. But instead of drawing away, she spread her legs lewdly, reclining in the chair in such a way that her fundament was much closer to the edge of the seat. Edward’s hands slipped up her knees to her thighs, under her night dress, and was gratified to learn that under all of those quilts Lady Trey still maintained a girlish figure—and had seemingly forgotten her underthings.

     Her golden triangle slid closer and closer to Edward, who allowed his fingers to tug and play at her pubic hair. Her skin was shot through with goosebumps as he touched whole realms that had forgotten the feel of manly hands. Lady Trey’s spine writhed as he began his spiraling descent towards her womanhood, stroking first her knees, thighs, and belly while she shook and gasped. The pungent aroma of her arousal filled the room. Mixed with woodsmoke and the smell of gin, it was a heady odor, but one Edward found enchanting. He used one of his deft fingers, so used to picking locks, to fondle her mound of venus with all the skill he possessed. Then he bent his head and suddenly began licking her folds.

     Edwards experience with cunnilingus had begun while still in school, on one of those fortunate holiday outings he’d taken with his far more affluent mates. This one was to the seashore, where William Dover’s father, the Baron of Gorey, had a holiday estate the size of a small village. The luxurious quarters and dozens of servants had made a profound impact on young Edward’s ideas about good living, particularly when a comely lass three years older—the maid responsible for the guest rooms—had caught each others’ eye. The maid had seen Edward as a ticket out of her servile surroundings, and had succeeded in seducing the boy in short order. Once she learned of his diminished estate, she contented herself with showing him how to pleasure her properly. Edward had used that arcane knowledge on his host’s youngest daughter three nights later, and had won an admirer for life on that account.

     Since then he had practiced the art whenever the occasion warranted, although he rarely licked whores. Now Lady Trey had full benefit of his education, and she thrashed and writhed as his tongue pleasured her in a way no man had ever dared. Edward, mindful of his audience, did his best to ensure a long and delicious course before she came on his tongue—and when she did, eventually have a cataclysmic orgasm he expected her to cry for him to stop. When she didn’t—but put her left hand on his head and pushed him further into her nexus—he redoubled his efforts, sucking and licking and feasting on this neglected womanhood as if he were a starving man at a Christmas banquet.

     Over and over again he pleasured her, until he lost count of the number of times she had called on Providence and released a fresh gush of juices into his thirsty mouth. She was sweet and clean, tasting like a ripe pear. Her golden fleece was soon soaked with his saliva and her effusions. Only when his jaw ached as much as his prick did he finally relent.

     “It’s better for women, as I understand it,” he said as he caught his breath.

     “Oh, God in heaven, that makes up for many injustices to my gender!” she declared with a beatific sigh. “I have never . . . even with my husband . . . even by my own hand . . .”

     “Well, I can’t say I’m finished yet,” Edward sighed, rising on his haunches until his cock, erect and throbbing once again, lay nearby her seething, sopping cunt. Her juices had thoroughly wetted the skirt of her night dress, perhaps even staining the chair, and the smell of sex clung to the quilting like a pall. Edward lined up his cock with her opening and pushed forward boldly, filling her half way before he stopped and re-adjusted his stance. Then he was buried in her sweet, hot confines to the balls, and Lady Trey could not have been happier.

     “OH, God yes, fuck me, fuck me, Edward, fuck me like a common whore and make me your tart!”

     Edward didn’t comment—he was focused on plunging her tight recesses as fully as possible. While the angle left something to be desired, the unbearable pleasure of being surrounded by her buttery folds was too enticing to consider changing. He was taking his pleasure, now, taking it unmindful of her own—but despite his inattention, Lady Trey seemed to be drinking in the delicious thrusting like a woman dying of thirst. Her left hand clung to his neck as the blind woman sought to push her cunt harder and harder against his staff, sinking it deeper and deeper into her. Her mouth found his, finally, and they kissed, the taste of gin mingling with the taste of lust on their combined tongues.

     How long he thrust into her, he did not know. Her passion, her desperation fueled his own need to possess this blind beauty, and if the Imperial Guard had burst into the room with one of their magnificent rolling iron fortresses, Edward would not have likely noticed. He hammered away at Lady Trey’s neglected pussy until his knees ached and his back protested at the angle, but even as one roaring climax after another washed over her, he persisted in his duty. Only when she slid down enough to entwine both legs about his buttocks and force him fully into her did he finally succumb to temptation and fill her with spunk.

     He withdrew and nearly collapsed in her lap in one movement, so exhausted was he by his effort. She stroked his hair and cooed wordlessly as she, too, recovered from her reverie. It was only when Edward felt something cool and metallic touch the skin of his neck did he start.

     “What the hell?” he called in surprise. Lady Trey suddenly looked guilty, and hid her arms under the quilt. Confused and curious, Edward traced a line down her right sleeve until his hand discovered that her arm . . . ended just below the elbow. Not quite ended, he revised, as he felt the smooth, cool metal that continued, down to dainty metallic digits.

     Lady Trey raised her right hand slowly into the gloomy night, revealing a slender, feminine, but utterly mechanical prosthetic.

     “You have found me out,” she sighed. “My other infirmity. My sight was not all I lost in the accident. My ‘dear husband’ had the kindness to have this made for me. Pure silver, at least on the outside.” While she talked the hand whirred as the fingers moved. “He got the best clockwork maker in the city to build it. You remember the old Celtic story of King Nuada? The one who had a silver arm?”

     “I tended to stick with Classical literature,” Edward demurred. “But I think I’ve heard the name.”

     “Nuada was king of all the Celtic lands. Until he lost his hand in battle. Under Celtic law, he could not be king anymore. But his smith forged a brilliant silver hand in recompense for his loss. My husband tried to do the same. Now that I am . . . no longer fit to be a wife, he’s grafted this obscene toy to my stump in an effort to make up for . . . everything. He thought it was pretty.”

     “It is,” Edward admitted, his mouth slack with wonder. And indeed the device was a work of art in its own right, a delicate tribute to the master who created it. The fingers had been polished smooth, but the back of the hand and the palm were etched with elaborate geometric patterns.

     “It’s an abomination,” Lady Trey said, flatly. She held up her left hand in comparison. As dainty as her silver hand was, it seemed clumsy and awkward compared to her natural hand. “I despise it. But it has its uses. Seduction, however,” she said, wryly, “is not one of them. It inspires pity—moreso than my blindness. And it inspires a horrid fascination I’d just as soon be without.”

     “So . . . how did it happen?” Edward finally managed to bring himself to say.

     “If you want that story, Mr. Burglar,” she said, straightening up and reclaiming her dignity by smoothing down her quilts and the skirts under them, “then you will have to return tomorrow night.”

     “Burglar?” Edward said, trying to interject the proper note of confusion and denial in his voice.

     “A gentleman would have knocked, even if he was certain no one was home,” Lady Trey explained. “And come through the front door. A burglar, on the other hand, no matter how polite, would only use the back door and try to enter silently. Unfortunately for you, my hearing is adept since I lost my sight. I’m certain you’re some kind of aristocratic rogue, down on his luck, and found Tudley House an easy mark. My husband’s absence is well known, and my presence here . . . not so well known. The truth is, Mr. Lane—if that is your name—that I’ve been wondering how long it would be before such a lure proved irresistible. Not to the local footpads—they’d never try something like this. But a clever fellow from the city, he might.”

     “Madame, I assure you—”

     “Don’t bother lying, Mr. Lane, I can hear it in your voice,” she dismissed. “I don’t fault you for it. For all I know, this house is scattered with god and jewels—for all the good they would do me. No, here are the conditions of your parole: you will sleep here, tonight, in my bed. In the morning you will pleasure me again the way you did a while ago. By dawn’s light, however, you must escape back to whence you came, before my maid arrives. Return again at dusk, and make me your whore again tomorrow night. Afterwards, I will tell you the whole dreary story, and let you pick your choice of whatever shiny bauble strikes your fancy from my husband’s collection. Or . . .”

     “Or . . . ?” Edward asked, tacitly accepting her pronouncement without actually admitting he was a thief.

     “Or I can show you something really worth stealing. Something to make you as rich as an Earl, a dozen times over. Wealth, boundless adventure, a journey to the ends of the Earth. You won’t find it by ransacking the house, though, I warn you. So you will return tomorrow and fuck me soundly, and then we shall see about your future, Mr. Lane. Is that agreeable?”

     “How could a man ask for anything more?” Edward said, quietly.
     What had he gotten himself into?