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Erle Dexter

Mabel's torments

CHAPTER 1

All the inhabitants of the village of Kronink in Scotland know the castle of Kelingson which stands majestically a few miles outside of the village, and which never fails to draw all the visiting tourists who are struck by the mysterious charm of its old-fashioned towers looming at the horizon and surrounded by the thick vegetation of an immense park.

In that castle lived Lord Kelingson, the heir of an old Scottish family and who was reputed to be a millionaire.

He lived in it only a few mouths in the year and spent the rest of the time travelling in his powerful car through Britain and abroad.

Lord Kelingson was about forty-five years old. His body was athletically built but his face was ravaged by too much good-living. Vice and spirits had left their marks and given him a strange expression of sadism and cruelty. He had the reputation of being heartless and insensitive to human suffering. Besides, he was very stingy and always dreamed of adding still more to his already immense fortune.

The people and tradesmen of the village very seldom penetrated into the domain which was surrounded by a very high wall for miles around. Only an old guardian lived in a small house near the entrance and obeyed blindly the orders of his master, so that it was almost impossible to enter the castle and it would have been still more difficult to get out if by any chance one bad got in.

The guardian's wife, an old woman, looked after the cooking. The only other member of the staff was the servant of Lord Kelingson, named Bridget She was a fine slip of a girl, aged twenty-three buxom and robust, with a beautiful face lit up by fine blue eyes and hair the colour of ripe corn. Formerly she had had a scandalous behaviour at the village. Then she became Lord Kelingson's maid and was no longer seen outside the castle. Of course it was widely whispered that her services were not limited to those of a simple chambermaid.

Anyhow there was a lot of gossip about Lord Kelingson and the people living in the castle, but what was certain was that his life was enshrouded by a deep mystery which nobody could pierce.

Our story begins with a visit to the castle, by a young women who had just arrived at the station, met by Lord Kelingson.

Seated in a deep leather armchair she was now convening with her host She was twenty-eight years old and her name was Dorothea von Berner. Her nationality was British but her parents were German. She was strikingly beautiful but her type of beauty was harsh, imperious and fascinating at the same time.

Her hair was black and shiny, with bluish reflections and carefully arranged into numerous curia which gave it the appearance of being naturally wavy. Her face was pale but remarkably well made up and its profile was very fine. Her mouth was rather strong and sensual, yet wilful and its lips were very red, contrasting with her wonderfully white and regular teeth. Her eyebrows were carefully kept and tapered towards the temples, being thicker towards the middle of the face.

But what struck one most in her face were her eyes — as grey as metal, they stared one out of countenance, so harsh and bright they were. Coming from under oval eyelids, they seemed to cast off an exceptional sheen which took possession of the object or the person on which they were focused.

She wore tortoise-shell spectacles with iridescent lenses which gave still more strength to her look and did not make her any the less beautiful. She had the habit of taking them off and putting them on again several times in the course of a conversation, which may have been involuntary or perhaps purposely, in order to reveal the two aspects of her handsome face.

The young woman's body was rather heavily built, but very near to perfection. Her bust wan taut and extremely arrogant under the silk blouse. The breasts were heavy but its tips pointed hard and seemed to stretch the material to the bunting point.

Dorothea's only physical defect would seem to be a certain heaviness and massiveness, but it made her behind appear all the more insolent and voluptuous and her skirt looked as if it would burst its seams.

On her head was perched a natty little felt hat and she wore an elegant pearl-grey tailor-made suit. Her legs were encased in stockings of the finest silk and on her feet she wore flat-heeled brown buckskin shoes.

There emanated from her a current of overbearingness raised with a suspicion of sadism, a refined charm (hat both drew one to her and chilled one.

She was smoking a cigarette, now and then shaking off nonchalantly its ashes with her very white hand which had purple-dyed finger-nails.

Lord Kelingson, standing in front of her, was talking animatedly to her.

'Dear Hiss von Berner, I have already hinted at the reason why I wished you to come here in the letter I sent you. I would need your services for a year at least, perhaps two, who knows, maybe more. Can you start at once?'

The attractive girl smiled a whole row of cruel teeth.

'Certainly, Lord Kelingson, and the proof is that I have brought along all my luggage, which is at the station — two trunks for my personal effects nod a third one containing several disciplinary instruments, for, if I understand correctly, ray task will be to bring up a young girl under strict discipline, am I right?'

'You are perfectly right. By the way, may I ask whether you still have the same methods of education which are, so to speak, your trademark?'

'Yes, I have. '

'I still recall perfectly,' the lord reminisced, 'our first meeting which took place at my friend's, Lord Delphy, and I shall never forget the original and delightful manner with which I surprised you for the first time. I was walking in the park when I saw you at a place where the path was curving, with your pupil, Lucy Mac Nerling, who was Lord Delphy's ward. She was lying in front of you on her stomach on the gravelled path. Her skirt and underskirt were pulled up above her waist and her drawers pulled down to her ankles — a rather odd position for an nineteen-years-old aristocratic girl. I also noticed that she was wearing a very strait-laced corset and that both her hands and her ankles were firmly shackled with steel bracelets. And you were giving her the best whipping I had ever witnessed. The poor girl was screaming her head off! I can still see the scene in my mind as fresh an if it had happened only yesterday. But what struck me most was when I saw Lucy, after the whipping, thank you on her knees, on your order, for having punished her so well, and kiss your feet. I understood then, Miss von Berner, how effective your teaching methods were. '

'That was nothing,' the young woman replied with an enigmatic smile, 'you could have seen much better than that.'

'That was when,' Lord Kelingson went on, 'my friend Delphy told me that you were a governess of a rather special kind and that you aimed to destroy completely the personality of Lacy Mac Nerling, to make her your slave so that her plentiful heritage should go entirely to Delphy.'

Loud Kelingson laughed and Dorothea blushed slightly.

'I was only doing my job of educator, milord. And Lord Delphy had promised me ten percent of the heritage if I succeeded in my task.'

'And what happened to Lucy?'

'I got her tamed so well that it was impossible for her to resume her title and her place in society. Lord Delphy gave her to me as a present and I took her with me to London where she became my maid and she bad to maintain the strictest discipline. Later, I got tired of her and I gave her away to a friend of mine, a wealthy American woman who was going back to the States. Then I learned in a letter from that friend that she had sold Lucy to an eighteen-year-old screen actress, a very attractive starlet and very promising but extremely temperamental: she locked up Lucy in her Hollywood villa and treated her like a slave, whipping her every morning before going to the studio merely to calm her nerves.'

'A fine result, Miss von Berner, a fine result indeed,' exclaimed Lord Kelingson. 'I see that girls who get out

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