Without delay, I tore the reins free of the bush, leapt aboard, and urged the gelding into a canter. Big mistake. I pulled him back into a walk and panted for a while, gathering my far-flung wits and letting the clenching of my sex relax again. I was having the devil of a time staying mounted too, since the tight hobble skirt left me no way to get a grip on the horns of the side-saddle.
At least I wouldn't have to suffer being stared at. My unconventional position (not to mention my unconventional garb) was adequately concealed beneath the gown I had appropriated. I realized then that I had left my own boots, my corset, indeed all of the clothes I had worn that morning, back inside the house.
Needless to say, I did not even consider going back for them. I relaxed into the rhythm of my mount, and would have spent the rest of the ride to town in confused contemplation of the events of the day but for one more startling revelation. Something bumped against my knee, and thinking that some piece of my horse's tack had come loose, I reached for it. What I found in my hand wrested a strangled cry from my throat, and once again I felt my heart pound within my breast.
It was a black and white cameo necklace, beautifully wrought, fastened to the saddle's pommel by a red satin cord. The design was of a woman's face, surrounded by an oval ring of chain. That I should find it hanging from my saddle was unreasonable enough, but that it should carry the face that it did was impossible. The face upon the amulet was unquestionably my own.
I stared at it in horror, as if I held some particularly disgusting piece of vermin in my hand, before letting it fall from my nerveless fingers. (I was fortunate that it was still tied to the pommel!)
What… how… How could it possibly have gotten there, unless… My rational mind refused to accept the possibility, but what other explanation was there?
I had, without realizing it, come in contact with the revenant of Hargreaves Manor.
I left the horse at the stables, making my apologies to the stable boy for the lateness of the hour. I had, I told him, ridden too far and stayed too late, without an appreciation for how quickly sunset could approach in this generally overcast and cloudy country. He dismissed my apologies with a smile and a wave, and I realized that he was quite taken with me. He was an attractive lad, and had he been a few years older, I might very well have made his dreams come true.
If he noticed my change of dress, he did not comment. Removing the amulet from the saddle, I fastened it about my neck. While it might be a gift from a ghost, it was a gift nevertheless, and I had decided I liked having a secret admirer.
I had to spend several minutes reassuring Mrs. Robson that nothing was amiss, nor was that task altogether easy. She wanted to know what had become of my riding habit. I told her I had come back in the middle of the day and changed into cooler clothes, hadn't she seen me? She looked skeptical, but did not pursue that issue. She wanted to know why I had returned so late. I gave her the same excuse I had given the stable hand. Mollified, she finally permitted me to retreat to the safety of my room but not before casting a thoughtful look at my unusual gloves. I hoped she thought them made from patent leather.
Safe within my chambers, I divested myself of the mundane frock, and then stood frustrated, as I realized I would have to ruin these beautiful things in order to remove them. I didn't want to cut them but I didn't care to stay in them forever either. And I admit, the discovery that they had somehow changed themselves so as not to be casually removed had frightened me. As much as I had enjoyed wearing these things, it would be a relief to be out of them- I was sopping with perspiration and the usual evidence of my passionate exertions earlier in the day. I made one last, half-hearted tug at the skirt and to my surprise, it now felt pliant and elastic again.
I turned and looked behind me in the mirror. Sure enough, the corset laces were dangling behind me, as accessible as when I had first tied them. My first instinct of course was to take advantage of this turn of events and get undressed as quickly as possible, but I was overcome by curiosity.
How was it possible for these changes to take place, and what had caused them? I had to assume there was some purpose behind these strange events, and that this was not mere random phenomena. Why had I been "allowed" to put the garments on in that bedroom at Hargreaves Manor, and yet had them literally secured upon my person later? And why was I now able to take them off again? The only thing that had changed since I discovered my predicament was…
I stared at the reflection of the amulet. Moving slowly, as one possessed, I took it off and set it upon the vanity. As soon as it left my neck, I could FEEL something squirming at my back, and I detected a subtle change in the feel of the suit's collar, and of the waistband of the skirt. I picked up the amulet and looked in the mirror. As I put it on, I saw the ends of the laces simply drop out from between the others. As I took it off again, they slithered up out of sight. The sight was fascinating and disturbing at the same time. Was this magic, or some new marvel of science? It was obvious I would not find out on my own. It was equally obvious that someone (or something) knew I had been at the manse, had perhaps even observed me while I was there. Yet this person or persons seemed to have my better interests at heart, since they had gifted me with this amulet. The whole thing was a pretty little puzzle, and I knew I would find answers in only one place.
But I had reached the limits of my analytical powers for the day- I was exhausted. Right then, I needed one thing: rest. And by the grace of some still-unknown benefactor, I could at least get out of the costume which had made my day so enjoyably fatiguing.
Reluctantly then, I peeled off the decadent clothes, making a considerable amount of rustling, snapping, and squeaking sounds, the unusual nature of which I feared would bring the ever-suspicious Mrs. Robson running. I paused for a few minutes, breathing slightly harder from my exertions. When no one inquired after the unique sounds coming from my room, I unlaced the corset and struggled out of the suit.
Removing the bloomers gave me another thrill, and for a moment I considered wearing them to bed, although they were literally dripping with lubricant, my own perspiration, and… other sorts of moisture. I hung the amulet next to the vanity mirror.
In the end, I spent some considerable time cleaning and drying all the garments at the wash-stand before finally collapsing on the bed. Exhausted as I was, I fell almost immediately into a deep sleep. If I dreamt that night, I have no memory of my dreams.
In the morning, I might have thought the entire experience a pleasant dream but for the strange gutta percha clothes festooning the room and the undeniable presence of the amulet hanging from the vanity mirror. For a long time, I lay in bed, listening to the chirping of the birds outside my window and thinking about the week before. It was obvious that someone was in fact living in Hargreaves Manor. Further, it was evident that this person was as perverse as I in his (or her) interests, and took great delight in frightening (and playing with) the occasional visitor so foolish as to explore the place.
I set aside for the moment the puzzle of how a cameo amulet had been carved in my exact likeness in a matter of hours. Perhaps it had been made for someone who looked like me, and it was pure coincidence that I had happened by when I did. Perhaps I had been singled out for the treatment I had received, because I resembled a lost lover (a pathetic idea that frightened me, although I had certainly not been mistreated). There were many possibilities.
Throughout my ruminations however, I could not shake the vague notion that I was somehow predestined to have found the place. How to explain the clothes which fit me so well? How to explain that an entire household had existed for years, which not only indulged in every secret fantasy I had ever entertained, but which embraced delights of which I had never dreamed? After all these years, I had found that I was not alone in my strange desires, but when I achieved my paradise, my holy grail, I found it long since deserted. Or was it? Could any one person have worked all of the mysterious coincidences and events that had awaited me at the mansion? Was there perhaps an entire host of fellow perverts, that for some reason (and through uncanny skill) managed to remain hidden in the place? And what of the "magical" (or at the very least, mystifying) properties of the clothes I had taken?
I had nothing but questions, and the only way I was going to get answers would be to return to Hargreaves Manor.
I was not at all sure that I was ready for that. I decided to bide a while, to relax and see a little of the country, before committing to a course of action with ramifications impossible to predict.
I think even then I knew that returning to the house would be a momentous decision- a turning point. Even then, I felt that it was important to be absolutely certain in my mind (even if my body had already decided) that a return was what I really wanted.
So I wandered the streets for a few days, stopping in once to visit my new friend the cobbler, more often haunting the library, finding various quaint and picturesque shops to purchase curios from, and in general making a nuisance of myself about town.
On more than one occasion, I took a solitary picnic into the fields surrounding the town. These fields were of such surpassing beauty that it is worth mentioning here, although they have no real bearing on my story of themselves. There are dozens of these small glens and meadows in and around the woods which surround Harrowgate, and all are filled (at least at that time of year) with fragrant wildflowers, softly humming insects and a sense of quiet, brooding expectation that is almost supernatural. Even if Hargreaves Manor had turned out to be a hoax, or even non-existant, those days spent lying in the sunlit grass with only a bottle of wine and various books of romantic poetry or erotic prose for company, were worth the tedious trip across the Atlantic all by themselves.
I stopped in at the cobbler's, in hopes that my order might be ready. He had said it would only take two days after he had the leather, but the last time I had checked, the shipment had been delayed. When I got there, he beamed at me, and disappeared into the back of the shop without a word. He returned with both pairs of boots, which he displayed on the counter with pride.
"They're beautiful!" I exclaimed, and I was sincere. The man was indeed a craftsman. We exchanged very few words as he showed me how to lace the high boots up (the operation reminded me of the lacing of a corset). We had no need of words. There was a feeling of reverence in the shop as we shared briefly in this secret vice, devotees of the same fetish but from opposite viewpoints. I admit that I preened a bit as he crouched at my feet, the added height of those amazing heels giving me a sense of power and superiority. They fit quite well and very tightly, and just as I had promised myself, I wore them out of the shop, the other pair in a box under my arm. If Mrs. Robson noticed anything unusual about my gait as I returned to my room, she said nothing of it.
I think that I had actually made up my mind that first day, and that after that, I was just delaying the inevitable. After some four or five days had passed in this fashion, I felt a deep restlessness stir within me, a sort of subterranean quaking of the senses. Some part of me, hitherto unacknowledged, was demanding a resolution of the mystery I had tried to deny. I knew then that it was time to return to that disturbing house, regardless of whether I would end up confronting personal demons or merely banishing imagined spirits.
That very day, I cut short the pointless outing I was already engaged in and, returning to town, set about preparing for a more serious journey. I stopped into the common room of the house where I was staying and chatted with Mrs. Robson for a bit, intimating that I was leaving town the next day. I told her that I was on a kind of independent tour of the world, and implied that certain unwanted suitors might inquire after me. I said that I would appreciate her discouraging any inquiries, and paid her not only the rent due for the rooms I had rented, but a handsome bonus as well. She seemed a bit saddened, and I had the distinct impression that she saw right through my subterfuge, yet was unwilling to dissuade me from my chosen path.
I went up to my rooms, confident that no one would learn of where I had gone, at least not from her. I packed up my trunks and by noon, had arranged for them to be shipped to Newcastle which was, I had told various people, my next destination. I fully intended to go there too, once I had finished my exploration of Hargreaves Manor. Yet somehow I had the nagging suspicion that in returning to that place, I was embarking on a different kind of journey, one which might just change my travel plans drastically, not to mention the course of my life.
I didn't know it, but I lay down that evening for the last time in the mortal world I had known.
I awoke in the middle of the night, feverish with dreams of twisted erotic games and animated intimate apparel. I had no idea what time it was, for there was no clock in the room. The restless feeling had returned, and I knew I would sleep no more that night. While I lay there, I thought about how I should dress in the morning for my return to the house.
I was convinced now that there was something (or more likely someone) living on the property. Whatever was going on there, however mysterious and disturbing, was very, very exciting to me, and I wanted to be a part of it. I had to assume that I had been allowed out of there with those clothes for a reason. It seemed appropriate that I not only return them, but wear them upon my return. That thought led to another: how did the amulet work? I was not prepared (yet) to believe in magic, but I knew of no science or engineering which could account for the unlikely behavior of the garments. Nor am I ignorant of such matters. Unlike my many female acquaintances back in the States, I was well-read and more than a little self-educated in matters scientific.
I got out of bed and walked over to the vanity. The amulet hung where I had left it, glowing in the shadows by virtue of a stray moonbeam that sliced in between the curtains. I picked it up and examined it in the dim light. I glanced at my own face in the mirror. The likeness was startling!
I looked from it to the clothes, and an almost palpable wave of longing and desire washed over me. Good grief! Had I not sated myself enough the day before? I felt more lust for these garments than I had felt for any flesh and blood lover I had had before! What was wrong with me? I lit the lamps about the room with a lucifer match and picked up the nearest item, the skirt. The cool material warmed to my touch quickly, and gave off it's characteristic liquid rustling sound as I handled it.
The odd scent filled my nostrils and to my surprise, I felt my nipples harden. What was it about that smell? I knew that I had developed such a strong affinity for leather that the smell alone could arouse me. And I had read of the recent work by the Russian physiologist Pavlov. Had I become conditioned to this new and strange smell so soon, so easily? True, the circumstances had been intense…
I knew where this train of thought was headed, and I fought with my urges briefly for some reason, perhaps out of a sense of moderation. It seemed I was indulging myself in wretched excess. But, my libido rationalized, I had already decided to wear the clothes upon my return to the mansion, why not dress a little early?
So for the second time, I donned the bizarre garments I had liberated from Hargreaves Manor. It was fortunate that I had had the foresight to bring the slippery goo with me from the house, else I might never have gotten them back on. The process was no less laborious than it had been the first time however, and I was quite warmed up before the task was done.
Somehow, the proximity of the amulet brought about the changes in my garments. How was that possible? I turned it in my hands, examining it closely for any sign of clockwork or mechanism. It was quite thick, and felt unusually heavy for a mere cameo. It was also quite cool to the touch, despite having been held in my hand for some time. The back, which I had at first thought to be bare, had a faint but discernible design carved in it. It was a pair of concentric circles with unusual runic characters distributed between the two. Absently, I traced around the circle with a fingertip.
Instantly, I was startled by a dramatic change in my raiment. The corset had become noticeably tighter around me, and I felt a tightness slide down over my hips and higher on my chest. I stared at myself in the mirror. The corset had somehow lengthened as well as tightened, and now extended down over my hips right to the knees, and reached right up to my bust and even higher in back. Amazing! In a flash of insight, I traced the design again, in the opposite direction, that is, counter-clockwise. Just as quickly as it had constricted, the corset relaxed to its former shape. I was surprised to note that I hadn't felt any appreciable discomfort. These stays had been rather too tight when I had laced them up that morning, and I hadn't worn them nearly enough to grow accustomed to their smaller measure. Fascinated, I stroked the runes again, slowly, in a clockwise direction, making two circuits.
Once again the corset tightened it's friendly grip upon my waist. Never had I been so tightly corseted. The effect upon my figure was incredible! On the other hand, I was now becoming a bit uncomfortable and out of breath. I changed my breathing to the chest heaving style which is stereotypical of tight-lacers, panting as well as I could under the circumstances, admiring my tiny waist, and attempting a flirtatious turn before the glass.
Only then did I note that it had become quite difficult to move my feet. To be sure, my legs were now compressed by the corset from hip to knee, but my ankles seemed restricted as well. Looking down in surprise, I saw that the hobble skirt had become even longer, and now reached right down to the insteps of my booted feet. Not only that, but it was, if possible, even tighter. This was incredible!
Whoever had designed these things had been not only a genius, but a mischievous pervert, I decided. Either that, or an accomplished magician. It occurred to me that had I been a Christian, I might have had second thoughts about the origin of the power I now toyed with.
I wondered how far the effects could be taken. Eagerly, I traced the circle again, wondering how much more my poor tortured waist could take before I fainted or began to suffer real pain.
The corset did indeed tighten further, and was accompanied this time by yet another startling change. My boots literally squirmed around my feet, bending forward while the heels lengthened until I found myself up on the tips of my toes. I was immediately off balance, and had to grasp the mirror frame to keep from teetering over. Peering down at the boots peeking from under the hem of my now ankle-length skirt, I found I had acquired heels over seven inches in height, and my feet had been forced into a dramatic arch right in line with my shins. Surprisingly, I felt no pain other than a strong sense of stretching and confinement.
I wanted to experiment a bit. I knew that the amulet was what enabled me to don these things, and that they had changed when I had left the room or at least, the mansion. Tentatively, I dangled the amulet by the cord and held it away from me. Once again I felt the faint slithering of the laces disappearing behind me. But that effect was insignificant in the face of a host of other sensations which accompanied it. It seemed that everything I wore suddenly became much firmer, thicker, even my gloves. I felt a distinct tightening around my arms, legs, indeed, over my entire body, which increased the further away I held the amulet. I held it close, and the all-encompassing pressure relented.
Surprisingly, I seemed to be adjusting to the intense compression of my waist quite quickly, since I no longer felt anything other than the powerful restriction, and no actual pain. I essayed another turn of the fingertip.
The corset tightened another notch. Impossible, I thought, can the leather itself be contracting? Again, an additional change came with my newly shrunken waist. The collar of my suit stretched up, slithering around the base of my skull, my jaw, even up to my ears on the sides. It had gone quite stiff and rigid too, such that I could no longer turn my head, or nod, or do much of anything at all above the shoulders. I had to turn my entire torso to look around. This was a thrilling effect, but a bit frightening, and I stroked the amulet in the opposite direction. To my relief, the effects reversed immediately, one step at a time, and after a few moments, my entire wardrobe was back to normal, if the word can be applied at all to an outfit with such sorcerous capabilities.
Through all of this, I was becoming increasingly aroused. This was like being in bondage, and every bit as exciting to me, but here it was my clothes themselves restricting me. It occurred to me that with a cloak and a veil, I could even venture out into the town for a nocturnal walk in this delightful situation, with no one the wiser. In moments, I had unpacked a suitable cloak, and with the addition of a large hat and veil, had an effective disguise. Now, no one would suspect anything out of the ordinary, or so I fervently hoped.
But just in case, I again put on the innocent white linen dress before donning my cape and hat.
I thought it best however, to leave the amulet around my neck so that the other side effects would not overcome me or give me away. For one thing, it was difficult at best to walk in this outfit as it was, without the additional tension and stiffness induced when the amulet was absent. Moreover, the restriction was more than a little arousing, and since I tend to lose consciousness when the delicious paroxysm arrives, it would hardly do to be discovered passed out in the streets of Harrowgate or worse, grunting and groaning like a mare in heat.
On my way to the door, I discovered to my horror that the hostel was an old and shaky building, replete with every kind of creak and groan one can imagine, each one of which I seemed to be letting loose with my careless feet. By the time I gained the foyer I was amazed that I hadn't awakened Mrs. Robson. I paused for a breath then, listening to the quiet sounds of the old house settling on it's foundations, then let myself out and into the night.