/ Language: English / Genre:sf_epic, / Series: Chronicles of Counter-Earth

Dancer of Gor

John Norman

Doreen Williamson appeared to be a quiet shy librarian, but in the dark of the library, after hours, she would practice, semi-nude, her secret studies in belly-dancing. Until, one fateful night, the slavers from Gor kidnapped her. On that barbarically splendid counter-Earth, Doreen drew a high price as a dancer in taverns, in slave collar and ankle bells. Until each of her owners became aware that their prize dancer was the target of power forces---that in the tense climate of the ongoing war between Ar and Cos, two mighty empires, Doreen was too dangerous to keep. DANCER OF GOR is a John Norman bonus novel---an erotic fever-pitched novel of an alien world where men were all-powerful and women were living jewels of desire.

DANCER OF GOR

(Volume twenty-two in the Chronicles of Counter-Earth)

by John Norman

1 A Bit of Silk

I knew that I did not conform to the cultural stereotypes prescribed to me. I had known this for a long time. The dark secrets which lay hidden within me. I had been forced to conceal for several years. I do not know from whence the secrets arose. They were directly contrary to everything that had been taught to me. Their origins, it seemed, were deep within me, and, I feared, as I lay awake at night afraid, sweating and distraught, native to my very nature. But such a nature, I wept, could not be, and if it were, so subtle, so insistent, so persistent, so unrelenting, so tenacious, it must never be admitted, never, never! Yes, I fought them, these secrets, these covert knowledges, these anticipations, these dreams. Yes, I struggled, in accord with the demands of my culture, my training and education, these things telling me how I must be, how I must be as I was told to be, to drive them from me. I repudiated them, again and again, but to no avail. They returned, ever again, mercilessly, horrifying me, taunting and mocking me, stripping me in the darkness of my bed of my pretenses and lies. I squirmed and thrashed in my bed, twisting and weeping, pounding it with my fists, crying out, "No! No!". Then I would put my head fearfully on my pillow, dampened with meaningless, rebellious tears. Could I be so weak and terrible? Could I be truly so different from others? Surely there could be no one in the world so degraded, so shameful and terrible as myself. Then one night I rose from bed and went to the vanity and lit the small candle there. I had bought this candle weeks before, probably because deep within me, within my deepest self, in my anguished mind, in my tortured breast and heart, I knew this night would come. I lit the small candle. I stood there in the flickering light, for some minutes, looking at myself. I wore a white nightgown, ankle length. I had dark hair and eyes. At that time my hair was cut at shoulder length. Then, not looking back to the mirror, I crept in the candlelight and shadows to the dresser and there, from beneath several layers of garments, where I had concealed it, I drew forth a small bit of scarlet cloth, tiny and silken, with shoulder straps, a garment I had myself sewn weeks ago, one in which, save for fittings, often done by feel, with my eyes closed, I never even dared to look upon myself. This, in a sense, was the third such garment I had attempted. The material for the first, not yet even touched by need and thread, or scissors, I had suddenly discarded in terror, months ago. I had actually begun work on the second garment, some two months ago, but, in touching it to my body, for it was the sort of garment which touches the body directly, with no intervening investiture, I had suddenly, comprehending its meaning and nature, begun to shake with terror and, scarcely knowing what I was doing, I feverishly cut and tore it to pieces, and threw it away! But even as I had destroyed it I knew, weeping and distraught, terrified, I would make another. I took the third garment from the drawer. Suddenly I thrust it back in the drawer, again under the other garments, thrusting shut the drawer. Then, after a moment, breathing heavily, trembling, I opened the drawer again, and removed it, once more, from its place. I went back to the vanity not looking in the mirror. I dropped the bit of scarlet silk near my feet on the rug. I was trembling. It seemed I could scarcely get my breath. I lifted my eyes then again to the figure in the mirror. She was not large, but I thought she might be pretty. But it is hard to be objective about such things. I supposed there could be criteria, of one sort or another, in some place or another, of a somewhat ascertainable, quantitative sort, perhaps what men might be willing to pay for you, but even then they would probably be paying for a spectrum of desirabilities, of which prettiness, per se, might be only one, and perhaps not even the most important. I did not know. I suppose even more important would be what a woman looked like to a given man and what he thought he could do with her, or, seeing her, knew he could do with her. I looked at the figure in the mirror. Her nightgown, ankle length, was of white cotton. It seemed rather demure, or timid, I supposed, but there was little doubt that there was a female, and perhaps a rather attractive one, though, to be sure, that would be a judgment for men to more properly make, within it. There were the stains of tears on the cheeks of the girl facing me in the mirror, I noted. She trembled. Her lips moved. Why was she afraid? At what she saw in the mirror? It was herself, surely. Why should she fear that? I saw she wore a nightgown. I liked that. I did not like pajamas. To be sure, she was perhaps too feminine for a woman in these times, but then there are such women, in spite of all. They are real, and their needs are real. I looked at her. Yes, I thought, she was objectively pretty. There was no doubt about it. To be sure, she might not seem so to a crocodile or a tree but she should seem such to a male of her species, and that was what counted. Yes, that was what counted, objectively. To be sure, he would doubtless wish to see if the rest of her matched her face. Men were like that. They were like traders of horses and breeders of dogs, interested in the whole female. I again regarded the girl in the mirror. Yes, I thought, she was too feminine, at least for these times. This was not the sort of woman wanted in our times. She was like something beautiful stranded on a foreign beach. Surely she belonged in another time or place. She seemed in her hormones and beauty, in her needs, like a stranger flung out of time. There she stood in a world alien to her deepest nature, not a man, and not wanting to be one, a victim of time and heredity, of her genetic depths, of biology and history. How lonely and unbefriended, how frustrated, unfulfilled and doleful she was. How tragic is she indeed, I thought, whom the lies of one" s time fail to nourish. I looked again at the girl in the mirror. Surely she might better have cooked meat in the light of a cave fire, the thongs on her left wrist perhaps marking whose woman she was, or with sistrum and hymns, under the orders of priests, welcomed the grand, redemptive, sluggish flows of the Nile; better she had run barefoot on a lonely Aegean beach, her himation gathered to her knees, a fillet of white wool in her hair, watching for oared ships; better she had spun wool in Crete or cast nets, her robes tied to her waist, off the coast of Asia Minor; better she had broken her dolls and put them in the temple of Vesta; better she had been a silken girl breathless behind the wooden screens of the seraglio or a ragged slut on her knees desperately licking and kissing for coins in the sunlit, dusty streets below; better she had been bartered for a thousand horses in Scythia or led to Jerusalem tied by the hair to a Crusader" s stirrup; better to have been a high-born Spanish lady forced to beg to be the bride of a pirate; better to have been an Irish prostitute, her face slashed by Puritans for following the troops of Charles; better to have been a delicate lady of the Regency carried into Turkish slavery; better to have been a Colonial dame spinning in Ohio, looking up to see her first red master. I put down my head, and shook it. Such thoughts must be put from my mind, I told myself. But the girl stood there, still stood there, in the mirror. She had not left, or fled. How bold she was, or how deep were her needs! I shuddered. How many times I had awakened from sleep, moving against the coarse, narrow cords which had held me down, above and below my breasts and crossed between them, leaving their cruel marks on my body! How many times had I awakened, seeming still to feel the tight bite of cruel shackles on my wrists and ankles. How many times had I, bound at their mercy, looked up at them? How many times had I recoiled from the blows of their whips, only to crawl then to their feet, piteous and contrite, begging to please them? I was a female. Not looking in the mirror I drew off the nightgown and held it clenched in my hand. I then crouched down and put it gently on the rug, beside the bit of silk. I hesitated. Then I picked up the bit of silk and, standing, not looking in the mirror, I drew it on. It was on me! I closed my eyes. I felt on my skin its silken presence, almost nothing, little more than a whisper or a mockery. I drew it at the hem down more against my body, perhaps defensively, that I might feel it on me the more, that I might assure myself, I told myself, the more of its presence, that I was truly garmented, but this, too, of course, merely confirmed upon me not uncertainly the insidious disturbing subtlety of its slightness, the so undeniable, so insistent, scandalous feel of its slightness, its shameful, mocking silken caress, and, too, as I drew it down, it clung more closely about me, it seemed that it would then, almost as though scornfully, imperiously, in amusement, given its nature, respond to my efforts at modesty only by producing a further and yet greater revelation and betrayal of my beauty. I stood there, the garment on. I turned then to the mirror, and opened my eyes. Suddenly I gasped and was giddy. For a moment it seemed blackness swam about me, and I fought for breath. My knees almost buckled. I struggled to retain consciousness. I looked in the mirror. Never had I seen myself thusly. I was terrified. In the mirror there was a different woman than the world knew of me, one they had never seen, one they had never suspected. What was that thing she wore? What sort of garment could that be, so delicious and brief, so excruciatingly and uncompromisingly feminine? Surely no real woman, hostile, unloving, demanding, shrill and frustrated, zealous in her conformance to stereotypes, attempting desperately to find satisfaction in such things, would wear such a garment. It was too female, too feminine. How could she be identical to a male in such a garment? It would show her simply that she was not. How could she keep her dignity and respect in such a garment? It would show her simply that she was beautifully, and utterly different from a man. It was the sort of garment a man might throw to a woman to wear, amused to see her in it. What sort of woman, of her own free will, would put on such a garment? Surely no real woman. It was too feminine. Surely only a terrible woman, a low woman, a shameful, wicked, worthless woman, a reproach to her entire sex, one with depths and needs antedating her century, one with needs, not indexed to political orthodoxies, one with needs older and deeper, and more real and profound, more ancient and marvelous than those dictated to her by intellectual aberrations antithetical to biology, truth, history and time. I put my hand before my mouth, frightened. I stood there, regarding myself, then, shamed, and humbled and thrilled. I knew then it was I in the mirror, and none other. Perhaps what I saw was not a real woman in some invented, artificial, contemptible, grotesque modern sense, but I thought she was a woman nonetheless and one in some even suddenly significant force, that that there were two sexes, and that they were quite different. I regarded myself in the mirror, and trembled, wondering what this might mean, fully. I feared to consider the matter. What did it mean, that we were not the same as men, that we were so different? Was this really totally meaningless, a unique accident in the history of a world, a random paragraph written in the oceans, in the records of steaming swamps, in the journals of primeval forests, in the annals of the grasslands and deserts, of vacillating glaciers and damp, flowering valleys, of the basins of broad rivers and of the treks of nomads, wagons and armies, or were there biological proprieties, destinies and natures to be fulfilled? I did not know. But I knew how I felt. I lowered my hand and turned, slowly, before the mirror. I considered myself, and was, truly, not displeased. I was not a man, and did not want to be one. I was a female. I choked back a sob. I wondered what it might mean, that men, until we had managed to turn them against themselves, until we had managed to tie and cripple them, were so much stronger, so much more powerful, than we. There was no nether closure, by intent, in the tiny garment I had fashioned. It was open at the bottom. This had seemed to me necessary, somehow, when I had made it. That had seemed to me interesting at the time, but I thought that now I might more fully understand its meaning. It was the garment, particularly in its brevity, of a woman who, whether she willed it or not, was to be kept open to the touch of a man. It was, in its way, a convenience for the male, indeed, even an invitation to his predation; too, similarly, it was, to her, her vulnerability, and nature, reminding her of what she was, and her meaning. I wondered if anywhere there might be true men, men capable of answering the scream of need in a woman, capable of taking us in hand and treating us, and handling us, as what we were, females. Alas, I did not think so. Before the mirror I sobbed. Then I thought that somewhere, surely, there must be such men! Surely somewhere in nature there must be an accounting for them, as there was an accounting for the dances of bees and the fragrances of flowers, for the fleetness of the antelope and the teeth of the tiger, for the migrations of fish and birds, for the swarming of insects, for the turning of turtles to the sea. Somehow there must be a reason for the way I felt, something beyond all denials, denunciations and rationalizations. Such needs bespoke something deep within me, but I dared not consider what it might be. I was lonely and miserable! I wondered if somewhere in nature there might lie not only an explanation for these needs, so seemingly mysterious and inexplicable, given my environment, my education, my training, my conditioning, so different from them, but also some dark complement to them, some response to them, or answer to them. Did they not belong in some organic whole, in some natural relationship, selected for throughout time and history? The bee" s dances betokened the direction and distance of nectar; the fragrance of the flower, seemingly such a meaningless thing of beauty, called forth, luring the bee to its pollen; the swiftness of the antelope paid tribute to the ferocity and agility of the carnivore, the fangs of the carnivore to the elusiveness of his quarry; at the ends of migrations lay the spawning waters and nesting grounds of species; swarmings brought sexes into proximity; and meaning was given to the trek of the turtle, as it led at last to the sea. I considered what might be the answer, the response, in nature, to the needs I felt, if there was one, what might be the nature of the startling organic whole, if it existed, the natural relationship, if there should be such, in which they figured. I wondered what might possibly be the complement in nature to these overwhelming, undeniable, persistent things within me, which had so distressed and troubled me, which now so obsessed me, which caused me such anguish, these irresistible calls and cries within me, the agonizing needs I felt, and I shuddered. I looked in the mirror. How brazen she was to see herself in such a garment! I wondered how she might look, so clad, or perhaps in less, to a man. Suddenly she seemed small, and beautiful, and so vulnerable, and inutterably desirable. I sensed then what might be the nature of the complement in nature to my needs, what might be their flower, their sea, their carnivore, and I stood there terrified, sensing the imperiousness of that complement, its power, its uncompromising ferocity, what it might be to be its object, and knowing that if it existed it would have its way and be absolutely served.

How pleased I was, then, that surely no such complement could exist, that I was safe. I had nothing to fear.

I continued to look at the girl in the mirror. She was exquisite, I thought. She is beautiful, I thought, standing there in the brief silk, in the candlelight, so softly revealed. I had not realized she was so beautiful. I had never seen her before, it seemed, thusly, I had not guessed how marvelous she might be. Yes, it is fortunate that men such as those in my dreams do not exist. I thought, for what then, beauty, would be your fate at their hands? I considered what I might look like, with a chain on my neck. Such men, I thought, would take few chances of losing you, Doreen. Doubtless you would be kept in superb custody, if even the least sort of escape were remotely conceivable. I wonder if you would learn quickly to serve them well, according to their tiniest caprices. Yes, I thought, I would learn quickly and well. It would not be pleasant to feel their whips. I wept then, again, wondering if perhaps I had not been born elsewhere, perhaps time and time again, in other times, if I had not lived in Egypt or Sumer, or Chaldea, in rocky Hellas, or verdant Sybaris or bustling Miletus, if I had not been kept in the great palace in Persepolis, if I might not have seen Alexander, kneeling to him as a Persian slave, if I might not, a barbarian girl, have entered Rome in chains, herded before the chariot of a general, gracing with others his triumph, if I might not, as a Moslem girl, have served Crusaders in some remote fortress, or, as a Christian slave, found myself shamelessly exhibited and sold in an Arab market, thence to be taught to dance for masters.

Then I put such thoughts from my head. I did not think the explanation for my needs, the mysterious things within me, which were so different from what I had been taught, could be so complex, or simple, as racial memories, or the memories of individuals whom I might have been in other places and times. They were rather, I suspected, though I could not know, a simple heritage of my sex, but there was this to be said, had I lived in another place or time I might perhaps have found female fulfillments which, categorically, it seemed, were to be denied to me in my present world, the neuteristic, anonymous world, so inimical to individuality and love, in which I found myself a prisoner of time and circumstance.

I looked into the mirror, and smiled. To be sure, I thought, perhaps you were once an Irish girl tied between the benches of a Viking ship, bound for Iceland, or a pale, prim English lady carried to Barbary, in 1802, who will be taught to feel, and serve dark masters in helpless ecstasy, but perhaps, too, you were not. That was she, and not really you. But who are you? Is there a ship somewhere that will come for you? Are the chains forged that will bind your limbs? Is there an iron, somewhere, waiting to be heated, which will mark your body? Is there a collar, somewhere, unknown to you, that you will someday know well, because it had been locked on your neck? I wonder. You are beautiful. I do not think men would be patient with you. They would want superb service, with no hesitation or compromise. You are that beautiful. Be pleased that men do not exist such as in your dreams, Doreen, for in their power, and in their arms, you would be raped, humiliated and unspeakable degraded. You do not know, responding helplessly to them, what they might make you, what you might become, I laughed, scornfully. What you might become? How pretentious you are! Do you think I do not know you, who you are, and what you are? Perhaps what you are is hidden from all the world, but it is not hidden from me! I know you, and what you are! Speak honestly or be beaten! What you might become, indeed! What you might become, I retorted, you already know in your heart, and know it fully well, you petty, lovely hypocrite, you already are!

The girl in the mirror looked startled, and then pouting, and angry.

"Is it not true?" I challenged her.

"Yes!" she sobbed. "It is true!"

"Are you not rather burdensomely garbed?" I asked.

She drew off the tiny bit of silk. I watched her in the mirror. "You may dance," I told her.

She looked at me, defiantly.

"You want to dance," I told her. "Dance."

I then, startled, saw her, myself, in the mirror. "Who are you?" I asked, "Who taught you to move like that? Where did you come from? Can you be truly Doreen? You are not Doreen as I have seen her before. Are you I? Are we the same? Surely that cannot be I! No one showed you such a dance! Has there been such a dance lurking in you all this time? Can we be the same? Surely that cannot be! Surely I must stop! You are the Doreen I must conceal, the Doreen whom I must, whatever be the cost or anguish, never permit to be seen, or even suspected! You are the Doreen I must deny. You are the Doreen I must hide! Yet you are my true self. I know that! It is my true self then that I must deny, and hide!"

I watched her.

"You bitch!" I chided her. "You brazen bitch! You meaningless, brazen little bitch!"

I watched. How shameless, how meaningless, how terrible, how worthless she was, that girl in the mirror, that writhing, astounding, uncontrollably sensuous little bitch!

She continued to dance.

I saw that she was worthless indeed, worth less than the dirt beneath the feet of gods, but that, too, in her way, she possessed incredible riches and power, in her beauty and femaleness, and in her dance. In the sense in which a free person was priceless, she was worthless, but, too, in her way, I could see that she would have value, value as a pair of boots might have value or a dog. She was the sort of person who would have a finite, measurable value. She was the sort of woman on whom a fair price could be put.

I collapsed to the rug, naked. I felt its coarse nap on my thigh and side. I clutched my arms about myself. I drew my legs up. I was terrified. I wept. I could not understand what I had done, and seen. The girl in the mirror was now gone. We were now one. I trembled.

I lay there for better than an hour, I think, in the flickering shadows, naked, on the rug. I listened to the sounds from outside, mostly those of traffic. Eventually the tiny candle burned out.

2 The Dictionary

The book is her," I said, "on the bottom shelf."

"Get it," he said.

Never again, of course, had I dared to don the tiny silken garment. I would have been too terrified to have done so. It brought out things too deep and marvelous, too shameful and terrible, too precious and beautiful in me. But it remained with my things, in the dresser. Nonetheless my life had changed, somehow, in perspective or understanding, if not greatly in overt deed or obvious fact, that night when I had seem myself as I was, or might be, in the mirror, when I had come to incontrovertibly learn my true nature, a nature which must be forever denied, thwarted and frustrated, a nature that had no place in my world.

"Yes?" I had asked, looking up from behind the reference desk. My heart had almost stopped beating. He was large, and supple. His hands and arms, long arms, seemed powerful. He was dressed in a dark business suit, with a tie. There seemed, however, something subtly awry with this vesture. He did not seem at ease somehow in this garment. There seemed something alien about him, something foreign. What startled me most about him at first, I think, was his eyes, and how they looked at me. I was not certain I could fathom such a look, but it had terrified me. It was almost, I had inexplicably felt, as though his eyes could see through my clothing. Perhaps, I thought, such a man has looked on many women, and would have difficulty in conjecturing the general nature of my most intimate lineaments. In that instant I had felt, in effect, naked before him. and then he had lifted his head and was glancing about the room, as thought he might understand my apprehension at being beneath a gaze such as him. "Yes?" I repeated, as pleasantly as I could, catching my breath. He looked back at me, swiftly, fiercely. He was not interested in my pretenses, my games. I quickly lowered my head, unable, somehow, to meet that gaze. It is difficult to explain this, but if you meet such a man, you will know it. Before such a man a female can suddenly feel herself nothing. Then I sensed him turning again to one side. Mercifully I knew he had freed me of his gaze. I lifted my eyes a little, but not so much as to risk, should he turn, encountering his.

"Have you Harper" s Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities?" he asked.

"Of course," I said, in relief. Suddenly our relationship became explicable and modular. "Its number is in the card catalog," I said.

I sensed him looking at me.

"You can fine the number for it in the card catalog," I told him.

He did not move toward the card catalog.

"Can you recognize it?" I asked.

He was silent. I sensed he might be becoming angry. Did he think I was going to wait on him?

"If you can recognize it," I said, "I can tell you where it is. It is down that aisle, and on the left, toward the end, on the bottom shelf."

"Show me," he said.

"I" m busy," I said.

"No, you are not," he said. To be sure, he was right. I was not really busy. Perhaps he had determined that before he had come to the desk. I had a distinct, uneasy sense, then, that he might be remembering, and keeping an account in some way, of my petty delays.

I rose from behind the desk. He stood back. I would precede him. That was appropriate, of course, as it was I who knew where the book was. To be sure, it made me uneasy to walk before him. No one, or hardly anyone, as far as I knew, incidentally, ever used that book or showed any interest in it. We learn of it, of course, in library science. It is a standard reference work in its area. I knew where it was, from shelf reading. Too, of course, I knew the general range of numbers within which it fell. Indeed, I had had to memorize such things for examinations. I preceded the fellow to the aisle, and down it. It seemed, somehow, now, that the shelves were close on both sides. The space between them seemed somehow narrower, and more wall-like, than usual. The library is well lit. I was very conscious of him behind me. I did not think he was a classics scholar. "Perhaps you want to look up something for a crossword puzzle." I said, lightly. Then I was afraid, again, doubtless foolishly, that he might be keeping an account of such things as my remark. Perhaps it had not pleased him. But what did it matter whether he was pleased or not?

"You are wearing a skirt," he said.

I stopped, frightened. I turned and looked at him, briefly. He was a quite large man anyway, but here, in this enclosed space, the shelves on each side, he seemed gigantic. I felt tiny before him. His bulk, somehow seemingly ungainly in that suit and tie, seemed to fill the space between the shelves. "Is the book here?" he asked. "No," I said. But I felt suddenly, and the thought frightened me, that he knew where the book was, that he knew very well where the book was. I then turned and continued down the aisle. In a moment I had reached its vicinity. I could see it there now, on the bottom shelf.

"It" s there," I said, "on the bottom shelf, that large book. You can see the title."

"Are you a female intellectual?" he asked.

"No," I said, hastily.

"But you are a librarian," he said.

"I am only a simple librarian," I said.

"You have probably read a great deal," he said.

"I have read a little," I said, uncertainly, uneasily.

"Perhaps you are the sort of woman who has read more than she has lived," he said.

"The book is on the bottom shelf," I said.

"But soon perhaps," he said, "books will be behind you."

"It is down there," I said, "on the shelf, on the bottom."

"Are you a modern woman?" he asked.

"Of course," I said. I did not know what else to say. In one sense, of course, I supposed this was terribly false.

"Yes," he said. "I can see that it is true. You are tight, and prissy." I made as though to leave, but his eyes held me where I was, immobile. It was almost as though I was held in place, standing there, before him, by a fixed collar, mounted on a horizontal rod, extending from a wall.

"Are you one of the modern women who are intent upon destroying me?" he asked. I regarded him, startled.

"Are you guilty of such crimes?" he asked.

"I do not know what you are talking about," I said, frightened.

He smiled. "Are you familiar with the book on the bottom shelf?" he asked.

"Not really," I said. It was a standard reference source, but in a limited area. I had never used it.

"There are several such books," he said, "but it is surely one of the finest." "I am sure it is a valuable, excellent reference work," I said.

"it tells of a world, very different from that in which you live," he said, "a world very much simpler, and more basic, a world more fundamental, and less hypocritical, and far fresher and cleaner, in its way, and more alive and wild than yours."

"Than mine?" I said. His voice, now that he spoke at length, seemed to have some trace of an accent. But I could not begin to place it.

"It is a world in which men and women stood closer to the fires of life," he said. "It was a world of tides and gods, of spears and Caesars, of games, and wreathes of laurel, of the clash, detectable for miles, of phalanxes, of the marchings of legions, in measured stride, of the long roads and the fortified camps, of the coming and going of the oared ships, of the pourings of offerings, wine and salt, and oil, into the sea."

I said nothing.

"And in such a world women such as you were bought and sold as slaves," he said. "That world is gone," I said.

"There is another, not unlike it, which exists," he said.

"That is absurd," I said.

"I have seen it," he said.

"The book is here," I said, "on the bottom shelf." I was trembling. I was terribly, frightened.

"Get it," he said.

I lowered myself to my knees. I drew out the book. I looked up at him. I was on my knees before him.

"Open it," he said.

I did so. Within it was a sheet of folded paper.

I opened the sheet of folded paper. On it was writing.

"Read it," he said.

"I am a slave," I read. Then I looked up. He had left. I leaned over, on my knees, bending far over, clutching the paper. I was giddy and faint. Then I looked up once more after him. The aisle was empty. I wondered if he would come back for me. Then I felt suddenly frightened, and ill, and hurried to the ladies" room.

3 The Library

I put the bells about my ankle.

It was dark now in the library, and it was past ten thirty. We had closed more than an hour ago.

The incident in the reference section, that in connection with Harper" s Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities, that in which I had been so frightened, had occurred more than three months ago. In that incident it seemed that I had found myself at the feet of a man. To be sure, it was merely that I was kneeling to draw forth a book. I was a librarian. I was only being helpful, surely. Too, it had seemed that I had, before him, aloud, confessed that I was a slave. But that was an absurd interpretation, surely, of what had occurred. I was only reading the paper I had found in the book. That was all. I had taken the paper home. The next day, after a troubled, restless night, and after hours of anxiety, misery and hesitation, I had suddenly, feverishly, burned it. Thus I had hoped to put it from me, but I knew the thing had happened, that the words had been said, and had had their meaning, that which they had had at the time, and not necessarily that which I might now fervently desire to ascribe to them, and to such a man. That the paper might be burned could not undo what was now transcribed in the reality of the world. The incident, as you might well imagine, had much disturbed me. For days it dominated my consciousness, obsessing me. Then, later, mercifully, when I gradually began to understand how foolish my fears were, I was able to return my attention to the important routines of my life, my duties in the library, my reading, my shopping, and so on. Once in a while, of course, the terrors and alarms of that incident, suddenly, unexpectedly, would rise up, flooding back upon me, but on the whole, I had, it seemed, forgotten about it. I rationally dismissed it, which was the healthy thing to do. The whole thing had been silly. Sometime I wondered if it had even happened. I would recall sometimes the eyes of the man. The thing that had perhaps most impressed me about him, aside from his size, his seeming vigor and formidableness, was his eyes. They had not seemed like the eyes of the men I knew. In them there had seemed an incredible intelligence, a savagery, an uncompromising ferocity. In those eyes, in that fierce gaze, I had been unable to detect reservations, inhibitions, hesitancies or guilt. He seemed to be the sort of man, and the only one of this sort I had ever met, who would do much what he pleased, and take what he wanted. He seemed to carry with him the right of power and lions. I had no doubt that he was totally my superior. There had been, however, I think, one explicit consequence, or residue, of that incident. I think it served, somehow, in some way, to trigger a resolve on my part to do something which for me, if not for other women, required great courage. It brought me to my lessons. For months before, I had toyed with the idea, or the fancy, or fantasy, the idea first having emerged after I had seen myself in the mirror on that incredible night in my room, of taking lessons in dance. I had almost died on the phone, making inquiries about these things, and more than once, suddenly blushing crimson, or, from the feel of it, I suppose so, had hung up the phone without identifying myself. I was not interested, of course, in such forms of dance as ballet or tap. I was interested in a form of dancing which was more basic, more fundamental, more female. The form of dance I was interested in, of course, and this doubtless accounted for my timidity, my hesitation and fear, was ethnic dance, or, if you prefer, to speak perhaps more straightforwardly, "belly dancing." Happily it was always women who answered the phone. I do not think I could have dared to speak to a man of this sort of thing. Like most modern women I was concerned to conceal my sexual needs. To reveal them would have been just too excruciatingly embarrassing. What woman would dare to reveal to a man that she wants to move, would dare to move, before those of his sex in so beautiful and exciting a manner, in a way that will drive them mad with the wanting of her, in a way that shows them that she, too, has powerful sexualneeds, and in her dance, as she presents and displays herself, striving to please them, that she wants them satisfied? Surely no virtuous woman. Surely only a despicable, sensuous slut, the helpless prisoner of her undignified and unworthy passions. In the end I called up the first woman, again, on whom I had, some days ago, hung up. "Have you done belly dancing before?" she asked. "Not really," I said. "You are a beginner?" she asked. "Yes," I said. I had not really thought much about it before, but it seemed there must then be various levels of this form of dance. I found that intriguing. "I understand it is good exercise," I said. "Yes," she said. "New classes begin Monday, in the afternoon and evening. Are you interested?" "Yes," I said. I had said, "Yes." That affirmation I think, did me a great deal of good. I had publicly admitted my interest in this sort of thing. Somehow that made things seem much simpler, much easier. If I had lost status in this admission, it had now been lost, and it was now no longer to be worried about. But the woman did not seem surprised, or offended or scandalized. "What is your name?" she asked. I gave her my name. I was committed. I had taken these lessons now for almost three months, and in more than one course of instruction. I kept my new form of exercise, or my new hobby, if you like, secret from those at the library, and those I knew. It would not do at all for them to know that I was studying ethnic dance. Let them think of me merely as Doreen, their co-worker or friend, the quiet reference librarian. It was not necessary for them to know that sometimes, when we utilized costumes, other than our leotards and scarves, that that quiet Doreen, barefoot, in anklets and bracelets, with whirling necklaces, with her midriff bared, sometimes with her thighs stripped, swirled in fringed halter and shimmering skirt, with tantalizing veils, to barbaric music. I think I was the best in my classes. My teacher, she also with whom I had spoken on the phone, proved to be an incredibly lovely woman. She seemed incredibly pleased with my progress. Often she would give me extra instruction. I was her star pupil. Often, too, she would call to my attention offers or engagements, at parties and clubs, and such. It was natural that she would e contacted with regard to such matters. I always refused to go, of course. "But you would be beautiful, and marvelous," she would encourage me. "No," I would laugh. "No! No! I would be terrible!" One or another of the other girls, then, would be contacted, and they would go. Several, I thought, were wonderful. Women are so beautiful, thusly. Never would I, however, have had the courage to dance publicly. Too, suppose someone had seem me, like that. To be sure my dance, whatever might have been its motivations, conscious or subconscious, did have various lovely accompanying effects. I found myself slimmer and trimmer than before, and more vital than before. Too, I think the dance served some purpose within me, thought I am not sure what it was. Perhaps it helped me get more in touch with my womanhood. To be sure, sometimes it made me sad, as if in some way it seemed incomplete, as though it were only part of a whole, a lovely part of a whole that was not fully available to me. "It would help, of course," my teacher said to me, "if you would perform. It is meant to be seen. You do not know what it is truly like until you have performed." "I would be afraid to perform," I said. "Why?" she asked. I put down my head, not wanting to speak. "Because there are men there?" she asked. I looked up. "Yes," I said. "Do you think these dances are for women?" she said. "That is their purpose." "Please," I protested. "And there would not be one man here, one real man," she said, "who, seeing you half naked in your jewelry and veils, would not want to put a chain on you, and own you." I looked at her, startled. "I see that such thoughts are not new to you," she smiled. "I thought not." How could she have known that I had had such thoughts? Could it be that she,too, had them, as she was a woman? I will recount one further anecdote from my lessons. It occurred yesterday evening. We were in class. We were dancing, twenty of us, in leotards, and shawls or scarves, to the music on the tape recorder. Then suddenly she said to us, scornfully. "What is wrong? You are dancing tonight like free women. You must improve that. You must dance like slaves."

"Like slaves," I said.

"Yes," she said. "Keep dancing, all of you!" In a moment, she said, "That" s better. That" s much better." She walked about, among us. Then she was before me. I was in the front row. "Keep dancing, Doreen," she said, warningly. I was then, for the moment, afraid of her. I kept dancing. "Imagine now," she said to me, "what it would be to do that before a man, Doreen. Suppose, now, there is a man present. He is a strong man. You are before him. Dance! Ah! Good! Good!" I gather I must have danced well. "Good," she said. "Very good. That is very good. Now you are dancing like a slave."

"I am not a slave," I protested.

"We are all slaves," she said, and walked away.

I smiled, hooking the scarlet halter before my belly and then turning it and putting my arms through the straps, pulling it up, adjusting it snugly into place. I am, like most women, amply, but medium-breasted. I ran my thumbs about the interior of my belt, adjusting the drape of the skirt. I have a narrow waist with, I think, sweetly wide hips. My legs were short but shapely, excellent I think for a dancer, or at least a dancer of the sort I was, an ethnic dancer. I put on armlets, bracelets and, opposite the bells on my left ankle, a goldenlike anklet on my right ankle. I put my necklaces about my neck, the five of them. With such an abundance of splendor I thought might strong men bedeck their women. I examined myself in the mirror in the ladies" room at the library. How amusing, and absurd, I thought that my teacher had said that we were slaves. I was ready.

I turned off the light in the ladies" room and emerged into the hall-like way between the interior wall, that enclosing the washrooms and part of the children" s section, and the openings between the shelves on the western side of the library. One of the doors to the children" s section was on the left. The information desk was on the right. I sometimes worked there. I stood for a moment in the hall-like way. It was dark in the library, quite dark. Then I went right, making my way along the hall-like way toward the open, central section of the library, where the information desk was, and there went left, toward the reference section. On my right were the card catalogs and then, later, the xerox machines. On one of the tables in the reference section I had left my small tape recorder. With it were some tapes which I had purchased. There were tapes of a sort suitable for ethnic dancing. I used them often for my private practice. Also, from time to time, I sometimes told myself it was because of the smallness of my apartment, I was in the habit of coming to the library, after hours, of course, to dance. I would let myself in through the staff entrance. This was on the lower level, near the parking lot. I enjoyed dancing here. I do not think, really, that this was all simply a matter of space. Perhaps it amused me to dance her, where I worked, I do not know. Perhaps I enjoyed the contrast, known only to me, between quiet Doreen, the librarian, and Doreen, the secret Doreen of my heart, the dancer, or far worse. Too, there seemed something meaningful, something rich and almost symbolic, perhaps even defiant, about dancing here, in this place where I worked, with its whispers, its sedateness, its cerebral pretensions, to dance here, in this place, as a woman. No, I do not think it was really all a matter of space. How startled my co-workers would have been if they could have seen me, Doreen, barefoot, half naked, belled and bangled, dancing, and such dancing, dancing almost as though she might be a slave! And so it was here, in this private, perfect place, that I presented, in effect, my secret performances, performances which I had, of course, determined to keep wholly to myself, performances which I would never permit anyone to see, here where no one would ever know, where no one would even suspect, here where I was absolutely alone, where I was perfectly secure and safe.

I moved, warming up, preparing my muscles. I was intent, and careful. A dancer, of course, does not simply begin to dance. That can be dangerous. She warms up. It is like an athlete warming up, I suppose. As I warmed up, I could hear the jewelry on me, the tiny sounds of the skirt. Bells, too, marked these movements. I was belled. These I had fastened, in three lines, they fastened on a single thong, about my left ankle. Men, I sensed, somehow, would relish an ornamented woman, perhaps even one who was shamefully belled.

I went to the table where rested the small recorder. I was excited, as I always was, somehow, before I danced. I picked up one tape, put it aside, and selected another. It was to that that I should dance.

Men had always, it seemed, at least since puberty, been more disturbing, and interesting and attractive to me than they should have been to a modern woman, or a real woman. They had always seemed far more important to me than they were really supposed to be. They were only men, I had been taught. But even so, they were men, even if that were all they were. I could never bring myself to think of them, really, as persons. To me they always seemed more meaningful, and virile, than that, even the men I knew. To me, in spite of their cowardice and weakness, they still seemed, in a way, men, or at least the promise of men. Beyond this, after that night, long ago, in my bedroom, that night in which I had admitted to myself my real nature, though I had denied it often enough since, my interest in me had been considerably deepened. After my confession to myself, kneeling before my vanity in the darkness of my room, they had suddenly become a thousand times more real and frightening to me. And this interest in them, and my sensitivity to them, and my awareness of them, had been deepened further, I think, in my experience with dance. I do not think this was simply a matter of a modest reduction in my weight and, connected with this, and the exercise, a noticeable improvement in my figure, helping me to a more felicitous and reassuring self-image, that of a female in clear, lovely contrast to a male, or the dance" s prosaic improvement of such things as my circulation, my body tone, and general health, though, to be sure, it is difficult for a woman to be healthy, truly healthy, and not be interested in men, but what was really important, rather, or especially important, I think, was the nature of the dance itself, the kind of dance it was. In this form of dance a woman becomes aware of the marvelous, profound complementaries of sexuality, that she, clearly, is the female, beautiful and desirable, and that they, watching her, being pleased, their eyes alit, strong and mighty, are different from her, that they are men, and that, in the order of nature, she, the female of their species, belongs to them. It is thus impossible for her, in this form of dance, not to become alertly, deeply, keenly aware of the opposite sex.

Do we truly belong to me, I asked myself. No, I laughed. No, of course not! How silly that is!

I inserted the tape in the recorder.

My finger hesitated over the button. But perhaps it is true, really, I thought. I shrugged. It seemed that men did not want us, or that men of the sort I knew did not want us. If they did want us why did they not take us, and make us theirs? I wondered, then, if there were a different sort of men, somewhere, the sort of men who might want us, truly, and take us, and make us theirs. Surely not. Men did not do what they wanted with women, never. Surely not! Nowhere! Nowhere! But I knew, of course, that men had, and commonly had, in thousands of places, for thousands of years, treated us, or some women, at least, perhaps luckless, unfortunate ones, exactly as they had pleased, holding them and keeping them, as no more than dogs and chattels. How horrifying, I thought. But surely men such as that no longer existed, and my recurrent longing for them, a needful, desperate longing, as I sometimes admitted to myself, must be no more than some pathetic, vestigial residue of a foregone era. Perhaps it was an odd, anachronistic inherited trait, a genetic relic, tragically perhaps, in my case, no longer congruent with its creature" s environment. I wondered if I had been born out of my time. Surely a woman such as I, I thought, might better have thrived in Thebes, or Rome, or Damascus. But I was real, and was as I was, in this time. Did this not suggest then that somewhere, somehow, there might be something answering to my yearnings, my hungers and cries? How was it that I should cry out in the darkness, if, truly, there were no one, anywhere, to hear? Be pleased there isn" t, little fool, I snapped to myself. Of course there wasn" t. I reassured myself. How terrifying it would be if there were. I decided I would now dance. I recalled that the man in the aisle, he in the incident which had taken place some three months ago, that in connection with Harper" s Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities, had spoken of a world like one long past, a world in which, as he had said, women such as myself were bought and sold as slaves. I dismissed the thought immediately from my mind. But I knew there was another reason I had come to the library to dance, one I had seldom admitted to myself. It was here, in this place, over there to my left, where I had found myself kneeling before a man, where I had found myself saying aloud, "I am a slave." I would now dance. I decided, as a pleasant fancy, that I would pretend something naughty, as I occasionally did, that I was truly a slave, on such a world, and that I was dancing before masters. Oh, I would dance well! The masters, as I dreamed of them, of course, and as they figured in my fancies, were not the men of Earth, or, at least, not men like most of those of Earth. No, they would be different. They would be quite different. They would be quite different. They would be such as before whom a girl could quite properly, and, indeed, perhaps even in fear of her life, realistically dance, and dance desperately, hoping to be found pleasing, or acceptable. They would be true men. They would be her masters.

I pressed the button on the tape recorder and there, in the darkness, in the library, my bare feet feeling the coarse piling of the thin, stained carpet, to the soft sounds of bells, those tied on my ankle, I danced. I danced for some time, lost in my delights, and I danced, or tried to, as would have, as I had planned, a mere slave, needful and fearful, before those who held over her the power of life and death, before her masters.

I cried out, suddenly, startled. I stopped, with a jangle of bells, and a swirl of skirt. I shrank back, my hand flung before my mouth. "Who are you?" I cried, to the figure standing in the shadows, some feet away, but I knew. I backed away, my hand at my breast. I was suddenly conscious, terribly, of my bare feet, of the bells on one ankle, the anklets on the other, of the nakedness of my legs with the swirling, veil-like skirt, of the bareness of my midriff, of my bared arms and shoulders, of the jewelry upon me. My breasts heaved, as I struggled for breath, within the scarlet halter which confined them. I put my hand out, as though to fend him away, backing yet further away. "Who are you!" I cried. "Do you think to play games with me?" he inquired.

"What are you doing here!" I cried.

"Can you not guess?" he asked.

"You have no business here," I said. "Go away!""My business brings me here," he said.

I looked wildly about me, and was going to turn, and flee, when I cried out, again. To my right there was another man. I spun about. Behind me, a few feet, and to my left, there was another!

The man who was to my right turned off the tape recorder.

I stood there, in swirling skirt and bells. Then suddenly I fled between the man before me and he on my right, running between the tables and toward the shelves. The fellow on the right, I think, came after me. I fled, with a jangle of bells, down the stairs, to the lower level. I yanked wildly on the heavy door there. I was terrified. I would run out into the night, even as I was. It did not budge. The handle seemed warm. The bolt area, too, was warm. I gasped. It was rippled. It had apparently been exposed to great heat, in a small area, and it had melted there, and then hardened. The door would not open. In effect, somehow it seemed welded shut. Hearing the men, or one of them behind me, I then fled to the others stairs, and thence upward again, to the main level of the library. I hurried toward the front entrance. The fellow whom I had first seen was now standing there, before the door. He looked at me. He slipped a small object into his pocket. That door, too, I thought wildly, is now sealed! Thusly they could close a door. Similarly, doubtless, with heat, they could as easily open one! There was a technology here which frightened me. I turned and fled back, again, toward the area where I had originally been surprised. The return desk was on my left, the information desk ahead and to my right. I turned suddenly to the left and fled down the hall-like way between the shelves and the washrooms. At the end of this I saw another man. I think he who had originally followed me. I turned to the left, to lock myself in the ladies" room, but the door hung awry on one hinge. I had not heard breakage. It must have done, again, with heat. The door was useless! I could not hide there! I cried out in misery. But then, too, I realized, suddenly, if I had hidden there I would have been trapped. They could open that door, surely, as easily as they opened and closed others. Why then had they set the door awry? With a sinking feeling I realized perhaps it had amused them, that it must have been merely to inform me that there was no place, really, to hide! Too, there seemed something symbolic in this. In my culture men could not enter the ladies" room. Its precincts were not permitted to them. It was a place where women could go, and be safe. But now, it seemed, that I had not even this symbolic security, this pathetic figment of a convention, to protect me. There was no place to hide! There was no place to be safe! These men, I feared, came from a place where perhaps no woman, or no woman of certain sorts, was fully safe. They came, I feared, from a place where they might follow a woman, or such a woman, anywhere, where they might pursue her anywhere, where they might go after her anywhere. I fled back down the hall-like way toward the information desk, stopping suddenly, with a jangle of bells, near the end of the hall-like way. I looked wildly about. I was fearful of precipitously flinging myself into the arms of a man. I threw a wild look over my shoulder. The fellow was approaching. I turned wildly right, toward the main doors again. Perhaps the first man, he I had first seen, he whom I knew, no longer blocked them! But he was still there! I cried out in misery and darted across the open space, past the information desk and the office, past the periodicals and into the reading area, toward the main-level porch, overlooking the lake. That door, too, was sealed. I tried to pick up one of the small armchairs, to smash through, and perhaps squeeze through, one of the high, narrow windows, but it was too heavy for me, and the man was now close behind me. Even if I could have lifted the chair he would have been upon me before I could have reached the glass. I darted back again toward the main section of the library. They were in no hurry, it seemed, to close in on me. They were letting me run, letting me learn perhaps, learn as a female, what it was to run. I fleetly crossed the open space of the central section of the library and ran up to the iron, iron-and-wood-banistered stairs to the upper level, where we keepbiographies and fiction. My bare feet sounded strange to me, striking on the surface of the stairs. I wondered if anyone had ever ascended them barefoot before, here, in this place. I suspected not. The corrugated surface of the stairs, too, felt strange on my feet. My soles stung at the top. Then I was again on carpeting. I fled down the aisle. I heard a man coming up, behind me, slowly. I hid between two of the shelves perpendicular to the main aisle. My ankle moved, slightly. There was the tiny sound of bells. They would know where I was! Again I must run! I leapt up, crying out, and fled again, irrationally, terrified, wildly, miserably, weeping, my every step again betrayed by bells, this time about the far end of the tiny side aisle between the shelves, away from the main aisle, away from where I thought the man would be. Then I hid again, between two shelves, and fumbled, feverishly in the darkness with the tie on my bells. I could do nothing with it in the darkness. I had belled myself well, I thought bitterly. I had belled myself as might have a slave, who knows that her bells must be on her tightly, firstly for psychological reasons, that she knows herself belled, and is conscious of all the erotic and humiliating richness of this, she, a belled animal, and secondly and thirdly, of course, for mechanical reasons, that they be responsive to her slightest movements, as in the slowest, subtlest portions of her dance, and will not slip, or come loose, in the more rapid portions of her dance, despite her swiftest gyrations. I wept. I could not free the bells. Even as I tried they would make their tiny sounds. I tried to remain absolutely still. I held them with both hands, trying to keep my ankle absolutely still. But I was breathing heavily. I could not help myself. Tears ran down my cheeks. Surely my breathing, if nothing else, would betray me. Too, in the tiny movements of my body, even in breathing, the bells would sometimes make a tiny sound. I looked up. there, at the opening to my side aisle, in the main aisle, tall in the darkness, looking down at me, loomed a man, one of the three whom I had seen, he, I think, who had followed me about so quietly and tenaciously, originally to the lower level, up again by the other stairs, down the hall-like way, across the open space, toward the porch area, back again across the open space, and now up the stairs. I leaped up and fled away from him, utilizing the narrow space at the edge of the porchlike upper level, between the safety bannister and the shelves, to the second stairs, on the east side of the upper level, leading down to the main floor. No one was there. I hurried down the stairs. I darted between tables, toward the first-floor shelves on the east side of the building, where we keep most of our reference materials. I heard him coming down the iron stairs behind me. I hurried into one of the aisles, between the reference shelves. I crouched down there, at the far end. I looked behind me. He had entered the aisle. With a cry of misery I leapt up and fled about the end of the shelving area turning wildly with a swirl of skirt and a jangle of bells into the adjacent aisle and was caught! He had apparently been waiting in this place. His hands were on my upper arms. I was held as helplessly as a child, I had literally, running, unable to stop, stumbling, with a cry of misery, struck against him. I had flung myself, it seemed, into his arms. He had thrust me back a bit, and now held me, helplessly, by the upper arms, his hands like iron on my arms, but inches from him. It was he whom I had encountered some three months ago in the library, he, of course, of the incident in the aisle, this very aisle, even, and in this very place in this aisle, that puzzling, frightening incident involving Harper" s Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities. Minutes ago, in terror, before running, I had recognized him. I had recognized him even before he had spoken. I had known him unmistakably in my woman" s heart, even in the darkness. I feared him terribly. Now Iwas in his grasp. He lifted me up a little, easily before him, so easily that I might have been a child. I squirmed, helpless. Only my toes, their very tips, could touch the carpet. He looked at me, peering into my eyes, his hands so tight on my arms. I began to tremble, and could not look at him, and was terrified and weak. He let me down, so that I might stand, but I could not do so. It was only his hands which kept me on my feet. The other man was now behind me. He then released my arms and I, weak and frightened, unable to help myself, sank to my knees before him.

"Look up," he said.

I did so.

"You know where you are, of course," he said.

"Yes," I said. I looked to my right. There, in the darkness, where I could reach out and touch it, on the bottom shelf, in its place, was Harper" s Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities. Probably it had not been moved since it had been replaces, months ago. I then looked up at him, again. I was in the same place where, months before, I had, in a very different reality, found myself on my knees before this man. Then, of course, I had been a helpful librarian, obedient, dutifully, to the instructions of an imperious patron. It had been a bright afternoon. I had been fully and modestly, clothed. I had worn simple, quiet, unostentatious, dignified garments. I had worn a long-sleeved blouse, a dark sweater, a plain skirt, dark stockings and low-heeled shoes. Indeed, in the dress code of the library, it was posted in the employees" room, where our lockers lined one wall, such garments were prescribed for us. But things were now much different. It was no longer a bright afternoon. It was now late at night. Others were not about. We were now alone, absolutely and frighteningly alone. I did not now kneel before him in a blouse, sweater and skirt. I now knelt before him, semi-nude, in jewelry and silk.

"Do you remember Harper" s Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"Do you remember the paper that was in the book?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"What did it say?" he asked.

"It said," I said, "I am a slave."

"Say the words," he said.

"I am a slave," I said.

He then reached down and took me by one arm, the left arm, and drew me to my feet and then pulled me beside him, down the aisle, toward the open part of the library, the northern part of it, near the reference desk. When we were there, he released me.

"Kneel," he said.

I then knelt there on the carpet. Without really thinking I smoothed the veil-like skirt about me, so that it was in an attractive, circular pattern. He smiled.

I looked down.

The third man was in this area, near one of the tables. On the table he had opened an attachA© case.

"Did you see me dance?" I asked.

"Look up," he said.

I did so.

"Yes," he said.

I looked down, miserable. It had been meant that no one would see me dance, especially as I had danced this night!

"But you stopped, and before the end of your dance, and without permission," he said. "Thus, you shall dance again."

I looked up at him, again, startled.

"And," he said, "this will be the first time you will dance knowingly before men."

"How could you know that I have never danced before men?" I asked.

"Do you think you have not been under surveillance," he asked, "that we do not know a great deal about you?"

"I cannot dance before men," I said.

He smiled.

"I will not!" I said.

"Get to you feet," he said.

I rose to my feet. The man near the table ran the tape back on the tape recorder.

"You will begin at the beginning," he said. "You will perform the entire dance, from beginning to end, for us."

"Please, no," I said. I could not stand the thought, the terrifying thought, of putting myself, in the beauty of the dance, before men such as these. I could not even dream of letting such men see me dance. It was utterly unthinkable. I had not even dared to show myself thusly to common men, to banal, safe, inoffensive, trivial, conquered men, men of the sort with whom I associated, men of the sort I knew. Who knew what they might think, how they might be tempted to act, what they might be prompted to do?

The man pushed the button on the tape recorder, and I danced.

The tape played for eleven minutes and seventeen seconds, its playing time. The piece was excellent, in its melodic lines, its moods, and shifts. It was one of my favorites. But never before had I danced to it in terror. Never before had I danced to it before men. Then it finished in a swirl and I spun and sank to my knees before them, my head down, my hands on my thighs, in a common ending position for such a dance. Never before, however, I think, had I been so suddenly and deeply struck with the meaning of this ending position, it following the beauty of the dance, its presentation of the dancer in a posture of submission.

"You were frightened," he said.

"Yes," I said.

He drew forth from his pocket a tiny, soft piece of cloth. He threw it to me, and I picked it up.

"Do you recognize it?" he asked.

"Yes," I said, in fear. It was a tiny garment which I had made for myself long ago, that which I had dared to wear only once, in the candlelit secrecy of my bedroom.

"Take off your clothes, and put it on," he said. "Leave the bells on your ankles. They help us keep track of you."

I looked at him, in protest.

"You may, of course, avail yourself of the privacy of your washroom," he said. I then walked between two men, the second and third man, to the ladies" room, and brushed aside the loose door. They waited outside, almost as though they might have some respect for my privacy. I turned on the light. I removed the jewelry, the ankles and necklaces, and such, I had worn. Then I reached behind my back and unhooked the scarlet halter, and slipped it from me. I looked at my breasts. In the tiny bit of scarlet silk they had given me to wear, their form, and loveliness, if they were lovely, would be in little doubt. I then slipped from the tights and skirt. I was naked, save for a leather thong on my left ankle, and bells. I felt strange, standing there in the ladies" room in the library, naked. Then I drew the small bit of silk over my head. They had obviously searched my room, perhaps ransacking it, and found it. They seemed to know a great deal about me. Perhaps they had thought it their business to learn about me. Perhaps there was little about me that they did not know. They knew even about that bit of silk, now on my body, one of my most closely guarded secrets.

I then turned off the light in the ladies" room and, to the small sound of bells on my ankle, returned to the central area.

"Stand there," said the man. I did. "Now, turn slowly before us," he said. I obeyed.

"Good," he said.

I looked at him.

"Kneel," he said.

I knelt.

"In your dance," he said, "you were frightened."

"Yes," I said.

"Still," he said, "it is clear that you are not without talent, indeed, perhaps even considerable talent."

I was silent.

"But it is also clear that you were holding back, that as a typical female of Earth, you would cheat men, that you would not give them all that you had to give. That sort of thing is now no longer permitted to you."

"a€”of Earth?" I said.

"Women look well in garments such as that you are wearing," he said. "They are appropriate for them."

Again I was silent. It was dark in the library, but not absolutely dark, of course. It was mostly a matter of shadows, and lighter places, of darker and lighter areas. Here where we were light came through the high, narrow windows to my left, from the moon, and from a street lamp, about a hundred feet away. It was near the western edge of the parking lot, by the sidewalk, fixed there, mainly, I suppose, to illuminate the street running at the side of the library. The front entrance is reached by a drive. It was spring. At that time I did not realize the significance of the time. The building was warm.

"Are you a "modern woman"?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. Again I did not know what else to say. He had asked me that question long ago, months ago, in the aisle, in our first encounter. I supposed it was true, in some sense.

"It is easy enough to take that from a woman," he said.

I looked at him, puzzled.

"Are you a female intellectual?" he asked.

"No," I said, as I had responded before, when he had asked the question long ago, in our first encounter.

"Yet in your personal library, that in your quarters, there are such books as Rosovtzeff" s History of the Ancient World and Mommsen" s History of Rome," he said. "Have you read them?"

"Yes," I said.

"They are now both out of print," he said.

"I brought them in a secondhand bookstore," I said. He had spoken of my "quarters," and not, say, of my "Rooms," or my "apartment." To me that seemed odd. Too, as he spoke now, at greater length, his accent, as it had once been before, was detectable. Still, however, I could not place it. I was sure his native tongue was not English. I did not know what his background might be. I had never encountered a man like him. I had not known they existed.

"Women such as you," he said, "use such books as cosmetics and ornaments, as mere intellectual adornments. They mean no more to you than your lipstick and eye shadow, than the baubles in your jewelry boxes. I despise women such as you."

I regarded him, frightened. I did not understand his hostility. He seemed to bear me some hatred, or some kind of woman he though I was, some hatred. I was afraid he did not wish to understand me. He seemed unwilling to recognize that there might be some delicacy and authenticity in my interest in these things, for their own value and beauty. To be sure, perhaps a bit of my motivation in their acquisition had been from vanity, but, yet, I was sure that there had been something genuine there, too. There must have been!

"Did you lean anything from the books?" he asked.

"I think so," I said.

"Did you learn the worlds of which they speak?" he asked.

"A little about them," I said.

"Perhaps it will do you some good," he mused.

"I do not understand," I said.

"But such books," he said, "are now behind you."

"I do not understand," I said.

"You will no longer need them where you are going," he said.

"I do not understand," I said.

"Such things will no longer be a part of your life," he said. "Your life is not going to be quite different."

"I do not understand," I said, frightened. "What are you talking about?" "You are doubtless the sort of female who has intellectual pretensions," he said.

I was silent.

"Do you think you are intelligent?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"You are not," he said.

I was silent.

"But you do, doubtless, have some form of intelligence," he said, "in your small, nasty way."

I looked up at him, angrily.

"And you will need every bit of it, I assure you," he said, "just to stay alive."

I looked at him, frightened.

"Hateful slut," he said.

I squirmed under his epithet. I was conscious of the light silk on my body. The bells on my ankle, jangled.

"Yes," he said, regarding me, "you are a modern woman, one with intellectual pretensions. I see it now, certainly, one of those modern women who desire to destroy men."

"I don" t know what you" re talking about," I said.

"But there are ways of treating, and handling, women such as you," he said, "ways of rendering them not only absolutely harmless, but, better still, exquisitely useful and delicious."

"I don" t know what you" re talking about!" I protested.

"Do not lie to me," he snarled.

I put down my head, miserable. The bells on my ankle moved.

"Your garment is an interesting one," he said. "It well reveals you." I looked up at him, frightened.

"To be sure," he said, "it is a bit more ample than is necessary, not as snug as it might be, not cut as high at the thighs as it might be, not cut as deeply at the neck as it might be, and, surely, as I determined earlier, it is insufficiently diaphanous."

I looked up at him.

"Take it off," he said.

Numbly I pulled the tiny garment over my head and put it beside me on the carpet.

"It may be a long time," he said, "before you are again permitted a garment." I trembled, naked.

The third man went to the table, that on which rested the attachA© case. He removed an object from the case. I gasped in terror. He handed it to the man in front of me. It was a whip. It had a single, stout, coiled lash.

"What do you think your name was?" he asked.

"Doreen," I said. "Doreen Williamson!" That had seemed a strange way to inquire my name, surely. Too, they knew so much about me. They must have known my name. What did he mean then, "What did I think my name was?"

"Well, Doreen," he said, "do you still remember Harper" s Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities?"

"Yes," I said. The way he had said my name somehow alarmed me. It was almost as though that name might not be mine, really. It was almost as though he had simply, perhaps, primarily as a convenience for himself, decided to call me that, if only for the time.

"Fetch it," he said.

I looked at the whip. I leap to my feet, in a jangle of bells, and hurried to the place where the book was. In a moment I had it and had returned, and, holding the book, knelt again before him.

"Kiss it," he said.

I did so.

"Put it down," he said, "to the side."

I did so.

He then held the whip before me. "Kiss the whip," he said.

I did so.

"Kiss my feet," he said. I put my head down, frightened, the palms of my hands on the carpet, and kissed his feet. I then straightened up, and knelt back on my heels.

"Put your hands, palms down, on your thighs," he said.

I obeyed.

"Apparently you do have some intelligence," he said. "Now put your knees apart." "Please, no!" I said.

"Perhaps I was wrong," he mused.

Swiftly I put my knees apart.

"Perhaps you will survive," he mused.

He then nodded to the fellow on his left. To my horror the fellow went again to the attachA© case and this time brought out coils of chain. I could not see well in the half darkness what it was. Then he was behind me. To my horror I felt a metal collar locked about my neck. It was a very sturdy metal collar. It had, apparently, an attachment, or ring, of some sort, I supposed, in the back, and to this attachment, or ring, the long chain was attached. The fellow behind me must have held it mostly coiled in his hand. The collar encircled my neck closely. I touched it, frightened. I put my finger inside the rim of the implacable encirclement. There was only a half inch or so between its metal and my throat. I felt its weight on the attachment, or ring. I was leashed. I wore a chain leash. I was terrified. Perhaps no one can conjecture my feelings, truly, who has not been, too, the helpless prisoner of such a device.

"Slut," he said.

"Yes," I said.

"Are you a virgin?" he asked.

"I see," I said. "I am to be raped."

"Perhaps," he said.

"Your question is personal," I said. Then I felt the metal chain at the back of the collar jerk upward, savagely. The collar cut at the back of my neck, and was tight under my chin. I held my head as far down against the collar as I could, in spite of the additional tightening this effected under my chin, that I might relieve the pressure of its lower rim against my throat. This also forced me to lower my head, submissively. I was half choked. I was unable to speak. I was terrified. I no longer knelt on my heels. I had not been jerked up, off them. Then the collar was suddenly, angrily, turned on my throat, relieving the pressure on my carotid artery, and jerked downward. My head and neck followed it. The long chain was then thrown back between my legs and I felt my ankles crossed and a proximate part of the chain wrapped about them. I was thus held, bent over, my head low, my neck in the collar, kneeling. I strained to look up, lifting my eyes. To my terror I saw the man before me uncoil the whip. "I am a virgin," I whispered. "I am a virgin!" He made a sign and the chain was unwrapped from my ankles and the collar turned again on my neck. I was then jerked backward, half choked, but with the pressure substantially high on my neck, under the chin, doubtless by intent, and then lay before them on the low-piled coarse carpet, so muchly trodden by our library patrons.

"Split your legs," he said.

I did so, obediently.

In spite of my terror, I felt incredibly alive doing this, obeying him. He crouched near me. He put the whip on the rug.

"You are a virgin?" he asked.

"Yes!" I said.

"Are you lying?" he asked.

"No!" I said.

"If you are lying," he said, "you will be whipped."

I looked at him, from my back. I could not begin to understand a man who was so strong. How absurd it seemed! Did he not know that women could do anything with impunity, that no matter what we did, even if it were to bring about the destruction of a man" s manhood and the ruination of his life, we were never punished? And yet this man seemed ready to punish me for so little as a lie, or perhaps for something as insignificant as simply not being fully pleasing to him! What sort of man was this? It was almost as though he were not a man of Earth! How had he managed to escape his weakening? Has he, somehow, not been suitably trained and conditioned? How different he seemed from a man of Earth! Was he one of the rare men of Earth, I wondered, who had seen through the debilitating and demeaning hoaxes of his society, who had cast forth from him, like poisons from his body, the unnatural and pathological conditioning programs to which he had been subjected?

"Do you understand?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"I wonder if you really do," he said.

My lip trembled.

"You might perhaps think of lying now to a man," he said, "but I assure you, my dear, the time will come when you would be terrified to even think of lying to a man."

I was silent.

"Hold still," he said.

I tensed.

"This will only take a moment," he said. "I will be extremely gentle." I pulled back a bit.

But he was gently, extremely gentle.

"Is she a virgin?" asked one of the men standing nearby, the third man, he near the table on which rested the attachA© case.

"Yes," said the man beside me.

I blushed, hotly.

The fellow near the attachA© case then turned to it, and seemed to sort through some objects within it. Then he found one and placed it on the table. I do not know if I could have told what it was, in the shadows, had I been standing. Lying as I was, of course, I probably could not, from my position, have seen what it was even had the room been as light as it had been long ago, some three months ago, on that bright afternoon when I had for the first time to my knowledge found myself under the eyes of my current captor. Whatever it was, it did not seem large. It made a metal sound when placed on the table.

"Are you going to rape me now?" I whispered.

"No," he said.

"No?" I asked.

"No," he said.

"Why not?" I asked.

"You are a virgin," he said.

"I don" t understand," I said.

He smiled.

"But if you are not going to rape me," I said, "what is this about?" "Get on your knees," he said, standing up.

I rose again to my knees, with a small sound of bells, the chain leash on my neck.

He seemed a bit angry. The other two men, too, he near the attachA© case, and he who held my leash, his fist now close to the back of my neck, seemed somewhat angry. I gather they had not been particularly pleased to learn that I was a virgin. Had it not been for that I gathered they would have seem to it that I pleased them muchly.

"If I am not to be raped," I said, "I do not understand what is going on. What is this all about?"

"Have no fear," said the man, "eventually, in your new life, you will be well and frequently raped. Indeed, your life, in effect, will be one of rape." "My new life?" I said. "I do not understand what is going on."

"She is stupid," said the man behind me, he controlling my leash, allowing me so little tether on it.

"No," said the man before me. "She has her tiny spark of intelligence, nasty, petty and small though it might be, which, hopefully, may perhaps facilitate her survival. It is just that these things, now, are beyond her ken."

"I do not understand," I said.

"Can you not guess, cuddly beauty?" he asked.

"No," I said.

"Remember, long ago," he said, "when we first met, and we spoke of an ancient, beautiful world?"

"Yes," I said.

"A world in which women such as you," he said, "were bought and sold as slaves?" "Yes," I said, uneasily.

"Perhaps you remember saying that that world was gone," he said.

"Yes," I said.

"And perhaps, too," he said, "you may remember me remarking that there was another, not unlike it, which exists."

"Yes," I said.

"You said that that was absurd, as I recall," he said.

"Yes," I said. "And it is absurd!"

I felt the man" s hand tighten a little in the chain. This made me more conscious of the collar on my neck.

"Do you recall what I said then?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. I shuddered.

"What?" he asked.

"That you had seen it," I said.

"It is true," he said.

"You are mad!" I said.

"And you, too, will see it, my dear," he said.

"That is absurd!" I said. "You are mad! You are mad!"

He reached down and picked up the whip.

"You must learn deference to males," he said, "absolute deference to males." I shrank back. But he was coiling the whip. Then with a butt clip and a blade clip, he put it on his belt. I almost fainted.

"There is no such place!" I said.

"I was born there," he said, "as were my fellows."

"There is no such place on Earth!" I said.

"That is true," he said.

"What are you saying?" I gasped. "Who are you?"

"I am Teibar," he said. "My colleagues are Hercon, to your right, and Taurog, behind you, who holds your chain."

"I do not understand such names," I said. They did not even sound like the names of men of Earth!

"I suppose they are unfamiliar to you," he said. "They are not found here, or at least, I suppose, not frequently."

"Here?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, "on Earth."

"I don" t understand," I said.

"I speak of a world which is not Earth," he said.

"Another world?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"Another planet?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"But you are human, surely," I said, "some sort of human, though perhaps of a different sort from those to whom I am accustomed."

"You fear that I am an alien?" he asked.

"Yes," I whispered.

"In one sense it is true that I, from your point of view, am an alien," he said, "the sense in which I have come from a different world. In another senses, however, I am not an alien, as I am identically a member of your own species." I looked at him.

"My ancestors came from Earth," he said, "rather as yours came from Europe. Have no fear. I am every bit as human as you."

"I see," I said.

"And that is why I am so dangerous to you," he said, "because I am a member of your own species, because I understand you, because I know how you think, because I am familiar with your nasty little mine and emotions, your slyness, your pettinesses, your selfishness, your stupid little tricks, everything about you, and what you are."

"And this world of which you speak," I whispered, "supposing it exists, it is like, in some ways, the other world, the vanished world, of which we spoke?" "Yes," he said.

"Is it like it in one way in particular," I asked.

"It is like it in many ways," he said, seemingly amused. "Do you have anything particular in mind?"

"It is a worlda€”" I asked.

"Yes?" he said.

"Is it a world in which women such as I," I asked, "are bought and sold as slaves?"

"Yes," he said.

"What are you going to do with me?" I asked.

"Can you not guess?" he asked.

I leaped upward but, cruelly, instantly, with an expert turn and throw of the leash, I was thrown twisting, gasping and choking, to my belly on the rug. I was startled with how excellently, how easily, how smoothly, and with such little thought this had apparently been done. I had been utterly helpless, like something of no account in Taurog" s control. I felt his heel on my back. it pressed me cruelly down on the rug. The collar was on my abraded neck. Some links of its chain lay beside my throat. I lifted my head as I could.

The fellow before me made a sign and Taurog removed his heel from my back. I could still feel its print there. I was frightened. I could feel the rough, flattened coarseness of the carpet beneath me. I noted the difference between the feel of it, from lying upon it on my back, before, and as I did now, on my stomach. It had seemed plain, hard and scratchy to my back, a suitable surface, I supposed, on which a girl" s virginity might be tested, but as I lay on my stomach, to my softness, to my breasts and belly, to my thighs, it seemed oddly different. I was now much more conscious of it, the irregularities of its surface, the tiny, abrupt roughnesses, where a shoe might have moved the pile. I had walked upon that carpet thousands of times. Never before, however, had I lain on it, on my stomach, naked.

"Kneel," said my captor.

I struggled to my knees. My body was still sensitive to the feel of the rug. Taurog had not been gentle with me. I could still feel the print of his heel on my back. I gathered that I was not the sort of thing to which gentleness need be shown.

I looked at my captor.

"It might interest you to know that you have been on our list for some time," he said.

"List?" I said.

"Yes," he said, "lists, actually. You have been on our scouting list for a year, on our consideration list for six months, and on our active list for some three months."

"I am not a slave!" I cried.

Slowly the man approached me and I shrank back. Then he took me by the upper arms and pulled me up, from my knees, before him, until I was half standing. "On the contrary," he said, "my hateful little charmer, you are. I assure you of it. There is not the least doubt about the matter. We know our work. To a practiced eye, a discerning eye, one which is trained to look for, and recognize, such things, you are obviously a slave. The suitable condition for a woman such as you is perfectly clear, deny it and squirm though you might."

"No, no," I whimpered, turning my head away from him.

"Do you think I cannot recognize slaves?" he asked. "It is my business." I moaned.

He shook me, and my head snapped back, and I cried out with misery.

"Look at me," he said.

I did so, terrified.

"I, like many others," he said, "can recognize slaves, and, have no fear, I have recognized you as one."

"No, I whimpered, not wanting to look at him.

"Look at me," he said.

Again I looked at him, terrified.

"It is in your eyes," he said.

"No," I wept.

"Even months ago," he said, "when I looked into your eyes, when you sat in those silly garments, behind that foolish desk, I saw that you, beneath all that cotton and wool, were a naked slave."

"No," I wept.

"And I look into them now," he said, "and see that it is true." "No, no, no!" I wept, turning my head away. I dared not meet those fierce eyes which so frightened me, which seemed somehow to look through me, burning through me like fire, bringing unwelcome, frightening torches to my secret darkness, penetrating to my deepest and most closely guarded secrets, to what lay in the most secret belly and heart of me.

"Shall I have you dance again, before men?" he asked.

"No," I said. "No!"

"Do not fear," he said, "you will dance again before them, and dance as you have never dreamed a woman could dance before men!"

"No!" I wept. "No, no!"

He released me, and I subsided weakly to my knees before him. It seems that one could do little but kneel before such a man. Then, angrily, he thrust silk in my mouth, my own, that which he had made me take off earlier. I was silenced. "On all fours," he said.

I went to all fours before him. A loop of the chain leash hung down by my neck, to the right, a foot or so, and then lopped up to its attachment. I could feel its weight. It turned the collar a little to the right.

The men then spoke for a few moments among themselves. I could not understand the language. It seemed expressive, and highly inflected.

The leader turned to me. I saw him remove the whip from his belt. I put my head down. I bit into the silk, holding it in my mouth. I knew I could not remove it without their permission. He had put it in there. I saw the blade of the whip shake free. I began to tremble. I whimpered, the silk in my mouth. I whimpered that I not be beaten.

"You understand the whip, don" t you slut?" he asked.

I whimpered, plaintively, pleadingly.

"That is one of the few things a little animal like you clearly understands," he mused.

I whimpered.

"Look at her," said Teibar, my captor, to his man, Taurog, he holding my leash, "she has never felt it, but she senses what it might be like to feel it, what it could do to her."

"Yes," said Taurog.

"But then," said Teibar, "I suppose that all females understand the whip, or if they are stupid, and do not, they may be brought swiftly enough to its proper understanding."

"Yes," said Taurog.

I then felt the blade of the whip move lightly upon my back. I shuddered. I wanted to scream, but I could only whimper, plaintively. The whip, it seemed to me, strangely enough, somehow, was not a stranger to me. I seemed to know it. I wondered, wildly, if I had felt it in former lives. Something about it seemed almost a terrifying memory. Could I be remembering it, I wondered, from a sunlit shelf in Memphis, from a patio in Athens, from a post in Rome or a ring, cords on my wrists, in a women" s quarters in Bokara, Basra, Samarkand or Bagdad? Had I felt it before, somewhere, or in many places, and never, even through a succession of lives, forgotten it? No, I told myself, that would be quite unlikely. On the other hand, I had little doubt that many women in the past, in such places, and in thousands of others, had had their behavior corrected with perfection by just such instruments and their kin, such as the switch, the strap, the bastinado. There was something in me, however, which seemed to know the whip, and terribly feared it. I suppose that this might have been an effect only of the startling alarms of my imagination, they informing me with some vividness as to what it might be to feel its stroke, but I suspect, really, that there was more involved. I suspect that there was a kinship of sorts between myself and the whip, that we were perhaps, in some sense, made for one another, that even if I never felt it I recognized it as having something authoritative, and intimate and important, to do with me, and what, in my heart, I secretly was.

I felt the lash brushing my back, twice more. It seemed to do so thoughtfully, meditatively. I whimpered, biting on the wet silk. Tears fell from my eyes to the carpet. I whimpered, tiny, begging sounds, pleading for mercy. It did not matter to him. I was sure, that I was a modern woman in the Twentieth Century. I might as well have been, as far as he cared, only a curvaceous, beautiful barbarian servant in Epidaurus, or, in the keeping of Crusaders, or in the tents of Mongols, a Persian dancing girl. He was literally considering beating me. What we all had in common was that we were women. Similarly I had not the least doubt that if he wished to beat me, he would do so. He was fully capable, I sensed, of doing whatever he might wish to me, and with perfection.

"No, little slut," he said, removing the whip and replacing it on his belt, "it will be better later."

I shook with relief. I sobbed with relief. I was not to be beaten! I was not to be beaten! Then suddenly I shuddered. I wondered what he might possibly have meant, "that it would be better later."

I looked up at him.

"You delicious, meaningless, sly, viscous, hateful thing," he snarled. I could not understand his animosity, his seeming hatred of me.

"Take her out of my sight," he said to Taurog, "lest I be tempted to kill her."

"Come, little slut," said Taurog. He moved beside me, and then ahead of me, and I felt the pressure of the interior of the collar at the back of my neck, on the left, and the tug of the chain. The collar had now, in response to his movements, shifted on my neck. It was apparently not a ring where the chain was attached but, it now seemed, some sort of fixed-position, heavy, welded-in metal staple. This device, to which the chain was attached, where it now exerted its force, was now under my jaw, to my right. I followed Taurog now, on all fours, the silk stuffed in my mouth. He pulled me back behind the xerox machines, where the sight of me would not offend Teibar. There, with his foot, first against my arms and hands, then against my knees and thighs, brushing them outward, toward the extremities in both cases, he let me know his will with respect to my limbs. I went first to my elbows, and then to my belly. I do not think Taurog spoke much English. He had, however, conveyed his intent to me. I realized, lying there on the cool surface, it is a composition surface in that area, on my belly, naked, among the machines, that it is not always necessary to understand a man" s language to obey him, or for him to command you. I heard Teibar speaking to Hercon, and then Hercon left for somewhere, as I later found out to gather up my things from the ladies" room. Teibar himself whim I thought of as my personal, and most meaningful, captor, stayed in the vicinity of the table, that on which the attachA© case rested. I thought I heard him moving some things about there.

In a short while Hercon returned to the vicinity of the table. A moment later, Teibar said something, apparently to Taurog.

Taurog jerked the chain upward, twice, gently. It was little more than a sound of links, and only the slightest pressures, twice, on the attachment. It was a signal to me.

Taurog made a sound of approval as I rose immediately to all fours. He then led me back tot he table on which the attachA© case rested, where Teibar, whom I feared mostly, my chief captor, waited.

I saw a pile of my things there on the carpet, the dancer" s costume, my purse, my clothes, those I had worn to the library, and such, near the table. That had been I supposed a result of Hercon" s brief absence. He was now back. Taurog said something to Teibar.

"Taurog," said Teibar, looking down at me, "is pleased with you. He thinks you may have an instinctive understanding of chain signals."

I could not speak, the wet silk in my mouth. I could only look up at him. "It is possible," he said, "You are a woman."

I looked up at him, angrily.

He then removed a small object from his pocket. I think I had seen it before, near the front doors of the library, when I had seen him there, and had fled back, away from him. He pointed it at the pile of clothing, and diverse articles. A line of light, causing me to pull back, crying out, half blinded, burned forth from the object. When I could see, I saw that the rug was gone there, and that, about, there were only ashes.

"There is this other thing," said Hercon, lifting the tape recorder. Doubtless the tapes were near it.

"Leave it, and its musics," said Teibar. "Let those who come upon it ponder its meaning."

Hercon replaced the recorder on its table.

I was trembling. I had seen what had become of the clothing, and such, on the floor. I was not familiar with the technology these men had at their disposal. It seemed, however, powerful, and sophisticated. Oddly enough, it did not seem congenial to the type of world of which he had spoken. Could it be that on that world such devices were not permitted? I saw the small object pointed at me. I shook my head, wildly, whimpering, biting on the silk, tears in my eyes. I knew its burning line, that intense beam or blade, could divide me, fluids hissing, boiling, in an instant. "You understand what we could do, if we wished, don" t you?" he asked. I nodded vigorously, affirmatively, tears in my eyes. Then he returned it to his pocket. I collapsed to the rug, unable to bear my own weight. "Put her on the table," he said.

Taurog reached down and picked me up, lightly, and put me on my back, on the table, near the attachA© case. The men pushed chairs back, so that they might stand about the table.

I looked up at Teibar, terrified. He drew the silk from my mouth.

"Please," I wept.

"Were you given permission to speak?" he asked.

"No," I whispered.

"Perhaps I do not wish to hear you speak," he said. He was opening, and then smoothing out, and folding the bit of wet silk I had had thrust in my mouth. It was then in a soft, damp, layered, folded form some six or seven inches square. He put it beside me, beside my left hip.

"May I speak?" I asked. I then realized that no gag was needed to silence me. It could be done to me as simply and effectively by the will, or mere whim, of men such as there. By such men I could be silenced by a mere word, or a gesture or glance.

"Remove her bells," he said to Hercon. "Anklet her. The virgin anklet." "Please," I said.

"Very well," he said.

"What is this all about?" I begged. "What are you going to do with me, really?" I felt Hercon" s strong fingers working the thong on my left ankle. I heard the rustle of bells.

"Who are you?" I demanded.

"Teibar," he said.

I moved my head in frustration. The collar, so close, and heavy, and confining, was on my neck. I heard the movement of the chain, behind me, where it dangled over the edge of the table.

"But what are you?" I begged.

"Human," he said, "as are you, in your petty, nasty way."

"Why do you hate me?" I asked.

"Because of what you are, and what you would do to men," he said.

"What?" I asked.

"Destroy them," he said.

"I am not going to destroy men," I said.

"I know," he said, "now."

"I don" t understand!" I wept.

Then I felt the bells removed from my ankle. Hercon handed them to Teibar, who placed them, on their thong, on the soft, damp silk beside me.

"Why are you doing this?" I asked. "What are you, really!"

"I am a businessman," he said.

"What is your business?" I asked, plaintively.

"I am an exporter," he said.

I then felt a sturdy metal anklet closed about my left ankle, where the bells had been. It snapped shut. I had no doubt it locked. I gathered there might be different sorts of such anklets. This one, I had gathered, was a "virgin anklet."

"What do you export?" I asked.

"Women," he said.

I reared up on the table, but, by the hair, with a rattle of the chain on my collar, was pulled back onto it, on my back.

"Lie still," he said.

I saw Hercon lift up, and shake out, a large, folded leather sack. It was heavy, dark, long, and narrow. It had straps, and a lock, at one end.

"I have prepared the mask, and solution," he said to Hercon.

I strained to see the sack. Hercon was now folding it three times, and placing it on the table.

"You will be placed in that, head first, gagged, and bound, hand and foot," said Teibar, "but, even if you were not bound, it would be very difficult for you, because of the tightness and narrowness of the sack, to do more than wiggle a little."

I tried to rise up but a conical, stiff, rubberized mask was thrust over my nose and mouth, and, by means of it, I was pushed back on the table. Taurog held my wrists, pinning me back on the table" s surface. Hercon held my ankles. I struggled. My eyes must have been wild over the mask. Teibar poured some fluid from a small bottle into an opening, or through a porous mesh, at the apex of the mask. He held it firmly over my nose and mouth.

"Steady, steady, little slut," said Teibar, soothingly. "There is no use to struggle. Your struggles will avail you not in the least."

I tried to fight the mask but I could not. I was held. I was held, helplessly. My strength, that of a woman, was nothing to theirs, that of men. I wondered what might be the meaning of that, in a natural world.

"Breathe deeply," said Teibar.

I tried to move my head, but, because of the tightness of the mask, over my nose and mouth, and how he held it on me, pressing it down upon me, I could not. I tried to hold my breath. I felt a drop of liquid, and then a trickle of liquid, run on the bridge of my nose, and then its way down my right cheek.

"Breathe deeply," said Teibar, soothingly.

I fought to hold my breath.

Hercon said something.

"Come now," said Teibar, to me, "you are disappointing Hercon." I looked up at him, wildly.

"Breathe deeply," he said. "You do not wish to disappoint Hercon. Taurog too, was so proud of you. You would not wish to disappoint him, too, would you? Not after you did so well, in the matter of the chain. The time will come, I assure you, when you will be extremely concerned that you not disappoint men in any way, in the least."

I sudden coughed, half choking, in the mask. I gasped in air, plaintively, eagerly, desperately, in those tiny, hot confines. There was a closeness, an oppressiveness within them.

"Good," said Teibar. "Now, breathe slowly, regularly, deeply."

I looked up at him over the tight rubber rim of the mask.

"Surely you understand that resistance is useless," he said.

I sobbed. My eyes were bright with tears. I breathed in, deeply.

"Good," said Teibar. "Good."

It seemed there was a kind of heaviness inside the mask. It was not a strangling sensation and then, with my first gasp for air, an obliteration of consciousness, almost like a blow. This was quite different. It was patient, slow and gentle. I breathed in and out, deeply, slowly, regularly, in misery. Too, of course, it would be relentless and implacable.

"Good," said Teibar.

Hercon released my ankles. I sluggishly, groggily, moved my feet. I felt the anklet with my right foot, and tried weakly to push it from my ankle, but, of course, it was useless. It only hurt the side of my right foot a little, and the inside of my left ankle. it was on me. I could not remove it. It was there, on me, until someone else, not me, might want it off. I was "ankleted," whatever that meant.

"Breathe deeply," said Teibar. "Good. Good."

Taurog released my wrists. He put my hands at my sides. I could not lift them. "Deeply, deeply," said Teibar, soothingly.

I felt a key thrust into the lock on the collar I wore. It was then removed from me. I was dimly conscious of Taurog coiling the chain and replacing it in the attachA© case.

"Struggle now, if you wish," said Teibar, "slut."

But I could scarcely move. I could not raise my arms. I could not even bring my hands to the mask, and had I been able to do so, I would have been too weak to push it away. About the peripheries of my vision it seemed dark. It was hot under the tight mask. I felt another drop of liquid within the mask.

"You are ours now, "modern woman,"" said Teibar.

But I scarcely heard him, or understood him. I supposed, in some sense, I was a "modern woman." I remembered, vaguely, that Teibar had said, earlier, that that could be taken away from me. I did not doubt it. Then I lost consciousness.

4 The Whip

I screamed suddenly under it awakening under it startled not believing it not expecting it the suddenness it was like lightning the cracking sound like the sky breaking the snap like fire my body wrenching I pulling upwards the chain on my neck I fell to my side I pulled at the chain then the snap again no no please no so sharp so loud the fire the pain I screamed I was naked the chain cut my neck "Kneel," he snarled, "head to the floor," I sobbing obeyed. "So," said he, "the modern woman under the whip."

I trembled, kneeling, my head down, the palms of my hands on the floor. "Now, slut," said he, "your power is gone, all of it, that mistakenly given to you by foolish men."

I moaned, bent over, small before him, in a position of obeisance to his manhood, in pain.

"Look up," he said. "Kneel, kneel straightly. Put your hands on your thighs. Head up. Split your knees. More widely, slut!"

I obeyed.

I was then kneeling before him, straightly, my head up, my hands on my thighs, my knees widely spread, the chain from my collar dangling down before me, between my breasts, I could feel it on my body, and going back, between my knees, to a ring. I was terrified. I thought I must be mad. My body was in pain. There seemed something different here. The air was different, a thousand times, it seemed, cleaner and fresher. I had never known such air existed to be breathed. It made me feel somehow charged and alive. The whip seemed still, hot and terrible, to burn on my body. And something else was different, too, something subtle, something I supposed I might quickly become accustomed to, but that now frightened me, terribly, in its implications. Literally the world had a different feel. Its gravity preposterously enough, seemed less than that with which I was familiar. I dismissed this from my mind as some sort of confusion, or illusion. But I knew that I was in pain, sharp, miserable pain, fiery, burning pain, put on me by a man, and that that was real. Too, I knew I knelt before a man. That, too, was real. I was an educated, civilized woman, a modern woman, I supposed, in some sense, but I found myself kneeling before a man! Too, this startling me, this strangely affecting me, it seemed that this was somehow appropriate for me, that it was rightful for me, that it was where I belonged. I felt incredibly alive, and rightful there. Too, he had whipped me awake. What did that mean? What must be my nature here, then, I wondered, or my condition or status, in this place, that I could be so awakened? Though I was an educated, refined, civilized woman, a contemporary woman, a modern woman, I supposed, in some sense, I had been awakened by a whip! I had felt the lash!

"Where am I?" I begged.

"On my world," he said, simply.

"Please do not lie to me," I begged.

"Interesting," he said. "Are you accusing a man of lying to you?" He shook out the whip" s coil.

"No," I said. "No!" I understood then that sexuality was important in this place, wherever it was, and that we were not of the same sex.

"Ah, I see," he said. "Of course. You are merely still simple, and naA?ve. Yes, I suppose it would be hard for you to believe, particularly with your banal, sly, limited, intelligence, my delicious, nasty, little animal." To my relief he recoiled the whip.

"Your world?" I said.

"Your life is going to be different now," he said, "quite different, dramatically different in a number of ways."

"Your world?" I begged.

"Yes," he said.

"Another planet?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"You do not seriously ask me to believe that, do you?" I asked.

He shrugged.

"Really!" I said.

"Can you not detect a difference in the atmosphere?" he asked. "Is it so difficult to detect? Too, can you not, really, at least now, more importantly, sense differences in the gravitational field?"

I shuddered.

"I see that you can," he said.

"I am now truly on another planet?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

I felt faint. For a moment everything seemed to go dark. I wavered. In my heart I knew that what he was saying, incredible though it might seem, despite the startling enormity of it, was true.

"You have many adjustments to make, my pretty little animal," he said. I looked at him.

"And there is no escape for you," he said, "from this world, You are here to stay. It is now your world, as well as mine. You are going to be here, and live on its terms, and exactly so, my modern woman, my hateful little charmer, for the rest of your life."

"Please, no!" I said.

"Put your hands, clasped, behind the back of your head, and put your head back," he said.

I did so.

"Farther back," he said.

I put my head farther back.

"Please," I said. "Please!"

He walked about me. "It is here that sluts such as you belong," he said.I shuddered, feeling the coils of the whip move on my stomach.

"Yes," he said, coming around in front of me again, "I think you will do very nicely."

"Do?" I said.

"You may resume your original position," he said.

I returned then to my former position, with my hands on my thighs.

I knelt before Teibar, who had captured me on Earth, making me his prisoner after hours in the very library where I had worked. He was clad now in a tunic. I did not understand this, but it seemed to fit in well with the plain room in which I was confined. That garment, so simple, so physically freeing, so attractive, I supposed, might be congenial to this world, as it had been to several of the worlds of Earth. I suspected it was not untypical of this world. He had strong arms, and strong legs. I was even uneasy looking at him in such a garment. I knew that I had found him physically disturbing, and deeply and profoundly so, even on Earth, and had felt helpless and weak before him, but now those feelings, now that I saw him as he was on his own world, so splendid and powerful, so uncompromising, so fierce, so vital, so masculine, masculine like no man I had ever seen, or had known could exist, seemed multiplied a thousand times. It was like a lion before me, a lion whose teeth could rend me, whose paw, with a blow, could break my neck. And I was chained within his reach!

He was regarding me.

I dared not meet his eyes directly. I saw the whip in his hand. Men on this world, I suspected, were not patient with women, or at least women such as I. "What is to be done with me, on this world?" I asked.

"You are not wearing clothes," he said, as though he might be just noticing this.

"No," I said.

"You are chained by the neck," he said.

"Yes," I said.

"I think it must be obvious," he said.

I shuddered. I wondered what it might be like, to be a female on a world like this, or the sort of female I was, on a world like this, where, unlike Earth, men had not been weakened.

"You are afraid, aren" t you, slut?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"Good," he said. "That is as it should be. And you have every right to be afraid, I assure you, even, indeed, far more afraid than you can even begin to understand now."

I shuddered.

"It is amusing, " he said, "to consider how the nature of your life is going to change."

"Were many women brought here?" I asked.

"In your shipment," he said, "one hundred. You were the hundredth." "That seems a great many," I whispered.

"I do not gather them all, of course," he said. "There are others engaged in these enterprises, as well. The captures are brought together from various places, one from here, one from there, this attracting little attention." "From various countries?" I asked. "America, England, France, Germany, Denmark, China, Japan?"

"Yes," he said. "But your shipment was largely regional."

"Is it difficult to «gather» these girls?" I asked.

"No," he said, "they are trapped more easily than the small animals you call rabbits. Consider your own case."

"Do your people do this sort of thing regularly?" I asked. "We have our schedules," he said.

"Are there other groups engaged in this sort of thing?" I asked.

"I think so," he said, "But I know little about them."

"I was the hundredth?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

" I was saved for last?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"That was your doing?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"I have asked for a transfer to other duties," he said, musingly, regarding me. "It is thus possible that you may be the last female I will bring her from your world. To be sure, I will doubtless capture other women from time to time, here on my world, women native to my world, and perhaps, from time to time, Earth girls who have been brought here earlier."

"But you chose me for your last catch," I said.

"Yes," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

He smiled, fingering the coils of the whip.

"Surely you could have taken others," I said.

"Yes," he said.

"But you did not," I said.

"No," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

He did not respond.

"There is something different or special about me, somehow, from your point of view, isn" t there?" I said. I had sensed this from the first.

"I did wish to make my last catch a particularly delicious one," he said. "I do not understand," I said.

"Do not underestimate yourself, and your desirability as a female animal," he said.

"I am too short," I said. "I am too meaty. I am not tall, spare and willowy." "Do not be stupid," he said.

"Am I attractive?" I asked.

"Certainly," he said. "You are superbly cuddly slut. Do you think I would get my pay if I did not bring in first-class females?" I then realized that the tastes of men here might run more to the natural female, sweet and cuddly, and marvelous, than the stereotypes of beauty on my own world. In a sense I was moved with pleasure to learn this. In another sense I was terrified. Here I then understood I might find myself desired, and sought, and hunted, perhaps even as an animal, exquisitely delectable female quarry.

"But even so," I said, "perhaps you found something, or thought there was something, different or special about me?"

"I find you personally," he said, "quite desirable, even excruciatingly attractive."

I shrank back in the chain. How could he speak so openly of sexual matters? Too, I was afraid, as a female, found of interest, before him.

"But, yes," he said, "beyond such things you are special to me." "In what way?" I asked.

"In your capture there is something symbolic," he said. "It is thus fitting that you be what might be my last capture of a female of your world."

"You seem to hate me," I said.

"Yes," he said, "I do."

"Why?" I asked.

"You are a modern woman," he said, "and, as such, you represent a perversion of humanity, a pernicious and wanton perversion, one maliciously deleterious to the centralities of human sexuality, both of the male and female, and thus on literally inimical not only to the quality but, ultimately, to the very future of the human species."

I looked at him, startled.

"You are a modern woman," he said, "and would destroy men."

"No!" I said.

"But you will not, I assure you," he said, "destroy men here, Modern Woman. Here, rather, you will serve them fully, and fearfully, and delectably, and to the utmost of your abilities."

"I am not a modern woman," I said. "I have never, in my heart, been a modern woman. In my heart I am a primitive woman, one who has been bred upon from the time of caves, an ancient woman, a needful, loving woman! I was an alien, and sorrowful, and lost, and miserable, in my world as you were!"

"Liar!" he cried. He snapped the whip in fury, and I shrank back, startled by its sound and threat, before him. "You are so clever, you lying slut!" he hissed. "You are so quick, so cunning, so dangerous!"

"Please," I said.

"But I see through your tiny tricks!"

"Why do you think I am a modern woman, in some sense you despise," I asked, "because I can speak clearly, because I can think, because I have read a book? Do you not think that true women, loving, needful women, can do these things? Do you not think that what you can love, they, too, can love?"

"They demean such things," he said, "using them as baubles and adornments." I wept.

"Perhaps those little adornments, those little vanity devices," he said, "will make you more amusing, and interesting, in your collar."

"My collar?" I asked, aghast.

"Have you not seen what is being done to men on your world?" he asked. I was silent.

"If you are not active in such matters," he said, "what have you done to reverse them?"

I was silent.

"You are thus, at the least, an abettor, or accomplice, in such crimes," he said.

"No!" I said.

"Thus, if only by tacit consent, you, too, are guilty of them," he said. "No!" I protested.

"What do you think of the men of your world?" he asked.

"I despise them! They are weaklings!" I cried, suddenly. They deserve to have us take their world from them, to be thrust aside with words and writs, to be superseded by contrived legalities, to be relegated by statutes and slogans to the peripheries of power, to become trammeled, and crippled, as they are advised, as they are castrated, to become nothing, to be deprived of their pride and strength, and thus even of the potentiality of their unused manhood, to take our orders, to obey us!"

"Your position, I take it," he said, "is motivated by your hatred, jealousy and envy of men?"

"I do not think so," I said. "I do not want to be a man. I want to be a woman. My anger, my frustration, is motivated, I think, not by their manhood, and that I am not a man, as seems to be the case almost universally with the women you despise, if we can believe physicians in the matter, but rather by their lack of manhood, which denies me as well as them, which keeps me form being a full woman."

"You are a clever slut, in your small way," he said. "I never doubted it. How cunningly you would turn things! But I am not deceived by your petty tricks. You envy men, and not being one, would try to destroy them."

"No!" I said.

"Yes," he said, "you are a modern woman, and would, like others, if you could, destroy men. I find you, and others like you, guilty, and grievously guilty, guilty of crimes against the very future of the human race on your world. Here you will discover, however, that men, the men of my world, are not inclined to find this sort of thing acceptable. You will learn here, I fear, that they do not see fit to tolerate such intentions and attempts."

I trembled.

"Here," he said, "my young, lovely, charming pretentious slut, you are going to learn what it is to be a woman, truly. Here, too, by my intent, I having brought you here, it pleasing me, you will in a lifetime of beauty, degradation and service pay for your crimes. Here, modern woman, your being a modern woman will be taken from you. You will henceforth be another sort of woman."

I looked up at him, frightened.

"We will revenge the men of Earth," he said.

I put down my head, terrified. I supposed, in some senses, I had been a modern woman, and that I was, in some sense, guilty of crimes. I had little doubt I would be punished. Men would doubtless have their vengeances upon me.

I looked up at my captor.

He had brought me to his place, at least in part, it seemed, out of just such a sense of fittingness, out of just such a sense of rightfulness and justice. "Good morning, Miss Williamson," he said.

"Good morning," I whispered. As he had used my name I was not at all sure it was really mine. It had sounded different, somehow. I suddenly feared that I might have any name, almost like a dog.

How incredibly attractive he was to me! How weak he made me feel!

I thought that I was, as human beings went, quite intelligent, but before this man, before such a man, I sensed that my intelligence was as nothing. I sensed, as I had long before, in the library, that he, in his power, intelligence and maleness, was totally my superior, indeed, that I could at best be little more than an animal at his feet.

"Hold still," he said. He crouched before me, the whip in his hand. "What are you going to do?" I asked.

"Position," said he. I readjusted my position, improving it, kneeling, back on my heels, my back straight, my hands on my thighs, my knees spread.

"What are you going to do?" I asked. My body could still feel, dimly, the hot marks of the lash.

"Put your head down," he said. "Farther back."

I was then looking, in effect, at the beams and plaster of the ceiling. "This is a test," he said.

"Ai!" I cried, suddenly, recoiling, jerking back, falling on my side, in a rattle of chain. I was then at the end of the chain, away from him, it taut from the ring, it holding my head forward. I could withdraw no further. I put my knees together, tightly. I put my hands over them. I looked at him in horror. "Good," he said. "It is as I thought."

I could not believe what he had done.

"You are alive," he said, coiling the blade back against the staff. "I had thought you would be. Your body, its curves, suggests a rich abundance of female hormones. Such will put you, of course, more at the mercy of men."

The touch had been totally unexpected.

"Beast!" I said. "Beast!"

The touch had been gently, but it had been purposeful. Apparently it had told him what he wanted to know.

"Beast!" I wept.

I had not realized what he was going to do. I had not had an opportunity to prepare myself for the touch, to perhaps steel myself into inertness. I was then suddenly fearful. What is such men simply did not permit a woman to steel herself into inertness, what if it were literally incumbent upon her to feel, and irreservedly, perhaps even under the threat of discipline, of fierce punishment, or worse, in all her hot, sweet, vulnerable openness? As it was, taken unawares, I had been forced to show myself, and before this beast, this lion of a man, responsive. I blushed red, hotly.

He stood up. "Return here, and kneel," he said, "and as you were before." He indicated the spot, gesturing with the whip, near the ring, where I had knelt. He shook out the blade of the whip.

I hurried, crawling, to the spot, and knelt there, as I had before.

He looked down at me.

"Make me pay," I whispered.

"What?" he said.

"I am ready," I whispered.

He smiled.

"I am naked before you," I said. "I am on a chain. You have aroused me. You have made me show myself responsive. You have taken all pride from me. You despise me. You hate me. I gather that I am to be made to pay for my crimes, that men here will make me pay for them, for being a modern woman. I am ready to pay. Make me pay."

"On your back," he said. "Throw your legs apart." Tears in my eyes, I obeyed. "The modern woman," he smiled, "on her back."

"Where I belong!" I said.

"Or on your stomach," he smiled, "or kneeling, bent over, or in any one of a thousand postures of submission and service."

I shuddered, understanding the sorts of things that might be required of me, and even routinely, on this world.

I closed my eyes. I feared I might swoon at his least touch. I had never met anyone who remotely compared with him. I had not even known such men could exist. To such a man I knew that I, even with all my refinement, education and intelligence, could never be more than a dog, a panting bitch, at his feet. He had ever spoken of a "collar." What could he have meant?

I opened my eyes.

"Do you beg?" he asked.

"Would you make me beg?" I cried.

"Yes," he said.

"Very well," I wept. "I beg!"

"The modern woman begs," he smiled.

"I beg," I said. "I am not longer a modern woman."

"Oh, yes," he smiled, "you are still a modern woman, as of now. But, in time, you will no longer be one. In time, that will be taken from you."

"I beg!" I said. "I beg!"

"Surely you have forgotten something," he said.

"What?" I asked, in misery.

"You are a virgin," he said.

I looked at him, wildly, tears in my eyes.

"Kneel, as you were before, slut," he said.

"Beast!" I wept. "Beast!" But I crept to my knees, and knelt before him, as I had been commanded. I was shaking. Tears fell from my eyes. He had had no intention of having me. My virginity, somehow, seemed a factor in this. I wondered what this, really, could have to do with anything. Had it not been for that I think I would, even in the library, by such a man, have been put to lengthy uses. Muchly I suspected would I have been forced to pleasure him, and doubtless Taurog and Hercon, as well.

"Beast!" I wept.

"I am leaving," he said.

I looked up, frightened.

"It was only that I wished to see you before I left, and how you might look, here, a chain on your neck, hateful, charming slut, in a waiting room.""A waiting room?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "They will be coming for you shortly. You will have a busy morning. Others are already being processed."

"Processed?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. He then turned away from me.

"Wait!" I cried.

He turned about, again to regard me.

I thought desperately. I wanted to keep him with me. "Are all women awakened here," I asked, "by the whip?" My body was still sore from the blows. "No," he said, "of course not. It was merely that I thought it might be informative and salubrious for you to be awakened thusly, that you might then, from the beginning, obtain an inkling as to what, for you, was to be the nature of your new world."

I regarded him, aghast.

"Have no fear," he said. "Such things, if ever, is rarely done. As you may well imagine, it tends to interfere with a woman" s sleep."

"With her beauty sleep?" I said, ironically.

"In a way, that is quite true," he said. "Good rest is important to her, for her loveliness, her alertness and service. It is the same with other domestic animals."

I looked at him, angrily.

"Most of your beatings will occur, at any rate, I assure you, when you are fully awake."

"Beatings?" I asked.

"A hazard of what is to be your condition," he said.

"An occupational hazard?" I inquired.

"The condition is not an occupation," he said. "An occupation is not something you are, but something you do. Too, you might change an occupation. Your condition, on the other hand, in the sense I have in mind, is not what you do, but what you are. Similarly, you will be totally unable to change your condition. You will be absolutely powerless to alter, influence or change it in any way whatsoever. Once it is imposed upon you it will then be something which you, quite simply, and categorically, are. To be sure, susceptibility to the beatings of which I spoke, similarly to an occupational hazard, in its way, is an inevitable concomitant of what will be your condition. The frequency and nature of these beatings, of course, will probably depend much on you. If you are not pleasing, you will doubtless be beaten, and well. If you are pleasing, and perfectly so, you may or may not be beaten."

I looked at him, trying to understand what was being said to me. I did know, of course, I could be beaten. I had already felt the lash. I was not eager to feel it again.

"What is wrong?" he asked.

"I do not understand what you are saying," I said.

"Oh?" he asked.

I put my hands on the chain that attached me by the neck to the ring in the floor. "I do not understand what I am doing here," I said. "What is going to be done with me?"

"You mean, immediately?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"You" re going to be branded," he said, "and put in a collar." I regarded him with disbelief.

"But so, too, will the other girls," he said. "You will have your brands and collars."

I could not speak.

"Such things are prescribed by merchant law," he said.

"This," I whispered, frightened, "is then truly a world such as that of which you spoke, a world in which women such as I are bought and sold as slaves?" "Position," he said.

Immediately, I released the chain and knelt as I had before, back straight, back on my heels, my hands on my thighs, my knees spread.

"Yes," he said.

"And that is the fate you have decided for me," I said, "that I be a slave." "Yes," he said.

I was silent.

"It will be amusing, from time to time, to think of you in exacting and perfect bondage, where you belong, so right for you, striving desperately to please masters, for fear of your very life, my delectable, hateful slut." "That is why you did not take my virginity," I said, "because you had this fate in store for me?"

"Yes," he said.

"My virginity could affect my price?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"It is if I were an animal," I said.

"Soon," he said, "you will be an animal, in full legality."

"You captured me," I said, poutingly. "My virginity belongs to you. It is yours, truly."

"I do not want it," he said.

I looked at him, startled.

"I give it to whoever buys you, and welcome," he said.

I bit my lip, to keep from crying out in anger.

"Against my will I find you extremely attractive," he said, "even infuriatingly so. Indeed, I must put you from my mind. Soon I will forget you. Soon you will be only another number, another entry in my records. But it is you I find attractive, and not some meaningless part of you. What is the virginity of a hateful modern woman, a despicable slut like yourself, really worth? Nothing. It is worthless. Oh, it might be amusing, as an act of imperious arrogance, to take it from you, to rend it, to be the first to force you apart, to be the first to open you for the uses of men, but it is even more amusing to show you my disdain for the worthless bit of fragile, temporary tissue by which you set such grand and unnatural store, and leave its fate to the lotteries of markets, and to whoever makes the successful bid on you. Let it go to him, whoever he is, who first buys you."

I clenched my fists on my thighs. I sobbed. I wept.

"It is thus," he said, "I show my contempt for you."

I looked up at him.

"Charming," he said.

I sobbed.

"But it is not I, but others," he said, "who will put your charms to use." "Do not leave me," I begged.

But he had gone.

I lay down on the floor. I pulled my legs up. After a time I heard the voices of me outside the door. I did not understand their language. They were coming for me.

5 Training

"Eat!" said the man. My face was thrust down, into the trough, half into the moist gruel. His hand was in my hair. I feared for a moment I might suffocate. I pressed my face down into the gruel. I opened my mouth. With my teeth and lips, and tongue, desperately scraping, scooping, pulling, licking, biting, pushing down, moving my head, I tried to get as much into my mouth as I could. My head was then pulled up, and held back, by the hair. I swallowed what I had in my mouth. It was not easy to swallow it. I knelt before a wooden feeding trough, with other girls. The man crouched beside me. My eyes were closed. Gruel was upon my face and in my hair. he then threw my head forward again, over the wooden rim of the trough, and pushed my face down again, deeply, submerging it, to the ears, in the gruel. Again I struggled to get as much as I could into my mouth. Then his hand left my hair and I lifted my head from the moist substance. I blinked, gruel upon my face, its particles like wet, unmelting snow on my eyelashes. He had gone further down the line. I struggled to swallow what I had in my mouth. I pulled a little, weakly, at the light, lovely manacles which confined my wrists behind my back. I looked at the other girls, to my right. They, too, were similarly manacled. We were not yet permitted to use our hands in feeding. I looked to my left, and made certain that the man was not watching. I then bend down and tried to wipe my closed eyes and face on the wooden edge of the trough. He was not treating everyone as he had treated me. I had received special attentions in this matter. That had to do with something which had happened earlier. I looked to the girl to my right, a blonde. She put her head down, again, to the trough, her wrists linked behind her, like mine, in those lovely feminine confinements, little more than two lock rings and a tiny span of gleaming chain. We were all naked. It was easy to tell, however, which of us were virgins, for the virgins, like myself, wore the "iron belt." Its horizontal portion, like an iron oval, would close about my waist, and the vertical portion, like a «U», hinged in front to the horizontal portion, flattened, shaped and slotted at its center, would swing up between my legs and there it flattened, laterally slotted end, like a hasp, would be placed over the staple on the left side, already over this staple, and secured there, behind my back, with a heavy, dangling padlock. There was little danger I would be penetrated while wearing this device. The girl to my right did not wear it. She had already been "opened for the uses of men," as it is said here. She was thus free, of course, for the uses of the guards, who did not fail to avail themselves of their privileges. Once she had been dragged forth from her kennel, down several from mine, to the right, and they, so eager were they, such men, to have her, that they had not even seen fit to wait until they had pulled her on her leash to their own quarters. I pretended not to watch. But later, after they were finished, and had returned her to her own kennel, and I was alone, I wept, so aroused I was. I did not know if she were from Earth, and if so, from what part of it, or if she were of this world. We are almost never permitted to speak during the feeding period. When she had been used before my kennel she had been under "gag law," as is common when the guards use a girl, forbidden speech, save for moans and whimpers. I had understood many of the commands given to her, of course. I had begun to learn this language. I looked at her. It was possible she was of this world. Men here, I had learned, were every bit as ready, and as prompt, to put their own females to their purposes as the females of Earth. Our origins made no difference in these matters. What was important was what we had in common, our sex, simply that we were females. To be sure, the girls here from this world regarded themselves as immeasurably superior to us, those of Earth, and perhaps the men did, too, in some sense, but, as far as I could tell,that made their chains no lighter, nor the blows they received any the less severe. Some men, of course, many men even, seemed to find women of Earth of special interest, and treated them with particular harshness. Teibar, who had captured me, I think, was such a man. Others, however, seemed to prefer visiting these abuses on the women of their own world. Others, which made sense to me, seemed to think in terms of the individual woman. I think it would be true, however, to say that generally, aside from people" s opinions as to the proper sort of treatment for us, we did not have the same «standing» as the women of this world. More often than they, for example, we would be put in earrings, which here is regarded, interestingly enough, as an almost consummate degradation of a woman. similarly, another indication of our status here is that, occasionally, one of our names, an Earth-girl name, would be bestowed on a girl of this world, as a punishment, usually a temporary one, indicating that she was now to be regarded as one of the lowest of the low. I had now been branded, a small, graceful mark burned into my left thigh, high, under the hip. It had a vertical bar, a rather strict one, with two curling, frondlike extensions, rather near its base, as though in submission to it. It looked a little like a "K." That was mine. There were variations on this theme. Some of the other girls had similar brands, but, in one respect or another, somewhat different. There were other sorts of brands, too, but the «K-type» brand was the most common. Most of these brands, of whatever sort, were on the left thigh, as mine was, near the hip. On my neck, also, there was now a flat, narrow steel collar. It was close-fitting. I could not remove it. It was locked there. It was not uncomfortable. I seldom even though about it, but it was there.

I looked to my left. The fellow who had thrust my face into the gruel was looking in my direction. Quickly I put my face back into the trough, thrusting it into the moist gruel. Feeding time was almost over. I did not care for the gruel much, as it was tasteless and flat. I ate it, however, as it was incumbent upon me to do so. Too, I was hungry, and it was undeniably nourishing. It, like other aspects of our diet, the fruits and vegetables, and the cylindrical pellets we were given, seemed intended to slim our bodies and bring us to a peak state of health. The gruel was appropriate enough for us, I supposed. It was clearly a form of animal feed.

I sneaked a look to my left, and, frightened, saw that the man was coming in my direction. Swiftly I thrust my face back into the trough and addressed myself to the gruel. I sensed he would now be behind me. I ate quickly, and well. I then heard the gone sound, which signified the end of the feeding period. Immediately I withdrew my head from the trough and knelt back on my heels, my back straight, looking straightly ahead. When the gone sounds the girl stops eating immediately, and assumes this position. Obedience is to be instantaneous. I heard the man moving away. Yes, he had been behind me. I breathed more easily. I was now eating quite well. They did not have any more trouble with me on that score, not now.

A week ago I had, not because I wanted to starve, or die, as some of the Earth girls in my group had proclaimed hysterically in their own cases, and not even because I was trying to be difficult, really, I had refused to eat. I had done this, I think, as an experiment, as much as anything else. I had wondered what they would do. Too, I think I was trying to find out the limitations within which I was functioning, what I might be able to do, and might not be able to do. I wanted to know the nature and extent, and the existence or nonexistence, of the discipline to which I might be liable. I wanted to know something about the boundaries of my world. I was trying to find out where the fences were, the location of the walls. I found out. There had been seven of us involved in this matter. Our leader was a short, plump blonde who had been a political columnist for a small suburban newspaper on the northeast coast of the United States. She had been a political-science major in college. We were taken immediately in hand, all seven of us. Three of us, our leader and her two chief cohorts, were immediately kenneled, publicly, in the feeding area. The rest of us were tied on low "perches," also in the feeding area, at one wall, platforms fitted with «T» beams, a ring in the back of the «T» beam. Such things are often found in such houses, like rings and posts, commonly being used for purposes of display and discipline. Our ankles were put in leather shackles, behind the vertical post. Our arms were hooked over the horizontal post and fastened in front of us with straps and leather manacles, which buckled shut. Our heads were then pulled back and, by our hair tied about the ring behind the post, held painfully in this position. Narrow tubes were then brought, with plungers. These, to our dismay and discomfort, and horror, were thrust down out throat to our stomach. These tubes were inserted through heavy leather balls put in our mouths. We could not close our mouths or bite on the tubes because of these obstructions. Food was then forced into our stomachs. The tubes were then withdrawn. We could not rid ourselves of the food, even had we wished to do so. Our hands were secured. We looked at one another. Some of the girls had tears of helpless frustration in their eyes. If the men chose not to permit it, they could not even starve themselves. In my eyes, however, I think, was something less like helpless rage and defeat than reassurance, wonder and respect. I was pleased to learn, terrible though it may sound, how strong these men were, and how, with them, I was totally helpless. None of us requested a second demonstration of their power. We went quickly enough to the trough after that. The other three who had been kenneled were not fed. Soon the two cohorts were begging to be fed. It seems that, truly, they had no wish to die. Too, it was clear the men would simply permit them to do so, if they wished. After some two days the two cohorts, piteous and pleading, were drawn forth and permitted, when it was the feeding period, and not before, to feed. The leader, then, too, the blonde, begged to be fed. They kept her in starvation three more days. Then they put her in a tiny cage, where she could not exercise, and could scarcely move, and, heavily, abundantly, every two hours, using the tube and ball, and the cruel plunger, using rich foods and creams, which she could not taste because of the tube, forced-fed here. Soon her corpulence became pathetic. She was then removed from our midst. Some men, we were told, like such women. She was being readied for the "Tahari trade," we were told. This seemed to amuse the girls from this world who were amongst us. The Earth girls, like myself, however, did not understand the allusion.

The gong sounded again and we rose up, and turned toward the door.

When I came to the door a whip was lowered in front of me. In that moment the line paused. Swiftly I moved to the side, and knelt, my back straight, my knees wide. The line continued on its way. I had been removed from it by the whip. The padlock behind the small of my back made a tiny sound as, dangling, it moved against the "U"-shaped bar, fastened up, between my legs. I adjusted my position, carefully. I knelt before a man. The whip was held toward me, and I kissed it, deferentially, and then drew back my head.

"Your lessons have proceeded well, Doreen," he said.

That was now my name, "Doreen," only that, simply "Doreen," nothing more. I looked up at him.

"Quite well," he said.

I could understand him. To be sure, my grasp of this language still left much to be desired. There were still many words, even common words, I did not know, and sometimes I could not follow even elementary constructions. I think, however, all things considered, that it could not be gainsaid that my progress in it had been remarkable. I was the quickest of my Earth sisters in this respect. All of us, however, I thought, were doing extremely well. This was not simply because of the frequency and intensiveness of our lessons, and our finding ourselves in an environment where this language, it seemed, was simply, or primarily, spoken, but because of our motivation. We strove to learn it. We were desperately eager to learn it. We had learned that not only the quality and nature of our life on this world, but perhaps our very survival, could be contingent on our success in understanding and speaking this language. Too, we were often accorded private instructresses. These girls, though collared, and doubtless branded, as we were, wore brief tunics, which put them immeasurably above us. How we envied them! Too, they carried long, supple leather quirts. These they used on us when not satisfied with our responses, or progress. I had been quirted, but not often. My usual instructress was "Tina," the name which she had been given on this world. I do not know what her original name had been. she had once been from Pittsburgh. I think she was a good instructress, and she had helped me much. A part of my success, I am sure, was due to her. She was supposed to be one of the best instructresses. They had assigned her to me. She was exacting. More than once I had felt her quirt. The instructresses, of course, had their own report lines. If their charges did not do well they, themselves, were held responsible. I recalled seeing one of the instructresses stripped and whipped because the skill levels of her charge were judged insufficient. After that, for better than a week, she was permitted only a half tunic. She began, then, to use two hands on her quirt. Almost immediately her pupil improved her performances considerably. When the instructress had been stripped I had seen that she, like the rest of us, was branded. Her brand, too, was one of the «K-type» brands. It was somewhat different from mine, but it was clearly of the same sort. I do not know what the nature of Tina" s brand was, as I never saw it, but I am sure it was there, probably high on the left thigh, like mine, beneath that brief skirt. There was no difficulty, of course, in seeing the collar on her neck. That was visible to anyone. It was probably one of the «K-type» brands. They seemed to be the most common brand, at least of those I had seen. The lessons of which the man had spoken were not all linguistic, of course. I had also received lessons in the proper performance of domestic sevilities, such as cooking, sewing, laundering, cleaning, and such. Other lessons were almost lessons in customs, manners and decorum. For example, we were taught how to serve at a table, deferentially, skillfully, unobtrusively and, for the most part, silently, and how to move and walk, and kneel and rise, gracefully, and even such tiny, interesting things, as how to pick up a fallen object, by crouching down, retrieving it, rather than bending over. we were being taught, it seemed, to be graceful and beautiful. Too, of course, we were taught our place, and proper relations with men. A significant portion of our training was intimate and erotic, or sexual and sensual, in nature, ranging from such things as make-up, body ornamentation, cosmetics and perfumes, to techniques, psychological and physical, usually a combination of both, of pleasing men. In the latter range of our studies some of the girls were even instructed in the rudiments of what, perhaps for lack of a better word, might be described, using the Earth expression, as "ethnic dance." It did not surprise me that the men of this world, who seemed to have such a lust for, and such a relish for, and appreciationof females, would command such a dance of them. I gathered this form of dance was quite common here and that it might be required of any female, or any female of our sort. Interestingly enough I had had only two days of this sort of instruction before I was stopped, and sent from the room, to be applied to other lessons. I was told that my skills in these matters, as they had now ascertained, and confirming reports on my "papers," or "records," were already far beyond the rudiments that I would obtain in such a class. I was simply dismissed from the class, to address myself to other lessons; I had, so to speak, "validated that requirement."

I put my head down, gratefully. I was pleased that he was pleased. Girls such as I are eager to please such men. It makes us happy to do so. It satisfies something warm, and deep and marvelous, in the very bottom of our bellies to do so. If we do not, of course, they simply see to it that we do. Our behavior is then quickly, and often painfully, corrected.

"It is hard to believe that you are a virgin," he said.

I did not lift my head. I moved as little in the iron belt. It was not as well fitted to me as it might have been. They just take belts they have at hand, and, finding one of the proper size, or approximately so, they put it on her. The «U-shaped» vertical bar on this belt was, at the center, hammered flat, shaped and slotted. It chafed the upper interior of my thighs a little. I had diffidently called this to the attention of a fitter some weeks ago, but, after he checked it, and had determined to his satisfaction that the matter was not serious enough to have warranted my complaint, he had simply cuffed me, and sent me, blood in my mouth, back to my lessons. I had not complained afterwards. That I was a virgin had undoubtedly been included by Teibar in my papers, or records. On the other hand, when I had begun my lessons, and given the apparent alacrity with which I took to them, they had, to make sure, removed the belt, and checked the matter. The report had been correct. The belt was then replaced on me. I had, for most practical purposes, worn it since, even sleeping in it, in my kennel. I gathered they did not entirely trust the discipline of the guards. To these men, and to men such as these, I gathered, I was attractive, perhaps even extremely so. This undoubtedly had something to do with the sexual tastes of such men, seeming to run more toward the normal, natural female that toward the current commercial paradigms of feminine beauty in my culture, but I think, too, I was pretty, really pretty, genuinely pretty, and very desirable to them, and very attractive to them, aside from such general considerations. Too, of course, these were extremely vigorous and virile men. Probably very few females, of any sort, would have been really safe in their vicinity.

"And you have become beautiful," he said to me, "and even more beautiful." I kept my head down.

In the flattened, shaped part of the metal under my belly, about a quarter of an inch from my body, there was a curved slot about three inches in length and three-eighths of an inch in width. The interior edges of this slot, heavy and iron, were serrated, jagged, like the teeth of a saw. The belt, accordingly, equipped with this device, and locked so closely upon me, so fixedly upon me, would be likely, I thought, to frustrate or discourage a male, unless, of course, he had its key, or a tool to remove it.

I felt the hand of the man in my hair. He was not being cruel to me. He was shaking my head, good-naturedly. I looked up at him, gratefully. We are grateful for such small signs of recognition, even as dogs are. This man was pleased with me. He did not hate me, even though I was a woman of Earth. I was only another charge, or student, or pupil, to him. he did not bear me anything like the ill will, the hostility, that Teibar, who had been my captor, had. Indeed, very few of the men I had met here seemed hostile toward me, as he had been. There might have been a very simple reason for that, of course. Teibar had been to Earth, and had seen what was being done to men on that world. These men, I supposed, might be ignorant of that. Indeed, they might even be incredulous that such a thing could occur. It was perhaps the sort of thing they would not have believed, unless they had seen it with their own eyes. Accordingly, it seems it did not even occur to them to see me, as Teibar had, in terms of guilt, crime and villainy, nor, in hatred, to make me some sort of helpless proxy, something fit to be punished for the wrongs which had been visited upon the men of my world.

The man put his hand down by my face, touching it gently, and I kissed and licked it, looking up at him. I was naked before him, and branded, and collared. He smiled down at me. He was fond of me, as men might be fond of a lovely, sleek she animal. His name was Ulrick. I would not use his name to him directly, of course, but I might use it to others, in reference to him. "I have news for you, Doreen," he said.

I looked up at him.

"We have done about as much with you here as we have the inclination to do, given our schedules," he said. "Too, you and two of the other girls, have come along very well."

I looked up at him, puzzled.

"You have learned a great deal here," he said. "But you have really only begun your education here. It will soon become apparent to you, outside, how little you know. It is my recommendation that you continue to apply yourself, and be diligent. Strive constantly to improve your skills, and value."

I could not understand, exactly, what he was saying. I think this was not so much a matter of the words, as of their seeming import.

"We have an order to be filled," he said, "from a wholesaler, for three Earth females."

I shuddered.

"Remember," he said, "eventually, on the block, when you are retailed, presumably in different markets, do not tighten. Be fresh and supple. Breathe deeply. Be beautiful. Be only so afraid that you are superb, not so afraid that you are awkward, or clumsy."

I shuddered.

"It is a good time of year," he said. "It will soon be the peak season." I was terrified. I gathered then that it may not have been an accident that I had been captured by Teibar when I had. He had «gathered» me, as he might have put it, so simple and unpretentious a verb, suggesting the casualness of his efforts, at a certain time of year pertinent to his own world, at a time when I would have enough time to be delivered here, trained, at least to some extent, and then, at an optimum moment, it seemed, brought to market.

"You are going to be sold," he said.

I looked up at him, terrified.

"Do you understand?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said.

6 Transportation

It is all part of the hood, the leather ball, the strap attached at the front of it, and the belt, with its double loop, on the outside, held in place by the hood" s belt loops, at its opening. Some hoods are little more than sacks, of canvas or leather, with drawstrings. The leather ball was thrust, by a thumb, into my mouth. I then felt its strap, attached at its front, drawn back between my teeth, and buckled behind the back of my neck. The hood itself was then placed over my head and some tucks were taken in it. It was then, by the double loop of the belt, passed twice about my neck, drawn shut. The hood was now closed about my neck. It was snug under my chin, held by the belt. The belt was then buckled shut behind the back of my neck, as the gag strap, inside the hood, had been. A small padlock, passed through two rings, the buckle ring and one of the small rings, sewn in the belt, now adjacent to it, secured the arrangement on me. I was locked in the hood.

I, and apparently the other two Earth girls, Clarissa and Gloria, had been found acceptable by the wholesaler" s agent. They were already kneeling in their hoods, naked, their knees spread, in the neck chain. I then felt the chain put on my own neck. Seven other girls, too, similarly hooded and in postures of submission, were on the same chain, but I did not think they were from Earth. Our hands, too, those of all of us, were secured, braceleted behind our backs. We all, too, had new collars on our necks, probably transport collars. They had metal tags attached to them. There had been two lots, it seemed, one of seven girls from this world and one of three from Earth. We had not actually been paid for, as I understood it, except for a deposit, and were merely being sent on consignment to the wholesaler, who, similarly, for deposits, filling his own orders, would deliver us to various retailers. Our sales would then, presumably, take place in various places, and the moneys, except for the retailer" s profit, would return to the wholesaler, for his profit, and eventually to Ulrick" s people, for theirs.

I knelt in the hood.

I was a slave girl.

This was a world called "Gor,"

On Earth Teibar had told me that there was a world such as this, though he had not told me its name, a world on which women such as I were "bought and sold." I had not believed him, of course. But I had now learned that he had spoken the truth. I had now learned that there was such a world, and that its chains were real. I wore them.

A command was spoken and we rose. Another command was uttered and we stepped forth, beginning with our left foot.

I thought, somewhat bitterly, how amused Teibar would have been to see me, chained and hooded, in coffle, the "hateful slut," the "modern woman," he had so despised, now in her place, now, at last, getting her due. How he had hated me! I still could not understand the full extent of his animosity. I took measured, graceful steps. We must be beautiful in coffle. We can be whipped if we are not. Doubtless he would have relished the thought of a lifetime of degradations and vengenances to be visited upon me. I should have rejoiced, I suppose, that he had gone his way, he who was so fierce and had hated me so keenly, doubtless never to lay eyes on me again, content doubtless now to merely ponder, upon occasion, with amusement, the fate to which he had consigned me, but, to be honest, I would not have minded being seen by him again, or kneeling at his feet, or trying to show him what I had learned, or even trying to please him, and as what he had seen fit that I had now been made. I suppose I should have hated him. When I thought of him, I often wept. Like a cuffed, kicked bitch I would have crawled back to him, if I had had the chance. But he had not kept me, as I supposed he could have, and as Ulrick, questioned earnestly by me on this matter, had confirmed. It would have simply been a matter of paying a good price for me, but one discounted within the house, one well within his means. But he had not wanted me. He had spurned me and sent me, his despised "modern woman," doubtless in disdain and amusement, to the chains of others. I would have liked to have seen him again, perhaps to try to convince him, humbly, that I had learned my lessons, that I had profited from his instruction, and what he had done to me, that there was, even now, this soon, very little of the "modern woman" left in me. And, eventually, I supposed, there would be none of it left in me. He had said that it could be taken from me, and I now had little doubt not only that it could be, but that it would be, and totally. Indeed, I wanted, myself, to rid myself of its narrowness, its contaminations, its uglinesses, as quickly as I could. I supposed I was a wicked, worthless woman and, far worse, only a despicable natural slave, but something deep in me, fundamental in me, profound and ancient in me, loved men, and I did not want to make them small, and nothing, but I wanted, rather, to please them, to obey them, to serve them, to give my all to them, to make them strong and proud, grand and glorious, to make them happy. But here, among the virile men of Gor, I had little choice in such matters. Such things, regardless of whether or not I might wish to bestow them of my own free will, would be simply commanded of me. Even did I hate men I would have no choice here but to deliver perfections to them. Here among masters and slaves were literally instituted the practices and relationships, and required of me, under the threat of terrible punishments, and even death, which in my heart I would have longed to bestow of my own free will on men, or at least men so free and proud, so much the natural masters of a woman.

I was now outside, probably in a walled court. I could feel the air on my body. My feet were bare. I realized, with a shock, I loved what was being done to me. I heard the creak of wagon wheels, the shuffling of some sort of beast. "This way," said a man.

We moved, but only a few feet. Tugs on the neck chain guided me. It was warm in the hood. The extension on the neck chain of the first girl, who was also hooded, serves as a leash for her, guiding her, and her chain guides the second girl, and the second girl" s guides the third, and so on. I was last in the coffle. I did not know if this were significant or not at this time. Sometimes the most exciting girl is put first on the coffle, and sometimes last. Sometimes beauties and lesser beauties are mixed. Sometimes the coffle is simply arranged in order of descending height.

I suddenly jerked, and almost fell, uttering, startled, a stifled sound, my head moving, the gag straps pulling at the back of my neck, the girl in front of me almost off balance, the snap of the lash, too, had startled me, the lash had stung my calves, sharply, cruelly.

"Stand straight," said a voice.

I improved my posture immediately.

We sometimes have a tendency, I am afraid, to be a little slothful or lax when not directly under the eyes of men. Some say we are all lazy, and must be kept constantly in line by the whip. I do not know. Perhaps, on the other hand, it is simply that we are human, so very, very human. In the hood, of course, it is hard to know if a man is looking at you or not. It is best to assume, naturally, that one is always doing so. I had been lax. I had been careless. I had been foolish.

I felt a man" s hand on my arm. "This way," he said.

That is one of the disadvantages of being last in the coffle, incidentally. It is easiest to strike one in that position. Too, as I, locked in my hood, had foolishly permitted to slip my mind, there is often a guard there, towards its end.

"Stand here," said a man.

I should have kept myself beautiful, particularly here, in the open, where there were men about.

The backs of my calves still stung.

I hoped I would not be struck again. I was trying to stand well.

I then felt myself lifted up, lightly, in the hood, the chain still on my neck, in a man" s arms, his hands thusly supporting me, one beneath the back of my knees and the other behind my back, and was handed up to another man, who then put me down, kneeling, on a higher, metal surface. I heard the snorting of some beast. I did not know what it was. I did not think it was a horse or ox. It was perhaps some draft animal native to this world. It frightened me. The surface seemed to move a bit under me. There was a girl on my right, linked to me by her neck chain, she who had preceded me on the coffle. No girl was on my left. I was the last on the coffle. I heard a body, doubtless that of the fellow to whom I had been handed, descend from the surface. I then, a moment later, heard the closing, heavy and metallic, of a door or gate. I even felt the vibration of this metal flooring, on my knees and toes. I then heard a rattle of chain, the thrusting home of a heavy bolt and the closure of what sounded like a heavy, dangling padlock, one with a bolt perhaps a half-inch thick. I had seen many such in the house. Several of our kennels, where our blankets and pans of water were kept, had been closed with similar devices. My own kennel, on the other hand, had been closed with two locks intrinsic to the door itself. I could still feel the air on my body so I thought we were not in a solid-sided enclosure, but, probably, a cage. I put back my head. I could then feel the bars. They were heavy, about an inch or an inch-and-a-half thick. I would have supposed, and about three inches apart. This cage, I gathered, from the height of the surface, and its movement, was mounted on a wagon.

I tried to move the leather ball around a bit in my mouth, with my tongue. I managed to adjust it a little, so it was a bit more comfortable. I then heard the sliding of canvas, and its being pulled down and adjusted, and the sound of various buckles. The cage was being covered.

In a moment then there was a cry to some animal and the shaking of a harness. There was also the snapping of a whip. That sound frightened me. I had learned to know it better than I cared to I was thrown off balance a little to my left as the vehicle began to move. It seemed to me we were being held in a great deal of security. We were gagged and hooded; we were stripped, our brands thusly bared; our wrists were manacled behind our backs; and we were attached to one another, in coffle, by neck chains. Beyond this we were caged, and the cage, too, was covered. That may have been, of course, that we not attract too much attention, naked slaves being transported through streets. I wondered if there were any free women on this world. I had never seen one. To be sure, slave girls on this world were often held in great security. One of the most significant securities, of course, was their collars, marking them unmistakably as slaves, and, usually, identifying their masters. It seemed to please these men, so proud, so strong, so uncompromising, so imperious, to keep us in bonds, chains and such. Our strongest bond, of course, that which would hold us if none other, that which we could never hope to break, was our condition itself, that we were slaves. Still, beyond these things it seemed to me that there might be something a little mysterious, if not excessive, in the careful way we were bring treated, handled and moved. I had gathered that it was not really unusual, particularly in certain places, though in others it was apparently regarded as being tactless or vulgar, for slaves to be marched naked, in coffle, through the streets, for example, for their own edification or instruction, that they be helped to understand that they are truly slaves, as the case might be, as a matter of simple convenience. Certainly they were often kept this way, I had been given to understand, on highway and road treks, if only to protect their tunics from sweat and dust. And there seemed little objection anywhere to marching them through the streets in tunics or camisks, a narrow, poncholike garment. To be sure, they were generally transported naked, in closed wagons, their ankles chained to a central bar. But they were presumably not then gagged and hooded, or confined as closely as we. I did not understand these things. I did not question the will of masters, of course, for the will of masters, quite simply, is not to be questioned, but I was curious, or puzzled, to know why it was being done this way. Too, more interestingly, I did not even know where I was. I did not know were the house in which I had been trained was located. I did not even know the name of that house. I did not even know the name of its master. Now I was being taken from it, towards some equally unknown destination. None of the girls, too, as far as I could tell, were any the better informed then I. But whatever the explanation might be for these anomalies, if, anomalies there were, there was no doubt that I was now a slave. Teibar, who had been my captor, had seen to that.

To be sure, interestingly, I did not really object to these various things, neither to the anomalies they were, nor to what might be the more typical or standard subjugation, rigors and strictures, fierce and terrible though they might be, to which I was subjected. Though I would scarcely admit this to myself, I was thrilled to be branded and collared. I was thrilled to have been stripped, and gagged and hooded, and manacled, and put in neck coffle, by the will of men. I pleased that they had taken me in hand and, wishing to do so, had made me their slave. I was inutterably thrilled to be now absolutely and categorically subject, in the order of nature, to their uncompromising domination. It was for this sort of thing that I had longed all my life. It was for this reason, I thought, that I had so despised males of Earth, because they had permitted themselves to be deprived of the birthright of their manhood, because they would not see to it that I was put in, and kept in, my rightful place in nature, where I wanted in my heart to be. My beauty, I felt, belonged to them, if they were strong enough to take it, and put it where it belonged, at their feet. I had wanted to kneel before them, lovingly and worshipfully, and yield them my total submission. They had not been strong enough, however, I had been almost consumed with anguish, and filled with contempt for them, and tortured and torn by loneliness, hatred and misery. Then, to my amazement, I had found myself brought to this world. Here men had no such weakness. Here I found myself, in all my helpless womanhood, whether I was pleased about it or not, whether I wished it or, whether I willed it or not, at the feet of masters. No, I did not object to the collars and brands. They put my womanhood on me. I did not object to the will of men, and to their bonds. Such told me that I was theirs. I did not object to being kept in ignorance, as this was their will, and gave me further evidence that I was only their animal, and slave, as I wanted to be, and to such men, so marvelous and mighty, could be nothing else. Did we, on Earth, take our dogs and cars into our confidence? Similarly, though I did not want to feel their whips, and dreaded then terribly, the knowledge that I was subject to them, and that these men, such men, were fully ready to use them on me, and would, if I were not pleasing, was deeply moving, reassuring me of their mastery over me.

I knelt back on my heels. I moved a bit with the motion of the wagon. The chain moved a bit on my neck, lopping up to the throat of the girl on my right. It was hard to tell in the hood but I thought I detected the smell of salt air. We had now been in the wagon perhaps an hour.

It sounded now, judging from the sound of the metal-rimmed wheels, and felt, judging from the vibrations, like we were moving over cobblestones.

The back of my calves, where I had been struck, now felt better. That had really been foolish of me, standing in a slovenly manner in the coffle, when there might have been men about, and indeed, had been one, and with a whip. That I had been lashed, however, showed me that I was, in a way, important, and that men cared about me. I was a female. I made some sort of difference to them. They were genuinely interested in females, and liked them, and were concerned with them. They wanted us to be as charming and beautiful as we could be, and would, frankly, hold us accountable for such things. How many times, I wondered, had a man on Earth, irritated with an Earth woman, or girl, been tempted to seize her and say, pull gum from her mouth, or straighten her hair, or adjust her halter, or tell her to straighten her body or to change her posture, or to sit or kneel in a certain way, but, of course, had not done so? Here, however, men, I gathered, at least with women such as I, felt few reservations, inhibitions or compunctions, about taking immediate and often direct action in such matters. They tended to view us with a certain proprietary interest, even, in certain cases, with a certain possessive zeal and zest, and seemed determined to see to it that we were as marvelous as we could be. We were, after all, the females of their species.

I was now more sure than ever that I could smell salt air. We continued on our way. Once I heard a sort of sudden bellowing snort and hiss, it seemed, from the closeness, and the associated jerk on the traces and movement of the vehicle, from the beast drawing the wagon. It frightened me. I wondered what its nature might be. Hooded, of course, I had not seen it. I knew really very little about the world to which I had been brought. I listened to sounds from outside the wagon. There were more of them now. The wagon seemed, not, to be generally descending.

I pulled a bit at the light manacles which fastened my wrists behind my back. They were light, but they were, I was sure, a thousand times strong enough to hold me, and perfectly. I thought about them. They seemed obviously made for women. That was interesting. It told me something, I supposed, about the culture. It was a culture in which there was apparently a call for such articles. It was a culture in which they had their role, and utilities. I heard men calling out, or shouting, here and there, now and then, as we continued on our way, usually descending.

I also heard, once, it startling me, a woman" s voice, raised, shrill, angry, screaming, scolding. I shuddered. I would not have dared to do that. I would have been whipped. I could not make out what she was saying. I do not think it had anything to do with us or the passage of the wagon. I doubted that any woman who could be like that wore a collar or knelt before men. I then began to suspect, with some certainty, and trepidation, that not all women on this world were as I. That thought, justifiably, as I would learn, filled me alarm. There would be doubtless a kind of war between women like that and women such as myself, I thought, a war in which women such as I, in effect, would be unarmed, and, perhaps despised and hated by them, fully at their mercy, totally helpless before them.

I smelled something cooking.

I heard another woman" s voice, this one hawking fish, and then the voice of another woman, that one hawking suls. The sul is a large, thick-skinned, starchy, yellow-fleshed root vegetable. It is very common on this world. There are a thousand ways in which it is prepared. It is fed even to slaves. I had had some at the house, narrow, cooked slices smeared with butter, sprinkled with salt, fed to me by hand. We had loved them, simple as they were. I, on my knees, my hands manacled behind me, had begged prettily for them. Sometimes they were simply thrown to us, on the floor, and we squirmed for them on our bellies, competing with one another for them. Then the insistent cries of these two women, proclaiming the excellence of their respective offerings, were left behind. We were different from such women, I feared, quite different.

Then I was suddenly startled as I heard a man" s hand slap loudly, good-naturedly, against the side of the wagon, within which was our cage. He yelled something raucous and ribald. It had to do with «tastas» or "stick candies." These are not candies, incidentally, like sticks, as, for example, licorice or peppermint sticks, but soft, rounded, succulent candies, usually covered with a coating of syrup or fudge, rather in the nature of the caramel apple, but much smaller, and, like a caramel apple, mounted on sticks. The candy is prepared and then the stick, from the bottom, is thrust up, deeply, into it. It is then ready to be eaten. As the candy is held neatly in place there is very little mess in this arrangement. Similarly, as the candy is held in its fixed position, it may, in spite of its nature, be eaten, or bitten, or licked or sucked, as swiftly, or slowly, and as much at one" s leisure as one might please. These candies are usually sold at such places as parks, beaches, and promenades, at carnivals, expositions and fairs, and at various types of popular events, such as plays, song dramas, races, games, and kaissa matches. They are popular even with children. I had learned of these things from Ulrick, back at the house. I had wondered why he had summoned us to our duties and lessons, with the call, "Come, tastas!" The expression was occasionally used by men for women such as we. To be sure, there seemed to be a great number of such expressions for us, such as "morsels," "puddings," and "candies." When there was the sound of the slap of the man" s hand on the wagon side, it so unexpected, and sounding so loud, and his sudden shout, several of the girls had moved, stirring suddenly, in their chains. I, too, frightened, startled, had moved in mine. We had had no doubt that outside was a strong, virile man, much more powerful than we, and that we were slaves.

I then heard it startling me, too, and frightening me, too, and even more than before, a stick beating savagely on the side of the wagon. I heard, too, the shrill screaming of a woman" s voice. It had a very ugly sound. I could not make out all she was saying but its import was surely uncomplimentary. Among other things she called us «She-sleen» and "she-urts." I did not know what a sleen might be, but I did know what an urt was. When we had begun our training, shortly after we had been branded and collared, we had been kept in a lower level of the house, in a dank, dark, cold, musty area, seeming to consist largely of narrow corridors and cells, an area of damp, cold stone walls, of shadows and pools of water, chained in a large, common cell. In this cell we bedded on damp stray, cast over the stone. Our food, in the temporary light of lamps or lanterns was thrown from pails to us, garbage perhaps, from the meals of others, and we could not, under penalties of the whip, use our hands to retrieve it. Too, as we soon discovered, we were not the only denizens of that place. Often the urts, those tiny, swift, sleek, furtive rodents, bold in their familiarity with, and seemingly assumed privileges in, the place, would rush to food before we could reach it and, almost at our cheek, snatch it up and scurry away to their holes, through the narrowly spaced bars and small crevices. They would come at night, too. It was hard to sleep, for one might suddenly, unexpectedly, scamper over one" s body. Too, one would be awakened by other girls, screaming, or crying out hysterically, at the sounds, or movements, or touches, in the darkness of the tiny beasts. Some girls were bitten. We strove mightily in our lessons, to be found worthy of being raised to a higher level. This seemed almost symbolic, and was doubtless intended to be. None of us, of course, were permitted to ascend to the next level until all of us had attained at least its minimum requirements. This put great pressure on us all to excel. One girl was determined to be refractory. She was fiercely disciplined that night, as though by merciless, raging cats, by her chain mates. In the morning she considerably improved her performances. It seemed that she had only wanted that excuse, really, that sop to her pride, to eagerly serve men with perfection. She soon became one of the best of us. Indeed, as she wheedled with the guards, and would sometimes ever receive a candy, many of us became quite jealous of her. Gradually, with our class less than a week, we were all on a higher level. Then, a week of so later, we had our own tiny kennels, small and cramped, but dry, and above the level of the urts. These things helped us to understand, first, how much we were at the mercy of one another, and, secondly, how much we were all, fundamentally, ultimately, both collectively and individually, at the mercy of men. We were then, in a minute or two, beyond the screaming of the woman and the intense, cruel beating of her stick. As that sort of thing was going on, we had scarcely dared move. I think all of us were terribly frightened, and perhaps the Gorean girls more than the Earth girls, for they surely must have known more of what was going on, or was involved, then we naA?ve Earth women, so new to our collars and chains. Yet even we, I am sure, sensed the terrible, frightening hostility, the hysteria, the fury, of the woman outside. I am sure none of us would have cared to meet her, or find ourselves within the range of her wrath. Teibar, I thought to myself, must, of course, have known there were such women on this place. I wondered if the thought of this, too, amused him, that he had brought me, his despised "modern woman," as a helpless slave, to this place, this place where I might find myself defenseless within the ambit of such fury.

I could hear various folks outside the wagon, as the wagon now moved slowly. It seemed, now, too, to be moving on a level, on a wooden, planked surface. It sounded hollow beneath the wheels.

I realized, suddenly, that my knees were pressed closely together. That had occurred during, and I had kept them that way afterwards, the beating on the wagon of the woman, and her screaming. It had been a defensive gesture, bringing my knees together, tightly, because I was afraid. Perhaps, too, I supposed, just as a male might find the spreading of a female" s knees, appropriate, deferential or placatory, so, too, such a woman might prefer their closure, finding it respectful, or placatory. Perhaps she might be mollified to some extent by such an apparent modesty. I did not know. Still, looking down at me, I did not think she would be likely to be fooled by it. I did not think she would be stupid. She would probably know what I was, really. It was probably not hard to tell. Perhaps we were just different sorts of women. I did not know. I did realize that such women, in all their frustration and anger, would probably want me to be like them. That thought horrified me. I found it terrifying. It would be like going back to the sterilities, the barrenesses, the pathologies, of Earth. Tears formed in my eyes, in the hood. What was I to do? I recalled that Ulrick had told me that certain kinds of slaves, house slaves, "tower slaves," and such, whatever they were, might kneel with their knees together, but I had also been informed that I, and the other girls, were not such slaves. We were some other sort of slave, it seemed, though exactly what sort I was not perfectly clear. "Masters will teach you," had laughed Ulrick. For us, at any rate, for whatever sort of slave we were, the open-kneed position was commanded. Too, I felt that it was the one which was right for me, at least before me. I then decided that my best mode of action would be to pretend to be unsexual, and modest, before women such as she who had beaten on the side of the wagon but, when with men, and as they would undoubtedly require, kneel as I had been taught, placing myself shamelessly, vulnerably, deliciously, delightfully, happily at their feet. I felt the knee of the girl next to me touch my knee. She, too, I supposed, had been considering these matters. Doubtless I was not alone in my fears or concerns. She, too, was an Earth girl, Gloria. She was from Fort Worth, Texas. She had been put on the coffle before me. She had now spread her knees, the shameless slut! I then moved a bit to my left, toward the gate of the cage, and spread my own knees, doubtlessly just as shamelessly. It gave me great pleasure to do this. It was like an act of rebellion, or defiance, in my heart, to the woman who had beaten me on the wagon. To be sure, she, with her stick, could not see me. I would not have been so brave, doubtless, if she had been about. But I was now pleased to be again so kneeling. It was the way I was supposed to kneel, and it was the way I would kneel, I decided, even before free women, if a man were present, unless he ordered me to kneel differently. It was to men that I belonged, not women. Let them rant! Let them cry out with rage. I was proud to belong to men, to men such as those of this world! I would thus, rightfully, and joyously, kneel before them as what I was, a woman, and their slave. What was the problem of women such as she who had beaten on the wagon? Did she wish, in her heart, I wondered, that she, too, could kneel thusly, owned? Then I dismissed that thought as foolish, doubtlessly foolish. Not such a woman! Never such a woman! But them why was she so hostile? Did she that our service and beauty, our yielding to our hearts, lessened or demeaned her is some way? What a puzzling inference! What an absurd conclusion! What a grotesque mockery of thought that would be! Must all women be alike? Could there be legitimately only a single type of female, and that the grotesque projection of her own feminine insufficiencies, her misery and hatred? If anything, it seemed that our abjectness might have made her own status, presumably different than ours, seem even finer and more exalted. Perhaps she hated men and it was thus an insidious,half-understood way of attacking them, by attempting to spoil and ruin us, by trying to make us inert and like herself. The issues seemed complex. At any rate there seemed no objective justification for her trying to make us like her. What was so marvelous or desirable, really, about her unhappiness and harness, her cruelty and frustration, that we, lesser women, should find it preferable to love? Why did she so hate us? Did our nature, and softness, contradict her views, showing them false? Perhaps that was it, that she in some strange, almost incomprehensible way felt refuted by us, and our feelings, or threatened by us. Was it important for her, perhaps, in a war with men, perhaps in her graspings for power, I wondered, to maintain that she, in her hatred, ambition, envy and narrowness, stood for an entire sex? How ridiculous! But, if so, it was easier to understand how she might hate us so, for our very existence, and that of women like us, natural, loving women, subservient in the order of nature to masters, undermined her lies. How fearful it would be, I thought, if such a female, or such females, in all their hatred and frustration, should manage by lies, propaganda, misrepresentation, manipulation, distortion, chicanery and law, swiftly or gradually, perhaps almost unnoticeably, to bring about the ruination of the natural relationships between the sexes, to subvert the biotruths of an entire species, to impose their grotesque perversions, for their own purposes, on an entire world. Then I realized how little I knew, really, about that particular woman, doubtless a native of this world. My reflections were colored, in effect, by the pathologies of a far-off world. Her anger might have been motivated by so small a thing, but so natural a thing, as the interest that some man took in a woman such as we, and perhaps not in her. Who knew? It might be easier, then, I supposed, to be cruel to us than to him. perhaps he would have simply turned his back on her, walking away from her, ignoring her. Perhaps he would have cuffed her to silence. Who knew? I pulled a bit at the manacles which held my hands behind my back. my wrists were well locked in them. I had considered earlier how they were made for women, and that this seemed significant in this culture. In this culture it seemed that slavery, bondage such as mine, at least, was an essential ingredient, that it was unquestioned, or, if it had been questioned, that the questions had been resolved long ago, and in favor of the collar, that it was a matter of tradition institutionalized in its legal structures. Too, in this culture, where there were such men, I did not think there was any real danger of susceptibility to the debilitating, antibiological pathologies of Earth. I shuddered. In this culture, at least, women such as I had noting to fear, having everything to fear.

I then tried to dismiss the woman from my mind.

Whatever might be the case with her, she was, it seemed, quite different from me.

Suddenly I was afraid. I had had, for a time, my knees clenched closely together! I did not think there was a man in with us. The fellow who had been lifting us into the cage, taking us from the fellow below, had, I was sure, descended from the wagon. I did not know for certain, of course, because of my hooding, whether or not there might have been a man in the cage with us, a guard, perhaps, or even, say, an unhooded female slave, one of the instructresses, for example, perhaps charged to observe our deportment. But I did not think so. Too, I was sure the cage was covered, as I had heard the drawings-down, and tightening, of canvas, and its bucklings, but, to be sure, there might have been a flap, or peephole, or something, perhaps behind the wagon box, from which, from time to time, we might have been observed. I began to sweat. I had been lashed earlier, across the back of the calves, for an imperfect posture or carriage. I hoped I would not, now, be punished, after the wagon stopped, for some similar breach of beauty or decorum. I pulled at the manacles. I moaned softly in the hood. I now kept my knees widely separated, determinedly so. I tried to kneel straightly, too, beautifully, in the neck chain. I did not know if there were men to see or not.

Then, suddenly, the wagon stopped. I could sense the movements of other girls, by the chain on my neck, the sounds, the vibrations, those tiny physical transmissions, indicative of their stirrings, through the flooring of the metal cage. They were all frightened, I think, as I was. We had arrived, somewhere. They were adjusting their postures. I, too, tried to improve mine, even further. We heard voices. The driver seemed to descend from the wagon box. We waited. There was very little sound now. We were very quiet. There was occasionally the tiny sound of the stirrings of links of chain, from the chain on our necks. I moved a little, to feel the tiny metal tag, slung on its tiny closed chain, the chain closed about my collar, move delicately, lightly, on my skin, just below my neck. It had something to do with my transportation, or disposition. We all had such tags, now, on our collars.

We heard some canvas being thrust up, near the gate. "Sit, or lie, as you will, sluts," said a man" s voice. He was a fellow from the house. I recognized his voice. The canvas was then pulled down, again. We would be here for a while, it seemed. We adjusted our positions, as we could. I lay down on my side. My knees were sore from the metal flooring, and the movements of the vehicle. The smell of salt air was strong here.

We waited, doubtless in various postures of ease. The others, I would suppose, were as grateful as I to break position. It seemed nothing was happening. Doubtless outside the wagon, though, something was happening, if only an inquiry into a delay, a tallying or accounting, a certification of papers, a checking of arrangements, something. Inside the wagon, we waited.

I thought again of the woman who had cried out, beating on the side of the wagon.

I moved the leather ball about a bit in my mouth, it held in my mouth by its strap, pulled back between my teeth, buckled behind the back of my neck. I felt it behind my lips and teeth, over my tongue, obstructing my oral orifice. I could not speak. Indeed, I could make very little noise at all. I pressed up on it with my tongue. I moved my tips and teeth about it. I could not begin to dislodge it. It is a secure, effective device. It does its job well, as it is designed to do. My head, in its hood, now rested on the metal flooring. I could feel the flooring through the leather.

I was afraid, remembering the woman who had beaten on the wagon. I thought that probably I, and women like me, would have much to fear from such women. I did not think she was, really, as I might have hoped, an isolated aberration. Who could protect me then from such as she, only men, surely. She, too, thus, in her way, regardless of her intentions, would be putting me all the more at the mercy of my masters, men. I feared her, and such as she. How shrill and ugly she had sounded! I did not know, of course, but I suspected she might have been coarse-featured, or homely. She had even sounded ugly. I was pretty. That made me even more afraid of her, and her kind. I thought they might resent me, and hate me, for being pretty. Too, I was apparently a type of woman, short, with shapely legs, and nicely breasted, which men on this world often found attractive. That, too, might be held against me. Such things, of course, are not that unusual. For example, if one is not strong, one might tend to disparage strength, or claim that it is not important. Indeed, one might, grotesquely enough, resent such things so in others as, sooner or later, to come to hate those who are beautiful or attractive. On Earth those who espoused such eccentric and paradoxical perspectives might, on the whole, unless they became politically powerful, be ignored or avoided. Here, however, I feared, the beautiful, and attractive, might find themselves at their mercy. The terrors of this situation were further impressed upon me by the understanding that it was most likely the beautiful, and the attractive, who would be sought out for impressement into helpless bondage. They would be the prizes. I myself, I knew, in some sense, was such a prize. Teibar had told me that he was paid, in effect, for bringing in "first-class females." I was thus, it seemed, at least from the perspective of this world, a "first-class female." I recalled he had used such expressions to me as "little charmer" and "cuddly slut." These expressions, though probably intended to humiliate me, and demean me, and put me in my place, as a female, nonetheless seemed to attest to his finding me of genuine sexual intent. To be sure, he had not seen fit to keep me. Ulrick, though had assured me, and I think truthfully, of my attractiveness, and had even done me the kindness of speculating somewhat skeptically on the soundness of Teibar" s judgment in the matter. He, at any rate, had regarded me as being pretty enough to wear Teibar" s collar. Too, more than once one of the guards at the house had angrily tested the security of the iron belt on me, and then, finding it secure, had thrust me from him, then taking another girl in hand, one not in such a belt, for the satisfaction of his fierce needs.

I heard voices outside, but, it seemed, nothing was being done with us. We must wait.

I was truly afraid of women such as she who had beaten on the wagon. I did not even have a cloth to put on my body before her. i would be naked to her stick or switch. And even the instructresses I had seen had been barefoot and worn only brief tunics. Women such as I, I feared, thus, even if clothed, would be clothed in distinctive manners, manners which would be particular to us, manners which would be prominent and visible, manners which would leave no doubt as to our condition, and status, and generally, I suspected, scantily, and revealingly, as the instructresses had been, for the pleasures of men.

We waited gagged, stripped, hooded and chained.

Perhaps the woman who had beaten on the wagon was really not so different from us, I thought. Perhaps it was only that she had not been taken in hand, imperiously, and branded and put in a collar. Perhaps, on some level, in some way, she was jealous of us and wanted to be like us, a woman whom men might conceivably find of interest. Perhaps somewhere in her there was even a true woman. Perhaps somewhere in her there was, too, a slave, who yearned to serve at the feet of masters. I did not even think it mattered whether or not she might be homely or plain. Men are sometimes fools, I think, putting too much store, at least at first, by such superficialities. One need not be beautiful, I was sure, to be a loving, slave treasure.

But regardless of what the truth in these matters might have been, I was certainly not eager, now, to make the acquaintance of such women. After they were stripped and in chains, and crouching fearfully, with branded thighs, their necks in collars, fearing the whips of men, that would be soon enough for me, if ever! We were, at least as of now, regardless of what might be the fundamental and ultimate truth in these matters, quite different sorts of women. Social chasms separated us, social chasms unbridgeable except by the brand and collar.

We waited.

I wondered why we had been hooded, and had had heavy ball gags thrust in our mouths, and buckled back, in place. I did not think our hooding was to conceal our beauty from the casual glances of men. Men such as these, I had gathered, were seldom reluctant to show off the beauty of the baubles on the "slaver" s necklace." Too, we were stripped, and, even so, I was sure, were being kept in a covered cage. I supposed the motivations of the hooding, in part, might have been to remind us that we were slaves, and men could do these things to us, but, too, I suspected, it was to keep us in "slave ignorance," a condition often deemed appropriate for women in bondage. At any rate none of us knew where we were, or where we had been. We did not even know the name of the house where we had been trained, or the name of its master. In this sense, we did not even know who owned us. The Gorean girls had tried to read one another" s collars, but the markings on them had apparently been in coded symbols, incomprehensible even to them. That seemed strange to me. Though I was learning to speak Gorean, incidentally, I could not read it. Neither I, nor any of the other Earth girls in my group, had, as far as I knew, in spite of the intensity and frequency of our lessons, received any instructions whatsoever in reading it, even in an elementary way. We were illiterate. I suspected we would be kept that way. Still, the degree of "slave ignorance" in which we were being kept, not even knowing the name of our master, for example, seemed extreme, if not absurd. It was connected, then, I reasoned, with some sort of measures of security. This might explain, too, the gags, which were perhaps not simply a way of men telling us that we are subject to them, and may be gagged, as we might be blindfolded, chained, tied or beaten, at their pleasure, but rather to keep us from speaking with one another, particularly the Gorean girls, perhaps exchanging information or speculations, or, more likely, daring to call out to others, perhaps passers-by in the vicinity of the wagon, teasing them, bantering with them, begging prettily, perhaps, for tiny bits of information.

I adjusted my position a little. The metal flooring was hard on my shoulder and thigh. I wished I had had my blanket, which had been in my kennel, with my pan of water. It had much eased the harshness of the kennel" s cement flooring.

I went to my back. I felt the flooring on my shoulder blades. I pulled my wrists up, in their linked rings, taking advantage of the space at the small of my back.

We waited, caged, in your hoods and chains.

I thought again of the woman who had frightened me so, she who had beaten on the side of the wagon.

Certainly, as of now, at any rate, we were quite different sorts of women. I wondered at what the nature of the delay might be. I wondered what it might be that we were waiting for.

We were not passengers, of course, who might inquire, perhaps impatiently, into the nature of delays, perhaps even demanding explanations; we were only animals, being shipped; we were cargo.

I moved again to my side.

I pulled again, a little, at those lovely, stern impediments of steel, linked together by a small sturdy chain, which held my wrists behind my back. How well they confined me! The chain, too, was on my neck, keeping me with others. Too, with others, I was caged. I had heard the door, or gate, being locked. The cage, too, I conjectured, judging from the metal flooring, from the weighty, efficient sounds of the closing and locking of the gate, from the feel of the stout bars behind me, was quite sturdy. It would probably hold men, and with perfection, let alone females.

I struggled to sit up. I managed it. My shoulder hurt. My thigh was sore. I then put my back against the bars.

I had gathered that female slaves in transit, in general, must look forward to bonds or confinements. But the usual arrangement in these particulars, I had gathered, was a simple coffle chain, most commonly a neck coffle, but sometimes a wrist or ankle coffle; a slave cage, mounted on a wagon, in which the girls were free; or a slave wagon, within which, stripped, their ankles were chained about a movable, central bar, it fixed in place, locked, during transit. Surely it was not typical that they were treated to the attentions which we enjoyed, being gagged, hooded, neck chained, manacled and caged. This, too, I supposed, might represent some sort of security measure, but, if so, it seemed to me, of a depth and degree which must be unusual. Perhaps, on the other hand, it had to do, simply, with our being new slaves. New slaves are often treated with great harshness. It helps them learn quickly that they are slaves. Later, when the girl is well trained and her services become perfections she may be treated more leniently, even lovingly, like a dog. To be sure, if she should become in the least bit lax, the original strictures, or worse, will be instantly reimposed, or instituted.

The ten of us had been in the wagon now, even after it had stopped, at least an hour, perhaps two.

I thought of Teibar.

He, and men like him, were inutterably superior to me. I had not known such men could exist. I had only dreamed of them. Before such men, I, a refined, educated, highly intelligent woman of Earth, knew myself nothing. I could be, in effect, no more than a dog at their feet.

I pressed back against the bars.

And, interestingly enough, I was not discontented. I could have wished, I suppose, for lesser men but I did not really want lesser men. I wanted the mightiest men, the most powerful men, the most glorious men, the most ferocious, grandest men. I did not want men who were like me, I wanted men who were like men, men in whose arms, ravished, loving, crying out, overwhelmed, mastered. I could be myself, and find myself. I wanted such men, and knew in my heart that I belonged to them. I wanted a man who was greater than I, and incomparably so, one whom I must, in the order of nature, obey, one to whom I must look up. and I did not care if it was from my knees, black with dust, a collar on my neck, naked, that I looked up to his glory. I wished, tears in my eyes, that Teibar had kept me, his "modern woman," as a pet, as his bitch. I would have tried to serve him well. I would have been overjoyed to have been to him the only thing I could really be to men such as he, the lowly bitch of such men. I would have brought his sandals to him in my teeth. I would have begged to clean his feet with my tongue. I would strive to show him that the "modern woman" was gone, and that in her place was now his bitch, his legal property, his woman, his woman in all ways, helpless and loving beyond loving.

I lay down again on the metal flooring.

I thought again of the woman who had beaten on the side of the wagon. How afraid she had made me! How different she seemed from us, from the ten of us, chained in this cage. She was, I was sure, free. She must have been free, to have been permitted to scream like that, and carry on like that. There seemed to be no other possible explanation. The thought made me shudder. She was then, even if stupid and ugly, worlds above and beyond us. She would be priceless. Our value, even if we were desirable and beautiful, on the other hand, would be finite, a function quite simply of fluctuations in the market, and what men were willing to pay for us. We were properties. She, I supposed, was not. That would seem to be the major difference between us. We could be bought and sold. She, I supposed, could not, unless, of course, men saw fit to reduce her, too, to bondage, and then, of course, she would be no different from us, and our competitions would be reduced to the same common denominator, that of mere females. I lay there, hooded, a new slave, trying to understand, down in my belly, what is was, truly, to be a property. I could thus come into the ownership of anyone who had the wherewithal to buy me, male or female. Too, I had little doubt that not all the men on this world could be of the nature of Teibars and Ulricks, and the guards in the house where I had been trained. Doubtless there were men here, too, if not as on Earth, men who might be fretful, petty and weak, men the very sight and smell of which I might find offensive, men whose appearance and least touch I might find literally sickening, men I might find inutterably disgusting, men who were unclean, who were cruel, and loathsome and gross, who might be hideous and frightful, men I might find myself shrinking from, almost vomiting in disgust and terror, but they would own me, as much as any other, and I would be obliged, as a slave, to bring myself warmly and unquestionably into their arms, and bring my lips obediently and hotly to theirs, to submit wholly to them, to give myself wholly to them, to surrender wholly to them, holding back nothing, to please them, fully, and intimately. These things were simple attachments to my condition, consequences of what I was. I could not change them. They were simply part of what it meant to be what I was, a slave. We do not choose our masters not is it up to us, whether or not we will please them, or to what degree. We must strive to be perfection all ways, for anyone. That is part of what is to be a slave. In reconciling myself to bondage I had, also, to reconcile myself to this condition. It is a part of bondage. It is something which the slave must accept. Without it there can be no true slavery. I had accepted this condition, at least theoretically, verbally, acknowledging its incumbency on me, in my training. Somehow, interestingly, this acceptance, too, seemed liberating to me. It made my bondage much more real to me. Too, interestingly, in its way, it also made it seem much more precious to me.

Still, I supposed one could not truly understand what being a property was until one had been sold, and had come into the keeping of masters. Doubtless Teibar" s "modern woman," his arrogant, pretentious Earth female, as he had thought, his despised catch, would come to understand what that was. How amused he would be from time to time, I supposed, thinking of what he had done to me, the fate into which he had brought me. I tried to hate him, but could not. I wanted rather to kiss his feet. But then perhaps he did not even remember me. Perhaps he had forgotten me! Perhaps I was now alone, totally alone, on this world, having been brought here for a price, and then, having earned my coins for others, discarded, cast into the markets, set adrift uncertain weathers, on trackless seas, to vanish from sight, to disappear tracelessly, with no one noticing or caring, at the mercy of whatever course winds and currents, and fortune, and the will and interests of men, might take me. But I would never forget Teibar. I would remember him, always, even as I moaned in my dreams. I jerked suddenly, frightened, in the manacles. I could belong to anyone, to anyone who could pay for me! Surely that was wrong for a woman of Earth! How could it have come about that I was now only a lowly slave? I had been a woman of Earth! How could it have come about then that I was now, on this world, only a collared animal, stripped and chained, at the mercy of masters? Could it truly be I here, in this cage, in chains? Had I gone mad? Could I be dreaming? But I pushed up with my tongue, straining my tongue, against the bottom of the leather ball in my mouth, fixed there so mercilessly, so effectively. I moved my lips and teeth about it. I could feel its shape and size. But I could not dislodge it. I shook my head a little, moving the chain on my neck. It was on me. I hurt my wrists, pulling against the manacles that confined them. But I could not relieve their stern clasp in the least, nor extend by an iota the tiny span their links allotted me. I moved my shoulder and thigh on the metal flooring. My shoulder was sore, and my thigh was sensitive, and perhaps red. The flooring gave us a very obdurate surface. It was very solid. It was plated, and heavy. I supposed it might be of iron. The plates, I conjectured, judging from the apparent weight and solidity of them, must be an inch thick, at least. No, I was not dreaming. It was I, here, truly, in this place, now a slave. Then again I was content. How had Teibar, and others, I wondered, have known that I was a slave? It had not been hard to tell, I had gathered. I was frightened, but, too, I knew I was where I belonged, in bondage.

We waited.

No more concern was being taken for us, it seemed, than for crates, bales or boxes.

I heard Gloria, next to me, moan. She, too, doubtless, was feeling the hardness of the flooring. I felt the chain on my neck move, as she changed her position. On the other side of her was Clarissa, who was from Wilmington, Delaware. She had even received, more than once, a candy from a guard. No longer was she refractory. She, too, had learned herself slave. The first seven girls on the chain were Gorean girls. Clarissa had not been a virgin, or at least for long, in the house. I had seen two of the Gorean girls, and Clarissa, rather regularly put to the uses of the guards. I had noted, with interest, that although they were from different worlds, they, in the throes of their instimate employments, at first submitting to and enduring, then accepting, then reveling in, and, at last, kneeling and licking, mutely begging and pleading for their ravishments, in their whimpers and moans, and clutchings, denied speech, obedient under "gag law," had sounded the same. I supposed under certain conditions we all sounded the same. We were all women. That was what was important. I do not think, really, even from the point of view of men, that there is anything to choose from, between a Gorean girl and an Earth girl, assuming both have well learned their collars. It is doubtless, really, all a matter of the individual woman. What we all have in common, of course, is that we are all females.

We might have been animals kept waiting, horses, or pigs or dogs! Then I recollected that that was what we were, animals, slaves.

We waited.

We were chained.

There was little danger, I thought, that we would escape. Too, on such a world, where would one run? And even if one could get one" s collar off, one was branded, marked. I was not interested in running away. I had learned the penalties for such things. I did not wish to be whipped, or hamstrung, or have my feet cut off, or be fed to sleen. Here men were not tolerant of attempted escapes. They did not have the patience for them. Here, for women such as I, escape was not an option; here, for all practical purposes, it was simply impossible. At best, we might hope, against all hopes, at great personal risk, even mortal risk, it seemed, to escape from the chains of one master into those of another, in which case, of course, we would be a "caught slave," a modality that would be almost certain to assure us of the cruelest of treatments and the harshest of confinements, followed, perhaps, if our captor pleased, by a return to our original master.

I suddenly sat, half up, on the metal floor. Then I lay on it, on my back, shuddering, pulling my wrists up, behind the small of my back. I raised my knees.

As properties we had value, like other properties! Suddenly I realized, this thought frightening me, as I contemplated myself the object of such considerations, there might be a further point in chaining and confining us. It need not be simply construed in terms of such things as keeping us in a given space, or together, say, for purposes of custodial neatness, or rendering escape impossible, or discouraging thoughts of it, as if such thoughts needed discouraging, or reminding us that we were slaves, or disciplining or punishing us, or pleasing men, who delighted to see us so helplessly their captives, but for another reason, too, obvious now that I thought about it. We were properties! We were valuables, like money, or dogs or horses. Indeed, by some men, we might even be regarded as treasures. We might then, like other animals or goods, be subject to theft! We might be stolen! Thus it made sense that, if for no other reason, we might occasionally find ourselves kept, in effect, under lock and key. I did know that it was not unusual for slaves to be confined at night. In the house we had been locked in our kennels. Too, I had heard that at night it was not unusual for beautiful female slaves to be chained at the foot of their master" s couch, fastened there to a slave ring, the chain usually running to a manacle on their left ankle or a collar on their neck.

The fact that I now realized I was subject to theft frightened me, but it, too, like many other things, seemed an attachment of my condition, a simple consequence of what I was. I recalled hearing now, in the house, of "capture rights," respected in law. I had originally thought these rights referred to the acquisition of free women but I had later realized they must pertain, more generally, to the acquisition of properties in general, including slaves. I had not thought much about such things, in a real, or practical sense, until now, now that I was outside of the house. I tried to recall my lessons. Theft, or capture, if you prefer, conferred rights over me. I would belong to, and must fully serve, anyone into whose effective possession I came, even if it had been by theft. The original master, of course, has the right to try to recover his property, which remains technically his for a period of one week. If I were to flee the thief, however, after he has consolidated his hold on me, for example, kept me for even a night, I could, actually in Gorean law, be counted as a runaway slave, from him, even though he did not technically own me yet, and punished accordingly. Analogies are that is not permitted to animals to challenge the tethers on their necks, or flee the posts within which they find themselves penned, that money must retain its value, and buying power, regardless of who has it in hand, and so on. Strictures of this sort, of course, do not apply to free persons, such as free women. A free woman is entitled to try to escape a captor as best she can, and without penalty, even after her first night in his bonds, if she still chooses to do so. If she is enslaved, of course, then she is subject to, and covered by, the same customs, practices and laws as any other slave. The point of these statutes, it seems, it to keep the slave in perfect custody, at all times, and to encourage boldness on the part of males. After the slave had been in the possession of the their, or captor, for one week she counts as being legally his. To be sure, the original maser may attempt to steal her back. A popular sport with young men is trying "chain luck." This refers to the capture of women, either free or bond, viewed as a sport. In war, of course, women of this world, slave and free, like silver and gold, rank high as booty.

Then, suddenly, startling me, I heard canvas being unbuckled and pulled away. My body suddenly felt hot sunlight fall upon it. It was warmer in the hood. I was afraid, in the hood. I struggled to my knees. I heard, too, the movements of chain, from our necks, and the small sounds of the chains linking manacles, and the stirring, and scrambling, the movement of naked bodies on the iron flooring, of the other girls. I heard a key being thrust in a heavy lock, and the lock being opened, it seemed loudly, abruptly. I heard the rustle of chain at the gate, and the opening of the heavy gate. I assumed the standard open-kneed position, back straight, stomach in, shoulders back, head up, immediately. I assume the other girls did, too. We did not even hear a man snap, "Position." It had not been necessary. We were, to some extent, at least, trained girls. I heard a body ascend to our level. I felt strong rough hands on me. "This way," said a man" s voice. "Move this way." But he was talking, it seemed, to the other girls, for I felt myself literally lifted up and lifted back toward the gate, the chain pulling against the left side of my neck as it was pulled away from the right side, dragging Gloria, doubtless to her knees, or half crouching, after me. I was handed down to the level. My feet were on warm boards. Gloria was then handed down, after me, and then the others. I heard the hootings, whistles, sucking and clicking noises, and sex calls of men, gathered about. It seemed there must be a great many of them, a small crowd, even. They had probably wandered over here, as we were being disembarked from the wagon. I felt a man" s hand in the chain on my neck and he pulled me stumbling where he wanted me. For a moment it seemed I was the head of the coffle. Then I was turned about, and was standing alone, confused. I did not know where I was, or even in what direction I faced. I thin, then, the lead girl was drawn around, and forward, properly orienting the coffle, and that I, though I was not sure of it, was again at its end. Gloria, judging from the chain, was somewhere to my right. She should been, though, either in front of me, or behind me. I did not know where I was, even with respect to the coffle. I heard more of the hootings and noises, the sex calls, closer now. I began to tremble. I then jerked and almost fell. The snap had been so loud, so frightening, and the leather burned me so terribly! I had thrown my head back, gasping, sobbing out, wildly, fighting the ball in my mouth, in the hood. Then I uttered a tiny, frightened, anguished, protesting, stifled sound. "Stand straight, sluts!" we heard. "You are in the presence of men!" I then, jerking, in fear, reacting, but the lash was not on me, heard it strike twice more amongst us. This time the lash had been not on my calves, but fully on my back. I stood as straight, and beautifully, as I could. My back stung. It was as though a narrow path had been cut into it, and left raw, and burning, on it. I heard an increase in the hootings, the noises, and sex calls. Some of the men were now, apparently, crowded closely about. I had difficulty holding my position. I felt a man" s hand on my left breast. I felt a man" s hand squeezing my right thigh. "Do not touch the merchandise," laughed a guard. It was a voice I knew from the house. It may have been the fellow who had struck me, and the others. "Unless you want to buy," he added, chuckling. "Does she have a face to match this luscious form?" asked a man. "Yes," said the guard. "She is marvelously beautiful." I was grateful to him. I wondered if it could be true, that I might count as being marvelously beautiful, to men such as these. And if so, what might that mean? Did it suggest, I wondered, that I in my helplessness might then expect to be the object of persistent and unusual predations? "They are all superb slave meat," said the guard. "From what house do they come?" asked the man. But the guard did not respond to him.

I heard chains. I felt myself literally turned about. I was now, I conjectured, behind Gloria again.

"Move," called a man.

The chain pulled at the back of my neck, so I was drawn forward.

The boards beneath my feet seemed thick and hot. They were splintery. At one point I thought I stepped in warm tar. The smell of the salt air was very strong here.

The coffle slowed.

A man" s hand on my arm stopped me.

"Ahead now," I heard a man say. "Step carefully. The board is narrow. Climb. Do not be afraid. I will steady you." I then heard the chain move again, uncertainly. In a moment or two, I felt myself guided forward by a man" s hand on my arm. I felt frightened. "Here, now," he said, "lovely naked lady, step up a little." His hand was on my arm, almost as though escorting me, as though, indeed, I might be a lady! "At least she is not face-stripped!" called a man. There was laughter. How it must have amused them, these jokes, as though ladies might be publicly naked! How they mocked me! I was no "lady." I was branded. They well knew, all of them. I was branded! They need only look. It was visible to all, as I was, on my left thigh, unmistakable and prominent, burned into my body. "There," he said. But I was grateful for his help, as a female, in this predicament, even an enslaved one. I felt an ascendant board beneath my feet. Too, on it, as I discovered, twice stepping on them, there were crosspieces. When one man" s hands left my arm, a moment later, another" s reached down to me, and, again by the arm, helped me up. once the board I was climbing shifted a little. This was unexpected. I was frightened. But I was steadied by the second man. It was as though the upper end of it had moved slightly. I was then lifted up, and down, onto another wooden surface, this one as smooth as a floor. I had moved some seven or eight feet, maybe ten feet, at an angle of perhaps twenty degrees. I was then guided a bit to my right and forward, and turned, and knelt there. I felt a movement on the chain. Gloria must be to my left. They knelt us closely together. My left shoulder touched her right shoulder. I felt the floor move beneath my knees. I then felt a chain put about my neck, and locked there. A moment later I felt its other end move, and heard sounds as though it were being twisted about metal. I then heard the sound of another lock, a heavy one. Something similar had been done, I supposed, at the other end of the coffle, utilizing the first girl" s lead chain. The coffle was now, I supposed, secured on both ends. There was again the movement beneath my knees. There was no mistaking the movement. We were on a floating surface.

"Which of these are white silk?" asked a man.

"I heard the sound of a long, heavy board, being drawn over wood. It was then, it seemed, placed somewhere to my right.

"Check their tags," said another man.

"Here is one," said a man, lifting my tag. There was a cry of good-natured protest from a fellow somewhere to my left and in front of me.

"Here is another," said another man, to my left.

"We will need three," said another man, somewhere. I felt my tag being lifted a second time. "Wouldn" t you know it," grumbled a man. He then let the tag drop back against my flesh, under the collar.

I heard the sound of ropes being drawn aboard, and a noise like that of wood pushing on wood. We moved. We seemed to be swinging to my left.

I heard some metal apparatus put down on wood, near me.

I heard the men calling out to one another. I heard the creaking of wood. I then heard what sounded like a number of poles thrust through wood.

"Kneel up," said a man. "Higher up, off you heels. Keep those pretty knees wide. Hold still."

I felt then the encircling clasp of metal closed about my waist, and then, swinging up between my legs, another piece of metal. These things were fastened in place, the right side, and the lower portion, hasplike, over the staple on the left side of the apparatus. The whole was then secured behind my back with a padlock. Once again I wore an iron belt.

I then heard the dropping and unfurling of canvas from above me. A moment or two later, it briefly snapping and flapping, it was under control. I then felt it in the very boards beneath me, it exciting me with the pressing weight and smoothness of it, its strength, its directness and awesome power, the force of the wind filling and shaping, and thrusting against, this large, extended, exposed canvas surface, transmitting its power through the yard, the ropes and the mast which must hold it in place. I was indescribably thrilled. I wanted so much to see. I wished I had not been in the hood.

I then heard a sound like the beating of a mallet on a wooden surface, slowly, regularly, every few seconds. With its stroke oars, it seemed, entered the water. There must then be several oarsmen. I supposed they would be strong, virile men, to draw oars. I squirmed a little, uneasily, in the hood, in the iron belt.

I heard a bell from somewhere. It was perhaps on a buoy, marking a channel in a harbor.

We were being taken somewhere, the Gorean girls and the Earth girls. None of us, I am sure, knew where.

"You may kneel back on your heels," said a man.

I did so, immediately.

He was probably the fellow who had put the belt on me.

"would you like to be out of the hood?" he asked.

I whimpered.

"Whimper once for "Yes," twice for "No," he said.

I whimpered once.

"We will soon be clear the harbor," he said. "Are you pretty?"

I did not respond, immediately. I did not wish to sound vain, nor was I sure, really, that I was pretty enough to count as being "pretty," so to speak. Much surely depended, too, on the opinions of men. Was it not really up to them, to decide whether I was pretty or not? A girl who might be attractive to one man might not be so to another, I knew. I supposed I should whimper twice, for a negative response, but then I feared, what if he, or someone, should unhood me, as doubtless someone would, sooner or later, if only to feed and water me. I might then, if I had responded in the negative, be punished for lying. I recalled Ulrick had thought me pretty, and others had, too. Also, only a few minutes ago, the guard had said to someone that I was "marvelously beautiful." Whereas that might have been an exaggeration, even an absurd one, it seemed that on the basis of it, I might be legitimately entitled to view myself as at least "pretty." Too, I recalled that Teibar, apparently unwillingly, apparently in spite of himself, apparently to his fury and disgust, considering what he took to be my nature, had seemed to find me attractive, even extremely so, maddeningly so. To be sure, he had not kept me. Too, I considered the sexual tastes of these men, tastes according to which, this sometimes terrifying me. I apparently counted as being unusually desirable or attractive. Indeed, on this world, rightly or wrongly, I did count, it seemed, even, as the guard had said, "marvelously beautiful." To be sure, I was alarmed to consider what might be the consequences of being beautiful, and a slave, on a world such as this, among men such as these.

I whimpered once. I tensed, fearing I might be struck for vanity. But I was not struck.

"Later, in an Ahn, or so," he said, "we will remove your gags and hoods. Things will then be more pleasant for you."

I whimpered once, signifying my pleasure, my gratitude, hoping to encourage him.

"Do you know when we will do this?" he asked.

I whimpered twice.

"When we are out of the sight of land," he said, "totally out of the sight of land."

I lifted my head in the hood, to the sound of his voice.

"Do you understand?" he asked.

I whimpered once.

7 Brundisium

"This is Brundisium!" said one of the girls, peeping out of the wagon. "I am sure of it!"

"I want to be sold here," said another.

"It will depend on the conditions of the market," said another.

"I think we are already past its street of brands," said another.

"We are still within its walls," said another.

"It is one of the greatest ports," said another.

"It is here that the Cosian fleet landed," said another.

We were naked in a slave wagon, our ankles chained to a central bar. The high, squarish framework of the wagon was covered with blue and yellow silk, under which was common canvas. The silk is often removed during bad weather. We had thrust up the canvas and silk, an inch or two, at the top edge of the wagon bed, and, turned and kneeling, some half sitting, half lying, eager, curious, our ankle chains twisted, were peeping out.

"There are still soldiers and sailors of Cos about," said one of the girls. "There is one," said another girl.

"He is handsome," said another. "I would not mind being owned by him." That remark, I suddenly found disturbing, and frightening. I had accepted that we could be owned, and, indeed, were, but it still frightened me, to hear it spoken of so openly, owned, and by a private master!

"There are banners of Cos, too, as well as those of Brundisium," said another.

"Yes," said another.

"We must have come from Cos," said one of the girls.

"Perhaps Telnus," said another.

"Yes," agreed the first.

We had apparently come into the keeping of our wholesaler outside the walls of this city, at a temporary slave camp. Gorean girls with us had learned, or claimed to have learned, that this avoided the taxes levied on commercial transactions within Brundisium. Similarly, of course, such camps presumably had other values, as well. Space outside the city" s walls is usually cheaper to rent than space within its walls. Too, such camps may be moved about, making them more versatile commercially. For example, they may be shifted to areas where women, perhaps because of large-scale raids or the falls of cities, may suddenly be abundant and cheap, and to areas, too, where there may be an unusual increase in retail demand. It also made them, I suppose, more difficult to trace, if anyone were interested in doing that sort of thing. A disadvantage of such camps is that they are more vulnerable to attack than if they were located in, say, housings or courts within a city" s walls. On the other hand, they are usually located quite near cities, usually within the sight of their walls, and this tends to reduce to some extent the likelihood of such attacks. In any such camp, of course, and there had been in this one, there are usually several merchants. These are generally both wholesalers and retailers, but primarily wholesalers, for retailers are usually indigenous of given cities. These wholesalers usually distribute to retailers, in their individual cities, or, often, also, in well-known slaving centers, of which there are many, for example, Ar, Ko-ro-ba, Venna, Vonda, Victoria, on the Vosk, Market of Semris, Besnit, Esalinus, Harfax, Corcynus, Argentum, Torcadino, and others. Most of the wholesalers, I supposed, do have permanent headquarters, somewhere, but they, or their agents, often frequent these camps, as well, availing themselves of the considerable advantages accruing to their trade in such places. The group with which I now was contained, as had the original coffle, ten girls. Three, however, were new girls, all Goreans, and we now had only seven of the original ten in the wagon. Gloria and Clarissa, as well as myself, interestingly, all the Earth Girls, were still with this group. We did not know who the wholesaler was who had handled us. As soon as land had first been sighted, we had again, the original coffle of us, been subjected to our original securities, our hands back-manacled, our mouths gagged, our heads covered with heavy, opaque, buckled, locked hoods. These manacles, gags and hoods, and our neck chain, had been removed only in the cages in the slave tents. This morning we had been put, rather as normal slaves, subjected apparently to only ordinary securities, in the wagon. I think we were all pleased at this new lenience, effective as it still was, in the manner of our keeping. I know I was. We were now, apparently, as nearly as I could tell, being delivered to one or more retail outlets.

"Look!" said one of the girls. "There are so many burned buildings here!" We saw that what she had said was true, peeping out. It seemed, here, that an entire district, or streets, at least, of buildings, had been burned in this area. It did not seem that the fires had been of recent origin. They may have happened weeks, or months, ago. Indeed, in various places, sometimes between gutted, blackened shells of buildings, there were cleared areas. Here it seemed that burned structures must have been razed, and debris carted away. Here and there, too, supporting this idea, were great heaps of charred timber and rubble, presumably awaiting some disposition. In many places tents and temporary buildings, sometimes little more than shacks, had been erected. Too, here and there, permanent structures, with basements and foundations, and stone walls, seemed clearly to be in the process of construction.

"I am sure this is Brundisium," said the girl who had first spoken. "There was a great fire in Brundisium five months ago."

"Call out to someone," suggested another girl. "Ask."

"Not me," said the first girl. "You call out."

"Clarissa," said one of the Gorean girls. "You ask." She did not mind risking Clarissa. Clarissa had been very popular with the guards. We were all, or those of us who had been with her in the former house, somewhat jealous, I suppose, of her attractiveness to them. We probably all wished we could have been that desirable. She had even received candies. I thought, however, that perhaps if I had not been forced to wear the iron belt, I, too, might have been similarly popular. I, too, might have received a candy or two. I was sure that I, if I had set my mind to it, could have pleased a man, and myself, as well as she! To be sure, I reassured myself, quickly, assuaging a shred of the dignity of the frigid Earth female, still left in me at the time, I would have had no choice in the matter. I would have been whipped, or punished terribly, or perhaps even killed, if I had not. And, certainly, too, guards had been interested in me. More than once, they had investigated, and tested, and seemingly to their anger and disappointment, the obduracy and effectiveness of the metal device in which I had been fastened.

"Gloria," suggested the Gorean girl.

"No!" said Gloria.

"Doreen, then," said the Gorean girl, Ha.

"No, no," I said. I did not want the driver or guard to hear me call out to anyone. I was not interested in being whipped tonight.

"Earth she-urts," said the Gorean girl.

"You do it," said Gloria. I was pleased Gloria spoke up. She was a larger girl. She could stand up to the Gorean girl, who was also a larger girl. I was smaller, and afraid of her.

The Gorean girl, Ila, however, did not call out to anyone, either. She, too, was afraid. She, too, as we, belonged to those brutes, men. She, too, no more than we, cared to be placed beneath their imperious, disciplinary lash.

I delighted to look out through the crack between the wood and the canvas and silk. This was a beautiful world, and I reveled in it. I found almost everything I saw different and interesting, the men and women, the children, the clothes, their accouterments, the streets, the buildings, the tents, the stalls, the trees, the flowers, everything. It seemed to open, and beautiful, and free, though, to be sure, I within it was a slave. I was startled, and a little frightened, even, byt the strange, scaled, long-necked, placid, lizardlike quadrupled that drew the wagon. These might be human beings, here, but I was not on Earth.

"Oh, no," said one of the Gorean girls, angrily, in frustration. "We are coming to the gate! We are going to be leaving the city!"

Three or four of the other girls, too, Goreans, all moaned in protest.

"I want to be sold here!" said one of them.

"What difference does it make?" asked Gloria, peeping out.

"Earth fool!" said one of them, "you know nothing! You can wear your collar in a small town, in a camp, in a peasant village, if you want! I want to wear mine in a great city!"

"Let Gloria pull a plow, let her hoe weeds, let her carry water on a great farm," said one of the girls.

"She is too pretty," said another Gorean girl. "No peasant could afford her." I hoped that I, too, might be too pretty for a peasant to afford.

"One has a much easier life, almost always, in a city," said one of the Gorean girls.

"It depends on your master," said another.

"Yes," agreed another.

I supposed that was true. The most important thing was not whether you were in a city or not, but your master. He would surely be the most important single element in your life. You would belong to him, literally. However, I thought, it might be nice, other things being equal, to live in one of these lovely cities. Also doubtless the labors of a slave in such a city would be easier on the whole than those of one, say, on a farm.

"Pull the canvas down, quickly," said one of the girls. "We are coming to the gate!"

We pulled the canvas and silk down, as best we could, and then, very quietly, turned about and sat in the wagon. We heard papers being checked. Then we heard a man" s voice. "Stay as you are. Don" t kneel." The canvas at the front of the wagon was opened, and a man, from the floor space before the wagon box, looked in upon us. We sat quietly, not meeting his eyes, naked, the chains on our ankles about the central bar. "Ten kajirae," he said. This word was the plural of «kajira» which was one of the words, the most common one, for what we were. It means, "slave girl", "slave woman", «she-slave», that sort of thing. The brand on my left thigh was a cursive «kef», the first letter in the word «kajira». The best translation is doubtless "slave girl". Then he closed the canvas again. Then, in a bit, we had trundled through the gate. Apparently we had only cut through this city, which might be Brundisium, enroute to somewhere else. We had saved time, it seemed, taking this route, rather than driving about its walls, it was, I gathered, a large city.

"So, where are we going?" asked one of the Gorean girls, of another. "Samnium, doubtless Samnium," was the response.

8 The Platform; The Annex to the Sales Barn

I sat on the long, heavy, wooden platform, raised about a foot above the dirt, one of several in this exposition area, in this annex of the sales barn, naked, my feet tucked back, near my left thigh, my ankles crossed, my left hand on my left ankle, my weight muchly on the palm of my right hand, on the platform. A chain was on my neck, an individual chain. It was about five feet long. It ran from a ring set in the platform to my collar.

We were not in Samnium, but in the Market of Semris. This is a much smaller town, south, and somewhat to the east, of Samnium. It is best known, interestingly enough, ironically enough, as an important livestock market. In particular, it is famed for its sales of tarsks. Too, of course, there are markets here for slaves.

"This is not Samnium!" had cried Ila, when the canvas and silk had been pulled aside, and the central bar unlocked from its socket.

"No," said the fellow handling us. "It is the Market of Semris." "Those are tarsk cages!" had cried Ila, when we had been unshackled. We had been lifted down from the wagon and placed on our feet in a high-walled courtyard. The shackles usually stay with the wagon, particularly when the wagon does not belong to the dealer to whom delivery is being made. The cages to which she referred were to the left, a few feet away, against the wall of the courtyard. There was, too, very strong, the smell of animals in this place. "Yes," said the fellow. "But tonight tarsks are not being sold, not four-legged tarsks, at any rate."

"I will not be sold here!" cried Ila.

He indicated the cages to our left. We stood there, barefoot, closely together, in the dirt. Too, was straw scattered about. It was muchly broken and trampled. In the dirt there were numerous tracks and prints, many of them of small hoofs, marking perhaps the place of passage of small groups of some sort of animal. Too, there were the tracks of wagon wheels there, and of sandals and boots, and of small, high-arched bare feet, doubtless those of girls. The cages were long, low and narrow, such as may be stacked and tied on long, flatbed wagons. They had stout frames of metal, were floored with sheet metal, and roofed, sided and gated with heavy meshes of a chain-link-type metal, the links passed through, and clinched in, apertures in the frame. As the mesh was formed its openings were about two-inches square.

"I will never get in such a thing!" cried Ila. "Never!"

Then the lash, from behind her, fell upon her, and she sank crying out, reaching behind her, sobbing, to her knees, and then, with the next blow, was flung by its force to her belly in the dirt before the man. Thrice there in the dirt was she struck, writhing and sobbing, begging forgiveness. Then, on her hands and knees, swiftly, at a gesture, she crawled, poked by sharp sticks, hastened by the cry "Quickly, she-tarsk!" to the first of the low, narrow cages and scrambled, weeping, within it. She was a large girl, and formidable to us, except perhaps to Gloria, but, compared to the men, she was only another female, no different from us. Compared to them, her size and strength, really only that of a woman, was, like ours, when all was said and done, simply negligible. Compared to them she was, like us, simply small and weak. Before them, and to them, she could never be any more than we, only another female, small, lovely and helpless, a mere female, totally at their mercy. We looked swiftly, wildly at one another and, in these swiftly exchanged glances, I think, honestly, there was pleasure as well as fear. We were pleased that the insolent Ila, often so pretentious and lofty with us, had been put immediately and sternly, to her instruction and anguish, in her place, that of a female slave, like us. We were glad the men had taken the action they had. We had been reassured by it. In it we had had a demonstration of their firmness and power, of the meaningfulness and reality of their mastery. It had served, too, to remind us all, graphically, of what we all were, women, and slaves, and that we were subject, as such, to them. The insolence of Ila, too, was an embarrassment to us, and, in its way, a reflection on us, and our sex. To be sure, we were also afraid. We did not wish her behavior to draw down the wrath of the men on us all. We were not eager to share the lash with her. We now saw Ila in the cage, her fingers hooked in the mesh, looking out. Her eyes were frightened. In them, too, there was grievous pain. She was a lashed slave. The rest of us then, quickly, at gestures, hurried to the cages, dropped to all fours, and entered them. Two cages sufficed us all.

I sat on the long, heavy, wooden platform, raised about a foot from the dirt, one of several in this exposition area, in this annex to the sales barn, naked, my feet tucked back, near my left thigh, my ankles crossed, my left hand on my left ankle, my weight muchly on the palm of my right hand, on the bench. A chain was on my neck, an individual chain. It was about five feet long. It ran from a ring set in the platform to my collar. On the upper portion of my left breast something was written, inscribed there with a grease pencil. I had heard that it was the number "89." I could not read it. It was my lot number.

"Out, out, hurry!" had said the man this morning, pounding with his pointed stick on the linked, metal mesh of the cage" s roof. We had mostly backed out, for the cages were narrow, and then remained there, in the dirt, in the gray light of the early morning, on all fours. During the morning and afternoon of the day before, when we had first arrived in Market of Semris, after we were caged, other wagons had arrived, and unloaded their own fair occupants, they, too, in short order, to be caged. Still later that afternoon some groups of small, fat, grunting, bristly, brindled, shaggy-maned, hoofed, flat-snouted, rooting animals had been herded in, also with pointed sticks, and they, too, had been guided into identical cages. We had looked out of our cage, our fingers hooked in the mesh, to other cages, some of them with girls in them, some with the fat, flat-snouted, grunting, short-legged, brindled quadrupeds.

"Those are tarsks," said one of the Gorean girls.

I nodded.

They were not to be sold that night, however, I had gathered. We had learned that that night tarsks were not to be sold, not «four-legged» tarsks, at any rate. I recalled the other footprints we had seen in the dirt, left over, probably, from the day before, those smaller, lovelier, daintier, high-arched prints, doubtless those of girls. I did not know where they were. I would later learn that they were in the exposition area, on the platforms, where we, the next day, would find ourselves. The day in the cage had been warm, and the night, too, had not been unpleasant, but, toward morning, it had cool. Happily it had not rained. I shivered. I was glad to be out of the cage, moving now, on my hands and knees, in the dirt, across the courtyard. I had not yet been given clothing on this planet. We had had, however, in the house where I had been trained, blankets in our kennels.

"Stop," had said our herder, he with the stick. "Wait."

We had come to a long, narrow, wooden, calked, semicircular tanklike container, about two feet wide and ten feet long, half buried in the dirt, its forward edge reached by a low ramp. It was filled with a dark fluid. Here we had to wait while a group of fifteen tarsks, one by one, herded up the ramp, plunged into the fluid and swam to the other side where, scrambling out of the container, they shook themselves, and hastened down the descent ramp.

"Now you two-legged tarsks," said the man, waving toward the container with his stick.

We shuddered. None of us, I am sure, cared to enter that dark fluid.

"Do not swallow the fluid," he said.

We looked at one another, from our hands and knees. We would be sure not to do so. We needed no encouragement in the matter. Clearly it would not be simple water.

"You, first, two-legged tarsk," he said to Ila.

"Yes, Master!" she said, hastening to obey, hurrying up the ramp on all fours and plunging into the dark fluid. In an instant she was in the center of the container. A little past that point, one of the men, reaching over the side of the structure, thrust her head under the fluid. Then, in a moment, she was scrambling out of the container.

"Stay on your feet," she was told.

"Yes, Master," she said, now at the foot of the descent ramp, shivering, holding her arms about herself. Ila, we noted, to our satisfaction, was now properly deferential. Too, she was quick to obey. It seemed she had learned her lesson yesterday, that she was, like us, a woman and a slave. As she had been the first into the first cage yesterday, and we had had, for the most part, to back out of the narrow enclosures, it was natural that she had been at the head of our group this morning. i, for what it was worth, whether it was meaningful or not, whether it was a tribute to my beauty, or an indication of my assumed esthetic inferiority to the others, or a matter of accident, of simple happenstance or original positioning, with no significance, or height or whatever, was again at the end of the group. To be sure, I was neither the tallest nor the shortest of the group. One of the Gorean girls, Tutina, was smaller than I. It was, thus, I think, only an accident in its way, at least with respect to what was going on this morning, that Ila had been chosen to be the first to enter the fluid. The man had not even seemed to remember that she had been refractory, or resistant, the day before. He was thus kindly, I think, letting her begin again. I plunged from the incline of the ramp, from my hands and knees, into the dark liquid, on my belly, as had the others before me, and the tarsks before them. I was suddenly almost totally immersed. I cried out, sputtering, raising my head. It was shockingly cold. It seemed foul. My head went under again and again I desperately raised it. I then had my feet under me, and stood up, the fluid about my waist. I was then, by a man" s hand in my hair, pulled from my feet forward, and again into the liquid. It was stinging my eyes and nose. My eyes were filled with them. I could barely see. I thrashed forward and then, wildly, reaching about, seized the side. I pulled myself, then, clinging to the side, the fluid swirling about my neck, toward the other end. Apparently they wanted us well immersed. At the center point a man seized me by the hair and, to my acute distress, forced my head under the fluid, for a terrible second or two, and then released me. I then, moving forward, getting my feet under me, climbed stumbling, falling, splashing, up the end of the container, and pulled myself, at last, gratefully, onto the descent ramp. In a moment I was standing with the others, in the dirt, in the open courtyard, near the foot of the descent ramp. I was freezing. My teeth were chattering. I held my hands about myself, trembling with cold.

"This way," said the man.

Hurriedly we followed him. I looked about. I wondered if the others could possibly be as miserable as I was. I was extremely sensitive to cold, and to feelings of almost all sorts. I wondered if one of the criteria for selecting a woman for slavery might be her tactile sensitivity. I myself, I know, am extremely sensitive to such things as textures, for example, the feel of silk or leather, or a manacle, on my body. It is sometimes almost as though my entire skin was a single, extensive, sheetlike, marvelous tactile organ. Too, I reacted to the feel of a man" s hands on me, even in handling me in so simple a manner as to put me in a cage. These types of skin sensitivity, of course, make us much more alive to our environment. Indeed, part of our training was to increase our awareness of subtle sensations. These features and capacities, too, of course, made us more sensitive to both pain and pleasure. Thus, they put us all the more, it seemed, at the mercy of masters. I looked about. Surely none of the girls could be as miserable as I! But I saw them, in their misery, in their cruel discomfort, regard me as well. I wondered if they were thinking the same thoughts as I. We were all terribly miserable. We were all such, it seemed, as to be helplessly at the mercy of our sensitivities, tactile and otherwise, of our helpless responsiveness, and our feelings.

"This way," said the man.

We were very pleased to follow him into a large, wooden building.

"This is the annex to the sales barn," he said. "The exposition spaces are here."

I hardly heard him, so eager I was to get within the building. Within, in the center of the building, in the center of its dirt floor, was a fire pit, in which blazed a cheerful fire. His stick, held out, prevented us from running toward it. Then, amused, he lowered the stick, and we ran to stand near the fire, crowding about it. Blankets, too, rough and brown, were there, in piles, and, permitted, at a gesture of the stick, we seized them up and clutched them gratefully about us, drying our bodies, and our hair.

There seemed five exits from the lofty, raftered room. We had entered through one, coming in from the courtyard; another led through double doors to our right, and another, also with double doors, now barred, lay at one end of the room. It seemed to lead to another yard. There were also two smaller doors, giving access perhaps to offices and corridors. In this large room there were also a large number o flow, sturdy platforms, raised about a foot above the dirt flooring. Some of these platforms were flush with the walls, but others, by far the larger number, were arranged at regular intervals, about four feet apart, in rows, the effect being that of providing aisles between and about them. I did not know about the platforms next to the wall, but it seemed that the platforms in the open part of the room, though formidable, and heavy, would be movable. They could thus be brought out, and arranged, or removed, or dismantled, and taken away, it seemed, according to desire. In this fashion it seemed the room might be capable of serving various purposes.

"Comb your hair," said a man, bringing out a box of wooden combs, "and then you will be fed."

We took the combs and knelt, letting the blankets fall about our waist, and combed our hair. I think it pleased the men to see us do this. Gorean men relish women, and enjoy watching them, even in the performance of such simple, homely acts as combing their hair. To be sure, we were bare-breasted, and slaves, and obeying. We had not been asked to form a combing circle, probably because they were willing to permit us to remain in the vicinity of the fire. There were too few of us to circumscribe the fire. We would have had to withdraw from the fire, or most of us. In the combing circle we kneel in a circle, each girl combing the hair of the girl in front of her. Making us comb our hair before we were fed, incidentally, is typical of the manner in which Gorean men treat female slaves. The woman is to be presentable and beautiful, before she is permitted food. How much darker, I noted, did my hair, and that of the other brunets look, when it was wet. The combs were of yellow wood, and had long teeth. The entire comb, including the teeth, was about five inches square. There are various hairdos in which such combs are worn in the hair. usually, however, the hair of slaves is worn long, and loose, or confined only in some simple way, as with a ribbon or woolen fillet. Some masters like the ponytail hairdo on a slave, which, on Gor, is usually spoken of as the "leash," or "hair leash," for, by it, a girl may be conveniently seized and controlled. Upswept hairdos are usually reserved for free women, or high slaves. They are a hairdo of that sort to a slave is the master" s pleasure in undoing it, in loosening it, thus reminding even the high slave that in his arms, ultimately, she, the high slave, is yet a slave, and as much or more than the lowest girl in the most remote village. The loosening of a woman" s hair on Gor in an extremely sensuous, meaningful act. "Who loosens her hair?" is a way of asking, in effect, who owns her.

"When is Teibar coming to inspect these women?" asked a man.

I suddenly almost fainted. Teibar! He had not abandoned me, I thought wildly. I gasped. I looked about wildly. Some of the other girls looked at me, strangely, unable to understand my sudden agitation. My heart palpitated madly. Surely everyone must hear it. My breast heaved. I fought for breath. The other girls perhaps thought me mad. I did not care! It made no difference! Teibar owned me! I was his! Teibar! He was here! He had not forgotten me! He wanted me! He had come for me! It was I he had picked out, even on Earth! I would love and serve him forever, forever and forever, no more than a dog at his feet, but living in the light of his presence, a loving, panting bitch, loving him forever, loving him forever with a love beyond love!

"What is wrong?" whispered Gloria.

"Nothing!" I whispered. "Nothing! Nothing!"

"They are bringing food," said a girl.

"It smells good," said little Tutina.

"Yes, yes," I said.

I sat on the long, low wooden platform, in the annex to the sales barn, in the exposition area, naked, my feet tucked back, near my left thigh, my ankles crossed, my left hand on my left ankle, my right hand supporting most of my weight, the chain on my neck dropping down to the wood, to my right, then lifting, running back over my thighs, then keeping its rendezvous with its ring, behind me and to my left. On my left breast, on its upper portion, inscribed there with a grease pencil, in Gorean, was a number. I had been told it was "89," and that it was my lot number.

After we had eaten this morning, thought I, so excited, had scarcely touched food, we were knelt in a line, facing one of the small doors.

I had strained to hear the smallest scraps of conversation among our keepers. I had learned that this place was an appurtenance of the house of Teibar, who was a well-known slaver in Market of Semris. He owned this complex and dealt also in the sales of livestock, in particular those of tarsks. This particular complex was, it seemed, on of the best-known areas in Market of Semris for the sales of tarsks. Indeed, in the very area where I now was, the platforms cleared away and pens put forth, projected sales lots of tarsks were commonly displayed, often prize lots, to be bid upon later in the sales barn itself. To be sure, the platforms made it obvious that this area, too, could, and did, serve another purpose, as well, the vending of yet another form of livestock, the female slave. To be sure, most of his sales, those of women, apparently took place at another facility, one more precisely adapted to their display and merchandising. How like Teibar I had thought, to deal in both tarsks and women. I had smiled. He well knew how to keep us in our place, did he not? And what a rich joke, I had thought, this was doubtless supposed to be, that I would find myself here, his "modern woman," in a place where really, more appropriately, and usually, not women, but tarks, were sold! It was this place, I had surmised, thinking I had penetrated his joke, where he had planned to reclaim me. I suddenly finding myself again in his power, that of the house of Teibar, and in a very complex of his, "where women such as I might be bought and sold." Surely he had planned this coup, this joyful, lovely trick, his master" s jest, so rich and delicious, even from the time of the library on Earth, even from the time the conical, stiff, rubberized mask had been placed over my nose and mouth. We were kneeling, facing on of the small doors.

"Heads to the dirt!" called a man.

Swiftly we assumed a common form of slave obeisance, kneeling, the palms of our hands on the ground, our heads to the ground. Many masters, though it tends to be rather associated, usually, with given cities, require this position of their girls, usually when they first enter his presence, or find themselves, as in a room, which he has entered, in his prison. She is then, usually, when given permission, permitted to lift her head, but is to remain kneeling before him, beautifully, in a standard position, her knees closed if she is a house slave or tower slave, her knees open, if she was the sort of slave I was, whatever sort of slave that was supposed to be. It is almost universal, as far as I know, that a slave kneels in one fashion or another, when entering her master" s presence, or if she should find herself in his presence. She also commonly kneels when spoken to by any free person. This is simply a matter of respect. To be sure, she can be slain, if she does not do so. The kneeling position, of course, which is usually required to break, is commonly an initial position. For example, after its deferential assumption, she may be dismissed from it, to other duties, such as cleaning, shopping or cooking.

I began to tremble, violently. I could not lift my head and look, of course. At the end of our line I sensed men.

"I think you will find these a good lot," someone said. That pleased me. I wanted our lot, or our group, to be a good one, and I wanted, if possible, to be the best in it! I wanted that, if only for Teibar. But I heard no response to the man" s remark.

"Lift your head," I heard a man say to someone, at the end of the line. It had to be Ila.

"Excellent," said someone. Ila, I conjectured, was now being scrutinized. She was doubtless kneeling very beautifully.

"What do you think, Teibar?" I heard.

I again almost fainted that Teibar, my master, he who had come to reclaim me, was near.

Then I feared, terribly, that he might more desire Ila than me. A wave of sudden terrible hatred swept over me. I wanted suddenly to leap up, screaming, and run at her, like a raging cat, to scratch out her eyes, to tear every last strand of that long, silky blond hair out of her head! Then I was frightened. I remained exactly in place. I did not move. I could be terribly punished, perhaps even tortured and killed, if I, a mere property, seriously injured, or diminished the value of, another property. Short of such things, though, we could do much what we wanted to one another, and Ila was larger and stronger than I! I felt helpless.

But there had been no response to the man" s question.

I reassured myself that it was not Ila he had wanted. He could have had her at the house of our training, or bought her there, and for a discount, if he had wanted! He hadn" t! to be sure, she was a larger woman than I, and meatier. Did that make her better? I did not know. Perhaps she was more beautiful! I did not know. I did know that I was beautiful, and even if I were not as beautiful as she, I was desperately needful, willing and loving. Surely such things should count for something! Too, it seemed, undeniably, that he had found me desirable. I thought and hoped, that perhaps I might be special to him, somehow, in some way, more so than others, as he was to me, he who was the loved, dreaded master of my heart.

"Stand," said a man to Ila. She stood. Something then, it seemed, was done to her. "Kneel," she was told. She knelt.

I kept my head down, kneeling. I trembled. I awaited the approach of my master. "Look up," had said the man, then, and then "Stand," and then, after a moment, "Kneel," to one of the women, after another, approaching me, done the line. "Look up," he said to the woman next to me, Gloria. She was a large girl, with swirling red hair. To be sure, before the men, she could be, like Ila, only another female slave.

"Stand," was said to Gloria. She stood. Something was done to her. "Kneel," she was told. She knelt.

I kept my head down. They were then before me! I trembled. I awaited the command to lift my head, to view my master, to greet him with joy, to prove to him that I was no longer a hated "modern woman," no longer a spoiled, pampered woman of a sick, antibiological world, that I was now only his, a female slave, vulnerable and exposed in the fullness of her womanhood, belonging to him, totally, fully on his own terms, on his own world.

"This, Teibar," said a man, "is the last of the lot."

I had been saved for last. My master had saved me for last!

"Look up," said a man.

"What is wrong with her?" asked a man.

"What is wrong with you?" asked another.

"Speak," said another.

I looked wildly, sick, from one face to another. I was shaking. I tried, wildly, irrationally, to shut from my mind what I saw. I tried, in my mind, to change what I saw. I tried, wildly, irrationally, to force myself to see another, among those faces, one who must be there.

"Where is Teibar?" I asked.

"I am Teibar," said one of the men.

I began to shake, uncontrollably.

"Stand," said a man.

But I was so weak I could not stand.

One of the men went behind me and lifted me up, by the arms, holding me. I almost lost consciousness.

I felt a pressure on the upper portion of my left breast, it seemed to be being drawn upon, or marked, by a cylindrical object with a soft, smooth, rounded point. It traversed my skin easily, with little friction, though I was clearly aware of its downward pressure. In the wake of the object there appeared a bright, thick, red line, moving about and circling, completing a course, a configuration, on me, which perhaps to some who looked upon it, but not to me, was significant. And then, in a moment, the object was withdrawn, the marking fixed upon me. I looked down upon it, what was written on me.

"You have it?" asked the man with the cylindrical marking device, some sort of grease pencil, to another, who held a clipboard, with attached papers.

"yes," said the fellow with the board, making a notation on the papers. "Kneel," said the fellow with the pencil, putting it back in one of the compartments of an open, triple-sheath attached to his belt.

The man who was supporting me, holding me from behind, let me sink to my knees. I could not stand by myself.

I looked down at my breast, at what was written there, so boldly and brightly.

"Can you read?" asked a man, he who had said he was Teibar.

"No, Master," I whispered.

"You are an Earth female, are you not?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I whispered.

"Perhaps, as an Earth female," he said, "you are not used to having your body written upon, for the convenience of men."

"No, Master," I said.

"But here you will grow used to it," he said. "Too, here, you are no longer really, an Earth female. You are now no longer of Earth. You not belong to this world, ours."

"Yes, Master," I said. It was true. I now belonged to this world.

"Would you like to know what it says?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"It is the number "89," " he said. "It is the number of your individual sales lot."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"What is wrong?" he asked.

I looked up at him, tears in my eyes.

"I am Teibar," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Ah," he said, softly, "it is then some other Teibar you were thinking of." "Yes, Master," I whispered.

"Teibar," he said, "is a common name."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"It is a very common name," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Hold her," I thought I heard someone say. Then I must have lost consciousness. I sat, waiting, on the long, heavy, wooden platform, raised a foot or so above the dirt floor of the exposition area, it located in the annex to Teibar" s sales barn, he of Market of Semris, a dealer in tarsks, as they said, four-legged and two-legged. The platform was one of several, arranged in orderly rows. The platform I was on was near the center of the room. I sat there, waiting, small, helpless, naked, my feet tucked back, near my left thigh, my ankles crossed, as though they might be held together by a small chain, my left hand on my left ankle, my weight muchly on the palm of my right hand, a chain on my neck, running to its ring in the platform. I do not know how long I had been unconscious. I had awakened here, on the platform, feeling its heavy, sturdy, smooth wooden surface beneath my body. I had also become aware of the chain on my neck. A little later I learned what space and movement it would permit me. I could stand comfortably in it. This was intentional on the part of the masters, being connected with a concept of latitudes suitable for the appropriate display of merchandise. We were a ten-lot originally, it seemed, but as though in anticipation of a projected decision, we had been given different lot numbers. It seems they had not been fully decided, at least at one point, whether to sell us as a unit, a given ten-lot, or to break the ten-lot and sell us individually. They had now decided, it seemed, to sell us individually. I suppose it was a sound commercial decision, given the conditions current in their area. i do not really know. At any rate, they would do what they wanted, the same as with any other sort of merchandise. We were not the only ten-lot now in the room. There were girls, now, on most of the platforms, usually three girls to a platform. These others, I gathered, had been brought in during the day by wagons, or had perhaps been marched over from some other facility. Such things were the concerns of masters, not mine. My head was down. There was a number of my left breast. I was alone. Teibar, my master, who had so easily and imperiously captured me on Earth, and who had brought me here, seeing to it that I was suitably impressed into helpless bondage, had not wanted me. My hopes had been absurd. How naA?ve I had been. what a fool I had been. I should have known better. I could cry no more. It was now early in the evening. Somewhat before noon we had been watered, doubtless that we would be freshened and our bellies pleasantly rounded. The men, customers, natives of the locality, agents, dealers and others, were then admitted, to examine us, and, if interested, take notes on our lot numbers. On the platforms, I, and others, had endured the most intimate scrutinies. They had moved about us, circulating here and there, going from one platform to another. They usually did this, it seemed, in a precise pattern, beginning at one point or another, thus making certain that the contents of ever platform came within their purview, that they did not miss even one of the displayed wares. We, of course, perforce, must respond to their instructions. We found ourselves often standing, or sitting or kneeling, or moving or assuming attitudes, or pursing our lips, and so on, according to their commands. In these times we were often handled quite objectively, the firmness of our breasts and thighs being tested, and so on. But then animals are often handled on such a basis, slapped on the flanks, and such. Sometimes they would even put us bodily in desired attitudes. They wanted to form some ideas, it seemed, as to our condition and soundness, and what it might be for them, or their clients, to own us. We were even, occasionally, touched intimately. Under such attentions I could not help squirming. This seemed to amuse them. I gathered from some of their remarks, somewhat indelicate remarks, scarcely fit for the ears of an Earth woman, or one who had once been from Earth, that under true male attentions I might prove to be utterly helpless. I found this dubious. I assumed that it wasfalse. I would learn later that it was not. Still I was so distraught, so much numbed, so much in shock, so despondent, so much in despair, so miserable over my rejection by Teibar, that I was not even remotely as responsive as I would normally have been. and this had to do not simply with feelings. Sometimes I was hardly aware of, or caring of, what was being done to me. Sometimes I knelt, and moved, and posed, almost without understanding or thinking about what was being done to me. To these men, I am sure, I must have appeared, though perhaps beautiful, inert. They were now gone. The exposition area was now closed to the public. It was in the early evening. I supposed that we would be watered again, later, that we might again appear fresh, our skin with excellent tone, glistening and smooth, our bellies sweetly rounded. After a large breakfast this morning, we had been fed very lightly, however, only a handful of dry gruel put in our mouths after the closing of the exposition area. To be sure, I supposed it was enough for us. We need far less food than men. It is cheaper to feed us than male slaves. There were other reasons, of course, why we had been fed so lightly today. Tonight they did not want us to be lethargic or sluggish. Too, they did not wish, particularly in the case of new girls, their stomachs turning and wrenching in misery, and terror, to risk disgusting accidents.

"Position!" we heard.

Immediately every girl on every platform assumed position. I looked about, as I could. Every girl that I saw has assumed, as I had, the open-kneed position. It was required of them. I gathered, as it was required of me. They were all attractive. I wondered what sort of slaves we were, that we must kneel in this fashion.

In a few moments we were lined up, according to our separate lots. I at the end of mine, facing not the large, closed double doors which let to the area outside, those doors through which the customers had entered, but the other large, closed double doors, those which, apparently led somewhere else. Gloria was in front of me, as usual. Her hands were manacled behind her back. my hands, too, were identically secured. On her neck, as on mine, was a buckled, two-ringed, leather collar. It was the sort of collar which may be easily put on, and removed from, a girl. The girl, of course, if manacled as we were, is helpless in it. The rings are located at 180 degrees from one another. This permits girls to be fastened, the collar oriented appropriately, either side by side, in ranks, or behind one another, in files. A leather strap, with snaps at both ends, joins the rings, usually the ring at the back of one collar to the ring at the front of another. Gloria, being ahead of me, was thus leashed to the ring at the back of the girl" s collar ahead of her, and I was leashed to the ring at the back of Gloria" s collar. As I was at the end of the line, the ring at the back of my collar hung free, against the leather, not utilized.

The double doors before us, were opened.

I could see a long corridor, dimly lit with lamps. It was, like the exposition area, floored with dirt. That made sense, as doubtless tarsks, those of the four-footed variety, those bristly, squat, grunting animals, as opposed to the two-footed variety, those soft, smooth, shapely animals, were often conducted through it.

I looked down the long, dark, dirt-floored corridor.

Our group, it seemed, would be neither the first, nor, given our position, the last to enter that corridor.

I looked down at the writing on my left breast. It was, I had been told, an "89," my lot number.

We had been fed very lightly today.

There was a reason for that. Tonight we were going on the block.

9 The Sales Barn; The Block; The Cage

Our group would be the next into the shoot. We could see it on the other side of the barred gate, the narrow, wooden ramp, with the low, wooden walls, open at the top, with the two gates, one for the shoot itself, to control the number of animals entering it, the other, slanting, behind which men might stand, which, when closed, given its diagonal, served to guide animals into the shoot, the shoot" s gate, for such a purpose, then being held back, or, if it were desired to admit several animals, hooked back, open.

Gloria, ahead of me, was squatting over the bowl.

We were still in line, but we were no longer in the two-ringed, leather collars, or leashed, or manacled. Bars were in front of us, and behind us. This was one of several holding areas, and the last before the shoot. Two holding areas back we had been given water, order to drink plentifully. That water, of course, as of yet, had not had time to pass through our system.

A man slid the bowl back to me. "Relieve yourself," he said.

I squatted over the bowl.

"How do you feel?" asked the man. I looked up. it was Teibar, he of Market of Semris. His voice was kindly. He seemed not unconcerned. The last time he had seen me, I supposed, might have been when I had collapsed, unconscious, overcome, before him, and the others, in the exposition area, shortly after my lot number had been written on my breast.

"Very well, Master, I said. "Thank you, Master."

He then turned away. Like most Gorean men, and unlike Teibar, the Teibar who had captured me, he seemed to bear me no ill will, or hostility, on the grounds that I might be from Earth. Perhaps he no more than most others, knew what was going on there. To him I was doubtless no more than another pretty girl, another charming female, correctly imbonded.

I was still squatting over the bowl.

I looked up and met the eyes of the other fellow, he who had slid the bowl back to me, he who had ordered me to relieve myself. They were stern. "Yes, Master!" I said. Quickly then I relieved myself. I thought to myself with bitter amusement how Teibar, my Teibar, might have smiled, to see me squatting here, his "modern woman, now a frightened slave, on his world, relieving herself at a man" s command. Doubtless he had known full well, he, a native of this world, that such things would be required of me. The bowl, incidentally, is not an improper precaution. It is often used before sales. Though there is usually a liberal sprinkling of sawdust on the block it is usually there less, I think, for practical purposed than for symbolic ones, for example, making clear the animal nature of what is vended, reverence for tradition. Still it could serve. The bowl, however, is better.

I stepped away from the bowl. The man pushed it with his foot to the side. I looked toward the front of the holding area. I was startled. Ila, and at least three of the other girls, had already entered the shoot. They were on all fours, crawling up the wooden ramp. Two men along the edge of the shoot, standing outside it, with pointed sticks, spaced them, and informed them, one at a time, when to move ahead. Then two other girls were sent through the barred gate to the end of the shoot. There, at its opening, on the wood, they were ordered to all fours. I suppose this amused the men. Too, it was appropriate, given the dimensions of the shoot. It was really made, like this facility, as a whole, it seemed, for the vending of four-footed animals, primarily, I supposed, tarsks. I then saw little Tutina taken through the gate and put in the shoot. She was tiny, but dainty, lovely thighed, and very prettily curved. I thought she might bring a high price. I wondered what I would sell for. I was not even aware, really, of the monetary system here, or its units, or their worth. Too, I would not know what the other girls sold for, I supposed. Perhaps I could find out from my master, whether the price I had gone for was a good one or not. I hoped he would not whip me for such curiosity. I had been told the "curiosity was not becoming in a kajira." On the other hand I suspected that the very existence of such a saying witnessed in its way the widespread nature of exactly such a charming feature, or weakness. Doubtless females were as curious here, as elsewhere. I hoped that I would not be sold to a brothel or tavern. I saw Clarissa put in the shoot. That startled me. How could that be? She was from Earth! How could that be done to her? She was different! But she was not different. She was only another female. Gloria was in front of me, standing at the gate. She, too was from Earth. We were Earth girls. Surely this could not be happening to us! I was guided by the arm toward the barred gate. I saw Clarissa hastened in the shoot by the jab of a pointed stick. The shoot" s gate was held shut behind her. She moved in the shoot, I noted, like the other girls, the Gorean girls, no differently. Gloria was thrust through the barred gate to the shoot gate. I recalled how Clarissa had, one evening at the house where we had been trained, early in our training, been, or pretended to have been, refractory, and how the other girls had disciplined her. She had then, the meaninglessness and absurdity of her little rebellion, or pretended rebellion, demonstrated to her, accepted, and then rejoiced in, her bondage. She had now learned that she was a slave, totally, and only, that. I was sure she would prove a marvelous purchase for a man. Even the guards, not easy to please, had given her candies. I thought she would be marvelous, lovely Clarissa, in a man" s domicile, and in his arms. Then I wondered how I could even think such things. She was from Earth! Then I realized that such considerations were quite beside the point, quite inconsequential. Clarissa was no longer a free woman, and of Earth; she was now something quite different; she was now only a slave girl, and only of Gor.

Gloria was thrust through the barred gate, and I was drawn to it.

Tarsks were sold in this place, I thought. I observed the long, narrow, low-walled wooden conduit, leading up and forward. I could not see where it led. Tarsks were herded through it, with pointed sticks. It was a tarsk shoot. Tarsks were sold in this place.

Lovely Gloria, then, with her lovely red hair, was in the shoot, on her hands and knees. She, too, like Clarissa was from Earth. I was thrust forward, before the shoot gate. It had been shut behind Gloria. I might not yet go forward. It was in front of me. It was about waist high to me. I looked at the slanting wooden ramp, beyond it. I looked at Gloria, crawling now in the shoot. She was a large girl. She had been able to stand us, even to Ila. To be sure such things were important only in our small interpersonal relationships, in the wagons, in the cages. I saw her hurried up the ramp, with the poking of a man" s stick. The gate was opened in front of me. It swung back, against the inside of the shoot. A man controlled it, standing behind the shoot wall, in back of the other gate, the long diagonal gate which closed the corridor beside the shoot, sloping toward the shoot. At the gesture of one of the pointed sticks I went to all fours on the wooden ramp. I cried out, protesting, at the poke of a stick. I moved forward. I heard the gate shut behind me. I was in the shoot. I felt another jab from one of the sticks. Head down, I began the ascent of the shoot. Then I felt another jab. I must move faster. I did so. In a few moments I was several yards along the shoot, and approaching a level. There, leaning over the shoot, his arms on it, was another man. In his right hand, it resting on the top of the shoot wall to his left, he held a stick. He straightened up and tapped on the inside wall of the shoot. I hurried ahead to that point. There he put the stick in front of me, as a barrier, and I stopped. "Belly," he said. I went to my belly there, in the shoot. I lay there on the wood. Beyond this point the shoot seemed to be level for a way. On the ascent portion of the shoot, and where I lay, toward the end of the section, there were, every two feet or so, small crosspieces, these, I suppose, to aid tarsks in the climb. One was beneath the palms of my hands and my right cheek. Another was at my belly, and another was below my knees. I could smell tarsk in the shoot. I knew the smell from the courtyard, and the narrow cages. The wood, too, was indented in innumerable places with the marks of their hoofs. I supposed many tarsks had climbed this shoot, and many women. I remembered the library, the reference desk, the shelves, the card catalogs, the doors, the upper level, the carpeting, the periodicals, the return desk, the xerox machines. Too, I remembered my fellow workers there. I wondered if they ever wondered what had become of me. My true fate, I conjectured, could not even begin to enter their speculations. It would simply be incomprehensible to them. It could not enter their ken. What ever became of Doreen? They would not guess for an instant that someone had seen values in her that they had not seen, or suspected, that Doreen, quiet, lovely, timid, shy Doreen, their reliable, unobtrusive co-worker, whom they had so much taken for granted, had come to the attention of men quite different from those to whom they were accustomed, or knew existed, and that now she, quiet, lovely dark-haired Doreen, lovely, shy Doreen, no longer wore her blouse and dark skirt, her dark stockings, and low-heeled shoes, but rather lay naked in the keeping of men, a branded slave, theirs, on a far-off planet, on a world they did not even know existed.

"Up," said the man, looking down the shoot.

I rose to my hands and knees.

"All right," he said. "Proceed."

I again addressed myself to this journey on the wooden surface. He tapped me twice, rather smartly, but not cruelly, not to hurt me, with the side of the stick, swinging it to his right, as I passed him. it had been done with a good-natured, if perhaps somewhat vulgar, familiarity. It was like the good-natured, possessive slap below the small of the back with which men sometimes speed slave girls about their business. In his way he was complimenting me. I must endure such touches, of course. Men owned me, and could do what they wanted with me. I belonged to them. Actually, of course, I was pleased that he had done so. In its way it was a kindly act. Indeed, it may have been intended to hearten and reassure me. Slave girls seldom object to such treatment, vulgar though it might seem to free women, and even free women, I think, in spite of the scandal they profess to feel in its wake, do not really mind it. It is a way in which women are informed that they are of sexual interest.

I continued to crawl along the shoot. Here and there there was a man with a stick. I hoped they would not strike me or jab me with their sticks. I kept my head down and did not dally. I was frightened as I passed them, one by one, almost cringing, almost recoiling, from the fear of blows that might alight upon my body, knowing myself so much exposed, so much at their mercy, at their whim or caprice. Then I was past them. I was grateful to them for not having beaten me. There was little left in me now of Teibar" s "modern woman," I feared. Then I was at the end of the shoot, at another gate.

I could see to my left what looked like a part of a muchly trodden circular dirt area, within a solid wooden railing. Behind his railing, standing, crowded about, there seemed to be many men. Directly before me, and to my right, there was a low, wooden wall, about four feet high. This prevented me from seeing much ahead or to my right, and would prevent most of the men, assuming they were crowded about an extension of the circular railing to my right, from seeing me. The interest of the men who could see me, however, as nearly as I could determining, was on something to my left, and raised above the dirt surface. A man opened the gate and motioned me out, still on all fours, onto a small wooden platform. I could smell sweat, and hear voices, excited voices. One voice seemed predominant among them.

He knelt me back and put manacles on my wrists, joined by about a foot of chain. I knelt there, the chain across my thighs.

The gate was closed behind me. I saw another girl. I did not know her, now behind the gate. She must wait.

Suddenly the nature of the calls and responses from the crowd became clear to me. There were calls for bids, and there were bids, literally bids, and something was being sold.

I inched forward, to see better. I could see the forward edge of a large, rounded block, about five feet high, set back on the dirt, a few feet within the railing. A double chain seemed to be extending upward, toward it, on a pulley system. I moved forward on my knees, nearer the wooden wall in front of it. I saw Gloria there, on that rounded, raised surface, standing, her wrists over her head, in manacles much like mine. The chain at her manacles extended upward in an inverted "V." It was about two feet in length. The higher hook on the chain had been places over one strand of the double chain overhead. About Gloria a man walked, with a whip.

I looked back, trembling, at the girl still on all fours in the shoot. Her face was frightened, behind the slats of the gate.

The man who was near me took a short length of chain. It had a hook at each end. It was about two feet in length. He put one end about the chain on my manacles, and held the other.

I suddenly almost cried out with fear. From my left, from the rounded, wooden surface, there had come the snap of a whip. I heard the movement of a chain overhead. I saw Gloria being drawn from the surface by the manacles, doubtless, by means of them, to be lowered to the ground on the other side.

The man then slung his end of my short chain, that whose lower hook was about the chain on my manacles, over the chain extending upwards.

Gloria had been sold!

The chain moved a little, and my wrists were pulled upward.

"No!" I cried, in English. "No, please!"

then I felt the manacles drawn upward and my arms extended. I was pulled to my left and then, suddenly, my feet were off the platform and I was swinging inches over the dirt. The sides of the manacles cut into my wrists. I was then being lifted up, toward the surface of the block. The gate beneath me, and behind me, was opened. The other girl was now doubtless being brought to the platform, behind the low wall, out of the sight of most of the crowd, and another was moving to the gate. I saw, now, being lifted, that there were tiers behind the standing area, extending back and toward the back of the building. On them, though I could not see them well, there seemed to be many men, sitting. I could not see any females. The only females in the building, I supposed, might be females such as myself, naked females, up for vending. There must have been some four or five hundred men in the building, in the tiers alone, not counting those crowded by the low railing. As I was lifted I could see the semicircular nature of the dirt flooring. Doubtless, the large platform removed, tarsks would be sold here. It was a lofty, raftered building. I put my head up. I saw the chain moving. I saw more rafters, too, high above me, almost lost in the darkness under the roof. It was a barnlike building. My wrists hurt. I was then suspended above the platform. The men were looking at me. It was a sales barn. Then the chain slacked a little and my feet touched the surface of the platform. I stood, it seemed, in a half inch or so of sawdust. My wrists were still held high over my head. I heard the crack of the whip and I jerked, frightened, in the manacles. Some of the men laughed. The whip had not touched me. My response though, I think, aside from being startled, had informed the men that I was not totally unfamiliar with the whip. Indeed, though I had felt it very seldom, I had felt it. Indeed, the first sensation that I had been aware of on this world had been the stroke of Teibar" s whip, awakening his "modern woman" to her new reality. He had struck me three times. I had never forgotten the feel of those informative, salutatory blows, bidding me welcome to my bondage. The fellow put his left hand on my breast, holding it still, reading it. Then he nodded to another fellow, behind me and to my left, on the platform.

"Lot 89," called that fellow.

Various men at the rail and in the tiers rustled papers, or glanced at notes, held in their hands. I gathered that many of them might be the sort of men who would buy more than one woman. That frightened me.

I listened to the fellow behind us, scarcely understanding him. it was called to the attention of the buyers that I was another Earth female. I was characterized as being intelligent, and as having, for my time on Gor, attained some skill in comprehending the language. I would be capable, I heard, of understanding most simple commands put to me. I myself thought my grasp of Gorean far exceeded such a minimal level but perhaps they wished to be conservative in their claims on my behalf, if only to protect themselves against the possible complaints of dissatisfied customers. Too, they probably weren" t certain, really, how good my Gorean was. I had been here only since yesterday morning. I then heard my height and weight, in Gorean measurements, thirty and a quarter Gorean stone and fifty-one horts, or approximately, in Earth measurements, one hundred and twenty-one pounds and five foot three and three quarters inches, and a large number of my other measurements being similarly, recounted. These would be my "block measurements," those which were mine as of now, on the date of my sale. Some masters will hold a girl to her block measurements, by the whip if necessary. Others will insist on their improvement, under the penalties of a similar discipline, in one direction or another, depending on their own preferences. Other masters are quite lenient, or tolerant, at least within certain limits, pertaining to such measurements. Clothing sizes were not given, as there is little concern on Gor with a slave" s exact sizes in such matters. Most Gorean garments for female slaves are either loose fitting, and drape, or they are pulled tight, sometimes strapped or tied about her, to reveal her. If it is of interest, however, and we are speaking of fixed-ring sizes, I would take a number-two wrist ring and a number-two ankle ring. My collar size is eleven horts. These are average sizes. Gloria, for example, would have taken larger sizes. Men" s sizes, those of male slaves, incidentally, though the numbers are similar, are on a different scale. The buyers were also informed that I was "glana," or a virgin. The correlated term is "metaglana," used to designate the state to which the glana state looks forward, or that which it is regarded as anticipating. Though the word was not used of me I was also «profalarina», which term designates the state proceeding, and anticipating, that of "falarina," the state Goreans seem to think of as that of being a full women, or, at least, as those of Earth might think of it, one who certainly is no longer a virgin.In both terms, «glana» and «profarina», incidentally, it seems that the states they designate are regarded as immature or transitory, those of «metaglana» or "falarina." Among slaves, not free women, those things are sometimes spoken of along the lines as to whether or not a girl has been «opened» for the uses of men. Other common terms, not generally of slaves, are "white silk" and "red silk", for girls, who have not yet been opened, or have been opened, for the uses of men, respectively.

I suddenly wondered, wildly, my hands held high, held fast in the manacles, if Teibar, my Teibar, might be out there somewhere among those men, perhaps high in the tiers, in the darkness, waiting to bid on me! Then I realized how foolish that would be. He could have bought me at the house, at a discount, if he had wanted me, not waiting, not following me for great distances, not almost certainly paying more in an open market, not risking losing me to a higher bidder in a place such as Market of Semris. No, Teibar would not be here. It was I, who was here, alone.

I heard myself characterized as being "semitrained." Was that all my training in the house counted for, I wondered, rising so early, retiring so late, the busy days, the long lessons, their frequency, variety and intensiveness, administered to us morning, noon and night? I then wondered if this, like the claims made with respect to my Gorean, were intended to be precautionary, or conservative, perhaps to avoid possible subsequent difficulties with disappointed buyers. But this time I did not think so. I had some inkling, by now, given my training in the house, of the sorts of things which could be involved in "training," many of which we had not even had time to touch upon. I was sure that given the possibilities of slave service I was still very naA?ve and backward, still muchly uninformed. Indeed, I suspected that there would always be more to learn about service and love, that such things were fathomless and limitless, and, thus, in a sense, the notion of being ""fully trained," or knowing all there was to know, was in actuality less of a practical goal than a lovely ideal, one which might perhaps be approached ever more closely, but would never be, and perhaps should never be, fully attained. Let the girl revel in her growth, and not fear that one day there will be more to learn, nowhere else to go. There are no summits on the heights of love. Ulrick, however, had assured me in the house, once, that I had talent. I hoped so. Such, among the imperious masters of this world, might improve my chances for survival. I did have a live body, some understanding of my womanhood, and a desire to please men. I looked down into some of the faces below me, behind the railing, across the dirt, across the tarsk run. I had better be pleasing to such men, I thought, shuddering. Then I moaned to myself. Teibar was not here. I was alone. What was I doing here? Why was I brought here, to this world? My wrists hurt, held up so high in the steel. Were the men not being cruel to me? Could they not see I was naked, and helpless?

"Category," I heard, "a€”Pleasure Slave."

When I heard this categorization, so matter-of-factly given, concluding the fellow" s recounting of attributes and features, measurements and such, I was suddenly, inordinately, startled. I had known, of course, I was not a house slave, or a tower slave, for I was not permitted to kneel in fashions appropriate to those varieties of slave. Too, I had understood, of course, that many of the things I was taught seemed to have direct application to the pleasing of masters, and even profoundly sensuously so, but I had not, until now, heard that exact simple, direct expression. We had never been told, in so many words, that that was the sort of slave we were. Perhaps the Gorean girls had understood, clearly enough, but I do not think we girls of Earth had, at least not is so direct a way, not in the way, certainly, which seemed to be summarized so clearly and succinctly by that one expression. Ulrick had not even told me the sort of slave I was. He had laughed, and informed me that I would learn from men. Now, it seemed, on the sales block, I had done so. I threw back my head, and moaned. The chain overhead tightened and I was pulled up a little more, so that only my toes were on the block.

The auctioneer lifted his whip, cracked it, and called for the first bid. My wrists hurt. He was calling for a bid on an illiterate barbarian. I realized, suddenly, that that was I.

I was an educated, civilized, refined woman on my own world. Here I was an illiterate barbarian!

I heard someone call out from the floor. I realized, suddenly, I had been bid upon. I was being sold! Too, he was not bidding on part of me, say, on my body. He was bidding in the Gorean fashion on all of me, on the whole slave. The bid had been for twenty copper tarsks. In a moment I had heard twenty-two, and twenty-seven.

On my own world I was a modern woman, of sorts, independent, and free, and with political power, particularly with fearful, cringing men. But here men were not fearful and cringing. But then I had been taken from Earth, and my power, to be brought here to be utterly powerless, to be a slave, to be a pleasure slave! How reductive, I thought, to be a pleasure slave! Then I knew that that was what, on a proper, natural world, I would be, that that, on such world, was right for me. "No, no!" I wept, in English.

I heard more bids.

The auctioneer walked about me. He touched me, here and there, with his whip. He turned me on the chain, I on my toes, exhibiting me.

Then I again faced the men. There were more bids.

I though how amused Teibar might have been, to have thought of me, his hated "modern woman," as he thought, being sold, and being sold in this place, a place fit for her, a sales barn, where tarsks, four-legged, and two-legged, like herself, were sold. I wondered if Teibar knew I would be sold in this place. He was doubtless privy to the records of the house. But he may have left their service before I was consigned to the wholesaler outside Brundisium. But it could be this was a common clearing point for their slaves. It could be, too, he had retained contacts with the house. He might very well know I was here. He may have even, for his amusement, arranged that it would be here, or in a similar outlet, that I was sold, influencing the orders in some fashion. Perhaps that I was here, naked in a sales barn, my wrists manacled over my head, being bid upon by strangers, was part of his vengeance on me. At the least he would have known that this, or something similar, would be done to me! How amused he must be, when he thought of such things, his haughty, pretentious "modern woman." as he thought, she whom he held in such contempt, to her dismay and terror, and miscry, now being sold naked from a slave block, into absolute bondage!

Then I became aware of someone, or one or two men, actually, calling up from the floor. It was not bids they were calling. I tried to understand them. I did not know if it were their accents, or I simply, in my confusion, my misery and distress, had suddenly lost almost all my command of Gorean. I could not really understand them.

The chain slackened above me and my arms fell, somewhat. The auctioneer put his whip on his belt, held me by the left arm in his right hand, and, with his left hand, reaching up, lifted the chain between my manacles off the lower hook of the short chain, that attached to the strand of the double chain overhead. His hand on my arm kept me from collapsing to the sawdust. My hands were down, the chain on the manacles now against my thighs. He said something to me, but I did not understand it. Then he reached in front of me and gathered the chain between my manacles into his hands and lifted my wrists up, bending my arms back. He put my wrists back, behind my head, and then released the chain on the manacles, letting it drop behind my neck. "Clasp your hands behind the back of your head," he said. I understood him now. "Bend back," he said. "Display yourself." I obeyed, of course. Too, the whip was now again in his hand. "Flex your knees," he said. "Now, turn," he said. "Do not forget our friends to the right," he said. I then displayed myself, again, identically, at the right side of the block. I did not think the other girls had been removed from the chain, or not many of them, given the speed with which the line had moved. Why should I be favored in this respect? The bidding had been interrupted at eighty-eight tarsks, whatever that meant. I did know that there was apparently something about me, perhaps unfortunately, which many Gorean men found of interest. I do not thing this was simply a matter of figure and face, though I think these appealed to a Gorean taste, but perhaps something else, something deeper, which they seemed to sense about me, some sort of possibility, or potentially, or something which I myself did not fully understand, or yet understand. Sometimes he touched me with the whip, calling attention to a curve or flank. Teibar" s "modern woman," I thought, is now displaying herself naked to Gorean buyers. He then had me kneel and bent me back, painfully, my hair back to the sawdust, to the center, and then the left, and then the right, before the buyers. He then had me straighten up and unclasp my hands from behind my head. He then lifted the chain forward, over my head. It then hung, between my wrists, a little below my neck. He let me lower my hands. My hands then, and the chain, were again on my thighs. My hands chained as they were, I could not both keep them on my thighs and maintain a full, open-kneel position. I looked up at him, from the sawdust.

Men were calling out, from behind the railing, and some from the tiers. To my surprise the auctioneer removed a key from his belt and removed the manacles from me. I rubbed my wrists. There were marks on them where the manacles had cut into me, when I was lifted to the block.

The auctioneer cracked his whip.

I looked up at him, from the sawdust. I was to be put through slave paces. I tried to put from me what was being done to me.

I wanted to go back to the library.

The sawdust was in my hair, and its particles clung to my sweating body. "Yes," I thought, "I can find that book."

I was on my belly, naked, in the sawdust.

"Yes," I thought, "there was quiet, shy Doreen in the library, going quietly about her duties, there, walking about, returning to the reference desk, over that flat carpet, from the information desk, past the xerox machines." I rolled in the sawdust.

Yes, there she was, there, in that simple sweater, that plain blouse and dark skirt, the dark stockings, the low-heeled black shoes. Surely no man could find her of interest. Then she became aware of a man at the reference desk, looking down at her, one bright afternoon, a man whose look penetrated into her deepest heart and belly, and stripped her, and saw the slave there. And he had caught her in her dancer" s costume, that in which no man had ever seen her before, and she had then, in swirling skirt and scarlet halter, and bells, danced in the darkened library, danced before him and his men. I was vaguely aware of a cry of pleasure from the crowd. I had performed the transition between two of the moves in the slave paces with the startling, sensuous agility of a dancer. It then seemed that it was the dancer in the sawdust, on the block, she who had worn the skirt and halter, and bells. How beautiful they seemed to find her! How she moved! She heard the exclamations of praise. The auctioneer stood back, the whip lowered, startled. "No!" I cried. Then again I was awkward and fearful, and only an Earth girl, miserable, confused and terrified, cringing in the sawdust of a slave block on an alien world.

"What is wrong?" asked the auctioneer.

"Nothing, Master," I whispered, cringing before him on all fours.

A gesture of his whip informed me I should like upon my back. Then I was supine before him. He turned about. He stood partly over my body. He faced the crowd. He had one of his legs between mine.

"Two," was called to him from the floor. "Two!"

"Two!" repeated the auctioneer, holding up two fingers. "Two!"

The auctioneer did not sound angry at this bid. I myself was startled. The bids had been in the eighties before. Now, it seemed they were reduced to only two. I was on my back, gasping, lying there.

The auctioneer stepped a little away from me, and turned to face me.

It was now as though I could hardly move. I was terrified. I hoped he would not beat me, because the bids were now down to two.

He looked down at me, puzzled.

I think I must then have seemed to him quite otherwise than I had but moments ago. I do not think he understood this. It was almost, I suppose, as though there were not one, but two women on the block, almost as though he had two different women to sell.

I rose up on my elbows but he, with the heel of his bootlike sandal, thrust me back to the sawdust. He then, with his bootlike sandal, turned me to my stomach. "Kneel," he said. I knelt. He then replaced the manacles on my wrists. He turned me so that I knelt facing the crowd. He pulled down the short chain from the horizontal chain. "Stand," he said. I obeyed. "What is wrong with her?" called a man. The chain between my manacles was looped over the lower hook on the short chain. I could hardly stand. I was terrified. I looked out on the men. Any one of them, I realized, could own me. I was a slave! I could be owned. I could belong to them! They could do with me what they might please, anything. They would have over me total power. But I was a woman of Earth! This could not be happening to me! Then, as the higher chain, the strand of the double chain, took up its slack, my wrists were again pulled up, high, over my head. Again I could touch the block only with my toes. I had not been as Ulrick had wanted, not at the end. I had been too much afraid. I had not been fresh and supple. I had not controlled my breath well. I feared I had not been beautiful. I had been too afraid, too afraid to be truly beautiful. I had been too clumsy. I had not down well! Oddly enough I had not wanted to disappoint Ulrick, who, I think, had liked me. Too, I didn" t want to be punished for not having done well. Surely they had wanted to make more money on me than "two," two of whatever it was. I looked down into the faces. They were masters, and I was a slave. My eyes met those of one fellow, a large, corpulent man, stripped to the waist, very hairy, with crossed belts running across his chest. He had a drooping mustache. He had a long scar at the left side of his face. He was one of the grossest, most frightening ugly men I had ever seen. He looked up at me, and grinned. On the right side of his mouth, a tooth was missing. I looked up, away from him, at the manacles on my wrists. They again hurt my wrists, my body stretched, and pulled up, as it was, on my toes. My toes hurt, and the back of my legs. I looked above the manacles, to the chain. Chains are so strong. We cannot break them. The auctioneer was now behind me and to my left. "Is there a further bid?" he asked.

I think the ambiguities in my performance, if that is what they were, may have puzzles several in the crowd, as well as the auctioneer.

The house was quiet.

I looked down again. Again my eyes met those of the large, corpulent fellow. He grinned. He did not seem puzzled. I feared he might be a perceptive master, in spite of his grossness, his ugliness, from whom a girl could not keep secrets. I looked hastily away, again, from him.

"Am I bid only two," inquired the auctioneer, "for this luscious merchandise?" I felt the whip touch my flank and waist, on the left.

He then stepped a bit before me, to my left. He turned and touched me twice with the whip. "Consider this flank, and belly," he said.

I tried to hold myself perfectly still. The light touches of the whip, though, had made me terribly uneasy.

He again moved behind me, and to the left.

"I have been bid two," he said, "for this lovely barbarian pleasure slave. Do I hear more? To be sure, she is only semitrained, and perhaps not yet fully broken to the collar. That I would not gainsay. But surely she has some promise. Yes, I think so. Some of you, I am sure, suspect that she has promise."

I did not know what he meant by that.

"Is there a higher bid?" he asked. "Shall I close my hand?"

A wave of anger suddenly swept over me. I, a pleasure slave! Absurd! How reductive! How degrading! I wanted suddenly to prove to them that I was no pleasure slave. I was an educated, refined, civilized woman of Earth! I was a modern woman, at least of sorts! I was no pleasure slave! But I knew, looking down at those faces, that if any of them owned me, I would have to be fully pleasing to them. I would have to bend all of my efforts, and all of my beauty, my charm, my grace, my knowledge, my intelligence, my tack, everything that I was, and could hope to be, to that end. I would have to be to them, and perfectly, a pleasure slave. And what horrified me most, I think, was that I wanted this. I wanted to serve men, and give them pleasure, to be precious to them, to be loved and appreciated, to make them happy. What a terrible woman I was, to want to make men happy. Then again, I strove to be cold and hard, to be cruel like stone and leather. I must not allow myself to feel! But what, I asked myself, if I were not allowed to be my own mistress? What if men simple did things to me, forcing me to feel, as it pleased them, forcing me to yield, and melt, against my will, forcing me to feel, and experience, things which on Earth I had never even dreamed of, forcing me to be what I most feared, permitting me nothing else, a woman in the order of nature? Then I steeled myself again. I was no pleasure slave. There was no pleasure slave in me! I was above such things. I was my own mistress. No man could change that!

"Aii!" I cried, suddenly, startled, squirming wildly, leaping in the manacles, twisting, with a movement of chain, then my weight on them, the chain taut, my knees lifted, almost to my belly, my eyes shut, my teeth gritted.

There was much laughter from the house.

When I opened my eyes again, my body now again stretched out, standing on its toes, my wrists high over my head in the manacles. I looked down, across the dirt area, over the railing. The large, hideous, gross, corpulent fellow was there, looking up at me, grinning. I blushed hotly. I looked away from him. I had not expected the touch.

There was more laughter.

My body was crimson with shame.

It had been revealed to the men that I had a vital, living body.

I held my ankles, and knees, and legs as closely together as I could. I was terrified. I was suddenly aware then, dimly, of what men might do to me, how they might take me out of myself, subjecting me to incredible sensations as they, not I, might wish, or choose. Too, if I had so reacted to so small and simple a thing, it was difficult to conjecture how I might behave if subjected to more detailed, subtle or prolonged attentions. I suddenly felt terribly helpless, and yet, too, in a way, eager. Too, what if, horrifying enough, I was not permitted resistance but must, under the sanction of terrible penalties, under the command of masters, open myself fully to feeling, if I were forced to yield, and fully, and was forced, thusly, to collaborate in my own conquest? There was on thing which perhaps, in a way, was in my favor. My entire skin, and body, tonight, was much less responsive than it would normally have been. I could tell that, even from this morning. I had known it, too, from my responses on the platform in the exposition area of the sales barn, at the other end of the long corridor. This had to do with my disappointment in the matter of Teibar, that I was still not within his grasp, that he had not brought me here, in some master" s jest, to reclaim me. I had then understood that, despite all my hopes, I was really, in the end, nothing to him, only another pretty Earth girl, to be brought here merely in the lone of his business, to wear the collar and lick the whip. My sense of abandonment had been acute. How alone I had suddenly realized I was here, on this strange, beautiful world. I had been almost in shock, and without feeling. Too, tonight, I had been, particularly in the last few minutes, almost numbed with misery, and terror, understanding myself being sold. I had been frightened, constricted and tight. I had been, I feared, not beautiful. I had been just the opposite, I feared, of what Ulrick would have wanted. Thus, even though I had been taken unawares by the sudden movement of the auctioneer" s whip, and had moved suddenly, inadvertently, in a manner which might have suggested to some that I was a pleasure slave, I knew that the fullness of what I conjectured would be my typical response to such a touch had not even been hinted at. The full range of my responsiveness, thusly, I congratulated myself, still lay concealed. None could suspect it. I shuddered, though, to think of what it, so delicate and deep, might be under a master" s hands. I could suspect, even from the simple touch I had received, how helpless I might be.

"Two!" called a fellow from behind the rail, raising his hand. "Two and fifty!" "Two and fifty!" called the auctioneer, pleased. "Two and fifty! Do I hear more?"

The house was quiet.

I looked down. The fellow who had just made the bid, whatever was its amount, was the large, gross, corpulent fellow, he who was so ugly, so frightening. "Shall I close my hand?" asked the auctioneer. His hand was open, held out to the side.

I looked down at the man.

I twisted in the manacles. I could not free myself. I was a slave!

I looked down at him.

I would wear a collar. I was branded.

I looked down at him.

I knew that in time my body would regain its sensitivity levels, that inexorably its awareness, and helplessness, would return. It would be inevitable, like the rising of water in a well. I could do nothing about it.

I looked down at him.

He looked up at me, and grinned.

"The barbarian is yours!" said the auctioneer, closing his hand.

I heard a movement of chain above me and I was then, by the manacles and chain, over the hook on the short chain, drawn across the block and, suspended, lowered to the other side. Another girl, then, would be brought to the surface on the block. In a moment, my knees giving way, I was on another platform, much like the one on the other side of the block. Here, however, the low wooden wall was to my left and front. The manacles were removed from me, and I was thrust toward another gate, and shoot. In a moment I was again crawling on the wood. I strove to maintain consciousness. I was glad, now, we were to crawl. I do not think I could have walked. I heard the auctioneer behind me, calling for a bid on a new girl. It would be she who had come to the gate behind me. I recalled seeing her face behind the slats of the gate. I did not know her. I passed a man with a pointed stick. He did not hurt me. I could not throw up. I had not been fed enough. I could not soil myself, or the wood. They had prevented that. too, the greatest danger of those things is during the early moments, or the final moments, of a sale. I moved down the shoot. My lot number was still on my left breast. I wondered if I would be picked up tonight. I supposed not, as it was late. I came to the end of the shoot. There was an opened tarsk cage there. I crawled into it. I was the first one in this particular cage. I crawled to the end of it. There would probably be five girls in this cage before it was locked. In other cages, which had been removed, I supposed, from the shoot" s exit, I could see other girls. I saw Clarissa and Gloria in the cage to my right. They had preceded me in the coffle. They looked frightened. I supposed I did, too. We had been sold. Gloria had her fingers hooked in the heavy mesh of the cage side. Ah, Teibar, I thought, you would have your vengeance on your "modern woman" now, indeed! She had been sold like a tarsk, in a sales barn! Too, you would doubtless much approve of the master in whose hands she had now come! Did they think, I wondered angrily, that I existed only to give pleasure to men? But then I thought, wryly, ruefully, that that was exactly for what Teibar" s "modern woman" now existed. That was now the whole purpose of her existence, that, and only that. it was that for which she must now live, only that. I considered my fate. Teibar had known it was to be mine. Indeed, he had chosen me for it. How amused he must be, then, from time to time, I thought, if he ever saw fit, perhaps in an idle moment, when freed of more pressing concerns, to recollect me. To what a delicious and amusingly appropriate fate he had consigned me! But no longer, now, really, was I a "modern woman." I was now only a vested slave girl. I thought of my master, and trembled. I put my fingers in the mesh of the cage, naked, the number on my breast. I pulled my legs up. Then I lost consciousness.

10 The Kitchen

My head was down, my hair over his feet. I was naked, frightened. I had been summoned into his presence, and had performed obeisance at the end of the long carpet, leading to the dais. I had then, when permitted, approached the dais, head down, on all fours. I had climbed, on all fours, up the broad, carpeted steps of the dais, and now lay, on my belly, half on its surface, the lower part of my body, my right knee flexed, across the final two steps before its height.

"You like and kiss well," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said.

"Like the other females of Earth," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said. I gathered I was not the first Earth female who had come this way.

"You may continue," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said.

"It is not unpleasant," he said.

"A slave is grateful if her master is not displeased with her," I said. "You are very pretty," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said.

"You wear a collar," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Whose collar is it?" he asked.

"Yours, Master," I said.

"And whose is that?" he asked.

"The collar of my master, Hendow, of Brundisium, master of the tavern of Hendow, on Dock Street, in Brundisium," I said.

There was a slave whip across his knees.

His feet and ankles were large, and the sandals had heavy straps on them. His calves and thighs, too, were sturdy and powerful. His forearms and arms, too, were frighteningly thick, and sturdy, like trunks of small trees. They were inches greater in dimension than my own small limbs. He was of broad girth. His shoulders, too, were broad, like the beams of a house. I could not begin to conjecture the strength of such a man. He could have handled me like a doll. I felt helpless. It was like a flower before a mace of iron.

I was terrified. He was my maser. I was eager to please him.

His hand, reaching down, prevented me from licking higher than midway upon his calves.

"You already know something of what it is to be a slave, don" t you?" he asked. "Yes, Master," I said.

"Desist," he said.

I desisted in my ministrations.

"You are a virgin, aren" t you?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said. He knew that, of course. It had been in my sales information. Too, it had been checked by his man the morning following my sale, before I had been prepared for shipment here.

"Would you risk your virginity here, in this place, at this time?" he asked. "My virginity," I said, "belongs to my master. He may do what he wishes with it."

"I have plans for it," he said.

I was silent. It would be as he willed. He was Master.

"How do your lessons proceed?" he asked.

"I think well, Master," I said. It seemed to me in my best interests to be conservative in my estimations. Doubtless he had better information at his disposal that I could give him, from his dancing slaves, and his whip master. "You are a dancer," he said, "and have in you the makings of a superb pleasure slave."

"Thank you, Master," I said.

"It is interesting that you are from Earth," he said. "One might have thought that you were Gorean."

"I am a woman," I whispered.

"Yes," he said. "That is probably the important thing. In the end it is probably all pretty much the same. There are men, and there are women."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Did you know that many times Earth women turn out to be superb pleasure slaves?" he asked.

"We are women," I whispered, shrugging. I saw no reason why we, properly controlled and disciplined, should not be as perfect for a man as a Gorean woman. Indeed, considering the social and political deserts in which we were sexually starved, it would not have surprised me in the least, if we, once it became clear to us, to our joy, that we now had no culturally prescribed alternatives to being women, that we were now no longer subjected to social pressures to be something else, our womanhood being denied, or demeaned and despised, to coming home to our sex, and nature, proved to be every bit as good, if not in some ways better, than our Gorean sisters, or at least some of them, unaware of such deprivations. But in the end, I suppose, it all depends on the individual female. In the end, we were all women.

"Look up," he said.

I rose to my knees, and lifted my head.

"You have a beautiful face," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said.

"And you have a luscious form," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said.

"Kiss the whip," he said.

I did so, quickly, that I might not seem to dally, or he draw it from me, but then, as he held it in place, permitting me to continue, more slowly, more lingeringly. Then he drew it back, and I knelt back, before him.

"Are you going to be any good?" he asked.

I looked up at him, startled, frightened. He had said I had a beautiful face, and a luscious form. What more could anyone want? Then I swallowed hard, understanding him. Of course, of course, I thought. Such things would be only a beginning, perhaps only a small beginning, and doubtless not even a necessary beginning, of what men would expect of me. "It is my hope that I will be pleasing," I said.

"I have high hopes for you," he said.

I was silent.

"I think," he said, "that you will be very good."

"It is my hope that I will be pleasing to my master," I said.

"And to any to whom, in your master" s service," he said, "you are explicitly, or implicitly, consigned."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"And to men, in general," he said.

"Yes, Master, of course, Master," I said. I was a female slave. I existed now for the pleasure of men. It was what I was for.

"Sometimes," he said, "one encounters an Earth female who believes, at first, for a short time, that she may be resistant, in some respect, either secretly or overtly, to masters. Are you such a female?"

"No, Master," I said.

"In any way?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said.

"Such recalcitrance is detectable," he said. "It is betrayed by subtle body cues, uncontrollable, and unmistakable."

"Yes, Master," I said, looking down.

"There are drugs, too," he said, "which are pertinent to such matters." "Yes, Master," I said. I had not known that. I had known that. I had known about the other sorts of things. They had been graphically illustrated to us in the house of my training. Some had to do with skin blotching and nipple erection. One simple test had been with five of us, one of us, not known to Ulrick, to take a ring and hide it. By holding her hands and looking into her eyes it had almost immediately determined the "guilty girl." He had then, merely by holding her arm, had her guide him, involuntarily, to where she had hidden the ring. These things were done primarily by acute observation and differential muscle tensions, indexed to the girl" s knowledge and inward states. The meaning of the lessons, however, had been clear. If our slavery did not go through us, so to speak, if it was not complete, we could not conceal that from the masters. Our choice then, in effect, was to be complete slaves, whole slaves, total slaves, or die. I, and I think, my entire class, interestingly, had rejoiced in this knowledge. We knew we were slaves in our hearts, as we had learned in our training, and we wanted to be slaves. The knowledge then that we would be unable to conceal any inauthenticity is our slavery from the masters, even if we wished to do so, was a liberating insight. It imposed a welcome, healthful psychological consistency upon us. It deprived us of even the last excuse which our pride or vanity might have left to us not to be perfect in our bondage. To be sure, sometimes a master encourages open defiance or rebellion on the part of a girl, he then enjoying forcing her to serve, and perfectly, so obviously, so visibly, against her will. Too, sometimes, he is amused to indulge a girl" s «secret» recalcitrance, well aware of her games, her transparent reservations, her supposedly so carefully guarded and secret resistance, letting her think it is unknown, even unsuspected. When he tires of this sport, however, he reveals to her, to her horror, that she had been all this time as open to him as a book. She can then make the decision of the slave girl, to be a true slave, a full slave, or die.

"Look into my eyes," he said.

I did so. It was not easy.

«Yes,» he said, "you are a slave."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Even though you might regret your bondage, or rage against it, from time to time," he said, "yet, in your heart, you now you are a slave."

"Yes, Master," I said, frightened.

"You were a slave even on Earth," he said."But a secret slave," I whispered. "Here," he said, "your slavery is patent."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"What was wrong with you, at the end of your sale?" he asked. "You seemed suddenly so awkward, so clumsy, almost as though you were paralyzed." "I do not know," I said. "Perhaps I realized, suddenly, what was being done with me, that I was being sold."

"But a slave must expect to be sold," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

He looked down at me.

"I was frightened, Master," I said.

"Are you frightened now?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said. This was the first time I had been in his presence, to my knowledge, since my sale in Market of Semris. I kept my eyes from meeting his. I could see the vast, hairy chest, crossed by the two belts. The large, drooping mustache suggested a casual, almost indolent power. The scar at the side of his face had been wrought, I supposed, by some primitive device or weapon, perhaps even, though it seemed hard to believe for a female of Earth, in combat. From my point of view, he seemed clearly a barbarian. He would think nothing of owning women. To be sure, from his point of view, it was I, though a refined female of Earth, who, on this world, counted as being the "barbarian." He had been coming back from some place called Torcadino, or near Torcadino, where he had gone, either there, or in its vicinity, to purchase cheap girls for his tavern. I gathered that women, for some reason, were cheap in that vicinity. He had stopped at Market of Semris on his way back to Brundisium, boarding his girls overnight at the house of Teibar. He had stopped in that evening at the sales barn. There he had purchased me. He had not, as far as I knew, made any other purchases here.

"Good," he said. "It is well for a slave to fear her master."

"Yes, Master," I said. I kept my head down. What he said was rue, of course. It was indeed well for a slave to fear her master. The master can do what he wished to her. He has absolute and total power over her.

I watched his fingers move idly on the butt of the whip and on its single, thick blade, coiled back, twice, against the butt.

I suppose I would have feared any Gorean maser, they are so strict with us. But I was sure, too, I feared this one more than I might have most. He was so large, and so beastlike, a complex man, I sensed, but one of simplicity in the sense of undividededness or singleness of purpose. To be sure, this lack of self-division, of self-conflict, tends to be characteristic of Gorean males. Their culture does not try to control them by setting them against themselves when they are too young to understand what is being done to them, in some cases, by half tearing them apart. To some extent, I suppose, it satisfies them, and keeps them content, rather as one might throw meat to lions, by throwing a certain sort of woman in their way, the slave. The man who owned me might indeed be, as I had first percieved him,in Market of Semris, he free, looking up at the slave block where I, a naked slave, displayed in high manacles, was being vended, too corpulent, too broad of girth, too gross, too scarred, too loathsome, too hideous, but now that I was his, and within reach of his whip, these initial perceptions were surely expanded or altered by other more pertinent, more trenchant ones. I was now aware not so much of these first-glimpsed things, things which might occur to a stranger looking casually upon him for the first time, from a distance, as other things, things which become much clearer with closeness, closeness such as when one might be kneeling, naked before him, so close he could reach out and touch you, a sense of intelligence, and power, and perception, such that one felt he could look through you, and see what was within you, anything, and uncompromising mastery, and perhaps mercilessness. The most obvious thing about him, of course, now, from my point of view, was that he owned me, that he was my master.

"But you are not so frightened now," he said.

"No," I said.

"Why?" he asked.

"The sale is over," I said. "I know that I am now a sold slave. That is behind me. I have been summoned into the presence of my master. In this he has honored me, for he has many girls. He has been kind enough to express his satisfaction with trivialities of his slave, that she has a beautiful face and form, and his belief that I may perhaps prove to be pleasing in more significant manners. Too, he has informed me that my tongue work upon his feet has not been entirely displeasing."

"For a slave new to her collar," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said. "Of course, Maser. Thank you, Master." "I think you were not too pleased to have been purchased by me," he said. I was silent.

"Perhaps you find me gross," he said, "even hideous?"

I was silent.

"Some women do," he said.

I did not speak.

"It is amusing then to me, sometimes," he said, "to abuse them, and make them, despite their will, cry out for my touch."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"It pleases me to have them crawling on me on their belly, begging piteously to be used."

"Yes, Master," I whispered.

"Perhaps you find me gross and loathsome," he speculated.

I trembled, head down.

"But is doesn" t matter," he said. "You are my slave."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"And at so much as the snapping of my fingers, you will bring yourself running to me, obediently and warmly, desperate to please me."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"But there is time enough for such things," he said.

I was silent.

"I was not displeased that your performance on the block was as ambiguous as it was, toward the end of your sale," he said.

"Master?" I asked.

"A kajira is occasionally entitled to terror," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said, hesitantly.

"And it perhaps confused certain buyers," he said, "inhibiting them from submitting higher bids. I turned it thus to my profit."

I kept my eyes down.

"Come closer," he said.

I did so, on my knees, "Ohh," I said, touched by him. I leaned forward, tears in my eyes, pressing myself toward him, gross as he might be, my hands on the sides of the great chair in which he sat. I put my head down on his left knee. "I thought so," he said. "Look up. Look into my eyes."

I did so, frightened.

"Yes," he said, looking into my eyes. "You are a slave. That is all you are." "Yes, Master," I whispered.

"Kneel back," he said.

I knelt then, tears in my eyes.

"Keep your knees open," he said.

"Oh, please, Master!" I begged.

His eyes were stern.

Immediately I open my knees, widely, as was appropriate for the type of slave I was, a pleasure slave.

"One might think almost," he said, musingly, "that you are not a virgin. It is interesting to speculate what you will be like when you have been adequately opened and regularly utilized."

I kept my head down.

"It will probably not even be necessary to encourage you with the whip," he said.

I did not dare to speak.

"But the whip will be always there, should you require refreshening on your status, or become to any degree less then perfectly pleasing," he said. "Yes, Master," I said.

"You may have fooled others in your terror," he said, "but you did not fool me." "Master?" I asked "Beneath the terror," he said, "I saw the beauty, and the slave." I did not speak.

"I saw, too," he said, "the dancer, particularly in your transitions between the attitudes commanded of you in the slave paces. I knew then you were either a dancer, or had the makings of a dancer. Too, of course, your response to the slaver" s caress, later, was indicative. That, of course, would have been obvious even to a tharlarion."

"Yes, Master," I whispered, head down.

"But it was, of course," he said, "for you, a very poor, or limited, response, certainly one far below what might ordinarily have been expected from one with your sensitivity levels."

I looked up at him, startled. How could he have known that?

"To a discerning eye," he smiled, "it was evident, in your subsequent movements, and certain tiny, fleeting expressions, though these were subtle things, as you were inwardly relieved, pleased at how well hidden, you thought, remained the real depth and urgency of your needs."

I regarded him with horror.

"We are not going to have any secrets between us, are we?" he asked. "No, Master!" I said, frightened. Before him I realized that it might be not only my body which was naked, but my mind and heart as well. I felt utterly exposed before this man, as only a slave can feel exposed to her master. "Do not be frightened," he said.

I trembled, uncontrollably. Too, I remembered his touch.

"In a man" s arms," he said, "you are the sort of woman who is so much alive, that you will be splendidly, utterly helpless."

I sobbed, shuddering naked, in my collar before him.

"Do you think you will like Brundisium?" he asked.

"I think so, Master," I whispered. I understood that Brundisium was one of the largest and busiest ports of this world. It was a commercial metropolis of sorts. I remembered in the slave wagon that several of the girls had hoped, desperately, not to be taken from this place. They had hoped fervently, it seemed, to wear their collars here. Ironically, it had been I, purchased in Market of Semris, a barbarian, who had been brought back to Brundisium. Many of my chain sisters, surely, would have envied me my good fortune. I was pleased enough to be here, from what I knew. Too, the city had seemed colorful and exciting to me, in my glimpses from the slave wagon. To be sure, at least one district through which we had passed in the wagon was still black with the residues of a great fire, one which had reportedly taken place in Se" Kara, some months ago. If I were never permitted outside the precincts of the tavern, of course, as I had not yet been, I did not think I would much enjoy the city. I had hopes, however, that I might, as several of the girls were now, eventually be granted such a lovely liberty. In such a matter, of course, the masters take little, if any, risk. The girls are collared and branded so there is never any doubt about what they are or where they belong. Too, in Brundisium, as with most Gorean cities, kajirae are not allowed outside the city gates unless in the keeping of a free person. In these peregrinations about the city, of course, the girls were sometimes expected to wear their master" s advertising on their tunics.

"Did you enjoy the trip here?" he asked.

"Master was kind," I said, "to provide us with blankets."

We had spent the night of our sale in the cages located in the exit corridor. The next morning, at dawn, the cages had been opened, and we had been ordered forth, each to our own disposition. My hands had then been manacled behind my back, by my master" s man. He had then given me a handful of slave gruel, putting it in my mouth as I knelt before him, my wrists chained behind me. We were not fed by the house of Teibar, of Market of Semris, that morning, as we were no longer its responsibility. I was then gagged and hooded, utilizing the devices of the ball-gag, the straps, the leather covering, the buckles and lock, as I had been when first leaving the house of my training. There were very good reasons for this, as I later learned. I was to be transported by tarn basket. When a girl cannot see and cannot communicate, it is much easier to manage her. I was taken out into the courtyard, gagged, hooded and manacled. Then I was put on my belly in the dirt. I knew nothing about what was going on. Then I heard a succession of wild, startling sounds, like the snapping of great sheets, and it seemed I was in the midst of a whirlwind, mad, choking dust swirling up and about me. I tried to rise, but a man" s foot pressed me back to the dirt. I also heard a sudden, shrill, terrifying, piercing scream. It was not a human noise, but the cry of something terribly large and fierce. It could only be, I conjectured, some sort of giant bird. I lay trembling in the dirt, helpless, the man" s foot on my back. I would learn it was indeed a large bird, one called a "tarn." And, I would later learn, it was not even a warrior" s mount, bred for swiftness and aggressiveness, a war tarn, but a mere draft tarn. I had been gagged, and hooded and manacled. And put on my belly, because the first sight of such a beast, at close hand, I was told, not unoften, in its size and ferocity, and terribleness, produces a miasma of terror in a female, and she is unwilling even to approach it, whips being often necessary. Happily I was unaware of the full terror within whose orbit I lay. I was pulled to my feet by an arm and walked for a few feet and then put down, on my back, on a blanket on the ground. This blanket was wrapped about me, closely. It was then secured on my body apparently by ropes, above and below my breasts, about my waist and below my knees. I was then lifted in it and set down, sitting, on what seemed to be a heavy wicker surface. A leather collarlike arrangement was then put about my neck and my head was pulled back, apparently, as I could tell, pressing back through the hood, against a vertical wicker surface. This held me in place. I was then pushed back, further, against the vertical wicker surface. This held me in place. I was then pushed back, further, against the vertical wicker surface. A broad belt then, perhaps some five or six inches in width, was put about my waist, drawn snug, and buckled shut. This, too, held in place. My knees were up slightly. My ankles were done, apparently, by the rope being threaded once or twice through the wicker flooring and then being resecured about my ankles. I then heard again, it startling me, terrifying me, that sudden, loud, shrill, piercing scream, this time, it seemed, from terribly close, surely no more than a few feet away. I squirmed helplessly in the tight blanket, in the manacles, in the straps and ropes. I knew almost nothing of what was going on. We are so helpless when we are gagged and hooded. I then was conscious of other weights being placed in the area where I was, and being cinched in place. I was conscious of their movements, and squirmings, through the wicker. Then, in a few moments, it seemed a side gate was shut, near me, and roped shut. I heard the rattle of harness, sensed the attachment of ropes, the tying of knots, the drawing of them tight, their testing. Then, in a bit, I heard a cry and the jerking of harness, and that wild scream again, so piercing, hurting my ears, making me again leap and squirm, terrified, miserable, in my bonds. I heard greatsnapping sounds. Then was a sudden swirling of air. I felt the pitting of dust against the hood and my feet. I heard the striking of small pebbles against the outside of the wicker. Then, to my astonishment, the object in which I had been placed began to slide rapidly along the ground and then, in a moment, it taking my breath away for an instant, it swung free, and was rising. I was off the ground! We were climbing. After a few minutes we were moving in a level manner. I could feel even the blanket, the wind whistling through the wicker walls. I hoped the object in which I was confined was strong. I sat very still. I did not want to risk weakening its structure in any way. I had no idea as to how high we were. It was cold. After a few hours, from the warmth of the hood, on my right, I conjectured we might be flying west, and perhaps to the north. My wrists were sore. Earlier, in my fear, I had fought too much with the manacles. My ankles, too, felt cut and raw. Too much in my earlier terror I had fought against the close loops, the coarse, narrow, bristly bands that confined them. My struggles had been futile, of course. Gorean slave girls are tied by men who know what they are doing in such ways that they cannot even think of escaping or freeing themselves. My struggles, I now realized, had been foolish, but at the time I had not seemed able to help myself. They had been the reflexive, struggles of a bound girl finding herself absolutely helpless in a terrifying reality. I hoped I had not marked or cut myself in such a way that scar tissue might form, for I might be beaten for that. Too, I did not want such marks, or scars, to detract from my appearance. I supposed I had a slave girl" s vanity. Things had then seemed calm. It seemed the ropes suspending this object would hold, that the surface on which I was confined was not likely to suddenly give way. I was then mainly grateful, in the cold, that we had been given blankets. Then, as my composure grew, I became eager and curious to know more about my surroundings. I did not know in what sort of device I was located. I did not know how high I was. I wondered what the countryside below might look like. Were there fields down there? Rivers? Forests? Would I be able to see the shadow of our passage, fleet and rippling, on the terrain below? What was the nature of the beast, or bird, that drew this carriage so swiftly through the sky? I wished I could see. That, however, was not now possible. The liberty had been denied to me by my master.

"It was nothing," he said.

I lowered my head humbly before him, my master. It had not been nothing, of course. At the height, and in the wind, and the cold, we might have half frozen, had it not been for the comfort of those blankets. I had not been unhooded, and ungagged, incidentally, until I had been inside the tavern, in a slave receiving room. My manacles had not bee removed until I had been taken downstairs to the basement, and was standing before the gate of a kennel. I had then been put to my hands and knees, and thrust into the kennel, which had then been locked behind me. I had, when the man had left, turned about in the kennel and looked out, through the bars. I could kneel in the kennel, but I could not stand upright in it. I held the bars, and looked out. It was a dim basement. To my left and right, though I could not see them well, there were additional kennels. Several girls might be kept in such places. As nearly as I could tell they were empty. There was straw in the kennel, and a part of a blanket, a pan of water, and a pail for wastes. The next morning I was fed, pellets and gruel, in a pan thrust under the kennel gate and then, later, when I had relieved myself, brought forth the first of my lessons in dance.

"Master," I whispered.

"Yes?" he said.

"May I speak?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"I understand that you are satisfied with the price for which you purchased me," I whispered.

"Yes," he said.

"That is seemed a fine buy to you," I said. It seemed strange to me, then, that I, the former Doreen Williamson, the timid, shy reference librarian, from Earth, should now be inquiring into matters such as my price. As a free woman I had been priceless, and thus, in a sense, without value, or worthless. As a slave, on the other hand, I did have a value, a specific value, depending on what men were willing to pay for me.

"It was," he said.

"What did you pay for me?" I asked.

"Surely you recall," he said.

"It was two and fifty," I said, "but I do not know, really, what that means." "Two silver tarsks," he said, "and fifty copper tarsks, not tarsk bits, but tarsks, whole tarsks."

I looked up at him.

"Ah," he said, "you vain little she-tarsk, you want to know if that is much money, don" t you? You want to know how much you brought, really, on the block, as a stripped slave. You want to form an estimate as to your value. You want to know what you are worth. You are curious to know what you might bring in an open market."

"Yes, Master," I whispered.

"Curiosity is not becoming in a kajira," he said.

"Forgive me, Master," I said. I quickly put down my head.

"First," he said, "you must understand that women are cheap. It has to do with the wars. Because of the many dislocations, and the famine in parts of the country, many women have had to sell themselves into slavery. Too, thousands of females from Torcadion alone, over the recent months, in virtue of one coup or another, have been put into the market. Too, mercenaries and raiders abound. Slavers grow more bold, even in larger cities. Crowding, and the influx of refugees, too, in such cities as Ar, refugees who are often beautiful and defenseless, and easily taken, have contributed to the depression of the market. "I see, Master," I said.

"But you would still be curious as to your comparative value," he speculated. "Yes, Master," I said looking up.

"Even under normal conditions," he said, "a silver tarsk would be a very high price to pay for a semitrained girl."

"Ah," I said softly, mostly to myself. I was very pleased. I, semitrained, and a barbarian, had gone for more than twice that price!

I did have value!

"Let me put it in another way," he said, "in one that may be even more meaningful to you."

"Yes, Master?" I said.

"That was the highest price paid for a female that night," he said. "More than was paid for Gloria or Clarissa?" I asked.

"Who are they?" he asked.

"The two girls who were sold before me, just before me," I said. "Earth sluts, like yourself," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Each went for a silver tarsk ten," he said. "Both were superb. I was tempted to bid on them myself."

I was stunned that I had sold for more than Gloria and Clarissa. I had regarded them both as far superior to myself.

"You are a virgin, of course," he said.

"Oh," I said.

"That is of value to me," he said, "for I am a tavern owner. After you had performed the virgin dance, I will raffle off your virginity."

"Yes, Master," I said. I did not really understand what he was saying. I did realize, of course, and had realized this shortly after the beginning of my training, that my value might depend not simply on what I was, in myself, but even on the sort of woman I was, say, that I was a barbarian, and the relative abundance or scarcity of that commodity in the markets. Similar considerations apparently pertained to such matters as hair colors and body types. If these things were so, then I supposed that it was natural that my virginity, or lack of it, might also, at least in some cases, affect my price. My master, I noted, did not seem to be personally interested in my virginity, only in what it might mean to him in terms of its possible commercial value.

"But even if it were not for that," he said, "it is probably that you would have brought more that your lovely terrestrial compatriots."

I looked at him.

"Most Gorean men," he said, "would regard you, exhibited on the block, knowing only that much about you, as superior slave meat."

I shuddered.

"I think," he said, "in that market, that night, even if you had not been a virgin, you would have brought more than your friends. I would have thought you might have brought something in the neighborhood of a tarsk eighty or a tarsk seventy."

"But there was a bid of two for me," I said, "before your bid." "That seems a high bid," he said. "Perhaps it was the bid of someone new to the markets, perhaps one who had not seen many women vended, who did not realize how beautiful any woman is when she is put through merciless slave paces." I blushed, naked before him, in his collar.

"You bid two and fifty," I whispered.

"That is because I saw in you what others, at the time, did not," he said. "I saw in you the dancer, one I can use in the tavern. I saw in you, too, the helpless pleasure slave, who could be made the prisoner of her own passions, becoming an obedient, eager, grateful, spasmodic animal in her master" s arms." I blushed crimson.

"I think, he said, "that in time you might become a five-tarsk girl, perhaps even a ten-tarsk girl."

I looked up at him, frightened.

"You want to cover your breasts with your hands, don" t you?" he asked. "You want to clench your knees tightly together."

"Yes, Master!" I begged.

"Remain kneeling exactly as you are, pleasure slave," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"And so," he said, "although the price I paid for you might have seemed high it was, from my point of view, in virtue of what you are, and will become, a splendid bargain."

"Yes, Master," I whispered.

"Are you pleased," he asked, "aside from questions of the price I paid for you, or my reasons for it, to learn that you are valuable, that you might well bring a price in the neighborhood of two silver tarsks in an open market?"

I did not know, precisely, how to respond to this question. It seemed that I was, as I had hitherto suspected, of genuine interest to Gorean men, or at least so many of them. Should I find pleasure in this, or a cause for alarm? Gorean men are generally such as to know how to handle women. They know what to do with them. Yet I did not think I would really want to be in the arms of other sorts of men.

"You have been asked a question," my master reminded me.

"Forgive me, Master," I whispered. I looked up at him, shyly. "Yes," I whispered, "I am pleased. I am extremely pleased."

"Vain she-tarsk," he said.

"Yes, Master," I smiled. I was delighted to learn that I had brought a good price, even if he thought it such a bargain. I was delighted, too, to learn that I might have, even had he not been there, brought as much as two silver tarsks. One fellow had bid that much! Too, perhaps most importantly, most significantly, no other girl had sold for so much that night as I! I had brought the highest price in the whole market that night! This astonished and delighted me. To be sure, it was doubtless an isolated market, and we were probably all only semitrained girls, or less, girls being sold that night as little more than "slave meat," it was I who had brought the highest price! I wished Teibar could have known that, that his catch from the library on Earth had brought the highest price in the market, and on her first sale, too! But I supposed that he, the monster, the beast, would have merely congratulated himself on his taste in selecting captures, turning it all to his own credit! The buyers would have known very little about me, of course. They had seen me the way most other Gorean men would see me, at first, or until they learned more about me, I supposed, as no more than another pretty girl in bondage, as, in effect, in a sense, no more than another pretty girl in bondage, as, in effect, in a sense, no more than mere "slave meat." I was proud, however, to have been regarded as an attractive slave, or, if you like, as promising slave meat. How strange it then seemed to me that I, the former Doreen Williamson, of Earth, a shy librarian, should now be elated that she had some simple, independent value as a female, if only as slave meat! Then I realized how superficial was my view of this matter, even in so simple a business as vending a girl from a block. Gloria was larger than I and, in his sense, would surely have been expected to have brought more if we were really being considered as "mere slave meat." But she had not brought more. They had considered us, and, for one reason or another, properly or improperly, wisely or not, at that particular time, at least, had bid more for me. The men call us "slave meat," and such, and perhaps this amuses them, and helps to keep us in our place, at their feet, but only a woman who is a fool believes them. They want, and own, the whole slave. Even Gorean law makes it clear that it is the entire slave whi is owned, not merely a part of her. To be sure, Gorean men do not play the games of some fools of Earth, pretending that the bodies of women are not of interest to them, but only their minds, or such, or whatever the currently prescribed cultural values recommend. They relish our bodies and see that they derive from them, exploiting us, if you will, every last ounce of pleasure that they can yield to them, but even in these merciless predations, showing us so little concern, it is the whole woman, the whole of their property, which they tease, and torment, and relish, and make yield to them.

"But there is good discipline kept in this house," he said, lifting the whip. "Yes, Master!" I said, quickly. Here, in this house, I then understood, though I might have some value in a commercial sense, I was only a slave.

"Crawl back down the steps, facing me," he said, "and then kneel at the foot of the dais."

I obeyed. I now felt very small before him, kneeling there, a slave, he, my master, so high above me in that great chair.

From a small sack at his side, walletlike, attached at his belt, he drew forth a tiny object, made of cloth. He crumpled it easily in the palm of his hand. It was clearly very compressible. I did not know what it was.

He threw it to me. It struck my body and fell before me, to the rug, at the foot of the dais. I looked down at it. I looked up at him.

"Put it on," he said.

Quickly I reached down and picked up the object, its folds tucked in among themselves. I opened it, and shook it out. It was a brief slave tunic, slit deeply at the hips, with narrow shoulder straps, little more than strings. I looked up at him, gratefully. It was the first garment of my own I had been given on this world. To be sure, I had been, upon occasion, given blankets or sheets to hold about myself, usually for warmth, and I had been, in my training, put in various costumes, mostly, I suppose, for my masters to see what I looked like in them, such as the common and Turian camisk, and the scandalous garb prescribed for Tuchuk slave girls. Too, I had been taught the wearing of, and arrangement of, simple, typical slave garments, such as tunics of various sorts, and ta-teeras, or slave rage. I had even been taught the tying of slave girdles, in such a way as to emphasize, and sometimes more than subtly, my figure. And, indeed, part of my training had not been only to wear, and move in such garments, but also how to remove them provocatively, and gracefully. Even the blankets and sheets we had been given, presumably mostly for warmth, we had to remove in certain fashions that clearly, from a man" s point of view, would have counted as an extremely sensuous disrobing. Then, recollecting that I had been ordered to put it on, I pulled it over my head and put my arms through the straps. In a moment I had drawn it down about me.

"Stand," he said.

Happily I stood, pulling the garment down more, hastily, modestly, about my thighs. Then I realized, blushing, that doing this must have as its consequences the greater accentuation of my figure.

"Turn," he said. "Walk about. Then return and stand before me." Happily I moved about in the garment.

"Do you not know how to walk?" he asked.

"Forgive me, Master," I said.

I then walked as a slave, proudly, my shoulders back, gracefully and beautifully, as a woman owned by men. As an Earth female I would never have dared to walk in such a way. Such movements are probably indexed, like physical distances between individuals, to the culture. In Gorean culture, generally, it seemed to me that people stood closer to one another than I was accustomed to on Earth. In this way it was natural for men here, for example, to stand much closer to the scantily clad slave then the average man of, say, northern Europe, on Earth, would be likely to, to a woman of his area. Indeed, he usually stands up and draw her to him, taking her in his arms. The dynamic consequences of these proximities are minimized considerably, of course, by the fact that the slave often kneels in the presence of the free male. It is customary in the kneeling position to remain back a few feet from the male. The kneeling position, itself, expresses the servitude of the slave, and her submission. The distance serves three major purposes. It symbolizes in the distance, as well as in the differential in height, the social inferiority of the slave to the master. It puts the slave in a position where all of her, for the master" s delight, can be seen. A space between the slave and the free male so that the releasing of his rapacity is then likely to require a decision, and is less likely to be simply, reflexively, triggered. This is regarded as being particularly important when the slave is in the presence of a male who is not her master. The kneeling position, thus, interestingly, can occasionally provide a measure of security, if a somewhat tenuous one, for the slave, tending to reduce to some extent the frequency with which, in a culture with such interpersonal proximities, she might otherwise be subjected to unauthorized rape. This same tiny measure of protection, of course, puts her in much greater danger from her real master, for he, observing her, seeing her kneeling beautifully before him, can also delay in his considerations as to her suitable exploitations. How shall he use her? What shall he have her do, and so on. To be sure, sometimes he simply takes her and when he wants her, and almost by reflexive whim. She is his. The main reason why a slave kneels, of course, aside from such subtle and complex considerations, is simply that she is a slave, and that that position, accordingly, is appropriate for her.

I loved the tiny garment! It was the first that I had had since I had come to Gor. In it much of me was still bared, my legs, my hips to the waist, my shoulders, and so on, and it left little doubt about the lineaments of my form, but I loved it. No longer was I absolutely and starkly naked, save for a metal collar. I adjusted the strap on my right shoulder. The small, soft, rounded shoulders of a woman, incidentally, like the rest of a female, Gorean men tend to find very provocative. They seem to relish, and respond to, perhaps to a much greater extent than many of the men of Earth, the entire woman. they are likely to find exciting even such small details of a woman as her delicate ear lobes. That perhaps explains, at least in part, the momentousness of ear piercing to Goreans, which those of Earth take so much for granted. To the Gorean, the piercing of the woman" s ear, with its analog of penetration, and the fixing in it of earrings, chosen by the master, ornamenting her for his pleasure, is an act of power and claimancy scarcely less significant than her branding and collaring. Free women, incidentally, seldom, if ever, bare their shoulders. Doing so is almost like offering themselves for the collar. "If you would be stripped as a slave, then be a slave," it is said. Similarly free women on Gor seldom, if ever, wear earrings, either of the natural or of any other variety, such as the clip variety. Earrings are regarded as being fit, rather, for slaves, and usually the lowest of slaves. Nose rings, interestingly, are not regarded in the same light. They are worn even by some free women, I understand, in the far south, the women of the Wagon Peoples there, as well as, generally, by the female slaves of such peoples. In short, Gorean men seem to find the whole woman exciting. To be sure, the shoulders, for example, lead to the delicious curvatures of the breasts, those, too, the property of the master, and thence to the waist and belly, and thighs, and the slave" s helpless, delicate intimacies. The ear lobes, too, lead to the throat, and thence, beneath the collar, to the shoulders, and so on. Similarly, the foot leads to the ankle, and that to the lusciously rounded calf, and that upward to the thighs, and those, again, in their lovely softness, to the girl" s exposed, hot, open, helpless, delicate intimacies. It is not unusual for a Gorean male, in his zest for females, to cover her entire body, bit by bit, with kisses and caresses, moving toward her helplessness. It is not easy to prevent these attentions, either, as you may well imagine, when you have been simply chained down for his pleasure. Sometimes you scream for him to hasten, begging him with every bit of your female helplessness to do so, but he, of course, will do as he pleases, for you belong to him or he has your use, and he is a free male, the master. I returned then to the foot of the dais, to stand there before Hendow, of the tavern of Hendow, on Dock Street, in Brundisium.

"You are very beautiful," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said. I was elated that he had see fit to give me a garment. Too, he had said that I was beautiful. I wondered if he liked me. I wondered if I could use that, and possible manipulate him in some way. I decided I had better not try. He was not a man of Earth. He was a Gorean male.

"Yes," he said, "you are very beautiful."

I felt radiant. I did not think he would hurt me now. I did not know, though. The garment I wore, incidentally, was more modest, in its way, than the garment of red silk I had made for myself on Earth, that which Teibar had thrust in my mouth in the library, showing me that I was forbidden to speak. He had withdrawn it from my mouth only on the library table, when I had lain there before him on my back, before he had put the conical rubberized mask over my face, introducing the chemicals into it which had forced me to lose consciousness, a consciousness I had regained only on Gor, awakening to the blows of his whip.

"Do you like the garment?" he asked.

"Yes, Maser!" I said. "Yes, Master!"

"Take it off," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said, tears in my eyes. I stood then before him again, absolutely and starkly naked, except for a metal collar. I clutched the tiny garment in my hand. He could give me such a garment. He could take it away. I must put it on at his command. I must remove it at his command. I was his. Hendow, of the Tavern of Hendow, on Dock Street, in Brundisium, rose from the great chair. He stood on the dais, looming over me. In his hand he held the whip. I looked at the instrument of discipline, frightened.

He then descended from the dais, and stood near me. I looked straight ahead, clutching the tiny garment. He was huge, next to me. I felt very tiny. He put the coils of the whip under my chin, and pressed up a little. I held my chin up. the nearness of his presence, and his virile, brutish masculinity made me terribly uneasy.

"What is your name," he asked.

"Whatever Master pleases," I said, quickly.

I had not yet been named in this house. The words «slut» or «slave» served well enough to summon me. I trembled. I realized I might, in a moment, be named. They that would be who I would be, as simply are that, like any animal. "Come here," he said, "and lie down, on your back, on this step." He had indicated the second step leading to the height of the dais. I complied. "Place your left foot on the first step," he said, "and put your right foot her, on the third step."

I did so. This opened my legs.

"Now," he said, "put your arms back, over your head."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"That exposes your armpits," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said, puzzled.

He looked down at me. "What were you called in the house of your training?" he asked.

"Doreen," I said.

"Very well," he said, "you are Doreen."

"Thank you, Master," I said, named. This had been my name on Earth. I wore it now, of course, only as a slave name. It could have been anything.

"Doreen," he said.

"Yes, Maser," I said, responding to my name.

"You are now to lie as you are," he said, "until you receive permission to change your position. You are to lie in this position, and very quietly. If you do not, it will be extremely dangerous for you. In particular, make no sudden moves."

"Yes, Master," I said, puzzled.

He then went to the side of the room, where there dangled three or four cords. I lifted my head a little to watch him. he drew on one of these cords. I saw a panel lift in the wall. It exposed a low opening, only about a yard in height. It was dark within this portal, but I saw, it stretching backwards, what appeared to be a low, dark tunnel. He then came back, and crouched down, near me, above me, on the third step.

He put his whip aside, near him. He put his hand gently on my collar.

"Master?" I asked.

"Be quiet," he said.

I lay there, quietly. Then, suddenly, I felt hair on the back of my neck rising. "Maser!" I said.

"Lie quietly," he said.

I could now hear, from some distance down the tunnel, the sound of something approaching. It was coming rapidly. I heard snuffling noise. I heard panting. I could hear claws on the floor of the tunnel.

"Lie quietly," cautioned my master, literally holding me in place, his hand gripping my collar.

Then something burst into the room.

Half choking, my head was forced back down, by the collar.

"If you want, keep your eyes closed," he said.

Whatever it was had apparently stopped just within the room.

"It will take a moment for its eyes to adjust to the light," he said. "But it is done very quickly."

The room was not brightly lit.

"I think you will like Borko," he said.

"What is it?" I whispered. My head was held down, back on the second step. "Keep you legs apart," he said. "It is a gray sleen. I raised it from a whelp. Ah, greetings, Borko! How are you, old fellow?"

I would have screamed and reared up, but I was thrust back, helpless, half strangled, scarcely able to utter a sound, to the step. So our masters can control us by our collars. To my terror, then, pushing over my body, to thrust its great jaws and head, so large I could scarcely have put my arms around them, into the hands and arms of my master, was an incredible beast. It had an extremely again, active, sinuous body, as thick as a drum, and perhaps fourteen or fifteen feet long. It might have weighed a thousand pounds. Its broad head was triangular, almost viperlike, but it was furred. This thing was a mammal, or mamalian. Its eyes now had pupils like slits, like those of a cat in sunlight. So quickly then might its adaptive mechanisms have functioned. About its muzzle were gray hairs, grayer than the silvered gray of its fur. It had six legs. "Good lad!" said my master, roughly fondling that great fierce head. "We have been through much together, Borko and I," said my master. "He has even, twice, saved my life. Once when I was struck, unexpectedly, by one foolishly thought to be a friend, the origin of this scar," he said, indicating good-humoredly the hideous, jagged tissue at the left side of his face, "I told Borko to hunt. The fellow did not escape. Borko brought part of him back to me, in his jaws."

I watched in terror as my master, over my body, scratched and pulled, and shoved, at that great head. Clearly he was inordinately fond of that terrible beast, and perhaps it of him. I saw his eyes. He lavished affection upon it. He cared more for it than his girls, I was certain. Perhaps it was the only thing he trusted, other than himself, the only thing he knew that he could rely upon, other than himself, the only thing, of all creatures he knew, who had proved its love and loyalty to him. If this were so, then perhaps it was not incredible that he might bestow upon it a fondness, or love, which he, betrayed perhaps by men, might withhold from others, from men, and slaves.

"Do you know what you and Borko have in common?" he asked me.

"We are both your animals, Master," I said.

"Yes!" he said. "And do you know who is most valuable?"

"No, Master," I said.

"Borko," he said, "is a seasoned hunting sleen. Even to strangers he would bring a hundred times what you would bring in the market."

I was silent. I was frightened with those huge jaws, the two rings of fangs, the long, dark tongue, over me.

"But I would not sell him for anything," he said. "He is worth more to me than ten thousand of you."

"Yes, Master," I whispered.

"Borko!" he said, sternly. "Borko."

The beast pulled back its head, observing him.

"Learn slave," he said. "Learn slave."

I then began to whimper. "Hold still," said my master.

The beast then began to push its nose and muzzle about me, thrusting it here and there, about me. I now understood why I had been spread as I had, on the steps. "The sleen," he said, "and especially the gray sleen, is Gor" s finest tracker. It is a relentless, tenacious tracker. It can follow a scent that is weeks old, for a thousand pasangs."

I whimpered, the beast" s snout thrust between my things, sniffing.

"Please, Master," I whimpered.

I felt it nuzzling then at my waist and breasts. It was learning me.

"Do you know what the sleen hunts?" he asked.

"No, Master," I whimpered.

"In the wild it commonly hunts tabuk and wild tarsk," he said, "but it is an intelligent beast, and it can be trained to hunt anything."

"Yes, Master," I whimpered.

He held back my right arm, further, exposing more the armpit.

"Do you know what Borko is trained to hunt?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said.

I felt the snout of the beast then poking about my throat and under my chin, to the side, and then at the side of my neck. My maser then held my left arm further, exposing the armpit to the beast.

"It is trained to hunt men, and slaves," he said.

"No!" I wept.

I squirmed, but my master held me steady, by the collar and my left wrist, held back. the beast thrust its snout against me, there, in the armpit, and then sniffed along the interior of my left arm, and then along the left side of my body.

I whimpered in terror.

"Try not to be afraid," he said. "That might excite Borka"

"Yes, Master," I whimpered.

Then the beast drew back its head.

"Doreen," said my master to the beast, slowly, clearly. "Doreen. Doreen." The beast again sniffed me.

"Doreen," said my master, grinning to the beast. "Doreen."

I shuddered.

The beast then drew back its head again.

"Back, Borko," said my master, and the beast inched back, its eyes on me. I was shuddering. I dared not move.

"Borko is trained to respond to a variety of signals," he said.

"Yes, Master," I whispered.

"He now knows you," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Whose are you?" he asked.

"I am yours, Master," I said, quickly.

"Do not try to escape," he said.

"No, Master!" I said. "I will not try to escape!"

"Borko, go back to your kennel," he said. "Go, now!"

The beast then backed off a few feet, and turned. In a moment, it had withdrawn through the low portal. My master went to the cord which controlled the panel, and closed it. I was shuddering on the step. I did not move. I was almost too afraid to do so. Too, I had not been given permission to break position. "Kneel at the foot of the dais," he said. Swiftly I did so. I found I was still clutching the tiny garment I had been given. It had been clutched in the palm of my right hand, all the time. It was now wet with sweat. The prints of my nails were deep in it.

He retrieved the whip and ascended to the height of the dais, where he took his place in the great chair.

He looked down at me, the whip across his knees.

Perhaps now, Earth woman," he said, "you understand more clearly what your situation is on this world?"

I shuddered.

"Do you understand, girl?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Stand," he said.

I stood.

"You may put on your garment," he said.

Quickly I donned the tiny garment, and drew it down, as I could, about me. I stood there.

"Yes," he said, "you are beautiful."

"Thank you, Master," I said. I flushed with pleasure. I was valuable. Doubtless I would be a high slave.

He stood. "Mirus!" he called. Mirus was one of his men. I knew him from the house. He had brought me to this chamber. In a moment, Mirus appeared through the door, that at the end of the carpet, that leading into this chamber. He approached, and took up a position a bit behind me and to my left."

"She is lovely, isn" t she?" my master asked Mirus.

"Yes," he said.

"Do you like your garment?" my master asked me.

"Yes, Master," I said. I recalled the last time he had asked this I had been shortly thereafter ordered to remove it. He could do that again, and I would again be forced to disrobe, and instantly. Too, this time it would also be before Mirus. It is one thing to come naked before a man, and another to strip yourself, or be stripped, before him. too, it is something else again, to do this, or have it done to you, before others. Mirus was not my master, but only my master" s man. To be sure, I was a slave, and would have to obey. Coming nude before men, and stripping herself, or being stripped, befoe them are things such as a slave girl must expect. After all, what else could she expect? She is, after all, a slave. Indeed, sometimes girls are stripped in public, even in the squares, because masters are so pleased to show them off. Sometimes this occurs in heated discussions of the relative merits of different master" s girls, and the girls are ordered to disrobe on the spot, sometimes then being put through slave paces, there, on the very tiles of the squares and plazas, the matter being left to the acclamations or votes of the spectators, and woe to the girl who comes out second best in such a contest! Too, it is not uncommon, as a discipline, to send a girl out naked on errands. In such a case she is often locked in an iron belt. Too, it is not unusual, in taverns, particularly lower taverns, as I would learn, for girls to be publicly naked. I was diffident though, at this time, to remove my clothing before Minus. I would have been embarrassed, or humiliated, to do so. I was not yet a brazen slut. I had not yet even been on the floor of the tavern. My attitude, of course, I understood, was undoubtedly a bit irrational. Minus, after all, had seen me naked. Indeed, he had never, really, seen me clothed. He as the one, incidentally, who had unhooded and ungagged me in this house. He had been pleased with my face. He had then unroped the blanket which had been tied about me, and opened it, folding it back, almost as though I might have been a present. "Superb," he had said, this pleasing me. "Are you white silk?" he had asked. "Yes, Master," I had said, shrinking back from him in the manacles. He had then taken me down to the basement, removed the manacles, put me on my hands and knees, and thrust me into my kennel, locking it behind me. Why, then, was I embarrassed, or humiliated, at the thought that I might now be ordered to disrobe in his presence? I was not sure. I supposed it was because I was not yet fully adjusted to my slavery. I was not yet a brazen slave. I had not yet, at that time, even been put out on the floor of the tavern. Perhaps I still thought, at that time, that the fullness of my beauty was, particularly, for my master, and not for others. I did not really stop to think, at that time, however, that Hendow was a tavern owner, and that, thus, the fullness of my beauty was not only for him, but, as he saw fit, or as it might please him, also for his customers.

"She looks lovely in the garment, doesn" t she?" asked Hendow. I gathered he was proud of me.

"Yes," said Mirus.

I again felt the suffusion of pleasure in my body. I looked down, shyly, smiling. My master, I was sure, liked me. I did not think, now, he would order me to remove the garment before Mirus. I recalled that he had paid the highest price for me of any girl at the market. I was valuable. I would be a high slave! "Do you know, Doreen," asked my master, "what sort of tunic it is?" "No, Master," I said.

"It is a kitchen tunic," he said.

I looked at him, startled.

"Take her to the kitchen," he said to Mirus. "Teach her to clean pots and pans." "Yes, Hendow," said Mirus. Then he turned about. "Come, slave," he said. Quickly I fell to my knees before Hendow, he in the great chair on the dais, and put my head to the carpet, the palms of my hands, too, on the carpet, beside my head, performing slave obeisance. I then leaped up, turned, and hurried after Mirus, who, now, at the end of the carpet, was near the exit. "Mirus," called Hendow.

Mirus looked back to the dais.

"See that her dance lessons continue," he said.

"It will be so, Hendow," said Mirus.

"And double them," said Hendow.

"Yes, Hendow," said Mirus. He then turned about and left. I fell again to my knees at the far end of the carpet, and again performed slave obeisance. I then leaped up, again, and hurried after Mirus.

He would take me to the kitchen, where I would be put to work.

11 The Raffle; The Alcove; The Kennel

I waited, frightened, within the threshold, clutching the sheet about me. I leaned back against the wall, my eyes closed for a moment. Beyond the threshold I could hear the conversation of men, sitting, cross-legged, at the low tables. The library seemed faraway now.

There was a beaded curtain hung in the threshold.

I listened to the sounds of the men.

Sometimes, I had heard, before nights such as this, a girl is kept in close chains, sitting or lying, scarcely able to move. Too, sometimes, for days before a night like this she wears the sirik. I had very seldom been in sirik, though I had worn one in my training once or twice, so that I might be instructed in the strict limitations it would impose on me, and how I might, nonetheless, move in it, if it were set to suitable widths, in a way pleasing to masters. The full sirik consists of a collar an three chains. One of these chains, a long, vertical chain, attached to the collar, dangles downward. To it are fastened two horizontal chains, one, from its attachment point near the lower belly, terminating in slave bracelets, wrist-rings, or manacles, and the other, from its attachment point at the end of the dangling chain, usually lying on the floor, or ground, terminating in shackles or ankle-rings. Parts of this arrangement may function separately, of course, for example, the long chain as a leash, the horizontal attachments as, say, slave bracelets or ankle shackles. Too, in many siriks, the chain widths are adjustable. In that way the latitudes of movement accorded to the slave may be enlarged or reduced, as the master pleases. They are, as many other things in the slave" s life, under his exact governance. In the harshest adjustments, she may move with considerable grace and beauty; indeed, in some siriks, it is possible for her to dance. In the sirik adjustments often prescribed for a girl before a night like this she can scarcely walk, the vertical chain" s lower attachment point being drawn up between her ankles, which are then, separated by as little as three or four inches, and her wrists, too, before her body, are even more closely confined. My master, however, had not seen fit to exercise such precautions in my case. He knew, and I knew, they were unnecessary. I leaned back more against the wall, my eyes closed. I clutched the sheet more closely about me. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to go. I was branded and collared. I would be naked or scantily clad. There was no one to rescue me, or free me. I would be bond, and a property, to any who might come upon me, like a dog or horse. The entire legal resources of this world would be marshaled toward returning me to my master. Too, I thought, shuddering, as if such things were not enough, my body, and its odors, with my name, such that it might be included with appropriate triggering signals, had been imprinted on the dark, eager brain of a massive hunting sleen. No, I would not run away. When my master came for me, to take me by the arms and lead me to the floor, I would be here, in the only way I could be here, waiting, and docile.

I listened again to the murmur of the men outside, the small sounds of their goblets and plates.

I considered again the sleen. "I think you will like Borko," had said my master, before I had seen the beast, when I had only heard him in the tunnel, and then entering the room. I recalled the huge head, the two rows of fangs, the dark tongue, the widely set eyes, the thrusting, prowling snout, the claws. It had been trained, I had learned, to hunt men, and slaves. Obediently it had withdrawn to its kennel at the word of my master. But just as swiftly, I was sure, it could be summoned forth again, and set about its master" s bidding, implacably, unquestioningly, innocently, mercilessly, eagerly. I shuddered. That beast, I thought, if nothing else, would serve to keep good order among the women of Hendow, a taverner on Dock Street, in Brundisium. I smiled to myself. Sometimes women, either free or slave, are called she-sleen." I had not known, until a few days ago, what a sleen was. I now knew. I might be a "she-urt," or a she-tarsk," I thought, but I certainly was not a "she-sleen," even figuratively. To be sure, at that time, I did not know about the miniature, silken sleen that are sometimes kept as sinuous pets. Perhaps it is that sort of she-sleen, which, if not properly controlled, tends to be sly, nasty and dangerous, that men have in mind when they sometimes apply that expression to a woman. I do not know. To be sure, as the men say, it seems that even the woman who is a «she-sleen» needs only a strong master, one who brings her swiftly to her knees and teaches her that she is a female. The husk of the she-sleen, as it is said, can be torn away, never to grow again, leaving behind only the soft flesh of another slave.

I opened my eyes. I heard bells outside the threshold, from the floor.

I inched to my right, and turned, looking out through the beaded curtain. I could see the men there, at the tables. It was a broad, low-ceilinged room, with pillars. It was dimly lit, mostly with tharlarion-oil lamps, hung on chains from the ceiling. There were some fifty tables in the room, tables at which, if not placed adjacently to one another, generally four men might sit. Some men, too, were sitting about the walls, leaning against them. There was a crowd in the tavern tonight. I had heard the eighteenth bar struck some time ago. It would soon be the height of the evening, the time ore the special entertainment, an entertainment in which I had a prominent role. There had even been some handbills distributed by boys about the city, and others, I had heard, had been tacked up on public boards. There had been signs painted too, I gathered, here and there among similar signs, usually on poorer streets, or in alleys, where magistrates, less inclined to object, were also less prone to patrol. To be sure, most of my master" s clientele came from such areas.

I looked out. The bells I had heard were apparently on Tupita.

I wondered how many of the men out there had come for the special entertainment this evening. Some, I was sure.

I did not care much for Tupita, and she did not care much for me. I saw her kneeling beside a man, pouring him paga. She was naked, like the other girls on the floor. Hendow liked his women, or at least his paga slaves, on the floor, that way. Too, in the lower paga taverns it is not uncommon. Tupita knelt back from him. I think she was afraid of him. I hoped he would take he in an alcove and put her through her paces! I heard the sound of a blow, probably with the back of a hand, and a cry of pain and saw, to one side, to the right, Ilene, struck back to her left thigh, looking up, frightened, at one of the men, now on his feet. He took her by the arm, pulling her to her feet, conducting her then, she stumbling, hurried, to one of the alcoves. Perhaps she would be further punished there. Though «Ilene» is an Earth-girl name, Ilene was Gorean. Such names are sometimes given to Gorean girls, sometimes to inform them, to their horror, that they are not to be as low and succulent, and helpless, and luscious as Earth females in Gorean bondage. I was, incidentally, the only Earth girl in the house. I drew back my head and leaned back again, breathing deeply, against the wall, to the left of the threshold, as one would enter it. I was afraid of such men!

I again closed my eyes.

I could hardly stand. Tonight I was to dance before me, such men! I felt ill. I had danced hitherto only before Teibar, and his men, at the library, and once or twice before the men in the house of my training, and, of course, here, in my lessons, before some men, in particular, the musicians, and some men from the house, who, from time to time, would pause to watch me. But I had never danced before Hendow, my own master. Mirus had seen me several times, though, and he, I am sure, had conveyed reports to my master. Mirus, when I had knelt before him at the end of my lessons, seemed generally, on the whole, and particularly lately, quite pleased with my progress. I received such intelligences with extreme relief, kneeling before him, for I did not wish to be whipped.

Sometimes, in my lessons, as I danced, I could see Mirus, and other men of the house, watching me, their eyes alight. Sometimes they licked their lips, almost as though I might be food. Yesterday, at the conclusion of my last lesson, when in a swirl of music, I had lowered myself to the floor, in a dancer" s posture of abject submission before men, I had heard several of them cry out with approval, and strike their left shoulders repeatedly, fiercely, with the palms of their hands. They had then crowded about me. On my knees, rising, I had been conscious of their legs, and whips, about me. What whips I could I seized to me and kissed, hastily, in fear. I had been afraid they would beat me. But "Marvelous!" and "Superb!" I heard. Mirus was then, almost by force, pushing them away from me, and ordering them to return to their duties. Grumbling they disbanded, leaving the room. When we were alone, after even the musicians had left, and I was still at his feet, I looked up at him. it was he, first among these men, second only to Hendow, my master, whom I must most strive to please. "Master?" I asked. "You have talent," he said, dryly. "Thank you, Master," I said. I put down my head and kissed his feet, delicately, in deference and gratitude. He then turned away from me, rather suddenly I thought.

"Master!" I called to him.

He stopped, and looked back.

"Yes?" he said.

"May I speak?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

"When am I to be put forth upon the floor?" I asked.

"You have not been told?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said.

"Tomorrow night," he said. He then left.

I remained kneeling there for a long time, in the practice room. Tomorrow night I would go forth upon the floor. I trembled. Surely I was not yet ready! Yet that judgment, one as to my readiness, was not mine to make. It lay rather in the province of masters. They had judged me "ready." To be sure, I would be ready only as a "new girl" is ready. I would be ready, in effect, simply to begin, to begin to become a female slave. Could I truly be ready to begin, I wondered. I recalled the faces of the men from a few minutes ago. Yes, I thought, perhaps the masters are right. Perhaps I am ready for that beginning. I trembled, looking down at the floor. How they had looked at me, so eagerly, so excitedly, relishing me, reveling in what they saw, and knowing that I, the dancer, was collared, that I could be owned. Mirus, I recalled, had almost had to drive them away from me, almost as one might force lions from meat. Mirus, too, I recalled, had himself turned away from me, at the end, when we were alone, with a sudden abruptness. I now thought I understood that. He, too, I suspected, like the others, had found me not without interest. Indeed, the first question he had addressed to me in this house, when he had unroped the blanket from about me, and I was before him, naked, my wrists manacled behind my back, was whether or not I was "white silk." Had I not been I think he might then, even as I was, manacled and on the blanket, have put me to his purposes. Now, this evening, he had abruptly turned from me, with surprising abruptness I had thought. I smiled, looking down at the boards of the floor. I do not think he trusted himself to be alone with me. I sensed then that I had great power over men, and that there was much I could do to them, simply by being a female, and myself, and beautiful. And I had this power even in my collar, and perhaps especially in my collar, for this seemed to make me a thousand times more beautiful to them. But then I realized that, ultimately, I had no power, for I was a slave. I could be brought to my knees at a word, and to my back at a gesture. I was afraid to go on the floor. I was afraid to begin the life of the slave. I hoped I would be found pleasing. I hoped I would not be too much beaten.

I opened my eyes, standing there, leaning back against the wall, within the threshold leading out to the floor.

Someone was approaching me.

I knelt.

"Are you all right?" asked Mirus.

"Yes, Master," I said. "Thank you, Master."

"It looks like a good house tonight," he said, looking out through the curtain. I was silent.

"It is nearly the Nineteenth Ahn," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"We will not begin precisely at the Nineteenth Ahn," he said. "We will let them grow a bit restless."

"Yes, Master," I whispered, holding the sheet about me, looking up at him. I a slave in his presence of a free man. He then left. I did not rise to my feet. I did not even know if I could stand.

Outside there were men, Gorean men. I was to dance this night before them. I did not even know if I could get to my feet.

I heard the approach of slave bells, coming from the outer room. I wanted to rise but the strings of the beaded curtain were too quickly flung aside. "Ah," said Sita, "that is where you belong, Earth slut, on your knees." "Yes, Mistress," I said to her. I must address all female slaves in the house of Hendow as "Mistress." That order would be in effect until it was explicitly rescinded, probably, depending on my behavior and progress, in a few weeks. This is sometimes done with new girls. It helps to keep discipline among us. I would then, when the order was rescinded, be able to call the girls, with the exception of the "first girl," by their own names. I would be one of them. Tupita was "first girl." We must all call her "Mistress." I was pleased it had not been Tupita who had come through the curtain and discovered me on my knees, thought, to be sure, had she done so, I would have had to kneel before her. Sita did not like me either. She was an ally of Tupita, and often informed on the other girls.

"You will learn tonight what it is to be a slave, Earth Slut," hissed Sita. "Yes, Mistress," I said. Sita then, with a sound of bells, went down a corridor, toward the kitchen.

I looked after her, angrily, from my knees. She, too, was only a slave! I hoped that tonight some man would not be satisfied with her and would whip her well. Last night, a customer had put Tupita at a whipping ring and expressed his displeasure with her attitudes. She had then begged to please him in an alcove. He had left her only this morning. Mirus had unchained her later, sometime around noon.

I inched over and, on my knees, looked out through the curtain. There were more men in the tavern now. It must be near the Nineteenth Ahn! Again I hid back, frightened, and sick, behind the wall, away from the curtain. Out there, among the tables, I had seen the dancing floor. It was there I would be placed. The space for the musicians was to the left, as I had looked out. The form of dance to which I had been drawn on Earth, for whatever reason or reasons, whether because of some sort of feared innate, ungovernable sensuousness, or extreme deep-seated feminine dispositions or needs, or perhaps even, simply, a sense of what was appropriate for me, whether I wished it or not, considering the realities of my ultimate nature, I had preferred to think of as "ethnic dance." I had been secretly thrilled, of course, but had scarcely dared, even to myself, to think of it as "belly dance," or, as the French have it, "danse du ventre," a term popular with some, with some perhaps as a euphemism, and with others as a sensuous way of expressing the matter, one with the same objective meaning as "belly dancing" but which, for them, perhaps, has rich and special connotations. To be sure, both terms are in a sense reductive misnomers, for in this form of dance, as in other forms of dance, the dancer dances with her entire body and beauty. I had never cared too much for the term "exotic dance" as that term seems to me too broad, in that it covers not only "ethnic dance," if, indeed, it really covers that, but many other forms of dance as well, which seem to have little in common other than their capacity to be sexually stimulatory. But then, to a discerning eye, most, of all, dance, and certainly ballet, for example, is sexually stimulatory. Those who fear and hate sex have, I think, understood these things better than many others, for example, low-drive individuals and the sexually inert. On Gor, dance of the sort in which I was expected to perform, is called, simply, "slave dance." This is presumably because it is a form of dance which, for the most part, is thought to be fit only for slaves, and would be performed only by slaves. The thought crossed my mind that the lovely woman who had been my teacher on Earth had once remarked to me, "We are all slaves." I think that is true. Certainly, however, not all women are legal slaves. Many women are free, legally, whether it is in their best interests or not. Such dances, then, "slave dances," at least on Gor, are not for such women. If a "free woman," that is, one legally, free, were to publicly perform such a dance on Gor she would probably find herself in a master" s chains by morning. Her "legal freedom," we may speculate, would prove quite fleeting. It would soon be replaced, we may suppose, with a new and more appropriate status, that of being a slave legally, a status fixed on her then with all the clarity and obduracy of Gorean law, and fixed oh her plainly as the collar on her neck and the mark on her thigh. "Slave dance," on Gor, incidentally, is a very rich and varied dance form. It covers a great deal more than simple "ethnic dance." For example, it includes dances such as hunt dances, capture dances, submission dances, chain dances, whip dances, and such. Perhaps what is done in slave dance on Gor would count as "exotic dance" on Earth, but, if we are thinking of the actual kinds of dances performed, then there is much in slave dance, for example, story dances, which are seldom, if ever, included in "erotic dance" which, on Earth, and there are forms of dance in "erotic dance" which, for one reason or another, are seldom, if ever, seen on Gor, for example, certain forms of carnival dancing, such as bubble dancing or fan dancing. Perhaps the reason such dances are seldom, if ever, seen on Gor, is that Goreans would not be likely to regard them as being "real dance." They would be regarded, I think, as little more than culturally idiosyncratic forms of commercial teasing. They are, at any rate, not the sort of dance, or the «danse-du-venre» sort, so pleasing to strongmen, which a slave on Gor, fearing the whip, must often learn to perform.

I heard bells coming, from down the corridor, from within. I was still on my knees. Sita hove into sight, returning to the floor. She paused, looking down at me, kneeling there, clutching the sheet about me, frightened. She was naked, except for her collar, and some beads, colorful, cheap wooden beads, slave beads, and her bells, on her left ankle. she regarded me, at her feet, contemptuously. I looked up at her, angrily. Why should she regard me so contemptuously? I was clothed. I had a sheet about me! She wore only her collar, and a few beads, and slave bells! "You" re naked!" I said to her, angrily. Swiftly she crouched down before me, and, with two hands, angrily, there in the hall, near the curtain, tore the sheet back, away from me, thrusting it back, and down, over my calves. "So, too, are you!" she hissed. About my neck had been slung several strands of beads, large, colorful wooden beads, slave beads, of different lengths. To some extent they concealed me, but they, other than my collar, were all I wore.

Then, it startling us both, we heard the ringing of the nineteenth bar. She smiled at me.

Hastily I pulled the sheet up and put it about me as closely as I could, holding it even, in my two fists, high, about my neck.

I looked at her, frightened.

"In a bit," she said, "Tupita and I will put the leash cuffs on you." She then rose up, quickly. Perhaps she had been away from the floor too long. She hurried through the beaded curtain.

I heard a man outside strike the table with his goblet. "The nineteenth bar! The nineteenth bar!" he called. "The nineteenth bar has struck!"

"Bring forth the slave!" called another.

"Bring her forth!" called another.

Another man or two added to this din, by pounding their goblets on the tables. I knelt back, out of sight, near the curtain, frightened, clutching the sheet about me. I was not to be brought forth immediately at the Nineteenth Ahn, Mirus had told me. It seemed that it was their intention that the men should wait, at least for a time. They wanted them, apparently, to be kept in suspense, to become eager and restless, perhaps even impatient. I was certainly in no hurry to be conducted onto the floor. On the other hand, I was frightened, too, if the men were too long kept waiting. Perhaps then they would expect too much. What if there were disappointed? I was a new slave, really. How could I please them, truly? I moaned softly to myself. I did not want to feel the lash.

The men seemed not to be fairly quiet outside. Perhaps most of them did not expect me, really, to be brought out on the stroke of the nineteenth bar. Perhaps those who had smote their goblets on the tables and called for me, had, as much as anything, been voicing a natural disgruntlement at the unwritten customs, which seemed to govern such affairs, at the institution of a time to be set aside for the whetting of appetites. I supposed that there would have to be a judicious sense of timing involved in such matters, that the time must be long enough to bring the audience to a point of eager readiness, perhaps even impatience, without, on the other hand, dallying so long that they became unruly or hostile. I assumed that the house must know what it was doing in these matters. Doubtless I was not the first girl to be conducted out onto the floor, and probably not even the first Earth girl.

"How are you, Doreen?" asked small Ina, crouching down, solicitously, beside me. I looked at her, gratefully. "All right, Mistress," I whispered.

"Good," she smiled, reassuringly.

Ina did not care in the least, really, I was sure, whether I called her «mistress» or not, but we had both agreed, two weeks ago, when we had become friends, both of us in the kitchen, that it would be better for me to do so, as I was the newest girl. We were both afraid that if I called her by her name, and someone heard, I, and Ina, too, if she had not imposed discipline, would have been punished. For example, we would not have wanted to let either Tupita or Sita catch us in such a negligence.

"Have you had your slave wine?" asked Ina.

"Yes," I said. This is not really a wine, or an alcoholic beverage. It is called "slave wine," I think, for the amusement of the masters. It is extremely bitter. One draught of the substance is reputed to last until the administration of an appropriate "releaser." In spite of this belief, however, or perhaps in deference to tradition, lingering from earlier times, in which, it seems, less reliable "Slave wines" were available, doses of this foul stuff are usually administered to female slaves at regular intervals, usually once or twice a year. Some girls, rather cynical ones, I suspect, speculate that the masters give it to them more often than necessary just because they enjoy watching them down the terrible stuff. This is unlikely, however. There are cheaper and more easily available ingredients for such a mode of discipline than slave wine. "Good," said Ina. "There is then nothing to worry about."

I looked at her. It had not occurred to me, really, that I had "nothing to worry about."

"The time to worry," said Ina, "is if they decide to make you a breeding slave." I nodded.

"You must then drink the releaser," she said.

I nodded numbly.

"I have been told it is quite good," she said.

I looked at her, with horror.

"Really," she said.

Slave wine makes sense in a slave-holding culture, such as Gor. The breeding of slaves, like any sort of domestic animals, and particularly valuable ones, is carefully controlled. As a slave, of course, I could be bred, or crossed, when, and however, my master might see fit. It is the same as with other animals. I lifted my head a little.

Outside the men were becoming impatient. I could hear the striking of goblets more often now on tables. I heard some shouting.

When the girl is taken to the breeding cell or breeding stall, she is normally hooded. Her selected mate is also hooded. In this fashion personal attachments are precluded. She is not there to know in whose arms she lies, or piteously, and in misery, to fall in love, but to be impregnated. And in accord with the prescribed anonymity of the breeding, as would be expected, the slaved do not speak to one another. They may be slain if they do. Their coupling is public, of course, in the sense that the master, or usually, masters, and sometimes others, whether in an official capacity or not, are present, to make any pertinent payments or determinations.

The men outside, it now seemed to me, were becoming unruly.

"Don" t be afraid," said Ina.

"What are men like?" I asked Ina.

"They are glorious, and our masters," said Ina.

"That is not what I mean," I protested.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"What will it be like?" I asked. "Will they hurt me?"

"I suppose some of them may hurt you," she said. "And I suppose any of them would hurt you sometimes. But you must expect that. You are only a slave." "I do not mean that," I said. I knew, after all, I was a slave. I knew that I must strive to be pleasing to masters, and perfectly so. I knew that I was subject to discipline. I knew I might be, and would be likely to be, punished for the least infraction in my discipline, the least imperfection in my service and the least failure in my pleasingness. Indeed, I knew that, as a slave, my master did not even need a reason for punishing me. He could punish me for no reason at all, unless perhaps it might simply be that it pleased him to do so then, or, say, it occurred to him to do so then.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Bring out the virgin!" cried a man.

"Get the white-silker out here," called another. "Let us see her!" "I mean will they hurt me!" I moaned.

"You mean when they open you?" she asked.

"Yes!" I said.

"Probably not," she said. "But you may be sore."

"I see," I said.

"Oh," smiled Ina. "You really mean, in general, don" t you? What it" s like?" I put down my head.

"You silly virgin," said Ina. "You really don" t know, do you?" "No," I said.

"Tonight," she said, "will doubtless be hard. Do not worry about tonight. It is the first time. Just try to survive. Tonight it will doubtless be like when a city falls, or one is used for a sex feast."

I looked at her, not even understanding her.

"But wait, slave," she laughed. "Later it will be quite different." I looked at her.

"Later, Doreen," said Ina, smiling, "you will beg and scratch for it." I heard the men shouting outside now. They seemed angry. Then I saw Tupita and Sita coming through the beaded curtain. They carried certain objects.

"Put your wrists out, said Tupita.

The sheet fell a little. Tupita fasted a leather cuff on my right wrist. It was not a lock cuff. It buckled shut. It did have a snap ring on it. Sita fastened a similar cuff on my left wrist. Both of them carried long leather leashes. Tupita, with the snap ring on the leash, fastened the leash on my right cuff, and Sita fastened the other leash on my left cuff. The snap rings on the cuffs themselves, of course, make it possible, if one wishes, for the cuffs to be linked together.

I saw the legs of a man. I looked up, and then, swiftly, the palms of my hands on the floor, the cuffs on my wrists, put my head to the floor before him. Tupita and Sita, similarly, rendered immediate, fearful obeisance. "Stand," said the man, "all of you." We then stood before Hendow, our master. Behind him was Mirus. Mirus had a canvas sack slung over at his belt. Two of Hendow" s girls, Aynur and Tula, were behind Mirus. Each of them carried a deep copper bowl. Aynur" s bowl was empty. Tula" s was filled with oval, narrowly slotted ostraka.

"Hold the sheet more closely about you," said Tupita.

I needed no urging to comply with this request.

Hendow regarded me, possessively. He owned me. Tonight, too, he planned on making money on me.

"You have pretty feet, and ankles, and calves, Doreen," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said.

The sheet I clutched about me so desperately, came a little below my knees. It was of white silk.

My master stood near me. I trembled.

Tupita and Sita, holding the leashes to my cuffs, stood nearby. Ina, too, was there.

My master took the edges of the sheet I held about myself and pulled it a little to the side, and down, revealing my shoulders. He took from his wallet a ribbon. It was about a foot long, and an inch and a half in width. He looped it about my collar, and jerked it down, snug. The ribbon, like the sheet, was of white silk. I heard the men clamoring outside.

"Do not be afraid," he said.

"No, Master," I said.

He nodded to Mirus.

Mirus, followed by Aynur and Tual, made his way through the beaded curtain. In a moment I heard him quieting the crowd, which was becoming unruly.

The musicians, now, five of them, came from down the corridor. They waited within the curtain.

"Sight unseen," called Mirus to the crowd, "who will try the luck of the first ostrakon? Only a tarsk bit each! Who is first? Who is for the first ostrakon? You, sir! Yes! And you the second! The third! Yes. And you! And you!" I listened to him selling the ostraka.

"Some men," said Hendow, "think the first ostraka are luckiest." "You!" called Mirus. "Yes! And you, yes! Yes!"

In a little bit the first flurry of sales had lessened.

"Now," said Hendow, "we come to the more cautious buyers, those who would like to purchase early ostraka, but will appreciate a bit of reassurance. Too, we have now done, presumably, with the fellows who would buy a chance on anything, as long as it is a chance, and, too, those fellows to whom a virginity itself, regardless of whose it is, is of great interest. They would take a chance on the virginity of a tharlarion."

"Yes, Master," I whispered.

"We have not seen this slave," said a man. "Is she any good?"

"Tell us of her," called another man.

"She is described in the handbills," said Mirus.

"Is she any good?" called the first man, again.

"Tell us of her," called the second man, again.

"Her hair and eye coloring, and complexion, and height and weight, are as mentioned in the handbills," said Mirus. "Other pertinent measurements, too, as you may recall, are specified in the same bills."

I blushed, looking down.

"Is she any good?" repeated the first fellow, insistently.

"She has a lovely face and form," said Mirus.

"But is she any good!" laughed the man.

"That you may determine promptly and firsthand, if you win," called Mirus. There was laughter.

"Seriously," said Mirus, "understand that this is only a virgin slave. In that sense, she will not be much good, probably not for a few weeks. Remember it is only her virginity we are raffling off tonight."

"Yes, yes," agreed several fellows.

"True," called the first man.

"But she is beautiful, and unusually desirable," said Mirus. "Surely it would be a triumph to open her."

I clutched the sheet more closely about me.

"She is a treasure," said Mirus, "and, in time, we expect her to become exceptionally good."

"She is an Earth slut," called a man. "It says so on the handbills. They are all frigid."

"But you know as well as I," called Mirus, "that they do not stay that way." "True," laughed the fellow.

There was general laughter.

I clutched the sheet more closely about my neck.

(pg 179) "We know you, Mirus," said a man. "What do you think of her?" "She was purchased by my employer, your host, master of this tavern, Hendow," said Mirus. "I think you know well his taste and expertise in selecting women." This point seemed to have its effect with the crowd.

"What of you, Mirus?" pressed the fellow who had asked the original question. "What do you think of her?"

"I would purchase an ostrakon, myself, or several," said Mirus, "but if I, an employee of the tavern, were to win, you would all, would you not, every one of you, suspect collusion and duplicity?"

"Yes," said a fellow. There was laughter.

So, I thought to myself, it was not my imagination. Mirus did desire me. That, doubtless, was why he had so suddenly turned away from me last night.

"And so," said Mirus, "I can wait."

I shuddered. I had not thought of it much, but it was true. After tonight, I would be only another of Hendow" s girls. I would not only have been «opened» for his customers, but I would be available as well, as a matter of course, to his men. The use of a tavern" s girls is one of the perquisites of employment in such a place. After tonight, I would have to serve Mirus, and the others, as they might want me. I recalled that in the house of my training the «opened» girls had been available to the guards. The kitchen master, too, I knew had had his eye on me. Usually, laboring there, on our knees, bending over the low, steaming tubs, our arms immersed in the suds to our elbows, cleaning pots and pans, he had had Ina and I remove our kitchen tunics. He had used Ina several times. I swallowed hard. Doubtless I would be put back in the kitchen from time to time. He was probably waiting for me.

"I will take an ostrakon!" called a fellow, he, I think, who had asked Mirus his opinion of me.

"And I!" said another. "And I," called several others.

"Yes, astute sirs," said Mirus. "Come, sluts," said he, doubtless to Aynur and Tula, carrying their bowls.

In a bit, then, these sales had been made.

Hendow gestured with his head to the musicians, and they made there way, one by one, through the beaded curtain. There were five of them, a czehar player, two kalika players, a flautist and a drummer. In a moment or two, as Mirus solicited further interest among the customers, I heard the sounds of the instruments, the czehar and kalikas being tuned, the flautist trying passages, the drummer" s fingers light on the taut skin of his instrument, the kaska, then adjusting it, then trying it again, then tapping lightly, then more vigorously, with swift, brief rhythm, limbering his wrists, fingers and hands. The music of Gor, or much of it, is very melodious and sensuous. Much of it seems made for the display of slaves before free men, but then I suppose, that is exactly what it is made for.

Then the musicians were silent.

"Let us see her," called a man.

"Bring her out!" called another.

"Bring her out!" called yet another.

I heard the pounding of goblets on the tables.

"Bring her out!" called another man. "Bring her out!" called another. "Bring her forth!" they cried.

"Are you ready?" asked Hendow.

"Yes, Master," I said.

I felt his massive hand moving the sheet as it closed itself, like a vise, about my upper left arm. I was almost lifted from my feet. It was like being a doll in his grasp. I looked up at him. I was absolutely helpless. My fists still clutched the sheet high about my neck. The leashes on the cuffs went behind me, slack, on each side, and then looped up to the keeping of Tupita and Sita. Tupita on my right, Sita on my left, Hendow drew me beside him through the beaded curtain. Tupita and Sita followed, and, too, small Ina. These, slaves themselves, would present me, a new slave, to the men. But it was in the grip of my master, this perhaps symbolizing his ownership of me, and his authority over me, that I would be brought to the floor.

"Aii!" said a man.

"Aah!" said a man. "Superb!" said another. I heard the intake of breaths. "What did I tell you?" asked Mirus.

I heard sounds of relish and anticipation. I began to tremble. I looked up at my master. He was proud of me! Too, there were conventionized sounds, indicative of interest and approval, the intake of breath through saliva, certain sounds made with the tongue and lips, certain clickings and smackings, and such, of the sort that might cause a free woman to swoon with dismay, but are addressed appropriately enough, and usually to her pleasure, to slaves. Too, I heard whistles and sex calls. Some men, by such noises, summon a girl, running, to their feet. If she is close enough, of course, noises of the preceding sort may also be used for this purpose.

"Please, please sirs," said Mirus, in mock protest. "Desist! This is a virgin! You will embarrass her!"

There was much laughter. This was a splendid joke, I gathered. Who, after all, cares for the feelings of a slave?

"No, woman like that," said a man, "with a collar on her neck, is a virgin!" There was more laughter.

I gathered that that was supposed to be a compliment. I glanced up at Hendow. How pleased he seemed to be to own me. How proud he seemed to be! I was afraid, but I was pleased, too, and grateful, that he was pleased with me. I wanted to be pleasing to him. He was my master.

"But she is a virgin!" laughed Mirus.

"Who cares?" called a man.

There was more laughter.

"Among our guests this evening," said Mirus, gesturing, "is one well known to you all, Tamirus," He indicated a good-natured-looking fellow, sitting to one side in green robes. This fellow lifted his hand, in good humor, to the crowd. "later," said Mirus, "when our lovely chain-daughters in attendance, Tupita, Sita and Ina, whom some of you well know, and intimately, and whom I recommend to you all, as I also do my lovely assistants, Aynur and Tula, have presented to you another chain-daughter, this lovely slut, their sister in bondage, we shall call upon Tamirus for his attestation."

There was a good-humored cheer, acknowledging which Tamirus, grinning, once more lifted his hand. The attestation, I gathered, was little more than a formality, but, I supposed, some of the fellows would want it.

I stood toward the center and about a third forward from the rear of the floor, my arm still in the grip of Hendow, my master.

"I will buy another ostrakon!" called a man. I saw Aynur and Tula glance at one another. Aynur" s bowl was no longer empty. Tula" s now held less.

"We shall reopen the sale of ostraka presently," called Mirus.

The musicians were on my left.

"Hendow," called Mirus, dramatically, "my employer, and dear friend, Hendow, are you not the master of this tavern?"

"I am," grinned Hendow.

There was laughter.

I was afraid my arm would be bruised where Hendow held it. His grip was like iron.

"And you own many women?"

"Yes," said Hendow.

"We see you have a slave in hand."

"Yes," said Hendow.

"Do you own her, as well?" asked Mirus.

"Yes," said Hendow.

"And it is your intention to keep her all for yourself?" said Mirus. "No," said Hendow, grinning.

There was a cheer.

"She is then to have the same status as your other women, and to be available to your customers, and such?" asked Mirus.

"Yes," said Hendow.

There was another cheer.

"She is then to be not a private slave, but a public slave?" inquired Mirus. "Yes!" said Hendow.

This announcement was greeted with another cheer.

"If she is a treasured private slave, noble Hendow," said Mirus, "take her swiftly to your chambers. If she is not, but is as your other women, then, noble friend, we pray you, step back from her, leaving her upon the floor before us." I felt Hendow" s hand release my arm. He stepped back. there was a cheer. I did not know where he was. I supposed he might be somewhere behind me, and to my left. I felt very much alone. To be sure, the other girls were still near me. But we were all slaves, before men.

"Come forward, come forward," said Mirus, coaxingly, beckoning to me. I came forward, in the cuffs and leashes, clutching the sheet, the girls with me. I now stood back about a third from the front edge of the dancing floor. The men could see me very well now. The musicians were now back, and to the left. "I will buy an ostrakon!" called a man.

"And I!" called another.

"And I!" said another.

I watched Mirus take tarsk bits from these men. He dropped the coins into the sack at his belt. From the distention and apparent weight of the sack I gathered he had already taken in several tarsk bits. I supposed that I should feel flattered. I clutched the sheet up higher about my neck. I wondered where Hendow was, somewhere behind me, I thought. When a fellow had paid his tarsk bit Miris would reach into the copper bowl carried by Tula and draw forth from it one of the small, glazed three inches long and an inch wide, thin, flat, brittle, glazed, baked-clay ostraka. They were oval and, along the long axis, slotted. The ostraka are lovely and fragile. A number, the same number, was written at the bottom and top of each item. I winced as Mirus snapped one of the ostraka in two, giving half to the purchaser and throwing the other half into Aynur" s bowl. "Good luck!" he said.

"What is her name?" called a man.

"Doreen," said Miris. "At least that is the name by which she is known to Borko."

I shuddered, and the men laughed, seeing my fear. I did not think the nature of Hendow" s Borko, that massive hunting sleen, was unknown to them.

I heard the snappings of ostraka.

"Bring her over here, so we can see her better, " said a man.

"And over here," said another, on the other side.

"Come, frightened urt," said Tupita. She guided me to the right, where I must stand at the edge of the floor, there, and then further to the right, and back. I then saw Hendow, my master. He was standing back, near the wall at the back of the tavern, near the threshold with the beaded curtain, that through which I had entered.

I was then moved further to the right, in a circular pattern, and I then stood at the back, right corner of the dancing floor, as one would see it from the front. I was then a moment later, conducted again to my right, and I now stood in the vicinity of what would be the front, right corner of the floor, as one would see it from the front. I was near the edge. Tupita apparently wanted me to be close to the men, that my proximity, I suppose, might stimulate them. I heard the snappings of more ostraka.

"Oh!" I cried. I was frightened. I could not pull away. "Stand as you are," said Tupita. "Yes, Mistress," I said. A man, sitting near the edge of the floor, had put out his hand and held my left ankle. he then, with his thumb, rubbed slowly below and behind the anklebone, and then, with his fingers, up, just below the calf. I shuddered at his touc. I went up an inch or two on the toes of my foot. "Look at that," called a man.

"That is no virgin," said another.

"She is a virgin," averred Mirus, snapping another ostrakon, not even looking about. "You will shortly have the attestation," he said.

"I will take another ostrakon," said the fellow who had touched me. "I, too," said another.

My ankles released, Tupita, aided by Sita, again put me toward the center of the floor, near the front, much where I had stood before.

I was trembling. I could not help how I had moved under his touch.

The men looked at me. I heard laughter. I blushed.

There was more laughter.

"In time, however," said Mirus, continuing his transactions, "we expect her to feel at least some minimal slave heat."

There was laughter.

I must have turned red, all of me that was not covered by the sheet, my face and neck, and my calves, ankles and feet. There was then more laughter. Suddenly I wished I was one of those women like leather who hated men but then in a moment I did not really want to be like that either. I was too soft, too lovely, and too feminine for that. I was not that sort of woman. I was a different sort. I was afraid then, very afraid. I sensed vaguely, in my virgin" s belly, the thought terrifying me, what men, such men, might do to me. These intimations, however, did not serve to prepare me even for what, as a matter of course, in even a few weeks, I could be forced to feel, or for what it would be to be made the helpless victim of "slave needs."

"Five!" called a man. "Five!"

"Two here!" said another.

I looked about, from face to face, and then I looked away, not daring to meet such eyes, those of masters.

How faraway seemed the library.

Incredibly, here, on this world. I was owned.

"She is lovely," said a man.

"Yes," said another.

There were sexual noises, and calls. I could not object to these. I was a slave. How powerful seemed these men. I think any of them could have broken me in pieces, like the lovely ostraka. And how fierce they seemed. How they would make a woman obey them! And how they looked upon me, with such eagerness and interest, seeing me as what I was, a slave!

I clenched my fists on the sheet. Beneath it, save for a steel collar and some beads, I was naked.

"Let us have the drawing," urged a fellow.

I felt inordinately helpless, so small and weak, and desired, among such men. I heard the snappings of the ostraka.

How absurd then, and artificial, and unreal, suddenly, seemed Earth, with all its preposterous political myths, its subversion of nature, its insidious conditioning programs, its pretendings to deny the simple, obvious truths of aristocracy, its contrived trammelings of right and power, its desperate attempts to destroy the natural relationships between men and women, to level and mediocratize the diversity and glory of nature, its corrupt machineries of falsification and repression. Men can do with us as they wish, I thought, and Gorean men, at least if the woman is a slave, will. I was not on Earth. I was on a different world. I stood now on a dancing floor in a tavern, in a complex, beautiful civilization, one quite different from my own, one in which strong, proud men had refused to relinquish their natural sovereignty. I did not stand before them as a primitive. I did stand before them, however, in a collar, and in the order of nature.

I felt tension in the leashes attached to the rings of the cuffs I wore. Tupita and Sita, on my right and left, respectively, stood near to me. They had muchly coiled the leashes and their two hands, each on their own leash, and turned in the leash, and gripping it tightly, were about a foot from the rings on the cuffs. I sensed Ina behind me. She took hold of the sheet, at the shoulders, from behind, that it might be lifted gracefully from me.

Earlier Hendow had brought me to the floor, helpless, like a doll, in his grip. He had then, in response to the ritualistic petition of Mirus, removed his hand from my arm, stepped back from me and left me there. The symbolic meaning of this was clear. He was not reserving me for himself. I was also for his customers. I was a new girl in his tavern. I was a public slave.

I felt tension through the cuffs, I heard the tiny noises of the joined rings, those on the cuffs and leashes. I felt the pulling of the leash rings against the rings on the cuffs. My wrists were slowly being drawn to the sides. The men leaned forward. I could not keep my hands on the sheet without opening the sheet myself. Tears in my eyes I released the sheet. Ina then, gracefully, drew the sheet away and, carrying it, withdrew from the floor.

I stood there, my wrists at my shoulders. I could not draw my hands together to cover myself. The cuffs I wore, buckled tightly on me, and the taut leashes attached to them, in the keeping of Tupita and Sita, saw to it. I stood there, then, in collar and beads, displayed, a tavern slave, a paga slave, a public slave, naked on a Gorean dancing floor.

The hands of men smote repeatedly on their left shoulders.

"Yes!" cried several. "Yes! Yes!" "Marvelous!" breathed some. "Superb!" cried others, pounding with their goblets on the tables. I gathered that Teibar, who had picked me for the collar, had known his business.

There was then slackness in the leashes. My arms went to my sides.

There was a white ribbon looped on my collar, and drawn down about it, snugly. "You are naked before me," whispered Tupita. "Obeisance!"

I quickly knelt before the men and put my head to the floor, the palms of my hands, too, on the floor. I heard several of the beads touch the wood.

I was then jerked to my feet by the leashes, and drawn about the floor, being shown to the men on all sides.

Men swarmed about Mirus, who was hard put to satisfy their demands for ostraka. I was then knelt near the center of the floor, and a little toward its front. I knelt as I had been taught, and as the sort of slave I was, the sort of slave I had first learned I was in Market of Semris, a pleasure slave. My hands, my wrists buckled in the leather cuffs, were on my thighs. Tupita and Sita stood near me, and a little behind me. The leashes were slack.

"Alas, generous sirs!" cried Mirus. "The ostraka grow few in number!" I saw men rise hurriedly to move toward him.

"I shall take ten," said a man.

"No!" cried another.

"Let us have the attestation!" cried Mirus, forcing the two fellows apart. Tamirus approached me. He wore green robes. I did not know at that time but this indicated he was of the caste of physicians. That is a high caste. If I had known he was of high caste I might have been a great deal more frightened than I was. Most Gorean take caste very seriously. It is apparently one of the socially stabilizing forces on Gor. It tends to reduce the dislocations, disappointments and tragedies inherent in more mobile structures, in which men are taught that they are failures if they do not manage to make large amounts of money or excel in one of a small number of prestigious professions. The system also helps to help men of energy and high intelligence in a wide variety of occupations, this preventing the drain of such men into a small number of often artificially desiderated occupations, this tending then to leave lesser men, or frustrated men, to practice other hundreds of arts the survival and maintenance of which are important to a superior civilization. Provisions for changing caste exist on Gor, but they are seldom utilized. Most Goreans are proud of their castes and the skills appropriate to them. Such skills, too, tend to be appreciated by other Goreans, and are not looked down on. My virginity had been checked at various times. Teibar had done it on Earth, in the library; it had been done in the house of my training, shortly after I had arrived there; it had been done outside Brundisium, by the wholesaler there, and in Market of Semris twice, once when I had arrived there, by the men of Teibar of Market of Semris, and once before I had left, by Hendow" s man. It had also been checked when I had arrived here, and again, this afternoon, before I had been bedecked in these beads I wore, slave beads.

"How are you, my dear?" asked Tamirus.

"Very good, Master," I said. "Thank you, Master."

"On you back, idiot," said Tupita.

I looked at her, angrily.

By the leashes, pulling up and twisting, to my surprise, handling me quite easily, with surprising expertness, she and Sita pulled me up, half on my feet, and then brought me back, gasping, off balance, and lowered me to my back. I had not realized their skill, nor how easily I could be controlled by the two leashes. There are many tricks, of course, with leashes, in the management of slaves. Tupita held down my right wrist, and Sita my left wrist. "Throw your legs apart or we will do this differently," said Tupita. I obeyed, on my back, on the dancing floor. There are various attitudes in which the virginity of a girl may be checked. The least embarrassing to her is probably this one. Tamirus was careful with me, and gentle. He checked twice, delicately.

"Thank you, Master," I said to him, gratefully.

He stood up. "It is certified by the house of Hendow," he said, "The slave is a virgin."

"Not for long!" called a fellow.

"Thank you for your public confirmation in this matter," called Mirus. Tamirus lifted his hand good-humoredly, graciously, to Mirus, and then, too, to the others in the tavern, and returned to his table. There, waiting for him, was a goblet of paga, doubtless a gratuity for the loan of his expertise. Too, he would doubtless have his choice of Hendow" s women this night, with the probably exception of myself, for we went with the paga. Indeed, I thought he might easily already have made his choice. Near his table, but back a bit from it, discretely, at slave" s distance, knelt luscious Inger, blond and voluptuous, from the north, from Skjern, who had come to Brundisium in the heavy shackles of Torvaldslanders. It was she who had brought his paga. It would doubtless be she who would serve him this night, with the fullness of the Gorean slave. With pen dipped into an inkhorn at his belt Tamirus was signing a paper. He replaced the pen in the inkhorn, which closed the horn, shook the paper a bit and held it up. a fellow near him handed it obligingly to Mirus. I saw Inge inch a little closer to Tamirus, on her knees. Doubtless she had served him before. Perhaps she wished him to purchase her.

"Here is the signed attestation," said Mirus, handing it to one of the fellows near the floor. They began to pass it about.

"Only seven ostraka are left," called Mirus. "Who would like them? Only one, regretfully, I fear, may be now allowed to a customer."

I watched the attestation being handed about the tables.

Men crowded about Mirus.

I no longer had the sheet of white silk about me. It had been taken from me. "Alas," then cried Mirus. "The ostraka are gone!"

There were cries of anger.

"Do not be dismayed, noble patrons of the tavern of Hendow," he called, "for the number of ostraka was determined in advance. If too many were sold, the chances of any particular one winning would be too few. Surely those of you who have already purchased one or more ostraka can appreciate the weight of this consideration."

Several men seemed to offer assent to this.

"And do not forget, noble patrons," he continued, "that although only one may be the first to open this lovely slave, she is now one of Hendow" s women. Accordingly you may all return, time and time again, over the next weeks, and months, to sip her pleasures at your leisure."

"True," said a man.

"And I think I can guarantee," said Mirus, "by all the whips in the house of Hendow, that she will do her best to please you."

There was laughter.

I shuddered. Of course I would do my best to please them. I would have no choice. I was a slave. Too, these were not the men of Earth, so tolerant, so understanding, so considerate, so forgiving, so easily put off, so weak. These were Gorean men. If I was not perfect for them, and whenever, and however, they wished, they would make me pay, and well. On Gor there are many sayings about masters and slaves. One is in the form of a question and an answer. The question is, "What does a slave owe a Master?" The answer is, "Everything, and then a thousand times more."

"Some of you have apparently found this slave of some interest," said Mirus, "for although she has not yet even danced, already are the ostraka gone." "True," said a fellow.

Many girls, I had gathered, do not dance before their virginity, in such contests, is disposed of. Not all girls are skillful dancers, particularly at first, before they have had slave sexual experience. I was to be danced, however, I had gathered, not only because I could, at least to some extent, dance, but also as a form of advertising. Hendow taking this occasion to introduce me to his patrons. He had hopes for me, I had gathered, as a dancer. He hoped, I think, through me, to bring new and additional business to his tavern. I hoped he would not be disappointed in me, as I did not want to be punished.

"May I have the attestation paper?" asked Mirus. He retrieved it from a fellow over to the right. "Thank you," he said. He then waved the paper over his head. "Here is the signed attestation of the noble Tamirus," he said. "She is a virgin!" he then rolled the paper and pointed to me with it. I looked at him. "Behold her," he said, "kneeling there before you, a beautiful slave awaiting her first use master."

I put my head down, trembling. I knelt there, my knees wide, awaiting my first use master.

"Dispense more ostraka!" called a man.

"No!" cried others.

"Which of you hold the winning ostrakon?" inquired Mirus.

"Is it you, sir? You? Or, you?"

"I hope it is me," called a fellow.

There was laughter.

"Doreen," said Mirus.

"Yes, Master," I said, looking up, startled. I had not expected him to speak to me.

"Who will win, Doreen?" he asked.

"I do not know, Master," I said, weakly.

"Speak up, Slave," said he.

"I do not know, Master," I cried, in misery.

"Nor will you," he said.

I looked at him, in consternation.

There was laughter. I did not understand this.

"Do you beg now to dance before your first use master?" asked Mirus. "Yes, Master," I said.

"And before the guests of Hendow?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"And before all present?" he inquired.

"Yes, Master!" I said.

"Adorn her," said Mirus.

"Ina," called Tupita. "Sit," she said then to me, "with your hands on the floor beside you, leaning forward, your right leg advanced."

Ina came forward from the back, through the beaded curtain, with a flat, shallow box. Tupita and Sita removed the leather cuffs from my wrists.

There are some three senses of the expression "virgin dance" on Gor. There is a sense in which it is a kind of dance, rather than a particular dance, which is deemed appropriate for virgins. In that sense I was not expected to perform a "virgin dance." One would seldom see such dances in taverns. The second sense is the obvious one in which it is a dance danced by a virgin, and usually just prior to the loss of her virginity. In that sense it could be almost any dance which serves the purpose of displaying the girl before her initial ravishing. The third sense of the term is that of a specific dance, or type of dance, most often, interestingly, not even danced by a virgin, but usually by an experienced slave. It is not exactly a story dance, but more of a "role dance," a dance in which the slave dances as though she might be a virgin, but knows she is to be ravished, and that she is expected to be pleasing. The dance I was expected to perform was, I suppose, a "virgin dance" in both the second and third senses of the term. Mirus, paradoxically, speaking obviously in the third sense of the term, had told me that I would do better at this sort of dance when I was no longer a virgin.

I felt metal anklets being thrust on my ankles by Tupita and Sita. They put several on each ankle. they then, similarly, placed narrow bracelets on both my wrists, several on each wrists. A long belt of cord, to which were attached numerous metal disks, suspended and shimmering, was then looped twice about me, the first loop secured high, and tight, at my waist, and the second loop, a larger loop, a framing loop, was secured in such a way, in the back, that it would hang quite low on my belly, well below my navel. The purpose of this belt was to call attention to, and enhance, by sound and sight, the movements of the hips and abdomen. With the slave beads I already wore I felt inutterably displayed, and barbaric. I could not move now without the sounds of the beads, the anklets and bracelets, the shimmering belt with its two loops.

"Stand," said Tupita.

I did.

The men gasped with pleasure. I was frightened.

"Prepare to dance, slave," said Tupita.

"Good," said a man.

I stood before them with my hands lifted over my head, the backs of my hands facing one another, my knees flexed. It is a common beginning position in slave dance.

The musicians readied themselves.

I looked out on the men. These were not men of Earth, defeated and tamed by propaganda and lies. These were Gorean men, men like lions. I stood before them, weak and helpless, a woman from Earth, now a collared slave, who must dance for their pleasure.

The czehar player, sitting cross-legged, now had his instrument across his lap. He was the leader of the musicians. He had his horn pick in hand.

I stood barefoot, naked, save for collar and adornments, on the dancing floor of a low-ceilinged Gorean tavern. I must prepare to please masters. I wondered what the men who had worked at the library would think if they could see me now, their so-much-taken-for-granted Doreen, her beauty now at the disposal of masters, men who could break them in pieces. I wondered if they would lament my plight, deploring it with typical, whining, hypocritical cant, or if they, too, would sit there, at those low tables, their blood racing, their eyes alight, becoming men.

Aynur and Tula were now behind me, kneeling at the back of the floor, with their bowls. Tula" s was empty. Aynur held the house" s halves of the divided ostraka. One of them would prove to be the lucky ostrakan." Ina, the flat, shallow box of adornments beside her, was back with them. So, too, with the cuffs and leashes, were Tupita and Sita. Mirus, too, had now withdrawn to the back.

If I did not dance well I did not doubt but what I would be whipped.

I looked out on the men.

One of them would be my first use master. In a special sense my "virgin dance" must be dedicated to him. But, in general, I must dance, too, before the guests of Hendow" s tavern, and, too, before all who were present. This included Mirus, who, I think, had often wanted me. Too, I could see others of Hendow" s men about, come to see the dance, and now, too, to one side, the kitchen master. After tonight, at the tubs, I would doubtless be no safer from him than Ina. Perhaps if I danced poorly? But I did not want to be whipped!

Then I knew I did not want to dance poorly. Out there there were men, real men, many of whom excited and stirred me, even in my virgin" s belly. I could scarcely imagine what it might be to be helpless in their arms, and at their power, as a slave. I was desperately eager to please such men. I wanted to be marvelously exciting and beautiful before them. I wanted them to desire me. I wanted them to want me! Too, I knew many of the girls despised me as a woman of Earth. I wanted to show them, too, women such as Tupita and Sita, what a woman of Earth could do to their Gorean masters, how, she, too, could excite them, and twist them with torments of desire, and make them gasp and scream with pleasure! Too, in my anger at having been abandoned by Teibar, who had been my capture master on Earth, I wanted to dance well. He had let me go! But I had sold for two and a half silver tarsks, on my first sale! I had been purchased by Hendow, of Brundisium, who, I had gathered, was noted in this city for having an excellent eye for the selection of slave meat! Certainly the girls in his tavern, Inger, and Tupita, and Ina, and the others, were superb! Perhaps, I, too, then, was attractive! I saw the men, even now, looking at me! I could sense the heat and desire in them. They would not compromise with a woman like me. They would want her too much. They would throw her to their feet. They would dominate and master me, mercilessly! I was a female. In the arms of no other sort of man could I be fulfilled. Too, let Teibar cry out with anguish if he could find out how desired I would be, and what an excellent slut, what superb slave meat. I, his despised "modern woman," proved to be! I would become a high slave! I would cost a great deal of money! He would not even be able to afford me! Let him scream with the wanting of me, but it would be at the feet of others, in their collars, that I would kneel!

"Are you ready?" asked the leader of the musicians, the czehar player. "Yes, Master!" I said, eagerly.

"Aii!" cried a fellow, pleased, as I began to dance.

The music was rich about me.

"I told you that was no virgin," said a man.

"Who cares?" asked another.

In the dance I had power. In the dance I was beautiful. I saw delight in the eyes of men. I heard gasps of admiration. To be sure I was of a body type, that of the natural woman, short-legged and well-curved, that tends to be attractive to Gorean men, and I think my face, which some had told me was delicate and sensitive, and lovely and intelligent, which so easily betrayed my emotions, may have been pleasing to them, but I think there was more to it than these things. Had it been merely a matter of face and figure I do not think the effect would have been the same. Many things were doubtless involved. One, of course, was that it was a slave who danced. The dancing of a slave is a thousand times more sensuous than that of a free woman because of the incredible meanings involved, the additional richness which this furnishes, the explosive significance of this comprehension, that she who dances is owned, and, theoretically, could be owned by you. Too, she is naked, or scantily clad, and is bedecked in a barbaric manner. This speaks of reality and savagery, of ferocity, and beauty, of dominator to dominated, of master to slave. The dancing of the female before the male, that she be found pleasing and he be pleased, is one of the most profound lessons in all of human biology. Others are when she kneels before him, when she kisses his feet, when she performs obeisance, when she know herself subject, truly, to his whip. Another is when she is seized in his arms, imperiously, and crushed to him. too, I think in this dance I was also as successful as I was because of the sort of woman I was, one who possessed deep female needs, and profound passions. I was ready, even at that time, as I now realize, to have the relentless torches of men set to the tinder in my belly, that slave fires might be lit there, thence by service, submission and love, my condition as slave, and the commands and touches of men, to be fanned, whether I willed it or not, to my dismay and joy, into open conflagrations. But I think, too, more simply, that there are skills involved, and that I was an excellent dancer, even at that time.

I danced, as the slave I was."Here, slut, here!" called more than one man. I teased them, dancing close to them, swaying, my belly alive for them, with the jangling metal pieces, the anklets clashing on my ankles, the bracelets sliding and ringing on my wrists, and then, as they attempted to seize me, drew back, backing away, or whirled, with a swirl of beads, away from them. I picked one man after another out of the audience, seeming to dance my beauty most meaningfully to him. Perhaps he would be my use master. I did not know. Several began to keep the time with their hands, clapping them together. "She is not a virgin," said a man.

"No," said another.

I came about then to the back of the dancing floor. Tupita, and the others were there. "You are good," said Tupita to me, grudgingly.

"I am superb," I said to her, angrily. Then I added, hastily, "Mistress!" I looked to the back of the tavern, where, near the beaded curtain, stood Hendow, my Master, his arms folded. I swayed before him. I wanted to convince him that he had not made a mistake in purchasing me. I saw in his eyes that I had much to learn. I moved a little to my left, dancing before Mirus, who crouched there at the back of the floor, the sack of tarsk bits heavy at his belt.

"Do not change anything," he said to me, "but I would have thought you would dance rather more like a virgin."

I whirled away from him, to my right. Yes, I thought to myself, what are you doing, Doreen? What has gotten into you? Why are you doing this? Why is your belly so alive? Why are you so excited? Why is your body so hot? Why is it moving like this? You are dancing more like a purchasable slut, a common girl from a market, a girl who has been well taught by men and the whip the meaning of her collar, one who has already learned to whimper behind the bars of her kennel and scratch at its walls, than a virgin, fearing, but curious about, her first taking.

"Look," said a man.

"Superb!" said another.

I did not think Mirus would mind if I changed my performance in this fashion, particularly, as I would, later, return to the taunting, sensate splendors of the aroused woman, and then, at the end, to the helpless pleading of the begging female, she who knows herself, ultimately, at the mercy of masters.

Actresses need only be actresses. They need not be dancers. But she who is a dancer must be more than a dancer. She must be an actress, as well.

"Ah, yes," said a man.

Suddenly in my dance it seemed I was a virgin, reluctant and fearful, terrified in the reality on which she found herself, but knowing she must respond to the music, to those heady, sensuous rhythms, to the wild cries of the flute, to the beating of the drum. I then danced timidly, and reluctance and inhibition, but yet reflecting, as one would, in such a situation, the commands of the music. I examined in dismay the beads about my neck, the cords at my waist, my barbarically adorned ankles and wrists. I touched my thighs, and lifted my arms, looking at them, and put my hands upon my body, as though I could not believe that it was unclothed. I pretended to shrink down within myself, to desire to crouch down, and conceal and cover my nudity, but then I straightened up, fearfully, as though I had heard commands to desist in such absurdities, and then I extended my hands to the sides, to various sides, as though pleading for mercy, to be released from the imperatives of the music, but then reacted, drawing back, as though I had seen the sight of whips or weapons. The kaska player, alert to this, reduced the volume of his drumming, and the, five times, smote hard upon the taut skin, almost like the crackling of a whip, to which I reacted, turning to one side and another, as though such a disciplinary device had been sounded menacingly, on all sides, in my vicinity, and then I continued to dance, helpless before the will of masters. Then, as the dance continued, I signified my expression and movement my curiosity and fascination with what I was being forced to do, and the responses of my body, reconciled now to its reality, helplessly obedient now to the music.

I am a basically shy person. But now I was dancing such things as shyness, and timidity, and fear, and curiosity, and fascination, as roles. Like many shy persons I can find myself in roles, and blossom forth in them.

I suddenly by expression and movement, an almost involuntary contortion of my belly, seemingly startling me, and frightening me, appeared to suddenly sense, or glimpse, my sexuality.

"Ah," said a man, appreciatively.

I approached him in the dance, and then others, my belly seeming to register, with its jangling accouterments, their presence. Each time I would draw back from them, but my belly, my hips, would seem to propel me again toward them, or toward yet another. I then felt my hips, and thighs, and breasts, and belly, as these seemed to come alive in the music. And then, throwing my head back, I danced unabashedly as an acknowledged, aroused slave, much as I had before, taunting them, teasing them, delighting in my power, but then, suddenly, as though I sensed my ultimate helplessness, my ultimate inability to achieve total fulfillment without the wholeness of sexuality, without the master and the yielding, which gave meaning to the incipient passions within me. I danced the aroused slave who is the property of the master and begs his touch. "Good," said a fellow.

"The slut is excellent," said another.

Then I realized suddenly that I was actually aroused. The interior of my thighs were hot. My belly, hot and burning, seemed to beg to be touched. I do not know, really, whether I had done this to myself in the dance, which is possible, or if my arousal had merely came upon me in the course of the dance, but I was aroused. I was a helpless, aroused slave! This now was no role. It was what I was.

I returned to the back of the dancing floor, piteously, that I might sway before my master, he in the back, by the beaded curtain, gross, loathsome Hendow. He, I felt, of all those in the tavern, would understand what was now within me. I felt I could keep no secrets from him. it seemed he had a way of looking through me, and seeing whatever was within me, no matter how I might try to hide it. But I did not want to hide this from him. Rather I wanted his understanding. I wanted him to offer me comfort, or perhaps even rescue me from the floor. In my fears it was natural that I should seek him out, gross and loathsome though he might be. He was the one who owned me. He was my master.

Hendow nodded to me, almost imperceptibly. Then, pointing to me, and lifting his finger twice, he indicated I should turn away, and return to my dance, in the center of the floor, facing the crowd.

I knew the music was approaching its climax, and the dance must be concluded. I then, in the coda of my performance, danced helplessness and beauty, and submission, surrendering myself as I, in my collar, must, into the hands and mercies of masters.

As the music concluded I performed floor movements, and the eyes of the men blazed, and fists pounded on the tables, and then the music was done and I lay before them on my back, my breasts rising and fallling as I fought for breath, my body sheened with sweat, my hands beside me, palms up, my knees lifted slightly, my right knee highest, a slave before masters. I heard the roars of triumph, shouts of pleasure. I was frightened. The men were on their feet. There was a thunder of applause, the striking of the shoulders in the Gorean fashion, and, too, the crashing of goblets on the tables. I crept to my knees in the bedlam. I became aware of Hendow standing near me now, and Mirus was to one side. "Back," called Hendow. "Back!" I felt small among the legs of the men. Mirus and Hendow, gently, were forcing men back, away from the floor. Then I was kneeling there, small, between them.

Mirus looked down upon me. Swiftly I pressed my lips fervently, placatingly, to his sandals. "Look up," said he. I looked up, frightened. Would I be punished for altering the dance?

"I did not think you could do better," he said. "I was wrong."

I regarded him, frightened. Would he then be angry? Would I be cuffed, or kicked?

"You did well," he said. "I am pleased."

I almost fainted with relief, and, gratefully, pressed my lips to his sandals. But then a girl is seldom punished for improving her service. Indeed, as I would later learn, girls are encouraged to be rich and creative in such matters. I looked up from my knees at my master. "Is your belly still hot?" he asked. I looked down, blushing. He had known, of course. "Not now, Master," I said. "Well," he said, "you had better start heating it up again."

I turned crimson, my head down, kneeling there, scarcely able to believe what I had heard. To be sure, he was the proprietor of the tavern, and I was his. I felt my head pulled up by the hair, a double handful of it grasped in Hendow" s fist. I was almost pulled up, from my knees. "Did you like her?" he called to the crowd. Most of the men were still standing. There were no women in that crowd other than slaves. Women are on the whole not permitted in paga taverns, unless, of course, they wear collars.

"Yes! Yes!" cried several of the men.

"She will be a dancer in my tavern," said Hendow.

This intelligence was greeted with raucous enthusiasm, shouts, and the pounding of shoulders.

I shuddered.

"Come, see her often!" invited Hendow.

"Have no fear," called a fellow. There was laughter.

"But she is only one of several lovely dancers," said Hendow, "any one of whom is her superior or equal!"

I doubted that that was true.

"All of whom have been chosen to please your senses!"

I would grant the beast, my master, that.

"Come often to the tavern of Hendow," said Hendow, "for the finest paga in Brundisium, and the most beautiful paga slaves, wenches chosen for their luscious beauty and steaming bellies!"

I trembled. Not all paga slaves are tavern dancers, but all tavern dancers are paga slaves.

There was another round of cheering.

"The drawing!" called a man. "Let us have the drawing!"

Hendow nodded to Mirus, and Mirus summoned Aynur to the center of the floor, and near the front, with her copper bowl, laden with the halves of broken ostraka. "Return to your seats!" called Hendow.

As the men sought their places, Tupita, Sita and Ina came forward. Ina brought with her not only the flat, shallow box but a large towel as well. "Sit as you were before," ordered Tupita. I did so, leaning forward, my hands on the floor, my knees up, my right leg advanced. Sita removed the belt from me, with its double loop. Tupita began to take the anklets and bracelets from me, putting them in the box. "Treasure your silly virginity," said Tupita, "for you will not have it long." "Red-silk slut!" I said to her, angrily, adding, "Mistress." "By tomorrow," said Tupita, " you, too, will be only a red-silk slut." "You were beautiful tonight," said Ina.

"Thank you," I said, "Mistress."

With a jangle and shimmering of metal pieces the cord belt, in its length, was dropped by Sita into the box.

Aynur shook the bowl of ostraka. She stirred the contents with her two hands. Delving deeply into the bowl she lifted up handfuls of ostraka again and again, each time letting them fall like showers back into the bowl.

Mirus and Hendow observed her doing this.

The last bracelet was deposited in the box. Sita was lifting the strands of slave beads from my neck, placing them, too, in the box.

"That is enough," said Hendow.

"Yes, Master," said Aynur, desisting mixing ostraka.

I trembled, for the moment of the drawing drew near. Sita lifted the last strand of slave beads from about my neck and put it in the box. Ina, then, began to dry my body, from the sweat of the dance.

I felt very naked then, without even the beads to cover me. "Will I not be given the white sheet again," I asked Ina.

"No," she said, "the time of the white sheet for you is over."

"Let me keep a strand of beads," I begged.

"No," said Ina. "Your use master, in handling you, might break them." "Oh," I said, frightened.

"Too," she said, "we would not want anything to stand between you and your use master when he presses you in his arms."

"No," I whispered, frightened.

"Now you are as nude as any slut," said Tupita, jerking down on the ribbon on my collar, ascertaining that its fixture there was suitably snug.

I saw Mirus, near the front of the floor, draw a red ribbon from his wallet. It was identical in size and shape to the white ribbon I wore on my collar. My use master, I gathered, when he was finished with me, would change the ribbons. This would be significatory of the alteration of my status, informing anyone who might look upon it that I had not been "opened." He also had in one hand the attestation paper. There was a place at the bottom of the paper where a streak of blood, mine, might be smeared.

"Who shall choose the lucky ostrakon?" called Hendow.

"The slave!" cried a man.

"The slave!" "The slave!" cried others.

"Very well!" said Hendow.

I moaned.

Hendow approached me.

"Please, Master," I begged him.

But I saw him draw forth from his belt a half hood. This covers the head to the upper lip.

It was put over my head and drawn back, tightly, and buckled shut. I then heard a lock snapped through rings. It was locked on me, in place. I could not see under the device, at all. In this respect it differed from imperfect blindfolds and resembled the full slave hood. Similarly, although it is usually regarded as inferior to the full slave hood in its security, it tends to be more secure than many blindfolds, particularly makeshift ones, seized up from materials at hand. For example, unlike many blindfolds, it, and in this respect it is similar to the full slave hood, is not likely to become dislodged or loose, even if the girl is handled with great roughness. It does, however, of course, possess certain of the rich and attractive advantages of the blindfold, such as allowing its fair captive to speak, to use her tongue, to lick, to kiss, and so on. "Please, Master," I begged. "Do not make me choose!"

"Do you question me?" he inquired.

"No, Master!" I said, I moaned. I must choose my own rapist.

I felt myself drawn to my feet, and, by the upper left arm, pulled forward, half dragged, to the copper bowl. There I was knelt, and my hands were placed on the ostraka.

"Mix them further, slut," said Hendow.

Obediently, doubtless as the men watched intently, I stirred them about. I felt them in my hands. They had numbers on them, I knew.

"Dig about," said Hendow. "Sift through them. Pick some up, then let them fall through your fingers."

I obeyed.

"Now," said he, "choose one."

I lifted my head in half hood to him, piteously, my lip trembling.

I heard nothing, no reprieve, no rescue. This was not such a world. Here I was a slave, ineradicably, and truly.

I held my head level, although I could see nothing. I thrust my hand into the ostraka, and closed my fingers on one. I lifted it before me. I felt someone, doubtless Hendow, pull it from my hand.

"One hundred and seventy-seven!" he called.

There were cries of good-natured protest, sounds of disappointment. "No!" cried more than one man.

"One hundred and seventy-seven," he repeated.

"There!" called Mirus. "There!"

Someone must have been getting up.

"Hold up the ostrakon!" called Mirus. "Let us all see it!"

"He has it, all right!" called a man, from somewhere out there in the front. There were groans of mock anguish in the house, and laughter, and applause. "Come forward, Sir," invited Mirus. "Claim your prize."

"Take her well, for me!" called a fellow several yards away.

"Make her jump, for me!" laughed another, closer.

I sensed someone coming forward, others perhaps about him, slapping him about the shoulders and back.

There was applause.

"Here, Sir," said Mirus, at my side, "is your prize."

In the hood I could see nothing. I was frightened.

I then gasped, surprised. I felt myself being lifted to the shoulder of a man. He was very strong.

"Use the Ubar" s alcove," said Mirus. "I will bring the attestation and ribbon." I was helpless on his shoulder.

"Lucky sleen!" called a man.

The Ubar" s alcove, I knew, was well fitted with a variety of chains and whips. I felt myself being carried toward it.

"Make her squeak and yell!" called a man.

I was being carried as a slave is often carried, my head to the rear.

"There is only one who is first," called Hendow, "but we will draw forth fourteen more ostraka!"

There was a cheer.

I did not understand this. I was helpless on the man" s shoulder.

"Then there will be a free round of paga for all!" he said.

This generosity was greeted with another cheer.

I felt the man step up, over the high threshold of the alcove. He, then put me down on soft furs, on my back, within the alcove.

"Here is the paper, and the ribbon," said Mirus.

I heard the movement of paper. Then Mirus, I gathered, withdrew. I heard a paper being put to one side. I then heard the leather curtains of the alcove being drawn closed, and buckled shut. Within the alcove I supposed there would be some light, probably from the small, tharlarion-oil lamp on its bracketed shelf, on the wall to the left, as one enters. I heard his garment being cast aside. I supposed the lamp would be lit, that there would be light for him. Men usually like to have some light in such a place, that in its soft glow they may see how beautiful are the slaves. Such alcoves, incidentally, are quite comfortable. They are not close, or stuffy. In them there is a subtle but efficient circulation of air. Air, for example, can enter at the threshold, in the vicinity of the curtain, rise, and exit through various inconspicuous vent holes, generally high in the walls. I wondered, if there were light, if I looked pleasing to him, lying on the furs. I gasped, as he knelt across my body. I had never had a man do this before. I could not move. I felt my hands pulled up and snapped into manacles, apart, at the sides of my head. His knees were on either side of my body. I pulled a little at the manacles and chains. I was chained! I felt terrified, and trapped, as indeed I was. I had been chained before, many times, of course, in my training. But this was not training! Then to my surprise he drew back from me, crouching then, or kneeling, I think, beside me. He was on my right. I shuddered. I had felt his body. I turned to my left side, away from him, as I could, and drew my knees up, as closely as I could, to my belly. I whimpered, as I understood that this, too, exposed me as a slave to him, but I did not know what to do! It seemed, suddenly, that all my training had fled from me, that it had gone from me, that I could remember nothing. I felt his hands take my ankles, one in each hand, and, by means of them, not gently, he turned me again to my back, and then flung apart my legs. I lay there then, in this attitude before him, helpless in the chains, and the darkness of the hood. He had not spoken to me, not I to him. I did not realize this at the time but he would not do so either, nor would the others, unsuspected by me at this time, who would him this night. By custom my initial ravishings as a paga slave in Brundisium would be performed in anonymity. This custom is dictated by considerations similar to those involved in the hooding of mating slaves, considerations having to do with the preclusion of interpersonal complications. I heard a whip being removed from the wall. I lay there, trembling. I grasped the chains, above the manacles. I did not want to be lashed! But the whip was thrust to my lips. Eagerly, lifting my head, I licked and kissed the whip. I did not want it used on me. My ardor in this matter, and this may, I suspect, have mollified him to some extent. For he then, delicately, gently, tested me. He grunted, surprised.

"Yes, Master," I said. "I am a virgin!"

he then seemed to have drawn back for a time, perhaps kneeling there, thinking. I do not think, now, he had believed that I was really a virgin, in spite of the attestation, and such, and I do not think either that my virginity had really been of great interest to him, whether or not it was actual. He had been angry, I now think, that I had been behaving in a timid, or virginal, fashion with him, perhaps to secure some gentleness of treatment, when I was not really a virgin at all. Perhaps mollified then to some extent by my placatory behavior in kissing the whip he had decided to take the time to make test of my virginity rather than simply and with terrible force utilizing me, moving aside whatever obstacle, if any, might have attempted to impede the progression of his mastery. Master?" I asked.

To my surprise, then, I felt a shackle put on my left ankle. he then removed the manacles which had been on my wrists. I heard the whip cast to the side. "Master?" I asked. I knelt, rubbing my wrists.

He then, apparently crouching near me, took me with extreme gentleness into his arms. I began to tremble. I felt his lips at the left side of my neck, above the steel collar locked there. "I am afraid, Master," I whispered.

He soothed me with a kiss on the shoulder. I was grateful, but, too, I could feel the heat of his breath there, it making me uneasy, and disturbing me, and I could sense the strength of his arms.

"Oh, master," I sobbed. "Master!"

One of his hands was behind my back. With the other hand he indicated I should rise up a bit, and I did so, and he placed the hand then behind my knees. He then, lifting me, and gently inclining me backwards, supporting me with his hand behind my back, lowered me gently to the furs. I then lay there, on my back, in the hood, before him.

I felt his hands lift up my right ankle, that which did not wear the shackle. I felt his lips on my ankle. his hands were very strong. I tried to pull back a bit, uneasily, but could not do so. He continued to hold my ankle, and kiss my leg. I moved my left ankle, in its shackle. I heard the tiny sounds of the links of the chain, running between the shackle and its ring. I pulled back my left ankle, and lifted it, frightened, alarmed by the sensations I was beginning to feel, and learned what limitations had been placed on its movements, imposed by the metal impedimenta whose prisoner I was. I could not leave the alcove of course, but I had been permitted slack, enough to kick, it seems, as in the throes of passion or, helplessly, as though to hold on for dear life, to clench my legs about a master" s legs or, if I were pulled down, closer to the ring, his body. His touches and kisses were now disturbing me, but he was very gentle. "Oh, Master!" I said.

The flesh behind the knee and above it was very sensitive.

He was patient.

"Thank you, Maser," I said, gratefully.

Over the next quarter of an hour or so he also addressed his attentions to my other leg, but desisted in his ministrations when he had come midway up the interior of my thighs.

"Master!" I breathed.

Then he was kissing my hands, their backs, and kissing and licking the palms, and then moving up the interiors of the wrists, and forearms. In another quarter of an hour or so, he had come again to my neck, near the collar, where he had first kissed me, and then, slowly, kissed my shoulders. I lay there, frightened, wanting to respond. I sensed his lips near mine, by the feel of his breath. I lifted my head a little, and kissed him, timidly, gratefully. Then I felt his head, and hair, below my chin. "Ohh," I said. Then he kissed and licked, and caressed me about the sides, and back. "Ah," he said, appreciatively was not really responding to him, or at least in no overt way I was really aware of, but I think he did not really mind this, or, at the time, expecting anything much different. I think he did find me beautiful. And I think he took pride in the simple handling of such a slave.

Then he was kissing me about my hips and belly, and then, much lower, above the midpoint of the interior of my thighs.

"Master," I said.

"Oh!" I said. "Oh!"

His hands, and his tongue, and his kisses, were unbelievable! Suddenly I lifted my hips to him. "Master!" I begged. "Master!"

His large hands were on me, gripping me, holding me an inch to two above the furs. I felt his thumbs. They pressed deeply into me, at the sides of my belly, but did not hurt me. They only held me fixed in place. I could feel the strength of him. I could not even think of escaping that grip.

"Master!" I begged.

I knew then that I belonged in a collar, and so, too doubtless, did he. "Oh!" he said, frightened. I was tense, waiting. "Oh," I said, softly, frightened.

He was so strong!

"Oh!" I said, softly.

He kissed me, gently, holding me.

"It" s done," I whispered. "It" s done!"

He kissed me again.

What a fool I am, I thought to myself, and what a fool he must think me. Of course, it has been done!

I had sensed the parting of that tissue, its giving way, but it had not hurt. I had expected it to hurt. It had not hurt!

"I am longer special," I said. "I am now only another girl."

He laughed.

What a small thing it had been! There had been nothing to it! What an absurdity to be concerned over so small a thing, so trivial a thing, I thought. I knew that in some women, of course, the matter was not so simple. I was pleased, and relieved, accordingly, that in my case it had all happened so quickly, so simply, so painlessly.

He kissed me again.

I had been opened, I though. I was now "red silk!"

I was still, of course, locked in his arms. I felt his power and surgency. He then began to make use of me.

"Master!" I gasped.

Perhaps his patience was then at the end, or perhaps he felt he had waited long enough, or perhaps he found me, suddenly, too beautiful to resist. I did not know, but he then began, with apparently little regard for me, to content himself.

I clung to him, startled.

It may be, of course, that this was merely another kindness on his part, that I be now reminded of my status, that I wore a collar, that I was naught but a slave, I did not know.

"Yes, Master!" I whispered.

I suspect I was not the first girl he had opened. He realized, I think, as I did not, at that time, that at this time there would be severe limitations on my capacity to respond to him, limitations finding herself the victim of helpless slave needs.

"Master!" I cried.

I clung to him. I jerked my legs. I felt the chain on my left ankle. What can we be but vessels of pleasure to such brutes, I thought. To be sure, the slave must sometimes expect to be used with complete unilaterally. This feature is attendant on her condition. She is, after all, only a slave. Most slaves, incidentally, welcome this, for they treasure their bondage, many of them dearly than their life, and they know that without it, and such things, they cannot be true slaves. Even such a service, perhaps paradoxically, they find exciting and fulfilling. Too, after one has been a slave for a time, it is difficult to be touched by a man without becoming responsive, and extremely so. Thus a girl is often grateful for her master" s touch, and weeps with pleasure in her usage, even when he is not concerned in the least with her. This is a part of her helplessness, and having been made the prisoner of her slave needs.

"Ah," he said, as though interested.

Could I actually be responding to him, this brute who had opened me in a Gorean tavern, this monster who had but a moment ago red-silked me!

"Oh, Master!" I whispered, startled.

Oh, he had been patient, he had been kind, I knew. He could have cuffed me and torn me open in an instant but he had not done so. I was grateful. But now what was he doing to me? What were the sorts of things I was beginning to feel? To be sure, as I would later understand, these were, in their depth, only incipient sensations, little more than the hints of sensations, but even so I did not know now, how to cope with them. Something here seemed to be different now from the simple, intimate, unbelievable, unspeakable deliciousness of his earlier attentions. Something within me that I now sensed, something deep in my belly but which seemed to radiate out through my whole body, now hinted obscurely of something different, of sensations and feelings, of yieldings and submissions such that I hastily attempted to drive even the thought of them from my mind.

"Ah!" he said again.

I could not help how my body had moved, or how it had gripped him!

We are the submitted and the conquered, I thought. Otherwise we cannot be ourselves!

I tried to push hum away, sobbing. But he pressed me the more closely to him. My hips moved.

He laughed.

I hated him!

"What are men going to do to me?" I asked. "What are they going to make me?" He tapped with his finger on my collar. He put his hand on my left thigh. I realized, suddenly, that was where my brand was.

"I am already a slave," I sobbed, " totally a slave!"

He laughed, softly. I shuddered. I gathered I had not yet begun to learn my slavery.

Then he began again, having granted me this respite, to make use of me. "Oh," I said, softly. "Oh!"

It is difficult to make clear the wholeness of this experience, even within its limitations, for as I now understand, and I am sure he understood at the time, it provided me with little more than an inchoate intimation of how I might be subdued and owned in the arms of men. But even so, even at that time, the experience was a startling, astonishing whole. That is something I think many men do not grasp, the wholeness of the sexual experience for the woman, its enhancement and deepening by the beautiful and intricate context, that it is not simply a matter of skillful epidermic stimulations. If it were, for example, I would never have been drawn to the beauties of ethnic dance. Here, of course, in a Gorean alcove, and given our condition, he free, I a collared slave, who must submit and obey, there was just such a totalistic context. Indeed, the situation of bondage itself is such a context.

"Oh!" I cried, softly. And then I could not believe, suddenly, how tightly I was held. How helpless we are! "Oh," I said, then, and for the first time felt the imperious casting forth within me, seeming to fill my helplessly held body, of a man" s triumph. How precious suddenly seemed such stuff to me. We could not make it. We could get it only from men. I had little doubt that in the arms of such a man, had I not had "slave wine," I would have been impregnated. How could my body have resisted such floods of seed? But I knew I had little to fear, or hope for, in such matters. My breeding was not under my own will. It was under the will of masters. It would be controlled, and supervised, and regulated, as carefully as that of any other domestic animal. I needed not fear pregnancy until the matter had been decided otherwise by masters.

I clung to my use master. I did not want him to let me go, not yet.

Then I was afraid and angry. With what insolence, with what arrogance, he had cast his seed within me! And I must endure such things, as it pleased him! how he had held me, and then loosed himself within me! What arrogance, what insolence! He had not asked my permission. He had simply taken me, as a slave might be taken! Did he not know I was from Earth? Did he think I was only another Gorean girl? But I realized, then, that here I was perhaps even less than a Gorean girl, and, at best, only another slut in a collar.

"Please do not let me go, Master," I begged. "Hold me, please." He then for a time kept me in his arms.

I was not displeased to be a woman.

It was what I wanted to be, if there were such men.

I clung to him. He kissed me. "Thank you, Master," I whispered. It was lonely and dark inside the hood, but his body was warm. In a way I was pleased to be hooded. Otherwise I might have fallen in love with him. As it was, and this was according to the will of masters, I could not relate to him as a woman to a man, but only as a woman to any man, or men.

I heard sounds in the tavern outside.

I knew I was now a red-silk paga slave. I heard slave bells outside, the sort sometimes fastened on slaves, on their ankles, their wrists, their collars. Perhaps those I heard were bound on Tupita" s or Sita" s well-turned ankle. I clung yet more closely to him.

I was troubled.

He had made me begin to feel sensations, though doubtless I was now ready for them, which had alarmed me, sensations which spoke to me of female helplessness, and of female helplessnesses beyond them, and perhaps even beyond them, intriguing, fascinating helplessnesses, helplessnesses dimly sensed and terribly feared, yet somehow desperately longed for, of which I could scarcely conjecture.

He then thrust me away.

I lay there, in the darkness of the hood. I felt a coolness on my left thigh, like a thread. I had not noticed it before. I knew what it must be. I did not touch it.

I heard him dress.

He came back and, I think, crouched beside me. I felt his thumb rubbing on the interior of my left thigh. I then heard him pick up a sheet of paper and, seemingly, clean his thumb on the paper. He then rubbed his fingers on my thigh and lifted them gently to my mouth. "Yes, Master," I said. Obediently I licked his fingers, finding on them, sweet with sweat and oil, the dampness of my virgin blood. I thus, being granted the permission of my use master, tasted the fruits of my own first ravishment. The paper on which he had smeared blood was doubtless the attestation paper, the blood being presumably put at the bottom, in the place for it.

I sensed him stand.

I knelt before my use master. I put out my hand to him.

He had been kind to me. He had been patient with me. He had been gently, even in the rupturing of that fragile tissue, my sundering. I sought his legs, and, finding them, groping, put down my head, kissing his feet. "Thank you, Maser," I said.

I heard a slave girl crying out with pleasure outside. I shuddered. She must be being used so simply as having been flung across one of the tables, perhaps her hair and back in spilled paga.

I lifted my head, in its hood, to him. "Do not leave me," I begged. "Stay with me!"

He said nothing. This was in accordance, of course, with the custom in Brundisium, and in certain other cities, that in the light of which I had been given my first ravishing.

I then heard the snap of a slave whip outside the leather curtain, rather close to it, and a girl" s cry of pain. "We are going to the alcove, slave!" I heard. "Yes, Master!" she cried. It was Sita. I heard her then, probably, judging by the jangling of slave bells, being conducted, stumbling, to an alcove. Probably he had her had at his hip, held by her hair. "Yes, Master!" she was weeping, her voice fading. "Yes, Master!"

"Please," I begged, frightened. "Please!"

He was silent.

"Please, Master," I wheedled.

He had been kind. It seemed possible to me then, that he might be weak, like the men of Earth, that perhaps I could manipulate him. What a fool I was! Did I not understand he was a Gorean male?

"Please, Master!" I begged, prettily.

His only answer was a cuff that threw me to one side, startled, where I crouched, disbelievingly, at the end of the chain. Then he took me and thrust me on my back on the furs and, as he had before, when we had first come to the alcove, manacled my hands at the sides of my head. He then removed the shackle from my left ankle.

My lip had been cut by his blow. I could taste blood there. "Master?" I asked. Then I felt him, and I could not have stopped him, had I wished to do so, as I was chained, remove the white-silk ribbon from my collar. In a moment he had fastened something else there, in its place, doubtless another ribbon, doubtless the red-silk ribbon which had been given to him earlier by Mirus. He jerked it down on the collar, snugly.

He was then, I think, crouching near me. I pulled at the manacles. I was helpless. There was another trickle of blood on my leg. He put his thumb in this and scrawled a «Kef» on my belly, the first letter of "Kajira." Then I felt the whip thrown beside me. "Master!" I wept. "Forgive me, if I have been displeasing, Master! Please, forgive me!" I recoiled, whimpering, from a kick from the side of his foot. Then I heard him unbuckling the leather curtain, and leaving. I was helpless in the alcove. "Master!" I called after him. "Master!" I tried to rise but, by the chains, was prevented from doing so. I sand back, miserable, on the furs. He had been kind to me, and the first thing I had tried to do was to take advantage of him, to bend him to my will. I had then been cuffed. Then he had chained me. Too, he had thrown the whip against me, and had kicked me, showing his contempt for me, a caught, would-be manipulative slave. Then he had left. I moaned. What a fool I had been! he was Gorean! Had I not understood that it was I who was the slave, and he the master? Perhaps the whip had been flung against me to remind me of my subjectability to it. Or perhaps he had flung it there that my master, or his man, might understand, when he came to unchain me, that at the least failure in my pleasingness I was due for a whipping. Yet he himself had not used it on me. That was perhaps yet another evidence of his kindness, or of his understanding and patience with me, his recognition that I was still naught but an ignorant and naA?ve novice with respect to the rigors of my bondage. Had I irritated him further, however, I do not doubt but what he himself would have used it on me. As it was, he had not been pleased when he had left me. If he were to use me again, in the future, I feared he would be merciless with me, treating me as the foolish, and errant Earth woman I had been.

"Master?" I asked. I had heard the curtain being parted. "Master!" I said, elatedly. "Master?"

but then I felt my ankles flung apart.

"Oh!" I said, suddenly and smoothly penetrated, deeply.

I lay there, absolutely still.

This was not the same man!

I did not dare to move, so penetrated.

He made an animal noise.

"Master?" I asked.

I was very alive to him, so much so that I was unwilling to move.

"Dance," said Tupita, apparently from the opening of the alcove. There was laughter there, too, mostly that of men. The curtain I realized had not been drawn!

"He wants you to dance, slave," laughed Tupita. "You are a dancer. Go ahead, dance."

I moaned.

"Did you see the «Kef» on her belly?" asked Tupita.

"Yes," said a man.

"It belongs there," she said.

"Yes," agreed another fellow.

"There is now a red-silk ribbon on your collar, Doreen," said Tupita. "What is the meaning of that?"

"That I have been red-silked, Mistress," I said.

"Yes," said Tupita.

"Close the curtain, Mistress!" I begged.

"Why?" asked Tupita. "Are you modest?"

"No, Mistress," I sobbed. Slaves are not permitted modesty.

"You are now only a red-silk slut, Doreen," she said, "no different from the rest of us!"

"No, Mistress," I said.

"And do not forget it," she said.

"No, Mistress," I said.

There was laughter.

"Do you hear pounding?" asked Tupita.

"She has already been pounded," said a man.

There was laughter.

"Listen," said Tupita.

I could then hear pounding. It was far off, somewhere perhaps in the front of the tavern.

"So you hear it?" she asked.

"Yes, Mistress," I said.

"Do you know what it is?" she asked.

"No, Mistress," I said.

"It is your attestation paper, together with your white ribbon, being nailed to the wall in the vestibule of the tavern," she said. "It is there now with mine, and Sita" s, and those of some of the other girls."

I did not respond.

"But not with Inger" s," said a fellow.

"No," laughed Tupita.

Several of the fellows laughed. Inger, from distant Skjern, had been taken by Torvaldslanders. She was voluptuous. Too, Torvaldslanders seldom deliver virgins to the slave markets.

"You are fortunate that I am not a man?" laughed Tupita.

"Mistress?" I asked, puzzled.

"In the case of a man, the repetition of a command is commonly a cause for discipline."

"A command, Mistress?" I asked, frightened.

"Yes," she said.

I knew that Tupita was having her sport with me, but, too, I knew that she might beat me tomorrow, in the slave area. As first girl she had that privilege. I did not want her to whip me, or switch me, or have the other girls put my ankles over the low bar and tie them there, and then have her spank the soles of my bare feet with the springy, flat board. It is very painful, and it is hard to walk after it.

"What command?" I asked, frightened.

"Dance," laughed Tupita.

"Mistress, I am chained!" I said. "I am held!"

"Dance," said a man, from the entryway, and a grunt of pleasure from him in whose arms I lay slave captive.

I had been commanded by a man. I obeyed immediately, or did my best to obey. If a command needs to be repeated, as the saying goes, the girl needs to be punished. If the girl thinks, however, that the command may have been, say, an inadvertence, or mistake, or that the master might relent, or something along these lines, she might, say, beg or inquire. She is reassured of the intent and seriousness of the command if, for example, she is asked if the command need be repeated, which eventuality she will presumably be anxious to avoid. If she has, sincerely, and not as a girl" s trick, not understood the command, or has not heard it, or fears she may not have heard it correctly, she may also inquire into the matter, of course, and normally without penalty. In such cases the repetition of a command is not regarded as cause for discipline. A girl is seldom punished for trying to be pleasing, at least at first. If her efforts continue to fail, however, that is a different matter. The whip is an absolutely marvelous instructional device for improving female conduct.

I had not even wanted to move, him so within me!

But I was a slave. I must obey.

"You wriggle well, Doreen," called Tupita.

I cried out with misery.

"Come, see the slave dance!" called a man from the entryway.

"Do not stop, slut," warned Tupita.

I moaned.

I had not wanted to move, him so within me! But now, choicelessly, I moved. He was mostly quiet within me. It was I, the slave, who must move! I twisted and writhed. I then became aware, to my horror, that I was being forced to arouse myself upon him.

I whimpered in protest.

"Come, look," called a fellow. "She is getting hot!"

I sensed men crowding about the entryway.

"No!" I sobbed. I was a woman of Earth. I must remain frigid! I must not be "hot!" But then I realized I was no longer a woman of Earth. I was now only a Gorean slave.

"Please him," said Tupita.

"Yes, Mistress!" I sobbed. "Yes, Mistress!"

"Ai!" growled the brute who held me like chains.

The techniques of ethnic dance, as is perhaps no well-kept secret, because of the movements of the hips, the control of the muscles of the abdomen, and such, have delicious applications in the making of love. It is no wonder that this form of dance, for centuries, was commanded by emirs, pashas and caliphs of their concubines and slaves. Too, of course, it is initially arousing to the woman, for she understands that she is dressed as a slave, is displayed as a slave and must dance as a slave. And later, of course, if she is truly a slave, she must satisfy, and with dividends, the passions she has aroused in her dance. If a woman could be a dream of pleasure to men, let her learn this form of dance.

"Ai, Ai!" said the fellow.

I then begun to feel incredible sensations, sensations I did not fully understand.

But then he gripped my hips so I could scarcely move, and pulled me tight to him, and was eager, surgent and eruptive within me! Then he withdrew, with something like a snarl and a smacking of his lips. I feared I had been bruised. "Master?" I asked. Would he leave me, so soon?

"I am next!" said a fellow.

I then again felt my ankles flung apart. I heard Tupita laughing.

"Oh!" I said, forcibly entered.

"Dance," called Tupita.

I recalled, suddenly, what I had heard, from back on the floor, behind us, when I was being carried on the shoulder of my first use master to the alcove, that fourteen more ostraka would be chosen!

"Dance!" laughed Tupita.

Again I danced.

It must have been near morning, I lay alone now in the alcove, now on my belly, my hands manacled apart, at the sides of my head. One of the men, earlier, when I was on my back, had put me in left-ankle shackle, had freed me of the manacles, had tied my hands behind my back, and had then had me please him, astride him. he had then, afterwards, left me lying on my side in the alcove. The next fellow had freed my hands of the thongs, put me on my stomach, and chained my wrists apart, at the sides of my head, much as I had been before, for much of the evening, but now turned, now on my stomach, and had then freed me of the ankle shackle.

I had lost count of the men, but there had doubtless been, counting my first use master, the full fifteen who had purchased winning ostraka.

It was quiet outside in the tavern.

I did not remember if the curtain had been drawn shut by my last use visitor, when he had left, or if he had left it open.

I lay there alone, on my belly, chained.

The former Doreen Williamson" s virginity had been raffled off. And so too, had her first uses. I supposed that Teibar, who had been my capture master, who had caught me on Earth, and brought me here to be a slave, would have found that amusing, his "modern woman" being taught her sex on Gor.

I rubbed my belly a little on the furs. I held the chains above the manacles close about my wrists.

Yes, I thought, I had been taught something about my sex tonight. I supposed I stank of the uses of men.

Outside, near the front of the tavern, indeed, in its vestibule, I gathered, nailed to a wall there, with other such objects, was my attestation paper, with its smear of my virginal blood upon it, and the white ribbon which had been on my collar.

There was now another ribbon, I gathered, tied on my collar, one of red silk. I was now, at any rate, "red silk."

I wondered what the men who had worked at the library would have thought. I wondered if they, too, would have crawled to me, and put me to their purposes. It would be their right, of course. I was now a slave.

I lay there, troubled.

I wanted to cope with my feelings. I was confused. The first fellow had been, on the whole, very gentle and understanding with me. I thought I would always be grateful to him for that. he could have been quite otherwise, for I was only a collar-slut whose virginity he had won in a raffle. After he had removed my virginity he had treated me with much less courtesy and patience. In his arms, after my virginity had been taken, I had had the first genuine intimations of what it might be to be a slave in the arms of a man. In the arms of the second fellow I had begun to feel incredible sensations but he had then, eager in his own pleasures, seized me helplessly to him, and, as I was held, startled, the helpless vessel of his pleasure, used me, and left. In such a usage, and public as it was, before Tupita, and others, I was well reminded that there was a steel collar on my neck. But I was then, too, to my transitory shame, until I recalled I was a slave, and such feelings were required of me, more than ready for the next man, and then, more eagerly then I perhaps now cared to recall, I «danced» for him. Helpless, and in chains, hooded, almost alone with my sensations, I was discovering my sexuality, the root sexuality of the used female. To be sure, as I would later discover, I was only doing something like beginning to respond to them. When the fourth man had entered the alcove, and he seemed to be just standing there, not yet touching me, I had actually lifted my belly to him, begging. He had laughed. I had then sunk back in a paroxysm of humiliation and embarrassment on the furs, overcome with shame, from my grotesque anti-sexual Earth conditioning in which female merit is regarded as being threatened or diminished by any sign of truly deep sexual needs, or any evidence of intense, genuine interest in the opposite sex. But if I wanted their touch why should I not ask for it, or beg for it? As a slave what else could I do? Too, even if my needs and my interests, and the incredible depth and intensity of my desires proved that I was «worthless» and without "merit," I did not care! Of course I was worthless, though, to be sure, men would pay hard cash for me! I was worthless because I was only a property! I was worthless because I was bond! I was worthless because I was the sort of woman who could be put upon a slave block and be sold! I was worthless because I was only an owned animal! Of course I did not have «merit»! I was beyond «worth» and "merit," of those sorts. I was only a slave! But thus I could be as free, and piteous, and begging, and lewd, and loving, and sexual as I wished! I had nothing to conceal, nothing to keep secret. I belonged to my master, all of me, my thoughts, my love, my body, everything I was and could be! I lay there for a moment moaning in shame. But then he had crouched near me and, with a few deft, unbelievable touches, had me, in spite of myself, leaping and squirming before him. Then I realized he had laughed at me not so much to humiliate me, thought perhaps he had enjoyed doing so, as I was an Earth woman, but because he was amused at my obvious readiness, unusual in so new a slave. I gathered that this vitality, or responsivenesss, coming from so new a branded slut, must be surprising. Then he entered me, and I think I pleased him.

I lay there, trying to cope with my feelings.

To some extent, doubtless, the conditioning to which I had been subjected on Earth was attempting to war with the liberties of my bondage. Indeed, some women try to carry the frigidities of their freedom into their bondage, but these are soon whipped out of them. They are swiftly taught that they are now a different sort of woman. then, choicelessly, gratefully, they yield eagerly to their slavery. You see, some of the "liberties of bondage" are also, in a sense, "necessities of bondage." For example, not only is a woman free then to open herself fully to the ravishings of masters, to be participatory, to feel as deeply, and profoundly and excitingly as she can, to be as responsive and orgasmic as possible, but she must do so. Such things are commanded of her. Similarly the authenticity of her responses can be recognized and tested. And failure to obey, and be pleasing, can be cause not only for grievous punishment, but death. Accordingly, my Earth conditioning could do little more now than attempt to war with my needs and urges. In each hour on Gor it seemed to be becoming less and less effective. My needs, and my reality, were now revealing its lack of soundness, its historical eccentricity, indexed to outmoded ideologies and conditions, its idisyncrasy, its absurdity, making it obsolete, and overthrowing it. In a natural world it was, without its constant reinforcements, crumbling. Too, as a slave, I must, whether I wished to or not, ignore it. To be sure, I think, in the final analysis, it was being primarily undermined by so simple and profound a thing as my own womanhood. Its poverty, vacuity and falsity I think I had recognized long ago, even on Earth.

I lay there on the furs, wondering about my feelings and responses. I wondered almost who the girl was, who lay there. She seemed very different from the former Doreen Williamson, who had worked in the library, so long ago, now, it seemed. To be sure, she still had the name «Doreen», but that now was her only name, and she had it only as a slave name, a name given to her as an animal is given a name, a name put on her, like a collar, by the will of a master, a name to which she must then, like any other named animal, respond, and in all ways. I was still hooded.

I lay there, and thought about the feelings I had experienced. Putting aside occasional episodes of chagrin or shame, understandably contingent on my Earth conditioning, as I was faced with various indisputable evidences of my vitality and responsiveness, I had found myself subjected to an astonishing variety of mixed emotions and feelings. Sometimes I had been confused by the unfamiliarity of these feelings, and sometimes delighted, and intrigued. Too, sometimes I had felt a desperate longing for them to continue, and had been eager for them, and others, some charming, and subtle, and some almost overpowering, making me feel weak, and held, to surface in me, like wonders, some bursting up, some rising slowly, in my depths. Too, sometimes I had felt genuine fear, as I seemed to sense, far off, feelings and emotions so incredible and overwhelming that I knew I would be helpless in their grasp, feelings that would be as commanding and irresistible to me as the movements of the earth and the tides of the sea. In short, I was on the brink of learning my femaleness. To be sure, nothing had been done to me at that time, I had not realized something of great importance, namely, how my body and nervous system could change under its uses, how my helplessness and needs could deepen, increase and intensify, how they could grow upon me and make me their prisoner. Although I was now almost ready, as Ina had put it, shocking me at the time "to beg and scratch for it," I still had no clear idea as to the extent to which my belly and body could be gripped by "slave need." I still had no clear understanding as to how it was that a girl could bruise herself against the bars of her cage, trying to touch a guard, or crawl naked on her belly to a hated master, if only to feel the blow of his hand or foot. In short, though I had come a thousand miles from the naA?ve girl in the library, I still had no understanding, really, of slave sex. I had not yet experienced even a small slave orgasm. But in the context of these reflections, seemingly focused primarily on simple feelings and sensations, let me reemphasize the wholeness of the context. It is in the slave" s life as a whole that these things, so overwhelmingly, find their place. The life of the slave is an entire modality of being, and this modality of being enhances the feelings and sensations just as, in turn, the feelings and sensations enhance and enrich the modality of being. The life of the female slave is a consistent, totalistic and indissoluble whole.

I heard someone part the curtains.

I was frightened.

Someone was there.

I pressed down into the furs, on my belly. Then, it frightening me, and embarrassing me at the time, I felt an involuntary movement, the subtle lifting, just a tiny bit, of my behind, in the furs. Then, swiftly, I lay even lower, more frightened, more closely, in the furs. I had once at a zoo, I recalled, seen a female animal, a female baboon, actually, frightened at the stalking, menacing, meaningful approach of a stern, dominant male, turn about and timidly offer herself to him. I had seen the same sort of behavior among chimpanzees. It is a form of placatory, female-submission behavior.

A man knelt or crouched near me. He felt my flanks. He had very strong hands. Again my body lifted itself, but this time, not so much in fear as in response to his touch.

"Interesting," said Hendow, my master.

I whimpered and tried to hide lower in the furs.

"Do not be upset, slave," he said. "It is for just such things that I bought you."

I felt the key thrust into the locks on the manacles, and they were removed from me. I was then turned to my back. the only bond I wore now was the half hood. "Are you sore?" he asked.

"A little," I said.

"Inside," he said.

"A little," I said.

My body, otherwise, though I would not feel it so much for a few hours, would be stiff here and there, and sore in places. I would discover, too, I had some bruises. Some of the men had treated me with great roughness. That was permissible. I was a slave.

I felt a chain belt put about my waist and padlocked shut at my navel. At the back of the belt, attached to it, was a pair of light manacles of the sort suitable for females, which I would learn are called "slave bracelets." "Master?" I asked.

I did not understand why I was being braceleted, now.

"You will wear these at night," he said, "for three nights."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"You will not be put out on the floor again," he said, "for three days." "Thank you, Master," I said. I supposed that was what I should be saying. "That will give you a chance to heal, if you need it, and, too, it will give you a chance to gather your thoughts together and to reflect upon your experiences." "Yes, Master," I said, puzzled.

"You will spend your time during the day," he said, "as before, in the kitchen." "Yes, Master," I said, apprehensively.

"Do not be afraid," he said. "You will be in the iron belt."

"Now?" I asked. I was now, after all, red silk.

"Yes," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Too," he said, " in the iron belt, and braceleted at night, and working in the kitchen, you will have a chance to simmer."

"To simmer, Master?" I asked.

"Yes," he said.

I did not understand him.

Then he picked me up, very gently, and carried me downstairs, to the basement, and my kennel. There, before my kennel, he put me in the iron belt. He then removed my hood. It seemed light there, even in the dimness of the basement. I saw that there was now a whole blanket, not just a part of one, in my kennel. "Thank you for the blanket, Master," I said.

"Crawl into the kennel," he said. "And lie down."

I did so, and he covered me with the blanket, rather gently, I thought. "Good night, Doreen," he said.

"Good night, Master," I said.

He then closed and locked the kennel door. I watched him through the bars as he went across the room, and blew out the small tharlarion-oil lamp there. He then went upstairs. Again I wore an iron belt. I did not understand why until I had slept and, well before dawn, awakened in the darkness. I squirmed. Then I pulled at the bracelets, futilely. I realized then, suddenly, feeling helpless, I would have to wait three days for a man" s touch.

12 The Floor

I knelt at the feet of the handsome fellow and kissed and licked about his ankles. I looked up at him. He was large and strong. "I would be pleased," I whispered, "if master would see fit to take me to an alcove."

"I am here," said Tupita, squirming on her knees, nearby. "Go away!" He looked down at me.

"My use is included already, in the price of master" s drink," I said. "I cost you nothing more."

"Go away," said Tupita.

"You are Doreen, who dances, aren" t you?" he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Go away!" said Tupita.

"Be silent," said the man to her.

"Yes, Master," she said. "Forgive me, Master."

"But you do not dance tonight?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said. "Tonight I am only a paga slave."

The red-silk ribbon was no longer on my collar. The girl wears it for only a week.

"I have seen you dance," he said. "You are quite good."

"Thank you, Master," I said.

"Quite good, indeed," he mused.

"Let me dance for you, alone, in the alcove," I whispered.

he smiled. I saw that this thought intrigued him, to have a private performance by a dancing slave, that she would dance her beauty for him alone. "Please, Master," I begged.

"You want to go to the alcove, don" t you?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"And you would dance and beg for it?" he asked.

"I love to dance, Master," I said, "but even if it did not, yes, I would dance and beg for it!"

"Are you any good at bringing the whip to a man in your teeth?" he asked. "Yes, Master," I said.

"But are you not a woman of Earth?" he asked.

"Once I was a woman of Earth," I said. "Now I am only a Gorean slave." "In the baths," he said, "I have seen the names of slaves and taverns scrawled on the walls."

"Oh?" I said, uneasily.

"And sometimes they are ranked in order of someone" s opinion as to their desirability," he said.

"I see," I said.

"May I speak, Master?" asked Tupita, with an almost catlike movement of her body. I thought I must learn to do that.

"Yes," he said.

"Were slaves in the tavern of Hendow so ranked?" she asked.

"Yes," he smiled.

"And did the name of Tupita not head the list?" she asked, glancing meaningfully at me.

"No," he said.

"Who was first?" she asked.

"Inger," he said.

"My name then was second," she said.

"No," said he, "it was third."

"And who was second?" she asked, angrily.

"Doreen," he smiled.

"The fellow who wrote the names up was surely mistaken," she said, angrily. "I can give you my opinion on that," he said, "at some later date. I have used you before. You" re quite good. Even excellent. There is no doubt about it. But tonight I shall try something different. I shall try the dancer, Doreen." "Thank you, Master!" I breathed, happily. Tonight I had searched hard for a use master. It was the middle of the week, when business is slower. Many men receive their hiring fees at the end of the week. Too, tonight, it seemed that many of the men had come to the tavern only to drink and talk, and some, too, near the walls, where it was quieter, to play kaissa, a Gorean board game. I did not care for kaissa. Men grew so absorbed in it, it seemed, that they could be totally oblivious even to a beautiful slave whimpering on her belly near them. Because of kaissa we had to sometimes wait hours for attentions! Too, I had come to the floor late, Tupita having assigned me cleaning duties in the slave area. This had happened before.

"To be sure, Tupita," he said, giving her head a shake, "such estimations are often quote subjective. It is wise not to take them seriously. The woman who is one" s man pudding may, for one reason or another, having sometimes little to do with her, be only another man" s porridge."

This I had learned was true. Slaves, and even some whom I regarded as objectively beautiful, even marvelous, were sometimes rated very differently by different men. Why, for example, does one man bid gold for a girl that another man would not buy for a copper? Perhaps because one man sees that the girl is worth gold, and the other does not. Who knows?

"But I have been waiting for you this evening!" said Tupita.

"Belly to another tonight," he said, "slave."

"Yes, Master," she said, angrily, and rose up, and, with an angry look at me, hurried away, in a jangle of bells.

I looked up at him, gratefully. He was very strong and handsome, and I was a slave. I wanted his touch.

"She is angry," he said, looking after Tupita.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Shall I call her back to be whipped?" he asked.

"Please. No, Master," I said. "It is only that she desires you." "She is first girl, is she not?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Are you not afraid?" he asked.

I shrugged. "Many time," I said, "particularly in my first weeks here, she took men away from me."

He looked down at me. "I do not think she can do that so easily any more," he said.

I looked down. "Perhaps not, Master," I said. "I do not know." To be sure, this was not the first man I had taken from Tupita. Normally, however, to be perfectly honest, she still took them from me. It is not unknown, of course, for slaves to compete for the attentions of masters.

"Are you not afraid?" he asked.

"No," I said, "not really. If she hurts me too much, or makes it so I cannot dance, or go out on the floor, our master would not be pleased."

"I see," he said.

Too, though I did not think it would have been appropriate to say so, I thought that I was becoming more popular with the customers. Too, I knew I was popular with several of my master" s men, such as Mirus, and I thought too, sometimes, that even my master might like me, a little. That, of course, frightened me, for he was large, and gross and loathsome. These things, I thought, would give Tupita at least a bit of pause when she might be tempted to use the switch or bastinado on me.

"But you must be apprehensive," he asked. "She is first girl."

"Yes, Master," I said. "I am a little afraid."

"Why then have you approached me?" he asked. "Why have you undertaken these risks? Why have you rendered obeisance? Why have you rendered slave ministrations, with your lips and tongue, to my feet and ankles? Why have you knelt here? Why do you look up at me, as you do? Why do you tremble?" "Because I want your touch," I said.

He looked down at me.

"I cannot help myself," I said.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because I am a woman, and a slave," I whispered.

"Precede me to the alcove," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said eagerly, gratefully. I then rose up and preceded him to the alcove, the slave bells jangling on my ankle.

13 The Passageway; Intrigues

I hurried back, elatedly, through the beaded curtain, fleeing, laughing, from the dancing floor. I had scrambled on my knees for the coins flung to the floor, seizing them, thrusting them hastily, so many of them, with one hand, into the lifted, bunched portion, held by my other hand, of the dancing skirt, a lovely, swirling skirt, scarlet, open on the right, of diaphanous dancing silk. I had been permitted a scarlet halter of the same material. My midriff, like my right thigh, was bared. The skirt was low on my hips. I wore a double belt of threaded, jangling coins, one strand high, one low, as with the corded belt of metal pieces I had worn in my virgin dance, weeks ago. I also wore a triple necklace of coins, together with necklaces of slave beads, of both glass and wood. These coins, all of them, would be counted by Mirus when I disrobed. On my left ankle were bound slave bells. My right ankle wore several anklets. I was barefoot. On my wrists were bracelets. On my upper left arm was a coiled armlet. A ruby, held by a chain, was at my forehead. Wound in and about my hair were strands of pearls.

"It is a good house tonight," said Mirus, who was waiting for me.

"Yes, Master!" I said, happily. I could hear the men still calling out and pounding at their shoulders with appreciation. I looked at Mirus. Should I hurry back through the curtain?

"No," he said. "Stay here."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Here," he said, holding open the sack. I emptied the coins from the dancing silk into the sack, and smoothed the skirt.

"You dance well," he said.

"Thank you, Master!" I said, happily. On Earth I had never dreamed that I would dance as a slave before masters.

"You have done much for the tavern of Hendow," he said.

"I am pleased, if I have been found pleasing," I said. I gave the ruby on its chain, from my forehead, to Mirus. He put it in his wallet. I then began to unwind the strands of pearls from my hair.

"Receipts are up twenty percent from a month ago," he said.

"I am pleased," I said. I handed the pearls to Mirus, who put them, as he had the chain and ruby, in his wallet.

"You are finding yourself now as a dancer," he said.

"I have been in the arms of men," I laughed, "men such as you, Master, who know how to turn a girl into a woman, and a woman into a slave."

"I think," he said, "you may be one of the finest dancers in Brundisium." This startled me.

"You are really quite good," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said.

"Hendow" s investment in you was a sound one," he said. "You are paying off well for him."

"I am pleased to hear that," I said. I was also relieved to hear it. I did not know what would have been done to me, had it been otherwise. I supposed I might have been muchly whipped.

"But you still have many things to learn," he said.

"It is my hope that master will consent to teach me some of them," I said. "Sassy she-tarsk," he said.

I laughed, but I was not altogether joking. Mirus was one of those men of a sort to whom, when my needs were enough on me, I could crawl, pleading. And he knew that, the brute. Certainly I had crawled to him enough! and, when my needs were enough upon me, of course, I was ready to crawl to any man, pleading, perhaps even to one of Earth, but they, probably, to my frustration, disappointment, and agony, would not know what to do with a slave. I was pleased to be on Gor, where men well understood the handling of imbonded females. I lifted the necklaces from my neck. I gave that of coins to Mirus, which he put on top of the coins in the sack, and I put the others in the box which was on the floor, just within the curtain.

"You are coming along well in your slavery, Doreen," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said. I looked at him. he made me feel hot between the thighs. I was only a slave.

"You were beautiful tonight, Doreen," said Ina, hurrying by in slave bells. "Thank you," I said.

Too, Ina wore a snatch of diaphanous yellow silk. The girls in Hendow" s tavern now often went silked on the floor, not naked, as before. "We are becoming quite fashionable," had said Sita, reaching eagerly for her tiny bit of silk. Tupita, had, however, only cast me a glance of hatred. To be sure, she did not refuse her own bit of silk. In most paga taverns, of course, the girls are silked. Usually it is only in the meanest, the cheapest and lowest of taverns that the girls serve naked, much as would the females of a conquered city at the victory feast of their conquerors, now, or soon to be, their masters. Slave silk, and certainly that sort which is commonly worn in paga taverns and upon occasion in brothels, when the girls are permitted clothing there, is generally diaphanous. It leaves little doubt as to the beauty of the slave. Some girls claim they would rather be naked, claiming that such silk makes them "more naked than naked," but most girls, and I think, even those, too, who speak in such a way, are grateful for even the wisp of gossamer shielding it provides against the imperious appraisals of masters, even though it must be pulled away or discarded instantly at a man" s whim. Too, I think most girls know that they are very beautiful in such silk, and this, I suspect, is why they love it, and treasure it. Free women, on Gor, it seems, are frightened even to look upon such material, apparently finding it scandalously offensive, or somehow profoundly disturbing to them, let alone let it touch their body. Some free women, captured, when such stuff is thrown to them, profess to prefer death to putting it on, but when the choice is that which is acturally offered to them they put it on quickly enough. too, such women, it si said, make excellent slaves. But Goreans believe, of course, that any woman, properly handled, becomes an excellent slave. I think this may be true. It is true, at any rate, in my case. There are a large number of ways in which slave silk is worn. It can be worn, for example, on the shoulder or off the shoulder, with high necklines or plunging necklines, in open or closed garments, tightly or flowingly, and in various lengths. Sometimes it is put on the girl only in halters and G-strings, or mere G-strings. Sometimes it is done, too, in strips wound about her body. The tying of slave girdles, with such silk, and otherwise, to emphasize the girl" s figure and make clear her bondage, is an art in itself. Often, too, and as usually in paga taverns, it is worn in brief tunics. Most of these are partable or wraparound tunics. Such may be removed gracefully. Some tunics, however, like some regular slave tunics, have a disrobing loop, usually at the left shoulder, where it may easily be reached by both a right-handed master and a right-handed slave. A tug on the disrobing loop drops the tunic to the girl" s ankles, also gracefully.

I sat down on the tiles there within the hall, near the beaded curtain, at the feet of Mirus, easily, as a slave girl, thinking nothing of it, sits at the feet of a man, and slipped the anklets from my right ankles, putting them in the box to my left.

I decide to pretend not to notice how he was looking at me.

I felt briefly like a pet at his feet, and there I supposed that a sense that I was pet, and that all we girls were, at least in a sense, pets, slave pets. But we were a thousand times more than mere pets, we were slaves, total slaves. I put my bracelets in the box, and then the armlet from my upper left arm. I tried to undo the thong on the bells on my left ankle. the knows were tight, drawn by a man" s hand. I fought with them. My fingers were small and weal. "Let me help you," said Mirus, and crouched down, near me. He had put the bells on me. It is often men who put slave bells on their girls. Such bells are indicative of bondage. Accordingly I suppose it makes sense that they might enjoy putting them on us, like brands and collars. Some men even dress their girls, us, and, always, the girl" s choices of such things as garb, cosmetics, perfume, jewelry, and such, and, indeed, her entire ensemble, are subject to the master" s approval. Indeed, most often, whether it only a simple tunic, before she hurries forth to shop, or in luscious slave silk and exciting adornments, before she is to welcome and serve her master" s guests, displaying herself as one of his treasures, she is expected to present herself before him, for his inspection. She is owned.

He held my ankle. his hands were very strong. I put down my head, so that he might not see my eyes.

He then, in a moment or two, had the thong loose, and, its loops unwound, five of them, dropped it, with its strung bells, in the box.

But his hands then were on my ankles.

I looked at him."Are you naked beneath the silk?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I smiled. He knew that. Indeed, as the silk was diaphanous, he could, for most practical purposes, see that.

"Slave naked?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said. This, somehow, is a far more disturbing, or meaningful, admission than the first. Somehow the nakedness of a slave seems far more naked that the nakedness of a free woman. doubtless this has to do with her being a property, and owned. Too, "slave naked" suggests being naked naked, so to speak, being helplessly naked, as a slave is helplessly naked. It has, sometimes, too, the connotation of being vulnerably, and arousably, naked, as a slave is helplessly, vulnerably, and arousably naked.

He looked at me.

"Yes, Master," I whispered. "Beneath the silk that is the way I am naked, slave naked."

I felt slave arousal. I could not help myself. Long ago, now, weeks ago, men had lit slave fires in my belly.

I was aroused, and as a slave.

To be sure, I had no understanding, at that time, of what could become the fuller impact of these things. I was still, at that time, in effect, a new slave.

Then he removed his hands from my ankles.

"Master?" I asked.

"Stand," he said. We both stood. "Belt," he said.

I reached behind me and undo the double belt of coins, with its two loops, one high one low. The coins on the belt, as well as those on the necklace, would be counted by Mirus.

"You look well with your hands behind your back," he said.

I looked up.

"Your hands are now bound behind your back," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said. I must now keep my hands or wrists in contact with one another, and behind my back. I was now "bound by the master" s will." I could not separate my hands or wrists from one another now without permission. There are many ways, of course, of "binding by the master" s will." The behind-the-back position is one of the simplest and loveliest. This exposes the girl, frames the beauty of her breasts and makes her helpless. That the bond is a "will bond," too, makes clear to her the power of the master over her. Another common bond of this sort is when the girl must kneel, grasping her ankles. another is when she is forced to sit and reach forward between her legs, passing the right arm from inside the right thigh to outside and beneath the right calf, to grasp the right ankle between her legs, passing the right arm from inside the right ankle from the outside, the left arm from inside the left thigh to outside and beneath the left calf, to grasp the left ankle in the same way. In this position she is helpless and cannot rise. Too, after a time, it becomes apparent to her that she also cannot close her legs. A girl may be kept in such bonds for hours. Too, of course, she may be tied in such a position. There are also, of course, different ways of decreeing such bonds. For example, with the behind-the-back-hands-tied bond in which I had been placed I could have been informed, but had not been, that my shoulders were pulled tightly back, which, of course, forces the breasts forward for the pleasure, or attentions, of the master.

"I think I shall find it difficult to remove the belt," I smiled, "bound as I am."

He stood close to me, and put his arms about me. "I shall remove it," he said. Tupita came then through the beaded curtain. She glanced at me. She was not pleased to see me in the arms of Mirus, who was a desirable male, and first among my master" s men. She looked at me in hatred. She did not think twice about the position of my hands. She could see I had been "bound by the master" s will." It could have been done as easily to her, at a word.

She came close to Mirus. She licked at his shoulder. "Will you call for me tonight?" she asked.

"No," he said. "Return to the floor."

"Yes, Master," she said, and, with a look of fury, cast at me, slipped back through the curtain.

"You are good for Tupita," he told me. "Because of you she is becoming more attentive and more desperate to please."

"I am attentive and desperate to please," I said.

"Yes," he said, "but not because of her."

"No, Master," I said.

"Because you are a slave," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said. How I loved his arms about me!

"You are a splendid natural slave," he said.

"I knew it even on Earth," I whispered to him. Indeed, I had even wondered, strangely, at times, I supposed, if I might not have been a slave in former lives, in other eras, perhaps in the Ancient World or in the Medieval Middle East, in times more in tune with the true matters of human beings, natures as they really were, in themselves, and not as they might be when denied, thwarted, twisted and perverted by ideological insanities. And, at times, recollecting, or seeming to recollect, such times and places, and their naturalness, and rightness, and their fulfillments and ecstasies. I, lonely and yearning, seemingly an exile in the sexual deserts of my own world and time, had wept. But regardless of the truth or falsity of such things, and regardless of the explanations or reasons for the things which lay so deep within me, whether they were recollective or merely the irrepressible fruits of genetic truths, so anomalous in my own time, so uncharacteristic of everything I had been taught. I had known they had lain within me. That was incontrovertible. I knew that I, who was then Doreen Williamson, had been born for the collar. I had never expected then, however, to wear it. I had never even suspected there was such a world as Gor where, as my capture master Teibar, had put it, "women such as I were bought and sold."

"Of course," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"What was you master like on Earth?" he asked.

"I did not have a master on Earth," I said.

"You, a woman like you, so obviously a natural slave, did not have a master?" he asked, interested.

"No, Master," I said.

"You were not a legal slave on Earth?" he asked.

"No, Master," I smiled. "I did not become a legal slave until I was brought to Gor."

"Surely the men of Earth are somewhat imperceptive," he said. "Some of them, perhaps, Master," I smiled.

"Here," he said, "we have made good their oversight."

"That is true," I smiled.

He looked down, into my eyes. "You should have been a legal slave on Earth," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said. I supposed that was true. But then, too, I supposed that many women on Earth should be made slaves. Certainly I had known many women who might have profited, and considerably, in one way or another, from bondage. Certainly I had sometimes speculated what one or another of them might have looked like, as a slave. Also, of course, I had often considered what I myself might have looked like, as a slave. It was for such a reason, I suppose, at least in part, as well as for the stimulation and truth, and fittingness, of it, that I had made the tiny garment of red silk I had had on Earth.

"But doubtless," he said, "even if you somehow managed to escape the collar on your own world, to be caught and rightfully wear it here, women such as you are almost universally held in bondage on Earth."

"No, Master," I said.

"Why not?" he asked.

"I do not know, Master," I said.

"Certainly they should be," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said, humbly. It was true.

"Here," he said, "they would wear their collars."

"Yes, Master," I said. I did not doubt that that was true. Here, on Gor, women such as I, surely, would be swiftly sorted out, taken in hand, prepared for sale, and sold.

"But, at least, you were a collar now, as you should," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"You are now, at last, a legal slave."

"Yes, Master," I said, frightened. I was now, truly, here on this world, as I might have been in Ur, or Sumer, or Babylon, or Assyria, or Chaldea, or Egypt, or Greece, or Rome, or Persia, or Barbary, a legal slave, a slave held in full legality.

"Does it frighten you," he asked, "to find that you are a legal slave?" "Sometimes," I said.

"Does it terrify you?" he asked.

"Sometimes," I said.

"That makes no difference, of course," he said.

"I know," I said.

"You are a slave," he said, "whether you like it or not. That is simply what you are, that and only that. you are absolutely helpless to alter or change your condition in any way, as much as a vulo or a tarsk."

"I know," I said.

I felt his hands on my hips.

Sometimes I was terrified by the collar on my neck, knowing its meaning, knowing that it, like my brand, marked me slave, knowing how it put me at the mercy of masters, knowing that anything could be done to me.

His grip was bold. He was a master. I was a slave.

I tried to press my belly against him. His hands prevented this.

"You belong in a collar," he said.

"I know! I know!" I whispered.

"You are a superb collar-slut," he whispered.

"Tupita is your favorite," I whispered, frightened.

"No," he said.

"Who then?" I gasped, his grip tight on me, but holding me from him. "Doreen," he whispered.

"No!" I whispered.

"Are you afraid of Tupita?" he asked. "She is only a slave."

"I, too, am only a slave," I said, "and she is first girl!"

"She is losing her grip on the girls," he said. "She may not be first girl for long."

"Oh?" I asked. That interested me, that Tupita might be reduced in rank, to being then only one slut among others, she herself then having to kneel to another girl, be subject to her disciplines, and address her as "Mistress." "Who would be first girl?" I asked.

"It would not be you," he said. "You are from Earth."

"I do not want to be first girl," I said.

"Too," he said, "you are not the sort of woman who should be giving orders, but taking them."

"I am ready to take your orders now," I said.

"Are you no longer afraid of Tupita?" he asked.

"I am a slave," I said, lightly. "I must obey."

"I think it would probably be Aynur," he said, "Who would be the new first girl."

"Not Sita?" I asked.

"She has been too closely allied with Tupita," he said. "Do you think Aynur would make a good first girl?" he asked.

"I think so," I said. "She would be strict, but, I think, she would be fair."

"That, too, is the estimation of Hendow," he said.

"I think it is true," I said.

"You have great respect, it seems," he said, "for the judgment of Hendow." "He is my master," I said, guardedly. I did, in fact, have great respect for the judgment and intelligence of Hendow. Gross and loathsome as he might be, I had never, after our first interview, doubted his probity and acumen, nor, more significantly, from my point of view, his insight and native shrewdness. My most secret thoughts seemed to be open to him. He could read me like a book, or a naked, frightened slave.

"And he purchased you," said Mirus.

"Yes!" I laughed.

I felt his thumbs at the sides of my belly.

"I like these rounded bellies on women," he said. "In them a man may lose himself with pleasure. I do not like those firm, flat bellies on women." I said nothing. I felt his thumbs. They were not hurting me. I was pleased, of course, that Mirus, such a man, and such a master, found my sort of woman, one running more to the statistical norms of the human female, pleasing, as I wanted him to find me pleasing. Firm, flat bellies are less popular in women with Gorean men than among the men of Earth. Perhaps the Goreans find such bellies rather too much like those of boys, or young men. I do not know. Before her sale a girl is sometimes even forced to drink a liter or so of water, to round her belly more. I had had to do this in Market of Semris. Similarly, and perhaps for similar reasons, Gorean men tend, on the whole, it seems, to prefer normal-sized, lovely breasted, sweetly thighed women, with broad love cradles, as opposed to unusually tall, breastless, narrow-thighed women with narrow hips. Accordingly, such women, regarding themselves as unusually desirable by Earth standards, probably have little to fear from the slaver" s noose, unless they can compensate in other ways, as by an unusual beauty of features or an extremely high intelligence. A woman who regards herself as a beauty on Earth might, accordingly, find herself laboring in the public kitchens or laundries on Gor. She would then have to learn, from the beginning, so to speak, and perhaps lengthily and painfully, how to please men as best she can, within her imposed physic limitations. And some of these girls, I understand, eventually, in spite of those limitations, become jewels and treasures to their masters. The most important criteria for slave selection, however, I suspect, are such things as having extremely strong female urges and incredible profound emotional depths.

"Perhaps Master desires to remove the belt from me," I said. "As I am bound, I cannot do so."

"Do you know that you are beautiful?" he asked.

"Some men have been kind enough to tell me so," I said. "I do not know, of course, if they are correct or not."

"They are correct," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said. It pleased me if Mirus should find me beautiful. He was a strong and handsome master. I wanted to serve him.

"Are you familiar with the ratings posted in the baths?" he asked.

"I have heard of such things," I said, reddening.

"In several of them," said he, "you now hold highest ranking in the tavern of Hendow."

"Higher than Inger?" I asked. "Then Aynur, than Tupita?"

"Yes," he said. "In some of them, at least."

"I am not better than them, really," I said. "I am sure of that." "That is for men to decide," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said, frightened.

"But," said he, grinning, "you are probably right. You are all, doubtless, ultimately, very similar. You are all marvelous slaves. Such ratings are notoriously subjective. Some women will appeal more to one man, and some to another. Too, you are newer, and thus fresher to the tastes, and this perhaps accounts at least in part for your position in the rankings. When your popularity has crested you will perhaps subside to being merely another luscious and marvelous slave."

I looked at him.

"Too, you are a dancer," he said, "and this has undoubtedly improved your position. Many dancers, even plainer ones, hold high rankings."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"But one thing is certain," he said, "suck rankings, even granting their subjectivity, and their silliness, and all the nonsense and absurdity associated with them, point to something, and that is your beauty and desirability." I looked at him, frightened.

"You are one of the most beautiful and desirable slaves in Brundisium," he said. "I am in your grasp," I whispered.

I would have pressed my belly against him but I could not do so. He held me from him. I would have reached forth to touch him, but I could not do so. My hands had been bound behind my back, by his will.

"Hendow has received several offers for you," he said, "excellent ones, but he has not sold you."

I was startled. So simply I could change masters!

"Do you wish to know their nature?" he asked.

"Curiosity," I said, humbly, "is not becoming in a kajira."

"Very well," he said.

"Please! Please!" I begged.

"Two of them were from other tavern owners," he said. "But several have been from private individuals."

I wondered what it would be like to have a private master. I would surely try to serve such a one well. Almost all girls hope, someday, to have a private master. "What were the amounts?" I asked, eagerly.

"You are a slave, aren" t you?" he asked.

"Yes!" I said.

"One was for seven tarsks," he said.

"Seven!" I cried. "I am not worth so much."

"True," he said. "I myself only offered five."

"Five!" I cried.

"Yes," he admitted.

"You made an offer on me?" I asked, delighted.

"Yes," he said.

I wondered what it would be like to be owned by Mirus. Slaves often wonder what it would be to be owned by this man, or that. I found him extremely attractive. If he purchased me, I would certainly try to serve him well. Of course, too, any man who purchased me I would have to serve well, and, indeed, as I was a Gorean slave girl, in so far as I could, perfectly.

"I am not worth five tarsks," I laughed.

"True," he said.

"Why, then, did you offer so much?" I asked.

"I was drunk," he said.

"Tonight," I said, "I am not scheduled to return to the floor." "I know," he said.

"Master prepared the schedules," I laughed.

"Yes," he said.

"Summon me to your quarters," I whispered. "I will show you that maybe I am worth five tarsks after all!"

"Perhaps I will summon Tupita," he said.

"No, Doreen," I said.

"Did you know that Hendow is thinking of placing restrictions on your use?" he asked.

"Why would he do that?" I asked.

"I think he is fond of you," he said.

"I am pleased, if my master finds me pleasing," I said.

"Has he never ordered you to him?" asked Mirus.

"No," I said.

"Interesting," said Mirus. "Normally he disciplines new girls well." I shuddered. I had no doubt that Hendow, my master, could discipline a woman well. He seemed remote, and mighty. He was the master of the entire tavern, and of all the girls. There were twenty-seven of us. I was terrified of him. "But I do not think he will really put restrictions on your us," he said. "Why not?" I asked.

"I do not think it would be good for your discipline," he said.

"I understand," I said. In relationships between men and women, it is a common observation that the relationship tends to be improved considerably when the woman is subject to his usage. When she knows that that a fellow may, if he wishes, simply hurl her to his feet and put her to woman uses, she is likely to behave rather differently toward him than toward one who does not have this power over her.

"You have not displeased him lately, have you?" asked Mirus.

"Not to my knowledge," I said. "I hope not."

"Something is going to be done to you," he said.

"What?" I asked, apprehensively.

"But if you have not displeased him lately," he said, "I gather that it is not being inflicted as a punishment."

"What?" I asked.

"You haven" t heard?" he asked."No," I said.

"A leather worker is coming to the tavern tomorrow, with his kit," he said. "Why?" I asked.

"I" m sorry," he said. "I thought someone would have told you." "What?" I asked.

"It is nothing to fear," he said.

"What?" I said.

"It is done to many slaves," he said.

I looked at him, frightened.

"You have not displeased Hendow?" he asked.

"I do not think so," I said.

"That is what I thought," he said. "Then it is being done merely to improve you, to make you even more desirable."

"Please, Master," I said, "I am a helpless slave. What is to be done to me?" "Hendow is going to have your ears pierced," he said.

I looked at him, disbelievingly.

"It is true," he said, gravely.

I tried not to laugh.

"What is wrong?" he said.

I laughed, out loud in his grasp.

"I do not understand," he said.

"That is all?" I asked.

"All?" he asked. "Do you not understand the gravity of this?"

"I always wanted to have my ears pierced," I said. "Only I never had the courage."

"You wanted it?" he asked, startled.

"Yes," I said.

"What a slave!" he breathed.

"Oh?" I asked. To be sure, I was a slave, in my heart, as well as now, on this world, whether I wished it or not, and helplessly, in all public legality. "Surely you know that if such a thing were done to you," he said, "no man thereafter could look you except as a slave."

I laughed. "I am a slave," I said.

"It is so barbaric," he said.

"Perhaps," I said.

"How exciting you will be with your ears pierced," he said.

I smiled.

"You do not mind?" he asked.

"No," I said.

"Interestingly enough," he said, "once it is done, afterwards, few girls mind. Indeed, many are thrilled with what has been done to them, and are eager to display themselves to men in their new condition, and delight and revel in the new ornaments which they may then wear, so excitingly enhancing their appearance."

"I can understand that," I said.

"You see," he said, "it makes available to them a diverse and fantastic array of new adornments."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"How beautiful yo will be in such adornments!"

"It is my hope I will be pleasing to Masters," I said.

"You must understand, of course," he said, "that there are dangers inherent in having your ears pierced."

What dangers, Master?" I asked.

"Those attendant on having been made additionally desirable to strong men," he said.

"I understand," I said. I had recognized, of course, that such things as my garb, or lack of it, my brand, burned into my body, my collar, which I could not remove, placed on me by men, and such, and, above all, my condition, that of slave, had made me far more sexually stimulatory to men than I would otherwise have been but I had never, along the same lines, given much thought, or at least in detail, to the idea that, in this culture, similar effects might be consequent on things which, from the point of view of a girl from Earth, were as simple and familiar as having pierced ears or wearing earrings. To be sure, pierced ears, and wearing earrings, were stimulatory, too, I was sure, even to men of Earth, or, at least, to those who were capable of responding to such things, the piercings of the woman" s flesh, with its allegory of penetration, of her appropriate submission to the mastery, and the use of these piercings, making and recollecting them, to mount upon her beautiful adornments. I had sensed the barbaric and sexual connotations of these sorts of things on Earth, and, perhaps because of them, had always feared to have my ears pierced there. Here, of course, it was going to be done to me, whether I wished it or not. I was not discontented. I was, indeed, extremely pleased.

"I am eager to see you in such ornaments," he whispered.

"Kiss me," I whispered.

My hands were together behind my back. I could not part them without permission. "Perhaps if your ears were pierced," he said, "I should find your request irresistible."

"Then I hope, Master," I said, "that they shall soon be pierced." "They will be," he said.

I trembled, then, a bit, understanding then, a little more than before, what it might be, on this world, to have pierced ears.

He took his hands from my hips and put them further above me, to remove from my waist the double belt of coins.

I pressed my body against his.

"Were you given permission to approach me?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said. "Forgive me, Master." Swiftly I drew back, so that our bodies were not touching. But my breasts were but an ince from his broad, strong chest. And they were bound, and covered, in only tissures of slave silk. I felt much alive, and frustrated, and hot, and charged, and helpless. I was under his control, totally, I was even "bound by his will." My midriff was bared. This too, excited me, its exposure, and its nearness to him. I wanted to thrust my belly, in its low-hanging drape of delicate silk, against him. I felt his hands behind me, beneath mine, where I had them together, bound by his will.

"Please!" I begged.

I felt him disengage the large clasp at the back of the belt, to which both strands of coins, on each side, were fastened.

"Please," I said.

He took the belt and dropped it into the nearby sack, with the coined necklace and the coins I had picked up and brought back from the dancing floor, weighty in my lifted silk.

He looked down at me. My head came only to his shoulders.

"Do you beg?" he asked.

"Yes!" I said.

"Who begs?" he asked.

"Doreen begs," I said.

"Doreen what?" he asked.

Doreen, the slave, begs!" I said.

"To my lips, slave," he said.

Gratefully, eagerly, I pressed forward, rising on my toes, he half lifting me, his hands under my arms, holding me.

I melted to him.

"Unbind me!" I begged. I wanted to put my arms about him.

"Do you wish to be beaten?" he asked.

"No, Master!" I said.

We kissed, so together, the two of us, as to be almost one thing, and I almost swooned in his power. I fought, seemingly only half conscious for a moment, to keep my hands together behind my back. then he put me down and back a little. "I am still bound!" I moaned.

"And you may stay that way," he said, huskily.

"As Master pleases!" I said, sensing the urgency in him.

He then held me from him, by the arms.

"You have the ruby on its chain, which was on my forehead, and the pearls which were in my hair," is aid. "You have the coins cast by masters on the dancing floor, which I gathered for you. You have the necklace, the belt! The other things, the ornaments, the slave beads, the bells, are in the box. Surely now, you wish to store my silk!"

He smiled.

"Tear off my silk," I begged. "Take me here, on the tiles, in the passageway! I am ready! I beg for it!"

"Coin check," he said.

"Of course, Master!" I wept. How well he reminded me I was a slave! "Open your mouth," he said. I felt his finger run about within my mouth. Mirus was efficient. He would not forget to subject me to coin check.

"Hold still," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

He was thorough.

Some girls, I had been told, sometimes try to swallow small coins but this is foolish. The coin can be produced swiftly enough in such cases by emetics and laxatives. Similarly, her wastes my be subjected to unscheduled examinations. Too, even if she is successful in recovering the coin herself, there is usually little she can do with it. There are few places to conceal such objects in a cell or kennel. Similarly, she is often under surveillance, of one sort or another, by other slaves or free persons. Also, if she should be found to be in possession of a coin or coins, for example, by a tradesmen, guardsmen, or any free person, she will be expected to have an excellent explanation for this anomaly, which is then likely to be checked with her master. In most cities, even the touching of money, unless in an authorized situation, is prohibited to slaves. They cannot, of course, own money, any more than any other form of animal.

I looked at Mirus, tears in my eyes.

"What is going on here?" asked Hendow, who had approached down the passageway. Swiftly I knelt, and put my head to the floor before my master. My hands were still held behind me, as I had been bound by a man" s will.

"She has danced," said Mirus.:We have just completed coin check." "Lift your head," said Hendow.

Immediately I did so, and then knelt there, in the dancing silk, my knees wide, my hands behind my back, a woman before men, a slave before masters.

"I trust all the coins are accounted for," he said.

"I have not yet counted," said Mirus.

"Should she not be back on the floor by now?" asked Hendow. "She does not return to the floor tonight," said Mirus, "unless you wish to send her forth there."

"It is so on the schedule?" asked Hendow.

"Yes," said Mirus.

"Very well," said Hendow, and then continued on his way, through the curtain, out to the public area.

I looked up at Mirus.

"Stand," he said.

I did so. Then I was before him, again. My hands were still behind my back. He looked at me.

I lifted my rib cage a little. I pulled my arms back a bit, further accentuating my figure.

"Please," I whimpered.

"You should be returned to the slave area," he said, "or put in your kennel, where you belong."

"I do not belong in my kennel now," I pouted.

"Where do you belong now?" he asked.

"In your arms," I said.

"I do not think Hendow is pleased that I should hold you," he said. "I am free to all his men," I said, "and you are one of his men." "True," he said.

"Will you not summon me to your quarters tonight?" I asked, plaintively. "It is perhaps better that I not do so," he mused.

"As Master pleases," I said, indifferently, shrugging. I did not dare, of course, take my hands from behind my back.

He looked at me, and I tossed my head, haughtily, and looked away from him. I had not been dismissed yet, of course. I could not see his eyes, but I supposed he was considering whether or not I should be whipped. It could be done to me as simply as by his whim.

"So you think you are a free woman?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said.

"I thought you might," he said.

"No, Master," I said. "I am under no delusion on that score."

He must have been looking at me. I had the feeling I was being looked at, as a slave.

"Am I dismissed?" I asked.

"Beware," he said.

"Perhaps I have concealed a coin in my halter," I said, "or in a fold of my slave silk."

"Have you?" he asked, amused.

"You will not know, will you," I asked, "unless you have checked?" "You look well in slave silk," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said.

"You would look better without it," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said. He then unknotted the silk of the halter, from about my neck, and behind my back, and drew it away from me. I stood as close to him as I could, without actually daring to touch him.

I saw him lean forward and, his eyes briefly closed, revel in the scent of my perfume. It was perfume of a sort not worn by free women on Gor. It was slave perfume. Such perfume says to men, in effect, "This is a slave. Use her as you will."

"Are you haughty now?" he asked.

"No," I said.

"There are tears in your eyes," he said.

"My need is on me," I said, "and I am helpless."

He dropped the silk to the floor, beside him.

"You may kneel," he said.

Swiftly I knelt, and then looked up at him.

"Speak," he said.

"I, Doreen, the slave, beg use," I said.

He looked down upon me.

I squirmed on my knees before him, in misery and frustration, my hands behind my back.

"You are ready, aren" t you?" he asked.

"Yes, Master!" I said.

"Please touch me!" I wept.

"You beg it?" he said.

"Yes, Master!" I wept. "I beg it!"

"Since first I saw you, when I had unroped the shipping blanket, and put its folds to the sides, revealing you, helplessly manacled, when you first came to the house from Market of Semris," he said, "I dreamed that you would one day be so hot and needful before me, and would beg me for my touch."

I was astonished and delighted to hear this, that so mighty a man as this Gorean master, second in this house to Hendow, my master, might have found me attractive, and from so long ago. But this did not, of course, relieve in the least the desperate needs I felt. It did not reduce my tensions. It did not diminish or assuage my sufferings. I still knelt helpless before him. "It is interesting," he said, "what can be done with a woman."

"Please, Master!" I wept. I who had once been Doreen Williamson, a shy, lovely librarian on Earth, had now begun to feel slave needs. To be sure, at that time, kneeling before Mirus, I had no idea how acute such things could become. He looked down at me, amused.

"Mock me as a needful slave," I said, "but I beg of you, touch me!" He was silent.

"I am a naked slave," I said. "I kneel before you! I beg use!"

he savored my desperation. I wished for a foolish moment that I might be again like a woman of Earth, one without needs, or with such low need levels as to be for most practical purposes inert, or with need so rigidly and effectively suppressed as to provide a functional surrogate for such inertness, or, perhaps, even one who might, with some convincingness, pretend to such things. To have no needs, if, indeed, there were women truly without them, would be a tragedy, and if one had any need at all, then it would be only a matter of time until under Gorean tutelage they were revealed, deepened and enlarged; until they were imperiously summoned forth into the open for inspection and encouragement; they would then be cultivated; they would be forced to grow, in both size and intensity; they would soon become such that they would begin to surface periodically and irresistibly within her, like forces of nature, she is powerless to alter or effect them as she would be to alter or effect the tides, the rotation of the earth, the risings and settings of the sun. Too, they would always be with her, ready and meaningful, never far beneath the surface. This would constitute a condition of her existence. She would come to realize hat, as the Goreans say, "slave fires had been lit in her belly." She would learn, too, that these fires, even when they seemed most inert, could be suddenly fanned into raging, consuming flames by as little as a command, a glance or touch. Such things the girl must learn to cope with. It does not matter, of course, for she is only a slave. I myself, of course, do not object to such things. I have learned on this world that the insensitivity of tissue is not an indication of virtue but of physiological inferiority.

I looked up at Mirus, tears in my eyes. I was now without pride. I was now only a naked, needful slave. I squirmed before him. I could not attempt to relieve my own tensions, as my hands, by his will, had been bound behind me. Yet for all my anguish I would not have wanted to be other than I was. I had not known such needs, such feelings, such emotions could exist. I was a thousand times more alive than I had ever been on Earth. And complementary, of course, to the pain of such deep needs, the other side of the coin, so to speak, are the incredible fulfillments of having them satisfied, fulfillments in the light of which the anguish of the needs, terrible though it was, then seems negligible. We may be totally at the mercy of masters, and as mere animals, and even to our lives, but just as it is within the power of these uncompromising brutes who own us to do as they wish with us, so, too, it is within their power, when it pleases them, to grant us transport to ineffable raptures, to fling us ecstasies of which the free woman can not begin to conceive.

"The woman of Earth begs use?" he said.

"Yes!" I said. "She begs use!"

"That is not typical for a woman of Earth, is it?" he asked.

"I do not know!" I could certainly imagine myself kneeling before a Greek or Roman master, or a harnessmaker in Damascus, his Christian slave, in the 14th Century, or a Barbary prince, a captured, harem-silked English lady who had not had time to learn something of the touch of men, in the 19th, and doing so. Indeed, I had wondered sometime if, in a former life, or lives, I might not have done so. The thought of this sort of thing, oddly enough, did not seem unfamiliar to me. To be sure, I have deep and urgent female needs, and had had them, even on Earth. To be sure, they had not been ignited on Earth as they were ignited now, and, too, at this time, of course, I did not have any idea as to how deep and urgent and progressively overwhelming, they could become later. I was still only, in effect, a new slave, and new to the rigors of my condition. I had not yet begun to learn my collar.

He looked at me.

"Surely I am not the first woman from Earth whom you have had at your feet, begging," I said.

"No," he admitted.

"What?" I asked.

"No," he repeated.

"More than one?" I asked.

"Of course," he said.

"Oh," I said. Immediately I felt a wave of jealousy for those other girls. "We learn quickly enough to beg on Gor, do we not?" I asked. "Yes," he said.

"I am here," I said. "I am at your feet. I am naked, collared and owned. I beg use. I can do nothing more." I looked up at him. I must now wait. He would do with me as he saw fit.

"Perhaps I should send you out on the floor," he said.

"Not tonight," I begged. "Use me yourself!"

"The schedules could be rearranged," he mused.

"As Master wills," I said, bitterly. I was, of course, at the mercy of his schedules.

"Perhaps I could warm you for Hendow" s customers," he speculated. "Warm me?" I laughed, bitterly. "I am already flaming!"

"If I sent you forth on the floor in your present condition," he said, "you would probably belly to the first male whose sandals you saw."

"Perhaps, Master," I said, bitterly. If he was so cruel as to deny me his touch, of course, I would, driven by my needs, have to made do elsewhere. It was Mirus, of course, who had not lit these flames in my belly. It was for him that they burned. The particular man is terribly important to the woman. He is a part of the whole that enflames her. To be sure, the slave is so needful and alive that it is not hard for her to see the beauty in any man. If I were sent forth upon the floor, however, in my condition, as it was, I do not think I would have bellied to the first man I saw. I would still have been able to look about, and select one out, one suitable incendiary to the wholeness of my need, and then prostrate myself before him. no, I was not so desperate that I would have bellied to the first man I saw. At that time, I did not even realize I could ever be so desperate as to do that. I would learn later, however, that I was wrong.

"But if you were to do that," he said, "it might not fit in as well as one might wish with the new image of the tavern, as we have now upgraded our dA©cor, slave silk for the girls, and such, and service."

"Oh?" I asked.

"We would not want them thinking the paga slaves of the tavern of Hendow were too easy," he said.

"Of course not," I said, puzzled.

"They must play hard to get," he said.

"A slave?" I asked. I could imagine being punished terribly for such a thing. We must run to a man eagerly, at his least summons. We could be «gotten» as easily as by a snapping of the fingers.

"Some fellows would like to think that the girls had at least taken a look at him before they flung themselves to their belly at his feet."

"I understand," I said.

"Of course he may simply pick out one that pleases his fancy, and summon her to his table, and command her.

"Of course, Master," I said.

"You seem puzzled," he said.

"How, really," I asked, "are we to play hard to get?"

"You must make certain he has paid for his drink first," he said.

"Ah, I see," I smiled. "Master sports with the slave." I had thought that perhaps he had been referring to something I had heard about in training, the dangerous, "pretended disinterest" sometimes commanded by masters of their girls, usually with respect to supper guests to whom he intends to lend her for the night. She must then, even if her belly is raging for the touch of the guest, attempt to pretend to disinterest in him, and even loathing, if the master wishes, though she must, of course, serve him with perfection. She then, gradually, permits herself to let her true feelings appear, thus attempting to give the impression of having been seduced by him, and then, later, after a suitable time, she is honestly piteous, kneeling beside him, licking and kissing. He then sends her to his room, that she may prepare it, and herself, for him. most masters, however, do not do this sort of thing for it is meretricious, and, at best, a joke. Too, it can be dangerous to the girl, as she is usually under the obligation, at least by the seventh Ahn, if he has not penetrated to the heart of the matter by then, which is usually the case to inform the use master of her master" s jest, which intelligence he might or might not appreciate. Many girls have been whipped for such things, which are not really their fault. They are only obeying, as they must. But then a girl must sometimes expect the whip, I suppose. She is, after all, a slave. On the other hand, few men will whip a girl for having pretended not to be attracted to him, if she is actually attracted to him, particularly if she has done so under her master" s orders. Such devices, of course, but without the authenticity and ultimate surrender, are often resorted to by "lure girls," slaves who serve as bait for captains who need crewmen, masters of work gangs, and such. Such work can be very dangerous, given the astuteness of many Gorean masters. Such a pretense, however, can be maintained with many men for at least a few minutes, and with some men for an hour or so, which is generally more than enough time for the purposes of the master, and the master" s men, unobtrusively, are usually near at hand. It is not unknown, of course, for a girl who serves at such a supper, and is genuinely disinterested, or repulsed, by a given guest, to be given to him for the night. Such things can amuse the master and the guest. Too, they tend to be good for the girl" s discipline.

I looked up at him.

"Yes" he said.

"We are to remain, then, full paga slaves," I said.

"Yes, though now, at least occasionally, silked," he said.

"I understand, Master," I said.

"The only difference," he said, "is that such silk may now be pulled away by the master, or discarded instantly, upon command, by the slave."

"Yes, Master," I smiled. We were still to be hot, and ready, paga slaves, eager to serve, and fully, the silk no more than an invitation to its removal. This was not much different, incidentally, than what was the case in even the most prestigious paga taverns. In such places free women were generally not permitted. In them, usually, the only women to be found would be collared slaves, generally belonging either to the tavern keeper or the guests, who may have brought them in, to avail themselves of the facilities of the alcoves. In such places, the mastery was practiced. Such places, regardless of their cost, their location, their appointments, the excellence of their food and drink, the beauty of their slaves, the quality of their music, existed, as did the tavern of Hendow, for the pleasures of men. That was the purpose of such places, whether they were within lofty towers, reached by graceful bridges, or near the wharves, close enough to hear the tide lapping at the pilings, whether they had a dozen musicians or only a single, dissolute czehar player, alone with his music, whether the girls were richly silked or stark naked, save for brands and collars, whether there were chains of gold and luxurious furs in the alcoves or only wire and straw mats. They were paga slaves.

"But perhaps we should make an exception in your case," he said.

"Master?" I asked.

"Perhaps it is better if we do not let them know that Doreen, the dancer, is such a hot slave."

I looked at him, frightened.

"If she seems more prideful, colder, more haughty and aloof, perhaps it will be better for the tavern, as the fellows may look forward them to commanding her in an alcove, melting her defenses, and then, she now abjectly tamed, turning her into only another squeaking, writhing paga slut."

"It will be done with me as Masters please," I said. "But am I commanded to attempt to conceal my passion?"

"No," he said. "You are not that kind of dancer. You are too beautiful, and needful. You must be as you are, vulnerable, hot and marvelous."

"Thank you, Master," I said. "Once more you sport with a slave." "Do you mind?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said. As if it mattered what a slave might mind!

He smiled.

"It is only another way in which you toy with me," I said.

"Are you still hot?" he inquired.

"Yes!" I said.

"Do you still beg?" he inquired.

"Yes, yes yes!" I said.

"Then," said he, "I think we may now send you to your kennel, in a belly chain, its lock at your navel, your hands braceleted closely behind you, to the chain." "Please, no, Master!" I wept.

But he was then crouching before me, and had swept me into his arms. My head was back, my eyes closed. His strength was overwhelming. I felt my softness lost somehow within that embrace. "Unbind me," I begged. "Let me hold you!" "No," he muttered, his voice thick with the wanting of me.

I must try to keep my hands together behind my back!

Then he put me to my back, and not gently, on the tiles in the passageway, near the beaded curtain. My body leapt to him and closed gratefully about him. I was joyful, held. I was collared. Tomorrow my back would be bruised from the tiles. I cried out, knowing the bliss of bondage.

"It is time you were taught submission," he said.

"I submit!" I said. "I submit!"

"You are unbound," he said.

Swiftly I pulled my hands free and grasped him.

"You are an incredible pleasure slave," he said.

"Master!" I wept.

"You need only this world, and the collar to bring it out," he said. "Yes," I whispered to him. "Please, please."

I was enraptured, as a female, and a slave.

"Master!" I cried, softly.

"So the female of Earth now calls men Master," he said.

"Yes, Master! Yes, Master!" I said.

Of course I would call me "Master!" They were my masters, and not only in the order of nature, but here, too, in the order of law.

I felt overwhelmed in his arms, and could not believe the feelings I felt. I uttered a tiny, plaintive cry, asking for a little respite, for a moment of mercy.

It was granted to me.

I looked at Mirus. I had always wanted, even on Earth, thought I had feared it, too, to be at the mercy of men so powerful, so magnificent and commanding, that in relation to them I could, in all right, justice and propriety, be only a slave. Then I had been brought to Gor, where I had found such me, and, too, had found myself in a collar, theirs.

I moaned softly. Then I said, "Oh," startled.

"Perhaps you are ready, Earth woman," he said, "for a slave orgasm." "Master?" I asked.

"You have a responsive body," he said. "Thus, even thought you have not been a slave long, it is possible you are ready for such an orgasm."

"Yes, Master," I said.

I was trying, wildly, to recollect that feeling, that hint of feeling, which I had just felt.

How could he have done that to me? How could anyone have done that to me? "Are you listening?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said. I tried to pry myself loose from my sensations, but it was not easy, locked as I was in his arms.

"I think you might be ready for your first slave orgasm," he said.

"I do not understand, Master," I said.

"It is time, I think, that you made a beginning in such things."

"Yes, Master," I whimpered. "Ai!" I suddenly said. "Oh!"

It had been done again to me.

I looked at him, wildly.

"No," he said. "You will not be shown mercy."

I moaned.

"It is pleasant to hold you in my arms," he said.

(pg 248) "Find me pleasing," I begged. "Please, find me pleasing!" I did not want him to stop, for anything.

"You are not without interest," he said.

I cried out, softly. I began to whimper.

"Is anything wrong?" he asked.

"No, no!" I said.

"Do you want me to stop?" he asked.

"No!" I said.

"No, what?" he inquired, politely.

"No, Master, Master, Master!" I sobbed. "Forgive me, Master!"

I cried out, startled. I began to make soft, helpless noises.

As I had noted before, as early as the house of my training, women of diverse backgrounds, for example, those of Earth and Gor, make much the same noises while being ravished. These noises are to be distinguished from conventional exclamations, which do tend to be culture bound. I had discovered, too, that I made such noises.

"Oh!" I said, softly.

Suddenly I clutched him. I had again felt the sensation. Then I was afraid. "Master!" I said.

"Do not be afraid," he said. "Your body is being honed, and trained." I clutched him again, and gasped.

"Yes," he said, "you will give masters much pleasure."

Masters, I thought? Does he not know what he is doing to me! Can he be ignorant of the thinks I myself was feeling?

"You will do well," he said. "You are a deliciously servile little beast." "It is my hope that I will be pleasing to masters," I said. Did he not know what he was making me feel?

"I think you are now ready for the first of your slave orgasms," he said. "Master?" I asked.

"Inducing them in a slave is one of the pleasures of the mastery," he said. "Forgive me, Master," I said. "You are giving me great pleasure. But I do not even know what you are talking about."

"At first," he said, "you will be capable of only small ones, but do not fear, you will grow in such things."

"I do not understand," I said.

"You are very beautiful, and soft, and are in my arms," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said. I was grateful that he should speak in so kindly a fashion to me.

"And you are naked, and collared, and owned," he said.

"Yes, Master," I whispered.

"What are you?" he asked.

"I am a slave, Master," I said, puzzled.

"And do you surrender wholly to your masters, and yield totally to them?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I whispered. I knew that I could not lie in things of this sort. Gorean masters, or many of them, were skilled in reading women. My Master, Hendow, was frightening adept at this. Too, I did not think that I could fool Mirus either in such matters. When a girl" s more secret thoughts can be read as easily as slave numbers written on her breast her only viable option is total honesty, and as complete submission was required of Gorean slave girls her only practical recourse under such stringent circumstances is either to choose death or become in true reality a full slave, in her heart, in her mind and in her behavior. In short, as deception is impossible, the girl must either choose death or the reality of true bondage.

"You will now prepare to yield," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said, suddenly, startled, then beginning to understand the orgasm in the natural matrix of male dominance, and intensified by the fixing, enhancement and intensification of this within the institution of total female slavery. When I yielded it would not only as a female to a male, but as slave to a master!

No longer then could I even hear the noises of the tavern beyond the curtain. There was now only myself and Mirus.

"Let me yield!" I begged.

"Wait!" he said.

I was collared!

"Please!" I wept.

I was naked, and in the arms of a man whose sandals I was not fit to lick. "Master!" I begged.

Must not what might remain in me of the proud Earth woman attempt to resist this?

"Master!" I cried.

"No," he said, sternly.

But what might remain in me of the Earth woman was utterly powerless!

"Please, please!" I whispered.

"No," he said.

Then what might have remained in me of the Earth woman was gone and in her place there was now only a terrified Gorean slave on the brink of she knew not what.

I was not simply going to be fondled or kissed, with attentions appropriate to the bland etiquettes of Earth. I was to be conquered!

"Please!" I wept.

"No," he said.

I would not be permitted to retain a shred of dignity or pride. My yielding would not be of the sort of yieldings approved of on Earth, those mild, meaningless ripples of sensation, indicative of acceptable congenialities, the most that many of Earth, it seems, could manage, but would be rather the result of his will and power, of his enforcements and determination, the exercise over me of his strength, making me helpless, having me as he wanted me, owning me. It would not be a compromised act. It would be a complete act, a fulfillment, for him and also for me. It would manifest his power, and my weakness, his triumph and my shattering, and overwhelming. It would be an act of his uncompromising power, imposed upon me, which I, the female could not resist.

"Let me yield!" I begged.

"Wait," he said.

I moaned. I did not want polite love. I wanted to know that I was in the hands of a man who was capable of being excited, and whom I excited, who found me truly marvelous, to whose fury of power I appeared whose fierce and voracious appetites I triggered. I wanted to be in the arms of a true man. I did not want to be possibly mistaken about whether I had been had or not. I did not want to be touched as though I might break. I did not wish to be in danger of drowsing off during the making of love. I wanted his to own and master me, and whip me if I was not pleasing.

"I am ready!" I said. "I beg to submit, and as slave!"

"Not yet," he said.

I began to weep with wanting to yield.

He was not simply going to enjoy me, or pleasure himself with me. He was asserting the mastery upon me. I was not merely to be used even used as a mere slave, as it sometimes amuses Gorean masters to do with us. I was going to yield, and fully. I was not simply having love made to me. The experience was far more meaningful and devastating than simply that. I was being dominated, and mastered. I was to yield, and I had to, as a slave, totally!

"Please!" I wept.

"No," he said.

I was to be vanquished, utterly.

"Please!" I said.

"Will it be necessary to gag you?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said.

"Are you ready?" he asked.

"Yes, yes, Master!" I wept.

"You may then yield," he said, "a€”as a slave."

I then yielded to him, and wholly, and without compromises, as slave girl to a master.

I then looked up at him, wildly, disbelievingly.

"Master," I whispered, acknowledging that it was right that I belonged to men. I then lay in his arms, an incredulous, frightened slave girl. The experience had been a whole, the context conditioned by my abject surrender, by our relationship, that of master and slave.

Gently he kissed me.

I had not known on Earth that such men could exist. I had only dreamed of them, men to whom I could be rightfully only on abject slave. But now on Gor I was subject to such men. And now, naked and collared, I lay in the arms of one. "What was it?" I begged. "What was it you did to me?"

"Nothing," he said.

"Master!" I protested.

"It was a slave orgasm," he said.

I trembled in his arms.

"Surely such would be appropriate enough for you," he said.

"Yes, Master!" I said.

I have had a slave orgasm, I thought, wonderingly.

"It was a small one," he said, "to be sure."

"Small!" I said. "Take pity, I beg you, Master, on a poor slave. Do not mock her so."

I had never experienced anything of that power, of that nature, before. I was still shaken from it. In its grip, I had been overwhelmed, utterly helpless. "You will grow in such things," he said. "They are small in the beginning." "There can be more?" I asked.

"You are only at the beginning of what men can make you feel, Doreen, slave girl," he said.

I shuddered. I had never hitherto guessed that the power of men over me could be so great.

"Do you wish to feel such things again and more?" he asked.

"Yes," I whispered. "Yes!" How much we were at their mercy! They held over us not only the power of pain but also that of pleasure. They had now, in the person of Mirus, let me have a taste of incredible pleasure, perhaps that I might then have some inkling as to what such things could be. Now they could either grant me such pleasures, or withhold them from me, as they wished. I would obey with perfection, trying to please them!

"What is it that you would wish to have again?" he asked.

"Please do not make me say it, Master," I begged.

"What is going on here?" asked a voice.

Swiftly Mirus and I drew apart. I knelt, my head to the tiles. He stood. "You took her here, in the passageway?" asked Hendow, my master.

"Yes," said Mirus.

I could not see the face of Hendow, but I sensed that he was not pleased. Mirus seemed uneasy before him. I was frightened.

"You are training her?" asked Hendow.

"Yes," said Mirus.

"Here?" asked Hendow.

"I also enjoyed her," said Mirus, angrily.

"How is she?" asked Hendow.

I reddened.

"She is good, for a new slave," said Mirus.

The performance, the responses, and such, of slaves, may be discussed openly, as those of other animals.

"Did she yield?" asked Hendow.

"Yes," said Mirus.

"Wholly?" asked Hendow.

"Yes," said Mirus, angrily.

"Look up, slave," said Hendow.

I obeyed, instantly.

"Did you yield?" asked Hendow.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Wholly?" asked Hendow.

"Yes, Master," I whispered.

"To him?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said, frightened.

"Did she attain slave orgasm?" asked Hendow.

"Yes," said Mirus.

"Slave?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"That is your first, is it not?" asked Hendow.

"Yes, Master," I whispered.

"Perhaps you would have preferred to have brought her to this point yourself," said Mirus. "If so, I did not know. In such a case, had you made your wishes known to me, I would surely have respected them."

"What difference does it make," asked Hendow, "who induces the first slave orgasm in a slave?"

"No difference, of course," said Mirus. He shrugged.

"Did you like it, slave?" asked Hendow. I had never seen him like this. "Yes, Master," I whispered.

"Is that all?" he asked.

"I loved it," I whispered, terrified.

"What was it you loved?" asked Hendow, angrily.

I looked at him, aghast. I was bashful, and shy. I was timid. I was from Earth. I did not want to say such words.

"She is a new slave," said Mirus. "Perhapsa€”"

"Be silent!" said Hendow.

Mirus stiffened, as though he had been slapped. I was startled. How could Hendow have spoken to a free person in this fashion? Never had I seen him as he was. "With your leave," said Mirus, coldly.

"Stay," said Hendow.

"I did not know the slave was of interest to you," said Mirus.

"She is meaningless, as is any other slave," said Hendow.

"Of course," said Mirus.

Then Hendow looked at me, again. His eyes were fierce. I must answer. It was painful for me. On Earth I had even been reluctant even to describe the liberating sort of dance I loved so much by such an expression as "belly dance". I quailed before that gaze. It was the gaze of my master.

"My slave orgasm," I whispered.

"Speak up, slave," said Hendow.

"My slave orgasm," I said. I shuddered to hear such words coming from me. "And you want more of them, don" t you?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said, my eyes suddenly filling with tears. How helpless I was before such men.

"And desperately so?" he said.

"Yes, Master!" I wept.

"You perhaps understand now," he said, "that there is more to slavery than collars and chains."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"You are more thoroughly imbonded now than ever before," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said. It was true. I wanted such incredible sensations. I would do anything for them. To be granted them I would strive to be a perfect slave. I suddenly put my head in my hands, weeping.

"Hendow," protested Mirus.

"Have you counted the coins?" asked Hendow.

"Not yet," said Mirus, angrily.

"Perhaps you should consider doing so, when you can find the time," said Hendow. "Of course," said Mirus, angrily. "Do you want the slave send out on the floor, or to your quarters?"

"It was my understanding that in the schedules she was not to go on the floor this evening."

"Yes," said Mirus. "I shall have her cleaned and sent to your quarters." "No," said Hendow. "She is to be put in her kennel, belly chained and braceleted, hands behind her back."

"I will see to it," said Mirus.

"Tupita will see to it," said Hendow.

"Of course," said Mirus.

Hendow then turned about, and left. I put my head quickly to the tiles, as he left, and then raised it. I looked, then, at Mirus.

"I do not understand," said Mirus, looking after Hendow. "I do not understand." "Master?" I asked.

"Hendow is my friend," said Mirus. "We would die for one another." "Master," I said, lifting my hand to Mirus.

"No," he said, angrily. He stepped back. I gasped. His attitude was now so different than it had been. he looked at me. "But you are beautiful, aren" t you, Doreen?" he said.

"I do not know, Master," I whispered.

"It is true enough," he said, bitterly. "Perhaps you are even too beautiful." I put my head down.

"But you are only a slave," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

He then turned away from me, and went through the curtain. "Tupita!" I heard him call. "Tupita!"

But it was not Tupita, at first, who came into the passageway. It was Sita, in her silk. She knelt down beside me. "What is wrong?" she whispered to me.

"I do not know," I said.

"Is there trouble with Mirus?" she asked.

"Hendow is angry, I think," I said.

"It has to do with you," she said.

"I think so," I said.

"You may have favor with Hendow," she whispered.

"I do not think so," I said.

"There are rumors about," whispered Sita. "Have you hear them, that there may be a new first girl?"

"I have heard something about it," I said. "I do not know if it is true." "Speak well for Sita," she whispered.

"But you are the friend of Tupita," I said.

"Tupita has no friends," she said.

I looked at Sita, puzzled.

"Speak well for Sita, with the masters," she said. "If I am first girl, you will be second.""It is thought that Tupita is losing her control of the girls," I said. There were twenty-seven of us.

"She is," said Sita. "I have seen to it. Who do you think has undermined her?" "To how many of us have you offered the post of second girl?" I asked. "Only to you," she said.

I smiled.

"It is true," she whispered. "With the others I needed only rely on Tupita" s unpopularity, her arbitrariness, her favoritisms, and, naturally, the promise of an easier time under me."

"Why am I so special?" I asked.

"Because of Hendow," she whispered.

"I do not understand," I said.

"He likes you," she whispered. "I am sure of it."

"No," I said. "I am only a meaningless slave to him."

"Men kill for slaves," said Sita.

I shuddered.

"Speak well for Sita," she whispered.

The beaded curtain parted and Tupita entered the passageway.

Sita sprang to her feet. "You are a stupid slave," she cried to me. "You must learn to better please men!"

"Yes, Mistress," I said.

"What is wrong with Mirus?" asked Tupita. "I have never seem him so angry." "It has to do with Hendow," said Sita. "He is angry with Mirus." "It has to do with this slave?" asked Tupita.

"Yes," said Sita. "I have made her confess. Look at her. You can see she has been recently used."

"Here?" said Tupita.

"Apparently," said Sita.

"Return to the floor," she said.

"Tupita!" protested Sita.

"There is a fellow at table fifteen. He is depressed. He is having problems with his companion at home. Belly to him. Console him."

"Yes, Mistress," said Sita, and went back to the floor.

"So there is trouble between Mirus and Hendow?" she asked.

"Perhaps, Mistress," I said. "I do not know."

"And it is over you?"

"Perhaps, Mistress," I said. "I do not know."

"I wonder how that could be," she said. Then she walked about me, looking at me. "Yes," she said. "I suppose it is possible." She stopped in front of me. "Do you know what is to be done with you?"

"I am to be kenneled, belly chained and back-braceleted," I said.

"So you were used here?" she said, looking about.

"Yes, Mistress," I said.

"That is my impetuous Mirus," she said.

I was silent.

"Did you yield well to him?" she asked.

"Yes, Mistress," I whispered.

"He teaches us our slavery well, doesn" t he?" she asked.

"Yes, Mistress," I whispered. "Please do not whip me, Mistress." "Why would I do that?" she asked, lightly.

"I thought you might be angry," I said, "about Mirus."

"We are all free to the men of the house," she said. "And you are pretty." "You are not angry with me?" I asked.

"Of course not," she said. "What were you to do? You are only a slave." "Thank you, Mistress," I said.

"Follow me to the kennels," she said. "I will chain and bracelet you there. Too, I will not make the belly chain any tighter than necessary."

"Thank you, Mistress," I said.

"And I will bring you a pastry later from the kitchen," she said, "and put it on the floor of your kennel. Though you will not be able to use your hands I expect that you will enjoy it, just the same.

"Thank you, Mistress," I said.

"Speak well of me to Hendow," she said.

"Yes, Mistress," I said.

"If I am kept on as first girl," she said, "I will make you third girl, second only to myself and Sita."

"Thank you, Mistress," I said.

I then rose to my feet and followed here down the passageway, to the stairs leading to the basement, where most of the kennels were. She was as good as her word, and did not make the belly chain tighter then necessary, and, too, she brought me a pastry later from the kitchen."

"Speak well of me to Hendow," she said.

"Yes, Mistress," I said.

I then, lying on my side, and turning my head, ate the pastry. Afterwards, as I could, with my teeth, I pulled the blanket up about me. I then lay there in the darkness, in the kennel. I pulled a little at the slave bracelets. They were not too tight, but they were on me snugly and well. They would hold me, perfectly. I remembered what a man had done to me, and how much of a slave he had made me. Hendow had told me later that I was never so thoroughly imbonded as now. I remembered the sensations. It was true. I did not know whether to weep with the power of men over me, or cry out with joy. I did not know. I was a slave, and, in spite of its vulnerabilities and terrors, loved it. I would try to serve well.

I was frightened by the intrigues of the slaves, Tupita and Sita, and the other girls. I did not really want to be involved in them.

I lay there then and loved the men of Gor. I had not really, in spite of strong feelings and intuitions on Earth, begun to understand my sex until I was imbonded, until I found myself in my place in nature, subservient to men. I now loved my sex. I now loved being a woman. It was marvelous, and wonderful!

14 Punishment

I knelt on the rug at the foot of the dais, that surmounted by the curule chair of my master, Hendow, of Brundisium. My head was to the rug, the palms of my hands on the floor. I had been summoned into his presence.

I trembled, kneeling before him, my head down.

I was afraid in this room. I had been here, before. It was the receiving chamber of my master, Hendow. Too, to one side was the panel which opened, admitted the gray hunting sleen, Borko. Somewhere in the dark, simple, terrible brain of that beast my name and scent had been imprinted. It could now be commanded with respect to me, even in my absence.

I trembled.

I did not know why I had been summoned into the presence of my master.

"Lift your head," said Hendow, of Brundisium, "stand."

I obeyed.

"Approach me," he said, "and kneel there, before the chair.

I climbed the broad, carpeted steps of the dais, and knelt before him. He leaned forward. "Turn your head to the left," he said. "Now, turn it to the right." "Good," he said.

My ears had been pierced. It had been done yesterday morning. The metal worker had put tiny, circular training pins in them, to keep the wounds from closing. I was relieved. It seemed my master had only wished to inspect the results of the metal worker" s work. Too, I was pleased to note that he seemed pleased with the work.

"You may now return to the foot of the dais, and stand," he said.

I backed down, my head down, to the foot of the dais, and then stood there, erect and graceful before my master, as would be expected of a female slave. I expected to be dismissed.

But I was not dismissed.

I became afraid, again. "May I kneel, Master?" I asked.

I would feel more comfortable kneeling in the presence of Hendow, such a man. Too, as I was frightened, it would be easier, in a kneeling position, not to falter, or fall.

"No," he said.

I remained standing. I trembled. Standing as I was, and at the foot of the dais, I feared he would have little difficulty in reading my body. My slightest tremor, or the slightest weakness in my legs would be visible to him.

"The metal worker did his work well," he said. "Your ears are excellently pierced."

"Yes, Master," I said. "Thank you, Master." I was pleased, too, of course, that the work had been well done. Indeed, I was eager to adorn myself with such devices, that I might be rendered even more attractive to men. Too, I had some understanding of the meaning of earrings to Gorean males, and the effects upon them of such things.

"Remove your garment," he said.

I reached to the disrobing loop at the left shoulder of the brief silken tunic I wore. It was opaque silk, for it was morning, and not the diaphanous silk we customarily wore in the evening, when on the floor, when serving our master" s customers. Silk such as this we might even wear outside the tavern. To be sure, it was silk such as would be worn only by a pleasure slave. We are dressed according to the preferences of men. I had never, incidentally, been allowed outside the tavern grounds. I did have the liberty, at certain times, of walking in, and exercising in, a small, enclosed back court of the tavern.

Then I was naked before him, the garment at my feet.

He regarded me.

I was now more sure than ever that he wanted to read my body. I trembled. Sometimes it seemed to me that he could look upon me, and know my most secret thoughts. I caught myself, my knees weak. I regained my balance.

"Are you afraid?" he asked.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Why?" he asked.

"I am in the presence of my master," I said.

He continued to look upon me.

I then breathed more confidently. It seemed to me then that perhaps he only wished, really, to look upon my beauty, if beauty it were. Such things are not unusual with Gorean masters. It is not uncommon with them to have their girls strip, and turn before them, and assume attitudes and poses, and move in certain ways, and such. Gorean men, like lusty males generally, have an incredible appreciation of female beauty. Too, in the case of the slave, they own the girl. Thus they may command her, and have her perform, and precisely, as it pleases them, and she must, of course, obey with perfection. She is their slave. I suppose this is in part, at least, the result of an understandable desire to appreciate and take pleasure in one" s possessions, or what one might regard as one" s precious objects, or treasures. For example, we would not think it strange if a fellow of Earth, once in a while, drew forth his coin or stamp collection and spent some time lovingly pouring over it, scrutinizing and inspecting its items and such. He is very fond of them. Similarly, if it seems understandable that, say, a high magistrate, a general, a Ubar, or such, might enjoy sitting in his pleasure gardens and inspecting his women, having them before him naked, or clothed according to his preferences, it is just as understandable that a less rich or well-fixed person might, similarly, on a more modest level, enjoy the sight of his girl, or girls, indeed, the fewer he has, perhaps the more he will relish the one, or ones, he had. If one is a male, and has, occasionally, perhaps on the street, or, say, on a bus or in a subway, seen a woman whom one found attractive, perhaps one has considered, with pleasure, what might be within the power of a master, an owner of the female in question, what it might be to be able to say, simply, perhaps giving her a name that pleases you, "Remove your garments, and perform." Those to whom such considerations are not incomprehensible, because they have low-level sexual drives will not be able to make much sense of it. When one has ordered the girl stripped, and perhaps required performances of her, and such, it is then not unusual that one would make use of her. On the other hand, it is not always done. Sometimes the master, having relished her beauty, merely had her reclothe herself and return to her labors. This sort of thing, needless to say, can be arousing, and frustrating, to the female slave. It is hard to remove your clothing before a man, and perhaps be forced to perform before him, naked, and not be sensible of the keenly disturbing stirrings of one" s own needs. "It is interesting," he said.

"Master?" I asked.

"You are quite beautiful," he said.

"Thank you, Master," I said.

"But surely there are many women as beautiful," he said.

"Master?" I asked, puzzled.

"What, then, is different about you?" he asked.

"I do not understand, Master," I said.

"Are you an Earth woman?" he asked.

"In a sense, Master," I said, "the sense in which I am a woman from Earth. In another sense I am not an Earth woman. I am now only a Gorean slave girl." "What have you learned on Gor?" he asked.

"I have leaned to call men «Master», I said.

"Is that well put?" he asked.

"Master?" I asked.

"Why do you call men «Master», he asked.

"I understand, Master," I said. "Forgive me, Master. I spoke imprecisely. I should have expressed myself more clearly."

He regarded me.

"I have learned on Gor that men are my masters," I said. It was true. "It is then suitable that you call them «Master», he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"I have had your ears pierced," he said.

"As it pleased you, Master," I said.

"You are now only a pierced-ear girl," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said, puzzled.

"Do you know what that means?" he asked.

"I am not sure," I said.

"Never hope, now, to be out of a collar," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said. I had gathered that he had, for some reason, or reasons, perhaps to make me more exciting to his customers, and men, in general, had my ears pierced. Too, in some way, I gathered, this had confirmed my slavery upon me, and made it a much more profound thing. But I did not care. I was a slave! "Do you know why I had your ears pierced?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said.

"There are various reasons for doing such a thing to a female slave," he said. "Master?" I asked.

"It improves her as a slave," he said. "It makes her more stimulatory, and more seductive. Too, it makes her more arousable, more excitable."

"Yes, Master," I said, blushing from head to toe.

"In this, too, there is an economic consideration. Such things improve her price."

"Of course, Master," I said.

"There are many reasons," he said. "Those are just a few."

"I understand, Master," I said.

"Too," he said, "in your case, I thought it particularly fitting." "Master?" I asked.

"You are a pierced-ear girl," he said, "and were, even before your ears were pierced."

"Yes, Master," I said, puzzled.

"I despise you," he said.

I put my head down. I did not doubt but what he might despise me. But, too, I suspected his feelings toward me were more complicated. I was sure they exceeded a simple contempt for a bond wench.

"And so," he said, "I have had your ears pierced."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"You belong in a collar," he said. "Now it has been seen to that you will remain in it."

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Are you not distressed, ashamed?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said.

"What a brazen, shameless slave," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"You like being a slave," he said.

"I am a slave," I said. "Thus I must acknowledge what is in my secret heart, confessing it openly, then finding my happiness and fulfillment in it." "You slit," he said. "You like being a slave."

"Yes, Master," I said. I supposed that I needed not tell him that I loved it! "We are thinking of appointing a new first girl," he said.

"I have heard rumors to that effect," I admitted.

"What do you think of Tupita?" he asked.

"I speak for her," I said.

He smiled. I supposed he knew how cruel Tupita had been to me, how we were enemies. On the other hand, I had told Tupita I would speak for her. Too, she had not belly chained and braceleted me as tightly as she might have, the night before last.

"Did she offer you the position of second girl for your support?" he asked. "Third girl," I said.

"Who would be second girl?" he asked.

"Sita," I said.

He smiled.

"Doubtless Tupita believes Sita to be her ally," he said. "Yes, Master," I said.

"What do you think of Sita, for first girl?" he asked.

"She would not decline the post," I said.

"Would you speak for her?" he said.

"Yes," I said. "I speak for Sita." I kept my head down. I did not really want to be involved in these intrigues.

"What did she promise you?" he asked.

"The position of second girl," I said.

"Clearly, then," he said, "you would wish to support Sita over Tupita." "No, Master," I said.

"You favor Tupita then," he said.

"I speak in support for both," I said.

"There can only be one first girl," he said.

"Yes, Master," I said.

"Whom do you favor?" he asked.

"Of the two, Tupita," I said.

"Why?" he asked.

"Sita is disloyal to Tupita," I said. "She betrays her. She pretends to be her friend, but is not."

"Do you think that Tupita, were their positions exchanged, would behave differently?" he asked.

"I do not know, Master," I said.

"And not because Tupita gave you a pastry?" he asked.

I looked at him, startled.

"I have had her whipped for it," he said. "She must want the position of first girl very badly, to risk stealing a pastry. To be sure, she doubtless did not expect to be found out."

"Master?" I asked.

"The missing pastry was noted by the kitchen master," he said. "Only Tupita, first girl, other than staff, and assigned kitchen slaves, had had access to the area before it had been seen to be missing. Her fingers, licked, had sugar on them. Crumbs were found the next morning in your kennel."

"I see," I said.

"She was given only five lashes," he said.

"Master is generous," I said. It could have been a thousand, or she could have been slain. She was only a slave.

"What do you think of Aynur?" he asked.

"I think she would be a good first girl," I said.

"Can you think of any better?" he asked.

"No, Master," I said.

"Apparently both Tupita and Sita wished to enlist your support in their cause," he said.

"I think each tried to speak to several of the girls," I said.