"Please sir, I don't have the money," Mr. Havely said shaking in his boots. He had done it again, gambled more than he could pay. And this was the worst man for it to happen with, too. His ruthlessness was well known to everyone.
"Well, what do you suppose we do about that?" Casper Jenkins asked, bored with the man's pleading and begging, he just wanted to collect his money and go home.
"Please, I can get you the money. Just give me a little time," Mr. Havely begged, he didn't want to be in debt to this man, but it was the only way.
"And what if I don't feel like waiting? I think I shall just take the price out of your flesh now," came the cold-hearted response. And Mr. Havely knew that he would, too, and there was no chance of fighting back with Casper Jenkins's henchmen around.
"Please sir, I'll do anything. What do you want?" Mr. Havely was desperate now.
"You have nothing that I want," Casper said, realizing that he wasn't going to get his money, and curious what this man would offer to save himself.
"There must be something," Mr. Havely said, then paused, presumably to think, "I have a very beautiful daughter," he said at last, "and she would gladly do anything to save her father, even allow you to sample her charms." Casper couldn't believe the depths this man would sink to, making his daughter pay for his debt.
"Yes, I'll take your daughter," Casper said, and Mr. Havely breathed a sigh of relief, "But not just for a night, I want her forever. You will give up all rights to her and she will be mine," he finished.
"That's not what I meant," Mr. Havely said, now just realizing what an asset his daughter could be in these situations and not wanting to lose her just yet.
"Oh, I'm sorry, did you have something to say?" Casper asked. Mr. Havely shut up and shook his head. Oh well, at least he got out of this one. "Now take me to your daughter."
Mr. Havely got up and they walked the short distance from the saloon to his small, run down house. Casper followed Mr. Havely upstairs, into a tiny, musty room, with a leaky roof and a distinct chill. He saw the girl asleep on the worn, patched covers. My god, he thought, he had certainly got his money's worth with this one. She was beautiful with that alabaster skin and curly red hair, but couldn't be much older than eighteen or nineteen, barely a woman.
"Matilda," he heard Mr. Havely say, and the girl popped up instantly.
"Yes poppa?" she said before seeing the rest of the men in the room. He watched her eyes grow big as she looked around, and she drew her covers up under her chin. "What's going on?"
"I need you to go with this man here," Mr. Havely said, gesturing to Casper.
"What do you mean? I don't want to go with him." Casper watched as the girl slowly started to panic. "Please, I want to stay here," she said desperately.
"Pack up your things, you're mine now," Casper said by way of explanation.
"No, I'm not. I belong to no one," she said getting up and attempting to run for the door, but Casper reached out and grabbed her. She struggled in his arms, "Let me go!" but it was to no avail.
"You have one minute to collect what you want," Casper said.
"No, no," Matilda muttered, sinking away from him. "What's going on, poppa?" she addressed her father. "Why are these men trying to take me?" But her father just looked away from her and didn't answer.
Coward, Casper thought. Matilda just stood there, looking about the room, as if she could read an explanation from their faces.
"Minute is up," Casper said, grabbing for Matilda. Her hand snaked out and grabbed up a small book sitting on her nightstand. She hugged it tightly to her chest as Casper lifted her up over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and carried her outside to his waiting carriage.
Neither of them said anything on the ride to his home, Matilda was still trying to wrap her head around what was going on, but her eyes widened as she saw the massive size of his house.
"Welcome to your new home," he said as he hopped out of the carriage, helping her down. He gently guided her up the walk to the house with a hand on the small of her back.
"We will get started with your duties tomorrow. You must be tired tonight," he said, leading her upstairs. "This will be your room," he opened a door, showing her a wonderfully ornate room, with a big lush bed and decorated chairs and furniture. He pushed her inside, and she was in aw of what was happening. Maybe this wasn't so bad, she thought, until she heard the door lock behind her.
After carefully placing her book on the nightstand, she climbed into the big, comfortable bed. But despite the comfort, she found she had trouble falling asleep. What were her duties going to be tomorrow?
The next morning, Matilda awoke later than usual. She saw a complete outfit lying on the end of the bed, and she put it on. It was nothing too exceptional, but it was still finer than anything she had ever worn.
After dressing, she walked to the door, and was surprised to find it open. She walked outside, and came face to face with Casper.
"I don't think we've been properly introduced," he said, "I'm Casper Jenkins, but you will call me master, and I already know you are Matilda Havely, but I shall call you slave, and you shall respond to such," he said in such a polite tone, completely contradicting to the words coming out of his mouth.
Matilda didn't say anything and he continued, "You're duties will be to wash the floors and windows, dust the rooms and just make sure that everything in general is in tip top shape," despite his scary words of wanting to call her slave, he only wanted her to be a housekeeper. Matilda breathed a sigh of relief, this would be no different than home, the only thing was the house was bigger and nicer. She could be his housekeeper no problem. "If you are good at your job, you can keep it," he ended, but Matilda was not too worried about that.
She spent the rest of the day learning the ropes from one of the maids. And was dusting a shelf, when she accidentally knocked over two vases. She stared down at them in horror, and bent to pick up the pieces when she heard him.
"Oh look what you've done now," Matilda was scared of what he would do to her for breaking the vases, but "Give me your shoes," was all he said. Matilda just stared at him dumbly, "I want both shoes, one for each vase you broke," he explained. He was taking her shoes to punish her? It was the weirdest thing she ever heard, but not so bad as punishments go. Matilda then simply slipped off her shoes and placed them in his out stretched hands. "Be careful around those shards, and get back to work," he said leaving the room.
Matilda cleaned up the vases and finished that day with no more trouble. The next day she expected to have her shoes returned, but they were not, so she went about her duties in her stockinged feet. At the end of the day, she saw Casper again.
"Just look at your feet," he said looking down. And when Matilda did, she saw that her stockings had gotten dirty from walking around in just them all day.
"You can't keep your clothes if you don't take care of them, give me your stockings," he said holding out his hand.
"But the only reason they got dirty is because you took my shoes from me," she said.
"When I tell you to do something, you do it without question, do you understand?" he said in a stern voice.
Matilda felt helpless against him, "Yes sir," she said.
"Yes, master," she corrected, letting the word slip out of her lips for the first time since she'd been there, hating the sound of it, knowing that it showed his ownership of her.
"Good, now hand them over," he said once again. Matilda had to hike up her dress to undo her garters to let her stockings down, and she avoided his gaze, feeling ashamed at being put in this position. She rolled her stockings down and handed them to him. He walked away without a word.
The next day, once again, neither her stockings nor her shoes had been given back to her. Matilda felt ridiculous working in her bare feet, and it was painful when she had to go outside to fetch water. Despite the size of the house, he had very few servants working inside, and her chores were vast and varied.
On the way back inside with a bucket of water, she accidentally tripped, letting about half the bucket's contents slosh over the side. And as Casper seemed to only appear when she made mistakes, he was there to witness this one. "Tsk, tsk, it seems that you can't stop messing things up, give me your garters," he said calmly.
"What?" Matilda couldn't believe he was asking for her garters.
"Give me your garters," he repeated.
"But why?" she asked.
"I'm surprised you haven't figured it out yet, when you make a mistake, I take an article of your clothing as compensation. Now hand them over."
"But, but," Matilda sputtered, "I'm not wearing garters."
"Well why ever not?" he asked with a grin, knowing very well why she wasn't wearing them.
"It would be pointless without stockings," she answered.
"Oh well, I suppose you're right. I guess I just need to take something else, your dress then." Matilda stared at him, horrified. She knew he planed to take her dress and not return it, make her work in just her under things.
"No," Matilda said.
"My slave, I believed we discussed this. Do I need to punish you for disobeying?" he asked. Matilda shook her head and slowly took off her dress, and like he had done before, he left without a word, and Matilda finished her chores.
.... There is more of this story ...