I think my staff are holding me prisoner. It could be through love, or for some other reason, but I am unable to escape.

It started when I was laid low by an odd summer fever. My doctor didn’t know what it was, or how to treat it, but he pretended knowledge he didn’t have. His instructions on treatment confined me, not just to the within the bounds of my estate, but have literally tied me up, helpless. He ought to know more because medicine has improved during Queen Victoria’s reign but he is a country doctor who doesn’t keep up to date. I think he is still using 18th Century remedies in 1850.

I know I am aged but until the fever struck I was hale and hearty for my age. During the fever I was unconscious most of the time, and when awake I was raving, making no coherent sense. Now I know who I am, where I am and who my attendants are, but they still treat me as if I am insane.

One of the complications of the fever that is still with me is sudden uncontrolled thrashing of my arms and legs. The doctor thought I might injure myself during these fits so he ordered that I should be tightly wrapped at all times except for calls of nature. For those, I should be escorted by at least four people to ensure I do not harm myself. But those four people are women, Anglo-Indian women, Sumitra, Asha, Gita and Meena. They have Christian names such as Anne, Mary etc, but we always use their Indian names.

I am, or was, a Nabob. I had made my fortune in India before I returned to England bringing some of my younger female Anglo-Indian servants with me. Servants? I should be honest with myself. They are not my servants. That may be what they do, but they are really my harem of mistresses. All of them are Christians, at least nominally.

I bought a comfortable estate of several thousand acres and a medium size country house which has forty bedrooms and parts of considerable antiquity. The cost of that estate barely dented my wealth and actually increased it because rent from the tenant farmers is profitable, particularly since I invested money in improving the fields they use.

My wife and new-born son died together several decades ago in India. Since then I have not sought another wife. I had and have many Anglo-Indian mistresses, willing to share my bed whenever I needed them. Now, uninvited, four of them share my bed protecting me from myself.

After the fever I found it difficult to swallow my normal food. The doctor suggested milk-based possets or thin gruel. Even the gruel was too much for me and made me vomit uncontrollably. Sumitra, my senior mistress and effectively my housekeeper, found something I could swallow and retain — breast milk. At any time at least one of the Indian ladies has given birth recently. I should be ashamed that I have so many half-Indian children but I’m not. They are the joys of my elderly existence — or they were until this fever struck.

Sumitra arranged a rota of wet nurses for me. Several times a day a leaking breast is pushed into my mouth and held there until I swallow. My protests are ineffectual, ultimately stifled by soft warm flesh. My bondage prevents anything other than a verbal objection. I suppose I could bite, but I wouldn’t. I know it is done as gently as possible and with love and affection. I can’t repay that love with a bite.

That is my real problem. I am bound by love, restrained by loving hands, silenced by warm breasts or lips, cradled in soft bonds that swamp me.

Take my situation now. I am sitting on a chair in front of my dining table. On the table is a glass of water and a few soft biscuits especially prepared for me by the pastry cook. But I can’t reach them. Why not?

My body is inside in a long sleeved nightgown with padded mittens sewn to the end of the sleeves. My legs are bound together with long scarves. My arms are secured to my sides by more long scarves. Around those bonds two sarees are tightly wrapped around me, making me a helpless silk sheathed bundle from beyond my feet up to my neck. That bundle is tied to the chair with more scarves around my ankles, my thighs, my waist, and my chest. Individually the bonds are loose and soft. Together they make me totally confined and restrained no matter how much I struggle. But if I struggle my mistresses will assume I am having a fit. To stop me biting myself they will stuff my mouth with silk before hugging my head between their soft breasts.

If I protest in words, my voice is stifled first with insistent lips or my mouth filled by a naked breast. If I still try to speak, silk fills my mouth and is held there with another long scarf wrapped round and round my head before my face is dragged deep into a cleavage.

I can’t write or even dictate this account. I am keeping it in my memory until there comes a time when I am free to write it in my private diary.

The only requests my mistresses do listen to is when I want the toilet. I have to give timely warning. They have to remove the bonds attaching me to the chair, carry me to a commode, loosen the saree around my lower parts, clean me up and then return me to my enforced immobilisation.

I’m being unfair. I did ask to go out of the house into the garden. They loaded me into the Bath Chair, tied me to it, and wheeled me around the formal gardens. Even so, they were afraid that my balding head would catch the sun, so I was wearing a capacious bonnet which blinkered me like a nervous horse. At first all I could see was straight ahead — the tight saree-clad buttocks of the woman pulling the Bath Chair. While a pleasant sight, I asked for the bonds around my head to be loosened so that I could turn it. Reluctantly Sumitra eased the scarf that was fastening my head to the chair. As I expected, the gardens were well kept but I was unable to talk to the gardeners. The women didn’t let me. As soon as a gardener came into sight, the chair was wheeled in a different direction.

I have more freedom in bed at night. My massive four-poster bed is occupied by me and four women directed by Sumitra. One of my ankles is tied to hers while she lies on top of me with a woman closely pressed against each side of me. The third woman is propped against the headboard, her legs splayed wide while my head rests on her body below the waist. If I show any signs of a fit, that woman’s legs clamp around my head while the other three stifle any thrashing with their naked bodies.

Sumitra ensures that I am tired. As soon as the four of them are positioned surrounding me she brings me to an erection, stuffs it inside herself and rides me until I’m exhausted. I’m not a tall man and I have become shorter with age. Sumitra’s lips cover mine while she makes love to me. If I cry out in the night, as apparently I used to when in the fever, the woman at the headboard will turn around until her lower lips muffle my outburst, sometimes nearly smothering me as Sumitra presses down on her backside.

I have hope that I may be relieved from my bondage. Ultimately the doctor will return and should listen to my protests that the silken confinement is no longer necessary. But he is not intending to visit me again until next week.

Mr Harris, my Steward and only indoor male servant, is away in London negotiating the purchase of some of a deceased neighbour’s estate. That land would be a useful addition but the legalities are complex. The trustees of the deceased all have to agree. Mr Harris might be back before the doctor’s visit, or perhaps later than that.

My Indian ladies accept the doctor’s edict unreservedly. They would not disobey it and release me unless Sumitra orders them to do so. She won’t. She’s enjoying having me as her helpless victim.

My few English maidservants are unlikely to help. They are usually below stairs and even if they came near me, Sumitra is their superior in the servants’ hierarchy. They wouldn’t defy Sumitra, particularly as Sumitra is not just my Housekeeper. Sumitra has been my mistress for more than two decades. She is treated not just as the Housekeeper but as the Lady of the Estate.

Now Sumitra has become more than my mistress. She is my dominant mistress and my jailer. I can do nothing, not even speak, without her consent. While I know she is doing everything because she loves me, that love is overpowering, enveloping, smothering and imprisoning me. I am totally helpless even when she is making love to me.

I can understand their concern for my welfare. They are all dependent on me. But why are they, and particularly Sumitra, treating me as if I am insane and need constant protection from myself? I can understand them wanting to stop my uncontrolled thrashing but their soft enveloping bondage is too extreme for that. If they want just to limit my movements when necessary, their arms, bodies, and perhaps a few wraps while the fit lasts would be enough. Four women all of similar size to me are ample to restrain me for the now infrequent episodes.

When I first came back to awareness of my surroundings I would thrash about several times a day. Now? The frequency has reduced to once or twice a day. Within a few days the occurrence might be zero, but my bondage continues unabated.

This morning I had an unexpected opportunity to speak to Sumitra alone. The three other bed companions had briefly left the room for their morning ablutions, but not before leaving my ankles tied to Sumitra’s, my hands bagged in mittens, my arms secured to my sides. I couldn’t release myself but I could speak unless Sumitra stopped me with her lips or a hand over my mouth.

“Why, Sumitra?” I asked.

She moved her head close to mine.

“Why what, Anthony?” she whispered in my ear.

“Why are you keeping me a prisoner? I’m no longer ill. I’m recovering, yet you are still smothering me as if I could harm myself. Why?”

Sumitra’s first answer was a long kiss, not the fierce kisses she had given me to stop my words, but a delicate loving one. She pulled back and looked at me.

“We love you, Anthony. I love you. We were afraid that we might lose you. We wanted to wrap you in our love, to keep you safe. Even wrapping you in scarves and sarees was an expression of our love, hugging you more effectively than our bodies can.”

“But it has gone on too long, Sumitra. I could understand it when I was raving, but now? I’m nearly well again. I can eat more than breast milk or gruel. While it is pleasant to meet so many naked breasts, the need has passed.”

“Those breasts were showing love and care. They still want to. Not all of us have the words to tell you how we love you, but our breasts and lips can.”

“I know I am loved, Sumitra. But making me helpless is going too far. I ask again. Why?”

“Why? We are all afraid. If you were to die, what would happen to us? We are far from our home country, women and children in a land that doesn’t always value us as you do. We need you. Yet you are old. You won’t die this time. Our care made sure you didn’t. But eventually we will be left alone. What then? What…”

“Sumitra.” I spoke sharply. “Of course I know you, all of you, will outlive me. It would be unnatural if you didn’t. I have made preparations for that eventuality — except for one last act that will complete the legalities. Before the fever struck me down I had already started the process for that last thing. It was presumptuous of me, I know, but I had to try. What date is it now?”

Sumitra seemed taken aback by my last question. She answered. That answer doesn’t matter. It was a date in the middle of the 19th Century but what I needed to know was how long I had been incapable and imprisoned. The duration from start until this conversation had been four complete weeks and a couple of days.

“I cannot finish making your future secure while you hold me prisoner. I need to be free, to be dressed as an English gentleman, and to go to the village — with you. I am sure if we go by carriage I could travel that short distance. Will you let me go?”

“If we do, what if you have another fit?”

“If I do, which is becoming unlikely, you and the others could just hug me. That would be enough. You don’t need to tie and wrap me up. The four of you could easily overpower me. You are younger, stronger and four to my one.”

“I’ll ask the others. Where do you want to go in the village?”

“The vicarage. I need to speak to the Vicar. I need to check that he did what I asked him to do.”

The others came back into the bedroom.

“He wants to go to the vicarage,” Sumitra announced. “As himself, unrestrained. Can we permit that?”

“I don’t see why not,” Asha said slowly. Gita and Meena nodded.

“Then we should get him ready. Have you brought his shaving things?”

They had, as every morning while I had been restrained. My head was cradled between two soft breasts as Sumitra straddled me. She shaved me as expertly as any barber but my erection acknowledged that she was an attractive and desirable woman.

They removed my bonds and dressed me even though I could have done that for myself. As I walked, blessed relief, through the various rooms and corridors to the breakfast room the other women servants acknowledged me by dropping curtseys. My legs weren’t working as well as they should. I had been restrained or ill too long.

After breakfast I asked to go to my study. I removed some papers from a locked drawer before announcing that I was ready to go to the vicarage. I had to wait sometime before Sumitra and the three others dressed themselves as English Ladies.

In the carriage I was swamped by their massive crinolined skirts. The carriage was driven by one of my younger women who would stay with the horses. At the vicarage Sumitra had to get out first to give me room to descend. I needed her help to climb down from the carriage. The Vicar’s maidservant dropped a curtsey and led us to the main living room. She asked whether we wanted refreshment. I declined. She went to tell the Vicar that we were there.

The Vicar was slightly surprised to meet four Indian women dressed so fashionably but greeted us pleasantly.

“Has it happened?” I asked bluntly once the formal introductions had been completed.

“Yes, Mr Andrews. On the last three Sundays. No one raised a voice against it but there was some headshaking. Are you sure?”

“Sure? Of course I’m sure. I wouldn’t have asked you otherwise. But…”

I walked over to Sumitra who was sitting with her skirts spread about her. I dropped to my knees in front of her.

“Sumitra,” I said looking up at her puzzled face, “Will you marry me, please?”

She gasped. She looked at the other three women.

“Mr Andrews!” She protested, “Do you know what you are asking?”

“Of course I do,” I replied impatiently. “I’m asking the woman I love to marry me. Will you?”

“What about the others?” she asked. I could hear the Vicar draw breath sharply. It was common knowledge that I had a harem.

“I can only marry one,” I replied. “I will, or YOU will, look after the others.”

“And the children?”

“And the children.” I replied.

“Then I have to say yes. I will marry you.”

“Good. Vicar?”

“Yes, Mr Andrews?”


“NOW?” he replied.

“Yes. Now. Why not? The banns have been read. We have three witnesses here, and you. The church is empty. We can marry now.”

We did. I was married to Sumitra in an empty church with the other three women as bridesmaids and witnesses.

After the wedding we returned to the Vicar’s living room. He produced some champagne to toast the Bride and Groom. No doubt he will add it to my account.

I produced the documents I had taken from my study. There was a small problem because I needed witnesses who weren’t involved. The Vicar could be one, but we needed another. He sent his maid to fetch the sexton. I could sign my new will, leaving everything to my wife, with provisions for my mistresses and all the illegitimate children. Sumitra was still in a state of shock, twisting her wedding ring on her finger to check it was real.

I had another request for the Vicar that caused him some consternation. I wanted all my illegitimate children to be baptised. I handed him a list of all of them with their dates of birth, the appropriate mother’s name, and my name as father for all of them. Officially recognising them in the Parish Register would give each of them some claim on my estate.

Baptisms should be conducted with the Church’s congregation present. If that was to be done on a Sunday the length of the baptisms would be difficult. We compromised. They would be baptised at a suitable Wednesday morning service. I told Sumitra to arrange for all the mothers and children to attend.

Once the Vicar had got over his shock I could see that he was calculating how many fees he could charge for the marriage and baptisms.

I made him even happier. I asked him to see whether any of his poor parishioners would like their children baptised at my expense. If we were to have a bulk baptism, a few more might not make much difference, except to the children and their parents.

“I have a small problem with that request, Mr Andrews,” the Vicar said diffidently. “Some of the children who need baptism have unmarried parents because they can’t afford the fee.”

“How many?” I asked.

“About ten couples, I think. Maybe a dozen.”

“Very well, Vicar. I’ll pay for a mass marriage service before the baptisms. Would that be acceptable?”

“It would be very generous, Mr Andrews. It has been a cause of concern to me for some years.”

“Arrange it. I’ll pay, and we’ll attend, won’t we, Mrs Andrews?”

Sumitra blinked. It was the first time I had called her Mrs Andrews.

“Yes, Anthony – husband,” she replied. “We’ll be there.”

The Vicar was beaming as we left. Several marriages, a mass of baptisms all with the fees guaranteed by me, and the whole of his flock would be legitimately married. Once he had forwarded the records to his Bishop he would avoid the mild criticism he had had from that quarter for his parishioners living in sin — especially me.

Once we were a few hundred yards from the Vicarage I spoke seriously to Sumitra.

“Wife,” I said, “I have provided for you, for the other women, and all the children, whether I live or die. But, and this is very important, our marriage, my will and disposition of my estate could be challenged if there is any suggestion that I was not and am not in full possession of all my faculties. Your restraint of me must stop. Now. If not, all I have done could be overturned. Do you understand?”

“Yes, husband. I understand. But what if you have a fit?”

“I won’t, despite that stupid doctor. But if I do, your reaction must be minimal and temporary, lasting only the minutes that are wholly necessary. At all other times I must appear to be my own master.”

“Even in bed, Anthony?”

“What we do in bed must stay as a bedroom secret. Remember this is important. I must be unrestrained whenever anyone else could see, even a junior maidservant.”

“I will try, Anthony.”

“You must do more than try. You must let me be my own man, loved by you and the others, as I love you all, but not, never, controlled by you.”

“Even if we do it with love, because we love you?”

“Even then. You can love me, but not imprison me as you have been doing. If you do, you risk losing everything, not just for you, but for all the women and children.”

How can I explain it to Sumitra, my new wife? If I am considered to have been insane at the time of my marriage and the signing of my will, my marriage and bequests could be declared invalid. All my assets would go to my closest relative, a distant cousin, but lawyers would take large fees from my estate whether the cousin is successful or not.