Woody Woodpecker #070
3 hours ago
"On beholding what lay within the wardrobe, her initial disappointment gave way to confusion. A number of objects were before her. Wondering, she took them out, one by one, amd laid them on the nearest easy surface, which was the bed.
Catherine was a country girl, and like many very fond of riding. She had grown up with horses, and so she had seen many items similar, but not quite like, those which she now saw before her. There was something like a saddle, but much smaller, and with many more buckles and clasps, and without stirrups. There was something like a riding crop, but much thinner, and with--what? feathers?--affixed to one end. There was, oddly, a woman's corset, which Catherine saw was also fashioned from leather--leather! She coloured as she handled it, though she could not say, why this should be. There was a horse-whip. There were some coils of rope, of varying lengths and thicknesses. There were shackles fashioned, bafflingly, of red velvet. There was a pair of pattens*...
"But these very sinister-looking objects--"
"They did not belong to my father," Henry said. "He does not even know they are here."
"Then to whom do they belong?" Catherine cried.
"Miss Morland, the apparatus are mine."
Catherine stared at him, unable to speak. What had she done? What nust he think of her? She, who had all but accused his father of murdering his mother. Catherine held back tears of embarrassment and shame.
Henry sat down upon the bed. "I can but wonder that you have attached a sinister purpose to my--well, let us call them toys."
"Toys?" Catherine cried.
"Yes--what word would you use, for that which provided hours of delight and enjoyment? Toys I suppose is as good a word as any other. Have you really no notion as to their purpose?"
"I thought I had, but it seems I was mistaken."
"Indeed you were," replied Henry. "Do not be afraid, Miss Morland, there is nothing sinister here. Can you guess what my toys are for?"
Catherine thought of hunts, and riding, and obscure equestrian skills. "Are they...for taking exercise?"
Henry smiled. "Yes, of a sort. That is a very good way of putting it. Shall I show you?"
...Henry finished pulling tight the last of the laces on the leather corset, the corset she now wore. Though constricting, and rather stiff and creaky, she felt very suddenly, and to her surprise, that she preferred it to the muslins and silks she had worn all her life; indeed she felt, as Henry introduced the velvet shackles into her hand, a thrill of confidence and assurance unlike any she had previously known.
"Miss Morland," he said, "we have both misbehaved. You by having entertained such suspicions of my family as led you to investigate this room without permission; I by having failed to bring you here myself, and long ago. Miss Morland, let us each atone for what we have done."