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Sunday, 25 February 2018

The Bareback Girls – Felicia and Louise

Story from Janus 56 by Richard Manton
The romance of Leon and his two young mistresses ran the full course of the Cirque Eden’s summer season at Cabourg, in the last days of the belle époque. Against a sea that was millpond-smooth, the white caps of the tents rose among the trees of the Parc des Princes. Throughout the well-kept streets of the fashionable resort the gaudy posters were filled by trumpets and horses, bare-legged girls and Bengal tigers.
All day the summer tide lay glittering and languid beyond the sands. At dusk the coloured lamps of the promenade and the windows of the Grand Hotel shimmered and flickered like Aladdin’s treasure on the whispering water. From the white steam-yachts anchored in a line, a beat of music and the laughter of dinner parties carried to the esplanade, where the wives of brokers and lawyers paraded in dresses of butterfly elegance.
At night the Parc des Princes belonged to the Cirque Eden. Leon, assistant to Madame Solange the ringmistress, was master of many trades. He was Tonton the children’s favourite clown, in his pointed hat and baggy pants. In jerkin and breeches, he was also a trainer of horses and their bareback riders, a master of properties, and wire-walker.
Of his exact relationship with his 17-year-old bareback rider Louise, much was suggested but very little known. Neither she nor Leon had a history. Louise might be a lost princess or a petty thief. To the fashionable world, a circus-girl was no better than a thief. To the common people of the town, she was a princess in her short tunic and black silk pants, straddling, standing or kneeling on the speeding horse.
Louise was no fashion-plate but a warm-blooded girl with an appealing sauciness that would make a soubrette at the Chatelet or the Vaudeville sigh with envy. She had a rounded firm-chinned face with a pert little nose. Her blue eyes, their lashes darkened by mascara, could go wide with teasing mischief or playful shock. She wore no elegant coiffure but swept her dark hair back flat and straight from her wide forehead, trimming it short at her nape and cutting it clear of her devilishly pretty ears and neck.
She was not as tall as the most elegant showgirl should be. Though not too plump, there was still a hint of adolescent softness in her white-skinned figure. Combined with the cheeky roundness of her eyes, it made her the sort of girl with whom a man might take innocent liberties, perhaps a hug from behind with hands upon her breasts or a pat or two on the soft young cheeks of Louise’s bottom when such encouragement was really superfluous.
To her admirers among the audience, Louise was a breath of bare and perfumed flesh moving in the warm air. Her knickers of thin black silk with lace hem did not quite reach her thighs nor quite uncover the soft adolescent whiteness of her buttocks. A girl of such sensuality was to some a fancy-dress doll and to others an angel from another world.
By the allowable fiction that she might be Leon’s daughter, she shared his caravan. There was no family relationship between them. He had acquired her, somehow, a year or two before. The circumstances remained a mystery.
Stripped of her costume’s glamour, Louise had an awkward beauty peculiar to her age. To glance at her when she was standing in the shadows of the tent, after her performance, was to see that her face could easily grow tense and self-conscious. Despite the glamour of her costume, she was not yet sure of her place in the unexplored adult world. Moreover, she atoned for her moments of spangles and applause by hours of scrubbing and grooming the white horse, Fleur-de-Lys.
Every morning she worked in the stables in blue cotton riding-pants and short jacket. Her attitude was an endearing mixture of the adolescent female ruffian with dark brown hair slick and cropped, and the dutiful daughter attending to the tasks set by her elders.
But no man ever adored a daughter as Leon did, watching Louise groom the white horse. She worked the brush with loving energy on the thick mane and tail of the gentle animal. At 17, her saucy round-eyed provocation gave her a look of self-assurance that she felt only with her trainer. Even her figure betrayed her inexperience. The slight adolescent plumpness of her white-skinned breasts and buttocks showed the charming awkwardness of a teenage goose not yet become a feminine swan. It was as well that Leon had disciplined her strictly and kept a firm hand upon his protégée.
With the innocence of her age, the girl assumed postures and attitudes incompatible with proper womanly dignity. Was it for this very clumsiness that the good-natured clown treasured her? She straddled her shapely legs in a most unbecoming posture as she braced her young strength against the mare’s bulk. Dressed for the ring, she bent unselfconsciously in the thin silk of the black panties whose lace hem did not quite cover the lower inch or two of Louise’s pearly backside in such a posture. Leon watched her for a moment with eyes which made wistful caresses upon her flanks and thighs, her backside and her loins. He was tense and thoughtful, as if recalling certain scenes of private correction which had been necessary in his education of the girl.
To the discriminating audience there was a heightened sensuality in the contrast of her costumes. Louise was, by turns, the roughly-clad stable-girl and the silken princess on her steed. No man but Leon was permitted to touch her. He would give a light and teasing pat on the sleek bare pallor of her thighs between the tops of her black stockings and the lace hem of her knickers, or he would stroke her neck and Louise would rub her face against the knuckles of his hand. When she stooped to her labours he would caress her thinly-clad hips or impart a lover’s smack to Louise’s softly full and rounded backside.
The other circus folk could only imagine the scene in the caravan when the light burnt beyond midnight. They smiled at the thought of Louise lying, or bending, or kneeling before Leon’s chair. They imagined the light and breathless parting of her lips or the opening of the gates of love’s desire to admit her master to a pleasure palace beyond description.
Every day before the season began, Leon was alone with his pupil for an hour in the big top. Here he put Louise and Fleur-de-Lys through their paces. With a girl of her kind, false modesty was not necessary. The girl wore her green bodice and the black silk stockings that made her bare thighs above their tops seem dazzlingly white. But the black silk knickers of her costume were not to be squandered by hours of practice riding. Instead, she wore a pair of tight-fitting white briefs, Louise’s everyday covering under her skirt. On Leon’s instructions, before mounting the white horse, she drew the seat of these briefs up on either side. The cotton was gathered in the central crack while the sleek white shimmer of Louise’s bottom-cheeks themselves appeared bare. The spectacle added to the trainer’s enjoyment and the contact of Louise’s bare buttocks with the warm steed heightened her own thrill.
Louise and Fleur-de-Lys flew round the ring with its resinous sawdust and animal scents, under the pale light of the canvas roof. Leon drew his long thin-lashed whip through his fingers. The rhythmic crack of the fine leather scarcely touched or even caressed Fleur-de-Lys. As if the mere sound of it spoke a language, the pure white horse obeyed, cantering or prancing. Between Leon and the girl with her teenage softness of breasts and rump quivering a little at each stride, there was a more mysterious understanding. The slight muscular tensings and spasms of her stockinged calves and bare thighs astride her mount gave her a look of animal exertion. Her firm chin tilted, her lips parted, and her blue mascara’d eyes went saucily wide. The plump resilience of Louise’s bottom made a sensuous smack on her mount as her hips rose and fell.
Leon’s aim with the thin black lash was deft and controlled. From time to time he landed it smartly across the white shimmer of Louise’s rear cheeks so that it drew a gasp from her and left a printed curlicue upon the pale adolescent buttocks. It was meant to sting her hard, and so it did. But it was always done in such a way that it seemed an extension of the exhilaration she enjoyed while she hugged the animal power between her legs. Sometimes Louise gave a soft cry and the quivering cheeks of her young backside clenched quickly with the smart. But when she jumped down from the horse at the end of the rehearsal, she always ran to the clown and wriggled wantonly into his arms. Indeed, after she displayed this tapestry of his affection on her behind, the light in the caravan would burn almost until dawn.
Whatever obedience he taught this teasing creature, she learnt it through the time-honoured method. But on days when there was no performance of the circus, she earned a preliminary reward. He would give her a kiss on the cheek and a flat fondling smack on her well-warmed bottom.
‘Put on your black silk panties, you little vamp! It’s dinner at the Ritz!’
‘Really?’ Louise walked away, flirting her backside at him and looking at him round-eyed over her shoulder. ‘In a hat with a feather and black silk knickers?’
Leon smiled. Their ‘Ritz’ was a brasserie in the Vieux Port.
It was here one evening, when the ramshackle buildings rose like stranded vessels, that they encountered Felicia.
The name suggested all that was chic and elegant but the reality was quite opposite. Felicia was a petite dark-skinned beauty, round and skittish in her way as Louise, her origin a colonial island or an eastern paradise. The dark copper-skinned warmth of her high-boned cheeks was matched by odalisque eyes and a striking profile. Her eyes, though slanting a little in the manner of her race, were wide and proud. Her dark hair was simply worn, in a series of pretty plaits that fell about her shoulder like a bead-curtain. Felicia appeared a charming little creature, simply dressed in black and a thin gold loop hanging from each earlobe.
Pretty and provoking, this late-teenaged child of untamed nature had worked at sweated labour in a small cafe, patronised by the circus folk. Then her parents had been sent to prison for a theft they could not deny. The cafe proprietor dismissed the daughter of the criminal class. Felicia was destitute. She would beg until she had a few sous. Then she would walk to buy or scavenge scraps from the covered market.
This dark-skinned beauty was sitting on the quay, a picture of dejection.
‘And your parents?’ asked Leon, when she told him of her lost employment.
‘I don’t know where they are now,’ she said despondently. ‘I haven’t seen them since the flics took them away.’
‘So where do you live?’
Felicia turned her beautiful dark eyes upon him.
‘Here, on the pavement. Yesterday the concierge took away the key to the room in the Rue de l’Ocean.’
Leon pitied her but he was also agreeably excited at being her only hope.
‘And how do you manage to eat?’
‘I have had no food today,’ she said, raising the slant of her proud dark eyes. ‘Perhaps I shall have none tomorrow.’
‘You shall eat with us tonight.’
His sympathy was instinctive. Yet it was tinged by the exciting possibility of being the protector — even the possessor — of a dark colonial Venus. They walked to the brasserie with Felicia as a guest at their modest feast.
Afterwards, Leon’s good nature could not leave her on the streets.
‘Where will you sleep tonight?’
Felicia shook her head. A tear began to gather in one dark and lovely eye. Misery robbed her of speech. He spoke gently to her.
‘If you promise not to take up too much room, we shall find space for you.’
Felicia looked doubtfully at Louise. But the saucer-eyed charmer, who sat next to her, hugged the bronze-skinned beauty with all the love of her closest sister.
‘So long as you can be friends,’ Leon said.
Louise hugged Felicia more tightly.
‘We’ll be such friends!’ she whispered.
‘And as long as my pretty little kittens don’t scratch,’ Leon added with a smile.
For a few days, he and the two girls lived in that exaggerated courtesy which infects people thrown together in such a manner. A curtain divided the caravan at night. On one side lay the trainer of horses. On the other, snuggled up in a bed designed for only one, lay Louise and Felicia.
Felicia, dark-eyed and wondering, watched Louise on Fleur-de-Lys at the morning rehearsals. A few days later, Leon was in an imperious mood. The hoop was held up and Louise sprang through it, safely again astride the back of the obedient horse. She posed and turned upon its smooth pale hide. Then lying forward, she hugged its neck, the light catching the short cut of her hair swept sleekly back from her white brow. The hem of her briefs had been tugged up as usual, so that her shimmering buttocks were the more pale in the limelight. Her thighs moved and her backside rose and fell, as if she loved the animal warmth between her legs in her most abandoned manner.
Leon cracked the thin black whip hard, so that it landed across the cheeks of Louise’s bottom with a cruelty he had never before shown her. The girl cried out in shock. But he, in his horse-taming costume, was determined to train her rigorously. He brought the lash across her young backside again and again. By the time that Louise got down, there were tears in her saucy round eyes. She stood back, as if in fear of him.
‘You were slovenly!’ he shouted at her. ‘You were late at every jump.’
A few nights later, thoroughly ashamed of himself, he parted the curtain and entered the half of the caravan where the two girls slept. Taking Louise by the hand, he led her to his own quarters. Felicia, lying wide-eyed in the dark, saw nothing. But she heard clearly even the softest sound they made.
Leon loved Louise, his cheeky adolescent girl. There was no doubt of that. He loved her as a princess in her showgirl stockings and black lace panties. He loved her as an awkward stable-maid. He adored her now, in her white nudity which was the only night attire Louise had ever possessed.
He was systematic in his adoration. First he took her lips with his own and trilled his tongue, tasting the cleanness of her youth and beauty. He kissed her, until she shuddered and moaned for Felicia to hear. He stroked and kissed the cool pallor of her swelling curves. He caressed and tickled her until she shivered convulsively and sighed.
Another hour of night passed before he was ready for her, as gently as always.
Long before this, Felicia responded to the soft sounds beyond the dividing curtain and began to run her hands over her own copper-brown thighs and dark-haired loins. Yet perhaps the shrill mewing which proceeded from her was the more indicative of her intense and excruciating release.
From that time, Leon treated Louise with great tenderness. Night after night, Felicia lay alone and listened to her, just the other side of the curtain. When her mouth was not stopped by the pillow, the teenager would cry her lover’s name. When he had finished with her, he would stroke Louise’s bottom or thighs gently and send her back to the other bed. There she must curl up, her pale body naked and cool from its exposure by contrast with Felicia’s dark-skinned nudity warm under the blankets.
Leon wondered what the effect on the two girls might be as they lay together naked after he had spent. His bed was so narrow that it was impossible to avoid a constant touching of bare flesh. As Louise turned away, Felicia’s leg must still brush against her thighs. Or else their breasts would tickle together with accidental arousing. Or the pale softness of Louise’s bottom-cheeks would curve into the harder and dark-haired warmth of Felicia’s loins.
Consumed by curiosity, Leon spied through the curtain. He had heard the bed-springs moving softly. There was light enough to make out the shape of the girls under the sheet. Felicia lay on top of Louise. There was squirming and gasping, sharp breaths and a hissing release of tension between the teeth. Poor Leon had not the least doubt that his girls were making love to each other. He drew back and knew that he did not mind in the least. Had another man seduced Louise, Leon would have fought him to the death. But to see her with a woman was not at all the same. Indeed, it excited him. He devised schemes to induce them to do it willingly in his presence.
His mistake was evident next night when he had Louise behind the curtain. He could feel, let alone see, the evidence of Felicia’s jealousy. It was in places not always concealed by the black silk panties, which were far too small to cover completely the adolescent plumpness of Louise’s bottom-cheeks and hips. They had been fighting. Felicia used her cunning to hurt Louise where it was unlikely to show. From feminine pride, they fought with only gasps and hisses.
He said nothing. Perhaps, like young animals, the two girls fought in play or earnest to work off their natural frustration.
It was Madame Solange’s suggestion that Felicia should replace Leon as the hand with the whip during Louise’s evening performance. With her hair in a score of pretty little braids, like the woven tails of a lash, there was a suggestion of the barbaric and the perverse in the dark-skinned girl’s command of Louise the captive rider. Madame Solange chose for her a little jacket and black leather trousers of a Spanish equestrian kind, worn tight as drumskin on the tautly rounded curves of Felicia’s backside and thighs.
The innovation was a great success. Fashionable society from the resorts of Deauville and Trouville, even a painter or two of la vie de boheme, graced the ranks of the audience. It was alluringly suggestive to see Louise riding astride her mount, blue eyes round as saucers in their seductive teasing, the nude pearl of her thighs, the provocative jump and quiver of her soft rear cheeks in the tightness of translucent black knickers, while the beautiful and barbarous little mistress cracked the cruel whip. The audience would gasp with dismay, spiced by excitement, each time the black thong smacked across the thinly-clad adolescent plumpness of Louise’s bottom.
But all this was in play. As if by some complicity the two girls gave full vent to their jealousy only in bed. Why so secret? Felicia feared she might be turned out. To Louise it was a matter of pride. She must fight unaided to retain her place.
This continued for several weeks. Then, one morning, there was a row in the tent. Leon heard Madame Solange’s anger and the muttered replies from Felicia.
The ringmistress swung round as he entered. ‘This thieving slut of yours has the impudence to steal my best riding-switch! The one with the pearl stock that Monsieur Le Commandant presented to me at the Cirque d’Hiver!’
‘No!’ said Felicia. It was the sulkiness of a little girl caught in the act.
‘Three days ago it vanished. This morning Anton found the pawn-shop ticket in her costume clothes. We fetched the switch from there, not half an hour ago, pledged by your dear little Felicia for six francs! The little bitch learnt this from her parents! She deserves the police!’
‘Perhaps a really good hiding,’ said Anton the juggler hopefully. ‘That’s what the police give a young rascal-girl like her. We might as well save them the trouble.’
Madame Solange turned to Leon again. ‘Will you do it, or must I get the tent-master for her?’
‘Not I,’ Leon said, turning away indifferently. ‘Fleur-de-Lys must be shoed before tonight. Let the tent-master thrash her.’
Felicia had been looking at him with something like contempt in the slant of her gaze, caring nothing for his whip. As he walked off, her dark eyes seemed to implore him desperately to be the one who punished her — and then they filled with panic as he left her to the others. They were obliged to hold her until the tent-master came.
‘Now you shall feel leather, my girl!’ said Madame Solange vindictively. ‘Burning hotter than the tightest pants you can imagine!’
‘Give her a really good hiding with her knickers down!’ cried a woman in the crowd. The tent was filling with circus folk and idlers from the streets. Felicia was stripped from the waist down. There were murmurs of admiration for the smooth warm copper-tones of her trim little thighs and hips, the taut and demure rounds of her tawny buttocks. She was hauled astride a trestle and made to lie along it. Willing hands held her arms and legs, others crooked an elbow round her waist or grasped her wrists or ankles. Felicia twisted her face round, the defiance of the noble female savage fading in alarm from the dark ellipse of her eyes.
As an act of poetic justice the burly tent-master used the recovered riding-switch, which was long and supple. He thrashed the bare beauty of the young odalisque until his muscular arm ached too much to continue. The maidenly olive-skinned swell of Felicia’s bottom-cheeks bore ample evidence of it. When she was hoarse from yelling, Solange allowed her only a moment’s pause. Then the ringmistress took the riding-switch from the tent-master. She too thrashed the dusky Venus across rear cheeks already smartingly chastised.
It was only then that someone asked Anton how he knew the pawn-shop ticket for the stolen riding-switch would be found among Felicia’s costume clothes. He explained that a note was left in his caravan. Unfortunately it was unsigned but clearly the work of a believer in justice.
Leon shrugged at this news. Yet he noticed in the days after Felicia had the whip that the muffled struggles between the two girls in bed seemed to cease. When the tent-master and the ringmistress had finished with her, the copper-skinned beauty returned to the caravan and was heard to weep softly for the greater part of the afternoon. She threw herself down over the bed, and lamented with good reason the sorry state of her backside and the rear of her thighs. It was out of the question for her to appear in the show that night. For the future, Leon was master of horse when Louise rode bare-legged on Fleur-de-Lys. Felicia was reduced to menial employment.
The good-natured Leon still had not the heart to turn the dark-skinned girl on to the streets. At the best, she must prostitute herself and at the worst she would starve. His own situation was not at all the life he had imagined with two beautiful girls at once. For a week he slept alone behind the curtain. Then came the climax of the bewildered clown’s domestic drama.
Performances at the Cirque Eden concluded with a melodrama to bring the audience to its feet. It was adventure from the Wild West! At its climax a savage tribe of warriors — mounted and on foot — poured into the ring, trying to bring down the girl from her horse and lead her off to rape and slavery. The excitement was intense and the spectacle well-rehearsed. A degree of danger was inevitable but Fleur-de-Lys was used to the whoops and gunshots of the savage tribe.
On this fateful evening, no one noticed that there was one more Indian than usual. Without the least warning, a female warrior on foot dashed in front of the white horse, firing a blank from a pistol almost in the animal’s nostrils. The mare reared up. Louise, for all her practice, slid from the horse’s back and fell before the hooves of her pursuers.
Cries of dismay rose from the audience. Leon saw the motionless form of Louise lying upon the sawdust. Why did he not go to her? Perhaps he could not bear to look. Perhaps he was seized with fury on her behalf.
From whichever impulse, he ran in pursuit of the assassin — and had not the least difficulty in catching her. Felicia made no effort to escape but reached the caravan first. By the time he threw open the door, she had stripped off the disguise of her Indian costume and every stitch of clothes. She was superb in bronze nudity, the slant of her dark eyes fired with triumph.
‘You shall do to me as you did to her!’ she hissed. ‘Now you no longer have her, you shall take me behind the curtain at night! I shall never again have to lie and listen to the pair of you!’
He looked at her, understanding too late the violence of feminine jealousy. But he could not endure her company. Leon went back slowly to the sawdust ring where Madame Solange and the others had gathered. He was absent for half an hour and then came back to the caravan alone.
He seemed undismayed to find Felicia still there in the lamplight, proud and naked as before. Without a word, she took his training-whip from the table and gave it to him. Turning, she lay naked on her stomach over the bed, her forehead resting on her arms as she waited to be flogged.
‘Take your revenge for what I have done,’ she said, ‘and then make me your girl. I will do all that Louise did for you. You shall use me in every way a man can use a woman. I shall warm your bed and work for you. I will be your slave.’
He stared at her as if he might be dreaming. At last he raised the short lash. With all his strength he thrashed her from the back of the waist to the back of her knees. He whipped her harder and more implacably than the tent-master had done, until the copper-toned mounds of Felicia’s bottom were zebra-striped. She swallowed almost every cry and uttered only muted sounds of anguish deep in her throat. Felicia writhed and contorted her round trim buttocks as if squirming in some passionate honeymoon embrace. She did not resist nor even seek to avoid the lashes of his vengeance.
When she had been chastised, Leon allowed nature to take its course. He finished and stood back looking at her on the bed. Just then, the door of the caravan opened. Felicia scrambled up, shaking with fear, as if she saw her own death. With a cry she sank to her knees and hid her face in her hands. In the lamplight stood Louise. Her face was pale and her eyes shocked. But she was no ghost, and Leon had known it before he returned to the caravan.
He spoke quietly to Felicia. ‘You cannot kill us so easily. You suppose we never fall from horses? You imagine our mounts are not trained to avoid trampling us? You think we do not know how to avoid their hooves? My poor little fool! When you confront us, you are in the presence of the immortals.’
At last they heard Felicia’s sobs. Only the misery of being ignored by him at night and fear of being sent away had driven her to a desperate act of jealousy. Leon’s anger had now gone and his kindness returned. He knew that he had been unwittingly cruel in showing no more than cool courtesy towards a warm-blooded odalisque. But it was only Louise, the injured party, who could pass judgment. She approached, raised Felicia, and embraced her. The girls cried a little in each other’s arms for the folly of hatred and jealousy. But Leon had the last word for Felicia.
‘Can you imagine,’ he murmured, joining the embrace, ‘that I should raise my whip over you, if Louise lay dead? You have learnt little of how men and women behave. There is more to love than a man’s pride between your legs!’
He left Louise to express their forgiveness. She kissed and petted Felicia, for all the world as if it were the warm-skinned beauty who had suffered the danger and injury. Leon, after the passionate whipping and ravishing, was now uncertain what to do.
Louise in her adolescent wisdom put the matter right.
‘You shall stay with us,’ she whispered, holding Felicia’s head to her breast and stroking her braided hair. ‘We shall love you and make you forget all the bad things that have happened.’
By a course of events quite unlike those he had imagined, Leon became possessor of both girls. Their only rivalry was to prove which of them loved him more. When there was temper or rudeness he, without partiality, spanked the bare bottom of Louise or Felicia with his strap or cane. This only drove them deeper into one another’s arms, and so back into his own.
Love and infatuation spring back from jealousy and obsessive hatred like a ball from a racquet. The sounds from the bed which the two girls shared were still short, breathless exclamations and soft cries as if of some ordeal. But the squirming under the sheet — and often with the sheet thrown clear to reveal the writhing of mutual desire — had a different cause.
Leon was their master, in public and in private. For both Louise and Felicia, the training in the ring became an extension of his passion. The dividing curtain was removed. If he drew one of them to his bed, he no longer hid her from the other. Often it was the pair of them with whom he enjoyed himself. Like a good master, he made an equal and scrupulous division of his substance between the two girls.
With Madame Solange and his friends, the two girls walking as meekly beside his caravan as slaves in the triumph of a conqueror’s procession, he travelled the fairgrounds of spring and summer. Why did Leon accept Felicia so easily after her attempt upon Louise’s life? The answer was one that he never revealed, not even to the girls themselves.
When Felicia was punished for the theft of the ringmistress’ riding-switch, Anton had been alerted by an unsigned note accusing the girl and describing where the stolen object might be found. By the unwritten law of the circus folk, her punishment was not in doubt. She would be stripped and soundly thrashed by her protector. A day or two later Anton had shown Leon the note. He recognised the handwriting from the little bills which the former barmaid of the Cafe du Vieux Port once presented to the customers.
Felicia accused and condemned herself, in the mistaken belief that it was Leon who would strip and chastise her. The heat for him which plagued her loins was so great that she never doubted her power to seduce him by the erotic witchcraft of her naked writhings while he was beating her. When he whipped her on that later occasion, the truth of this was proved. But what terror and dismay had appeared in her face the first time, when he recalled that Fleur-de-Lys had cast a shoe and handed Felicia over to a cold and vindictive thrashing by the tent-master.
At night, when the lights of the great tent were darkened and the arena was deserted, the three of them withdrew to the caravan and the key was turned in the lock. As the two girls undressed, Louise soft and white, Felicia lithe and tawny, Leon considered the events of the day. Occasionally he would lay the cane or the strap upon the bed. But always, even after the training which those objects suggested, he would take his two adoring circus-girls into a long and intimate embrace. Sometimes Madame Solange or the others would hear a sound in the night, intense and perhaps shrill. But they would turn over and go to sleep again with a smile. It was only Leon and his bareback girls.

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