Heather and Claire were in trouble and they knew it, along with the other two foreign women who were detained for trial.  The four sets of chains and shackles that hung prominently from steel hooks set in the wall did not augur well for the foursome.  The uniformed men and women in the courtroom far outnumbered the native observers who chatted among themselves as if they were attending a social event rather than the expected formal administration of a legal procedure.  The rabble chewed betel nuts, spat on the floor and ate with gusto from the native lunch buckets they had brought in anticipation of extended observation of an entertainment. 

Eight of the swarthy policemen escorted the four women forward, with an additional two clearing a path through the gabbling gallery of observers who sat on the dusty floor, in the absence of chairs, in the chamber.  Led literally to the bar, a horizontal steel pipe set on stanchions at waist level, the women blanched at the sight of manacles bolted along the top of the steel rail.  Heavy chains dangled toward the floor where a long dark hardwood plank raised somewhat above the floor spanned the space between the supports of the rail.  A series of semicircles cut into the outward edge, softly burnished by constant use, gently rounded by wear, matched the paired manacles mounted on the rail.  Retracted steel bolts fitted on the edge of the plank, leaving the half circles open, were designed to be shot across the openings and turned to lock into place.  Chivvied forward in the firm and unforgiving grip of two burly police escorts, wincing from the crushing grip on their arms, the women stood lined up before the bar.  At the same time, their ankles were kicked forward into the recesses of the plank and their wrists forced into the open steel manacles.  Stupefied by the quick chain of events that had put them in the custody of local authorities and the hasty but expertly applied force used to bring them to the bar, they looked down at the steel ovals as they closed over their wrists and craned their necks to look down as the steel bolts shot home securely behind their Achilles tendons.  Their forearms were thrust forward, turned with palms up, the tight oval shape of the manacles locked so they couldn’t turn their hands over.  While still puzzling over the restraint of wrists and ankles, too shocked and surprised to protest or resist, the men wrapped their waists with the chains, yanked them tight, eliciting squeals and groans of distress from the women, locking them to the bar with ancient looking, oversized padlocks.  As if in disbelief at their physical restraint they pulled against the bar, tried to move their arms and tested the stock like grip of steel and wood holding their arms and legs immovably planted in its tenacious rigidity.  Nothing yielded.

Imprisoned before the court prior to trial, conviction, or sentencing, the four women looked around them in near panic.  It was then that they spied the gruesome array of chains and manacles ‑ four identical assortments ‑ hanging in grim portent against the stone wall adjacent to a Gothic wooden door.  Notions of quick release and immediate deportation began to evaporate amidst strident cries for lawyers, embassy officials and all the rights and civil treatment expected by foreigners.  The more than two dozen uniformed guards, police, and militarily attired men grinned with a lopsided malevolence at the struggling unbelievers, watching them as the women began to realise the direction their future was about to take. 

The half dozen women assigned to the court, dressed like no others in that strictly religious country but rather looking like Hollywood’s idea of sultry Semitic women warriors dressed for battle, seemed amused by their fair-skinned counterparts bound at the bar.  Stovepipe half boots reaching high on their calves left a good deal of their bare legs exposed under short olive drab skirts that hugged their hips.  Wide black belts were adorned with the usual accoutrements of a prison wardress: sundry items of hideous control and authority far in excess of anything used elsewhere, augmented handcuffs, electronic prods, canisters of pepper spray, and other modern equipment.  Bone breaking chains with T-handles for twisting them tight, leather muzzles and bulbous rubber gags, serrated, spring-loaded clips for painful attachment to sensitive areas of female prisoners, and myriad other devices to evoke terror and cooperation in females hung in heavy excess of painful potentiality from their belts.  The quintessential instruments of control, quirts and crops in individual styles and configurations underscored their authority in dangling readiness at their tight leather sashes.  They didn’t wear brassieres, a fact revealed by the slightest movement setting their breasts swaying and quivering under the thin cotton covering of close fitting olive drab tank tops.  The faint dark blotch of their areolae and the prominent jut of nipples spiked the near transparency of their uniform tops arrogantly as if they were badges of office.  They appeared set on an emotional hair trigger barely able to contain themselves until the court performed the prescribed rituals of trial, conviction, and sentencing.  They had to wait.  It seldom took long.

Three old men looked down on the desperate women chained to the bar.  While the gallery picnicked and discussed the case loudly, the guards gesticulated and milled around in seeming disorganised chaos, laughing and gabbling at God knows what in a language unknown to the women detainees. 

Heather, Claire and the two Swiss girls waited for the proceedings to begin.  Pulled tight to the bar by waist chains, their elbows held tight at their sides by the positioning of their manacled wrists and forearms, hands held forward, palms up, as if in supplication to the court, they watched the elderly greybeards nodding and mumbling among themselves.  While they stood in helpless restraint, trying to gain the attention of anyone who spoke their language, in this cacophony, in this confusion, they were tried, convicted and sentenced.  The court became hushed; the supreme justice announced the outcome in a mumbling monotone unintelligible to any of the accused, but causing the assemblage to erupt with joy, once more filling the chamber with a noisy babble of the incomprehensible. 

Comprehension encompassed the women one at a time as two soldiers and one of the female prison warders surrounded them each at the bar.  The men stood behind, the woman in front.  She seemed to be in charge and as she purred orders, the men acted.  They took Claire first.

Heather followed Claire.  As she had done before, Claire Kelly set an example for the other girls.  Heather Morse had followed the older woman, Claire was thirty-two to Heather’s twenty-four, giving her a relative maturity and worldliness that Heather admired and looked up to.  Heather had followed Claire to the medieval venue of poverty and political oppression where women were treated like cattle.  They had come to proselytise the near starving populace into a more liberal treatment of women while supplying food and medicine as incentive.  There had never been a more wrongheaded notion.  The offences they committed in the short period of three days while setting up a camp for food aid and classes were enough to bring down the authorities with calamitous personal consequences.  The mere clothing they wore was a punishable offence.  Mistakenly, Claire had assumed that foreign women were exempt from local law and tradition and, should there be a problem, the consulate would be able to straighten things out.  Unfortunately, she had neglected to notify the embassy of their presence or intent, intending to do so after establishing the aid and learning centre.  This rash, ill-advised decision effectively cut off any potential help from the embassy and further isolated them from relatives, friends, or any other agent of help they may have needed.  They needed it.

The young vagabond Swiss girls they had met at a bistro in Paris, where they had stayed over had come along for a lark.  With the usual liberal propensities of the young, sure that they could make a difference for their oppressed sex, had volunteered to help.  Both were younger than Heather, taking the European tour before reading English at University.

The four formed a comely group.  Claire, mature, full-blown, lithe of limb with an innocent freckle spattered nose and cheeks that belied her age and the voluptuous form and figure pinned on strong shapely legs, a slim waist above broad hips and her ample bosom, though not overwrought, generous in proportion to her slim torso was the beauty among them.  A full thick mane of flame red hair cascaded like a fire fall down her back when she didn’t have it pinned up, which she usually did.  Its luxurious length and dazzling colour entranced Heather the first time she had seen Claire with her hair down.  She persuaded Claire to let her brush it, thereby instigating a tangible intimacy between the two women that gave them both a gentle pleasure and mutually sybaritic enjoyment in the soft touch and touching of each other.  On the night before their departure from Paris Claire nodded with contentment as Heather caressed her head and hair with her sensitive brushing.  Half carelessly, half on purpose, she let her short dressing gown fall open with a soft sigh exposing the pale beauty of breasts and belly, her full thighs and the rich dark red of her pubic thatch.  Heather voraciously gazed at the exciting nakedness reflected in the mirror before them.  Claire’s eyes were closed, she purred to herself, giving Heather permission to see her, to devour her with her eyes.  The image in the mirror was only a reflection, Heather rationalised, it would be improper to gaze directly at the naked beauty, but the mirror gave license.  With a painful slowness that enriched the experience and aroused both, Heather let her fingers trail down the nape of Claire’s neck as she continued to brush with a growing sensuality through the rich tresses fanned out down Claire’s back and shoulders.  With the assured determination of mutual desire and the timidity of doubt and decorum, Heather slipped the dressing gown from Claire’s shoulders, revealing the beautiful sloped whiteness, the speckled dusky sprinkling of freckles on the pure white canvas of her nearly translucent skin and the lush fall of red that caressed and covered it.  With her eyes still closed, Claire squared her shoulders and purred with a sensual ache in her voice, delighting in Heather’s touch and the soft sensuality of her own hair trailing down her bare back.  Her breasts rose in erotic presentment to the mirror and Heather looked longingly at the reflection.  In an incremental approach urged by desire and tempered with fear of rejection, gathering Claire’s hair behind her head and neck, Heather languorously brought it over one alabastrine shoulder to let it fall over and between the breasts in the mirror.  She couldn’t deal with the flesh and blood of it but the mirror granted permission once more.  So did the woman in the mirror.  In a debt to symmetry and womanly beauty, Heather smoothed the lustrous red strands, making them lie in the deep milky cleavage between Claire’s breasts.  With a gentle tender attention to the placement and pressure applied by her fingers, Heather began to massage the neck and shoulders of her mentor.  Smoothing her hands over the slope and curvature of Claire’s shoulders and arms, returning to the nape of her neck, thumbs pressing into the concavity above the cervical vertebrae lulling her into a state of bemused, helpless somnolence with her head bowed; Heather then moved her hands over the shoulders down her chest and in three false starts migrated finally to the rotund softness of Claire’s breasts.  She raked her nails over the pink areolae and stubby nipples bringing them to stiff attention, leaping hard and turgid from the centres of their dusky based areolae.  They crossed the Rubicon together.  Dreamy eyed, holding hands, they slipped beneath the duvet and enjoyed the fruits of mutual seduction in the Sapphic arts for the first time.  

No questioning morality or ethical dilemmas interrupted their lovemaking.  They had to experiment with each other and talk to each other about what felt nice and what didn’t.  Turned out it all felt good.  Soft and gentle cuddling graduated to caresses, additional teasing and fondling led naturally to more exciting red faced arousal, soft gentle orgasms accompanied their learning about each other and the smothering musky wetness of sex and saliva soaked, swollen, rubescent, vaginal lips clamped around the nose and mouth, hot heaving breath, warm slick juices flowing between soft thighs that covered their ears as they sixty-nined, locked together in a tangle of arms and legs, squealing and groaning in mutual and exhausting sexual climax, trembling, quivering, licking, delving with broad strokes and penetrating flicks of the tongue until drenched in the taste and satiation of each other and in the sheer physical depletion of multiple orgasms, they fell asleep in each others arms permeated with the taste and smell of their long jointly satisfying encounter smeared over their faces and saturating the hirsute covering of mons and labia.