Patriotic Pulcritude on Parade!  SAM's WAR-II Web of the Spider Lady  by Van ©2013


 Chapter 1


"But sir!" Sam objected, "how will you get around if I'm not here to drive you?"

"Well," DCS Foyle answered, "if Sir Hugo is to be believed, and I can't think of a single reason why he shouldn't be, I won't need to be driven around, Sam.  The conference will be visiting several different locations in the area, none of which I am at liberty to divulge, and transportation will be provided."

Sam considered this development.  "I see."  She had driven Foyle up from Hastings for a week-long conference in London.  The details were all very hush-hush.  All Sam knew was it had something to do with police and military cooperation in Southern England.  But now, she found she wasn't to be a part of it.  Sam hadn't expected to be in on the actual meetings, of course, but she had expected to continue her driving duties.  Surely that would mean visiting interesting places.  Driving for Foyle always meant visiting interesting places.  But now, Sam was being told she was superfluous.

"A week in London, Sam," Foyle said.  "You could use a holiday."

Sam blinked uncertainly.  Yes, she could use a holiday—and even with rationing, bomb damage, and the influx of Americans who seemed to be everywhere—London was London.  A smile curled Sam's lips.  "A week?"

"A week," Foyle confirmed with a smile of his own.  "Will that be enough?"

Sam's smile broadened.  She was being teased, and two could play at that game.  "I think so, sir.  I'll let you know if I need more."

Foyle nodded.  "If you need my help in any way, leave word with the conference staff.  If all else fails, drive back to Hastings and return when I call.  All right, Sam?"

How could she refuse?  "Thank you, sir."  Sam's cheeks suddenly blushed rosy red and her smile became a toothy grin.  Was it was possible to have a better boss?

Foyle adjusted his hat.  "In any case, leave word with the conference staff when you find lodgings.  And have fun.  That's an order."  And with that he turned, climbed the stone steps, and entered the office building, leaving Sam alone on the bustling street.

Sam watched as Foyle passed the pair of soldiers standing guard on either side of the entryway.  Both were in full kit with rifles and standing at watchful ease beside sandbag barricades.  She knew that in the lobby identity cards and conference invitations were being verified, and there were more guards.

"A week in London," Sam sighed.  It would be expensive.  The Wolseley would be fine where it was, parked in the building's courtyard beside the dozen staff cars and Jeeps of the other out-of-town conference attendees, and the conference staff already had the keys if it had to be moved.  But as for Sam herself, lodgings could be a problem.  Finding a hotel room would be difficult, regardless of cost.  She could always apply to MTC headquarters for billeting, but that would probably mean a cot and a temporary assignment changing oil and adjusting carburettors in some city garage.  Not much of a holiday.

Just then, a female American naval rating bounded down the steps from the building.  Already somewhat dazed by the sudden change of circumstance, Sam found herself dazzled by the approaching woman.  She was stunning, simply stunning.  Dark brown hair, pale blue eyes, fair complexion, beautiful face, friendly smile, and a figure that even Rita Hayworth would envy... Stunning!  And not even the Yank's naval uniform, the tight bun of her hair, or the black-rimmed glasses perched on her nose could diminish her beauty. 

Apparently, the view from the rear was equally engaging.  Sam noticed the eyes of the guards were on the American's, uh, fantail.

Suddenly, someone bumped into Sam and she very nearly fell to the sidewalk; however, she was steadied by strong hands and disaster was averted.  It was a pair of army officers and they were Americans, like the woman on the steps.

"Watch it," the one who had bumped into Sam muttered.  If Sam wasn't mistaken, he was a colonel.

"Are you all right?" the one who had caught Sam asked, concern in his voice and on his face.

He was a major, a very handsome major, in Sam's opinion.  "I'm fine," Sam answered, then snapped a salute, "sir."

The major smiled and returned Sam's salute.  "Glad to hear it.  Sorry we—"

"Let's go, Bradsaw," the colonel interrupted impatiently, then turned away.  "We're late."

The major gave an apologetic and slightly exasperated shrug, then turned and followed the colonel.  They climbed the steps and the guards presented arms, their full attention returning to the theoretical horizon.  The Americans saluted in reply, then were through he doors.  By then, the female American had arrived and was standing in front of Sam with a concerned smile.

Sam gazed up at the slightly taller, gorgeous Yank with a somewhat uncertain smile of her own.

"Sorry about that," the American sighed.  "Rank is no excuse for acting like a lout.  Are you okay?"

More than a few of Sam's countrymen found the Americans' brash but friendly style to be off-putting.  Sam was not among them.  Her smile broadened.  "Corking well."

"Kicked out of the conference?" the Yank inquired, doing a half turn and nodding towards the entrance.

"Never invited, actually," Sam admitted.  She offered her hand.  "Samantha Stewart, MTC volunteer.  I drove one of the attendees to London, and now find myself unexpectedly adrift."

"Same here," the American admitted with a disarming chuckle as she pumped Sam's hand, "except I'm on temporary assignment in London.  Yeoman Diana Prince.  My boss couldn't get out of going to the conference, but he was nice enough to send me away."

Sam's smile widened.  One couldn't help but like Diana Prince.

"You have a place to stay?" Diana inquired.

"Uh, actually," Sam sighed, "I find myself on an unplanned holiday with no reservations."

"No problem," Diana responded.  "I have plenty of room at my place.  Where's your stuff?"

Sam was slightly taken aback.  "My stuff?"

"Your luggage?"

"Oh, I..."  This was unexpected and uncommonly generous.

"Really," Diana said with a grin, "I have plenty of room."

The irony was inescapable.  Diana Prince, a visitor in England, was offering hospitality to Sam.  In the outrageously unlikely event that she found herself in New York and encountered the beautiful Yank, Sam resolved to return the favour.  "My 'stuff' is in the boot of the saloon."  She gestured to the side of the building and the entrance to the inner courtyard.

Diana frowned, then recognition dawned.  "Oh, the trunk of your car."

"Just so," Sam said with a nod.

"Let's go," Diana said, and they were off to retrieve Sam's valise.
Web of the Spider Lady— 1
Her name was Roulan.  She was in her early twenties and her toned, athletic body was naked, and while her face was attractive, even to Europeans and other barbarians, she was far from the Chinese ideal of feminine beauty.  Her features were pleasing and symmetrical, but like her physique, too hard and well-toned.  A fool might mistake her for a farmer or labourer.  The more intelligent might think her a dancer or acrobat.  The wise (and prudent) would see Roulan for what she was, a student of kung-fu and a soldier.  However, naked as she was, they might not recognize her as a soldier of the Si-Fann.  The Si-Fann Society did not indulge in tattoos or scarification to mark its members.  Hence, there were no tell-tale ink or scar symbols marring her smooth, firm skin.  That said, Roulan's skin was marred in that she glistened with sweat from head to toe.  You see, Roulan was being punished.

Her neck and wrists were locked in a thick, round cangue, a heavy wooden pillory supported only by her arms and shoulders.  It was something like the solid wheel of a cart, with neck and wrist openings, iron hinges and straps, and secured by a hefty padlock.  This particular model tipped the scales at nearly thirty catty or "pounds" in barbarian reckoning, and bearing its weight was quite an ordeal, especially after the wearer's muscles began to tire.  Complicating Roulan's situation, she was up on her toes and straddling an iron post topped by a narrow iron saddle studded with sharp spikes.  If she came down off her toes, the spikes would punish her crotch, and while the damage would not be lethal, it would be most unpleasant.  Further, on all sides of the cangue, an array of curious and quite elaborate devices dangled from the ceiling on chains.  If any one of them was struck by an edge of the cangue with significant force, counterweights would shift and a clockwork device would be triggered.  Leather thongs mounted on wheels would spin and Roulan's breasts, torso, and thighs would be whipped with enough force to leave her striped with angry red weals.  As a final touch, decorative steel clamps taking the shape of a pair of angry dragons stretched and pinched her nipples.  The dragons each weighed something like ten to twelve tael, and their spring-loaded jaws were strong enough and their teeth sharp enough to cause Roulan constant pain—pain which she forced herself to ignore.

Roulan did not complain about her predicament for two reasons:

(1)  A crumpled silk cloth filled her open mouth to capacity and was held in place by her own long, raven-black hair, plaited into twin braids intertwined with silk ribbons, cinched tight across her mouth and between her teeth, and knotted together at the nape of her neck.

(2)  A soldier of the Si-Fann did not know hunger, thirst, fear, or fatigue, and she never complained, even when being punished, and even if her punishment was unjust.

In point of fact, Roulan had done nothing wrong; however, Madam had ordered her to be punished, and the word of the mistress was law.

Roulan suspected she might be window dressing for a meeting between Madam and one of the round-eyed devils with whom she was forced to associate.  This was Roulan's first time in such a role, but since coming to London she had seen her fellow soldiers used in this way on more than one occasion.  Suffering frightened and impressed the barbarians.  It confirmed Madam's power and often made the masks of her visitors' slip, however briefly—not that barbarians had proper masks to begin with, of course.  Europeans were easy to read; however, that did not make their actions totally predictable, not always, not even to Madam.  They were barbarians.

Just then, Roulan's suspicion was confirmed.  Two women entered the subterranean torture chamber that was also a well-appointed sitting room.

The first was Madam, herself, Fūrén Fah lo Shuee, daughter of Fu Manchu and the Hand of Si-Fann in England.  She was dressed in the height of wartime London fashion: expensive shoes, stockings, a tailored skirt and jacket over a white blouse, and the appropriate hat.  Her long hair was dressed in current English style.  A small brooch with the sun symbol of the Kuomintang was pinned to the right lapel of her jacket.  The ridiculous outfit was camouflage, of course, including the pin—especially the pin.  Madam Fah lo Shuee was no more loyal to Chiang Kai-shek than to the British Empire, the Communists, or the overreaching fools of the Black Dragon.  She was a daughter of Fu Manchu.

The second woman was a barbarian, dressed much like mistress, but without the Kuomintang pin.  Her mode of dress was not camouflage.  She was a rich Englishwoman.  Also, her hair was a startling shade of red, almost copper.  Her eyes were green, and her face dappled with freckles.  Roulan had seen her kind before.  She might be from Ireland, a nearby island to the west.

Madam led the red-haired barbarian to a small set of English-style table and chairs off to one side, gestured, and they sat.  The redhead's green eyes were on Roulan.  Madam ignored her suffering soldier, as was proper.

"I have received payment," Madam said to the barbarian, "but there is a minor complication."

The redhead directed her foolishly condescending gaze to her hostess.  "A complication?"

There was movement in the doorway and a young girl, a servant, entered the chamber with a tea service, an English tea service.  And she was, indeed, a servant, as loyal as any Si-Fann soldier, but she only knew perhaps a half-dozen ways to kill, not counting poisons.  She was not a soldier.  She placed the tray on the table and bowed to the mistress.  Then, remaining bowed, she gracefully backed out the door.

"Your target has made a friend in the city," Madam continued.  She lifted the teapot and filled the two cups.  "She is not alone, not as vulnerable as planned."

The barbarian added milk and sugar to her tea, then took a sip.  "So?"

"So, Lady Jane," Madam purred, "I shall almost certainly have to deal with the target and her new friend."

"I want Samantha Stewart helpless and in my power," Lady Jane emphasized.  "That is our agreement.  This so-called friend is inconsequential."

To understand Lady Jane d'Arcy's inexplicable hatred of sweet, adorable Samantha Stewart, read...  SAM's WAR: The d'Arcy Mansion Mystery. We'll wait right here 'til you get back.

"Probably," Madam agreed.  "There should be no added expense, but I wanted you to be aware, in case further complications arise.  Scotland Yard is stretched thin, and the disappearance of a single young woman in London might go almost unremarked, even by the sensational newspapers.  However, the disappearance of two women, especially if they were last seen together, might attract additional attention."

"I don't care," Lady Jane responded.  "I want that little trollop in the dungeons of Castle Killjoy.  Do what you want with her friend."

Roulan didn't even bother to gaze at the British barbarian.  She was so open, the anger and wounded pride on her features and in her voice so obvious.  It was a disgusting display.

"Very well."  Madam set down her cup and saucer and stood, all in one graceful motion.

Roulan could tell that Lady Jane wasn't used to being dismissed without the usual social niceties, but she stood as well.  The barbarian feared Madam Fah lo Shuee.  She wasn't a complete fool after all.

Without further words, Madam and the barbarian made their exit; but as she passed, Madam let her eyes pass over Roulon's shining, strained, naked form.  Madam was impossible to read, unless she wished to convey a message.  And in this case, a message had been conveyed: "You will be brought to me, tonight."  It was as clear as if Madam had spoken.  Roulan would be rewarded for her stoicism.  She would be allowed to pleasure her mistress.

Roulan prepared her body and mind to withstand the remainder of her ordeal.  The pleasuring of her mistress and the pleasure it would bring to her were hours away.  But who would dare release a Si-Fann soldier from punishment before Madam was ready to put said soldier's lips and tongue to service?
Web of the Spider Lady—1
Diana's flat was on the third floor of a small boarding house.  The housekeeper, Mrs. McGonagall, was a widow.  By her accent she was clearly from Scotland, and Sam found her to be very nice.  She was introduced as they entered the building and Diana explained the situation.  A very reasonable rate was quickly negotiated and permission granted for Sam to sleep on Diana's couch.  Mrs. McGonagall's one hard and fast rule was "No gentlemen callers!" but it was clear she was as much a grandmother to "her girls" as their landlady.  And she was even nice enough to throw in the use of a towel, wash cloth, blanket, pillow, and a full set of sheets.  There wasn't a dining room, so Sam kept her ration book.  Sam placed a call to the conference and left a message for DCS Foyle, informing him of her whereabouts.  Then, with Diana carrying the linen and Sam with valise in hand, they mounted the stairs.

Diana's digs weren't what one could call posh, but there was room for Sam, as promised.  It was a single room with a bed, a couch, a small table and chairs, and a tiny sink and electric hotplate that passed for the kitchen.  They'd be a little cramped, but it was bigger than Sam's flat in Hastings.  The loo and bathtub were one flight down and shared by the dozen or so residents, all of whom seemed to be young women in uniform.

Sam's travelling kit was severely limited: basic toiletries, two changes of underwear, three if you counted what she was wearing, her carefully folded raincoat, and a spare uniform blouse.  She hadn't brought any civilian clothes with her as she'd expected to spend her days driving DCS Foyle, not gadding about London, and it wouldn't do to be dragging around a full suite of luggage.  In any case, while Sam's best dresses were nice enough and would do in a pinch, none of them were the height of city fashion.  This was London.  Even the shop girls were well dressed.  Not to worry, however, as going out on the town in uniform was perfectly acceptable.  It seemed like half the city was in one uniform or another.

"I know a good Italian place where we can grab a bite," Diana said once they were inside her flat.

Sam was surprised.  "Italian?  Really?"  After Italy joined the Axis, most Italian establishments in England had either closed or changed their names.  There had even been a little rioting and a few places had their windows smashed, or worse.  From personal experience Sam knew a popular Ristorante in Hastings that had been burnt out and the proprietor killed in the process.  It had been horrible, a truly shameful disgrace.

"Its name is The Strutting Cock," Diana explained, "but the menu is authentic Napolitano, or as authentic as rationing will allow.  You'll love it."

Sam was impressed.  She'd already learned that Diana was on some sort of temporary assignment and had only been in England a little more than a month, but she seemed perfectly at home in London.  Sam was feeling something like the Country Mouse to the American's City Mouse, but her hostess was so friendly and kind that Sam couldn't help but feel completely welcome.

Meanwhile, Diana was unbuttoning her uniform jacket.  "We have time for a quick bath," she said as she removed her cross-style Navy tie and began unbuttoning her blouse.  "I'm already on the sign-up sheet and we can share the time slot if we don't mess around."

"Smashing."  Sam unbuckled and removed her belt, then began unbuttoning her jacket.  "You go first and I'll be right behind."

Diana continued undressing—and she was beautiful.  Sam had already made that assessment, but as the brunette removed her uniform brogans and her skirt, then removed her half-slip, stockings, garter belt, bra, and knickers—she redefined the term!  Athletic and feminine with strong muscles and smooth curves; firm, generous, perfectly proportioned breasts; a wasp-thin waist and flat, defined tummy; and killer legs...  Beautiful!

Sam was instantly jealous, and hated herself for it.  She knew she was reasonably fit and not unattractive, but her body was boyish and her breasts mere "bee stings" next to Diana.  Sam resolved not to hold Diana's gorgeous body against her... so to speak.

"Why don't you put on the kettle?" Diana suggested.  Her hair was still up and she was wearing her glasses, but she was otherwise nude.  Her back to Sam, the American opened the wardrobe and reached for a cotton robe.

"Will do," Sam answered, but before she could act there was a knock at the door.  "I'll get it," Sam said as Diana shrugged into the robe and cinched its sash.  Sam's hair was down, her tie loose, and her feet bare, but she was otherwise presentable.  She opened the door.

It was Mrs. McGonagall, and she presented Sam with a sealed envelope.  "This arrived for you just now, my dear," she said.  "I do hope it's good news."

"Thank you, Mrs. McGonagall," Sam said as she closed the door.  The envelope was stamped with the return address of the building hosting the police and army conference and was addressed to Sam in an elegant but unfamiliar hand.  "My, that was quick," she noted, staring at the envelope with a frown.

"New orders?" Diana inquired.  She was unpinning her hair.

Sam tore open the envelope and found two tickets inside a folded flyer.  They were for the "Tillingham Theatre," a music hall which, by its address, was somewhere in the East End if Sam wasn't mistaken.  Most if not all of the acts listed on the flyer seemed to have a Chinese theme: the Dancing Dragon Acrobatic Troupe; Mongo the Chinese Samson; The Sorcerer Chang-Chen, Master of Ethereal Magic; etc.

"Chinatown," Diana said, reading the flyer over Sam's shoulder.  "Sounds like fun.  A gift from your boss?"

"Apparently," Sam said.  There was no note, but who else could have sent the tickets?  She smiled at her hostess.  "Shall we?"

"You're inviting me along?" Diana inquired.

Sam grinned.  "I suppose I could stand in the middle of Waterloo Station, wait for a trainload of soldiers and sailors on leave to disembark, and casually inquire in a loud voice if anyone would care a accompany me on a date; but I'd either cause a riot or be arrested."

"Or both," Diana laughed, then grabbed a towel and headed for the door.  "I'll be quick," she promised, and was gone.

Sam smiled and resumed undressing.  At times, DCS Christopher Foyle could be something like a doting uncle.  Of course, on other occasions, when Sam had been overly curious and stuck her nose into official police business unasked, he could make her squirm under his disapproving frown as he dressed her down with a dozen pithy and exquisitely well chosen words.  But Foyle knew that Sam's heart was very much in the right place, and by and large he was a teddy bear of a boss.  Sam would have to remember to thank him for his generosity when it came time to return to Hastings.

So far, Sam's unexpected London holiday was off to a smashing start.
Web of the Spider Lady—Chapter 1

Chapter 2