Polly James has a difficult start in life. Evicted by her aunt and uncle at the age of 18 she is forced into the workhouse in 1820s London and one day, in desperation, she steals a ring – but is caught. As an alternative to jail she is offered the opportunity to go to Australia to live as a de facto wife for three farmers. Life in Australia is hard for these early settlers and the lack of women means that a young man from an aristocratic background, Archibald Burton, comes up with this scheme of a shared wife to help solve the problem.
Polly has a difficult voyage and is twice punished for crimes she did not commit and lives in trepidation of the life that awaits her in Australia. Fortunately two out of three of her “husbands” turn out to be kind, and one, in particular, introduces Polly to the excitements of the bedroom she never knew existed. Unfortunately the third man does not treat Polly well, but she endures him, comforted by the fact that the other two make up for his cold treatment.
When tragedy comes to the farm, the local constable is shocked to hear about the living arrangements of the four people and believes that Polly is implicated in the death of one of the men. It takes a man she thought she would never see again to rescue her from the despair she feels at the injustice that is heaped upon her.
Polly paused for a few seconds to catch her breath. She had run so fast and for so long that she had a pain in her side. She glanced behind her. Good, there was no sign of the Bow Street Runners. Perhaps she had managed to give them the slip. The bottom of her gown was ripped where she had caught it in the railings near to the shop where she had stolen the ring, and it was trailing in the mud. It would have to wait, however, until she was back at the workhouse. The ring was safely tucked down the front of her gown, and would remain there until she reached safety.
She began to regret the impulse that had led her to grab the ring. She had not thieved before, but she was so hungry. The food at the workhouse was dreadful and there was little of it. She had tried so hard to find work, but employers took one look at her appearance and turned their noses up at her, and even more so when she told them where she was living. If she could only get a new frock, she might be in with a chance of getting a job as a shop assistant. Once she got a foot in the door, she would work so hard. She was determined to make something of her life, but it was so difficult with no family to help her. When she saw the ring and realised that the manager was busy with a customer, she just grabbed it and ran. But the manager spotted her and shouted to two passing Runners to catch the thief.
She desperately needed to pee and looked around for a bit of privacy where she could do her business. To one side was an alleyway with piles of rubbish that had been left there from the morning market. She turned into the alleyway and relieved herself behind one of the rubbish piles. She had just managed to re-arrange her clothing when a figure appeared at the entrance to the alley, dressed in the dark uniform of the Runners.
She turned and desperately sought an escape route through the alleyway, but a high wall blocked her path and she knew it was too tall for her to scale. She turned in panic, hoping that the Runner hadn’t seen her and that she would be able to crouch down behind the rubbish, but already he was heading towards her, baton in hand, followed closely by a second Runner. Polly sighed and prepared to surrender.
That night she sat in the crowded lockup, with eight other women of all ages. The smell was overpowering and Polly was forced to sit on the dirty floor, as those who had been there the longest occupied the only bench in the cell. None of the women looked at all sympathetically at her. In here, it was every woman for herself.
A jailer came along with a bucket of water and a ladle, which he offered to the women through the bars of the cell. Polly drank her ladleful gratefully. The water was brackish but helped to quench her raging thirst. Another jailer pressed a lump of bread into her hand, but before she could clench her jaws around it, the lump was snatched away from her. Polly whirled around to face a fierce looking woman who glared at her as if to say, What are you going to do about it? The woman was twice Polly’s size and looked very mean. Polly decided not to challenge her and the woman retreated to the corner to eat the bread.
That night was one of the longest and most uncomfortable nights of Polly’s life, with crying and cursing women all around as she sat against the cold stone wall with just her dress to keep her warm, and it was a great relief to see the daylight peeking through the small window high up in the cell wall. She heard the turning of a key and the door leading to the cells was swung open. A constable came through, with a smartly dressed gentleman following behind.
“This is last night’s lot. And a motley bunch they are too, Sir.”
The gentleman had an expression on his face that reflected his distaste for the place he found himself. He stood in front of the bars of the cell and surveyed the women within. Polly could see his dark eyes looking each of the women up and down, spending just a few seconds on one before quickly passing on to the next. His eyes settled on Polly and paused for several seconds more than he had on her companions.
“I’ll take those two.”
He pointed to a woman a few feet from Polly. She was a few years older than her and looked fit and strong. Then his finger pointed to Polly as his second choice.
She had no idea what was happening but complied when the door to the cell opened and the constable grabbed her arm and pulled her out into the corridor.
“I’d better secure them, Sir. First chance they get they will make a run for it.”
The constable grabbed both of Polly’s hands and looped a piece of rope around her wrists, tying them behind her body. The other end of the rope was wrapped similarly around the wrists of the other woman, thereby tying the two women together.
“Come. Follow me.”
The two women followed the gentleman, and the constable walked behind. They were led along a corridor and into a small office, where a man was sitting behind a desk. The rope was removed from around their wrists.
“Stand there. No moving and no talking unless you are asked a question.”
The gentleman who had come to the cell spoke first.
“What charges are these two women facing?”
“The youngster is suspected of stealing a gold ring from a jewellery store near to the market, and the other one was caught servicing her client in an alleyway. She was on her knees when seen, and the gentleman with her was in a state of disarray, if you get my meaning, Sir.”
“Has the young woman been searched for the ring?”
“Not yet Sir. We were about to do this when you arrived.”
The gentleman turned and faced me.
“Well Miss, what have you to say? Did you take the ring as accused?”
“No, Sir. Honest, Sir. I wouldn’t do such a thing.”
“So you wouldn’t have any objection if we were to search you then?”
The young woman swallowed. She knew that they would find the ring very easily and her face gave away her dilemma. The gentleman looked her intently in the face with as severe an expression as he could muster.
“This is your last chance. If you continue to deny you took the ring and we find it on your person, you will be charged with theft, and go down for a long time. If you own up, however, and express true remorse, then we might be able to offer you a way out of your predicament. What is it to be?”
Polly looked at the grim expression on the man’s face and knew that she had little choice. She reached her hand down the bodice of her dress and retrieved the ring from its hiding place. She held it out to the gentleman.
“Here it is, Sir. I took it and I’m very sorry that I did it, but I was hungry, Sir, and I was going to sell it for food and perhaps a new frock too, so I can get work.”
The gentleman looked intently at her, but said nothing. He began to walk around Polly, looking her up and down, and speaking to the man behind the desk.
“She looks strong and healthy. I will need to get her checked over by the doctor of course. But, provided he is happy, then she will be suitable for our needs.”
He turned back to Polly.
“What is your name girl?”
“Polly James, Sir.”
“And how old are you Polly?”
“I’m eighteen, Sir.”
“Do you have family Polly?”
“Only an uncle and aunt, Sir. My parents died when I was young and my uncle and aunt took me to live with them.”
“Are you still living with them?”
“No Sir. They told me to leave a few months ago. Said they couldn’t afford to feed me and that I was to find a job and somewhere else to live. Only it has been very hard, Sir. I couldn’t find much work and had to move into the Workhouse, Sir.”
The gentleman, whose name was Archibald Burton, stood with his chin resting in his hand, listening to Polly’s tale.Darn it, the girl was damn fine looking, despite the dirt and the torn clothing. It was hard to concentrate on the task in hand.
“Have you heard of Australia?”
The blank expression on Polly’s face told him that she was ignorant of that colony on the other side of the world.
“It is a country where men go to seek their fortunes, but it is a hard place to live, especially for a man on his own, without a wife to provide him with home comforts. There is a great lack of women in that country, Polly, and we are looking for suitable women to go there to be wives for these men.”
He paused and moved closer to her.
“What I am offering to you, Polly, is that, in place of the charge of stealing the ring, which will send you to prison for many years, we will grant you a pardon, provided you agree to be such a wife for a minimum of five years. During those five years, you will receive the sum of one guinea for each year from your husband, to be paid at the end of your contract, provided you stay for the full five years. Might you be interested in such a proposition, Polly?”
Polly thought hard. The choice seemed to be going to jail in England for as long as ten years, or becoming a wife in Australia for five years – and even being paid for doing so. At the end of five years, she would receive the sum of five guineas, a sum of money that, with the experiences of her life so far, was difficult to comprehend. Surely, that had to be better than ten years in a stinking jail.
“I think I would be interested Sir. Would I be able to see the man I am to marry before the ceremony?”
“No, Polly, that would not be possible. I need to explain something further. When I say that you will be a wife, I do not mean that you will be a legal wife, but just that you would be expected to behave as a wife would. Do you understand what I mean by that, Polly?”
“I… I think so, Sir.”
“In case you do not, I will be more specific. You will be expected to cook and clean and do all the tasks in the home that a husband might expect of a wife, and then you will be expected to share a bed at night and provide your husband with the comforts that a wife provides.” He looked closely at Polly’s face to see if the implications of that last remark were understood. “Are you still a maiden, Polly, or have you lain with a man in his bed already?”
“I… I am still a m… maiden, Sir.” Polly was embarrassed at such talk. True, there had been men who had tried to take advantage of her since leaving her aunt and uncle’s home, but Polly had always managed to avoid such men and had kept her body pure. She still dreamed that, one day, she would meet a handsome man who would fall in love with her, and she hoped that she would be able to offer him her virtue when that day arrived.
Archibald Burton paused for a few moments. There was still one vital piece of information he needed to impart and he was sure that it might cause alarm to the young woman, especially now that he learned that she was still a virgin. He had rather hoped that she had been a fallen woman as what he was about to say might sit better with such a woman.
“There is one more piece of information I must give you. We have a serious shortage of available women to take on the role of wife to these men, and for this reason the solution we have come up with is that each available woman shall be shared by three men, who will all live together.”
Polly gasped. Surely, he wasn’t expecting her to become a wife to three men at the same time?
Mr. Burton continued talking, trying to soothe any worries that the young woman might have. “The men will each sign a contract, agreeing to share you equitably and not to expect you to engage in activities with more than one husband at a time. On that, we are very strict. We do not condone debauchery and expect the three husbands to exercise restraint over marital relations with you.”
This statement did not calm Polly’s concerns, however, and she wondered if she would prefer to take her chances with the Courts of Justice in England, rather than face such a future in a country so far away.
Mr. Burton noticed her alarm and decided that a tougher stance might be required. He turned to the man behind the desk. “Sir, you are a clerk to the Magistrate, what sentence do you think that this young woman might receive for the crime committed?”
The clerk spoke for the first time. “Well, only last week I heard the Magistrate say that he was concerned at the increase in crime and has decided that he needs to come down hard on the perpetrators. He said that he was going to make examples of the people coming before the court. It wouldn’t surprise me, Sir, if this young woman received twelve years with hard labour for taking such a valuable item as a gold ring.”
Polly heard this statement with horror. She was very conflicted and considered that there was little to choose between equally dreadful outcomes.
Archibald Burton decided to try a gentler approach. He put out his hand and touched the young woman briefly on the arm, even though normally touching such a criminal was personally abhorrent to him. He truly did feel some sympathy for the young woman. She had such a sweet, pretty face and not the hardened features of so many women who lived as she did. When he compared her circumstances with his own sister, of the same age, he knew just how few opportunities a woman like Polly had and how unsurprising it was that she should turn to crime.
“Now Polly, you must not become upset over this. It might turn out for the best you know. You might develop affection for one of the men and he may offer himself to you in a real marriage. If such an event was to happen, and it has happened before, then the man would have the opportunity to buy you out of the remainder of the contract and make you his legal wife.” He wasn’t being entirely honest, for although in theory such an event might occur, he had never personally come across it. But his job was to persuade as many women as possible to agree to such a scheme.
Polly thought some more about what he had said and came to a conclusion. “Very well, Sir. I will do as you ask. You say that I will be free to leave once the five years is up?”
“Absolutely. The choice will be yours. There is just one further thing we need to do before you sign the contract. You will need to have a medical check by our doctor. It is important that we ensure that you are free from disease before we send you on the long sea voyage to Australia. Constable, perhaps you would take Polly to the room next door where the doctor is waiting, whilst I interview this other woman. Stand outside in the corridor when you have handed her over to the doctor.” With that, Archibald Burton lost interest in Polly and turned his attention to the other woman who had been standing silently throughout their discussions.
Polly was escorted to the next room where a plump, rather elderly doctor, with small, round glasses, was waiting impatiently. He had been kicking his heels in there for twenty minutes and was anxious to do his work and return home.
The constable handed the doctor the sheet of paper on which Polly’s details had been written, and retired to the corridor. What a pity, he thought. I was rather looking forward to seeing the doctor’s examination.
The doctor looked at the pretty, young woman with the long, wavy, auburn hair and the smooth, creamy complexion. He noted also that she was quite comely as far as her figure was concerned. Perhaps he wouldn’t need to rush off home quite as quickly as he had planned. “So, Miss Polly James, come over here and let me look at you.”
The girl looked a bit thin from lack of food, but seemed quite healthy apart from that. He noted from the sheet of paper that she claimed to be a maiden. Well he would have to verify that fact for himself. A few drops of perspiration appeared on his brow as the thought of undertaking an intimate examination on a pretty girl made his temperature raise somewhat.
“Right Polly, I shall need to examine you to make sure you are in good health. Would you please remove your outer clothes for me?”
Polly blushed profusely. She was a naturally modest girl and was most uncomfortable at the thought of showing her body to this man, doctor or not.
“Come on girl. I haven’t got all day. Without a medical examination, they won’t accept you on this scheme. They have to be certain that you won’t be a burden to the people to whom you have been contracted.”
Polly reluctantly began to unbutton her dress and kicked off her shoes. Very soon, she was standing in front of the doctor clad only in her undergarments. He began by examining her hair, looking for lice infestation, and followed by opening her mouth and checking her teeth. Then he took his listening device and held it against her chest, smiling when he heard a strong, steady beat from her heart.
So far so good, he thought to himself. The girl looks healthy enough for someone who has been living on the street.He was about to fondle the girl’s breasts when the door opened, and Archibald Burton entered the room. The doctor pulled his hand back sharply.
Archibald had noticed. Burton knew the doctor very well and wasn’t at all surprised at what he had been about to do. Indeed, that was the reason he had decided to enter the room when he did. The fact that the woman being examined was attractive and shapely had no bearing on the matter, he told himself.
The doctor cleared his throat and tried to concentrate on the matter in hand. That darned Burton, turning up to spoil my fun. Still, there’s the necessary investigation of the girl’s virtue, even if I won’t be able to give her quite as thorough a feel as I would have liked.
“Now, Polly, I see that you are claiming to still be a maiden. Mr. Burton, here, will need proof of that, and also needs me to check for signs of venereal disease, so I want you to drop your drawers and jump up here on to the table.”
Even as he said it, he could feel a stirring in his groin. Darn it, I hope I can keep myself under control. It wouldn’t do to make a fool of myself and be stopped from future work of this kind. His wife had long since turned into a stout, middle-aged woman, who exuded about as much sex appeal as a bar of soap and he greatly looked forward to little interludes like this one to add a little spice to his life.
Meanwhile, Polly was undoing the bow at the top of her drawers, her cheeks burning fiercely. She knew it would be pointless to object and the sooner she did as he asked, the sooner the examination would be over. She dropped her drawers on to the floor and quickly hopped on to the table in front of her. She clenched her hands in her lap in an attempt to shield herself from view, her red face facing downwards. She was much too embarrassed to look at either of the men in the room.
Archibald Burton was pleased to see her signs of modesty. That was usually a good sign when checking on a woman’s virtue. He couldn’t resist moving further towards the end of the table, however, so that he would be able to take a closer look when the doctor examined her.
“Now, Polly, I need you to lie down with your bottom close to the end of the table, and with your knees raised. That’s a good girl. Now I want you to make your legs floppy and open them as wide as you can.”
She did as she was told, but kept her eyes tightly clenched, trying to avoid seeing the two men. She told herself that if she couldn’t see them then they wouldn’t see her, even though there was a clear flaw in her reasoning.
There was silence for a moment as both men looked at the sight before them. The doctor was looking for external signs of disease, as well as enjoying the feeling in his groin that such a sight invariably caused.
Archibald, however, was simply enjoying the view and his twitching cock bore testament to that.
Several seconds elapsed before the doctor cleared his throat and continued with the examination.
“Now my dear, I need to check inside to see if your maidenhead is intact. I will try not to hurt you”
He dipped his first two fingers into a jar of lubricant he had brought with him from his surgery. With his left hand, he pulled open the folds of flesh and noted that the young woman was already moist. To Polly’s shame, he drew the matter to the attention of the man at his side.
“Hmm. Virgin or not, she certainly seems to be sexually responsive, which is probably a good sign for her future, but I would consider some sort of chastity belt for the long journey if you want the girl to arrive in Australia in the same condition as she left.”
Archibald did not reply, merely nodding his head.
The doctor proceeded to push his first two fingers into her channel and soon came upon the membrane, still intact, which told him that she had not been penetrated. “Virgo intacta, Mr. Burton, you will be pleased to hear.”
He withdrew his fingers and could not resist touching her clitoris on the way out, causing Polly to shiver and utter a soft groan – a fact that did not go unnoticed by either man.
“There’s just one more examination to go, Polly. Please climb off the table and then I want you to bend over the end of the table.” He glanced over at the man next to him and was pleased to note that he wasn’t the only one to be sexually aroused, judging by the bulge in Archibald’s trousers.
Polly was now beyond caring as far as modesty was concerned and did as she was asked.
Archibald could not take his eyes off Polly’s magnificent bottom, which was pink and soft and shapely. The sort of bottom he would give anything to spank. He would dream of this bottom for months to come.
The doctor dipped his hand in the lubricant once again and, pressing Polly down with his hand on her lower back, began sliding his index finger into her rear passage. He moved his finger around a few times before withdrawing it.
“No sign of entry there either, Mr. Burton, and no sign of disease either. I think I can safely say that this young woman is quite pure and untouched. But bear in mind my suggestion for the voyage, won’t you.”
He told Polly to get dressed and signed the medical certificate that Archibald had presented to him, anxious to get home and into his study, so that he could re-live the examination of the girl in privacy. “Well, I’d best get home. My wife gets upset if I am late for supper.”
He put on his coat, picked up his bag and shook Archibald’s hand, before leaving the room.
* * * * *
Archibald stood for a moment, watching Polly button up her dress, his mind still disturbed by the scene that had just witnessed. It’s a pity that the girl is pure. I wouldn’t have minded a little session with her before she goes. She has an arse just made for spanking, and a cunt just waiting to be deflowered, and an added bonus of a sweet face that a man would not get tired of kissing. He knew that he would lose his job if he were the cause of the girl losing her virginity. Men paid extra to get a wife in this condition and now that the doctor had certified her, it was too late.
As a single man of thirty-two, he did not have the luxury of a wife waiting at home, as the doctor did. Perhaps he would stop at the alehouse before going back to his lodgings. Maybe the dark haired lass would oblige him with a little manual stimulation as she had in the past. He sighed, before calling in the constable from outside in the passageway.
“Put her in a cell by herself. The girl is a maiden, so make sure that she stays that way overnight. I will be back for her in the morning.”
The other woman he had singled out earlier did not even make it to this stage of the selection process when it was noted by the sharp-sighted constable that the woman was, in fact, with child. She was placed back into the crowded cell.