Proving My Sanity

byoggbashan©

My private life is already thought to be scandalous because I have Indian mistresses. Marrying Sumitra won't make much difference to the public aversion to my ménage. That idiot doctor could be easily persuaded to say that the fits I suffered during the fever were evidence of insanity -- particularly if he was offered a substantial sum of money.

I, and we, need to demonstrate that although I am frail because of my age, I am of sound mind and able to make decisions by myself. The vicar could testify that I asked for the banns to be read for my marriage to Sumitra before I had the fever. My solicitors could say that I rewrote my will before the fever, and in anticipation of my marriage. I didn't sign and deliver my testament until after the marriage, but the document had been written months ago.

But how do I prove that I was and am sane? I reached out to take Sumitra's hand. I brought it to my lips and kissed it. I'll need her help to prove my sanity, and perhaps that of my mistresses as well. How?

+++

Back at the house all five of us sat down in the summer parlour for tea. After the maid had left I looked at the four women dressed in their crinolines.

"I feel safer while you are dressed as English ladies," I said.

"Why, husband?" Sumitra said, stumbling over the unfamiliar word husband.

"When you are wearing your sarees I know you can whip them off and wrap me tightly in seconds. As you are now? You haven't got material to wrap me."

"I think you underestimate us, Anthony. Please stand up, and you English ladies please stand too."

Sumitra locked the parlour's door. The other three women stood, one behind me, and one each side of me. There is one thing about all four of them being Anglo-Indian, not Indian women. They are taller than Indian women might be. All of them are slightly taller than me. Sumitra stood in front of me. Her crinolined skirt spread around her, the lower frill splayed across the carpet.

"Ladies?" Sumitra said.

Six arms grabbed me and pushed me gently downwards. Sumitra bent forward and grasped the front hem of her dress. She pulled it upwards as the three women pushed me forwards under Sumitra's crinoline. She dropped it to the floor. I was enclosed in darkness inside her wide skirt. I tried to lift an edge. I couldn't. The three women were standing on the frill of Sumitra's skirt trapping me.

"As you can see, Anthony," I heard Sumitra say through the muffling layers of skirt and petticoats, "We don't need sarees. A crinoline and dress is enough. But you know that our naked bodies can restrain you. You are our captive whenever we want."

Naked? Sumitra was naked under her crinoline. My face had brushed against a bare leg. What if?

I felt around in the darkness to put my hands on her thighs. I felt her flinch at my touch. I brought my head up between her legs until I felt hair against my face. Between that hair was a warm soft place. I kissed it.

"Anthony!" Sumitra squealed. "You can't! Not here!"

I could. I did. I kissed. I extended my tongue and licked. My tongue entered between her lower lips and caressed. The crinoline was shaking around me as Sumitra tried to pull away but my hands on her thighs meant I kept tonguing her. She groaned above me. Her cleft became warmer and wetter as I licked, kissed and sucked.

Soon, too soon, her dress and crinoline was lifted. I emerged still kneeling.

"Why, Anthony, why?" Sumitra asked.

"I was showing my wife how much I love her," I replied.

"And us? What about us?" Meena asked.

"Lift a skirt, and I'll be there," I answered.

Three skirts lifted as one.

"I can't do all three at the same time," I protested. "Who is first? Wife? Can you choose one for me to start with, please?"

Sumitra pointed at Asha. Two skirts lowered. I crawled under and inside the one still raised. My tongue was exhausted by the time I had produced squeals of delight from all three of them.

+++

After I had satisfied all four of them it was time for luncheon. We had moved into the small dining room where a cold collation had been laid out. As often before I thought that we should have luncheon in the large dining room because it became crowded with all my mistresses and their children. I know how many there are, but Sumitra and the three I had taken to the vicarage are currently my principal mistresses -- and wife.

After luncheon I asked the four of them to join me back in the summer parlour. We all sat down. I sat on an upright chair facing four ladies with wide spreading skirts.

"I have a problem," I started bluntly. "I have married Sumitra. I would have married all four of you but English Law doesn't allow that. What I will do is treat you as if I had married all of you and Sumitra is my senior wife. My will sets up a trust for all my assets. My official wife Sumitra is the principal trustee advised by my family lawyers, but you three unofficial wives are also trustees."

"What does that mean?" Gita asked.

"Listen, and I'll tell you. The trust provides for my estate to be kept together to provide an income to support all four of you, my other mistresses, my, no, our children and the staff. I am trying to buy more land that will provide a larger income so that all of you will live in comfort. Those who want to marry after I have died will be given a dowry, as will the female children. The boys? The trust will give them support to find a career, buying commissions in the Army for example -- possibly the Army in India because it might be awkward for them in the English Army.

But... I have to keep saying this. It will only work if there is no doubt that I was and am sane at the time of my marriage to Sumitra, and when I signed my will. There must be no evidence that any of you influenced my decisions. The marriage probably can't be challenged because I asked for the banns to be read before I became ill. My will? My lawyers drafted it a couple of months ago but I only signed it today. If I am successful in buying the other land I will have to alter my will slightly. I can only do that if I am sane.

I'm old. Sometimes I'm physically frail. What we did before luncheon was tiring for me and I will have to have a short sleep this afternoon. My brain still works and I must demonstrate that it does for the next few months. I must be seen to be acting independently and not as the puppet of my wife and mistresses. If I don't? My will could be overturned in favour of a distant cousin and all of you could be homeless and penniless.

So, Sumitra, Asha, Gita and Meena? I love you all. I know you love me. How are we going to show that Anthony knows what he is doing and doesn't need a wife to tell him what to do, nor women to wrap him up to protect him from himself? Any ideas?"

"Cricket." Gita stated bluntly.

We all looked at her blankly. She giggled.

"I'll explain that. If Anthony needs to demonstrate that he is sane and acting unconstrained then he needs witnesses to his capacity. Agreed?"

We nodded, still confused by Gita's mention of cricket.

"The doctor is incompetent and could be persuaded that Anthony is not sane. The Vicar disapproves of us. Marrying Sumitra has helped but the Vicar knows the rest of us are mistresses and Anthony has many bastards here. So we need other people to be able to say Anthony is sane. If those people have benefitted from Anthony's decisions, then they would have an interest in considering those decisions to have been made by someone in full command of their faculties. Hence -- cricket."

"I still don't follow what you are getting at, Gita," I said slowly.

"Neither do I," Asha added.

"Anthony? You own the meadow between the Church and the river, don't you?"

"Yes, Gita. But it is a water meadow. It floods in winter and is only used for summer pasture." I said, still confused.

"And cricket is played only in the summer, when that field isn't flooded. Yes?"

"Yes, Gita, but..."

"Just listen, Anthony and all of you. If Anthony turns that meadow into a cricket pitch for the village, builds a cricket pavilion on the dry edge close to the road, and gives it to the village..."

"I get it," Meena said. "the village will be grateful to Anthony. But if he isn't sane when he does all that, they could lose the field and the pavilion."

"Exactly. And if Anthony starts the cricket by inviting cricket teams to play, and hosts the event, he must be sane. When he presents the winning team with the cup to be played for every year -- he's sane. When he is President of the Cricket Club -- he's sane." Gita was getting excited by her own idea.

"The actual work of getting the meadow turned into a cricket pitch, and the pavilion built? That can be done by the local architect and the village builders. All Anthony would actually have to do is pay the bills and he can easily afford that. That field is worth what? Five shillings a year rent as pasture? That's nothing compared with Anthony's wealth."

"I've thought of something else," Asha said. "When in India Anthony built dams and bridges on the river by his land to cope with water during the monsoon. If we built a couple of dams upstream to hold water back in winter, the field wouldn't flood and could be used all year round for things other than cricket. That might stop some of the village houses flooding as happens some winters."

"OK, Ladies. I've heard enough. Gita's idea is brilliant. The village will have a cricket pitch and Asha's dams. We can develop these ideas further. What else does the village want or need that my money could provide? Even if I spend a couple of thousand pounds it won't make a dent in our fortune."

"Our fortune?" Sumitra asked.

"Ours," I repeated. "You don't get it, do you? By marrying you, Sumitra, and writing my will to set up the trust, when you become a widow you four will inherit everything. My fortune will be yours -- if I am sane now. And Cricket could be the deciding factor. I'm sane because of cricket. But now I need a rest. Sumitra? Can you ask the Head Gardener to come to see me at five o'clock, please?"

"Yes, husband, I will. Meena will be with you while you rest." Sumitra replied.

"Does Meena have to be with me?" I asked.

"You're not fully fit yet, husband. She will be there if you need anything and to look after you. When you wake she'll massage your legs. You've walked further today that you have for weeks."

"Massage?"

"Yes, Anthony," Meena replied. "I've been gently massaging your arms and legs every night while you were asleep. We knew, even if that idiot doctor didn't, that restraining you all the time would damage your muscles. So I've been working on them several times a day. If you are awake for the next massage I'll work harder. It might hurt but it will help you to get strength back sooner."

"Very well, Meena, and thank you."

Meena, Gita and I went to my bedroom. I was surprised just how tired I was. I didn't object as Meena undressed me. Gita had to help Meena to undress. Victorian ladies' clothes are intended for maids to fasten and unfasten. The wearer cannot dress or undress herself without help. Gita left us. Meena snuggled her naked body next to mine. It was bliss to be completely unrestrained in that bed.

I woke up about an hour later with a twitch in my right leg. Meena's hands stroked it gently until the twitch subsided. I went back to sleep. I woke up again with my head resting on Meena's shoulder and my lips close to her breast. I kissed that breast gently. Meena pulled my face closer. I kissed again.

"Anthony?" Meena was awake.

"Yes, Meena?"

"We mistresses are only nominally Christians. You know that?"

"Yes."

"If we were Hindu, you could have four wives, couldn't you?"

"I suppose so, if we were in India. It wouldn't mean anything in England, Meena. Here I can only have one wife -- Sumitra. I married her today and tonight she must sleep with me alone. The marriage would be incomplete without consummation."

Meena laughed.

"Even though you already have four children by her? English customs are stupid."

"I might agree with you, Meena, but to protect you and the children I must seem to abide by English laws. They will provide for you and our two children."

"Yet I'd like to be a wife too, Anthony, even a subsidiary wife. As Hindus that would be possible."

I sat up and looked down at Meena's naked body that I loved so much. She was serious. She wanted to be my wife.

"If we still lived in India I could marry you and the other two as well as Sumitra. But as soon as we arrived back in England those marriages wouldn't mean anything, Meena."

"It would to me, Anthony. I know you love me but..."

"I'll think about it, Meena. It could be dangerous for our campaign to ensure I'm seen as sane. If, and I only say if, Hindu marriages could happen, they would have to remain a secret. I would only do it if I marry all three of you as well as Sumitra."

"Or more than three? Your other mistresses would like the status even if only they knew, Anthony."

"Fifteen wives? The Vicar would have a heart attack if he knew."

"He does know, Anthony. You listed fifteen mothers of children to be baptised with you named as father of them all."

"So he does, Meena. He does. He did turn pale when I handed him the list of children. Oh well. We'll see."

"And now I'll massage your legs, Anthony. Try not to yell too much when I dig my fingers in hard."

Meena's massage did hurt. When she helped me to dress my calves were sore. When I started walking I could feel the effect of her massage. I was steadier on my legs as I acted as her lady's maid to dress her. Why not? I have years of experience of undressing and dressing my mistresses.

+++

When I met the gardener he wasn't convinced that the meadow was a suitable place for a cricket pitch but his expertise didn't extend to making a cricket pitch. He suggested that I needed specialist advice before even announcing the proposal of a village cricket pitch.

He knew that Tom Anchor from the village had been a paid cricketer, a player, not a gentleman cricketer. A couple of weeks later Tom, the gardener and Mr Harris my steward had made enquiries and recommended that I employ a professional cricket groundsman to see whether the meadow was suitable. I paid for Tom to travel to the county town to talk to the cricket club staff.

+++

My steward Mr Harris had returned ten days after I had married Sumitra. He had successfully completed the purchase of the additional land. I had paperwork to sign and a revised will drawn up by my solicitors to take account of my marriage and my enlarged estate. To my surprise he also brought a hastily written letter from my distant cousin James, congratulating me on my marriage to Sumitra. At first I thought the letter was useful. If James had written to congratulate me on my marriage, he couldn't later claim that the marriage was void because of my incapacity. But there was another earlier letter from James, asking if he could come to visit me to discuss unspecified matters. I wrote back extending an invitation for James to come whenever convenient to him.

+++

Over the next few days after my marriage I gradually regained the mobility I had enjoyed before the fever. Meena's daily massage was helping as was my resumed sexual activities with my extensive group of mistresses. Perhaps each particular mistress was more likely to ride me than I to ride her, but even that meant considerable effort from me. Three weeks after my marriage I had spent at least one night with all fifteen of them.

The Vicar had to delay the marriages and baptisms because some of the potential husbands and fathers needed persuasion to make their situation legal. Although the marriages and baptisms would make the relationships legitimate, it also meant that the men would be legally liable for their wives and children. Eventually I cut the Gordian knot by offering a dowry of ten guineas to each bride and five guineas to each baptised child. The money persuaded the waverers. The marriages would be on a Tuesday morning, the wedding lunches and dancing in the afternoon, and the christenings on Wednesday morning. There would be little work done on my estate or my tenants' farms on either day.

+++

Tom Anchor returned with the news that the cricket club's groundsman was willing to come to assess the meadow in return for his travelling expenses of a couple of guineas. I discussed it with Tom, my steward and the Head Gardener. I thought that 'expenses' was not enough for professional advice. I wrote to the groundsman and enclosed a cheque for ten guineas.

As I had thought, ten guineas produced a faster response. The groundsman, Arthur Green, replied that he would arrive next week. By a coincidence he would be coming to the railway station a few miles away on the same train as my cousin James. I sent the carriage to collect them. Arthur Green would meet Tom Anchor, the head gardener and Mr Harris in the Steward's office, have lunch, and then go to the meadow.

James would have lunch with Sumitra and me.

+++

The train was exactly on time. I was surprised that my cousin James was so young, in his early twenties. He seemed a pleasant enough young man even though he could be a threat to my plans for Sumitra, my mistresses and children.

After lunch James and I went to my study. We discussed the weather, and my, or rather Gita's, idea for a village cricket pitch. James thought it was a splendid idea. He had played cricket a few times when at Oxford. He had enjoyed it but admitted that he wasn't very good at it, averagely competent for a young gentleman but neither a batsman nor bowler. He told me that the county's grounds man Mr Green had been accompanied by an Indian man, his assistant in training.

He soon came to the point of his visit.

"Cousin Anthony," he said, "I am aware that your solicitor considers me to be your next of kin, and might possibly inherit your property if you hadn't made a will. But you HAVE made a will, so I won't inherit. I wouldn't anyway. I'm NOT your nearest relation."

"You're not, James? Then who the d... is?" I nearly swore, most unlike my normal self.

"You had an elder half brother John, son of your father's first wife. She died giving birth to him. Your father married your mother ten years later, and you were born two years after that marriage. But you know all that, sir."

"I do. But John would be twelve years older than me, and I'm old. You're not telling me that John is still alive, surely?"

"No, Cousin. I'm not. John died eight years ago in Australia where the family sent him after an unspecified scandal. I don't know WHY he was sent to Australia. I only know that he was."

"He was transported to the New South Wales penal colony by order of a court," I said. "He was very lucky to escape hanging. But I've tried to forget John and his misdeeds. Other people were involved and their children are still around. They don't want that scandal aired again."

"That's very well but in later life John married in Australia and produced a son and heir. That son is your nephew, a closer relation to you than I am. I didn't know of his existence until a couple of months ago. I had a letter from him informing me that he was coming to England."

"The deuce he is! Why?"

"I understand that it is something to do with the governance of New South Wales. His name is Robert, Robert Andrews of course, and he is an elected member of their local parliament."

"He's what? How can that be? He's the son of a convict!"

"Apparently that doesn't matter in New South Wales. He was elected because he is a major landowner. He has a property of about one hundred and fifty thousand acres of pastoral land, much more undeveloped land and several businesses as well."

"So he's a wealthy landowner?"

"Yes, Cousin Anthony, and an important person in New South Wales. He is coming to England at the request of the Colonial Office. He would like to meet me, and you, as his closest relations. For all I know he may already be in England. I left a message for him at the Colonial Office telling him that I had come to see you. I think he really wants to meet you since he has heard about your..."

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