These are the relevant references from the Books where Girl Catch is mentioned.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
I looked about the camp, at the men, and at Eta. They were rough, strong men, who played cruel games. Yesterday evening I had been forced to aid Eta in serving the men, carrying meat to them in my teeth; later I had moved among them, as they had summoned me, pouring them wine and paga. I must take the goblet, fill it, kiss it delicately and proffer it to the male. After the supper Eta was taken and belled. I shrank back. They wound thongs, more than a yard in length, closely set with small bells, about her tanned ankles. More bells they tied about her wrists. They then took strings of bells and threw them, looped, about her neck. Five men stood in a line, some yards from her, who were to be the contestants. He who was to act as referee then tore away from Eta the brief rag she wore. The men cried out with pleasure, smiting their left shoulders with the palms of their right hands. Eta regarded them, the bells upon her body, and about her neck and breasts, proudly, arrogantly. There was a mark on her left thigh but I could not well see it in the darkness. Then her hands were taken behind her and tied. Opaque cloths were brought and bets were placed. Eta continued to regard the men, haughtily. Then, about her belly, the referee fastened a tight thong. On this thong, at her left hip, was fastened a single bell, larger than the others, and of a different note. It would serve in particular to guide the men. Then, as she stood proudly, a cloth was thrown over her head and tied under her chin. She was hooded. The girl is hooded in order that she not be able to influence the outcome of the sport. Too, I suspect the men enjoy having her hooded that she, in the darkness of the hood, in her helplessness, will not know who it is who seizes her. Gorean men, the beasts, find such things amusing. The five men were then similarly hooded, the opaque cloths thrown over their heads and tied under their chins. Eta, in her hood, stood absolutely still, not causing the rustle of a bell. The five men then, to the amusement of the observers, were led about the camp, and turned muchly about, that they be completely disoriented. The referee then, taking up a switch, went to the vicinity of Eta. I watched from the shadows. I was indignant, and horrified, of course. Too, I was consumed with pity for my unfortunate sister. Too, I was curious to see who it would be who would first seize her. Of the five contestants I knew well whom I would have first chosen, had I had a choice in such matters, to get his hands on me, a blond, shaggy haired young giant, with freckled wrists, whose hair clung about his shoulders. To me he was the most attractive man in the camp after my captor. My captor did not join in the game. He was chieftain and leader. It was sport for the lower ranks, something to relieve the tedium of the camp. But my captor watched with interest and pleasure. He lifted paga to his lips. I think, too, he had wagered on the outcome.
The game of Girl Catch is played variously upon Gor; it can be played as informally and simply as it was in the camp of my captor, for the pleasure of his men, or it can be a fairly serious business, closely supervised and regulated in a sophisticated manner, as it is by merchant administrators in the rings outside the perimeters of the Sardar Fairs, where the young men of various cities compete. In one form there a hundred young men and a hundred young women of one city, the women selected for their beauty, enter the ring in competition with a hundred young men and a hundred young women of another city, similarly selected. In this form no hoods are worn. The object of the male is to protect his own women and secure those of the enemy. A girl is caught, stripped, bound hand and foot, and carried to the Girl Pit of the capturing city, into which she is thrown. If she cannot free herself, she is counted as a catch. Her own men may not enter the Girl Pit of the capturing city to free her. Sometimes this game is played with the winning side determined by its catches within a time limit, sometimes, in more brutal versions, by the first city which secures the hundred women of its enemy. A male is disqualified from further participation in the contest if he is forced from the ring. Women from the victorious city who may have been captured are, of course, upon the victory of their city, freed. Women from the conquered city, on the other hand, are not; they are kept; they are turned over to the young males of the capturing city; in the game in which the first hundred captures decides victory this means there is a girl for each participating young man, usually one he himself brought bound to the Girl Pit. Accordingly, particularly in the early phases of the game, the young males often devote their acquisitive attentions to those young women of the enemy city who are the most attractive to them personally, to those they would most enjoy taking home with them at the end of the day. This sport of Girl Catch, interestingly, when matters of honor are not thought to be involved, has been used upon occasion by cities to settle boundary disputes and avert wars.
In the camp of my captor, however the rules were simple. The referee lifted his switch.
He cried out a word, which I would later learn meant "Quarry." It is the signal that the game has begun, that the girl is now available, that she is now at large for capture. At the same time that he had cried out this word he had swung the switch and struck Eta a swift, stinging blow below the small of the back, making her cry out, identifying her original position and, with a jangle of bells, starting her into motion. The men wheeled toward the sound. Eta stopped, frozen. She was crouched over, her hands tied behind her back. Whether the slender, supple disciplinary device would be used often in the game depends much on the skill of the girl player. She must, following the rules, move at least once in every five Ihn, which is a little less than five seconds. If she does not move within five Ihn, perhaps being frightened, or having miscounted, the referee, with the switch, swiftly and exactly identifies her position for the contestants. An instant before the five Ihn were up Eta, jangling with bells, darted off, changing her position. Some of the men cried out angrily, for she had darted, unknowingly, between two of them. The referee cautioned the men sharply. The male contestants must not identify themselves. Such an identification, in that it might affect the girl's behavior, she perhaps desiring capture by a particular male, might unfairly influence the outcome of the game. Needless to say, the girl is expected to be an excellent quarry. If she is a poor quarry, and puts up a disappointing run, and is too soon captured, her wrists are tied over her head and she is lashed. It is seldom necessary to do this, of course. Girls pride themselves on their evasive skills in Girl Catch; they strive with every fiber in their small bodies to be cunning, elusive quarry, not to be easily caught; with delight do they struggle to elude the predator; with relish do they know, belled, their capture and seizure is inevitable.
Eta was skilled in the game. But so, too, were the men. Often I suspected had she been thusly hunted and the men of the camp her hunters.
Twice did the referee, with his switch, incite the beauty to motion.
At last it seemed she knew not which way to turn. The men, silent, were about her.
Blindly, hooded, she fled into the arms of the young blond giant. With a cry of pleasure he seized her and flung her to the grass, pinned beneath him. She was caught.
The referee called out a word, which I would later learn was "Capture," and slapped the man on the shoulder. The other men stepped back. Then, to my horror, I saw Eta, still hooded and bound, in her bells, ravished in the grass.
When the young man had finished with her he stood up and unknotted the hood from his head, casting it aside. Men lifted cups to him and shouted and pounded him upon the back. He was grinning. He had won. He returned to his place. Moneys were exchanged. Eta lay on her side in the grass.
She seemed small, lying there, hooded and bound, in her bells. By all but me she was forgotten. I felt terribly sorry for my poor sister. And I envied her her ravishment.
In a few moments the referee had returned to her and, by the arms, thrown her again to her feet. She stood unsteadily, trembling, the motion of her body agitating the bells.
He again called the word I was later to learn was "Quarry," and again he put her into motion with the switch. Again the men stalked her. Second place was at stake. She did not run as well this time, but, perhaps because this time there were only four pursuers, performed on the whole commendably. In some two or three minutes she was again taken and, to my horror, was, with pleasure and ruthlessness, again subjected to the indignity of the caught female, her second captor handling her with an audacity and simple physical proprietorship scarcely inferior to that of the first. How sorry I felt for her, and how, secretly, I envied her. I watched while third place and fourth place were won. The fifth man, when he had removed his hood, was the butt of much good-humored laughing and pushing. He, losing out, had not won the right to ravish the belled beauty.
The referee removed the hood from Eta, who threw back her head, shaking her hair, drinking in the night air. Her face was flushed and broken out. It was suffused with pleasure. Oddly, she seemed shy. Her hands were freed. She sat on the grass, removing the bells from her body. She, removing bells from her right ankle, looked over at me.
I looked at her, angrily.
She smiled. She removed the last of the bells. Then she laughed, and came over and kissed me.
I did not even look at her.
Then she went to pick up the brown rag which the referee had removed from her before the start of the sport. She did not try to put the rag on but carried it in her hand, loosely, and went to lie at the feet of my captor. I remembered how she had looked at me. It was the look of a woman who knows herself incredibly desired and beautiful, who was at the mercy of men, and who, because they had wished it, had been put muchly to their pleasure.
I was angry with her. Too, I envied her. Too, she had looked upon me as though I might be a naive girl.
Upon command I had slipped from the Ta-Teera.
I stood among the men.
The warrior indicated that I should suck in my gut. I did so, holding my stomach in, tightly. I felt the strap, black, narrow, loop my belly. It was pulled tight, very tight, and cinched. I wore the bell at my left hip. I looked at my master, reproachfully, in anguish. The bells, rows, strung about my neck, and, loosely, too, depending about my breasts, jangled. The sound was horrifying, sensuous. With anger, with misery, I regarded him. The warrior took my hands behind my back and there, with a bit of black leather, fastened them together. The rows of bells on my wrists jangled as my hands were pulled behind my back and fastened there, wrist to wrist, lashed. How could he permit this? Did it mean nothing to him that he had, the preceding night, taken my virginity from me? Did it mean nothing to him that he had, for long hours, pleasured himself with my body? Did it mean nothing to him that he had won me, that I had yielded to him, that I had surrendered myself, totally, to him? That vulnerably I had been fully his? I tried to take a step toward him. The bells on my body, and those tied about my ankles, jangled. I could not move toward him, for the warrior's hand on my arm held me. I looked at my master with anguish. He was sitting cross-legged, some feet away, with others. He had a goblet of paga, which Eta had served to him. Did my master not love me, as I loved him? He, narrow-lidded, looked at me over the rim of the goblet of paga. "Do not do this to me!" I cried to him, helplessly, in English. "I love you!" Surely, though he spoke no English, he could not have mistaken the anguish, the feelings, the deep intent of the helpless girl so shamefully belied and bound before him. "I love you!" I cried. I saw in his eyes that he, as a Gorean master, had no concern for my anguish, my intent and feelings. I shuddered. I was a bond girl. He gave a sign. One of the men nearby readied a large opaque cloth, soft, black, folding it in four pieces, so that, folded, it would be about a yard square. He looked back at me. "I love you," I said. The cloth was thrown over my head and, with some loops of leather cord, four times encircling my neck, tied under my chin. I could not see. I was hooded. I threw back my head in anguish within the hood. "But I love you!" I cried. I stood there, belled and bound, forlorn and hooded. I loved him. But I had seen in his eyes, in the instant that the cloth had been thrown over my head, that to him, my master, I was nothing, only a meaningless slave.
I stood there, head down, miserable, frightened. I heard the men laughing. Five would do contest.
I hated the bells, so many, so tiny, hung about my body, which I could not remove, which would draw them to me. The sound was tiny, rich, and sensuous. They were slave bells. They would draw men to my body. I moved slightly. I felt them stir on my body and on the loops that held them. So slight a movement made them sound! I, miserable, was caught in their lewd, delicious rustle. I suppose the sound of the bells, objectively considered, is rather lovely. Yet theirs was a music of bondage, one which, in its tiny, delicious sounds, rustling, whispered, "Kajira. Kajira." They said, "You are nothing, Girl. You are a belled Kajira. You are nothing, Girl. You exist for the pleasure of men. Please them well, lovely Kajira." I shook my body, trying to throw the bells from me. I could not do so. In their jangling sound, helpless, I was held, betrayed. I could scarcely breathe without stirring the bells. I began to sweat, and fear. It was suddenly like finding oneself caught, imprisoned, hooded, in a net. No move I made was not betrayed by the bells. Most I hated the larger bell, of different note, fastened tightly at my left hip. It was a guide bell. I tried to free my hands. They had been tied by a warrior. I was helpless. I shuddered. And even so slight a movement was betrayed by the bells, indicating the exact position of she who wore them, the slave girl on whose body they were fastened.
The men were ready.
"Please, Master," I cried, bound, closed in the hood, belled, "protect me! I love you! I love you! Keep me for yourself, Master!"
I heard men laughing, talking, bets being made.
The contestants, by now, would have, too, been hooded. But they were not belled. They were not bound.
My cheeks, inside the hood, were stained with tears. The interior of the hood was wet.
I was Judy Thornton, a junior at an elite girls' college, an English major, a poetess, delicate and sensitive!
A man near me called out a word, delightedly, a word I would later learn was "Quarry!" At the same instant I felt the flash of a switch on my body and I, weeping, fled from its sting.
I was a nameless slave girl on an alien world, at the mercy of primitive warriors in a barbarian camp, an object for their sport, a lovely, two-legged plaything, a mere prize, in their cruel games.
The prize stopped, in a jangle of bells, gasping, throwing her head about, as though she might see. She was trapped in the folds of the hood.
I heard a man near me. I did not know if it were the referee or one of the contestants.
I felt the switch touch my body.
I shuddered, with a jangle of bells. But in had been done gently. It was the referee, aiding me, indicating his presence.
I breathed deeply. The bells rustled. I heard another man approaching, doubtless groping. And another to my left.
I was terrified.
Suddenly I heard the hiss of the switch behind me and, almost at the same time, felt the supple disciplinary device, to the amusement of the men, strike me swiftly and hotly below the small of the back. I fled wildly, jangling bells. I was outraged, and humiliated. My eyes were hot with tears. It stung terribly. The switch is often used on a girl when she is guilty of minor indiscretions or tiny misdemeanors. It is thought a fitting instrument for encouraging a beauty to be more careful or zealous in her service. I had delayed in the game for more than five Ihn. It was for that reason that the referee had administered his admonitory stripe. It was the second time in my life I had felt a switch. I did not care to feel one again, particularly when clothed only in slave bells and a hood. The laughter of the men made me angry, but then I cried. Anger in a slave girl was only meaningless pretense. It was not as though she were a free woman whose anger might have significance, might even issue in actions or words, free from the reprisals of discipline. Men are the masters of slave girls, the masters. Anger in a slave girl is futile, meaningless, though sometimes masters encourage it in their girls, to see them flush and assume an interesting demeanor, but it is in the end always insignificant for, in the end, as both the girl and master know, it is the master and not the girl who holds the whip. Thus it is not that slave girls do not become angry. They do. It is only that their anger, as both girl and master know, is meaningless. I cried. The physical effect of the switch on a girl is not negligible, but, I think, its psychological effect, should the blows be placed on a certain portion of her body, thus cruelly humiliating her, may be even more bitter.
Crying, I fled through the camp, stumbling. I heard men falling, stumbling, getting up, pursuing me. I could not free my wrists. Once I fell into the arms of a man and shrieked with misery. He threw me from him. There was much laughter. He had not even been a contestant. Another time the referee caught me, and then thrust me back against stone, that I might know where I was. He had kept me from striking into the cliff wall behind the camp. I fled again, into the camp. My running was erratic, terribly so. I was confused and miserable. I was terrified of being caught. I, too, did not wish to be again struck with the switch. Another man, not a contestant, caught me and prevented me from plunging into the thick wall of thorn brush, in which I might have been half torn to pieces. There was much laughter. More than once I heard a contestant, yards away, curse. Then I would hear one not a yard or more from me, and I would wheel, and run from him. Once I struck one, and tripped, and fell rolling in a wild jangle of bells. I heard him leap for me. I felt his hand, for an instant, at my right hip. I felt the hand of another touch my left calf. I rolled and crawled free, and darted away. Once I found myself, it seemed, surrounded by stone. Wherever I turned there seemed a cliff before me. I spun, disoriented, terrified. Then I fled back and found myself again somewhere in the center of the camp. Barely had I avoided being cornered against the cliffs. I then began to play more cleverly, more warily. Twice more in the game was I stung with the switch then, once on the left arm, above the elbow, and once, more cruelly, on the right calf, when I, wishing to make no sound, not thinking the referee near me, lingered too long in one position.
Then I fled again, directly, into the arms of a man. I waited for him to free me, to throw me back to the others. But his arms did not free me. "Oh, no!" I wept. His arms tightened about me. I was thrown screaming and squirming to his shoulder, and carried about. There was laughing. I heard the man who held me from the ground being slapped on his back by the referee. I heard the word which, later, I would learn was "Capture." It is a helpless feeling being held on the shoulder of a man, your feet unable to touch the ground; you are unable to obtain the slightest leverage; you are simply his prisoner. I heard shouting, and the pounding of hands on my captor's back. Then he, in his pleasure, one hand on my right ankle and one closed about my left forearm, lifted me bodily above his head, bending my body, displaying me. I heard applause, the pounding of hands on the left shoulder. I heard, too, in the sounds, Eta cry out with pleasure, much delighted. Was she not my sister in bondage? Could she not understand my misery? My captor, whoever he was, impatient then to have me, hurled me as though I were nothing to the dirt at his feet. I felt his hands at my ankles. I turned my head to one side, moaning.
I lay bound in the dirt when he had finished with me. He was then unhooded and led away in his triumph to drink the paga of victory.
I lay weeping and miserable in the dirt. When I moved I heard the rustle of the bells, which were slave bells.
In a few moments I felt the hands of the referee close on my arms. He lifted me, and threw me upright, to my feet. Again I heard the word which, later, I would learn was "Quarry"; again I felt the sudden sting of the switch, inciting me to motion; again I ran.
Four times I ran as quarry in the cruel games of that evening.
Four times was I caught and, on my back in the dirt of that barbarian camp, rudely ravished by whom I knew not.
I had not been permitted, following the cruel game, to slip the Ta-Teera, my slave rag, again upon my body. My master had said a curt word. I must then remain nude. It is customary, following the game, that the prize remain nude, that the value of her captured beauty remain discernible to all, to the winners for their pleasure, to the loser for his chagrin, to the onlookers for their admiration, and, too, perhaps, to incite them in another contest, at some future date, to vie for its possession.
"Make way! Make way!" laughed the brawny young fellow. He had a naked girl over his shoulder, bound hand and foot. He had won her in Girl Catch, in a contest to decide a trade dispute between two small cities, Ven and Ram, the former a river port on the Vosk, the second noted for its copper mining, lying southeast of Tharna. In the contest a hundred young men of each city, and a hundred young women, the most beautiful in each city, participate. The object of the game is to secure the women of the enemy. Weapons are not permitted. The contest takes place in an area outside the perimeters of the great fair, for in it slaves are made. The area is enclosed by a low wooden wall, and spectators observe. When a male is forced beyond the wall he is removed from the competition and may not, upon pain of death, re-enter the area for the duration of the contest. When a girl is taken she is bound hand and foot and thrown to a girl pit, of which there are two, one in each city's end of the "field." These pits are circular, marked off with a small wooden fence, sand-bottomed, and sunk some two feet below the surface of the "field." If she cannot free herself she counts as a catch. The object of the male is to remove his opponents from the field and capture the girls of the other city. The object of the girl, of course, is to elude capture.
"Make way!" he called. "Make way!" I, with others in the crowd, stepped aside.
Both the young men and women wear tunics in this sport. The tunics of the young women are cut briefly, to better reveal their charms. The young man wears binding fiber about his left wrist, with which to secure prizes. The young women, who are free, if the rules permit, as they sometimes do not, commonly wear masks, that their modesty be less grievously compromised by the brevity of their costume. Should the girl be caught, however, her mask is removed. The tunics of the girls are not removed, however, except those of the girls of the losing city, when the match has ended and the winner decided. The win is determined when the young men of one city, or those left on the field, have secured the full hundred of the women of the "enemy." A woman once bound and thrown to the girl pit, incidentally, may not be fetched forth by the young men of her city, except at the end of the match, and on the condition that they have proved victorious. The captured women of the victorious city at the conclusion of the contest are of course released; they are robed and honored; the girls of the losing city, of course, are simply stripped and made slaves. This may seem a cruel sport but some regard it as superior to a war; surely it is cleaner and there is less loss of life; this method of settling disputes, incidentally, is not used if it is felt that honor is somehow involved in the disagreement. Honor is important to Goreans, in a way that those of Earth might find hard to understand; for example, those of Earth find it natural that men should go to war over matters of gold and riches, but not honor; the Gorean, contrariwise, is more willing to submit matters of honor to the adjudication of steel than he is matters of riches and gold; there is a simple explanation for this; honor is more important to him. Strangely the girls of the cities are eager to participate in this sport. Doubtless each believes her standard will be victorious and she will return in honor to her city.
The young man brushed past me. The girl's hair was still bound, knotted, on her head; it had not yet even been loosened, as that of a slave girl. Looped about her neck, locked, was a slender, common, gray-steel slave collar. He had wired a tag to it, that she might be identified as his. She had been of Ram, probably of high caste, given the quality of her beauty. She would now be slave in the river port of Ven. The man appeared to be a young bargeman. Her lips were delicate and beautiful. They would kiss him well.
I watched him press on through the crowds, toward the looming palisade which ringed the Sardar Mountains, black and snow-capped, behind it.
The numbers in the game are set at a hundred young men and a hundred young women, in order that there be a young woman for each winning male.
This was the first year, incidentally, in which masks had been permitted to the young women in some of these contests. The masks, however, had been brief and feminine. They concealed little and did little more than to excite the men and stimulate them to the beauty's pursuit, culminating in her rude assault, capture and unmasking. Still I suspected the innovation, next year, would be dropped. It is easier to gamble on the taking of given girls, and how long they will be at large, if their beauty is better visible to the bettors.
I looked after the young man. He was going to the palisade. There he would climb one of the platforms and, putting the girl on her knees, her ankles and wrists crossed and bound, at his feet, facing the Sardar, he would unbind her hair. Then he would lift her in his arms, hair unbound, before the mountains of the Sardar, rejoicing, and giving thanks to Priest-Kings that she was now his.
"Let us put the lights out!" suggested Akko, happily.
This suggestion met with enthusiastic acclaim.
"What are they doing?" asked Thimble, or Barbara, who had been serving boiled meat to the hunters and their women.
"You will learn," I told her.
I, like the others, slipped from my garments. The slave beasts in the feasting house, Poalu, Arlene, Thimble, or Barbara, and Thistle, or Audrey, were already naked. The feasting house, because of its structure, the lamps and the heat of the many bodies within it, is quite warm. I have no way of knowing precisely what its temperature often was but I would have conjectured it would often have been in the eighties. The huts, and even the houses of ice sometimes built by the hunters in their journeys and hunts, can be quite comfortable, even when the weather outside may be dozens of degrees below zero. Often, however, in the night and near morning, the lamps extinguished, and the guests departed, it can become quite cold in such dwellings, often falling below the freezing of ice in the drinking bucket. When the houses are cold, of course, the hunters are generally sleeping in their furs, together with their women. Because of the body heat of the companion it is much warmer to sleep with someone than to sleep alone. The furs, being impervious to the passage of air, of course, tend to trap the generated body heat. It is thus possible to sleep quite comfortably in a dwelling whose objective interior temperature may be well below freezing. Also, sleeping is usually done on a sleeping platform. This is raised above the floor level. The platform is warmer than the floor level of the dwelling, of course, because of the tendency of warm air to rise. A yard of height can make a difference of several degrees of temperature inside a typical dwelling of the red hunters. Although the red hunters can and do experience intense cold their lives, generally, are not made miserable by their climate. They have intelligently adapted to it and are usually quite comfortable both indoors and outdoors. Also, it seems to me objectively true that they are less sensitive to cold than many other types of individual. For one thing they are generally short and heavy, a body configuration which tends to conserve heat; for another there are serological differences between them and even other red races of Gor; these serological differences, presumably selected for in the course of generations, doubtless play some role in their adaptation to cold. I think it is probably true, though it is difficult to tell, that a given degree of severe cold will not be as unpleasant to one who is a red hunter as it would be to someone who is not of that background or stock. Red hunters, for example, will often go about cheerfully stripped to the waist in weather in which many individuals of the south would find both a tunic and a cloak comfortable.
There were six lamps in the feasting house.
One after the other began to be extinguished. Imnak had his eye on Poalu. Arlene, Barbara and Audrey looked at one another, uneasily. "What is going on?" asked Barbara. "If they put out the last lamp, the room will be dark."
The last lamp was extinguished. I saw hide pulled over the smoke hole.
"Walk around!" called Akko, cheerfully. "Do not touch anyone! Change your places!"
I moved about. It was, after all, the culture of the red hunters.
Outside, objectively, it was rather dark. Also, the feasting house had no windows. It is harder to heat a building with windows, of course. Too, hides, from tents, were hung about the inside of the feasting house, supplying additional insulation and warmth. Light in the feasting house was supplied generally from lamps. These were now extinguished, and the smoke hole covered. It was quite dark within.
No one spoke while they moved around.
I heard Barbara whimper. She was frightened. There was nothing to be frightened about. It was only that someone, she would not know who, would find her, catch her and have her.
"Now," cried Akko. "Who can you catch?"
I heard women laugh, and move swiftly. Men groped about.
I felt my way around, as I could. I heard a woman cry out with pleasure, caught.
"Be quiet!" called Akko.
I heard a pair, struggling, near me. Then the woman was, as I determined by putting forth my hand, put down on her back, on the floor of the feasting house. She squirmed in the dirt, pushing futilely up against the aggressive male who pinioned her beneath him for his pleasure. He was surprised at her resistance, so he struck her, and then she was quiet, until, in a few minutes, she began to cry out with pleasure. I felt bondage strings on her throat. I did not know if it was Thimble or Thistle. In touching the hair I knew it was not Poalu, whose hair was bound high on her head, in the usual fashion of her people.
I heard more women caught. One brushed past me but I missed her in the darkness.
Suddenly a nude girl, fleeing, struck against me. "Oh," she cried. And my arms had closed about her. She was caught. She was helpless. I put her to the floor. She squirmed. I did not permit her struggles to be successful.
In a few moments her belly and haunches were writhing with pleasure which I had enforced upon her.
Then, helpless, she yielded.
When the lamp was relit I looked down into the face of Barbara.
I had known it was she, from the bondage strings on her throat, and the responses of her body.
"You make a slave yield well, Master," she said. "You make her yield totally, leaving her no dignity."
"Did you know it was I?" I asked.
She looked up at me. She lifted her lips to mine and kissed me. "I knew it the moment your arms closed on me, Master," she said.
"I have been many times in your arms, Master," she said. "And no two men, I suspect, will seize and rape a slave identically."
"I suppose not," I said. I looked about. Many of the women were laughing, and the men, too. Poalu, I saw, was beside Imnak. I suspected they had cheated. Thistle, or Audrey, and Arlene looked at me, still held by the men who had caught them.
"Let us feast!" called Akko.
The lamps were relit. The women who had been caught by given men must now serve them.
In the hours that followed this game was played again, and again, five times in all, interrupted by feasting.
In the second and third round I caught women of the red hunters. In the fourth round I got my hand on Audrey's neck and threw her down to the floor. She was quite good. I spent a long time with her. In the fifth round, when the lamps were relit, it was Arlene who looked up at me from my arms.
I circled about a bit. I saw no sight of Marcus or his lovely slave. Perhaps they had returned to the tent. In one place, hearing a jangling of bells, I went over to a large open circle of fellows to watch a game of "girl catch."
There are many ways in which this game, or sort of game, is played. In this one, which was not untypical, a female slave, within an enclosure, her hands bound behind her back, and hooded, is belled, usually with common slave bells at the collar, wrists and ankles and a larger bell, a guide bell, with its particular note, at her left hip. Some fellows then, also hooded, or blindfolded, enter the enclosure, to catch her. Neither the quarry nor the hunters can see the other. The girl is forbidden to remain still for more than a certain interval, usually a few Ihn. She is under the control of a referee. His switch can encourage her to move, and, simultaneously, of course, mark her position, She is hooded in order that she may not determine into whose power she comes. When she is caught that game, or one of its rounds, is concluded. The victor's prize, of course, is the use of the slave.
A Gorean youth, for example, is early accustomed to the care and management, the training and disciplining, the hooding, binding, chaining, and such, of female slaves. There are even games, held within large low-walled enclosures, with spectators in attendance, in which lads compete, each hunting another lad's slave, she doing her best to elude capture, that her own master may score more highly than her pursuer. These contests are timed. A given lad's time is determined by how long it takes to capture his fair quarry, bind it helplessly, hand and foot, and hurl it, futilely thrashing, squirming and struggling, to the sand before the judges. Any girl of whom it is suspected that she did not do her best to elude capture is whipped.