Because Ethel had become accustomed to freedom and much physical activity after being without corsets of the required tightness for several years during and after the war, she staged a small rebellion when Will wanted to put her back into corsets as stiff and tight as those of the prewar years. Will and Ethel started to grow apart. Nevertheless Will knew that she truly loved him, as indeed he did her, even if she was unwilling to be tightly corseted again, as she had been before the War.
During the war Will's employment changed several times and in peacetime he found himself working where there were several attractive women, so Will decided to try some deception on Ethel. He pretended that he was attracted by one woman at work, who was indeed interested in corsets and ear rings. Ethel was badly shaken. Shouting and weeping, she raged at Will, which he found better than her previous indifference. Will then told her that nothing had happened between him and the other woman, that he had never even kissed her, but if Ethel continued to let her figure deteriorate, she would have only herself to blame. He reminded her of what drew him to her, so after much weeping, she promised to do anything he wanted her to do.
They kissed, and Will, with his arms around her waist, told her that she had to recover her prewar figure and start wearing high heels on the right occasions. Also he said that her ears should have more piercings, also her nostrils and nipples, the latter in the hopes of enlarging her breasts. Ethel was willing to suffer whatever pain or restrictions might be involved in order to keep Will. She promised not to loosen her corset when Will was not there, as she had previously been doing.
They bought a new corset from Overett, waist size 15 inches (38 cm), which was a reduction from what she had been wearing. It was well supplied with stiff stays, but not too long, so that Ethel could remain active. When they arrived, Will was quick to put Ethel into it. It was hard to get it on, so as soon as her stockings were fastened, Will started tightening the laces mercilessly, which Ethel endured without complaint. At last, laced as tightly as Will was able, the back of the corset was closed. The corset was uncomfortably tight, but Ethel had to endure it, even though at the point of fainting. Nevertheless she did not actually faint.
Will and Ethel had a larger garden than before, and Ethel was kept busy working in it, which helped her settle into her corset and reduce her waist. Ethel also helped mix concrete for paths and for a brick building to house Will's astronomical telescope and motorized plow.
For years Ethel had worn her long hair in a coil over each ear concealed her ear rings, but now she tried various hair colors and more up-to-date hairdos that left her ears uncovered. Their daughter had left home, so Will and Ethel were alone in their house and could do as they liked. Will decided that the time had come to start work on Ethel's ears, nose, and nipples. Because of her previous promise, Ethel was willing.
Will had recently made a new type of piercer which he tried on himself to prove that it worked. It resembled the tool used to put a ring into the nose of pigs or other animals. Like a pair of pliers, it had two semicircular jaws, each grooved to accept a ring. To use it, a loop was made at one end of a metal rod whose other end was sharpened to a point. The loop was then bent 90° and the rod was then bent until it formed almost a complete circle. After the circle was placed in the jaws of the piercer, squeezing the handles would cause the pointed end to pass through the loop. Will used ethyl chloride spray and an injection of novocaine on the spot to be pierced to deaden the pain.
Will had previously pierced Ethel's septum and stretched the opening until she could wear a ring or plug ¼" (6.3 mm) thick in it. Will believed that further expansion was possible, so he continued the process with successively two larger plugs until the hole was 5/16" (7.9 mm) wide. After Ethel had worn that size of plug for about two weeks, Will replaced it by a 21/64" (8.3 mm) plug, a month later by a 11/32" (8.7 mm) plug, and another month later by a 23/64" (9.1 mm) plug. Ethel was finally able to wear a bull ring 3" (7.6 cm) in diameter and slightly less than 3/8" (9.5 mm) thick through that hole.
Will had also been stretching a hole in his own nose in the same way, until he actually could fit the 3/8" (9.5 mm) plug into it.
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