And I'll Grant You HersbyNakod Apa©
1. AT THE HUNT BALL
Unremarked by the ladies in their crinolines or the gentlemen in their frock-coats, the two aristocrats slipped though the French windows onto the balcony. Behind them the music of a gavotte echoed from the ballroom.
While the young, slim man gazed down into the dark evening, attempting to make out the shapes of the knot garden, the older, stout man with the stiff pepper and salt beard took a small silver box from his pocket of his tail coat. He offered it to his companion. 'Snuff, Sir John?'
'I thank thee, My Lord, but 'tis an indulgence that doth not sit well with me.'
'As thou will.' Lord Wray took a pinch and inhaled it up one nostril, sneezed hard, then repeated the performance with the other nostril. After wiping his prominent nose with a large bandanna he continued, 'I would speak plain, Sir John.'
'If that be thy wish, My Lord.'
'Thy cousin, the Mistress Alexandra. She has grown into a fine young woman whom, I am given to believe, retains still her virginity.'
'Such is also my understanding, My Lord.'
'Then if I may be bold. . . I find myself much taken with her and entertain a desire to be possessed of her maidenhead.'
'Hmm. . . I will allow 'tis possible, though I had reserved to myself the pleasure of her deflowering.'
'Perhaps if a sufficient consideration were to be furnished, Sir John? I warrant she would be worthy of a goodly contribution toward her dowry.'
'Nay, My Lord, guineas are not an issue. I incline toward a quid pro quo. Say one cherry for another.'
'In principle. Yet maidenheads are so seldom to be met with at this season.'
'They have indeed became unusual scarce since thy Lordship has so diligently undertaken their harvesting.
'That is but the envenomed tongue of slander. Though I do confess I know of no pleasure equal to the parting of a wench from her cherry.'
'Egad sir, but thou hast the truth of it. Howsoever I am mindful of one that would suit.'
'Speak plainly Sir John, for I know of none within my estates.'
'There is thy ward, the Lady Matilda. Verily she is ripe for plucking.'
'Thou art insolent, sir.'
'And thou, sir, apply thy droit de seigneur to excess. My requital is not for chaffering.'
Lord Wray thought long. 'Thou drive a hard bargain, Sir John. But methinks thee has the right of the matter. Let us not dispute. I will admit of thy design if Mistress Alexandra sojourn with me at Wray Castle.'
'I can foresee no objection. But if I might recommend an alternate proceeding that mayhap will prove propitious.'
'Speak to thy suggestion.'
'Know thee, My Lord, that I was preparing to host a small party at Laydown House come next month. It would present an ideal opportunity to mutually facilitate our desires.'
'Whom dost thou propose to entertain?'
'If thou wilt countenance them, I think just three others. Ye may recall Colonel Browser. He lost his spouse in childbirth some year and a half past and has recently taken to himself a new wife from out of the country. The tattle has it she is hardly got clear of infancy, yet verily I gather he is already strenuously engaged in instructing her as to her rightful duties within the bed chamber.
'Also, I have a well seasoned accord with a distant relative - the Bishop of Meak. On a quondam visit he became so enamored of a certain housemaid that I felt obligated to retain her services solely to satisfy his sporadic desires. Now when the need is upon him to exercise his manhood he avails himself of my hospitality. To the world he avers that he is on retreat and, indeed, ostensibly he spends his hours here contemplating diocesan matters - truly, however, what he mostly contemplates is my housemaid.'
'Ah, yes, one had heard rumour to that effect. But come, we digress. I find thy design most agreeable, Sir John. I look forward to receiving thy bidding. In the meantime I suggest we apprise the ladies of their obligations.'
2. LAYDOWN HOUSE - THE NEXT DAY
'That is barbaric John. You men treat us as objects to be taken and used at thy will. It is intolerable. I shall not comply.' She stamped a delicate foot and tossed her blonde ringlets, nearly dislodging her mob cap.
'Desist, Alex. Berating me will not alter the situation. We are both culpable. Several moons past I beseeched thee to freely attend me in my bed but, despite my importunity, thou declined to service me. So now it is Lord Wray who will first enjoy thy cunni. And my lapse? I should not have accepted thy refusal, but enforced my righteous possession of thy body.'
'It is my right to decide to whom I relinquish my maidenhead.'
'In principle mayhap, but hast thou forgot the proverb - beggars have no right to be choosers. I would that I might grant thee the right, but it would prove impolitic. Lord Wray has many friends at court and I dare not risk his ire.'
'Know thee not that he is notorious amongst gentlewomen for his immoderate appetites and his brutal use of the housemaids in his employ. Droit de seigneur or no, I will not submit. Come, plough my furrow thyself and pre-empt the matter.'
'I would that I could, but the time is past.'
'Then I have no other recourse but to flee to foreign parts.'
'And how wilt thou live? It is my charity that supports thee.'
'I shall seek the post of a governess.'
'In a country of whose language and customs thou art unversed? Nay, 'tis a pipe dream. Thou art certain, as that maid who decamped last autumn, to conclude in a bawdy-house selling for pence what thee so highly prize, and for which thee could parlay a goodly reward.'
'Death before dishonour.'
'A romantic absurdity. What signify a loss that is inevitable, albeit in an unpleasant measure, against the joy of life and hope of an upstanding husband.'
'For a certainty, John, thou art the voice of reason and wisdom. Yet I cannot espouse thy way of thinking.'
'There is yet some days. Reflect upon what I have said and we will discuss it anew.'
3. WRAY CASTLE - THE SAME DAY
'A moment Matilda. I must advise thee of an arrangement I have made for thy entertainment.'
'Indeed, My Lord, and what is that?' she raised dark eyes from her embroidery.
'Sir John FitzJohn is urging us to partake of his hospitality at Laydown House for several days, and I would fain accept.'
'Indeed that sounds most agreeable. Sir John is an amiable gentleman.'
'I am glad to hear thy opinion, for he has also made representation that, during our sojourn, he be granted the privilege of introducing thee to womanhood. Since I am somewhat beholden to him in an other matter I am of a mind to vouchsafe his request.'
'Oh!' her full bosom heaved. 'Tis a consummation I had anticipated these last months, though I guessed not with whom. Sir John is one of the handsomest of men and I doubt not that he will prove an acceptable personage for the commission. As usual, I submit to thy wisdom, my lord.'
'For thy acquiescence, much thanks.' satisfied that she had, once more, yielded to his authority Lord Wray left the withdrawing room.
4. LAYDOWN HOUSE - ONE MONTH LATER
'I trust thou will find thy accommodations satisfactory, Lady Matilda,' Alexandra said, tucking an errant curl in place.
'Yes, indeed. I surmise I shall find all to my liking. But how is it that thou attend on me - hast thee no housekeeper?' Of less than medium height she looked up at her hostess.
'Yes, My Lady. However, Sir John being as yet without wife, I act as chatelaine in recompense for his custodianship. . . . Also I wished to speak privily. Hast thou heard the tattle of a pact betwixt our mentors?'
'Yes, Alexandra. I may call thee Alexandra mayn't I?' her smile disclosed white, even teeth.
'Yes, yes. Call me Alex if thou wish. What hast thou heard?' impatiently she brushed strong hands over her tight buns.
'And thou will call me Mattie. Now what I have heard is that our mentors have reached an arrangement that we are to be deflowered. Me by Sir John, for which I am grateful, and thou by my guardian. I do so pity thee.'
'How may we forfend them, Mattie?'
'I know not, Alex. Indeed I have no wish to deflect my fortune. I had long feared that, one day when he could find no other to satisfy him, my guardian would take his pleasure of me. I believe the only reason for his forbearance was his previous intent that I wed his heir. Though 'tis moot which of the two, father or son, would prove least propitious.'
'But that . . . '
'Nay, speak it low, but 'tis now evident his son is inclined in another direction than our fair sex. So, my dearest Alex, much as I feel for thee, I vow I am overjoyed that it is Sir John whom I shall first admit to my private parts. I am fully resolved to reward his time between my thighs by giving him every pleasure to which he may aspire.'
Alexandra's head fell and her eyes filled with tears. 'What then am I to do, Mattie?'
'I know not. As women we can but accept our lot and pray for good fortune. Thou could postpone thy fate for a day or so by averring that the curse is upon thee. Happenstance some event may conspire to save thee from Lord Wray's attentions. If it be God so wills.'
5. THE TERRACE, LAYDOWN HOUSE - THE NEXT MORNING
'And hast thou advised Mistress Alexandra of our undertaking Sir John?
'Assuredly, My Lord. And thou also has addressed the Lady Matilda?'
'Indubitably. She spake most highly of the arrangement. But wait, here comes thy cousin.'
Lord Wray made a leg and doffed his cap. 'Ah! Well met, Mistress Alexandra. I was contemplating a turn around the gardens. May I entreat to the pleasure of thy conversation.'
'Why, that is most considerate, My Lord. I would welcome a gentle perambulation, but on another occasion. For now I regret that I must minister to household affairs.'
'And are thee well disposed to our purpose this coming eventide, my dear?'
'I fear there also I must displease thee, My Lord. The Goddess Selene has decreed that the time is not opportune.'
Sir John FitzJohn looked aghast at his cousin's lie.
'What! How can a . . .' Lord Wray's face grew dark with anger then cleared. 'Ah! I see. The goddess of the moon, the month. Thou art saying this time of the month is not propitious for thee.'
'Thee have the right of the matter, My Lord.'
'No doubt the delay will be but a day.'
'Two to be certain, sir,' Alexandra said.
'Ah, well, such are the vicissitudes of life. One has learned to take them like a man.' He turned to Sir John. 'To sleep unaccompanied is held by my physician to be most unhealthy and deleterious to my constitution. Mayhap thou can arrange some nubile wench to attend to my needs pending Mistress Alexandra's return to full fettle.'
Still glaring at his cousin Sir John's rejoinder was somewhat sharp, 'Assuredly, My Lord, the pick of my housemaids shall humour thy fancy.'
'Many thanks for thy indulgence, Sir John. I confess that whilst a delay is not to my liking it will, however, ensure I am much rested and ready to have a merry gallop with Mistress Alexandra.' He leered at Alex causing her to cringe.
'Good morn to thee gentlemen, and ladies.'
A tall man with an upright, military bearing came round the corner of the house, on his arm a young woman who, withal she could scarce have known a score of summers, was clearly a maid to please any man, with a sweet featured visage above two enchanting, ripe breasts so round and firm they needed not the aid of whalebone to present them for the admiration of gentlemen.
'Good morrow, Colonel,' Sir John replied. 'If I may introduce thee. My Lord, may I present Colonel and Mrs. Browser.'
The men bowed to each to the other. Then, as the young woman curtsied to him, her face demure, Lord Wray said, 'My dear Madame, thy most obedient servant. Colonel, how is't with thee Sir. How dost thee this sun bless'd day?'
'Moderate fine, My Lord,' he turned to his host. 'Howsoever Sir John, on my way hither I chanced to visit the stables. I was most vexed to discover that my stallion has shed a shoe.'
'Concern thyself not, Colonel. It is my intention to directly have recourse to the farrier on another matter. If thou wilt attend to me he may minister to thy mount instanter'. Sir John replied.
'But certainly, sir.' The Colonel turned to his wife, 'My dear, it seems I must withdraw from our perambulation. Mayhap on another occasion.'
Meanwhile Lord Wray stood motionless, gazing enraptured upon the lady's slender figure with its waist which, imprisoned by her corset, one could imagine easily encompassed by two hands. Above it the upthrust, creamy bosom was riven by a deep, dividing gully, and below a long skirt swelled over curved hips and admirable derriere before falling to shroud long legs. Stirring, he inclining his head toward the soldier, 'Prithee, Browser, might I presume to act as locum tenens and for a short while enjoy the privilege of accompanying Mistress Browser on a meander about the gardens?'
The Colonel frowned, clearly unhappy with the suggestion but unable to object without giving offence. 'The thought is kind. I cannot deny thee, My Lord. I leave the lady in thy care.'
He caught his wife by the sleeve. 'Goodwife, I leave thee to his Lordship's mercy. Now thee may walk about the garden, but see that thee do not tire him with idle tattle.'
6. THE GAZEBO - LATER
'Look thee there, Madame,' Lord Wray said pointing to a small round building half hidden at the end of the grassy ride. ''Tis a gazebo. The view of the country beyond is said to be most entertaining. Let us hasten and explore.'
Adele Browser fluttered her fan. 'Efaith sir, thy enthusiasms are like to a schoolboy.'
Taking her arm he led her up the three shallow steps into an octagonal summer house furnished with a table, an ottoman and several cushioned chairs.
'Indeed, My Lord, it is a capital outlook, most beauteous and instructive for a student of painting to peruse.'
'Fie Madame, and no artist 'ere more studied the beauty that doth reside in thy countenance. Heaven could no other ways look upon thee than to behold thy perfections'
Gallantly he assisted her to spread her high-waisted day-gown of powder-blue cambric and sit on the ottoman. Kneeling before her, he took her hand in his saying, 'And provided thou are not displeased of me, may I presume, Madam, to entreat the favour of thy lips. I do assure thee - upon mine honour - upon thy least intimation of uneasiness, I will not fail of doing myself the violence to withdraw.'
Replying not, she coloured most becomingly.
Caressing her fingers the aristocrat continued, 'Efaith Madam, in my mind, there is nothing on earth so impudent as a blush. Thus bashfulness is a very pretty thing to view; but come now, one kiss, and be quiet.'
Spreading her fan, she lowered flushed cheeks and hid behind it. 'Know thee, sir, I am a gently reared Christian woman and my consideration is only for my husband. It would be most improper for me to grant my lips to any other beau, even one as well favoured as thy lordship.'
'Thy virtuousness is most becoming, my dear. Yet constancy is a very unfashionable quality in a lady. . . Methinks the only male tool of pleasure thou has been privileged to know is that of thy husband. Wouldst thou care to look upon a real man and discover joys of which thou art yet ignorant?'
Her cheeks first paled at his forwardness then flushed a dark rose. Being not long from the country she was confused by the importuning of such an eminent lord, yet some mischief caused her to say, 'Art thou then so eager to display one for me?'
'Come indulge me but with a moment of thy time, and I will satisfy thy every curiosity,' the roué urged.
Her body stiff she lowered her fan. Taking this to signify agreement Lord Wray firmly gripped her waist, staring into her eyes. Then he tilted his head and captured her soft lips with his mouth.
The contact of his lips dizzied her as, for several moments, he enjoyed her taste. Finally his persistent tongue prevailed upon her to welcome him into her hot sweetness, searching and exploring.
As he sought and sucked upon her, his hands climbed the undercurve of her breasts to caress their firm flesh. Dropping her fan onto the floor she gave a deep sigh and raised her arms, twining them about his neck, her body becoming soft and yielding as he eased her back to lie upon the ottoman.
Raising his mouth from her, he admitted, 'I must confess myself guilty of a presumption. Abandon thyself to my fancy and willingly I will submit to any punishment thou intend: for though it be an aggravation of a crime to persevere in its justification, yet I cannot help but thirst to know thy beauty.'
Flustered, she giggled. 'Wouldst My Lord make a cuckold of my husband? Wouldst debauch my purity and pervert me from the path of virtue in which I have ever trod. Maybe thou think it not a sin - they do say many gentlemen don't think it a sin. But still mine honour that thou should so provoke my frailty.'
Bearing down, his lips found the hollow of her throat.
'Alas!' She moaned, 'I am feeble, heav'n knows so very feeble, and unable to refuse thy importunate desires.'
His roving hands clutching her neat rump he drew her close, that she might feel the press of his rampant manhood against her coveted mound. His mouth joined fiercely to her's as if to consume her. Rolling her on her face he unlaced her corset then turning her back he took up her petticoat and shift and laid open her hot centre ready for his invasion.
Confused, she submitted to her innate desires by unfastening his doublet and loosening the lace of his collar. She moaned with need as she toyed with his nipples, yet her thighs remained tight closed. Howsoever the touch of a lordly hand insinuated betwixt their smooth softness pried apart those loyal defenders of chastity and disclosed the way sufficient that he could thrust his unbending shaft within her tender folds.
Driving his pizzle full up to its head he gave her cause to lose all restraint and push back at him, groaning with strong effusions of pleasure.
Soon his thrusts become more and more furious. Until, after divers licentious minutes, deep sighs and a strong shudder announced the approach of his ecstatic climax. With a hoarse cry he filled her with his seed while, yielding to her nature, she joined him in joyous orgasm.
Rising from her contented curves he prepared to adjust his dress. 'My regards to thy husband, mam. He hath schooled thee most satisfactorily.'
'Hades Hounds! Have I indeed! What, Sirrah, is the meaning of this?' Standing in the entry was Colonel Browser.
'Fie sir, I but entertain the lady.'
'Have I ever given encouragement for such liberties? Upon my oath thou presume too much upon thy rank. Aristocrat thou may be, gentleman thou art not.'
'Impudent capon - thou art a pert and insolent fellow.'
'Thou cad, sir! 'Tis an insult that must be washed in blood. I demand satisfaction.'
'I am at thy disposal, thou barnyard jackanapes.'
'A plague confound thee. I will have the favour of thy company at dawn on the morrow in the lower meadow. Name thy weapon.'
7. THE MASTER'S STUDY - MID AFTERNOON
'God rot their bones for an infernal pair of odious varlets.' Sir John threw himself into a velvet covered chair.
'How so, Cousin? What ails thee?' Alexandra said.
'The good Colonel is enraged upon some provocation of Lord Wray, and they are determined on measuring swords, come the morn.'
'Oh, John. It must be a most grievous trial for thee.'
'Tis most improper and I would fain have Lord Wray withdraw.'
'How so? Would the Colonel not then have him posted.'
'Whereabouts could he cause a notice to be posted. The only spot that might give society occasion to consider his failure to fight a stain upon his character would be at Court or his club. And the Colonel hath no access. Indeed the Code of Honour is clear - the parties must be of equal standing and tho' he be an upright citizen a colonel is not of the quality of a lord, so Lord Wray has no necessity to risk injury.'