Memoir of a Lame Girlbymsgimply©
This narrative came to us as a hand written manuscript on yellowed and tattered sheets of paper. Its owner claimed it was submitted to London Life in 1937 but never published because it was a bit more explicit than even their standards allowed. We seriously doubt its authenticity but will let our readers judge for themselves. Authentic articles from London Life might be found by an internet search for sites that include "London Life" as well as "disability."
I have read with great interest your articles, letters and stories about maimed and crippled women and the attraction of many men to them. I eagerly await each new issue and read it avidly as soon as it arrives in the post.
Now, I would like to share my experience as a lame girl. Of course I am no longer a girl and I am even lamer now that I am old. I would prefer to withhold my name and address for obvious reasons.
I will tell you about Mister Billings whom I met almost forty years ago. I relive the experience with great pleasure every day although Mister Billings passed away more than a year ago. The memories of him grow even sweeter with the passing of time.
I was living in the city then. I supported myself by mending, embroidery, fancy stitching and lace making for some of the several women's apparel shops in the neighborhood. It provided enough income to rent a small room and to purchase food. I sewed my own clothes and otherwise lived quite frugally. My only extravagance was my ever expanding collection of stories and novels that took me away from the drabness of my life and surrounded me with friends in my imagination.
I had learned my trade at the orphanage where I was raised. It was the only home I had ever known. It clothed and fed me and taught me my little skills. But It did not provide a happy childhood. The other orphans were often cruel to the little crippled child who hobbled on a crutch and couldn't keep up with the others in the play and games. A few of the matrons were warm and kind but they were the exception. I have no memory of parents or family. I was quite alone in the world.
When I was very little I remember a few good times there. For example, some of the bolder girls would purloin biscuits from the kitchen and we would eat them under the bed covers after the lights were out. This was accompanied much giggling and hilarity. I reveled in the sense of sheer naughtiness that it brought me.
Then, for a few years, a patroness of the institution would take all of us for a trip to the seaside in the warm part of the year. My crutch was not much good for moving about in the sand, but I enjoyed the sunshine and the endless play of the waves on the shore.
But except for those few good times, life there was unrelieved monotony and constant humiliation.
As we girls got older, others blossomed into young women with shapely and full figured forms. I did not. My bosom was small and, of course my shape remained twisted. When my monthlies began, it was a source of embarrasment. The head matron told me only that it was the woman's curse and to try to keep myself clean. That was the only instruction I got about being a woman.
My response to the years in the orphanage was to learn to live a very private and inner life. I read a lot (and still do). I avoided contact with others as far as I was able. It was a pattern I continued when I left the orphanage when I was eighteen.
The day that I met Mister Billings was about two years after I left the orphanage. I was following my usual routine. I had delivered some lace to a dress shop and had been paid. I was on my way home. As was my habit, I spoke to no one and did not meet anyone's eyes. I tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible. I hated equally the stares of pity and the aversion of eyes from my crooked frame. I kept my eyes downcast.
As I neared home, a group of young ruffians came down the street before me. They were hooting and cursing and making horseplay. I suspected their merriment was fueled by strong drink. I cringed in fear as they approached me. I kept my eyes on the sidewalk and tried to shrink to invisibility. I kept on with my halting pace and hoped they wouldn't notice me.
It didn't work. When they saw me, the began to point and laugh. I was mortified and afraid. I kept my eyes downcast and hobbled on. I hoped they would just pass by and leave me alone.
It was not to be. They fell in beside me and one began to imitate my limp. The others cheered him on and than began to compete to imitate my walk. The biggest and surliest of them grabbed at my crutch. I resisted and lost my balance and fell to the pavement. He picked up my crutch and hobbled with it grotesquely down the street.
I shook and sobbed, helpless on the walkway. I was unable to rise without the aid of my crutch. Even if I had gotten to my feet, I could not have walked without it. They continued to mock me and I was even more afraid.
I heard a shout and saw a man running toward me and the rowdies. He was big and carried himself with enough confidence that they ran from him and disappeared among the maze of buildings and alleys. However, they had carried away my crutch and I was stranded there.
The man, I came to know, was Mister Billings. I had passed him many times on my rounds of the dress shops. He always tipped his hat to me but I had steadfastly refused to acknowledge it. I came to learn that he was a teacher at a nearby school. He lived not far from me.
Mister Billings pursued them a short way then gave up the chase. Then he returned to where I was sobbing and shaking, sitting on the curb. He said that he knew who some of them were and that he would deal with them later. He knelt beside me and gently laid his hand on my shoulder. He asked if I was alright.
I got some control of my sobs but still could not respond. He pulled a large white handkerchief from his breast pocket and gave it to me. It settled me and I said that I thought so but was helpless without my crutch. He asked where I lived and I told him. I still could not meet his eyes. He stood up and extended his arms to me. He told me he would take me home.
For a long moment I did nothing. Then, since there was nothing else to do, I extended my arms and let him grasp my hands. Seemingly without effort, he lifted me to my feet. With my arm in his, I took a few halting steps without making much forward progress. Then before I could object, one of his arms was behind my back and the other was under my lower limbs. He lifted me and I felt his strength.
He carried me to my lodging house. As he walked he told me his name and that he was a teacher. I felt safe and protected. But I still could not meet his eyes. I kept by face pressed into the lapel of his overcoat and listened to him talk.
He carried me up the front steps and I showed him how to ring the bell for the landlady. He left me in her charge and I mumbled my thanks. I still could not meet his eyes. He gave his calling card to the old woman in case he was needed. Then he was gone.
The old woman helped to clean and dress the scratches I had sustained in the fall. Then she made me some tea and the evening began to feel better.
I lay awake for a long time that night thinking about my rescuer and protector. I regretted that I had not thanked him properly. I vowed that I would express my real gratitude the next time I saw him. I finally drifted off to sleep imagining that I was safely being carried in his arms.
I did not have long to wait. The landlady showed Mister Billings into my room early the next morning. I was sitting in my soft chair in the little patch of morning sunshine that made the room bearable. He had my crutch in his hand. He explained that he had found the scoundrel who took it and that I had no more to fear from the ruffians. He didn't say what hold he had on them, but I believed him and was reassured.
As he leaned the crutch next to me on the chair, I reached out and grasped both his hands. I looked directly into his eyes and smiled. I thanked him profusely and earnestly for his help and for retrieving my crutch. I explained that I was so upset the evening before that I couldn't get the words out and that I had not intended to be rude.
He reassured me that he understood and his gaze held mine. At last I released his hands and reached for my crutch. I lifted myself to my feet and invited him to sit in my place. He hesitated for a moment. I believe he was concerned that the old landlady was hovering in the hallway and had, of course, left my door open. She was very concerned about her lodgers entertaining gentlemen in their rooms. He sat. I made my way to the straight chair in the other corner and carefully lowered myself into it, intensely aware of my awkwardness. He didn't seem to notice.
From where he sat, he saw my shelves of books and remarked on them. It turned out that he had read many of them and was familiar with almost the all the authors. I told him that the books were my only real friends. I immediately regretted saying that as I did not want his pity. He told me he knew what I meant and that he felt the same way about his library. But he added that it was nice to have real people to discuss the books with.
He did not stay long. The old woman was still outside the door trying to look busy. I took his hands again and thanked him. He promised that we would talk again. Then he was gone and I spent a long time remembering every detail of our brief meeting.
We did talk again. I began to plan my visits to the dress shops to coincide with the time I knew he would be coming home from school. When we met, he would join me and slow his pace to mine and we would talk about books as he accompanied me home.
A few times on warm afternoons we sat in the little park near my place. We gradually told our life stories. Then as the weather improved with the advance of Spring we met on pleasant Sundays to go to the large park a bit further from home. It tired me to go that far but he was always ready to help me with steps and curbs. I thoroughly enjoyed his companionship and his protection.
He told me he was a teacher of classical languages at a nearby day achool, a post he had held for more that fifteen years. He told me he would like to get a similar position in a good boarding school outside the city, but he feared that he was too old to be considered.
He brought me books. Some were gifts and others were loaned. We discussed them. We even argued a bit with cheerful and friendly banter.
At my suggestion, I began to mend his clothes. He wanted to pay but I insisted that it was an act of friendship and I would be insulted by payment.
For me it was unalloyed joy to know him and to be with him. He was the only real friend I had ever had. I even began to be more open and free with others. The ladies at the shops noticed and remarked on my new attitude. I did not tell them why I was coming out of my shell
One very hot day in Summer I made my way to his rooms while he was in school. I had been there a few times before. We did not get the same disapproval and supervision that we did when he visited me. I think the attitude was that a twisted cripple was not really a woman and could visit a man's place without scandal. To be truthful, I think I even believed that myself.
I had agreed to sew new drapes for his windows if he would supply the material. I was coming to measure for them. Very slowly and with great care, I lifted myself up the stairs and let myself in with the key he had loaned me.
The air inside was hot and stale and stifling. Before I took out my measuring tape, I opened all the windows in the place. There was a bit of breeze but it was still hot.
I took the measurements and kept careful notes. When I finished I was flushed and overheated. I enviously eyed the large basin and the water tap in his bed chamber. I was a bit jealous because at my place I had to share the ablution facilities with all the other girls on my floor. There were always others looking on or waiting. There I always felt as if I was being rushed. There was no time to take pleasure in my bathing. I calculated that there was plenty of time before he returned. And, I decided that I deserved the luxury.
I found a towel and a washing cloth on the nearby rack. I filled the basin with water. I removed all my clothes and draped them on the back of a chair. I sponged myself with the cool water. It was pure pleasure and I spent a long time at it. I was glad that there was no mirror there and I didn't have to confront my appearance.
At last, I dried myself and enjoyed the feel of the light breeze on my bareness. I hung the towel and the damp cloth back on the rack. I would explain to him that I had washed my face. I hesitated to don my clothes again. Instead I decided to lie on his big bed for a few minutes and enjoy the little breeze. I could smooth it out when I arose and he would never need to know.
I did not intend to sleep. I do not know how long I slept. I awoke with a start to a noise in the other room. He was here! He explained later that school had been dismissed early because of the intense heat in the poorly ventilated classrooms.
I panicked. I started to reach for my crutch. Before I found it he came through the door. He saw me and stood stock still. He stared at me with his mouth open.
The astonishing thing was that he had apparently had the same idea as me. He wore not a stitch of clothing! I had never before seen a man without clothes. I had almost never seen anyone completely unclothed except for a few bold girls at the orphanage.
My reaction was immediate and I moved my arms and hands to cover myself. I was almost overcome with a wave of shame that washed over me. I was ashamed to be seen. I was ashamed of my lameness. I was ashamed of my bent limbs and my twisted back. I was ashamed of my tiny bosom and of the little mound of curls that my hands tried futilely to hide.
But at the some time, I could not take my eyes away from his bare body. I could see the contours of his muscles and his almost perfect symmetry. Most compelling was his male member. I had never imagined the reality of it. I only knew about it from hints in the novels and from giggled late night talk by the bolder girls in the orphanage. I was transfixed.
I watched it grow and come erect. In a sudden flash of insight I realised why the matrons had always been so strict in their inventory of chapel candles and were so afraid one of us would sneak one of them back to our sleeping rooms.
Then, I was overwhelmed with the realization that he was responding to me. My shame ebbed and vanished as suddenly as it had come. I lifted my arms from my body and made no more attempt to hide myself. My eyes met his. I even smiled a bit. I extended my hands to him and invited him to me.
He came slowly and our mutual gazes did not break. He lay beside me and took me in his arms. The contact of skin to skin was like nothing I had felt before. He kissed my face. We kissed each other on the lips, lingering, longing. I showered his face with kisses He returned mine with kisses on my shoulders. Then he gently kissed my bosom. At that, I expected the shame to return but I was not ashamed. Instead, I felt wonderfully naughty like the times we ate the forbidden biscuits in the dark. Then he kissed my face and lips again and I returned his kisses with mine.
We took our time and explored each other. We stroked and petted and nuzzled.
My sense of naughtiness swelled each time his hands and his lips went to my bosom. I made little noises to encourage him. I sensed that his hands wanted to explore further. The matrons had drilled us with shrill insistence that we were never to touch ouselves?down there.' The only exception was to wash and then to do it quickly with a cloth and never with our hands. Of course, they never explained why except that we would be polluting ourselved. I neither believed nor disbelieved their admonition but I had always followed it.
Now I began to become aware that I wanted Mister Billings to touch me there. Slowly and deliberately and with difficulty, I separated my lame limbs and placed them in a way that I hoped invited him. I was breathless with excitement and I feared at the same time that he might reject me.
What he did next surprised me. He stroked and kissed my limbs for a long minute. I still made little moans to encourage him. Then he put his mouth under my curls and slowly, gently, softly kissed me there. For an instant, I stood aside from myself and marvelled that I had no shame.
Then, his lips and his tongue began to make little circular motions and to find an exquisite seat of sensation. Pleasure washed over me like waves on the seashore. In a corner of my mind I cursed the matrons for keeping this secret from me. My sense of naughtiness swelled to wickedness and I revelled in it. Then the pleasure took complete control and built until the last wave broke and crashed and overwhelmed me.
Then he was kissing my face and lips again. I was apprehensive when he said he was going to enter me. He said that it might pinch or even hurt momentarily the very first time and he promised to be gentle. My fear dissolved and I whispered that I wanted him.
There was only a momentary discomfort and then I realised that I was wet inside and waiting for him. Very slowly he came into me the whole way. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. I was astonished that my little body was so commodious as to accommodate him. I felt as if I had been mastered and overcome. At the same time I felt a sense of mastery myself as I watched his need for me playing in his eyes.
Then he began to move slowly in and out, still gentle. I encouraged him with kisses and caresses. Waves of pleasure begin to build in me again. It was different than before. The sensation was deeper, even in a way subdued. I still watched his face as my waves flowed and ebbed.
Then from his eyes I saw that a wave was building in him, too. He began to increase the pace and my waves built as well. Then as his wave broke he gave a cry and I felt his moisture inside me and my wave crashed, too, with a cry that matched his.
We clung to each other wordlessly for a long time as the heat of the day ebbed and the soft breeze through the windows cooled. Then we talked for long hours into the evening.
That day was a watershed in my life. Before it I was a shy and suffering girl. After it I was a woman. From that day I understood what the novels were hinting at and what was hidden from us at the orphanage.
For the next year we were together often. My transformation was dramatic. I began to look at people and even to start conversation. I paid more attention to my clothes and cut them a bit more stylishly. I designed little bits of color and my own lace into them. I paid even more attention to my undergarments but no one knew except for me and, of course, Mister Billings.
But the biggest change was in my own attitude. Everywhere I went, I felt like I was keeping a delicious and naughty secret. I felt I was always on the verge of telling although I never did. I'm not sure I knew completely what my secret was but I always felt its powerful presence.
At least part of the secret was my delicate and elegant underclothing. Young and modern readers must be reminded that in those days our dresses went all the way to the ground. Men lusted for forbidden glimpses when ladies alighted from carriages or lifted their skirts to cross mud puddles. Our revealing clothing today is a marked contrast to the styles of my youth. The long dresses were a blessing to me. They kept my crippled limbs from public display.
Undergarments in that day were different, too. Women would typically wear a shift that tucked into long drawers. Under the drawers were long hose. I followed that style as well. Then the typical lady would be laced into a tight corset that slimmed the midsection and emphasized other parts of her. I never even considered a corset! I had a small frame and, of course, I was twisted as well. (Some ladies of a certain age still wore bustles, but they were fast going out of style.) Then came petticoats, sometimes several of them, but I only ever wore one. High shoes were donned next. Finally, the whole collection was covered by a long dress.