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When Caroline smiles I know something, but I do not know what I know.
The whip lay untouched beneath my pillow. Father was due to depart. There was movement about the house. Trunks, valises. Two hansom cabs were needed - one for the luggage.
In the night before his departure I slipped my hand beneath my pillow and touched the whip, the smoothness of the handle, the coiling of the waiting thongs. My thumb traced the carved veins upon the penis shape. It moved to the knob, the swollen plum. After long moments of caressing it I got up and moved along the dark of the passageway. The door to father's bedroom was ajar. I stilled myself and took an extra pillow from the linen cupboard, making no sound.
The door to Caroline's room lay half open. Normally it was closed, as was mine at night. In the night. I peered within, expecting her to sit up. In the milky gloom she lay sprawled on her bed. Her hair was fanned untidily over her pillow. The hem of her nightdress was drawn up, exposing her thighs and the shadowy thatch of ash-blonde hair between. Her eyes were closed, lips parted.
I moved forward quietly, expecting to surprise her. She stirred not.
Her legs lay apart in an attitude of lewd abandon. Slender fingers curled lax upon the innerness of her thigh - the firm flesh of pleasure there. Between the curls the lips of pleasure pouted. In the pale moonlight it seemed to me that there was a glistening there, as even upon her fingertips. Her breathing was the breathing of a child.
I stirred her shoulder with my hand. Drowsily her eyes opened. 'You are uncovered. Come - don't be naughty,' I scolded. She prefers me in my scolding. My hands slid beneath her calves, lifting them. As with the motions of a nurse I drew the sheet and blanket over her. Beneath her bottom cheeks a faintly sticky moisture. Throwing one arm over her eyes she mumbled something. Pieces of unfinished words. 'You were long in the summerhouse today,' I said. She answered not.
The defensive movement of her forearm tightened over her face. 'We are bad,' I said. Her legs moved pettishly beneath the sheet and then lay still. An owl hooted, calling to witches.
'Bad,' Caroline husked. She was a child repeating a lesson. I bent and kissed her mouth. Her lips yielded and then I was gone.
The hours passed as white clouds pass. At three the next afternoon Father departed. The gates lay open. The hansom cabs waited. The second carried his luggage piled high as if in retreat from days that were too long, too dry. In the hallway we were kissed, our bottoms fondled. There was affection. The cabmen waited. A smell of horses - manure and hay. A jingling of harness, clatter of wheels and he was gone. Gone to the oceans, the sea-cry and the vivid sun. The women would be bronzed, I thought. I would bronze my body - my nipples rouged, erect.
Caroline did not speak. Her pale fretting was evident. In the drawing-room Sophie bobbed and called me Ma'am instead of Miss Beatrice. I was pleased. With the master gone I now was mistress. We would take tea, I said, but no cakes.
'I want cakes,' Caroline said. Her look was sullen. I meant to punish her - perhaps for the summerhouse or for lying with her thighs apart on her bed. I knew not. We were like travelers whom the train has left behind. We drank unspeaking, our minds in clouds of yesterday.
Sophie came and went, silent as on castors. Then the doorbell jangled. Its sound seemed to cross the halls, the rooms, and tinkle in the rockery beyond the windows. Alice went, adjusting her cap but leaving her white apron askew. It was our uncle. Announced, he bowed benignly to us both. He was a man of slightly ruddy countenance, neither tall nor short, strong in his ways. He owned a small manufactory and numerous saddlery shops that were scattered about the county. Sophie poured fresh tea. We spoke of Father.
'Jenny has come?' I asked. My voice was an echo of my voice in the attic. My uncle nodded. He adjusted the set of his waistcoat rather as Alice had adjusted her cap.
'She is settling,' he announced. 'Her training has been of use, I believe.'
'Was she not teaching?' I ventured the question. His eyes passed over the fullness of my breasts and then on to Caroline's.
'They are one,' he declared. 'You will come for dinner.
It was not a question. I would have preferred it to be a question. His hazel eyes were like Father's. They sought, found and alighted. I felt their pressure upon my thighs.
'At eight,' I said. I knew exactly at what hour they dined. I rose.
'Uncle - if you will excuse me.'
Politely, as I thought, he rose in unison with me. Caroline's glances hunted and dropped. 'Let me accompany you,' he said. It was unexpected. I desired to say that I was going to my room, but I suspected that he guessed. The moment was uncanny. It was as if Father had returned, had shaven off his beard and was wearing another suit. I could scarce refuse. At the door to my room I hesitated, but there was a certain urging in his look The door closed behind us.
'Beatrice, you will bring the whip,' my uncle said. A bubble of no came to my lips, then sank again. That he knew of it seemed to me a treachery - bizarre, absurd. His expression nevertheless was kind. Without seeking an invitation he advanced upon me and embraced me. I leaned against him awkwardly. There was a tobacco smell. Memories of port. 'I have to care for you, nurture you, Beatrice. There are reasons.'
I sought but could not find them. Delicately his fingertips moved down the small buttons at the back of my dress. My chin rested against the upper pocket of his coat. With some absurdity I wondered what was in it.
'The whip - it has many thongs, has it not?' He raised my chin. My eyes swam in his seeing. My lips parted. Pearls of white teeth.
'Lick your lips, Beatrice - I desire to see them wet.'
Unknowing, I obeyed. He smiled at the pink tip of my tongue. It peeped like a squirrel and was gone. I was in another's body, and yet it was my own. We moved. I felt our moving. Backwards, stiffly. My calves touched the rolled edge of my bed. His right hand sought my bottom and slid beneath the bulge.
'Reach down and backwards for the whip. Beneath your pillow. Do not turn,' he said. His fingers cupped my cheeks more fiercely. The blush rose within me. A tendon strained in my neck Held about my waist by his other arm, I leaned back, I sought. My fingers floundered. He assisted me in my movements. The ebony handle came to my hand.
It slipped. I gripped again. In a moment I held it by my side, still leaning back as I was told.
'It is good. You shall remain obedient, Beatrice, while in my care. Speak now, but do not move. I want you thus.'
'And Caroline?' I asked. Were the secrets about to be unlocked? There were cracks in the ceiling. Tributaries. I knew not what I spoke. 'It shall be. You must be trained. Upright now - come! Hard against me!' I wilted, twisted, but to no avail. A hand forced into my back brought me up, slamming against him. My breasts ballooned. His hand supported my bottom. Father had not treated me this way. I had come to his arms and said nothing. In the attic we had whispered secrets, but they were small. The root of manhood was against me. Against my belly. I would have swooned save for his clasp. Then of a sudden he released me and I fell.
Backwards upon my bed. Forlorn as a child. The whip dangled its thongs across my knees. 'At eight,' my uncle said. The bulge in his breeches was considerable.
I had seen it in father's but had averted my eyes. I hung my head.
There was a loneliness within me that cried for satisfaction. I said yes - hearing my voice say yes. My nipples stung their tips beneath my bodice. My uncle departed, leaving gaps in the air. I rose and gazed down from the window as I had gazed with Father. A woman in black carrying a parasol walked past holding the arm of a man. The cry of a rag-and-bone merchant came to my ears, long away, far away. In a distant cave. Below there were voices. Mumblings of sound. Why did Caroline always cry out? How foolish she was. I sat again, fondling the whip. In the attic I would have received it, I knew. The horse would have rocked. My pumpkin raised, bursting through my drawers. I had shown Father my nipples. We were bad.
In the morning I would be alone, walking through the clear air. My bottom had not tasted the whip. I turned before my dressing-table mirror and raised my skirts. Perhaps I would cease to wear drawers. Their filled legs were pretty. Pink ribbons dangled their brevity against the milky skin of my thighs. Awkwardly I slashed the thongs across my cheeks. The sting was light.
I wanted to go to Jericho - lower my drawers and let my pubis show.
The curls were soft, springy and thick. The thongs would flick within my groove. I would clutch the horse's neck, the dappled grey, the shine of him, and cry. I would cry tears of wine. The dead bees upon the windowsill would stir. 'All shall be well with the best of all possible bottoms,' Father had said to me once. We had laughed. 'Pangloss,' I declared. I knew my Voltaire. Pangloss and bottom gloss, Father said. There was purity.
I repaired my disorders of dress and brushed my hair. I am never given to allowing servants to do it. In the drawing-room Caroline sat as placidly as she would have me believe she always did. I needed to challenge her. I went and sat beside her. She was surprised, I believe, at my composure.
'Did Uncle kiss you?' I asked. She shook her head. Her cheeks were bright red. 'Or feel your thighs?' I added. Her gasp sounded within my mouth as I drew back her neck and kissed her. My hand sought her corsage. There was a loose button. Her nipples were stiff.
Loosing second and third buttons, my small hand squeezed within. The jellied mounds of her breasts were firm and full - only a trifle smaller than my own. Caroline struggled, but I am stronger than she. She endeavoured to raise her arms between us but the enclosure of my arm was too tight. Her lips made petal shapes of helplessness. Her breath was warm. My hand slipped down, cupping the luscious gourd. The ball of my thumb flicked the nipple.
'Between your thighs, Caroline,' I murmured. I did not say of what I spoke, nor of whom I spoke. Her head shook violently. Her eyes were lighthouses. 'In your mouth? The smooth, hot knob?' I teased. Her expression became rigid with surprise. Her head fell back. I licked my tongue along her teeth and laughed. I released her, leaping to my feet. 'How foolish we are!' I laughed. I turned and went before my disguise melted. I had never taken it in my mouth.
Caroline's mouth was so often petulant. It would have fitted perfectly. The rose and the stalk. I would have hidden and watched her sin. The delicate oozing of her mouth upon the rampant conqueror, balls pendant on her cupping palm. Her eyes would be half closed, lashes fluttering. The cock would jerk faster and she would choke. A warning hand would seize her head. Her cheeks would bulge as the penis urged deeper. Strong loins would work against her unwillingness.
And the spouting. He would have needed to cup her face completely hold it in. Ripe throbbing of the flesh.
'Suck, Caroline.' His voice would be deep and urgent, her head squeezed, ripplings of blonde hair through his fingers. Beneath her dress her breasts would lilt.
There was sin here, among the rubber plants, the rooms over-crowded with furniture, photographs of sepia in silver frames upon the piano. From the conservatory whither I fled I gazed upon the waving fronds of ferns. Father's train would have reached the terminal. His bags would be carried. The boat train at Liverpool Street would await him. Women would peer through carriage windows at his coming. Blinds would be drawn, expressions adjusted. The women would wear fine kid gloves, velvet-smooth to the touch on sensitive skin. Balls pendant. Veins. 'Suck, Caroline, suck.'
Sperm is thick, salty. Once I tasted it on my palm. My sprinklings are salty when I sprinkle. Over the cock that is more powerful and thick than my husband's was. That is now. It was not then. In my then I was alone in my aloneness. I returned to Caroline. She had not moved save to button her dress. The servant would enter soon with the oil lamps. Caroline stared down at the carpet and would not raise her eyes. I knew her moods. I sank to my knees and pressed my lips upon her thigh.
'Do not!' she said. Her voice was as distant as the far whistling of a train.
Kid gloves. The blinds drawn. Penis rampant. The knob of my whip. 'There is no sin. Is there sin?' I asked Caroline. Sin once had been giggling in Sunday school. Now there was desire between our thighs. 'I do not know,' Caroline said. Her voice fell like a small flake of metal. She was angry with me. My desire became muted. I wanted to protect her. Soon, after we had bathed and changed for dinner, it would be almost eight o'clock. I looked up and she was staring at me. Perhaps she knew her fate as well as I.