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Eight months have already passed since the death of my father. I still wear mourning for him and I still wear the dishonoring garb of Lady Flayskin's highly select establishment.
Seven months have passed since I slept under this roof for the first time.
Sometimes during the night, stifled laughter from the girls' dormitory comes through the thin partition and awakes me. I fall again into a fitful slumber, disturbed by bad dreams. I think I am being done to death by a goblin who sits upon my body and gnaws it. I awake and find that the busk of my corset is sticking into my stomach.
My neighbor's voice comes to me in a whisper from the next bed.
â€œWill you play?â€ he asks.
Although I reply in the negative, he raises my bedclothes and slips into my bed. I am obliged to submit silently to his contact for, should I occasion a quarrel, my companion would perhaps receive the whip and I should certainly be flogged.
For such was the â€œdistributive justiceâ€ of Lady Flayskin.
Nor did she ever fail in her preliminary lectures to insert some fine sentiments regarding the duties of bonne camaraderie.
I shudder yet as I think of the deeds that fair-sounding expression was employed to cover in the Flayskin Academy. And many a sun has set since those far-off days.
But that night, despite my ill feelings, I permitted the young man beside me to practice his skills upon my flesh, mouthing my organ and sucking me nicely until he received that tribute which, legend teaches us, belongs to Venus. Since my own un-manning at the wedding, I had taken to enjoying such gestures; they restored my feelings of superiority. When he was finished, I pushed him away, and he went back to his own bed to snore happily. I stayed awake long into the night. For each night thereafter, I called him to my side for the same service, and denied him my spunk, choosing instead to deliver it into some womanly chamber. It seemed that his tears of frustration were satisfying to me; I knew that my own cruelty was a new thing and I regretted it from time to time.
One memorable morning, a servant entered the schoolroom with a note for Mrs. Stuart.
The mistress put her spectacles on her thin nose and read the short missive with an air of astonishment. I saw her read it through a second time and then sign to Mrs. Eagle, who likewise showed extreme surprise at the communication. I was idly contrasting the leanness of Mrs. Stuart with the plumpness of Mrs. Eagle, who never resembled an eagle less than at that moment, in her goggle-eyed, red-cheeked astonishment, when I heard my name called by the thin under-mistress.
â€œJimmy, come here!â€
Had a thunderbolt burst at my feet, I could hardly have felt more astonishment than I did at that moment. For seven months I had not been addressed by my own male name. Why was I not â€œAlice?â€ Why was I a man again?
So intense were my feelings that I found it impossible to do otherwise than to release a flow of tears. I made no attempt to obey the summons. My schoolfellows laughed, but I did not mind that. What could it mean?
My attitude was naturally a source of curiosity to my class, but actually aroused no severe reprimand on the part of the under-mistress whose order I had completely ignored. Finally, Mrs. Eagle, after renewed consultation with Mrs. Stuart, came to me. The fat little creature appeared in a state of great excitement and proceeded to bundle me out of the schoolroom.
Leading me through the corridors and upstairs to the dormitory, she proceeded to undress me with much show of haste. I resigned myself to this treatment with very good grace, but hardly knew if I was awake or dreaming when a servant entered with a parcel containing all the garments I had worn on entering the school, when still a male. I saw the broad-toed serviceable boots in which I had run so fast in other days, excellent, strong and comfortable shoes. Then I saw my trousers, and my broadcloth shirt and woolen vest, my short jacket and cap.
Great Heavens! My own clothes once more! Those I had worn eight months ago! Was I going to wear them again?
Such were the thoughts that coursed through my brain. In reply to all my questionings and doubtings, I found that Mrs. Eagle was helping me to put on these clothesâ€”my clothesâ€”instead of those hated ones I had just taken off. The boots were a little short, as the abominable narrow, high-heeled boots had lengthened my foot. But no matter! The trousers seemed harsh against my legs, which had grown accustomed to silken stockings. But again, what mattered that? What, too, did it matter, if the sleeves of the jacket no longer cover my wrists?
Ah, what joy!
Mrs. Eagle became momentarily more bustling and excited, and her tongue wagged faster and faster. It was â€œdear Jimmy, my darling Jimmy,â€ my own name repeated so frequently that I began once more to recognize it as my very own. There was no fear of my being addressed as â€œJimmy" and forgetting to answer now. But why? Oh, why?
Mrs. Eagle then imprinted loud, smacking kisses first upon one cheek and then on the other, such kisses as our maid had given me long ago when my father was still alive.
At length my dressing was finished. I found the cap uncomfortable, and thought it must have shrunk or else that some paper has been inserted in the lining to make it smaller. But how stupid I was! My head had grown! Great Caesar! I had finished my growing here at Flayskin Academy, and my own dear mother had not seen it! I laughed heartily as I pulled the obstinate cap with both hands and succeeded only in exposing the back of my head when I managed to cover the front. Mrs. Eagle also laughed and remarked:
â€œYoung Jimmy, you are going to be even happier presently. A pleasant surprise is in store for you.â€
But this piece of news had the effect of immediately damping my high spirits. I know the pleasant surprises of Lady Flayskin only too well. They always ended disagreeably.
Mrs. Eagle could make nothing of my sudden change of mien.
â€œAh, no! Not by any means! I can't have you going into the drawing-room with that sad face. Oh! certainly not. It's not to be thought of. Why, you must look happy, very happy!â€
But happiness cannot be produced to order, and I was suspicious of her motives. She seemed more and more distressed, glancing about and imploring me to smile or be of good cheer. Finally, in exasperation, she cried:
â€œWhat shall make you happy, then!â€
I was most interested in her reactions; it seemed most important that I be happy! So, carefully, I replied:
â€œI am unhappy because I had a flogging yesterday, and have not been soothed!â€
Which was untrue, for I had enjoyed such attentions the previous night. But Mrs. Eagle trembled, and glanced about her again, and then reached for my trouser buttons!
â€œVery well!â€ she cried. â€œYou shall have your soothing, if you will only smile!â€
And she reached inside for my flesh and drew it out! So surprised was I that I was not prepared for her, and her distress gathered. Her fingers were strong but rough, and I winced at their hurried touch.
â€œNot so harshly!â€ I snapped to her. â€œI am used to it the other way!â€
Mrs. Eagle looked upon me with such a gaze of anger and horror that I felt surely she would stop. But instead, she dropped to her knees and at once took my cock into her mouth and began to suck upon it quite expertly! In a little time, I had grown to my full size, and her energies became more frenzied; but before I could spend, I drew away. How much more could I get this creature to accept my charge? I took a deep breath and declared:
â€œI want to spend inside you!â€
And instead of rising and boxing my ears, Mrs. Eagle hurriedly turned, bent forward, and lifted her skirts! Her wide, pale bottom was naked; she wore neither stays nor drawers, and her womanly parts were raised and open for me! I gasped and dropped to my own knees, my need growing with my newfound power, and plunged into her, like a ram to his ewe! And she squealed, taking my entire length in one thrust, and then proceeded to grunt like a pig. I grasped the white flesh of her thighs and moved against her with all the frustration and hate I felt for the establishment and the women who ran it. My mind went back and forth, from the corsets and combinations to the daily humiliations and the lessons, from the floggings and the rod and the whips, to the sight of Mr. Gostock spearing Miss Stella, to Miss Virginia in her impossibly tight stays, to endless nights entangled with my fellow students...
â€œAnd this is for the rest of them! I cried, pulling my cock from her warm confines, and then aiming slightly higher. â€œThis is for dressing me as a girl!â€
And I sank into her bottom with the same ease as I entered her proper chamber! Surely, Mrs. Eagle had been taken there many times before! The heat and the firm grip of that channel enveloped me and tore the very blood from my head. I emptied my spunk deep into her body with a wrenching cry, and then fell away, gasping.
I did not see Mrs. Eagle rise, but when she nudged my body, she was again on her feet, her face as flushed as mine was drained. She said, softly for once:
â€œWill you come now? And will you smile!â€
I obliged with a wan smile and fastened my trousers carefully. Then, breathing slowly, I followed her through the halls, taking my time to annoy her even further. I finished by coming to a dead stop near the drawing-room.
Mrs. Eagle, however, hurried me forward and added to my astonishment by neglecting a most important detail of the etiquette of the establishment.
She entered Lady Flayskin's august presence and that lofty person's magnificent drawing-room without previously knocking at the door and waiting for an invitation to enter. She pushed me in front of her and closed the door.
With a great sigh of joy, I found that my dear mother was there! Almost fainting with delight, I rushed into her arms and covered her dear face with kisses. She returned my kisses with interest, and we both of us cried. She hugged me to her breast with almost feverish delight. Then suddenly she held me at arm's length from her and, looking at me earnestly, cried:
â€œGoodness! How pale you are!â€
Lady Flayskin intervened in honeyed tones. â€œIt is very natural, dear madam; a result to be expected from emotion and joy at seeing his mother. You love your mother dearly, don't you, Jimmy?â€
â€œYes! Oh! Yes!â€
I kissed her again and murmured in her ear before removing my mouth:
â€œYou will take me away, won't you? Oh, promise! You will not leave me here?â€
She replied aloud:
â€œCertainly I shall not leave you. I have come to take you home.â€
A second time she held me from her and said, as though talking to herself:
â€œHe had such bonny big cheeks, and now they are hollow. His eyes are burning with fever. You are taller, but you seem more slender then ever! You have been ill, my poor son!â€
Knowing that my present nature was the cause of many painful things, I burst into sobs. Lady Flayskin hastened to anticipate a possible reply on my part.
â€œWhy, madam, you surely do not imagine he has been deprived of anything he could wish for? The cooking is excellent, the food wholesome and abundant. I never let my pupils want for anything. Our dear Jimmy will not tell his mother a story? You have always eaten as much as you liked, haven't you, Jimmy?â€
But covertly I pulled my mother's sleeve and looked at her with imploring eyes.
She understood me. The dear angel! She has always understood what I have said to her in the dumb language of the eyes.
She rose and took a somewhat ceremonious farewell of Lady Flayskin. Meanwhile, I also turned critic but said nothing. I was nonetheless astonished and grieved to find my poor mother looking much older. The corners of her lips drooped and her eyelids were swollen and lined, as though she had cried a great deal. She also had lost her full, plump, pretty cheeks. It was another and a thinner mamma I was looking at.
It seemed to me that she would never come to the end of her somewhat cold, but nonetheless elaborate thanks and compliments. For my part, I should have preferred giving Lady Flayskin a good beating, and I pulled at my mother's sleeve yet again in a frenzied fashion.
She turned and smiled.
â€œNever forget your manners.â€
â€œPrecisely!â€ rejoined the horrid old cat. â€œThat is what we always tell our pupils. Jimmy, you do not kiss me?â€
How much rather would I have strangled her? Or at least had her upon the floor, my cock shafted to the very base in her tight arse? Nevertheless, I managed to kiss her and we left the room. The affectation and ceremony of our leave-taking continued, however, until we reached the front door, where at the bottom of the steps a cab awaited us.
It was a hansom cab. Again I have before my eyes, as on that never-to-be-forgotten day, the honest-looking, stout driver with his red whiskers. Again I see him touching his hat as we appear, when he took his short clay pipe from his mouth.
How delightful it was to be in that hansom, nestled against my mother's heart. It gave me a certain feeling of satisfaction and security, too, to think of our stout good-natured coachman perched up there behind us. Would Lady Flayskin try to take me back? In that case, I thought our cabby would not let her. He would make but a mouthful of her and her whole crew of whipping women and stay-lacers.
What joy it was to breathe the pure air without having to be apprehensive of whalebones and steel busks sticking into one's stomach and stifling one's lungs!
And how delightful to visit again old scenes and think of the happy rambles and merry games of days past!
Such were my thoughts when, though I hardly know why, I burst into sobs and told my mother everything. The corset, the girl's dress, the high heels, the long tight gloves, all the diabolical â€œdisciplineâ€ of glazed black kid, everything was told. Nor did I, the reader may be sure, omit to mention that my name had been â€œAlice.â€ I did not tell her, however, of my nocturnal adventures, nor of the activities of a more sexual nature which occurred.
My mother cried too, but suddenly laughed, and clapping her hands, told me that Mr. Baker had died eight days before and left her his entire fortune. Consequently, we were very rich. Then, for the first time, I noticed that she was in mourning.
Her face became thoughtful. A world of sorrow was reflected in her beautiful eyes, but she cried no more.
I detested even the memory of Mr. Baker, the cruel stepfather who had been the cause of all my troubles, and I felt inclined to shout with joy at the knowledge that he was dead. But my mother must miss him sadly, I thought, so I respected her pensive looks and sat back silently in my corner, always however keeping hold of her hand.
Grown-up people so frequently misinterpret each other's sentiments. I had been a child, perhaps, until that very moment. I was rude, egotistical, selfish, and spiteful. But my months at the hands of Lady Flayskin had matured me, if they had not made a man of me. It was only later that I fully understood the reason of those painful reveries which I had mistaken for sorrow.
My poor dear mother did not mourn in her heart for Mr. Baker, although she wore black clothes. She had suffered more at the hands of that monster than I had myself in my horrid school.
My poor mother also had had to submit to the most cruel tight-lacing, as well as to every one of the other tortures I knew so well. Her neck had been almost dislocated, and a doctor had actually been summoned after an excessive use of the â€œcollar.â€ And my dear pretty mother had been whipped; flogged daily and mercilessly, sometimes by Mr. Baker himself and sometimes by that execrable Betsy in his presence. Any pretext or no pretext, sufficed as a reason for these inflictions.
In the superb Portland Place mansion there was even a special â€œPunishment Room.â€ On my stepfather's death, my mother locked the door of this grim apartment. It was only some years afterwards that I could inspect it.
Nothing had been disturbed; no one had entered the room since it had been locked up. The first object I noticed was a wooden vaulting horse similar to those employed in gymnasiums, except for the addition of a blood-red pad of kid, highly glazed, and of two steel rings on each side of the neck, so to speak, of the apparatus. It was upon this pad that my dear mother was twisted by Mr. Baker and Betsy. Lying on her stomach, her arms were made fast to the rings and any resistance during her whipping was thus rendered impossible. Her skirts were then pinned over her head and the flogging proceeded. Sometimes an immense whip, such as is employed by trainers and others with ungovernable stallions, was used, and sometimes the simple, but exceedingly painful birch rod.
Should the fancy take them, they would â€œspread-eagleâ€ my dear mother up on a stand designed for the purpose. This apparatus appeared particularly diabolical.
There were pulleys, cords, rings, a trapeze, and many other such arrangements and objects. The monster had dazzled my mother's eyes with his wealth, and she had married him, only to be tortured by his passions.
It appears that sometimes he had made her run quite naked from end to end of the â€œPunishment Roomâ€ which was but a corridor. As she ran, the long lash of a whip would pursue her; and since the passage did not permit, owing to its narrowness, of side blows, Mr. Baker would strike vertically, either downwards or upwards. In the case of the latter movement, my mother's thighs and stomach received the most severe punishment.
My poor mother would fly shrieking before the pursuing lash. If she fell, a hurricane of blows descended upon her shoulders, back, and lower parts. In spite of her groans, the unfortunate woman would be compelled to rise to her feet and provide fresh sport for the ruffian.
Mr. Baker would further compel his wife to become, so to speak, a horse, and cut capers as though in a circus, always, of course, to the tune of a long-lashed whip.
It appeared that Mr. Baker, like Lady Flayskin, was a devotee of black glazed kid. Consequently, my mother wore gloves of that material, so tight that she could not close her hands. She also wore the abominable tight-fitting combination of chemise and drawers.
But morally she had to endure even more humiliating persecutions.
Baker would sometimes install Betsy in his wife's place at the table and the latter would take the servant's place as waiting woman. The coarse and vicious drab would heap ridicule upon her and abuse her for clumsiness or any other fancied offence which occurred to them. They would then compel my mother to adopt a pose at once silly and obscene, while before her eyes they kissed and caressed one another in a fashion which can only be described by the one word: shameful. They would then proceed to make cruel and unnatural use of her, causing her to serve them in their most intimate and obscene functions.
My mother was allowed no personal liberty. She was not permitted to communicate with any person outside the house, nor could she go out walking or shopping except on the rare occasions when Baker or Betsy consented to accompany her. She could neither receive nor send letters, except after a censorship so cruel on the part of this villain that she might as well have been entirely cut off from the rest of the world.
During this period, she was permitted to receive my letters occasionally, but as I myself was unable to write independently of the headmistress's supervision, she never learned in that way any of the truth about myself. My letters were dictated, one and all, by astute Lady Flayskin. My mother, however, possessed not only that feminine intuition which so often counts for far more than blind and halting reason; she possessed also in no common degree a passion of maternal love whose pure flame had seemed to be actually fed at the altar of her own sufferings. Thankful, indeed, she was to know, from seeing my writing, that I still lived; but her heart told her that all was not well, that I, too, suffered.
But what could she do? She could, and did, pour out her heart to the Most High and awaited the intervention of that Providence whose ways are mysterious.
Her prayers were not unheeded. We were reunited, rich in the world's possessions and free of our bodies as of our minds.
Mr. Baker's death had been sudden. A confirmed and immoderate drinker of spirits, he had one evening indulged in a certain fiery Scotch whisky to an extent unusual even with him. Under the influence of the alcohol, his savage passions of cruelty and lust were aroused, and he ordered my mother to the Punishment Room.
His unfortunate victim went, well aware from long experience that resistance was worse than useless. Betsy accompanied her and on the staircase dealt her a cruel box on the ears.
My poor mother was then stripped of her clothes by the same coarse and cruel hands and bound to the wooden apparatus covered with glazed red kid. The heavy, unsteady steps of the drunkard then approached from the dining room.
Tottering into the Punishment Room, Baker selected the long-lashed trainer's whip and managed to crack it once or twice, as was his wont, with the purpose of inspiring due preliminary terror in the heart of his victim. Suddenly he stumbled, the whip fell from his hands, and he would have fallen to the ground had not Betsy received him in her arms.
Alcoholic congestion and Neronic excitement had done their work.
Seeing her master without breath or movement, Betsy completely lost her head. Forgetting even to free my mother, who was stretched over the whipping-horse, her petticoats (which had not been removed) over her head and her back parts bare, while her hands were fixed fast in the rings; forgetting the significant humiliating pose of my dear mother, Betsy ran to the house of the nearest doctor, who did not happen to be Baker's usual medical attendant.
Entering the corridor, the first object that met his eye was my mother. He first set her free, then turned to Baker, whom he found to have been dead for twenty minutes.
What can I add?
My mother has no thought of another and third marriage, young, beautiful, and charming though she is. We live together, and she finds my loving companionship sufficient.
As for me, doubtless I shall someday meet the girl whom I shall wish to make the adornment of my hearth. She will love and honor my dear mother who, in turn, will give her good counsel and love her as a daughter.
If it be God's will, I shall have children.
But neither boys nor girls of mine shall ever know the oppression of the corset. Their boots shall be of the comfortable, practical, flat-heeled English type.
Glazed kid in any shape or color shall be ever â€œtabooâ€ in my house.
I hope that no male child of mine will ever be dressed as a girl and called by a girl's name. And I express the same hope in regard to all other boys.
For had not my darling mother delivered me in time, I should forever have lost my honor and my manhood!