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Those of my readers who peruse the following pages and expect to find a pretty tale of surpassing interest, embellished with all the spice which fiction can suggest and a clever pen supply, will be egregiously mistaken, and had better close the volume at once. I am a plain matter-of-fact man, and relate only that which is strictly true, so that no matter how singular some of my statements may appear to those who have never passed through a similar experience, the avouchment that it is a compendium of pure fact may serve to increase the zest with which I hope it may be read.
I was born some fifty years ago in the little town of H-, about seven miles from the sea, and was educated at the grammar school, an old foundation institute, almost as old as the town itself.
Up to the age of sixteen I had remained in perfect ignorance of all those little matters which careful parents are so anxious to conceal from their children; nor, indeed, should I then have had my mind enlarged had it not been for the playful instincts of my mother's housemaid, Emma, a strapping but comely wench of nineteen, who, confined to the house all the week and only allowed out for a few hours on Sunday, could find no vent for those passionate impulses which a well-fed, full- blooded girl of her years is bound to be subject to occasionally, and more especially after the menstrual period.
It was, I remember well, at one of these times that I was called early by my mother one morning and told to go and wake Emma up, as she had overslept herself, and the impression produced upon me as barefooted and in my nightshirt I stepped into the girl's room and caught her changing the linen bandage she had been wearing round her fanny was electrical.
'Good gracious, Emma,' I said, 'what is the matter? You will bleed to death.' And in my anxiety to be of assistance, I tried to get hold of the rag where the dark crimson flood had saturated it worst.
In my haste my finger slipped in, rag and all, and my alarm was so great that had it not been for Emma laughing I believe I should have rushed downstairs and awakened the whole house.
'Don't you be a little fool, Master Jimmy,' said Emma, 'but come up tonight when your father and mother are both gone to bed, and I'll show you how it all occurred. I see you're quite ready to take a lesson,' she added, grinning, for my natural instinct had supervened on my first panic, and my nightshirt was standing out as though a good old-fashioned tent pole were underneath.
I had been frequently chafed at school about the size of my penis, which was unnaturally large for a boy of my years, but I have since found that it was an hereditary gift in our family, my father and younger brothers all boasting instruments of enormous build.
I turned reluctantly to leave the bedroom, but found it impossible to analyse my feelings, which were tumultuous and strange.
I had caught sight of a little bush of hair on the bottom of Emma's belly, and it perplexed me exceedingly.
Impelled by an impulse I could not then comprehend, but which is understandable enough now, I threw myself into Emma's arms and kissed her with fond ardour, my hands resting on two milk-white globes which peeped above the edge of her chemise. Just then I heard my mother's voice - 'James, what are you doing up there?'
'Nothing, mamma; I was only waking Emma up.' And I came downstairs hurriedly, with my boy's brain on fire and longing for the night, which might, I thought, make plain to me all this mystery.
That day at school appeared a dream and the time hung heavily; I went mechanically through my lessons, but seemed dazed and thoughtful; indeed so much so that I was the subject of general remark.
One of the boys, Thompson, the dull boy of the class, who was nearly seventeen, came to me after school was over and enquired what was the matter.
I suddenly resolved to ask Thompson; he was my senior and might know. 'Can you tell me,' I said, 'the difference between a boy and a girl?'
This was too much for Thompson, who began to split with uncontrollable laughter.
'Good God, Clinton,' he said (he swore horribly), 'what a question. But I forgot you have only one sister, and she's in long clothes.'
'Well,' I replied, 'but what has that to do with it?'
'Why, everything,' said Thompson, 'if you'd been brought up among girls you'd have seen all they've got, and then you'd be as wise as other boys. Look here,' suddenly stopping and taking out a piece of slate pencil, 'you see this?' And he drew a very good imitation of a man's prick upon his slate. 'Do you know what that is?'
'Of course I do,' I said, 'haven't I got one!'
'I hope so,' replied Thompson with a smartness I hadn't up to that time thought him to possess.
'Well, now look at this.' And he drew what appeared to me at the time to be a lengthy slit. 'Do you know what that is?'
After what I had seen in the morning I could form a shrewd guess, but I feigned complete ignorance to draw Thompson out.
'Why, that's a woman's cunt, you simpleton,' observed my school-mate, 'and if you ever have a chance of getting hold of one, grab it, my boy, and don't be long before you fill it with what God Almighty has given you,' and he ran away and left me.
I was more astonished than ever. I had lived sixteen years in the world and had learned more since six o'clock that morning than in all the preceding time.
The reader may be assured that, although I had to go to bed tolerably early, I kept awake until I heard my father and mother safely in their room.
My mother always made it a special point to come and see that I had not thrown the covers off, as I was a restless sleeper, and on this occasion I impatiently awaited the usual scrutiny.
After carefully tucking me in I watched her final departure with beating heart, and heard her say to my father as the door closed - 'He was covered tonight; last evening he was a perfect sight, his prick standing up as stiff and straight as yours ever did - and such a size, too: I can't imagine where my boys get them from. You are no pigmy, dear, it is true, but I'm sure my brothers as boys were - 'And I lost the rest of the sentence as the door closed.
Now, I thought, is about the right moment, and I slid softly out of bed and across the landing to the staircase which was to lead me to heaven.
How often since then have I likened that happy staircase to the ladder which Jacob dreamed of. I've always considered that dream an allegory: Jacob's angels must have worn petticoats or some Eastern equivalent, and the Patriarch doubtless moistened the sands of Bethel thinking about it in his sleep.