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I am not-as I trust shall become clear-a woman given to bawdy talk or mere faithless, wanton ways. I have never indulged in the loose and immoral speech which nowadays cloaks so many novels. I find such productions crude and tasteless, lacking entirely in finesse and given to unlikely descriptions of equally unlikely behaviour by characters who are no more than cardboard people.

Even so, I am not a prude. Prudery is for those who fear the consequences of their own desires, however errant such desires may be. Neither will I countenance hypocrisy. There are always to be found a number of mealy-mouthed and self-inflated persons who would suppress all references to the most satisfying of physical pleasures. It is not my intention to do so here, but neither will I proclaim that they should be widely copied unless such art and sophistication is brought to them as I have been fortunate enough to be able to engender.

For I must make no bones about the fact that the comforts of wealth have provided often enough the wherewithal for many of my amorous luxuries. I call them that since they appertain to such voluptuous aspects of good living as the less well-to-do must mainly do without.

I am told by some that this view is false. All views to some are false. One can do no more or less than hold to one's own. I have known some quite pretty and adorable girls of the working classes. I have known, too, some doughty young males from the same milieu who could be counted upon to dispense with the normal crudities of their behaviour when in the presence of ladies. Removed temporarily from their drab surroundings and mean streets and brought into an atmosphere of luxury, their amorous abilities improved vastly, though ever requiring tuition.

But I must not delay my narrative too long by philosophising and shall commence-with the many secret diary entries I have made throughout my life-beginning when I was seventeen. It was the year 1882-that selfsame year when our dear Queen gave Epping Forest to the nation and the British Fleet bombarded Alexandria. I was proud to note such events in my early years, but as wisdom grew and the world progressed even more, so I devoted my immediate recollections to more personal events.

In the midsummer of that year, I was staying for a long weekend at the country house of one of my uncles. I needed not therefore to be accompanied by a chaperone, for my aunt played that role, or would have done had she been more alert to what was afoot all about her. The dear lady lived in dreamland, however, and this perhaps was all to the good insofar as it concerned my immediate education. The world is made up for the most part of fools and knaves, as the second Duke of Buckingham remarked. He was a writer indeed upon whose pleasantries I would have much cause to ponder in those next few days for it was he who first coined another phrase which was to become commonplace among those who neither knew nor cared about its source: “Ay, now the plot thickens very much upon us.” This-for those whose learning would extend as does my own-occurs in the third act of his play, The Rehearsal.

Among my cousins was one Elaine. Six years my senior, she possessed my own medium height. Her ankles and calves were slender, her thighs well-fleshed as befits a woman. Her development otherwise tended to the “bold,” as we called it, for she more than amply fulfilled her dresses in respect of her breasts and bottom. Her eyes were large and her lips of medium size but slumbrous-a delicious peach of a mouth to kiss, as I was to discover. Infinitely more knowing then than I, she was to teach me much.

I should say that in the grander houses of the time, two distinct types of weekend parties were held. The most general was that at which up to sixty or even seventy people might be invited-invariably during the shooting season. On the whole I found these boring. There were too many people to encounter about the house at odd hours-and sometimes to embarrass one.

The other type of party was arranged only in more knowing circles. The guests were fewer and more selectively chosen. Discretion was total, for all knew that the merest buzz of scandal beyond the porticos of the mansion would eventually ruin other such occasions. Within this understanding, certain delicious licence was permitted and orgies were not unknown. I am speaking of gatherings, of course, of no more than a score of guests, including the host and hostess.

Perhaps I should say also that these were country gentry whose morals had altered not a wit from those of their immediate forebears. They preserved their traditions. If a young woman was to be “trodden,” it was accepted that she should be. She was expected to return the virile salute of the lusty penis with the same passion that it was accorded her. Many a fair bottom have I seen wriggling for the first time on a manly piston while murmurs of encouragement spurred its flushed possessor on.

Often if a girl were shy, she would be coaxed and fondled by several of the ladies into receiving her injection. Flushed cheeks and snowy breasts were exposed- an apparently burning anguish showing in the eyes as her skirts were raised-all such were salt to the occasion. Girls too bold in their ways provided little sport for an expectant assembly, and such as might have been were given sufficient hints in private to bring them to struggle and sob with great realism while they were laid open-legged upon a dining room table or a waiting divan, there to receive their first dosage of ardent sperm.

But I digress-a habit I must in these early stages of my memoirs avoid. It is of a late hour that I speak and I would not have wandered from my room on that Saturday night, so far past midnight, had the servant not forgotten to fill my bedside carafe of water.

Wine had made me thirsty. Believing all to be asleep, I opened my door quietly, padded in my nightdress along the corridors and began to descend the wide, curving staircase. At mid-point, however, I stopped. There was a light below. It shone from the dining room where the door stood half open. I heard voices-a faint laugh.

“No, Harold-not here!” I heard, and recognised the voice immediately. It was that of Mrs. Witherington-Carey whose husband had been newly summoned to his regiment. Of less than fully-matured years, she was about thirty-seven, as I fancied-a brunette of some distinct charm.

Crouching down behind the railings of the bannisters then, I saw her. There was it seemed a playful chase going on. A hand seized her arm as she made apparently to flee. Her long dark hair appeared already tousled. There then came into my view the owner of that hand. It was my uncle. His evening jacket, tie and collar had been cast off and his braces dangled from his waist. In a moment, with no more pretence of flight, his victim was seized and thrust back over the table.

“Harold, no-please!” she begged, though I noticed that in so pleading her hands gripped his arms in such a manner that she appeared not to be thrusting away.

“Sweet devil, it has been too long,” he replied. Bending over her so that her feet skittered on the carpet, her shoulders laid well back upon the polished surface of the table, he accorded her a kiss of such passion that I wondered in my naivety at their capacity for taking a breath, so long did their lips merge. Then, rising, he drew her up with him.

“As before, Helen-you must!”

In my comparative innocence, I did not then note the state of his breeches which in fact were thrust out alarmingly by the most monstrous protrusion.

“You hurt me!” came the lady's response, though I divined the words to be an invitation rather than a refusal, so coyly were they spoken. So also, apparently, thought my uncle for without further ado he spun her about and groped up her skirt at the same time.

I could scarcely believe my eyes. In every fleeting second I feared discovery by another guest wandering from their room, or worse the appearance of my aunt or one of my cousins. Fate was kind to me, however, for there came no interruption to the proceedings. Despite her fiercely protesting whispers, Helen's skirts were raised up high.