The Yellow Room

by anon

Chapter Three - Mystery

"My passions, however, are very strong; but my Soul and Body are hostile sisters, and the unhappy pair, like every imaginable couple, lawful or unlawful, live in a perpetual state of war." MADAMOISELLE DE MAUPIN

Alice's slumbers were profound. For four or five hours she continued in the deepest sleep; but as consciousness gradually returned to her she dreamt and dreamt, as she had never done before, of love. Her innocence was gone, and she would awake an experienced girl. Her dreams were of the softest pleasures; they were prompted by that new and wonderful sensation, under the influence of which she still was, which had been roused once and for all while she lay ignominiously extended under her Uncle's eye and received the cruel lashes of the birch upon the most secret and divine organ of her exquisite body. They, it is true, profaned the Temple; but they summoned to life the Divinity there enshrined. Her sexual instincts were aroused, she became conscious of her femininity. She felt the influence of Man, and a longing and insatiable desire to possess him. She now knew she was beautiful, and in her dreams she pictured herself with soft delight -- her velvety skin, her soft, plump, round arms; her throbbing bosom, and the ravishing sinuosities of her back -- as being embraced by her Uncle, felt his weight on the front of her thighs, she imagined his tongue again between her lips. Her body glowed; her charms ripened; her mind, casting away the prudish veils with which it had so long been encumbered, already contemplated life in another and rosier light, and prepared her to bloom into that lovely and beautiful woman she was so become.

Innocence! (so called) and Virginity! In you we do not believe. Flowers, not of virtue, but of a dunghill; the conceptions and impure fruit of Shame, begotten upon Superstition -- this is the pedigree we give to you. Ye are fostered by those who fatten upon the fears of the ignorant and weak-minded. Poor human creature, trembling upon the threshold of nature's holiest of holies; terror-stricken at the revelation of her most tremendous mystery about to be made you; you are swooped upon by the priest and called upon to deny your own nature! Your young and budding desires are described to you as sin, such as will condemn you hereafter to endless flame! Impurity is imputed to the most natural and the chastest passion which can possess the soul! And, outraged by the obscene imputation, it recoils in horror upon itself; but if initiated, if forearmed with knowledge, it crushes and stamps the foul tempter under foot, exclaiming: "Monster! the obscenity is in thee. Avaunt!"

Yes; we would have it enacted that all young creatures who had not by one and twenty years of age become women should be made so by compulsory union with a lover; and as the measure could not have a retrospective effect, all old maids -- incomplete human creatures, mentally and physically, that they are -- should be given three months and the services gratuitously of the most energetic advertising agency in the matrimonial market, and if they did not within that period form some true union and become the fulfilment and completement of some man (for no man is perfect until he includes woman), and, moreover, produce to the court incontestable proofs of the destruction of their maidenhead, that they should perish ignominiously as unnatural deformities. And so infatuated are many of these old deformities that we believe some would perish, although no doubt most would prefer forcible violation; and therefore those who, at the end of the three months, failed to produce the required evidence in court should be given one more chance. They should be placed in charge of a robust curate or other officer of the court, and this charge should be called marriage; the union to endure during the joint lives of the parties; and if at the end of the year the husband swore that all his efforts to storm his old virgin"s citadel had failed, the marriage should be declared null; the old woman transfixed by the usher with a weapon to be duly provided for the purpose, and fitted to carry it out, and then strangled; and the curate or other officer provided forthwith with another beauty.

You will say this marriage of yours is a punishment; and we reply, perhaps marriage always is, but in this case that it ought to be so, as the men concerned -- all of them -- should be those, and those only, who have been indicted and convicted before a court composed of young women, of not having found and enjoyed a mistress before the completion of their twenty-fifth year. We apprehend that the class would not be very numerous, and "marriage" would therefore receive a salutary limitation.

But listen! Alice is rubbing her eyes and puzzling herself with reasons why she should be so possessed by the idea of, and longing for, her Uncle, who had used her so cruelly. His being somehow or other overshadows her, and she seems to long to be absorbed in it. The strictest analysis of her craving only reduced it as far as a wish that he should take her in his arms and do with her what he wished -- what that would be she knew not, but instinctively felt it would be something tremendous, which would entirely alter her whole subjective existence. He had seen her naked; he had reduced her, naked, to absolute submission to his will; he had inflicted upon her the cruellest pain; and the direct medium of the infliction of this pain had been the most secret portion of her body. Yet she delighted in the notion that he had seen her (with the exception solely of her stockings) completely nude; she enjoyed the idea that his hand had inflicted the stripes of which she still felt the effects; her breath came more quickly and she trembled with joy when she called to mind that it was to him she had been compelled to display, with the greatest possible humiliation to her, the most intimate recesses of her person and her most jealously concealed charms without any reserve whatsoever.

She was much puzzled, and her perplexity was accentuated as she moved and felt how tender and how sore her bottom still was.

"Shall I ever be able to sit down again?" she wondered.

Then she recollected the catastrophe that had taken place the moment before she had swooned in that inexplicable ecstasy, and her cheeks flushed and grew hot with shame. And they flushed again and grew still hotter the second time when she recollected that she had to write out fifty times, "I pee'd like a mare before my Uncle."

What a little beast she was, and how well she deserved flogging! How just and proper it was that for the next fortnight she should be allowed to relieve herself but twice in the twenty-four hours. The inconvenience would be a very proper lesson for so naughty a girl as she was.

In the midst of these reflections, in came Maud with some egg-flip.

"I would not let them disturb you for luncheon, dear, as I am sure Uncle would wish you to be fresh this evening; and, besides, you must have needed the rest dreadfully. How did you like your whipping?"

"Oh, Maud, it was dreadful! How cruelly severe Uncle is."

"I suppose it has made you hate him?"

"No; that is the strangest thing about it. Last night I thought my hatred of him could not be sufficiently intense but I now feel that I am completely mastered by him, and find that I am glad that it is so!"

"Dear Alice, that was my own experience."

"Has he whipped you, Maud?"

"Yes, dear; and sometimes I purposely do something in order to get myself flogged."

"How curious! When did he whip you first?"

"Oh, long ago. I must give you a full account of it another time. Did you faint with pain?"

"No. I seemed in heaven."

"You do not seem very much exhausted; but you had better eat this cake and egg-flip -- it is better for you than tea -- and let me look at that poor bottom and see what can be done for it."

So Maud sat down upon the bed, and Alice, to her own astonishment, now nothing loathe, lay on her face while Maud removed all the bedclothes from her waist downwards, and, as they chatted, gently anointed her bottom with Vinolia cream, and gave her many a pleasant sensation by the adroit use she made of her hands and fingers.

Alice explained that she now felt a much more experienced girl, and much surprised at a former coyness which she thought must have appeared extremely ridiculous. She wondered that anyone could be prudish.

"Yes," said Maud, "it is want of education" -- smiling-- "and as for modesty, I verily believe innocent girls are only just one little bit less nasty than the very British old maid herself." ended Maud, with a delicious laugh. "And you, Alice," she went on, "how absurd you were when first you came, blushing at every second word, buttoning your dress up to your throat, wearing it on the ground, and almost screaming at the mere mention of an snide."

"Oh, Maud, you do not know what I went through in the yellow room. When Uncle turned up my petticoats and whipped me, and made me take off my own drawers before him -- Oh! Oh! Oh! The mere thought of it is fearful -- and then when he put me across his knee and put his finger and thumb."

"Where?" asked Maud.

"Oh, one in front and the other behind" -- hiding her face with her hands.

"Like that?" said Maud.

"Yes. Just like that. Oh, Maud! Oh, how nice! Well, dear, the wonder is that I am alive."

"The sweetest has to come yet, Alice dear. You said you were glad that Uncle had mastered you. Do you not long for him?"

"Oh, Maud, I cannot tell you how I do. In such a strange way. I feel could devour him!"

"Well, dear, all in good time. At any rate, you will not wish to conceal your charms now."

"Oh, no. I take quite a healthy delight in displaying them. I think a long dress quite immodest, because it must be a sign of a mind itching with nasty thoughts. Unless, indeed," she continued, after a moment's thoughtfulness, "it is because the natural growth has been checked."

"Oh, Alice, I am so glad that you are such a sensible girl. What splendid times we shall have together. I was never before so fully convinced bow right Uncle is in his opinion that there is nothing like a sound flogging for a girl. But although we have such a good opinion of ourselves, there are heaps of people who would condemn us with faint praise and say we were only engagingly immoral. Uncle told me once it was because we were free and emancipated and capable of freely enjoying pleasure which the silly geese -- although it is such a natural pleasure -- think they are bound to deny themselves. There, Alice dear," ceasing her rubbing, which she had so caressingly done; "is the poor bottom better?"

"Yes, thank you, Maud dear, ever so much. I feel so surprised at being able to lie so unconcernedly before you."

"You see, Alice, you are emancipated -- almost. Now you had better have a warm bath, and mind that you use the soap scented with attar of roses. Make a good lather, and bathe yourself all over with it. And then, my dear, you are to put on a low chemise of black silk trimmed with yellow, a yellow corset, black silk petticoats, yellow stockings sad shoes, and a net dress with great big yellow spots all over it. It won't come below your knees, dear," said Maud, significantly, at which Alice gave a joyous laugh. "In your bosom you are to place some yellow roses which the gardener has been ordered to bring in on purpose for you. "And," went on Maud, interrupting Alice, "you are to have your hair twisted up in one great coil and fastened with this arrow, which, you see, is studded with cairngorms, and round your throat," opening a casket on the dressing table, "you are to put this necklace" (a magnificent one of cairngorms set in brilliants). "By the bye, you are to tie your stockings with black, not yellow garters, and mind that the first petticoat you put on is that which is lined with yellow silk. Now mind, Alice, and do not make a mistake."

"Oh! how lovely!" cried Alice. "How good you are to me, you dear Maud, to take such an interest in me. I shall be dressed all in black and yellow. Why? I wonder."

"Because," mockingly answered Maud, "black and yellow are the devil"s colours, and you have his beauty."

"Now, Maud, you are laughing at me. I wonder what you will wear?"

"Oh, something not so striking, dear. You see, it is your turn tonight. You are to be the heroine of tonight. And before I go to dress, I must say goodbye to you, Alice, for I shall not have another opportunity of doing so during the evening, and tomorrow I shall not see you a girl again."

"What on earth do you mean, Maud?" asked Alice, experiencing an unaccountable sensation of which she did not understand the significance. "You are not going away, surely?" in alarm.

"Oh, no, you dear goose," replied Maud. "I only meant that I should not see you a girl tomorrow because in all probability you will then be a woman," and the room rang with the musical and merry peal of laughter Maud gave.

"You speak in riddles, dear. I wish you would explain, and not tease me so."

"Not I," said Maud "Write to Miss Ada Ballin, of the Ladies" Pictorial, duly enclosing a coupon, and she will tell you the difference between a girl and a woman; or, by the bye, as it is not the sort of matter the editor (who ought to be circumcised) would allow an explanation of publicly, you had better send her a fee for a private reply; or, better still," she went on maliciously "ask her for the address of a medical man competent to set forth the mystery personally to you, and," said Maud, in shrieks of laughter at her own wit, "Miss Ada Ballin will certainly send it, if you enclose a stamped, addressed envelope so that it may be sent you privately, as it would be a violation of professional etiquette to publish it; and misses are said to hate violation of every sort. Come! Come! Alice," seeing that Alice began to pout, thinking that Maud was laughing at her, "do not be offended at my nonsense. You will know all about it by tomorrow yourself. Dear me, there's the dressing bell. Only an hour to dinner. Whoever would have thought it was so late?"

"Why not stop and dress here?"

"No, not tonight, dear. One word more, Alice. I heard that you are, for the next fortnight, only to go somewhere twice every day. Now, dear, take my advice and do it as late as you can after dinner, and in the morning after you have left the yellow room, if you have to go there. And I know you have to tomorrow."

"Yes, I have, but I do not dread it so much. But I am not going to be birched, am I?"

"No, dear. You are going to have a dozen on the trapeze, which is in some respects worse. I can't stop to explain though, because if I do, I shall be late, and then I should be birched."

"Oh, Maud! Very well dear, I will take your advice, with thanks."

"I am sure you will find it good. Here's Janet. I must run off."

"What? Miss Maud in here after the bell has rung? Get off to your room, miss, or ye'll have the tawse, and nae doot aboot it."

Then the old Scotch maid, without ado, stripped Alice stark naked and conducted her to her bath. Though she treated her like an infant, and gave her a pinch and a smack or two on the buttocks if she considered Alice was slow in obeying her directions, yet she washed and dressed her with tenderness and care, mingled with a certain amount of reverence for the girl's absolute loveliness.

"She's a bonnie bit lassie anyhow; but, goodness guide us, what a lashing she has had about her poor body."

She would not, however, allow any nonsense on Alice's part. The yellow corset was laced as she thought proper. Alice's protests were unheeded, and her breasts were placed in what she still considered unnecessary prominence. The roses were placed between them. The magnificent hair, done up in one great coil, was rolled upon the top of her shapely little head and fixed with the arrow, which sparkled with the brilliants in the setting of the great cairngorms. At last her toilette was complete, and, bewilderingly and bewitchingly beautiful, exciting not only her rugged Scotch attendant's admiration (who exclaimed, "It was not work thrown away to deck so bonnie a bairn as herself) but her own, she descended to the drawing-room with that gently undulating motion which adds so greatly to the fascinations even of those who may otherwise possess charms of the highest degree.

In the drawing-room she found Maud and Sir Edward; to her surprise, there was no one else. But Sir Edward was dressed fin de siècle, and was gay with a yellow rose in his buttonhole. And Alice blushed with gratification when she noticed, as she did the instant she saw it, that it was precisely the same kind of rose as those in her bosom and the single one in her hair. Maud looked demurely lovely, and, though dressed in the height of fashion, had somehow good-naturedly managed to efface herself so that she might not interfere with Alice's triumph.

Then they went to dinner, Alice, again to her surprise, on her Uncle's arm and at the head of the table.

"Maud has abdicated in your favour tonight, my dear, although, it is true, it is not your week. But she has only surrendered the glories to you, so do not be disturbed about the responsibilities," her Uncle added, kindly, noticing a slightly anxious expression appear.

The table groaned with summer fruits in chased gold dishes, and was decorated entirely with white roses. Never did soup taste more delicious or were its odours and flavours more appreciated; never did the chicken of the ocean, the twisted whiting or the lordly salmon or the saintly sole meet, or were they better qualified to meet, with heartier approval; never was the wine in better order -- although Alice thought the Chablis (La Moutonne) a little too heavy. The champagne, iced to a nicety by the portly butler, was not on this occasion Dry Monopole, but a sweeter wine, which pleased Alice more. It soon added cordiality to a gay and merry scene.

Sir Edward sent his compliments to the delighted chef upon the production by him of a work of art which had occupied that artist ever since he had received the necessary hint from Maud. It reminded her, said Alice, "of nothing so much as of a wedding cake", at which Maud covertly smiled. It was a representation in confectionery of Venus, her cupids, her doves and her triumphs. The figure reminded Alice for a moment of her own. It was not until afterwards she discovered that in a panel of her bedroom was fixed a secret camera, and that while the night before she had stood for but a minute naked before her glass, Sir Edward had found time to take an instantaneous photograph of her, and that it was this photograph which, shown to the enraptured chef by Maud, had proved his inspiration. Sir Edward was enraptured, too, as he gazed, and the message for his cook was delivered with such warmth to his own valet that that functionary, immovable although he appeared, was quite startled in reality. And his description of his Master's earnestness pleased the genius of the kitchen quite as much as the jewel which Sir Edward had taken off his own finger and sent with the message. Monsieur Philippe felt that the ambition of a lifetime was to some extent attained, and thanked his gods that he possessed a Master who could appreciate the efforts of genius.

After dinner was served that rare growth of Burgundy, Romance Conti, than which no Clos Vougeot or Chambertin or any other growth of the Côte d'Or is more delicious. Château Laffite, Chateau La-Rose, Chateau Margaux suggest, they do not equal it. And they are clarets. It is a wine which fills the veins with an elixir of life, and so Alice thought it. Why she was made so much of; why she was so petted, she could not understand. Was that courteous and gallant cavalier, opposite her at the other end of the table, not more like a lover in his addresses than her guardian, that cruel and relentless Uncle who had flogged her with such merciless severity in the morning, and who was, she recollected with wonder, again to punish her on the morrow? And then she called to mind herself. Was the laughing girl, full of jokes and mirth, the beauty decked out in black and yellow, displaying with such artless coquetry her many charms, and giving herself in her high spirits so many winning aim, and feeling so much at ease, although she had no drawers on, as Maud and her Uncle knew, and although her dress only barely came down to her knees, at all of which she was now rather more pleased than otherwise -- the same Alice she had formerly known, dressed in a high-fitting, tight, dowdy brown garment, and expiring with shame at the sight of half an inch of leg? She laughed with joy to feel that she was becoming free from such ridiculous notions, and rejoiced at the growing sense of liberty to enjoy the possession of her charms, and to employ the power they gave her to the uttermost.

After dinner they went to a room upstairs, panelled with rose-coloured silk and hung with water-colours.

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