Authors: A. Cantab
Without in any way disclosing my identity—which, indeed, would be of no special interest to the reader—I may say that I occupy a somewhat important position in our Diplomatic Service, and it was in this capacity that I had to visit Paris in the month of October 19—.
I have often had occasion to visit Paris and it is always with the greatest pleasure that I return to this delightful city where every man can satisfy his tastes and desires whatever they may be. But on this occasion, more than ever before, chance, that great disposer of events, was to be on my side and had in store for me an adventure of the most delightful description.
I had had a pleasant run down to Folkestone and had gone on board one of those excellent boats which cross to Boulogne in something under two hours. It was blowing decidedly hard and the boat was rolling heavily but I did not mind this for I am a good sailer and I thought to myself that I should be able to enjoy in comparative solitude that delightful feeling which results from a contemplation of the immensity of the ocean and of our own littleness as well as the wild beauty of a troubled sea.
And, as a matter of fact, the deck soon became deserted and I was left alone, but for the presence of a young girl who was standing at the rail not far from me. From time to time my looks wandered from the white-crested waves and rested upon the charming figure that was before me, and finally I abandoned all contemplation of the infinite and all poetical and philosophical meditation and became wholly absorbed in my pretty travelling companion. For she was indeed lovely and the mobile and intellectual features of her charming face seemed to denote a very agreeable character.
For a long time I admired her from a distance, but at last, by no means satisfied with this, I decided to try to make her acquaintance, and for this purpose I gradually approached her. At first she did not seem to notice me. Wearing over her dress a light waterproof which the strong wind wrapped closely round her body, she was leaning on her elbows on the rail; one hand was placed under her chin and the other held the brim of her hat which otherwise would have stood a good chance of being carried away into the sea. She seemed to me to be about sixteen years old, but at the same time she was remarkably well made for a girl of that age. My eyes devoured the small and supple outline of her waist and the fine development of her behind which, placed as she was, she seemed to be offering to some bold caress, unless perchance it might be to a still more delightful punishment...
On her feet she wore a charming pair of high-heeled brown shoes which set off to the best advantage the smallness and daintiness of her extremities.
I came close up to her without her making the slightest movement or even looking in my direction, and I stood for a few moments without saying a word, taking a subtle and intimate pleasure in examining every detail of her beauty, her splendid thick pigtail of dark silky hair, the fine arch of her ears, the whiteness of her neck, the delicacy of her eyebrows, what I could see of her splendid dark eyes, the aristocratic smallness of her nose and its mobile nostrils, the softness of her rosy little mouth and the animation of her healthy complexion.
Then suddenly I made up my mind.
'We are in for rough crossing!' I said. She turned her little head slowly towards me and for a moment examined me in silence. And now, seen full face, I found her even more beautiful and more attractive than she had seemed before when I had only been able to obtain a side view.
Apparently her examination of me was favourable, for a slight smile disclosed the prettiest little teeth that it is possible to imagine and she answered, 'Do you think so? I don't mind if we are!' This paradoxical answer was quite in keeping with her appearance.
'I congratulate you,' I said. 'I see that you are a true English girl, and that a rough sea has no terrors for you!'
'Oh,' said she quickly, 'I'm not afraid of anything; and as for the sea, I love it. Of all amusements I like yachting best.' I could not help laughing a little. Evidently of all the amusements that she was acquainted with yachting might be her favourite one, but a day would come, and perhaps was not far off, when she would know others: and then, yachting...
However, I considered that it was impossible to continue the conversation without having gained her confidence, and to effect this my best plan was to introduce myself.
You must excuse me,' I said, 'for having taken the liberty of speaking to you, but our presence on the deck here, when everybody else has taken refuge below, seems to indicate that we are intended to know one another... and, I hope, to appreciate one another. My name is Jack W—, and I am attached to the Foreign Office.'
She gave me a charming little bow, and, at once, by the smile in her eyes, I could see that I had attained my object.
'And my name,' said she, 'is Evelyn H—, and I am on my way to school. I am travelling alone as far as Boulogne but there a French governess will meet me and take me on to Paris.'
Let me here state that I cannot mention her surname nor that of any of the other characters who will appear in this story, which is an absolutely true one in every particular, for some of the characters are well known in society and might be known to some of my readers.
'Oh really?' I exclaimed. "You are on your way to Paris? I am going there too. What bad luck that we can't travel all the way together. But at any rate we can keep one another company till we reach Boulogne. Shall we sit down together in that shelter: we shall be fairly out of the wind there?'
There was a convenient seat close by which we proceeded to occupy. My blood was already beginning to course more freely through my veins.
'Where are you going to in Paris?'
'To Mme X— at Neuilly. That's where I am at school.'
'I know the school well,' said I. 'It is certainly the most fashionable one in all Paris. I suppose there are a large number of girls there?'
'No, not more than sixty.'
You are one of the senior girls?'
'No, not yet!' said she, uttering a sigh. 'I wish I were, but I shall have to wait till next year for that.'
'And why are you so anxious to be one of the senior girls.'
She gave me a rapid glance and smiled.
'Because,' said she, 'the senior girls know things that we don't know...'
'What sort of things?'
'Oh, all sorts of things. And they are very proud of their superior knowledge, let me tell you. They say that we are too young to join their society.'
'And what is this society?'
'It's a secret society. They call it, I don't know why, the Lesbian Society. But after all what does it matter: our time will come!' I was more and more delighted with Evelyn's candour and with the decidedly interesting turn which our conversation had taken. 'Oh, yes. I have a special friend there who is more than a sister to me. We have no secrets from one another. Her name is Nora A— and I love the walks we have together.'
'You go into Paris sometimes, I suppose?'
'Yes, but of course there is always someone with us to chaperon us.'
'Have you ever been to the Louvre?'
'Ah, yes! What beautiful pictures, and other things too, are to be found there.'
'The statues for instance; you have seen them? Now tell me, were you not rather surprised when you saw the statues of the men without the fig leaves they are always represented with in our galleries?'
Evelyn blushed slightly and smiled. I saw her eyes sparkle but she covered them with her long lashes.
'At first I was,' she said. 'And of course I noticed the difference that mere is between..."
She stopped and nervously began to tap her knees.
'Between what?' I said. 'Between a man and a woman?'
'The statues,' I continued, 'do not give you a very exact idea of the difference. I have often said to myself, when I have watched a bevy of our charming schoolgirls examining the statues, that this difference would be much more pronounced if the statues were real men, and if these men knew that they were the objects of the admiration of a number of pretty girls!'
Evelyn raised her great eyes to mine filled with a kind of mute interrogation.
'I don't understand what you mean?' said she after a short pause.
I hesitated for a moment but only for a moment Already I was plunging headlong into this delightful adventure, the memory of which, in its minutest details, will never leave me.
'You don't understand?' I resumed, moving a little closer to her, so that now our forms were actually in contact, and taking her little hand which she abandoned to me with a slight tremble of emotion. 'I will explain it to you. It's quite simple and these are things that a girl must know sometime or other; and, upon my word, in my opinion the sooner thy know them the better.' Her little hand seemed fairly to burn mine and her lovely eyes, full of curiosity, gazed into mine, and I felt that already a powerful tie existed between us. How completely I had forgotten the magnificent surroundings of sky and sea!
"You must have noticed that the statues of the men,' I observed, 'are not like those of the women?'
'Oh, yes, of course,' said she and her colour deepened. 'The forms are different."
'Yes, the breasts of the women are much more developed, their waists are smaller, their hips are broader and fuller, the seat is much longer and plumper, and the thighs are bigger and rounder. But there is something else too—! You know what I mean?'
'Yes,' she murmured.
A troubled look seemed to fill her eyes.
'And this something else,' I continued, 'did you notice how it is made?'
'I... yes... I think I noticed it...'
'It is like a great fruit, as large as a peach, with a double kernel, isn't it? And hanging down over is a kind of appendage like a rolled-up loaf of flesh, which seems to wish to hide the fruit..."
'Oh, yes, it's just like that!'
'That is the way sculptors represent what is called "the male organ". But as a matter of fact it is not really made like that. This object which you have seen hanging down and lifeless is, in reality, the most sensitive, the most lively and the most changeable thing that it is possible to imagine. It is the most wonderful thing that exists and also the most precious, for it is capable of giving life and the most delightful pleasure.'
Evelyn was evidently much excited but her eyes avoided mine and she murmured, 'I think I understand... It is with that... that babies are made?'
'Then,' she continued, almost in a whisper, 'each time that... that a man makes use of that thing is... is a baby made?'
The laugh which this innocent question provoked in me completed Evelyn's confusion. She hid her lovely face, now blushing crimson, in her hands.
I whispered in her ear. 'Forgive me for laughing, but your innocence is perfectly charming. But how is it that you know so little about such things? Have your companions at school never told you about anything?'