Written and illustrated by Honoria Tox
The moon flickers like a gaslight behind the torn, torrid clouds as I watch out the upper window, straining my ears for the sound of horse-hooves. The earth falls away from my home and down to the river, only one thin horse-trail separating its wildness from mine; and the darkness courses above us.
I sigh at the silence, leaving the window to move about the room: first to the stack of thick azure paper that sits on my work-bench. I cut the paper into cottony slices with my knife in strong, swooping gestures, like a factory-woman tossing the shuttle-cock back and forth across a loom. I fold the paper with quick, skilled strokes, my dainty fingers darting them into points and curves. Then I fit them with their mechanisms, small gears and springs thrust into their wings, and set them free: a hundred tiny blue-birds, my automata, winding their way through the air and into the night, flapping all their pretty wings against the moonlight as they go.
I lean again against the window-frame, weary with my waiting, and watch the warm, caramel-colored light flowing around me and out into the river. Turning, I glance in the mirror to evaluate myself. My thick dark hair is piled atop my head like a ball of silk thread caught on thorn-boughs; long strands of tiny blue pearls drip from my ears onto my breast, which is bursting itself under the force of my impossibly tight corset. A cascade of cream-colored lace skirts overlap and struggle their way all the way down to my ankles, while my small, soft feet chill, bare against the floor. Gently lifting the lid of my letter-box, I pull out the letter I received from him last night, as though removing the host for sacrament. The ink-lines are thick and urgent, slanted like a race-horse, without time wasted on the frivolous loops and flourishes so often used by my suitors.
“Camilla,” he writes; for that is my name, “How often I have thought of you, when you knew it not, and of how I might possess you, my black country Rose. You must know who I am from the news that travels along these dirt veins — but shall I tell you more? How often I have hid myself nearest your home, first out of desperation — for there is a dear little cave, as you might know, within the river’s walls — and then out of preference, for the sight of you. At first I observed you, my idol! my goddess!, creating those objects of the most intricate and artistic nature in your hands, and was filled with curiosity, as I have never observed such a science in your sex; and yet with your hands you were a creator, an inventor not of the petty craft of man, but a mother of the tenderest natures. How I loved to watch you toil at your work-table, stuffing tools and pens up in your hair as you worked, loosening your corset to breathe in your experience and learning, thoroughly immersed in your art…
“Ah, but more pleasure I have seldom had than a near-fortnight later, when almost caught out by our good Men of the Queen, I hid in amongst your rushes — closer still to your window — and watched you dressing before your glass. You are such a fine woman as is rarely seen in the country, and with lustful tremblings, I marked the smoothness of your skin, the fine pink in your cheek and breast! I will not hold back from telling you: as you loosed your corset to change into your night-clothes, I was overcome with such a heat that I could not restrain myself! I trussed my hand up under my wool coat and loosed my trousers, stroking my prick deliciously as I watched you put on that show of undress. I shall speak true; though I have had my way with many a doxy of Portsmouth, none could compare to you in beauty of form, grace of movement, and radiance!
“Now I am sure to have shocked your girlish sensibilities and delicate innocence; but as a rogue I cannot do but speak plain. And supposing my words have stirred in you any heat of the blood, any fever in your cheek or heart, or in those tender moist regions which you do well to keep hidden — well then, I will come for you upon the eve of the Seventeenth, late along in the moon-rise, and stand full and waiting below your window. I am not so knavish as to force myself upon a lady who did not intentionally excite me so; but if you wish it so, I will have you!”
Of course, it is a letter full of plain silly writing, and beyond the decency of any gentleman; but as to the last, he was full well right that I was stirred, though not so innocent in knowledge of him as he might suppose, as I did observe him well enough in his hiding at the river-side, his disguise amongst the rushes, and his enthusiastic fondling of his manhood as he watched me undress. I found it exciting — I cannot say how deeply — to catch a glimpse of him so engaged when I glanced at my mirror, and so with length and excess spent that evening in careful, sensual movements, laying myself almost wholly open to his gaze. And all these times, combined as they were with the visage of his tall and dangerous frame, his dark and ragged locks, and the clear beauty of his countenance did work well to excite my womanly desires.
I look now, therefor, again from the letter to the window, and as I gaze out, my eyes acclimating to the nighttime, I observe upon the road the shape of a man on his horse. I gaze a moment longer, and find his white cheek reflecting the moonlight up at me; yes, it is him, of course. I did not hear his horse’s footfall, but then, I must remind myself that the silent journey is a highwayman’s craft. I play as a girl does for a moment, dropping the letter onto the floor as though I had not been reading it, and pretending not to see him on the road, gazing instead upon the moon, the movement of the clouds, and the leaves of the trees as they throw themselves against the wind. Finally I let my glance fall upon the man, whose form is clearer now, and who looks up at me unafraid, eyes bright and gleaming in my lamp-light, a smirk regarding me as I am. Reaching to my desk, I pull out a white paper dove that I crafted this morning; I wrote upon its wings the words, “I come.” I let my hands fall out the window and opening my palms, release my little dove into the night air; with the seeking that a true lover’s note should always have, it circles about a few times, and then comes to perch on the highwayman’s hand, nesting itself there. I smile down on it a moment, and then turn to pack up a few things; no toys, but all my tools — screws and drivers, a kit of gears, rods, cogs, cams, and a thousand other bits, which are nonetheless small in size and pack away quickly into my bag. With a smirk I leave my cloth shoes and slippers, but pack up my leather boots; I leave here my lacy frocks, but pack my corsets. At the last, I throw the whole pack over my shoulder and wrap myself around in a great black cloak, blowing out the light and exiting my room.
He swings off his horse as I near him, little but our eyes shining through the night. He ties my pack to the horse’s saddle and then, turning towards me, wraps his hands about my waist and draws me close; and now I note how he towers over me, and with his great arms lifts me up to kiss him on the mouth. He kisses me broadly and deeply, like a man overcome with hunger, and breathing deeply his hot breath into the chill air around us.
“How I worried you would not want me,” he breathes against my cheek, holding me tight.
I nuzzle his neck and breath in his scent. He smells of pine, and smoke, and wine.
He suddenly pulls away from me, inclining his ear to some far-off sound. “Not here,” he says, “We may be found.” He leads me to the horse and wraps his hands around my waist, lifting me onto it, then leaps up behind me. With a quiet prodding of the horse, we set off down the road, turning as we reach the forest’s edge off the road and into uncleared bramble. The horse moves slowly, but delicately, and my love whispers to me as we go: “My fortune’s nearly made, and I’ve plans to leave the county, perhaps to head northward — anywhere that the black-hearts won’t follow. Or perhaps to Paris — I can see you taking lessons there, a lithe Parisian woman in their highly-reputed academies. If you wish — shall we go to Paris? You can have the finest fashions, and I shall proudly take you out on my arm to dance in those cafés — from which so many lewd tales come to us, even here in the country! Ahh, are you as dark and devious as I am, my dear? For I do love such stories…”
I don’t reply, my heart beating too fast for me to find the words as our way is picked through the forest, leading us deeper into lands where most men rarely venture. The bushes and trees are thick enough now that I can barely see their forms; a moment later, the horse halts, and my love slides off the horse, catching me as I come after him. He pushes aside some dark vines and branches, and leads me, a hand wrapped around my waist, into a tunnel of overgrowth, which soon seems to mingle with earth. We make our way through, his one hand feeling along the stone wall as the tunnel curves underground, his other holding me tight to guide my steps. There is now no light at all, and the tunnel seems to turn and weave like a worm underground. We keep on, and a few foot-falls later, I note that our noises are met with echoes.
Placing a hand on my shoulder to steady me, he bids me stay a moment. In a second, brightness erupts into my vision as a lantern is struck, and our dwelling is illuminated; a cavern, the size of a good sitting room, looms before me. The ground is evenly packed dirt, and around us are the accoutrement of a simple but sufficient home: a royally-sized feather-bed, layered up in thick blankets and with a locker set up at its foot; shelves crudely made out of wood, on which rest books and a few tools — as well as a few guns; and upon a very small oak desk, hand-made maps of the country whole. He motions for me to join him in the room’s center, and watches my expression for an appraisal. I smile and blush under his gaze, suddenly shy of his glance.
His beauty, which I had only known in the darkness, I now see clear: how he is both tall and broad-shouldered, how keen and sharp his eyes are, twinkling green at me. As he tosses aside his riding-hat, his dark hair falls around his head; and again he laces his eager hands, with their long and slender fingers, under my coat and around my waist. He presses himself to me, kissing my face and cheeks. I sigh with joy, and let my fingers, trembling, burrow under his shirt to touch against the skin at his ribs. He gasps at the touch of my cold hands, perhaps from surprise; for a moment later he is unbuttoning his jacket and his shirt. He has a sudden urgency, which I can see flushing his cheek as he moves me towards the bed, breathing heavily. He lays me out on my back, and looses the cloak to let it fall off of me. He sheds his jacket and his shirt, and sits beside me on the bed, kissing me. He sits back for a moment and gazes down at me, as though savoring the sight, and I venture to let my own gaze wander over his body. His shoulders and chest are shining yellow in the lantern-light, his chest broad and muscled, his skin rough and weathered… and although I know how he can see me as I gaze, I let my glance fall down to his trousers, where his prick strains against the cloth.
He watches, and smiling knowingly, begins to work a hand up underneath my skirt, caressing it along my legs. He loosens my under garments and pulls them out of the way, so that I am exposed to him, my wet snatch sparkling delicately. He fondles it a moment with his fingers, stroking the lips and the clitoris, pressing a finger or two into me, and bringing me to such a state of warmth and pleasure that I can hardly remember where I am. Then, leaning over me, he unbuttons his trousers, letting his cock fall out, erect and red-headed, already wet with arousal. He gazes at me, and opens my legs wide, bending them at the knee, and climbing between to point his long, red-headed penis at my slit.
Then, with a single thrust, he pushes fully into me, causing me to gasp and arch my back, lifting me off the bed by the pain and great joy of it. He trembles, and rocks back to push into me again, and I inadvertently give a small cry. He looks at me in concern, and so I kiss him encouragingly; and with that, he suddenly reaches a hand down to his trouser-pocket, and removing a small switch-blade, begins cutting off all the little strings of my corset. He continues with his prick inside of me, thrusting as he looses my chest to his gaze, now pinching and playing with my nipples insatiably. I feel tight, my blood heating and coursing through me as he withdraws and then sheaths himself in me again. His rhythm is growing faster, and I grasp at the coverlet of the bed to keep in my place, as he is now reaching a state of violent passion, my body moving over the bed at his whim. His breath is coming, uneven and ragged, against my ear, and his hands roam across my skin. I whimper in joy, and he wraps a hand around one of my wrists to push it down and hold me tight in place. I twist, and with my free hand, streak my black-polished nails over his arm, leaving red in their wake as we wrestle in the exertions of lust.
His free hand finds its way back down to my clitoris, and he begins to rub, pinch, and twist it as he thrusts, which brings my breath up to catch in my throat, and causes me to tighten around his cock. The blood is building in me, and I can hear my own cries rising into the chill air as he continues. My breasts are bouncing crudely now in response to his quick pace, and my hair has come loosened to tumble everywhere. I paw ecstatically at his shoulders, clutching him to me and twining my legs around his as I scream and come, my whole body shaking uncontrollably with the thrill of my passion. I draw him full into me, impaling myself upon his cock as I shudder out my last pleasures, losing a few cries to the night, and as I hear his breath increase, his pace quickens so that his strokes are short and fast. I continue to embrace him as he thrusts at me, and then, pausing and pushing into my cunt, he quivers in male ecstasy as he comes, his juices running hot inside me. He collapses on top of me, and we lie there a moment, still wrapped and spent in each others’ arms, before he rolls away in exhaustion.
My head swims, my cheeks burning in the cavern air, and he fondly plays a bit with the wetness that has streaked out onto my legs, stroking them gently and bringing me to relax. He rises to turn out the lantern, and then returns to wrap himself and the blankets around me, warming me against the night, and whispering into my ears about the travels we must take.
“We could go to London, if you like — have you not been away from the country?” I shake my head — no.
“Or perhaps to Istanbul — it is exquisitely exotic, a city of enticing spices and heat…” he continues. I tremble in excitement.
“Ahhh, but most of all, my love,” he sighs, “I think how well you will like Paris…”
[To be continued...]