Lord Rothby looked disconsolately into his tankard of mead as the fool told the same old joke once more while the zither man slurped ale from his tankard and the Landlord at the Frothby Duck at Langley bemoaned that the Canal was now complete and his best customers the Navigators or Navvys had moved on.
The Landlords daughter seemed comely enough, even though he had barely sipped his mead and on an impulse he called her over.
"Shall you wake with me for two silver shillings" he asked quietly.
"Fine Gentleman like you sir, t'would be my pleasure." she answered.
Yes and a brat would doubtless appear nine months hence with an earnest appeal for alms, he mused, "My room mid night" he whispered as he handed across the coins.
He winked at Claridge, his manservant, "Comely enough?" he asked and Claridge bowed slightly.
Claridge was perplexed, he had been schooled in the ways of a Gentleman's Gentleman, yet his new employer seemed loth to avail himself, indeed since he had taken employ with his Lordship he had never performed even one service, while neither did his employer give the slightest hint that service was due, indeed Claridge had hitherto been banished to the servants quarters far from his proper position in the Masters bed chamber.
"Have a wench sent up that we may allay suspicions " Claridge suggested when but one bed chamber was all that the Inn availed, and so Rothby had agreed a wench should be sought.
Their journey had been long and tiring, the Canal boat though dubbed "Express" might more properly have been called "Pedestrian" or even "Slugg," from the pedestrian progress it availed as the Bargee allowed his beast to amble as slow as it liked along the tow path grazing and dining on black berries as it proceeded ever northwards, and now they rested at Canal's temporary end, their way blocked by the Danescombe estate the property of Major General Brabbinger, who stubbornly refused to sell a way-leave.
Rothby was infuriated by the Major General's intransigence, his agent Morkins, had invested heavily in Canal Stock and with the Danescombe block of some five miles un-started when all the other lengths of the Canal stood ready and brimmed with water, he knew the investment would soon be worthless.
So angry had he been on receipt of the note from London that he had at once resigned his commission and sought passage home forthwith from his garrison home in Jamaica, travelling in the "Javeling" a vessel as unlike a Javelin as one could conceive a vessel held together by the entwined bodies of shipworm, too old to even carry sheep and on passage to Greenwich for breaking up.
Rothby had no stomach for the sea, yet every cry for "All hands on deck" had seen him rush for the well deck to lend a hand, shinning up the rigging or lending a hand at the pumps, "Sire, tis for common men not Lords to toil" the Captain had chided.
"Well , we'll all die together so we may as well toil together," Rothby had declared.
Yet the toil had taken it's toll, soldiering, and shipwork, his Lordship had the rugged look and coarse hands now of a labourer and without his rich garments would indeed have never been considered a member of polite society."Landlord, your finest Scottish Wine" Rothby shouted.
The fool stopped telling his joke, the Constable woke briefly and as the Landlords dog yelped so the Landlord grabbed wildly at a bottle labelled "Bels Scotch Wiskhy" and rushed to present it to Rothby.
"First, that is not Scottish wine, I well know that Lord Attercliffe's game keeper distills that in Danbury Cover," Rothby averred, "You pay him one shilling bottle, so here's a half crown and give everyone a drink till the bottle be empty!" the Lord spoke loud enough so all might hear and set the half-crown down on the counter,as the yokels rushed to charge their glasses.
Rothby took himself off from the conviviality of the drink den at the Inn, and proceeded to his room where after a brief survey and laying aside his rich tunic and collecting his towels he made his way out of the window, down a drain-pipe and along the gravelled path to the canal, where in the moonlight he stripped off his fine clothes and dived into the cool waters and swam easily until all the filth of the day was cleansed and thereafter he dried himself and returned to the Inn.
He was barely returned when there was a knock at the door, Claridge was in his undershirt folding Rothby's Tunic when Molly the Landlords daughter, arrived.
"Where do you want me sir," she said to Claridge mistaking him for Rothby.
"My master will wish to inspect the goods Madam, pray expose your charms." Rothby ordered.
"Quite so!" said Claridge in a ridiculously pompous voice, and so Molly pulled her old patched ill fitting gown over her head and showed her well worn intimacies, her lower lips swollen with the constancy of pounded entries, her breasts already sagged, and her hairs crudely scraped away.
Rothby examined her carefully, "Use a skin, I advise sir, she may carry the cock rot." he advised Claridge in as coarse an accent as he could devise.
"Ooh ent you got lovely hands," Molly exclaimed, as Claridge approached her, "You toffs always smell lovely,"
Claridge was perplexed, all his training suggested he should serve his master but here he was to serve his masters wench, he peered at her swollen parts and realised his own parts were swelling. "The skins are on the side-board sire" Rothby advised, "Feel safe sir, I shall be right here to stifle any tricks."
Claridge took the skin, normally his duties were to clean the skins and then blow them like a balloon to check for rents but now he found himself sliding a skin onto his member.
Molly was lying abed, her brown feet now out of her clogs and the tide line of filth up to her ankles clear displayed, as Claridge approached, it seemed so strange that the woman was on her back when all his training he had to service gentlemen as they bent over.
He brought the tip of the skin to the entry to her womb and pressed gently and suddenly he was engulfed by the warm soft willing folds of her privacy and he found heaven.
He gasped and grunted and pistoned in a very acceptable manner, thought Rothby, fully up to regimental standards, although the climate in Jamaica was more conducive to the art and practice of love he would admit, and he patiently awaited his turn.
"That was entirely acceptable, wench" Claridge announced as he withdrew," pray allow my Valet to mount you."
"Do I have to?" Molly asked, "with his coarse hands and ruddy features, it will spoil the evening sir, and you were so exquisite with your love sir, pray rest and take me to heaven again, sir."
"I am repulsive to you Madam?" Rothby asked.
"No offence but you're a workman not a proper Valet, ent you, I don't want your type in me baby box do I?" she replied.
Rothby was stunned, but he realised it was true, Claridge looked far more the nobleman than he, and seeing Claridge's bedding set ready against the wall he lay down on it and watched as Molly engulfed Claridge's member within her mouth as she strove to reinvigorate it.
Rothby woke with the dawn, Claridge was naked upon the bed with a naked Molly sleeping quietly, and Rothby quietly sought his working clothes he had kept from the "Javeling" and dressed in them he slipped away through the window to the canal.
The difference was obvious, at the wharf he went unrecognised, some women ignored him, some looked curious, but none curtsied, and one cursed him.
He walked on oblivious to an approaching menace "Arrogant oaf, out of my way!" A carriage and pair driven with spirit and recklessness by a girl with fire in her green eyes and her black hair flowing like a mane bore down upon him while beside the employed driver sat impotently as she held the reins.
Rothby leapt forward and as they went to pass he grasped the pair by their bridles forcing them to halt abruptly and the girl fell forward to land in the dust in an ungainly heap.
"Call the Constable!" She cried as Rothby went to help her "Unhand me you brute."
Her white dress was soiled and torn and Rothby saw the length of her leg to the thigh up within her voluminous skirts, and the coquettish rise to the heel of her sandal.
"Father call your Constable." she snapped.
"He won't thank you, he overindulged the past night on Lord Rothby's largess with the distilled spirits." Rothby quipped to a titter of laughter .
"For heavens sake girl, you were at fault." Major Brabbinger exclaimed from the back seat of the open carriage, and addressing himself to Rothby he added, "You should remember that when Miss Sophia Brabbinger takes to the road all others are well advised to stand and watch! Now unhand my girl and give your name and business."
"Dullard, leading rate of the Javeling, sir," Rothby lied as he desperately sought for an alias, "Here on Lord Rothby's business."
"Barge hand eh? you're mighty cocky for a barge hand?" the Major exclaimed.
"Inward bound from Trinidad sir, she's no barge sir, she's the" Rothby couldn't bring himself to say finest, "Ah she's a ship, sir."
"I shall send the remittance for a new dress to Lord Rothby." the girl snapped.
"Don't fuss Sophia," ordered the Major, "Rothby hates us sufficiently already."
Rothby watched as Sophia glared at him as she fought to regain control of the matched pair of Dun geldings and then with a flash of a whip they were gone. Rothby stared after the carriage until distracted by a womans’ titters, "Exciting ain't she, out o' your league though!" she chortled, and Rothby realised that not only did he have a huge erection but that his thin breeches made his predicament clear to all!
Claridge was waiting when Rothby climbed back through the window and into their room, "I'm sorry sir, I must resign my post forthwith." he explained, "I am not cut out for the life of a Gentleman's Gentleman and last night confirmed my misgivings, to be blunt sir, I prefer the pleasures of the female and can no longer."
"Hey!", what is this, I need a Batman, " said Rothby, "someone to keep my things in order, what's all this about pleasures of the flesh?"
"Did you aspire to employ a travelling butler?" asked Claridge, "merely that?"
"Certainly, what did you think?" Rothby enquired.
"A bed mate sir." Claridge explained.
"And you refuse to consort with me Carnally?" Rothby asked incredulously.
"That's it sire, in a nutshell." Claridge affirmed.
"Well thank god for that," said Rothby "Mother must have thought I had become a sodomite when she procured you from the agency, but such I am not and if you are willing to be my, well, Batman, and companion we shall get along famously I'm sure."
Claridge took Rothby's outstretched hand and the set a seal on their new friendship.
Rothby quickly asked Claridge to do a service, "Will you pass yourself of as me when we see the Major, only I had to pretend to be Dullard of the Javeling."
"Dullard, how un-imaginative," Claridge asserted, "but yes I shall be the mighty Lord and you my Dullard servant for as long as you wish.
And so as they left the Frothby Duck, it was Claridge who wore the rich Tunic and Rothby who carried their voluminous bags.
They hired horses and set sail for their interview at Danescombe house. The Major General was riding and they waited in the front Parlour as the silly maids in their grey uniforms with white aprons tittered and swooned over Claridge while ignoring Rothby.
Soon enough Adlington the Butler announcer "The Major, I mean, Major General Brabbinger will see you now sir, your servant may wait here."
"Gosh, oh no, Dullard must come too, he can write you know!" Claridge insisted.
"The Major?" Rothby queried in his Dullard voice.
"Family joke sir, nothing more," said Adlington, "It makes the Major feel young being called Major rather than the title General he is entitled to."
The Major General sat at his desk while Sophia paced up and down impatiently.
"So," she said, "How much are you offering today." she glared at Rothby, "because after yesterday it's not enough."
"Gel needs a Husband," the Major explained, "Mother's gone poor girl."
"To Sidenham, with Monsieur Le Carr, she's not dead," said Sophia resignedly.
"Are you betrothed Lord Rothby?" asked the Major.
"No not yet" Claridge replied.
"Oldest of three girls, twenty one and never been kissed, can't offload the pretty ones till this ones flown the nest." the Major Joked.
"You need me here, your useless on your own father." Sophia opined, "And what do you mean can't off load the pretty ones?"
"Well I can scarce believe they outshine Miss Brabbinger sir" said Claridge in his best imitation of Rothby's accent.
"They shine like the stars of heaven sir," Sophia explained," they spend every waking moment preening and endlessly fiddling and meddling with make-up and."
"Sophia" said the Major, "Watch your tongue."
"Sorry father," Sophia said quietly, "But really Adele and Francine are as much use as Peacocks, and."
"Sophia, enough," The Major snapped.
Rothby looked at Sophia, as she raged, her eyes afire once more with hidden passion, and once more Rothby felt his manhood stirring, he shuffled and with discretion arranged his attire afresh such that his predicament was disguised.
"So sir to work, and what pray is your position on the way-leave." Claridge enquired.
"Heavens man you waste no time, and the answer is No!" the Major snorted.
"A flat irrefutable No!" said Claridge in surprise..
"Yes, a No, flat No, No never." said Sophia.
"Sophia please, show some decorum," the Major insisted.
"Very well then, ten thousand, thousand guineas." Sophia snapped.
"I fear your daughter is perhaps unworldly when sums of money are discussed," Claridge suggested, "perhaps ten thousand might be a starting point?"
"Yes father why not grasp this pittance, and make a condition that the blackguard marries me as a token of your extreme gratitude." Sophia exclaimed.
"Madam, there is a small matter of rank, and indeed the matter of my mother so I fear I must decline your kind offer." Claridge simpered, "But Ten Thousand is the sum I have in my mind."
"Then away to your cohorts and tell them there is no agreement to be made." the Major insisted, "I bid you good day."
Rothby bowed low and followed Claridge deferentially from the room, but Adlington the Butler waylaid them, "Please take refreshment with us before your journey, the Misses Brabinger await upon you in the Sitting room my Lord and your servant will be very welcome in our humble pantry.
So it was that whilst Claridge made small-talk with the younger Misses Brabbinger so Rothby was sent through the labrynthine passages of Danescombe House to the servants pantry and there he once again met Miss Sophia.
Rokeby was enjoying a roasted chicken wing when Miss Brabbinger happened upon him, "My father said be gone you hireling, so be gone and leave our food alone." she ordered.
"The Butler said" Rothby insisted but Sophia cried.
"Enough, go before you feel the kiss of my whip," Rothby saw her take the whip down from the shelf and watched in disbelief as she tried to strike him, it was as if in slow motion that he saw and then grasped, the wicked thin leather strips before they could strike him and in that instant he pulled her off her balance.
Sophia sprawled awkwardly as she fell to find her self legs spread and slipping on the flag stones as she slipped and slowly fell.
Rothby never knew what possessed him but in the instant of her helplessness he leapt upon her, at first in a gesture of proffered assistance and then as her skirts rode up another far less noble intent became fixed in his mind.
They were alone, Rothby could neither see nor hear a single soul and his manhood was again straining in unrelieved frustration, "Don't you dare look at me like that." Sophia said unaware of her imminent danger, but Rothby was not to be dissuaded.
"What's wrong with you?" Sophia asked, as Rothby's hands seized the hems of her skirts and underskirts and raised them hurriedly to her face, he peered with amazement at both her plethora of underskirts and her lack of pantaloons or anything to hide her modesty now she was laid on her back with her skirts raised.
Her most private places were now exposed to his view and such was his need and desire that in a moment of madness he started to unleash his breeches and unbuckle his belt.
It seemed to them that hours passed but in truth it was but seconds and no sooner had Sophia gazed upon Rothby's manhood than he advanced it towards her hairy softness, she realised too late that what he intended and as the hours seemingly passed so he advanced towards her.
She sprawled immobile as an Egyptian mummy as Rothby advanced, her skirts up to her chin as she stared at Rothby's broad shouldered and well muscled torso advancing towards her his manhood rampant and a shudder of dread passed right through her, and she felt her innermost parts become damp, in a way she failed to understand.
The scream died on her lips as she felt the firm rounded tip of his penis brush and then slip between the lips leading to her womb and then as his strong arms crushed her breasts against the mass of her skirts and his muscular chest she felt a sudden sharp pain and before she could cry out he had forced his manliness deep inside her, impossibly deep so deep she thought herself mortally wounded, three more times he thrust and then he grunted and she felt the dread wetness of her blood seeping and oozing from her torn insides.
She stared in complete incomprehension, her life suddenly ruined, the route of marriage to a suitable Gentleman seemingly barred with the loss of her innocence, yet the moment so brutal and sharp that she may as well be stabbed by a sword or dagger as lanced by seven inches of servantile musculature.
Not a word was spoken, neither knew what to say as they separated, both dazed at the speed and violence of what had transpired, she fearful of her terrible injuries as the red blood mingled with the clear fluids from her destroyed innards as she thought his copious ejaculate might be.
Rothby in turn was shocked at his reaction, the girl was available to him for but the briefest moment yet for not one instant could he resist her and yet once sheathed he had exploded his passion deep inside her, thoughtless of the consequences, thoughtless that she should have at least consented and they used a skin of some kind, but now it was done and just the memory of such brief perfection remained.
"I shall have you whipped, hung, drawn, quartered and eaten by crows," she hissed, "your life is forfeit, fall on your dagger and save some shred of dignity." she whispered finally, and with a rustle of falling under-skirts she was gone.
Rothby wiped his snake on the table-cloth in the servants Pantry, pulled up his breeches, and finished his chicken wing, he regretted his precipitate actions, he should have undressed her to resolve the riddle of her breasts, he needed to taste her lips, feel her hair against his cheek, seek out the secret places that might make her scream with passion and above all take the time to pleasure her properly, and not for a fleeting instant did he consider her to be anything other than a willing partner to their liaison.
Sophia too reflected on what passed, she knew from others the terrors of the marriage bed, the terrible pain, the bleeding, and the humiliation, with her mother departed all manner of friends and aunts had regaled her with the terrors of conjugality, yet for all its brutality she felt stronger, she had conquered her fear of marriage, even as her life blood drained down her thigh she realised with a drunken husband on the wedding night she could perhaps keep her shame a secret, and had she not this morning met a suitable catch, one who might be persuaded, blackmailed even, into marriage?
The thoughts raced through her mind, even as she wiped herself in her bed chamber, the blood had stopped and also the clear discharge and she realised she would not die.
Quickly she rushed downstairs and found her father.
"Father, if you really wish to see Francine and Adele married and to that I am an impediment, I do own to an admiration for Lord Rothby's estate." she said quietly as she cornered the Major General in his study.
"But not the man eh" he said, "It's your mother coming out in you, I saw the way you looked at the servant,, it would take but an." he paused as a tear came, "Oh Sophia, you didn't did you, a stolen kiss, that's how your mother started, a stolen kiss with a tradesman, I turned a blind eye for as long as I may but."
"I'm sorry father." she said, "He forced."
"Enough, you fluttered your eyes at him like a Finsbury Park whore about her trade, forced my eye, show me the bruises." He demanded.
"He pinned me father there." She started to say.
"Hush girl, what do we say, the way-leave as your dowry?" he asked.
"They offered twenty guineas at the commencement, is that your valuation of my worth." she asked.
"And you turned down Ten Thousand, no, it shall be your dowry, we shall tell your sisters Twenty and the world Ten Thousand, come we have suitors to blackmail." the Major General smiled, Mistress of the Rothby estate, what a station in life and, he mused, he might get to enjoy his grandchildren.
Major General Brabbinger always regretted that he married so late in life, he blamed his own failings for his wife's infidelity, he was already retired from active service at forty five when he married Sophie’s mother and the twenty seven year age gap was too large to bridge, still for all that had she consented to wake with him each morning he could have forgiven her anything but to that she could not consent.
"Lord Rothby" the Major sprang on the unsuspecting Claridge, "My daughter has set a very high price on the way-leave, it is to be her dowry, is that a price you might afford?"
"Gad zooks, sir, I hardly know the woman." he exclaimed.
"But I know your estates," Sophia intoned, "And the enjoyment they endow shall I am sure compensate for a husband who seldom ventures home and prefers overseas postings."
She thought of the famous quadrangle of Rothby's mansion, and there in her minds eye she saw Dullard naked while little by little she flayed the skin from his back with a horse whip.