She lay on her back under the covers and pulled her nightdress up.
"Ah, my dear?" Ronald had married her 2 years ago, and after a brief flurry of activity, brief in that it didn't last to the end of the honeymoon, they had lapsed into an agreed ceremony once a week of sex in which she 'did her duty' and he spent 10 to 15 minutes inside her. She moved not at all during this and he pumped away and came with a burst of passion; and then the days went back to normal for another week.
Arabella's mother had explained all about sex to her, in surprising and intimate detail. She was a new woman in the 1800s you see and believed in being open and honest with her daughter. Her own mother had just said "He will want to do something, you won't like it, but it is part of the bargain of being married". That was it. Arabella's mother was much more open
"He will want to do something on your wedding night my dear. It is unpleasant but you must bear it as it is part of the duty of a married woman to subject themselves then and occasionally after that to a man's less noble desires.
You must allow him to have access to that third place" here she indicated downwards "the one that monthly proves you are a woman. He will insert himself, his, well his, his 'organ'" she had no idea what that meant, briefly thinking 'like the organ in church?' and then 'oh, no, an organ of his body, a finger perhaps? That would fit' "Arabella, are you listening?"
"Oh, yes Mamma"
"He will insert it into you and will rock within you for a duration. As I say, it is unpleasant not to say unhygienic, but this is what marriage is about, for this is the only way to have children. Children are the high spot of a woman's life and a man apparently takes some pleasure in this method of providing the means"
Such was the open and honest explanation. Periods had been the same. Perhaps Mrs P- had no notion what menstruation was all about. She certainly didn't explain about eggs and wombs, she just explained that the women's curse was to prove she was a fertile woman. That was it. Periods were a curse and sex was a chore. Arabella was not encouraged by all this, but when Ronald came along, and looked presentable and not wholly objectionable to mother or father (unlike the previous suitor, Mr Jakes, the curate, who had been very respectable and very ugly), she had accepted his proposal and they were married after a suitable period of engagement. Despite her mother's 'detailed', 'open and frank' explanation, she still imagined somehow a finger as the only article that could be inserted, and that only a small one. It never occurred to her to try and fit in one of her own, that would have been quite unthinkable in a well-bred young lady for whom even the other natural bodily functions had to be strictly controlled; nor did it occur to her incurious mind that, at some point, a baby had to pass down this minute channel. In any case her mother offered no question and answer session for her daughter's edification. In fairness many of the questions a thoughtful daughter might ask would have been a mystery to Mrs P- as well.
The marriage night proved something of a surprise therefore, even after the explanation. Arabella had climbed into bed in her nightgown, pulled it up just sufficient to obey her mother's stricture to make that part of herself available to him, and been really quite surprised when a similarly clad husband had inserted not a finger but a surprisingly rigid penis into her. She knew about penises of course, she had seen dogs and horses with them stiff at some occasions (and, like the delicate natured being she was meant to be, she had purported not to see). And she had seen the gardeners peeing being the bushes sometimes, so she knew men had such appendages too. Now she found men could stiffen them like animals did.
Similarly she had seen horses and sheep mounting each other, now she found men did the same, but facing their partner. 'That must be the difference between us and the animals' she thought.
And so, within 3 weeks they had established that this duty should be performed once a week, a Friday perhaps. It was vile, dirty and disgusting, but had to be endured for the sake of marriage.
"Ah, my dear" said Ronald "I wonder, yes, I wonder if we might try something different tonight?" He was sure there was more pleasure to be had than this. He was certain that some of his friends had discovered variations to the same approach; some had alluded to it, but not in detail. Not the act of a gentleman don't you know? His friends of course knew nothing of his dilemmas, they only saw him with the undoubted beauty of the neighbourhood and assumed the rest. He had thought of taking a woman of the night occasionally, but he knew that was why David had gone away for treatment, and Stuart Sturt Mackenzie's father was half-mad in a sanatorium from syphilis contracted from a dissolute lifestyle. He would rather not follow that route, thank you very much! But he had read a book, it wasn't the sort of book for polite society, like a Bronte or a Dickens. Unlike Hardy it did more than hint at rum goings on in the bedchamber; this book had describe the activities of a young maid. The Adventures of Doxy Malone had her deflowered at 15 and bending over to take it from behind at 16. Ronald had read that passage a few times before he understood it. At first he had tried in his mind to rotate the woman in mid sex to understand how she might be entered and yet be facing the same direction as the young man (so they both saw the parson arriving on horseback and hilariously had to pull up and down clothing while still in the heat of desire). Than one night it had occurred to him that the glories of the creation of woman had enabled her to be approached from either direction. Ever since he had tried to imagine it. The book had opened his mind to another possibility, for the eponymous heroine appeared to enjoy her escapades with the stable boy, the young master, the old master, and yes, the parson. He had found himself with an erection and ideas by the end of the book
She gave him a quizzical look and waited.
"I mean, perhaps a different approach?"
"Oh, perhaps you wish to kiss me more?" She held her mouth in a pout, which he could hardly refuse. Even this though was quite a chaste kiss, she kept her mouth closed.
"No, that is to say yes, I love to kiss you, but I was thinking more of, well perhaps" he finally took a leap "perhaps I could enter you from behind"
He might have been suggesting she have anal sex with a goat, she wouldn't have looked any more disgusted and affronted. God had apparently decreed the duty of a wife and the position to lie in. Ronald was pretty sure that wasn't explained in the Bible, but he'd have to check. He entered her as usual and found the sex even less satisfying this time. His wife of course found it un-pleasurable all the time, determined from the start not to enjoy it, she kept any build up to a minimum, a few kisses and then she would pull up her nightgown, when the deed was done she would pull it back down first and slip out to her own bed in the adjoining room.
The following week he tried again "Perhaps you could touch it a little and I could stroke your bre-"
"Ronald! You want me to touch that thing! It is dirty and, well, used for all sorts of things" She cut him off before he said breasts, though she knew what he was about to say. He had never actually seen them. The prettiest girl in the town and he, her husband, hadn't seen her breasts, had seen hardly any part of her since she pulled her nightdress up in bed, under the covers, in the dark. He had taken to entering the bed naked, he found his own nightgown got in the way, but he knew she very pointedly looked away. She had in truth seen him in the buff but had never alluded to it and would never admit it. His erect penis had been something of a surprise; it felt like a log being shoved into her each week, but looked more manageable. Seeing it made it easier, she could imagine this 'organ' entering her body.
A few unsatisfactory weeks passed. "I have to travel to the capital for perhaps two weeks, there are some documents to sign and some effects to manage regarding Uncle Ebenezer's will. It appears that I may be in his only relative. Would you care to accompany me my dear? I cannot promise to be much company, during the day, but perhaps you could hire a carriage? We can see the parks and the Changing of the Guard"
"Oh Yes! That would be positively delightful Ronald, how kind you are" She planted a kiss, unwonted on his cheek. This alone was a first.
So it was that one day, tired and bored with dealing with dusty ledgers and old solicitors, Ronald took a long lunch and a walk to the British Library. Leaving it after an hour he made his way through some of the smaller streets, passing a small second hand book shop near Holborn. As soon as he entered, he realised this was not a place for him. Although it had 'his' book 'The Adventures of Doxy Malone' on display, it had many more of a similar ilk. Indeed he felt sure that his particular choice might be one of the more tame examples. One particular 'Trapped in The Sultan's Harem – being a true and unexpurgated history of a maid's introduction to the debauched life of an eastern potentate' caught his eye more than once. He longed to look inside its covers, but knew that it would inflame his passions to little benefit. Then he saw a way out, a book on one shelf 'The Perfumed Garden' translated by Sir Richard Burton, odd that a gardening book should be here, but he purchased it nevertheless.
.... There is more of this story ...