The Hoods were a well-known family in the area; they owned land in the northern part of the county and had interests in the Cudbug Brewery. When Marjorie took up with Jack some said she could have done better (one who said it was her mother, Edna); but she met him in the market, he was trying to sell his meat, and it really was love at first sight; she was just smitten. He was tall, well-built, manly, muscley. Oh yes, it wasn't just a meeting of intellects, of minds; there was a physical attraction too, on both sides. She was slim and well-built in a womanly way and when she came and bought some venison from him and batted her eyes at him, he had the definite image in his mind of bending her over and fucking her senseless. He was pretty basic in his emotional needs was Jack. So it was that Marjorie married Jack Riding and the Riding-Hoods moved to his forest. His mother didn't really approve of her, she was too slight, not tough enough she thought, but Drucilla Riding was willing to admit she was wrong later, after the bad winter of '23. And she was impressed by the way Marjorie took the business side on and made it work.
Jack owned the forest, it had been in the family for generations. Jack had had the idea that, since the farm went to brother Jim, he could try and sell game from the forest to make a living. It was a hand to mouth existence. The forest had plenty to offer, but a stall in the market was never going to produce a good income. Jack was a good hunter but a bad businessman; Marjorie was the businessman. She visited the butchers – wouldn't they like an honest supply of venison (instead of rustled carcases occasionally); she visited the inns, she visited the big houses. In short she built up the brand. Then she expanded, both with child and the business. She started an offshoot selling timber and ended up having to employ a woodsman – Mike Tucker by name. The timber was good quality and they replanted to keep the forest in good order. So the family prospered and moved to the other side of the forest and built a nice new house.
That was where Rachel Edna Drucilla Riding-Hood was born. Her initials and her shock of red hair – which was a throwback a couple of generations, neither of her parents had red hair – naturally resulted in her nickname and as a child she was small for her age. Little Red she was nicknamed, and Little Red she remained, even when, at 15, she had grown taller than average and was one of the bustier girls of her contemporaries. Her grandmother Riding stayed on the far side of the wood with her two servants.
At least that's what she told Red they were whenever she called. The two attractive young women were her maids, and if Red wondered why she needed two maids, she was too polite to ask. Being so far away, visits were always planned. Because the truth was that when husband had died and then both sons had moved away, Drucilla was bored, and she opted to return to her previous profession. Jack (the elder) had been a hard worker and, one evening he had opted to visit the local brothel for some well-deserved relaxation. Drucilla had just arrived, she was young, apparently experienced, and shy. Jack took to her straight away, and paying his 10 groats he went upstairs to her room. After a sensuous session, he paid for another round, and then another. By the end of the evening he was a whole dollar poorer (87 groats to the dollar for some reason no one could remember), several pounds lighter (from all the exercise) and had proposed to this new prostitute. They were in love and Drucilla's career was over. She always said Madam Min's was her first employer, but in fact this was her eighth, you don't get that good at sex without plenty of practice.
Still, they were happy, Drucilla gave up charging for sex (and mostly was faithful) and gave birth in time to two fine strapping lads. When they had moved away, and husband Jack died, she set up to run a brothel again as something to do. She wasn't in a position to take an active role herself – except with the old Viscount who fancied more mature women, and anyway she was frightened that Maxine or Mo would finish him off with some of their antics. It was convenient that her son Jack should live with his slightly posh wife and lovely daughter on the other side of the forest, any visit had to be arranged beforehand (the postal service was wonderful in those days), so the business would be shut for the day and little Red would just see the two maids wandering around seemingly not rushed off their feet. Jack and Marjorie knew what she, Drucilla, was doing; but if they looked the other way then it wasn't happening so that was what they did; after all it kept her occupied.
Drucilla showed herself to be a natural business woman too. Whereas before it had simply been enough to have a free bedroom, a comely face and a secure place to hid the fees, now she had to ensure sufficient trade for her two girls against the competition of the other establishments. She estimated that a man would walk about 10 miles for a fuck, so that meant there were two other brothels in her catchment area. Long before the supermarkets thought of it, Drucilla came up with the idea of the loyalty card. 9 fucks and the tenth was free. It meant that instead of competing on price, she could keep her prices slightly higher and encourage a loyal clientele. Her girls were good at their job too, she made sure of that; "a happy fucker is a repeat fucker" was their rather secret motto. But another factor which she found by subtle questioning, was the support or disapproval of the womenfolk of the area. There are always plenty of women who aren't that keen on sex; mostly this is down to the men being bloody useless, but that was less her problem. The principle of the man playing away wasn't so bad, it was the possibility of bringing back some added gift – syphilis or the like – that the women objected to. Drucilla hit upon an ingenious plan, and persuaded the other brothel-keepers that it was a good enough idea to buy into as well; they all chipped in and arranged for an out-of-town doctor to visit once a month to check all the girls (had to be out-of-town since a) the 'prossy-doctor' was likely to lose trade, and b) Dr Foster was one of their best clients – at all three businesses!). Certified clean girls, any sickness took the girl off the work rota (but Drucilla always gave her a good pay-off), was an attraction to the men, but also to the wives and mothers (and a couple of incestuous sisters – but that's another fairy story which Jacob Grimm took out of the book). They were more content for their husband's/son's/brother's attentions to be distracted by professional women if they knew that the women were clean. So the overall market increased. Drucilla began planning to build an extension and employing a couple more girls.
Red grew up dividing her time between her father and mother, some days she would be neatly sewing embroidery (her mother's favourite occupation) and others she would be stalking a deer (badger, fox, rabbit, boar, or even frog) with her father through the woods. She soon learnt all the pathways and byways, she could walk silent like a cat, and she could sew the most elaborate designs on the shawls that her mother made. She also idled away time sometimes decorating her less visible clothing, her underclothes became increasingly decorated works of art, experimental designs of squirls and spirals and flowers and birds. If she missed a stitch it didn't matter because no-one would see them anyway (except the laundress of course). Occasionally her burgeoning sexuality broke in and the shape of the flower had a distinct look of a female sexual organ, or the approaching bee had more of a flying sex organ than was strictly accurate. Mostly her mother put this down to her needing more practice at sewing.
It was a good time to be young, the town offered luxuries and friends, male and female, the girly talks clarified much that might happen after marriage, and muddied much too. Boys were there to practice flirting with and to tease, occasionally to flash a tit or bum in exchange for a view of a boy's dangler. The forest offered fascination. Red learnt much about sex by watching the animals, she watched amazed as the male ducks swarmed over a female duck ready for mating, each proffering a huge (for their size) penis. "Is that how we do it?" The young girl had asked at 8 years old, and her father spluttered some platitudes about love and couples as they watched the duck being raped by 5 or six rough drakes. It wasn't uncommon for the duck to drown if she was on the water when they caught her. Same with the frogs and toads. Red began to get an uncomfortable feeling about sex. Then she saw the squirrels as they happily made a drey and shared nuts. She was a little disappointed when the male ran off as soon as he had got his end away, but at least it has been a consensual coupling. Her observations of the sparrows were the most interesting (to her), she rushed back to tell her mother, who wasn't much interested in natural history and was a little put out at the graphic description of the female sparrow pairing up and letting one male build her a nest, to then happily mate with a couple of other males whilst the 'provider' was away. It seemed that nature was suggesting females could be promiscuous. Later that night she had a talk with Jack about trying to find more suitable role models in the natural world.
.... There is more of this story ...