June 1st Dear Diary:
Please excuse the messy writing; it is so hard to have good penmanship on a train. Yes, Diary, I am on a train traveling from London to York and thence to Brasethwaite Castle. I am going there for a month of Bed Training. Poppa says that all the smart people are taking it and so must I before I go away to Girton College in the fall. Momma was worried about the idea until Poppa reassured her that virginity has no value in a bride any longer. After all, my dear little nephew Phillip was born only five and a half months after brother Theo married Jane and no one has had anything unkind to say about the matter.
Lady Alexandra is well known in the country gentry and we have heard nothing but the best kind of gossip about her. She assured Poppa via the post that almost all the graduates of her school go on to brilliant marriages. I wonder what the others do.
June 2nd Dear Diary:
This has certainly been a surprising day! I arrived in York after an excellent breakfast in the restaurant car. I was still digesting the eggs, sausage, kidneys and pudding on the platform when this elegant steam car arrived to take us to Brasethwaite. That is correct, Diary, I said us. It appears that this training session has three other students besides me. There is Cora, a cheerful ginger young lady from Edinburgh, Thomas from outside of Kent and a brilliant young Anglo-Indian named Rudyard. He says his parents loved the lake by that name so much they named him after it. I think that both odd and very nearly cruel but he seems to be a fine young man in spite of it. His father is a professor of art so I suppose one must expect such eccentricity.
The ride in the steam car was exhilarating! The driver, Wilkinson, went very fast and we all hung on for dear life. I was told that car can actually exceed forty-five miles per hour. One wonders how the human body can withstand such pressure.
Brasethwaite Castle is my new home for the next month and a grand one it is. I said as much to Lady Alexandra and she sniffed and said that it was the very devil to keep up. My amazement at such language must have shown on my face because she laughed and told me that country folk are forthright in their opinions and that I needed to get used to it.
Mme. Babbette, the headmistress, is from Normandy and her accents in both French and English are a bit hard to follow. However, she is a warm and cheerful lady. I believe Poppa would call her 'earthy'. She explained that since we are all here for bed training, we must be ready for bed at all times. We were sent to our rooms to change into what we will wear for the next month. If I did not have some idea of my purpose here I would be appalled. I am allowed only a camisole, pantalettes, and slippers. For meals we can dress up in silk caftans. Mama would have to go for a lie down. She spends three hours every day making clothes and here I am, among the peers, wearing little more than a few pocket handkerchiefs. I must admit that it feels very free in comparison to my usual dress.
I have been assigned a room all to myself! The bed is rather large but Mme. Babbette says that it has to be so we can do homework. I have not the slightest idea what that was supposed to mean.
June 3rd Dear Diary:
At breakfast this morning we had visitors. A Dr. Roger Merely and his companion dined with us. She is the famous mathematician and notorious copulist Mia La Touche. Rudyard tells me that Mme. Babbette and her husband, Maître Hercule, trained her. They must be very good because all the men in the room clustered about her like bees around sugar syrup. I think she is sweet, though, and she spoke to each one of us individually. She asked me what my plans were and when I told her I had been admitted to Girton she was impressed. She admonished me that a bed trained young lady with a university education should not let herself get rushed into marriage. She herself never attended university but was taught mathematics by Maître Hercule. She also told me that now that she is an independent woman, the world is her oyster. I asked if she was going to marry Dr. Merely and she laughed. She said she would not and was looking for a proper wife for him, one who would share. I have no idea what that was supposed to mean.
After breakfast we were sent to our rooms to rest. Mme. Babbette says that we must never attempt any of our lessons on a full stomach but must digest our meals first. The room is exotic. There is a large, filmy, black curtain hanging from the ceiling all around the bed. I have counted eight candles and an incense burner on tall stands. There are no chairs in the room but there are several very large pillows with tassels on their corners lying in a pile on the floor. Mama will be glad to know that the windows seal well and that there are no drafts. The pictures on the walls are naughty.
After our rest we all met in a large room. Mme. Babbette calls it the lecture hall and that the laboratory is through the doors to the south. We did not go there today. Today's lesson was all about proper breathing. We must learn to breathe very deeply when we are in bed with someone, she says, so we practiced breathing. It made me light-headed and giggly. Mme. Babbette said that was perfectly normal. We are putting a great deal of oxygen into our bodies that way and it makes us feel good and happy. I shall practice breathing every day.
After lunch we were told to bathe and that the bath is down the hall. Following instructions I took a Turkish towel and a change of clothing. Imagine my surprise when the door to the baths opened onto a conservatory! It was so lush and tropical. There were palms and vines and orchids and the bath was a warm pool in the center. Several of the more advanced young lady students were already there lounging about the sides. I was pointed to a shower and told to wash off with French milled soap before getting into the pool. It was embarrassing to wash myself before so many eyes but Gloria, a second month girl, said I should get used to being watched by women because I would soon be watched by men. I am still blushing.
June 4th Dear Diary:
My goodness but there is a lot to learn! After breakfast Dr. Merely gave us a magic lantern show on human anatomy. Diary, I never dreamed that my insides were so complex. We were shown diagrams that described how the man's parts and the woman's parts work and how they interact. We tried very hard not to giggle. After the lecture we were sent back to our rooms with diagrams to study. Mme Babbette says that we should use pastel pencils to color in the diagrams. She also told us that we were to learn the proper names of each part. There are a lot and I can just tell that she will test us on them. I spent the morning studying hard and practicing my breathing.
After lunch and a nap, we were taken upstairs to the ballroom for waltz lessons. I am sorry to admit that I blushed the entire way up the stairs. All the staff could see us in our underthings! Poor Thomas and Rudyard were bare-chested and it must have been very difficult for them. Fortunately, it did not take long.
Maître Hercule is a stern dance master. He walks around in polished boots with a riding crop stuck into the top. He never hits anyone with it but gestures furiously when we get something wrong. I danced with Rudyard and Maître Hercule nearly tore his hair out. He grabbed Rudyard's left hand and made him put it in the center of my back. That gave me such chills, to have a man's hand on my bare back and my chest pressed against his. Our dancing went better after that.
We bathed again before bed time. I have come to greatly enjoy the fall of hot water over my skin and also sitting neck deep in it. I believe I shall miss the baths most of all when we leave.
Whenever we are all together, Rudyard keeps looking at me sideways. I think he likes me.
June 5th. Dear Diary:
This morning we went into the laboratory for our morning lesson. I have no idea what I expected a bed training laboratory to look like but I could not have imagined the reality. In the front of the room was a table with rubber models, very life-like rubber models of both men's and women's parts. I am sure I turned bright red. There were padded benches for us to sit on and in the rear of the room were actual beds! At least there are curtains that can be drawn around them. I know I do not want to be watched when I am in bed with someone.
Mme Babbette began to introduce us to the models. She put them in our hands. I'm sorry to say that it was all I could do to keep from dropping them. The girls started with the women's models and the boys started with the men's. Mme Babbette demonstrated diverse stroking methods we could use to give ourselves pleasure and then sent us back to the beds to practice on ourselves! I climbed into the bed farthest away from everyone else and pulled the curtains tight. I thought perhaps to just sit there and wait until the others were finished but Mme Babbette has dealt with shy young ladies for years and knew my mind better than I did. She reached in through the curtains and insisted that I remove my garments and hand them to her. When I had done so, she told me that I must start stroking my parts at once and that if I do not, she would know it. I obediently complied.
.... There is more of this story ...