Monday, February 24, 2014

A Victorian wedding day like no other: The Second Notebook

At long last the second Victorian recension has appeared, gathering together the disparate bits from the main thrust (as it were) of EXPLORATIONS in books 25-32. It's called The Second Notebook of Emily Orn Wilkes, Secret Countess of Wessulk, and it's even more chock-full of Victorian BDSM than its predecessor. Above all, the wedding-night of Victorian Emily and her bridegroom Edmund does in fact happen. Here's how it starts:
Brightly dawned my wedding day, the fourth day of June, 1872. I have already told you, in the first part of my narrative, some of my waking thoughts upon that morning, when I contrasted those thoughts to what passed through my fancy on waking at Smith’s the previous day: how (on the morning of my wedding day) I was at first surprised to be wearing a night-dress, and then even more surprised to find in my heart a deep gratitude to Mrs. Smith; I shall not bore you with a lengthy reprise, but rather proceed with my tale in the more or less chronological fashion I have employed hitherto. 
Polly, one of Mrs. Smith’s strapping young women, was still asleep on her cot at the foot of my bed. As I looked down my bed to her sleeping form, I will confess that I wondered for a moment whether she might be a sound enough sleeper that I could quench the fire in whose grip I had once again awoken. Surely, thought I, if I pulled my night-dress up, it would sound only like the rustle of bed-clothes. . . and if I bit down hard enough on my collar, I could keep quiet. . . 
Visions of what Polly might do—the gagging, the cane I knew was in the special trousseau inside her valise now stored away in my own closet—did not help soothe the ache I felt. But as I began, oh, so slowly to pull at my lap and so to raise the hem of my night-dress, and felt the thin cotton begin to move so teasingly over my bare charms, I suddenly stopped. Where my governess’ hair-brush and the family cane had been utterly unable to prevent me in my lewd pursuits, Mrs. Smith’s razor and her hand had worked the seemingly impossible.
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When the door of the coach had been closed by the footman, and I had waved out the window to my receding family, and then sat back, looking down at my hands, folded in my lap, I began to weep, very softly, with the sheer excess of emotion. Edmund reached over and took my hand in his. I turned my head to look into his eyes, and to my great surprise found them kindly.  
“I realize,” my husband said, “dear Emily, that I won your body with my cheque-book. It is now my fondest hope that I might win your heart with my affection. You are the loveliest creature I ever saw.” With his right fore-finger he lifted my chin, gently; he bent his head, and our lips met for the first time. His kiss was tender, but somehow commanding, too, and it made me shiver. “Thank you for making me the happiest man in the world today.”  
Despite myself (for you will not be surprised to hear that I had decided he was a monster, and had not been dissuaded from that view by his pleasing demeanor all that day), I was touched by his words, which seemed sincere. Given the utter invisibility of the great drama from the conventional world to one who is not party to the different reality beneath, it had not seemed strange that Edmund would be perfectly pleasant in his address when my family were present; but now, I had supposed, the next scene of the drama was to begin. I will confess that a part of me was impatient. “Why then have you degraded me in this manner?”  
In this notebook, imagined as passed down to me from my great-great-grandmother, Emily Orn continues her initiation into a great drama of BDSM in Victorian England. Under the stern instruction now of her bridegroom, Emily at last learns what it means to serve his pleasure. 

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