Chapter Sixteen

In which I am forced to appear grateful

You would be forgiven for thinking that my Sunday might be free for more virtuous pursuits than the business of sex, but alas, without I work, I am but a poor beggar. I had just enough time to change my garb for a silk bedgown, woven by the Spitalfield Huguenots and stitched by Mrs. Flavell and her nimble-fingered girls in James Street. I must admit, I was most pleased with my attire and asked that Daisy attend me to dress my hair. I wish always to look my best, even when I will be brought to nakedness in such short time as it takes a man to undress me with his eyes, let alone his hands.

I toasted the health of the Reverend Bullock with a glass of gin and ate a light lunch in preparation for the rigours ahead. At one o’ the clock Lord Appleby made himself known to our bully on the Russell Street door and was shown into the parlour. He was accompanied by his black servant. This man wore a very fine livery and had upon his head an extremely well-made periwig. I thought him good-looking in an unusual way. He bowed low, his eyes never leaving my face. I cast Mother Shadbolt a sideways look, but her mind was on the money, as ever. She negotiated the terms with Lord Appleby in sotto voce. Lord Appleby gave a slight nod and kissed my hand. As he did, so he lifted his eyes to mine. I could see the lust therein and wondered what had befallen my dear friend Polly, that he had brought himself to me in order to satiate his needs. We left his manservant in the parlour and retired to my boudoir. I offered Lord Appleby a glass of gin and teased a strand of my hair while he looked on in silence. 

“Polly has turned me away,” he said, eventually. A smile played on his lips and around his eyes in a most charming manner.

“Ah.” I understood. He was infatuated with her, but she had continued to refuse his advances; due in part, I surmised, to his not being able to provide for her every need. In short, she was holding out for more and he was reluctant to proceed.

“You made an impression on me,” he said, moving closer. 

I placed a hand on his chest to stay his advance. 

“Sir, I will go no further if you lie to me about Polly.”

“I do not lie. She has found another. Someone more able to meet her pecuniary needs.”

He seemed utterly crestfallen, though I thought it a ruse. I sat on the bed and removed my shoes. 

“You are not rich then?” I teased. “But I thought the aristocracy always wealthy. You have enough to pay for me.”

Lord Appleby unbuttoned his coat and loosened his ruffled neckpiece. 

“It is not that I have no money. It is that it is tied up in my business and I have certain scientific interests I wish to fulfil. I must make every attempt to act responsibly. If I don’t then… then my children will suffer. I would not wish for that.”

I slipped off my stockings. He removed his coat and unbuttoned his waistcoat.

“You have children?”

“Two. A boy and a girl. The boy is a rogue. The girl, a coquette. But they are grown. Certainly the boy is, ah… off somewhere with his mother, no doubt. The girl… well, Selina is a constant worry.” He sighed. “I must find her a suitable husband.” He tickled me under my chin. “I cannot fritter away my income on just anyone.”

I laughed. He was ‘frittering’ away his income on me. 

“But I do not understand. You wished to make Polly your own. You said you could not marry her and I told you she had been sold out of marriage by her blackguard of a husband.  She could have become your mistress, but for what? Her desire for a large house? You are a gambling man perhaps?” I let slip the ties on my bedgown.

“Me? Gamble? From time-to-time perhaps. The horses and boxing. Nothing more unusual. Perhaps a game of hazard or faro, now and then.” 

He unbuttoned his shirt and I noticed he had become aroused. I smiled and watched him struggle with his breeches and stockings.

“Are you not supposed to help me with this?” he enquired. 

If his son was a rogue, then I knew from whom he got it.

“Ordinarily, but these are not ordinary circumstances are they?” I replied.

He stood in his bare feet, his member protruding from between his open shirt front.

“Well, you have me at a disadvantage,” he said.

I eased myself back onto the bed. I still wore my stays and petticoat, yet beneath I was naked.

“And what of your wife?” I asked 

“She ran off with her dance instructor. She’s not young, but I suppose she is desirable to some.”

“Ah… and you give her money.”

“She has bled me dry these five years gone. But I do not wish to discuss her.” 

I shrugged. His wife was none of my business after all. Many men have wives, but take mistresses. More still, have both and yet still find the need for a whore.

“What would you have me do?” I enquired. “I might allow you to take me on my back…” I threw my hand up above my head and looked aloft. “Or perhaps you prefer that I take you.” 

I sat up suddenly and pulled him towards me. I tasted his hot mouth on mine and felt an unexpected keenness in my loins. 

“I have wished for this since first I saw you,” he said. His breath was quick. His desire all-consuming. 

“Sir, would prefer to use a cundum for protection?” I said. 

He bit my lip, kissed my cheek, clenched a handful of my hair and pulled my head back, such that he might ravish my décolletage. 

“I have never liked them,” he replied. “Do you have the pox?”

“No. Not now.” At least, I did not think so.

“Ah,” he said. “Then all is well.” 

I felt his hands beneath my petticoat and groaned. I could not help myself. It is rare that I feel anything other than a desire to be done with the deed as quickly as possible, but Lord Appleby was a consummate lover and knew exactly what a woman wanted. He toyed with me until I could contain myself no longer. I gave myself over to that passion which is entirely selfish. Before I had time to recover, he plunged into my midst and with much force and enjoyment, brought himself to completion. It was swift, but sweet. 

“You are a delight, Miss Ives,” he said.

“You are too kind,” I replied. His wig had fallen off and I could see the dark brown curls of his hair set against the white of my linen. He lifted himself up on one arm and rested his head thus, teasing the skin of my breasts, which were still encased in my stays.

“Do you have others this afternoon?” he said. “Or am I the only one?”

“There are always others,” I said. A whore cannot pick and choose though, at that time, if allowed such a thing, I would have chosen to spend my afternoon entirely in the arms of Lord Appleby.

“That is a shame,” he said.

“It is,” I replied. 

I did something then that is completely unlike the persona I had created for myself in order to live in this world; I kissed his forehead, not with passion, not with lust, but with something akin to love. I felt his skin against mine and I breathed in the rose-water scent he used on his hair. I had never loved a man for himself. I wondered what it would be like to lose one’s heart in such a way.

“May I visit you again?” he said.

“That is in your gift,” I replied. 

He sighed deeply and flung himself back on the bed. 

“Would that my life was as easy as yours,” he said.

“You think this an easy life? When I am to service all who come to me?” I sat up and threw him his breeches. “Take yourself from me.”

“I did not mean to offend.”

“What then?” He annoyed me. He had acted so tenderly, so passionately, so lovingly, but he had no understanding of my situation. I had been duped into the possibility of giving my heart to him.

“Women are a mystery to me,” he said. He struggled back into his breeches, buttoned them, and then his shirt. “I apologise.” 

His eyes gazed softly on me. Did I perceived a different man beneath the charming countenance he wore as armour? I poured two glasses of gin from the bottle on the table and offered him one. He took it gratefully.

“I am but a worthless individual who is consumed by lust for the female form. I would not however, debase myself with such sorry creatures as are found on the streets. I meant only that you have an easy time of it by comparison.”

He allowed me to hold out his waistcoat. Then he sat on the chair and buckled his shoes. 

“I do not understand. Until very recently you were in love with Polly. Am I to believe your heart has moved so swiftly from her? If so, then you are fickle indeed,” I said.

Lord Appleby sat back in the chair. 

“I am a fool. It is true. I thought myself in love with her, but it was simply infatuation brought on by her refusal. Rest assured, I am not in love with you.”

“I am glad to hear it.” I appeared bright and cheery, but my heart sank a little. Oh, that I would truly win a man’s heart and he, mine.

“But,” he went on, “you are plain talking and educated, after a fashion. You spoke honestly about Polly even when you did not know me.  I am intrigued by you.”

He donned his coat, picked up his wig and tricorn, and fastened his sword on its belt about his waist. 

“Wait,” I said. “Would you do something for me?”

“Ask it.”

“There is a gambling club on Exeter Street.” I was thinking of the note I had found on the dead man in the Church.


I know now he knew more of it than he said, but that will keep for later in my tale.

“I want to visit the club. Can you arrange it?”

“Surely, you may come and go quite freely? Women are amongst the chief gamblers,” he said. 

“At the tea table or in private, ’tis true. I may attend, but I have a good reason for wishing to do so on your arm.”

“Why? Do you wish to cheat the house, or bring some poor man to his knees? Do you wish to perpetrate a crime? I cannot support that,” he said.

I laughed. “Men frequently bring themselves to their knees for me. You think you have not indulged in crime this very afternoon?”

“That is different,” he said, quickly.

“All I will say at the moment is that it rather more to unmask a crime than to commit one.” 

I poured another tot of gin.

“Tell me of it,” he said. 

He came back fully into the room, took the glass from my hand and drank the contents.

“It will take some time and I must know if I can trust you.”

“You can, but I suppose you need to have more knowledge of me than an afternoon’s lovemaking.”

“Yes,” I said. “We have indulged our base nature, but it does not mean I can trust you with my life. If I tell you what I know, I will need to know you are entirely trustworthy.” 

He considered. “Very well. I will go with you to Harrington’s, but only if you first come with me to Northumberland House. I have been invited to a masquerade.  Attend and you will be in the best of company and have time to assess whether you may trust my intentions or not. Are we agreed?”

I nodded. I could not believe my ears - Northumberland House! It was an honour I could not refuse. 

“Very well. I will send you a costume.  You would be a nymph?”

“That would be most delightful,” I replied.

“Good.” He frowned, but it changed quickly to a smile. “I bid you adieu, sweet lady.”


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