Chapter Thirty-Four

Of the party and those present

Dear reader, I am sure you have wondered, throughout the telling of these heinous villainies, why I may speak freely of persons who are still amongst us. Despite my coquette heart, I have laboured to give you a full account of the progress of this matter, but it has not been without some subterfuge. I have had to make subtle changes to certain names in order to protect reputations and ensure that no lawsuit will be brought against me. That said, they will know who they are by their actions, herein described. Many however, bear their true names and they are bystanders, if not entirely innocent, then certainly blameless on the count of murder.

One such blameless individual, though most definitely not an innocent, was James Boswell Esquire. I did not expect to see him in our parlour that night. I did not expect to ever see him again, save perhaps from a distance, in the theatre or through a bookshop window. Yet there he was. He occupied a place by the table. Constance was seated in his lap and he feasted on morsels of food from her cleavage. I paid him scant attention, but reminded myself that he had spoken honestly with me about Westman, and may yet have further information to impart. 

I was very tired from my most recent torment, not least because the effects of the tincture had worn off, but also because I had eaten very little since breakfast. I must say, I was surprised I had any energy left, save that now I was home I felt more relaxed than I had in a long time. I paid no mind to the tuneless sounds coming from our musicians, or to the cackle of our nuns’ voices. As to the grunts and moans of men enjoying such delicacies as Venus offered, I simply smiled and nodded and allowed their hands to roam freely as I passed. I filled a plate with cold meats and picked at it, whilst flirting gaily with a young man who had drunk rather too much than was good for him. My eyes ranged over our maids here assembled and I thought we must now raise our game. We were, for the most part, all arch jades. We worked our cullies hard, but must work them harder still if we were to bring this house out of the mire of deceit and decrepitude to which it had sunk.  The thought gave me much strength. I was no longer the house whore who worked hard to line the pocket of a bawd and her pimp. I was on the way up. Where once I had pretended to airs and graces, now I had status. I was a Lord’s mistress. It was a good feeling.

I bumped Priss, who straddled her cully as if riding him to hell and back. An elderly satyr held a plum aloft and I threw back my head and sucked at it greedily. I caught sight of Mother Shadbolt trading lies with Lucius, who watched from the doorway, his eyes all a glow in the firelight. There was something about him - something eminently magical. I promised I would learn more of that man before the night was out.

I glanced at Daisy in the corner. She was about to receive the velvet tip of some man’s champion between her lips. To think that I worried about her, yet here she was, the very model of carnal desire. Then there was Lizzie, whose thighs were spread, yet who knew no shame in it, for what shame is there in earning a guinea, rather than stealing it? Her mind was as dull as a blade that had seen war first hand, but she was popular, after a fashion.

For myself, I preferred to offer my temptations in the privacy of my room. I was nothing if not provocative and found this by far the best way of inflaming men’s passions, and thus, emptying their pockets. I reached across the table to lift the carafe of wine, and a young man, whose hair flowed in disorderly curls, his face thin and pale, stroked the inside of my arm with a soft finger. I trained my eyes on his and pursed my lips. He shuddered and pulled me close. I felt him hard against my stomach, yet I kept my wits. Lord Appleby was expected. I did not wish to be caught in a compromising position. Not when there were higher stakes to play for than a guinea or two from a rake with wandering hands.

I excused myself and closed on Bozzy. He had one hand under Mary’s petticoats, whilst with the other he fed her titbits of food. I dipped a curtsey to him and he flashed a smile, turned his attention back to Mary, but then gave me a second, longer look, when I did not leave their side. 

“You are?” He searched for my name.

“Kitty,” I replied. “We met at the theatre.”

“Ah. Yes. Intolerable nonsense, which I endure for the sake of propriety,” he said. He turned away from Mary wholesale and slapped his thigh. “Come. Sit.”

Graciously, Mary gave way to my interruption. I did not sit as indicated, on Bozzy’s lap, but instead took the chair Mary had vacated.

“Do you have a moment sir?” I asked. I did not wish to engage with him in any way other than to speak plainly.

“You are very polite. I’ve always got a moment for a pretty wench,” he said, and took up the carafe of porter. “I’ll bet you fuck as good as any other, though I have it in mind you are not for taking tonight. Am I right?”

I sighed. “You have found me out sir. I am indisposed.”

“Never stopped a man before, but I understand,” he said.

I lowered my voice. “You were kind enough to point William Westman out to me. You know he is Lord Appleby’s brother?”

“Of course. I thought everyone knew that,” he said.

“What do you make of Lord Appleby?”

Bozzy frowned. “Ah, George Westman. Now there’s a man who likes to think of himself as enlightened – and he may well be, but he does not keep the best of company. He is indiscreet, but then, aren’t we all from time to time?” 

Here he gave out a laugh and took as swig from his glass.

“But he is an honest man, you would say?” I asked.

“He is much taken up with experiments and, I have heard, with regaining that which he has lost.”

“What do you mean, lost?” 

Bozzy slid a hand under my chin and held my head up. I allowed him to turn my face this way and that.

“You are quite beautiful. You could do better than this whorehouse. Would you like me to arrange to have your portrait painted?”

“You could do that?” I said. What an intriguing thought – my portrait. No one would deny my status if I had a portrait painted.

“I am sure I could persuade someone. Reynolds for instance? He has a penchant for pretty young things and was in love with your namesake.”

“Kitty Fisher. We all mourned her passing,” I said. I had not known Miss Fisher well, but I understood her to be a remarkable woman and one who had reached the zenith of our profession. 

Bozzy leaned in and kissed my lips. He did not linger. In fact, he was quite shy about it, given he was used to snatching amorous attention from the dirty morts who ply their trade on London Bridge. I was quite glad of his reticence, for I did not care to think what diseases he carried.

“You are quite as lovely as she,” he said. “I will arrange it if you wish.”

“Perhaps,” I replied. “What do you know of Lord Appleby’s business interests?”

“My dear, you may not ask a man about another’s business interests. It is of no consequence to a woman.”

“It is of consequence to this woman.” I gazed upon Bozzy in a frank manner. 

“Ah… He has not so much bought this house as you. It is all over town. Our Lord Appleby has a new mistress.  I’ll wager you have a mind to hold his purse strings. Well, my dear, he has no purse. He is a bankrupt. It is only a matter of time before he is removed from his Cavendish Square property and then where will he be? I must say, you are somewhat slow-witted,” said Bozzy. 

I took offence at his words, but did not reprimand him. 

He continued: “I’ll tell you where you’ll be. Your Lord wishes to establish a Transit of Venus; an Emporium of Conjugality; a Temple of Hymen, and here he will live in his seraglio.”

I frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Is there not a complicated relationship between matter and spirit?” He became conspiratorial.

“I do not know,” I said. I glanced at Mother Shadbolt and then Lucius. Both had their eyes on me. I leaned in close to Bozzy. “Explain it to me,” I said.

Bozzy licked his lips. “I will take one night with you. One night and you will fuck me like a ten guinea whore, but charge only one. Do you have the pox? I have brought protection, but if you are clean, then I may not use it, for it is all the more exciting without.”

“Tell me about Lord Appleby,” I said, forcefully.

“Not until you receive my gift,” he said, and he began to unbutton his breeches. 

The time had come to extract myself from the situation. 

“How would you prefer it?” I replied. 

“Up, down, any way you please,” he said. 

He clutched at his glass and downed the dregs of his porter. “More,” he shouted and banged the glass down on the table. The bowl shattered in his hand and cut his palm. He appeared not to notice. Instead, he reached out to grab my face between his hands and kissed me so hard I could not breathe. I returned his kiss and pushed him gently away. I felt his blood on my cheek. He played with my fingers and he pressed my hand against his hardness and rubbed it up and down, up and down. Oh, but I did not wish to be forced into a liaison with Bozzy, for he was a dirty little philanderer and, for all that he had a way with words, I did not wish to be used by him in this way.

I glanced at Mother Shadbolt, who watched all from her corner by the fire. She flicked a hand towards Lucius and he, immobile in the doorway until now, took a couple of strides and lifted Bozzy from his seat with one hand.

 “If I remember rightly, you have not offered payment for anything more than dinner and flirtation,” said Mother Shadbolt. “Shall I have our new bully here shake the money out of you?”

Bozzy struggled in Lucius’s grasp. Mother Shadbolt indicated that he could drop his captive to the ground.

“Madam, the women of the street are as good a fuck as any here.” 

He reeled. I sighed and shook my head. Mother Shadbolt, to her credit, noted my reluctance and, whereas once she would have insisted that I service a paying visitor, did no more than clench her teeth, screw up her face and nod to me in agreement.

“Then you may take yourself out of our house and go find a queer mort who will oblige,” she said. “This one is bought and paid for.”

Lucius pushed Bozzy towards the door. 

“But I’ve offered her a guinea. Look, I can go to two. She can’t be worth more than that,” Bozzy cried. “Appleby is a swell, ‘tis true, but then so am I. So am I.” He prodded his chest hard.

Mother Shadbolt turned to me. “You wish to take him to your bed? He isn’t going otherwise and his money is as good.”

I looked from Mother Shadbolt to Lucius and then to Bozzy. 

“Come. Let me show you something,” I said to him, and I beckoned him follow me. 

He laughed and fell against the wall. I teased his tormented pole through his breeches, and smiled flirtatiously, but instead of going up the stairs, I went down to the Russell Street entrance. Here I leaned back against the door and allowed him to kiss my neck before I spun him round, opened the door and thrust him out. As I slammed the door in his face, I saw his pursed lips coming for mine. What horror! I was well rid of him.

Now, dear reader, you may think it strange that I would be repulsed by such a man. After all, he was only drunk and overly amorous. You must understand though, there are some who, despite appearances, make me shudder to think of them on me. I do admit, I have a passion for dangerous men, but Bozzy did not so much present a danger to me as to himself. Besides, I wished to be rid of all so I might think on the conundrum: two murders, a ship and now a Temple of Hymen? What did it all mean?


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