The Interesting Story of Pimping
Lord Henry Broadford & Major Stone
An interesting little lesson on Victorian morality, or the complete lack of it in this case. This one of a few stories I have unearthed through collecting stories Victorian, Military or immoral in nature.
This particular story I found as an extract taken from a complete memoir published by a "Captain C Deveureux of the General Staff." Deveureux is a pseudonym. This name and others in the book appear to be distortions of real figures in India. The memoir published in two volumes was titled �Venus in India�Eor �Love Adventures in Hindustan�E
Soubratie, hearing I was going to Mess, got out my nice new clean white mess clothes, and also adorned himself gorgeously, and, armed with a lantern, saw me safely across the compound and ankle-deep-in-dust road to the Mess of the regiment, where I was going to partake of the hospitality of the generous 130th. Is it any use describing the ante-room, with its swinging punkahs, chairs, tables, pictures, carpets, books, newspapers, trophies of the chase, etc., etc. Shall I tell how the stiff and important Adjutant welcomed me in a proper and distant style; the Colonel with an "inspection-like" look at me; the other officers, whom I had not yet met, with polite "glad to see you" on their lips and "I wonder what the devil kind of fellow you are" glances of their eyes? Most regiments are alike; when you have seen one you have seen all.
The English officer is undoubtedly a fearful "stick", and of all dreary humdrum lives Mess life is the most dreary. But under all that air of ennui and boredom their is a more gay, naughty, wicked, devil-may-care current, which forms the pith of the officer's life, and I knew well that when a good dinner had been eaten, a good share of fairly good wine drunk, and cigars and "pegs" had become the evening fare, I should hear a great deal more than I was likely to at the dinner table, where propriety and stiffness more or less rule the roast.
Accordingly, as I was new, I heard old stories of the war, the operations in and out of Kabul, tales of savage cowardly cruelty on the part of the Afghans, with an occasional growl at the generals and authorities, who, it seemed, must have been timid to a degree, or far greater results would have accrued from the valour of the British troops. I knew how to discount all this, and listened with interest, more or less affected, to my new friends' conversation and views.
But the "cloth off the table" brought the subject that is always congenial to the front. Woman, lovely woman, began to be discoursed! My young acquaintance J. C.'s statement as to the complete absence of girls from Tommy Atkins' quarters in Afghanistan and the consequent immense demand for women on his return to civilisation and comfort, was immediately confirmed. In those days (it has been very recently altered) a regulation obliged a certain number of native girls to be specially engaged for the service of each regiment, and these ladies of the camp accompanied their regiments wherever they marched in India, just as much a part of them as the Colonel, adjutant, quartermaster, and paymaster. But Tommy likes variety as well as other people, and as in every place where there is a "Bazaar", or shops, there are establishments for ladies of pleasure, these latter earn a good many four-anna bits which should by rights find their way into the pockets of the proper regimental whores.
The recent influx of troops into Peshawar from Afghanistan had created an enormous demand for whores, and Nowshera, Attock, even Rawal Pindi, Umballa, and other places had been denuded of "Polls", who gathered like birds of carrion where the carcass lay. This was a great grievance for the officers of the gallant 130th, who were almost as badly off for women as they had been when they had been at Jellalabad and Lundi KotaI, at which latter place a Ghurka soldier, who had caught a bad clap from some native woman, was universally spoken of as "the lucky Ghurka", not because of the clap, bien entendu, but because, though he suffered afterwards he had managed to secure for himself a pleasure so uncommon under the circumstances that it seemed like water a thousand miles distant to a traveller lost in the great Sahara!
Once the subject of love and women was set rolling the tongues of those who had been most reticent during dinner were set wagging and I found a most entertaining host in a fat, podgy, double-chinned major, who seemed to take a fancy to me. He proposed that we should adjourn outside, where the band of the regiment was performing some operatic airs and lively dance music, and there we sat, in those voluptuous Madras long armed chairs, enjoying whatever of coolness there was in the air, the sound of the suggestive music, and the brilliancy of the myriad�s of bright stars which glittered overhead, literally "like diamonds in the sky."
"Searle, our brigade major, said he would come this evening," said the major, "but I rather think he won't !"
"Why?" I asked.
"Because he is struck with a very pretty little woman in the Dak bungalow."
This I guessed was a shot at me.
"Indeed! Well! I hope he will succeed and get his greens, poor chap!"
"Oh! Do you? Well! We were all saying that it was a damned shame, because we had all made up our minds that you were surely in her good graces yourself, and we thought it mean of Searle to try and cut in whilst you were out! ha! ha! ha!"
"Oh!" I said quietly, "but I am a married man, Major, and have only just left my wife, and I don't go in for that sort of thing! So, as far as I am concerned, Major Searle is welcome to the lady, if I can persuade her to grant him her favours." "Well, but Searle is a married man himself, Deveureux"
"Ah, I dare say! I did not mean to imply that a married man is impervious to the charms of other women because he is married. I am not at all strait laced, and I dare say should be quite as liable as anybody else to long to have a woman who was not my wife, but you know I have not been married long enough to be tired of my wife, and I have not been long enough away from her to feel any great inclination to commit adultery yet!"
"Well, Searle is married - but he is a brute! Yet I somehow pity the poor devil too. I don't know how it is, but he and his wife a devilish fine woman, a perfect Venus in her way - don't get on well together; in fact she has left him!"
"Oh, my! Do you say so?"
"Yes. Now, mind you, Deveureux, you must not take me as your authority, but I can tell you that he treated that poor woman like a brute, half killed her with a blow from the side of his hairbrush; devilish nearly smashed her skull, you know; and after that she left him and went and set up on her own account at Ranikhet."
I am sure my dear readers are amused at my assuming the air and tone of a thoroughly moral young husband still content with the breasts of his spouse, as King Solomon - I think it is, tells us we ought to be. But of course I was not going to amuse my new friends, or indeed any others, with tales which somehow spread so quickly, and in rapidly widening circles, until they reach the ears of those we would least wish to hear them. Really and truly my heart and conscience pricked me when this conversation brought to mind my beloved little Louie, and I thought of her in her lonely bed, perhaps weeping in sad silence as she prayed for the safety, welfare, and quick return home of him whom she loved so dearly, who made her joyous by day and gave her her rapturous heaven at night : her husband, and the darling father of her angel baby girl! but alas! the spirit is willing and the flesh weak, as I have remarked before, and the weakness of the flesh exceeds in might the strength of the spirit.
But the conversation was bearing directly on the subject which had become interesting to me since I had seen Searle and heard Lizzie's indignant remark that his wife was a regular whore, whose price for her charms was, however, uncommonly high. I did not mind what my fat major said about Searle's supposed designs on Lizzie that evening back at the Dak Cottage, because Lizzie would have to have been a most unaccountably stupid deceiver if she had already expressed abhorrence of him to blind me! There would have been no need for it. No! I felt certain the abhorrence was real and true, and I had no fear that I should find that she had afforded him a retreat, either hospitable or the reverse, in her sweetest parts, when I got home to her again.
"How do you mean, set up on her own account, Major?" said I.
"Oh! Well! Look here! Bend your head a little nearer to me - I don't want to talk too loudly. Well! she has - the fact is any fellow, almost who cares to give her a cool five hundred rupees, can have her."
"Ah, bosh, Major! I can't believe that! Surely you are mistaking some ill-natured gossip for facts."
"Oh, no, I'm not!" replied my pudgy friend, speaking with great gusto. "By God, sir, if seeing is believing I can swear to it! I can swear to the fact !"
"What !" said I in well-affected incredulous tones, "you want to persuade me that an officer's wife, a lady like Mrs Searle must be, has actually done such a monstrous, not to say such an idiotic, thing as not only to leave her husband (a thing I can understand) but to set up as a whore, and in such a place as Ranikhet (a thing I can not understand!) Surely, Major, you are mistaken! Remember, we are told to believe nothing we hear and only half what we see.
"I know, I know," said he, still as calmly as if he were Moses. laying down the law. "But look here, Deveureux, you won't tell me I am a liar if I say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and that my proof of what I say is that I, Jack Stone, have had Mrs Searle, and paid for my game! Yes, sir - rupees five hundred did Jack Stone pay Mrs Searle, for a night in Mrs Searle's bed."
"Goodness! and you have actually - ?"
"I have actually had her, sir ! And a damned fine poke she is too, I can tell you, and well worth the five hundred she asks for the fun! Such a damned fine poke is she that Jack Stone, who is not a rich man but must lay by for a rainy day, has put three times five hundred rupees away in the Bank of Simla, and means to lodge them some day soon in the Bank of Ranikhet, Mrs Searle banker and sole proprietress, which bank is between her goloptious thighs! Do you mark that, young man!"
"And does Searle know this ?" I asked, still incredulous.
"What ? that I have had his wife ?"
"No, not that you in particular have had her, but that she is had by other men, and for money paid down on the nail."
"Know it? Of course he does! Why! it is her way of paying him off for his brutal conduct to her, to give him nuts by writing and telling him how nicely she is dragging his name through the mud!"
"'Then why does he not divorce her?" I cried indignantly, for I felt it was monstrous that a wife, no matter what her grievance might be, should behave in such an outrageous manner?
"Ah I - but sink your voice a little lower, Deveureux, not that all this is not perfectly well known by our fellows. But about the divorce. Well, you see, if what I have heard is true, a divorce is the last thing Searle can get or would care to ask for, no matter how much he may wish it could be managed. Certain little things would come out at the trial, and he might find himself not only minus a wife whom he hates, but also minus his liberty and what remains of his honour, and I don't think anyone would cause to become a convict even to rid himself of his wife!"
"What was it ?" asked I, quite bitten with curiosity.
"Oh, Searle was a long time in Persia before he married, and he got the Persian taste for boys. Twig? Sodomy, you know!" And the modest major sank his voice to a whisper: "Sodomy. Mrs Searle was naturally diggusted by the discovery and wouldn�t let him near her. It might have stopped there, but one night Searle, full of zeal and brandy, actually ravished his poor wife! Of course she gave him the nag-nag rough side of her tongue, until then he nearly killed her, as I told you, in his passion. Then off she went and set up at Ranikhet."
"But," said I, horrified to hear such a disgusting story, so loathsome on either side, "how is it she can demand such enormous sums, for which, I suppose, equally good returns can be got almost anywhere in India?"
"Oh, but you don't know. First of all, Mrs Searle is in Society she is, I suppose, the most beautiful woman in India, if not in all Asia."
"Yes, bless you! You don't understand! Now come - you who have seen the world at home. Have you not heard how Mrs So-and-so is suspected of poking? and yet you have met her, every night, at the best houses. Have you not seen buxom and fast women, who dare to do what your own wife and sisters dare not, and nobody says more than that they are fast? Do you suppose you know what women actually do poke, and those who only get the credit of it? It is, just the same with Mrs Searle. She lives in a pretty little bungalow, some three miles deep in the hills from Ranikhet: she calls it Honeysuckle Lodge, but the funny fellows call it Cunnyf**kle Lodge! Ha! ha! ha! And she has named the hill it is on Mount Venus. She stays there all the hot weather; in the cold weather she goes to Lucknow, or Meerut, or Agra, or Benares, or wherever she likes. No fellow has her without an introduction. The Viceroy is damned spooney on her, and that is sufficient to keep her fashionable. People suspect; people know; but people won't pretend to think it possible that this quiet lady, living in a little bungalow away from all the world, minding her garden and her flowers, is anything but a poor persecuted wife whose husband is a bastard."
"Oh, that is it. So to have her you must get an introduction?"
"Yes, without that you might as well cry for the moon."
"And how is it to be managed?" I asked out of simple curiosity, for I had no notion of having Mrs Searle but was interested in this curious story, of which I did not know exactly how much to believe and how much to discredit.
"Ha! ha! ha! Deveureux, I fancy you are beginning to think whether you can find five hundred rupees for yourself!"
"Not a bit of it!" said I indignantly, "I have no idea of such a thing! I simply asked out of curiosity."
"Well!" said the pudgy little major, puffing his cheroot hard as it had nearly gone out, "no harm telling you, anyhow. You can get an introduction from any man who has had her. I could give you one, for instance. See! This is how I had her. I had heard of Mrs Searle and had, like everybody else, heard funny reports about her, which, like I see you do now, I only half believed. Well, I did not then know she lived at Ranikhet, but chance made me pitch upon that place to spend three weeks' leave in, during the hot weather of '75. The Viceroy and his staff were spending a time there also, and everybody was wondering why he chose Ranikhet instead of Naini Tal. There is reason in everything, and Mrs Searle was his reason, no doubt. However, I must not be too long-winded. I met Lord Henry Broadford, the assistant military secretary, you know. Broadford had been at school with me, and is a damned good fellow. One day, soon after I went up to Ranikhet, I was standing talking with Broadford when the finest, handsomest woman I had ever seen walked by, and Broadford took off his hat and smiled, and she bowed. She looked full at me as I took off my hat too, and by George sir, she made my heart thump in my bosom, she was so lovely. When she was out of earshot I said, "Henry, who's your friend. By God! she is a clinker, and no mistake!'
"Don't you know?' says he. "Why! That's the famous Mrs Searle.'
" �Is it ?' says I, and then I asked him if he knew whether it was true that she poked, as people said. Broadford looked at me and grinned, and said:
" `Would you like to know for certain, Stone?
And I said `yes.' "
" `Well', says he, `the most certain way is to poke her yourself, for you might not believe me if I told you that I was in bed with her up to five o'clock this morning.'
" `I don't believe you, you beggar!' said I.
" `All right!' says he, `have you five hundred rupees to lose on a bet?"
"Well, I hesitated - five hundred is a large sum and the subject was not worth it. Seeing me hesitate, he said, `Well, would you give five hundred rupees to have Mrs Searle yourself, Jack?'
" `Yes !' said I, plump as could be."
" `Then come along with me', said Broadford."
"Well, we went to my hotel, and there Broadford made me write a cheque and get five one-hundred-rupee notes from the native banker, new and crisp, in exchange. Then he made me write a letter, addressed to Mrs Searle, in which I asked her might I come and take dinner with her on such-and-such a day, naming the date. I was more than half afraid the fellow was humbugging me, but he pulled out a case from his pocket and showed me a lovely photograph in it of a stark naked lady, and says he:
" 'Mrs Searle gives one of these to each of her lovers, and she gave me this this morning - see, her name, the date, and the Lumber of times I had her last night.'
"Well, I looked at the photo, and sure enough - there was no mistaking - it was the lady I had just seen, besides which I remembered having seen photos of her down in the plains.
"By God, sir! the sight of such lovely charms settled my hash. I told Broadford that he would have to bear the brunt if anything went wrong. He swore all would be right, and after I had signed my name to the note to Mrs Searle he added his initials and `W.T.B.F.' "
" `What did that mean ?' I asked.
" `Will there be f**k?' of course ! Well, this done, I put up the five good crisp notes and the letter, and we went to the post office, registered it, and then I began to think I had been made a fool of. But it was all right. A day afterwards I got a registered letter. It was from Mrs Searle. In it were my five notes. She said she was very sorry, but that she did not think she could have the pleasure of my company at dinner for another ten days. Would I write again in about a week's time, if that would suit me, and she would be sure not to disappoint me. I rushed off, found Broadford, and nearly had a fit of apoplexy from excitement. By his advice I waited some eight days, then sent another letter, and again enclosed the notes. And I added on my own hook `W.T.B.F.' Next came a letter by hand. It said `My dear Jack' this time! It invited me to dine the next evening, at eight, and ended with `Matilda Searle, T.W.B.F.' "
"And did you go ?"
"Oh ! what a question ! Of course I did ! By God ! sir, I was simply bursting! Even now I can hardly tell my story with any degree of quiet. Well, I went. I was received by her in an awfully pretty little drawing room, most beautifully furnished and bristling with knick-knacks, mirrors, pictures and everything that can make a room handsome and elegant. The floor was covered with a carpet into which one's feet sank as one walked on it. Mrs Searle was sitting, reading, when I arrived, and as soon as the bearer had gone out of the room she came and took my hand, and shook it, and then kissed me! I was so excited, and felt such a kind of false shame, that at first I was like a stuck pig! But she quickly put me at my ease, sat on a sofa, made me sit next her, jammed her knee against mine, and, whilst asking me where, how, when, I had known Lord Henry Broadford, she showed off her splendid shoulders and magnificent bosom. I was awfully randy on my way; I had been randy all the days I had been waiting for her, but I was so knocked over by the elegance I saw on first arrival that I declare, if the truth were told, I felt inclined to run away! But, little by little, as I got to see the woman I was going to have, as I began to hear her talk as if we were quite old chums, and as her hand played with mine, to say nothing of some kisses from time to time which she gave me, I began to pluck up courage. So, by way of showing her that I was no fool and expected something, I ,just made an offer to put my hand into her bosom, to take hold of one of her glorious bubbies, of which I saw nearly half over her dress. But she laughed and said it was not time for that yet - that when we had dined, and I had had my smoke, we would go to bed, where I should find her all I could wish for, and where I should have the fullest liberty, so long as I did not exceed the bounds which every honest man observed who had a woman.
"Well, I kissed her and begged her pardon. I had a rosebud in my buttonhole, and she took it out and said:
" `See! I place your rose where you shall be!' and she put it between her bubbies, and said:
" `'There it is; a rose among the lilies, but that is all of you that I can allow at present to be there!' "
"Well, sir, we had a splendid dinner. In spite of my love I did wire into a rattling good feed, and afterwards she made me smoke a cigar, and when it was nearly done she said she would go and undress and that, when I heard a little bell ring, I was to go to her bedroom, which she had already pointed out. Soon I heard the bell, and I went! Oh! I was delighted! By God! sir, I had had many fine women, but I never saw one who was a patch on Mrs Searle when undressed. She had on a quite transparent kind of night-gown, which covered her from neck to heels. It had no sleeves, and her arms were something splendid! Her bubbies looked more enticing, covered with this transparent stuff, than when I saw them bare. Her nipples looked like strawberries, red and luscious. I would have been able to see the rest of her then, but all the whole of the way from her chin to her feet, there was a broad, rose coloured ribband which fell exactly over it, so that I could only see a fringe of hair on either side, where it passed over her bush.
"I declare, Deveureux, I could not describe the night I had with her, for it would drive you wild, and you would be trying to slip into that woman at the Dak bungalow, and it would never do, you being, as you say, a married man. But I never, never, never had such a glorious night in my life! I might not be able to do as good a turn, now, as I did then. But I had that woman eight solid times, sir! Seven times before I went to sleep, and once in the morning. She said herself that I was too fat, and fat men are bad pokes as a rule. When I went away after she gave me a case, like the one Broadford showed me, and told me not to open it until I got home, and she said she relied on my not showing it to anyone unless I thought him a fit fellow for her to have: I'11 show it you now. Bearer I Khitmatgar! koi hai!" and the excited major shouted to the servants, one of whom came. By this orders the major's bearer brought a little writing despatch box, and from this he took a small case, some six inches, by four in size, and then, giving me a nudge, he walked to the ante-room of the Mess, which was deserted, and showed me a very well-executed photograph of a perfectly naked, good-looking woman. On the back of the photograph was written: "From Matilda Searle to Jack Stone -.15 June 1875."
"Now!" said the major, any time you would like to have that woman, you tip me a line, and I will give you the necessary introduction."
I thanked him heartily, but I must say I did not feel, tempted to give five hundred rupees for the favours of any woman just then, and mentally I made comparisons between my Lizzie and Mrs Searle which were not favourable to the latter, though, aocording to the photograph, she was certainly a fine woman.
"Deveureux", Venus in India, (1889)
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