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The Life and Adventures of Father Silas

The Life and Adventures of Father Silas

 

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CHAPTER ONE

When I look back at the strange vicissitudes that have chequered my existence, and compare the troubles of the past with the serenity of the present, I can scarcely regret the misfortune which made me retire from active service under the standard of the mighty Venus, and thus afforded me leisure to lay the fruits of my own bitter experience before those who may hereafter serve under the same banners.

I am the fruit of the incontinence of the reverend Celestine Fathers of the town of B*****. I say of the reverend Fathers, because all of them boasted of having contributed a share in the formation of my individual person. But what so suddenly arrests me? My heart is agitated – is it through fear that I shall be reproached with revealing the mysteries of the Church? Alas! I must overcome this compunction. Who does not know that all men are men, and especially the monks? they have certainly the faculty of cooperating in the propagation of the species; and why should we hinder them, when they acquit themselves so well in that particular?

Perhaps the reader is impatient for the commencement of a detailed account of my origin. I am sorry that I cannot so soon satisfy him on that head, but I will at once introduce him to the acquaintance of a worthy peasant, upon whom for a long time I looked as my father.

Ambrose, for that was the good man’s name, was gardener at a country house belonging to the Celestines, in a little village at some leagues from the town: his wife, Annette, was chosen for my nurse. She had brought a son into the world, who lived but a few days, and his death helped to conceal the mystery of my birth. This child was privately buried, and the offspring of the monks put in his place.

As I grew up, everybody supposed me to be the gardener’s son, as I myself also believed.

I may say, however, if the reader will pardon my vanity, that my inclinations betrayed my origin. I do not know what divine influence operates in the works of monks, but it seems that the virtue of the frock is communicated to every thing they touch. Annette was a proof of this. She was the most frisky female I ever saw, and I have seen a pretty number. She was stout, but somewhat attractive, with little black eyes and a turned-up nose, lively and amorous, and dressed rather better than peasants in general. She would have been an excellent makeshift for a respectable man; guess what she must have been for the monks.

When the jade was decked out in her Sunday corset, which enclosed a bosom that the sun had never browned, and allowed a glimpse of her breasts, struggling, as it were, to escape from its constraint; ah! how did I then feel that I was not her son, or that I was quite prepared to resign that honour.

My disposition was altogether monkish. Led by instinct, I never saw a girl without embracing her, or passing my hand over her wherever she would allow me; and although I did not positively know what I wanted, my heart told me that I should have gone further, had no opposition been offered to my transports.

One day, when they supposed me to be at school, I had remained at home in a little closet where I slept. A thin partition, against which a bed was placed, separated it from the chamber of Ambrose. I was asleep, it was the middle of summer and very hot; I was suddenly awakened by several violent pushes against the partition. I knew not what to think of this noise, which became still louder. I listened and could hear the sound of some few words, incoherent and indistinctly articulated.

“Ah! gently, my dear Annette, not so fast! Oh! hussy, you kill me with pleasure!... quick! oh! faster! oh! I am dying”

I was surprised at such exclamations, the force of which I could not understand. I sat up, but durst scarcely move. If they found me there I had much to fear: I knew not what to think, I was so excited. My uneasiness, however, soon gave way to curiosity. I heard the noise repeated, and thought I could distinguish the voices of Annette and someone, by turns, uttering the same words that had before attracted my attention. I continued to listen, till the desire to see what was going on in the chamber became so strong as to banish all my fears. I determined to ascertain what it was. I think I would have readily gone directly into the chamber for that purpose, whatever the danger of so doing might be; but that was not required. As I felt with my hand for some opening in the partition, I found one which was merely covered by a large picture. I made a hole through this, and what a sight! – There was Annette, as naked as my hand, stretched out on the bed, and Father Polycarp, the proctor of the convent, who had been at the house for some time past, as naked as herself doing... what? That which our first parents did when God commanded them to people the Earth, but under circumstances rather less lascivious.

This discovery produced in me surprise mixed with joy, and an acute and delightful sensation that I should have found it impossible to express. I felt as if I could have given every drop of my blood to be in the monk’s place. How I envied him the great happiness he appeared to enjoy! An unknown fire shot through my veins; my face reddened; my heart beat; I held my breath; and the pike of Venus, which I took in my hand, was stiff enough to knock down the partition, if I had pushed hard against it. The Father finished his career, and as he raised himself off Annette, he left her face overspread with the deepest red. She was panting for breath; her arms lying down, and her bosom heaved with astonishing rapidity. My eyes ran over every part of her body with inconceivable expedition; nor was there a spot on which my ardent imagination did not fix a thousand burning kisses. I sucked her bubbles, her belly; but the most delicious place, from which my eyes, when once they found it, could not be removed, was... You understand me. How charming did that jewel appear to me! Oh what lovely colouring! Although covered with a white froth, it lost in my eyes nothing of its brilliancy. By the delight I felt, I recognized in it the very focus of pleasure. It was shaded with black and curly hair. Annette lay with her legs parted, and it seemed as if her lechery was in accord with my curiosity, in order to leave me nothing to desire.

The monk having recovered his vigour, again presented himself to renew the combat; he remounted with fresh ardour, but his strength was not equal to his courage, and fatigued with fruitless efforts, he soon withdrew his instrument from Annette’s jewel, all powerless and drooping its head. Annette, disappointed at this retreat, took hold of it and began to rub it; the monk was in the utmost agitation, and appeared unable to bear the pleasure he experienced. I examined all their proceedings with no guide but nature, nor other instruction than the instance before me; and in my curiosity to learn the cause of the convulsive movements of the Father, I sought for it in myself. I was astonished at feeling a pleasure hitherto unknown to me, which gradually increased, till it became so intense that I fainted away on the bed. Nature made surprising efforts, and every part of my body seemed to participate in the pleasure afforded by that which I grasped. At length came the discharge of a white fluid, similar to what I had observed on the thighs of Annette, which soon dissipated my ecstasy, and I then returned to the aperture in the partition: however, all was over; the last game was played out. Annette was dressing herself, and the Father had already adjusted his clothing. I remained some time, my head and heart still occupied with the incident I had witnessed, in that kind of stupefaction which a young man experiences when a new and unexpected light has burst in upon his understanding.

Surprise followed surprise; the instinct implanted by nature in my heart began to develop. Now that some of the clouds with which she had covered it were removed, I discovered the cause of the sensations I every day experienced at the sight of women. Those imperceptible transitions, from tranquillity to extreme excitement, from indifference to desire, were no longer enigmas to me.

“Ah,” I exclaimed, “how happy they were! They were both transported with joy. How great must have been the pleasure they experienced! What bliss was theirs!” These ideas completely absorbed me, so much so that for a moment I lost all power of reflection. A profound silence followed the exclamations.

“Oh,” continued I, “should I ever have the luck to do as much for some woman, I must certainly expire upon her with pleasure, since this sight has given me so much. My enjoyment can only be a faint image of what father Polycarp tasted with my mother! But what a fool am I, no doubt that pleasure can only be for grown up persons? Still, by jingo, it seems as if it does not depend on the stature, and provided one is on the other, all will go on bravely!”

It immediately occurred to me that I would impart my discovery to my sister Susan, who was some years older than myself. She was a pretty little fair complexioned girl, with one of those open countenances that you might be ready to think silly because they appear indolent. Her eyes were beautifully blue, full of a melting softness, and seemed to look at you without meaning it. They produced quite as much effect on one as the bright eyes of a brunette with their piercing glance. How was that? I don’t know; for I have always been satisfied with feeling it to be so, without investigating the cause. May it not be that the delicate fair one with her languishing looks, seems to entreat you to give her your heart, and that the brunette threatens to take it by storm? The one only asks your compassion in this seductive manner, and in granting that you give her your love: the other, on the contrary, wishes to make you yield without promising a return, and at this your heart rebels; is it not so? What do you think, reader?

I am ashamed to say that it had never yet come into my head to cast a lascivious eye on Susan; rather an extraordinary thing for me who lusted after all the girls I saw. It is true that as she was the goddaughter of the lady of the village, who was greatly attached to her and brought her up, I had few opportunities of seeing her.

She had, indeed, been a year at a convent, and had only left it about a week before this epoch; and her godmother, who was coming to spend some time in the country, had promised her a visit to Ambrose. I suddenly became anxious to initiate my dear sister, and to partake with her the same pleasures that I had just seen enjoyed by Farther Polycarp and Annette. With respect to her, I was no longer the same person. I now saw in her a thousand charms that had hitherto escaped me. Her breasts, white as lilies, were firm and globe-like. In imagination, I already sucked the two little strawberries that I saw at the extremity of her bubbles: but, above all, in my picture of her charms I did not omit that centre, that abyss of pleasures of which I made myself such ravishing images. Excited by the burning ardour which these ideas diffused throughout my body, I went to seek Susan. The sun had just set, and it was getting dusk; I flattered myself that under the favor of the darkness, I should soon be at the very pinnacle of my wishes, if I could find her. I saw her at a distance, gathering flowers. Little did she think that I meditated gathering the choicest flower of her nosegay. I flew towards her, but seeing her so entirely occupied in such an innocent manner, I hesitated a moment whether or not I should communicate my design to her. As I approached her I felt my eagerness abate; and a sudden shiver seemed to reproach me with my intention. I thought it was my duty to respect her innocence, but was deterred from my attempt only by the uncertainty of success. I accosted her, but in such an agitation that I could not utter two words without taking breath.

“What are you doing there, Susan?” said I; and as I offered to embrace her, she ran away, laughing and saying: “What! do you not see I am gathering flowers? Yes, indeed, don’t you know that tomorrow is the birthday of my godmother?”

At this name I trembled, as if in fear that Susan might escape me. My heart had (if I may so say) already accustomed itself to look on her as a sure conquest; and the idea of her going further away seemed to menace me with the loss of a pleasure that I regarded as certain, although I had no experience in those affairs.

“I shall never see you again, Susan,” said I to her with a sorrowful air.

“Why not,” answered she; “shall I not still come here? But,” she continued with a charming expression of countenance, “help me make my nosegay.”

I only answered her by throwing some flowers in her face, which she immediately returned in like manner.

“Hold, Susan,” said I, “if you throw any more, I’ll... you shall pay for it.” – To show that she cared nothing for my threats, she threw a handful at me. In a moment my timidity left me; I was no more afraid of being seen.

My impudence was favoured by the darkness, which prevented anything being visible at a distance. I threw myself upon her and she pushed me away. I embraced her and she cuffed me; I laid her down on the grass, and when she tried to rise I hindered her. I held her closely pressed in my arms, kissing her bosom, while she kept struggling to release herself. I put my hand up under her clothes, but she cried out like a little devil, and so well defended herself that I despaired of success, and was afraid somebody would come to us. I got up laughing, and I did not think that she had more mischief in her than myself. How much was I deceived!

“Come, then, Susan,” said I, “to show that I intended no harm I will indeed help you.”

“Yes, yes,” she replied, as much agitated as I was; “come, see yonder is mother coming, and I...”

“Oh Susan,” said I hastily, to prevent her saying more, “do not tell her anything; and I will give you... anything, whatever you like.” I pledged my word with another kiss at which she laughed. Annette came up to us. I was afraid Susan would tell her; but she did not say a word, and we all went home together to supper as if nothing had happened.

Since Father Polycarp had been at the house, he had given fresh proofs of the kindness of the convent for the supposed son of Ambrose, in the shape of a complete suit of new clothes.

In truth, in that matter, his Reverence had less consulted monarchal charity, which is rather limited, than paternal affection, which is much more liberal, and sometimes unbounded. The good Father by such prodigality exposed the legitimacy of my birth to violent suspicions; but our rustics were a good sort of people, and looked no further into things than one would wish.

Besides, who could have the audacity to scrutinize with an evil eye the motives of the reverend Fathers’ generosity? They were such respectable persons, such worthy characters, who did good to all men and revered the honour of prudent women, that everybody was content. But I return to my own person, for I am about to enter on a glorious adventure.

Apropos of that said person, I had rather a conceited air, but not to a degree to prejudice any one against me. I was well dressed, my eyes had a wicked look; and my long black hair, which fell in curls on my shoulders, set off to advantage the blooming color of my face, which, though not exactly fair, could not be found fault with. This is a most authentic testimony that I am obliged to bear to the judgment of several very respectable and virtuous dames to whom I have paid my homage.

Susan, as I have before related, had made a nosegay for Madame Dinville, (for that was the name of her godmother), the wife of a counsellor of the neighboring town, who came to reside at her country house for the purpose of taking a milk diet to repair a stomach damaged by champagne and other causes.

Susan had decked herself out in her best, which made her still more lovely in my eyes, and I was invited to accompany her. We went to the chateau, and there we found the lady enjoying the cool air of a summer apartment. Figure to yourself a woman of the middle size, with dark hair, a white skin, a face, on the whole rather ugly, reddened by drinking champagne; dark eyes, full breasts, and as amorously inclined as any woman in the world. This at first appeared to me her only good quality; those two globes have always been my weak side. Oh, ’tis something so nice, when you put your hands on them, when you... But every one to his own taste, give me these.

As soon as the lady saw us, she gave us a kind look without changing her posture. She was reclining on a sofa, with one leg up and the other on the floor; she had on merely a single white petticoat, short enough to show you her knee, which was not so much covered as to make you think it would be very difficult to see the rest; a short corset of the same color, and a jacket of rose-colored taffetas negligently put on; her hand was under her petticoat – guess for what purpose. My imagination was up in a moment, and my heart was not far behind; henceforward it became my fate to fall in love with every woman I saw; the discovery of the last evening had awakened in me all these laudable propensities.

“Ah! good day, my dear child,” said Madame Dinville to Susan; “and so you have come to see me. What! Have you brought me a nosegay? Truly I am very much obliged to you, my dear girl. Come and embrace me.”

Susan did so. “But,” continued she, looking at me, “who is that fine big boy there? What, my little dear, you have brought a boy to accompany you; that is pretty.” I looked on the ground, but Susan said that I was her brother, at which I bowed.

“Your brother,” replied Madame Dinville, “come then,” she continued, looking at me as she spoke, “kiss me, my son; we must be acquainted.” She gave me a kiss on the mouth, and I felt a little tongue slip between my lips, and a hand playing with the curls of my hair. I was rather confused, for I was not used to this way of kissing. I looked at her timidly, and met her shining and animated eyes, which made me turn mine down. Another and similar kiss succeeded, after which I was able to stir; for previously she held me so close that I could not. But I did not care for that, as it seemed to be cutting short the ceremonial of making acquaintance. I was no doubt indebted for my liberty to the reflections she made of the bad effect that such unbounded caresses at a first interview might produce. But these reflections were not of long duration, for she again began talking to Susan, and the burden of every period was “Come and kiss me.”

At first I kept a respectful distance.

“So,” said she, addressing me, “that big boy there won’t come and...?”

I advanced and kissed her cheek, not yet daring to venture on the mouth, but still I was rather bolder than at first. She thus divided her caresses between me and my sister for some time; and at last I had made such progress, that I did not wait to be told when it was my turn. By degrees my sister desisted, and I had the exclusive privilege of enjoying the lady’s kisses, while Susan was content with words.

We sat on the sofa and chatted, for Madame Dinville was a precious gossip, Susan on her right, myself on her left. Susan looked in the garden, Madame looked at me, and amused herself with uncurling my hair, pinching my cheek, and gently patting me; I also amused myself with looking at her, and her easy manners soon emboldened me. I became quite impudent, yet she said nothing, only looked at me, laughed, and let me continue my sport. My hand descended insensibly from her neck to her bosom, and pressed with delight upon a breast whose elastic firmness rebounded to the touch.

My heart swam in pleasure, as I grasped one of those charming globes, which I handled as I pleased. I was going to put my lips to it; for by pushing forwards we reach the goal. I do believe I should have followed up my fortune to its proper conclusion, had not a cursed marplot, in the person of the bailiff of the village, an old ape sent by some demon jealous of my happiness, made his entry into the antechamber.

Madame Dinville, roused by the noise the old booby made, said to me: “What are you about, you little rogue!” I withdrew my hand hastily; my effrontery was not yet proof against censure; I blushed, and thought myself lost; but the kind lady saw my embarrassment, and gave me to understand by a gentle slap accompanied with a charming smile, that her anger was only a formality, and her looks convinced me that my boldness was less disagreeable to her than the arrival of the bailiff.

He came in – a tiresome blockhead! – After coughing, spitting, sneezing and blowing his nose, he made his harangue, which was more disagreeable than his personal appearance.

Had we escaped with that, it had not been far amiss; but it appeared as if the old knave had ordered the whole village to follow his example; for clown after clown came to pay their respects, until I grew almost mad. When Madame Dinville had replied to a great many foolish compliments, she turned towards us and said:

“Well, my children, you must come and dine with me tomorrow, and we shall be alone.”

It seemed to me that she meant to cast her eyes on me as she said the last word. My heart rejoiced in this assurance, and I felt that, without doing my inclinations any wrong, my little self-love had no dislike to be flattered.

“You will come, Susan,” continued Madame, “and will bring Silas with you” (for such is the appellation of your humble servant). “Silas, adieu,” said she embracing me, which I was no way backward in returning.

I certainly was in a condition to do myself honour in the eyes of Madame Dinville, had it not been for the unexpected visit of those stupid people with their still more stupid compliments: but what I felt towards her was not love, it was only a violent desire to do with some woman as I had seen Father Polycarp do with Annette, and the delay of a day imposed on me by Madame D. seemed an eternity. I attempted, as we went home, to get round Susan, by calling to her mind the occurrence of the previous evening.

“What a simpleton you were, Susan,” said I, “did you think I wished to hurt you yesterday?”

“What did you mean then?” said she.

“To please you much.”

“What!” said she, appearing to be surprised “by putting your hand under my petticoat, could you give me pleasure?”

“Certainly, and if you like I will prove it to you directly,” said I: “come aside with me here.” I anxiously read her countenance, to ascertain what effect my words had produced, but I saw nothing more usual. “Will you now, my dear,” continued I, caressing her.

“But,” replied she, without seeming to notice what I had proposed, “what is the pleasure of which you speak so highly?”

“It is,” I answered, “the union of a man and woman who embrace, closely pressing each other, and who finish by swooning while so locked together.” I kept my eyes on my sister’s face, and concealed the emotions which agitated me. I perceived, by the heaving of her bosom, that she was becoming gradually excited.

“But,” said she, with a simplicity which seemed to augur well for my designs, “my father has held me as you say many times, and I never felt any such pleasure as you promise me.”

“That is,” I replied, “because he did not serve you exactly as I should.”

“Indeed, what would you do then?” inquired she, with a tremulous accent.

“I would put something between your legs,” returned I boldly, “something which he dare not put.” She blushed, and her confusion gave me an opportunity of continuing in the following terms: “You know, Susan, that you have a little slit here,” and I pointed to the part where I had seen Annette’s slit.

“Ah, who told you that?” asked she, without raising her eyes.

“Who told me!” I replied, somewhat embarrassed by her question; “why all women have one.”

“And the men...?”

“The men,” I answered, “have an instrument at the place where you have a slit. This instrument is put into the slit, and thus produces the pleasure that a woman has with a man. Shall I show you mine? I will, if you will let me touch your little slit: we will tickle each other, it will be so delightful.”

Susan blushed red as fire. My discourse seemed to surprise her; and she looked as if she could hardly believe me. She said that she dare not let me put my hand under her clothes, for fear I should deceive her, and go and tell all about it. I assured her that nothing in the world would induce me to disclose it; and to convince her of the difference that I said existed between us, I laid hold of her hand, which she withdrew, and we continued our colloquy till we reached home.

I saw very well that the little slut had a taste for my lessons, and that if I should again catch her gathering flowers, there would be no difficulty in preventing her from crying out. I burned with desire to put the last hand to my instructions, and to add thereto a practical illustration.

We had scarcely entered the house, when we saw Father Polycarp come in, the object of whose visit I could easily divine; and all my doubts were removed when his Reverence announced that he was come to take a family dinner with us. They thought Ambrose was far enough off, and it is true he rarely disturbed them; but women are generally pleased to be rid of their husbands, however easy they may be, those creatures being always ill-omened animals.

I had no hesitation in believing that I should have the same exhibition as the day before, and I instantly resolved to tell Susan of it. I rightly thought that such a sight would be an excellent means of advancing my own little affair with her. I however said nothing at present, but put off the trial till after dinner, not meaning to have recourse to this expedient but as a decisive manoeuvre in case of extremity.

The monk and Annette were under no restraint from our presence, thinking no harm could arise from us. I saw the Father’s left hand slip mysteriously under the table, and she agitated to open her thighs, to make a free passage for the fingers of the fornicating old monk.

Annette, for her part, had one hand upon the table, and the other under, most likely returning the holy Father’s compliment. I was up to it; the most trifling things strike a mind already prepossessed. The reverend gentleman tippled with a good grace, and she followed his example; so that her inclinations began to be a little constrained by our presence, and she told us to go and take a turn in the garden; I understood what she wanted. We arose directly and by our departure gave them liberty to do something more than put their hands under the table. Jealous of the happiness that our absence gave them an opportunity of enjoying, I wanted to make a further attempt to get over Susan, without showing her the picture that I meant otherwise to place before her eyes. I led her towards an alley of trees, whose thick foliage produced an obscurity very well suited to my purpose. She perceived my design, and refused to follow me so far.

“Stop, Silas,” said she ingenuously, “I see that you want to talk to me again about that... very well, let us do so.”

“What, do I please you then by speaking on that subject?” She replied in the affirmative.

“You may judge, my dear Susan, from the pleasure that conversation has given you of what you would...” I said no more; but looked at her, as I pressed her hand against my heart.

“But, Silas, if harm should come of it?”

“What harm can it do?” I answered, delighted at having only so feeble an obstacle to surmount; “none whatever; on the contrary...”

“What,” retorted she, blushing and looking down; “and if I should become with child?” The objection strangely surprised me. I little thought Susan so learned, and I own that it was not in my power to answer her satisfactorily.

“How, with child?” said I; “and is it by that means that women are with child, Susan?”

“No doubt,” replied she, with an air of certainty which alarmed me.

“And where did you learn that?” said I, for I saw that it was her turn to instruct me. She answered that she was ready to tell me, on condition that I should never speak of it to any one.

“I think you have discretion, Silas, but if ever you should open your mouth on this subject, I shall hate you to my dying day.” I swore that I never would. “Let us sit down here,” she continued, pointing to a turf seat, the only convenience of which was that we could talk without being overheard. I should have preferred the alley where we should be both out of sight and hearing, and I again proposed it, but she would not go.

We then went to the seat, to my sorrow; and to increase my misery I saw Ambrose coming.

All hope for this time having fled, I took my resolution accordingly; and my curiosity to hear what Susan had to say somewhat diminished my chagrin.

Before she began, Susan exacted fresh assurances on my part, which I gave. She hesitated, and durst not yet commence, but I so closely pressed her that she at last proceeded.

“That is enough, Silas, I believe you,” said she; “listen, and you will be astonished at my knowledge I assure you. You thought of teaching me something a little while ago; I am better informed than you, as you will see; but don’t think that on that account I was less pleased by your conversation: we always like to hear those things spoken that flatter us.”

“Bless me! you speak like an oracle! One easily sees you have been to a convent; how that forms a girl!”

“Ah, truly,” she answered, “if I had never gone there I should be ignorant of many things I now know.”

“For heaven’s sake, tell me, then; I am dying to know.”

 

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