Well bred but impoverished Edwardian girl Henrietta needed a rich husband. Sebastian wanted a nubile young wife with money to match her charm. It’s up to Cyrus P. Brownknowes III to arrange things….but he didn’t take falling in love into account! Warning: Sexual scenes, bad language. 18+
Lord Sebastian Smallcock, Earl of Buttox, cleared his throat. “I must find a wife, Brownknowes. A rich one.”
Cyrus P. Brownknowes III, from New York, New York (as you might have guessed) was full of ideas. “Well, Seb -”
” – er, Lord Smallcock, you could get an ad made for television…”
“This is 1912, Brownknowes. Television won’t be invited for another thirty odd years.”
“Radio ad, then. I think to a background of opera music. Rich ladies like opera music.”
“Radio isn’t really around yet, either, Brownknowes, despite Mr. Marconi’s efforts. And the kind of rich wife I want probably won’t be too familiar with opera. She’ll be young.” Sebastian licked his lips and his florid face with the bulbous red nose quivered in anticipation. “Very young.” He pictured himself, greying and forty five, with truly disgusting sideburns, making love to a demure schoolgirl in a sailor suit, who was knowing enough to wear no horribly long bloomers but merely a garter belt to hold up her black stockings. In his daydream his stomach wasn’t as big but his dick was enormous.
“I’ve got it!” cried Cyrus, striding around the cluttered drawing room on his long legs. “Advertise in The Times, The Lady and Tatler! I can see it now! Titled English gentleman requires tender, loving wife -”
“YOUNG titled English gentleman requires tender loving wife with big bank balance and/or lots of land,” corrected Sebastian, pouring himself a huge slug of claret and swilling it in one go. “Maximum age seventeen.”
“Jesus, Lord Smallcock, you can’t say that! Anyway, the age of consent is twenty-one. You won’t be able to get hold of her money before that.”
Sebastian sighed. Brownknowes was right. “I suppose so. Fella like me needs someone like you to tidy up my affairs and get me rich again.” He had lost a fortune in gambling and drinking (usually at the same time) and was lucky to still own his large, ugly house in Essex. “Now, where were we? Maximum age twenty-one?”
* * *
One month later, the Hon. Henrietta Hornibotte stretched langorously in her bed. She felt like an absolute slut. Eleven a.m. and she had just dismissed the third stable boy in a week. Not from his job, but from her bedroom. The poor lads had to work sometime or her father would fire them. She lit a cigarette, ashing it in the saucer on her morning tea tray.
“Bloody hell!” she cursed. Her tea was cold. Well, what did she expect? The poor maid had come, unbidden, into the room and deposited the tea tray with shaking hands while Henrietta and this week’s lad were busily engaged under the blankets, the rocking bed an unmistakable giveaway. That had been at least an hour again. She had quite worn the poor boy out since!
Thank heavens Ma and Pa had gone up to London for a fortnight! It meant endless sex, endless horseriding which usually lead to more sex (stableboys were always willing), and complete freedom in general.
Henrietta was confident her constant sluttish behaviour was unknown to her parents, and would remain so. She had ensured it by smuggling Horlicks, the butler, into her bedroom every second Sunday morning, while her parents slept in. She was only eighteen but she had passed on to old Horlicks some tricks that would keep the chambermaids begging for more for years to come.
Henrietta reached below her bed, dragged out a bottle of fine malt whisky and poured herself a not so wee dram. Sitting up in bed, looking disbelievingly innocent with her turd-brown hair tumbling loose and her demure silk pegnoir tied (in case her governess-cum-companion, the perpetually drunk Miss Althrop, walked in), she smoked cheerfully, gulped at the Scotch, and read The Times, skipping over the boring bits about the state of the nations but enjoying the headlines like Murder – A Woman Dies By The Knife, and Thirty Killed In Steam Locomotive Crash. The advertisements were the best, though. The terrible English in some of them was priceless. Eagerly Henrietta lit up another fag and turned the page.
One in particular caught her eye.
“Young, Attractive Titled Gentleman Wishes To Marry Young Gentlewoman. Applicants Must Posess Evidance Of Fiscal Wealth Or Title For Property. Prefered Age Twenty One Years Or Younger. Beauty An Asset.” The address was a post office somewhere in Essex.
Henrietta pondered. She was eighteen, and a rampant sex maniac. So far all the men her father had introduced her to were boring old farts who’d be lucky to get an erection once a month. She knew she needed money; although her family was landed gentry, the bank balance was terrible. They were selling land to make ends meet and it didn’t need an Oxford Scholar to work out there wouldn’t be much to pass on to her, Henrietta. Especially since her six elder brothers were all given farms on their marriages. So Henrietta needed a rich husband, An attractive one with more imagination than the missionary position. No way did THIS girl lie back and think of England!
What did Fiscal Wealth mean? Henrietta didn’t own a dictionary and could only assume Fiscal meant something like “frolic” – it was such a crisp, playful word. It had to be a polite word for sex – and, Henrietta thought with a grin, that was something she certainly had wealth in! Title For Property? One day Henrietta would be a Lady – although she’d cheerfully swap that for some property, some land, something solid. Really, this sounded like an advertisement worth answering! All she’d need to do to convince the man she was twenty one was spend an hour in bed with him. A titled gentlemen….”Lady Henrietta” sounded almost as good as “your Majesty” and she had to be realistic – the Prince of Wales was too old a fart for her.
Henrietta lit another fag and searched for her pen and a piece of plain writing paper. She didn’t want to divulge her address at present. She scribbled a reply that asked the Young Attractive Titled Gentleman to acknowledge her in Friday’s Times, and finished her Scotch while she addressed the envelope.
Besides, his spelling was atrocious – he obviously needed the help of a good woman!
Tim, today’s stableboy, was into women’s clothing. He had left to do his duties wearing one of Henrietta’s skirts and a pretty blouse, and had left his clothing strewn over the highly polished floorboards of Henrietta’s bedroom.
She picked up his trousers and sniffed. They weren’t too bad, smelt a bit of horseshit, but that was nothing. Swiftly she dressed in Tim’s clothes, and tied back her long hair as discreetly as she could, tucking the resulting braid inside Tim’s collarless shirt. She pulled his felt cap over her forehead, and caught her reflection in the looking glass.
Slim and tall, she could almost pass for a boy with her hair severely behind her ears and a serious look on her face. If she rode out of the Hornibotte grounds dressed like this, no-one would look twice at her; the world was her oyster. Or at least half of Hampshire was. It was a ploy she had used often before, and thanked her lucky stars for Tim’s peculiar taste – although one would never guess it by the way he fucked!
“Well, bugger me,” she said to her reflection. “From Henrietta into Henry! Maybe my luck will change, and someone WILL bugger me!”
She giggled and walked silently out of the house and down to the stables.
Henrietta LOVED riding sidesaddle in bed but wasn’t that keen on sidesaddle on horseback. Protocol demanded that when she officially rode out (with many of the old, boring suitors her Pa provided) or went hunting, she was a demure young lady in a spotless black riding habit, her hair newly “up” and a bowler hat titled daringly over one eye. Held in gracefully by the sidesaddle, she barely moved in the saddle as she controlled some of the finest thoroughbreds in Hampshire (her family was horse mad and spent a fortune on mounts. Henrietta was well mounted in every way!). Far more daring, though, because it was forbidden, was the joy of riding astride. It wasn’t as stable, but, oh, that joyous feeling as the pommel of the saddle rubbed her just THERE! And the feeling of a large, powerful beast truly between her legs! It wasn’t just the sexual aspect, either, reflected Henrietta, she had far more control of the horse’s cornering ability with a leg on each side.
So, dressed in Tim’s clothing and sitting on one of her brothers’ saddles , she cantered Willow to the village, winked knowingly and promisingly at the postmaster and saw her reply to the Times advertisement slide through the hole and into the pillarbox, safely into the hands of Royal Mail.
* * *
Lord Sebastian Smallcock gave a snort of triumph and spent the next three minutes cleaning nasal discharge from his tweed jacket.
“Look here, Brownknowes! A lady has responded to our advertisement. Sounds like a right little raver, too,” he murmured, reading an elegantly penned letter from one Honourable Henrietta Hornibotte.
The obnoxious Earl of Buttox had a picture of Henrietta in his mind, a simpering, sweet little thing who’d gladly hand over all her worldly goods, including her virginity. He was sure she was a virgin. He hoped.
Cyrus P. Brownknowes III was filled with apprehension. Although he was destined to become the first really big PR man in the twentieth century, this, his first venture, was decidedly dodgy. How did you go about selling a revolting middle aged penniless alcoholic (granted, the guy had a title but who’d marry someone called Buttox?) to a demure young girl?
“Er.. Sir, if I might suggest,” Cyrus said with what he hoped was an authoritative tone in his voice. New Yorkers always sounded like they knew what they were doing. “I think I should pose as your identical twin brother and meet the girl on your behalf. After all, we… er.. want to get her to the altar. If she thinks you are…well, a couple of years younger and a few, teensy pounds lighter she’ll be there in a flash.” Cyrus, tall, dark, well built with a devestatingly handsome face, and the physical opposite of Smallcock, quaked in his boots.
“By Jove, Brownknowes, you’re right!” Sebastian boomed, comparing their images in the looking glass. “We’re remarkably similar you know! She’ll be mine in an instant!”
Cyrus wondered if he should suggest that Lord Smallcock see an optician, and shrugged it off. The truth would be too painful! He began to compose a reply to the Honourable Henrietta Hornibotte, innocent young virgin.
* * *
Henrietta poured a generous slug of gin into Miss Althrop’s teacup and passed it to the older lady, watching impassively as it went down in one gulp.
“Thank you, dear,” said her companion/governess/ chaperone with a sigh, nodding off almost instantly over the breakfast table.
“My pleasure, dear Miss Althrop,” returned Henrietta with a wicked grin. She read the letter from Lord Sebastian Smallcock inviting her to meet him in London next week.
Smallcock, Smallcock. … she headed for Burke’s Peerage and the battered copy of Debrett’s that her father kept in his study, and looked him up. Christ, the only Smallcock listed, the Earl of Buttox, must be about forty five! That couldn’t be right! It must be a misprint! Or the old fart had died and this Smallcock she had a letter from was his nephew or someone. That must be it! Henrietta sighed with relief.
She headed back to her room and rubbed her hands joyfully. The Countess of Buttox! It sounded terrible, but the information in the books, even though they were a bit out of date, indicated that Smallcock was quite well off.
“Tim, I’m going to be a Lady sooner than I thought,” she said to the stableboy hiding behind the curtains.
“Oh, Miss Henrietta, does that mean you want your best frock back?” Tim said woefully, smoothing down the satin ballgown he wore regretfully.
“Well, you can take it off, Tim,” Henrietta said huskily, “And come over here for starters.” Flinging off her pegnoir, she jumped onto her fourposter bed and pulled the canopy shut.
* * *
The lobby of the hotel was a bit dark and gloomy. The joys of electricity hadn’t been fully discovered as far as Crumleigh’s Hotel was concerned, and gas lights clung grimly to the walls.
Heart thudding, Henrietta waited for Smallcock to arrive. This wasn’t the type of hotel at which one would expect to meet someone of one’s own class, and she’d had a terrible time trying to escape up to London without her parents finding out. (They had arrived home a couple of days ago and Miss Althrop was now frantically trying to dry out.) Finally she’d told Mummy she was spending the weekend with the dull, boring and therefore suitable Lady Prunella Ramsbottom. Where, where was Lord Bloody Smallcock?
A tall young man with a body that made Henrietta’s blood rush to unmentionable regions of her body strode through the door. His eyes lit upon her.
“Miss..er.. Honourable Henrietta Hornibotte?” His voice was pleasant, deep and slightly American.
Henrietta nodded mutely. She wasn’t just in lust, she was in love.
“I’m Cyrus P…er… Smallcock, Sebastian’s twin brother. Sebastian’s terribly sorry he couldn’t make it, something urgent came up.” He held out his hand and shook Henrietta’s. For a long, long moment neither of them wanted to let go. Finally Cyrus said, “How about a sherry?”
Henrietta could only nod. Heavens, Cyrus would think she was mute or something! “I – I’d love one,” she managed, and was aware of the warmth of Cyrus’ body as she took his arm to walk into the lounge.
Henrietta sipped at her sherry in the shabby hotel lounge. Her hands shook inside their kid gloves. For once, she was totally lost for words and tried to stop her hands from trembling as she accepted a cigarette from her companion’s crested silver cigarette case. The crest showed two swords crossed above something that looked like, but surely couldn’t possibly be, a penis and two testicles. Henrietta gulped at her sherry.
Cyrus P. Brownknowes III absently fondled the crest on his cigarette case as he looked at her face and she felt curiously light headed.
“So,”Cyrus was saying, “Sebastian is my identical twin brother, older by two minutes so he gets the title, ha ha. Unfortunately he couldn’t make it today but he asked me to come along. He, er.., kinda figured that if you saw me you’d like him. If you know what I mean.”
His American accent was becoming more pronounced by the minute. Henrietta put it down to nerves and found she rather liked the sound of his voice.
“But perhaps,” she purred, pulling her gloves off slowly, “I wouldn’t like him as much as I like you. Personality reaction.. you know that kind of thing. They’ll call it chemistry one day.” She kept her voice steady but was quivering inside. She longed to take Cyrus up to a room and spend days in a bed with him. Instinctively she knew that he, not his identical twin, was the one for her.
Cyrus was in agony. How could he let that clumsy old lech Smallcock anywhere near this flowering English rose? She was so sweet and innocent. He’d destroy her! This was one girl Cyrus very definitely wanted for himself. She was so shy and virginal, it would be his pleasure to initiate her gently into adulthood and sensuous pursuits.
“Do you have a photo of your twin?” Henrietta persisted, ordering another sherry.
Cyrus fumbled in his pocket and produced a photograph of himself.
“Goodness!” exclaimed Henrietta, “You are alike, aren’t you! But you’ve got nicer eyes than him, Cyrus. And a stronger chin.”
Cyrus turned pink, pleased. He began to fold his pocketbook back up but a photo of the real Lord Smallcock, which he’d borrowed ages ago for some reason or other and forgotten about, fell onto the table, with the writing, “Lord Sebastian Smallcock, January 1912” visible in very clear, black ink.
Henrietta grabbed it. “Another one!”She turned it over and couldn’t help herself: “Fuck, Cyrus! Is this some kind of joke?”
Cyrus turned very red, all the way to the tips of his ears. Then he decided to take the risk. He wanted this girl far too much for himself. “Well, er, no, not exactly. That is, in fact, the real Lord Smallcock. He didn’t think you’d marry him if you saw it.”
“Jesus! He’s right!” Henrietta shuddered at the bulbous nose, bloodhound eyes and weak chin. “Identical twin my arse! What IS going on here?” She grabbed Cyrus by his necktie and pulled. Only when he was choking and turning blue, and the waiter began to look alarmed, did she release him.
“My name is Cyrus P. Brownknowes III, “Cyrus began. “I’m from New York, and I wanted to set myself up in business to kinda…well… promote people I guess. Like get them known. Get them in the Tatler. That kind of thing. Lord Smallcock hired me to write an advertisement to find himself a rich wife. He can’t afford to keep his estate going, you see. He’s a big gambler.”
“A bloody big gambler,” said Henrietta thoughtfully. “Sorry about your neck, Cyrus. Look, I’ll be honest. I couldn’t marry him if it was the last thing I did. On the other hand, I could marry you. I find you very attractive, Mr. Brownknowes, even if you are tarred with the same brush as that scheming roue.”
“Miss Hornibotte… Henrietta… I believe I’m falling in love with you,”said Cyrus earnestly and truthfully, massaging his neck. It had turned black.
“And I you,” responded Henrietta, moving closer to Cyrus and examining his cigarette case. It WAS engraved with dicks and balls. She slipped a hand onto his thigh and discreetly, innocently, moved it upwards. Cyrus almost shot through the ceiling.
“I think I’m getting an idea on how to fox Lord Smallcock at his own game,” Henrietta said slowly as Cyrus slipped one arm around her waist and another between her legs.
Cyrus didn’t care. All he could think was that he’d make a spectacle of himself if he stood up.
* * *
Henrietta and Cyrus said a regretful goodbye hours later. They’d had a marvellous afternoon upstairs in a room at the hotel, where she’d bonked poor Cyrus almost to exhaustion. Finally they stood at Victoria Station, the cheerful whistles of the steam engines too loud, too bright a reminder that they were each going home alone.
Cyrus slipped his own signet ring on her finger. It was miles too big of course, but Henrietta didn’t care. Penniless American or not, this was the big affair in her life, the one that would last forever. Henrietta gave Cyrus a photograph of herself she’d placed in her bag that morning in case she liked the look of Lord Smallcock. She rode home in the train in another world, totally unaware that her fitted jacket was done up wrongly and her stockings had huge holes in them where Cyrus had hungrily ripped them from her legs.
Over breakfast the next morning her father threw The Times on the floor as usual and exclaimed, spitting toast, “Good heavens! Brownknowes has snuffed it!”
Henrietta felt herself turn grey and held onto the table to stop herself falling helplessly to the floor. “Cyrus…!”
“Heard of him, have you? What a good girl you are, educating yourself to current events. Yes, old Cyrus Brownknowes Jr has died of a heart attack in New York. He’s rich as can be, and, it says, leaves one son, Cyrus Brownknowes III. There’s a good match for you, my girl! Ha ha!” Lord Hornibotte was so engrossed in the paper he didn’t see his daughter slide to the floor in a dead faint.
* * *
“Christ, what a woman!” Sebastian Smallcock ogled at the picture of Henrietta. “And you’re sure she’ll marry me?”
“Absolutely,” returned Cyrus absently, fixing his black armband. There was no way he could return home in time for his father’s funeral. And how could he leave Henrietta, who occupied almost all of his waking thoughts, in the same country as this pervert?
Smallcock was parading around the room in a woman’s corset and knickers, with white stockings. “Well, I’ll get a special licence then. I agree that it’s best she doesn’t meet me before we’re at the altar. It might turn her off, as you said. Now, you’re sure she’s rich?”
Cyrus, watching Smallcock inexpertly apply rouge to his cheeks, felt an enormous ball of hatred well up towards his employer. Disgusting old man! Planning to cold bloodedly rip off his darling Henrietta! They’d fix him!
“Filthy rich, Lord Smallcock. Filthy.” He walked out of the room, hearing Smallcock shout instructions at him to set a date for the wedding as soon as possible.
Sebastian Smallcock waited at the altar. The church was curiously empty. Even the two tenants he still had on his land hadn’t bothered to turn up. The vicar, thank God, was here, and several people sheltering from the rain were huddled on the back pews. Even Brownknowes had been unable to make it. Poor chappy had been quite ill lately, struck with influenza, he claimed, and unable to get out of bed.
Finally there was the crunch of hooves on gravel, and, two minutes later, a veiled figure in white lurched drunkenly through the doors of the church and gave a hiccup which echoed defiantly around the centuries old church. She staggered up the aisle on the arms of a tottery old man, tripping on her wedding dress and exuding brandy fumes.
“Dearly beloved,” intoned the vicar with a sigh of relief, and went on to ask Sebastian Ethelred Smallcock if he would take this woman to be his wedded wife.
Sebastian looked at the trim figure swaying back and forth beside him, the thick veil covering her face. She was giggling. He agreed he would take her absently. He thought of piles and piles of money and only brought his attention back to the present when the tittering figure said, in her turn, she did too.
The vicar concluded, “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
Eagerly Sebastian tore the veil up to meet the delighted and penniless forty year old face of Miss Philomena Althrop, the new Countess of Buttox.
“They’ll be married by now,” said Cyrus, looking at his watch as the huge liner drew away from Southampton.
Henrietta snuggled up to him. Her parents had been delighted to hear she was engaged to the heir to the Brownknowes fortune, and immediately began planning repairs on their disintegrating home.
“We’ll be married in two weeks,” she said smugly, watching England fade into the distance behind them and feeling the powerful ship’s engines throbbing underneath her feet
“Shall we go inside for a drink, darling?”
“I’d prefer we wildly explored each other’s body in that lifeboat,” whispered Henrietta. “Imagine the thrill of having to do it so quietly that nobody knew we were there.”
It was too good to resist. Swiftly Cyrus drew her around behind the lifeboat, lifted the covers, and legged her up into the lifeboat, which rocked alarmingly.
The Titanic sailed on.
© Copyright Caroline Sully 1993
Reproduction without the author’s permission is strictly prohibited
This story was written specifically to provide some laughs for a friend of mine living interstate who was bored with the fiction in New Idea and Woman’s Day. It certainly served its purpose!