Revolutionettes, Chapter 16

  • Posted on April 21, 2018 at 10:52 am

By Amanda

1803 – Paris 

“Tell me you’ve recovered some of what you lost in Philadelphia. That you have some joy now,” I said to Catherine.

She smiled at me and stroked my back. I leaned against her shoulder, enjoying her matronly tenderness. “My daughter brings me much joy. And my soon to be ‘former husband’ — that brings me joy to say.”

“He has agreed to grant a divorce?” I asked, excited.

“He did, when it became clear that I held next to nothing in my own name. If he outlived me, then he would find himself destitute. I offered him a ship and one hundred and fifty thousand in gold, which is a great deal more than my death would give him. So now I will confess to adultery, and that will be the end of it.”

“Aren’t you concerned about what that will do to your reputation?”

“Be serious, girl. Adultery is a matter of course for a woman of my station. I would only need be concerned if he knew how true the confession was, or worse, with whom exactly I was unfaithful. As it stands, he believes I am a woman of virtue and would never suspect what I get up to when I am away from him. Besides, girl, I command significant wealth and power. Shunning me would do those in polite society more harm than it would me. Even if I were to lose my ships and plantations, my assets are such that I could live as I always have for the rest of my life, and with what was left my daughter could do the same.”

“You are frightening woman, Catherine Pennington.”

“I most certainly am,” she laughed. Then she went on, “But what of you, look at yourself. A tavern, a home, the parties, this is all too much to take in. I wish I could say you reminded me of myself at your age but I had yet to find my way then. No, indeed you are something to be admired.”

It felt good hearing that from her. Catherine’s praise was, well, it was worth more than anything else I could get from all this, save perhaps Sandra.

“Where is she, Liz?” Catherine asked.

“Who?”

“You know who. That girl that’s won your heart. Josephine’s maid, Sandra. She was just a child when I was with her mistress.”

I called Sandra and she rushed to kneel before me. After I gave a slight look of disapproval, she joined us on the sofa we occupied.

“Sandra, you’ve met Catherine,” I said.

She nodded. I did not know if she was saying she had met her, or was simply acknowledging me.

“I’m glad to see you are well, miss.” said Sandra.

Catherine chuckled. “You remember me, then?”

Sandra did not respond.

“So, now you’ve stolen the heart of my darling Liz. Let me get a good look at you. I’ve not seen you since you were a girl of only… ten, was it?”

Sandra nodded her head, but replied, “I’m sorry, miss. I don’t remember you so well.”

“I dare say not. I’m sure many women have come and gone from Josephine’s house, and I was but one. You are a beautiful girl, aren’t you?” Catherine said with a bright smile. “My word, Liz, how could you entice such a lovely creature into your bed?”

“You wound me, Catherine,” I said. “I seem to remember, it wasn’t long ago you asked Maddy the same of me.”

“Ah, but that’s always how it is, isn’t it?” She turned to me. “Are we really ever worthy of the women who love us?”

“You talk like a man,” I laughed.

“Not any I’ve ever known,” Catherine replied. “Perhaps only us tom boys, as you call us, need worry ourselves over that. I suppose a beauty like yourself has little trouble attracting a woman to her.”

“Come now, I think women find tom boys have a charm all their own. I suppose it’s all in what you prefer.”

“What say you, girl?” Catherine asked of Sandra. “Are you swayed by the charms of a ‘tom boy’?”

“No, miss. I’m sorry, it’s a lady I am drawn to.”

“Good answer,” Catherine laughed. “We’re a terrible sort. Cussing, drinking, womanizing…”

“Stop teasing her, Catherine,” I scolded. “You’ve never uttered a cuss word in your life. And I’ve seen you drunk exactly once, and that was not without good reason.”

“But I am a womanizer,” she chuckled.

“Well… I suppose we all are,” I agreed.

“Go and mingle with your guests, Liz. I’ll keep this lovely flower entertained.”

Sandra seemed distressed, but I knew her to be in no danger, so I did as Catherine suggested.

I soon found Alice, exactly where I could expect her, holding a guitar and surrounded by women. Seeing me, she set the instrument down and excused herself. “Oh, tell me you’ve come to seduce me, Liz. I’ve been dying to feel your touch for a year.”

“I promise that before this party is over you’ll be satisfied, but first I want to hear everything you have to tell me.”

“I’ve written nearly everything. There’s little more to tell. Things aren’t like they were, but they are good, and there’s plenty of fun to be had by all of us. I haven’t told you one thing, though. Catherine’s had a Negro girl at her house for months now. You know how her tastes run but she won’t say a word about it.”

“But she didn’t bring her. So, surely…”

“Didn’t she? The girl’s name is Charity, and she sits in a room in a hotel this very night.”

“I’ll send for her at once. Which hotel?”

“She won’t come. She doesn’t speak French, and she’s afraid,” Alice explained.

“Catherine!” I shouted.

A moment passed and she came to meet me, with Sandra on her arm.

“You left a lover in your hotel alone?” I frowned. “Bring her here this instant!”

“No, it won’t work. She’s a very timid girl. I couldn’t get her here, no matter how much I begged.” She half smiled, “I bought her from a very bad man. I don’t know for certain what he did to her, but I can guess.”

“I don’t care. I’m sending my driver. What hotel?” I wasn’t giving in.

“Forget it, Liz. I’ll return to her tonight and come back in the morning.”

“I won’t hear of it. Is she your lover, Catherine?” I asked pointedly.

She shot a less than approving glance at Alice and then looked back to me. “You know she is.”

“Then she is like my sister, and I’ll not have a sister left alone like that.”

“Impudent little child,” Catherine snorted. “Did I make you like this?”

“Yes, you did. I’ll go myself, or I can send my driver.”

“I’ll go,” sighed Catherine. “She’d never open the door to a stranger. I’ll tell her she has a sister that she must meet.”

“I’ll come too,” Alice volunteered. “If she’ll not hear you, she may hear me.”

“She won’t feel so out of place,” I said. “Jezebel is here, and I’m sure that make her feel more comfortable too.”

Catherine rolled her eyes as I called for Josette to summon the driver and bring their coats. Within a few moments, they were on their way along what I’d later find was a very short distance to the hotel.

With that settled, I took Sandra on my arm and began mingling with my guests, making sure to make each and every one feel as welcomed as I could.

Finally I happened upon Angelique and Jezebel. “Do you remember last year, how you thought I’d not meant for you to come?” I asked the Negress.

“Yes, madame,” she answered.

“Soon another Negro girl will be here, no less unnerved by all this than you were. I hope I can count on you to help me welcome her.”

Jezebel nodded with an excited smile.

“You are a curiosity to me, Elizabeth.” Angelique said, taking her lover’s hand and pulling her close. “I love her, so I don’t much care what people think. But have you any idea how scandalous it is to even have Belle here?”

Jezebel and Angelique were mainstays at my tavern most nights it was open. They were known, and I had thought well liked. Their piano and song certainly seemed to entertain the customers.

“Are we really so cold that she is still mistreated?” I inquired.

“No,” Jezebel offered, “not since last year’s party.”

“Have I ever told you how I came to know her?” Angelique asked.

“Not really, I suppose.” I poured them both a glass of wine, then sat down to listen.

“She was a gift from my father. I was promised to be married, but my fiancé was killed when they took the Bastille. Father, thinking I was heartbroken, purchased her in Belgium and brought her to me as a friend to keep me company. Disgusting gesture, really.”

“And you stayed even, after they freed you?” I asked Jezebel.

“No. I had fallen in love with her already. It never really crossed my mind to leave. She taught me to read and write, even tried to teach me to play the piano, but I have no talent for it. I’m free, but I can’t really think of anywhere else I’d rather be,” Jezebel explained.

“Surely you have family? A mother and father?”

Jezebel laughed. “You really don’t know anything about slaves, do you? Obviously, I have a mother, who died trying to escape when I was five, and a father, though I haven’t any notion of who he is or where he might be.”

Angelique sipped her wine. “I suppose I was too young to know my father had bought her for me like a pet. I didn’t really understand that type of thing. She was my friend.” She pushed one of the long braids Jezebel wore her hair in away from the woman’s face, and grinned. “And then one night she became my sweetheart.”

“Must have been wonderful,” I said, smiling warmly.

“Oh, not at all. It was scandalous. I’m such a lecherous woman, you’d not imagine the terrible things I said to her, and the absolutely awful things we did. Why, I dare say it’s enough to make the De Sade blush.”

My shock was evident, and she began laughing heartily. “No, please don’t think ill of me. I’ve no stomach for violence.”

I think that if her skin were fairer, Jezebel would have blushed. “She’s teasing you, Miss Elizabeth,” Jezebel said. “My Angelique was a virtuous and proper lady. Twas I seduced her, and when I was but fourteen no less.”

“It’s true,” Angelique admitted. “I had just turned seventeen, and had several suitors, none of whom inspired the least response in me. And then, on a particularly harsh winter night, and me being the generous sole I am, I offered to let my friend sleep in my bed with me for fear she’d be cold in her pallet on the floor. Before I knew it, she’d wrapped her arms around me and was kissing me. That’s when I felt true passion for the very first time. I’m not like you, Liz, nor her. I never would have considered this life existed, much less that I would ever live it.”

“I don’t think any of us knew, until someone else brought it out of us,” I said. “I was taught my nature by a girl named Molly when I lived in Harrisburg…”

“I knew,” Eliza offered. She poured more wine into their glasses, and my own. “Alice too. But that shouldn’t be a shock, I suppose. Gypsies are an odd sort.”

She looked around. “What you see here is a mix of people from every class. It wouldn’t behoove us to pick and choose our friends on such superficial grounds as class or skin color. There aren’t enough of us to bother with such trivialities.”

“So, if there were more of us, then we should?” I quipped.

Eliza laughed, “No, not at all. Perhaps if you’d asked me many years ago, I’d have said we should all stay with our own kind, but I see things very differently now.” She patted my shoulder. “Catherine has a way about her. She changes the people that come to know her.”

Then she took my hand, brought me to my feet, and began to lead me away. “You’ve been missed. I’ve heard your name several times tonight. Perhaps you should speak to all of us.”

I agreed, and set about gathering the women into the parlor. I was about to begin speaking when Josette entered and announced that Catherine and Charity had arrived. With the room full, many was the whisper as they turned to see Catherine wearing a confident smile as she stepped into the room with a former slave on her arm.

“Good evening, ladies,” Catherine smiled. “So sorry to have interrupted.” Charity kept her eyes downcast and looked very uncomfortable.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Jezebel approached to greet them as I followed close behind.

“My goodness, Catherine has an eye for beauty,” I said as I took Charity’s hand and kissed it. The girl immediately turned to Catherine who nodded toward me.

“My darling, this is the sister I spoke of, Elizabeth,” said Catherine.

“Miss,” said Charity as she offered a curtsey.

“Please, call me Liz,” I said. “We’re all friends here, there’s no need to stand on ceremony.”

I took her hand and drew her into the room. Annabelle Le Granade was the first to approach and greet her. Whatever the Madame’s opinions on slavery or Negros, she understood what I was doing and why, and did not hesitate to lend her support. Truthfully, for the women there, that was what was most effective. In the United States, Catherine’s blessing was all that one needed to tip the scales in their favor, but here it was the good Madame.

I led Charity to the front of the room where I raised my hand in the air. “Does anyone need a glass?”

Josette immediately left and returned moments later with a tray of filled champagne glasses. These she began passing out, bringing the last to me.

“Very good,” I told her.

“To my friends,” I toasted, “from both the new world and the old. And from my old life and my new one. Ladies, you honor me with your company tonight, and for the next two days I hope you will take advantage of all I have to offer.”

There was much clinking of glasses and shouts of ‘hear hear.’ I sipped from my flute and smiled. “Remember, there are no strangers here, only friends.”

It was time to catch Virginia now. I’d still no plan for the final night other than her, and with Annette here it was even better.

I found them both toward the entry of the parlor and caught their arms as I left, leading them to my small library. “Well I trust you’ve had time to reacquaint yourselves,” I teased. “Has the good sister mentioned the request I made of her?”

“No,” replied Annette, frowning slightly.

“It’s just as well,” Virginia chuckled.

“Were you able to find a habit?” I asked her.

She shook her head, and I was immediately disappointed.

“I thought about it, though. And about your offer. If you are truly certain you can employ me if I should be discovered, then I will happily do this.”

“I fear I’m asking too much of you,” I told her.

“You certainly are,” Virginia laughed. “But perhaps I want to be discovered.” She sighed, “Of course that’s not true. Or perhaps it wasn’t when I decided, but now that I see Annette…” She trailed off as her lover pulled her close. “I don’t know if I’ll go back now.”

“I’ll be quite pleased to have you here then,” I said, hugging her close. “And of course Annette is welcome any time. That is, if you choose to stay.”

I had to find Madame Le Granade to thank her for making such a public show of greeting Charity. I was headed for her when Alice stopped me and pushed me out of the parlor once more. “You made me a promise, didn’t you?” she laughed.

“I did, but —”

“But nothing. Take me to your room,” she insisted.

“Alice I have to —”

“I’m sure you do. But whatever it is will keep until morning.”

She grabbed my arm and drew me to the stair. I resigned myself and we climbed it, entering my room and closing the door behind us.

“I should find Sandra,” I said.

“She’ll be along,” Alice assured. “I asked her to come up and meet us here.”

“By god, girl, you are insatiable.”

“Oh no, nothing like that. I want her to give me permission.” Alice looked earnestly at me. “It’s not like before, is it? Before, you could do as you pleased, but now you have her to consider, don’t you?”

Ere I could answer, Sandra opened the door and entered. “You asked me to come, and… Miss Elizabeth, you’re here too. Pardon me,” she said, growing shy. “I misunderstood your purpose.”

“Not at all,” said Alice. “I’ll have you too, if Liz allows it. But for now, I was going to beg you to let me have just an hour with her, no more.”

“It is not my place to say what my mistress may or may not do,” said Sandra quietly.

“It most certainly is,” I snapped. “You’re my lover, and if you don’t approve, you can say so.”

“Then I approve,” she answered. Her tone seemed genuine, and she quickly left us alone. Of course she would approve, though. Exclusivity of a lover was not something she had ever experienced or been led to expect.

“Well, at long last,” said Alice. She pushed me across the room until I fell backward onto the bed. She immediately climbed over me and began kissing me while she pulled my dress off.

Whatever doubt I might have had melted away as her hands ran up and down my body. Soon enough we were both naked, caressing one another’s bodies. Alice sat back and looked down at me.

“What is it?” I asked.

“You know, Eliza and I will likely never be able to come back here. With the girl, and everything that’s happening in France right now, this might be the last time I see you, so I want to take a good long look… will you let me?”

“Oui, mon petit cheri.”

She traced her finger between my breasts down my belly to my groin. For a moment she seemed a bit sad, but she was soon smiling again. “Make love to me, Liz.”

Alice fell on me, kissing me and moving down my body. She suckled my nipples and nibbled at my sides and belly. Her soft lips tickled and I could hardly keep from laughing.

When at last she drove her fingers into me and covered my clitoris with her mouth, I was trembling with excitement. I ran my fingers through her hair, gently rocking as she lapped at my sex. “You’ve always been so dear to me, cheri.” I spoke in french, hardly realizing it.

She began sucking the magical knot that was a woman’s most sensitive spot. I moaned loudly as the fire of my climax built within me. Alice drove her fingers deep inside, ever faster until at last I cried out, awash in ecstasy.

I coaxed her forward, until she was positioned above me. I gently pulled her sex down to my mouth and returned the kiss she had just given.

Alice rocked, pushing hard against my face, but holding back just before it might be painful. She was moaning and sighing. The small girl, who indeed was hardly a girl any longer, fell forward onto her hands and I knew from experience that she was about to climax. I sucked her clitoris in to my mouth and rubbed my tongue across it hard. Her hips bucked as she grunted with her orgasm.

When it was done, she fell on her side and maneuvered around until she was facing me. “Will you suffer me to spend an hour with Sandra?” she whispered.

“Of course.” I kissed her lips and we pulled together. Each of us pressed a thigh between the other’s legs and we rocked back and forth, slowly at first, but then growing in intensity. I could feel she was becoming wetter as we kissed.

Alice was the first to climax, groaning and burying her head against my chest. As she orgasmed, suddenly I felt a splash of moisture on my thigh and almost lost concentration. However, my own climax followed closely and I forgot about what I’d felt, at least for the moment.

Breathless and sweating, we held each other a time and just enjoyed the feeling of it. “I felt something when…” I began, having recovered enough to regain my wits.

“That.” Alice grinned. “It only happens when it especially good. Eliza first caused it about six months ago. We’ve no clue what it is.” She began to giggle, “But I imagine that your sheets are as wet as your leg, and the scent of it will follow you all night.”

“We are enigmatic creatures, aren’t we?” I said. “Seems the mysteries that are women never end.”

“All the better,” Alice nodded. She sat up. “I think I’ll find your little wife and violate her much as I have you.”

She kissed my nose and jumped off the bed. She would have left naked had I not insisted that she at least put her underclothing on.

“By god, Liz, how did you find such a pretty little thing?” Alice winked before disappearing.

I quickly got up and dressed myself. We’d been gone too long, and I needed to return to my guests.

I was heading down the stairs as Sandra and Alice hurried past me, no doubt on their way to further soil my bed. As they passed, I was certain I caught a hint of a wicked smile playing at Sandra’s lips. That alone made everything about this party worthwhile.

Annabelle Le Granade appeared at the foot of the stair. First she looked at me, but was also able to catch a glimpse of Alice and Sandra before they reached the landing. She raised her glass, I presumed to them, before smiling at me.

I quickly joined her, kissing her cheek.

“How does that little gypsy do it, I wonder…” the Madame laughed.

“She’s very small and looks like a child. It’s disarming.”

“Indeed it is,” she agreed.

“And you, any prospects for the long weekend?”

“Be serious, darling.”

“I am,” I insisted. “I’ll not have you leave this place without being sated, if I must please you myself.” I wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling close to her.

“You are a wicked girl,” she said. “But I must refuse.”

“Don’t I please you?” I asked coyly, batting my lashes.

“Indeed, darling. And believe me, the spirit is willing. But I’m afraid, child, that the flesh is weaker than I might let on.”

“Madame Le Granade,” I gasped. “Are you unwell?”

“Of course I am. I’m old, dear, and I’ll only ever get older.” She patted my head. “You know, Liz, if you’re going to offer me carnal pleasures, I must insist you call me Annabelle.”

We walked to my library and sat on a couch. She leaned against me.  “Have you any idea why I’ve shown you such favor these years?” she asked.

“I’m bold, and it endeared you to me.”

“Not at all. Why, when first you came to me I found you to be petulant, off-putting, and dangerously naive. I didn’t like you one bit, to be perfectly honest.”

I almost had to laugh at just how accurately she described the young girl who’d first stood before her.

“But I saw strength, I saw a kind of determination that made me think you might actually reach your ridiculous goals, and I found myself wanting to see what you might do.”

“Are you pleased now?” I asked.

“Very much. You breathed life into Paris. And into this old crone. You’ve done the impossible, Liz. I find it sad that it must all be kept secret, because what you have done is nothing short of miraculous.”

“It hardly seems that way, and I still have so much more I’d like to accomplish.” I leaned close, nuzzling here neck and whispering in her ear, “Are you sure you wouldn’t like me to help you relax a bit?”

“Wicked temptress. I swear you’ll be the death of me, girl.” She lay back on the couch and I couldn’t help but smile at her as I slipped my head beneath her dress.

Once Annabelle had climaxed, I drew out from under her dress and skirts and sat quietly stroking her belly. She lay smiling at me, seeming she might fall asleep at any moment.

“Shall I have Josette show you to your room?” I asked. “She can stay with you if you’d like.”

“You mean that precious little maid of yours?” The Madame shook her head. “As much as I’d love to have such a darling creature keep me company, I think it’s not fair to ask that of a child young enough to be my granddaughter.”

I searched the table next to the couch for the servant’s bell and rang it. “Nonsense, Madame. I only meant that she would sit with you a time.”

Within only a moment or two of my ringing the bell, Josette appeared.

“Josette, dear, show her to the west room, and keep her company until she falls asleep.”

I saw no harm in my maid sitting with her, and I believe Annabelle understood that the girl would not be serving her in any baser sense.

“Oui, madame.” Josette curtseyed and offered her arm to the older woman.

I watched them go, then proceeded to the parlor. The late hour and the abundance of drink was taking its toll on my guests. I looked around at the sleepy and drunken women, satisfied enough with the first night of the party.

“There are beds upstairs, or if you prefer you may retire here. If you have need of anything, call for me and I will see to it.”

I set about touring the house, blowing out candles and carrying empty glasses and wine bottles to the kitchen for the servants to take care of in the morning. I was not called upon, and satisfied that all my guests were settled for the night, I climbed the stair to my room. Therein I found Sandra lying in bed in the darkness. As carefully as I could, I slipped in next to her and pulled close.

“Is it you, miss?” she asked in the dark.

“Who else would it be?” I teased.

“I did not know if I was to serve the guests who came alone.”

“Is that what you thought I wanted you to do for Alice?” I asked.

“No, miss. Not for her.”

“Call me Elizabeth. I worry that you’re not being honest when you call me ‘miss’.”

Sandra rose up and I could just see the light glinting in her eyes. “Will I serve the ladies here?”

“Of course not,” I said. “If you fancy someone and she fancies you, then by all means, do as you will. But you are not my servant, and you most certainly are not the house entertainment.”

She breathed a sigh of relief.

“After the past year, how can you think I’d use you that way?”

“I don’t mind, miss. It is what I’m for. After all, there are far worse things a woman like us could be.”

“Who taught you that?” I asked, already knowing the answer. The first time she’d said it, I thought they were her own words, but I’d heard it many times in the past year and I realized she was repeating something taught her since she was a child.

“The mistress, of course.”

“Well, that is not how it is in my house. Now you drive that from your mind. You are my lover, not my plaything, and not my servant.”

I slept an uneasy sleep that night. Sandra seemed to be stumbling backward further into servitude than she’d been when first she came. I was plagued with terrible dreams of her returning to stay with Josephine.

Continue on to Chapter 17

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