My Life and Loves, by Frank Harris

Chapter iii.

School Days in England.

In my thirteenth year the most important experience took place of my schoolboy life. Walking out one day with a West Indian boy of sixteen or so, I admitted that I was going to be “confirmed” in the Church of England. I was intensely religious at this time and took the whole rite with appalling seriousness. “Believe and thou shalt be saved” rang in my ears day and night, but I had no happy conviction. Believe what? “Believe in me, Jesus”. Of course I believe; then I should be happy, and I was not happy..

“Believe not” and eternal damnation and eternal torture follow. My soul revolted at the iniquity of the awful condemnation. What became of the myriads who had not heard of Jesus? It was all a horrible puzzle to me; but the radiant figure and sweet teaching of Jesus just enabled me to believe and resolve to live as he had lived, unselfishly — purely. I never liked that word “purely” and used to relegate it to the darkest background of my thought. But I would try to be good — I’d try at least!

“Do you believe all the fairy stories in the Bible?” my companion asked.

“Of course I do”, I replied, “It’s the Word of God, isn’t it?” “Who is God?” asked the West Indian.

“He made the world”, I added, “all this wonder” — and with a gesture I included earth and sky.

“Who made God!” asked my companion.

I turned away stricken: in a flash I saw I had been building on a word taught to me: “who made God?” I walked away alone, up the long meadow by the little brook, my thoughts in a whirl: story after story that I had accepted were now to me “fairy stories”. Jonah hadn’t lived three days in a whale’s belly. A man couldn’t get down a whale’s throat. The Gospel of Matthew began with Jesus’ pedigree, showing that he had been born of the seed of David through Joseph, Ms father, and in the very next chapter you are told that Joseph wasn’t his father; but the Holy Ghost. In an hour the whole fabric of my spiritual beliefs lay in ruins about me: I believed none of it, not a jot, nor a tittle: I felt as though I had been stripped naked to the cold.

Suddenly a joy came to me: if Christianity was all lies and fairy-tales like Mahometanism, then the prohibitions of it were ridiculous and I could kiss and have any girl who would yield to me. At once I was partially reconciled to my spiritual nakedness: there was compensation.

The loss of my beliefs was for a long time very painful to me. One day I told Stackpole of my infidelity and he recommended me to read “Butler’s Analogy” and keep an open mind. Butler finished what the West Indian had begun and in my thirst for some certainty I took up a course of deeper reading. In Stackpole’s rooms one day I came across a book of Huxley’s Essays; in an hour I had swallowed them and proclaimed myself an “agnostic”; that’s what I was; I knew nothing surely, but was willing to learn.

I aged ten years mentally in the next six months: I was always foraging for books to convince me and at length got hold of Hume’s argument against miracles. That put an end to all my doubts, satisfied me finally. Twelve years later, when studying philosophy in Goettingen, I saw that Hume’s reasoning was not conclusive but for the time I was cured. At midsummer I refused to be confirmed. For weeks before, I had been reading the Bible for the most incredible stories in it and the smut, which I retailed at night to the delight of the boys in the big bedroom.

This year as usual I spent the midsummer holidays in Ireland. My father had made his house with my sister Nita wherever Vernon happened to be sent by his Bank. This summer was passed in Ballybay in County Monaghan, I think. I remember little or nothing about the village save that there was a noble series of reed-fringed lakes near the place which gave good duck and snipe shooting to Vernon in the autumn.

These holidays were memorable to me for several incidents. A conversation began one day at dinner between my sister and my eldest brother about making up to girls and winning them. I noticed with astonishment that my brother Vernon was very deferential to my sister’s opinion on the matter, so I immediately got hold of Nita after the lunch and asked her to explain to me what she meant by “flattery”. “You said all girls like flattery. What did you mean?”

“I mean”, she said, “they all like to be told they are pretty, that they have good eyes or good teeth or good hair, as the case may be, or that they are tall and nicely made. They all like their good points noticed and praised.”

“Is that all?” I asked. “Oh no!” she said, “they all like their dress noticed too and especially their hat; if it suits their face, if it’s very pretty and so forth . . . All girls think that if you notice their clothes you really like them, for most men don’t.”

“Number two”, I said to myself: “is there anything else?”

“Of course”, she said, “you must say that the girl you are with, is the prettiest girl in the room or in the town, in fact is quite unlike any other girl, superior to all the rest, the only girl in the world for you. All women like to be the only girl in the world for as many men as possible.”

“Number three”, I said to myself: “Don’t they like to be kissed?” I asked.

“That comes afterwards”, said my sister, “lots of men begin with kissing and pawing you about before you even like them. That puts you off. Flattery first of looks and dress, then devotion and afterwards the kissing comes naturally.”

“Number four!” I went over these four things again and again to myself and began trying them even on the older girls and women about me and soon found that they all had a better opinion of me almost immediately.

I remember practicing my new knowledge first on the younger Miss Raleigh whom, I thought, Vernon liked. I just praised her as my sister had advised: first her eyes and hair (she had very pretty blue eyes). To my astonishment she smiled on me at once; accordingly I went on to say she was the prettiest girl in the town and suddenly she took my head in her hands and kissed me, saying “You’re a dear boy!”

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But my great experience was yet to come. There was a very good-looking man whom I met two or three times at parties; I think his name was Tom Connolly: I’m not certain, though I ought not to forget it; for I can see him as plainly as if he were before me now: five feet ten or eleven, very handsome with shaded violet eyes. Everybody was telling a story about him that had taken place on his visit to the Viceroy in Dublin. It appeared that the Vicereine had a very pretty French maid and Tom Connolly made up to the maid. One night the Vicereine was taken ill and sent her husband up stairs to call the maid. When the husband knocked at the maid’s door, saying that his wife wanted her, Tom Connolly replied in a strong voice:

“It’s unfriendly of you to interrupt a man at such a time.”

The Viceroy, of course, apologized immediately and hurried away, but like a fool he told the story to his wife who was very indignant and next day at breakfast she put an aide-de-camp on her right and Tom Connolly’s place far down the table. As usual, Connolly came in late and the moment he saw the arrangement of the places, he took it all in and went over to the aide-de-camp.

“Now, young man”, he said, “you’ll have many opportunities later, so give me my place”, and forthwith turned him out of his place and took his seat by the Vicereine, though she would barely speak to him.

At length Tom Connolly said to her: “I wouldn’t have thought it of you, for you’re so kind. Fancy blaming a poor young girl the first time she yields to a man!”

This response made the whole table roar and established Connolly’s fame for impudence throughout Ireland.

Everyone was talking of him and I went about after him all through the gardens and whenever he spoke, my large ears were cocked to hear any word of wisdom that might fall from his lips. At length he noticed me and asked me why I followed him about.

“Everybody says you can win any woman you like, Mr. Connolly”; I said half — ashamed: “I want to know how you do it, what you say to them.”

“Faith, I don’t know”, he said, “but you’re a funny little fellow. What age are you to be asking such questions’!”

“I’m fourteen”, I said boldly.

“I wouldn’t have given you fourteen, but even fourteen is too young; you must wait.” So I withdrew but still kept within earshot.

I heard him laughing with my eldest brother over my question and so imagined that I was forgiven, and the next day or the day after, finding me as assiduous as ever, he said:

“You know, your question amused me and I thought I would try to find an answer to it and here is one. When you can put a stiff penis in her hand and weep profusely the while, you’re getting near any woman’s heart. But don’t forget the tears.” I found the advice a counsel of perfection; I was unable to weep at such a moment; but I never forgot the words.

There was a large barracks of Irish Constabulary in Ballybay and the Sub–Inspector was a handsome fellow of five feet nine or ten named Walter Raleigh. He used to say that he was a descendant of the famous courtier of Queen Elizabeth and he pronounced his name “Holly” and assured us that his illustrious namesake had often spelt it in this way, which showed that he must have pronounced it as if written with an “o”. The reason I mention Raleigh here is that his sisters and mine were great friends and he came in and out of our house almost as if it were his own.

Every evening when Vernon and Raleigh had nothing better to do, they cleared away the chairs in our back parlor, put on boxing gloves and had a set-to. My father used to sit in a corner and watch them:

Vernon was lighter and smaller; but quicker; still I used to think that Raleigh did not put out his full strength against him.

One of the first evenings when Vernon was complaining that Raleigh hadn’t come in or sent, my father said: “Why not try, Joel” (my nickname!) In a jiffy I had the gloves on and got my first lesson from Vernon who taught me at least how to hit straight and then how to guard and side-step. I was very quick and strong for my size; but for some time Vernon hit me very lightly. Soon, however, it became difficult for him to hit me at all and then I sometimes got a heavy blow that floored me. But with constant practice I improved rapidly and after a fortnight or so put on the gloves once with Raleigh. His blows were very much heavier and staggered me even to guard them, so I got accustomed to duck or side-step or slip every blow aimed at me while hitting back with all my strength. One evening when Vernon and Raleigh both had been praising me, I told them of Jones and how he bullied me; he had really made my life a misery to me: he never met me outside the school without striking or kicking me and his favorite name for me was “bog-trotter!” His attitude, too, affected the whole school: I had grown to hate him as much as I feared him.

They both thought I could beat him; but I described him as very strong and finally Raleigh decided to send for two pairs of four ounce gloves or fighting gloves and use these with me to give me confidence. In the first half-hour with the new gloves Vernon did not hit me once and I had to acknowledge that he was stronger and quicker even than Jones. At the end of the holidays they both made me promise to slap Jones’s face the very first time I saw him in the school.

On returning to school we always met in the big schoolroom. When I entered the room there was silence. I was dreadfully excited and frightened, I don’t know why; but fully resolved: “he can’t kill me”, I said to myself a thousand times; still I was in a trembling funk inwardly though composed enough in outward seeming. Jones and two others of the Sixth stood in front of the empty fire-place: I went up to them: Jones nodded, “How d’ye do, Pat!”

“Fairly”, I said, “but why do you take all the room?” and I jostled him aside: he immediately pushed me hard and I slapped his face as I had promised. The elder boys held him back or the fight would have taken place then and there: “will you fight?" he barked at me and I replied, “as much as you like, bully!” It was arranged that the fight should take place on the next afternoon, which happened to be a Wednesday and half — holiday. From three to six would give us time enough. That evening Stackpole asked me to his room and told me he would get the Doctor to stop the fight if I wished; I assured him it had to be and I preferred to have it settled.

“I’m afraid he’s too old and strong for you”, said Stackpole: I only smiled.

Next day the ring was made at the top of the playing field behind the haystack so that we could not be seen from the school. All the Sixth and nearly all the school stood behind Jones; but Stackpole, while ostensibly strolling about, was always close to me. I felt very grateful to him: I don’t know why; but his presence took away from my loneliness. At first the fight was almost like a boxing-match. Jones shot out his left hand, my head slipped it and I countered with my right in his face: a moment later he rushed me but I ducked and side-stepped and hit him hard on the chin. I could feel the astonishment of the school in the dead silence:

“Good, good!” cried Stackpole behind me: “that’s the way.” And indeed it was the “way” of the fight in every round except one. We had been hard at it for some eight or ten minutes when I felt Jones getting weaker or losing his breath: at once I went in attacking with all my might; when suddenly, as luck would have it, I caught a right swing just under the left ear and was knocked clean off my feet: he could hit hard enough, that was clear. As I went into the middle of the ring for the next round Jones jeered at me:

“You got that, didn’t ye, Pat!”

“Yes”, I replied, “but I’ll beat you black and blue for it” and the fight went on. I had made up my mind, lying on the ground, to strike only at his face. He was short and strong and my body-blows didn’t seem to make any impression on him; but if I could blacken all his face, the masters and especially the Doctor would understand what had happened.

Again and again Jones swung, first with right hand and then with his left, hoping to knock me down again; but my training had been too varied and complete and the knock-down blow had taught me the necessary caution: I ducked his swings, or side-stepped them and hit him right and left in the face till suddenly his nose began to bleed and Stackpole cried out behind me in huge excitement: “that’s the way, that’s the way; keep on peppering him!”

As I turned to smile at him, I found that a lot of the fags, former chums of mine, had come round to my corner and now were all smiling encouragement at me and bold exhortations to “give it him hard”. I then realized for the first time that I had only to keep on and be careful and the victory would be mine.

A cold, hard exultation took the place of nervous excitement in me, and when I struck, I tried to cut with my knuckles as Raleigh had once shown me.

The bleeding of Jones’s nose took some time to stop and as soon as he came into the middle of the ring, I started it again with another righthander. After this round, his seconds and backers kept him so long in his corner that at length, on Stackpoie’s whispered advice, I went over and said to him: “Either fight or give in: I’m catching cold”. He came out at once and rushed at me full of fight, but his face was all one bruise and his left eye nearly closed. Every chance I got, I struck at the right eye till it was in an even worse case.

It is strange to me since that I never once felt pity for him and offered to stop: the truth is, he had bullied me so relentlessly and continually, had wounded my pride so often in public that even at the end I was filled with cold rage against him. I noticed everything: I saw that a couple of the Sixth went away towards the schoolhouse and afterwards returned with Shaddy, the second master. As they came round the haystack, Jones came out into the ring; he struck savagely right and left as I came within striking distance, but I slipped in outside his weaker left and hit him as hard as I could, first right, then left on the chin and down he went on his back.

At once there was a squeal of applause from the little fellows in my corner and I saw that Stackpole had joined Shaddy near Jones’s corner. Suddenly Shaddy came right up to the ringside and spoke, to my astonishment, with a certain dignity:

“This fight must stop now”, he said loudly, “if another blow is struck or word said, I’ll report the disobedience to the Doctor.” Without a word I went and put on my coat and waistcoat and collar, while his friends of the Sixth escorted Jones to the school-house.

I had never had so many friends and admirers in my life as came up to me then to congratulate me and testify to their admiration and goodwill. The whole lower school was on my side, it appeared, and had been from the outset, and one or two of the Sixth, Herbert in especial, came over and praised me warmly: “A great fight”, said Herbert, “and now perhaps we’ll have less bullying: at any rate”, he added humorously, “no one will want to bully you: you’re a pocket professional: where did you learn to box?”

I had sense enough to smile and keep my own counsel. Jones didn’t appear in school that night: indeed, for days after he was kept in sick-bay upstairs. The fags and lower school boys brought me all sorts of stories how the doctor had come and said “he feared erysipelas: the bruises were so large and Jones must stay in bed and in the dark!” and a host of other details.

One thing was quite clear; my position in the school was radically changed: Stackpole spoke to the Doctor and I got a seat by myself in his class-room and only went to the form-master for special lessons: Stackpole became more than ever my teacher and friend.

When Jones first appeared in the school, we met in the Sixth room while waiting for the Doctor to come in. I was talking with Herbert; Jones came in and nodded to me: I went over and held out my hand, “I’m glad you’re all right again!” He shook hands but said nothing. Herbert’s nod and smile showed me I had done right. “Bygones should be bygones”, he said in English fashion. I wrote the whole story to Vernon that night, thanking him,

you may be sure, and Raleigh for the training and encouragement they had given me.

My whole outlook on life was permanently altered: I was cock-a-hoop and happy. One night I got thinking of E and for the first time in months

practiced Onanism. But next day I felt heavy and resolved that belief or no belief, self-restraint was a good thing for the health. All the next Christmas holidays spent in Rhyl, I tried to get intimate with some girl; but failed. As soon as I tried to touch even their breasts, they drew away. I liked girls fully formed and they all thought, I suppose, that I was too young and too small: if they had only known!

One more incident belongs in this thirteenth year, and is worthy perhaps of record. Freed of the bullying and senseless cruelty of the older boys who for the most part, still siding with Jones, left me severely alone, the restraints of school life began to irk me,

“If I were free”, I said to myself, “I’d go after E

or some other girl and have a great time; as it is, I can do nothing, hope for nothing.” Life was stale, flat and unprofitable to me. Besides, I had read nearly all the books I thought worth reading in the school library, and time hung heavy on my hands: I began to long for liberty as a caged bird.

What was the quickest way out! I knew that my father as a Captain in the Navy could give me or get me a nomination so that I might become a Midshipman. Of course I’d have to be examined before I was fourteen; but I knew I could win a high place in any test.

The summer vacation after I was thirteen on the 14th of February I spent at home in Ireland as I have told, and from time to time, bothered my father to get me the nomination. He promised he would, and I took his promise seriously. All the autumn I studied carefully the subjects I was to be examined in and from time to time wrote to my father reminding him of his promise. But he seemed unwilling to touch on the matter in his letters which were mostly filled with Biblical exhortations, that sickened me with contempt for his brainless credulity. My unbelief made me feel immeasurably superior to him.

Christmas came and I wrote him a serious letter, insisting that he should keep his promise. For the first time in my life I flattered him, saying that I knew his word was sacred: but the time-limit was at hand and I was getting nervous lest some official delay might make me pass the prescribed limit of age. I got no reply: I wrote to Vernon who said he would do his best with the Governor. The days went on, the 14th of February came and went: I was fourteen. That way of escape into the wide world was closed to me by my father. I raged in hatred of him.

How was I to get free? Where should I go? What should I do? One day in an illustrated paper in ‘68, I read of the discovery of the diamonds in the Cape, and then of the opening of the Diamond fields. That prospect tempted me and I read all I could about South Africa, but one day I found that the cheapest passage to the Cape cost fifteen pounds and I despaired. Shortly afterwards I read that a steerage passage to New York could be had for five pounds; that amount seemed to me possible to get; for there was a prize of ten pounds for books to be given to the second in the Mathematical scholarship exam that would take place in the summer: I thought I could win that, and I set myself to study Mathematics harder than ever.

The result was — but I shall tell the result in its proper place. Meanwhile I began reading about America and soon learned of the buffalo and Indians on the Great Plains and a myriad entrancing romantic pictures opened to my boyish imagining. I wanted to see the world and I had grown to dislike England; its snobbery, though I had caught the disease, was loathsome and worse still, its spirit of sordid self-interest. The rich boys were favored by all the Masters, even by Stackpole; I was disgusted with English life as I saw it. Yet there were good elements in it which I could not but see, which I shall try to indicate later.

Towards the middle of this winter term it was announced that at Midsummer, besides a scene from a play of Plautus to be given in Latin, the trial-scene of “The Merchant of Venice” would also be played — of course, by boys of the Fifth and Sixth form only, and rehearsals immediately began. Naturally I took out “The Merchant of Venice” from the school library and in one day knew it by heart. I could learn good poetry by a single careful reading: bad poetry or prose was much harder.

Nothing in the play appealed to me except Shylock and the first time I heard Fawcett of the Sixth recite the part, I couldn’t help grinning: he repeated the most passionate speeches like a lesson in a singsong, monotonous voice. For days I went about spouting Shylock’s defiance and one day, as luck would have it, Stackpole heard me. We had become great friends: I had done all Algebra with him and was now devouring trigonometry, resolved to do Conic Sections afterwards, and then the Calculus. Already there was only one boy who was my superior and he was Captain of the Sixth, Gordon, a big fellow of over seventeen, who intended to go to Cambridge with the eighty Pound Mathematical Scholarship that summer.

Stackpole told the Head that I would be a good Shylock: Fawcett to my amazement didn’t want to play the Jew: he found it difficult even to learn the part, and finally it was given to me. I was particularly elated for I felt sure I could make a great hit.

One day my sympathy with the bullied got me a friend. The Vicar’s son Edwards was a nice boy of fourteen who had grown rapidly and was not strong. A brute of sixteen in the Upper Fifth was twisting his arm and hitting him on the writhen muscle and Edwards was trying hard not to cry. “Leave him alone, Johnson”, I said, “why do you bully?” “You ought to have a taste of it”, he cried, letting Edwards go, however.

“Don’t try it on if you’re wise”, I retorted.

“Pat would like us to speak to him”, he sneered and turned away. I shrugged my shoulders.

Edwards thanked me warmly for rescuing him and I asked him to come for a walk. He accepted and our friendship began, a friendship memorable for bringing me one novel and wonderful experience.

The Vicarage was a large house with a good deal of ground about it. Edwards had some sisters but they were too young to interest me; the French governess, on the other hand, Mile. Lucille, was very attractive with her black eyes and hair and quick, vivacious manner. She was of medium height and not more than eighteen. I made up to her at once and tried to talk French with her from the beginning. She was very kind to me and we got on together at once. She was lonely, I suppose, and I began well by telling her she was the prettiest girl in the whole place and the nicest. She translated nicest, I remember, as la plus chic.

The next half-holiday Edwards went into the house for something. I told her I wanted a kiss, and she said:

“You’re only a boy, mais gentil”, and she kissed me. When my lips dwelt on hers, she took my head in her hands, pushed it away and looked at me with surprise.

“You are a strange boy”, she said musingly.

The next holiday I spent at the Vicarage. I gave her a little French love-letter I had copied from a book in the school library and I was delighted when she read it and nodded at me, smiling, and tucked it away in her bodice: “near her heart” I said to myself, but I had no chance even of a kiss for Edwards always hung about. But late one afternoon he was called away by his mother for something, and my opportunity came.

We usually sat in a sort of rustic summerhouse in the garden. This afternoon Lucille was seated leaning back in an armchair right in front of the door, for the day was sultry-close, and when Edwards went, I threw myself on the doorstep at her feet: her dress clung to her form, revealing the outlines of her thighs and breasts seductively. I was wild with excitement. Suddenly I noticed her legs were apart; I could see her slim ankles. Pulses awoke throbbing in my forehead and throat: I begged for a kiss and got on my knees to take it: she gave me one; but when I persisted, she repulsed me, saying:

“Non, non! sois sage!”

As I returned to my seat reluctantly, the thought came, “put your hand up her clothes”; I felt sure I could reach her sex. She was seated on the edge of the chair and leaning back. The mere idea shook and scared me: but what can she do, I thought: she can only get angry. I thought again of all possible consequences: the example with E came to encourage and hearten me. I leaned round and knelt in front of her smiling, begging for a kiss, and as she smiled in return, I put my hand boldly right up her clothes on her sex. I felt the soft hairs and the form of it in breathless ecstasy; but I scarcely held it when she sprang upright: “how dare you!” she cried trying to push my hand away.

My sensations were too overpowering for words or act; my life was in my fingers; I held her cunt. A moment later I tried to touch her gently with my middle finger as I had touched E: ’twas a

mistake: I no longer held her sex and at once Lucille whirled round and was free.

“I have a good mind to strike you”, she cried; ‘Til tell Mrs. Edwards”, she snorted indignantly. “You’re a bad, bad boy and I thought you nice. I’ll never be kind to you again: I hate you!” she fairly stamped with anger.

I went to her, my whole being one prayer. “Don’t please spoil it all”, I cried. “You hurt so when you are angry, dear”. She turned to me hotly: “I’m really angry, angry”, she panted, “and you’re a hateful rude boy and I don’t like you any more”, and she turned away again, shaking her dress straight. “Oh, how could I help it I” I began, “You’re so pretty, oh, you are wonderful, Lucille”.

“Wonderful”, she repeated, sniffing disdainfully,, but I saw she was mollified.

“Kiss me”, I pleaded, “and don’t be cross.”

“I’ll never kiss you again”, she replied quickly, “you can be sure of that”. I went on begging, praising, pleading for ever so long, till at length she took my head in her hands, saying:

“If you’ll promise never to do that again, never, I’ll give you a kiss and try to forgive you”.

“I can’t promise”, I said, “it was too sweet; but kiss me and I’ll try to be good”.

She kissed me a quick peck and pushed me away.

“Didn’t you like it?” I whispered, “I did awfully. I can’t tell you how I thrilled: oh, thank you, Lucille, thank you, you are the sweetest girl in all the world, and I shall always be grateful to you, you dear!”

She looked down at me musingly, thoughtfully; I felt I was gaining ground:

“You are lovely there”, I ventured in a whisper, “please, dear, what do you call it? I saw ‘chat’ once: is that right, ‘pussy’!”

“Don’t talk of it”, she cried impatiently, “I hate to think — ”

“Be kind, Lucille”, I pleaded, “you’ll never be the same to me again: you were pretty before, chic and provoking, but now you’re sacred. I don’t love you, I adore you, reverence you, darling! May I say ‘pussy’!”

“You’re a strange boy”, she said at length, “but you must never do that again; it’s nasty and I don’t like it. I— ”

“Don’t say such things!” I cried, pretending indignation, “you don’t know what you’re saying — nasty! Look, I’ll kiss the fingers that have touched your pussy”, and I suited the action to the word.

“Oh, don’t!” she cried and caught my hand in hers, “don’t!” but somehow she leaned against me at the same time and left her lips on mine. Bit by bit my right hand went down to her sex again, this time on the outside of her dress, but at once she tore herself away and would not let me come near her again. My insane desire had again made me blunder! Yet she had half — yielded, I knew, and that consciousness set me thrilling with triumph and hope, but alas! at that moment we heard Edwards shout to us as he left the house to rejoin us.

This experience had two immediate and unlooked for consequences: first of all, I could not sleep that night for thinking of Lucille’s sex; it was like a large fig split in the middle, and set in a mesh of soft hairs: I could feel it still on my fingers and my sex stood stiff and throbbed with desire for it.

When I fell asleep I dreamed of Lucille, dreamed that she had yielded to me and I was pushing my sex into hers; but there was some obstacle and while I was pushing, pushing, my seed spirted in an orgasm of pleasure — and at once I awoke and, putting down my hand, found that I was still coming: the sticky, hot, milk-like sperm was all over my hairs and prick.

I got up and washed and returned to bed; the cold water had quieted me; but soon by thinking of Lucille and her soft, hot, hairy “pussy”, I grew randy again and in this state fell asleep. Again I dreamed of Lucille and again I was trying, trying in vain to get into her when again the spasm of pleasure overtook me; I felt my seed spirting hot and — I awoke.

But lo! when I put my hand down, there was no seed, only a little moisture just at the head of my sex — nothing more. Did it mean that I could only give forth seed once? I tested myself at once: while picturing Lucille’s sex, its soft hot roundnesses and hairs, I caressed my sex, moving my hand faster up and down till soon I brought on the orgasm of pleasure and felt distinctly the hot thrills as if my seed were spirting, but nothing came, hardly even the moisture.

Next morning I tested myself at the high jump and found I couldn’t clear the bar at an inch lower than usual. I didn’t know what to do: why had I indulged so foolishly?

But next night the dream of Lucille came back again, and again I awoke after an acute spasm of pleasure, all wet with my own seed. What was I to do? I got up and washed and put cold water in a sponge on my testicles and sex and all chilled crawled back into bed. But imagination was master. Time and again the dream came and awakened me. In the morning I felt exhausted, washed-out and needed no test to assure me that I was physically below par.

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That same afternoon I picked up by chance a little piece of whipcord and at once it occurred to me that if I tied this hard cord round my penis, as soon as the organ began to swell and stiffen in excitement, the cord would grow tight and awake me with the pain.

That night I tied up Tommy and gave myself up to thoughts of Lucille’s private parts: as soon as my sex stood and grew stiff, the whipcord hurt dreadfully and I had to apply cold water at once to reduce my unruly member to ordinary proportions. I returned to bed and went to sleep: I had a short sweet dream of Lucille’s beauties but then awoke in agony. I got up quickly and sat on the cold marble slab of the washing-stand. That acted more speedily than even the cold water; why, I didn’t learn the reason for many a year.

The cord was effective, did all I wanted: after this experience I wore it regularly and within a week was again able to walk under the bar and afterwards jump it, able too to pull myself up with one hand till my chin was above the bar. I had conquered temptation and once more was captain of my body.

The second unsuspected experience was also a direct result, I believe, of my sex-awakening with Lucille and the intense sex-excitement. At all events it came just after the love-passages with her that I have described and post hoc is often propter hoc.

I had never yet noticed the beauties of nature; indeed whenever I came across descriptions of scenery in my reading, I always skipped them as wearisome. Now of a sudden, in a moment, my eyes were unsealed to natural beauties. I remember the scene and my rapt wonder as if it were yesterday. It was a bridge across the Dee near Overton in full sunshine; on my right the river made a long curve, swirling deep under a wooded height, leaving a little tawny sand-bank half bare just opposite to me: on my left both banks, thickly wooded, drew together and passed round a curve out of sight. I was entranced and speechless — enchanted by the sheer color-beauty of the scene — sunlit water there and shadowed here, reflecting the gorgeous vesture of the wooded height. And when I left the place and came out again and looked at the adjoining cornfields, golden against the green of the hedgerows and scattered trees, the colors took on a charm I had never noticed before: I could not understand what had happened to me.

It was the awakening of sex-life in me, I believe, that first revealed to me the beauty of inanimate nature.

A night or two later I was ravished by a moon nearly at the full that flooded our playing field with ivory radiance, making the haystack in the corner a thing of supernal beauty.

Why had I never before seen the wonder of the world? the sheer loveliness of nature all about mel From this time on I began to enjoy descriptions of scenery in the books I read and began, too, to love landscapes in painting.

Thank goodness! the miracle was accomplished, at long last, and my life enriched, ennobled, transfigured as by the bounty of a God! From that day on I began to live an enchanted life; for at once I tried to see beauty everywhere, and at all times, of day and night caught glimpses that ravished me with delight and turned my being into a hymn of praise and joy.

Faith had left me and with faith, hope in Heaven or indeed in any future existence: saddened and fearful, I was as one in prison with an undetermined sentence; but now in a moment the prison had become a paradise, the walls of the actual had fallen away into frames of entrancing pictures. Dimly I became conscious that if this life were sordid and mean, petty and unpleasant, the fault was in myself and in my blindness. I began then for the first time to understand that I myself was a magician and could create my own fairyland, ay and my own heaven, transforming this world into the throne-room of a god!

This joy, and this belief I want to impart to others more than almost anything else, for this has been to me a new Gospel of courage and resolve and certain reward, a man’s creed teaching that as you grow in wisdom and courage and kindness, all good things are added unto you.

I find that I am outrunning my story and giving here a stage of thought and belief that only became mine much later; but the beginning of my individual soul-life was this experience, that I had been blind to natural beauty and now could see; this was the root and germ, so to speak, of the later faith that guided all my mature life, filling me with courage and spilling over into hope and joy ineffable.

Very soon the first command of it came to my lips almost every hour: “Blame your own blindness! always blame yourself!”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/harris/frank/my-life-and-loves/chapter3.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:51