Innocence & Experience
A Daydream & Distraction by Redbud
- OK, there’s something about the absurdly overwrought Victorian style that I get a kick out of. I don’t even read Victorian literature, or very rarely. I can’t wait to get your reactions. The idea occurred to me yesterday while I was working.
April 14 1892 Innocence
I write to you in consideration of the most extraordinary tutoring session upon the morning of my majority. I confess that I am perplexed by this last most unexpected instruction. Upon what knowledge did we, progressing as we always have upon that which came before, arrive at such an intersection? I do confess a most peculiar effect. Nothing before this has so imposed itself upon my memory or so driven from the brain the companionship of any other thought. Why should this one session be tyrant to to any other? I now wish for no other comprehension but that which made so deep an impression upon me.
April 16 1892 Experience
You have ever been my most promising pupil. From that time your father first entrusted me with your education, when you were but a little girl, I have humbly endeavored to instill only that excellence as might befit one of your title and intelligence. The previous morning’s instruction, upon the age of your majority, is but the flowering of your education. Truly Madam, though the thrust of my argument was most pointed, you did exceedingly answer each point with the proper draught, timbre and pitch — not as a girl but with a woman’s hue. I am greatly pleased.
April 18 1892 Innocence
Is it thus that I am to receive the continuance of my education? Is it thus that a woman must be directed and steered? I have ever received my tutelage seated and upright and accounted myself no different in reason or intelligence than any boy with whom I have occasionally been acquainted. I had fully an equal expectation in life and ambition. Yet now I distractedly seek only that most extraordinary circumstance in which I, I must confess, was most fully and deeply able to receive your instruction.
April 19 1892 Experience
It is ever thus that a girl’s education proceeds into womanhood. As God has made man upright and stout, so woman is made pliable and receptive. What you desire, to receive a man’s guidance as a vessel her Captain, is that seed planted in every girl by our mutual creator. For this reason do you find it fitting and natural to thus receive instruction. For this reason do you desire it again beyond reason or thought. In this manner a girl, become a woman, assumes her most fitting role. And in like manner does God plant a reciprocal seed in every boy. It is as natural for him, desiring to most ably Captain his own vessel, to mount and steer her from the stern as for the girl, the vessel, to thus receive her steerage.
April 21 1892 Innocence
This afternoon’s instruction was as extraordinary as before. Truly, when I am thus commandeered, my knees planted wide, hips raised like the ship’s stern, and my chin upon the ground like her prow, I am shamed that all my thoughts are driven from my mind as gulls before a gale. Thus am I most eager to receive command. My will, study, consideration, and all my girlish ambitions are but naught. I am but an empty vessel awaiting my Captain. My Captain’s steerage is a stout and heavy beam – a compass; and until his storm breaks in my belly – froths and foams – I have no other desire but to feel that wetness. Surely, the ship’s keel does not more desire the salt of the open ocean. I am at a loss. Even now I think on naught else. I am like a moored yacht which, until my Captain and commander mounts me, idles without purpose or direction. Little did I dream that all my tutelage would thus be crowned.
Such as you describe is most natural and bespeaks a propriety that all girls assume upon womanhood; for indeed, once a girl has been so trimmed and boarded, she will desire ought but that service. I am sure you will be delighted and much reassured to note that instruction shall continue apace. I am pleased to have made so deep and indelible impression; and am assured that another incoming tide will mark your thighs again and load, once more, your hull with rightful freight. No vessel should long be left unattended, but her hull should be often bellied and weighted with manly trade.
April 26 1892 Innocence
Indeed, Sir, no vessel should be unattended. I am unmoored and list. I do count the days until I am, once again, and most confidently, manned. How little did I comprehend, poor girl that I was. Only but now do I give thought to Jason and the Argonauts. Was not the Argo famed? Do but think on what blandishments she must have enjoyed! Did not Sir Francis Drake have his Golden Hind? Did not our eternally famed Horatio Nelson have his HMS Captain? To have been commanded by such a man among men! – a veritable Ulysses! Such thoughts do course through me as I never suffered as a girl. What reason had I? Now the waters do rise. An incoming tide moistens and readies all. I do desire a Captain’s firm hand. I do desire a Ulysses! Whither should I go? I know not and am nothing until I fully receive and know my Captain’s stout resolve.
I am sure, Madam, such blandishments as the Argo, Golden Hind, and HMS Captain were privy to are beyond my measure. I am but a meager sailor. Do but privilege me more humble horizons. I do but live to serve.
May 2 1892 Innocence
If I am so singular a galley – truly I trust you are loathe to surrender such a rare and exquisite sloop – then the proper maintenance of such a vessel should be of no small consequence. Verily, I belly with your freightage. Such a vessel must be safely harbored and tended. Her deck planks must receive their due in cotton, oakum and pitch. Sir, her seams must be regularly packed. Her hull must be tended to prevent fouling. A vessel that is tallowed and careened well and smoothly may sail the faster and will gladly and happily bare her Captain to wider and more glorious shores. Verily, if she is not well tended, I have it upon good knowledge that worms will surely pierce, eat through and bed within her oaken ribs. Strange and dank waters will penetrate and flood her belly. Her timbers will weaken and rot. Surely, just as the girl comes to know her place among men, so too must a man assume his commensurate duties to the becoming woman. In no tempest may a woman expect to succeed but upon, one might say, the firm and stout guidance of a man. I am sure my father is most desirous that I continue upon my instruction with one who whose reputation has ever been, and is even now, most spotless and of good report. It would be most lamentable were I to inform him of my present circumstance. I await, Sir, your response and, as ever, remain most desirous of your firm instruction and guidance.
May 14 1982 Experience
My dear Argo, my Golden Hind. Not the galleys of Antony reclined in such splendor. This very afternoon, Madame, I have obtained a surpassing grandeur. I am most anticipatory. Your company shall be expected at 2:20 this afternoon. I am assured. I have spared no expense to secure those amenities befitting your station. I am persuaded that you will find a domicile, in every regard, well appointed and of an unimpeachable finish. I am confident of your father’s continued approval.
May 15 1982 Innocence
My belovèd Ulysses!
My commander, Captain, stern hand and firm counselor, truly have a found safe harbor. Little did I expect to be so boarded, so navigated, so commandeered upon my arrival. My sail bellies forth with your sudden and uncompromising gale. My womb, moist and swelling, obeys your prerogative. I am reassured that our estranged correspondence shall soon end. Rather, as a Captain and vessel, we are now joined. We make journey upon a living ocean and cannot, and shall not, be sundered but by that misfortune which must, in time, befall us all. Let us be the makers and discoverers of new continents. O, let us give name to unimagined shores! Even now, my Captain, O my Ulysses, your vessel awaits you. Board me! Invigorate me with the compass of your unbending and confident beam. A woman is naught but that she be made whole by a man’s unyielding directive. I bend. I lower my prow and lift my stern. I am pliable. I wait to be manned, my Captain. O, let us circumnavigate love’s equatorial!
☼ William Crimson September 5 2011