Chapter summary: All children grow to become their parents. You think my father was harsh? It's not polite for the undead to speak ill of the living, so I'll only say that I wish, wish, wish I turned out like him, instead of ... Well, if wishes were horses ...
WARNING! Content contains repeated use of profanity, expressions of homophobia, and descriptions of sexual machinations. If any of this offends you, please avoid this chapter. If you think the early 1930s did not contain situations or attitudes so described, PM me and we can discuss the topic further offline, that is, if you are willing to engage in a reasoned and researched discussion. Let me just say that the prevailing view now is quite different in its tolerance than what it was then. Caveat lector.
It was two weeks before the big day, my wedding day, when I heard my mother's commanding tone.
"Rosalie," she called.
I could tell how angry my mother was with me in her call. 'Rosalie' meant she needed to deal with her annoying daughter. 'Rosalie Hale' meant that there was a serious issue to be dealt with ... with serious consequences. When she called 'Rosalie Lillian Hale', though ... I had her call me twice in my life by my full name. And that was twice more than I had ever wanted to hear, for one of those times was when she caught me crying when I was ten.
I never cried again in my life.
And, now, I cannot cry. Funny, isn't it, how Fate enjoys its ironic power over me?
I had never, ever, heard her call me Rose. She didn't love me, you see, and she saw no need for pretense.
So she had called me, and I left my room immediately and went downstairs to see what trouble I had caused. I couldn't recall any transgressions. Two weeks, I though as I descended the stairs.
"Yes, Mother?" I asked, standing in front of her. I had learnt quickly and at a very young age that a Hale child does not shout across the house, like children of those lower classes. When called, one went.
"Ah, yes, Rosalie, there you are," and her face turned up into an expression that I had never seen directed toward me before. She "smiled".
I became very, very cautious as I waited for her attack.
"The wedding preparations are all but complete, so we now need to discuss the importance of the marriage, starting with the honeymoon. Shall we retire to your room to discuss this in a more private setting?"
I had been told that this kind of talk was called 'The Birds and the Bees', and relaxed my guard slightly.
I should have known by now that I should never relax my guard around Mother.
So, having just come from my room, I followed Mother back up the stairs to my room. Exercise. Exercise is always very good for one's health.
You may wonder why Mother simply didn't come to my room to talk, if that was our destination anyway. Obviously, you are not a Hale. A Hale doesn't go looking around for things needlessly: things come to a Hale. Even if 'things' is a daughter. After all, I may not have been in my room, right? Because I could have been ... I don't know ... I could have been in Ottawa, or some such place.
She took up a commanding presence in the center of my room after a cursory sweep to find anything out of place. She looked disappointed that my room was impeccably ordered. So she swept her hand over my desk and tsked with disapproval at the imaginary dust she collected on her fingers. I didn't sit down, of course, but I didn't offer her a seat, either. If she would have wished to sit, she would have already, and any move on my part in that direction would only make Mother's temper worse ... than what it always was.
With Mother, saying less was always the better course.
"Now," she said, demanding my full attention, "what is the purpose of this alliance to the Kings?"
Mother usually did not ask open-ended questions, but it wasn't hard for me to guess the correct answer to this one. The 'correct answer' being 'the answer she expected'.
"To advance ourselves, Mother," I responded dutifully. My views on the matter were best kept buried very deeply until after I had made my escape into Royce's big, strong arms. No sense in ruining my happily-ever-after now so soon to that magical day.
Mother seemed not to like my offered answer, however: "Yes, of course, to advance ourselves, but that's merely accidental! Now give your answer some thought for a change! What do we gain here?"
Now I was confused. Up to this point, whenever she talked with someone, she had always supplied the answer to her questions in her question. She gave me no such hint now. I did turn my mind to what she asked, but I couldn't see how she would wish me to respond, so I took the safest course and remained silent.
"What do they teach children in school these days?" Mother shook her head. "Looking at you, I weep for the future."
As if she had ever shed a tear in her life. Maybe she did. When she had me, her ultimate disappointment.
Two weeks. Just two weeks.
"Look around you, girl! What do you see? The mighty engine of progress has come to a screeching halt, and those socialists and unionists are making sure it will never restart, and not just here in America but throughout the whole civilized world. What would be the outcome if your father were to lose his position at the bank?" Mother was on one of her rampages again: she had made it her personal cause to stamp out all hints of the scourge of Marxism she observed rising alarmingly throughout the world. Whenever Father discussed business at home — how profits were negatively affected in a business the bank invested in because of a strike by the workers — I could see the fires burning within her being fanned and fueled.
"Mother," I attempted a placating tone, "Father is president at the bank. He is the most important person there. Such a thing would never occur."
"Open your eyes!" she snarled — I guess I didn't placate very well — "that's what every one of those hobos thought before they got the ax. Your father is only important to the Kings for as long as they think him so. But I've seen it happen, and you've seen it happen. And it can very easily happen to your father. One day he'll be at ease in his chair in his office, and the next day they'll throw him out onto the street! And then what happens? Our house, our living, everything: Poof! Gone!"
In retrospect, Mother was right, and I was wrong ... and it was, after all, all my fault. I was just too beautiful not to be noticed when Mother had me bring lunch to Father on the very day Royce II was touring the properties and businesses owned by the King family.
Ah, look at me: the beautiful, cold, hard and dead girl. But this little vibrant girl in my arms was so soft and warm, filled with that heavenly blood ... and with that so desirable life. O! to be human again and ...
Well, no sense in crying over spilt blood.
Tee-hee. I can't cry, anyway, so that makes that resolution a rather facile one to follow, especially since there was no visible spillage of blood, and, soon, hopefully, her menses would cease its flow as well when she moved back into Phase I.
What's done is done, and all that.
And I didn't spill any of Royce's blood, either, during that special time we shared as not-husband and not-wife. No sense having blood pouring out of him, causing me to go into a frenzy and ruining my fun in the first hour when there was nearly eight more glorious hours of pure delight for one of the parties, ... and pure pain for the other.
"But the Kings," I recollected myself to that past as Mother continued her diatribe, "they don't have jobs to lose, they have jobs to dole out! They are indeed a true aristocrasy. You are advancing us with this very exalted match, but the vital thing you do for our family is to secure us. But do the wedding vows help in any way here?"
"Ummm," I offered.
I shouldn't have hesitated, and I should have listened for the answer in her question.
"So unattractive," she tsked, "so very unattractive! Know what to say before you say it, and until then say nothing. No, the wedding vows do not help, not in any way at all. Do you think your Royce will continue to shower affection on you after the honeymoon? Do you think he will dote on you ten years from now as he dotes on you now?"
Of course he would! Of course he would! Royce was the perfect gentleman, and so romantic, too. This very room was filled with the roses and violets to prove it.
"You see these flowers?" Mother waved at the evidence dismissively, "How many husbands have you ever seen give their wives flowers? How many husbands have you ever seen shower affection on their wives? You've been out in society for two years now, can you name any?"
Well, Vera's husband was always kissing her when he thought I didn't notice. And I had seen him bring home flowers on more than one occasion. And the look on my friend's face when he did ... O! Every husband should bring his wife home flowers at least once a month, just to watch her drop and break the china like Vera did. She cried almost as much as this little thing did when I helped her with her feminine needs in the outhouse that first time.
So, flowers and sanitary napkins: two sure ways to bring tears to your girl's eyes.
Not that this girl in my arms is my girl, or anything like that.
Right, right, right. Let's get back to Mother's diatribe, shall we? That's a course that's already been charted and sailed.
So I remained silent, not answering Mother's question. Mentioning a carpenter's family would not help the conversation any, I surmised.
"You can't name any because they aren't any. This may be hard for you to hear now, Rosalie, but listen well: Royce will lose all interest in you soon after the honeymoon, if not sooner. And you know why?" she asked. I guessed this was a rhetorical question.
I was right.
"It's because Royce is a man, that's why, and he follows his nature, as all men do. Men hunt. But once they capture their prize, they abandon it for the next prize, and the next. Men are unfaithful, but it's not their fault: it is simply their nature. So you think you are capturing your man with the wedding vows? No. You are in fact driving him away with those very vows you seek to bind him with, because once he has you, he's on to the next filly that he seeks to rein in. So, how do you bind him then?"
She waited all of two seconds.
"Think, Rosalie!" Mother was just a well of patience today. "You use his very nature, don't you see? The hunter needs to protect his own, so you need to provide him something to protect, right away. If you do that, he will stay; if not, he will stray. You must provide him a male heir, and you must do this with no delay. But here's the thing, Rosalie, and this requires experience so I can forgive you for not knowing it ..."
Mother? Forgiving? I worked hard to maintain my blank composure.
"... but will your husband help you in any way to conceive a child knowingly?" She smiled triumphantly, sure in her superiority.
Royce and I hadn't spoken of children yet, but I didn't see there being a need. Obviously we were getting married and obviously we were going to have a happy family with beautiful children. I could see them in my mind's eye: blond-haired boys, at least two of them, and at least one little girl who looked like me, but with the cuteness that youth gave. All with perfect complexions and steel-blue eyes. All so beautiful: my children. My beautiful children in my beautiful family in my beautiful home.
That is simply what was done. There was no more need to discuss this than to discuss taking one's next breath.
"Mother, Royce seems very ..." I tried to help her see that there wouldn't be a problem here, that I and Royce both were 'willing coconspirators' in her 'grand scheme'.
She cut me off with an authoritative wave.
"Of course he seems 'very'," she twisted my word with her mocking tone. "But you will come to find that he is 'very' only when you are in two states and neither of those is when you are fertile. He will attack you in lust only when you are sick and only when you have your period. Do you know why?"
I blinked at Mother in shock. I could not believe she was saying something so outrageous.
"Hm. Rosalie, you will be getting married in two weeks, so I do not have the time to mince words with you. I will be speaking to you plainly so that my meaning is clear. These are far too important matters to treat with innuendo."
Mother had always been very frank. Did this mean she thought she was being subtle before? What would speaking plainly mean to her? I prepared myself: I would soon be finding out.
"He will press himself upon you during those times, that is, if you are lucky after the honeymoon, because he knows you will not conceive. That is the safest time for him to have his way with you, because conception means a child, and a child means responsibility, and responsibility means the possibility for failure. A man has no stomach at all for failure, because a man only wishes to do what he has done before and nothing else. You know what responsibility means to a man? That he must do less of what he will like and more of what he won't. No man will venture down that path, no matter what verbal protestations he argues. Do you know what a man thinks? A man thinks not what he says — even though he is proud to boast his mental faculties — a man thinks what he does. 'Yes, dear, I want a son!' he cries, as he refuses to fuck you during your fertile period, particularly when you tell him you are fertile. So how do you get him to give you this security?"
I was stunned. Had I just heard what she said so nonchalantly? Had she just said 'to fuck you'?
"Obviously, you take any and every opportunity you can during the honeymoon to have relations with him. Don't go sightseeing: fuck him."
Yes, she had just said that.
"Get him just drunk enough for him to lose his natural caution but not too drunk so that he loses his potency. Then, maximize the intended use of the honeymoon."
Mother was being more intimate with me, as it were, than she had ever been before. I now missed the distance that our formality had kept between us. This 'birds and bees' talk was going quite differently than any way I had thought it would have gone.
"If you are fortunate, you will conceive, and if you are very fortunate, it will be a son. Then your task becomes so much easier, because you can point to the first as an experience to gain the rest. It will still be hard, because the male sex cannot count beyond one before becoming tired, as you will find out in your private chambers, but it will not be monumentally hard."
I counted the years. Mother and Father had been married nineteen years. I was the 'honeymoon fuck' she was now so coldly describing. No wonder she hated me so, I had failed to be that necessary first son, and even though Father stayed with her, and didn't go hunting the next filly, as she put it, it seemed she had never forgiven me the transgression of my sex.
"But if you do not conceive during the honeymoon, ... oh, Rosalie! Well, then you have your work cut out for you, and you must apply your every effort to this single end. It will be a difficult undertaking, but not an impossible one. The first steps will be to use what you have learnt of his likes from the honeymoon. During your fertile time, get him slightly drunk, or fake an illnesses, as before. But these only work for a little while. In a few months time, you will be no more interesting to him than the morning newspaper. Less so, even. This is when you need to take matters into your own hands. You will find your man will sleep at the drop of a hat, and then, when asleep, not even the Final Trump will wake him. This is a good thing. While he sleeps, take him, that is take his manhood, in hand. Two strokes should be enough to prepare him. Mount him then, and you should soon enough have what you need."
I had now heard so much that I lost my ability to judge what I was hearing. Had Mother just told me to ...
"If only all conjugations were that easy: no fuss and no clumsy groping from his part! But that is the easy part. The hard part is the pain from the follow-on subterfuge. For, nine months later, there is a baby, and he thinks it's not his, casting you out of house and home, unless you submit to the following. He will be randy when the moon reaches its fullness, and he will be thinking you're experiencing your menstruation. Let him take you. He'll be rough, as he finally gets to conquer his prize during your frailty — men like nothing better than to attack the weak — but when the pregnancy develops he'll have no excuses, and you'll have given his family and ours the heir and the security we need."
"Now, as for the rest of the marriage, it will all become rather routine. During your period, make sure he's very drunk — unless he's a mean drunk, that is — but if you're unable to stop his advances, just turn around quickly before he can pin and mount you, then wiggle so that his manhood rests between your cheeks and give it a couple of strokes from your backside. He should be asleep before he even finishes, and you can extricate yourself and bathe to remove his disgusting leavings from your back. As long as he doesn't enter you anally, which will be easy for you to manage, seeing how men are so clumsy, this maneuver will saves you quite a bit of unnecessary pain. These moments will happen only in the first year or so of marriage, so I recommend you keep a towel on your side of the bed to clean yourself after such occasions."
A towel. I could just image the scenario with Royce as Mother described. I could just imagine it, but I wished I couldn't.
"But after the first year he will lose all interest in you and will start playing the field. Now, this is where your skills of the lady of the house come into play. I think there is nothing more disgusting than fucking the help: you shouldn't shit where you eat, and you shouldn't shit where you live."
I had never heard this kind of language from Mother before. She had always seemed so austere, prim and proper, but now her mouth flowed with such profanity that I didn't know if she had been possessed. But behind those frightfully offensive words, I still saw the cold, hard, steely woman I had always known to be Mother. It was if she had always been this way, this 'frank' person, and hidden behind a mask of propriety. That mask was clearly removed now.
"And when I say 'you' I mean Royce, mostly, but we will turn to you as well presently. Like I said, a disgusting pursuit, fucking the help, but the alternative: a string of affairs? Difficult and costly to manage and then to cover up. Also, mistresses tend to take over the house, bit by bit, until you are the stranger living in your own home; until you are the kept woman, and the current mistress rules from what was once your throne. But the help? Very easily managed, and it costs nothing to dismiss them. Think of the other advantages: a mistress can exert power from within by manipulating your husband, but she can very easily ruin your entire family through many channels, including the social network and even the presses. You do not wish to see your name in the New York Times in that light. O! the horror! But the help? As soon as they think of whispering a word to anyone, firstly, they would be ignored — what's their word against yours? — and secondly, you, if you managed them properly, have all the power over them anyway. Firing, with a scathing reference, is always an option, but a much better one is to keep them on ... what better way to make a servant's life a living Hell on Earth than for them to be forced to service your every cruel whim as you take out your wrath of your husband's infidelity on them? There are few pleasures more rare than that, let me tell you ... not that I would know from personal experience, mind you."
Mother's vindictive tone during the imagined torture seemed much too warm to make her caveat, thrown in at the end, have any weight whatsoever. I wondered which servant or servants had felt this wrath. I wondered who Father had been f...
"So, you must keep your husband's wandering eye within the confines of the house. And it is so simple to do. Have him present at the hiring of all staff. If he is unsubtle — and what man is subtle, really? — hire the ones he stares at the most, and then hire five more having the same looks, just so if one is off that day or unwell or having her period, he can choose from the others. However, if your husband is sly — and Royce does have that quickness in the way he looks out of the corner of his eyes — then you must observe him more carefully. You will know the ones he doesn't give a fig about: he'll look at them, or he won't, without a care in his head. But the ones he does covet? A flash of a look, then he will become very interested in something else ... but he won't be able to resist looking at least once more. That is the one, Rosalie, bring that one onto your staff, and you will have more domestic tranquility that you would with a man wandering about town with his various expensive and spiteful mistresses. Heed my words well. But then there's the opposite problem, and this seems to be the one your fiancé may have."
Royce having a problem, that is, a problem worse than what she had just described? Mother seemed to think it would be a foregone conclusion that the man I was going to marry would be hopping from bed to bed, and the best thing for me to do was to provide the beds in our own house. I could not imagine a worse problem than that.
"There is the very real issue that your Royce will prefer fucking other men to sleeping with you or other women."
I guess I should have tried to imagine harder.
"Mother!" I was finally shocked so much that I had found my voice. "I am absolutely certain ..."
"Of what? Has he tried to fuck you yet?"
"Mother! I cannot believe you are asking me such a question! Of course not! We are ..."
"Has he made any sexual advances at all? A kiss, perhaps?"
"No, Mother, but that doesn't mean that ..."
"And he enjoys the company of his friends? More so than with you? Even though he's getting married to you in two weeks time?"
"..." I had opened my mouth, but nothing came out. She was determined to see signs where there were none, but it seemed she wouldn't allow me to offer any defense of his innocence or character.
"Hm. Yes. Quite." Mother smiled cruelly. "But this arrangement actually does have its benefits if you manage it properly. The trick here is getting the heir, but that's actually not so hard, for now you have power over your husband, and you both can come to a very amicable arrangement. Hold him over the barrel, but then give him an out. Of course his parents will know nothing of his, ahem, preferences and will still desire a grandson. So, you speak plainly with him: require him to fuck you once a week, except during your period, for the rest of his life, and for the other six days he can visit his boyfriends. You will both walk away, together, happy in this arrangement, and men having his nature, I hear, can be good friends with their wives as the years progress. Just require him to keep his end of the bargain, because I know you well, Rosalie: you won't settle for blandness, will you? It will be you whom you will need to control. Make sure that once you start fucking the help, they look a good deal like your husband, that way the parentage of the child will not come under scrutiny."
This had gone too far. "Mother! I'm not going to ..."
"Of course, Rosalie, of course you won't start fucking the help. Or so you think. I could tell you to be satisfied with your own devices, but I know you. Oh, yes I do. Don't think you've hidden that tempestuous nature of yours from me. Once you have a warm body beside you, even if it's that husband who's eye wanders to his own valet, you won't settle for your pillow or your own hand, will you? You won't settle for fucking yourself for your own release. Besides, you are a Hale, aren't you: dominating every situation? But don't be Hedda Gabler. Fuck the help, not some other, outside, man: the help are very easily dominated and cannot threaten you with scandal."
She wasn't finished. "But that's the easy part, getting the heir and other children from your limp-wristed husband. And, as a father ... or as a second mother, as it were, he can be quite helpful, attentive, ... loving, even. But he will not help making the boys into men that will, themselves, sire heirs. In this, you must take a leading rôle, but you must take this yoke very, very carefully. A boy dominated by his mother becomes his mother, and so your attempt to make a strong boy by showing too much strength will backfire, and you won't have a boy at all: you have a girl with a dick. Be very, very careful, Rosalie, and make sure that you have many sons so that at least one of them will be fruitful."
"But let's say that Royce really is a man that is, indeed, a man."
I was glad Mother had left the topic of Royce preferring men to me, but I feared what this change of topic would bring. I did not think it would turn to the perfect family life I had envisioned.
"Now that you've got him fucking the help ..." she started, and I knew I was right.
"... you've actually made your own life harder, because now you must convince him, in some way, to have relations with you even as he parades his dick around the house, and for you to remain satisfied enough that you don't start making mistakes yourself. You have got to make him fuck you weekly, Rosalie, not just when he senses your period coming along, and you have got to figure a way to do this. Remember the adage: you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Entice him in whichever way you can. You may think he's the most disagreeable man in the world, but you need his participation to sire an heir, because if he's not fucking you, and you have a servant boy fill you with his seed, it's going to be very hard to convince him that the child is his, no matter how carefully you choose your substitute."
"But if your Royce is a man, its better to stay away from the boys all together. You have a much better set of lovers that you can use to fulfill multiple ends. Listen to me carefully, Rosalie," she paused and looked me in the eye. "Fuck his lovers, Rosalie."
"What!" I shouted, and I was very glad my face was made up, because I could feel the heat burning in my cheeks.
"Yes, Rosalie, those maids that your Royce sticks his dick into: those are to be your lovers, and they will be the best sources for you in several ways. Let me count them." She raise her hand, ticking off the points on her fingers.
I did not think Mother was going to start reciting a sonnet by Shakespeare.
"First, a maid may get uppity. Fuck her. Fuck her hard, and she will submit to you instead of flout her conquest in front of you. Second, she will be the best source of your husband's likes and dislikes, become her confidante and use this knowledge to get him into your bed on occasion. Third, there's nothing like dominating your husband's lover, and a man is so very unoriginal. Each time he fucks her in one place, fuck her there, marking it as your own territory, and then fuck her in four more places that very same day. Make her beg. You know where your heights are, bring her almost to that peak, and leave her there until she submits entirely to you. Make her beg, make her beg a long time for it. Then, when you give her that release? She will do anything you want her to do to get back there again. But only give it to her when you want to AND, and now listen carefully here, each time after your Royce fucks her. Make sure the last fuck she remembers is not from that two-pump chump but from you, her lover that satisfied her so completely she needed a day of bed-rest to recover. And on that day of her convalescence? Make her so completely yours she won't know up from down. Make her wash the sheets you slept with her on, even though she's exhausted, but then feed her soup as she recovers in her bed. Make her fear you and make her worship you. Make her cower at your every look but long for a single touch from you. So totally dominate her that there is nothing, especially not Royce, that she thinks of besides you. Then with her so trained, she'll even look forward to his dick, because she knows she's going to be your pussy cat soon after that. You'll have a perfect, obedient, submissive spy on your husband in her."
"And then the fun begins." Mother clapped her hands then rubbed them together briskly and gleefully.
"He will eventually tire of her. That is the time always to be bringing her out in front of him, always to be humiliating him with little comments to the servant girl ... not about him, but, oh, about the weather, or the news of the day ... always to have his shame before him. In this way, you can rein him in with what was his conquest, and he will do anything to avoid that displeasure ... even sleep with that awful wife of his. He may even grow affectionate then. Fuck him then, good and hard, and possibly in such a way as the girl knows it. Shame her as she had shamed you, with the same man. Revenge like this tastes o! so sweet! He'll move onto the next fuck sometime shortly. Move on with him, of course: this game never gets old. As for the girl he abandoned? You may dispose of her, or keep her, as you desire." She thought for a second and then added: "Probably best to dispose of her, you're going to be busy with the new girl, and you can't have cat fights under your roof."
I wondered how many girls Mother had disposed of throughout the years.
"Or don't dispose of her. Hm. Yes. That's better. It's always best to parade what were his trophies in front of him on occasion. A walk down memory lane, as it were, and good help is hard to find. She'll even work extra hard as she pines for you. Yes, it's probably best to keep her. You can get a quick treat now and then, too, as she knows what you like, as opposed to the new girl you are training. Yes, probably best to keep her on. Good help, and a good trained fuck, are hard to find these days."
I guess not many, then.
"So, Rosalie, do you understand what I have told you?"
I stared at her. She sighed.
"All that schooling. What a waste. I couldn't have said it plainer: fuck him, get an heir, and rule the house. Simplicity itself. Just remember, fuck him until the heir is secured. Fuck him, Rosalie, for, after all, marriage is all about that ... isn't it?"
She started to leave. But there was too much she said that I wondered if it came from very personal experience. I had to ask: "Mother," she paused to look at me with a cocked eyebrow, "do you love Father at all?"
"Such impertinence, child! Remember your place! What makes you ask such a question? We have, after all, been married coming up on these twenty years now." And she swept out of the room.
I realized, as she left, that she didn't really answer my question. Perhaps her non-answer was her answer? Perhaps that was her intent?