The Sweetest Fruit

The Sweetest Fruit

by Robert Desmond
Another classic by Robert Desmond, Olympia's second-most mysterious author after "Ataullah Mardaan." The Sweetest Fruit, published in 1961 as part of the short-lived Ophir Books series, is a contrast between two men, arrogant Ben and humble, clergyman David. The book details, in graphic detail, just how these two gentlemen go about things with their women and their


Another classic by Robert Desmond, Olympia's second-most mysterious author after "Ataullah Mardaan." The Sweetest Fruit, published in 1961 as part of the short-lived Ophir Books series, is a contrast between two men, arrogant Ben and humble, clergyman David. The book details, in graphic detail, just how these two gentlemen go about things with their women and their mistresses. David loves Connie despite being afraid of her, Connie loves Ben, despite how he treats her, David finds solace in the chaste, virginal, Dorothy, Dorothy at the end takes revenge on David for refusing to leave his wife.

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Chapter 1

To Connie's surprise, the person who answered her ringing of the doorbell at the vicarage of Saint Crispin's was a burly young man dressed in narrow corduroy pants, a checkered lumberjack shirt and sandals. He said he was the Reverend David Chadcroft and invited her to state her business, but he scarcely listened to what she said, so fascinated was he by her near-nakedness. Actually she was by no means scantily clad. True, her dress was rather low-cut at the neckline; but otherwise there was no more than an aura of nudity about her. Her olive-green dress clung to her breasts, waist, belly and thighs like a second skin, conveying the impression that she wore nothing underneath. The effect was to render her, in David's eyes, less clothed than a girl in the briefest of bikinis. His confusion was such that he was not sure she had really said what he thought he had heard, but, blushing and stammering, he ushered her into his study, where he sat her in a leather armchair so low and deep that it offered her the choice of stretching her legs straight out in front of her or keeping her feet close to the chair so that her legs were bent at the knees which were thus presented to his gaze in the most flattering aspect. She chose the latter pose, since otherwise she would have been lying rather than sitting in the presence of a man she was meeting for the first time. David sat on his desk, one foot on the floor, the other pendant; and his eyes devoured Connie as he said:

"If I've understood you correctly, Miss Lashfield, Miss Sandaw, who is as you say, a member of my congregation, has alienated the affections of your fiancée, and you'd like me to remonstrate with her. Is thatso?"

She hesitated, tempted to disagree, but then answered:

"That's more or less the situation."

"And you think that if Elsie ceased associating with?er??"

"Ben Trawler."

"Oh, yes. You think he'd still want to marry you and that you and he could be happy together, even though you both know he prefers Elsie?"

Chadcroft had misinterpreted the situation, and Connie did not wish to lose his sympathy by putting him on the right track too quickly; but it was difficult to answer without misleading him.

"If Elsie Sandaw would leave Ben alone," she said, "I'm pretty sure I could persuade him to come back to me. As for marriage and the future?well, that would be for him and me to work out together. I certainly wouldn't marry a man who thought of me as a sort of consolation prize."

"Which is precisely what you would be. I don't wish to be brutal; but Trawler prefers Elsie to you to such an extent that he's broken off your engagement. I know Elsie. If she deliberately intervened between a man and his fiancée, it can only be because she loves the man very dearly. In the unlikely event of my feeling justified in interfering in the private affairs of a highly respected and devout member of my parish, I think she'd silence me with the argument that she and Trawler are in love, and that it's better Ben should have discovered it before marrying you than when it was too late. Don't you agree that such is one of the objects of a period of betrothal?that the man and the girl should have an opportunity of getting to know one another and one another's family and friends, but that each should consider it a right and even a solemn duty to be frank the moment doubts begin to enter his or her mind?"

She coolly crossed her lovely legs, taking careful note of the glint her thigh-revealing gesture brought to his eyes. So her hopes of getting Ben back depended on the help of a lascivious hypocrite whose apparent tolerance was based upon indifference. It was almost time, she thought, to give him a shock, but he was entitled to one more chance. She replied:

"There are no doubts in my mind, and there were none in Ben's until Elsie Sandaw came along and set out to take him from me. Surely, as a priest, you have the authority to forbid one of your parishioners from maliciously taking another woman's lover from her!"

"I neither have such powers nor would I use them if the Church invested me with them. I'm a minister of the Christian Church; within the Church and within my parish I'm just a member of a community, neither saintlier nor more intelligent nor more powerful than my brethren. As the incumbent of this parish I have certain administrative duties, some of which I may delegate, and I have ceremonial responsibilities which I alone, as an ordained clergyman, may carry out. I have authority in a way?by virtue of the fact that, while one man has studied shoemaking and another carpentry, I have studied theology, the Holy Scriptures. That means that I'm expected to be able to guide others in their search for God and for the truth, but I do mean 'guide.' If it's true that Elsie willfully stole your fiancée from you, I'd welcome an opportunity of showing her the error of her ways, but I'm not prepared to call upon her, or intercept her on her way home from work or church, in order to tax her with this peccadillo?"

"Do you mean that you regard fornication as a slight offense?"

"I beg your pardon!"

He rose to his full height, genuinely angry, but she remained comfortably ensconced, rejoicing in his anger, which surprised her pleasantly. Convinced he had more warm water than Christian blood in his veins, she had not expected him to react quite so energetically to her taunt. She began to hope that the weapon she had been keeping in reserve was going to win the day for her.

"I think you heard me," she drawled, and he snapped:

"I certainly did. How dare you make such an infamous suggestion! Elsie Sandaw is one of the most regular attenders at church and other parochial activities. A more respectable and devout girl I have yet to meet, and you come here, devoured by jealousy, and hurl the most disgusting insults at her! On what do you base your charge? Have you witnessed their misconduct? Has one of them admitted it to you? Did your boyfriend boast to you about it?"

"Not to me, no, but he'll tell some of his cronies about Elsie the same as he told them about me."

"You mean??"

"I mean that Ben and I were lovers?lovers, and nothing more."

"You weren't engaged to be married? No! Then why did you tell me you were?"

"I told you Elsie Sandaw had stolen my boyfriend, and that I wanted you to use your influence to get her to give him up. You repeated what I'd said, but since you didn't appear to be listening very attentively, it's not surprising that you got hold of the wrong end of the stick. I didn't want to complicate matters by putting you right, because the situation remains the same."

Nonplussed by the knowledge that she had registered his interest in her person rather than in her initial statement of her problem, he asked vaguely:

"Does it?"

"One of the star members of your congregation is having an illicit affair with a notorious lady-killer. It's your duty to call her back to her senses."

"So that you can resume your illicit relationship with him?"

He sounded unhappy, as though wishing he were the one with whom she wanted to go to bed. She smiled and said:

"Ben and I are none of your business. You can't be expected to connive at our immorality. All you have to do is to persuade Elsie that her immortal soul is more important than a few hours of lechery."

He rested his posterior on the edge of his desk, thought for a moment and asked:

"You expect me to approach a girl of whose moral integrity I'm absolutely convinced, and advise her to cease her sinful liaison with Ben Trawler?"

Arrogantly she replied: "Not advise, but command!"

"Miss Lashfield, you've accused me of not listening carefully to your opening remarks; and I plead guilty. You're not the sort of girl who comes to the vicarage every day. You're a handsome young woman with a certain?obvious charm, which may have confused me initially. Now, will you be equally frank with me, and admit that you weren't listening when I explained why I can't command any member of my parish to do anything? Elsie has not even committed the offense of breaking up a betrothal. Since you and Ben were not engaged lovers, you can hardly expect me to tear him from the arms of a decent woman, who might be his salvation, and throw him back into your bed."

"She's not a decent woman, and she won't save him from a life of sin. She's his doxy, as I was. Before me there were a dozen others, and he'll tire of Elsie. After her there'll be a dozen more. He's a monster. If you don't intervene quickly, he'll transform your sweet Elsie into a trollop. They don't make love. They indulge in every obscenity imaginable. He'll pervert her so that when he casts her off no normal man will be of any use to her."

"Miss Lashfield, control yourself," he barked. "Do you know where you are? To whom you're speaking?"

Connie wondered whether he understood what she had been saying. His anger suggested he did, in which case he either did not believe her or did not care whether or not one of his parishioners was on the way to Hell. She asked him:

"Mr. Chadcroft, do you doubt that Elsie Sandaw is in danger?"

"I'm sure she isn't; or rather, I have such faith in her that I believe she'll profit from her own peril to bring herself and Trawler back from the edge of the pit."

Connie struggled to her feet and spat into David's face:

"No man can be so stupid. You know I'm speaking the truth, but you daren't take the bull by the horns, or you don't want to. Don't you care? Or are you so busy posing as the popular, broad-minded, progressive, beatnik priest that, rather than offend a parishioner, you'll let her rot, provided that, as the worms of sin crawl over her stinking body, she sings hymns of praise to the modern, tolerant cleric?"

Furious though he was, he took her shoulders gently between his hands and sought to lower her into the armchair; she thought he wished to take her in his arms, and although he disgusted her, she hoped he would kiss her passionately, so that, breaking from his embrace, she could hurl abuse at the lewd, hypocritical, godless priest. Resisting his attempts to calm her down, she pressed herself against him. Half-crazed by desire, he made a move to crush her to him. She noticed it and was soft in his grasp, but he gritted his teeth and turned away from her brusquely. He was safe for the moment, but she had discerned the chink in his armor. To get Ben back, she had to convince Chadcroft that it was his duty to drag Elsie from the bed she had made for Ben and herself. If she could not shame Chadcroft into doing his duty, perhaps she could bring him to shame by so exciting him that he would seize her again and fail to let go of her. The only man by whom she desired to be possessed was Ben Trawler, but she was determined that if Chadcroft refused to take action concerning Elsie, he would have one hour of ecstasy followed by agony and public dishonor. She returned to the attack.

"Do you really think I'd come here and make such outrageous charges if I weren't sure they were true?"

Calmly he replied:

"You appear to be an intelligent, educated girl of good family. I think you wouldn't say such shocking things unless you believed them; but there's a difference between allowing your emotions to convince you of something, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, knowing the truth. Losing Ben Trawler has proved a bitter blow to you. I may be a clergyman and a bachelor, but I know what it means to have knowledge of the flesh of a person of the opposite sex and then suddenly to be denied access to the body in question. I sympathize with you deeply, but unless you've seen Elsie and Ben in compromising circumstances or she has admitted to being his mistress, I forbid you to continue to insist that their relationship is sinful. I know Elsie as well as any clergyman can know a member of his congregation. Scarcely a week passes without our meeting two, three or four times. That proves nothing. I could be mistaken about her, but you can't expect me to doubt her because a perfect stranger, who confesses to having an axe to grind, makes wild insinuations about her; certainly, on the basis of your suspicions, I can't advise her to stop committing a sin which I don't believe she's guilty of."

"All right! You know Elsie. I know Ben Trawler. Reluctantly, I've admitted to having been his mistress. Do you know Elsie as well as I know Ben? Well? Do you?"

He realized that she was on firm ground, but he had been taught the art of discussion. He could argue as convincingly with utter insincerity as from personal conviction. He decided to confound her by giving precisely the answer she thought he dared not give.

"Yes, I know Elsie at least as well as you know Ben. You know Ben, the voluptuary, and I know Elsie, the girl of whose virtue I'm as sure as anyone can ever be of another's morals. Elsie could lean over, under certain circumstances, in the direction of misconduct; but, just as surely, Ben could, under the influence of a girl like Elsie, return to the straight and narrow path. He'd tend to stray, of course, but Elsie would strengthen him in his search for righteousness."

"What you mean is that Elsie isn't a saint? She's a normal girl, whom one would expect to behave well, but whom one accepts as being a possible victim of certain circumstances?"

"Precisely! If Elsie overstepped the mark, I'd be disappointed, but not so angry that I wouldn't want to help her to find her way back to virtue."

"Help her then! Tear her away from Ben Trawler!"

"He'll do her no harm, and she'll do him more good that you admit to having done."

There was no further doubt in Connie Lashfield's mind? The Reverend David Chadcroft refused to acknowledge the truth even when it stared him in the face. He was either stupid or indolent. Or was he a kettle which was afraid to call the pot black? Connie could scarcely believe that a clergyman without blemish would hesitate to rap over the knuckles a parishioner who was associating with a man whose name stank in the nostrils of every decent person in town. For a moment she daydreamed of Chadcroft driven from town by those parishioners whose affection he had sought to buy with his excessive tolerance, his indifference and his spinelessness. On the lips of the throwers of stones, her own name was sweet music to her ears.

"Mr. Chadcroft!" she exclaimed. "You know Elsie as a normal girl, so you think the whole situation is normal, but I know Ben as a far from normal man, so the situation is anything but normal. He's a raving sex maniac who thinks of nothing else but naked or scantily clad women. The cinema bores him, and he loathes television; he never reads a book, and he only glances at the newspapers, with the exception of the sensational Sunday rags with their rapes, lurid divorce cases and pin-ups. Sports don't interested him, and he'll go without beer for weeks on end rather than miss half an hour of lovemaking. He works to earn money to go after women, and he eats in order to have the vitality to please the woman whom he gets ahold of. He isn't immoral. He's amoral. He's neither Christian, agnostic nor atheist, and he has no political opinions. He isn't stupid. In fact, I think he might be extremely intelligent, but he doesn't care. He has a crude sort of sexual magnetism, which seems to work better on middle-class women of certain intelligence and general culture than on girls of his own class. He seems never to have any difficulty in getting himself a woman, so he entertains neither the idea of marriage nor that of raising himself above his lowly station. He drives a truck for Alderson?no worries, no brain-work, fresh air, sun, a good appetite and little control. I don't want to shock you, but Ben, of whom I'm very fond, is an animal. He's the only human animal I know, and I've had contact with all manner of men. If I dared tell you in detail about the life I led with Ben, and if you could bring yourself to listen without being offended by my frankness, I'm sure you'd agree that Ben couldn't be associating with Elsie without her gratifying his sadistic caprices. A man like Ben doesn't give even a girl like Elsie time to start to exert an influence on him. Either a girl surrenders within seventy-two hours of her first meeting with him, or she's out; and Elsie isn't out. I was giving him all he needed or wanted. Would he have thrown me over for a girl who reads the Bible to him? I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I ask you!"

David was no longer as sure of Elsie's virtue as he pretended to be, but it was his duty to wipe the mud from the countenance of one of his parishioners. He was therefore reluctant to dismiss Connie before he had wrung from her an admission that the charges were unfounded. Furthermore, behind the façade of Chadcroft, the clergyman, lurked David, the virile young man who was fascinated by Connie's body, which seemed to emerge further from her frock as the minutes passed. Never before had a girl spoken so openly to him about her own sexual offenses, and she was volunteering to speak even more bluntly. Why cut her short? There would be time on the morrow, when Miss Lashfield was in her office, to make up for the four spent in listening to her thrilling, tantalizing tease. Putting on his most clerical air, he said:

"It seems to me you've already said so much that I'd better hear the remainder of your case for the prosecution. Are you quite comfortable? Would you like me to make a pot of tea? Or may I offer you a glass of sherry? I have only very dry."

"Oh, I like it better dry than creamy."

He poured two glasses of Tio Pépé, and they both sipped appreciatively.

"You realize," Connie continued, "that what you're going to hear is neither the sort of thing a woman tells a man nor fit conversation for a person's ears? I just want to convince you that Elsie has fallen into the hands of a special sort of man; but first of all I think you ought to know that at the time of my surrender to Ben I was (as Elsie is now, in your eyes) the sort of girl one would least expect either to take a lover or to associate with a ruffian like Ben. I'm neither boasting nor seeking to find excuses for my conduct. I don't want to be excused. Had I not been intrinsically Ben's sort of female, we might have gone out together a second time (which is doubtful), but not a third time; that goes for Elsie too. It is true, however, that I was not the strumpet type. I was brought up very decently by Christian, middle-class parents?"

"As is obvious from your manner of speaking, your self-assurance, your taste in sherry?"

"It's very good. I disapprove of clergymen either drinking or tolerating alcohol, but you're a person not quite like the others I've known."

He was seated directly opposite her, his eyes glued to her excitingly muscular legs in their sheer nylon. Cunningly, she smiled at him and allowed her knees to part slightly as she continued:

"At the age of sixteen I was no longer obliged to go to church, so I didn't; but a couple of years later I went back of my own accord, because I felt needful of scarlet and purple, the odor of incense, the comforting purr of the organ, the pure agony of psalms sung by boy sopranos and communion with fellow-Christians. It wasn't long before the sermons began to annoy me by their cowardice, ambiguity and nauseating lack of positiveness. I'd look around me and shudder. I was surrounded by little other than lechers, thieves, slave-drivers, wife-beaters and malicious gossips, but I learned to shut out everything except the organ, the sopranos, the colors, the light and shadow and the smell of incense, and I was happy in church two or three times a week. I'd graduated from commercial college with a diploma in shorthand, typing, bookkeeping, English and commercial law. In addition to working for Buber and Lakely during the day, I taught at night school. I was generally respected. My mother died, and I cared for my father, who moves about the house only with the greatest difficulty. No one, least of all myself, would have believed I'd fall under the spell of a man like Ben Trawler?or any other man for that matter. Oh, I went out with boys like any normal girl does, and I kissed and cuddled and sometimes talked a bit naughty, but I always managed to keep my boys in line without having a big fight. One or two stopped coming around, but I didn't worry. I was pretty, fresh, well put-together, and I had sense of fashion. My life was as full as it could be, or so I thought.

"I knew Ben Trawler from way back. When I was a small girl, my cousin Ogden used to get it in the neck from Aunt May and Uncle Joe because he came home from school with a scruffy, impertinent rascal called Ben Trawler. Ogden was a bit of a pansy, while Ben was a dirty-faced toughie, but they seemed to hit it off marvelously. I was too young to count in Ogden's life, but I had a terrific crush on him, and I was jealous of Ben, whom I rarely got to see. Oggie went to boarding school, and Ben left school as soon as the Education Act permitted, so they drifted apart. Oggie went on to Cambridge, and just caught the end of the war, after which he entered the diplomatic service. I occasionally saw Ben in the street, but he had changed a lot, and so had I. The time came when we'd meet, and neither would be sure the other would speak. Sometimes we'd both nod perfunctorily. Other times one would smile and the other would pass on without a gesture of recognition, and finally we became strangers, although each knew who the other was.

"One evening at the Ritz, a man sat beside me just as the feature was beginning. The show ended and we rose to leave. The man was Ben Trawler, who looked at me as though he'd never previously seen a twenty-year-old girl. He asked me if I was Oggie Lashfield's cousin, and I said I was. I gave him news of Oggie, who was then vice-consul at Budapest, and he made some flattering remark to the effect that although I'd been the prettiest kid in town, he'd never expected me to develop into so stunning a young woman. He offered to see me home, and I accepted, although I'd heard a few things about his wicked ways with the girls. Perhaps I thought I could play with fire without getting burned. On the canal bridge, he suggested taking the long way home, along the canal. Fully knowing that the canal bank meant necking, I agreed. Under the bridge, less than ten minutes after he accosted me, I allowed him to kiss me. Never before had a boy kissed me prior to taking me out several times, but Ben didn't know the rules, and he made me forget 'em too. It was a chaste kiss. Ben's no fool. He knew he was dealing with a girl who might allow him greater liberties than she'd permit a normal man to take, but that didn't mean he could afford to rush things. A hundred yards further along the bank he kissed me again, and I felt his tongue on my lips. The next time the kiss was the same, but accompanied by manual pressure on my bottom. A few minutes later he kissed me again, his tongue so insistent that I opened my mouth and let him in. He didn't want to frighten me, but he knew he'd got me going. It was his time-honored system. We walked a further hundred yards, and he brought his wide-open mouth down on mine, not only pressing my bottom so that my sex approached his, but jerking his loins softly into me in subtle but undeniable imitation of the sexual act. The mere fact of my not protesting meant more to him than if I'd begged him to initiate me. Not only did I fail to protest, but it was stronger than my will. I thrust forward my tongue to meet his. I clung to him and sighed contentedly. Without disturbing my clothing, his hands wandered all over me, stroking my belly through my skirts, squeezing my breasts, and holding me so close to him that I felt his swollen penis through his clothes and mine.

"Never before had a man treated me so disrespectfully, even after months of regular association, and you must bear in mind that I'd never previously had any social dealings with so inarticulate a man, so uncouth an individual. I'm not a snob, but circumstances had kept me apart from such people, so that I had never wanted either to meet them or to avoid them. What sort of man overcomes all obstacles and gets further with a girl like me in twenty minutes than my own type of man could get after several months of assiduous courting? Only a fool would so quickly have suggested taking me along the canal bank. Any of my men friends who'd suggested such a thing before we'd been out together at least half a dozen times would have had to find himself a new lady, but Ben had dared suggest it, and I think he'd known it would work. It must be a matter of instinct, but by our fourth or fifth kiss he must have been assured I was ripe fruit ready for plucking, and I did say 'plucking.' May I have another glass of sherry?"

If wine would further loosen her tongue, David was willing to place his entire cellar at her disposal. To her way of thinking, he ought to have appeared less eager to recharge her glass; she knew why he reached so readily for the bottle. She poured half her second glass into her mouth, where she swirled its bitterness around with her tongue.

"Delicious!" she exclaimed.

He expressed agreement with a nod of his head, and said:

"I don't wish to appear to compare you with Elsie to your detriment; but I'm sure it's just the impertinence and over-confidence of Trawler's which will prove to be her salvation."

"But, my dear man, haven't I told you I too was the sort of girl nobody would have expected to fall for that stuff? But I did fall, and you ain't heard nothin' yet. Have you, perhaps, heard as much as you can stand?"

He assured her he was willing to hear anything she felt the need to tell him, and she thought, "Hypocrite! Willing? Eager's the word, chum, and it's not a matter of what I need to tell. You want all the dirty details, and by God, you're gonna get 'em. If I don't either convince you that Elsie's a tramp or have you trying to get your paws on me, my name's not Constance Lashfield."

She wanted to be pawed by no man other than Ben Trawler, but she was willing to run the risk of Chadcroft's laying lewd hands on her if that was the only way of wringing from him a confession of his insincerity. She resumed her narrative:

"After a few more kisses of the same type, we reached the corner of Moorlands Road and Rainton Avenue where I asked Ben to leave me. My father doesn't spy on me. He trusts me, and doesn't stick his nose into my personal affairs, but I knew he'd wonder what could possibly attract a girl like me to a chap of Ben's reputation. Ben suggested we meet again the following evening. That was the moment to break away from him, but I didn't even pretend to hesitate, as I had done hitherto with any boy who'd made proposition. We'd both just seen the only film in town worth seeing, and I wasn't keen on his idea of going to a pub. I drink a little, but at that time I scarcely touched alcohol. I didn't want to spend an evening sipping lemonade in a smoke-filled bar while my escort drunk himself into a stupor, so I said, 'Why don't we go for a walk out of town?' Well, of course, that was right up Ben's alley. We'd just walked together for a half hour, and I'd behaved like a strumpet. I really wanted to go for a long walk in the country. To him that meant I wanted more petting, but that was not why I suggested going for a walk. What else can you do in this hole! Ben wanted to see me again, and I saw no reason to refuse. A stroll was all I could think of. He asked me for the address of our house so that he could call for me, but I wasn't ready to let Daddy know I was going about with 'that Trawler boy,' so I said I'd meet him somewhere near his house. He lives in Dunnington Row, so we could be out of town within a couple of minutes."

David interrupted her playfully:

"Confess that you were obsessed with the idea of getting out of town!"

Sipping the sherry, she answered:

"Not obsessed! Understand that I'm not trying to whiten myself! If I wanted you to think I'm a saint, I need never have spoken about my sexual escapades with Ben, or I could have admitted it but insisted I'd been tricked into it. I don't make any such claim. I knew a walk in the country meant more of Ben's saucy kisses and daring caresses. We'd reached a point at which there was no going back. We either continued along the track we'd already entered or ceased meeting. Had he not proposed a further 'date,' I think I wouldn't have minded, and I certainly wouldn't have chased after him, nor would I have allowed him to take similar liberties with me if we'd happened to run into one another again later; but he'd asked me, so I accepted. He said it was silly to meet at some street corner, so I agreed to call for him at his house. I think I knew it was a trap, but I didn't want him to think I was an adolescent 'goose' who couldn't look after herself. I ought to have realized that my upbringing had been remarkably progressive and liberal for a town like Shorncaster; then I'd have known what interpretation a working-class lad puts on a girl's agreeing to call for him at his house their second time out together. Now I know he thought I knew what was in store for me, and that I accepted; whereas, although things happened so quickly, and it's a long time ago, I'm also sure I didn't go to his house the next evening for any immoral reason. In fact, I recall clearly that I had no intention of going in. I arrived not one minute later than the time fixed, which was perhaps immodest of me. It proved too conclusively his attraction for me."

"No. It's only polite to arrive punctually for an appointment. I've no patience with the theory that a girl cheapens herself by being on time, while a man proves his gallantry by hurrying to get ready before the agreed time even if he knows she'll come late deliberately, gaily rubbing it in by claiming it's a woman's privilege."

Connie laughed and said:

"Well, Ben doesn't express himself at such length, but he shares your opinions on that point at least. Whether or not he thought I'd be punctual, I arrived to find him unwashed, unkempt, and dressed in oil-stained trousers and a filthy shirt which looked as if it had been slept in, which in fact it had. It was open down to the waist, exposing a bronzed chest smothered in sandy hair. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he yawned without putting his grubby hand in front of his mouth. He scratched himself here and there in the true Stanley Kawalski manner, and invited me in with a nod of the head. He was obviously not ready to take me out for a walk, so I went in?into his hall and then into his arms. His kiss was as passionate as his final kiss the previous evening had been. Any other man would have started afresh somewhere between where he'd begun and ended the previous evening, but not Ben. I was a book in which he'd left his bookmark. He didn't need to go back a few pages to get back into the mood of the story. There in the hall, as soon as the door was closed, he pulled me to him. It mattered not to him that he was grubby and unkempt. He bent me backwards, and as his face moved down slowly towards mine, I could see his mouth wide open, his tongue thrust out aggressively. He insisted on my knowing what sort of kiss he was going to give me. It made my humiliation greater than if I'd allowed him to kiss me, thinking he was going to do it decently. That's part of Ben, his determination never to take advantage of a girl. She must at no time be in the slightest doubt that she is giving herself willingly, her eyes wide open. Had I really intended holding him off, I could have escaped from his arms before his mouth made contact with mine.

"He deliberately gave me time to turn my face away. I let him kiss me, his wet lips and tongue moistening my nose and chin. More to excite him than to discourage him, I kept my mouth closed for a time, and my lips hard, but his hands, outside my clothes, were all over me. At one moment each of my buttocks was in one of his squeezing hands which pressed me close to him while he made again the movements of his loins against mine, grinding his manhood against my groin. Crazed, I opened my mouth, crushed my parted lips, my savage tongue and my teeth into his, and clung to him as he pushed globules of his saliva into my mouth. How we entered his living room, I can scarcely describe. He didn't carry me in, and he didn't drag me, nor did I walk in. It was as if I was swept in by a force more powerful than myself. He lowered me onto the sofa and stepped back to give me time to grasp what was going to happen. Later he explained his technique to me and taunted me with my failure to resist. I had a chance to look around me. It was a clean, tidy room with old-fashioned, solid furniture which was obviously well cared-for. He did everything himself, including cooking?serious cooking, not just eggs and bacon or sausages. You can see the difference between his refusal to pay any attention to his appearance and his great care of his home. When I eventually got to see the rest of the house, I discovered that it was all as clean and tidy as the living room. Ben's neither stupid, nor lazy, nor careless, nor naturally scruffy. He just likes to neglect his appearance so that his conquests of women can't be confused with the love of a decent girl for a decent boy. He makes it difficult for himself so that he can be doubly proud of his success, and certainly that evening he had made every kind of effort to make himself repulsive. It turned him on to think that as a 'slimy' urchin he could still win a virginal woman.

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