A Constant Craving

Over time one is wont to forget things as they happened and remanufacture them in memory as one hopes they happened. At points along the way, however, one remembers things just as the were as opposed to how one may have wanted them to be at the time. The denominator most common to both cases is that the memories that come to us as happy ones are often altered and the ones that are unhappy ones are generally unaltered. A depressing thought but I suppose for survival’s sake it makes a bit of sense. We are served by clearly remembering what injures us so we might do better avoiding such eventualities in the future.

Yes, such are my memories of my early youth. Christmases that were better than they really were and tragedies fully realised that are burned stark into my mind like a charred pound.

My dear Mother died when I was quite young. Lady Althaea Spencer-Temple, Duchess of Buckingham, was taken from me when I was no more than five years of age. She died giving birth to my stillborn sister, Elizabeth. Alas, I seemed to have lost two family members on that day. Actually, we might count it as three: my father died also. You see, even though his fleshy shell remained somewhat alive I do not think that his soul survived the tragedy. He was a changed man after that and seemed wholly incapable of any tenderness of feeling whatsoever afterward.

My life, from then on, was taken up by governesses, tutors, teachers, headmasters…and special friends. My father existed as an abstract entity. He rarely even called me in to his library to discuss a point of ill temper or moral flaw on my behalf. He seemed to want nothing from me. I suppose now, as I am drawn into the waters of my past, I can see some of his perspective. He feared becoming too close to me as it was entirely possible that I would be taken also. Oddly enough, by his singular repulsion against me, he achieved just what he feared: he lost me.

Perhaps he feared a curse of some kind? Ridiculous as it may seem to a rationalist mind or to a foreigner’s beliefs, the Aristocracy of England has long been a party of the most decidedly superstitious people ever to have walked the face of the earth.

Each of the High Houses of the Golden Realm has had a curse or two laid upon its mantles. Some of these curses seem quite potent. It is a long held suspicion, for instance, that the debacle, a few years ago, regarding King Edward VIII’s abdication and the ensuing royal chaos surrounding the issue was a direct result of a curse levied against the House of Windsor an age or two back in time. MacBeth told of such dark cursed dealings that were a mirror for what was suspected as a curse against the House of Tudor, etc., etc.

In any case, my father was assured that there was a curse upon the Temples that prevented an even transition from father to heir. Either the heir died or was discredited and disinherited or ran off to elope with the horse husbandman. By such calculus it would have seemed that the House of Temple could not exist. But, such was the defect in my father’s accountancy that he failed to look an obvious truth in its face. That being, by some miracle that overthrew all curses, he stood as Duke of Buckingham, the successor to the Duke of Buckingham. That somehow the Temples continued on even though, by his cynicism, you should think that such was an impossibility akin to fairies walking the earth in broad daylight.

In any case, my dear Pa Pa may have had reasons and reasons again for why he was as he was, but dissuading him from his distaste for me never seemed a measure in the bargaining between us. Before such madness one can only look deep down in the dirt for the roots of the problem and that, as stated, was his fear of getting too close to me for fear of losing me. So foolish and backward.

I suppose we both were, but I was the child unlearned in the ways of things. He was meant to be the wise mentor to make plain the way through this life. His shirked duty left us both bereft. English pride, this is what I attribute it to. Such stuff and nonsense…

It matters not. This world would never be an easy fit for me in any case. This became quite clear to me when the first tectonic tremors of manhood began to quake within my bones.

I was but eleven years when the craving came to me.

I loved horses. This is a simple statement meant to reserve no extreme of emotion and no prevarication of foolish sentimentality. I loved horses…and they loved me. We shared a bond that existed in scent and instinct. My equine friends smelled right to me and I must have had a scent they fancied as well. Horses would always come to me and nuzzle…unless they’d been driven neurotic by too much fox hunting.

A stallion by the name of Perceval was my particular mount. He was a black stallion of Arabesque lineage. The grace of God lived in his form for on this earth I could think of none more beautiful than my Perceval…except for naked Adrien backlit by the sun on the sea.

Of the beasts of the land and air, for my taste, Perceval was the epitome of such. He lived for carrying me ‘Tally Ho’ into the verge. Much neighing and chuffing accompanied such excitement. He loved to leap over hedgerows and stone walls. He lived for outracing trains and motorcars. But none of these things he desired if I was not with him. Perceval was my dearest friend of childhood.

His caretaker, Lucas, was my one human friend on the earth at the time. A horse husbandman of what seemed the 100th generation, his family, the Smiths of Buckinghamshire, were renown for their keeping of horses. Their last name was one of the first forms of ‘Smith’ in the English language. A sensible attribute since as horsemen of renown, many of their member were and still are great smiths, particularly in the making of custom horseshoes. A sword of excellent make and vintage still hangs in the gallery at Temple House made by the Smiths of Buckinghamshire. It is among my most prized possessions. I call it ‘Perceval’s Thorn’.

Lucas was a handsome lad much sought after by the young maids of the village. His Norman heritage looked fairly unbroken from the time of William the Conqueror. Gold blonde hair and bright blue eyes, he was rather angelic in his countenance. I call him handsome as opposed to ‘prettyish’ as one would want to ascribe to such a youth because hard work had roughened him and bulked up his thirteen year old frame with the muscles of a man.

It was fair to say that Lucas was perhaps stronger than all of the male attendants at Temple House, save the coal man. When he helped me onto Perceval my boyish weight seemed like nothing to Lucas. With a lift to the riding boot and a push to the rump I was aboard my beautiful steed with astounding ease by Lucas’ sure hand. He always settled me upon Perceval with the widest and most beautiful of smiles. He loved my stallion perhaps as much as I did. Perceval made Lucas proud for it was he that trained Perceval from colt-hood to be the masterful mount that he became for me.

It was upon one of these occasions that something stirred within me that was bewildering in the extreme. I was not yet an adolescent and yet feelings were coming to me that were strange and new. At the time, I did not at all understand why I especially enjoyed Lucas’ hand upon my posterior as he pushed me up onto my mount. The feeling of his strong hand there sent me shivers. His friendly squeeze made my male instrument awaken most embarrassingly. This was made doubly so since my personal valet always insisted that I wear a full rider’s ensemble complete with red coat, black riding cap and dazzlingly white skin clinging trousers. Nothing will show a man’s or a boy’s ‘valour’ to as great effect as white riding trousers.

I oft wonder if they were fashioned for that singular purpose by someone enamoured of seeing such displays. I suspect a woman’s hand. Proper as they may be, I have been made privy to the ‘secret’ musing of young ‘ladies’ more than once. Their gentle conversations about the ‘prominence’ of one man and the apparent ‘valour’ of another would be really quite shameful if exposed to the light of their true meanings. Ladies of the Court are notoriously salacious. Does this surprise you? They try to couch their observations in euphemisms supposedly so cryptic as to be made impregnable by a gentleman’s dull wits.

However amusing, in the end, I believe such banter brings about desired outcomes on most accounts and so it is not curbed. Gentlemen are by no means as ‘dull’ in such matters as they would like to appear…and I suspect the older ladies wishing for good matches for their daughters know this all too well. Pointing out the ‘valour’ of a man’s ‘prominence’ will always raise the correct kind of attention in such sensitive and stiff situations as courting.

But, alas, here I drift again from my former musings…

It must have caught Lucas’ eye more than once that his touch brought to me such obvious arousal. He would often dare to take liberties such as keeping his hand upon my thigh as he led Perceval and I to the road for riding. I did not ask him to refrain from such behaviour as I first accepted it as a friendly gesture and then as a desirable one.

One odd day, I believe it was a Saturday if my memory serves me, I ventured out to the stables ostensibly to find Perceval and spend my morning with him. It was an unusual day for me to do this as Saturdays seemed to be days when my father insisted we go on ‘outings’ together. I haven’t the foggiest idea as to why he thought to do this as our ‘outings’ generally had me cloistered in the salon of some oldish lady practicing my etiquette while my father did God only knows in the Gentleman’s Club at the centre of town. Our carriage driver often drove me home alone when the spinster grew bored with me. I wouldn’t see my father again often until the following Saturday.

This Saturday was different. My father had pressing business in London and would be away for a week or more. This situation availed me of an opportunity to do as I would. Naturally, since I had no other real interests in this world beyond the odd atlas or travel account, I made my way down to the stables on that Saturday. It would be a fateful day.

A day when my cravings would forever be constant.

I ‘assisted’ Lucas that day. I worked manual labor. Something, if I was caught doing, would have suspended my liberties beyond the front door of Temple House for an indefinite period of time. A Marquis is a ‘gentleman’ and ‘gentlemen’ are gentle because they are not forced into the rude and arduous world of hard labor. It was considered one of the highest sins of English Aristocracy to lower themselves to the works of ‘Common Trades’. It upset the entire order of the universe, apparently.

Such utter nonsense didn’t deter me in the least. To work with my hands mucking out the stables was a rare treat for me. Odd as it may seem, I despised being one of the Leisured Classes. I enjoyed hard work and I enjoyed it especially when it came to the husbandry of horses.

There are costs to hard labor for one of the leisured, that being a natural lack of strength and stamina. That Saturday I did more than I should have and I did so despite Lucas’ sage councel. I worked myself to utter exhaustion and there found myself collapsed on the straw and earth of the stable floor having difficulty breathing.

Lucas, naturally horrified, went to my aid forthwith and brought me to his humble abode up a grassy hill overlooking the pasture of my estate grounds. His straw and plaster building was, to me, beautiful in the way a manor house must be beautiful to a commoner or an American. It bespoke of home and hearth and good things baking in ovens and stews in the pot. It spoke of warm fires with handmade straw beds close there giving the impression of camping in the wilderness while still at home.

Maxwell, Lucas’s beautiful collie was especially glad to see me that evening and did his best to comfort me as only a dog can. With canine alacrity he was up on the bed upon which Lucas had placed me and Maxwell snuggled in to keep me warm. Lucas did not dissuade Maxwell. He even made mention that the bed was more Maxwell’s than his in actuality.

I asked Lucas where his mother and father were and Lucas simply said that they were up in the larger cottage up the road near the smithy. This, naturally, made complete sense as Lucas’ father was our smith on premise after all. I was curious as to what the place we were staying in was.

Lucas said it was the ‘Shepherd’s Bungalow’. I never knew such a thing existed on our property and yet I knew only part of the lands. It would have taken a few days to reconnoiter the whole of the property from end to end being that it was such a large estate.

Apparently Lucas lived here but often took supper up at the cottage with his parents and siblings. He was the oldest surviving son and so his privilege and duty it was to hold the Bungalow and work from it as horsehusband and shepherd. That night Lucas’ mother had brought a meal to him in a wicker basket. A meal he happily shared with me since he felt that my greatest problem was that I had not eaten lunch while working which was something of a problem as he taught me.

It was a simple affair of homemade bread, Stilton cheese, roasted ham and butter. Along with came a large container of ale. Ripe, sweet, delicious apples were our dessert. Being used to haute cuisine and English country manor cookery from the Victorian Age, this simple meal Lucas provided was as exotic to me as a Goan curry and just as delightful.

Indeed, Lucas found it highly amusing that I carried on so about the simple faire. But, in all honesty, the basic goodness of well aged Stilton cheese, home baked bread as lovely as cake, cured ham roasted to perfection, and freshly churned butter was a repast beyond any foreign delight I ever supped upon over Christmas. This…and my first taste of warm ale! The ales of my youth were different things entirely from what are in pubs today. They tasted like liquid bread, bitter only slightly yet sweet not like honey, but like, well…Lucas’ mother’s freshly baked bread, as it were! Jove’s nectar could not have been any better!

Lucas and I lay in front of the fire belching and talking about horses. I doubt my miserable father ever had as pleasant an evening at the Gentleman’s Club. Soon, the effects of the ale and the warm fire fell upon me and I was fast asleep before I knew what was transpiring. Maxwell was already asleep, doing that dog snore that sounded more like a whistle than a snore. Lucas’ too was fading and he must have ended up right next to me because later in the night I found myself in his arms like a stuffed teddy bear.

Instinctively, per my natural disposition, I wriggled a bit in his embrace to snuggle in more deeply into his arms. In so doing, I must have pressed my backside into his front side. There, for the first time, did I feel the desire of another boy.

In his half sleep, with his dreams and his reality thoroughly enmeshed, Lucas made a kind of love to me right there before the fire and in his bed. It was not a penetrating kind of sex as we were both thinly dressed in our undergarments, but it was definitely sexual. He pushed himself against me and I pushed back against him. His instincts in his half-sleep caused him to reach for my intimates and he manipulated them as the rolling and undulating dance between us had continued.

Before long, we had both expressed our passion. I felt his warmth touch me through our thin clothing. My spawn was less voluminous and was not whitened with milt for I was still before the age of reproduction. The intense pleasure experienced by us both woke us from our stupors. Rather than feel ashamed of our actions we both merely saw the humour in it. We giggled and complained about the wetness of it. We both endeavoured to clean away our messes before finding sleep again. Having no other means of covering ourselves comfortably we agreed that since the ‘worst’ had already happened we could finish or night’s rest as unbound as the great Greek marbles in London.

This, was, as I supposed, what led to the other intimacies that occurred between Lucas and I that night. We both enjoyed each other in ways neither of us had ever experienced joy. We did so, oddly, with no regrets and with an innocence that can only exist in two youths of our ages then.

But, it had, perhaps, an unintended effect. One that would continue to haunt me to this day, even in my twilight years.

It began in me a constant craving for lovers of my gender. It awakened that craving in me that could only be satisfied by the rapture of Lucas or boys/men like Lucas. Strong, noble, beautiful, fearless men and boys.

Lucas and I met many times in the following years. We introduced each other to the many pleasures our fellowship would allow us. That until Lucas had to get married so that he could secure his title to his father’s trade and to his future. She was a lovely girl with red hair and vibrant green eyes. Lucas loved her with every breath and so I lost him to her.

At the time I thought it only fair. What Lucas and I had could only lead to terrible suffering if we were ever caught. My name would become ruined and I would never be able to hold Court again. My father would have likely disowned me and cast me out. It would have given him just the excuse he needed.

Lucas would have been arrested and imprisoned more than likely doomed to die in the Tower of London of exposure, disease, and almost certain violence.

So for him, as well as for myself, I was quite gladdened that Lucas took to wife the young sorrel maiden. He moved away from my estate however, much to my sadness. The temptation was too great if we lived too near one another. This, neither of us, could scarcely afford. Love between boys was one thing. Love between men was a different story. Penalties tended to grow as ages lengthened, as it were. Mere venalities for the young became mortal crimes later in life.

So, I had to give Lucas up entirely, much to the throbbing ache

Published November 13, 2018