Жанр книги: Научная Фантастика
Robert A Heinlein To Sail Beyond The Sunset

Father's question as to whether or not I was thinking about getting rid of my virginity upset me because I had been thinking about nothing else for weeks. Months, maybe. So I answered, ‘Of course not! Father, how could you think such a thing? '

‘Meeting's adjourned. '

‘I thought we had cured you of that sort of trivial fibbing. I sec we have not, so quit wasting my time. Come back when you feel the need for serious discussion. ' He swivelled his chair around to face his desk and raised its roll top.

‘Father -‘

‘Eh? Haven't you left? '

‘Please, sir. I have been thinking about it all the time. '

‘Thinking about what? '

‘That. Losing my virginity. Breaking my maidenhead. '

He glowered at me. ‘"Hymen" is the medical term, as you know. "Maidenhead" is from that list of Anglo-Saxon synonyms, although it doesn't carry quite the curse that the shorter ones do. But don't talk about "losing" anything, when in fact you will be achieving your birthright, that supreme status of functioning female that your biological inheritance makes possible. '

I thought about his words. ‘Father, you make it sound so desirable that I should run right out at once and find someone to help me break my hymen. Now. Right away. So, if you will excuse me? ' I started to stand up.

‘Whoa! Steady there! If that is your intention, it won't hurt to wait ten minutes. Maureen, if you were a heifer, I would say that you are ready to be serviced. But you are not; you are a human maiden faced by a world of human men and women, in a complex and often cruel culture. I think that you will be better off if you wait a year or two. You could even go virgin to your marriage bed - although, as a physician, I know that does not happen too often these modern days. But - what's the eleventh commandment? '

‘Don't get caught. '

‘Where do I hide the French purses? '

‘Lower right-hand drawer, and the key is in the top left pigeonhole, all the way back. '

I did not do it that day, or that week. Or that month. But it was not many months thereafter.

I did it about ten o'clock in the morning on a balmy day the first week of June 1897, just four weeks before my fifteenth birthday. The place I picked was the floor of the judges' stand at the race track in the county fairgrounds, with a folded horse blanket to pad the bare boards. I knew the area because I had sat up in that judges' stand on many a frosty morning, clocking Father's practice miles, my eyes lined up on the wire and his fat stopwatch in my hand - I had needed both hands to handle that big watch when I had first done this, at six. That was the year that Father bought Loafer, a black stallion sired by the sire of Maud S. - but (sadly! ) not as fast as his famous half-sister.

In June of 1897 I went there prepared, resolved to do it, with a condom (a ‘French purse') in my handbag, and a sanitary napkin - homemade, but all of them were in those days - as I knew that I might bleed and, if anything went wrong, I would have to convince my mother that I was simply three days early that month.

My partner in this ‘crime' was a high school classmate, a boy named Chuck Perkins, a year older and almost a foot taller than I. I was not even in puppy love with him, but we pretended that we were (perhaps he was not pretending, but how is a girl to know? ) and we had been progressively seducing each other all that school year - Chuck was the first man (boy) with whom I opened my mouth to a kiss. .. and from that I formulated another ‘commandment': ‘Open thy mouth only if thou planned to open thy limbs' - for I discovered that I liked it.

How I liked it! Chuck's mouth was sweet; he did not smoke, he kept his teeth clean and they were as sound as my own teeth, and his tongue was sweet and loving against mine. At later times I encountered (too often! ) men who did not keep their mouths and breaths sweet. .. and I did not open my mouth. Or anything.

To this day I am convinced that tongue kissing is more intimate than coition.

In preparing for this meeting I had followed also my fourteenth commandment: ‘Thou shalt keep thy secret places as clean as a boiled egg lest thou stink in church, ' to which my lusty father had added ‘- and to hold thy husband's love when thou cachet one. ' (I told him I had figured that out. )

Keeping really clean in a house not supplied with running water and too well supplied with running children is not easy. But I had worked out expedients from the time Father had warned me some years earlier. One expedient was to sneak in extra washing behind a locked door in Father's surgery. One of my duties was to place a pitcher of hot water in the surgery each morning and again after lunch, and to refill that pitcher as needed. This put me in position to-do washing that Mother did not know about. Mother believed that ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness' - but I did not dare give her ideas by letting her catch me giving myself extra scrubbing in places I was supposed to be ashamed to touch; Mother didn't approve of too much washing of ‘those places' as it could lead to ‘immodest behaviour'. (It certainly could! )

At the fairgrounds we left Chuck's horse and buggy in one of the big empty barns, with a nosebag of oats to keep him happy, then we climbed up into the judges' stand. I led the way, up the back stairs, then up a vertical ladder through the roof of the grandstand and to a trap door in the floor of the judges' stand. I tucked up my skirts, and climbed the ladder ahead of Chuck, and I delighted in the scandalous display I was making of myself. Oh, Chuck had seen my legs before but men always like to peek.

Once we were both inside the stand I had Chuck close the trap door and drag a heavy box over it - heavy with weights used in racing.

‘Now they can't possibly reach us, ' I said gleefully, turned, got a key from a ditching place over a locker and opened its padlock.

‘But they can see us, Mo. This front side is wide open. '

‘Who cares? Just don't stand in front of the judges' bench. If you can't see them, they can't see you. '

‘Mo, are you sure you want to do this? '

‘Isn't that why we carne up here? Here, help me spread this blanket. We'll use it doubled. The judges spread it along the bench to protect their tender behinds. It will keep splinters out of my tender behind, and out of your knees. '

Chuck didn't say a word as we made our ‘bed'. I straightened up and looked at him. He did not look like a man about to achieve a joyful consummation long desired; he looked like a scared little boy.

‘Charles. .. are you sure you want to? '