A maid arrived late in the morning to turn
Trudi, Anna, and I out of our shared bed. She did not even blink at
our nakedness, our flushed and dewy skin. In a quite businesslike but
not at all perfunctory manner, she instructed Anna and I as to the operations
of the bath, where we might find suitable clothes afterward, and where
we might seek refreshment once we were dressed for the day. Trudi, of
course, was familiar with every nook and cranny of the place we found
ourselves in; after all, the brothel was her childhood home.
The maid also informed the three of us that
Mme. Kohler would expect us for afternoon tea. Trudi frowned darkly
at this, but the maid ignored her with a practiced air.
Tea was exquisite, but the atmosphere of our
audience with the lady of the house was chilly. And it was never more
so than between mother and daughter, Mme Kohler and Trudi. Trudi hardly
deigned look at her mother; and her mother returned the favor with a
Mme. Kohler was pale and pillowy; in her youth,
I am sure she was a stunning beauty, all high cheekbones and cheeks
of damask rose, but now she tended toward the overripe; a bruised peach.
Still, her slight air of dissolution only served to heighten a sense
of erotic allure that I'm certain she found essential to her position
as the head of one of the most fashionable brothels in the city.
She affected the title "Madame," even though
it was French and she most resolutely German. False glamour, perhaps,
another layer of pretention, like an overly strong perfume. But that,
too, seemed only to enhance her status. It meant that the woman beneath
the artifice was wholly obscured, a mystery, and a compelling one. Men,
I am sure, were helplessly drawn to try and penetrate her mystery. Mme.
Kohler did not much care for men, however. She was indifferent to their
affections, caring only about the contents of her pocketbook.
To Anna and I, Madame was polite, but essentially
indifferent. She listened to our tale of escape from the reformatory
with a detached air, as if she had heard many similar tales in her time.
She expressed sympathy when she heard of my miscarriage, and of my whipping
at the hands of Frau Traubst. Indeed, at that point she went so far
as to lay a gloved hand upon mine as she said, "you need never fear
that sort of treatment in this place, my dear. Here, we understand the
sort of affection between women that you and Anna have found with each
And that constituted our invitation to stay
at Camellia House.
It was merely assumed that we would eventually
earn our keep, by going into training to become ladies of the house.
I took to the training with equanimity. At first
I did menial chores, such as changing the sheets or serving the patrons
drinks. They would leer at my young, ripe flesh, and occasionally reach
out to stroke or grab, but the ladies of the house were firm -- we were
not to be molested in such a fashion. When we were ready to enter the
service of the house, then we would, and not before.
Anna and Trudi chafed under this regimen, however.
Trudi hated menial work. "If I had wanted to do chores, I would have
stayed at the reformatory," she groused. At every opportunity, she shirked
her duties. Soon she started stealing little personal tokens from the
girls. When caught, she would laugh and proclaim it a game as she returned
Anna, meanwhile, shuddered at any hint of the
business of the house. She refused to attend any lessons in the art
of seduction and pleasure that Mme. Kohler might arrange for us. When
one of the girls would pinch her cheeks and proclaim that the customers
would be delighted with her figure, she would not blush, but blanch
in fear. She took to creeping about the halls, hiding in corners and
shadows in an attempt not to be noticed. When men were in the house,
as often as not she would disappear entirely. Once I found her in the
kitchen with Ulla. She was practically hiding beneath the older woman's
skirts; Ulla was patting her on the head kindly and stuffing her mouth
with tidbits and treats.
I was not surprised to wake up one day to find
that Trudi and Anna had run away together, escaping the confines of
the house and striking out on their own.
I was saddened that Anna had not even wished
me goodbye. But we had been drifting apart; it was as I had predicted,
Trudi had stolen her heart cleanly and without a struggle. Perhaps my
countenance held too many bad memories for Anna. With Trudi, she could
start anew. Or perhaps that is a tale I told myself as a balm for my
Mme. Kohler took her daughter's abrupt departure
without pause. "She has run away before," she said to me, before I could
even inquire. "She is not happy here. I don't know if she will ever
be happy anywhere, but I wish her the best. She is old enough to make
her own decisions in this matter."
And so, as Trudi had replaced me in Anna's heart,
so I began to replace Trudi in the brothel. I became the daughter of
I did not become Mme. Kohler's surrogate child,
however. Rather, something different occurred. I became her lover.
She began by taking a special interest in my
instruction. "Who is teaching you the arts of love?" she asked me once,
at the afternoon tea that we had shared every day since my arrival.
"Liesel?" She waved a hand airily. "That girl. She relies on her pretty,
empty head to charm men; what could she possibly teach you? Mme. Kohler
reached out a gloved hand to cup my chin. "Your charms are of a different
sort, my dear. I think I shall have to take over your education myself."
Not all of Mme. Kohler's instruction was erotic
in nature, for she also taught me how to keep the books. Every morning,
I would take my lessons in accounting and calculations; in the evenings,
I would attend to the various errands that the running of the house
But in the afternoons, Mme. Kohler took me to
her grand, silk-draped bed and instructed me in Eros.
And how I looked forward to my lessons! Mme.
Kohler's touch upon my skin was gentle and knowledgeable, and kind.
Feather-light, she would caress the join of my thigh, the crease behind
my ear, and smile languidly when I gasped. Then she would lay herself
against the pillows of her bed, trail a limp hand down the expanse of
her body, and invite me to experiment in turn.
I learned her every fold with fingers and tongue;
how they changed underneath my touch, flushing and unfurling. I learned
how her scent changed as she became aroused, from sweet to musky; how
the fine hairs between her legs gathered and distilled that scent as
if it were the finest cologne. Her taste, too, sharpened, I discovered.
I learned, too, that her tenderness dissipated
when in the throes of passion. On occasion, she left nail-scores along
my back, bite marks upon my chest and shoulder. But I did not mind such
There was one other thing that Mme. Kohler taught
me, for which I shall be ever grateful. She taught me how to pleasure
"Take your time," she would instruct, watching
as I undressed myself, ran my fingers over my blushing skin. "Explore."
She would watch me as I caressed myself, as my fingers ran over sensitive
skin -- breasts, hips, nipples, thighs. She would sigh as I drew the
wetness from inside me and spread it across my folds.
"Taste yourself," she would say. "Smell yourself."
And I would.
Later, she guided my hand as I rubbed and pulled
at my tender flesh, exciting my nubbin to passion. She showed me the
spot inside that made me squirm and cry out in exquisite pleasure, when
touched just right, for so long.
It was Mme. Kohler who instructed me in the
erotic uses of certain devices, as well, both for pleasuring myself,
and others. "Some of our men like this sort of thing inserted up the
bum," she said pragmatically, holding a delicate ivory shaft. "And some
of the girls, they like to disport themselves with it in a more traditional
orifice." I confess, I fell in love with the feeling of fullness, but
only when it came from a woman's hand. I had, I discovered, no desire
to experience the real thing again.
Mme. Kohler was now my lover. I could tell that
she was loathe to turn me out, to make me available to her clientele.
She wanted to keep me her own toy, her bauble, her precious keepsake.
But the time approached that I would have no more to learn from her.
Indeed, she had already commanded me to seek
out other girls in the house, to let them teach me their specialties.
From Gretchen I learned how to inflict exquisite, erotic torment; from
Elsie, I learned how to receive it with grace. Zilli instructed me in
the art of kissing. You may not think this an area to cultivate an expertise
in, but then, you have never been kissed by Zilli. She could cause shivers
to crawl down my spine, heat to suffuse my groin, just with her lips
upon mine. And when she moved her mouth to other regions, well, my powers
of description utterly fail. Zilli was a devotee of the oral, and I
was honored to learn her sacred rites.
It was Zilli who petitioned Mme. Kohler to arrange
my debut. "It would be a shame to waste this girl's talents," she pleaded.
"And she is so dedicated to the arts of love, the most diligent student
I have ever had. A true asset to the house, sure to earn us a fine penny
or two." She nibbled on my ear as she spoke, bringing a flush to my
Unswayed, "I will consider it," was all Mme.
Kohler would say.
Before my debut occurred, however, the House
itself experienced a setback. Mme. Kohler was arrested.
None of the girls could understand why -- the
Madame had kept up her payments to the local constabulary, after all.
Was it a grudge repaid? Some moral minded minister taking things into
his own hands?
Somehow, I knew it was up to me to set things
I visited Madame every day in jail, at the exact
hour when we would have been having our afternoon lessons, had she been
free. She kissed my gloved hands through the bars, but refused to speak
of her predicament. "It will all be sorted out," she said with false
confidence. I knew, then, that she had no idea of the reason for her
confinement. I would have to ferret out a solution myself.
To that end, I began to examine the books with
minute care. It was after three long nights peering at crabbed little
columns of numbers that I hit upon the solution.
The payments to the police were illegal bribes,
of course. It would not do to have them exposed.
I wrote a painstaking letter to the head of
the police, detailing all that I knew.
Within days, Mme. Kohler was returned to us.
With apologies. Escorted by the chief of police himself. Indeed, the
police force took it upon themselves to investigate this "terrible mistake."
And it was discovered that a morally overzealous petty official had
overstepped his bounds. I hear he had a little meeting with the police
chief himself, who explained the misguidedness of his crusade, and how
it was better for his health if he put his indignation and reforming
zeal aside. How I wish I could have been there to witness it!
I was, however, privy to the audience that the
police chief held later, in Mme. Kohler's bed. I served refreshments
while he lounged against Madame's fleshy bosom, detailing the conversation.
Mme. Kohler's easy, low laugh sent shivers through me, and I knew that
I would be rewarded for my cleverness again before the night was over,
by her expert attention.
But Mme. Kohler had in mind a more substantiative
token of her appreciation, as well. And so it was that she designated
me, not only her lover and surrogate daughter, but heir. It was not
my intention to disinherit Trudi, fitting revenge though it might be;
I swear that I never put the idea in Mme. Kohler's mind. To this day,
I do not understand the relationship of mother and daughter in that
household. Perhaps I was a pawn in an intricate game that I shall never
understand. But do believe, I was the manipulated, not the manipulator.
Still, I confess I did not refuse the boon.
My debut was finally arranged soon after her
release, and it was there that she announced my new status.
What a strange inversion of custom the occasion
was! For I was not being introduced to any sort of polite society, but
rather to the House's best clients, who were therefore the most debauched,
and the least desirable company for a young lady of status. But my status
was changed. Now, I was a princess whore, and my past as a respectable
daughter of the middle class was long gone. I buried it on the afternoon
I appeared before the assembled clients and ladies of the house, clad
not in virginal white, but scarlet red silk.
Will it shock you to learn that I was auctioned
off, that night, to the highest bidder? Such was my new situation. I
will say only that I used my erotic instruction as intended, and left
him satisfied. My pleasure was, of course, beside the point, and I had
learned by now that my erotic satisfaction was to be found only in the
embrace of other women. Fortunately, the brothel encouraged such liaisons.
I wonder, if I had not fallen in with this place, where I might have
found a similar community of understanding women out in the world?
It is an answer I still seek, though no longer
with much urgency. I have found happiness at last. Now I am the jewel
of the House, kept by my Madame from all but the most valued of clients.
I keep the books, and I know that when my lover passes on, I will inherit
the house and become Madame in her stead. Mme. Gottingen, her Camellia
House patronized by rich and influential men, her bed filled with lithesome
beauties of her choosing -- no, it is not a hard life I have found,
damnable though it may be. But would God begrudge the happiness I have
found? I cannot believe it. He loved even the Magdalen, after all. And
I am truly her kin. I began as a lost girl, and continued my moral debasement
until I was truly a fallen woman, soiled beyond reprieve. But in this
state, I have managed to find my destined place. I never had the knack
for innocence. But for debauchery, I have quite the developed skill.
No longer either a lost girl nor a fallen woman, but one who chooses
her fate, and gladly.