Henley had not planned to head in the other direction the afternoon of the hunt. In fact, he looked forward to riding out with the rest of the group, and was happy to have his cousin, Wesley, along to ride with him. Although he and Wesley had entertained the idea of taking a slight turn off the beaten path so they could ‘accidentally’ find themselves at The Pig’s Prattle for a pint, they had finally decided against the idea, for Proberta’s sake. So Henley was quite surprise when his horse had spooked at a fallen tree beside the trail, and had taken off through the forest in a westerly direction. Henley, for his part, did not attempt to rein him in, which is how he eventually landed directly in front of Rosetta’s hut.
When he arrived, she was nowhere to be found. Henley tethered Gaspar to a nearby fence rail beside a meadow rich with green alfalfa, where he was happy to graze to his heart’s content. Then he took off in search of Rosetta.
He made his way to the creek, and wound down into a steep, steady ravine, enclosed on both sides by mossy boulders. Small waterfalls ran through the ravine, making it very damp. Henley thought these waterfalls must get quite big during spring run-off, but being early fall, they trickled down in between rocks and crevices, making a gentle tinkling sound. The creek itself was low, but he still had to watch his footing as he leapt from rock to slippery rock.
Between the waterfall and the gurgling creek, there was enough noise to shut out all other forest sounds, so it was no wonder that he missed Rosetta, who walked just above him on her way home, singing as she went. Luckily, an impasse kept him from going further along the creek, which forced him up the steep hillside to travel above. As soon as he reached the top and settled onto the more serene landscape of the forest floor, he was able to hear the familiar voice of her song coming from the tree hut. Immediately he turned on his heels and headed toward the unearthly music. When he caught up to her, she was already at the meadow, feeding Gaspar some fresh comfrey. She looked up.
“Hello, Henley. I wasn’t expecting you today.” She smiled. “What brings you back so soon?”
“You know, Rosetta,” he answered, testing her playfully, and she laughed.
“I will take that as a compliment, Henley. Thank you. Would you like some tea, or perhaps some hawthorne wine? I have a batch that has aged very well indeed. Come in.”
Henley followed the gypsy woman into the dark inner foyer of the hut, then into the larger, brighter open space of the main room. All that remained of the morning’s fire was a bed of coals. As if home, Henley walked casually over to the woodbox and piled on a few small pieces of cut wood, waited for them to catch, then placed a larger log on top.
“That should do us for a while,” he said, as he brushed the sawdust from his hands.
Rosetta was busy opening the bottle of wine, but glanced over at Henley approvingly. Funny, he thought, we hardly know each other, yet it’s like we’ve known each other all our lives. They sat with their hawthorne wine, and Henley chatted breezily about the events that had passed since they had last spoken. Rosetta seemed particularly interested in Proberta’s odd behavior, and Wesley’s sudden interest in her. She avoided any questions of the hunt, as she had made it clear she’d never be one to agree with game hunting. When you live off the land, she had told him that very first time they met, there is an unspoken trust between you and the land with all it holds. If an animal must be killed to feed a hungry family, it is done with the greatest respect and honor. The same is true for the berries picked, or the roots dug up. Henley had been fascinated with this outlook, remembering every word, every nuance with which she expressed herself. He had wondered if that was how he ended up there that day, and shared this discovery with her.
“Perhaps I have learned something from you, and as much as I enjoy the hunt, instinctively knew I didn’t want to kill a fox today - or any day for that matter.”
“Perhaps,” was all she said.
Before long, shadows grew dark and deep within the forest, and Henley knew his absence from the group would not go unnoticed, nor without consequences, but he didn’t care in the least. He and Rosetta went out to the meadow and brought Gaspar into a small corral, where a simple thatched barn stood. There they untied him, brushed him down, gave him fresh water, and left him to rest where he’d be warm and protected. Back inside, the heat from the hearth had made the room very warm, the fiery glow illuminating their faces in orange light. Rather than return to their overstuffed chairs, Rosetta spread a sheepskin blanket on the floor in front of the fire, where they both sat. She poured them each more wine.
“Henley,” she began. “Were you aware that your mother came to see me last week?”
“I know she sees a woman occasionally for her tinctures and potions, and I now know that woman is you.” He smiled fondly. “However, I did hear Mother say something about whether you found me or I found you. Is that what you’re referring to?”
“Could be. Henley, your mother asked me to,” she paused. “She asked me to find you, to coerce you into coming here to my hut, and for me to teach you things.”
“What kind of things?” He asked, too naively for a man of twenty five. She replied directly.
“Sex. The ways of women.”
Henley was taken aback.
“What on earth would she do that for? Does she think me a ninny...and you a whore? Sorry, I did not mean that comment offensively. It’s just that...”
“I understand. I don’t take offense to your reaction, but I did take offense to her intrusion, into my life, and into yours.”
Henley reached out and took her hand in his.
“You’re a good woman, Rosetta. My mother’s a pain in the ass, excuse me for saying so but it’s the truth.” Henley squeezed her hand, then let it fall gently back into her lap. “So what do we do now?” Henley asked. Rosetta looked at him coyly.
“We make her proud.”
Henley blushed, but kept a steady gaze on her.
“You may not be the most prolific lover in the land, Henley, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a quality lover.” She stood up. “The only thing quantity does is provide exposure to various styles of lovemaking, and experience. You, Henley, are going to learn about quality.”
Rosetta walked over to a shelf in the corner of the room and pulled down what looked like an oblong stone with thread wrapped around it, and a feather dangling from the end.
“A Talisman?” Henley asked. Rosetta looked at him, a twinkle in her eye.
“Sure. This will be our Talisman.” She handed it to Henley, who stroked the smooth roundness of the stone.
Rosetta put two small logs on the fire, then a larger one to make it last. She began to unbutton her blouse from the neck down, then stepped out of her skirt until her undergarments were all that was left. She walked around the room and blew out most of the burning candles, leaving one, along with the bright glow of the fire. She sat back down beside Henley.
“Now, let’s see what we can do to make you more comfortable.” Her voice was as smooth as whipped cream.
“I feel slightly embarrassed, Rosetta. What man of my age is so ridiculously naive that his very own mother has to do the bidding on his behalf?” He turned away from her, and faced the flames. She reached up and pulled his face toward hers. He seemed to melt into her warm palms, and let her kiss his lips with such passion as he had ever dreamed of feeling. He could feel his neck relax, then his shoulders. He opened his mouth and let his tongue explore the sweet juices between her open lips and suddenly he felt alive. For the first time, warm blood pulsed through his body and he wanted, like he’d never wanted before. He reached for her, urgently, but before his hands could reach her she took them in her grip and held fast. Surprised, he stopped kissing and looked at her.
“Patience,” she said softly, and smiled. “That’s rule number one.”
She took one of his hands and directed it to the top lace of her corset, feeding his fingers through as each one came undone. He was more aroused with each loosened cord, as more of her dark, supple skin became exposed. Soon the corset fell away completely, and he stared at her round breasts, and full figure. He found it hard to contain himself, but he knew he must. Patience, he reminded himself.
“You’re a fast learner, Henley.” Again she smiled. He began to reach toward her protruding nipple, just to touch, just to brush its tender tip.
“Ah ah ah,” she shook her finger teasingly. “Not just yet. You are hungry. This is good,” she said. “But you must be ravenous.”
She took his hand again, and while she slipped out of her pantaloons, she let his hand follow hers as she slid them off her hips and down her legs. His breath quickened as he touched her velvety skin, awakening a desire that had been dormant for far too long. Rosetta seemed perfectly comfortable sitting on the sheepskin rug, naked, with Henley quivering beside her. She kissed him again, then pulled back.
“How are you feeling, Henley?” She asked.
Not exactly sure how to reply, but feeling unusually comfortable, he answered honestly.
“Excited, nervous, warm, happy.”
“Good, I’m glad. Glad because I like you, Henley. You have a good heart, a good spirit. You deserve much more in life than what you’ve been offered thus far.” She turned toward the flames that flickered wildly in the great stone hearth. “When it comes to sexual experience, love or lust, men in particular often become arrogant, thinking they know it all. They don’t, but they think it’s important that they do.” She returned her gaze to him. “You’re not like that, and that’s a good thing. You’re like a blank canvas, an open book, ready to be filled.”
She reached over and began to unbutton Henley’s shirt until the muscles of his chest showed. She seemed surprised to see that his body was strong and fit, but said nothing. After removing his shirt, she started in with his belt buckle, then the fasteners of his fly. He let her undress him from start to finish, mesmerized by her skill, her sensuality. He lifted his hips to allow room for her to pull off his trousers, and again to remove his undergarments. Then, there they were, facing each other, two naked nymphs. They both laughed. Rosetta placed his hand on the nipple of one breast and let him explore the texture and firmness. From there his hand independently reached down to cup it’s fullness. He could feel his member harden and rise, his skin shiver. She handed him the stone, directing his hand so the feather would dangle lightly over her body, barely brushing her skin. She said nothing, letting him tantalize her with the crude instrument. Arching her back, she reached her bare breasts up to meet the soft down, then spread out for him to tickle between her legs.
By now, all else had fallen away - the hunt, his cousin Wesley, Proberta, his mother, anything that suggested responsibility. Placing the feather just above Rosetta’s lips, Henley bent down and kissed her lustfully. His tongue roamed inside and out of her delicious mouth before he fell upon her soft, warm body and entered her moist cavern of delight.
...stay tuned...chapter nine will be posted next Tuesday, March 6th...