In the end, when her father despaired of ever curing her insatiable desires, he allowed as how a long vacation in America might help Roseanne weather the last of her adolescence. He booked her passage on the Aurora, bound for Jamaica, where he had spent some time in His Majesty’s Service.
The Atlantic was stormy in that season and Roseanne, true to her nature, struck up one of her “friendships” with a bosun’s mate, just to pass the time. Though the young man could never fathom how a girl as sweet and young as this one had evolved into such a tigress, he was grateful--as any sailor would be--for her company, and more than willing to help keep up appearances. The other passengers as well as his shipmates had no inkling that the fair-haired creature was, beneath it all, the Devil’s Own Plaything.
It was in the sweet afterglow of lovemaking that the sailor, Billy, hit upon the solution to Roseanne’s problems with her father:
“What you need, love, is a job. A right fine way a makin’ your own way in this world n your old sire be damned.”
He reached down to hold her head still for a moment. Her cheeks glistened with sweat and excitement. She did not move, and Billy knew she was listening.
“I’ve got a mate who knows a fella in Montego. He can always use a talented thing like you, n you’ll be makin’ your own way within sixmonth.”
Roseanne’s eyes flared in anger, and just to show him she was no whore, she bit:
“Hey! Love! OW!”
“I’ll not be working in a house, where there be dark men and wild men and Lord knows what!”
Billy sat painfully upright, his skinny legs dangling and swaying with the ground swell.
“Now love, it’s not that sorta arrangement.” he kissed her, smoothing her hair. “Let me just get m things together n speak t m’mate. You’ll see.”
He pulled his trousers gently over his pain.
“You’ll see, darlin. It’s a proper job you’ll be havin.”
And so it was. The friend of a friend turned out to be a hemp farmer of no small renown on the island. He was an emigre too, and took great pleasure in regaling Roseanne with stories of his flight from London to paradise and wealth.
He had two small children, both boys, and it fell to Roseanne to look after them and--till they grew older--give them some rudimentary studies. This she did with great skill, for as we know, Roseanne was an accomplished young thing.
The weeks passed and summer collapsed into autumn. The children grew to love Roseanne, and she grew to care a very great deal for them as well. She was treated as a member of the farmer’s household, and one night at harvest time she was presented to a gentleman at a party who took her breath away.
His name was Malachi L’anfant, and, like Roseanne’s benefactor, he was a prosperous local farmer. He was a tall man, of a curious wheaty colour, and this, Roseanne knew, was reason enough for him to be considered an outsider, for all his extravagant wealth.
Nevertheless, in time, he managed to maneuver through the protective custody of Roseanne’s employer. She was playing with the children in the orchard late one day when L’anfant--with all the cunning of a native to the island--managed to slip up beside her.
Pretending at first to be startled, in a few breathless minutes Roseanne found herself in his arms, covering his broad brow with lusty kisses.
He would be a special lover, she decided. His back was strong, his shoulders well-muscled. That he was, alas, a gentleman of colour, however slight, was of no real concern to her.
They met secretly all through the long fall, and each time their lovemaking grew more restless. He behaved as a wild man might when he was with her, biting the insides of her thighs, often leaving great bruises around her neck and shoulders which--when she examined them in her mirror afterwards--made her thrill in consideration of his mastery.
She liked best of all to lie there, outside under the stars, while he had his way with her; heaving his supple body upon her, smothering her overwhelming need.
Roseanne came to pretend that L’anfant was less a man than some kind of monster, a Caliban, a throwback to another time. He grew to enjoy casting himself in such an image, and for her pleasure would chant mysterious words, and maneuver himself as an aborigine might, dancing and singing and taking her in positions that might be considered blasphemous.
They of course could not continue. And yet they must. Their comings and goings together soon became the talk of the island, and at last Roseanne’s benefactor saw fit to chastise her:
“For the sake of the children, dear, I must ask you to desist.”
“But I love him!” Roseanne insisted, though it had always been her misfortune to confuse love and sex. “He has asked me to marry him!”
“Marry him! That’s impossible! I won’t allow it!”
“You, sir, have nothing to say about it.”
He threw up his hands in part anger, part frustration. Turning his back on the matter, he quietly requested that she pack her bags.
Whether Roseanne’s father grew ill from remorse at his daughter’s fate, or simply fell prey to one or more of the diseases that lay waste to half of Europe in those days, I do not know. At any rate, Roseanne felt duty-bound to sail back to England at his behest, leaving an anxious L’anfant to await her return.
By chance she sailed aboard the Aurora, and no more than three days out came upon young sailor Billy who, though he dearly wanted to lie with her again, nevertheless felt that such a woman--of whom he had heard so many tales--was unworthy of his attention.
“I mighta known you’d come to this,” he spat out one night. “We lusty whites aren’t good enough for the likes a you! And you--who were so sure you weren’t the kind a woman fit for whoredom! Hah!”
This hurt Roseanne, of course, but upon recollection of L’anfant’s heroic gifts, and the skill of his tongue when he tickled the insides of her fancy, she ultimately laughed at the callow boy.
“People change, Billy. I’m not the girl I was.”
“That may be so,” he rejoined, “but I’ll wager you’ll live to regret the day you take vows with the likes a that nigger pagan.”
This was too much for Roseanne, and she struck out in fury at the young sailor, who nimbly sidestepped the low and scrambled up a ratline.
His words, and the image of him high above her, silhouetted in St. Elmo’s Fire, haunted Roseanne for the rest of her crossing. Upon her arrival in London, she hurried to her father’s bedside in hopes that his blessing would somehow relieve the ache she felt inside.
But alas, it was not to be. He died without speaking a word to his beloved daughter. The nurses in attendance said that it was heartbreak, finally, that killed him. They produced a packet of letters from Roseanne’s employer, the last of which spoke of her betrothal to L’anfant.
There was nothing left for her to do but return to the island, both heavy-hearted and joyful too, for now there were no barriers to her marriage.
The days of her passage were spent in meditation upon her father’s death, but her nights she gave over to thoughts on her beloved savage.
She would dream of their white bedroom. How she would lie there, her petticoats askew, her rich silk stockings so white in the moon’s light.
The wind would announce his coming. The cool breeze would caress her thighs and she would open herself to him, to her master.
She allowed her fingers to find the little sailor of her mind’s journey while it sang L’anfant’s memory. Her fingers were as her love’s, probing, testing, starting her juices flowing as the packet rolled upon the open sea.
Roseanne imagined she could feel the drops of sweat from his brow, falling, salt-rich and profuse upon her young breasts. He would find her mouth. Willing. Warm. Wild with anticipation and desire.
“Oh yes, L’anfant,” she would murmur as her fingers increased their rhythm. “Yes my dark darling, my love, my life. Yes. Oh yes oh yes.”
The stars would look down upon the small packet’s progress across the formless sea. The stars would smile at the young girl within, now sleeping, scent of her need upon her fingers.
So they were married. It was a fine wedding with many guests, for L’anfant, though different from the rest, was after all an important local businessman. They journeyed to the mainland for a month of impassioned lovemaking, and it was at the very least so much better than the nights Roseanne had spent alone with only her hand to remind her body of his hard excitement that she resolved never to leave his side.
They lived in dizzy harmony for many months and it seemed that Roseanne at last had found a man to match her heart’s desire.
The spring rains came and went, leaving a damp decaying smell upon the land as the sun pushed inexorable to its zenith. L’anfant’s business thrived and he began to speak of the future. Thee would come a time he said when his sons would reap the harvest of this, his youth. His thoughts turned constant around this hope.
Though they spent threescore hot and humid nights wrapped in love’s sweet labours, it did not happen that Roseanne conceived. When the harvest came again, and noting that her soft white belly was as flat as ever, L’anfant took it upon himself to seek the reason.
Not content with the opinion of the island doctor, he took into his household a native woman who, they say, had raised him from a little boy. This may or may not have been true, but it followed that his decision was not popular with Roseanne. She could not relish sharing her fine new house with such a woman who sat all night and day in smelly rags upon the hearth.
The woman had not been in residence a fortnight when L’anfant, having spent the night in town with men who wager on the fights of cocks while downing pints of rum like water, burst into Roseanne’s boudoir. She had never seen him in such a state, and was therefore afraid, as any young woman might rightly be. He seemed possessed, if not by demon rum, then certainly by his need.
Before she could scream, L’anfant clasped his swarthy hands around her throat, shaking her as though she were a reluctant fig, unwilling to give up her sweet fruit. She grew more terrified as he held her even tighter. When at last he threw her down she said nothing, as if by speaking she would send him into further fury.
He licked his thick lips as she lay there on the floor. Her breathing quickened as he drew down his breeches, exposing that massive organ that she had come to know so well. Her mind reeled with the sight of it, for strange shapes in strange colors had been painted, or perhaps tattooed upon its swollen head and all along the shaft and down upon the fleshy sack that held his seed.
He spoke in rough and unfamiliar words and stabbed at her with his lurid painted pestle. He forced open her frightened mouth, and the taste of him was repulsive to her, like some poison or perhaps a medicine meant to charm the dead back to something like a life. He drew her small hands up to cup his balls and thrust himself so deep into her throat she thought she surely would be ill.
Just before she surely would have fainted, L’anfant withdrew his bitter tool, which glistened wickedly at its tip. He slapped Roseanne, vicious, all his weight behind the blow, and spoke, in English now, at last.
“It is because you are impure and have known so many men! But you will nurture my seed. You will. You will.”
And with all of that, he thrust himself into the center of her unwillingness. It was as if she were an ocean beset by supernatural storm, so strong and hard and abusive was his thrusting. she would have fainted, to be sure, if it were not for the pleasure it began to bring her. He had never seemed so strong, as if all nature would bow before his lust.
Their bodies slapped together in the dark, and a fine white line of froth marked the place where she ended and he began. She thought of calling out his name but drums began to fill her ears, and a strange keening sound, an unearthly kind of singing. As she felt the white heat of his ejaculation, she looked up to see the ragged black woman at her window, howling, howling like the wind.
L’anfant fell at last into a deep sleep, as though all his life had gone from him to her. Roseanne lay there in the dark, strangely fulfilled in spite of her fear.
The next morning she called the island doctor, for her husband it seemed had developed a serious fever. The doctor suspected typhus and treated L’anfant as though that were the case, but for all his expertise, L’anfant grew weaker as his fever rose.
At last, some days later and against her better judgment, she sought out the old woman who she thought might have some secret potion or magic words to bring the fever down. When she arrived, the old woman ordered Roseanne from the bedside. Casting a fine pungent powder across the room, she began to chant and howl.
By morning it seemed as if L’anfant were much improved. He asked for water and his grip seemed strong and sure. At nightfall however his fever rose and Roseanne was once again banished from the sickroom.
As so many do in times of stress, Roseanne turned to prayer and supplication. The rosary between her fingers was a comfort to her all through the long night, and at midnight, when the old woman’s footsteps padded towards her, Roseanne felt for just a second that her travail were over. The woman cursed Roseanne however, and tore the rosary from her hand.
She cried out in rough and guttural tones and out of nowhere, or so it seemed, three native men smelling from the dankness of the swamp appeared. One of them held a snow white cock, its beady eyes darting back and forth in fear. They entered the sickroom very formally, and Roseanne could hardly breathe for the stench of their passing.
An hour turned, during which Roseanne mercifully fell asleep. She was awakened at last by an unearthly squawk from the cock, and she heard a flutter of its wing, as if it were trying to escape.
There was silence after that. A long deep silence that seduced Roseanne into relaxation and a fitful sleep.
When she awoke, the three men and the woman were gone. The door to the sickroom was open and, fearfully, Roseanne crossed the threshold.
Her stomach sickened at the odour that assailed her. L’anfant lay wide-eyed upon the bed, his nakedness smeared with blood. She felt no pulse. she saw no breath. The sun climbed high enough to fall across the casement on a dead man.
She named the son she bore after his father, and he too rose to some position on the island. His mother, alas, disappeared from the memory of honest men to live a life depraved. When sailor Billy came upon her in a house of whoredom long thereafter, he remembered her only as a good girl gone bad some years before.