Character(s)/Pairing(s): England, America
Warnings: Warping young minds through literature, Graphic descriptions of women who engage in the "Activities of Venus" written in 18th century English.
Summary: America was being a good boy and doing his chores while England was away, but then he found something England didn’t intend for him to see.
“America! Where the bloody hell are you?” England shouted as he put on his hat and grabbed his riding crop. “I’m leaving now!”
“Leaving?” America shouted, coming from somewhere in the back of the house. “How long will you be gone?” He couldn’t hide the sadness and dread at England leaving for another of his long trips away.
“Just the afternoon. I’ll be home by supper time, understand?”
“Yes, England.” America answered, glad England was only on a short trip, but sad that he would be back in time to cook.
“There is washing to do, including the linens.”
He looked at the boy. “Right. See you at supper time.” He stepped out into courtyard where his horse was saddled and waiting.
America watched him mount his horse and ride on the road toward town. He liked to watch England ride; he always sat straight in the saddle like a soldier and rode like he was part of the horse, moving with the animal’s long strides. Sighing, he walked into the house and got to work with the laundry. There was always lots of it. England liked using dainty towels for tea, a table cloth and napkins on the table for supper every day. America grumbled while the steam from the hot water in the washtub wafted into his face, and rubbing the clothes against the washboard made him sweat.
He worked all day and into the afternoon, but finally there was only one load of laundry left - the sheets on England’s bed. America climbed the staircase and went into his room to the bed. He pulled off the blankets and then began tugging on the sheets. With one mighty tug, they slipped off of the tick suddenly and made America land on his butt with a loud thud. The thud was accompanied by the sound of something landing on the floor when it came out from under the mattress with the soiled linens.
“Oof!” America exclaimed. He rolled off his rump and rubbed the sore spots, then looked at the floor near the bed. “What’s that?” he asked no one, as he crawled on the floor to the slim book. America thought that was a very strange place to keep a book, under the mattress. He picked it up and looked at the cheap temporary binding. “That’s weird,” America turned the book over, and then opened it. “He always gets his books bound in leather … Hey, this book has pictures!” America shouted, smiling at the image of the frontispiece. He looked at it a little closer, and his face turned bright red. A man and woman sat on a sofa, a bottle of wine and two glasses sat on a table next to them. The man’s leg was lifted so that his foot could go under the lady’s skirt, and his hand was on her bodice pulling it down so you could see the lady’s …
“AAHH!” America threw the book away and watched it land facedown with the cover-splayed open. He stared at it with horror, his hand going to his mouth. “Wha- what is that?!” He asked, terrified at the idea that England would own such a book. Slowly, the boy leaned over, picked up the book again and flipped it open to the title page.
”Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies.” He read out loud. “A list of ladies? Why would England want that?” He flipped through some of the pages and started to read, the look of disgust and horror returning to his face as his eyes skimmed over the horrible words.
”Miss M__tague is a well-shaped girl, about twenty-three, good-natured and said to be thoroughly experienced in the whole art and mysterie of Venus's tactics and as soon reduce a perpendicular to less than the curve of a parabola. She is rather generous and you may sometimes find your way in there free of expence.”
America frowned at the words. “Is she a math teacher? And what is Venus’s tactics? He read on, until he found another passage that described another lady.
”Known in this quarter for her immense sized breasts, which she alternately makes use of with the rest of her parts, to indulge those who are particularly fond of a certain amusement. She is what you may call, at all; backwards and forwards, all are equal to her, posteriors not excepted, nay indeed, by her own account she has most pleasure in the latter. Very fit for a foreign Macaroni - entrance at the front door tolerably reasonable, but nothing less than two pound for the back way.”
The boy’s cheeks flamed bright red. This time he understood exactly what was being described about this particular ‘lady’. “This is so gross! And a foreign Macaroni, they must be talking about a lady for when France visits!” America chuckled, amused by his own joke. He turned another page and read about one of the ladies listed on that page that made the poor boy’s eyes widen in shock with the sentence “It is reported that she uses more birch rods in a week than Westminster school in a twelvemonth." America hated being spanked, and couldn’t imagine any one person going through more birch rods than a school. “Does she use them for laundry?” he thought out loud, looking over at the pile of sheets on the floor. He needed to get the laundry finished before England came home … he turned to the next page of the book and read more. Each lady was described in such detail, that America gradually noticed more than his cheeks getting hot. The laundry was quickly forgotten as he giggled with a dirty leer at a description of one woman that he imagined England would like:
” … Many a man of war hath been her willing prisoner, and paid a proper ransom … she is so brave, that she is ever ready for an engagement, cares not how soon she comes to close quarters, and loves to fight yard arm to yard arm, and be briskly boarded.”
England rode into the courtyard and immediately frowned at the clothesline only partially full with clean laundry. “Where is he? If he’s wandered off without finishing-“ England muttered angrily, noticing his bed sheets were not on the clothesline yet. He dismounted from his horse and strode angrily to the washtub. He dipped his fingers in and frowned at the cold water. Shaking his hand of water, he went into the house and scowled because there wasn’t any sound at all. “America? Where are you boy!” He shouted, going from room to room before heading to the stairs.
England ran up the stairs and stopped on the landing, listening for any sound. Finally, he heard a soft snickering coming from his own bedroom. “Ah HA!” England shouted, lunging into the doorway. “I found you! What are you doing-“ He stopped mid sentence, the color draining at his face when he saw America sitting on the floor, and what he was holding his hands.
America’s eyes burned bright and the flush on his young cheeks was a deep rosy color. The leer on his face made it all to obvious what he had found while doing his chores. “England, this book is great! Why do you keep it hidden under the bed?”
England froze when he realized what America had found. His face became a mask of horror and columns of white-hot fire shot from his eyes. The only sounds he could manage for a few minutes were strangled, hoarse choking sounds. Then his face became bright red and with the first inhale of breath, America knew England was about to lose control.
“YOU IDIOT! GIVE ME THAT! How dare you bring this filth into my room! Where did you get this? France? Did France give it to you?” England snatched the book away. “Now go downstairs and finish the laundry!”
“But-“ America stood, looking confused. “I found it under the mattress. It fell out when I pulled out the sheets.”
“GET OUT NOW!” England roared, he looked like his head would explode.
“Okay!” America shouted back, scrambling to his feet and grabbing the sheets on the floor before running down the stairs as fast as his feet carried him.
England sank wearily onto the bare mattress, slapping the book nervously against his knee repeatedly. “Idiot … idiot … idiot … idiot …idiot …”
Author’s Note: Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies was a book providing information on every known woman engaged in the oldest profession in the world in London, England from 1757 to 1795. It was annually published every Christmas. "Bound for the Port of Pleasure" Was a standard caption given to the illustrations printed on the frontispiece of the book.