that he kissed him in a place
which it is indecent even to mention…”
(THE LIFE OF ANTONINUS HELIOGABALUS)
“But after all we are not children,
not illiterate juvenile delinquents, not English public school boys
who after a night of homosexual romps
have to endure the paradox of reading the Ancients
in expurgated versions.”
(V. Nabokov, On a Book Entitled Lolita)
This tale was originally published in the "Juvenilia" section of Snowdrops from a Curate's Garden, Crowley's obscene miscellany, one hundred copies of which he had printed privately (most likely in Paris) in 1904, although they bear the fictitious appellation "1881 A.D., Cosmopoli."
As my readers know, the edition was destroyed by Britain censorship in 1926. Now we can take the opportunity to read the story.
THE NEEDS OF THE NAVY
by ALEISTER CROWLEY
The air of the room was quite sweet and heavy with the savour of forbidden kisses; a faint moist sense of sweat steamed up in the twilight, and there was a sound of breath that did not dare to breathe, of sighs choked by fear. The midshipman's head silently turned round and his tongue pushed languidly forward to touch the lips of the lieutenant. A sound in the next room; both trembled violently, sprang from the sofa where they had been lying and hastily arranged the disorder their passion had made necessary. The middy took his lover's hand, raised it to his lips, bit it hard with sudden mad desire and whispered, in a voice shuddering with unsatiated lust "Ah God! Ah God! I love you now!" He slipped through the door and left Andrew Clayton to sweet memories and disquieting thought of the future. For Monty Le W-- had never given him his love before. Monty was a dark, languid-eyed boy with jetty hair; there was about him the indefinable air that sexual perverts recognize so quickly, a closer union than masonry can boast. In fact, he had not been on board H.M.S. Osiris a week before the Captain had promoted him to a dignity sufficiently high to excite the envy of the boys who had till then held the proud distinction of favourite catamite. A furious battle between the jealous beauties ended in their growing so excited over the spilt blood and the violent physical pain that the spectators were scandalized by the sight of an impromptu orgie as infuriate as the fight had originally been. The boys were still fast friends, but Monty was first favourite with the Captain and tyrannized over him to the previously-unheard-of extent of demanding reciprocity en affaire d'amour. The Captain on his part only asked fidelity; and indeed Monty had grown to love him so dearly that the thought of an adultery would have been insupportable. One day, however, a sudden desire came upon him towards the most popular of the lieutenants, Andrew Clayton, a man of violent passions not usually associated with fair hair and rather timid grey eyes. Andrew saw the sly looks of the midshipman and one day went into his cabin and, stepping to his side without a word, gave him a fierce kiss, while his hand sought to awake desire in an even more direct manner. But the passing fancy of the boy had gone, and he rudely repulsed the advances of his would-be lover. Andrew, with great self-command, withdrew in silence. Next day, however, they were both called before the Captain, read a long lecture on the sin of paederasty and severely reprimanded. It was evident that Captain Spelton liked his forehead very well as it was, and meant to keep a sharp look-out. Monty in his innocence was terribly indignant and naturally became quite ready to cuckold the Captain if he could. At mess that evening he managed to whisper "you shall have me if you still -" the immediate result of which was considerably embarrassing to Andrew. But all the endeavours they made to meet and steal a kiss occasionally were always frustrated as if by accident, though they now knew it must be of set purpose. Andrew suggested at last that, to allay suspicion, he should choose another middy and pretend to make violent love to him. Monty's jealousy said no, and only after a long time was he persuaded to agree. "Katie" Ambrose, the boy selected for this vicarious duty, was a dirty little fellow of the most vicious type. His favourite fancy, in public, was to lie on his back and to endeavour to catch in his mouth, and swallow, his own emissions, and he was also constantly degrading his rank by licking the genitals, or the feet, of the dirtiest sailors and stokers on the ship. He was only glad from the social status it gave him when Andrew made overtures of love. Monty would have himself preferred this choice, arguing that Andrew would have himself preferred this choice, arguing that Andrew could never be really enamoured of so vicious a boy, but what he saw three weeks after undeceived him. On this wise.
One night the Captain, being restless, suggested a tour of inspection, and the two lovers stole quietly out of their cabin. They came after a time to where Andrew and Ambrose were, and were lucky enough to catch the former in the very act of sacrificing at the most holy altar, while the boy, turned half round, was gently chewing and licking the armpit of the perspiring lieutenant. One finger of his free hand sought to penetrate the other's shrine, while the hand underneath him titillated his own genitals in unison with the motions of his lover. The act was consummated; gasping, heaving, breathless, they sink lower on the bed. Their tongues mingle lazily; the elder man withdraws slowly; a pleasant sound announces his exit. Hardly a moment and the boy gives his lover a signal. The latter turns over while Ambrose rises and sits over him while the sweet salt offering, spiced now by the god to whom it is offered, trickles daintily into the open mouth of the languorous man. Then the boy slips down into his lover's arms: they share the incense with mingled mouths until the flavour is appeased and they swallow it with the first blush of reawakening desire. "Katie" eagerly reverses his position to prepare for a new embrace; but Monty whispers to the Captain: "Darling, I can bear it no longer; come back!" They never slept at all that night; but I never heard either of them regret the fact. But Monty was terribly disgusted with Andrew, and when little Ambrose struck Monty (who had called him, with naive eloquence, "Suck-shit") the latter knocked him down and kicked him. The lieutenant, who was near, had to interfere, and the dark languorous boy was punished. This mean revenge (as he understood it) irritated Monty still more and he eventually refused to speak to Andrew at all.
It was the night of a big dinner ashore and Monty Le W-- had gone up to a little sitting-room which was next [to the] billiard-room, to wait for the Captain. Unperceived Andrew had followed him and was now lurking behind the heavy curtain that hung over the door; he listened to the boys' muttered soliloquy, disturbed only by the noisier laughter and curses of the billiard- room. Spelton was long - damned long - coming; no doubt of that. And Monty's desires were getting less controllable every minute. At last he took down his trousers and began to play with himself, hoping to ease a little his discomfort. At this moment Andrew glided forward and whispered "If you speak we are both lost. Your dress . . ." The frightened boy made a movement of agony. He was terribly angry, and yet dared not speak or make the least sound. After the other affair he knew the Captain would never believe his story. The lusty lieutenant took out a weapon fiery and enormous, and began to seek admission. The boy, with all the force of the sphincter, resisted. A sharp tap or two on the coccyx, however, reminded him that he had a bold lover, who would stick at nothing, and he gave way. The whole length of his lover's yard was engulfed in one great push, and, accustomed as he was to the Captain's penis, he could hardly repress a cry of pain. The ravisher was far longer and thicker and cared a great deal less about any pain he might inflict. And he plunged like a mad horse! At last the welcome climax, and a perfect deluge of kisses bitten hard into his olive neck. And then the luxurious confession with which this story began.
Left to himself, Clayton invented incidentally twenty-three quite new curses, called Le W-- a little bitch, kissed the mark of the little bitch's teeth on his hand, and generally conducted himself as an officer and a gentleman would do, provided he were also a devout Christian. He foresaw trouble. It came pretty quickly. Two days afterwards Clayton had to quit his lover's room in a great hurry, as heavy footsteps trod the passage. The Captain was in his dressing-gown and proved quite Arcadian beneath. He was in bed in a jiffy, and discovered heat and moisture to an extent unwarranted by the climate. "I thought you would never come, love," sighed the charming middy, with resourceful tact, "so I've been whiling away the time." "I'm here now," said his lover, and applied his lips to the dark altar of his desire. That was very moist too, and the Captain's inquisitive tongue soon penetrated its secrecies and became aware of a strong warm taste as of incense recently offered. "I envy you your amusement," he observed, with delicate irony, "you appear to have succeeded at last in following my advice to go and bugger yourself!" He said no more just then, but came round with a sharp knife two days later to both the lovers and said he thought their accomplishments, if unique, were unnatural. But the knife cut both knots at once; he told Lord Cartington at their tête-à-tête dinner the next day that there seemed to be no end to the variety of entrees which had as a basis - oysters.
"Katie" Ambrose grew in wisdom and stature and in favour with god and man.
More decadence, British fin de siècle :