Lady Gallantine dabbed her eyes again. “I’m sorry. I’m just so frightened. I asked Mother, and she said that I was coming of age. Doctor, I have these… feelings.” She lowered her eyes. “When I look at men. My body is on fire, like I’m ill with fever, and I yearn to be touched all over. And all the men at home smile at me so, the servants and the stable-hands and visiting Lords, and they stroke my shoulders and whisper in my ear, and I–oh! I’ve heard what people do, Doctor, and I am dying to have a try!”
Dashiell’s breath quickened. “Go on.”
Her color rose again. “I told Father before I told Mother, and he grew very agitated. He said I must stay away from men, and that I may take after Mother in ‘certain respects’, but he would not tell me what. And he says I must bathe in cold water now, and wear full pajamas to bed, and wash my private places quickly, and–he’s even hired a governess! A governess, Doctor, though I am 19 years, to watch me at night and ensure my purity!”
Dashiell gaped at her. Had the Duke really insisted upon keeping her so innocent?
Lady Gallantine was ripe, all right. Ripe to bursting.
“He says I mustn’t lose my chastity. And I heard–that is, I heard–”
Lady Gallantine dropped her voice. “That you can safely treat and tame lascivious desire. Is it true?”
Dashiell stared. He imagined drawing up her skirts, her exposed desire perfuming the room, and how wet and ready she’d be; her nervous fear as he laid her down and whispered, “Just relax, now, and you’ll feel better soon;” the furnace in the sub-basement below beginning to blaze, the heat mounting, pipes clanging, steam hissing through valves, as the Machine awoke and began its first inexorable thrust–
Dashiell swallowed. “Different patients have different reasons for wanting the treatment,” he said. “But it all achieves the same effect.
“In any case–Lady Gallantine, treating you will be my greatest pleasure.”