40. The Measure of a Man

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Saturday, 5th September 1733

Elizabeth sat quiet to her anchors when on the first Saturday in September, Aldrick and Elizabeth lay abed gazing out through the stern windows at the glassy sea. The winds had continued their easing, and the rain had stopped mid-afternoon Friday, the clouds parting sufficiently to allow a spectacular red and orange sunset.

As she contemplated Saturday's clear dawn, Elizabeth said, "It is the same here as it is at home, Red sky at night, the shepherds delight."

"Yes, and also, Red sky in the morning, wise sailors take warning."

"We cannot see the sunrise from here; our windows face west." She kissed him, then rolled and rose from the bed. "I will poke my head up through the hatch on my way from the closet."

Concerned by the delay, Aldrick arose a few minutes later, and he found Elizabeth still standing on the upper steps of the ladder. "The sunrise must be spectacular to spend so long viewing it." He startled her with his voice and the kiss on her butt cheek as he climbed, and when his head rose above the coaming, he chuckled. "Now, I see your delay."

Below, on the main deck was a steady stream of men, four dozen and more, climbing onto the gunwale, diving into the sea and ascending the accommodation ladder to repeat the process. Elizabeth sighed. "Such a beautiful thing, a man's body."

"To a woman, yes. But equally, a woman's body to a man. Were it not so, were we not each attracted to the other sex, we would find no urge to reproduce. We have been designed such that the attraction is deeply ingrained. It is not conscious; rather, it is our nature."

"True." They watched in silence for a long while, then she said, "The water must be very cold." 

"No, you will find it surprisingly warm in these tropical shallows. Not much different from bathwater at the end of a long soak." 

"Then why are their tails shrivelled?" She held up her thumb. "Few are much longer than this, nor much thicker."

Aldrick examined the men more closely. "Those are the normal size." Then he nodded toward the ladder. "There, the one now coming on deck. His is much larger than is common."

Elizabeth looked at the man, then down Aldrick's front and back to the man. "But well short of yours." She compared again. "And much slimmer."

He shrugged. "I have not seen another this large, though I have not viewed many, a few hundred over the years on these voyages."

"Oh!" She remained silent as she watched the men, then she said, "This would be the reason I have not seen bulges very far along the thighs of their breeches." She reached down and pressed her hand along his length. "My postulation had been that men bind these to keep them from flopping around down their leg."

Aldrick chuckled. "You study men's breeches fronts, do you?"

"As you study the curves of women's bosoms."

"True. But women put them on display to attract."

She giggled as she squeezed his tail. "And flopping this around down your leg is not a display? When I first saw you in the library, I thought you had released your bindings to entice me."

He laughed. "No, I have always allowed it to fall there naturally. But we could find a way to tie it across my hip or up my belly."

Elizabeth tilted her head side to side as she thought. "No, I think other men noting its bulge would consider you as the more powerful."

"And other women? You suggested you had been enticed by it."

"I must ask Judith for her thoughts. I am certain she has observed it." She giggled. "It is impossible to miss when you are in shirtsleeves with neither waistcoat nor frock to hide the front of your breeches. And even with coats, its bulge peeks out between their fronts as you move."

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