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Make Her Beg

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If this argument is accepted, it is clear that the modern Women's Liberation movement is something new, not just a continuation of the age-old war between the sexes. It is also clear why the latter-day Feminists feel that they must work as a group to accomplish their aims—and why wise men will take the movement seriously. It does not mean, of course, that individual women will not continue to have their own individual battles to fight, in spite of whatever success they may have as a group. “Make Her Beg” by Lee de Pepys is the story of one such battle.

The heroine is Lucretia Slade, a determined Liberationist and a full college professor, who is fighting for tenure. (Ordinarily, no professor would be granted tenure as early in his or her career as Ms. Slade is at the time of the action, but it is part of her character to want it and struggle for it openly.) The problems opposing her are great, and perhaps even insurmountable—and added to them, for reasons that at first seem rather arbitrary and whimsical, is an implacable and very definitely male enemy, Professor Horatio Wedge. 

 

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Make Her Beg

Lee de Pepys

This page copyright © 2009 Olympia Press.

INTRODUCTION

Precisely when did the Women's Liberation movement begin?

Some people would say it all started when Eve persuaded Adam to take a bite of the apple, and there could be some truth in that view. Others, including members of the movement itself who might be considered experts, point to much more recent events as the birth pangs of Women's Lib as it is currently constituted and understood. In her introduction to Handbook of Women's Liberation, for instance, Judith Brown talks about “a crucial demonstration” in early 1968 that “separated the emerging feminists from the old-line left women.” The Jeanette Rankin Brigade, an all-female peace group, was holding a demonstration in Washington to protest the war in Vietnam. The issue of feminism was not supposed to be raised. But in a keynote speech which drew the line of feminism clearly, Kathie Amatniek said:

“Now, some sisters here are probably wondering why we should bother with such an unimportant matter at a time like this. Why should we bury traditional womanhood while hundreds of human beings are being brutally slaughtered in our names... when it would seem that we cannot solve it individually as the Feminist directly to ending this slaughter or else solve what seems to be more desperate problems at home?... We must see that we can only solve our problems together, that we cannot solve it individually as the Feminist generation tried to do. We women must organize so that for man there can be no 'other woman' when we begin expressing ourselves and acting politically, when we insist to men that they share the housework and child-care, fully and equally so that we can have independent lives as well.”

Ms. Amatniek's syntax may have become somewhat garbled in the heat of her oratory, but the meaning—and the demand—is certainly crystal clear. Perhaps more insight can be gained, however, from an article on “Sisterhood” by the highly intelligent and articulate Gloria Steinem in the preview issue of Ms., The New Magazine for Women. Of her own personal conversion to the movement, Ms. Steinem wrote:

“If it weren't for the Women's Movement, I might still be (Assembling away. But the ideas of this great sea-change in women's view of ourselves are contagious and irresistible. They hit women like a revelation, as if we had left a small dark room and walked into the sun.

“At first my discoveries seemed complex and personal. In fact they were the same ones so many millions of women have made and are making. Greatly simplified, they went like this: Women are human beings first, with minor differences from men that apply largely to the act of reproduction. We share the dreams, capabilities, and weaknesses of all human beings, but our occasional pregnancies and other visible differences have been used—even more pervasively, if less brutally, than racial differences have been used—to mark us for an elaborate division of labor that may once have been practical but has since become cruel and false. The division is continued for clear reason, consciously or not: the economic and social profit of men as a group.”

If this argument is accepted, it is clear that the modern Women's Liberation movement is something new, not just a continuation of the age-old war between the sexes. It is also clear why the latter-day Feminists feel that they must work as a group to accomplish their aims—and why wise men will take the movement seriously. It does not mean, of course, that individual women will not continue to have their own individual battles to fight, in spite of whatever success they may have as a group.

“Make Her Beg” by Lee de Pepys is the story of one such battle. The heroine is Lucretia Slade, a determined Liberationist and a full college professor, who is fighting for tenure. (Ordinarily, no professor would be granted tenure as early in his or her career as Ms. Slade is at the time of the action, but it is part of her character to want it and struggle for it openly.) The problems opposing her are great, and perhaps even insurmountable—and added to them, for reasons that at first seem rather arbitrary and whimsical, is an implacable and very definitely male enemy, Professor Horatio Wedge.

Professor Wedge does not want to see Professor Slade acquire the tenure she desires, but there is clearly a lot more to it than that. He also wants to get rid of her and in the process he wants to make her suffer as much as possible. His method is to arrange to have her seduced by a male student and then to blackmail her, using photographs he has taken of the act of seduction. His campaign is successful to the point where Lucy Slade almost hands in her resignation. But the story is not quite as simple as that, and the events that follow include many strange twists and many surprises. The outcome, we think, will be difficult for any reader to predict.

We do not know if Lucy is a completely typical Women's Liberationist. We do know that she is a fascinating character, and Lee de Pepys' vivid writing makes her dilemma real and fascinating. As the movement grows, there will undoubtedly be many stories like this, but “Make Her Beg” will always rank, not only as one of the first, but also among the most literate, entertaining, and enlightening.

The Publishers

Chatsworth, Cal. April, 1972

CHAPTER ONE

Quite by accident, Professor Horatio Wedge found out that Professor Lucretia Slade very much wanted tenure in the English Department.

It was a mild surprise.

He was crouched amidst the roses in the Botanical Garden when he heard her say it. Wedge was an impatient man and did not normally walk anywhere, but this particular day was a warm one, one of the first days of an early California spring, it was a Saturday and he didn't really want to go to his office, so, on his way from the faculty parking lot to Hurlburd Hall he had decided to take a stroll through the Botanical Garden. The roses, when he came to them, he thought were beautiful—just coming out—and on impulse he decided to pick one, which was forbidden. He walked back to the third row of bushes to break off a burgundy cherry colored one. He started back to the path and then heard female voices approaching, two of them. Not wanting to be caught red-handed with the purloined rose and therefore face censure from one of his colleagues' wives or worse, a student, he ducked. That is how he came to be crouched amidst the roses when he overheard that Lucy Slade so very much wanted tenure.

Most young professors want tenure, sometime, somewhere; and at thirty-two Wedge himself had only had it three years. And a young professor even works for it, churning out reams of academic trivia those first few years, but most men resign themselves to not getting it. After all, if one school doesn't keep you permanently, you simply go someplace else to teach. Miss Slade was only twenty-seven and had been in the department just two years, although she'd come to her present job from Yale and had taught there a year.

Of course, Wedge could not have been expected to recognize her from his quick glimpse through the bushes, and he didn't know who it was until the other voice said:

“Well, I'll tell you one thing. If they don't give you tenure, the Women's Caucus will tear the English Department apart. Tooth and nail.”

“Do you think the threat of that will be enough to make those male chauvinist pigs give in?”

“I would think so.”

“Let's sit here. The grass looks nice.”

Ahah, Wedge thought, putting “English Department” together with the voices, Lucy Slade and her lover, whatshername, Samantha. That's odd, she was wearing her hair down. He peered, frowning, able to view them as they sat on the slope. Lucy stretched out, leaning back on an elbow and shaking her head, her hair flowing, golden brown, with a sheen in the sunlight. He had no idea she had such nice hair. She had always worn it pinned up, wound tightly around her head and pulled back at the sides, giving her face a severe mien.

Wedge began to look around for an exit. To the right the path curved around the roses; they would undoubtedly hear and see him. If he turned to the left he would have to walk uphill through an open space before he reached cover again. Behind him was an embankment and a brook—the bank was just steep and muddy enough to sap any enthusiasm he might have had for walking down it.

“How can you say that?” Samantha shrieked. Wedge looked back out through the bushes at an expanse of Samantha's back, her vertebrae clearly segmented between her halter top and the crease in her buttocks where, as she sat leaning forward, she spilled out of her hip-huggers. Flat on her back, Lucy slightly raised one knee, her legs longer, her flesh softer than Wedge had imagined, having never given her much thought, actually.

“Good God, Sam. It's nothing that extreme!”

“It's a step backwards from liberation.”

“No, I see it as a means of using what we've learned.”

“It's enough to make you vomit.”

“It's not as if we've never had men before, either of us.”

“But to say ... to sit there and tell me that you wouldn't mind making it with a man again? I've never heard anything so scandalous!”

“No, Sam...”

“Do you think a man, any man, could make love to you like I have?”

“Of course not.”

“Putting out for some sexist pig? After all our... Christ, it seems the whole movement is bogged down, spinning its wheels.”

“Pussy, Pussy, calm down,” Lucy purred and the sweet timbre in her voice sent chills up Wedge's spine, “that's not what I have in mind at all. All I said was that the idea of taking a young lover was beginning to have some appeal for me. Now, that's not putting out for some dirty old man. That's making some young innocent put out for you.”

“I fail to see the distinction.”

“When a man gets to be twenty-five or thirty, he can get pretty hard to manage. But when he's just eighteen or so, he's quite malleable. When they have their first big thing with a woman they generally get... oh, what's the word? Pussy-whipped! That's it. Now when you're eighteen yourself, it can be a pretty heavy number, pretty dreadful, but if you know the ropes, well, they can be easy to dominate.”

“It still sounds dreadful.”

“I don't know. I just thought it might be amusing, that's all.”

“Whom do you have in mind?”

“Oh, no one in particular. There's a lot of attractive fresh-faced kids around.”

“Crap!” Samantha said sulking for a moment before saying, “Well, don't act too hastily.”

“Don't worry, Sam,” she said, reaching out to take her friend's hand in her own.

They held hands quietly for a minute before Samantha rolled over and kissed Lucy full on the lips. Wedge strained to see. He couldn't believe his eyes—he knew things like this happened, he knew what they did together but he still could not quite take in stride this display of exclusively feminine passion, and when Samantha idly began to fondle the end of Lucy's breast Wedge felt far less casual about it than she did. He huffed on his glasses and scrubbed them with his shirttail.

“No! Not here!” Lucy said, breaking the kiss.

But Samantha ran her hand up Lucretia's skirt—Wedge was again amazed by the naturalness and simplicity of the act as Samantha lifted the skirt and touched home. “No!” Lucy said, clamping her thighs together.

Samantha held her hand in place, however, and the professor would have given a month's salary just then, being a rash man, to view the scene from the opposite direction. “I just want you to admit that I can juice you up more quickly than any man,” she said.

“Oh, Sam,” Lucy said, obviously touched and for the moment gripping her friend's probing hand with both of hers, “of course you can!”

Lucy tugged the intruding hand away and sat up, looking around in all directions. Wedge drew back where the roses were thickest and when Lucy looked behind herself, her eyes rested a moment on the farthermost roses, the burgundy-colored ones just above the professor's head.

“I've always wanted to make love out on the lawn,” Samantha said.

“Me too,” Lucy said, “and we will. When I've got tenure we'll even do it in public—but for now we have to cool it.”

Having heard enough if he hadn't seen enough, Wedge held his rose by its stem with his teeth as he backed down the embankment on all fours, his imagination so inflamed that he didn't realize he was getting his trouser legs muddy until he stood up next to the creek bed. Clutching his rose, he picked his way along the edge of the stream and out of the garden, brow knitted lost in thought.

Everyone knew that the two were lovers. It was a widely held presumption. Lucretia Slade had been hired as a result of activities of the Women's Caucus, a group of graduate females who had taken it on themselves to oversee the department's treatment of women and criticize hiring practices. Most of them were naturally involved in Women's Lib. Lucy had been a token thrown into their gaping maws to shut them up. It had only partly worked: they had immediately screamed “Tokenism!” But their screams were less shrill, which was perhaps the most the faculty could hope for. Lucy had arrived, manless. She had not gone on record as having evinced interest in a man in a year and a half, a period during which she was seen in the constant company of several graduates and movement women, and for three or four months now she had been exclusively with Samantha. Everyone assumed the obvious.

“Oh, Wedge!”

As he left the creekbed and returned to the walk, the professor heard his name called. He started, and then, twiddling his rose, checked his reverie as the two lesbians approached from the Botanical Garden. From the bounce with each step, from the freedom of her jiggle, Wedge discerned that Lucy was naked beneath her turquoise T-shirt. It had lately gotten so he could tell at a glance if his students or his colleagues' wives were wearing bras.

“I see you've been in the garden today, too,” Lucy said, eyeing his rose.

“Nice day for it,” he said.

“You must have discovered a new path,” she said with an obvious look at his muddy pants, smiling amusedly. Samantha looked off, face impassive.

“I slipped and fell,” he said, lamely, his eyes dropping from her visibly pointing nipples to his rose before darting up to her eyes.

“I saw those particular roses, too,” she said. “But I resisted the temptation.”

“I can't resist temptation,” he said.

“I guess we'll have to keep you out of the garden, then, won't we?”

“For you,” he said. “I'd be pleased if you'd take it.”

“I couldn't,” she said. “You apparently went to great trouble to get it.”

“You look very nice today,” he said. “Ravishing. I wish you'd take it.”

Samantha snorted silently; she couldn't snort too obviously, Wedge being Eighteenth Century, her own specialty.

“I can't really refuse, if you put it like that,” she said. “Thank you.” Looking closely at the color of it, she frowned slightly.

“Bye-bye.”

“Take care, stumbling around in the garden.”

As they walked off, Wedge glanced down at himself with a grimace, then stared after them, chuckling fitfully, rubbing his hands together.

CHAPTER TWO

“Miss Slade has been wearing her hair down,” Wedge said as he tilted back in his chair and found a place for his feet on the comer of his desk. “Have you noticed?”

“No. Why?”

“You haven't seen her with her hair down?”

“No, I hardly know who she is. I don't think I've ever spoken to her.”

“Well, you really ought to see her with her hair down.”

“Why? What's the matter with her hair?”

Wedge sighed in exasperation and sat, hands folded behind his head, looking out of his fourth floor window, his eyes almost as clouded as the sky. “Lew, she's a different woman with her hair down. She's soft and quintessentially feminine. It changes her character.”

“You're imagining things.”

“She's ripe for a man, ripe for the plucking.”

“Crap.”

“Lew! Lew, just go look at her,” Wedge said, standing and stalking to the door of his office. “I tell you true. See for yourself! See if you couldn't get it up for her!”

“You've got to be kidding!” Llewlyn said, looking wildly about as his professor stood by the open door of his office and pointed down the hall with his arm raised, wondering if Wedge hadn't finally flipped out.

“No, Lew, I kid you not. Just go look at her.”

“No.”

“Lew, she's sitting in her office with the door open—she was about twenty minutes ago. All you have to do is walk by and glance at her, then come back.”

“Why?”

“Do you care about your future?”

“This is blackmail,” Lew said, bewildered. Wedge was his dissertation advisor, so he stood and edged toward the door, approaching the man with caution.

“Call it what you like. You can be an obstinate cuss sometimes. Just go look at her. She's on the left.”

Wedge was honestly not conscious of his own histrionics. Lucretia Slade had been active in his mind throughout the weekend, and when he'd seen her this afternoon again with her hair down, he knew that action was in order and with his mind abuzz that action had inevitable drama. As Llewlyn trudged down the corridor, he resumed his position behind his desk, thinking, blackmail? What's he mean, blackmail?

Lew ambled back in and sat down, face expressionless.

“Well?”

“I looked at her hair.”

“No, Llewlyn. I sent you down to look at the whole woman of which the hair is just one aspect. Did you?”

“Yeah. I looked through the door at her.”

“What did she do?”

“Nothing. She was reading.”

“What did you think?”

“I hoped she wouldn't notice me.”

“What did you think about her, Llewlyn?”

“She looked all right, I guess.”

“Good.”

“She was frowning, though.”

“Do you think you could make it with her?”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

“You're kidding. You're nuts. You've finally flipped out.”

“I think you could.”

“No way.”

“You seem to be able to make it with other girls okay, don't you?”

“Of course.”

“Well then?”

“All right. First, I don't know her. I haven't even spoken to her. Second, from what I know about her I don't think anyone could make it with her—no one with mere cock and balls anyway. I mean, she's Women's Lib up the ass. Third, you can never predict this sort of thing before the fact, you just play hunches. And my hunches are all negative.”

“Lew, you're wrong.”

“Why's this so important to you?”

“The cause, Lew, the cause.”

“What cause? The Anti-Women's Lib Cause?”

“No, the cause of sensuousness, of right, of wanting these women to discover the truth of their own natures.”

“You've finally flipped.”

“Don't you think people should know the truth of their own natures?”

“Of course.”

“Okay, then.”

“Okay, fine. But that doesn't mean I'll be able to show her something she doesn't want to be shown.”

“Lew, do you know anything at all about women?”

“Enough.”

“Okay, you should know that all you have to do is get them a little hot under the whiskers, and they'll do most anything.”

“Brother.”

“What are you doing tonight?”

“Nothing with that dame!”

“No. My wife and I are going to see Mil-house. Want to come?”

“Life of Nixon?”

“Yeah, through his own news clips. Terrifying.

“Sure. I'd like to go,” he said. “Okay, come by at seven-thirty.”

Llewlyn had always liked Wedge's wife. She was a tall well-built woman and he detected in her a basic kindness, an innocence of spirit, a child's straightforwardness and awe of the universe. He squirmed in the carseat when on the way to the movie, out of the blue, Wedge said to his wife, who was sitting between them, “Ellen, Lew and I are wondering if you ever have any urge to feel two cocks at once.”

“Who's wondering about it?” she said. “It sounds like something you'd wonder about, but I doubt if Lew is.”

“Of course he is. Aren't you, Lew?”

“Sure,” Lew said.

“Well, I don't know if I've ever had that particular urge or not,” she said.

“You ought to give it some thought,” he said. “I think it's very important for people to be in touch with their fantasy life.”

Ellen's calm demeanor told little, but Lew thought that her husband's crassness made her somewhat uncomfortable. But that particular bit of conversation went no further and on the way home from the movie they talked about the career of Tricky Dick. Wedge had been thirteen years old when Nixon had given the famous Checkers Speech which had kept him on the Presidential ticket, and he had always wanted to see it. When the Wedges asked him in for a drink Lew accepted as a matter of course. Often, the three of them had had a shot of brandy together after going somewhere.

Before he'd been inside twenty minutes he'd begun to squirm again. He'd forgotten how fiipped-out Wedge was. The man was possessed, demonic—as if out to prove something, as if working out his feelings about Miss Slade on his wife. Before twenty minutes had passed Wedge, sitting beside Ellen on the couch, had asked her to show the two of them her tits and, when refused, had unzipped his pants to haul out his pecker. It stood ramrod stiff, massive and blue-veined, its foreskin half-peeled from its vermilion tip.

“Touch it,” he ordered her. “No,” she said. “Put it away before you embarrass Lew.”

“This isn't going to embarrass Lew.”

Lew was speechless.

“Lew, doesn't this embarrass you?” Ellen asked.

Wedge frowned.

“No,” Lew croaked.

“It ought to,” she said.

“It doesn't,” he protested. “Really.” He was being honest, basically: rather than embarrassing him it took him by surprise.

“Lew, come over here and sit with us,” Wedge said.

“Be careful of him, Lew,” she said. “What's the matter? Don't you like Lew?”

“I'm very fond of Lew,” she said. “Come here,” Wedge said, “and pull out your cock.”

Lew took a seat on the other side of Ellen and, not knowing what else he could do, unzipped his fly to free his penis, which was semi-erect, a proud organ, its uncircumcised glans a deep red.

“Isn't it a nice one?” Wedge said.

“Oh!” she said glancing down at it in surprise. “Why yes, it is.”

But even while admiring it she kept a respectful distance drawing back a bit as if to get out of range, and Wedge was quick to perceive that no matter how quick she was to admit that it was indeed a nice one that didn't mean she wanted to have anything to do with it. Or at least it would take some persuasion to get her to admit to it.

A hand on her shoulder Wedge said, “Why don't you show us your tits?”

“No!”

“We showed you; now you show us.”

“Why should I? You've seen my tits a million times and what makes you think Lew wants to see them?”

“He told me so.”

“Oh did he? Exactly how did he say it?” she demanded looking now at Lew quizzically.

“Well,” Lew replied, “we were walking across campus this afternoon and saw three nice-looking freshman girls, and Harry said, 'Wow, they're turning them out better every year.' And I said, 'Yeah, but none of them compares to Ellen.'“ Lew relaxed a little, somewhat amazed at his own powers of invention—still, it was in character for both of them, he supposed.

Wedge spoke up,...

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