In Black & White


Title Page
Under the Hill

The Art of the Hoarding
Letters to his Critics
   Pall Mall Budget
   Daily Chronicle
   St. Paul’s
Table Talk
Lines upon Pictures
   St Rose of Lima

The Three Musicians
The Ballad of a Barber
Ave Atque Vale
The Celestial Lover
The Ivory Piece
Prospectus for Volpone

Appendix : Juvenilia
The Valiant
A Ride in an Omnibus
The Confession Album
The Courts of Love
Dante in Exile
Written in Uncertainty
The Morte Darthur

Enoch Soames

Under the Hill
Under the Hill

Chapter VIII

Of the ecstasy of Adolphe, and the remarkable manifestation thereof

As pleased as Lord Foppington with his appearance, the Chevalier tripped off to bid good-morning to Venus. He found her wandering, in a sweet muslin frock, upon the lawn outside, and plucking flowers to deck her little déjeuner. He kissed her lightly upon the neck.
     “I’m just going to feed Adolphe,” she said, pointing to a little reticule of buns that hung from her arm. Adolphe was her pet unicorn. “He is such a dear,” she continued; “milk white all over, excepting his black eyes, rose mouth and nostrils, and scarlet John. This way.” The unicorn had a very pretty palace of its own, made of green foliage and golden bars—a fitting home for such a delicate and dainty beast. Ah, it was a splendid thing to watch the white creature roaming in its artful cage, proud and beautiful, knowing no mate and coming to no hand except the Queen’s itself.
     As Venus and Tannhäuser approached the wicket, Adolphe began prancing and curvetting, pawing the soft turf with his ivory hoofs and flaunting his tail like a gonfalon. Venus raised the latch and entered.
     “You mustn’t come in with me, Adolphe is so jealous,” she said, turning to the Chevalier who was following her, “but you can stand outside and look on; Adolphe likes an audience.” Then in her delicious fingers she broke the spicy buns, and with affectionate niceness, breakfasted her ardent pet. When the last crumbs had been scattered, Venus brushed her hands together and pretended to leave the cage, without taking any further notice of Adolphe. Every morning she went through this piece of play, and every morning the amorous unicorn was cheated into a distressing agony lest that day should have proved the last of Venus’s love. Not for long, though, would she leave him in that doubtful, piteous state, but running back passionately to where he stood, make adorable amends for her unkindness.
     Poor Adolphe! How happy he was, touching the Queen’s breasts with his quick tongue-tip. I have no doubt that the keener scent of animals must make women much more attractive to them than to men; for the gorgeous odour that but faintly fills our nostrils must be revealed to the brute creation in divine fullness. Anyhow, Adolphe sniffed as never a man did around the skirts of Venus. After the first charming interchange of affectionate delicacies was over, the unicorn lay down upon his side, and, closing his eyes, beat his stomach wildly with the mark of manhood!
     Venus caught that stunning member in her hands and laid her cheek along it; but few touches were wanted to consummate the creature’s pleasure. The Queen bared her left arm to the elbow, and with the soft underneath of it made amazing movements horizontally upon the tightly-strung instrument. When the melody began to flow, the unicorn offered up an astonishing vocal accompaniment. Tannhäuser was amused to learn that the etiquette of the Venusberg compelled everybody to await the outburst of these venereal sounds before they could sit down to déjeuner.
     Adolphe had been quite profuse that morning.
     Venus knelt where it had fallen, and lapped her little apéritif.