A Princess in the Age of Science: 6 / 6

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A Princess in the Age of Science: 6 / 6

By Iolanthe Portmanteaux

During this entire time, during this chemical/hormonal warfare that was being waged on Georgia’s current and future gender, something else was going on: something wonderful, scandalous, and dangerous.

Two or three times a week, letters continued to flow between Wilson Prince and Georgia. Georgia, on his part, found Prince’s life and work utterly fascinating. The frontier, the desert, the mine, the refinery — had a romance and freedom that was (at least in Georgia's youthful estimation) very nearly a fairy tale. Georgia could almost touch and taste the dust of the Far West and feel the burning desert sun on his skin. In Prince’s letters, Georgia found love. It wasn’t love for Mr. Prince, though: this new love was a love of the mind. Georgia was enthralled by Geology. Aside from what he could glean from the encyclopedia, the child was unable to find any written material on the subject. And so, he peppered his letters with questions, with half-formed and malformed concepts that Prince was happy to correct and direct. Prince was a great teacher, and Georgia, an apt pupil.

On his side, Prince continued to be charmed by Georgia’s naive curiosity, and was happy to feed the hungry mind. Also, as we’ve previously noted, Georgia’s letters, limited though they were to life in Mrs. Vendall’s institute, were full of an unconscious good humor and an eye for incident. They also betrayed a soul of kindness and true concern for others.

Wilson Prince had fallen in love. Deeply, fully, hopelessly. He lived for the day that Georgia would finally step off the train in Feldspar and become his wife. He carried Georgia’s photograph with him always: in a pocket over his heart.

And yet, as we all know, there was an obstacle — an apparently irremovable obstacle.

It was a secret obstacle, until Georgia confessed it to Elias Bourbaki: “I’m not a girl at all. I’m a boy. I’ve always been a boy.”

Bourbaki had no reason to doubt or disbelieve. The child was in a deep mesmeric state, and quite unable to lie. And yet — Georgia’s angelic appearance gave the lie to his confession, so Bourbaki asked more questions, requested explanations. All of Georgia’s answers rang true.

Bourbaki was thunderstruck. He had meant to take advantage of a young girl in a vulnerable state. In this, thankfully, he was thwarted. In spite of his carnal intentions, he never considered, not even for a moment, conducting a physical examination to confirm Georgia’s statement. Bourbaki never touched his own privates with his own naked hand; he was not about to touch those of another man or boy.

But now he found himself in a quandary: he had discovered the “block” that hindered Georgia’s development. He now knew with perfect clarity why Mrs. Vendall’s Female Excellerizer and Laspar’s Nostrum (to say nothing of Bourbaki’s own liniment) failed: they were like waves striking a rocky shore. The doses could be doubled or tripled or quadrupled: it would make no difference. There was no real hope of success.

What else had Georgia told him? “No one knows. No one will ever know.”

“No one will ever know,” Bourbaki repeated to himself. He blushed, feeling for once his shame and guilt. Did he dare tell Mrs. Vendall the truth? Could he somehow reveal Georgia’s secret without compromising his own reputation?

Leaving Georgia to repose in her magnetic trance, Bourbaki sat, chin in hand, turning the problem over and over in his head. Try as he might, he couldn’t find a way to explain what he’d discovered without revealing his predatory desires. Mrs. Vendall had seen enough of Georgia’s sessions to know that a person in a trance doesn’t blurt anything out: they needed prompting. Very specific prompting, in fact.

After much thought, Bourbaki decided to let Georgia’s confession remain a secret. After all, Georgia himself would have no recollection of having spoken. After a few more sessions, Bourbaki could declare himself beaten; he could tell Mrs. Vendall that — despite his grandiose promises, he was unable to get to the bottom of Georgia’s issue. She’d have to believe him. After all, Laspar had failed. Mrs. Vendall herself had failed. And if she ever came to know Georgia's true gender, Bourbaki would appear both innocent and ignorant of the fact.

Decided but distracted, Bourbaki roused Georgia from his trance, and went to retrieve his coat. After all, he had to accompany the child back to Mrs. Vendall’s institute.

Bourbaki was so preoccupied that he didn’t notice Georgia’s interest in the electrical experiments and apparatus that littered this part of the workspace. In particular, Georgia’s eye was drawn by a strange glass jar. The jar was eight inches high and twelve inches in diameter. The jar itself was empty, but it was lined inside and out with metal foil. A metal rod topped by a small metal ball projected up through the center of the lid.

“What’s in this strange container?” Georgia asked, as her hand approached the ball. She assumed (incorrectly) that the rod was a handle, and she meant to grasp it.

The next few moments were indelibly seared in Bourbaki’s memory as if in slow motion. He saw himself, coat half on, arm thrown forward as if he could somehow stop the child, his mouth open in a long, drawn-out NOOOOOO! He watched in helpless horror, unable to intervene as Georgia’s upraised arm and hand grew closer and closer to the device.

Georgia had never seen a Leyden jar, and knew virtually nothing about electricity. The strange device was a kind of high-voltage battery. Bourbaki himself was not quite sure how much electrical power was stored in the strange bottle, but knew it had to be a considerable amount. When the tips of Georgia’s fingers came close enough for a spark to jump from the metal ball atop the jar, the worst happened.

The electric shock jolted the child more than a foot off the ground and threw her backward through the air a full twenty feet, across the room, to land with a terrifying crash in a pile of chairs and shelves.

Bourbaki, sickened with grief and fear, ran to check the poor victim. Georgia was alive, thank God: unconscious, but alive. The child’s pulse was rapid and his breathing was shallow. No bones seemed broken.

The man cursed his depravity — he’d gone to the trouble of making quite sure that he and Georgia would be alone, absolutely alone and undisturbed, during this “session” — and for that reason, there was no one to call for help. In spite of its futility, Bourbaki found himself shouting, “Help! HELP! Oh, God, help me!”

He ran into the street and grabbed a random boy by the arm. He put some coins in the lad’s hand, and told him he’d have as much as again if he brought a doctor immediately.

 


 

The doctor, who lived nearby, arrived in minutes. He made the most complete and thorough examination that could be done upon a fully dressed person, using the medical knowledge of that time. That said, he quite accurately concluded that Georgia had suffered a brain contusion — what today we’d call a concussion — and that this in itself required close observation. On hearing how the concussion was delivered, he grilled Bourbaki with inquisitorial severity. He strongly suspected Bourbaki’s darker motives, but he refrained from delivering his suspicions. Under the circumstances, his first and greatest concern was his patient’s well-being. To that end, wanted to get the child home, safe, and in their own bed without delay.

The doctor knew very little about electricity, but had twice in his career cared for victims of lightning strikes. The treatment for shock was the same as for concussion: bed rest and observation.

Georgia was small and light. The doctor was large and strong. He swaddled the child in a warm blanket and carried Georgia through the streets to Mrs. Vendall’s institute in a matter of minutes. Once there, he informed Mrs. Vendall of the facts of the case. Then, in a manner both patriarchial and condescending, he did his best to make Mrs. Vendall feel guilty and responsible. Several times he repeated the phrase, “How you could leave a child alone with such a man is beyond me!”

A glance at his patient, who lay inert on the bed, reminded him of his duty of care. Changing to a more professional tone, he instructed Mrs. Vendall to keep Georgia in bed, warm, dry, and comfortable. If possible, the patient should be spoonfed beef tea.

“It may be some days before she awakens,” the doctor cautioned. “I will visit twice a day until that happens, and after that… we shall see.”

After the doctor left, Mrs. Vendall decided that Georgia’s bedroom was warm enough that she dared change Georgia’s day clothes for a more comfortable night dress.

As you may imagine, when she uncovered the chief indicator of Georgia’s true gender, it came as a great shock. Mrs. Vendall fell backward into a conveniently-located chair and sat for several minutes in silent consternation. She hardly knew what to think.

When at last she came to herself again, she finished changing Georgia’s clothes. She called to have a camp bed brought into the room, and sent word to the kitchen to send up her dinner, to be followed by beef tea for Georgia.

A series of reactions played through her, like a carousel of emotions. She was angry; she’d been deceived; she was full of pity; she was vengeful. She had certainly been used by the artful little creature. What made all of it worse, no matter which emotion she happened to inhabit at the moment, was that she had developed strong feelings for Georgia: quite maternal feelings, as if the child were her very own. Georgia was unique; Georgia had been plucked from the jaws of frozen death, and promised to be a truly excellent young lady.

Then it came upon her like a blast of thunder: What was to become of Wilson Prince? What would Mrs. Vendall tell the man?

Mrs. Vendall remained in Georgia’s room for four days. The child’s color improved. His pulse was strong. He managed to swallow broth even when unconscious.

The doctor assured Mrs. Vendall that “All of this promises well” although “he would make no guarantees.”

During Georgia’s coma, Mrs. Vendall had determined that as soon as the child was strong enough to walk, talk, and feed himself, that she would thrust him out into the street to fend for himself.

And yet, as angry as she felt as she imagined this casting out, once the child opened his angelic eyes on the fourth day, her heart melted in her, and she began to cry, sobbing great thankful tears of pure joy.

For the next three days, Georgia didn’t speak, and didn’t appear to understand or know anything.

On the eighth day, he managed to croak the words, “Mrs. Vendall,” which broke the woman’s heart all over again.

In the four weeks that followed, Georgia made what was nothing less than a miraculous recovery, at first needing assistance to walk a short distance, and later able to manage the stairs and hallways quite on his own.

At two weeks into his recovery, Georgia made a startling confession. Nothing in Mrs. Vendall’s scientific studies could have prepared her for Georgia’s revelation, but soon her own eyes verified the truth of the matter.

She had decided to put off confronting Georgia about his deception until after he’d fully recovered. She still wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do… Whether to keep the boy in the institute? Whether to allow the masquerade to continue? Whether to shift him over to a boy’s role in maintaining the place? Her heart and her head battled over the possibilities.

One evening, after she’d helped Georgia on his nightly indoor walk, after helping him into his bed, she could see there was something disturbing the child. After some gentle questioning, Georgia confessed, his face white with fear and confusion, his eyes wide with fear. In a soft voice, almost too quiet to hear, the boy whispered, ”I’m turning into a girl!”

And it was true. At least, externally so. Georgia’s breasts had begun to bud, and his scant body fat was moving from his waist to his hips and derriere. “And my thing is getting smaller!” he confided, nearly in tears.

Later, Mrs. Vendall reflected: Georgia had been exposed to mesmerism, to radioactivity, and to a high-voltage electrical shock. All this, after months of treatments of the Female Excellerizer, Laspar’s Nostrum, and Bourbaki’s as-yet-unnamed liniment. It was as improbable as being struck by lightning and winning the lottery in the same moment.

Certainly, if all those things had happened to Georgia a hundred years later, he would have almost certainly become some sort of superhero: able to see through walls, or read minds, or run faster than light itself. However, he lived in the Victorian age, and such things didn’t happen back then. In those days, miracles and wonders were of an entirely different sort.

The hormonal battle inside Georgia had wound up the spring of his sexual development, and the final touch — the blast of electrical energy — caused it to cut loose. It was as if a dam had broken, and the pent-up flood coursed through his entire being. During the next three months Georgia’s breasts grew into a pair of firm, substantial spheres. His hips kept pace, and with the aid of some corsetry, Georgia soon had an enviable figure: a tiny waist, an ample bust, and generous hips.

The more secret change — that of his genitals, moved at the same inexorable pace. If anyone was more astonished than Georgia herself, it was Mrs. Vendall. She relied on Georgia’s reports until he claimed that his penis had shrunken away to nothing. With many apologies, and a beet-red face, the woman undertook an examination and found that — externally at least — there was no trace left of Georgie’s manhood. In its place was a lovely feminine flower — identical, to all appearance, to that of any girl in the institute.

Georgia wept, inconsolable, for days.

She — for by now, she was quite assuredly a she — was revived by a letter from Mr. Prince. Fascinated once again by the life and studies of her pen-pal, Georgia dried her own tears. Then she took the box of his letters and read them all from the beginning.

Gradually, Georgia took her place once again with the other girls of the institute. She was still as helpful as before, though her air was somewhat subdued. Mrs. Vendall remained the sole custodian of Georgia’s secret, even though it was a secret that mattered no longer.

Mrs. Vendall suspected that Georgia — on account of her singular gestation into girlhood — might be infertile. She wrote to Mr. Prince to see whether this could be an issue. He responded, “I won’t say that it wouldn’t be a disappointment. It’s many years that I longed to see little Princes and Princesses of my own making, but if God doesn’t will it, I would be obliged to accept my destiny.

“And yet, I have to wonder what in Georgia’s history would lead you to foster such a suspicion as this?”

Over time, Mrs. Vendall broached the idea of Georgia making a trip to meet Mr. Prince. At first the girl was excited, but as she came to realize that the object of the trip was marriage, she was embarrassed, alarmed, and afraid.

In time, she came to understand that she had little choice in the matter, and when Mrs. Vendall set a date for her trip, Georgia acquiesced. She was sure that once Mr. Prince met her, his ideas of matrimony would fly out the window.

The trip was arduous, long, and uncomfortable. Mr. Prince’s money bought Georgia the best arrangements available at that time, but even so, it took three weeks to move from Philadelphia to Feldspar, Arizona.

Mr. Prince was waiting at the station, his heart racing. He scanned the passengers as they stepped from the train, and as soon as Georgia appeared, he ran to greet her.

She was, as you can imagine, even lovelier than any photo he had seen of her. He put his hands on her tiny waist, and looked into her angelic eyes.

“Mr Prince?” she asked. In his hungry ears her voice sounded like heavenly bells pealing.

He opened his mouth to answer, then — unable to resist — he kissed her on her soft lips, and Georgia kissed him back. She hadn’t meant to. In fact, she was quite determined NOT to kiss him, but somehow in the moment, kissing him was all she wanted to do.

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Comments

more, please !

I wanna know what happens next !

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Little House on the Mesa

Iolanthe Portmanteaux's picture

You can write it! You know how it goes. Georgia is charmed and fascinated by what seems like a fairy-tale life (really, it's a boy's fairy tale: the rough-and-tumble life, the mine, the refinery, the rocks, the machinery, the anarchy, the dust, the sun). She finds herself more and more comfortable with Prince, and (being almost entirely innocent and ignorant of the subject of sex) agrees to marry him, seeing that as the way to stay in Feldspar.

Then, the wedding night, the consummation... the trembling, frightened bride, like so many girls of her time.

After that... children? no children? a cottage with a white picket fence atop a butte.

Happily ever after, loved by everyone, a princess of the far west.

- io

sounds lovely

certainly a better life than many mail order brides of that time.

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What a cute story... reading

What a cute story... reading on the transformation of Georgia was incredibly interesting, thank you for sharing! The ending was slightly abrupt but a wonderful story from start to finish. Thank you for writing!

'Abrupt' is my middle name

Iolanthe Portmanteaux's picture

Thanks for the lovely comment!

And you're quite right about the ending being abrupt. It's a weakness of mine that I don't know how to overcome. For me, the ending of a story is like a punchline. I guess I need a new way of looking at my story structure. I'll be thinking about that.

- io

Thank you for this conclusion.

crash's picture

Thank you for this conclusion and for bringing poor Georgia to Mr Prince in the end. We can hope that this is indeed a happy ending. I will be looking forward to your next posting.

Your friend
Crash

The Ending

joannebarbarella's picture

It's OK to leave us all wondering. I can imagine that they lived happily ever after!

I love the irony

Nyssa's picture

It's the perfect resolution for the time period when charlatans and scientists were often both as likely to help as to hurt. For those who supposedly eschew magic and miracles to be faced with a true miracle when their efforts failed, is perfect. It is especially fun that their methods were little more than witchcraft. I would have loved to see it continue or have the transformation be, at least possibly, due to something Georgia wanted. But I really liked it and look forward to your next tale. Thanks Io!

Wonderfully imaginative

Glenda98's picture

I really enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more,

Many thanks,

Glenda Ericsson

All that was needed was a strong jolt of volts

Jamie Lee's picture

Why didn't that medical doctor blow the whistle on that piece of slime before it preyed on another girl? During that time, had others found out what he did, he would be dead in a split second.

Radium? The same material that eventually killed Madam Curry? These really were the ignorant days, but days of discovery.

Because that piece of gutter slime didn't relish dying, he kept his self preserving mouth shut, and stayed away from Georgie after Georgie took that jolt from the Leydon jar. But had he followed Georgie's progress, and had Mrs. Vendall been more knowledgable, both would have realized why Georgie became Georgia physically.

Both would have realized that in combination of the crap Georgie had been fed and the electrical jolt he received, the chemicals in all that crap started working on his body. Actually turned him into her.

Still in all, both need run out of the town on a rail. After being tared and feathered. Or in the piece of slime's case, fix then tared and feathered.

Georgie's body wasn't the only thing that was affected when the electrical jolt activated the added chemicals in his system. While his body was changing so was his brain chemistry. Or when Georgia met Mr. Prince she would have felt ackward kissing him as she did at the end of the story.

This story elicited all sorts of emotions while reading. Anger over how Mrs. Vendall took advantage of a cold and hungry kid who was illiterate, homeless, and had vague memories of his parents. Or how she ignored his claim that he was a boy. Or how she used untried compounds on him thinking the "girl" would soon blossom.

Or when that corrupt piece of slime hypnotized Georgie and passed it off as a new form of medical procedure. Just so he could eventually get between her legs.

This is a nice story that has interesting characters which are easy to care for or utterly hate. I would liked to have seen more of the relationship between Mr. Prince and Georgia developed, whether she became a geologist and helped Prince in his work. And, whether the combination of chemicals and the jolt caused her to develop the needed organs to have children.

Others have feelings too.

Things that didn't happen

Iolanthe Portmanteaux's picture

The doctor might have suspected Bourbaki of having perverse tendencies, but what upset him was that Bourbaki was a quack, and that Bourbaki's recklessness and lack of supervision had allowed a young girl to be hurt.

You've commented several times about Georgie telling Mrs. Vendall that he's a boy. Nothing like that happened in this story until this chapter.

If you think about it for a moment, what you say about Mrs. Vendall taking advantage of Georgie for the sake of money doesn't make sense. At all. Your idea that she ignored the fact that he was a boy is contradicted by everything that happens in this story. It also defies common sense.

When there was clearly a ready supply of female orphans, and an well-run institute for girls that was already doing very well, why on earth would Mrs. Vendall put herself, her institute, and her livelihood into jeopardy by taking a BOY from the streets and turning him into a girl? I suppose that a completely different story could be written in which those things happen, but that is not what happens in this story.

- io