London Life

London Life | 1934

The Strange Experiences Of A Lover

by Wallace Stort

Marcel, continuing the narrative of his experiences during his guest or limbless beauty, deals, in this article, with all kinds of odd and interesting casual encounters with limbless ladies in Paris, London and elsewhere.

Earlier in this series I made a statement to the effect that even though one constantly keeps one's eyes wide open for possible casual encounters with pretty limbless girls, such encounters are few and far between. But, all the same, one cannot devote years to a quest of this kind without having some very interesting and out-of-the-way experiences.

I do not propose to follow any chronological order in relating such experiences. I shall put them down in haphazard fashion just as they occur to me.

I had been some little time in London without anything startling coming my way, when one Sunday in the pleasant, sunny June of that year, I had a most intriguing encounter. I should say that while it was possible enough in London, I don't think it could have happened in Paris.

Coming towards me were a slim pretty girl and a boy hardly out of their teens. The boy was in white flannels, and the girl was daintily and immaculately clad completely in white; and both carried tennis rackets. Nothing so far unusual in that! But the astonishing thing was that the girl had only one leg and swung happily along on a pair of neat crutches. From the way in which the short skirt of her filmy silk frock fluttered out behind her on the right side, it was obvious that her missing leg was absent from quite close to the hip.

Had I been an Englishman I might, though startled, have accepted the situation as not being part of a hallucination. But as a Frenchman I was frankly flabbergasted, hardly able to believe my eyes. The one-legged girl was obviously on her way to play tennis somewhere - possibly in some tennis club.

Quite calmly and happily as if such a procedure was the most natural thing in the world, she swung along, her racquet, in its waterproof case, depending by a loop from her wrist. She was going to play tennis most probably in public; to maintain an almost miraculous balance on her slim, single leg; to hop nimbly about, to dart here and there, every second risking disaster if she fell - watched all the time, no doubt, by curious and perhaps disapproving eyes.

It was to me a most extraordinary example of courage and of the complete ignoring of what have been to nine girls out of ten an insurmountable handicap.

I have often thought about that girls since, and still regret that I was not able to follow her to her club and watch her give her amazing display of agility on the courts.

I got into a 'bus one evening and, taking one of the lengthwise seats near the door, I suddenly became aware, with the sick little thrill that comes to one at such moments, that the pretty girl seated opposite was holding a neat single crutch, and that below her short skirt only one shapely leg was revealed. On the right side, the thin silk of her skirt lay flatly over the seat, and every now and then the movement of a rounded outline near he hip, betrayed the presence of a very short stump.

I watched her covertly as she chatted in gay unconcern to the good-looking, well dressed boy she was with, and I noted with interest that she wore an engagement ring on her finger. Then she turned away from him to glance out of the window, and I got an added shock. The very short right sleeve of her frock was empty! The girl had lost her right arm as well as her right leg.

Incidentally, I saw that on her right cheek and temple were the remains of what had once been deep scars, which were no doubt the result of the accident that had left her without limbs on her right side. The scars were only faint furrows and did not detract from her prettiness.

As I sat there I could not help wondering how, in the circumstances, the girl managed her crutch. Had she lost her left arm instead of the right, she could have used the crutch in the usual way; but with her right arm missing, walking must be a difficult business for her. Here was a case in which an artificial leg would have been of the greatest help; but I supposed something prevented the use of such a leg.

However, after a little while the girl and boy got up to leave the 'bus, and I followed discreetly. The boy got over the difficulty of getting the girl off the bus by picking her up and carrying her. On gaining the pavement, she slipped from his arms and, balancing herself easily on her single foot, adjusted the crutch and set off.

I found that she solved her problem of walking quite simply, if not in a particularly attractive manner. The crutch, a black, neatly made affair, was of the pole variety - that is, it had only a single pole to support the armrest instead of the more common twin supports that are connected half-way down with a hand-grip and merge into a single support near the rubber ferrule.

She could not, of course, use the crutch on the stump side, as she had no right arm. And instead of keeping her crutch at her right side in the ordinary way, she adopted the unusual method of holding it between her leg and stump as she swung forward.

This apparently awkward way of using the crutch really resulted in her maintaining a much more even balance than would have been possible with the usual method. For the crutch was thus canted over to the right side, where it as needed, and by getting a purchase on it with her stump - this was very obvious, as one could see the fully outlined stump bearing upon the crutch - the girl was able to use it as a really dependable support.

One would have supposed that such a method of progress would be a very fatiguing and slow business, but the girl had become so expert that she swung along with an ease and rapidity that was surprising. The fact, too, that she had an unusually high, slender heel on her neat little open slipper, did not seem to inconvenience her in the least.

I took it that the boy was her fiance and the donor of the engagement ring she wore, and I remember being almost tearfully glad that this charming and attractive girl, who so cheerfully accepted the handicap of having no limbs at all on one side of her body, had found love and happiness. I have never before encountered, nor have I ever since come across a girl one-armed and one-legged in a similar manner.

I had another most intriguing and interesting 'bus experience two or three years after the one just related. Once again it was unique of its kind. I was waiting for a 'bus one afternoon, and had noticed nothing out of the ordinary about a young couple near me.

The girl, a very attractive blonde, clung very closely and lovingly, I thought, to the boy's arm as they laughed and chatted together, but that was all. Then she moved - and she moved in a peculiar, arresting manner. It was as if she had hurt one foot and was relieving the weight on it by shuffling on the other.

The boy was between myself and the girl, and as my curiosity was roused, I took a pace or two to the rear, thus bringing the girl into fuller view. I was at once thrilled and puzzled. To all appearances, the girl had only one leg - at any rate, there was no sign of another limb, which was highly incredible.

But she could not really be one-legged, I argued, for the simple reason that she was completely unsupported by a single crutch. If she had only one leg, then she must have hopped along the London streets on her single lower limb, which was highly incredible.

I had just decided that she was holding the other leg in such a position that it was hidden from me, when a 'bus came up and the boy and girl prepared to board it. My amazement and excitement may be imagined when, slipping her arm from the boy's, the girl hopped nimbly and swiftly to the 'bus. The incredible was an undoubted fact. She had only one leg!

Followed by the boy, she swung herself aboard with perfect easer and though the 'bus was not the one I wanted, I happened to have some time in spare, so I promptly followed and took a seat near this most intriguing couple.

I was a bit nonplussed when they took fivepenny tickets, but I was determined to see the adventure through, so I did likewise. What I was intensely eager to discover was what exactly was the girl to do when she left the 'bus? Surely she did not make a practice of happing along the street! Yet, short of being carried by the boy, what else could she do?

However, after what seemed an interminable time, the couple alighted - the girl hopping off as nimbly as she had got on. I followed casually, and from a little distance away watched the pair.

I had noticed when I first caught sight of the couple, before boarding the 'bus, that the boy was carrying something which my mind had vaguely registered as a sort of suitcase. But as my attention had naturally been immediately attracted to the girl, I had not taken particular notice of it.

Now, however, the boy began to open his contraption, which revealed itself not as a suit-case, but as a collapsible wheelchair, slimly but strangely made of buff-coloured canvas and black steel tubing, with small rubber-tyred wheels. In this the girl seated herself and the pair went happily off.

Well, that little mystery had been solved; but as I travelled back on another 'bus I was busy with a problem that had arisen out of it. Why did the girl use the wheel-chair? It was obvious that her remaining leg was quite sound, otherwise she could not have hopped so agilely upon it. Of course the simplest explanation was that she preferred a chair to crutches. But that wasn't altogether satisfactory - a young and active girl would surely not choose to be so completely dependent upon others.

Failing that, then there were, I reasoned, two possible theories to explain the phenomenon. The first was that while in town the girl's crutches had been smashed in some accident; that she had 'phoned her boy friend, or brother, whatever he was, telling him of the accident, and he came to rescue with the collapsible wheel-chair, which the girl very possibly had used when convalescing after her amputation and before she had been allowed to use crutches.

The second theory - and the one I considered the more probable - was that the girl was temporarily suffering from an attack of what is known as 'crutch palsy'. This, as all crutch users will be aware, is a sort of paralysis that affects the armpits, usually during the first few months after the adoption of crutches and before the individual concerned has become expert with these supports.

Sometimes, however, the 'palsy' returns long after the first adoption of crutches, particularly when a single crutch is used. The pressure of the arm-rest of the crutch upon certain nerves in the armpit causes the trouble. Some people can never really get used to the ordinary crutches because of this recurring trouble and, for them, the comparatively recent 'elbow' type of crutch is prescribed.

It is very possible that this girl was being temporarily troubled in this way, and while recovering from the attack was using the wheel-chair in the way I have described. But of course the solution of the little problem may have been something quite different and perhaps ridiculously simple. In any case, the episode provided a memorable and unique thrill.

It was a remarkable fact that whenever I have encountered a really pretty one-legged girl she has usually been accompanied by a boy and very often the presence of a ring on the appropriate finger has revealed the fact that she is engaged. In the normal, of course, boys are not attracted by one-legged girls; and the average girl handicapped in this way has, I regretfully suppose, to go through life unloved. But from my experience, and from what I have learnt of the incidence of the kink I am discussing, I am quite sure that a pretty, daintily dressed one-legged girl sooner or later encounters a boy who is willing to marry her. And in nine cases out of ten the boy is attracted not in spite of, but because the girl's lack of a leg.

Another interesting point in this connection is that a pretty one-legged girl who has attracted her 'boy' will almost always be found to be very noticeable smart and chic in her dress and apparently to radiate more happiness than her normally formed sisters. I think this is understandable in the circumstances.

First of all she makes the astonishing and delightful discovery that, though she is one-legged, a boy can still fall in love with her. Further, she learns and comes gradually to assimilate the additional amazing fact that the boy actually prefers her to be one-legged. very naturally she 'plays up' to this odd but, to her, very endearing eccentricity, dressing as smartly as possible and making her one-legged appearance as attractive as she is able. And also, very natural, she is supremely happy because of the love that has come so unexpectedly in her life.

All this explains in some measure what must have often puzzled the normally minded reader of articles and letters on this topic contributed to the columns of this paper. Most of the one-legged lady readers who have contributed to the correspondence columns have confessed that they find an odd kind of pleasure in being one-legged. The explanation of this extraordinary fact is not that the writers are just romancing; it is simply that they are happily engaged or married to men who prefer them to be as they are, and they have come to look at things in the same way.

It is for similar reasons that a pretty one-legged girl so often surprises and even shocks the more conventionally minded onlooker by the extreme smartness and conspicuousness of her attire. She sees no reason - and, for the matter of that, neither do I - why she should shroud herself in sackcloth because she happens to have only one leg. In fact she appears to take an odd delight in drawing attention to herself by the dainty chic, and even daring, of her dress.

I remember the minor sensation that was caused in Regent Street one afternoon during the fine summer last year by a girl who certainly did not see why she should not follow what, I suppose, was the most fashionable craze of the moment.

She was accompanied by a well-dressed man and, though not strictly beautiful, was extremely piquant and attractive, with smooth platinum curls, waved closely to a little shapely head, revealing almost completely below a ridiculously tiny hat saucily worn over one ear.

She swung along easily on a pair of neat black crutches, and her frock, - of the slim, form-fitting kind that appeared to be worn over only the very minimum of gossamer undies - clung in most revealing fashion to the very slender, yet rounded and shapely thigh of her one and only leg.

Incidentally, the empty flattening of the thin silk of the narrow frock on the left side made it pretty obvious to the observant eye that practically no stump at all of the missing leg remained.

She was, as will be realised, a sufficiently conspicuous figure in any case. But she had gone still further in this matter of daringly attracting attention to herself. For the slim leg below the frock was stockingless, and on the little bare foot she wore an extremely exiguous toeless sandal, a daintily delicate affair of just a paper-thin sole and a few narrow diamante straps, with a very high stilt heel, that left her very shapely toes, the nails varnished in gleaming scarlet, completely bare.

It was no wonder that people stared and, stopping after she had passed, stood there and stared again. Most of the stares revealed a lively interest in the girl, but inevitably, a few were sternly disapproving, even hostile stares that plainly said 'How dare a one-legged girl, a cripple on crutches, flaunt her disability so impudently and unashamedly in the public street? How brazen of such a girl actually to draw attention to her one leg by leaving it and her single little foot quite bare!'

The girl could not but be aware of this occasional disapproval, but obviously she was quite untroubled by it, as she swung along chatting in smiling unconcern with her man friend.

I, for one, as I watched her admiringly, was pretty certain that she was enjoying hugely the sensation she created, and didn't care a hoot for the few who would have denied her the right to make herself as charming and attractive as her normally formed sisters. Candidly, I watched her out of sight with a sad, cheated sort of feeling; for one thing the girl belonged to somebody else and, for another, I should probably never see her again - as, in fact, I haven't.

That is what practically always happens with these chance encounters. One never sees the charmer again - ships that pass in the night and never even speak to each other in passing! Life, alas, is like that.

So far, in this particular article, I have been concerned with encounters of a more or less ordinary kind. I mean that though the girls I met were one-legged, there was nothing otherwise very odd or bizarre about them. I have had, however, two or three experiences that were, in some way or another, distinctly unusual.

I became friendly with one very charming one-legged girl, for instance, and met her several times without making an astonishing discovery that really I ought to have been alive to almost at once. It was only when, after a while, I was invited to her home, that I learned the truth. Some feeling of reticence, I suppose prevented her from telling me the truth in so many words, for she adopted a curiously indirect way of allowing me to discover it.

The evening I made my call, I found her seated on a couch looking very obviously embarrassed in spite of an attempt to look unconcerned. As I approached her I noted at once the odd way in which the thin silk of her frock hung in empty folds from near her hips, and I simply could not help standing in questioning astonishment.

The truth was, and I had never dreamt of suspecting it, that the girl had no legs at all! Her left leg was absent practically from the hip, but a short stump of three or four inches in length remained of her right leg. The stump was useful enough to enable her to wear one artificial leg, though a pair was quite impracticable.

Despite the fact that her right amputation had been done so high up, she walked with surprising naturalness with the aid of her crutches. The very neat, perfectly fitting silk stocking which clad the artificial leg and the dainty high heeled slipper she also wore, helped the very natural effect, and it had never occurred to me for a moment to suspect the limb.

I was frankly surprised at being deceived, for I had always been sure, in fact I am still, that I could detect an artificial leg, no matter how natural its appearance or how expertly its wearer managed it. In this case, however, the use of the crutches helped to disguise that mechanical action which is usually detectable in even the most expertly employed artificial leg. And, Of course it would not occur to anybody that the single neat leg below her frock was in reality a false one.

However, there it was. The girl had lost her legs in a curious way. She had been a tight rope walker with her father and two sisters, and when only 16 had fallen from the very top of a great circus tent. Her legs were amputated practically at once, and in subsequent operations her stumps were further amputated until she was left with nothing below the left hip and only the short stump at her right hip.

I cannot say that she was altogether happy in her complete leglessness, though she was cheerful enough considering everything. She was one of the girls with whom I never discussed my kink. I am pretty sure she would never have understood if I had ever ventured to introduce the topic.

One curious point was, however, that she seemed more comfortable and natural when in her legless state. She always removed her artificial leg indoors, and swung herself happily and very expertly about the carpet whenever she wished to move.

Her leg was worn only in the street, and she did not seem particularly pleased with having to use it even then, I suspect it must have set up irritation in the stump - at any rate, she was always quite glad to be rid of it.

Readers may remember that some time ago one of the many onelegged lady readers of "London Life," in a letter contributed to the correspondence columns, confessed that she had herself extensively tattooed and described the artistic designs that adorned her only leg. This lady and other readers may be interested to hear that I have had the pleasure of seeing a tattooed one-legged girl appearing in public.

As a matter of fact, this particular girl did not exhibit herself as a tattooed girl. The tattooing was not extensive, and was only incidental to her performance. Actually, she was a high diver, the female half of a boy and girl diving act appearing some years ago in America, with the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus.

I was in the States at the time and happened to run into a small town in which the Hagenbeck-Wallace outfit had given a three days' show only a few days previously. The circus bills were still on the boardings, and I was, as can be imagined, highly intrigued to see a big coloured poster featuring the Two Somethings - I forget the actual name now - "World's Only Onelegged High Divers. Amazing! Unique! Unparalleled!!!" Etc. etc.

I soon discovered that the circus's next stand was only 50 or so miles away, and thither I set off with all speed. The act was certainly amazing, and I should say unique. The pair were each not more than 19 or 20, the girl most attractive with a very blonde, Norwegian beauty and the boy, also very fair, a splendid specimen of humanity.

The girl had lost her right leg and the boy his left, and each possessed very short stumps almost exactly similar in size. The boy wore form-fitting one-piece tights, the silk moulding his stump as neatly as it did the rest of his figure. But the girl appeared, rather daringly, only in the scantiest of skin-tight silk swimming costumes that left her shapely leg and the oval of her stump frankly bare.

The act itself followed the usual routine of high-diving acts, and was very slickly done, neither of the pair, whether in diving or swimming, seeming to suffer any handicap from the loss of a leg.

I had a seat quite near the big canvas diving tank, but it was only when the girl, after some combined fancy and trick diving, retired to a chair at the side of the tank, while her partner did some difficult solo work, that I became suddenly aware that she was very attractively tattooed. There was no doubt about it. I was close enough to see the various elaborate designs tattooed on the white flesh.

As I have said the tattooing was not extensive. There were 'bracelets' round each wrist, a twining snake design round the upper left arm, with the head resting near the shoulder. The only other design on the right arm was a butterfly, also near the shoulder.

The most elaborate design was that of a magnificent peacock with a spread tail occupying the whole of the front of the thigh of her only leg, the body of the bird covering the knee with the spread tail behind and above it. There was also an elaborately designed 'anklet' round he slim ankle.

But the most remarkable thing to me was that the little round stump was also tattooed! Here again the snake motive had been used, this time two snakes being intertwined and encircling the stump, the two heads facing each other, as if attacking, close up to the hip.

The interesting point about this particular piece of tattooing was that it had quite obviously been done on the stump itself and not before her amputation. The design covered the whole of the stump from the hip right down to where the shapely oval narrowed to its rounded tip in a way to leave no room for doubt. It struck me as being an extraordinary fancy on the part of the girl to submit even her stump to the alluring but painful art of the tattooer!

It was, of course, probable that the girl was tattooed on other parts of the body, but if that were so, her costume naturally hid the evidences of such work. The pair, by the way, made a very original exit from the arena after their show. They had used no crutches during the act, and none were produced at the end. They simply put an arm each round the other's waist and went off looking like a double-bodied freak on two legs, and walking as easily and naturally as a normal two-legged individual. They were billed as brother and sister, but I learnt that they were actually man and wife.

There is one curious aspect of this particular kink of which the ordinary individual might easily be skeptical, but of the existence of which there is no doubt at all. This is the fact that in all the world's capital cities there are one-legged and otherwise limbless girls who are definitely out to fascinate such members of the opposite sex as may be susceptible to their charms.

There is at least one such girl in London; there may, of course, be others. She is now in the thirties but is still a very attractive brunette with a slim, shapely figure, always dressed extremely smartly and expensively, yet with a quiet distinction that unmistakably reveals taste and breeding.

Though an habitue of the West End, she rarely appears in its streets and is usually found in one or other of the smart hotels or restaurants, and later in some expensive and exclusive night club, one famous resort in particular. But now and then you may catch sight of her neat, exquisitely dressed figure in Bond Street, Regent Street, or Piccadilly, probably an hour or so before lunch, and she swings along on her slender, beautifully fashioned crutches.

She always presents a very noticeably slim appearance, and I am sure that, each of her perfectly cut three-quarter length coats is made purposely very narrow in the skirt to help this effect.

One gets the idea that there is just sufficient freedom for the shapely, neatly silk-stockinged, leg revealed below the coat and very little room otherwise to spare. Were she two-legged, such a coat would fit her limbs so tightly as to make walking difficult. The effect is very noticeable as she walks, as the narrow skirt swings closely round the single leg and certainly helps to accentuate her one-legged appearance.

Another characteristic of hers is that she always keeps her crutches, which are specially made to fit her height exactly, quite close to the body and moves forward in short, dainty steps as if she were meticulously choosing her way over uncertain ground. This may simply be characteristic of her neat, dainty personality, but I think it is really due to the fact that she invariably wears on her small, shapely single foot, a very highheeled slipper, upon which her balance must necessarily be somewhat precarious, despite the help of her crutches.

There is no doubt that her whole appearance is highly provocative; and while the normal spectator must, and does, follow her progress with puzzled surprise, wondering no doubt why a one-legged girl should choose to appear in public like some wonderful musical comedy queen or exotic film star, the man susceptible to limbless beauty, to whom she is consciously making a definite appeal, must get a tremendous thrill from his realisation that here at last is the ideal one-legged girl of his dreams.

There are at least two such girls in Paris - or rather one is now a woman of over 40, handsome and well preserved, who has been married three times. She is rather big and plump, walking with slow, somewhat heavy languor on well-built crutches; and one can never escape the short, but very big and plump stump that is invariably outlined with such fullness on her skin-tight frocks, as she swings lazily along. The girl, a pretty, very showy blonde has practically no stump and swings very agilely along on a single silver-mounted crutch which seems to be almost part of her, so closely does she cling to it as she walks.

There are several one-legged women of this type in Berlin. In fact I have been told of two who always go about together. And there is at least one completely legless girl who frequents certain cafes. The girl's photograph, showing her posed on a table and revealing the fact that she is quite legless from the hips, was one of the illustrations featured in an article on Berlin's night life in an American picture paper about five or six years ago.

No doubt examples are to be found in all the other European capitals, but according to my information, for I have never been there, the largest number are to be found in Buenos Aires. There is in existence there a special bureau which one consults when seeking an introduction to lady friends. Here are kept large collections of photographs of charming girls of every type, and one special section is devoted to pretty girls who are limbless in some degree.

I am informed that there are nearly a hundred such photographs in this section. The majority, naturally, are one-legged beauties, a few blondes, but mostly brunettes with every variety of stump or without stump at all.

But there are also photographs of completely legless or completely armless girls, including, actually three girls who are completely without limbs and, curiously enough, only a solitary example of a girl who is armless and one-legged.

I do not vouch for the accuracy of this information; it is probably exaggerated, though it has come to me from several sources. But it appears to be a fact that this particular kink is better known and more widely catered for in Buenos Aires than in any other city in the world.

In a succeeding and final article in this series I hope to narrate my experiences among what I may describe as the professional limbless beauties - namely, those on the side-show, together with odd and entertaining facts I have gleaned during my very out of the ordinary quest.

London Life April 28, 1934
London Life | 1934