I don’t know it was a colloquial saying but where I came from the word furtling described looking for something, rummaging, possibly in a drawer. To me that is exactly what I believed until today, when I found out it means something completely different.
The Victorians participated in furtling as a pastime. It involved images with appropriately cut out holes. Now, don’t get all filthy on me. Remember we are talking about the Victorians who wore skirts to their heels and barely showed one (A heel that is) for fear of over exciting someone. Lol
The very sound of the word invokes a sense of furtive fun, something you indulge in behind closed doors. Usually created in woodcuts would be images of people in various poses of undress, all looking perfectly accidental or even innocent.
These images have holes cut out of them to allow the person reading the book to carefully place their hand behind. Instructions were provided to facilitate most effective result. All good clean fun but the beginnings of pornography.
If you want to look in to this further and get your hand in you can get hold of a copy of The Naughty Victorian Handbook.
You learn something new every day…