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indian aviator
08-08-2011, 05:21 PM
CHAPTER I
"Yet another victim of masculine brutality!" concluded my Uncle,
sententiously; and on looking once more at the photographs he added:
"It's a pity all the same, for she is jolly good looking. And well-made,
too, eh?"
"Diana personified. Neither too plump nor too thin. Moreover, as
supple as a willow-wand."
"Lucky chap! You said that the marriage was fixed for..."
"July 20th."
"Next Wednesday?... And since when have you been engaged?"
"Officially since last Thursday, the very day of my return from
Shanghai."
"This is bewildering. You mean to tell me that you'll have the shameful
courage to... to..."
"Oh! she has advanced beyond that: she holds a Licentiate's degree in
both literature and history. Above all, her reading has been most
extensive; and whatever she has read she has assimilated perfectly."
"All that is very, very bad."
"Why so?"
"With a body so perfectly formed as this"— my Uncle tapped the
photographs with his forefinger—"a young woman who is
passionately fond of study must certainly, as Freud would have said, be
suffering from a complex due to repressed sexuality... And what a
complex it must be!... The whole gamut."
"That holds forth a prospect not wholly disagreeable."
2
"Obviously, provided the man is skilful. But a veritable artist in love is
called for and not a frantic tourist such as you are. For, believe me, my
dear nephew, the danger in these young women resides in the fact that
they are at one and the same time most sensual and yet rather
unsociable; certainly capable of flaming like a torch—and for their
whole lifetime if one knows how to awaken them; but at first
hesitating, like a flame which still flickers; and this flame threatens to
go out on the very first day if it is handled without due precaution. In
short, I'll explain everything to you soon... Proceed with your story."
"We spent three weeks after that fashion— three weeks of delicious
intimacy: intellectual and moral. I was able, wholly at my leisure, to
appreciate Therese's qualities, and I found her to be a sterling young
creature,—affectionate and spontaneous, yet reserved and reflective.
On the eve of my departure I confessed my love for her..."
"In the moonlight and to the sound of muted violins... and amidst
kisses!"
"No, no,—nothing of the sort! I told Therese that I loved her—I asked
her to become my wife. Whereupon she turned pale and declared that
she felt deeply sympathetic towards me. But her final words were that
both of us had need to reflect. I had great hopes of a kiss, which, despite
her words, would, in a way, have pledged her. But she refused.
However, she did so in a very friendly, most simple manner, while
explaining to me that she was not yet sufficiently certain as regards
her future decision."
"Ah! Ah! All the same that was rather cold on her part."
"I'm giving you only a rough outline of what happened. In her voice
there were those warm inflections which are hardly ever to be
mistaken; and on the following day I was wholly satisfied. Early in the
morning, while I was fastening my luggage, she knocked at my door.
This must have cost her a good deal. She seemed quite out of breath
and spoke so quickly at first that I had difficulty in understanding her.
3
She begged me not to be put out by her reply of the previous night—
not to regard it as a refusal. What she feared, she went on to explain,
was a hasty decision, given—perhaps—unduly, under the influence of
the sorrow my departure caused her. And as she spoke of my imminent
departure she made a poor little grimace after the manner of a child
who is swallowing down its tears. Then, suddenly, she fell upon my
shoulder and wept."
"Whereupon you dried her tears with your ardent kisses."
"I ought to have done that—eh? But she came to me so trustfully; she
seemed, suddenly, to be so helpless. I did not dare to take advantage of
her!"
"Bravo! Bravo!"
"You find me guilty of stupidity? Believe me, had she been a woman,
or a semi-virgin... But in the case of so young a girl..."
"Why make so many excuses for yourself? Do you take me to be a
brute?"
"Two days later I embarked for Shanghai... And then followed two
years of exile which, this time, were indeed a heavy burden. However,
we had arranged to write to each other by every mail."
"What about the Cerberus?"
"You mean her Grandmother? Well, Therese saw to that. Moreover,
four months after my departure we became semi-officially engaged."
"By proxy? And I suppose the betrothal kiss was bestowed by
Wireless?"
"Manifestly we had to wait until last Thursday for that..."
4
"I suppose that during the last week you have made up for lost time?"
Here I shrugged my shoulders, irritated by this cross-examination, and
somewhat at a loss how to reply, for Therese and I were under close
observation. It was on the sly and ever on the spur of the moment that
we managed to kiss each other. But my Uncle understood this quite
well, as indeed his words proved:
"Grandmamma Rolland shows crass stupidity. Her conduct is more
than bewildering. It's positively criminal... Think of it—betrothed for a
fortnight and not allowed a moment's intimacy. My dear nephew, you
are going full-steam ahead towards a catastrophe."
"Come now! A catastrophe? You are exaggerating. This has happened
in the case of other people."
"Don't talk to me about other people! I know you through and through.
You regard marriage seriously. You want your wife to be really your
mistress. And indeed you're jolly well right there; for nothing better
has yet been invented than a husband and a wife who love each other
carnally—totally—without the slightest reticence, or false modesty.
Yet you are going to spoil everything."
"What would you have me do then? I'm off back to China in six weeks.
Must I wait for the eve of my departure to get married?"
"Oh! no,—anything but that... Bunks inconveniently narrow... seasickness...
passengers keeping you continually under their
observation!... Very bad conditions for a honeymoon voyage,— I mean
a real honeymoon between a gentleman and a lady who are capable
of understanding the importance of what they are about. Here!— have
a cigarette and let me explain my ideas to you. You can carry them out
or not, just as you like. Anyway, my conscience will be more at its
ease."
5
My uncle glanced at his pipe—which had gone out—as though in
search of ideas; then he methodically emptied it by a regular
succession of little taps on the edge of the ashtray, before remarking:
"Can you spare the time to listen to me?"
"Certainly. You can quite understand how deeply this question
interests me."
"Good!... First of all, let us try to fix the boundaries of the problem. What
are we aiming at? Our object is to manufacture conjugal love. Not that
spurious affection—based on financial interests, or the dictates of the
fashionable world —which so often goes by that name. What we want
is a total—that is to say, an intellectual and fleshly—union between
two beings who make love to each other and... don't care a damn for
anything else. Do you agree with me?"
"Absolutely."
"Now, in order to manufacture that sort of love, it is perfectly clear we
require raw material of the finest quality,—that is to say, a woman
with an infinite capacity to give forth vibrations and a man who has a
passion for love."
"But if he loves too ardently he will not be content with conjugal
pleasures."
"Ah!—there you make a mistake,—a great mistake, my dear nephew.
A man who plays the part of a Don Juan, without being able to fix his
mind anywhere, is not a true lover. He is generally a neuropath. And if
he finds excitement in novelties, it is through a necessity to restore a
punctured erotism which is periodically becoming deflated."
"It may also be through eclecticism."
6
"Eclecticism? That of hotel-porters, who jabber several living
languages, without having had the time to fathom a single one. Have
you noticed that the most profound writers—a Mauriac, for
instance—are men of the soil, faithful to the self-same landscape?
And people with veritable amorous temperaments are also to be
measured by their fidelity. Instead of repeating the same little
experiments with easy little women, they prefer the great adventure of
a total love-affair."
"On condition that, in marriage, they find a partner worthy of the
adventure."
"Obviously! That's a question of initial choice. I don't insist on it, since
you appear to have solved the problem sufficiently well. However, I
must admit it is a delicate one and hazardous as regards its solution.
But, above all, it appears to me to be badly set, because one affects to
ignore its sexual side. One is floundering about in a sea of hypocrisy.
And when one comes to realize that there's a misdeal,—that the
couple are decidedly ill-matched, the fiction is continued. People talk
about incompatibility of temper, whereas it is clearly evident it's a
question of incompatibility of the sexes. A marriage is not a
satisfactory one unless sexual harmony reigns. Everything else, you see,
is of secondary consideration,—at any rate in the case of those who
claim to realize that erotic masterpiece,— 100% conjugal love."
"That is to say..."
"That is to say marriage containing a big dose of fleshly love. One of
those skilfully compounded cocktails containing a slight common
basis of intellectual and moral aspirations, a suspicion of equallyshared
social prejudices, but the whole most generously moistened
with sensuality, and without forgetting a certain flavour of folly."
"Go a little further and you'll entirely suppress the slight intellectual
and moral foundation."
7
"Not at all! On the contrary that is essential: it's an indispensable
gyroscope with which to preserve the stability of households. But
when the hour for desire comes and it is fanned into flame, I would see
husband and wife capable of forgetting everything save their passion; I
would then have them capable of obeying the wildest suggestions of
their senses,—capable of banishing all reticence or shame, amidst the
sole preoccupation of diversifying and renewing their
voluptuousness."
"But in that case, what is the difference between a legitimate spouse
and the professional vendor of love?"
"The difference?—Why, that existing between passion and venality;
between inspirations of desire and actions merely learnt; between true
tenderness and vulgarity! Everything which separates a body which
has been wholly yours and one which others have polluted,—nay,
which they may have contaminated. I delight to plunge into a
mountain lake; but it is not without a feeling of repugnance that I do so
in a public swimming-bath."
"By Jove!—what comparisons you do draw."
"They are literally exact. Between two young married people, really in
love with each other, I can picture, without a feeling of disgust, an
intimacy of lips and the flesh which, in the case of a prostitute, would
sicken me."
"But there are caresses which a husband cannot accept from his wife."
"Why so? If, on her part, the tender action is spontaneous and if he
cannot reproach himself either with conjugal infidelities or old-time
blemishes. Clearly this latter condition is a necessity. Unless we have
to do with an unspeakable cad... By the bye, what about your sojourns
in the East...?"
8
"Nothing... I lived there like a monk—a veritable monk, and strictly
observant of his rules. As to my behaviour in France, I've had only a
couple of liaisons, and most sentimental ones to boot. But I've never
touched a prostitute... No, on that score, I'm sure of myself."
"In that case, my boy, you can, as regards conjugal tendernesses, permit
yourself everything, and accept everything."
"As an objection against that, some people might raise that minimum
of deference which a husband owes his wife and which forbids him to
take certain liberties."
"Ah! yes. The great objection of the father-confessors,—'dignity as
regards conjugal love.' What a sinister piece of hypocrisy! How is it
that Christian moralists,—those most eloquent champions of fidelity
in marriage,—make themselves the grave-diggers of that very virtue?
For that is indeed what they do when they pretend to limit the rites of
conjugal love and restrict it to the brevity of a utilitarian act. They
would have the nuptial bed as frigid as an operating-table. Yet they
know quite well that disappointed love will seek consolation in other,
warmer beds;—and that will be the doom of conjugal fidelity. You
were speaking just now of the respect due to a married woman; but
would it not be inflicting a grave wrong upon her if she were made
merely the passive receptacle of a bi-monthly satisfaction? And what
a lamentable piece of trickery is that of so many stupidly unfaithful
husbands! They abandon their wives in order to purchase their
pleasures from prostitutes, without suspecting that a spouse, when
awakened to fleshly love, may become an incomparable mistress.
Quite as inventive as the others, but more sincere, more passionate, and
healthier."
"But do you think she would always accept that part as a mistress?
That she would yield to the exigencies of your love at 100 %?"
"Clearly there are redhibitory cases, such as that of a stupid,
amorphous woman; or the more delusive case of one who is very
9
beautiful, and so smitten with her own beauty that she fears to blemish
it. In all other instances, a woman's adhesion to the rites of love depend
entirely on her husband."
"And what must he do to obtain it?"
"Exactly the opposite of what is usually done."
"But practically?"
"He must understand that he is not an animal in a state of rut, legally
authorized to satisfy himself by raping his wife on the very night of
their marriage. A day will perhaps come when the honest man, far
from pluming himself on the rapidity of that rape, will make a point of
honour in deferring it a little; and that day will inaugurate an era of
better understanding in households. Come, my boy, can you imagine
what that first night must be like to a virgin? The ridiculous nudity of a
hairy man; the brutal revelation of the hugeness of his sex; the
repulsive obligation of allowing herself to be ridden; the pain
consequent on the act of violation; and the grotesque movements
accompanying the man's desire for satisfaction. I am fully aware that
many young brides accept these horrors without too great an emotion.
Some have already been instructed while others are endowed by
Nature with the treasures of a stupid, bovine indifference. But what
happens in the case of an intelligent, sensitive, and truly ingenuous
young woman? Either she will no longer accept carnal love save as a
degrading job, with the result that her husband will tire of her; or else,
retiring within herself, she will meet some charming initiator, who is
capable of revealing to her, delicately, the marvels of the senses,—and
the husband will be deceived. In both cases there is a dissociation of
the household."
"But, once more, what is one to do?"
"Simply be patient. Know how to enjoy those ineffable pleasures,—the
progressive discovery of the various parts of a young woman's body,
10
the awakening of her curiosity as regards the body of the male, and her
slow initiation into the mysteries of the flesh. Moreover, these delights
should be those of newly married couples,—officially,—and the fact
should be patent to everyone."
"You don't mean it!"
"Certainly I do, my boy. At least if we were living in a better organized
world, in which mothers were very intelligent and young men were
absolutely straightforward. But in your case...
"Well, exactly,—in my case?"
"The essential thing is to compensate the brevity of the betrothal by
secretly prolonging it after marriage. That would be a most beautiful, a
most subtly voluptuous procedure,—the man in question being
absolutely master of the virgin, but knowing how to bide his time..."
"To bide his time? To wait until when?"
"Until the hour came when that virgin,— overflowing with love for the
flesh of the male, steeped in his caresses and crazy with desire,— cried
out of her own accord,—'Have me!' Then it would no longer be the
lamentable discordance of a desire imposed on a feeling of disgust, but
the sublime harmony of two desires, raised to the same pitch."
"And suppose the woman does not come to that decision?"
"Then the husband is either a duffer, or she is a goose. Two hypotheses
to be set aside in your case."
11
CHAPTER II
There had been protestations on the part of Therese's grandmother,
and I myself had had to be obstinate. Nobody was to know the
whereabouts of the summer resort where we were to spend our
honeymoon. But, after the manner of a board of enquiry which
classifies the counterfoils of cheques, my future wife's family began to
collect all sorts of indications, such as the beach-pyjamas ordered by
Therese, the canicular preoccupations revealed by my own wardrobe,
and the characteristics of the motor-car I had purchased. On the basis
of these indications a legend took form and, favoured by my own semidisclosures,
it finally crystallized into a certainty around the name of
Juan-les-Pins.
Moreover, on the day of the marriage, we took advantage of this; for
those "in the know", fearing the length of the journey by road, urged us
not to tarry unduly. And thus, at four o'clock-I was at the wheel, with
my wife and our luggage aboard. The members of the blessed family
were lined-up on the causeway and became odiously noisy in that
almost deserted quarter of Passy. The way in which I started up the
motor was commented upon mockingly; bantering good-wishes were
showered upon me; and then came a final salvo of familiar advice,—
"Don't go too quickly!"—"Don't run the whole night!" —"Be sure to
break the journey at Dijon!"— Followed by laughter—already
distant, but which grated on my nerves, despite the fact that I did my
best to drown it by treading on the gas. And, as I carried off the woman
I had conquered, the primitive joy of being able to take flight mingled
with the roar of the motor.
Seated by my side, Therese remained silent. A white beret, set awry,
gave her a spurious air of assurance, while her slightly turned up nose
added a suspicion of the provocative. Nevertheless her features
remained passive and somewhat tense. When, begging for a look, I
leaned forward, she responded with a smile, but the limpidity of her
blue eyes was veiled by a shadow of anxiety. Whereupon I mused on
the fact that we were indeed, as partners still uncertain of each other,
on the point of entering on a delicate ordeal.
12
Therese was certainly virginal and, despite the maturity of her mind,
had remained very much a young girl. I realized—and this she was to
confirm later—that she had voluntarily avoided certain acts of
curiosity. She was certainly aware that marriage resolved itself into
physical contact; but the little she had guessed on that subject left
such a fringe of uncertainty and the unknown! She had certainly often
said to herself: "My husband will explain to me"; and so she left to that
distant personage—the future— the task of elucidating the fleshly
mystery. But now she was faced by the future, and it was so suddenly
near that the fringe of uncertainty appeared to her tremendously
enlarged. And now that the husband had come, Therese did not dare to
question him.
Hers was an unexpressed anguish, but easily to be divined. "Should I
dispel it by some piece of pleasantry?—reduce the mystery to the
proportions of a somewhat ridiculous formality?" Instinctively, I was
warned that that would have been a supreme error of judgment. As I
knew her—affectionate and reflective—my wife would accept
fleshly love as a religious act, presided over by serious rites; or she
would turn away from it under the impression that it was a downfall.
She was the possessor of an ardent temperament, certainly, and apt,
under a slow initiation, of rising to the most subtle heights of
voluptuousness; but she likewise had a delicate soul, and an imprudent
word would suffice to provoke a hostile feeling of disgust. Therefore I
preferred to remain silent. A recollection of my uncle's advice came to
me and I was the better able to understand its profound wisdom.
* * *
Had Therese believed, like the others, in the Juan-les-Pins legend? In
order not to prevaricate to her mother, she preferred not to ask me for
any precise information. And now, absorbed by problems which were
otherwise serious, she doubtless troubled herself hardly at all over the
question of our mysterious destination. Yet she appeared to awaken
from her day-dream when we were about to cross the St. Cloud bridge.
"You've not made a mistake as to the route?"
13
"Ah! I lay claim to a forfeit: you have forgotten to say tu when speaking
to your husband."
Whereupon I culled my forfeit from her lips. Therese—now
thoroughly awakened—disengaged herself, laughingly, and declared
I was an imprudent driver. Then she returned to her question.
"All the same, this is not the way towards the Midi?"
"Clearly it isn't."
"Well then, what about Juan-les-Pins?"
"I let that be understood. But I'd thoroughly made up my mind not to
allow our love to stew in the neighbourhood of that public bathingplace.
Come now, guess where we are going."
She enumerated some of the beaches on the western coast,—and to
one after the other, by a simple gesture, expressive of disdain or
disgust, I took exception to them. When she had definitely confessed
her incapacity to guess correctly, I uttered, triumphantly, the solution
of the enigma: "Versailles!—Versailles-les-Bains." Therese has no
great fondness for fashionable beaches. Though their picturesque
medley of colours may momentarily amuse her, like a well-staged
sketch, she becomes quickly tired of their somewhat vulgar
worldliness. However, at the mention of Versailles, she was unable to
hide her disappointment.
"Not really?" she questioned, with a forced smile, which badly
attenuated a little frown.
"Nothing more correct."
"But why Versailles at this time of the year?"
14
"Why Versailles? First of all, because I wanted to spend our holiday in
a place of safety, undisturbed by the incursions off the members of thy
family. They would have sought us out at Juan-les-Pins,—at
Deauville,—nay, on the very summit of Mont Blanc. On the other
hand, Versailles, in the summer, is much too far away for them."
"But, dearie, the temperature will be infernal."
"On the contrary, the temperature will be paradisian,—similar to that
which protected the amorous nudity of Adam and Eve." Feeling,
immediately, that I could have kicked myself for this premature piece
of stupidity, I went on to speak of something else. "As far as I'm
concerned, you know, it's not the heat which troubles me. Moreover,
the place is very shady and when you're wearing your beachpyjamas..."
"Oh! I say, you don't really picture me in pyjamas in the park of the
Grand Roi?"
"Certainly not, darling; but in our private garden I do."
"You possess a garden in Versailles?"
"An ideal garden, my dear,—a veritable lover's nest. An extensive
park,—a most comfortable villa,—and a garage."
"What about the staff?"
"Like the Kobolds of German legends: a couple of old gardeners will
watch over us, discreetly. As a matter of fact, they'll remain in their
own little habitation so long as we don't evoke them by ringing."
"Quite charming. But I can't quite make it out."
"Yet it's all very simple... like every genial idea. You are aware that
Albert is in garrison at Versailles?"
15
"Didn't he send in his resignation after his wonderful heritage?"
"Not at all. He remained in the army. Horse-shows and the rest. He's
immensely fond of all that."
"More faithful than you are to the cult of Mars... But continue."
"As proof of his fidelity to the god Mars, he has raised one of those little
temples to Venus! A model bachelor's establishment. And, zealous
high-priest that he is, it is rumoured that his altars have not lacked for
beautiful victims."
"You wish to add me to the list?"
"Oh! no,—what a shocking thing to suggest. But the priest of Mars and
Venus has thrown open his residence to us. That is where we are going
to install ourselves."
"In such a house of ill-repute? That's a fine thing, in the case of a young
married woman."
"Would you prefer a bedroom in an hotel? I can telegraph from
here,—'Require for young married woman bedroom having sheltered
only rosieres or other virtuous maidens. Kindly furnish guarantees or
attestations.'"
Therese began to laugh.
"Well, after all," she said, "a good work will have been accomplished.
By our legitimate union we shall have rehabilitated that place of
perdition."
"And, in close proximity to the Temple of Venus, we will raise a little
altar to the Cupid who presides over regular households."
16
"With a saucepan and a feather-duster to mark his attributions.
Apropos of the household, are your horrible bachelor's quarters fairly
comfortable? I mean for a fairly lengthy stay?"
"The best of everything in. its way. As regards this particular bachelor's
home, don't imagine a diminutive and obscure ground floor, as in the
bad books which Sainte Barbe, your grandmother, allowed you to
read. On the contrary, picture a well-trimmed park..."
"The Parc aux Cerfs!" (1)
(1) An old quarter of Versailles which gave its name to a house,
situated in the Rue Saint-Mederic, which Louis XV purchased in 1755
as a residence for his many transitory mistresses who were brought
there by his valet de chambre Lebel.
"If that is what they taught you in preparation for your degree in
history, I shall begin to doubt of the virtue of our so-called true young
women."
"Fortunately we still have left the exquisite politeness of our so-called
well-behaved men." As she uttered these words she smiled at me,
while momentarily hesitating; and then, slightly blushing, continued:
"If they had asked me what Louis the Well Beloved did exactly in his
Pare aux Cerfs, I should have obtained very bad marks. I had better
warn you."
"I thought as much and... I love you. But let us return to the question of
Albert's house. I was saying that there is a well-trimmed park,— the
villa is spacious,—there is a room at each of the four, points of the
compass, so that one can choose according to the season,—there are
two bath-rooms; and all the rest is on the same scale."
"But what are you doing as regards the master of the house?"
"There now, you've said vous again, instead of tu. Another forfeit..."
17
She refused me her lips, exclaiming:
"Not now, impudent driver!"
"Imprudent?"
"Imprudent and impudent. But that's not the question. I mean to be
alone with you, otherwise back I go to the home of my grandmother,
Sainte Barbe, as you so respectfully call her."
"Clearly, you would give her great pleasure by doing so. But your
venerated grandmother— God preserve her soul!—will, alas! be
deprived of that joy. For the master of the house is a model of
discretion; he thought he was under the obligation of accepting a
mission in Africa."
"That was nice of him!"
"That's a heart-felt cry which would touch poor Albert."
***
We continued along a most quiet avenue, provincial to perfection,—
past modest villas, and then lofty hermetic walls behind which one
could picture convents. Two children were playing marbles and a dog
was fussing around some boundary-stones. They appeared to have
been placed there of set purpose by a skilful stage-manager, in order
to emphasize the peaceful solitude of that suburban landscape. I
stopped opposite a closed gate-way; but doubtless our arrival, amidst
the silence of the deserted avenue, had been heard from afar, for the
gates immediately opened, disclosing a fairly long and very shady
park-like carriage-road. At the end of this tunnel of verdure the house
appeared, astonishingly luminous, and with its white facade
brightened up by purple blinds.
18
So, while the family into which I had married was deploring my
excessive speed along roads leading to Juan-les-Pins, we rolled slowly
along in that Versailles garden,—very slowly indeed, as though we
feared that the luminous apparition at the end of the drive might
vanish on our approach. Somewhat disturbed a short time before by
my wife's objections, I was now wholly reassured as to the fortunate
choice of our holiday-place. Dumb with astonishment, Therese
snuggled up to me and, with a movement in which admiration was
mingled with a suspicion of unformulated fear, stretched out her
clasped hands towards the house.
I left Therese oh the flight of steps,—white marble steps adorned with
red geraniums, and while the gardeners were discreetly seeing to our
luggage I went off to garage the car. The garage was quite near, yet I
purposely dawdled over my job, the prey to a disquietude which
wrung my heart and loins. For the sight of that house in which, for
weeks past, I had placed my amorous dreams suddenly let loose in me
a maddening series of erotic visions.
My sexual impatience, dormant during the carrying out of ordinary
daily duties, was suddenly awakened and already whispered its
pernicious advice in my ears.
The day before, again, I feared the necessary yet brutal act which was
to seal my union with Therese definitely. This fear was comparable to
physical anguish, incessantly mingled with the warp and woof of my
dreams; and just as I succeeded in momentarily eluding it, it returned,
more lancinating than ever, to interpose itself between our bodies,
which in thought I had united. Some people will laugh at this fear of
mine and consider it hardly manly; but others will understand me,—
those who regard a young woman as something more than the
possessor of a pair of bubbies and Callipygian buttocks.
Far from growing indistinct at the approach of marriage, this dull
anguish of mine increased, on the contrary, as! began to appreciate
better the delicate purity of Therese. But all at once it was dissipated,
19
at the sudden appeal of my desire; and arguments crowded to my
brain to justify this volte-face. What should I gain by deferring an act
which alone could give us access to fleshly delights? Was I going to
succumb to a morbid fit of sentimentality?—make myself ridiculous in
my own eyes by omitting to exercise, that very night, my rights as a
husband? Would it not be better, at the cost of a transitory suffering on
Therese's part, to awaken to-morrow side by side with the body of a
real woman, capable of appeasing my desire? A shiver passed through
me and in response came a violent tension of my sex. My thoughts were
concentrated on a narrow, voluptuous image,—that of my flesh
tenderly imprisoned by the flesh of my beloved. The preceding rape
had already lost all importance in my eyes;—it was nothing save a
rapid and indeed insignificant act; a brief pain which would quickly
evaporate amidst the fire of immediate sensual enjoyment.
20
CHAPTER III
Therese was waiting for me in the vestibule. Laughingly, she greeted
me with the words: "The luggage has been taken upstairs and the
gardeners have vanished. Therefore, my Lord and Master, am I all
alone and at Thy mercy." Then, with outstretched arms and a
somewhat troubled look in her eyes, she advanced towards me; and,'
suddenly throwing herself into my arms, kissed me passionately on the
mouth.
Long did we remain standing in that position, closely pressed one
against the other. Therese's lips were burning hot and from time to time
they trembled. Through the light material of her summer gown, I could
feel the dual provocation of her breasts. My two hands slid down to her
hips and I pressed her violently to my body, to appease my
exacerbated desire against the warmth of her stomach. A
hallucinating dizziness mounted from my loins to my brain. My
willpower, under a force which was, as it were, foreign to me, but to
which I felt a desire to succumb amidst the total nudity of both our
bodies, began to disintegrate. But Therese thought only of my lips,
without the faintest idea of how my sex, in such close contact with her,
was quivering. I felt annoyed with her for not responding to my
lascivious pressure against her tummy; I felt annoyed when she did not
respond by some movement or other of her lips which, despite the
intervening clothing, would have assuaged that pressure by a caress.
Through one of those inconsistencies so common in love, I was irritated
by my wife's naiveté and by that very purity which had attracted me
to her.
Feeling my lips detach themselves from hers, Therese opened her
eyes,—and in the timorous astonishment of her look I read the
bestiality of my own features. But that was no longer the time for
stupid sentimentality and foolish pity. A single idea, under the
precipitate throbbing of my temples, dominated me: to put an end to
the excessive erection of my sex by possessing the female who had
thrown me into such a condition of rut.
21
Wholly unaffected by her terrified look, I raised Therese in my arms
and carried her away to a corner of the vestibule where there was a
pile of cushions. Overturning her on to these, I fell down by her side
and slipped my hand under her petticoats. She sought to repulse me,
but I overpowered her, one of my legs twined around hers and my body
pressed against her breasts. And with mouth to mouth came the
expression of my desire,—furiously: "I want to possess you! I want to
possess you!" Already my hand, above the stocking, had reached her
naked thigh. But Therese succeeded in getting away: she raised herself
up with a sudden movement like that of a tracked animal and, seizing
my wrist, drove her finger-nails into, my flesh desperately. We looked
at each other exactly as, during the savage hours of the War, a
wounded man and the brute who was about to kill him must have
gazed into each other's eyes. Two tears welled m Therese's eyes, and
from her lips came the supplication—"Oh! no, not that! I implore
you,—not that!"
Suddenly brought to my senses, I drew her head on to my shoulder and
kissed her eyes. She murmured,—"I believe that I should never have
forgiven you!" Then she hid her face against my neck and I could feel
her scalding tears coursing one after the other down her skin. No other
noise in the house broke the silence, save that of the pendulum of a
clock hammering out the seconds. I could feel that Time was flowing,
materially, between my fingers: Time for ever completed on that day of
my wedding, which was now irremediably spoilt. It must have been
still very light out in the garden; but the vestibule, behind the closed
shutters, was already dark and, like two abandoned children, we were
huddled in its darkest corner. Hours passed. Therese no longer wept.
Yet her face was still hidden against my neck and from time to time, at
long intervals, she sobbed.
My desire—recently so tyrannical—had completely subsided,
indifferent to my wife's hand, which had involuntarily slipped
between my legs. Mortally sad—as one can be after a defeat, the
weight of which must be supported alone—I now realized, with bitter
lucidity, the brutality of my act. And, when I called to mind my
22
previous relations with Therese, its lamentable brutality appeared to
me still more unpardonable.
For those relations, as regards a fleshly preparation, had been
practically nil,—three weeks of a wholly intellectual comradeship,—
two years of an increasingly tender yet ever deferential
correspondence,—and a fortnight's betrothal under close observation.
A fortnight during which we had done a great deal of kissing, to the
extent of ravaging our lips, to the great scandal of those around us. But
these kisses were only too rapid, too quickly interrupted; any slightly
prolonged silence indeed gave the alarm to that sentinel on the watch
in the adjoining room—Therese's grandmother. Never was the contact
of our lips sufficiently long, or sufficiently profligate to enable me to
dare to add a caress with my tongue and though my hands strayed to
Therese's breasts, or stroked the curves of her loins, this could be done
very furtively without the intimacy of a partly-unbuttoned piece of
clothing. Perhaps she did not even notice the enveloping movement of
those caresses, wholly occupied as she was by the only too-brief
contact of our lips. The thought of our very near marriage alone helped
me to accept the constraint imposed on our betrothal, and to support
the suspicion which weighed on our actions.
On the other hand, we were allowed the greatest liberty as regards
correspondence and conversation. The vigilant sentinel at her
listening-station was unable to distinguish our words. As a matter of
fact, all that she required was to hear a confused and uninterrupted
sound. And so we profited by this to chatter together the livelong day
and far into the night.
Our previous conversations had already revealed to me Therese's
complete psychology,—a combination of intellectual maturity and
juvenile spontaneity, beneath which could be glimpsed a rich
potentiality of still dormant sensuality. But the more intimate
conversations during our betrothal enlightened me on one point
which, up to then, had remained in the shade: namely, Therese's
profound innocence,—her total ignorance regarding carnal details.
23
This combination of maturity and ignorance will, perhaps, be regarded
as paradoxical,—at the very least contradictory; yet it characterizes a
type of young woman, absolutely homogeneous and more common
than people think,—a type, moreover, which has nothing in common
with the goose-like girl of former times.
In the case of these latter, love is reduced to a childish scale of
sentimental and roguish pranks. But to Therese marriage was
something else,— it was an intellectual and sentimental problem
involving a fleshly aspect. She had traced the boundaries of this
problem, forbidding herself to go beyond them, or enervate her mind
in the process. Above all, she had been antagonistic to listening to the
semi-confidences of vicious companions, who would primarily have
besmirched love in her eyes. Confident that, at the chosen hour, the
one she loved would know how to initiate her, totally, without
subterfuges, she had retained for him the virginity of her mind, as
jealously as that of her body. Contemporary literature is certainly not
favourable to such a mental virginity, and Therese, already for a
number of years, had gone far beyond the programme of classical
works. But she took advice and instinctively avoided the reading of
certain books, after the manner of those young men who, left wholly
free but mindful of their sexual hygiene, know how to flee from the
contamination of certain women.
Was this voluntary absence of unhealthy curiosity in Therese's case an
indication of some sensual deficiency? I had no fear on that score. From
the outset of our very first conversations, I had amused myself over the
passion she displayed for everything which had once interested her,—
study and reading, music and tennis, even her dolls which she still
secretly fondled, nay, even the old dog which had so long been the
discreet confident of her troubles. The conclusions I had drawn from
this were soon confirmed by other more symptomatic details,—the
profundity of certain looks, the involuntary lasciviousness which
sometimes emanated from her adorably supple body; and, during our
betrothal, the rapid acceleration of her pulse under the influence of a
24
somewhat prolonged kiss. Yet her temperament remained—like her
intellectual curiosity—outside the zone of fleshly preoccupations.
With all these characteristics I was acquainted. They had even come
into greater relief since my examination of them from that central
point of view—new to me—which my uncle had revealed. And
though, at first, I challenged his sensual theories, judging the
conclusions either exaggerated or ridiculous, I soon came to realize
their wisdom: productive of deeper voluptuous sensations. Moreover,
they adapted themselves exactly to Therese's temperament; they
emphasized at one and the same time the resources and the danger.
The resources of such a temperament were at one and the same time its
richness, its diversity, its assured consent to the most ardent carnal love,
provided I knew how to defer the hour for total possession; at the same
time—at the cost of imposing a few days' constraint on my feelings—
there was the certainty of finding her to be an ideal mistress,—an
ardent, delicate, and inventive inspirer of our love. On the other hand,
the danger at one and the same time was that pride and hypersensibility
of a young woman who had remained pure voluntarily; that
was the very perfection of her temperament,—too delicately complex
to support without damage a clumsy initiation.
Intelligent as she was,—capable of understanding a merely hinted
allusion, and though she was voluntarily ignorant of certain physical
sides of love, this was clearly no reason why they should be grossly
revealed to her by a drunken Helot, incapable of curbing his instincts..,
And to think that I, myself, had been that ruttish being,—an object of
terror and disgust in the eyes of the woman he loved! Face to face with
this lamentable check to my dreams, I remained, now, in a state of
bewilderment.
* * *
I guessed that the end of the day had come by the shriller chirping of
the birds,—as it were the clamour of quarrelsome children in a huge
dormitory. But for a long time now they had calmed down. Deep
25
obscurity had invaded the corner where we were stranded. It was very
warm. Moistness emanated from Therese's body, and disquieted me.
Gently seizing her hand, I removed it from the neighbourhood of the
secret re-awakening of my desire. Raising herself up, she felt for my
face and lightly touched my lips with a fugitive kiss. Then, in a voice
she wished to be mirthsome, but which still trembled a little, she said:
"What a terrible dungeon! You must have mistaken the house, darling.
This is surely the mansion of Gilles de Retz himself. He must be spying
upon us from over there, in the darkness,—with his horrid blue beard!"
Simulating fear, she pressed herself against me. Then, without
transition, she continued:
"Did you think me stupid a short time ago?"
"My beloved!—let us say not a word more on the subject. Imagine that
you were sleeping and had a bad nightmare. But you are no longer
frightened now, are you, little one? Whatever has happened, you see
full well that I obey you. Pardon me,—I implore you."
"Yes, you were indeed very naughty. You were the horrid Bluebeard.
But I love you too deeply to bear you much of a grudge."
"You will pardon me entirely later,—when you understand better.
Think, dearie, of the many, many months, out there, I have been
thinking of you,—thinking of nothing save you. Desire for a woman
one loves to distraction is like the gradual suffocation of a drowning
man; he clutches savagely at the person who has come to deliver him
from that anguish, without a thought of the harm he may do... and spoil
everything."
"You love me so madly as that, darling?"
26
"I do indeed. At times I become dizzy, as in a great fit of madness. But
you have no longer any need to fear: I regret my brutality too bitterly
to be ready to recommence. And now we are going to dine and think of
something else."
* * *
For a time—and colliding with piece after piece of furniture—we
groped about in the dark ness, seeking for a switch. When, with a cruel
shock the light was turned on, dazzling us, we were astonished to
behold how discomposed our features were.
I led Therese to the first floor and showed her her room. All that I saw
there was the bed,— a very low and extensive bed, as broad as it was
long. It emerged from a mass of white furs cast on the floor. I repressed a
flood of distracting ideas.
"Is this where both of us are going to sleep?" asked Therese, without
daring to look me in the face.
"No, No!... This is Madam's bed-chamber. I... until fresh orders... shall
sleep in the adjoining room."
Whereupon I opened the communicating door.
"It's most comfortable, as you can see. And I've also got a bath-room, all
to myself."
Therese gave me a long and affectionate, yet somewhat sad look.
"Listen..." she murmured. Then was silent and gave a little sigh.
It appeared to me that it was charitable to divert the conversation.
"I shall listen no longer to anything, dear Madam. Are you aware that
it is nearly ten o'clock? We'll titivate ourselves up a bit and then go
27
down to dinner. I'm as hungry as a hunter and could positively devour
you."
"At your service, my dear sir."
"Get along with you, Temptress!"
I fled from temptation with a haste which made her laugh. But
through the closed door her voice still pursued me:
"You're a perfect darling!"
28
CHAPTER IV
The first to arrive in the dining-room, I set out our provisions on the
table: a cold yet most respectable supper, which I had brought with us
from Paris. Champagne, too,—iced to perfection in her Thermos-flask.
Red carnations were standing dormant in a vase, and these I scattered
over the table-cloth, where their colour suddenly appeared to become
brighter. Then, awaiting the somewhat tardy Therese, I sat down. I felt
slightly scatter-brained, yet profoundly calm,—nay, rather
humiliated by the complete torpor of my feelings.
Therese made a brilliant arrival. With her blonde tresses coiled around
her head, she had formed a sort of diadem, suggestive of some exotic
Grand Duchess or other. She was truly most beautiful in her
immaculately white, low-cut gown. Moreover, I recognized it to be the
one she had worn on the day of our betrothal. Was this intentional?
Did she wish to suggest to me the chaste thoughts of a still timid
fiancé? I hardly appreciated this call to order; but at my wife's first
words I began to repent for the baseness of my suspicions.
"Do you remember, darling, how much you liked this dress? It was on
the day of your arrival; at long last you returned to me from that
distant East, and to me it was, as it were, a true wedding-day. I wanted
to put it on again today, so that you may love me as much as you did on
your return."
I thanked Therese with a look of admiration; but my silence made her
uneasy.
"Is my darling very very sad? He doesn't even kiss his little wife, to
congratulate her?"
But my desire was again awakened by the brilliant nudity of her
throat and shoulders, and, still in fear of my dangerous reflexes of the
afternoon, I dare not kiss her.
"Not immediately, darling. Let me get used to seeing you like this."
29
"But you saw me like this already—a fortnight ago.
"With other eyes."
"Do you love me less already?"
"It's naughty of you to put it that way! Seriously, darling, if sometimes I
appear strange to you and difficult to understand, just tell yourself
that I love you too deeply and that... that I shall suffer so long as you
are not absolutely my wife."
Therese sat down to table without replying. She began to put on the
airs of an affected Marchioness and sought to make me laugh. But I
could not for the life of me succeed in reaching her pitch and the
irritation I felt against myself increased my uneasiness. Was I going to
oscillate incessantly between brutality and sullenness? Therese's
roguishness rang false and clashed with my silence; and soon, like an
amateur conjurer who is intimidated by an indifferent audience, she
became discouraged. Bringing her little game to an end, she gazed
earnestly at me.
"Listen, my dear, I should like to say something to you. Only you must
promise not to take advantage of it."
With a movement of my head, I acquiesced.
"You promise?... Well, I want to confess to you that... I feel not the
slightest regret for what happened—not a single action on your part
—a short time ago. Since then you have shown exquisite delicacy
towards me. However, I believe I should have appreciated it less if I
had not seen you so... well as you were at the time of our coming here.
And later, when I understand everything better, it seems to me that I
shall cherish that recollection,—that I shall love to picture you, once
more, so crazy, so fantastically crazy on the occasion of our very first
moment of solitude."
30
"Yes, later. But for the time being I should prefer that you think of it no
more."
"Oh! no. On the contrary, I want to let my mind dwell on it, in order the
better to feel that I love you."
She reflected and then, as though speaking to herself, continued:
"...in order the better to feel that I love you ever so much more, already,
than before our arrival here."
Her final words were uttered in a low voice, as though her instinct gave
consent, but with the disapprobation of her mind. However, this very
conflict made her confession more precious to me. In the midst of the
trial I had imposed on myself, so that my wife, with her whole soul and
flesh, would accept the fleshly rites, it seemed to me that already her
body was conniving with my feelings. I had promised not to take
advantage of her confession; but, indifferent to this promise, and as
though it were a being foreign to myself, my sex began to stiffen at the
thought of the possibility of immediate possession. Was there not the
assurance of pardon in advance?—had it not been even suggested?
Momentarily I closed my eyes, so as to relish to the full the image
evoked by my desire,—the intimate contact of my imprisoned flesh
within her conquered garden.
When, again, I looked in her direction, Therese smiled at me,—a most
tender smile. However, as though she had suspected my mental
treason, her eyes became veiled with a certain sadness. Then, from the
bottom of my heart there welled a silent feeling of humility, a mute
protest of loyalty. I had said "no" to my intractable desire, and I was
sure of being able to dominate it, because I realized that Therese was so
weak, so ready for all forms of indulgence. It was no longer against
myself alone, it was against our joint instincts—already
accomplices—I had now to struggle. But, stronger through all the
hope springing through that complicity, I felt sure of being able to
bridle their blind impatience,— until the time came when, in the full
31
consciousness of her desire, my wife would give herself to me
voluntarily.
Therese's confession—dispelling the restraint which weighed upon
us—now inspired a paean of victory in my heart. Joy at regaining
confidence in myself,—joy at the thought of a future which had again
become luminous! Therese read that joy in my eyes. Seizing one of the
crimson carnations and kissing it, she exclaimed "Ready!" and cast the
bloom in my face. Our dinner concluded amidst an atmosphere of
gaiety which, but a short time before, had certainly never been my
hope.
* * *
With a thousand burlesque ceremonies, Therese led me to an armchair
and made me sit down, while she occupied herself with clearing
away. All she had to do, however, was to place the remains of our little
dinner in a turning-box (like that in convents), whence they could be
removed from the outside, without disturbing our solitude. For the
master of the house had seen to all intimate refinements; and we might
have wandered about stark naked from cellar to garret without fear of
any indiscreet surprise.
Momentarily I imagined myself in that condition, without, however,
the slightest libidinous idea: above all I evoked the well-being of a
state of nudity on such an exceedingly hot evening as that was. But I
kept that innocent little dream to myself. My wife is not fond of that
kind of humour and never will be. After many months of marriage,
during which we have practiced every form of voluptuousness and
obeyed every suggestion of an unfettered imagination, she would still
take offence at a risky joke or vulgar gesture. The passionate priestess
of our fleshly delights, and capable of overcoming all sense of shame
amidst the intoxication of the senses, she would never, on the other
hand, sanction either those sacrilegious pleasantries or needless
indecencies which profane love without enriching sensual pleasure.
32
While clearing the table, Therese resumed her pranks. This time she
was no longer the Marchioness of the top of a sweet-meat box but a
smart little maid who scamped her household duties in order to join
her lover as quickly as possible. Then she tripped towards me and, after
claiming a kiss for her mimicry, sat down on my knees. Under the warm
pressure of her thighs and owing to the thinness of our clothing, my sex
began to swell with desire; and in response to its dull pulsations came
the accelerated throbbing of my temples. With my left arm bent, I
made a support for Therese, while with my free hand I pressed her legs
against me, so as to prevent this hand, against my will, from fondling
her breasts, which were so tantalizingly accessible beneath her lowcut
dress.
Therese brought her lips to my mouth and kissed me most passionately.
I responded by advancing my tongue. For a moment her lips resisted
and even drew back a little; but suddenly they half-opened, in a sort of
ardent aspiration, as though they were drinking at an unknown spring.
And while with my tongue I slowly, lightly caressed those offered lips,
Therese remained in a state of complete immobility, hardly breathing,
and with her voluptuous attention at full stretch. Meanwhile, similar to
those ground-swells which suddenly disturb the apparent calmness of
the sea, a great shiver ran through her body and set her trembling
when, on separating her lips, my caress became more active and
persistent. Then, again, Therese surrendered herself, almost in a swoon,
as though all the life in her were taking refuge in the acceptation of an
unsuspected pleasure.
When, much later, I interrupted this caress, her own tongue, in its turn,
advanced, slowly following the outline of my lips,—moistening and
penetrating them. And soon, on this arranged double theme, we
played a thousand alternated variations. Our lips set traps for us,
momentarily refusing the offered tongue, so as to seize it afterwards,
imprison it, and rob it of all its saliva. A clock struck the hours; but I was
incapable of counting them. However, what did that matter to me?
Time had become, as it were, an inconsistent fog... Then, once more, a
33
tremor passed through my beloved; she opened her eyes and, gently
repulsing me, murmured:
"My darling, I can't stand it any longer: your little wife is positively
shattered."
To guard her mouth from my caresses, she leaned against my neck, but
her tongue continued to bestow light and furtive kisses upon me. On
raising her head, she seemed appeased and smiled at me.
"I should have liked to surrender myself to your tenderness eternally;
but, really, I believe I should have ended by fainting. It was as though
there were a dissociation of my whole body. You cannot know into
what a state you threw me."
Alas! I knew that full well. I was well aware of that anguish of instinct,
of her instinct more conscious than she was of our desire. But it was still
too soon. I remained silent.
"My darling is not annoyed,—is he? He is my all-powerful Lord and I
should like—oh! I should like so intensely to be wholly his slave. Yet,
in spite of myself..."
Apparently embarrassed by my look, she drew my head nearer to her
and rested her cheek against my eyes.
"Yes, despite myself, I remain somewhat timid."
"Have I been clumsy again? Are you annoyed with me?"
"Oh! no. On the contrary, I am deliciously surprised. Even a little
astonished that such dizziness—so sweet, so ineffably sweet—can be
bought without pain. But I know that, sooner or later, you will hurt
me,—that you must hurt me."
"People have been frightening you needlessly, darling."
34
"I'm not frightened on my own account. When I'm in the state into
which you threw me just now, you could indeed do anything you like
with me. But I am anxious on account of our love. I fear the moment
when the infinitely tender and delicate being you are to-night must
appear to me more violent and... how can I express it?"
"Say what you have got to say, without fear."
"Rather bestial perhaps. But understand me clearly. I confessed it to
you to-night; and I would pardon you for anything now. Only, I would
first of all be saturated with your tenderness, up to the point of no
longer having even to pardon you,—up to the point of accepting
everything without a feeling of revolt, since I should have lost all willpower
under your caresses."
For a time we remained silent. Then she continued:
"You must find me stupidly complicated, my poor dearie. Maybe I was
wrong in remaining voluntarily ignorant of too many things. But I
attached such great importance to this great mystery: so ardently did I
desire never to approach it until I was in a state of grace."
"I attach an equal importance to it, darling. Nay, a more self-conscious
importance, though from a different point of view. Later I will tell you
how ardently—over there, in my distant place of exile—I desired your
body. But I also loved the profoundness of your soul, your intelligence
and seriousness, because they seemed to me to be the pledge of a
richer love, because... It's difficult to explain to you,—and I fear to give
offence to your sense of delicacy."
"Oh! no, speak on. Am I not your wife?— your loving wife? What do
you want to say to me?"
"That, in advance, your very intelligence, your mystic soul brought me
a promise of pleasurable sensations—of fleshly voluptuousness. I read
therein the certainty of a more ardent intimacy of our flesh, because it
35
would be nourished by all the resources of your soul as well as by your
bodily instincts. Nevertheless I misunderstood you."
"You?"
"I was incapable of seeing that all this perfection I love in you is a
delicate plant. I failed to understand with what warm and patient
tenderness it must be surrounded to bring it to florescence,—to make it
bloom with the intense passion of which I knew you were capable. To
open my eyes another person was necessary,— and I will tell you more
on that score. On the other hand, since then I have reflected and taken
an oath... But, after the unspeakable incident of this afternoon, you will
not believe me."
"Come now, darling, let me say once more that I love you all the more
on that account. Moreover, you know quite well what absolute faith I
have in your loyalty, although it may momentarily break down under
the stress of that madness... That state of madness which is not
yourself,—and which some day, perhaps, will be what I love most in
you."
"The oath I have taken—and I believe, despite everything, that I shall
have the strength to keep it—is to wait until the moment when, with
your entire consent—knowingly, you will surrender yourself. And now
I wish you no longer to have the slightest fear, neither for yourself nor
for our love, knowing that on you alone depends the hour for our
complete union".
36
CHAPTER V
Once more she let her head fall on to my shoulder and repeated: "I
love you... I love you." Then, seizing my hand, which was resting on her
knees, she raised it gently, with a sliding movement, in contact with
her dress, and brought it to rest against her bosom. Under the material,
which moulded her form to perfection, I could feel the perfect
rotundity of one of her breasts. Two of my fingers were resting on her
bare throat, at the very opening of her bodice. Had I understood my
wife's action? Was it a mere reflex of her tenderness,—or a conscious
appeal for more intimate caresses? I dare not come to any conclusion,
through the fear that I might too easily give way to the suddenly hot
feeling which rose to my brain from my stiffening sex. Meanwhile
Therese curved-in the small of her back; her bosom was raised towards
me, completing her tender movement until it became an unmistakable
offering. It was then, with a slightly trembling hand, that I drew down
her dress.
Admirable in its purity, the budding curve of a breast came into view. I
was filled with astonishment on discovering such immaculate
whiteness,—a whiteness all the more disturbing through its contrast
with her throat and arms, tanned by the sun. Very slowly—despite an
impatience which I had a difficulty in restraining —the dress slid
down until a tinted aureole proclaimed the appearance of a nipple.
Compressed by the descending dress, it looked, at first, as though it
wanted to hide itself; but, suddenly, out it slipped, in all its rosy
firmness,— quite small, yet oh how alluring! I gazed intensely on this
morsel of delicate flesh, which seemed the quintessence of Therese's
femininity; and my voluptuous sensations still further increased at the
idea that this nipple—so fleshly, so full of living animality—belonged
to an intelligent and pure being.
However, wholly absorbed in contemplation, I remained motionless,
and my hand forgot to draw her dress still further down. Therese raised
her head, blinked under the dazzling light, and glanced at her seminude
breast. She herself appeared to be astonished at its whiteness.
37
Then, suddenly, she hid it with her hands and, in a little childish voice,
roguish and supplicatory at one and the same time, exclaimed:
"I'm almost ashamed, darling. For the light, here, is so crude."
Without responding a single word, I took her in my arms and carried
her into the adjoining room.
* * *
This room—a rococo drawing-room of doubtful taste, yet comfortable
withal— was illuminated merely by a low lamp, the blue shade of
which allowed but little light to filter through. Having placed Therese
in an ample easy-chair, I knelt down on the carpet at her side. I was in
an uncertain state of mind and somewhat exasperated. Was I to come
into continual conflict with that easily shocked modesty of hers?... But
without more ado, my wife slipped down the shoulder-straps of her
dress; and then, with a pretty, supple movement, she pulled it down
altogether, denuding herself entirely, down to her waist. She had
closed her eyes and, with her head against the back of the chair, was
extending her breasts towards me.
In the domain of pure aesthetics, even in the case of a cool-headed
observer whose desire is uninfluenced by a too-partial admiration, I
know nothing more harmoniously beautiful than a woman's torso. A
miracle of Nature,—all the more touching as it is most rare, as it is a
unique marvel among so many ill-formed shapes. As my eyes became
used to the semi-darkness of the room, that torso appeared to me to
stand out in relief still more, strengthening the purity of its lines. A
delicate and disturbing geometry, whose curves could not fail to
identify themselves with a never-ending voluptuousness; but their
exact symmetry seemed to be a concession made to the exigencies of
reason. Placed high up, yet without exaggeration, Therese's breasts
were most firm in their fullness; no unsightly fold broke the
harmonious line which attached them to her body. Perhaps they were
just a little less ample than they ought to have been, according to strict
38
canonical rules; but they appeared all the more youthful and
attractive on that account.
With a sigh, Therese stretched herself,— doubtless impatient with me
because of my long contemplation, which deprived her of caresses.
Those twin points of rosy flesh—her nipples— were erect, clamouring
their hallucinatory appeal; and my hands—timorous up to then—
responded to that appeal. On my fingers coming into contact with her
skin, Therese quivered; a vibration which was prolonged in a
succession of warm undulations to my loins, and which exasperated my
sex to the point of an almost painful tension. Then the rhythm of my
caresses was quickened.
At one time, placing both my hands against my wife's naked waist, I
brought them slowly upward. They glided with an equal pressure over
her bosom, which momentarily gave way and then regained the
perfection of her contour. At another, seizing her here and there, I
amused myself with alternately squeezing and parting her breasts; and
the hollow between them formed, according to my fancy, either a
narrow and exciting fold of flesh, or a broader, more chaste valley. At
the same time I let my hands stray ever so lightly, so that they hardly
touched the imperceptible down on her epidermis; but when they
traversed the twin summits of her bosom they encountered those little
points of rebellious flesh,—and their emotion was such that it rippled
throughout the whole of her body. Or else, multiplying my fingers so as
to produce a thousand rapid contacts, I teased her breasts; then, seizing
a rosy nipple between finger and thumb, I pressed it most tenderly, as I
would have done a tiny berry whose juice I wished to express, but all
the time fearing to injure it. And then, under the increased impatience
of my caresses, those breasts of my beloved stiffened, as though still
more eager for voluptuousness.
In a low voice, there came from her the words: "Kiss me, my darling."
39
Submissive to her demand, I passed my two arms around her naked
waist and approached my lips towards hers. But she withdrew her
mouth.
"No, darling," she whispered, "not that way."
Fearing to give way to my own desire, I still hesitated to understand
her. Whereupon, with an imperious and almost violent movement, she
seized me by the neck. She lowered my head towards her bosom, while
her other hand, thrusting forward one of her bubbies, drew it towards
my mouth. Under my now close breath, her bosom became still more
arched. However, instead of snatching at the beautiful fruit presented
to my lips, it was only the point which I caressed with the tip of my
tongue. Therese uttered a cry of surprise which at first made me draw
back. But she continued to murmur — "Again! Again!" These words let
loose on her bosom a perfect avalanche of caresses: multitudinous
caresses with tongue and lips, more varied and more intoxicating than
any bestowed by the hands.
I was kneeling on the right-hand side of my wife, and suddenly
became aware that my position was inconvenient. She was indeed too
lateral to enable me to dose, in exactly equal parts, the contribution of
my tenderness towards her breasts. Was that strict division really so
essential?—or was this merely a pretext suggested by my desire?...
However that might be, I rose and knelt down facing Therese, between
her knees, which I had parted. Then I continued the interrupted
feast,—tickling, alternately, the twin rose-buds with my lips, or taking
them into my mouth to suck them. Or else, using my tongue in long
sweeps, the moist tracks of which crossed and intercrossed, I licked the
whole of her bosom greedily. Nay, sometimes I sought to take almost
the whole of one of her bubbies into my mouth, to suck it in voraciously
until Therese pushed me away, with the exclamation— "You are
hurting me, my darling giddy goat."
Under the pressure of my hips, her legs had unconsciously parted. Her
dress, becoming gradually rucked up, disclosed first of all a silk-
40
sheathed knee, then, suddenly, above the stocking, a snow-white
thigh. I closed my eyes so as to blot out this unexpected temptation.
Meanwhile, a remark she had made to me during dinner came back to
me. I had expressed a fear that her gown, made of silver lame, must be
very heavy for her to wear on such a warm evening, whereupon
Therese had replied,—"But I've nothing else,—absolutely nothing
else underneath." This reply now set my imagination in a blaze; it took
a delight in picturing, under her dress, the nudity of her thighs as far as
the altar of love,—that warm spot which was so near and which,
through the parting of her legs, must now be half-open. I was seized
with dizziness. Under the material which imprisoned and caused it to
adhere to my flesh, my sex became in such a state of erection that I was
positively in anguish, and in order to relieve the pain I was forced to
unbutton my trousers and release the Phallus until it was wholly nude.
With her head thrown back and her body thrilled by the thousand
caresses from my lips and tongue, my wife was unable to suspect what I
had done. I strove to keep within bounds the convulsive movements
made by my liberated member, for fear it came into contact, under her
dress, with her naked thighs, and thus arouse her attention. Already
my thoughts were concentrated with an anxious and voluptuous
feeling, on the inevitable consequences of my imprudence. I realized
those consequences most clearly; I accepted them, without pity for my
wife's too-confident abandonment, without a scruple on account of
promises made. I was conscious of my bad faith; I measured the
shameful contrast between the tenderness with which I was
intoxicating Therese, in order the better to disarm her suspicion, and
the cruel laceration amidst which I should satisfy my desire. I imagined
a sorrowful cry and a look of painful astonishment. But I had waited
too long,—I was at the end of my powers of resistance, and, cowardly, I
discounted the pardon promised in advance.
The throbbing of my temples increased and bewildered me, driving
every thought from my brain. All that remained was a crimson vision
of moist, defenceless flesh, and the pulsations of my sex extended
41
towards that flesh. I raised myself with an instinctive movement, which
brought my lips up to Therese's mouth,—a movement above all
prompted by a wish to place my sex on an exact level with her own.
With my two arms still around her naked waist, I drew my wife slowly
towards me; and already I could feel my flesh, thrilling with lustful
desire, gently touching the blond moss surrounding the coveted fleshly
nook. Then, becoming wildly impatient, I seized hold of her dress to
turn it up completely. Therese was startled and advanced her hand to
restrain me,—then she renounced, with the words:
"Darling, my own darling. I am yours... But remember your promise."
The resigned sweetness of her voice, much more than her very words,
dragged me from the enchantment of my desire. Amidst a flash of
dizziness, as though after a fall, I regained consciousness of my actions.
For a few moments longer I remained leaning over Therese, with my
mouth against hers, for I wanted to immobilize her head against the
back of the chair and so prevent her seeing me while I remedied the
indecency of my attire.
But the trivial vulgarity of this action emphasized the grotesqueness of
my situation. I was annoyed with myself through this abdication of my
virility,—a stupid abdication in the presence of a little girl who
foolishly refused to let me have her, when I had a perfect legal right to
do so. Above all was I angry with Therese herself for having once more
baulked my desire. When she raised her head and looked into my
eyes, she was astonished to find them so full of hostility. She smiled at
me sadly. Then her glance descended to her bare bosom, to her legs
which I kept apart, and to her raised dress, disclosing her thigh. Yet she
made no attempt to veil her nudity, and, instead of pushing me away
she drew me towards her, burying my face in the valley between her
bubbies and pressing me to them passionately. A sob rose in my
throat,— a sob of vexation and remorse and also tenderness. But the
tears appeased me,—they steadied my nerves; and I abandoned
myself to the infantile sweetness of letting myself be consoled.
42
I myself drew down her dress, after furtively kissing the nude, moist
thigh; I myself veiled, with amorous precautions, my beloved's
beautiful breasts, so that no harm could come to their fragile, rosy
nipples. Then, closely pressed one against the other, we ascended to our
rooms. The open window on the landing was already glowing with a
phosphorescence which heralded in the approaching end of night.
Therese was leaning on my shoulder and whispered in my ear:
"You have been infinitely tender and deliciously indulgent, my
darling. But I implore you not to be disappointed over this first night of
our marriage. To me it has been so full of love,—infinitely more
beautiful, richer in voluptuousness than all my dreams. Don't you see
how I am still all a-tremble through your caresses?—and how madly
in love I am with you? I don't know how to tell you all this. But it is with
the whole gift of my body that I would thank you."
On the threshold of her room our lips were again united, and then I
took refuge in my own bed-chamber.
43
CHAPTER VI
Therese was standing before me in a state of complete nudity, and
laughing so uproariously that her breasts danced up and down. Her
very haunches joined in the rhythm. Moreover, her mocking laughter
was directed against her husband, for my sole article of clothing was a
shirt so short that it barely reached my navel. But her hilarity was
above all incited by the pitiable appearance of my virility, which had
shrivelled up to a condition of total impotency. She ended, however, by
taking pity on me and awakening my sex by a few caresses, after
which she threw herself on the bed and began to go through a series of
frolics of the most disturbing obscenity. Maddened with lust in my turn,
I threw myself upon her, whereupon she slipped away, dashed towards
the window, and jumped into space!
A cry escaped from my lips and brought this erotic nightmare to a
sudden end. I awoke, covered with perspiration and my sex in a state of
erection. Though still heavy with sleep, I resisted the desire to snuggle
down under the bed-clothes again. Better get up immediately: a
modicum of fatigue would, I decided, certainly do me good.
I had, at first, some difficulty in re-arranging and re-valuing my
recollections of the preceding evening. Was it possible that my
marriage dated only since yesterday? But soon a dominating,
luminous idea came uppermost: the certainty that out of our union I
could produce a masterpiece of intellectual and fleshly harmony. I
repeated my oath. And though, on two occasions already, I had
experienced its fragility, on the other hand, that morning I felt more
sure of myself. Measuring the splendour of the goal to be reached, I
accepted the trial cheerfully.
For a few seconds I listened behind the door. My wife was still asleep. I
waved a kiss to her with my hand and then went to dress myself.
On re-entering my room, my toilet completed, Therese heard me, and
began to talk through the partition.
44
"Good-morning, darling. What time can it be?"
"Nine o'clock. But have another snooze. It was so late when we went to
bed."
"No, I want to see you. Come and give me a kiss."
"You think that that is a very obvious thing to do?"
"Clearly, you old and neglectful hubby."
"But the door's locked."
"Liar!—you know very well it isn't."
So I went in and knelt down by the side of the low bed.
I was astonished to find my wife more divinely beautiful than I had
pictured her in my mind. Her blond hair, which she had never
consented to have cut, lay like a stream of liquid gold on the bedclothes,
while the changeful blue of her eyes, that morning, had turned
to a deep azure. She was wearing a most chaste night-gown: too chaste
to my taste, since it barely left one shoulder and a slight portion of one
of her breasts visible.
I gave her a long, long kiss. But when my lips strayed down towards her
bosom, which my hand had already reached, she stopped me, with a
caressing movement.
"Listen, darling. You must be reasonable this morning. Last night you
made me quite crazy,—and my breasts still hurt me a little."
Then, as she concluded, she began to laugh:
"I know a gentleman who is certainly borne down with remorse, and
very much disinclined to start again."
45
On my looking sulky and knitting my eyebrows, she added:
"You don't want to be reasonable? We can profit by the still fresh
morning hours to sit in the garden. And this afternoon, when it gets too
hot outside, we can take refuge there. You will then find me... as I am
now, if you like."
"And you'll try to be pardoned for your naughtiness."
"Yes, bad and exacting man that you are! But on the condition that you
go away immediately."
"Why?"
"To let me have my bath and dress myself."
"Upon my word, if that's the reason, I'd rather remain here."
She gave me a little tap on my lips, and then said, smilingly:
"Promise that you'll go away at once, and you shall have a reward."
Without waiting for my promise she uncovered her breasts, one after
the other, and presented them to my lips.
* * *
Under the dense foliage of the linden-tree arbour, we spent, as
foreseen, a most "reasonable" yet charming morning. Therese was a
veritable chatter-box, sparkling with wit; and, on several occasions,
she spouted long classical passages, or verses by Ronsard, as proud as
Punch at being able to show that she knew much more than I did on
that score. She appeared to have completely forgotten the look of care
which, on the previous night, had sometimes veiled her eyes. When I
questioned her on that subject, asking her if she were no longer
frightened of her husband, she replied, half-playfully, half-pensively:
46
"I had no fear on my own account, you know; I was disquieted on
account of your love. But I have slept on it, and from to-day onwards it
is on you I rely, on your wisdom... or on your folly."
"You have seen, however, that my folly can be obedient to you
immediately?"
"Yes. But shall I still have the strength to will that you obey me? At
certain moments certainly no longer."
After a short silence, burdened with our combined thoughts, she
concluded:
"But you who can perceive better than I do. Think of our love: protect it
against the blindness of our desire."
* * *
We had luncheon outside. The somewhat ordinary restaurant was, on
the other hand, agreeably cool, and so we decided, at first, to dawdle
there awhile. But soon a feeling of uneasiness crept over us. Without
daring to admit the fact to ourselves, all our thoughts were
concentrated on the privacy of our house,—and on the feast of the
senses which was to be resumed there. We hurried over the end of our
meal and by the beginning of the afternoon were back again.
I advised Therese, in order to make up for her too short night's rest, to
get right into bed; and I promised to let her sleep. But she insisted on
my remaining with her and, holding me by the hand, led me towards
her room. She made me sit down on the edge of the bed, moved towards
the bath-room, came back to make me swear that I would not run
away, and then disappeared for a short time.
When she returned she had the air of a child, in a long and barely
décolleté chemise; and this illusion was completed by two thick plaits
of hair the shadow of which attenuated the outline of her breasts. I
47
held my arms open to receive her, but she escaped from me and
quickly slipped under the sheet, laughing at its momentary freshness.
On the other hand, the room was very warm, the shutters having
inadvertently been left open. I ought to have had a care for Therese's
repose. Only, a secret joy ascended from my loins. Under the thin sheet,
covering my wife, my eyes began to follow with amusement the lines of
her body.
"You feel sleepy, dearie?"
"Yes, sir, with the direct intention of enraging you. But I know quite
well you won't let me sleep and... I'll do my best not to be too angry with
you.'
The invitation was easy to accept and I was glad that, of her own free
will, Therese had thought of continuing our caresses, which had been
interrupted that morning too soon. Having thrown back the sheet
down to her waist, she had stretched herself out, with closed eyes,
shivering a little as my hand came into contact with her bosom. But
after a few caresses I began to protest against that night-gown, which
was not sufficiently open to enable me to uncover her bosom
completely.
"Take it off, darling."
"But I shall be stark naked in bed if I do. And then who's going to be
naughty?"
"You are, if you are too severe."
She uttered a little affected cry, to which her laughing eyes gave the
lie direct; and, having obliged me to turn my back, she unrobed as
quick as lightning, after which she hid herself in the bed, with the
sheet pulled up to her chin. I could—with a mere snatch—have
removed that sheet and feasted my eyes on the complete nakedness of
48
her lissom body; but I loved better once more to discover my beautiful,
voluptuous kingdom progressively.
Slipping down very slowly, the sheet gradually denuded her breasts
and liberated their vermilion nipples; then it descended below her
waist, revealing the diaphanous, snowy whiteness of a very flat
stomach; and already my eyes were ablaze on perceiving, at the base
of her tummy, the edge of blond and silky curls, like spun-gold.
But there, voluntarily, I brought my incursion to an end. Only too well
did I know that, if I went further, no consideration would prevent me
from parting Therese's legs—even by force— so as to conquer the
intimacy of her flesh. However, I decided that I had better not, by an
act of premature brutality, scare away her total relinquishment to my
caprices.
On her naked breast—the splendour of which dazed me—I repeated
my caresses of the preceding night: manual manipulations,
multifarious digital contacts, little teasing touches with my tongue,
and also from my lips a whole succession of suctions. These caresses of
mine—enriched by a second conquest—were extended to her
tremulous stomach; and thus, in the hollow of the navel there glistened,
like a miniature lake, a modicum of my saliva. Therese let me do
exactly as I wanted, with her arms motionless and apparently wholly
indifferent; but when my tongue, gliding on her stomach, slowly
ascended towards her breasts, I observed that they swelled with
voluptuous expectancy, that her respiration became quicker, and that
the nipples stiffened and grew.
I was squatting by the side of the low bed, with one arm, above Therese,
resting upon it. And this arm, left bare in its sports' shirt with very short
sleeves, happened to graze her lips. So, slightly raising herself, she
placed her mouth in the hollow of my arm-pit and entered on a
prolonged respiration, at the close of which she proceeded to lick,
moistening me with her saliva abundantly. However, my shirt was in
her way, so, in an impatient, excited voice, she bid me remove it. In my
49
haste to obey her, I rose from my semi-recumbent position. Therese
glided to the edge of the bed and, turning towards me, directed her
eyes eagerly to my tummy, which the raised shirt was gradually
uncovering. A wild temptation took possession of me,—to outstrip her
thought and lower what remained of my clothing, and then, suddenly,
to bring my entirely liberated sex before her face. However, though
this imagined gesture still further increased my lust, its very indecency
made me hesitate and desist. I realized the dangerous imprudence of so
brutally obscene a revelation.
There was the risk of alienating for ever the woman whom I wished to
make the adorer—a most tenderly sensual one— of my "manly
blade".
Moreover, my wife did not allow me time to reflect further.
Immediately my torso was bare she enclosed me within her naked
arms and forced me to stretch myself at her side. And then, with lips
and tongue, she began to design upon me a thousand interlaced
arabesques. Afterwards, with the supple crawling movement of a
young wild animal, she came nearer until her breasts and nipples were
resting on my stomach,—and with the latter, whose fine flesh seemed
slightly fresher than the rest of her skin, she amused herself by gently
grazing my body. At times she brought her nipples on to a level with
my mouth and momentarily stopped until I had tasted their fresh
savour; while at others she descended to my navel and hid the little
vermilion fruit there, until—untiringly recommencing her little
game—she once more brought them up again to my lips.
But while, lying on her stomach across the bed, she was crawling
towards me, her buttocks slipped from underneath the sheet and
within immediate reach of one of my hands. She was still only partially
nude, yet quite sufficient to reveal the entire harmonious curve of her
hips, up to the very beginning of a narrow valley. Soon I pushed down
the sheet, whereupon the double outline was wholly uncovered, in its
abundant yet slender plenitude. Was Therese going to protest against
the indiscretion of this action? For a few seconds I thought she would,
50
because there was, at first, a contraction of her hips, ready to refuse
themselves; but she immediately relaxed and revealed her nudity to
my scrutiny. I did not wish, however, to take advantage of my victory.
Restraining the desire to seize hold of my voluptuous discovery, I
confined myself to a greedy visual examination of the perfection of her
curves and their mysterious shadow-line.
Wearied, at last, with having caressed me too much, Therese let her
head recline on my tummy. Hers was the movement of a broken doll,
but a somewhat crazy doll, who instinctively extended her hips
towards me. So, slightly raising myself, in order to reach the coveted
riches with both my hands, I began to stroke them with my fingers very
gently. The same reflex action as a short time before followed: the
contraction provoked by a modesty which would still resist, and then
the relaxation of a body which, curious of new forms of voluptuousness,
consented. My hands, becoming still more enterprising, were now busy
kneading the soft plenitude of both her thighs.
First of all, I followed her haunches longitudinally. Starting with the
curve of her loins, my hands scaled the double hillock and redescended
towards the dimples which mark the beginning of the
thighs. And often, on arriving there, an indiscreet finger brushed
against a silky, moss-like bank, in close proximity to the warm centre
of love. But, fearful of my own impatience, I took immediate flight from
that disturbing contact, and returned towards the centre of the loins,
where I recommenced my amorous to and fro movements immediately.
At other times, it was from left to right, or from right to left that my
caresses progressed, enclosing and then relaxing the twin globes of her
flesh. Flesh at one and the same time plastic and firm, and of a texture
which was infinitely soft to the touch; flesh more cool on the summits,
but moist and warm where the shadow-lines lay; flesh that was alive
under my caresses, and which sometimes shrank, so as to protect the
privacy of its secret valley, but which, on the other hand, surrendered
itself, in a confiding and visible voluptuousness, when my hands drew
closer together its equal rotundities. In my ardent love for my wife, her
pleasure under my touches was as delicious to me as though that pleasure had been my own;