* * * * *
Her friend has left. At last an evening alone with her again. It
seems as if Wanda had saved up all the love, which had been kept from
her, for this superlative evening; never had she been so kind, so
near, so full of tenderness.
What happiness to cling to her lips, and to die away in her arms! In
a state of relaxation and wholly mine, her head rests against my
breast, and with drunken rapture our eyes seek each other.
I cannot yet believe, comprehend, that this woman is mine, wholly
“She is right on one point,” Wanda began, without moving, without
opening her eyes, as if she were asleep.
She remained silent.
She nodded. “Yes, she is right, you are not a man, you are a
dreamer, a charming cavalier, and you certainly would be a priceless
slave, but I cannot imagine you as husband.”
I was frightened.
“What is the matter? You are trembling?”
“I tremble at the thought of how easily I might lose you,” I replied.
“Are you made less happy now, because of this?” she replied. “Does
it rob you of any of your joys, that I have belonged to another
before I did to you, that others after you will possess me, and would
you enjoy less if another were made happy simultaneously with you?”
“You see,” she continued, “that would be a way out. You won’t ever
lose me then. I care deeply for you and intellectually we are
harmonious, and I should like to live with you always, if in addition
to you I might have–”
“What an idea,” I cried. “You fill me with a sort of horror.”
“Do you love me any the less?”
“On the contrary.”
Wanda had raised herself on her left arm. “I believe,” she said,
“that to hold a man permanently, it is vitally important not to be
faithful to him. What honest woman has ever been as devotedly loved
as a hetaira?”
“There is a painful stimulus in the unfaithfulness of a beloved
woman. It is the highest kind of ecstacy.”
“For you, too?” Wanda asked quickly.
“For me, too.”
“And if I should give you that pleasure,” Wanda exclaimed mockingly.
“I shall suffer terrible agonies, but I shall adore you the more,”
I replied. “But you would never deceive me, you would have the daemonic
greatness of saying to me: I shall love no one but you, but I shall
make happy whoever pleases me.”
Wanda shook her head. “I don’t like deception, I am honest, but what
man exists who can support the burden of truth. Were I say to you:
this serene, sensual life, this paganism is my ideal, would you be
strong enough to bear it?”
“Certainly. I could endure anything so as not to lose you. I feel
how little I really mean to you.”
“But it is so,” said I, “and just for that reason–”
“For that reason you would–” she smiled roguishly–“have I guessed
“Be your slave!” I exclaimed. “Be your unrestricted property,
without a will of my own, of which you could dispose as you wished,
and which would therefore never be a burden to you. While you drink
life at its fullness, while surrounded by luxury, you enjoy the
serene happiness and Olympian love, I want to be your servant, put
on and take off your shoes.”
“You really aren’t so far from wrong,” replied Wanda, “for only as
my slave could you endure my loving others. Furthermore the freedom
of enjoyment of the ancient world is unthinkable without slavery. It
must give one a feeling of like unto a god to see a man kneel before
one and tremble. I want a slave, do you hear, Severin?”
“Am I not your slave?”
“Then listen to me,” said Wanda excitedly, seizing my hand. “I want
to be yours, as long as I love you.”
“Perhaps, even two.”
“Then you become my slave.”
“I? Why do you ask? I am a goddess and sometimes I descend from my
Olympian heights to you, softly, very softly, and secretly.
“But what does all this mean,” said Wanda, resting her head in both
hands with her gaze lost in the distance, “a golden fancy which never
can become true.” An uncanny brooding melancholy seemed shed over her
entire being; I have never seen her like that.
“Why unachievable?” I began.
“Because slavery doesn’t exist any longer.”
“Then we will go to a country where it still exists, to the Orient,
to Turkey,” I said eagerly.
“You would–Severin–in all seriousness,” Wanda replied. Her eyes
“Yes, in all seriousness, I want to be your slave,” I continued. “I
want your power over me to be sanctified by law; I want my life to
be in your hands, I want nothing that could protect or save me from
you. Oh, what a voluptuous joy when once I feel myself entirely dependent
upon your absolute will, your whim, at your beck and call. And then
what happiness, when at some time you deign to be gracious, and the
slave may kiss the lips which mean life and death to him.” I knelt
down, and leaned my burning forehead against her knee.
“You are talking as in a fever,” said Wanda agitatedly, “and you
really love me so endlessly.” She held me to her breast, and covered
me with kisses.
“You really want it?”
“I swear to you now by God and my honor, that I shall be your slave,
wherever and whenever you wish it, as soon as you command,” I
exclaimed, hardly master of myself.
“And if I take you at your word?” said Wanda.
“All this appeals to me,” she said then. “It is different from
anything else–to know that a man who worships me, and whom I love
with all my heart, is so wholly mine, dependent on my will and
caprice, my possession and slave, while I–”
She looked strangely at me.
“If I should become frightfully frivolous you are to blame,” she
continued. “It almost seems as if you were afraid of me already, but
you have sworn.”
“And I shall keep my oath.”
“I shall see to that,” she replied. “I am beginning to enjoy it,
and, heaven help me, we won’t stick to fancies now. You shall become
my slave, and I–I shall try to be _Venus in Furs_.”