* * * * *
I thought that at last I knew this woman, understood her, and now I
see I have to begin at the very beginning again. Only a little while
ago her reaction to my dreams was violently hostile, and now she
tries to carry them into execution with the soberest seriousness.
She has drawn up a contract according to which I give my word of
honor and agree under oath to be her slave, as long as she wishes.
With her arm around my neck she reads this, unprecedented,
incredible document to me. The end of each sentence she punctuates
with a kiss.
“But all the obligations in the contract are on my side,” I said,
“Of course,” she replied with great seriousness, “you cease to be my
lover, and consequently I am released from all duties and obligations
towards you. You will have to look upon my favors as pure
benevolence. You no longer have any rights, and no longer can lay
claim to any. There can be no limit to my power over you. Remember,
that you won’t be much better than a dog, or some inanimate object.
You will be mine, my plaything, which I can break to pieces, whenever
I want an hour’s amusement. You are nothing, I am everything. Do you
understand?” She laughed and kissed me again, and yet a sort of cold
shiver ran through me.
“Won’t you allow me a few conditions –” I began.
“Conditions?” She contracted her forehead. “Ah! You are afraid
already, or perhaps you regret, but it is too late now. You have
sworn, I have your word of honor. But let me hear them.”
“First of all I should like to have it included in our contract,
that you will never completely leave me, and then that you will never
give me over to the mercies of any of your admirers–”
“But Severin,” exclaimed Wanda with her voice full of emotion and
with tears in her eyes, “how can you imagine that I–and you, a man
who loves me so absolutely, who puts himself so entirely in my power–”
“No, no!” I said, covering her hands with kisses. “I don’t fear
anything from you that might dishonor me. Forgive me the ugly
Wanda smiled happily, leaned her cheek against mine, and seemed to
“You have forgotten something,” she whispered coquettishly, “the
most important thing!”
“Yes, that I must always wear my furs,” exclaimed Wanda. “But I
promise you I’ll do that anyhow because they give me a despotic
feeling. And I shall be very cruel to you, do you understand?”
“Shall I sign the contract?” I asked.
“Not yet,” said Wanda. “I shall first add your conditions, and the
actual signing won’t occur until the proper time and place.”
“No. I have thought things over. What special value would there be
in owning a slave where everyone owns slaves. What I want is to
_have a slave, I alone,_ here in our civilized sober, Philistine
world, and a slave who submits helplessly to my power solely on
account of my beauty and personality, not because of law, of property
rights, or compulsions. This attracts me. But at any rate we will go
to a country where we are not known and where you can appear before
the world as my servant without embarrassment. Perhaps to Italy, to
Rome or Naples.”