* * * * *
A sleepless night; I made countless decisions, only to toss them
aside again. In the morning I wrote her a letter in which I declared
our relationship dissolved. My hand trembled when I put on the seal,
and I burned my fingers.
As I went upstairs to hand it to the maid, my knees threatened to
The door opened, and Wanda thrust forth her head full of curling-papers.
“I haven’t had my hair dressed yet,” she said, smiling. “What have
“Ah, you want to break with me,” she exclaimed, mockingly.
“Didn’t you tell me yesterday that I wasn’t the man for you?”
_”I repeat it now!”_
“Very well, then.” My whole body was trembling, my voice failed me,
and I handed her the letter.
“Keep it,” she said, measuring me coldly. “You forget that is no
longer a question as to whether you satisfy me as a man; as a _slave_
you will doubtless do well enough.”
“Madame!” I exclaimed, aghast.
“That is what you will call me in the future,” replied Wanda,
throwing back her head with a movement of unutterable contempt. “Put
your affairs in order within the next twenty-four hours. The day
after to-morrow I shall start for Italy, and you will accompany me
as my servant.”
“I forbid any sort of familiarity,” she said, cutting my words short,
“likewise you are not to come in unless I call or ring for you, and
you are not to speak to me until you are spoken to. From now on your
name is no longer Severin, but _Gregor_.”
I trembled with rage, and yet, unfortunately, I cannot deny it, I
also felt a strange pleasure and stimulation.
“But, madame, you know my circumstances,” I began in my confusion.
“I am dependent on my father, and I doubt whether he will give me the
large sum of money needed for this journey–”
“That means you have no money, Gregor,” said Wanda, delightedly, “so
much the better, you are then entirely dependent on me, and in fact
“You don’t consider,” I tried to object, “that as man of honor it is
impossible for me–”
“I have indeed considered it,” she replied almost with a tone of
command. “As a man of honor you must keep your oath and redeem your
promise to follow me as slave whithersoever I demand and to obey
whatever I command. Now leave me, Gregor!”
I turned toward the door.
“Not yet–you may first kiss my hand.” She held it out to me with a
certain proud indifference, and I the dilettante, the donkey, the
miserable slave pressed it with intense tenderness against my lips
which were dry and hot with excitement.
There was another gracious nod of the head.
Then I was dismissed.Share It