* * * * *
Though it was late in the evening my light was still lit, and a fire
was burning in the large green stove. There were still many things
among my letters and documents to be put in order. Autumn, as is
usually the case with us, had fallen with all its power.
Suddenly she knocked at my window with the handle of her whip.
I opened and saw her standing outside in her ermine-lined jacket and
in a high round Cossack cap of ermine of the kind which the great
“Are you ready, Gregor?” she asked darkly.
“Not yet, mistress,” I replied.
“I like that word,” she said then, “you are always to call me
mistress, do you understand? We leave here to-morrow morning at nine
o’clock. As far as the district capital you will be my companion and
friend, but from the moment that we enter the railway-coach you are
my slave, my servant. Now close the window, and open the door.”
After I had done as she had demanded, and after she had entered, she
asked, contracting her brows ironically, “well, how do you like me.”
“Who gave you permission?” She gave me a blow with the whip.
“You are very beautiful, mistress.”
Wanda smiled and sat down in the arm-chair. “Kneel down–here beside
“Kiss my hand.”
I seized her small cold hand and kissed it.
“And the mouth–”
In a surge of passion I threw my arms around the beautiful cruel
woman, and covered her face, arms, and breast with glowing kisses.
She returned them with equal fervor–the eyelids closed as in a
dream. It was after midnight when she left.