* * * * *
It is evening. An attractive maid brings me orders to appear before
my mistress. I ascend the wide marble stairs, pass through the
anteroom, a large salon furnished with extravagant magnificence, and
knock at the door of the bedroom. I knock very softly for the luxury
displayed everywhere intimidates me. Consequently no one hears me,
and I stand for some time in front of the door. I have a feeling as
if I were standing before the bed-room of the great Catherine, and
it seems as if at any moment she might come out in her green sleeping
furs, with the red ribbon and decoration on her bare breast, and with
her little white powdered curls.
I knocked again. Wanda impatiently pulls the door open.
“Why so late?” she asks.
“I was standing in front of the door, but you didn’t hear me knock,”
I reply timidly. She closes the door, and clinging to me, she leads
me to the red damask ottoman on which she had been resting. The
entire arrangement of the room is in red damask–wall-paper,
curtains, portieres, hangings of the bed. A magnificent painting of
Samson and Delilah forms the ceiling.
Wanda receives me in an intoxicating dishabille. Her white satin
dress flows gracefully and picturesquely down her slender body,
leaving her arms and breast bare, and carelessly they nestle amid the
dark hair of the great fur of sable, lined with green velvet. Her red
hair falls down her back as far as the hips, only half held by
strings of black pearls.
“Venus in Furs,” I whisper, while she draws me to her breast and
threatens to stifle me with her kisses. Then I no longer speak and
neither do I think; everything is drowned out in an ocean of
“Do you still love me?” she asks, her eye softening in passionate
“You ask!” I exclaimed.
“You still remember your oath,” she continued with an alluring
smile, “now that everything is prepared, everything in readiness, I
ask you once more, is it still your serious wish to become my slave?”
“Am I not ready?” I asked in surprise.
“You have not yet signed the papers.”
“Oh, I see, you want to give it up,” she said, “well then, we will
let it go.”
“But Wanda,” I said, “you know that nothing gives me greater
happiness than to serve you, to be your slave. I would give
everything for the sake of feeling myself wholly in your power, even
“How beautiful you are,” she whispered, “when you speak so
enthusiastically, so passionately. I am more in love with you than
ever and you want me to be dominant, stern, and cruel. I am afraid,
it will be impossible for me to be so.”
“I am not afraid,” I replied smiling, “where are the papers?'”
“So that you may know what it means to be absolutely in my power, I
have drafted a second agreement in which you declare that you have
decided to kill yourself. In that way I can even kill you, if I so
“Give them to me.”
While I was unfolding the documents and reading them, Wanda got pen
and ink. She then sat down beside me with her arm about my neck, and
looked over my shoulder at the paper.
The first one read:
AGREEMENT BETWEEN MME. VON DUNAJEW AND SEVERIN VON KUSIEMSKI
“Severin von Kusiemski ceases with the present day being the affianced
of Mme. Wanda von Dunajew, and renounces all the rights appertaining
thereunto; he on the contrary binds himself on his word of honor as a
man and nobleman, that hereafter he will be her _slave_ until such
time that she herself sets him at liberty again.
“As the slave of Mme. von Dunajew he is to bear the name Gregor, and
he is unconditionally to comply with every one of her wishes, and to
obey every one of her commands; he is always to be submissive to his
mistress, and is to consider her every sign of favor as an
“Mme. von Dunajew is entitled not only to punish her slave as she
deems best, even for the slightest inadvertence or fault, but also
is herewith given the right to torture him as the mood may seize her
or merely for the sake of whiling away the time. Should she so desire,
she may kill him whenever she wishes; in short, he is her
“Should Mme. von Dunajew ever set her slave at liberty, Severin von
Kusiemski agrees to forget everything that he has experienced or
suffered as her slave, and promises _never under any circumstances and
in no wise to think of vengeance or retaliation_.
“Mme. von Dunajew on her behalf agrees as his mistress to appear as
often as possible in her furs, especially when she purposes some
cruelty toward her slave.”
Appended at the bottom of the agreement was the date of the present
The second document contained only a few words.
“Having since many years become weary of existence and its
illusions, I have of my own free will put an end to my worthless
I was seized with a deep horror when I had finished. There was still
time, I could still withdraw, but the madness of passion and the
sight of the beautiful woman that lay all relaxed against my shoulder
carried me away.
“This one you will have to copy, Severin,” said Wanda, indicating
the second document. “It has to be entirely in your own handwriting;
this, of course, isn’t necessary in the case of the agreement.”
I quickly copied the few lines in which I designated myself a
suicide, and handed them to Wanda. She read them, and put them on the
table with a smile.
“Now have you the courage to sign it?” she asked with a crafty
smile, inclining her head.
I took the pen.
“Let me sign first,” said Wanda, “your hand is trembling, are you
afraid of the happiness that is to be yours?”
She took the agreement and pen. While engaging in my internal struggle,
I looked upward for a moment. It occurred to me that the painting on the
ceiling, like many of those of the Italian and Dutch schools, was
utterly unhistorical, but this very fact gave it a strange mood which
had an almost uncanny effect on me. Delilah, an opulent woman with
flaming red hair, lay extended, half-disrobed, in a dark fur-cloak, upon
a red ottoman, and bent smiling over Samson who had been overthrown and
bound by the Philistines. Her smile in its mocking coquetry was full of
a diabolical cruelty; her eyes, half-closed, met Samson’s, and his with
a last look of insane passion cling to hers, for already one of his
enemies is kneeling on his breast with the red-hot iron to blind him.
“Now–” said Wanda. “Why you are all lost in thought. What is the
matter with you, everything will remain just as it was, even after
you have signed, don’t you know me yet, dear heart?”
I looked at the agreement. Her name was written there in bold
letters. I peered once more into her eyes with their potent magic,
then I took the pen and quickly signed the agreement.
“You are trembling,” said Wanda calmly, “shall I help you?”
She gently took hold of my hand, and my name appeared at the bottom
of the second paper. Wanda looked once more at the two documents, and
then locked them in the desk which stood at the head of the ottoman.
“Now then, give me your passport and money.”
I took out my wallet and handed it to her. She inspected it, nodded,
and put it with other things while in a sweet drunkenness I kneeled
before her leaning my head against her breast.
Suddenly she thrusts me away with her foot, leaps up, and pulls the
bell-rope. In answer to its sound three young, slender negresses
enter; they are as if carved of ebony, and are dressed from head to
foot in red satin; each one has a rope in her hand.
Suddenly I realize my position, and am about to rise. Wanda stands
proudly erect, her cold beautiful face with its sombre brows and
contemptous eyes is turned toward me. She stands before me as
mistress, commanding, gives a sign with her hand, and before I really
know what has happened to me the negresses have dragged me to the
ground, and have tied me hand and foot. As in the case of one about
to be executed my arms are bound behind my back, so that I can
“Give me the whip, Haydee,” commands Wanda, with unearthly calm.
The negress hands it to her mistress, kneeling.
“And now take off my heavy furs,” she continues, “they impede me.”
The negress obeyed.
“The jacket there!” Wanda commanded.
Haydee quickly brought her the _kazabaika_, set with ermine, which lay
on the bed, and Wanda slipped into it with two inimitably graceful
“Now tie him to the pillar here!”
The negresses lifted me up, and twisting a heavy rope around my
body, tied me standing against one of the massive pillars which
supported the top of the wide Italian bed.
Then they suddenly disappeared, as if the earth had swallowed them.
Wanda swiftly approached me. Her white satin dress flowed behind her
in a long train, like silver, like moonlight; her hair flared like
flames against the white fur of her jacket. Now she stood in front
of me with her left hand firmly planted on her hips, in her right hand
she held the whip. She uttered an abrupt laugh.
“Now play has come to an end between us,” she said with heartless
coldness. “Now we will begin in dead earnest. You fool, I laugh at you
and despise you; you who in your insane infatuation have given
yourself as a plaything to _me_, the frivolous and capricious woman.
You are no longer the man I love, but _my slave_, at my mercy even
unto life and death.
“You shall know me!
“First of all you shall have a taste of the whip in all seriousness,
without having done anything to deserve it, so that you may
understand what to expect, if you are awkward, disobedient, or
With a wild grace she rolled back her fur-lined sleeve, and struck
me across the back.
I winced, for the whip cut like a knife into my flesh.
“Well, how do you like that?” she exclaimed.
I was silent.
“Just wait, you will yet whine like a dog beneath my whip,” she
threatened, and simultaneously began to strike me again.
The blows fell quickly, in rapid succession, with terrific force
upon my back, arms, and neck; I had to grit my teeth not to scream
aloud. Now she struck me in the face, warm blood ran down, but she
laughed, and continued her blows.
“It is only now I understand you,” she exclaimed. “It really is a
joy to have some one so completely in one’s power, and a man at that,
who loves you–you do love me?–No–Oh! I’ll tear you to shreds yet,
and with each blow my pleasure will grow. Now, twist like a worm,
scream, whine! You will find no mercy in me!”
Finally she seemed tired.
She tossed the whip aside, stretched out on the ottoman, and rang.
The negresses entered.
As they loosened the rope, I fell to the floor like a lump of wood.
The black women grinned, showing their white teeth.
“Untie the rope around his feet.”
They did it, but I was unable to rise.
“Come over here, Gregor.”
I approached the beautiful woman. Never did she seem more seductive
to me than to-day in spite of all her cruelty and contempt.
“One step further,” Wanda commanded. “Now kneel down, and kiss my
She extended her foot beyond the hem of white satin, and I, the
supersensual fool, pressed my lips upon it.
“Now, you won’t lay eyes on me for an entire month, Gregor,” she
said seriously. “I want to become a stranger to you, so you will more
easily adjust yourself to our new relationship. In the meantime you
will work in the garden, and await my orders. Now, off with you,