* * * * *
A month has passed with monotonous regularity, heavy work, and a
melancholy hunger, hunger for her, who is inflicting all these
torments on me.
I am under the gardener’s orders; I help him lop the trees and prune
the hedges, transplant flowers, turn over the flower beds, sweep the
gravel paths; I share his coarse food and his hard cot; I rise and
go to bed with the chickens. Now and then I hear that our mistress
is amusing herself, surrounded by admirers. Once I heard her gay
laughter even down here in the garden.
I seem awfully stupid to myself. Was it the result of my present
life, or was I so before? The month is drawing to a close–the day
after to-morrow. What will she do with me now, or has she forgotten
me, and left me to trim hedges and bind bouquets till my dying day?
A written order.
“The slave Gregor is herewith ordered to my personal service.
With a beating heart I draw aside the damask curtain on the
following morning, and enter the bed-room of my divinity. It is still
filled with a pleasant half darkness.
“Is it you, Gregor?” she asks, while I kneel before the fire-place,
building a fire. I tremble at the sound of the beloved voice. I
cannot see her herself; she is invisible behind the curtains of the
“Yes, my mistress,” I reply.
“How late is it?”
“Past nine o’clock.”
I hasten to get it, and then kneel down with the tray beside her bed.
“Here is breakfast, my mistress.”
Wanda draws back the curtains, and curiously enough at the first
glance when I see her among the pillows with loosened flowing hair,
she seems an absolute stranger, a beautiful woman, but the beloved
soft lines are gone. This face is hard and has an expression of
weariness and satiety.
Or is it simply that formerly my eye did not see this?
She fixes her green eyes upon me, more with curiosity than with
menace, perhaps even somewhat pityingly, and lazily pulls the dark
sleeping fur on which she lies over the bared shoulder.
At this moment she is very charming, very maddening, and I feel my
blood rising to my head and heart. The tray in my hands begins to
sway. She notices it and reached out for the whip which is lying on
“You are awkward, slave,” she says furrowing her brow.
I lower my looks to the ground, and hold the tray as steadily as
possible. She eats her breakfast, yawns, and stretches her opulent
limbs in the magnificent furs.
She has rung. I enter.
“Take this letter to Prince Corsini.”
I hurry into the city, and hand the letter to the Prince. He is a
handsome young man with glowing black eyes. Consumed with jealousy,
I take his answer to her.
“What is the matter with you?” she asks with lurking spitefulness.
“You are very pale.”
“Nothing, mistress, I merely walked rather fast.”
At luncheon the prince is at her side, and I am condemned to serve
both her and him. They joke, and I am, as if non-existent, for both.
For a brief moment I see black; I was just pouring some Bordeaux into
his glass, and spilled it over the table-cloth and her gown.
“How awkward,” Wanda exclaimed and slapped my face. The prince
laughed, and she also, but I felt the blood rising to my face.
After luncheon she drove in the Cascine. She has a little carriage
with a handsome, brown English horse, and holds the reins herself.
I sit behind and notice how coquettishly she acts, and nods with a
smile when one of the distinguished gentlemen bows to her.
As I help her out of the carriage, she leans lightly on my arm; the
contact runs through me like an electric shock. She _is_ a wonderful
woman, and I love her more than ever.