* * * * *
My first impulse after this, the most cruel catastrophe of my life,
was to seek laborious tasks, dangers, and privations. I wanted to
become a soldier and go to Asia or Algiers, but my father was old and
ill and wanted me.
So I quietly returned home and for two years helped him bear his
burdens, and learned how to look after the estate which I had never
done before. To _labor_ and to _do my duty_ was comforting like a
drink of fresh water. Then my father died, and I inherited the estate,
but it meant no change.
I had put on my own Spanish boots and went on living just as
rationally as if the old man were standing behind me, looking over
my shoulder with his large wise eyes.
One day a box arrived, accompanied by a letter. I recognized Wanda’s
Curiously moved, I opened it, and read.
Now that over three years have passed since that night in Florence,
I suppose, I may confess to you that I loved you deeply. You
yourself, however, stifled my love by your fantastic devotion and
your insane passion. From the moment that you became my slave, I knew
it would be impossible for you ever to become my husband. However,
I found it interesting to have you realize your ideal in my own person,
and, while I gloriously amused myself, perhaps, to cure you.
I found the strong man for whom I felt a need, and I was as happy
with him as, I suppose, it is possible for any one to be on this
funny ball of clay.
But my happiness, like all things mortal, was of short duration.
About a year ago he fell in a duel, and since then I have been living
in Paris, like an Aspasia–
And you?–Your life surely is not without its sunshine, if you have
gained control of your imagination, and those qualities in you have
materialized, which at first so attracted me to you–your clarity of
intellect, kindness of heart, and, above all else, your–moral
I hope you have been cured under my whip; the cure was cruel, but
radical. In memory of that time and of a woman who loved you
passionately, I am sending you the portrait by the poor German.
Venus in Furs.”
I had to smile, and as I fell to musing the beautiful woman suddenly
stood before me in her velvet jacket trimmed with ermine, with the
whip in her hand. And I continued to smile at the woman I had once
loved so insanely, at the fur-jacket that had once so entranced me,
at the whip, and ended by smiling at myself and saying: The cure was
cruel, but radical; but the main point is, I have been cured.