CHAPTER VI

Therese was standing before me in a state of complete nudity, and laughing so uproariously that her breasts danced up and down. Her very haunches joined in the rhythm. Moreover, her mocking laughter was directed against her husband, for my sole article of clothing was a shirt so short that it barely reached my navel. But her hilarity was above all incited by the pitiable appearance of my virility, which had shrivelled up to a condition of total impotency. She ended, however, by taking pity on me and awakening my sex by a few caresses, after which she threw herself on the bed and began to go through a series of frolics of the most disturbing obscenity. Maddened with lust in my turn, I threw myself upon her, whereupon she slipped away, dashed towards the window, and jumped into space!

A cry escaped from my lips and brought this erotic nightmare to a sudden end. I awoke, covered with perspiration and my sex in a state of erection. Though still heavy with sleep, I resisted the desire to snuggle down under the bed-clothes again. Better get up immediately: a modicum of fatigue would, I decided, certainly do me good.

I had, at first, some difficulty in re-arranging and re-valuing my recollections of the preceding evening. Was it possible that my marriage dated only since yesterday? But soon a dominating, luminous idea came uppermost: the certainty that out of our union I could produce a masterpiece of intellectual and fleshly harmony. I repeated my oath. And though, on two occasions already, I had experienced its fragility, on the other hand, that morning I felt more sure of myself. Measuring the splendour of the goal to be reached, I accepted the trial cheerfully.

For a few seconds I listened behind the door. My wife was still asleep. I waved a kiss to her with my hand and then went to dress myself.

On re-entering my room, my toilet completed, Therese heard me, and began to talk through the partition.

“Good-morning, darling. What time can it be?”

“Nine o’clock. But have another snooze. It was so late when we went to bed.”

“No, I want to see you. Come and give me a kiss.”

“You think that that is a very obvious thing to do?”

“Clearly, you old and neglectful hubby.”

“But the door’s locked.”

“Liar! — you know very well it isn’t.”

So I went in and knelt down by the side of the low bed.

I was astonished to find my wife more divinely beautiful than I had pictured her in my mind. Her blond hair, which she had never consented to have cut, lay like a stream of liquid gold on the bedclothes, while the changeful blue of her eyes, that morning, had turned to a deep azure. She was wearing a most chaste night-gown: too chaste to my taste, since it barely left one shoulder and a slight portion of one of her breasts visible.

I gave her a long, long kiss. But when my lips strayed down towards her bosom, which my hand had already reached, she stopped me, with a caressing movement.

“Listen, darling. You must be reasonable this morning. Last night you made me quite crazy, — and my breasts still hurt me a little.”

Then, as she concluded, she began to laugh:

“I know a gentleman who is certainly borne down with remorse, and very much disinclined to start again.”

On my looking sulky and knitting my eyebrows, she added:

“You don’t want to be reasonable? We can profit by the still fresh morning hours to sit in the garden. And this afternoon, when it gets too hot outside, we can take refuge there. You will then find me… as I am now, if you like.”

“And you’ll try to be pardoned for your naughtiness.”

“Yes, bad and exacting man that you are! But on the condition that you go away immediately.”

“Why?”

“To let me have my bath and dress myself.”

“Upon my word, if that’s the reason, I’d rather remain here.”

She gave me a little tap on my lips, and then said, smilingly:

“Promise that you’ll go away at once, and you shall have a reward.”

Without waiting for my promise she uncovered her breasts, one after the other, and presented them to my lips.

Under the dense foliage of the linden-tree arbour, we spent, as foreseen, a most “reasonable” yet charming morning. Therese was a veritable chatter-box, sparkling with wit; and, on several occasions, she spouted long classical passages, or verses by Ronsard, as proud as Punch at being able to show that she knew much more than I did on that score. She appeared to have completely forgotten the look of care which, on the previous night, had sometimes veiled her eyes. When I questioned her on that subject, asking her if she were no longer frightened of her husband, she replied, half-playfully, half-pensively:

“I had no fear on my own account, you know; I was disquieted on account of your love. But I have slept on it, and from to-day onwards it is on you I rely, on your wisdom… or on your folly.”

“You have seen, however, that my folly can be obedient to you immediately?”

“Yes. But shall I still have the strength to will that you obey me? At certain moments certainly no longer.”

After a short silence, burdened with our combined thoughts, she concluded:

“But you who can perceive better than I do. Think of our love: protect it against the blindness of our desire.”

We had luncheon outside. The somewhat ordinary restaurant was, on the other hand, agreeably cool, and so we decided, at first, to dawdle there awhile. But soon a feeling of uneasiness crept over us. Without daring to admit the fact to ourselves, all our thoughts were concentrated on the privacy of our house, — and on the feast of the senses which was to be resumed there. We hurried over the end of our meal and by the beginning of the afternoon were back again.

I advised Therese, in order to make up for her too short night’s rest, to get right into bed; and I promised to let her sleep. But she insisted on my remaining with her and, holding me by the hand, led me towards her room. She made me sit down on the edge of the bed, moved towards the bath-room, came back to make me swear that I would not run away, and then disappeared for a short time.

When she returned she had the air of a child, in a long and barely decollete chemise; and this illusion was completed by two thick plaits of hair the shadow of which attenuated the outline of her breasts. I held my arms open to receive her, but she escaped from me and quickly slipped under the sheet, laughing at its momentary freshness.

On the other hand, the room was very warm, the shutters having inadvertently been left open. I ought to have had a care for Therese’s repose. Only, a secret joy ascended from my loins. Under the thin sheet, covering my wife, my eyes began to follow with amusement the lines of her body.

“You feel sleepy, dearie?”

“Yes, sir, with the direct intention of enraging you. But I know quite well you won’t let me sleep and… I’ll do my best not to be too angry with you.’

The invitation was easy to accept and I was glad that, of her own free will, Therese had thought of continuing our caresses, which had been interrupted that morning too soon. Having thrown back the sheet down to her waist, she had stretched herself out, with closed eyes, shivering a little as my hand came into contact with her bosom. But after a few caresses I began to protest against that night-gown, which was not sufficiently open to enable me to uncover her bosom completely.

“Take it off, darling.”

“But I shall be stark naked in bed if I do. And then who’s going to be naughty?”

“You are, if you are too severe.”

She uttered a little affected cry, to which her laughing eyes gave the lie direct; and, having obliged me to turn my back, she unrobed as quick as lightning, after which she hid herself in the bed, with the sheet pulled up to her chin. I could-with a mere snatch-have removed that sheet and feasted my eyes on the complete nakedness of her lissom body; but I loved better once more to discover my beautiful, voluptuous kingdom progressively.

Slipping down very slowly, the sheet gradually denuded her breasts and liberated their vermilion nipples; then it descended below her waist, revealing the diaphanous, snowy whiteness of a very flat stomach; and already my eyes were ablaze on perceiving, at the base of her tummy, the edge of blond and silky curls, like spun-gold.

But there, voluntarily, I brought my incursion to an end. Only too well did I know that, if I went further, no consideration would prevent me from parting Therese’s legs-even by force- so as to conquer the intimacy of her flesh. However, I decided that I had better not, by an act of premature brutality, scare away her total relinquishment to my caprices.

On her naked breast-the splendour of which dazed me-I repeated my caresses of the preceding night: manual manipulations, multifarious digital contacts, little teasing touches with my tongue, and also from my lips a whole succession of suctions. These caresses of mine-enriched by a second conquest-were extended to her tremulous stomach; and thus, in the hollow of the navel there glistened, like a miniature lake, a modicum of my saliva. Therese let me do exactly as I wanted, with her arms motionless and apparently wholly indifferent; but when my tongue, gliding on her stomach, slowly ascended towards her breasts, I observed that they swelled with voluptuous expectancy, that her respiration became quicker, and that the nipples stiffened and grew.

I was squatting by the side of the low bed, with one arm, above Therese, resting upon it. And this arm, left bare in its sports’ shirt with very short sleeves, happened to graze her lips. So, slightly raising herself, she placed her mouth in the hollow of my arm-pit and entered on a prolonged respiration, at the close of which she proceeded to lick, moistening me with her saliva abundantly. However, my shirt was in her way, so, in an impatient, excited voice, she bid me remove it. In my haste to obey her, I rose from my semi-recumbent position. Therese glided to the edge of the bed and, turning towards me, directed her eyes eagerly to my tummy, which the raised shirt was gradually uncovering. A wild temptation took possession of me, — to outstrip her thought and lower what remained of my clothing, and then, suddenly, to bring my entirely liberated sex before her face. However, though this imagined gesture still further increased my lust, its very indecency made me hesitate and desist. I realized the dangerous imprudence of so brutally obscene a revelation.

There was the risk of alienating for ever the woman whom I wished to make the adorer-a most tenderly sensual one- of my “manly blade”.

Moreover, my wife did not allow me time to reflect further.

Immediately my torso was bare she enclosed me within her naked arms and forced me to stretch myself at her side. And then, with lips and tongue, she began to design upon me a thousand interlaced arabesques. Afterwards, with the supple crawling movement of a young wild animal, she came nearer until her breasts and nipples were resting on my stomach, — and with the latter, whose fine flesh seemed slightly fresher than the rest of her skin, she amused herself by gently grazing my body. At times she brought her nipples on to a level with my mouth and momentarily stopped until I had tasted their fresh savour; while at others she descended to my navel and hid the little vermilion fruit there, until-untiringly recommencing her little game-she once more brought them up again to my lips.

But while, lying on her stomach across the bed, she was crawling towards me, her buttocks slipped from underneath the sheet and within immediate reach of one of my hands. She was still only partially nude, yet quite sufficient to reveal the entire harmonious curve of her hips, up to the very beginning of a narrow valley. Soon I pushed down the sheet, whereupon the double outline was wholly uncovered, in its abundant yet slender plenitude. Was Therese going to protest against the indiscretion of this action? For a few seconds I thought she would, because there was, at first, a contraction of her hips, ready to refuse themselves; but she immediately relaxed and revealed her nudity to my scrutiny. I did not wish, however, to take advantage of my victory.

Restraining the desire to seize hold of my voluptuous discovery, I confined myself to a greedy visual examination of the perfection of her curves and their mysterious shadow-line.

Wearied, at last, with having caressed me too much, Therese let her head recline on my tummy. Hers was the movement of a broken doll, but a somewhat crazy doll, who instinctively extended her hips towards me. So, slightly raising myself, in order to reach the coveted riches with both my hands, I began to stroke them with my fingers very gently. The same reflex action as a short time before followed: the contraction provoked by a modesty which would still resist, and then the relaxation of a body which, curious of new forms of voluptuousness, consented. My hands, becoming still more enterprising, were now busy kneading the soft plenitude of both her thighs.

First of all, I followed her haunches longitudinally. Starting with the curve of her loins, my hands scaled the double hillock and redescended towards the dimples which mark the beginning of the thighs. And often, on arriving there, an indiscreet finger brushed against a silky, moss-like bank, in close proximity to the warm centre of love. But, fearful of my own impatience, I took immediate flight from that disturbing contact, and returned towards the centre of the loins, where I recommenced my amorous to and fro movements immediately.

At other times, it was from left to right, or from right to left that my caresses progressed, enclosing and then relaxing the twin globes of her flesh. Flesh at one and the same time plastic and firm, and of a texture which was infinitely soft to the touch; flesh more cool on the summits, but moist and warm where the shadow-lines lay; flesh that was alive under my caresses, and which sometimes shrank, so as to protect the privacy of its secret valley, but which, on the other hand, surrendered itself, in a confiding and visible voluptuousness, when my hands drew closer together its equal rotundities. In my ardent love for my wife, her pleasure under my touches was as delicious to me as though that

pleasure had been my own; and so I multiplied my caresses incessantly.

The shades of evening were already falling when Therese-her eyes heavy with voluptuous lassitude-cried for mercy.

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