CHAPTER XIV

A few yards away from our arbour there stood a little wooden house, used as a shed for the garden-furniture, or as a shelter for promenaders in case of an unexpected shower. Thither I led Therese and closed the door.

Inside, the atmosphere was that of a greenhouse and it vibrated with a strange luminosity: reflections of the sun which the surrounding field stained green and projected through the openings in the closed shutters on to the ceiling. The furniture looked so poverty-stricken that I was disappointed: a half-open croquet box with its rows of painted balls; in a corner, some folded sun-shades in the centre, a pile of iron tables and chairs. However, against the back wall was a large grey cloth which appeared to hide other pieces of furniture. With a certain distrust, we raised one corner of this covering, and then-joyfully surprised-threw it wholly on one side. A profusion of multicoloured cushions appeared, spread out on the floor, and from their disorderly billowy midst there emerged a sofa, luxuriously upholstered in red velvet. I pushed Therese on to it, impatient to undress her; and as I did so I anticipated the pearly whiteness of her nudity, when contrasted with the crimson material. However, she resisted, exclaiming: “No, it’s my turn. Let me do what I want.” Seated on the edge of the sofa, she held me in front of her, imprisoning my legs between hers. My clothes, since our recent caresses, had remained unbuttoned and displayed the attachment of my penis. Therese deposited a kiss on the bushy fleece and greedily inhaled the perspiration from my skin. Then she began to undress me. She first of all removed my jacket, busied herself for a few moments over the buckle of my waist-belt, and finally succeeded in undoing it. Then her two hands glided down my haunches and caused my final garment to fall to the ground. I stood stark-naked before her, with my sex-still vibrating through having been suddenly released-stretched out.

As though she had discovered my body for the first time, Therese contemplated it with an astonished smile. With the lightest of touches she stroked me all over, — rained upon me a multitude of rapid kisses.

Long did she hold me in that manner, without getting tired of looking at me, feeling me, or licking me. Then, still pressing me to her, upright and between her legs, she made me turn round so that I was in profile.

She began to follow the double contour of my body passionately, caressing it with both hands, — one sliding along my back and passing round my loins; the other, with a parallel movement, straying to my stomach and my penis.

Gradually, however, her caresses became more precise and reflective; they sought for the most sensitive spots of all; they returned there, again and again. I besought Therese to interrupt a pleasure (the danger of which I foresaw) so exquisite as that. But she only smiled at an excessive pleasure in which her inventive tenderness took a pride; and the confession of my weakness, far from appeasing it, made it still more ardent. I felt the intoxicating wave of an irrepressible voluptuousness rising within me; I knew that, soon, no sense of modesty would be able to restrain it, — not even the shame of the final spasm under the greedy curiosity of that look of hers. Meanwhile a brief fit of dizziness came to the aid of my failing will-power. In that excessively heavy atmosphere the walls seemed to totter around me, and I collapsed on to the cushions scattered on the ground, thus escaping, despite myself, from Therese’s too madly amorous hands. A look of disappointment darted from her eyes. But, noticing my pallor, she threw her arms around my neck and hid my head against her stomach, which the too narrow bolero had left bare.

My sensual hypertension, so near the point of orgasm, was slow in becoming appeased. In vain did I seek-motionless and with closed eyes-to escape from it. A recollection sufficed to awaken it; my sex began to swell as a wave of voluptuousness passed through it. The agonizing pulsation was, however, attenuated, then broke out afresh, and was again lessened. At last it disappeared, but only to leave my desire keener, more ravenous than ever, and reach once more that state of dizziness whose satisfaction it awaited.

Squatting down, in a state of nudity, between Therese’s legs, I wanted to denude her also: the pyjamas she still wore had become physically intolerable to me. With a movement of her loins, she assisted me in uncovering her haunches and slipping off her garments. She let me part her legs; she let me unravel the blond locks on her pubes; she let me half-open the most secret spot of her body. Leaning backwards on the sofa, with open thighs and arched body, she made an offering of her panting sex, and greedily surrendered it to the multitudinous caresses of my lips and tongue, which were positively intoxicated by her moist and ever-increasing desire.

At last, in order to take breath, I drew myself up, and thus, kneeling between her legs, our sexes came together again. Then, with my flesh I touched ever so lightly that offering of hers, — as lightly and as slowly as the burning tension of my lust permitted. It was a prolonged caress which first of all availed itself of the hollows of my wife’s loins, then ascended all along the fleshly crimson valley, setting in vibration her most subtle sensibility, and finally ending where her fleece was the thickest. As I stimulated her pleasure, Therese’s breasts trembled with greater and greater rapidity. Straining towards me, her body rose and fell rhythmically, in obedience to an instinctive desire to intensify and increase the light rubbing together of our moist flesh. And then a cry came from her:

“Oh! Take me, — have me now for good and all!”

However I hesitated. Dominating the tumult of my feelings, a scruple still held me back: the fear of lacerating that flesh whose fragile sweetness I knew so well, and compassion for the sensitiveness of that virginal body which wished to surrender itself to the brutal satisfaction of my lust. Astonished at my hesitation and perhaps somewhat disappointed, Therese remained at first motionless, subsiding on the sofa. But soon she half-raised herself, encircled me with her arms, and clutched my thighs. And at the very moment when my penis began once more to caress and re-ascend the folds of her flesh, she pulled me towards her with such a passionate movement that I was suddenly buried in her.

On her features I read the extraordinarily rapid succession of her emotions: first of all a wince of pain on her face; then a tearful and troubled look in her eyes; and finally a flash of joyous pride. For yet another moment she smiled at me, — a rather dolorous yet infinitely tender smile. Then, closing her eyes, she fell backwards without any other protest than a cry of love:

“My husband! My beloved husband!”

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