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26.

  • A sleepless night; I made countless decisions, only to toss them aside again.
  • In the morning I wrote her a letter in which I declared our relationship
  • dissolved. My hand trembled when I put on the seal, and I burned my fingers.
  • As I went upstairs to hand it to the maid, my knees threatened to give way.
  • The door opened, and Wanda thrust forth her head full of curling- papers.
  • "I haven't had my hair dressed yet," she said, smiling. "What have you there?"
  • "A letter—"
  • "For me?"
  • I nodded.
  • "Ah, you want to break with me," she exclaimed, mockingly.
  • "Didn't you tell me yesterday that I wasn't the man for you?"
  • "I repeat it now!"
  • "Very well, then." My whole body was trembling, my voice failed me, and I
  • handed her the letter.
  • "Keep it," she said, measuring me coldly. "You forget that is no longer a
  • question as to whether you satisfy me as a man; as a slave you will doubtless
  • do well enough."
  • "Madame!" I exclaimed, aghast.
  • "That is what you will call me in the future," replied Wanda, throwing back
  • her head with a movement of unutterable contempt. "Put your affairs in order
  • within the next twenty-four hours. The day after to-morrow I shall start for
  • Italy, and you will accompany me as my servant."
  • "Wanda—"
  • "I forbid any sort of familiarity," she said, cutting my words short,
  • "likewise you are not to come in unless I call or ring for you, and you are
  • not to speak to me until you are spoken to. From now on your name is no longer
  • Severin, but Gregor."
  • I trembled with rage, and yet, unfortunately, I cannot deny it, I also felt a
  • strange pleasure and stimulation.
  • "But, madame, you know my circumstances," I began in my confusion. "I am
  • dependent on my father, and I doubt whether he will give me the large sum of
  • money needed for this journey—"
  • "That means you have no money, Gregor," said Wanda, delightedly, "so much the
  • better, you are then entirely dependent on me, and in fact my slave."
  • "You don't consider," I tried to object, "that as man of honor it is
  • impossible for me—"
  • "I have indeed considered it," she replied almost with a tone of command. "As
  • a man of honor you must keep your oath and redeem your promise to follow me as
  • slave whithersoever I demand and to obey whatever I command. Now leave me,
  • Gregor!"
  • I turned toward the door.
  • "Not yet—you may first kiss my hand." She held it out to me with a certain
  • proud indifference, and I the dilettante, the donkey, the miserable slave
  • pressed it with intense tenderness against my lips which were dry and hot with
  • excitement.
  • There was another gracious nod of the head.
  • Then I was dismissed.