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54.

  • The painter paints slowly, but his passion grows more and more rapidly. I am
  • afraid he will end up by committing suicide. She plays with him and propounds
  • riddles to him which he cannot solve, and he feels his blood congealing in the
  • process, but it amuses her.
  • During the sitting she nibbles at candies, and rolls the paper- wrappers into
  • little pellets with which she bombards him.
  • "I am glad you are in such good humor," said the painter, "but your face has
  • lost the expression which I need for my picture."
  • "The expression which you need for your picture," she replied, smiling. "Wait
  • a moment."
  • She rose, and dealt me a blow with the whip. The painter looked at her with
  • stupefaction, and a child-like surprise showed on his face, mingled with
  • disgust and admiration.
  • While whipping me, Wanda's face acquired more and more of the cruel,
  • contemptuous character, which so haunts and intoxicates me.
  • "Is this the expression you need for your picture?" she exclaimed. The painter
  • lowered his look in confusion before the cold ray of her eye.
  • "It is the expression—" he stammered, "but I can't paint now—"
  • "What?" said Wanda, scornfully, "perhaps I can help you?"
  • "Yes—" cried the German, as if taken with madness, "whip me too."
  • "Oh! With pleasure," she replied, shrugging her shoulders, "but if I am to
  • whip you I want to do it in sober earnest."
  • "Whip me to death," cried the painter.
  • "Will you let me tie you?" she asked, smiling.
  • "Yes—" he moaned—
  • Wanda left the room for a moment, and returned with ropes.
  • "Well—are you still brave enough to put yourself into the power of Venus in
  • Furs, the beautiful despot, for better or worse?" she began ironically.
  • "Yes, tie me," the painter replied dully. Wanda tied his hands on his back and
  • drew a rope through his arms and a second one around his body, and fettered
  • him to the cross-bars of the window. Then she rolled back the fur, seized the
  • whip, and stepped in front of him.
  • The scene had a grim attraction for me, which I cannot describe. I felt my
  • heart beat, when, with a smile, she drew back her arm for the first blow, and
  • the whip hissed through the air. He winced slightly under the blow. Then she
  • let blow after blow rain upon him, with her mouth half-opened and her teeth
  • flashing between her red lips, until he finally seemed to ask for mercy with
  • his piteous, blue eyes. It was indescribable.