Saturday, October 24, 2015

Reader's Diary (Week 42)

sir, said the newly wedded Woman, before you take your place... I owe myself the right to address a few words to you about the nature of our imminent intimacy...

... he looked at Her open-mounthed.

She gathered Her pale blonde hair from the pillow, which was loosened in a great mass covering Her shoulders and some of Her breast from which Her nightdress was slipping:

... It is certain that I have always disliked you, and my aversion only grew with the approach of our wedding day... you cannot be totally unaware of the fact that you have bald, pointed egg-shaped head, that the back of your head rest on a flabby, pale roll of skin, that your little bloodshot eyes weep with a resinous substance, that a sort of beard bristles inside your nostrils, that your gray lips (the mere sight of which permanently rules out any possibility of a kiss) resemble the nearly absent lips of the mummies... While I, at twenty, am filled with the beating of noble heart!...

She continued, revealing a little more of Her breast, smiling, Her voice soft and slow:

... sir, you are my husband, but you are a coward. you are also an imbecile! Of course, one cannot expect everybody to be intelligent or fully to understand the intelligence of others... but there are degrees of stupidity and incomprehension... you have descended to the lowest degrees!...

Since i am so ugly, vile, and stupid, he cried, why on earth did You marry me?

Because, sir, She replied, you are rich.

She drew aside the Mechlin lace that futilely tickled the pink tip of Her left breast, and continued Her speech:

... Money, sir, is good... Money contains the potential for all chimera! It is the divine realizer! orpheus, saint anthony, the seraphic doctors, all the frenzied worshipers of the ideal must beware not to despise that omnipotent transformer: money, the illuminator of diamonds, the revealer of Women's beauty, Without it, nothing exists, nothing is itself. I needed some for the super fabrics and exotic furniture and Venetian mirrors through which beauty is doubled, and for the horses pawing at the doorstep on the gravel of the grounds. I had two ways in which to obtain it: prostitution or marriage. I chose marriage because it does not affect one's status. I could have been a strumpet, but I prefer to make you a cuckold.

Madame! roared Her husband.

I perceive that these notions, new for you, seems rather strange. you will get use to them gradually. However, do me the favor of opening the curtains and telling me whether there is anyone walking past the door, looking up at the light from of our window?...

he lifted the curtain, yes, there is someone indeed, a man.

A very young man, sir, as handsome as you are ugly, as noble as you are vile, as intelligent as you are stupid, as poor as you are rich. It is he who shall be my lover this very evening... I planned this honeymoon night. I am just waiting for you to give him the sign.

... he lowered his head, drew back, and contemplated Her at length with a foolish, wide-eyed stare.

She concluded: I shall come to the point. I married you because you are rich, but I would not like to be your Wife, because you are physically and morally hideous. On the contrary, a passionate desire attracts me to the young man walking beneath our window. The situation is clear: you are hated; he is adored... men of your age should be concerned with other matters... I swear to you that, if you touch this bed... I will be everyone's Mistress! And I shall do so with a resolute fury, without disguise, flaunting it, proclaiming it! Indeed, you will be mocked, jeered, vilified, pointed at. I guarantee it! But if, discreetly, you open the window a little and clap three times, then quietly retire into a distant room, leaving the doors ajar for the man I have chosen to enter... Oh, then that changes everything... since it will remain forever secret. you will indeed be cuckolded, but in a way that will not wound your pride...

This tale does not have a conclusion. However, Valentine affirms that, while he was passing beneath the newlyweds' window that night, he heard, in the street, the sound of three slow, discreet claps.

(Mendes, 1882)

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