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AngelaCarterTheBloodyChamberAndOtherStories
PublishedbythePenguinGroup
PenguinBooksUSAInc.,
375HudsonStreet,NewYork,NewYork10014,U.S.A.
PenguinBooksLtd,27WrightsLane,LondonW85TZ,England
PenguinBooksAustraliaLtd,Ringwood,Victoria,Australia
PenguinBooksCanadaLtd.,10AlcornAvenue,
Toronto,Ontario,CanadaM4V3B2
PenguinBooks(N.Z.)Ltd,182190WairauRoad,
Auckland10,NewZealand
PenguinBooksLtd,RegisteredOffices:
Harmondsworth,Middlesex,England
FirstpublishedinGreatBritainbyVictorGollanczLtd.1979
FirstpublishedintheUnitedStatesofAmericaby
Harper&Row,Publishers,Inc.1980
PublishedinPenguinBooks(UK)1981
PublishedinPenguinBooks(USA)1987
Thiseditionpublished1993
17192018
CopyrightAngelaCarter,1979
Allrightsreserved
Someofthestoriesinthiscollectionoriginallyappearedinsomewhatdifferentform,inthefollowingpublications:"TheCourtshipofMr.
Lyon,"BritishVogue,"TheErlKing"and"TheCompanyofWolves,"Bananas"TheLadyoftheHouseofLove,"TheIowaReview"The
Werewolf,"SouthWestArtsReview"WolfAlice,"Standallarereprintedherewiththepermissionoftheeditors."TheSnowChild"was
broadcastontheBBCRadio4programNotNow,I'mListening."PussinBoots"appearedinananthology,TheStrawandtheGold,editedby
EmmaTennant(PierrotBooks,1979).
ISBN01401.7821X
PrintedintheUnitedStatesofAmerica
SetinMonotypeEhrhardt
ExceptintheUnitedStatesofAmerica,thisbookissoldsubjecttotheconditionthatitshallnot,bywayoftradeorotherwise,belent,resold,
hiredout,orotherwisecirculatedwithoutthepublisher'spriorconsentinanyformofbindingorcoverotherthanthatinwhichitispublished
andwithoutasimilarconditionincludingthisconditionbeingimposedonthesubsequentpurchaser.

Contents
TheBloodyChamber
TheCourtshipofMrLyon
TheTiger'sBride
PussinBoots
TheErlKing
TheSnowChild
TheLadyoftheHouseofLove
TheWerewolf
TheCompanyofWolves
WolfAlice

TheBloodyChamber
Irememberhow,thatnight,Ilayawakeinthewagonlitinatender,deliciousecstasyofexcitement,myburningcheekpressedagainstthe
impeccablelinenofthepillowandthepoundingofmyheartmimickingthatofthegreatpistonsceaselesslythrustingthetrainthatboreme
throughthenight,awayfromParis,awayfromgirlhood,awayfromthewhite,enclosedquietudeofmymother'sapartment,intotheunguessable
countryofmarriage.
AndIrememberItenderlyimaginedhow,atthisverymoment,mymotherwouldbemovingslowlyaboutthenarrowbedroomIhadleftbehind
forever,foldingupandputtingawayallmylittlerelics,thetumbledgarmentsIwouldnotneedanymore,thescoresforwhichtherehadbeen
noroominmytrunks,theconcertprogrammesI'dabandonedshewouldlingeroverthistornribbonandthatfadedphotographwithallthehalf
joyous,halfsorrowfulemotionsofawomanonherdaughter'sweddingday.And,inthemidstofmybridaltriumph,Ifeltapangoflossasif,
whenheputthegoldbandonmyfinger,Ihad,insomeway,ceasedtobeherchildinbecominghiswife.
Areyousure,she'dsaidwhentheydeliveredthegiganticboxthatheldtheweddingdresshe'dboughtme,wrappedupintissuepaperandred
ribbonlikeaChristmasgiftofcrystallizedfruit.Areyousureyoulovehim?Therewasadressforher,tooblacksilk,withthedull,prismatic
sheenofoilonwater,finerthananythingshe'dwornsincethatadventurousgirlhoodinIndoChina,daughterofarichteaplanter.Myeagle
featured,indomitablemotherwhatotherstudentattheConservatoirecouldboastthathermotherhadoutfacedajunkfulofChinesepirates,
nursedavillagethroughavisitationoftheplague,shotamaneatingtigerwithherownhandandallbeforeshewasasoldasI?
'Areyousureyoulovehim?'

'I'msureIwanttomarryhim,'Isaid.
Andwouldsaynomore.Shesighed,asifitwaswithreluctancethatshemightatlastbanishthespectreofpovertyfromitshabitualplaceatour
meagretable.Formymotherherselfhadgladly,scandalously,defiantlybeggaredherselfforloveand,onefineday,hergallantsoldiernever
returnedfromthewars,leavinghiswifeandchildalegacyoftearsthatneverquitedried,acigarboxfullofmedalsandtheantiqueservice
revolverthatmymother,grownmagnificentlyeccentricinhardship,keptalwaysinherreticule,incasehowIteasedhershewassurprisedby
footpadsonherwayhomefromthegrocer'sshop.
Nowandthenastarburstoflightsspatteredthedrawnblindsasiftherailwaycompanyhadlitupallthestationsthroughwhichwepassedin
celebrationofthebride.Mysatinnightdresshadjustbeenshakenfromitswrappingsithadslippedovermyyounggirl'spointedbreastsand
shoulders,suppleasagarmentofheavywater,andnowteasinglycaressedme,egregious,insinuating,nudgingbetweenmythighsasIshifted
restlesslyinmynarrowberth.Hiskiss,hiskisswithtongueandteethinitandaraspofbeard,hadhintedtome,thoughwiththesameexquisite
tactasthisnightdresshe'dgivenme,oftheweddingnight,whichwouldbevoluptuouslydeferreduntilwelayinhisgreatancestralbedinthe
seagirt,pinnacleddomainthatlay,still,beyondthegraspofmyimagination...thatmagicplace,thefairycastlewhosewallsweremadeof
foam,thatlegendaryhabitationinwhichhehadbeenborn.Towhich,oneday,Imightbearanheir.Ourdestination,mydestiny.
Abovethesyncopatedroarofthetrain,Icouldhearhiseven,steadybreathing.Onlythecommunicatingdoorkeptmefrommyhusbandandit
stoodopen.IfIroseuponmyelbow,Icouldseethedark,leonineshapeofhisheadandmynostrilscaughtawhiffoftheopulentmalescentof
leatherandspicesthatalwaysaccompaniedhimandsometimes,duringhiscourtship,hadbeentheonlyhinthegavemethathehadcomeinto
mymother'ssittingroom,for,thoughhewasabigman,hemovedassoftlyasifallhisshoeshadsolesofvelvet,asifhisfootfallturnedthe
carpetintosnow.
Hehadlovedtosurprisemeinmyabstractedsolitudeatthepiano.Hewouldtellthemnottoannouncehim,thensoundlesslyopenthedoorand
softlycreepupbehindmewithhisbouquetofhothouseflowersorhisboxofmarronsglacs,layhisofferinguponthekeysandclasphishands
overmyeyesasIwaslostinaDebussyprelude.Butthatperfumeofspicedleatheralwaysbetrayedhimaftermyfirstshock,Iwasforced
alwaystomimicsurprise,sothathewouldnotbedisappointed.
HewasolderthanI.HewasmucholderthanItherewerestreaksofpuresilverinhisdarkmane.Buthisstrange,heavy,almostwaxenfacewas
notlinedbyexperience.Rather,experienceseemedtohavewasheditperfectlysmooth,likeastoneonabeachwhosefissureshavebeeneroded
bysuccessivetides.Andsometimesthatface,instillnesswhenhelistenedtomeplaying,withtheheavyeyelidsfoldedovereyesthatalways
disturbedmebytheirabsoluteabsenceoflight,seemedtomelikeamask,asifhisrealface,thefacethattrulyreflectedallthelifehehadledin
theworldbeforehemetme,before,even,Iwasborn,asthoughthatfacelayunderneaththismask.Orelse,elsewhere.Asthoughhehadlaidby
thefaceinwhichhehadlivedforsolonginordertooffermyyouthafaceunsignedbytheyears.
And,elsewhere,Imightseehimplain.Elsewhere.But,where?
In,perhaps,thatcastletowhichthetrainnowtookus,thatmarvellouscastleinwhichhehadbeenborn.
Evenwhenheaskedmetomarryhim,andIsaid:'Yes,'stillhedidnotlosethatheavy,fleshycomposureofhis.Iknowitmustseemacurious
analogy,amanwithaflower,butsometimesheseemedtomelikealily.Yes.Alily.Possessedofthatstrange,ominouscalmofasentient
vegetable,likeoneofthosecobraheaded,funereallilieswhosewhitesheathsarecurledoutofafleshasthickandtenselyyieldingtothetouch
asvellum.WhenIsaidthatIwouldmarryhim,notonemuscleinhisfacestirred,butheletoutalong,extinguishedsigh.Ithought:Oh!howhe
mustwantme!AnditwasasthoughtheimponderableweightofhisdesirewasaforceImightnotwithstand,notbyvirtueofitsviolencebut
becauseofitsverygravity.
Hehadtheringreadyinaleatherboxlinedwithcrimsonvelvet,afireopalthesizeofapigeon'seggsetinacomplicatedcircleofdarkantique
gold.Myoldnurse,whostilllivedwithmymotherandme,squintedattheringaskance:opalsarebadluck,shesaid.Butthisopalhadbeenhis
ownmother'sring,andhisgrandmother's,andhermother'sbeforethat,giventoanancestorbyCatherinedeMedici...everybridethatcameto
thecastleworeit,timeoutofmind.Anddidhegiveittohisotherwivesandhaveitbackfromthem?askedtheoldwomanrudelyyetshewas
asnob.ShehidherincredulousjoyatmymaritalcoupherlittleMarquisebehindafaadeoffaultfinding.But,here,shetouchedme.I
shruggedandturnedmybackpettishlyonher.Ididnotwanttorememberhowhehadlovedotherwomenbeforeme,buttheknowledgeoften
teasedmeinthethreadbareselfconfidenceofthesmallhours.
IwasseventeenandknewnothingoftheworldmyMarquishadbeenmarriedbefore,morethanonce,andIremainedalittlebemusedthat,
afterthoseothers,heshouldnowhavechosenme.Indeed,washenotstillinmourningforhislastwife?Tsk,tsk,wentmyoldnurse.
Andevenmymotherhadbeenreluctanttoseehergirlwhiskedoffbyamansorecentlybereaved.ARomaniancountess,aladyofhighfashion.
DeadjustthreeshortmonthsbeforeImethim,aboatingaccident,athishome,inBrittany.TheyneverfoundherbodybutIrummagedthrough
thebackcopiesofthesocietymagazinesmyoldnannykeptinatrunkunderherbedandtrackeddownherphotograph.Thesharpmuzzleofa
pretty,witty,naughtymonkeysuchpotentandbizarrecharm,ofadark,bright,wildyetworldlythingwhosenaturalhabitatmusthavebeen
someluxuriousinteriordecorator'sjunglefilledwithpottedpalmsandtame,squawkingparakeets.
Beforethat?HerfaceiscommonpropertyeveryonepaintedherbuttheRedonengravingIlikedbest,TheEveningStarWalkingontheRimof
Night.Toseeherskeletal,enigmaticgrace,youwouldneverthinkshehadbeenabarmaidinacafinMontmartreuntilPuvisdeChavannes
sawherandhadherexposeherflatbreastsandelongatedthighstohisbrush.Andyetitwastheabsinthedoomedher,orsotheysaid.
Thefirstofallhisladies?ThatsumptuousdivaIhadheardhersingIsolde,precociouslymusicalchildthatIwas,takentotheoperafora
birthdaytreat.MyfirstoperaIhadheardhersingIsolde.Withwhatwhitehotpassionhadsheburnedfromthestage!Sothatyoucouldtellshe
woulddieyoung.Wesathighup,halfwaytoheaveninthegods,yetshehalfblindedme.Andmyfather,stillalive(oh,solongago),tookhold
ofmystickylittlehand,tocomfortme,inthelastact,yetallIheardwasthegloryofhervoice.
Marriedthreetimeswithinmyownbrieflifetimetothreedifferentgraces,now,asiftodemonstratetheeclecticismofhistaste,hehadinvited
metojointhisgalleryofbeautifulwomen,I,thepoorwidow'schildwithmymousecolouredhairthatstillborethekinksoftheplaitsfrom
whichithadsorecentlybeenfreed,mybonyhips,mynervous,pianist'sfingers.
HewasrichasCroesus.Thenightbeforeourweddingasimpleaffair,attheMairie,becausehiscountesswassorecentlygonehetookmy
motherandme,curiouscoincidence,toseeTristan.And,doyouknow,myheartswelledandachedsoduringtheLiebestodthatIthoughtI
musttrulylovehim.Yes.Idid.Onhisarm,alleyeswereuponme.ThewhisperingcrowdinthefoyerpartedliketheRedSeatoletusthrough.
Myskincrispedathistouch.
HowmycircumstanceshadchangedsincethefirsttimeIheardthosevoluptuouschordsthatcarrysuchachargeofdeathlypassioninthem!
Now,wesatinaloge,inredvelvetarmchairs,andabraided,bewiggedflunkeybroughtusasilverbucketoficedchampagneintheinterval.
Thefrothspilledovertherimofmyglassanddrenchedmyhands,Ithought:Mycuprunnethover.AndIhadonaPoiretdress.Hehad
prevaileduponmyreluctantmothertolethimbuymytrousseauwhatwouldIhavegonetohimin,otherwise?Twicedarnedunderwear,faded
gingham,sergeskirts,handmedowns.So,fortheopera,Iworeasinuousshiftofwhitemuslintiedwithasilkstringunderthebreasts.And
everyonestaredatme.Andathisweddinggift.
Hisweddinggift,claspedroundmythroat.Achokerofrubies,twoincheswide,likeanextraordinarilypreciousslitthroat.

AftertheTerror,intheearlydaysoftheDirectory,thearistoswho'descapedtheguillotinehadanironicfadoftyingaredribbonroundtheir
necksatjustthepointwherethebladewouldhavesliceditthrough,aredribbonlikethememoryofawound.Andhisgrandmother,takenwith
thenotion,hadherribbonmadeupinrubiessuchagestureofluxuriousdefiance!Thatnightattheoperacomesbacktomeevennow...the
whitedressthefrailchildwithinitandtheflashingcrimsonjewelsroundherthroat,brightasarterialblood.
Isawhimwatchingmeinthegildedmirrorswiththeassessingeyeofaconnoisseurinspectinghorseflesh,orevenofahousewifeinthemarket,
inspectingcutsontheslab.I'dneverseen,orelsehadneveracknowledged,thatregardofhisbefore,thesheercarnalavariceofitanditwas
strangelymagnifiedbythemonoclelodgedinhislefteye.WhenIsawhimlookatmewithlust,Idroppedmyeyesbut,inglancingawayfrom
him,Icaughtsightofmyselfinthemirror.AndIsawmyself,suddenly,ashesawme,mypaleface,thewaythemusclesinmyneckstuckout
likethinwire.Isawhowmuchthatcruelnecklacebecameme.And,forthefirsttimeinmyinnocentandconfinedlife,Isensedinmyselfa
potentialityforcorruptionthattookmybreathaway.
Thenextday,weweremarried.
Thetrainslowed,shudderedtoahalt.Lightsclankofmetalavoicedeclaringthenameofanunknown,nevertobevisitedstationsilenceof
thenighttherhythmofhisbreathing,thatIshouldsleepwith,now,fortherestofmylife.AndIcouldnotsleep.Istealthilysatup,raisedthe
blindalittleandhuddledagainstthecoldwindowthatmistedoverwiththewarmthofmybreathing,gazingoutatthedarkplatformtowards
thoserectanglesofdomesticlamplightthatpromisedwarmth,company,asupperofsausageshissinginapanonthestoveforthestationmaster,
hischildrentuckedupinbedasleepinthebrickhousewiththepaintedshutters...alltheparaphernaliaoftheeverydayworldfromwhichI,with
mystunningmarriage,hadexiledmyself.
Intomarriage,intoexileIsensedit,Iknewitthat,henceforth,Iwouldalwaysbelonely.Yetthatwaspartofthealreadyfamiliarweightofthe
fireopalthatglimmeredlikeagypsy'smagicball,sothatIcouldnottakemyeyesoffitwhenIplayedthepiano.Thisring,thebloodybandage
ofrubies,thewardrobeofclothesfromPoiretandWorth,hisscentofRussianleatherallhadconspiredtoseducemesoutterlythatIcouldnot
sayIfeltonesingletwingeofregretfortheworldoftartinesandmamanthatnowrecededfrommeasifdrawnawayonastring,likeachild's
toy,asthetrainbegantothrobagainasifindelightedanticipationofthedistanceitwouldtakeme.
Thefirstgreystreamersofthedawnnowflewintheskyandaneldritchhalflightseepedintotherailwaycarriage.Iheardnochangeinhis
breathingbutmyheightened,excitedsensestoldmehewasawakeandgazingatme.Ahugeman,anenormousman,andhiseyes,darkand
motionlessasthoseeyestheancientEgyptianspaintedupontheirsarcophagi,fixeduponme.Ifeltacertaintensioninthepitofmystomach,to
besowatched,insuchsilence.Amatchstruck.HewasignitingaRomeoyJulietafatasababy'sarm.
'Soon,'hesaidinhisresonantvoicethatwaslikethetollingofabellandIfelt,allatonce,asharppremonitionofdreadthatlastedonlyaslong
asthematchflaredandIcouldseehiswhite,broadfaceasifitwerehovering,disembodied,abovethesheets,illuminatedfrombelowlikea
grotesquecarnivalhead.Thentheflamedied,thecigarglowedandfilledthecompartmentwitharememberedfragrancethatmademethinkof
myfather,howhewouldhugmeinawarmfugofHavana,whenIwasalittlegirl,beforehekissedmeandleftmeanddied.
Assoonasmyhusbandhandedmedownfromthehighstepofthetrain,Ismelledtheamnioticsalinityoftheocean.ItwasNovemberthetrees,
stuntedbytheAtlanticgales,werebareandthelonelyhaltwasdesertedbutforhisleathergaiteredchauffeurwaitingmeeklybesidethesleek
blackmotorcar.ItwascoldIdrewmyfursaboutme,awrapofwhiteandblack,broadstripesofermineandsable,withacollarfromwhich
myheadroselikethecalyxofawildflower.(Isweartoyou,IhadneverbeenvainuntilImethim.)Thebellclangedthestrainingtrainleaptits
leashandleftusatthatlonelywaysidehaltwhereonlyheandIhaddescended.Oh,thewonderofithowallthatmightofironandsteamhad
pausedonlytosuithisconvenience.TherichestmaninFrance.
'Madame.'
Thechauffeureyedmewashecomparingme,invidiously,tothecountess,theartist'smodel,theoperasinger?Ihidbehindmyfursasifthey
wereasystemofsoftshields.Myhusbandlikedmetowearmyopalovermykidglove,ashowy,theatricaltrickbutthemomenttheironic
chauffeurglimpseditssimmeringflashhesmiled,asthoughitwasproofpositiveIwashismaster'swife.Andwedrovetowardsthewidening
dawn,thatnowstreakedhalftheskywithawintrybouquetofpinkofroses,orangeoftigerlilies,asifmyhusbandhadorderedmeaskyfroma
florist.Thedaybrokearoundmelikeacooldream.
Seasandaskythatmeltsintotheseaalandscapeofmistypastelswithalookaboutitofbeingcontinuouslyonthepointofmelting.A
landscapewithallthedeliquescentharmoniesofDebussy,ofthetudesIplayedforhim,thereverieI'dbeenplayingthatafternooninthesalon
oftheprincesswhereI'dfirstmethim,amongtheteacupsandthelittlecakes,I,theorphan,hiredoutofcharitytogivethemtheirdigestiveof
music.
And,ah!hiscastle.Thefaerysolitudeoftheplacewithitsturretsofmistyblue,itscourtyard,itsspikedgate,hiscastlethatlayonthevery
bosomoftheseawithseabirdsmewingaboutitsattics,thecasementsopeningontothegreenandpurple,evanescentdeparturesoftheocean,
cutoffbythetidefromlandforhalfaday...thatcastle,athomeneitheronthelandnoronthewater,amysterious,amphibiousplace,
contraveningthematerialityofbothearthandthewaves,withthemelancholyofamermaidenwhoperchesonherrockandwaits,endlessly,for
aloverwhohaddrownedfaraway,longago.Thatlovely,sad,seasirenofaplace!
Thetidewaslowatthishour,soearlyinthemorning,thecausewayroseupoutofthesea.Asthecarturnedontothewetcobblesbetweenthe
slowmarginsofwater,hereachedoutformyhandthathadhissultry,witchyringonit,pressedmyfingers,kissedmypalmwithextraordinary
tenderness.HisfacewasasstillaseverI'dseenit,stillasapondicedthicklyover,yethislips,thatalwayslookedsostrangelyredandnaked
betweentheblackfringesofhisbeard,nowcurvedalittle.Hesmiledhewelcomedhisbridehome.
Noroom,nocorridorthatdidnotrustlewiththesoundoftheseaandalltheceilings,thewallsonwhichhisancestorsinthesternregaliaof
ranklinedupwiththeirdarkeyesandwhitefaces,werestippledwithrefractedlightfromthewaveswhichwerealwaysinmotionthat
luminous,murmurouscastleofwhichIwasthechatelaine,I,thelittlemusicstudentwhosemotherhadsoldallherjewellery,evenherwedding
ring,topaythefeesattheConservatoire.
Firstofall,therewasthesmallordealofmyinitialinterviewwiththehousekeeper,whokeptthisextraordinarymachine,thisanchored,
castellatedoceanliner,insmoothrunningordernomatterwhostoodonthebridgehowtenuous,Ithought,mightbemyauthorityhere!Shehad
abland,pale,impassive,dislikeablefacebeneaththeimpeccablystarchedwhitelinenheaddressoftheregion.Hergreeting,correctbutlifeless,
chilledmedaydreaming,Idaredpresumetoomuchonmystatus...brieflywonderedhowImightinstallmyoldnurse,somuchloved,however
cosilyincompetent,inherplace.Illconsideredschemings!Hetoldmethisonehadbeenhisfostermotherwasboundtohisfamilyinthe
utmostfeudalcomplicity,'asmuchpartofthehouseasIam,mydear'.Nowherthinlipsofferedmeaproudlittlesmile.Shewouldbemyally
aslongasIwashis.Andwiththat,Imustbecontent.
But,here,itwouldbeeasytobecontent.Intheturretsuitehehadgivenmeformyveryown,IcouldgazeoutoverthetumultuousAtlanticand
imaginemyselftheQueenoftheSea.TherewasaBechsteinformeinthemusicroomand,onthewall,anotherweddingpresentanearly
FlemishprimitiveofSaintCeciliaathercelestialorgan.Intheprimcharmofthissaint,withherplump,sallowcheeksandcrinkledbrownhair,
IsawmyselfasIcouldhavewishedtobe.IwarmedtoalovingsensitivityIhadnothithertosuspectedinhim.Thenheledmeupadelicate
spiralstaircasetomybedroombeforeshediscreetlyvanished,thehousekeepersethimchucklingwithsome,Idaresay,lewdblessingfor
newlywedsinhernativeBreton.ThatIdidnotunderstand.Thathe,smiling,refusedtointerpret.

Andtherelaythegrand,hereditarymatrimonialbed,itselfthesize,almost,ofmylittleroomathome,withthegargoylescarvedonitssurfaces
ofebony,vermilionlacquer,goldleafanditswhitegauzecurtains,billowingintheseabreeze.Ourbed.Andsurroundedbysomanymirrors!
Mirrorsonallthewalls,instatelyframesofcontortedgold,thatreflectedmorewhiteliliesthanI'deverseeninmylifebefore.He'dfilledthe
roomwiththem,togreetthebride,theyoungbride.Theyoungbride,whohadbecomethatmultitudeofgirlsIsawinthemirrors,identicalin
theirchicnavybluetailormades,fortravelling,madame,orwalking.Amaidhaddealtwiththefurs.Henceforth,amaidwoulddealwith
everything.
'See,'hesaid,gesturingtowardsthoseelegantgirls.'Ihaveacquiredawholeharemformyself!'
IfoundthatIwastrembling.Mybreathcamethickly.Icouldnotmeethiseyeandturnedmyheadaway,outofpride,outofshyness,and
watchedadozenhusbandsapproachmeinadozenmirrorsandslowly,methodically,teasingly,unfastenthebuttonsofmyjacketandslipit
frommyshoulders.Enough!Nomore!Offcomestheskirtand,next,theblouseofapricotlinenthatcostmorethanthedressIhadforfirst
communion.Theplayofthewavesoutsideinthecoldsunglitteredonhismonoclehismovementsseemedtomedeliberatelycoarse,vulgar.
Thebloodrushedtomyfaceagain,andstayedthere.
Andyet,yousee,Iguesseditmightbesothatweshouldhaveaformaldisrobingofthebride,aritualfromthebrothel.Shelteredasmylife
hadbeen,howcouldIhavefailed,evenintheworldofprimbohemiainwhichIlived,tohaveheardhintsofhisworld?
Hestrippedme,gourmandthathewas,asifhewerestrippingtheleavesoffanartichokebutdonotimaginemuchfinesseaboutitthis
artichokewasnoparticulartreatforthedinernorwasheyetinanygreedyhaste.Heapproachedhisfamiliartreatwithawearyappetite.And
whennothingbutmyscarlet,palpitatingcoreremained,Isaw,inthemirror,thelivingimageofanetchingbyRopsfromthecollectionhehad
shownmewhenourengagementpermittedustobealonetogether...thechildwithhersticklikelimbs,nakedbutforherbuttonboots,her
gloves,shieldingherfacewithherhandasthoughherfacewerethelastrepositoryofhermodestyandtheold,monocledlecherwhoexamined
her,limbbylimb.HeinhisLondontailoringshe,bareasalambchop.Mostpornographicofallconfrontations.Andsomypurchaser
unwrappedhisbargain.And,asattheopera,whenIhadfirstseenmyfleshinhiseyes,Iwasaghasttofeelmyselfstirring.
AtonceheclosedmylegslikeabookandIsawagaintheraremovementofhislipsthatmeanthesmiled.
Notyet.Later.Anticipationisthegreaterpartofpleasure,mylittlelove.
AndIbegantoshudder,likearacehorsebeforearace,yetalsowithakindoffear,forIfeltbothastrange,impersonalarousalatthethoughtof
loveandatthesametimearepugnanceIcouldnotstifleforhiswhite,heavyfleshthathadtoomuchincommonwiththearmfulsofarumlilies
thatfilledmybedroomingreatglassjars,thoseundertakers'lilieswiththeheavypollenthatpowdersyourfingersasifyouhaddippedthemin
turmeric.TheliliesIalwaysassociatewithhimthatarewhite.Andstainyou.
Thisscenefromavoluptuary'slifewasnowabruptlyterminated.Itturnsouthehasbusinesstoattendtohisestates,hiscompaniesevenon
yourhoneymoon?Eventhen,saidtheredlipsthatkissedmebeforeheleftmealonewithmybewilderedsensesawet,silkenbrushfromhis
beardahintofthepointedtipofthetongue.Disgruntled,Iwrappedanegligeofantiquelacearoundmetosipthelittlebreakfastofhot
chocolatethemaidbroughtmeafterthat,sinceitwassecondnaturetome,therewasnowheretogobutthemusicroomandsoonIsettleddown
atmypiano.
Yetonlyaseriesofsubtlediscordsflowedfrombeneathmyfingers:outoftune...onlyalittleoutoftunebutI'dbeenblessedwithperfect
pitchandcouldnotbeartoplayanymore.SeabreezesarebadforpianosweshallneedaresidentpianotuneronthepremisesifI'mtocontinue
withmystudies!IflungdownthelidinalittlefuryofdisappointmentwhatshouldIdonow,howshallIpassthelong,sealithoursuntilmy
husbandbedsme?
Ishiveredtothinkofthat.
HislibraryseemedthesourceofhishabitualodourofRussianleather.Rowuponrowofcalfboundvolumes,brownandolive,withgilt
letteringontheirspines,theoctavoinbrilliantscarletmorocco.Adeepbuttonedleathersofatoreclineon.Alectern,carvedlikeaspreadeagle,
thatheldopenuponitaneditionofHuysmans'sLbas,fromsomeoverexquisiteprivatepressithadbeenboundlikeamissal,inbrass,with
gemsofcolouredglass.Therugsonthefloor,deep,pulsingbluesofheavenandredoftheheart'sdearestblood,camefromIsfahanand
Bokharathedarkpanellinggleamedtherewasthelullingmusicoftheseaandafireofapplelogs.Theflamesflickeredalongthespinesinside
aglassfrontedcasethatheldbooksstillcrispandnew.EliphasLevythenamemeantnothingtome.Isquintedatatitleortwo:TheInitiation,
TheKeyofMysteries,TheSecretofPandora'sBox,andyawned.Nothing,here,todetainaseventeenyearoldgirlwaitingforherfirstembrace.
Ishouldhaveliked,bestofall,anovelinyellowpaperIwantedtocurlupontherugbeforetheblazingfire,losemyselfinacheapnovel,
munchstickyliqueurchocolates.IfIrangforthem,amaidwouldbringmechocolates.
Nevertheless,Iopenedthedoorsofthatbookcaseidlytobrowse.AndIthinkIknew,Iknewbysometinglingofthefingertips,evenbeforeI
openedthatslimvolumewithnotitleatallonthespine,whatIshouldfindinsideit.WhenheshowedmetheRops,newlybought,dearly
prized,hadhenothintedthathewasaconnoisseurofsuchthings?YetIhadnotbargainedforthis,thegirlwithtearshangingonhercheekslike
stuckpearls,hercuntasplitfigbelowthegreatglobesofherbuttocksonwhichtheknottedtailsofthecatwereabouttodescend,whileaman
inablackmaskfingeredwithhisfreehandhisprick,thatcurvedupwardslikethescimitarheheld.Thepicturehadacaption:'Reproofof
curiosity'.Mymother,withalltheprecisionofhereccentricity,hadtoldmewhatitwasthatloversdidIwasinnocentbutnotnave.The
AdventuresofEulalieattheHaremoftheGrandTurkhadbeenprinted,accordingtotheflyleaf,inAmsterdamin1748,ararecollector'spiece.
Hadsomeancestorbroughtitbackhimselffromthatnortherncity?Orhadmyhusbandboughtitforhimself,fromoneofthosedustylittle
bookshopsontheLeftBankwhereanoldmanpeersatyouthroughspectaclesaninchthick,daringyoutoinspecthiswares...Iturnedthe
pagesintheanticipationoffeartheprintwasrusty.Herewasanothersteelengraving:'ImmolationofthewivesoftheSultan'.Iknewenough
forwhatIsawinthatbooktomakemegasp.
Therewasapungentintensificationoftheodourofleatherthatsuffusedhislibraryhisshadowfellacrossthemassacre.
'Mylittlenunhasfoundtheprayerbooks,hasshe?'hedemanded,withacuriousmixtureofmockeryandrelishthen,seeingmypainful,furious
bewilderment,helaughedatmealoud,snatchedthebookfrommyhandsandputitdownonthesofa.
'HavethenastypicturesscaredBaby?Babymustn'tplaywithgrownups'toysuntilshe'slearnedhowtohandlethem,mustshe?'
Thenhekissedme.Andwith,thistime,noreticence.Hekissedmeandlaidhishandimperativelyuponmybreast,beneaththesheathofancient
lace.Istumbledonthewindingstairthatledtothebedroom,tothecarved,gildedbedonwhichhehadbeenconceived.Istammeredfoolishly:
We'venottakenluncheonyetand,besides,itisbroaddaylight...
Allthebettertoseeyou.
Hemademeputonmychoker,thefamilyheirloomofonewomanwhohadescapedtheblade.Withtremblingfingers,Ifastenedthething
aboutmyneck.Itwascoldasiceandchilledme.Hetwinedmyhairintoaropeandlifteditoffmyshoulderssothathecouldthebetterkissthe
downyfurrowsbelowmyearsthatmademeshudder.Andhekissedthoseblazingrubies,too.Hekissedthembeforehekissedmymouth.
Rapt,heintoned:'Ofherapparelsheretains/Onlyhersonorousjewellery.'

Adozenhusbandsimpaledadozenbrideswhilethemewinggullsswungoninvisibletrapezesintheemptyairoutside.
Iwasbroughttomysensesbytheinsistentshrillingofthetelephone.Helaybesideme,felledlikeanoak,breathingstertorously,asifhehad
beenfightingwithme.Inthecourseofthatonesidedstruggle,Ihadseenhisdeathlycomposureshatterlikeaporcelainvaseflungagainsta
wallIhadheardhimshriekandblasphemeattheorgasmIhadbled.AndperhapsIhadseenhisfacewithoutitsmaskandperhapsIhadnot.
YetIhadbeeninfinitelydishevelledbythelossofmyvirginity.
Igatheredmyselftogether,reachedintothecloisonnecupboardbesidethebedthatconcealedthetelephoneandaddressedthemouthpiece.His
agentinNewYork.Urgent.
Ishookhimawakeandrolledoveronmyside,cradlingmyspentbodyinmyarms.Hisvoicebuzzedlikeahiveofdistantbees.Myhusband.
Myhusband,who,withsomuchlove,filledmybedroomwithliliesuntilitlookedlikeanembalmingparlour.Thosesomnolentlilies,thatwave
theirheavyheads,distributingtheirlush,insolentincensereminiscentofpamperedflesh.
Whenhe'dfinishedwiththeagent,heturnedtomeandstrokedtherubynecklacethatbitintomyneck,butwithsuchtendernessnow,thatI
ceasedflinchingandhecaressedmybreasts.Mydearone,mylittlelove,mychild,didithurther?He'ssosorryforit,suchimpetuousness,he
couldnothelphimselfyousee,helovesherso...andthislover'srecitativeofhisbroughtmytearsinaflood.Iclungtohimasthoughonlythe
onewhohadinflictedthepaincouldcomfortmeforsufferingit.Forawhile,hemurmuredtomeinavoiceI'dneverheardbefore,avoicelike
thesoftconsolationsofthesea.Butthenheunwoundthetendrilsofmyhairfromthebuttonsofhissmokingjacket,kissedmycheekbriskly
andtoldmetheagentfromNewYorkhadcalledwithsuchurgentbusinessthathemustleaveassoonasthetidewaslowenough.Leavethe
castle?LeaveFrance!Andwouldbeawayforatleastsixweeks.
'Butitisourhoneymoon!'
Adeal,anenterpriseofhazardandchanceinvolvingseveralmillions,layinthebalance,hesaid.Hedrewawayfrommeintothatwaxworks
stillnessofhisIwasonlyalittlegirl,Ididnotunderstand.And,hesaidunspokentomywoundedvanity,Ihavehadtoomanyhoneymoonsto
findthemintheleastpressingcommitments.IknowquitewellthatthischildI'veboughtwithahandfulofcolouredstonesandthepeltsofdead
beastswon'trunaway.But,afterhe'dcalledhisParisagenttobookapassagefortheStatesnextdayjustonetinycall,mylittleoneweshould
havetimefordinnertogether.
AndIhadtobecontentwiththat,
AMexicandishofpheasantwithhazelnutsandchocolatesaladwhite,voluptuouscheeseasorbetofmuscatgrapesandAstispumante.A
celebrationofKrugexplodedfestively.Andthenacridblackcoffeeinpreciouslittlecupssofineitshadowedthebirdswithwhichtheywere
painted.IhadCointreau,hehadcognacinthelibrary,withthepurplevelvetcurtainsdrawnagainstthenight,wherehetookmetoperchonhis
kneeinaleatherarmchairbesidetheflickeringlogfire.HehadmademechangeintothatchastelittlePoiretshiftofwhitemuslinheseemed
especiallyfondofit,mybreastsshowedthroughtheflimsystuff,hesaid,likelittlesoftwhitedovesthatsleep,eachone,withapinkeyeopen.
Buthewouldnotletmetakeoffmyrubychoker,althoughitwasgrowingveryuncomfortable,norfastenupmydescendinghair,thesignofa
virginitysorecentlyrupturedthatstillremainedawoundedpresencebetweenus.HetwinedhisfingersinmyhairuntilIwincedIsaid,I
remember,verylittle.
'Themaidwillhavechangedoursheetsalready,'hesaid.'WedonothangthebloodysheetsoutofthewindowtoprovetothewholeofBrittany
youareavirgin,notinthesecivilizedtimes.ButIshouldtellyouitwouldhavebeenthefirsttimeinallmymarriedlivesIcouldhaveshown
myinterestedtenantssuchaflag.'
ThenIrealized,withashockofsurprise,howitmusthavebeenmyinnocencethatcaptivatedhimthesilentmusic,hesaid,ofmy
unknowingness,likeLaTerrassedesaudiencesauclairdeluneplayeduponapianowithkeysofether.YoumustrememberhowillateaseI
wasinthatluxuriousplace,howuneasehadbeenmyconstantcompanionduringthewholelengthofmycourtshipbythisgravesatyrwhonow
gentlymartyrizedmyhair.Toknowthatmynaivetygavehimsomepleasuremademetakeheart.Courage!Ishallactthefineladytothe
mannerbornoneday,ifonlybyvirtueofdefault.
Then,slowlyyetteasingly,asifheweregivingachildagreat,mysterioustreat,hetookoutabunchofkeysfromsomeinteriorhideyholein
hisjacketkeyafterkey,akey,hesaid,foreverylockinthehouse.Keysofallkindshuge,ancientthingsofblackironothersslender,
delicate,almostbaroquewaferthinYalekeysforsafesandboxes.And,duringhisabsence,itwasIwhomusttakecareofthemall.
Ieyedtheheavybunchwithcircumspection.Untilthatmoment,Ihadnotgivenasinglethoughttothepracticalaspectsofmarriagewithagreat
house,greatwealth,agreatman,whosekeyringwasascrowdedasthatofaprisonwarder.Hereweretheclumsyandarchaickeysforthe
dungeons,fordungeonswehadinplentyalthoughtheyhadbeenconvertedtocellarsforhiswinesthedustybottlesinhabitedinracksallthose
deepholesofpainintherockonwhichthecastlewasbuilt.Thesearethekeystothekitchens,thisisthekeytothepicturegallery,atreasure
housefilledbyfivecenturiesofavidcollectorsah!heforesawIwouldspendhoursthere.
HehadamplyindulgedhistastefortheSymbolists,hetoldmewithaglintofgreed.TherewasMoreau'sgreatportraitofhisfirstwife,the
famousSacrificialVictimwiththeimprintofthelacelikechainsonherpellucidskin.DidIknowthestoryofthepaintingofthatpicture?How,
whenshetookoffherclothesforhimforthefirsttime,shefreshfromherbarinMontmartre,shehadrobedherselfinvoluntarilyinablushthat
reddenedherbreasts,hershoulders,herarms,herwholebody?Hehadthoughtofthatstory,ofthatdeargirl,whenfirsthehadundressedme...
Ensor,thegreatEnsor,hismonolithiccanvas:TheFoolishVirgins.TwoorthreelateGauguins,hisspecialfavouritetheoneofthetranced
browngirlinthedesertedhousewhichwascalled:OutoftheNightWeCome,IntotheNightWeGo.And,besidestheadditionshehadmade
himself,hismarvellousinheritanceofWatteaus,PoussinsandapairofveryspecialFragonards,commissionedforalicentiousancestorwho,it
wassaid,hadposedforthemaster'sbrushhimselfwithhisowntwodaughters...Hebrokeoffhiscatalogueoftreasuresabruptly.
Yourthinwhiteface,chriehesaid,asifhesawitforthefirsttime.Yourthinwhiteface,withitspromiseofdebaucheryonlyaconnoisseur
coulddetect.
Alogfellinthefire,instigatingashowerofsparkstheopalonmyfingerspurtedgreenflame.IfeltasgiddyasifIwereontheedgeofa
precipiceIwasafraid,notsomuchofhim,ofhismonstrouspresence,heavyasifhehadbeengiftedatbirthwithmorespecificgravitythanthe
restofus,thepresencethat,evenwhenIthoughtmyselfmostinlovewithhim,alwayssubtlyoppressedme...No.Iwasnotafraidofhimbut
ofmyself.Iseemedreborninhisunreflectiveeyes,reborninunfamiliarshapes.Ihardlyrecognizedmyselffromhisdescriptionsofmeandyet,
andyetmighttherenotbeagrainofbeastlytruthhithem?And,intheredfirelight,Iblushedagain,unnoticed,tothinkhemighthavechosen
mebecause,inmyinnocence,hesensedararetalentforcorruption.
Hereisthekeytothechinacabinetdon'tlaugh,mydarlingthere'saking'sransominSvresinthatcloset,andaqueen'sransominLimoges.
Andakeytothelocked,barredroomwherefivegenerationsofplatewerekept.
Keys,keys,keys.Hewouldtrustmewiththekeystohisoffice,althoughIwasonlyababyandthekeystohissafes,wherehekeptthejewelsI
shouldwear,hepromisedme,whenwereturnedtoParis.Suchjewels!Why,Iwouldbeabletochangemyearringsandnecklacesthreetimesa
day,justastheEmpressJosephineusedtochangeherunderwear.Hedoubted,hesaid,withthathollow,knockingsoundthatservedhimfora
chuckle,Iwouldbequitesointerestedinhissharecertificatesalthoughthey,ofcourse,wereworthinfinitelymore.

Outsideourfirelitprivacy,Icouldhearthesoundofthetidedrawingbackfromthepebblesoftheforeshoreitwasnearlytimeforhimtoleave
me.Onesinglekeyremainedunaccountedforontheringandhehesitatedoveritforamoment,Ithoughthewasgoingtounfastenitfromits
brothers,slipitbackintohispocketandtakeitawaywithhim.
'Whatisthatkey?'Idemanded,forhischaffinghadmademebold.'Thekeytoyourheart?Giveitme!'
Hedangledthekeytantalizinglyabovemyhead,outofreachofmystrainingfingersthosebareredlipsofhiscrackedsidelonginasmile.
'Ah,no,'hesaid.'Notthekeytomyheart.Rather,thekeytomyenfer.'
Heleftitonthering,fastenedtheringtogether,shookitmusically,likeacarillon.Thenthrewthekeysinajinglingheapinmylap.Icouldfeel
thecoldmetalchillingmythighsthroughmythinmuslinfrock.Hebentovermetodropabeardmaskedkissonmyforehead.
'Everymanmusthaveonesecret,evenifonlyone,fromhiswife,'hesaid.'Promisemethis,mywheyfacedpianoplayerpromisemeyou'lluse
allthekeysontheringexceptthatlastlittleoneIshowedyou.Playwithanythingyoufind,jewels,silverplatemaketoyboatsofmyshare
certificates,ifitpleasesyou,andsendthemsailingofftoAmericaafterme.Allisyours,everywhereisopentoyouexceptthelockthatthis
singlekeyfits.Yetallitisisthekeytoalittleroomatthefootofthewesttower,behindthestillroom,attheendofadarklittlecorridorfullof
horridcobwebsthatwouldgetintoyourhairandfrightenyouifyouventuredthere.Oh,andyou'dfinditsuchadulllittleroom!Butyoumust
promiseme,ifyouloveme,toleaveitwellalone.Itisonlyaprivatestudy,ahideaway,a"den",astheEnglishsay,whereIcango,sometimes,
onthoseinfrequentyetinevitableoccasionswhentheyokeofmarriageseemstoweightooheavilyonmyshoulders.ThereIcango,you
understand,tosavourtherarepleasureofimaginingmyselfwifeless.'
Therewasalittlethinstarlightinthecourtyardas,wrappedinmyfurs,Isawhimtohiscar.Hislastwordswere,thathehadtelephonedthe
mainlandandtakenapianotunerontothestaffthismanwouldarrivetotakeuphisdutiesthenextday.Hepressedmetohisvicuabreast,
once,andthendroveaway.
IhaddrowsedawaythatafternoonandnowIcouldnotsleep.Ilaytossingandturninginhisancestralbeduntilanotherdaybreakdiscoloured
thedozenmirrorsthatwereiridescentwiththereflectionsofthesea.TheperfumeoftheliliesweighedonmysenseswhenIthoughtthat,
henceforth,Iwouldalwayssharethesesheetswithamanwhoseskin,astheirsdid,containedthattoadlike,clammyhintofmoisture,Ifelta
vaguedesolationthatwithinme,nowmyfemalewoundhadhealed,therehadawokenacertainqueasycravinglikethecravingsofpregnant
womenforthetasteofcoalorchalkortaintedfood,fortherenewalofhiscaresses.Hadhenothintedtome,inhisfleshasinhisspeechand
looks,ofthethousand,thousandbaroqueintersectionsoffleshuponflesh?Ilayinourwidebedaccompaniedby,asleeplesscompanion,my
darknewborncuriosity.
Ilayinbedalone.AndIlongedforhim.Andhedisgustedme.
Weretherejewelsenoughinallhissafestorecompensemeforthispredicament?Didallthatcastleholdenoughrichestorecompensemefor
thecompanyofthelibertinewithwhomImustshareit?Andwhat,precisely,wasthenatureofmydesirousdreadforthismysteriousbeing
who,toshowhismasteryoverme,hadabandonedmeonmyweddingnight?
ThenIsatstraightupinbed,underthesardonicmasksofthegargoylescarvedaboveme,rivenbyawildsurmise.Mighthehaveleftme,notfor
WallStreetbutforanimportunatemistresstuckedawayGodknowswherewhoknewhowtopleasurehimfarbetterthanagirlwhosefingers
hadbeenexercised,hitherto,onlybythepracticeofscalesandarpeggios?And,slowly,soothed,IsankbackontotheheapingpillowsI
acknowledgedthatthejealousscareI'djustgivenmyselfwasnotunmixedwithalittletinctureofrelief.
AtlastIdriftedintoslumber,asdaylightfilledtheroomandchasedbaddreamsaway.ButthelastthingIremembered,beforeIslept,wasthe
talljarofliliesbesidethebed,howthethickglassdistortedtheirfatstemssotheylookedlikearms,dismemberedarms,driftingdrownedin
greenishwater.
Coffeeandcroissantstoconsolethisbridal,solitarywaking.Delicious.Honey,too,inasectionofcombonaglasssaucer.Themaidsqueezed
thearomaticjuicefromanorangeintoachilledgobletwhileIwatchedherasIlayinthelazy,middaybedoftherich.Yetnothing,this
morning,gavememorethanafleetingpleasureexcepttohearthatthepianotunerhadbeenatworkalready.Whenthemaidtoldmethat,I
sprangoutofbedandpulledonmyoldsergeskirtandflannelblouse,costumeofastudent,inwhichIfeltfarmoreateasewithmyselfthanin
anyofmyfinenewclothes.
Aftermythreehoursofpractice,Icalledthepianotunerin,tothankhim.Hewasblind,ofcoursebutyoung,withagentlemouthandgreyeyes
thatfixeduponmealthoughtheycouldnotseeme.Hewasablacksmith'ssonfromthevillageacrossthecausewayachoristerinthechurch
whomthegoodpriesthadtaughtatradesothathecouldmakealiving.Allmostsatisfactory.Yes.Hethoughthewouldbehappyhere.Andif,
headdedshyly,hemightsometimesbeallowedtohearmeplay...for,yousee,helovedmusic.Yes.Ofcourse,Isaid.Certainly.Heseemedto
knowthatIhadsmiled.
AfterIdismissedhim,eventhoughI'dwokensolate,itwasstillbarelytimeformy'fiveo'clock'.Thehousekeeper,who,thoughtfully
forewarnedbymyhusband,hadrestrainedherselffrominterruptingmymusic,nowmademeasolemnvisitationwithalengthymenuforalate
luncheon.WhenItoldherIdidnotneedit,shelookedatmeobliquely,alonghernose.Iunderstoodatoncethatoneofmyprincipalfunctions
aschatelainewastoprovideworkforthestaff.But,allthesame,IassertedmyselfandsaidIwouldwaituntildinnertime,althoughIlooked
forwardnervouslytothesolitarymeal.ThenIfoundIhadtotellherwhatIwouldliketohavepreparedformemyimagination,stillthatofa
schoolgirl,ranriot.AfowlincreamorshouldIanticipateChristmaswithavarnishedturkey?NoIhavedecided.Avocadoandshrimp,lotsof
it,followedbynoentreatall.Butsurprisemefordessertwitheveryicecreamintheicebox.ShenotedalldownbutsniffedI'dshockedher.
Suchtastes!ChildthatIwas,Igiggledwhensheleftme.
But,now...whatshallIdo,now?
Icouldhavespentahappyhourunpackingthetrunksthatcontainedmytrousseaubutthemaidhaddonethatalready,thedresses,thetailor
madeshunginthewardrobeinmydressingroom,thehatsonwoodenheadstokeeptheirshape,theshoesonwoodenfeetasifallthese
inanimateobjectswereimitatingtheappearanceoflife,tomockme.Ididnotliketolingerinmyovercrowdeddressingroom,norinmy
lugubriouslylilyscentedbedroom.HowshallIpassthetime?
Ishalltakeabathinmyownbathroom!Andfoundthetapswerelittledolphinsmadeofgold,withchipsofturquoiseforeyes.Andtherewasa
tankofgoldfish,whoswaminandoutofmovingfrondsofweeds,asbored,Ithought,asIwas.HowIwishedhehadnotleftme.HowIwished
itwerepossibletochatwith,say,amaidor,thepianotuner...butIknewalreadymynewrankforbadeoverturesoffriendshiptothestaff.
IhadbeenhopingtodeferthecallaslongasIcould,sothatIshouldhavesomethingtolookforwardtointhedeadwasteoftimeIforesaw
beforeme,aftermydinnerwasdonewith,but,ataquarterbeforeseven,whendarknessalreadysurroundedthecastle,Icouldcontainmyselfno
longer.Itelephonedmymother.AndastonishedmyselfbyburstingintotearswhenIheardhervoice.
No,nothingwasthematter.Mother,Ihavegoldbathtaps.
Isaid,goldbathtaps!

NoIsupposethat'snothingtocryabout,Mother.
Thelinewasbad,Icouldhardlymakeouthercongratulations,herquestions,herconcern,butIwasalittlecomfortedwhenIputthereceiver
down.
Yettherestillremainedonewholehourtodinnerandthewhole,unimaginabledesertoftherestoftheevening.
Thebunchofkeyslay,wherehehadleftthem,ontherugbeforethelibraryfirewhichhadwarmedtheirmetalsothattheynolongerfeltcoldto
thetouchbutwarm,almost,asmyownskin.HowcarelessIwasamaid,tendingthelogs,eyedmereproachfullyasifI'dsetatrapforherasI
pickeduptheclinkingbundleofkeys,thekeystotheinteriordoorsofthislovelyprisonofwhichIwasboththeinmateandthemistressand
hadscarcelyseen.WhenIrememberedthat,Ifelttheexhilarationoftheexplorer.
Lights!Morelights!
Atthetouchofaswitch,thedreaminglibrarywasbrilliantlyilluminated.Irancrazilyaboutthecastle,switchingoneverylightIcouldfindI
orderedtheservantstolightupalltheirquarters,too,sothecastlewouldshinelikeaseabornebirthdaycakelitwithathousandcandles,onefor
everyyearofitslife,andeverybodyonshorewouldwonderatit.WheneverythingwaslitasbrightlyasthecafintheGareduNord,the
significanceofthepossessionsimpliedbythatbunchofkeysnolongerintimidatedme,forIwasdetermined,now,tosearchthroughthemall
forevidenceofmyhusband'struenature.Hisofficefirst,evidently.
Amahoganydeskhalfamilewide,withanimpeccableblotterandabankoftelephones.Iallowedmyselftheluxuryofopeningthesafethat
containedthejewelleryanddelvedsufficientlyamongtheleatherboxestofindouthowmymarriagehadgivenmeaccesstoajinn'streasury
parures,bracelets,rings...WhileIwasthussurroundedbydiamonds,amaidknockedonthedoorandenteredbeforeIspokeasubtle
discourtesy.Iwouldspeaktomyhusbandaboutit.Sheeyedmysergeskirtsuperciliouslydidmadameplantodressfordinner?
ShemadeamoueofdisdainwhenIlaughedtohearthat,shewasfarmoretheladythanI.But,imaginetodressupinoneofmyPoiret
extravaganzas,withthejewelledturbanandaigretteonmyhead,ropedwithpearltothenavel,tositdownallaloneinthebaronialdininghallat
theheadofthatmassiveboardatwhichKingMarkwasreputedtohavefedhisknights...Igrewcalmerunderthecoldeyeofherdisapproval.I
adoptedthecrispinflectionsofanofficer'sdaughter.No,Iwouldnotdressfordinner.Furthermore,Iwasnothungryenoughfordinneritself.
ShemusttellthehousekeepertocancelthedormitoryfeastI'dordered.Couldtheyleavemesandwichesandaflaskofcoffeeinmymusic
room?Andwouldtheyalldismissforthenight?
Maisoui,madame.
IknewbyherbereftintonationIhadletthemdownagainbutIdidnotcareIwasarmedagainstthembythebrillianceofhishoard.ButIwould
notfindhisheartamongsttheglitteringstonesassoonasshehadgone,Ibeganasystematicsearchofthedrawersofhisdesk.
Allwasinorder,soIfoundnothing.Notarandomdoodleonanoldenvelope,northefadedphotographofawoman.Onlythefilesofbusiness
correspondence,thebillsfromthehomefarms,theinvoicesfromtailors,thebilletsdouxfrominternationalfinanciers.Nothing.Andthis
absenceoftheevidenceofhisreallifebegantoimpressmestrangelytheremust,Ithought,beagreatdealtoconcealifhetakessuchpainsto
hideit.
Hisofficewasasingularlyimpersonalroom,facinginwards,ontothecourtyard,asthoughhewantedtoturnhisbackonthesirenseainorder
tokeepaclearheadwhilehebankruptedasmallbusinessmaninAmsterdamorInoticedwithathrillofdistasteengagedinsomebusinessin
Laosthatmust,fromcertaincrypticreferencestohisamateurbotanist'senthusiasmforrarepoppies,betodowithopium.Washenotrich
enoughtodowithoutcrime?Orwasthecrimeitselfhisprofit?AndyetIsawenoughtoappreciatehiszealforsecrecy.
NowIhadransackedhisdesk,ImustspendacoolheadedquarterofanhourputtingeverylastletterbackwhereIhadfoundit,and,asI
coveredthetracesofmyvisit,bysomechance,asIreachedinsidealittledrawerthathadstuckfast,Imusthavetouchedahiddenspring,fora
secretdrawerflewopenwithinthatdraweritselfandthissecretdrawercontainedatlast!afilemarked:Personal.
Iwasalone,butformyreflectionintheuncurtainedwindow.
Ihadthebriefnotionthathisheart,pressedflatasaflower,crimsonandthinastissuepaper,layinthisfile.Itwasaverythinone.
Icouldhavewished,perhaps,Ihadnotfoundthattouching,illspeltnote,onapapernapkinmarkedLaCoupole,thatbegan:'Mydarling,I
cannotwaitforthemomentwhenyoumaymakemeyourscompletely.'ThedivahadsenthimapageofthescoreofTristan,theLiebestod,with
thesingle,crypticword:'Until...'scrawledacrossit.Butthestrangestofalltheseloveletterswasapostcardwithaviewofavillagegraveyard,
amongmountains,wheresomeblackcoatedghoulenthusiasticallydugatagravethislittlescene,executedwiththeluridexuberanceofGrand
Guignol,wascaptioned:'TypicalTransylvanianSceneMidnight,AllHallows.'And,ontheotherside,themessage:'Ontheoccasionofthis
marriagetothedescendantofDraculaalwaysremember,"thesupremeanduniquepleasureofloveisthecertaintythatoneisdoingevil".
Toutesamitis,C.'
Ajoke.AjokeintheworstpossibletasteforhadhenotbeenmarriedtoaRomaniancountess?AndthenIrememberedherpretty,wittyface,
andhernameCarmilla.Mymostrecentpredecessorinthiscastlehadbeen,itwouldseem,themostsophisticated.
Iputawaythefile,sobered.Nothinginmylifeoffamilyloveandmusichadpreparedmeforthesegrownupgamesandyetthesewerecluesto
hisselfthatshowedme,atleast,howmuchhehadbeenloved,eveniftheydidnotrevealanygoodreasonforit.ButIwantedtoknowstill
moreand,asIclosedtheofficedoorandlockedit,themeanstodiscovermorefellinmyway.
Fell,indeedandwiththeclatterofadroppedcanteenofcutlery,for,asIturnedtheslickYalelock,Icontrived,somehow,toopenupthekey
ringitself,sothatallthekeystumbledlooseonthefloor.AndtheveryfirstkeyIpickedoutofthatpilewas,asluckorillfortunehadit,thekey
totheroomhehadforbiddenme,theroomhewouldkeepforhisownsothathecouldgotherewhenhewishedtofeelhimselfoncemorea
bachelor.
ImademydecisiontoexploreitbeforeIfeltafaintresurgenceofmyilldefinedfearofhiswaxenstillness.PerhapsIhalfimagined,then,thatI
mightfindhisrealselfinhisden,waitingtheretoseeifindeedIhadobeyedhimthathehadsentamovingfigureofhimselftoNewYork,the
enigmatic,selfsustainingcarapaceofhispublicperson,whiletherealman,whosefaceIhadglimpsedinthestormoforgasm,occupiedhimself
withpressingprivatebusinessinthestudyatthefootofthewesttower,behindthestillroom.Yet,ifthatwereso,itwasimperativethatI
shouldfindhim,shouldknowhimandIwastoodeludedbyhisapparenttasteformetothinkmydisobediencemighttrulyoffendhim.
Itooktheforbiddenkeyfromtheheapandlefttheotherslyingthere.
Itwasnowverylateandthecastlewasadrift,asfarasitcouldgofromtheland,inthemiddleofthesilentoceanwhere,atmyorders,itfloated,
likeagarlandoflight.Andallsilent,allstill,butforthemurmuringofthewaves.
Ifeltnofear,nointimationofdread.NowIwalkedasfirmlyasIhaddoneinmymother'shouse.
Notanarrow,dustylittlepassageatallwhyhadheliedtome?Butanilllitone,certainlytheelectricity,forsomereason,didnotextendhere,

soIretreatedtothestillroomandfoundabundleofwaxedtapersinacupboard,storedtherewithmatchestolighttheoakboardatgrand
dinners.Iputamatchtomylittletaperandadvancedwithitinmyhand,likeapenitent,alongthecorridorhungwithheavy,IthinkVenetian,
tapestries.Theflamepickedout,here,theheadofaman,there,therichbreastofawomanspillingthrougharentinherdresstheRapeofthe
Sabines,perhaps?Thenakedswordsandimmolatedhorsessuggestedsomegrislymythologicalsubject.Thecorridorwounddownwardsthere
wasanalmostimperceptibleramptothethicklycarpetedfloor.Theheavyhangingsonthewallmuffledmyfootsteps,evenmybreathing.For
somereason,itgrewverywarmthesweatsprangoutinbeadsonmybrow.Icouldnolongerhearthesoundofthesea.
Along,awindingcorridor,asifIwereinthevisceraofthecastleandthiscorridorledtoadoorofwormeatenoak,low,roundtopped,barred
withblackiron.
AndstillIfeltnofear,noraisingofthehairsonthebackoftheneck,nopricklingofthethumbs.
Thekeyslidintothenewlockaseasilyasahotknifeintobutter.
Nofearbutahesitation,aholdingofthespiritualbreath.
IfIhadfoundsometracesofhisheartinafilemarked:Personal,perhaps,here,inhissubterraneanprivacy,Imightfindalittleofhissoul.It
wastheconsciousnessofthepossibilityofsuchadiscovery,ofitspossiblestrangeness,thatkeptmeforamomentmotionless,before,inthe
foolhardinessofmyalreadysubtlytaintedinnocence,Iturnedthekeyandthedoorcreakedslowlyback.
'Thereisastrikingresemblancebetweentheactofloveandtheministrationsofatorturer,'opinedmyhusband'sfavouritepoetIhadlearned
somethingofthenatureofthatsimilarityonmymarriagebed.Andnowmytapershowedmetheoutlinesofarack.Therewasalsoagreat
wheel,liketheonesIhadseeninwoodcutsofthemartyrdomsofthesaints,inmyoldnurse'slittlestoreofholybooks.Andjustoneglimpseof
itbeforemylittleflamecavedinandIwasleftinabsolutedarknessametalfigure,hingedattheside,whichIknewtobespikedontheinside
andtohavethename:theIronMaiden.
Absolutedarkness.And,aboutme,theinstrumentsofmutilation.
Untilthatmoment,thisspoiledchilddidnotknowshehadinheritednervesandawillfromthemotherwhohaddefiedtheyellowoutlawsof
IndoChinaMymother'sspiritdrovemeon,intothatdreadfulplace,inacoldecstasytoknowtheveryworst.Ifumbledforthematchesinmy
pocketwhatadim,lugubriouslighttheygave!Andyet,enough,oh,morethanenough,toseearoomdesignedfordesecrationandsomedark
nightofunimaginableloverswhoseembraceswereannihilation.
Thewallsofthisstarktorturechamberwerethenakedrocktheygleamedasiftheyweresweatingwithfright.Atthefourcornersoftheroom
werefuneraryurns,ofgreatantiquity,Etruscan,perhaps,and,onthreeleggedebonystands,thebowlsofincensehehadleftburningwhich
filledtheroomwithasacerdotalreek.Wheel,rackandIronMaidenwere,Isaw,displayedasgrandlyasiftheywereitemsofstatuaryandIwas
almostconsoled,then,andalmostpersuadedmyselfthatImighthavestumbledonlyuponalittlemuseumofhisperversity,thathehadinstalled
thesemonstrousitemshereonlyforcontemplation.
Yetatthecentreoftheroomlayacatafalque,adoomed,ominousbierofRenaissanceworkmanship,surroundedbylongwhitecandlesand,at
itsfoot,anarmfulofthesamelilieswithwhichhehadfilledmybedroom,stowedinafourfoothighjarglazedwithasombreChinesered.I
scarcelydaredexaminethiscatafalqueanditsoccupantmorecloselyyetIknewImust.
EachtimeIstruckamatchtolightthosecandlesroundherbed,itseemedagarmentofthatinnocenceofmineforwhichhehadlustedfellaway
fromme.
Theoperasingerlay,quitenaked,underathinsheetofveryrareandpreciouslinen,suchastheprincesofItalyusedtoshroudthosewhomthey
hadpoisoned.Itouchedher,verygently,onthewhitebreastshewascool,hehadembalmedher.OnherthroatIcouldseetheblueimprintof
hisstrangler'sfingers.Thecool,sadflameofthecandlesflickeredonherwhite,closedeyelids.Theworstthingwas,thedeadlipssmiled.
Beyondthecatafalque,inthemiddleoftheshadows,awhite,nacreousglimmerasmyeyesaccustomedthemselvestothegatheringdarkness,I
atlastoh,horrors!madeoutaskullyes,askull,soutterlydenuded,now,offlesh,thatitscarcelyseemedpossiblethestarkbonehadonce
beenrichlyupholsteredwithlife.Andthisskullwasstrungupbyasystemofunseencords,sothatitappearedtohang,disembodied,inthestill,
heavyair,andithadbeencrownedwithawreathofwhiteroses,andaveiloflace,thefinalimageofhisbride.
Yettheskullwasstillsobeautiful,hadshapedwithitssheerplanessoimperiouslythefacethathadonceexistedaboveit,thatIrecognizedher
themomentIsawherfaceoftheeveningstarwalkingontherimofnight.Onefalsestep,oh,mypoor,deargirl,nextinthefatedsisterhoodof
hiswivesonefalsestepandintotheabyssofthedarkyoustumbled.
Andwherewasshe,thelatestdead,theRomaniancountesswhomighthavethoughtherbloodwouldsurvivehisdepredations?Iknewshemust
behere,intheplacethathadwoundmethroughthecastletowardsitonaspoolofinexorability.But,atfirst,Icouldseenosignofher.Then,
forsomereasonperhapssomechangeofatmospherewroughtbymypresencethemetalshelloftheIronMaidenemittedaghostlytwangmy
feverishimaginationmighthaveguesseditsoccupantwastryingtoclamberout,though,eveninthemidstofmyrisinghysteria,Iknewshe
mustbedeadtofindahomethere.
Withtremblingfingers,Iprisedopenthefrontoftheuprightcoffin,withitssculptedfacecaughtinarictusofpain.Then,overcome,Idropped
thekeyIstillheldinmyotherhand.Itdroppedintotheformingpoolofherblood.
Shewaspierced,notbyonebutbyahundredspikes,thischildofthelandofthevampireswhoseemedsonewlydead,sofullofblood...oh
God!howrecentlyhadhebecomeawidower?Howlonghadhekeptherinthisobscenecell?Haditbeenallthetimehehadcourtedme,inthe
clearlightofParis?
Iclosedthelidofhercoffinverygentlyandburstintoatumultofsobbingthatcontainedbothpityforhisothervictimsandalsoadreadful
anguishtoknowI,too,wasoneofthem.
Thecandlesflared,asifinadraughtfromadoortoelsewhere.Thelightcaughtthefireopalonmyhandsothatitflashed,once,withabaleful
light,asiftotellmetheeyeofGodhiseyewasuponme.Myfirstthought,whenIsawtheringforwhichIhadsoldmyselftothisfate,was,
howtoescapeit.
Iretainedsufficientpresenceofmindtosnuffoutthecandlesroundthebierwithmyfingers,togatherupmytaper,tolookaround,although
shuddering,toensureIhadleftbehindmenotracesofmyvisit.
Iretrievedthekeyfromthepoolofblood,wrappeditinmyhandkerchieftokeepmyhandsclean,andfledtheroom,slammingthedoorbehind
me.Itcrashedtowithajudderingreverberation,likethedoorofhell.
Icouldnottakerefugeinmybedroom,forthatretainedthememoryofhispresencetrappedinthefathomlesssilveringofhismirrors.Mymusic
roomseemedthesafestplace,althoughIlookedatthepictureofSaintCeciliawithafaintdreadwhathadbeenthenatureofhermartyrdom?
Mymindwasinatumultschemesforflightjostledwithoneanother...assoonasthetiderecededfromthecauseway,Iwouldmakeforthe
mainlandonfoot,running,stumblingIdidnottrustthatleathercladchauffeur,northewellbehavedhousekeeper,andIdarednottakeanyof

thepale,ghostlymaidsintomyconfidence,either,sincetheywerehiscreatures,all.Onceatthevillage,Iwouldflingmyselfdirectlyonthe
mercyofthegendarmerie.
ButcouldItrustthem,either?Hisforefathershadruledthiscoastforeightcenturies,fromthiscastlewhosemoatwastheAtlantic.Mightnot
thepolice,theadvocates,eventhejudge,allbeinhisservice,turningacommonblindeyetohisvicessincehewasmilordwhosewordmustbe
obeyed?Who,onthisdistantcoast,wouldbelievethewhitefacedgirlfromPariswhocamerunningtothemwithashudderingtaleofblood,of
fear,oftheogremurmuringintheshadows?Or,rather,theywouldimmediatelyknowittobetrue.Butwereallhonourboundtoletmecarryit
nofurther.
Assistance.Mymother.Irantothetelephoneandtheline,ofcourse,wasdead.
Deadashiswives.
Athickdarkness,unlitbyanystar,stillglazedthewindows.Everylampinmyroomburned,tokeepthedarkoutside,yetitseemedstillto
encroachonme,tobepresentbesidemebutasifmaskedbymylights,thenightlikeapermeablesubstancethatcouldseepintomyskin.I
lookedatthepreciouslittleclockmadefromhypocriticallyinnocentflowerslongago,inDresdenthehandshadscarcelymovedonesingle
hourforwardfromwhenIfirstdescendedtothatprivateslaughterhouseofhis.Timewashisservant,tooitwouldtrapme,here,inanightthat
wouldlastuntilhecamebacktome,likeablacksunonahopelessmorning.
Andyetthetimemightstillbemyfriendatthathour,thatveryhour,hesetsailforNewYork.
Toknowthat,inafewmoments,myhusbandwouldhaveleftFrancecalmedmyagitationalittle.MyreasontoldmeIhadnothingtofearthe
tidethatwouldtakehimawaytotheNewWorldwouldletmeoutoftheimprisonmentofthecastle.SurelyIcouldeasilyevadetheservants.
Anybodycanbuyaticketatarailwaystation.YetIwasstillrilledwithunease.IopenedthelidofthepianoperhapsIthoughtmyown
particularmagicmighthelpme,now,thatIcouldcreateapentacleoutofmusicthatwouldkeepmefromharmfor,ifmymusichadfirst
ensnaredhim,thenmightitnotalsogivemethepowertofreemyselffromhim?
Mechanically,Ibegantoplaybutmyfingerswerestiffandshaking.Atfirst,IcouldmanagenothingbetterthantheexercisesofCzernybut
simplytheactofplayingsoothedmeand,forsolace,forthesakeoftheharmoniousrationalityofitssublimemathematics,Isearchedamonghis
scoresuntilIfoundTheWellTemperedClavier.IsetmyselfthetherapeutictaskofplayingallBach'sequations,everyone,and,Itoldmyself,if
Iplayedthemallthroughwithoutasinglemistakethenthemorningwouldfindmeoncemoreavirgin.
Crashofadroppedstick.
Hissilverheadedcane!Whatelse?Sly,cunning,hehadreturnedhewaswaitingformeoutsidethedoor!
Irosetomyfeetfeargavemestrength.Iflungbackmyheaddefiantly.
'Comein!'Myvoiceastonishedmebyitsfirmness,itsclarity.
Thedoorslowly,nervouslyopenedandIsaw,notthemassive,irredeemablebulkofmyhusbandbuttheslight,stoopingfigureofthepiano
tuner,andhelookedfarmoreterrifiedofmethanmymother'sdaughterwouldhavebeenoftheDevilhimself.Inthetorturechamber,itseemed
tomethatIwouldneverlaughagainnow,helplessly,laughIdid,withrelief,and,afteramoment'shesitation,theboy'sfacesoftenedandhe
smiledalittle,almostinshame.Thoughtheywereblind,hiseyesweresingularlysweet.
'Forgiveme,'saidJeanYves.'IknowI'vegivenyougroundsfordismissingme,thatIshouldbecrouchingoutsideyourdooratmidnight...butI
heardyouwalkingabout,upanddownIsleepinaroomatthefootofthewesttowerandsomeintuitiontoldmeyoucouldnotsleepand
might,perhaps,passtheinsomniachoursatyourpiano.AndIcouldnotresistthat.Besides,Istumbledoverthese'
AndhedisplayedtheringofkeysI'ddroppedoutsidemyhusband'sofficedoor,theringfromwhichonekeywasmissing.Itookthemfrom
him,lookedroundforaplacetostowthem,fixedonthepianostoolasiftohidethemwouldprotectme.Stillhestoodsmilingatme.Howhard
itwastomakeeverydayconversation.
'It'sperfect,'Isaid.'Thepiano.Perfectlyintune.'
Buthewasfulloftheloquacityofembarrassment,asthoughIwouldonlyforgivehimforhisimpudenceifheexplainedthecauseofit
thoroughly.
'WhenIheardyouplaythisafternoon,IthoughtI'dneverheardsuchatouch.Suchtechnique.Atreatforme,tohearavirtuoso!SoIcreptupto
yourdoornow,humblyasalittledogmight,madame,andputmyeartothekeyholeandlistened,andlisteneduntilmystickfelltothefloor
throughamomentaryclumsinessofmine,andIwasdiscovered.'
Hehadthemosttouchinglyingenuoussmile.
'Perfectlyintune,'Irepeated.Tomysurprise,nowIhadsaidit,IfoundIcouldnotsayanythingelse.Icouldonlyrepeat:'Intune...perfect...in
tune,'overandoveragain.Isawadawningsurpriseinhisface.Myheadthrobbed.Toseehim,inhislovely,blindhumanity,seemedtohurtme
verypiercingly,somewhereinsidemybreasthisfigureblurred,theroomswayedaboutme.Afterthedreadfulrevelationofthatbloody
chamber,itwashistenderlookthatmademefaint.
WhenIrecoveredconsciousness,IfoundIwaslyinginthepianotuner'sarmsandhewastuckingthesatincushionfromthepianostoolunder
myhead.
'Youareinsomegreatdistress,'hesaid.'Nobrideshouldsuffersomuch,soearlyinhermarriage.'
Hisspeechhadtherhythmsofthecountryside,therhythmsofthetides.
'Anybridebroughttothiscastleshouldcomereadydressedinmourning,shouldbringapriestandacoffinwithher,'Isaid.
'What'sthis?'
Itwastoolatetokeepsilentandifhe,too,wereoneofmyhusband'screatures,thenatleasthehadbeenkindtome.SoItoldhimeverything,
thekeys,theinterdiction,mydisobedience,theroom,therack,theskull,thecorpses,theblood.
'Icanscarcelybelieveit,'hesaid,wondering.'Thatman...sorichsowellborn.'
'Here'sproof,'Isaidandtumbledthefatalkeyoutofmyhandkerchiefontothesilkenrug.
'OhGod,'hesaid.'Icansmelltheblood.'

Hetookmyhandhepressedhisarmsaboutme.Althoughhewasscarcelymorethanaboy,Ifeltagreatstrengthflowintomefromhistouch.
'Wewhisperallmannerofstrangetalesupanddownthecoast,'hesaid.'TherewasaMarquis,once,whousedtohuntyounggirlsonthe
mainlandhehuntedthemwithdogs,asthoughtheywerefoxes.Mygrandfatherhaditfromhisgrandfather,howtheMarquispulledaheadout
ofhissaddlebagandshowedittotheblacksmithwhilethemanwasshoeinghishorse."Afinespecimenofthegenus,brunette,eh,Guillaume?"
Anditwastheheadoftheblacksmith'swife.'
But,inthesemoredemocratictimes,myhusbandmusttravelasfarasParistodohishuntinginthesalons.JeanYvesknewthemomentI
shuddered.
'Oh,madame!Ithoughtallthesewereoldwives'tales,chatteringoffools,spookstoscarebadchildrenintogoodbehaviour!Yethowcouldyou
know,astranger,thattheoldnameforthisplaceistheCastleofMurder?'
HowcouldIknow,indeed?Exceptthat,inmyheart,I'dalwaysknownitslordwouldbethedeathofme.
'Hark!'saidmyfriendsuddenly.'Theseahaschangedkeyitmustbenearmorning,thetideisgoingdown.'
Hehelpedmeup.Ilookedfromthewindow,towardsthemainland,alongthecausewaywherethestonesgleamedwetlyinthethinlightofthe
endofthenightand,withanalmostunimaginablehorror,ahorrortheintensityofwhichIcannottransmittoyou,Isaw,inthedistance,stillfar
awayyetdrawingmomentbymomentinexorablynearer,thetwinheadlampsofhisgreatblackcar,gougingtunnelsthroughtheshiftingmist.
Myhusbandhadindeedreturnedthistime,itwasnofancy.
'Thekey!'saidJeanYves.'Itmustgobackonthering,withtheothers.Asthoughnothinghadhappened.'
ButthekeywasstillcakedwithwetbloodandIrantomybathroomandhelditunderthehottap.Crimsonwaterswirleddownthebasinbut,as
ifthekeyitselfwerehurt,thebloodytokenstuck.Theturquoiseeyesofthedolphintapswinkedatmederisivelytheyknewmyhusbandhad
beentoocleverforme!Iscrubbedthestainwithmynailbrushbutstillitwouldnotbudge.Ithoughthowthecarwouldberollingsilently
towardstheclosedcourtyardgatethemoreIscrubbedthekey,themorevividgrewthestain.
Thebellinthegatehousewouldjangle.Theporter'sdrowsysonwouldpushbackthepatchworkquilt,yawning,pulltheshirtoverhishead,
thrusthisfeetintohissabots...slowly,slowlyopenthedoorforyourmasterasslowlyasyoucan...
Andstillthebloodstainmockedthefreshwaterthatspilledfromthemouthoftheleeringdolphin.
'Youhavenomoretime,'saidJeanYves.'Heishere.Iknowit.Imuststaywithyou.'
'Youshallnot!'Isaid.'Gobacktoyourroom,now.Please.'
Hehesitated.Iputanedgeofsteelinmyvoice,forIknewImustmeetmylordalone.
'Leaveme!'
Assoonashehadgone,Idealtwiththekeysandwenttomybedroom.ThecausewaywasemptyJeanYveswascorrect,myhusbandhad
alreadyenteredthecastle.Ipulledthecurtainsclose,strippedoffmyclothesandpulledthebedcurtainsroundmeasapungentaromaofRussian
leatherassuredmemyhusbandwasonceagainbesideme.
'Dearest!'
Withthemosttreacherous,lascivioustenderness,hekissedmyeyes,and,mimickingthenewbridenewlywakened,Iflungmyarmsaround
him,foronmyseemingacquiescencedependedmysalvation.
'DaSilvaofRiooutwittedme,'hesaidwryly.'MyNewYorkagenttelegraphedLeHavreandsavedmeawastedjourney.Sowemayresume
ourinterruptedpleasures,mylove.'
Ididnotbelieveonewordofit.IknewIhadbehavedexactlyaccordingtohisdesireshadhenotboughtmesothatIshoulddoso?Ihadbeen
trickedintomyownbetrayaltothatillimitabledarknesswhosesourceIhadbeencompelledtoseekinhisabsenceand,nowthatIhadmetthat
shadowedrealityofhisthatcametolifeonlyinthepresenceofitsownatrocities,Imustpaythepriceofmynewknowledge.Thesecretof
Pandora'sboxbuthehadgivenmethebox,himself,knowingImustlearnthesecret.Ihadplayedagameinwhicheverymovewasgoverned
byadestinyasoppressiveandomnipotentashimself,sincethatdestinywashimselfandIhadlost.Lostatthatcharadeofinnocenceandvice
inwhichhehadengagedme.Lost,asthevictimlosestotheexecutioner.
Hishandbrushedmybreast,beneaththesheet.Istrainedmynervesyetcouldnothelpbutflinchfromtheintimatetouch,foritmademethink
ofthepiercingembraceoftheIronMaidenandofhislostloversinthevault.Whenhesawmyreluctance,hiseyesveiledoverandyethis
appetitedidnotdiminish.Histongueranoverredlipsalreadywet.Silent,mysterious,hemovedawayfrommetodrawoffhisjacket.Hetook
thegoldwatchfromhiswaistcoatandlaiditonthedressingtable,likeagoodbourgeoisscoopedouthisraidingloosechangeandnowoh
God!makesagreatplayofpattinghispocketsofficiously,puzzledlipspursed,searchingforsomethingthathasbeenmislaid.Thenturnstome
withaghastly,atriumphantsmile.
'Butofcourse!Igavethekeystoyou!'
'Yourkeys?Why,ofcourse.Here,they'reunderthepillowwaitamomentwhatAh!No...now,wherecanIhaveleftthem?Iwaswhiling
awaytheeveningwithoutyouatthepiano,Iremember.Ofcourse!Themusicroom!'
Brusquelyheflungmyngligofantiquelaceonthebed.
'Goandgetthem.'
'Now?Thismoment?Can'titwaituntilmorning,mydarling?'
Iforcedmyselftobeseductive.Isawmyself,pale,pliantasaplantthatbegstobetrampledunderfoot,adozenvulnerable,appealinggirls
reflectedinasmanymirrors,andIsawhowhealmostfailedtoresistme.Ifhehadcometomeinbed,Iwouldhavestrangledhim,then.
Buthehalfsnarled:'No.Itwon'twait.Now.'
Theunearthlylightofdawnfilledtheroomhadonlyonepreviousdawnbrokenuponmeinthatvileplace?Andtherewasnothingforitbutto
goandfetchthekeysfromthemusicstoolandprayhewouldnotexaminethemtooclosely,praytoGodhiseyeswouldfailhim,thathemight
bestruckblind.
WhenIcamebackintothebedroomcarryingthebunchofkeysthatjangledateverysteplikeacuriousmusicalinstrument,hewassittingonthe

bedinhisimmaculateshirtsleeves,hisheadsunkinhishands.
Anditseemedtomehewasindespair.
Strange.Inspiteofmyfearofhim,thatmademewhiterthanmywrap,Ifeltthereemanatefromhim,atthatmoment,astenchofabsolute
despair,rankandghastly,asiftheliliesthatsurroundedhimhadallatoncebeguntofester,ortheRussianleatherofhisscentwererevertingto
theelementsofflayedhideandexcrementofwhichitwascomposed.Thechthonicgravityofhispresenceexertedatremendouspressureonthe
room,sothatthebloodpoundedinmyearsasifwehadbeenprecipitatedtothebottomofthesea,beneaththewavesthatpoundedagainstthe
shore.
Iheldmylifeinmyhandsamongstthosekeysand,inamoment,wouldplaceitbetweenhiswellmanicuredfingers.Theevidenceofthat
bloodychamberhadshowedmeIcouldexpectnomercy.Yet,whenheraisedhisheadandstaredatmewithhisblind,shutteredeyesasthough
hedidnotrecognizeme,Ifeltaterrifiedpityforhim,forthismanwholivedinsuchstrange,secretplacesthat,ifIlovedhimenoughtofollow
him,Ishouldhavetodie.
Theatrociouslonelinessofthatmonster!
Themonoclehadfallenfromhisface.Hiscurlingmanewasdisordered,asifhehadrunhishandsthroughitinhisdistraction.Isawhowhehad
losthisimpassivityandwasnowfilledwithsuppressedexcitement.Thehandhestretchedoutforthosecountersinhisgameofloveanddeath
shookalittlethefacethatturnedtowardsmecontainedasombredeliriumthatseemedtomecompoundedofaghastly,yes,shamebutalsoofa
terrible,guiltyjoyasheslowlyascertainedhowIhadsinned.
Thattelltalestainhadresolveditselfintoamarktheshapeandbrillianceoftheheartonaplayingcard.Hedisengagedthekeyfromthering
andlookedatitforawhile,solitary,brooding.
'Itisthekeythatleadstothekingdomoftheunimaginable,'hesaid.Hisvoicewaslowandhadinitthetimbreofcertaingreatcathedralorgans
thatseem,whentheyareplayed,tobeconversingwithGod.
Icouldnotrestrainasob.
'Oh,mylove,mylittlelovewhobroughtmeawhitegiftofmusic,'hesaid,almostasifgrieving.'Mylittlelove,you'llneverknowhowmuchI
hatedaylight!"
Thenhesharplyordered:'Kneel!'
Ikneltbeforehimandhepressedthekeylightlytomyforehead,helditthereforamoment.Ifeltafainttinglingoftheskinand,whenI
involuntarilyglancedatmyselfinthemirror,Isawtheheartshapedstainhadtransferreditselftomyforehead,tothespacebetweenthe
eyebrows,likethecastemarkofabrahminwoman.OrthemarkofCain.Andnowthekeygleamedasfreshlyasifithadjustbeencut.He
clippeditbackonthering,emittingthatsame,heavysighashehaddonewhenIsaidthatIwouldmarryhim.
'Myvirginofthearpeggios,prepareyourselfformartyrdom.'
'Whatformshallittake?'Isaid.
'Decapitation,'hewhispered,almostvoluptuously.'GoandbatheyourselfputonthatwhitedressyouworetohearTristanandthenecklacethat
prefiguresyourend.AndIshalltakemyselfofftothearmoury,mydear,tosharpenmygreatgrandfather'sceremonialsword.'
'Theservants?'
'WeshallhaveabsoluteprivacyforourlastritesIhavealreadydismissedthem.Ifyoulookoutofthewindowyoucanseethemgoingtothe
mainland.'
Itwasnowthefull,palelightofmorningtheweatherwasgrey,indeterminate,theseahadanoily,sinisterlook,agloomydayonwhichtodie.
AlongthecausewayIcouldseetroupingeverymaidandscullion,everypotboyandpanscourer,valet,laundressandvassalwhoworkedin
thatgreathouse,mostonfoot,afewonbicycles.Thefacelesshousekeepertrudgedalongwithagreatbasketinwhich,Iguessed,she'dstowed
asmuchasshecouldransackfromthelarder.TheMarquismusthavegiventhechauffeurleavetoborrowthemotorfortheday,foritwentlast
ofall,atastatelypace,asthoughtheprocessionwereacortegeandthecaralreadyboremycoffintothemainlandfor.burial.
ButIknewnogoodBretonearthwouldcoverme,likealast,faithfulloverIhadanotherfate.
'Ihavegiventhemalladay'sholiday,tocelebrateourwedding,'hesaid.Andsmiled.
HoweverhardIstaredattherecedingcompany,IcouldseenosignofJeanYves,ourlatestservant,hiredbuttheprecedingmorning.
'Go,now.Batheyourselfdressyourself.Thelustratoryritualandtheceremonialrobingafterthat,thesacrifice.WaitinthemusicroomuntilI
telephoneforyou.No,mydear!'Andhesmiled,asIstarted,recallingthelinewasdead.'Onemaycallinsidethecastlejustasmuchasone
pleasesbut,outsidenever.'
IscrubbedmyforeheadwiththenailbrushasIhadscrubbedthekeybutthisredmarkwouldnotgoaway,either,nomatterwhatIdid,andI
knewIshouldwearituntilIdied,thoughthatwouldnotbelong.ThenIwenttomydressingroomandputonthatwhitemuslinshift,costume
ofavictimofanautodaf,hehadboughtmetolistentotheLiebestodin.Twelveyoungwomencombedouttwelvelistlesssheavesofbrown
hairinthemirrorssoon,therewouldbenone.Themassofliliesthatsurroundedmeexhaled,now,theodouroftheirwithering.Theylooked
likethetrumpetsoftheangelsofdeath.
Onthedressingtable,coiledlikeasnakeabouttostrike,laytherubychoker.
Alreadyalmostlifeless,coldatheart,IdescendedthespiralstaircasetothemusicroombutthereIfoundIhadnotbeenabandoned.
'Icanbeofsomecomforttoyou,'theboysaid.'Thoughnotmuchuse.'
Wepushedthepianostoolinfrontoftheopenwindowsothat,foraslongasIcould,Iwouldbeabletosmelltheancient,reconcilingsmellof
theseathat,intime,willcleanseeverything,scourtheoldboneswhite,washawayallthestains.Thelastlittlechambermaidhadtrottedalong
thecausewaylongagoandnowthetide,fatedasI,cametumblingin,thecrispwaveletssplashingontheoldstones.
'Youdonotdeservethis,'hesaid.
'WhocansaywhatIdeserveorno?'Isaid.'I'vedonenothingbutthatmaybesufficientreasonforcondemningme.'
'Youdisobeyedhim,'hesaid.'Thatissufficientreasonforhimtopunishyou.'

'IonlydidwhatheknewIwould.'
'LikeEve,'hesaid.
Thetelephonerangashrillimperative.Letitring.ButmyloverliftedmeupandsetmeonmyfeetIknewImustanswerit.Thereceiverfelt
heavyasearth.
'Thecourtyard.Immediately.'
Myloverkissedme,hetookmyhand.HewouldcomewithmeifIwouldleadhim.Courage.WhenIthoughtofcourage,Ithoughtofmy
mother.ThenIsawamuscleinmylover'sfacequiver.
'Hoofbeats!'hesaid.
Icastonelast,desperateglancefromthewindowand,likeamiracle,Isawahorseandridergallopingatavertiginousspeedalongthe
causeway,thoughthewavescrashed,now,highasthehorse'sfetlocks.Arider,herblackskirtstuckeduparoundherwaistsoshecouldride
hardandfast,acrazy,magnificenthorsewomaninwidow'sweeds.
Asthetelephonerangagain.
'AmItowaitallmorning?'
Everymoment,mymotherdrewnearer.
'Shewillbetoolate,'JeanYvessaidandyethecouldnotrestrainanoteofhopethat,thoughitmustbeso,yetitmightnotbeso.
Thethird,intransigentcall.
'ShallIcomeuptoheaventofetchyoudown,SaintCecilia?Youwickedwoman,doyouwishmetocompoundmycrimesbydesecratingthe
marriagebed?'
SoImustgotothecourtyardwheremyhusbandwaitedinhisLondontailoredtrousersandtheshirtfromTurnbullandAsser,besidethe
mountingblock,with,inhishand,theswordwhichhisgreatgrandfatherhadpresentedtothelittlecorporal,intokenofsurrendertothe
Republic,beforeheshothimself.Theheavysword,unsheathed,greyasthatNovembermorning,sharpaschildbirth,mortal.
Whenmyhusbandsawmycompanion,heobserved:'Lettheblindleadtheblind,eh?Butdoesevenayouthasbesottedasyouarethinkshe
wastrulyblindtoherowndesireswhenshetookmyring?Giveitmeback,whore.'
Thefiresintheopalhadalldieddown.Igladlyslippeditfrommyfingerand,eveninthatdolorousplace,myheartwaslighterforthelackofit.
Myhusbandtookitlovinglyandlodgeditonthetipofhislittlefingeritwouldgonofurther.
'Itwillservemeforadozenmorefiances,'hesaid.'Totheblock,woman.NoleavetheboyIshalldealwithhimlater,utilizingalessexalted
instrumentthantheonewithwhichIdomywifethehonourofherimmolation,fordonotfearthatindeathyouwillbedivided.'
Slowly,slowly,onefootbeforetheother,Icrossedthecobbles.ThelongerIdawdledovermyexecution,themoretimeitgavetheavenging
angeltodescend...
'Don'tloiter,girl!DoyouthinkIshallloseappetiteforthemealifyouaresolongaboutservingit?NoIshallgrowhungrier,moreravenous
witheachmoment,morecruel...Runtome,run!Ihaveaplacepreparedforyourexquisitecorpseinmydisplayofflesh!'
Heraisedtheswordandcutbrightsegmentsfromtheairwithit,butstillIlingeredalthoughmyhopes,sorecentlyraised,nowbegantoflag.If
sheisnotherebynow,herhorsemusthavestumbledonthecauseway,haveplungedintothesea...Onethingonlymademegladthatmylover
wouldnotseemedie.
Myhusbandlaidmybrandedforeheadonthestoneand,ashehaddoneoncebefore,twistedmyhairintoaropeanddrewitawayfrommy
neck.
'Suchaprettyneck,'hesaidwithwhatseemedtobeagenuine,retrospectivetenderness.'Anecklikethestemofayoungplant.'
Ifeltthesilkenbristleofhisbeardandthewettouchofhislipsashekissedmynape.And,onceagain,ofmyapparelImustretainonlymy
gemsthesharpbladerippedmydressintwoanditfellfromme.Alittlegreenmoss,growinginthecrevicesofthemountingblock,wouldbe
thelastthingIshouldseeinalltheworld.
Thewhizzofthatheavysword.
Andagreatbatteringandpoundingatthegate,thejanglingofthebell,thefrenziedneighingofahorse!Theunholysilenceoftheplace
shatteredinaninstant.Thebladedidnotdescend,thenecklacedidnotsever,myheaddidnotroll.For,foraninstant,thebeastwaveredinhis
stroke,asufficientsplitsecondofastonishedindecisiontoletmespringuprightanddarttotheassistanceofmyloverashestruggledsightlessly
withthegreatboltsthatkeptherout.
TheMarquisstoodtransfixed,utterlydazed,ataloss.ItmusthavebeenasifhehadbeenwatchinghisbelovedTristanforthetwelfth,the
thirteenthtimeandTristanstirred,thenleaptfromhisbierinthelastact,announcedinajauntyariainterposedfromVerdithatbygoneswere
bygones,cryingoverspiltmilkdidnobodyanygoodand,asforhimself,heproposedtolivehappilyeverafter.Thepuppetmaster,open
mouthed,wideeyed,impotentatthelast,sawhisdollsbreakfreeoftheirstrings,abandontheritualshehadordainedforthemsincetimebegan
andstarttoliveforthemselvestheking,aghast,witnessestherevoltofhispawns.
Youneversawsuchawildthingasmymother,herhatseizedbythewindsandblownouttoseasothatherhairwasherwhitemane,herblack
lislelegsexposedtothethigh,herskirtstuckedroundherwaist,onehandonthereinsoftherearinghorsewhiletheotherclaspedmyfather's
servicerevolverand,behindher,thebreakersofthesavage,indifferentsea,likethewitnessesofafuriousjustice.Andmyhusbandstoodstock
still,asifshehadbeenMedusa,theswordstillraisedoverhisheadasinthoseclockworktableauxofBluebeardthatyouseeinglasscasesat
fairs.
Andthenitwasasthoughacuriouschildpushedhiscentimeintotheslotandsetallinmotion.Theheavy,beardedfigureroaredoutaloud,
brayingwithfury,and,wieldingthehonourableswordasifitwereamatterofdeathorglory,chargedus,allthree.
Onhereighteenthbirthday,mymotherhaddisposedofamaneatingtigerthathadravagedthevillagesinthehillsnorthofHanoi.Now,without
amoment'shesitation,sheraisedmyfather'sgun,tookaimandputasingle,irreproachablebulletthroughmyhusband'shead.
Weleadaquietlife,thethreeofus.Iinherited,ofcourse,enormouswealthbutwehavegivenmostofitawaytovariouscharities.Thecastleis

nowaschoolfortheblind,thoughIpraythatthechildrenwholivetherearenothauntedbyanysadghostslookingfor,cryingfor,thehusband
whowillneverreturntothebloodychamber,thecontentsofwhichareburiedorburned,thedoorsealed.
IfeltIhadarighttoretainsufficientfundstostartalittlemusicschoolhere,ontheoutskirtsofParis,andwedowellenough.Sometimeswe
canevenaffordtogototheOpra,thoughnevertositinabox,ofcourse.Weknowwearethesourceofmanywhisperingsandmuchgossip
butthethreeofusknowthetruthofitandmerechattercanneverharmus.IcanonlyblessthewhatshallIcallit?thematernaltelepathythat
sentmymotherrunningheadlongfromthetelephonetothestationafterIhadcalledher,thatnight.Ineverheardyoucrybefore,shesaid,by
wayofexplanation.Notwhenyouwerehappy.Andwhoevercriedbecauseofgoldbathtaps?
Thenighttrain,theoneIhadtakenshelayinherberth,sleeplessasIhadbeen.Whenshecouldnotfindataxiatthatlonelyhalt,sheborrowed
oldDobbinfromabemusedfarmer,forsomeinternalurgencytoldherthatshemustreachmebeforetheincomingtidesealedmeawayfrom
herforever.Mypooroldnurse,leftscandalizedathomewhat?interruptmilordonhishoneymoon?shediedsoonafter.Shehadtakenso
muchsecretpleasureinthefactthatherlittlegirlhadbecomeamarquiseandnowhereIwas,scarcelyapennythericher,widowedat
seventeeninthemostdubiouscircumstancesandbusilyengagedinsettinguphousewithapianotuner.Poorthing,shepassedawayinasorry
stateofdisillusion!ButIdobelievemymotherloveshimasmuchasIdo.
Nopaintnorpowder,nomatterhowthickorwhite,canmaskthatredmarkonmyforeheadIamgladhecannotseeitnotforfearofhis
revulsion,sinceIknowheseesmeclearlywithhisheartbut,becauseitsparesmyshame.

TheCourtshipofMrLyon
Outsideherkitchenwindow,thehedgerowglistenedasifthesnowpossessedalightofitsownwhentheskydarkenedtowardsevening,an
unearthly,reflectedpallorremainedbehinduponthewinter'slandscape,whilestillthesoftflakesfloateddown.Thislovelygirl,whoseskin
possessesthatsame,innerlightsoyouwouldhavethoughtshe,too,wasmadeallofsnow,pausesinherchoresinthemeankitchentolookout
atthecountryroad.Nothinghaspassedthatwayalldaytheroadiswhiteandunmarkedasaspilledboltofbridalsatin.
Fathersaidhewouldbehomebeforenightfall.
Thesnowbroughtdownallthetelephonewireshecouldn'thavecalled,evenwiththebestofnews.
Theroadsarebad.Ihopehe'llbesafe.
Buttheoldcarstuckfastinarut,wouldn'tbudgeaninchtheenginewhirred,coughedanddiedandhewasfarfromhome.Ruined,oncethen
ruinedagain,ashehadlearntfromhislawyersthatverymorningattheconclusionofthelengthy,slowattempttorestorehisfortunes,hehad
turnedouthispocketstofindthecashforpetroltotakehimhome.AndnotevenenoughmoneyleftovertobuyhisBeauty,hisgirlchild,his
pet,theonewhiteroseshesaidshewantedtheonlygiftshewanted,nomatterhowthecasewent,howrichhemightonceagainbe.Shehad
askedforsolittleandhehadnotbeenabletogiveittoher.Hecursedtheuselesscar,thelaststrawthatbrokehisspiritthen,nothingforitbut
tofastenhisoldsheepskincoataroundhim,abandontheheapofmetalandsetoffdownthesnowfilledlanetolookforhelp.
Behindwroughtirongates,ashort,snowydriveperformedareticentflourishbeforeaminiature,perfect,Palladianhousethatseemedtohide
itselfshylybehindsnowladenskirtsofanantiquecypress.Itwasalmostnightthathouse,withitssweet,retiringmelancholygrace,would
haveseemeddesertedbutforalightthatflickeredinanupstairswindow,sovagueitmighthavebeenthereflectionofastar,ifanystarscould
havepenetratedthesnowthatwhirledyetmorethickly.Chilledthrough,hepressedthelatchofthegateandsaw,withapang,how,onthe
witheredghostofatangleofthorns,thereclung,still,thefadedragofawhiterose.
Thegateclangedloudlyshutbehindhimtooloudly.Foraninstant,thatreverberatingclangseemedfinal,emphatic,ominousasifthegate,now
closed,barredallwithinitfromtheworldoutsidethewalled,wintrygarden.And,fromadistance,thoughfromwhatdistancehecouldnottell,
heheardthemostsingularsoundintheworld:agreatroaring,asofabeastofprey.
Intoomuchneedtoallowhimselftobeintimidated,hesquareduptothemahoganydoor.Thisdoorwasequippedwithaknockerintheshape
ofalion'shead,witharingthroughthenoseasheraisedhishandtowardsit,itcametohimthislion'sheadwasnot,ashehadthoughtatfirst,
madeofbrass,but,instead,ofsolidgold.Before,however,hecouldannouncehispresence,thedoorswungsilentlyinwardonwelloiledhinges
andhesawawhitehallwherethecandlesofagreatchandeliercasttheirbenignlightuponsomany,manyflowersingreat,freestandingjarsof
crystalthatitseemedthewholeofspringdrewhimintoitswarmthwithaprofoundintakeofperfumedbreath.Yettherewasnolivingpersonin
thehall.
Thedoorbehindhimclosedassilentlyasithadopened,yet,thistime,hefeltnofearalthoughheknewbythepervasiveatmosphereofa
suspensionofrealitythathehadenteredaplaceofprivilegewhereallthelawsoftheworldheknewneednotnecessarilyapply,forthevery
richareoftenveryeccentricandthehousewasplainlythatofanexceedinglywealthyman.Asitwas,whennobodycametohelphimwithhis
coat,hetookitoffhimself.Atthat,thecrystalsofthechandeliertinkledalittle,asifemittingapleasedchuckle,andthedoorofacloakroom
openedofitsownaccord.Therewere,however,noclothesatallinthiscloakroom,noteventhestatutorycountryhousegardenmackintoshto
greethisownsquirearchalsheepskin,but,whenheemergedagainintothehall,hefoundagreetingwaitingforhimatlasttherewas,ofall
things,aliverandwhiteKingCharlesspanielcrouched,withheadintelligentlycocked,ontheKelimrunner.Itgavehimfurther,comforting
proofofhisunseenhost'swealthandeccentricitytoseethedogwore,inplaceofacollar,adiamondnecklace.
Thedogsprangtoitsfeetinwelcomeandbusilyshepherdedhim(howamusing!)toasnuglittleleatherpanelledstudyonthefirstfloor,where
alowtablewasdrawnuptoaroaringlogfire.Onthetable,asilvertrayroundtheneckofthewhiskydecanter,asilvertagwiththelegend:
Drinkme,whilethecoverofthesilverdishwasengravedwiththeexhortation:Eatme,inaflowinghand.Thisdishcontainedsandwichesof
thickcutroastbeef,stillbloody.Hedranktheonewithsodaandatetheotherwithsomeexcellentmustardthoughtfullyprovidedinastoneware
pot,and,whenthespanielsawtoithehadservedhimself,shetrottedoffaboutherownbusiness.
AllthatremainedtomakeBeauty'sfatherentirelycomfortablewastofind,inacurtainedrecess,notonlyatelephonebutthecardofagarage
thatadvertisedatwentyfourhourrescueserviceacoupleofcallslaterandhehadconfirmed,thankGod,therewasnoserioustrouble,onlythe
car'sageandthecoldweather...couldhepickitupfromthevillageinanhour?Anddirectionstothevillage,buthalfamileaway,were
supplied,inanewtoneofdeference,assoonashedescribedthehousefromwherehewascalling.
Andhewasdisconcertedbut,inhisimpecuniouscircumstances,relievedtohearthebillwouldgoonhishospitableifabsenthost'saccountno
question,assuredthemechanic.Itwasthemaster'scustom.
Timeforanotherwhiskyashetried,unsuccessfully,tocallBeautyandtellherhewouldbelatebutthelineswerestilldown,although,
miraculously,thestormhadclearedasthemoonroseandnowaglancebetweenthevelvetcurtainsrevealedalandscapeasofivorywithan
inlayofsilver.Thenthespanielappearedagain,withhishatinhercarefulmouth,prettilywagginghertail,asiftotellhimitwastimetobe
gone,thatthismagicalhospitalitywasover.
Asthedoorswungtobehindhim,hesawthelion'seyesweremadeofagate.
Greatwreathsofsnownowprecariouslycurdedtherosetreesand,whenhebrushedagainstastemonhiswaytothegate,achillarmfulsoftly

thuddedtothegroundtoreveal,asifmiraculouslypreservedbeneathit,onelast,single,perfectrosethatmighthavebeenthelastroseleftliving
inallthewhitewinter,andofsointenseandyetdelicateafragranceitseemedtoringlikeadulcimeronthefrozenair.
Howcouldhishost,somysterious,sokind,denyBeautyherpresent?
Notnowdistantbutcloseathand,closeasthatmahoganyfrontdoor,roseamighty,furiousroaringthegardenseemedtoholditsbreathin
apprehension.Butstill,becausehelovedhisdaughter,Beauty'sfatherstoletherose.
Atthat,everywindowofthehouseblazedwithfuriouslightandafugalbaying,asofaprideoflions,introducedhishost.
Thereisalwaysadignityaboutgreatbulk,anassertiveness,aqualityofbeingmoretherethanmostofusare.Thebeingwhonowconfronted
Beauty'sfatherseemedtohim,inhisconfusion,vasterthanthehouseheowned,ponderousyetswift,andthemoonlightglitteredonhisgreat,
mazyheadofhair,ontheeyesgreenasagate,onthegoldenhairsofthegreatpawsthatgraspedhisshoulderssothattheirclawspiercedthe
sheepskinasheshookhimlikeanangrychildshakesadoll.
ThisleonineapparitionshookBeauty'sfatheruntilhisteethrattledandthendroppedhimsprawlingonhiskneeswhilethespaniel,dartingfrom
theopendoor,dancedroundthem,yappingdistractedly,likealadyatwhosedinnerpartyblowshavebeenexchanged.
'Mygoodfellow'stammeredBeauty'sfatherbuttheonlyresponsewasarenewedroar.
'Goodfellow?Iamnogoodfellow!IamtheBeast,andyoumustcallmeBeast,whileIcallyou,Thief!'
'Forgivemeforrobbingyourgarden,Beast!'
Headofalionmaneandmightypawsofalionherearedonhishindlegslikeanangrylionyetworeasmokingjacketofdullredbrocadeand
wastheownerofthatlovelyhouseandthelowhillsthatcuppedit.
'Itwasformydaughter,'saidBeauty'sfather.'Allshewanted,inthewholeworld,wasonewhite,perfectrose.'
TheBeastrudelysnatchedthephotographherfatherdrewfromhiswalletandinspectedit,firstbrusquely,thenwithastrangekindofwonder,
almostthedawningofsurmise.Thecamerahadcapturedacertainlookshehad,sometimes,ofabsolutesweetnessandabsolutegravity,asifher
eyesmightpierceappearancesandseeyoursoul.Whenhehandedthepictureback,theBeasttookgoodcarenottoscratchthesurfacewithhis
claws.
'Takehertherose,then,butbringhertodinner,'hegrowledandwhatelsewastheretobedone?
Althoughherfatherhadtoldherofthenatureoftheonewhowaitedforher,shecouldnotcontrolaninstinctualshudderoffearwhenshesaw
him,foralionisalionandamanisamanand,thoughlionsaremorebeautifulbyfarthanweare,yettheybelongtoadifferentorderofbeauty
and,besides,theyhavenorespectforus:whyshouldthey?Yetwildthingshaveafarmorerationalfearofusthanisoursofthem,andsome
kindofsadnessinhisagateeyes,thatlookedalmostblind,asifsickofsight,movedherheart.
Hesat,impassiveasafigurehead,atthetopofthetablethediningroomwasQueenAnne,tapestried,agem.Apartfromanaromaticsoupkept
hotoveraspiritlamp,thefood,thoughexquisite,wascoldacoldbird,acoldsouffl,cheese.Heaskedherfathertoservethemfromabuffet
and,himself,atenothing.Hegrudginglyadmittedwhatshehadalreadyguessed,thathedislikedthepresenceofservantsbecause,shethought,a
constanthumanpresencewouldremindhimtoobitterlyofhisotherness,butthespanielsatathisfeetthroughoutthemeal,jumpingupfrom
timetotimetoseethateverythingwasinorder.
Howstrangehewas.Shefoundhisbewilderingdifferencefromherselfalmostintolerableitspresencechokedher.Thereseemedaheavy,
soundlesspressureuponherinhishouse,asifitlayunderwater,andwhenshesawthegreatpawslyingonthearmofhischair,shethought:
theyarethedeathofanytenderherbivore.Andsuchaoneshefeltherselftobe,MissLamb,spotless,sacrificial.
Yetshestayed,andsmiled,becauseherfatherwantedhertodosoandwhentheBeasttoldherhowhewouldaidherfather'sappealagainstthe
judgement,shesmiledwithbothhermouthandhereyes.Butwhen,astheysippedtheirbrandy,theBeast,inthediffuse,rumblingpurrwith
whichheconversed,suggested,withahintofshyness,offearofrefusal,thatsheshouldstayhere,withhim,incomfort,whileherfather
returnedtoLondontotakeupthelegalcudgelsagain,sheforcedasmile.Forsheknewwithapangofdread,assoonashespoke,thatitwould
besoandhervisittotheBeastmustbe,onsomemagicallyreciprocalscale,thepriceofherfather'sgoodfortune.
Donotthinkshehadnowillofherownonly,shewaspossessedbyasenseofobligationtoanunusualdegreeand,besides,shewouldgladly
havegonetotheendsoftheearthforherfather,whomsheloveddearly.
Herbedroomcontainedamarvellousglassbedshehadabathroom,withtowelsthickasfleeceandvialsofsuaveunguentsandalittleparlour
ofherown,thewallsofwhichwerecoveredwithanantiquepaperofbirdsofparadiseandChinamen,wheretherewerepreciousbooksand
picturesandtheflowersgrownbyinvisiblegardenersintheBeast'shothouses.Nextmorning,herfatherkissedheranddroveawaywitha
renewedhopeabouthimthatmadeherglad,but,allthesame,shelongedfortheshabbyhomeoftheirpoverty.Theunaccustomedluxuryabout
hershefoundpoignant,becauseitgavenopleasuretoitspossessorandhimselfshedidnotseealldayasif,curiousreversal,shefrightened
him,althoughthespanielcameandsatwithher,tokeephercompany.Today,thespanielworeaneatchokerofturquoises.
Whopreparedhermeals?LonelinessoftheBeastallthetimeshestayedthere,shesawnoevidenceofanotherhumanpresencebutthetraysof
foodthatarrivedonadumbwaiterinsideamahoganycupboardinherparlour.DinnerwaseggsBenedictandgrilledvealsheateitasshe
browsedinabookshehadfoundintherosewoodrevolvingbookcase,acollectionofcourtlyandelegantFrenchfairytalesaboutwhitecats
whoweretransformedprincessesandfairieswhowerebirds.Thenshepulledasprigofmuscatgrapesfromafatbunchforherdessertand
foundherselfyawningshediscoveredshewasbored.Atthat,thespanieltookholdofherskirtwithitsvelvetmouthandgaveitafirmbut
gentletug.Sheallowedthedogtotrotbeforehertothestudyinwhichherfatherhadbeenentertainedandthere,toherwelldisguiseddismay,
shefoundherhost,seatedbesidethefirewithatrayofcoffeeathiselbowfromwhichshemustpour.
Thevoicethatseemedtoissuefromacavefullofechoes,hisdark,softrumblinggrowlafterherdayofpastelcolouredidleness,howcouldshe
conversewiththepossessorofavoicethatseemedaninstrumentcreatedtoinspiretheterrorthatthechordsofgreatorgansbring?Fascinated,
almostawed,shewatchedthefirelightplayonthegoldfringesofhismanehewasirradiated,asifwithakindofhalo,andshethoughtofthe
firstgreatbeastoftheApocalypse,thewingedlionwithhispawupontheGospel,SaintMark.Smalltalkturnedtodustinhermouthsmalltalk
hadnever,atthebestoftimes,beenBeauty'sforte,andshehadlittlepracticeatit.
Buthe,hesitantly,asifhehimselfwereinaweofayounggirlwholookedasifshehadbeencarvedoutofasinglepearl,askedafterherfather's
lawcaseandherdeadmotherandhowthey,whohadbeensorich,hadcometobesopoor.Heforcedhimselftomasterhisshyness,which
wasthatofawildcreature,andsoshecontrivedtomasterherowntosucheffectthatsoonshewaschatteringawaytohimasifshehadknown
himallherlife.Whenthelittlecupidinthegiltclockonthemantelpiecestruckitsminiaturetambourine,shewasastonishedtodiscoveritdid
sotwelvetimes.
'Solate!Youwillwanttosleep,'hesaid.

Atthat,theybothfellsilent,asifthesestrangecompanionsweresuddenlyovercomewithembarrassmenttofindthemselvestogether,alone,in
thatroominthedepthsofthewinter'snight.Asshewasabouttorise,heflunghimselfatherfeetandburiedhisheadinherlap.Shestayed
stockstill,transfixedshefelthishotbreathonherfingers,thestiffbristlesofhismuzzlegrazingherskin,theroughlappingofhistongueand
then,withafloodofcompassion,understood:allheisdoingiskissingmyhands.
Hedrewbackhisheadandgazedatherwithhisgreen,inscrutableeyes,inwhichshesawherfacerepeatedtwice,assmallasifitwereinbud.
Then,withoutanotherword,hesprangfromtheroomandshesaw,withanindescribableshock,hewentonallfours.
Nextday,allday,thehillsonwhichthesnowstillsettledechoedwiththeBeast'srumblingroar:hasmastergoneahunting?Beautyaskedthe
spaniel.Butthespanielgrowled,almostbadtemperedly,asiftosay,thatshewouldnothaveanswered,evenifshecouldhave.
Beautywouldpassthedayinhersuitereadingor,perhaps,doingalittleembroideryaboxofcolouredsilksandaframehadbeenprovidedfor
her.Or,wellwrappedup,shewanderedinthewalledgarden,amongtheleaflessroses,withthespanielatherheels,anddidalittlerakingand
rearranging.Anidle,restfultimeaholiday.Theenchantmentofthatbright,sad,prettyplaceenvelopedherandshefoundthat,againstallher
expectations,shewashappythere.ShenolongerfelttheslightestapprehensionathernightlyinterviewswiththeBeast.Allthenaturallawsof
theworldwereheldinsuspension,here,whereanarmyofinvisiblestenderlywaitedonher,andshewouldtalkwiththelion,underthepatient
chaperonageofthebrowneyeddog,onthenatureofthemoonanditsborrowedlight,aboutthestarsandthesubstancesofwhichtheywere
made,aboutthevariabletransformationsoftheweather.Yetstillhisstrangenessmadehershiverandwhenhehelplesslyfellbeforehertokiss
herhands,ashedideverynightwhentheyparted,shewouldretreatnervouslyintoherskin,flinchingathistouch.
Thetelephoneshrilledforher.Herfather.Suchnews!
TheBeastsunkhisgreatheadontohispaws.Youwillcomebacktome?Itwillbelonelyhere,withoutyou.
Shewasmovedalmosttotearsthatheshouldcareforherso.Itwasinherhearttodropakissuponhisshaggymanebut,thoughshestretched
outherhandtowardshim,shecouldnotbringherselftotouchhimofherownfreewill,hewassodifferentfromherself.But,yes,shesaidI
willcomeback.Soon,beforethewinterisover.Thenthetaxicameandtookheraway.
YouareneveratthemercyoftheelementsinLondon,wherethehuddledwarmthofhumanitymeltsthesnowbeforeithastimetosettleand
herfatherwasasgoodasrichagain,sincehishirsutefriend'slawyershadthebusinesssowellinhandthathiscreditbroughtthemnothingbut
thebest.Aresplendenthoteltheopera,theatresawholenewwardrobeforhisdarling,soshecouldstepoutonhisarmtoparties,toreceptions,
torestaurants,andlifewasasshehadneverknownit,forherfatherhadruinedhimselfbeforeherbirthkilledhermother.
AlthoughtheBeastwasthesourceofthisnewfoundprosperityandtheytalkedofhimoften,nowthattheyweresofarawayfromthetimeless
spellofhishouseitseemedtopossesstheradiantandfinitequalityofdreamandtheBeasthimself,somonstrous,sobenign,somekindofspirit
ofgoodfortunewhohadsmiledonthemandletthemgo.Shesenthimflowers,whiterosesinreturnfortheoneshehadgivenherandwhen
shelefttheflorist,sheexperiencedasuddensenseofperfectfreedom,asifshehadjustescapedfromanunknowndanger,hadbeengrazedby
thepossibilityofsomechangebut,finally,leftintact.Yet,withthisexhilaration,adesolatingemptiness.Butherfatherwaswaitingforherat
thehoteltheyhadplannedadeliciousexpeditiontobuyherfursandshewasaseagerforthetreatasanygirlmightbe.
Sincetheflowersintheshopwerethesamealltheyearround,nothinginthewindowcouldtellherthatwinterhadalmostgone.
Returninglatefromsupperafterthetheatre,shetookoffherearringsinfrontofthemirrorBeauty.Shesmiledatherselfwithsatisfaction.She
waslearning,attheendofheradolescence,howtobeaspoiledchildandthatpearlyskinofherswasplumpingout,alittle,withhighlivingand
compliments.Acertaininwardnesswasbeginningtotransformthelinesaroundhermouth,thosesignaturesofthepersonality,andher
sweetnessandhergravitycouldsometimesturnamitepetulantwhenthingswentnotquiteasshewantedthemtogo.Youcouldnothavesaid
thatherfreshnesswasfadingbutshesmiledatherselfinmirrorsalittletoooften,thesedays,andthefacethatsmiledbackwasnotquitetheone
shehadseencontainedintheBeast'sagateeyes.Herfacewasacquiring,insteadofbeauty,alacqueroftheinvincibleprettinessthat
characterizescertainpampered,exquisite,expensivecats.
Thesoftwindofspringbreathedinfromthenearbyparkthroughtheopenwindowsshedidnotknowwhyitmadeherwanttocry.
Therewasasudden,urgent,scrabblingsound,asofclaws,atherdoor.
Hertrancebeforethemirrorbrokeallatonce,sherememberedeverythingperfectly.Springwashereandshehadbrokenherpromise.Nowthe
Beasthimselfhadcomeinpursuitofher!First,shewasfrightenedofhisangerthen,mysteriouslyjoyful,sherantoopenthedoor.Butitwas
hisliverandwhitespottedspanielwhohurledherselfintothegirl'sarmsinaflurryoflittlebarksandgruffmurmurings,ofwhimperingand
relief.
Yetwherewasthewellbrushed,jewelleddogwhohadsatbesideherembroideryframeintheparlourwithbirdsofparadisenoddingonthe
walls?Thisone'sfringedearsweremattedwithmud,hercoatwasdustyandsnarled,shewasthinasadogthathaswalkedalongwayand,if
shehadnotbeenadog,shewouldhavebeenintears.
Afterthatfirst,rapturousgreeting,shedidnotwaitforBeautytoorderherfoodandwatersheseizedthechiffonhemofhereveningdress,
whimperedandtugged.Threwbackherhead,howled,thentuggedandwhimperedagain.
Therewasaslow,latetrainthatwouldtakehertothestationwhereshehadleftforLondonthreemonthsago.Beautyscribbledanoteforher
father,threwacoatroundhershoulders.Quickly,quickly,urgedthespanielsoundlesslyandBeautyknewtheBeastwasdying.
Inthethickdarkbeforedawn,thestationmasterrousedasleepydriverforher.Fastasyoucan.
ItseemedDecemberstillpossessedhisgarden.Thegroundwashardasiron,theskirtsofthedarkcypressmovedonthechillwindwitha
mournfulrustleandtherewerenogreenshootsontherosesasif,thisyear,theywouldnotbloom.Andnotonelightinanyofthewindows,
only,inthetopmostattic,thefaintestsmearofradianceonapane,thethinghostofalightonthevergeofextinction.
Thespanielhadsleptalittle,inherarms,forthepoorthingwasexhausted.ButnowhergrievingagitationfedBeauty'surgencyand,asthegirl
pushedopenthefrontdoor,shesaw,withathrustofconscience,howthegoldendoorknockerwasthicklymuffledinblackcrpe.
Thedoordidnotopensilently,asbefore,butwithadolefulgroaningofthehingesand,thistime,ontoperfectdarkness.Beautyclickedher
goldcigarettelighterthetapersinthechandelierhaddrownedintheirownwaxandtheprismswerewreathedwithdriftingarabesquesof
cobwebs.Theflowersintheglassjarsweredead,asifnobodyhadhadthehearttoreplacethemaftershewasgone.Dust,everywhereandit
wascold.Therewasanairofexhaustion,ofdespairinthehouseand,worse,akindofphysicaldisillusion,asifitsglamourhadbeensustained
byacheapconjuringtrickandnowtheconjurer,havingfailedtopullthecrowds,haddepartedtotryhisluckelsewhere.
Beautyfoundacandletolightherwayandfollowedthefaithfulspanielupthestaircase,pastthestudy,pasthersuite,throughahouseechoing
withdesertionupalittlebackstaircasededicatedtomiceandspiders,stumbling,rippingthehemofherdressinherhaste.
Whatamodestbedroom!Anattic,withaslopingroof,theymighthavegiventhechambermaidiftheBeasthademployedstaff.Anightlighton
themantelpiece,nocurtainsatthewindows,nocarpetonthefloorandanarrow,ironbedsteadonwhichhelay,sadlydiminished,hisbulk

scarcelydisturbingthefadedpatchworkquilt,hismaneagreyishrat'snestandhiseyesclosed.Onthestickbackedchairwherehisclotheshad
beenthrown,therosesshehadsenthimwerethrustintothejugfromthewashstandbuttheywerealldead.
Thespanieljumpeduponthebedandburrowedherwayunderthescantycovers,softlykeening.
'Oh,Beast,'saidBeauty.'Ihavecomehome.'
Hiseyelidsflickered.Howwasitshehadnevernoticedbeforethathisagateeyeswereequippedwithlids,likethoseofaman?Wasitbecause
shehadonlylookedatherownface,reflectedthere?
'I'mdying,Beauty,'hesaidinacrackedwhisperofhisformerpurr.'Sinceyouleftme,Ihavebeensick.Icouldnotgohunting,IfoundIhadnot
thestomachtokillthegentlebeasts,Icouldnoteat.IamsickandImustdiebutIshalldiehappybecauseyouhavecometosaygoodbyeto
me.'
Sheflungherselfuponhim,sothattheironbedsteadgroaned,andcoveredhispoorpawswithherkisses.
'Don'tdie,Beast!Ifyou'llhaveme,I'llneverleaveyou.'Whenherlipstouchedthemeathookclaws,theydrewbackintotheirpadsandshesaw
howhehadalwayskepthisfistsclenchedbutnow,painfully,tentatively,atlastbegantostretchhisfingers.Hertearsfellonhisfacelikesnow
and,undertheirsofttransformation,thebonesshowedthroughthepelt,thefleshthroughthewide,tawnybrow.Andthenitwasnolongeralion
inherarmsbutaman,amanwithanunkemptmaneofhairand,howstrange,abrokennose,suchasthenosesofretiredboxers,thatgavehima
distant,heroicresemblancetothehandsomestofallthebeasts.
'Doyouknow,'saidMrLyon,'IthinkImightbeabletomanagealittlebreakfasttoday,Beauty,ifyouwouldeatsomethingwithme.'
MrandMrsLyonwalkinthegardentheoldspanieldrowsesonthegrass,inadriftoffallenpetals.

TheTiger'sBride
MyfatherlostmetoTheBeastatcards.
There'saspecialmadnessstrikestravellersfromtheNorthwhentheyreachthelovelylandwherethelemontreesgrow.Wecomefrom
countriesofcoldweatherathome,weareatwarwithnaturebuthere,ah!youthinkyou'vecometotheblessedplotwherethelionliesdown
withthelamb.Everythingflowersnoharshwindstirsthevoluptuousair.Thesunspillsfruitforyou.Andthedeathly,sensuallethargyofthe
sweetSouthinfectsthestarvedbrainitgasps:'Luxury!moreluxury!'Butthenthesnowcomes,youcannotescapeit,itfollowedusfromRussia
asifitranbehindourcarriage,andinthisdark,bittercityhascaughtupwithusatlast,flockingagainstthewindowpanestomockmyfather's
expectationsofperpetualpleasureastheveinsinhisforeheadstandoutandthrob,hishandsshakeashedealstheDevil'spicturebooks.
Thecandlesdroppedhot,acridgoutsofwaxonmybareshoulders.Iwatchedwiththefuriouscynicismpeculiartowomenwhomcircumstances
forcemutelytowitnessfolly,whilemyfather,firedinhisdesperationbymoreandyetmoredraughtsofthefirewatertheycall'grappa',rids
himselfofthelastscrapsofmyinheritance.WhenweleftRussia,weownedblackearth,blueforestwithbearandwildboar,serfs,cornfields,
farmyards,mybelovedhorses,whitenightsofcoolsummer,thefireworksofthenorthernlights.Whataburdenallthosepossessionsmusthave
beentohim,becausehelaughsasifwithgleeashebeggarshimselfheisinsuchapassiontodonatealltoTheBeast.
Everyonewhocomestothiscitymustplayahandwiththegrandseigneurfewcome.TheydidnotwarnusatMilan,or,iftheydid,wedidnot
understandthemmylimpingItalian,thebewilderingdialectoftheregion.Indeed,Imyselfspokeupinfavourofthisremote,provincialplace,
outoffashiontwohundredyears,because,ohirony,itboastednocasino.IdidnotknowthatthepriceofastayinitsDecembralsolitudewasa
gamewithMilord.
Thehourwaslate.Thechilldampofthisplacecreepsintothestones,intoyourbones,intothespongypithofthelungsitinsinuateditselfwith
ashiverintoourparlour,whereMilordcametoplayintheprivacyessentialtohim.Whocouldrefusetheinvitationhisvaletbroughttoour
lodging?Notmyprofligatefather,certainlythemirrorabovethetablegavemebackhisfrenzy,myimpassivity,thewitheringcandles,the
emptyingbottles,thecolouredtideofthecardsastheyroseandfell,thestillmaskthatconcealedallthefeaturesofTheBeastbutfortheyellow
eyesthatstrayed,nowandthen,fromhisunfurledhandtowardsmyself.
'LaBestia!'saidourlandlady,gingerlyfingeringanenvelopewithhishugecrestofatigerrampantonit,somethingoffear,somethingof
wonderinherface.AndIcouldnotaskherwhytheycalledthemasteroftheplace,'LaBestia'wasittodowiththatheraldicsignature?
becausehertonguewassothickenedbythephlegmy,bronchiticspeechoftheregionIscarcelymanagedtomakeoutathingshesaidexcept,
whenshesawme:'Chebella!'
SinceIcouldtoddle,alwaystheprettyone,withmyglossy,nutbrowncurls,myrosycheeks.AndbornonChristmasDayher'Christmasrose',
myEnglishnursecalledme.Thepeasantssaid:'Thelivingimageofhermother,'crossingthemselvesoutofrespectforthedead.Mymotherdid
notblossomlongbarteredforherdowrytosuchafecklesssprigoftheRussiannobilitythatshesoondiedofhisgaming,hiswhoring,his
agonizingrepentances.AndTheBeastgavemetherosefromhisownimpeccableifoutmodedbuttonholewhenhearrived,thevaletbrushing
thesnowoffhisblackcloak.Thiswhiterose,unnatural,outofseason,thatnowmynervousfingersripped,petalbypetal,apartasmyfather
magnificentlyconcludedthecareerhehadmadeofcatastrophe.
Thisisamelancholy,introspectiveregionasunless,featurelesslandscape,thesullenriversweatingfog,theshorn,hunkeringwillows.Anda
cruelcitythesombrepiazza,aplaceuniquelysuitedtopublicexecutions,undertheheedingshadowofthatmalignbarnofachurch.Theyused
tohangcondemnedmenincagesfromthecitywallsunkindnesscomesnaturallytothem,theireyesaresettooclosetogether,theyhavethin
lips.Poorfood,pastasoakedinoil,boiledbeefwithsauceofbitterherbs.Afunerealhushabouttheplace,theinhabitantshuddledupagainstthe
coldsoyoucanhardlyseetheirfaces.Andtheylietoyouandcheatyou,innkeepers,coachmen,everybody.God,howtheyfleecedus!
ThetreacherousSouth,whereyouthinkthereisnowinterbutforgetyoutakeitwithyou.
MysenseswereincreasinglytroubledbythefuddlingperfumeofMilord,fartoopotentareekofpurplishcivetatsuchclosequartersinsosmall
aroom.Hemustbathehimselfinscent,soakhisshirtsandunderlineninitwhatcanhesmellof,thatneedssomuchcamouflage?
Ineversawamansobiglooksotwodimensional,inspiteofthequainteleganceofTheBeast,intheoldfashionedtailcoatthatmight,fromits
looks,havebeenboughtinthosedistantyearsbeforeheimposedseclusiononhimselfhedoesnotfeelheneedkeepupwiththetimes.Thereis
acrudeclumsinessabouthisoutlines,thatareontheungainly,giantsideandhehasanoddairofselfimposedrestraint,asiffightingabattle
withhimselftoremainuprightwhenhewouldfarratherdropdownonallfours.Hethrows.ourhumanaspirationstothegodlikesadlyawry,
poorfellowonlyfromadistancewouldyouthinkTheBeastnotmuchdifferentfromanyotherman,althoughhewearsamaskwithaman's
facepaintedmostbeautifullyonit.Oh,yes,abeautifulfacebutonewithtoomuchformalsymmetryoffeaturetobeentirelyhuman:one
profileofhismaskisthemirrorimageoftheother,tooperfect,uncanny.Hewearsawig,too,falsehairtiedatthenapewithabow,awigofthe
kindyouseeinoldfashionedportraits.Achastesilkstockstuckwithapearlhideshisthroat.Andglovesofblondkidthatareyetsohugeand
clumsytheydonotseemtocoverhands.
HeisacarnivalfiguremadeofpapiermchandcrpehairandyethehastheDevil'sknackatcards.

Hismaskedvoiceechoesasfromagreatdistanceashestoopsoverhishandandhehassuchagrowlingimpedimentinhisspeechthatonlyhis
valet,whounderstandshim,caninterpretforhim,asifhismasterweretheclumsydollandhetheventriloquist.
Thewickslumpedintheerodedwax,thecandlesguttered.Bythetimemyrosehadlostallitspetals,myfather,too,wasleftwithnothing.
'Exceptthegirl.'
Gamblingisasickness.Myfathersaidhelovedmeyethestakedhisdaughteronahandofcards.Hefannedthemoutinthemirror,Isawwild
hopelightuphiseyes.Hiscollarwasunfastened,hisrumpledhairstooduponend,hehadtheanguishofamaninthelaststagesofdebauchery.
Thedraughtscameoutoftheoldwallsandbitme,IwascolderthanI'deverbeeninRussia,whennightsarecoldestthere.
Aqueen,aking,anace.Isawtheminthemirror.Oh,Iknowhethoughthecouldnotlosemebesides,backwithmewouldcomeallhehad
lost,theunravelledfortunesofourfamilyatoneblowrestored.Andwouldhenotwin,aswell,TheBeast'shereditarypalazzooutsidethecity
hisimmenserevenueshislandsaroundtheriverhisrents,histreasurechest,hisMantegnas,hisGiulioRomanos,hisCellinisaltcellars,his
tides...theverycityitself.
Youmustnotthinkmyfathervaluedmeatlessthanaking'sransombut,atnomorethanaking'sransom.
Itwascoldashellintheparlour.Anditseemedtome,childofthesevereNorth,thatitwasnotmyfleshbut,truly,myfather'ssoulthatwasin
peril.
Myfather,ofcourse,believedinmiracleswhatgamblerdoesnot?Inpursuitofjustsuchamiracleasthis,hadwenottravelledfromthelandof
bearsandshootingstars?
Soweteeteredonthebrink.
TheBeastbayedlaiddownallthreeremainingaces.
Theindifferentservantsnowglidedsmoothlyforwardasonwheelstodousethecandlesonebyone.Tolookatthemyouwouldthinkthat
nothingofanymomenthadoccurred.Theyyawnedalittleresentfullyitwasalmostmorning,wehadkeptthemoutofbed.TheBeast'sman
broughthiscloak.Myfathersatamongstthesepreparationsfordeparture,staringonatthebetrayalofhiscardsuponthetable.
TheBeast'smaninformedmecrisplythathe,thevalet,wouldcallformeandmybagstomorrow,atten,andconductmeforthwithtoThe
Beast'spalazzo.Capisco?SoshockedwasIthatIscarcelydid'capisco'herepeatedmyorderspatiently,hewasastrange,thin,quicklittleman
whowalkedwithanirregular,joltingrhythmuponsplayedfeetincurious,wedgeshapedshoes.
Wheremyfatherhadbeenredasfire,nowhewaswhiteasthesnowthatcakedthewindowpane.Hiseyesswamsoonhewouldcry.
'"LikethebaseIndian,"'hesaidhelovedrhetoric.'"Onewhosehand,/LikethebaseIndian,threwapearlaway/Richerthanallhistribe..."I
havelostmypearl,mypearlbeyondprice.'
Atthat,TheBeastmadeasudden,dreadfulnoise,halfwaybetweenagrowlandaroarthecandlesflared.Thequickvalet,theprimhypocrite,
interpretedunblinking:'Mymastersays:Ifyouaresocarelessofyourtreasures,youshouldexpectthemtobetakenfromyou.'
Hegaveusthebowandsmilehismastercouldnotofferusandtheydeparted.
Iwatchedthesnowuntil,justbeforedawn,itstoppedfallingahardfrostsettled,nextmorningtherewasalightlikeiron.
TheBeast'scarriage,ofanelegantifantiquedesign,wasblackasahearseanditwasdrawnbyadashingblackgeldingwhoblewsmokefrom
hisnostrilsandstampeduponthepackedsnowwithenoughsprightlyappearanceoflifetogivemesomehopethatnotalltheworldwaslocked
inice,asIwas.IhadalwaysheldalittletowardsGulliver'sopinion,thathorsesarebetterthanweare,and,thatday,Iwouldhavebeengladto
departwithhimtothekingdomofhorses,ifI'dbeengiventhechance.
Thevaletsatupontheboxinanattyblackandgoldlivery,clasping,ofallthings,abunchofhismaster'sdamnedwhiterosesasifagiftof
flowerswouldreconcileawomantoanyhumiliation.Hesprangdownwithpreternaturalagilitytoplacethemceremoniouslyinmyreluctant
hand.MytearbeslobberedfatherwantsarosetoshowthatIforgivehim.WhenIbreakoffastem,Iprickmyfingerandsohegetshisroseall
smearedwithblood.
Thevaletcrouchedatmyfeettotucktherugsabout.mewithastrangekindofunflatteringobsequiousnessyetheforgothisstationsufficiently
toscratchbusilybeneathhiswhiteperiwigwithanoversuppleindexfingerasheofferedmewhatmyoldnursewouldhavecalledan'old
fashionedlook',ironic,sly,asmidgenofdisdaininit.Andpity?Nopity.Hiseyesweremoistandbrown,hisfaceseamedwiththeinnocent
cunningofanancientbaby.Hehadanirritatinghabitofchatteringtohimselfunderhisbreathallthetimeashepackeduphismaster's
winnings.Idrewthecurtainstoconcealthesightofmyfather'sfarewellmyspitewassharpasbrokenglass.
LosttoTheBeast!Andwhat,Iwondered,mightbetheexactnatureofhis'beastliness'?MyEnglishnurseoncetoldmeaboutatigermanshe
sawinLondon,whenshewasalittlegirl,toscaremeintogoodbehaviour,forIwasawildweethingandshecouldnottamemeinto
submissionwithafrownorthebribeofaspoonfulofjam.Ifyoudon'tstopplaguingthenursemaids,mybeauty,thetigermanwillcomeand
takeyouaway.They'dbroughthimfromSumatra,intheIndies,shesaidhishinderpartswereallhairyandonlyfromtheheaddownwardsdid
heresembleaman.
AndyetTheBeastgoesalwaysmaskeditcannotbehisfacethatlookslikemine.
Butthetigerman,inspiteofhishairiness,couldtakeaglassofaleinhishandlikeagoodChristiananddrinkitdown.Hadshenotseenhimdo
so,atthesignofTheGeorge,bythestepsofUpperMoorFieldswhenshe,wasjustashighasmeandlispedandtoddled,too.Thenshewould
sighforLondon,acrosstheNorthSeaofthelapseofyears.But,ifthisyoungladywasnotagoodlittlegirlanddidnoteatherboiledbeetroot,
thenthetigermanwouldputonhisbigblacktravellingcloaklinedwithfur,justlikeyourdaddy's,andhiretheErlKing'sgalloperofwindand
ridethroughthenightstraighttothenurseryand
Yes,mybeauty!GOBBLEYOUUP!
HowI'dsquealindelightedterror,halfbelievingher,halfknowingthatsheteasedme.AndtherewerethingsIknewthatImustnottellher.In
ourlostfarmyard,wherethegigglingnursemaidsinitiatedmeintothemysteriesofwhatthebulldidtothecows,Iheardaboutthewaggoner's
daughter.Hush,hush,don'tletontoyournursiewesaidsothewaggoner'slass,harelipped,squinteyed,uglyassin,whowouldhavetaken
her?Yet,tohershame,herbellyswelledamidthecruelmockeryoftheostlersandhersonwasbornofabear,theywhispered.Bornwithafull
peltandteeththatprovedit.But,whenhegrewup,hewasagoodshepherd,althoughhenevermarried,livedinahutoutsidethevillageand
couldmakethewindblowanywayhewantedtobesidesbeingabletotellwhicheggswouldbecomecocks,whichhens.
Thewonderingpeasantsoncebroughtmyfatheraskullwithhornsfourincheslongoneithersideofitandwouldnotgobacktothefieldwhere
theirpoorploughdisturbedituntilthepriestwentwiththemforthisskullhadthejawboneofaman,haditnot?

Oldwives'tales,nurseryfears!IknewwellenoughthereasonforthetrepidationIcosilytitillatedwithsuperstitiousmarvelsofmychildhoodon
thedaymychildhoodended.FornowmyownskinwasmysolecapitalintheworldandtodayI'dmakemyfirstinvestment
Wehadleftthecityfarbehindusandwerenowtraversingawide,flatdishofsnowwherethemutilatedstumpsofthewillowsflourishedtheir
ciliateheadsathwartfrozenditchesmistdiminishedthehorizon,broughtdowntheskyuntilitseemednomorethanafewinchesaboveus.As
faraseyecouldsee,notonethingliving.Howstarveling,howbereftthedeadseasonofthisspuriousEdeninwhichallthefruitwasblightedby
cold!Andmyfrailroses,alreadyfaded.Iopenedthecarriagedoorandtossedthedefunctbouquetintotherucked,froststiffmudoftheroad.
Suddenlyasharp,freezingwindaroseandpeltedmyfacewithadryriceofpowderedsnow.Themistliftedsufficientlytorevealbeforemean
acreageofhalfderelictfaadesofsheerredbrick,thevastmantrap,themegalomaniaccitadelofhispalazzo.
Itwasaworldinitselfbutadeadone,aburnedoutplanet.IsawTheBeastboughtsolitude,notluxury,withhismoney.
Thelittleblackhorsetrottedsmartlythroughthefiguredbronzedoorsthatstoodopentotheweatherlikethoseofabarnandthevalethanded
meoutofthecarriageontothescarredtilesofthegreathallitself,intotheodorouswarmthofastable,sweetwithhay,acridwithhorsedung.
Anequinechorusofneighingsandsoftdrummingsofhoovesbrokeoutbeneaththetallroof,wherethebeamswerescabbedwithlastsummer's
swallows'nestsadozengracilemuzzlesliftedfromtheirmangersandturnedtowardsus,earserect.TheBeasthadgivenhishorsestheuseof
thediningroom.Thewallswerepainted,aptlyenough,withafrescoofhorses,dogsandmeninawoodwherefruitandblossomgrewonthe
boughtogether.
Thevalettweakedpolitelyatmysleeve.Milordiswaiting.
Gapingdoorsandbrokenwindowsletthewindineverywhere.Wemountedonestaircaseafteranother,ourfeetcloppingonthemarble.
Througharchwaysandopendoors,IglimpsedsuitesofvaultedchambersopeningoneoutofanotherlikesystemsofChineseboxesintothe
infinitecomplexityoftheinnardsoftheplace.HeandIandthewindweretheonlythingsstirringandallthefurniturewasunderdustsheets,
thechandeliersbundledupincloth,picturestakenfromtheirhooksandproppedwiththeirfacestothewallsasiftheirmastercouldnotbearto
lookatthem.Thepalacewasdismantled,asifitsownerwereabouttomovehouseorhadneverproperlymovedinTheBeasthadchosento
liveinanuninhabitedplace.
Thevaletdartedmeareassuringglancefromhisbrown,eloquenteyes,yetaglancewithsomuchqueersuperciliousnessinitthatitdidnot
comfortme,andwentboundingaheadofmeonhisbandylegs,softlychatteringtohimself.Iheldmyheadhighandfollowedhimbut,forall
mypride,myheartwasheavy.
Milordhashiseyriehighabovethehouse,asmall,stifling,darkenedroomhekeepshisshutterslockedatnoon.Iwasoutofbreathbythetime
wereacheditandreturnedtohimthesilencewithwhichhegreetedme.Iwillnotsmile.Hecannotsmile.
Inhisrarelydisturbedprivacy,TheBeastwearsagarmentofOttomandesign,aloose,dullpurplegownwithgoldembroideryroundtheneck
thatfallsfromhisshoulderstoconcealhisfeet.Thefeetofthechairhesitsinarehandsomelyclawed.Hehideshishandsinhisamplesleeves.
Theartificialmasterpieceofhisfaceappalsme.Asmallfireinasmallgrate.Arushingwindrattlestheshutters.
Thevaletcoughed.Tohimfellthedelicatetaskoftransmittingtomehismaster'swishes.
'Mymaster'
Astickfellinthegrate.Itmadeamightyclatterinthatdreadfulsilencethevaletstartedlosthisplaceinhisspeech,beganagain.
'Mymasterhasbutonedesire.'
Thethick,rich,wildscentwithwhichMilordhadsoakedhimselfthepreviouseveninghangsallaboutus,ascendsincursivebluefromthe
smokeofapreciousChinesepot.
'Hewishesonly'
Now,inthefaceofmyimpassivity,thevalettwittered,hisironiccomposuregone,forthedesireofamaster,howevertrivial,mayyetsound
unbearablyinsolentinthemouthofaservantandhisroleofgobetweenclearlycausedhimagooddealofembarrassment.Hegulpedhe
swallowed,atlastcontrivedtounleashanunpunctuatedflood.
'Mymaster'ssoledesireistoseetheprettyyoungladyunclothednudewithoutherdressandthatonlyfortheonetimeafterwhichshewillbe
returnedtoherfatherundamagedwithbankers'ordersforthesumwhichhelosttomymasteratcardsandalsoanumberoffinepresentssuchas
furs,jewelsandhorses'
Iremainedstanding.Duringthisinterview,myeyeswerelevelwiththoseinsidethemaskthatnowevadedmineasif,tohiscredit,hewas
ashamedofhisownrequestevenashismouthpiecemadeitforhim.Agitato,moltoagitato,thevaletwrunghiswhiteglovedhands.
'Desnuda'
Icouldscarcelybelievemyears.Iletoutaraucousguffawnoyoungladylaughslikethat!myoldnurseusedtoremonstrate.ButIdid.Anddo.
Attheclamourofmyheartlessmirth,thevaletdancedbackwardswithperturbation,palpitatinghisfingersasifattemptingtowrenchthemoff,
expostulating,wordlesslypleading.IfeltthatIowedittohimtomakemyreplyinasexquisiteaTuscanasIcouldmaster.
'Youmayputmeinawindowlessroom,sir,andIpromiseyouIwillpullmyskirtuptomywaist,readyforyou.Buttheremustbeasheetover
myface,tohideitthoughthesheetmustbelaidovermesolightlythatitwillnotchokeme.SoIshallbecoveredcompletelyfromthewaist
upwards,andnolights.Thereyoucanvisitmeonce,sir,andonlytheonce.AfterthatImustbedrivendirectlytothecityanddepositedinthe
publicsquare,infrontofthechurch.Ifyouwishtogivememoney,thenIshouldbepleasedtoreceiveit.ButImuststressthatyoushouldgive
meonlythesameamountofmoneythatyouwouldgivetoanyotherwomaninsuchcircumstances.However,ifyouchoosenottogivemea
present,thenthatisyourright.'
HowpleasedIwastoseeIstruckTheBeasttotheheart!For,afterabaker'sdozenheartbeats,onesingletearswelled,glittering,atthecornerof
themaskedeye.Atear!Atear,Ihoped,ofshame.Theteartrembledforamomentonanedgeofpaintedbone,thentumbleddownthepainted
cheektofall,withanabrupttinkle,onthetiledfloor.
Thevalet,tickingandcluckingtohimself,hastilyusheredmeoutoftheroom.Amauvecloudofhismaster'sperfumebillowedoutintothechill
corridorwithusanddissipateditselfonthespinningwinds.
Acellhadbeenpreparedforme,averitablecell,windowless,airless,lighdess,inthevisceraofthepalace.Thevaletlitalampformeanarrow
bed,adarkcupboardwithfruitandflowerscarvedonitbulkedoutofthegloom.
'Ishalltwistanooseoutofmybedlinenandhangmyselfwithit,'Isaid.
'Oh,no,'saidthevalet,fixinguponmewideandsuddenlymelancholyeyes.'Oh,no,youwillnot.Youareawomanofhonour.'

Andwhatwashedoinginmybedroom,thisjiggingcaricatureofaman?WashetobemywarderuntilIsubmittedtoTheBeast'swhimorheto
mine?AmIinsuchreducedcircumstancesthatImaynothavealady'smaid?Asifinreplytomyunspokendemand,thevaletclappedhis
hands.
"Toassuageyourloneliness,madame...'
Aknockingandclatteringbehindthedoorofthecupboardthedoorswingsopenandoutglidesasoubrettefromanoperetta,withglossy,nut
browncurls,rosycheeks,blue,rollingeyesittakesmeamomenttorecognizeher,inherlittlecap,herwhitestockings,herfrilledpetticoats.
Shecarriesalookingglassinonehandandapowderpuffintheotherandthereisamusicalboxwhereherheartshouldbeshetinklesasshe
rollstowardsmeonhertinywheels.
'Nothinghumanliveshere,'saidthevalet.
Mymaidhalted,bowedfromasplitseamatthesideofherbodiceprotrudesthehandleofakey.Sheisamarvellousmachine,themost
delicatelybalancedsystemofcordsandpulleysintheworld.
'Wehavedispensedwithservants,'thevaletsaid.'Wesurroundourselves,instead,forutilityandpleasure,withsimulacraandfinditnoless
convenientthandomostgentlemen.
Thisclockworktwinofminehaltedbeforeme,herbowelschurningoutasettecentominuet,andofferedmetheboldcarnationofhersmile.
Click,clicksheraisesherarmandbusilydustsmycheekswithpink,powderedchalkthatmakesmecoughthenthruststowardsmeherlittle
mirror.
Isawwithinitnotmyownfacebutthatofmyfather,asifIhadputonhisfacewhenIarrivedatTheBeast'spalaceasthedischargeofhisdebt.
What,youselfdeludingfool,areyoucryingstill?Anddrunk,too.Hetossedbackhisgrappaandhurledthetumbleraway.
Seeingmyastonishedfright,thevalettookthemirrorawayfromme,breathedonit,polisheditwiththehamofhisglovedfist,handeditbackto
me.NowallIsawwasmyself,haggardfromasleeplessnight,paleenoughtoneedmymaid'ssupplyofrouge.
Iheardthekeyturnintheheavydoorandthevalet'sfootstepspatterdownthestonepassage.Meanwhile,mydoublecontinuedtopowderthe
air,emittingherjanglingtunebut,asitturnedout,shewasnotinexhaustiblesoonshewaspowderingmoreandyetmorelanguorously,her
metalheartslowedinimitationoffatigue,hermusicalboxrandownuntilthenotesseparatedthemselvesoutofthetuneandploppedlikesingle
raindropsand,asifsleephadovertakenher,atlastshemovednolonger.Asshesuccumbedtosleep,Ihadnooptionbuttodoso,too.Idropped
onthatnarrowbedasiffelled.
TimepassedbutIdonotknowhowmuchthenthevaletwokemewithrollsandhoney.Igesturedthetrayawaybuthesetitdownfirmly
besidethelampandtookfromitalittleshagreenbox,whichheofferedtome.
Iturnedawaymyhead.
'Oh,mylady!'Suchhurtcrackedhishighpitchedvoice!Hedextrouslyunfastenedthegoldclasponabedofcrimsonvelvetlayasingle
diamondearring,perfectasatear.
Isnappedtheboxshutandtosseditintoacorner.Thissudden,sharpmovementmusthavedisturbedthemechanismofthedollshejerkedher
armalmostasiftoreprimandme,lettingoutaripplingfartofgavotte.Thenwasstillagain.
'Verywell,'saidthevalet,putout.Andindicateditwastimeformetovisitmyhostagain.Hedidnotletmewashorcombmyhair.Therewas
solittlenaturallightintheinteriorofthepalacethatIcouldnottellwhetheritwasdayornight.
YouwouldnotthinkTheBeasthadbudgedaninch,sinceIlastsawhimhesatinhishugechair,withhishandsinhissleeves,andtheheavyair
nevermoved.Imighthavesleptanhour,anight,oramonth,buthissculpturedcalm,thestiflingairremainedjustasithadbeen.Theincense
rosefromthepot,stilltracedthesamesignatureontheair.Thesamefireburned.
Takeoffmyclothesforyou,likeaballetgirl?Isthatallyouwantofme?
'Thesightofayounglady'sskinthatnomanhasseenbefore'stammeredthevalet.
IwishedI'drolledinthehaywitheveryladonmyfather'sfarm,todisqualifymyselffromthishumiliatingbargain.Thatheshouldwantsolittle
wasthereasonwhyIcouldnotgiveitIdidnotneedtospeakforTheBeasttounderstandme.
Atearcamefromhisothereye.Andthenhemovedheburiedhiscardboardcarnivalheadwithitsribbonedweightoffalsehairin,Iwouldsay,
hisarmshewithdrewhis,Imightsay,handsfromhissleevesandIsawhisfurredpads,hisexcoriatingclaws.
Thedroppedtearcaughtuponhisfurandshone.AndinmyroomforhoursIhearthosepawspadbackandforthoutsidemydoor.
Whenthevaletarrivedagainwithhissilversalver,IhadapairofdiamondearringsofthefinestwaterintheworldIthrewtheotherintothe
cornerwherethefirstonelay.ThevalettwitteredwithaggrievedregretbutdidnotoffertoleadmetoTheBeastagain.Instead,hesmiled
ingratiatinglyandconfided:'Mymaster,hesay:invitetheyoungladytogoriding.'
'What'sthis?'
Hebrisklymimickedtheactionofagallopand,tomyamazement,tunelesslycroaked:'Tantivy!tantivy!ahuntingwewillgo!'
'I'llrunaway,I'llridetothecity.'
'Oh,no,'hesaid.'Areyounotawomanofhonour?'
Heclappedhishandsandmymaidservantclickedandjangledintotheimitationoflife.Sherolledtowardsthecupboardwhereshehadcome
fromandreachedinsideittofetchoutoverhersyntheticarmmyridinghabit.Ofallthings.Myveryownridinghabit,thatI'dleftbehindmein
atrunkinaloftinthatcountryhouseoutsidePetersburgthatwe'dlostlongago,before,even,wesetoutonthiswildpilgrimagetothecruel
South.Eithertheveryridinghabitmyoldnursehadsewnformeorelseacopyofitperfecttothelostbuttonontherightsleeve,therippedhem
heldupwithapin.Iturnedthewornclothaboutinmyhands,lookingforaclue.Thewindthatsprintedthroughthepalacemadethedoor
trembleinitsframehadthenorthwindblownmygarmentsacrossEuropetome?Athome,thebear'ssondirectedthewindsathispleasure
whatdemocracyofmagicheldthispalaceandthefirforestincommon?Or,shouldIbepreparedtoacceptitasproofoftheaxiommyfather
haddrummedintome:that,ifyouhaveenoughmoney,anythingispossible?
'Tantivy,'suggestedthenowtwinklingvalet,evidentlycharmedatthepleasuremixedwithmybewilderment.Theclockworkmaidheldmy
jacketouttomeandIallowedmyselftoshrugintoitasifreluctantly,althoughIwashalfmadtogetoutintotheopenair,awayfromthis
deathlypalace,eveninsuchcompany.

ThedoorsofthehallletthebrightdayinIsawthatitwasmorning.Ourhorses,saddledandbridled,beastsinbondage,werewaitingforus,
strikingsparksfromthetileswiththeirimpatienthooveswhiletheirstablemateslolledateaseamongthestraw,conversingwithoneanotherin
themutespeechofhorses.Apigeonortwo,featherspuffedtokeepoutthecold,struttedabout,peckingatearsofcorn.Thelittleblackgelding
whohadbroughtmeheregreetedmewitharingingneighthatresonatedinsidethemistyroofasinasoundingboxandIknewhewasmeantfor
metoride.
Ialwaysadoredhorses,noblestofcreatures,suchwoundedsensitivityintheirwiseeyes,suchrationalrestraintofenergyattheirhighstrung
hindquarters.Ilirrupedandhurrumphedtomyshiningblackcompanionandheacknowledgedmygreetingwithakissontheforeheadfromhis
softlips.Therewasalittleshaggyponynuzzlingawayatthetrompel'oeilfoliagebeneaththehoovesofthepaintedhorsesonthewall,into
whosesaddlethevaletsprangwithaflourishasofthecircus.ThenTheBeast,wrappedinablackfurlinedcloak,cametoheavehimselfalofta
gravegreymare.Nonaturalhorsemanheheclungtohermanelikeashipwreckedsailortoaspar.
Cold,thatmorning,yetdazzlingwiththesharpwintersunlightthatwoundstheretina.Therewasascurryingwindaboutthatseemedtogowith
us,asifthemasked,immenseonewhodidnotspeakcarrieditinsidehiscloakandletitoutathispleasure,foritstirredthehorses'manesbut
didnotliftthelowlandmists.
Abereftlandscapeinthesadbrownsandsepiasofwinterlayallaboutus,themarshlanddrearilyprotractingitselftowardsthewideriver.Those
decapitatedwillows.Nowandthen,theswoopofabird,itsirreconcilablecry.
Aprofoundsenseofstrangenessslowlybegantopossessme.Iknewmytwocompanionswerenot,inanyway,asothermen,thesimian
retainerandthemasterforwhomhespoke,theonewithclawedforepawswhowasinaplotwiththewitcheswholetthewindsoutoftheir
knottedhandkerchiefsuptowardstheFinnishborder.IknewtheylivedaccordingtoadifferentlogicthanIhaddoneuntilmyfatherabandoned
metothewildbeastsbyhishumancarelessness.Thisknowledgegavemeacertainfearfulnessstillbut,Iwouldsay,notmuch...Iwasayoung
girl,avirgin,andthereforemendeniedmerationalityjustastheydeniedittoallthosewhowerenotexactlylikethemselves,inalltheir
unreason.IfIcouldseenotonesinglesoulinthatwildernessofdesolationallaroundme,thenthesixofusmountsandriders,bothcould
boastamongstusnotonesoul,either,sinceallthebestreligionsintheworldstatecategoricallythatnotbeastsnorwomenwereequippedwith
theflimsy,insubstantialthingswhenthegoodLordopenedthegatesofEdenandletEveandherfamiliarstumbleout.Understand,then,that
thoughIwouldnotsayIprivatelyengagedinmetaphysicalspeculationaswerodethroughthereedyapproachestotheriver,Icertainly
meditatedonthenatureofmyownstate,howIhadbeenboughtandsold,passedfromhandtohand.Thatclockworkgirlwhopowderedmy
cheeksformehadInotbeenallottedonlythesamekindofimitativelifeamongstmenthatthedollmakerhadgivenher?
Yet,astothetruenatureofthebeingofthisclawedmaguswhorodehispalehorseinastylethatmademerecallhowKublaiKhan'sleopards
wentouthuntingonhorseback,ofthatIhadnonotion.
Wecametothebankoftheriverthatwassowidewecouldnotseeacrossit,sostillwithwinterthatitscarcelyseemedtoflow.Thehorses
loweredtheirheadstodrink.Thevaletclearedhisthroat,abouttospeakwewereinaplaceofperfectprivacy,beyondabrakeofwinterbare
rushes,ahedgeofreeds.
'Ifyouwillnotlethimseeyouwithoutyourclothes'
Iinvoluntarilyshookmyhead
'youmust,then,prepareyourselfforthesightofmymaster,naked.'
Theriverbrokeonthepebbleswithadiminishingsigh.MycomposuredesertedmeallatonceIwasonthebrinkofpanic.IdidnotthinkthatI
couldbearthesightofhim,whateverhewas.Themareraisedherdrippingmuzzleandlookedatmekeenly,asifurgingme.Thisriverbroke
againatmyfeet.Iwasfarfromhome.
'You,'saidthevalet,'must.'
WhenIsawhowscaredhewasImightrefuse,Inodded.
Thereedboweddowninasuddensnarlofwindthatbroughtwithitagustoftheheavyodourofhisdisguise.Thevaletheldouthismaster's
cloaktoscreenhimfrommeasheremovedthemask.Thehorsesstirred.
Thetigerwillneverliedownwiththelambheacknowledgesnopactthatisnotreciprocal.Thelambmustlearntorunwiththetigers.
Agreat,feline,tawnyshapewhosepeltwasbarredwithasavagegeometryofbarsthecolourofburnedwood.Hisdomed,heavyhead,so
terriblehemusthideit.Howsubtlethemuscles,howprofoundthetread.Theannihilatingvehemenceofhiseyes,liketwinsuns.
IfeltmybreastrippedapartasifIsufferedamarvellouswound.
Thevaletmovedforwardasiftocoveruphismasternowthegirlhadacknowledgedhim,butIsaid:'No.'Thetigersatstillasaheraldicbeast,
inthepacthehadmadewithhisownferocitytodomenoharm.HewasfarlargerthanIcouldhaveimagined,fromthepoor,shabbythingsI'd
seenonce,intheCzar'smenagerieatPetersburg,thegoldenfruitoftheireyesdimming,witheringinthefarNorthofcaptivity.Nothingabout
himremindedmeofhumanity.
Itherefore,shivering,nowunfastenedmyjacket,toshowhimIwoulddohimnoharm.YetIwasclumsyandblushedalittle,fornomanhad
seenmenakedandIwasaproudgirl.Prideitwas,notshame,thatthwartedmyfingerssoandacertaintrepidationlestthisfraillittlearticleof
humanupholsterybeforehimmightnotbe,initself,grandenoughtosatisfyhisexpectationsofus,sincethose,forallIknew,mighthavegrown
infiniteduringtheendlesstimehehadbeenwaiting.Thewindclatteredintherushes,purledandeddiedintheriver.
Ishowedhisgravesilencemywhiteskin,myrednipples,andthehorsesturnedtheirheadstowatchme,also,asifthey,too,werecourteously
curiousastothefleshlynatureofwomen.ThenTheBeastloweredhismassiveheadEnough!saidthevaletwithagesture.Thewinddied
down,allwasstillagain.
Thentheywentofftogether,thevaletonhispony,thetigerrunningbeforehimlikeahound,andIwalkedalongtheriverbankforawhile.Ifelt
Iwasatlibertyforthefirsttimeinmylife.Thenthewintersunbegantotarnish,afewflakesofsnowdriftedfromthedarkeningskyand,when
Ireturnedtothehorses,IfoundTheBeastmountedagainonhisgreymare,cloakedandmaskedandoncemore,toallappearances,aman,
whilethevalethadafinecatchofwaterfowldanglingfromhishandandthecorpseofayoungroebuckslungbehindhissaddle.Iclimbedupon
theblackgeldinginsilenceandsowereturnedtothepalaceasthesnowfellmoreandmoreheavily,obscuringthetracksthatwehadleft
behindus.
Thevaletdidnotreturnmetomycellbut,instead,toanelegant,ifoldfashionedboudoirwithsofasoffadedpinkbrocade,ajinn'streasuryof
Orientalcarpets,tintinnabulationofcutglasschandeliers.Candlesinantleredholdersstruckrainbowsfromtheprismaticheartsofmydiamond
earrings,thatlayonmynewdressingtableatwhichmyattentivemaidstoodreadywithherpowderpuffandmirror.Intendingtofixthe
ornamentsinmyears,Itookthelookingglassfromherhand,butitwasinthemidstofoneofitsmagicfitsagainandIdidnotseemyownface
initbutthatofmyfatheratfirstIthoughthesmiledatme.ThenIsawhewassmilingwithpuregratification.

Hesat,Isaw,intheparlourofourlodgings,attheverytablewherehehadlostme,butnowhewasbusilyengagedincountingouta
tremendouspileofbanknotes.Myfather'scircumstanceshadchangedalreadywellshaven,neatlybarbered,smartnewclothes.Afrostedglass
ofsparklingwinesatconvenienttohishandbesideanicebucket.TheBeasthadclearlypaidcashonthenailforhisglimpseofmybosom,and
paiduppromptly,asifithadnotbeenasightImighthavediedofshowing.ThenIsawmyfather'strunkswerepacked,readyfordeparture.
Couldhesoeasilyleavemehere?
Therewasanoteonthetablewiththemoney,inafinehand.Icouldreaditquiteclearly.'Theyoungladywillarriveimmediately.'Someharlot
withwhomhe'dbrisklynegotiatedaliaisononthestrengthofhisspoils?Notatall.For,atthatmoment,thevaletknockedatmydoorto
announcethatImightleavethepalaceatanytimehereafter,andheboreoverhisarmahandsomesablecloak,myveryownlittlegratuity,The
Beast'smorninggift,inwhichheproposedtopackmeupandsendmeoff.
WhenIlookedatthemirroragain,myfatherhaddisappearedandallIsawwasapale,holloweyedgirlwhomIscarcelyrecognized.Thevalet
askedpolitelywhenheshouldpreparethecarriage,asifhedidnotdoubtthatIwouldleavewithmybootyatthefirstopportunitywhilemy
maid,whosefacewasnolongerthespitofmyown,continuedbonnilytobeam.Iwilldressherinmyownclothes,windherup,sendherback
toperformthepartofmyfather'sdaughter.
'Leavemealone,'Isaidtothevalet.
Hedidnotneedtolockthedoor,now.Ifixedtheearringsinmyears.Theywereveryheavy.ThenItookoffmyridinghabit,leftitwhereitlay
onthefloor.But,whenIgotdowntomyshift,myarmsdroppedtomysides.Iwasunaccustomedtonakedness.Iwassounusedtomyown
skinthattotakeoffallmyclothesinvolvedakindofflaying.IthoughtTheBeasthadwantedalittlethingcomparedwithwhatIwasprepared
togivehimbutitisnotnaturalforhumankindtogonaked,notsincefirstwehidourloinswithfigleaves.Hehaddemandedtheabominable.I
feltasmuchatrociouspainasifIwasstrippingoffmyownunderpeltandthesmilinggirlstoodpoisedintheoblivionofherbalkedsimulation
oflife,watchingmepeeldowntothecold,whitemeatofcontractand,ifshedidnotseeme,thensomuchmorelikethemarketplace,wherethe
eyesthatwatchyoutakenoaccountofyourexistence.
Anditseemedmyentirelife,sinceIhadlefttheNorth,hadpassedundertheindifferentgazeofeyeslikehers.
ThenIwasflinchingstark,exceptforhisirreproachabletears.
IhuddledinthefursImustreturntohim,tokeepmefromthelaceratingwindsthatracedalongthecorridors.Iknewthewaytohisdenwithout
thevalettoguideme.
Noresponsetomytentativeraponhisdoor.
Thenthewindblewthevaletwhirlingalongthepassage.Hemusthavedecidedthat,ifoneshouldgonaked,thenallshouldgonakedwithout
hislivery,herevealedhimself,asIhadsuspected,adelicatecreature,coveredwithsilkenmothgreyfur,brownfingerssuppleasleather,
chocolatemuzzle,thegentlestcreatureintheworld.HegibberedalittletoseemyfinefursandjewelsasifIweredressedupfortheoperaand,
withagreatdealoftenderceremony,removedthesablesfrommyshoulders.Thesablesthereuponresolvedthemselvesintoapackofblack,
squeakingratsthatrattledimmediatelydownthestairsontheirhardlittlefeetandwerelosttosight.
ThevaletbowedmeinsideTheBeast'sroom.
Thepurpledressinggown,themask,thewig,werelaidoutonhischairaglovewasplantedoneacharm.Theemptyhouseofhisappearance
wasreadyforhimbuthehadabandonedit.Therewasareekoffurandpisstheincensepotlaybrokeninpiecesonthefloor.Halfburnedsticks
werescatteredfromtheextinguishedfire.Acandlestuckbyitsowngreasetothemantelpiecelittwonarrowflamesinthepupilsofthetiger's
eyes.
Hewaspacingbackwardsandforwards,backwardsandforwards,thetipofhisheavytailtwitchingashepacedoutthelengthandbreadthofhis
imprisonmentbetweenthegnawedandbloodybones.
Hewillgobbleyouup.
Nurseryfearsmadefleshandsinewearliestandmostarchaicoffears,fearofdevourment.ThebeastandhiscarnivorousbedofboneandI,
white,shaking,raw,approachinghimasifoffering,inmyself,thekeytoapeaceablekingdominwhichhisappetiteneednotbemyextinction.
Hewentstillasstone.HewasfarmorefrightenedofmethanIwasofhim.
Isquattedonthewetstrawandstretchedoutmyhand.Iwasnowwithinthefieldofforceofhisgoldeneyes.Hegrowledatthebackofhis
throat,loweredhishead,sankontohisforepaws,snarled,showedmehisredgullet,hisyellowteeth.Inevermoved.Hesnuffedtheair,asifto
smellmyfearhecouldnot.
Slowly,slowlyhebegantodraghisheavy,gleamingweightacrossthefloortowardsme.
Atremendousthrobbing,asoftheenginethatmakestheearthturn,filledthelittleroomhehadbeguntopurr.
Thesweetthunderofthispurrshooktheoldwalls,madetheshuttersbatterthewindowsuntiltheyburstapartandletinthewhitelightofthe
snowymoon.TilescamecrashingdownfromtheroofIheardthemfallintothecourtyardfarbelow.Thereverberationsofhispurringrocked
thefoundationsofthehouse,thewallsbegantodance.Ithought:'Itwillallfall,everythingwilldisintegrate.'
Hedraggedhimselfcloserandclosertome,untilIfelttheharshvelvetofhisheadagainstmyhand,thenatongue,abrasiveassandpaper.'He
willlicktheskinoffme!'
Andeachstrokeofhistonguerippedoffskinaftersuccessiveskin,alltheskinsofalifeintheworld,andleftbehindanascentpatinaofshining
hairs.MyearringsturnedbacktowaterandtrickleddownmyshouldersIshruggedthedropsoffmybeautifulfur.

PussinBoots
FigarohereFigaro,there,Itellyou!Figaroupstairs,Figarodownstairsandoh,mygoodnessme,thislittleFigarocanslipintomylady's
chambersmartasyoulikeatanytimewhatsoeverthathetakesthefancyfor,don'tyouknow,he'sacatoftheworld,cosmopolitan,
sophisticatedhecantellwhenafurryfriendistheMissus'bestcompany.Forwhatladyinalltheworldcouldsay'no'tothepassionateyet
toujoursdiscretadvancesofafinemarmaladecat?(Unlessitbehereyesincontinentlyoverflowattheslightestwhiffoffur,whichhappened
once,asyoushallhear.)
Atom,sirs,agingertomandproudofit.Proudofhisfine,whiteshirtfrontthatdazzlesharmoniouslyagainsthisorangeandtangerine
tessellations(oh!whatafierysuitoflightshaveI)proudofhisbirdentrancingeyeandmorethanmilitarywhiskersproud,toafault,some
say,ofhisfine,musicalvoice.AllthewindowsinthesquareflyopenwhenIbreakintoimpromptusongatthespectacleofthemoonabove
Bergamo.Ifthepoorplayersinthesquare,thesullenroutofraggedtrashthathauntstheprovinces,arerewardedwithahailofpennieswhen

theysetuptheirmakeshiftstageandstarttheirraucouschoruses,thenhowmuchmoreliberallydothecitizensdelugemewithpailsofthe
freshestwater,vegetableshardlyspoiledand,occasionally,slippers,shoesandboots.
Doyouseethesefine,high,shiningleatherbootsofmine?Ayoungcavalryofficermademethetributeof,first,onethen,afterIcelebratehis
generositywithafreshobbligato,themoonnofullerthanmyheartwhoops!Inimblyspringasidedowncomestheother.Theirhighheelswill
clicklikecastanetswhenPusstakeshispromenadeuponthetiles,formysongrecallsflamenco,allcatshaveaSpanishtingealthoughPuss
himselfelegantlylubricateshisvirile,muscular,nativeBergamasquewithFrench,sincethatistheonlylanguageinwhichyoucanpurr.
'Merrrrrrrrrrrci!'
InstanterIdrawmynewbootsonoverthenattywhitestockingsthatterminatemyhinderlegs.Thatyoungman,observingwithcuriosityby
moonlighttheusetowhichIputhisfootwear,callsout:'Hey,Puss!Puss,there!'
'Atyourservice,sir!'
'Uptomybalcony,youngPuss!'
Heleansout,inhisnightshirt,offeringencouragementasIswingsuccinctlyupthefaade,forepawsonacurlycherub'spate,hindpawsona
stuccowreath,bringthemuptomeetyourforepawswhile,firstpawforward,hup!ontothestonenymph'stitleftpawdownabit,thesatyr's
bumshoulddothetrick.Nothingtoit,onceyouknowhow,rococo'snoproblem.Acrobatics?BorntothemPusscanperformaback
somersaultwhilstholdingaloftaglassofvinoinhisrightpawandneverspilladrop.
But,tomyshame,thefamousdeathdefyingtriplesomersaultenpleinair,thatis,inmiddleair,thatis,unsupportedandwithoutasafetynet,I,
Puss,haveneveryetattemptedthoughoftenIhavedashinglybroughtoffthedoubletour,totheapplauseofall.
'Youstrikemeasacatofparts,'saysthisyoungmanwhenI'marrivedathiswindowsill.Imadehimahandsomegenuflection,rumpout,tail
up,headdown,tofacilitatehisfriendlychuckundermychinand,asinvoluntaryfreegift,mynatural,myhabitualsmile.
Forallcatshavethisparticularity,eachandeveryone,fromthemeanestalleysneakertotheproudest,whitestshethatevergracedapontiff's
pillowwehaveoursmiles,asitwere,paintedon.Thosesmall,cool,quietMonaLisasmilesthatsmilewemust,nomatterwhetherit'sbeen
funorit'sbeennot.Soallcatshaveapolitician'sairwesmileandsmileandsotheythinkwe'revillains.But,Inote,thisyoungmanis
somethingofasmilerhisself.
'Asandwich,'heoffers.'And,perhaps,asnifterofbrandy.'
Hislodgingsarepoor,thoughhe'shandsomeenoughandevenendshabill,nightcapandall,there'saneat,smart,dandifiedairabouthim.
Hereisonewhoknowswhat'swhat,thinksIamanwhokeepsupappearancesinthebedchambercanneverembarrassyououtofit.And
excellentbeefsandwichesIrelishaleansliceofroastbeefandearlylearnedatasteforspirits,sinceIstartedlifeasawineshopcat,hunting
cellarratsformykeep,beforetheworldsharpenedmywitsenoughtoletmelivebythem.
Andtheupshotofthismidnightinterview?I'mengaged,onthespot,asSir'svalet:valetdechambreand,fromtimetotime,hisbodyservant,
for,whenfundsarerunninglow,astheymustdoforeverygallantofficerwhenthepickingsfalloff,hepawnsthequilt,doesn'the.Thenfaithful
Pusscurlsuponhischesttokeephimwarmatnights.
Andifhedon'tlikemetokneadhisnipples,which,outofthepurestaffectionandthedesireouch!hesaystotesttheretractabilityofmy
claws,Idoinmomentsofabsenceofmind,thenwhatothervaletcouldslipintoayounggirl'ssacredprivacyanddeliverherabilletdouxatthe
verymomentwhenshe'sreadingherprayerbookwithhersaintedmother?AtaskIonceortwiceperformforhim,tohisinfinitegratitude.
And,asyouwillhear,broughthimatlasttothebestoffortunesforusall.
SoPussgothispostatthesametimeashisbootsandIdaresaytheMasterandIhavemuchincommonforhe'sproudasthedevil,touchyas
tintacks,lecherousasliquoriceand,thoughIsayitasloveshim,asquickwittedarascalaseverputoncleanlinen.
Whentimeswerehard,I'dpilferthemarketforbreakfastaherring,anorange,aloafweneverwenthungry.Pussservedhimwellinthe
gamingsalons,too,foracatmaymovefromlaptolapwithimpunityandcasthiseyeoveranyhandofcards.Acatcanjumponthedicehe
can'tresisttoseeitroll!poorthing,mistookitforabirdand,afterI'vebeen,limpspined,stifflegged,playingthesillybuggers,scoopedupto
bechastised,whocanrememberhowthedicefellinthefirstplace?
Andwehad,besides,less...gentlemanlymeansofmaintenancewhentheyclosedthetablestous,as,churlishly,theysometimesdid.I'd
performmylittleSpanishdancewhilehewentroundwithhishat:ol!Butheonlyputmyloyaltyandaffectiontothetestofthishumiliation
whenthecupboardwasasbareashisbacksideafter,infact,he'dsunksolowastopawnhisdrawers.
SoallwentrightasninepenceandyouneversawsuchbooncompanionsasPussandhismasteruntilthemanmustneedsgofallinlove.
'Headoverheels,Puss.'
Iwentaboutmyablutions,tonguingmyarseholewiththeimpeccablehygienicintegrityofcats,onelegstuckintheairlikeahamboneI
choosetoremainsilent.Love?Whathasmyrakishmaster,forwhomI'vejumpedthroughthewindowofeverybrothelinthecity,besides
hauntingthevirginalbackgardenoftheconventandgodknowswhatothergoatisherrands,todowiththetenderpassion?
'Andshe.Aprincessinatower.RemoteandshiningasAldebaran.Chainedtoadoltanddragonguarded.'
IwithdrewmyheadfrommyprivatesandfixedhimwithmymostsatiricsmileIdarehimwarbleoninthatstrain.
'Allcatsarecynics,'heopines,quailingbeneathmyyellowglare.
Itisthehazardofitdrawshim,see.
Thereisaladysitsinawindowforonehourandonehouronly,atthetenderesttimeofdusk.Youcanscarcelyseeherfeatures,thecurtains
almosthidehershroudedlikeaholyimage,shelooksoutatthepiazzaastheshopsshutup,thestallsgodown,thenightcomeson.Andthatis
alltheworldsheeversees.NeveragirlinallBergamososecludedexcept,onSundays,theylethergotoMass,bundledupinblack,withaveil
on.Andthensheisinthecompanyofanagedhag,herkeeper,whogrumpsalonggrimasaprisondinner.
Howdidheseethatsecretface?WhoelsebutPussrevealedit?
Backwecomefromthetablessolate,soverylateatnightwefound,toouremergentsurprise,thatallatonceitwasearlyinthemorning.His
pocketswereheavywithsilverandbothourgutssweetlyagurglewithchampagneLadyLuckhadsatwithus,whatfinespiritswerewein!
Winterandcoldweather.Thepioustrottochurchalreadywithlittlelanternsthroughthechillfogaswegoungodlyrollinghome.

See,ablackbarque,likeastatefuneralandPusstakesitintohisbubblyaddledbraintoboardher.Tackingobliquelytoherside,Irubmy
marmaladepateagainsthershinhowcouldanyduenna,besheneversostern,takeoffenceatsuchattentionstoherchargelingfromalittlecat?
(Asitturnsout,thisone:attishooo!does.)AwhitehandfragrantasArabiadescendsfromtheblackcloakandreciprocallyrubsbehindhisears
atjusttheecstaticspot.Pussletsriparoaringpurr,rearsbrieflyonhishighheeledbootsjigwithjoyandpirouettewithgleeshelaughstosee
anddrawsherveilaside.Pussglimpseshighabove,asitwere,analabasterlamplitbehindbydawn'sfirstflush:herface.
Andshesmiling.
Foramoment,justthatmoment,youwouldhavethoughtitwasMaymorning.
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'Comealong!Come!Don'tdawdleoverthenastybeast!'snapstheoldhag,withtheonetoothinhermouth,andwartsshesneezes.
HOUSTON
Theveilcomesdownsocolditis,anddark,again.
ItwasnotIalonewhosawherwiththatsmileheswearsshestolehisheart.

JwMarriottHoustonDowntown
apartirde

U$S

Tarifaporpersonaenbasedobleocudruple
segncorresponda.

109

Love.
I'vesatinscrutablybyandwashedmyfaceandsparklingdickywithmycleverpawwhilehemadethebeastwithtwobackswitheveryharlotin
thecity,besidesanumberofgoodwives,dutifuldaughters,rosycountrygirlscometosellceleryandendiveonthecorner,andthe
chambermaidwhostripsthebed,what'smore.TheMayor'swife,even,shedherdiamondearringsforhimandthewifeofthenotaryunshufiled
herpetticoatsand,ifIcould,Iwouldblushtorememberhowherdaughtershookoutherflaxenplaitsandjumpedinbedbetweenthemandshe
notsixteenyearsold.Butnevertheword,'love',hasfallenfromhislips,norinnoroutofanyofthesetransports,untilmymastersawthewife
ofSignorPanteleoneasshewentwalkingouttoMass,andsheliftedupherveilthoughnotforhim.
Andnowheishalfsickwithitandwillgotothetablesnomoreforlackofheartandneverevenpatsthebustlingrumpofthechambermaidin
hisnewfound,maudlincelibacy,sowegetourslopsleftfesteringfordaysandthesheetsfilthyandthewenchgoesbangingaboutbad
temperedlywithherbroomenoughtofetchtheplasteroffthewalls.
I'llswearhelivesforSundaymorning,thoughneverbeforewasheareligiousman.Saturdaynights,hebatheshimselfpunctiliously,even,I'm
gladtosee,washesbehindhisears,perfumeshimself,presseshisuniformsoyou'dthinkhehadarighttowearit.Somuchinlovehevery
rarelypanderstothepleasures,evenofOnan,asheliestossingonhiscouch,forhecannotsleepforfearhemissthesummoningbell.Thenout
intothecoldmorning,harkingafterthatblack,vagueshape,haplessfishermanforthissealedoysterwithsuchapearlinit.Hecreepsbehindher
acrossthesquarehowcansoamorousbeartobesoinconspicuous?Andyet,hemustthough,sometimes,theoldhagsneezesandsaysshe
swearsthereisacatabout.
Hewillinsinuatehimselfintothepewbehindmiladyandsometimescontrivetotouchthehemofhergarment,whentheyallkneel,andnevera
thoughttohisorisonssheisthedivinityhe'scometoworship.Thensitssilent,inadream,tillbedtimewhatpleasureishiscompanyforme?
Hewon'teat,either.Ibroughthimafinepigeonfromtheinnkitchen,freshoffthespit,parfumavectarragon,buthewouldn'ttouchitsoI
cruncheditup,bonesandall.Performing,aseveraftermeals,mymeditativetoilette,Ipondered,thus:one,heisinafairwaytoruiningusboth
byneglectinghisbusinesstwo,loveisdesiresustainedbyunfulfilment.IfIleadhimtoherbedchamberandtherehetakeshisfillofherlily
white,he'llberightasrainintwoshakesandnextdaytricksasusual.
ThenMasterandhisPusswillsoonbesolventonceagain.
Which,atthemoment,verymuchnot,sir.
ThisSignorPanteleoneemploys,hisonlyservantbutthehag,akitchencat,asleek,sprytabbywhomIaccost.Graspingtheslackofherneck
firmlybetweenmyteeth,Igaveherthecustomarytributeofafewfirmthrustsofmystripedloinsand,whenshegotherbreathback,she
assuredmeinthefriendliestfashiontheoldmanwasafoolandamiserwhokeptherselfonshortcommonsforthesakeofthemousingandthe
youngladyasoftheartedcreaturewhosmuggledbreastofchickenandsometimes,whenthehagdragongovernessnappedatmidday,snatched
thisprettykittyoutofthehearthandintoherbedroomtoplaywithreelsofsilkandrunaftertrailedhandkerchiefs,whensheandshehadas
muchfuntogetherastwoCinderellasatanallgirls'ball.
Poor,lonelylady,marriedsoyoungtoanolddoddererwithhisbaldpateandhisgoggleeyesandhislimp,hisavarice,hisgorebelly,his
rheumaticks,andhisflaghangsallthetimeathalfmastindeedandjealousasheisimpotent,tabbydeclareshe'dputastoptoalltheruttingin
theworld,ifhehadhisway,justtocertifyhisyoungwifedon'tgetfromanotherwhatshecan'tgetfromhim.
'Thenshallwehatchaplottoantlerhim,myprecious?'
Nothingloath,shetellsmethebesttimeforthisaccomplishmentshouldbetheonedayinalltheweekheforsakeshiswifeandhiscounting
housetorideoffintothecountrytoextortmostgraspingrentsfromstarvelingtenantfarmers.Andshe'sleftallalone,then,behindsomany
boltsandbarsyouwouldn'tbelieveallalonebutforthehag!
Aha!Thishagturnsouttobethebiggestsnaganironplated,copperbottomed,swornmanhaterofsomesixtybitterwinterswhoasillluck
wouldhaveitshatters,clatters,eruptsintoparoxysmsofthesneezeattheveryglimpseofacat'swhisker.NochanceofPussworminghis
winsomewayintothatone'saffections,norformytabby,neither!But,ohmydear,Isayseehowmyingenuityrisestothischallenge...Sowe
resumethesweetestpartofourconversationinthedustyconvenienceofthecoalholeandshepromisesme,leastshecando,toseethefair,
hithertoinaccessibleonegetsalettersafeifIslipittoherandslipittoherforthwithIdo,thoughsomewhatdiscommodedbymyboots.
Hespentthreehoursoverhisletter,didmymaster,aslongasittakesmetolickthecoaldustoffmydicky.Hetearsuphalfaquireofpaper,
splaysfivepennibswiththeforceofhisadoration:'Looknotforanypeace,myhearthavingbecomeaslavetothisbeauty'styranny,dazzled
amIbythissun'sraysandmytormentscannotbeassuaged.'That'snotthehighroadtotherumplingofthebedcoversshe'sgotoneninny
betweenthemalready!
'Speakfromtheheart,'Ifinallyexhort.'Andallgoodwomenhaveamissionarystreak,sirconvinceherherorificewillbeyoursalvationand
she'syours.'
'WhenIwantyouradvice,Puss,I'llaskforit,'hesays,allatoncehoitytoity.Butatlasthemanagestopentenpagesarake,aprofligate,a
cardsharper,acashieredofficerwellonthewaytorackandruinwhenfirsthesaw,asifitwereaglimpseofgrace,herface...hisangel,his
goodangel,whowillleadhimfromperdition.
Oh,whatamasterpiecehepenned!
'Suchtearssheweptathisaddresses!'saysmytabbyfriend.'Oh,Tabs,shesobsforshecallsme"Tabs"Inevermeanttowreaksuchhavoc
withapureheartwhenIsmiledtoseeabootedcat!Andputhispapernexttoherheartandswore,itwasagoodsoulthatsentherhisvowsand
shewastoomuchinlovewithvirtuetowithstandhim.If,sheadds,forshe'sasensiblegirl,he'sneitheroldasthehillsnoruglyassin,thatis.'

Anadmirablelittlenotethelady'ssenthiminreturn,perFigarohereandtheresheadoptsaresponsiveyetuncompromisingtone.For,saysshe,
howcansheusefullydiscusshispassionfurtherwithoutaglimpseofhisperson?
Hekissesherletteronce,twice,athousandtimesshemustandwillseeme!Ishallserenadeherthisveryevening!
So,whenduskfalls,offwetrottothepiazza,hewithanoldguitarhepawnedhisswordtobuyandmost,ifImaysayso,outlandishlyrigged
outinsomekindofvagabondmountebank'soutfithebarteredhisgoldbraidedwaistcoatwithpoorPierrotbrayinginthesquarefor,moonstruck
zany,lovelornloonhewashimselfandevenplasteredhisfacewithflourtomakeitwhite,poorfool,andsoramhomehisheartsickstate.
Theresheis,theeveningstarwiththecloudsaroundherbutsuchacreakingofcartsinthesquare,suchaclatterandcrashastheydismantlethe
stalls,suchanululationofballadsingersandorationofnostrumpeddlersandperturbationoferrandboysthatthoughhewailsouthisheartto
her:'Oh,mybeloved!',whyshe,allinadream,sitswithhergazeinthemiddledistance,wherethere'sacrescentmoonstuckontheskybehind
thecathedralprettyasapaintedstage,andsoisshe.
Doesshehearhim?
Notagracenote.
Doessheseehim?
Neveraglance.
'Upyougo,Pusstellhertolookmyway!'
Ifrococo'sapieceofcake,thatchaste,tasteful,earlyPalladianstumpedmanyabettercatthanIinitstime.Agility'snotinit,whenitcomesto
Palladiandaringalonewillcarrythedayand,thoughthefirststorey'sgracedwithaheftycaryatidwhosebulbousloinclothandtremendous
pectsfacilitatethefirstascent,theDoriccolumnonherheadprovesahorseofadifferentcolour,Icantellyou.HadInotseenmyprecious
Tabbycrouchedinthegutterabovemekeeningencouragement,I,evenI,mightneverhavebravedthatflying,upwardleapthatbroughtme,as
ifHarlequinhimselfonwires,inoneboundtoherwindowsill.
'Deargod!'theladysays,andjumps.Iseeshe,too,ah,sentimentalthing!clutchesawellthumbedletter.'Pussinboots!'
Ibowherwithacourtlyflourish.Whatlucktohearnosnifforsneezewhere'shag?Asuddenfluxspedhertotheprivynotamomenttolose.
'Castyoureyebelow,'Ihiss.'Himyouknowoflurksbelow,inwhitewiththebighat,readytosingyouaneveningditty.'
Thebedroomdoorcreaksopen,then,and:wheelthroughtheairPussgoes,discretionisthebetterpart.And,forboththeirsweetsakesIdidit,
thesightofboththeirbrighteyesinspiredmetotheneverbeforeattempted,bymeoranyothercat,inbootsoroutofthemthedeathdefying
triplesomersault!
Andathreestoreydroptoground,what'smoreagranddescent.
Onlythemeresttriflewinded,I'mproudtosay,IneatlylandonallmyfoursandTabsgoeswild,huzzah!Buthasmymasterwitnessedmy
triumph?Hashe,myarse.He'stuningupthatoldmandolinandbreaks,asdownIcome,againintohissong.
Iwouldneverhavesaid,inthenormalcourseofthings,hisvoicewouldcharmthebirdsoutofthetrees,likemineandyetthebustlediedfor
him,thehomewardturningcosterspausedintheirtrackstohearken,thepreeningstreetgirlsforgottheirhardedgedsmilesastheyturnedto
himandsomeoftheoldoneswept,theydid.
Tabs,upontheroofthere,prickupyourears!ForbyitspowerIknowmyheartisinhisvoice.
Andnowtheladylowershereyestohimandsmiles,asonceshesmiledatme.
Then,bang!asternhandpullstheshuttersto.Anditwasasifallthevioletsinallthebasketsofalltheflowersellersdroopedandfadedatonce
andspringstoppeddeadinitstracksandmight,thistime,notcomeatallandthebustleandthebusinessofthesquare,thathadsomagically
quietedforhissong,nowroseupagainwiththeharshclamourofthelossoflove.
Andwetrudgedrearilyofftodirtysheetsandameansupperofbreadandcheese,allIcanstealhim,butatleastthepoorsoulmanifestsahearty
appetitenowsheknowshe'sintheworldandnottheugliestofmortalsforthefirsttimesincethatfatefulmorning,sleepssound.Butsleep
conieshardtoPusstonight.Hetakesamidnightstrollacrossthesquare,sooncomfortablydiscussesachoicemorselofsaltcodhistabbyfriend
foundamongtheashesonthehearthbeforeourconverseturnstoothermatters.
'Rats!'shesays.'Andtakeyourbootsoff,youuncouthbuggerthosethreeinchheelswreakhavocwiththesoftfleshofmyunderbelly!'
Whenwe'drecoveredourselvesalittle,Iaskherwhatshemeansbythose'rats'ofhersandsheproposesherschemetome.Howmymaster
mustposeasaratcatcherandI,hisambulantmarmaladerattrap.Howwewillthengokilltheratsthatravagemilady'sbedchamber,theday
theoldfoolgoestofetchhisrents,andshecanhaveherwilloftheladatleisurefor,ifthereisonethingthehagfearsmorethanacat,itisarat
andshe'llcowerinacupboardtillthelastratisoffthepremisesbeforeshecomesout.Oh,thistabbyone,sharpasatackisshe!Icongratulate
heringenuitywithafewaffectionatecuffsroundtheheadandhomeagain,forbreakfast,ubiquitousPuss,here,thereandeverywhere,who's
yourFigaro?
Masterapplaudstheratploybut,astotheratsthemselves,howaretheytoarriveinthehouseinthefirstplace?hequeries.
'Nothingeasier,sirmyaccomplice,awittysoubrettewholivesamongthecinders,dedicatedassheistotheyounglady'shappiness,will
personallystrewalargenumberofdeadanddyingratsshehasherselfcollectedaboutthebedroomofthesaidingenue'sduenna,and,most
particularly,thatofthesaidingnueherself.Thistobedonetomorrowmorning,assoonasSirPantaloonridesouttofetchhisrents.Bygood
fortune,downinthesquare,plyingforhire,aratcatcher!Sinceourhagcannotabideeitheraratoracat,itfallstomiladytoescorttherat
catcher,noneotherthanyourself,sir,andhisintrepidhunter,myself,tothesiteoftheinfestation.
'Onceyou'reinherbedroom,sir,ifyoudon'tknowwhattodo,thenIcan'thelpyou.'
'Keepyourfoulthoughtstoyourself,Puss.'
Somethings,Isee,aresacrosanctfromhumour.
Sureenough,promptatfiveinthebleaknextmorning,Iobservewithmyowneyesthelovelylady'slubberyhusbandhumpoffonhishorselike
asackofpotatoestorakeinhisdues.We'rereadywithoursign:SIGNORFURIOSO,THELIVINGDEATHOFRATSandintheleathershe's
borrowedfromtheporter,Ihardlyrecognizehimmyself,notwiththefalsemoustache.Hecoaxesthechambermaidwithafewkissespoor,
deceivedgirl!loveknowsnoshameandsoweinstallourselvesunderacertainshutteredwindowwiththegreatpileoftrapsshe'slentus,the

signofourprofession,Pussperchedatopthembearingthehumbleyetdeterminedlookofaswornenemyofvermin.
We'venotwaitedmorethanfifteenminutesandjustaswell,somanyratplaguedBergamotsapproachusalreadyandarenoteasilydissuaded
fromemployinguswhenthefrontdoorfliesopenonalustyscream.Thehag,aghast,flingsherarmsroundflinchingFurioso,howfortuitous
tofindhim!But,atthewhiffofme,she'ssneezingsovaliantly,hereyesawash,theverticalguttersofhernostrilsaswillwithsnot,shebarely
candepictthescenesinside,rattusdomesticusdeadinherbedandallandworse!intheMissus'room.
SoSignerFuriosoandhisquestingPussareusheredintotheverysanctuaryofthegoddess,ourpresenceannouncedbyafanfarefromher
keeperonthenoseharp.Attishhoooo!!!
Sweetandpleasantinamorninggownoflooselinen,ouringenuejumpsatthetattooofmybootheelsbutrecoversinstantlyandthewheezing,
hawkinghagisinnostatetosnifflemorethan:'Ain'tIseenthatcatbefore?'
'Notachance,'saysmymaster.'Why,he'scomebutyesterdaywithmefromMilano.'
Soshehastomakedowiththat.
MyTabshaslinedtheverystairswithratsshe'smadeamorgueofthehag'sroombutsomethingmorelivelyofthelady's.Forsomeofherprey
she'sverycleverlynotkilledbutcrippledabigblackbeastieweavesitswaytowardsusovertheturkeycarpet,Puss,pounce!Between
screamingandsneezing,thehag'sinafinestate,Icantellyou,thoughmiladyexhibitsamostpraiseworthyandcollectedpresenceofmind,
being,Iguess,ayoungwomanofnosmallgraspso,perhaps,shehasasniffoftheplot,already.
Mymastergoesdownhandsandkneesunderthebed.
'Mygod!'hecries.'There'sthebiggesthole,hereinthewainscoting,Ieversawinallmyprofessionalcareer!Andthere'sanarmyofblackrats
gatheringbehindit,readytostormthrough!Toarms!'
But,forallherterror,thehag'sloathtoleavetheMasterandmealonetodealwiththeratsshecastshereyeonasilverbackedhairbrush,a
coralrosary,twitters,hovers,screeches,muttersuntilmiladyassuresher,amidstscenesofrisingpandemonium:
'IshallstayheremyselfandseethatSignorFuriosodoesn'tmakeoffwithmytrinkets.Yougoandrecoveryourselfwithaninfusionoffriar's
balsamanddon'tcomebackuntilIcall.'
Thehagdepartsquickasaflash,labelleturnsthekeyinthedooronherandsoftlylaughs,thenaughtyone.
Dustingtheslutflufffromhisknees,SignerFuriosonowstandsslowlyuprightswiftly,heremoveshisfalsemoustache,fornoelementofthe
farcicalmustmarthisfirst,deliriousencounteroftheselovers,mustit.(Poorsoul,howhishandstremble!)
AccustomedasIamtothesplendid,felinenakednessofmykind,thatoffersnoconcealmentofthatsoulmademanifestinthefleshoflovers,I
amalwaysalittlemovedbythepoignantreticencewithwhichhumanityshylyhesitatestodivestitselfofitsclutterofconcealingragsinthe
presenceofdesire.So,first,thesetwosmile,alittle,asiftosay:'Howstrangetomeetyouhere!',uncertainofalovingwelcome,still.AnddoI
deceivemyself,ordoIseeatearatwinkleinthecornerofhiseye?Butwhoisitstepstowardstheotherfirst?Why,shewomen,Ithink,are,of
thetwosexes,themorekeenlytunedtothesweetmusicoftheirbodies.(Apennyformyfoulthoughts,indeed!Doesshe,thatwise,grave
personageinthenglig,thinkyou'vestagedthisgrandcharademerelyinordertokissherhand?)But,thenoh,whataprettyblush!steps
backnowit'shisturntotaketwostepsforwardinthesarabandofEros.
Icouldwish,though,they'ddancealittlefasterthehagwillsoonrecoverfromherspasmsandshallshefindtheminflagrante?
Hishand,then,trembling,uponherbosomhers,initiallymorehesitant,sequentiallymorepurposeful,uponhisbreeches.Thentheirstrange
trancebreaksthatsentimentalhaveringdone,Ineversawtwofalltoitwithsuchappetite.Asifthewhirlwindgotintotheirfingers,theystrip
eachotherbareinatwinklingandshefallsbackonthebed,showshimthetarget,hedisplaysthedart,scoresaninstantbullseye.Bravo!Never
canthatoldbedhaveshookwithsuchastormbefore.Andtheirsweet,chokedmutterings,poorthings:'Inever...''Mydarling...''More...'And
etc.etc.Enoughtomeltthethorniestheart.
Herisesuponhiselbowsonceandgaspsatme:'Mimicthemurderoftherats,Puss!MaskthemusicofVenuswiththeclamourofDiana!'
Ahuntingweshallgo!Loyaltothelast,IplaycatchascatchcanwithTab'sdeadrats,givingthedyingthecoupdegraceandbayingwith
resonantvigourtodrowntheextravagantscreechesthatbreakforthfromthat(whowouldhavesuspected?)morepassionateyoungwomanas
shecomesoffinfinestyle.(Fullmarks,Master.)
Atthat,theoldhagcomesbatteringatthedoor.What'sgoingon?Whyfortheracket?Andthedoorrattlesonitshinges.
'Peace!'criesSignorFurioso.'Haven'tIjustnowblockedthegreathole?'
Butmilady'sinnohurrytodonhersmockagain,shetakesherlovelytimeaboutitsofullofpleasuregratifiedherlanguorouslimbsyou'dthink
herverynavelsmiled.Shepecksmymasterprettilythankyouonthecheek,wetsthegumonhisfalsemoustachewiththetipofherstrawberry
tongueandsticksitbackonhisupperlipforhim,thenletsherwardressintothesceneofthefauxcarnagewiththemostmodestand
irreproachableairintheworld.
'See!Pusshasslaughteredalltherats.'
Irush,purringproud,togreetthehaginstantly,hereyeso'erflow.
'Whythebedclothessodisordered?'shesqueaks,notquiteblinded,yet,byphlegmandchosenforherpostfromalltheotherapplicantson
accountofhersuspiciousmind,even(oh,dutiful)wheningrandepeurdesrats.
'Pusshadamightybattlewiththebiggestbeastyoueversawuponthisverybedcan'tyouseethebloodstainsonthesheets?Andnow,whatdo
weoweyou,SignorFurioso,forthissingularservice?'
'Ahundredducats,'saysI,quickasaflash,forIknowmymaster,lefttohimself,would,likeanhonourablefool,takenothing.
'That'stheentirehouseholdexpensesforamonth!'wailsavarice'swellchosenaccomplice.
'Andwortheverypenny!Forthoseratswouldhaveeatenusoutofhouseandhome.'Iseetheglimmeringsofsturdybackboneinthislittlelady.
'Go,paythemfromyourprivatesavingsthatIknowof,thatyou'veskimmedoffthehousekeeping.'
MutteringandmoaningbutnothingforitexceptdoassheisbidandthefuriousSirandItakeoffalaundrybasketfullofdeadratsassouvenir
wedropit,plop!inthenearestsewer.Andsitdowntoonedinnerhonestlypaidfor,forawonder.

Buttheyoungfoolisoffhisfeed,again.Pusheshisplateaside,laughs,weeps,burieshisheadinhishandsand,timeandtimeagain,goestothe
windowtostareattheshuttersbehindwhichhissweetheartscrubsthebloodawayandmydearTabsrestsfromhersupremeexertions.Hesits,
forawhile,andscribblesripsthepageinfour,hurlsitaside.Ispearafallingfragmentwithaclaw.DearGod,he'stooktowritingpoetry.
'Imustandwillhaveherforever,'heexclaims.
Iseemyplanhascometonothing.Satisfactionhasnotsatisfiedhimthatsoultheybothsawinoneanother'sbodieshassuchinsatiablehunger
nosinglemealcouldeverappeaseit.Ifalltothetoiletteofmyhinderparts,myfavouritestancewhencontemplatingthewaysoftheworld.
'HowcanIlivewithouther?'
Youdidsofortwentysevenyears,sir,andnevermissedherforamoment.
'I'mburningwiththefeveroflove!'
Thenwe'resparedtheexpenseoffires.
'Ishallstealherawayfromherhusbandtolivewithme.'
'Whatdoyouproposetoliveon,sir?'
'Kisses,'hesaiddistractedly.'Embraces.'
'Well,youwon'tgrowfatonthat,sirthoughshewill.Andthen,moremouthstofeed.'
'I'msickandtiredofyourfoulmouthedbarbs,Puss,'hesnaps.Andyetmyheartismoved,fornowhespeakstheplain,clear,foolishrhetoricof
loveandwhoistherecunningenoughtohelphimtohappinessbutI?Scheme,loyalPuss,scheme!
Mywashcompleted,Istepoutacrossthesquaretovisitthatcharmingshewho'swormedherwaydirectlyintomyownhithertountrammelled
heartwithhersharpwitsandherprettyways.Sheexhibitswarmemotiontoseemeand,oh!whatnewsshehastotellme!Newsofaraptand
personalnature,thatturnsmymindtothoughtsofthefuture,and,yes,domesticplansofmostfamilialnature.She'ssavedmeapig'strotter,a
whole,entirepig'strottertheMissussmuggledtoherwithawink.Afeast!Masticating,Imuse.
'Recapitulate,'Isuggest,'thedailymotionsofSirPantaloonwhenhe'sathome.'
Theysetthecathedralclockbyhim,sorigidandsoregularhishabits.Upatthecrack,hemeagrelybreakfastsoffyesterday'scrustsandacupof
coldwater,tosparetheexpenseofheatingitup.Downtohiscountinghouse,countingouthismoney,untilabowlofwellwateredgruelat
midday.Theafternoonhedevotestousury,bankrupting,here,asmalltradesman,there,aweepingwidow,forfunandprofit.Dinner'sluxurious,
atfoursoup,withabitofrancidbeeforatoughbirdinithe'sanarrangementwiththebutcher,takesunsoldstockoffhishandsinreturnfora
shutmouthaboutapiethathadafingerinit.Fromfourthirtyuntilfivethirty,heunlockstheshuttersandletshiswifelookout,oh,don'tI
know!whilehagsitsbesidehertomakesureshedoesn'tsmile.(Oh,thatblessedflux,thosepreciouslooseminutesthatsetthegameinmotion!)
Andwhileshebreathestheairofevening,why,hechecksuponhischestofgems,hisbalesofsilk,allthosetreasureshelovestoomuchto
sharewithdaylightandifhewastesacandlewhenhesoindulgeshimself,why,anymanisentitledtoonelittleextravagance.Anotherdraught
ofAdam'salehealthfullyconcludesthedayuphetucksbesidesMissusand,sincesheishisprizepossession,consentstofingerheralittle.He
palpitatesherhideandslapsherflanks:'Whatagoodbargain!'Alack,candonomore,notwishingtoprofligatehisnaturalessence.Andso
driftsofftosinlessslumberamidtheprospectsoftomorrow'sgold.
'Howrichishe?'
'Croesus.'
'Enoughtokeeptwolovingcouples?"
'Sumptuous.'
Earlyintheuncandledmorning,gropingtotheprivyblearedwithsleep,weretheoldmantoplacehisfootuponthesubfuscyetvolatilefurofa
shadowcamouflagedyoungtabbycat
'Youreadmythoughts,mylove."
Isaytomymaster:'Now,yougetyourselfadoctor'sgown,impedimentaallcompleteorI'mdonewithyou.'
'What'sthis,Puss?'
'DoasIsayandnevermindthereason!Thelessyouknowofwhy,thebetter.'
Soheexpendsafewofthehag'sducatsonablackgownwithawhitecollarandhisskullcapandhisblackbagand,undermydirection,makes
himselfanothersignthatannounces,withallduepomposity,howheisIlFamedDottore:Achescured,painsprevented,bonesset,graduateof
Bologna,physicianextraordinary.Hedemandstoknow,isshetoplaytheinvalidtogivehimfurtheraccesstoherbedroom?
'I'llclaspherinmyarmsandjumpoutofthewindowwetooshallbothperformthetriplesomersaultoflove.'
'Youjustmindyourownbusiness,sir,andletmeminditforyouaftermyownfashion.'
Anotherrawandmistymorning!Hereinthehills,willtheweathereverchange?Sobleakitis,anddrearybuttherehestands,graveasa
sermoninhisblackgownandhalfthemarketpeoplecomewithcoughsandboilsandbrokenheadsandIdispensetheplastersandthevialsof
colouredwaterI'dforethoughtfullystowedinhisbag,hetooagitatotosellforhimself.(And,whoknows,mightwenothavestumbledona
profitableprofessionforfuturepursuit,ifmypresentplansmiscarry?)
Untildawnshootshislittleyethowflamingarrowpastthecathedralonwhichtheclockstrikessix.Atthelaststroke,thatfamousdoorflies
openonceagainandeeeeeeeeeeeeech!thehagletsrip.
'Oh,Doctor,oh,Doctor,comequickasyoucanourgoodman'stakenasorrytumble!'
Andweepingfittofloatasmack,sheis,sodoesn'tseethedoctor'sapprenticeismostcolourfullyandcompletelyfurredandwhiskered.
Theoldbooby'sflatoutatthefootofthestair,hisheadatanacuteanglethatmightturnchronicandabigbunchofkeys,still,grippedinhis
righthandasiftheywerethekeystoheavenmarked:Wantedonvoyage.AndMissus,inherwrap,bendsoverhimwithaprettyairofconcern.

'Afall'shebeginswhensheseesthedoctorbutstopsshortwhensheseesyourservant,Puss,lookingassuitablydowninthemouthashis
chronicsmilewilllethim,humpinghismaster'sstockintradeandhawinglikeasawbones.'You,again,'shesays,andcan'tforbeartogiggle.
Butthedragon'stooblubberedtohear.
Mymasterputshiseartotheoldman'schestandshakeshisheaddolefullythentakesthemirrorfromhispocketandputsittotheoldman's
mouth.Notabreathcloudsit.Oh,sad!Oh,sorrowful!
'Dead,ishe?'sobsthehag.'Brokehisneck,hashe?'
Andsheslylymakesalittlegrabforthekeys,inspiteofherwellorchestrateddistressbutMissusslapsherhandandshegivesover.
'Let'sgethimtoasofterbed,'saysMaster.
Heupsthecorpse,carriesitalofttotheroomweknowfullwell,bumpsPantaloondown,twitchesaneyelid,tapsakneecap,feelsapulse.
'Deadasadoornail,'hepronounces.'It'snotadoctoryouwant,it'sanundertaker.'
Missushasahandkerchiefverydutifullyandcorrectlytohereyes.
'Youjustrunalongandgetone,'shesaystohag.'AndthenI'llreadthewill.Becausedon'tthinkhe'sforgottenyou,thoufaithfulservant.Oh,
mygoodness,no.'
SooffgoeshagyouneversawawomanofheraccumulatedChristmasessprintsofast.Assoonastheyareleftalone,notrifling,thistime
they'reatit,hammerandtongs,downonthecarpetsincethebedisoccup.Upanddown,upanddownhisarseinandout,inandoutherlegs.
Thensheheaveshimupandthrowshimonhisback,herturnatthegrind,now,andyou'dthinkshe'llneverstop.
Toujoursdiscret,Pussoccupieshimselfinunfasteningtheshuttersandthrowingthewindowsopentothebeautifulbeginningsofmorningin
whoselivelyyetfragrantairhissensitivenostrilscatchthefirstandvernalhintofspring.Inafewmoments,mydearfriendjoinsme.Inotice
alreadyorisitonlymyfondimagination?acharmingnewportlinessinhergait,hithertosoelastic,sospringheeled.Andtherewesitupon
thewindowsill,likethetwogeniiandprotectorsofthehouseah,Puss,yourramblingdaysareover.Ishallbecomeahearthrugcat,afatand
cosycushioncat,singtothemoonnomore,settleatlastamidthesedentaryjoysofadomesticitywetwo,sheandI,havesorichlyearned
Theircriesofrapturerousemefromthispleasantrevery.
Thehagchooses,naturellement,thistenderifoutrageousmomenttoreturnwiththeundertakerinhischiffonedtopper,plusabraceofmutes
blackasbeetles,glumasbailiffs,bearingtheelmboxbetweenthemtotakethecorpseawayin.Buttheycheerupsomethingwonderfulatthe
unexpectedspectaclebeforethemandheandsheconcludetheiramorousinterludeamidstroarsofapprobationandtorrentsofapplause.
Butwhataracketthehagmakes!Police,murder,thieves!UntiltheMasterchucksherpursefulofgoldbackagain,foragratuity.(Meanwhile,I
notethatsensibleyoungwoman,mothernakedassheis,hasyetthepresenceofmindtocatchholdofherhusband'skeyringandsharplytugit
fromhissere,coldgrip.Onceshe'sgotthekeyssecure,she'sinchargeofall.)
'Now,nomoreofyournonsense!'shesnapstohag.'IfIherebygiveyouthesack,you'llgetahandsomegifttogoalongwithyoufornow'
flourishingthekeys'Iamarichwidowandhere'indicatingtoallmybareyetblissfulmaster'istheyoungmanwho'llbemysecond
husband.'
WhenthegovernessfoundSignorPanteleonehadindeedrememberedherinhiswill,leftherakeepsakeofthecuphedrankhismorningwater
from,shemadenotasqueakmore,pocketedafatsumwiththanksand,sneezing,tookherselfoffwithnomorecriesof'murder',neither.The
oldbuffoonbrisklybundledinhiscoffinandburiedMastercomesintoagreatfortuneandMissusroundingoutalreadyandtheyashappyas
pigsinplunk.
ButmyTabsbeathertoit,sincecatsdon'ttakemuchtimeaboutengenderingthreefine,newmintedgingerkittens,allcompletewithsnowy
socksandshirtfronts,tumbleinthecreamandtangleMissus'sknittingandputasmileoneveryface,notjusttheirmother'sandproudfather's
forTabsandIsmilealldaylongand,thesedays,weputourheartsinit.
Somayallyourwives,ifyouneedthem,berichandprettyandallyourhusbands,ifyouwantthem,beyoungandvirileandallyourcatsas
wily,perspicaciousandresourcefulas:
PUSSINBOOTS.

TheErlKing
Thelucidity,theclarityofthelightthatafternoonwassufficienttoitselfperfecttransparencymustbeimpenetrable,theseverticalbarsofa
brasscoloureddistillationoflightcomingdownfromsulphuryellowintersticesinaskyhunkeredwithgreycloudsthatbulgewithmorerain.It
struckthewoodwithnicotinestainedfingers,theleavesglittered.AcolddayoflateOctober,whenthewitheredblackberriesdangledliketheir
owndourspooksonthediscolouredbrambles.Therewerecrisphusksofbeechmastandcastacorncupsunderfootintherussetslimeofdead
brackenwheretherainsoftheequinoxhadsosoakedtheearththatthecoldoozedupthroughthesolesoftheshoes,lancinatingcoldofthe
approachofwinterthatgripsholdofyourbellyandsqueezesittight.Nowthestarkeldershaveananorexiclookthereisnotmuchinthe
autumnwoodtomakeyousmilebutitisnotyet,notquiteyet,thesaddesttimeoftheyear.Only,thereisahauntingsenseoftheimminent
cessationofbeingtheyear,inturning,turnsinonitself.Introspectiveweather,asickroomhush.
Thewoodsenclose.Youstepbetweenthefirsttreesandthenyouarenolongerintheopenairthewoodswallowsyouup.Thereisnoway
throughthewoodanymore,thiswoodhasrevertedtoitsoriginalprivacy.Onceyouareinsideit,youmuststaythereuntilitletsyououtagain
forthereisnocluetoguideyouthroughinperfectsafetygrassgrewoverthetrackyearsagoandnowtherabbitsandthefoxesmaketheirown
runsinthesubtlelabyrinthandnobodycomes.Thetreesstirwithanoiseliketaffetaskirtsofwomenwhohavelostthemselvesinthewoods
andhuntroundhopelesslyforthewayout.Tumblingcrowsplaytiginthebranchesoftheelmstheyclottedwiththeirnests,nowandthen
raucouslycawing.Alittlestreamwithsoftmarginsofmarshrunsthroughthewoodbutithasgrownsullenwiththetimeoftheyearthesilent,
blackishwaterthickens,now,toice.Allwillfallstill,alllapse.
AyounggirlwouldgointothewoodastrustinglyasRedRidingHoodtohergranny'shousebutthislightadmitsofnoambiguitiesand,here,
shewillbetrappedinherownillusionbecauseeverythinginthewoodisexactlyasitseems.
Thewoodsencloseandthenencloseagain,likeasystemofChineseboxesopeningoneintoanothertheintimateperspectivesofthewood
changedendlesslyaroundtheinterloper,theimaginarytravellerwalkingtowardsaninventeddistancethatperpetuallyrecededbeforeme.Itis
easytoloseyourselfinthesewoods.
Thetwonotesofthesongofabirdroseonthestillair,asifmygirlishanddeliciouslonelinesshadbeenmadeintoasound.Therewasalittle
tangledmistinthethickets,mimickingthetuftsofoldman'sbeardthatflossedthelowerbranchesofthetreesandbushesheavybunchesofred

berriesasripeanddeliciousasgoblinorenchantedfruithungonthehawthornsbuttheoldgrasswithers,retreats.Onebyone,thefernshave
curleduptheirhundredeyesandcurledbackintotheearth.Thetreesthreadedacat'scradleofhalfstrippedbranchesovermesothatIfeltIwas
inahouseofnetsandthoughthecoldwindthatalwaysheraldsyourpresence,hadIbutknownitthen,blewgentlearoundme,Ithoughtthat
nobodywasinthewoodbutme.
ErlKingwilldoyougrievousharm.
Piercingly,now,therecameagainthecallofthebird,asdesolateasifitcamefromthethroatofthelastbirdleftalive.Thatcall,withallthe
melancholyofthefailingyearinit,wentdirectlytomyheart.
IwalkedthroughthewooduntilallitsperspectivesconvergeduponadarkeningclearingassoonasIsawthem,Iknewatoncethatallits
occupantshadbeenwaitingformefromthemomentIfirststeppedintothewood,withtheendlesspatienceofwildthings,whohaveallthe
timeintheworld.
Itwasagardenwherealltheflowerswerebirdsandbeastsashsoftdoves,diminutivewrens,freckledthrushes,robinsintheirtawnybibs,
huge,helmetedcrowsthatshonelikepatentleather,ablackbirdwithayellowbill,voles,shrews,fieldfares,littlebrownbunnieswiththeirears
laidtogetheralongtheirbackslikespoons,crouchingathisfeet.Alean,tall,reddishhare,uponitsgreathindlegs,noseatwitch.Therustyfox,
itsmuzzlesharpenedtoapoint,laiditsheaduponhisknee.Onthetrunkofascarletrowanasquirrelclung,towatchhimacockpheasant
delicatelystretchedhisshimmeringneckfromabrakeofthorntopeerathim.Therewasagoatofuncannywhiteness,gleaminglikeagoatof
snow,whoturnedhermildeyestowardsmeandbleatedsoftly,sothatheknewIhadarrived.
Hesmiles.Helaysdownhispipe,hiselderbirdcall.Helaysuponmehisirrevocablehand.
Hiseyesarequitegreen,asiffromtoomuchlookingatthewood.
Therearesomeeyescaneatyou.
TheErlKinglivesbyhimselfallaloneintheheartofthewoodinahousewhichhasonlytheoneroom.Hishouseismadeofsticksandstones
andhasgrownapeltofyellowlichen.Grassandweedsgrowinthemossyroof.Hechopsfallenbranchesforhisfireanddrawshiswaterfrom
thestreaminatinpail.
Whatdoesheeat?Why,thebountyofthewoodland!Stewednettlessavourymessesofchickweedsprinkledwithnutmeghecooksthefoliage
ofshepherd'spurseasifitwerecabbage.Heknowswhichofthefrilled,blotched,rottedfungiarefittoeatheunderstandstheireldritchways,
howtheyspringupovernightinlightlessplacesandthriveondeadthings.Eventhehomelywoodblewits,thatyoucookliketripe,withmilk
andonions,andtheeggyolkyellowchanterellewithitsfanvaultingandfaintscentofapricots,allspringupovernightlikebubblesofearth,
unsustainedbynature,existinginavoid.AndIcouldbelievethatithasbeenthesamewithhimhecamealivefromthedesireofthewoods.
Hegoesoutinthemorningtogatherhisunnaturaltreasures,hehandlesthemasdelicatelyashedoespigeons'eggs,helaystheminoneofthe
basketsheweavesfromosiers.Hemakessaladsofthedandelionthathecallsrudenames,'bumpipes'or'pissthebeds',andflavoursthemwith
afewleavesofwildstrawberrybuthewillnottouchthebrambles,hesaystheDevilspitsonthematMichaelmas.
Hisnannygoat,thecolourofwhey,giveshimherabundantmilkandhecanmakesoftcheesethathasaunique,rank,amniotictaste.Sometimes
hetrapsarabbitinasnareofstringandmakesasouporstew,seasonedwithwildgarlic.Heknowsallaboutthewoodandthecreaturesinit.
Hetoldmeaboutthegrasssnakes,howtheoldonesopentheirmouthswidewhentheysmelldangerandthethinlittleonesdisappeardownthe
oldones'throatsuntilthefrightisoverandouttheycomeagain,torunaroundasusual.Hetoldmehowthewisetoadwhosquatsamongthe
kingcupsbythestreaminsummerhasaverypreciousjewelinhishead.Hesaidtheowlwasabaker'sdaughterthenhesmiledatme.He
showedmehowtothreadmatsfromreedsandweaveosiertwigsintobasketsandintothelittlecagesinwhichhekeepshissingingbirds.
Hiskitchenshakesandshiverswithbirdsongfromcageuponcageofsingingbirds,larksandlinnets,whichhepilesuponeonanotheragainst
thewall,awalloftrappedbirds.Howcruelitis,tokeepwildbirdsincages!ButhelaughsatmewhenIsaythatlaughs,andshowshiswhite,
pointedteethwiththespittlegleamingonthem.
Heisanexcellenthousewife.Hisrustichomeisspickandspan.Heputshiswellscouredsaucepanandskilletneatlyonthehearthsidebyside,
likeapairofpolishedshoes.Overthehearthhangbunchesofdryingmushrooms,thethin,curlingkindtheycalljew'sears,whichhavegrown
ontheeldertreessinceJudashangedhimselfononethisisthekindoflorehetellsme,temptingmyhalfbelief.Hehangsupherbsinbunches
todry,toothyme,marjoram,sage,vervain,southernwood,yarrow.Theroomismusicalandaromaticandthereisalwaysawoodfirecrackling
inthegrate,asweet,acridsmoke,abright,glancingflame.Butyoucannotgetatuneoutoftheoldfiddlehangingonthewallbesidethebirds
becauseallitsstringsarebroken.
Now,whenIgoforwalks,sometimesinthemorningswhenthefrosthasputitsshinythumbprintontheundergrowthorsometimes,thoughless
frequently,yetmoreenticingly,intheeveningswhenthecolddarknesssettlesdown,IalwaysgototheErlKingandhelaysmedownonhis
bedofrustlingstrawwhereIlieatthemercyofhishugehands.
Heisthetenderbutcherwhoshowedmehowthepriceoffleshisloveskintherabbit,hesays!Offcomeallmyclothes.
Whenhecombshishairthatisthecolourofdeadleaves,deadleavesfalloutofittheyrustleanddrifttothegroundasthoughhewereatree
andhecanstandasstillasatree,whenhewantsthedovestofluttersoftly,crooningastheycome,downuponhisshoulders,thosesilly,fat,
trustingwoodieswiththeprettyweddingringsroundtheirnecks.Hemakeshiswhistlesoutofaneldertwigandthatiswhatheusestocallthe
birdsoutoftheairallthebirdscomeandthesweetestsingershewillkeepincages.
Thewindstirsthedarkwooditblowsthroughthebushes.Alittleofthecoldairthatblowsovergraveyardsalwaysgoeswithhim,itcrispsthe
hairsonthebackofmyneckbutIamnotafraidofhimonly,afraidofvertigo,ofthevertigowithwhichheseizesme.Afraidoffallingdown.
FallingasabirdwouldfallthroughtheairiftheErlKingtiedupthewindsinhishandkerchiefandknottedtheendstogethersotheycouldnot
getout.Thenthemovingcurrentsoftheairwouldnolongersustainthemandallthebirdswouldfallattheimperativeofgravity,asIfalldown
forhim,andIknowitisonlybecauseheiskindtomethatIdonotfallstillfurther.Theearthwithitsfragilefleeceoflastsummer'sdying
leavesandgrassessupportsmeonlyoutofcomplicitywithhim,becausehisfleshisofthesamesubstanceasthoseleavesthatareslowly
turningintoearth.
Hecouldthrustmeintotheseedbedofnextyear'sgenerationandIwouldhavetowaituntilhewhistledmeupfrommydarknessbeforeIcould
comebackagain.
Yet,whenheshakesoutthosetwoclearnotesfromhisbirdcall,Icome,likeanyothertrustingthingthatperchesonthecrookofhiswrist.
IfoundtheErlKingsittingonanivycoveredstumpwindingallthebirdsinthewoodtohimonadiatonicspoolofsound,onerisingnote,one
fallingnotesuchasweetpiercingcallthatdowntherecameasoft,chirrupingjostleofbirds.Theclearingwasclutteredwithdeadleaves,some
thecolourofhoney,somethecolourofcinders,somethecolourofearth.HeseemedsomuchthespiritoftheplaceIsawwithoutsurprisehow
thefoxlaiditsmuzzlefearlesslyuponhisknee.Thebrownlightoftheendofthedaydrainedintothemoist,heavyearthallsilent,allstilland
thecoolsmellofnightcoming.Thefirstdropsofrainfell.Inthewood,noshelterbuthiscottage.

ThatwasthewayIwalkedintothebirdhauntedsolitudeoftheErlKing,whokeepshisfeatheredthingsinlittlecageshehaswovenoutof
osiertwigsandtheretheysitandsingforhim.
Goat'smilktodrink,fromachippedtinmugweshalleattheoatcakeshehasbakedonthehearthstone.Rattleoftherainontheroof.Thelatch
clanksonthedoorweareshutupinsidewithoneanother,inthebrownroomcrispwiththescentofburninglogsthatshiverwithtinyflame,
andIliedownontheErlKing'screakingpalliasseofstraw.Hisskinisthetintandtextureofsourcream,hehasstiff,russetnipplesripeas
berries.Likeatreethatbearsbloomandfruitonthesameboughtogether,howpleasing,howlovely.
Andnowach!Ifeelyoursharpteethinthesubaqueousdepthsofyourkisses.Theequinoctialgalesseizethebareelmsandmakethemwhizz
andwhirllikedervishesyousinkyourteethintomythroatandmakemescream.
Thewhitemoonabovetheclearingcoldlyilluminatesthestilltableauxofourembracements.HowsweetIroamed,or,rather,usedtoroam
onceIwastheperfectchildofthemeadowsofsummer,butthentheyearturned,thelightclarifiedandIsawthegauntErlKing,tallasatree
withbirdsinitsbranches,andhedrewmetowardshimonhismagiclassoofinhumanmusic.
IfIstrungthatoldfiddlewithyourhair,wecouldwaltztogethertothemusicastheexhausteddaylightfoundersamongthetreesweshould
havebettermusicthantheshrillprothalamionsofthelarksstackedintheirprettycagesastheroofcreakswiththefreightofbirdsyou'velured
toitwhileweengageinyourprofanemysteriesundertheleaves.
Hestripsmetomylastnakedness,thatunderskinofmauve,pearlizedsatin,likeaskinnedrabbitthendressesmeagaininanembracesolucid
andencompassingitmightbemadeofwater.AndshakesovermedeadleavesasifintothestreamIhavebecome.
Sometimesthebirds,atrandom,allsinging,strikeachord.
Hisskincoversmeentirelyweareliketwohalvesofaseed,enclosedinthesameintegument.Ishouldliketogrowenormouslysmall,sothat
youcouldswallowme,likethosequeensinfairytaleswhoconceivewhentheyswallowagrainofcornorasesameseed.ThenIcouldlodge
insideyourbodyandyouwouldbearme.
Thecandlefluttersandgoesout.HistouchbothconsolesanddevastatesmeIfeelmyheartpulse,thenwither,nakedasastoneontheroaring
mattresswhilethelovely,moonynightslidesthroughthewindowtodappletheflanksofthisinnocentwhomakescagestokeepthesweetbirds
in.Eatme,drinkmethirsty,cankered,goblinridden,Igobackandbacktohimtohavehisfingersstripthetatteredskinawayandclothemein
hisdressofwater,thisgarmentthatdrenchesme,itsslitheringodour,itscapacityfordrowning.
Nowthecrowsdropwinterfromtheirwings,invoketheharshestseasonwiththeircry.
Itisgrowingcolder.Scarcelyaleafleftonthetreesandthebirdscometohiminevengreaternumbersbecause,inthishardweather,itislean
pickings.Theblackbirdsandthrushesmusthuntthesnailsfromhedgebottomsandcracktheshellsonstones.ButtheErlKinggivesthemcorn
andwhenhewhistlestothem,amomentlateryoucannotseehimforthebirdsthathavecoveredhimlikeasoftfalloffeatheredsnow.He
spreadsoutagoblinfeastoffruitforme,suchappallingsucculenceIlieabovehimandseethelightfromthefiresuckedintotheblackvortex
ofhiseye,theomissionoflightatthecentre,there,thatexertsonmesuchatremendouspressure,itdrawsmeinwards.
Eyesgreenasapples.Greenasdeadseafruit.
Awindrisesitmakesasingular,wild,low,rushingsound.
Whatbigeyesyouhave.Eyesofanincomparableluminosity,thenuminousphosphorescenceoftheeyesoflycanthropes.Thegelidgreenof
youreyesfixesmyreflectivefaceItisapreservative,likeagreenliquidamberitcatchesme.IamafraidIwillbetrappedinitforeverlikethe
poorlittleantsandfliesthatstucktheirfeetinresinbeforetheseacoveredtheBaltic.Hewindsmeintothecircleofhiseyeonareelof
birdsong.Thereisablackholeinthemiddleofbothyoureyesitistheirstillcentre,lookingtheremakesmegiddy,asifImightfallintoit.
Yourgreeneyeisareducingchamber.IfIlookintoitlongenough,Iwillbecomeassmallasmyownreflection,Iwilldiminishtoapointand
vanish.Iwillbedrawndownintothatblackwhirlpoolandbeconsumedbyyou.Ishallbecomesosmallyoucankeepmeinoneofyourosier
cagesandmockmylossofliberty.IhaveseenthecageyouareweavingformeitisaveryprettyoneandIshallsit,hereafter,inmycage
amongtheothersingingbirdsbutIIshallbedumb,fromspite.
WhenIrealizedwhattheErlKingmeanttodotome,IwasshakenwithaterriblefearandIdidnotknowwhattodoforIlovedhimwithall
myheartandyetIhadnowishtojointhewhistlingcongregationhekeptinhiscagesalthoughhelookedafterthemveryaffectionately,gave
themfreshwatereverydayandfedthemwell.Hisembraceswerehisenticementsandyet,ohyet!theywerethebranchesofwhichthetrap
itselfwaswoven.Butinhisinnocenceheneverknewhemightbethedeathofme,althoughIknewfromthefirstmomentIsawhimhowErl
Kingwoulddomegrievousharm.
Althoughthebowhangsbesidetheoldfiddleonthewall,allthestringsarebrokensoyoucannotplayit.Idon'tknowwhatkindoftunesyou
mightplayonit,ifitwerestrungagainlullabiesforfoolishvirgins,perhaps,andnowIknowthebirdsdon'tsing,theyonlycrybecausethey
can'tfindtheirwayoutofthewood,havelosttheirfleshwhentheyweredippedinthecorrosivepoolsofhisregardandnowmustliveincages.
Sometimeshelayshisheadonmylapandletsmecombhislovelyhairforhimhiscombingsareleavesofeverytreeinthewoodanddryly
susurratearoundmyfeet.Hishairfallsdownovermyknees.SilencelikeadreaminfrontofthespittingfirewhileheliesatmyfeetandIcomb
thedeadleavesoutofhislanguoroushair.Therobinhasbuilthisnestinthethatchagain,thisyearheperchesonanunburntlog,cleanshis
beak,ruffleshisplumage.Thereisaplaintivesweetnessinhissongandacertainmelancholy,becausetheyearisovertherobin,thefriendof
man,inspiteofthewoundinhisbreastfromwhichErlKingtoreouthisheart.
LayyourheadonmykneesothatIcan'tseethegreenishinwardturningsunsofyoureyesanymore.
Myhandsshake.
Ishalltaketwohugehandfulsofhisrustlinghairashelieshalfdreaming,halfwaking,andwindthemintoropes,verysoftly,sohewillnot
wakeup,and,softly,withhandsasgentleasrain,Ishallstranglehimwiththem.
Thenshewillopenallthecagesandletthebirdsfreetheywillchangebackintoyounggirls,everyone,eachwiththecrimsonimprintofhis
lovebiteontheirthroats.
Shewillcarveoffhisgreatmanewiththeknifeheusestoskintherabbitsshewillstringtheoldfiddlewithfivesinglestringsofashbrown
hair.
Thenitwillplaydiscordantmusicwithoutahandtouchingit.Thebowwilldanceoverthenewstringsofitsownaccordandtheywillcryout:
'Mother,mother,youhavemurderedme!'

TheSnowChild

Midwinterinvincible,immaculate.TheCountandhiswifegoriding,heonagreymareandsheonablackone,shewrappedintheglittering
peltsofblackfoxesandsheworehigh,black,shiningbootswithscarletheels,andspurs.Freshsnowfellonsnowalreadyfallenwhenit
ceased,thewholeworldwaswhite.'IwishIhadagirlaswhiteassnow,'saystheCount.Theyrideon.Theycometoaholeinthesnowthis
holeisfilledwithblood.Hesays:'IwishIhadagirlasredasblood.'Sotheyrideonagainhereisaraven,perchedonabarebough.'IwishI
hadagirlasblackasthatbird'sfeather.'Assoonashecompletedherdescription,thereshestood,besidetheroad,whiteskin,redmouth,black
hairandstarknakedshewasthechildofhisdesireandtheCountesshatedher.TheCountliftedherupandsatherinfrontofhimonhissaddle
buttheCountesshadonlyonethought:howshallIberidofher?
TheCountessdroppedhergloveinthesnowandtoldthegirltogetdowntolookforitshemeanttogallopoffandleavehertherebuttheCount
said:'I'llbuyyounewgloves.'Atthat,thefurssprangofftheCountess'sshouldersandtwinedroundthenakedgirl.ThentheCountessthrewher
diamondbroochthroughtheiceofafrozenpond:'Diveinandfetchitforme,'shesaidshethoughtthegirlwoulddrown.ButtheCountsaid:
'Issheafish,toswiminsuchcoldweather?'ThenherbootsleaptofftheCountess'sfeetandontothegirl'slegs.NowtheCountesswasbareas
aboneandthegirlfurredandbootedtheCountfeltsorryforhiswife.Theycametoabushofroses,allinflower.'Pickmeone,'saidthe
Countesstothegirl.'Ican'tdenyyouthat,'saidtheCount.
Sothegirlpicksarosepricksherfingeronthethornbleedsscreamsfalls.
Weeping,theCountgotoffhishorse,unfastenedhisbreechesandthrusthisvirilememberintothedeadgirl.TheCountessreinedinher
stampingmareandwatchedhimnarrowlyhewassoonfinished.
Thenthegirlbegantomelt.Soontherewasnothingleftofherbutafeatherabirdmighthavedroppedabloodstain,likethetraceofafox'skill
onthesnowandtheroseshehadpulledoffthebush.NowtheCountesshadallherclothesonagain.Withherlonghand,shestrokedherfurs.
TheCountpickeduptherose,bowedandhandedittohiswifewhenshetouchedit,shedroppedit.
'Itbites!'shesaid.

TheLadyoftheHouseofLove
Atlasttherevenantsbecamesotroublesomethepeasantsabandonedthevillageanditfellsolelyintothepossessionofsubtleandvindictive
inhabitantswhomanifesttheirpresencesbyshadowsthatfallalmostimperceptiblyawry,toomanyshadows,evenatmidday,shadowsthathave
nosourceinanythingvisiblebythesound,sometimes,ofsobbinginaderelictbedroomwhereacrackedmirrorsuspendedfromawalldoesnot
reflectapresencebyasenseofuneasethatwillafflictthetravellerunwiseenoughtopausetodrinkfromthefountaininthesquarethatstill
gushesspringwaterfromafaucetstuckinastonelion'smouth.Acatprowlsinaweedygardenhegrinsandspits,archeshisback,bounces
awayfromanintangibleonfourfearstiffenedlegs.Nowallshunthevillagebelowthechateauinwhichthebeautifulsomnambulisthelplessly
perpetuatesherancestralcrimes.
Wearinganantiquebridalgown,thebeautifulqueenofthevampiressitsallaloneinherdark,highhouseundertheeyesoftheportraitsofher
dementedandatrociousancestors,eachoneofwhom,throughher,projectsabalefulposthumousexistenceshecountsouttheTarotcards,
ceaselesslyconstruingaconstellationofpossibilitiesasiftherandomfallofthecardsontheredplushtableclothbeforehercouldprecipitateher
fromherchill,shutteredroomintoacountryofperpetualsummerandobliteratetheperennialsadnessofagirlwhoisbothdeathandthe
maiden.
Hervoiceisfilledwithdistantsonorities,likereverberationsinacave:nowyouareattheplaceofannihilation,nowyouareattheplaceof
annihilation.Andsheisherselfacavefullofechoes,sheisasystemofrepetitions,sheisaclosedcircuit.'Canabirdsingonlythesongit
knowsorcanitlearnanewsong?'Shedrawsherlong,sharpfingernailacrossthebarsofthecageinwhichherpetlarksings,strikinga
plangenttwanglikethatofthepluckedheartstringsofawomanofmetal.Herhairfallsdownliketears.
Thecastleismostlygivenovertoghostlyoccupantsbutsheherselfhasherownsuiteofdrawingroomandbedroom.Closelybarredshutters
andheavyvelvetcurtainskeepouteveryleakofnaturallight.Thereisaroundtableonasinglelegcoveredwitharedplushclothonwhichshe
laysoutherinevitableTarotthisroomisnevermorethanfaintlyilluminatedbyaheavilyshadedlamponthemantelpieceandthedarkred
figuredwallpaperisobscurely,distressinglypatternedbytherainthatdrivesinthroughtheneglectedroofandleavesbehinditrandomareasof
staining,ominousmarkslikethoseleftonthesheetsbydeadlovers.Depredationsofrotandfunguseverywhere.Theunlitchandelierisso
heavywithdusttheindividualprismsnolongershowanyshapesindustriousspidershavewovencanopiesinthecornersofthisornateand
rottingplace,havetrappedtheporcelainvasesonthemantelpieceinsoftgreynets.Butthemistressofallthisdisintegrationnoticesnothing.
Shesitsinachaircoveredinmothravagedburgundyvelvetatthelow,roundtableanddistributesthecardssometimesthelarksings,butmore
oftenremainsasullenmoundofdrabfeathers.SometimestheCountesswillwakeitforabriefcadenzabystrummingthebarsofitscageshe
likestohearitannouncehowitcannotescape.
Sheriseswhenthesunsetsandgoesimmediatelytohertablewheresheplayshergameofpatienceuntilshegrowshungry,untilshebecomes
ravenous.Sheissobeautifulsheisunnaturalherbeautyisanabnormality,adeformity,fornoneofherfeaturesexhibitanyofthosetouching
imperfectionsthatreconcileustotheimperfectionofthehumancondition.Herbeautyisasymptomofherdisorder,ofhersoullessness.
Thewhitehandsofthetenebrousbelledealthehandofdestiny.HerfingernailsarelongerthanthoseofthemandarinsofancientChinaand
eachisparedtoafinepoint.Theseandteethasfineandwhiteasspikesofspunsugararethevisiblesignsofthedestinyshewistfullyattempts
toevadeviathearcanaherclawsandteethhavebeensharpenedoncenturiesofcorpses,sheisthelastbudofthepoisontreethatsprangfrom
theloinsofVladtheImpalerwhopicnickedoncorpsesintheforestsofTransylvania.
Thewallsofherbedroomarehungwithblacksatin,embroideredwithtearsofpearl.Attheroom'sfourcornersarefuneraryurnsandbowls
whichemitslumbrous,pungentfumesofincense.Inthecentreisanelaboratecatafalque,inebony,surroundedbylongcandlesinenormous
silvercandlesticks.Inawhitelacengligstainedalittlewithblood,theCountessclimbsuponhercatafalqueatdawneachmorningandlies
downinanopencoffin.
AchignonedpriestoftheOrthodoxfaithstakedoutherwickedfatherataCarpathiancrossroadbeforehermilkteethgrew.Justastheystaked
himout,thefatalCountcried:'NosferatuisdeadlongliveNosferatu!'Nowshepossessesallthehauntedforestsandmysterioushabitationsof
hisvastdomainsheisthehereditarycommandantofthearmyofshadowswhocampinthevillagebelowherchateau,whopenetratethewoods
intheformofowls,batsandfoxes,whomakethemilkcurdleandthebutterrefusetocome,whoridethehorsesallnightonawildhuntsothey
aresacksofskinandboneinthemorning,whomilkthecowsdryand,especially,tormentpubescentgirlswithfaintingfits,disordersofthe
blood,diseasesoftheimagination.
ButtheCountessherselfisindifferenttoherownweirdauthority,asifsheweredreamingit.Inherdream,shewouldliketobehumanbutshe
doesnotknowifthatispossible.TheTarotalwaysshowsthesameconfiguration:alwayssheturnsupLaPapesse,LaMort,LaTourAbolie,
wisdom,death,dissolution.
Onmoonlessnights,herkeeperletsheroutintothegarden.Thisgarden,anexceedinglysombreplace,bearsastrongresemblancetoaburial
groundandalltherosesherdeadmotherplantedhavegrownupintoahuge,spikedwallthatincarceratesherinthecastleofherinheritance.
Whenthebackdooropens,theCountesswillsnifftheairandhowl.Shedrops,now,onallfours.Crouching,quivering,shecatchesthescentof

herprey.Deliciouscrunchofthefragilebonesofrabbitsandsmall,furrythingsshepursueswithfleet,fourfootedspeedshewillcreephome,
whimpering,withbloodsmearedonhercheeks.Shepourswaterfromtheewerinherbedroomintothebowl,shewashesherfacewiththe
wincing,fastidiousgesturesofacat.
Thevoraciousmarginofhuntress'snightsinthegloomygarden,crouchandpounce,surroundsherhabitualtormentedsomnambulism,herlife
orimitationoflife.Theeyesofthisnocturnalcreatureenlargeandglow.Allclawsandteeth,shestrikes,shegorgesbutnothingcanconsole
herfortheghastlinessofhercondition,nothing.SheresortstothemagiccomfortoftheTarotpackandshufflesthecards,laysthemout,reads
them,gathersthemupwithasigh,shufflesthemagain,constantlyconstructinghypothesesaboutafuturewhichisirreversible.
Anoldmutelooksafterher,tomakesuresheneverseesthesun,thatalldayshestaysinhercoffin,tokeepmirrorsandallreflectivesurfaces
awayfromherinshort,toperformallthefunctionsoftheservantsofvampires.Everythingaboutthisbeautifulandghastlyladyisasitshould
be,queenofnight,queenofterrorexceptherhorriblereluctancefortherole.
Nevertheless,ifanunwiseadventurerpausesinthesquareofthedesertedvillagetorefreshhimselfatthefountain,acroneinablackdressand
whiteapronpresentlyemergesfromahouse.Shewillinviteyouwithsmilesandgesturesyouwillfollowher.TheCountesswantsfreshmeat.
Whenshewasalittlegirl,shewaslikeafoxandcontentedherselfentirelywithbabyrabbitsthatsqueakedpiteouslyasshebitintotheirnecks
withanauseatedvoluptuousness,withvolesandfieldmicethatpalpitatedforabaremomentbetweenherembroidress'sfingers.Butnowsheis
awoman,shemusthavemen.Ifyoustoptoolongbesidethegigglingfountain,youwillbeledbythehandtotheCountess'slarder.
Allday,sheliesinhercoffininherngligofbloodstainedlace.Whenthesundropsbehindthemountain,sheyawnsandstirsandputsonthe
onlydressshehas,hermother'sweddingdress,tositandreadhercardsuntilshegrowshungry.Sheloathesthefoodsheeatsshewouldhave
likedtotaketherabbitshomewithher,feedthemonlettuce,petthemandmakethemanestinherredandblackchinoiserieescritoire,but
hungeralwaysovercomesher.Shesinksherteethintotheneckwhereanarterythrobswithfearshewilldropthedeflatedskinfromwhichshe
hasextractedallthenourishmentwithasmallcryofbothpainanddisgust.Anditisthesamewiththeshepherdboysandgipsyladswho,
ignorantorfoolhardy,cometowashthedustfromtheirfeetinthewaterofthefountaintheCountess'sgovernessbringsthemintothedrawing
roomwherethecardsonthetablealwaysshowtheGrimReaper.TheCountessherselfwillservethemcoffeeintinycracked,preciouscups,
andlittlesugarcakes.Thehobbledehoyssitwithaspillingcupinonehandandabiscuitintheother,gapingattheCountessinhersatinfinery
asshepoursfromasilverpotandchattersdistractedlytoputthemattheirfatalease.Acertaindesolatestillnessofhereyesindicatessheis
inconsolable.Shewouldliketocaresstheirleanbrowncheeksandstroketheirraggedhair.Whenshetakesthembythehandandleadsthemto
herbedroom,theycanscarcelybelievetheirluck.
Afterwards,hergovernesswilltidytheremainsintoaneatpileandwrapitinitsowndiscardedclothes.Thismortalparcelshethendiscreetly
buriesinthegarden.ThebloodontheCountess'scheekswillbemixedwithtearsherkeeperprobesherfingernailsforherwithalittlesilver
toothpick,togetridofthefragmentsofskinandbonethathavelodgedthere
Feefiefofilm
IsmellthebloodofanEnglishman.
Onehot,ripesummerinthepubescentyearsofthepresentcentury,ayoungofficerintheBritisharmy,blond,blueeyed,heavymuscled,
visitingfriendsinVienna,decidedtospendtheremainderofhisfurloughexploringthelittleknownuplandsofRomania.Whenhequixotically
decidedtotraveltheruttedcarttracksbybicycle,hesawallthehumourofit:'ontwowheelsinthelandofthevampires'.So,laughing,hesets
outonhisadventure.
Hehasthespecialqualityofvirginity,mostandleastambiguousofstates:ignorance,yetatthesametime,powerinpotentia,and,furthermore,
unknowingness,whichisnotthesameasignorance.Heismorethanheknowsandhasabouthim,besides,thespecialglamourofthat
generationforwhomhistoryhasalreadypreparedaspecial,exemplaryfateinthetrenchesofFrance.Thisbeing,rootedinchangeandtime,is
abouttocollidewiththetimelessGothiceternityofthevampires,forwhomallisasithasalwaysbeenandwillbe,whosecardsalwaysfallin
thesamepattern.
Althoughsoyoung,heisalsorational.HehaschosenthemostrationalmodeoftransportintheworldforhistriproundtheCarpathians.Toride
abicycleisinitselfsomeprotectionagainstsuperstitiousfears,sincethebicycleistheproductofpurereasonappliedtomotion.Geometryat
theserviceofman!GivemetwospheresandastraightlineandIwillshowyouhowfarIcantakethem.Voltairehimselfmighthaveinvented
thebicycle,sinceitcontributessomuchtoman'swelfareandnothingatalltohisbane.Beneficialtothehealth,itemitsnoharmfulfumesand
permitsonlythemostdecorousspeeds.Howcanabicycleeverbeanimplementofharm?
AsinglekisswokeuptheSleepingBeautyintheWood.
ThewaxenfingersoftheCountess,fingersofaholyimage,turnupthecardcalledLesAmoureux.Never,neverbefore...neverbeforehasthe
Countesscastherselfafateinvolvinglove.Sheshakes,shetrembles,hergreateyesclosebeneathherfinelyveined,nervouslyflutteringeyelids
thelovelycartomancerhas,thistime,thefirsttime,dealtherselfahandofloveanddeath.
Behealiveorbehedead
I'llgrindhisbonestomakemybread.
Atthemauvishbeginningsofevening,theEnglishm'sieutoilsupthehilltothevillageheglimpsedfromagreatwayoffhemustdismountand
pushhisbicyclebeforehim,thepathtoosteeptoride.Hehopestofindafriendlyinntorestthenighthe'shot,hungry,thirsty,weary,dusty...
Atfirst,suchdisappointment,todiscovertheroofsofallthecottagescavedinandtallweedsthrustingthroughthepilesoffallentiles,shutters
hangingdisconsolatelyfromtheirhinges,anentirelyuninhabitedplace.Andtherankvegetationwhispers,asiffoulsecrets,here,where,ifone
weresufficientlyimaginative,onecouldalmostimaginetwistedfacesappearingmomentarilybeneaththecrumblingeaves...buttheadventure
ofitall,andtheconsolationofthepoignantbrightnessofthehollyhocksstillbravelybloomingintheshaggygardens,andthebeautyofthe
flamingsunset,alltheseconsiderationssoonovercamehisdisappointment,evenassuagedthefaintuneasehe'dfelt.Andthefountainwherethe
villagewomenusedtowashtheirclothesstillgushedoutbright,clearwaterhegratefullywashedhisfeetandhands,appliedhismouthtothe
faucet,thenlettheicystreamrunoverhisface.
Whenheraisedhisdripping,gratifiedheadfromthelion'smouth,hesaw,silentlyarrivedbesidehiminthesquare,anoldwomanwhosmiled
eagerly,almostconciliatorilyathim.Sheworeablackdressandawhiteapron,withahousekeeper'skeyringatthewaisthergreyhairwas
neatlycoiledinachignonbeneaththewhitelinenheaddresswornbyelderlywomenofthatregion.Shebobbedacurtsyattheyoungmanand
beckonedhimtofollowher.Whenhehesitated,shepointedtowardsthegreatbulkofthemansionabovethem,whosefaadelouredoverthe
village,rubbedherstomach,pointedtohermouth,rubbedherstomachagain,clearlymiminganinvitationtosupper.Thenshebeckonedhim
again,thistimeturningdeterminedlyuponherheelasthoughshewouldbrooknoopposition.
Agreat,intoxicatedsurgeoftheheavyscentofredrosesblewintohisfaceassoonastheyleftthevillage,inducingasensuousvertigoablast
ofrich,faintlycorruptsweetnessstrongenoughalmost,tofellhim.Toomanyroses.Toomanyrosesbloomedonenormousthicketsthatlined
thepath,thicketsbristlingwiththorns,andtheflowersthemselveswerealmosttooluxuriant,theirhugecongregationsofplushpetalssomehow
obsceneintheirexcess,theirwhorled,tightlybuddedcoresoutrageousintheirimplications.Themansionemergedgrudginglyoutofthisjungle.
Inthesubtleandhauntinglightofthesettingsun,thatgoldenlightrichwithnostalgiaforthedaythatisjustpast,thesombrevisageofthe
place,partmanorhouse,partfortifiedfarmhouse,immense,rambling,adilapidatedeagle'snestatopthecragdownwhichitsattendantvillage

meandered,remindedhimofchildhoodtalesonwinterevenings,whenheandhisbrothersandsistersscaredthemselveshalfoutoftheirwits
withghoststoriessetinjustsuchplacesandthenhadtohavecandlestolightthemupnewlyterrifyingstairstobed.Hecouldalmosthave
regrettedacceptingthecrone'sunspokeninvitationbutnow,standingbeforethedooroftimeerodedoakwhilesheselectedahugeironkey
fromtheclankingringfulatherwaist,heknewitwastoolatetoturnbackandbrusquelyremindedhimselfhewasnochild,now,tobe
frightenedofhisownfancies.
Theoldladyunlockedthedoor,whichswungbackonmelodramaticallycreakinghinges,andfussilytookchargeofhisbicycle,inspiteofhis
protests.Hefeltacertaininvoluntarysinkingofthehearttoseehisbeautifultwowheeledsymbolofrationalityvanishintothedarkentrailsof
themansion,to,nodoubt,somedampouthousewheretheywouldnotoilitorcheckitstyres.But,inforapenny,inforapoundinhisyouth
andstrengthandblondbeauty,intheinvisible,evenunacknowledgedpentacleofhisvirginity,theyoungmansteppedoverthethresholdof
Nosferatu'scastleanddidnotshiverintheblastofcoldair,asfromthemouthofagrave,thatemanatedfromthelightless,cavernousinterior.
Thecronetookhimtoalittlechamberwheretherewasablackoaktablespreadwithacleanwhiteclothandthisclothwascarefullylaidwith
heavysilverware,alittletarnished,asifsomeonewithfoulbreathhadbreathedonit,butlaidwithoneplaceonly.Curiouserandcuriouser
invitedtothecastlefordinner,nowhemustdinealone.Allthesame,hesatdownasshehadbidhim.Althoughitwasnotyetdarkoutside,the
curtainswerecloselydrawnandonlythesparinglighttricklingfromasingleoillampshowedhimhowdismalhissurroundingswere.Thecrone
bustledabouttogethimabottleofwineandaglassfromanancientcabinetofwormyoakwhilehebemusedlydrankhiswine,shedisappeared
butsoonreturnedbearingasteamingplatterofthelocalspicedmeatstewwithdumplings,andashankofblackbread.Hewashungryafterhis
longday'sride,heateheartilyandpolishedhisplatewiththecrust,butthiscoarsefoodwashardlytheentertainmenthe'dexpectedfromthe
gentryandhewaspuzzledbytheassessingglintinthedumbwoman'seyesasshewatchedhimeating.
Butshedartedofftogethimasecondhelpingassoonashe'dfinishedthefirstoneandsheseemedsofriendlyandhelpful,besides,thathe
knewhecouldcountonabedforthenightinthecastle,aswellashissupper,sohesharplyreprimandedhimselfforhisownchildishlackof
enthusiasmfortheeeriesilence,theclammychilloftheplace.
Whenhe'dputawaythesecondplateful,theoldwomancameandgesturedheshouldleavethetableandfollowheronceagain.Shemadea
pantomimeofdrinkinghededucedhewasnowinvitedtotakeafterdinnercoffeeinanotherroomwithsomemoreelevatedmemberofthe
householdwhohadnotwishedtodinewithhimbut,allthesame,wantedtomakehisacquaintance.Anhonour,nodoubtindeferencetohis
host'sopinionofhimself,hestraightenedhistie,brushedthecrumbsfromhistweedjacket.
Hewassurprisedtofindhowruinoustheinteriorofthehousewascobwebs,wormeatenbeams,crumblingplasterbutthemutecrone
resolutelywoundhimonthereelofherlanterndownendlesscorridors,upwindingstaircases,throughthegallerieswherethepaintedeyesof
familyportraitsbrieflyflickeredastheypassed,eyesthatbelonged,henoticed,tofaces,oneandall,ofaquitememorablebeastliness.Atlast
shepausedand,behindthedoorwherethey'dhalted,heheardafaint,metallictwangasof,perhaps,achordstruckonaharpsichord.Andthen,
wonderfully,theliquidcascadeofthesongofalark,bringingtohim,inthehearthadhebutknownitofJuliet'stomb,allthefreshnessof
morning.
Thecronerappedwithherknucklesonthepanelsthemostseductivelycaressingvoicehehadeverheardinhislifesoftlycalledout,inheavily
accentedFrench,theadoptedlanguageoftheRomanianaristocracy:'Entrez.'
Firstofall,hesawonlyashape,ashapeimbuedwithafaintluminositysinceitcaughtandreflectedinitsyellowedsurfaceswhatlittlelight
therewasintheilllitroomthisshaperesolveditselfintothatof,ofallthings,ahoopskirteddressofwhitesatindrapedhereandtherewith
lace,adressfiftyorsixtyyearsoutoffashionbutonce,obviously,intendedforawedding.Andthenhesawthegirlwhoworethedress,agirl
withthefragilityoftheskeletonofamoth,sothin,sofrailthatherdressseemedtohimtohangsuspended,asifuntenantedinthedankair,a
fabulouslending,aselfarticulatedgarmentinwhichshelivedlikeaghostinamachine.Allthelightintheroomcamefromalowburning
lampwithathickgreenishshadeonadistantmantelpiecethecronewhoaccompaniedhimshieldedherlanternwithherhand,asiftoprotect
hermistressfromtoosuddenlyseeing,ortheirguestfromtoosuddenlyseeingher.
Sothatitwaslittlebylittle,ashiseyesgrewaccustomedtothehalfdark,thathesawhowbeautifulandhowveryyoungthebedizened
scarecrowwas,andhethoughtofachilddressingupinhermother'sclothes,perhapsachildputtingontheclothesofadeadmotherinorderto
bringher,howeverbriefly,tolifeagain.
TheCountessstoodbehindalowtable,besideapretty,silly,giltandwirebirdcage,handsoutstretchedinadistractedattitudethatwasalmost
oneofflightshelookedasstartledbytheirentryasifshehadnotrequestedit.Withherstarkwhiteface,herlovelydeath'sheadsurroundedby
longdarkhairthatfelldownasstraightasifitweresoakingwet,shelookedlikeashipwreckedbride.Herhugedarkeyesalmostbrokehisheart
withtheirwaiflike,lostlookyethewasdisturbed,almostrepelled,byherextraordinarilyfleshymouth,amouthwithwide,full,prominentlips
ofavibrantpurplishcrimson,amorbidmouth.Evenbutheputthethoughtawayfromhimimmediatelyawhore'smouth.Sheshiveredallthe
time,astarvelingchill,amalarialagitationofthebones.Hethoughtshemustbeonlysixteenorseventeenyearsold,nomore,withthehectic,
unhealthybeautyofaconsumptive.Shewasthechatelaineofallthisdecay.
Withmanytenderprecautions,thecronenowraisedthelightsheheldtoshowhishostessherguest'sface.Atthat,theCountessletoutafaint,
mewingcryandmadeablind,appalledgesturewithherhands,asifpushinghimaway,sothatsheknockedagainstthetableandabutterfly
dazzleofpaintedcardsfelltothefloor.Hermouthformedaround'o'ofwoe,sheswayedalittleandthensankintoherchair,whereshelayasif
nowscarcelycapableofmoving.Abewilderingreception.Tsk'ingunderherbreath,thecronebusilypokedaboutonthetableuntilshefoundan
enormouspairofdarkgreenglasses,suchasblindbeggarswear,andperchedthemontheCountess'snose.
Hewentforwardtopickuphercardsforherfromacarpetthat,hesawtohissurprise,waspartrottedaway,partlyencroacheduponbyallkinds
ofvirulentlookingfungi.Heretrievedthecardsandshuffledthemcarelesslytogether,fortheymeantnothingtohim,thoughtheyseemed
strangeplaythingsforayounggirl.Whatagrislypictureofacaperingskeleton!Hecovereditupwithahappieroneoftwoyounglovers,
smilingatoneanother,andputhertoysbackintoahandsoslenderyoucouldalmostseethefrailnetofbonebeneaththetranslucentskin,a
handwithfingernailsaslong,asfinelypointed,asbanjopicks.
Athistouch,sheseemedtorevivealittleandalmostsmiled,raisingherselfupright.
'Coffee,'shesaid.'Youmusthavecoffee.'Andscoopeduphercardsintoapilesothatthecronecouldsetbeforeherasilverspiritkettle,asilver
coffeepot,creamjug,sugarbasin,cupsreadyonasilvertray,astrangetouchofelegance,evenifdiscoloured,inthisdevastatedinteriorwhose
mistressethereallyshoneasifwithherownblighted,submarineradiance.
Thecronefoundhimachairand,titteringnoiselessly,departed,leavingtheroomalittledarker.
Whiletheyoungladyattendedtothecoffeemaking,hehadtimetocontemplatewithsomedistasteafurtherseriesoffamilyportraitswhich
decoratedthestainedandpeelingwallsoftheroomtheselividfacesallseemedcontortedwithafebrilemadnessandtheblubberlips,thehuge,
dementedeyesthatallhadincommonboreadisquietingresemblancetothoseofthehaplessvictimofinbreedingnowpatientlyfilteringher
fragrantbrew,evenifsomeraregracehassofinelytransformedthosefeatureswhenitcametohercase.Thelark,itschorusdone,hadlongago
fallensilentnosoundbutthechinkofsilveronchina.Soon,sheheldouttohimatinycupofrosepaintedchina.
'Welcome,'shesaidinhervoicewiththerushingsonoritiesoftheoceaninit,avoicethatseemedtocomeelsewherethanfromherwhite,still
throat.'Welcometomychateau.Irarelyreceivevisitorsandthat'samisfortunesincenothinganimatesmehalfasmuchasthepresenceofa

stranger...Thisplaceissolonely,nowthevillageisdeserted,andmyonecompanion,alas,shecannotspeak.OftenIamsosilentthatIthinkI,
too,willsoonforgethowtodosoandnobodyherewillevertalkanymore.'
SheofferedhimasugarbiscuitfromaLimogesplateherfingernailsstruckcarillonsfromtheantiquechina.Hervoice,issuingfromthosered
lipsliketheobeserosesinhergarden,lipsthatdonotmovehervoiceiscuriouslydisembodiedsheislikeadoll,hethought,aventriloquist's
doll,or,more,likeagreat,ingeniouspieceofclockwork.Forsheseemedinadequatelypoweredbysomeslowenergyofwhichshewasnotin
controlasifshehadbeenwoundupyearsago,whenshewasborn,andnowthemechanismwasinexorablyrunningdownandwouldleaveher
lifeless.Thisideathatshemightbeanautomaton,madeofwhitevelvetandblackfur,thatcouldnotmoveofitsownaccord,neverquite
desertedhimindeed,itdeeplymovedhisheart.Thecarnivalairofherwhitedressemphasizedherunreality,likeasadColumbinewholosther
wayinthewoodalongtimeagoandneverreachedthefair.
'Andthelight.Imustapologizeforthelackoflight...ahereditaryafflictionoftheeyes...'
Herblindspectaclesgavehimhishandsomefacebacktohimselftwiceoverifhepresentedhimselftohernakedface,hewoulddazzleherlike
thesunsheisforbiddentolookatbecauseitwouldshrivelherupatonce,poornightbird,poorbutcherbird.
Vousserezmaproie.
Youhavesuchafinethroat,m'sieu,likeacolumnofmarble.Whenyoucamethroughthedoorretainingaboutyouallthegoldenlightofthe
summer'sdayofwhichIknownothing,nothing,thecardcalled'LesAmoureux'hadjustemergedfromthetumblingchaosofimagerybefore
meitseemedtomeyouhadsteppedoffthecardintomydarknessand,foramoment,Ithought,perhaps,youmightirradiateit.
Idonotmeantohurtyou.Ishallwaitforyouinmybride'sdressinthedark.
Thebridegroomiscome,hewillgointothechamberwhichhasbeenpreparedforhim.
IamcondemnedtosolitudeanddarkIdonotmeantohurtyou.
Iwillbeverygentle.
(Andcouldlovefreemefromtheshadows?Canabirdsingonlythesongitknows,orcanitlearnanewsong?)
See,howI'mreadyforyou.I'vealwaysbeenreadyforyouI'vebeenwaitingforyouinmyweddingdress,whyhaveyoudelayedforsolong...
itwillallbeoververyquickly.
Youwillfeelnopain,mydarling.
Sheherselfisahauntedhouse.Shedoesnotpossessherselfherancestorssometimescomeandpeeroutofthewindowsofhereyesandthatis
veryfrightening.Shehasthemysterioussolitudeofambiguousstatesshehoversinanoman'slandbetweenlifeanddeath,sleepingand
waking,behindthehedgeofspikedflowers,Nosferatu'ssanguinaryrosebud.Thebeastlyforebearsonthewallscondemnhertoaperpetual
repetitionoftheirpassions.
(Onekiss,however,andonlyone,wokeuptheSleepingBeautyintheWood.)
Nervously,toconcealherinnervoices,shekeepsupafrontofinconsequentialchatterinFrenchwhileherancestorsleerandgrimaceonthe
wallshoweverhardshetriestothinkofanyother,sheonlyknowsofonekindofconsummation.
Hewasstruck,onceagain,bythebirdlike,predatoryclawswhichtippedhermarvelloushandsthesenseofstrangenessthathadbeengrowing
onhimsinceheburiedhisheadunderthestreamingwaterinthevillage,sinceheenteredthedarkportalsofthefatalcastle,nowfullyovercame
him.Hadhebeenacat,hewouldhavebouncedbackwardsfromherhandsonfourfearstiffenedlegs,butheisnotacat:heisahero.
Afundamentaldisbeliefinwhatheseesbeforehimsustainshim,evenintheboudoirofCountessNosferatuherselfhewouldhavesaid,
perhaps,thattherearesomethingswhich,eveniftheyaretrue,weshouldnotbelievepossible.Hemighthavesaid:itisfollytobelieveone's
eyes.Notsomuchthathedoesnotbelieveinherhecanseeher,sheisreal.Ifshetakesoffherdarkglasses,fromhereyeswillstreamallthe
imagesthatpopulatethisvampirehauntedland,but,sincehehimselfisimmunetoshadow,duetohisvirginityhedoesnotyetknowwhat
thereistobeafraidofandduetohisheroism,whichmakeshimlikethesun,heseesbeforehim,firstandforemost,aninbred,highlystrung
girlchild,fatherless,motherless,keptinthedarktoolongandpaleasaplantthatneverseesthelight,halfblindedbysomehereditarycondition
oftheeyes.Andthoughhefeelsunease,hecannotfeelterrorsoheisliketheboyinthefairytale,whodoesnotknowhowtoshudder,andnot
spooks,ghouls,beasties,theDevilhimselfandallhisretinuecoulddothetrick.
Thislackofimaginationgiveshisheroismtothehero.
Hewilllearntoshudderinthetrenches.Butthisgirlcannotmakehimshudder.
Nowitisdark.Batsswoopandsqueakoutsidethetightlyshutteredwindows.Thecoffeeisalldrunk,thesugarbiscuitseaten.Herchattercomes
tricklinganddiminishingtoastopshetwistsherfingerstogether,picksatthelaceofherdress,shiftsnervouslyinherchair.Owlsshriekthe
impedimentaofherconditionsqueakandgibberallaroundus.Nowyouareattheplaceofannihilation,nowyouareattheplaceofannihilation.
Sheturnsherheadawayfromthebluebeamsofhiseyessheknowsnootherconsummationthantheonlyoneshecanofferhim.Shehasnot
eatenforthreedays.Itisdinnertime.Itisbedtime.
Suivezmoi.
Jevousattendais.
Vousserezmaproie.
Theravencawsontheaccursedroof.'Dinnertime,dinnertime,'clangtheportraitsonthewalls.Aghastlyhungergnawsherentrailsshehas
waitedforhimallherlifewithoutknowingit.
Thehandsomebicyclist,scarcelybelievinghisluck,willfollowherintoherbedroomthecandlesaroundhersacrificialaltarburnwithalow,
clearflame,lightcatchesonthesilvertearsstitchedtothewall.Shewillassurehim,intheveryvoiceoftemptation:'Myclotheshavebuttofall
andyouwillseebeforeyouasuccessionofmysteries.'
Shehasnomouthwithwhichtokiss,nohandswithwhichtocaress,onlythefangsandtalonsofabeastofprey.Totouchthemineralsheenof
thefleshrevealedinthecoolcandlegleamistoinviteherfatalembraceinherlow,sweetvoice,shewillcroonthelullabyoftheHouseof
Nosferatu.
Embraces,kissesyourgoldenhead,ofalion,althoughIhaveneverseenalion,onlyimaginedone,ofthesun,evenifI'veonlyseenthepicture
ofthesunontheTarotcard,yourgoldenheadoftheloverwhomIdreamedwouldonedayfreeme,thisheadwillfallback,itseyesroll
upwardsinaspasmyouwillmistakeforthatofloveandnotofdeath.Thebridegroombleedsonmyinvertedmarriagebed.Starkanddead,
poorbicyclisthehaspaidthepriceofanightwiththeCountessandsomethinkittoohighafeewhilesomedonot.

Tomorrow,herkeeperwillburyhisbonesunderherroses.Thefoodherrosesfeedongivesthemtheirrichcolour,theirswooningodour,that
breatheslasciviouslyofforbiddenpleasures.
Suivezmoi.
'Suivezmoi!'
Thehandsomebicyclist,fearfulforhishostess'shealth,hersanity,gingerlyfollowsherhystericalimperiousnessintotheotherroomhewould
liketotakeherintohisarmsandprotectherfromtheancestorswholeerdownfromthewalls.
Whatamacabrebedroom!
Hiscolonel,anoldgoatwithjadedappetites,hadgivenhimthevisitingcardofabrothelinPariswhere,thesatyrassuredhim,tenlouiswould
buyjustsuchalugubriousbedroom,withanakedgirluponacoffinoffstage,thebrothelpianistplayedtheDiesIraeonaharmoniumand,
amidstalltheperfumesoftheembalmingparlour,thecustomertookhisnecrophiliacpleasureofapretendedcorpse.Hehadgoodnaturedly
refusedtheoldman'sofferofsuchaninitiationhowcanhenowtakecriminaladvantageofthedisorderedgirlwithfeverhot,bonedry,taloned
handsandeyesthatdenyalltheeroticpromisesofherbodywiththeirterror,theirsadness,theirdreadful,balkedtenderness?
Sodelicateanddamned,poorthing.Quitedamned.
YetIdobelieveshescarcelyknowswhatsheisdoing.
Sheisshakingasifherlimbswerenotefficientlyjoinedtogether,asifshemightshakeintopieces.Sheraisesherhandstounfastentheneckof
herdressandhereyeswellwithtears,theytrickledownbeneaththerimofherdarkglasses.Shecan'ttakeoffhermother'sweddingdress
unlessshetakesoffherdarkglassesshehasfumbledtheritual,itisnolongerinexorable.Themechanismwithinherfailsher,now,whenshe
needsitmost.Whenshetakesoffthedarkglasses,theyslipfromherfingersandsmashtopiecesonthetiledfloor.Thereisnoroominher
dramaforimprovisationandthisunexpected,mundanenoiseofbreakingglassbreaksthewickedspellintheroom,entirely.Shegapesblindly
downatthesplintersandineffectivelysmearsthetearsacrossherfacewithherfist.Whatisshetodonow?
Whenshekneelstotrytogatherthefragmentsofglasstogether,asharpsliverpiercesdeeplyintothepadofherthumbshecriesout,sharp,
real.Shekneelsamongthebrokenglassandwatchesthebrightbeadofbloodformadrop.Shehasneverseenherownbloodbefore,nother
ownblood.Itexercisesuponheranawedfascination.
Intothisvileandmurderousroom,thehandsomebicyclistbringstheinnocentremediesofthenurseryinhimself,byhispresence,heisan
exorcism.Hegentlytakesherhandawayfromheranddabsthebloodwithhisownhandkerchief,butstillitspurtsout.Andsoheputshis
mouthtothewound.Hewillkissitbetterforher,ashermother,hadshelived,wouldhavedone.
Allthesilvertearsfallfromthewallwithaflimsytinkle.Herpaintedancestorsturnawaytheireyesandgrindtheirfangs.
Howcanshebearthepainofbecominghuman?
Theendofexileistheendofbeing.
Hewasawakenedbylarksong.Theshutters,thecurtains,eventhelongsealedwindowsofthehorridbedroomwereallopenedupandlightand
airstreamedinnowyoucouldseehowtawdryitallwas,howthinandcheapthesatin,thecatafalquenotebonyatallbutblackpaintedpaper
stretchedonstrutsofwood,asinthetheatre.Thewindhadblowndrovesofpetalsfromtherosesoutsideintotheroomandthiscrimsonresidue
swirledfragrantlyaboutthefloor.Thecandleshadburntoutandshemusthavesetherpetlarkfreebecauseitperchedontheedgeofthesilly
coffintosinghimitsecstaticmorningsong.Hisboneswerestiffandaching,he'dsleptonthefloorwithhisbundledupjacketforapillow,after
he'dputhertobed.
Butnowtherewasnotraceofhertobeseen,except,lightlytossedacrossthecrumpledblacksatinbedcover,alacengliglightlysoiledwith
blood,asitmightbefromawoman'smenses,andarosethatmusthavecomefromthefiercebushesnoddingthroughthewindow.Theairwas
heavywithincenseandrosesandmadehimcough.TheCountessmusthavegotupearlytoenjoythesunshine,slippedoutsidetogatherhima
rose.Hegottohisfeet,coaxedthelarkontohiswristandtookittothewindow.Atfirst,itexhibitedthereluctancefortheskyofalongcaged
thing,but,whenhetosseditupontothecurrentsoftheair,itspreaditswingsandwasupandawayintotheclearbluebowloftheheavenshe
watcheditstrajectorywithaliftofjoyinhisheart.
Thenhepaddedintotheboudoir,hismindbusywithplans.WeshalltakehertoZurich,toaclinicshewillbetreatedfornervoushysteria.
Thentoaneyespecialist,forherphotophobia,andtoadentisttoputherteethintobettershape.Anycompetentmanicuristwilldealwithher
claws.WeshallturnherintothelovelygirlsheisIshallcureherofallthesenightmares.
Theheavycurtainsarepulledback,toletinbrilliantfusilladesofearlymorninglightinthedesolationoftheboudoir,shesitsatherroundtable
inherwhitedress,withthecardslaidoutbeforeher.Shehasdroppedofftosleepoverthecardsofdestinythataresofingered,sosoiled,so
wornbyconstantshufflingthatyoucannolongermaketheimageoutonanysingleoneofthem.
Sheisnotsleeping.
Indeath,shelookedfarolder,lessbeautifulandso,forthefirsttime,fullyhuman.
IwillvanishinthemorninglightIwasonlyaninventionofdarkness.
AndIleaveyouasasouvenirthedark,fangedroseIpluckedfrombetweenmythighs,likeaflowerlaidonagrave.Onagrave.
Mykeeperwillattendtoeverything.
Nosferatualwaysattendshisownobsequiesshewillnotgotothegraveyardunattended.Andnowthecronematerialized,weeping,androughly
gesturedhimtobegone.Afterasearchinsomefoulsmellingouthouses,hediscoveredhisbicycleand,abandoninghisholiday,rodedirectlyto
Bucharestwhere,attheposterestante,hefoundatelegramsummoninghimtorejoinhisregimentatonce.Muchlater,whenhechangedback
intouniforminhisquarters,hediscoveredhestillhadtheCountess'srose,hemusthavetuckeditintothebreastpocketofhiscyclingjacket
afterhehadfoundherbody.Curiouslyenough,althoughhehadbroughtitsofarawayfromRomania,theflowerdidnotseemtobequitedead
and,onimpulse,becausethegirlhadbeensolovelyandherdeathsounexpectedandpathetic,hedecidedtotryandresurrectherrose.Hefilled
histoothglasswithwaterfromthecarafeonhislockerandpoppedtheroseintoit,sothatitswitheredheadfloatedonthesurface.
Whenhereturnedfromthemessthatevening,theheavyfragranceofCountNosferatu'srosesdrifteddownthestonecorridorofthebarracksto
greethim,andhisspartanquartersbrimmedwiththereelingodourofaglowing,velvet,monstrousflowerwhosepetalshadregainedalltheir
formerbloomandelasticity,theircorrupt,brilliant,balefulsplendour.Nextday,hisregimentembarkedforFrance.

TheWerewolf

Itisanortherncountrytheyhavecoldweather,theyhavecoldhearts.
Coldtempestwildbeastsintheforest.Itisahardlife.Theirhousesarebuiltoflogs,darkandsmokywithin.Therewillbeacrudeiconofthe
virginbehindagutteringcandle,thelegofapighunguptocure,astringofdryingmushrooms.Abed,astool,atable.Harsh,brief,poorlives.
Totheseuplandwoodsmen,theDevilisasrealasyouorI.Moresotheyhavenotseenusnorevenknowthatweexist,buttheDevilthey
glimpseofteninthegraveyards,thosebleakandtouchingtownshipsofthedeadwherethegravesaremarkedwithportraitsofthedeceasedin
thenaifstyleandtherearenoflowerstoputinfrontofthem,noflowersgrowthere,sotheyputoutsmall,votiveofferings,littleloaves,
sometimesacakethatthebearscomelumberingfromthemarginsoftheforesttosnatchaway.Atmidnight,especiallyonWalpurgisnacht,the
Devilholdspicnicsinthegraveyardsandinvitesthewitchesthentheydigupfreshcorpses,andeatthem.Anyonewilltellyouthat.
Wreathsofgarliconthedoorskeepoutthevampires.AblueeyedchildbornfeetfirstonthenightofStJohn'sEvewillhavesecondsight.
Whentheydiscoverawitchsomeoldwomanwhosecheesesripenwhenherneighbours'donot,anotheroldwomanwhoseblackcat,oh,
sinister!followsheraboutallthetime,theystripthecrone,searchforhermarks,forthesupernumerarynippleherfamiliarsucks.Theysoon
findit.Thentheystonehertodeath.
Winterandcoldweather.
Goandvisitgrandmother,whohasbeensick.TakehertheoatcakesI'vebakedforheronthehearthstoneandalittlepotofbutter.
Thegoodchilddoesashermotherbidsfivemiles'trudgethroughtheforestdonotleavethepathbecauseofthebears,thewildboar,the
starvingwolves.Here,takeyourfather'shuntingknifeyouknowhowtouseit.
Thechildhadascabbycoatofsheepskintokeepoutthecold,sheknewtheforesttoowelltofearitbutshemustalwaysbeonherguard.When
sheheardthatfreezinghowlofawolf,shedroppedhergifts,seizedherknifeandturnedonthebeast.
Itwasahugeone,withredeyesandrunning,grizzledchopsanybutamountaineer'schildwouldhavediedoffrightatthesightofit.Itwent
forherthroat,aswolvesdo,butshemadeagreatswipeatitwithherfather'sknifeandslashedoffitsrightforepaw.
Thewolfletoutagulp,almostasob,whenitsawwhathadhappenedtoitwolvesarelessbravethantheyseem.Itwentlollopingoff
disconsolatelybetweenthetreesaswellasitcouldonthreelegs,leavingatrailofbloodbehindit.Thechildwipedthebladeofherknifeclean
onherapron,wrappedupthewolf'spawintheclothinwhichhermotherhadpackedtheoatcakesandwentontowardshergrandmother's
house.Soonitcameontosnowsothicklythatthepathandanyfootsteps,trackorspoorthatmighthavebeenuponitwereobscured.
Shefoundhergrandmotherwassosickshehadtakentoherbedandfallenintoafretfulsleep,moaningandshakingsothatthechildguessed
shehadafever.Shefelttheforehead,itburned.Sheshookouttheclothfromherbasket,touseittomaketheoldwomanacoldcompress,and
thewolf'spawfelltothefloor.
Butitwasnolongerawolf'spaw.Itwasahand,choppedoffatthewrist,ahandtoughenedwithworkandfreckledwitholdage.Therewasa
weddingringonthethirdfingerandawartontheindexfinger.Bythewart,sheknewitforhergrandmother'shand.
Shepulledbackthesheetbuttheoldwomanwokeup,atthat,andbegantostruggle,squawkingandshriekinglikeathingpossessed.Butthe
childwasstrong,andarmedwithherfather'shuntingknifeshemanagedtoholdhergrandmotherdownlongenoughtoseethecauseofher
fever.Therewasabloodystumpwhereherrighthandshouldhavebeen,festeringalready.
Thechildcrossedherselfandcriedoutsoloudtheneighboursheardherandcomerushingin.Theyknewthewartonthehandatoncefora
witch'snippletheydrovetheoldwoman,inhershiftasshewas,outintothesnowwithsticks,beatingheroldcarcassasfarastheedgeofthe
forest,andpeltedherwithstonesuntilshefelldowndead.Nowthechildlivedinhergrandmother'shousesheprospered.

TheCompanyofWolves
Onebeastandonlyonehowlsinthewoodsbynight.
Thewolfiscarnivoreincarnateandhe'sascunningasheisferociousoncehe'shadatasteoffleshthennothingelsewilldo.
Atnight,theeyesofwolvesshinelikecandleflames,yellowish,reddish,butthatisbecausethepupilsoftheireyesfattenondarknessandcatch
thelightfromyourlanterntoflashitbacktoyouredfordangerifawolf'seyesreflectonlymoonlight,thentheygleamacoldandunnatural
green,amineral,apiercingcolour.Ifthebenightedtravellerspiesthoseluminous,terriblesequinsstitchedsuddenlyontheblackthickets,then
heknowshemustrun,iffearhasnotstruckhimstockstill.
Butthoseeyesareallyouwillbeabletoglimpseoftheforestassassinsastheyclusterinvisiblyroundyoursmellofmeatasyougothroughthe
woodunwiselylate.Theywillbelikeshadows,theywillbelikewraiths,greymembersofacongregationofnightmarehark!hislong,
waveringhowl...anariaoffearmadeaudible.
Thewolfsongisthesoundoftherendingyouwillsuffer,initselfamurdering.
Itiswinterandcoldweather.Inthisregionofmountainandforest,thereisnownothingforthewolvestoeat.Goatsandsheeparelockedupin
thebyre,thedeerdepartedfortheremainingpasturageonthesouthernslopeswolvesgrowleanandfamished.Thereissolittlefleshonthem
thatyoucouldcountthestarvelingribsthroughtheirpelts,iftheygaveyoutimebeforetheypounced.Thoseslaveringjawsthelollingtongue
therimeofsalivaonthegrizzledchopsofalltheteemingperilsofthenightandtheforest,ghosts,hobgoblins,ogresthatgrillbabiesupon
gridirons,witchesthatfattentheircaptivesincagesforcannibaltables,thewolfisworstforhecannotlistentoreason.
Youarealwaysindangerintheforest,wherenopeopleare.Stepbetweentheportalsofthegreatpineswheretheshaggybranchestangleabout
you,trappingtheunwarytravellerinnetsasifthevegetationitselfwereinaplotwiththewolveswholivethere,asthoughthewickedtreesgo
fishingonbehalfoftheirfriendsstepbetweenthegatepostsoftheforestwiththegreatesttrepidationandinfiniteprecautions,forifyoustray
fromthepathforoneinstant,thewolveswilleatyou.Theyaregreyasfamine,theyareasunkindasplague.
Thegraveeyedchildrenofthesparsevillagesalwayscarrykniveswiththemwhentheygoouttotendthelittleflocksofgoatsthatprovidethe
homesteadswithacridmilkandrank,maggotycheeses.Theirknivesarehalfasbigastheyare,thebladesaresharpeneddaily.
Butthewolveshavewaysofarrivingatyourownhearthside.Wetryandtrybutsometimeswecannotkeepthemout.Thereisnowinter'snight
thecottagerdoesnotfeartoseealean,grey,famishedsnoutquestingunderthedoor,andtherewasawomanoncebitteninherownkitchenas
shewasstrainingthemacaroni.
Fearandfleethewolffor,worstofall,thewolfmaybemorethanheseems.
Therewasahunteronce,nearhere,thattrappedawolfinapit.Thiswolfhadmassacredthesheepandgoatseatenupamadoldmanwhoused
tolivebyhimselfinahuthalfwayupthemountainandsingtoJesusalldaypouncedonagirllookingafterthesheep,butshemadesucha

commotionthatmencamewithriflesandscaredhimawayandtriedtotrackhimintotheforestbuthewascunningandeasilygavethemthe
slip.Sothishunterdugapitandputaduckinit,forbait,allaliveohandhecoveredthepitwithstrawsmearedwithwolfdung.Quack,quack!
wenttheduckandawolfcameslinkingoutoftheforest,abigone,aheavyone,heweighedasmuchasagrownmanandthestrawgaveway
beneathhimintothepithetumbled.Thehunterjumpeddownafterhim,slithisthroat,cutoffallhispawsforatrophy.
Andthennowolfatalllayinfrontofthehunterbutthebloodytrunkofaman,headless,footless,dying,dead.
Awitchfromupthevalleyonceturnedanentireweddingpartyintowolvesbecausethegroomhadsettledonanothergirl.Sheusedtoorder
themtovisither,atnight,fromspite,andtheywouldsitandhowlaroundhercottageforher,serenadingherwiththeirmisery.
Notsoverylongago,ayoungwomaninourvillagemarriedamanwhovanishedcleanawayonherweddingnight.Thebedwasmadewith
newsheetsandthebridelaydowninitthegroomsaid,hewasgoingouttorelievehimself,insistedonit,forthesakeofdecency,andshedrew
thecoverletuptoherchinandshelaythere.Andshewaitedandshewaitedandthenshewaitedagainsurelyhe'sbeengonealongtime?Until
shejumpsupinbedandshriekstohearahowling,comingonthewindfromtheforest.
Thatlongdrawn,waveringhowlhas,forallitsfearfulresonance,someinherentsadnessinit,asifthebeastswouldlovetobelessbeastlyif
onlytheyknewhowandneverceasetomourntheirowncondition.Thereisavastmelancholyinthecanticlesofthewolves,melancholy
infiniteastheforest,endlessastheselongnightsofwinterandyetthatghastlysadness,thatmourningfortheirown,irremediableappetites,can
nevermovetheheartfornotonephraseinithintsatthepossibilityofredemptiongracecouldnotcometothewolffromitsowndespair,only
throughsomeexternalmediator,sothat,sometimes,thebeastwilllookasifhehalfwelcomestheknifethatdespatcheshim.
Theyoungwoman'sbrotherssearchedtheouthousesandthehaystacksbutneverfoundanyremainssothesensiblegirldriedhereyesandfound
herselfanotherhusbandnottooshytopissintoapotwhospentthenightsindoors.Shegavehimapairofbonnybabiesandallwentrightasa
trivetuntil,onefreezingnight,thenightofthesolstice,thehingeoftheyearwhenthingsdonotfittogetheraswellastheyshould,thelongest
night,herfirstgoodmancamehomeagain.
Agreatthumponthedoorannouncedhimasshewasstirringthesoupforthefatherofherchildrenandsheknewhimthemomentsheliftedthe
latchtohimalthoughitwasyearssinceshe'dwornblackforhimandnowhewasinragsandhishairhungdownhisbackandneversawa
comb,alivewithlice.
'HereIamagain,missus,'hesaid.'Getmemybowlofcabbageandbequickaboutit.'
Thenhersecondhusbandcameinwithwoodforthefireandwhenthefirstonesawshe'dsleptwithanothermanand,worse,clappedhisred
eyesonherlittlechildrenwho'dcreptintothekitchentoseewhatallthedinwasabout,heshouted:'IwishIwereawolfagain,toteachthis
whorealesson!'Soawolfheinstantlybecameandtoreofftheeldestboy'sleftfootbeforehewaschoppedupwiththehatchettheyusedfor
choppinglogs.Butwhenthewolflaybleedingandgaspingitslast,thepeltpeeledoffagainandhewasjustashehadbeen,yearsago,whenhe
ranawayfromhismarriagebed,sothatsheweptandhersecondhusbandbeather.
Theysaythere'sanointmenttheDevilgivesyouthatturnsyouintoawolftheminuteyourubiton.Or,thathewasbornfeetfirstandhada
wolfforhisfatherandhistorsoisaman'sbuthislegsandgenitalsareawolf's.Andhehasawolf'sheart.
Sevenyearsisawerewolf'snaturalspanbutifyouburnhishumanclothingyoucondemnhimtowolfishnessfortherestofhislife,sooldwives
hereaboutsthinkitsomeprotectiontothrowahatoranapronatthewerewolf,asifclothesmadetheman.Yetbytheeyes,those
phosphorescenteyes,youknowhiminallhisshapestheeyesaloneunchangedbymetamorphosis.
Beforehecanbecomeawolf,thelycanthropestripsstarknaked.Ifyouspyanakedmanamongthepines,youmustrunasiftheDevilwere
afteryou.
Itismidwinterandtherobin,thefriendofman,sitsonthehandleofthegardener'sspadeandsings.Itistheworsttimeinalltheyearforwolves
butthisstrongmindedchildinsistsshewillgooffthroughthewood.Sheisquitesurethewildbeastscannotharmheralthough,wellwarned,
shelaysacarvingknifeinthebaskethermotherhaspackedwithcheeses.Thereisabottleofharshliquordistilledfrombramblesabatchof
flatoatcakesbakedonthehearthstoneapotortwoofjam.Theflaxenhairedgirlwilltakethesedeliciousgiftstoareclusivegrandmotherso
oldtheburdenofheryearsiscrushinghertodeath.Grannylivestwohours'trudgethroughthewinterwoodsthechildwrapsherselfupinher
thickshawl,drawsitoverherhead.ShestepsintoherstoutwoodenshoessheisdressedandreadyanditisChristmasEve.Themaligndoorof
thesolsticestillswingsuponitshingesbutshehasbeentoomuchlovedevertofeelscared.
Childrendonotstayyoungforlonginthissavagecountry.Therearenotoysforthemtoplaywithsotheyworkhardandgrowwisebutthis
one,soprettyandtheyoungestofherfamily,alittlelatecomer,hadbeenindulgedbyhermotherandthegrandmotherwho'dknittedherthered
shawlthat,today,hastheominousifbrilliantlookofbloodonsnow.Herbreastshavejustbeguntoswellherhairislikelint,sofairithardly
makesashadowonherpaleforeheadhercheeksareanemblematicscarletandwhiteandshehasjuststartedherwoman'sbleeding,theclock
insideherthatwillstrike,henceforward,onceamonth.
Shestandsandmoveswithintheinvisiblepentacleofherownvirginity.Sheisanunbrokeneggsheisasealedvesselshehasinsidehera
magicspacetheentrancetowhichisshuttightwithaplugofmembranesheisaclosedsystemshedoesnotknowhowtoshiver.Shehasher
knifeandsheisafraidofnothing.
Herfathermightforbidher,ifhewerehome,butheisawayintheforest,gatheringwood,andhermothercannotdenyher.
Theforestcloseduponherlikeapairofjaws.
Thereisalwayssomethingtolookatintheforest,eveninthemiddleofwinterthehuddledmoundsofbirds,succumbedtothelethargyofthe
season,heapedonthecreakingboughsandtooforlorntosingthebrightfrillsofthewinterfungiontheblotchedtrunksofthetreesthe
cuneiformslotsofrabbitsanddeer,theherringbonetracksofthebirds,ahareasleanasarasherofbaconstreakingacrossthepathwherethe
thinsunlightdapplestherussetbrakesoflastyear'sbracken.
Whensheheardthefreezinghowlofadistantwolf,herpractisedhandsprangtothehandleofherknife,butshesawnosignofawolfatall,nor
ofanakedman,neither,butthensheheardaclatteringamongthebrushwoodandtheresprangontothepathafullyclothedone,avery
handsomeyoungone,inthegreencoatandwideawakehatofahunter,ladenwithcarcassesofgamebirds.Shehadherhandonherknifeatthe
firstrustleoftwigsbuthelaughedwithaflashofwhiteteethwhenhesawherandmadeheracomicyetflatteringlittlebowshe'dneverseen
suchafinefellowbefore,notamongtherusticclownsofhernativevillage.Soontheywenttogether,throughthethickeninglightofthe
afternoon.
Soontheywerelaughingandjokinglikeoldfriends.Whenheofferedtocarryherbasket,shegaveittohimalthoughherknifewasinitbecause
hetoldherhisriflewouldprotectthem.Asthedaydarkened,itbegantosnowagainshefeltthefirstflakessettleonhereyelashesbutnow
therewasonlyhalfamiletogoandtherewouldbeafire,andhottea,andawelcome,awarmone,surely,forthedashinghuntsmanaswellas
forherself.
Thisyoungmanhadaremarkableobjectinhispocket.Itwasacompass.Shelookedatthelittleroundglassfaceinthepalmofhishandand

watchedthewaveringneedlewithavaguewonder.Heassuredherthiscompasshadtakenhimsafelythroughthewoodonhishuntingtrip
becausetheneedlealwaystoldhimwithperfectaccuracywherethenorthwas.Shedidnotbelieveitsheknewsheshouldneverleavethepath
onthewaythroughthewoodorelseshewouldbelostinstantly.Helaughedatheragaingleamingtrailsofspittleclungtohisteeth.Hesaid,if
heplungedoffthepathintotheforestthatsurroundedthem,hecouldguaranteetoarriveathergrandmother'shouseagoodquarterofanhour
beforeshedid,plottinghiswaythroughtheundergrowthwithhiscompass,whileshetrudgedthelongway,alongthewindingpath.
Idon'tbelieveyou.Besides,aren'tyouafraidofthewolves?
Heonlytappedthegleamingbuttofhisrifleandgrinned.
Isitabet?heaskedher.Shallwemakeagameofit?WhatwillyougivemeifIgettoyourgrandmother'shousebeforeyou?
Whatwouldyoulike?sheaskeddisingenuously.
Akiss.
Commonplacesofarusticseductionsheloweredhereyesandblushed.
Hewentthroughtheundergrowthandtookherbasketwithhimbutsheforgottobeafraidofthebeasts,althoughnowthemoonwasrising,for
shewantedtodawdleonherwaytomakesurethehandsomegentlemanwouldwinhiswager.
Grandmother'shousestoodbyitselfalittlewayoutofthevillage.Thefreshlyfallingsnowblewineddiesaboutthekitchengardenandthe
youngmansteppeddelicatelyupthesnowypathtothedoorasifhewerereluctanttogethisfeetwet,swinginghisbundleofgameandthegirl's
basketandhummingalittletunetohimself.
Thereisafainttraceofbloodonhischinhehasbeensnackingonhiscatch.
Herappeduponthepanelswithhisknuckles.
Agedandfrail,grannyisthreequarterssuccumbedtothemortalitytheacheinherbonespromisesherandalmostreadytogiveinentirely.A
boycameoutfromthevillagetobuildupherhearthforthenightanhouragoandthekitchencrackleswithbusyfirelight.ShehasherBiblefor
company,sheisapiousoldwoman.Sheisproppeduponseveralpillowsinthebedsetintothewallpeasantfashion,wrappedupinthe
patchworkquiltshemadebeforeshewasmarried,moreyearsagothanshecarestoremember.Twochinaspanielswithlivercolouredblotches
ontheircoatsandblacknosessitoneithersideofthefireplace.Thereisabrightrugofwovenragsonthepantiles.Thegrandfatherclockticks
awayhererodingtime.
Wekeepthewolvesoutsidebylivingwell.
Herappeduponthepanelswithhishairyknuckles.
Itisyourgranddaughter,hemimickedinahighsoprano:
Liftupthelatchandwalkin,mydarling.
Youcantellthembytheireyes,eyesofabeastofprey,nocturnal,devastatingeyesasredasawoundyoucanhurlyourBibleathimandyour
apronafter,granny,youthoughtthatwasasureprophylacticagainsttheseinfernalvermin...nowcallonChristandhismotherandallthe
angelsinheaventoprotectyoubutitwon'tdoyouanygood.
Hisferalmuzzleissharpasaknifehedropshisgoldenburdenofgnawedpheasantonthetableandputsdownyourdeargirl'sbasket,too.Oh,
myGod,whathaveyoudonewithher?
Offwithhisdisguise,thatcoatofforestcolouredcloth,thehatwiththefeathertuckedintotheribbonhismattedhairstreamsdownhiswhite
shirtandshecanseethelicemovinginit.Thesticksinthehearthshiftandhissnightandtheforesthascomeintothekitchenwithdarkness
tangledinitshair.
Hestripsoffhisshirt.Hisskinisthecolourandtextureofvellum.Acrispstripeofhairrunsdownhisbelly,hisnipplesareripeanddarkas
poisonfruitbuthe'ssothinyoucouldcounttheribsunderhisskinifonlyhegaveyouthetime.Hestripsoffhistrousersandshecanseehow
hairyhislegsare.Hisgenitals,huge.Ah!huge.
Thelastthingtheoldladysawinallthisworldwasayoungman,eyeslikecinders,nakedasastone,approachingherbed.
Thewolfiscarnivoreincarnate.
Whenhehadfinishedwithher,helickedhischopsandquicklydressedhimselfagain,untilhewasjustashehadbeenwhenhecamethrough
herdoor.Heburnedtheinediblehairinthefireplaceandwrappedthebonesupinanapkinthathehidawayunderthebedinthewoodenchest
inwhichhefoundacleanpairofsheets.Thesehecarefullyputonthebedinsteadofthetelltalestainedoneshestowedawayinthelaundry
basket.Heplumpedupthepillowsandshookoutthepatchworkquilt,hepickeduptheBiblefromthefloor,closeditandlaiditonthetable.All
wasasithadbeenbeforeexceptthatgrandmotherwasgone.Thestickstwitchedinthegrate,theclocktickedandtheyoungmansatpatiently,
deceitfullybesidethebedingranny'snightcap.
Ratataptap.
Who'sthere,hequaversingranny'santiquefalsetto.
Onlyyourgranddaughter.
Soshecamein,bringingwithheraflurryofsnowthatmeltedintearsonthetiles,andperhapsshewasalittledisappointedtoseeonlyher
grandmothersittingbesidethefire.Butthenheflungofftheblanketandsprangtothedoor,pressinghisbackagainstitsothatshecouldnotget
outagain.
Thegirllookedroundtheroomandsawtherewasnoteventheindentationofaheadonthesmoothcheekofthepillowandhow,forthefirst
timeshe'dseenitso,theBiblelayclosedonthetable.Thetickoftheclockcrackedlikeawhip.Shewantedherknifefromherbasketbutshe
didnotdarereachforitbecausehiseyeswerefixeduponherhugeeyesthatnowseemedtoshinewithaunique,interiorlight,eyesthesizeof
saucers,saucersfullofGreekfire,diabolicphosphorescence.
Whatbigeyesyouhave.
Allthebettertoseeyouwith.
Notraceatalloftheoldwomanexceptforatuftofwhitehairthathadcaughtinthebarkofanunburnedlog.Whenthegirlsawthat,sheknew

shewasindangerofdeath.
Whereismygrandmother?
There'snobodyherebutwetwo,mydarling.
Nowagreathowlingroseupallaroundthem,near,verynear,ascloseasthekitchengarden,thehowlingofamultitudeofwolvessheknewthe
worstwolvesarehairyontheinsideandsheshivered,inspiteofthescarletshawlshepulledmorecloselyroundherselfasifitcouldprotecther
althoughitwasasredasthebloodshemustspill.
Whohascometosinguscarols,shesaid.
Thosearethevoicesofmybrothers,darlingIlovethecompanyofwolves.Lookoutofthewindowandyou'llseethem.
Snowhalfcakedthelatticeandsheopenedittolookintothegarden.Itwasawhitenightofmoonandsnowtheblizzardwhirledroundthe
gaunt,greybeastswhosquattedontheirhaunchesamongtherowsofwintercabbage,pointingtheirsharpsnoutstothemoonandhowlingasif
theirheartswouldbreak.Tenwolvestwentywolvessomanywolvesshecouldnotcountthem,howlinginconcertasifdementedorderanged.
Theireyesreflectedthelightfromthekitchenandshonelikeahundredcandles.
Itisverycold,poorthings,shesaidnowondertheyhowlso.
Sheclosedthewindowonthewolves'threnodyandtookoffherscarletshawl,thecolourofpoppies,thecolourofsacrifices,thecolourofher
menses,and,sinceherfeardidhernogood,sheceasedtobeafraid.
WhatshallIdowithmyshawl?
Throwitonthefire,dearone.Youwon'tneeditagain.
Shebundleduphershawlandthrewitontheblaze,whichinstantlyconsumedit.Thenshedrewherblouseoverherheadhersmallbreasts
gleamedasifthesnowhadinvadedtheroom.
WhatshallIdowithmyblouse?
Intothefirewithit,too,mypet.
Thethinmuslinwentflaringupthechimneylikeamagicbirdandnowoffcameherskirt,herwoollenstockings,hershoes,andontothefire
theywent,too,andweregoneforgood.Thefirelightshonethroughtheedgesofherskinnowshewasclothedonlyinheruntouched
integumentofflesh.Thisdazzling,nakedshecombedoutherhairwithherfingersherhairlookedwhiteasthesnowoutside.Thenwent
directlytothemanwithredeyesinwhoseunkemptmanethelicemovedshestoodupontiptoeandunbuttonedthecollarofhisshirt.
Whatbigarmsyouhave.
Allthebettertohugyouwith.
Everywolfintheworldnowhowledaprothalamionoutsidethewindowasshefreelygavethekisssheowedhim.
Whatbigteethyouhave!
Shesawhowhisjawbegantoslaverandtheroomwasfulloftheclamouroftheforest'sLiebestodbutthewisechildneverflinched,evenwhen
heanswered:
Allthebettertoeatyouwith.
Thegirlburstoutlaughingsheknewshewasnobody'smeat.Shelaughedathimfullintheface,sherippedoffhisshirtforhimandflungit
intothefire,inthefierywakeofherowndiscardedclothing.TheflamesdancedlikedeadsoulsonWalpurgisnachtandtheoldbonesunderthe
bedsetupaterribleclatteringbutshedidnotpaythemanyheed.
Carnivoreincarnate,onlyimmaculatefleshappeaseshim.
Shewilllayhisfearfulheadonherlapandshewillpickoutthelicefromhispeltandperhapsshewillputtheliceintohermouthandeatthem,
ashewillbidher,asshewoulddoinasavagemarriageceremony.
Theblizzardwilldiedown.
Theblizzarddieddown,leavingthemountainsasrandomlycoveredwithsnowasifablindwomanhadthrownasheetoverthem,theupper
branchesoftheforestpineslimed,creaking,swollenwiththefall.
Snowlight,moonlight,aconfusionofpawprints.
Allsilent,allstill.
Midnightandtheclockstrikes.ItisChristmasDay,thewerewolves'birthday,thedoorofthesolsticestandswideopenletthemallsink
through.
See!sweetandsoundshesleepsingranny'sbed,betweenthepawsofthetenderwolf.

WolfAlice
Couldthisraggedgirlwithbrindledlugshavespokenlikewedoshewouldhavecalledherselfawolf,butshecannotspeak,althoughshehowls
becausesheislonelyyet'howl'isnottherightwordforit,sincesheisyoungenoughtomakethenoisethatpupsdo,bubbling,delicious,like
thatofapanfuloffatonthefire.Sometimesthesharpearsofherfosterkindredhearheracrosstheirreparablegulfofabsencetheyanswerher
fromfarawaypineforestandthebaldmountainrim.Theircounterpointcrossesandcrisscrossesthenightskytheyaretryingtotalktoherbut
theycannotdosobecauseshedoesnotunderstandtheirlanguageevenifsheknowshowtouseitforsheisnotawolfherself,althoughsuckled
bywolves.
Herpantingtonguehangsoutherredlipsarethickandfresh.Herlegsarelong,leanandmuscular.Herelbows,handsandkneesarethickly
callusedbecauseshealwaysrunsonallfours.Sheneverwalksshetrotsorgallops.Herpaceisnotourpace.
Twolegslooks,fourlegssniffs.Herlongnoseisalwaysaquiver,siftingeveryscentitmeets.Withthisusefultool,shelengthilyinvestigates

everythingsheglimpses.Shecannetsomuchmoreoftheworldthanwecanthroughthefine,hairy,sensitivefiltersofhernostrilsthatherpoor
eyesightdoesnottroubleher.Hernoseissharperbynightthan'oureyesarebydaysoitisthenightsheprefers,whenthecoolreflectedlightof
themoondoesnotmakehereyessmartanddrawsoutthevariousfragrancesfromthewoodlandwhereshewanderswhenshecan.Butthe
wolveskeepwellawayfromthepeasants'shotguns,now,andshewillnolongerfindthemthere.
Wideshoulders,longarmsandshesleepssuccinctlycurledintoaballasifshewerecradlingherspineinhertail.Nothingaboutherishuman
exceptthatsheisnotawolfitisasifthefurshethoughtsheworehadmeltedintoherskinandbecomepartofit,althoughitdoesnotexist.
Likethewildbeasts,sheliveswithoutafuture.Sheinhabitsonlythepresenttense,afugueofthecontinuous,aworldofsensualimmediacyas
withouthopeasitiswithoutdespair.
Whentheyfoundherinthewolf'sdenbesidethebulletriddledcorpseofherfostermother,shewasnomorethanalittlebrownscrapsosnarled
inherownbrownhairtheydidnot,atfirst,thinkshewasachildbutacubshesnappedatherwouldbesaviourswithherspikycaninesuntil
theytiedherupbyforce.Shespentherfirstdaysamongstuscrouchedstockstill,staringatthewhitewashedwallofhercellintheconventto
whichtheytookher.Thenunspouredwateroverher,pokedherwithstickstorouseher.Thenshemightsnatchbreadfromtheirhandsandrace
withitintoacornertomumbleitwithherbacktowardsthemitwasagreatdayamongthenoviceswhenshelearnedtosituponherhindlegs
andbegforacrust.
Theyfoundthat,ifsheweretreatedwithalittlekindness,shewasnotintractable.Shelearnedtorecognizeherowndishthen,todrinkfroma
cup.Theyfoundthatshecouldquiteeasilybetaughtafew,simpletricksbutshedidnotfeelthecoldandittookalongtimetowheedleashift
overherheadtocoverupherboldnakedness.Yetshealwaysseemedwild,impatientofrestraint,capriciousintemperwhentheMother
Superiortriedtoteachhertogivethanksforherrecoveryfromthewolves,shearchedherback,pawedthefloor,retreatedtoafarcornerofthe
chapel,crouched,trembled,urinated,defecatedrevertedentirely,itwouldseem,tohernaturalstate.Therefore,withoutaqualm,thisninedays'
wonderandcontinuingembarrassmentofachildwasdeliveredovertothebereftandunsanctifiedhouseholdoftheDuke.
Depositedatthecastle,shehuffedandsnuffedandsmelledonlyareekofmeat,nottheleastwhiffofsulphur,noroffamiliarity.Shesettled
downonherhunkerswiththatdog'ssighthatisonlytheexpulsionofbreathanddoesnotmeaneitherrelieforresignation.
TheDukeissereasoldpaperhisdryskinrusticsagainstthebedsheetsashethrowsthembacktothrustouthisthinlegsscabbedwitholdscars
wherethornsscoredhispelt.Helivesinagloomymansion,allalonebutforthischildwhohasaslittleincommonwiththerestofusashe
does.Hisbedroomispaintedterracotta,rustedwithawashofpain,liketheinteriorofanIberianbutcher'sshop,butforhimself,nothingcan
hurthimsinceheceasedtocastanimageinthemirror.
Hesleepsinanantleredbedofdullblackwroughtironuntilthemoon,thegovernessoftransformationsandoverseerofsomnambulists,pokes
animperativefingerthroughthenarrowwindowandstrikeshisface:thenhiseyesstartopen.
Atnight,thosehuge,inconsolable,rapaciouseyesofhisareeatenupbyswollen,gleamingpupil.Hiseyesseeonlyappetite.Theseeyesopento
devourtheworldinwhichhesees,nowhere,areflectionofhimselfhepassedthroughthemirrorandnow,henceforward,livesasifuponthe
othersideofthings.
Spilt,glisteringmilkofmoonlightonthefrostcrispedgrassonsuchanight,inmoony,metamorphicweather,theysayyoumighteasilyfind
him,ifyouhadbeenfoolishenoughtoventureoutlate,scuttlingalongbythechurchyardwallwithhalfajuicytorsoslungacrosshisback.The
whitelightscoursthefieldsandscoursthemagainuntileverythinggleamsandhewillleavepawprintsinthehoarfrostwhenherunshowling
roundthegravesatnightinhislupinefiestas.
Bytheredearlyhourofmidwintersunset,allthedoorsarebarredformiles.Thecowslowfretfullyinthebyrewhenhegoesby,the
whimperingdogssinktheirnosesintheirpaws.Hecarriesonhisfrailshouldersaweirdburdenoffearheiscastintheroleofthecorpseeater,
thebodysnatcherwhoinvadesthelastprivaciesofthedead.Heiswhiteasleprosy,withscrabblingfingernails,andnothingdetershim.Ifyou
stuffacorpsewithgarlic,why,heonlyslaversatthetreat:cadavreprovenale.Hewillusetheholycrossasascratchingpostandcrouchabove
thefonttothirstilylapupholywater.
Shesleepsinthesoft,warmashesofthehearthbedsaretraps,shewillnotstayinone.Shecanperformthefew,smalltaskstowhichthenuns
trainedher,shesweepsupthehairs,vertebraeandphalangesthatlitterhisroomintoadustpan,shemakesuphisbedatsunset,whenheleaves
itandthegreybeastsoutsidehowl,asiftheyknowhistransformationistheirparody.Unkindtotheirprey,totheirowntheyaretenderhadthe
Dukebeenawolf,theywouldhaveangrilyexpelledhimfromthepack,hewouldhavehadtolollopalongmilesbehindthem,creepingin
submissiononhisbellyuptothekillonlyaftertheyhadeatenandweresleeping,tognawthewellchewedbonesandchewthehide.Yet,
suckledasshewasbywolvesonthehighuplandswherehermotherboreandlefther,onlyhiskitchenmaid,whoisnotwolforwoman,knows
nobetterthantodohischoresforhim.
Shegrewupwithwildbeasts.Ifyoucouldtransporther,inherfilth,ragsandferaldisorder,totheEdenofourfirstbeginningswhereEveand
gruntingAdamsquatonadaisybank,pickingthelicefromoneanother'spelts,thenshemightprovetobethewisechildwholeadsthemalland
hersilenceandherhowlingalanguageasauthenticasanylanguageofnature.Inaworldoftalkingbeastsandflowers,shewouldbethebudof
fleshinthekindlion'smouth:buthowcanthebittenapplefleshoutitsscaragain?
Mutilationisherlotthough,nowandthen,shewillemitaninvoluntaryrustleofsound,asiftheunusedchordsinherthroatwereawindharp
thatmovedwiththerandomimpulsesoftheair,herwhisper,moreobscurethanthevoicesofthedumb.
Familiardesecrationsinthevillagegraveyard.Thecoffinhadbeenrippedopenwiththeabandonwithwhichachildunwrapsagifton
Christmasmorningand,ofitscontents,notatracecouldbefoundbutforaragofthebridalveilinwhichthecorpsehadbeenwrappedthatwas
caught,fluttering,inthebramblesatthechurchyardgatesotheyknewwhichwayhehadtakenit,towardshisgloomycastle.
Inthelapseoftime,thetranceofbeingofthatexiledplace,thisgirlgrewamongstthingsshecouldneithernamenorperceive.Howdidshe
think,howdidshefeel,thisperennialstrangerwithherfurredthoughtsandherprimalsentiencethatexistedinafluxofshiftingimpressions
therearenowordstodescribethewayshenegotiatedtheabyssbetweenherdreams,thosewakingsstrangeashersleepings.Thewolveshad
tendedherbecausetheyknewshewasanimperfectwolfwesecludedherinanimalprivacyoutoffearofherimperfectionbecauseitshowed
uswhatwemighthavebeen,andsotimepassed,althoughshescarcelyknewit.Thenshebegantobleed.
Herfirstbloodbewilderedher.Shedidnotknowwhatitmeantandthefirststirringsofsurmisethatevershefeltweredirectedtowardsits
possiblecause.Themoonhadbeenshiningintothekitchenwhenshewoketofeelthetricklebetweenherthighsanditseemedtoherthatawolf
who,perhaps,wasfondofher,aswolveswere,andwholived,perhaps,inthemoon?musthavenibbledhercuntwhileshewassleeping,had
subjectedhertoaseriesofaffectionatenipstoogentletowakeheryetsharpenoughtobreaktheskin.Theshapeofthistheorywasblurredyet,
outofit,theretookrootakindofwildreasoning,asitmighthavefromaseeddroppedinherbrainoffthefootofaflyingbird.
Theflowcontinuedforafewdays,whichseemedtoheranendlesstime.Shehad,asyet,nodirectnotionofpast,oroffuture,orofduration,
onlyofadimensionless,immediatemoment.Atnight,sheprowledtheemptyhouselookingforragstosopthebloodupshehadlearnedalittle
elementaryhygieneintheconvent,enoughtoknowhowtoburyherexcrementandcleanseherselfofhernaturaljuices,althoughthenunshad
notthemeanstoinformherhowitshouldbe,itwasnotfastidiousnessbutshamethatmadeherdoso.
Shefoundtowels,sheetsandpillowcasesinclosetsthathadnotbeenopenedsincetheDukecameshriekingintotheworldwithallhisteeth,to

bitehismother'snippleoffandweep.Shefoundoncewornballdressesincobwebbedwardrobes,and,heapedinthecornersofhisbloody
chamber,shrouds,nightdressesandburialclothesthathadwrappeditemsontheDuke'smenus.Shetorestripsofthemostabsorbentfabricsto
clumsilydiaperherself.Inthecourseoftheseprowlings,shebumpedagainstthatmirroroverwhosesurfacetheDukepassedlikeawindonice.
First,shetriedtonuzzleherreflectionthen,nosingitindustriously,shesoonrealizeditgaveoutnosmell.Shebruisedhermuzzleonthecold
glassandbrokeherclawstryingtotusslewiththisstranger.Shesaw,withirritation,thenamusement,howitmimickedeverygestureofhers
whensheraisedherforepawtoscratchherselfordraggedherbumalongthedustycarpettoridherselfofaslightdiscomfortinherhindquarters.
Sherubbedherheadagainstherreflectedface,toshowthatshefeltfriendlytowardsit,andfeltacool,solid,immovablesurfacebetweenherself
andshesomekind,possibly,ofinvisiblecage?Inspiteofthisbarrier,shewaslonelyenoughtoaskthiscreaturetotrytoplaywithher,baring
herteethandgrinningatonceshereceivedareciprocalinvitation.Sherejoicedshebegantowhirlroundonherself,yappingexultantly,but,
whensheretreatedfromthemirror,shehaltedinthemidstofherecstasy,puzzled,toseehowhernewfriendgrewlessinsize.
ThemoonlightspilledintotheDuke'smotionlessbedroomfrombehindacloudandshesawhowpalethiswolf,notwolfwhoplayedwithher
was.Themoonandmirrorshavethismuchincommon:youcannotseebehindthem.Moonlitandwhite,WolfAlicelookedatherselfinthe
mirrorandwonderedwhetherthereshesawthebeastwhocametobiteherinthenight.Thenhersensitiveearsprickedatthesoundofastepin
thehalltrottingatoncebacktoherkitchen,sheencounteredtheDukewiththelegofamanoverhisshoulder.Hertoenailsclickedagainstthe
stairsasshepaddedincuriouslypast,she,theserene,inviolableoneinherabsoluteandverminousinnocence.
Soontheflowceased.Sheforgotit.Themoonvanishedbut,littlebylittle,reappeared.Whenitagainvisitedherkitchenatfullstrength,Wolf
Alicewassurprisedintobleedingagainandsoitwenton,withapunctualitythattransformedhervaguegripontime.Shelearnedtoexpect
thesebleedings,toprepareherragsagainstthem,andafterwards,neatlytoburythedirtiedthings.Sequenceasserteditselfwithcustomandthen
sheunderstoodthecircumambulatoryprincipleoftheclockperfectly,evenifallclockswerebanishedfromthedenwheresheandtheDuke
inhabitedtheirseparatesolitudes,sothatyoumightsayshediscoveredtheveryactionoftimebymeansofthisreturningcycle.
Whenshecurledupamongthecinders,thecolour,textureandwarmthofthembroughtherfostermother'sbellyoutofthepastandprintediton
herfleshherfirstconsciousmemory,painfulasthefirsttimethenunscombedherhair.Shehowledalittle,inafirmer,deepeningtrajectory,to
obtaintheinscrutableconsolationofthewolves'response,fornowtheworldaroundherwasassumingform.Sheperceivedanessential
differencebetweenherselfandhersurroundingsthatyoumightsayshecouldnotputherfingerononly,thetreesandgrassofthemeadows
outsidenolongerseemedtheemanationofherquestingnoseanderectears,andyetsufficienttoitself,butakindofbackdropforher,that
waitedforherarrivalstogiveitmeaning.Shesawherselfuponitandhereyes,withtheirsombreclarity,tookonaveiled,introspectivelook.
Shewouldspendhoursexaminingthenewskinthathadbeenborn,itseemedtoher,ofherbleeding.Shewouldlickhersoftupholsterywithher
longtongueandgroomherhairwithherfingernails.Sheexaminedhernewbreastswithcuriositythewhitegrowthsremindedherofnothingso
muchasthenightsprungpuffballsshehadfound,sometimes,oneveningramblesinthewoods,anaturalifdisconcertingapparition,butthen,
toherastonishment,shefoundalittlediademoffreshhairstuftingbetweenherthighs.Sheshowedittohermirrorlittermate,whoreassuredher
byshowinghershesharedit.
ThedamnedDukehauntsthegraveyardhebelieveshimselftobebothlessandmorethanaman,asifhisobscenedifferencewereasignof
grace.Duringtheday,hesleeps.Hismirrorfaithfullyreflectshisbedbutneverthemeagreshapewithinthedisorderedcovers.
Sometimes,onthosewhitenightswhenshewasleftaloneinthehouse,shedraggedouthisgrandmother'sballdressesandrolledonsuave
velvetandabrasivelacebecausetodosodelightedheradolescentskin.Herintimateinthemirrorwoundtheoldclothesroundherself,
wrinklingitsnoseindelightattheancientyetstillpotentscentsofmuskandcivetthatwokeupinthesleevesandbodices.Thishabitual,atlast
boring,fidelitytohereverymovementfinallywokeheruptotheregretfulpossibilitythathercompanionwas,infact,nomorethana
particularlyingeniousvarietyoftheshadowshecastonsunlitgrass.Hadnotsheandtherestofthelittertussledandrompedwiththeirshadows
longago?Shepokedheragilenosearoundthebackofthemirrorshefoundonlydust,aspiderstuckinhisweb,aheapofrags.Alittle
moistureleakedfromthecornersofhereyes,yetherrelationwiththemirrorwasnowfarmoreintimatesincesheknewshesawherselfwithin
it.
ShepawedandtumbledthedresstheDukehadtuckedawaybehindthemirrorforawhile.Thedustwassoonshakenoutofitshe
experimentallyinsertedherfrontlegsinthesleeves.Althoughthedresswastornandcrumpled,itwassowhiteandofsuchasinuoustexture
thatshethought,beforesheputiton,shemustthoroughlywashoffhercoatofashesinthewaterfromthepumpintheyard,whichsheknew
howtomanipulatewithhercunningforepaw.Inthemirror,shesawhowthiswhitedressmadehershine.
Althoughshecouldnotrunsofastontwolegsinpetticoats,shetrottedoutinhernewdresstoinvestigatetheodorousOctoberhedgerows,like
adbutantefromthecastle,delightedwithherselfbutstill,nowandthen,singingtothewolveswithakindofwistfultriumph,becausenowshe
knewhowtowearclothesandsohadputonthevisiblesignofherdifferencefromthem.
HerfootprintsondampeartharebeautifulandmenacingasthoseManFridayleft.
Theyounghusbandofthedeadbridespentalongtimeplanninghisrevenge.Hefilledthechurchwithanarsenalofbells,booksandcandlesa
batteryofsilverbulletstheybroughtatengallontubofholywaterinawagonfromthecity,whereithadbeenblessedbytheArchbishop
himself,todrowntheDuke,ifthebulletsbouncedoffhim.Theygatheredinthechurchtochantalitanyandwaitfortheonewhowouldvisit
withthefirstdeathsofwinter.
Shegoesoutatnightmoreoftennowthelandscapeassemblesitselfabouther,sheinformsitwithherpresence.Sheisitssignificance.
Itseemedtoherthecongregationinthechurchwasineffectuallyattemptingtoimitatethewolves'chorus.Shelentthemtheassistanceofher
own,educatedvoiceforawhile,rockingcontemplativelyonherhaunchesbythegraveyardgatethenhernostrilstwitchedtocatchtherank
stenchofthedeadthattoldherhercohabitorwasathandraisingherhead,whodidhernew,keeneyesspybutthelordofcobwebcastleintent
onperforminghiscannibalrituals?
Andifhernostrilsflaresuspiciouslyatthechokingreekofincenseandhisdonot,thatisbecausesheisfarmoresentientthanhe.Shewill,
therefore,run,run!whenshehearsthecrackofbullets,becausetheykilledherfostermotherso,withtheselfsameliltinglope,drenchedwith
holywater,willherun,too,untiltheyoungwidowerfiresthesilverbulletthatbiteshisshoulderanddragsoffhalfhisfictivepelt,sothathe
mustriseuplikeanycommonforkedbipedandlimpdistressfullyonasbesthemay.
Whentheysawthewhitebrideleapoutofthetombstonesandscamperofftowardsthecastlewiththewerewolfstumblingafter,thepeasants
thoughttheDuke'sdearestvictimhadcomebacktotakemattersintoherownhands.Theyranscreamingfromthepresenceofaghostly
vengeanceonhim.
Poor,woundedthing...lockedhalfandhalfbetweensuchstrangestates,anabortedtransformation,anincompletemystery,nowhelieswrithing
onhisblackbedintheroomlikeaMycenaeantomb,howlslikeawolfwithhisfootinatraporawomaninlabour,andbleeds.
First,shewasfearfulwhensheheardthesoundofpain,incaseithurther,asithaddonebefore.Sheprowledroundthebed,growling,snuffing
athiswoundthatdoesnotsmelllikeherwound.Then,shewaspitifulashergauntgreymothersheleaptuponhisbedtolick,without
hesitation,withoutdisgust,withaquick,tendergravity,thebloodanddirtfromhischeeksandforehead.

Thelucidityofthemoonlightlitthemirrorproppedagainsttheredwalltherationalglass,themasterofthevisible,impartiallyrecordedthe
crooninggirl.
Asshecontinuedherministrations,thisglass,withinfiniteslowness,yieldedtothereflexivestrengthofitsownmaterialconstruction.Littleby
little,thereappearedwithinit,liketheimageonphotographicpaperthatemerges,first,aformlessweboftracery,thepreycaughtinitsown
fishingnet,theninfirmeryetstillshadowedoutlineuntilatlastasvividasreallifeitself,asifbroughtintobeingbyhersoft,moist,gentle
tongue,finally,thefaceoftheDuke.
AboutTheAuthor:
AngelaCarterwasbornin1940.Whenshepublishedherfirstnovel,ShadowDance,in1966,shewasimmediatelyrecognizedasoneof
Britain'smostoriginalwriters.Eightothernovelsfollowed:TheMagicToyshop(1967,JohnLlewellynRhysPrize),SeveralPerceptions(1968,
SomersetMaughamAward),HeroesandVillains(1969),Love(1971),TheInfernalDesireMachinesofDoctorHoffman(1972),ThePassionof
NewEve(1977),NightsattheCircus(1984,JamesTaitBlackMemorialPrize),andWiseChildren(1991).AngelaCarteralsopublishedthree
collectionsofshortstoriesTheBloodyChamber(1979,CheltenhamFestivalofLiteratureAward),Fireworks:NineProfanePieces(1984),
andSaintsandStrangers(1985,publishedintheUKasBlackVenus)abookofessayscalledTheSadeianWoman,twocollectionsof
journalism,andavolumeofradioplays.ShetranslatedthefairystoriesofCharlesPerraultandeditedcollectionsoffairyandfolktalesaswell
asWaywardGirls&WickedWomen:AnAnthologyofSubversiveStories(1986).Shealsowrotethescreenplayforthe1984filmTheCompany
ofWolves,basedonhershortstory.AfourthcollectionofstorieswaspublishedintheUnitedKingdomin1993asAmericanGhostsandOld
WorldWonders.AngelaCarter'sstorieshavebeencollectedinonevolumeentitledBurningYourBoats.
From1976through1978AngelaCarterwasArtsCouncilofGreatBritainFellowinCreativeWritingatSheffieldUniversity,andfrom1980
through1981shewasvisitingprofessorintheWritingProgramatBrownUniversity.ShetraveledandtaughtwidelyintheUnitedStatesand
AustraliabutlivedinLondon.AngelaCarterdiedinFebruary,1992.

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