While there were talking to O, the two women who had come to dress her had been standing on either side of the stake where she had been whipped, without touching it, as though it terrified them, or as though they had been forbidden to touch it (which was more likely); when the man had finished, they came over to O, who realized that she was supposed to get up and follow them. She therefore got up, gathering her skirts in her arms to keep from tripping, for she was not used to long dresses and did not feel steady on the mules with thick soles and very high heels which only a thick satin strip, of the same green as her dress, kept from slipping off her feet. As she bent down she turned her head. The women were waiting, the men were no longer looking at her. Her lover, seated on the floor leaning against the ottoman over which she had been thrown at the beginning of the evening, with his knees raised and his elbows on his knees, was toying with the leather whip. As she took her first step to join the women, her skirt grazed him. He raised his head and smiled, calling her by her name, and he too stood up. Softly her caressed her hair, smoothed her eyebrows with the tip of his finger, and softly kissed her on the lips. In a loud voice, he told her that he loved her. O, trembling, was terrified to notice that she answered "I love you," and that it was true. He pulled her against him and said: "Darling, sweetheart," kissed her on the neck and the curve of the cheek; she had let her head fall on his shoulder, which was covered by the purple robe. Very softly this time he repeated to her that he loved her, and very softly added: "You're going to kneel down, cress me, and kiss me," and he pushed her away, signaling to the women to move aside so he could lean back against the console. He was tall, but the table was not very high and his long legs, sheathed in the same purple as his robe, were bent. The open rope stiffened from beneath like drapes, and the top of the console table slightly raised his heavy sex and the light fleece above it. The three men approached. O knelt down on the rug, her green dress in a corolla around her. Her bodice squeezed her; her breasts whose nipples were visible, were at the level of her lover's knees. "A little more light," said one of the men. As they were adjusting the lamp so that the beam of light would fall directly on his sex and on his mistress's face, which was almost touching it, and on her hands which were caressing him from below, René suddenly ordered: "Say it again: 'I love you.'" O repeated "I love you," with such delight that her lips hardly dared brush the tip of his sex, which was still protected by its sheath of soft flesh. The three men, who were smoking, commented on her gestures, on the movement of her mouth closed and locked on the sex she had seized, as it worked its way up and down, on the way tears streamed down her ravaged face each time the swollen member struck the back of her throat and made her gag, depressing her tongue and causing her to feel nauseous. It was this same mouth which, half gagging on the hardened flesh which filled it, murmured again: "I love you." The two women had taken up positions to the right and left of René who had one arm around each of their shoulders. O could hear the comments made by those present, , but through their words she strained to hear her lover's moans, caressing him carefully, slowly , and with infinite respect, the way she knew pleased him. O felt that her mouth was beautiful, since her lover condescended to thrust himself into it, since he deigned publicly to offer caresses to it, since, finally, he deigned to discharge in it. She received as a god is received, she heard him cry out, heard the others laugh, and when she had received it she fell, her face against the floor. The two women picked her up, and this time they led her away.
The mules banged on the red tiles of the hallway, where doors succeeded doors, discreet and clean, with tiny locks, like the doors of the rooms in big hotels. O was working up the courage to ask whether each of these rooms was occupied, and by whom, when one of her companions, whose voice she had not yet heard said to her:
"You're in the red wing, and your valet's name is Pierre."
"What valet?" said O, struck by the gentleness of the voice.
"And what's your name?"
"Mine is Jeanne," said the second.
"The valet is the one who has the keys," the first one went on, "the one who will chain and unchain you, who will whip you when you are to be punished and when the others have no time for you."
"I was in the red wing last year," Jeanne said. "Pierre was there already. He often came in at night. The valets have the keys and the right to use any of us in the rooms of their section."
O was about to ask what kind of person this Pierre was, but she did not have time to. As they turned a corner of the hallway, they made her halt before a door similar in all respects to the others: on a bench between this and the following door she noticed a sort of thick-set, ruddy peasant, whose head was practically clean shaved, with small black eyes set deep in his skull and rolls of flesh on his neck. He was dressed like the valet in some operetta: a shirt whose lace frills peeked out from beneath his black vest, which itself was covered by a red jacket of the kind called a spencer. He had black breeches, white stockings, and patent-leather pumps. He too was carrying a leather-thonged whip in his belt. His hands were covered with red hair. He took a master key from his vest pocket, ushered the three women in, and said:
"I'm locking the door. Ring when you've finished."
The cell was quite small, and actually consisted of two rooms. With the hall door closed, they found themselves in an antechamber which opened into the cell proper; in this same wall, inside the room itself, was another door which opened into the bathroom. Opposite the doors there was the window. Against the left wall, between the doors and the window, stood the head of a large square bed, which was very low and covered with furs. There was no other furniture, no mirror. The walls were bright red, and the rug black. Andrée pointed out to O that the bed was less a bed than a mattressed platform covered with a black, longhaired imitation fur material. The pillow, hard and flat like the mattress, was of the same reversible material. The only object on any of the walls was a thick, gleaming steel ring which was set at about the same height above the bed as the hook in the stake had been above the floor of the library; from it descended a long steel chain directly onto the bed, its links forming a little pile, the other end being attached at arm's length to a pad-locked hook, like a drapery pulled back and held in place by a curtain loop.
"We have to give you your bath," Jeanne said. "I'll unfasten your dress."
The only peculiar features of the bathroom were the Turkish-type toilet, located in the corner nearest the door, and the fact that every inch of wall space was covered with mirrors. Jeanne and Andrée did not allow O to go in until she was naked. They put her dress away in the closet next to the washbasin, where her mules and red cape already were, and remained with her, so that when she had to squat down over the porcelain pedestal she found herself surrounded by a whole host of reflections, as exposed as in the library when unknown hands had taken her by force.
"Wait until it's Pierre," said Jeanne, "and you'll see."
"When he comes to chain you, he may make you squat."
O felt herself turn pale. "But why?" she said.
"Because you have to," Jeanne replied. "But you're lucky."
"Was it your lover who brought you here?"
"Yes," O said.
"They'll be a lot harder with you."
"I don't understand...."
"You will very soon. I'm ringing for Pierre. We'll come and get you tomorrow morning."
Andrée smiled as she left and Jeanne, before following her, caressed the tips of O's breasts. O, completely taken aback, remained standing at the foot of the bed. With the exception of the collar and leather bracelets, which the water had stiffened when she had bathed and were tighter than before, O was naked.
"Behold the lovely lady," said the valet as he entered. And he seized both her hands. He slipped one of the bracelet hooks into the other, so that her wrists were tightly joined, then clipped both these hooks to the ring of the necklace. Thus her hands were joined as in an attitude of prayer, at the level of her neck. All that remained to be done was to chain her to the wall with the chain that was lying on the bed, and was attached to the ring above. He unfastened the hook by which the other end was attached and pulled on it in order to shorten it. O was forced to move to the head of the bed, where he made her lie down. The chain clicked in the ring, and was so tight that the young woman could do no more than move from one side of the bed to the other or stand up on either side of the headboard. Since the chain tended to shorten the collar, that is, pull it backward, and her hands tended to pull it forward, and equilibrium was established, with her joined hands lying on her left shoulder and her head bending in that direction as well. The valet pulled the black cover up over O, but not before he had lifted her legs for a moment and pushed them back toward her chest, to examine the cleft between her thighs. He did not touch her further, did not say a word, turned out the light, which was a bracket lamp on the wall between the two doors, and went out.
Lying on her left side, alone in the darkness and silence, hot beneath her two layers of fur, of necessity motionless, O tried to figure out why there was so much sweetness mingled with the terror in her, or why her terror seemed itself so sweet. She realized that one of the things that most distressed her was the fact that she had been deprived of the use of her hands; not that her hands could have defended her (and did she really want to defend herself?), but had they been free they would at least have made the gesture, have made an attempt to repel the hands which seized her, the flesh which pierced her, to protect her loins from the whip. O's hands had been taken away from her; her body beneath the fur was inaccessible to her. How strange it was not to be able to touch one's own knees, or the hollow of one's own belly. The lips between her legs, her burning lips were forbidden her, and perhaps they were burning because she knew they were open to the first comer: to the valet Pierre, if he cared to enter. She was surprised that the whipping she had received had left her so untroubled, so calm, whereas the thought that she would probably never know which of the four men had twice taken her from behind, and whether it was the same man both times, and whether it had been her lover, quite distressed her. She turned over slightly on her stomach, recalling that her lover loved the furrow between her buttocks which, except for this evening (if it had been he), he had never penetrated. She hoped it had been he; would she ask him? Ah, never! Again she saw the hand which in the car had taken her garter belt and panties, and had stretched the garters so that she could roll her stockings down to above her knees. The memory was so vivid that she forgot her hands were bound and made the chain grate. And why, if she took the memory of the torture she had gone through so lightly, why did the very idea , the very word or sight of a whip make her heart beat wildly and her eyes close with terror? She did not stop to consider whether it was only terror; she was overwhelmed with panic: they would pull on her chain and haul her to her feet on the bed, and they would whip her, with her belly glued to the wall they would whip her, whip her, the word kept turning in her head. Pierre would whip her, Jeanne had said he would. You're lucky, Jeanne had repeated, they'll be a lot harder on you. What had she meant by that? She no longer felt anything but the collar, the bracelets, and the chain; her body was drifting away. She fell asleep.
In the wee hours of the night, just before dawn when it is darkest and coldest, Pierre reappeared. He turned on the light in the bathroom, leaving the door open so that a square of light fell on the middle of the bed, on the spot where O's slender body was curled, making a small mound beneath the cover, which silently he pulled back. Since O was sleeping on her left side, her face to the window and her legs slightly drawn up, the view she offered him was that of her white flanks, which seemed even whiter against the black fur. He took the pillow from beneath her head and said politely:
"Would you lease stand up," and when she was on her knees, a position she managed by pulling herself up with the chain, he gave her a hand, taking her by the elbows so that she could stand up straight with her face to the wall. The square of light on the bed, which was faint, since the bed was black, illuminated her body, but not his gestures. She guessed, but could not see, that he was undoing the chain to rehook it to another link, so that it would remain taut, and she could feel it growing tighter. Her feet, which were bare, were solidly planted on the bed. Nor was she able to see that he had in his belt not the leather whip but the black riding crop similar to the one they had hit her with while she was tied to the stake, but they had only used it twice on her and had not hit her hard. She felt Pierre's left hand on her waist, the Mattress gave a little as, to steady himself, he put his right foot on it. At the same time as she heard a whistling noise in the semidarkness, O felt a terrible burning across her back, and she screamed. Pierre flogged her with all his might. He did not wait for her screams to subside, but struck her again four times, being careful each time to lash her above or below the preceding spot, so that the traces would be all the clearer. Even after he had stopped she went on screaming, and the tears streamed down into her open mouth.
"Please be good enough to turn around," he said, and since she, who was completely distracted, failed to obey, he took her by hips without letting go of his riding crop, the handle of which brushed against her waist. When she was facing him, he moved back slightly and lowered his crop on the front of her thighs as hard as he could. The whole thing had lasted five minutes. When he had left, after having turned out the light and closed the bathroom door, O was left moaning in the darkness, swaying back and forth along the wall at the end of her chain. She tried to stop moaning and to immobilize herself against the wall, whose gleaming percale was cool on her tortured flesh, as day slowly began to break. The tall window, toward which she was turned, for she was leaning on one hip, was facing the east. It extended from floor to ceiling and except for the drapes - of the same red material as that on the wall - which graced it on either side and split into stiff folds below the curtain loops which held it, had not curtains. O watched the slow birth of pale dawn, trailing its mist among the clusters of asters outside at the foot of her window, until finally a poplar tree appeared. The yellow leaves from time to time fell in swirls, although there was no wind. In front of the window, beyond the bed of purple asters, there was a lawn, at the end of which was a pathway. It was broad daylight by now, and O had not moved for a long time. A gardener appeared on the path, pushing a wheelbarrow. The iron wheel could be heard squeaking over the gravel. If he had come over to rake the leaves that had fallen in among the asters, the window was so tall and the room so small and bright that he would have seen O chained and naked and the marks of the riding crop on her thighs. The cuts were swollen, and had formed narrow swellings much darker in color than the red of the walls. Where was her lover sleeping, the way he loved to sleep on quiet mornings? In what room, in what bed? Was he aware of the pain, the tortures to which he had delivered her? Was he the one who had decided what they would be? O recalled the prisoners she had seen in engravings and in history books, who also had been chained and whipped many years ago, centuries ago, and had died. She did not wish to die, but if torture was the price she had to pay to keep her lover's love, then she only hoped he was pleased that she had endured it. All soft and silent she waited, waited for them to bring her back to him.
None of the women had the keys to any locks, neither the locks to the doors nor the chains, the collars or bracelets, but every man carried a ring of three sets of keys, each of which, in the various categories, opened all the doors or all the padlocks, or all the collars. The valets had them too. But in the morning the valets who had been on the night shift were sleeping, and it was one of the masters or another valet who came to open the locks. The man who came into O's cell was dressed in a leather jacket and was wearing riding breeches and boots. She did not recognize him. First he unlocked the chain on the wall, and O was able to lie down on the bed. Before he unlocked her wrists, he ran his hands between her thighs, the way the first man with mask and gloves, whom she had seen in the small red drawing room, had done. It may have been the same one. His face was bony and fleshless, with that piercing look one associates with the portraits of the Huguenots, and his hair was gray. O met his gaze for what seemed to be an endless time and, suddenly freezing, she remembered it was forbidden to look at the masters above the belt. She closed her eyes, but it was too late, and she heard him laugh and say, as he finally freed her hands:
"There will be a punishment for that after dinner."
He said something to Jeanne and Andrée who had come in with him and were standing waiting on either side of the bed, after which he let. Andrée picked up the pillow, which was on the floor, and the blanket that Pierre had turned down toward the foot of the bed when he had come to whip O, while Jeanne wheeled, toward the head of the bed, a serving table which had been brought into the hallway and on which were coffee, milk, sugar, bread, croissants, and butter.
"Hurry up and eat," said Andrée. "It's nine o'clock. Afterward you can sleep till noon, and when you hear the bell it will be time to get ready for lunch. You'll bathe and fix your hair. I'll come to make you up and lace up your bodice."
"You won't be on duty till afternoon," Jeanne said. "In the library: you'll serve the coffee and liqueur and tend the fire."
"And what about you?" O said.
"We're only supposed to take care of you during the first twenty-four hours of your stay. After that you're on your own, and will have dealings only with the men. We won't be able to talk to you, and you won't be able to talk to us either.":
"Don't go," O said. "Stay a while longer and tell me..."
But she did not have time to finish her sentence. The door opened; it was her lover, and he was not alone. It was her lover, dressed the way he used to when he had just gotten out of bed and lighted the first cigarette of the day; in striped pajamas and a blue dressing gown, the wool robe with the padded silk lapels which they had picked out together a year before. And his slippers were worn, she would have to buy him another pair. The two women disappeared with no other sound except the rustling of silk as they lifted their skirts (all the skirts were a trifle long and trailed on the ground) - on the carpet the mules could not be heard.
O, who was holding a cup of coffee in her left hand and a croissant in the other, was seated cross-legged, or rather half-cross-legged, on the edge of the bed, one of her legs dangling and the other tucked up under her. She did not move, but her cup suddenly began to shake in her hand, and she dropped the croissant.
"Pick it up," René said. They were his first words.
She put the cup down on the table, picked up the partly eaten croissant, and put it beside the cup. A fat croissant crumb still lay on the rug, beside her bare foot. This time René bent down and picked it up. Then he sat down near O, pulled her back down onto the bed and kissed her. She asked him if he loved her. He answered: "Yes, I love you!" then got to his feet and made her stand up too, softly running the cool palms of his hands, then his lips, over the welts.
Since he had come in with her lover, O did not know whether or not she could look at the man who had entered with him and who, for the moment, had his back to them and was smoking a cigarette near the door. What followed was not of a nature to reassure her.
"Come over here so we can see you," her lover said, and having guided her to the foot of the bed, he pointed out to his companion that he had been right, and he thanked him, adding that it would only be fair for him to take O first if he so desired.
The unknown man, whom she still did not dare to look at, then asked her, after having run his hand over her breasts and down her buttocks, to spread her legs.
"Do as he says," said René, who was holding her up. He too was standing, and her back was against him. With his right hand he was caressing one breast, and his other was on her shoulder. The unknown man had sat down on the edge of the bed, he had seized and slowly parted, drawing the fleece, the lips which protected the entrance itself. René pushed her forward, as soon as he realized what was wanted from her, so that she would be more accessible, and his right arm slipped around her waist, giving him a better grip.
This caress, to which she never submitted without a struggled and which always filled her with shame, and from which she escaped as quickly as she could, so quickly in fact that she had scarcely had a chance to be touched, this caress which seemed a sacrilege to her, for she deemed it sacrilege for her lover to be on his knees, feeling that she should be on hers, she suddenly felt that she would not escape from it now, and she saw herself doomed. For she moaned when the alien lips, which were pressing upon the mound of flesh whence the inner corolla emanates, suddenly inflamed her, left her to allow the hot tip of the tongue to inflame her even more; she moaned even more when the lips began again: she felt the hidden point harden and rise, that point caught in a long, sucking bite between teeth and lips, which did not let go, a long soothing bite which made her gasp for breath. She lots her footing and found herself again lying on the bed, with René's mouth on her mouth; his two hands were pinning her shoulders to the bed, while two other hands beneath her knees were raising and opening her legs. Her own hands, which were beneath her back (for when René had propelled her toward the unknown man he had bound her wrists together by clipping the wristbands together), were grazed by the sex of the man who was caressing himself in the furrow of her buttocks before rising to strike hard into the depths of her belly. At the first stroke she cried out, as though it had been the lash of a whip, then again at each new stroke, and her lover bit her mouth. The man tore himself abruptly away from her and fell back on the floor, as though struck by lightning, and he too gave a cry.
René freed O's hands, lifted her up, and lay her down beneath the blanket on the bed. The man got up, René escorted him to the door. In a flash, O saw herself released, reduced to nothing, accursed. She had moaned beneath the lips of the stranger as never her lover had made her moan, cried out under the impact of a stranger's member as never her lover had made her cry out. She felt debased and guilty. She could not blame him if he were to leave her. But no, the door was closing again, he was staying with her, he was coming back, lying down beside her beneath the cover, he was slipping into her moist, hot belly and, still holding her in this embrace, he said to her:
"I love you. When I'll also have given you to the valets, I'll come in one night and have you flogged till you bleed."
The sun had broken through the mist and flooded the room. But only the midday bell woke them up.
O was at a loss what to do.
Her lover was there, as close, as tenderly relaxed and surrendered as he was in the bed in that low-ceilinged room to which, almost every night since they had begun living together, he came to sleep with her. It was a big, mahogany, English-style four-0poster bed, without the awning, and the posters at the head were taller than those at the foot. He always slept on her left, and whenever he awoke, even were it in the middle of the night, his hands inevitably reached down for her legs. This is why she never wore anything but a nightgown or, if she had on pajamas, never put on the bottoms. He did so now; she took that hand and kissed it, without ever daring to ask him for anything. But he spoke. Holding her by the collar, with two fingers slipped in between the neck and collar, he told her it was his intention that henceforth she should be shared by him and those of his choosing, and by those whom he did not know who were connected to the society of the château, shared as she had been the previous evening. That she was dependent on him, and on him alone, even though she might receive orders from persons other than himself, whether he was present or absent, for as a matter of principle he was participating in whatever might be demanded of or inflicted on her, and that it was he who possessed and enjoyed her through those into whose hands she had been given, by the simple fact that he had given her to them. She must greet them and submit to them with the same respect with which she greeted him, as though they were so many reflections of him. Thus he would possess her as a god possesses his creatures, whom he lays hold of in the guise of a monster or a bird, of an invisible spirit or a state of ecstasy. He did not wish to leave her. The more he surrendered her, the more he would hold her dear. The fact that he gave her was to him a proof, and ought to be one for her as well that she belonged to him: one can only give what belongs to you. He gave her only to reclaim her immediately, to reclaim her enriched in his eyes, like some common object which had been used for some divine purpose and has thus been consecrated. For a long time he had wanted to prostitute her, and he was delighted to feel that the pleasure he was deriving was even greater than he had hoped, and that it bound him to her all the more, as it bound her to him, all the more so because, through it, she would be more humiliated and ravaged. Since she loved him, she could not help loving whatever derived from him. O listened and trembled with happiness, because he loved her, all acquiescent she trembled. He doubtless guessed it, for he went on:
"It's because it's easy for you to consent that I want from you what it will be impossible for you to consent to, even if you agree ahead of time, even if you say yes now and imagine yourself capable of submitting. You won't be able not to revolt. Your submission will be obtained in spite of you, not only for the inimitable pleasure that I and others will derive from it, but also that you will be made aware of what has been done to you."
O was on the verge of saying that she was his slave and that she bore her bonds cheerfully. He stopped her.
"Yesterday you were told that as long as you are in the château you are not to look a man in the face of speak to him. The same applies to me as well: with me you shall remain silent and obey. I love you. Now get up. From now on the only times that you will open your mouth here in the presence of a man will be to cry out or to caress."
So O got up. René remained lying on the bed. She bathed and arranged her hair. The contact of her bruised loins with the tepid water made her shiver, and she had to sponge herself without rubbing to keep from reviving the burning pain. She made up her mouth but not her eyes, powdered herself and, still naked but with lowered eyes, came back into the room.
René was looking at Jeanne, who had come in and was standing at the head of the bed, she too with her head bowed, unspeaking. He told her to dress O. Jeanne took the bodice of green satin, the white petticoat, the dress, the green mules and having hooked up O's bodice in front, began to lace it up tight in the back. The bodice was long and stiff, stoutly whaleboned as during the period when wasp waists were in style, with gussets to support the breasts. The more the bodice was tightened, the more the breasts were lifted, supported as they were by the gussets, and the nipples displayed more prominently. At the same time, the constriction of the waist caused her stomach to protrude and her backside to arch out sharply. The strange thing was that this armor was very comfortable and to a certain extent restful. It made you stand up very straight, but it made you realize - why, it was hard to tell unless it was by contract - the freedom, or rather the unavailability, of that part of the body left unrestricted. The full skirt and the trapezoid-shaped neckline running from the base of the neck to the tips of the breasts and across the full length of the bosom seemed to the girl to be less a protective outfit than an instrument designed to provoke or present. When Jeanne had tied the laces in a double knot, O took her dress from the bed. It was a one-piece dress, with the petticoat attached to the skirt like a detachable lining, and the bodice, cross-laced in front and tied in the back, was thus able to follow more or less the delicate contours of her bosom, depending on how tightly the bodice was laced. Jeanne had laced it very tight, and through the open door O was able to see herself reflected in the mirror, slim and lost in the green satin which billowed at her hips, as a hoop skirt would have done. The two women were standing side by side. Jeanne reached out to smooth a wrinkle in the green dress, and her breasts stirred in the lace fringes of her bodice, breasts whose tips were long and the halos brown. Her dress was of yellow faille.