O was fully cognizant of this, why did she pretend she was not? In a short while, and in any case prior to her return to Roissy, she would have to accept a definitive mar, which would not absolve her from the obligation of being a common-property slave, Sir Stephen's and the traces of the floggings on her body, or the marks raised by the riding crop, if indeed they were inflicted again, would be discreet and futile compared to this ultimate mark. (But what would the mark be, of what would it consist, in what way would it be definitive? O, terrified and fascinated, was dying to know, she had to know immediately. But it was obvious that Sir Stephen was not yet ready to explain it. And it was true that she had to accept, to consent in the real sense of the term, for
nothing would be inflicted upon her by force to which she had not already previously consented; she could refuse, nothing was keeping her enslaved except her love and her self-enslavement. What prevented her from leaving?) And yet, before this mark was imposed upon her, even before Sir Stephen became accustomed to flogging her, as had been decided by Rene? and himself, to flogging her in such a way that the traces were constantly visible, she would be granted a reprieve - the time required for her to make Jacqueline submit to her. Stunned, O raised her head and looked at Sir Stephen. Why? Why Jacqueline? And if Jacqueline interested Sir Stephen, why was it in relation to O?
"There are two reasons," Sir Stephen said. "The first, and least important, is that I would like to see you kiss and caress a woman."
"But even assuming she gives in to me," cried O, "how in the world do you expect me to make her consent to your being present?"
"That's the least of my worries," Sir Stephen said. "If necessary, by betrayal, and anyway, I'm counting on you for a great deal more than that, for the second reason why I want you to seduce her is that you're to be the bait that lures her to Roissy."
O set down the cup of coffee she was holding in her hand, shaking so violently that she spilled the viscous dregs of coffee and sugar at the bottom of the cup. Like a soothsayer, she saw unbearable images in the spreading brown stain on the tablecloth: Jacqueline's glazed eyes confronting the valet Pierre; her flanks, doubtless as golden as her breasts, though O had never seen them, exposed to view below the folds of her long red velvet dress with its tucked-up skirt; her downy cheeks stained with tears and her painted mouth open and screaming, and her straight hair, in a Dutch bob along her forehead, straight as new-mown hay - no, it was impossible, not her, not Jacqueline.
"No, it's out of the question," she said.
"Of course it's not," Sir Stephen retorted. "How do you think girls are recruited for Roissy? Once you have brought her there, the matter will be completely out of your hands, and anyway, if she wants to leave, she can leave. Come along now."
He had gotten suddenly to his feet, leaving the money for the bill on the table. O followed him to the car, climbed in, and sat down. Scarcely had they entered the Bois de Boulogne when he turned in to a side road, stopped the car in a narrow lane, and took her in his arms.