Ten days before the end of July, Sir Stephen drove O back to Paris. The irons attached to the left lobe of her belly cleft, proclaiming in bold letters that she was Sir Stephen's personal property, came about a third of the way down her thigh and, at every step, swung back and forth between her legs like the clapper of a bell, the inscribed disk being heavier and longer than the ring to which it was attached. The marks made by the branding iron, about three inches in height and half that in width, had been burned into the flesh as though by a gouging tool, and were almost half an inch deep: the lightest stroke of the finger revealed them. From these irons and these marks, O derived a feeling of inordinate pride. Had Jacqueline been there, instead of trying to conceal from her the fact that she bore them, as she had tried to hide the traces of the welts raised by the riding crop which Sir Stephen had wielded during those last days before her departure, she would have gone running in search of Jacqueline, to show them to her. But Jacqueline was not due back for another week. Rene? wasn't there. During that week, O, at Sir Stephen's behest, had several summer dresses made, and a number of evening gowns of a very light material. He allowed her only two models, but let her order variations on both: one with a zipper all the way down the front (O already had several like it), the other a full skirt, easy to lift, always with a corselet above, which came up to below the breasts and was worn with a high-necked bolero. All one had to do was remove the bolero and the shoulders and breasts were bare, or simply to open it if one desired to see the breasts. Bathing suits, of course, were out of the question; the nether irons would hang below the suit. Sir Stephen had told her that this summer she would have to swim naked whenever she went swimming. Beach slacks were also out. However, Anne-Marie, who was responsible for the two basic models of dresses, knowing where Sir Stephen's preference lay in using O, had proposed a type of slacks which would be supported in front by the blouse and, on both sides, have long zippers, thus allowing the back flap to be lowered without taking off the slacks. But Sir Stephen refused. It was true that he used O, when he did not have recourse to her mouth, almost invariably as he would have a boy. But O had had ample opportunity to notice that when she was near him, even when he did not particularly desire her, he loved to take hold of and tug at her fleece with his hand, to pry her open and burrow at length within. The pleasure O derived from holding Jacqueline in much the same way, moist and burning between her locked fingers, was ample evidence and a guarantee of Sir Stephen's pleasure. She understood why he did not want any extraneous obstacles set in the path of that pleasure.
Hatless, wearing practically no make-up, her hair completely free, O looked like a well-brought- up little girl, dressed as she was in her twirled stripe or polka dot, navy blue-and-white or gray- and-white pleated sun-skirts and the fitted bolero buttoned at the neck, or in her more conservative dresses of black nylon. Everywhere Sir Stephen escorted her she was taken for his daughter, or his niece, and this mistake was abetted by the fact that he, in addressing her, employed the tu form, wheras she employed the vous. Alone together in Paris, strolling through the streets to window shop, or walking along the quays, where the paving stones were dusty because the weather had been so dry, they evinced no surprise at seeing the passers-by smile at them, the way people smile at people who are happy.
Once in a while Sir Stephen would push her into the recess of a porte-cochere, or beneath the archway of a building, which was always slightly dark and from which there rose the musty odor of ancient cellars, and he would kiss her and tell her he loved her. O would hook her heels over the sill of the porte-cochere out of which the regular pedestrian door had been cut. They caught a glimpse of a courtyard in the rear, with lines of laundry drying in the windows. Leaning on one of the balconies, a blonde girl would be staring fixedly at them. A cat would slip between their legs. Thus did they stroll through the Gobeline district, by Saint-Marcel, along the rue Mouffetard, to the area known as the Temple, and to the Bastille.
Once Sir Stephen suddenly steered O into a wretched brothel-like hotel, where the desk clerk first wanted them to fill out the forms, but then said not to bother if it was only for an hour. The wallpaper in the room was blue, with enormous golden peonies, the window looked out onto a pit whence rose the odor of garbage cans. However weak the light bulb at the head of the bed, you could still see streaks of face powder and forgotten hairpins on the mantelpiece. On the ceiling above the bed was a large mirror.
Once, but only once, Sir Stephen invited O to lunch with two of his compatriots who were passing through Paris. He came for her an hour before she was ready, and instead of having her driven to his place, he came to the quai de Bethune.
O had finished bathing, but she had not done her hair or put on her make-up, and was not dressed. To her surprise, she saw that Sir Stephen was carrying a golf bag, though she saw no clubs in it. But she soon got over her surprise: Sir Stephen told her to open the bag. Inside were several leather riding crops, two fairly thick ones of red leather, two that were long and thin of black leather, a scourge with long lashes of green leather, each of which was folded back at the end to form a loop, a dog's whip made of a thick single lash whose handle was of braided leather and, last but not least, leather bracelets of the sort used at Roissy, plus some rope. O lad them outside by side on the unmade bed. No matter how accustomed she became to seeing them, no matter what resolutions she made about them, she could not keep from trembling. Sir Stephen took her in his arms.
"Which do you prefer, O?" he asked her.
But she could barely speak, and already could feel the sweat running down her arms.
"Which do you prefer?" he repeated. "All right," he said confronted by her silence, "first you're going to help me."
He asked for some nails, and having found a way to arrange them in a decorative manner, whips and riding crosses crossed, he showed O a panel of wainscoting between her mirror and the fireplace, opposite her bed, which would be ideal for them. He hammered some nails into the wood. There were rings on the ends of the handles of the whips and riding crops, by which they could be suspended from the nails, a system which allowed each whip to be easily taken down and returned to its place on the wall. Thus, together with the bracelets and the rope, O would have, opposite her bed, the complete array of her instruments of torture. It was a handsome panoply, as harmonious as the wheel and spikes in the painting of Saint Catherine, the martyr, as the nails and hammer, the crown of thorns, the spear and scourges portrayed in the paintings of the Crucifixion. When Jacqueline came back... but all this involved Jacqueline, involved her deeply. She would have to reply to Sir Stephen's question: O could not, he chose the dog whip himself.
In a tiny private dining room of the La Pe?rouse restaurant, along the quays of the Left Bank, a room on the third floor whose dark walls were brightened by Watteau-like figures in pastel colors who resembled actors of the puppet theater, O was ensconced alone on the sofa, with one of Sir Stephen's friends in an armchair to her right, another to her left, and Sir Stephen across from her. She remembered already having seen one of the men at Roissy, but she could not recall having been taken by him. The other was a tall red-haired boy with gray eyes, who could not have been more than twenty-five. In two words, Sir Stephen told them why he had invited O, and what she was. Listening to him, O was once again astonished at the coarseness of his language. But then, how did she expect to be referred to, if not as a whore, a girl who, in the presence of men (not to mention the restaurant waiters who kept trooping in and out, since luncheon was being served) would open her bodice to bare her breasts, the tips of which had been reddened with lipstick, as they could see, as they could also see from the purple furrows across her milk- white skin that she had been flogged?
The meal went on for a long time, and the two Englishmen drank a great deal. Over coffee, when the liqueurs had been served, Sir Stephen pushed the table back against the opposite wal and, after having lifted her skirt to show his friends how O was branded and in irons, left her to them.
The man she had met at Roissy wasted no time with her: without leaving his armchair, without even touching her with his fingertips, he ordered her to kneel down in front him, take him and caress his sex until he discharged in her mouth. After which, he made her straighten out his clothing, and then he left.
But the red-haired lad, who had been completely overwhelmed by O's submissiveness and meek surrender, by her irons and the welts which he had glimpsed on her body, took her by the hand instead of throwing himself upon her as she had expected, and descended the stairs, paying not the slightest heed to the sly smiles of the waiters and, after hailing a taxi, took her back to his hotel room. He did not let her go till nightfall, after having frantically plowed her fore and aft, both of which he bruised and belabored unmercifully, he being of an uncommon size and rigidity and, what is more being totally intoxicated by the sudden freedom granted him to penetrate a woman doubly and be embraced by her in the way he had seen ordered to a short while before (something he had never before dared ask of anyone).
The following day, when O arrived at Sir Stephen's at two o'clock in answer to his summons, she found him looking older and his face careworn.
"Eric has fallen head over heels in love with you, O," he told her. "This morning he called on me and begged me to grant you your freedom. He told me he wants to marry you. He wants to save you. You see how I treat you if you're mind, O, and if you are mine you have no right to refuse my commands; but you also know that you are always free to choose not to be mine. I told him so. He's coming back here at three."
O burst out laughing. "Isn't it a little late?" she said. "You're both quite mad. If Eric had not come by this morning, what would you have done with me this afternoon? We would have gone for a walk, nothing more? Then let's go for a walk. Or perhaps you would not have summoned me this afternoon? In that case I'll leave...."
"No," Sir Stephen broke in, "I would have called you, but not to go for a walk. I wanted..."
"Go on, say it."
"Come, it will be simpler to show you."
He got up and opened a door in the wall opposite to the fireplace, a door identical to the one in his office.
O had always thought that the door led into a closet which was no longer used. She saw a tiny bedroom, newly painted, and hung with dark red silk. Half of the room was occupied by a rounded stage flanked by two columns, identical to the stage in the music room at Samois.
"The walls and ceiling are lined with cork, are they not?" O said. "And the door is padded, and you've had a double window installed?"
Sir Stephen nodded.
"But since when has all this been done?" O said.
"Since you've been back."
"Why did I wait until today? Because I first wanted to hand you over to other men. Now I shall punish you for it. I've never punished you, O."
"But I belong to you," O said. "Punish me. When Eric comes..."
An hour later, when he was shown a grotesquely bound and spread-eagled O strapped to the two columns, the boy blanched, mumbled something and disappeared. O thought she would never see him again. She ran into him again at Roissy, at the end of September, and he had her consigned to him for three days in a row, during which he savagely abused and mistreated her.