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Confessions of Wanda von Sacher-Masoch Excerpt: Marie

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I had brought from Graz a young servant. Daughter of a country surgeon, she thought herself well-educated because she knew how to say Je vous baise la main. But she was not stupid, possessing a spirit as lively as her body was muscular. In her village she had been regarded as a beauty, and Leopold went so far as to say that there was something of the “Brunhild” in her. . .

. . . The evenings were already long. To pass the time, Leopold made us play at “brigands.” The brigands were myself and Marie, and we had to chase him. I had to lend Marie one of my furs and put on one myself, for without them we were not “convincing.” Then commenced a mad chase throughout the house until we had laid hands on our victim. Then it was necessary to tie him to a tree with ropes, and to decide his fate. He would be condemned to death, of course; we ignored his cries for mercy.

Up to that time it had only been a game, but one day Leopold gave it a more serious turn: he truly wanted to receive a punishment that would make him suffer. Since we could not murder him, he at least wanted to be beaten, and that with the help of ropes which he had prepared.

I refused to do this, but he did not yield. He found my refusal childish, and declared that if I would not beat him, he would have Marie beat him, because he could see in her eyes that she wanted to do it.

To avoid this, I gave him some light blows. This was not enough for him, and as I assured him that I was not able to hit harder, he said that he absolutely wanted to be beaten with the greatest possible force, and that Marie could probably do this better than I.

I left the room in order to put an end to the matter. But I was wrong. Marie beat him as he wanted to be beaten, with all her might—even in the next room I heard the sound of the blows on his back.

The minutes seemed like centuries to me. Finally the punishment stopped. He came in as if nothing had happened and said, “Well! She beat me magnificently! My back must be lashed and scarred—you have no idea of the strength that girl has in her arms. At each blow, I thought my flesh was going to be torn apart.”

I did not find this amusing, and kept silent. Seeing I was not in a mood for joking, he asked, “What’s the matter—is something bothering you?”

“It does not seem fitting that you should be beaten by the maid.”

“Look here—is there something bad in it? Ah—there is more here than meets the eye. How could I have known you would be jealous of a girl as unsophisticated as Marie?”

“It is not proper that the servant beat the master. It puts all three of us in a horribly uncomfortable position. And you need not rely on Marie to keep it to herself; as lively as she is, she will tell everyone she meets. What will they think of us?”

“But one can forbid her to talk!”

“You can no longer forbid anything to a girl who has beaten you. Besides, that would complicate matters even further. Marie must leave the house at once. Thus we will put an end to the scandal—here, at least.”

“You are right. I had not thought of all that. Yes, send her away as soon as possible. It would be better if she left this very evening.”

The next morning Marie took the first train for Graz. I replaced her with a person forty years old, completely bereft of charm.

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