DELTA OF VENUS
[* Adapted from “The Diary of Anais Nin, Volume III”]
A book collector offered Henry Miller a hundred dollars a month to write erotic stories. It seemed like a Dantesque punishment to condemn Henry to write erotica at a dollar a page. He rebelled because his mood of the moment was the opposite of Rabelaisian, because writing to order was a castrating occupation, because to be writing with a voyeur at the keyhole took all the spontaneity and pleasure out of his fanciful adventures.
Henry told me about the collector. They sometimes had lunch together. He bought a manuscript from Henry and then suggested that he write something for one of his old and wealthy clients. He could not tell much about his client except that he was interested in erotica.
Henry started out gaily, jokingly. He invented wild stories which we laughed over. He entered into it as an experiment, and it seemed easy at first. But after a while it palled on him. He did not want to touch upon any of the material he planned to write about for his real work, so he was condemned to force his inventions and his mood.
He never received a word of acknowledgment from the strange patron. It could be natural that he would not want to disclose his identity. But Henry began to tease the collector. Did this patron really exist? Were these pages for the collector himself, to heighten his own melancholy life? Were they one and the same person? Henry and I discussed this at length, puzzled and amused.
At this point, the collector announced that his client was coming to New York and that Henry would meet him. But somehow this meeting never took place. The collector was lavish in his descriptions of how he sent the manuscripts by airmail, how much it cost, small details meant to add realism to the claims he made about his client's existence.
One day he wanted a copy of “Black Spring” with a dedication.
Henry said: "But I thought you told me he had all my books already, signed editions?"
"He lost his copy of “Black Spring”."
"Who should I dedicate it to?" said Henry innocently.
"Just say 'to a good friend,' and sign your name."
A few weeks later Henry needed a copy of “Black Spring” and none could be found. He decided to borrow the collector's copy. He went to the office. The secretary told him to wait. He began to look over the books in the bookcase. He saw a copy of “Black Spring”. He pulled it out. It was the one he had dedicated to the "Good Friend."
When the collector came in, Henry told him about this, laughing. In equally good humor, the collector explained: "Oh, yes, the old man got so impatient that I sent him my own copy while I was waiting to get this one signed by you, intending to exchange them later when he comes to New York again."
Henry said to me when we met, "I'm more baffled than ever."
When Henry asked what the patron's reaction to his writing was, the collector said: "Oh, he likes everything. It is all wonderful. But he likes it better when it is a narrative, just storytelling, no analysis, no philosophy."
When Henry needed money for his travel expenses he suggested that I do some writing in the interim. I felt I did not want to give anything genuine, and decided to create a mixture of stories I had heard and inventions, pretending they were from the diary of a woman. I never met the collector. He was to read my pages and to let me know what he thought. Today I received a telephone call. A voice said, "It is fine. But leave out the poetry and descriptions of anything but sex. Concentrate on sex."
So I began to write tongue-in-cheek, to become outlandish, inventive, and so exaggerated that I thought he would realize I was caricaturing sexuality. But there was no protest. I spent days in the library studying the “Kama Sutra”, listened to friends' most extreme adventures.
"Less poetry," said the voice over the telephone. "Be specific."
But did anyone ever experience pleasure from reading a clinical description? Didn't the old man know how words carry colors and sounds into the flesh?
Every morning after breakfast I sat down to write my allotment of erotica. One morning I typed: "There was a Hungarian adventurer ..." I gave him many advantages: beauty, elegance, grace, charm, the talents of an actor, knowledge of many tongues, a genius for intrigue, a genius for extricating himself from difficulties, and a genius for avoiding permanence and responsibility.
Another telephone call: "The old man is pleased. Concentrate on sex. Leave out the poetry."
This started an epidemic of erotic "journals." Everyone was writing up their sexual experiences. Invented, overheard, researched from Krafft-Ebing and medical books. We had comical conversations. We told a story and the rest of us had to decide whether it was true or false. Or plausible. Was this plausible? Robert Duncan would offer to experiment, to test our inventions, to confirm or negate our fantasies. All of us needed money, so we pooled our stories.
I was sure the old man knew nothing about the beatitudes, ecstasies, dazzling reverberations of sexual encounters. Cut out the poetry was his message. Clinical sex, deprived of all the warmth of love—the orchestration of all the senses, touch, hearing, sight, palate; all the euphoric accompaniments, background music, moods, atmosphere, variations—forced him to resort to literary aphrodisiacs.
We could have bottled better secrets to tell him, but such secrets he would be deaf to. But one day when he reached saturation, I would tell him how he almost made us lose interest in passion by his obsession with the gestures empty of their emotions, and how we reviled him, because he almost caused us to take vows of chastity, because what he wanted us to exclude was our own aphrodisiac—poetry.
I received one hundred dollars for my erotica. Gonzalo needed cash for the dentist, Helba needed a mirror for her dancing, and Henry money for his trip. Gonzalo told me the story of the Basque and Bijou and I wrote it down for the collector.
[February, 1941]The telephone bill was unpaid. The net of economic difficulties was closing in on me. Everyone around me irresponsible, unconscious of the shipwreck. I did thirty pages of erotica.
I again awakened to the consciousness of being without a cent and telephoned the collector. Had he heard from his rich client about the last manuscript I sent? No, he had not, but he would take the one I had just finished and pay me for it. Henry had to see a doctor. Gonzalo needed glasses. Robert came with B. and asked me for money to go to the movies. The soot from the transom window fell on my typing paper and on my work.
Robert came and took away my box of typing paper. Wasn't the old man tired of pornography? Wouldn't a miracle take place? I began to imagine him saying: "Give me everything she writes, I want it all, I like all of it. I will send her a big present, a big check for all the writing she has done."
My typewriter was broken. With a hundred dollars in my pocket I recovered my optimism. I said to Henry: "The collector says he likes simple, unintellectual women—but he invites me to dinner."
I had a feeling that Pandora's box contained the mysteries of woman's sensuality, so different from man's and for which man's language was inadequate. The language of sex had yet to be invented. The language of the senses was yet to be explored. D. H. Lawrence began to give instinct a language, he tried to escape the clinical, the scientific, which only captures what the body feels.
When Henry came he made sevetal contradictory statements. That he could live on nothing, that he felt so good he could even take a job, that his integrity prevented him from writing scenarios in Hollywood. At the last I said: "And what of the integrity of doing erotica for money?"
Henry laughed, admitted the paradox, the contradictions, laughed and dismissed the subject.
France has had a tradition of literary erotic writing, in fine, elegant style. When I first began to write for the collector I thought there was a similar tradition here, but found none at all. All I had seen was shoddy, written by second-rate writers. No fine writer seemed ever to have tried his hand at erotica.
I told George Barker how Caresse Crosby, Robert, Virginia Admiral and others were writing. It appealed to his sense of humor. The idea of my being the madam of this snobbish literary house of prostitution, from which vulgarity was excluded.
Laughing, I said: "I supply paper and carbon, I deliver the manuscript anonymously, I protect everyone's anonymity."
George Barker felt this was much more humorous and inspiring than begging, borrowing or cajoling meals out of friends.
I gathered poets around me and we all wrote beautiful erotica. As we were condemned to focus only on sensuality, we had violent explosions of poetry. Writing erotica became a road to sainthood rather than to debauchery.
Harvey Breit, Robert Duncan, George Barker, Caresse Crosby, all of us concentrating our skills in a tour de force, supplying the old man with such an abundance of perverse felicities, that now he begged for more.
The homosexuals wrote as if they were women. The timid ones wrote about orgies. The frigid ones about frenzied fulfillments. The most poetic ones indulged in pure bestiality and the purest ones in perversions. We were haunted by the marvelous tales we could not tell. We sat around, imagined this old man, talked of how much we hated him, because he would not allow us to make a fusion of sexuality and feeling, sensuality and emotion.
George Barker was terribly poor. He wanted to write more erotica. He wrote eighty-five pages. The collector thought they were too surrealistic. I loved them. His scenes of lovemaking were disheveled and fantastic. Love between trapezes.
He drank away the first money, and I could not lend him anything but more paper and carbons. George Barker, the excellent English poet, writing erotica to drink, just as Utrillo painted paintings in exchange for a bottle of wine. I began to think about the old man we all hated. I decided to write to him, address him directly, tell him about our feelings.
"Dear Collector: We hate you. Sex loses all its power and magic when it becomes explicit, mechanical, overdone, when it becomes a mechanistic obsession. It becomes a bore. You have taught us more than anyone I know how wrong it is not to mix it with emotion, hunger, desire, lust, whims, caprices, personalties, deeper relationships that change its color, flavor, rhythms, intensities.
"You do not know what you are missing by your microscopic examination of sexual activity to the exclusion of aspects which are the fuel that ignites it. Intellectual, imaginative, romantic, emotional. This is what gives sex its surprising textures, its subtle transformations, its aphrodisiac elements. You are shrinking your world of sensations. You are withering it, starving it, draining its blood.
"If you nourished your sexual life with all the excitements and adventures which love injects into sensuality, you would be the most potent man in the world. The source of sexual power is curiosity, passion. You are watching its little flame die of asphyxiation. Sex does not thrive on monotony. Without feeling, inventions, moods, no surprises in bed. Sex must be mixed with tears, laughter, words, promises, scenes, jealousy, envy, all the spices of fear, foreign travel, new faces, novels, stories, dreams, fantasies, music, dancing, opium, wine.
"How much do you lose by this periscope at the tip of your sex, when you could enjoy a harem of distinct and never repeated wonders? No two hairs alike, but you will not let us waste words on a description of hair; no two odors, but if we expand on this you cry Cut the poetry. No two skins with the same texture, and never the same light, temperature, shadows, never the same gesture; for a lover, when he is aroused by true love, can run the gamut of centuries of love lore. What a range, what changes of age, what variations of maturity and innocence, perversity and art . . .
"We have sat around for hours and wondered how you look. If you have closed your senses upon silk, light, color, odor, character, temperament, you must be by now completely shriveled up. There are so many minor senses, all running like tributaries into the mainstream of sex, nourishing it. Only the united beat of sex and heart together can create ecstasy."
At the time we were all writing erotica at a dollar a page, I realized that for centuries we had had only one model for this literary genre—the writing of men. I was already conscious of a difference between the masculine and feminine treatment of sexual experience. I knew that there was a great disparity between Henry Miller's explicitness and my ambiguities—between his humorous, Rabelaisian view of sex and my poetic descriptions of sexual relationships in the unpublished portions of the diary. As I wrote in Volume Three of the “Diary”, I had a feeling that Pandora's box contained the mysteries of woman's sensuality, so different from man's and for which man's language was inadequate.
Women, I thought, were more apt to fuse sex with emotion, with love, and to single out one man rather than be promiscuous. This became apparent to me as I wrote the novels and the “Diary”, and I saw it even more clearly when I began to teach. But although women's attitude towards sex was quite distinct from that of men, we had not yet learned how to write about it.
Here in the erotica I was writing to entertain, under pressure from a client who wanted me to "leave out the poetry." I believed that my style was derived from a reading of men's works. For this reason I long felt that I had compromised my feminine self. I put the erotica aside. Rereading it these many years later, I see that my own voice was not completely suppressed. In numerous passages I was intuitively using a woman's language, seeing sexual experience from a woman's point of view. I finally decided to release the erotica for publication because it shows the beginning efforts of a woman in a world that had been the domain of men.
If the unexpurgated version of the “Diary” is ever published, this feminine point of view will be established more clearly. It will show that women (and I, in the “Diary”) have never separated sex from feeling, from love of the whole man.
“The Hungarian Adventurer”
There was a Hungarian adventurer who had astonishing beauty, infallible charm, grace, the powers of a trained actor, culture, knowledge of many tongues, aristocratic manners. Beneath all this was a genius for intrigue, for slipping out of difficulties, for moving smoothly in and out of countries.
He traveled in grandiose style, with fifteen trunks of the finest clothes, with two great Danes. His air of authority had earned him the nickname the Baron. The Baron was seen in the most luxurious hotels, at watering places and horse races, on world tours, excursions to Egypt, trips through the desert, into Africa.
Everywhere he became the center of attraction for women. Like the most versatile of actors, he passed from one role to an other to please the taste of each of them. He was the most elegant dancer, the most vivacious dinner partner, the most decadent of entertainers in tête-à-têtes; he could sail a boat, ride, drive. He knew each city as though he had lived there all his life. He knew everyone in society. He was indispensable.
When he needed money he married a rich woman, plundered her and left for another country. Most of the time the women did not rebel or complain to the police. The few weeks or months they had enjoyed him as a husband left a sensation that was stronger than the shock of losing their money. For a moment they had known what it was to live with strong wings, to fly above the heads of mediocrity.
He took them so high, whirled them so fast in his series of enchantments, that his departure still had something of the flight. It seemed almost natural—no partner could follow his great eagle sweeps.
The free, uncapturable adventurer, jumping thus from one golden branch to another, almost fell into a trap, a trap of human love, when one night he met the Brazilian dancer Anita at a Peruvian theatre. Her elongated eyes did not close as other women's eyes did, but like the eyes of tigers, pumas and leop ards, the two lids meeting lazily and slowly; and they seemed slightly sewn together towards the nose, making them narrow, with a lascivious, oblique glance falling from them like the glance of a woman who does not want to see what is being done to her body. All this gave her an air of being made love to, which aroused the Baron as soon as he met her.
When he went backstage to see her, she was dressing among a profusion of flowers; and for the delight of her admirers who sat around her, she was rouging her sex with her lipstick without permitting them to make a single gesture towards her.
When the Baron came in she merely lifted her head and smiled at him. She had one foot on a little table, her elaborate Brazilian dress was lifted, and with her jeweled hands she took up rouging her sex again, laughing at the excitement of the men around her.
Her sex was like a giant hothouse flower, larger than any the Baron had seen, and the hair around it abundant and curled, glossy black. It was these lips that she rouged as if they were a mouth, very elaborately so that they became like blood-red camellias, opened by force, showing the closed interior bud, a paler, fine-skinned core of the flower.
The Baron could not persuade her to have supper with him. Her appearance onstage was only the prelude to her work at the theatre. Now followed the performance for which she was famed all through South America, when the boxes in the theatre, deep, dark and half-curtained, filled with society men from all over the world. Women were not brought to this high-class burlesque.
She had dressed herself all over again in the full-petticoated costume she wore onstage for her Brazilian songs, but she wore no shawl. Her dress was strapless, and her rich, abundant breasts, compressed by the tight-waisted costume, bulged upwards, offering themselves almost in their entirety to the eye.
In this costume, while the rest of the show continued, she made her round of the boxes. There, on request, she knelt before a man, unbuttoned his pants, took his penis in her jeweled hands, and with a neatness of touch, an expertness, a subtlety few women had ever developed, sucked at it until he was satisfied. Her two hands were as active as her mouth.
The titillation almost deprived each man of his senses. The elasticity of her hands; the variety of rhythms; the change from a hand grip of the entire penis to the lightest touch of the tip of it, from firm kneading of all the parts to the lightest teasing of the hair around it—all this by an exceptionally beautiful and voluptuous woman while the attention of the public was turned towards the stage. Seeing the penis go into her magnificent mouth between her flashing teeth, while her breasts heaved, gave men a pleasure for which they paid generously.
Her presence on the stage prepared them for her appearance in the boxes. She provoked them with her mouth, her eyes, her breasts. And to have their satisfaction, along with music and lights and singing in a dark, half-curtained box above the audience, was an exceptionally piquant form of amusement.
The Baron almost fell in love with Anita and stayed with her for a longer time than with any woman. She fell in love with him and bore him two children.
But after a few years he was off again. The habit was too strong; the habit of freedom and change.
He traveled to Rome and took a suite at the Grand Hotel. The suite happened to be next to that of the Spanish Ambassador, who was staying there with his wife and two small daughters. The Baron charmed them, too. The Ambassador's wife admired him. They became so friendly and he was so delightful with the children, who did not know how to amuse themselves in this hotel, that soon it became a habit of the two little girls, upon getting up in the morning, to go and visit the Baron and awaken him with laughter and teasing, which they were not permitted to lavish upon their more solemn father and mother.
One little girl was about ten, the other twelve. They were both beautiful, with huge velvet-black eyes, long silky hair and golden skin. They wore short white dresses and short white socks. Shrieking, the two little girls would run into the Baron's room and playfully throw themselves over his big bed. He would tease them, fondle them.
Now the Baron, like many men, always awakened with a peculiarly sensitive condition of the penis. In fact, he was in a most vulnerable state. He had no time to rise and calm the condition by urinating. Before he could do this the two little girls had run across the shining floor and thrown themselves over him, and over his prominent penis, which the big pale blue quilt somewhat concealed.
The little girls did not mind how their skirts flew upward and their slender dancer's legs got tangled and fell over his penis lying straight in the quilt. Laughing, they turned over on him, sat on him, treated him like a horse, sat astride him and pushed down on him, urging him to swing the bed by a motion of his body. With all this, they would kiss him, pull at his hair, and have childish conversations. The Baron's delight in being so treated would grow into excruciating suspense.
One of the girls was lying on her stomach, and all he had to do was to move a little against her to reach his pleasure. So he did this playfully, as if he meant to finally push her off the bed. He said, "I am sure you will fall off if I push this way."
"I won't fall off," said the little girl, holding on to him through the covers while he moved as if he would force her to roll over the side of the bed. Laughing, he pushed her body up, but she lay close to him, her little legs, her little panties, everything, rubbing against him in her effort not to slide off, and he continued his antics while they laughed. Then the second girl, wishing to even the strength of the game, sat astride him in front of the other one, and now he could move even more wildly with the weight of both on him. His penis, hidden in the thick quilt, rose over and over again between the little legs, and it was like this that he came, with a strength he had rarely known, surrendering the battle, which the girls had won in a manner they never suspected.
Another time when they came to play with him he put his hands under the quilt. Then he raised the quilt with his forefinger and dared them to catch it. So with great eagerness, they began to chase the finger, which disappeared and reappeared in different parts of the bed, catching it firmly in their hands. After a moment it was not the finger but the penis they caught over and over again, and seeking to extricate it, he made them grasp it more strongly than ever. He would disappear under the covers completely, and taking his penis in his hand suddenly thrust it upward for them to catch.
He pretended to be an animal, sought to catch and bite them, sometimes quite near where he wanted to, and they took great delight in this. With the "animal" they also played hide-and-seek. The "animal" was to spring at them from some hidden corner. He hid in the closet on the floor and covered himself with clothes. One of the little girls opened the closet. He could see under her dress; he caught her and bit her playfully on the thighs.
So heated were the games, so great were the confusion of the battle and the abandon of the little girls at play, that very often his hand went everywhere he wanted it to go.
Eventually the Baron moved on again, but his high trapeze leaps from fortune to fortune deteriorated when his sexual quest became stronger than his quest for money and power. It seemed as though the strength of his desire for women was no longer under control. He was eager to rid himself of his wives, so as to pursue his search for sensation throughout the world.
One day he heard that the Brazilian dancer he had loved had died of an overdose of opium. Their two daughters were grown to the ages of fifteen and sixteen and wanted their father to take care of them. He sent for them. He was then living in New York with a wife by whom he had had a son. The woman was not happy at the thought of his daughters' arrival. She was jealous for her son, who was only fourteen. After all his expeditions, the Baron now wanted a home and a rest from difficulties and pretenses. He had a woman he rather liked and three children. The idea of meeting his daughters again interested him. He received them with great demonstrations of affection. One was beautiful, the other, less so but piquant. They had been brought up to witness their mother's life and were not restrained or prudish.
The beauty of their father impressed them. He, on the other hand, was reminded of his games with the two little girls in Rome, only his daughters were a little older, and it added a great attraction to the situation.
They were given a large bed for themselves, and later, when they were still talking of their voyage and of meeting their father again, he came into the room to bid them goodnight. He stretched out at their side and kissed them. They returned his kisses. But as he kissed them, he slipped his hands along their bodies, which he could feel through their nightgowns.
The caresses pleased them. He said, "How beautiful you are, both of you. I am so proud of you. I cannot let you sleep alone. It is such a long time since I have seen you."
Holding them in a fatherly way, with their heads on his chest, caressing them protectively, he let them fall asleep, one on each side of him. Their young bodies, with their small breasts barely formed, affected him so that he did not sleep. He fondled one and then the other, with catlike movements, so as not to disturb them, but after a moment his desire was so violent that he awakened one and began to force himself on her. The other did not escape either. They resisted and wept a little, but they had seen so much of this during their life with their mother that they did not rebel.
But this was not to be an ordinary case of incest, for the Baron's sexual fury was increasing and had become an obsession. Being satisfied did not free him, calm him. It was like an irritant. From his daughters he would go to his wife and take her.
He was afraid his daughters would abandon him, run away, so he spied on them and practically imprisoned them.
His wife discovered this and made violent scenes. But the Baron was like a madman now. He no longer cared about his dressing, his elegance, his adventures, his fortune. He stayed at home and thought only of the moment when he could take his daughters together. He had taught them all the caresses imaginable. They learned to kiss each other in his presence until he was excited enough to possess them.
But his obsession, his excesses, began to weigh on them. His wife deserted him.
One night when he had taken leave of his daughters, he wandered through the apartment, still a prey to desire, to erotic fevers and fantasies. He had exhausted the girls. They had fallen asleep. And now his desire was tormenting him again. He was blinded by it. He opened the door to his son's room. His son was calmly sleeping, lying on his back, with his mouth slightly open, The Baron watched him, fascinated. His hard penis continued to torment him. He fetched a stool and placed it near the bed. He kneeled on it and he put his penis to his son's mouth. The son awakened choking and struck at him. The girls also awakened.
Their rebellion against their father's folly mounted, and they abandoned the now frenzied, aging Baron.
Mathilde was a hat maker in Paris and barely twenty when she was seduced by the Baron. Although the affair did not last more than two weeks, somehow in that short time she became, by contagion, imbued with his philosophy of life and his sevenleagued way of solving problems. She was intrigued by something the Baron had told her casually one night: that Parisian women were highly prized in South America because of their expertness in matters of love, their vivaciousness and wit, which was quite a contrast to many of the South American wives, who still cherished a tradition of self-effacement and obedience, which diluted their personalities and was due, possibly, to men's reluctance to make mistresses out of their wives.
Like the Baron, Mathilde developed a formula for acting out life as a series of roles—that is, by saying to herself in the morning while brushing her blond hair, "Today I want to become this or that person," and then proceeding to be that person.
One day she decided she would like to be an elegant representative of a well-known Parisian modiste and go to Peru. All she had to do was to act the role. So she dressed with care, presented herself with extraordinary assurance at the house of the modiste, was engaged to be her representative and given a boat ticket to Lima.
Aboard ship, she behaved like a French missionary of elegance. Her innate talent for recognizing good wines, good perfumes, good dressmaking, marked her as a lady of refinement. Her palate was that of a gourmet.
Mathilde had piquant charms to enhance this role. She laughed perpetually, no matter what happened to her. When a valise was mislaid, she laughed. When her toe was stepped on, she laughed.
It was her laugh that attracted the Spanish Line representative, Dalvedo, who invited her to sit at the captain's table. Dalvedo looked suave in his evening suit, carried himself like a captain, and had many anecdotes to share. The next night he took her to a dance. He was fully aware that the trip was not long enough for the usual courtship. So he immediately began to court the little mole on Mathilde's chin. At midnight he asked if she liked cactus figs. She had never tasted them. He said that he had some in his cabin.
But Mathilde wanted to heighten her value by resistance, and she was on her guard when they entered the cabin. She had easily rebuffed the audacious hands of the men she brushed against when marketing, the sly buttock pats by the husbands of her clients, the pinching of her nipples by male friends who invited her to the movies. None of this stirred her. She had a vague but tenacious idea of what could stir her. She wanted to be courted with mysterious language. This had been determined by her first adventure, as a girl of sixteen.
A writer, who was a celebrity in Paris, had entered her shop one day. He was not looking for a hat. He asked if she sold luminous flowers that he had heard about, flowers which shone in the dark. He wanted them, he said, for a woman who shone in the dark. He could swear that when he took her to the theatre and she sat back in the dark loges in her evening dress, her skin was as luminous as the finest of sea shells, with a pale pink glow to it. And he wanted these flowers for her to wear in her hair.
Mathilde did not have them. But as soon as the man left she went to look at herself in the mirror. This was the kind of feeling she wanted to inspire. Could she? Her glow was not of that nature. She was much more like fire than light. Her eyes were ardent, violet in color. Her hair was dyed blond but it shed a copper shadow around her. Her skin was copper-toned, too, firm and not at all transparent. Her body filled her dresses tightly, richly. She did not wear a corset, but her body had the shape of the women who did. She arched so as to throw the breasts forward and the buttocks high.
The man had come back. But this time he was not asking for anything to buy. He stood looking at her, his long finely carved face smiling, his elegant gestures making a ritual out of lighting a cigarette, and said, "This time I came back just to see you."
Mathilde's heart beat so swiftly that she felt as if this were the moment she had expected for years. She almost stood up on her toes to hear the rest of his words. She felt as if she were the luminous woman sitting back in the dark box receiving the unusual flowers. But what the polished gray-haired writer said in his aristocratic voice was, "As soon as I saw you, I was stiff in my pants."
The crudity of the words was like an insult. She reddened and struck at him.
This scene was repeated on several occasions. Mathilde found that when she appeared, men were usually speechless, deprived of all inclination for romantic courtship. Such words as these fell from them each time at the mere sight of her. Her effect was so direct that all they could express was their physical disturbance. Instead of accepting this as a tribute, she resented it.
Now she was in the cabin of the smooth Spaniard, Dalvedo. Dalvedo was peeling some cactus figs for her, and talking. Mathilde was regaining confidence. She sat on the arm of a chair in her red velvet evening dress.
But the peeling of the figs was interrupted. Dalvedo rose and said, "You have the most seductive little mole on your chin." She thought that he would try to kiss her. But he didn't. He unbuttoned himself quickly, took his penis out and, with the gesture of an apache to a woman of the streets, said, "Kneel."
And Mathilde again struck, then moved towards the door.
"Don't go," he begged, "you drive me crazy. Look at the state you put me in. I was like this all evening when I danced with you. You can't leave me now."
He tried to embrace her. As she struggled to elude him, he came all over her dress. She had to cover herself with her evening cape to regain her cabin.
As soon as Mathilde arrived in Lima, however, she attained her dream. Men approached her with flowery words, disguising their intent with great charm and adornments. This prelude to the sexual act satisfied her. She liked a little incense. In Lima she received much of it, it was a part of the ritual. She was raised on a pedestal of poetry so that her falling into the final embrace might seem more of a miracle. She sold many more of her nights than hats.
Lima at that time was strongly influenced by its large Chinese population. Opium-smoking was prevalent. Rich young men traveled in bands from bordello to bordello, or they spent their nights in the opium dens, where prostitutes were available, or they rented absolutely bare rooms in the prostitute quarters, where they could take drugs in groups, and the prostitutes visited them there.
The young men liked to visit Mathilde. She turned her shop into a boudoir, full of chaise longues, lace and satin, curtains, and pillows. Martinez, a Peruvian aristocrat, initiated her to opium. He brought his friends there to smoke. At times they spent two or three days lost to the world, to their families. The curtains were kept closed. The atmosphere was dark, slumberous. They shared Mathilde among them. The opium made them more voluptuous than sensual. They could spend hours caressing her legs. One of them would take one of her breasts, another would sink his kisses into the soft flesh of her neck, pressing her with the lips only, because the opium heightened every sensation. A kiss could throw shivers throughout her body.
Mathilde would lie naked on the floor. All the movements were slow. The three or four young men lay back among the pillows. Lazily one finger would seek her sex, enter it, lie there between the lips of the vulva, not moving. Another hand would seek it out too, content itself with circles around the sex, seek another orifice.
One man would offer his penis to her mouth. She would suckle at it very slowly, every touch magnified by the drug.
Then for hours they might lie still, dreaming.
Erotic images would form again. Martinez saw the body of a woman, distended, headless, a woman with the breasts of a Balinese woman, the belly of an African woman, the high buttocks of a Negress; all this confounded itself into an image of a mobile flesh, a flesh that seemed to be made of elastic. The taut breasts would swell towards his mouth, and his hand would extend towards them, but then other parts of the body would stretch, become prominent, hang over his own body. The legs would part in an inhuman, impossible way, as if they were severed from the woman, to leave the sex exposed, open, as if one had taken a tulip in the hand and opened it completely by force.
This sex was also mobile, moving like rubber, as if invisible hands stretched it, curious hands that wanted to dismember the body to get at the interior of it. Then the ass would be turned fully towards him and begin to lose its shape, as if drawn apart. Every movement tended to open the body completely until it would tear. Martinez was taken with a fury because other hands were handling this body. He would half sit up and seek Mathilde's breast, and if he found a hand on it, or a mouth suckling it, he would seek her belly, as if it were still the image that haunted his opium dream, and then fall lower upon her body so that he could kiss her between parted legs.
Mathilde's pleasure in caressing the men was so immense, and their hands passed over her body and fondled her so completely, so continuously, that she rarely had an orgasm. She would only become aware of this fact after the men had left. She awakened from her opium dreams with her body still restless.
She would lie filing her nails and covering them with lacquer, doing her refined toilette for future occasions, brushing her blond hair. Sitting in the sun, using little cotton wads of peroxide, she dyed her pubic hair to match.
Left to herself, memories of the hands over her body haunted her. Now she felt one under her arm, sliding down to her waist. She remembered Martinez, his way of opening the sex like a bud, the flicks of his quick tongue covering the distance from the pubic hair to the buttocks, ending on the dimple at the end of her spine. How he loved this dimple, which led his fingers and his tongue to follow the downwards curve and vanish between the two full mounts of flesh.
Thinking of Martinez, Mathilde would feel passionate. And she could not wait for his return. She looked down at her legs. From living so much indoors they had become white, very alluring, like the chalk-white complexion of the Chinese women, the morbid hothouse paleness that men, and particularly the darkskinned Peruvians, loved. She looked at her belly, without fault, without a single line that should not be there. The pubic hair
shone red-gold now in the sun.
"How do I look to him?" she asked herself. She got up and brought a long mirror towards the window. She stood it on the floor against a chair. Then she sat down in front of it on the rug and, facing it, slowly opened her legs. The sight was enchanting. The skin was flawless, the vulva, roseate and full. She thought it was like the gum plant leaf with its secret milk that the pressure of the finger could bring out, the odorous moisture that came like the moisture of the sea shells. So was Venus born of the sea with this little kernel of salty honey in her, which only caresses could bring out of the hidden recesses of her body.
Mathilde wondered if she could bring it out of its mysterious core ith her fingers she opened the two little lips of the vulva, and she began stroking it with catlike softness. Back and forth she stroked it as Martinez did with his more nervous dark fingers. She remembered his dark fingers on her skin, such a contrast to her skin, and the thickness of them seeming to promise to hurt the skin rather than arouse pleasure by their touch. How delicately he touched it, she thought, how he held the vulva between his fingers, as if he were touching velvet. She held it now as he did, in her forefinger and thumb. With the other free hand she continued the caresses. She felt the same dissolving feeling that she felt under Martinez's fingers. From somewhere a salty liquid was coming, covering the wings of her sex; between these it now shone.
Then Mathilde wanted to know how she looked when Martinez told her to turn over. She lay on her left side and exposed her ass to the mirror. She could see her sex now from another side. She moved as she moved for Martinez. She saw her own hand appear over the little hill formed by the ass, which she began to stroke. Her other hand went between her legs and showed in the mirror from behind. This hand stroked her sex back and forth. Then a forefinger was inserted and she began to rub against it. Now she was taken with the desire to be taken from both sides, and she inserted her other forefinger into the ass hole. Now when she moved forwards she felt her finger in the front, and when she lurched back she felt the other finger, as she sometimes felt Martinez and a friend when they both caressed her at once. The approach of the orgasm excited her, she went into convulsive gestures, as if to pull away the ultimate fruit from a branch, pulling, pulling at the branch to bring down everything into a wild orgasm, which came while she watched herself in the mirror, seeing the hands move, the honey shining, the whole sex and ass shining wet between the legs.
After seeing her movements in the mirror she understood the story told to her by a sailor—how the sailors on his ship had made a rubber woman for themselves to while away the time and satisfy the desires they felt during their six or seven months at sea. The woman had been beautifully made and gave them a perfect illusion. The sailors loved her. They took her to bed with them. She was made so that each aperture could satisfy them. She had the quality that an old Indian had once attributed to his young wife: Soon after their marriage, his wife was the mistress of every young man in the hacienda. The master called the old Indian to inform him of the scandalous conduct of his young wife and advised him to watch over her better. The Indian shook his head skeptically and answered: "Well, I don't see why I should worry my head so much. My wife is not made of soap, she will not wear out."
So it was with the woman made of rubber. The sailors found her untiring and yielding—truly a marvelous companion. There were no jealousies, no fights between them, no possessiveness. The rubber woman was very much loved. But in spite of her innocence, her pliant good nature, her generosity, her silence, in spite of her faithfulness to her sailors, she gave them all syphilis.
Mathilde laughed as she remembered the young Peruvian sailor who had told her this story, how he had described lying over her as if she were an air mattress, and how she made him bounce off her sometimes by sheer resilience. Mathilde felt exactly like this rubber woman when she took opium. How pleasurable was the feeling of utter abandon! Her only occupation was to count the money that her friends left her.
One of them, Antonio, did not seem content with the luxury of her room. He was always begging her to visit him. He was a prizefighter and looked like the man who knows how to make women work for his living. He had at once the necessary elegance to make women proud of him, a groomed air of the man of leisure and a suave manner that, one felt, could turn to violence at the necessary moment. And in his eyes he had the look of the cat who inspires a desire to caress but loves no one, who never feels he must respond to the impulses he arouses.
He had a mistress who matched him well, who was equal to his strength and vigor, able to take blows lustily; a woman who wore her femaleness with honor and who did not demand pity from men; a real woman who knew that a vigorous fight was a marvelous stimulant to the blood (pity only dilutes the blood) and that the best reconciliations could come only after combat. She knew that when Antonio was not with her he was at the Frenchwoman's taking opium, but she did not mind that as much as not knowing where he was at all.
Today he had just finished brushing his mustache with satisfaction and was preparing himself for an opium feast. To placate his mistress he started to pinch and pat her buttocks. She was an unusual-looking woman with some African blood in her. Her breasts were higher than any woman's he had ever seen, placed almost parallel with the shoulder line, and they were absolutely round and big. It was these breasts which had first attracted him. Their being placed so provocatively, so near the mouth, pointing upwards, somehow awakened in him a direct response. It was as if his sex had a peculiar affinity with these breasts, and as soon as they showed themselves in the whorehouse where he had found her, his sex raised itself to challenge them on equal terms.
Every time he had gone into the whorehouse, he experienced the same condition. He finally took the woman out of the house and lived with her. At first he could only make love to her breasts. They haunted him, obsessed him. When he inserted his penis into her mouth they seemed to be pointing hungrily towards it, and he would rest it between her breasts, holding them against the penis with his hands. The nipples were large and would harden like a fruit pit in his mouth.
Aroused by his caresses, she was left with the lower half of her body completely disregarded. Her legs would shake, begging violence, the sex would open, but he gave no attention to it. He filled his mouth with her breasts and rested his penis there; he liked to see the sperm spraying them. The rest of her body would writhe in space, legs and sex curling like a leaf at each caress, beating the air, and finally she would put her own hands there and masturbate.
This morning as he was about to leave, he repeated his caresses. He bit into her breasts. She offered her sex to him but he would not have it. He made her kneel before him and take his penis into her mouth. She rubbed her breasts against him. Sometimes this made her come. Then he went out and walked leisurely to Mathilde's place. He found the door partially open. He walked in with his catlike steps, which made no sound on the carpet. He found Mathilde lying on the floor in front of a mirror. She was on her hands and knees and looking between her legs at the mirror.
He said, "Don't move, Mathilde. That's a pose I love."
He crouched over her like a giant cat, and his penis went into her. He gave Mathilde what he would not give his mistress. His weight finally made her sink down and sprawl on the rug. He raised her ass with his two hands and fell on her again and again. His penis seemed made of hot iron. It was long and narrow, and he moved it in all directions, and leaped inside of her with an agility she had never known. He quickened his gestures even more and said hoarsely, "Come now, come now, come, I tell you. Give it all to me, now. Give it to me. Like you never did before. Give yourself now." At these words she began to fling herself against him, furiously, and the orgasm came like lightning striking them together.
The others found them still entangled on the rug. They laughed at seeing the mirror which had witnessed the embrace. They began to prepare their opium pipes. Mathilde was languid. Martinez began his dream of distended, open-sexed women. Antonio retained his erection and asked Mathilde to sit over him, which she did.
When this opium feast was over and all but Antonio had gone, he repeated his request that she accompany him to his special den. Mathilde's womb still burned from his plowing and churnings, and she yielded, for she wanted to be with him and to repeat this embrace.
They walked in silence through the little streets of Chinatown. Women from all over the world smiled at them from open windows, stood on the doorsteps inviting them in. Some of the rooms were exposed to the street. Only a curtain concealed the beds. One could see couples embracing. There were Syrian women wearing their native costume, Arabian women with jewelry covering their half-naked bodies, Japanese and Chinese women beckoning slyly, big African women squatting in circles, chatting together. One house was filled with French whores wearing short pink chemises and knitting and sewing as if they were at home. They always hailed the passers-by with promises of specialities.
The houses were small, dimly lit, dusty, foggy with smoke, filled with dusky voices, the murmurs of drunkards, of lovemaking. The Chinese adorned the setting and made it more confused with screens and curtains, lanterns, burning incense, Buddhas of gold. It was a maze of jewels, paper flowers, silk hangings, and rugs, with women as varied as the designs and colors, inviting men who passed by to sleep with them.
It was in this quarter that Antonio had a room. He took Mathilde up the shabby stairway, opened a door that was almost worn away, and pushed her in. There was no furniture in it. On the floor there was a Chinese mat, and on this lay a man in rags, a man so gaunt, so diseased-looking, that Mathilde drew back.
"Oh, you're here," said Antonio rather irritably.
"I had nowhere to go."
"You can't stay here you know. The police are after you."
"Yes, I know."
"I suppose you're the one who stole that cocaine the other day? I knew it must be you."
"Yes," the man talked sleepily, indifferently.
Then Mathilde saw that his body was covered with cratches and small wounds. The man made an effort to sit up.
He held an ampoule in one hand, in the other hand, a fountain pen and a penknife.
She watched him with horror.
He broke the top of the ampoule with his finger, shaking the broken bits. Then, instead of inserting a hypodermic syringe, he inserted the fountain pen and drew the liquid out.
With his penknife he made a slit in his arm that was already covered with old wounds and more recent ones, and in this slit he inserted the fountain pen and pushed the cocaine into his flesh.
"He's too poor to get an injection needle," said Antonio. "And I did not give money to him because I thought I could save him from stealing it. But that's what he has found to do."
Mathilde wanted to go. But Antonio would not let her. He wanted her to take cocaine with him. The man was lying back with his eyes closed. Antonio took out a needle and gave Mathilde an injection.
They lay on the floor and she was taken with an overpowering numbness. Antonio said to her, "You feel dead, don't you?" It was as if she had been given ether. His voice seemed to come from so far. She motioned to him that she felt as if she were fainting. He said, "It will pass."
There began a nightmarish dream. Far away there was the figure of the prostrate man, lying back on the mat, then the figure of Antonio, very large and black. Antonio took the penknife and bent over Mathilde. She felt his penis inside of her, and it was soft and pleasurable, she moved in a slow, relaxed, wavering gesture. The penis was taken out. She felt it swinging out over the silky moisture between her legs, but she had not been satisfied and she was making a gesture as if to retrieve it. Next in the nightmare Antonio held the penknife open and he bent over her parted legs, and he touched her with the tip of it, pushed it slightly in. Mathilde felt no pain, no energy to move, she was hypnotized by this open knife. Then she became wildly conscious of what was happening—that it was not a nightmare. Antonio was watching the penknife tip touching the entrance of her sex. She screamed. The door opened. It was the police, who had come to fetch the cocaine thief.
Mathilde was rescued from the man who had so often slashed at the sexual opening of the whores, and who for this reason would never touch his mistress there. He had been safe only when he lived with her, when the provocativeness of her breasts kept his attention diverted from the sex, the morbid attraction to what he called "woman's little wound," which he was so violently tempted to enlarge.
The Boarding School
This is a story of life in Brazil many years ago, far from the city, where the customs of strict Catholicism still prevailed. Boys of good birth were sent to boarding schools run by the Jesuits, who continued the severe habits of the Middle Ages. The boys slept on beds of wood, rose at dawn, attended mass without breakfast, confessed every day and were constantly watched and spied upon. The atmosphere was austere and inhibiting. The priests ate their meals apart and created an aura of sainthood around themselves. They were stylized in their gestures and speech.
Among them was a very dark-skinned Jesuit who had some Indian blood, the face of a satyr, large ears glued to his head, piercing eyes, a loose-lipped mouth that was always watering, thick hair and the smell of an animal. Under his long brown robe the boys had often noticed a bulge which the younger boys could not explain and which older boys laughed at behind his back. This bulge would appear unexpectedly at any hour—while the class read “Don Quixote” or Rabelais, or sometimes while he merely watched the boys, and one boy in particular, the only fairhaired one in all the school, with the eyes and skin of a girl.
He liked to get this boy off by himself and show him books from his private collection. These contained reproductions of Inca pottery on which there were often depictions of men standing against each other. The boy would ask questions which the old priest had to answer elusively. Other times the prints were quite clear; a long member came out of the middle of one man and penetrated the other from behind.
At confession this priest plied the boys with questions. The more innocent they appeared to be, the closer he questioned them in the darkness of the little confessional box. The kneeling boys were unable to see the priest, who was sitting inside. His low voice came through a small grilled window, asking, "Have you ever had sensual fantasies? Have you thought about women? Have you tried to imagine a woman naked? How do you behave at night in bed? Have you ever touched yourself? Have you ever fondled yourself? What do you do in the morning upon rising? Do you have an erection? Have you ever tried to look at other boys while they dress? Or at the bath?"
The boy who did not know anything would soon learn what was expected of him and be tutored by these questions. The boy who knew took pleasure in confessing in detail his emotions and dreams. One boy dreamed every night. He did not know what a woman looked like, how she was made. But he had seen the Indians making love to the vicuna, which resembled a delicate deer. And he dreamed about making love to vicunas and awakened all wet every morning. The old priest encouraged these confessions. He listened with endless patience. He imposed strange punishments. A boy who masturbated continuously was ordered to go into the Chapel with him when no one was around, dip his penis in the holy water, and thus be purified.
This ceremony was carried out in great secrecy at night.
There was one very wild boy who looked like a little Moorish prince, black-faced, with noble features, a royal carriage, and a beautiful body so smooth that no bones ever showed, lean and polished as a statue. This boy rebelled against the customary wearing of nightgowns. He was used to sleeping naked and the nightgown choked him, stifled him. So every night he put it on like the other boys, and then he would secretly take it off under his covers, and finally fall asleep without it.
Every night the old Jesuit would make his rounds, watching that no boy visited another in his bed, or masturbated, or talked in the dark to his neighbor. When he reached the bed of the undisciplined one, he would slowly and cautiously lift the cover and look at his naked body. If the boy awakened he would scold him. "I came to see if you were sleeping without a nightgown again!" But if the boy did not awaken he was content with a long lingering glance at the youthful body asleep.
Once during anatomy class when he stood on the teacher's platform, and the girlish blond boy sat staring at him, the prominence under his priest's robe became obvious to everyone.
He asked the blond boy, "How many bones does man have in his body?"
The blond boy answered meekly, "Two hundred and eight."
Another boy's voice came from the back of the classroom, 'But Father Dobo has two hundred and nine!"
It was soon after this incident that the boys were taken on a botanical excursion. Ten of them lost their way. Among them was the delicate blond boy. They found themselves in a forest, far from the teachers and the rest of the school. They sat down to rest and decide upon a course of action. They began eating berries. How it began, no one knew, but after a while the blond boy was thrown on the grass, undressed, turned on his stomach and the other nine boys all passed over him, taking him as they would a prostitute, brutally. The experienced boys penetrated his anus to satisfy their desire, while the less experienced used friction between the legs of the boy, whose skin was as tender as a woman's. They spat on their hands and rubbed saliva over their penises. The blond boy screamed and kicked and wept, but they all held him and used him until they were satiated.
In Peru it is the custom among the Indians to exchange rings for a betrothal, rings that have been in their possession for a long time. These rings are sometimes in the shape of a chain.
A very handsome Indian fell in love with a Peruvian woman of Spanish descent, but there was violent opposition on the Part of her family. The Indians were purported to be lazy and degenerate, and to produce weak and unstable children I particularly when married to Spanish blood.
In spite of the opposition, the young people carried out their engagement ceremony among their friends. The girl's father came in during the festivities and threatened that, if he ever met the Indian wearing the chain ring the girl had already given him, he would tear it from his finger in the bloodiest manner, and if necessary cut his finger off. The festivities were spoiled by this incident. Everybody went home, and the young people separated with promises to meet secretly.
They met one evening after many difficulties, and kissed fervently for a long while. The woman was exalted by his kisses. She was ready to give herself, feeling that this might be their last moment together, for her father's anger was growing every day. But the Indian was determined to marry her, determined not to possess her in secrecy. Then she noticed that he did not have the ring on his finger. Her eyes questioned him. He said in her ear, "I am wearing it, but not where it can be seen. I am wearing it where no one can see it, but where it will prevent me from taking you or any other woman until we are married."
"I don't understand," said the woman. "Where is the ring?"
Then he took her hand, led it to a certain place between the legs. The woman's fingers felt his penis first of all, and then he guided her fingers and she felt the ring there at the base of it. At the touch of her hand, however, the penis hardened and he cried out, because the ring pressed into it and gave him excruciating pain.
The woman almost fainted with horror. It was as if he wanted to kill and mutilate the desire in himself. And at the same time the thought of this penis bound and encircled by her ring roused her sexually, so that her body became warm and sensitive to all kinds of erotic fantasies. She continued to kiss him, and he begged her not to, because it brought him greater and greater pain.
A few days later the Indian was again in agony, but he could not get the ring off. The doctor had to be called, and the ring filed away.
The woman came to him and offered to run away with him. He accepted. They got on horses and traveled for a whole night together to a nearby town. There he concealed her in a room and went out to get work on an hacienda. She did not leave the room until her father tired of searching for her. The night watchman of the town was the only one aware of her presence. The watchman was a young man and had helped to conceal her. From her window she could see him walking back and forth arrying the keys of the houses, and calling, "The night is clear and all is well in the town."
When someone came home late he would clap his hands together and call for the watchman. The watchman would open the door. While the Indian was away at work the watchman and the woman chatted together innocently.
He told her about a crime that had recently taken place in the village: The Indians who left the mountain and their work on the haciendas and went down to the jungle became wild and beastlike. Their faces changed from lean, noble contours to bestial grossness.
Such a transformation had just taken place in an Indian who had once been the handsomest man of the village, gracious, silent, with a strange humor and a reserved sensuality. He had gone down to the jungle and made money hunting. Now he had returned. He was homesick. He came back poor and wandered about homeless. No one recognized or remembered him.
Then he had caught a little girl on the road and ripped her sexual parts with a long knife used for skinning animals. He had not violated her, but had taken the knife and inserted it into her sex, and belabored her with it. The whole village was in a turmoil. They could not decide how to punish him. A very old Indian practice was to be revived for his sake. His wounds would be parted and wax, mixed with a biting acid the Indians knew of, inserted into them so that the pain would be doubled. Then he was to be flogged to death.
As the watchman told this story to the woman, her lover returned from his work. He saw her leaning out of the window and looking at the watchman. He rushed up to her room and appeared before her with his black hair wild around his face, his eyes full of lightning bolts of anger and jealousy. He began to curse her and torture her with questions and doubts.
Ever since the accident with the ring his penis had remained sensitive. The lovemaking was accompanied with pain, and so he could not indulge in it as often as he wanted. His penis would swell and hurt him for days. He was always afraid he was not satisfying his mistress and that she might love another. When he saw the tall watchman talking to her, he was sure they were carrying on an affair behind his back. He wanted to hurt her, he wanted her to suffer bodily in some way, as he had suffered for her. He forced her to go downstairs with him to the cellar where the wines were kept in vats under beamed ceilings.
He tied a rope to one of the beams. The woman thought he was going to beat her. She could not understand why he was preparing a pulley. Then he tied her hands and began pulling on the rope so that her body was raised in the air and the whole weight of it hung on her wrists, and the pain was great.
She wept and swore that she had been faithful, but he was insane. When she fainted as he pulled the rope again, he came to his senses. He took her down and began embracing her and caressing her. She opened her eyes and smiled at him.
He was overcome with desire for her and he threw himself on her. He thought that she would resist him, that after the pain she had endured she would be angry. But she made no resistance. She continued to smile at him. And when he touched her sex he found that she was wet. He took her with fury, and she responded with the same exaltation. It was the best night they ever had together, lying there on the cold cellar floor in the darkness.
I was spending the summer in Mallorca, in Deya, near the monastery where George Sand and Chopin stayed. In the early morning we would get on small donkeys and travel the hard, difficult road to the sea, down the mountain. It would take about an hour of slow travail, through the red earth paths, the rocks, the treacherous boulders, through the silver olive trees, down to the fishing villages, made of huts built against the mountain flanks.
Every day I went down to the cove, where the sea came into a small round bay of such transparency that one could swim to the bottom and see the coral reefs and unusual plants.
A strange story was told of the place by the fishermen. The Mallorcan women were very inaccessible, puritanical and religious. When they swam they wore the long skirted bathing suits and black stockings of years ago. Most of them did not believe in swimming at all and left this to the shameless European women who spent the summers there. The fishermen also condemned the modern bathing suits and obscene behavior of Europeans. They thought of Europeans as nudists, who waited for only the slightest opportunity to get completely undressed and lie naked in the sun like pagans. They also looked with disapproval on the midnight bathing parties innovated by Americans.
One evening some years ago, a fisherman's daughter of eighteen was walking along the edge of the sea, leaping from rock to rock, her white dress clinging to her body. Walking thus and dreaming and watching the effects of the moon on the sea, the soft lapping of the waves at her feet, she came to a hidden cove where she noticed that someone was swimming. She could see only the head moving and occasionally an arm. The swimmer was quite far away. Then she heard a light voice calling out to her, "Come in and swim. It's beautiful." It was said in Spanish with a foreign accent. "Hello, Maria," it called, so the voice knew her. It must have been one of the young American women who bathed there during the day.
She answered, "Who are you?"
"I'm Evelyn," said the voice, "come and swim with me!"
It was very tempting. Maria could easily take off her white dress and wear only her short white chemise. She looked everywhere. There was no one around. The sea was calm and speckled with moonlight. For the first time Maria understood the European love of midnight bathing. She took off her dress. She had long back hair, a pale face, slanted green eyes, greener than the sea. She was beautifully formed, with high breasts, long legs, a stylized body. She knew how to swim better than any other woman on the island. She slid into the water and began her long easy strokes towards Evelyn.
Evelyn swam under the water, came up to her and gripped her legs. In the water they teased each other. The semidarkness and the bathing cap made it difficult to see the face clearly. American women had voices like boys.
Evelyn wrestled with Maria, embraced her under the water. They came up for air, laughing, swimming nonchalantly away and back to each other. Maria's chemise floated up around her shoulders and hampered her movements. Finally it came off altogether and she was left naked. Evelyn swam under and touched her playfully, wrestling and diving under and between her legs.
Evelyn would part her legs so that her friend could dive between them and reappear on the other side. She floated and let her friend swim under her arched back.
Maria saw that she was naked too. Then suddenly she felt Evelyn embracing her from behind, covering her whole body with hers. The water was lukewarm, like a luxuriant pillow, so salty that it bore them, helped them to float and swim without effort.
"You're beautiful, Maria," said the deep voice, and Evelyn kept her arms around her. Maria wanted to float away, but she was held by the warmth of the water, the constant touch of her friend's body. She let herself be embraced. She did not feel breasts on her friend, but, then, she knew young American women she had seen did not have breasts. Maria's body was languid, and she wanted to close her eyes.
Suddenly what she felt between her legs was not a hand but something else, something so unexpected, so disturbing that she screamed. This was no Evelyn but a young man, Evelyn's younger brother, and he had slipped his erect penis between her legs. She screamed but no one heard, and her scream was only something she had been trained to expect of herself. In reality his embrace seemed to her as lulling and warming and caressing as the water. The water and the penis and the hands conspired to arouse her body. She tried to swim away. But the boy swam under her body, caressed her, gripped her legs, and then mounted her again from behind.
In the water they wrestled, but each movement affected her only more physically, made her more aware of his body against hers, of his hands upon her. The water swung her breasts back and forth like two heavy water lilies floating. He kissed them. With the constant motion he could not really take her, but his penis touched her over and over again in the most vulnerable tip of her sex, and Maria was losing her strength. She swam towards shore, and he followed. They fell on the sand. The waves still lapped them as they lay there panting, naked. The boy then took the girl, and the sea came and washed over them and washed away the virgin blood.
From that night they met only at this hour. He took her there in the water, swaying, floating. The wavelike movements of their bodies as they enjoyed each other seemed part of the sea. They found a foothold on a rock and stood together, caressed by the waves, and shaking from the orgasm.
When I went down to the beach at night, I often felt as though I could see them, swimming together, making love.