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One of those typical December rains, mixed with sleet and ice, was drizzling down upon the city of Paris. The number of people who were walking the Rue D'Assas could be counted on the fingers of one hand. The water collected in the gutters and its gurgling could be heard in the homes, where the inhabitants were huddled around their fireplaces.
One of those homes was the abode of Madame Briquart, the respectable widow of a colonel from His Majesty's regiments, and her two adorable nieces Florentine and Julia.
That night there were four people gathered around the fireplace, because Cousin George was reading out loud from one of the latest novels. The two girls and Madame Briquart were listening, at least they pretended to do so. Julia was leafing through an old family album, Florentine was busy with her needle point, and Madame Briquart leaned back comfortably in her rocking chair.
She was a charming woman who carried her age well. She had been a widow for a long time and thanked God for His good graces. Though rumor had it that her husband was a hero on the battlefield but that in his home his wife wore the pants, one look at the fragile lady belied such ridiculous gossip.
The howling of the wind, the beating of the rain upon the window panes and the monotonous droning of Cousin George's voice had a hypnotizing effect upon the older woman.
She shivered voluptuously and her thoughts raced back through time. It must have been something George was reading about, because suddenly she was reminded of something which she had spent a lifetime to forget—her wedding night.
She vividly remembered her white gown, the handsome cavalier in splendid uniform who now had become her lord and master, the stern intonement of the bishop's “till death do us part,” and her mother's tearful advice. “You must allow him to do what he wants, it will make a woman out of you.” Of course, she had not the slightest idea what her mother meant, but an instinctive fear had come over her when she was alone with her husband in their bedroom and she noticed the terrible glint in his eyes.
“Well,” he said, “are you still dressed in that ridiculous outfit? Why aren't you in bed?” She hadn't understood and looked at him in bewilderment. He walked over to her, ripped the wedding gown, and exposed her breasts. She tried to cover up, but he roughly pulled her hands away and pressed his burning lips upon the nipple. She had been petrified, and he used her moment of fear to remove all her clothing. Then he picked her up and threw her unceremoniously upon the bed. “That's where you belong, my little dove,” he had said, “and don't ever forget that.” He suddenly jumped upon her, roaring like a wild animal. In her confusion she had not even noticed that he, too, was completely naked. What had happened to the man, she wondered. He was such a gallant young officer. Could it be that the events of this hectic day had deranged his mind?
She wanted to scream but was unable to do so, because he pressed his lips hotly upon hers, and his tongue was trying to enter her mouth. She kept her lips firmly closed when all of a sudden she had to scream out loud! Without any warning she had felt a hot, glowing thing between her legs, searching for that little orifice which, her mother had told her, God had put there for certain natural functions.
It found that spot without any hesitation and Madame Briquart shuddered again when she remembered the terrible scream she had uttered. An incredible pain tore through her body—she thought that a white-hot branding iron penetrated her, splitting her belly in half. The pain was so terrible that she sank into deep unconsciousness.
Her husband stood over her when she came to. Next to the bed stood a bowl with water tinted red with blood and for the first time she saw the actual difference between a man and a woman. She had, of course, seen a few nude male statues, but she had never believed that in reality those things were that enormous. The colonel's tool dangled limply from his belly, still dripping with her blood.
That was the instrument of torture which has ripped me to shreds, she thought. The immense member appeared to her as strong and heavy as an arm. She had yet come to realize that this immense size was only his flaccid position. The tool would have done honor to a stallion, and it did not take long ere the new Madame Briquart was forcefully shown the real horrors of this thing.
“You really scared the hell out of me with that fit of yours,” were the first loving words her husband had spoken that night, “but don't worry, my little dove... it always hurts a little bit the first time. At least I hope I did hurt you. That adds extra spice to the life of a soldier.” And then came those terrible words which were forever burned into Madame Briquart's memory: “Come on, my little pussy, it's about time for us to really get at it. I haven't put in my performance, yet. Put yourself in the proper position.”
Position? What position? She had still been completely dazed. Her husband had gone mad, so completely different from the handsome, attentive cavalier into whose care her parents had entrusted her.
“Now, come on, come on, I haven't got all night. Open those thighs of yours a little wider, so that I can get a proper look as your cunt. Oh, boy, that puts me in a good mood. It beats the asshole of my orderly, and it looks a heck of a lot tighter than those worn-out cunts of the camp followers. Baby, baby, you'll be surprised what I can do to you. Everybody agrees that Colonel Briquart is one of the best!”
Incredible, she had thought, this beast is my husband, and I am stuck with him until death do us part! Oh, death, sweet death, come and save me, she had prayed. Her husband cleared his throat irritably, “Dammit, the fucker won't get hard. Sorry, little darling wife, I've got to beat you up a little. That always works wonders. It may hurt you a little at first, but I promise that I'll make it up to you once I get inside you...”
The words had made no sense to her, and, still half-dazed, she had watched in amazement when he took his belt from his uniform. “A few little blows and this thing will stand up ramrod stiff to give you the delight of your life. Don't cry... you don't honestly mean to tell me that you never received any punishment in your convent school.” His brutal hands, calloused by the punishment he was used to mete out to orderlies and new recruits, threw her face down on the bed, dislocating her shoulder. She was completely helpless, her buttocks were raised up in the air and suddenly she heard the belt whistle through the air; a terrible blow drew blood from her tender skin. She had tried to rear up, but his iron hands had held her in position. “Aah,” he exclaimed, “just what I need... these little innocent convent girls. I've been waiting for months for this delicious moment,” and the blows rained down upon her poor, tortured body. “Ooh... aah... it's beginning to move! I'm going to give it to you, your eyes will be sparkling for weeks on end!” The maniac really seemed to believe that he was doing his young ravaged bride a favor. “Little one, will you stop moving around! Goddammit, it can't be all that bad. Why don't you take a good look at my machine, and tell me how much you like it! I'm going to shove it as deep into you as I can... right up to the hilt!” She had glanced fearfully in his direction, and almost fainted at the sight. His member stood erect, dismal and sinister, heavy and ramrod stiff. It had seemed incredible to her than any man could walk this earth with such stallion dimensions...
Fortunately it had not occurred to her that the man was really serious about pushing this fearful measure of flesh into her body. The mere thought that he really seemed to believe she was awaiting such an outrage, such an impalement, as if it were a hotly desired favor, a badge or a decoration, was completely beyond her innocent comprehension. “Well, my dear little wife, let's try it again.”
And with those words he had climbed on top of her.
“Oh, dear God in Heaven, have mercy upon me... no, no,” she had screamed. “Please, please, I... I... can't any more, my whole body hurts.”
“Nonsense, hurry up. Spread those legs, and stop that stupid false modesty of yours. A soldier's wife should be quick on the draw, or she'll spoil the battle.”
“But- —not—now—you—hurt—me—so... hurt... ouch... ooh... I—can't stand it... any longer!” Her last words came out with a terrifying scream. She squirmed like a trapped animal, but it was of no use. The madman had taken possession of her body, and he did not listen to her pleas for mercy. It left him cold. Now, in her old age, she knew that her pleading only spurred him on to greater atrocities. The tears, the screams and her pure terror were the ingredients that the monster she had married needed for tearing down the barriers that existed between the sexes. It was the only way the brute could complete the act of intercourse.
Her husband—and what mockery he made of that sacred title—placed his instrument of torture with uncanny accuracy before her narrow pleasure gate. Fear tightened her entrance, but this did not deter him. The first pressure of his heavy knob, only the tip of this horrendous club, felt like the heavy blow of a sledgehammer, ramming into the soft folds of her tiny crevice. Despite the pitiable situation the new Madame Briquart was in, it became horribly clear to her that one of the two had to give. And it was also obvious to her that it was not going to be her husband's rock-hard ramrod. Either his stout cudgel had to become smaller—which was most unlikely—or her poor little tender wedge would have to stretch enormously, or explode. The latter seemed most probable to her, and her terror-stricken body shook with fear.
Then it happened! A tremendous jolt shook every fiber of her body, removing the last little vestige of doubt about the outcome of this uneven battle. A glowing rod, hard as a steel piston, rammed into the soft folds of her tender flesh, making the two bodies one as required by the Holy Scriptures. But, Good God, did it have to be that way? The regular, never-ending up and down motion of this dreadful piston, whose devilish constancy reminded her of the blind, puppet-like motion of a platoon of foot soldiers, started to pound into her. Unfortunately, this time she was continuously aware of what was happening to her. No blessed unconsciousness, no saving grace of fainting, gave her any relief—every single, painful jolt registered with incredible accuracy upon her tortured nervous system.
She would have never believed it; the monster had succeeded in penetrating her... two-thirds of him had disappeared into her belly. And still, the good Lord had not answered her pitiful prayers to let her die. Up and down it went; with each thrust the ramrod pole disappeared deeper and deeper into her squirming insides. Each jab burned her abused little opening worse than the one before. It finally hurt so much that she no longer felt the welts and blisters on her back and behind which she had incurred during the thrashing. She could only think of the incredible pain which her tortured lovenest had to endure. The burden that pressed her down upon the mattress, almost choking all the breath out of her, kept snorting and grunting, repeating over and over. “Ooh, fantastic, great, what a marvelous fuck. Ooh, what a delicious little cunt. It squeezes around my prick like a nice warm glove. It's so much better than the first time. And the little bitch is getting wet, too. No wonder, when she's being laid with a prick like mine!”
The helpless young wife was nauseated to the point of throwing up. Not only had she been shattered by the unbearable pain and the extreme humiliation, but the ghastly vulgarity of the man whom she had promised to honor and obey only a few short hours before left only one feeling for him in her bleeding heart... that of utter disgust. And those wild thrusting jolts! They penetrated her defenseless body mercilessly. It seemed to her as if she had been pierced through and through, the enormous prick filling her completely, rubbing her raw and bloody. And with each succeeding jolt— ohh, would this torture never end—the rod seemed to grow larger, heavier and harder. It pushed deep inside her, tearing her innermost linings, and the pain of it shook her in bone and marrow. She could no longer bear it, and her poor, tortured mind escaped into hallucinations. She had visions of purple animals, pink clouds and stars bursting in fluorescent colors. She was sliding down a snow-covered mountain and suddenly she was on a sailboat during a rainstorm. And the pains kept tearing into her, though she was now beyond caring.
“Well, little one, don't you love it! That's what they call a good lay. Now you can really lap it up; I'm going to give it to you every night for as long as we will be married. I'm going to fuck you as long as you want because it takes me quite a while before I come. The longer it lasts, the more they love it. It's funny how all those broads keep asking for more.”
The young bride almost choked. Tears took her breath away, sobbing shook her body almost continuously and only shrill, piercing screams escaped her throat.
The convulsions, shaking her body without stopping, and the cramps which made her shiver and jerk constantly, only seemed to excite her husband because suddenly his enormous tool grew even larger. The horrible thing which had kept her pinned to the mattress began to throb and behave as if it had a life all of its own. She could feel it stiffen within her weakened flesh. She gave one last scream and tried to grab with both hands at the monstrous thing which was tearing her body to pieces. This last, desperate effort on her part caused the crisis to occur. A hot jet shot into her, the poor thing thought that it was boiling water and the blistering agony made her faint. At the same time the Colonel's fearsome spear slipped out of her burning hole. A strange, warm juice came gushing out of her, running down her thighs, wetting the marital bed.
She had lost consciousness again, and for quite a while she lay lifeless upon the bed. She could not remember exactly what had happened, but, possibly to protect her ravished body, she had turned herself over on her stomach. Then, suddenly, a stinging and indescribable new pain tore through her body, a pain so incredibly tormenting that it made child's play out of what had just happened before. She tried desperately to scramble away, but she was too weak, and the heavy burden upon her back made it impossible for her to move. The Colonel's hands grabbed for her breasts and squeezed those tender globes savagely. The hands went down to her belly, held her firmly and... the poor young bride was forced to undergo a true impalement, according to all the rules of the perverted game.
The Colonel had made use of her fainting spell to enjoy a form of debauchery common among professional soldiers who have been deprived for a long time from the company of women. The pain which called her back to life was again caused by his immense organ. This time, however, it was not stuck into her still raw and burning love nest, but in the other, much more narrow gate... her delicious behind.
“Your asshole is more appetizing than that little twat of yours,” her husband snorted. “It's nice, tight and warm... goddamn tight, I would say, but that makes it even more exciting. I'm coming already. Dear God in Heaven... You have a beautiful ass, my dear... Jesus, aaah, that's the thing. A tight, appetizing asshole... I'm coming... I'm coming...!”
The third onslaught during Madame Briquart's wedding night was the worst of all. A doctor had to be called to put sutures in her behind and it took a long time for her to recover. The doctor, who had been a friend of her family, used his influence to secure a Royal letter which could be used to demote the Colonel to the rank of a common foot soldier upon his wife's request.
With this weapon she was free from his love-making, and she graciously allowed him to return to the field of honor, back to his whoring greensleeves and his orderlies. She performed the duties of a perfect housewife in all departments but the bedroom, and people whispered behind her back that she was a true virago.
But, when her husband died on the battlefield, she properly mourned him, and cashed his pension, converting it into a modest life insurance.
Madame Briquart huddled into a ball, overcome by the sensations of her vivid memories. Cousin George had finished his reading and he closed the book.
Julia raised her head and murmured. “What horrible weather!”
Her sister, Florentine, lowered her head, bending closer to her needle point, and whispered agreement. Both lovely girls were visibly impressed by the sad story of a young love which had been read to them by their elderly cousin. Madame Briquart, who had been hypnotized into her own dream world by George's monotonous vice, managed to say, “That was lovely, George, dear.”
With a satisfied little smile playing around his lips, George said, “Dearest Aunt, it's always better to be in your parlor than to be out in the streets of Paris. Especially on a night like this.”
“Yes.” The old woman was now entirely back into her role as the charming elderly hostess. “I am afraid that there won't be many visitors tonight.”
“Anyone would have to be either in love or a lunatic to go out on a night like this, especially when the streets are so slick,” George declared rather pompously. He was fond of repeating himself.
“Lovers!” Julia said with a little leer. “They wouldn't come here in the first place.”
“Oh, really,” replied George Vaudrez, a slight tinge of sarcasm creeping into his voice, “what makes you so sure of that?”
“Come on, dear George, it seems to me that you are under the influence of that story you just read to us, about a woman who was suffering from the madness of sacrifice.”
Julia was just teasing, but George had his hackles up and was about to give a sharp retort when the sound of a carriage drawn by two horses came nearer.
“I wonder who that might be,” Madame Briquart said, when the carriage stopped before their door. The maid announced the arrival of Count Saski, and the mention of this name brought a blush of pleasure upon Julia's cheeks and a frown upon the already wrinkled forehead of Cousin George.
“How charming of you to brave this awful weather and pay us a visit,” said Madame Briquart, offering her white, wrinkled hand upon which the young man respectfully pressed a kiss.
“Walking to Siberia, dearest Madame Briquart, would be a pleasure, if there were people as charming as you,” the young man's lips spoke to the aunt, but his eyes met those of her charming niece Julia and said more of what was on his mind and in his heart than words could ever do.
Madame Briquart returned the compliment with an equally well-turned phrase, and motioned the maid to serve tea. The young Count moved more and more toward Julia with whom he began a quiet conversation. The way they looked at each other made it clear to everyone that they might need a lot of chaperoning in the future. Cousin George began to feel uncomfortable; he was fidgeting around, trying to distract Florentine from her needle work. Madame Briquart rasped her throat—delicately, of course—and Florentine put down her needlework, dutifully moved over toward Cousin George who began to point out certain phrases in the magazine which he had previously underlined with a blue pencil.
Madame Briquart looked at the two couples and there was a hint of sadness, mixed with malice, in her eyes. The young and dashing Russian count had eyes only for the beautiful dark-haired Julia, and the blonde Florentine was now completely cornered by Cousin George who did his best to be charming and match the dashing attitude of her sister's admirer.
It was past eleven o'clock when the maid brought in a glass of hot spiced wine for the gentlemen and another cup of tea for the two girls. Both men thereupon took their leave, and by midnight the house of Madame Briquart was quiet.
Several weeks passed, and nothing worth telling happened in the little household. The old lady, her two nieces, and the maid lived an uneventful life. One day rolled by, looking exactly like any other, and it seemed for all the world that this would go on and on.
Julia and Florentine were the daughters of Madame Briquart's brother Hector. Hector had been her friend since early youth, and there had been a bond between those two which was more than friendship, and not yet love. The bond was very strong, and nothing was able to break it. Nothing? Oh, yes... only death.
And death had come to Hector quite suddenly, two years after his wife had left this vale of tears. The poor man barely had a chance to scribble a hasty note to his widowed sister in France. “My dear little daughters are orphans now; please, take care of them.”
And she had taken them in, brought them up to the best of her ability and she felt as if she had carried them under her own heart. Quite frequently she would ask herself what would happen to the two young children if any disaster would befall her. What would their future be? “Young, beautiful and... poor,” she would say to herself. “Oh, Lord, the dangers, disappointments and sufferings that await these young innocent creatures.”
A crisis was in the air. A crisis which would decide the future lives of the women in Madame Briquart's home. One morning—the Colonel's wife had barely touched her pork chops, and the half-bottle of wine which she used to drink for her health with each meal was unopened— Madame Briquart told the maid to clear the table and bring in the coffee.
This done she turned suddenly toward the blonde Florentine, and asked brusquely, “Tell me, my little niece do you have any objections against getting married?”
The young girl blushed furiously, a smile trembled around her lips, her violet eyes sparkled and she said, “But of course not, dear Aunt, though it might depend upon with whom I am expected to share the remainder of my life.”
“With whom? Why, of course, with a man who adores you.”
“Adores her? And such a man does exist? What novelty!” Julia, the eternal teaser, laughed out loud.
A stern warning glance from her aunt quieted the girl down quickly, and she turned toward her blushing sister. “Uh, dear, you'd better be prepared for something terrible.”
“Please, tell us what this is all about. We're positively dying of curiosity.”
“Dear children, what I am about to say is not easy for me. I have regarded you as my own flesh and blood, and the most difficult thing a mother can do is to deliver her daughters into the hands of a man. Certain things have to be taken into consideration of which you two, at your tender age, are out of necessity as yet unaware. It is the infinite wisdom of our society that the elders are influential in a choice of partners for their daughters, and—though human failings—mistakes are sometimes made. I will therefore, since I am your mother only in sentiment, make myself abundantly clear. The ultimate choice, however, must be up to yourselves. Yesterday, Cousin George had a long talk with me. He took me fully into his confidence, and told me that he harbors the most passionate feelings toward Florentine. In short, he asked me for her hand in marriage, a request which I—naturally—could only answer with the promise that I would faithfully tell you about his feelings toward you. It is up to you, my dear child, to make a decision. However, this may help you in your decision. You never knew your uncle, the Colonel, and let it suffice to tell you that he was not, at certain times, the perfect gentleman people thought him to be. George, the Colonel's nephew, does not—to the very best of my knowledge—take after his late uncle. And even if he does, my dearest, be assured that his constitution—as it is now—does not permit him to follow—ah—as it were... in his uncle's footsteps. George is rich, he is not a bad person, he is intelligent enough to get along with reasonably well and— in all the twenty-five years I have known him— he is a perfect gentleman.
“You, my dear Florentine, are beautiful, well-developed, young and intelligent. Alas, you are not rich, and if anything happens to me, you will be poor. In order to assure our well-being I have turned my small inheritance into an annuity, but pensions will disappear when the Lord calls me to His Throne. Frankly, I think that the time has come to think seriously of your future. What do you say about Cousin George?”
Florentine had turned slightly pale. At twenty she definitely had other dreams than those concerning a man deep in his fifties. She did like George Vaudrez very much, as a matter of fact he was her favorite relative. Of course, she did not have much choice of relatives, but she had always had a certain fondness for her dear cousin George Vaudrez, ever since she had been a tiny toddler. But to say that her heart throbbed wildly, or even experienced a tiny skip whenever he was around, would be a far cry from the truth. Despite his ardent declaration, which flattered her enormously, it had never crossed her mind to become his life-long companion and devoted wife. Let alone the mother of his children, though she did not have the vaguest inkling how that was going to be accomplished.
She was just a sweet, young and innocent girl. Like all girls of her upbringing, she did not have the faintest idea of the many implications that are hidden behind the simple little word, “love.”
In books she had caught glimpses of possibilities superior to the one she seemed destined for at the moment. But, it must be said in all fairness that she had also caught glimpses of things which seemed far worse to her. Florentine was a fairly level-headed girl; in short, she was neither elated nor depressed at the thought of giving her tiny hand in marriage to the aging person, and the vast fortune, of cousin George Vaudrez.
“My dear Aunt Briquart,” she said after a short moment of silence, “you know so much more about life than I do. I would appreciate very much if you could help me to arrange my life as you think it would be best for me. I don't know how to say this properly, but I am not particularly passionately in love with Cousin George, though I like him enough to accept the pleasant position he offers me, even if he is already fifty-five years old. I mean... I don't know whether it is that, or... how should I say it, I think I could be happy by being agreeable to George...”
Good Lord,” her sister exploded, “now I have heard just about everything. I have read quite a lot about marriages of convenience, marriages of passion and marriages of atonement. But to marry someone just to give him pleasure is a new one in the books! My best wishes for the future, dearest sister, but I won't follow your dreary example.”
“One of these days you might regret such an attitude.” said her aunt. “But thank goodness, we are not talking about you but the future of your sister. I will go to Cousin George and tell him about Florentine's decision.”
A wedding is always a big affair in any household. But the prospect of her own impending marriage to George Vaudrez seemed to have less of an affect on Florentine, the bride-to-be, than it had on her sister Julia. It was not that Julia was jealous; far from that. In the first place, she loved her sister too much for that, and secondly, whatever made Florentine happy, usually made Julia happy, too. But this time it was different. The words of Madame Briquart had torn apart the veil of innocence and ignorance which had shrouded the girls since early childhood.
That's it, she thought. I have no fortune; I am poor. And therefore I will be either condemned to live out my life as an old spinster, or I must become the life's companion of an aging rich man. With luck he might be as nice and half-way intelligent as Cousin George, but more likely he will be some drooling, old imbecile. Because, who, else in beautiful France would marry a nice, young girl without a dowry? This is utterly ridiculous. Everything I have ever read and dreamed about tells me that there is love and passion and things unknown but incredibly exciting... all this is waiting for me. It's in every book. What will ever happen to me if I don't find a young, handsome and rich husband who loves me?
But there was no one to answer that question.
Florentine was more simple-minded. She did not experience this sort of daydream. As far as she was concerned, her future was—from now on— predictable, and she could imagine it rather well. She was familiar with George's huge manor near Paris, because the children had spent practically every summer vacation there. And, by becoming the lady of the manor, she could imagine herself sitting on a big chair in the large drawing room, entertaining her guests.
The mornings would be bathed in sunshine, she would breathe deeply from the healthy morning air and she would devote herself to the numerous little tasks of a housewife, and the big task of giving orders for the day to her servants.
Noon would find her surrounded by her family. The children around her called her “Mama,” and the little baby in her arms gurgled pretty sounds. Above this gracious tableau, George's white head presided, his loving eyes fixed upon her.
This beautiful picture of a tranquil future had fixed itself so firmly in her mind that it filled her with a deep happiness. That evening, when George Vaudrez visited her, she was more than happy to put her hand in his, look up at him adoringly, and answer his formal request to marry him with a resounding “yes.”
Madame Briquart did not want to seem pushy, but she preferred to see things hurry up. Not that she did not trust her husband's nephew. Far from it! But the excitement and the fact that George was no longer a young man, made her decide upon an early wedding date. And George did not contradict her.
For six weeks there was a continual coming and going of dressmakers, seamstresses and milliners. Madame Briquart wanted everything to be as fine and elegant as possible. “I can only give you your trousseau,” she said to her little niece, “and the least I can do is to give you a very pretty one.”
The good woman had carefully chosen revealing chemises, worked with lace, very low-cut night gowns with ribbon and frills and all those hundreds of little nothings which, when put together, are the build-up to nights of love and laughter.
“But my dearest aunt,” said Florentine, who at times was very economy minded and who could not possibly see the reason for all these expenses, “why all these expensive frills on clothes nobody but me will ever see?”
The older woman would smile and say, “Oh, please, let me have my little pleasure.”
Madame Briquart knew the human heart and its frailties, and she was also not unaware of the fact that Cousin George had made good use of his many, many years as a bachelor. The leisure hours of his youth—as well as those of his later years— had been spent in sampling every form of lasciviousness the human mind can think of. And George was used to the luxuries with which the priestesses of Venus surround themselves, because a whore, by whatever name, is not capable of displaying much emotion, and has to make up her lack of feeling with the display of luxury. It was just that Madame Briquart did not want George's ardor to cool down too quickly, and she reasoned justly that the sight of luxury would make him temporarily forget that his new wife could not possibly match the experience of even a novice courtesan.
The great day finally arrived. She looked positively charming in her billowing, white bridal gown and veil, the orange blossoms, and her violet eyes so trustworthy. Florentine sincerely vowed love and fidelity; she was properly excited, but not at all frightened, when she and George got into the carriage which drove away from the home of her youth, her aunt, her sister and her friends, toward the huge mansion of George Vaudrez where they would spend the first days of their life together. George, with the complete agreement of Madame Briquart, was a rather old-fashioned man who saw no reason to travel the four corners of the earth to savor the most delicate experience of one's marriage, and to make the impersonal walls of some out-of-the-way hotel witness to the solemn act of making a devoted wife out of an inexperienced virgin.
No, he preferred that this should be done in the home where he was born and where he expected to die, where he hoped—God willing— his children would be born and where he expected to share his hours of happiness and his moments of sadness—there are some for all of us— with those he loved.
The carriage rolled merrily through the streets of Paris, and soon it had left the town.
The clickety-clack of the horses' hooves, the pleasure awaiting him, and the presence of this young innocent thing who was now Madame George Vaudrez made his head spin. He took the little hands of his young wife between his own and squeezed them tenderly. From time to time he bent his head forward and kissed the pretty little forehead which had just become his very own property. She accepted his advances without blushing and without any sign of embarrassment. In short, she was as chaste as anyone could have wished. Anyone, that is, but George Vaudrez. He did not belong to the sentimental class. He was a man of few words and he liked his women honest and down to earth. Lately he had been having trouble, and by marrying Florentine he had hoped to be able to restore his flagging powers. It had been a few months since he had had his last female. She had been an earthy peasant girl, and he had lured her into his bed with promises of wealth and riches.