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The Confessor

Erotic story (1903)


Author:

All the versions of this article:

Jean de Villiot, Whipped women, (The confessor; Procured by a whipping; Victims of love; Daughters to marry; The colonel and his cook), Privately issued for bibliophiles and collectors only; impr. de Vve Folguy (Alençon), Paris, 1903.


THE CONFESSOR

Her Most Serene Highness Princess Elizabeth Bathory had been in a state of great anxiety ever since she lost her chaplain. He had passed away in saintly style, but his death was so sudden and unexpected that no one thought of naming his successor before he gave his last holy sigh. To tell the truth, the Princess did not care very much for the priest as a man, but like all Christian ladies who are particular in their religious duties, she suffered at not being able to fulfil them any longer.

The castle of Seebenstein, which she inhabited during the summer, perched on the top of a high mountain, is difficult of access; and at the period when our story opens, it took many hours to get from the old park and grounds to the nearest church. On the other hand, it was easy to return to Vienna, but when once Elizabeth Bathory was installed in her domain, nothing could induce her to leave it until the autumn. The Princess loved her comforts, laziness, and every kind of voluptuous pleasure quite as much as God and religion.

Before attending mass and approaching the consecrated host, she resigned herself to awaiting the arrival of a new chaplain. Morning and night she prayed to God for the advent of a holy man. Sometimes she did so with tears, as she regretted having no one handy to whom she could confess her faults. At other moments, she was seized with violent fury because her prayers were not granted, so she beat her serving women and exhausted her rage on the shoulders and thighs of her vassals. The Princess being in all the glory of blossoming youth; so perfectly well-built, having such a seductive face and magnificent and liberal ways, that her brutality was supported without too much grumbling, but as her maids thought they knew the reason of her temper, they tried at any rate to moderate and restrain her capricious cruelty, being unable to escape from it entirely. Refusing to trust in Providence alone, they informed everybody serving in the castle, of their mistress’s new whim, begging them, if they should be passing through Vienna to find out some unattached priest who would be agreeable to come and take up his abode at Seebenstein. The post was well and amply paid, and the wenches added that if necessary, they would pay the priest’s salary out of their wages.

But the man was finally found, and one rainy evening when the Princess had shown herself particularly cross and hasty, a certain Abbot of the name of Thurzo came knocking at the castle gates. He wore a long beard like a missionary; his hair was growing grey, and tinted spectacles protected his eyes. But these were the only signs of age. Being tall, straight, and well set-up, with fine ruddy cheeks and broad shoulders, everything pointed on the contrary to full strength and fine bodily health, so that if he was no longer a young man, at any rate he carried the burden of old age lightly enough.

Elizabeth Bathory, to whom the arrival of the priest had been promptly announced, received him with the most exquisite welcome, and Ursula, one of her maids, was entrusted with the care of showing him to his new apartments, in order that he could attend to his dress before going to take supper. He had to dwell rather far away from the lady of the manor, in a part of the building opposite the wing occupied by Elizabeth, so therefore, as he made his way in the ante-chamber of his quarters, Ursula, after glancing back over her shoulder, thought she could safely give him the following strange warning :

“My lord Abbot,” she exclaimed, “tarry not in the castle of Seebenstein, if thou wouldst not die like our venerable chaplain!”

“What was the manner of his demise?” asked the priest.

“He succumbed beneath the blows of the Princess,” replied Ursula, in low tones, as if she was affrighted at having let this avowal escape her. Hearing a slight noise at the end of the corridor, she made haste to light some tapers, and putting in order the three rooms which for two centuries had been set aside for the chaplains of Seebenstein, made a precipitate exit.

The holy man did not appear to be much stirred by Ursula’s discourse.

“Whatever befall,” he muttered between his clenched teeth, “I am not the sort of man to die under the blows of this woman!”

He quietly arranged his dress, and was about to leave his apartment, when he caught sight of a large brown stain on the wooden flooring. On the naked wall was another spot, and this one was in the shape of a hand. There could be no doubt about it: fingers with strong nails had scratched and drawn lines on the stuccoed surface. The priest felt momentary astonishment, but the sound of the supper-bell left him no time to give way to his thoughts.

The mistress of the house was seated at table between a rather tall girl and a very young woman. At one moment, the Princess would treat her like an intimate friend, and afterwards with the sort of condescending authority that one might have for quite a baby lassie. By the jovial vivacity of their talk and bearing, all three harmonized but little with this vast dull hall, only ornamented with antlers, hunting horns and weapons, together with some heads of wild boars and a few sombre portraits of ancestors, whose sour looks seemed to grow worse at the sight of the supple, naked, fair, brilliant, transparent shoulders, all ablaze with diamonds; and the magnificent yellow tresses arranged by the hands of expert Viennese artists. Beneath the illuminating glare of the chandeliers, it seemed as if three heavy golden diadems were surmounting their swan-like necks. The surly old bygone Bathorys would certainly become more crabbed in the face of their enchanting cruppers, standing out in such high relief that the silky skirts of gala clothing seemed rather to enhance than to hide them. These widely spreading and majestuous hemispheres could be easily viewed between the backs and cushions of the heavy armchairs cruppers large and vast were they, of indolent, sovereign queens; firm, rounded, moon-like cruppers of intrepid amazons; jutting, tight.. skinned cruppers-the immodest rotundities of voluptuous and rakish females.

Princess Bathory, since her father’s death, had evidently not had time to substitute more modern furniture for the old appointments of the castle. She required something more in accordance with her own tastes; or mayhap she was too occupied by the ardent life of passionate sensuality she led to pay much attention to tables and chairs.

The Princess introduced Abbot Thurzo to her two neighbours at table, Lenchen and Addgonda, her two cousins. The three young ladies began to question the priest concerning the clergy and society in Vienna, seemingly wanting to find out what kind of people he had known, and his intellectual value. By his replies it could be seen that he had moved in the highest circles. All three of the women made disparaging remarks about their female friends, trying to get him to talk scandal, but he eluded the snare by clever witticisms.

“If Madame Nadardy has ever been in your company," said young Lenchen, towards the end of the meal, "I think she must have enticed you into her boudoir.”

“Whatever do you mean?” asked the Princess, throwing up her head, and in a severe tone of voice, as she turned to Lenchen, on her right.

“Only just for a little private chat,” continued pretty Lenchen, without noticing her cousin’s irritation, and she added with a half comical, half voluptuous expression, “see what a fine beard the Abbot has!”

“What means such chatter?” exclaimed the Princess, and she twice slapped the cheeks of Lenchen, who to protect herself, rapidly threw up her elbow. This quick gesture caused her involuntarily to knock over a dish full of pastry that Ursula was bringing in. The cakes slid all over the carpet, and some fell upon the Princess’s dress.

“Clumsy fool!” cried Elizabeth, as she started up in a furious rage, and kicked the backside of Ursula, who had stooped to repair her awkwardness, and thus offered a target which was quite alluring. The Princess continued to beat and scold the serving maid for many minutes more. At last, she calmed down, while Ursula wept, groaned and rubbed her hinder parts.

“Begone, whimperer!” the Princess shouted, as she pounded on the table with her fist. “By my faith, considering that this is the way in which all these wenches behave, they deserve that I should have them whipped.”

“Why not do so, dearest?” replied Adelgonda. “It would amuse us, and I am sure the Abbot would not find such chastisement useless, nor tiresome to look upon. Do you not agree with me, my lord Abbot? But where is he?”

“Yes! Where is he?” echoed the Princess.

“The Abbot,” said one of the ladies maids, “left the table at the very moment your Highness was beating Ursula.”

“Oho! Perhaps he feels sympathy with this minx?”

“Perchance he does not like to see maid servants thus beaten.”

“Then he may leave the castle, for I do not find that gentleness is good for governing a household. Meanwhile, I have a wish to see him. I will see him, do you hear? He must come hither to me. Bring him here by main force, and at once. You hearken to me, Grethe and Jettchen!”

The two serving girls left the hail, and remained so long absent that the Princess grew uneasy.

“What can they be about? Think you that our confessor has so forgot himself as to take indecent liberties with these girls?”

“Just now you boxed poor Lenchen’s ears,” remarked Adelgonda, “because she lacked respect for our Abbot, but methinks you are following her lead at present.”

“My dear girl,” rejoined the Princess, “he is not with us; thus we can speak of him at our ease. Moreover, I may tell you that I respect his vestment, but I am not bound to venerate his personality, whose qualities are unknown to me.”

“How superstitious you are, dear!”

"Oh! you are a heathen!”

“But perhaps less impious than you. You take a fancy to certain devotions; but have you religious feelings? That is what I ask myself. You give way to your temper with ferocity that affrights me. That might be excusable if you showed repentance.”

“You cannot tell whether I repent or not. The simple truth is that I have a violent disposition, which is difficult for me to moderate. But you often set down to passionate fury what is but a tendency to exact obedience and the will to repress—in short, nothing but what is quite reasonable.”

“Was it reasonable to buffet Lenchen’s cheeks?”

“The girl deserved it. See how quiet she is now.”

“That was true, for Lenchen, her cheeks scarlet, and with swollen lids, did not dare lift her eyes off her plate.”

The Princess glanced at her with satisfaction, and smiled.

“And what about luckless Ursula?” continued Adelgonda.

“She is mutinous,” said the Princess, “and I am taming her!”

“You will kill her one of these days!”

“My dear, did I listen to you. I should get no one to obey me. Besides, you are cruel too.”

“How could I learn to be softhearted in your company? You are ferocious, by premeditation, refinement, and instinct.”

How now! You hold a good opinion of me.”

“But I love thee none the less, dear heart,” said Adelgonda, as she kissed the naked breast of the Princess. She in return, passed her hand over her imposing foundations, pressing Adelgonda’s posteriors lovingly.

“But what are my maids about?” exclaimed Elizabeth. “Aha! at last!” she added, seeing the couple re-enter the dining hall. “Why are you so tardy?”

“We begged my lord Abbot to come,” said Grethe.

“You were not to supplicate, but to order him hither.”

“He won’t,” replied Jettchen.

“What mean you-he won’t?”

“He says that he will wait until your Highness goes and visits him in his apartment.”

“Then he will have wait a very long while!”

“The boor!” said Adelgonda. “He deserves a lesson.”

“Suppose 1 went to see him all the same?” rejoined the Princess, hesitatingly, as she seemed to consult her friend. “This eccentric fellow puzzles me.”

“Dearest, go not to him, you will dishonour yourself in his eyes.”

“No, no! I will go!” she cried, as he rose.

“I shall have some fun. I will tell you all about it.”

She arrived at the Abbot’s quarters, merrily laughing and quite at her ease.

“Well now, my dear lord Abbot, whatever is the matter?”

Then she perceived that the Abbot was seated in an easy chair, and was touched to the quick that he had not risen to greet her, but there were more surprises in store.

“Shut the door,” he said. “It is not seemly that we should be overheard.”

When, after a moment’s hesitation, she had obeyed this order, he said:

“Madam, you ought to understand how astonished I am to find that on the very night of my arrival, you allow me to be the witness of such violent outbursts and assaults.”

“My lord Abbot,” replied the Princess, quite confused, “I assure you that sometimes severity is needed for young girls and serving wenches.”

“In all that took place just now there was no severity, but rage and wickedness quite unworthy of you. Be perfectly sure that I shall never show myself again in your company unless you promise to be, at least in my presence, more tender calmer, and mistress of your passions.”

The Princess gave an angry toss of her proud head, and asked herself if she ought not to have such an eccentric chaplain kicked out of the Seebenstein gates, but the priest’s fixed, coldly authoritative glance overawed her.

“I promise,” she said, hesitatingly, and as if in spite of herself.

“I am willing to believe you,” he replied, but having erred, you must be punished. Come nearer.”

The Princess approached slowly, still under the domination of the priest’s glance, subjugated by his will-power, so much stronger than her’s, and which she felt weighed her down.

“On your knees!” he ordered.

There was no cushion, nor carpet, and it was with extreme anxiety that Elizabeth Bathory asked herself inwardly what she ought to do and if it would not have been proper for her to resist such fantastical commands, when Thurzo the Abbot drew her close to him with humiliating familiarity, and pressing his hands on the Princess’s shoulders, easily succeeded in prostrating her at his feet.

“Bend down,” said he severely, as he saw the Princess still held her head erect.

A tremor passed through her frame, but she bowed her head, not being able to divine what penance would be imposed upon her. The Abbot allowed her to guess at it, by the way in which he still pressed upon her proud shoulders, as with all his might and main he inclined the upper part of her body towards the legs of the armchair, but she could not escape the threatened punishment, or perhaps she had not sufficient power of will to do so.

Thurzo the Abbot, having seized three small, thorny, and supple twigs, began to strike vigorously upon the two vast disks that the Princess, in her awkward posture, presented to the priest. Hurried, but firm strokes fell upon her crupper, of which the luminous silk of the tight and narrow skirt did not suffice to hide the curves, but even revealed the secret valley, which by its dark shade divided this brilliant moon into two equal parts. As she felt the smart of the first cuts, the Princess tried to rise.

“Oh no! Not that, not that!” she exclaimed in a real rage. “Let me go! This I cannot allow!”

Nevertheless she received the swishing strokes the Abbot counted out for her, about a dozen, that the slight protection of her dress did not prevent her from feeling. Finally, finding herself no longer held down, she rose up again, dishevelled, tears in her eyes, her skirts crumpled, and her mouth dry and feverish.

“What an indignity!” she murmured, and fled rapidly, while the Abbot did not even deign to leave his armchair.

Adelgonda was waiting for her in the great hall.

“Well, what happened?’

Elizabeth replied not a word, and shut herself up in her apartments, which astonished Adelgonda, and then caused her to smile. The Princess often passed her nights with her cousin and Ursula, pretexting that not being alone she was less frightened of the numerous ghosts of Seebenstein. But it was rumoured that when the three women were together they slept but little. They were very fatigued upon awaking; the bed next morning looked as if it had been occupied by a horde of barbarians; and it was said that muttered sounds as of kisses had been heard in the darkness.

This time Elizabeth threw herself face downwards on her bed, and hiding her head in the pillows, as if she feared all light and sound, gave free vent to her grief. The acute burning pains which she felt all over her big posteriors were as nothing compared to the shame that had been forced upon her. A miserable unknown priest had dared to whip her, upon whom neither her father, severe though he was, nor her girl lovers, ofttimes jealous, had ever ventured to Jay a finger; she had been fustigated—the high-born dame; the rich and powerful Princess. But she had allowed it. What had come to her pride and will? Of course she understood that a priest is God’s deputy, and that a whipping inflicted by him is not the same thing as ordinary violence. But no matter, a Princess of her rank and station should not put up with such penances, even at the hands of her confessor.

First, she thought of sending him away, but she had had such trouble to find a chaplain. Besides, might he not go and tell all over Vienna, in the houses where he visited, how he had treated proud Princess Bathory? She would become the laughing-stock of all the
aristocracy. The best thing to be done was to keep him, and to send him to Coventry for a little while, humiliating him, and teazing him in a thousand little pin-pricking ways as a punishment. To all appearances he would put up with all this, and would become more gentle. Being poor, he doubtless desired to keep on receiving the ample salary she doled out to him. And what a bad effect it would have for him if he left a castle almost as soon as he had entered it. This last thought nursed her to sleep, after having uttered a cry of fury when dropping her petticoat, she was obliged to note that the freshly-gathered twigs had left greenish traces on her dress behind.

“This shall cost him dear!” she inwardly exclaimed.

The next morning at mass, the chaplain was alone with his respondent. The Princess had forbidden all her domestics to assist, but the Abbot did not appear to notice that the chapel was empty. At meal-times, the Princess talked a great deal, but without once addressing a word to Thurzo. When he spoke, no one replied. While serving the repasts, domestics spilt wine or sauce on his clothes, as if by accident. His face lost none of its placidity.

These hostile and aggressive ways lasted one whole week. At the end of that time, the priest summoned Ursula, and she continued to salute him with respect, despite the Princess’s prohibition. He told her that he wished to see her mistress.

“Her Highness is not in her room,” said Ursula.

“Has she gone out?”

“No,” replied Ursula. “She is doubtless in the privy.”

Ursula could not refrain from smiling at the idea that such a proud Princess should be a slave to these vulgar needs.

“Well then,” said the Abbot, quite seriously, “go and fetch her. I would speak with her without further delay.”

Ursula laughed no longer. What a fearful command for her to have to execute! Nevertheless she went to the privy, which was situated in the castle courtyard, and knocked at the door, saying timidly:

“My lord Abbot desires to see your Highness at once.”

“What mean you by ‘at once’?”

“Verily, he said he would not wait.”

“Great heaven!”

Although the Princess poked fun at the priest, she was greatly agitated when he gave an order, even if it was only Ursula repeating it.

“Princess,” said the priest, appearing in the middle of the courtyard, and speaking in front of all the servants, “I await you in my apartment.”

She followed him at once. Vainly did she jeer at him when he was absent, it sufficed that she heard his grave and authoritative voice to feel her pride subjugated.

As soon as they were in the apartments, the Abbot closed the door, and said in a tone of irritation, but without lifting his voice:

“Will you please tell me, madam, why you caused me to come to your castle?”

“To be my chaplain—you know that very well.”

It was with a mutinous tendency that she laid stress upon the “my” which showed what she thought of her power on her estate.

“A chaplain is not a buffoon,” he replied.

“It is not the man you have insulted, but God Himself.”

“Pardon!” said she, beginning to tremble.

“You wished to be revenged on me for having chastised you. You tried to punish me. But try first to punish yourself for your own sensuality.”

“My lord Abbot!” she cried imploringly, “I beg you to grant me your pardon. I am full of repentance, I assure you.”

“You do not repent at all,” he replied, “but you are afraid—ay, afraid of the penance you deserve, and which I am about to inflict upon you.”

“I crave your clemency!” she exclaimed.

“Ask your own self for pity. Each of your errors brings its own repression. For the last eight days, you have humiliated and overwhelmed with ignominy a servant of Jesus—a priest! All this matters little as far as the man is concerned, but out of respect for the vestments I wear, I cannot suffer such an insult to pass. Therefore I command that you serve me to-night at dinner.”

“Oh, my lord Abbot!”

“You will wait upon me, or I leave the castle.”

“At ny rate,” she said, “let there be none but us in the dining-hall.”

“Your cousins and the serving maids shall be present. In their presence did you humiliate a priest. Now shall you honour him before their eyes.”

She had been in fear of a worse penance, and was almost pleased that the Abbot had spared it her, but she thought herself free too soon.

“Now kneel before me, for the other penance,” said Thurzo.

This was a cruel surprise for her. She grew pale and shuddered.

“Oh! my lord Abbot, tell me that it will not be like the first time?” she asked, her eyes dilated with anguish.

“It will be a little more severe.”

“Oh, my God!” she exclaimed, and was about to kneel, resigned and mastered, when he said to her:

“But beforehand, take off your skirt!”

“That I will not do! You will never force me to that!” and she seemed as if breaking out into open revolt.

The priest’s eyes sparkled.

“Shall I do it for you?”

“Dare to do so!” she replied, her fists clenched, her head thrown back, her lithe body erect and straining, in readiness to defend herself.

“Your servants shall help me, if I cannot get the better of you alone, sacrilegious woman!”

The word “sacrilege” shattered at once all Elizabeth’s ideas of resistance.

“My father,” said she submissively, “I will do whatever you want of me, but I conjure you, do not force me to disrobe before you at this moment.”

“Why do you not wish to undress now?”

“Because—because I am not-not in a fit state to show myself to you.”

“Are you uneasy about me or yourself?” he asked. “Methinks it is more coquetry that troubles you than pudicity. Perchance wish you to seduce me? But if your flesh should not appear to-day in its usual brilliancy, or accompanied by its customary perfume, will not that be quite natural and in keeping, since it is unveiled merely to do penance, and to lower proud feelings all the better?”

She did not resist, for she was broken in spirit, crushed beneath the burden of shame. She unfastened her skirt and petticoat herself, but with what awkward slowness! Meanwhile a bitter scent hovered about her more and more, reminding the priest, not of voluptuous feminine furbelows, but of the secret spot where the Princess had been seated a few moments before.

“Off with your drawers now!” was the next order of the confessor.

She looked up with an imploring glance, but the Abbot was in no humour to pardon.

Naked, save her chemise and stockings, she fell across the priest’s armchair, hiding herself as much as possible, in the dishevelled tresses of her luxuriant hair. Suddenly, he lifted her filmy last garment, of soft silk, and remained as if dazzled at the sight of the divided fleshly circle, so solid, vast; the fair skin tightly stretched over its surface, and so beautifully rotund. The sepia-like hue that threw its shade over the deepest recesses of her body, and the strong odour that arose therefrom, far from being repugnant, seemed to delight him, as if it reminded him of the rind and perfume of some favourite fruit. He experienced such a craving to press and embrace these superb buttocks, that he could not refrain from opening the slightly sullied cheeks, and even went so far as to slide his linger to the verge of the impure orifice. She shuddered, and half turned her head. Thurzo, to prevent her suspecting anything, was obliged to seize the birch hurriedly, and risking to draw blood, strike pitilessly on the spot which was so delicate and which he was tempted to caress. Astounded at such an unexpected and brutal blow, she gave a start of pain, uttered a shriek, and her eyes filled with tears.

“Oh, not there! For pity’s sake! ‘Tis odious!”

The priest then began to swish at her big buttocks, but now and again, much more gently than the first time, he returned to the dark valley, seemingly amusing himself by searching there with the ends of the sharp twigs, and probably pleased at the bounds and starts, writhings and wrigglings of his victim. Now and again, convulsive movements of agony caused the lovely mountain of flesh to upheave, and all sombre shadows faded away. The two cheeks now only formed an enormous broad bottom, red all over. In the place of the shady streak, the purple eyelet hole was stretched to bursting, as if ready to give some salute of mocking indecency. But the Abbot hardly had time to contemplate the sudden transformation, when the reddish-mauve aperture disappeared; the valley grew deep again, the magnificent bottom was once more divided into two equal parts, and the priest, furious, one might have thought, at such a sudden change, began to birch her more vigorously than ever.

Drops of blood, like heavy rubies, trickled down the thighs, falling in a carmine shower from the fiery moon, whose bruises; and red, pink, and violet marks were enhanced more strangely by the milky fairness of the other parts of the Princess’s body.

“I pardon you!” at last said the cruel chaplain, throwing down the birch-rod.

She rose, shaken from head to foot by long and heavy sobs, and getting into her drawers, petticoat, and dress, went out of the Abbot’s quarters.

“Will you come for a ride on horseback?” asked Adelgonda, as the Princess went back to her own apartments.

“Yes,” she answered, “by and by.”

Half an hour afterwards, she reappeared, not wishing that anyone should guess she had been punished. It would have been difficult to detect how she had suffered and wept, while the priest, at his window, could see his penitent victim riding her prancing steed, between Adelgonda and Lenchen. Her vast posteriors, encased in an emerald-green riding habit, spread themselves over her saddle with such reposeful majesty, that it was impossible to guess that a painful birching onslaught had just bruised them all over. But the effort she was obliged to make to hide her pain, exhausted all her energy. When she came home, she went to bed, and did not appear at dinner. Thus she did not have to wait upon the Abbot in public.

From that day forth, when the priest was present, she showed herself so gentle with her maids, Adelgonda, and Lenchen, that they were astounded. She also attended mass with exemplary assiduity, and frequented the chapel regularly. She confessed weekly, and Thurzo remarked that she never made any avowals of violence, fury, cruelty, or pride. She only accused herself of being a prey to the obsession of lust, from which she could not escape. What was strange, was that every two or three nights, she shut herself up in her apartments with Adelgonda, Lenchen, and Ursula, when, despite the thickness of the walls and the hangings masking every door, a noise was heard that the servants called the song of the witches’ sabbath. It was a weird chorus formed of groans, moans, cries of pleasure and tortured shrieks; with now and again the tumult of a combat, as if a struggling woman became finally mastered.

One day, a pantry-maid praised the Princess’s beneficent kindness as shown to her, remarking how her mistress had changed for the better of late, but a comrade—lady’s maid to Elizabeth Bathory—shrugged her shoulders, as she said:

“She restrains herself before the Abbot because she is frightened of him, but as soon as his back is turned, she makes us pay dearly for her forbearance. If you had been to the privy with Ursula, as I did, you would have seen the poor girl’s backside. Soon, she will not be able to sit down at all. Do I not speak the truth, Ursula?”

That poor serving wench bent her head and blushed without vouchsafing a reply.

“Then there is poor little Lenchen! She receives more cuts daily than a grenadier could support.”

The plain truth of the matter was that the penances of the Abbot Thurzo, instead of softening the Princess’s pride, served only to cause it to rise up in revolt. Now she was full of cruelty, which refused to be satiated. It appeared to her that by dint of shame and tortures inflicted upon others, she would forget those that had been imposed upon her, and so reconquer the feeling of power she had lost.

Her cruelties had another kind of reason and the Abbot was destined soon to discover what that was. One day, a timid knock was heard at his door. He came and opened it. Then he caught sight of Lenchen, out of breath, her hair in disorder, her short skirts all crumpled. The chaplain also noticed that her eyes were red, and her cheeks scarlet and shining, as if she had wept much.

“I am very unhappy,” she said to the Abbot, who was rather surprised at seeing her, “and as nobody here will listen to me, Ursula being as wretched as I am, I have come to you. You, perchance, may take pity on me!”

“I feel compassion towards all suffering, my dear little Lenchen,” rejoined the priest, “and you particularly inspire me with too much sympathy not to make me try to relieve you in your misfortune as far as it is possible for me to do. Sit there, near me, and tell me what brings you to my side.”

“This is what it is,” said she. “I really think she wants to kill me.”

“Kill you? But who could desire your death, my dear child?”

“Elizabeth!”

“What!—the Princess, your cousin?”

“She is not my cousin,” Lenchen went on; “only my half-sister. My father had me with a servant-maid of the castle who died bringing me into the world. He loved me very much, and in his will that Ursula has seen, he bequeathed me part of his fortune. Elizabeth has always hidden this document from me, having perhaps destroyed or made away with it; besides, she has never spoken to me of our real relationship. For everybody, I am but her cousin. She would be pleased if some misfortune should befall me. Most likely she will not wait till then. She is quite capable of murdering me, even as she massacred your predecessor, the poor old chaplain. She used to beat him with her saddle-girths. He lost his life under her blows in this very room. See, there, where you may view the trace of bloodstains. The martyr fell against the wall, where the imprint of his hand still remains, and he was quickly buried and by stealth. Know you why she murdered him? Simply because my father on his deathbed asked to see me before he expired, having moreover charged the unfortunate priest to reveal to me the secret of my birth. I learnt all this later from Ursula, who is cognizant of things that my sister thinks she alone knows. What Elizabeth would like is that I should die of grief brought on by illtreatment. Fancy! she would come into all my fortune. Besides—but this is extraordinary—she is jealous of me.”

“Jealous of you?”

“Yes, yes! She says that 1 am pretty—oh! not to me, but she has told other people so, and when I am talked about, when anyone looks at me, she flies out in fearful fits of temper. She wishes she was the only pretty woman in the world, and thus hating me, she tortures me every day. Not a week passes but what I am whipped. Yet I am over fifteen. I am no longer a little girl! I don’t think I am very wicked. This morning, I Fell down, while strolling, and dirtied my dress a little. She threw herself madly upon me, boxed my ears, and as I answered her, she struck me again, and tried to beat me with a handful of twigs. But you may guess that I defended myself. So then she called Adelgonda, and both together they whipped me until the blood came. Look and see that I tell no lies!”

Poor little Lenchen’s petticoats had been so often lifted, and she had been taught so few lessons of chastity, that she uncovered her darling, tiny bum quite naturally, and without the least shamefaced hesitation. Truly, however, a priest is somewhat like a doctor, and all lascivious ideas awakened by the sight of these lovely charms were bound to fade away and be forgotten beneath Lenchen’s numerous scars, and the bleeding wound that could be seen where the fleshy half-moons were divided. But what caused the Abbot to marvel was that from the joins to the thighs there was not a spot unmarked with what looked liked a pattern of tiny, round knobs in bold relief. He asked her the meaning of this.

“The reason is,” she said, “because Elizabeth beats me with a woden spade pierced with little round holes, which she also uses for Ursula and the other wenches, and each time this colander-like instrument of torture comes down on one’s skin it brings up big blisters. My sister always says to me and the other girls she strikes in the same way: ‘You wont be inclined now to show your backsides to the men, you nasty, dirty sows!’ She pretends she is punishing us for an alleged indecent act we were supposed to have committed during the summer. I had been out bathing with Ursula and the other girls. When we wished to leave the water, we were a little time before we could find our clothes, and some roguish lads accidentally passing by, amused themselves by looking at us from a distance. No doubt we were guilty of imprudence, but is that such a crime, and does not Elizabeth do much worse when she gives her orders to her steward or coachman while she is stark naked at her toilet?”

The Abbot promised Lenchen to persuade the Princess not to beat her any more, and indeed, for a few days, neither Lenchen nor Ursula had to complain of being misused.

Then the Princess ceased all restraint over herself, and began once more to whip her sister and her maid.

It may be asked why the Abbot Thurzo remained in the house of a woman who seemed to fear him, but who never ceased declaring to all about her that she detested him. Did he hope to convert her? She had no sooner left the confessional, or the altar steps, than she could be seen giving way with the greatest freedom to her passions of lechery and violence. Her superstitious devotion, far from excusing her vices, was more of an insult to religion, the sacred character of which she compromised by her assiduity as far as pious practices were concerned, mingled with her steadfast attachment to the most odious sensual passions.

*
* *

Towards the end of September, shortly before leaving Seebenstein to return to Vienna, the Princess gave a grand party to which she invited the noble families of the surrounding districts. These festivals of Seebenstein were original and peculiar inasmuch as no men were ever invited. Women, or young girls, danced with each other. Their mothers, out of sheer simplicity, or having but an imperfect knowledge of their hostess’s habits, found this sexless ball much more respectable and decent than ordinary dancing assemblies.

The dances in the drawing-rooms were accompanied by a rustic ball in the courtyard for the servants and the peasants. There could men be seen, as the Princess was unable to do without a coachman, butler, head cook and other male domestics, but her ladies’ maids were expressly forbidden to dance, or even to show themselves there. All four of them had to remain in the vestibule leading to her apartments.

A vast crowd of guests had arrived in the reception rooms. There could be seen luxurious tresses drawn up to show white napes of necks sparkling with diamonds; or heavy, long, fair or chestnut curls floating as far as the loins ; gauzy muslin dresses, or silken robes forming stiff, unwilling, rich folds. In the midst of the yard, lit up by lanterns, were white woollen skirts, silk aprons embroidered in yellow and red, and the hair was tied up with handkerchiefs of a thousand multicoloured designs.

The Princess danced but little, and it seemed as if her thoughts were far away. The year before, she had been seen to throw herself upon a young girl who pleased her, tearing her away from her mother and sisters, waltzing, and turning giddily with her all the evening. As if by accident, she had coaxed her with rapid, cunning caresses, which seemed singular by dint of repetition: fingers slipping far below the waist; hands furtively sliding between the thighs; breasts panting and rubbing against a childish bosom—finally, incapable of controlling her desire, she had dragged the innocent girl to her own bed, where she had little trouble in putting all resistance to sleep, and forcing her to endure her weird whims.

But this time she seemed indifferent to the dancing lasses, and her mind was full of grave cares. She left the ball every moment, going and glancing in the vestibule, where the maids were. Once or twice she went down into the courtyard, looking all about her, as she passed in the midst of the village merry-go-rounds. At last, she went upstairs, as far as the apartments of the Abbot Thurzo, flattened her ear against his door, and then, returning to her serving-maids, she told one of them to go at once and fetch the chaplain.

When the priest appeared, she did not rise from the armchair where she was seated, and imitated, in a way, the priest’s own attitude when she had been to visit him.

“Aha! my lord Abbot, there you are at last!” she exclaimed in mad, passionate rage. “Do you think I have engaged you here in my castle to debauch my serving wenches? Oh! do not feign such surprise. I know that Ursula is in your room, and this is not the first time she has gone there.”

“Did I debauch you, during the two visits you made me?” replied the Abbot smiling.

The Princess grew scarlet with passion.

“I will not have my maids visiting you. If they want advice, or need to make the avowal of some sin, let them kneel in the confessional. Moreover, in future, they shall ask their rule of conduct of another confessor. Ah! ah!” she continued, noticing that the priest had started, “you did not think I should send you packing so soon, my lord Abbot ?”

“I had made up my mind to go,” he replied. “After what Ursula told me.”

“Soho! You have gained her confidence, and you have secrets together. You have not lost your time, that I paid for. Since when is she your mistress?”

“She came not to me as a seductress, but as an unfortunate woman, complaining and asking for pity.”

“You do well to tell of that. She will not be seated on a bed of roses this night, and will not sleep with her door open. I will teach her to go and complain of her mistress. A careful flogging and a locked cell-that is what awaits her.”

“It is you who are about to be chastised,” he said, “and at once, for your cruelties and your crimes.”

So saying, he seized her violently by the hair.

She had no time to manifest her astonishment or to try any kind of resistance. Her magnificent fair locks came unbound, and rolled instantly away from her brow, becoming a chain, a torturing impediment, instead of the admirable ornament they had just been. Her buttocks, which had seemed glued to the cushions of the armchair, were forced away, torn from the seat; and the Princess, bent down, blinded by the heavy thick tufts of hair that covered her eyes; her neck wounded by two jewelled pins which, having been disarranged, stuck in her flesh, was forced to follow her tormentor where it pleased him to lead her. In this way the Abbot conducted her into her own bedchamber, and suddenly letting go the chain of hair by which he held her, the Princess fell face downwards on her bed. He did not allow her time enough to rise, but mounting on the couch himself, he rode this mutinous mare a-straddle, his face towards her feet, pressing her roughly between his knees, and pressing now and again on her shoulders with a bound, into which he threw all his weight. Bending over her enormous dome, luminous beneath her silken ball-dress, he deftly pulled up all that veiled it: petticoats, skirts, and light chemise. He pulled open, and pushed down to the andes her small drawers. Her twin mountains of flesh appeared so close one to the other that their shadowy valley was hardly to be seen. The Abbot leant over as if to inhale the aroma rising therefrom.

“Good!” said he. “Your backside is perfumed to-day. You doubtless expected my caress, or perhaps some other far less brutal.”

The Princess did not reply, but clenched her teeth, and closed her fists in impotent rage.

At last the Abbot, who was looking about for some weapon with which to strike this haughty crupper, suddenly perceived on a small table within his reach, the spade of agony, its holes sticky with congealed blood, which served to torture Lenchen and Ursula. When the Princess felt the first blows of this fearful instrument, she shivered, bounded, and writhed to such an extent that the Abbot fancied for a moment his wicked mount was about to throw him off her back. Nevertheless, he was able to hold her and strike her at his ease. She then set about groaning and shrieking in such wise that she was heard as far as the ball-room, which however was far enough away. Adelgonda and a few friends recognising Elizabeth’s voice, grew uneasy, and rushed out together with thes erving lasses who had remained in the vestibule. As they opened the door, they saw the vast and massive backside, all bare, crimsoned already and studded with blisters, framed round with the priest’s black robe, and surmounted by his bust. The Abbot flourished the instrument that the Princess called with barbarous irony, “the draughtsman,” and it could be seen that for a man unused to wielding such a weapon, he managed to handle it pretty well.

“What is the matter? What are you about?” exclaimed all the women.

“I am correcting the Princess,” the Abbot simply replied, without changing his posture, or interrupting his shower of chastising blows.

“She would, I fancy, be grateful to you, if you would kindly withdraw. I never thought of inflicting a public penance upon her.”

Adelgonda knew what narrow frontiers lay between cruelty and pleasure; and she did not think for a moment that Thurzo was really punishing the Princess. So she was more amused than frightened at the sight. But the other young girls appeared to be suffocating with fear and shame at the view of this flagellating penance which was so shameless and humiliating that they thought an abominable sin must have given rise to it. As for the serving maids they were right joyous to see their mistress thus treated. Few of the women, notwithstanding, hurried to leave the bedchamber. To get them to go, the Abbot was obliged to turn round a little, bend his head down towards the Princess and apprise her that her shrieks had drawn quite a large audience.

“Is it your wish that these ladies should remain to hear you?” he asked, “or would you prefer that they should go away?”

“Let them be gone! Let them go!” she repeated, in the midst of her moaning, her voice half smothered by her hair and the skirts of the Abbot’s gown that covered her face.

At a sign from the chaplain they went away whispering. They had hardly departed, when Thurzo, judging that the guilty bottom had been seared enough, slipped off the bed, and threw the spade out of window. He was still standing in the recess of the casement, when the Princess, who was quickly on her feet, struck him in the face.

“Ah!” she cried, “as God’s my witness I have suffered everything at your hands, but this last odious outrage—ah! no! no! I’ll not put up with it!”

“Be quiet,” said the Abbot, holding her fast, powerless to do harm, “be assured that I never had any idea of chastising you before your servants, for I do not pretend to destroy your authority over them. Your shrieks alone brought them hither.”

“And why did you inflict your frightful penance in the very middle of the ball?”

“Your crimes revolted me; and so did all those I have just been told about. The girls who informed me were right to do so. Above all, was I alarmed at those you are planning against defenceless young females. This time I struck you in a rage, with no consideration. The flagellation, however rigorous it may have seemed to you, is notwithstanding out of all proportion to the quantity of iniquitous acts you have committed. For you deserve no childish slapping, and God reserves for you no secret penance, Elizabeth Bathory, but death in public, on the red scaffold, if you continue to lead the same execrable existence. The murder had but one witness whose troublesome revelations you have been able to stifle up to the present, but the assassinations of Lenchen and Ursula will be known to all, of that you may rest assured!”

The Princess had got quite pale; but she tried to hide her emotion.

“So you believe all these stories?” she said, in a disdainful tone.

“They do not seem to be invented, but painfully real, when one has lived a few days in your house.”

“This is too much!” she cried, and seizing a short dagger that hung against the wall, she rushed upon the priest. The Abbot repulsed her assault, and tore the poniard from her, but he could not prevent the Princess from hanging on to his long black garments, while she scratched his hands and face.

This struggle ended in a strange way. The two combatants drew away from each other, each giving vent to a cry. The Princess held a long beard in her hand: that of the Abbot Thurzo, which had remained in her grasp, and the holy man, now with smooth cheeks, no longer appeared as a venerable priest, but had become a young fellow, with fresh red lips, and palpitating nostrils.

“Martin Frankestein!” she exclaimed, with mingled surprise and fear.

“So why feign any longer?” rejoined the false Abbot, as he threw off his grey wig, and let his natural abundant dark hair be seen.

“Oh! sacrilegious man!” she cried, in horror, “who has dared to put on sacerdotal robes so as to penetrate into my castle, to spy into my life, and discover all the secrets of my body! What shame! How could I have abandoned myself to you, unworthy profaner, filthy libertine? I know not what instinct warned me in spite of all that a good priest would never have treated me with such ignominious grossness. How now can I wipe out this outrage? You have seen me naked! Aha! you shall not leave this place alive, I warrant you. I’ll punish such abominable audacity.”

“I will go forth with my life—and witl you,” was his rejoinder.

“Silence, wretch!”

“Did you not confess to me, when quite young girl, that you loved me?”

“A mere joke! I wished to mock at your fatuity, and your foolish pretentions.”

“I have never been able to forget that childish troth. I said to myself that I would possess you in spite of everything, even were I forced to violate you!”

“Monster!”

“Insult me not, but listen. For some time past, I know what you are. In Vienna, you are spoken of as being the most vicious, and even one of the most criminal of all women, whose great name and fortune alone protected from the police. No matter! Your striking beauty had bewitched me. I only saw that, and blind to all the rest, I said to myself that with my energy and will, I would convert you in course of time, cure you of your cruel lusts, and make of you a good, gentle, and loving woman, as nature has decreed. In all your wicked personality there was one side accessible to goodness. You were pious, or rather superstitious, but a clever man could profit by these religious inclinations to drag your vices out of you by sheer force, and drive away the infamous demon who had taken possession of your soul. Thus did I try the experiment. Hearing that you were in want of a confessor, I introduced myself to you. I was able to disguise myself artfully enough and play my part sufficiently well to nourish the hope of remaining by your side. You cannot believe what singular and varied emotions crowded into my brain when forced to inflict a penance. For me it was needful expiation.”

“Oh! infamy! What horror!”

“Ay, I felt certain that your pride required to be lowered, by applying to you, at the age of eighteen, the humiliating punishments that your father, too weak and good, had spared you. It seemed to me that little by little you would lose your superb haughtiness; becoming better, more gentle and humble, and this hope as well as the pleasure of contemplating your gracefulness and your unknown charms and beauties, gave me courage to strike you. But how much would I have preferred to have showered kisses upon you instead of blows!”

“Prithee cease these untimely declarations,” said the Princess, turning away her glance. “They only increase the disgust and hatred with which you inspire me. Believe me when I say that what I suffered at the hands of a priest, because he represents God on this earth, I would endure from no man, father, king, or emperor!”

“Not even from a husband?”

“I shall never have one! Men are too deeply repugnant to me!”

Frankestein gazed at the Princess with sparkling eyes, in which was revealed the flame of fierce will.

“You must be mine,” said he, “and at once!”

She shrugged her shoulders contemptuously, but almost at the same time she uttered a howl of pain. He had seized her hands and squeezed them with such force that he made the bones crack. He bent her down in his vigorous grip, causing her to kneel at his feet.

“Oh, you coward!” she said again and again, choking, furious, and becoming more incapable of resistance every moment that her rage robbed her of ail energy.

He kept her in this posture for some time. When she had no more courage, broken down by fatigue, and had not got the least thought of resistance left, he threw her backwards on the carpet, and brutally tearing her legs wide apart, penetrated into her beautiful body. His kisses and conjunction caused a few thrills to run through her frame, and then she remained impassible.

“You will no longer jeer at me,” said he, with a triumphant smile, “for you cannot disown me now !”

She remained still, her eyes closed, as if fainting. Her face, with its severe features and imperious mouth, was suddenly softened. By reason of the deep embrace, the woman seemed to have become a child again, and Frankestein, standing in front of her, joyfully contemplated this lucky transformation.

Elizabeth however, opened her eyes. She looked down, and saw her petticoat and chemise still thrown back, exposing her naked belly, and on her thigh trembled a drop of blood, like a crimson pearl. Her eyes blazed; all her innate passionate fury returned to her, and at once she sprang to her feet. She clutched the dagger which Frankestein had thrown aside on the table.

“Die, profane wretch!” she cried, as she stabbed him with all her strength.

The blow was well aimed, and Frankestein, his heart profoundly pierced, fell without a word.

Elizabeth, drunk with vengeance, leant over her victim, her heart leaping in her full breast, and radiantly joyful, she followed to the end all the convulsions of death.

When the man moved no more, she heaved a sigh, and seemed delivered of some immense burden. But her joy did not last long. As she dropped her skirts, her fingers were bedewed with blood, in which mingled some other mysterious velvety liquid. Her arms stiffened and stretched themselves out; her contracted lineaments expressed frightful repulsion, as her whole body was throbbing with horror and disgust. She rushed to Frankestein’s corpse, tore the bloody dagger from his wound, and struck her own deathblow with it.

*
* *

Thus, like some virtuous Lucretia, died this criminal Princess, as proud of her virginity, as she was avidious of all lechery, and who wished to curb each and every one beneath the yoke of her beauty without abandoning herself to any.

In the very night of the rejoicings, Ursula discovered the two corpses. After the first moment of stupor and affright had passed over, the news caused a feeling of happiness and relief to most of the guests, for the Princess was more hated than loved.

A few days later, Prince Bathory’s will was found. In it he acknowledged Lenchen as his daughter, and bequeathed all his fortune to her, in case Elizabeth should die before her. The young girl needed no such splendid inheritance to console her for the loss of her sister. The day after the funeral, when the new mistress of Seebenstein received the vassals of her domains, seated in the high oaken armchair of the Bathory Princess, it was remarked that from time to time she could not refrain from rubbing her posteriors, and that, graceful and pretty though she might be, her bearing was far being as solemn as the occasion demanded.

This caused one of the servants to remark:

“She does not weep, but her bottom mourns for her! It is easy to see that her sister’s generosity has left more than one remembrance on her plump backside!”



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