Pleasure

Pleasure by Gabriele D'Annunzio

Book: Pleasure by Gabriele D'Annunzio Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gabriele D'Annunzio
with an almost religious tone, stopping and slipping her arm out from under Andrea’s.
    She paused to listen in this way, standing next to one of the banana palms. Holding her left arm straight out, she put on a glove with extreme slowness. In that pose, the arc of her back appeared slimmer; her whole figure, extended by her train, seemed taller and more erect; the shadow of the plant veiled and almost spiritualized the pallor of her skin. Andrea looked at her. And her clothes, for him, became mingled with her body.
    She will be mine,
he thought, with a sort of elation, as the pathos-filled music augmented his excitement.
She will hold me in her arms, on her heart!
    He imagined bending over and placing his mouth on her shoulder. Was it cold, that diaphanous skin which resembled a delicate milk shot through with a golden light? He felt an intense thrill; and half closed his eyelids, as if to prolong it. Her perfume reached him; an indefinable emanation, fresh and yet heady like a vapor of spices. His whole being was rising up and reaching with unrestrained vehemence toward the stunning creature. He would have liked to surround her, draw her inside himself, suck her, drink her, possess her in some superhuman way.
    Almost compelled by the overwhelming desire of the young man, Elena turned slightly and smiled at him, with such a tender smile, almost so ethereal, that it did not seem to have been expressed by any movement of her lips but rather by the emission of the soul through the lips, while her eyes remained as sad as ever, as if lost in the distance of some internal dream. They were truly the eyes of Night, so enveloped in shadow, such as da Vinci would perhaps have imagined for an allegory after having seen Lucrezia Crivelli 16 in Milan.
    And in the moment that the smile lasted, Andrea felt
alone
with her among the crowd. A huge pride swelled his heart.
    Since Elena made as if to put on her other glove, he begged her softly:
    â€”No, not that one!
    Elena understood, and left her hand naked.
    He had one hope, which was to kiss her hand before she left. Suddenly, in his mind, there arose a vision of the May Fair, when men were drinking wine from the palm of her hand. Again, an acute jealousy stung him.
    â€”Let’s go now, she said, taking his arm again.
    The sonata had ended, and conversations were being taken up again, more intensely. The manservant announced another two or three names, among which that of the Princess Issé, who was entering with small uncertain steps, dressed in Western style, her oval face smiling, candid and tiny like a netsuke figurine. 17 A rustle of curiosity spread throughout the room.
    â€”Good-bye, Francesca, Elena said, taking her leave of the Marchioness of Ateleta. —See you tomorrow.
    â€”Leaving so early?
    â€”They’re waiting for me at the Van Huffels’ place. I promised to go.
    â€”What a pity! Mary Dyce is about to sing now.
    â€”Good-bye. See you tomorrow.
    â€”Take this. And good-bye. Sweet cousin, accompany her.
    The marchioness gave her a bunch of double violets; and then turned to greet Princess Issé, graciously. Mary Dyce, dressed in red, tall and undulating like a flame, began to sing.
    â€”I am so tired! Elena murmured, leaning on Andrea. —Please, would you ask for my fur coat?
    He took the fur from the servant who was holding it out to him. Helping the lady to put it on, he brushed her shoulder with his fingers; and felt her shiver. The entire antechamber was full of valets in different liveries, who were bowing. The soprano voice of Mary Dyce reached them, carrying the words of a ballad by Robert Schumann:
“Ich kann’s nicht fassen, nicht glauben . . .”
18
    They descended the stairs in silence. The servant had gone ahead to call the carriage to the foot of the staircase. They heard the pawing of the horses resounding loudly under the porte-cochère. At every step Andrea felt the light pressure of Elena’s

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