New York at Christmas; what could be more
glorious? The big tree at Rockefeller Center, the bustles of
Christmas shoppers in search of holiday cheer, carols pouring out
of stores and churches, and the Christmas windows, storefronts
done up in fairy tales of Santa and angels. Santaland at Macy's
was a cacophony of squealing kids, impatient parents, and an
endless stream of carols piped in to mask the noise of long lines
waiting for Santa himself.
Britany Nola had checked out the scene on Saturday afternoon when the lines were the longest and she giggled at the joyous chaos. She didn't have to stay though; she had no intention of waiting in line to see Santa. Oh no, not Miss November, clever girl. She did marvel at the splendor of lights and fluffy snow that made Santaland look like a dreamscape and she made her plans.
That night after the store was closed there she was naked in fake snow with one of the Macy's elves happily banging her. The sound system was cranked up loud but instead of the boring generic carols Britany and her elf were balling to the dulcet and hip sounds of Chris Isaak's Christmas CD.
"Bad little girls, bad little boys, stay up all night, don't get no toys" Chris Isaak warned but Britany didn't care; she gleefully shrieked as her elf rutted into her like a jackrabbit in heat. She was balling in Santaland, what a trip!
The clap of thunder and the flash of lightning surprised her but didn't scare her. Britany was protean in her orgasms; she could come with a cosmic explosion in a super white nova or she could with a lilting flutter of a hummingbird's wing. But she was surprised that she was coming so soon and so strangely. After the thunder and lightning a white light surrounded her in a spiral and for a long moment everything was white as though she were in the crystalline glow of a snowflake.
Then color and space as vast as her imagination. She saw open sky, an ancient sky tinted with silver and gold; but all of the rainbow colors were there disporting their hues in the upper air. She was standing naked on frozen tundra yet the dazzle of lights warmed her skin. The arc that bridges the cold North Pole held no terrors to seize her; but the flashing streamers and shifting lights awed her. She knew exactly where she was.
Wrapping her arms around her naked body, more for comfort than for warmth, she let herself gaze on the bright display of the ever varying, changing hues portrayed in these grand dissolving spectacles.
What power commands the Northern Lights in their steely play?
She watched the magnificence of the sky play over her and she wriggled her toes in the soft snow at her feet and wasn't surprised at all that it wasn't cold. She wondered what the poor elf back at Macy's Santaland was thinking now that the playmate he was balling had been transported to the Real North Pole; for, of course, where else could she be?
The approach of the sled drawn by reindeer held no surprise for her either. She smiled as the jiggle of the bells rippled over the white tundra and engulfed her long before the sled pulled up in front of her.
"Where's Santa?" she asked breezily as two elves helped her scramble into the sled; her soft naked body snuggled into furs on the seat and she wrapped them around her and suddenly the air was crisp and cold and harsh but she was warm and snug under the blanket.
"Oh, he's back at the shop of course," one elf said as he fastened a seatbelt around her waist. "You'll see him soon enough." This elf held the strap of her belt as if he were holding on against a storm and the other elf cracked a whip and the sled took off in a flurry of snow and ice.
While Britany was mildly disappointed that the sled didn't fly she was dazzled by the whirl of speed the reindeers devoted to delivering her up to Santa Claus; they crossed hundreds of miles of tundra in a matter of minutes.
The North Pole wasn't much like Santaland back at Macy's; the real deal had sort of a Candy Cane Kremlin look to it. A door opened and the sleigh rode right in and when the reindeer stopped Britany was immediately surrounded by more elves who carried her and her fur wrap straight to Santa in his workshop.
Elves were everywhere working away on the sorts of toys you'd expect elves to be working on and Santa himself was sitting on a stool at an architect's table with blueprints all over it. On top of the pile though were the two infamous lists: naughty and nice. For some reason Britany gulped.
Santa himself looked jolly enough though. He had on his black boots and red trousers but he wore a red Wallace Beery shirt open at the neck and black suspenders. He gazed at Britany over his reading glasses.
He gazed for a long time, a jolly smile appearing under the lush mustache and beard. Britany grew uncomfortable as his gaze seemed to be for the purpose of deciding which list she would be on.
Damn, I'd kill for a cigarette, she thought to herself and there was abruptly a cigarette in her hand. She took a long drag, luxuriating in a deep infusion of nicotine and she eyed Santa more critically. "I guess that's how you get all the toys out on Christmas Eve," she said, a little skepticism tinged her sultry voice.
As abruptly as it had appeared the cigarette was gone from her hand. She held out her palm and sighed.
"You really should quit those things," Santa said.
Britany shrugged, trying to look nonchalant. Or as nonchalant as possible for a girl just whisked away to the North Pole wearing nothing but a fur blanket over her naked shoulders and standing in front of Santa Claus. "I do what I like."
Santa chuckled. "Really, balling right there in Macy's Santaland?" He seemed more amused than scandalized.
Britany played along. "Well, it wasn't in the window."
Santa snapped his fingers and Britany found herself not in Macy's Christmas window but in the much hipper one uptown on Madison Avenue where Barney's for its holiday windows this year had teamed up with Disney for a bizarre fashion show featuring Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Cruella de Vil, and Goofy. She saw a bunch of kids looking at her, their mouths agape and she pulled the furs from the sleigh around herself for coverage. The kids though were really panicking and pointing in warning. Britany looked behind her and there was a six-foot Goofy dressed in a quasi-military outfit like Michael Jackson. She was amused for a moment because the recognized the designer, Balmain, but then she realized under the tight trousers Goofy was sporting a massive erection. "Shit," she yelled as she backed away but then she realized the kids heard her and she covered her mouth in embarrassment. The fur slid off her nude body and she was now quite a sight in the window. A naked playmate about to be ravaged by an animated character in a store window on busy Madison Avenue. She looked around for a place to run just as Goofy got his arms around her. "Shit," she yelled again.
Then Goofy and the kids were gone and she was back in Santa's workshop, now completely naked again as the fur had been left at Barney's.
Santa leaned back on the edge of his table and enjoyed the view of the lissome and lovely playmate bare before him. Britany blinked, trying to adjust to the sudden change in lighting. "Wow," she said, still working on keeping a cool façade. "You can send me anywhere?" Santa nodded. "What am I thinking now?" she asked slyly.
She was thinking of a book. He couldn't send her into fiction she was certain so she conjured up images of Dostoevsky's The Idiot.
Russian Christmas was always blessed with snow. The beauty of the snow-laden streets of Saint Petersburg seemed to have jumped from a postcard. Britany stood in front of a brick house as the troika pulled away behind her, the bells jangling with each step of the prancing ponies. She looked up at the building and let the candle light flickering in each window warm her soul. She knew exactly where she was and she reviewed the details in her mind.
The flat occupied by Gania and his family was on the third floor of the house. It was reached by a clean light staircase, and consisted of seven rooms, a nice enough lodging, and one would have thought a little too good for a clerk on two thousand rubles a year.
The flat was divided by a passage which led straight out of the entrance-hall. Along one side of this corridor lay the three rooms which were designed for the accommodation of the "highly recommended" lodgers.
Britany counted off the occupants on her fingers. In the family was General Ivolgin, the nominal master of the house, who slept on a wide sofa. Gania was the oldest brother and the tyrant of the family. Colia, Gania's young brother, a schoolboy of thirteen, shared a room with his father. He, too, had to sleep on an old sofa, a narrow, uncomfortable thing with a torn rug over it, his chief duty being to look after his father, who needed to be watched more and more every day.
The prince was given the middle room of the three, the first being occupied by one Ferdishenko, while the third was empty.
But Gania first conducted the prince to the family apartments. These consisted of a "salon," which became the dining-room when required; a drawing-room, which was only a drawing-room in the morning, and became Gania's study in the evening, and his bedroom at night; and lastly Nina Alexandrovna's and Varvara's bedroom, a small, close chamber which they shared together.
In a word, the whole place was confined, and a "tight fit" for the family.
Prince Myshkin, the idiot of the novel's title, was a young fellow, also of about twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, slightly above the middle height, very fair, with a thin, pointed and very light colored beard; his eyes were large and blue, and had an intent look about them, yet that heavy expression which some people affirm to be a peculiarity as well as evidence, of an epileptic subject. His face was decidedly a pleasant one for all that; refined, but quite colorless, except for the circumstance that at this moment it was blushing because of all the arguing going on around him. The entire family was crammed into the drawing room and in the middle of a huge quarrel, the kind of family quarrel that only Russians can have.
The Prince was a sensitive soul and all this raucous arguing made him nervous so he left the room without a word.
A few minutes later he was aware from the noisy voices in the drawing room that the conversation had become more quarrelsome than ever after his departure.
He crossed the salon and the entrance-hall, so as to pass down the corridor into his own room. As he came near the front door he heard someone outside vainly endeavoring to ring the bell, which was evidently broken, and only shook a little, without emitting any sound.
The prince took down the chain and opened the door. He started back in amazement--for there stood Britany Nola. He knew her at once from her photograph.
"So this is Britany Nola," he said, looking attentively and curiously at the luscious playmate. "How wonderfully beautiful!" he immediately added, with warmth. The figure before him was certainly that of an unusually exquisite woman. She was dressed in a black silk dress of simple design and a warm fur cloak over her bare shoulders (Thank you Santa, she thought to herself, for not sending me here naked) and her hair was radiantly blonde and elegantly but simply arranged, her eyes were deep and thoughtful, the expression of her face passionate, but proud.
Both Britany Nola and the Prince gazed at each other in amazement.
"Yes, you are pretty," he said at last, "even very pretty." Britany Nola blushed quietly, unsure what to do next. This was fiction after all.
"So you admire this kind of beauty, do you?" she asked the prince, suddenly. She knew she looked incredibly sexy in the 19th century Russian gown.
"Yes, I do--this kind."
"Do you mean especially this kind?"
"Yes, especially this kind."
"There is much suffering in your face," murmured the prince, more as though talking to himself than answering the question.
"I think you are wandering a little, Prince," Britany Nola decided, after a lengthened survey of his face; and she tossed her hair, haughtily. "And you're on the wrong page."
"What a power!" cried Myshkin suddenly.
"Whom? What power?" asked Britany Nola, crossly.
"Such beauty is real power," said Prince. "With such beauty as yours one might overthrow the world."
Her eyes blazed with anger as she looked at him. She quickly pushed by him into the hall, shouldering him out of her way, and said, furiously, as she threw off her fur cloak: "If you are too lazy to mend your bell, you should at least wait in the hall to let people in when they rattle the bell handle. There, now, you've dropped my fur cloak--dummy!"
Sure enough the cloak was lying on the ground. Britany had thrown it off her towards the prince, expecting him to catch it, but the prince had missed it.
"Now then--announce me, quick!"
The prince wanted to say something, but was so confused and astonished that he could not. However, he moved off towards the drawing-room with the cloak over his arm.
"Now then, where are you taking my cloak to? Ha, ha, ha! Are you mad?"
The prince turned and came back, more confused than ever. When she burst out laughing, he smiled, but his tongue could not form a word as yet. At first, when he had opened the door and saw her standing before him, he had become as pale as death; but now the red blood had rushed back to his cheeks in a torrent.
"Why, what an idiot it is!" cried Britany, stamping her foot with irritation. "Go on, do! Whom are you going to announce?"
"Britany Nola," murmured the prince.
"And how do you know that?" she asked him, sharply. "And how did you recognize me?"
"From the centerfold!"
"Of course, why not? Of course characters in 19th century Russian novels read Playboy. What else?"
"I seemed to imagine you exactly as you are--I seemed to have seen you somewhere."
"I seem to have seen your eyes somewhere; but it cannot be! I have not seen you--I never was here before. I may have dreamed of you, I don't know."
The prince said all this with manifest effort--in broken sentences, and with many drawings of breath. He was evidently much agitated. Britany Nola looked at him inquisitively, but did not laugh. "You know, I think we better fuck as soon as possible."
The Prince nodded, his face anxious with doubt. His story has been the same with every reading but suddenly he didn't know what would come on the next page. Was this chapter always set at Christmas time? Christmas corresponded to a period of the year known as sviatki, a time when pre-Christian Russians feared supernatural forces. They would attempt to divine their intentions or placate them; Britany's intentions were not difficult to divine and he had every intention of placating her.
Outside, below the window of the Prince's room children's voices sweet and tender rose up in song, kolyiadki, the joyful carols of a Russian Christmas. The room itself was rich with the sweet scent of the luscious girl and her aura, redolent with sex, mingled with the aroma of kutya, the sweet porridge made from wheat berries, honey and poppy seeds. It was said to have the magical power to summon spirits at Christmas. Perhaps the Prince thought as he eyed the giddy and delighted nymph swirling in her gown, perhaps she was a Christmas spirit. Thank God for Christmas!
It would have taken an hour for Miss November to squeeze into the many layers that a lady would have worn in the 1850s-stockings, garters, bloomers, chemise, corset, crinoline, petticoats, a shirtwaist and blouse, skirt, vest and bolero jacket but Santa did it with a snap of his fingers. Myshkin, however, had the pleasure of luxuriating in the hedonism of stripping a playmate of all these elegant clothes.
First there was the fur cap. She had stopped swirling and stood at the foot of the bed, her head cocked in inquisitiveness. He approached warily. His long languid fingers undid the ribbon and the sound of the satin relaxing under her chin sent a slight but intriguing spasm of arousal up her spine.
The bolero jacket was tailored tight over her chest; she looked down and watched in awe as his fingers nimbly undid the two stays. While tight and snug over her shoulders and breasts the heavy puffy sleeves were so heavy that the garment slid down her back as she dropped her arms. The silk vest took longer to remove; he worked carefully over each pearl button. She gazed into his amazing eyes, her look telling him how desperate she was for him to ravish her.
Outside the carolers sang out "Dorogoi Dlinnoyu" and for a moment Britany giggled for this old and revered Russian Christmas song she recognized at the pop tune "Those Were the Days." She sang along happily in English, "Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end, we'd sing and dance forever and a day." Myshkin hesitated in his work. Was she mad? But her graceful hands urged him on.
With the vest off the skirt was next. He stepped behind her to undo the ties and never had the act of a belt being loosened around her waist felt so enthralling. The satin of the skirt was voluminous draped over the stiff bustle of the crinoline. As it slid down over to the floor it formed a vast pool of shimmering black at her feet.
The shirtwaist blouse had what seemed to be hundreds of buttons. She wanted him to rip it off and rape her but he worked slowly, almost reverently. When he undid the buttons at her wrists he gently kissed over the soft pulse of her veins and she swooned. As he undid the front his fingers caressed lightly over the shape of her firm breasts still nestled under the corset. Her nipples tingled in exhilaration.
Myshkin was aroused too and he made short work of the ribbons holding the linen petticoat to her waist. For a brief moment she looked like a caged bird in the hoops of the crinoline but with sharp and eager tugs of a few stays and two delicates lifts of her legs as she stepped out of the heavy garment she now stood only in the corset and chemise; for the nineteenth century she was practically naked.
Instead of attacking the hooks of the corset though he dropped to his knees and reached under the flowing fabric of the chemise so he could undo her knee-high boots. Once again she lifted each leg and felt the sensuous pleasure of the soft leather sliding off her skin. She moaned in a tremor of erotic anticipation. She gasped with astonished and exultation as he brazenly pulled the bloomers off her legs as well.
She was barefoot now under the chemise and he rose slowly to stand before her. Once more their eyes locked in challenge. The children outside sang of Snegoorochka, the Snow Maiden, and Britany thought that she too would melt with lust.
The corset was tight over her waist and chest. He turned her around and began to undo the crisscross arrangement of ribbons. Finally the snug grip over her breasts began to loosen and Britany let out a sob of delight. He worked quickly and the ribbons unfurled like quicksilver dancing over glass. And when he was finished instead of stepping to the front, he reached around to unhook the two dozen brass stays; slowly, one at time, they slid open and Britany trembled in his arms as he worked. Finally the heavy garment fell to the floor with a thud.
The thin chemise was soft and delicately draped over the curves of her body. The youthful firmness of her breasts and the arousal of her nipples were obvious in the clinging worship of the linen. Britany stepped away from him and turned to face him so he could drink in the splendor of her body as revealed by the candles burning behind her. She herself undid the ribbons at her throat and she opened the chemise herself and she slid it off her body and presented her lusciously naked body to him.
The song outside was "Ochi Chernye" and Britany's eyes blazed with dark lust. The two may have indulged themselves in an hour's pleasure in slowly stripping the playmate but the coal black fire in the siren's eyes now made it clear that she expected complete ravishment and expected it now. His clothes disappeared in a frenzy of ripping and pulling with plenty of bites and pinches too. They were on the bed, Christmas candles blazing all around them; their naked bodies rolled over the bed covers and their mouths and hands explored flesh and sweetness.
For Britany Prince Myshkin was a perfectly beautiful man and the singular spiritual fascination was derived largely from the image of him projected in the pages of the novel. The moral halo that surrounded the Prince was marked by a total absence of vanity or egoism; he did not seem to possess the self-regarding feelings on which such attitudes are nourished. When his mouth and teeth engulfed each of her breasts and suckled it was not for his own pleasure at all; it as of course heavenly to suck and kiss that sweet flesh but he dedicated his lust to arousing her to greater heights. When his cock pressed into her tightness his entire mind and body were cock and his entire being crushed into her in a fury of fucking to guide her to orgasm. She came in fiery lightning twists and flashes and he gushed into her, his load dancing in a whirling fountain.
They paused for breath; their naked bodies covered in sweat glistened in the candle light and the carolers hummed softly outside. Britany tried to sort out all the images in her mind, Santaland at Macy's and the real Santa's workshop, the lecherous Goofy, and the surprise of being pleasured by Prince Myshkin. Santa was quite a guy and she was relieved that the book she had called to mind wasn't the Story of O.
Britany exclaimed with a resentful and peevish face, like a thoughtless little girl who has had a toy taken away from her. The Prince at once looked surprised and foolish as the light rippled around them. Oh no, Britany thought to herself and she landed on another page.
Prince Myshkin takes Britany for a walk in a section of the city where they never go - the Montsouris Park. Christmas carols fill the air around them After they have taken a stroll in the park, leaving footprints in the thin layer of newly fallen snow; he has brushed the snow off a bench and they have sat together side by side on the edge of a lawn, they notice, at one corner of the park, at an intersection where there are never any taxis, a car which, because of its meter, resembles a taxi.
"Get in," he says.
She gets in. It is Christmas time, and coming up to dusk. She is dressed as O always dresses in the novel: high heels, a suit with a pleated skirt, a silk blouse, and no hat. But long gloves that come up over the sleeves of her jacket, and in her leather handbag she has her identification papers, her compact, and her lipstick.
The taxi moves off slowly, the man still not having said a word to the driver. But he pulls down the shades of the windows on both sides of the car, and the shade on the back window. She has taken off her gloves, thinking he wants to kiss her or that he wants her to caress him. But instead he says: "Your bag's in your way; let me have it."
She gives it to him. He puts it out of her reach and adds: "You also have on too many clothes. Unfasten your stockings and roll them down to above your knees. Here are some garters."
By now the taxi has picked up speed, and she has some trouble managing it; she's also afraid the driver may turn around. Finally, though, the stockings are rolled down, and she's embarrassed to feel her legs naked and free beneath her silk slip. Besides, the loose garter-belt suspenders are slipping back and forth.
"Unfasten your garter belt," he says, "and take off your panties."
She can't look at him so she gazes out the window and watches Christmas lights in windows and wreathes on doors and people bustling in the snow with their burdens of brightly wrapped packages. "Take off your panties," he demands more firmly.
That's easy enough, all she has to do is slip her hands behind her back and raise herself slightly. He takes the garter belt and panties from her, opens her bag and puts them in, then says: "You shouldn't sit on your slip and skirt. Pull them up behind you and sit directly on the seat."
The seat is made of some sort of imitation leather, which is slippery and cold: it's quite an extraordinary sensation to feel it sticking to your thighs. Then he says: "Now put your gloves back on."
The taxi is still moving along at a good clip, and she doesn't dare ask why Myshkin just sits there without moving or saying another word, nor can she guess what all this means to him - having her there motionless, silent, so stripped and exposed, so thoroughly gloved, in a black car going God knows where. He hasn't told her what to do or what not to do, but she's afraid either to cross her legs or press them together. She sits with gloved hands braced on either side of her seat.
"Here we are," he says suddenly. Here we are: the taxi stops on a lovely tree-lined avenue they are plane trees and they are laden with tiny white Christmas lights so the street seems to glow with cheer. Britany is in front of some sort of small private home which can be seen nestled between the courtyard and the snow covered garden, the type of small private dwelling one finds along the Faubourg Saint-Germain. The street lamps are some distance away, and it is still fairly dark inside the car. Outside it is snowing.
"Don't move," Myshkin says. "Sit perfectly still."
His hand reaches for the collar of her blouse, unties the bow, then unbuttons the blouse. She leans forward slightly, thinking he wants to fondle her breasts. No. He is merely groping for the shoulder straps of her brassiere, which he snips with a small penknife. Then he takes it off. Now, beneath her blouse, which he has buttoned back up, her breasts are naked and free, as is the rest of her body, from waist to knee.
"Listen," he says. "Now you're ready. This is where I leave you. Do whatever you're told. If you don't obey immediately, they'll force you to. Your bag? No, you have no further need for your bag. You're merely the girl I'm furnishing. Yes, of course I'll be there."
He then carefully explained that he was going to tie her hands behind her back and blindfold her. That she would then be turned over to the château, where in due course she would be instructed as to what she should do. And, in fact, as soon as she had been thus undressed and bound, they helped her to alight from the car, guided her up a few steps and, with her blindfold still on, through one or two doors. Then, when her blindfold was removed, she found herself standing alone in a dark room, where they left her for half an hour, or an hour, or two hours, I can't be sure, but it seemed forever. Then, when at last the door was opened and the light turned on, you could see that she had been waiting in a very conventional, comfortable, yet distinctive room: there was a thick rug on the floor, but not a stick of furniture, and all four walls were lined with closets. Faintly, perhaps from hidden speakers or perhaps from another room, Christmas carols could be heard but they only distracted Britany as she waited. The door was opened by two women, two young and beautiful women dressed in the garb of pretty eighteenth-century chambermaids: full skirts made out of some light material, which were long enough to conceal their feet; tight bodices, laced or hooked in front, which sharply accentuated the bust line; lace frills around the neck; half-length sleeves. They were wearing eye shadow and lipstick. Both wore a close-fitting collar and had tight bracelets on their wrists.
At this point that they freed Britany's hands, which were still tied behind her back, and told her to get undressed, they were going to bathe her and make her up. They proceeded to strip her till she hadn't a stitch of clothing left, then put her clothes away neatly in one of the closets. She was not allowed to bathe herself, and they did her hair as at the hairdresser's, making her sit in one of those large chairs which tilts back when they wash your hair and straightens back up after the hair has been set and you're ready for the dryer. That always takes at least an hour. Actually it took more than an hour, but she was seated on this chair, naked, and they kept her from either crossing her legs or bringing them together. And since the wall in front of her was covered from floor to ceiling with a large mirror, which was unbroken by any shelving, she could see herself, thus open, each time her gaze strayed to the mirror.
When she was properly made up and prepared - her eyelids penciled lightly; her lips bright red; the tip and halo of her breasts highlighted with pink; the edges of her nether lips rouged; her armpits and pubis generously perfumed, and perfume also applied to the furrow between her thighs, the furrow beneath her breasts, and to the hollows of her hands - she was led into a room where a three-sided mirror, and another mirror behind, enabled her to examine herself closely. She was told to sit down on the ottoman, which was set between the mirrors, and wait. The ottoman was covered with black fur, which pricked her slightly; the rug was black, the walls red. She was wearing red mules. Set in one of the walls of the small bedroom was a large window, which looked out onto a lovely, dark park. The rain had stopped, the trees were swaying in the wind, and the moon raced high among the clouds.
I have no idea how long she remained in the red bedroom, or whether she was really alone, as she surmised, or whether someone was watching her through a peephole camouflaged in the wall. All I know is that when the two women returned, one was carrying a dressmaker's tape measure and the other a basket. With them came a man dressed in a long purple robe, full at the shoulders. When he walked the robe flared open, from the waist down. One could see that beneath his robe he had on some sort of tights, which covered his legs and thighs but left the sex exposed. It was the sex that Britany saw first, when he took his first step, then the whip, made of leather thongs, which he had stuck in his belt. Then she saw that the man was masked by a black hood - which concealed even his eyes behind a network of black gauze - and, finally, that he was also wearing fine black kid gloves.
He told her not to move and ordered the women to hurry. The woman with the tape then took the measurements of Britany's neck and wrists. Though on the small side, her measurements were in no way out of the ordinary, and it was easy enough to find the right-sized collar and bracelets, in the basket the other woman was carrying. Both collar and bracelets were made of several layers of leather (each layer being fairly thin, so that the total was no more than the thickness of a finger). They had clasps, which functioned automatically like a padlock when it closes, and they could be opened only by means of a small key. Imbedded in the layers of leather, directly opposite the lock, was a snugly fitting metal ring, which hallowed one to get a grip on the bracelet, if one wanted to attach it, for both collar and bracelets fit the arms and neck so snugly - although not so tight as to be the least painful - that it was impossible to slip any bond inside.
So they fastened the collar and bracelets to the playmate's neck and wrists, and the man told her to get up. He took her place on the fur ottoman, called her over till she was touching his knees, slipped his gloved hand between her thighs and over her breasts.
Then they made Britany get up and were on the verge of untying her, probably in order to attach her to some pole or wall, when someone protested that he wanted to take her first, right there on the spot. So they made her kneel down again, this time with her bust on an ottoman, her hands still tied behind her, with her hips higher than her torso. Then one of the men, holding her with both his hands on her hips, plunged into her sex. Britany gasped but her body jerked up and thrust against the cock entering her softness. He man rutted and grunted and let loose into her quickly. He yielded to a second. The third wanted to force his way into the narrower passage and, driving hard, made her scream. Still, face down on the ottoman she leveraged her nimble body so she could prod her bottom against the cock lunging in so deep.
When he let her go, sobbing and befouled by tears beneath her blindfold, she slipped to the floor, only to feel someone's knees against her face, and she realized that her mouth was not to be spared. Finally they let her go, a captive clothed in tawdry finery, lying on her back in front of the fire. She could hear glasses being filled and the sound of the men drinking, and the scraping of chair. They put some more wood on the fire. All of a sudden they removed her blindfold. The large room, the walls of which were lined with bookcases, was dimly lit by a single wall lamp and by the light of the fire, which was beginning to burn more brightly. Across from the fireplace in the opposite corner was a Christmas tree and Britany trembled as the aroma of pine wafted over her.
Myshkin had helped her to her feet, still wrapped in her red cape, made her sit down on the arm of an easy chair near the fire, so that she could hear what they had to tell her and see what they wanted to show her. Her hands were still behind her back. They showed her the riding crop, which was long, black, and delicate, made of thin bamboo encased in leather, the kind one sees in the windows of better riding equipment shops; the leather whip, which the first man she had seen had been carrying in his belt, was long and consisted of six lashes knotted at the end. There was a third whip of fairly thin cords, each with several knots at the end: the cords were quite stiff, as though they had been soaked in water, which in fact they had, as Britany discovered, for they caressed her belly with them and nudged open her thighs, so that she could feel how stiff and damp the cords were against the tender, inner skin. Then there were the keys and steel chains on the console table. Along one entire wall of the library, halfway between floor and ceiling, ran a gallery that was supported by two columns. A hook was imbedded in one of them, just high enough for a man standing on tiptoe, with his arms stretched above his head, to reach. They told Britany, supporting her shoulders, and the other in the furrow of her loins, which burned so she could hardly bear it, they told her that her hands would be untied, but merely so that they could be fastened anew, a short while later, to the pole, using these same bracelets and one of the steel chains. They said that, with the exception of her hands, which would be held just above her head, she would thus be able to move and see the blows coming: that in principle she would be whipped only on the thighs and buttocks, in other words between her waist and knees, in the same region which had been prepared in the car that had brought her here, when she had been made to sit naked on the seat; but that in all likelihood one of the four men present would want to mark her thighs with the riding crop, which makes lovely long deep welts which last a long time. She would not have to endure all this at once; there would be ample time for her to scream, to struggle, and to cry. They would grant her some respite, but as soon as she had caught her breath they would start in again, judging the results not from her screams or tears but from the size and color of the welts they had raised. They remarked to her that this method of judging the effectiveness of the whip - besides being equitable - also made it pointless for the victims to exaggerate their suffering in an effort to arouse pity, and thus enabled them to resort to the same measures beyond the château walls, outdoors in the park - as was often done - or in any ordinary apartment or hotel room, assuming a gag was used (such as the one they produced and showed her there on the spot), for the gag stifled all screams and eliminates all but the most violent moans, while allowing tears to flow without restraint.
There was no question of using it that night. On the contrary, they wanted to hear her scream and the sooner the better. The pride she mustered to resist and remain silent did not long endure: they even heard her beg them to untie her, to stop for a second, just for a second. So frantically did she writhe, trying to escape the bite of the leashes, that she turned almost completely around, on the near side of the pole, for the chain that held her was long and although quite solid, was fairly slack. As a result, her belly and the front of her thighs were almost as marked as her backside. They made up their minds, after in fact having stopped for a moment, to begin again only after a rope had been attached first to her waist, then to the pole. Since they tied her tightly, to keep her waist snug to the pole, her torso was forced slightly to one side, and this in turn caused her buttocks to protrude in the opposite direction. From then on the blows landed on their target, unless aimed deliberately elsewhere. Given the way Myshkin had handed her over, had delivered her into this situation, Britany might have assumed that to beg him for mercy would have been the surest method for making him redouble his cruelty, so great was his pleasure in extracting, or having the others extract, from her this unquestionable proof of his power. And indeed he was the first to point out that the leather whip, the first they had used on her, left almost no marks (in contrast to the whip made of water-soaked cords, which marked almost upon contact, and the riding crop, which raised immediate welts), and thus allowed them to prolong the agony and follow their fancies in starting and stopping. He asked them to use only the whip.
When they untied the delicious playmate, she staggered and almost fainted, draped in her red cape.
The two young women who had first received her came in, bearing the clothes she was to wear during her stay and tokens by which those who had been hosts at the château before her arrival and those who would be after she had left, might recognize her. Her outfit was similar to theirs: a long dress with a full skirt, worn over a sturdy whalebone bodice gathered tightly at the waist, and over a stiffly starched linen petticoat. The low-cut neck scarcely concealed the breasts which, raised by the constricting bodice, were only lightly veiled by the network of lace. The petticoat was white, as was the lace, and the dress and bodice were a sea-green satin. When Britany was dressed and resettled in her chair beside the fire, her pallor accentuated by the color of the dress, the two young women, who had not uttered a word, prepared to leave. One of them gestured towards the tree and said to Myshkin, "Santa wanted us to remind you."
The Prince nodded and discovered under the Christmas tree an ornate package with a label in Russian announcing that the gift was for him. Uncertain of that was happening but thrilled by the miracle he opened the flashing wrappings with the zeal of a greedy child. Inside was a strange metallic thing. He held it out to Britany.
"It's a camera," she explained. "A Polaroid camera."
The Prince nodded and as if the gap of 100 years of technology was meaningless he pointed the camera at Britany and snapped a shot of her standing near the Christmas tree.
During the next few hours, Myshkin took some fifty photographs of Britany. He seemed amused by the whirl of the machine, the Polaroid camera spitting out images of this luscious playmate. They were like nothing he had ever seen before. Never, perhaps, had she had such a strange modeling assignment. Anyway, never before had she been able to extract such meaning and emotion from her face or body. And yet all she was aiming for was to make the silks, the furs, and the laces more beautiful by that sudden beauty of an elfin creature surprised by her reflection in the mirror, which Britany became in the simplest blouse, as she did in the most elegant mink. She had short, thick, blond hair, only slightly curly, and at the least excuse she would cock her head slightly toward her left shoulder and nestle her cheek against the upturned collar of her fur, if she were wearing fur. Myshkin caught her once in this position, tender and smiling, her hair gently blown as though by a soft wind, and her smooth, hard cheekbone snuggled against the gray mink, soft and gray as the freshly fallen ashes of a wood fire. Her lips were slightly parted, and her eyes half-closed. Beneath the gleaming, liquid gloss of the photograph she looked like some blissful girl who had drowned, she was pale, so pale. Myshkin held the picture in his hand and gazed in wonder. He had taken another picture of Britany with she found even more stunning: back lighted, it portrayed her bare-shouldered, with her delicate head, and her face as well, enveloped in a large-meshed black veil surmounted by an absurd double aigrette whose impalpable tufts crowned her like wisps of smoke; she was wearing an enormous robe of heavy brocaded silk, red like the dress of a bride in the Middle Ages, which came down to below her ankles, flared at the hips and tight at the waist, and the armature of which traced the outline of her bosom. It was what the dress designers called a gala gown, the kind no one ever wears. The spike-heeled sandals were also of red silk. And all the time Britany was before Myshkin dressed in that gown and sandals, and that veil which was like the premonition of a mask, Myshkin, in her mind's eye, was completing, was inwardly modifying the model: a trifle here, a trifle there - the waist drawn in a little tighter, the breasts slightly raised - smooth, heavy, cascading silk which one takes by the handful and raises whenever one is told to ... Why yes, Britany was lifting it in just that way as she descended from the platform on which she had been posting for the past fifteen minutes. It was the same rustling, the same crackling of dried leaves. No one wears these gala gowns any longer? But they do. Britany was also wearing a gold choker around her neck, and on her wrists two gold bracelets. Myshkin caught himself thinking that she would be more beautiful with leather collar and leather bracelets. He was so glad for the witchcraft that had sent him into this novel. He followed Britany into the large dressing room adjacent to the studio, where the models dressed and made up and where they left their clothing and make-up kits after hours. He remained standing, leaning against the doorjamb, his eyes glued to the mirror of the dressing table before which Britany, without removing her gown, had sat down. The mirror was so big - it covered the entire back wall, and the dressing table itself was a simple slab of black glass - that he could see Britany's and his own reflection, as doing the aigrettes and the tulle netting. Britany removed the choker herself, her bare arms lifted like two handles; a touch of perspiration gleamed in her armpits, which were shaved (Why? Myshkin wondered, what a pity, she's so fair), and Myshkin could smell the sharp delicate, slightly plantlike odor and wondered what perfume Britany ought to wear - what perfume they would make her wear. Then Britany unclasped her bracelets and put them on the glass slab, where they made a momentary clanking sound like the sound of chains. Her hair was so fair that her skin was actually darker than her hair, a grayish beige like fine-grained sand just after the tide has gone out. On the photograph, the red silk would be black. Just then, the thick eyelashes, which Britany was always reluctant to make up, lifted, and in the mirror Myshkin met her gaze, a look so direct and steady that, without being able to detach her own eyes from it, she felt herself slowly blushing. That was all.