I am very sorry the peasant woman has given you that corset, as otherwise I might at least have seen my little pets without fear of bad dreams."

"But you must not be angry with the good woman, for she knows that a corset is easy to unlace. And I cannot bear to see you sad."

With these words she turned her ardent gaze upon me, and I covered her with kisses which she returned with interest. The country-woman came up to lay the pretty new table, just as I was taking off her corset without her offering the least resistance.

This good omen put me in high spirits, but as I looked at her I saw a shadow passing across her face. I took care not to ask her the reason, for I guessed what was the matter, and I did not wish to discuss those vows which religion and honour should have made inviolable. To distract her mind from these thoughts, I made her eat by the example I set, and she drank the excellent claret with as much pleasure as I, not thinking that as she was not used to it it would put her in a frame of mind not favourable to continence. But she did not notice this, for her gaiety made her look prettier than before, and aroused her passions.

When we were alone I congratulated her on her high spirits, telling her that my sadness had fled before her gaiety, and that the hours I could spend with her would be all too short.

"I should be blithe," said she, "if it were only to please you."

"Then grant me the favour you accorded me yesterday evening."

"I would rather incur all the excommunications in the world than run the risk of appearing unjust to you. Take me."

"So saying, she took off her cap, and let down her beautiful hair. I unlaced her corset, and in the twinkling of an eye I had before me such a siren as one sees on the canvas of Correggio. I could not look upon her long without covering her with my burning kisses, and, communicating my ardour, before long she made a place for me beside herself. I felt that there was no time for thinking, that nature had spoken out, and that love bade me seize the opportunity offered by that delicious weakness. I threw myself on her, and with my lips glued to hers I pressed her between my amorous arms, pending the moment of supreme bliss.

But in the midst of these joys, she turned her head, closed her eyelids, and fell asleep. I moved away a little, the better to contemplate the treasures that love displayed before me. The nun slept, as I thought; but even if her sleep was feigned, should I be angry with her for the stratagem? Certainly not; true or feigned, the sleep of a loved one should always be respected by a delicate lover, although there are some pleasures he may allow himself. If the sleep is real there is no harm done, and if it is put on the lover only responds to the lady's desires. All that is necessary is so to manage one's caresses that they are pleasant to the beloved object. But M---- M---- was really asleep; the claret had numbed her senses, and she had yielded to its influence without any ulterior motives. While I gazed at her I saw that she was dreaming. Her lips uttered words of which I could not catch the meaning, but her voluptuous aspect told me of what she dreamt. I took off my clothes; and in two minutes I had clasped her fair body to mine, not caring much whether she slept on or whether I awoke her and brought our drama to a climax, which seemed inevitable.

I was not long uncertain, for the instinctive movements she made when she felt the minister that would fain accomplish the sacrifice at the door of the sanctuary, convinced me that her dream still lasted, and that I could not make her happier than by changing it into reality. I delicately moved away all obstacles, and gently and by degrees consummated this sweet robbery, and when at last I abandoned myself to all the force of passion, she awoke with a sigh of bliss, murmuring,

"Ah! it is true then."

"Yes, my angel! are you happy?"

For all reply she drew me to her and fastened her lips on mine, and thus we awaited the dawn of day, exhausting all imaginable kinds of pleasure, exciting each other's desires, and only wishing to prolong our enjoyment.

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