How the court of Venus behaved strangely at her
At first there was the fun with the surprise packets
that contained myriads of amusing things, then a general criticism
of the decorations, everyone finding a different meaning in the
fall of a festoon, turn of twig and twist of branch. Pulex, as usual,
bore the palm for insight and invention, and to-night he was more
brilliant than ever. He leant across the table and explained to
the young page, Macfils de Martaga, what thing was intended by a
certain arrangement of roses. The young page smiled and hummed the
refrain of La petite balette. Sporion, too, had delicate
perceptions, and was vastly entertained by the disposition of the
As the courses advanced, the conversation
grew bustling and more personal. Pulex and Cyril and Marisca and
Cathelin opened a fire of raillery. The infidelities of Cerise,
the difficulties of Brancas, Sarmeans caprices that morning
in the lily garden, Thorillieres declining strength, Astartes
affection for Roseola, Felixs impossible member, Cathelins
passion for Sulpilias poodle, Solas passion for herself,
the nasty bite that Marisca gave Chloe, the épilatière
of Pulex, Cyrils diseases, Butors illness, Maryxs
tiny cemetery, Lesbias profound fourth letter, and a thousand
amatory follies of the day were discussed.
From harsh and shrill and clamant, the
voices grew blurred and inarticulate. Bad sentences were helped
out by worse gestures, and at one table, Scabius could only express
himself with his napkin, after the manner of Sir Jolly Jumble in
the first part of the Soldiers Fortune of Otway. Basalissa
and Lysistrata tried to pronounce each others names, and became
very affectionate in the attempt; and Tala, the tragedian, robed
in roomy purple and wearing plume and buskin, rose to his feet and
with swaying gestures began to recite one of his favourite parts.
He got no further than the first line, but repeated it again and
again, with fresh accents and intonations each time, and was only
silenced by the approach of the asparagus that was being served
by satyrs dressed in white muslin.
Clitor and Sodon had a violet struggle
over the beautiful Pella, and nearly upset a chandelier. Sophie
became very intimate with an empty champagne bottle, swore it had
made her enceinte, and ended by having a mock accouchement on the
top of the table; and Belamour pretended to be a dog, and pranced
from couch to couch on all fours, biting and barking and licking.
Mellefont crept about dropping love philtres into glasses. Juventus
and Ruella stripped and put on each others things, Spelto
offered a prize for who ever should come first, and Spelto won it!
Tannhäuser, just a little grisé, lay down on the cushions
and let Julia do whatever she liked.
I wish I could be allowed to tell you what
occurred round table 15 just at this moment. It would amuse you
very much, and would give you a capital idea of the habits of Venuss
retinue. Indeed, for deplorable reasons, by far the greater part
of what was said and done at this supper must remain unrecorded
and even unsuggested.
Venus allowed most of the dishes to pass
untasted, she was so engaged with the beauty of Tannhäuser.
She laid her head many times on his robe, kissing him passionately;
and his skin, at once firm and yielding, seemed to those exquisite
little teeth of hers, the most incomparable pasture. Her upper lip
curled and trembled with excitement, showing the gums. Tannhäuser,
on his side, was no less devoted. He adored her all over and all
the things she had on, and buried his face in the folds and flounces
of her linen, and ravished away a score of frills in his excess.
He found her exasperating, and crushed her in his arms, and slaked
his parched lips at her mouth. He caressed her eyelids softly with
his finger tips, and pushed aside the curls from her forehead, and
did a thousand gracious things, tuning her body as a violinist tunes
his instrument before he plays upon it.
Priapusa snorted like an old war horse
at the sniff of powder, and tickled Tannhäuser and Venus by
turns, and slipped her tongue down their throats, and refused to
be quiet at all until she had had a mouthful of the Chevalier. Claude,
seizing his chance, dived under the table and came up on the other
side just under the Queens couch, and before she could say
One! he was taking his coffee aux deux colonnes.
Clair was furious at his friends success, and sulked for the
rest of the evening.