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That gifted whore thereupon terminated her recitations with the following passion:
The time has finally arrived, my Lords, to relate the passion of the Marquis de Mesanges to whom, you will recall, I sold the daughter of the unfortunate shoemaker, Petignon, who perished in jail with his wife while I enjoyed the inheritance his mother had left for him. As 'twas Lucile who satisfied him, you will allow me to place the story in her mouth.
"I arrive at the Marquis' mansion," that charming girl told me, "at about ten o'clock in the morning. As soon as I enter, all the doors are shut.
"'What are you doing here, little bitch?' says the Marquis, all afire. 'Who gave you permission to disturb me?'
"And since you gave me no prior warning of what was to happen, you may readily imagine how terrified I was by this reception.
"'Well, take off your clothes, be quick about it,' the Marquis continues. 'Since I've got my hands on you, whore, you'll not get out of here with your skin intact ... indeed, you're going to perish--your last minutes have arrived.'
"I burst into tears, I fall down at the Marquis' feet, but nothing would bend him. And as I was not quick enough in undressing, he himself tore my clothes off, ripping them away by sheer force. But what truly petrified me was to see him thrown them one after another into the fire.
"'You'll have no further use for these,' he muttered, casting each article into a large grate. 'No further need for this mantelet, this dress, these stockings, this bodice, no,' said he when all had been consumed, 'all you'll need now is a coffin.'
"And there I was, naked; the Marquis, who had never before seen me, contemplated myass for a brief space, he uttered oaths as he fondled it, but he did not bring his lips near it.
"'Very well, whore' said he, 'enough of this, you're going to follow your clothes, I'm going to bind you to those andirons; yes, by fuck, yes indeed, by sweet Jesus, I'm going to burn you alive, you bitch, I'm going to have the pleasure of inhaling the aroma of your burning flesh.'
"And so saying he falls half-unconscious into an armchair and discharges, darting his fuck upon the remnants of my burning clothes. He rings, a valet enters and then leads me out, and in another room I find a complete new outfit, clothes twice as fine as those he has incinerated."
That is the account of it I had from Lucile; it remains now to discover whether 'twas for that or for worse he employed the girl I sold him.
"For something far worse," said Desgranges; "I am glad you have introduced the Marquis to their Lordships, for I believe I too shall have something to say about him."
"May it be, Madame," Duclos said to Desgranges, "and you, my amiable companions," she added, speaking to her two other colleagues, "may it be that you speak with greater energy than have I, with livelier images, brighter diction, superior wit, and more persuasive eloquence. 'Tis now your turn, I have done, and I would but beseech Messieurs to have the kindness to forgive me if I have perchance bored them in any wise, for there is an almost unavoidable monotony in the recital of such anecdotes; all compounded, fitted into the same framework, they lose the luster that is theirs as independent happenings."
With these words, the superb Duclos respectfully saluted the company, bowed, and descended from her throne; she next went from alcove to alcove and was generally applauded and caressed by all the friends. Supper was served, Duclos was invited to sit at the table, a favor which had never before been accorded to a woman. Her conversation was quite as agreeable as her storytelling had been, and by way of recompense for the pleasure she had given them, Messieurs named her to be the governor-general of the two harems, and the four friends also made the promise, in an aside, that no matter what the extreme treatment to which they might expose the women in the course of the sojourn, she would always be dealt with gently, and very certainly taken back with them to Paris, where the society would amply reward her for the trouble she had gone to in order to help Messieurs procure themselves a little good cheer. She, Curval, and the Duc so completely besotted themselves at supper that they were practically incapacitated and barely managed, with the expense of much effort, to reach the orgies, which they soon left, allowing Durcet and the Bishop to carry on alone, and betook themselves to the remote boudoir; Champville, Antinoüs, Bum-Cleaver, Therèse, and Louison accompanied them, and one may be perfectly confident that they uttered and had done to them at least as many horrors and infamies as, at their end, their two more sober friends were able to invent.
Everyone repaired to his bed at two in the morning, and 'twas thus the month of November ended, thus came to a close the first phase of this lubricious and interesting holiday, for whose second part we will not keep the public waiting if to our consideration it has kindly received what we have chronicled so far.