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Title: Memoirs of Casanova — Volume 12: Return to Paris
Author: Casanova, Giacomo, 1725-1798
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of Casanova — Volume 12: Return to Paris" ***

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MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798

THE ETERNAL QUEST, Volume 3b--RETURN TO PARIS

THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR MACHEN TO
WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
THE ETERNAL QUEST
RETURN TO PARIS



CHAPTER V

My Fortune in Holland--My Return to Paris with Young Pompeati

Amongst the letters which were waiting for me was one from the
comptroller-general, which advised me that twenty millions in Government
securities had been placed in the hands of M. d'Afri, who was not to go
beyond a loss of eight per cent.; and another letter from my good patron,
M. de Bernis, telling me to do the best I could, and to be assured that
the ambassador would be instructed to consent to whatever bargain might
be made, provided the rate was not more disadvantageous than that of the
exchange at Paris. Boaz, who was astonished at the bargain I had made
with my shares, wanted to discount the Government securities for me, and
I should very likely have agreed to his terms if he had not required me
to give him three months, and the promise that the agreement should hold
even in the case of peace being concluded in the meanwhile. It was not
long before I saw that I should do well to get back to Amsterdam, but I
did not care to break my word to Therese, whom I had promised to meet at
the Hague. I received a letter from her while I was at the play, and the
servant who brought it told me he was waiting to conduct me to her. I
sent my own servant home, and set out on my quest.

My guide made me climb to the fourth floor of a somewhat wretched house,
and there I found this strange woman in a small room, attended by her son
and daughter. The table stood in the midst of the room, and was covered
with a black cloth, and the two candles standing upon it made it look
like some sort of sepulchral altar. The Hague was a Court town. I was
richly dressed; my elaborate attire made the saddest possible contrast
with the gloom of my surroundings. Therese, dressed in black and seated
between her children at that black table, reminded me of Medea. To see
these two fair young creatures vowed to a lot of misery and disgrace was
a sad and touching sight. I took the boy between my arms, and pressing
him to my breast called him my son. His mother told him to look upon me
as his father from henceforth. The lad recognized me; he remembered, much
to my delight, seeing me in the May of 1753, in Venice, at Madame
Manzoni's. He was slight but strong; his limbs were well proportioned,
and his features intellectual. He was thirteen years old.

His sister sat perfectly still, apparently waiting for her turn to come.
I took her on my knee, and as I embraced her, nature herself seemed to
tell me that she was my daughter. She took my kisses in silence, but it
was easy to see that she thought herself preferred to her brother, and
was charmed with the idea. All her clothing was a slight frock, and I was
able to feel every limb and to kiss her pretty little body all over,
delighted that so sweet a being owed her existence to me.

"Mamma, dear," said she, "is not this fine gentleman the same we saw at
Amsterdam, and who was taken for my papa because I am like him? But that
cannot be, for my papa is dead."

"So he is, sweetheart; but I may be your dear friend, mayn't I? Would you
like to have me for a friend?"

"Yes, yes!" she cried, and throwing her arms about my neck gave me a
thousand kisses, which I returned with delight.

After we had talked and laughed together we sat down at table, and the
heroine Therese gave me a delicate supper accompanied by exquisite wines.
"I have never given the margrave better fare," said she, "at those nice
little suppers we used to take together."

Wishing to probe the disposition of her son, whom I had engaged to take
away with me, I addressed several remarks to him, and soon discovered
that he was of a false and deceitful nature, always on his guard, taking
care of what he said, and consequently speaking only from his head and
not from his heart. Every word was delivered with a quiet politeness
which, no doubt, was intended to please me.

I told him that this sort of thing was all very well on occasion; but
that there were times when a man's happiness depended on his freedom from
constraint; then and only then was his amiability, if he had any,
displayed. His mother, thinking to praise him, told me that reserve was
his chief characteristic, that she had trained him to keep his counsel at
all times and places, and that she was thus used to his being reserved
with her as with everyone else.

"All I can say is," said I, "your system is an abominable one. You may
have strangled in their infancy all the finer qualities with which nature
has endowed your son, and have fairly set him on the way to become a
monster instead of an angel. I don't see how the most devoted father can
possibly have any affection for a son who keeps all his emotions under
lock and key."

This outburst, which proceeded from the tenderness I would fain have felt
for the boy, seemed to strike his mother dumb.

"Tell me, my dear, if you feel yourself capable of shewing me that
confidence which a father has a right to expect of a good son, and if you
can promise to be perfectly open and unreserved towards me?"

"I promise that I will die rather than tell you a falsehood."

"That's just like him," said the mother. "I have succeeded in inspiring
him with the utmost horror of untruthfulness."

"That's all very well, my dear madam, but you might have pursued a still
better course, and one which would have been still more conducive to his
happiness."

"What is that?"

"I will tell you. It was necessary to make him detest a lie; you should
have rather endeavoured to make him a lover of the truth by displaying it
to him in all its native beauty. This is the only way to make him
lovable, and love is the sole bestower of happiness in this world."

"But isn't it the same thing not to lie and to tell the truth," said the
boy, with a smile which charmed his mother and displeased me.

"Certainly not; there is a great difference--for to avoid lying you have
only to hold your tongue; and do you think that comes to the same thing
as speaking the truth?  You must open your mind to me, my son, and tell
me all your thoughts, even if you blush in the recital. I will teach you
how to blush, and soon you will have nothing to fear in laying open all
your thoughts and deeds. When we know each other a little longer we shall
see how we agree together. You must understand that I cannot look upon
you as my son until I see cause to love you, and I cannot have you call
me father till you treat me as the best friend you have. You may be quite
sure that I shall find a way to discover your thoughts, however cleverly
you try to hide them. If I find you deceitful and suspicious I shall
certainly entertain no regard for you. As soon as I have finished my
business at Amsterdam we will set out for Paris. I am leaving the Hague
to-morrow, and on my return I hope to find you instructed by your mother
in a system of morality more consonant with my views, and more likely to
lead to your happiness."

On glancing at my little daughter, who had been listening to me with the
greatest attention, I saw that her eyes were swimming with tears, which
she could hardly retain.

"Why are you crying?" said the mother; "it is silly to cry." And with
that the child ran to her mother and threw her arms round her neck.

"Would you like to come to Paris, too?" said I to her.

"Oh, yes! But mamma must come too, as she would die without me."

"What would you do if I told you to go?" said the mother.

"I would obey you, mamma, but how could I exist away from you?"

Thereupon my little daughter pretended to cry. I say pretended, as it was
quite evident that the child did not mean what she said, and I am sure
that her mother knew it as well as I.

It was really a melancholy thing to see the effects of a bad education on
this young child, to whom nature had given intelligence and feeling. I
took the mother on one side, and said that if she had intended to make
actors of her children she had succeeded to admiration; but if she wished
them to become useful members of society her system had failed
lamentably, as they were in a fair way to become monsters of deceit. I
continued making her the most pointed remonstrances until, in spite of
her efforts to control herself, she burst into tears. However, she soon
recovered her composure, and begged me to stay at the Hague a day longer,
but I told her it was out of the question, and left the room. I came in
again a few minutes after, and Sophie came up to me and said, in a loving
little voice,

"If you are really my friend, you will give me some proof of your
friendship."

"And what proof do you want, my dear?"

"I want you to come and sup with me to-morrow."

"I can't, Sophie dear, for I have just said no to your mother, and she
would be offended if I granted you what I had refused her."

"Oh, no! she wouldn't; it was she who told me to ask you just now."

I naturally began to laugh, but on her mother calling the girl a little
fool, and the brother adding that he had never committed such an
indiscretion, the poor child began to tremble all over, and looked
abashed. I reassured her as best I could, not caring whether what I said
displeased her mother or not, and I endeavoured to instill into her
principles of a very different nature to those in which she had been
reared, while she listened with an eagerness which proved that her heart
was still ready to learn the right way. Little by little her face
cleared, and I saw that I had made an impression, and though I could not
flatter myself that any good I might do her would be lasting in its
effects as long as she remained under the bad influence of her mother, I
promised to come and sup with her next evening, "but on the condition," I
said, "that you give me a plain meal, and one bottle of chambertin only,
for you are not too well off."

"I know that, but mamma says that you pay for everything."

This reply made me go off into a roar of laughter; and in spite of her
vexation the mother was obliged to follow my example. The poor woman,
hardened by the life she led, took the child's simplicity for stupidity,
but I saw in her a rough diamond which only wanted polishing.

Therese told me that the wine did not cost her anything, as the son of
the Rotterdam burgomaster furnished her with it, and that he would sup
with us the next day if I would allow him to be present. I answered
smilingly that I should be delighted to see him, and I went away after
giving my daughter, of whom I felt fond, a tender embrace. I would have
done anything to be entrusted with her, but I saw it would be no good
trying to get possession of her, as the mother was evidently keeping her
as a resource for her old age. This is a common way for adventuresses to
look upon their daughters, and Therese was an adventuress in the widest
acceptation of the term. I gave her twenty ducats to get clothes for my
adopted son and Sophie, who, with spontaneous gratitude, and her eyes
filled with tears, came and gave me a kiss. Joseph was going to kiss my
hand, but I told him that it was degrading for one man to kiss another's
hand, and that for the future he was to shew his gratitude by embracing
me as a son embraces his father.

Just as I was leaving, Therese took me to the closet where the two
children were sleeping. I knew what she was thinking of; but all that was
over long ago; I could think of no one but Esther.

The next day I found the burgomaster's son at my actress's house. He was
a fine young fellow of twenty or twenty-one, but totally devoid of
manner. He was Therese's lover, but he should have regulated his
behaviour in my presence. Therese, seeing that he was posing as master of
the field, and that his manners disgusted me, began to snub him, much to
his displeasure, and after sneering at the poorness of the dishes, and
praising the wine which he had supplied, he went out leaving us to finish
our dessert by ourselves. I left myself at eleven, telling Therese that I
should see her again before I went away. The Princesse de Galitzin, a
Cantimir by birth, had asked me to dinner, and this made me lose another
day.

Next day I heard from Madame d'Urfe, who enclosed a bill of exchange on
Boaz for twelve thousand francs. She said that she had bought her shares
for sixty thousand, that she did not wish to make anything of them, and
that she hoped I would accept the overplus as my broker's fee. She worded
her offer with too much courtesy for me to refuse it. The remainder of
the letter was devoted to the wildest fancies. She said that her genius
had revealed to her that I should bring back to Paris a boy born of the
Mystical Marriage, and she hoped I would take pity on her. It was a
strange coincidence, and seemed likely to attach the woman still more
closely to her visionary theories. I laughed when I though how she would
be impressed by Therese's son, who was certainly not born of the Mystical
Marriage.

Boaz paid me my twelve thousand francs in ducats, and I made him my
friend, as he thanked me for receiving the moneys in ducats, and he
doubtless made a profit on the transaction, gold being a commodity in
Holland, and all payments being made in silver or paper money.

At that time gold was at a low rate, and nobody would take ducats.

After having an excellent dinner with the Princesse de Galitzin, I put on
my cloak and went to the cafe. I found there the burgomaster's son, who
was just beginning a game of billiards. He whispered to me that I might
back him with advantage, and thinking he was sure of his stroke I thanked
him and followed his advice. However, after losing three games one after
the other, I took his measure and began to lay against him without his
knowledge. After playing for three hours and losing all the time, he
stopped play and came to condole with me on my heavy loss. It is
impossible to describe his amazed expression when I shewed him a handful
of ducats, and assured him that I had spent a very profitable evening in
laying against him. Everybody in the room began to laugh at him, but he
was the sort of young man who doesn't understand a joke, and he went out
in a rage. Soon after I left the billiard-room myself, and, according to
my promise went to see Therese, as I was leaving for Amsterdam the next
day.

Therese was waiting for her young wine merchant, but on my recounting his
adventures she expected him no longer. I took my little daughter on my
knee and lavished my caresses on her, and so left them, telling them that
we should see each other again in the course of three weeks or a month at
latest.

As I was going home in the moonlight by myself, my sword under my arm, I
was encountered all of a sudden by the poor dupe of a burgomaster's son.

"I want to know," said he, "if your sword has as sharp a point as your
tongue."

I tried to quiet him by speaking common sense, and I kept my sword
wrapped in my cloak, though his was bared and directed against me.

"You are wrong to take my jests in such bad part," said I; "however, I
apologize to you."

"No apologies; look to yourself."

"Wait till to-morrow, you will be cooler then, but if you still wish it I
will give you satisfaction in the midst of the billiard-room."

"The only satisfaction you can give me is to fight; I want to kill you."

As evidence of his determination, and to provoke me beyond recall, he
struck me with the flat of his sword, the first and last time in my life
in which I have received such and insult. I drew my sword, but still
hoping to bring him to his senses I kept strictly on the defensive and
endeavoured to make him leave off. This conduct the Dutchman mistook for
fear, and pushed hard on me, lunging in a manner that made me look to
myself. His sword passed through my necktie; a quarter of an inch farther
in would have done my business.

I leapt to one side, and, my danger no longer admitting of my fighting on
the defensive, I lunged out and wounded him in the chest. I thought this
would have been enough for him, so I proposed we should terminate our
engagement.

"I'm not dead yet," said he; "I want to kill you."

This was his watchword; and, as he leapt on me in a paroxysm of rage,
more like a madman than a sensible being, I hit him four times. At the
fourth wound he stepped back, and, saying he had had enough, begged me to
leave him.

I went off as fast as I could, and was very glad to see from the look of
my sword that his wounds were slight. I found Boaz still up, and on
hearing what had taken place he advised me to go to Amsterdam at once,
though I assured him that the wounds were not mortal. I gave in to his
advice, and as my carriage was at the saddler's he lent me his, and I set
out, bidding my servant to come on the next day with my luggage, and to
rejoin me at the "Old Bible," in Amsterdam. I reached Amsterdam at noon
and my man arrived in the evening.

I was curious to hear if my duel had made any noise, but as my servant
had left at an early hour he had heard nothing about it. Fortunately for
me nothing whatever was known about it at Amsterdam for a week after;
otherwise, things might not have gone well with me, as the reputation of
being a duellist is not a recommendation to financiers with whom one is
about to transact business of importance.

The reader will not be surprised when I tell him that my first call was
on M. d'O, or rather on his charming daughter Esther, for she it was on
whom I waited. It will be remembered that the way in which we parted did
a good deal towards augmenting the warmth of my affection for her. On
entering the room I found Esther writing at a table.

"What are you doing Esther, dear?"

"An arithmetical problem."

"Do you like problems?"

"I am passionately fond of anything which contains difficulties and
offers curious results."

"I will give you something which will please you."

I made her, by way of jest, two magic squares, which delighted her. In
return, she spewed me some trifles with which I was well acquainted, but
which I pretended to think very astonishing. My good genius then inspired
me with the idea of trying divination by the cabala. I told her to ask a
question in writing, and assured her that by a certain kind of
calculation a satisfactory answer would be obtained. She smiled, and
asked why I had returned to Amsterdam so soon. I shewed her how to make
the pyramid with the proper numbers and the other ceremonies, then I made
her extract the answer in numbers, translating it into French, and
greatly was she surprised to find that the cause which had made me return
to Amsterdam so soon was--love.

Quite confounded, she said it was very wonderful, even though the answer
might not be true, and she wished to know what masters could teach this
mode of calculation.

"Those who know it cannot teach it to anyone."

"How did you learn it, then?"

"From a precious manuscript I inherited from my father."

"Sell it me."

"I have burnt it; and I am not empowered to communicate the secret to
anyone before I reach the age of fifty."

"Why fifty?"

"I don't know; but I do know that if I communicated it to anyone before
that age I should run the risk of losing it myself. The elementary spirit
who is attached to the oracle would leave it."

"How do you know that?"

"I saw it so stated in the manuscript I have spoken of."

"Then you are able to discover all secrets?"

"Yes, or I should be if the replies were not sometimes too obscure to be
understood."

"As it does not take much time, will you be kind enough to get me an
answer to another question?"

"With pleasure; you can command me in anything not forbidden by my
familiar spirit."

She asked what her destiny would be, and the oracle replied that she had
not yet taken the first step towards it. Esther was astonished and called
her governess to see the two answers, but the good woman saw nothing
wonderful in them whatever. Esther impatiently called her a blockhead,
and entreated me to let her ask another question. I begged her to do so,
and she asked,

"Who loves me most in Amsterdam?" The oracle replied that no one loved
her as well as he who had given her being: Poor Esther then told me that
I had made her miserable, and that she would die of grief if she could
not succeed in learning the method of calculation. I gave no answer, and
pretended to feel sad at heart. She began to write down another question,
putting her hand in front so as to screen the paper. I rose as if to get
out of her way, but while she was arranging the pyramid I cast my eyes on
the paper whilst walking up and down the room, and read her question.
After she had gone as far as I had taught her, she asked me to extract
the answer, saying that I could do so without reading the question. I
agreed to do so on the condition that she would not ask a second time.

As I had seen her question, it was easy for me to answer it. She had
asked the oracle if she might shew the questions she had propounded to
her father, and the answer was that she would be happy as long as she had
no secrets from her father.

When she read these words she gave a cry of surprise, and could find no
words wherewith to express her gratitude to me. I left her for the
Exchange, where I had a long business conversation with M. Pels.

Next morning a handsome and gentlemanly man came with a letter of
introduction from Therese, who told me that he would be useful in case I
wanted any assistance in business. His name was Rigerboos. She informed
me that the burgomaster's son was only slightly wounded, and that I had
nothing to fear as the matter was not generally known, and that if I had
business at the Hague I might return there in perfect safety. She said
that my little Sophie talked of me all day, and that I should find my son
much improved on my return. I asked M. Rigerboos to give me his address,
assuring him that at the proper time I should rely on his services.

A moment after Rigerboos had gone, I got a short note from Esther, who
begged me, in her father's name, to spend the day with her--at least, if
I had no important engagement. I answered that, excepting a certain
matter of which her father knew, I had no chiefer aim than to convince
her that I desired a place in her heart, and that she might be quite sure
that I would not refuse her invitation.

I went to M. d'O---- at dinner time. I found Esther and her father
puzzling over the method which drew reasonable answers out of a pyramid
of numbers. As soon as her father saw me, he embraced me, saying how
happy he was to possess a daughter capable of attracting me.

"She will attract any man who has sufficient sense to appreciate her."

"You appreciate her, then?"

"I worship her."

"Then embrace her."

Esther opened her arms, and with a cry of delight threw them round my
neck, and gave the back all my caresses, kiss for kiss.

"I have got through all my business," said M. d'O----, "and the rest of
my day is at your disposal. I have known from my childhood that there is
such a science as the one you profess, and I was acquainted with a Jew
who by its aid made an immense fortune. He, like you, said that, under
pain of losing the secret, it could only be communicated to one person,
but he put off doing so so long that at last it was too late, for a high
fever carried him off in a few days. I hope you will not do as the Jew
did; but in the meanwhile allow me to say that if You do not draw a
profit from this treasure, you do not know what it really is."

"You call this knowledge of mine a treasure, and yet you possess one far
more excellent," looking at Esther as I spoke.

"We will discuss that again. Yes, sir, I call your science a treasure."

"But the answers of the oracle are often very obscure."

"Obscure! The answers my daughter received are as clear as day."

"Apparently, she is fortunate in the way she frames her questions; for on
this the reply depends."

"After dinner we will try if I am so fortunate--at least, if you will be
so kind as to help me."

"I can refuse you nothing, as I consider father and daughter as one
being."

At table we discussed other subjects, as the chief clerks were
present--notably the manager, a vulgar-looking fellow, who had very
evident aspirations in the direction of my fair Esther. After dinner we
went into M. d'O 's private closet, and thereupon he drew two long
questions out of his pocket. In the first he desired to know how to
obtain a favourable decision from the States-General in an important
matter, the details of which he explained. I replied in terms, the
obscurity of which would have done credit to a professed Pythoness, and I
left Esther to translate the answer into common sense, and find a meaning
in it.

With regard to the second answer I acted in a different manner; I was
impelled to answer clearly, and did so. M. d'O asked what had become of a
vessel belonging to the India Company of which nothing had been heard. It
was known to have started on the return voyage, and should have arrived
two months ago, and this delay gave rise to the supposition that it had
gone down. M. d'O---- wished to know if it were still above water, or
whether it were lost, etc. As no tidings of it had come to hand, the
company were on the look-out for someone to insure it, and offered ten
per cent., but nobody cared to run so great a risk, especially as a
letter had been received from an English sea captain who said he had seen
her sink.

I may confess to my readers, though I did not do so to M. d'O----. that
with inexplicable folly I composed an answer that left no doubt as to the
safety of the vessel, pronouncing it safe and sound, and that we should
hear of it in a few days. No doubt I felt the need of exalting my oracle,
but this method was likely to destroy its credit for ever. In truth, if I
had guessed M. d'O----'s design, I would have curbed my vanity, for I had
no wish to make him lose a large sum without profiting myself.

The answer made him turn pale, and tremble with joy. He told us that
secrecy in the matter was of the last importance, as he had determined to
insure the vessel and drive a good bargain. At this, dreading the
consequences, I hastened to tell him that for all I knew there might not
be a word of truth in the oracle's reply, and that I should die of grief
if I were the involuntary cause of his losing an enormous sum of money
through relying on an oracle, the hidden sense of which might be
completely opposed to the literal translation.

"Have you ever been deceived by it?"

"Often."

Seeing my distress, Esther begged her father to take no further steps in
the matter. For some moments nobody spoke.

M. d'O---- looked thoughtful and full of the project which his fancy had
painted in such gay colours. He said a good deal about it, dwelling on
the mystic virtues of numbers, and told his daughter to read out all the
questions she had addressed to the oracle with the answers she had
received. There were six or seven of them, all briefly worded, some
direct and some equivocal. Esther, who had constructed the pyramids, had
shone, with my potent assistance, in extracting the answers, which I had
really invented, and her father, in the joy of his heart, seeing her so
clever, imagined that she would become an adept in the science by the
force of intelligence. The lovely Esther, who was much taken with the
trifle; was quite ready to be of the same opinion.

After passing several hours in the discussion of the answers, which my
host thought divine, we had supper, and at parting M. d'O---- said that as
Sunday was a day for pleasure and not business he hoped I would honour
them by passing the day at their pretty house on the Amstel, and they
were delighted at my accepting their invitation.

I could not help pondering over the mysteries of the commercial mind,
which narrows itself down to considerations of profit and loss. M.
d'O---- was decidedly an honest man; but although he was rich, he was by
no means devoid of the greed incident to his profession. I asked myself
the question, how a man, who would consider it dishonourable to steal a
ducat, or to pick one up in the street and keep it, knowing to whom it
belonged, could reconcile it with his conscience to make an enormous
profit by insuring a vessel of the safety of which he was perfectly
certain, as he believed the oracle infallible. Such a transaction was
certainly fraudulent, as it is dishonest to play when one is certain of
winning.

As I was going home I passed a tea-garden, and seeing a good many people
going in and coming out I went in curious to know how these places were
managed in Holland. Great heavens! I found myself the witness of an orgy,
the scene a sort of cellar, a perfect cesspool of vice and debauchery.
The discordant noise of the two or three instruments which formed the
orchestra struck gloom to the soul and added to the horrors of the
cavern. The air was dense with the fumes of bad tobacco, and vapours
reeking of beer and garlic issued from every mouth. The company consisted
of sailors, men of the lowest-class, and a number of vile women. The
sailors and the dregs of the people thought this den a garden of delight,
and considered its pleasures compensation for the toils of the sea and
the miseries of daily labour. There was not a single woman there whose
aspect had anything redeeming about it. I was looking at the repulsive
sight in silence, when a great hulking fellow, whose appearance suggested
the blacksmith, and his voice the blackguard, came up to me and asked me
in bad Italian if I would like to dance. I answered in the negative, but
before leaving me he pointed out a Venetian woman who, he said, would
oblige me if I gave her some drink.

Wishing to discover if she was anyone I knew I looked at her attentively,
and seemed to recollect her features, although I could not decide who she
could be. Feeling rather curious on the subject I sat down next to her,
and asked if she came from Venice, and if she had left that country some
time ago.

"Nearly eighteen years," she replied.

I ordered a bottle of wine, and asked if she would take any; she said
yes, and added, if I liked, she would oblige me.

"I haven't time," I said; and I gave the poor wretch the change I
received from the waiter. She was full of gratitude, and would have
embraced me if I had allowed her.

"Do you like being at Amsterdam better than Venice?" I asked.

"Alas, no! for if I were in my own country I should not be following this
dreadful trade."

"How old were you when you left Venice."

"I was only fourteen and lived happily with my father and mother, who now
may have died of grief."

"Who seduced you?"

"A rascally footman."

"In what part of Venice did you live?"

"I did not live in Venice, but at Friuli, not far off."

Friuli . . . eighteen years ago . . . a footman . . . I felt moved, and
looking at the wretched woman more closely I soon recognized in her Lucie
of Pasean. I cannot describe my sorrow, which I concealed as best I
could, and tried hard to keep up my indifferent air. A life of debauchery
rather than the flight of time had tarnished her beauty, and ruined the
once exquisite outlines of her form. Lucie, that innocent and pretty
maiden, grown ugly, vile, a common prostitute! It was a dreadful thought.
She drank like a sailor, without looking at me, and without caring who I
was. I took a few ducats from my purse, and slipped them into her hand,
and without waiting for her to find out how much I had given her I left
that horrible den.

I went to bed full of saddening thoughts. Not even under the Leads did I
pass so wretched a day. I thought I must have risen under some unhappy
star! I loathed myself. With regard to Lucie I felt the sting of remorse,
but at the thought of M. d'O---- I hated myself. I considered that I
should cause him a loss of three or four hundred thousand florins; and
the thought was a bitter drop in the cup of my affection for Esther. I
fancied, she, as well as her father, would become my implacable foe; and
love that is not returned is no love at all.

I spent a dreadful night. Lucie, Esther, her father, their hatred of me,
and my hatred of myself, were the groundwork of my dreams. I saw Esther
and her father, if not ruined, at all events impoverished by my fault,
and Lucie only thirty-two years old, and already deep in the abyss of
vice, with an infinite prospect of misery and shame before her. The dawn
was welcome indeed, for with its appearance a calm came to my spirit; it
is, the darkness which is terrible to a heart full of remorse.

I got up and dressed myself in my best, and went in a coach to do my suit
to the Princesse de Galitzin, who, was staying at the "Etoile d'Orient."
I found her out; she had gone to the Admiralty. I went there, and found
her accompanied by M. de Reissak and the Count de Tot, who had just
received news of my friend Pesselier, at whose house I made his
acquaintance, and who was dangerously ill when I left Paris.

I sent away my coach and began to walk towards M. d'O----'s house on the
Amsel. The extreme elegance of my costume was displeasing in the eyes of
the Dutch populace, and they hissed and hooted me, after the manner of
the mob all the world over, Esther saw me coming from the window, drew
the rope, and opened the door. I ran in, shut the door behind me, and as
I was going up the wooden staircase, on the fourth or fifth step my foot
struck against some yielding substance. I looked down and saw a green
pocket-book. I stooped down to pick it up, but was awkward enough to send
it through an opening in the stairs, which had been doubtless made for
the purpose of giving light to a stair below. I did not stop, but went up
the steps and was received with the usual hospitality, and on their
expressing some wonder as to the unusual brilliance of my attire I
explained the circumstances of the case. Esther smiled and said I looked
quite another person, but I saw that both father and daughter were sad at
heart. Esther's governess came in and said something to her in Dutch, at
which, in evident distress, she ran and embraced her father.

"I see, my friends, that something has happened to you. If my presence is
a restraint, treat me without ceremony, and bid me go."

"It's not so great an ill-hap after all; I have enough money left to bear
the loss patiently."

"If I may ask the question, what is the nature of your loss?"

"I have lost a green pocket-book containing a good deal of money, which
if I had been wise I would have left behind, as I did not require it till
to-morrow."

"And you don't know where you lost it?"

"It must have been in the street, but I can't imagine how it can have
happened. It contained bills of exchange for large amounts, and of course
they don't matter, as I can stop payment of them, but there were also
notes of the Bank of England for heavy sums, and they are gone, as they
are payable to the bearer. Let us give thanks to God, my dear child, that
it is no worse, and pray to Him to preserve to us what remains, and above
all to keep us in good health. I have had much heavier losses than this,
and I have been enabled not only to bear the misfortune but to make up
the loss. Let us say no more about the matter."

While he was speaking my heart was full of joy, but I kept up the sadness
befitting the scene. I had not the slightest doubt that the pocket-book
in question was the one I had unluckily sent through the staircase, but
which could not be lost irretrievably. My first point was how to make
capital of my grand discovery in the interests of my cabalistic science.
It was too fine an opportunity to be lost, especially as I still felt the
sting of having been the cause of an enormous loss to the worthy man. I
would give them a grand proof of the infallibility of my oracle: how many
miracles are done in the same way! The thought put me into a good humour.
I began to crack jokes, and my jests drew peals of laughter from Esther.

We had an excellent dinner and choice wine. After we had taken coffee I
said that if they liked we would have a game of cards, but Esther said
that this would be a waste of time, as she would much prefer making the
oracular pyramids. This was exactly what I wanted.

"With all my heart," I said.

"We will do as you suggest."

"Shall I ask where my father lost his pocket-book?"

"Why not? It's a plain question: write it down."

She made the pyramid, and the reply was that the pocket-book had not been
found by anyone. She leapt up from her seat, danced for joy, and threw
her arms round her father's neck, saying,

"We shall find it, we shall find it, papa!"

"I hope so, too, my dear, that answer is really very consoling."

Wherewith Esther gave her father one kiss after another.

"Yes," said I, "there is certainly ground for hope, but the oracle will
be dumb to all questions."

"Dumb! Why?"

"I was going to say it will be dumb if you do not give me as many kisses
as you have given your father."

"Oh, then I will soon make it speak!" said she, laughing; and throwing
her arms about my neck she began to kiss me, and I to give her kisses in
return.

Ah! what happy days they seem when I recall them; and still I like
dwelling on these days despite my sad old age, the foe of love. When I
recall these events I grow young again and feel once more the delights of
youth, despite the long years which separate me from that happy time.

At last Esther sat down again, and asked, "Where is the pocket-book?" And
the pyramid told her that the pocket-book had fallen through the opening
in the fifth step of the staircase.

M. d'O---- said to his daughter,

"Come, my dear Esther, let us go and test the truth of the oracle." And
full of joy and hope they went to the staircase, I following them, and M.
d'O shewed her the hole through which the pocket-book must have fallen.
He lighted a candle and we went down to the cellar, and before long he
picked up the book, which had fallen into some water. We went up again in
high spirits, and there we talked for over an hour as seriously as you
please on the divine powers of the oracle, which, according to them,
should render its possessor the happiest of mortals.

He opened the pocket-book and shewed us the four thousand pound notes. He
gave two to his daughter, and made me take the two remaining; but I took
them with one hand and with the other gave them to Esther begging her to
keep them for me; but before she would agree to do so I had to threaten
her with the stoppage of the famous cabalistic oracle. I told M. d'O that
all I asked was his friendship, and thereon he embraced me, and swore to
be my friend to the death.

By making the fair Esther the depositary of my two thousand pounds, I was
sure of winning her affection by an appeal, not to her interest, but to
her truthfulness. This charming girl had about her so powerful an
attraction that I felt as if my life was wound up with hers.

I told M. d'O that my chief object was to negotiate the twenty millions
at a small loss.

"I hope to be of service to you in the matter," he said, "but as I. shall
often want to speak to you, you must come and live in our house, which
you must look upon as your own."

"My presence will be a restraint on you. I shall be a trouble."

"Ask Esther."

Esther joined her entreaties to her father's and I gave in, taking good
care not to let them see how pleased I was. I contented myself with
expressing my gratitude, to which they answered that it was I who
conferred a favour.

M. d'O went into his closet, and as soon as I found myself alone with
Esther I kissed her tenderly, saying that I should not be happy till I
had won her heart.

"Do you love me?"

"Dearly, and I will do all in my power to shew how well I love you, if
you will love me in return."

She gave me her hand, which I covered with kisses, and she went on to
say, "As soon as you come and live with us, you must look out for a good
opportunity for asking my hand of my father. You need not be afraid he
will refuse you, but the first thing for you to do is to move into our
house."

"My dear little wife! I will come to-morrow."

We said many sweet things to one another, talked about the future, and
told each other our inmost thoughts; and I was undoubtedly truly in love,
for not a single improper fancy rose in my mind in the presence of my
dear who loved me so well.

The first thing that M. d'O said on his return was, that there would be a
piece of news on the Exchange the next day.

"What is that, papa dear?"

"I have decided to take the whole risk--amounting to three hundred
thousand florins-of the ship which is thought to have gone down. They
will call me mad, but they themselves will be the madmen; which is what I
should be if, after the proof we have had, I doubted the oracle any
more."

"My dear sir, you make me frightened. I have told you that I have been
often deceived by the oracle."

"That must have been, my dear fellow, when the reply was obscure, and you
did not get at the real sense of it; but in the present case there is no
room, for doubt. I shall make three million florins, or, if the worst
comes to the worse, my loss won't ruin me."

Esther, whom the finding of the pocket-book had made enthusiastic, told
her father to lose no time. As for me, I could not recall what I had
done, but I was again overwhelmed with sadness. M. d'O---- saw it, and
taking my hand said, "If the oracle does lie this time, I shall be none
the less your friend."

"I am glad to hear it," I answered; "but as this is a matter of the
utmost importance, let me consult the oracle a second time before you
risk your three hundred thousand florins." This proposition pleased the
father and daughter highly; they could not express their gratitude to me
for being so careful of their interests.

What followed was truly surprising--enough to make one believe in
fatality. My readers probably will not believe it; but as these Memoirs
will not be published till I have left this world, it would be of no use
for me to disguise the truth in any way, especially as the writing of
them is only the amusement of my leisure hours. Well, let him who will
believe it; this is absolutely what happened. I wrote down the question
myself, erected the pyramid, and carried out all the magical ceremonies
without letting Esther have a hand in it. I was delighted to be able to
check an act of extreme imprudence, and I was determined to do so. A
double meaning, which I knew how to get, would abate M. d'O----'s courage
and annihilate his plans. I had thought over what I wanted to say, and I
thought I had expressed it properly in the numbers. With that idea, as
Esther knew the alphabet perfectly well, I let her extract the answer,
and transfer it into letters. What was my surprise when I heard her read
these words:

"In a matter of this kind neither fear nor hesitate. Your repentance
would be too hard for you to bear."

That was enough. Father and daughter ran to embrace me, and M. d'O-said
that when the vessel was sighted a tithe of the profits should be mine.
My surprise prevented me giving any answer; I had intended to write trust
and hazard, and I had written fear and hesitate. But thanks to his
prejudice, M. d'O---- only saw in my silence confirmation of the
infallibility of the oracle. In short, I could do nothing more, and I
took my leave leaving everything to the care of chance, who sometimes is
kind to us in spite of ourselves.

The next morning I took up my abode in a splendid suite of rooms in
Esther's house, and the day after I took her to a concert, where she
joked with me on the grief I should endure on account of the absence of
Madame Trend and my daughter. Esther was the only mistress of my soul. I
lived but to adore her, and I should have satisfied my love had not
Esther been a girl of good principles. I could not gain possession of
her, and was full of longing and desire.

Four or five days after my installation in my new quarters, M.
d'O---communicated to me the result of a conference which he had had with
M. Pels and six other bankers on the twenty millions. They offered ten
millions in hard cash and seven millions in paper money, bearing interest
at five or six per cent. with a deduction of one per cent. brokerage.
Furthermore, they would forgive a sum of twelve hundred thousand florins
owed by the French India Company to the Dutch Company.

With such conditions I could not venture to decide on my own
responsibility, although, personally, I thought them reasonable enough,
the impoverished state of the French treasury being taken into
consideration. I sent copies of the proposal to M. de Boulogne and M.
d'Afri, begging from them an immediate reply. At the end of a week I
received an answer in the writing of M. de Courteil, acting for M. de
Boulogne, instructing me to refuse absolutely any such proposal, and to
report myself at Paris if I saw no chance of making a better bargain. I
was again informed that peace was imminent, though the Dutch were quite
of another opinion.

In all probability I should have immediately left for Paris, but for a
circumstance which astonished nobody but myself in the family of which I
had become a member. The confidence of M. d'O---- increased every day, and
as if chance was determined to make me a prophet in spite of myself, news
was received of the ship which was believed to be lost, and which, on the
faith of my oracle, M. d'O had bought for three hundred thousand florins.
The vessel was at Madeira. The joy of Esther, and still more my own, may
be imagined when we saw the worthy man enter the house triumphantly with
confirmation of the good news.

"I have insured the vessel from Madeira to the mouth of the Texel for a
trifle," said he, "and so," turning to me, "you may count from this
moment on the tenth part of the profit, which I owe entirely to you."

The reader may imagine my delight; but there is one thing he will not
imagine, unless he knows my character better than I do myself, the
confusion into which I was thrown by the following remarks:

"You are now rich enough," said M. d'O----, "to set up for yourself
amongst us, and you are positively certain to make an enormous fortune in
a short time merely by making use of your cabala. I will be your agent;
let us live together, and if you like my daughter as she likes you, you
can call yourself my son as soon as you please."

In Esther's face shone forth joy and happiness, and in mine, though I
adored her, there was to be seen, alas! nothing but surprise. I was
stupid with happiness and the constraint in which I held myself. I did
not analyze my feelings, but, though I knew it not, there can be no doubt
that my insuperable objection to the marriage tie was working within my
soul. A long silence followed; and last, recovering my powers of speech,
I succeeded, with an effort, in speaking to them of my gratitude, my
happiness, my love, and I ended by saying that, in spite of my affection
for Esther, I must, before settling in Holland, return to Paris, and
discharge the confidential and responsible duty which the Government had
placed in my hands. I would then return to Amsterdam perfectly
independent.

This long peroration won their approval. Esther was quite pleased, and we
spent the rest of the day in good spirits. Next day M. d'O---gave a
splendid dinner to several of his friends, who congratulated him on his
good fortune, being persuaded that his courageous action was to be
explained by his having had secret information of the safety of the
vessel, though none of them could see from what source he, and he only,
had obtained it.

A week after this lucky event he gave me an ultimatum on the matter of
the twenty millions, in which he guaranteed that France should not lose
more than nine per cent. in the transaction.

I immediately sent a copy of his proposal to M. d'Afri, begging him to be
as prompt as possible, and another copy to the comptroller-general, with
a letter in which I warned him that the thing would certainly fall
through if he delayed a single day in sending full powers to M. d'Afri to
give me the necessary authority to act.

I wrote to the same effect to M. de Courteil and the Duc de Choiseul,
telling them that I was to receive no brokerage; but that I should all
the same accept a proposal which I thought a profitable one, and saying
that I had no doubt of obtaining my expenses from the French Government.

As it was a time of rejoicing with us, M. d'O---- thought it would be a
good plan to give a ball. All the most distinguished people in Amsterdam
were invited to it. The ball and supper were of the most splendid
description, and Esther, who was a blaze of diamonds, danced all the
quadrilles with me, and charmed every beholder by her grace and beauty.

I spent all my time with Esther, and every day we grew more and more in
love, and more unhappy, for we were tormented by abstinence, which
irritated while it increased our desires.

Esther was an affectionate mistress, but discreet rather by training than
disposition the favours she accorded me were of the most insignificant
description. She was lavish of nothing but her kisses, but kisses are
rather irritating than soothing. I used to be nearly wild with love. She
told me, like other virtuous women, that if she agreed to make me happy
she was sure I would not marry her, and that as soon as I made her my
wife she would be mine and mine only. She did not think I was married,
for I had given her too many assurances to the contrary, but she thought
I had a strong attachment to someone in Paris. I confessed that she was
right, and said that I was going there to put an end to it that I might
be bound to her alone. Alas! I lied when I said so, for Esther was
inseparable from her father, a man of forty, and I could not make up my
mind to pass the remainder of my days in Holland.

Ten or twelve days after sending the ultimatum, I received a letter from
M. de Boulogne informing me that M. d'Afri had all necessary instructions
for effecting the exchange of the twenty millions, and another letter
from the ambassador was to the same effect. He warned me to take care
that everything was right, as he should not part with the securities
before receiving 18,200,000 francs in current money.

The sad time of parting at last drew near, amid many regrets and tears
from all of us. Esther gave me the two thousand pounds I had won so
easily, and her father at my request gave me bills of exchange to the
amount of a hundred thousand florins, with a note of two hundred thousand
florins authorizing me to draw upon him till the whole sum was exhausted.
Just as I was going, Esther gave me fifty shirts and fifty handkerchiefs
of the finest quality.

It was not my love for Manon Baletti, but a foolish vanity and a desire
to cut a figure in the luxurious city of Paris, which made me leave
Holland. But such was the disposition that Mother Nature had given me
that fifteen months under The Leads had not been enough to cure this
mental malady of mine. But when I reflect upon after events of my life I
am not astonished that The Leads proved ineffectual, for the numberless
vicissitudes which I have gone through since have not cured me--my
disorder, indeed, being of the incurable kind. There is no such thing as
destiny. We ourselves shape our lives, notwithstanding that saying of the
Stoics, 'Volentem ducit, nolentem trahit'.

After promising Esther to return before the end of the year, I set out
with a clerk of the company who had brought the French securities, and I
reached the Hague, where Boaz received me with a mingled air of wonder
and admiration. He told me that I had worked a miracle; "but," he added,
"to succeed thus you must have persuaded them that peace was on the point
of being concluded."

"By no means," I answered; "so far from my persuading them, they are of
the opposite opinion; but all the same I may tell you that peace is
really imminent."

"If you like to give me that assurance in writing," said he, "I will make
you a present of fifty thousand florins' worth of diamonds."

"Well," I answered, "the French ambassador is of the same opinion as
myself; but I don't think the certainty is sufficiently great as yet for
you to risk your diamonds upon it."

Next day I finished my business with the ambassador, and the clerk
returned to Amsterdam.

I went to supper at Therese's, and found her children very well dressed.
I told her to go on to Rotterdam the next day and wait for me there with
her son, as I had no wish to give scandal at the Hague.

At Rotterdam, Therese told me that she knew I had won half a million at
Amsterdam, and that her fortune would be made if she could leave Holland
for London. She had instructed Sophie to tell me that my good luck was
the effect of the prayers she had addressed to Heaven on my behalf. I saw
where the land lay, and I enjoyed a good laugh at the mother's craft and
the child's piety, and gave her a hundred ducats, telling her that she
should have another hundred when she wrote to me from London. It was very
evident that she thought the sum a very moderate one, but I would not
give her any more. She waited for the moment when I was getting into my
carriage to beg me to give her another hundred ducats, and I said, in a
low tone, that she should have a thousand if she would give me her
daughter. She thought it over for a minute, and then said that she could
not part with her.

"I know very well why," I answered; and drawing a watch from my fob I
gave it to Sophie, embraced her, and went on my way. I arrived at Paris
on February 10th, and took sumptuous apartments near the Rue Montorgueil.



CHAPTER VI

I Meet With a Flattering Reception From My Patron--Madame D'Urfe's
Infatuation--Madame X. C. V. And Her Family--Madame du Rumain

During my journey from the Hague to Paris, short as it was, I had plenty
of opportunities for seeing that the mental qualities of my adopted son
were by no means equal to his physical ones.

As I had said, the chief point which his mother had impressed on him was
reserve, which she had instilled into him out of regard for her own
interests. My readers will understand what I mean, but the child, in
following his mother's instructions, had gone beyond the bounds of
moderation; he possessed reserve, it is true, but he was also full of
dissimulation, suspicion, and hypocrisy--a fine trio of deceit in one who
was still a boy. He not only concealed what he knew, but he pretended to
know that which he did not. His idea of the one quality necessary to
success in life was an impenetrable reserve, and to obtain this he had
accustomed himself to silence the dictates of his heart, and to say no
word that had not been carefully weighed. Giving other people wrong
impressions passed with him for discretion, and his soul being incapable
of a generous thought, he seemed likely to pass through life without
knowing what friendship meant.

Knowing that Madame d'Urfe counted on the boy for the accomplishment of
her absurd hypostasis, and that the more mystery I made of his birth the
more extravagant would be her fancies about it, I told the lad that if I
introduced him to a lady who questioned him by himself about his birth,
he was to be perfectly open with her.

On my arrival at Paris my first visit was to my patron, whom I found in
grand company amongst whom I recognized the Venetian ambassador, who
pretended not to know me.

"How long have you been in Paris?" said the minister, taking me by the
hand.

"I have only just stepped out of my chaise."

"Then go to Versailles. You will find the Duc de Choiseul and the
comptroller-general there. You have been wonderfully successful, go and
get your meed of praise and come and see me afterwards. Tell the duke
that Voltaire's appointment to be a gentleman-in-ordinary to the king is
ready."

I was not going to start for Versailles at midday, but ministers in Paris
are always talking in this style, as if Versailles were at the end of the
street. Instead of going there, I went to see Madame d'Urfe.

She received me with the words that her genius had informed her that I
should come to-day, and that she was delighted with the fulfilment of the
prophecy.

"Corneman tells me that you have been doing wonders in Holland; but I see
more in the matter than he does, as I am quite certain that you have
taken over the twenty millions yourself. The funds have risen, and a
hundred millions at least will be in circulation in the course of the
next week. You must not be offended at my shabby present, for, of course,
twelve thousand francs are nothing to you. You must look upon them as a
little token of friendship."

"I am going to tell my servants to close all the doors, for I am too glad
to see you not to want to have you all to myself."

A profound bow was the only reply I made to this flattering speech, and I
saw her tremble with joy when I told her that I had brought a lad of
twelve with me, whom I intended to place in the best school I could find
that he might have a good education.

"I will send him myself to Viar, where my nephews are. What is his name?
Where is he?  I know well what this boy is, I long to see him. Why did
you not alight from your journey at my house?"

Her questions and replies followed one another in rapid succession. I
should have found it impossible to get in a word edgeways, even if I had
wanted to, but I was very glad to let her expend her enthusiasm, and took
good care not to interrupt her. On the first opportunity, I told her that
I should have the pleasure of presenting the young gentleman to her the
day after tomorrow, as on the morrow I had an engagement at Versailles.

"Does the dear lad speak French?  While I am arranging for his going to
school you must really let him come and live with me."

"We will discuss that question on the day after tomorrow, madam."

"Oh, how I wish the day after to-morrow was here!"

On leaving Madame d'Urfe I went to my lottery office and found everything
in perfect order. I then went to the Italian play, and found Silvia and
her daughter in their dressing-room.

"My dear friend," said she when she saw me, "I know that you have
achieved a wonderful success in Holland, and I congratulate you."

I gave her an agreeable surprise by saying that I had been working for
her daughter, and Marion herself blushed, and lowered her eyes in a very
suggestive manner. "I will be with you at supper," I added, "and then we
can talk at our ease." On leaving them I went to the amphitheatre, and
what was my surprise to see in one of the first boxes Madame
X---- C---- V----, with all her family. My readers will be glad to hear
their history.

Madame X---- C---- V----, by birth a Greek, was the widow of an Englishman,
by whom she had six children, four of whom were girls. On his death-bed
he became a Catholic out of deference to the tears of his wife; but as
his children could not inherit his forty thousand pounds invested in
England, without conforming to the Church of England, the family returned
to London, where the widow complied with all the obligations of the law
of England. What will people not do when their interests are at stake!
though in a case like this there is no need to blame a person for
yielding, to prejudices which had the sanction of the law.

It was now the beginning of the year 1758, and five years before, when I
was at Padua, I fell in love with the eldest daughter, but a few months
after, when we were at Venice, Madame X. C. V. thought good to exclude me
from her family circle. The insult which the mother put upon me was
softened by the daughter, who wrote me a charming letter, which I love to
read even now. I may as well confess that my grief was the easier to bear
as my time was taken up by my fair nun, M---- M----, and my dear
C---- C----. Nevertheless, Mdlle. X. C. V., though only fifteen, was of a
perfect beauty, and was all the more charming in that to her physical
advantages she joined those of a cultured mind.

Count Algarotti, the King of Prussia's chamberlain, gave her lessons, and
several young nobles were among her suitors, her preference apparently
being given to the heir of the family of Memmo de St. Marcuola. He died a
year afterwards, while he was procurator.

My surprise at seeing this family at such a time and place may be
imagined. Mdlle. X. C. V. saw me directly, and pointed me out to her
mother, who made a sign to me with her fan to come to their box.

She received me in the friendliest manner possible, telling me that we
were not at Venice now, and that she hoped I would often come and see
them at the "Hotel de Bretagne," in the Rue St. Andre des Arts. I told
them that I did not wish to recall any events which might have happened
at Venice, and her daughter having joined her entreaties to those of her
mother, I promised to accept their invitation.

Mdlle. X. C. V. struck me as prettier than ever; and my love, after
sleeping for five years, awoke to fresh strength and vigour. They told me
that they were going to pass six months at Paris before returning to
Venice. In return I informed them that I intended making Paris my home,
that I had just left Holland, that I was going to Versailles the next
day, so that I could not pay my respects to them till the day after. I
also begged them to accept my services, in a manner which let them know I
was a person of some importance.

Mdlle. X. C. V. said that she was aware that the results of my Dutch
mission should render me dear to France, that she had always lived in
hopes of seeing me once more, that my famous flight from The Leads had
delighted them; "for," she added, "we have always been fond of you."

"I fancy your mother has kept her fondness for me very much to herself,"
I whispered to her.

"We won't say anything about that," said she in the same tone. "We learnt
all the circumstances of your wonderful flight from a letter of sixteen
pages you wrote to M. Memmo. We trembled with joy and shuddered with fear
as we read it."

"How did you know I have been in Holland?"

"M. de la Popeliniere told us about it yesterday."

M. de la Popeliniere, the fermier-general, whom I had known seven years
ago at Passi, came into the box just as his name was spoken. After
complimenting me he said that if I could carry through the same operation
for the India Company my fortune would be made.

"My advice to you is," he said, "to get yourself naturalized before it
becomes generally known that you have made half a million of money."

"Half a million! I only wish I had!"

"You must have made that at the lowest calculation."

"On the contrary, I give you my assurance, that if my claim for brokerage
is not allowed, the transaction will prove absolutely ruinous to me."

"Ah! no doubt you are right to take that tone. Meanwhile, everyone wants
to make your acquaintance, for France is deeply indebted to you. You have
caused the funds to recover in a very marked degree."

After the play was over I went to Silvia's, where I was received as if I
had been the favourite child of the family; but on the other hand I gave
them certain proofs that I wished to be regarded in that light. I was
impressed with the idea that to their unshaken friendship I owed all my
good luck, and I made the father, mother, the daughter, and the two sons,
receive the presents I had got for them. The best was for the mother, who
handed it on to her daughter. It was a pair of diamond ear-rings of great
beauty, for which I had given fifteen thousand francs. Three days after I
sent her a box containing fine linen from Holland, and choice Mechlin and
Alencon lace. Mario, who liked smoking, got a gold pipe; the father a
choice gold and enamelled snuff-box, and I gave a repeater to the younger
son, of whom I was very fond. I shall have occasion later on to speak of
this lad, whose natural qualities were far superior to his position in
life. But, you will ask, was I rich enough to make such presents?  No, I
was not, and I knew it perfectly well; but I gave these presents because
I was afraid of not being able to do so if I waited.

I set out for Versailles at day-break, and M. de Choiseul received me as
before, his hair was being dressed, but for a moment he laid down his
pen, which shewed that I had become a person of greater importance in his
eyes. After a slight but grateful compliment, he told me that if I
thought myself capable of negotiating a loan of a hundred millions to
bear interest at four per cent., he would do all in his power to help me.
My answer was that I would think it over when I heard how much I was to
have for what I had done already.

"But everybody says that you have made two hundred thousand florins by
it."

"That would not be so bad; half a million of francs would be a fair
foundation on which to build a fortune; but I can assure your excellence
that there is not a word of truth in the report. I defy anyone to prove
it; and till some substantial proof is offered, I think I can lay claim
to brokerage."

"True, true. Go to the comptroller-general and state your views to him."

M. de Boulogne stopped the occupation on which he was engaged to give me
a most friendly greeting, but when I said that he owed me a hundred
thousand florins he smiled sardonically.

"I happen to know," he said, "that you have bills of exchange to the
amount of a hundred thousand crowns payable to yourself."

"Certainly, but that money has no connection with my mission, as I can
prove to you by referring you to M. d'Afri. I have in my head an
infallible project for increasing the revenue by twenty millions, in a
manner which will cause no irritation."

"You don't say so! Communicate your plan, and I promise to get you a
pension of a hundred thousand francs, and letters of nobility as well, if
you like to become a Frenchman."

"I will think it over."

On leaving M. de Boulogne I went to the Palace, where a ballet was going
on before the Marquise de Pompadour.

She bowed to me as soon as she saw me, and on my approaching her she told
me that I was an able financier, and that the "gentlemen below" could not
appreciate my merits. She had not forgotten what I had said to her eight
years before in the theatre at Fontainebleau. I replied that all good
gifts were from above, whither, with her help, I hoped to attain.

On my return to Paris I went to the "Hotel Bourbon" to inform my patron
of the result of my journey. His advice to me was to continue to serve
the Government well, as its good fortune would come to be mine. On my
telling him of my meeting with the X. C. V.'s, he said that M. de la
Popeliniere was going to marry the elder daughter.

When I got to my house my son was nowhere to be found. My landlady told
me that a great lady had come to call on my lord, and that she had taken
him away with her. Guessing that this was Madame d'Urfe, I went to bed
without troubling myself any further. Early next morning my clerk brought
me a letter. It came from the old attorney, uncle to Gaetan's wife, whom
I had helped to escape from the jealous fury of her brutal husband. The
attorney begged me to come and speak to him at the courts, or to make an
appointment at some place where he could see me. I went to the courts and
found him there.

"My niece," he began, "found herself obliged to go into a convent; and
from this vantage ground she is pleading against her husband, with the
aid of a barrister, who will be responsible for the costs. However, to
win our case, we require the evidence of yourself, Count Tiretta, and
other servants who witnessed the scene at the inn."

I did all I could, and four months afterwards Gaetan simplified matters
by a fraudulent bankruptcy, which obliged him to leave France: in due
time and place, I shall have something more to say about him. As for his
wife, who was young and pretty, she paid her counsel in love's money, and
was very happy with him, and may be happy still for all I know, but I
have entirely lost sight of her.

After my interview with the old attorney I went to Madame---- to see
Tiretta, who was out. Madame was still in love with him, and he continued
to make a virtue of necessity. I left my address, and went to the "Hotel
de Bretagne" to pay my first call on Madame X. C. V. The lady, though she
was not over fond of me, received me with great politeness. I possibly
cut a better figure in her eyes when rich, and at Paris, then when we
were in Venice. We all know that diamonds have the strange power of
fascination, and that they form an excellent substitute for virtue!

Madame X. C. V. had with her an old Greek named Zandiri, brother to M. de
Bragadin's major-domo, who was just dead. I uttered some expressions of
sympathy, and the boor did not take the trouble to answer me, but I was
avenged for his foolish stiffness by the enthusiasm with which I was
welcomed by everyone else. The eldest girl, her sisters, and the two
sons, almost overwhelmed me with friendliness. The eldest son was only
fourteen, and was a young fellow of charming manners, but evidently
extremely independent, and sighed for the time when he would be able to
devote himself to a career of profligacy for which he was well fitted.
Mdlle. X. C. V. was both beautiful and charming in her manner, and had
received an excellent education of which, however, she made no parade.
One could not stay in her presence without loving her, but she was no
flirt, and I soon saw that she held out no vain hopes to those who had
the misfortune not to please her. Without being rude she knew how to be
cold, and it was all the worse for those whom her coldness did not shew
that their quest was useless.

The first hour I passed in her company chained me a captive to her
triumphant car. I told her as much, and she replied that she was glad to
have such a captive. She took the place in my heart where Esther had
reigned a week before, but I freely confess that Esther yielded only
because she was away. As to my attachment to Sylvia's daughter, it was of
such a nature as not to hinder me falling in love with any other woman
who chanced to take my fancy. In the libertine's heart love cannot exist
without substantial food, and women who have had some experience of the
world are well aware of this fact. The youthful Baletti was a beginner,
and so knew nothing of these things.

M. Farsetti, a Venetian of noble birth, a knight of Malta, a great
student of the occult sciences, and a good Latin versifier, came in at
one o'clock. Dinner was just ready and Madame X. C. V. begged him to
stay. She asked me also to dine with them, but wishing to dine with
Madame d'Urfe I refused the invitation for the nonce.

M. Farsetti, who had known me very well at Venice, only noticed me by a
side-glance, and without shewing any vexation I paid him back in the same
coin. He smiled at Mdlle. X. C. V.'s praise of my courage. She noticed
his expression, and as if to punish him for it went on to say that I had
now the admiration of every Venetian, and that the French were anxious to
have the honour of calling me a fellow-citizen. M. Farsetti asked me if
my post at the lottery paid well. I replied, coolly,

"Oh, yes, well enough for me to pay my clerks' salaries."

He understood the drift of my reply, and Mdlle. X. C. V. smiled.

I found my supposed son with Madame d'Urfe, or rather in that amiable
visionary's arms. She hastened to apologize for carrying him off, and I
turned it off with a jest, having no other course to take.

"I made him sleep with me," she said, "but I shall be obliged to deprive
myself of this privilege for the future, unless he promises to be more
discreet."

I thought the idea a grand one, and the little fellow, in spite of his
blushes, begged her to say how he had offended.

"We shall have the Comte de St. Germain," said Madame d'Urfe, "to dinner.
I know he amuses you, and I like you to enjoy yourself in my house."

"For that, madam, your presence is all I need; nevertheless, I thank you
for considering me."

In due course St. Germain arrived, and in his usual manner sat himself
down, not to eat but to talk. With a face of imperturbable gravity he
told the most incredible stories, which one had to pretend to believe, as
he was always either the hero of the tale or an eye witness of the event.
All the same, I could not help bursting into laughter when he told us of
something that happened as he was dining with the Fathers of the Council
of Trent.

Madame d'Urfe wore on her neck a large magnet. She said that it would one
day happen that this magnet would attract the lightning, and that she
would consequently soar into the sun. I longed to tell her that when, she
got there she could be no higher up than on the earth, but I restrained
myself; and the great charlatan hastened to say that there could be no
doubt about it, and that he, and he only, could increase the force of the
magnet a thousand times. I said, dryly, that I would wager twenty
thousand crowns he would not so much as double its force, but Madame
d'Urfe would not let us bet, and after dinner she told me in private that
I should have lost, as St. Germain was a magician. Of course I agreed
with her.

A few days later, the magician set out for Chambord, where the king had
given him a suite of rooms and a hundred thousand francs, that he might
be at liberty to work on the dyes which were to assure the superiority of
French materials over those of any other country. St. Germain had got
over the king by arranging a laboratory where he occasionally tried to
amuse himself, though he knew little about chemistry, but the king was
the victim of an almost universal weariness. To enjoy a harem recruited
from amongst the most ravishing beauties, and often from the ranks of
neophytes, with whom pleasure had its difficulties, one would have needed
to be a god, and Louis XV. was only a man after all.

It was the famous marquise who had introduced the adept to the king in
the hope of his distracting the monarch's weariness, by giving him a
taste for chemistry. Indeed Madame de Pompadour was under the impression
that St. Germain had given her the water of perpetual youth, and
therefore felt obliged to make the chemist a good return. This wondrous
water, taken according to the charlatan's directions, could not indeed
make old age retire and give way to youth, but according to the marquise
it would preserve one in statu quo for several centuries.

As a matter of fact, the water, or the giver of it, had worked wonders,
if not on her body, at least on her mind; she assured the king that she
was not getting older. The king was as much deluded by this grand
impostor as she was, for one day he shewed the Duc des Deux-Ponts a
diamond of the first water, weighing twelve carats, which he fancied he
had made himself. "I melted down," said Louis XV., "small diamonds
weighing twenty-four carats, and obtained this one large one weighing
twelve." Thus it came to pass that the infatuated monarch gave the
impostor the suite formerly occupied by Marshal Saxe. The Duc des
Deux-Ponts told me this story with his own lips, one evening, when I was
supping with him and a Swede, the Comte de Levenhoop, at Metz.

Before I left Madame d'Urfe, I told her that the lad might be he who
should make her to be born again, but that she would spoil all if she did
not wait for him to attain the age of puberty. After what she had said
about his misbehavior, the reader will guess what made me say this. She
sent him to board with Viar, gave him masters on everything, and
disguised him under the name of the Comte d'Aranda, although he was born
at Bayreuth, and though his mother never had anything to do with a
Spaniard of that name. It was three or four months before I went to see
him, as I was afraid of being insulted on account of the name which the
visionary Madame d'Urfe had given him.

One day Tiretta came to see me in a fine coach. He told me that his
elderly mistress wanted to become his wife, but that he would not hear of
it, though she offered to endow him with all her worldly goods. I told
him that if he gave in he might pay his debts, return to Trevisa, and
live pleasantly there; but his destiny would not allow him to take my
advice.

I had resolved on taking a country house, and fixed on one called "Little
Poland," which pleased me better than all the others I had seen. It was
well furnished, and was a hundred paces distant from the Madeleine Gate.
It was situated on slightly elevated ground near the royal park, behind
the Duc de Grammont's garden, and its owner had given it the name of
"Pleasant Warsaw." It had two gardens, one of which was on a level with
the first floor, three reception rooms, large stables, coach houses,
baths, a good cellar, and a splendid kitchen. The master was called "The
Butter King," and always wrote himself down so; the name had been given
to him by Louis XV. on the monarch's stopping at the house and liking the
butter. The "Butter King" let me his house for a hundred Louis per annum,
and he gave me an excellent cook called "The Pearl," a true blue-ribbon
of the order of cooks, and to her he gave charge of all his furniture and
the plate I should want for a dinner of six persons, engaging to get me
as much plate as I wanted at the hire of a sous an ounce. He also
promised to let me have what wine I wanted, and said all he had was of
the best, and, moreover, cheaper than I could get it at Paris, as he had
no gate-money to pay on it.

Matters having been arranged on these terms, in the course of a week I
got a good coachman, two fine carriages, five horses, a groom, and two
footmen. Madame d'Urfe, who was my first guest, was delighted with my new
abode, and as she imagined that I had done it all for her, I left her in
that flattering opinion. I never could believe in the morality of
snatching from poor mortal man the delusions which make them happy. I
also let her retain the notion that young d'Aranda, the count of her own
making, was a scion of the nobility, that he was born for a mysterious
operation unknown to the rest of mankind, that I was only his caretaker
(here I spoke the truth), and that he must die and yet not cease to live.
All these whimsical ideas were the products of her brain, which was only
occupied with the impossible, and I thought the best thing I could do was
to agree with everything. If I had tried to undeceive her, she would have
accused me of want of trust in her, for she was convinced that all her
knowledge was revealed to her by her genius, who spoke to her only by
night. After she had dined with me I took her back to her house, full of
happiness.

Camille sent me a lottery ticket, which she had invested in at my office,
and which proved to be a winning one, I think, for a thousand crowns or
thereabouts. She asked me to come and sup with her, and bring the money
with me. I accepted her invitation, and found her surrounded by all the
girls she knew and their lovers. After supper I was asked to go to the
opera with them, but we had scarcely got there when I lost my party in
the crowd. I had no mask on, and I soon found myself attacked by a black
domino, whom I knew to be a woman, and as she told me a hundred truths
about myself in a falsetto voice, I was interested, and determined on
finding out who she was. At last I succeeded in persuading her to come
with me into a box, and as soon as we were in and I had taken off her
mask I was astonished to find she was Mdlle. X. C. V.

"I have come to the ball," said she, "with one of my sisters, my elder
brother, and M. Farsetti. I left them to go into a box and change my
domino:

"They must feel very uneasy."

"I dare say they do, but I am not going to take pity on them till the end
of the ball."

Finding myself alone with her, and certain of having her in my company
for the rest of the night, I began to talk of our old love-making; and I
took care to say that I was more in love with her than ever. She listened
to me kindly, did not oppose my embraces, and by the few obstacles she
placed in my way I judged that the happy moment was not far off.
Nevertheless I felt that I must practice restraint that evening, and she
let me see that she was obliged to me.

"I heard at Versailles, my dear mademoiselle, that you are going to marry
M. de la Popeliniere."

"So they say. My mother wishes me to do so, and the old financier fancies
he has got me in his talons already; but he makes a mistake, as I will
never consent to such a thing."

"He is old, but he is very rich."

"He is very rich and very generous, for he promises me a dowry of a
million if I become a widow without children; and if I had a son he would
leave me all his property."

"You wouldn't have much difficulty in complying with the second
alternative."

"I shall never have anything to do with his money, for I should never
make my life miserable by a marriage with a man whom I do not love, while
I do love another."

"Another! Who is the fortunate mortal to whom you have given your heart's
treasure?"

"I do not know if my loved one is fortunate. My lover is a Venetian, and
my mother knows of it; but she says that I should not be happy, that he
is not worthy of me."

"Your mother is a strange woman, always crossing your affections."

"I cannot be angry with her. She may possibly be wrong, but she certainly
loves me. She would rather that I should marry M. Farsetti, who would be
very glad to have me, but I detest him."

"Has he made a declaration in terms?"

"He has, and all the marks of contempt I have given him seem to have no
effect."

"He clings hard to hope; but the truth is you have fascinated him."

"Possibly, but I do not think him susceptible of any tender or generous
feeling. He is a visionary; surly, jealous, and envious in his
disposition. When he heard me expressing myself about you in the manner
you deserve, he had the impudence to say to my mother before my face that
she ought not to receive you."

"He deserves that I should give him a lesson in manners, but there are
other ways in which he may be punished. I shall be delighted to serve you
in any way I can."

"Alas! if I could only count on your friendship I should be happy."

The sigh with which she uttered these words sent fire through my veins,
and I told her that I was her devoted slave; that I had fifty thousand
crowns which were at her service, and that I would risk my life to win
her favours. She replied that she was truly grateful to me, and as she
threw her arms about my neck our lips met, but I saw that she was
weeping, so I took care that the fire which her kisses raised should be
kept within bounds. She begged me to come and see her often, promising
that as often as she could manage it we should be alone. I could ask no
more, and after I had promised to come and dine with them on the morrow,
we parted.

I passed an hour in walking behind her, enjoying my new position of
intimate friend, and I then returned to my Little Poland. It was a short
distance, for though I lived in the country I could get to any part of
Paris in a quarter of an hour. I had a clever coachman, and capital
horses not used to being spared. I got them from the royal stables, and
as soon as I lost one I got another from the same place, having to pay
two hundred francs. This happened to me several times, for, to my mind,
going fast is one of the greatest pleasures which Paris offers.

Having accepted an invitation to dinner at the X. C. V.'s, I did not give
myself much time for sleep, and I went out on foot with a cloak on. The
snow was falling in large flakes, and when I got to madame's I was as
white as a sheet from head to foot. She gave me a hearty welcome,
laughing, and saying that her daughter had been telling her how she had
puzzled me, and that she was delighted to see me come to dinner without
ceremony. "But," added she, "it's Friday today, and you will have to
fast, though, after all, the fish is very good. Dinner is not ready yet.
You had better go and see my daughter, who is still a-bed."

As may be imagined, this invitation had not to be repeated, for a pretty
woman looks better in bed than anywhere else. I found Mdlle. X. C. V.
sitting up in bed writing, but she stopped as soon as she saw me.

"How is this, sweet lie-a-bed, not up yet?"

"Yes, I am staying in bed partly because I feel lazy, and partly because
I am freer here."

"I was afraid you were not quite well."

"Nor am I. However, we will say no more about that now. I am just going
to take some soup, as those who foolishly establish the institution of
fasting were not polite enough to ask my opinion on the subject. It does
not agree with my health, and I don't like it, so I am not going to get
up even to sit at table, though I shall thus deprive myself of your
society."

I naturally told her that in her absence dinner would have no savour; and
I spoke the truth.

As the presence of her sister did not disturb us, she took out of her
pocket-book an epistle in verse which I had addressed to her when her
mother had forbidden me the house. "This fatal letter," said she, "which
you called 'The Phoenix,' has shaped my life and may prove the cause of
my death."

I had called it the Phoenix because, after bewailing my unhappy lot, I
proceeded to predict how she would afterwards give her heart to a mortal
whose qualities would make him deserve the name of Phoenix. A hundred
lines were taken up in the description of these imaginary mental and
moral characteristics, and certainly the being who should have them all
would be right worthy of worship, for he would be rather a god than a
man.

"Alas!" said Mdlle. X. C. V., "I fell in love with this imaginary being,
and feeling certain that such an one must exist I set myself to look for
him. After six months I thought I had found him. I gave him my heart, I
received his, we loved each other fondly. But for the last four months we
have been separated, and during the whole time I have only had one letter
from him. Yet I must not blame him, for I know he cannot help it. Such,
is my sorry fate: I can neither hear from him nor write to him:"

This story was a confirmation of a theory of mine namely, that the most
important events in our lives proceed often from the most trifling
causes. My epistle was nothing better than a number of lines of poetry
more or less well written, and the being I had delineated was certainly
not to be found, as he surpassed by far all human perfections, but a
woman's heart travels so quickly and so far! Mdlle. X. C. V. took the
thing literally, and fell in love with a chimera of goodness, and then
was fain to turn this into a real lover, not thinking of the vast
difference between the ideal and the real. For all that, when she thought
that she had found the original of my fancy portrait, she had no
difficulty in endowing him with all the good qualities I had pictured. Of
course Mdlle. X. C. V. would have fallen in love if I had never written
her a letter in verse, but she would have done so in a different manner,
and probably with different results.

As soon as dinner was served we were summoned to do justice to the choice
fish which M. de la Popeliniere had provided. Madame X. C. V. a
narrowminded Greek, was naturally bigoted and superstitious. In the mind
of a silly woman the idea of an alliance between the most opposite of
beings, God and the Devil, seems quite natural. A priest had told her
that, since she had converted her husband, her salvation was secure, for
the Scriptures solemnly promised a soul for a soul to every one who would
lead a heretic or a heathen within the fold of the church. And as Madame
X. C. V. had converted her husband, she felt no anxiety about the life of
the world to come, as she had done all that was necessary. However, she
ate fish on the days appointed; the reason being that she preferred it to
flesh.

Dinner over, I returned to the lady's bedside, and there stayed till
nearly nine o'clock, keeping my passions well under control all the time.
I was foppish enough to think that her feelings were as lively as mine,
and I did not care to shew myself less self-restrained than she, though I
knew then, as I know now, that this was a false line of argument. It is
the same with opportunity as with fortune; one must seize them when they
come to us, or else they go by, often to return no more.

Not seeing Farsetti at the table, I suspected there had been a quarrel,
and I asked my sweetheart about it; but she told me I was mistaken in
supposing they had quarreled with him, and that the reason of his absence
was that he would never leave his house on a Friday. The deluded man had
had his horoscope drawn, and learning by it that he would be assassinated
on a Friday he resolved always to shut himself up on that day. He was
laughed at, but persisted in the same course till he died four years ago
at the age of seventy. He thought to prove by the success of his
precautions that a man's destiny depends on his discretion, and on the
precautions he takes to avoid the misfortunes of which he has had
warning. The line of argument holds good in all cases except when the
misfortunes are predicted in a horoscope; for either the ills predicted
are avoidable, in which case the horoscope is a useless piece of folly,
or else the horoscope is the interpreter of destiny, in which case all
the precautions in the world are of no avail. The Chevalier Farsetti was
therefore a fool to imagine he had proved anything at all. He would have
proved a good deal for many people if he had gone out on a Friday, and
had chanced to have been assassinated. Picas de la Mirandola, who
believed in astrology, says, "I have no doubt truly, 'Astra influunt, non
cogunt.'" But would it have been a real proof of the truth of astrology,
if Farsetti had been assassinated on a Friday? In my opinion, certainly
not.

The Comte d'Eigreville had introduced me to his sister, the Comtesse du
Remain, who had been wanting to make my acquaintance ever since she had
heard of my oracle. It was not long before I made friends with her
husband and her two daughters, the elder of whom, nicknamed "Cotenfau,"
married M. de Polignac later on. Madame du Remain was handsome rather
than pretty, but she won the love of all by her kindness, her frank
courtesy, and her eagerness to be of service to her friends. She had a
magnificent figure, and would have awed the whole bench of judges if she
had pleaded before them.

At her house I got to know Mesdames de Valbelle and de Rancerolles, the
Princess de Chimai, and many others who were then in the best society of
Paris. Although Madame du Remain was not a proficient in the occult
sciences, she had nevertheless consulted my oracle more frequently than
Madame d'Urfe. She was of the utmost service to me in connection with an
unhappy circumstance of which I shall speak presently.

The day after my long conversation with Mdlle. X. C. V., my servant told
me that there was a young man waiting who wanted to give me a letter with
his own hands. I had him in, and on my asking him from whom the letter
came, he replied that I should find all particulars in the letter, and
that he had orders to wait for an answer. The epistle ran as follows:

"I am writing this at two o'clock in the morning. I am weary and in need
of rest, but a burden on my soul deprives me of sleep. The secret I am
about to tell you will no longer be so grievous when I have confided in
you; I shall feel eased by placing it in your breast. I am with child,
and my situation drives me to despair. I was obliged to write to you
because I felt I could not say it. Give me a word in reply."

My feelings on reading the above may be guessed. I was petrified with
astonishment and could only write, "I will be with you at eleven
o'clock."

No one should say that he has passed through great misfortunes unless
they have proved too great for his mind to bear. The confidence of Mdlle.
X. C. V. shewed me that she was in need of support. I congratulated
myself on having the preference, and I vowed to do my best for her did it
cost me my life. These were the thoughts of a lover, but for all that I
could not conceal from myself the imprudence of the step she had taken.
In such cases as these there is always the choice between speaking or
writing, and the only feeling which can give the preference to writing is
false shame, at bottom mere cowardice. If I had not been in love with
her, I should have found it easier to have refused my aid in writing than
if she had spoken to me, but I loved her to distraction.

"Yes," said I to myself, "she can count on me. Her mishap makes her all
the dearer to me."

And below this there was another voice, a voice which whispered to me
that if I succeeded in saving her my reward was sure. I am well aware
that more than one grave moralist will fling stones at me for this
avowal, but my answer is that such men cannot be in love as I was.

I was punctual to my appointment, and found the fair unfortunate at the
door of the hotel.

"You are going out, are you? Where are you going?"

"I am going to mass at the Church of the Augustinians."

"Is this a saint's day?"

"No; but my mother makes me go every day."

"I will come with you."

"Yes do, give me your arm; we will go into the cloisters and talk there."

Mdlle. X. C. V. was accompanied by her maid, but she knew better than to
be in the way, so we left her in the cloisters. As soon as we were alone
she said to me,

"Have you read my letter?"

"Yes, of course; here it is, burn it yourself."

"No, keep it, and do so with your own hands."

"I see you trust in me, and I assure you I will not abuse your trust."

"I am sure you will not. I am four months with child; I can doubt it no
longer, and the thought maddens me!"

"Comfort yourself, we will find some way to get over it."

"Yes; I leave all to you. You must procure an abortion."

"Never, dearest! that is a crime!"

"Alas! I know that well; but it is not a greater crime than suicide, and
there lies my choice: either to destroy the wretched witness of my shame,
or to poison myself. For the latter alternative I have everything ready.
You are my only friend, and it is for you to decide which it shall be.
Speak to me! Are you angry that I have not gone to the Chevalier Farsetti
before you?"

She saw my astonishment, and stopped short, and tried to wipe away the
tears which escaped from her eyes. My heart bled for her.

"Laying the question of crime on one side," said I, "abortion is out of
our power. If the means employed are not violent they are uncertain, and
if they are violent they are dangerous to the mother. I will never risk
becoming your executioner; but reckon on me, I will not forsake you. Your
honour is as dear to me as your life. Becalm, and henceforth think that
the peril is mine, not yours. Make up your mind that I shall find some
way of escape, and that there will be no need to cut short that life, to
preserve which I would gladly die. And allow me to say that when I read
your note I felt glad, I could not help it, that at such an emergency you
chose me before all others to be your helper. You will find that your
trust was not given in vain, for no one loves you as well as I, and no
one is so fain to help you. Later you shall begin to take the remedies I
will get for you, but I warn you to be on your guard, for this is a
serious matter--one of life and death. Possibly you have already told
somebody about it--your maid or one of your sisters?"

"I have not told anybody but you, not even the author of my shame. I
tremble when I think what my mother would do and say if she found out my
situation. I am afraid she will draw her conclusions from my shape."

"So far there is nothing to be observed in that direction, the beauty of
the outline still remains intact."

"But every day increases its size, and for that reason we must be quick
in what we do. You must find a surgeon who does not know my name and take
me to him to be bled."

"I will not run the risk, it might lead to the discovery of the whole
affair. I will bleed you myself; it is a simple operation."

"How grateful I am to you! I feel as if you had already brought me from
death to life. What I should like you to do would be to take me to a
midwife's. We can easily go without attracting any notice at the first
ball at the opera."

"Yes, sweetheart, but that step is not necessary, and it might lead to
our betrayal."

"No, no, in this great town there are midwives in every quarter, and we
should never be known; we might keep our masks on all the time. Do me
this kindness. A midwife's opinion is certainly worth having."

I could not refuse her request, but I made her agree to wait till the
last ball, as the crowd was always greater, and we had a better chance of
going out free from observation. I promised to be there in a black domino
with a white mask in the Venetian fashion, and a rose painted beside the
left eye. As soon as she saw me go out she was to follow me into a
carriage. All this was carried out, but more of it anon.

I returned with her, and dined with them without taking any notice of
Farsetti, who was also at the table, and had seen me come back from mass
with her. We did not speak a word to one another; he did not like me and
I despised him.

I must here relate a grievous mistake of which I was guilty, and which I
have not yet forgiven myself.

I had promised to take Mdlle. X. C. V. to a midwife, but I certainly
ought to have taken her to a respectable woman's, for all we wanted to
know was how a pregnant woman should regulate her diet and manner of
living. But my evil genius took me by the Rue St. Louis, and there I saw
the Montigni entering her house with a pretty girl whom I did not know,
and so out of curiosity I went in after them. After amusing myself there,
with Mdlle. X. C. V. running in my head all the time, I asked the woman
to give me the address of a midwife, as I wanted to consult one. She told
me of a house in the Marais, where according to her dwelt the pearl of
midwives, and began telling me some stories of her exploits, which all
went to prove that the woman was an infamous character. I took her
address, however, and as I should have to go there by night, I went the
next day to see where the house was.

Mdlle. X. C. V. began to take the remedies which I brought her, which
ought to have weakened and destroyed the result of love, but as she did
not experience any benefit, she was impatient to consult a midwife. On
the night of the last ball she recognized me as we had agreed, and
followed me out into the coach she saw me enter, and in less than a
quarter of an hour we reached the house of shame.

A woman of about fifty received us with great politeness, and asked what
she could do.

Mdlle. X. C. V. told her that she believed herself pregnant, and that she
desired some means of concealing her misfortune. The wretch answered with
a smile that she might as well tell her plainly that it would be easy to
procure abortion. "I will do your business," said she, "for fifty Louis,
half to be paid in advance on account of drugs, and the rest when it's
all over. I will trust in your honesty, and you will have to trust in
mine. Give me the twenty-five Louis down, and come or send to-morrow for
the drugs, and instructions for using them."

So saying she turned up her clothes without any ceremony, and as I, at
Mdlle. X. C. V.'s request, looked away, she felt her and pronounced, as
she let down her dress, that she was not beyond the fourth month.

"If my drugs," said she, "contrary to my expectation, do not do any good,
we will try some other ways, and, in any case, if I do not succeed in
obliging you I will return you your money."

"I don't doubt it for a moment," said I, "but would you tell me what are
those other ways!"

"I should tell the lady how to destroy the foetus."

I might have told her that to kill the child meant giving a mortal wound
to the mother, but I did not feel inclined to enter into a argument with
this vile creature.

"If madame decides on taking your advice," said I, "I will bring you the
money for drugs to-morrow."

I gave her two Louis and left. Mdlle. X. C. V. told me that she had no
doubt of the infamy of this woman, as she was sure it was impossible to
destroy the offspring without the risk of killing the mother also. "My
only trust," said she, "is in you." I encouraged her in this idea,
dissuading her from any criminal attempts, and assured her over and over
again that she should not find her trust in me misplaced. All at once she
complained of feeling cold, and asked if we had not time to warm
ourselves in Little Poland, saying that she longed to see my pretty
house. I was surprised and delighted with the idea. The night was too
dark for her to see the exterior charms of my abode, she would have to
satisfy herself with the inside, and leave the rest to her imagination. I
thought my hour had come. I made the coach stop and we got down and
walked some way, and then took another at the corner of the Rue de la
Ferannerie. I promised the coachman six francs beyond his fare, and in a
quarter of an hour he put us down at my door.

I rang with the touch of the master, the Pearl opened the door, and told
me that there was nobody within, as I very well knew, but it was her
habit to do so.

"Quick!" said I, "light us a fire, and bring some glasses and a bottle of
champagne."

"Would you like an omelette?"

"Very well."

"Oh, I should like an omelette so much!" said Mdlle. X. C. V. She was
ravishing, and her laughing air seemed to promise me a moment of bliss. I
sat down before the blazing fire and made her sit on my knee, covering
her with kisses which she gave me back as lovingly. I had almost won what
I wanted when she asked me in a sweet voice to stop. I obeyed, thinking
it would please her, feeling sure that she only delayed my victory to
make it more complete, and that she would surrender after the champagne.
I saw love, kindness, trust, and gratitude shining in her face, and I
should have been sorry for her to think that I claimed her as a mere
reward. No, I wanted her love, and nothing but her love.

At last we got to our last glass of champagne, we rose from the table,
and sentimentally but with gentle force I laid her on a couch and held
her amorously in my arms. But instead of giving herself up to my embraces
she resisted them, at first by those prayers which usually make lovers
more enterprising, then by serious remonstrances, and at last by force.
This was too much, the mere idea of using violence has always shocked me,
and I am still of opinion that the only pleasure in the amorous embrace
springs from perfect union and agreement. I pleaded my cause in every
way, I painted myself as the lover flattered, deceived, despised! At last
I told her that I had had a cruel awakening, and I saw that the shaft
went home. I fell on my knees and begged her to forgive me. "Alas!" said
she, in a voice full of sadness, "I am no longer mistress of my heart,
and have far greater cause for grief than you." The tears flowed fast
down her cheeks, her head rested on my shoulder, and our lips met; but
for all that the piece was over. The idea of renewing the attack never
came into my head, and if it had I should have scornfully rejected it.
After a long silence, of which we both stood in need, she to conquer her
shame, and I to repress my anger, we put on our masks and returned to the
opera. On our way she dared to tell me that she should be obliged to
decline my friendship if she had to pay for it so dearly.

"The emotions of love," I replied, "should yield to those of honour, and
your honour as well as mine require us to continue friends. What I would
have done for love I will now do for devoted friendship, and for the
future I will die rather than make another attempt to gain those favours
of which I thought you deemed me worthy."

We separated at the opera, and the vast crowd made me lose sight of her
in an instant. Next day she told me that she had danced all night. She
possibly hoped to find in that exercise the cure which no medicine seemed
likely to give her.

I returned to my house in a bad humour, trying in vain to justify a
refusal which seemed humiliating and almost incredible. My good sense
shewed me, in spite of all sophisms, that I had been grievously insulted.
I recollected the witty saying of Populia, who was never unfaithful to
her husband except when she was with child; "Non tollo vectorem," said
she, "nisi navi plena."

I felt certain that I was not loved, and the thought grieved me; and I
considered that it would be unworthy of me to love one whom I could no
longer hope to possess. I resolved to avenge myself by leaving her to her
fate, feeling that I could not allow myself to be duped as I had been.

The night brought wisdom with it, and when I awoke in the morning my mind
was calm and I was still in love. I determined to act generously by the
unfortunate girl. Without my aid she would be ruined; my course, then,
would be to continue my services and to shew myself indifferent to her
favours. The part was no easy one, but I played it right well, and at
last my reward came of itself.



CHAPTER VII

I Continue My Relations With Mdlle. X. C. V.--Vain Attempts to Procure
Abortion--The Aroph--She Flies From Home and Takes Refuge in a Convent

The difficulties I encountered only served to increase my love for my
charming Englishwoman. I went to see her every morning, and as my
interest in her condition was genuine, she could have no suspicion that I
was acting a part, or attribute my care of her to anything but the most
delicate feelings. For her part she seemed well pleased in the alteration
of my behaviour, though her satisfaction may very probably have been
assumed. I understood women well enough to know that though she did not
love me she was probably annoyed at seeing my new character sit upon me
so easily.

One morning in the midst of an unimportant and disconnected conversation,
she complimented me upon my strength of mind in subduing my passion,
adding, with a smile, that my desire could not have pricked me very
sharply, seeing that I had cured myself so well in the course of a week.
I quietly replied that I owed my cure not to the weakness of my passion
but to my self-respect.

"I know my own character," I said, "and without undue presumption, I
think I may say that I am worthy of a woman's love. Naturally, after your
convincing me that you think differently, I feel humiliated and
indignant. Do you know what effect such feelings have on the heart?"

"Alas!" said she, "I know too well. Their effect is to inspire one with
contempt for her who gave rise to them."

"That is going too far, at least in my case. My indignation was merely
succeeded by a renewed confidence in myself, and a determination to be
revenged."

"To be revenged! In what way?"

"I wish to compel you to esteem me, by proving to you that I am lord of
myself, and can pass by with indifference what I once so ardently
desired. I do not know whether I have succeeded yet, but I may say that I
can now contemplate your charms without desiring to possess them."

"You are making a mistake, for I never ceased to esteem you, and I
esteemed you as much a week ago as I do to-day. Nor for a moment I did
think you capable of leaving me to my fate as a punishment for having
refused to give way to your transports, and I am glad that I read your
character rightly."

We went on to speak of the opiate I made her take, and as she saw no
change in her condition she wanted me to increase the dose--a request I
took care not to grant, as I knew that more than half a drachm might kill
her. I also forbade her to bleed herself again, as she might do herself a
serious injury without gaining anything by it. Her maid, of whom she had
been obliged to make a confidante, had had her bled by a student, her
lover. I told Mdlle. X. C. V. that if she wanted these people to keep her
counsel she must be liberal with them, and she replied that she had no
money. I offered her money and she accepted fifty louis, assuring me that
she would repay me that sum which she needed for her brother Richard. I
had not as much money about me, but I sent her the same day a packet of
twelve hundred francs with a note in which I begged her to have recourse
to me in all her necessities. Her brother got the money, and thought
himself authorized to apply to me for aid in a much more important
matter.

He was a young man and a profligate, and had got into a house of
ill-fame, from which he came out in sorry plight. He complained bitterly
that M. Farsetti had refused to lend him four louis, and he asked me to
speak to his mother that she might pay for his cure. I consented, but
when his mother heard what was the matter with him, she said it would be
much better to leave him as he was, as this was the third time he had
been in this condition, and that to have him cured was a waste of money,
as no sooner was he well than he began his dissipated life afresh. She
was quite right, for I had him cured at my expense by an able surgeon,
and he was in the same way a month after. This young man seemed intended
by nature for shameful excesses, for at the age of fourteen he was an
accomplished profligate.

His sister was now six months with child, and as her figure grew great so
did her despair. She resolved not to leave her bed, and it grieved me to
see her thus cast down. Thinking me perfectly cured of my passion for
her, she treated me purely as a friend, making me touch her all over to
convince me that she dare not shew herself any longer. I played in short
the part of a midwife, but with what a struggle! I had to pretend to be
calm and unconcerned when I was consumed with passion. She spoke of
killing herself in a manner that made me shudder, as I saw that she had
reflected on what she was saying. I was in a difficult position when
fortune came to my assistance in a strange and amusing manner.

One day, as I was dining with Madame d'Urfe, I asked her if she knew of
any way by which a girl, who had allowed her lover to go too far, might
be protected from shame. "I know of an infallible method," she replied,
"the aroph of Paracelsus to wit, and it is easy of application. Do you
wish to know more about it?" she added; and without waiting for me to
answer she brought a manuscript, and put it in my hands. This powerful
emmenagogue was a kind of unguent composed of several drugs, such as
saffron, myrrh, etc., compounded with virgin honey. To obtain the
necessary result one had to employ a cylindrical machine covered with
extremely soft skin, thick enough to fill the opening of the vagina, and
long enough to reach the opening of the reservoir or case containing the
foetus. The end of this apparatus was to be well anointed with aroph, and
as it only acted at a moment of uterine excitement it was necessary to
apply it with the same movement as that of coition. The dose had to be
repeated five or six times a day for a whole week.

This nostrum, and the manner of administering it, struck me in so
laughable a light that I could not keep my countenance. I laughed with
all my heart, but for all that I spent the next two hours in reading the
dreams of Paracelsus, in which Madame d'Urfe put more trust than in the
truths of the Gospel; I afterwards referred to Boerhaave, who speaks of
the aroph in more reasonable terms.

Seeing, as I have remarked, the charming X. C. V. several hours a day
without any kind of constraint, feeling in love with her all the time,
and always restraining my feelings, it is no wonder if the hidden fire
threatened at every moment to leap up from the ashes of its concealment.
Her image pursued me unceasingly, of her I always thought, and every day
made it more evident that I should know rest no more till I succeeded in
extinguishing my passion by obtaining possession of all her charms.

As I was thinking of her by myself I resolved to tell her of my
discovery, hoping she would need my help in the introduction of the
cylinder. I went to see her at ten o'clock, and found her, as usual, in
bed; she was weeping because the opiate I gave her did not take effect. I
thought the time a good one for introducing the aroph of Paracelsus,
which I assured her was an infallible means of attaining the end she
desired; but whilst I was singing the praises of this application the
idea came into my head to say that, to be absolutely certain, it was
necessary for the aroph to be mingled with semen which had not lost its
natural heat.

"This mixture," said I, "moistening several times a day the opening of
the womb, weakens it to such a degree that the foetus is expelled by its
own weight:"

To these details I added lengthy arguments to persuade her of the
efficacy of this cure, and then, seeing that she was absorbed in thought,
I said that as her lover was away she would want a sure friend to live in
the same house with her, and give her the dose according to the
directions of Paracelsus.

All at once she burst into a peal of laughter, and asked me if I had been
jesting all the time.

I thought the game was up. The remedy was an absurd one, on the face of
it; and if her common sense told her as much it would also make her guess
my motive. But what limits are there to the credulity of a woman in her
condition?

"If you wish," said I, persuasively, "I will give you the manuscript
where all that I have said is set down plainly. I will also shew you what
Boerhaeve thinks about it."

I saw that these words convinced her; they had acted on her as if by
magic, and I went on while the iron was hot.

"The aroph," said I, "is the most powerful agent for bringing on
menstruation."

"And that is incompatible with the state I am now in; so the aroph should
procure me a secret deliverance. Do you know its composition?"

"Certainly; it is quite a simple preparation composed of certain
ingredients which are well known to me, and which have to be made into a
paste with butter or virgin honey. But this composition must touch the
orifice of the uterus at a moment of extreme excitement."

"But in that case it seems to me that the person who gives the dose must
be in love."

"Certainly, unless he is a mere animal requiring only physical
incentives."

She was silent for some time, for though she was quick-witted enough, a
woman's natural modesty and her own frankness, prevented her from
guessing at my artifice. I, too, astonished at my success in making her
believe this fable, remained silent.

At last, breaking the silence, she said, sadly,

"The method seems to me an excellent one, but I do not think I ought to
make use of it."

Then she asked me if the aroph took much time to make.

"Two hours at most," I answered, "if I succeed in procuring English
saffron, which Paracelsus prefers to the Oriental saffron."

At that moment her mother and the Chevalier Farsetti came in, and after
some talk of no consequence she asked me to stay to dinner. I was going
to decline, when Mdlle. X. C. V. said she would sit at table, on which I
accepted; and we all left the room to give her time to dress. She was not
long in dressing, and when she appeared her figure seemed to me quite
nymph-like. I was astonished, and could scarcely believe my eyes, and I
was on the point of thinking that I had been imposed on, for I could not
imagine how she could manage to conceal the fulness I had felt with my
own hands.

M. Farsetti sat by her, and I by the mother. Mdlle. X. C. V., whose head
was full of the aroph, asked her neighbour, who gave himself out for a
great chemist, if he knew it.

"I fancy I know it better than anyone," answered Farsetti, in a
self-satisfied manner.

"What is it good for?"

"That is too vague a question."

"What does the word mean?"

"It is an Arabic word, of which I do not know the meaning; but no doubt
Paracelsus would tell us."

"The word," said I, "is neither Arabic nor Hebrew, nor, indeed, of any
language at all. It is a contraction which conceals two other words."

"Can you tell us what they are?" said the chevalier.

"Certainly; aro comes from aroma, and ph is the initial of
philosophorum:"

"Did you get that out of Paracelsus?" said Farsetti, evidently annoyed.

"No, sir; I saw it in Boerhaave."

"That's good," said he, sarcastically; "Boerhaave says nothing of the
sort, but I like a man who quotes readily."

"Laugh, sir, if you like," said I, proudly, "but here is the test of what
I say; accept the wager if you dare. I don't quote falsely, like persons
who talk of words being Arabic."

So saying I flung a purse of gold on the table, but Farsetti, who was by
no means sure of what he was saying, answered disdainfully that he never
betted.

However, Mdlle. X. C. V., enjoying his confusion, told him that was the
best way never to lose, and began to joke him on his Arabic derivation.
But, for my part, I replaced my purse in my pocket, and on some trifling
pretext went out and sent my servant to Madame d'Urfe's to get me
Boerhaave.

On my return to the room I sat down again at table, and joined gaily in
the conversation till the return of my messenger with the book. I opened
it, and as I had been reading it the evening before I soon found the
place I wanted, and giving it to him begged him to satisfy himself that I
had quoted not readily but exactly. Instead of taking the book, he got up
and went out without saying a word.

"He has gone away in a rage," said the mother; "and I would wager
anything that he will not come back again."

"I wager he will," said the daughter, "he will honour us with his
agreeable company before to-morrow's sun has set."

She was right. From that day Farsetti became my determined enemy, and let
no opportunity slip of convincing me of his hatred.

After dinner we all went to Passy to be present at a concert given by M.
de la Popeliniere, who made us stay to supper. I found there Silvia and
her charming daughter, who pouted at me and not without cause, as I had
neglected her. The famous adept, St. Germain, enlivened the table with
his wild tirades so finely delivered. I have never seen a more
intellectual or amusing charlatan than he.

Next day I shut myself up to answer a host of questions that Esther had
sent me. I took care to answer all those bearing on business matters as
obscurely as possible, not only for the credit of the oracle, but also
for fear of misleading the father and making him lose money. The worthy
man was the most honest of Dutch millionaires, but he might easily make a
large hole in his fortune, if he did not absolutely ruin himself, by
putting an implicit trust in my infallibility. As for Esther, I confess
that she was now no more to me than a pleasant memory.

In spite of my pretence of indifference, my whole heart was given to
Mdlle. X. C. V., and I dreaded the moment when she would be no longer
able to hide her condition from her family. I was sorry for having spoken
about the aroph, as three days had gone by without her mentioning it, and
I could not very well reopen the question myself. I was afraid that she
suspected my motives, and that the esteem she professed for me had been
replaced by a much less friendly sentiment. I felt that her scorn would
be too much for me to bear. So humiliated was I that I could not visit
her, and I doubt if I should have seen her again if she had not
intervened. She wrote me a note, in which she said I was her only friend,
and that the only mark of friendship she wanted was that I should come
and see her every day, if it were but for a moment. I hasted to take her
my reply in my own person, and promised not to neglect her, assuring her
that at all hazards she might rely on me. I flattered myself that she
would mention the aroph, but she did not do so. I concluded that, after
thinking it over, she had resolved to think no more about it.

"Would you like me," I said, "to invite your mother and the rest of you
to dine with me?"

"I shall be delighted," she replied. "It will be a forbidden pleasure to
me before long."

I gave them a dinner both sumptuous and delicate. I had spared no expense
to have everything of the best. I had asked Silvia, her charming
daughter, an Italian musician named Magali, with whom a sister of Mdlle.
X. C. V.'s was taken, and the famous bass La Garde. Mdlle. X. C. V. was
in the highest spirits all the time. Sallies of wit, jests, good stories
and enjoyment, were the soul of the banquet. We did not separate till
midnight, and before leaving Mdlle. X. C. V. found a moment to whisper to
me to come and see her early next morning, as she wanted to speak to me
on matters of importance.

It will be guessed that I accepted the invitation. I waited on her before
eight o'clock. She was very melancholy, and told me that she was in
despair, that la Popeliniere pressed on the marriage, and that her mother
persecuted her.

"She tells me that I must sign the contract, and that the dressmaker will
soon be coming to take my measure for my wedding dress. To that I cannot
consent, for a dressmaker would certainly see my situation. I will die
rather than confide in my mother, or marry before I am delivered."

"There is always time enough to talk about dying," said I, "when all
other means have failed. I think you could easily get rid of la
Popeliniere, who is a man of honour. Tell him how you are situated, and
he will act without compromising you, as his own interest is sufficiently
involved to make him keep the secret."

"But should I be much better off then?  And how about my mother?"

"Your mother?  Oh! I will make her listen to reason."

"You know not what she is like. The honour of the family would oblige her
to get me out of the way, but before that she would make me suffer
torments to which death is preferable by far. But why have you said no
more about the aroph?  Is it not all a jest?  It would be a very cruel
one."

"On the contrary, I believe it to be infallible, though I have never been
a witness of its effects; but what good is it for me to speak to you?
You can guess that a delicacy of feeling has made me keep silence.
Confide in your lover, who is at Venice; write him a letter, and I will
take care that it is given into his hands, in five or six days, by a sure
messenger. If he is not well off I will give you whatever money may be
needed for him to come without delay, and save your honour and life by
giving you the aroph."

"This idea is a good one and the offer generous on your part, but it is
not feasible, as you would see if you knew more about my circumstances.
Do not think any more of my lover; but supposing I made up my mind to
receive the aroph from another, tell me how it could be done. Even if my
lover were in Paris, how could he spend an entire week with me, as he
would have to?  And how could he give me the dose five or six times a day
for a week? You see yourself that this remedy is out of the question."

"So you would give yourself to another, if you thought that would save
your honour?"

"Certainly, if I were sure that the thing would be kept secret. But where
shall I find such a person?  Do you think he would be easy to find, or
that I can go and look for him?"

I did not know what to make of this speech; for she knew I loved her, and
I did not see why she should put herself to the trouble of going far when
what she wanted was to her hand. I was inclined to think that she wanted
me to ask her to make choice of myself as the administrator of the
remedy, either to spare her modesty, or to have the merit of yielding to
my love and thus obliging me to be grateful; but I might be wrong, and I
did not care to expose myself to the humiliation of a refusal. On the
other hand I could hardly think she wanted to insult me. Not knowing what
to say or which way to turn, and wanting to draw an explanation from her,
I sighed profoundly, took up my hat, and made as if I were going,
exclaiming, "Cruel girl, my lot is more wretched than yours."

She raised herself in the bed and begged me with tears in her eyes to
remain, and asked me how I could call myself more wretched than her.
Pretending to be annoyed and yet full of love for her, I told her that
the contempt in which she held me had affected me deeply, since in her
necessity she preferred the offices of one who was unknown to her rather
than make use of me.

"You are cruel and unjust," she said, weeping. "I see, for my part, that
you love me no longer since you wish to take advantage of my cruel
necessity to gain a triumph over me. This is an act of revenge not worthy
of a man of feeling."

Her tears softened me, and I fell on my knees before her.

"Since you know, dearest, that I worship you, how can you think me
capable of revenging myself on you? Do you think that I can bear to hear
you say that since your lover cannot help you you do not know where to
look for help?"

"But after refusing you my favours, could I ask this office of you with
any decency?  Have I not good reason to be afraid that as I refused to
take pity on your love so you would refuse to take pity on my necessity?"

"Do you think that a passionate lover ceases to love on account of a
refusal which may be dictated by virtue?  Let me tell you all I think. I
confess I once thought you did not love me, but now I am sure of the
contrary; and that your heart would have led you to satisfy my love, even
if you had not been thus situated. I may add that you no doubt feel vexed
at my having any doubts of your love."

"You have interpreted my feelings admirably. But how we are to be
together with the necessary freedom from observation remains to be seen."

"Do not be afraid. Now I am sure of your consent, it will not be long
before I contrive some plan. In the meanwhile I will go and make the
aroph."

I had resolved that if ever I succeeded in persuading Mdlle. X. C. V. to
make use of my specific I would use nothing but honey, so the composition
of the aroph would not be a very complicated process. But if one point
was then plain and simple, another remained to be solved, and its
solution gave me some difficulty. I should have to pass several nights in
continual toils. I feared I had promised more than I could perform, and I
should not be able to make any abatement without hazarding, not the
success of the aroph, but the bliss I had taken such pains to win. Again,
as her younger sister slept in the same room with her and close to her,
the operation could not be performed there. At last chance--a divinity
which often helps lovers--came to my aid.

I was obliged to climb up to the fourth floor and met the scullion on my
way, who guessed where I was going, and begged me not to go any farther
as the place was taken.

"But," said I, "you have just come out of it."

"Yes, but I only went in and came out again."

"Then I will wait till the coast is clear."

"For goodness' sake, sir, do not wait!"

"Ah, you rascal! I see what is going on. Well I will say nothing about
it, but I must see her."

"She won't come out, for she heard your steps and shut herself in."

"She knows me, does she?"

"Yes, and you know her."

"All right, get along with you! I won't say anything about it."

He went down, and the idea immediately struck me that the adventure might
be useful to me. I went up to the top, and through a chink I saw
Madelaine, Mdlle. X. C. V.'s maid. I reassured her, and promised to keep
the secret, whereon she opened the door, and after I had given her a
louis, fled in some confusion. Soon after, I came down, and the scullion
who was waiting for me on the landing begged me to make Madelaine give
him half the louis.

"I will give you one all to yourself," said I, "if you will tell me the
story"--an offer which pleased the rogue well enough. He told me the tale
of his loves, and said he always spent the night with her in the garret,
but that for three days they had been deprived of their pleasures, as
madam had locked the door and taken away the key. I made him shew me the
place, and looking through the keyhole I saw that there was plenty of
room for a mattress. I gave the scullion a Louis, and went away to ripen
my plans.

It seemed to me that there was no reason why the mistress should not
sleep in the garret as well as the maid. I got a picklock and several
skeleton keys, I put in a tin box several doses of the aroph-that is,
some honey mixed with pounded stag's horn to make it thick enough, and
the next morning I went to the "Hotel de Bretagne," and immediately tried
my picklock. I could have done without it, as the first skeleton key I
tried opened the wornout lock.

Proud of my idea, I went down to see Mdlle. X. C. V., and in a few words
told her the plan.

"But," said she, "I should have to go through Madelaine's room to get to
the garret."

"In that case, dearest, we must win the girl over."

"Tell her my secret?"

"Just so."

"Oh, I couldn't!"

"I will see to it; the golden key opens all doors."

The girl consented to all I asked her, but the scullion troubled me, for
if he found us out he might be dangerous. I thought, however, that I
might trust to Madelaine, who was a girl of wit, to look after him.

Before going I told the girl that I wanted to discuss some important
matters with her, and I told her to meet me in the cloisters of the
Augustinian Church. She came at the appointed time and I explained to her
the whole plan in all its details. She soon understood me, and after
telling me that she would take care to put her own bed in the new kind of
boudoir, she added that, to be quite safe, we must make sure of the
scullion.

"He is a sharp lad," said Madelaine, "and I think I can answer for him.
However, you may leave that to me."

I gave her the key and six louis, bidding her inform her mistress of what
we had agreed upon, and get the garret ready to receive us. She went away
quite merry. A maid who is in love is never so happy as when she can make
her mistress protect her intrigues.

Next morning the scullion called on me at my house. The first thing I
told him was to take care not to betray himself to my servants, and never
to come and see me except in a case of necessity. He promised discretion,
and assured me of his devotion to my service. He gave me the key of the
garret and told me that he had got another. I admired his forethought,
and gave him a present of six louis, which had more effect on him than
the finest words.

Next morning I only saw Mdlle. X. C. V. for a moment to warn her that I
should be at the appointed place at ten that evening. I went there early
without being seen by anybody. I was in a cloak, and carried in my pocket
the aroph, flint and steel, and a candle. I found a good bed, pillows,
and a thick coverlet--a very useful provision, as the nights were cold,
and we should require some sleep in the intervals of the operation.

At eleven a slight noise made my heart begin to beat--always a good sign.
I went out, and found my mistress by feeling for her, and reassured her
by a tender kiss. I brought her in, barricaded the door, and took care to
cover up the keyhole to baffle the curious, and, if the worse happened,
to avoid a surprise.

On my lighting the candle she seemed uneasy, and said that the light
might discover us if anybody came up to the fourth floor.

"That's not likely," I said; "and besides, we can't do without it, for
how am I to give you the aroph in the dark?"

"Very good," she replied, "we can put it out afterwards."

Without staying for those preliminary dallyings which are so sweet when
one is at ease, we undressed ourselves, and began with all seriousness to
play our part, which we did to perfection. We looked like a medical
student about to perform an operation, and she like a patient, with this
difference that it was the patient who arranged the dressing. When she
was ready--that is, when she had placed the aroph as neatly as a
skull-cap fits a parson--she put herself in the proper position for the
preparation to mix with the semen.

The most laughable part of it all was that we were both as serious as two
doctors of divinity.

When the introduction of the aroph was perfect the timid lady put out the
candle, but a few minutes after it had to be lighted again. I told her
politely that I was delighted to begin again, and the voice in which I
paid her this compliment made us both burst into laughter.

I didn't take so short a time over my second operation as my first, and
my sweetheart, who had been a little put out, was now quite at her ease.

Her modesty had now been replaced by confidence, and as she was looking
at the aroph fitted in its place, she shewed me with her pretty finger
very evident signs of her co-operation in the work. Then with an
affectionate air, she asked me if I would not like to rest, as we had
still a good deal to do before our work was at an end.

"You see," said I, "that I do not need rest, and I think we had better
set to again."

No doubt she found my reason a good one, for, without saying anything,
she put herself ready to begin again, and afterwards we took a good long
sleep. When I woke up, feeling as fresh as ever, I asked her to try
another operation; and after carrying this through successfully, I
determined to be guided by her and take care of myself, for we had to
reserve our energies for the following nights. So, about four o'clock in
the morning she left me, and softly made her way to her room, and at
daybreak I left the hotel under the protection of the scullion, who took
me by a private door I did not know of.

About noon, after taking an aromatic bath, I went to call on Mdlle. X. C.
V., whom I found sitting up in bed as usual, elegantly attired, and with
a happy smile on her lips. She spoke at such length on her gratitude, and
thanked me so often, that, believing myself, and with good cause, to be
her debtor, I began to get impatient.

"Is it possible," I said, "that you do not see how degrading your thanks
are to me?  They prove that you do not love me, or that if you love me,
you think my love less strong than yours."

Our conversation then took a tender turn, and we were about to seal our
mutual ardours without troubling about the aroph, when prudence bade us
beware. It would not have been safe, and we had plenty of time before us.
We contented ourselves with a tender embrace till the night should come.

My situation was a peculiar one, for though I was in love with this
charming girl I did not feel in the least ashamed of having deceived her,
especially as what I did could have no effect, the place being taken. It
was my self-esteem which made me congratulate myself on the sharp
practice which had procured me such pleasures. She told me that she was
sorry she had denied me when I had asked her before, and said that she
felt now that I had good reason to suspect the reality of her love. I did
my best to reassure her, and indeed all suspicions on my part would have
been but idle thoughts, as I had succeeded beyond all expectation.
However, there is one point upon which I congratulate myself to this
day--namely, that during those nightly toils of mine, which did so little
towards the object of her desires, I succeeded in inspiring her with such
a feeling of resignation that she promised, of her own accord, not to
despair any more, but to trust in and be guided by me. She often told me
during our nocturnal conversations that she was happy and would continue
to be so, even though the aroph had no effect. Not that she had ceased to
believe in it, for she continued the application of the harmless
preparation till our last assaults, in which we wanted in those sweet
combats to exhaust all the gifts of pleasure.

"Sweetheart," said she, just before we parted finally, "it seems to me
that what we have been about is much more likely to create than to
destroy, and if the aperture had not been hermetically closed we should
doubtless have given the little prisoner a companion."

A doctor of the Sorbonne could not have reasoned better.

Three or four days afterwards I found her thoughtful but quiet. She told
me that she had lost all hope of getting rid of her burden before the
proper time. All the while, however, her mother persecuted her, and she
would have to choose in a few days between making a declaration as to her
state and signing the marriage contract. She would accept neither of
these alternatives, and had decided on escaping from her home, and asked
me to help her in doing so.

I had determined to help her, but I desired to save my reputation, for it
might have been troublesome if it had been absolutely known that I had
carried her off or furnished her with the means to escape. And as for any
other alternative, neither of us had any idea of matrimony.

I left her and went to the Tuileries, where a sacred concert was being
given. The piece was a motet composed by Moudonville, the words by the
Abbe de Voisenon, whom I had furnished with the idea, "The Israelites on
Mount Horeb."

As I was getting out of my carriage, I saw Madame du Remain descending
alone from hers. I ran up to her, and received a hearty welcome. "I am
delighted," said she, "to find you here, it is quite a piece of luck. I
am going to hear this novel composition, and have two reserved seats.
Will you do me the honour of accepting one?"

Although I had my ticket in my pocket I could not refuse so honourable an
offer, so, giving her my arm, we walked up to two of the best places in
the house.

At Paris no talking is allowed during the performance of sacred music,
especially when the piece is heard for the first time; so Madame du
Remain could draw no conclusions from my silence throughout the
performance, but she guessed that something was the matter from the
troubled and absent expression of my face, which was by no means natural
to me.

"M. Casanova," said she, "be good enough to give me your company for an
hour. I want to ask you-two or three questions which can only be solved
by your cabala. I hope you will oblige me, as I am, very anxious to know
the answers, but we must be quick as I have an engagement to sup in
Paris."

It may be imagined that I did not wait to be asked twice, and as soon as
we got to her house I went to work on the questions, and solved them all
in less than half an hour.

When I had finished, "M. Casanova;" said she, in the kindest manner
possible, "what is the matter with you?  You are not in your usual state
of equanimity, and if I am not mistaken you are dreading some dire event.
Or perhaps you are on the eve of taking some important resolution?  I am
not inquisitive, but if I can be of any service to you at Court, make use
of me, and be sure that I will do my best. If necessary, I will go to
Versailles to-morrow morning. I know all the ministers. Confide in me
your troubles, if I cannot lighten them I can at least share them, and be
sure I will keep your counsel."

Her words seemed to me a voice from heaven, a warning from my good genius
to open my heart to this lady, who had almost read my thoughts, and had
so plainly expressed her interest in my welfare.

After gazing at her for some seconds without speaking, but with a manner
that shewed her how grateful I was, "Yes madam," I said, "I am indeed
critically situated, may be on the serge of ruin, but your kindness has
calmed my soul and made me once more acquainted with hope. You shall hear
how I am placed. I am going to trust you with a secret of the most
delicate description, but I can rely on your being as discreet as you are
good. And if after hearing my story you deign to give me your advice, I
promise to follow it and never to divulge its author."

After this beginning, which gained her close attention, I told her all
the circumstances of the case, neither concealing the young lady's name
nor any of the circumstances which made it my duty to watch over her
welfare. All the same I said nothing about the aroph or the share I had
taken in its exhibition. The incident appeared to me too farcical for a
serious drama, but I confessed that I had procured the girl drugs in the
hope of relieving her of her burden.

After this weighty communication I stopped, and Madame du Rumain remained
silent, as if lost in thought, for nearly a quarter of an hour. At last
she rose, saying,

"I am expected at Madame de la Marque's, and I must go, as I am to meet
the Bishop of Montrouge, to whom I want to speak, but I hope I shall
eventually be able to help you. Come here the day after tomorrow, you
will find me alone; above all, do nothing before you see me. Farewell."

I left her full of hope, and resolved to follow her advice and hers only
in the troublesome affair in which I was involved.

The Bishop of Montrouge whom she was going to address on an important
matter, the nature of which was well known to me, was the Abbe de
Voisenon, who was thus named because he often went there. Montrouge is an
estate near Paris, belonging to the Duc de la Valiere.

I saw Mdlle. X. C. V. the following day, and contented myself with
telling her that in a couple of days I hope to give her some good news. I
was pleased with her manner, which was full of resignation and trust in
my endeavours.

The day after, I went to Madame du Rumain's punctually at eight. The
porter told me that I should find the doctor with my lady, but I went
upstairs all the same, and as soon as the doctor saw me he took his
leave. His name was Herrenschwand, and all the ladies in Paris ran after
him. Poor Poinsinet put him in a little one-act play called Le Cercle,
which, though of very ordinary merit, was a great success.

"My dear sir," said Madame du Rumain, as soon as we were alone, "I have
succeeded in my endeavours on your behalf, and it is now for you to keep
secret my share in the matter. After I had pondered over the case of
conscience you submitted to me, I went to the convent of C---where the
abbess is a friend of mine, and I entrusted her with the secret, relying
on her discretion. We agreed that she should receive the young lady in
her convent, and give her a good lay-sister to nurse her through her
confinement. Now you will not deny," said she, with a smile, "that the
cloisters are of some use. Your young friend must go by herself to the
convent with a letter for the abbess, which I will give her, and which
she must deliver to the porter. She will then be admitted and lodged in a
suitable chamber. She will receive no visitors nor any letters that have
not passed through my hands. The abbess will bring her answers to me, and
I will pass them on to you. You must see that her only correspondent must
be yourself, and you must receive news of her welfare only through me. On
your hand in writing to her you must leave the address to be filled in by
me. I had to tell the abbess the lady's name, but not yours as she did
not require it.

"Tell your young friend all about our plans, and when she is ready come
and tell me, and I will give you the letter to the abbess. Tell her to
bring nothing but what is strictly necessary, above all no diamonds or
trinkets of any value. You may assure her that the abbess will be
friendly, will come and see her every now and then, will give her proper
books--in a word, that she will be well looked after. Warn her not to
confide in the laysister who will attend on her. I have no doubt she is
an excellent woman, but she is a nun, and the secret might leak out.
After she is safely delivered, she must go to confession and perform her
Easter duties, and the abbess will give her a certificate of good
behaviour; and she can then return to her mother, who will be too happy
to see her to say anything more about the marriage, which, of course, she
ought to give as her reason of her leaving home."

After many expressions of my gratitude to her, and of my admiration of
her plan, I begged her to give me the letter on the spot, as there was no
time to be lost. She was good enough to go at once to her desk, where she
wrote as follows:

"My dear abbess--The young lady who will give you this letter is the same
of whom we have spoken. She wishes to spend three of four months under
your protection, to recover her peace of mind, to perform her devotions,
and to make sure that when she returns to her mother nothing more will be
said about the marriage, which is partly the cause of her temporary
separation from her family."

After reading it to me, she put it into my hands unsealed that Mdlle. X.
C. V. might be able to read it. The abbess in question was a princess,
and her convent was consequently a place above all suspicion. As Madame
du Rumain gave me the letter, I felt such an impulse of gratitude that I
fell on my knees before her. This generous woman was useful to me on
another occasion, of which I shall speak later on.

After leaving Madame du Rumain I went straight to the "Hotel de
Bretagne," where I saw Mdlle. X. C. V., who had only time to tell me that
she was engaged for the rest of the day, but that she would come to the
garret at eleven o'clock that night, and that then we could talk matters
over. I was overjoyed at this arrangement, as I foresaw that after this
would come the awakening from a happy dream, and that I should be alone
with her no more.

Before leaving the hotel I gave the word to Madelaine, who in turn got
the scullion to have everything in readiness.

I kept the appointment, and had not long to wait for my mistress. After
making her read the letter written by Madame du Rumain (whose name I
withheld from her without her taking offence thereat) I put out the
candle, and without troubling about the aroph, we set ourselves to the
pleasant task of proving that we truly loved each other.

In the morning, before we separated, I gave her all the instructions I
had received from Madame du Rumain; and we agreed that she should leave
the house at eight o'clock with such things as she absolutely required,
that she should take a coach to the Place Maubert, then send it away, and
take another to the Place Antoine, and again, farther on, a third coach,
in which she was to go to the convent named. I begged her not to forget
to burn all the letters she had received from me, and to write to me from
the convent as often as she could, to seal her letters but to leave the
address blank. She promised to carry out my instructions, and I then made
her accept a packet of two hundred louis, of which she might chance to be
in need. She wept, more for my situation than her own, but I consoled her
by saying that I had plenty of money and powerful patrons.

"I will set out," said she, "the day after to-morrow, at the hour agreed
on." And thereupon, I having promised to come to the house the day after
her departure, as if I knew nothing about it, and to let her know what
passed, we embraced each other tenderly, and I left her.

I was troubled in thinking about her fate. She had wit and courage, but
when experience is wanting wit often leads men to commit acts of great
folly.

The day after the morrow I took a coach, and posted myself in a corner of
the street by which she had to pass. I saw her come, get out of the
coach, pay the coachman, go down a narrow street, and a few minutes after
reappear again, veiled and hooded, carrying a small parcel in her hand.
She then took another conveyance which went off in the direction we had
agreed upon.

The day following being Low Sunday, I felt that I must present myself at
the "Hotel de Bretagne," for as I went there every day before the
daughter's flight I could not stop going there without strengthening any
suspicions which might be entertained about me. But it was a painful
task. I had to appear at my ease and cheerful in a place where I was
quite sure all would be sadness and confusion. I must say that it was an
affair requiring higher powers of impudence than fall to the lot of most
men.

I chose a time when all the family would be together at table, and I
walked straight into the dining-room. I entered with my usual cheerful
manner, and sat down by madame, a little behind her, pretending not to
see her surprise, which, however, was plainly to be seen, her whole face
being flushed with rage and astonishment. I had not been long in the room
before I asked where her daughter was. She turned round, looked me
through and through, and said not a word.

"Is she ill?" said I.

"I know nothing about her."

This remark, which was pronounced in a dry manner, put me at my ease, as
I now felt at liberty to look concerned. I sat there for a quarter of an
hour, playing the part of grave and astonished silence, and then, rising,
I asked if I could do anything, for which all my reward was a cold
expression of thanks. I then left the room and went to Mdlle. X. C. V.'s
chamber as if I had thought she was there, but found only Madelaine. I
asked her with a meaning look where her mistress was. She replied by
begging me to tell her, if I knew.

"Has she gone by herself?"

"I know nothing at all about it, sir, but they say you know all. I beg of
you to leave me."

Pretending to be in the greatest astonishment, I slowly walked away and
took a coach, glad to have accomplished this painful duty. After the
reception I had met with I could without affectation pose as offended,
and visit the family no more, for whether I were guilty or innocent,
Madame X. C. V. must see that her manner had been plain enough for me to
know what it meant.

I was looking out of my window at an early hour two or three days
afterwards, when a coach stopped before my door, and Madame X C V-,
escorted by M. Farsetti got out. I made haste to meet them on the stair,
and welcomed them, saying I was glad they had done me the honour to come
and take breakfast with me, pretending not to know of any other reason. I
asked them to sit down before the fire, and enquired after the lady's
health; but without noticing my question she said that she had not come
to take breakfast, but to have some serious conversation.

"Madam," said I, "I am your humble servant; but first of all pray be
seated."

She sat down, while Farsetti continued standing. I did not press him, but
turning towards the lady begged her to command me.

"I am come here," she said, "to ask you to give me my daughter if she be
in your power, or to tell me where she is."

"Your daughter, madam? I know nothing about her! Do you think me capable
of a crime?"

"I do not accuse you of abducting her; I have not come here to reproach
you nor to utter threats, I have only come to ask you to shew yourself my
friend. Help me to get my daughter again this very day; you will give me
my life. I am certain that you know all. You were her only confidant and
her only friend; you passed hours with her every day; she must have told
you of her secret. Pity a bereaved mother! So far no one knows of the
facts; give her back to me and all shall be forgotten, and her honour
saved."

"Madam, I feel for you acutely, but I repeat that I know nothing of your
daughter."

The poor woman, whose grief touched me, fell at my feet and burst into
tears. I was going to lift her from the ground, when Farsetti told her,
in a voice full of indignation, that she should blush to humble herself
in such a manner before a man of my description. I drew myself up, and
looking at him scornfully said,

"You insolent scoundrel! What do you mean by talking of me like that?"

"Everybody is certain that you know all about it."

"Then they are impudent fools, like you. Get out of my house this instant
and wait for me, I will be with you in a quarter of an hour."

So saying, I took the poor chevalier by the shoulders, and giving him
sundry shakes I turned him out of the room. He came back and called to
the lady to come, too, but she rose and tried to quiet me.

"You ought to be more considerate towards a lover," said she, "for he
would marry my daughter now, even after what she has done."

"I am aware of the fact, madam, and I have no doubt that his courtship
was one of the chief reasons which made your daughter resolve to leave
her home, for she hated him even more than she hated the
fermier-general."

"She has behaved very badly, but I promise not to say anything more about
marrying her. But I am sure you know all about it, as you gave her fifty
louis, without which she could not have done anything."

"Nay, not so."

"Do not deny it, sir; here is the evidence--a small piece of your letter
to her."

She gave me a scrap of the letter I had sent the daughter, with the fifty
louis for her brother. It contained the following lines,

"I hope that these wretched louis will convince you that I am ready to
sacrifice everything, my life if need be, to assure you of my affection."

"I am far from disavowing this evidence of my esteem for your daughter,
but to justify myself I am obliged to tell you a fact which I should have
otherwise kept secret--namely, that I furnished your daughter with this
sum to enable her to pay your son's debts, for which he thanked me in a
letter which I can shew you."

"My son?"

"Your son, madam."

"I will make you an ample atonement for my suspicions."

Before I had time to make any objection, she ran down to fetch Farsetti,
who was waiting in the courtyard, and made him come up and hear what I
had just told her.

"That's not a likely tale," said the insolent fellow.

I looked at him contemptuously, and told him he was not worth convincing,
but that I would beg the lady to ask her son and see whether I told the
truth.

"I assure you," I added, "that I always urged your daughter to marry M.
de la Popeliniere."

"How can you have the face to say that," said Farsetti, "when you talk in
the letter of your affection?"

"I do not deny it," said I. "I loved her, and I was proud of my affection
for her. This affection, of whatever sort it may have been (and that is
not this gentleman's business), was the ordinary topic of conversation
between us. If she had told me that she was going to leave her home, I
should either have dissuaded her or gone with her, for I loved her as I
do at this moment; but I would never have given her money to go alone."

"My dear Casanova," said the mother, "if you will help me to find her I
shall believe in your innocence."

"I shall be delighted to aid you, and I promise to commence the quest
to-day."

"As soon as you have any news, come and tell me."

"You may trust me to do so," said I, and we parted.

I had to play my part carefully; especially it was essential that I
should behave in public in a manner consistent with my professions.
Accordingly, the next day I went to M. Chaban, first commissary of
police, requesting him to institute enquiries respecting the flight of
Mdlle. X. C. V. I was sure that in this way the real part I had taken in
the matter would be the better concealed; but the commissary, who had the
true spirit of his profession, and had liked me when he first saw me six
years before, began to laugh when he heard what I wanted him to do.

"Do you really want the police to discover," said he, "where the pretty
Englishwoman is to be found?"

"Certainly."

It then struck me that he was trying to make me talk and to catch me
tripping, and I had no doubt of it when I met Farsetti going in as I was
coming out.

Next day I went to acquaint Madame X. C. V. with the steps I had taken,
though as yet my efforts had not been crowned with success.

"I have been more fortunate than you," said she, "and if you will come
with me to the place where my daughter has gone, and will join me in
persuading her to return, all will be well."

"Certainly," said I, "I shall be most happy to accompany you."

Taking me at my word, she put on her cloak, and leaning on my arm walked
along till we came to a coach. She then gave me a slip of paper, begging
me to tell the coachman to drive us to the address thereon.

I was on thorns, and my heart beat fast, for I thought I should have to
read out the address of the convent. I do not know what I should have
done if my fears had been well grounded, but I should certainly not have
gone to the convent. At last I read what was written; it was "Place
Maubert," and I grew calm once more.

I told the coachman to drive us to the Place Maubert. We set off, and in
a short time stopped at the opening of an obscure back street before a
dirty-looking house, which did not give one a high idea of the character
of its occupants. I gave Madame X. C. V. my arm, and she had the
satisfaction of looking into every room in the five floors of the house,
but what she sought for was not there, and I expected to see her
overwhelmed with grief. I was mistaken, however. She looked distressed
but satisfied, and her eyes seemed to ask pardon of me. She had found out
from the coachman, who had taken her daughter on the first stage of her
journey, that she had alighted in front of the house in question, and had
gone down the back street. She told me that the scullion had confessed
that he had taken me letters twice from his young mistress, and that
Madelaine said all the time that she was sure her mistress and I were in
love with each other. They played their parts well.

As soon as I had seen Madame X. C. V. safely home, I went to Madame du
Rumain to tell her what had happened; and I then wrote to my fair
recluse, telling her what had gone on in the world since her
disappearance.

Three or four days after this date, Madame du Rumain gave me the first
letter I received from Mdlle. X. C. V. She spoke in it of the quiet life
she was leading, and her gratitude to me, praised the abbess and the
lay-sister, and gave me the titles of the books they lent her, which she
liked reading. She also informed me what money she had spent, and said
she was happy in everything, almost in being forbidden to leave her room.

I was delighted with her letter, but much more with the abbess's epistle
to Madame du Rumain. She was evidently fond of the girl, and could not
say too much in her praise, saying how sweet-tempered, clever, and
lady-like she was; winding up by assuring her friend that she went to see
her every day.

I was charmed to see the pleasure this letter afforded Madame du
Rumain--pleasure which was increased by the perusal of the letter I had
received. The only persons who were displeased were the poor mother, the
frightful Farsetti, and the old fermier, whose misfortune was talked
about in the clubs, the Palais-Royal, and the coffee-houses. Everybody
put me down for some share in the business, but I laughed at their
gossip, believing that I was quite safe.

All the same, la Popeliniere took the adventure philosophically and made
a one-act play out of it, which he had acted at his little theatre in
Paris. Three months afterwards he got married to a very pretty girl, the
daughter of a Bordeaux alderman. He died in the course of two years,
leaving his widow pregnant with a son, who came into the world six months
after the father's death. The unworthy heir to the rich man had the face
to accuse the widow of adultery, and got the child declared illegitimate
to the eternal shame of the court which gave this iniquitous judgment and
to the grief of every honest Frenchman. The iniquitous nature of the
judgment was afterwards more clearly demonstrated--putting aside the fact
that nothing could be said against the mother's character--by the same
court having the face to declare a child born eleven months after the
father's death legitimate.

I continued for ten days to call upon Madame X. C. V., but finding myself
coldly welcomed, decided to go there no more.



CHAPTER VIII

Fresh Adventures--J. J. Rousseau--I set Up A Business--Castel--Bajac--A
Lawsuit is Commenced Against Me--M. de Sartine

Mdlle. X. C. V. had now been in the convent for a month, and her affair
had ceased to be a common topic of conversation. I thought I should hear
no more of it, but I was mistaken. I continued, however, to amuse myself,
and my pleasure in spending freely quite prevented me from thinking about
the future. The Abbe de Bernis, whom I went to see regularly once a week,
told me one day that the comptroller-general often enquired how I was
getting on. "You are wrong," said the abbe, "to neglect him." He advised
me to say no more about my claims, but to communicate to him the means I
had spoken of for increasing the revenues of the state. I laid too great
store by the advice of the man who had made my fortune not to follow it.
I went to the comptroller, and trusting in his probity I explained my
scheme to him. This was to pass a law by which every estate, except that
left by father to son, should furnish the treasury with one year's
income; every deed of gift formally drawn up being subject to the same
provision. It seemed to me that the law could not give offence to anyone;
the heir had only to imagine that he had inherited a year later than was
actually the case. The minister was of the same opinion as myself, told
me that there would not be the slightest difficulty involved, and assured
me that my fortune was made. In a week afterwards his place was taken by
M. de Silhouette, and when I called on the new minister he told me coldly
that when my scheme became law he would tell me. It became law two years
afterwards, and when, as the originator of the scheme, I attempted to get
my just reward, they laughed in my face.

Shortly after, the Pope died, and he was succeeded by the Venetian
Rezzonico, who created my patron, the Abby de Bernis, a cardinal.
However, he had to go into exile by order of the king two days after his
gracious majesty had presented him with the red cap: so good a thing it
is to be the friend of kings!

The disgrace of my delightful abbe left me without a patron, but I had
plenty of money, and so was enabled to bear this misfortune with
resignation.

For having undone all the work of Cardinal Richelieu, for having changed
the old enmity between France and Austria into friendship, for delivering
Italy from the horrors of war which befell her whenever these countries
had a bone to pick, although he was the first cardinal made by a pope who
had had plenty of opportunities for discovering his character, merely
because, on being asked, he had given it as his opinion that the Prince
de Soubise was not a fit person to command the French armies, this great
ecclesiastic was driven into exile. The moment the Pompadour heard of
this opinion of his, she decreed his banishment--a sentence which was
unpopular with all classes of society; but they consoled themselves with
epigrams, and the new cardinal was soon forgotten. Such is the character
of the French people; it cares neither for its own misfortunes nor for
those of others, if only it can extract laughter from them.

In my time epigrammatists and poetasters who assailed ministers or even
the king's mistresses were sent to the Bastille, but the wits still
persisted in being amusing, and there were some who considered a jest
incomplete that was not followed by a prosecution. A man whose name I
have forgotten--a great lover of notoriety--appropriated the following
verses by the younger Crebellon and went to the Bastille rather than
disown them.

   "All the world's upside down!
   Jupiter has donned the gown--the King.
   Venus mounts the council stair--the Pompadour.
   Plutus trifles with the fair--M. de Boulogne.
   Mercury in mail is drest--Marechal de Richelieu.
   Mighty Mars has turned a priest--the Duc de Clermont, abbe of
   St. Germain-des-pres."

Crebillon, who was not the sort of man to conceal his writings, told the
Duc de Choiseul that he had written some verses exactly like these, but
that it was possible the prisoner had been inspired with precisely the
same ideas. This jest was applauded, and the author of "The Sofa" was let
alone.

Cardinal de Bernis passed ten years in exile, 'procul negotiis', but he
was not happy, as he told me himself when I knew him in Rome fifteen
years afterwards. It is said that it is better to be a minister than a
king--an opinion which seems ridiculous when it is analyzed. The
question is, which is the better, independence or its contrary. The axiom
may possibly be verified in a despotic government under an absurd, weak,
or careless king who serves as a mere mask for his master the minister;
but in all other cases it is an absurdity.

Cardinal de Bernis was never recalled; there is no instance of Louis XV.
having ever recalled a minister whom he had disgraced; but on the death
of Rezzonico he had to go to Rome to be present at the conclave, and
there he remained as French ambassador.

About this time Madame d'Urfe conceived a wish to make the acquaintance
of J. J. Rousseau, and we went to call upon him at Montmorenci, on the
pretext of giving him music to copy--an occupation in which he was very
skilled. He was paid twice the sum given to any other copyist, but he
guaranteed that the work should be faultlessly done. At that period of
his life copying music was the great writer's sole means of subsistence.

We found him to be a man of a simple and modest demeanour, who talked
well, but who was not otherwise distinguished either intellectually or
physically. We did not think him what would be called a good-natured man,
and as he was far from having the manners of good society Madame d'Urfe
did not hesitate to pronounce him vulgar. We saw the woman with whom he
lived, and of whom we had heard, but she scarcely looked at us. On our
way home we amused ourselves by talking about Rousseau's eccentric
habits.

I will here note down the visit of the Prince of Conti (father of the
gentleman who is now known as the Comte de la March) to Rousseau.

The prince--a good-natured man-went by himself to Montmorenci, on purpose
to spend a day in conversation with the philosopher, who was even then
famous. He found him in the park, accosted him, and said that he had come
to dine with him and to talk without restraint.

"Your highness will fare but badly," said Rousseau: "however, I will tell
them to lay another knife and fork."

The philosopher gave his instructions, and came out and rejoined the
prince, with whom he walked up and down for two or three hours. When it
was dinner-time he took the prince into his dining-room, where the table
was laid for three.

"Who is going to dine with us?" said the prince. "I thought we were to be
alone."

"The third party," said Rousseau, "is my other self--a being who is
neither my wife, nor my mistress, nor my servant-maid, nor my mother, nor
my daughter, but yet personates all these characters at once."

"I daresay, my dear fellow, I daresay; but as I came to dine with you
alone, I will not dine with your--other self, but will leave you with all
the rest of you to keep your company."

So saying the prince bade him farewell and went out. Rousseau did not try
to keep him.

About this time I witnessed the failure of a play called 'Aristides'
Daughter', written by the ingenious Madame de Graffini, who died of
vexation five days after her play was damned. The Abbe de Voisenon was
horrified, as he had advised the lady to produce it, and was thought to
have had some hand in its composition, as well as in that of the 'Lettres
Peruviennes' and 'Cenie'. By a curious coincidence, just about the same
date, Rezzonico's mother died of joy because her son had become pope.
Grief and joy kill many more women than men, which proves that if women
have mere feeling than men they have also less strength.

When Madame d'Urfe thought that my adopted son was comfortably settled in
Viar's house, she made me go with her and pay him a visit. I found him
lodged like a prince, well dressed, made much of, and almost looked up
to. I was astonished, for this was more than I had bargained for. Madame
d'Urfe had given him masters of all sorts, and a pretty little pony for
him to learn riding on. He was styled M. le Comte d'Aranda. A girl of
sixteen, Viar's daughter, a fine-looking young woman, was appointed to
look after him, and she was quite proud to call herself my lord's
governess. She assured Madame d'Urfe that she took special care of him;
that as soon as he woke she brought him his breakfast in bed; that she
then dressed him, and did not leave his side the whole day. Madame d'Urfe
approved of everything, told the girl to take even greater care of the
count, and promised that she should not go unrewarded. As for the young
gentleman, he was evidently quite happy, as he told me himself again and
again, but I suspected a mystery somewhere, and determined that I would
go and see him by myself another time and solve it.

On our journey home I told Madame d'Urfe how grateful I was for all her
goodness to the boy, and that I approved of all the arrangements that had
been made with the exception of the name Aranda, "which," said I, "may
some day prove a thorn in his side." She answered that the lad had said
enough to convince her that he had a right to bear that name. "I had,"
she said, "in my desk a seal with the arms of the house of Aranda, and
happening to take it up I shewed it him as we shew trinkets to children
to amuse them, but as soon as he saw it he burst out,

"'How came you to have my arms?'

"Your arms!" I answered. "I got this seal from the Comte d'Aranda; how
can you prove that you are a scion of that race?"

"'Do not ask me, madam; my birth is a secret I can reveal to no one.'"

The imposition and above all the impudence of the young knave astounded
me. I should not have thought him capable of it, and a week after I went
to see him by myself to get at the bottom of all this mystery.

I found my young count with Viar, who, judging by the awe the child
shewed of me, must have thought he belonged to me. He was unsparing in
his praises of his pupil, saying that he played the flute capitally,
danced and fenced admirably, rode well, and wrote a good hand. He shewed
me the pens he had cut himself with three, five, and even nine points,
and begged to be examined on heraldry, which, as the master observed, was
so necessary a science for a young nobleman.

The young gentleman then commenced in the jargon of heraldry to blazon
his own pretended arms, and I felt much inclined to burst into laughter,
partly because I did not understand a word he said, and partly because he
seemed to think the matter as important as would a country squire with
his thirty-two quarters. However, I was delighted to see his dexterity in
penmanship, which was undoubtedly very great, and I expressed my
satisfaction to Viar, who soon left us to ourselves. We proceeded into
the garden.

"Will you kindly inform me," I said, "how you can be so foolish as to
call yourself the Comte d'Aranda?"

He replied, with the utmost calmness, "I know it is foolish, but leave me
my title; it is of service to me here and gains me respect."

"It is an imposition I cannot wink at, as it may be fraught with serious
results, and may do harm to both of us. I should not have thought that at
your age you would be capable of such a knavish trick. I know you did it
out of stupidity, but after a certain limit stupidity becomes criminal;
and I cannot see how I am to remedy your fault without disgracing you in
the eyes of Madame d'Urfe."

I kept on scolding him till he burst into tears, saying,

"I had rather the shame of being sent back to my mother than the shame of
confessing to Madame d'Urfe that I had imposed on her; and I could not
bear to stay here if I had to give up my name."

Seeing that I could do nothing with him, unless, indeed, I sent him to
some place far removed from Paris under his proper name, I told him to
take comfort as I would try and do the best I could for both of us.

"And now tell me--and take care to tell the truth--what sort of feelings
does Viar's daughter entertain for you?"

"I think, papa, that this is a case in which the reserve commended by
yourself, as well as by mother, would be appropriate."

"Yes, that sort of answer tells me a good deal, but I think you are
rather too knowing for your age. And you may as well observe that when
you are called upon for a confession, reserve is out of place, and it's a
confession I require from you."

"Well, papa, Viar's daughter is very fond of me, and she shews her love
in all sorts of ways."

"And do you love her?"

"Oh, yes!"

"Is she much with you in the morning?"

"She is with me the whole day."

"She is present when you go to bed?"

"Yes, she helps me to undress."

"Nothing else?"

"I do not care to tell you."

I was astonished at the measured way in which he answered me, and as I
had heard enough to guess that the boy and girl were very good friends
indeed, I contented myself with warning him to take care of his health,
and with this I left him.

Some time after, my thoughts were occupied with a business speculation
which all my calculations assured me would be extremely profitable. The
plan was to produce on silks, by means of printing, the exquisite designs
which are produced at Lyons by the tedious process of weaving, and thus
to give customers excellent value at much lower prices. I had the
requisite knowledge of chemistry, and enough capital to make the thing a
success. I obtained the assistance of a man with the necessary technical
skill and knowledge, intending to make him my manager.

I told my plan to the Prince de Conti, who encouraged me to persevere,
promising me his patronage, and all the privileges I could wish for. That
decided me to begin.

I rented a very large house near the Temple for a thousand crowns per
annum. The house contained a spacious hall, in which I meant to put my
workmen; another hall which was to be the shop; numerous rooms for my
workpeople to live in; and a nice room for myself in case I cared to live
on the premises.

I made the scheme into a company with thirty shares, of which I gave five
to my designer, keeping the remaining twenty-five to distribute to those
who were inclined to join the company. I gave one to a doctor who, on
giving surety, became the storekeeper, and came to live in the house with
his whole family; and I engaged four servants, a waiting-maid, and a
porter. I had to give another share to an accountant, who furnished me
with two clerks, who also took up their abode in the house. The
carpenters, blacksmiths, and painters worked hard from morning to night,
and in less than three weeks the place was ready. I told the manager to
engage twenty girls to paint, who were to be paid every Saturday. I
stocked the warehouse with three hundred pieces of sarcenet and camlet of
different shades and colours to receive the designs, and I paid for
everything in ready money.

I had made an approximate calculation with my manager that I should have
to spend three hundred thousand francs, and that would not break me. If
the worst happened I could fall back on my shares, which produced a good
income, but I hoped I should not be compelled to do so, as I wanted to
have an income of two hundred thousand francs a year.

All the while I did not conceal from myself that the speculation might be
my ruin, if custom did not come in, but on looking at my beautiful
materials these fears were dispelled, especially as I heard everybody
saying that I sold them much too cheap.

To set up the business I spent in the course of a month about sixty
thousand francs, and my weekly expenses amounted to twelve hundred
francs.

As for Madame d'Urfe she laughed every time she saw me, for she was quite
certain that this business was only meant to put the curious off the
scent and to preserve my incognito: so persuaded was she of my
omnipotence.

The sight of twenty girls, all more or less pretty, the eldest of whom
was not twenty-five, far from making me tremble as it ought, delighted
me. I fancied myself in the midst of a seraglio, and I amused myself by
watching their meek and modest looks as they did their work under the
direction of the foreman. The best paid did not get more than twenty-four
sous a day, and all of them had excellent reputations, for they had been
selected at her own request by the manager's wife, a devout woman of ripe
age, whom I hoped to find obliging if the fancy seized me to test her
choice. Manon Baletti did not share my satisfaction in them. She trembled
to see me the owner of a harem, well knowing that sooner or later the
barque of my virtue would run on the rocks. She scolded me well about
these girls, though I assured her that none of them slept in the house.

This business increased my own ideas of my importance; partly from the
thought that I was on the high road to fortune, and partly because I
furnished so many people with the means of subsistence. Alas! I was too
fortunate; and my evil genius soon crossed my career.

It was now three months since Mdlle. X. C. V. had gone into the convent,
and the time of her delivery drew near. We wrote to each other twice a
week, and I considered the matter happily settled; M. de la Popeliniere
had married, and when Mdlle. X. C. V. returned to her mother there would
be nothing more to be said But just at this period, when my happiness
seemed assured, the hidden fire leapt forth and threatened to consume me;
how, the reader will see.

One day after leaving Madame d'Urfe's I went to walk in the Tuileries. I
had taken a couple of turns in the chief walk when I saw that an old
woman, accompanied by a man dressed in black, was looking at me closely
and communicating her observations to her companion. There was nothing
very astonishing in this in a public place, and I continued my walk, and
on turning again saw the same couple still watching me. In my turn I
looked at them, and remembered seeing the man in a gaming-house, where he
was known by the name of Castel-Bajac. On scrutinizing the features of
the hag, I at last succeeded in recollecting who she was; she was the
woman to whom I had taken Mdlle. X. C. V. I felt certain that she had
recognized me, but not troubling myself about the matter I left the
gardens to walk elsewhere. The day after next, just as I was going to get
into my carriage, a man of evil aspect gave me a paper and asked me to
read it. I opened it, but finding it covered with an illegible scrawl I
gave it him back, telling him to read it himself. He did so, and I found
myself summoned to appear before the commissary of police to answer to
the plea which the midwife (whose name I forget) brought against me.

Although I could guess what the charge would be, and was certain that the
midwife could furnish no proofs of her accusation, I went to an attorney
I knew and told him to appear for me. I instructed him that I did not
know any midwife in Paris whatsoever. The attorney waited on the
commissary, and on the day after brought me a copy of the pleas.

The midwife said that I came to her one night, accompanied by a young
lady about five months with child, and that, holding a pistol in one hand
and a packet of fifty Louis in the other, I made her promise to procure
abortion. We both of us (so she said) had masks on, thus shewing that we
had been at the opera ball. Fear, said she, had prevented her from flatly
refusing to grant my request; but she had enough presence of mind to say
that the necessary drugs were not ready, that she would have all in order
by the next night; whereupon we left, promising to return. In the belief
that we would not fail to keep the appointment, she went in to M.
Castel-Bajac to ask him to hide in the next room that she might be
protected from my fury, and that he might be a witness of what I said,
but she had not seen me again. She added that she would have given
information the day after the event if she had known who I was, but since
M. Castel-Bajac had told her my name on her recognizing me in the
Tuileries, she had thought it her bounden duty to deliver me to the law
that she might be compensated for the violence I had used to her. And
this document was signed by the said Castel-Bajac as a witness.

"This is an evident case of libel," said my attorney, "at least, if she
can't prove the truth of her allegations. My advice to you is to take the
matter before the criminal lieutenant, who will be able to give you the
satisfaction you require."

I authorized him to do what he thought advisable, and three or four days
after he told me that the lieutenant wished to speak to me in private,
and would expect me the same day at three o'clock in the afternoon.

As will be expected, I was punctual to the appointment. I found the
magistrate to be a polite and good-hearted gentleman. He was, in fact,
the well-known M. de Sartine, who was the chief of police two years
later. His office of criminal lieutenant was saleable, and M. de Sartine
sold it when he was appointed head of the police.

As soon as I had made my bow, he asked me to sit down by him, and
addressed me as follows:

"I have asked you to call upon me in the interests of both of us, as in
your position our interests are inseparable. If you are innocent of the
charge which has been brought against you, you are quite right to appeal
to me; but before proceedings begin, you should tell me the whole truth.
I am ready to forget my position as judge, and to give you my help, but
you must see yourself that to prove the other side guilty of slander, you
must prove yourself innocent. What I want from you is an informal and
strictly confidential declaration, for the case against you is a serious
one, and of such a kind as to require all your efforts to wipe off this
blot upon your honour. Your enemies will not respect your delicacy of
feeling. They will press you so hard that you will either be obliged to
submit to a shameful sentence, or to wound your feelings of honour in
proving your innocence. You see I am confiding in you, for in certain
cases honour seems so precious a thing to me that I am ready to defend it
with all the power of the law. Pay me back, then, in the same coin, trust
in me entirely, tell me the whole story without any reserves, and you may
rely upon my good offices. All will be well if you are innocent, for I
shall not be the less a judge because I am your friend; but if you are
guilty I am sorry for you, for I warn you that I shall be just."

After doing my best to express my gratitude to him, I said that my
position did not oblige me to make any reservations on account of honour,
and that I had, consequently, no informal statement to make him.

"The midwife," I added, "is absolutely unknown to me. She is most likely
an abandoned woman, who with her worthy companion wants to cheat me of my
money."

"I should be delighted to think so," he answered, "but admitting the
fact, see how chance favours her, and makes it a most difficult thing for
you to prove your innocence.

"The young lady disappeared three months ago. She was known to be your
intimate friend, you called upon her at all hours; you spent a
considerable time with her the day before she disappeared, and no one
knows what has become of her; but everyone's suspicions point at you, and
paid spies are continually dogging your steps. The midwife sent me a
requisition yesterday by her counsel, Vauversin. She says that the
pregnant lady you brought to her house is the same whom Madame X. C. V.
is searching for. She also says that you both wore black dominoes, and
the police have ascertained that you were both at the ball in black
dominoes on the same night as that on which the midwife says you came to
her house; you are also known to have left the ball-room together. All
this, it is true, does not constitute full proof of your guilt, but it
makes one tremble for your innocence."

"What cause have I to tremble?"

"What cause! Why a false witness, easily enough hired for a little money,
might swear with impunity that he saw you come from the opera together;
and a coachman in the same way might swear he had taken you to the
midwife's. In that case I should be compelled to order your arrest and
examination, with a view to ascertain the name of the person whom you
took with you. Do you realize that you are accused of procuring abortion;
that three months have gone by without the lady's retreat having been
discovered; that she is said to be dead. Do you realize, in short, what a
very serious charge murder is?"

"Certainly; but if I die innocent, you will have condemned me wrongly,
and will be more to be pitied than I."

"Yes, yes, but that wouldn't make your case any better. You may be sure,
however, that I will not condemn an innocent man; but I am afraid that
you will be a long time in prison before you succeed in proving your
innocence. To be brief, you see that in twenty-four hours the case looks
very bad, and in the course of a week it might look very much worse. My
interest was aroused in your favour by the evident absurdity of the
accusations, but it is the other circumstances about the case which make
it a serious one for you. I can partly understand the circumstances, and
the feelings of love and honour which bid you be silent. I have spoken to
you, and I hope you will have no reserves with me. I will spare you all
the unpleasant circumstances which threaten you, believing, as I do, that
you are innocent. Tell me all, and be sure that the lady's honour will
not suffer; but if, on the other hand, you are unfortunately guilty of
the crimes laid to your charge, I advise you to be prudent, and to take
steps which it is not my business to suggest. I warn you that in three or
four days I shall cite you to the bar of the court, and that you will
then find in me only the judge--just, certainly, but severe and
impartial."

I was petrified; for these words shewed me my danger in all its
nakedness. I saw how I should esteem this worthy man's good offices, and
said to him in quite another tone, that innocent as I was, I saw that my
best course was to throw myself on his kindness respecting Mdlle. X. C.
V., who had committed no crime, but would lose her reputation by this
unhappy business.

"I know where she is," I added, "and I may tell you that she would never
have left her mother if she had not endeavoured to force her into a
marriage she abhorred."

"Well, but the man is now married; let her return to her mother's house,
and you will be safe, unless the midwife persists in maintaining that you
incited her to procure abortion."

"There is no abortion in the matter; but other reasons prevent her
returning to her family. I can tell you no more without obtaining the
consent of another party. If I succeed in doing so I shall be able to
throw the desired light on the question. Be kind enough to give me a
second hearing on the day after to-morrow."

"I understand. I shall be delighted to hear what you have to say. I thank
and congratulate you. Farewell!"

I was on the brink of the precipice, but I was determined to leave the
kingdom rather than betray the honour of my poor dear sweetheart. If it
had been possible, I would gladly have put an end to the case with money;
but it was too late. I was sure that Farsetti had the chief hand in all
this trouble, that he was continually on my track, and that he paid the
spies mentioned by M. de Sartine. He it was who had set Vauversin, the
barrister, after me, and I had no doubt that he would do all in his power
to ruin me.

I felt that my only course was to tell the whole story to M. de Sartine,
but to do that I required Madame du Rumain's permission.



CHAPTER IX

My Examination I Give the Clerk Three Hundred Louis--The Midwife and
Cartel-Bajac Imprisoned--Mdlle. X. C. V. Is Brought to Bed of a Son and
Obliges Her Mother to Make Me Amends--The Suit Against Me Is
Quashed--Mdlle. X. C. V. Goes With Her Mother to Brussels and From Thence
to Venice, Where She Becomes a Great Lady--My Work-girls--Madame Baret--I
Am Robbed, Put in Prison, and Set at Liberty Again--I Go to
Holland--Helvetius' "Esprit"--Piccolomini

The day after my interview with M. de Sartine I waited on Madame du
Rumain at an early hour. Considering the urgency of the case I took the
liberty of rousing her from her slumbers, and as soon as she was ready to
receive me I told her all.

"There can be no hesitation in the matter," said this delightful woman.
"We must make a confidant of M. de Sartine, and I will speak to him
myself to-day without fail."

Forthwith she went to her desk and wrote to the criminal lieutenant
asking him to see her at three o'clock in the afternoon. In less than an
hour the servant returned with a note in which he said he would expect
her. We agreed that I should come again in the evening, when she would
tell me the result of her interview.

I went to the house at five o'clock, and had only a few minutes to wait.

"I have concealed nothing," said she; "he knows that she is on the eve of
her confinement, and that you are not the father, which speaks highly for
your generosity. I told him that as soon as the confinement was over, and
the young lady had recovered her health, she would return to her mother,
though she would make no confession, and that the child should be well
looked after. You have now nothing to fear, and can calm yourself; but as
the case must go on you will be cited before the court the day after
to-morrow. I advise you to see the clerk of the court on some pretext or
other, and to make him accept a sum of money."

I was summoned to appear, and I appeared. I saw M. de Sartine, 'sedentem
pro tribunali'. At the end of the sitting he told me that he was obliged
to remand me, and that during my remand I must not leave Paris or get
married, as all my civil rights were in suspense pending the decision. I
promised to follow his commands.

I acknowledged in my examination that I was at the ball in a black domino
on the night named in my accusation, but I denied everything else. As for
Mdlle. X. C. V., I said that neither I nor anyone of her family had any
suspicion that she was with child.

Recollecting that I was an alien, and that this circumstance might make
Vauversin call for my arrest, on the plea that I might fly the kingdom, I
thought the moment opportune for making interest with the clerk of the
court, and I accordingly paid him a visit. After telling him of my fears,
I slipped into his hand a packet of three hundred louis, for which I did
not ask for a receipt, saying that they were to defray expenses if I were
mulcted in costs. He advised me to require the midwife to give bail for
her appearance, and I told my attorney to do so; but, four days after,
the following incident took place:

I was walking in the Temple Gardens, when I was accosted by a Savoyard,
who gave me a note in which I was informed that somebody in an alley,
fifty paces off, wanted to speak to me. "Either a love affair or a
challenge," I said to myself, "let's see." I stopped my carriage, which
was following me, and went to the place.

I cannot say how surprised I was to see the wretched Cartel-Bajac
standing before me. "I have only a word to say," said he, when he saw me.
"We will not be overheard here. The midwife is quite sure that you are
the man who brought a pregnant lady to her, but she is vexed that you are
accused of making away with her. Give her a hundred louis; she will then
declare to the court that she has been mistaken, and your trouble will be
ended. You need not pay the money till she has made her declaration; we
will take your word for it. Come with me and talk it over with Vauversin.
I am sure he will persuade you to do as I suggest. I know where to find
him, follow me at some distance."

I had listened to him in silence, and I was delighted to see that the
rascals were betraying themselves. "Very good," said I to the fellow,
"you go on, and I will follow." I went after him to the third floor of a
house in the Rue aux Ours, where I found Vauversin the barrister. No
sooner had I arrived than he went to business without any prefatory
remarks.

"The midwife," he said, "will call on you with a witness apparently with
the intention of maintaining to your face that you are her man; but she
won't be able to recognize you. She will then proceed with the witness to
the court, and will declare that she has made a mistake, and the criminal
lieutenant will forthwith put an end to the proceedings. You will thus be
certain of gaining your case against the lady's mother."

I thought the plan well conceived, and said that they would find me at
the Temple any day up to noon.

"But the midwife wants a hundred louis badly."

"You mean that the worthy woman rates her perjury at that price. Well,
never mind, I will pay the money, and you may trust to my word; but I
can't do so before she has taken oath to her mistake before the court."

"Very good, but you must first give me twenty-five louis to reimburse me
for my costs and fees."

"Certainly, if you will give me a formal receipt for the money."

He hesitated at first, but after talking it over the money proved too
strong a bait, and he wrote out the receipt and I gave him the
twenty-five louis. He thanked me, and said that though Madame X. C. V.
was his client, he would let me know confidentially how best to put a
stop to the proceedings. I thanked him with as much gratitude as if I had
really intended to make use of his services, and I left to write and tell
M. de Sartine what had taken place.

Three days afterwards I was told that a man and woman wanted to see me. I
went down and asked the woman what she wanted.

"I want to speak to M. Casanova."

"I am he."

"Then I have made a mistake, for which I hope you will forgive me."

Her companion smiled, and they went off.

The same day Madame du Rumain had a letter from the abbess telling her
that her young friend had given birth to a fine boy, who had been sent
away to a place where he would be well looked after. She stated that the
young lady could not leave the convent for the next six weeks, at the end
of which time she could return to her mother with a certificate which
would protect her from all annoyance.

Soon after the midwife was put in solitary confinement, Castel-Bajac was
sent to The Bicetre, and Vauversin's name was struck off the rolls. The
suit instituted against me by Madame X. C. V. went on till her daughter
reappeared, but I knew that I had nothing to fear. The girl returned to
her mother about the end of August armed with a certificate from the
abbess, who said she had been under her protection for four months,
during which time she had never left the convent or seen any persons from
outside. This was perfectly true, but the abbess added that her only
reason for her going back to her family was that she had nothing more to
dread from the attentions of M. de la Popeliniere, and in this the abbess
lied.

Mdlle. X. C. V. profited by the delight of her mother in seeing her again
safe and sound, and made her wait on M. de Sartine with the abbess's
certificate, stop all proceedings against me, and withdraw all the
charges she had made. Her daughter told her that if I liked I might claim
damages for libel, and that if she did not wish to injure her reputation
she would say nothing more about what had happened.

The mother wrote me a letter of the most satisfactory character, which I
had registered in court, thus putting an end to the prosecution. In my
turn I wrote to congratulate her on the recovery of her daughter, but I
never set foot in her house again, to avoid any disagreeable scenes with
Farsetti.

Mdlle. X. C. V. could not stay any longer in Paris, where her tale was
known to everyone, and Farsetti took her to Brussels with her sister
Madelaine. Some time after, her mother followed her, and they then went
on to Venice, and there in three years' time she became a great lady.
Fifteen years afterwards I saw her again, and she was a widow, happy
enough apparently, and enjoying a great reputation on account of her
rank, wit, and social qualities, but our connection was never renewed.

In four years the reader will hear more of Castel-Bajac. Towards the end
of the same year (1759), before I went to Holland, I spent several
hundred francs to obtain the release of the midwife.

I lived like a prince, and men might have thought me happy, but I was
not. The enormous expenses I incurred, my love of spending money, and
magnificent pleasures, warned me, in spite of myself, that there were
rocks ahead. My business would have kept me going for a long time, if
custom had not been paralyzed by the war; but as it was, I, like
everybody else, experienced the effect of bad times. My warehouse
contained four hundred pieces of stuffs with designs on them, but as I
could not hope to dispose of them before the peace, and as peace seemed a
long way off, I was threatened with ruin.

With this fear I wrote to Esther to get her father to give me the
remainder of my money, to send me a sharp clerk, and to join in my
speculation. M. d'O---- said that if I would set up in Holland he would
become responsible for everything and give me half profits, but I liked
Paris too well to agree to so good an offer. I was sorry for it
afterwards.

I spent a good deal of money at my private house, but the chief expense
of my life, which was unknown to others but which was ruining me, was
incurred in connection with the girls who worked in my establishment.
With my complexion and my pronounced liking for variety, a score of
girls, nearly all of them pretty and seductive, as most Paris girls are,
was a reef on which my virtue made shipwreck every day. Curiosity had a
good deal to do with it, and they profited by my impatience to take
possession by selling their favours dearly. They all followed the example
of the first favourite, and everyone claimed in turn an establishment,
furniture, money, and jewels; and I knew too little of the value of money
to care how much they asked. My fancy never lasted longer than a week,
and often waned in three or four days, and the last comer always appeared
the most worthy of my attentions.

As soon as I had made a new choice I saw no more of my old loves, but I
continued to provide for them, and that with a good deal of money. Madame
d'Urfe, who thought I was rich, gave me no trouble. I made her happy by
using my oracle to second the magical ceremonies of which she grew fonder
every day, although she never attained her aim. Manon Baletti, however,
grieved me sorely by her jealousy and her well-founded reproaches. She
would not understand--and I did not wonder at it--how I could put off
marrying her if I really loved her. She accused me of deceiving her. Her
mother died of consumption in our arms. Silvia had won my true
friendship. I looked upon her as a most worthy woman, whose kindness of
heart and purity of life deserved the esteem of all. I stayed in the
family for three days after her death, sincerely sympathizing with them
in their affliction.

A few days afterwards, my friend Tiretta lost his mistress through a
grievous illness. Four days before her death, perceiving that she was
near her end, she willed to consecrate to God that which man could have
no longer, and dismissed her lover with the gift of a valuable jewel and
a purse of two hundred louis. Tiretta marched off and came and told me
the sad news. I got him a lodging near the Temple, and a month after,
approving his idea to try his fortune in India, I gave him a letter of
introduction to M. d'O----, of Amsterdam; and in the course of a week
this gentleman got him a post as clerk, and shipped him aboard one of the
company's ships which was bound for Batavia. If he had behaved well he
might have become a rich man, but he got involved in some conspiracy and
had to fly, and afterwards experienced many vicissitudes of fortune. I
heard from one of his relations that he was in Bengal in 1788, in good
circumstances, but unable to realize his property and so return to his
native country. I do not know what became of him eventually.

In the beginning of November an official belonging to the Duc d'Elbeuf's
household came to my establishment to buy a wedding dress for his
daughter. I was dazzled with her beauty. She chose a fine satin, and her
pretty face lighted up when she heard her father say he did not think it
was too much; but she looked quite piteous when she heard the clerk tell
her father that he would have to buy the whole piece, as they could not
cut it. I felt that I must give in, and to avoid making an exception in
her favour I beat a hasty retreat into my private room. I wish I had gone
out of the house, as I should have saved a good deal of money; but what
pleasure should I have also lost! In her despair the charming girl begged
the manager to take her to me, and he dared not refuse to do so. She came
in; two big tears falling down her cheeks and dimming the ardour of her
gaze.

"Oh, sir!" she began, "you are rich, do you buy the piece and let me have
enough for a dress, which will make me happy."

I looked at her father and saw he wore an apologetic air, as if
deprecating the boldness of his child.

"I like your simplicity," I said to her, "and since it will make you
happy, you shall have the dress."

She ran up to me, threw her arms round my neck and kissed me, while her
worthy father was dying with laughter. Her kisses put the last stroke to
my bewitchment. After he had paid for the dress, her father said,

"I am going to get this little madcap married next Sunday; there will be
a supper and a ball, and we shall be delighted if you will honour us with
your presence. My name is Gilbert. I am comptroller of the Duc d'Elbeuf's
household."

I promised to be at the wedding, and the young lady gave a skip of joy
which made me think her prettier than ever.

On Sunday I repaired to the house, but I could neither eat nor drink. The
fair Mdlle. Gilbert kept me in a kind of enchantment which lasted while I
was in company with her friends, for whom I did not care. They were all
officials in noblemen's houses, with their wives and daughters, who all
aped the manners of their betters in the most ridiculous way; nobody knew
me and I was known to nobody, and I cut a sorry figure amongst them all,
for in a company of this sort the wittiest man is the greatest fool.
Everybody cracked his joke to the bride, she answered everybody, and
people laughed at nothing.

Her husband, a thin and melancholy man, with a rather foolish expression,
was delighted at his wife's keeping everybody amused. Although I was in
love with her, I pitied rather than envied him. I guessed that he had
married for monetary considerations, and I knew pretty well what kind of
a head-dress his handsome, fiery wife would give her husband, who was
plain-featured, and seemed not to be aware of his wife's beauty. I was
seized with the desire of asking her some questions, and she gave me the
opportunity by coming to sit next to me after a quadrille. She thanked me
again for my kindness, and said that the beautiful dress I had supplied
had won her many compliments.

"All the same," I said, "I know you are longing to take it off. I know
what love is and how impatient it makes one."

"It's very funny that everyone persists in thinking that I am in love,
though I saw M. Baret for the first time only a week ago. Before then I
was absolutely unconscious of his existence."

"But why are you getting married in such a hurry without waiting till you
know him better?"

"Because my father does everything in a hurry."

"I suppose your husband is a very rich man?"

"No, but he may become rich. We are going to open a shop for silk
stockings at the corner of the Rue St. Honore and the Rue des Prouveres,
and I hope that you will deal with us, as we would serve you with the
best."

"I shall certainly do so--nay, I will be your first customer, if I have
to wait at the door."

"You are kind! M. Baret," said she to her husband, who was standing close
by, "this gentleman promises to be our first customer."

"The gentleman is very good," said the husband, "and I am sure he will be
satisfied, as my stockings are genuine silk."

Next Tuesday at day-break I began to dance attendance at the corner of
the Rue des Prouveres, and waited there till the servant came out to take
down the shutters. I went in and the girl asked me my business.

"I want to buy some stockings," was my answer.

"Master and mistress are still in bed, so you had better come later on."

"No, I will wait here. Stop a minute," said I, giving her six francs, "go
and get me some coffee; I will drink it in the shop."

"I might go and get you some coffee, but I am not so silly as to leave
you in the shop by yourself."

"You are afraid I might steal something!"

"Well, one does hear of such things being done, and I don't know you from
Adam."

"Very good; but I shall stay here all the same."

Before long Baret came down and scolded the poor girl for not having told
him of my presence. "Go and tell my wife to come," said he, as he began
opening packets of stockings for me to choose from. He kept stockings,
vests, and silk drawers, and I turned one packet over after another,
looking at them all and not fixing on anything till I saw his wife coming
down as fresh as a rose and as bright as a lily. She smiled at me in the
most seductive manner, apologized for the disorder of her dress, and
thanked me for keeping my word.

"I never break my word," I said, "especially when such a charming lady is
concerned!"

Madame Baret was seventeen, of a moderate height, and an exquisite
figure; without being classically beautiful, a Raphael could not wish to
depict a more enticing face. Her eyes were large and brilliant. Her
drooping eyelids, which gave her so modest and yet so voluptuous an
appearance, the ever-smiling mouth, her splendid teeth, the dazzling
whiteness of her complexion, the pleasing air with which she listened to
what was being said, her silvery voice, the sweetness and sparkling
vivacity of her manner, her lack of conceit, or rather her
unconsciousness of the power of her charms-in fine, everything about this
masterpiece of nature made me wonder and admire; while she, by chance or
vile monetary considerations, was in the power of Baret, who, pale and
sickly, thought a good deal more of his stockings than of the treasure
marriage had given him--a treasure of which he was all unworthy, since he
could not see its beauty nor taste its sweetness.

I chose stockings and vests to the amount of twenty-five louis, and I
paid the price without trying to cheapen them. I saw the face of the fair
shopwoman light up, and I augured well for my success, though I could not
expect to do much while the honeymoon lasted. I told the servant that I
would give her six francs if she would bring the packet to my house, and
so I left them.

Next Sunday Baret came himself with my purchases. I gave him six francs
to hand over to his servant, but he hinted that he was not too proud to
keep them himself. I was disgusted at this petty greed, and at his
meanness in depriving his maid of the six francs after having made a good
profit in what he had sold me; but I wanted to stand well with him, and I
was not sorry to find so simple a way of throwing dust into his eyes. So
while I resolved that the servant should not be a loser I gave the
husband a good reception that I might the better mould him to my purpose.
I had breakfast brought to him, asking why he had not brought his wife.

"She wanted me to take her," said he, "but I was afraid you might be
offended."

"Not at all, I should have been delighted. I think your wife a charming
woman."

"You are very kind to say so; but she's young, she's young."

"I don't think that's any objection; and if she cares for the walk, bring
her with you another time." He said he should be very pleased to do so.

When I passed by the shop in my carriage I blew kisses to her with my
hand, but I did not stop as I did not want any more stockings. Indeed, I
should have been bored with the crowd of fops with which the shop was
always full. She began to be a topic of conversation in the town; the
Palais Royal was full of her; and I was glad to hear that she kept to
herself as if she had richer prey in view. That told me that no one
possessed her so far, and I hoped that I might be the prey myself; I was
quite willing to be captured.

Some days after, she saw my carriage coming, and beckoned to me as I
passed. I got out, and her husband with many apologies told me that he
wanted me to be the first to see a new fashion in breeches he had just
got in. The breeches were parti-coloured, and no man of fashion would be
seen without them. They were odd-looking things, but became a well-made
young man. As they had to fit exactly, I told him to measure me for six
pairs, offering to pay in advance. "We have them in all sizes," said he,
"go up to my wife's room and try some on."

It was a good opportunity and I accepted, especially when I heard him
tell his wife to go and help me. I went upstairs, she following, and I
began to undress, apologizing for doing so before her.

"I will fancy I am your valet," said she, "and I will help you."

I did not make any difficulties, and after taking off my shoes I gave her
my breeches, taking care, however, to keep on my drawers, lest her
modesty should receive too severe a shock. This done she took a pair of
breeches, drew them on me, took them off, and tried on others, and all
this without any impropriety on either side; for I had determined to
behave with discretion till the opportunity came to be indiscreet. She
decided that four pairs fitted me admirably, and, not wishing to
contradict her, I gave her the sixteen louis she asked, and told her I
should be delighted if she would bring them herself at any time when she
was at leisure. She came downstairs quite proud of her knowledge of
business, and Baret said that next Sunday he and his wife would have the
honour of bringing me my purchase.

"I shall be charmed, M. Baret," said I, "especially if you will stay to
dinner."

He answered that having an important engagement for two o'clock he could
only accept on the condition that I would let him go at that time, and he
would return at about five to fetch his wife. I found the plan vastly to
my taste, but I knew how to conceal my joy; and I quietly said that
though I should lose the pleasure of his society, he was free to go when
he liked, especially as I had not to go out myself before six.

I looked forward to the Sunday, and the tradesman and his wife did not
fail me. As soon as they arrived, I told my servant to say "Not at home"
for the rest of the day, and as I was impatient to know what would happen
in the afternoon I had dinner served at an early hour. The dishes were
exquisite, and the wines delicious. The good man ate much and drank
deeply, indeed to such an extent that in common politeness I was obliged
to remind him that he had an important appointment at two. His wits being
sharpened with champagne, the happy thought occurred to him to tell his
wife to go home by herself, if he were kept later than five; and I
hastened to add that I would take her home myself in my carriage. He
thanked me, and I soothed his uneasiness about being punctual to his
appointment by telling him that a coach was waiting, and that the fare
had been paid. He went off, and I found myself alone with my jewel, whom
I was certain of possessing till six o'clock.

As soon as I heard the hall door shut on the kind husband, I said to his
wife,

"You are to be congratulated on having such a kind husband; with a man
like that your happiness is assured."

"It is easy to say happiness, but enjoying it is a different thing. My
husband's health is so delicate that I can only consider myself as his
nurse; and then he contracted heavy debts to set up in business which
oblige us to observe the strictest economy. We came here on foot to save
the twenty-four sons. We could live on the profits of the business, if
there were no debts, but as it is everything goes to pay the interest,
and our sales are not large enough to cover everything."

"But you have plenty of customers, for whenever I pass I see the shop
full of people."

"These customers you see are idlers, crackers of bad jokes, and
profligates, who come and make my head ache with their jests. They have
not a penny to bless themselves with, and we dare not let them out of our
sight for fear of their hands wandering. If we had cared to give them
credit, our shop would have been emptied long ago. I am rude to them, in
the hopes that they may leave me alone, but it's of no use. Their
impudence is astonishing. When my husband is in I retreat to my room, but
he is often away, and then I am obliged to put up with them. And the
scarcity of money prevents us from doing much business, but we are
obliged to pay our workmen all the same. As far as I can see, we shall be
obliged to dismiss them, as we shall soon have to meet several bills.
Next Saturday we have got to pay six hundred francs, and we have only got
two hundred."

"I am surprised at your having all this worry in these early days of your
marriage. I suppose your father knew about your husband's circumstances;
how about your dowry?"

"My dowry of six thousand francs has served, most of it, to stock the
shop and to pay our debts. We have goods which would pay our debts three
times over; but in bad times capital sunk is capital dead."

"I am sorry to hear all this, as if peace is not made your situation will
become worse, for as you go on your needs will become greater."

"Yes, for when my husband is better we may have children."

"What! Do you mean to say his health prevents him from making you a
mother?  I can't believe it."

"I don't see how I can be a mother who am still a maid; not that I care
much about the matter."

"I shouldn't have believed it! How can a man not in the agony of death
feel ill beside you?  He must be dead."

"Well, he is not exactly dead, but he doesn't shew many signs of life."

This piece of wit made me laugh, and under cover of my applause I
embraced her without experiencing much resistance. The first kiss was
like an electric spark; it fired my imagination and I increased my
attentions till she became as submissive as a lamb.

"I will help you, dearest, to meet the bill on Saturday;" and so saying I
drew her gently into a closet where a soft divan formed a suitable altar
for the completion of an amorous sacrifice.

I was enchanted to find her submissive to my caresses and my
inquisitiveness, but she surprised me greatly when, as I placed myself in
readiness for the consummation of the act, and was already in the proper
posture between the two columns, she moved in such a way as to hinder my
advance. I thought at first that it was only one of those devices
intended to make the final victory more sweet by putting difficulties in
the way; but, finding that her resistance was genuine, I exclaimed,

"How was I to expect a refusal like this at a moment when I thought I saw
my ardours reflected in your eyes?"

"Your eyes did not deceive you; but what would my husband say if he found
me otherwise than as God has made me?"

"He can't have left you untouched!"

"He really has done so. You can see for yourself if you like. Can I,
then, give to you what appertains to the genius of the marriage-bed."

"You are right, my angel; this fruit must be kept for a mouth unworthy to
taste it. I pity and adore you. Come to my arms, abandon yourself to my
love, and fear nothing. The fruit shall not be damaged; I will but taste
the outer surface and leave no trace behind."

We passed three hours in trifling together in a manner calculated to
inflame our passions despite the libations which we now and again poured
forth. I was consoled by her swearing to be mine as soon as Baret had
good grounds for thinking that she was his, and, after taking her on the
Boulevards, I left her at her door, with a present of twenty-five Louis.

I was in love with her as I had never been before, and I passed the shop
three or four times a day, going round and round, to the wrath of my
coachman, who got sick of telling me that I was ruining my horses. I was
happy to see her watch for the moment that I passed, and waft me a kiss
by putting her pretty fingers to her mouth.

We had agreed that she should not make me a sign to leave my coach till
her husband had forced a passage. At last this day, so ardently desired
and so long waited for, arrived. The sign was given, and I stopped the
coach and she came out and, standing on the step, told me to go and wait
for her at the church door of St. Germain l'Auxerrois.

I was curious to know what the results would be, and had not been at the
place appointed more than a quarter of an hour when she came towards me,
her head muffled in a hood. She got into the carriage and, saying that
she wanted to make some purchases, begged me to take her to the shops.

I had business of my own, and pressing business too, but who can refuse
the Beloved Object anything?  I told the coachman to drive to the Place
Dauphine, and I prepared to loosen my purse-strings, as I had a feeling
she was going to treat me as a friend. In point of fact she left few
shops unvisited, going from jewels to pretty trifles and toys of
different kinds, and from these to dresses of the latest fashion, which
they displayed before her, addressing her as princess, and saying that
this would become her admirably. She looked at me, and said it must be
confessed that it was very pretty and that she would like it if it were
not so dear. I was a willing dupe, and assured her that if she liked it
it could not be too dear, and that I would pay.

While my sweetheart was thus choosing one trifle after another my
ill-luck brought about an incident which placed me in a fearful situation
four years afterwards. The chain of events is endless.

I perceived at my left hand a pretty girl of twelve or thirteen, with an
old and ugly woman who was disparaging a pair of ear-rings which the girl
had in her hands, and on which she had evidently set her heart: she
looked sad at not being able to buy them. I heard her say to the old
woman that they would make her happy, but she snatched them from the
girl's hands and told her to, come away.

"I can let you have a cheaper pair and almost as fine," said the
shopwoman, but the young lady said she did not; care about it, and was
getting ready to go, making a profound reverence to my princess Baret.

She, no doubt flattered by this sign of respect went up to her, called
her little queen, told her she was as fair as a May morning, and asked
the old woman her name,

"She is Mdlle. de Boulainvilier, my niece."

"How can you be so hard-hearted," said I to the aunt, "as to refuse your
charming niece a toy which would make her happy?  Allow me to make her a
present of them."

So saying I put the ear-rings in the girl's hands, while she blushed and
looked at her aunt as if to ask her permission.

"You may have the ear-rings," said she, "as this gentleman has been kind
enough to give you such a present, and you should give him a kiss by way
of thanks."

"The ear-rings," said the shopwoman, "will be only three louis."

Hereupon the affair took a comic turn; the old woman got into a rage and
said,

"How can you be such a cheat? You told me they were only two louis."

"Nay, madam, I asked three."

"That's a lie, and I shall not allow you to rob this gentleman. Niece,
put those ear-rings down; let the shopwoman keep them."

So far all was well enough; but the old aunt spoilt everything by saying
that if I liked to give her niece the three louis she could get her a
pair twice as good at another shop. It was all the same to me, so I
smilingly put the three louis in front of the young lady, who still had
the ear-rings in her hands. The shop-woman, who was on the look-out,
pocketed the money, saying that the bargain was made, that the three
louis belonged to her and the ear-rings to the young lady.

"You are a cheat," cried out the enraged old woman.

"And you are an old b----d," answered the shop-woman, "I know you well."
A crowd began to gather in front of the shop, hearing the cries of the
two harpies. Foreseeing a good deal of unpleasantness, I took the aunt by
the arm and led her gently away. The niece, who was quite content with
the ear-rings, and did not care whether they cost three louis or two,
followed her. We shall hear of them again in due course.

My dear Baret having made me waste a score of louis, which her poor
husband would have regretted much more than myself, we got into the
carriage again, and I took her to the church door from which we had
started. On the way she told me she was coming to stop a few days with me
at Little Poland, and that it was her husband who would ask me for the
invitation.

"When will he do that?"

"To-morrow, if you go by the shop. Come and buy some stockings; I shall
have a bad headache, and Baret will speak to you."

It may be imagined that I took care to call the next day, and as I did
not see his wife in the shop I asked in a friendly way after her health.

"She is ill in bed," he replied; "she wants a little country air."

"If you have not fixed for any place, I shall be happy to put you up at
Little Poland."

He replied by a smile of delight.

"I will go and urge her to come myself; in the meanwhile, M. Baret, will
you pack me up a dozen pairs of stockings?"

I went upstairs and found the invalid in bed, and laughing in spite of
her imaginary headache. "The business is done," said I, "you will soon
hear of it." As I had said, the husband came upstairs with my stockings
and told her that I had been good enough to give her a room in my house.
The crafty little creature thanked me, assuring her husband that the
fresh air would soon cure her.

"You shall be well looked after," said I, "but you must excuse me if I do
not keep you company--I have to attend to my business. M. Baret will be
able to come and sleep with you every night, and start early enough in
the morning to be in time for the opening of his shop."

After many compliments had been interchanged, Baret decided on having his
sister stay in the house while his wife was away, and as I took leave I
said that, I should give orders for their reception that very evening, in
case I was out when they came.

Next day I stayed out till after midnight, and the cook told me that the
wedded couple had made a good supper and had gone to bed. I warned her
that I should be dining at home every day, and that I should not see my
company.

The following day I was up betimes, and on enquiring if the husband had
risen I learnt that he had got up at day-break and would not be back till
supper-time. The wife was still asleep. I thought with reason she was not
asleep for me, and I went to pay her my first visit. In point of fact she
was awake, and I took a foretaste of greater joys by a thousand kisses,
which she returned with interest. We jested at the expense of the worthy
man who had trusted me with a jewel of which I was about to make such
good use, and we congratulated each other on the prospect of a week's
mutual pleasures.

"Come, my dear," said I, "get up and put on a few clothes and we will
take breakfast in my room."

She did not make an elaborate toilette; a cotton dressing gown, a pretty
lace cap, a lawn kerchief, that was all, but how the simple dress was
lighted by the roses of her cheeks! We were quick over our breakfast, we
were in a hurry, and when we had done I shut the door and we gave
ourselves over to the enjoyment of our bliss.

Surprised to find her in the same condition in which I had left her, I
told her I had hoped . . . but she, without giving me time to finish the
phrase, said,

"My jewel, Baret thinks, or pretends to think, that he has done his duty
as a husband; but he is no hand at the business, and I am disposed to put
myself in your hands, and then there will be no doubt of my condition."

"We shall thus, my sweet, be doing him a service, and the service shall
be well done."

As I said these words I was on the threshold of the temple, and I opened
the door in a manner that overthrew all obstacles. A little scream and
then several sighs announced the completion of the sacrifice, and, to
tell the truth, the altar of love was covered with the blood of the
victim. After the necessary ablutions the priest once more began his
pious work, while the victim growing bolder so provoked his rage that it
was not till the fourth mactation that we rested and put off our joust to
another season. We swore a thousand times to love each other and to
remain constant, and we may possibly have been sincere, as we were in our
ecstasy of pleasure.

We only separated to dress; then after taking a turn in the garden we
dined together, sure that in a sumptuous repast, washed down by the
choicest wines, we should find strength to reanimate our desires and to
lull them to sleep in bliss.

At dessert, as I was pouring champagne into her glass, I asked her how
with such a fiery temperament she had managed to preserve her virtue?

"Cupid," said I, "might have gathered the fruit that Hymen could not
taste. You are seventeen, and the pear has been ripe for two years at
least."

"Very true, but I have never had a lover."

"Never?"

"I have been courted, but to no effect. My heart was ever silent.
Possibly my father thought otherwise when I begged him, a month ago, to
get me married soon."

"Very likely, but as you were not in love, why were you in such a hurry?"

"I knew that the Duc d'Elbeuf would soon be coming to town, and that if
he found me still single he would oblige me to become the wife of a man I
detest, who would have me at any price."

"Who is this man for whom you have such an aversion?"

"He is one of the duke's pets, a monster who sleeps with his master."

"Really! I did not know the duke had such tastes."

"Oh yes; he is eighty-four, and he thinks himself a woman; he says he
must have a husband."

"That is very funny. And is this aspirant to your hand a handsome man?"

"I think him horrible; but everybody else thinks he is a fine man."

The charming Baret spent a week with me, and each day we renewed the
combat in which we were always conquerors and always conquered. I have
seen few women as pretty and seductive, and none whose skin was more
exquisitely soft and fair. Her breath was aromatic, and this made her
kisses most sweet. Her neck was exquisitely shaped, and the two globes,
tipped with coral, were as hard as marble. The exquisite curves of her
figure would have defied the skill of the ablest painter. I experienced
an ineffable joy in contemplating her, and in the midst of my happiness I
called myself unhappy because I could not satisfy all the desires which
her charms aroused in me. The frieze which crowned her columns was
composed of links of pale gold of the utmost fineness, and my fingers
strove in vain to give them another direction to that which nature had
given them. She could easily have been taught those lively yet graceful
movements which double the pleasure; nature had done her part in that
direction, and I do not think a more expert mistress in the art of love
could be found.

Each of us looked forward to the day of her departure with equal grief,
and our only consolation lay in the hope of meeting again, and often.
Three days after she went away, I went to see her, more in love than
ever, and I gave her two notes of five thousand francs apiece. Her
husband might have his suspicions, but he was too happy at being enabled
to pay his debts and to keep his shop open to say anything unpleasant.
Many husbands besides himself think themselves lucky to have such
productive wives.

In the beginning of November I sold shares for fifty thousand francs to a
man named Gamier, living in the Rue du Mail, giving up to him a third
part of the materials in my warehouse, and accepting a manager chosen by
him and paid by the company. Three days after signing the deed I received
the money; but in the night the doctor, my warehouseman, emptied the till
and absconded. I have always thought that this robbery could not have
been effected without the connivance of the painter. This loss was a
serious blow to me, as my affairs were getting into an embroiled
condition; and, for a finishing touch to my misfortunes, Gamier had me
served with a summons to repay him the fifty thousand francs. My answer
was that I was not liable, that his manager had been appointed, the
agreement and sale of the shares was valid, and that he being one of the
company would have to share in the loss. As he persisted in his claim, I
was advised to go to law, but Gamier declared the agreement null and
void, accusing me in an indirect manner of having appropriated the money
which I had said was stolen. I would willingly have given him a good
thrashing, but he was an old man, and that course would not have mended
matters, so I kept my temper. The merchant who had given surety for the
doctor was not to be found; he had become bankrupt. Garnier had all my
stock seized, and sequestrated my horses, carriages, and all my private
property.

While these troubles were harassing me, I dismissed all my work-girls,
who had always been a great expense, and replaced them with workmen and
some of my servants. The painter still retained his position, which was
an assured one, as he always paid himself out of the sales.

My attorney was an honest man--a rare bird amongst lawyers--but my
counsel, who kept telling me that the case would soon be decided, was a
rascal. While the decision was pending, Garnier served me with a writ to
pay the sum claimed. I took it to my counsel, who promised to appeal the
same day, which he did not do, while he appropriated to his own use the
money assigned by me for the costs of an action which, if there had been
justice in France, I should certainly have gained. Two other summonses
were issued against me, and before I knew what was going on a warrant was
issued for my arrest. I was seized at eight o'clock in the morning, as I
was driving along the Rue St. Denis. The sergeant of police sat beside
me, a second got up beside the coachman, and a third stationed himself at
the back of the coach, and in this state we drove to Fort l'Eveque.

As soon as the police had handed me over to the gaoler, he informed me
that by payment of the fifty thousand francs, or by giving good bail, I
might instantly regain my freedom.

"For the moment," said I, "I can neither command money nor bail."

"Very good, then you will stay in prison."

The gaoler took me to a decent-looking room, and I told him I had only
been served with one writ.

"Very likely," answered he, "it often happens like that; but it is rather
difficult to prove."

"Bring me writing materials, and have a trusty messenger at my disposal."

I wrote to my counsel, my attorney, to Madame d'Urfe, and to all my
friends, including my brother, who was just married. The attorney called
immediately, but the barrister contented himself with writing to the
effect that as he had put in an appeal my seizure was illegal, and that
damages might be recovered. He ended by begging me to give him a free
hand, and to have patience for a few days.

Manon Baletti sent her brother with her diamond earrings. Madame du
Rumain dispatched her barrister--a man of rare honesty--to me, and wrote
a friendly note in which she said that if I wanted five hundred louis I
should have them to-morrow. My brother neither wrote nor came to see me.
As to dear Madame d'Urfe she sent to say that she would expect me at
dinner. I thought she had gone mad, as I could not think she was making
fun of me.

At eleven o'clock my room was full of people. Poor Baret had come
weeping, and offering me all his shop held. I was touched by the worthy
man's kindness. At last I was told that a lady in a coach wanted to see
me. I waited, but nobody came. In my impatience I called the turnkey, who
told me that, after questioning the clerk of the prison, she had gone
away again. From the description I was given I had no difficulty in
identifying the lady with Madame d'Urfe.

To find myself deprived of my liberty was a disagreeable shock to me. I
thought of The Leads, and though my present situation was not to be
compared with that, I cursed my fate as I foresaw that my imprisonment
would damage my reputation. I had thirty thousand francs in hard cash and
jewels to more than double that amount, but I could not decide on making
such a sacrifice, in spite of the advice given by Madame du Rumain's
barrister, who would have me got out of prison at any cost.

"All you have to do," said the barrister, "is to deposit half the sum
demanded which I will give to the clerk of the court, and in a short time
I can promise a decision in your favour and the restoration of your
money."

We were discussing the matter, when the gaoler entered, and said, very
politely,

"Sir, you are a free man again, and a lady is waiting for you at the door
in her carriage."

I called Le Duc, my man, and told him to go and see who the lady was. He
returned with the information that it was Madame d'Urfe. I made my bow to
everybody, and after four very disagreeable hours of imprisonment, I
found myself free again and sitting in a splendid coach.

Madame d'Urfe received me with dignified kindness, and a judge who was in
the carriage apologized for his country, where strangers were exposed to
such insults. I thanked Madame d'Urfe in a few words, telling her that I
was glad to become her debtor, but that it was Garnier who benefited by
her generosity. She replied with a pleasant smile that she was not so
sure of that, and that we would talk it over at dinner. She wanted me to
go and walk in the Tuileries and the Palais Royal, to convince people
that the report of my imprisonment had been false. I thought the advice
excellent, and as I set out I promised to be with her at two o'clock.

After skewing myself at the two principal walks of Paris, amusing myself
by the astonishment depicted on certain faces well known to me, I went
and returned the ear-rings to my dear Manon, who gave an astonished but a
happy cry when she saw me. I thanked her tenderly for the proof she had
given me of her attachment, and said that I had been arrested by a plot
for which I would make the plotters pay dear. After promising to spend
the evening with them I went to Madame d'Urfe's.

This good lady, whose foible is well known to my readers, made me laugh
when she said that her genius had told her that I had got myself arrested
to be talked about, for reasons which were known only to myself.

"As soon as I was informed of your arrest," said she, "I went to the Fort
l'Eveque, and on learning from the clerk what the affair was about, I
deposited bonds to bail you out. If you are not in a position to have
justice done you, Gamier will have to reckon with me before he takes the
money I have deposited. But your first step should be to commence a
criminal prosecution against your counsel, who has not only failed to put
in your appeal but has robbed and deceived you."

I left her in the evening, assuring her that in a few days her bail
should be returned to her; and went to the French and Italian plays in
succession, taking care to render myself conspicuous that my reappearance
might be complete. Afterwards I went to sup with Manon Baletti, who was
too happy to have had an opportunity of spewing her affection for me; and
her joy was full when I told her that I was going to give up business,
for she thought that my seraglio was the only obstacle to my marriage
with her.

The next day was passed with Madame du Rumain. I felt that my obligations
to her were great, while she, in the goodness of her heart, was persuaded
that she could make no adequate return to me for the oracles with which I
furnished her, and by following which she was safely guided through the
perplexities of life. I cannot understand how she, whose wit was keen,
and whose judgment on other subjects was of the soundest kind, could be
liable to such folly. I was sorry when I reflected that I could not
undeceive her, and glad when I reflected that to this deceit of mine the
kindness she had shewn me was chiefly due.

My imprisonment disgusted me with Paris, and made me conceive a hatred of
the law, which I feel now. I found myself entangled in a double maze of
knavery--Garnier was my foe, and so was my own counsel. Every time I went
to plead, to spend my money amongst lawyers, and to waste the time better
given to pleasure, I felt as if I was going to execution. In this
perturbed kind of life, so contrary to my inclinations, I resolved to set
to work in earnest to make my fortune, so that I might become independent
and free to enjoy life according to my tastes. I decided in the first
place that I would cut myself free of all that bound me to Paris, make a
second journey into Holland to replenish my purse and invest my money in
a yearly income for two lives, and from thenceforth live free from care.
The two lives were those of my wife and myself; my wife would be Manon
Baletti, and when I told her my plans she would have thought them
delightful if I had begun by marrying her.

The first thing I did was to give up Little Poland. I then drew the
twenty-four thousand francs which were my surety for keeping a lottery
office in the Rue St. Denis. Thus I got rid of my ridiculous office of
lottery receiver, and after getting my clerk married I handed over the
office to him; in short, I made his fortune. A friend of his wife's was
his surety; such things often happen.

I did not like to leave Madame d'Urfe involved in a troublesome suit with
Gamier, so I went to Versailles to see the Abbe de la Ville, a great
friend of his, and begged him to induce Gamier to make a composition.

The abbe saw that his friend was in the wrong, and so was all the more
willing to help me; and a few days afterwards he wrote to me to go and
see him, assuring me that I should find him inclined to arrange matters
in a friendly manner.

Gamier was at Ruelle, where he had a house which cost him four hundred
thousand francs--a fine estate for a man who had made his money as an
army contractor during the last war. He was rich, but he was so
unfortunate as to be still fond of women at the age of seventy, while his
impotence debarred him from the proper enjoyment of their society. I
found him in company with three young ladies, all of whom were pretty,
and (as I heard afterwards) of good families; but they were poor, and
their necessities forced them to submit to a disgusting intercourse with
the old profligate. I stayed to dinner and admired the propriety and
modesty of their behaviour in spite of the humiliation which accompanies
poverty. After dinner, Gamier went to sleep, and left me to entertain
these girls whom I would willingly have rescued from their unfortunate
situation if I had been able. After Gamier woke, we went into his study
to talk over our business.

At first he maintained his claim tenaciously, and seemed unwilling to
yield an inch; but when I told him that I was leaving Paris in a few
days, he saw that as he could not keep me, Madame d'Urfe might take the
suit over and carry it on to infinity, and that he might lose it at last.
That made him think it over, and he asked me to stay in his house for the
night. The next day, after breakfast, he said,--

"I have made up my mind: I will have twenty-five thousand francs, or keep
the matter before the courts till my dying day."

I answered that he would find the sum in the hands of Madame d'Urfe's
solicitor, and that he could receive it as soon as he had given replevy
on the bail at the Fort l'Eveque.

I could not persuade Madame d'Urfe that I had acted wisely in coming to
an arrangement till I had told her that my genius had commanded me not to
leave Paris before my affairs were settled, so that no one might be able
to accuse me of having gone away to avoid creditors whose claims I could
not satisfy.

Three or four days afterwards I went to take leave of M. de Choiseul, who
promised to instruct M. d'Afri to aid me in negotiating a loan at five
per cent. either with the States-General or a private company.

"You can tell everyone," said he, "that peace is certain to be made in
the course of the winter, and I will take care that you shall have what
is due to you on your return to France."

M. de Choiseul deceived me, for he knew very well that peace would not be
made; but I had no definite project, and I repented of having given M. de
Boulogne my confidence, and also of having done anything for the
Government, the reward of which was not immediate and certain.

I sold my horses, my carriages, my furniture; I went bail for my brother
who had contracted debts he was sure of paying, as he had several
pictures on the easel which he had been ordered to paint by some of his
rich and noble patrons. I took leave of Manon, whom I left in floods of
tears, though I swore with the utmost sincerity to come back soon and
marry her.

At last all my preparations were finished, and I left Paris with a
hundred thousand francs in bills of exchange and jewels to the same
amount. I was alone in my post-chaise, Le Duc preceding me on horseback,
which the rascal preferred to being shut up in a carriage.

This Le Duc of mine was a Spaniard, aged eighteen, a sharp fellow, whom I
valued highly, especially because he did my hair better than anyone else.
I never refused him a pleasure which a little money would buy. Besides
him I had a good Swiss servant, who served as my courier.

It was the 1st of December, 1759, and the air was frosty, but I was
fortified against the inclemency of the season. I was able to read
comfortably, and I took Helvetius's "Esprit," which I had never had time
to read before. After perusing it I was equally astonished at the
sensation it created and at the stupidity of the High Court which
condemned it. Of course that exalted body was largely influenced by the
king and the clergy, and between them all no effort was spared to ruin
Helvetius, a good-hearted man with more wit than his book. I saw nothing
novel either in the historical part relating to the morals of nations (in
which Helvetius dismisses us as triflers), or in the position that
morality is dependent on the reason. All that he says has been said over
and over again, and Blaise Pascal went much farther, but he wrote more
skilfully and better in every way than Helvetius, who, wishing to remain
in France, was obliged to retract. He preferred a quiet life to his
honour and his philosophy. His wife had a nobler soul than he, as she
wanted to sell all they had, and to take refuge in Holland rather than
submit to the shame of a recantation. Perhaps Helvetius would have
followed the noble advice of his wife if he had foreseen that this
monstrous recantation would make his book into a fraud; for he had to
confess that he had written without due reflection, that he was more in
jest than earnest, and that his arguments were mere sophisms. But many
men of keen intellects had not waited for him to recant before exposing
this wretched system of his. And admitting that whatever man does is done
for his own interest, does it follow that gratitude is a folly, and
virtue and vice identical?  Are a villain and a man of honour to be
weighed in the same balance?  If such a dreadful system were not absurd,
virtue would be mere hypocrisy; and if by any possibility it were true,
it ought to be proscribed by general consent, since it would lead to
general ruin and corruption.

It might have been proved to Helvetius that the propositions that the
first motive is always self-interest, and that we should always consult
our own interest first, are fallacious. It is a strange thing that so
virtuous a man would not admit the existence of virtue. It is an amusing
suggestion that he only published his book out of modesty, but that would
have contradicted his own system. But if it were so, was it well done to
render himself contemptible to escape the imputation of pride?  Modesty
is only a virtue when it is natural; if it is put on, or merely the
result of training, it is detestable. The great d'Alembert was the most
truly modest man I have ever seen.

When I got to Brussels, where I spent two days, I went to the "Hotel de
l'Imperatrice," and chance sent Mdlle. X. C. V. and Farsetti in my way,
but I pretended not to see them. From Brussels I went straight to the
Hague, and got out at the "Prince of Orange." On my asking the host who
sat down at his table, he told me his company consisted of general
officers of the Hanoverian army, same English ladies, and a Prince
Piccolomini and his wife; and this made me make up my mind to join this
illustrious assemblage.

I was unknown to all, and keeping my eyes about me I gave my chief
attention to the observation of the supposed Italian princess, who was
pretty enough, and more especially of her husband whom I seemed to
recognize. In the course of conversation I heard some talk of the
celebrated St. Germain, and it seemed that he was stopping in the same
hotel.

I had returned to my room, and was thinking of going to bed, when Prince
Piccolomini entered, and embraced me as an old friend.

"A look in your face," said he, "tells me that the recognition has been
mutual. I knew you directly in spite of the sixteen years that have
passed since we saw each other at Vicenza. To-morrow you can tell
everybody that we are friends, and that though I am not a prince I am
really a count; here is my passport from the King of Naples, pray read
it."

During this rapid monologue I could not get in a single word, and on
attentively scanning his features I could only recollect that I had seen
him before, but when or where or how I knew not. I opened the passport
and read the name of Ruggero di Rocco, Count Piccolomini. That was
enough; I remembered an individual of that name who was a fencing-master
in Vicenza, and on looking at him again his aspect, though much changed
left no doubt as to the identity of the swordsman and the count.

"I congratulate you," said I, "on your change of employment, your new
business is doubtless much better than the old."

"I taught fencing," he replied, "to save myself from dying of hunger, for
my father was so hard a man that he would not give me the wherewithal to
live, and I disguised my name so as not to disgrace it. On my father's
death I succeeded to the property, and at Rome I married the lady you
have seen."

"You had good taste, for she's a pretty woman."

"She is generally thought so, and it was a love match on my side."

He ended by asking me to come and see him in his room the next day, after
dinner, telling me that I should find good company and a bank at faro,
which he kept himself. He added, without ceremony, that if I liked we
could go half shares, and that I should find it profitable. I thanked
him, and promised to pay him a visit.

I went abroad at an early hour next morning, and after having spent some
time with the Jew, Boaz, and having given a polite refusal to his offer
of a bed, I went to pay my respects to M. d'Afri, who since the death of
the Princess of Orange, the Regent of the Low Countries, was generally
known as His Most Christian Majesty's ambassador. He gave me an excellent
reception, but he said that if I had returned to Holland hoping to do
business on behalf of the Government I should waste my time, since the
action of the comptroller-general had lowered the credit of the nation,
which was thought to be on the verge of bankruptcy.

"This M. Silhouette," said he, "has served the king very badly. It is all
very well to say that payments are only suspended for a year, but it is
not believed."

He then asked me if I knew a certain Comte de St. Germain, who had lately
arrived at the Hague.

"He has not called on me," said the ambassador, "though he says he is
commissioned by the king to negotiate a loan of a hundred millions. When
I am asked about him, I am obliged to say that I know nothing about him,
for fear of compromising myself. Such a reply, as you can understand, is
not likely to increase his chance of success, but that is his fault and
not mine. Why has he not brought me a letter from the Duc de Choiseul or
the Marquise de Pompadour?  I take him to be an impostor, but I shall
know something more about him in the course of ten days."

I told him, in my turn, all I knew of this truly eccentric individual. He
was not a little surprised to hear that the king had given him an
apartment at Chambord, but when I told him that the count professed to be
able to make diamonds he laughed and said that in that case he would no
doubt make the hundred millions. Just as I was leaving, M. d'Afri asked
me to dine with him on the following day.

On returning to the hotel I called on the Comte de St. Germain.

"You have anticipated me," said he, on seeing me enter, "I intended to
have called on you. I suppose, my dear Casanova, that you have come to
try what you can do for our Court, but you will find your task a
difficult one, as the Exchange is highly offended at the late doings of
that fool Silhouette. All the same I hope I shall be able to get my
hundred millions. I have passed my word to my friend, Louis XV. (I may
call him so), and I can't disappoint him; the business will be done in
the next three or four weeks."

"I should think M. d'Afri might assist you."

"I do not require his assistance. Probably I shall not even call upon
him, as he might say he helped me. No, I shall have all the trouble, and
I mean to have all the glory, too."

"I presume you will be going to Court, where the Duke of Brunswick may be
of service to you?"

"Why should I go to Court? As for the Duke of Brunswick, I do not care to
know him. All I have got to do is to go to Amsterdam, where my credit is
sufficiently good for anything. I am fond of the King of France; there's
not a better man in the kingdom."

"Well, come and dine at the high table, the company is of the best and
will please you."

"You know I never eat; moreover, I never sit down at a table where I may
meet persons who are unknown to me."

"Then, my lord, farewell; we shall see each other again at Amsterdam."

I went down to the dining-roam, where, while dinner was being served, I
conversed with some officers. They asked me if I knew Prince Piccolomini,
to which I answered that he was not a prince but a count, and that it was
many years since I had seen him.

When the count and his fair wife (who only spoke Italian) came down, I
shewed them some polite attentions, and we then sat down to dinner.





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