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Title: Memoirs of Casanova — Volume 14: Switzerland
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 14: Switzerland" ***

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MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798

THE ETERNAL QUEST, Volume 3d--SWITZERLAND

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



SWITZERLAND



CHAPTER XIII

I Resolve to Become a Monk--I go to Confession--Delay of a
Fortnight--Giustiniani, the Apostle Capuchin--I Alter my Mind; My
Reasons--My Pranks at the Inn--I Dine With the Abbot

The cool way in which the abbot told these cock-and-bull stories gave me
an inclination to laughter, which the holiness of the place and the laws
of politeness had much difficulty in restraining. All the same I listened
with such an attentive air that his reverence was delighted with me and
asked where I was staying.

"Nowhere," said I; "I came from Zurich on foot, and my first visit was to
your church."

I do not know whether I pronounced these words with an air of
compunction, but the abbot joined his hands and lifted them to heaven, as
if to thank God for touching my heart and bringing me there to lay down
the burden of my sins. I have no doubt that these were his thoughts, as I
have always had the look of a great sinner.

The abbot said it was near noon and that he hoped I would do him the
honour of dining with him, and I accepted with pleasure, for I had had
nothing to eat and I knew that there is usually good cheer in such
places. I did not know where I was and I did not care to ask, being
willing to leave him under the impression that I was a pilgrim come to
expiate my sins.

On our way from the church the abbot told me that his monks were fasting,
but that we should eat meat in virtue of a dispensation he had received
from Benedict XIV., which allowed him to eat meat all the year round with
his guests. I replied that I would join him all the more willingly as the
Holy Father had given me a similar dispensation. This seemed to excite
his curiosity about myself, and when we got to his room, which did not
look the cell of a penitent, he hastened to shew me the brief, which he
had framed and glazed and hung up opposite the table so that the curious
and scrupulous might have it in full view.

As the table was only laid for two, a servant in full livery came in and
brought another cover; and the humble abbot then told me that he usually
had his chancellor with him at dinner, "for," said he, "I have a
chancery, since as abbot of Our Lady of Einsiedel I am a prince of the
Holy Roman Empire."

This was a relief to me, as I now knew where I was, and I no longer ran
the risk of shewing my ignorance in the course of conversation.

This monastery (of which I had heard before) was the Loretto of the
Mountains, and was famous for the number of pilgrims who resorted to it.

In the course of dinner the prince--abbot asked me where I came from, if
I were married, if I intended to make a tour of Switzerland, adding that
he should be glad to give me letters of introduction. I replied that I
was a Venetian, a bachelor, and that I should be glad to accept the
letters of introduction he had kindly offered me, after I had had a
private conference with him, in which I desired to take his advice on my
conscience.

Thus, without premeditation, and scarcely knowing what I was saying, I
engaged to confess to the abbot.

This was my way. Whenever I obeyed a spontaneous impulse, whenever I did
anything of a sudden, I thought I was following the laws of my destiny,
and yielding to a supreme will. When I had thus plainly intimated to him
that he was to be my confessor, he felt obliged to speak with religious
fervour, and his discourses seemed tolerable enough during a delicate and
appetising repast, for we had snipe and woodcock; which made me
exclaim,--

"What! game like that at this time of year?"

"It's a secret," said he, with a pleased smile, "which I shall be glad to
communicate to you."

The abbot was a man of taste, for though he affected sobriety he had the
choicest wines and the most delicious dishes on the table. A splendid
salmon-trout was brought, which made him smile with pleasure, and
seasoning the good fare with a jest, he said in Latin that we must taste
it as it was fish, and that it was right to fast a little.

While he was talking the abbot kept a keen eye on me, and as my fine
dress made him feel certain that I had nothing to ask of him he spoke at
ease.

When dinner was over the chancellor bowed respectfully and went out. Soon
after the abbot took me over the monastery, including the library, which
contained a portrait of the Elector of Cologne in semi-ecclesiastical
costume. I told him that the portrait was a good though ugly likeness,
and drew out of my pocket the gold snuffbox the prince had given me,
telling him that it was a speaking likeness. He looked at it with
interest, and thought his highness had done well to be taken in the dress
of a grand-master. But I perceived that the elegance of the snuff-box did
no harm to the opinion the abbot had conceived of me. As for the library,
if I had been alone it would have made me weep. It contained nothing
under the size of folio, the newest books were a hundred years old, and
the subject-matter of all these huge books was solely theology and
controversy. There were Bibles, commentators, the Fathers, works on canon
law in German, volumes of annals, and Hoffman's dictionary.

"I suppose your monks have private libraries of their own," I said,
"which contain accounts of travels, with historical and scientific
works."

"Not at all," he replied; "my monks are honest folk, who are content to
do their duty, and to live in peace and sweet ignorance."

I do not know what happened to me at that moment, but a strange whim came
into my head--I would be a monk, too. I said nothing about it at the
moment, but I begged the abbot to take me to his private chamber.

"I wish to make a general confession of all my sins," said I, "that I may
obtain the benefit of absolution, and receive the Holy Eucharist on the
morrow."

He made no answer, but led the way to a pretty little room, and without
requiring me to kneel down said he was ready to hear me.

I sat down before him and for three consecutive hours I narrated
scandalous histories unnumerable, which, however, I told simply and not
spicily, since I felt ascetically disposed and obliged myself to speak
with a contrition I did not feel, for when I recounted my follies I was
very far from finding the remembrance of them disagreeable.

In spite of that, the serene or reverend abbot believed, at all events,
in my attrition, for he told me that since by the appointed means I had
once more placed myself in a state of grace, contrition would be
perfected in me.

According to the good abbot, and still more according to me, without
grace contrition is impossible.

After he had pronounced the sacramental words which take away the sins of
men, he advised me to retire to the chamber he had appointed for me, to
pass the rest of the day in prayer, and to go to bed at an early hour,
but he added that I could have supper if I was accustomed to that meal.
He told me that I might communicate at the first mass next morning, and
with that we parted.

I obeyed with a docility which has puzzled me ever since, but at the time
I thought nothing of it. I was left alone in a room which I did not even
examine, and there I pondered over the idea which had come into my head
before making my confession; and I quite made up my mind that chance, or
rather my good genius, had led me to that spot, where happiness awaited
me, and where I might shelter all my days from the tempests of the world.

"Whether I stay here," said I, "depends on myself alone, as I am sure the
abbot will not refuse me the cowl if I give him ten thousand crowns for
my support."

All that was needed to secure my happiness seemed a library of my own
choosing, and I did not doubt but that the abbot would let me have what
books I pleased if I promised to leave them to the monastery after my
death.

As to the society of the monks, the discord, envy, and all the bickerings
inseparable from such a mode of life, I thought I had nothing to pass in
that way, since I had no ambitions which could rouse the jealousy of the
other monks. Nevertheless, despite my fascination, I foresaw the
possibility of repentance, and I shuddered at the thought, but I had a
cure for that also.

"When I ask for the habit," I said, "I will also ask that my novitiate be
extended for ten years, and if repentance do not come in ten years it
will not come at all. I shall declare that I do not wish for any cure or
any ecclesiastical dignity. All I want is peace and leave to follow my
own tastes, without scandalising anyone." I thought: I could easily
remove any objections which might be made to the long term of my
novitiate, by agreeing, in case I changed my mind, to forfeit the ten
thousand crowns which I would pay in advance.

I put down this fine idea in writing before I went to bed; and in the
morning, finding myself unshaken in my resolve, after I had communicated
I gave my plan to the abbot, who was taking chocolate in his room.

He immediately read my plan, and without saying anything put it on the
table, and after breakfast he walked up and down the room and read it
again, and finally told me that he would give me an answer after dinner.

I waited till night with the impatience of a child who has been promised
toys on its birthday--so completely and suddenly can an infatuation
change one's nature. We had as good a dinner as on the day before, and
when we had risen from the table the good abbot said,

"My carriage is at the door to take you to Zurich. Go, and let me have a
fortnight to think it over. I will bring my answer in person. In the
meanwhile here are two sealed letters, which please deliver yourself."

I replied that I would obey his instructions and that I would wait for
him at the "Sword," in the hope that he would deign to grant my wishes. I
took his hand, which he allowed me to kiss, and I then set out for
Zurich.

As soon as my Spaniard saw me the rascal began to laugh. I guessed what
he was thinking, and asked him what he was laughing at.

"I am amazed to see that no sooner do you arrive in Switzerland than you
contrive to find some amusement which keeps you away for two whole days."

"Ah, I see; go and tell the landlord that I shall want the use of a good
carriage for the next fortnight, and also a guide on whom I can rely."

My landlord, whose name was Ote, had been a captain, and was thought a
great deal of at Zurich. He told me that all the carriages in the
neighbourhood were uncovered. I said they would do, as there was nothing
better to be had, and he informed me I could trust the servant he would
provide me with.

Next morning I took the abbot's letters. One was for M. Orelli and the
other for a M. Pestalozzi, neither of whom I found at home; but in the
afternoon they both called on me, asked me to dinner, and made me promise
to come with them the same evening to a concert. This is the only species
of entertainment allowed at Zurich, and only members of the musical
society can be present, with the exception of strangers, who have to be
introduced by a member, and are then admitted on the payment of a crown.
The two gentlemen both spoke in very high terms of the Abbot of
Einsiedel.

I thought the concert a bad one, and got bored at it. The men sat on the
right hand and the women on the left. I was vexed with this arrangement,
for in spite of my recent conversation I saw three or four ladies who
pleased me, and whose eyes wandered a good deal in my direction. I should
have liked to make love to them, to make the best of my time before I
became a monk.

When the concert was over, men and women went out together, and the two
citizens presented me to their wives and daughters, who looked pleasant,
and were amongst those I had noticed.

Courtesy is necessarily cut short in the street, and, after I had thanked
the two gentlemen, I went home to the "Sword."

Next day I dined with M. Orelli, and I had an opportunity for doing
justice to his daughter's amiability without being able to let her
perceive how she had impressed me. The day after, I played the same part
with M. Pestalozzi, although his charming daughter was pretty enough to
excite my gallantry. But to my own great astonishment I was a mirror of
discretion, and in four days that was my character all over the town. I
was quite astonished to find myself accosted in quite a respectful
manner, to which I was not accustomed; but in the pious state of mind I
was in, this confirmed me in the belief that my idea of taking the cowl
had been a Divine inspiration. Nevertheless, I felt listless and weary,
but I looked upon that as the inevitable consequence of so complete a
change of life, and thought it would disappear when I grew more
accustomed to goodness.

In order to put myself, as soon as possible, on an equality with my
future brethren, I passed three hours every morning in learning German.
My master was an extraordinary man, a native of Genoa, and an apostate
Capuchin. His name was Giustiniani. The poor man, to whom I gave six
francs every morning, looked upon me as an angel from heaven, although I,
with the enthusiasm of a devotee, took him for a devil of hell, for he
lost no opportunity of throwing a stone at the religious orders. Those
orders which had the highest reputation, were, according to him, the
worst of all, since they led more people astray. He styled monks in
general as a vile rabble, the curse of the human race.

"But," said I to him one day, "you will confess that Our Lady of
Einsiedel . . ."

"What!" replied the Genoese, without letting me finish my remark, "do you
think I should make an exception in favour of a set of forty ignorant,
lazy, vicious, idle, hypocritical scoundrels who live bad lives under the
cloak of humility, and eat up the houses of the poor simpletons who
provide for them, when they ought to be earning their own bread?"

"But how about his reverend highness the abbot?"

"A stuck-up peasant who plays the part of a prince, and is fool enough to
think himself one."

"But he is a prince."

"As much a prince as I am. I look upon him as a mere buffoon."

"What has he done to you?"

"Nothing; but he is a monk."

"He is a friend of mine."

"I cannot retract what I have said, but I beg your pardon."

This Giustiniani had a great influence upon me, although I did not know
it, for I thought my vocation was sure. But my idea of becoming a monk at
Einsiedel came to an end as follows:

The day before the abbot was coming to see me, at about six o'clock in
the evening, I was sitting at my window, which looked out on the bridge,
and gazing at the passers-by, when all at once a carriage and four came
up at a good pace and stopped at the inn. There was no footman on it, and
consequently the waiter came out and opened the door, and I saw four
well-dressed women leave the carriage. In the first three I saw nothing
noticeable, but the fourth, who was dressed in a riding-habit, struck me
at once with her elegance and beauty. She was a brunette with fine and
well-set eyes, arched eyebrows, and a complexion in which the hues of the
lily and the rose were mingled. Her bonnet was of blue satin with a
silver fillet, which gave her an air I could not resist. I stretched out
from the window as far as I could, and she lifted her eyes and looked at
me as if I had bade her do so. My position obliged me to look at her for
half a minute; too much for a modest woman, and more than was required to
set me all ablaze.

I ran and took up my position at the window of my ante-chamber, which
commanded a view of the staircase, and before long I saw her running by
to rejoin her three companions. When she got opposite to my window she
chanced to turn in that direction, and on seeing me cried out as if she
had seen a ghost; but she soon recollected herself and ran away, laughing
like a madcap, and rejoined the other ladies who were already in their
room.

Reader, put yourself in my place, and tell me how I could have avoided
this meeting. And you who would bury yourselves in monastic shades,
persevere, if you can, after you have seen what I saw at Zurich on April
23rd.

I was in such a state of excitement that I had to lie down on my bed.
After resting a few minutes, I got up and almost unconsciously went
towards the passage window and saw the waiter coming out of the ladies'
room.

"Waiter," said I, "I will take supper in the dining-room with everybody
else."

"If you want to see those ladies, that won't do, as they have ordered
their supper to be brought up to them. They want to go to bed in good
time as they are to leave at day-break."

"Where are they going?"

"To Our Lady of Einsiedel to pay their vows."

"Where do they come from?"

"From Soleure."

"What are their names?"

"I don't know."

I went to lie down again, and thought how I could approach the fair one
of my thoughts. Should I go to Einsiedel, too? But what could I do when I
got there?  These ladies are going to make their confessions; I could not
get into the confessional. What kind of a figure should I cut among the
monks?  And if I were to meet the abbot on the way, how could I help
returning with him?  If I had had a trusty friend I would have arranged
an ambuscade and carried off my charmer. It would have been an easy task,
as she had nobody to defend her. What if I were to pluck up my heart and
beg them to let me sup in their company?  I was afraid of the three
devotees; I should meet with a refusal. I judged that my charmer's
devotion was more a matter of form than any thing else, as her
physiognomy declared her to be a lover of pleasure, and I had long been
accustomed to read womens' characters by the play of their features.

I did not know which way to turn, when a happy idea came into my head. I
went to the passage window and stayed there till the waiter went by. I
had him into the room, and began my discourse by sliding a piece of gold
into his hand. I then asked him to lend me his green apron, as I wished
to wait upon the ladies at supper.

"What are you laughing at?"

"At your taking such a fancy, sir, though I think I know why."

"You are a sharp fellow."

"Yes, sir, as sharp as most of them; I will get you a new apron. The
pretty one asked me who you were."

"What did you tell her?"

"I said you were an Italian; that's all."

"If you will hold your tongue I will double that piece of gold."

"I have asked your Spaniard to help me, sir, as I am single-handed, and
supper has to be served at the same time both upstairs and downstairs."

"Very good; but the rascal mustn't come into the room or he would be sure
to laugh. Let him go to the kitchen, bring up the dishes, and leave them
outside the door."

The waiter went out, and returned soon after with the apron and Le Duc,
to whom I explained in all seriousness what he had to do. He laughed like
a madman, but assured me he would follow my directions. I procured a
carving-knife, tied my hair in a queue, took off my coat, and put on the
apron over my scarlet waistcoat ornamented with gold lace. I then looked
at myself in the glass, and thought my appearance mean enough for the
modest part I was about to play. I was delighted at the prospect, and
thought to myself that as the ladies came from Soleure they would speak
French.

Le Duc came to tell me that the waiter was going upstairs. I went into
the ladies' room and said, "Supper is about to be served, ladies."

"Make haste about it, then," said the ugliest of them, "as we have got to
rise before day-break."

I placed the chairs round the table and glanced at my fair one, who
looked petrified. The waiter came in, and I helped him to put the dishes
on the table, and he then said to me, "Do you stay here, as I have to go
downstairs."

I took a plate and stood behind a chair facing the lady, and without
appearing to look at her I saw her perfectly, or rather I saw nothing
else. She was astonished the others did not give me a glance, and they
could not have pleased me better. After the soup I hurried to change her
plate, and then did the same office for the rest: they helped themselves
to the boiled beef.

While they were eating, I took a boiled capon and cut it up in a masterly
manner.

"We have a waiter who knows his work," said the lady of my thoughts.

"Have you been long at this inn?"

"Only a few weeks, madam."

"You wait very well."

"Madam is very good."

I had tucked in my superb ruffles of English point lace, but my frilled
shirt front of the same material protruded slightly through my vest,
which I had not buttoned carefully. She saw it, and said, "Come here a
moment."

"What does madam require?"

"Let me see it. What beautiful lace!"

"So I have been told, madam, but it is very old. An Italian gentleman who
was staying here made me a present of it."

"You have ruffles of the same kind, I suppose?"

"Yes, madam;" and so saying I stretched out my hand, unbuttoning my
waistcoat. She gently drew out the ruffle, and seemed to place herself in
a position to intoxicate me with the sight of her charms, although she
was tightly laced. What an ecstatic moment! I knew she had recognized me,
and the thought that I could not carry the masquerade beyond a certain
point was a veritable torment to me.

When she had looked a long time, one of the others said,

"You are certainly very curious, my dear, one would think you had never
seen lace before."

At this she blushed.

When the supper was done, the three ugly ladies each went apart to
undress, while I took away the dishes, and my heroine began to write. I
confess that I was almost infatuated enough to think that she was writing
to me; however, I had too high an opinion of her to entertain the idea.

As soon as I had taken away the dishes, I stood by the door in the
respectful manner becoming the occasion.

"What are you waiting for?" she said.

"For your orders, madam."

"Thank you, I don't want anything."

"Your boots, madam, you will like them removed before you retire."

"True, but still I don't like to give you so much trouble."

"I am here to attend on you, madam."

So saying, I knelt on one knee before her, and slowly unplaced her boots
while she continued writing. I went farther; I unbuckled her garters,
delighting in the contemplation and still more in the touch of her
delicately-shaped legs, but too soon for me she turned her head, and
said,

"That will do, thank you. I did not notice that you were giving yourself
so much trouble. We shall see you to-morrow evening."

"Then you will sup here, ladies?"

"Certainly."

I took her boots away, and asked if I should lock the door.

"No, my good fellow," said she, in the voice of a syren, "leave the key
inside."

Le Duc took the charmer's boots from me, and said, laughing,--

"She has caught you."

"What?"

"I saw it all, sir, you played your part as well as any actor in Paris;
and I am certain that she will give you a louis to-morrow, but if you
don't hand it over to me I will blow on the whole thing."

"That's enough, you rascal; get me my supper as quickly as possible."

Such are the pleasures which old age no longer allows me to enjoy, except
in my memory. There are monsters who preach repentance, and philosophers
who treat all pleasures as vanity. Let them talk on. Repentance only
befits crimes, and pleasures are realities, though all too fleeting.

A happy dream made me pass the night with the fair lady; doubtless it was
a delusion, but a delusion full of bliss. What would I not give now for
such dreams, which made my nights so sweet!

Next morning at day-break I was at her door with her boots in my hand
just as their coachman came to call them. I asked them, as a matter of
form, if they would have breakfast, and they replied merrily that they
had made too good a supper to have any appetite at such an early hour. I
went out of the room to give them time to dress, but the door was half
open, and I saw reflected in the glass the snow-white bosom of my fair
one; it was an intoxicating sight. When she had laced herself and put on
her dress she called for her boots. I asked if I should put them on, to
which she consented with a good grace, and as she had green velvet
breeches, she seemed to consider herself as almost a man. And, after all,
a waiter is not worth putting one's self out about. All the worst for him
if he dare conceive any hopes from the trifling concessions he receives.
His punishment will be severe, for who would have thought he could have
presumed so far? As for me, I am now, sad to say, grown old, and enjoy
some few privileges of this description, which I relish, though despising
myself, and still more those who thus indulge me.

After she had gone I went to sleep again, hoping to see her in the
evening. When I awoke I heard that the abbot of Einsiedel was at Zurich,
and my landlord told me that his reverend highness would dine with me in
my room. I told him that I wished to treat the abbot well, and that he
must set the best dinner he could for us.

At noon the worthy prelate was shewn up to my room, and began by
complimenting me on the good reputation I had at Zurich, saying that this
made him believe that my vocation was a real one.

"The following distich," he added, "should now become your motto:
   "Inveni portum. Spes et fortuna valete;
   Nil mihi vobiscum est: ludite nuns alios."

"That is a translation of two verses from Euripides," I answered; "but,
my lord, they will not serve me, as I have changed my mind since
yesterday."

"I congratulate you," said he, "and I hope you will accomplish all your
desires. I may tell you confidentially that it is much easier to save
one's soul in the world where one can do good to one's neighbours, than
in the convent, where a man does no good to himself nor to anyone else."

This was not speaking like the hypocrite Guistiniani had described to me;
on the contrary, it was the language of a good and sensible man.

We had a princely dinner, as my landlord had made each of the three
courses a work of art. The repast was enlivened by an interesting
conversation, to which wit and humour were not lacking. After coffee I
thanked the abbot with the greatest respect, and accompanied him to his
carriage, where the reverend father reiterated his offers of serving me,
and thus, well pleased with one another, we parted.

The presence and the conversation of this worthy priest had not for a
moment distracted my thoughts from the pleasing object with which they
were occupied. So soon as the abbot had gone, I went to the bridge to
await the blessed angel, who seemed to have been sent from Soleure with
the express purpose of delivering me from the temptation to become a
monk, which the devil had put into my heart. Standing on the bridge I
built many a fine castle in Spain, and about six in the evening I had the
pleasure of seeing my fair traveller once more. I hid myself so as to see
without being seen. I was greatly surprised to see them all four looking
towards my window. Their curiosity shewed me that the lady had told them
of the secret, and with my astonishment there was some admixture of
anger. This was only natural, as I not only saw myself deprived of the
hope of making any further advances, but I felt that I could no longer
play my part of waiter with any confidence. In spite of my love for the
lady I would not for the world become the laughing-stock of her three
plain companions. If I had interested her in my favour, she would
certainly not have divulged my secret, and I saw in her doing so proof
positive that she did not want the jest to go any further, or rather of
her want of that spirit so necessary to ensure the success of an
intrigue. If the three companions of my charmer had had anything
attractive about them, I might possibly have persevered and defied
misfortune; but in the same measure as beauty cheers my heart, ugliness
depresses it. Anticipating the melancholy which I foresaw would result
from this disappointment, I went out with the idea of amusing myself, and
happening to meet Giustiniani I told him of my misfortune, saying that I
should not be sorry to make up for it by a couple of hours of the society
of some mercenary beauty.

"I will take you to a house," said he, "where you will find what you
want. Go up to the second floor and you will be well received by an old
woman, if you whisper my name to her. I dare not accompany you, as I am
well known in the town and it might get me into trouble with the police,
who are ridiculously strict in these matters. Indeed I advise you to take
care that nobody sees you going in."

I followed the ex-Capuchin's advice and waited for the dusk of the
evening. I had a good reception, but the supper was poor, and the hours
that I spent with two young girls of the working class were tedious. They
were pretty enough, but my head was full of my perfidious charmer, and
besides, despite their neatness and prettiness, they were wanting in that
grace which adds so many charms to pleasure. The liberality of my
payment, to which they were not accustomed, captivated the old woman, who
said she would get me all the best stuff in the town; but she warned me
to take care that nobody saw me going into her house.

When I got back Le Duc told me that I had been wise to slip away, as my
masquerade had become generally known, and the whole house, including the
landlord, had been eagerly waiting to see me play the part of waiter. "I
took your place," he added. "The lady who has taken your fancy is
Madame----, and I must confess she is vastly fine."

"Did she ask where the other waiter was?"

"No, but the other ladies asked what had become of you several times."

"And Madame said nothing?"

"She didn't open her mouth, but looked sad and seemed to care for
nothing, till I said you were away because you were ill."

"That was stupid of you. Why did you say that?"

"I had to say something."

"True. Did you untie her shoe?"

"No; she did not want me to do so."

"Good. Who told you her name?"

"Her coachman. She is just married to a man older than herself."

I went to bed, but could only think of the indiscretion and sadness of my
fair lady. I could not reconcile the two traits in her character. Next
day, knowing that she would be starting early, I posted myself at the
window to see her get into the carriage, but I took care to arrange the
curtain in such a way that I could not be seen. Madame was the last to
get in, and pretending that she wanted to see if it rained, she took off
her bonnet and lifted her head. Drawing the curtain with one hand, and
taking off my cap with the other, I wafted her a kiss with the tips of my
fingers. In her turn she bowed graciously, returning my kiss with a
good-natured smile.



CHAPTER XIV

I Leave Zurich--Comic Adventure at Baden--Soleure--M. De Chavigni--M. and
Madame * * * I Act in a Play--I Counterfeit Sickness to Attain Happiness

M. Mote, my landlord, introduced his two sons to me. He had brought them
up like young princes. In Switzerland, an inn-keeper is not always a man
of no account. There are many who are as much respected as people of far
higher rank are in other countries. But each country has its own manners.
My landlord did the honours of the table, and thought it no degradation
to make his guests pay for the meal. He was right; the only really
degrading thing in the world is vice. A Swiss landlord only takes the
chief place at table to see that everyone is properly attended to. If he
have a son, he does not sit down with his father, but waits on the
guests, with napkin in hand. At Schaffhaus, my landlord's son, who was a
captain in the Imperial army, stood behind my chair and changed my plate,
while his father sat at the head of the table. Anywhere else the son
would have been waited on, but in his father's house he thought, and
rightly, that it was an honour to wait.

Such are Swiss customs, of which persons of superficial understanding
very foolishly make a jest. All the same, the vaunted honour and loyalty
of the Swiss do not prevent them from fleecing strangers, at least as
much as the Dutch, but the greenhorns who let themselves be cheated,
learn thereby that it is well to bargain before-hand, and then they treat
one well and charge reasonably. In this way, when I was at Bale, I
baffled the celebrated Imhoff, the landlord of the "Three Kings."

M. Ote complimented me on my waiter's disguise, and said he was sorry not
to have seen me officiating, nevertheless, he said he thought I was wise
not to repeat the jest. He thanked me for the honour I had done his
house, and begged me to do him the additional favour of dining at his
table some day before I left. I answered that I would dine with him with
pleasure that very day. I did so, and was treated like a prince.

The reader will have guessed that the last look my charmer gave me had
not extinguished the fire which the first sight of her had kindled in my
breast. It had rather increased my flame by giving me hopes of being
better acquainted with her; in short, it inspired me with the idea of
going to Soleure in order to give a happy ending to the adventure. I took
a letter of credit on Geneva, and wrote to Madame d'Urfe, begging her to
give me a written introduction, couched in strong terms to M. de
Chavigni, the French ambassador, telling her that the interests of our
order were highly involved in my knowing this diplomatist, and requesting
her to address letters to me at the post office at Soleure. I also wrote
to the Duke of Wurtemburg, but had no answer from him, and indeed he must
have found my epistle very unpleasant reading.

I visited the old woman whom Giustiniani had told me of several times
before I left Zurich, and although I ought to have been well satisfied as
far as physical beauty was concerned, my enjoyment was very limited, as
the nymphs I wooed only spoke Swiss dialect--a rugged corruption of
German. I have always found that love without speech gives little
enjoyment, and I cannot imagine a more unsatisfactory mistress than a
mute, were she as lovely as Venus herself.

I had scarcely left Zurich when I was obliged to stop at Baden to have
the carriage M. Ote had got me mended. I might have started again at
eleven, but on hearing that a young Polish lady on her way to Our Lady of
Einseidel was to dine at the common table, I decided to wait; but I had
my trouble for nothing, as she turned out to be quite unworthy of the
delay.

After dinner, while my horses were being put in, the host's daughter, a
pretty girl enough, came into the room and made me waltz with her; it
chanced to be a Sunday. All at once her father came in, and the girl
fled.

"Sir," said the rascal, "you are condemned to pay a fine of one louis."

"Why?"

"For having danced on a holy day."

"Get out; I won't pay."

"You will pay, though," said he, shewing me a great parchment covered
with writing I did not understand.

"I will appeal."

"To whom, sir?"

"To the judge of the place."

He left the room, and in a quarter of an hour I was told that the judge
was waiting for me in an adjoining chamber. I thought to myself that the
judges were very polite in that part of the world, but when I got into
the room I saw the rascally host buried in a wig and gown.

"Sir," said he, "I am the judge."

"Judge and plaintiff too, as far as I can see."

He wrote in his book, confirming the sentence, and mulcting me in six
francs for the costs of the case.

"But if your daughter had not tempted me." said I, "I should not have
danced; she is therefore as guilty as I."

"Very true, sir; here is a Louis for her." So saying he took a Louis out
of his pocket, put it into a desk beside him, and said; "Now yours."

I began to laugh, paid my fine, and put off my departure till the morrow.

As I was going to Lucerne I saw the apostolic nuncio (who invited me to
dinner), and at Fribourg Comte d'Afri's young and charming wife; but at
ten leagues from Soleure I was a witness of the following curious
circumstances.

I was stopping the night in a village, and had made friends with the
surgeon, whom I had found at the inn, and while supper, which he was to
share with me, was getting ready, we walked about the village together.
It was in the dusk of the evening, and at a distance of a hundred paces I
saw a man climbing up the wall of a house, and finally vanishing through
a window on the first floor.

"That's a robber," said I, pointing him out to the surgeon. He laughed
and said,--

"The custom may astonish you, but it is a common one in many parts of
Switzerland. The man you have just seen is a young lover who is going to
pass the night with his future bride. Next morning he will leave more
ardent than before, as she will not allow him to go too far. If she was
weak enough to yield to his desires he would probably decline to marry
her, and she would find it difficult to get married at all."

At Soleure I found a letter from Madame d'Urfe, with an enclosure from
the Duc de Choiseul to the ambassador, M. de Chavigni. It was sealed, but
the duke's name was written below the address.

I made a Court toilet, took a coach, and went to call on the ambassador.
His excellency was not at home, so I left my card and the letter. It was
a feast-day, and I went to high mass, not so much, I confess, to seek for
God as for my charmer, but she was not there. After service I walked
around the town, and on my return found an officer who asked me to dinner
at the ambassador's.

Madame d'Urfe said that on the receipt of my letter she had gone
straightway to Versailles, and that with the help of Madame de Grammont
she had got me an introduction of the kind I wanted. This was good news
for me, as I desired to cut an imposing figure at Soleure. I had plenty
of money, and I knew that this magic metal glittered in the eyes of all.
M. de Chavigni had been ambassador at Venice thirty years before, and I
knew a number of anecdotes about his adventures there, and I was eager to
see what I could make out of him.

I went to his house at the time appointed, and found all his servants in
full livery, which I looked upon as a happy omen. My name was not
announced, and I remarked that when I came in both sides of the door were
opened for me by the page. A fine old man came forward to meet me, and
paying me many well-turned compliments introduced me to those present.
Then, with the delicate tact of the courtier, pretending not to recollect
my name, he drew the Duc de Choiseul's letter from his pocket, and read
aloud the paragraph in which the minister desired him to treat me with
the utmost consideration. He made me sit on an easy chair at his right
hand, and asked me questions to which I could only answer that I was
travelling for my pleasure, and that I considered the Swiss nation to be
in many respects superior to all other nations whatsoever.

Dinner was served, and his excellency set me on his right hand in a
position of equal honour to his own. We were sixteen in company, and
behind every chair stood a magnificent lackey in the ambassador's livery.
In the course of conversation I got an opportunity of telling the
ambassador that he was still spoken of at Venice with the utmost
affection.

"I shall always remember," he said, "the kindness with which the
Venetians treated me; but tell me, I beg, the names of those gentlemen
who still remember me; they must be quite old now."

This was what I was waiting for. M. de Malipiero had told me of certain
events which had happened during the regency, and M. de Bragadin had
informed me of the ambassador's amours with the celebrated Stringhetta.

His excellency's fare was perfect, but in the pleasure of conversing I
forgot that of eating. I told all my anecdotes so racily that his
features expressed the pleasure I was affording him, and when we rose
from the table he shook me by the hand, and told me he had not had so
agreeable a dinner since he had been at Soleure.

"The recollection of my Venetian gallantries," said the worthy old man,
"makes me recall many a happy moment; I feel quite young again."

He embraced me, and bade me consider myself as one of his family during
my stay at Soleure.

After dinner he talked a good deal about Venice, praising the Government,
and saying that there was not a town in the world where a man could fare
better, provided he took care to get good oil and foreign wines. About
five o'clock he asked me to come for a drive with him, getting into the
carriage first to give me the best place.

We got out at a pretty country house where ices were served to us. On our
way back he said that he had a large party every evening, and that he
hoped I would do him the honour to be present whenever it suited my
inclinations, assuring me that he would do his best to amuse me. I was
impatient to take part in the assembly, as I felt certain I should see my
charmer there. It was a vain hope, however, for I saw several ladies,
some old and ugly, some passable, but not one pretty.

Cards were produced, and I soon found myself at a table with a young lady
of fair complexion and a plain-looking woman well advanced in years, who
seemed, however, not to be destitute of wit. Though I was looed I played
on, and I lost five or six hundred fish without opening my lips. When it
came to a profit and loss account, the plain woman told me I owed three
louis.

"Three louis, madam."

"Yes, sir; we have been playing at two sous the fish. You thought,
perhaps, we were playing for farthings."

"On the contrary, I thought it was for francs, as I never play lower."
She did not answer this boast of mine, but she seemed annoyed. On
rejoining the company after this wearisome game, I proceeded to
scrutinize all the ladies present rapidly but keenly, but I could not see
her for whom I looked, and was on the point of leaving, when I happened
to notice two ladies who were looking at me attentively. I recognized
them directly. They were two of my fair one's companions, whom I had had
the honour of waiting on at Zurich. I hurried off, pretending not to
recognize them.

Next day, a gentleman in the ambassador's suite came to tell me that his
excellency was going to call on me. I told him that I would not go out
till I had the honour of receiving his master, and I conceived the idea
of questioning him concerning that which lay next to my heart. However,
he spared me the trouble, as the reader will see for himself.

I gave M. de Chavigni the best reception I could, and after we had
discussed the weather he told me, with a smile, that he had the most
ridiculous affair to broach to me, begging me to credit him when he said
that he did not believe it for a moment.

"Proceed, my lord."

"Two ladies who saw you at my house yesterday told me in confidence,
after you had gone, that I should do well to be on my guard, as you were
the waiter in an inn at Zurich where they had stayed. They added that
they had seen the other waiter by the Aar, and that in all probability
you had run away from the inn together; God alone knows why! They said,
furthermore, that you slipped away from my house yesterday as soon as you
saw them. I told them that even if you were not the bearer of a letter
from his grace the Duc de Choiseul I should have been convinced that they
were mistaken, and that they should dine with you to-day, if they would
accept my invitation. I also hinted that you might have merely disguised
yourself as a waiter in the hopes of winning some favours from them, but
they rejected the hypothesis as absurd, and said that you could carve a
capon and change a plate dexterously enough, but were only a common
waiter for all that, adding that with my permission they would compliment
you on your skill to-day.

"'Do so, by all means, ladies,' said I, 'M. Casanova and myself will be
highly amused.' And now do you mind telling me whether there be any
foundation of truth in the whole story?"

"Certainly, my lord, I will tell you all without reserve, but in
confidence, as this ridiculous report may injure the honour of one who is
dear to me, and whom I would not injure for the world."

"It is true, then? I am quite interested to hear all about it."

"It is true to a certain extent; I hope you don't take me for the real
waiter at the 'Sword.'"

"Certainly not, but I supposed you played the part of waiter?"

"Exactly. Did they tell you that they were four in company."

"Ah, I have got it! Pretty Madame was one of the party. That explains the
riddle; now I understand everything. But you were quite right in saying
that discretion was needful; she has a perfectly blameless reputation."

"Ah! I did not know that. What happened was quite innocent, but it might
be so garbled in the telling as to become prejudicial to the honour of a
lady whose beauty struck me with admiration."

I told him all the details of the case, adding that I had only come to
Soleure in the hopes of succeeding in my suit.

"If that prove an impossibility," said I, "I shall leave Soleure in three
or four days; but I will first turn the three ugly companions of my
charmer into ridicule. They might have had sense enough to guess that the
waiter's apron was only a disguise. They can only pretend to be ignorant
of the fact in the hope of getting some advantage over me, and injuring
their friend, who was ill advised to let them into the secret."

"Softly, softly, you go too fast and remind me of my own young days.
Permit me to embrace you, your story has delighted me. You shall not go
away, you shall stay here and court your charmer. To-day you can turn two
mischievous women into ridicule, but do it in an easy way. The thing is
so straightforward that M.---- will be the first to laugh at it. His wife
cannot be ignorant of your love for her, and I know enough of women to
pronounce that your disguise cannot have displeased her. She does know of
your love?"

"Undoubtedly."

He went away laughing, and at the door of his coach embraced me for the
third time.

I could not doubt that my charmer had told the whole story to her three
friends as they were returning from Einsiedel to Zurich, and this made
the part they had played all the more ill-natured; but I felt that it was
to my interest to let their malice pass for wit.

I went to the ambassador's at half-past one, and after making my bow to
him I proceeded to greet the company, and saw the two ladies. Thereupon,
with a frank and generous air, I went up to the more malicious-looking of
the two (she was lame, which may have made me think her more ill-looking)
and asked if she recognized me.

"You confess, then, that you are the waiter at the 'Sword'?"

"Well, not quite that, madam, but I confess that I was the waiter for an
hour, and that you cruelly disdained to address a single word to me,
though I was only a waiter, because I longed for the bliss of seeing you.
But I hope I shall be a little more fortunate here, and that you will
allow me to pay you my respectful homage."

"This is very wonderful! You played your part so well that the sharpest
eye would have been deceived. Now we shall see if you play your new part
as well. If you do me the honour to call on me I will give you a good
welcome."

After these complimentary speeches, the story became public property, and
the whole table was amusing itself with it, when I had the happiness of
seeing M.---- and Madame coming into the room.

"There is the good-natured waiter," said she to her husband.

The worthy man stepped forward, and politely thanked me for having done
his wife the honour of taking off her boots.

This told me that she had concealed nothing, and I was glad. Dinner was
served, M. de Chavigni made my charmer sit at his right hand, and I was
placed between my two calumniators. I was obliged to hide my game, so,
although I disliked them intensely, I made love to them, hardly raising
my eyes to glance at Madame, who looked ravishing. I did not find her
husband either as old or as jealous as I had expected. The ambassador
asked him and his wife to stay the evening to an impromptu ball, and then
said, that in order for me to be able to tell the Duc de Choiseul that I
was well amused at Soleure, he would be delighted to have a play, if
Madame would act the fair 'Ecossaise' again. She said she should be
delighted, but two more actors were wanted.

"That is all right," said the kind old gentleman, "I will play Montrose."

"And I, Murray," I remarked.

My lame friend, angry at this arrangement, which only left her the very
bad part of Lady Alton, could not help lancing a shaft at me.

"Oh! why isn't there a waiter's part in the play?" said she, "you would
play it so well."

"That is well said, but I hope you will teach me to play Murray even
better."

Next morning, I got the words of my part, and the ambassador told me that
the ball would be given in my honour. After dinner I went to my inn, and
after making an elaborate toilette I returned to the brilliant company.

The ambassador begged me to open the ball, and introduced me to the
highest born but not the most beautiful lady in the place. I then danced
with all the ladies present until the good-natured old man got me the
object of my vows as a partner in the quadrilles, which he did so easily
that no one could have made any remark. "Lord Murray," said he, "must
dance with no one but Lindane."

At the first pause I took the opportunity of saying that I had only come
to Soleure for her sake, that it was for her sake that I had disguised
myself at Zurich, and that I hoped she would permit me to pay my
addresses to her.

"I cannot invite you to my house," said she, "for certain sufficient
reasons; but if you will stay here some time we shall be able to see each
other. But I entreat you not to shew me any marked attention in public,
for there are those who will spy upon our actions, and it is not pleasant
to be talked about."

I was quite satisfied with this, and told her that I would do all in my
power to please her, and that the most prying eyes should have nothing to
fix on. I felt that the pleasure I looked forward to would be rendered
all the sweeter by a tincture of mystery.

I had proclaimed myself as a novice in the mimic art, and had entreated
my lame friend to be kind enough to instruct me. I therefore went to her
in the morning, but she could only flatter herself that hers was a
reflected light, as I had opportunities for paying my court to my charmer
in her house, and however great her vanity may have been, she must have
had some suspicions of the truth.

This woman was a widow, aged between thirty and forty years, of a
jaundiced complexion, and a piercing and malicious aspect. In her efforts
to hide the inequality of her legs, she walked with a stiff and awkward
air; and, wishing to be thought a wit, she increased her natural dullness
by a ceaseless flow of small talk. I persisted in behaving towards her
with a great air of respect, and one day she said that, having seen me in
the disguise of a waiter, she would not have thought I was a man of a
timid nature.

"In what respect do you think me timid?" said I; to which she gave me no
answer, but I knew perfectly well what she meant. I was tired of my part,
and I had determined to play it no more when we had acted L'Ecossaise.

All the best people at Soleure were present at our first performance. The
lame lady was delighted with the horror inspired by her acting; but she
might credit a great deal of it to her appearance. M. de Chavigni drew
forth the tears of the audience, his acting was said to be better than
the great Voltaire's. As for me, I remember how near I was to fainting
when, in the third scene of the fifth act, Lindane said to me,

"What! You! You dare to love me?"

She pronounced these words with such fiery scorn that all the spectators
applauded vehemently. I was almost put out of countenance, for I thought
I detected in her voice an insult to my honour. However, I collected
myself in the minute's respite which the loud applause gave me, and I
replied,---

"Yes; I adore you! How should I not?"

So pathetically and tenderly did I pronounce these words that the hall
rang again with the applause, and the encores from four hundred throats
made me repeat the words which, indeed, came from my heart.

In spite of the pleasure we had given to the audience, we judged
ourselves not perfect in our parts, and M. de Chavigni advised us to put
off our second performance for a couple of days.

"We will have a rehearsal to-morrow at my country house," said he, "and I
beg the favour of all your companies to dinner there."

However, we all made each other compliments on our acting. My lame friend
told me I had played well, but not so well as in the part of waiter,
which really suited me admirably. This sarcasm got the laugh on her side,
but I returned it by telling her that my performance was a work of art,
while her playing of Lady Alton was pure nature. M. de Chavigni told
Madame that the spectators were wrong to applaud when she expressed her
wonder at my loving her, since she had spoken the words disdainfully; and
it was impossible that Lindane could have despised Murray. The ambassador
called for me the next day in his carriage, and when we reached his
country-house we found all the actors assembled there. His excellency
addressed himself in the first place to M.----, telling him he thought
his business was as good as done, and that they would talk about it after
dinner. We sat down to table, and afterwards rehearsed the piece without
any need of the prompter's assistance.

Towards evening the ambassador told the company that he would expect them
to supper that evening at Soleure, and everyone left with the exception
of the ambassador, myself, and M.---- and Madame----. Just as we were
going I had an agreeable surprise.

"Will you come with me," said the Ambassador to M.----, "we can talk the
matter over at our ease?  M. Casanova will have the honour of keeping
your wife company in your carriage."

I gave the fair lady my hand respectfully, and she took it with an air of
indifference, but as I was helping her in she pressed my hand with all
her might. The reader can imagine how that pressure made my blood
circulate like fire in my veins.

Thus we were seated side by side, our knees pressed tenderly against each
other. Half an hour seemed like a minute, but it must not be thought that
we wasted the time. Our lips were glued together, and were not set apart
till we came within ten paces of the ambassador's house, which I could
have wished at ten leagues distance. She was the first to get down, and I
was alarmed to see the violent blush which overspread her whole face.
Such redness looked unnatural; it might betray us; our spring of
happiness would soon be dry. The watchful eye of the envious Alton would
be fixed upon us, and not in vain; her triumph would outweigh her
humiliation. I was at my wits' end.

Love and luck, which have so favoured me throughout the course of my
life, came to my aid. I had about me a small box containing hellebore. I
opened it as if by instinct, and invited her to take a small pinch. She
did so, and I followed her example; but the dose was too strong, and as
we were going up the stairs we began to sneeze, and for the next quarter
of an hour we continued sneezing. People were obliged to attribute her
high colour to the sneezing, or at least no one could give voice to any
other suppositions. When the sneezing fit was over, this woman, who was
as clever as she was pretty, said her headache was gone, but she would
take care another time not to take so strong a dose. I looked out of the
corner of my eye at the malicious widow, who said nothing but seemed deep
in thought.

This piece of good luck decided me on staying at Soleure till my love was
crowned with success, and I determined to take a country house. I shall
not have much opinion of my readers if they find themselves in my
position--rich, young, independent, full of fire, and having only
pleasure to seek for--and do not follow my example. A perfect beauty was
before me with whom I was madly in love, and who, I was sure, shared that
love. I had plenty of money, and I was my own master. I thought this a
much better plan than turning monk, and I was above caring "what people
would say." As soon as the ambassador had returned, which he always did
at an early hour on account of his advanced age, I left the company and
went to see him in his private room. In truth I felt I must give him that
confidence which he had so well deserved.

As soon as he saw me he said,--

"Well, well, did you profit by the interview I got you?"

I embraced him, and said,--

"I may hope for everything."

When I was telling him about the hellebore he was lavish in his
compliments on my presence of mind, for, as he said, such an unusual
colour would have made people think there had been some kind of a
combat--a supposition which would not have tended towards my success.
After I had told him all, I imparted my plan.

"I shall do nothing in a hurry," said I, "as I have to take care that the
lady's honour does not suffer, and I trust to time to see the
accomplishment of my wishes. I shall want a pretty country house, a good
carriage, two lackeys, a good cook, and a housekeeper. All that I leave
to your excellency, as I look upon you as my refuge and guardian angel."

"To-morrow, without fail, I will see what I can do, and I have good hopes
of doing you a considerable service and of rendering you well content
with the attractions of Soleure."

Next day our rehearsal went off admirably, and the day after the
ambassador spoke to me as follows:

"So far as I can see, what you are aiming at in this intrigue is the
satisfying of your desires without doing any harm to the lady's
reputation. I think I know the nature of your love for her well enough to
say that if she told you that your leaving Soleure was necessary to her
peace of mind you would leave her at once. You see that I have sounded
you well enough to be a competent adviser in this delicate and important
affair, to which the most famous events in the annals of diplomacy are
not to be compared."

"Your excellency does not do sufficient justice to a career which has
gained you such distinction."

"That's because I am an old man, my dear fellow, and have shaken off the
rust and dust of prejudices, and am able to see things as they really
are, and appreciate them at their true value. But let us return to your
love-affair. If you wish to keep it in the dark, you must avoid with the
greatest care any action which may awaken suspicion in the minds of
people who do not believe that anything is indifferent. The most
malicious and censorious will not be able to get anything but the merest
chance out of the interview I procured you today, and the accident of the
sneezing bout, defy the most ill-natured to draw any deductions; for an
eager lover does not begin his suit by sending the beloved one into
convulsions. Nobody can guess that your hellebore was used to conceal the
blush that your caresses occasioned, since it does not often happen that
an amorous combat leaves such traces; and how can you be expected to have
foreseen the lady's blushes, and to have provided yourself with a
specific against them?  In short, the events of to-day will not disclose
your secret. M.---- who, although he wishes to pass for a man devoid of
jealousy, is a little jealous; M.---- himself cannot have seen anything
out of the common in my asking him to return with me, as I had business
of importance with him, and he has certainly no reasons for supposing
that I should be likely to help you to intrigue with his wife.
Furthermore, the laws of politeness would have forbidden me, under any
circumstances, offering the lady the place I offered him, and as he
prides himself on his politeness he can raise no possible objection to
the arrangement which was made. To be sure I am old and you are young--a
distinction not unimportant in a husband's eyes." After this exordium,
added the good-natured ambassador, with a laugh, "an exordium which I
have delivered in the official style of a secretary of state, let us see
where we are. Two things are necessary for you to obtain your wished-for
bliss. The first thing, which concerns you more particularly, is to make
M.---- your friend, and to conceal from him that you have conceived a
passion for his wife, and here I will aid you to the best of my ability.
The second point concerns the lady's honour; all your relations with her
must appear open and above-board. Consider yourself under my protection;
you must not even take a country house before we have found out some plan
for throwing dust into the eyes of the observant. However, you need not
be anxious; I have hit upon a plan.

"You must pretend to be taken ill, but your illness must be of such a
kind that your doctor will be obliged to take your word for the symptoms.
Luckily, I know a doctor whose sole idea is to order country air for all
complaints. This physician, who is about as clever as his brethren, and
kills or cures as well as any of them, will come and feel my pulse one of
these days. You must take his advice, and for a couple of louis he will
write you a prescription with country air as the chief item. He will then
inform everybody that your case is serious, but that he will answer for
your cure."

"What is his name?"

"Doctor Herrenschwand."

"What is he doing here? I knew him at Paris; he was Madame du Rumain's
doctor."

"That is his brother. Now find out some polite complaint, which will do
you credit with the public. It will be easy enough to find a house, and I
will get you an excellent cook to make your gruel and beef-tea."

The choice of a complaint cost me some thought; I had to give it a good
deal of attention. The same evening I managed to communicate my plan to
Madame who approved of it. I begged her to think of some way of writing
to me, and she said she would.

"My husband," said she, "has a very high opinion of you. He has taken no
offence at our coming in the same carriage. But tell me, was it an
accident or design that made M. de Chavigni take my husband and leave us
together?"

"It was the result of design, dearest." She raised her beautiful eyes and
bit her lips. "Are you sorry it was so?"

"Alas! no."

In three or four days, on the day on which we were going to act
L'Ecossaise, the doctor came to dine with the ambassador and stayed till
the evening to see the play. At dessert he complimented me on my good
health, on which I took the opportunity, and told him that appearances
were deceitful, and that I should be glad to consult him the next day. No
doubt he was delighted to be deceived in his estimate of my health, and
he said he should be glad if he could be of any service. He called on me
at the hour agreed upon, and I told him such symptoms as my fancy
dictated; amongst other things, that I was subject to certain nocturnal
irritations which made me extremely weak, especially in the reins.

"Quite so, quite so; it's a troublesome thing, but we will see what can
be done. My first remedy, which you may possibly not care much for, is
for you to pass six weeks in the country, where you will not see those
objects which impress your brain, acting on the seventh pair of nerves,
and causing that lumbar discharge which no doubt leaves you in a very
depressed state."

"Yes, it certainly does."

"Quite so, quite so. My next remedy is cold bathing."

"Are the baths far from here?"

"They are wherever you like. I will write you a prescription, and the
druggist will make it up."

I thanked him, and after he had pouched the double-louis I slipped
politely into his hand, he went away assuring me that I should soon
experience an improvement in my health. By the evening the whole town
knew that I was ill and had to go into the country. M. de Chavigni said
pleasantly at dinner to the doctor, that he should have forbidden me all
feminine visitors; and my lame friend, refining on the idea, added that I
should above all be debarred access to certain portraits, of which I had
a box-full. I laughed approvingly, and begged M. de Chavigni, in the
presence of the company, to help me to find a pretty house and a good
cook, as I did not intend to take my meals alone.

I was tired of playing a wearisome part, and had left off going to see my
lame friend, but she soon reproached me for my inconstancy, telling me
that I had made a tool of her. "I know all," said this malicious woman,
"and I will be avenged."

"You cannot be avenged for nothing," said I, "for I have never done you
an injury. However, if you intend to have me assassinated, I shall apply
for police protection."

"We don't assassinate here," said she, savagely. "We are not Italians."

I was delighted to be relieved from the burden of her society, and
henceforth Madame was the sole object of my thoughts. M. de Chavigni, who
seemed to delight in serving me, made her husband believe that I was the
only person who could get the Duc de Choiseul to pardon a cousin of his
who was in the guards, and had had the misfortune to kill his man in a
duel. "This," said the kindly old gentleman, "is the best way possible of
gaining the friendship of your rival. Do you think you can manage it?"

"I am not positive of success."

"Perhaps I have gone a little too far; but I told him that by means of
your acquaintance with the Duchesse de Grammont you could do anything
with the minister."

"I must make you a true prophet; I will do all I can."

The consequence was that M.---- informed me of the facts in the
ambassador's presence, and brought me all the papers relative to the
case.

I spent the night in writing to the Duchesse de Grammont. I made my
letter as pathetic as possible, with a view to touching her heart, and
then her father's; and I then wrote to the worthy Madame d'Urfe telling
her that the well-being of the sublime order of the Rosy Cross was
concerned in the pardon of a Swiss officer, who had been obliged to leave
the kingdom on account of a duel in which the order was highly concerned.

In the morning, after resting for an hour, I went to the ambassador, and
shewed him the letter I had written to the duchess. He thought it
excellently expressed, and advised me to skew it to M.---- I found him
with his night-cap on; he was extremely grateful for the interest I took
in a matter which was so near to his heart. He told me that his wife had
not yet risen, and asked me to wait and take breakfast with her. I should
have much liked to accept the invitation, but I begged him to make my
excuses to his lady for my absence, on the pretence that I had to finish
my letters, and hand them to the courier who was just leaving. I hoped in
this way to scatter any jealousy that might be hovering in his brain, by
the slight importance I attached to a meeting with his wife.

I went to dine with M. de Chavigni, who thought my conduct had been very
politic, and said that he was certain that henceforth M.---- would be my
best friend. He then skewed me a letter from Voltaire thanking him for
playing Montrose in his Ecossaise; and another from the Marquis de
Chauvelin, who was then at Delices with the philosopher of Ferney. He
promised to come and see him after he had been to Turin, where he had
been appointed ambassador.



CHAPTER XV

My Country House--Madame Dubois--Malicious Trick Played on Me by My Lame
Enemy--My Vexation

There was a reception and a supper at the Court, as they styled the hotel
of M. de Chavigni, or rather of the ambassador of the King of France in
Switzerland. As I came in I saw my charmer sitting apart reading a
letter. I accosted her, apologizing for not having stayed to breakfast,
but she said I had done quite right, adding that if I had not chosen a
country house she hoped I would take one her husband would probably
mention to me that evening. She could not say any more, as she was called
away to a game at quadrille. For my part I did not play, but wandered
from one table to another.

At supper everybody talked to me about my health, and my approaching stay
in the country. This gave M.---- an opportunity to mention a delightful
house near the Aar; "but," he added, "it is not to be let for less than
six months."

"If I like it," I replied, "and am free to leave it when I please, I will
willingly pay the six months' rent in advance."

"There is a fine hall in it."

"All the better; I will give a ball as evidence of my gratitude to the
people of Soleure for the kind welcome I have received from them."

"Would you like to come and see it to-morrow?"

"With pleasure."

"Very good, then I will call for you at eight o'clock, if that hour will
suit you."

"I shall expect you."

When I got back to my lodging I ordered a travelling carriage and four,
and the next morning, before eight o'clock, I called for M. who was
ready, and seemed flattered at my anticipating him.

"I made my wife promise to come with us; but she is a sluggard, who
prefers her bed to the fresh air."

In less than an hour we reached our journey's end, and I found the house
a beautiful one and large enough to lodge the whole court of a prince of
the Holy Roman Empire. Besides the hall, which I thought magnificent, I
noted with great pleasure a closet arranged as a boudoir, and covered
with the most exquisite pictures. A fine garden, fountains, baths,
several well-furnished rooms, a good kitchen--in a word, everything
pleased me, and I begged M.---- to arrange for me to take up my abode
there in two days' time.

When we got back to Soleure, Madame told me how pleased she was that I
liked the house; and seizing the opportunity, I said that I hoped they
would often do me the honour of dining with me. They promised they would
do so. I drew from my pocket a packet containing a hundred louis, which I
gave M.---- to pay the rent. I then embraced him, and after imprinting a
respectful kiss on the hand of his fair mate I went to M. de Chavigni,
who approved of my having taken the house as it pleased my lady, and
asked me if it was true that I was going to give a ball.

"Yes, if I see any prospect of its being a brilliant one, and if I have
your approbation."

"You need have no doubts on that point, my dear fellow, and whatever you
can't find in the shops come to me for. Come, I see you are going to
spend a little money. It is a good plan, and overcomes many difficulties.
In the meanwhile you shall have two footmen, an excellent cook, a
housekeeper, and whatever other servants you require. The head of my
household will pay them, and you can settle with him afterwards, he is a
trustworthy man. I will come now and then and take a spoonful of soup
with you, and you shall reward me for what services I may have done you
by telling me how things are getting on. I have a great esteem for your
charming friend, her discretion is beyond her years, and the pledges of
love you will obtain of her will doubtless increase your passion and your
esteem. Is she aware that I know all?"

"She knows that we are firm friends, and she is glad of it, as she is
sure that you will be discreet."

"She may count on my discretion. She is really a delicious woman; I
should have been tempted to seduce her myself thirty years ago."

A druggist, whom the doctor had recommended to me, set out the same day
to get ready the baths which were to cure me of my imaginary complaint,
and in two days I went myself, after having given Le Duc orders to bring
my baggage on.

I was extremely surprised, on entering the apartment I was to occupy, to
see a pretty young woman who came up to me in a modest way to kiss my
hand. I stopped her doing so, and my astonished air made her blush.

"Do you belong to the household?" I said.

"The ambassador's steward has engaged me as your housekeeper."

"Pardon my surprise. Take me to my room."

She obeyed, and sitting down on the couch I begged her to sit beside me.

"That is an honour," said she, in the most polite and modest way, "I
cannot allow myself. I am only your servant."

"Very good, but when I am alone I hope you will consent to take your
meals with me, as I don't like eating by myself."

"I will do so, sir."

"Where is your room?"

"This is the one the steward assigned to me, but you have only to speak
if you wish me to sleep in another."

"Not at all; it will do very well."

Her room was just behind the recess in which my bed stood. I went in with
her and was astonished to see a great display of dresses, and in an
adjoining closet all the array of the toilette, linen in abundance, and a
good stock of shoes and embroidered slippers. Dumb with surprise I looked
at her, and was thoroughly satisfied with what I saw. Nevertheless I
determined to subject her to a close examination, as I thought her
manners too interesting and her linen too extensive for her to be a mere
servant. All at once I was struck with the idea that it might be a trick
of the ambassador's, for a fine woman, well educated, and aged
twenty-four or at the most twenty-five years, seemed to me more fitted to
be my mistress than my housekeeper. I therefore asked her if she knew the
ambassador, and what wages she was to receive. She replied that she only
knew M. de Chavigni by sight, and that the steward had promised her two
louis a month and her meals in her own room.

"Where do you come from?  What's your name?"

"I come from Lyons; I am a widow, and my name is Dubois."

"I am delighted to have you in my service. I shall see you again."

She then left me, and I could not help thinking her a very interesting
woman, as her speech was as dignified as her appearance. I went down to
the kitchen and found the cook, an honest-looking fellow, who told me his
name was Rosier. I had known his brother in the service of the French
ambassador at Venice. He told me that supper would be ready at nine
o'clock.

"I never eat by myself," said I.

"So I hear, sir; and I will serve supper accordingly."

"What are your wages?"

"Four louis a month."

I then went to see the rest of my people. I found two sharp-looking
footmen, and the first of them told me he would see I had what wine I
wanted. Then I inspected my bath, which seemed convenient. An apothecary
was preparing certain matters for my imaginary cure. Finally, I took a
walk round my garden, and before going in I went into the gate-keeper's,
where I found a numerous family, and some girls who were not to be
despised. I was delighted to hear everybody speak French, and I talked
with them some time.

When I got back to my room, I found Le Duc occupied in unpacking my
mails; and telling him to give my linen to Madame Dubois, I went into a
pretty cabinet adjoining, where there was a desk and all materials
necessary for writing. This closet had only one window facing north, but
it commanded a view capable of inspiring the finest thoughts. I was
amusing myself with the contemplation of this sublime prospect, when I
heard a knock at my door. It was my pretty housekeeper, who wore a modest
and pleasant expression, and did not in the least resemble a person who
bears a complaint.

"What can I do for you, madam?"

"I hope you will be good enough to order your man to be polite to me?"

"Certainly; how has he failed in politeness?"

"He might possibly tell you in no respect. He wanted to kiss me, and as I
refused he thought himself justified in being rather insolent."

"How?"

"By laughing at me. You will pardon me, sir, but I do not like people who
make game."

"You are right; they are sure to be either silly or malicious. Make
yourself easy; Le Duc shall understand that you are to be treated with
respect. You will please sup with me."

Le Duc came in soon after, and I told him to behave respectfully towards
Madame Dubois.

"She's a sly cat," said the rascal; "she wouldn't let me kiss her."

"I am afraid you are a bad fellow."

"Is she your servant or your mistress?"

"She might be my wife."

"Oh! well, that's different. That will do; Madame Dubois shall have all
respect, and I will try my luck somewhere else."

I had a delicious supper. I was contented with my cook, my butler, my
housekeeper, and even with my Spaniard, who waited capitally at table.

After supper I sent out Le Duc and the other servant, and as soon as I
was alone with my too lovely housekeeper, who had behaved at table like a
woman of the world, I begged her to tell me her history.

"My history, sir, is short enough, and not very interesting. I was--born
at Lyons, and my relations took me to Lausanne, as I have been told, for
I was too young at the time to remember anything about it. My father, who
was in the service of Madame d'Ermance, left me an orphan when I was
fourteen. Madame d'Ermance was fond of me, and knowing that my mother's
means were small she took me to live with her. I had attained my
seventeenth year when I entered the service of Lady Montagu as lady's
maid, and some time after I was married to Dubois, an old servant of the
house. We went to England, and three years after my marriage I lost my
husband. The climate of England affected my lungs, and I was obliged to
beg my lady to allow me to leave her service. The worthy lady saw how
weak I was, and paid the expenses of my journey and loaded me with rich
presents. I returned to my mother at Lausanne, where my health soon
returned, and I went into the service of an English lady who was very
fond of me, and would have taken me with her to Italy if she had not
conceived some suspicions about the young Duke of Rosebury, with whom she
was in love, and whom she thought in love with me. She suspected me, but
wrongfully, of being her rival in secret. She sent me away, after giving
me rich presents, and saying how sorry she was she could not keep me. I
went back to my mother, and for two years I have lived with the toil of
my hands. Four days ago M. Lebel, the ambassador's steward, asked me if I
would enter the service of an Italian gentleman as housekeeper. I agreed,
in the hope of seeing Italy, and this hope is the cause of my stupidity.
In short: here I am."

"What stupidity are you referring to?"

"The stupidity of having entered your service before I knew you."

"I like your freedom. You would not have come, then, if you had not known
me?"

"Certainly not, for no lady will ever take me after having been with
you."

"Why not? may I ask."

"Well, sir; do you think you are the kind of man to have a house-keeper
like myself without the public believing my situation to be of quite a
different nature?"

"No, you are too pretty, and I don't look like a fossil, certainly; but
after all, what matter does it make?"

"It is all very well for you to make light of it, and if I were in your
place I would do the same; but how am I, who am a woman and not in an
independent position, to set myself above the rules and regulations of
society?"

"You mean, Madame Dubois, that you would very much like to go back to
Lausanne?"

"Not exactly, as that would not be just to you."

"How so?"

"People would be sure to say that either your words or your deeds were
too free, and you might possibly pass a rather uncharitable judgment on
me."

"What judgment could I pass on you?"

"You might think I wanted to impose on you."

"That might be, as I should be very much hurt by so sudden and
uncalled-for a departure. All the same I am sorry for you, as with your
ideas you can neither go nor stay with any satisfaction. Nevertheless,
you must do one or the other."

"I have made up my mind. I shall stay, and I am almost certain I shall
not regret it."

"I am glad to hear that, but there is one point to which I wish to call
your attention."

"What is that?"

"I will tell you. Let us have no melancholy and no scruples."

"You shall not see me melancholy, I promise you; but kindly explain what
you mean by the word 'scruples.'"

"Certainly. In its ordinary acceptation, the word 'scruple' signifies a
malicious and superstitious whim, which pronounces an action which may be
innocent to be guilty."

"When a course of action seems doubtful to me, I never look upon the
worst side of it. Besides, it is my duty to look after myself and not
other people."

"I see you have read a good deal."

"Reading is my greatest luxury. Without books I should find life
unbearable."

"Have you any books?"

"A good many. Do you understand English?"

"Not a word."

"I am sorry for that, as the English books would amuse you."

"I do not care for romances."

"Nor do I. But you don't think that there are only romances in English,
do you?  I like that. Why do you take me for such a lover of the
romantic, pray?"

"I like that, too. That pretty outburst is quite to my taste, and I am
delighted to be the first to make you laugh."

"Pardon me if I laugh, but . . ."

"But me no buts, my dear; laugh away just as you like, you will find that
the best way to get over me. I really think, though, that you put your
services at too cheap a rate."

"That makes me laugh again, as it is for you to increase my wages if you
like."

"I shall take care that it is done."

I rose from table, not taken, but surprised, with this young woman, who
seemed to be getting on my blind side. She reasoned well, and in this
first interview she had made a deep impression on me. She was young,
pretty, elegant, intellectual, and of distinguished manners; I could not
guess what would be the end of our connection. I longed to speak to M.
Lebel, to thank him for getting me such a marvel, and still more, to ask
him some questions about her.

After the supper had been taken away, she came to ask if I would have my
hair put in curl papers.

"It's Le Duc's business," I answered, "but if you like, it shall be yours
for the future."

She acquitted herself like an expert.

"I see," said I, "that you are going to serve me as you served Lady
Montagu."

"Not altogether; but as you do not like melancholy, allow me to ask a
favour."

"Do so, my dear."

"Please do not ask me to give you your bath."

"Upon my honour, I did not think of doing so. It would be scandalous.
That's Le Duc's business."

"Pardon me, and allow me to ask another favour."

"Tell me everything you want."

"Allow me to have one of the door-keeper's daughters to sleep with me."

"If it had come into my head, I would have proposed it to you. Is she in
your room now?"

"No."

"Go and call her, then."

"Let us leave that till to-morrow, as if I went at this time of night it
might make people talk."

"I see you have a store of discretion, and you may be sure I will not
deprive you of any of it."

She helped me to undress, and must have found me very modest, but I must
say it was not from virtue. My heart was engaged elsewhere, and Madame
Dubois had impressed me; I was possibly duped by her, but I did not
trouble myself to think whether I was or not. I rang for Le Duc in the
morning, and on coming in he said he had not expected the honour.

"You're a rascal," I said, "get two cups of chocolate ready directly
after I have had my bath."

After I had taken my first cold bath, which I greatly enjoyed, I went to
bed again. Madame Dubois came in smiling, dressed in a style of careless
elegance.

"You look in good spirits."

"I am, because I am happy with you. I have had a good night, and there is
now in my room a girl as lovely as an angel, who is to sleep with me."

"Call her in."

She called her, and a monster of ugliness entered, who made me turn my
head away.

"You haven't given yourself a rival certainly, my dear, but if she suits
you it is all right. You shall have your breakfast with me, and I hope
you will take chocolate with me every morning."

"I shall be delighted, as I am very fond of it."

I had a pleasant afternoon. M. de Chavigni spent several hours with me.
He was pleased with everything, and above all with my fair housekeeper,
of whom Lebel had said nothing to him.

"She will be an excellent cure for your love for Madame," said he.

"There you are wrong," I answered, "she might make me fall in love with
her without any diminution of my affection for my charmer."

Next day, just as I was sitting down to table with my housekeeper, I saw
a carriage coming into the courtyard, and my detestable lame widow
getting out of it. I was terribly put out, but the rules of politeness
compelled me to go and receive her.

"I was far from anticipating that you would do me so great an honour,
madam."

"I daresay; I have come to dine with you, and to ask you to do me a
favour."

"Come in, then, dinner is just being served. I beg to introduce Madame
Dubois to you."

I turned towards my charming housekeeper, and told her that the lady
would dine with us.

Madame Dubois, in the character of mistress of the house, did the honours
admirably, and my lame friend, in spite of her pride, was very polite to
her. I did not speak a dozen words during the meal, and paid no sort of
attention to the detestable creature; but I was anxious to know what she
could want me to do for her. As soon as Madame Dubois had left the room
she told me straight out that she had come to ask me to let her have a
couple of rooms in my house for three weeks or a month at the most.

I was astonished at such a piece of impudence, and told her she asked
more than I was at liberty to give.

"You can't refuse me, as everybody knows I have come on purpose to ask
you."

"Then everybody must know that I have refused you. I want to be
alone--absolutely alone, without any kind of restriction on my liberty.
The least suspicion of company would bore me."

"I shall not bore you in any way, and you will be at perfect liberty to
ignore my presence. I shall not be offended if you don't enquire after
me, and I shall not ask after you--even if you are ill. I shall have my
meals served to me by my own servant, and I shall take care not to walk
in the garden unless I am perfectly certain you are not there. You must
allow that if you have any claims to politeness you cannot refuse me."

"If you were acquainted with the most ordinary rules of politeness,
madam, you would not persist in a request to which I have formally
declined to accede."

She did not answer, but my words had evidently produced no effect. I was
choking with rage. I strode up and down the room, and felt inclined to
send her away by force as a madwoman. However, I reflected that she had
relations in a good position whom I might offend if I treated her
roughly, and that I might make an enemy capable of exacting a terrible
revenge; and, finally, that Madame might disapprove of my using violence
to this hideous harpy....

"Well, madam," said I, "you shall have the apartment you have solicited
with so much importunity, and an hour after you come in I shall be on my
way back to Soleure."

"I accept the apartment, and I shall occupy it the day after to-morrow.
As for your threat of returning to Soleure, it is an idle one, as you
would thereby make yourself the laughing-stock of the whole town."

With this final impertinence she rose and went away, without taking any
further notice of me. I let her go without moving from my seat. I was
stupefied. I repented of having given in; such impudence was
unparalleled. I called myself a fool, and vowed I deserved to be publicly
hooted. I ought to have taken the whole thing as a jest; to have
contrived to get her out of the house on some pretext, and then to have
sent her about her business as a madwoman, calling all my servants as
witnesses.

My dear Dubois came in, and I told my tale. She was thunderstruck.

"I can hardly credit her requesting, or your granting, such a thing,"
said she, "unless you have some motives of your own."

I saw the force of her argument, and not wishing to make a confidante of
her I held my tongue, and went out to work off my bile.

I came in tired, after taking a stiff walk. I took supper with Madame
Dubois, and we sat at table till midnight. Her conversation pleased me
more and more; her mind was well-furnished, her speech elegant, and she
told her stories and cracked her jokes with charming grace. She was
devoid of prejudices, but by no means devoid of principle. Her discretion
was rather the result of system than of virtue; but if she had not a
virtuous spirit, her system would not have shielded her from the storms
of passion or the seductions of vice.

My encounter with the impudent widow had so affected me that I could not
resist going at an early hour on the following day to communicate it to
M. de Chavigni. I warned Madame Dubois that if I were not back by
dinner-time she was not to wait for me.

M. de Chavigni had been told by my enemy that she was going to pay me a
visit, but he roared with laughter on hearing the steps she had taken to
gain her ends.

"Your excellency may find it very funny," said I, "but I don't."

"So I see; but take my advice, and be the first to laugh at the
adventure. Behave as if you were unaware of her presence, and that will
be a sufficient punishment for her. People will soon say she is smitten
with you, and that you disdain her love. Go and tell the story to M.----,
and stay without ceremony to dinner. I have spoken to Lebel about your
pretty housekeeper: the worthy man had no malicious intent in sending her
to you. He happened to be going to Lausanne, and just before, I had told
him to find you a good housekeeper; thinking it over on his way, he
remembered his friend Madame Dubois, and the matter was thus arranged
without malice or pretense. She is a regular find, a perfect jewel for
you, and if you get taken with her I don't think she will allow you to
languish for long."

"I don't know, she seems to be a woman of principle."

"I shouldn't have thought you would be taken in by that sort of thing. I
will ask you both to give me a dinner to-morrow, and shall be glad to
hear her chatter."

M---- welcomed me most kindly, and congratulated me on my conquest, which
would make my country house a paradise. I joined in the jest, of course,
with the more ease that his charming wife, though I could see that she
suspected the truth, added her congratulations to those of her husband;
but I soon changed the course of their friendly mirth by telling them the
circumstances of the case. They were indignant enough then, and the
husband said that if she had really quartered herself on me in that
fashion, all I had to do was to get an injunction from the courts
forbidding her to put her foot within my doors.

"I don't want to do that," said I, "as besides publicly disgracing her I
should be skewing my own weakness, and proclaiming that I was not the
master in my own house, and that I could not prevent her establishing
herself with me."

"I think so, too," said the wife, "and I am glad you gave way to her.
That shews how polite you are, and I shall go and call on her to
congratulate her on the welcome she got, as she told me that her plans
had succeeded."

Here the matter ended, and I accepted their invitation to dine with them.
I behaved as a friend, but with that subtle politeness which takes away
all ground for suspicion; accordingly, the husband felt no alarm. My
charmer found the opportunity to tell me that I had done wisely in
yielding to the ill-timed demand of that harpy, and that as soon as M. de
Chauvelin, whom they were expecting, had gone away again, I could ask her
husband to spend a few days with me, and that she would doubtless come
too.

"Your door-keeper's wife," she added, "was my nurse. I have been kind to
her, and when necessary I can write to you by her without running any
risk."

After calling on two Italian Jesuits who were passing through Soleure,
and inviting them to dine with me on the following day, I returned home
where the good Dubois amused me till midnight by philosophical
discussions. She admired Locke; and maintained that the faculty of
thought was not a proof of the existence of spirit in us, as it was in
the power of God to endow matter with the capacity for thought; I was
unable to controvert this position. She made me laugh by saying that
there was a great difference between thinking and reasoning, and I had
the courage to say,--

"I think you would reason well if you let yourself be persuaded to sleep
with me, and you think you reason well in refusing to be so persuaded."

"Trust me, sir," said she; "there is as much difference between the
reasoning powers of men and women as there is between their physical
characteristics."

Next morning at nine o'clock we were taking our chocolate, when my enemy
arrived. I heard her carriage, but I did not take the slightest notice.
The villainous woman sent away the carriage and installed herself in her
room with her maid.

I had sent Le Duc to Soleure for my letters, so I was obliged to beg my
housekeeper to do my hair; and she did it admirably, as I told her we
should have the ambassador and the two Jesuits to dinner. I thanked her,
and kissed her for the first time on the cheek, as she would not allow me
to touch her beautiful lips. I felt that we were fast falling in love
with one another, but we continued to keep ourselves under control, a
task which was much easier for her than for me, as she was helped by that
spirit of coquetry natural to the fair sex, which often has greater power
over them than love itself.

M. de Chavigni came at two; I had consulted him before asking the
Jesuits, and had sent my carriage for them. While we were waiting for
these gentlemen we took a turn in the garden, and M. de Chavigni begged
my fair housekeeper to join us as soon as she had discharged certain
petty duties in which she was then engaged.

M. de Chavigni was one of those men who were sent by France to such
powers as she wished to cajole and to win over to her interests. M. de
l'Hopital, who knew how to gain the heart of Elizabeth Petrovna, was
another; the Duc de Nivernois, who did what he liked with the Court of
St. James's in 1762, is a third instance.

Madame Dubois came out to us in due course, and entertained us very
agreeably; and M. de Chavigni told me that he considered she had all the
qualities which would make a man happy. At dinner she enchanted him and
captivated the two Jesuits by her delicate and subtle wit. In the evening
this delightful old nobleman told me he had spent a most pleasant day,
and after asking me to dine at his house while M. de Chauvelin was there,
he left me with an effusive embrace.

M. de Chauvelin, whom I had the honour to know at Versailles, at M. de
Choiseul's, was an extremely pleasant man. He arrived at Soleure in the
course of two days, and M. de Chavigni having advised me of his presence
I hastened to pay my court to him. He remembered me, and introduced me to
his wife, whom I had not the honour of knowing. As chance placed me next
to my charmer at table, my spirits rose, and my numerous jests and
stories put everybody in a good temper. On M. de Chauvelin remarking that
he knew some pleasant histories of which I was the hero, M. de Chavigni
told him that he did not know the best of all, and recounted to him my
adventure at Zurich. M. de Chauvelin then told Madame that to serve her
he would willingly transform himself into a footman, on which
M.---- joined in and said that I had a finer taste for beauty, as she, for
whose sake I had made myself into a waiter, was at that moment a guest of
mine in my country house.

"Ah, indeed!" said M. de Chauvelin, "then we must come and see your
quarters, M. Casanova."

I was going to reply, when M. de Chavigni anticipated me by saying,

"Yes, indeed! and I hope he will lend me his beautiful hall to give you a
ball next Sunday."

In this manner the good-natured courtier prevented me from promising to
give a ball myself, and relieved me of my foolish boast, which I should
have been wrong in carrying out, as it would have been an encroachment on
his privilege as ambassador of entertaining these distinguished strangers
during the five or six days they might stay at Soleure. Besides, if I had
kept to my word, it would have involved me in a considerable expense,
which would not have helped me in my suit.

The conversation turning on Voltaire, the Ecossaise was mentioned, and
the acting of my neighbour was highly commended in words that made her
blush and shine in her beauty like a star, whereat her praises were
renewed.

After dinner the ambassador invited us to his ball on the day after the
morrow, and I went home more deeply in love than ever with my dear
charmer, whom Heaven had designed to inflict on me the greatest grief I
have had in my life, as the reader shall see.

I found that my housekeeper had gone to bed, and I was glad of it, for
the presence of my fair one had excited my passions to such an extent
that my reason might have failed to keep me within the bounds of respect.
Next morning she found me sad, and rallied me in such a way that I soon
recovered my spirits. While we were taking our chocolate the lame
creature's maid brought me a note, and I sent her away, telling her that
I would send the answer by my own servant. This curious letter ran as
follows:

"The ambassador has asked me to his ball on Sunday. I answered that I was
not well, but if I found myself better in the evening I would come. I
think that as I am staying in your house I ought to be introduced by you
or stay away altogether. So if you do not wish to oblige me by taking me,
I must beg of you to tell the ambassador that I am ill. Pardon me if I
have taken the liberty of infringing our agreement in this peculiar
instance, but it is a question of keeping up some sort of appearance in
public."

"Not so," I cried, mad with rage; and taking my pen I wrote thus:

"I think your idea is a beautiful one, madam. You will have to be ill, as
I mean to keep to the conditions you made yourself, and to enjoy full
liberty in all things, and I shall therefore deny myself the honour of
taking you to the ball which the ambassador is to give in my hall."

I read her insolent letter and my reply to my housekeeper, who thought
the answer just what she deserved. I then sent it to her.

I passed the next two days quietly and agreeably without going out or
seeing any visitors, but the society of Madame Dubois was all-sufficient
for me. Early on Sunday morning the ambassador's people came to make the
necessary preparations for the ball and supper. Lebel came to pay me his
respects while I was at table. I made him sit down, while I thanked him
for procuring me a housekeeper who was all perfection.

Lebel was a fine man, middle-aged, witty, and an excellent steward,
though perfectly honest.

"Which of you two," said he to me, "is the most taken in?"

"We are equally pleased with each other," answered my charming
housekeeper.

To my great delight the first pair to appear were M.---- and Madame. She
was extremely polite to Madame Dubois, and did not shew the slightest
astonishment when I introduced her as my housekeeper. She told me that I
must take her to see her lame friend, and to my great disgust I had to
go. We were received with a show of great friendship, and she went out
with us into the garden, taking M.----'s arm, while his wife leant
amorously on mine.

When we had made a few turns of the garden, Madame begged me to take her
to her nurse. As her husband was close by, I said,--

"Who is your nurse?"

"Your door-keeper's wife," said her husband, "we will wait for you in
this lady's apartment."

"Tell me, sweetheart," said she on the way, "does not your pretty
housekeeper sleep with you?"

"I swear she does not; I can only love you."

"I would like to believe you, but I find it hard to do so; however, if
you are speaking the truth it is wrong of you to keep her in the house,
as nobody will believe in your innocence."

"It is enough for me that you believe in it. I admire her, and at any
other time I expect we could not sleep under the same roof without
sleeping in the same bed; but now that you rule my heart I am not capable
of a passion for her."

"I am delighted to hear it; but I think she is very pretty."

We went in to see her nurse, who called her "my child," and kissed her
again and again, and then left us alone to prepare some lemonade for us.
As soon as we found ourselves alone our mouths were glued together, and
my hands touched a thousand beauties, covered only by a dress of light
sarcenet; but I could not enjoy her charms without this cruel robe, which
was all the worse because it did not conceal the loveliness beneath it. I
am sure that the good nurse would have kept us waiting a long time if she
had known how we longed to be left alone for a few moments longer; but,
alas! the celerity with which she made those two glasses of lemonade was
unexampled.

"It was made beforehand, was it?" said I, when I saw her coming in.

"Not at all, sir; but I am a quick hand."

"You are, indeed."

These words made my charmer go off into a peal of laughter, which she
accompanied with a significant glance in my direction. As we were going
away she said that as things seemed to be against us we must wait till
her husband came to spend a few days with me.

My terrible enemy gave us some sweets, which she praised very highly, and
above all some quince marmalade, which she insisted on our testing. We
begged to be excused, and Madame pressed my foot with hers. When we had
got away she told me I had been very wise not to touch anything, as the
widow was suspected of having poisoned her husband.

The ball, the supper, the refreshments, and the guests were all of the
most exquisite and agreeable kind. I only danced one minuet with Madame
de Chauvelin, nearly all my evening being taken up with talking to her
husband. I made him a present of my translation of his poem on the seven
deadly sins, which he received with much pleasure.

"I intend," said I, "to pay you a visit at Turin."

"Are you going to bring your housekeeper with you?"

"No."

"You are wrong, for she is a delightful person."

Everybody spoke of my dear Dubois in the same way. She had a perfect
knowledge of the rules of good breeding, and she knew how to make herself
respected without being guilty of the slightest presumption. In vain she
was urged to dance, and she afterwards told me that if she had yielded
she would have become an object of hatred to all the ladies. She knew
that she could dance exquisitely.

M. de Chauvelin went away in two days, and towards the end of the week I
heard from Madame d'Urfe, who told me that she had spent two days at
Versailles in furtherance of my desires. She sent me a copy of the
letters of pardon signed by the king in favour of the relation of M.----,
assuring me that the original had been sent to the colonel of his
regiment, where he would be reinstated in the rank which he held before
the duel.

I had my horses put into my carriage, and hastened to carry this good
news to M. de Chavigni. I was wild with joy, and I did not conceal it
from the ambassador, who congratulated me, since M.---- having obtained by
me, without the expenditure of a penny, a favour which would have cost
him dear if he had succeeded in purchasing it, would henceforth be only
too happy to treat me with the utmost confidence.

To make the matter still more important, I begged my noble friend to
announce the pardon to M.---- in person, and he immediately wrote a note
to that gentleman requesting his presence.

As soon as he made his appearance, the ambassador handed him the copy of
the pardon, telling him that he owed it all to me. The worthy man was in
an ecstasy, and asked what he owed me.

"Nothing, sir, unless you will give me your friendship, which I value
more than all the gold in the world; and if you would give me a proof of
your friendship, come and spend a few days with me; I am positively dying
of loneliness. The matter I have done for you is a mere trifle; you see
how quickly it has been arranged."

"A mere trifle! I have devoted a year's labour to it; I have moved heaven
and earth without succeeding, and in a fortnight you have accomplished
it. Sir, you may dispose of my life."

"Embrace me, and come and see me. I am the happiest of men when I am
enabled to serve persons of your merit."

"I will go and tell the good news to my wife, who will love you as well
as I do."

"Yes, do so," said the ambassador, "and bring her to dinner here
to-morrow."

When we were alone together, the Marquis de Chavigni, an old courtier and
a wit, began to make some very philosophical reflections on the state of
a court where nothing can be said to be easy or difficult per se, as the
one at a moment's notice may become the other; a court where justice
often pleads in vain, while interest or even importunity get a ready
hearing. He had known Madame d'Urfe, had even paid his court to her at
the period when she was secretly beloved by the regent. He it was who had
given her the name of Egeria, because she said she had a genius who
directed her and passed the nights with her when she slept by herself.
The ambassador then spoke of M.----, who had undoubtedly become a very
great friend of mine.

"The only way to blind a jealous husband," said he, "is to make him your
friend, for friendship will rarely admit jealousy."

The next day at dinner, at the ambassador's, Madame gave me a thousand
proofs of grateful friendship, which my heart interpreted as pledges of
love. The husband and wife promised to pay me a three days' visit in the
following week at my country house.

They kept their word without giving me any further warning, but I was not
taken by surprise as I had made all preparations for their reception.

My heart leapt with joy on seeing my charmer getting down from the
carriage, but my joy was not unalloyed, as the husband told me that they
must absolutely return on the fourth day, and the wife insisted on the
horrible widow being present at all our conversation.

I took my guests to the suite of rooms I had prepared for them, and which
I judged most suitable for my designs. It was on the ground floor,
opposite to my room. The bedroom had a recess with two beds, separated by
a partition through which one passed by a door. I had the key to all the
doors, and the maid would sleep in a closet beyond the ante-chamber.

In obedience to my divinity's commands we went and called on the widow,
who gave us a cordial welcome; but under the pretext of leaving us in
freedom refused to be of our company during the three days. However, she
gave in when I told her that our agreement was only in force when I was
alone.

My dear Dubois, with her knowledge of the rules of society, did not need
a hint to have her supper in her room, and we had an exquisite meal as I
had given orders that the fare should be of the best. After supper I took
my guests to their apartment, and felt obliged to do the same by the
widow. She wanted me to assist at her toilet, but I excused myself with a
bow. She said, maliciously, that after all the pains I had taken I
deserved to be successful. I gave her no answer.

Next morning, as we were walking in the garden, I warned my charmer that
I had all the keys of the house, and that I could introduce myself into
her room at any moment.

"I am waiting," said she, "for my husband's embraces, which he has
prefaced with caresses, as is usual with him. We must therefore wait till
the night after next, which will take away all risk, as I have never
known him to embrace me for two nights in succession."

About noon we had a visit from M. de Chavigni, who came to ask for
dinner, and made a great to-do when he heard that my housekeeper dined in
her room. The ladies said he was quite right, so we all went and made her
sit down at table with us. She must have been flattered, and the incident
evidently increased her good humour, as she amused us by her wit and her
piquant stories about Lady Montagu. When we had risen from table Madame
said to me,--

"You really must be in love with that young woman; she is ravishing."

"If I could pass two hours in your company to-night, I would prove to you
that I am yours alone."

"It is still out of the question, as my husband has ascertained that the
moon changes to-day."

"He has to ask leave of the moon, has he, before discharging so sweet a
duty?"

"Exactly. According to his system of astrology, it is the only way to
keep his health and to have the son that Heaven wills to grant him, and
indeed without aid from above it is hardly likely that his wishes will be
accomplished."

"I hope to be the instrument of Heaven," said I, laughing.

"I only hope you may."

Thus I was obliged to wait. Next morning, as we were walking in the
garden, she said to me,--

"The sacrifice to the moon has been performed, and to make sure I will
cause him to renew his caresses tonight as soon as we go to bed; and
after that he is certain to sleep soundly. You can come at an hour after
midnight; love will await you."

Certain of my bliss, I gave myself up to the joy that such a certainty
kindles in a fiery heart. It was the only night remaining, as M.---- had
decided that on the next day they would return to Soleure.

After supper I took the ladies to their apartments, and on returning told
my housekeeper that I had a good deal of writing to do, and that she
should go to bed.

Just before one o'clock I left my room, and the night being a dark one I
had to feel my way half round my house, and to my surprise found the door
open; but I did not pay any attention to this circumstance. I opened the
door of the second ante-chamber, and the moment I shut it again a hand
seized mine, whilst another closed my lips. I only heard a whispered
"hush!" which bade me silent. A sofa was at hand; we made it our altar of
sacrifice, and in a moment I was within the temple of love. It was summer
time and I had only two hours before me, so I did not lose a moment, and
thinking I held between my arms the woman I had so long sighed for I
renewed again and again the pledges of my ardent love. In the fulness of
my bliss I thought her not awaiting me in her bed an admirable idea, as
the noise of our kisses and the liveliness of our motions might have
awakened the troublesome husband. Her tender ecstasies equalled mine, and
increased my bliss by making me believe (oh, fatal error!) that of all my
conquests this was the one of which I had most reason to boast.

To my great grief the clock warned me that it was time for me to be gone.
I covered her with the tenderest kisses, and returning to my room, in the
greatest gladness, I resigned myself to sleep.

I was roused at nine o'clock by M.----, who seemed in a happy frame of
mind, and shewed me a letter he had just received, in which his relative
thanked me for restoring him to his regiment. In this letter, which was
dictated by gratitude, he spoke of me as if I had been a divinity.

"I am delighted," I said, "to have been of service to you."

"And I," said he, "am equally pleased to assure you of my gratitude. Come
and breakfast with us, my wife is still at her toilette. Come along."

I rose hastily, and just as I was leaving the room I saw the dreadful
widow, who seemed full of glee, and said,--

"I thank you, sir; I thank you with all my heart. I beg to leave you at
liberty again; I am going back to Soleure."

"Wait for a quarter of an hour, we are going to breakfast with Madame."

"I can't stop a moment, I have just wished her good day, and now I must
be gone. Farewell, and remember me."

"Farewell, madam."

She had hardly gone before M.---- asked me if the woman was beside
herself.

"One might think so, certainly," I replied, "for she has received nothing
but politeness at my hands, and I think she might have waited to go back
with you in the evening."

We went to breakfast and to discuss this abrupt leave-taking, and
afterwards we took a turn in the garden where we found Madame Dubois.
M.---- took possession of her; and as I thought his wife looking rather
downcast I asked her if she had not slept well.

"I did not go to sleep till four o'clock this morning," she replied,
"after vainly sitting up in bed waiting for you till that time. What
unforeseen accident prevented your coming?"

I could not answer her question. I was petrified. I looked at her fixedly
without replying; I could not shake off my astonishment. At last a
dreadful suspicion came into my head that I had held within my arms for
two hours the horrible monster whom I had foolishly received in my house.
I was seized with a terrible tremor, which obliged me to go and take
shelter behind the arbour and hide my emotion. I felt as though I should
swoon away. I should certainly have fallen if I had not rested my head
against a tree.

My first idea had been a fearful thought, which I hastened to repel, that
Madame, having enjoyed me, wished to deny all knowledge of the fact--a
device which is in the power of any woman who gives up her person in the
dark to adopt, as it is impossible to convict her of lying. However, I
knew the divine creature I had thought I possessed too well to believe
her capable of such base deceit. I felt that she would have been lacking
in delicacy, if she had said she had waited for me in vain by way of a
jest; as in such a case as this the least doubt is a degradation. I was
forced, then, to the conclusion that she had been supplanted by the
infernal widow. How had she managed it?  How had she ascertained our
arrangements?  I could not imagine, and I bewildered myself with painful
surmises. Reason only comes to the aid of the mind when the confusion
produced by painful thoughts has almost vanished. I concluded, then, that
I had spent two hours with this abominable monster; and what increased my
anguish, and made me loathe and despise myself still more, was that I
could not help confessing that I had been perfectly happy. It was an
unpardonable mistake, as the two women differed as much as white does
from black, and though the darkness forbade my seeing, and the silence my
hearing, my sense of touch should have enlightened me--after the first
set-to, at all events, but my imagination was in a state of ecstasy. I
cursed love, my nature, and above all the inconceivable weakness which
had allowed me to receive into my house the serpent that had deprived me
of an angel, and made me hate myself at the thought of having defiled
myself with her. I resolved to die, after having torn to pieces with my
own hands the monster who had made me so unhappy.

While I was strengthening myself in this resolution M.---- came up to me
and asked me kindly if I were ill; he was alarmed to see me pale and
covered with drops of sweat. "My wife," said the worthy man, "is uneasy
about you, and sent me to look after you." I told him I had to leave her
on account of a sudden dizziness, but that I began to feel better. "Let
us rejoin her." Madame Dubois brought me a flask of strong waters, saying
pleasantly that she was sure it was only the sudden departure of the
widow that had put me out.

We continued our walk, and when we were far enough from the husband, who
was with my housekeeper, I said I had been overcome by what she had said,
but that it had doubtless been spoken jestingly.

"I was not jesting at all," said she, with a sigh, "tell me what
prevented your coming."

Again I was struck dumb. I could not make up my mind to tell her the
story, and I did not know what to say to justify myself. I was silent and
confused when my housekeeper's little servant came up and gave me a
letter which the wretched widow had sent her by an express. She had
opened it, and found an enclosure addressed to me inside. I put it in my
pocket, saying I would read it at my leisure. On Madame saying in joke
that it was a love-letter, I could not laugh, and made no answer. The
servant came to tell us that dinner was served, but I could touch
nothing. My abstinence was put down to my being unwell.

I longed to read the letter, but I wished to be alone to do so, and that
was a difficult matter to contrive.

Wishing to avoid the game of piquet which formed our usual afternoon's
amusement, I took a cup of coffee, and said that I thought the fresh air
would do me good. Madame seconded me, and guessing what I wanted she
asked me to walk up and down with her in a sheltered alley in the garden.
I offered her my arm, her husband offered his to my housekeeper, and we
went out.

As soon as my mistress saw that we were free from observation, she spoke
as follows,--

"I am sure that you spent the night with that malicious woman, and I am
afraid of being compromised in consequence. Tell me everything; confide
in me without reserve; 'tis my first intrigue, and if it is to serve as a
lesson you should conceal nothing from me. I am sure you loved me once,
tell me that you have not become my enemy."

"Good heavens! what are you saying? I your enemy!"

"Then tell me all, and before you read that wretched creature's letter. I
adjure you in the name of love to hide nothing from me."

"Well, divine creature, I will do as you bid me. I came to your apartment
at one o'clock, and as soon as I was in the second ante-chamber, I was
taken by the arm, and a hand was placed upon my lips to impose silence; I
thought I held you in my arms, and I laid you gently on the sofa. You
must remember that I felt absolutely certain it was you; indeed, I can
scarcely doubt it even now. I then passed with you, without a word being
spoken, two of the most delicious hours I have ever experienced. Cursed
hours! of which the remembrance will torment me for the remainder of my
days. I left you at a quarter past three. The rest is known to you."

"Who can have told the monster that you were going to visit me at that
hour?"

"I can't make out, and that perplexes me."

"You must confess that I am the most to be pitied of us three, and
perhaps, alas! the only one who may have a just title to the name
'wretched.'"

"If you love me, in the name of Heaven do not say that; I have resolved
to stab her, and to kill myself after having inflicted on her that
punishment she so well deserves."

"Have you considered that the publicity of such an action would render me
the most unfortunate of women?  Let us be more moderate, sweetheart; you
are not to blame for what has happened, and if possible I love you all
the more. Give me the letter she has written to you. I will go away from
you to read it, and you can read it afterwards, as if we were seen
reading it together we should have to explain matters."

"Here it is."

I then rejoined her husband, whom my housekeeper was sending into fits of
laughter. The conversation I had just had had calmed me a little, and the
trustful way in which she had asked for the letter had done me good. I
was in a fever to know the contents, and yet I dreaded to read it, as it
could only increase my rage and I was afraid of the results.

Madame rejoined us, and after we had separated again she gave me the
letter, telling me to keep it till I was alone. She asked me to give her
my word of honour to do nothing without consulting her, and to
communicate all my designs to her by means of her nurse.

"We need not fear the harpy saying anything about it," she remarked, "as
she would first have to proclaim her own prostitution, and as for us,
concealment is the best plan. And I would have you note that the horrible
creature gives you a piece of advice you would do well to follow."

What completely tore my heart asunder during this interview was to see
great tears--tears of love and grief--falling from her beautiful eyes;
though to moderate my anguish she forced a smile. I knew too well the
importance she attached to her fair fame not to guess that she was
tormented with the idea that the terrible widow knew of the understanding
between us, and the thought added fresh poignancy to my sorrow.

This amiable pair left me at seven in the evening, and I thanked the
husband in such a manner that he could not doubt my sincerity, and, in
truth, I said no more than I felt. There is no reason why the love one
feels for a woman should hinder one from being the true friend of her
husband--if she have a husband. The contrary view is a hateful prejudice,
repugnant both to nature and to philosophy. After I had embraced him I
was about to kiss the hand of his charming wife, but he begged me to
embrace her too, which I did respectfully but feelingly.

I was impatient to read the terrible letter, and as soon as they were
gone I shut myself up in my room to prevent any interruptions. The
epistle was as follows:

"I leave your house, sir, well enough pleased, not that I have spent a
couple of hours with you, for you are no better than any other man, but
that I have revenged myself on the many open marks of contempt you have
given me; for your private scorn I care little, and I willingly forgive
you. I have avenged myself by unmasking your designs and the hypocrisy of
your pretty prude, who will no longer be able to treat me with that
irritating air of superiority which she, affecting a virtue which she
does not possess, has displayed towards me. I have avenged myself in the
fact that she must have been waiting for you all the night, and I would
have given worlds to have heard the amusing conversation you must have
had when she found out that I had taken for vengeance's sake, and not for
love, the enjoyment which was meant for her. I have avenged myself
because you can no longer pretend to think her a marvel of beauty, as
having mistaken me for her, the difference between us must needs be
slight; but I have done you a service, too, as the thought of what has
happened should cure you of your passion. You will no longer adore her
before all other women who are just as good as she. Thus I have disabused
you, and you ought to feel grateful to me; but I dispense you from all
gratitude, and do not care if you choose to hate me, provided your hatred
leaves me in peace; but if I find your conduct objectionable in the
future, I warn you that I will tell all, since I do not care for my own
fame as I am a widow and mistress of my own actions. I need no man's
favour, and care not what men may say of me. Your mistress, on the other
hand, is in quite a different position.

"And here I will give you a piece of advice, which should convince you of
my generosity. For the last ten years I have been troubled with a little
ailment which has resisted all attempts at treatment. You exerted
yourself to such an extent to prove how well you loved me that you must
have caught the complaint. I advise you, then, to put yourself under
treatment at once to weaken the force of the virus; but above all do not
communicate it to your mistress, who might chance to hand it on to her
husband and possibly to others, which would make a wretched woman of her,
to my grief and sorrow, since she has never done me any harm. I felt
certain that you two would deceive the worthy husband, and I wished to
have proof; thus I made you take me in, and the position of the apartment
you gave them was enough to remove all doubts; still I wanted to have
proof positive. I had no need of any help to arrive at my ends, and I
found it a pleasant joke to keep you in the dark. After passing two
nights on the sofa all for nothing, I resolved on passing the third night
there, and my perseverance was crowned with success. No one saw me, and
my maid even is ignorant of my nocturnal wanderings, though in any case
she is accustomed to observe silence. You are, then, at perfect liberty
to bury the story in oblivion, and I advise you to do so.

"If you want a doctor, tell him to keep his counsel, for people at
Soleure know of my little indisposition, and they might say you caught it
from me, and this would do us both harm."

Her impudence struck me so gigantic in its dimensions that I almost
laughed. I was perfectly aware that after the way I had treated her she
must hate me, but I should not have thought she would have carried her
perverse hatred so far. She had communicated to me an infectious disease,
though I did not so far feel any symptoms; however, they would no doubt
appear, and I sadly thought I should have to go away to be cured, to
avoid the gossip of malicious wits. I gave myself up to reflection, and
after two hours' thought I wisely resolved to hold my tongue, but to be
revenged when the opportunity presented itself.

I had eaten nothing at dinner, and needed a good supper to make me sleep.
I sat down to table with my housekeeper, but, like a man ashamed of
himself, I dared not look her in the face.



CHAPTER XVI

Continuation of the Preceding Chapter--I Leave Soleure

When the servants had gone away and left us alone, it would have looked
strange if we had remained as dumb as two posts; but in my state of mind
I did not feel myself capable of breaking the silence. My dear Dubois,
who began to love me because I made her happy, felt my melancholy react
on herself, and tried to make me talk.

"Your sadness," said she, "is not like you; it frightens me. You may
console yourself by telling me of your troubles, but do not imagine that
my curiosity springs from any unworthy motive, I only want to be of
service to you. You may rely on my being perfectly discreet; and to
encourage you to speak freely, and to give you that trust in me which I
think I deserve, I will tell you what I know and what I have learnt about
yourself. My knowledge has not been obtained by any unworthy stratagems,
or by a curiosity in affairs which do not concern me."

"I am pleased with what you say, my dear housekeeper. I see you are my
friend, and I am grateful to you. Tell me all you know about the matter
which is now troubling me, and conceal nothing."

"Very good. You are the lover and the beloved of Madame----. The widow
whom you have treated badly has played you some trick which has involved
you with your mistress, and then the wretched woman has 477 left your
house with the most unpardonable rudeness this tortures you. You fear
some disastrous consequences from which you cannot escape, your heart and
mind are at war, and there is a struggle in your breast between passion
and sentiment. Perhaps I am wrong, but yesterday you seemed to me happy
and to-day miserable. I pity you, because you have inspired me with the
tenderest feelings of friendship. I did my best to-day to converse with
the husband that you might be free to talk to the wife, who seems to me
well worthy of your love."

"All that you have said is true. Your friendship is dear to me, and I
have a high opinion of your intellectual powers. The widow is a monster
who has made me wretched in return for my contempt, and I cannot revenge
myself on her. Honour will not allow me to tell you any more, and indeed
it would be impossible for you or any one else to alleviate the grief
that overwhelms me. It may possibly be my death, but in the mean time, my
dear Dubois, I entreat you to continue your friendship towards me, and to
treat me with entire candour. I shall always attend to what you say, and
thus you will be of the greatest service to me. I shall not be
ungrateful."

I spent a weary night as I had expected, for anger, the mother of
vengeance, always made me sleepless, while sudden happiness had sometimes
the same effect.

I rang for Le Duc early in the morning, but, instead of him, Madame
Dubois's ugly little attendant came, and told me that my man was ill, and
that the housekeeper would bring me my chocolate. She came in directly
after, and I had no sooner swallowed the chocolate than I was seized with
a violent attack of sickness, the effect of anger, which at its height
may kill the man who cannot satisfy it. My concentrated rage called for
vengeance on the dreadful widow, the chocolate came on the top of the
anger, and if it had not been rejected I should have been killed; as it
was I was quite exhausted. Looking at my housekeeper I saw she was in
tears, and asked her why she wept.

"Good heavens! Do you think I have a heart of stone?"

"Calm yourself; I see you pity me. Leave me, and I hope I shall be able
to get some sleep."

I went to sleep soon after, and I did not wake till I had slept for seven
hours. I felt restored to life. I rang the bell, my housekeeper came in,
and told me the surgeon of the place had called. She looked very
melancholy, but on seeing my more cheerful aspect I saw gladness
reappearing on her pretty face.

"We will dine together, dearest," said I, "but tell the surgeon to come
in. I want to know what he has to say to me."

The worthy man entered, and after looking carefully round the room to see
that we were alone, he came up to me, and whispered in my ear that Le Duc
had a malady of a shameful character.

I burst out laughing, as I had been expecting some terrible news.

"My dear doctor," said I, "do all you can to cure him, and I will pay you
handsomely, but next time don't look so doleful when you have anything to
tell me. How old are you?"

"Nearly eighty."

"May God help you!"

I was all the more ready to sympathize with my poor Spaniard, as I
expected to find myself in a like case.

What a fellow-feeling there is between the unfortunate! The poor man will
seek in vain for true compassion at the rich man's doors; what he
receives is a sacrifice to ostentation and not true benevolence; and the
man in sorrow should not look for pity from one to whom sorrow is
unknown, if there be such a person on the earth.

My housekeeper came in to dress me, and asked me what had been the
doctor's business.

"He must have said something amusing to make you laugh."

"Yes, and I should like to tell you what it was; but before I do so I
must ask you if you know what the venereal disease is?"

"Yes, I do; Lady Montagu's footman died of it while I was with her."

"Very good, but you should pretend not to know what it is, and imitate
other ladies who assume an ignorance which well becomes them. Poor Le Duc
has got this disease."

"Poor fellow, I am sorry for him! Were you laughing at that?"

"No; it was the air of mystery assumed by the old doctor which amused
me."

"I too have a confidence to make, and when you have heard it you must
either forgive me or send me away directly."

"Here is another bother. What the devil can you have done?  Quick! tell
me."

"Sir, I have robbed you!"

"What robbed me?  When?  How?  Can you return me what you have taken?  I
should not have thought you capable of such a thing. I never forgive a
robber or a liar."

"You are too hasty, sir. I am sure you will forgive me, as I robbed you
only half an hour ago, and I am now going to return to you the theft."

"You are a singular woman, my dear. Come, I will vouchsafe full
forgiveness, but restore immediately what you have taken."

"This is what I stole."

"What! that monster's letter?  Did you read it?"

"Yes, of course, for otherwise I should not have committed a theft,
should I?"

"You have robbed me my secret, then, and that is a thing you cannot give
me back. You have done very wrong."

"I confess I have. My theft is all the greater in that I cannot make
restoration. Nevertheless, I promise never to speak a word of it all my
life, and that ought to gain me my pardon. Give it me quickly."

"You are a little witch. I forgive you, and here is the pledge of my
mercy." So saying I fastened my lips on hers.

"I don't doubt the validity of your pardon; you have signed with a double
and a triple seal."

"Yes; but for the future do not read, or so much as touch, any of my
papers, as I am the depositary of secrets of which I am not free to
dispose."

"Very good; but what shall I do when I find papers on the ground, as that
letter was?"

"You must pick them up, but not read them."

"I promise to do so."

"Very well, my dear; but you must forget the horrors you have read."

"Listen to me. Allow me to remember what I have read; perhaps you may be
the gainer. Let us talk over this affair, which has made my hair stand on
end. This monster of immodesty has given you two mortal blows--one in the
body and one in the soul; but that is not the worst, as she thinks that
Madame's honour is in her keeping. This, in my thinking, is the worst of
all; for, in spite of the affront, your mutual love might continue, and
the disease which the infamous creature has communicated to you would
pass off; but if the malicious woman carries out her threats, the honour
of your charming mistress is gone beyond return. Do not try to make me
forget the matter, then, but let us talk it over and see what can be
done."

I thought I was dreaming when I heard a young woman in her position
reasoning with more acuteness than Minerva displays in her colloquies
with Telemachus. She had captured not only my esteem but my respect.

"Yes, my dear," I answered, "let us think over some plan for delivering a
woman who deserves the respect of all good men from this imminent danger;
and the very thought that we have some chance of success makes me
indebted to you. Let us think of it and talk of it from noon to night.
Think kindly of Madame----, pardon her first slip, protect her honour,
and have pity on my distress. From henceforth call me no more your master
but your friend. I will be your friend till death; I swear it to you.
What you say is full of wisdom; my heart is yours. Embrace me."

"No, no, that is not necessary; we are young people, and we might perhaps
allow ourselves to go astray. I only wish for your friendship; but I do
not want you to give it to me for nothing. I wish to deserve it by giving
you solid proofs of my friendship for you. In the meanwhile I will tell
them to serve dinner, and I hope that after you have eaten something you
will be quite well."

I was astonished at her sagacity. It might all be calculated artifice,
and her aim might be to seduce me, but I did not trouble myself about
that. I found myself almost in love with her, and like to be the dupe of
her principles, which would have made themselves felt, even if she had
openly shared my love. I decided that I would add no fuel to my flames,
and felt certain that they would go out of their own accord. By leaving
my love thus desolate it would die of exhaustion. I argued like a fool. I
forgot that it is not possible to stop at friendship with a pretty woman
whom one sees constantly, and especially when one suspects her of being
in love herself. At its height friendship becomes love, and the
palliative one is forced to apply to soothe it for a moment only
increases its intensity. Such was the experience of Anacreon with
Smerdis, and Cleobulus with Badyllus. A Platonist who pretends that one
is able to live with a young woman of whom one is fond, without becoming
more than her friend, is a visionary who knows not what he says. My
housekeeper was too young, too pretty, and above all too pleasant, she
had too keen a wit, for me not to be captivated by all these qualities
conjoined; I was bound to become her lover.

We dined quietly together without saying anything about the affair we had
at heart, for nothing is more imprudent or more dangerous than to speak
in the presence of servants, who out of maliciousness or ignorance put
the worst construction on what they hear; add or diminish, and think
themselves privileged to divulge their master's secrets, especially as
they know them without having been entrusted with them.

As soon as we were alone, my dear Dubois asked me if I had sufficient
proof of Le Duc's fidelity.

"Well, my dear, he is a rascal and a profligate, full of impudence,
sharp-witted, ignorant, a fearful liar, and nobody but myself has any
power over him. However, he has one good quality, and that is blind
obedience to my orders. He defies the stick, and he would defy the
gallows if it were far enough off. When I have to ford a river on my
travels, he strips off his clothes without my telling him, and jumps in
to see if I can across in safety."

"That will do; he is just what we want under the circumstances. I will
begin by assuring you, my dear friend, as you will have me style you
thus, that Madame's honour is perfectly safe. Follow my advice, and if
the detestable widow does not take care she will be the only person put
to shame. But we want Le Duc; without him we can do nothing. Above all we
must find out how he contracted his disease, as several circumstances
might throw obstacles in the way of my design. Go to him at once and find
out all particulars, and if he has told any of the servants what is the
matter with him. When you have heard what he has to say, warn him to keep
the matter quiet."

I made no objection, and without endeavouring to penetrate her design I
went to Le Duc. I found him lying on his bed by himself. I sat down
beside him with a smile on my face, and promised to have him cured if he
would tell me all the circumstances of the case.

"With all my heart, sir, the matter happened like this. The day you sent
me to Soleure to get your letters, I got down at a roadside dairy to get
a glass of milk. It was served to me by a young wench who caught my
fancy, and I gave her a hug; she raised no objection, and in a quarter of
an hour she made me what you see."

"Have you told anyone about it?"

"I took good care not to do so, as I should only have got laughed at. The
doctor is the only one who knows what is the matter, and he tells me the
swelling will be gone down before tomorrow, and I hope I shall be able by
that time to wait upon you."

"Very good, but remember to keep your own counsel."

I proceeded to inform my Minerva of our conversation, and she said,--

"Tell me whether the widow could take her oath that she had spent the two
hours on the sofa with you."

"No, for she didn't see me, and I did not say a word."

"Very good; then sit down at your desk and write, and tell her she is a
liar, as you did not leave your room at all, and that you are making the
necessary enquiries in your household to find out who is the wretched
person she has unwittingly contaminated. Write at once and send off your
letter directly. In an hour and a half's time you can write another
letter; or rather you can copy what I am just going to put down."

"My dear, I see your plan; it is an ingenious one, but I have given my
word of honour to Madame to take no steps in the matter without first
consulting her."

"Then your word of honour must give way to the necessity of saving her
honour. Your love retards your steps, but everything depends on our
promptitude, and on the interval between the first and second letter.
Follow my advice, I beg of you, and you will know the rest from the
letter I am going to write for you to copy. Quick I write letter number
one."

I did not allow myself to reflect. I was persuaded that no better plan
could be found than that of my charming governess, and I proceeded to
write the following love-letter to the impudent monster:

"The impudence of your letter is in perfect accord with the three nights
you spent in discovering a fact which has no existence save in your own
perverse imagination. Know, cursed woman, that I never left my room, and
that I have not to deplore the shame of having passed two hours with a
being such as you. God knows with whom you did pass them, but I mean to
find out if the whole story is not the creation of your devilish brain,
and when I do so I will inform you.

"You may thank Heaven that I did not open your letter till after M. and
Madame had gone. I received it in their presence, but despising the hand
that wrote it I put it in my pocket, little caring what infamous stuff it
contained. If I had been curious enough to read it and my guests had seen
it, I would have you know that I would have gone in pursuit of you, and
at this moment you would have been a corpse. I am quite well, and have no
symptoms of any complaint, but I shall not lower myself to convince you
of my health, as your eyes would carry contagion as well as your wretched
carcase."

I shewed the letter to my dear Dubois, who thought it rather strongly
expressed, but approved of it on the whole; I then sent it to the
horrible being who had caused me such unhappiness. An hour and a half
afterwards I sent her the following letter, which I copied without
addition or subtraction:

"A quarter of an hour after I had sent off my letter, the village doctor
came to tell me that my man had need of his treatment for a disease of a
shameful nature which he had contracted quite recently. I told him to
take care of his patient; and when he had gone I went to see the invalid,
who confessed, after some pressure, that he had received this pretty
present from you. I asked him how he had contrived to obtain access to
you, and he said that he saw you going by your self in the dark into the
apartment of M.----. Knowing that I had gone to bed, and having no
further services to render me, curiosity made him go and see what you
were doing there by stealth, as if you had wanted to see the lady, who
would be in bed by that time, you would not have gone by the door leading
to the garden. He at first thought that you went there with ill-intent,
and he waited an hour to see if you stole anything, in which case he
would have arrested you; but as you did not come out, and he heard no
noise, he resolved to go in after you, and found you had left the door
open. He has assured me that he had no intentions in the way of carnal
enjoyment, and I can well believe him. He tells me he was on the point of
crying for help, when you took hold of him and put your hand over his
mouth; but he changed his plans on finding himself drawn gently to a
couch and covered with kisses. You plainly took him for somebody else,
'and,' said he, 'I did her a service which she has done ill to recompense
in this fashion.' He left you without saying a word as soon as the day
began to dawn, his motive being fear of recognition. It is easy to see
that you took my servant for myself, for in the night, you know, all cats
are grey, and I congratulate you on obtaining an enjoyment you certainly
would not have had from me, as I should most surely have recognized you
directly from your breath and your aged charms, and I can tell you it
would have gone hard with you. Luckily for you and for me, things
happened otherwise. I may tell you that the poor fellow is furious, and
intends making you a visit, from which course I believe I have no right
to dissuade him. I advise you to hear him politely, and to be in a
generous mood when he comes, as he is a determined fellow like all
Spaniards, and if you do not treat him properly he will publish the
matter, and you will have to take the consequences. He will tell you
himself what his terms are, and I daresay you will be wise enough to
grant them."

An hour after I had sent off this epistle I received a reply to my first
letter. She told me that my device was an ingenious one, but that it was
no good, as she knew what she was talking about. She defied me to shew
her that I was healthy in the course of a few days.

While we were at supper, my dear Dubois tried her utmost to cheer me up,
but all to no purpose; I was too much under the influence of strong
emotion to yield to her high spirits. We discussed the third step, which
would put an apex to the scheme and cover the impudent woman with shame.
As I had written the two letters according to my housekeeper's
instructions, I determined to follow her advice to the end. She told me
what to say to Le Duc in the morning; and she was curious to know what
sort of stuff he was made of, she begged me to let her listen behind the
curtains of my bed.

Next morning Le Due came in, and I asked if he could ride on horseback to
Soleure.

"Yes, sir," he replied, "but the doctor tells me I must begin to bathe
to-morrow."

"Very good. As soon as your horse is ready, set out and go to Madame
F----, but do not let her know you come from me, or suspect that you are
a mere emissary of mine. Say that you want to speak to her. If she
refuses to receive you, wait outside in the street; but I fancy she will
receive you, and without a witness either. Then say to her, 'You have
given me my complaint without having been asked, and I require you to
give me sufficient money to get myself cured.' Add that she made you work
for two hours in the dark, and that if it had not been for the fatal
present she had given to you, you would have said nothing about it; but
that finding yourself in such a state (you needn't be ashamed to shew
her) she ought not to be astonished at your taking such a course. If she
resists, threaten her with the law. That's all you have to do, but don't
let my name appear. Return directly without loss of time, that I may know
how you have got on."

"That's all very fine, sir, but if this jolly wench has me pitched out of
window, I shan't come home quite so speedily."

"Quite so, but you needn't be afraid; I will answer for your safety."

"It's a queer business you are sending me on."

"You are the only man I would trust to do it properly."

"I will do it all right, but I want to ask you one or two essential
questions. Has the lady really got the what d'you call it?"

"She has."

"I am sorry for her. But how am I to stick to it that she has peppered
me, when I have never spoken to her?"

"Do you usually catch that complaint by speaking, booby?"

"No, but one speaks in order to catch it, or while one is catching it."

"You spent two hours in the dark with her without a word being spoken,
and she will see that she gave this fine present to you while she thought
she was giving it to another."

"Ah! I begin to see my way, sir. But if we were in the dark, how was I to
know it was she I had to do with?

"Thus: you saw her going in by the garden door, and you marked her
unobserved. But you may be sure she won't ask you any of these
questions."

"I know what to do now. I will start at once, and I am as curious as you
to know what her answer will be. But here's another question comes into
my head. She may try to strike a bargain over the sum I am to ask for my
cure; if so, shall I be content with three hundred francs?"

"That's too much for her, take half."

"But it isn't much for two hours of such pleasure for her and six weeks
of such pain for me."

"I will make up the rest to you."

"That's good hearing. She is going to pay for damage she has done. I
fancy I see it all, but I shall say nothing. I would bet it is you to
whom she has made this fine present, and that you want to pay her out."

"Perhaps so; but keep your own counsel and set out."

"Do you know I think the rascal is unique," said my dear Dubois, emerging
from her hiding-place, "I had hard work to keep from laughing when he
said that if he were pitched out of the window he would not come back so
soon. I am sure he will acquit himself better than ever did diplomatist.
When he gets to Soleure the monster will have already dispatched her
reply to your second letter. I am curious to see how it will turn out."

"To you, my dear, the honour of this comedy belongs. You have conducted
this intrigue like a past master in the craft. It could never be taken
for the work of a novice."

"Nevertheless, it is my first and I hope it will be my last intrigue."

"I hope she won't defy me to 'give evidence of my health'."

"You are quite well so far, I think?"

"Yes; and, by the way, it is possible she may only have leucorrhoea. I am
longing to see the end of the piece, and to set my mind at rest."

"Will you give Madame an account of our scheme?"

"Yes; but I shall not be able to give you the credit you deserve."

"I only want to have credit in your eyes."

"You cannot doubt that I honour you immensely, and I shall certainly not
deprive you of the reward that is your due."

"The only reward I ask for is for you to be perfectly open with me."

"You are very wonderful. Why do you interest yourself so much in my
affairs?  I don't like to think you are really inquisitive."

"You would be wrong to think that I have a defect which would lower me in
my own eyes. Be sure, sir, that I shall only be curious when you are
sad."

"But what can have made you feel so generously towards me?"

"Only your honourable conduct towards me."

"You touch me profoundly, and I promise to confide in you for the
future."

"You will make me happy."

Le Duc had scarcely gone an hour when a messenger on foot came to bring
me a second letter from the widow. He also gave me a small packet,
telling me that he had orders to wait for a reply. I sent him down to
wait, and I gave the letter to Madame Dubois, that she might see what it
contained. While she was reading it I leant upon the window, my heart
beating violently.

"Everything is getting on famously," cried my housekeeper. "Here is the
letter; read it."

"Whether I am being told the truth, or whether I am the victim of a myth
arising from your fertile imagination (for which you are too well known
all over Europe), I will regard the whole story as being true, as I am
not in a position to disprove it. I am deeply grieved to have injured an
innocent man who has never done me any ill, and I will willingly pay the
penalty by giving him a sum which will be more than sufficient to cure
him of the plague with which I infected him. I beg that you will give him
the twenty-five louis I am sending you; they will serve to restore him to
health, and to make him forget the bitterness of the pleasure I am so
sorry to have procured for him. And now are you sufficiently generous to
employ your authority as master to enjoin on your man the most absolute
secrecy?  I hope so, for you have reason to dread my vengeance otherwise.
Consider that, if this affair is allowed to transpire, it will be easy
for me to give it a turn which may be far from pleasant to you, and which
will force the worthy man you are deceiving to open his eyes; for I have
not changed my opinion, as I have too many proofs of your understanding
with his wife. As I do not desire that we should meet again, I shall go
to Lucerne on the pretext of family concerns. Let me know that you have
got this letter."

"I am sorry," I said, "to have sent Le Duc, as the harpy is violent, and
I am afraid of something happening to him."

"Don't be afraid," she replied, "nothing will happen, and it is better
that they should see each other; it makes it more certain. Send her the
money directly; she will have to give it to him herself, and your
vengeance will be complete. She will not be able to entertain the
slightest suspicion, especially if Le Duc shews her her work, and in two
or three hours you will have the pleasure of hearing everything from his
lips. You have reason to bless your stars, as the honour of the woman you
love is safe. The only thing that can trouble you is the remembrance of
the widow's foul embraces, and the certainty that the prostitute has
communicated her complaint to you. Nevertheless, I hope it may prove a
slight attack and be easily cured. An inveterate leucorrhoea is not
exactly a venereal disease, and I have heard people in London say that it
was rarely contagious. We ought to be very thankful that she is going to
Lucerne. Laugh and be thankful; there is certainly a comic touch in our
drama."

"Unfortunately, it is tragi-comic. I know the human heart, and I am sure
that I must have forfeited Madame's affections."

"It is true that----; but this is not the time to be thinking of such
matters. Quick! write to her briefly and return her the twenty-five
Louis."

My reply was as follows:

"Your unworthy suspicions, your abominable design of revenge, and the
impudent letter you wrote me, are the only causes of your no doubt bitter
repentance. I hope that it will restore peace to your conscience. Our
messengers have crossed, through no fault of mine. I send you the
twenty-five Louis; you can give them to the man yourself. I could not
prevent my servant from paying you a visit, but this time you will not
keep him two hours, and you will not find it difficult to appease his
anger. I wish you a good journey, and I shall certainly flee all
occasions of meeting you, for I always avoid the horrible; and you must
know, odious woman, that it isn't everybody who endeavours to ruin the
reputation of their friends. If you see the apostolic nuncio at Lucerne,
ask him about me, and he will tell you what sort of a reputation I have
in Europe. I can assure you that Le Duc has only spoken to me of his
misadventure, and that if you treat him well he will be discreet, as he
certainly has nothing to boast of. Farewell."

My dear Minerva approved of this letter, and I sent it with the money by
the messenger.

"The piece is not yet done," said my housekeeper, "we have three scenes
more:"

"What are they?"

"The return of your Spaniard, the appearance of the disease, and the
astonishment of Madame when she hears it all."

I counted the moments for Le Duc to return, but in vain; he did not
appear. I was in a state of great anxiety, although my dear Dubois kept
telling me that the only reason he was away so long was that the widow
was out. Some people are so happily constituted that they never admit the
possibility of misfortune. I was like that myself till the age of thirty,
when I was put under the Leads. Now I am getting into my dotage and look
on the dark side of everything. I am invited to a wedding, and see nought
but gloom; and witnessing the coronation of Leopold, at Prague, I say to
myself, 'Nolo coronari'. Cursed old age, thou art only worthy of dwelling
in hell, as others before me have thought also, 'tristisque senectus'.

About half-past nine my housekeeper looked out, and saw Le Duc by the
moonlight coming along at a good pace. That news revived me. I had no
light in the room, and my housekeeper ran to hide in the recess, for she
would not have missed a word of the Spaniard's communication.

"I am dying of hunger," said he, as he came in. "I had to wait for that
woman till half-past six. When she came in she found me on the stairs and
told me to go about my business, as she had nothing to say to me.

"'That may be, fair lady,' I replied; 'but I have a few words to say to
you, and I have been waiting here for a cursed time with that intent.'

"'Wait a minute,' she replied; and then putting into her pocket a packet
and a letter which I thought was addressed in your writing, she told me
to follow her. As soon as I got to her room, I saw there was no one else
present, and I told her that she had infected me, and that I wanted the
wherewithal to pay the doctor. As she said nothing I proceeded to
convince her of my infected state, but she turned away her head, and
said,--

"'Have you been waiting for me long?

"'Since eleven, without having had a bite or a sup.'

"Thereupon she went out, and after asking the servant, whom I suppose she
had sent here, what time he had come back, she returned to me, shut the
door, and gave me the packet, telling me that it contained twenty-five
Louis for my cure, and that if I valued my life I would keep silence in
the matter. I promised to be discreet, and with that I left here, and
here I am.

"Does the packet belong to me?"

"Certainly. Have some supper and go to bed."

My dear Dubois came out of her recess and embraced me, and we spent a
happy evening. Next morning I noticed the first symptoms of the disease
the hateful widow had communicated to me, but in three or four days I
found it was of a very harmless character, and a week later I was quite
rid of it. My poor Spaniard, on the other hand, was in a pitiable case.

I passed the whole of the next morning in writing to Madame. I told her
circumstantially all I had done, in spite of my promise to consult her,
and I sent her copies of all the letters to convince her that our enemy
had gone to Lucerne with the idea that her vengeance had been only an
imaginary one. Thus I shewed her that her honour was perfectly safe. I
ended by telling her that I had noticed the first symptoms of the
disease, but that I was certain of getting rid of it in a very few days.
I sent my letter through her nurse, and in two days' time I had a few
lines from her informing me that I should see her in the course of the
week in company with her husband and M. de Chavigni.

Unhappy I! I was obliged to renounce all thoughts of love, but my Dubois,
who was with me nearly all day on account of Le Duc's illness, began to
stand me in good stead. The more I determined to be only a friend to her,
the more I was taken with her; and it was in vain that I told myself that
from seeing her without any love-making my sentiment for her would die a
natural death. I had made her a present of a ring, telling her that
whenever she wanted to get rid of it I would give her a hundred louis for
it; but this could only happen in time of need--an impossible contingency
while she continued with me, and I had no idea of sending her away. She
was natural and sincere, endowed with a ready wit and good reasoning
powers. She had never been in love, and she had only married to please
Lady Montagu. She only wrote to her mother, and to please her I read the
letters. They were full of filial piety, and were admirably written.

One day the fancy took me to ask to read the letters her mother wrote in
reply. "She never replies," said she, "For an excellent reason, namely,
that she cannot write. I thought she was dead when I came back from
England, and it was a happy surprise to find her in perfect health when I
got to Lausanne."

"Who came with you from England?"

"Nobody."

"I can't credit that. Young, beautiful, well dressed, obliged to
associate casually with all kinds of people, young men and profligates
(for there are such everywhere), how did you manage to defend yourself?"

"Defend myself? I never needed to do so. The best plan for a young woman
is never to stare at any man, to pretend not to hear certain questions
and certainly not to answer them, to sleep by herself in a room where
there is a lock and key, or with the landlady when possible. When a girl
has travelling adventures, one may safely say that she has courted them,
for it is easy to be discreet in all countries if one wishes."

She spoke justly. She assured me that she had never had an adventure and
had never tripped, as she was fortunate enough not to be of an amorous
disposition. Her naive stories, her freedom from prudery, and her sallies
full of wit and good sense, amused me from morning till night, and we
sometimes thoued each other; this was going rather far, and should have
shewn us that we were on the brink of the precipice. She talked with much
admiration of the charms of Madame, and shewed the liveliest interest in
my stories of amorous adventure. When I got on risky ground, I would make
as if I would fain spare her all unseemly details, but she begged me so
gracefully to hide nothing, that I found myself obliged to satisfy her;
but when my descriptions became so faithful as almost to set us on fire,
she would burst into a laugh, put her hand over my mouth, and fly like a
hunted gazelle to her room, and then lock herself in. One day I asked her
why she did so, and she answered, "To hinder you from coming to ask me
for what I could not refuse you at such moments."

The day before that on which M. and Madame and M. de Chavigni came to
dine with me, she asked me if I had had any amorous adventures in
Holland. I told her about Esther, and when I came to the mole and my
inspection of it, my charming curiosity ran to stop my mouth, her sides
shaking with laughter. I held her gently to me, and could not help
seeking whether she had a mole in the same place, to which she opposed
but a feeble resistance. I was prevented by my unfortunate condition from
immolating the victim on the altar of love, so we confined ourselves to a
make-believe combat which only lasted a minute; however, our eyes took in
it, and our excited feelings were by no means appeased. When we had done
she said, laughing, but yet discreetly,--

"My dear friend, we are in love with one another; and if we do not take
care we shall not long be content with this trifling."

Sighing as she spoke, she wished me good night and went to bed with her
ugly little maid. This was the first time we had allowed ourselves to be
overcome by the violence of our passion, but the first step was taken. As
I retired to rest I felt that I was in love, and foresaw that I should
soon be under the rule of my charming housekeeper.

M. and Madame--and M. Chavigni gave us an agreeable surprise, the next
day, by coming to dine with us, and we passed the time till dinner by
walking in the garden. My dear Dubois did the honours of the table, and I
was glad to see that my two male guests were delighted with her, for they
did not leave her for a moment during the afternoon, and I was thus
enabled to tell my charmer all I had written to her. Nevertheless I took
care not to say a word about the share my housekeeper had had in the
matter, for my mistress would have been mortified at the thought that her
weakness was known to her.

"I was delighted to read your letters," said she, "and to hear that that
villainous woman can no longer flatter herself upon having spent two
hours with you. But tell me, how can you have actually spent them with
her without noticing, in spite of the dark, the difference between her
and me?  She is much shorter, much thinner, and ten years older. Besides,
her breath is disagreeable, and I think you know that I have not that
defect. Certainly, you could not see her hair, but you could touch, and
yet you noticed nothing! I can scarcely believe it!"

"Unhappily, it is only too true. I was inebriated with love, and thinking
only of you, I saw nothing but you."

"I understand how strong the imagination would be at first, but this
element should have been much diminished after the first or second
assault; and, above all, because she differs from me in a matter which I
cannot conceal and she cannot supply."

"You are right--a burst of Venus! When I think that I only touched two
dangling flabby breasts, I feel as if I did not deserve to live!"

"And you felt them, and they did not disgust you!"

"Could I be disgusted, could I even reflect, when I felt certain that I
held you in my arms, you for whom I would give my life. No, a rough skin,
a stinking breath, and a fortification carried with far too much ease;
nothing could moderate my amorous fury."

"What do I hear? Accursed and unclean woman, nest of impurities! And
could you forgive me all these defects?"

"I repeat, the idea that I possessed you deprived me of my thinking
faculties; all seemed to me divine."

"You should have treated me like a common prostitute, you should even
have beaten me on finding me such as you describe."

"Ah! now you are unjust!"

"That may be; I am so enraged against that monster that my anger deprives
me of reason. But now that she thinks that she had to do with a servant,
and after the degrading visit she has had she ought to die of rage and
shame. What astonishes me is her believing it, for he is shorter than you
by four inches. And how can she imagine that a servant would do it as
well as you?  It's not likely. I am sure she is in love with him now.
Twenty-five louis! He would have been content with ten. What a good thing
that the poor fellow's illness happened so conveniently. But I suppose
you had to tell him all?"

"Not at all. I gave him to understand that she had made an appointment
with me in that room, and that I had really spent two hours with her, not
speaking for fear of being heard. Then, thinking over the orders I gave
him, he came to the conclusion that on finding myself diseased afterwards
I was disgusted, and being able to disavow my presence I had done so for
the sake of revenge."

"That's admirable, and the impudence of the Spaniard passes all belief.
But her impudence is the most astonishing thing of all. But supposing her
illness had been a mere trick to frighten you, what a risk the rascal
would have run!"

"I was afraid of that, as I had no symptoms of disease whatever."

"But now you really have it, and all through my fault. I am in despair."

"Be calm, my angel, my disease is of a very trifling nature. I am only
taking nitre, and in a week I shall be quite well again. I hope that then
. . . ."

"Ah! my dear friend."

"What?"

"Don't let us think of that any more, I beseech you."

"You are disgusted, and not unnaturally; but your love cannot be very
strong, Ah! how unhappy I am."

"I am more unhappy than you. I love you, and you would be thankless
indeed if you ceased to love me. Let us love each other, but let us not
endeavour to give one another proofs of our love. It might be fatal. That
accursed widow! She is gone away, and in a fortnight we shall be going
also to Bale, where we remain till the end of November."

The die is cast, and I see that I must submit to your decision, or rather
to my destiny, for none but fatal events have befallen me since I came to
Switzerland. My only consoling thought is that I have made your honour
safe."

"You have won my husband's friendship and esteem; we shall always be good
friends."

"If you are going I feel that I must go before you. That will tend to
convince the wretched author of my woe that there is nothing blame-worthy
in my friendship for you."

"You reason like an angel, and you convince me more and more of your
love. Where are you going?"

"To Italy; but I shall take Berne and Geneva on my way."

"You will not be coming to Bale, then? I am glad to hear it, in spite of
the pleasure it would give me to see you. No doubt your arrival would
give a handle for the gossips, and I might suffer by it. But if possible,
in the few days you are to remain, shew yourself to be in good spirits,
for sadness does not become you."

We rejoined the ambassador and M.---- who had not had time to think about
us, as my dear Dubois had kept them amused by her lively conversation. I
reproached her for the way in which she husbanded her wit as far as I was
concerned, and M. de Chavigni, seizing the opportunity, told us it was
because we were in love, and lovers are known to be chary of their words.
My housekeeper was not long in finding a repartee, and she again began to
entertain the two gentlemen, so that I was enabled to continue my walk
with Madame, who said,--

"Your housekeeper, my dear friend, is a masterpiece. Tell me the truth,
and I promise to give you a mark of my gratitude that will please you
before I go."

"Speak; what do you wish to know?"

"You love her and she loves you in return."

"I think you are right, but so far . . . ."

"I don't want to know any more, for if matters are not yet arranged they
soon will be, and so it comes to the same thing. If you had told me you
did not love her I should not have believed you, for I can't conceive
that a man of your age can live with a woman like that without loving
her. She is very pretty and exceedingly intelligent, she has good
spirits, talents, an excellent manner, and she speaks exceedingly well:
that is enough to charm you, and I expect you will find it difficult to
separate from her. Lebel did her a bad turn in sending her to you, as she
used to have an excellent reputation, and now she will no longer be able
to get a place with ladies in the highest society."

"I shall take her to Berne."

"That is a good idea."

Just as they were going I said that I should soon be coming to Soleure to
thank them for the distinguished reception they had given me, as I
proposed leaving in a few days. The idea of never seeing Madame again was
so painful to me that as soon as I got in I went to bed, and my
housekeeper, respecting my melancholy, retired after wishing me
good-night.

In two or three days I received a note from my charmer, bidding me call
upon them the day following at about ten o'clock, and telling me I was to
ask for dinner. I carried out her orders to the letter. M. gave me a most
friendly reception, but saying that he was obliged to go into the country
and could not be home till one o'clock, he begged me not to be offended
if he delivered me over to his wife for the morning. Such is the fate of
a miserable husband! His wife was engaged with a young girl at
tambour-work; I accepted her company on the condition that she would not
allow me to disturb her work.

The girl went away at noon, and soon after we went to enjoy the fresh air
outside the house. We sat in a summer-house from which, ourselves unseen,
we could see all the carriages that approached the house.

"Why, dearest, did you not procure me the bliss when I was in good
health."

"Because at that time my husband suspected that you turned yourself into
a waiter for my sake, and that you could not be indifferent towards me.
Your discretion has destroyed his suspicions; and also your housekeeper,
whom he believes to be your wife, and who has taken his fancy to such an
extent, that I believe he would willingly consent to an exchange, for a
few days at any rate. Would you agree?"

"Ah! if the exchange could be effected."

Having only an hour before me, and foreseeing that it would be the last I
should pass beside her, I threw myself at her feet. She was full of
affection, and put no obstacles in the way of my desires, save those
which my own feelings dictated, for I loved her too well to consent to
injure her health. I did all I could to replace the utmost bliss, but the
pleasure she enjoyed doubtless consisted in a great measure in shewing me
her superiority to the horrible widow.

When we saw the husband's carriage coming, we rose and took care that the
worthy man should not find us in the arbour. He made a thousand excuses
for not having returned sooner.

We had an excellent dinner, and at table he talked almost entirely of my
housekeeper, and he seemed moved when I said I meant to take her to
Lausanne to her mother. I took leave of them at five o'clock with a
broken heart, and from there I went to M. de Chavigni and told him all my
adventures. He had a right to be told, as he had done all in his power to
insure the success of a project which had only failed by an unexampled
fatality.

In admiration of my dear Dubois's wit--for I did not conceal the part she
played he said that old as he was he should think himself quite happy if
he had such a woman with him, and he was much pleased when I told him
that I was in love with her. "Don't give yourself the trouble, my dear
Casanova, of running from house to house to take leave," said the amiable
nobleman. "It can be done just as well at the assembly, and you need not
even stay to supper, if you don't want to."

I followed his advice, and thus saw again Madame as I thought, for the
last time, but I was wrong; I saw her ten years afterwards; and at the
proper time the reader will see where, when, how, and under what
circumstances.

Before going away, I followed the ambassador to his room to thank him as
he deserved, for his kindness, and to ask him to give me a letter of
introduction for Berne, where I thought of staying a fortnight. I also
begged him to send Lebel to me that we might settle our accounts. He told
me that Lebel should bring me a letter for M. de Muralt, the Mayor of
Thun.

When I got home, feeling sad on this, the eve of my leaving a town where
I had but trifling victories and heavy losses, I thanked my housekeeper
for waiting for me, and to give her a good night I told her that in three
days we should set out for Berne, and that my mails must be packed.

Next day, after a somewhat silent breakfast, she said,--

"You will take me with you, won't you?"

"Certainly, if you like me well enough to want to go."

"I would go with you to the end of the world, all the more as you are now
sick and sad, and when I saw you first you were blithe and well. If I
must leave you, I hope at least to see you happy first."

The doctor came in just then to tell me that my poor Spaniard was so ill
that he could not leave his bed.

"I will have him cured at Berne," said I; "tell him that we are going to
dine there the day after to-morrow."

"I must tell you, sir, that though it's only a seven leagues' journey, he
cannot possibly undertake it as he has lost the use of all his limbs."

"I am sorry to hear that, doctor."

"I dare say, but it's true."

"I must verify the matter with my own eyes;" and so saying I went to see
Le Duc.

I found the poor rascal, as the doctor had said, incapable of motion. He
had only the use of his tongue and his eyes.

"You are in a pretty state," said I to him.

"I am very ill, sir, though otherwise I feel quite well."

"I expect so, but as it is you can't move, and I want to dine at Berne
the day after to-morrow."

"Have me carried there, I shall get cured."

"You are right, I will have you carried in a litter."

"I shall look like a saint out for a walk."

I told one of the servants to look after him, and to see to all that was
necessary for our departure. I had him taken to the "Falcon" by two
horses who drew his litter.

Lebel came at noon and gave me the letter his master had written for M.
de Murat. He brought his receipts and I paid everything without
objection, as I found him an entirely honest man, and I had him to dinner
with Madame Dubois and myself. I did not feel disposed to talk, and I was
glad to see that they got on without me; they talked away admirably and
amused me, for Lebel was by no means wanting in wit. He said he was very
glad I had given him an opportunity of knowing the housekeeper, as he
could not say he had known her before, having only seen her two or three
times in passing through Lausanne. On rising from the table he asked my
permission to write to her, and she, putting in her voice, called on him
not to forget to do so.

Lebel was a good-natured man, of an honest appearance, and approaching
his fiftieth year. Just as he was going, without asking my leave, he
embraced her in the French fashion, and she seemed not to have the
slightest objection.

She told me as soon as he was gone that this worthy man might be useful
to her, and that she was delighted to enter into a correspondence with
him.

The next day was spent in putting everything in order for our short
journey, and Le Duc went off in his litter, intending to rest for the
night at four leagues from Soleure. On the day following, after I had
remembered the door-keeper, the cook, and the man-servant I was leaving
behind, I set out in my carriage with the charming Dubois, and at eleven
o'clock I arrived at the inn at Berne, where Le Duc had preceded me by
two hours. In the first place, knowing the habits of Swiss innkeepers, I
made an agreement with the landlord; and I then told the servant I had
kept, who came from Berne, to take care of Le Duc, to put him under good
medical superintendence, and to bid the doctor spare nothing to cure him
completely.

I dined with my housekeeper in her room, for she had a separate lodging,
and after sending my letter to M. de Muralt I went out for a walk.



CHAPTER XVII

Berne--La Mata Madame de la Saone--Sara--My Departure--Arrival at Bale

I reached an elevation from which I could look over a vast stretch of
country watered by a little river, and noticing a path leading to a kind
of stair, the fancy took me to follow it. I went down about a hundred
steps, and found forty small closets which I concluded were bathing
machines. While I was looking at the place an honest-looking fellow came
up to me, and asked me if I would like a bath. I said I would, and he
opened one of the closets, and before long I surrounded by a crowd of
young girls.

"Sir," said the man, "they all aspire to the honour of attending you
while you bathe; you have only to choose which it shall be. Half-a-crown
will pay for the bath, the girl, and your coffee."

As if I were the Grand Turk, I examined the swarm of rustic beauties, and
threw my handkerchief at the one I liked the best. We went into a closet,
and shutting the door with the most serious air, without even looking at
me, she undressed me, and put a cotton cap on my head, and as soon as she
saw me in the water she undressed herself as coolly as possible, and
without a word came into the bath. Then she rubbed me all over, except in
a certain quarter, which I had covered with my hands. When I thought I
had been manipulated sufficiently, I asked for coffee. She got out of the
bath, opened the door, and after asking for what I wanted got in again
without the slightest consciousness.

When the coffee came she got out again to take it, shut the door, and
returned to the bath, and held the tray while I was drinking, and when I
had finished she remained beside me.

Although I had taken no great notice of her, I could see that she
possessed all the qualifications a man could desire in a woman: fine
features, lively eyes, a pretty mouth, and an excellent row of teeth, a
healthy complexion, a well-rounded bosom a curved back, and all else in
the same sort. I certainly thought her hands might have been softer, but
their hardness was probably due to hard work. Furthermore, she was only
eighteen, and yet I remained cold to all her charms. How was that?  That
was the question I asked myself; and I think the reason probably was that
she was too natural, too devoid of those assumed graces and coquettish
airs which women employ with so much art for the seduction of men. We
only care for artifice and false show. Perhaps, too, our senses, to be
irritated, require woman's charms to be veiled by modesty. But if,
accustomed as we are to clothe ourselves, the face is the smallest factor
in our perfect happiness, how is it that the face plays the principal
part in rendering a man amorous?  Why do we take the face as an index of
a woman's beauty, and why do we forgive her when the covered parts are
not in harmony with her features?  Would it not be much more reasonable
and sensible to veil the face, and to have the rest of the body naked?
Thus when we fall in love with a woman, we should only want, as the crown
of our bliss, to see a face answerable to those other charms which had
taken our fancy. There can be no doubt that that would be the better
plan, as in that case we should only be seduced by a perfect beauty, and
we should grant an easy pardon if at the lifting of the mask we found
ugliness instead of loveliness. Under those circumstances an ugly woman,
happy in exercising the seductive power of her other charms, would never
consent to unveil herself; while the pretty ones would not have to be
asked. The plain women would not make us sigh for long; they would be
easily subdued on the condition of remaining veiled, and if they did
consent to unmask, it would be only after they had practically convinced
one that enjoyment is possible without facial beauty. And it is evident
and undeniable that inconstancy only proceeds from the variety of
features. If a man did not see the face, he would always be constant and
always in love with the first woman who had taken his fancy. I know that
in the opinion of the foolish all this will seem folly, but I shall not
be on the earth to answer their objections.

When I had left the bath, she wiped me with towels, put on my shirt, and
then in the same state--that is, quite naked, she did my hair.

While I was dressing she dressed herself too, and having soon finished
she came to buckle my shoes. I then gave her half-a-crown for the bath
and six francs for herself; she kept the half-crown, but gave me back the
six francs with silent contempt. I was mortified; I saw that I had
offended her, and that she considered her behaviour entitled her to
respect. I went away in a bad enough humour.

After supper I could not help telling my dear Dubois of the adventure I
had had in the afternoon, and she made her own comments on the details.
"She can't have been pretty," said she, "for if she had been, you would
certainly have given way. I should like to see her."

"If you like I will take you there."

"I should be delighted."

"But you will have to dress like a man:"

She rose, went out without a word, and in a quarter of an hour returned
in a suit of Le Duc's, but minus the trousers, as she had certain
protuberances which would have stood out too much I told her to take a
pair of my breeches, and we settled to go to the bath next morning.

She came to wake at six o'clock. She was dressed like a man, and wore a
blue overcoat which disguised her shape admirably. I rose and went to La
Mata, as the place is called.

Animated by the pleasure the expedition gave her, my dear Dubois looked
radiant. Those who saw her must have seen through her disguise, she was
so evidently a woman; so she wrapped herself up in her overcoat as well
as she could.

As soon as we arrived we saw the master of the baths, who asked me if I
wanted a closet for four, and I replied in the affirmative. We were soon
surrounded by the girls, and I shewed my housekeeper the one who had not
seduced me; she made choice of her, and I having fixed upon a big,
determined-looking wench, we shut ourselves up in the bath.

As soon as I was undressed I went into the water with my big attendant.
My housekeeper was not so quick; the novelty of the thing astonished her,
and her expression told me that she repented of having come; but putting
a good face on it, she began to laugh at seeing me rubbed by the feminine
grenadier. She had some trouble before she could take off her chemise,
but as it is only the first step that costs, she let it fall off, and
though she held her two hands before her she dazzled me, in spite of
myself, by the beauty of her form. Her attendant prepared to treat her as
she had treated me, but she begged to be left alone; and on my following
her example she felt obliged to let me look after her.

The two Swiss girls, who had no doubt often been present at a similar
situation, began to give us a spectacle which was well known to me, but
which was quite strange to my dear Dubois.

These two Bacchantes began to imitate the caresses I lavished on my
housekeeper, who was quite astonished at the amorous fury with which my
attendant played the part of a man with the other girl. I confess I was a
little surprised myself, in spite of the transports which my fair
Venetian nun had shewn me six years before in conjunction with
C---- C----.

I could not have imagined that anything of the kind could have distracted
my attention, holding, as I did, the woman I loved, whose charms were
sufficient to captivate all the senses; but the strange strife of the two
young Menads took up her attention as well as mine.

"Your attendant," said she, "must be a boy, not a girl."

"But," said I, "you saw her breasts."

"Yes, but she may be a boy all the same."

The big Swiss girl who had heard what we had said turned round and shewed
me what I should not have credited. There could be no mistake, however.
It was a feminine membrane, but much longer than my little finger, and
stiff enough to penetrate. I explained to my dear Dubois what it was, but
to convince her I had to make her touch it. The impudent creature pushed
her shamelessness so far as to offer to try it on her, and she insisted
so passionately that I was obliged to push her away. She then turned to
her companion and satiated on her body her fury of lust. In spite of its
disgusting nature, the sight irritated us to such a degree that my
housekeeper yielded to nature and granted me all I could desire.

This entertainment lasted for two hours, and we returned to the town well
pleased with one another. On leaving the bath I gave a Louis to each of
the two Bacchantes, and we went away determined to go there no more. It
will be understood that after what had happened there could be no further
obstacle to the free progress of our love; and accordingly my dear Dubois
became my mistress, and we made each other happy during all the time we
spent at Berne. I was quite cured of my misadventure with the horrible
widow, and I found that if love's pleasures are fleeting so are its
pains. I will go farther and maintain that the pleasures are of much
longer duration, as they leave memories which can be enjoyed in old age,
whereas, if a man does happen to remember the pains, it is so slightly as
to have no influence upon his happiness.

At ten o'clock the Mayor of Thun was announced. He was dressed in the
French fashion, in black, and had a manner at once graceful and polite
that pleased me. He was middle-aged, and enjoyed a considerable position
in the Government. He insisted on my reading the letter that M. de
Chavigni had written to him on my account. It was so flattering that I
told him that if it had not been sealed I should not have had the face to
deliver it. He asked me for the next day to a supper composed of men
only, and for the day after that, to a supper at which women as well as
men would be present. I went with him to the library where we saw M.
Felix, an unfrocked monk, more of a scribbler than a scholar, and a young
man named Schmidt, who gave good promise, and was already known to
advantage in the literary world. I also had the misfortune of meeting
here a very learned man of a very wearisome kind; he knew the names of
ten thousand shells by heart, and I was obliged to listen to him for two
hours, although I was totally ignorant of his science. Amongst other
things he told me that the Aar contained gold. I replied that all great
rivers contained gold, but he shrugged his shoulders and did not seem
convinced.

I dined with M. de Muralt in company with four or five of the most
distinguished women in Berne. I liked them very well, and above all
Madame de Saconai struck me as particularly amiable and well-educated. I
should have paid my addresses to her if I had been staying long in the
so-called capital of Switzerland.

The ladies of Berne are well though not extravagantly dressed, as luxury
is forbidden by the laws. Their manners are good and they speak French
with perfect ease. They enjoy the greatest liberty without abusing it,
for in spite of gallantry decency reigns everywhere. The husbands are not
jealous, but they require their wives to be home by supper-time.

I spent three weeks in the town, my time being divided between my dear
Dubois and an old lady of eighty-five who interested me greatly by her
knowledge of chemistry. She had been intimately connected with the
celebrated Boerhaave, and she shewed me a plate of gold he had transmuted
in her presence from copper. I believed as much as I liked of this, but
she assured me that Boerhaave possessed the philosopher's stone, but that
he had not discovered the secret of prolonging life many years beyond the
century. Boerhaave, however, was not able to apply this knowledge to
himself, as he died of a polypus on the heart before he had attained the
age of perfect maturity, which Hypocrates fixes at between sixty and
seventy years. The four millions he left to his daughter, if they do not
prove that he could make gold, certainly prove that he could save it. The
worthy old woman told me he had given her a manuscript in which the whole
process was explained, but that she found it very obscure.

"You should publish it," said I.

"God forbid!"

"Burn it, then."

"I can't make up my mind to do so."

M. de Muralt took me to see the military evolutions gone through by the
citizens of Berne, who are all soldiers, and I asked him the meaning of
the bear to be seen above the gate of the town. The German for bear is
'bar', 'bern', and the animal has given its name to the town and canton
which rank second in the Republic, although it is in the first place for
its wealth and culture. It is a peninsula formed by the Aar, which rises
near the Rhine. The mayor spoke to me of the power of the canton, its
lordships and bailiwicks, and explained his own powers; he then described
the public policy, and told me of the different systems of government
which compose the Helvetic Union.

"I understand perfectly well," I said, "that each of the thirteen cantons
has its own government."

"I daresay you do," he replied, "but what you don't understand any more
than I do is, that there is a canton which has four separate
governments."

I had an excellent supper with fourteen or fifteen senators. There were
no jokes, no frivolous conversation, and no literature; but law, the
commonweal, commerce, political economy, speculation, love of country,
and the duty of preferring liberty to life, in abundance.

I felt as if I were in a new element, but I enjoyed the privilege of
being a man amidst men who were all in honour to our common humanity. But
as the supper went on, these rigid republicans began to expand, the
discourse became less measured, there were even some bursts of laughter,
owing to the wine. I excited their pity, and though they praised sobriety
they thought mine excessive. However, they respected my liberty, and did
not oblige me to drink, as the Russians, Swedes, Poles, and most northern
peoples do.

We parted at midnight--a very late hour in Switzerland, and as they
wished me a good night, each of them made me a sincere offer of his
friendship. One of the company at an early period of the supper, before
he had begun to get mellow, had condemned the Venetian Republic for
banishing the Grisons, but on his intellect being enlightened by Bacchus
he made his apologies.

"Every government," said he, "ought to know its own interests better than
strangers, and everybody should be allowed to do what he wills with his
own."

When I got home I found my housekeeper lying in my bed. I gave her a
hundred caresses in witness of my joy, and I assured her practically of
my love and gratitude. I considered her as my wife, we cherished each
other, and did not allow the thought of separating to enter our minds.
When two lovers love each other in all freedom, the idea of parting seems
impossible.

Next morning I got a letter from the worthy Madame d'Urfe, who begged me
to call on Madame de la Saone, wife of a friend of hers--a
lieutenant-general. This lady had come to Berne in the hope of getting
cured of a disease which had disfigured her in an incredible manner.
Madame de la Saone was immediately introduced to all the best society in
the place. She gave a supper every day, only asking men; she had an
excellent cook. She had given notice that she would pay no calls, and she
was quite right. I hastened to make my bow to her; but, good Heavens!
what a terrible and melancholy sight did I behold!

I saw a woman dressed with the utmost elegance, reclining voluptuously
upon a couch. As soon as she saw me she arose, gave me a most gracious
reception, and going back to her couch invited me to sit beside her. She
doubtless noticed my surprise, but being probably accustomed to the
impression which the first sight of her created, she talked on in the
most friendly manner, and by so doing diminished my aversion.

Her appearance was as follows: Madame de Saone was beautifully dressed,
and had the whitest hands and the roundest arms that can be imagined. Her
dress, which was cut very low, allowed me to see an exquisite breast of
dazzling whiteness, heightened by two rosy buds; her figure was good, and
her feet the smallest I have ever seen. All about her inspired love, but
when one's eyes turned to her face every other feeling gave way to those
of horror and pity. She was fearful. Instead of a face, one saw a
blackened and disgusting scab. No feature was distinguishable, and her
ugliness was made more conspicuous and dreadful by two fine eyes full of
fire, and by a lipless mouth which she kept parted, as if to disclose two
rows of teeth of dazzling whiteness. She could not laugh, for the pain
caused by the contraction of the muscles would doubtless have drawn tears
to her eyes; nevertheless she appeared contented, her conversation was
delightful, full of wit and humour, and permeated with the tone of good
society. She might be thirty at the most, and she had left three
beautiful young children behind in Paris. Her husband was a fine,
well-made man, who loved her tenderly, and had never slept apart from
her. It is probable that few soldiers have shewn such courage as this,
but it is to be supposed that he did not carry his bravery so far as to
kiss her, as the very thought made one shudder. A disorder contracted
after her first child-bed had left the poor woman in this sad state, and
she had borne it for ten years. All the best doctors in France had tried
in vain to cure her, and she had come to Berne to put herself into the
hands of two well-known physicians who had promised to do so. Every quack
makes promises of this sort; their patients are cured or not cured as it
happens, and provided that they pay heavily the doctor is ready enough to
lay the fault, not on his ignorance, but at the door of his poor deluded
patient.

The doctor came while I was with her, and just as her intelligent
conversation was making me forget her face. She had already began to take
his remedies, which were partly composed of mercury.

"It seems to me," said she, "that the itching has increased since I have
taken your medicines."

"It will last," said the son of AEsculapius, "till the end of the cure,
and that will take about three months."

"As long as I scratch myself," said she, "I shall be in the same state,
and the cure will never be completed."

The doctor replied in an evasive manner. I rose to take my leave, and
holding my hand she asked me to supper once for all. I went the same
evening; the poor woman took everything and drank some wine, as the
doctor had not put her on any diet. I saw that she would never be cured.

Her good temper and her charming conversational powers kept all the
company amused. I conceived that it would be possible to get used to her
face, and to live with her without being disgusted. In the evening I
talked about her to my housekeeper, who said that the beauty of her body
and her mental endowments might be sufficient to attract people to her. I
agreed, though I felt that I could never become one of her lovers.

Three or four days after, I went to a bookseller's to read the newspaper,
and was politely accosted by a fine young man of twenty, who said that
Madame de la Saone was sorry not to have seen me again at supper.

"You know the lady?"

"I had the honour to sup at her house with you."

"True; I remember you."

"I get her the books she likes, as I am a bookseller, and not only do I
sup with her every evening, but we breakfast together every morning
before she gets up."

"I congratulate you. I bet you are in love with her."

"You are pleased to jest, but she is pleasanter than you think."

"I do not jest at all, but I would wager she would not have the courage
to push things to an extremity."

"Perhaps you would lose."

"Really? I should be very glad to."

"Let us make a bet."

"How will you convince me I have lost?"

"Let us bet a louis, and you must promise to be discreet."

"Very good."

"Come and sup at her house this evening, and I will tell you something."

"You shall see me there."

When I got home I told my housekeeper what I had heard.

"I am curious to know," said she, "how he will convince you." I promised
to tell her, which pleased her very much.

I was exact to my appointment. Madame de la Saone reproached me
pleasantly for my absence, and gave me a delicious supper. The young
bookseller was there, but as his sweetheart did not speak a word to him
he said nothing and passed unnoticed.

After supper we went out together, and he told me on the way that if I
liked he would satisfy me the next morning at eight o'clock. "Call here,
and the lady's maid will tell you her mistress is not visible, but you
have only to say that you will wait, and that you will go into the
ante-chamber. This room has a glass door commanding a view of madame's
bed, and I will take care to draw back the curtains over the door so that
you will be able to see at your ease all that passes between us. When the
affair is over I shall go out by another door, she will call her maid,
and you will be shewn in. At noon, if you will allow me, I will bring you
some books to the 'Falcon,' and if you find that you have lost you shall
pay me my louis." I promised to carry out his directions, and we parted.

I was curious to see what would happen, though I by no means regarded it
as an impossibility; and on my presenting myself at eight o'clock, the
maid let me in as soon as I said that I could wait. I found a corner of
the glass door before which there was no curtain, and on applying my eye
to the place I saw my young adventurer holding his conquest in his arms
on the bed. An enormous nightcap entirely concealed her face--an
excellent precaution which favoured the bookseller's enterprise.

When the rascal saw that I had taken up my position, he did not keep me
waiting, for, getting up, he presented to my dazzled gaze, not only the
secret treasures of his sweetheart, but his own also. He was a small man,
but where the lady was most concerned he was a Hercules, and the rogue
seemed to make a parade of his proportions as if to excite my jealousy.
He turned his victim round so that I should see her under all aspects,
and treated her manfully, while she appeared to respond to his ardour
with all her might. Phidias could not have modelled his Venus on a finer
body; her form was rounded and voluptuous, and as white as Parian marble.
I was affected in a lively manner by the spectacle, and re-entered my
lodging so inflamed that if my dear Dubois had not been at hand to quench
my fire I should have been obliged to have extinguished it in the baths
of La Mata.

When I had told her my tale she wanted to know the hero of it, and at
noon she had that pleasure. The young bookseller brought me some books I
had ordered, and while paying him for them I gave him our bet and a Louis
over and above as a mark of my satisfaction at his prowess. He took it
with a smile which seemed to shew that he thought I ought to think myself
lucky to have lost. My housekeeper looked at him for some time, and asked
if he knew her; he said he did not.

"I saw you when you were a child," said she. "You are the son of M.
Mignard, minister of the Gospel. You must have been ten when I saw you."

"Possibly, madam."

"You did not care to follow your father's profession, then?"

"No madam, I feel much more inclined to the worship of the creature than
to that of the Creator, and I did not think my father's profession would
suit me."

"You are right, for a minister of the Gospel ought to be discreet, and
discretion is a restraint."

This stroke made him blush, but we did not give him time to lose courage.
I asked him to dine with me, and without mentioning the name of Madame de
la Saone he told his amorous adventures and numerous anecdotes about the
pretty women of Berne.

After he had gone, my housekeeper said that once was quite enough to see
a young man of his complexion. I agreed with her, and had no more to do
with him; but I heard that Madame de Saone took him to Paris and made his
fortune. Many fortunes are made in this manner, and there are some which
originated still more nobly. I only returned to Madame de la Saone to
take my leave, as I shall shortly relate.

I was happy with my charmer, who told me again and again that with me she
lived in bliss. No fears or doubts as to the future troubled her mind;
she was certain, as I was, that we should never leave each other; and she
told me she would pardon all the infidelities I might be guilty of,
provided I made full confession. Hers, indeed, was a disposition with
which to live in peace and content, but I was not born to enjoy such
happiness.

After we had been a fortnight at Berne, my housekeeper received a letter
from Soleure. It came from Lebel. As I saw she read it with great
attention, I asked her what it was about.

"Take it and read it," said she; and she sat down in front of me to read
my soul by the play of my features.

Lebel asked her, in concise terms, if she would become his wife.

"I have only put off the proposition," said he, "to set my affairs in
order, and to see if I could afford to marry you, even if the consent of
the ambassador were denied us. I find I am rich enough to live well in
Berne or elsewhere without the necessity of my working; however I shall
not have to face the alternative, for at the first hint of the matter M.
de Chavigni gave his consent with the best grace imaginable."

He went on begging her not to keep him long waiting for a reply, and to
tell him in the first place if she consented; in the second, whether she
would like to live at Berne and be mistress in her own house, or whether
she would prefer to return to Soleure and live with the ambassador, which
latter plan might bring them some profit. He ended by declaring that
whatever she had would be for her sole use, and that he would give her a
dower of a hundred thousand francs. He did not say a word about me.

"Dearest," said I, "you are at perfect liberty to choose your own course,
but I cannot contemplate your leaving me without considering myself as
the most unhappy of men."

"And if I lose you I should be the most unhappy of women; for if you love
me I care not whether we are married or no."

"Very good; but what answer are you going to make."

"You shall see my letter to-morrow. I shall tell him politely but plainly
that I love you, that I am yours, that I am happy, and that it is thus
impossible for me to accept his flattering propositions. I shall also say
that I appreciate his generosity, and that if I were wise I should accept
him, but that being the slave of my love for you I can only follow my
inclination."

"I think you give an excellent turn to your letter. In refusing such an
offer you could not have better reasons than those you give, and it would
be absurd to try and persuade him that we are not lovers, as the thing is
self-evident. Nevertheless, my darling, the letter saddens me."

"Why, dearest?"

"Because I have not a hundred thousand francs to offer you."

"I despise them; and if you were to offer me such a sum, I should only
accept it to lay it at your feet. You are certainly not destined to
become miserable, but if that should come to pass, be sure that I should
be only too happy to share your misery."

We fell into one another's arms, and love made us taste all its
pleasures. Nevertheless, in the midst of bliss, some tinge of sadness
gained upon our souls. Languishing love seems to redouble its strength,
but it is only in appearance; sadness exhausts love more than enjoyment.
Love is a madcap who must be fed on laughter and mirth, otherwise he dies
of inanition.

Next day my sweetheart wrote to Lebel in the sense she had decided on,
and I felt obliged to write M. de Chavigni a letter in which love,
sentiment, and philosophy were mingled. I did not conceal from him that I
loved the woman whom Lebel coveted to distraction, but I said that as a
man of honour I would rather die than deprive my sweetheart of such solid
advantages.

My letter delighted the housekeeper, for she was anxious to know what the
ambassador thought of the affair, which needed much reflection.

I got on the same day the letters of introduction I had asked Madame
d'Urfe to give me, and I determined, to the joy of my dear Dubois, to set
out for Lausanne. But we must hark back a little.

When one is sincerely in love, one thinks the beloved object full of
deserts, and the mind, the dupe of the feelings, thinks all the world
jealous of its bliss.

A. M. de F----, member of the Council of the Two Hundred, whom I had met
at Madame de la Saone's, had become my friend. He came to see me and I
introduced him to my dear Dubois, whom he treated with the same
distinction he would have used towards my wife. He had presented us to
his wife, and had come several times to see us with her and her daughter
Sara. Sara was only thirteen, but she was extremely precocious, dark
complexioned, and full of wit; she was continually uttering naivetes, of
which she understood the whole force, although looking at her face one
would have thought her perfectly innocent. She excelled in the art of
making her father and mother believe in her innocence, and thus she
enjoyed plenty of liberty.

Sara had declared that she was in love with my housekeeper, and as her
parents laughed at her she lavished her caresses on my dear Dubois. She
often came to breakfast with us, and when she found us in bed she would
embrace my sweetheart, whom she called her wife, passing her hand over
the coverlet to tickle her, telling her that she was her wife, and that
she wanted to have a child. My sweetheart laughed and let her go on.

One day I told her jokingly that she would make me jealous, that I
thought she really was a man, and that I was going to make sure. The sly
little puss told me that I was making a mistake, but her hand seemed
rather to guide mine than to oppose it. That made me curious, and my mind
was soon set at rest as to her sex. Perceiving that she had taken me in
and got exactly what she wanted, I drew back my hand, and imparted my
suspicions to my housekeeper, who said I was right. However, as the
little girl had no part in my affections, I did not push the thing any
farther.

Two or three days after, this girl came in as I was getting up, and said
in her usual simple way,

"Now that you know I am not really a man you can not be jealous or have
objection to my taking your place beside my little wife, if she will let
me."

My housekeeper, who looked inclined to laugh, said,

"Come along."

In the twinkling of an eye she was undressed and in the arms of her
little wife, whom she proceeded to treat as an amorous husband. My
sweetheart laughed, and Sara, having contrived in the combat to rid
herself of her chemise and the coverlet, displayed herself to me without
any veil, while at the same time she shewed me all the beauties of my
sweetheart. This sight inflamed me. I shut the door, and made the little
hussy witness of my ardour with my sweetheart. Sara looked on
attentively, playing the part of astonishment to perfection, and when I
had finished she said, with the utmost simplicity,

"Do it again:"

"I can't, my dear; don't you see I am a dead man?"

"That's very funny," she cried; and with the most perfect innocence she
came over, and tried to effect my resurrection.

When she had succeeded in placing me in the wished-for condition, she
said, "Now go in;" and I should doubtless have obeyed, but my housekeeper
said, "No, dearest, since you have effected its resurrection, you must
make it die again."

"I should like to," said she, "but I am afraid I have not got enough
room;" and so saying she placed herself in a position to shew me that she
was speaking the truth, and that if she did not make me die it was not
her fault.

Imitating her simplicity I approached her, as if I wished to oblige her,
but not to go too far; but not finding any resistance I accomplished the
act in all its forms, without her giving the slightest evidence of pain,
without any of the accidents of a first trial, but, on the contrary, with
all the marks of the utmost enjoyment.

Although I was sure of the contrary, I kept my self-possession enough to
tell my housekeeper that Sara had given me what can only be given once,
and she pretended to believe me.

When the operation was finished, we had another amusing scene. Sara
begged us not to say a word about it to her papa or mamma, as they would
be sure to scold her as they had scolded her when she got her ears
pierced without asking their leave.

Sara knew that we saw through her feigned simplicity, but she pretended
not to do so as it was to her own advantage. Who could have instructed
her in the arts of deceit?  Nobody; only her natural wit, less rare in
childhood than in youth, but always rare and astonishing. Her mother said
her simplicities shewed that she would one day be very intelligent, and
her father maintained that they were signs of her stupidity. But if Sara
had been stupid, our bursts of laughter would have disconcerted her; and
she would have died for shame, instead of appearing all the better
pleased when her father deplored her stupidity. She would affect
astonishment, and by way of curing one sort of stupidity she corroborated
it by displaying another. She asked us questions to which we could not
reply, and laughed at her instead, although it was evident that before
putting such questions she must have reasoned over them. She might have
rejoined that the stupidity was on our side, but by so doing she would
have betrayed herself.

Lebel did not reply to his sweetheart, but M. de Chavigni wrote me a
letter of four pages. He spoke like a philosopher and an experienced man
of the world.

He shewed me that if I were an old man like him, and able to insure a
happy and independent existence to my sweetheart after my death, I should
do well to keep her from all men, especially as there was so perfect a
sympathy between us; but that as I was a young man, and did not intend to
bind myself to her by the ties of marriage, I should not only consent to
a union which seemed for her happiness, but that as a man of honour it
was my duty to use my influence with her in favour of the match. "With
your experience," said the kind old gentleman, "you ought to know that a
time would come when you would regret both having lost this opportunity,
for your love is sure to become friendship, and then another love will
replace that which you now think as firm as the god Terminus.

"Lebel," he added, "has told me his plans, and far from disapproving, I
have encouraged him, for your charming friend won my entire esteem in the
five or six times I had the pleasure of seeing her with you. I shall be
delighted, therefore, to have her in my house, where I can enjoy her
conversation without transgressing the laws of propriety. Nevertheless,
you will understand that at my age I have formed no desires, for I could
not satisfy them even if their object were propitious." He ended by
telling me that Lebel had not fallen in love in a young man's style, that
he had reflected on what he was doing, and that he would consequently not
hurry her, as she would see in the letter he was going to send her. A
marriage ought always to be undertaken in cold blood.

I gave the letter to my housekeeper, who read it attentively, and gave it
back to me quite coolly.

"What do you think of his advice, dearest?"

"I think I had better follow it: he says there is no hurry, and delay is
all we want. Let us love each other and think only of that. This letter
is written with great wisdom, but I cannot imagine our becoming
indifferent to each other, though I know such a thing is possible."

"Never indifferent; you make a mistake there."

"Well, friends, then; and that is not much better after being lovers."

"But friendship, dearest, is never indifferent. Love, it is true, may be
in its composition. We know it, as it has been thus from the beginning of
the world."

"Then the ambassador was right. Repentance might come and torment us when
love had been replaced by calmer friendship."

"If you think so, let us marry each other to-morrow, and punish thereby
the vices of our human nature."

"Yes, we will marry, but there is no hurry; fearing lest hymen should
quicken the departure of love, let us enjoy our happiness while we can."

"You speak admirably, my angel, and deserve the greatest good fortune."

"I wish for no greater than what you procure me."

We went to bed, continuing our discussions, and when we were in each
other's arms we made an arrangement which suited us very well.

"Lausanne," said she, "is a little town where you would meet with the
warmest hospitality, and during your fortnight's stay you will have
nothing to do but to make visits and to go to suppers. I am known to all
the nobility, and the Duke of Rosebury, who wearied me with his
love-making, is still there. My appearance with you will make everybody
talk, and it will be as annoying for you as for me. My mother lives
there, too. She would say nothing, but in her heart she would be
ill-pleased to see me as the housekeeper of a man like you, for common
sense would inform everyone that I was your mistress."

I thought she was right, and that it would be well to respect the rules
of society. We decided that she should go to Lausanne by herself and stay
with her mother, that in two or three days I should follow her, and
should live by myself, as long as I liked, having full liberty to see her
at her mother's.

"When you leave Lausanne," said she, "I will rejoin you at Geneva, and
then we will travel together where you please and as long as our love
lasts."

In two days she started early in the morning, sure of my constancy, and
congratulating herself on her discretion. I was sad at her leaving me,
but my calls to take leave served to rouse me from my grief. I wished to
make M. Haller's acquaintance before I left Switzerland, and the mayor,
M. de Muralt, gave me a letter of introduction to him very handsomely
expressed. M. de Haller was the bailiff of Roche.

When I called to take leave of Madame de la Saone I found her in bed, and
I was obliged to remain by her bedside for a quarter of an hour. She
spoke of her disease, and gave the conversation such a turn that she was
able with perfect propriety to let me see that the ravages of the disease
had not impaired the beauty of her body. The sight convinced me that
Mignard had need of less courage than I thought, and I was within an inch
of doing her the same service. It was easy enough to look only at her
body, and it would have been difficult to behold anything more beautiful.

I know well that prudes and hypocrites, if they ever read these Memoirs,
will be scandalized at the poor lady, but in shewing her person so
readily she avenged herself on the malady which had disfigured her.
Perhaps, too, her goodness of heart and politeness told her what a trial
it was to look at her face, and she wished to indemnify the man who
disguised his feelings of repugnance by shewing him what gifts nature had
given her. I am sure, ladies, that the most prudish--nay, the most
virtuous, amongst you, if you were unfortunate enough to be so
monstrously deformed in the face, would introduce some fashion which
would conceal your ugliness, and display those beauties which custom
hides from view. And doubtless Madame de la Saone would have been more
chary of her person if she had been able to enchant with her face like
you.

The day I left I dined with M---- I----, and was severely taken to task by
pretty Sara for having sent her little wife away before me. The reader
will see how I met her again at London three years later. Le Duc was
still in the doctor's hands, and very weak; but I made him go with me, as
I had a good deal of property, and I could not trust it to anybody else.

I left Berne feeling naturally very sad. I had been happy there, and to
this day the thought of it is a pleasant one.

I had to consult Dr. Herrenschwand about Madame d'Urfe, so I stopped at
Morat, where he lived, and which is only four leagues from Berne. The
doctor made me dine with him that I might try the fish of the lake, which
I found delicious. I had intended to go on directly after dinner, but I
was delayed by a curiosity of which I shall inform the reader.

After I had given the doctor a fee of two Louis for his advice, in
writing, on a case of tapeworm, he made me walk with him by the Avanches
road, and we went as far as the famous mortuary of Morat.

"This mortuary," said the doctor, "was constructed with part of the bones
of the Burgundians, who perished here at the well-known battle lost by
Charles the Bold."

The Latin inscription made me laugh.

"This inscription," said I, "contains an insulting jest; it is almost
burlesque, for the gravity of an inscription should not allow of
laughter."

The doctor, like a patriotic Swiss, would not allow it, but I think it
was false shame on his part. The inscription ran as follows, and the
impartial reader can judge of its nature:

   "Deo. opt. Max. Caroli inclyti et fortisimi Burgundie duds
   exercitus Muratum obsidens, ab Helvetiis cesus, hoc sui
   monumentum reliquit anno MCDLXXVI."

Till then I had had a great idea of Morat. Its fame of seven centuries,
three sieges sustained and repulsed, all had given me a sublime notion of
it; I expected to see something and saw nothing.

"Then Morat has been razed to the ground?" said I to the doctor.

"Not at all, it is as it always has been, or nearly so."

I concluded that a man who wants to be well informed should read first
and then correct his knowledge by travel. To know ill is worse than not
to know at all, and Montaigne says that we ought to know things well.

But it was the following comic adventure which made me spend the night at
Morat:

I found at the inn a young maid who spoke a sort of rustic Italian. She
struck me by her great likeness to my fair stocking-seller at Paris. She
was called Raton, a name which my memory has happily preserved. I offered
her six francs for her favours, but she refused the money with a sort of
pride, telling me that I had made a mistake and that she was an honest
girl.

"It may be so," said I, and I ordered my horses to be put in. When the
honest Raton saw me on the point of leaving, she said, with an air that
was at once gay and timid, that she wanted two louis, and if I liked to
give her them and pass the night with her I should be well content.

"I will stay, but remember to be kind."

"I will."

When everybody had gone to bed, she came into my room with a little
frightened manner, calculated to redouble my ardour, but by great good
luck, feeling I had a necessity, I took the light and ran to the place
where I could satisfy it. While there I amused myself by reading
innumerable follies one finds written in such places, and suddenly my
eyes lighted on these words:--

"This tenth day of August, 1760, the wretched Raton gave me the
what-d'-you-call-it: reader, beware."

I was almost tempted to believe in miracles, for I could not think there
were two Ratons in the same house. I returned gaily to my room and found
my sweetheart in bed without her chemise. I went to the place beside the
bed where she had thrown it down, and as soon as she saw me touching it
she begged me in a fright not to do so, as it was not clean. She was
right, for it bore numerous marks of the disease which infected her. It
may be imagined that my passion cooled, and that I sent her away in a
moment; but I felt at the same time the greatest gratitude to what is
called chance, for I should have never thought of examining a girl whose
face was all lilies and roses, and who could not be more than eighteen.

Next day I went to Roche to see the celebrated Haller.



CHAPTER XVIII

M. Haller--My Stay at Lausanne--Lord Rosebury--The Young
Saconai--Dissertation on Beauty--The Young Theologian

M. Haller was a man six feet high and broad in a proportion; he was a
well-made man, and a physical as well as a mental colossus. He received
me courteously, and when he had read M. de Muralt's letter, he displayed
the greatest politeness, which shews that a good letter of introduction
is never out of place. This learned man displayed to me all the treasures
of his knowledge, replying with exactitude to all my questions, and above
all with a rare modesty which astonished me greatly, for whilst he
explained the most difficult questions, he had the air of a scholar who
would fain know; but on the other hand, when he asked me a scientific
question, it was with so delicate an art that I could not help giving the
right answer.

M. de Haller was a great physiologist, a great doctor, and a great
anatomist. He called Morgagni his master, though he had himself made
numerous discoveries relating to the frame of man. While I stayed with
him he shewed me a number of letters from Morgagni and Pontedera, a
professor of botany, a science of which Haller had an extensive
knowledge. Hearing me speak of these learned men whose works I had read
at an early age, he complained that Pontedera's letters were almost
illegible and written in extremely obscure Latin. He shewed me a letter
from a Berlin Academician, whose name I have forgotten, who said that
since the king had read his letter he had no more thoughts of suppressing
the Latin language. Haller had written to Frederick the Great that a
monarch who succeeded in the unhappy enterprise of proscribing the
language of Cicero and Virgil from the republic of letters would raise a
deathless monument to his own ignorance. If men of letters require a
universal language to communicate with one another, Latin is certainly
the best, for Greek and Arabic do not adapt themselves in the same way to
the genius of modern civilization.

Haller was a good poet of the Pindaric kind; he was also an excellent
statesman, and had rendered great services to his country. His morals
were irreproachable, and I remember his telling me that the only way to
give precepts was to do so by example. As a good citizen he was an
admirable paterfamilias, for what greater proof could he give of his love
of country than by presenting it with worthy subjects in his children,
and such subjects result from a good education. His wife was still young,
and bore on her features the marks of good nature and discretion. He had
a charming daughter of about eighteen; her appearance was modest, and at
table she only opened her mouth to speak in a low tone to a young man who
sat beside her. After dinner, finding myself alone with M. Haller, I
asked him who this young man was. He told me he was his daughter's tutor.

"A tutor like that and so pretty a pupil might easily become lovers."

"Yes, please God."

This Socratic reply made me see how misplaced my remark had been, and I
felt some confusion. Finding a book to my hand I opened it to restore my
composure.

It was an octavo volume of his works, and I read in it:

"Utrum memoria post mortem dubito."

"You do not think, then," said I, "that the memory is an essential part
of the soul?"

"How is that question to be answered?" M. de Haller replied, cautiously,
as he had his reasons for being considered orthodox.

During dinner I asked if M. de Voltaire came often to see him. By way of
reply he repeated these lines of the poet:--

"Vetabo qui Cereris sacrum vulgarit arcanum sub usdem sit trabibus."

I spent three days with this celebrated man, but I thought myself obliged
to refrain from asking his opinion on any religious questions, although I
had a great desire to do so, as it would have pleased me to have had his
opinion on that delicate subject; but I believe that in matters of that
kind M. Haller judged only by his heart. I told him, however, that I
should consider a visit to Voltaire as a great event, and he said I was
right. He added, without the slightest bitterness,

"M. de Voltaire is a man who ought to be known, although, in spite of the
laws of nature, many persons have found him greater at a distance than
close at hand."

M. de Haller kept a good and abundant though plain table; he only drank
water. At dessert only he allowed himself a small glass of liqueur
drowned in an enormous glass of water. He talked a great deal of
Boerhaave, whose favourite pupil he had been. He said that after
Hypocrates, Boerhaave was the greatest doctor and the greatest chemist
that had ever existed.

"How is it," said I, "that he did not attain mature age?"

"Because there is no cure for death. Boerhaave was born a doctor, as
Homer was born a poet; otherwise he would have succumbed at the age of
fourteen to a malignant ulcer which had resisted all the best treatment
of the day. He cured it himself by rubbing it constantly with salt
dissolved in his own urine."

"I have been told that he possessed the philosopher's stone."

"Yes, but I don't believe it."

"Do you think it possible?"

"I have been working for the last thirty years to convince myself of its
impossibility; I have not yet done so, but I am sure that no one who does
not believe in the possibility of the great work can be a good chemist."

When I left him he begged me to write and tell him what I thought of the
great Voltaire, and in, this way our French correspondence began. I
possess twenty-two letters from this justly celebrated man; and the last
word written six months before, his too, early death. The longer I live
the more interest I take in my papers. They are the treasure which
attaches me to life and makes death more hateful still.

I had been reading at Berne Rousseau's "Heloise," and I asked M. Haller's
opinion of it. He told me that he had once read part of it to oblige a
friend, and from this part he could judge of the whole. "It is the worst
of all romances, because it is the most eloquently expressed. You will
see the country of Vaud, but don't expect to see the originals of the
brilliant portraits which Jean Jacques painted. He seems to have thought
that lying was allowable in a romance, but he has abused the privilege.
Petrarch, was a learned man, and told no lies in speaking of his love for
Laura, whom he loved as every man loves the woman with whom he is taken;
and if Laura had not contented her illustrious lover, he would not have
celebrated her."

Thus Haller spoke to me of Petrarch, mentioning Rousseau with aversion.
He disliked his very eloquence, as he said it owed all its merits to
antithesis and paradox. Haller was a learned man of the first class, but
his knowledge was not employed for the purpose of ostentation, nor in
private life, nor when he was in the company of people who did not care
for science. No one knew better than he how to accommodate himself to his
company he was friendly with everyone, and never gave offence. But what
were his qualifications? It would be much easier to say what he had not
than what he had. He had no pride, self-sufficiency, nor tone of
superiority--in fact, none of those defects which are often the reproach
of the learned and the witty.

He was a man of austere virtue, but he took care to hide the austerity
under a veil of a real and universal kindness. Undoubtedly he thought
little of the ignorant, who talk about everything right or wrong, instead
of remaining silent, and have at bottom only contempt for the learned;
but he only shewed his contempt by saying nothing. He knew that a
despised ignoramus becomes an enemy, and Haller wished to be loved. He
neither boasted of nor concealed his knowledge, but let it run like a
limpid stream flowing through the meadows. He talked well, but never
absorbed the conversation. He never spoke of his works; when someone
mentioned them he would turn the conversation as soon as he conveniently
could. He was sorry to be obliged to contradict anyone who conversed with
him.

When I reached Lausanne I found myself enabled to retain my incognito for
a day at any rate. I naturally gave the first place to my affections. I
went straight to my sweetheart without needing to ask my way, so well had
she indicated the streets through which I had to pass. I found her with
her mother, but I was not a little astonished to see Lebel there also.
However, my surprise must have passed unnoticed, for my housekeeper,
rising from her seat with a cry of joy, threw her arms about my neck, and
after having kissed me affectionately presented me to her worthy mother,
who welcomed me in the friendliest manner. I asked Lebel after the
ambassador, and how long he had been at Lausanne.

He replied, with a polite and respectful air, that his master was quite
well, and that he had come to Lausanne on business, and had only been
there a few hours; and that, wishing to pay his regards to Madame
Dubois's mother, he had been pleasantly surprised to see the daughter
there as well.

"You know," he added, "what my intentions are. I have to go back
to-morrow, and when you have made up your minds, write to me and I will
come and take her to Soleure, where I will marry her."

He could not have spoken more plainly or honourably. I said that I would
never oppose the will of my sweetheart, and my Dubois, interrupting me,
said in her turn that she would never leave me until I sent her away.

Lebel found these replies too vague, and told me with noble freedom that
we must give him a definite reply, since in such cases uncertainty spoils
all. At that moment I felt as if I could never agree to his wishes, and I
told him that in ten days I would let him know of our resolution,
whatever it was. At that he was satisfied, and left us.

After his departure my sweetheart's mother, whose good sense stood her
instead of wit, talked to us in a manner that answered our inclinations,
for, amorous as we were, we could not bear the idea of parting. I agreed
that my housekeeper should wait up for me till midnight, and that we
could talk over our reply with our heads on the pillow.

My Dubois had a separate room with a good bed and excellent furniture.
She gave me a very good supper, and we spent a delicious night. In the
morning we felt more in love than ever, and were not at all disposed to
comply with Lebel's wishes. Nevertheless, we had a serious conversation.

The reader will remember that my mistress had promised to pardon my
infidelities, provided that I confessed them. I had none to confess, but
in the course of conversation I told her about Raton.

"We ought to think ourselves very fortunate," said she, "for if it had
not been for chance, we should have been in a fine state now."

"Yes, and I should be in despair."

"I don't doubt it, and you would be all the more wretched as I should
never complain to you."

"I only see one way of providing against such a misfortune. When I have
been unfaithful to you I will punish myself by depriving myself of the
pleasure of giving you proofs of my affection till I am certain that I
can do so without danger."

"Ah! you would punish me for your faults, would you?  If you love me as I
love you, believe me you would find a better remedy than that."

"What is that?"

"You would never be unfaithful to me."

"You are right. I am sorry I was not the first to think of this plan,
which I promise to follow for the future."

"Don't make any promises," said she, with a sigh, "it might prove too
difficult to keep them."

It is only love which can inspire such conversations, but unfortunately
it gains nothing by them.

Next morning, just as I was going out to take my letters, the Baron de
Bercei, uncle of my friend Bavois, entered.

"I know," said he, "that my nephew owes his fortune to you; he is just
going to be made general, and I and all the family will be enchanted to
make your acquaintance. I have come to offer my services, and to beg that
you will dine with me to-day, and on any other day you please when you
have nothing better to do, and I hope you will always consider yourself
of the family.

"At the same time I beg of you not to tell anybody that my nephew has
become a Catholic, as according to the prejudices of the country it would
be a dishonour which would reflect on the whole family."

I accepted his invitation, and promised to say nothing about the
circumstance he had mentioned.

I left my letters of introduction, and I received everywhere a welcome of
the most distinguished kind. Madame de Gentil-Langalerie appeared the
most amiable of all the ladies I called on, but I had not time to pay my
court to one more than another. Every day politeness called me to some
dinner, supper, ball, or assembly. I was bored beyond measure, and I felt
inclined to say how troublesome it is to have such a welcome. I spent a
fortnight in the little town, where everyone prides himself on his
liberty, and in all my life I have never experienced such a slavery, for
I had not a moment to myself. I was only able to pass one night with my
sweetheart, and I longed to set off with her for Geneva. Everybody would
give me letters of introduction for M. de Voltaire, and by their
eagerness one would have thought the great man beloved, whereas all
detested him on account of his sarcastic humour.

"What, ladies!" said I, "is not M. de Voltaire good-natured, polite, and
affable to you who have been kind enough to act in his plays with him?"

"Not in the least. When he hears us rehearse he grumbles all the time. We
never say a thing to please him: here it is a bad pronunciation, there a
tone not sufficiently passionate, sometimes one speaks too softly,
sometimes too loudly; and it's worse when we are acting. What a hubbub
there is if one add a syllable, or if some carelessness spoil one of his
verses. He frightens us. So and so laughed badly; so and so in Alzire had
only pretended to weep."

"Does he want you to weep really?"

"Certainly. He will have real tears. He says that if an actor wants to
draw tears he must shed them himself."

"I think he is right there; but he should not be so severe with amateurs,
above all with charming actresses like you. Such perfection is only to be
looked for from professionals, but all authors are the same. They never
think that the actor has pronounced the words with the force which the
sense, as they see it, requires."

"I told him, one day, that it was not my fault if his lines had not the
proper force."

"I am sure he laughed."

"Laughed?  No, sneered, for he is a rude and impertinent man."

"But I suppose you overlook all these failings?"

"Not at all; we have sent him about his business."

"Sent him about his business?"

"Yes. He left the house he had rented here, at short notice, and retired
to where you will find him now. He never comes to see us now, even if we
ask him."

"Oh, you do ask him, though you sent him about his business?"

"We cannot deprive ourselves of the pleasure of admiring his talents, and
if we have teased him, that was only from revenge, and to teach him
something of the manners of good society."

"You have given a lesson to a great master."

"Yes; but when you see him mention Lausanne, and see what he will say of
us. But he will say it laughingly, that's his way."

During my stay I often saw Lord Rosebury, who had vainly courted my
charming Dubois. I have never known a young man more disposed to silence.
I have been told that he had wit, that he was well educated, and even in
high spirits at times, but he could not get over his shyness, which gave
him an almost indefinable air of stupidity. At balls, assemblies--in
fact, everywhere, his manners consisted of innumerable bows. When one
spoke to him, he replied in good French but with the fewest possible
words, and his shy manner shewed that every question was a trouble to
him. One day when I was dining with him, I asked him some question about
his country, which required five or six small phrases by way of answer.
He gave me an excellent reply, but blushed all the time like a young girl
when she comes out. The celebrated Fox who was then twenty, and was at
the same dinner, succeeded in making him laugh, but it was by saying
something in English, which I did not understand in the least. Eight
months after I saw him again at Turin, he was then amorous of a banker's
wife, who was able to untie his tongue.

At Lausanne I saw a young girl of eleven or twelve by whose beauty I was
exceedingly struck. She was the daughter of Madame de Saconai, whom I had
known at Berne. I do not know her after history, but the impression she
made on me has never been effaced. Nothing in nature has ever exercised
such a powerful influence over me as a pretty face, even if it be a
child's.

The Beautiful, as I have been told, is endowed with this power of
attraction; and I would fain believe it, since that which attracts me is
necessarily beautiful in my eyes, but is it so in reality?  I doubt it,
as that which has influenced me has not influenced others. The universal
or perfect beauty does not exist, or it does not possess this power. All
who have discussed the subject have hesitated to pronounce upon it, which
they would not have done if they had kept to the idea of form. According
to my ideas, beauty is only form, for that which is not beautiful is that
which has no form, and the deformed is the opposite of the 'pulchrum' and
'formosum'.

We are right to seek for the definitions of things, but when we have them
to hand in the words; why should we go farther?  If the word 'forma' is
Latin, we should seek for the Latin meaning and not the French, which,
however, often uses 'deforme' or 'difforme' instead of 'laid', ugly,
without people's noticing that its opposite should be a word which
implies the existence of form; and this can only be beauty. We should
note that 'informe' in French as well as in Latin means shapeless, a body
without any definite appearance.

We will conclude, then, that it is the beauty of woman which has always
exercised an irresistible sway over me, and more especially that beauty
which resides in the face. It is there the power lies, and so true is
that, that the sphinxes of Rome and Versailles almost make me fall in
love with them though, the face excepted, they are deformed in every
sense of the word. In looking at the fine proportions of their faces one
forgets their deformed bodies. What, then, is beauty?  We know not; and
when we attempt to define it or to enumerate its qualities we become like
Socrates, we hesitate. The only thing that our minds can seize is the
effect produced by it, and that which charms, ravishes, and makes me in
love, I call beauty. It is something that can be seen with the eyes, and
for my eyes I speak. If they had a voice they would speak better than I,
but probably in the same sense.

No painter has surpassed Raphael in the beauty of the figures which his
divine pencil produced; but if this great painter had been asked what
beauty was, he would probably have replied that he could not say, that he
knew it by heart, and that he thought he had reproduced it whenever he
had seen it, but that he did not know in what it consisted.

"That face pleases me," he would say, "it is therefore beautiful!"

He ought to have thanked God for having given him such an exquisite eye
for the beautiful; but 'omne pulchrum difficile'.

The painters of high renown, all those whose works proclaim genius, have
excelled in the delineation of the beautiful; but how small is their
number compared to the vast craved who have strained every nerve to
depict beauty and have only left us mediocrity!

If a painter could be dispensed from making his works beautiful, every
man might be an artist; for nothing is easier than to fashion ugliness,
and brush and canvas would be as easy to handle as mortar and trowel.

Although portrait-painting is the most important branch of the art, it is
to be noted that those who have succeeded in this line are very few.
There are three kinds of portraits: ugly likenesses, perfect likenesses,
and those which to a perfect likeness add an almost imperceptible
character of beauty. The first class is worthy only of contempt and their
authors of stoning, for to want of taste and talent they add
impertinence, and yet never seem to see their failings. The second class
cannot be denied to possess real merit; but the palm belongs to the
third, which, unfortunately, are seldom found, and whose authors deserve
the large fortunes they amass. Such was the famous Notier, whom I knew in
Paris in the year 1750. This great artist was then eighty, and in spite
of his great age his talents seemed in all their freshness. He painted a
plain woman; it was a speaking likeness, and in spite of that those who
only saw the portrait pronounced her to be a handsome woman.
Nevertheless, the most minute examination would not have revealed any
faithlessness to the original, but some imperceptible touches gave a real
but indefinite air of beauty to the whole. Whence does that magic art
take its source?  One day, when he had been painting the plain-looking
"Mesdames de France," who on the canvas looked like two Aspasias, I asked
him the above question. He answered:--

"It is a magic which the god of taste distils from my brains through my
brushes. It is the divinity of Beauty whom all the world adores, and
which no one can define, since no one knows of what it consists. That
canvas shews you what a delicate shade there is between beauty and
ugliness; and nevertheless this shade seems an enormous difference to
those unacquainted with art."

The Greek painters made Venus, the goddess of beauty, squint-eyed, and
this odd idea has been praised by some; but these painters were certainly
in the wrong.

Two squinting eyes might be beautiful, but certainly not so beautiful as
if they did not squint, for whatever beauty they had could not proceed
from their deformity.

After this long digression, with which the reader may not be very well
pleased, it is time for me to return to my sweetheart. The tenth day of
my visit to Lausanne, I went to sup and sleep with my mistress, and that
night was the happiest I remember. In the morning, while we were taking
coffee with her mother, I observed that we seemed in no hurry to part. At
this, the mother, a woman of few words, took up the discourse in a polite
and dignified manner, and told me it was my duty to undeceive Lebel
before I left; and at the same time she gave me a letter she had had from
him the evening before. The worthy man begged her to remind me that if I
could not make up my mind to separate from her daughter before I left
Lausanne, it would be much more difficult for me to do so when I was
farther off; above all, if, as would probably be the case, she gave me a
living pledge of her love. He said that he had no thoughts of drawing
back from his word, but he should wish to be able to say that he had
taken his wife from her mother's hands.

When I had read the letter aloud, the worthy mother wept, and left us
alone. A moment's silence ensued, and with a sigh that shewed what it
cost her, my dear Dubois had the courage to tell me that I must instantly
write to Lebel to give up all pretensions to her, or to come and take her
at once.

"If I write and tell him to think no more of you, I must marry you
myself."

"No."

With this no she arose and left me. I thought it over for a quarter of an
hour, I weighed the pros and cons and still my love shrank from the
sacrifice. At last, on consideration that my housekeeper would never have
such a chance again, that I was not sure that I could always make her
happy, I resolved to be generous, and determined to write to Lebel that
Madame Dubois had decided of her own free will to become his wife, that I
had no right to oppose her resolution, and that I would go so far as to
congratulate him on a happiness I envied him. I begged him to leave
Soleure at once and come and receive her in my presence from the hands of
her worthy mother.

I signed the letter and took it to my housekeeper, who was in her
mother's room. "Take this letter, dearest, and read it, and if you
approve its contents put your signature beside mine." She read it several
times, while her good mother wept, and then, with an affectionate and
sorrowful air, she took the pen and signed. I begged her mother to find
somebody to take the letter to Soleure immediately, before my resolution
was weakened by repentance.

The messenger came, and as soon as he had gone, "Farewell," said I,
embracing her, with my eyes wet with tears, "farewell, we shall see each
other again as soon as Lebel comes."

I went to my inn, a prey to the deepest grief. This sacrifice had given a
new impetus to my love for this charming woman, and I felt a sort of
spasm, which made me afraid I should get ill. I shut myself up in my
room, and I ordered the servants to say I was unwell and could see no
one.

In the evening of the fourth day after, Lebel was announced. He embraced
me, saying his happiness would be due to me. He then left me, telling me
he would expect me at the house of his future bride.

"Excuse me to-day, my dear fellow," said I, "but I will dine with you
there to-morrow."

When he had left me, I told Le Duc to make all preparations for our
leaving the next day after dinner.

I went out early on the following day to take leave of everybody, and at
noon Lebel came to take me to that sad repast, at which, however, I was
not so sad as I had feared.

As I was leaving I begged the future Madame Lebel to return me the ring I
had given her, and as we had agreed, I presented her with a roll of a
hundred Louis, which she took with a melancholy air.

"I should never have sold it," she said, "for I have no need of money."

"In that case I will give it back to you, but promise me never to part
with it, and keep the hundred Louis as some small reward of the services
you have rendered me."

She shook my hand affectionately, put on my finger her wedding ring, and
left me to hide her grief. I wiped my tears away, and said to Lebel,

"You are about to possess yourself of a treasure which I cannot commend
too highly. You are a man of honour; you will appreciate her excellent
qualities, and you will know how to make her happy. She will love you
only, take care of your household, and keep no secrets from you. She is
full of wit and spirits, and will easily disperse the slightest shadow of
ill humour which may fall on you."

I went in with him to the mother's room to take leave of her, and Madame
Dubois begged me to delay my departure and sup once more with her. I told
her that my horses were put in and the carriage waiting at my door, and
that such a delay would set tongues talking; but that if she liked, she,
her future husband and her mother, could come and see me at an inn two
leagues off on the Geneva road, where we could stay as long as we liked.
Lebel approved of the plan, and my proposition was accepted.

When I got back to my inn I found my carriage ready, and I got in and
drove to the meeting-place, and ordered a good supper for four, and an
hour later my guests arrived.

The gay and even happy air of the newly betrothed surprised me, but what
astonished me more was the easy way with which she threw herself into my
arms as soon as she saw me. It put me quite out of countenance, but she
had more wit than I. However, I mustered up sufficient strength to follow
her cue, but I could not help thinking that if she had really loved me
she would not have found it possible to pass thus from love to mere
friendship. However, I imitated her, and made no objections to those
marks of affection allowed to friendship, which are supposed to have no
tincture of love in them.

At supper I thought I saw that Lebel was more delighted at having such a
wife than at the prospect of enjoying her and satisfying a strong
passion. That calmed me; I could not be jealous of a man like that. I
perceived, too, that my sweetheart's high spirits were more feigned than
real; she wished to make me share them so as to render our separation
less bitter, and to tranquillise her future husband as to the nature of
our feelings for one another. And when reason and time had quieted the
tempest in my heart, I could not help thinking it very natural that she
should be pleased at the prospect of being independent, and of enjoying a
fortune.

We made an excellent supper, which we washed down so well that at last
the gaiety which had been simulated ended by being real. I looked at the
charming Dubois with pleasure; I regarded her as a treasure which had
belonged to me, and which after making me happy was with my full consent
about to ensure the happiness of another. It seemed to me that I had been
magnanimous enough to give her the reward she deserved, like a good
Mussulman who gives a favourite slave his freedom in return for his
fidelity. Her sallies made me laugh and recalled the happy moments I had
passed with her, but the idea of her happiness prevented my regretting
having yielded my rights to another.

As Lebel was obliged to return to Lausanne in order to get back to
Soleure in two days, we had to part. I embraced him and asked him to
continue his friendship towards me, and he promised with great effusion
to be my friend till death. As we were going down the stair, my charming
friend said, with great candour,

"I am not really gay, but I oblige myself to appear so. I shall not be
happy till the scar on my heart has healed. Lebel can only claim my
esteem, but I shall be his alone though my love be all for you. When we
see each other again, as from what you say I hope we shall, we shall be
able to meet as true friends, and perhaps we shall congratulate each
other on the wise part we have taken. As for you, though I do not think
you will forget me, I am sure that before long some more or less worthy
object will replace me and banish your sorrow. I hope it will be so. Be
happy. I may be with child; and if it prove to be so, you shall have no
cause to complain of my care of your child, which you shall take away
when you please. We made an agreement on this point yesterday. We
arranged that the marriage should not be consummated for two months; thus
we shall be certain whether the child belongs to you or no, and we will
let people think that it is the legitimate offspring of our marriage.
Lebel conceived this plan that he might have his mind at rest on the
supposed force of blood, in which he declares he believes no more than I
do. He has promised to love the child as if he were its father. If you
write to me, I will keep you acquainted with everything; and if I have
the happiness to give you a child, it will be much dearer to me than your
ring."

We wept, and Lebel laughed to see us.

I could only reply by pressing her to my breast, and then I gave her over
to her future husband, who told me as he got into the carriage that our
long talk had pleased him very much.

I went to bed sadly enough. Next morning when I awoke, a pastor of the
Church of Geneva came to ask me to give him a place in my carriage. I
agreed, and was not sorry I had done so.

This priest was an eloquent man, although a theologian, who answered the
most difficult religious questions I could put to him. There was no
mystery with him, everything was reason. I have never found a more
compliant Christianity than that of this worthy man, whose morals, as I
heard afterwards at Geneva, were perfectly pure. But I found out that
this kind of Christianity was not peculiar to him, all his
fellow-Calvinists thought in the same way.

Wishing to convince him that he was a Calvinist in name only, since he
did not believe that Jesus Christ was of the same substance as the
Father, he replied that Calvin was only infallible where he spoke 'ex
cathedra', but I struck him dumb by quoting the words of the Gospel. He
blushed when I reproached him with Calvin's belief that the Pope was the
Antichrist of the Apocalypse.

"It will be impossible to destroy this prejudice at Geneva," said he,
"till the Government orders the effacement of an inscription on the
church door which everybody reads, and which speaks of the head of the
Roman Church in this manner."

"The people," he added, "are wholly ignorant; but I have a niece of
twenty, who does not belong to the people in this way. I shall have the
honour of making you known to her; she is a theologian, and pretty as
well."

"I shall be delighted to see her, but God preserve me from arguing with
her!"

"She will make you argue, and I can assure you that it will be a pleasure
for you!"

"We shall see; but will you give me your address?"

"No sir, but I shall have the honour of conducting you to your inn and
acting as your guide."

I got down at Balances, and was well lodged. It was the 20th of August,
1760. On going to the window I noticed a pane of glass on which I read
these words, written with the point of a diamond: "You will forget
Henriette." In a moment my thoughts flew back to the time in which
Henriette had written these words, thirteen years ago, and my hair stood
on end. We had been lodged in this room when she separated from me to
return to France. I was overwhelmed, and fell on a chair where I
abandoned myself to deep thought. Noble Henriette, dear Henriette, whom I
had loved so well; where was she now?  I had never heard of her; I had
never asked anyone about her. Comparing my present and past estates, I
was obliged to confess that I was less worthy of possessing her now than
then. I could still love, but I was no longer so delicate in my thoughts;
I had not those feelings which justify the faults committed by the
senses, nor that probity which serves as a contrast to the follies and
frailties of man; but, what was worst of all, I was not so strong.
Nevertheless, it seemed that the remembrance of Henriette restored me to
my pristine vigour. I had no longer my housekeeper; I experienced a great
void; and I felt so enthusiastic that if I had known where Henriette was
I should have gone to seek her out, despite her prohibition.

Next day, at an early hour, I went to the banker Tronchin, who had all my
money. After seeing my account, he gave me a letter of credit on
Marseilles, Genoa, Florence and Rome, and I only took twelve thousand
francs in cash. I had only fifty thousand crowns, three hundred francs,
but that would take me a good way. As soon as I had delivered my letters,
I returned to Balances, impatient to see M. de Voltaire.

I found my fellow-traveller in my room. He asked me to dinner, telling me
that I should have M. Vilars-Chandieu, who would take me after dinner to
M. de Voltaire, who had been expecting me for several days. I followed
the worthy man, and found at his house excellent company, and the young
theologian whom the uncle did not address till dessert.

I will endeavour to report as faithfully as possible the young woman's
conversation.

"What have you been doing this morning, my dear niece?"

"I have been reading St. Augustine, whom I thought absurd, and I think I
can refute him very shortly."

"On what point?"

"Concerning the mother of the Saviour."

"What does St. Augustine say?"

"You have no doubt remarked the passage, uncle. He says that the Virgin
Mary conceived Jesus Christ through the ears."

"You do not believe that?"

"Certainly not, and for three good reasons. In the first place because
God, being immaterial, had no need of a hole to go in or come out by; in
the second place, because the ear has no connection with the womb; and in
the third place, because Mary, if she had conceived by the ear, would
have given birth by the same channel. This would do well enough for the
Catholics," said she, giving me a glance, "as then they would be
reasonable in calling her a virgin before her conception, during her
pregnancy, and after she had given birth to the child."

I was extremely astonished, and my astonishment was shared by the other
guests. Divine theology rises above all fleshly considerations, and after
what we had heard we had either to allow her this privilege, or to
consider the young theologian as a woman without shame. The learned niece
did not seem to care what we thought, as she asked for my opinion on the
matter.

"If I were a theologian and allowed myself an exact examination into the
miracles, it is possible I should be of your opinion; but as this is by
no means the case, I must limit myself to condemning St. Augustine for
having analysed the mystery of the Annunciation. I may say, however, that
if the Virgin had been deaf, St. Augustine would have been guilty of a
manifest absurdity, since the Incarnation would have been an
impossibility, as in that case the nerves of the ear would have had no
sort of communication with the womb, and the process would have been
inconceivable; but the Incarnation is a miracle."

She replied with great politeness that I had shown myself a greater
theologian than she, and her uncle thanked me for having given her a
lesson. He made her discuss various subjects, but she did not shine. Her
only subject was the New Testament. I shall have occasion to speak of
this young woman when I get back to Geneva.

After dinner we went to see Voltaire, who was just leaving the table as
we came in. He was in the middle of a court of gentlemen and ladies,
which made my introduction a solemn one; but with this great man
solemnity could not fail to be in my favour.





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