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Title: Memoirs of Casanova — Volume 19: Back Again to Paris
Author: Casanova, Giacomo, 1725-1798
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798

ADVENTURES IN THE SOUTH, Volume 4d--BACK AGAIN TO PARIS

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



BACK AGAIN TO PARIS



CHAPTER XIII

My Stay at Paris and My Departure for Strasburg, Where I Find the
Renaud--My Misfortunes at Munich and My Sad Visit to Augsburg

At ten o'clock in the morning, cheered by the pleasant feeling of being
once more in that Paris which is so imperfect, but which is the only true
town in the world, I called on my dear Madame d'Urfe, who received me
with open arms. She told me that the young Count d'Aranda was quite well,
and if I liked she would ask him to dinner the next day. I told her I
should be delighted to see him, and then I informed her that the
operation by which she was to become a man could not be performed till
Querilinto, one of the three chiefs of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross,
was liberated from the dungeons of the Inquisition, at Lisbon.

"This is the reason," I added, "that I am going to Augsburg in the course
of next month, where I shall confer with the Earl of Stormont as to the
liberation of the adept, under the pretext of a mission from the
Portuguese Government. For these purposes I shall require a good letter
of credit, and some watches and snuff-boxes to make presents with, as we
shall have to win over certain of the profane."

"I will gladly see to all that, but you need not hurry yourself as the
Congress will not meet till September."

"Believe me, it will never meet at all, but the ambassadors of the
belligerent powers will be there all the same. If, contrary to my
expectation, the Congress is held, I shall be obliged to go to Lisbon. In
any case, I promise to see you again in the ensuing winter. The fortnight
that I have to spend here will enable me to defeat a plot of St.
Germain's."

"St. Germain--he would never dare to return to Paris."

"I am certain that he is here in disguise. The state messenger who
ordered him to leave London has convinced him the English minister was
not duped by the demand for his person to be given up, made by the Comte
d'Afri in the name of the king to the States-General."

All this was mere guess-work, and it will be seen that I guessed rightly.

Madame d'Urfe then congratulated me on the charming girl whom I had sent
from Grenoble to Paris. Valenglard had told her the whole story.

"The king adores her," said she, "and before long she will make him a
father. I have been to see her at Passi with the Duchesse de l'Oraguais."

"She will give birth to a son who will make France happy, and in thirty
years time you will see wondrous things, of which, unfortunately, I can
tell you nothing until your transformation. Did you mention my name to
her?"

"No, I did not; but I am sure you will be able to see her, if only at
Madame Varnier's."

She was not mistaken; but shortly afterwards an event happened which made
the madness of this excellent woman much worse.

Towards four o'clock, as we were talking over my travels and our designs,
she took a fancy to walk in the Bois du Boulogne. She begged me to
accompany her, and I acceded to her request. We walked into the deepest
recesses of the wood and sat down under a tree. "It is eighteen years
ago," said she, "since I fell asleep on the same spot that we now occupy.
During my sleep the divine Horosmadis came down from the sun and stayed
with me till I awoke. As I opened my eyes I saw him leave me and ascend
to heaven. He left me with child, and I bore a girl which he took away
from me years ago, no doubt to punish me for, having so far forgotten
myself as to love a mortal after him. My lovely Iriasis was like him."

"You are quite sure that M. d'Urfe was not the child's father?"

"M. d'Urfe did not know me after he saw me lying beside the divine
Anael."

"That's the genius of Venus. Did he squint?"

"To excess. You are aware, then, that he squints?"

"Yes, and I know that at the amorous crisis he ceases to squint."

"I did not notice that. He too, left me on account of my sinning with an
Arab."

"The Arab was sent to you by an enemy of Anael's, the genius of Mercury."

"It must have been so; it was a great misfortune."

"On the contrary, it rendered you more fit for transformation."

We were walking towards the carriage when all at once we saw St. Germain,
but as soon as he noticed us he turned back and we lost sight of him.

"Did you see him?" said I. "He is working against us, but our genie makes
him tremble."

"I am quite thunderstruck. I will go and impart this piece of news to the
Duc de Choiseul to-morrow morning. I am curious to hear what he will say
when I tell him."

As we were going back to Paris I left Madame d'Urfe, and walked to the
Porte St. Denis to see my brother. He and his wife received me with cries
of joy. I thought the wife very pretty but very wretched, for Providence
had not allowed my brother to prove his manhood, and she was unhappily in
love with him. I say unhappily, because her love kept her faithful to
him, and if she had not been in love she might easily have found a cure
for her misfortune as her husband allowed her perfect liberty. She
grieved bitterly, for she did not know that my brother was impotent, and
fancied that the reason of his abstention was that he did not return her
love; and the mistake was an excusable one, for he was like a Hercules,
and indeed he was one, except where it was most to be desired. Her grief
threw her into a consumption of which she died five or six years later.
She did not mean her death to be a punishment to her husband, but we
shall see that it was so.

The next day I called on Madame Varnier to give her Madame Morin's
letter. I was cordially welcomed, and Madame Varnier was kind enough to
say that she had rather see me than anybody else in the world; her niece
had told her such strange things about me that she had got quite curious.
This, as is well known, is a prevailing complaint with women.

"You shall see my niece," she said, "and she will tell you all about
herself."

She wrote her a note, and put Madame Morin's letter under the same
envelope.

"If you want to know what my niece's answer is," said Madame Varnier,
"you must dine with me."

I accepted the invitation, and she immediately told her servant that she
was not at home to anyone.

The small messenger who had taken the note to Passi returned at four
o'clock with the following epistle:

"The moment in which I see the Chevalier de Seingalt once more will be
one of the happiest of my life. Ask him to be at your house at ten
o'clock the day after tomorrow, and if he can't come then please let me
know."

After reading the note and promising to keep the appointment, I left
Madame Varnier and called on Madame de Rumain, who told me I must spend a
whole day with her as she had several questions to put to my oracle.

Next day Madame d'Urfe told me the reply she had from the Duc de
Choiseul, when she told him that she had seen the Comte de St. Germain in
the Bois du Boulogne.

"I should not be surprised," said the minister, "considering that he
spent the night in my closet."

The duke was a man of wit and a man of the world. He only kept secrets
when they were really important ones; very different from those
make-believe diplomatists, who think they give themselves importance by
making a mystery of trifles of no consequence. It is true that the Duc de
Choiseul very seldom thought anything of great importance; and, in point
of fact, if there were less intrigue and more truth about diplomacy (as
there ought to be), concealment would be rather ridiculous than
necessary.

The duke had pretended to disgrace St. Germain in France that he might
use him as a spy in London; but Lord Halifax was by no means taken in by
this stratagem. However, all governments have the politeness to afford
one another these services, so that none of them can reproach the others.

The small Conte d'Aranda after caressing me affectionately begged me to
come and breakfast with him at his boarding-house, telling me that Mdlle.
Viar would be glad to see me.

The next day I took care not to fail in my appointment with the fair
lady. I was at Madame Varnier's a quarter of an hour before the arrival
of the dazzling brunette, and I waited for her with a beating at the
heart which shewed me that the small favours she had given me had not
quenched the flame of love. When she made her appearance the stoutness of
her figure carried respect with it, so that I did not feel as if I could
come forward and greet her tenderly; but she was far from thinking that
more respect was due to her than when she was at Grenoble, poor but also
pure. She kissed me affectionately and told me as much.

"They think I am happy," said she, "and envy my lot; but can one be happy
after the loss of one's self-respect? For the last six months I have only
smiled, not laughed; while at Grenoble I laughed heartily from true
gladness. I have diamonds, lace, a beautiful house, a superb carriage, a
lovely garden, waiting-maids, and a maid of honour who perhaps despises
me; and although the highest Court ladies treat me like a princess, I do
not pass a single day without experiencing some mortification."

"Mortification?"

"Yes; people come and bring pleas before me, and I am obliged to send
them away as I dare not ask the king anything."

"Why not?"

"Because I cannot look on him as my lover only; he is always my
sovereign, too. Ah! happiness is to be sought for in simple homes, not in
pompous palaces."

"Happiness is gained by complying with the duties of whatever condition
of life one is in, and you must constrain yourself to rise to that
exalted station in which destiny has placed you."

"I cannot do it; I love the king and I am always afraid of vexing him. I
am always thinking that he does too much for me, and thus I dare not ask
for anything for others."

"But I am sure the king would be only too glad to shew his love for you
by benefiting the persons in whom you take an interest."

"I know he would, and that thought makes me happy, but I cannot overcome
my feeling of repugnance to asking favours. I have a hundred louis a
month for pin-money, and I distribute it in alms and presents, but with
due economy, so that I am not penniless at the end of the month. I have a
foolish notion that the chief reason the king loves me is that I do not
importune him."

"And do you love him?"

"How can I help it? He is good-hearted, kindly, handsome, and polite to
excess; in short, he possesses all the qualities to captivate a woman's
heart.

"He is always asking me if I am pleased with my furniture, my clothes, my
servants, and my garden, and if I desire anything altered. I thank him
with a kiss, and tell him that I am pleased with everything."

"Does he ever speak of the scion you are going to present to him?"

"He often says that I ought to be careful of myself in my situation. I am
hoping that he will recognize my son as a prince of the blood; he ought
in justice to do so, as the queen is dead."

"To be sure he will."

"I should be very happy if I had a son. I wish I felt sure that I would
have one. But I say nothing about this to anyone. If I dared speak to the
king about the horoscope, I am certain he would want to know you; but I
am afraid of evil tongues."

"So am I. Continue in your discreet course and nothing will come to
disturb your happiness, which may become greater, and which I am pleased
to have procured for you."

We did not part without tears. She was the first to go, after kissing me
and calling me her best friend. I stayed a short time with Madame Varnier
to compose my feelings, and I told her that I should have married her
instead of drawing her horoscope.

"She would no doubt have been happier. You did not foresee, perhaps, her
timidity and her lack of ambition."

"I can assure you that I did not reckon upon her courage or ambition. I
laid aside my own happiness to think only of hers. But what is done
cannot be recalled, and I shall be consoled if I see her perfectly happy
at last. I hope, indeed, she will be so, above all if she is delivered of
a son."

I dined with Madame d'Urfe, and we decided to send back Aranda to his
boarding-school that we might be more free to pursue our cabalistic
operations; and afterwards I went to the opera, where my brother had made
an appointment with me. He took me to sup at Madame Vanloo's, and she
received me in the friendliest manner possible.

"You will have the pleasure of meeting Madame Blondel and her husband,"
said she.

The reader will recollect that Madame Blondel was Manon Baletti, whom I
was to have married.

"Does she know I am coming?" I enquired.

"No, I promise myself the pleasure of seeing her surprise."

"I am much obliged to you for not wishing to enjoy my surprise as well.
We shall see each other again, but not to-day, so I must bid you
farewell; for as I am a man of honour I hope never to be under the same
roof as Madame Blondel again."

With this I left the room, leaving everybody in astonishment, and not
knowing where to go I took a coach and went to sup with my sister-in-law,
who was extremely glad to see me. But all through supper-time this
charming woman did nothing but complain of her husband, saying that he
had no business to marry her, knowing that he could not shew himself a
man.

"Why did you not make the trial before you married?"

"Was it for me to propose such a thing? How should I suppose that such a
fine man was impotent? But I will tell you how it all happened. As you
know, I was a dancer at the Comedie Italienne, and I was the mistress of
M. de Sauci, the ecclesiastical commissioner. He brought your brother to
my house, I liked him, and before long I saw that he loved me. My lover
advised me that it was an opportunity for getting married and making my
fortune. With this idea I conceived the plan of not granting him any
favours. He used to come and see me in the morning, and often found me in
bed; we talked together, and his passions seemed to be aroused, but it
all ended in kissing. On my part, I was waiting for a formal declaration
and a proposal of marriage. At that period, M. de Sauci settled an
annuity of a thousand crowns on me on the condition that I left the
stage.

"In the spring M. de Sauci invited your brother to spend a month in his
country house. I was of the party, but for propriety's sake it was agreed
that I should pass as your brother's wife. Casanova enjoyed the idea,
looking upon it as a jest, and not thinking of the consequences. I was
therefore introduced as his wife to my lover's family, as also to his
relations, who were judges, officers, and men about town, and to their
wives, who were all women of fashion. Your brother was in high glee that
to play our parts properly we were obliged to sleep together. For my
part, I was far from disliking the idea, or at all events I looked upon
it as a short cut to the marriage I desired.

"But how can I tell you? Though tender and affectionate in everything,
your brother slept with me for a month without our attaining what seemed
the natural result under the circumstances."

"You might have concluded, then, that he was impotent; for unless he were
made of stone, or had taken a vow of chastity, his conduct was
inexplicable."

"The fact is, that I had no means of knowing whether he was capable or
incapable of giving me substantial proof of his love."

"Why did you not ascertain his condition for yourself?"

"A feeling of foolish pride prevented me from putting him to the test. I
did not suspect the truth, but imagined reasons flattering to myself. I
thought that he loved me so truly that he would not do anything before I
was his wife. That idea prevented me humiliating myself by making him
give me some positive proof of his powers."

"That supposition would have been tenable, though highly improbable, if
you had been an innocent young maid, but he knew perfectly well that your
novitiate was long over."

"Very true; but what can you expect of a woman impelled by love and
vanity?"

"Your reasoning is excellent, but it comes rather late."

"Well, at last we went back to Paris, your brother to his house, and I
to mine, while he continued his courtship, and I could not understand
what he meant by such strange behaviour. M. de Sauci, who knew that
nothing serious had taken place between us, tried in vain to solve the
enigma. 'No doubt he is afraid of getting you with child,' he said, 'and
of thus being obliged to marry you.' I began to be of the same opinion,
but I thought it a strange line for a man in love to take.

"M. de Nesle, an officer in the French Guards, who had a pretty wife I
had met in the country, went to your brother's to call on me. Not finding
me there he asked why we did not live together. Your brother replied
openly that our marriage had been a mere jest. M. de Nesle then came to
me to enquire if this were the truth, and when he heard that it was he
asked me how I would like him to make Casanova marry me. I answered that
I should be delighted, and that was enough for him. He went again to your
brother, and told him that his wife would never have associated with me
on equal terms if I had not been introduced to her as a married woman;
that the deceit was an insult to all the company at the country-house,
which must be wiped out by his marrying me within the week or by fighting
a duel. M. de Nesle added that if he fell he would be avenged by all the
gentlemen who had been offended in the same way. Casanova replied,
laughing, that so far from fighting to escape marrying me, he was ready
to break a lance to get me. 'I love her,' he said, 'and if she loves me I
am quite ready to give her my hand. Be kind enough,' he added, 'to
prepare the way for me, and I will marry her whenever you like.'

"M. de Nesle embraced him, and promised to see to everything; he brought
me the joyful news, and in a week all was over. M. de Nesle gave us a
splendid supper on our wedding-day, and since then I have had the title
of his wife. It is an empty title, however, for, despite the ceremony and
the fatal yes, I am no wife, for your brother is completely impotent. I
am an unhappy wretch, and it is all his fault, for he ought to have known
his own condition. He has deceived me horribly."

"But he was obliged to act as he did; he is more to be pitied than to be
blamed. I also pity you, but I think you are in the wrong, for after his
sleeping with you for a month without giving any proof of his manhood you
might have guessed the truth. Even if you had been a perfect novice, M.
de Sauci ought to have known what was the matter; he must be aware that
it is beyond the power of man to sleep beside a pretty woman, and to
press her naked body to his breast without becoming, in spite of himself,
in a state which would admit of no concealment; that is, in case he were
not impotent."

"All that seems very reasonable, but nevertheless neither of us thought
of it; your brother looks such a Hercules."

"There are two remedies open to you; you can either have your marriage
annulled, or you can take a lover; and I am sure that my brother is too
reasonable a man to offer any opposition to the latter course."

"I am perfectly free, but I can neither avail myself of a divorce nor of
a lover; for the wretch treats me so kindly that I love him more and
more, which doubtless makes my misfortune harder to bear."

The poor woman was so unhappy that I should have been delighted to
console her, but it was out of the question. However, the mere telling of
her story had afforded her some solace, and after kissing her in such a
way as to convince her that I was not like my brother, I wished her good
night.

The next day I called on Madame Vanloo, who informed me that Madame
Blondel had charged her to thank me for having gone away, while her
husband wished me to know that he was sorry not to have seen me to
express his gratitude.

"He seems to have found his wife a maid, but that's no fault of mine; and
Manon Baletti is the only person he ought to be grateful to. They tell me
that he has a pretty baby, and that he lives at the Louvre, while she has
another house in the Rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs."

"Yes, but he has supper with her every evening."

"It's an odd way of living."

"I assure you it answers capitally. Blondel regards his wife as his
mistress. He says that that keeps the flame of love alight, and that as
he never had a mistress worthy of being a wife, he is delighted to have a
wife worthy of being a mistress."

The next day I devoted entirely to Madame de Rumain, and we were occupied
with knotty questions till the evening. I left her well pleased. The
marriage of her daughter, Mdlle. Cotenfau, with M. de Polignac, which
took place five or six years later, was the result of our cabalistic
calculations.

The fair stocking-seller of the Rue des Prouveres, whom I had loved so
well, was no longer in Paris. She had gone off with a M. de Langlade, and
her husband was inconsolable. Camille was ill. Coralline had become the
titulary mistress of the Comte de la Marche, son of the Prince of Conti,
and the issue of this union was a son, whom I knew twenty years later. He
called himself the Chevalier de Montreal, and wore the cross of the
Knights of Malta. Several other girls I had known were widowed and in the
country, or had become inaccessible in other ways.

Such was the Paris of my day. The actors on its stage changed as rapidly
as the fashions.

I devoted a whole day to my old friend Baletti, who had left the theatre
and married a pretty ballet-girl on the death of his father; he was
making experiments with a view to finding the philosopher's stone.

I was agreeably surprised at meeting the poet Poinsinet at the Comedic
Francaise. He embraced me again and again, and told me that M. du Tillot
had overwhelmed him with kindness at Parma.

"He would not get me anything to do," said Poinsinet, "because a French
poet is rather at a discount in Italy."

"Have you heard anything of Lord Lismore?"

"Yes, he wrote to his mother from Leghorn, telling her that he was going
to the Indies, and that if you had not been good enough to give him a
thousand Louis he would have been a prisoner at Rome."

"His fate interests me extremely, and I should be glad to call on his
lady-mother with you."

"I will tell her that you are in Paris, and I am sure that she will
invite you to supper, for she has the greatest desire to talk to you."

"How are you getting on here? Are you still content to serve Apollo?"

"He is not the god of wealth by any means. I have no money and no room,
and I shall be glad of a supper, if you will ask me. I will read you my
play, the 'Cercle', which has been accepted. I am sure it will be
successful?"

The 'Cercle' was a short prose play, in which the poet satirised the
jargon of Dr. Herrenschwand, brother of the doctor I had consulted at
Soleure. The play proved to be a great success.

I took Poinsinet home to supper, and the poor nursling of the muses ate
for four. In the morning he came to tell me that the Countess of Lismore
expected me to supper.

I found the lady, still pretty, in company with her aged lover, M. de St.
Albin, Archbishop of Cambrai, who spent all the revenues of his see on
her. This worthy prelate was one of the illegitimate children of the Duc
d'Orleans, the famous Regent, by an actress. He supped with us, but he
only opened his mouth to eat, and his mistress only spoke of her son,
whose talents she lauded to the skies, though he was in reality a mere
scamp; but I felt in duty bound to echo what she said. It would have been
cruel to contradict her. I promised to let her know if I saw anything
more of him.

Poinsinet, who was hearthless and homeless, as they say, spent the night
in my room, and in the morning I gave him two cups of chocolate and some
money wherewith to get a lodging. I never saw him again, and a few years
after he was drowned, not in the fountain of Hippocrene, but in the
Guadalquivir. He told me that he had spent a week with M. de Voltaire,
and that he had hastened his return to Paris to obtain the release of the
Abbe Morellet from the Bastile.

I had nothing more to do at Paris, and I was only waiting for some
clothes to be made and for a cross of the order, with which the Holy
Father had decorated me, to be set with diamonds and rubies.

I had waited for five or six days when an unfortunate incident obliged me
to take a hasty departure. I am loth to write what follows, for it was
all my own fault that I was nearly losing my life and my honour. I pity
those simpletons who blame fortune and not themselves for their
misfortunes.

I was walking in the Tuileries at ten o'clock in the morning, when I was
unlucky enough to meet the Dangenancour and another girl. This
Dangenancour was a dancer at the opera-house, whom I had desired to meet
previously to my last departure from Paris. I congratulated myself on the
lucky chance which threw her in my way, and accosted her, and had not
much trouble in inducing her to dine with me at Choisi.

We walked towards the Pont-Royal, where we took a coach. After dinner had
been ordered we were taking a turn in the garden, when I saw a carriage
stop and two adventurers whom I knew getting out of it, with two girls,
friends of the ones I had with me. The wretched landlady, who was
standing at the door, said that if we liked to sit down together she
could give us an excellent dinner, and I said nothing, or rather I
assented to the yes of my two nymphs. The dinner was excellent, and after
the bill was paid, and we were on the point of returning to Paris, I
noticed that a ring, which I had taken off to shew to one of the
adventurers named Santis, was still missing. It was an exceedingly pretty
miniature, and the diamond setting had cost me twenty-five Louis. I
politely begged Santis to return me the ring, and he replied with the
utmost coolness that he had done so already.

"If you had returned it," said I, "it would be on my finger, and you see
that it is not."

He persisted in his assertion; the girls said nothing, but Santis's
friend, a Portuguese, named Xavier, dared to tell me that he had seen the
ring returned.

"You're a liar," I exclaimed; and without more ado I took hold of Santis
by the collar, and swore I would rot let him go till he returned me my
ring. The Portuguese rose to come to his friend's rescue, while I stepped
back and drew my sword, repeating my determination not to let them go.
The landlady came on the scene and began to shriek, and Santis asked me
to give him a few words apart. I thought in all good faith that he was
ashamed to restore the ring before company, but that he would give it me
as soon as we were alone. I sheathed my sword, and told him to come with
me. Xavier got into the carriage with the four girls, and they all went
back to Paris.

Santis followed me to the back of the inn, and then assuming a pleasant
smile he told me that he had put the ring into his friend's pocket for a
joke, but that I should have it back at Paris.

"That's an idle tale," I exclaimed, "your friend said that he saw you
return it, and now he has escaped me. Do you think that I am green enough
to be taken in by this sort of thing? You're a couple of robbers."

So saying, I stretched out my hand for his watch-chain, but he stepped
back and drew his sword. I drew mine, and we had scarcely crossed swords
when he thrust, and I parrying rushed in and ran him through and through.
He fell to the ground calling, "Help!" I sheathed my sword, and, without
troubling myself about him, got into my coach and drove back to Paris.

I got down in the Place Maubert, and walked by a circuitous way to my
hotel. I was sure that no one could have come after me there, as my
landlord did not even know my name.

I spent the rest of the day in packing up my trunks, and after telling
Costa to place them on my carriage I went to Madame d'Urfe. After I had
told her of what had happened, I begged her, as soon as that which she
had for me was ready, to send it to me at Augsburg by Costa. I should
have told her to entrust it to one of her own servants, but my good
genius had left me that day. Besides I did not look upon Costa as a
thief.

When I got back to the hotel I gave the rascal his instructions, telling
him to be quick and to keep his own counsel, and then I gave him money
for the journey.

I left Paris in my carriage, drawn by four hired horses, which took me as
far as the second post, and I did not stop till I got to Strasburg, where
I found Desarmoises and my Spaniard.

There was nothing to keep me in Strasburg, so I wanted to cross the Rhine
immediately; but Desarmoises persuaded me to come with him to see an
extremely pretty woman who had only delayed her departure for Augsburg in
the hope that we might journey there together.

"You know the lady," said the false marquis, "but she made me give my
word of honour that I would not tell you. She has only her maid with her,
and I am sure you will be pleased to see her."

My curiosity made me give in. I followed Desarmoises, and came into a
room where I saw a nice-looking woman whom I did not recognize at first.
I collected my thoughts, and the lady turned out to be a dancer whom I
had admired on the Dresden boards eight years before. She was then
mistress to Count Bruhl, but I had not even attempted to win her favour.
She had an excellent carriage, and as she was ready to go to Augsburg I
immediately concluded that we could make the journey together very
pleasantly.

After the usual compliments had passed, we decided on leaving for
Augsburg the following morning. The lady was going to Munich, but as I
had no business there we agreed that she should go by herself.

"I am quite sure," she said, afterwards, "that you will come too, for the
ambassadors do not assemble at Augsburg till next September."

We supped together, and next morning we started on our way; she in her
carriage with her maid, and I in mine with Desarmoises, preceded by Le
Duc on horseback. At Rastadt, however, we made a change, the Renaud (as
she was called) thinking that she would give less opportunity for curious
surmises by riding with me while Desarmoises went with the servant. We
soon became intimate. She told me about herself, or pretended to, and I
told her all that I did not want to conceal. I informed her that I was an
agent of the Court of Lisbon, and she believed me, while, for my part, I
believed that she was only going to Munich and Augsburg to sell her
diamonds.

We began to talk about Desarmoises, and she said that it was well enough
for me to associate with him, but I should not countenance his styling
himself marquis.

"But," said I, "he is the son of the Marquis Desarmoises, of Nancy."

"No, he isn't; he is only a retired messenger, with a small pension from
the department of foreign affairs. I know the Marquis Desarmoises; he
lives at Nancy, and is not so old as our friend."

"Then one can't see how he can be Desarmoises's father."

"The landlord of the inn at Strasburg knew him when he was a messenger."

"How did you make his acquaintance?"

"We met at the table d'hote. After dinner he came up to my room, and told
me he was waiting for a gentleman who was going to Augsburg, and that we
might make the journey together. He told me the name, and after
questioning him I concluded that the gentleman was yourself, so here we
are, and I am very glad of it. But listen to me; I advise you to drop all
false styles and titles. Why do you call yourself Seingalt?"

"Because it's my name, but that doesn't prevent my old friends calling me
Casanova, for I am both. You understand?"

"Oh, yes! I understand. Your mother is at Prague, and as she doesn't get
her pension on account of the war, I am afraid she must be rather in
difficulties."

"I know it, but I do not forget my filial duties. I have sent her some
money."

"That's right. Where are you going to stay at Augsburg?"

"I shall take a house, and if you like you shall be the mistress and do
the honours."

"That would be delightful! We will give little suppers, and play cards
all night."

"Your programme is an excellent one."

"I will see that you get a good cook; all the Bavarian cooks are good. We
shall cut a fine figure, and people will say we love each other madly."

"You must know, dearest, that I do not understand jokes at the expense of
fidelity."

"You may trust me for that. You know how I lived at Dresden."

"I will trust you, but not blindly, I promise you. And now let us address
each other in the same way; you must call me tu. You must remember we are
lovers."

"Kiss me!"

The fair Renaud did not like traveling by night; she preferred to eat a
good supper, to drink heavily, and to go to bed just as her head began to
whirl. The heat of the wine made her into a Bacchante, hard to appease;
but when I could do no more I told her to leave me alone, and she had to
obey.

When we reached Augsburg we alighted at the "Three Moors," but the
landlord told us that though he could give us a good dinner he could not
put us up, as the whole of the hotel had been engaged by the French
ambassador. I called on M. Corti, the banker to whom I was accredited,
and he soon got me a furnished house with a garden, which I took for six
months. The Renaud liked it immensely.

No one had yet arrived at Augsburg. The Renaud contrived to make me feel
that I should be lonely at Augsburg without her, and succeeded in
persuading me to come with her to Munich. We put up at the "Stag," and
made ourselves very comfortable, while Desarmoises went to stay somewhere
else. As my business and that of my new mate had nothing in common, I
gave her a servant and a carriage to herself, and made myself the same
allowance.

The Abbe Gama had given me a letter from the Commendatore Almada for Lord
Stormont, the English ambassador at the Court of Bavaria. This nobleman
being then at Munich I hastened to deliver the letter. He received me
very well, and promised to do all he could as soon as he had time, as
Lord Halifax had told him all about it. On leaving his Britannic
Lordship's I called on M. de Folard, the French ambassador, and gave him
a letter from M. de Choiseul. M. de Folard gave me a hearty welcome, and
asked me to dine with him the next day, and the day after introduced me
to the Elector.

During the four fatal weeks I spent at Munich, the ambassador's house was
the only one I frequented. I call these weeks fatal, and with reason, for
in then I lost all my money, I pledged jewels (which I never recovered)
to the amount of forty thousand francs, and finally I lost my health. My
assassins were the Renaud and Desarmoises, who owed me so much and paid
me so badly.

The third day after my arrival I had to call on the Dowager Electress of
Saxony. It was my brother-in-law, who was in her train, that made me go,
by telling me that it must be done, as she knew me and had been enquiring
for me. I had no reason to repent of my politeness in going, as the
Electress gave me a good reception, and made me talk to any extent. She
was extremely curious, like most people who have no employment, and have
not sufficient intelligence to amuse themselves.

I have done a good many foolish things in the course of my existence. I
confess it as frankly as Rousseau, and my Memoirs are not so egotistic as
those of that unfortunate genius; but I never committed such an act of
folly as I did when I went to Munich, where I had nothing to do. But it
was a crisis in my life. My evil genius had made me commit one folly
after another since I left Turin. The evening at Lord Lismore's, my
connection with Desarmoises, my party at Choisi, my trust in Costa, my
union with the Renaud, and worse than all, my folly in letting myself
play at faro at a place where the knavery of the gamesters is renowned
all over Europe, followed one another in fatal succession. Among the
players was the famous, or rather infamous, Affisio, the friend of the
Duc de Deux-Ponts, whom the duke called his aide-decamp, and who was
known for the keenest rogue in the world.

I played every day, and as I often lost money on my word of honour, the
necessity of paying the next day often caused me the utmost anxiety. When
I had exhausted my credit with the bankers, I had recourse to the Jews
who require pledges, and in this Desarmoises and the Renaud were my
agents, the latter of whom ended by making herself mistress of all my
property. This was not the worst thing she did to me; for she, gave me a
disease, which devoured her interior parts and left no marks outwardly,
and was thus all the more dangerous, as the freshness of her complexion
seemed to indicate the most perfect health. In short, this serpent, who
must have come from hell to destroy me, had acquired such a mastery over
me that she persuaded me that she would be dishonoured if I called in a
doctor during our stay at Munich, as everybody knew that we were living
together as man and wife.

I cannot imagine what had become of my wits to let myself be so beguiled,
while every day I renewed the poison that she had poured into my veins.

My stay at Munich was a kind of curse; throughout that dreadful month I
seemed to have a foretaste of the pains of the damned. The Renaud loved
gaming, and Desarmoises was her partner. I took care not to play with
them, for the false marquis was an unmitigated cheat and often tricked
with less skill than impudence. He asked disreputable people to my house
and treated them at my expense; every evening scenes of a disgraceful
character took place.

The Dowager Electress mortified me extremely by the way she addressed me
on my last two visits to her.

"Everybody knows what kind of a life you lead here, and the way the
Renaud behaves, possibly without your knowing it. I advise you to have
done with her, as your character is suffering."

She did not know what a thraldom I was under. I had left Paris for a
month, and I had neither heard of Madame d'Urfe nor of Costa. I could not
guess the reason, but I began to suspect my Italian's fidelity. I also
feared lest my good Madame d'Urfe might be dead or have come to her
senses, which would have come to the same thing so far as I was
concerned; and I could not possibly return to Paris to obtain the
information which was so necessary both for calming my mind and refilling
my purse.

I was in a terrible state, and my sharpest pang was that I began to
experience a certain abatement of my vigors, the natural result of
advancing years. I had no longer that daring born of youth and the
knowledge of one's strength, and I was not yet old enough to have learnt
how to husband my forces. Nevertheless, I made an effort and took a
sudden leave of my mistress, telling her I would await her at Augsburg.
She did not try to detain me, but promised to rejoin me as soon as
possible; she was engaged in selling her jewellery. I set out preceded by
Le Duc, feeling very glad that Desarmoises had chosen to stay with the
wretched woman to whom he had introduced me. When I reached my pretty
house at Augsburg I took to my bed, determined not to rise till I was
cured or dead. M. Carli, my banker, recommended to me a doctor named
Cephalides, a pupil of the famous Fayet, who had cured me of a similar
complaint several years before. This Cephalides was considered the best
doctor in Augsburg. He examined me and declared he could cure me by
sudorifics without having recourse to the knife. He began his treatment
by putting me on a severe regimen, ordering baths, and applying mercury
locally. I endured this treatment for six weeks, at the end of which time
I found myself worse than at the beginning. I had become terribly thin,
and I had two enormous inguinal tumours. I had to make up my mind to have
them lanced, but though the operation nearly killed me it did not to make
me any better. He was so clumsy as to cut the artery, causing great loss
of blood which was arrested with difficulty, and would have proved fatal
if it had not been for the care of M. Algardi, a Bolognese doctor in the
service of the Prince-Bishop of Augsburg.

I had enough of Cephalides, and Dr. Algardi prepared in my presence
eighty-six pills containing eighteen grains of manna. I took one of these
pills every morning, drinking a large glass of curds after it, and in the
evening I had another pill with barley water, and this was the only
sustenance I had. This heroic treatment gave me back my health in two
months and a half, in which I suffered a great deal of pain; but I did
not begin to put on flesh and get back my strength till the end of the
year.

It was during this time that I heard about Costa's flight with my
diamonds, watches, snuff-box, linen, rich suits, and a hundred louis
which Madame d'Urfe had given him for the journey. The worthy lady sent
me a bill of exchange for fifty thousand francs, which she had happily
not entrusted to the robber, and the money rescued me very opportunely
from the state to which my imprudence had reduced me.

At this period I made another discovery of an extremely vexatious
character; namely, that Le Duc had robbed me. I would have forgiven him
if he had not forced me to a public exposure, which I could only have
avoided with the loss of my honour. However, I kept him in my service
till my return to Paris at the commencement of the following year.

Towards the end of September, when everybody knew that the Congress would
not take place, the Renaud passed through Augsburg with Desarrnoises on
her way to Paris; but she dared not come and see me for fear I should
make her return my goods, of which she had taken possession without
telling me. Four or five years later she married a man named Bohmer, the
same that gave the Cardinal de Rohan the famous necklace, which he
supposed was destined for the unfortunate Marie Antoinette. The Renaud
was at Paris when I returned, but I made no endeavour to see her, as I
wished, if possible, to forget the past. I had every reason to do so, for
amongst all the misfortunes I had gone through during that wretched year
the person I found most at fault was myself. Nevertheless, I would have
given myself the pleasure of cutting off Desarmoises's ears; but the old
rascal, who, no doubt, foresaw what kind of treatment I was likely to
mete to him, made his escape. Shortly after, he died miserably of
consumption in Normandy.

My health had scarcely returned, when I forgot all my woes and began once
more to amuse myself. My excellent cook, Anna Midel, who had been idle so
long, had to work hard to satisfy my ravenous appetite. My landlord and
pretty Gertrude, his daughter, looked at me with astonishment as I ate,
fearing some disastrous results. Dr. Algardi, who had saved my life,
prophesied a dyspepsia which would bring me to the tomb, but my need of
food was stronger than his arguments, to which I paid no kind of
attention; and I was right, for I required an immense quantity of
nourishment to recover my former state, and I soon felt in a condition to
renew my sacrifices to the deity for whom I had suffered so much.

I fell in love with the cook and Gertrude, who were both young and
pretty. I imparted my love to both of them at once, for I had foreseen
that if I attacked them separately I should conquer neither. Besides, I
felt that I had not much time to lose, as I had promised to sup with
Madame, d'Urfe on the first night of the year 1761 in a suite of rooms
she had furnished for me in the Rue de Bac. She had adorned the rooms
with superb tapestry made for Rene of Savoy, on which were depicted all
the operations of the Great Work. She wrote to me that she had heard that
Santis had recovered from the wound I had given him, and had been
committed to the Bicetre for fraud.

Gertrude and Anna Midel occupied my leisure moments agreeably enough
during the rest of my stay at Augsburg, but they did not make me neglect
society. I spent my evenings in a very agreeable manner with Count Max de
Lamberg, who occupied the position of field-marshal to the prince-bishop.
His wife had all the attractions which collect good company together. At
this house I made the acquaintance of the Baron von Selentin, a captain
in the Prussian service, who was recruiting for the King of Prussia at
Augsburg. I was particularly drawn to the Count Lamberg by his taste for
literature. He was an extremely learned man, and has published some
excellent works. I kept up a correspondence with him till his death, by
his own fault, in 1792, four years from the time of my writing. I say by
his fault, but I should have said by the fault of his doctors, who
treated him mercurially for a disease which was not venereal; and this
treatment not only killed him but took away his good name.

His widow is still alive, and lives in Bavaria, loved by her friends and
her daughters, who all made excellent marriages.

At this time a miserable company of Italian actors made their appearance
in Augsburg, and I got them permission to play in a small and wretched
theatre. As this was the occasion of an incident which diverted me, the
hero, I shall impart it to my readers in the hope of its amusing them
also.



CHAPTER XIV

The Actors--Bassi--The Girl From Strasburg The Female Count--My Return to
Paris I Go to Metz--Pretty Raton--The Pretended Countess Lascaris

A woman, ugly enough, but lively like all Italians, called on me, and
asked me to intercede with the police to obtain permission for her
company to act in Augsburg. In spite of her ugliness she was a poor
fellow-countrywoman, and without asking her name, or ascertaining whether
the company was good or bad, I promised to do my best, and had no
difficulty in obtaining the favour.

I went to the first performance, and saw to my surprise that the chief
actor was a Venetian, and a fellow-student of mine, twenty years before,
at St. Cyprian's College. His name was Bassi, and like myself he had
given up the priesthood. Fortune had made an actor of him, and he looked
wretched enough, while I, the adventurer, had a prosperous air.

I felt curious to hear his adventures, and I was also actuated by that
feeling of kindliness which draws one towards the companions of one's
youthful and especially one's school days, so I went to the back as soon
as the curtain fell. He recognized me directly, gave a joyful cry, and
after he had embraced me he introduced me to his wife, the woman who had
called on me, and to his daughter, a girl of thirteen or fourteen, whose
dancing had delighted me. He did not stop here, but turning to his mates,
of whom he was chief, introduced me to them as his best friend. These
worthy people, seeing me dressed like a lord, with a cross on my breast,
took me for a cosmopolitan charlatan who was expected at Augsburg, and
Bassi, strange to say, did not undeceive them. When the company had taken
off its stage rags and put on its everyday rags, Bassi's ugly wife took
me by the arm and said I must come and sup with her. I let myself be led,
and we soon got to just the kind of room I had imagined. It was a huge
room on the ground floor, which served for kitchen, dining-room, and
bedroom all at once. In the middle stood a long table, part of which was
covered with a cloth which looked as if it had been in use for a month,
and at the other end of the room somebody was washing certain earthenware
dishes in a dirty pan. This den was lighted by one candle stuck in the
neck of a broken bottle, and as there were no snuffers Bassi's wife
snuffed it cleverly with her finger and thumb, wiping her hand on the
table-cloth after throwing the burnt wick on the floor. An actor with
long moustaches, who played the villain in the various pieces, served an
enormous dish of hashed-up meat, swimming in a sea of dirty water
dignified with the name of sauce; and the hungry family proceeded to tear
pieces of bread off the loaf with their fingers or teeth, and then to dip
them in the dish; but as all did the same no one had a right to be
disgusted. A large pot of ale passed from hand to hand, and with all this
misery mirth displayed itself on every countenance, and I had to ask
myself what is happiness. For a second course there was a dish of fried
pork, which was devoured with great relish. Bassi was kind enough not to
press me to take part in this banquet, and I felt obliged to him.

The meal over, he proceeded to impart to me his adventures, which were
ordinary enough, and like those which many a poor devil has to undergo;
and while he talked his pretty daughter sat on my knee. Bassi brought his
story to an end by saying that he was going to Venice for the carnival,
and was sure of making a lot of money. I wished him all the luck he could
desire, and on his asking me what profession I followed the fancy took me
to reply that I was a doctor.

"That's a better trade than mine," said he, "and I am happy to be able to
give you a valuable present."

"What is that?" I asked.

"The receipt for the Venetian Specific, which you can sell at two florins
a pound, while it will only cost you four gros."

"I shall be delighted; but tell me, how is the treasury?"

"Well, I can't complain for a first night. I have paid all expenses, and
have given my actors a florin apiece. But I am sure I don't know how I am
to play to-morrow, as the company has rebelled; they say they won't act
unless I give each of them a florin in advance."

"They don't ask very much, however."

"I know that, but I have no money, and nothing to pledge; but they will
be sorry for it afterwards, as I am sure I shall make at least fifty
florins to-morrow."

"How many are there in the company?"

"Fourteen, including my family. Could you lend me ten florins? I would
pay you back tomorrow night."

"Certainly, but I should like to have you all to supper at the nearest
inn to the theatre. Here are the ten florins."

The poor devil overflowed with gratitude, and said he would order supper
at a florin a head, according to my instructions. I thought the sight of
fourteen famished actors sitting down to a good supper would be rather
amusing.

The company gave a play the next evening, but as only thirty or at most
forty people were present, poor Bassi did not know where to turn to pay
for the lighting and the orchestra. He was in despair; and instead of
returning my ten florins he begged me to lend him another ten, still in
the hope of a good house next time. I consoled him by saying we would
talk it over after supper, and that I would go to the inn to wait for my
guests.

I made the supper last three hours by dint of passing the bottle freely.
My reason was that I had taken a great interest in a young girl from
Strasburg, who played singing chamber-maids. Her features were exquisite
and her voice charming, while she made me split my sides with laughing at
her Italian pronounced with an Alsatian accent, and at her gestures which
were of the most comic description.

I was determined to possess her in the course of the next twenty-four
hours, and before the party broke up I spoke as follows:--

"Ladies and gentlemen, I will engage you myself for a week at fifty
florins a day on the condition that you acknowledge me as your manager
for the time being, and pay all the expenses of the theatre. You must
charge the prices I name for seats, five members of the company to be
chosen by me must sup with me every evening. If the receipts amount to
more than fifty florins, we will share the overplus between us."

My proposal was welcomed with shouts of joy, and I called for pen, ink,
and paper, and drew up the agreement.

"For to-morrow," I said to Bassi, "the prices for admission shall remain
the same, but the day after we will see what can be done. You and your
family will sup with me to-morrow, as also the young Alsatian whom I
could never separate from her dear Harlequin:"

He issued bills of an enticing description for the following evening;
but, in spite of all, the pit only contained a score of common people,
and nearly all the boxes were empty.

Bassi had done his best, and when we met at supper he came up to me
looking extremely confused, and gave me ten or twelve florins.

"Courage!" said I; and I proceeded to share them among the guests
present.

We had a good supper, and I kept them at table till midnight, giving them
plenty of choice wine and playing a thousand pranks with Bassi's daughter
and the young Alsatian, who sat one on each side of me. I did not heed
the jealous Harlequin, who seemed not to relish my familiarities with his
sweetheart. The latter lent herself to my endearments with a bad enough
grace, as she hoped Harlequin would marry her, and consequently did not
want to vex him. When supper was over, we rose, and I took her between my
arms, laughing, and caressing her in a manner which seemed too suggestive
to the lover, who tried to pull me away. I thought this rather too much
in my turn, and seizing him by his shoulders I dismissed him with a
hearty kick, which he received with great humility. However, the
situation assumed a melancholy aspect, for the poor girl began to weep
bitterly. Bassi and his wife, two hardened sinners, laughed at her tears,
and Bassi's daughter said that her lover had offered me great
provocation; but the young Alsatian continued weeping, and told me that
she would never sup with me again if I did not make her lover return.

"I will see to all that," said I; and four sequins soon made her all
smiles again. She even tried to shew me that she was not really cruel,
and that she would be still less so if I could manage the jealous
Harlequin. I promised everything, and she did her best to convince me
that she would be quite complaisant on the first opportunity.

I ordered Bassi to give notice that the pit would be two florins and the
boxes a ducat, but that the gallery would be opened freely to the first
comers.

"We shall have nobody there," said he, looking alarmed.

"Maybe, but that remains to be seen. You must request twelve soldiers to
keep order, and I will pay for them."

"We shall want some soldiers to look after the mob which will besiege the
gallery, but as for the rest of the house . . . ."

"Again I tell you, we shall see. Carry out my instructions, and whether
they prove successful or no, we will have a merry supper as usual."

The next day I called upon the Harlequin in his little den of a room, and
with two Louis, and a promise to respect his mistress, I made him as soft
as a glove.

Bassi's bills made everybody laugh. People said he must be mad; but when
it was ascertained that it was the lessee's speculation, and that I was
the lessee, the accusation of madness was turned on me, but what did I
care? At night the gallery was full an hour before the rise of the
curtain; but the pit was empty, and there was nobody in the boxes with
the exception of Count Lamberg, a Genoese abbe named Bolo, and a young
man who appeared to me a woman in disguise.

The actors surpassed themselves, and the thunders of applause from the
gallery enlivened the performance.

When we got to the inn, Bassi gave me the three ducats for the three
boxes, but of course I returned them to him; it was quite a little
fortune for the poor actors. I sat down at table between Bassi's wife and
daughter, leaving the Alsatian to her lover. I told the manager to
persevere in the same course, and to let those laugh who would, and I
made him promise to play all his best pieces.

When the supper and the wine had sufficiently raised my spirits, I
devoted my attention to Bassi's daughter, who let me do what I liked,
while her father and mother only laughed, and the silly Harlequin fretted
and fumed at not being able to take the same liberties with his Dulcinea.
But at the end of supper, when I had made the girl in a state of nature,
I myself being dressed like Adam before he ate the fatal apple, Harlequin
rose, and taking his sweetheart's arm was going to draw her away. I
imperiously told him to sit down, and he obeyed me in amazement,
contenting himself with turning his back. His sweetheart did not follow
his example, and so placed herself on the pretext of defending my victim
that she increased my enjoyment, while my vagrant hand did not seem to
displease her.

The scene excited Bassi's wife, and she begged her husband to give her a
proof of his love for her, to which request he acceded, while modest
Harlequin sat by the fire with his head on his hands. The Alsatian was in
a highly excited state, and took advantage of her lover's position to
grant me all I wished, so I proceeded to execute the great work with her,
and the violent movements of her body proved that she was taking as
active a part in it as myself.

When the orgy was over I emptied my purse on the table, and enjoyed the
eagerness with which they shared a score of sequins.

This indulgence at a time when I had not yet recovered my full strength
made me enjoy a long sleep. Just as I awoke I was handed a summons to
appear before the burgomaster. I made haste with my toilette, for I felt
curious to know the reason of this citation, and I was aware I had
nothing to fear. When I appeared, the magistrate addressed me in German,
to which I turned a deaf ear, for I only knew enough of that language to
ask for necessaries. When he was informed of my ignorance of German he
addressed me in Latin, not of the Ciceronian kind by any means, but in
that peculiar dialect which obtains at most of the German universities.

"Why do you bear a false name?" he asked.

"My name is not false. You can ask Carli, the banker, who has paid me
fifty thousand florins."

"I know that; but your name is Casanova, so why do you call yourself
Seingalt?"

"I take this name, or rather I have taken it, because it belongs to me,
and in such a manner that if anyone else dared to take it I should
contest it as my property by every legitimate resource."

"Ah! and how does this name belong to you?"

"Because I invented it; but that does not prevent my being Casanova as
well."

"Sir, you must choose between Casanova and Seingalt; a man cannot have
two names."

"The Spaniards and Portuguese often have half a dozen names."

"But you are not a Spaniard or a Portuguese; you are an Italian: and,
after all, how can one invent a name?"

"It's the simplest thing in the world."

"Kindly explain."

"The alphabet belongs equally to the whole human race; no one can deny
that. I have taken eight letters and combined them in such a way as to
produce the word Seingalt. It pleased me, and I have adopted it as my
surname, being firmly persuaded that as no one had borne it before no one
could deprive me of it, or carry it without my consent."

"This is a very odd idea. Your arguments are rather specious than well
grounded, for your name ought to be none other than your father's name."

"I suggest that there you are mistaken; the name you yourself bear
because your father bore it before you, has not existed from all
eternity; it must have been invented by an ancestor of yours who did not
get it from his father, or else your name would have been Adam. Does your
worship agree to that?"

"I am obliged to; but all this is strange, very strange."

"You are again mistaken. It's quite an old custom, and I engage to give
you by to-morrow a long list of names invented by worthy people still
living, who are allowed to enjoy their names in peace and quietness
without being cited to the town hall to explain how they got them."

"But you will confess that there are laws against false names?"

"Yes, but I repeat this name is my true name. Your name which I honour,
though I do not know it, cannot be more true than mine, for it is
possible that you are not the son of the gentleman you consider your
father." He smiled and escorted me out, telling me that he would make
enquiries about me of M. Carli.

I took the part of going to M. Carli's myself. The story made him laugh.
He told me that the burgomaster was a Catholic, a worthy man, well to do,
but rather thick-headed; in short, a fine subject for a joke.

The following morning M. Carli asked me to breakfast, and afterwards to
dine with the burgomaster.

"I saw him yesterday," said he, "and we had a long talk, in the course of
which I succeeded in convincing him on the question of names, and he is
now quite of your opinion."

I accepted the invitation with pleasure, as I was sure of seeing some
good company. I was not undeceived; there were some charming women and
several agreeable men. Amongst others, I noticed the woman in man's dress
I had seen at the theatre. I watched her at dinner, and I was the more
convinced that she was a woman. Nevertheless, everybody addressed her as
a man, and she played the part to admiration. I, however, being in search
of amusement, and not caring to seem as if I were taken in, began to talk
to her in a stream of gallantry as one talks to a woman, and I contrived
to let her know that if I were not sure of her sex I had very strong
suspicions. She pretended not to understand me, and everyone laughed at
my feigned expression of offence.

After dinner, while we were taking coffee, the pretended gentleman shewed
a canon who was present a portrait on one of her rings. It represented a
young lady who was in the company, and was an excellent likeness--an easy
enough matter, as she was very ugly. My conviction was not disturbed, but
when I saw the imposter kissing the young lady's hand with mingled
affection and respect, I ceased jesting on the question of her sex. M.
Carli took me aside for a moment, and told me that in spite of his
effeminate appearance this individual was a man, and was shortly going to
marry the young lady whose hand he had just kissed.

"It may be so," said I, "but I can't believe it all the same."

However, the pair were married during the carnival, and the husband
obtained a rich dowry with his wife. The poor girl died of 'grief in the
course of a year, but did not say a word till she was on her death-bed.
Her foolish parents, ashamed of having been deceived so grossly, dared
not say anything, and got the female swindler out of the way; she had
taken good care, however, to lay a firm hold on the dowry. The story
became known, and gave the good folk of Augsburg much amusement, while I
became renowned for my sagacity in piercing the disguise.

I continued to enjoy the society of my two servants and of the fair
Alsation, who cost me a hundred louis. At the end of a week my agreement
with Bassi came to an end, leaving him with some money in his pocket. He
continued to give performances, returning to the usual prices and
suppressing the free gallery. He did very fair business.

I left Augsburg towards the middle of December.

I was vexed on account of Gertrude, who believed herself with child, but
could not make up her mind to accompany me to France. Her father would
have been pleased for me to take her; he had no hopes of getting her a
husband, and would have been glad enough to get rid of her by my making
her my mistress.

We shall hear more of her in the course of five or six years, as also of
my excellent cook, Anna Midel, to whom I gave a present of four hundred
florins. She married shortly afterwards, and when I visited the town
again I found her unhappy.

I could not make up my mind to forgive Le Duc, who rode on the coachman's
box, and when we were in Paris, half-way along the Rue St. Antoine, I
made him take his trunk and get down; and I left him there without a
character, in spite of his entreaties. I never heard of him again, but I
still miss him, for, in spite of his great failings, he was an excellent
servant. Perhaps I should have called to mind the important services he
had rendered me at Stuttgart, Soleure, Naples, Florence, and Turin; but I
could not pass over his impudence in compromising me before the Augsburg
magistrate. If I had not succeeded in bringing a certain theft home to
him, it would have been laid to my door, and I should have been
dishonoured.

I had done a good deal in saving him from justice, and, besides, I had
rewarded him liberally for all the special services he had done me.

From Augsburg I went to Bale by way of Constance, where I stayed at the
dearest inn in Switzerland. The landlord, Imhoff, was the prince of
cheats, but his daughters were amusing, and after a three days' stay I
continued my journey. I got to Paris on the last day of the year 1761,
and I left the coach at the house in the Rue du Bacq, where my good angel
Madame d'Urfe had arranged me a suite of rooms with the utmost elegance.

I spent three weeks in these rooms without going anywhere, in order to
convince the worthy lady that I had only returned to Paris to keep my
word to her, and make her be born again a man.

We spent the three weeks in making preparations for this divine
operation, and our preparations consisted of devotions to each of the
seven planets on the days consecrated to each of the intelligences. After
this I had to seek, in a place which the spirits would point out to me,
for a maiden, the daughter of an adept, whom I was to impregnate with a
male child in a manner only known to the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross.
Madame d'Urfe was to receive the child into her arms the moment it was
born; and to keep it beside her in bed for seven days. At the end of the
seven days she would die with her lips on the lips of the child, who
would thus receive her reasonable soul, whereas before it had only
possessed a vegetal soul.

This being done, it was to be my part to care for the child with the
magisterium which was known to me, and as soon as it had attained to its
third year Madame d'Urfe would begin to recover her self-consciousness,
and then I was to begin to initiate her in the perfect knowledge of the
Great Work.

The operation must take place under the full moon during the months of
April, May, or June. Above all, Madame d'Urfe was to make a will in
favour of the child, whose guardian I was to be till its thirteenth year.

This sublime madwoman had no doubts whatever as to the truth of all this,
and burned with impatience to see the virgin who was destined to be the
vessel of election. She begged me to hasten my departure.

I had hoped, in obtaining my answers from the oracle, that she would be
deterred by the prospect of death, and I reckoned on the natural love of
life making her defer the operation for an indefinite period. But such
was not the case, and I found myself obliged to keep my word, in
appearance at all events, and to go on my quest for the mysterious
virgin.

What I wanted was some young hussy whom I could teach the part, and I
thought of the Corticelli. She had been at Prague for the last nine
months, and when we were at Bologna I had promised to come and see her
before the end of the year. But as I was leaving Germany--by no means a
land of pleasant memories to me--I did not think it was worth while going
out of my way for such a trifle in the depth of winter. I resolved to
send her enough money for the journey, and to let her meet me in some
French town.

M. de Fouquet, a friend of Madame d'Urfe's, was Governor of Metz, and I
felt sure that, with a letter of introduction from Madame d'Urfe, this
nobleman would give me a distinguished reception. Besides, his nephew,
the Comte de Lastic, whom I knew well, was there with his regiment. For
these reasons I chose Metz as a meeting-place with the virgin Corticelli,
to whom this new part would certainly be a surprise. Madame d'Urfe gave
me the necessary introductions, and I left Paris on January 25th, 1762,
loaded with presents. I had a letter of credit to a large amount, but I
did not make use of it as my purse was abundantly replenished.

I took no servant, for after Costa's robbing me and Le Duc's cheating me
I felt as if I could not trust in anyone. I got to Metz in two days, and
put up at the "Roi Dagobert," an excellent inn, where I found the Comte
de Louvenhaupt, a Swede, whom I had met at the house of the Princess of
Anhalt-Zerbst, mother of the Empress of Russia. He asked me to sup with
him and the Duc de Deux Pants, who was travelling incognito to Paris to
visit Louis XV., whose constant friend he was.

The day after my arrival I took my letters to the governor, who told me I
must dine with him every day. M. de Lastic had left Metz, much to my
regret, as he would have contributed in no small degree to the pleasure
of my stay. The same day I wrote to the Corticelli, sending her fifty
louis, and telling her to come with her mother as soon as possible, and
to get someone who knew the way to accompany her. She could not leaves
Prague before the beginning of Lent, and to make sure of her coming I
promised that I would make her fortune.

In four or five days I knew my way about the town, but I did not frequent
polite assemblies, preferring to go to the theatre, where a comic opera
singer had captivated me. Her name was Raton, and she was only fifteen,
after the fashion of actresses who always subtract at least two or three
years from their age. However, this failing is common to women, and is a
pardonable one, since to be youthful is the greatest of all advantages to
them. Raton was not so much handsome as attractive, but what chiefly made
her an object of desire was the fact that she had put the price of
twenty-five louis on her maidenhead. One could spend a night with her,
and make the trial for a Louis; the twenty-five were only to be paid on
the accomplishment of the great work.

It was notorious that numerous officers in the army and young barristers
had undertaken the operation unsuccessfully, and all of them had paid a
louis apiece.

This singular case was enough to whet my curiosity. I was not long before
I called on Raton, but not wishing to be duped by her I took due
precautions. I told her that she must come and sup with me, and that I
would give her the twenty-five louis if my happiness was complete, and
that if I were unsuccessful she should have six louis instead of one,
provided that she was not tied. Her aunt assured me that this was not the
case; but I could not help thinking of Victorine.

Raton came to supper with her aunt, who went to bed in an adjoining
closet when the dessert was brought in. The girl's figure was exquisitely
beautiful, and I felt that I had no small task before me. She was kind,
laughing, and defied me to the conquest of a fleece not of gold, but of
ebony, which the youth of Metz had assaulted in vain. Perhaps the reader
will think that I, who was no longer in my first vigour, was discouraged
by the thought of the many who had failed; but I knew my powers, and it
only amused me. Her former lovers had been Frenchmen, more skilled in
carrying strong places by assault than in eluding the artfulness of a
girl who corked herself up. I was an Italian, and knew all about that, so
I had no doubts as to my victory.

However, my preparations were superfluous; for as soon as Raton felt from
my mode of attack that the trick would be of no avail she met my desires
half-way, without trying the device which had made her seem to be what
she was no longer to her inexpert lovers. She gave herself up in good
faith, and when I had promised to keep the secret her ardours were equal
to mine. It was not her first trial, and I consequently need not have
given her the twenty-five louis, but I was well satisfied, and not caring
much for maidenheads rewarded her as if I had been the first to bite at
the cherry.

I kept Raton at a louis a day till the arrival of the Corticelli, and she
had to be faithful to me, as I never let her go out of my sight. I liked
the girl so well and found her so pleasant that I was sorry that the
Corticelli was coming; however, I was told of her arrival one night just
as I was leaving my box at the theatre. My footman told me in a loud
voice that my lady wife, my daughter, and a gentleman had just arrived
from Frankfort, and were awaiting me at the inn.

"Idiot," I exclaimed, "I have no wife and no daughter."

However, all Metz heard that my family had arrived.

The Corticelli threw her arms round my neck, laughing as usual, and her
mother presented me to the worthy man who had accompanied them from
Prague to Metz. He was an Italian named Month, who had lived for a long
time at Prague, where he taught his native language. I saw that M. Month
and the old woman were suitably accommodated, and I then led the young
fool into my room. I found her changed for the better; she had grown, her
shape was improved, and her pleasant manners made her a very charming
girl.



CHAPTER XV

I Returned to Paris With The Corticelli, Now Countess Lascaris--The
Hypostasis Fails--Aix-la-Chapelle--Duel--Mimi d'Ache--The Corticelli
Turns Traitress to Her Own Disadvantage--Journey to Sulzbach

"Why did you allow your mother to call herself my wife, little simpleton?
Do you think that's a compliment to my judgment? She might have given
herself out for your governess, as she wishes to pass you off as my
daughter."

"My mother is an obstinate old woman who had rather be whipped at the
cart-tail than call herself my governess. She has very narrow ideas, and
always thinks that governess and procuress mean the same thing."

"She's an old fool, but we will make her hear reason either with her will
or in spite of it. But you look well dressed, have you made your
fortune?"

"At Prague I captivated the affections of Count N----, and he proved a
generous lover. But let your first action be to send back M. Month. The
worthy man has his family at Prague to look after; he can't afford to
stay long here."

"True, I will see about it directly."

The coach started for Frankfort the same evening, and summoning Month I
thanked him for his kindness and paid him generously, so he went off well
pleased.

I had nothing further to do at Metz, so I took leave of my new friends,
and in two days time I was at Nancy, where I wrote to Madame d'Urfe that
I was on my way back with a virgin, the last of the family of Lascaris,
who had once reigned at Constantinople. I begged her to receive her from
my hands, at a country house which belonged to her, where we should be
occupied for some days in cabalistic ceremonies.

She answered that she would await us at Pont-Carre, an old castle four
leagues distant from Paris, and that she would welcome the young princess
with all possible kindness.

"I owe her all the more friendship," added the sublime madwoman, "as the
family of Lascaris is connected with the family of d'Urfe, and as I am to
be born again in the seed of the happy virgin."

I felt that my task would be not exactly to throw cold water on her
enthusiasm, but to hold it in check and to moderate its manifestations. I
therefore explained to her by return of post that she must be content to
treat the virgin as a countess, not a princess, and I ended by informing
her that we should arrive, accompanied by the countess's governess, on
the Monday of Holy Week.

I spent twelve days at Nancy, instructing the young madcap in the part
she had to play, and endeavouring to persuade her mother that she must
content herself with being the Countess Lascaris's humble servant. It was
a task of immense difficulty; it was not enough to shew her that our
success depended on her submitting; I had to threaten to send her back to
Bologna by herself. I had good reason to repent of my perseverance. That
woman's obstinacy was an inspiration of my good angel's, bidding me avoid
the greatest mistake I ever made.

On the day appointed we reached Pont-Carre. Madame d'Urfe, whom I had
advised of the exact hour of our arrival, had the drawbridge of the
castle lowered, and stood in the archway in the midst of her people, like
a general surrendering with all the honours of war. The dear lady, whose
madness was but an excess of wit, gave the false princess so
distinguished a reception that she would have shewn her amazement if I
had not warned her of what she might expect. Thrice did she clasp her to
her breast with a tenderness that was quite maternal, calling her her
beloved niece, and explaining the entire pedigrees of the families of
Lascaris and d'Urfe to make the countess understand how she came to be
her niece. I was agreeably surprised to see the polite and dignified air
with which the Italian wench listened to all this; she did not even
smile, though the scene must have struck her as extremely laughable.

As soon as we got into the castle Madame d'Urfe proceeded to cense the
new-comer, who received the attention with all the dignity of an opera
queen, and then threw herself into the arms of the priestess, who
received her with enthusiastic affection.

At dinner the countess was agreeable and talkative, which won her Madame
d'Urfe's entire favour; her broken French being easily accounted for.
Laura, the countess's mother, only knew her native Italian, and so kept
silence. She was given a comfortable room, where her meals were brought
to her, and which she only left to hear mass.

The castle was a fortified building, and had sustained several sieges in
the civil wars. As its name, Pont-Carre, indicated, it was square, and
was flanked by four crenelated towers and surrounded by a broad moat. The
rooms were vast, and richly furnished in an old-fashioned way. The air
was full of venomous gnats who devoured us and covered our faces with
painful bites; but I had agreed to spend a week there, and I should have
been hard put to it to find a pretext for shortening the time. Madame
d'Urfe had a bed next, her own for her niece, but I was not afraid of her
attempting to satisfy herself as to the countess's virginity, as the
oracle had expressly forbidden it under pain or failure. The operation
was fixed for the fourteenth day of the April moon.

On that day we had a temperate supper, after which I went to bed. A
quarter of an hour afterwards Madame d'Urfe came, leading the virgin
Lascaris. She undressed her, scented her, cast a lovely veil over her
body, and when the countess was laid beside me she remained, wishing to
be present at an operation which was to result in her being born again in
the course of nine months.

The act was consummated in form, and then Madame d'Urfe left us alone for
the rest of the night, which was well employed. Afterwards, the countess
slept with her aunt till the last day of the moon, when I asked the
oracle if the Countess Lascaris had conceived. That well might be, for I
had spared nothing to that intent; but I thought it more prudent to make
the oracle reply that the operation had failed because the small Count
d'Aranda had watched us behind a screen. Madame d'Urfe was in despair,
but I consoled her by a second reply, in which the oracle declared that
though the operation could only be performed in France in April, it could
take place out of that realm in May; but the inquisitive young count,
whose influence had proved so fatal, must be sent for at least a year to
some place a hundred leagues from Paris. The oracle also indicated the
manner in which he was to travel; he was to have a tutor, a servant, and
all in order.

The oracle had spoken, and no more was wanted. Madame d'Urfe thought of
an abbe she liked for his tutor, and the count was sent to Lyons, with
strong letters of commendation to M. de Rochebaron, a relation of his
patroness. The young man was delighted to travel, and never had any
suspicion of the way in which I had slandered him. It was not a mere
fancy which suggested this course of action. I had discovered that the
Corticelli was making up to him, and that her mother favoured the
intrigue. I had surprised her twice in the young man's room, and though
he only cared for the girl as a youth cares for all girls, the Signora
Laura did not at all approve of my opposing her daughter's designs.

Our next task was to fix on some foreign town where we could again
attempt the mysterious operation. We settled on Aix-la-Chapelle, and in
five or six days all was ready for the journey.

The Corticeili, angry with me for having thwarted her in her projects,
reproached me bitterly, and from that time began to be my enemy; she even
allowed herself to threaten me if I did not get back the pretty boy, as
she called him.

"You have no business to be jealous," said she, "and I am the mistress of
my own actions."

"Quite right, my dear," I answered; "but it is my business to see that
you do not behave like a prostitute in your present position."

The mother was in a furious rage, and said that she and her daughter
would return to Bologna, and to quiet them I promised to take them there
myself as soon as we had been to Aix-la-Chapelle.

Nevertheless I did not feel at ease, and to prevent any plots taking
place I hastened our departure.

We started in May, in a travelling carriage containing Madame d'Urfe,
myself, the false Lascaris, and her maid and favourite, named Brougnole.
We were followed by a coach with two seats; in it were the Signora Laura
and another servant. Two men-servants in full livery sat on the outside
of our travelling carriage. We stopped a day at Brussels, and another at
Liege. At Aix there were many distinguished visitors, and at the first
ball we attended Madame d'Urfe presented the Lascaris to two Princesses
of Mecklenburg as her niece. The false countess received their embraces
with much ease and modesty, and attracted the particular attention of the
Margrave of Baireuth and the Duchess of Wurtemberg, his daughter, who
took possession of her, and did not leave her till the end of the ball.

I was on thorns the whole time, in terror lest the heroine might make
some dreadful slip. She danced so gracefully that everybody gazed at her,
and I was the person who was complimented on her performance.

I suffered a martyrdom, for these compliments seemed to be given with
malicious intent. I suspected that the ballet-girl had been discovered
beneath the countess, and I felt myself dishonoured. I succeeded in
speaking privately to the young wanton for a moment, and begged her to
dance like a young lady, and not like a chorus girl; but she was proud of
her success, and dared to tell me that a young lady might know how to
dance as well as a professional dancer, and that she was not going to
dance badly to please me. I was so enraged with her impudence, that I
would have cast her off that instant if it had been possible; but as it
was not, I determined that her punishment should lose none of its
sharpness by waiting; and whether it be a vice or a virtue, the desire of
revenge is never extinguished in my heart till it is satisfied.

The day after the ball Madame d'Urfe presented her with a casket
containing a beautiful watch set with brilliants, a pair of diamond
ear-rings, and a ring containing a ruby of fifteen carats. The whole was
worth sixty thousand francs. I took possession of it to prevent her going
off without my leave.

In the meanwhile I amused myself with play and making bad acquaintances.
The worst of all was a French officer, named d'Ache, who had a pretty
wife and a daughter prettier still. Before long the daughter had taken
possession of the heart which the Corticelli had lost, but as soon as
Madame d'Ache saw that I preferred her daughter to herself she refused to
receive me at her house.

I had lent d'Ache ten Louis, and I consequently felt myself entitled to
complain of his wife's conduct; but he answered rudely that as I only
went to the house after his daughter, his wife was quite right; that he
intended his daughter to make a good match, and that if my intentions
were honourable I had only to speak to the mother. His manner was still
more offensive than his words, and I felt enraged, but knowing the brutal
drunken characteristics of the man, and that he was always ready to draw
cold steel for a yes or a no, I was silent and resolved to forget the
girl, not caring to become involved with a man like her father.

I had almost cured myself of my fancy when, a few days after our
conversation, I happened to go into a billiard-room where d'Ache was
playing with a Swiss named Schmit, an officer in the Swedish army. As
soon as d'Ache saw me he asked whether I would lay the ten Louis he owed
me against him.

"Yes," said I, "that will make double or quits."

Towards the end of the match d'Ache made an unfair stroke, which was so
evident that the marker told him of it; but as this stroke made him the
winner, d'Ache seized the stakes and put them in his pocket without
heeding the marker or the other player, who, seeing himself cheated
before his very eyes, gave the rascal a blow across the face with his
cue. D'Ache parried the blow with his hand, and drawing his sword rushed
at Schmit, who had no arms. The marker, a sturdy young fellow, caught
hold of d'Ache round the body, and thus prevented murder. The Swiss went
out, saying,

"We shall see each other again."

The rascally Frenchman cooled down, and said to me,

"Now, you see, we are quits."

"Very much quits."

"That's all very well; but, by God! you might have prevented the insult
which has dishonoured me."

"I might have done so, but I did not care to interfere. You are strong
enough to look after yourself. Schmit had not his sword, but I believe
him to be a brave man; and he will give you satisfaction if you will
return him his money, for there can be no doubt that you lost the match."

An officer, named de Pyene, took me up and said that he himself would
give me the twenty louis which d'Ache had taken, but that the Swiss must
give satisfaction. I had no hesitation in promising that he would do so,
and said I would bring a reply to the challenge the next morning.

I had no fears myself. The man of honour ought always to be ready to use
the sword to defend himself from insult, or to give satisfaction for an
insult he has offered. I know that the law of duelling is a prejudice
which may be called, and perhaps rightly, barbarous, but it is a
prejudice which no man of honour can contend against, and I believed
Schmit to be a thorough gentleman.

I called on him at day-break, and found him still in bed. As soon as he
saw me, he said,

"I am sure you have come to ask me to fight with d'Ache. I am quite ready
to burn powder with him, but he must first pay me the twenty Louis he
robbed me of."

"You shall have them to-morrow, and I will attend you. D'Ache will be
seconded by M. de Pyene."

"Very good. I shall expect you at day-break."

Two hours after I saw de Pyene, and we fixed the meeting for the next
day, at six o'clock in the morning. The arms were to be pistols. We chose
a garden, half a league from the town, as the scene of the combat.

At day-break I found the Swiss waiting for me at the door of his
lodgings, carolling the 'ranz-des-vaches', so dear to his
fellow-countrymen. I thought that a good omen.

"Here you are," said he; "let us be off, then."

On the way, he observed, "I have only fought with men of honour up to
now, and I don't much care for killing a rascal; it's hangman's work."

"I know," I replied, "that it's very hard to have to risk one's life
against a fellow like that."

"There's no risk," said Schmit, with a laugh. "I am certain that I shall
kill him."

"How can you be certain?"

"I shall make him tremble."

He was right. This secret is infallible when it is applied to a coward.
We found d'Ache and de Pyene on the field, and five or six others who
must have been present from motives of curiosity.

D'Ache took twenty louis from his pocket and gave them to his enemy,
saying,

"I may be mistaken, but I hope to make you pay dearly for your
brutality." Then turning to me he said,

"I owe you twenty louis also;" but I made no reply.

Schmit put the money in his purse with the calmest air imaginable, and
making no reply to the other's boast placed himself between two trees,
distant about four paces from one another, and drawing two pistols from
his pocket said to d'Ache,

"Place yourself at a distance of ten paces, and fire first. I shall walk
to and fro between these two trees, and you may walk as far if you like
to do so when my turn comes to fire."

Nothing could be clearer or more calmly delivered than this explanation.

"But we must decide," said I, "who is to have the first shot."

"There is no need," said Schmit. "I never fire first, besides, the
gentleman has a right to the first shot."

De Pyene placed his friend at the proper distance and then stepped aside,
and d'Ache fired on his antagonist, who was walking slowly to and fro
without looking at him. Schmit turned round in the coolest manner
possible, and said,

"You have missed me, sir; I knew you would. Try again."

I thought he was mad, and that some arrangement would be come to; but
nothing of the kind. D'Ache fired a second time, and again missed; and
Schmit, without a word, but as calm as death, fired his first pistol in
the air, and then covering d'Ache with his second pistol hit him in the
forehead and stretched him dead on the ground. He put back his pistols
into his pocket and went off directly by himself, as if he were merely
continuing his walk. In two minutes I followed his example, after
ascertaining that the unfortunate d'Ache no longer breathed.

I was in a state of amazement. Such a duel was more like a combat of
romance than a real fact. I could not understand it; I had watched the
Swiss, and had not noticed the slightest change pass over his face.

I breakfasted with Madame d'Urfe, whom I found inconsolable. It was the
full moon, and at three minutes past four exactly I ought to perform the
mysterious creation of the child in which she was to be born again. But
the Lascaris, on whom the work was to be wrought, was twisting and
turning in her bed, contorting herself in such a way that it would be
impossible for me to accomplish the prolific work.

My grief, when I heard what had happened, was hypocritical; in the first
place because I no longer felt any desire for the girl, and in the second
because I thought I saw a way in which I could make use of the incident
to take vengeance on her.

I lavished consolations on Madame d'Urfe; and on consulting the oracle I
found that the Lascaris had been defiled by an evil genius, and that I
must search for another virgin whose purity must be under the protection
of more powerful spirits. I saw that my madwoman was perfectly happy with
this, and I left her to visit the Corticelli, whom I found in bed with
her mother beside her.

"You have convulsions, have you, dearest?" said I.

"No, I haven't. I am quite well, but all the same I shall have them till
you give me back my jewel-casket."

"You are getting wicked, my poor child; this comes of following your
mother's advice. As for the casket, if you are going to behave like this,
probably you will have it."

"I will reveal all."

"You will not be believed; and I shall send you back to Bologna without
letting you take any of the presents which Madame d'Urfe has given you."

"You ought to have given me back the casket when I declared myself with
child."

Signora Laura told me that this was only too true, though I was not the
father.

"Who is, then?" I asked.

"Count N----, whose mistress she was at Prague."

It did not seem probable, as she had no symptoms of pregnancy; still it
might be so. I was obliged to plot myself to bring the plots of these two
rascally women to nought, and without saying anything to them I shut
myself up with Madame d'Urfe to enquire of the oracle concerning the
operation which was to make her happy.

After several answers, more obscure than any returned from the oracular
tripod at Delphi, the interpretation of which I left to the infatuated
Madame d'Urfe, she discovered herself--and I took care not to contradict
her--that the Countess Lascaris had gone mad. I encouraged her fears, and
succeeded in making her obtain from a cabalistic pyramid the statement
that the reason the princess had not conceived was that she had been
defiled by an evil genius--an enemy of the Fraternity of the Rosy Cross.
This put Madame d'Urfe fairly on the way, and she added on her own
account that the girl must be with child by a gnome.

She then erected another pyramid to obtain guidance on our quest, and I
so directed things that the answer came that she must write to the moon.

This mad reply, which should have brought her to her senses, only made
her more crazy than ever. She was quite ecstatic, and I am sure that if I
had endeavoured to shew her the nothingness of all this I show have had
nothing for my trouble. Her conclusion would probably have been that I
was possessed by an evil spirit, and was no longer a true Rosy Cross. But
I had no idea of undertaking a cure which would have done me harm and her
no 'good. Her chimerical notions made her happy, and the cold naked truth
would doubtless have made her unhappy.

She received the order to write to the moon with the greater delight as
she knew what ceremonies were to be observed in addressing that planet;
but she could not dispense with the assistance of an adept, and I knew
she would reckon on me. I told her I should always be ready to serve her,
but that, as she knew herself, we should have to wait for the first phase
of the new moon. I was very glad to gain time, for I had lost heavily at
play, and I could not leave Aix-la-Chapelle before a bill, which I had
drawn on M. d'O. of Amsterdam, was cashed. In the mean time we agreed
that as the Countess Lascaris had become mad, we must not pay any
attention to what she might say, as the words would not be hers but would
proceed from the evil spirit who possessed her.

Nevertheless, we determined that as her state was a pitiable one, and
should be as much alleviated as possible, she should continue to dine
with us, but that in the evening she was to go to her governess and sleep
with her.

After having thus disposed of Madame d'Urfe to disbelieve whatever the
Corticelli cared to tell her, and to concentrate all her energies on the
task of writing to Selenis, the intelligence of the moon, I set myself
seriously to work to regain the money I had lost at play; and here my
cabala was no good to me. I pledged the Corticelli's casket for a
thousand louis, and proceeded to play in an English club where I had a
much better chance of winning than with Germans or Frenchmen.

Three or four days after d'Ache's death, his widow wrote me a note
begging me to call on her. I found her in company with de Pyene. She told
me in a lugubrious voice that her husband had left many debts unsettled,
and that his creditors had seized everything she possessed; and--that she
was thus unable to pay the expenses of a journey, though she wanted to
take her daughter with her to Colmar, and there to rejoin her family.

"You caused my husband's death," she added, "and I ask you to give me a
thousand crowns; if you refuse me I shall commence a lawsuit against you,
for as the Swiss officer has left, you are the only person I can
prosecute."

"I am surprised at your taking such a tone towards me," I replied,
coldly, "and were it not for the respect I feel for your misfortune, I
should answer as bitterly as you deserve. In the first place I have not a
thousand crowns to throw away, and if I had I would not sacrifice my
money to threats. I am curious to know what kind of a case you could get
up against me in the courts of law. As for Schmit, he fought like a brave
gentleman, and I don't think you could get much out of him if he were
still here. Good-day, madam."

I had scarcely got fifty paces from the house when I was joined by de
Pyene, who said that rather than Madame d'Ache should have to complain of
me he would cut my throat on the spot. We neither of us had swords.

"Your intention is not a very flattering one," said I, "and there is
something rather brutal about it. I had rather not have any affair of the
kind with a man whom I don't know and to whom I owe nothing."

"You are a coward."

"I would be, you mean, if I were to imitate you. It is a matter of
perfect indifference to me what opinion you may have on the subject.

"You will be sorry for this."

"Maybe, but I warn you that I never go out unattended by a pair of
pistols, which I keep in good order and know how to use." So saying I
shewd him the pistols, and took one in my right hand.

At this the bully uttered an oath and we separated.

At a short distance from the place where this scene had occurred I met a
Neapolitan named Maliterni, a lieutenant-colonel and aide to the Prince
de Condo, commander-in-chief of the French army. This Maliterni was a
boon companion, always ready to oblige, and always short of money. We
were friends, and I told him what had happened.

"I should be sorry," said I, "to have anything to do with a fellow like
de Pyene, and if you can rid me of him I promise you a hundred crowns."

"I daresay that can be managed," he replied, "and I will tell you what I
can do to-morrow!"

In point of fact, he brought me news the next day that my cut-throat had
received orders from his superior officer to leave Aix-la-Chapelle at
day-break, and at the same time he gave me a passport from the Prince de
Conde.

I confess that this was very pleasant tidings. I have never feared to
cross my sword with any man, though never sought the barbarous pleasure
of spilling men's blood; but on this occasion I felt an extreme dislike
to a duel with a fellow who was probably of the same caste as his friend
d'Ache.

I therefore gave Maliterni my heartiest thanks, as well as the hundred
crowns I had promised him, which I considered so well employed that I did
not regret their loss.

Maliterni, who was a jester of the first water, and a creature of the
Marshal d'Estrees, was lacking neither in wit nor knowledge; but he was
deficient in a sense of order and refinement. He was a pleasant
companion, for his gaiety was inexhaustible and he had a large knowledge
of the world. He attained the rank of field-marshal in 1768, and went to
Naples to marry a rich heiress, whom he left a widow a year after.

The day after de Pyene's departure I received a note from Mdlle. d'Ache,
begging me, for the sake of her sick mother, to come and see her. I
answered that I would be at such a place at such a time, and that she
could say what she liked to me.

I found her at the place and time I appointed, with her mother, whose
illness, it appeared, did not prevent her from going out. She called me
her persecutor, and said that since the departure of her best friend, de
Pyene, she did not know where to turn; that she had pledged all her
belongings, and that I, who was rich, ought to aid her, if I were not the
vilest of men.

"I feel for your condition," I replied, "as I feel your abuse of me; and
I cannot help saying that you have shewn yourself the vilest of women in
inciting de Pyene, who may be an honest man for all I know, to
assassinate me. In fine, rich or not, and though I owe you nothing, I
will give you enough money to take your property out of pawn, and I may
possibly take you to Colmar myself, but you must first consent to my
giving your charming daughter a proof of my affection."

"And you dare to make this horrible proposal to me?"

"Horrible or not, I do make it."

"I will never consent."

"Good day, madam."

I called the waiter to pay him for the refreshments I had ordered, and I
gave the girl six double louis, but her proud mother forbade her to
accept the money from me. I was not surprised, in spite of her distress;
for the mother was in reality still more charming than the daughter, and
she knew it. I ought to have given her the preference, and thus have
ended the dispute, but who can account for his whims? I felt that she
must hate me, for she did not care for her daughter, and it must have
humiliated her bitterly to be obliged to regard her as a victorious
rival.

I left them still holding the six double louis, which pride or scorn had
refused, and I went to the faro-table and decided in sacrificing them to
fortune; but that capricious deity, as proud as the haughty widow,
refused them, and though I left them on the board for five deals I almost
broke the bank. An Englishman, named Martin, offered to go shares with
me, and I accepted, as I knew he was a good player; and in the course of
eight or ten days we did such good business that I was not only able to
take the casket out of pledge and to cover all losses, but made a
considerable profit in addition.

About this period, the Corticelli, in her rage against me, had told
Madame d'Urfe the whole history of her life, of our acquaintance, and of
her pregnancy. But the more truthfully she told her story so much the
more did the good lady believe her to be mad, and we often laughed
together at the extraordinary fancies of the traitress. Madame d'Urfe put
all her trust in the instructions which Selenis would give in reply to
her letter.

Nevertheless, as the girl's conduct displeased me, I made her eat her
meals with her mother, while I kept Madame d'Urfe company. I assured her
that we should easily find another vessel of election, the madness of the
Countess Lascaris having made her absolutely incapable of participating
in our mysterious rites.

Before long, d'Ache's widow found herself obliged to give me her Mimi;
but I won her by kindness, and in such a way that the mother could
pretend with decency to know nothing about it. I redeemed all the goods
she had pawned, and although the daughter had not yet yielded entirely to
my ardour, I formed the plan of taking them to Colmar with Madame d'Urfe.
To make up the good lady's mind, I resolved to let that be one of the
instructions from the moon, and this she would not only obey blindly but
would have no suspicions as to my motive.

I managed the correspondence between Selenis and Madame d'Urfe in the
following manner:

On the day appointed, we supped together in a garden beyond the town
walls, and in a room on the ground floor of the house I had made all the
necessary preparations, the letter which was to fall from the moon, in
reply to Madame d'Urfe's epistle, being in my pocket. At a little
distance from the chamber of ceremonies I had placed a large bath filled
with lukewarm water and perfumes pleasing to the deity of the night, into
which we were to plunge at the hour of the moon, which fell at one
o'clock.

When we had burnt incense, and sprinkled the essences appropriate to the
cult of Selenis, we took off all our clothes, and holding the letter
concealed in my left hand, with the right I graciously led Madame d'Urfe
to the brink of the bath. Here stood an alabaster cup containing spirits
of wine which I kindled, repeating magical words which I did not
understand, but which she said after me, giving me the letter addressed
to Selenis. I burnt the letter in the flame of the spirits, beneath the
light of the moon, and the credulous lady told me she saw the characters
she had traced ascending in the rays of the planet.

We then got into the bath, and the letter, which was written in silver
characters on green paper appeared on the surface of the water in the
course of ten minutes. As soon as Madame d'Urfe saw it, she picked it up
reverently and got out of the bath with me.

We dried and scented ourselves, and proceeded to put on our clothes. As
soon as we were in a state of decency I told Madame d'Urfe that she might
read the epistle, which she had placed on a scented silk cushion. She
obeyed, and I saw sadness visibly expressed on her features when she saw
that her hypostasis was deferred till the arrival of Querilinthus, whom
she would see with me at Marseilles in the spring of next year. The
genius also said that the Countess Lascaris could not only do her harm,
and that she should consult me as to the best means of getting rid of
her. The letter ended by ordering her not to leave at Aix a lady who had
lost her husband, and had a daughter who was destined to be of great
service to the fraternity of the R. C. She was to take them to Alsace,
and not to leave them till they were there, and safe from that danger
which threatened them if they were left to themselves.

Madame d'Urfe, who with all her folly was an exceedingly benevolent
woman, commended the widow to my care enthusiastically, and seemed
impatient to hear her whole history. I told her all the circumstances
which I thought would strengthen her in her resolution to befriend them,
and promised to introduce the ladies to them at the first opportunity.

We returned to Aix, and spent the night in discussing the phantoms which
coursed through her brain. All was going on well, and my only care was
for the journey to Aix, and how to obtain the complete enjoyment of Mimi
after having so well deserved her favours.

I had a run of luck at play the next day, and in the evening I gave
Madame d'Ache an agreeable surprise by telling her that I should
accompany her and her Mimi to Colmar. I told her that I should begin by
introducing her to the lady whom I had the honour to accompany, and I
begged her to be ready by the next day as the marchioness was impatient
to see her. I could see that she could scarcely believe her ears, for she
thought Madame d'Urfe was in love with me, and she could not understand
her desire to make the acquaintance of two ladies who might be dangerous
rivals.

I conducted them to Madame d'Urfe at the appointed hour, and they were
received with a warmth which surprised them exceedingly, for they could
not be expected to know that their recommendation came from the moon. We
made a party of four, and while the two ladies talked together in the
fashion of ladies who have seen the world, I paid Mimi a particular
attention, which her mother understood very well, but which Madame d'Urfe
attributed to the young lady's connection with the Rosy Cross.

In the evening we all went to a ball, and there the Corticelli, who was
always trying to annoy me, danced as no young lady would dance. She
executed rapid steps, pirouetted, cut capers, and shewed her legs; in
short, she behaved like a ballet-girl. I was on thorns. An officer, who
either ignored, or pretended to ignore, my supposed relation to her,
asked me if she was a professional dancer. I heard another man behind me
say that he thought he remembered seeing her on the boards at Prague. I
resolved on hastening my departure, as I foresaw that if I stayed much
longer at Aix the wretched girl would end by costing me my life.

As I have said, Madame d'Ache had a good society manner, and this put her
in Madame d'Urfe's good graces, who saw in her politeness a new proof of
the favour of Selenis. Madame d'Ache felt, I suppose, that she awed me
some return after all I had done for her, and left the ball early, so
that when I took Mimi home I found myself alone with her, and at perfect
liberty to do what I liked. I profited by the opportunity, and remained
with Mimi for two hours, finding her so complaisant and even passionate
that when I left her I had nothing more to desire.

In three days time I provided the mother and daughter with their outfit,
and we left Aix gladly in an elegant and convenient travelling carriage
which I had provided. Half an hour before we left I made an acquaintance
which afterwards proved fatal to me. A Flemish officer, unknown to me,
accosted me, and painted his destitute condition in such sad colours that
I felt obliged to give him twelve louis. Ten minutes after, he gave me a
paper in which he acknowledged the debt, and named the time in which he
could pay it. From the paper I ascertained that his name was Malingan. In
ten months the reader will hear the results.

Just as we were starting I shewed the Corticelli a carriage with four
places, in which she, her mother, and the two maids, were to travel. At
this she trembled, her pride was wounded, and for a moment I thought she
was going out of her mind; she rained sobs, abuse, and curses on me. I
stood the storm unmoved, however, and Madame d'Urfe only laughed at her
niece's paroxysms, and seemed delighted to find herself sitting opposite
to me with the servant of Selenis beside her, while Mimi was highly
pleased to be so close to me.

We got to Liege at nightfall on the next day, and I contrived to make
Madame d'Urfe stay there the day following, wishing to get horses to take
us through the Ardennes, and thus to have the charming Mimi longer in my
possession.

I rose early and went out to see the town. By the great bridge, a woman,
so wrapped up in a black mantilla that only the tip of her nose was
visible, accosted me, and asked me to follow her into a house with an
open door which she shewed me.

"As I have not the pleasure of knowing you," I replied, "prudence will
not allow me to do so."

"You do know me, though," she replied, and taking me to the corner of a
neighbouring street she shewed me her face. What was my surprise to see
the fair Stuart of Avignon, the statue of the Fountain of Vaucluse. I was
very glad to meet her.

In my curiosity I followed her into the house, to a room on the first
floor, where she welcomed me most tenderly. It was all no good, for I
felt angry with her, and despised her advances, no doubt, because I had
Mimi, and wished to keep all my love for her. However, I took three louis
out of my purse and gave them to her, asking her to tell me her history.

"Stuart," she said, "was only my keeper; my real name is Ranson, and I am
the mistress of a rich landed proprietor. I got back to Liege after many
sufferings."

"I am delighted to hear that you are more prosperous now, but it must be
confessed that your behaviour at Avignon was both preposterous and
absurd. But the subject is not worth discussing. Good day, madam."

I then returned to my hotel to write an account of what I had seen to the
Marquis Grimaldi.

The next day we left Liege, and were two days passing through the
Ardennes. This is one of the strangest tracts in Europe: a vast forest,
the traditions of which furnished Ariosto with some splendid passages.

There is no town in the forest, and though one is obliged to cross it to
pass from one country to another, hardly any of the necessaries of life
are to be found in it.

The enquirer will seek in vain for vices or virtues, or manners of any
kind. The inhabitants are devoid of correct ideas, but have wild notions
of their own on the power of men they style scholars. It is enough to be
a doctor to enjoy the reputation of an astrologer and a wizard.
Nevertheless the Ardennes have a large population, as I was assured that
there were twelve hundred churches in the forest. The people are
good-hearted and even pleasant, especially the young girls; but as a
general rule the fair sex is by no means fair in those quarters. In this
vast district watered by the Meuse is the town of Bouillon--a regular
hole, but in my time it was the freest place in Europe. The Duke of
Bouillon was so jealous of his rights that he preferred the exercise of
his prerogatives to all the honours he might have enjoyed at the Court of
France. We stayed a day at Metz, but did not call on anyone; and in three
days we reached Colmar, where we left Madame d'Ache, whose good graces I
had completely won. Her family, in extremely comfortable circumstances,
received the mother and daughter with great affection. Mimi wept bitterly
when I left her, but I consoled her by saying that I would come back
before long. Madame d'Urfe seemed not to mind leaving them, and I
consoled myself easily enough. While congratulating myself on having made
mother and daughter happy, I adored the secret paths and ways of Divine
Providence.

On the following day we went to Sulzbach, where the Baron of Schaumburg,
who knew Madame d'Urfe, gave us a warm welcome. I should have been sadly
boared in this dull place if it had not been for gaming. Madame d'Urfe,
finding herself in need of company, encouraged the Corticelli to hope to
regain my good graces, and, consequently, her own. The wretched girl,
seeing how easily I had defeated her projects, and to what a pass of
humiliation I had brought her, had changed her part, and was now
submissive enough. She flattered herself that she would regain the favour
she had completely lost, and she thought the day was won when she saw
that Madame d'Ache and her daughter stayed at Colmar. But what she had
more at heart than either my friendship or Madame d'Urfe's was the
jewel-casket; but she dared not ask for it, and her hopes of seeing it
again were growing dim. By her pleasantries at table which made Madame
d'Urfe laugh she succeeded in giving me a few amorous twinges; but still
I did not allow my feelings to relax my severity, and she continued to
sleep with her mother.

A week after our arrival at Sulzbach I left Madame d'Urfe with the Baron
of Schaumburg, and I went to Colmar in the hope of good fortune. But I
was disappointed, as the mother and daughter had both made arrangements
for getting married.

A rich merchant, who had been in love with the mother eighteen years
before, seeing her a widow and still pretty, felt his early flames
revive, and offered his hand and was accepted. A young advocate found
Mimi to his taste, and asked her in marriage. The mother and daughter,
fearing the results of my affection, and finding it would be a good
match, lost no time in giving their consent. I was entertained in the
family, and supped in the midst of a numerous and choice assemblage; but
seeing that I should only annoy the ladies and tire myself in waiting for
some chance favour if I stayed, I bade them adieu and returned to
Sulzbach the next morning. I found there a charming girl from Strasburg,
named Salzmann, three or four gamesters who had come to drink the waters,
and several ladies, to whom I shall introduce the reader in the ensuing
chapter.



CHAPTER XVI

I Send The Corticelli to Turin--Helen is Initiated Into The Mysteries of
Love I Go to Lyons--My Arrival at Turin

One of the ladies, Madame Saxe, was intended by nature to win the
devotion of a man of feeling; and if she had not had a jealous officer in
her train who never let her go out of his sight, and seemed to threaten
anyone who aspired to please, she would probably have had plenty of
admirers. This officer was fond of piquet, but the lady was always
obliged to sit close beside him, which she seemed to do with pleasure.

In the afternoon I played with him, and continued doing so for five or
six days. After that I could stand it no longer, as when he had won ten
or twelve louis he invariably rose and left me to myself. His name was
d'Entragues; he was a fine-looking man, though somewhat thin, and had a
good share of wit and knowledge of the world.

We had not played together for two days, when one afternoon he asked if I
would like to take my revenge.

"No, I think not," said I, "for we don't play on the same principle. I
play for amusement's sake and you play to win money."

"What do you mean? Your words are offensive."

"I didn't mean them to be offensive, but as a matter of fact, each time
we have played you have risen after a quarter of an hour."

"You ought to be obliged to me, as otherwise you would have lost
heavily."

"Possibly; but I don't think so."

"I can prove it to you:"

"I accept the offer, but the first to leave the table must forfeit fifty
Louis."

"I agree; but money down."

"I never play on credit."

I ordered a waiter to bring cards, and I went to fetch four or five rolls
of a hundred Louis each. We began playing for five Louis the game, each
player putting down the fifty Louis wagered.

We began to play at three, and at nine o'clock d'Entragues said we might
take some supper.

"I am not hungry," I replied, "but you can go if you want me to put the
hundred Louis in my pocket."

He laughed at this and went on playing, but this lacy fair scowled at me,
though I did not care in the least for that. All the guests went to
supper, and returned to keep us company till midnight, but at that hour
we found ourselves alone. D'Entragues saw what kind of man he had got
hold of and said never a word, while I only opened my lips to score; we
played with the utmost coolness.

At six o'clock the ladies and gentlemen who were taking the waters began
to assemble. We were applauded for our determination, in spite of our
grim look. The Louis were on the table; I had lost a hundred, and yet the
game was going in my favour.

At nine the fair Madame Saxe put in an appearance, and shortly after
Madame d'Urfe came in with M. de Schaumburg. Both ladies advised us to
take a cup of chocolate. D'Entragues was the first to consent, and
thinking that I was almost done he said,--

"Let us agree that the first man who asks for food, who absents himself
for more than a quarter of an hour, or who falls asleep in his chair,
loses the bet."

"I will take you at your word," I replied, "and I adhere to all your
conditions."

The chocolate came, we took it, and proceeded with our play. At noon we
were summoned to dinner, but we both replied that we were not hungry. At
four o'clock we allowed ourselves to be persuaded into taking some soup.
When supper-time came and we were still playing, people began to think
that the affair was getting serious, and Madame Saxe urged us to divide
the wager. D'Entragues, who had won a hundred louis, would have gladly
consented, but I would not give in, and M. de Schaumburg pronounced me
within my rights. My adversary might have abandoned the stake and still
found himself with a balance to the good, but avarice rather than pride
prevented his doing so. I felt the loss myself, but what I cared chiefly
about was the point of honour. I still looked fresh, while he resembled a
disinterred corpse. As Madame Saxe urged me strongly to give way, I
answered that I felt deeply grieved at not being able to satisfy such a
charming woman, but that there was a question of honour in the case; and
I was determined not to yield to my antagonist if I sat there till I fell
dead to the ground.

I had two objects in speaking thus: I wanted to frighten him and to make
him jealous of me. I felt certain that a man in a passion of jealousy
would be quite confused, and I hoped his play would suffer accordingly,
and that I should not have the mortification of losing a hundred louis to
his superior play, though I won the fifty louis of the wager.

The fair Madame Saxe gave me a glance of contempt and left us, but Madame
d'Urfe, who believed I was infallible, avenged me by saying to
d'Entragues, in a tone of the profoundest conviction,--

"O Lord! I pity you, sir."

The company did not return after supper, and we were left alone to our
play. We played on all the night, and I observed my antagonist's face as
closely as the cards. He began to lose his composure, and made mistakes,
his cards got mixed up, and his scoring was wild. I was hardly less done
up than he; I felt myself growing weaker, and I hoped to see him fall to
the ground every moment, as I began to be afraid of being beaten in spite
of the superior strength of my constitution. I had won back my money by
day-break, and I cavilled with him for being away for more than a quarter
of an hour. This quarrel about nothing irritated him, and roused me up;
the difference of our natures produced these different results, and my
stratagem succeeded because it was impromptu, and could not have been
foreseen. In the same way in war, sudden stratagems succeed.

At nine o'clock Madame Saxe came in, her lover was losing.

"Now, sir," she said to me, "you may fairly yield."

"Madam," said I, "in hope of pleasing you, I will gladly divide the
stakes and rise from the table."

The tone of exaggerated gallantry with which I pronounced these words,
put d'Entragues into a rage, and he answered sharply that he would not
desist till one of us was dead.

With a glance at the lady which was meant to be lovelorn, but which must
have been extremely languid in my exhausted state, I said,--

"You see, Madam, that I am not the more obstinate of the two."

A dish of soup was served to us, but d'Entragues, who was in the last
stage of exhaustion, had no sooner swallowed the soup than he fell from
his chair in a dead faint. He was soon taken up, and after I had given
six louis to the marker who had been watching for forty-eight hours, I
pocketed the gold, and went to the apothecary's where I took a mild
emetic. Afterwards I went to bed and slept for a few hours, and at three
o'clock I made an excellent dinner.

D'Entragues remained in his room till the next day. I expected a quarrel,
but the night brings counsel, and I made a mistake. As soon as he saw me
he ran up to me and embraced me, saying,--

"I made a silly bet, but you have given me a lesson which will last me
all my days, and I am much obliged to you for it."

"I am delighted to hear it, provided that your health has not suffered."

"No, I am quite well, but we will play no more together."

"Well, I hope we shan't play against each other any more."

In the course of eight or ten days I took Madame d'Urfe and the pretended
Lascaris to Bale. We put up at the inn of the famous Imhoff, who swindled
us, but, all the same, the "Three Kings" is the best inn in the town. I
think I have noted that noon at Bale is at eleven o'clock--an absurdity
due to some historic event, which I had explained to me but have
forgotten. The inhabitants are said to be subject to a kind of madness,
of which they are cured by taking the waters of Sulzbach; but they 'get
it again as soon as they return.

We should have stayed at Bale some time, if it had not been for an
incident which made me hasten our departure. It was as follows:

My necessities had obliged me to forgive the Corticelli to a certain
extent, and when I came home early I spent the night with her; but when I
came home late, as often happened, I slept in my own room. The little
hussy, in the latter case, slept also alone in a room next to her
mother's, through whose chamber one had to pass to get to the daughter's.

One night I came in at one o'clock, and not feeling inclined to sleep, I
took a candle and went in search of my charmer. I was rather surprised to
find Signora Laura's door half open, and just as I was going in the old
woman came forward and took me by the arm, begging me not to go into her
daughter's room.

"Why?" said I.

"She has been very poorly all the evening, and she is in need of sleep."

"Very good; then I will sleep too."

So saying I pushed the mother to one side, and entering the girl's room I
found her in bed with someone who was hiding under the sheets.

I 'gazed at the picture for a moment and then began to laugh, and sitting
down on the bed begged to enquire the name of the happy individual whom I
should have the pleasure of throwing out of the window. On a chair I saw
the coat, trousers, hat, and cane of the gentleman; but as I had my two
trusty pistols about me I knew I had nothing to fear; however, I did not
want to make a noise.

With tears in her eyes, and trembling all over, the girl took my hand and
begged me to forgive her.

"It's a young lord," said she, "and I don't even know his name."

"Oh, he is a young lord, is he? and you don't know his name, you little
hussy, don't you? Well, he will tell me himself."

So saying, I took a pistol and vigorously stripped the sheets off the
cuckoo who had got into my nest. I saw the face of a young man whom I did
not know, his head covered with a nightcap, but the rest perfectly naked,
as indeed was my mistress. He turned his back to me to get his shirt
which he had thrown on the floor, but seizing him by the arm I held him
firmly, with my pistol to his forehead.

"Kindly tell me your name, fair sir."

"I am Count B----, canon of Bale."

"And do you think you have been performing an ecclesiastical function
here?"

"No sir, no, and I hope you will forgive me and the lady too, for I am
the only guilty party."

"I am not asking you whether she is guilty or not."

"Sir, the countess is perfectly innocent."

I felt in a good temper, and far from being angry I was strongly inclined
to laugh. I found the picture before me an attractive one; it was amusing
and voluptuous. The sight of the two nudities on the bed was a truly
lascivious one, and I remained contemplating it in silence for a quarter
of an hour, occupied in resisting a strong temptation to take off my
clothes and lie beside them. The only thing which prevented my yielding
to it was the fear that I might find the canon to be a fool, incapable of
playing the part with dignity. As for the Corticelli, she soon passed
from tears to laughter, and would have done it well, but if, as I feared,
the canon was a blockhead, I should have been degrading myself.

I felt certain that neither of them had guessed my thoughts, so I rose
and told the canon to put on his clothes.

"No one must hear anything more of this," said I, "but you and I will go
to a distance of two hundred paces and burn a little powder."

"No, no, sir," cried my gentleman, "you may take me where you like, and
kill me if you please, but I was not meant for a fighting man."

"Really?"

"Yes, sir, and I only became a priest to escape the fatal duty of
duelling."

"Then you are a coward, and will not object to a good thrashing?"

"Anything you like, but it would be cruelty, for my love blinded me. I
only came here a quarter of an hour ago, and the countess and her
governess were both asleep."

"You are a liar."

"I had only just taken off my shirt when you came, and I have never seen
this angel before."

"And that's gospel truth," said the Corticelli.

"Are you aware that you are a couple of impudent scoundrels? And as for
you, master canon, you deserve to be roasted like St. Laurence."

In the meanwhile the wretched ecclesiastic had huddled on his clothes.

"Follow me, sir," said I, in a tone which froze the marrow of his bones;
and I accordingly took him to my room.

"What will you do," said I, "if I forgive you and let you go without
putting you to shame?"

"I will leave in an hour and a half, and you shall never see me here
again; but even if we meet in the future, you will find me always ready
to do you a service."

"Very good. Begone, and in the future take more precautions in your
amorous adventures."

After this I went to bed, well pleased with what I had seen and what I
had done, for I now had complete power over the Corticelli.

In the morning I called on her as soon as I got up, and told her to pack
up her things, forbidding her to leave her room till she got into the
carriage.

"I shall say I am ill."

"Just as you please, but nobody will take any notice of you."

I did not wait for her to make any further objections, but proceeded to
tell the tale of what had passed to Madame d'Urfe, slightly embroidering
the narrative. She laughed heartily, and enquired of the oracle what must
be done with the Lascaris after her evident pollution by the evil genius
disguised as a priest. The oracle replied that we must set out the next
day for Besancon, whence she would go to Lyons and await me there, while
I would take the countess to Geneva, and thus send her back to her native
country.

The worthy visionary was enchanted with this arrangement, and saw in it
another proof of the benevolence of Selenis, who would thus give her an
opportunity of seeing young Aranda once more. It was agreed that I was to
rejoin her in the spring of the following year, to perform the great
operation which was to make her be born a man. She had not the slightest
doubts as to the reasonableness of this performance.

All was ready, and the next day we started; Madame d'Urfe and I in the
travelling carriage, and the Corticelli, her mother, and the servants in
another conveyance.

When we got to Besancon Madame d'Urfe left me, and on the next day I
journeyed towards Geneva with the mother and daughter.

On the way I not only did not speak to my companions, I did not so much
as look at them. I made them have their meals with a servant from the
Franche Comte, whom I had taken on M. de Schaumburg's recommendation.

I went to my banker, and asked him to get me a good coachman, who would
take two ladies of my acquaintance to Turin.

When I got back to the inn I wrote to the Chevalier Raiberti, sending him
a bill of exchange. I warned him that in three or four days after the
receipt of my letter he would be accosted by a Bolognese dancer and her
mother, bearing a letter of commendation. I begged him to see that they
lodged in a respectable house, and to pay for them on my behalf. I also
said that I should be much obliged if he would contrive that she should
dance, even for nothing, at the carnival, and I begged him to warn her
that, if I heard any tales about her when I came to Turin, our relations
would be at an end.

The following day a clerk of M. Tronchin's brought a coachman for me to
see. The man said he was ready to start as soon as he had had his dinner.
I confirmed the agreement he had made with the banker, I summoned the two
Corticellis, and said to the coachman,

"These are the persons you are to drive, and they will pay you when they
reach Turin in safety with their luggage. You are to take four days and a
half for the journey, as is stipulated in the agreement, of which they
have one copy and you another." An hour after he called to put the
luggage in.

The Corticelli burst into tears, but I was not so cruel as to send her
away without any consolation. Her bad conduct had been severely enough
punished already. I made her dine with me, and as I gave her the letter
for M. Raiberti, and twenty-five Louis for the journey, I told her what I
had written to the gentleman, who would take good care of them. She asked
me for a trunk containing three dresses and a superb mantle which Madame
d'Urfe had given her before she became mad, but I said that we would talk
of that at Turin. She dared not mention the casket, but continued
weeping; however, she did not move me to pity. I left her much better off
than when I first knew her; she had good clothes, good linen, jewels, and
an exceedingly pretty watch I had given her; altogether a good deal more
than she deserved.

As she was going I escorted her to the carriage, less for politeness'
sake than to commend her once more to the coachman. When she was fairly
gone I felt as if a load had been taken off my back, and I went to look
up my worthy syndic, whom the reader will not have forgotten. I had not
written to him since I was in Florence, and I anticipated the pleasure of
seeing his surprise, which was extreme. But after gazing at me for a
moment he threw his arms round my neck, kissed me several times, and said
he had not expected the pleasure of seeing me.

"How are our sweethearts getting on?"

"Excellently. They are always talking about you and regretting your
absence; they will go wild with joy when they know you are here."

"You must tell them directly, then."

"I will go and warn them that we shall all sup together this evening. By
the way, M. de Voltaire has given up his house at Delices to M. de
Villars, and has gone to live at Ferney."

"That makes no difference to me, as I was not thinking of calling on him
this time. I shall be here for two or three weeks, and I mean to devote
my time to you."

"You are too good."

"Will you give me writing materials before you go out? I will write a few
letters while you are away."

He put me in possession of his desk, and I wrote to my late housekeeper,
Madame Lebel, telling her that I was going to spend three weeks at
Geneva, and that if I were sure of seeing her I would gladly pay a visit
to Lausanne. Unfortunately, I also wrote to the bad Genoese poet, Ascanio
Pogomas, or Giaccomo Passano, whom I had met at Leghorn. I told him to go
to Turin and to wait for me there. At the same time I wrote to M. F----,
to whom I had commended him, asking him to give the poet twelve Louis for
the journey.

My evil genius made me think of this man, who was an imposing-looking
fellow, and had all the air of a magician, to introduce him to Madame
d'Urfe as a great adept. You will see, dear reader, in the course of a
year whether I had reason to repent of this fatal inspiration.

As the syndic and I were on our way to our young friend's house I saw an
elegant English carriage for sale, and I exchanged it for mine, giving
the owner a hundred Louis as well. While the bargain was going on the
uncle of the young theologian who argued so well, and to whom I had given
such pleasant lessons in physiology, came up to me, embraced me, and
asked me to dine with him the next day.

Before we got to the house the syndic informed me that we should find
another extremely pretty but uninitiated girl present.

"All the better," said I, "I shall know how to regulate my conduct, and
perhaps I may succeed in initiating her."

In my pocket I had placed a casket containing a dozen exquisite rings. I
had long been aware that such trifling presents are often very
serviceable.

The moment of meeting those charming girls once more was one of the
happiest I have ever enjoyed. In their greeting I read delight and love
of pleasure. Their love was without envy or jealousy, or any ideas which
would have injured their self-esteem. They felt worthy of my regard, as
they had lavished their favours on me without any degrading feelings, and
drawn by the same emotion that had drawn me.

The presence of the neophyte obliged us to greet each other with what is
called decency, and she allowed me to kiss her without raising her eyes,
but blushing violently.

After the usual commonplaces had passed and we had indulged in some
double meanings which made us laugh and her look thoughtful, I told her
she was pretty as a little love, and that I felt sure that her mind, as
beautiful as its casket, could harbour no prejudices.

"I have all the prejudices which honour and religion suggest," she
modestly replied.

I saw that this was a case requiring very delicate treatment. There was
no question of carrying the citadel by sudden assault. But, as usual, I
fell in love with her.

The syndic having pronounced my name, she said,--

"Ah! then, you, sir, are the person who discussed some very singular
questions with my cousin, the pastor's niece. I am delighted to make your
acquaintance."

"I am equally pleased to make yours, but I hope the pastor's niece said
nothing against me."

"Not at all; she has a very high opinion of you."

"I am going to dine with her to-morrow, and I shall take care to thank
her."

"To-morrow! I should like to be there, for I enjoy philosophical
discussions though I never dare to put a word in."

The syndic praised her discretion and wisdom in such a manner that I was
convinced he was in love with her, and that he had either seduced her or
was trying to do so. Her name was Helen. I asked the young ladies if
Helen was their sister. The eldest replied, with a sly smile, that she
was a sister, but as yet she had no brother; and with this explanation
she ran up to Helen and kissed her. Then the syndic and I vied with each
other in paying her compliments, telling her that we hoped to be her
brothers. She blushed, but gave no answer to our gallantries. I then drew
forth my casket, and seeing that all the girls were enchanted with the
rings, I told them to choose which ones they liked best. The charming
Helen imitated their example, and repaid me with a modest kiss. Soon
after she left us, and we were once more free, as in old times.

The syndic had good cause to shew for his love of Helen. She was not
merely pleasing, she was made to inspire a violent passion. However, the
three friends had no hope of making her join in their pleasures, for they
said that she had invincible feelings of modesty where men were
concerned.

We supped merrily, and after supper we began our sports again, the syndic
remaining as usual a mere looker-on, and well pleased with his part. I
treated each of the three nymphs to two courses, deceiving them whenever
I was forced by nature to do so. At midnight we broke up, and the worthy
syndic escorted me to the door of my lodging.

The day following I went to the pastor's and found a numerous party
assembled, amongst others M. d'Harcourt and M. de Ximenes, who told me
that M. de Voltaire knew that I was at Geneva and hoped to see me. I
replied by a profound bow. Mdlle. Hedvig, the pastor's niece,
complimented me, but I was still better pleased to see her cousin Helen.
The theologian of twenty-two was fair and pleasant to the eyes, but she
had not that 'je ne sais quoi', that shade of bitter-sweet, which adds
zest to hope as well as pleasure. However, the evident friendship between
Hedvig and Helen gave me good hopes of success with the latter.

We had an excellent dinner, and while it lasted the conversation was
restricted to ordinary topics; but at dessert the pastor begged M. de
Ximenes to ask his niece some questions. Knowing his worldwide
reputation, I expected him to put her some problem in geometry, but he
only asked whether a lie could be justified on the principle of a mental
reservation.

Hedvig replied that there are cases in which a lie is necessary, but that
the principle of a mental reservation is always a cheat.

"Then how could Christ have said that the time in which the world was to
come to an end was unknown to Him?"

"He was speaking the truth; it was not known to Him."

"Then he was not God?"

"That is a false deduction, for since God may do all things, He may
certainly be ignorant of an event in futurity."

I thought the way in which she brought in the word "futurity" almost
sublime. Hedvig was loudly applauded, and her uncle went all round the
table to kiss her. I had a very natural objection on the tip of my
tongue, which she might have found difficult to answer, but I wanted to
get into her good graces and I kept my own counsel.

M. d'Harcourt was urged to ask her some questions, but he replied in the
words of Horace, 'Nulla mihi religio est'. Then Hedvig turned to me and
asked me to put her some hard question, "something difficult, which you
don't know yourself."

"I shall be delighted. Do you grant that a god possesses in a supreme
degree the qualities of man?"

"Yes, excepting man's weaknesses."

"Do you class the generative power as a weakness?"

"No."

"Will you tell me, then, of what nature would have been the offspring of
a union between a god and a mortal woman?"

Hedvig looked as red as fire.

The pastor and the other guests looked at each other, while I gazed
fixedly at the young theologian, who was reflecting. M. d'Harcourt said
that we should have to send for Voltaire to settle a question so
difficult, but as Hedvig had collected her thoughts and seemed ready to
speak everybody was silent.

"It would be absurd," said she, "to suppose that a deity could perform
such an action without its having any results. At the end of nine months
a woman would be delivered a male child, which would be three parts man
and one part god."

At these words all the guests applauded, M. de Ximenes expressed his
admiration of the way the question had been solved, adding,--

"Naturally, if the son of the woman married, his children would be
seven-eighths men and one-eighth gods."

"Yes," said I, "unless he married a goddess, which would have made the
proportion different."

"Tell me exactly," said Hedvig, "what proportion of divinity there would
be in a child of the sixteenth generation."

"Give me a pencil and I will soon tell you," said M. de Ximenes.

"There is no need to calculate it," said I; "the child would have some
small share of the wit which you enjoy."

Everybody applauded this gallant speech, which did not by any means
offend the lady to whom it was addressed.

This pretty blonde was chiefly desirable for the charms of her intellect.
We rose from the table and made a circle round her, but she told us with
much grace not to pay her any more compliments.

I took Helen aside, and told her to get her cousin to choose a ring from
my casket, which I gave her, and she seemed glad to execute the
commission. A quarter of an hour afterwards Hedvig came to shew me her
hand adorned with the ring she had chosen. I kissed it rapturously, and
she must have guessed from the warmth of my kisses with what feelings she
had inspired me.

In the evening Helen told the syndic and the three girls all about the
morning's discussion without leaving out the smallest detail. She told
the story with ease and grace, and I had no occasion to prompt her. We
begged her to stay to supper, but she whispered something to the three
friends, and they agreed that it was impossible; but she said that she
might spend a couple of days with them in their country house on the
lake, if they would ask her mother.

At the syndic's request the girls called on the mother the next day, and
the day after that they went off with Helen. The same evening we went and
supped with them, but we could not sleep there. The syndic was to take me
to a house at a short distance off, where we should be very comfortable.
This being the case there was no hurry, and the eldest girl said that the
syndic and I could leave whenever we liked, but that they were going to
bed. So saying she took Helen to her room, while the two others slept in
another room. Soon after the syndic went into the room where Helen was,
and I visited the two others.

I had scarcely been with my two sweethearts for an hour when the syndic
interrupted my erotic exploits by begging me to go.

"What have you done with Helen?" I asked.

"Nothing; she's a simpleton, and an intractable one. She hid under the
sheets and would not look at my performance with her friend."

"You ought to go to her direct."

"I have done so, but she repulsed me again and again. I have given it up,
and shall not try it again, unless you will tame her for me."

"How is it to be done?"

"Come to dinner to-morrow. I shall be away at Geneva. I shall be back by
supper-time. I wish we could give her too much to drink!"

"That would be a pity. Let me see what I can do."

I accordingly went to dine with them by myself the next day, and they
entertained me in all the force of the word. After dinner we went for a
walk, and the three friends understanding my aims left me alone with the
intractable girl, who resisted my caresses in a manner which almost made
me give up the hope of taming her.

"The syndic," said I, "is in love with you, and last night . . .

"Last night," she said, "he amused himself with his old friend. I am for
everyone's following their own tastes, but I expect to be allowed to
follow mine."

"If I could gain your heart I should be happy."

"Why don't you invite the pastor and my cousin to dine with you? I could
come too, for the pastor makes much of everyone who loves his niece."

"I am glad to hear that. Has she a lover?"

"No."

"I can scarcely believe it. She is young, pretty, agreeable, and very
clever."

"You don't understand Genevan ways. It is because she is so clever that
no young man falls in love with her. Those who might be attracted by her
personal charms hold themselves aloof on account of her intellectual
capacities, as they would have to sit in silence before her."

"Are the young Genevans so ignorant, then?"

"As a rule they are. Some of them have received excellent educations, but
in a general way they are full of prejudice. Nobody wishes to be
considered a fool or a blockhead, but clever women are not appreciated;
and if a girl is witty or well educated she endeavors to hide her lights,
at least if she desires to be married."

"Ah! now I see why you did not open your lips during our discussion."

"No, I know I have nothing to hide. This was not the motive which made me
keep silence, but the pleasure of listening. I admired my cousin, who was
not afraid to display her learning on a subject which any other girl
would have affected to know nothing about."

"Yes, affected, though she might very probably know as much as her
grandmother."

"That's a matter of morals, or rather of prejudices."

"Your reasoning is admirable, and I am already longing for the party you
so cleverly suggested:"

"You will have the pleasure of being with my cousin."

"I do her justice. Hedvig is certainly a very interesting and agreeable
girl, but believe me it is your presence that will constitute my chief
enjoyment."

"And how if I do not believe you?"

"You would wrong me and give me pain, for I love you dearly."

"In spite of that you have deceived me. I am sure that you have given
marks of your affection to those three young ladies. For my part I pity
them."

"Why?"

"Because neither of them can flatter herself that you love her, and her
alone."

"And do you think that your delicacy of feeling makes you happier than
they are?"

"Yes, I think so though of course, I have no experience in the matter.
Tell me truly, do you think I am right?"

"Yes, I do."

"I am delighted to hear it; but you must confess that to associate me
with them in your attentions would not be giving me the greatest possible
proof of your love."

"Yes, I do confess it, and I beg your pardon. But tell me how I should
set to work to ask the pastor to dinner."

"There will be no difficulty. Just call on him and ask him to come, and
if you wish me to be of the party beg him to ask my mother and myself."

"Why your mother?"

"Because he has been in love with her these twenty years, and loves her
still."

"And where shall I give this dinner?"

"Is not M. Tronchin your banker?"

"Yes."

"He has a nice pleasure house on the lake; ask him to lend it you for the
day; he will be delighted to do so. But don't tell the syndic or his
three friends anything about it; they can hear of it afterwards."

"But do you think your learned cousin will be glad to be in my company?"

"More than glad, you may be sure."

"Very good, everything will be arranged by tomorrow. The day after, you
will be returning to Geneva, and the party will take place two or three
days later."

The syndic came back in due course, and we had a very pleasant evening.
After supper the ladies went to bed as before, and I went with the eldest
girl while the syndic visited the two younger ones. I knew that it would
be of no use to try to do anything with Helen, so I contented myself with
a few kisses, after which I wished them good night and passed on to the
next room. I found them in a deep sleep, and the syndic seemed visibly
bored. He did not look more cheerful when I told him that I had had no
success with Helen.

"I see," said he, "that I shall waste my time with the little fool. I
think I shall give her up."

"I think that's the best thing you could do," I replied, "for a man who
languishes after a woman who is either devoid of feeling or full of
caprice, makes himself her dupe. Bliss should be neither too easy nor too
hard to be won."

The next day we returned to Geneva, and M. Tronchin seemed delighted to
oblige me. The pastor accepted my invitation, and said I was sure to be
charmed with Helen's mother. It was easy to see that the worthy man
cherished a tenderness for her, and if she responded at all it would be
all the better for my purposes.

I was thinking of supping with the charming Helen and her three friends
at the house on the lake, but an express summoned me to Lausanne. Madame
Lebel, my old housekeeper, invited me to sup with her and her husband.
She wrote that she had made her husband promise to take her to Lausanne
as soon as she got my letter, and she added she was sure that I would
resign everything to give her the pleasure of seeing me. She notified the
hour at which she would be at her mother's house.

Madame Lebel was one of the ten or twelve women for whom in my happy
youth I cherished the greatest affection. She had all the qualities to
make a man a good wife, if it had been my fate to experience such
felicity. But perhaps I did well not to tie myself down with irrevocable
bonds, though now my independence is another name for slavery. But if I
had married a woman of tact, who would have ruled me unawares to myself,
I should have taken care of my fortune and have had children, instead of
being lonely and penniless in my old age.

But I must indulge no longer in digressions on the past which cannot be
recalled, and since my recollections make me happy I should be foolish to
cherish idle regrets.

I calculated that if I started directly I should get to Lausanne an hour
before Madame Lebel, and I did not hesitate to give her this proof of my
regard. I must here warn my readers, that, though I loved this woman
well, I was then occupied with another passion, and no voluptuous thought
mingled with my desire of seeing her. My esteem for her was enough to
hold my passions in check, but I esteemed Lebel too, and nothing would
have induced me to disturb the happiness of this married pair.

I wrote in haste to the syndic, telling him that an important and sudden
call obliged me to start for Lausanne, but that I should have the
pleasure of supping with him and his three friends at Geneva on the
following day.

I knocked at Madame Dubois's door at five o'clock, almost dying with
hunger. Her surprise was extreme, for she did not know that her daughter
was going to meet me at her house. Without more ado I gave her two louis
to get us a good supper.

At seven o'clock, Madame Lebel, her husband, and a child of eighteen
months, whom I easily recognized as my own, arrived. Our meeting was a
happy one indeed; we spent ten hours at table, and mirth and joy
prevailed. At day-break she started for Soleure, where Lebel had
business. M. de Chavigni had desired to be remembered most affectionately
to me. Lebel assured me that the ambassador was extremely kind to his
wife, and he thanked me heartily for having given such a woman up to him.
I could easily see that he was a happy husband, and that his wife was as
happy as he.

My dear housekeeper talked to me about my son. She said that nobody
suspected the truth, but that neither she nor Lebel (who had faithfully
kept his promise, and had not consummated the marriage for the two months
agreed upon) had any doubts.

"The secret," said Lebel to me, "will never be known, and your son will
be my sole heir, or will share my property with my children if I ever
have any, which I doubt."

"My dear," said his wife, "there is somebody who has very strong
suspicions on the subject, and these suspicions will gain strength as the
child grows older; but we have nothing to fear on that score, as she is
well paid to keep the secret."

"And who is this person?" said I.

"Madame----. She has not forgotten the past, and often speaks of you."

"Will you kindly remember me to her?"

"I shall be delighted to do so, and I am sure the message will give her
great pleasure."

Lebel shewed me my ring, and I shewed him his, and gave him a superb
watch for my son.

"You must give it him," I said, "when you think he is old enough."

We shall hear of the young gentleman in twenty-one years at
Fontainebleau.

I passed three hours in telling them of all the adventures I had during
the twenty-seven months since we had seen one another. As to their
history, it was soon told; it had all the calm which belongs to
happiness.

Madame Lebel was as pretty as ever, and I could see no change in her, but
I was no longer the same man. She thought me less lively than of old, and
she was right. The Renaud had blasted me, and the pretended Lascaris had
given me a great deal of trouble and anxiety.

We embraced each other tenderly, and the wedded pair returned to Soleure
and I to Geneva; but feeling that I wanted rest I wrote to the syndic
that I was not well and could not come till the next day, and after I had
done so I went to bed.

The next day, the eve of my dinner party, I ordered a repast in which no
expense was to be spared. I did not forget to tell the landlord to get me
the best wines, the choicest liqueurs, ices, and all the materials for a
bowl of punch. I told him that we should be six in number, for I foresaw
that M. Tronchin would dine with us. I was right; I found him at his
pretty house ready to receive us, and I had not much trouble in inducing
him to stay. In the evening I thought it as well to tell the syndic and
his three friends about it in Helen's presence, while she, feigning
ignorance, said that her mother had told her they were going somewhere or
other to dinner.

"I am delighted to hear it," said I; "it must be at M. Tronchin's."

My dinner would have satisfied the most exacting gourmet, but Hedvig was
its real charm. She treated difficult theological questions with so much
grace, and rationalised so skilfully, that though one might not be
convinced it was impossible to help being attracted. I have never seen
any theologian who could treat the most difficult points with so much
facility, eloquence, and real dignity, and at dinner she completed her
conquest of myself. M. Tronchin, who had never heard her speak before,
thanked me a hundred times for having procured him this pleasure, and
being obliged to leave us by the call of business he asked us to meet
again in two days' time.

I was much interested during the dessert by the evident tenderness of the
pastor for Helen's mother. His amorous eloquence grew in strength as he
irrigated his throat with champagne, Greek wine, and eastern liqueurs.
The lady seemed pleased, and was a match for him as far as drinking was
concerned, while the two girls and myself only drank with sobriety.
However, the mixture of wines, and above all the punch, had done their
work, and my charmers were slightly elevated. Their spirits were
delightful, but rather pronounced.

I took this favourable opportunity to ask the two aged lovers if I might
take the young ladies for a walk in the garden by the lake, and they told
us enthusiastically to go and enjoy ourselves. We went out arm in arm,
and in a few minutes we were out of sight of everyone.

"Do you know," said I to Hedvig, "that you have made a conquest of M.
Tronchin?"

"Have I? The worthy banker asked me some very silly questions."

"You must not expect everyone to be able to contend with you."

"I can't help telling you that your question pleased me best of all. A
bigoted theologian at the end of the table seemed scandalized at the
question and still more at the answer."

"And why?"

"He says I ought to have told you that a deity could not impregnate a
woman. He said that he would explain the reason to me if I were a man,
but being a woman and a maid he could not with propriety expound such
mysteries. I wish you would tell me what the fool meant."

"I should be very glad, but you must allow me to speak plainly, and I
shall have to take for granted that you are acquainted with the physical
conformation of a man."

"Yes, speak as plainly as you like, for there is nobody to hear what we
say; but I must confess that I am only acquainted with the peculiarities
of the male by theory and reading. I have no practical knowledge. I have
seen statues, but I have never seen or examined a real live man. Have
you, Helen?"

"I have never wished to do so."

"Why not? It is good to know everything."

"Well, Hedvig, your theologian meant to say that a god was not capable of
this."

"What is that?"

"Give me your hand."

"I can feel it, and have thought it would be something like that; without
this provision of nature man would not be able to fecundate his mate. And
how could the foolish theologian maintain that this was an imperfection?"

"Because it is the result of desire, Hedvig, and it would not have taken
place in me if I had not been charmed with you, and if I had not
conceived the most seducing ideas of the beauties that I cannot see from
the view of the beauties I can see. Tell me frankly whether feeling that
did not give you an agreeable sensation."

"It did, and just in the place where your hand is now. Don't you feel a
pleasant tickling there, Helen, after what the gentleman has been saying
to us?"

"Yes, I feel it, but I often do, without anything to excite me."

"And then," said I, "nature makes you appease it . . . thus?"

"Not at all."

"Oh, yes!" said Hedvig. "Even when we are asleep our hands seek that spot
as if by instinct, and if it were not for that solace I think we should
get terribly ill."

As this philosophical discourse, conducted by the young theologian in
quite a professional manner, proceeded, we reached a beautiful basin of
water, with a flight of marble steps for bathers. Although the air was
cool our heads were hot, and I conceived the idea of telling them that it
would do them good to bathe their feet, and that if they would allow me I
would take off their shoes and stockings.

"I should like to so much," said Hedvig.

"And I too," said Helen.

"Then sit down, ladies, on the first step."

They proceeded to sit down and I began to take off their shoes, praising
the beauty of their legs, and pretending for the present not to want to
go farther than the knee. When they got into the water they were obliged
to pick up their clothes, and I encouraged them to do so.

"Well, well," said Hedvig, "men have thighs too."

Helen, who would have been ashamed to be beaten by her cousin, was not
backward in shewing her legs.

"That will do, charming maids," said I, "you might catch cold if you
stayed longer in the water."

They walked up backwards, still holding up their clothes for fear of
wetting them, and it was then my duty to wipe them dry with all the
handkerchiefs I had. This pleasant task left me at freedom to touch and
see, and the reader will imagine that I did my best in that direction.
The fair theologian told me I wanted to know too much, but Helen let me
do what I liked with such a tender and affectionate expression that it
was as much as I could do to keep within bounds. At last, when I had
drawn on their shoes and stockings, I told them that I was delighted to
have seen the hidden charms of the two prettiest girls in Geneva.

"What effect had it on you?" asked Hedvig.

"I daren't tell you to look, but feel, both of you."

"Do you bathe, too."

"It's out of the question, a man's undressing takes so much trouble."

"But we have still two hours before us, in which we need not fear any
interruption."

This reply gave me a foretaste of the bliss I had to gain, but I did not
wish to expose myself to an illness by going into the water in my present
state. I noticed a summer-house at a little distance, and feeling sure
that M. Tronchin had left the door open, I took the two girls on my arm
and led them there without giving them any hint of my intentions. The
summer-house was scented with vases of pot-pourri and adorned with
engravings; but, best of all, there was a large couch which seemed made
for repose and pleasure. I sat down on it between my two sweethearts, and
as I caressed them I told them I was going to shew them something they
had never seen before, and without more ado I displayed to their gaze the
principal agent in the preservation of the human race. They got up to
admire it, and taking a hand of each one I procured them some enjoyment,
but in the middle of their labours an abundant flow of liquid threw them
into the greatest astonishment.

"That," said I, "is the Word which makes men."

"It's beautiful!" cried Helen, laughing at the term "word."

"I have a word too," said Hedvig, "and I will shew it to you if you will
wait a minute."

"Come, Hedvig, and I will save you the trouble of making it yourself, and
will do it better."

"I daresay, but I have never done it with a man."

"No more have I," said Helen.

Placing them in front of me I gave them another ecstacy. We then sat
down, and while I felt all their charms I let them touch me as much as
they liked till I watered their hands a second time.

We made ourselves decent once more, and spent half an hour in kisses and
caresses, and I then told them that they had made me happy only in part,
but that I hoped they would make my bliss complete by presenting me with
their maidenheads. I shewed them the little safety-bags invented by the
English in the interests of the fair sex. They admired them greatly when
I explained their use, and the fair theologian remarked to her cousin
that she would think it over. We were now close friends, and soon
promised to be something more; and we walked back and found the pastor
and Helen's mother strolling by the side of the lake.

When I got back to Geneva I went to spend the evening with the three
friends, but I took good care not to tell the syndic anything about my
victory with Helen. It would only have served to renew his hopes, and he
would have had this trouble for nothing. Even I would have done no good
without the young theologian; but as Helen admired her she did not like
to appear her inferior by refusing to imitate her freedom.

I did not see Helen that evening, but I saw her the next day at her
mother's house, for I was in mere politeness bound to thank the old lady
for the honour she had done me. She gave me a most friendly reception,
and introduced me to two very pretty girls who were boarding with her.
They might have interested me if I had been stopping long in Geneva, but
as if was Helen claimed all my attraction.

"To-morrow," said the charming girl, "I shall be able to get a word with
you at Madame Tronchin's dinner, and I expect Hedvig will have hit on
some way for you to satisfy your desires."

The banker gave us an excellent dinner. He proudly told me that no
inn-keeper could give such a good dinner as a rich gentleman who has a
good cook, a good cellar, good silver plate, and china of the best
quality. We were twenty of us at table, and the feast was given chiefly
in honour of the learned theologian and myself, as a rich foreigner who
spent money freely. M. de Ximenes, who had just arrived from Ferney was
there, and told me that M. de Voltaire was expecting me, but I had
foolishly determined not to go.

Hedvig shone in solving the questions put to her by the company. M. de
Ximenes begged her to justify as best she could our first mother, who had
deceived her husband by giving him the fatal apple to eat.

"Eve," she said, "did not deceive her husband, she only cajoled him into
eating it in the hope of giving him one more perfection. Besides Eve had
not been forbidden to eat the fruit by God, but only by Adam, and in all
probability her woman's sense prevented her regarding the prohibition as
serious."

At this reply, which I found full of sense and wit, two scholars from
Geneva and even Hedvig's uncle began to murmur and shake their heads.
Madame Tronchin said gravely that Eve had received the prohibition from
God himself, but the girl only answered by a humble "I beg your pardon,
madam." At this she turned to the pastor with a frightened manner, and
said,--

"What do you say to this?"

"Madam, my niece is not infallible."

"Excuse me, dear uncle, I am as infallible as Holy Writ when I speak
according to it."

"Bring a Bible, and let me see."

"Hedvig, my dear Hedvig, you are right after all. Here it is. The
prohibition was given before woman was made."

Everybody applauded, but Hedvig remained quite calm; it was only the two
scholars and Madame Tronchin who still seemed disturbed. Another lady
then asked her if it was allowable to believe the history of the apple to
be symbolical. She replied,--

"I do not think so, because it could only be a symbol of sexual union,
and it is clear that such did not take place between Adam and Eve in the
Garden of Eden."

"The learned differ on this point."

"All the worse for them, madam, the Scripture is plain enough. In the
first verse of the fourth chapter it is written, that Adam knew his wife
after they had been driven from the Garden, and that in consequence she
conceived Cain."

"Yes, but the verse does not say that Adam did not know her before and
consequently he might have done so."

"I cannot admit the inference, as in that case she would have conceived;
for it would be absurd to suppose that two creatures who had just left
God's hands, and were consequently as nearly perfect as is possible,
could perform the act of generation without its having any result."

This reply gained everyone's applause, and compliments to Hedvig made the
round of the table.

Mr. Tronchin asked her if the doctrine of the immortality of the soul
could be gathered from the Old Testament alone.

"The Old Testament," she replied, "does not teach this doctrine; but,
nevertheless, human reason teaches it, as the soul is a substance, and
the destruction of any substance is an unthinkable proposition."

"Then I will ask you," said the banker, "if the existence of the soul is
established in the Bible."

"Where there is smoke there is always fire."

"Tell me, then, if matter can think."

"I cannot answer that question, for it is beyond my knowledge. I can only
say that as I believe God to be all powerful, I cannot deny Him the power
to make matter capable of thought."

"But what is your own opinion?"

"I believe that I have a soul endowed with thinking capacities, but I do
not know whether I shall remember that I had the honour of dining with
you to-day after I die."

"Then you think that the soul and the memory may be separable; but in
that case you would not be a theologian."

"One may be a theologian and a philosopher, for philosophy never
contradicts any truth, and besides, to say 'I do not know' is not the
same as 'I am sure'."

Three parts of the guests burst into cries of admiration, and the fair
philosopher enjoyed seeing me laugh for pleasure at the applause. The
pastor wept for joy, and whispered something to Helen's mother. All at
once he turned to me, saying,--

"Ask my niece some question."

"Yes," said Hedvig, "but it must be something quite new."

"That is a hard task," I replied, "for how am I to know that what I ask
is new to you? However, tell me if one must stop at the first principle
of a thing one wants to understand."

"Certainly, and the reason is that in God there is no first principle,
and He is therefore incomprehensible."

"God be praised! that is how I would have you answer. Can God have any
self-consciousness?"

"There my learning is baffled. I know not what to reply. You should not
ask me so hard a thing as that."

"But you wished for something new. I thought the newest thing would be to
see you at a loss."

"That's prettily said. Be kind enough to reply for me, gentlemen, and
teach me what to say."

Everybody tried to answer, but nothing was said worthy of record. Hedvig
at last said,--

"My opinion is that since God knows all, He knows of His own existence,
but you must not ask me how He knows it."

"That's well said," I answered; and nobody could throw any further light
on the matter.

All the company looked on me as a polite Atheist, so superficial is the
judgment of society, but it did not matter to me whether they thought me
an Atheist or not.

M. de Ximenes asked Hedvig if matter had been created.

"I cannot recognize the word 'created,'" she replied. "Ask me whether
matter was formed, and I shall reply in the affirmative. The word
'created' cannot have existence, for the existence of anything must be
prior to the word which explains it."

"Then what meaning do you assign to the word 'created'?"

"Made out of nothing. You see the absurdity, for nothing must have first
existed. I am glad to see you laugh. Do you think that nothingness could
be created?"

"You are right."

"Not at all, not at all," said one of the guests, superciliously.

"Kindly tell me who was your teacher?" said M. de Ximenes.

"My uncle there."

"Not at all, my dear niece. I certainly never taught you what you have
been telling us to-day. But my niece, gentlemen, reads and reflects over
what she has read, perhaps with rather too much freedom, but I love her
all the same, because she always ends by acknowledging that she knows
nothing."

A lady who had not opened her lips hitherto asked Hedvig for a definition
of spirit.

"Your question is a purely philosophical one, and I must answer that I do
not know enough of spirit or matter to be able to give a satisfactory
definition."

"But since you acknowledge the existence of Deity and must therefore have
an abstract idea of spirit, you must have some notions on the subject,
and should be able to tell me how it acts on matter."

"No solid foundation can be built on abstract ideas. Hobbes calls such
ideas mere fantasms. One may have them, but if one begins to reason on
them, one is landed in contradiction. I know that God sees me, but I
should labour in vain if I endeavoured to prove it by reasoning, for
reason tells us no one can see anything without organs of sight; and God
being a pure spirit, and therefore without organs, it is scientifically
impossible that He can see us any more than we can see Him. But Moses and
several others have seen Him, and I believe it so, without attempting to
reason on it."

"You are quite right," said I, "for you would be confronted by blank
impossibility. But if you take to reading Hobbes you are in danger of
becoming an Atheist."

"I am not afraid of that. I cannot conceive the possibility of Atheism."

After dinner everybody crowded round this truly astonishing girl, so that
I had no opportunity of whispering my love. However, I went apart with
Helen, who told me that the pastor and his niece were going to sup with
her mother the following day.

"Hedvig," she added, "will stay the night and sleep with me as she always
does when she comes to supper with her uncle. It remains to be seen if
you are willing to hide in a place I will shew you at eleven o'clock
tomorrow, in order to sleep with us. Call on my mother at that hour
to-morrow, and I will find an opportunity of shewing you where it is. You
will be safe though not comfortable, and if you grow weary you can
console yourself by thinking that you are in our minds."

"Shall I have to stay there long?"

"Four hours at the most. At seven o'clock the street door is shut, and
only opened to anyone who rings."

"If I happen to cough while I am in hiding might I be heard?"

"Yes, that might happen."

"There's a great hazard. All the rest is of no consequence; but no
matter, I will risk all for the sake of so great happiness."

In the morning I paid the mother a visit, and as Helen was escorting me
out she shewed me a door between the two stairs.

"At seven o'clock," said she, "the door will be open, and when you are in
put on the bolt. Take care that no one sees you as you are entering the
house."

At a quarter to seven I was already a prisoner. I found a seat in my
cell, otherwise I should neither have been able to lie down or to stand
up. It was a regular hole, and I knew by my sense of smell that hams and
cheeses were usually kept there; but it contained none at present, for I
fell all round to see how the land lay. As I was cautiously stepping
round I felt my foot encounter some resistance, and putting down my hand
I recognized the feel of linen. It was a napkin containing two plates, a
nice roast fowl, bread, and a second napkin. Searching again I came
across a bottle and a glass. I was grateful to my charmers for having
thought of my stomach, but as I had purposely made a late and heavy meal
I determined to defer the consumption of my cold collation till a later
hour.

At nine o'clock I began, and as I had neither a knife nor a corkscrew I
was obliged to break the neck of the bottle with a brick which I was
fortunately able to detach from the mouldering floor. The wine was
delicious old Neuchatel, and the fowl was stuffed with truffles, and I
felt convinced that my two nymphs must have some rudimentary ideas on the
subject of stimulants. I should have passed the time pleasantly enough if
it had not been for the occasional visits of a rat, who nearly made me
sick with his disgusting odour. I remembered that I had been annoyed in
the same way at Cologne under somewhat similar circumstances.

At last ten o'clock struck, and I heard the pastor's voice as he came
downstairs talking; he warned the girls not to play any tricks together,
and to go to sleep quietly. That brought back to my memory M. Rose
leaving Madame Orio's house at Venice twenty-two years before; and
reflecting on my character I found myself much changed, though not more
reasonable; but if I was not so sensible to the charms of the sex, the
two beauties who were awaiting me were much superior to Madame Orio's
nieces.

In my long and profligate career in which I have turned the heads of some
hundreds of ladies, I have become familiar with all the methods of
seduction; but my guiding principle has been never to direct my attack
against novices or those whose prejudices were likely to prove an
obstacle except in the presence of another woman. I soon found out that
timidity makes a girl averse to being seduced, while in company with
another girl she is easily conquered; the weakness of the one brings on
the fall of the other. Fathers and mothers are of the contrary opinion,
but they are in the wrong. They will not trust their daughter to take a
walk or go to a ball with a young man, but if she has another girl with
her there is no difficulty made. I repeat, they are in the wrong; if the
young man has the requisite skill their daughter is a lost woman. A
feeling of false shame hinders them from making an absolute and
determined resistance, and the first step once taken the rest comes
inevitably and quickly. The girl grants some small favour, and
immediately makes her friend grant a much greater one to hide her own
blushes; and if the seducer is clever at his trade the young innocent
will soon have gone too far to be able to draw back. Besides the more
innocence a girl has, the less she knows of the methods of seduction.
Before she has had time to think, pleasure attracts her, curiosity draws
her a little farther, and opportunity does the rest.

For example, I might possibly have been able to seduce Hedvig without
Helen, but I am certain I should never have succeeded with Helen if she
had not seen her cousin take liberties with me which she no doubt thought
contrary to the feelings of modesty which a respectable young woman ought
to have.

Though I do not repent of my amorous exploits, I am far from wishing that
my example should serve for the perversion of the fair sex, who have so
many claims on my homage. I desire that what I say may be a warning to
fathers and mothers, and secure me a place in their esteem at any rate.

Soon after the pastor had gone I heard three light knocks on my prison
door. I opened it, and my hand was folded in a palm as soft as satin. All
my being was moved. It was Helen's hand, and that happy moment had
already repaid me for my long waiting.

"Follow me on tiptoe," she whispered, as soon as she had shut the door;
but in my impatience I clasped her in my arms, and made her feel the
effect which her mere presence had produced on me, while at the same time
I assured myself of her docility. "There," she said, "now come upstairs
softly after me."

I followed her as best I could in the darkness, and she took me along a
gallery into a dark room, and then into a lighted one which contained
Hedvig almost in a state of nudity. She came to me with open arms as soon
as she saw me, and, embracing me ardently, expressed her gratitude for my
long and dreary imprisonment.

"Divine Hedvig," I answered, "if I had not loved you madly I would not
have stayed a quarter of an hour in that dismal cell, but I am ready to
spend four hours there every day till I leave Geneva for your sake. But
we must not lose any time; let us go to bed."

"Do you two go to bed," said Helen; "I will sleep on the sofa."

"No, no," cried Hedvig, "don't think of it; our fate must be exactly
equal."

"Yes, darling Helen," said I, embracing her; "I love you both with equal
ardour, and these ceremonies are only wasting the time in which I ought
to be assuring you of my passion. Imitate my proceedings. I am going to
undress, and then I shall lie in the middle of the bed. Come and lie
beside me, and I'll shew you how I love you. If all is safe I will remain
with you till you send me away, but whatever you do do not put out the
light."

In the twinkling of an eye, discussing the theory of shame the while with
the theological Hedvig, I presented myself to their gaze in the costume
of Adam. Hedvig blushed and parted with the last shred of her modesty,
citing the opinion of St. Clement Alexandrinus that the seat of shame is
in the shirt. I praised the charming perfection of her shape, in the hope
of encouraging Helen, who was slowly undressing herself; but an
accusation of mock modesty from her cousin had more effect than all my
praises. At last this Venus stood before me in a state of nature,
covering her most secret parts with her hand, and hiding one breast with
the other, and appearing woefully ashamed of what she could not conceal.
Her modest confusion, this strife between departing modesty and rising
passion, enchanted me.

Hedvig was taller than Helen; her skin was whiter, and her breasts double
the size of Helen's; but in Helen there was more animation, her shape was
more gently moulded, and her breast might have been the model for the
Venus de Medicis.

She got bolder by degrees, and we spent some moments in admiring each
other, and then we went to bed. Nature spoke out loudly, and all we
wanted was to satisfy its demands. With much coolness I made a woman of
Hedvig, and when all was over she kissed me and said that the pain was
nothing in comparison with the pleasure.

The turn of Helen (who was six years younger than Hedvig) now came, but
the finest fleece that I have ever seen was not won without difficulty.
She was jealous of her cousin's success, and held it open with her two
hands; and though she had to submit to great pain before being initiated
into the amorous mysteries, her sighs were sighs of happiness, as she
responded to my ardent efforts. Her great charms and the vivacity of her
movements shortened the sacrifice, and when I left the sanctuary my two
sweethearts saw that I needed repose.

The alter was purified of the blood of the victims, and we all washed,
delighted to serve one another.

Life returned to me under their curious fingers, and the sight filled
them with joy. I told them that I wished to enjoy them every night till I
left Geneva, but they told me sadly that this was impossible.

"In five or six days time, perhaps, the opportunity may recur again, but
that will be all."

"Ask us to sup at your inn to-morrow," said Hedvig; "and maybe, chance
will favour the commission of a sweet felony."

I followed this advice.

I overwhelmed them with happiness for several hours, passing five or six
times from one to the other before I was exhausted. In the intervals,
seeing them to be docile and desirous, I made them execute Aretin's most
complicated postures, which amused them beyond words. We kissed whatever
took our fancy, and just as Hedvig applied her lips to the mouth of the
pistol, it went off and the discharge inundated her face and her bosom.
She was delighted, and watched the process to the end with all the
curiosity of a doctor. The night seemed short, though we had not lost a
moment's time, and at daybreak we had to part. I left them in bed and I
was fortunate enough to get away without being observed.

I slept till noon, and then having made my toilette I went to call on the
pastor, to whom I praised Hedvig to the skies. This was the best way to
get him to come to supper at Balances the next day.

"We shall be in the town," said I, "and can remain together as long as we
please, but do not forget to bring the amiable widow and her charming
daughter."

He promised he would bring them both.

In the evening I went to see the syndic and his three friends, who
naturally found me rather insensible to their charms. I excused myself by
saying that I had a bad headache. I told them that I had asked the young
theologian to supper, and invited the girls and the syndic to come too;
but, as I had foreseen, the latter would not hear of their going as it
would give rise to gossip.

I took care that the most exquisite wines should form an important
feature of my supper. The pastor and the widow were both sturdy drinkers,
and I did my best to please them. When I saw that they were pretty mellow
and were going over their old recollections, I made a sign to the girls,
and they immediately went out as if to go to a retiring-room. Under
pretext of shewing them the way I went out too, and took them into a room
telling them to wait for me.

I went back to the supper-room, and finding the old friends taken up with
each other and scarcely conscious of my presence, I gave them some punch,
and told them that I would keep the young ladies company; they were
looking at some pictures, I explained. I lost no time, and shewed them
some extremely interesting sights. These stolen sweets have a wonderful
charm. When we were to some extent satisfied, we went back, and I plied
the punch-ladle more and more freely. Helen praised the pictures to her
mother, and asked her to come and look at them.

"I don't care to," she replied.

"Well," said Helen, "let us go and see them again."

I thought this stratagem admissible, and going out with my two
sweethearts I worked wonders. Hedvig philosophised over pleasure, and
told me she would never have known it if I had not chanced to meet her
uncle. Helen did not speak; she was more voluptuous than her cousin, and
swelled out like a dove, and came to life only to expire a moment
afterwards. I wondered at her astonishing fecundity; while I was engaged
in one operation she passed from death to life fourteen times. It is true
that it was the sixth time with me, so I made my progress rather slower
to enjoy the pleasure she took in it.

Before we parted I agreed to call on Helen's mother every day to
ascertain the night I could spend with them before I left Geneva. We
broke up our party at two o'clock in the morning.

Three or four days after, Helen told me briefly that Hedvig was to sleep
with her that night, and that she would leave the door open at the same
time as before.

"I will be there."

"And I will be there to shut you up, but you cannot have a light as the
servant might see it."

I was exact to the time, and when ten o'clock struck they came to fetch
me in high glee.

"I forgot to tell you," said Helen, "that you would find a fowl there."

I felt hungry, and made short work of it, and then we gave ourselves up
to happiness.

I had to set out on my travels in two days. I had received a couple of
letters from M. Raiberti. In the first he told me that he had followed my
instructions as to the Corticelli, and in the second that she would
probably he paid for dancing at the carnival as first 'figurante'. I had
nothing to keep me at Geneva, and Madame d'Urfe, according to our
agreement, would be waiting for me at Lyons. I was therefore obliged to
go there. Thus the night that I was to pass with my two charmers would be
my last.

My lessons had taken effect, and I found they had become past mistresses
in the art of pleasure. But now and again joy gave place to sadness.

"We shall be wretched, sweetheart," said Hedvig, "and if you like we will
come with you."

"I promise to come and see you before two years have expired," said I;
and in fact they had not so long to wait.

We fell asleep at midnight, and waking at four renewed our sweet battles
till six o'clock. Half an hour after I left them, worn out with my
exertions, and I remained in bed all day. In the evening I went to see
the syndic and his young friends. I found Helen there, and she was
cunning enough to feign not to be more vexed at my departure than the
others, and to further the deception she allowed the syndic to kiss her.
I followed suit, and begged her to bid farewell for me to her learned
cousin and to excuse my taking leave of her in person.

The next day I set out in the early morning, and on the following day I
reached Lyons. Madame d'Urfe was not there, she had gone to an estate of
hers at Bresse. I found a letter in which she said that she would be
delighted to see me, and I waited on her without losing any time.

She greeted me with her ordinary cordiality, and I told her that I was
going to Turin to meet Frederic Gualdo, the head of the Fraternity of the
Rosy Cross, and I revealed to her by the oracle that he would come with
me to Marseilles, and that there he would complete her happiness. After
having received this oracle she would not go to Paris before she saw us.
The oracle also bade her wait for me at Lyons with young d'Aranda; who
begged me to take him with me to Turin. It may be imagined that I
succeeded in putting him off.

Madame d'Urfe had to wait a fortnight to get me fifty thousand francs
which I might require on my journey. In the course of this fortnight I
made the acquaintance of Madame Pernon, and spent a good deal of money
with her husband, a rich mercer, in refurnishing my wardrobe. Madame
Pernon was handsome and intelligent. She had a Milanese lover, named
Bono, who did business for a Swiss banker named Sacco. It was through
Madame Peron that Bono got Madame d'Urfe the fifty thousand francs I
required. She also gave me the three dresses which she had promised to
the Countess of Lascaris, but which that lady had never seen.

One of these dresses was furred, and was exquisitely beautiful. I left
Lyons equipped like a prince, and journeyed towards Turin, where I was to
meet the famous Gualdo, who was none other than Ascanio Pogomas, whom I
had summoned from Berne. I thought it would be easy to make the fellow
play the part I had destined for him, but I was cruelly deceived as the
reader will see.

I could not resist stopping at Chamberi to see my fair nun, whom I found
looking beautiful and contented. She was grieving, however, after the
young boarder, who had been taken from the convent and married.

I got to Turin at the beginning of December, and at Rivoli I found the
Corticelli, who had been warned by the Chevalier de Raiberti of my
arrival. She gave me a letter from this worthy gentleman, giving the
address of the house he had taken for me as I did not want to put up at
an inn. I immediately went to take possession of my new lodging.



CHAPTER XVII

My Old Friends--Pacienza--Agatha--Count Boryomeo--The Ball--Lord Percy

The Corticelli was as gentle as a lamb, and left me as we got into Turin.
I promised I would come and see her, and immediately went to the house
the Chevalier had taken, which I found convenient in every way.

The worthy Chevalier was not long in calling on me. He gave me an account
of the moneys he had spent on the Corticelli, and handed over the rest to
me.

"I am flush of money," I said, "and I intend to invite my friends to
supper frequently. Can you lay your hands on a good cook?"

"I know a pearl amongst cooks," said he, "and you can have him directly."

"You, chevalier, are the pearl of men. Get me this wonder, tell him I am
hard to please, and agree on the sum I am to pay him per month."

The cook, who was an excellent one, came the same evening.

"It would be a good idea," said Raiberti, "to call on the Count d'Aglie.
He knows that the Corticelli is your mistress, and he has given a formal
order to Madame Pacienza, the lady with whom she lives, that when you
come and see her you are not to be left alone together."

This order amused me, and as I did not care about the Corticelli it did
not trouble me in the least, though Raiberti, who thought I was in love
with her, seemed to pity me.

"Since she has been here," he said, "her conduct has been
irreproachable."

"I am glad to hear that."

"You might let her take some lessons from the dancing-master Dupre," said
he. "He will no doubt give her something to do at the carnival."

I promised to follow his advice, and I then paid a visit to the
superintendent of police.

He received me well, complimented me on my return to Turin, and then
added with a smile:--

"I warn you that I have been informed that you keep a mistress, and that
I have given strict orders to the respectable woman with whom she lives
not to leave her alone with you."

"I am glad to hear it," I replied, "and the more as I fear her mother is
not a person of very rigid morals. I advised the Chevalier Raiberti of my
intentions with regard to her, and I am glad to see that he has carried
them out so well. I hope the girl will shew herself worthy of your
protection."

"Do you think of staying here throughout the carnival?"

"Yes, if your excellency approves."

"It depends entirely on your good conduct."

"A few peccadilloes excepted, my conduct is always above reproach."

"There are some peccadilloes we do not tolerate here. Have you seen the
Chevalier Osorio?"

"I think of calling on him to-day or to-morrow."

"I hope you will remember me to him."

He rang his bell, bowed, and the audience was over.

The Chevalier Osorio received me at his office, and gave me a most
gracious reception. After I had given him an account of my visit to the
superintendent, he asked me, with a smile, if I felt inclined to submit
with docility to not seeing my mistress in freedom.

"Certainly," said I, "for I am not in love with her."

Osorio looked at me slyly, and observed, "Somehow I don't think your
indifference will be very pleasing to the virtuous duenna."

I understood what he meant, but personally I was delighted not to be able
to see the Corticelli save in the presence of a female dragon. It would
make people talk, and I loved a little scandal, and felt curious to see
what would happen.

When I returned to my house I found the Genoese Passano, a bad poet and
worse painter, to whom I had intended to give the part of a Rosicrucian,
because there was something in his appearance which inspired, if not
respect, at least awe and a certain feeling of fear. In point of fact,
this was only a natural presentiment that the man must be either a clever
rogue or a morose and sullen scholar.

I made him sup with me and gave him a room on the third floor, telling
him not to leave it without my permission. At supper I found him insipid
in conversation, drunken, ignorant, and ill disposed, and I already
repented of having taken him under my protection; but the thing was done.

The next day, feeling curious to see how the Corticelli was lodged, I
called on her, taking with me a piece of Lyons silk.

I found her and her mother in the landlady's room, and as I came in the
latter said that she was delighted to see me and that she hoped I would
often dine with them. I thanked her briefly and spoke to the girl coolly
enough.

"Shew me your room," said I. She took me there in her mother's company.
"Here is something to make you a winter dress," said I, skewing her the
silk.

"Is this from the marchioness?"

"No, it is from me."

"But where are the three dresses she said she would give me?"

"You know very well on what conditions you were to have them, so let us
say no more about it."

She unfolded the silk which she liked very much, but she said she must
have some trimmings. The Pacienza offered her services, and said she
would send for a dressmaker who lived close by. I acquiesced with a nod,
and as soon as she had left the room the Signora Laura said she was very
sorry only to be able to receive me in the presence of the landlady.

"I should have thought," said I, "that a virtuous person like you would
have been delighted."

"I thank God for it every morning and night."

"You infernal old hypocrite!" said I, looking contemptuously at her.

"Upon my word, anybody who didn't know you would be taken in."

In a few minutes Victorine and another girl came in with their
band-boxes.

"Are you still at Madame R----'s?" said I.

"Yes sir," said she, with a blush.

When the Corticelli had chosen what she wanted I told Victorine to
present my compliments to her mistress, and tell her that I would call
and pay for the articles.

The landlady had also sent for a dressmaker, and while the Corticelli was
being measured, she shewed me her figure and said she wanted a corset. I
jested on the pregnancy with which she threatened me, and of which there
was now no trace, pitying Count N---- for being deprived of the joys of
fatherhood. I then gave her what money she required and took my leave.
She escorted me to the door, and asked me if she should have the pleasure
of seeing me again before long.

"It's a pleasure, is it?" I replied; "well, I don't know when you will
have it again; it depends on my leisure and my fancy."

It is certain that if I had any amorous feelings or even curiosity about
the girl, I should not have left her in that house for a moment; but I
repeat my love for her had entirely vanished. There was one thing,
however, which annoyed me intolerably, namely, that in spite of my
coolness towards her, the little hussy pretended to think that I had
forgotten and forgiven everything.

On leaving the Corticelli, I proceeded to call on my bankers, amongst
others on M. Martin, whose wife was justly famous for her wit and beauty.

I chanced to meet the horse-dealing Jew, who had made money out of me by
means of his daughter Leah. She was still pretty, but married; and her
figure was too rounded for my taste. She and her husband welcomed me with
great warmth, but I cared for her no longer, and did not wish to see her
again.

I called on Madame R----, who had been awaiting me impatiently ever since
Victorine had brought news of me. I sat down by the counter and had the
pleasure of hearing from her lips the amorous histories of Turin for the
past few months.

"Victorine and Caton are the only two of the old set that still remain,
but I have replaced them with others."

"Has Victorine found anyone to operate on her yet?"

"No, she is just as you left her, but a gentleman who is in love with her
is going to take her to Milan."

This gentleman was the Comte de Perouse, whose acquaintance I made three
years afterwards at Milan. I shall speak of him in due time. Madame
R---- told me that, in consequence of her getting into trouble several
times with the police, she had been obliged to promise the Count d'Aglie
only to send the girls to ladies, and, consequently, if I found any of
them to my taste I should be obliged to make friends with their relations
and take them to the festas. She shewed me the girls in the work-room,
but I did not think any of them worth taking trouble about.

She talked about the Pacienza, and when I told her that I kept the
Corticelli, and of the hard conditions to which I was obliged to submit,
she exclaimed with astonishment, and amused me by her jests on the
subject.

"You are in good hands, my dear sir," said she; "the woman is not only a
spy of d'Aglie's, but a professional procuress. I wonder the Chevalier
Raiberti placed the girl with her."

She was not so surprised when I told her that the chevalier had good
reasons for his action, and that I myself had good reasons of my own for
wishing the Corticelli to remain there.

Our conversation was interrupted by a customer who wanted silk stockings.
Hearing him speak of dancing, I asked him if he could tell me the address
of Dupre, the ballet-master.

"No one better, sir, for I am Dupre, at your service."

"I am delighted at this happy chance. The Chevalier Raiberti gave me to
understand that you might be able to give dancing lessons to a
ballet-girl of my acquaintance."

"M. de Raiberti mentioned your name to me this morning. You must be the
Chevalier de Seingalt?"

"Exactly."

"I can give the young lady lessons every morning at nine o'clock at my
own home."

"No, do you come to her house, but at whatever hour you like. I will pay
you, and I hope you will make her one of your best pupils. I must warn
you, however, that she is not a novice."

"I will call on her to-day, and to-morrow I will tell you what I can make
of her; but I think I had better tell you my terms: I charge three
Piedmontese livres a lesson."

"I think that is very reasonable; I will call on you to-morrow."

"You do me honour. Here is my address. If you like to come in the
afternoon you will see the rehearsal of a ballet."

"Is it not rehearsed at the theatre?"

"Yes, but at the theatre no on-lookers are allowed by the orders of the
superintendent of police."

"This superintendent of yours puts his finger into a good many pies."

"In too many."

"But at your own house anybody may come?"

"Undoubtedly, but I could not have the dancers there if my wife were not
present. The superintendent knows her, and has great confidence in her."

"You will see me at the rehearsal."

The wretched superintendent had erected a fearful system of surveillance
against the lovers of pleasure, but it must be confessed that he was
often cheated. Voluptuousness was all the more rampant when thus
restrained; and so it ever will be while men have passions and women
desires. To love and enjoy, to desire and to satisfy one's desires, such
is the circle in which we move, and whence we can never be turned. When
restrictions are placed upon the passions as in Turkey, they still attain
their ends, but by methods destructive to morality.

At the worthy Mazzali's I found two gentlemen to whom she introduced me.
One was old and ugly, decorated with the Order of the White Eagle--his
name was Count Borromeo; the other, young and brisk, was Count
A---- B---- of Milan. After they had gone I was informed that they were
paying assiduous court to the Chevalier Raiberti, from whom they hoped to
obtain certain privileges for their lordships which were under the
Sardinian rule.

The Milanese count had not a penny, and the Lord of the Borromean Isles
was not much better off. He had ruined himself with women, and not being
able to live at Milan he had taken refuge in the fairest of his isles,
and enjoyed there perpetual spring and very little else. I paid him a
visit on my return from Spain, but I shall relate our meeting when I come
to my adventures, my pleasures, my misfortunes, and above all my follies
there, for of such threads was the weft of my life composed, and folly
was the prominent element.

The conversation turned on my house, and the lively Mazzoli asked me how
I liked my cook. I replied that I had not yet tried him, but I proposed
to put him to test the next day, if she and the gentlemen would do me the
honour of supping with me.

The invitation was accepted, and she promised to bring her dear chevalier
with her, and to warn him of the event, as his health only allowed him to
eat once a day.

I called on Dupre in the afternoon. I saw the dancers, male and female,
the latter accompanied by their mothers, who stood on one side muffled up
in thick cloaks. As I passed them under review in my lordly manner, I
noticed that one of them still looked fresh and pretty, which augured
well for her daughter, though the fruit does not always correspond to the
tree.

Dupre introduced me to his wife, who was young and pretty, but who had
been obliged to leave the theatre owing to the weakness of her chest. She
told me that if the Corticelli would work hard her husband would make a
great dancer of her, as her figure was eminently suited for dancing.
While I was talking with Madame Dupre, the Corticelli, late Lascaris,
came running up to me with the air of a favourite, and told me she wanted
some ribbons and laces to make a bonnet. The others girls began to
whisper to each other, and guessing what they must be saying I turned to
Dupre without taking any notice of Madame Madcap, and gave him twelve
pistoles, saying that I would pay for the lessons three months in
advance, and that I hoped he would bring his new pupil on well. Such a
heavy payment in advance caused general surprise, which I enjoyed, though
pretending not to be aware of it. Now I know that I acted foolishly, but
I have promised to speak the truth in these Memoirs, which will not see
the light till all light has left my eyes, and I will keep my promise.

I have always been greedy of distinction; I have always loved to draw the
eyes of men towards men, but I must also add that if I have humiliated
anyone it has always been a proud man or a fool, for it has been my rule
to please everyone if I can.

I sat on one side, the better to observe the swarm of girls, and I soon
fixed my eyes on one whose appearance struck me. She had a fine figure,
delicate features, a noble air, and a patient look which interested me in
the highest degree. She was dancing with a man who did not scruple to
abuse her in the coarsest manner when she made any mistakes, but she bore
it without replying, though an expression of contempt mingled with the
sweetness of her face.

Instinct drew me to the mother I have remarked on, and I asked her to
whom the dancer that interested me belonged.

"I am her mother," she replied.

"You, madam! I should not have thought it possible."

"I was very young when she was born."

"I should think so. Where do you come from?"

"I am from Lucca, and what is more-a poor widow."

"How can you be poor, when you are still young and handsome, and have an
angel for a daughter?"

She replied only by an expressive glance. I understood her reserve, and I
stayed by her without speaking. Soon after, Agatha, as her daughter was
named, came up to her to ask for a handkerchief to wipe her face.

"Allow me to offer you mine," said I. It was a white handkerchief, and
scented with attar of roses; this latter circumstance gave her an excuse
for accepting it, but after smelling it she wanted to return it to me.

"You have not used it," said I! "do so."

She obeyed, and then returned it to me with a bow by way of thanks.

"You must not give it me back, fair Agatha, till you have had it washed."

She smiled, and gave it to her mother, glancing at me in a grateful
manner, which I considered of good omen.

"May I have the pleasure of calling on you?" said I. "I cannot receive
you, sir, except in the presence of my landlady."

"This cursed restriction is general in Turin, then?"

"Yes, the superintendent uses everybody in the same way."

"Then I shall have the pleasure of seeing you again here?"

In the evening I had one of the best suppers I ever had in my life, if I
except those I enjoyed during my stay at Turin. My cook was worthy of a
place in the kitchen of Lucullus; but without detracting from his skill I
must do justice to the products of the country. Everything is delicious;
game, fish, birds, meat, vegetables, fruit, milk, and truffles--all are
worthy of the table of the greatest gourmets, and the wines of the
country yield to none. What a pity that strangers do not enjoy liberty at
Turin! It is true that better society, and more politeness, such as are
found in several French and Italian towns, are to be wished for.

The beauty of the women of Turin is no doubt due to the excellence of the
air and diet.

I had not much trouble in extracting a promise from Madame Mazzoli and
the two counts to sup with me every night, but the Chevalier de Raiberti
would only promise to come whenever he could.

At the Carignan Theatre, where opera-bouffe was being played, I saw
Redegonde, with whom I had failed at Florence. She saw me in the pit and
gave me a smile, so I wrote to her, offering my services if the mother
had changed her way of thinking. She answered that her mother was always
the same, but that if I would ask the Corticelli she could come and sup
with me, though the mother would doubtless have to be of the party. I
gave her no answer, as the terms she named were by no means to my taste.

I had a letter from Madame du Rumain, enclosing one from M. de Choiseul
to M. de Chauvelin, the French ambassador at Turin. It will be remembered
that I had known this worthy nobleman at Soleure, and had been treated
with great politeness by him, but I wished to have a more perfect title
to his acquaintance; hence I asked Madame du Rumain to give me a letter.

M. de Chauvelin received me with the greatest cordiality; and reproaching
me for having thought a letter of introduction necessary, introduced me
to his charming wife, who was no less kind than her husband. Three or
four days later he asked me to dine with him, and I met at his table M.
Imberti, the Venetian ambassador, who said he was very sorry not to be
able to present me at Court. On hearing the reason M. de Chauvelin
offered to present me himself, but I thought it best to decline with
thanks. No doubt it would have been a great honour, but the result would
be that I should be more spied on than even in this town of spies, where
the most indifferent actions do not pass unnoticed. My pleasures would
have been interfered with.

Count Borromeo continued to honour me by coming every night to sup with
me, preserving his dignity the while, for as he accompanied Madame
Mazzoli it was not to be supposed that he came because he was in need of
a meal. Count A---- B---- came more frankly, and I was pleased with him. He
told me one day that the way I put up with his visits made him extremely
grateful to Providence, for his wife could not send him any money, and he
could not afford to pay for his dinner at the inn, so that if it were not
for my kindness he would often be obliged to go hungry to bed. He shewed
me his wife's letters; he had evidently a high opinion of her. "I hope,"
he would say, "that you will come and stay with us at Milan, and that she
will please you."

He had been in the service of Spain, and by what he said I judged his
wife to be a pleasing brunette of twenty-five or twenty-six. The count
had told her how I had lent him money several times, and of my goodness
to him, and she replied, begging him to express her gratitude to me, and
to make me promise to stay with them at Milan. She wrote wittily, and her
letters interested me to such an extent that I gave a formal promise to
journey to Milan, if it were only for the sake of seeing her.

I confess that in doing so I was overcome by my feelings of curiosity. I
knew they were poor, and I should not have given a promise which would
either bring them into difficulties or expose me to paying too dearly for
my lodging. However, by way of excuse, I can only say that curiosity is
near akin to love. I fancied the countess sensible like an Englishwoman,
passionate like a Spaniard, caressing like a Frenchwoman, and as I had a
good enough opinion of my own merit, I did not doubt for a moment that
she would respond to my affection. With these pleasant delusions in my
head, I counted on exciting the jealousy of all the ladies and gentlemen
of Milan. I had plenty of money, and I longed for an opportunity of
spending it.

Nevertheless, I went every day to rehearsal at Dupre's, and I soon got
madly in love with Agatha. Madame Dupre won over by several presents I
made her, received my confidences with kindness, and by asking Agatha and
her mother to dinner procured me the pleasure of a more private meeting
with my charmer. I profited by the opportunity to make known my feelings,
and I obtained some slight favours, but so slight were they that my flame
only grew the fiercer.

Agatha kept on telling me that everybody knew that the Corticelli was my
mistress, and that for all the gold in the world she would not have it
said that she was my last shift, as I could not see the Corticelli in
private. I swore to her that I did not love the Corticelli, and that I
only kept her to prevent M. Raiberti being compromised; but all this was
of no avail, she had formed her plans, and nothing would content her but
a formal rupture which would give all Turin to understand that I loved
her and her alone. On these conditions she promised me her heart, and
everything which follows in such cases.

I loved her too well not to endeavour to satisfy her, since my
satisfaction depended on hers. With this idea I got Dupre to give a ball
at my expense in some house outside the town, and to invite all the
dancers, male and female, who were engaged for the carnival at Turin.
Every gentleman had the right to bring a lady to have supper and look on,
as only the professional dancers were allowed to dance.

I told Dupre that I would look after the refreshment department, and that
he might tell everybody that no expense was to be spared. I also provided
carriages and sedan-chairs for the ladies, but nobody was to know that I
was furnishing the money. Dupre saw that there was profit in store for
him, and went about it at once. He found a suitable house, asked the lady
dancers, and distributed about fifty tickets.

Agatha and her mother were the only persons who knew that the project was
mine, and that I was responsible to a great extent for the expenses; but
these facts were generally known the day after the ball.

Agatha had no dress that was good enough, so I charged Madame Dupre to
provide one at my expense, and I was well served. It is well known that
when this sort of people dip their fingers into other's purses they are
not sparing, but that was just what I wanted. Agatha promised to dance
all the quadrilles with me, and to return to Turin with Madame Dupre.

On the day fixed for the ball I stayed to dinner at the Dupre's to be
present at Agatha's toilette. Her dress was a rich and newly-made Lyons
silk, and the trimming was exquisite Alencon point lace, of which the
girl did not know the value. Madame R----, who had arranged the dress,
and Madame Dupre, had received instructions to say nothing about it to
her.

When Agatha was ready to start, I told her that the ear-rings she was
wearing were not good enough for her dress.

"That's true," said Madame Dupre, "and it's a great pity."

"Unfortunately," said the mother, "my poor girl hasn't got another pair."

"I have some pretty imitation pendants, which I could lend you," said I;
"they are really very brilliant."

I had taken care to put the ear-rings which Madame d'Urfe had intended
for the Countess Lascaris in my pocket. I drew them out, and they were
greatly admired.

"One would swear they were real diamonds," said Madame Dupre.

I put them in Agatha's ears. She admired them very much, and said that
all the other girls would be jealous, as they would certainly take them
for real stones.

I went home and made an elaborate toilette, and on arriving at the ball I
found Agatha dancing with Lord Percy, a young fool, who was the son of
the Duke of Northumberland, and an extravagant spendthrift.

I noticed several handsome ladies from Turin, who, being merely
onlookers, might be thinking that the ball was given for their amusement,
like the fly on the chariot wheel. All the ambassadors were present, and
amongst others M. de Chauvelin, who told me that to make everything
complete my pretty housekeeper at Soleure was wanting.

The Marquis and Marchioness de Prie were there also. The marquis did not
care to dance, so was playing a little game of quinze with a rude
gamester, who would not let the marquis's mistress look over his cards.
She saw me, but pretended not to recognize me; the trick I had played her
at Aix being probably enough to last her for some time.

The minuets came to an end, and Dupre announced the quadrilles, and I was
glad to see the Chevalier Ville-Follet dancing with the Corticelli. My
partner was Agatha, who had great difficulty in getting rid of Lord
Percy, though she told him that she was fully engaged.

Minuets and quadrilles followed each other in succession, and
refreshments began to make their appearance. I was delighted to see that
the refreshment counter was furnished with the utmost liberality. The
Piedmontese, who are great at calculations, estimated that Dupre must
lose by it, the firing of champagne corks was continuous.

Feeling tired I asked Agatha to sit down, and I was telling her how I
loved her when Madame de Chauvelin and another lady interrupted us. I
rose to give them place, and Agatha imitated my example; but Madame de
Chauvelin made her sit down beside her, and praised her dress, and above
all the lace trimming. The other lady said how pretty her ear-rings were,
and what a pity it was that those imitation stones would lose their
brilliance in time. Madame de Chauvelin, who knew something about
precious stones, said that they would never lose their brilliance, as
they were diamonds of the first water.

"It is not so?" she added, to Agatha, who in the candour of her heart
confessed that they were imitation, and that I had lent them to her.

At this Madame de Chauvelin burst out laughing, and said,--

"M. de Seingalt has deceived you, my dear child. A gentleman of his caste
does not lend imitation jewellery to such a pretty girl as you are. Your
ear-rings are set with magnificent diamonds."

She blushed, for my silence confirmed the lady's assertion, and she felt
that the fact of my having lent her such stones was a palpable proof of
the great esteem in which I held her.

Madame de Chauvelin asked me to dance a minuet with Agatha, and my
partner executed the dance with wonderful grace. When it was over Madame
de Chauvelin thanked me, and told me that she should always remember our
dancing together at Soleure, and that she hoped I would dance again with
her at her own house. A profound bow shewed her how flattered I felt by
the compliment.

The ball did not come to an end till four o'clock in the morning, and I
did not leave it till I saw Agatha going away in the company with Madame
Dupre.

I was still in bed the next morning, when my man told me a pretty woman
wanted to speak to me. I had her in and was delighted to find it was
Agatha's mother. I made her sit down beside me, and gave her a cup of
chocolate. As soon as we were alone she drew my ear-rings from her
pocket, and said, with a smile, that she had just been shewing them to a
jeweller, who had offered her a thousand sequins for them.

"The man's mad," said I, "you ought to have let him have them; they are
not worth four sequins."

So saying, I drew her to my arms and gave her a kiss. Feeling that she
had shared in the kiss, and that she seemed to like it, I went farther,
and at last we spent a couple of hours in shewing what a high opinion we
had of each other.

Afterwards we both looked rather astonished, and it was the beautiful
mother who first broke the silence.

"Am I to tell my girl," said she, with a smile, "of the way in which you
proved to me that you love her?"

"I leave that to your discretion, my dear," said I. "I have certainly
proved that I love you, but it does not follow that I do not adore your
daughter. In fact, I burn for her; and yet, if we are not careful to
avoid being alone together, what has just happened between us will often
happen again."

"It is hard to resist you, and it is possible that I may have occasion to
speak to you again in private."

"You may be sure you will always be welcome, and all I ask of you is not
to put any obstacles in the way of my suit with Agatha."

"I have also a favour to ask."

"If it is within my power, you may be sure I will grant it."

"Very good! Then tell me if these ear-rings are real, and what was your
intention in putting them in my daughter's ears?"

"The diamonds are perfectly genuine, and my intention was that Agatha
should keep them as a proof of my affection."

She heaved a sigh, and then told me that I might ask them to supper, with
Dupre and his wife, whenever I pleased. I thanked her, gave her ten
sequins, and sent her away happy.

On reflection I decided that I had never seen a more sensible woman than
Agatha's mother. It would have been impossible to announce the success of
my suit in a more delicate or more perspicuous manner.

My readers will no doubt guess that I seized the opportunity and brought
this interesting affair to a conclusion. The same evening I asked Dupre
and his wife, Agatha and her mother, to sup with me the next day, in
addition to my usual company. But as I was leaving Dupre's I had an
adventure.

My man, who was a great rascal, but who behaved well on this occasion,
ran up to me panting for breath, and said triumphantly,

"Sir, I have been looking for you to warn you that I have just seen the
Chevalier de Ville-Follet slip into Madame Pacienza's house, and I
suspect he is making an amorous call on the Corticelli."

I immediately walked to the abode of the worthy spy in high spirits, and
hoping that my servant's guess had been correct. I walked in and found
the landlady and the mother sitting together. Without noticing them, I
was making my way towards the Corticelli's room when the two old ladies
arrested my course, telling me that the signora was not well and wanted
rest. I pushed them aside, and entered the room so swiftly and suddenly
that I found the gentleman in a state of nature while the girl remained
stretched on the bed as if petrified by my sudden apparition.

"Sir," said I, "I hope you will pardon me for coming in without
knocking."

"Wait a moment, wait a moment."

Far from waiting I went away in high glee, and told the story to the
Chevalier Raiberti, who enjoyed it as well as I did. I asked him to warn
the Pacienza woman that from that day I would pay nothing for Corticelli,
who had ceased to belong to me. He approved, and said,--

"I suppose you will not be going to complain to the Count d'Aglie?"

"It is only fools who complain, above all in circumstances like these."

This scandalous story would have been consigned to forgetfulness, if it
had not been for the Chevalier de Ville-Follet's indiscretion. He felt
angry at being interrupted in the middle of the business, and remembering
he had seen my man just before fixed on him as the informer. Meeting him
in the street the chevalier reproached him for spying, whereon the
impudent rascal replied that he was only answerable to his master, and
that it was his duty to serve me in all things. On this the chevalier
caned him, and the man went to complain to the superintendent, who
summoned Ville-Follet to appear before him and explain his conduct.
Having nothing to fear, he told the whole story.

The Chevalier de Raiberti, too, was very ill received when he went to
tell Madame Pacienza that neither he nor I were going to pay her anything
more in future; but he would listen to no defence. The chevalier came to
sup with me, and he informed me that on leaving the house he had met a
police sergeant, whom he concluded had come to cite the landlady to
appear before the Count d'Aglie.

The next day, just as I was going to M. de Chauvelin's ball, I received
to my great surprise a note from the superintendent begging me to call on
him as he had something to communicate to me. I immediately ordered my
chairmen to take me to his residence.

M. de Aglie received me in private with great politeness, and after
giving me a chair he began a long and pathetic discourse, the gist of
which was that it was my duty to forgive this little slip of my
mistress's.

"That's exactly what I am going to do," said I; "and for the rest of my
days I never wish to see the Corticelli again, or to make or mar in her
affairs, and for all this I am greatly obliged to the Chevalier de
Ville-Follet."

"I see you are angry. Come, come! you must not abandon the girl for that.
I will have the woman Pacienza punished in such a way as to satisfy you,
and I will place the girl in a respectable family where you can go and
see her in perfect liberty."

"I am greatly obliged to you for your kindness, indeed I am grateful; but
I despise the Pacienza too heartily to wish for her punishment, and as to
the Corticelli and her mother, they are two female swindlers, who have
given me too much trouble already. I am well quit of them."

"You must confess, however, that you had no right to make a forcible
entry into a room in a house which does not belong to you."

"I had not the right, I confess, but if I had not taken it I could never
have had a certain proof of the perfidy of my mistress; and I should have
been obliged to continue supporting her, though she entertained other
lovers."

"The Corticelli pretends that you are her debtor, and not vice versa. She
says that the diamonds you have given another girl belong of right to
her, and that Madame d'Urfe, whom I have the honour to know, presented
her with them."

"She is a liar! And as you know Madame d'Urfe, kindly write to her (she
is at Lyons); and if the marchioness replies that I owe the wretched girl
anything, be sure that I will discharge the debt. I have a hundred
thousand francs in good banks of this town, and the money will be a
sufficient surety for the ear-rings I have disposed of."

"I am sorry that things have happened so."

"And I am very glad, as I have ridden myself of a burden that was hard to
bear."

Thereupon we bowed politely to one another, and I left the office.

At the French ambassador's ball I heard so much talk of my adventure that
at last I refused to reply to any more questions on the subject. The
general opinion was that the whole affair was a trifle of which I could
not honourably take any notice; but I thought myself the best judge of my
own honour, and was determined to take no notice of the opinions of
others. The Chevalier de Ville-Follet came up to me and said that if I
abandoned the Corticelli for such a trifle, he should feel obliged to
give me satisfaction. I shook his hand, saying,--

"My dear chevalier, it will be enough if you do not demand satisfaction
of me."

He understood how the land lay, and said no more about it; but not so his
sister, the Marchioness de Prie, who made a vigorous attack on me after
we had danced together. She was handsome, and might have been victorious
if she had liked, but luckily she did not think of exerting her power,
and so gained nothing.

Three days after, Madame de St. Giles, a great power in Turin, and a kind
of protecting deity to all actresses, summoned me to her presence by a
liveried footman. Guessing what she wanted, I called on her
unceremoniously in a morning coat. She received me politely, and began to
talk of the Corticelli affair with great affability; but I did not like
her, and replied dryly that I had had no hesitation in abandoning the
girl to the protection of the gallant gentleman with whom I had surprised
her in 'flagrante delicto'. She told me I should be sorry for it, and
that she would publish a little story which she had already read and
which did not do me much credit. I replied that I never changed my mind,
and that threats were of no avail with me. With that parting shot I left
her.

I did not attach much importance to the town gossip, but a week after I
received a manuscript containing an account--accurate in most
respects--of my relations with the Corticelli and Madame d'Urfe, but so
ill written and badly expressed that nobody could read it without
weariness. It did not make the slightest impression on me, and I stayed a
fortnight longer in Turin without its causing me the slightest annoyance.
I saw the Corticelli again in Paris six months after, and will speak of
our meeting in due time.

The day after M. de Chauvelin's ball I asked Agatha, her mother, the
Dupres, and my usual company to supper. It was the mother's business to
so arrange matters that the ear-rings should become Agatha's lawful
property, so I left everything to her. I knew she would manage to
introduce the subject, and while we were at supper she said that the
common report of Turin was that I had given her daughter a pair of
diamond ear-rings worth five hundred Louis, which the Corticelli claimed
as hers by right.

"I do not know," she added, "if they are real diamonds, or if they belong
to the Corticelli, but I do know that my girl has received no such
present from the gentleman."

"Well, well," said I, "we will have no more surmises in the matter;" and
going up to Agatha I put the earrings on her, saying,--

"Dearest Agatha, I make you a present of them before this company, and my
giving them to you now is a proof that hitherto they have belonged to
me."

Everybody applauded, and I read in the girl's eyes that I should have no
cause to regret my generosity.

We then fell to speaking of the affair of Ville-Follet and the
Corticelli, and of the efforts that had been made to compel me to retain
her. The Chevalier Raiberti said that in my place he would have offered
Madame de St. Giles or the superintendent to continue paying for her
board, but merely as an act of charity, and that I could have deposited
money with either of them.

"I should be very glad to do so," said I; and the next day the worthy
chevalier made the necessary arrangements with Madame de St. Giles, and I
furnished the necessary moneys.

In spite of this charitable action, the wretched manuscript came out,
but, as I have said, without doing me any harm. The superintendent made
the Corticelli live in the same house with Redegonde, and Madame Pacienza
was left in peace.

After supper, with the exception of the Chevalier Raiberti, we all
masked, and went to the ball at the opera-house. I soon seized the
opportunity of escaping with Agatha, and she granted me all that love can
desire. All constraint was banished; she was my titular mistress, and we
were proud of belonging the one to the other, for we loved each other.
The suppers I had given at my house had set me perfectly at liberty, and
the superintendent could do nothing to thwart our love, though he was
informed of it, so well are the spies of Turin organized.

Divine Providence made use of me as its instrument in making Agatha's
fortune. It may be said that Providence might have chosen a more moral
method, but are we to presume to limit the paths of Providence to the
narrow circle of our prejudices and conventions? It has its own ways,
which often appear dark to us because of our ignorance. At all events, if
I am able to continue these Memoirs for six or seven years more, the
reader will see that Agatha shewed herself grateful. But to return to our
subject.

The happiness we enjoyed by day and night was so great, Agatha was so
affectionate and I so amorous, that we should certainly have remained
united for some time if it had not been for the event I am about to
relate. It made me leave Turin much sooner than I had intended, for I had
not purposed to visit the wonderful Spanish countess at Milan till Lent.
The husband of the Spanish lady had finished his business and left Turin,
thanking me with tears in his eyes; and if it had not been for me he
would not have been able to quit the town, for I paid divers small debts
he had incurred, and gave him the wherewithal for his journey. Often is
vice thus found allied to virtue or masking in virtue's guise; but what
matter? I allowed myself to be taken in, and did not wish to be
disabused. I do not seek to conceal my faults. I have always led a
profligate life, and have not always been very delicate in the choice of
means to gratify my passions, but even amidst my vices I was always a
passionate lover of virtue. Benevolence, especially, has always had a
great charm for me, and I have never failed to exercise it unless when
restrained by the desire of vengeance--a vice which has always had a
controlling influence on my actions.

Lord Percy, as I have remarked, was deeply in love with my Agatha. He
followed her about everywhere, was present at all the rehearsals, waited
for her at the wings, and called on her every day, although her landlady,
a duenna of the Pacienza school, would never let her see him alone. The
principal methods of seduction--rich presents--had not been spared, but
Agatha persistently refused them all, and forbade her duenna to take
anything from the young nobleman. Agatha had no liking for him, and kept
me well informed of all his actions, and we used to laugh at him
together. I knew that I possessed her heart, and consequently Lord
Percy's attempts neither made me angry or jealous--nay, they flattered my
self-esteem, for his slighted love made my own happiness stand out in
greater relief. Everybody knew that Agatha remained faithful to me, and
at last Lord Percy was so convinced of the hopelessness of the attempt
that he resolved on making a friend of me, and winning me over to his
interests.

With the true Englishman's boldness and coolness he came to me one
morning, and asked me to give him breakfast. I welcomed him in the French
manner, that is, with combined cordiality and politeness, and he was soon
completely at his ease.

With insular directness he went straight to the point at the first
interview, declared his love for Agatha, and proposed an exchange, which
amused, but did not offend me, as I knew that such bargains were common
in England.

"I know," said he, "that you are in love with Redegonde, and have long
tried vainly to obtain her; now I am willing to exchange her for Agatha,
and all I want to know is what sum of money you want over and above?"

"You are very good, my dear lord, but to determine the excess of value
would require a good mathematician. Redegonde is all very well, and
inspires me with curiosity, but what is she compared to Agatha?"

"I know, I know, and I therefore offer you any sum you like to mention."

Percy was very rich, and very passionate. I am sure that if I had named
twenty-five thousand guineas as overplus, or rather as exchange--for I
did not care for Redegonde--he would have said done. However, I did not,
and I am glad of it. Even now, when a hundred thousand francs would be a
fortune to me, I never repent of my delicacy.

After we had breakfasted merrily together, I told him that I liked him
well, but that in the first place it would be well to ascertain whether
the two commodities would consent to change masters.

"I am sure of Redegonde's consent," said Lord Percy.

"But I am not at all sure of Agatha's," said I.

"Why not?"

"I have very strong grounds for supposing that she would not consent to
the arrangement. What reasons have you for the contrary opinion?"

"She will shew her sense."

"But she loves me."

"Well, Redegonde loves me."

"I dare say; but does she love me?"

"I am sure I don't know, but she will love you."

"Have you consulted her upon the point?"

"No, but it is all the same. What I want to know now is whether you
approve of my plan, and how much you want for the exchange, for your
Agatha is worth much more than my Redegonde."

"I am delighted to hear you do my mistress justice. As for the money
question, we will speak of that later. In the first place I will take
Agatha's opinion, and will let you know the result to-morrow morning."

The plan amused me, and though I was passionately attached to Agatha I
knew my inconstant nature well enough to be aware that another woman, may
be not so fair as she, would soon make me forget her. I therefore
resolved to push the matter through if I could do so in a manner that
would be advantageous for her.

What surprised me was that the young nobleman had gained possession of
Redegonde, whose mother appeared so intractable, but I knew what an
influence caprice has on woman, and this explained the enigma.

Agatha came to supper as usual, and laughed heartily when I told her of
Lord Percy's proposal.

"Tell me," said I, "if you would agree to the change?"

"I will do just as you like," said she; "and if the money he offers be
acceptable to you, I advise you to close with him."

I could see by the tone of her voice that she was jesting, but her reply
did not please me. I should have liked to have my vanity flattered by a
peremptory refusal, and consequently I felt angry. My face grew grave,
and Agatha became melancholy.

"We will see," said I, "how it all ends."

Next day I went to breakfast with the Englishman, and told him Agatha was
willing, but that I must first hear what Redegonde had to say.

"Quite right," he observed.

"I should require to know how we are to live together."

"The four of us had better go masked to the first ball at the Carignan
Theatre. We will sup at a house which belongs to me, and there the
bargain can be struck."

The party took place according to agreement, and at the given signal we
all left the ball-room. My lord's carriage was in waiting, and we all
drove away and got down at a house I seemed to know. We entered the hall,
and the first thing I saw was the Corticelli. This roused my choler, and
taking Percy aside I told him that such a trick was unworthy of a
gentleman. He laughed, and said he thought I should like her to be thrown
in, and that two pretty women were surely worth as much as Agatha. This
amusing answer made me less angry; but, calling him a madman, I took
Agatha by the arm and went out without staying for any explanations. I
would not make use of his carriage, and instead of returning to the ball
we went home in sedan-chairs, and spent a delicious night in each other's
arms.





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