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Title: Casanova's Homecoming
Author: Schnitzler, Arthur, 1862-1931
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Casanova's Homecoming" ***

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CASANOVA'S HOMECOMING


By Arthur Schnitzler


1922


The Translation of this book was made by EDEN AND CEDAR PAUL



CHAPTER ONE.


Casanova was in his fifty-third year. Though no longer driven by the
lust of adventure that had spurred him in his youth, he was still hunted
athwart the world, hunted now by a restlessness due to the approach of
old age. His yearning for Venice, the city of his birth, grew so intense
that, like a wounded bird slowly circling downwards in its death flight,
he began to move in ever-narrowing circles. Again and again, during the
last ten years of his exile, he had implored the Supreme Council for
leave to return home. Erstwhile, in the drafting of these petitions--a
work in which he was a past master--a defiant, wilful spirit seemed to
have guided his pen; at times even he appeared to take a grim delight in
his forwardness. But of late his requests had been couched in humble,
beseeching words which displayed, ever more plainly, the ache of
homesickness and genuine repentance.

The sins of his earlier years (the most unpardonable to the Venetian
councillors was his free-thinking, not his dissoluteness, or
quarrelsomeness, or rather sportive knavery) were by degrees passing
into oblivion, and so Casanova had a certain amount of confidence that
he would receive a hearing. The history of his marvellous escape from
The Leads of Venice, which he had recounted on innumerable occasions at
the courts of princes, in the palaces of nobles, at the supper tables of
burghers, and in houses of ill fame, was beginning to make people forget
any disrepute which had attached to his name. Moreover, in letters to
Mantua, where he had been staying for two months, persons of influence
had conveyed hope to the adventurer, whose inward and outward lustre
were gradually beginning to fade, that ere long there would come a
favorable turn in his fortunes.

Since his means were now extremely slender, Casanova had decided to
await the expected pardon in the modest but respectable inn where he had
stayed in happier years. To make only passing mention of less spiritual
amusements, with which he could not wholly dispense--he spent most of
his time in writing a polemic against the slanderer Voltaire, hoping
that the publication of this document would serve, upon his return to
Venice, to give him unchallenged position and prestige in the eyes of
all well-disposed citizens.

One morning he went out for a walk beyond the town limits to excogitate
the final touches for some sentences that were to annihilate the infidel
Frenchman. Suddenly he fell prey to a disquiet that almost amounted
to physical distress. He turned over in his mind the life he had
been leading for the last three months. It had grown wearisomely
familiar--the morning walks into the country, the evenings spent in
gambling for petty stakes with the reputed Baron Perotti and the
latter's pock-marked mistress. He thought of the affection lavished upon
himself by his hostess, a woman ardent but no longer young. He thought
of how he had passed his time over the writings of Voltaire and over the
composition of an audacious rejoinder which until that moment had seemed
to him by no means inadequate. Yet now, in the dulcet atmosphere of a
morning in late summer, all these things appeared stupid and repulsive.

Muttering a curse without really knowing upon whose head he wished it
to alight, gripping the hilt of his sword, darting angry glances in all
directions as if invisible scornful eyes were watching him in the
surrounding solitude, he turned on his heel and retraced his steps
back to the town, determined to make arrangements that very hour for
immediate departure. He felt convinced that a more genial mood would
possess him were he to diminish even by a few miles the distance that
separated him from the home for which he longed. It was necessary to
hasten, so that he might be sure of booking a place in the diligence. It
was to leave at eventide by the eastward road. There was little else
to do, for he really need not bother to pay a farewell visit to
Baron Perotti. Half an hour would suffice for the packing of all his
possessions. He thought of the two suits, the shabbier of which he
was wearing at that moment; of the much darned, though once elegant,
underlinen. With two or three snuffboxes, a gold watch and chain, and a
few books, these comprised his whole worldly wealth. He called to mind
past splendors, when he had travelled as a man of distinction,
driving in a fine carriage; when he had been well furnished both with
necessaries and with superfluities; when he had even had his own
servingman--who had usually, of course, been a rogue. These memories
brought impotent anger in their train, and his eyes filled with tears.
A young woman drove towards him, whip in hand. In her little cart, amid
sacks and various odds and ends, lay her husband, drunk and snoring.
Casanova strode by beneath the chestnut trees that lined the highway,
his face working with wrath, unintelligible phrases hissing from between
his clenched teeth. The woman glanced at him inquisitively and mockingly
at first, then, on encountering an angry glare, with some alarm, and
finally, after she had passed, there was amorous invitation in the look
she gave him over her shoulder. Casanova, who was well aware that rage
and hatred can assume the semblance of youth more readily than can
gentleness and amiability, was prompt to realize that a bold response on
his part would bring the cart to a standstill, and that the young woman
would be ready to give him any assignation he pleased. Nevertheless,
although the recognition of this fact put him in a better humor for the
nonce, it seemed hardly worth while to waste minutes upon so trivial
an adventure. He was content, therefore, to allow the peasant woman to
drive her cart and all its contents unimpeded through the dust of the
roadway.

The sun was now high in the heavens, and the shade of the trees hardly
tempered the heat. Casanova was soon compelled to moderate his pace.

Under the thick powder of dust the shabbiness of his garments was no
longer apparent, so that by his dress and bearing he might easily have
been taken for a gentleman of station who had been pleased for once in a
way to walk instead of drive. He had almost reached the arched gateway
near his inn, when he met a heavy country carriage lumbering along the
road. In it was seated a stoutish man, well dressed, and still fairly
young. His hands were clasped across his stomach, his eyelids drooped,
and he seemed about to doze off, when of a sudden he caught sight
of Casanova, and a great change took place in him. His whole aspect
betrayed great excitement. He sprang to his feet, but too quickly, and
fell back into his seat. Rising again, he gave the driver a punch in the
back, to make the fellow pull up. But since the carriage did not stop
instantly, the passenger turned round so as not to lose sight of
Casanova, signalled with both hands, and finally called to him thrice by
name, in a thin, clear voice. Not till he heard the voice, did Casanova
recognize who it was. By now the carriage had stopped, and Casanova
smilingly seized two hands outstretched towards him, saying:

"Olivo, is it really you?"

"Yes, Signor Casanova, it is I. You recognize me, then?"

"Why not? Since I last saw you, on your wedding day, you've put on
flesh; but very likely I've changed a good deal, too, in these fifteen
years, though not perhaps in the same fashion."

"Not a bit of it," exclaimed Olivo. "Why, Signor Casanova, you have
hardly changed at all! And it is more than fifteen years; the sixteen
years were up a few days ago. As you can imagine, Amalia and I had a
good talk about you on the anniversary of our wedding."

"Indeed?" said Casanova cordially. "You both think of me at times?"

The tears came to Olivo's eyes. He was still holding Casanova's hands,
and he pressed them fondly.

"We have so much to thank you for, Signor Casanova. How could we ever
forget our benefactor? Should we do so..."

"Don't speak of it," interrupted Casanova. "How is Signora Amalia? Do
you know, I have been living in Mantua three months, very quietly to
be sure, but taking plenty of walks as I always have done. How is it,
Olivo, that I never met you or your wife before?"

"The matter is simple, Signor Casanova. Both Amalia and I detest the
town, and we gave up living there a long time ago. Would you do me the
favor to jump in? We shall be at home in an hour."

Casanova tried to excuse himself, but Olivo insisted.

"I will take no denial. How delighted Amalia will be to see you once
more, and how proud to show you our three children. Yes, we have three,
Signor Casanova. All girls. Thirteen, ten, and eight--not one of them
old enough yet--you'll excuse me, won't you--to have her head turned by
Casanova."

He laughed good-humoredly, and made as if to help Casanova into the
carriage. The latter shook his head. He had been tempted for a moment
by natural curiosity to accept Olivo's invitation. Then his impatience
returned in full force, and he assured his would-be host that
unfortunately urgent business called him away from Mantua that very
afternoon.

What could he expect to find in Olivo's house? Sixteen years were a long
time! Amalia would be no younger and no prettier. At his age, a girl of
thirteen would not find him interesting. Olivo, too, whom he had known
in old days as a lean and eager student, was now a portly, countrified
paterfamilias. The proposed visit did not offer sufficient attractions
to induce Casanova to abandon a journey that was to bring him thirty or
forty miles nearer to Venice.

Olivo, however, was disinclined to take no for an answer. Casanova must
at least accept a lift back to the inn, a kindly suggestion that could
not decently be refused. It was only a few minutes' drive. The hostess,
a buxom woman in the middle thirties, welcomed Casanova with a glance
that did not fail to disclose to Olivo the tender relationship between
the pair. She shook hands with Olivo as an old acquaintance. She was a
customer of Signor Olivo's, she explained to Casanova, for an excellent
medium-dry wine grown on his estate.

Olivo hastened to announce that the Chevalier de Seingalt (the hostess
had addressed Casanova by this title, and Olivo promptly followed suit)
was so churlish as to refuse the invitation of an old friend, on the
ridiculous plea that to-day of all days he had to leave Mantua. The
woman's look of gloom convinced Olivo that this was the first she had
heard of Casanova's intended departure, and the latter felt it desirable
to explain that his mention of the journey had been a mere pretext, lest
he should incommode his friend's household by an unexpected visit, and
that he had, in fact, an important piece of writing to finish during the
next few days, and no place was better suited for the work than the inn,
where his room was agreeably cool and quiet.

Olivo protested that the Chevalier de Seingalt would do his modest home
the greatest possible honor by finishing the work in question there. A
change to the country could not but be helpful in such an undertaking.
If Casanova should need learned treatises and works of reference, there
would be no lack of them, for Olivo's niece, the daughter of a deceased
half-brother, a girl who though young was extremely erudite, had arrived
a few weeks before with a whole trunkful of books. Should any guests
drop in at times of an evening, the Chevalier need not put himself
about--unless, indeed, after the labors of the day, cheerful
conversation or a game of cards might offer welcome distraction.
Directly Casanova heard of the niece, he decided he would like to make
her acquaintance, and after a show of further reluctance he yielded to
Olivo's solicitation, declaring, however, that on no account would he be
able to leave Mantua for more than a day or two. He begged the hostess
to forward promptly by messenger any letters that should arrive during
his absence, since they might be of the first importance.

Matters having thus been arranged to Olivo's complete satisfaction,
Casanova went to his room, made ready for the journey, and returned to
the parlor in a quarter of an hour. Olivo, meanwhile, had been having a
lively business talk with the hostess. He now rose, drank off his glass
of wine, and with a significant wink promised to bring the Chevalier
back, not perhaps to-morrow or the day after, but in any case in good
order and condition. Casanova, however, had suddenly grown distrait and
irritable. So cold was his farewell to the fond hostess that, at the
carriage door, she whispered a parting word in his ear which was
anything but amiable.

During the drive along the dusty road beneath the glare of the noonday
sun, Olivo gave a garrulous and somewhat incoherent account of his life
since the friends' last meeting. Shortly after his marriage he had
bought a plot of land near the town, and had started in a small way as
market gardener. Doing well at this trade, he had gradually been able to
undertake more ambitious farming ventures. At length, under God's favor,
and thanks to his own and his wife's efficiency, he had been able three
years earlier to buy from the pecuniarily embarrassed Count Marazzani
the latter's old and somewhat dilapidated country seat with a vineyard
attached. He, his wife, and his children were comfortably settled upon
this patrician estate, though with no pretence to patrician splendor.
All these successes were ultimately due to the hundred and fifty gold
pieces that Casanova had presented to Amalia, or rather to her mother.
But for this magical aid, Olivo's lot would still have been the same.
He would still have been giving instruction in reading and writing to
ill-behaved youngsters. Most likely, he would have been an old bachelor
and Amalia an old maid.

Casanova let him ramble on without paying much heed. The incident was
one among many of the date to which it belonged. As he turned it over in
his mind, it seemed to him the most trivial of them all, it had hardly
even troubled the waters of memory.

He had been travelling from Rome to Turin or Paris--he had forgotten
which. During a brief stay in Mantua, he caught sight of Amalia in
church one morning. Pleased with her appearance, with her handsome but
pale and somewhat woebegone face, he gallantly addressed her a friendly
question. In those days everyone had been complaisant to Casanova.
Gladly opening her heart to him, the girl told him that she was not well
off; that she was in love with an usher who was likewise poor; that his
father and her own mother were both unwilling to give their consent to
so inauspicious a union. Casanova promptly declared himself ready
to help matters on. He sought an introduction to Amalia's mother, a
good-looking widow of thirty-six who was still quite worthy of being
courted. Ere long Casanova was on such intimate terms with her that
his word was law. When her consent to the match had been won, Olivo's
father, a merchant in reduced circumstances, was no longer adverse,
being specially influenced by the fact that Casanova (presented to him
as a distant relative of the bride's mother) undertook to defray the
expenses of the wedding and to provide part of the dowry. To Amalia, her
generous patron seemed like a messenger from a higher world. She showed
her gratitude in the manner prompted by her own heart. When, the evening
before her wedding, she withdrew with glowing cheeks from Casanova's
last embrace, she was far from thinking that she had done any wrong
to her future husband, who after all owed his happiness solely to the
amiability and open-handedness of this marvellous friend. Casanova had
never troubled himself as to whether Amalia had confessed to Olivo the
length to which she had gone in gratitude to her benefactor; whether,
perchance, Olivo had taken her sacrifice as a matter of course, and had
not considered it any reason for retrospective jealousy; or whether
Olivo had always remained in ignorance of the matter. Nor did Casanova
allow these questions to harass his mind to-day.

The heat continued to increase. The carriage, with bad springs and hard
cushions, jolted the occupants abominably. Olivo went on chattering in
his high, thin voice; talking incessantly of the fertility of his land,
the excellencies of his wife, the good behavior of his children, and
the innocent pleasures of intercourse with his neighbors--farmers and
landed gentry. Casanova was bored. He began to ask himself irritably why
on earth he had accepted an invitation which could bring nothing but
petty vexations, if not positive disagreeables. He thought longingly of
the cool parlor in Mantua, where at this very hour he might have been
working unhindered at his polemic against Voltaire. He had already made
up his mind to get out at an inn now in sight, hire whatever conveyance
might be available, and drive back to the town, when Olivo uttered a
loud "Hullo!" A pony trap suddenly pulled up, and their own carriage
came to a halt, as if by mutual understanding. Three young girls sprang
out, moving with such activity that the knife-board on which they had
been sitting flew into the air and was overturned.

"My daughters," said Olivo, turning to Casanova with a proprietary air.

Casanova promptly moved as if to relinquish his seat in the carriage.

"Stay where you are, my dear Chevalier," said Olivo. "We shall be at
home in a quarter of an hour, and for that little while we can all make
shift together. Maria, Nanetta, Teresina, this is the Chevalier de
Seingalt, an old friend of mine. Shake hands with him. But for him you
would...."

He broke off, and whispered to Casanova: "I was just going to say
something foolish."

Amending his phrase, he said: "But for him, things would have been very
different!"

Like their father, the girls had black hair and dark eyes. All of them
including Teresina, the eldest, who was still quite the child, looked at
the stranger with frank rustic curiosity. Casanova did not stand upon
ceremony; he kissed each of the girls upon either cheek. Olivo said a
word or two to the lad who was driving the trap in which the children
had come, and the fellow whipped up the pony and drove along the road
towards Mantua.

Laughing and joking, the girls took possession of the seat opposite
Olivo and Casanova. They were closely packed; they all spoke at once;
and since their father likewise went on talking, Casanova found it far
from easy at first to follow the conversation. One name caught his ear,
that of Lieutenant Lorenzi. Teresina explained that the Lieutenant had
passed them on horseback not long before, had said he intended to call
in the evening, and had sent his respects to Father. Mother had at first
meant to come with them to meet Father, but as it was so frightfully
hot she had thought it better to stay at home with Marcolina. As for
Marcolina, she was still in bed when they left home. When they came
along the garden path they had pelted her with hazel nuts through the
open window, or she would still be asleep.

"That's not Marcolina's way," said Olivo to his guest. "Generally she is
at work in the garden at six or even earlier, and sits over her books
till dinner time. Of course we had visitors yesterday, and were up later
than usual. We had a mild game of cards--not the sort of game you are
used to, for we are innocent folk and don't want to win money from one
another. Besides, our good Abbate usually takes a hand, so you can
imagine, Chevalier, that we don't play for high stakes."

At the mention of the Abbate, the three girls laughed again, had an
anecdote to tell, and this made them laugh more than ever. Casanova
nodded amicably, without paying much attention. In imagination he saw
Marcolina, as yet unknown to him, lying in her white bed, opposite the
window. She had thrown off the bedclothes; her form was half revealed;
still heavy with sleep she moved her hands to ward off the hail of nuts.
His senses flamed. He was as certain that Marcolina and Lieutenant
Lorenzi were in love with one another as if he had seen them in a
passionate embrace. He was just as ready to detest the unknown Lorenzi
as to long for the never seen Marcolina.

Through the shimmering haze of noon, a small, square tower now became
visible, thrusting upward through the greyish-green foliage. The
carriage turned into a by-road. To the left were vineyards rising on a
gentle slope; to the right the crests of ancient trees showed above the
wall of a garden. The carriage halted at a doorway in the wall. The
weather-worn door stood wide. The passengers alighted, and at the
master's nod the coachman drove away to the stable. A broad path led
through a chestnut avenue to the house, which at first sight had an
almost neglected appearance. Casanova's attention was especially
attracted by a broken window in the first story. Nor did it escape his
notice that the battlements of the squat tower were crumbling in places.
But the house door was gracefully carved; and directly he entered
the hall it was plain that the interior was carefully kept, and was
certainly in far better condition than might have been supposed from the
outward aspect.

"Amalia," shouted Olivo, so loudly that the vaulted ceiling rang. "Come
down as quickly as you can! I have brought a friend home with me, an old
friend whom you'll be delighted to see!"

Amalia had already appeared on the stairs, although to most of those
who had just come out of the glaring sunlight she was invisible in the
twilit interior. Casanova, whose keen vision enabled him to see well
even in the dark, had noted her presence sooner than Olivo. He smiled,
and was aware that the smile made him look younger. Amalia had not grown
fat, as he had feared. She was still slim and youthful. She recognized
him instantly.

"What a pleasant surprise!" she exclaimed without the slightest
embarrassment, hastening down the stairs, and offering her cheek to
Casanova. The latter, nothing loath, gave her a friendly hug.

"Am I really to believe," said he, "that Maria, Nanetta, and Teresina
are your very own daughters, Amalia? No doubt the passage of the years
makes it possible...."

"And all the other evidence is in keeping," supplemented Olivo. "Rely
upon that, Chevalier!"

Amalia let her eyes dwell reminiscently upon the guest. "I suppose," she
said, "it was your meeting with the Chevalier that has made you so late,
Olivo?"

"Yes, that is why I am late. But I hope there is still something to
eat?"

"Marcolina and I were frightfully hungry, but of course we have waited
dinner for you."

"Can you manage to wait a few minutes longer," asked Casanova, "while I
get rid of the dust of the drive?"

"I will show you your room immediately," answered Olivo. "I do hope,
Chevalier, you will find it to your taste; almost as much to your
taste," he winked, and added in a low tone, "as your room in the inn at
Mantua--though here one or two little things may be lacking."

He led the way upstairs into the gallery surrounding the hall. From one
of the corners a narrow wooden stairway led into the tower. At the top,
Olivo opened the door into the turret chamber, and politely invited
Casanova to enter the modest guest chamber. A maidservant brought up
the valise. Casanova was then left alone in a medium-sized room, simply
furnished, but equipped with all necessaries. It had four tall and
narrow bay-windows, commanding views to the four points of the compass,
across the sunlit plain with its green vineyards, bright meadows, golden
fields, white roads, light-colored houses, and dusky gardens. Casanova
concerned himself little about the view, and hastened to remove the
stains of travel, being impelled less by hunger than by an eager
curiosity to see Marcolina face to face. He did not change, for he
wished to reserve his best suit for evening wear.



CHAPTER TWO.


When Casanova reentered the hall, a panelled chamber on the ground
floor, there were seated at the well-furnished board, his host and
hostess, their three daughters, and a young woman. She was wearing
a simple grey dress of some shimmering material. She had a graceful
figure. Her gaze rested on him as frankly and indifferently as if he
were a member of the household, or had been a guest a hundred times
before. Her face did not light up in the way to which he had grown
accustomed in earlier years, when he had been a charming youth, or later
in his handsome prime. But for a good while now Casanova had ceased to
expect this from a new acquaintance. Nevertheless, even of late the
mention of his name had usually sufficed to arouse on a woman's face an
expression of tardy admiration, or at least some trace of regret, which
was an admission that the hearer would have loved to meet him a few
years earlier. Yet now, when Olivo introduced him to Marcolina as Signor
Casanova, Chevalier de Seingalt, she smiled as she would have smiled at
some utterly indifferent name that carried with it no aroma of adventure
and mystery. Even when he took his seat by her side, kissed her hand,
and allowed his eyes as they dwelt on her to gleam with delight and
desire, her manner betrayed nothing of the demure gratification that
might have seemed an appropriate answer to so ardent a wooing.

After a few polite commonplaces, Casanova told his neighbor that he had
been informed of her intellectual attainments, and asked what was her
chosen subject of study. Her chief interest, she rejoined, was in the
higher mathematics, to which she had been introduced by Professor
Morgagni, the renowned teacher at the university of Bologna. Casanova
expressed his surprise that so charming a young lady should have an
interest, certainly exceptional, in a dry and difficult subject.
Marcolina replied that in her view the higher mathematics was the most
imaginative of all the sciences; one might even say that its nature made
it akin to the divine. When Casanova asked for further enlightenment
upon a view so novel to him, Marcolina modestly declined to continue
the topic, declaring that the others at table, and above all her uncle,
would much rather hear some details of a newly recovered friend's
travels than listen to a philosophical disquisition.

Amalia was prompt to second the proposal; and Casanova, always willing
to oblige in this matter, said in easy-going fashion that during recent
years he had been mainly engaged in secret diplomatic missions. To
mention only places of importance, he had continually been going to and
fro between Madrid, Paris, London, Amsterdam, and St. Petersburg. He
gave an account of meetings and conversations, some grave and some gay,
with men and women of all classes, and did not forget to speak of his
friendly reception at the court of Catharine of Russia. He jestingly
related how Frederick the Great had nearly appointed him instructor at a
cadet school for Pomeranian junkers--a danger from which he had escaped
by a precipitous flight. Of these and many other things he spoke as
recent happenings, although in reality they had occurred years or
decades before. Romancing freely, he was hardly conscious when he was
lying either on a small scale or on a large, being equally delighted
with his own conceits and with the pleasure he was giving to his
auditors. While thus recounting real and imaginary incidents, he could
almost delude himself into the belief that he was still the bold,
radiant Casanova, the favorite of fortune and of beautiful women, the
honored guest of secular and spiritual princes, the man whose spendings
and gamblings and gifts must be reckoned in thousands. It was possible
for him to forget that he was a decayed starveling, supported by pitiful
remittances from former friends in England and Spain---doles which often
failed to arrive, so that he was reduced to the few and paltry gold
pieces which he could win from Baron Perotti or from the Baron's guests.
He could even forget that his highest aim now was to return to his
natal city where he had been cast into prison and from which, since
his escape, he had been banned; to return as one of the meanest of its
citizens, as writer, as beggar, as nonentity; to accept so inglorious a
close to a once brilliant career.

Marcolina listened attentively like the others, but with the same
expression as if she had been listening to someone reading aloud from an
amusing narrative. Her face did not betray the remotest realization of
the fact that the speaker was Casanova; that she was listening to the
man who had had all these experiences and many more; that she was
sitting beside the lover of a thousand women. Very different was the
fire in Amalia's eyes. To her, Casanova was the same as ever. To her,
his voice was no less seductive than it had been sixteen years earlier.
He could not but be aware that at a word or a sign, and as soon as he
pleased, he could revive this old adventure. But what to him was Amalia
at this hour, when he longed for Marcolina as he had never longed for
woman before. Beneath the shimmering folds of her dress he seemed to
see her naked body; her firm young breasts allured him; once when she
stooped to pick up her handkerchief, Casanova's inflamed fancy made him
attach so ardent a significance to her movement that he felt near to
swooning. Marcolina did not fail to notice the involuntary pause in
the flow of his conversation; she perceived that his gaze had begun to
flicker strangely. In her countenance he could read a sudden hostility,
a protest, a trace of disgust.

Casanova speedily recovered his self-command, and was about to continue
his reminiscences with renewed vigor, when a portly priest entered.
Olivo introduced him as Abbate Rossi, and Casanova at once recognized
him as the man he had met twenty-seven years earlier upon a market boat
plying between Venice and Chioggia.

"You had one eye bandaged," said Casanova, who rarely missed a chance
of showing off his excellent memory. "A young peasant-woman wearing a
yellow kerchief round her head advised you to use a healing unguent
which an apothecary with an exceedingly hoarse voice happened to have
with him."

The Abbate nodded, and smiled, well-pleased. Then, with a sly
expression, he came quite close to Casanova, as if about to tell him a
secret. But he spoke out loud.

"As for you, Signor Casanova, you were with a wedding party. I don't
know whether you were one of the ordinary guests or whether you
were best man, but I remember that the bride looked at you far more
languishingly than at the bridegroom. The wind rose; there was half a
gale; you began to read a risky poem."

"No doubt the Chevalier only did so in order to lay the storm," said
Marcolina.

"I never claim the powers of a wizard," rejoined Casanova. "But I will
not deny that after I had begun to read, no one bothered about the
storm." The three girls had encircled the Abbate. For an excellent
reason. From his capacious pockets he produced quantities of luscious
sweets, and popped them into the children's mouths with his stumpy
fingers. Meanwhile Olivo gave the newcomer a circumstantial account of
the rediscovery of Casanova. Dreamily Amalia continued to gaze at the
beloved guest's masterful brown forehead.

The children ran out into the garden; Marcolina had risen from the table
and was watching them through the open window. The Abbate had brought a
message from the Marchese Celsi, who proposed to call that evening, with
his wife, upon his dear friend Olivo.

"Excellent," said Olivo. "We shall have a pleasant game of cards in
honor of the Chevalier. I am expecting the two Ricardis; and Lorenzi is
also coming--the girls met him out riding this morning."

"Is he still here?" asked the Abbate. "A week ago I was told he had to
rejoin his regiment."

"I expect the Marchesa got him an extension of leave from the Colonel."

"I am surprised," interjected Casanova, "that any Mantuese officers can
get leave at present." He went on: "Two friends of mine, one from Mantua
and the other from Cremona, left last night with their regiments,
marching towards Milan."

"Has war broken out?" inquired Marcolina from the window. She had turned
round; her face betrayed nothing, but there was a slight quaver in her
voice which no one but Casanova noticed.

"It may come to nothing," he said lightly. "But the Spaniards seem
rather bellicose, and it is necessary to be on the alert."

Olivo looked important and wrinkled his brow. "Does anyone know," he
asked, "whether we shall side with Spain or with France?"

"I don't think Lieutenant Lorenzi will care a straw about that,"
suggested the Abbate. "All he wants is a chance to prove his military
prowess."

"He has done so already," said Amalia. "He was in the battle at Pavia
three years ago."

Marcolina said not a word.

Casanova knew enough. He went to the window beside Marcolina and looked
out into the garden. He saw nothing but the wide greensward where the
children were playing. It was surrounded by a close-set row of stately
trees within the encompassing wall.

"What lovely grounds," he said, turning to Olivo. "I should so like to
have a look at them."

"Nothing would please me better, Chevalier," answered Olivo, "than to
show you my vineyards and the rest of my estate. You need only ask
Amalia, and she will tell you that during the years since I bought this
little place I have had no keener desire than to welcome you as guest
upon my own land and under my own roof. Ten times at least I was on the
point of writing you an invitation, but was always withheld by the doubt
whether my letter would reach you. If I did happen to hear from some one
that he had recently seen you in Lisbon, I could be quite sure that in
the interval you would have left for Warsaw or Vienna. Now, when as
if by miracle I have caught you on the point of quitting Mantua, and
when--I can assure you, Amalia, it was no easy matter--I have succeeded
in enticing you here, you are so niggard with your time that--would you
believe it, Signor Abbate, he refuses to spare us more than a couple of
days!"

"Perhaps the Chevalier will allow himself to be persuaded to prolong his
visit," said the Abbate, who was contentedly munching a huge mouthful of
peach. As he spoke, he glanced at Amalia in a way that led Casanova to
infer that his hostess had told the Abbate more than she had told her
husband.

"I fear that will be quite impossible," said Casanova with decision.
"I need not conceal from friends who are so keenly interested in my
fortunes, that my Venetian fellow-citizens are on the point of atoning
for the injustice of earlier years. The atonement comes rather late, but
is all the more honorable. I should seem ungrateful, or even rancorous,
were I to resist their importunities any longer." With a wave of his
hand he warded off an eager but respectful enquiry which he saw taking
shape upon his host's lips, and hastened to remark: "Well, Olivo, I am
ready. Show me your little kingdom."

"Would it not be wiser," interposed Amalia, "to wait until it is cooler?
I am sure the Chevalier would prefer to rest for a while, or to stroll
in the shade." Her eyes sought Casanova's with shy entreaty, as if she
thought her fate would be decided once again during such a walk in the
garden.

No one had anything to say against Amalia's suggestion, and they all
went out of doors. Marcolina, who led the way, ran across the sunlit
greensward to join the children in their game of battledore and
shuttlecock. She was hardly taller than the eldest of the three girls;
and when her hair came loose in the exercise and floated over her
shoulders she too looked like a child. Olivo and the Abbate seated
themselves on a stone bench beneath the trees, not far from the house.
Amalia sauntered on with Casanova. As soon as the two were out of
hearing, she began to converse with Casanova in a tone which seemed to
ignore the lapse of years.

"So we meet again, Casanova! How I have longed for this day. I never
doubted its coming."

"A mere chance has brought me," said Casanova coldly.

Amalia smiled. "Have it your own way," she said. "Anyhow, you are here!
All these sixteen years I have done nothing but dream of this day!"

"I can't help thinking," countered Casanova, "that throughout the long
interval you must have dreamed of many other things--and must have done
more than dream."

Amalia shook her head. "You know better, Casanova. Nor had you forgotten
me, for were it otherwise, in your eagerness to get to Venice, you would
never have accepted Olivo's invitation."

"What do you mean, Amalia? Can you imagine I have come here to betray
your husband?"

"How can you use such a phrase, Casanova? Were I to be yours once again,
there would be neither betrayal nor sin."

Casanova laughed. "No sin? Wherefore not? Because I'm an old man?"

"You are not old. For me you can never be an old man. In your arms I had
my first taste of bliss, and I doubt not it is my destiny that my last
bliss shall be shared with you!"

"Your last?" rejoined Casanova cynically, though he was not altogether
unmoved. "I think my friend Olivo would have a word to say about that."

"What you speak of," said Amalia reddening, "is duty, and even pleasure;
but it is not and never has been bliss."

They did not walk to the end of the grass alley. Both seemed to shun the
neighborhood of the greensward, where Marcolina and the children were
playing. As if by common consent they retraced their steps, and, silent
now, approached the house again. One of the ground-floor windows at the
gable end of the house was open. Through this Casanova glimpsed in the
dark interior a half-drawn curtain, from behind which the foot of a bed
projected. Over an adjoining chair was hanging a light, gauzy dress.

"Is that Marcolina's room?" enquired Casanova.

Amalia nodded. "Do you like her?" she said--nonchalantly, as it seemed
to Casanova.

"Of course, since she is good looking."

"She's a good girl as well."

Casanova shrugged, as if the goodness were no concern of his. Then:
"Tell me, Amalia, did you think me still handsome when you first saw me
to-day?"

"I do not know if your looks have changed. To me you seem just the same
as of old. You are as I have always seen you, as I have seen you in my
dreams."

"Look well, Amalia. See the wrinkles on my forehead; the loose folds of
my neck; the crow's-feet round my eyes. And look," he grinned, "I have
lost one of my eye teeth. Look at these hands, too, Amalia. My fingers
are like claws; there are yellow spots on the finger-nails; the blue
veins stand out. They are the hands of an old man."

She clasped both his hands as he held them out for her to see, and
affectionately kissed them one after the other in the shaded walk.
"To-night, I will kiss you on the lips," she said, with a mingling of
humility and tenderness, which roused his gall.

Close by, where the alley opened on to the greensward, Marcolina was
stretched on the grass, her hands clasped beneath her head, looking
skyward while the shuttlecocks flew to and fro. Suddenly reaching
upwards, she seized one of them in mid air, and laughed triumphantly.
The girls flung themselves upon her as she lay defenceless.

Casanova thrilled. "Neither my lips nor my hands are yours to kiss.
Your waiting for me and your dreams of me will prove to have been
vain--unless I should first make Marcolina mine."

"Are you mad, Casanova?" exclaimed Amalia, with distress in her voice.

"If I am, we are both on the same footing," replied Casanova. "You are
mad because in me, an old man, you think that you can rediscover the
beloved of your youth; I am mad because I have taken it into my head
that I wish to possess Marcolina. But perhaps we shall both be
restored to reason. Marcolina shall restore me to youth--for you. So
help me to my wishes, Amalia!"

"You are really beside yourself, Casanova. What you ask is impossible.
She will have nothing to do with any man."

Casanova laughed. "What about Lieutenant Lorenzi?"

"Lorenzi? What do you mean?"

"He is her lover. I am sure of it."

"You are utterly mistaken. He asked for her hand, and she rejected his
proposal. Yet he is young and handsome. I almost think him handsomer
than you ever were, Casanova!"

"He was a suitor for her hand?"

"Ask Olivo if you don't believe me."

"Well, what do I care about that? What care I whether she be virgin or
strumpet, wife or widow--I want to make her mine!"

"I can't give her to you, my friend!" Amalia's voice expressed genuine
concern.

"You see for yourself," he said, "what a pitiful creature I have become.
Ten years ago, five years ago, I should have needed neither helper nor
advocate, even though Marcolina had been the very goddess of virtue. And
now I am trying to make you play the procuress. If I were only a rich
man. Had I but ten thousand ducats. But I have not even ten. I am a
beggar, Amalia."

"Had you a hundred thousand, you could not buy Marcolina. What does she
care about money? She loves books, the sky, the meadows, butterflies,
playing with children. She has inherited a small competence which more
than suffices for her needs."

"Were I but a sovereign prince," cried Casanova, somewhat theatrically,
as was his wont when strongly moved. "Had I but the power to commit men
to prison, to send them to the scaffold. But I am nothing. A beggar, and
a liar into the bargain. I importune the Supreme Council for a post, a
crust of bread, a home! What a poor thing have I become! Are you not
sickened by me, Amalia?"

"I love you, Casanova!"

"Then give her to me, Amalia. It rests with you, I am confident. Tell
her what you please. Say I have threatened you. Say you think I am
capable of setting fire to the house. Say I am a fool, a dangerous
lunatic escaped from an asylum, but that the embraces of a virgin will
restore me to sanity. Yes, tell her that."

"She does not believe in miracles."

"Does not believe in miracles? Then she does not believe in God either.
So much the better! I have influence with the Archbishop of Milan. Tell
her so. I can ruin her. I can destroy you all. It is true, Amalia. What
books does she read? Doubtless some of them are on the Index. Let me see
them. I will compile a list. A hint from me...."

"Not a word more, Casanova! Here she comes. Keep yourself well in hand;
do not let your eyes betray you. Listen, Casanova; I have never known a
purer-minded girl. Did she suspect what I have heard from you, she would
feel herself soiled, and for the rest of your stay she would not so much
as look at you. Talk to her; talk to her. You will soon ask her pardon
and mine."

Marcolina came up with the girls, who ran on into the house. She paused,
as if out of courtesy to the guest, standing before him, while Amalia
deliberately withdrew. Indeed, it actually seemed to Casanova that
from those pale, half-parted lips, from the smooth brow crowned with
light-brown hair now restored to order, there emanated an aroma of
aloofness and purity. Rarely had he had this feeling with regard to any
woman; nor had he had it in the case of Marcolina when they were within
four walls. A devotional mood, a spirit of self-sacrifice knowing
nothing of desire, seemed to take possession of his soul. Discreetly, in
a respectful tone such as at that day was customary towards persons
of rank, in a manner which she could not but regard as flattering, he
enquired whether it was her purpose to resume her studies that evening.
She answered that in the country her work was somewhat irregular.
Nevertheless, even during free hours, mathematical problems upon
which she had recently been pondering, would at times invade her mind
unawares. This had just happened while she was lying on the greensward
gazing up into the sky.

Casanova, emboldened by the friendliness of her demeanor, asked
jestingly what was the nature of this lofty, urgent problem. She
replied, in much the same tone, that it had nothing whatever to do with
the Cabala, with which, so rumor ran, the Chevalier de Seingalt worked
wonders. He would therefore not know what to make of her problem.

Casanova was piqued that she should speak of the Cabala with such
unconcealed contempt. In his rare hours of heart-searching he was well
aware that the mystical system of numbers which passed by that name had
neither sense nor purpose. He knew it had no correspondence with any
natural reality; that it was no more than an instrument whereby cheats
and jesters--Casanova assumed these roles by turn, and was a master
player in both capacities--could lead credulous fools by the nose.
Nevertheless, in defiance of his own better judgment, he now undertook
to defend the Cabala as a serious and perfectly valid science. He spoke
of the divine nature of the number seven, to which there are so many
references in Holy Writ; of the deep prophetic significance of pyramids
of figures, for the construction of which he had himself invented a new
system; and of the frequent fulfilment of the forecasts he had based
upon this system. In Amsterdam, a few years ago, through the use of
arithmancy, he had induced Hope the banker to take over the insurance of
a ship which was already reported lost, whereby the banker had made two
hundred thousand gold guilders. He held forth so eloquently in defence
of his preposterous theories that, as often happened, he began to
believe all the nonsense he was talking. At length he went so far as to
maintain that the Cabala was not so much a branch of mathematics as the
metaphysical perfectionment of mathematics.

At this point, Marcolina, who had been listening attentively and
with apparent seriousness, suddenly assumed a half-commiserating,
half-mischievous expression, and said:

"You are trying, Signor Casanova"--she seemed deliberately to avoid
addressing him as Chevalier--"to give me an elaborate proof of your
renowned talent as entertainer, and I am extremely grateful to you.
But of course you know as well as I do that the Cabala has not merely
nothing to do with mathematics, but is in conflict with the very essence
of mathematics. The Cabala bears to mathematics the same sort of
relationship that the confused or fallacious chatter of the Sophists
bore to the serene, lofty doctrines of Plato and of Aristotle."

"Nevertheless, beautiful and learned Marcolina, you will admit,"
answered Casanova promptly, "that even the Sophists were far from being
such contemptible, foolish apprentices as your harsh criticism would
imply. Let me give you a contemporary example. M. Voltaire's whole
technique of thought and writing entitles us to describe him as an
Arch-Sophist. Yet no one will refuse the due meed of honor to his
extraordinary talent. I would not myself refuse it, though I am at this
moment engaged in composing a polemic against him. Let me add that I am
not allowing myself to be influenced in his favor by recollection of the
extreme civility he was good enough to show me when I visited him at
Ferney ten years ago."

"It is really most considerate of you to be so lenient in your criticism
of the greatest mind of the century!" Marcolina smilingly retorted.

"A great mind--the greatest of the century!" exclaimed Casanova. "To
give him such a designation seems to me inadmissible, were it only
because, for all his genius, he is an ungodly man--nay positively an
atheist. No atheist can be a man of great mind."

"As I see the matter, there is no such incompatibility. But the first
thing you have to prove is your title to describe Voltaire as an
atheist."

Casanova was now in his element. In the opening chapter of his polemic
he had cited from Voltaire's works, especially from the famous
_Pucelle_, a number of passages that seemed peculiarly well-fitted to
justify the charge of atheism. Thanks to his unfailing memory, he
was able to repeat these citations verbatim, and to marshal his own
counter-arguments. But in Marcolina he had to cope with an opponent who
was little inferior to himself in extent of knowledge and mental acumen;
and who, moreover, excelled him, not perhaps in fluency of speech, but
at any rate in artistry of presentation and clarity of expression. The
passages Casanova had selected as demonstrating Voltaire's spirit of
mockery, his scepticism, and his atheism, were adroitly interpreted by
Marcolina as testifying to the Frenchman's scientific genius, to his
skill as an author, and to his indefatigable ardor in the search for
truth. She boldly contended that doubt, mockery, nay unbelief itself, if
associated with such a wealth of knowledge, such absolute honesty, and
such high courage, must be more pleasing to God than the humility of
the pious, which was apt to be a mask for lack of capacity to think
logically, and often enough--there were plenty of examples--a mask for
cowardice and hypocrisy.

Casanova listened with growing astonishment. He felt quite incompetent
to convert Marcolina to his own way of thinking; all the more as he
increasingly realized that her counterstrokes were threatening to
demolish the tottering intellectual edifice which, of late years, he
had been accustomed to mistake for faith. He took refuge in the trite
assertion that such views as Marcolina's were a menace, not only to
the ecclesiastical ordering of society, but to the very foundations of
social life. This enabled him to make a clever change of front, to pass
into the field of politics, where he hoped that his wide experience and
his knowledge of the world would render it possible for him to get the
better of his adversary. But although she lacked acquaintance with
the notable personalities of the age; although she was without inside
knowledge of courtly and diplomatic intrigues; although, therefore, she
had to renounce any attempt to answer Casanova in detail, even when
she felt there was good reason to distrust the accuracy of his
assertions--nevertheless, it was clear to him from the tenor of her
remarks, that she had little respect for the princes of the earth or
for the institutions of state; and she made no secret of her conviction
that, alike in small things and in great, the world was not so much a
world ruled by selfishness and lust for power, as a world in a condition
of hopeless confusion. Rarely had Casanova encountered such freedom of
thought in women; never had he met with anything of the kind in a girl
who was certainly not yet twenty years old. It was painful to him
to remember that in earlier and better days his own mind had with
deliberate, self-complacent boldness moved along the paths whereon
Marcolina was now advancing--although in her case there did not seem
to exist any consciousness of exceptional courage. Fascinated by the
uniqueness of her methods of thought and expression, he almost forgot
that he was walking beside a young, beautiful, desirable woman, a
forgetfulness all the more remarkable as the two were alone in the leafy
alley, and at a considerable distance from the house.

Suddenly, breaking off in the middle of a sentence, Marcolina joyfully
exclaimed, "Here comes my uncle!"

Casanova, as if he had to rectify an omission, whispered in her ear:
"What a nuisance. I should have liked to go on talking to you for hours,
Marcolina." He was aware that his eyes were again lighting up with
desire.

At this Marcolina, who in the spirited exchange of their recent
conversation had almost abandoned her defensive attitude, displayed a
renewed reserve. Her expression manifested the same protest, the same
repulsion, which had wounded Casanova earlier in the day.

"Am I really so repulsive?" he anxiously asked himself. Then, replying
in thought to his own question: "No, that is not the reason. Marcolina
is not really a woman. She is a she-professor, a she-philosopher, one of
the wonders of the world perhaps--but not a woman."

Yet even as he mused, he knew he was merely attempting to deceive
himself, console himself, save himself; and all his endeavors were vain.

Olivo, who had now come up, addressed Marcolina. "Have I not done well
to invite some one here with whom you can converse as learnedly as with
your professors at Bologna?"

"Indeed, Uncle," answered Marcolina, "there was not one of them who
would have ventured to challenge Voltaire to a duel!"

"What, Voltaire? The Chevalier has called him out?" cried Olivo,
misunderstanding the jest.

"Your witty niece, Olivo, refers to the polemic on which I have been at
work for the last few days, the pastime of leisure hours. I used to have
weightier occupations."

Marcolina, ignoring this remark, said: "You will find it pleasantly cool
now for your walk. Goodbye for the present." She nodded a farewell, and
moved briskly across the greensward to the house.

Casanova, repressing an impulse to follow her with his eyes, enquired:
"Is Signora Amalia coming with us?"

"No, Chevalier," answered Olivo. "She has a number of things to attend
to in the house; and besides, this is the girls' lesson time."

"What an excellent housewife and mother! You're a lucky fellow, Olivo!"

"I tell myself the same thing every day," responded Olivo, with tears in
his eyes.

They passed by the gable end of the house. Marcolina's window was still
open; the pale, diaphanous gown showed up against the dark background of
the room. Along the wide chestnut avenue they made their way on to the
road, now completely in the shade. Leisurely, they walked up the slope
skirting the garden wall. Where it ended, the vineyard began. Between
tall poles, from which purple clusters hung, Olivo led his guest to the
summit. With a complacent air of ownership, he waved towards the house,
lying at the foot of the hill. Casanova fancied he could detect a female
figure flitting to and fro in the turret chamber.

The sun was near to setting, but the heat was still considerable. Beads
of perspiration coursed down Olivo's cheeks, but Casanova's brow showed
no trace of moisture. Strolling down the farther slope, they reached an
olive grove. From tree to tree vines were trained trellis-wise, while
between the rows of olive trees golden ears of corn swayed in the
breeze.

"In a thousand ways," said Casanova appreciatively, "the sun brings
increase."

With even greater wealth of detail than before, Olivo recounted how he
had acquired this fine estate, and how two great vintage years and two
good harvests had made him a well-to-do, in fact a wealthy, man.

Casanova pursued the train of his own thoughts, attending to Olivo's
narrative only in so far as was requisite to enable him from time to
time to interpose a polite question or to make an appropriate comment.
Nothing claimed his interest until Olivo, after talking of all and
sundry, came back to the topic of his family, and at length to
Marcolina. But Casanova learned little that was new. She had lost her
mother early. Her father, Olivo's half-brother, had been a physician in
Bologna. Marcolina, while still a child, had astonished everyone by her
precocious intelligence; but the marvel was soon staled by custom. A few
years later, her father died. Since then she had been an inmate in the
household of a distinguished professor at the university of Bologna,
Morgagni to wit, who hoped that his pupil would become a woman of great
learning. She always spent the summer with her uncle. There had been
several proposals for her hand; one from a Bolognese merchant; one from
a neighboring landowner; and lastly the proposal of Lieutenant Lorenzi.
She had refused them all, and it seemed to be her design to devote her
whole life to the service of knowledge. As Olivo rambled on with his
story, Casanova's desires grew beyond measure, while the recognition
that these desires were utterly foolish and futile reduced him almost to
despair.



CHAPTER THREE.


Casanova and Olivo regained the highroad. In a cloud of dust, a carriage
drove up, and as they drew near the occupants shouted greetings. The
newcomers were an elderly gentleman in elegant attire and a lady who was
somewhat younger, of generous proportions, and conspicuously rouged.

"The Marchese," whispered Olivo to his companion.

The carriage halted.

"Good evening, my dear Olivo," said the Marchese. "Will you be so good
as to introduce me to the Chevalier de Seingalt? I have no doubt that it
is the Chevalier whom I have the pleasure of seeing."

Casanova bowed, saying: "Yes, I am he."

"I am the Marchese Celsi. Let me present the Marchesa, my spouse." The
lady offered her finger tips. Casanova touched them with his lips.

The Marchese was two or three inches taller than Casanova, and
unnaturally lean. He had a narrow face, of a yellow, waxy tint; his
greenish eyes were piercing; his thick eyebrows were of reddish color,
and met across the root of the nose. These characteristics gave him a
somewhat formidable aspect. "My good Olivo," he said, "we are all going
to the same destination. Since it is little more than half a mile to
your house, I shall get out and walk with you. You won't mind driving
the rest of the way alone," he added, turning to the Marchesa, who had
meanwhile been gazing at Casanova with searching, passionate eyes.
Without awaiting his wife's answer, the Marchese nodded to the coachman,
who promptly lashed the horses furiously, as if he had some reason for
driving his mistress away at top speed. In an instant the carriage
vanished in a whirl of dust.

"The whole neighborhood," said the Marchese, "is already aware that
the Chevalier de Seingalt has come to spend a few days with his friend
Olivo. It must be glorious to bear so renowned a name."

"You flatter me, Signor Marchese," replied Casanova. "I have not yet
abandoned the hope of winning such a name, but I am still far from
having done so. It may be that a work on which I am now engaged will
bring me nearer to the goal."

"We can take a short cut here," said Olivo, turning into a path which
led straight to the wall of his garden.

"Work?" echoed the Marchese with a doubtful air. "May I enquire to what
work you refer, Chevalier?"

"If you ask me that question, Signor Marchese, I shall in my turn feel
impelled to enquire what you meant just now when you referred to my
renown."

Arrogantly he faced the Marchese's piercing eyes. He knew perfectly well
that neither his romance _Icosameron_ nor yet his _Confutazione della
storia del governo veneto d'Amelot de la Houssaie_ had brought him any
notable reputation as an author. Nevertheless it was his pose to imply
that for him no other sort of reputation was desirable. He therefore
deliberately misunderstood the Marchese's tentative observations and
cautious allusions, which implied that Casanova was a celebrated
seducer, gamester, man of affairs, political emissary, or what not.
Celsi made no reference to authorship, for he had never heard of
either the _Refutation of Amelot_ or the _Icosameron_. At length,
therefore, in polite embarrassment, he said: "After all, there is
only one Casanova."

"There, likewise, you are mistaken, Signor Marchese," said Casanova
coldly. "I have relatives, and a connoisseur like yourself must surely
be acquainted with the name of one of my brothers, Francesco Casanova,
the painter."

It seemed that the Marchese had no claim to connoisseurship in this
field either, and he turned the conversation to acquaintances living in
Naples, Rome, Milan, or Mantua, persons whom Casanova was not unlikely
to have met. In this connection he also mentioned the name of Baron
Perotti, but somewhat contemptuously.

Casanova was constrained to admit that he often played cards at the
Baron's house. "For distraction," he explained; "for half an hour's
relaxation before bedtime. In general, I have given up this way of
wasting my time."

"I am sorry," said the Marchese, "for I must own it has been one of the
dreams of my life to cross swords with you. Not only, indeed, at the
card table; for when I was younger I would gladly have been your rival
in other fields. Would you believe it--I forget how long ago it was--I
once entered Spa on the very day, at the very hour, when you left the
place. Our carriages must have passed one another on the road. In
Ratisbon, too, I had the same piece of ill luck. There I actually
occupied the room of which your tenancy had just expired."

"It is indeed unfortunate," said Casanova, flattered in spite of
himself, "that people's paths so often cross too late in life."

"Not yet too late!" exclaimed the Marchese. "There are certain respects
in which I shall not be loath to avow myself vanquished before the
fight begins. But as regards games of chance, my dear Chevalier, we are
perhaps both of us precisely at the age...."

Casanova cut him short. "At the age--very likely. Unfortunately,
however, I can no longer look forward to the pleasure of measuring
myself at the card table with a partner of your rank. The reason is
simple." He spoke in the tone of a dethroned sovereign. "Despite my
renown, my dear Marchese, I am now practically reduced to the condition
of a beggar."

The Marchese involuntarily lowered his eyes before Casanova's haughty
gaze. He shook his head incredulously, as if he had been listening to a
strange jest. Olivo, who had followed the conversation with the keenest
attention, and had accompanied the skilful parries of his marvellous
friend with approving nods, could hardly repress a gesture of alarm.
They had just reached a narrow wooden door in the garden wall. Olivo
produced a key, and turned the creaking lock. Giving the Marchese
precedence into the garden, he arrested Casanova by the arm, whispering:

"You must take back those last words, Chevalier, before you set foot
in my house again. The money I have been owing you these sixteen years
awaits you. I was only afraid to speak of it. Amalia will tell you. It
is counted out and ready. I had proposed to hand it over to you on your
departure...."

Casanova gently interrupted him. "You owe me nothing, Olivo. You know
perfectly well that those paltry gold pieces were a wedding present from
the friend of Amalia's mother. Please drop the subject. What are a few
ducats to me?" He raised his voice as he spoke, so that the Marchese,
who had paused at a few paces' distance could hear the concluding words.
"I stand at a turning-point in my fortunes."

Olivo exchanged glances with Casanova, as if asking permission, and then
explained to the Marchese: "You must know that the Chevalier has been
summoned to Venice, and will set out for home in a few days."

"I would rather put it," remarked Casanova as they approached the house,
"that summonses, growing ever more urgent, have been reaching me for
a considerable while. But it seems to me that the senators took long
enough to make up their minds, and may in their turn practise the virtue
of patience."

"Unquestionably," said the Marchese, "you are entitled to stand upon
your dignity, Chevalier."

They emerged from the avenue on to the greensward, across which the
shadow of the house had now lengthened. Close to the dwelling, the rest
of the little company was awaiting them. All rose and came to meet them.
The Abbate led the way, with Marcolina and Amalia on either side. They
were followed by the Marchesa, with whom came a tall, young officer,
clad in a red uniform trimmed with silver lace, and wearing
jack-boots--evidently Lorenzi. As he spoke to the Marchesa, he scanned
her powdered shoulders as if they were well-known samples of other
beauties with which he was equally familiar. The Marchesa smiled
up at him beneath half-closed lids. Even a tyro in such matters could
hardly fail to realize the nature of their relationship, or to perceive
that they were quite unconcerned at its disclosure. They were conversing
in animated fashion, but in low tones; and they ceased talking only when
they caught up with the others.

Olivo introduced Casanova and Lorenzi to one another. They exchanged
glances with a cold aloofness that seemed to offer mutual assurances of
dislike; then, with a forced smile, both bowed stiffly without offering
to shake hands. Lorenzi was handsome, with a narrow visage and features
sharply cut for his age. At the back of his eyes something difficult
to grasp seemed to lurk, something likely to suggest caution to one of
experience. For a moment, Casanova was in doubt as to who it was that
Lorenzi reminded him of. Then he realized that his own image stood
before him, the image of himself as he had been thirty years before.
"Have I been reincarnated in his form?" Casanova asked himself. "But I
must have died before that could happen." It flashed through his mind:
"Have I not been dead for a long time? What is there left of the
Casanova who was young, handsome, and happy?" Amalia broke in upon his
musings. As if from a distance, though she stood close at hand, she
asked him how he had enjoyed his walk. Raising his voice so that all
could hear, he expressed his admiration for the fertile, well-managed
estate.

Meanwhile upon the greensward the maidservant was laying the table for
supper. The two elder girls were "helping." With much fuss and giggling,
they brought out of the house the silver, the wine glasses, and other
requisites.

Gradually the dusk fell; a cool breeze stirred through the garden.
Marcolina went to the table, to put the finishing touches to the work of
the maidservant and the girls. The others wandered about the greensward
and along the alleys. The Marchesa was extremely polite to Casanova. She
said that the story of his remarkable escape from The Leads in Venice
was not unknown to her, but it would be a pleasure to hear it from his
own lips. With a meaning smile she added that she understood him to
have had far more dangerous adventures, which he might perhaps be less
inclined to recount. Casanova rejoined that he had indeed had a number
of lively experiences, but had never made serious acquaintance with that
mode of existence whose meaning and very essence were danger. Although,
many years before, during troublous times, he had for a few months been
a soldier upon the island of Corfu (was there any profession on earth
into which the current of fate had not drifted him?), he had never had
the good fortune to go through a real campaign, such as that which, he
understood, Lieutenant Lorenzi was about to experience--a piece of luck
for which he was inclined to envy the Lieutenant.

"Then you know more than I do, Signor Casanova," said Lorenzi in a
challenging tone. "Indeed, you are better informed than the Colonel
himself, for he has just given me an indefinite extension of leave."

"Is that so?" exclaimed the Marchese, unable to master his rage. He
added spitefully: "Do you know, Lorenzi, we, or rather my wife, had
counted so definitely on your leaving, that we had invited one of our
friends, Baldi the singer, to stay with us next week."

"No matter," rejoined Lorenzi, unperturbed. "Baldi and I are the best of
friends. We shall get on famously together. You think so, don't you?"
he said, turning to the Marchesa with a smile. "You'd better!" said the
Marchesa, laughing gaily.

As she spoke she seated herself at the table, beside Olivo, with Lorenzi
on the other hand. Opposite sat Amalia, between the Marchese and
Casanova. Next to Casanova, at one end of the long, narrow table, was
Marcolina; next to Olivo, at the other end, sat the Abbate. Supper, like
dinner, was a simple but tasteful meal. The two elder girls, Teresina
and Nanetta, waited on the guests, and served the excellent wine grown
on Olivo's hillsides. Both the Marchese and the Abbate paid their thanks
to the young waitresses with playful and somewhat equivocal caresses
which a stricter parent than Olivo would probably have discountenanced.
Amalia seemed to be unaware of all this. She was pale, dejected, and
looked like a woman determined to be old, since her own youth had ceased
to interest her.

"Is this all that remains of my empire?" thought Casanova bitterly,
contemplating her in profile. Yet perhaps it was the illumination which
gave so gloomy a cast to Amalia's features. From the interior of the
house a broad beam of light fell upon the guests. Otherwise the glimmer
in the sky sufficed them. The dark crests of the trees limited the
outlook; Casanova was reminded of the eerie garden in which, late one
evening many years before, he had awaited the coming of his mistress.

"Murano!" he whispered to himself, and trembled. Then he spoke aloud:
"On an island near Venice there is a convent garden where I last set
foot several decades ago. At night, there, the scent is just like this."

"Were you ever a monk?" asked the Marchesa, sportively.

"All but," replied Casanova with a smile, explaining, truthfully enough,
that when he was a lad of fifteen he had been given minor orders by the
archbishop of Venice, but that before attaining full manhood he had
decided to lay aside the cassock.

The Abbate mentioned that there was a nunnery close at hand, and
strongly recommended Casanova to visit the place if he had never seen
it. Olivo heartily endorsed the recommendation, singing the praises
of the picturesque old building, the situation, and the diversified
beauties of the approach.

"The Lady Abbess, Sister Serafina," continued the Abbate, "is an
extremely learned woman, a duchess by birth. She has told me--by letter,
of course, for the inmates are under a vow of perpetual silence--that
she has heard of Marcolina's erudition, and would like to meet her face
to face."

"I hope, Marcolina," said Lorenzi, speaking to her for the first time,
"that you will not attempt to imitate the noble abbess in other respects
as well as learning."

"Why should I?" rejoined Marcolina serenely. "We can maintain our
freedom without vows. Better without than with, for a vow is a form of
coercion."

Casanova was sitting next to her. He did not dare to let his foot touch
hers lightly, or to press his knee against hers. He was certain that
should she for the third time look at him with that expression of horror
and loathing, he would be driven to some act of folly. As the meal
progressed, as the number of emptied glasses grew and the conversation
waxed livelier and more general, Casanova heard, once more as from afar,
Amalia's voice.

"I have spoken to Marcolina."

"You have spoken to her?" A mad hope flamed up in him. "Calm yourself,
Casanova. We did not speak of you, but only of her and her plans for the
future. I say to you again, she will never give herself to any man."

Olivo, who had been drinking freely, suddenly rose, glass in hand, and
delivered himself of a few stumbling phrases concerning the great honor
conferred upon his humble home by the visit of his dear friend, the
Chevalier de Seingalt.

"But where, my dear Olivo, is the Chevalier de Seingalt of whom you
speak?" enquired Lorenzi in his clear, insolent voice.

Casanova's first impulse was to throw the contents of his glass in
Lorenzi's face.

Amalia touched his arm lightly, to restrain him, and said: "Many people
to-day, Chevalier, still know you best by the old and more widely
renowned name of Casanova."

"I was not aware," said Lorenzi, with offensive gravity, "that the King
of France had ennobled Signor Casanova."

"I was able to save the King that trouble," answered Casanova quietly.
"I trust, Lieutenant Lorenzi, that you will be satisfied with an
explanation to which the Burgomaster of Nuremberg offered no objection
when I gave it to him in circumstances with which I need not weary the
company." There was a moment of silent expectation. Casanova continued:
"The alphabet is our common heritage. I chose a collocation of letters
which pleased my taste, and ennobled myself without being indebted to
any prince, who might perhaps have been disinclined to allow my claim.
I style myself Casanova, Chevalier de Seingalt. I am indeed sorry,
Lieutenant Lorenzi, if this name fails to meet with your approval."

"Seingalt! It is a splendid name," said the Abbate, repeating it several
times, as if he were tasting it.

"There is not a man in the world," exclaimed Olivo, "who has a better
right to name himself Chevalier than my distinguished friend Casanova!"

"As for you, Lorenzi," added the Marchese, "when your reputation has
reached as far as that of Signor Casanova, Chevalier de Seingalt, we
shall be willing enough, should you so desire, to give you also the
title of Chevalier."

Casanova, somewhat nettled at not being allowed to fight his own battle,
was about to resume the defence in person, when out of the dusk of the
garden two elderly gentlemen, soberly habited, put in an appearance
beside the table. Olivo greeted them with effusive cordiality, being
delighted to turn the conversation and to put an end to a dispute that
threatened to destroy the harmony of the evening. The newcomers were
the brothers Ricardi. As Casanova had learned from Olivo, they were
old bachelors. At one time members of the great world, they had been
unfortunate in various undertakings. At length they had returned to
their birthplace, the neighboring village, to lead a retired life in
a tiny house they had rented. They were eccentric fellows, but quite
harmless.

The Ricardis expressed their delight at renewing their acquaintance with
the Chevalier, whom, they said, they had met in Paris a good many years
ago.

Casanova could not recall the meeting.

"Perhaps it was in Madrid?" said the Ricardis.

"Maybe," replied Casanova, though he was absolutely certain that he had
never seen either of them before.

The younger of the two was spokesman. The elder, who looked as if he
might be ninety at least, accompanied his brother's words with incessant
nods and grimaces. By now every one had left the table, and before this
the children had disappeared. Lorenzi and the Marchesa were strolling in
the dusk across the greensward. Marcolina and Amalia were in the hall,
setting out the table for cards.

"What is the aim of all this?" said Casanova to himself, as he stood
alone in the garden. "Do they imagine me to be rich? Are they on the
lookout for plunder?"

These preparations, the ingratiating manners of the Marchese, the
sedulous attentions of the Abbate, the appearance of the brothers
Ricardi on the scene, were arousing his suspicions. Was it not possible
that Lorenzi might be a party to the intrigue? Or Marcolina? Or even
Amalia? For a moment it flashed through his mind that his enemies might
be at work upon some scheme of the eleventh hour to make his return to
Venice difficult or impossible. But a moment's reflection convinced
him the notion was absurd--were it only because he no longer had any
enemies. He was merely an old fellow in reduced circumstances. Who was
likely to take any trouble to hinder his return to Venice? Glancing
through the open window, he saw the company assembling round the table,
where the cards lay ready, and the filled wine-glasses were standing.
It seemed to him clear beyond all possibility of doubt that there was
nothing afoot except an ordinary, innocent game of cards, in which the
coming of a new player is always an agreeable change.

Marcolina passed him, and wished him good luck.

"Aren't you going to take a hand?" he said. "At least you will look on?"

"I have something else to do. Good night, Chevalier."

From the interior, voices called out into the night:
"Lorenzi."--"Chevalier."--"We are waiting for you."

Casanova, standing in the darkness, could see that the Marchesa was
leading Lorenzi away from the open greensward into the greater darkness
under the trees. There she would fain have drawn him into her arms, but
Lorenzi roughly tore himself away and strode towards the house. Meeting
Casanova in the entry, he gave him precedence with mock politeness.
Casanova accepted the precedence without a word of thanks.

The Marchese was the first banker. Olivo, the brothers Ricardi, and the
Abbate staked such trifling amounts that to Casanova--even to-day when
his whole worldly wealth consisted of no more than a few ducats--the
game seemed ludicrous. All the more was this the case since the Marchese
raked in his winnings and paid out his losses with a ceremonious air, as
if he were handling enormous sums. Suddenly Lorenzi, who had hitherto
taken no part in the game, staked a ducat, won, let the doubled stake
stand; won again and again, and continued to have the same luck with but
occasional interruptions. The other men, however, went on staking petty
coins, and the two Ricardis in particular seemed quite annoyed if the
Marchese failed to give them as much attention as he gave to Lieutenant
Lorenzi. The two brothers played together upon the same hazard. Beads of
perspiration formed upon the brow of the elder, who handled the cards.
The younger, standing behind his brother, talked unceasingly, with the
air of giving infallible counsel. When the silent brother won, the
loquacious brother's eyes gleamed; but at a loss, he raised despairing
eyes heavenward. The Abbate, impassive for the most part, occasionally
enunciated some scrap of proverbial wisdom. For instance: "Luck and
women cannot be constrained." Or, "The earth is round, and heaven is far
away." At times he looked at Casanova with an air of sly encouragement,
his eyes moving on from Casanova to rest upon Amalia where she sat
beside her husband. It seemed as if his chief concern must be to bring
the erstwhile lovers together once again.

As for Casanova, all he could think of was that Marcolina was in her
room, undressing in leisurely fashion, and that if the window were open
her white skin must be gleaming into the night. Seized with desire so
intense as almost to put him beside himself, he moved to rise from his
place by the Marchese and to leave the room. The Marchese, however,
interpreting this movement as a resolve to take a hand in the game,
said:

"At last! We were sure you would not be content to play the part of
spectator, Chevalier."

The Marchese dealt him a card. Casanova staked all he had on his person,
about ten ducats, which was nearly the whole of his entire wealth.
Without counting the amount, he emptied his purse on the table, hoping
to lose it at a single cast. That would be a sign of luck. He had not
troubled to think precisely what sort of luck it would signify, whether
his speedy return to Venice, or the desired sight of Marcolina's nudity.
Ere he had made up his mind upon this point, the Marchese had lost the
venture. Like Lorenzi, Casanova let the double stake lie; and just as in
Lorenzi's case, fortune stood by him. The Marchese no longer troubled
himself to deal to the others. The silent Ricardi rose somewhat
mortified; the other Ricardi wrung his hands. Then the two withdrew,
dumbfounded, to a corner of the room. The Abbate and Olivo took matters
more phlegmatically. The former ate sweets and repeated his proverbial
tags. The latter watched the turn of the cards with eager attention.

At length the Marchese had lost five hundred ducats to Casanova and
Lorenzi. The Marchesa moved to depart, and looked significantly at the
Lieutenant on her way out of the room. Amalia accompanied her guest. The
Marchesa waddled in a manner that was extremely distasteful to Casanova.
Amalia walked along beside her humbly and deprecatingly.

Now that the Marchese had lost all his ready cash, Casanova became
banker, and, considerably to the Marchese's annoyance, he insisted that
the others should return to the game. The brothers Ricardi eagerly
accepted the invitation. The Abbate shook his head, saying he had had
enough. Olivo played merely because he did not wish to be discourteous
to his distinguished guest.

Lorenzi's luck held. When he had won four hundred ducats in all, he rose
from the table, saying: "To-morrow I shall be happy to give you your
revenge. But now, by your leave, I shall ride home."

"Home!" cried the Marchese with a scornful laugh--he had won back a few
ducats by this time. "That is a strange way to phrase it!" He turned
to the others: "The Lieutenant is staying with me. My wife has already
driven home. I hope you'll have a pleasant time, Lorenzi!"

"You know perfectly well," rejoined Lorenzi imperturbably, "that I shall
ride straight to Mantua, and not to your place, to which you were so
good as to invite me yesterday."

"You can ride to bell for all I care!" said the other.

Lorenzi politely took his leave of the rest of the company, and, to
Casanova's astonishment, departed without making any suitable retort to
the Marchese.

Casanova went on with the game, still winning, so that the Marchese ere
long was several hundred ducats in his debt. "What's the use of it all?"
thought Casanova at first. But by degrees he was once more ensnared by
the lure of the gaming table. "After all," he mused, "this is a lucky
turn of fortune. I shall soon be a thousand to the good, perhaps even
two thousand. The Marchese will not fail to pay his debt. It would be
pleasant to take a modest competence with me to Venice. But why Venice?
Who regains wealth, regains youth. Wealth is everything. At any rate,
I shall now be able to buy her. Whom? The only woman I want.... She
is standing naked at the window.... I am sure she is waiting there,
expecting me to come.... She is standing at the window to drive me mad!"

All the same, with unruffled brow he continued dealing the cards, not
only to the Marchese, but also to Olivo and to the brothers Ricardi. To
the latter from time to time he pushed over a gold piece to which they
had no claim, but which they accepted without comment. The noise of a
trotting horse came from the road. "Lorenzi," thought Casanova. The
hoofbeats echoed for a time from the garden wall, until sound and echo
gradually died away.

At length Casanova's luck turned. The Marchese staked more and more
boldly. By midnight Casanova was as poor as at the beginning; nay,
poorer, for he had lost the few ducats with which he had made his first
venture. Pushing the cards away, he stood up with a smile, saying:
"Thank you, gentlemen, for a pleasant game."

Olivo stretched out both hands towards Casanova. "Dear friend, let us
go on with the game..... You have a hundred and fifty ducats. Have you
forgotten them? Not only a hundred and fifty ducats, but all that I
have, everything, everything." His speech was thick, for he had been
drinking throughout the evening.

Casanova signified his refusal with an exaggerated but courtly gesture.
"Luck and women cannot be constrained," he said, bowing towards the
Abbate, who nodded contentedly and clapped his hands.

"Till to-morrow, then, my dear Chevalier," said the Marchese. "We will
join forces to win the money back from Lieutenant Lorenzi."

The brothers Ricardi insistently demanded that the game should continue.
The Marchese, who was in a jovial mood, opened a bank for them. They
staked the gold pieces which Casanova had allowed them to win. In a
couple of minutes they had lost them all to the Marchese, who declined
to go on playing unless they could produce cash. They wrung their hands.
The elder began to cry like a child. The younger, to comfort his
brother, kissed him on both cheeks. The Marchese enquired whether the
carriage had returned, and the Abbate said he had heard it drive up half
an hour earlier. Thereupon the Marchese offered the Abbate and the two
Ricardis a lift, promising to set them down at their doors. All four
left the house together.

When they had gone, Olivo took Casanova by the arm, and assured his
guest repeatedly, with tears in his voice, that everything in the house
was at Casanova's absolute disposal. They walked past Marcolina's
window. Not merely was the window closed, but the iron grating had
been fastened; within, the window was curtained. There had been times,
thought Casanova, when all these precautions had been unavailing, or had
been without significance. They reëntered the house. Olivo would not be
dissuaded from accompanying the guest up the creaking staircase into the
turret chamber. He embraced Casanova as he bade him good-night.

"To-morrow," he said, "you shall see the nunnery. But sleep as late as
you please. We are not early risers here; anyhow we shall adapt the
hours to your convenience. Good-night!" He closed the door quietly, but
his heavy tread resounded through the house.



CHAPTER FOUR.


The room in which Casanova was now left to his own devices was dimly
lighted by two candles. His gaze roamed successively to the four
windows, looking to the four quarters of heaven. The prospect was much
the same from them all. The landscape had a bluish sheen. He saw broad
plains with no more than trifling elevations, except to the northward
where the mountains were faintly visible. A few isolated houses, farms,
and larger buildings, could be made out. Among these latter was one
which stood higher than the rest. Here there was still a light in one of
the windows, and Casanova imagined it must be the Marchese's mansion.

The furniture of the room was simple. The double bed stood straight out
into the room. The two candles were on a long table. There were a few
chairs, and a chest of drawers bearing a gilt-framed mirror. Everything
was in perfect order, and the valise had been unpacked. On the table,
locked, lay the shabby portfolio containing Casanova's papers. There
were also some books which he was using in his work; writing materials
had been provided.

He did not feel sleepy. Taking his manuscript out of the portfolio, he
reread what he had last written. Since he had broken off in the middle
of a sentence, it was easy for him to continue. He took up the pen,
wrote a phrase or two, then paused.

"To what purpose?" he demanded of himself, as if in a cruel flash of
inner illumination. "Even if I knew that what I am writing, what I am
going to write, would be considered incomparably fine; even if I could
really succeed in annihilating Voltaire, and in making my renown greater
than his--would I not gladly commit these papers to the flames could I
but have Marcolina in my arms? For that boon, should I not be willing to
vow never to set foot in Venice again, even though the Venetians should
wish to escort me back to the city in triumph?"

"Venice!"..... He breathed the word once more. Its splendor captivated
his imagination, and in a moment its old power over him had been
restored. The city of his youth rose before his eyes, enshrined in all
the charms of memory. His heart ached with yearning more intense than
any that he could recall. To renounce the idea of returning home seemed
to him the most incredible of the sacrifices which his destiny might
demand. How could he go on living in this poor and faded world without
the hope, without the certainty, that he was one day to see the beloved
city again? After the years and decades of wanderings and adventures,
after all the happiness and unhappiness he had experienced, after
all the honor and all the shame, after so many triumphs and so many
discomfitures--he must at length find a resting place, must at length
find a home.

Was there any other home for him than Venice? Was there any good fortune
reserved for him other than this, that he should have a home once
more? It was long since in foreign regions he had been able to command
enduring happiness. He could still at times grasp happiness, but for
a moment only; he could no longer hold it fast. His power over his
fellows, over women no less than over men, had vanished. Only where he
evoked memories could his words, his voice, his glance, still conjure;
apart from this, his presence was void of interest. His day was done!

He was willing to admit what he had hitherto been sedulous to conceal
from himself, that even his literary labors, including the polemic
against Voltaire upon which his last hopes reposed, would never secure
any notable success. Here, likewise, he was too late. Had he in youth
but had leisure and patience to devote himself seriously to the work of
the pen, he was confident he could have ranked with the leading members
of the profession of authorship, with the greatest imaginative writers
and philosophers. He was as sure of this as he was sure that, granted
more perseverance and foresight than he actually possessed, he could
have risen to supreme eminence as financier or as diplomat.

But what availed his patience and his foresight, what became of all his
plans in life, when the lure of a new love adventure summoned? Women,
always women. For them he had again and again cast everything to the
winds; sometimes for women who were refined, sometimes for women who
were vulgar; for passionate women and for frigid women; for maidens
and for harlots. All the honors and all the joys in the world had ever
seemed cheap to him in comparison with a successful night upon a new
love quest.

Did he regret what he had lost through his perpetual seeking and
never or ever finding, through this earthly and superearthly flitting
from craving to pleasure and from pleasure back to craving once more?
No, he had no regrets. He had lived such a life as none other before
him; and could he not still live it after his own fashion? Everywhere
there remained women upon his path, even though they might no longer be
quite so crazy about him as of old.

Amalia? He could have her for the asking, at this very hour, in her
drunken husband's bed. The hostess in Mantua; was she not in love with
him, fired with affection and jealousy as if he were a handsome lad?
Perotti's mistress, pockmarked, but a woman with a fine figure? The
very name of Casanova had intoxicated her with its aroma of a thousand
conquests. Had she not implored him to grant her but a single night of
love; and had he not spurned her as one who could still choose where he
pleased?

But Marcolina--such as Marcolina were no longer at his disposal. Had
such as Marcolina ever been at his disposal? Doubtless there were women
of that kind. Perchance he had met more than one such woman before.
Always, however, some more willing than she had been available, and he
had never been the man to waste a day in vain sighing. Since not even
Lorenzi had succeeded with Marcolina, since she had rejected the hand of
this comely officer who was as handsome and as bold as he, Casanova, had
been in youth, Marcolina might well prove to be that wonder of the world
in the existence of which he had hitherto disbelieved--the virtuous
woman.

At this juncture he laughed, so that the walls reëchoed. "The
bungler, the greenhorn!" he exclaimed out loud, as so often in such
self-communings. "He did not know how to make a good use of his
opportunities. Or the Marchesa was hanging round his neck all the time.
Or perhaps he took her as a next-best, when Marcolina, the philosopher,
the woman of learning, proved unattainable!"

Suddenly a thought struck him. "To-morrow I will read her my polemic
against Voltaire. I can think of no one else who would be a competent
critic. I shall convince her. She will admire me. She will say:
'Excellent, Signor Casanova. Your style is that of a most brilliant old
gentleman!' God!.... 'You have positively annihilated Voltaire, you
brilliant senior!'"

He paced the chamber like a beast in a cage, hissing out the words in
his anger. A terrible wrath possessed him, against Marcolina, against
Voltaire, against himself, against the whole world. It was all he could
do to restrain himself from roaring aloud in his rage. At length he
threw himself upon the bed without undressing, and lay with eyes wide
open, looking up at the joists among which spiders' webs were visible,
glistening in the candlelight. Then, as often happened to him after
playing cards late at night, pictures of cards chased one another
swiftly through his brain, until he sank into a dreamless sleep.

His slumber was brief. When he awakened it was to a mysterious silence.
The southern and the eastern windows of the turret chamber were open.
Through them from the garden and the fields entered a complex of sweet
odors. Gradually the silence was broken by the vague noises from near
and from far which usually herald the dawn. Casanova could no longer lie
quiet; a vigorous impulse towards movement gripped him, and lured him
into the open. The song of the birds called to him; the cool breeze of
early morning played upon his brow. Softly he opened the door and moved
cautiously down the stairs. Cunning, from long experience, he was able
to avoid making the old staircase creak. The lower flight, leading to
the ground floor, was of stone. Through the hall, where half-emptied
glasses were still standing on the table, he made his way into the
garden. Since it was impossible to walk silently on the gravel, he
promptly stepped on to the greensward, which now, in the early twilight,
seemed an area of vast proportions. He slipped into the side alley,
from which he could see Marcolina's window. It was closed, barred, and
curtained, just as it had been overnight. Barely fifty paces from the
house, Casanova seated himself upon a stone bench. He heard a cart roll
by on the other side of the wall, and then everything was quiet again. A
fine grey haze was floating over the greensward, giving it the aspect of
a pond with fugitive outlines. Once again Casanova thought of that night
long ago in the convent garden at Murano; he thought of another garden
on another night; he hardly knew what memories he was recalling;
perchance it was a composite reminiscence of a hundred nights, just as
at times a hundred women whom he had loved would fuse in memory into one
figure that loomed enigmatically before his questioning senses. After
all, was not one night just like another? Was not one woman just like
another? Especially when the affair was past and gone? The phrase,
"past and gone," continued to hammer upon his temples, as if destined
henceforth to become the pulse of his forlorn existence.

It seemed to him that something was rattling behind him along the wall.
Or was it only an echo that he heard? Yes, the noise had really come
from the house. Marcolina's window had suddenly been opened, the iron
grating had been pushed back, the curtain drawn. A shadowy form
was visible against the dark interior. Marcolina, clad in a white
nightdress, was standing at the window, as if to breathe the fragrance
of morning. In an instant, Casanova slipped behind the bench. Peeping
over the top of it, through the foliage in the avenue, he watched
Marcolina as if spellbound. She stood unthinking, it seemed, her gaze
vaguely piercing the twilight. Not until several seconds had elapsed did
she appear to collect herself, to grow fully awake and aware, directing
her eyes slowly, now to right and now to left. Then she leaned forward,
as if seeking for something on the gravel, and next she turned her head,
from which her hair was hanging loosely, and looked up towards the
windows in the upper story. Thereafter, she stood motionless for a
while, supporting herself with a hand on either side of the window-frame
as though she were fastened to an invisible cross. Now at length,
suddenly illumined as it were from within, her features grew plain to
Casanova's vision. A smile flitted across her face. Her arms fell to her
sides; her lips moved strangely, as if whispering a prayer; once
more she looked searchingly across the garden, then nodded almost
imperceptibly, and at the instant someone who must hitherto have been
crouching at her feet swung across the sill into the open. It was
Lorenzi. He flew rather than walked across the gravel into the alley,
which he crossed barely ten yards from Casanova, who held his breath
as he lay behind the bench. Lorenzi, hastening on, made his way down a
narrow strip of grass running along the wall, and disappeared from view.
Casanova heard a door groan on its hinges--the very door doubtless
through which he, Olivo, and the Marchese had reëntered the garden
on the previous day--and then all was still. Marcolina had remained
motionless. As soon as she knew that Lorenzi was safely away, she drew a
deep breath, and closed grating and window. The curtain fell back into
its place, and all was as it had been. Except for one thing; for now, as
if there were no longer any reason for delay, day dawned over house and
garden.

Casanova was still lying behind the bench, his arms outstretched before
him. After a while he crept on all fours to the middle of the alley, and
thence onward till he reached a place where he could not be seen from
Marcolina's window or from any of the others. Rising to his feet with an
aching back, he stretched body and limbs, and felt himself restored to
his senses, as though re-transformed from a whipped hound into a human
being--doomed to feel the chastisement, not as bodily pain, but as
profound humiliation.

"Why," he asked himself, "did I not go to the window while it was still
open? Why did I not leap over the sill? Could she have offered any
resistance; would she have dared to do so; hypocrite, liar, strumpet?"

He continued to rail at her as though he had a right to do so, as though
he had been her lover to whom she had plighted troth and whom she had
betrayed. He swore to question her face to face; to denounce her before
Olivo, Amalia, the Marchese, the Abbate, the servants, as nothing better
than a lustful little whore. As if for practice, he recounted to himself
in detail what he had just witnessed, delighting in the invention of
incidents which would degrade her yet further. He would say that she had
stood naked at the window; that she had permitted the unchaste caresses
of her lover while the morning wind played upon them both.

After thus allaying the first vehemence of his anger, he turned
to consider whether he might not make a better use of his present
knowledge. Was she not in his power? Could he not now exact by threats
the favors which she had not been willing to grant him for love? But
this infamous design was speedily abandoned; not so much because
Casanova realized its infamy, as because, even while the plan crossed
his mind, he was aware of its futility. Why should Marcolina,
accountable to no one but herself, be concerned at his threats? In the
last resort she was astute enough, if needs must, to have him driven
from the house as a slanderer and blackmailer. Even if, for one reason
or another, she were willing to give herself to him in order to preserve
the secret of her amours with Lorenzi (he was aware that he was
speculating on something beyond the bounds of possibility), a pleasure
thus extorted would become for him a nameless torment. Casanova
knew himself to be one whose rapture in a love relationship was a
thousandfold greater when conferring pleasure than when receiving it.
Such a victory as he was contemplating would drive him to frenzy and
despair.

Suddenly he found himself at the door in the garden wall. It was locked.
Then Lorenzi had a master-key! But who, it now occurred to him to ask,
had ridden the horse he had heard trotting away after Lorenzi had left
the card table? A servant in waiting for the purpose, obviously.

Involuntarily Casanova smiled his approval. They were worthy of one
another, these two, Marcolina and Lorenzi, the woman philosopher and the
officer. A splendid career lay before them.

"Who will be Marcolina's next lover?" he thought questioningly. "The
professor in Bologna in whose house she lives? Fool, fool! That is
doubtless an old story. Who next? Olivo? The Abbate? Wherefore not? Or
the serving-lad who stood gaping at the door yesterday when we drove up?
She has given herself to all of them. I am sure of it. But Lorenzi does
not know. I have stolen a march on him there."

Yet all the while he was inwardly convinced that Lorenzi was Marcolina's
first lover. Nay, he even suspected that the previous night was the
first on which she had given herself to Lorenzi. Nevertheless, as he
made the circuit in the garden within the wall, he continued to indulge
these spiteful, lascivious fantasies.

At length he reached the hall door, which he had left open. He must
regain the turret chamber unseen and unheard. With all possible caution
he crept upstairs, and sank into the armchair which stood in front
of the table. The loose leaves of the manuscript seemed to have been
awaiting his return. Involuntarily his eyes fell upon the sentence in
the middle of which he had broken off. He read: "Voltaire will doubtless
prove immortal. But this immortality will have been purchased at the
price of his immortal part. Wit has consumed his heart just as doubt has
consumed his soul, and therefore....."

At this moment the morning sun flooded the chamber with red light, so
that the page in his hand glowed. As if vanquished, he laid it on the
table beside the others. Suddenly aware that his lips were dry, he
poured himself a glass of water from the carafe on the table; the drink
was lukewarm and sweetish to the taste. Nauseated, he turned his head
away from the glass, and found himself facing his image in the mirror
upon the chest of drawers. A wan, aging countenance with dishevelled
hair stared back at him. In a self-tormenting mood he allowed the
corners of his mouth to droop as if he were playing the part of
pantaloon on the stage; disarranged his hair yet more wildly; put out
his tongue at his own image in the mirror; croaked a string of inane
invectives against himself; and finally, like a naughty child, blew the
leaves of his manuscript from the table on to the floor.

Then he began to rail against Marcolina again. He loaded her with
obscene epithets. "Do you imagine," he hissed between his teeth, "that
your pleasure will last? You will become fat and wrinkled and old just
like the other women who were young when you were young. You will be an
old woman with flaccid breasts; your hair will be dry and grizzled; you
will be toothless, you will have a bad smell. Last of all you will die.
Perhaps you will die while you are still quite young. You will become a
mass of corruption, food for worms."

To wreak final vengeance upon her, he endeavored to picture her as dead.
He saw her lying in an open coffin, wrapped in a white shroud. But he
was unable to attach to her image any sign of decay, and her unearthly
beauty aroused him to renewed frenzy. Through his closed eyelids he saw
the coffin transform itself into a nuptial bed. Marcolina lay laughing
there with lambent eyes. As if in mockery, with her small, white hands
she unveiled her firm little breasts. But as he stretched forth his
arms towards her, in the moment when he was about to clasp her in his
passionate embrace, the vision faded.



CHAPTER FIVE.


Someone was knocking at the door. Casanova awoke from a heavy sleep to
find Olivo standing before him.

"At your writing so early?"

Casanova promptly collected his wits. "It is my custom," he said, "to
work the first thing in the morning. What time is it?"

"Eight o'clock," answered Olivo. "Breakfast is ready in the garden.
We will start on our drive to the nunnery as early as you please,
Chevalier. How the wind has blown your papers about!"

He stooped to pick up the fallen leaves. Casanova did not interfere. He
had moved to the window, and was looking down upon the breakfast table
which had been set on the greensward in the shade of the house. Amalia,
Marcolina, and the three young girls, dressed in white, were at
breakfast. They called up a good-morning. He had no eyes for anyone but
Marcolina, who smiled at him frankly and in the friendliest fashion.
In her lap was a plateful of early-ripe grapes, which she was eating
deliberately.

Contempt, anger, and hatred vanished from Casanova's heart. All he knew
was that he loved her. Made drunken by the very sight of her, he turned
away from the window to find Olivo on hands and knees still assembling
the scattered pages of manuscript from under the table and chest of
drawers. "Don't trouble any further," he said to his host. "Leave me to
myself for a moment while I get ready for the drive."

"No hurry," answered Olivo, rising, and brushing the dust from his
knees. "We shall easily be home in time for dinner. We want to get back
early, anyhow, for the Marchese would like us to begin cards soon after
our meal. I suppose he wants to leave before sunset."

"It doesn't matter to me what time you begin cards," said Casanova, as
he arranged his manuscript in the portfolio. "Whatever happens, I shall
not take a hand in the game."

"Yes you will," explained Olivo with a decision foreign to his usual
manner. Laying a roll of gold pieces on the table, he continued: "Thus
do I pay my debt, Chevalier. A belated settlement, but it comes from a
grateful heart." Casanova made a gesture of refusal.

"I insist," said Olivo. "If you do not take the money, you will wound
us deeply. Besides, last night Amalia had a dream which will certainly
induce you--but I will let her tell the story herself." He turned and
left the room precipitately.

Casanova counted the money. Yes, there were one hundred and fifty gold
pieces, the very sum that fifteen years earlier he had presented to the
bridegroom, the bride, or the bride's mother--he had forgotten which.

"The best thing I could do," he mused, "would be to pack up the money,
say farewell to Olivo and Amalia, and leave the place at once, if
possible without seeing Marcolina again. Yet when was I ever guided by
reason?--I wonder if news has reached Mantua from Venice? But my good
hostess promised to forward without fail anything that might arrive."

The maid meanwhile had brought a large earthenware pitcher filled with
water freshly drawn from the spring. Casanova sponged himself all over.
Greatly refreshed, he dressed in his best suit, the one he had intended
to wear the previous evening had there been time to change. Now,
however, he was delighted that he would be able to appear before
Marcolina better clad than on the previous day, to present himself in a
new form as it were.

So he sauntered into the garden wearing a coat of grey satin richly
embroidered and trimmed with Spanish lace; a yellow waistcoat; and
knee-breeches of cherry-colored silk. His aspect was that of a man who
was distinguished without being proud. An amiable smile played about his
lips, and his eyes sparkled with the fire of inextinguishable youth. To
his disappointment, he found no one but Olivo, who bade him be seated,
and invited him to fall to upon the modest fare. Casanova's breakfast
consisted of bread, butter, milk, and eggs, followed by peaches and
grapes, which seemed to him the finest he had ever eaten. Now the three
girls came running across the lawn. Casanova kissed them in turn,
bestowing on the thirteen-year-old Teresina such caresses as the Abbate
had been free with on the previous day. Her eyes gleamed in a way with
which Casanova was familiar. He was convinced this meant something more
to her than childish amusement.

Olivo was delighted to see how well the Chevalier got on with the girls.
"Must you really leave us to-morrow morning?" he enquired tentatively.
"This very evening," rejoined Casanova jovially. "You know, my dear
Olivo, I must consider the wishes of the Venetian senators...."

"How have they earned the right to any such consideration from you?"
broke in Olivo. "Let them wait. Stay here for another two days at least;
or, better still, for a week."

Casanova slowly shook his head. He had seized Teresina's hands, and held
her prisoner between his knees. She drew herself gently away, with a
smile no longer that of a child. At this moment Amalia and Marcolina
emerged from the house. Olivo besought them to second his invitation.
But when neither found a word to say on the matter, Casanova's voice and
expression assumed an unduly severe emphasis as he answered: "Quite out
of the question."

On the way through the chestnut avenue to the road, Marcolina asked
Casanova whether he had made satisfactory progress with the polemic.
Olivo had told her that his guest had been at the writing-table since
early morning.

Casanova was half inclined to make an answer that would have been
malicious in its ambiguity, and would have startled his auditor without
betraying himself. Reflecting, however, that premature advances could
do his cause nothing but harm, he held his wit in leash, and civilly
rejoined that he had been content to make a few emendations, the fruit
of his conversation with her yesterday.

Now they all seated themselves in the lumbering carriage. Casanova sat
opposite Marcolina, Olivo opposite Amalia. The vehicle was so roomy
that, notwithstanding the inevitable joltings, the inmates were not
unduly jostled one against the other. Casanova begged Amalia to tell him
her dream. She smiled cordially, almost brightly, no longer displaying
any trace of mortification or resentment.

"In my dream, Casanova, I saw you driving past a white building in a
splendid carriage drawn by six chestnut horses. Or rather, the carriage
pulled up in front of this building, and at first I did not know who was
seated inside. Then you got out. You were wearing a magnificent white
court dress embroidered with gold, so that your appearance was almost
more resplendent than it is to-day." Her tone conveyed a spice of gentle
mockery. "You were wearing, I am sure of it, the thin gold chain you are
wearing to-day, and yet I had never seen it until this morning!" This
chain, with the gold watch and gold snuff-box set with garnets (Casanova
was fingering it as she spoke), were the only trinkets of value still
left to him. "An old man, looking like a beggar, opened the carriage
door. It was Lorenzi. As for you, Casanova, you were young, quite young,
younger even than you seemed to me in those days." She said "in those
days" quite unconcernedly, regardless of the fact that in the train of
these words all her memories came attendant, winging their way like a
flight of birds. "You bowed right and left, although there was not a
soul within sight; then you entered the house. The door slammed to
behind you. I did not know whether the storm had slammed it, or Lorenzi.
So startling was the noise that the horses took fright and galloped away
with the carriage. Then came a clamor from neighboring streets, as if
people were trying to save themselves from being run over; but soon all
was quiet again. Next I saw you at one of the windows. Now I knew it was
a gaming-house. Once more you bowed in all directions, though the whole
time there was no one to be seen. You looked over your shoulder, as if
someone were standing behind you in the room; but I knew that no one was
there. Now, of a sudden, I saw you at another window, in a higher story,
where the same gestures were repeated. Then higher still, and higher,
and yet higher, as if the building were piled story upon story,
interminably. From each window in succession, you bowed towards the
street, and then turned to speak to persons behind you--who were not
really there at all. Lorenzi, meanwhile, kept on running up the stairs,
flight after flight, but was never able to overtake you. He wanted you
because you had forgotten to give him a gratuity....."

"What next?" enquired Casanova, when Amalia paused.

"There was a great deal more, but I have forgotten," said Amalia.

Casanova was disappointed. In such cases, whether he was relating a
dream or giving an account of real incidents, it was his way to
round off the narrative, attempting to convey a meaning. He remarked
discontentedly: "How strangely everything is distorted in dreams. Fancy,
that I should be wealthy; and that Lorenzi should be a beggar, and old!"

"As far as Lorenzi is concerned," interjected Olivo, "there is not much
wealth about him. His father is fairly well off, but no one can say that
of the son."

Casanova had no need to ask questions. He was speedily informed that
it was through the Marchese that they had made the Lieutenant's
acquaintance. The Marchese had brought Lorenzi to the house only a few
weeks before. A man of the Chevalier's wide experience would hardly
need prompting to enlighten him as to the nature of the young officer's
relationship to the Marchesa. After all, if the husband had no
objection, the affair was nobody else's business.

"I think, Olivo," said Casanova, "that you have allowed yourself to be
convinced of the Marchese's complaisance too easily. Did you not notice
his manner towards the young man, the mingling of contempt and ferocity?
I should not like to wager that all will end well."

Marcolina remained impassive. She seemed to pay no attention to this
talk about Lorenzi, but sat with unruffled countenance, and to all
appearance quietly delighting in the landscape. The road led upwards by
a gentle ascent zigzagging through groves of olives and holly trees.
Now they reached a place where the horses had to go more slowly, and
Casanova alighted to stroll beside the carriage. Marcolina talked of
the lovely scenery round Bologna, and of the evening walks she was
in the habit of taking with Professor Morgagni's daughter. She also
mentioned that she was planning a journey to France next year, in
order to make the personal acquaintance of Saugrenue, the celebrated
mathematician at the university of Paris, with whom she had
corresponded. "Perhaps," she said with a smile, "I may look in at Ferney
on the way, in order to learn from Voltaire's own lips how he has
been affected by the polemic of the Chevalier de Seingalt, his most
formidable adversary."

Casanova was walking with a hand on the side of the carriage, close to
Marcolina's arm. Her loose sleeve was touching his fingers. He answered
quietly: "It matters less what M. Voltaire thinks about the matter
than what posterity thinks. A final decision upon the merits of the
controversy must be left to the next generation."

"Do you really think," said Marcolina earnestly, "that final decisions
can be reached in questions of this character?"

"I am surprised that you should ask such a thing, Marcolina. Though your
philosophic views, and (if the term be appropriate) your religious
views, seem to me by no means irrefutable, at least they must be firmly
established in your soul--if you believe that there is a soul."

Marcolina, ignoring the personal animus in Casanova's words, sat looking
skyward over the tree-crests, and tranquilly rejoined: "Ofttimes, and
especially on a day like this"--to Casanova, knowing what he knew, the
words conveyed the thrill of reverence in the newly awakened heart of a
woman--"I feel as if all that people speak of as philosophy and religion
were no more than playing with words. A sport nobler perhaps than
others, nevertheless more unmeaning than them all. Infinity and eternity
will never be within the grasp of our understanding. Our path leads from
birth to death. What else is left for us than to live a life accordant
with the law that each of us bears within--or a life of rebellion
against that law? For rebellion and submissiveness both issue from God."

Olivo looked at his niece with timid admiration, then turned to
contemplate Casanova with some anxiety. Casanova was in search of a
rejoinder which should convince Marcolina that she was in one breath
affirming and denying God, or should prove to her that she was
proclaiming God and the Devil to be the same. He realized, however, that
he had nothing but empty words to set against her feelings, and to-day
words did not come to him readily. His expression showed him to be
somewhat at a loss, and apparently reminded Amalia of the confused
menaces he had uttered on the previous day. So she hastened to remark:
"Marcolina is deeply religious all the same, I can assure you,
Chevalier."

Marcolina smiled.

"We are all religious in our several ways," said Casanova civilly.

Now came a turn in the road, and the nunnery was in sight. The slender
tops of cypresses showed above the encircling wall. At the sound of the
approaching carriage, the great doors had swung open. The porter, an old
man with a flowing white beard, bowed gravely and gave them admittance.
Through the cloisters, between the columns of which they caught glimpses
of an overgrown garden, they advanced towards the main building, from
whose unadorned, grey, and prison-like exterior an unpleasantly cool
air was wafted. Olivo pulled the bellrope; the answering sound was
high-pitched, and died away in a moment. A veiled nun silently appeared,
and ushered the guests into the spacious parlor. It contained merely
a few plain wooden chairs, and the back was cut off by a heavy iron
grating, beyond which nothing could be seen but a vague darkness.

With bitterness in his heart, Casanova recalled the adventure which
still seemed to him the most wonderful of all his experiences. It had
begun in just such surroundings as the present. Before his eyes loomed
the forms of the two inmates of the Murano convent who had been friends
in their love for him. In conjunction they had bestowed upon him hours
of incomparable sweetness. When Olivo, in a whisper, began to speak
of the strict discipline imposed upon this sisterhood--once they were
professed, the nuns must never appear unveiled before a man, and they
were vowed to perpetual silence--a smile flitted across Casanova's face.

The Abbess suddenly emerged from the gloom, and was standing in their
midst. In silence she saluted her guests, and with an exaggerated
reverence of her veiled head acknowledged Casanova's expressions of
gratitude for the admission of himself, a stranger. But when Marcolina
wished to kiss her hand, the Abbess gathered the girl in her arms. Then,
with a wave of the hand inviting them to follow, she led the way through
a small room into a cloister surrounding a quadrangular flower-garden.
In contrast to the outer garden, which had run wild, this inner garden
was tended with especial care. The flower-beds, brilliant in the
sunshine, showed a wonderful play of variegated colors. The warm odors
were almost intoxicating. One, intermingled with the rest, aroused no
responsive echo in Casanova's memory. Puzzled, he was about to say a
word on the subject to Marcolina, when he perceived that the enigmatic,
stimulating fragrance emanated from herself. She had removed her shawl
from her shoulders and was carrying it over her arm. From the opening of
her gown came a perfume at once kindred to that of the thousand flowers
of the garden, and yet unique.

The Abbess, still without a word, conducted the visitors between the
flower-beds upon narrow, winding paths which traversed the garden like
a lovely labyrinth. The graceful ease of her gait showed that she was
enjoying the chance of showing others the motley splendors of her
garden. As if she had determined to make her guests giddy, she moved on
faster and ever faster like the leader of a lively folk-dance. Then,
quite suddenly, so that Casanova seemed to awaken from a confusing
dream, they all found themselves in the parlor once more. On the other
side of the grating, dim figures were moving. It was impossible to
distinguish whether, behind the thick bars, three or five or twenty
veiled women were flitting to and fro like startled ghosts. Indeed, none
but Casanova, with eyes preternaturally acute to pierce the darkness,
could discern that they were human outlines at all.

The Abbess attended her guests to the door, mutely gave them a sign
of farewell, and vanished before they had found time to express their
thanks for her courtesy.

Suddenly, just as they were about to leave the parlor, a woman's voice
near the grating breathed the word "Casanova." Nothing but his name, in
a tone that seemed to him quite unfamiliar. From whom came this breach
of a sacred vow? Was it a woman he had once loved, or a woman he had
never seen before? Did the syllables convey the ecstasy of an unexpected
reencounter, or the pain of something irrecoverably lost; or did it
convey the lamentation that an ardent wish of earlier days had been so
late and so fruitlessly fulfilled? Casanova could not tell. All that he
knew was that his name, which had so often voiced the whispers of tender
affection, the stammerings of passion, the acclamations of happiness,
had to-day for the first time pierced his heart with the full resonance
of love. But, for this very reason, to probe the matter curiously would
have seemed to him ignoble and foolish. The door closed behind the
party, shutting in a secret which he was never to unriddle. Were it not
that the expression on each face had shown timidly and fugitively that
the call to Casanova had reached the ears of all, each might have
fancied himself or herself a prey to illusion. No one uttered a word as
they walked through the cloisters to the great doors. Casanova brought
up the rear, with bowed head, as if on the occasion of some profoundly
affecting farewell.

The porter was waiting. He received his alms. The visitors stepped into
the carriage, and started on the homeward road. Olivo seemed perplexed;
Amalia was distrait. Marcolina, however, was quite unmoved. Too
pointedly, in Casanova's estimation, she attempted to engage Amalia in a
discussion of household affairs, a topic upon which Olivo was compelled
to come to his wife's assistance. Casanova soon joined in the
discussion, which turned upon matters relating to kitchen and cellar. An
expert on these topics, he saw no reason why he should hide his light
under a bushel, and he seized the opportunity of giving a fresh proof
of versatility. Thereupon, Amalia roused herself from her brown study.
After their recent experience--at once incredible and haunting--to all,
and especially to Casanova, there was a certain comfort derivable from
an extremely commonplace atmosphere of mundane life. When the carriage
reached home, where an inviting odor of roast meat and cooking
vegetables assailed their nostrils, Casanova was in the midst of an
appetizing description of a Polish pasty, a description to which even
Marcolina attended with a flattering air of domesticity.



CHAPTER SIX


In a strangely tranquillized, almost happy mood, which was a surprise
to himself, Casanova sat at table with the others, and paid court to
Marcolina in the sportive manner which might seem appropriate from a
distinguished elderly gentleman towards a well-bred young woman of the
burgher class. She accepted his attentions gracefully, in the spirit in
which they appeared to be offered. He found it difficult to believe that
his demure neighbor was the same Marcolina from whose bedroom window he
had seen a young officer emerge, a man who had obviously held her in
his arms but a few moments earlier. It was equally difficult for him to
realize how this tender girl, who was fond of romping on the grass with
other children, could conduct a learned correspondence with Saugrenue,
the renowned mathematician of Paris. Yet simultaneously he derided
himself for the inertness of his imagination. Had he not learned a
thousand times that in the souls of all persons who are truly alive,
discrepant elements, nay, apparently hostile elements, may coexist in
perfect harmony? He himself, who shortly before had been so profoundly
moved, had been desperate, had been ready for evil deeds, was now so
gentle, so kindly, in so merry a mood, that Olivo's little daughters
were shaking their sides with laughter. Nevertheless, as was usual with
him after strong excitement, his appetite was positively ferocious, and
this served to warn him that order was not yet fully restored in his
soul.

With the last course, the maid brought in a despatch which had just
arrived for the Chevalier by special messenger from Mantua. Olivo
noticed that Casanova grew pale. He told the servant to provide the
messenger with refreshment, then turned to his guest.

"Pray don't stand upon ceremony, Chevalier. Read your letter."

"If you will excuse me," answered Casanova. He went to the window and
opened the missive with simulated indifference. It was from Signor
Bragadino, an old friend of the family and a confirmed bachelor, over
eighty years of age, and for the last decade a member of the Supreme
Council. He had shown more interest than other patrons in pressing
Casanova's suit. The letter was beautifully written, although the
characters were a little shaky. It was as follows:

"My dear Casanova:

"I am delighted, at length, to be able to send you news which will, I
hope, be substantially accordant with your wishes. The Supreme Council,
at its last sitting, which took place yesterday evening, did not merely
express its willingness to permit your return to Venice. It went
further. The Council desires that your advent should be as speedy as
possible, since there is an intention to turn to immediate account the
active gratitude which you have foreshadowed in so many of your letters.

"Since Venice has been deprived for so long of the advantage of your
presence, you may perhaps be unaware, my dear Casanova, that quite
recently the internal affairs of our beloved native city have taken a
rather unfavorable trend both politically and morally. Secret societies
have come into existence, directed against the constitution of the
Venetian state, and even, it would seem, aiming at its forcible
overthrow. As might be expected, the members of these societies, persons
whom it would not be too harsh to denominate conspirators, are chiefly
drawn from certain free-thinking, irreligious, and lawless circles. Not
to speak of what goes on in private, we learn that in the public squares
and in coffee houses, the most outrageous, the most treasonable
conversations, take place. But only in exceptional instances has it been
possible to catch the guilty in the act, or to secure definite proof
against the offenders. A few admissions have been enforced by the rack,
but these confessions have proved so untrustworthy that several members
of the Council are of opinion that for the future it would be better to
abstain from methods of investigation which are not only cruel but are
apt to lead us astray. Of course there is no lack of individuals
well-affected towards public order and devoted to the welfare of the
state, individuals who would be delighted to place their services at the
disposal of the government; but most of them are so well known as
stalwart supporters of the existing constitution that when they are
present people are chary in their utterances and are most unlikely to
give vent to treasonable expressions.

"At yesterday's sitting, one of the senators, whom I will not name,
expressed the opinion that a man who had the reputation of being without
moral principle and who was furthermore regarded as a freethinker--in
short, Casanova, such a man as yourself--if recalled to Venice would not
fail to secure prompt and sympathetic welcome in the very circles which
the government regards with such well-grounded suspicion. If he played
his cards well, such a man would soon inspire the most absolute
confidence.

"In my opinion, irresistibly, and as if by the force of a law of nature,
there would gravitate around your person the very elements which the
Supreme Council, in its indefatigable zeal for the state, is most eager
to render harmless and to punish in an exemplary manner. For your
part, my dear Casanova, you would give us an acceptable proof of your
patriotic zeal, and would furnish in addition an infallible sign of your
complete conversion from all those tendencies for which, during your
imprisonment in The Leads, you had to atone by punishment which, though
severe, was not, as you now see for yourself (if we are to believe your
epistolary assurances), altogether unmerited. I mean, should you be
prepared, immediately on your return home, to act in the way previously
suggested, to seek acquaintance with the elements sufficiently specified
above, to introduce yourself to them in the friendliest fashion as
one who cherishes the same tendencies, and to furnish the Senate
with accurate and full reports of everything which might seem to you
suspicious or worthy of note.

"For these services the authorities would offer you, to begin with,
a salary of two hundred and fifty lire per month, apart from special
payments in cases of exceptional importance. I need hardly say that you
would receive in addition, without too close a scrutiny of the items, an
allowance for such expenses as you might incur in the discharge of your
duties (I refer, for instance, to the treating of this individual or of
that, little gifts made to women, and so on).

"I do not attempt to conceal from myself that you may have to fight down
certain scruples before you will feel inclined to fulfil our wishes.
Permit me, however, as your old and sincere friend (who was himself
young once), to remind you that it can never be regarded as dishonorable
for a man to perform any services that may be essential for the safety
of his beloved fatherland--even if, to a shallow-minded and unpatriotic
citizen, such services might seem to be of an unworthy character.
Let me add, Casanova, that your knowledge of human nature will certainly
enable you to draw a distinction between levity and criminality, to
differentiate the jester from the heretic. Thus it will be within your
power, in appropriate cases, to temper justice with mercy, and to
deliver up to punishment those only who, in your honest opinion, may
deserve it.

"Above all I would ask you to consider that, should you reject the
gracious proposal of the Supreme Council, the fulfilment of your dearest
wish--your return to Venice--is likely to be postponed for a long and I
fear for an indefinite period; and that I myself, if I may allude to the
matter, as an old man of eighty-one, should be compelled in all human
probability to renounce the pleasing prospect of ever seeing you again
in this life.

"Since, for obvious reasons, your appointment will be of a confidential
and not of a public nature, I beg you to address to me personally your
reply, for which I make myself responsible, and which I wish to present
to the Council at its next sitting a week hence. Act with all convenient
speed, for, as I have previously explained, we are daily receiving
offers from thoroughly trustworthy persons who, from patriotic
motives, voluntarily place themselves at the disposal of the Supreme
Council. Nevertheless, there is hardly one among them who can compare
with you, my dear Casanova, in respect of experience or intelligence.
If, in addition to all the arguments I have adduced, you take my
personal feelings into account, I find it difficult to doubt that you
will gladly respond to the call which now reaches you from so exalted
and so friendly a source.

"Till then, receive the assurances of my undying friendship.

"BRAGADINO."

"Postscript. Immediately upon receipt of your acceptance, it will be a
pleasure to me to send you a remittance of two hundred lire through the
banking firm of Valori in Mantua. The sum is to defray the cost of your
journey.

"B."

       *       *       *       *       *

Long after Casanova had finished reading the letter, he stood holding
the paper so as to conceal the deathly pallor of his countenance. From
the dining-table came a continuous noise, the rattle of plates and the
clinking of glasses; but conversation had entirely ceased. At length
Amalia ventured to say: "The food is getting cold, Chevalier; won't
you go on with your meal?"

"You must excuse me," replied Casanova, letting his face be seen once
more, for by now, owing to his extraordinary self-control, he had
regained outward composure. "I have just received the best possible news
from Venice, and I must reply instantly. With your leave, I will go to
my room."

"Suit yourself, Chevalier," said Olivo. "But do not forget that our card
party begins in an hour."

In the turret chamber Casanova sank into a chair. A chill sweat broke
out over his body; he shivered as if in the cold stage of a fever; he
was seized with such nausea that he felt as if he were about to choke.
For a time he was unable to think clearly, and he could do no more than
devote his energies to the task of self-restraint without quite knowing
why he did so. But there was no one in the house upon whom he could vent
his fury; and he could not fail to realize the utter absurdity of a
half-formed idea that Marcolina must be in some way contributory to the
intolerable shame which had been put upon him.

As soon as he was in some degree once more master of himself, his first
thought was to take revenge upon the scoundrels who had believed that he
could be hired as a police spy. He would return to Venice in disguise,
and would exert all his cunning to compass the death of these
wretches--or at least of whomever it was that had conceived the
despicable design.

Was Bragadino the prime culprit? Why not? An old man so lost to all
sense of shame that he had dared to write such a letter to Casanova; a
dotard who could actually believe that Casanova, whom he had personally
known, would set his hand to this ignominious task. He no longer knew
Casanova! Nor did anyone know him, in Venice or elsewhere. But people
should learn to know him once more.

It was true that he was no longer young enough or handsome enough to
seduce an honest girl. Nor did he now possess the skill and the agility
requisite for an escape from prison, or for gymnastic feats upon the
roof-tops. But in spite of his age, he was cleverer than anyone else!
Once back in Venice, he could do anything he pleased. The first step,
the essential step, was to get back. Perhaps it would not be necessary
to kill anyone. There were other kinds of revenge, grimmer, more
devilish, than a commonplace murder. If he were to feign acceptance of
the Council's proposal, it would be the easiest thing in the world to
compass the destruction of those whom he wished to destroy, instead of
bringing about the ruin of those whom the authorities had in mind, and
who were doubtless the finest fellows among all the inhabitants of
Venice! Monstrous! Because they were the enemies of this infamous
government, because they were reputed heretics, were they to languish in
The Leads where he had languished twenty-five years ago, or were they to
perish under the executioner's axe? He detested the government a hundred
times more than they did, and with better reason. He had been a lifelong
heretic; was a heretic to-day, upon sincerer conviction than them all.
What a queer comedy he had been playing of late years--simply from
tedium and disgust. He to believe in God? What sort of a God was it who
was gracious only to the young, and left the old in the lurch? A God
who, when the fancy took him, became a devil; who transformed wealth
into poverty, fortune into misfortune, happiness into despair. "You play
with us--and we are to worship you? To doubt your existence is the only
resource left open to us if we are not to blaspheme you! You do not
exist; for if you did exist, I should curse you!"

Shaking his clenched fists heavenward, he rose to his feet.
Involuntarily, a detested name rose to his lips. Voltaire! Yes, now he
was in the right mood to finish his polemic against the sage of Ferney.
To finish it? No, now was the time to begin it. A new one! A different
one! One in which the ridiculous old fool should be shown up as he
deserved: for his pusillanimity, his half-heartedness, his subservience.
He an unbeliever? A man of whom the latest news was that he was on
excellent terms with the priests, that he visited church, and on feast
days actually went to confession! He a heretic? He was a chatterbox, a
boastful coward, nothing more! But the day of reckoning was at hand,
and soon there would be nothing left of the great philosopher but a
quill-driving buffoon.

What airs he had given himself, this worthy M. Voltaire! "My dear M.
Casanova, I am really vexed with you. What concern have I with the works
of Merlin? It is your fault that I have wasted four hours over such
nonsense."

All a matter of taste, excellent M. Voltaire! People will continue to
read Merlin long after _La Pucelle_ has been forgotten. Possibly they
will continue to prize my sonnets, the sonnets you returned to me with
a shameless smile, and without saying a word about them. But these
are trifles. Do not let us spoil a great opportunity because of our
sensitiveness as authors. We are concerned with philosophy--with God! We
shall cross swords, M. Voltaire, unless you die before I have a chance
to deal with you.

He was already in the mind to begin his new polemic, when it occurred to
him that the messenger was waiting for an answer. He hastily indited
a letter to the old duffer Bragadino, a letter full of hypocritical
humility and simulated delight. With joy and gratitude he accepted the
pardon of the Council. He would expect the remittance by return of post,
so that with all possible speed he might present himself before his
patrons, and above all before the honored old family friend, Bragadino.

When he was in the act of sealing the letter, someone knocked gently at
the door. At the word, Olivo's eldest daughter, the thirteen-year-old
Teresina, entered, to tell him that the whole company was assembled
below, and that the Chevalier was impatiently awaited at the card
table. Her eyes gleamed strangely; her cheeks were flushed; her thick,
black hair lay loose upon her temples; her little mouth was half open.

"Have you been drinking wine, Teresina?" asked Casanova striding towards
her.

"Yes. How did you know?" She blushed deeper, and in her embarrassment
she moistened her lips with her tongue.

Casanova seized her by the shoulders, and, breathing in her face, drew
her to the bed. She looked at him with great helpless eyes in which
the light was now extinguished. But when she opened her mouth as if to
scream, Casanova's aspect was so menacing that she was almost paralyzed
with fear, and let him do whatever he pleased.

He kissed her with a tender fierceness, whispering: "You must not tell
the Abbate anything about this, Teresina, not even in confession. Some
day, when you have a lover or a husband, there is no reason why he
should know anything about it. You should always keep your own counsel.
Never tell the truth to your father, your mother, or your sisters, that
it may be well with you on earth. Mark my words." As he spoke thus
blasphemously, Teresina seemed to regard his utterance as a pious
admonition, for she seized his hand and kissed it reverently as if it
had been a priest's.

He laughed. "Come," he said, "come, little wife, we will walk arm in arm
into the room downstairs!"

She seemed a little coy at first, but smiled with genuine gratification.

It was high time for them to go down, for they met Olivo coming up. He
was flushed and wore a frown, so that Casanova promptly inferred that
the Marchese or the Abbate had roused his suspicions by some coarse jest
concerning Teresina's prolonged absence. His brow cleared when he beheld
Casanova on the threshold, standing arm in arm with the girl as if in
sport.

"I'm sorry to have kept you all waiting, Olivo," said Casanova. "I had
to finish my letter." He held the missive out to Olivo in proof of his
words.

"Take it," said Olivo to Teresina, smoothing her rumpled hair. "Hand it
to the messenger."

"Here are two gold pieces for the man," added Casanova. "He must bestir
himself, so that the letter may leave Mantua for Venice to-day. And ask
him to tell my hostess at the inn that I shall return this evening."

"This evening?" exclaimed Olivo. "Impossible!"

"Oh, well, we'll see," observed Casanova affably. "Here, Teresina, take
this, a gold piece for yourself." When Olivo demurred, Casanova added:
"Put it in your moneybox, Teresina. That letter is worth any amount of
gold pieces!"

Teresina tripped away, and Casanova nodded to himself contentedly. In
days gone by he had possessed the girl's mother and grandmother also,
and he thought it a particularly good joke that he was paying the little
wench for her favors under the very eyes of her father.



CHAPTER SEVEN.


When Casanova entered the hall with Olivo, cards had already begun. He
acknowledged with serene dignity the effusive greeting of the company,
and took his place opposite the Marchese, who was banker. The windows
into the garden were open. Casanova heard voices outside; Marcolina
and Amalia strolled by, glanced into the room for a moment, and then
disappeared.

While the Marchese was dealing, Lorenzi turned to Casanova with
ceremonious politeness, saying: "My compliments, Chevalier. You were
better informed than I. My regiment is under orders to march tomorrow
afternoon."

The Marchese looked surprised. "Why did you not tell us sooner,
Lorenzi?"

"The matter did not seem of such supreme importance."

"It is of no great importance to me," said the Marchese. "But don't
you think it is of considerable importance to my wife?" He laughed
raucously. "As a matter of fact, I have some interest in the matter
myself. You won four hundred ducats from me yesterday, and there is not
much time left in which to win them back."

"The Lieutenant won money from us too," said the younger Ricardi. The
elder, silent as usual, looked over his shoulder at his brother, who
stood behind the elder's chair as on the previous day.

"Luck and women....." began the Abbate.

The Marchese finished the sentence for him: ".....cannot be
constrained."

Lorenzi carelessly scattered his gold on the table. "There you are. I
will stake it all upon a single card, if you like, Marchese, so that you
need not wait for your money."

Casanova suddenly became aware of a feeling of compassion for Lorenzi,
a feeling he was puzzled to account for. But he believed himself to be
endowed with second-sight, and he had a premonition that the Lieutenant
would fall in his first encounter.

The Marchese did not accept the suggestion of high stakes, nor did
Lorenzi insist. They resumed the game, therefore, much as on the
previous night, everyone taking a hand at first, and only moderate sums
being ventured. A quarter of an hour later, however, the stakes began
to rise, and ere long Lorenzi had lost his four hundred ducats to the
Marchese.

Casanova had no constancy either in luck or ill-luck. He won, lost, and
won again, in an almost ludicrously regular alternation.

Lorenzi drew a breath of relief when his last gold piece had gone
the way of the others. Rising from the table, he said: "I thank you,
gentlemen. This," he hesitated for a moment, "this will prove to have
been my last game for a long time in your hospitable house. If you will
allow me, Signor Olivo, I will take leave of the ladies before
riding into town. I must reach Mantua ere nightfall in order to make
preparations for to-morrow."

"Shameless liar," thought Casanova. "You will return here to-night, to
Marcolina's arms!" Rage flamed up in him anew.

"What!" exclaimed the Marchese maliciously. "The evening will not come
for hours. Is the game to stop so early? If you like, Lorenzi, my
coachman shall drive home with a message to the Marchesa to let her know
that you will be late."

"I am going to ride to Mantua," rejoined Lorenzi impatiently. The
Marchese, ignoring this statement, went on: "There is still plenty of
time. Put up some of your own money, if it be but a single gold piece."
He dealt Lorenzi a card.

"I have not a single gold piece left," said Lorenzi wearily.

"Really?"

"Not one," asserted Lorenzi, as if tired of the whole matter.

"Never mind," said the Marchese, with a sudden assumption of amiability
which was far from congenial. "I will trust you as far as ten ducats
goes, or even for a larger sum if needs must."

"All right, a ducat, then," said Lorenzi, taking up the card dealt to
him.

The Marchese won. Lorenzi went on with the game, as if this were now a
matter of course, and was soon in the Marchese's debt to the amount of
one hundred ducats.

At this stage Casanova became banker, and had even better luck than the
Marchese. There remained only three players. To-day the brothers
Ricardi stood aside without complaint. Olivo and the Abbate were merely
interested onlookers.

No one uttered a syllable. Only the cards spoke, and they spoke in
unmistakable terms. By the hazard of fortune all the cash found its way
to Casanova. In an hour he had won two thousand ducats; he had won them
from Lorenzi, though they came out of the pockets of the Marchese, who
at length sat there without a soldo.

Casanova offered him whatever gold pieces he might need. The Marchese
shook his head. "Thanks," he said, "I have had enough. The game is over
as far as I am concerned."

From the garden came the laughing voices of the girls. Casanova heard
Teresina's voice in particular, but he was sitting with his back to
the window and did not turn round. He tried once more to persuade the
Marchese to resume the game--for the sake of Lorenzi, though he hardly
knew what moved him. The Marchese refused with a yet more decisive
headshake.

Lorenzi rose, saying: "I shall have the honor, Signor Marchese, of
handing the amount I owe you to you personally, before noon to-morrow."

The Marchese laughed drily. "I am curious to know how you will manage
that, Lieutenant Lorenzi. There is not a soul, in Mantua or elsewhere,
who would lend you as much as ten ducats, not to speak of two thousand,
especially to-day. For to-morrow you will be on the march, and who can
tell whether you will ever return?"

"I give you my word of honor, Signor Marchese, that you shall have the
money at eight o'clock to-morrow morning."

"Your word of honor," said the Marchese, "is not worth a single ducat to
me, let alone two thousand."

The others held their breath. Lorenzi, apparently unmoved, merely
answered: "You will give me satisfaction, Signor Marchese."

"With pleasure, Signor Lieutenant," rejoined the Marchese, "as soon as
you have paid your debt."

Olivo, who was profoundly distressed, here intervened, stammering
slightly: "I stand surety for the amount, Signor Marchese. Unfortunately
I have not sufficient ready money on the spot; but there is the house,
the estate....." He closed the sentence with an awkward wave of the
hand.

"I refuse to accept your surety, for your own sake," said the Marchese.
"You would lose your money."

Casanova saw that all eyes were turned towards the gold that lay on
the table before him. "What if I were to stand surety for Lorenzi," he
thought. "What if I were to pay the debt for him? The Marchese could not
refuse my offer. I almost think I ought to do it. It was the Marchese's
money."

But he said not a word. He felt that a plan was taking shape hi his
mind, and that above all he needed time in which he might become clear
as to its details.

"You shall have the money this evening, before nightfall," said Lorenzi.
"I shall be in Mantua in an hour."

"Your horse may break its neck," replied the Marchese. "You too;
intentionally, perhaps."

"Anyhow," said the Abbate indignantly, "the Lieutenant cannot get the
money here by magic."

The two Ricardis laughed; but instantly restrained their mirth.

Olivo once more addressed the Marchese. "It is plain that you must grant
Lieutenant Lorenzi leave to depart."

"Yes, if he gives me a pledge," exclaimed the Marchese with flashing
eyes, as if this idea gave him peculiar delight.

"That seems rather a good plan," said Casanova, a little
absent-mindedly, for his scheme was ripening.

Lorenzi drew a ring from his finger and flicked it across the table.

The Marchese took it up, saying: "That is good for a thousand."

"What about this one?" Lorenzi threw down another ring in front of the
Marchese.

The latter nodded, saying: "That is good for the same amount."

"Are you satisfied now, Signor Marchese?" enquired Lorenzi, moving as if
to go.

"I am satisfied," answered the Marchese, with an evil chuckle; "all the
more, seeing that the rings are stolen."

Lorenzi turned sharply, clenching his fist as if about to strike the
Marchese. Olivo and the Abbate seized Lorenzi's arm.

"I know both the stones, though they have been reset," said the Marchese
without moving from his place. "Look, gentlemen, the emerald is slightly
flawed, or it would be worth ten times the amount. The ruby is flawless,
but it is not a large one. Both the stones come from a set of jewels
which I once gave my wife. And, since it is quite impossible for me
to suppose that the Marchesa had them reset in rings for Lieutenant
Lorenzi, it is obvious that they have been stolen--that the whole set
has been stolen. Well, well, the pledge suffices, Signor Lieutenant, for
the nonce."

"Lorenzi!" cried Olivo, "we all give you our word that no one shall ever
hear a syllable from us about what has just happened."

"And whatever Signor Lorenzi may have done," said Casanova, "you, Signor
Marchese, are the greater rascal of the two."

"I hope so," replied the Marchese. "When anyone is as old as we
are, Chevalier de Seingalt, assuredly he should not need lessons in
rascality. Good-evening, gentlemen."

He rose to his feet. No one responded to his farewell, and he went out.

For a space the silence was so intense, that once again the girls'
laughter was heard from the garden, now seeming unduly loud.

Who would have ventured to utter the word that was searing Lorenzi's
soul, as he stood at the table with his arm still raised? Casanova, the
only one of the company who had remained seated, derived an involuntary
artistic pleasure from the contemplation of this fine, threatening
gesture, meaningless now, but seemingly petrified, as if the young man
had been transformed into a statue.

At length Olivo turned to him with a soothing air; the Ricardis, too,
drew near; and the Abbate appeared to be working himself up for a
speech. But a sort of shiver passed over Lorenzi's frame. Automatically
but insistently he silently indicated his rejection of any offers at
intervention. Then, with a polite inclination of the head, he quietly
left the room.

Casanova, who had meanwhile wrapped up the money in a silken kerchief,
instantly followed. Without looking at the others' faces, he could feel
that they were convinced it was his instant intention to do what they
had all the while been expecting, namely, to place his winnings at
Lorenzi's disposal.



CHAPTER EIGHT.


Casanova overtook Lorenzi in the chestnut avenue. Speaking lightly,
he said: "May I have the pleasure of accompanying you on your walk,
Lieutenant Lorenzi?"

Lorenzi, without looking at him, answered in an arrogant tone which
seemed hardly in keeping with his situation: "As you please, Chevalier;
but I am afraid you will not find me an amusing companion."

"Perhaps, Lieutenant, you will on the other hand find me an entertaining
companion. If you have no objection, let us take the path through the
vineyard, where our conversation will be undisturbed."

They turned aside from the high-road into the narrow footway running
beside the garden wall, along which Casanova had walked with Olivo on
the previous day.

"You are right in supposing," began Casanova, "that I have it in mind to
offer you the sum of money which you owe to the Marchese. Not as a loan.
That, if you will excuse my saying so, seems to me rather too risky a
venture. I could let you have it as a slight return for a service which
I think you may be able to do me."

"Go on," said Lorenzi coldly.

"Before I say any more," answered Casanova, in a similar tone, "I must
make a condition upon your acceptance of which the continuance of this
conversation depends."

"Name your condition."

"Give me your word of honor that you will listen to me without
interruption, even though what I have to say may arouse your displeasure
or your wrath. When you have heard me to the end, it will rest entirely
with yourself whether you accept a proposal which, I am well aware,
is of an extremely unusual nature. But I want you to answer it with
a simple Yes or No. Whatever the issue, no one is to hear a word
concerning what passes at this interview between two men of honor, who
are perhaps no better than they should be."

"I am ready to listen to your proposal."

"You accept my condition?"

"I will not interrupt you."

"And you will answer nothing beyond Yes or No?"

"Nothing beyond Yes or No."

"Very well," said Casanova. They walked slowly up the hill, between the
vine stocks, in the sultry heat of the late afternoon. Casanova began to
speak: "We shall perhaps understand one another best if we discuss the
matter logically. It is obvious that you have absolutely no chance of
obtaining the money you owe the Marchese within the prescribed time.
There can be no doubt that he has made up his mind to ruin you should
you fail to pay. Since he knows more of you than he actually disclosed
to us to-day"--Casanova was venturing beyond the limits of his own
knowledge, but he loved to take these little risks when following up a
path decided on in advance--"you are absolutely in the power of the old
ruffian, and your fate as an officer and a gentleman would be sealed.
There you have one side of the question. On the other hand, you will be
saved as soon as you have paid your debt, and as soon as you get back
those rings--however you may have come by them. This will mean the
recovery of an existence which is otherwise practically closed. Since
you are young, handsome, and bold, it will mean the recovery of an
existence which offers splendor, happiness, and renown. This appears
to me a most attractive prospect; especially seeing that the only
alternative is an inglorious, nay, a shameful ruin; for such a prospect,
I should be willing to sacrifice a prejudice which I had never really
possessed. I am well aware, Lorenzi," he added quickly, as if expecting
contradiction and desiring to forestall it, "I am well aware, that you
have no more prejudices than I have or ever had. What I am going to ask
of you is merely what I should in your place under like circumstances
be willing to do, without a moment's hesitation. Indeed, I have never
hesitated, at the call of destiny or as the outcome of caprice, to
commit a rascality, or rather, that to which fools give such a name.
Like you, Lorenzi, I have ever been ready to hazard my life for less
than nothing, and to call it quits. I am ready to do so now, if my
proposal prove inacceptable. We are made of the same stuff, you and I;
we are brothers in spirit; we may therefore disclose our souls to one
another without false shame, proud in our nakedness. Here are my two
thousand ducats. Call them yours, if you enable me to spend to-night
in your place with Marcolina.--Let us not stand still, if you please,
Lorenzi. Let us continue our walk." They walked through the fields,
beneath the fruit trees, between which the vines, heavy with
grape-clusters, were trellised. Casanova went on without a pause: "Don't
answer me yet, Lorenzi, for I have not finished. My request would
naturally be, if not monstrous, at least preposterous, if it were your
intention to make Marcolina your wife, or if Marcolina's own hopes or
wishes turned in this direction. But just as last night was your first
night spent in love together"--he uttered this guess as if he had
absolute knowledge of the fact--"so also was the ensuing night
predestined, according to all human calculation, according to your own
expectations and Marcolina's, to be your last night together for a long
period and probably for ever. I am absolutely convinced that Marcolina
herself, in order to save her lover from certain destruction, and simply
upon his wish, would be perfectly willing to give this one night to his
savior. For she, too, is a philosopher, and is therefore just as free
from prejudices as we are. Nevertheless, certain as I am that she would
meet the test, I am far from intending that it should be imposed upon
her. To possess a woman outwardly passive but inwardly resistant, would
be far from satisfying my desires, least of all in the present case. I
wish, not merely as a lover, but also as one beloved, to taste a rapture
which I should be prepared to pay for with my life. Understand this
clearly, Lorenzi. For the reason I have explained, Marcolina must not
for an instant suspect that I am the man whom she is clasping to her
sweet bosom; she must be firmly convinced that you are in her arms. It
is your part to pave the way for this deception; mine to maintain it.
You will not have much difficulty in making her understand that you will
have to leave her before dawn. Nor need you be at a loss for a pretext
as to the necessity for perfectly mute caresses when you return at
night, as you will promise to return. To avert all danger of discovery
at the last moment, I shall, when the time comes for me to leave, act as
if I heard a suspicious noise outside the window. Seizing my cloak,--or
rather yours, which you must of course lend me for the occasion--I shall
vanish through the window, never to return. For, of course, I shall take
my leave this evening. But half-way back to Mantua, telling the coachman
that I have forgotten some important papers, I shall return here on
foot. Entering the garden by the side door (you must give me the
master-key), I shall creep to Marcolina's window, which must be
opened for me at midnight. I shall have taken off my clothes in the
carriage, even to my shoes and stockings, and shall wear only your
cloak, so that when I take to flight nothing will be left to betray
either you or me. The cloak and the two thousand ducats will be at your
disposal at five o'clock to-morrow morning in the inn at Mantua, so that
you may deliver over the money to the Marchese even before the appointed
hour. I pledge my solemn oath to fulfil my side of the bargain. I have
finished."

Suddenly he stood still. The sun was near to setting. A gentle breeze
made the yellow ears rustle; the tower of Olivo's house glowed red in
the evening light. Lorenzi, too, halted. His pale face was motionless,
as he gazed into vacancy over Casanova's shoulder. His arms hung limp by
his sides, whereas Casanova's hand, ready for any emergency, rested as
if by chance upon the hilt of his sword. A few seconds elapsed, and
Lorenzi was still silent. He seemed immersed in tranquil thought, but
Casanova remained on the alert, holding the kerchief with the ducats in
his left hand, but keeping the right upon his sword-hilt. He spoke once
more.

"You have honorably fulfilled my conditions. I know that it has not been
easy. For even though we may be free from prejudices, the atmosphere
in which we live is so full of them that we cannot wholly escape their
influence. And just as you, Lorenzi, during the last quarter of an hour,
have more than once been on the point of seizing me by the throat; so I,
I must confess, played for a time with the idea of giving you the
two thousand ducats as to my friend. Rarely, Lorenzi, have I been so
strangely drawn to anyone as I was to you from the first. But had
I yielded to this generous impulse, the next moment I should have
regretted it bitterly. In like manner you, Lorenzi, hi the moment before
you blow your brains out, would desperately regret having been such a
fool as to throw away a thousand nights of love with new and ever new
women for one single night of love which neither night nor day was to
follow."

Lorenzi remained mute. His silence continued for many minutes, until
Casanova began to ask himself how long his patience was to be tried.
He was on the point of departing with a curt salutation, and of thus
indicating that he understood his proposition to have been rejected,
when Lorenzi, without a word slowly moved his right hand backwards into
the tail-pocket of his coat. Casanova, ever on his guard, instantly
stepped back a pace, and was ready to duck. Lorenzi handed him the key
of the garden door.

Casanova's movement, which had certainly betokened fear, brought to
Lorenzi's lips the flicker of a contemptuous smile. Casanova was able to
repress all sign of his rising anger, for he knew that had he given way
to it he might have ruined his design. Taking the key with a nod, he
merely said: "No doubt that means Yes. In an hour from now--an hour will
suffice for your understanding with Marcolina--I shall expect you in
the turret chamber. There, in exchange for your cloak, I shall have the
pleasure of handing you the two thousand gold pieces without further
delay. First of all, as a token of confidence; and secondly because I
really do not know what I should do with the money during the night."

They parted without further formality. Lorenzi returned to the house by
the path along which they had both come. Casanova made his way to the
village by a different route. At the inn there, by paying a considerable
sum as earnest money, he was able to arrange for a carriage to await
him at ten o'clock that evening for the drive from Olivo's house into
Mantua.



CHAPTER NINE.


Returning to the house, Casanova disposed of his gold in a safe corner
of the turret chamber. Thence he descended to the garden, where a
spectacle awaited him, not in itself remarkable, but one which touched
him strangely in his present mood. Upon a bench at the edge of the
greensward Olivo was sitting beside Amalia, his arm round her waist.
Reclining at their feet were the three girls, tired out by the
afternoon's play. Maria, the youngest, had her head in her mother's lap,
and seemed to be asleep; Nanetta lay at full length on the grass with
her head pillowed on her arm; Teresina was leaning against her father's
knee, and he was stroking her hair. As Casanova drew near, Teresina
greeted him, not with the look of lascivious understanding which he had
involuntarily expected, but with a frank smile of childlike confidence,
as if what had passed between them only a few hours before had been
nothing more than some trivial pastime. Olivo's face lighted up in
friendly fashion, and Amalia nodded a cordial greeting. It was plain to
Casanova that they were receiving him as one who had just performed a
generous deed, but who would prefer, from a sense of refinement, that no
allusion should be made to the matter.

"Are you really determined to leave us tomorrow, Chevalier?" enquired
Olivo.

"Not to-morrow," answered Casanova, "but, as I told you, this very
evening."

Olivo would fain have renewed his protests, but Casanova shrugged,
saying in a tone of regret: "Unfortunately, my letter from Venice leaves
me no option. The summons sent to me is so honorable in every respect
that to delay my return home would be an unpardonable affront to my
distinguished patrons." He asked his host and hostess to excuse him for
a brief space. He would go to his room, make all ready for departure,
and would then be able to enjoy the last hours of his stay undisturbed
in his dear friends' company.

Disregarding further entreaties, he went to the turret chamber, and
first of all changed his attire, since the simpler suit must suffice
for the journey. He then packed his valise, and listened for Lorenzi's
footsteps with an interest which grew keener from moment to moment.
Before the time was up, Lorenzi, knocking once at the door, entered,
wearing a dark blue riding-cloak. Without a word, he slipped the cloak
from his shoulders and let it fall to the floor, where it lay between
the two men, a shapeless mass of cloth. Casanova withdrew his kerchief
filled with the gold pieces from beneath the bolster, and emptied the
money on the table. He counted the coins under Lorenzi's eyes--a process
which was soon over, for many of the gold pieces were worth several
ducats each. Putting the stipulated sum into two purses, he handed
these to Lorenzi. This left about a hundred ducats for himself. Lorenzi
stuffed the purses into his tail-pockets, and was about to leave, still
silent.

"Wait a moment, Lorenzi," said Casanova. "Our paths in life may cross
once again. If so let us meet as friends. We have made a bargain like
many another bargain; let us cry quits."

Casanova held out his hand. Lorenzi would not take it. He spoke for the
first time. "I cannot recall that anything was said about this in our
agreement." Turning on his heel he left the room. "Do we stand so
strictly upon the letter, my friend?" thought Casanova. "It behooves me
all the more to see to it that I am not duped in the end." In truth, he
had given no serious thought to this possibility. He knew from personal
experience that such men as Lorenzi have their own peculiar code of
honor, a code which cannot be written in formal propositions, but which
they can be relied upon to observe.

He packed Lorenzi's cloak in the top of the valise. Having stowed away
upon his person the remaining gold pieces, he took a final glance round
the room which he was never likely to revisit. Then with sword and hat,
ready for the journey, he made his way to the hall, where he found
Olivo, Amalia, and the children already seated at table. At the same
instant, Marcolina entered by the garden door. The coincidence was
interpreted by Casanova as a propitious sign. She answered his
salutation with a frank inclination of the head.

Supper was now served. The conversation dragged a little at first, as if
all were oppressed by the thought of the imminent leave-taking. Amalia
seemed busied with her girls, concerned to see that they were not helped
to too much or too little. Olivo, somewhat irrelevantly, began to speak
of a trifling lawsuit he had just won against a neighboring landowner.
Next he referred to a business journey to Mantua and Cremona, which he
would shortly have to undertake. Casanova expressed the hope that ere
long he would be able to entertain his friend in Venice, a city which,
by a strange chance, Olivo had never visited. Amalia had seen the place
of wonder as a child. She could not recall the journey thither, but
could only remember having seen an old man wrapped in a scarlet cloak,
disembarking from a long black boat. He had stumbled and had fallen
prone.

"Have you never been to Venice either?" asked Casanova of Marcolina, who
was seated facing him, so that she could see over his shoulder into the
deep gloom of the garden. She shook her head. Casanova mused: "If I
could but show you the city in which I passed my youth! Had you but been
young with me!" Another thought, as foolish as both of these, crossed
his mind: "Even now, if I could but take you there with me."

While thus thinking, at the same time, with the ease of manner peculiar
to him in moments of great excitement, he began to speak of his native
city. At first his language was cool; he used an artist's touch, as if
painting a picture. Warming up by degrees, he entered into details of
personal history, so that of a sudden his own figure appeared in the
centre of the canvas, filling it with life. He spoke of his mother,
the celebrated actress, for whom her admirer Goldoni had written his
admirable comedy, _La Pupilla_. Next he recounted the unhappy days spent
in Dr. Gozzi's boarding school. Then he spoke of his childish passion
for the gardener's little daughter, who had subsequently run away with a
lackey; of his first sermon as a young abbate, after which he found in
the offertory bag, in addition to the usual collection, a number of love
letters; of his doings as a fiddler in the orchestra of the San Samueli
Theatre; of the pranks which he and his companions had played in the
alleys, taverns, dancing halls, and gaming-houses of Venice--sometimes
masked and sometimes unmasked. In telling the story of these riotous
escapades, he was careful to avoid the use of any offensive epithet. He
phrased his narrative in choice imaginative language, as if paying due
regard to the presence of the young girls, who, like their elders,
including Marcolina, listened with rapt attention. The hour grew late,
and Amalia sent her daughters to bed. They all kissed Casanova a tender
good-night, Teresina behaving exactly like her sisters. He made them
promise that they would soon come with their father and mother to visit
him in Venice. When they had gone, he spoke with less restraint, but
continued to avoid any unsuitable innuendo or display of vanity. His
audience might have imagined themselves listening to the story of a
Parsifal rather than to that of a Casanova, the dangerous seducer and
half-savage adventurer.

He told them of the fair Unknown who had travelled with him for weeks
disguised as a man in officer's uniform, and one morning had suddenly
disappeared from his side; of the daughter of the gentleman cobbler in
Madrid who, in the intervals between their embraces, had studiously
endeavored to make a good Catholic of him; of Lia, the lovely Jewess of
Turin, who had a better seat on horseback than any princess; of Manon
Balletti, sweet and innocent, the only woman he had almost married; of
the singer whom he had hissed in Warsaw because of her bad performance,
whereupon he had had to fight a duel with her lover, General Branitzky,
and had been compelled to flee the city; of the wicked woman Charpillon,
who had made such an abject fool of him in London; of the night when he
crossed the lagoons to Murano on the way to his adored nun, the night
when he nearly lost his life in a storm; of Croce the gamester, who,
after losing a fortune at Spa, had taken a tearful farewell of Casanova
upon the high-road, and had set off on his way to St. Petersburg, just
as he was, wearing silk stockings and a coat of apple-green satin, and
carrying nothing but a walking cane.

He told of actresses, singers, dressmakers, countesses, dancers,
chambermaids; of gamblers, officers, princes, envoys, financiers,
musicians, and adventurers. So carried away was he by the rediscovered
charm of his own past, so completely did the triumph of these splendid
though irrecoverable experiences eclipse the consciousness of the
shadows that encompassed his present, that he was on the point of
telling the story of a pale but pretty girl who in a twilit church at
Mantua had confided her love troubles to him--absolutely forgetting that
this same girl, sixteen years older, now sat at the table before him
as the wife of his friend Olivo--when the maid came in to say that the
carriage was waiting. Instantly, with his incomparable talent for doing
the right thing, Casanova rose to bid adieu. He again pressed Olivo, who
was too much affected to speak, to bring wife and children to visit him
in Venice. Having embraced his friend, he approached Amalia with
intent to embrace her also, but she held out her hand and he kissed it
affectionately.

When he turned to Marcolina, she said: "You ought to write down
everything you told us this evening, Chevalier, and a great deal more,
just as you have penned the story of your flight from The Leads."

"Do you really mean that, Marcolina?" he enquired, with the shyness of a
young author.

She smiled with gentle mockery, saying: "I fancy such a book might prove
far more entertaining than your polemic against Voltaire."

"Very likely," he thought. "Perhaps I may follow your advice some day.
If so, you, Marcolina, shall be the theme of the last chapter."

This notion, and still more the thought that the last chapter was to be
lived through that very night, made his face light up so strangely that
Marcolina, who had given him her hand in farewell, drew it away
again before he could stoop to kiss it. Without betraying either
disappointment or anger, Casanova turned to depart, after signifying,
with one of those simple gestures of which he was a master, his desire
that no one, not even Olivo, should follow him.

He strode rapidly through the chestnut avenue, handed a gold piece to
the maid who had brought his valise to the carriage, took his seat and
drove away.

The sky was overcast. In the village, lamps were still burning in some
of the cottages; but by the time the carriage regained the open road,
the only light piercing the darkness was supplied by the yellow rays of
the lantern dangling from the shaft. Casanova opened the valise, took
out Lorenzi's cloak, flung it over his shoulders, and under this cover
rapidly undressed. He packed the discarded clothing, together with shoes
and stockings, in the valise, and wrapped himself in the cloak. Then he
called to the coachman:

"Stop, we must drive back!"

The coachman turned heavily hi his seat.

"I have left some of my papers in the house. Don't you understand? We
must drive back."

When the coachman, a surly, thin greybeard, still hesitated, Casanova
said: "Of course I will pay you extra for your trouble. Here you are!"
He pressed a gold piece into the man's hand.

The coachman nodded, muttered something, gave his horse a needless cut
with the whip, and turned the carriage round. When they drove back
through the village, all the houses were dark. A little farther on, the
coachman was about to turn into the by-road leading up the gentle ascent
to Olivo's house.

"Halt!" cried Casanova. "We won't drive any nearer, lest we should wake
them all up. Wait for me here at the corner. I shall be back in a minute
or two. If I should happen to keep you longer, you shall have a ducat
for every hour!"

The man by his nod seemed to show he understood what was afoot.

Casanova descended and made quickly past the closed door and along the
wall to the corner. Here began the path leading through the vineyards.
It still led along the wall. Having walked it twice by daylight,
Casanova had no difficulty in the dark. Half way up the hill came a
second angle in the wall. Here he had again to turn to the right, across
soft meadow-land, and in the pitchy night had to feel along the wall
until he found the garden door. At length his fingers recognized the
change from smooth stone to rough wood, and he could easily make out the
framework of the narrow door. He unlocked it, entered the garden, and
made all fast again behind him.

Across the greensward he could now discern house and tower. They seemed
incredibly far off and yet incredibly large. He stood where he was for a
while, looking around. What to other eyes would have been impenetrable
darkness, was to him no more than deep twilight. The gravel path
being painful to his bare feet, he walked upon the greensward, where,
moreover, his footfall made no sound. So light was his tread that he
felt as if soaring.

"Has my mood changed," he thought, "since those days when, as a man of
thirty, I sought such adventures? Do I not now, as then, feel all the
ardors of desire and all the sap of youth course through my veins? Am I
not, as of old, Casanova? Being Casanova, why should I be subject, as
others are subject, to the pitiful law which is called age!"

Growing bolder, he asked himself: "Why am I creeping in disguise to
Marcolina? Is not Casanova a better man than Lorenzi, even though he be
thirty years older? Is not she the one woman who would have understood
the incomprehensible? Was it needful to commit this lesser rascality,
and to mislead another man into the commission of a greater rascality?
Should I not, with a little patience, have reached the same goal?
Lorenzi would in any case have gone to-morrow, whilst I should have
remained. Five days, three days, and she would have given herself to me,
knowing me to be Casanova."

He stood close to the wall of the house beneath Marcolina's window,
which was still closed. His thoughts ran on: "Is it too late? I
could come back to-morrow or the next day. Could begin the work of
seduction--in honorable fashion, so to speak. To-night would be but a
foretaste of the future. Marcolina must not learn that I have been here
to-day--or not until much later."



CHAPTER TEN.


Marcolina's window was still closed. There was no sign from within. It
wanted a few minutes to midnight. Should he make his presence known in
any way? By tapping gently at the window? Since nothing of this sort had
been arranged, it might arouse Marcolina's suspicions. Better wait. It
could not be much longer. The thought that she might instantly recognize
him, might detect the fraud before he had achieved his purpose, crossed
his mind--not for the first time, yet as a passing fancy, as a remote
possibility which it was logical to take into account, but not anything
to be seriously dreaded.

A ludicrous adventure now recurred to his mind. Twenty years ago he had
spent a night with a middle-aged ugly vixen in Soleure, when he had
imagined himself to be possessing a beautiful young woman whom he
adored. He recalled how next day, in a shameless letter, she had derided
him for the mistake that she had so greatly desired him to make and
that she had compassed with such infamous cunning. He shuddered at the
thought. It was the last thing he would have wished to think of just
now, and he drove the detestable image from his mind.

It must be midnight! How long was he to stand shivering there? Waiting
in vain, perhaps? Cheated, after all? Two thousand ducats for nothing.
Lorenzi behind the curtain, mocking at the fool outside!

Involuntarily he gripped the hilt of the sword he carried beneath the
cloak, pressed to his naked body. After all, with a fellow like Lorenzi
one must be prepared for any tricks.

At that instant he heard a gentle rattling, and knew it was made by the
grating of Marcolina's window hi opening. Then both wings of the window
were drawn back, though the curtain still veiled the interior. Casanova
remained motionless for a few seconds more, until the curtain was pulled
aside by an unseen hand. Taking this as a sign, he swung himself over
the sill into the room, and promptly closed window and grating behind
him. The curtain had fallen across his shoulders, so that he had to push
his way beneath it. Now he would have been in absolute darkness had
there not been shining from the depths of the distance, incredibly far
away, as if awakened by his own gaze, the faintest possible illumination
to show him the way. No more than three paces forward, and eager arms
enfolded him. Letting the sword slip from his hand, the cloak from his
shoulders, he gave himself up to his bliss.

From Marcolina's sigh of surrender, from the tears of happiness which
he kissed from her cheeks, from the ever-renewed warmth with which she
received his caresses, he felt sure that she shared his rapture; and
to him this rapture seemed more intense than he had ever experienced,
seemed to possess a new and strange quality. Pleasure became worship;
passion was transfused with an intense consciousness. Here at last was
the reality which he had often falsely imagined himself to be on the
point of attaining, and which had always eluded his grasp. He held in
his arms a woman upon whom he could squander himself, with whom he could
feel himself inexhaustible; the woman upon whose breast the moment of
ultimate self-abandonment and of renewed desire seemed to coalesce into
a single instant of hitherto unimagined spiritual ecstasy. Were not life
and death, time and eternity, one upon these lips? Was he not a god?
Were not youth and age merely a fable; visions of men's fancy? Were not
home and exile, splendor and misery, renown and oblivion, senseless
distinctions, fit only for the use of the uneasy, the lonely, the
frustrate; had not the words become unmeaning to one who was Casanova,
and who had found Marcolina?

More contemptible, more absurd, as the minutes passed, seemed to him
the prospect of keeping the resolution which he had made when still
pusillanimous, of acting on the determination to flee out of this night
of miracle dumbly, unrecognized, like a thief. With the infallible
conviction that he must be the bringer of delight even as he was the
receiver of delight, he felt prepared for the venture of disclosing his
name, even though he knew all the time that he would thus play for
a great stake, the loss of which would involve the loss of his very
existence. He was still shrouded in impenetrable darkness, and until the
first glimmer of dawn made its way through the thick curtain, he could
postpone a confession upon whose favorable acceptance by Marcolina his
fate, nay his life, depended.

Besides, was not this mute, passionately sweet association the very
thing to bind Marcolina to him more firmly with each kiss that they
enjoyed? Would not the ineffable bliss of this night transmute into
truth what had been conceived in falsehood? His duped mistress, woman
of women, had she not already an inkling that it was not Lorenzi, the
stripling, but Casanova, the man, with whom she was mingling in these
divine ardors?

He began to deem it possible that he might be spared the so greatly
desired and 'yet so intensely dreaded moment of revelation. He fancied
that Marcolina, thrilling, entranced, transfigured, would spontaneously
whisper his name. Then, when she had forgiven him, he would take her
with him that very hour. Together they would leave the house in the grey
dawn; together they would seek the carriage that was waiting at the
turn of the road; together they would drive away. She would be his for
evermore. This would be the crown of his life; that at an age when
others were doomed to a sad senility, he, by the overwhelming might of
his unconquerable personality, would have won for himself the youngest,
the most beautiful, the most gifted of women.

For this woman was his as no woman had ever been before. He glided with
her through mysterious, narrow canals, between palaces in whose
shadows he was once more at home, under high-arched bridges which
blurred figures were swiftly crossing. Many of the wayfarers glanced
down for a moment over the parapet, and vanished ere their faces could
be discerned.

Now the gondola drew alongside. A marble stairway led up to the stately
mansion of Senator Bragadino. It was the only palace holding festival.
Masked guests were ascending and descending. Many of them paused with
inquisitive glances; but who could recognize Casanova and Marcolina in
their dominoes?

He entered the hall with her. Here was a great company playing for high
stakes. All the senators, Bragadino among them, were seated round the
table in their purple robes. As Casanova came through the door, they
whispered his name as if terror-stricken, for the flashing of his eyes
behind the mask had disclosed his identity. He did not sit down; he did
not take any cards, and yet he joined in the game. He won. He won all
the gold on the table, and this did not suffice. The senators had to
give him notes of hand. They lost their possessions, their palaces,
their purple robes; they were beggars; they crawled round him clad in
rags, kissing his hands.

Nearby, in a hall with crimson hangings, there was music and dancing.
Casanova wished to dance with Marcolina, but she had vanished. Once
again the senators in their purple robes were seated at the table; but
now Casanova knew that the hazards at stake were not those of a game of
cards; he knew that the destinies of accused persons, some criminal and
some innocent, hung in the balance.

What had become of Marcolina? Had he not been holding her by the hand
all the time? He rushed down the staircase. The gondola was waiting.
On, on, through the maze of canals. Of course the gondolier knew where
Marcolina was; but why was he, too, masked? That had not been the custom
of old in Venice. Casanova wished to question him, but was afraid. Does
a man become so cowardly when he grows old?

Onward, ever onward. How huge Venice had grown during these
five-and-twenty years! At length the houses came to an end; the canal
opened out; they were passing between islands; there stood the walls of
the Murano nunnery, to which Marcolina had fled.

There was no gondola now; he had to swim; how delightful! It was true
that in Venice the children were playing with his gold pieces. But what
was money to him? The water was now warm, now cold; it dripped from his
clothing as he climbed over the wall.

"Where is Marcolina?" he enquired in the parlor, in loud, challenging
tones such as only a prince would dare to use.

"I will summon her," said the Lady Abbess, and sank into the ground.

Casanova wandered about; he had wings; he fluttered to and fro along the
gratings, fluttered like a bat. "If I had only known sooner that I can
fly," he thought. "I will teach Marcolina."

Behind the gratings, the figures of women were moving hither and
thither. They were nuns--and yet they were all wearing secular dress.
He knew it, though he could not really see them. He knew who they were.
Henriette the Unknown; Corticelli and Cristina, the dancers; the bride;
Dubois the Beautiful; the accurst vixen of Soleure; Manon Balletti; a
hundred others--but never Marcolina!

"You have betrayed me," he cried to the gondolier, who was waiting for
him beneath. Never had he hated anyone as he hated this gondolier, and
he swore to take an exquisite revenge.

But how foolish he had been to seek Marcolina in the Murano nunnery when
she had gone to visit Voltaire. It was fortunate that he could fly,
since he had no money left with which to pay for a carriage.

He swam away. But he was no longer enjoying himself. The water grew
colder and colder; he was drifting out into the open sea, far from
Murano, far from Venice, and there was no ship within sight; his heavy
gold-embroidered garments were dragging him down; he tried to strip
them off, but it was impossible, for he was holding his manuscript, the
manuscript he had to give to M. Voltaire. The water was pouring into
his mouth and nose; deadly fear seized him; he clutched at impalpable
things; there was a rattling in his throat; he screamed; and with a
great effort he opened his eyes.

Between the curtain and the window-frame the dawn was making its way
through in a narrow strip of light. Marcolina, in her white nightdress
and with hands crossed upon her bosom, was standing at the foot of the
bed contemplating Casanova with unutterable horror. Her glance instantly
recalled him to his senses. Involuntarily he stretched out his arms
towards her with a gesture of appeal. Marcolina, as if rejecting this
appeal, waved him away with her left hand, while with the right she
continued to grasp her raiment convulsively. Casanova sat up, his eyes
riveted upon her. Neither was able to look away from the other. His
expression was one of rage and shame; hers was one of shame and
disgust. Casanova knew how she saw him, for he saw himself figured
in imagination, just as he had seen himself yesterday in the bedroom
mirror. A yellow, evil face, deeply lined, with thin lips and staring
eyes--a face three times worse than that of yesterday, because of
the excesses of the night, the ghastly dream of the morning, and the
terrible awakening. And what he read in Marcolina's countenance was not
what he would a thousand times rather have read there; it was not thief,
libertine, villain. He read only something which crushed him to earth
more ignominiously than could any terms of abuse; he read the word which
to him was the most dreadful of all words, since it passed a final
judgment upon him--old man.

Had it been within his power to annihilate himself by a spell, he would
have done so, that he might be spared from having to creep out of the
bed and display himself to Marcolina in his nakedness, which must appear
to her more loathsome than the sight of some loathsome beast.

But Marcolina, as if gradually collecting herself, and manifestly in
order to give him the opportunity which was indispensable, turned her
face to the wall. He seized the moment to get out of bed, to raise the
cloak from the floor, and to wrap himself in it. He was quick, too, to
make sure of his sword. Now, when he conceived himself to have at least
escaped the worst contumely of all, that of ludicrousness, he began to
wonder whether it would not be possible to throw another light upon this
affair in which he cut so pitiful a figure. He was an adept in the use
of language. Could he not somehow or other, by a few well-chosen words,
give matters a favorable turn?

From the nature of the circumstances, it was evidently impossible for
Marcolina to doubt that Lorenzi had sold her to Casanova. Yet however
intensely she might hate her wretched lover at that moment, Casanova
felt that he himself, the cowardly thief, must seem a thousand times
more hateful.

Perhaps another course offered better promise of satisfaction. He might
degrade Marcolina by mockery and lascivious phrases, full of innuendo.
But this spiteful idea could not be sustained in face of the aspect she
had now assumed. Her expression of horror had gradually been transformed
into one of infinite sadness, as if it had been not Marcolina's
womanhood alone which had been desecrated by Casanova, but as if during
the night that had just closed a nameless and inexpiable offence had
been committed by cunning against trust, by lust against love, by age
against youth. Beneath this gaze which, to Casanova's extremest torment,
reawakened for a brief space all that was still good in him, he turned
away. Without looking round at Marcolina, he went to the window, drew
the curtain aside, opened casement and grating, cast a glance round the
garden which still seemed to slumber in the twilight, and swung himself
across the sill into the open.

Aware of the possibility that someone in the house might already be
awake and might spy him from a window, he avoided the greensward and
sought cover in the shaded alley. Passing through the door in the wall,
he had hardly closed it behind him, when someone blocked his path. "The
gondolier!" was his first idea. For now he suddenly realized that the
gondolier in his dream had been Lorenzi. The young officer stood before
him. His silver-braided scarlet tunic glowed in the morning light.

"What a splendid uniform," was the thought that crossed Casanova's
confused, weary brain. "It looks quite new. I am sure it has not been
paid for." These trivial reflections helped him to the full recovery of
his wits; and as soon as he realized the situation, his mind was filled
with gladness. Drawing himself up proudly, and grasping the hilt of
his sword firmly beneath the cloak, he said in a tone of the utmost
amiability: "Does it not seem to you, Lieutenant Lorenzi, that this
notion of yours has come a thought too late?"

"By no means," answered Lorenzi, looking handsomer than any man Casanova
had ever seen before. "Only one of us two shall leave the place alive."

"What a hurry you are in, Lorenzi," said Casanova in an almost tender
tone. "Cannot the affair rest until we reach Mantua? I shall be
delighted to give you a lift in my carriage, which is waiting at the
turn of the road. There is a great deal to be said for observing the
forms in these matters, especially in such a case as ours."

"No forms are needed. You or I, Casanova, at this very hour." He drew
his sword.

Casanova shrugged. "Just as you please, Lorenzi. But you might at least
remember that I shall be reluctantly compelled to appear in a very
inappropriate costume." He threw open the cloak and stood there nude,
playing with the sword in his hand.

Hate welled up in Lorenzi's eyes. "You shall not be at any
disadvantage," he said, and began to strip with all possible speed.

Casanova turned away, and for the moment wrapped himself in his cloak
once more, for though the sun was already piercing the morning mists,
the air was chill. Long shadows lay across the fields, cast by the
sparse trees on the hill-top. For an instant Casanova wondered whether
someone might not come down the path. Doubtless it was used only by
Olivo and the members of his household. It occurred to Casanova that
these were perhaps the last minutes of his life, and he was amazed at
his own calmness.

"M. Voltaire is a lucky fellow," came as a passing thought. But in truth
he had no interest in Voltaire, and he would have been glad at this
supreme moment to have been able to call up pleasanter images than that
of the old author's vulturine physiognomy. How strange it was that no
birds were piping in the trees over the wall. A change of weather must
be imminent. But what did the weather matter to him? He would rather
think of Marcolina, of the ecstasy he had enjoyed in her arms, and for
which he was now to pay dear. Dear? Cheap enough! A few years of an old
man's life hi penury and obscurity. What was there left for him to do in
the world? To poison Bragadino? Was it worth the trouble? Nothing was
worth the trouble. How few trees there were on the hill! He began to
count them. "Five... seven... ten.--Have I nothing better to do?"

"I am ready, Casanova."

Casanova turned smartly. Lorenzi stood before him, splendid in his
nakedness like a young god. No trace of meanness lingered in his face.
He seemed equally ready to kill or to die.

"What if I were to throw away my sword?" thought Casanova. "What if I
were to embrace him?" He slipped the cloak from his shoulders and stood
like Lorenzi, lean and naked.

Lorenzi lowered his point in salute, in accordance with the rules of
fence. Casanova returned the salute. Next moment they crossed blades,
and the steel glittered like silver in the sun.

"How long is it," thought Casanova, "since last I stood thus measuring
sword with sword?" But none of his serious duels now recurred to his
mind. He could think only of practice with the foils, such as ten years
earlier he used to have every morning with his valet Costa, the rascal
who afterwards bolted with a hundred and fifty thousand lire. "All the
same, he was a fine fencer; nor has my hand forgotten its cunning!
My arm is as true, my vision as keen, as ever..... Youth and age are
fables. Am I not a god? Are we not both gods? If anyone could see us
now. There are women who would pay a high price for the spectacle!"

The blades bent, the points sparkled; at each contact the rapiers sang
softly in the morning air. "A fight? No, a fencing match! Why this look
of horror, Marcolina? Are we not both worthy of your love? He is but a
youngster; I am Casanova!"

Lorenzi sank to the ground, thrust through the heart. The sword fell
from his grip. He opened his eyes wide, as if in utter astonishment.
Once he raised his head for a moment, while his lips were fixed in a wry
smile. Then the head fell back again, his nostrils dilated, there was a
slight rattling in his throat, and he was dead.

Casanova bent over him, kneeled beside the body, saw a few drops of
blood ooze from the wound, held his hand in front of Lorenzi's
mouth--but the breath was stilled. A cold shiver passed through
Casanova's frame. He rose and put on his cloak. Then, returning to the
body, he glanced at the fallen youth, lying stark on the turf in
incomparable beauty. The silence was broken by a soft rustling, as the
morning breeze stirred the tree-tops.

"What shall I do?" Casanova asked himself. "Shall I summon aid? Olivo?
Amalia? Marcolina? To what purpose? No one can bring him back to life."

He pondered with the calmness invariable to him in the most dangerous
moments of his career. "It may be hours before anyone finds him; perhaps
no one will come by before evening; perchance later still. That will
give me time, and time is of the first importance."

He was still holding his sword. Noticing that it was bloody, he wiped it
on the grass. He thought for a moment of dressing the corpse, but to do
this would have involved the loss of precious and irrecoverable minutes.
Paying the last duties, he bent once more and closed Lorenzi's eyes.
"Lucky fellow," he murmured; and then, dreamily, he kissed the dead
man's forehead.

He strode along beside the wall, turned the angle, and regained the
road. The carriage was where he had left it, the coachman fast asleep
on the box. Casanova was careful to avoid waking the man at first. Not
until he had cautiously taken his seat did he call out: "Hullo, drive
on, can't you?" and prodded him in the back. The startled coachman
looked round, greatly astonished to find that it was broad daylight.
Then he whipped up his horse and drove off.

Casanova sat far back in the carriage, wrapped in the cloak which had
once belonged to Lorenzi. In the village a few children were to be seen
in the streets, but it was plain that the elders were already at work in
the fields. When the houses had been left behind Casanova drew a long
breath. Opening the valise, he withdrew his clothes, and dressed beneath
the cover of the cloak, somewhat concerned lest the coachman should
turn and discover his fare's strange behavior. But nothing of the sort
happened. Unmolested, Casanova was able to finish dressing, to pack away
Lorenzi's cloak, and resume his own.

Glancing skyward, Casanova saw that the heavens were overcast. He had
no sense of fatigue, but felt tense and wakeful. He thought over his
situation, considering it from every possible point of view, and coming
to the conclusion that, though grave, it was less alarming than it might
have seemed to timid spirits. He would probably be suspected of having
killed Lorenzi, but who could doubt that it had been in an honorable
fight? Besides, Lorenzi had been lying in wait, had forced the encounter
upon him, and no one could consider him a criminal for having fought in
self-defence. But why had he left the body lying on the grass like that
of a dead dog? Well, nobody could reproach him on that account. To flee
away swiftly had been well within his right, had been almost a duty. In
his place, Lorenzi would have done the same. But perhaps Venice would
hand him over? Directly he arrived, he would claim the protection of his
patron Bragadino. Yet this might involve his accusing himself of a deed
which would after all remain undiscovered, or at any rate would perhaps
never be laid to his charge. What proof was there against him? Had he
not been summoned to Venice? Who could say that he went thither as a
fugitive from justice? The coachman maybe, who had waited for him half
the night. One or two additional gold pieces would stop the fellow's
mouth.

Thus his thoughts ran in a circle. Suddenly he fancied he heard the
sound of horses' hoofs from the road behind him. "Already?" was
his first thought. He leaned over the side of the carriage to look
backwards. All was clear. The carriage had driven past a farm, and the
sound he had heard had been the echo of his own horse's hoofs. The
discovery of this momentary self-deception quieted his apprehensions for
a time, so that it seemed to him the danger was over. He could now see
the towers of Mantua. "Drive on, man, drive on," he said under his
breath, for he did not really wish the coachman to hear. The coachman,
nearing the goal, had given the horse his head. Soon they reached the
gate through which Casanova had left the town with Olivo less than
forty-eight hours earlier. He told the coachman the name of the inn, and
in a few minutes the carriage drew up at the sign of the Golden Lion.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.


Casanova leaped from the carriage. The hostess stood in the doorway. She
was bright and smiling, in the mood apparently to give Casanova the warm
welcome of a lover whose absence has been regretted and whose return
has been eagerly desired. But Casanova looked warningly towards the
coachman, implying that the man might be an inconvenient witness, and
then told him to eat and drink to his heart's content.

"A letter from Venice arrived for you yesterday, Chevalier," announced
the hostess.

"Another?" enquired Casanova, going upstairs to his room.

The hostess followed. A sealed despatch was lying on the table. Casanova
opened it in great excitement. He was anxious lest it should prove to be
a revocation of the former offer. But the missive contained no more than
a few lines from Bragadino, enclosing a draft for two hundred and fifty
lire, in order that Casanova, should he have made up his mind to accept,
might instantly set out for Venice.

Turning to the hostess, Casanova explained with an air of well-simulated
vexation that he was unfortunately compelled to continue his journey
instantly. Were he to delay, he would risk losing the post which his
friend Bragadino had procured for him in Venice, a post for which there
were fully a hundred applicants. Threatening clouds gathered on the
hostess' face, so Casanova was prompt to add that all he proposed was to
make sure of the appointment and to receive his patent as secretary to
the Supreme Council. As soon as he was installed in office, he would ask
permission to return to Mantua, that he might arrange his affairs. Of
course this request could not be refused. He was going to leave most
of his effects here. When he returned, it would only depend upon his
beloved and charming friend whether she would give up inn-keeping and
accompany him to Venice as his wife. She threw her arms round his neck,
and with brimming eyes asked him whether before starting he would not at
least make a good breakfast, if she might bring it up to his room. He
knew she had in mind to provide a farewell feast, and though he felt
no appetite for it, he agreed to the suggestion simply to be rid of her.

As soon as she was gone, he packed his bag with such underclothing and
books as he urgently needed. Then, making his way to the parlor, where
the coachman was enjoying a generous meal, he asked the man whether, for
a sum which was more than double the usual fare, he would with the same
horse drive along the Venice road as far as the next posting station.
The coachman agreed without demur, thus relieving Casanova of his
principal anxiety for the time.

Now the hostess entered, flushed with annoyance, to ask whether he had
forgotten that his breakfast was awaiting him in his room. Casanova
nonchalantly replied that he had not forgotten for a moment, and begged
her, since he was short of time, to take his draft to the bank, and to
bring back the two hundred and fifty lire. While she was hastening to
fetch the money, Casanova returned to his room, and began to eat with
wolfish voracity. He continued his meal when the hostess came back;
stopping merely for an instant to pocket the money she brought him.

When he had finished eating, he turned to the woman. Thinking that her
hour had at length come, she had drawn near, and was pressing up against
him in a manner which could not be misunderstood. He clasped her
somewhat roughly, kissed her on both cheeks, and, although she was
obviously ready to grant him the last favors then and there, exclaimed:
"I must be off. Till our next meeting!" He tore himself away with
such violence that she fell back on to the corner of the couch. Her
expression, with its mingling of disappointment, rage, and impotence,
was so irresistibly funny that Casanova, as he closed the door behind
him, burst out laughing.

The coachman could not fail to realize that his fare was in a hurry, but
it was not his business to ask questions. He sat ready oil the box when
Casanova came out of the inn, and whipped up the horse the very moment
the passenger was seated. On his own initiative he decided not to drive
through the town, but to skirt it, and to rejoin the posting road upon
the other side. The sun was not yet high, for it was only nine o'clock.
Casanova reflected: "It is likely enough that Lorenzi's body has not
been found yet." He hardly troubled to think that he himself had killed
Lorenzi. All he knew was that he was glad to be leaving Mantua farther
and farther behind, and glad to have rest at last.

He fell into a deep sleep, the deepest he had ever known. It lasted
practically two days and two nights. The brief interruptions to his
slumbers necessitated by the change of horses from time to time, and the
interruptions that occurred when he was sitting in inns, or walking up
and down in front of posting stations, or exchanging a few casual words
with postmasters, innkeepers, customhouse officers, and travellers, did
not linger in his memory as individual details. Thus it came to pass
that the remembrance of these two days and nights merged as it were into
the dream he had dreamed in Marcolina's bed. Even the duel between the
two naked men upon the green turf in the early sunshine seemed somehow
to belong to this dream, wherein often enough, in enigmatic fashion, he
was not Casanova but Lorenzi; not the victor but the vanquished; not the
fugitive, but the slain round whose pale young body the lonely wind of
morning played. Neither he nor Lorenzi was any more real than were the
senators in the purple robes who had knelt before him like beggars; nor
any less real than such as that old fellow leaning against the parapet
of a bridge, to whom at nightfall he had thrown alms from the carriage.
Had not Casanova bent his powers of reason to the task of distinguishing
between real experiences and dream experiences, he might well have
imagined that in Marcolina's arms he had fallen into a mad dream from
which he did not awaken until he caught sight of the Campanile of
Venice.



CHAPTER TWELVE


It was on the third morning of his journey that Casanova, having reached
Mestre, sighted once more the bell tower after over twenty years of
longing--a pillar of grey stone looming distantly in the twilight. It
was but two leagues now to the beloved city in which he had been young.
He paid the driver without remembering whether this was the fifth or
the sixth with whom he had had to settle since quitting Mantua, and,
followed by a lad carrying his baggage, walked through the mean streets
to the harbor from which to-day, just as five-and-twenty years earlier,
the boat was to leave for Venice at six in the morning.

The vessel seemed to have been waiting for him; hardly had he seated
himself upon a narrow bench, among petty traders, manual workers, and
women bringing their wares to market, when she cast off. It was a cloudy
morning; mist was rolling across the lagoons; there was a smell of
bilge-water, damp wood, fish, and fruit. The Campanile grew ever higher;
additional towers appeared; cupolas became visible. The light of the
morning sun was reflected from one roof, from two, from many. Individual
houses were distinguishable, growing larger by degrees. Boats, great and
small, showed through the mist; greetings were shouted from vessel to
vessel. The chatter around him grew louder. A little girl offered him
some grapes for sale. Munching the purple berries, he spat the skins
over the side after the manner of his countrymen. He entered into
friendly talk with someone who expressed satisfaction that the weather
seemed to be clearing at last.

"What, has it been raining here for three days? That is news to me. I
come from the south, from Naples and Rome."

The boat had entered the canals of the suburbs. Sordid houses stared at
him with dirty windows, as if with vacant, hostile eyes. Twice or thrice
the vessel stopped at a quay, and passengers came aboard; young fellows,
one of whom had a great portfolio under his arm; women with baskets.

Here, at last, was familiar ground. Was not that the church where
Martina used to go to confession? Was not that the house in which, after
his own fashion, he had restored the pallid and dying Agatha to ruddy
health? Was not that the place in which he had dealt with the charming
Sylvia's rascal of a brother, had beaten the fellow black and blue? Up
that canal to the right, in the small yellow house upon whose splashed
steps the fat, bare-footed woman was standing....

Before he had fully recaptured the distant memory attaching to the house
in question, the boat had entered the Grand Canal, and was passing
slowly up the broad waterway with palaces on either hand. To Casanova,
in his dreamy reflections, it seemed as if but yesterday he had
traversed the same route.

He disembarked at the Rialto Bridge, for, before visiting Signor
Bragadino, he wished to make sure of a room in a modest hostelry
nearby--he knew where it was, though he could not recall the name.
The place seemed more decayed, or at least more neglected, than he
remembered it of old. A sulky waiter, badly in need of a shave, showed
him to an uninviting room looking upon the blind wall of a house
opposite. Casanova had no time to lose. Moreover, since he had spent
nearly all his cash on the journey, the cheapness of these quarters was
a great attraction. He decided, therefore, to make his lodging there
for the present. Having removed the stains of travel, he deliberated for
a while whether to put on his finer suit; then decided it was better to
wear the soberer raiment, and walked out of the inn.

It was but a hundred paces, along a narrow alley and across a bridge, to
Bragadino's small but elegant palace. A young servingman with a rather
impudent manner took in Casanova's name in a way which implied that its
celebrity had no meaning for him. Returning from his master's apartments
with a more civil demeanor, he bade the guest enter.

Bragadino was seated at breakfast beside the open window, and made as if
to rise; but Casanova begged him not to disturb himself.

"My dear Casanova," exclaimed Bragadino, "How delighted I am to see
you once more! Who would have thought we should ever meet again?" He
extended both hands to the newcomer.

Casanova seized them as if to kiss them, but did not do so. He answered
the cordial greeting with warm words of thanks in the grandiloquent
manner usual to him on such occasions. Bragadino begged him to be
seated, and asked him whether he had breakfasted. Told that his guest
was still fasting, Bragadino rang for his servant and gave the
necessary orders. As soon as the man had gone, Bragadino expressed his
gratification that Casanova had so unreservedly accepted the Supreme
Council's offer. He would certainly not suffer for having decided to
devote himself to the service of his country. Casanova responded
by saying that he would deem himself happy if he could but win the
Council's approval.

Such were Casanova's words, while his thoughts ran on. He could no
longer detect in himself any feeling of hatred towards Bragadino. Nay,
he realized that he was rather sorry for this man advanced in years and
grown a trifle foolish, who sat facing him with a sparse white beard and
red-rimmed eyes, and whose skinny hand trembled as he held his cup. The
last time Casanova had seen him, Bragadino had probably been about as
old as Casanova was to-day; but even then, to Casanova, Bragadino had
seemed an old man.

The servant brought in Casanova's breakfast. The guest needed little
pressing to induce him to make a hearty meal, for on the road he had had
no more than a few snacks.

"I have journeyed here from Mantua without pausing for a night's rest,
so eager was I to show my readiness to serve the Council and to prove
my undying gratitude to my benefactor."--This was his excuse for
the almost unmannerly greed with which he gulped down the steaming
chocolate.

Through the window, from the Grand Canal and the lesser canals, rose the
manifold noises of Venetian life. All other sounds were dominated by the
monotonous shouts of the gondoliers. Somewhere close at hand, perhaps in
the opposite palace (was it not the Fogazzari palace?), a woman with a
fine soprano voice was practising; the singer was young--someone who
could not have been born at the time when Casanova escaped from The
Leads.

He ate rolls and butter, eggs, cold meat, continually excusing himself
for his outrageous hunger, while Bragadino looked on well pleased.

"I do like young people to have a healthy appetite," said the Senator.
"As far as I can remember, my dear Casanova, you have always been a
good trencherman!" He recalled to mind a meal which he and Casanova had
enjoyed together in the early days of their acquaintance. "Or rather, as
now, I sat looking on while you ate. I had not taken a long walk, as
you had. It was shortly after you had kicked that physician out of the
house, the man who had almost been the death of me with his perpetual
bleedings."

They went on talking of old times--when life had been better in Venice
than it was to-day.

"Not everywhere," said Casanova, with a smiling allusion to The Leads.

Bragadino waved away the suggestion, as if this were not a suitable time
for a reference to such petty disagreeables. "Besides, you must know
that I did everything I could to save you from punishment, though
unfortunately my efforts proved unavailing. Of course, if in those days
I had already been a member of the Council of Ten!"

This broached the topic of political affairs. Warming to his theme, the
old man recovered much of the wit and liveliness of earlier days.
He told Casanova many remarkable details concerning the unfortunate
tendencies which had recently begun to affect some of the Venetian
youth, and concerning the dangerous intrigues of which infallible signs
were now becoming manifest.

Casanova was thus well posted for his work. He spent the day in the
gloomy chamber at the inn; and, simply as a means to secure calm after
the recent excitements, he passed the hours in arranging his papers, and
in burning those of which he wished to be rid. When evening fell, he
made his way to the Café Quadri in the Square of St. Mark, since
this was supposed to be the chief haunt of the freethinkers and
revolutionists. Here he was promptly recognized by an elderly musician
who had at one time been conductor of the orchestra in the San Samueli
Theatre, where Casanova had been a violinist thirty years before. By
this old acquaintance, and without any advances on his own part, he was
introduced to the company. Most of them were young men, and many of
their names were those which Bragadino had mentioned in the morning as
belonging to persons of suspicious character.

But the name of Casanova did not produce upon his new acquaintances the
effect which he felt himself entitled to anticipate. It was plain that
most of them knew nothing more of Casanova than that, a great many years
ago, he had for one reason or another, and perhaps for no reason at
all, been imprisoned in The Leads; and that, surmounting all possible
dangers, he had made his escape. The booklet wherein, some years
earlier, he had given so lively a description of his flight, had
not indeed passed unnoticed; but no one seemed to have read it with
sufficient attention. Casanova found it amusing to reflect that it lay
within his power to help everyone of these young gentlemen to a speedy
personal experience of the conditions of prison life in The Leads, and
to a realization of the difficulties of escape. He was far, however,
from betraying the slightest trace that he harbored so ill-natured an
idea. On the contrary, he was able to play the innocent and to adopt an
amiable rôle. After his usual fashion, he entertained the company
by recounting all sorts of lively adventures, describing them as
experiences he had had during his last journey from Rome to Venice. In
substance these incidents were true enough, but they all dated from
fifteen or twenty years earlier. He secured an eager and interested
audience.

Another member of the company announced as a noteworthy item of news
that an officer of Mantua on a visit to a friend, a neighboring
landowner, had been murdered, and that the robbers had stripped him to
the skin. The story attracted no particular attention, for in those days
such occurrences were far from rare. Casanova resumed his narrative
where it had been interrupted, resumed it as if this Mantua affair
concerned him just as little as it concerned the rest of the company. In
fact, being now freed from a disquiet whose existence he had hardly been
willing to admit even to himself, his manner became brighter and bolder
than ever.

It was past midnight when, after a light-hearted farewell, he walked
alone across the wide, empty square. The heavens were veiled in luminous
mist. He moved with the confident step of a sleep-walker. Without being
really conscious that he was on a path which he had not traversed for
five-and-twenty years, he found the way through tortuous alleys,
between dark houses, and over narrow bridges. At length he reached the
dilapidated inn, and had to knock repeatedly before the door was opened
to him with a slow unfriendliness.

When, a few minutes later, having but half undressed, he threw himself
upon his uneasy pallet, he was overwhelmed with a weariness amounting
to pain, while upon his lips was a bitter after-taste which seemed to
permeate his whole being. Thus, at the close of his long exile, did
he first woo sleep in the city to which he had so eagerly desired to
return. And here, when morning was about to break, the heavy and
dreamless sleep of exhaustion came to console the aging adventurer.

THE END



POSTFACE


It is a historical fact that Casanova visited Voltaire at Ferney. There
is, however, no historical warrant for the account of the matter given
in the foregoing novel, and still less for the statement that Casanova
wrote a polemic against Voltaire. It is a historical fact, likewise,
that Casanova, when between fifty and sixty years of age, found it
necessary to enter Venetian service as a spy. Of this, and of many other
doings of the celebrated adventurer to which casual allusion is made in
the course of the novel, fuller and more accurate accounts will be found
in Casanova's _Memoirs_. Speaking generally, nevertheless, _Casanova's
Homecoming_ is to be regarded throughout as a work of fiction.

A. S.





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