Part 3 out of 3
"What sort of a man is her companion?"
"He's a fine man, but he can speak very little Italian."
"Has he sold the lady's horse?"
"No, it was hired. He has only one trunk, which will go behind the
"This is all very strange. I shall not give any decision before speaking
to this man."
"I will tell him to wait on you."
Directly afterwards, a brisk-looking young fellow, carrying himself well
enough, and clad in a fancy uniform, came in. He told me the tale I had
heard from the coachman, and ended by saying that he was sure I would not
refuse to accommodate his wife in my carriage.
"Your wife, sir?"
I saw he was a Frenchman, and I addressed him in French.
"God be praised! You can speak my native tongue. Yes, sir, she is an
Englishwoman and my wife. I am sure she will be no trouble to you."
"Very good. I don't want to start later than I had arranged. Will she
be ready at five o'clock?"
The next morning when I got into my carriage, I found her already there.
I paid her some slight compliment, and sat down beside her, and we drove
Miss Betty--TheComte de L'Etoile--Sir B * * * M * * *--Reassured
This was the fourth adventure I had had of this kind. There is nothing
particularly out of the common in having a fellow-traveller in one's
carriage; this time, however, the affair had something decidedly romantic
I was forty-five, and my purse contained two hundred sequins. I still
loved the fair sex, though my ardour had decreased, my experience had
ripened, and my caution increased. I was more like a heavy father than a
young lover, and I limited myself to pretensions of the most modest
The young person beside me was pretty and gentle-looking, she was neatly
though simply dressed in the English fashion, she was fair and small, and
her budding breast could be seen outlined beneath the fine muslin of her
dress. She had all the appearances of modesty and noble birth, and
something of virginal innocence, which inspired one with attachment and
respect at the same time.
"I hope you can speak French madam?" I began.
"Yes, and a little Italian too."
"I congratulate myself on having you for my travelling companion."
"I think you should congratulate me."
"I heard you came to Sienna on horseback."
"Yes, but I will never do such a foolish thing again." "I think your
husband would have been wise to sell his horse and buy a carriage."
"He hired it; it does not belong to him. From Rome we are going to drive
"You like travelling?"
"Very much, but with greater comfort."
With these words the English girl, whose white skin did not look as if it
could contain a drop of blood, blushed most violently.
I guessed something of her secret, and begged pardon; and for more than
an hour I remain silent, pretending to gaze at the scenery, but in
reality thinking of her, for she began to inspire me with a lively
Though the position of my young companion was more than equivocal, I
determined to see my way clearly before I took any decisive step; and I
waited patiently till we got to Bon Couvent, where we expected to dine
and meet the husband.
We got there at ten o'clock.
In Italy the carriages never go faster than a walk; a man on foot can
outstrip them, as they rarely exceed three miles an hour. The tedium of
a journey under such circumstances is something dreadful, and in the hot
months one has to stop five or six hours in the middle of the day to
avoid falling ill.
My coachman said he did not want to go beyond St. Quirico, where there
was an excellent inn, that night, so he proposed waiting at Bon Couvent
till four o'clock. We had therefore six hours wherein to rest.
The English girl was astonished at not finding her husband, and looked
for him in all directions. I noticed her, and asked the landlord what
had become of him. He informed us that he had breakfasted and baited his
horse, and had then gone on, leaving word that he would await us at St.
Quirico and order supper there.
I thought it all very strange, but I said nothing. The poor girl begged
me to excuse her husband's behaviour.
"He has given me a mark of his confidence, madam, and there is nothing to
be offended at."
The landlord asked me if the vetturino paid my expenses, and I answered
in the negative; and the girl then told him to ask the vetturino if he
was paying for her.
The man came in, and to convince the lady that providing her with meals
was not in the contract, he gave her a paper which she handed to me to
read. It was signed "Comte de l'Etoile."
When she was alone with me my young companion begged me only to order
dinner for myself.
I understood her delicacy, and this made her all the dearer to me.
"Madame," said I, "you must please look upon me as an old friend.
I guess you have no money about you, and that you wish to fast from
motives of delicacy. Your husband shall repay me, if he will have it so.
If I told the landlord to only prepare dinner for myself I should be
dishonouring the count, yourself possibly, and myself most of all."
"I feel you are right sir. Let dinner be served for two, then; but I
cannot eat, for I feel ill, and I hope you will not mind my lying on the
bed for a moment."
"Pray do not let me disturb you. This is a pleasant room, and they can
lay the table in the next. Lie down, and sleep if you can, and I will
order dinner to be ready by two. I hope you will be feeling better by
I left her without giving her time to answer, and went to order dinner.
I had ceased to believe the Frenchman to be the beautiful Englishwoman's
husband, and began to think I should have to fight him.
The case, I felt certain, was one of elopement and seduction; and,
superstitious as usual, I was sure that my good genius had sent me in the
nick of time to save her and care for her, and in short to snatch her
from the hands of her infamous deceiver.
Thus I fondled my growing passion.
I laughed at the absurd title the rascal had given himself, and when the
thought struck me that he had possibly abandoned her to me altogether, I
made up my mind that he deserved hanging. Nevertheless, I resolved never
to leave her.
I lay down on the bed, and as I built a thousand castles in the air I
The landlady awoke me softly, saying that three o'clock had struck.
"Wait a moment before you bring in the dinner. I will go and see if the
lady is awake."
I opened the door gently, and saw she was still asleep, but as I closed
the door after me the noise awoke her, and she asked if I had dined.
"I shall not take any dinner, madam, unless you do me the honour to dine
with me. You have had a five hours' rest, and I hope you are better."
"I will sit down with you to dinner, as you wish it."
"That makes me happy, and I will order dinner to be served forthwith."
She ate little, but what little she did eat was taken with a good
appetite. She was agreeably surprised to see the beefsteaks and plum
pudding, which I had ordered for her.
When the landlady came in, she asked her if the cook was an Englishman,
and when she heard that I had given directions for the preparation of her
national dishes, she seemed full of gratitude. She cheered up, and
congratulated me on my appetite, while I encouraged her to drink some
excellent Montepulciano and Montefiascone. By dessert she was in good
spirits, while I felt rather excited. She told me, in Italian, that she
was born in London, and I thought I should have died with joy, in reply
to my question whether she knew Madame Cornelis, she replied that she had
known her daughter as they had been at school together.
"Has Sophie grown tall?"
"No, she is quite small, but she is very pretty, and so clever."
"She must now be seventeen."
"Exactly. We are of the same age."
As she said this she blushed and lowered her eyes.
"Are you ill?"
"Not at all. I scarcely like to say it, but Sophie is the very image of
"Why should you hesitate to say so? It has been remarked to me before.
No doubt it is a mere coincidence. How long ago is it since you have
"Eighteen months; she went back to her mother's, to be married as it was
said, but I don't know to whom."
"Your news interests me deeply."
The landlord brought me the bill, and I saw a note of three pains which
her husband had spent on himself and his horse.
"He said you would pay," observed the landlord.
The Englishwoman blushed. I paid the bill, and we went on.
I was delighted to see her blushing, it proved she was not a party to her
I was burning with the desire to know how she had left London and had met
the Frenchman, and why they were going to Rome; but I did not want to
trouble her by my questions, and I loved her too well already to give her
We had a three hours' drive before us, so I turned the conversation to
Sophie, with whom she had been at school.
"Was Miss Nancy Steyne there when you left?" said I.
The reader may remember how fond I had been of this young lady, who had
dined with me, and whom I had covered with kisses, though she was only
My companion sighed at hearing the name of Nancy, and told me that she
"Was she pretty when you knew her?"
"She was a beauty, but her loveliness was a fatal gift to her. Nancy was
a close friend of mine, we loved each other tenderly; and perhaps our
sympathy arose from the similarity of the fate in store for us. Nancy,
too loving and too simple, is now, perhaps, even more unhappy than
"More unhappy? What do you mean?"
"Is it possible that fate has treated you harshly? Is it possible that
you can be unhappy with such a letter of commendation as nature has given
"Alas! let us speak of something else."
Her countenance was suffused with emotion. I pitied her in secret, and
led the conversation back to Nancy.
"Tell me why you think Nancy is unhappy."
"She ran away with a young man she loved; they despaired of gaining the
parents' consent to the match. Since her flight nothing has been heard
of her, and you see I have some reason to fear that she is unhappy."
"You are right. I would willingly give my life if it could be the saving
"Where did you know her?"
"In my own house. She and Sophie dined with me, and her father came in
at the end of the meal."
"Now I know who you are. How often have I heard Sophie talking of you.
Nancy loved you as well as her father. I heard that you had gone to
Russia, and had fought a duel with a general in Poland. Is this true?
How I wish I could tell dear Sophie all this, but I may not entertain
such hopes now."
"You have heard the truth about me; but what should prevent you writing
what you like to England? I take a lively interest in you, trust in me,
and I promise you that you shall communicate with whom you please."
"I am vastly obliged to you."
With these words she became silent, and I left her to her thoughts.
At seven o'clock we arrived at St. Quirico, and the so-called Comte de
l'Etoile came out and welcomed his wife in the most loving fashion,
kissing her before everybody, no doubt with the object of giving people
to understand that she was his wife, and I her father.
The girl responded to all his caresses, looking as if a load had been
lifted off her breast, and without a word of reproach she went upstairs
with him, having apparently forgotten my existence. I set that down to
love, youth, and the forgetfulness natural to that early age.
I went upstairs in my turn with my carpet bag, and supper was served
directly, as we had to start very early the next morning if we wished to
reach Radicofani before the noonday heat.
We had an excellent supper, as the count had preceded us by six hours,
and the landlord had had plenty of time to make his preparations. The
English girl seemed as much in love with de l'Etoile as he with her, and
I was left completely out in the cold. I cannot describe the high
spirits, the somewhat risky sallies, and the outrageous humours of the
young gentleman; the girl laughed with all her heart, and I could not
help laughing too.
I considered that I was present at a kind of comedy, and not a gesture,
not a word, not a laugh did I allow to escape me.
"He may be merely a rich and feather-brained young officer," I said to
myself, "who treats everything in this farcical manner. He won't be the
first of the species I have seen. They are amusing, but frivolous, and
sometimes dangerous, wearing their honour lightly, and too apt to carry
it at the sword's point."
On this hypothesis I was ill pleased with my position. I did not much
like his manner towards myself; he seemed to be making a dupe of me, and
behaved all the while as if he were doing me an honour.
On the supposition that the Englishwoman was his wife, his treatment of
myself was certainly not warranted, and I was not the man to play zero.
I could not disguise the fact, however, that any onlooker would have
pronounced me to be playing an inferior part.
There were two beds in the room where we had our supper. When the
chambermaid came to put on the sheets, I told her to give me another
room. The count politely begged me to sleep in the same room with them,
and the lady remained neutral; but I did not much care for their company,
and insisted on leaving them alone.
I had my carpet bag taken to my room, wished them a good night and locked
myself in. My friends had only one small trunk, whence I concluded that
they had sent on their luggage by another way; but they did not even have
the trunk brought up to their room. I went to bed tranquilly, feeling
much less interested about the lady than I had been on the journey.
I was roused early in the morning, and made a hasty toilette. I could
hear my neighbours dressing, so I half opened my door, and wished them
good day without going into their room.
In a quarter of an hour I heard the sound of a dispute in the court-yard,
and on looking out, there were the Frenchman and the vetturino arguing
hotly. The vetturino held the horse's bridle, and the pretended count
did his best to snatch it away from him.
I guessed the bone of contention: the Frenchman had no money, and the
vetturino asked in vain for his due. I knew that I should be drawn into
the dispute, and was making up my mind to do my duty without mercy, when
the Count de l'Etoile came in and said,--
"This blockhead does not understand what I say to him; but as he may have
right on his side, I must ask you to give him two sequins. I will return
you the money at Rome. By an odd chance I happen to have no money about
me, but the fellow might trust me as he has got my trunk. However, he
says he must be paid, so will you kindly oblige me? You shall hear more
of me at Rome."
Without waiting for me to reply, the rascal went out and ran down the
stairs. The vetturino remained in the room. I put my head out of the
window, and saw him leap on horseback and gallop away.
I sat down on my bed, and turned the scene over in my mind, rubbing my
hands gently. At last I went off into a mad roar of laughter; it struck
me as so whimsical and original an adventure.
"Laugh too," said I to the lady, "laugh or I will never get up."
"I agree with you that it's laughable enough, but I have not the spirit
"Well, sit down at all events."
I gave the poor devil of a vetturino two sequins, telling him that I
should like some coffee and to start in a quarter of an hour.
I was grieved to see my companion's sadness.
"I understand your grief," said I, "but you must try to overcome it. I
have only one favour to ask of you, and if you refuse to grant me that, I
shall be as sad as you, so we shall be rather a melancholy couple."
"What can I do for you?"
"You can tell me on your word of honour whether that extraordinary
character is your husband, or only your lover."
"I will tell you the simple truth; he is not my husband, but we are going
to be married at Rome."
"I breathe again. He never shall be your husband, and so much the better
for you. He has seduced you, and you love him, but you will soon get
"Never, unless he deceives me."
"He has deceived you already. I am sure he has told you that he is rich,
that he is a man of rank, and that he will make you happy; and all that
is a lie."
"How can you know all this?"
"Experience--experience is my great teacher. Your lover is a young
feather-brain, a man of no worth. He might possibly marry you, but it
would be only to support himself by the sale of your charms."
"He loves me; I am sure of it."
"Yes, he loves you, but not with the love of a man of honour. Without
knowing my name, or my character, or anything about me, he delivered you
over to my tender mercies. A man of any delicacy would never abandon his
loved one thus."
"He is not jealous. You know Frenchmen are not."
"A man of honour is the same in France, and England, and Italy, and all
the world over. If he loved you, would he have left you penniless in
this fashion? What would you do, if I were inclined to play the brutal
lover? You may speak freely."
"I should defend myself."
"Very good; then I should abandon you here, and what would you do then?
You are pretty, you are a woman of sensibility, but many men would take
but little account of your virtue. Your lover has left you to me; for
all he knew I might be the vilest wretch; but as it is, cheer up, you
have nothing to fear.
"How can you think that adventurer loves you? He is a mere monster. I
am sorry that what I say makes you weep, but it must be said. I even
dare tell you that I have taken a great liking to you; but you may feel
quite sure that I shall not ask you to give me so much as a kiss, and I
will never abandon you. Before we get to Rome I shall convince you that
the count, as he calls himself, not only does not love you, but is a
common swindler as well as a deceiver."
"You will convince me of that?"
"Yes, on my word of honour! Dry your eyes, and let us try to make this
day pass as pleasantly as yesterday. You cannot imagine how glad I feel
that chance has constituted me your protector. I want you to feel
assured of my friendship, and if you do not give me a little love in
return, I will try and bear it patiently."
The landlord came in and brought the bill for the count and his mistress
as well as for myself. I had expected this, and paid it without a word,
and without looking at the poor wandering sheep beside me. I recollected
that too strong medicines kill, and do not cure, and I was afraid I had
said almost too much.
I longed to know her history, and felt sure I should hear it before we
reached Rome. We took some coffee and departed, and not a word passed
between us till we got to the inn at La Scala, where we got down.
The road from La Scala to Radicofani is steep and troublesome. The
vetturino would require an extra horse, and even then would have taken
four hours. I decided, therefore, to take two post horses, and not to
begin the journey till ten o'clock.
"Would it not be better to go on now?" said the English girl; "it will be
very hot from ten till noon."
"Yes, but the Comte de l'Ltoile, whom we should be sure to meet at
Radicofani, would not like to see me."
"Why not? I am sure he would."
If I had told her my reason she would have wept anew, so in pity I spared
her. I saw that she was blinded by love, and could not see the true
character of her lover. It would be impossible to cure her by gentle and
persuasive argument; I must speak sharply, the wound must be subjected to
the actual cautery. But was virtue the cause of all this interest? Was
it devotion to a young and innocent girl that made me willing to
undertake so difficult and so delicate a task? Doubtless these motives
went for something, but I will not attempt to strut in borrowed plumes,
and must freely confess that if she had been ugly and stupid I should
probably have left her to her fate. In short, selfishness was at the
bottom of it all, so let us say no more about virtue.
My true aim was to snatch this delicate morsel from another's hand that I
might enjoy it myself. I did not confess as much to myself, for I could
never bear to calmly view my own failings, but afterwards I came to the
conclusion that I acted a part throughout. Is selfishness, then, the
universal motor of our actions? I am afraid it is.
I made Betty (such was her name) take a country walk with me, and the
scenery there is so beautiful that no poet nor painter could imagine a
more delicious prospect. Betty spoke Tuscan with English idioms and an
English accent, but her voice was so silvery and clear that her Italian
was delightful to listen to. I longed to kiss her lips as they spoke so
sweetly, but I respected her and restrained myself.
We were walking along engaged in agreeable converse, when all at once we
heard the church bells peal out. Betty said she had never seen a
Catholic service, and I was glad to give her that pleasure. It was the
feast day of some local saint, and Betty assisted at high mass with all
propriety, imitating the gestures of the people, so that no one would
have taken her for a Protestant. After it was over, she said she thought
the Catholic rite was much more adapted to the needs of loving souls than
the Angelican. She was astonished at the southern beauty of the village
girls, whom she pronounced to be much handsomer that the country lasses
in England. She asked me the time, and I replied without thinking that I
wondered she had not got a watch. She blushed and said the count had
asked her to give it him to leave in pawn for the horse he hired.
I was sorry for what I had said, for I had put Betty, who was incapable
of a lie, to great pain.
We started at ten o'clock with three horses, and as a cool wind was
blowing we had a pleasant drive, arriving at Radicofani at noon.
The landlord, who was also the postmaster, asked if I would pay three
pauls which the Frenchman had expended for his horse and himself,
assuring the landlord that his friend would pay.
For Betty's sake I said I would pay; but this was not all.
"The gentleman," added the man, "has beaten three of my postillions with
his naked sword. One of them was wounded in the face, and he has
followed his assailant, and will make him pay dearly for it. The reason
of the assault was that they wanted to detain him till he had paid."
"You were wrong to allow violence to be used; he does not look like a
thief, and you might have taken it for granted that I should pay."
"You are mistaken; I was not obliged to take anything of the sort for
granted; I have been cheated in this sort many times before. Your dinner
is ready if you want any."
Poor Betty was in despair. She observed a distressed silence; and I
tried to raise her spirits, and to make her eat a good dinner, and to
taste the excellent Muscat, of which the host had provided an enormous
All my efforts were in vain, so I called the vetturino to tell him that I
wanted to start directly after dinner. This order acted on Betty like
"You mean to go as far as Centino, I suppose," said the man. "We had
better wait there till the heat is over."
"No, we must push on, as the lady's husband may be in need of help. The
wounded postillion has followed him; and as he speaks Italian very
imperfectly, there's no knowing what may happen to him."
"Very good; we will go off."
Betty looked at me with the utmost gratitude; and by way of proving it,
she pretended to have a good appetite. She had noticed that this was a
certain way of pleasing me.
While we were at dinner I ordered up one of the beaten postillions, and
heard his story. He was a frank rogue; he said he had received some
blows with the flat of the sword, but he boasted of having sent a stone
after the Frenchman which must have made an impression on him.
I gave him a Paul, and promised to make it a crown if he would go to
Centino to bear witness against his comrade, and he immediately began to
speak up for the count, much to Betty's amusement. He said the man's
wound in the face was a mere scratch, and that he had brought it on
himself, as he had no business to oppose a traveller as he had done. By
way of comfort he told us that the Frenchman had only been hit by two or
three stones. Betty did not find this very consoling, but I saw that the
affair was more comic than tragic, and would end in nothing. The
postillion went off, and we followed him in half an hour.
Betty was tranquil enough till we got there, and heard that the count had
gone on to Acquapendente with the two postillions at his heels; she
seemed quite vexed. I told her that all would be well; that the count
knew how to defend himself; but she only answered me with a deep sigh.
I suspected that she was afraid we should have to pass the night
together, and that I would demand some payment for all the trouble I had
"Would you like us to go on to Acquapendente?" I asked her.
At this question her face beamed all over; she opened her arms, and I
I called the vetturino, and told him. I wanted to go on to Acquapendente
The fellow replied that his horses were in the stable, and that he was
not going to put them in; but that I could have post horses if I liked.
"Very good. Get me two horses immediately."
It is my belief that, if I had liked, Betty would have given me
everything at that moment, for she let herself fall into my arms. I
pressed her tenderly and kissed her, and that was all She seemed grateful
for my self-restraint.
The horses were put in, and after I had paid the landlord for the supper,
which he swore he had prepared for us, we started.
We reached Acquapendente in three quarters of an hour, and we found the
madcap count in high spirits. He embraced his Dulcinea with transports,
and Betty seemed delighted to find him safe and sound. He told us
triumphantly that he had beaten the rascally postillions, and had warded
their stones off.
"Where's the slashed postillion?" I asked.
"He is drinking to my health with his comrade; they have both begged my
"Yes," said Betty, "this gentleman gave him a crown."
"What a pity! You shouldn't have given them anything."
Before supper the Comte de l'Etoile skewed us the bruises on his thighs
and side; the rascal was a fine well-made fellow. However, Betty's
adoring airs irritated me, though I was consoled at the thought of the
earnest I had received from her.
Next day, the impudent fellow told me that he would order us a good
supper at Viterbo, and that of course I would lend him a sequin to pay
for his dinner at Montefiascone. So saying, he skewed me in an off-hand
way a bill of exchange on Rome for three thousand crowns.
I did not trouble to read it, and gave him the sequin, though I felt sure
I should never see it again.
Betty now treated me quite confidentially, and I felt I might ask her
almost any questions.
When we were at Montefiascone she said,--
"You see my lover is only without money by chance; he has a bill of
exchange for a large amount."
"I believe it to be a forgery."
"You are really too cruel."
"Not at all; I only wish I were mistaken, but I am sure of the contrary.
Twenty years ago I should have taken it for a good one, but now it's
another thing, and if the bill is a good one, why did he not negotiate it
at Sienna, Florence, or Leghorn?"
"It may be that be had not the time; he was in such a hurry to be gone.
Ah! if you knew all!"
"I only want to know what you like to tell me, but I warn you again that
what I say is no vague suspicion but hard fact."
"Then you persist in the idea that he does not love me."
"Nay, he loves you, but in such a fashion as to deserve hatred in
"How do you mean?"
"Would you not hate a man who loved you only to traffic in your charms?"
"I should be sorry for you to think that of him."
"If you like, I will convince you of what I say this evening."
"You will oblige me; but I must have some positive proof. It would be a
sore pain to me, but also a true service."
"And when you are convinced, will you cease to love him?"
"Certainly; if you prove him to be dishonest, my love will vanish away."
"You are mistaken; you will still love him, even when you have had proof
positive of his wickedness. He has evidently fascinated you in a deadly
manner, or you would see his character in its true light before this."
"All this may be true; but do you give me your proofs, and leave to me
the care of shewing that I despise him."
"I will prove my assertions this evening; but tell me how long you have
"About a month; but we have only been together for five days."
"And before that time you never accorded him any favours?"
"Not a single kiss. He was always under my windows, and I had reason to
believe that he loved me fondly."
"Oh, yes! he loves you, who would not? but his love is not that of a man
of honour, but that of an impudent profligate."
"But how can you suspect a man of whom you know nothing?"
"Would that I did not know him! I feel sure that not being able to visit
you, he made you visit him, and then persuaded you to fly with him."
"Yes, he did. He wrote me a letter, which I will shew you. He promises
to marry me at Rome."
"And who is to answer for his constancy?"
"His love is my surety."
"Do you fear pursuit?"
"Did he take you from a father, a lover, or a brother?"
"From a lover, who will not be back at Leghorn for a week or ten days."
"Where has he gone?"
"To London on business; I was under the charge of a woman whom he
"That's enough; I pity you, my poor Betty. Tell me if you love your
Englishman, and if he is worthy of your love."
"Alas! I loved him dearly till I saw this Frenchman, who made me
unfaithful to a man I adored. He will be in despair at not finding me
when he returns."
"Is he rich?"
"Not very; he is a business man, and is comfortably off."
"Is he young?"
"No. He is a man of your age, and a thoroughly kind and honest person.
He was waiting for his comsumptive wife to die to marry me."
"Poor man! Have you presented him with a child?"
"No. I am sure God did not mean me for him, for the count has conquered
"Everyone whom love leads astray says the same thing."
"Now you have heard everything, and I am glad I told you, for I am sure
you are my friend."
"I will be a better friend to you, dear Betty, in the future than in the
past. You will need my services, and I promise not to abandon you. I
love you, as I have said; but so long as you continue to love the
Frenchman I shall only ask you to consider me as your friend."
"I accept your promise, and in return I promise not to hide anything from
"Tell me why you have no luggage."
"I escaped on horseback, but my trunk, which is full of linen and other
effects, will be at Rome two days after us. I sent it off the day before
my escape, and the man who received it was sent by the count."
"Then good-bye to your trunk!"
"Why, you foresee nothing but misfortune!"
"Well, dear Betty, I only wish my prophecies may not be accomplished.
Although you escaped on horseback I think you should have brought a cloak
and a carpet bag with some linen."
"All that is in the small trunk; I shall have it taken into my room
We reached Viterbo at seven o'clock, and found the count very cheerful.
In accordance with the plot I had laid against the count, I began by
shewing myself demonstratively fond of Betty, envying the fortunate
lover, praising his heroic behaviour in leaving her to me, and so forth.
The silly fellow proceeded to back me up in my extravagant admiration.
He boasted that jealousy was utterly foreign to his character, and
maintained that the true lover would accustom himself to see his mistress
inspire desires in other men.
He proceeded to make a long dissertation on this theme, and I let him go
on, for I was waiting till after supper to come to the conclusive point.
During the meal I made him drink, and applauded his freedom from vulgar
prejudices. At dessert he enlarged on the duty of reciprocity between
"Thus," he remarked, "Betty ought to procure me the enjoyment of Fanny,
if she has reason to think I have taken a fancy to her; and per contra,
as I adore Betty, if I found that she loved you I should procure her the
pleasure of sleeping with you."
Betty listened to all this nonsense in silent astonishment.
"I confess, my dear count," I replied, "that, theoretically speaking,
your system strikes me as sublime, and calculated to bring about the
return of the Golden Age; but I am afraid it would prove absurd in
practice. No doubt you are a man of courage, but I am sure you would
never let your mistress be enjoyed by another man. Here are twenty-five
sequins. I will wager that amount that you will not allow me to sleep
with your wife."
"Ha! ha! You are mistaken in me, I assure you. I'll bet fifty sequins
that I will remain in the room a calm spectator of your exploits. My
dear Betty, we must punish this sceptic; go to bed with him."
"You are joking."
"Not at all; to bed with you, I shall love you all the more."
"You must be crazy, I shall do nothing of the kind."
The count took her in his arms, and caressing her in the tenderest manner
begged her to do him this favour, not so much for the twenty-five Louis,
as to convince me that he was above vulgar prejudices. His caresses
became rather free, but Betty repulsed him gently though firmly, saying
that she would never consent, and that he had already won the bet, which
was the case; in fine the poor girl besought him to kill her rather than
oblige her to do a deed which she thought infamous.
Her words, and the pathetic voice with which they were uttered, should
have shamed him, but they only put him into a furious rage. He repulsed
her, calling her the vilest names, and finally telling her that she was
a hypocrite, and he felt certain she had already granted me all a
worthless girl could grant.
Betty grew pale as death, and furious in my turn, I ran for my sword. I
should probably have run him through, if the infamous scoundrel had not
fled into the next room, where he locked himself in.
I was in despair at seeing Betty's distress, of which I had been the
innocent cause, and I did my best to soothe her.
She was in an alarming state. Her breath came with difficulty, her eyes
seemed ready to start out of her head, her lips were bloodless and
trembling, and her teeth shut tight together. Everyone in the inn was
asleep. I could not call for help, and all I could do was to dash water
in her face, and speak soothing words.
At last she fell asleep, and I remained beside her for more than two
hours, attentive to her least movements, and hoping that she would awake
strengthened and refreshed.
At day-break I heard l'Etoile going off, and I was glad of it. The
people of the inn knocked at our door, and then Betty awoke.
"Are you ready to go, my dear Betty?"
"I am much better, but I should so like a cup of tea."
The Italians cannot make tea, so I took what she gave me, and went to
prepare it myself.
When I came back I found her inhaling the fresh morning air at the
window. She seemed calm, and I hoped I had cured her. She drank a few
cups of tea (of which beverage the English are very fond), and soon
regained her good looks.
She heard some people in the room where we had supped, and asked me if I
had taken up the purse which I had placed on the table. I had forgotten
I found my purse and a piece of paper bearing the words, "bill of
exchange for three thousand crowns." The impostor had taken it out of
his pocket in making his bet, and had forgotten it. It was dated at
Bordeaux, drawn on a wine merchant at Paris to l'Etoile's order. It was
payable at sight, and was for six months. The whole thing was utterly
I took it to Betty, who told me she knew nothing about bills, and begged
me to say nothing more about that infamous fellow. She then said, in a
voice of which I can give no idea,--
"For pity's sake do not abandon a poor girl, more worthy of compassion
I promised her again to have all a father's care for her, and soon after
we proceeded on our journey.
The poor girl fell asleep, and I followed her example. We were awoke by
the vetturino who informed us, greatly to our astonishment, that we were
at Monterosi. We had slept for six hours, and had done eighteen miles.
We had to stay at Monterosi till four o'clock, and we were glad of it,
for we needed time for reflection.
In the first place I asked about the wretched deceiver, and was told that
he had made a slight meal, paid for it, and said he was going to spend
the night at La Storta.
We made a good dinner, and Betty plucking up a spirit said we must
consider the case of her infamous betrayer, but for the last time.
"Be a father to me," said she; "do not advise but command; you may reckon
on my obedience. I have no need to give you any further particulars, for
you have guessed all except the horror with which the thought of my
betrayer now inspires me. If it had not been for you, he would have
plunged me into an abyss of shame and misery."
"Can you reckon on the Englishman forgiving you?"
"I think so."
"Then we must go back to Leghorn. Are you strong enough to follow this
counsel? I warn you that if you approve of it, it must be put into
execution at once. Young, pretty, and virtuous as you are, you need not
imagine that I shall allow you to go by yourself, or in the company of
strangers. If you think I love you, and find me worthy of your esteem,
that is sufficient regard for me. I will live with you like a father, if
you are not in a position to give me marks of a more ardent affection.
Be sure I will keep faith with you, for I want to redeem your opinion of
men, and to shew you that there are men as honourable as your seducer was
Betty remained for a quarter of an hour in profound silence, her head
resting on her elbows, and her eyes fixed on mine. She did not seem
either angry or astonished, but as far as I could judge was lost in
thought. I was glad to see her reflective, for thus she would be able to
give me a decided answer: At last she said:
"You need not think, my dear friend, that my silence proceeds from
irresolution. If my mind were not made up already I should despise
myself. I am wise enough at any rate to appreciate the wisdom of your
generous counsels. I thank Providence that I have fallen into the hands
of such a man who will treat me as if I were his daughter."
"Then we will go back to Leghorn, and start immediately."
"My only doubt is how to manage my reconcilliation with Sir B---- M----.
I have no doubt he will pardon me eventually; but though he is tender and
good-hearted he is delicate where a point of honour is concerned, and
Subject to sudden fits of violence. This is what I want to avoid; for he
might possibly kill me, and then I should be the cause of his ruin."
"You must consider it on the way, and tell me any plans you may think
"He is an intelligent man, and it would be hopeless to endeavour to dupe
him by a lie. I must make a full confession in writing without hiding a
single circumstance; for if he thought he was being duped his fury would
be terrible. If you will write to him you must not say that you think me
worthy of forgiveness; you must tell him the facts and leave him to judge
for himself. He will be convinced of my repentance when he reads the
letter I shall bedew with my tears, but he must not know of my
whereabouts till he has promised to forgive me. He is a slave to his
word of honour, and we shall live together all our days without my ever
hearing of this slip. I am only sorry that I have behaved so foolishly."
"You must not be offended if I ask you whether you have ever given him
like cause for complaint before."
"What is his history?"
"He lived very unhappily with his first wife; and he was divorced from
his second wife for sufficient reasons. Two years ago he came to our
school with Nancy's father, and made my acquaintance. My father died,
his creditors seized everything, and I had to leave the school, much to
Nancy's distress and that of the other pupils. At this period Sir B----
M---- took charge of me, and gave me a sum which placed me beyond the
reach of, want for the rest of my days. I was grateful, and begged him
to take me with him when he told me he was leaving England. He was
astonished; and, like a man of honour, said he loved me too well to
flatter himself that we could travel together without his entertaining
more ardent feelings for me than those of a father. He thought it out of
the question for me to love him, save as a daughter.
"This declaration, as you may imagine, paved the way for a full
"'However you love me,' I said, 'I shall be well pleased, and if I can do
anything for you I shall be all the happier.'
"He then gave me of his own free will a written promise to marry me on
the death of his wife. We started on our travels, and till my late
unhappy connection I never gave him the slightest cause for complaint."
"Dry your eyes, dear Betty, he is sure to forgive you. I have friends at
Leghorn, and no one shall find out that we have made acquaintance. I
will put you in good hands, and I shall not leave the town till I hear
you are back with Sir B---- M-----. If he prove inexorable I promise
never to abandon you, and to take you back to England if you like."
"But how can you spare the time?"
"I will tell you the truth, my dear Betty. I have nothing particular to
do at Rome, or anywhere else. London and Rome are alike to me."
"How can I shew my gratitude to you?"
I summoned the vetturino, and told him we must return to Viterbo. He
objected, but I convinced him with a couple of piastres, and by agreeing
to use the post horses and to spare his own animals.
We got to Viterbo by seven o'clock, and asked anxiously if no one had
found a pocket-book which I pretended I had lost. I was told no such
thing had been found, so I ordered supper with calmness, although
bewailing my loss. I told Betty that I acted in this sort to obviate any
difficulties which the vetturino might make about taking us back to
Sienna, as he might feel it his duty to place her in the hands of her
supposed husband. I had up the small trunk, and after we had forced the
lock Betty took out her cloak and the few effects she had in it, and we
then inspected the adventurer's properties, most likely all he possessed
in the world. A few tattered shirts, two or three pairs of mended silk
stockings, a pair of breeches, a hare's foot, a pot of grease, and a
score of little books-plays or comic operas, and lastly a packet of
letters; such were the contents of the trunk.
We proceeded to read the letters, and the first thing we noted was the
address: "To M. L'Etoile, Actor, at Marseilles, Bordeaux, Bayonne,
I pitied Betty. She saw herself the dupe of a vile actor, and her
indignation and shame were great.
"We will read it all to-morrow," said I; "to-day we have something else
The poor girl seemed to breathe again.
We got over our supper hastily, and then Betty begged me to leave her
alone for a few moments for her to change her linen and go to bed.
"If you like," said I, "I will have a bed made up for me in the next
"No, dear friend, ought I not to love your society? What would have
become of me without you?"
I went out for a few minutes, and when I returned and came to her bedside
to wish her good night, she gave me such a warm embrace that I knew my
hour was come.
Reader, you must take the rest for granted. I was happy, and I had
reason to believe that Betty was happy also.
In the morning, we had just fallen asleep, when the vettuyino knocked at
I dressed myself hastily to see him.
"Listen," I said, "it is absolutely necessary for me to recover my
pocket-book, and I hope to find it at Acquapendente."
"Very good, sir, very good," said the rogue, a true Italian, "pay me as
if I had taken you to Rome, and a sequin a day for the future, and if you
like, I will take you to England on those terms."
The vetturino was evidently what is called wide awake. I gave him his
money, and we made a new agreement. At seven o'clock we stopped at
Montefiascone to write to Sir B---- M---- , she in English, and I in
Betty had now an air of satisfaction and assurance which I found
charming. She said she was full of hope, and seemed highly amused at the
thought of the figure which the actor would cut when he arrived at Rome
by himself. She hoped that we should come across the man in charge of
her trunk, and that we should have no difficulty in getting it back.
"He might pursue us."
"He dare not do so."
"I expect not, but if he does I will give him a warm welcome. If he does
not take himself off I will blow out his brains."
Before I began my letter to Sir B---- M----. Betty again warned me to
conceal nothing from him.
"Not even the reward you gave me?"
"Oh, yes! That is a little secret between ourselves."
In less than three hours the letters were composed and written. Betty
was satisfied with my letter; and her own, which she translated for my
benefit, was a perfect masterpiece of sensibility, which seemed to me
certain of success.
I thought of posting from Sienna, to ensure her being in a place of
safety before the arrival of her lover.
The only thing that troubled me was the bill of exchange left behind by
l'Etoile, for whether it were true or false, I felt bound to deal with it
in some way, but I could not see how it was to be done.
We set out again after dinner in spite of the heat, and arrived at
Acquapendente in the evening and spent the night in the delights of
As I was getting up in the morning I saw a carriage in front of the inn,
just starting for Rome. I imagined that amidst the baggage Betty's trunk
might be discovered, and I told her to get up, and see if it were there.
We went down, and Betty recognized the trunk she had confided to her
We begged the vetturino to restore it to us, but he was inflexible; and
as he was in the right we had to submit. The only thing he could do was
to have an embargo laid on the trunk at Rome, the said embargo to last
for a month. A notary was called, and our claim properly drawn up. The
vetturino, who seemed an honest and intelligent fellow, assured us he had
received nothing else belonging to the Comte de l'Etoile, so we were
assured that the actor was a mere beggar on the lookout for pickings, and
that the rags in the small trunk were all his possessions.
After this business had been dispatched Betty brightened up amazingly.
"Heaven," she exclaimed, "is arranging everything. My mistake will serve
as a warning to me for the future, for the lesson has been a severe one,
and might have been much worse if I had not had the good fortune of
"I congratulate you," I replied, "on having cured yourself so quickly of
a passion that had deprived you of your reason."
"Ah! a woman's reason is a fragile thing. I shudder when I think of the
monster; but I verily believe that I should not have regained my senses
if he had not called me a hypocrite, and said that he was certain I had
already granted you my favours. These infamous words opened my eyes, and
made me see my shame. I believe I would have helped you to pierce him to
the heart if the coward had not run away. But I am glad he did run away,
not for his sake but for ours, for we should have been in an unpleasant
position if he had been killed."
"You are right; he escaped my sword because he is destined for the rope."
"Let him look to that himself, but I am sure he will never dare to shew
his face before you or me again."
We reached Radicofani at ten o'clock, and proceeded to write postscripts
to our letters to Sir B---- M---- We were sitting at the same table,
Betty opposite to the door and I close to it, so that anyone coming in
could not have seen me without turning round.
Betty was dressed with all decency and neatness, but I had taken off my
coat on account of the suffocating heat. Nevertheless, though I was in
shirt sleeves, I should not have been ashamed of my attire before the
most respectable woman in Italy.
All at once I heard a rapid step coming along the passage, and the door
was dashed open. A furious-looking man came in, and, seeing Betty, cried
"Ah! there you are."
I did not give him time to turn round and see me, but leapt upon him and
seized him by the shoulders. If I had not done so he would have shot me
dead on the spot.
As I leapt upon him I had involuntarily closed the door, and as he cried,
"Let me go, traitor!" Betty fell on her knees before him, exclaiming,
"No, no! he is my preserver."
Sir B---- M---- was too mad with rage to pay any attention to her,
and kept on,---
"Let me go, traitors"
As may be imagined, I did not pay much attention to this request so long
as the loaded pistol was in his hand.
In our struggles he at last fell to the ground and I on top of him.
The landlord and his people had heard the uproar, and were trying to get
in; but as we had fallen against the door they could not do so.
Betty had the presence of mind to snatch the pistol from his hand, and I
then let him go, calmly observing,
"Sir, you are labouring under a delusion."
Again Betty threw herself on her knees, begging him to calm himself, as I
was her preserver not her betrayer.
"What do you mean by 'preserver'?" said B---- M----
Betty gave him the letter, saying,--
The Englishman read the letter through without rising from the ground,
and as I was certain of its effect I opened the door and told the
landlord to send his people away, and to get dinner for three, as
everything had been settled.