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Return to Naples, Casanova, v18 by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

Part 3 out of 3

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other than the horrible superintendent. I was told that I must
wait on him, and he would give me leave to remain at Turin till my
affairs were settled.

"My only business here," said I, "is to spend my money till I have
instructions from the Court of Portugal to attend the Congress of
Augsburg on behalf of his most faithful majesty."

"Then you think that this Congress will take place?"

"Nobody doubts it."

"Somebody believes it will all end in smoke. However, I am
delighted to have been of service to you, and I shall be curious
to hear what sort of reception you get from the superintendent."

I felt ill at ease. I went to the police office immediately, glad
to shew myself victorious, and anxious to see how the
superintendent would look when I came in. However, I could not
flatter myself that he looked ashamed of himself; these people
have a brazen forehead, and do not know what it is to blush.

As soon as he saw me, he began,--

"The Chevalier Osorio tells me that you have business in Turin
which will keep you for some days. You may therefore stay, but
you must tell me as nearly as possible how long a time you

"I cannot possibly tell you that."

"Why? if you don't mind telling me."

"I am awaiting instructions from the Court of Portugal to attend
the Congress to be held at Augsburg, and before I could tell you
how long I shall have to stay I should be compelled to ask his
most faithful majesty. If this time is not sufficient for me to
do my business, I will intimate the fact to you."

"I shall be much obliged by your doing so."

This time I made him a bow, which was returned, and on leaving the
office I returned to the Chevalier Osorio, who said, with a smile,
that I had caught the superintendent, as I had taken an indefinite
period, which left me quite at my ease.

The diplomatic Gama, who firmly believed that the Congress would
meet, was delighted when I told him that the Chevalier Osorio was
incredulous on the subject. He was charmed to think his wit
keener than the minister's; it exalted him in his own eyes. I
told him that whatever the chevalier might say I would go to
Augsburg, and that I would set out in three or four weeks.

Madame R. congratulated me over and over again, for she was
enchanted that I had humiliated the superintendent; but all the
same we thought we had better give up our little suppers. As I
had had a taste of all her girls, this was not such a great
sacrifice for me to make.

I continued thus till the middle of May, when I left Turin, after
receiving letters from the Abbe Gama to Lord Stormont, who was to
represent England at the approaching Congress. It was with this
nobleman that I was to work in concert at the Congress.

Before going to Germany I wanted to see Madame d'Urfe, and I wrote
to her, asking her to send me a letter of introduction to M. de
Rochebaron, who might be useful to me. I also asked M. Raiberti
to give me a letter for Chamberi, where I wanted to visit the
divine M---- M---- (of whom I still thought with affection) at her
convent grating. I wrote to my friend Valenglard, asking him to
remind Madame Morin that she had promised to shew me a likeness to
somebody at Chamberi.

But here I must note down an event worthy of being recorded, which
was extremely prejudicial to me.

Five or six days before my departure Desarmoises came to me
looking very downcast, and told me that he had been ordered to
leave Turin in twenty-four hours.

"Do you know why?" I asked him.

"Last night when I was at the coffee-house, Count Scarnafis dared
to say that France subsidised the Berne newspapers. I told him he
lied, at which he rose and left the place in a rage, giving me a
glance the meaning of which is not doubtful. I followed him to
bring him to reason or to give him satisfaction; but he would do
nothing and I suspect he went to the police to complain. I shall
have to leave Turin early to-morrow morning."

"You're a Frenchman, and as you can claim the protection of your
ambassador you will be wrong to leave so suddenly."

"In the first place the ambassador is away, and in the second my
cruel father disavows me. No, I would rather go, and wait for you
at Lyons. All I want is for you to lend me a hundred crowns, for
which I will give you an account."

"It will be an easy account to keep," said I, "but a long time
before it is settled."

"Possibly; but if it is in my power I will shew my gratitude for
the kindnesses you have done me."

I gave him a hundred crowns and wished him a pleasant journey,
telling him that I should stop some time at Lyons.

I got a letter of credit on an Augsburg house, and three days
after I left Turin I was at Chamberi. There was only one inn
there in those days, so I was not much puzzled to choose where I
would go, but for all that I found myself very comfortable.

As I entered my room, I was struck by seeing an extremely pretty
girl coming out of an adjacent room.

"Who is that young lady?" said I to the chambermaid who was
escorting me.

"That's the wife of a young gentleman who has to keep his bed to
get cured of a sword-thrust which he received four days ago on his
way from France."

I could not look at her without feeling the sting of
concupiscence. As I was leaving my room I saw the door half open,
and I stopped short and offered my services as a neighbour. She
thanked me politely, and asked me in. I saw a handsome young man
sitting up in bed, so I went up to enquire how he felt.

"The doctor will not let him talk," said the young lady, "on
account of a sword-thrust in the chest he received at half a
league from here. We hope he will be all right in a few days, and
then we can continue our journey."

"Where are you going, madam?"

"To Geneva."

Just as I was leaving, a maid came to ask me if I would take
supper in my own room or with the lady. I laughed at her
stupidity, and said I would sup in my own apartment, adding that I
had not the honour of the lady's acquaintance.

At this the young lady said it would give her great pleasure if I
would sup with her, and the husband repeated this assurance in a
whisper. I accepted the invitation gratefully, and I thought that
they were really pleased. The lady escorted me out as far as the
stairs, and I took the liberty of kissing her hand, which in
France is a declaration of tender though respectful affection.

At the post-office I found a letter from Valenglard, telling me
that Madame Morin would wait on me at Chamberi if I would send her
a carriage, and another from Desarmoises dated from Lyons. He
told me that as he was on his way from Chamberi he had encountered
his daughter in company with a rascal who had carried her off. He
had buried his sword in his body, and would have killed them if he
had been able to stop their carriage. He suspected that they had
been staying in Chamberi, and he begged me to try and persuade his
daughter to return to Lyons; and he added that if she would not do
so I ought to oblige him by sending her back by force. He assured
me that they were not married, and he begged me to answer his
letter by express, for which purpose he sent me his address.

I guessed at once that this daughter of his was my fair neighbour,
but I did not feel at all inclined to come to the aid of the
father in the way he wished.

As soon as I got back to the inn I sent off Le Duc in a travelling
carriage to Madame Morin, whom I informed by letter that as I was
only at Chamberi for her sake I would await her convenience. This
done, I abandoned myself to the delight I felt at the romantic
adventure which fortune had put in my way.

I repeated Mdlle. Desarmoises and her ravisher, and I did not care
to enquire whether I was impelled in what I did by virtue or vice;
but I could not help perceiving that my motives were of a mixed
nature; for if I were amorous, I was also very glad to be of
assistance to two young lovers, and all the more from my knowledge
of the father's criminal passion.

On entering their room I found the invalid in the surgeon's hands.
He pronounced the wound not to be dangerous, in spite of its
depth; suppuration had taken place without setting up
inflammation--in short, the young man only wanted time and rest.
When the doctor had gone I congratulated the patient on his
condition, advising him to be careful what he ate, and to keep
silent. I then gave Mdlle. Desarmoises her father's letter, and
I said farewell for the present, telling them that I would go to
my own room till supper-time. I felt sure that she would come and
speak to me after reading her father's letter.

In a quarter of an hour she knocked timidly at my door, and when I
let her in she gave me back the letter and asked me what I thought
of doing.

"Nothing. I shall be only too happy, however, if I can be of any
service to you."

"Ah! I breathe again!"

"Could you imagine me pursuing any other line of conduct? I am
much interested in you, and will do all in my power to help you.
Are you married?"

"Not yet, but we are going to be married when we get to Geneva."

"Sit down and tell me all about yourself. I know that your father
is unhappily in love with you, and that you avoid his attentions."

"He has told you that much? I am glad of it. A year ago he came
to Lyons, and as soon as I knew he was in the town I took refuge
with a friend of my mother's, for I was aware that I could not
stay in the same house with my father for an hour without exposing
myself to the most horrible outrage. The young man in bed is the
son of a rich Geneva merchant. My father introduced him to me two
years ago, and we soon fell in love with each other. My father
went away to Marseilles, and my lover asked my mother to give me
in marriage to him; but she did not feel authorized to do so
without my father's consent. She wrote and asked him, but he
replied that he would announce his decision when he returned to
Lyons. My lover went to Geneva, and as his father approved of the
match he returned with all the necessary documents and a strong
letter of commendation from M. Tolosan. When my father came
to Lyons I escaped, as I told you, and my lover got M. Tolosan
to ask my hand for him of my father. His reply was,
'I can give no answer till she returns to my house!'

"M. Tolosan brought this reply to me, and I told him that I was
ready to obey if my mother would guarantee my safety. She
replied, however, that she knew her husband too well to dare to
have us both under the same roof. Again did M. Tolosan endeavour
to obtain my father's consent, but to no purpose. A few days
after he left Lyons, telling us that he was first going to Aix and
then to Turin, and as it was evident that he would never give his
consent my lover proposed that I should go off with him, promising
to marry me as soon as we reached Geneva. By ill luck we
travelled through Savoy, and thus met my father. As soon as he
saw us he stopped the carriage and called to me to get out. I
began to shriek, and my lover taking me in his arms to protect me
my father stabbed him in the chest. No doubt he would have killed
him, but seeing that my shrieks were bringing people to our
rescue, and probably believing that my lover was as good as dead,
he got on horseback again and rode off at full speed. I can chew
you the sword still covered with blood."

"I am obliged to answer this letter of his, and I am thinking how
I can obtain his consent."

"That's of no consequence; we can marry and be happy without it."

"True, but you ought not to despise your dower."

"Good heavens! what dower? He has no money!"

"But on the death of his father, the Marquis Desarmoises . . . "

"That's all a lie. My father has only a small yearly pension for
having served thirty years as a Government messenger. His father
has been dead these thirty years, and my mother and my sister only
live by the work they do."

I was thunderstruck at the impudence of the fellow, who, after
imposing on me so long, had himself put me in a position to
discover his deceit. I said nothing. Just then we were told that
supper was ready, and we sat at table for three hours talking the
matter over. The poor wounded man had only to listen to me to
know my feelings on the subject. His young mistress, as witty as
she was pretty, jested on the foolish passion of her father, who
had loved her madly ever since she was eleven.

"And you were always able to resist his attempts?" said I.

"Yes, whenever he pushed things too far."

"And how long did this state of things continue?"

"For two years. When I was thirteen he thought I was ripe, and
tried to gather the fruit; but I began to shriek, and escaped from
his bed stark naked, and I went to take refuge with my mother, who
from that day forth would not let me sleep with him again."

"You used to sleep with him? How could your mother allow it?"

"She never thought that there was anything criminal in his
affection for me, and I knew nothing about it. I thought that
what he did to me, and what he made me do to him, were mere

"But you have saved the little treasure?"

"I have kept it for my lover."

The poor lover, who was suffering more from the effects of hunger
than from his wounds, laughed at this speech of hers, and she ran
to him and covered his face with kisses. All this excited me
intensely. Her story had been told with too much simplicity not
to move me, especially when I had her before my eyes, for she
possessed all the attractions which a woman can have, and I almost
forgave her father for forgetting she was his daughter and falling
in love with her.

When she escorted me back to my room I made her feel my emotion,
and she began to laugh; but as my servants were close by I was
obliged to let her go.

Early next morning I wrote to her father that his daughter had
resolved not to leave her lover, who was only slightly wounded,
that they were in perfect safety and under the protection of the
law at Chamberi, and finally that having heard their story, and
judging them to be well matched, I could only approve of the
course they had taken. When I had finished I went into their room
and gave them the letter to read, and seeing the fair runaway at a
loss how to express her 'gratitude, I begged the invalid to let me
kiss her.

"Begin with me," said he, opening his arms.

My hypocritical love masked itself under the guise of paternal
affection. I embraced the lover, and then more amorously I
performed the same office for the mistress, and skewed them my
purse full of gold, telling them it was at their service. While
this was going on the surgeon came in, and I retired to my room.

At eleven o'clock Madame Morin and her daughter arrived, preceded
by Le Duc on horseback, who announced their approach by numerous
smacks of his whip. I welcomed her with open arms, thanking her
for obliging me.

The first piece of news she gave me was that Mdlle. Roman had
become mistress to Louis XV., that she lived in a beautiful house
at Passi, and that she was five months gone with child. Thus she
was in a fair way to become queen of France, as my divine oracle
had predicted.

"At Grenoble," she added, "you are the sole topic of conversation;
and I advise you not to go there unless you wish to settle in the
country, for they would never let you go. You would have all the
nobility at your feet, and above all, the ladies anxious to know
the lot of their daughters. Everybody believes in judicial
astrology now, and Valenglard triumphs. He has bet a hundred
Louis to fifty that my niece will be delivered of a young prince,
and he is certain of winning; though to be sure, if he loses,
everybody will laugh at him."

"Don't be afraid of his losing."

"Is it quite certain?"

"Has not the horoscope proved truthful in the principal
particular? If the other circumstances do not follow, I must have
made a great mistake in my calculations."

"I am delighted to hear you say so."

"I am going to Paris and I hope you will give me a letter of
introduction to Madame Varnier, so that I may have the pleasure of
seeing your niece."

"You shall have the letter to-morrow without fail."

I introduced Mdlle. Desarmoises to her under the family name of
her lover, and invited her to dine with Madame Morin and myself.
After dinner we went to the convent, and M---- M---- came down
very surprised at this unexpected visit from her aunt; but when
she saw me she had need of all her presence of mind. When her
aunt introduced me to her by name, she observed with true feminine
tact that during her stay at Aix she had seen me five or six times
at the fountain, but that I could not remember her features as she
had always worn her veil. I admired her wit as much as her
exquisite features. I thought she had grown prettier than ever,
and no doubt my looks told her as much. We spent an hour in
talking about Grenoble and her old friends, whom she gladly
recalled to her memory, and then she went to fetch a young girl
who was boarding at the convent, whom she liked and wanted to
present to her aunt.

I seized the opportunity of telling Madame Morin that I was
astonished at the likeness, that her very voice was like that of
my Venetian M---- M-----, and I begged her to obtain me the
privilege of breakfasting with her niece the next day, and of
presenting her with a dozen pounds of capital chocolate. I had
brought it with me from Genoa.

"You must make her the present yourself," said Madame Morin, "for
though she's a nun she's a woman, and we women much prefer a
present from a man's than from a woman's hand."

M---- M---- returned with the superior of the convent, two other
nuns, and the young boarder, who came from Lyons, and was
exquisitely beautiful. I was obliged to talk to all the nuns, and
Madame Morin told her niece that I wanted her to try some
excellent chocolate I had brought from Genoa, but that I hoped her
lay-sister would make it.

"Sir," said M---- M----, "kindly send me the chocolate, and to-
morrow we will breakfast together with these dear sisters."

As soon as I got back to my inn I sent the chocolate with a
respectful note, and I took supper in Madame Morin's room with her
daughter and Mdlle. Desarmoises, of whom I was feeling more and
more amorous, but I talked of M---- M---- all the time, and I
could see that the aunt suspected that the pretty nun was not
altogether a stranger to me.

I breakfasted at the convent and I remember that the chocolate,
the biscuits, and the sweetmeats were served with a nicety which
savoured somewhat of the world. When we had finished breakfast I
told M---- M---- that she would not find it so easy to give me
a dinner, with twelve persons sitting down to table, but I added
that half the company could be in the convent and half in the
parlour, separated from the convent by a light grating.

"It's a sight I should like to see," said I, "if you will allow me
to pay all expenses."

"Certainly," replied M---- M-----, and this dinner was fixed for
the next day.

M---- M---- took charge of the whole thing, and promised to ask
six nuns. Madame Morin, who knew my tastes, told her to spare
nothing, and I warned her that I would send in the necessary

I escorted Madame Morin, her daughter, and Mdlle. Desarmoises back
to the hotel, and I then called on M. Magnan, to whom I had been
recommended by the Chevalier Raiberti. I asked him to get me some
of the best wine, and he took me down to his cellar, and told me
to take what I liked. His wines proved to be admirable.

This M. Magnan was a clever man, of a pleasant appearance, and
very comfortably off. He occupied an extremely large and
convenient house outside the town, and there his agreeable wife
dispensed hospitality. She had ten children, amongst whom there
were four pretty daughters; the eldest, who was nineteen, was
especially good-looking.

We went to the convent at eleven o'clock, and after an hour's
conversation we were told that dinner was ready. The table was
beautifully laid, covered with a fair white cloth, and adorned
with vases filled with artificial flowers so strongly scented that
the air of the parlour was quite balmy. The fatal grill was
heavier than I had hoped. I found myself seated to the left of
M---- M----, and totally unable to see her. The fair Desarmoises
was at my right, and she entertained us all the time with her
amusing stories.

We in the parlour were waited on by Le Duc and Costa, and the nuns
were served by their lay-sisters. The abundant provision, the
excellent wines, the pleasant though sometimes equivocal
conversation, kept us all merrily employed for three hours. Mirth
had the mastery over reason, or, to speak more plainly, we were
all drunk; and if it had not been for the fatal grill, I could
have had the whole eleven ladies without much trouble. The young
Desarmoises was so gay, indeed, that if I had not restrained her
she would probably have scandalised all the nuns, who would have
liked nothing better. I was longing to have her to myself, that I
might quench the flame she had kindled in my breast, and I had no
doubt of my success on the first attempt. After coffee had been
served, we went into another parlour and stayed there till night
came on. Madame Morin took leave of her niece, and the hand-
shakings, thanks, and promises of remembrance between me and the
nuns, lasted for a good quarter of an hour. After I had said
aloud to M---- M---- that I hoped to have the pleasure of seeing
her before I left, we went back to the inn in high good humour
with our curious party which I still remember with pleasure.

Madame Morin gave me a letter for her cousin Madame Varnier, and I
promised to write to her from Paris, and tell her all about the
fair Mdlle. Roman. I presented the daughter with a beautiful pair
of ear-rings, and I gave Madame Morin twelve pounds of good
chocolate which M. Magnan got me, and which the lady thought had
come from Genoa. She went off at eight o'clock preceded by Le
Duc, who had orders to greet the doorkeeper's family on my behalf.

At Magnan's I had a dinner worthy of Lucullus, and I promised to
stay with him whenever I passed Chamberi, which promise I have
faithfully performed.

On leaving the gourmand's I went to the convent, and M---- M----
came down alone to the grating. She thanked me for coming to see
her, and added that I had come to disturb her peace of mind.

"I am quite ready, dearest, to climb the harden wall, and I shall
do it more dexterously than your wretched humpback."

"Alas! that may not be, for, trust me, you are already spied
upon. Everybody here is sure that we knew each other at Aix.
Let us forget all, and thus spare ourselves the torments of vain

"Give me your hand."

"No. All is over. I love you still, probably I shall always love
you; but I long for you to go, and by doing so, you will give me a
proof of your love."

"This is dreadful; you astonish me. You appear to me in perfect
health, you are prettier than ever, you are made for the worship
of the sweetest of the gods, and I can't understand how, with a
temperament like yours, you can live in continual abstinence."

"Alas! lacking the reality we console ourselves by pretending. I
will not conceal from you that I love my young boarder. It is an
innocent passion, and keeps my mind calm. Her caresses quench the
flame which would otherwise kill me."

"And that is not against your conscience?"

"I do not feel any distress on the subject."

"But you know it is a sin."

"Yes, so I confess it."

"And what does the confessor say?"

"Nothing. He absolves me, and I am quite content:"

"And does the pretty boarder confess, too?"

"Certainly, but she does not tell the father of a matter which she
thinks is no sin."

"I wonder the confessor has not taught her, for that kind of
instruction is a great pleasure."

"Our confessor is a wise old man."

"Am I to leave you, then, without a single kiss?"

"Not one."

"May I come again to-morrow? I must go the day after."

"You may come, but I cannot see you by myself as the nuns might
talk. I will bring my little one with me to save appearances.
Come after dinner, but into the other parlour."

If I had not known M---- M---- at Aix, her religious ideas would
have astonished me; but such was her character. She loved God,
and did not believe that the kind Father who made us with passions
would be too severe because we had not the strength to subdue
them. I returned to the inn, feeling vexed that the pretty nun
would have no more to do with me, but sure of consolation from the
fair Desarmoises.

I found her sitting on her lover's bed; his poor diet and the
fever had left him in a state of great weakness. She told me that
she would sup in my room to leave him in quiet, and the worthy
young man shook my hand in token of his gratitude.

As I had a good dinner at Magnan's I ate very little supper, but
my companion who had only had a light meal ate and drank to an
amazing extent. I gazed at her in a kind of wonder, and she
enjoyed my astonishment. When my servants had left the room I
challenged her to drink a bowl of punch with me, and this put her
into a mood which asked for nothing but laughter, and which
laughed to find itself deprived of reasoning power. Nevertheless,
I cannot accuse myself of taking an advantage of her condition,
for in her voluptuous excitement she entered eagerly into the
pleasure to which I excited her till two o'clock in the morning.
By the time we separated we were both of us exhausted.

I slept till eleven, and when I went to wish her good day I found
her smiling and as fresh as a rose. I asked her how she had
passed the rest of the night.

"Very pleasantly,' said she, "like the beginning of the night."

"What time would you like to have dinner?"

"I won't dine; I prefer to keep my appetite for supper."

Here her lover joined in, saying in a weak voice,--

"It is impossible to keep up with her."

"In eating or drinking?" I asked.

"In eating, drinking, and in other things," he replied, with a
smile. She laughed, and kissed him affectionately.

This short dialogue convinced me that Mdlle. Desarmoises must
adore her lover; for besides his being a handsome young man, his
disposition was exactly suitable to hers. I dined by myself, and
Le Duc came in as I was having dessert. He told me that the door-
keeper's daughters and their pretty cousin had made him wait for
them to write to me, and he gave me three letters and three dozen
of gloves which they had presented me. The letters urged me to
come and spend a month with them, and gave me to understand that I
should be well pleased with my treatment. I had not the courage
to return to a town, where with my reputation I should have been
obliged to draw horoscopes for all the young ladies or to make
enemies by refusing.

After I had read the letters from Grenoble I went to the convent
and announced my presence, and then entered the parlour which
M---- M---- had indicated. She soon came down with the pretty
boarder, who feebly sustained my part in her amorous ecstacies.
She had not yet completed her twelfth year, but she was extremely
tall and well developed for her age. Gentleness, liveliness,
candour, and wit were united in her features, and gave her
expression an exquisite charm. She wore a well-made corset which
disclosed a white throat, to which the fancy easily added the two
spheres which would soon appear there. Her entrancing face, her
raven locks, and her ivory throat indicated what might be
concealed, and my vagrant imagination made her into a budding
Venus. I began by telling her that she was very pretty, and would
make her future husband a happy man. I knew she would blush at
that. It may be cruel, but it is thus that the language of
seduction always begins. A girl of her age who does not blush at
the mention of marriage is either an idiot or already an expert in
profligacy. In spite of this, however, the blush which mounts to
a young girl's cheek at the approach of such ideas is a puzzling
problem. Whence does it arise? It may be from pure simplicity,
it may be from shame, and often from a mixture of both feelings.
Then comes the fight between vice and virtue, and it is usually
virtue which has to give in. The desires--the servants of vice--
usually attain their ends. As I knew the young boarder from M----
M----'s description, I could not be ignorant of the source of
those blushes which added a fresh attraction to her youthful

Pretending not to notice anything, I talked to M---- M---- for a
few moments, and then returned to the assault. She had regained
her calm.

"What age are you, pretty one?" said I.

"I am thirteen."

"You are wrong," said M---- M----, "you have not
yet completed your twelfth year."

"The time will come," said I, "when you will diminish the tale of
your years instead of increasing it."

"I shall never tell a lie, sir; I am sure of that."

"So you want to be a nun, do you?"

"I have not yet received my vocation; but even if I live in the
world I need not be a liar."

"You are wrong; you will begin to lie as soon as you have a

"Will my lover tell lies, too?"

"Certainly he will."

"If the matter were really so, then, I should have a bad opinion
of love; but I do not believe it, for I love my sweetheart here,
and I never conceal the truth from her."

"Yes, but loving a man is a different thing to loving a woman."

"No, it isn't; it's just the same."

"Not so, for you do not go to bed with a woman and you do with
your husband."

"That's no matter, my love would be the same."

"What? You would not rather sleep with me than with M---- M----?"

"No, indeed I should not, because you are a man and would see me."

"You don't want a man to see you, then?"


"Do you think you are so ugly, then?"

At this she turned to M---- M---- and said, with evident vexation,
"I am not really ugly, am I?"

"No, darling," said M---- M----, bursting with laughter, "it is
quite the other way; you are very pretty." With these words she
took her on her knee and embraced her tenderly.

"Your corset is too tight; you can't possibly have such a small
waist as that."

"You make a mistake, you can put your hand there and see for

"I can't believe it."

M---- M---- then held her close to the grill and told me to see
for myself. At the same moment she turned up her dress.

"You were right," said I, "and I owe you an apology;" but in my
heart I cursed the grating and the chemise.

"My opinion is," said I to M---- M----, "that we have here a
little boy."

I did not wait for a reply, but satisfied myself by my sense of
touch as to her sex, and I could see that the little one and her
governess were both pleased that my mind was at rest on the

I drew my hand away, and the little girl looked at M---- M----,
and reassured by her smiling air asked if she might go away for a
moment. I must have reduced her to a state in which a moment's
solitude was necessary, and I myself was in a very excited

As soon as she was gone I said to M---- M----,

"Do you know that what you have shewn me has made me unhappy?"

"Has it? Why?"

"Because your boarder is charming, and I am longing to enjoy her."

"I am sorry for that, for you can't possibly go any further; and
besides, I know you, and even if you could satisfy your passion
without danger to her, I would not give her up to you, you would
spoil her."


"Do you think that after enjoying you she would care to enjoy me?
I should lose too heavily by the comparison."

"Give me your hand."


"Stay, one moment."

"I don't want to see anything."

"Not a little bit?"

"Nothing at all."

"Are you angry with me, then?"

"Not at all. If you have been pleased I am glad, and if you have
filled her with desires she will love me all the better."

"How pleasant it would be, sweetheart, if we could all three of us
be together alone and at liberty!"

"Yes; but it is impossible."

"Are you sure that no inquisitive eye is looking upon us?"

"Quite sure."

"The height of that fatal grill has deprived me of the sight of
many charms."

"Why didn't you go to the other parlour it is much lower there."

"Let us go there, then."

"Not to-day; I should not be able to give any reason for the

"I will come again to-morrow, and start for Lyons in the evening."

The little boarder came back, and I stood up facing her. I had a
number of beautiful seals and trinkets hanging from my watch-
chain, and I had not had the time to put myself in a state of
perfect decency again.

She noticed it, and by way of pretext she asked if she might look
at them.

"As long as you like; you may look at them and touch them as

M---- M---- foresaw what would happen and left the room, saying
that she would soon be back. I had intended to deprive the young
boarder of all interest in my seals by shewing her a curiosity of
another kind. She did not conceal her pleasure in satisfying her
inquisitiveness on an object which was quite new to her, and which
she was able to examine minutely for the first time in her life.
But soon an effusion changed her curiosity into surprise, and I
did not interrupt her in her delighted gaze.

I saw M---- M---- coming back slowly, and I lowered my shirt
again, and sat down. My watch and chains were still on the ledge
of the grating, and M---- M---- asked her young friend if the
trinkets had pleased her.

"Yes," she replied, but in a dreamy and melancholy voice. She had
learnt so much in the course of less than two hours that she had
plenty to think over. I spent the rest of the day in telling M----
M---- the adventures I had encountered since I had left her; but
as I had not time to finish my tale I promised to return the next
day at the same time.

The little girl, who had been listening to me all the time, though
I appeared to be only addressing her friend, said that she longed
to know the end of my adventure with the Duke of Matelone's

I supped with the fair Desarmoises, and after giving her sundry
proofs of my affection till midnight, and telling her that I only
stopped on for her sake, I went to bed.

The next day after dinner I returned to the convent, and having
sent up my name to M---- M---- I entered the room where the
grating was more convenient.

Before long M---- M---- arrived alone, but she anticipated my
thoughts by telling me that her pretty friend would soon join her.

"You have fired her imagination. She has told me all about it,
playing a thousand wanton tricks, and calling me her dear husband.
You have seduced the girl, and I am very glad you are going or
else you would drive her mad. You will see how she has dressed

"Are you sure of her discretion?"

"Perfectly, but I hope you won't do anything in my presence. When
I see the time coming I will leave the room."

"You are an angel, dearest, but you might be something better than
that if you would--"

"I want nothing for myself; it is out of the question."

"You could--"

"No, I will have nothing to do with a pastime which would rekindle
fires that are hardly yet quenched. I have spoken; I suffer, but
let us say no more about it."

At this moment the young adept came in smiling, with her eyes full
of fire. She was dressed in a short pelisse, open in front, and
an embroidered muslin skirt which did not go beyond her knees.
She looked like a sylph.

We had scarcely sat down when she reminded me of the place where
my tale had stopped. I continued my recital, and when I was
telling them how Donna Lucrezia shewed me Leonilda naked, M----
M---- went out, and the sly little puss asked me how I assured
myself that my daughter was a maid.

I took bold of her through the fatal grating, against which she
placed her pretty body, and shewed her how assured myself of the
fact, and the girl liked it so much that she pressed my hand to
the spot. She then gave me her hand that I might share her
pleasure, and whilst this enjoyable occupation was in progress
M---- M---- appeared. My sweetheart said hastily,--

"Never mind, I told her all about it. She is a good creature and
will not be vexed." Accordingly M---- M---- pretended not to see
anything, and the precocious little girl wiped her hand in a kind
of voluptuous ecstacy, which shewed how well she was pleased.

I proceeded with my history, but when I came to the episode of the
poor girl who was 'tied', describing all the trouble I had vainly
taken with her, the little boarder got so curious that she placed
herself in the most seducing attitude so that I might be able to
shew her what I did. Seeing this M---- M---- made her escape.

"Kneel down on the ledge, and leave the rest to me," said the
little wanton.

The reader will guess what she meant, and I have no doubt that she
would have succeeded in her purpose if the fire which consumed me
had not distilled itself away just at the happy moment.

The charming novice felt herself sprinkled, but after ascertaining
that nothing more could be done she withdrew in some vexation. My
fingers, however, consoled her for the disappointment, and I had
the pleasure of seeing her look happy once more.

I left these charming creatures in the evening, promising to visit
them again in a year, but as I walked home I could not help
reflecting how often these asylums, supposed to be devoted to
chastity and prayer, contain in themselves the hidden germs of
corruption. How many a timorous and trustful mother is persuaded
that the child of her affection will escape the dangers of the
world by taking refuge in the cloister. But behind these bolts
and bars desires grow to a frenzied extreme; they crave in vain to
be satisfied.

When I returned to the inn I took leave of the wounded man, whom I
was happy to see out of danger. In vain I urged him to make use
of my purse; he told me, with an affectionate embrace, that he had
sufficient money, and if not, he had only to write to his father.
I promised to stop at Lyons, and to oblige Desarmoises to desist
from any steps he might be taking against them, telling them I had
a power over him which would compel him to obey. I kept my word.
After we had kissed and said good-bye, I took his future bride
into my room that we might sup together and enjoy ourselves till
midnight; but she could not have been very pleased with my
farewell salute, for I was only able to prove my love for her
once, as M---- M----'s young friend had nearly exhausted me.

I started at day-break, and the next day I reached the "Hotel du
Parc," at Lyons. I sent for Desarmoises, and told him plainly
that his daughter's charms had seduced me, that I thought her
lover worthy of her, and that I expected him out of friendship for
me to consent to the marriage. I went further, and told him that
if he did not consent to everything that very instant I could no
longer be his friend, and at this he gave in. He executed the
requisite document in the presence of two witnesses, and I sent it
to Chamberi by an express messenger.

This false marquis made me dine with him in his poor house. There
was nothing about his younger daughter to remind me of the elder,
and his wife inspired me with pity. Before I left I managed to
wrap up six Louis in a piece of paper, and gave it to her without
the knowledge of her husband. A grateful look shewed me how
welcome the present was.

I was obliged to go to Paris, so I gave Desarmoises sufficient
money for him to go to Strasburg, and await me there in company
with my Spaniard.

I thought myself wise in only taking Costa, but the inspiration
came from my evil genius.

I took the Bourbonnais way, and on the third day I arrived at
Paris, and lodged at the Hotel du St. Esprit, in the street of the
same name.

Before going to bed I sent Costa with a note to Madame d'Urfe,
promising to come and dine with her the next day. Costa was a
good-looking young fellow, and as he spoke French badly and was
rather a fool I felt sure that Madame d'Urfe would take him for
some extraordinary being. She wrote to say that she was
impatiently expecting me.

"How did the lady receive you, Costa?"

"She looked into a mirror, sir, and said some words I could make
nothing of; then she went round the room three times burning
incense; then she came up to me with a majestic air and looked me
in the face; and at last she smiled very pleasantly, and told me
to wait for a reply in the ante-chamber."

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