Part 36 out of 70
"It will give me pleasure if you share in my delight."
"Alas! I am undone, and I shall doubtless die when I have to leave
"Do not leave me, sweetheart; come with me to Rome; and leave the
matter in my hands. I will make you my wife, and we will live
happily together ever after."
"That would be too great a bliss, but I could never make up my mind
to it; say no more about it."
I was sure of spending a delicious night--in the possession of all
her charms, and we stayed an hour at table, seasoning the dishes with
sweet converse. When we had done, the woman came up, gave her a
packet, and went away again, wishing us good night.
"What does this packet contain, darling?"
"It is the present I have got for you-my portrait, but you must not
see it till I am in bed."
"I will indulge you in that fancy, although I am very curious to see
"You will say I am right afterwards."
I wanted to undress her myself, and she submitted like a lamb. When
she was in bed, she opened the packet, and shewed me her portrait,
naked, and very like the naked portrait of M---- M----. I praised
the painter for the excellence of the copy he had made; nothing was
altered but the colour of the hair and eyes.
"It isn't a copy," she said, "there would not have been time. He
only made the eyes and hair black, and the latter more abundant.
Thus you have in it a portrait of the first and also of the second
M---- M----, in whom you must forget the first. She has also
vanished from the clothed portrait, for you see the nun has black
eyes. I could shew this picture to anyone as my portrait."
"You do not know how precious your present is to me! Tell me,
dearest, how you succeeded in carrying out your plan so well."
"I told the country-woman about it yesterday morning, and she said
that she had a foster-son at Anneci, who was a miniature painter.
Through him she sent the two miniatures to a more skilful painter at
Geneva, who made the change you see for four or five Louis; he was
probably able to do it in two or three hours. I entrusted the two
portraits to him, and you see how well he did his work. The woman
has no doubt just received them, and to-morrow she may be able to
tell you more about it."
"She is really a wonderful woman. I will indemnify her for the
expense. But now tell me why you did not want me to see the portrait
before you were in bed?"
"Because I can now see you in the same posture as that in which you
"It is an excellent idea; only love can have given it you. But you
must wait till I am in the same state."
When we were both in a state of nature, exactly like Adam and Eve
before they tasted the fatal apple, I placed her in the position of
the portrait, and guessing my intention from my face she opened her
arms for me to come to her; but I asked her to wait a moment, for I
had a little packet too, which contained something she would like.
I then drew from my pocket-book a little article of transparent skin,
about eight inches long, with one opening, which was ornamented with
a red rosette. I gave her this preventive sheath, and she looked,
admired, and laughed loudly, asking me if I had used such articles
with her Venetian sister. "I will put it on myself; you don't know
how I shall enjoy it. Why didn't you use one last night? How could
you have forgotten it? Well, I shall be very wretched if anything
comes of it. What shall I do in four or five months, when my
condition becomes past doubt?"
"Dearest, the only thing to do is not to think of it, for if the
damage is done, there is no cure for it; but from my experience and
knowledge of the laws of nature I expect that our sweet combats of
last night will probably have no troublesome consequences. It has
been stated that after child-birth a woman cannot conceive afresh
without having seen something which I expect you have not seen."
"No, God be thanked!"
"Good. Then let us not give any thought to the dismal future lest we
lose our present bliss."
"I am quite comforted; but I can't understand why you are afraid to-
day of what you were not afraid yesterday; my state is the same."
"The event has sometimes given the lie to the most eminent
physicians. Nature, wiser than they, has exceptions to her rules,
let us not defy them for the future, but let us not trouble ourselves
if we have defied there in the past."
"I like to hear you talk so sagely. Yes, we will be prudent whatever
it costs. There you are, hooded like a mother abbess, but in spite
of the fineness of the sheath I like the little fellow better quite
naked. I think that this covering degrades us both."
"You are right, it does. But let us not dwell on these ideas which
will only spoil our pleasure."
"We will enjoy our pleasure directly; let me be reasonable now, for I
have never thought of these matters before. Love must have invented
these little sheaths, but it must first have listened to the voice of
prudence, and I do not like to see love and prudence allied."
"The correctness of your arguments surprises me, but we will
philosophize another time."
"Wait a minute. I have never seen a man before, and I have never
wished to enjoy the sight as much as now. Ten months ago I should
have called that article an invention of the devil; but now I look
upon the inventor as a benefactor, for if my wretched hump-back had
provided himself with such a sheath he would not have exposed me to
the danger of losing my honour and my life. But, tell me, how is
that the makers of these things remain unmolested; I wonder they are
not found out, excommunicated, or heavily fined, or even punished
corporeally, if they are Jews as I expect. Dear me, the maker of
this one must have measured you badly! Look! it is too large here,
and too small there; it makes you into a regular curve. What a
stupid the fellow must be, he can't know his own trade! But what is
"You make me laugh; it's all your fault. You have been feeling and
fondling, and you see the natural consequence. I knew it would be
"And you couldn't keep it back a minute. It is going on now. I am
so sorry; it is a dreadful pity."
"There is not much harm done, so console yourself."
"How can I? you are quite dead. How can you laugh?"
"At your charming simplicity. You shall see in a moment that your
charms will give me new life which I shall not lose so easily."
"Wonderful! I couldn't have believed it!"
I took off the sheath, and gave her another, which pleased her
better, as it seemed to fit me better, and she laughed for joy as she
put it on. She knew nothing of these wonders. Her thoughts had been
bound in chains, and she could not discover the truth before she knew
me; but though she was scarcely out of Egypt she shewed all the
eagerness of an enquiring and newly emancipated spirit. "But how if
the rubbing makes the sheath fall off?" said she. I explained to her
that such an accident could scarcely happen, and also told her of
what material the English made these articles.
After all this talking, of which my ardour began to weary, we
abandoned ourselves to love, then to sleep, then to love again, and
so on alternately till day-break. As I was leaving, the woman of the
house told us that the painter had asked four louis, and that she had
give two louis to her foster-son. I gave her twelve, and went home,
where I slept till morn, without thinking of breakfasting with the
Marquis de Prie, but I think I should have given him some notice of
my inability to come. His mistress sulked with me all dinner-time,
but softened when I allowed myself to be persuaded into making a
bank. However, I found she was playing for heavy stakes, and I had
to check her once or twice, which made her so cross that she went to
hide her ill-temper in a corner of the hall. However, the marquis
won, and I was losing, when the taciturn Duke of Rosebury, his tutor
Smith, and two of his fellow-countrymen, arrived from Geneva. He
came up to me and said, "How do you do?" and without another word
began to play, inviting his companions to follow his example.
Seeing my bank in the last agony I sent Le Duc to my room for the
cash-box, whence I drew out five rolls of a hundred louis each. The
Marquis de Prie said, coolly, that he wouldn't mind being my partner,
and in the same tone I begged to be excused. He continued punting
without seeming to be offended at my refusal and when I put down the
cards and rose from the table he had won two hundred louis; but all
the others had lost, especially one of the Englishmen, so that I had
made a profit of a thousand louis. The marquis asked me if I would
give him chocolate in my room next morning, and I replied that I
should be glad to see him. I replaced my cash-box in my room, and
proceeded to the cottage, pleased with the day's work and feeling
inclined to crown it with love.
I found my fair friend looking somewhat sad, and on my enquiring the
reason she told me that a nephew of the country-woman's, who had come
from Chamberi that morning, had told her that he had heard from a
lay-sister of the same convent, whom he knew, that two sisters would
start at day-break in two days' time to fetch her; this sad news, she
said, had made her tears flow fast.
"But the abbess said the sisters could not start before ten days had
"She must have changed her mind."
"Sorrow intrudes into our happy state. Will you be my wife? Will
you follow me to Rome and receive absolution from your vows. You may
be sure that I shall have a care for your happiness."
"Nay, I have lived long enough; let me return to my tomb."
After supper I told the good woman that if she could rely on her
nephew, she would do well to send him at once to Chamberi with orders
to return directly the lay-sisters started, and to endeavour to reach
Aix two hours before them. She told me that I might reckon on the
young man's silence, and on his carrying out my orders. I quieted in
this way the charming nun's alarm, and got into bed with her, feeling
sad though amorous; and on the pretext that she required rest I left
her at midnight, as I wanted to be at home in the morning since I had
an engagement with the marquis. In due course he arrived with his
mistress, two other ladies, and their husbands or lovers.
I did not limit myself to giving them chocolate; my breakfast
consisted of all the luxuries the place afforded. When I had got rid
of my troublesome company, I told Le Duc to shut my door, and to tell
everybody that I was ill in bed and could not see any visitors. I
also warned him that I should be away for two days, and that he must
not leave my room a moment till I came back. Having made these
arrangements, I slipped away unperceived and went to my mistress,
resolved not to leave her till half an hour before the arrival of the
When she saw me and heard that I was not going to leave her till she
went away, she jumped for joy; and we conceived the idea of not
having any dinner that we might enjoy our supper the better.
"We will go to bed after supper," said she, "and will not get up till
the messenger brings the fatal news that the lay-sisters have
I thought the idea an excellent one, and I called the, woman of the
house to tell her of our arrangements, and she promised to see that
we were not disturbed.
We did not find the time long, for two passionate lovers find plenty
to talk about since their talk is of themselves. And besides our
caresses, renewed again and again, there was something so mysterious
and solemn in our situation that our souls and our senses were
engaged the whole time.
After a supper which would have pleased a Lucullus, we spent twelve
hours in giving each other proofs, of our passionate love, sleeping
after our amorous struggles, and waking only to renew the fight. The
next day we rose to refresh ourselves, and after a good dinner,
mashed down by some excellent Burgundy, we went to bed again; but at
four the country-woman came to tell us that the lay-sisters would
arrive about six. We had nothing now to look for in the future, the
die was cast, and we began our farewell caresses. I sealed the last
with my blood. My first M---- M---- had seen it, and my second
rightly saw it also. She was frightened, but I calmed her fears. I
then rose, and taking a roll containing fifty louis I begged her to
keep them for me, promising to come for them in two years, and take
them from her hands through the grating of her terrible prison. She
spent the last quarter of an hour in tears, and mine were only
restrained lest I should add to her grief. I cut off a piece of her
fleece and a lock of her beautiful hair, promising her always to bear
them next my heart.
I left her, telling the country-woman that she should see me again
the next day, and I went to bed as soon as I got home. Next morning
I was on the way to Chamberi. At a quarter of a league's distance
from Aix I saw my angel slowly walking along. As soon as the lay-
sisters were near enough they asked an alms in the name of God. I
gave them a Louis, but my saint did not look at me.
With a broken heart I went to the good countrywoman, who told me that
M---- M---- had gone at day-break, bidding her to remind me of the
convent grating. I kissed the Worthy woman, and I gave her nephew
all the loose silver I had about me, and returning to the inn I had
my luggage put on to the carriage, and would have started that moment
if I had had any horses. But I had two hours to wait, and I went and
bade the marquis farewell. He was out, but his mistress was in the
room by herself. On my telling her of my departure, she said,
"Don't go, stay with me a couple of days longer."
"I feel the honour you are conferring on me, but business of the
greatest importance obliges me to be gone forthwith."
"Impossible," said the lady, as she went to a glass the better to
lace herself, shewing me a superb breast. I saw her design, but I
determined to baulk her. She then put one foot upon a couch to retie
her garter, and when she put up the other foot I saw beauties more
enticing than Eve's apple. It was nearly all up with me, when the
marquis came in. He proposed a little game of quinze, and his
mistress asked me to be her partner. I could not escape; she sat
next to me, and I had lost forty Louis by dinner-time.
"I owe you twenty," said the lady, as we were going down.
At dessert Le Duc came to tell me that my carriage was at the door,
and I got up, but under the pretence of paying me the twenty louis
the marquis's mistress made me come with her to her room.
When we were there she addressed me in a serious and supplicating
voice, telling me that if I went she would be dishonoured, as
everybody knew that she had engaged to make me stay.
"Do I look worthy of contempt?" said she, making me sit down upon the
Then with a repetition of her tactics in the morning she contrived
that I should see everything. Excited by her charms I praised her
beauties, I kissed, I touched; she let herself fall on me, and looked
radiant when her vagrant hand found palpable proof of her powers of
"I promise to be yours to-morrow, wait till then."
Not knowing how to refuse, I said I would keep her to her word, and
would have my horses taken out. Just then the marquis came in,
saying he would give me my revenge and without answering I went
downstairs as if to come back again, but I ran out of the inn, got
into my carriage, and drove off, promising a good fee to the
postillion if he would put his horses at a gallop.
by Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
ADVENTURES IN THE SOUTH, Volume 4a--DEPART SWITZERLAND
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED
BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
The Door--Keeper's Daughters--The Horoscopes--Mdlle. Roman
The idea of the sorry plight in which I had left the Marquis de
Prie, his mistress, and perhaps all the company, who had
undoubtedly coveted the contents of my cash-box, amused me till I
reached Chamberi, where I only stopped to change horses. When I
reached Grenoble, where I intended to stay a week, I did not find
my lodging to my liking, and went in my carriage to the
post-office, where I found several letters, amongst others, one
from Madame d'Urfe, enclosing a letter of introduction to an
officer named Valenglard, who, she told me, was a learned man, and
would present me at all the best houses in the town.
I called on this officer and received a cordial welcome. After
reading Madame d'Urfe's letter he said he was ready to be useful
to me in anything I pleased.
He was an amiable, middle aged man, and fifteen years before had
been Madame d'Urfe's friend, and in a much more intimate degree
the friend of her daughter, the Princess de Toudeville. I told
him that I was uncomfortable at the inn, and that the first
service I would ask of him would be to procure me a comfortable
lodging. He rubbed his head, and said,--
"I think I can get you rooms in a beautiful house, but it is
outside the town walls. The door-keeper is an excellent cook, and
for the sake of doing your cooking I am sure he will lodge you for
"I don't wish that," said I.
"Don't be afraid," said the baron, "he will make it up by means of
his dishes; and besides, the house is for sale and costs him
nothing. Come and see it."
I took a suite of three rooms and ordered supper for two, warning
the man that I was dainty, liked good things, and did not care for
the cost. I also begged M. de Valenglard to sup with me. The
doorkeeper said that if I was not pleased with his cooking I had
only to say so, and in that case I should have nothing to pay. I
sent for my carriage, and felt that I had established myself in my
new abode. On the ground floor I saw three charming girls and the
door-keeper's wife, who all bowed profoundly. M. de Valenglard
took me to a concert with the idea of introducing me to everybody,
but I begged him not to do so, as I wished to see the ladies
before deciding which of them I should like to know.
The company was a numerous one, especially where women were
concerned, but the only one to attract my attention was a pretty
and modest-looking brunette, whose fine figure was dressed with
great simplicity. Her charming eyes, after having thrown one
glance in my direction, obstinately refused to look at me again.
My vanity made me conclude at once that she behaved thus only to
increase my desire of knowing her, and to give me plenty of time
to examine her side-face and her figure, the proportions of which
were not concealed by her simple attire. Success begets
assurance, and the wish is father to the thought. I cast a hungry
gaze on this young lady without more ado, just as if all the women
in Europe were only a seraglio kept for my pleasures. I told the
baron I should like to know her.
"She is a good girl," said he, "who sees no company, and is quite
"Those are three reasons which make me the more anxious to know
"You will really find nothing to do in that quarter."
"There is her aunt, I will introduce you to her as we leave the
After doing me this service, he came to sup with me. The
door-keeper and cook struck me as being very like Lebel. He made
his two pretty daughters wait on me, and I saw that Valenglard was
delighted at having lodged me to my satisfaction, but he grumbled
when he saw fifteen dishes.
"He is making a fool of you and me," he said.
"On the contrary, he has guessed my tastes. Don't you think
everything was very good?"
"I don't deny it, but . . . "
"Don't be afraid; I love spending my money."
"I beg your pardon, I only want you to be pleased."
We had exquisite wines, and at dessert some ratafia superior to
the Turkish 'visnat' I had tasted seventeen years before at Yussuf
Ali's. When my landlord came up at the end of supper, I told him
that he ought to be Louis XV.'s head cook.
"Go on as you have begun, and do better if you can; but let me
have your bill every morning."
"You are quite right; with such an arrangement one can tell how
one is getting on."
"I should like you always to give me ices, and you must let me
have two more lights. But, unless I am mistaken, those are
candles that I see. I am a Venetian, and accustomed to wax
"That is your servant's fault, sir."
"How is that?"
"Because, after eating a good supper, he went to bed, saying he
was ill. Thus I heard nothing as to how you liked things done."
"Very good, you shall learn from my own lips."
"He asked my wife to make chocolate for you tomorrow morning; he
gave her the chocolate, I will make it myself."
When he had left the room M. de Valenglard said, in a manner that
was at the same time pleased and surprised, that Madame d'Urfe had
been apparently joking in telling him to spare me all expense.
"It's her goodness of heart. I am obliged to her all the same.
She is an excellent woman."
We stayed at table till eleven o'clock, discussing in numerable
pleasant topics, and animating our talk with that choice liqueur
made at Grenoble, of which we drank a bottle. It is composed of
the juice of cherries, brandy, sugar, and cinnamon, and cannot be
surpassed, I am sure, by the nectar of Olympus.
I sent home the baron in my carriage, after thanking him for his
services, and begging him to be my companion early and late while
I stayed at Grenoble--a re quest which he granted excepting for
those days on which he was on duty. At supper I had given him my
bill of exchange on Zappata, which I endorsed with the name de
Seingalt, which Madame d'Urfe had given me. He discounted it for
me next day. A banker brought me four hundred louis and I had
thirteen hundred in my cash-box. I always had a dread of
penuriousness, and I delighted myself at the thought that M. de
Valenglard would write and tell Madame d'Urfe, who was always
preaching economy to me, what he had seen. I escorted my guest to
the carriage, and I was agreeably surprised when I got back to
find the doorkeeper's two charming daughters.
Le Duc had not waited for me to tell him to find some pretext for
not serving me. He knew my tastes, and that when there were
pretty girls in a house, the less I saw of him the better I was
The frank eagerness of the two girls to wait on me, their utter
freedom from suspicion or coquetry, made me determine that I would
shew myself deserving of their trust. They took off my shoes and
stockings, did my hair and put on my night-gown with perfect
propriety on both sides. When I was in bed I wished them a
goodnight, and told them to shut the door and bring me my
chocolate at eight o'clock next morning.
I could not help confessing that I was perfectly happy as I
reflected over my present condition. I enjoyed perfect health, I
was in the prime of life, I had no calls on me, I was thoroughly
independent, I had a rich store of experience, plenty of money,
plenty of luck, and I was a favourite with women. The pains and
troubles I had gone through had been followed by so many days of
happiness that I felt disposed to bless my destiny. Full of these
agreeable thoughts I fell asleep, and all the night my dreams were
of happiness and of the pretty brunette who had played with me at
I woke with thoughts of her, and feeling sure that we should
become acquainted I felt curious to know what success I should
have with her. She was discreet and poor; and as I was discreet
in my own way she ought not to despise my friendship.
At eight o'clock, one of the door-keeper's daughters brought me my
chocolate, and told me that Le Duc had got the fever.
"You must take care of the poor fellow."
"My cousin has just taken him some broth."
"What is your name?"
"My name is Rose, and my sister is Manon."
Just then Manon came in with my shirt, on which she had put fresh
lace. I thanked her, and she said with a blush that she did her
father's hair very well.
"I am delighted to hear it, and I shall be very pleased if you
will be kind enough to do the same offices for me till my servant
"With pleasure, sir."
"And I," said Rose, laughing, "will shave you."
"I should like to see how you do it; get the water."
I rose hastily, while Manon was preparing to do my hair. Rose
returned and shaved me admirably. As soon as she had washed off
the lather, I said,
"You must give me a kiss," presenting my cheek to her. She
pretended not to understand.
"I shall be vexed," said I, gravely but pleasantly, "if you refuse
to kiss me,"
She begged to be excused, saying with a little smile, that it was
not customary to do so at Grenoble.
"Well, if you won't kiss me, you shan't shave me."
The father came in at that point, bringing his bill.
"Your daughter has just shaved me admirably," said I, "and she
refuses to kiss me, because it is not the custom at Grenoble."
"You little silly," said he, "it is the custom in Paris. You kiss
me fast enough after you have shaved me, why should you be less
polite to this gentleman?"
She then kissed me with an air of submission to the paternal
decree which made Manon laugh.
"Ah!" said the father, "your turn will come when you have finished
doing the gentleman's hair."
He was a cunning fellow, who knew the best way to prevent me
cheapening him, but there was no need, as I thought his charges
reasonable, and as I paid him in full he went off in great glee.
Manon did my hair as well as my dear Dubois, and kissed me when
she had done without making as many difficulties as Rose. I
thought I should get on well with both of them. They went
downstairs when the banker was announced.
He was quite a young man, and after he had counted me out four
hundred Louis, he observed that I must be very comfortable.
"Certainly," said I, "the two sisters are delightful."
"Their cousin is better. They are too discreet."
"I suppose they are well off."
"The father has two thousand francs a year. They will be able to
marry well-to-do tradesmen."
I was curious to see the cousin who was said to be prettier than
the sisters, and as soon as the banker had gone I went downstairs
to satisfy my curiosity. I met the father and asked him which was
Le Duc's room, and thereon I went to see my fine fellow. I found
him sitting up in a comfortable bed with a rubicund face which did
not look as if he were dangerously ill.
"What is the matter with you?
"Nothing, sir. I am having a fine time of it. Yesterday I
thought I would be ill."
"What made you think that?"
"The sight of the three Graces here, who are made of better stuff
than your handsome housekeeper, who would not let me kiss her.
They are making me wait too long for my broth, however. I shall
have to speak severely about it."
"Le Duc, you are a rascal."
"Do you want me to get well?"
"I want you to put a stop to this farce, as I don't like it."
Just then the door opened, and the cousin came in with the broth.
I thought her ravishing, and I noticed that in waiting on Le Duc
she had an imperious little air which well became her.
"I shall dine in bed," said my Spaniard.
"You shall be attended to," said the pretty girl, and she went
"She puts on big airs," said Le Duc, "but that does not impose on
me. Don't you think she is very pretty?"
"I think you are very impudent. You ape your betters, and I don't
approve of it. Get up. You must wait on me at table, and
afterwards you will eat your dinner by yourself, and try to get
yourself respected as an honest man always is, whatever his
condition, so long as he does not forget himself. You must not
stay any longer in this room, the doorkeeper will give you
I went out, and on meeting the fair cousin I told her that I was
jealous of the honour which she had done my man, and that I begged
her to wait on him no longer.
"Oh, I am very glad!"
The door-keeper came up, and I gave him my orders, and went back
to my room to write.
Before dinner the baron came and told me that he had just come
from the lady to whom he had introduced me. She was the wife of a
barrister named Morin, and aunt to the young lady who had so
"I have been talking of you," said the baron, "and of the
impression her niece made on you. She promised to send for her,
and to keep her at the house all day."
After a dinner as good as the supper of the night before, though
different from it in its details, and appetising enough to awaken
the dead, we went to see Madame Morin, who received us with the
easy grace of a Parisian lady. She introduced me to seven
children, of whom she was the mother. Her eldest daughter, an
ordinary-looking girl, was twelve years old, but I should have
taken her to be fourteen, and said so. To convince me of her age
the mother brought a book in which the year, the month, the day,
the hour, and even the minute of her birth were entered. I was
astonished at such minute accuracy, and asked if she had had a
"No," said she, "I have never found anybody to do it."
"It is never too late," I replied, "and without doubt God has
willed that this pleasure should be reserved for me."
At this moment M. Morin came in, his wife introduced me, and after
the customary compliments had passed, she returned to the subject
of the horoscope. The barrister sensibly observed that if
judicial astrology was not wholly false, it was, nevertheless, a
suspected science; that he had been so foolish as once to devote a
considerable portion of his time to it, but that on recognizing
the inability of man to deal with the future he had abandoned
astrology, contenting himself with the veritable truths of
astronomy. I saw with pleasure that I had to deal with a man of
sense and education, but Valenglard, who was a believer in
astrology, began an argument with him on the subject. During
their discussion I quietly copied out on my tablets the date of
Mdlle. Morin's birth. But M. Morin saw what I was about, and
shook his head at me, with a smile. I understood what he meant,
but I did not allow that to disconcert me, as I had made up my
mind fully five minutes ago that I would play the astrologer on
At last the fair niece arrived. Her aunt introduced me to her as
Mdlle. Roman Coupier, her sister's daughter; and then, turning to
her, she informed her how ardently I had been longing to know her
since I had seen her at the concert.
She was then seventeen. Her satin skin by its dazzling whiteness
displayed to greater advantage her magnificent black hair. Her
features were perfectly regular, and her complexion had a slight
tinge of red; her fine eyes were at once sweet and sparkling, her
eyebrows were well arched, her mouth small, her teeth regular and
as white as pearls, and her lips, of an exquisite rosy hue,
afforded a seat to the deities of grace and modesty.
After some moments' conversation, M. Morin was obliged to go out
on business, and a game of quadrille was proposed, at which I was
greatly pitied for having lost a louis. I thought Mdlle. Roman
discreet, judicious, pleasant without being brilliant, and, still
better, without any pretensions. She was high-spirited,
even-tempered, and had a natural art which did not allow her to
seem to understand too flattering a compliment, or a joke which
passed in any way the bounds of propriety. She was neatly
dressed, but had no ornaments, and nothing which shewed wealth;
neither ear-rings, rings, nor a watch. One might have said that
her beauty was her only adornment, the only ornament she wore
being a small gold cross hanging from her necklace of black
ribbon. Her breast was well shaped and not too large. Fashion
and custom made her shew half of it as innocently as she shewed
her plump white hand, or her cheeks, whereon the lily and the rose
were wedded. I looked at her features to see if I might hope at
all; but I was completely puzzled, and could come to no
conclusion. She gave no sign which made me hope, but on the other
hand she did nothing to make me despair. She was so natural and
so reserved that my sagacity was completely at fault.
Nevertheless, a liberty which I took at supper gave me a gleam of
hope. Her napkin fell down, and in returning it to her I pressed
her thigh amorously, and could not detect the slightest
displeasure on her features. Content with so much I begged
everybody to come to dinner with me next day, telling Madame Morin
that I should not be going out, and that I was therefore delighted
to put my carriage at her service.
When I had taken Valenglard home, I went to my lodging building
castles in Spain as to the conquest of Mdlle. Roman.
I warned my landlord that we should be six at dinner and supper
the following day, and then I went to bed. As Le Duc was
undressing me he said,
"Sir, you are punishing me, but what makes me sorry you are
punishing yourself in depriving yourself of the services of those
"You are a rogue."
"I know it, but I serve you with all my heart, and I love your
pleasure as well as my own."
"You plead well for yourself; I am afraid I have spoilt you."
"Shall I do your hair to-morrow?"
"No; you may go out every day till dinner-time."
"I shall be certain to catch it."
"Then I shall send you to the hospital."
"That is a fine prospect, 'por Dios'."
He was impudent, sly, profligate, and a rascally fellow; but also
obedient, devoted, discreet, and faithful, and his good qualities
made me overlook his defects.
Next morning, when Rose brought my chocolate, she told me with a
laugh that my man had sent for a carriage, and after dressing
himself in the height of fashion he had gone off with his sword at
his side, to pay calls, as he said.
"We laughed at him."
"You were quite right, my dear Rose."
As I spoke, Manon came in under some pretext or other. I saw that
the two sisters had an understanding never to be alone with me; I
was displeased, but pretended not to notice anything. I got up,
and I had scarcely put on my dressing-gown when the cousin came in
with a packet under her arm.
"I am delighted to see you, and above all to look at your smiling
face, for I thought you much too serious yesterday."
"That's because M. le Duc is a greater gentleman than you are; I
should not have presumed to laugh in his presence; but I had my
reward in seeing him start off this morning in his gilded coach."
"Did he see you laughing at him?"
"Yes, unless he is blind."
"He will be vexed."
"All the better."
"You are really very charming. What have you got in that parcel?"
"Some goods of our own manufacture. Look; they are embroidered
"They are beautiful; the embroidery is exquisitely done. How much
for the lot?"
"Are you a good hand at a bargain."
"Then we must take that into account."
After some whisperings together the cousin took a pen, put down
the numbers of gloves, added up and said,
"The lot will cost you two hundred and ten francs."
"There are nine louis; give me six francs change."
"But you told us you would make a bargain."
"You were wrong to believe it."
She blushed and gave me the six francs. Rose and Manon shaved me
and did my hair, giving me a kiss with the best grace imaginable;
and when I offered my cheek to the cousin she kissed me on the
mouth in a manner that told me she would be wholly mine on the
"Shall we have the pleasure of waiting on you at the table?" said
"I wish you would."
"But we should like to know who is coming to dinner first; as if
it is officers from the garrison we dare not come; they make so
"My guests are Madame Morin, her husband, and her niece."
The cousin said,
"Mdlle. Roman is the prettiest and the best girl in Grenoble; but
she will find some difficulty in marrying as she has no money."
"She may meet some rich man who will think her goodness and her
beauty worth a million of money."
"There are not many men of that kind."
"No; but there are a few."
Manon and the cousin went out, and I was left alone with Rose, who
stayed to dress me. I attacked her, but she defended herself so
resolutely that I desisted, and promised it should not occur
again. When she had finished I gave her a louis, thanked her, and
sent her away.
As soon as I was alone I locked the door, and proceeded to concoct
the horoscope I had promised to Madame Morin. I found it an easy
task to fill eight pages with learned folly; and I confined myself
chiefly to declaring the events which had already happened to the
native. I had deftly extracted some items of information in the
course of conversation, and filling up the rest according to the
laws of probability and dressing up the whole in astrological
diction, I was pronounced to be a seer, and no doubts were cast on
my skill. I did not indeed run much risk, for everything hung
from an if, and in the judicious employment of ifs lies the secret
of all astrology.
I carefully re-read the document, and thought it admirable. I
felt in the vein, and the use of the cabala had made me an expert
in this sort of thing.
Just after noon all my guests arrived, and at one we sat down to
table. I have never seen a more sumptuous or more delicate
repast. I saw that the cook was an artist more in need of
restraint than encouragement. Madame Morin was very polite to the
three girls, whom she knew well, and Le Duc stood behind her chair
all the time, looking after her wants, and dressed as richly as
the king's chamberlain. When we had nearly finished dinner Mdlle.
Roman passed a compliment on my three fair waiting-maids, and this
giving me occasion to speak of their talents I got up and brought
the gloves I had purchased from them. Mdlle. Roman praised the
quality of the material and the work. I took the opportunity, and
begged leave of the aunt to give her and her niece a dozen pair
apiece. I obtained this favour, and I then gave Madame Morin the
horoscope. Her husband read it, and though an unbeliever he was
forced to admire, as all the deductions were taken naturally from
the position of the heavenly bodies at the instant of his
daughter's birth. We spent a couple of hours in talking about
astrology, and the same time in playing at quadrille, and then we
took a walk in the garden, where I was politely left to enjoy the
society of the fair Roman.
Our dialogue, or rather my monologue, turned solely on the
profound impression she had made on me, on the passion she had
inspired, on her beauty, her goodness, the purity of my
intentions, and on my need of love, lest I should go down to the
grave the most hapless of men.
"Sir," said she, at last, "if my destiny points to marriage I do
not deny that I should be happy to find a husband like you."
I was emboldened by this frank declaration, and seizing her hand I
covered it with fiery kisses, saying passionately that I hoped she
would not let me languish long. She turned her head to look for
her aunt. It was getting dark, and she seemed to be afraid of
something happening to her. She drew me gently with her, and on
rejoining the other guests we returned to the dining-room, where I
made a small bank at faro for their amusement. Madame Morin gave
her daughter and niece, whose pockets were empty, some money, and
Valenglard directed their play so well that when we left off to go
to supper I had the pleasure of seeing that each of the three
ladies had won two or three louis.
We sat at table till midnight. A cold wind from the Alps stopped
my plan of proposing a short turn in the garden. Madame Morin
overwhelmed me with thanks for my entertainment, and I gave each
of my lady-visitors a respectful kiss.
I heard singing in the kitchen, and on going in I found Le Duc in
a high state of excitement and very drunk. As soon as he saw me
he tried to rise, but he lost his centre of gravity, and fell
right under the kitchen table. He was carried away to bed.
I thought this accident favourable to my desire of amusing myself,
and I might have succeeded if the three Graces had not all been
there. Love only laughs when two are present, and thus it is that
the ancient mythology tells no story of the loves of the Graces,
who were always together. I had not yet found an opportunity of
getting my three maids one after the other, and I dared not risk a
general attack, which might have lost me the confidence of each
one. Rose, I saw, was openly jealous of her cousin, as she kept a
keen look-out after her movements. I was not sorry, for jealousy
leads to anger, and anger goes a long way. When I was in bed I
sent them away with a modest good night.
Next morning, Rose came in by herself to ask me for a cake of
chocolate, for, as she said, Le Duc was now ill in real earnest.
She brought me the box, and I gave her the chocolate, and in doing
so I took her hand and shewed her how well I loved her. She was
offended, drew back her hand sharply, and left the room. A moment
after Manon came in under the pretext of shewing me a piece of
lace I had torn away in my attempts of the day before, and of
asking me if she should mend it. I took her hand to kiss it, but
she did not give me time, presenting her lips, burning with
desire. I took her hand again, and it was just on the spot when
the cousin came in. Manon held the piece of lace, and seemed to
be waiting for my answer. I told her absently that I should be
obliged if she would mend it when she had time, and with this she
I was troubled by this succession of disasters, and thought that
the cousin would not play me false from the earnest of her
affection which she had given me the day before in that ardent
kiss of hers. I begged her to give me my handkerchief, and gently
drew her hand towards me. Her mouth fastened to mine, and her
hand, which she left to my pleasure with all the gentleness of a
lamb, was already in motion when Rose came in with my chocolate.
We regained our composure in a moment, but I was furious at heart.
I scowled at Rose, and I had a right to do so after the manner in
which she had repulsed me a quarter of an hour before. Though the
chocolate was excellent, I pronounced it badly made. I chid her
for her awkwardness in waiting on me, and repulsed her at every
step. When I got up I would not let her shave me; I shaved
myself, which seemed to humiliate her, and then Manon did my hair.
Rose and the cousin then went out, as if to make common cause
together, but it was easy to see that Rose was less angry with her
sister than her cousin.
As Manon was finishing my toilette, M. de Valenglard came in. As
soon as we were alone, the officer, who was a man of honour and of
much sense, in spite of his belief in astrology and the occult
sciences, said that he thought me looking rather melancholy, and
that if my sadness had any connection with the fair Roman, he
warned me to think no more of her, unless I had resolved to ask
her hand in marriage. I replied that to put an end to all
difficulties I had decided on leaving Grenoble in a few days. We
dined together and we then called on Madame Morin, with whom we
found her fair niece.
Madame Morin gave me a flattering welcome, and Mdlle. Roman
received me so graciously that I was emboldened to kiss her and
place her on my knee. The aunt laughed, the niece blushed, and
then slipping into my hand a little piece of paper made her
escape. I read on the paper the year, day, Hour, and minute of
her birth, and guessed what she meant. She meant, I thought, that
I could do nothing with her before I had drawn up her horoscope.
My resolve was soon taken to profit by this circumstance, and I
told her that I would tell her whether I could oblige her or not
next day, if she would come to a ball I was giving. She looked at
her aunt and my invitation was accepted.
Just then the servant announced "The Russian Gentleman." I saw a
well-made man of about my own age, slightly marked with the
small-pox, and dressed as a traveller. He accosted Madame Morin
with easy grace, was welcomed heartily by her, spoke well,
scarcely gave me a glance, and did not say a word to the nieces.
In the evening M. Morin came in, and the Russian gave him a small
phial full of a white liquid, and then made as if he would go,
but he was kept to supper.
At table the conversation ran on this marvellous liquid of his.
M. Morin told me that he had cured a young man of a bruise from a
billiard ball in five minutes, by only rubbing it with the liquid.
He said modestly that it was a trifling thing of his own
invention, and he talked a good deal about chemistry to
Valenglard. As my attention was taken up by the fair Mdlle.
Roman I could not take part in their conversation; my hope of
succeeding with her on the following day absorbed all my thoughts.
As I was going away with Valenglard he told me that nobody knew
who the Russian was, and that he was nevertheless received
"Has he a carriage and servants?"
"He has nothing, no servants and no money."
"Where did he come from?"
"From the skies."
"A fair abode, certainly; how long has he been here?"
"For the last fortnight. He visits, but asks for nothing."
"How does he live?"
"On credit at the inn; he is supposed to be waiting for his
carriage and servants."
"He is probably a vagabond."
"He does not look like one, as you saw for yourself, and his
diamonds contradict that hypothesis."
"Yes, if they are not imitation stones, for it seems to me that if
they were real he would sell them."
When I got home Rose came by herself to attend on me, but she
continued to sulk. I tried to rouse her up, but as I had no
success I ordered her to go and tell her father that I was going
to give a ball next day in the room by the garden, and that supper
was to be laid for twenty.
When the door-keeper came to take my orders the following morning,
I told him that I should like his girls to dance if he didn't
mind. At this Rose condescended to smile, and I thought it a good
omen. Just as she went out with her father, Manon carne in under
the pretext of asking me what lace I would wear for the day. I
found her as gentle as a lamb and as loving as a dove. The affair
was happily consummated, but we had a narrow escape of being
caught by Rose, who came in with Le Duc and begged me to let him
dance, promising that he would behave himself properly. I was
glad that everybody should enjoy themselves and consented, telling
him to thank Rose, who had got him this favour.
I had a note from Madame Morin, asking me if she might bring with
her to the ball two ladies of her acquaintance and their
daughters. I replied that I should be delighted for her to invite
not only as many ladies but as many gentlemen as she pleased, as I
had ordered supper for twenty people. She came to dinner with her
niece and Valenglard, her daughter being busy dressing and her
husband being engaged till the evening. She assured me that I
should have plenty of guests.
The fair Mdlle. Roman wore the same dress, but her beauty
unadorned was dazzling. Standing by me she asked if I had thought
about her horoscope. I took her hand, made her sit on my knee,
and promised that she should have it on the morrow. I held her
thus, pressing her charming breasts with my left hand, and
imprinting fiery kisses on her lips, which she only opened to beg
me to calm myself. She was more astonished than afraid to see me
trembling, and though she defended herself successfully she did
not lose countenance for a moment, and in spite of my ardent gaze
she did not turn her face away. I calmed myself with an effort,
and her eyes expressed the satisfaction of one who has vanquished
a generous enemy by the force of reason. By my silence I praised
the virtue of this celestial being, in whose destiny I only had a
part by one of those caprices of chance which philosophy seeks to
explain in vain.
Madame Morin came up to me, and asked me to explain some points in
her daughter's horoscope. She then told me that if I wanted to
have four beauties at my ball she had only to write a couple of
"I shall only see one beauty," said I, looking at her niece. "God
alone knows," said Valenglard, "what people will say in Grenoble!"
"They will say it is your wedding ball," said Madame Morin to her
"Yes, and they will doubtless talk of my magnificent dress, my
lace, and my diamonds," said the niece, pleasantly.
"They will talk of your beauty, your wit, and your goodness,"
I replied, passionately, "goodness which will make your husband a
There was a silence, because they all thought I was alluding to
myself. I was doing nothing of the sort. I should have been glad
to give five hundred louis for her, but I did not see how the
contract was to be drawn up, and I was not going to throw my money
We went to my bedroom, and while Mdlle. Roman was amusing herself
with looking at the jewellry on my toilette-table, her aunt and
Valenglard examined the books on the table by my bedside. I saw
Madame Morin going to the window and looking closely at something
she held in her hand. I remembered I had left out the portrait of
the fair nun. I ran to her and begged her to give me the indecent
picture I had so foolishly left about.
"I don't mind the indecency of it," she said, "but what strikes me
is the exact likeness."
I understood everything, and I shuddered at the carelessness of
which I had been guilty.
"Madam," I said, "that is the portrait of a Venetian, lady, of
whom I was very found."
"I daresay, but it's very curious. These two M's, these cast-off
robes sacrificed to love, everything makes my surprise greater."
"She is a nun and named M---- M----."
"And a Welsh niece of mine at Camberi is also named M---- M----,
and belongs to the same order. Nay, more, she has been at Aix,
whence you have come, to get cured of an illness."
"And this portrait is like her?"
"As one drop of water is like another."
"If you go to Chamberi call on her and say you come from me; you
will be welcome and you will be as much surprised as I am."
"I will do so, after I have been in Italy. However, I will not
shew her this portrait, which would scandalize her; I will put it
"I beg you not to shew it to anyone."
"You may rely on me."
I was in an ecstasy at having put her off so effectually.
At eight o'clock all my guests arrived, and I saw before me all
the fairest ladies and the noblest gentlemen of Grenoble. The
only thing which vexed me was the compliments they lavished on me,
as is customary in the provinces.
I opened the ball with the lady pointed out to me by
M. Valenglard, and then I danced with all the ladies in succession;
but my partner in all the square dances was the fair Mdlle. Roman,
who shone from her simplicity--at least, in my eyes.
After a quadrille, in which I had exerted myself a good deal, I
felt hot and went up to my room to put on a lighter suit, and as I
was doing so, in came the fair cousin, who asked me if I required
"Yes, you, dearest," I replied, going up to her and taking her in
my arms. "Did anyone see you coming in here?"
"No, I came from upstairs, and my cousins are in the
"That is capital. You are fair as Love himself, and this is an
excellent opportunity for skewing you how much I love you."
"Good heavens! What are you doing? Let me go, somebody might
come in. Well, put out the light!"
I put it out, shut the door, and, my head full of Mdlle. Roman,
the cousin found me as ardent as I should have been with that
delightful person. I confess, too, that the door-keeper's niece
was well worthy of being loved on her own merits. I found her
perfect, perhaps better than Mdlle. Roman, a novice, would have
been. In spite of my ardour her passion was soon appeased, and
she begged me to let her go, and I did so; but it was quite time.
I wanted to begin over again, but she was afraid that our absence
would be noticed by her two Argus-eyed cousins, so she kissed me
and left the room.
I went back to the ball-room, and we danced on till the king of
door-keepers came to tell us supper was ready.
A collation composed of the luxuries which the season and the
country afforded covered the table; but what pleased the ladies
most was the number and artistic arrangement of the wax lights.
I sat down at a small table with a few of my guests, and I
received the most pressing invitations to spend the autumn in
their town. I am sure that if I had accepted I should have been
treated like a prince, for the nobility of Grenoble bear the
highest character for hospitality. I told them that if it had
been possible I should have had the greatest pleasure in accepting
their invitation, and in that case I should have been delighted to
have made the acquaintance of the family of an illustrious
gentleman, a friend of my father's.
"What name is it?" they asked me, altogether.
"Bouchenu de Valbonnais."
"He was my uncle. Ah! sir, you must come and stay with us. You
danced with my daughter. What was your father's name?"
This story, which I invented, and uttered as I was wont, on the
spur of the moment, turned me into a sort of wonder in the eyes of
the worthy people.
After we had laughed, jested, drank, and eaten, we rose from the
table and began to dance anew.
Seeing Madame Morin, her niece, and Valenglard going into the
garden, I followed them, and as we walked in the moonlight I led
the fair Mdlle. Roman through a covered alley; but all my fine
speeches were in vain; I could do nothing. I held her between my
arms, I covered her with burning kisses, but not one did she
return to me, and her hands offered a successful resistance to my
hardy attempts. By a sudden effort, however, I at last attained
the porch of the temple of love, and held her in such a way that
further resistance would have been of no avail; but she stopped me
short by saying in a voice which no man of feeling could have
"Be my friend, sir, and not my enemy and the cause of my ruin."
I knelt before her, and taking her hand begged her pardon,
swearing not to renew my attempts. I then rose and asked her to
kiss me as a pledge of her forgiveness. We rejoined her aunt, and
returned to the ball-room, but with all my endeavours I could not
regain my calm.
I sat down in a corner of the room, and I asked Rose, who passed
by me, to get me a glass of lemonade. When she brought it she
gently chid me for not having danced with her, her sister, or her
"It will give people but a poor opinion of our merits."
"I am tired," said I, "but if you will promise to be kind I will
dance a minuet with you."
"What do want me to do?" said she.
"Go into my bedroom and wait for me there in the dark when you see
your sister and your cousin busy dancing."
"And you will only dance with me."
"Then you will find me in your room."
I found her passionate, and I had full satisfaction. To keep my
word with her I waited for the closing minuet, for having danced
with Rose I felt obliged in common decency to dance with the other
two, especially as I owed them the same debt.
At day-break the ladies began to vanish, and as I put the Morins
into my carriage I told them that I could not have the pleasure of
seeing them again that day, but that if they would come and spend
the whole of the day after with me I would have the horoscope
I went to the kitchen to thank the worthy door-keeper for having
made me cut such a gallant figure, and I found the three nymphs
there, filling their pockets with sweetmeats. He told them,
laughing, that as the master was there they might rob him with a
clear conscience, and I bade them take as much as they would. I
informed the door-keeper that I should not dine till six, and I
then went to bed.
I awoke at noon, and feeling myself well rested I set to work at
the horoscope, and I resolved to tell the fair Mdlle. Roman that
fortune awaited her at Paris, where she would become her master's
mistress, but that the monarch must see her before she had
attained her eighteenth year, as at that time her destiny would
take a different turn. To give my prophecy authority, I told her
some curious circumstances which had hitherto happened to her, and
which I had learnt now and again from herself or Madame Morin
without pretending to heed what they said.
With an Ephemeris and another astrological book, I made out and
copied in six hours Mdlle. Roman's horoscope, and I had so well
arranged it that it struck Valenglard and even M. Morin with
astonishment, and made the two ladies quite enthusiastic.
My horoscope must only be known to the young lady and her family,
who would no doubt keep the secret well. After I had put the
finishing touches to it, read it, and read it again, I felt
certain that I had made a masterpiece, and I then dined in bed
with my three nymphs. I was polite and affectionate to them all,
and we were all happy together, but I was the happiest. M. de
Valenglard came to see me early the next day, and informed me that
nobody suspected me of being in love with Mdlle. Roman, but that I
was thought to be amorous of my landlord's girls.
"Well, let them think so," said I; "they are worthy of love,
though not to be named in the same breath with one past compare,
but who leaves me no hope."
"Let me tell Madame d'Urfe all about it."
"Certainly; I shall be delighted."
M. and Madame Morin and their niece came at noon, and we spent the
hour before dinner in reading the horoscope. It would be
impossible to describe the four distinct sorts of surprise which I
saw before me. The interesting Mdlle. Roman looked very grave,
and, not knowing whether she had a will of her own, listened to
what was said in silence. M. Morin looked at me now and again,
and seeing that I kept a serious countenance did not dare to
laugh. Valenglard shewed fanatic belief in astrology in every
feature. Madame Morin seemed struck as by a miracle, and, far
from thinking the fact prophesied too improbable, remarked that
her niece was much more worthy of becoming her sovereign's wife or
mistress than the bigoted Maintenon had been.
"She would never have done anything," said Madame Morin, "if she
had not left America and come to France; and if my niece does not
go to Paris nobody can say that the horoscope has prophesied
falsely. We should therefore--go to Paris, but how is it to be
done? I don't see my way to it. The prediction of the birth of a
son has something divine and entrancing about it. I don't wish to
seem prejudiced, but my niece has certainly more qualifications
for gaining the king's affection than the Maintenon had: my niece
is a good girl and young, while the Maintenon was no longer as
young as she had been, and had led a strange life before she
became a devotee. But we shall never accomplish this journey to
"Nay," said Valenglard, in a serious tone, which struck me as
supremely ridiculous, "she must go; her fate must be fulfilled."
The fair Mdlle. Roman seemed all amazed. I let them talk on, and
we sat down to dinner.
[The next two paragraphs were misplaced in the original,
likely by the typesetter, and have been inserted here where it
seems that they belong. D.W.]
I hoped I should be asked to take the diamond to Paris myself, and
I felt inclined to grant the request. I flattered myself that
they could not do without me, and that I should get what I wanted,
if not for love at any rate through gratitude; indeed, who knew
what might become of the plan? The monarch would be sure to be
caught directly. I had no doubts on that subject, for where is
the man in love who does not think that his beloved object will
win the hearts of all others? For the moment I felt quite jealous
of the king, but, from my thorough knowledge of my own
inconstancy, I felt sure that my jealousy would cease when my love
had been rewarded, and I was aware that Louis XV. did not
altogether hold the opinions of a Turk in such concerns. What
gave an almost divine character to the horoscope was the
prediction of a son to be born, who would make the happiness of
France, and could only come from the royal blood and from a
singular vessel of election.
A curious fancy increased my delight, namely, the thought of
becoming a famous astrologer in an age when reason and science had
so justly demolished astrology. I enjoyed the thought of seeing
myself sought out by crowned heads, which are always the more
accessible to superstitious notions. I determined I would be
particular to whom I gave my advice. Who has not made his castles
in Spain? If Mdlle. Roman gave birth to a daughter instead of a
son I should be amused, and all would not be lost, for a son might
At first silence reigned, and then the conversation ran on a
thousand trifles, as is usual in good society, but by degrees, as
I had thought, they returned to the horoscope.
"According to the horoscope," said the aunt, "the king is to fall
in love with my niece in her eighteenth year; she is now close on
it. What are we to do? Where are we to get the hundred louis
necessary? And when she gets to Paris is she to go to the king
and say, 'Here I am, your majesty'? And who is going to take her
there? I can't."
"My aunt Roman might," said the young lady, blushing up to her
eyes at the roar of laughter which none of us could restrain.
"Well," said Madame Morin, "there is Madame Varnier, of the Rue de
Richelieu; she is an aunt of yours. She has a good establishment,
and knows everybody."
"See," said Valenglard, "how the ways of destiny are made plain.
You talk of a hundred louis; twelve will be sufficient to take you
to Madame Varnier's. When you get there, leave the rest to your
fate, which will surely favour you."
"If you do go to Paris," said I, "say nothing to Madame Roman or
Madame Varnier about the horoscope."
"I will say nothing to anyone about it; but, after all, it is only
a happy dream. I shall never see Paris, still less Louis XV."
I arose, and going to my cash-box I took out a roll of a hundred
and fifty louis, which I gave to her, saying it was a packet of
sweetmeats. It felt rather heavy, and on opening it she found it
to contain fifty pieces-of-eight, which she took for medals.
"They are gold," said Valenglard.
"And the goldsmith will give you a hundred and fifty louis for
them," added M. Morin.
"I beg you will keep them; you can give me a bill payable at Paris
when you become rich."
I knew she would refuse to accept my present, although I should
have been delighted if she had kept the money. But I admired her
strength of mind in restraining her tears, and that without
disturbing for a moment the smile on her face.
We went out to take a turn in the garden. Valenglard and Madame
Morin began on the topic of the horoscope anew, and I left them,
taking Mdlle. Roman with me.
"I wish you would tell me," said she, when we were out of hearing
of the others, "if this horoscope is not all a joke."
"No," I answered, "it is quite serious, but it all depends on an
if. If you do not go to Paris the prophecy will never be
"You must think so, certainly, or you would never have offered me
those fifty medals."
"Do me the pleasure of accepting them now; nobody will know
anything about it."
"No, I cannot, though I am much obliged to you. But why should
you want to give me such a large sum?"
"For the pleasure of contributing to your happiness, and in the
hope that you will allow me to love you."
"If you really love met why should I oppose your love? You need
not buy my consent; and to be happy I do not want to possess the
King of France, if you did but know to what my desires are
"I would fain find a kind husband, rich enough for us not to lack
the necessaries of life."
"But how if you did not love him?"
"If he was a good, kind man how could I help loving him?"
"I see that you do not know what love is."
"You are right. I do not know the love that maddens, and I thank
God for it."
"Well, I think you are wise; may God preserve you from that love."
"You say, that as soon as the king sees me he will fall in love
with me, and to tell you the truth that strikes me as vastly
improbable; for though it is quite possible that he may not think
me plain, or he might even pronounce me pretty, yet I do not think
he will become so madly in love as you say."
"You don't? Let us sit down. You have only got to fancy that the
king will take the same liking to you that I have done; that is
"But what do you find in me that you will not find in most girls
of my age? I certainly may have struck you; but that only proves
that I was born to exercise this sway over you, and not at all
that I am to rule the king in like manner. Why should I go and
look for the king, if you love me yourself?"
"Because I cannot give you the position you deserve."
"I should have thought you had plenty of money."
"Then there's another reason: you are not in love with me."
"I love you as tenderly as if I were your wife. I might then kiss
you, though duty now forbids my doing so."
"I am much obliged to you for not being angry with me for being so
happy with you!"
"On the contrary, I am delighted to please you."
"Then you will allow me to call on you at an early hour to-morrow,
and to take coffee at your bedside."
"Do not dream of such a thing. If I would I could not. I sleep
with my aunt, and I always rise at the same time she does. Take
away your hand; you promised not to do it again. In God's name,
let me alone."
Alas! I had to stop; there was no overcoming her. But what
pleased me extremely was that in spite of my amorous persecution
she did not lose that smiling calm which so became her. As for
myself I looked as if I deserved that pardon for which I pleaded
on my knees, and in her eyes I read that she was sorry that she
could not grant what I required of her.
I could no longer stay beside her, my senses were too excited by
her beauty. I left her and went to my room where I found the kind
Manon busying herself on my cuffs, and she gave me the relief I
wanted, and when we were both satisfied made her escape. I
reflected that I should never obtain more than I had obtained
hitherto from young Mdlle. Roman--at least, unless I gave the lie
to my horoscope by marrying her, and I decided that I would not
take any further steps in the matter. I returned to the garden,
and going up to the aunt I begged her to walk with me. In vain I
urged the worthy woman to accept a hundred louis for her niece's
journey from me. I swore to her by all I held sacred that no one
else should ever know of the circumstance. All my eloquence and
all my prayers were in vain. She told me that if her niece's
destiny only depended on that journey all would be well, for she
had thought over a plan which would, with her husband's consent,
enable Mdlle. Roman to go to Paris. At the same time she gave me
her sincerest thanks, and said that her niece was very fortunate
to have pleased me so well.
"She pleased me so well," I replied, "that I have resolved to go
away to-morrow to avoid making proposals to you which would bring
the great fortune that awaits her to nought. If it were not for
that I should have been happy to have asked her hand of you."
"Alas! her happiness would, perhaps, be built on a better
foundation. Explain yourself."
"I dare not wage war with fate."
"But you are not going to-morrow?"
"Excuse me, but I shall call to take leave at two o'clock."
The news of my approaching departure saddened the supper-table.
Madame Morin, who, for all I know, may be alive now, was a most
kind-hearted woman. At table she announced her resolve that as I
had decided on going, and as I should only leave my house to take
leave of her, she would not force me to put myself out to such an
extent, and ordained that our farewells should be said that
"At least," I said, "I may have the honour of escorting you to
"That will protract our happiness for some minutes." Valenglard
went away on foot, and the fair Mdlle. Roman sat on my knee. I
dared to be bold with her, and contrary to expectation she shewed
herself so kind that I was half sorry I was going; but the die was
A carriage lying overturned on the road outside an inn made my
coachman stop a short while, and this accident which made the poor
driver curse overwhelmed me with joy, for in these few moments I
obtained all the favours that she could possibly give under the
Happiness enjoyed alone is never complete. Mine was not until I
assured myself, by looking at my sweetheart's features, that the
part she had taken had not been an entirely passive one; and I
escorted the ladies to their room. There, without any conceit, I
was certain that I saw sadness and love upon that fair creature's
face. I could see that she was neither cold nor insensible, and
that the obstacles she had put in my way were only suggested by
fear and virtue. I gave Madame Morin a farewell kiss, and she was
kind enough to tell her niece to give me a similar mark of
friendship, which she did in a way that shewed me how completely
she had shared my ardour.
I left them, feeling amorous and sorry I had obliged myself to go.
On entering my room I found the three nymphs together, which vexed
me as I only wanted one. I whispered my wishes to Rose as she
curled my hair, but she told me it was impossible for her to slip
away as they all slept in one room. I then told them that I was
going away the next day, and that if they would pass the night
with me I would give them a present of six louis each. They
laughed at my proposal and said it couldn't possibly be done. I
saw by this they had not made confidantes of one another, as girls
mostly do, and I also saw that they were jealous of each other. I
wished them a good night, and as soon as I was in bed the god of
dreams took me under his care, and made me pass the night with the
adorable Mdlle. Roman.
I rang rather late in the morning, and the cousin came in and said
that Rose would bring my chocolate, and that M. Charles Ivanoff
wanted to speak to me. I guessed that this was the Russian, but
as he had not been introduced to me I thought I might decline to
"Tell him I don't know his name."
Rose went out, and came in again saying he was the gentleman who
had had the honour of supping with me at Madame Morin's.
"Tell him to come in."
"Sir," said he, "I want to speak with you in private."
"I cannot order these young ladies to leave my room, sir. Be kind
enough to wait for me outside till I have put on my dressing-gown,
and then I shall be ready to speak to you."
"If I am troubling you, I will call again to-morrow."
"You would not find me, as I am leaving Grenoble to-day."
"In that case I will wait."
I got up in haste and went out to him.
"Sir," said he, "I must leave this place, and I have not a penny
to pay my landlord. I beg of you to come to my aid. I dare not
have recourse to anyone else in the town for fear of exposing
myself to the insult of a refusal."
"Perhaps I ought to feel myself flattered at the preference you
have shewn me, but without wishing to insult you in any way I am
afraid I shall be obliged to refuse your request."
"If you knew who I am I am sure you would not refuse me some small
"If you think so, tell me who you are; you may count on my
"I am Charles, second son of Ivan, Duke of Courland, who is in
exile in Siberia. I made my escape."
"If you go to Genoa you will find yourself beyond the reach of
poverty; for no doubt the brother of your lady-mother would never
"He died in Silesia."
"Two years ago, I believe."
"You have been deceived, for I saw him at Stuttgart scarcely six
months ago. He is the Baron de Treiden."
It did not cost me much to get wind of the adventurer, but I felt
angry that he had had the impudence to try and dupe me. If it had
not been for that I would willingly have given him six louis, for
it would have been bad form on my part to declare war against
adventurers, as I was one myself, and I ought to have pardoned his
lies as nearly all adventurers are more or less impostors.
I gave a glance at his diamond buckles, which were considered real
at Grenoble, and I saw directly that they were counterfeits of a
kind made in Venice, which imitate the facets of the diamonds in
perfection, except to people who are experienced in diamonds.
"You have diamond buckles," said I. "Why don't you sell them?"
"It's the last piece of jewellery I possess out of all my mother
gave me, and I promised her never to part with them."
"I would not shew those buckles if I were you; your pocket would
be a better place for them. I may tell you frankly that I believe
the stones to be counterfeit, and that your lie displeases me."
"Sir, I am not a liar."
"We shall see. Prove that the stones are genuine, and I will give
you six louis. I shall be delighted if I am in the wrong.
Seeing M. de Valerlglard coming up to my door, he begged me not to
tell him of what had passed between us; and I promised that I
would tell no one.
Valenglard came to wish me a prosperous journey; he himself was
obliged to go with M. Monteinard. He begged me to correspond
constantly with him, and I had been intending to prefer the same
request, as I took too great an interest in the fair Mdlle. Roman
not to wish to hear of her fate, and the correspondence the worthy
officer desired was the best way possible for me to hear about
her. As will be imagined, I promised what he asked without making
any difficulty. He shed tears as he embraced me, and I promised
to be his friend.
My Departure from Grenoble--Avignon--The Fountain of Vaucluse--The
False Astrodi and the Humpback--Gaetan Costa--I Arrive at
While the three girls were helping Le Duc to pack my mails my
landlord entered, gave me his bill, and finding everything correct
I paid him, much to his satisfaction. I owed him a compliment,
too, at which he seemed extremely gratified.
"Sir," said I, "I do not wish to leave your house without having
the pleasure of dining with your charming girls, to shew them how
I appreciate the care they have taken of me. Let me have, then, a
delicate repast for four, and also order post horses, that I may
start in the evening."
"Sir," broke in Le Duc, "I entreat you to order a saddle-horse
besides; I was not made for a seat behind a chaise."
The cousin laughed openly at his vain boasting, and to avenge
himself the rascal told her that he was better than she.
"Nevertheless, M. le Duc, you will have to wait on her at table."
"Yes, as she waits on you in bed."
I ran for my stick, but the rogue, knowing what was going to
happen, opened the window and jumped into the courtyard. The
girls gave a shriek of terror, but when we looked out we saw him
jumping about and performing a thousand apish tricks.
Very glad to find that he had not broken a limb, I called out,
"Come back, I forgive you." The girls, and the man himself who
escaped so readily, were as delighted as I. Le Duc came in in
high spirits, observing that he did not know he was such a good
"Very good, but don't be so impudent another time. Here, take
So saying, I gave him a valuable gold watch, which he received,
"I would jump again for another watch like this."
Such was my Spaniard, whom I had to dismiss two years afterwards.
I have often missed him.
The hours went by with such speed when I was seated at table with
the three girls, whom I vainly endeavoured to intoxicate, that I
decided that I would not leave till the next day. I was tired of
making mysteries and wanted to enjoy them all together, and
resolved that the orgy should take place that night. I told them
that if they would pass the night in my room I would not go till
the next day. This proposition was received with a storm of
exclamations and with laughter, as at an impossibility, while I
endeavoured to excite them to grant my request. In the midst of
this the door-keeper came in, advising me not to travel by night,
but to go to Avignon by a boat in which I could ship my carriage.
"You will save time and money," said he.
"I will do so," I answered, "if these girls of yours will keep me
company all night, as I am determined I will not go to bed."
"O Lord!" said he with a laugh, "that's their business."
This decided them and they gave in. The door-keeper sent to order
the boat, and promised to let me have a dainty supper by midnight.
The hours passed by in jests and merriment, and when we sat down
to supper I made the champagne corks fly to such an extent that
the girls began to get rather gay. I myself felt a little heated,
and as I held each one's secret I had the hardihood to tell them
that their scruples were ridiculous, as each of them had shewn no
reserve to me in private.
At this they gazed at one another in a kind of blank surprise, as
if indignant at what I had said. Foreseeing that feminine pride
might prompt them to treat my accusation as an idle calumny, I
resolved not to give them time, and drawing Manon on to my knee I
embraced her with such ardour that she gave in and abandoned
herself to my passion. Her example overcame the others, and for
five hours we indulged in every kind of voluptuous enjoyment. At
the end of that time we were all in need of rest, but I had to go.
I wanted to give them some jewels, but they said they would rather
I ordered gloves to the amount of thirty louis, the money to be
paid in advance, and the gloves not to be called for.
I went to sleep on board the boat, and did not awake till we got
to Avignon. I was conducted to the inn of "St. Omen" and supped
in my room in spite of the marvellous tales which Le Duc told me
of a young beauty at the public table.
Next morning my Spaniard told me that the beauty and her husband
slept in a room next to mine. At the same time he brought me a
bill of the play, and I saw Company from Paris, with Mdlle.
Astrodi, who was to sing and dance. I gave a cry of wonder, and
"The famous Astrodi at Avignon--how she will be astonished to see
Not wanting to live in hermit fashion, I went downstairs to dine
at the public table, and I found a score of people sitting down to
such a choice repast that I could not conceive how it could be
done for forty sous a head. The fair stranger drew all eyes, and
especially mine, towards her. She was a young and perfect beauty,
silent, her eyes fixed on a napkin, replying in monosyllables to
those who addressed her, and glancing at the speaker with large
blue eyes, the beauty of which it would be difficult to describe.
Her husband was seated at the other end of the table--a man of a
kind that inspires contempt at the first glance. He was young,
marked with the small-pox, a greedy eater, a loud talker, laughing
and speaking at random, and altogether I took him for a servant in
disguise. Feeling sure that such a fellow did not know how to
refuse, I sent him a glass of champagne, which he drank off to my
health forthwith. "May I have the pleasure of sending a glass to
your wife?" He replied, with a roar of laughter, to ask her
myself; and with a slight bow she told me that she never took
anything to drink. When the dessert came in she rose, and her
husband followed her to their room.
A stranger who like myself had never seen her before, asked me who
she was. I said I was a newcomer and did not know, and somebody
else said that her husband called himself the Chevalier Stuard,
that he came from Lyons, and was going to Marseilles; he came, it
appeared, to Avignon a week ago, without servants, and in a very
I intended staying at Avignon only as long as might be necessary
to see the Fountain or Fall of Vaucluse, and so I had not got any
letters of introduction, and had not the pretext of acquaintance
that I might stay and enjoy her fine eyes. But an Italian who had
read and enjoyed the divine Petrarch would naturally wish to see
the place made divine by the poet's love for Laura. I went to the
theatre, where I saw the vice-legate Salviati, women of fashion,
neither fair nor foul, and a wretched comic opera; but I neither
saw Astrodi nor any other actor from the Comedie Italienne at
"Where is the famous Astrodi?" said I, to a young man sitting by
me, "I have not seen her yet."
"Excuse me, she has danced and sang before your eyes."
"By Jove, it's impossible! I know her perfectly, and if she has
so changed as not to be recognized she is no longer herself."
I turned to go, and two minutes after the young man I had
addressed came up and begged me to come back, and he would take me
to Astradi's dressing-room, as she had recognized me. I followed
him without saying a word, and saw a plain-looking girl, who threw
her arms round my neck and addressed me by my name, though I could
have sworn I had never seen her before, but she did not leave me
time to speak. Close by I saw a man who gave himself out as the
father of the famous Astrodi, who was known to all Paris, who had
caused the death of the Comte d'Egmont, one of the most amiable
noblemen of the Court of Louis XV. I thought this ugly female
might be her sister, so I sat down and complimented her on her
talents. She asked if I would mind her changing her dress; and in
a moment she was running here and there, laughing and shewing a
liberality which possibly might have been absent if what she had
to display had been worth seeing.
I laughed internally at her wiles, for after my experiences at
Grenoble she would have found it a hard task to arouse my desires
if she had been as pretty as she was ugly. Her thinness and her
tawny skin could not divert my attention from other still less
pleasing features about her. I admired her confidence in spite of
her disadvantages. She must have credited me with a diabolic
appetite, but these women often contrive to extract charms out of
their depravity which their delicacy would be impotent to furnish.
She begged me to sup with her, and as she persisted I was obliged
to refuse her in a way I should not have allowed myself to use
with any other woman. She then begged me to take four tickets for
the play the next day, which was to be for her benefit. I saw it
was only a matter of twelve francs, and delighted to be quit of
her so cheaply I told her to give me sixteen. I thought she would
have gone mad with joy when I gave her a double louis. She was
not the real Astrodi. I went back to my inn and had a delicious
supper in my own room.
While Le Duc was doing my hair before I went to bed, he told me
that the landlord had paid a visit to the fair stranger and her
husband before supper, and had said in clear terms that he must be
paid next morning; and if he were not, no place would be laid for
them at table, and their linen would be detained.
"Who told you that?"
"I heard it from here; their room is only separated from this by a
wooden partition. If they were in it now, I am sure they could
hear all we are saying."
"Where are they, then?"
"At table, where they are eating for to-morrow, but the lady is
crying. There's a fine chance for you, sir."
"Be quiet; I shan't have anything to do with it. It's a trap, for
a woman of any worth would die rather than weep at a public
"Ah, if you saw how pretty she looks in tears! I am only a poor
devil, but I would willingly give her two louis if she would earn
"Go and offer her the money."
A moment after the gentleman and his wife came back to their room,
and I heard the loud voice of the one and the sobs of the other,
but as he was speaking Walloon I did not understand what he said.
"Go to bed," said I to Le Duc, "and next morning tell the landlord
to get me another room, for a wooden partition is too thin a
barrier to keep off people whom despair drive to extremities."
I went to bed myself, and the sobs and muttering did not die away
I was shaving next morning, when Le Duc announced the Chevalier
"Say I don't know anybody of that name."
He executed my orders, and returned saying that the chevalier on
hearing my refusal to see him had stamped with rage, gone into his
chamber, and come out again with his sword beside him.
"I am going to see," added Le Duc, "that your pistols are well
primed for the future."
I felt inclined to laugh, but none the less I admired the
foresight of my Spaniard, for a man in despair is capable of
"Go," said I, "and ask the landlord to give me another room."
In due course the landlord came himself and told me that he could
not oblige me until the next day.
"If you don't get me another room I shall leave your house on the
spot, because I don't like hearing sobs and reproaches all night."
"Can you hear them, sir?"
"You can hear them yourself now. What do you think of it? The
woman will kill herself, and you will be the cause of her death."
"I, sir? I have only asked them to pay me my just debts."
"Hush! there goes the husband. I am sure he is telling his wife
in his language that you are an unfeeling monster."
"He may tell her what he likes so long as he pays me."
"You have condemned them to die of hunger. How much do they owe
"Aren't you ashamed of making such a row for a wretched sum like
"Sir, I am only ashamed of an ill deed, and I do not commit such a
deed in asking for my own."
"There's your money. Go and tell them that you have been paid,
and that they may eat again; but don't say who gave you the
"That's what I call a good action," said the fellow; and he went
and told them that they did not owe him anything, but that they
would never know who paid the money.
"You may dine and sup," he added, "at the public table, but you
must pay me day by day."
After he had delivered this speech in a high voice, so that I
could hear as well as if I had been in the room, he came back to
"You stupid fool!" said I, pushing him away, "they will know
everything." So saying I shut my door.
Le Duc stood in front of me, staring stupidly before him.
"What's the matter with you, idiot?" said I.
"That's fine. I see. I am going on the stage. You would do well
to become an actor."
"You are a fool."
"Not so big a fool as you think."
"I am going for a walk; mind you don't leave my room for a
I had scarcely shut the door when the chevalier accosted me and
overwhelmed me with thanks.