Part 48 out of 70
forgotten something in my room, and going to my Hebe's chamber I
found her in a terrible state, choking with sobs. I pressed her
to my breast, and mingled my tears with hers; and then laying her
gently in her bed, and snatching a last kiss from her trembling
lips, I tore myself away from a place full of such sweet and
I thanked and embraced everyone, the good canon amongst others,
and whispering to Eleanore to see to her sister I jumped into the
carriage beside the count. We remained perfectly silent, and
slept nearly the whole of the way. We found the Marquis Triulzi
and the countess together, and the former immediately sent for a
dinner for four. I was not much astonished to find that the
countess had found out about our being at Milan, and at first she
seemed inclined to let us feel the weight of her anger; but the
count, always fertile in expedients, told her that it was delicacy
on my part not to tell her, as I was afraid she would be put out
with such an incursion of visitors.
At dinner I said that I should soon be leaving for Genoa, and for
my sorrow the marquis gave me a letter of introduction to the
notorious Signora Isola-Bella, while the countess gave me a letter
to her kinsman the Bishop of Tortona.
My arrival at Milan was well-timed; Therese was on the point of
going to Palermo, and I just succeeded in seeing her before she
left. I talked to her of the wish of Cesarino to go to sea, and I
did all in my power to make her yield to his inclinations.
"I am leaving him at Milan," said she. "I know how he got this
idea into his head, but I will never give my consent. I hope I
shall find him wiser by the time I come back."
She was mistaken. My son never altered his mind, and in fifteen
years my readers will hear more of him.
I settled my accounts with Greppi and took two bills of exchange
on Marseilles, and one of ten thousand francs on Genoa, where I
did not think I would have to spend much money. In spite of my
luck at play, I was poorer by a thousand sequins when I left Milan
than when I came there; but my extravagant expenditure must be
taken into account.
I spent all my afternoons with the fair Marchioness sometimes
alone and sometimes with her cousin, but with my mind full of
grief for Clementine she no longer charmed me as she had done
three weeks ago.
I had no need to make any mystery about the young lady I was going
to take with me, so I sent Clairmont for her small trunk, and at
eight o'clock on the morning of my departure she waited on me at
the count's. I kissed the hand of the woman who had attempted my
life, and thanked her for her hospitality, to which I attributed
the good reception I had had at Milan. I then thanked the count,
who said once more that he should never cease to be grateful to
me, and thus I left Milan on the 20th of March, 1763. I never re-
visited that splendid capital.
The young lady, whom out of respect for her and her family I
called Crosin, was charming. There was an air of nobility and
high-bred reserve about her which bore witness to her excellent
upbringing. As I sat next to her, I congratulated myself on my
immunity from love of her, but the reader will guess that I was
mistaken. I told Clairmont that she was to be called my niece,
and to be treated with the utmost respect.
I had had no opportunity of conversing with her, so the first
thing I did was to test her intelligence, and though I had not the
slightest intention of paying my court to her, I felt that it
would be well to inspire her with friendship and confidence as far
as I was concerned.
The scar which my late amours had left was still bleeding, and I
was glad to think that I should be able to restore the young
Marseillaise to the paternal hearth without any painful partings
or vain regrets. I enjoyed in advance my meritorious action, and
I was quite vain to see my self-restraint come to such a pitch
that I was able to live in close intimacy with a pretty girl
without any other desire than that of rescuing her from the shame
into which she might have fallen if she had traveled alone. She
felt my kindness to her, and said,--
"I am sure M. de la Croix would not have abandoned me if he had
not met you at Milan."
"You are very charitable, but I am unable to share in your good
opinion. To my mind Croce has behaved in a rascally manner, to
say the least of it, for in spite of your many charms he had no
right to count on me in the matter. I will not say that he openly
scorned you, since he might have acted from despair; but I am sure
he must have ceased to love you, or he could never have abandoned
"I am sure of the contrary. He saw that he had no means of
providing for me, and he had to choose between leaving me and
"Not at all. He ought to have sold all he had and sent you back
to Marseilles. Your journey to Genoa would not have cost much,
and thence you could have gone to Marseilles by sea. Croce
counted on my having been interested in your pretty face, and he
was right; but you must see that he exposed you to a great risk.
You must not be offended if I tell you the plain truth. If your
face had not inspired me with a lively interest in you, I should
have only felt ordinary compassion on reading your appeal, and
this would not have been enough to force me to great sacrifices of
time and trouble. But I have no business to be blaming Croce.
You are hurt; I see you are still in love with him."
"I confess it, and I pity him. As for myself, I only pity my
cruel destiny. I shall never see him again, but I shall never
love anyone else, for my mind is made up. I shall go into a
convent and expiate my sins. My father will pardon me, for he is
a man of an excellent heart. I have been the victim of love; my
will was not my own. The seductive influence of passion ravished
my reason from me, and the only thing that I blame myself for is
for not having fortified my mind against it. Otherwise I cannot
see that I have sinned deeply, but I confess I have done wrong."
"You would have gone with Croce from Milan if he had asked you,
even on foot."
"Of course; it would have been my duty; but he would not expose me
to the misery that he saw before us."
"Nay, you were miserable enough already. I am sure that if you
meet him at Marseilles you will go with him again."
"Never. I begin to get back my reason. I am free once more, and
the day will come when I shall thank God for having forgotten
Her sincerity pleased me, and as I knew too well the power of love
I pitied her from my heart. For two hours she told me the history
of her unfortunate amour, and as she told it well I began to take
a liking for her.
We reached Tortona in the evening, and with the intention of
sleeping there I told Clairmont to get us a supper to my taste.
While we were eating it I was astonished at my false niece's wit,
and she made a good match for me at the meal, for she had an
excellent appetite, and drank as well as any girl of her age. As
we were leaving the table, she made a jest which was so much to
the point that I burst out laughing, and her conquest was
complete. I embraced her in the joy of my heart, and finding my
kiss ardently returned, I asked her without any, circumlocution if
she was willing that we should content ourselves with one bed.
At this invitation her face fell, and she replied, with an air of
submission which kills desire,--
"Alas! you can do what you like. If liberty is a precious thing,
it is most precious of all in love."
"There is no need for this disobedience. You have inspired me
with a tender passion, but if you don't share my feelings my love
for you shall be stifled at its birth. There are two beds here,
as you see; you can choose which one you will sleep in."
"Then I will sleep in that one, but I shall be very sorry if you
are not so kind to me in the future as you have been in the past."
"Don't be afraid. You shall not find me un worthy of your esteem.
Good night; we shall be good friends."
Early the next morning I sent the countess's letter to the bishop,
and an hour afterwards, as I was at breakfast, an old priest came
to ask me and the lady with me to dine with my lord. The
countess's letter did not say anything about a lady, but the
prelate, who was a true Spaniard and very polite, felt that as I
could not leave my real or false niece alone in the inn I should
not have accepted the invitation if she had not been asked as
well. Probably my lord had heard of the lady through his footmen,
who in Italy are a sort of spies, who entertain their masters with
the scandalous gossip of the place. A bishop wants something more
than his breviary to amuse him now that the apostolic virtues have
grown old-fashioned and out of date; in short, I accepted the
invitation, charging the priest to present my respects to his
My niece was delightful, and treated me as if I had no right to
feel any resentment for her having preferred her own bed to mine.
I was pleased with her behaviour, for now that my head was cool I
felt that she would have degraded herself if she had acted
otherwise. My vanity was not even wounded, which is so often the
case under similar circumstances. Self-love and prejudice prevent
a woman yielding till she has been assidiously courted, whereas I
had asked her to share my bed in an off-hand manner, as if it were
a mere matter of form. However, I should not have done it unless
it had been for the fumes of the champagne and the Somard, with
which we had washed down the delicious supper mine host had
supplied us with. She had been flattered by the bishop's
invitation, but she did not know whether I had accepted for her as
well as myself; and when I told her that we were going out to
dinner together, she was wild with joy. She made a careful
toilette, looking very well for a traveller, and at noon my lord's
carriage came to fetch us.
The prelate was a tall man, two inches taller than myself; and in
spite of the weight of his eighty years, he looked well and seemed
quite active, though grave as became a Spanish grandee. He
received us with a politeness which was almost French, and when my
niece would have kissed his hand, according to custom, he
affectionately drew it back, and gave her a magnificent cross of
amethysts and brilliants to kiss. She kissed it with devotion,
"This is what I love."
She looked at me as she said it, and the jest (which referred to
her lover La Croix or Croce) surprised me.
We sat down to dinner, and I found the bishop to be a pleasant and
a learned man. We were nine in all; four priests, and two young
gentlemen of the town, who behaved to my niece with great
politeness, which she received with all the manner of good
society. I noticed that the bishop, though he often spoke to her,
never once looked at her face. My lord knew what danger lurked in
those bright eyes, and like a prudent greybeard he took care not
to fall into the snare. After coffee had been served, we took
leave, and in four hours we left Tortona, intending to lie at
In the course of the afternoon my fair niece amused me with the
wit and wisdom of her conversation. While we were supping I led
the conversation up to the bishop, and then to religion, that I
might see what her principles were. Finding her to be a good
Christian, I asked her how she could allow herself to make a jest
when she kissed the prelate's cross.
"It was a mere chance," she said. "The equivocation was innocent
because it was not premeditated, for if I had thought it over I
should never have said such a thing."
I pretended to believe her; she might possibly be sincere. She
was extremely clever, and my love for her was becoming more and
more ardent, but my vanity kept my passion in check. When she
went to bed I did not kiss her, but as her bed had no screen as at
Tortona, she waited until she thought I was asleep to undress
herself. We got to Genoa by noon the next day.
Pogomas had got me some rooms and had forwarded me the address.
I visited it, and found the apartment to consist of four well-
furnished rooms, thoroughly comfortable, as the English, who
understand how to take their ease, call it. I ordered a good
dinner, and sent to tell Pogomas of my arrival.
THE MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA DE SEINGALT
THE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF 1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR
MACHEN TO WHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERS DISCOVERED BY ARTHUR
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA de SEINGALT 1725-1798
IN LONDON AND MOSCOW, Volume 5a--SOUTH OF FRANCE
SOUTH OF FRANCE
I Find Rosalie Happy--The Signora Isola-Bella--The Cook--Biribi
--Irene--Possano in Prison--My Niece Proves to be an Old Friend of
At Genoa, where he was known to all, Pogomas called himself Possano.
He introduced me to his wife and daughter, but they were so ugly and
disgusting in every respect that I left them on some trifling
pretext, and went to dine with my new niece. Afterwards I went to
see the Marquis Grimaldi, for I longed to know what had become of
Rosalie. The marquis was away in Venice, and was not expected back
till the end of April; but one of his servants took me to Rosalie,
who had become Madame Paretti six months after my departure.
My heart beat fast as I entered the abode of this woman, of whom I
had such pleasant recollections. I first went to M. Paretti in his
shop, and he received me with a joyful smile, which shewed me how
happy he was. He took me to his wife directly, who cried out with
delight, and ran to embrace me.
M. Paretti was busy, and begged me to excuse him, saying his wife
would entertain me.
Rosalie shewed me a pretty little girl of six months old, telling me
that she was happy, that she loved her husband, and was loved by him,
that he was industrious and active in business, and under the
patronage of the Marquis Grimaldi had prospered exceedingly.
The peaceful happiness of marriage had improved her wonderfully; she
had become a perfect beauty in every sense of the word.
"My dear friend," she said, "you are very good to call on me directly
you arrive, and I hope you will dine with us to-morrow. I owe all my
happiness to you, and that is even a sweeter thought than the
recollection of the passionate hours we have spent together. Let us
kiss, but no more; my duty as an honest wife forbids me from going
any further, so do not disturb the happiness you have given."
I pressed her hand tenderly, to skew that I assented to the
conditions she laid down.
"Oh! by the way," she suddenly exclaimed, "I have a pleasant surprise
She went out, and a moment afterward returned with Veronique, who had
become her maid. I was glad to see her and embraced her
affectionately, asking after Annette. She said her sister was well,
and was working with her mother.
"I want her to come and wait on my niece while we are here," said I.
At this Rosalie burst out laughing.
"What! another niece? You have a great many relations! But as she
is your niece, I hope you will bring her with you to-morrow."
"Certainly, and all the more willingly as she is from Marseilles."
"From Marseilles? Why, we might know each other. Not that that
would matter, for all your nieces are discreet young persons. What
is her name?"
"I don't know it."
"I daresay you don't. She is the daughter of a cousin of mine who
lived at Marseilles."
"Tell that to someone else; but, after all, what does it matter? You
choose well, amuse yourself, and make them happy. It may be wisdom
after all, and at any rate I congratulate you. I shall be delighted
to see your niece, but if she knows me you must see that she knows
her part as well."
On leaving Madame Paretti I called on the Signora Isola-Bella, and
gave her the Marquis Triulzi's letter. Soon after she came into the
room and welcomed me, saying that she had been expecting me, as
Triulzi had written to her on the subject. She introduced me to the
Marquis Augustino Grimaldi delta Pietra, her 'cicisbeoin-chief'
during the long absence of her husband, who lived at Lisbon.
The signora's apartments were very elegant. She was pretty with
small though regular features, her manner was pleasant, her voice
sweet, and her figure well shaped, though too thin. She was nearly
thirty. I say nothing of her complexion, for her face was plastered
with white and red, and so coarsely, that these patches of paint were
the first things that caught my attention. I was disgusted at this,
in spite of her fine expressive eyes. After an hour spent in
question and reply, in which both parties were feeling their way, I
accepted her invitation to come to supper on the following day. When
I got back I complimented my niece on the way in which she had
arranged her room, which was only separated from mine by a small
closet which I intended for her maid, who, I told her, was coming the
next day. She was highly pleased with this attention, and it paved
the way for my success. I also told her that the next day she was to
dine with me at a substantial merchant's as my niece, and this piece
of news made her quite happy.
This girl whom Croce had infatuated and deprived of her senses was
exquisitely beautiful, but more charming than all her physical
beauties were the nobleness of her presence and the sweetness of her
disposition. I was already madly in love with her, and I repented
not having taken possession of her on the first day of our journey.
If I had taken her at her word I should have been a steadfast lover,
and I do not think it would have taken me long to make her forget her
I had made but a small dinner, so I sat down to supper famishing with
hunger; and as my niece had an excellent appetite we prepared
ourselves for enjoyment, but instead of the dishes being delicate, as
we had expected, they were detestable. I told Clairmont to send for
the landlady, and she said that she could not help it, as everything
had been done by my own cook.
"My cook?" I repeated.
"Yes, sir, the one your secretary, M. Possano, engaged for you. I
could have got a much better one and a much cheaper one myself."
"Get one to-morrow."
"Certainly; but you must rid yourself and me of the present cook, for
he has taken up his position here with his wife and children. Tell
Possano to send for him."
"I will do so, and in the meanwhile do you get me a fresh cook. I
will try him the day after to-morrow."
I escorted my niece into her room, and begged her to go to bed
without troubling about me, and so saying I took up the paper and
began to read it. When I had finished, I went up to bed, and said,
"You might spare me the pain of having to sleep by myself."
She lowered her eyes but said nothing, so I gave her a kiss and left
In the morning my fair niece came into my room just as Clairmont was
washing my feet, and begged me to let her have some coffee as
chocolate made her hot. I told my man to go and fetch some coffee,
and as soon as he was gone she went down on her knees and would have
wiped my feet.
"I cannot allow that, my dear young lady."
"Why not? it is a mark of friendship."
"That may be, but such marks cannot be given to anyone but your lover
without your degrading yourself."
She got up and sat down on a chair quietly, but saying nothing.
Clairmont came back again, and I proceeded with my toilette.
The landlady came in with our breakfast, and asked my niece if she
would like to buy a fine silk shawl made in the Genoese fashion. I
did not let her be confused by having to answer, but told the
landlady to let us see it. Soon after the milliner came in, but by
that time I had given my young friend twenty Genoese sequins, telling
her that she might use them for her private wants. She took the
money, thanking me with much grace, and letting me imprint a
delicious kiss on her lovely lips.
I had sent away the milliner after having bought the shawl, when
Possano took it upon himself to remonstrate with me in the matter of
"I engaged the man by your orders," said he, "for the whole time you
stayed at Genoa, at four francs a day, with board and lodging."
"Where is my letter?"
"Here it is: 'Get me a good cook; I will keep him while I stay in
"Perhaps you did not remark the expression, d good cook? Well, this
fellow is a very bad cook; and, at all events, I am the best judge
whether he is good or bad."
"You are wrong, for the man will prove his skill. He will cite you
in the law courts, and win his case."
"Then you have made a formal agreement with him?"
"Certainly; and your letter authorized me to do so."
"Tell him to come up; I want to speak to him."
While Possano was downstairs I told Clairmont to go and fetch me an
advocate. The cook came upstairs, I read the agreement, and I saw
that it was worded in such a manner that I should be in the wrong
legally; but I did not change my mind for all that.
"Sir," said the cook, "I am skilled in my business, and I can get
four thousand Genoese to swear as much."
"That doesn't say much for their good taste; but whatever they may-
say, the execrable supper you gave me last night proves that you are
only fit to keep a low eating-house."
As there is nothing more irritable than the feelings of a culinary
artist, I was expecting a sharp answer; but just then the advocate
came in. He had heard the end of our dialogue, and told me that not
only would the man find plenty of witnesses to his skill, but that I
should find a very great difficulty in getting anybody at all to
swear to his want of skill.
"That may be," I replied, "but as I stick to my own opinion, and
think his cooking horrible, he must go, for I want to get another,
and I will pay that fellow as if he had served me the whole time."
"That won't do," said the cook; "I will summon you before the judge
and demand damages for defamation of character."
At this my bile overpowered me, and I was going to seize him anti
throw him out of the window, when Don Antonio Grimaldi came in. When
he heard what was the matter, he laughed and said, with a shrug of
"My dear sir, you had better not go into court, or you will be cast
in costs, for the evidence is against you. Probably this man makes a
slight mistake in believing himself to be an excellent cook, but the
chief mistake is in the agreement, which ought to have stipulated
that he should cook a trial dinner. The person who drew up the
agreement is either a great knave or a great fool."
At this Possano struck in in his rude way, and told the nobleman that
he was neither knave nor fool.
"But you are cousin to the cook," said the landlady.
This timely remark solved the mystery. I paid and dismissed the
advocate, and having sent the cook out of the room I said,
"Do I owe you any money, Possano?"
"On the contrary, you paid me a month in advance, and there are ten
more days of the month to run."
"I will make you a present of the ten days and send you away this
very moment, unless your cousin does not leave my house to-day, and
give you the foolish engagement which you signed in my name."
"That's what I call cutting the Gordian knot," said M. Grimaldi.
He then begged me to introduce him to the lady he had seen with me,
and I did so, telling him she was my niece.
"Signora Isola-Bella will be delighted to see her."
"As the marquis did not mention her in his letter, I did not take the
liberty of bringing her."
The marquis left a few moments afterwards, and soon after Annette
came in with her mother. The girl had developed in an incredible
manner while I was away. Her cheeks blossomed like the rose, her
teeth were white as pearls, and her breasts, though modestly
concealed from view, were exquisitely rounded. I presented her to
her mistress, whose astonishment amused me.
Annette, who looked pleased to be in my service again, went to dress
her new mistress; and, after giving a few sequins to the mother I
sent her away, and proceeded to make my toilette.
Towards noon, just as I was going out with my niece to dine at
Rosalie's, my landlady brought me the agreement Possano had made, and
introduced the new cook. I ordered the next day's dinner, and went
away much pleased with my comic victory.
A brilliant company awaited us at the Paretti's, but I was agreeably
surprised on introducing my niece to Rosalie to see them recognize
each other. They called each other by their respective names, and
indulged in an affectionate embrace. After this they retired to
another room for a quarter of an hour, and returned looking very
happy. Just then Paretti entered, and on Rosalie introducing him to
my niece under her true name he welcomed her in the most cordial
manner. Her father was a correspondent of his, and drawing a letter
he had just received from him from his pocket, he gave it to her to
read. My niece read it eagerly, with tears in her eyes, and gave the
signature a respectful pressure with her lips. This expression of
filial love, which displayed all the feelings of her heart, moved me
to such an extent that I burst into tears. Then taking Rosalie
aside, I begged her to ask her husband not to mention the fact to his
correspondent that he had seen his daughter.
The dinner was excellent, and Rosalie did the honours with that grace
which was natural to her. However, the guests did not by any means
pay her all their attentions, the greater portion of which was
diverted in the direction of my supposed niece. Her father, a
prosperous merchant of Marseilles, was well known in the commercial
circles of Genoa, and besides this her wit and beauty captivated
everybody, and one young gentleman fell madly in love with her. He
was an extremely good match, and proved to be the husband whom Heaven
had destined for my charming friend. What a happy thought it was for
me that I had been the means of rescuing her from the gulf of shame,
misery, and despair, and placing her on the high road to happiness.
I own that I have always felt a keener pleasure in doing good than in
anything else, though, perhaps, I may not always have done good from
strictly disinterested motives.
When we rose from the table in excellent humour with ourselves and
our surroundings, cards were proposed, and Rosalie, who knew my
likings, said it must be trente-quarante. This was agreed to, and we
played till supper, nobody either winning or losing to any extent.
We did not go till midnight, after having spent a very happy day.
When we were in our room I asked my niece how she had known Rosalie.
"I knew her at home; she and her mother used to bring linen from the
wash. I always liked her."
"You must be nearly the same age."
"She is two years older than I am. I recognized her directly."
"What did she tell you?"
"That it was you who brought her from Marseilles and made her
"She has not made you the depositary of any other confidences?"
"No, but there are some things which don't need telling."
"You are right. And what did you tell her?"
"Only what she could have guessed for herself. I told her that you
were not my uncle, and if she thought you were my lover I was not
sorry. You do not know how I have enjoyed myself to-day, you must
have been born to make me happy."
"But how about La Croix?"
"For heaven's sake say nothing about him."
This conversation increased my ardour. She called Annette, and I
went to my room.
As I had expected, Annette came to me as soon as her mistress was in
"If the lady is really your niece," said she, "may I hope that you
still love me?"
"Assuredly, dear Annette, I shall always love you. Undress, and let
us have a little talk."
I had not long to wait, and in the course of two voluptuous hours I
quenched the flames that another woman had kindled in my breast.
Next morning Possano came to tell me that he had arranged matters
with the cook with the help of six sequins. I gave him the money,
and told him to be more careful for the future.
I went to Rosalie's for my breakfast, which she was delighted to give
me: and I asked her and her husband to dinner on the following day,
telling her to bring any four persons she liked.
"Your decision," said I, "will decide the fate of my cook; it will be
his trial dinner."
She promised to come, and then pressed me to tell her the history of
my amours with her fair country-woman.
"Alas!" I said, "you may not believe me, but I assure you I am only
beginning with her."
"I shall certainly believe you, if you tell me so, though it seems
"Strange but true. You must understand, however, that I have only
known her for a very short time; and, again, I would not be made
happy save through love, mere submission would kill me."
"Good! but what did she say of me?"
I gave her a report of the whole conversation I had had with my niece
the night before, and she was delighted."
"As you have not yet gone far with your niece, would you object if
the young man who shewed her so much attention yesterday were of the
"Who is he? I should like to know him."
"M. N----, the only son of a rich merchant."
"Certainly, bring him with you."
When I got home I went to my niece, who was still in bed, and told
her that her fellow-countryman would dine with us to-morrow. I
comforted her with the assurance that M. Paretti would not tell her
father that she was in Genoa. She had been a good deal tormented
with the idea that the merchant would inform her father of all.
As I was going out to supper I told her that she could go and sup
with Rosalie, or take supper at home if she preferred it.
"You are too kind to me, my dear uncle. I will go to Rosalie's."
"Very good. Are you satisfied with Annette?"
"Oh! by the way, she told me that you spent last night with her, and
that you had been her lover and her sister's at the same time."
"It is true, but she is very indiscreet to say anything about it."
"We must forgive her, though. She told me that she only consented to
sleep with you on the assurance that I was really your niece. I am
sure she only made this confession out of vanity, and in the hope of
gaining my favour, which would be naturally bestowed on a woman you
"I wish you had the right to be jealous of her; and I swear that if
she does not comport herself with the utmost obedience to you in
every respect, I will send her packing, in despite of our relations.
As for you, you may not be able to love me, and I have no right to
complain; but I will not have you degrade yourself by becoming my
I was not sorry for my niece to know that I made use of Annette, but
my vanity was wounded at the way she took it. It was plain that she
was not at all in love with me, and that she was glad that there was
a safeguard in the person of her maid, and that thus we could be
together without danger, for she could not ignore the power of her
We dined together, and augured well of the skill of the new cook.
M. Paretti had promised to get me a good man, and he presented
himself just as we were finishing dinner, and I made a present of him
to my niece. We went for a drive together, and I left my niece at
Rosalie's, and I then repaired to Isola-Bella's, where I found a
numerous and brilliant company had assembled consisting of all the
best people in Genoa.
Just then all the great ladies were mad over 'biribi', a regular
cheating game. It was strictly forbidden at Genoa, but this only
made it more popular, and besides, the prohibition had no force in
private houses, which are outside of the jurisdiction of the
Government; in short, I found the game in full swing at the Signora
Isola-Bella's. The professional gamesters who kept the bank went
from house to house, and the amateurs were advised of their presence
at such a house and at such a time.
Although I detested the game, I began to play--to do as the others
In the room there was a portrait of the mistress of the house in
harlequin costume, and there happened to be the same picture on one
of the divisions of the biribi-table: I chose this one out of
politeness, and did not play on any other. I risked a sequin each
time. The board had thirty-six compartments, and if one lost, one
paid thirty-two tines the amount of the stake; this, of course, was
an enormous advantage for the bank.
Each player drew three numbers in succession, and there were three
professionals; one kept the bag, another the bank, and the third the
board, and the last took care to gather in the winnings as soon as
the result was known, and the bank amounted to two thousand sequins
or thereabouts. The table, the cloth, and four silver candlesticks
belonged to the players.
I sat at the left of Madame Isola-Bella, who began to play, and as
there were fifteen or sixteen of us I had lost about fifty sequins
when my turn came, for my harlequin had not appeared once. Everybody
pitied me, or pretended to do so, for selfishness is the predominant
passion of gamesters.
My turn came at last. I drew my harlequin and received thirty-two
sequins. I left them on the same figure, and got a thousand sequins.
I left fifty still on the board, and the harlequin came out for the
third time. The bank was broken, and the table, the cloth, the
candlesticks, and the board all belonged to me. Everyone
congratulated me, and the wretched bankrupt gamesters were hissed,
hooted, and turned out of doors.
After the first transports were over, I saw that the ladies were in
distress; for as there could be no more gaming they did not know what
to do. I consoled them by declaring that I would be banker, but with
equal stakes, and that I would pay winning cards thirty-six times the
stake instead of thirty-two. This was pronounced charming of me, and
I amused everybody till supper-time, without any great losses or
gains on either side. By dint of entreaty I made the lady of the
house accept the whole concern as a present, and a very handsome one
The supper was pleasant enough, and my success at play was the chief
topic of conversation. Before leaving I asked Signora Isola-Bella
and her marquis to dine with me, and they eagerly accepted the
invitation. When I got home I went to see my niece, who told me she
had spent a delightful evening.
"A very pleasant young man," said she, "who is coming to dine with us
to-morrow, paid me great attention."
"The same, I suppose, that did so yesterday?"
"Yes. Amongst other pretty things he told me that if I liked he
would go to Marseilles and ask my hand of my father. I said nothing,
but I thought to myself that if the poor young man gave himself all
this trouble he would be woefully misled, as he would not see me."
"Because I should be in a nunnery. My kind good father will forgive
me, but I must punish myself."
"That is a sad design, which I hope you will abandon. You have all
that would make the happiness of a worthy husband. The more I think
it over, the more I am convinced of the truth of what I say."
We said no more just then, for she needed rest. Annette came to
undress her, and I was glad to see the goodness of my niece towards
her, but the coolness with which the girl behaved to her mistress did
not escape my notice. As soon as she came to sleep with me I gently
remonstrated with her, bidding her to do her duty better for the
future. Instead of answering with a caress, as she ought to have
done, she began to cry.
"My dear child," said I, "your tears weary me. You are only here to
amuse me, and if you can't do that, you had better go."
This hurt her foolish feelings of vanity, and she got up and went
away without a word, leaving me to go to sleep in a very bad temper.
In the morning I told her, in a stern voice, that if she played me
such a trick again I would send her away. Instead of trying to
soothe me with a kiss the little rebel burst out crying again. I
sent her out of the room impatiently, and proceeded to count my
I thought no more about it, but presently my niece came in and asked
me why I had vexed poor Annette.
"My dear niece," said I, "tell her to behave better or else I will
send her back to her mother's."
She gave me no reply, but took a handful of silver and fled. I had
not time to reflect on this singular conduct, for Annette came in
rattling her crowns in her pocket, and promised, with a kiss, not to
make me angry any more.
Such was my niece. She knew I adored her, and she loved me; but she
did not want me to be her lover, though she made use of the
ascendancy which my passion gave her. In the code of feminine
coquetry such cases are numerous.
Possano came uninvited to see me, and congratulated me on my victory
of the evening before.
"Who told you about it?"
"I have just been at the coffee-house, where everybody is talking of
it. It was a wonderful victory, for those biribanti are knaves of
the first water. Your adventure is making a great noise, for
everyone says that you could not have broken their bank unless you
had made an agreement with the man that kept the bag."
"My dear fellow, I am tired of you. Here, take this piece of money
for your wife and be off."
The piece of money I had given him was a gold coin worth a hundred
Genoese livres, which the Government had struck for internal
commerce; there were also pieces of fifty and twenty-five livres.
I was going on with my calculations when Clairmont brought me a note.
It was from Irene, and contained a tender invitation to breakfast
with her. I did not know that she was in Genoa, and the news gave me
very great pleasure. I locked up my money, dressed in haste, and
started out to see her. I found her in good and well-furnished
rooms, and her old father, Count Rinaldi, embraced me with tears of
After the ordinary compliments had been passed, the old man proceeded
to congratulate me on my winnings of the night before.
"Three thousand sequins!" he exclaimed, "that is a grand haul
"The funny part of it is that the man who keeps the bag is in the pay
of the others."
"What strikes you as funny in that?"
"Why, he gained half without any risk, otherwise he would not have
been likely to have entered into an agreement with you."
"You think, then, that it was a case of connivance?"
"Everybody says so; indeed what else could it be? The rascal has
made his fortune without running any risk. All the Greeks in Genoa
are applauding him and you."
"As the greater rascal of the two?"
"They don't call you a rascal; they say you're a great genius; you
are praised and envied."
"I am sure I ought to be obliged to them."
"I heard it all from a gentleman who was there. He says that the
second and the third time the man with the bag gave you the office."
"And you believe this?"
"I am sure of it. No man of honour in your position could have acted
otherwise. However, when you come to settle up with the fellow I
advise you to be very careful, for there will be spies on your
tracks. If you like, I will do the business for you."
I had enough self-restraint to repress the indignation and rage I
felt. Without a word I took my hat and marched out of the room,
sternly repulsing Irene who tried to prevent me from going as she had
done once before. I resolved not to have anything more to do with
the wretched old count.
This calumnious report vexed me extremely, although I knew that most
gamesters would consider it an honour. Possano and Rinaldi had said
enough to shew me that all the town was talking over it, and I was
not surprised that everyone believed it; but for my part I did not
care to be taken for a rogue when I had acted honourably.
I felt the need of unbosoming myself to someone, and walked towards
the Strada Balbi to call on the Marquis Grimaldi, and discuss the
matter with him. I was told he was gone to the courts, so I followed
him there and was ushered into vast hall, where he waited on me. I
told him my story, and he said,
"My dear chevalier, you ought to laugh at it, and I should not advise
you to take the trouble to refute the calumny."
"Then you advise me to confess openly that I am a rogue?"
"No, for only fools will think that of you. Despise them, unless
they tell you you are a rogue to your face."
"I should like to know the name of the nobleman who was present and
sent this report about the town."
"I do not know who it is. He was wrong to say anything, but you
would be equally wrong in taking any steps against him, for I am sure
he did not tell the story with any intention of giving offence; quite
"I am lost in wonder at his course of reasoning. Let us suppose that
the facts were as he told them, do you think they are to my honour?"
"Neither to your honour nor shame. Such are the morals and such the
maxims of gamesters. The story will be laughed at, your skill will
be applauded, and you will be admired, for each one will say that in
your place he would have done likewise!"
"Certainly. If I had been sure that the ball would have gone to the
harlequin, I would have broken the rascal's bank, as you did. I will
say honestly that I do not know whether you won by luck or skill, but
the most probable hypothesis, to my mind, is that you knew the
direction of the ball. You must confess that there is something to
be said in favour of the supposition."
"I confess that there is, but it is none the less a dishonourable
imputation on me, and you in your turn must confess that those who
think that I won by sleight of hand, or by an agreement with a
rascal, insult me grievously."
"That depends on the way you look at it. I confess they insult you,
if you think yourself insulted; but they are not aware of that, and
their intention being quite different there is no insult at all in
the matter. I promise you no one will tell you to your face that you
cheated, but how are you going to prevent them thinking so?"
"Well, let them think what they like, but let them take care not to
tell me their thoughts."
I went home angry with Grimaldi, Rinaldi, and everyone else. My
anger vexed me, I should properly have only laughed, for in the state
of morals at Genoa, the accusation, whether true or false, could not
injure my honour. On the contrary I gained by it a reputation for
being a genius, a term which the Genoese prefer to that Methodistical
word, "a rogue," though the meaning is the same. Finally I was
astonished to find myself reflecting that I should have had no
scruple in breaking the bank in the way suggested, if it had only
been for the sake of making the company laugh. What vexed me most
was that I was credited with an exploit I had not performed.
When dinner-time drew near I endeavoured to overcome my ill temper
for the sake of the company I was going to receive. My niece was
adorned only with her native charms, for the rascal Croce had sold
all her jewels; but she was elegantly dressed, and her beautiful hair
was more precious than a crown of rubies.
Rosalie came in richly dressed and looking very lovely. Her husband,
her uncle, and her aunt were with her, and also two friends, one of
whom was the aspirant for the hand of my niece.
Madame Isola-Bella and her shadow, M. Grimaldi, came late, like great
people. Just as we were going to sit down, Clairmont told me that a
man wanted to speak to me.
"Shew him in."
As soon as he appeared M. Grimaldi exclaimed:
"The man with the bag!"
"What do you want?" I said, dryly.
"Sir, I am come to ask you to help me. I am a family man, and it is
thought that . . ."
I did not let him finish.
"I have never refused to aid the unfortunate," said I. "Clairmont,
give him ten sequins. Leave the room."
This incident spoke in my favour, and made me in a better temper.
We sat down to table, and a letter was handed to me. I recognized
Possano's writing, and put it in my pocket without reading it.
The dinner was delicious, and my cook was pronounced to have won his
spurs. Though her exalted rank and the brilliance of her attire gave
Signora Isoia-Bella the first place of right, she was nevertheless
eclipsed by my two nieces. The young Genoese was all attention for
the fair Marseillaise, and I could see that she was not displeased.
I sincerely wished to see her in love with someone, and I liked her
too well to bear the idea of her burying herself in a convent. She
could never be happy till she found someone who would make her forget
the rascal who had brought her to the brink of ruin.
I seized the opportunity, when all my guests were engaged with each
other, to open Possano's letter. It ran as follows:
"I went to the bank to change the piece of gold you gave me. It was
weighed, and found to be ten carats under weight. I was told to name
the person from whom I got it, but of course I did not do so. I then
had to go to prison, and if you do not get me out of the scrape I
shall be prosecuted, though of course I am not going to get myself
hanged for anybody."
I gave the letter to Grimaldi, and when we had left the table he took
me aside, and said,--
"This is a very serious matter, for it may end in the gallows for the
man who clipped the coin."
"Then they can hang the biribanti! That won't hurt me much."
"No, that won't do; it would compromise Madame Isola-Bella, as biribi
is strictly forbidden. Leave it all to me, I will speak to the State
Inquisitors about it. Tell Possano to persevere in his silence, and
that you will see him safely through. The laws against coiners and
clippers are only severe with regard to these particular coins, as
the Government has special reasons for not wishing them to be
I wrote to Possano, and sent for a pair of scales. We weighed the
gold I had won at biribi, and every single piece had been clipped.
M. Grimaldi said he would have them defaced and sold to a jeweller.
When we got back to the dining-room we found everybody at play.
M. Grimaldi proposed that I should play at quinze with him. I
detested the game, but as he was my guest I felt it would be impolite
to refuse, and in four hours I had lost five hundred sequins.
Next morning the marquis told me that Possano was out of prison, and
that he had been given the value of the coin. He brought me thirteen
hundred sequins which had resulted from the sale of the gold. We
agreed that I was to call on Madame Isola-Bella the next day, when he
would give me my revenge at quinze.
I kept the appointment, and lost three thousand sequins. I paid him
a thousand the next day, and gave him two bills of exchange, payable
by myself, for the other two thousand. When these bills were
presented I was in England, and being badly off I had to have them
protested. Five years later, when I was at Barcelona, M. de Grimaldi
was urged by a traitor to have me imprisoned, but he knew enough of
me to be sure that if I did not meet the bills it was from sheer
inability to do so. He even wrote me a very polite letter, in which
he gave the name of my enemy, assuring me that he would never take
any steps to compel me to pay the money. This enemy was Possano, who
was also at Barcelona, though I was not aware of his presence. I
will speak of the circumstance in due time, but I cannot help
remarking that all who aided me in my pranks with Madame d'Urfe
proved traitors, with the exception of a Venetian girl, whose
acquaintance the reader will make in the following chapter.
In spite of my losses I enjoyed myself, and had plenty of money, for
after all I had only lost what I had won at biribi. Rosalie often
dined with us, either alone or with her husband, and I supped
regularly at her home with my niece, whose love affair seemed quite
promising. I congratulated her upon the circumstance, but she
persisted in her determination to take refuge from the world in a
cloister. Women often do the most idiotic things out of sheer
obstinacy; possibly they deceive even themselves, and act in good
faith; but unfortunately, when the veil falls from before their eyes,
they see but the profound abyss into which their folly had plunged
In the meanwhile, my niece had become so friendly and familiar that
she would often come and sit on my bed in the morning when Annette
was still in my arms. Her presence increased my ardour, and I
quenched the fires on the blonde which the brunette was kindling. My
niece seemed to enjoy the sight, and I could see that her senses were
being pleasantly tortured. Annette was short-sighted, and so did not
perceive my distractions, while my fair niece caressed me slightly,
knowing that it would add to my pleasures. When she thought I was
exhausted she told Annette to get up and leave me alone with her, as
she wanted to tell me something. She then began to jest and toy, and
though her dress was extremely disordered she seemed to think that
her charms would exercise no power over me. She was quite mistaken,
but I was careful not to undeceive her for fear of losing her
confidence. I watched the game carefully, and noting how little by
little her familiarity increased, I felt sure that she would have to
surrender at last, if not at Genoa, certainly on the journey, when we
would be thrown constantly in each other's society with nobody to spy
upon our actions, and with nothing else to do but to make love. It
is the weariness of a journey, the constant monotony, that makes one
do something to make sure of one's existence; and when it comes to
the reckoning there is usually more joy than repentance.
But the story of my journey from Genoa to Marseilles was written in
the book of fate, and could not be read by me. All I knew was that I
must soon go as Madame d'Urfe was waiting for me at Marseilles. I
knew not that in this journey would be involved the fate of a
Venetian girl of whom I had never heard, who had never seen me, but
whom I was destined to render happy. My fate seemed to have made me
stop at Genoa to wait for her.
I settled my accounts with the banker, to whom I had been accredited,
and I took a letter of credit on Marseilles, where, however, I was
not likely to want for funds, as my high treasurer, Madame d'Urfe was
there. I took leave of Madame Isola-Bella and her circle that I
might be able to devote all my time to Rosalie and her friends.
Disgraceful Behaviour of My Brother, the Abbe, I Relieve Him of His
Mistress--Departure from Genoa--The Prince of Monaco--My Niece
Overcome--Our Arrival at Antibes
On the Tuesday in Holy Week I was just getting up, when Clairmont
came to tell me that a priest who would not give his name wanted to
speak to me. I went out in my night-cap, and the rascally priest
rushed at me and nearly choked me with his embraces. I did not like
so much affection, and as I had not recognized him at first on
account of the darkness of the room, I took him by the arm and led
him to the window. It was my youngest brother, a good-for-nothing
fellow, whom I had always disliked. I had not seen him for ten
years, but I cared so little about him that I had not even enquired
whether he were alive or dead in the correspondence I maintained with
M. de Bragadin, Dandolo, and Barbaro.
As soon as his silly embraces were over, I coldly asked him what
chance had brought him to Genoa in this disgusting state of dirt,
rags, and tatters. He was only twenty-nine, his complexion was fresh
and healthy, and he had a splendid head of hair. He was a posthumous
son, born like Mahomet, three months after the death of his father.
"The story of my misfortunes would be only too long. Take me into
your room, and I will sit down and tell you the whole story."
"First of all, answer my questions. How long have you been here?"
"Who told you that I was here?"
"Count B----, at Milan."
"Who told you that the count knew me?"
"I found out by chance. I was at M. de Bragadin's a month ago, and
on his table I saw a letter from the count to you."
"Did you tell him you were my brother?"
"I had to when he said how much I resembled you."
"He made a mistake, for you are a blockhead."
"He did not think so, at all events, for he asked me to dinner."
"You must have cut a pretty figure, if you were in your present
"He gave me four sequins to come here; otherwise, I should never have
been able to do the journey."
"Then he did a very foolish thing. You're a mere beggar, then; you
take alms. Why did you leave Venice? What do you want with me?
I can do nothing for you."
"Ah! do not make me despair, or I shall kill myself."
"That's the very best thing you could do; but you are too great a
coward. I ask again why you left Venice, where you could say mass,
and preach, and make an honest living, like many priests much better
"That is the kernel of the whole matter. Let us go in and I will
"No; wait for me here. We will go somewhere where you can tell me
your story, if I have patience to listen to it. But don't tell any
of my people that you are my brother, for I am ashamed to have such a
relation. Come, take me to the place where you are staying."
"I must tell you that at my inn I am not alone, and I want to have a
private interview with you."
"Who is with you?"
"I will tell you presently, but let us go into a coffeehouse."
"Are you in company with a band of brigands? What are you sighing
"I must confess it, however painful it may be to my feelings. I am
with a woman."
"A woman! and you a priest!"
"Forgive me. I was blinded by love, and seduced by my senses and her
beauty, so I seduced her under a promise to marry her at Geneva. I
can never go back to Venice, for I took her away from her father's
"What could you do at Geneva? They would expel you after you had
been there three or four days. Come, we will go to the inn and see
the woman you have deceived. I will speak to you afterwards."
I began to trace my steps in the direction he had pointed out, and he
was obliged to follow me. As soon as we got to the inn, he went on
in front, and after climbing three flights of stairs I entered a
wretched den where I saw a tall young girl, a sweet brunette, who
looked proud and not in the least confused. As soon as I made my
appearance she said, without any greeting,--
"Are you the brother of this liar and monster who has deceived me so
"Yes," said I. "I have the honour."
"A fine honour, truly. Well, have the kindness to send me back to
Venice, for I won't stop any longer with this rascal whom I listened
to like the fool I was, who turned my head with his lying tales. He
was going to meet you at Milan, and you were to give us enough money
to go to Geneva, and there we were to turn Protestants and get
married. He swore you were expecting him at Milan, but you were not
there at all, and he contrived to get money in some way or another,
and brought me here miserably enough. I thank Heaven he has found
you at last, for if he had not I should have started off by myself
and begged my way. I have not a single thing left; the wretch sold
all I possessed at Bergamo and Verona. I don't know how I kept my
senses through it all. To hear him talk, the world was a paradise
outside Venice, but I have found to my cost that there is no place
like home. I curse the hour when I first saw the miserable wretch.
He's a beggarly knave; always whining. He wanted to enjoy his rights
as my husband when we got to Padua, but I am thankful to say I gave
him nothing. Here is the writing he gave me; take it, and do what
you like with it. But if you have any heart, send me back to Venice
or I will tramp there on foot."
I had listened to this long tirade without interrupting her. She
might have spoken at much greater length, so far as I was concerned;
my astonishment took my breath away. Her discourse had all the fire
of eloquence, and was heightened by her expressive face and the
flaming glances she shot from her eyes.
My brother, sitting down with his head between his hands, and obliged
to listen in silence to this long catalogue of well-deserved
reproaches, gave something of a comic element to the scene. In spite
of that, however, I was much touched by the sad aspects of the girl's
story. I felt at once that I must take charge of her, and put an end
to this ill-assorted match. I imagined that I should not have much
difficulty in sending her back to Venice, which she might never have
quitted if it had not been for her trust in me, founded on the
fallacious promises of her seducer.
The true Venetian character of the girl struck me even more than her
beauty. Her courage, frank indignation, and the nobility of her
aspect made me resolve not to abandon her. I could not doubt that
she had told a true tale, as my brother continued to observe a guilty
I watched her silently for some time, and, my mind being made up,
"I promise to send you back to Venice with a respectable woman to
look after you; but you will be unfortunate if you carry back with
you the results of your amours."
"What results? Did I not tell you that we were going to be married
"Yes, but in spite of that . . ."
"I understand you, sir, but I am quite at ease on that point, as I am
happy to say that I did not yield to any of the wretch's desires."
"Remember," said the abbe, in a plaintive voice, "the oath you took
to be mine for ever. You swore it upon the crucifix."
So saying he got up and approached her with a supplicating gesture,
but as soon as he was within reach she gave him a good hearty box on
the ear. I expected to see a fight, in which I should not have
interfered, but nothing of the kind. The humble abbe gently turned
away to the window, and casting his eyes to heaven began to weep.
"You are too malicious, my dear," I said; "the poor devil is only
unhappy because you have made him in love with you."
"If he is it's his own fault, I should never have thought of him but
for his coming to me and fooling me, I shall never forgive him till
he is out of my sight. That's not the first blow I have given him;
I had to begin at Padua."
"Yes," said the abbe, "but you are excommunicated, for I am a
"It's little I care for the excommunication of a scoundrel like you,
and if you say another word I will give you some more."
"Calm yourself, my child," said I; "you have cause to be angry, but
you should not beat him. Take up your things and follow me."
"Where are you going to take her?" said the foolish priest.
"To my own house, and I should advise you to hold your tongue. Here,
take these twenty sequins and buy yourself some clean clothes and
linen, and give those rags of yours to the beggars. I will come and
talk to you to-morrow, and you may thank your stars that you found me
here. As for you, mademoiselle, I will have you conducted to my
lodging, for Genoa must not see you in my company after arriving here
with a priest. We must not have any scandal. I shall place you
under the charge of my landlady, but whatever you do don't tell her
this sad story. I will see that you are properly dressed, and that
you want for nothing."
"May Heaven reward you!"
My brother, astonished at the sight of the twenty sequins, let me go
away without a word. I had the fair Venetian taken to my lodging in
a sedan-chair, and putting her under the charge of my landlady I told
the latter to see that she was properly dressed. I wanted to see how
she would look in decent clothes, for her present rags and tatters
detracted from her appearance. I warned Annette that a girl who had
been placed in my care would eat and sleep with her, and then having
to entertain a numerous company of guests I proceeded to make my
Although my niece had no rights over me, I valued her esteem, and
thought it best to tell her the whole story lest she should pass an
unfavourable judgment on me. She listened attentively and thanked me
for my confidence in her, and said she should very much like to see
the girl and the abbe too, whom she pitied, though she admitted he
was to be blamed for what he had done. I had got her a dress to wear
at dinner, which became her exquisitely. I felt only too happy to be
able to please her in any way, for her conduct towards myself and the
way she treated her ardent lover commanded my admiration. She saw
him every day either at my house or at Rosalie's. The young man had
received an excellent education, though he was of the mercantile
class, and wrote to her in a business-like manner, that, as they were
well suited to each other in every way, there was nothing against his
going to Marseilles and obtaining her father's consent to the match,
unless it were a feeling of aversion on her side. He finished by
requesting her to give him an answer. She shewed me the letter, and
I congratulated her, and advised her to accept, if there was nothing
about the young man which displeased her.
"There is nothing of the kind," she said, "and Rosalie thinks with
"Then tell him by word of mouth that you give your consent, and will
expect to see him at Marseilles."
"Very good; as you think so, I will tell him tomorrow."
When dinner was over a feeling of curiosity made me go into the room
where Annette was dining with the Venetian girl, whose name was
Marcoline. I was struck with astonishment on seeing her, for she was
completely changed, not so much by the pretty dress she had on as by
the contented expression of her face, which made her look quite
another person. Good humour had vanquished unbecoming rage, and the
gentleness born of happiness made her features breathe forth love.
I could scarcely believe that this charming creature before me was
the same who had dealt such a vigorous blow to my brother, a priest,
and a sacred being in the eyes of the common people. They were
eating, and laughing at not being able to understand each other, for
Marcoline only spoke Venetian, and Annette Genoese, and the latter
dialect does not resemble the former any more than Bohemian resembles
I spoke to Marcoline in her native tongue, which was mine too, and
"I seem to have suddenly passed from hell to Paradise."
"Indeed, you look like an angel."
"You called me a little devil this morning. But here is a fair
angel," said she, pointing to Annette; "we don't see such in Venice."
"She is my treasure."
Shortly after my niece came in, and seeing me talking and laughing
with the two girls began to examine the new-comer. She told me in
French that she thought her perfectly beautiful, and repeating her
opinion to the girl in Italian gave her a kiss. Marcoline asked her
plainly in the Venetian manner who she was.
"I am this gentleman's niece, and he is taking me back to Marseilles,
where my home is."
"Then you would have been my niece too, if I had married his brother.
I wish I had such a pretty niece."
This pleasant rejoinder was followed by a storm of kisses given and
returned with ardour which one might pronounce truly Venetian, if it
were not that this would wound the feelings of the almost equally
I took my niece for a sail in the bay, and after we had enjoyed one
of those delicious evenings which I think can be found nowhere else--
sailing on a mirror silvered by the moon, over which float the odours
of the jasmine, the orange-blossom, the pomegranates, the aloes, and
all the scented flowers which grow along the coasts--we returned to
our lodging, and I asked Annette what had become of Marcoline. She
told me that she had gone to bed early, and I went gently into her
room, with no other intention than to see her asleep. The light of
the candle awoke her, and she did not seem at all frightened at
seeing me. I sat by the bed, and fell to making love to her, and at
last made as if I would kiss her, but she resisted, and we went on
When Annette had put her mistress to bed, she came in and found us
"Go to bed, my dear," said I. "I will come to you directly."
Proud of being my mistress, she gave me a fiery kiss and went away
without a word.
I began to talk about my brother, and passing from him to myself I
told her of the interest I felt for her, saying that I would either
have her taken to Venice, or bring her with me when I went to France.
"Do you want to marry me?"
"No, I am married already."
"That's a lie, I know, but it doesn't matter. Send me back to
Venice, and the sooner the better. I don't want to be anybody's
"I admire your sentiments, my dear, they do you honour."
Continuing my praise I became pressing, not using any force, but
those gentle caresses which are so much harder for a woman to resist
than a violent attack. Marcoline laughed, but seeing that I
persisted in spite of her resistance, she suddenly glided out of the
bed and took refuge in my niece's room and locked the door after her.
I was not displeased; the thing was done so easily and gracefully. I
went to bed with Annette, who lost nothing by the ardour with which
Marcoline had inspired me. I told her how she had escaped from my
hands, and Annette was loud in her praises.
In the morning I got up early and went into my niece's room to enjoy
the sight of the companion I had involuntarily given her, and the two
girls were certainly a very pleasant sight. As soon as my niece saw
me, she exclaimed,--
"My dear uncle, would you believe it? This sly Venetian has violated
Marcoline understood her, and far from denying the fact proceeded to
give my niece fresh marks of her affection, which were well received,
and from the movements of the sheets which covered them I could make
a pretty good guess as to the nature of their amusement.
"This is a rude shock to the respect which your uncle has had for
your prejudices," said I.
"The sports of two girls cannot tempt a man who has just left the
arms of Annette."
"You are wrong, and perhaps you know it, for I am more than tempted."
With these words I lifted the sheets of the bed. Marcoline shrieked
but did not move, but my niece earnestly begged me to replace the
bed-clothes. However, the picture before me was too charming to be
At this point Annette came in, and in obedience to her mistress
replaced the coverlet over the two Bacchantes. I felt angry with
Annette, and seizing her threw her on the bed, and then and there
gave the two sweethearts such an interesting spectacle that they left
their own play to watch us. When I had finished, Annette, who was in
high glee; said I was quite right to avenge myself on their prudery.
I felt satisfied with what I had done, and went to breakfast. I then
dressed, and visited my brother.
"How is Marcoline?" said he, as soon as he saw me.
"Very well, and you needn't trouble yourself any more about her. She
is well lodged, well dressed, and well fed, and sleeps with my
"I didn't know I had a niece."
"There are many things you don't know. In three or four days she
will return to Venice."
"I hope, dear brother, that you will ask me to dine with you to-day."
"Not at all, dear brother. I forbid you to set foot in my house,
where your presence would be offensive to Marcoline, whom you must
not see any more."
"Yes, I will; I will return to Venice, if I have to hang for it."
"What good would that be? She won't have you."
"She loves me."
"She beats you."
"She beats me because she loves me. She will be as gentle as a lamb
when she sees me so well dressed. You do not know how I suffer."
"I can partly guess, but I do not pity you, for you are an impious
and cruel fool. You have broken your vows, and have not hesitated to
make a young girl endure misery and degradation to satisfy your
caprice. What would you have done, I should like to know, if I had
given you the cold shoulder instead of helping you?"
"I should have gone into the street, and begged for my living with
"She would have beaten you, and would probably have appealed to the
law to get rid of you."
"But what will you do for me, if I let her go back to Venice without
"I will take you to France, and try to get you employed by some
"Employed! I was meant by nature to be employed by none but God."
"You proud fool! Marcoline rightly called you a whiner. Who is your
God? How do you serve Him? You are either a hypocrite or an idiot.
Do you think that you, a priest, serve God by decoying an innocent
girl away from her home? Do you serve Him by profaning the religion
you do not even understand? Unhappy fool! do you think that with no
talent, no theological learning, and no eloquence, you can be a
Protestant minister. Take care never to come to my house, or I will
have you expelled from Genoa."
"Well, well, take me to Paris, and I will see what my brother Francis
can do for me; his heart is not so hard as yours."
"Very good! you shall go to Paris, and we will start from here in
three or four days. Eat and drink to your heart's content, but
remain indoors; I will let you know when we are going. I shall have
my niece, my secretary, and my valet with me. We shall travel by
"The sea makes me sick."
"That will purge away some of your bad humours."
When I got home I told Marcoline what had passed between us.
"I hate him!" said she; "but I forgive him, since it is through him I
"And I forgive him, too, because unless it had been for him I should
never have seen you. But I love you, and I shall die unless you
satisfy my desires."
"Never; for I know I should be madly in love with you, and then you
would leave me, and I should be miserable again."
"I will never leave you."
"If you will swear that, take me into France and make me all your
own. Here you must continue living with Annette; besides, I have got
your niece to make love to."
The pleasant part of the affair was that my niece was equally taken
with her, and had begged me to let her take meals with us and sleep
with her. As I had a prospect of being at their lascivious play, I
willingly consented, and henceforth she was always present at the
table. We enjoyed her company immensely, for she told us side-
splitting tales which kept us at table till it was time to go to
Rosalie's, where my niece's adorer was certain to be awaiting us.
The next day, which was Holy Thursday, Rosalie came with us to see
the processions. I had Rosalie and Marcoline with me, one on each
arm, veiled in their mezzaros, and my niece was under the charge of
her lover. The day after we went to see the procession called at
Genoa Caracce, and Marcoline pointed out my brother who kept hovering
round us, though he pretended not to see us. He was most carefully
dressed, and the stupid fop seemed to think he was sure to find
favour in Marcoline's eyes, and make her regret having despised him;
but he was woefully deceived, for Marcoline knew how to manage her
mezzaro so well that, though he was both seen and laughed at, the
poor devil could not be certain that she had noticed him at all, and
in addition the sly girl held me so closely by the arm that he must
have concluded we were very intimate.
My niece and Marcoline thought themselves the best friends in the
world, and could not bear my telling them that their amorous sports
were the only reason for their attachment. They therefore agreed to
abandon them as soon as we left Genoa, and promised that I should
sleep between them in the felucca, all of us to keep our clothes on.
I said I should hold them to their word, and I fixed our departure
for Thursday. I ordered the felucca to be in readiness and summoned
my brother to go on board.
It was a cruel moment when I left Annette with her mother. She wept
so bitterly that all of us had to shed tears. My niece gave her a
handsome dress and I thirty sequins, promising to come and see her
again on my return from England. Possano was told to go on board
with the abbe; I had provisioned the boat for three days. The young
merchant promised to be at Marseilles, telling my niece that by the
time he came everything would be settled. I was delighted to hear
it; it assured me that her father would give her a kind reception.
Our friends did not leave us till the moment we went on board.
The felucca was very conveniently arranged, and was propelled by the
twelve oarsmen. On the deck there were also twenty-four muskets, so
that we should have been able to defend ourselves against a pirate.
Clairmont had arranged my carriage and my trunks so cleverly, that by
stretching five mattresses over them we had an excellent bed, where
we could sleep and undress ourselves in perfect comfort; we had good
pillows and plenty of sheets. A long awning covered the deck, and
two lanterns were hung up, one at each end. In the evening they were
lighted and Clairmont brought in supper. I had warned my brother
that at the slightest presumption on his part he should be flung into
the sea, so I allowed him and Possano to sup with us.
I sat between my two nymphs and served the company merrily, first my
niece, then Marcoline, then my brother, and finally Possano. No
water was drunk at table, so we each emptied a bottle of excellent
Burgundy, and when we had finished supper the rowers rested on their
oars, although the wind was very light. I had the lamps put out and
went to bed with my two sweethearts, one on each side of me.
The light of dawn awoke me, and I found my darlings still sleeping in
the same position. I could kiss neither of them, since one passed
for my niece, and my sense of humanity would not allow me to treat
Marcoline as my mistress in the presence of an unfortunate brother
who adored her, and had never obtained the least favour from her. He
was lying near at hand, overwhelmed with grief and seasickness, and
watching and listening with all his might for the amorous encounter
he suspected us of engaging in. I did not want to have any
unpleasantness, so I contented myself with gazing on them till the
two roses awoke and opened their eyes.
When this delicious sight was over, I got up and found that we were
only opposite Final, and I proceeded to reprimand the master.
"The wind fell dead at Savona, sir"; and all the seamen chorused his
"Then you should have rowed instead of idling."
"We were afraid of waking you. You shall be at Antibes by tomorrow."
After passing the time by eating a hearty meal, we took a fancy to go
on shore at St. Remo. Everybody was delighted. I took my two nymphs
on land, and after forbidding any of the others to disembark I
conducted the ladies to an inn, where I ordered coffee. A man
accosted us, and invited us to come and play biribi at his house.
"I thought the game was forbidden in Genoa," said I. I felt certain
that the players were the rascals whose bank I had broken at Genoa,
so I accepted the invitation. My niece had fifty Louis in her purse,
and I gave fifteen to Marcoline. We found a large assemblage, room
was made for us, and I recognized the knaves of Genoa. As soon as
they saw me they turned pale and trembled. I should say that the man
with the bag was not the poor devil who had served me so well without
"I play harlequin," said I.
"There isn't one."
"What's the bank?"
"There it is. We play for small stakes here, and those two hundred
louis are quite sufficient. You can bet as low as you like, and the
highest stake is of a louis."
"That's all very well, but my louis is full weight."
"I think ours are, too."
"Are you sure?"
"Then I won't play," said I, to the keeper of the rooms.
"You are right; bring the scales."
The banker then said that when play was over he would give four
crowns of six livres for every louis that the company had won, and
the matter was settled. In a moment the board was covered with
We each punted a louis at a time, and I and my niece lost twenty
Louis, but Marcoline, who had never possessed two sequins in her life
before, won two hundred and forty Louis. She played on the figure of
an abbe which came out fifth twenty times. She was given a bag full
of crown pieces, and we returned to the felucca.
The wind was contrary, and we had to row all night, and in the
morning the sea was so rough that we had to put in at Mentone. My
two sweethearts were very sick, as also my brother and Possano, but I
was perfectly well. I took the two invalids to the inn, and allowed
my brother and Possano to land and refresh themselves. The innkeeper
told me that the Prince and Princess of Monaco were at Mentone, so I
resolved to pay them a visit. It was thirteen years since I had seen
the prince at Paris, where I had amused him and his mistress Caroline
at supper. It was this prince who had taken me to see the horrible
Duchess of Rufec; then he was unmarried, and now I met him again in
his principality with his wife, of whom he had already two sons. The
princess had been a Duchess de Borgnoli, a great heiress, and a
delightful and pretty woman. I had heard all about her, and I was
curious to verify the facts for myself.
I called on the prince, was announced, and after a long wait they
introduced me to his presence. I gave him his title of highness,
which I had never done at Paris, where he was not known under his
full style and title. He received me politely, but with that
coolness which lets one know that one is not an over-welcome visitor.
"You have put in on account of the bad weather, I suppose?" said he.
"Yes, prince, and if your highness will allow me I will spend the
whole day in your delicious villa." (It is far from being
"As you please. The princess as well as myself likes it better than
our place at Monaco, so we live here by preference."
"I should be grateful if your highness would present me to the
Without mentioning my name he ordered a page in waiting to present me
to the princess.
The page opened the door of a handsome room and said, "The Princess,"
and left me. She was singing at the piano, but as soon as she saw me
she rose and came to meet me. I was obliged to introduce myself, a
most unpleasant thing, and no doubt the princess felt the position,
for she pretended not to notice it, and addressed me with the utmost
kindness and politeness, and in a way that shewed that she was
learned in the maxims of good society. I immediately became very
much at my ease, and proceeded in a lordly manner to entertain her
with pleasant talk, though I said nothing about my two lady friends.
The princess was handsome, clever, and good-natured. Her mother, who
knew that a man like the prince would never make her daughter happy,
opposed the marriage, but the young marchioness was infatuated, and
the mother had to give in when the girl said,--
"O Monaco O monaca." (Either Monaco or a convent.)
We were still occupied in the trifles which keep up an ordinary
conversation, when the prince came in running after a waiting-maid,
who was making her escape, laughing. The princess pretended not to
see him, and went on with what she was saying. The scene displeased
me, and I took leave of the princess, who wished me a pleasant
journey. I met the prince as I was going out, and he invited me to
come and see him whenever I passed that way.
"Certainly," said I; and made my escape without saying any more.
I went back to the inn and ordered a good dinner for three.
In the principality of Monaco there was a French garrison, which was
worth a pension of a hundred thousand francs to the prince--a very
welcome addition to his income.
A curled and scented young officer, passing by our room, the door of
which was open, stopped short, and with unblushing politeness asked
us if we would allow him to join our party. I replied politely, but
coldly, that he did us honour--a phrase which means neither yes nor
no; but a Frenchman who has advanced one step never retreats.
He proceeded to display his graces for the benefit of the ladies,
talking incessantly, without giving them time to get in a word, when
he suddenly turned to me and said that he wondered how it was that
the prince had not asked me and my ladies to dinner. I told him that
I had not said anything to the prince about the treasure I had with
I had scarcely uttered the words, when the kindly blockhead rose and
"Parbleu! I am no longer surprised. I will go and tell his
highness, and I shall soon have the honour of dining with you at the
He did not wait to hear my answer, but went off in hot haste.
We laughed heartily at his folly, feeling quite sure that we should
neither dine with him nor the prince, but in a quarter of an hour he
returned in high glee, and invited us all to dinner on behalf of the
"I beg you will thank his highness, and at the same time ask him to
excuse us. The weather has improved, and I want to be off as soon as
we have taken a hasty morsel."
The young Frenchman exerted all his eloquence in vain, and at length
retired with a mortified air to take our answer to the prince.
I thought I had got rid of him at last, but I did not know my man.
He returned a short time after, and addressing himself in a
complacent manner to the ladies, as if I was of no more account, he
told them that he had given the prince such a description of their
charms that he had made up his mind to dine with them.
"I have already ordered the table to be laid for two more, as I shall
have the honour of being of the party. In a quarter of an hour,
ladies, the prince will be here."
"Very good," said I, "but as the prince is coming I must go to the
felucca and fetch a capital pie of which the prince is very fond, I
know. Come, ladies."
"You can leave them here, sir. I will undertake to keep them
"I have no doubt you would, but they have some things to get from the
felucca as well."
"Then you will allow me to come too."
"Certainly with pleasure."
As we were going down the stairs, I asked the innkeeper what I owed
"Nothing, sir, I have just received orders to serve you in
everything, and to take no money from you."
"The prince is really magnificent!" During this short dialogue, the
ladies had gone on with the fop. I hastened to rejoin them, and my
niece took my arm, laughing heartily to hear the officer making love
to Marcoline, who did not understand a word he said. He did not
notice it in the least, for his tongue kept going like the wheel of a
mill, and he did not pause for any answers.
"We shall have some fun at dinner," said my niece, "but what are we
going to do on the felucca?"
"We are leaving. Say nothing."
"What a jest! it is worth its weight in gold."
We went on board the felucca, and the officer, who was delighted with
the pretty vessel, proceeded to examine it. I told my niece to keep
him company, and going to the master, whispered to him to let go
"Yes, this moment."
"But the abbe and your secretary are gone for a walk, and two of my
men are on shore, too."
"That's no matter; we shall pick them up again at Antibes; it's only
ten leagues, and they have plenty of money. I must go, and directly.
He tripped the anchor, and the felucca began to swing away from the
shore. The officer asked me in great astonishment what it meant.
"It means that I am going to Antibes and I shall be very glad to take
you there for nothing."
"This is a fine jest! You are joking, surely?"
"Your company will be very pleasant on the journey."
"Pardieu! put me ashore, for with your leave, ladies, I cannot go to
"Put the gentleman ashore," said I to the master, "he does not seem
to like our company."
"It's not that, upon my honour. These ladies are charming, but the
prince would think that I was in the plot to play this trick upon
him, which you must confess is rather strong."
"I never play a weak trick."
"But what will the prince say?"
"He may say what he likes, and I shall do as I like."
"Well, it's no fault of mine. Farewell, ladies! farewell, sir!"
"Farewell, and you may thank the prince for me for paying my bill."
Marcoline who did not understand what was passing gazed in
astonishment, but my niece laughed till her sides ached, for the way
in which the poor officer had taken the matter was extremely comic.
Clairmont brought us an excellent dinner, and we laughed incessantly
during its progress, even at the astonishment of the abbe and Possano
when they came to the quay and found the felucca had flown. However,
I was sure of meeting them again at Antibes, and we reached that port
at six o'clock in the evening.
The motion of the sea had tired us without making us feel sick, for
the air was fresh, and our appetites felt the benefits of it, and in
consequence we did great honour to the supper and the wine.
Marcoline whose stomach was weakened by the sickness she had
undergone soon felt the effects of the Burgundy, her eyes were heavy,
and she went to sleep. My niece would have imitated her, but I
reminded her tenderly that we were at Antibes, and said I was sure
she would keep her word. She did not answer me, but gave me her
hand, lowering her eyes with much modesty.
Intoxicated with her submission which was so like love, I got into
bed beside her, exclaiming,--
"At last the hour of my happiness has come!
"And mine too, dearest."
"Yours? Have you not continually repulsed me?"
"Never! I always loved you, and your indifference has been a bitter
grief to me."
"But the first night we left Milan you preferred being alone to
sleeping with me."
"Could I do otherwise without passing in your eyes for one more a
slave to sensual passion than to love? Besides you might have
thought I was giving myself to you for the benefits I had received;
and though gratitude be a noble feeling, it destroys all the sweet
delights of love. You ought to have told me that you loved me and
subdued me by those attentions which conquer the hearts of us women.
Then you would have seen that I loved you too, and our affection
would have been mutual. On my side I should have known that the
pleasure you had of me was not given out of a mere feeling of
gratitude. I do not know whether you would have loved me less the
morning after, if I had consented, but I am sure I should have lost
She was right, and I applauded her sentiments, while giving her to
understand that she was to put all notions of benefits received out
of her mind. I wanted to make her see that I knew that there was no
more need for gratitude on her side than mine.
We spent a night that must be imagined rather than described. She
told me in the morning that she felt all had been for the best, as if
she had given way at first she could never have made up her mind to
accept the young Genoese, though he seemed likely to make her happy.
Marcoline came to see us in the morning, caressed us, and promised to
sleep by herself the rest of the voyage.
"Then you are not jealous?" said I.
"No, for her happiness is mine too, and I know she will make you
She became more ravishingly beautiful every day.
Possano and the abbe came in just as we were sitting down to table,
and my niece having ordered two more plates I allowed them to dine
with us. My brother's face was pitiful and yet ridiculous. He could
not walk any distance, so he had been obliged to come on horseback,
probably for the first time in his life.
"My skin is delicate," said he, "so I am all blistered. But God's
will be done! I do not think any of His servants have endured
greater torments than mine during this journey. My body is sore, and
so is my soul."
So saying he cast a piteous glance at Marcoline, and we had to hold
our sides to prevent ourselves laughing. My niece could bear it no
more, and said,--
"How I pity you, dear uncle!"
At this he blushed, and began to address the most absurd compliments
to her, styling her "my dear niece." I told him to be silent, and
not to speak French till he was able to express himself in that
equivocal language without making a fool of himself. But the poet
Pogomas spoke no better than he did.
I was curious to know what had happened at Mentone after we had left,
and Pogomas proceeded to tell the story.
"When we came back from our walk we were greatly astonished not to