Military Career, Casanova, v3
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

Part 3 out of 3

being seriously ill.

Butintro is seven miles from Corfu, almost opposite to that city; it
is the nearest point to the island from the mainland. It is not a
fortress, but only a small village of Epirus, or Albania, as it is
now called, and belonging to the Venetians. Acting on the political
axiom that "neglected right is lost right," the Republic sends every
year four galleys to Butintro with a gang of galley slaves to fell
trees, cut them, and load them on the galleys, while the military
keep a sharp look-out to prevent them from escaping to Turkey and
becoming Mussulmans. One of the four galleys was commanded by M.
F---- who, wanting an adjutant for the occasion, chose me.

I went with him, and on the fourth day we came back to Corfu with a
large provision of wood. I found M. D---- R---- alone on the terrace
of his palace. It was Good Friday. He seemed thoughtful, and, after
a silence of a few minutes, he spoke the following words, which I can
never forget:

"M. F-----, whose adjutant died yesterday, has just been entreating
me to give you to him until he can find another officer. I have told
him that I had no right to dispose of your person, and that he, ought
to apply to you, assuring him that, if you asked me leave to go with
him, I would not raise any objection, although I require two
adjutants. Has he not mentioned the matter to you?"

"No, monsignor, he has only tendered me his thanks for having
accompanied him to Butintro, nothing else."

"He is sure to speak to you about it. What do you intend to say?"

"Simply that I will never leave the service of your excellency
without your express command to do so."

"I never will give you such an order."

As M. D---- R---- was saying the last word, M. and Madame F---- came
in. Knowing that the conversation would most likely turn upon the
subject which had just been broached, I hurried out of the room. In
less than a quarter of an hour I was sent for, and M. F---- said to
me, confidentially,

"Well, M. Casanova, would you not be willing to live with me as my

"Does his excellency dismiss me from his service?"

"Not at all," observed M. D---- R----, "but I leave you the choice."

"My lord, I could not be guilty of ingratitude."

And I remained there standing, uneasy, keeping my eyes on the ground,
not even striving to conceal my mortification, which was, after all,
very natural in such a position. I dreaded looking at Madame F----,
for I knew that she could easily guess all my feelings. An instant
after, her foolish husband coldly remarked that I should certainly
have a more fatiguing service with him than with M. D---- R----, and
that, of course, it was more honourable to serve the general governor
of the galeazze than a simple sopra-committo. I was on the point of
answering, when Madame F---- said, in a graceful and easy manner,
"M. Casanova is right," and she changed the subject. I left the
room, revolving in my mind all that had just taken place.

My conclusion was that M. F---- had asked M. D---- R---- to let me go
with him at the suggestion of his wife, or, at least with her
consent, and it was highly flattering to my love and to my vanity.
But I was bound in honour not to accept the post, unless I had a
perfect assurance that it would not be disagreeable to my present
patron. "I will accept," I said to myself, "if M. D---- R----- tells
me positively that I shall please him by doing so. It is for M. F to
make him say it."

On the same night I had the honour of offering my arm to Madame F---
during the procession which takes place in commemoration of the death
of our Lord and Saviour, which was then attended on foot by all the
nobility. I expected she would mention the matter, but she did not.
My love was in despair, and through the night I could not close my
eyes. I feared she had been offended by my refusal, and was
overwhelmed with grief. I passed the whole of the next day without
breaking my fast, and did not utter a single word during the evening
reception. I felt very unwell, and I had an attack of fever which
kept me in bed on Easter Sunday. I was very weak on the Monday, and
intended to remain in my room, when a messenger from Madame F----
came to inform me that she wished to see me. I told the messenger
not to say that he had found me in bed, and dressing myself rapidly I
hurried to her house. I entered her room, pale, looking very ill:
yet she did not enquire after my health, and kept silent a minute or
two, as if she had been trying to recollect what she had to say to

"Ah! yes, you are aware that our adjutant is dead, and that we want
to replace him. My husband, who has a great esteem for you, and
feels that M. D---- R----- leaves you perfectly free to make your
choice, has taken the singular fancy that you will come, if I ask you
myself to do us that pleasure. Is he mistaken? If you would come to
us, you would have that room."

She was pointing to a room adjoining the chamber in which she slept,
and so situated that, to see her in every part of her room, I should
not even require to place myself at the window.

"M. D---- R----- ," she continued, "will not love you less, and as he
will see you here every, day, he will not be likely to forget his
interest in your welfare. Now, tell me, will you come or not?"

"I wish I could, madam, but indeed I cannot."

"You cannot? That is singular. Take a seat, and tell me what there
is to prevent you, when, in accepting my offer, you are sure to
please M. D---- R----- as well as us."

"If I were certain of it, I would accept immediately; but all I have
heard from his lips was that he left me free to make a choice."

"Then you are afraid to grieve him, if you come to us ?"

"It might be, and for nothing on earth...."

"I am certain of the contrary."

"Will you be so good as to obtain that he says so to me himself?"

"And then you will come?"

"Oh, madam! that very minute!"

But the warmth of my exclamation might mean a great deal, and I
turned my head round so as not to embarrass her. She asked me to
give her her mantle to go to church, and we went out. As we were
going down the stairs, she placed her ungloved hand upon mine. It
was the first time that she had granted me such a favour, and it
seemed to me a good omen. She took off her hand, asking me whether I
was feverish. "Your hand," she said, "is burning."

When we left the church, M. D---- R-----'s carriage happened to pass,
and I assisted her to get in, and as soon as she had gone, hurried to
my room in order to breathe freely and to enjoy all the felicity
which filled my soul; for I no longer doubted her love for me, and I
knew that, in this case, M. D---- R----- was not likely to refuse her

What is love? I have read plenty of ancient verbiage on that
subject, I have read likewise most of what has been said by modern
writers, but neither all that has been said, nor what I have thought
about it, when I was young and now that I am no longer so, nothing,
in fact, can make me agree that love is a trifling vanity. It is a
sort of madness, I grant that, but a madness over which philosophy is
entirely powerless; it is a disease to which man is exposed at all
times, no matter at what age, and which cannot be cured, if he is
attacked by it in his old age. Love being sentiment which cannot be
explained! God of all nature!--bitter and sweet feeling! Love!--
charming monster which cannot be fathomed! God who, in the midst of
all the thorns with which thou plaguest us, strewest so many roses on
our path that, without thee, existence and death would be united and
blended together!

Two days afterwards, M. D---- R-----, told me to go and take orders
from M. F---- on board his galley, which was ready for a five or six
days' voyage. I quickly packed a few things, and called for my new
patron who received me with great joy. We took our departure without
seeing madam, who was not yet visible. We returned on the sixth day,
and I went to establish myself in my new home, for, as I was
preparing to go to M. D---- R-----, to take his orders, after our
landing, he came himself, and after asking M. F---- and me whether we
were pleased with each other, he said to me,

"Casanova, as you suit each other so well, you may be certain that
you will greatly please me by remaining in the service of M. F."

I obeyed respectfully, and in less than one hour I had taken
possession of my new quarters. Madame F---- told me how delighted
she was to see that great affair ended according to her wishes, and I
answered with a deep reverence.

I found myself like the salamander, in the very heart of the fire for
which I had been longing so ardently.

Almost constantly in the presence of Madame F----, dining often alone
with her, accompanying her in her walks, even when M. D---- R-----
was not with us, seeing her from my room, or conversing with her in
her chamber, always reserved and attentive without pretension, the
first night passed by without any change being brought about by that
constant intercourse. Yet I was full of hope, and to keep up my
courage I imagined that love was not yet powerful enough to conquer
her pride. I expected everything from some lucky chance, which I
promised myself to improve as soon as it should present itself, for I
was persuaded that a lover is lost if he does not catch fortune by
the forelock.

But there was one circumstance which annoyed me. In public, she
seized every opportunity of treating me with distinction, while, when
we were alone, it was exactly the reverse. In the eyes of the world
I had all the appearance of a happy lover, but I would rather have
had less of the appearance of happiness and more of the reality. My
love for her was disinterested; vanity had no share in my feelings.

One day, being alone with me, she said,

"You have enemies, but I silenced them last night."

"They are envious, madam, and they would pity me if they could read
the secret pages of my heart. You could easily deliver me from those

"How can you be an object of pity for them, and how could I deliver
you from them?"

"They believe me happy, and I am miserable; you would deliver me from
them by ill-treating me in their presence."

"Then you would feel my bad treatment less than the envy of the

"Yes, madam, provided your bad treatment in public were compensated
by your kindness when we are alone, for there is no vanity in the
happiness I feel in belonging to you. Let others pity me, I will be
happy on condition that others are mistaken."

"That's a part that I can never play."

I would often be indiscreet enough to remain behind the curtain of
the window in my room, looking at her when she thought herself
perfectly certain that nobody saw her; but the liberty I was thus
guilty of never proved of great advantage to me. Whether it was
because she doubted my discretion or from habitual reserve, she was
so particular that, even when I saw her in bed, my longing eyes never
could obtain a sight of anything but her head.

One day, being present in her room while her maid was cutting off the
points of her long and beautiful hair, I amused myself in picking up
all those pretty bits, and put them all, one after the other, on her
toilettable, with the exception of one small lock which I slipped
into my pocket, thinking that she had not taken any notice of my
keeping it; but the moment we were alone she told me quietly, but
rather too seriously, to take out of my pocket the hair I had picked
up from the floor. Thinking she was going too far, and such rigour
appearing to me as cruel as it was unjust and absurd, I obeyed, but
threw the hair on the toilet-table with an air of supreme contempt.

"Sir, you forget yourself."

"No, madam, I do not, for you might have feigned not to have observed
such an innocent theft."

"Feigning is tiresome."

"Was such petty larceny a very great crime?"

"No crime, but it was an indication of feelings which you have no
right to entertain for me."

"Feelings which you are at liberty not to return, madam, but which
hatred or pride can alone forbid my heart to experience. If you had
a heart you would not be the victim of either of those two fearful
passions, but you have only head, and it must be a very wicked head,
judging by the care it takes to heap humiliation upon me. You have
surprised my secret, madam, you may use it as you think proper, but
in the meantime I have learned to know you thoroughly. That
knowledge will prove more useful than your discovery, for perhaps it
will help me to become wiser."

After this violent tirade I left her, and as she did not call me back
retired to my room. In the hope that sleep would bring calm, I
undressed and went to bed. In such moments a lover hates the object
of his love, and his heart distils only contempt and hatred. I could
not go to sleep, and when I was sent for at supper-time I answered
that I was ill. The night passed off without my eyes being visited
by sleep, and feeling weak and low I thought I would wait to see what
ailed me, and refused to have my dinner, sending word that I was
still very unwell. Towards evening I felt my heart leap for joy when
I heard my beautiful lady-love enter my room. Anxiety, want of food
and sleep, gave me truly the appearance of being ill, and I was
delighted that it should be so. I sent her away very soon, by
telling her with perfect indifference that it was nothing but a bad
headache, to which I was subject, and that repose and diet would
effect a speedy cure.

But at eleven o'clock she came back with her friend, M. D---- R-----,
and coming to my bed she said, affectionately,

"What ails you, my poor Casanova?"

"A very bad headache, madam, which will be cured to-morrow."

"Why should you wait until to-morrow? You must get better at once.
I have ordered a basin of broth and two new-laid eggs for you."

"Nothing, madam; complete abstinence can alone cure me."

"He is right," said M. D---- R-----, "I know those attacks."

I shook my head slightly. M. D---- R----- having just then turned
round to examine an engraving, she took my hand, saying that she
would like me to drink some broth, and I felt that she was giving me
a small parcel. She went to look at the engraving with M. D----

I opened the parcel, but feeling that it contained hair, I hurriedly
concealed it under the bed-clothes: at the same moment the blood
rushed to my head with such violence that it actually frightened me.
I begged for some water, she came to me, with M. D---- R-----, and
then were both frightened to see me so red, when they had seen me
pale and weak only one minute before.

Madame F---- gave me a glass of water in which she put some Eau des
carmes which instantly acted as a violent emetic. Two or three
minutes after I felt better, and asked for something to eat. Madame
F---- smiled. The servant came in with the broth and the eggs, and
while I was eating I told the history of Pandolfin. M. D---- R-----
thought it was all a miracle, and I could read, on the countenance of
the charming woman, love, affection, and repentance. If M. D----
R----- had not been present, it would have been the moment of my
happiness, but I felt certain that I should not have long to wait.
M. D---- R----- told Madame F---- that, if he had not seen me so
sick, he would have believed my illness to be all sham, for he did
not think it possible for anyone to rally so rapidly.

"It is all owing to my Eau des carmes," said Madame F-----, looking
at me, "and I will leave you my bottle."

"No, madam, be kind enough to take it with you, for the water would
have no virtue without your presence."

"I am sure of that," said M. D---- R-----, "so I will leave you here
with your patient."

"No, no, he must go to sleep now."

I slept all night, but in my happy dreams I was with her, and the
reality itself would hardly have procured me greater enjoyment than I
had during my happy slumbers. I saw I had taken a very long stride
forward, for twenty-four hours of abstinence gave me the right to
speak to her openly of my love, and the gift of her hair was an
irrefutable confession of her own feelings.

On the following day, after presenting myself before M. F----, I went
to have a little chat with the maid, to wait until her mistress was
visible, which was not long, and I had the pleasure of hearing her
laugh when the maid told her I was there. As soon as I went in,
without giving me time to say a single word, she told me how
delighted she was to see me looking so well, and advised me to call
upon M. D---- R-----.

It is not only in the eyes of a lover, but also in those of every man
of taste, that a woman is a thousand times more lovely at the moment
she comes out of the arms of Morpheus than when she has completed her
toilet. Around Madame F---- more brilliant beams were blazing than
around the sun when he leaves the embrace of Aurora. Yet the most
beautiful woman thinks as much of her toilet as the one who cannot do
without it--very likely because more human creatures possess the
more they want.

In the order given to me by Madame F---- to call on M. D---- R-----,
I saw another reason to be certain of approaching happiness, for I
thought that, by dismissing me so quickly, she had only tried to
postpone the consummation which I might have pressed upon her, and
which she could not have refused.

Rich in the possession of her hair, I held a consultation with my
love to decide what I ought to do with it, for Madame F----, very
likely in her wish to atone for the miserly sentiment which had
refused me a small bit, had given me a splendid lock, full a yard and
a half long. Having thought it over, I called upon a Jewish
confectioner whose daughter was a skilful embroiderer, and I made her
embroider before me, on a bracelet of green satin, the four initial
letters of our names, and make a very thin chain with the remainder.
I had a piece of black ribbon added to one end of the chain, in the
shape of a sliding noose, with which I could easily strangle myself
if ever love should reduce me to despair, and I passed it round my
neck. As I did not want to lose even the smallest particle of so
precious a treasure, I cut with a pair of scissors all the small bits
which were left, and devoutly gathered them together. Then I reduced
them into a fine powder, and ordered the Jewish confectioner to mix
the powder in my presence with a paste made of amber, sugar, vanilla,
angelica, alkermes and storax, and I waited until the comfits
prepared with that mixture were ready. I had some more made with the
same composition, but without any hair; I put the first in a
beautiful sweetmeat box of fine crystal, and the second in a
tortoise-shell box.

From the day when, by giving me her hair, Madame F---- had betrayed
the secret feelings of her heart, I no longer lost my time in
relating stories or adventures; I only spoke to her of my cove, of
my ardent desires; I told her that she must either banish me from her
presence, or crown my happiness, but the cruel, charming woman would
not accept that alternative. She answered that happiness could not
be obtained by offending every moral law, and by swerving from our
duties. If I threw myself at her feet to obtain by anticipation her
forgiveness for the loving violence I intended to use against her,
she would repulse me more powerfully than if she had had the strength
of a female Hercules, for she would say, in a voice full of sweetness
and affection,

"My friend, I do not entreat you to respect my weakness, but be
generous enough to spare me for the sake of all the love I feel for

"What! you love me, and you refuse to make me happy! It is
impossible! it is unnatural. You compel me to believe that you do
not love me. Only allow me to press my lips one moment upon your
lips, and I ask no more."

"No, dearest, no; it would only excite the ardour of your desires,
shake my resolution, and we should then find ourselves more miserable
than we are now."

Thus did she every day plunge me in despair, and yet she complained
that my wit was no longer brilliant in society, that I had lost that
elasticity of spirits which had pleased her so much after my arrival
from Constantinople. M. D---- R-----, who often jestingly waged war
against me, used to say that I was getting thinner and thinner every
day. Madame F---- told me one day that my sickly looks were very
disagreeable to her, because wicked tongues would not fail to say
that she treated me with cruelty. Strange, almost unnatural thought!
On it I composed an idyll which I cannot read, even now, without
feeling tears in my eyes.

"What!" I answered, "you acknowledge your cruelty towards me? You
are afraid of the world guessing all your heartless rigour, and yet
you continue to enjoy it! You condemn me unmercifully to the
torments of Tantalus! You would be delighted to see me gay,
cheerful, happy, even at the expense of a judgment by which the world
would find you guilty of a supposed but false kindness towards me,
and yet you refuse me even the slightest favours!"

"I do not mind people believing anything, provided it is not true."

"What a contrast! Would it be possible for me not to love you, for
you to feel nothing for me? Such contradictions strike me as
unnatural. But you are growing thinner yourself, and I am dying. It
must be so; we shall both die before long, you of consumption, I of
exhausting decline; for I am now reduced to enjoying your shadow
during the day, during the night, always, everywhere, except when I
am in your presence."

At that passionate declaration, delivered with all the ardour of an
excited lover, she was surprised, deeply moved, and I thought that
the happy hour had struck. I folded her in my arms, and was already
tasting the first fruits of enjoyment.... The sentinel knocked
twice!... Oh! fatal mischance! I recovered my composure and stood
in front of her.... M. D---- R----- made his appearance, and this
time he found me in so cheerful a mood that he remained with us until
one o'clock in the morning.

My comfits were beginning to be the talk of our society. M. D----
R-----, Madame F----, and I were the only ones who had a box full of
them. I was stingy with them, and no one durst beg any from me,
because I had said that they were very expensive, and that in all
Corfu there was no confectioner who could make or physician who could
analyse them. I never gave one out of my crystal box, and Madame F.
remarked it. I certainly did not believe them to be amorous philtre,
and I was very far from supposing that the addition of the hair made
them taste more delicious; but a superstition, the offspring of my
love, caused me to cherish them, and it made me happy to think that a
small portion of the woman I worshipped was thus becoming a part of
my being.

Influenced perhaps by some secret sympathy, Madame F. was exceedingly
fond of the comfits. She asserted before all her friends that they
were the universal panacea, and knowing herself perfect mistress of
the inventor, she did not enquire after the secret of the
composition. But having observed that I gave away only the comfits
which I kept in my tortoise-shell box, and that I never eat any but
those from the crystal box, she one day asked me what reason I had
for that. Without taking time to think, I told her that in those I
kept for myself there was a certain ingredient which made the
partaker love her.

"I do not believe it," she answered; "but are they different from
those I eat myself?"

"They are exactly the same, with the exception of the ingredient I
have just mentioned, which has been put only in mine."

"Tell me what the ingredient is."

"It is a secret which I cannot reveal to you."

"Then I will never eat any of your comfits."

Saying which, she rose, emptied her box, and filled it again with
chocolate drops; and for the next few days she was angry with me, and
avoided my company. I felt grieved, I became low-spirited, but I
could not make up my mind to tell her that I was eating her hair!

She enquired why I looked so sad.

"Because you refuse to take my comfits."

"You are master of your secret, and I am mistress of my diet."

"That is my reward for having taken you into my confidence."

And I opened my box, emptied its contents in my hand, and swallowed
the whole of them, saying, "Two more doses like this, and I shall die
mad with love for you. Then you will be revenged for my reserve.
Farewell, madam."

She called me back, made me take a seat near her, and told me not to
commit follies which would make her unhappy; that I knew how much she
loved me, and that it was not owing to the effect of any drug. "To
prove to you," she added, "that you do not require anything of the
sort to be loved, here is a token of my affection." And she offered
me her lovely lips, and upon them mine remained pressed until I was
compelled to draw a breath. I threw myself at her feet, with tears
of love and gratitude blinding my eyes, and told her that I would
confess my crime, if she would promise to forgive me.

"Your crime! You frighten me. Yes, I forgive you, but speak
quickly, and tell me all."

"Yes, everything. My comfits contain your hair reduced to a powder.
Here on my arm, see this bracelet on which our names are written with
your hair, and round my neck this chain of the same material, which
will help me to destroy my own life when your love fails me. Such is
my crime, but I would not have been guilty of it, if I had not loved

She smiled, and, bidding me rise from my kneeling position, she told
me that I was indeed the most criminal of men, and she wiped away my
tears, assuring me that I should never have any reason to strangle
myself with the chain.

After that conversation, in which I had enjoyed the sweet nectar of
my divinity's first kiss, I had the courage to behave in a very
different manner. She could see the ardour which consumed me;
perhaps the same fire burned in her veins, but I abstained from any

"What gives you," she said one day, "the strength to control

"After the kiss which you granted to me of your own accord, I felt
that I ought not to wish any favour unless your heart gave it as
freely. You cannot imagine the happiness that kiss has given me."

"I not imagine it, you ungrateful man! Which of us has given that

"Neither you nor I, angel of my soul! That kiss so tender, so sweet,
was the child of love!"

"Yes, dearest, of love, the treasures of which are inexhaustible."

The words were scarcely spoken, when our lips were engaged in happy
concert. She held me so tight against her bosom that I could not use
my hands to secure other pleasures, but I felt myself perfectly
happy. After that delightful skirmish, I asked her whether we were
never to go any further.

"Never, dearest friend, never. Love is a child which must be amused
with trifles; too substantial food would kill it."

"I know love better than you; it requires that substantial food, and
unless it can obtain it, love dies of exhaustion. Do not refuse me
the consolation of hope."

"Hope as much as you please, if it makes you happy."

"What should I do, if I had no hope? I hope, because I know you have
a heart."

"Ah! yes. Do you recollect the day, when, in your anger, you told
me that I had only a head, but no heart, thinking you were insulting
me grossly!"

"Oh! yes, I recollect it."

"How heartily I laughed, when I had time to think! Yes, dearest, I
have a heart, or I should not feel as happy as I feel now. Let us
keep our happiness, and be satisfied with it, as it is, without
wishing for anything more."

Obedient to her wishes, but every day more deeply enamoured, I was in
hope that nature at last would prove stronger than prejudice, and
would cause a fortunate crisis. But, besides nature, fortune was my
friend, and I owed my happiness to an accident.

Madame F. was walking one day in the garden, leaning on M. D----
R-----'s arm, and was caught by a large rose-bush, and the prickly
thorns left a deep cut on her leg. M. D---- R----- bandaged the
wound with his handkerchief, so as to stop the blood which was
flowing abundantly, and she had to be carried home in a palanquin.

In Corfu, wounds on the legs are dangerous when they are not well
attended to, and very often the wounded are compelled to leave the
city to be cured.

Madame F----- was confined to her bed, and my lucky position in the
house condemned me to remain constantly at her orders. I saw her
every minute; but, during the first three days, visitors succeeded
each other without intermission, and I never was alone with her. In
the evening, after everybody had gone, and her husband had retired to
his own apartment, M. D---- R----- remained another hour, and for the
sake of propriety I had to take my leave at the same time that he
did. I had much more liberty before the accident, and I told her so
half seriously, half jestingly. The next day, to make up for my
disappointment, she contrived a moment of happiness for me.

An elderly surgeon came every morning to dress her wound, during
which operation her maid only was present, but I used to go, in my
morning dishabille, to the girl's room, and to wait there, so as to
be the first to hear how my dear one was.

That morning, the girl came to tell me to go in as the surgeon was
dressing the wound.

"See, whether my leg is less inflamed."

"To give an opinion, madam, I ought to have seen it yesterday."

"True. I feel great pain, and I am afraid of erysipelas."

"Do not be afraid, madam," said the surgeon, "keep your bed, and I
answer for your complete recovery."

The surgeon being busy preparing a poultice at the other end of the
room, and the maid out, I enquired whether she felt any hardness in
the calf of the leg, and whether the inflammation went up the limb;
and naturally, my eyes and my hands kept pace with my questions....
I saw no inflammation, I felt no hardness, but.... and the lovely
patient hurriedly let the curtain fall, smiling, and allowing me to
take a sweet kiss, the perfume of which I had not enjoyed for many
days. It was a sweet moment; a delicious ecstacy. From her mouth my
lips descended to her wound, and satisfied in that moment that my
kisses were the best of medicines, I would have kept my lips there,
if the noise made by the maid coming back had not compelled me to
give up my delightful occupation.

When we were left alone, burning with intense desires, I entreated
her to grant happiness at least to my eyes.

"I feel humiliated," I said to her, "by the thought that the felicity
I have just enjoyed was only a theft."

"But supposing you were mistaken?"

The next day I was again present at the dressing of the wound, and as
soon as the surgeon had left, she asked me to arrange her pillows,
which I did at once. As if to make that pleasant office easier, she
raised the bedclothes to support herself, and she thus gave me a
sight of beauties which intoxicated my eyes, and I protracted the
easy operation without her complaining of my being too slow.

When I had done I was in a fearful state, and I threw myself in an
arm-chair opposite her bed, half dead, in a sort of trance. I was
looking at that lovely being who, almost artless, was continually
granting me greater and still greater favours, and yet never allowed
me to reach the goal for which I was so ardently longing.

"What are you thinking of?" she said.

"Of the supreme felicity I have just been enjoying."

"You are a cruel man."

"No, I am not cruel, for, if you love me, you must not blush for your
indulgence. You must know, too, that, loving you passionately, I
must not suppose that it is to be a surprise that I am indebted for
my happiness in the enjoyment of the most ravishing sights, for if I
owed it only to mere chance I should be compelled to believe that any
other man in my position might have had the same happiness, and such
an idea would be misery to me. Let me be indebted to you for having
proved to me this morning how much enjoyment I can derive from one of
my senses. Can you be angry with my eyes?"


"They belong to you; tear them out."

The next day, the moment the doctor had gone, she sent her maid out
to make some purchases.

"Ah!" she said a few minutes after, "my maid has forgotten to change
my chemise."

"Allow me to take her place."

"Very well, but recollect that I give permission only to your eyes to
take a share in the proceedings."


She unlaced herself, took off her stays and her chemise, and told me
to be quick and put on the clean one, but I was not speedy enough,
being too much engaged by all I could see.

"Give me my chemise," she exclaimed; "it is there on that small


"There, near the bed. Well, I will take it myself."

She leaned over towards the table, and exposed almost everything I
was longing for, and, turning slowly round, she handed me the chemise
which I could hardly hold, trembling all over with fearful
excitement. She took pity on me, my hands shared the happiness of my
eyes; I fell in her arms, our lips fastened together, and, in a
voluptuous, ardent pressure, we enjoyed an amorous exhaustion not
sufficient to allay our desires, but delightful enough to deceive
them for the moment.

With greater control over herself than women have generally under
similar circumstances, she took care to let me reach only the porch
of the temple, without granting me yet a free entrance to the


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