South of France, Casanova, v21
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 2 out of 3
telling him that his daughter was with her, and that she hoped to
obtain his pardon and to return to his house, where she would soon
become the bride of a rich Genoese, who wished to receive her from
her father's hands. The worthy man, glad to find again the lost
sheep, said he would come in two days and take her to her aunt, who
had a house at St. Louis, two leagues from the town. She might then
quietly await the arrival of her future husband, and avoid all
occasion of scandal. My niece was surprised that her father had not
yet received a letter from the young man, and I could see that she
was anxious about it; but I comforted her and assured her that I
would not leave Marseilles till I had danced at her wedding.
I left her to go to Marcoline, whom I longed to press to my heart.
I found her in an ecstasy of joy, and she said that if she could
understand what her maid said her happiness would be complete. I saw
that her situation was a painful one, especially as she was a woman,
but for the present I saw no way out of the difficulty; I should have
to get an Italian-speaking servant, and this would have been a
troublesome task. She wept with joy when I told her that my niece
desired to be remembered to her, and that in a day she would be on
her father's hearth. Marcoline had found out that she was not my
real niece when she found her in my arms.
The choice supper which the old man had procured us, and which spewed
he had a good memory for my favorite tastes, made me think of
Rosalie. Marcoline heard me tell the story with great interest, and
said that it seemed to her that I only went about to make unfortunate
girls happy, provided I found them pretty.
"I almost think you are right," said I; "and it is certain that I
have made many happy, and have never brought misfortune to any girl."
"God will reward you, my dear friend."
"Possibly I am not worth His taking the trouble!"
Though the wit and beauty of Marcoline had charmed me, her appetite
charmed me still more; the reader knows that I have always liked
women who eat heartily. And in Marseilles they make an excellent
dish of a common fowl, which is often so insipid.
Those who like oil will get on capitally in Provence, for it is used
in everything, and it must be confessed that if used in moderation it
makes an excellent relish.
Marcoline was charming in bed. I had not enjoyed the Venetian vices
for nearly eight years, and Marcoline was a beauty before whom
Praxiteles would have bent the knee. I laughed at my brother for
having let such a treasure slip out of his hands, though I quite
forgave him for falling in love with her. I myself could not take
her about, and as I wanted her to be amused I begged my kind old
landlord to send her to the play every day, and to prepare a good
supper every evening. I got her some rich dresses that she might cut
a good figure, and this attention redoubled her affection for me.
The next day, which was the second occasion on which I had visited
her, she told me that she had enjoyed the play though she could not
understand the dialogues; and the day after she astonished me by
saying that my brother had intruded himself into her box, and had
said so many impertinent things that if she had been at Venice she
would have boxed his ears.
"I am afraid," she added, "that the rascal has followed me here, and
will be annoying me."
"Don't be afraid," I answered, "I will see what I can do."
When I got to the hotel I entered the abbe's room, and by Possano's
bed I saw an individual collecting lint and various surgical
"What's all this? Are you ill?"
"Yes, I have got something which will teach me to be wiser for the
"It's rather late for this kind of thing at sixty."
"Better late than never."
"You are an old fool. You stink of mercury."
"I shall not leave my room."
"This will harm you with the marchioness, who believes you to be the
greatest of adepts, and consequently above such weaknesses."
"Damn the marchioness! Let me be."
The rascal had never talked in this style before. I thought it best
to conceal my anger, and went up to my brother who was in a corner of
"What do you mean by pestering Marcoline at the theatre yesterday?"
"I went to remind her of her duty, and to warn her that I would not
be her complaisant lover."
"You have insulted me and her too, fool that you are! You owe all to
Marcoline, for if it had not been for her, I should never have given
you a second glance; and yet you behave in this disgraceful manner."
"I have ruined myself for her sake, and I can never shew my face in
Venice again. What right have you to take her from me?"
"The right of love, blockhead, and the right of luck, and the right
of the strongest! How is it that she is happy with me, and does not
wish to leave me?"
"You have dazzled her."
"Another reason is that with you she was dying of misery and hunger."
"Yes, but the end of it will be that you will abandon her as you have
done with many others, whereas I should have married her."
"Married her! You renegade, you seem to forget that you are a
priest. I do not propose to part with her, but if I do I will send
her away rich."
"Well, well, do as you please; but still I have the right to speak to
her whenever I like."
"I have forbidden you to do so, and you may trust me when I tell you
that you have spoken to her for the last time."
So saying I went out and called on an advocate. I asked him if I
could have a foreign abbe, who was indebted to me, arrested, although
I had no proof of the debt.
"You can do so, as he is a foreigner, but you will have to pay
caution-money. You can have him put under arrest at his inn, and you
can make him pay unless he is able to prove that he owes you nothing.
Is the sum a large one?"
"You must come with me before the magistrate and deposit twelve
louis, and from that moment you will be able to have him arrested.
Where is he staying?"
"In the same hotel as I am, but I do not wish to have him arrested
there, so I will get him to the 'Ste. Baume,' and put him under
arrest. Here are the twelve louis caution-money, so you can get the
magistrate's order, and we will meet again to-morrow."
"Give me his name, and yours also."
I returned in haste to the "Treize Cantons," and met the abbe,
dressed up to the nines, and just about to go out.
"Follow me," said I, "I am going to take you to Marcoline, and you
shall have an explanation in her presence."
He got into a carriage with me, and I told the coachman to take us to
the "Ste. Baume" inn. When we got there, I told him to wait for me,
that I was going to fetch Marcoline, and that I would return with her
in a minute.
I got into the carriage again, and drove to the advocate, who gave
the order for arrest to a policeman, who was to execute it. I then
returned to the "Treize Cantons" and put his belongings into a trunk,
and had them transported to his new abode.
I found him under arrest, and talking to the astonished host, who
could not understand what it was all about. I told the landlord the
mythical history of the abbe debt to me, and handed over the trunk,
telling him that he had nothing to fear with regard to the bill, as I
would take care that he should be well paid.
I then began my talk with the abbe, telling him that he must get
ready to leave Marseilles the next day, and that I would pay for his
journey to Paris; but that if he did not like to do so, I should
leave him to his fate, and in three days he would be expelled from
Marseilles. The coward began to weep and said he would go to Paris.
"You must start for Lyons to-morrow, but you will first write me out
an I O U for twelve louis."
"Because I say so. If you do so I will give you twelve louis and
tear up the document before your face."
"I have no choice in the matter."
"You are right."
When he had written the I O U, I went to take a place in the
diligence for him, and the next morning I went with the advocate to
withdraw the arrest and to take back the twelve louis, which I gave
to my brother in the diligence, with a letter to M. Bono, whom I
warned not to give him any money, and to send him on to Paris by the
same diligence. I then tore up his note of hand, and wished him a
Thus I got rid of this foolish fellow, whom I saw again in Paris in a
The day I had my brother arrested and before I went to dine with
Madame d'Urfe I had an interview with Possano in the hope of
discovering the reason of his ill humour.
"The reason is," said he, "that I am sure you are going to lay hands
on twenty or thirty thousand crowns in gold and diamonds, which the
marchioness meant me to have."
"That may be, but it is not for you to know anything about it. I may
tell you that it rests entirely with me to prevent your getting
anything. If you think you can succeed go to the marchioness and
make your complaints to her. I will do nothing to prevent you."
"Then you think I am going to help you in your imposture for nothing;
you are very much mistaken. I want a thousand louis, and I will have
"Then get somebody to give it you," said I; and I turned my back on
I went up to the marchioness and told her that dinner was ready, and
that we should dine alone, as I had been obliged to send the abbe
"He was an idiot; but how about Querilinthos?"
"After dinner Paralis will tell us all about him. I have strong
suspicions that there is something to be cleared up."
"So have I. The man seems changed. Where is he?"
"He is in bed, ill of a disease which I dare not so much as name to
"That is a very extraordinary circumstance; I have never heard of
such a thing before. It must be the work of an evil genius."
"I have never heard of such a thing, either; but now let us dine. We
shall have to work hard to-day at the consecration of the tin."
"All the better. We must offer an expiatory sacrifice to Oromasis,
for, awful thought! in three days he would have to regenerate me, and
the operation would be performed in that condition."
"Let us eat now," I repeated; "I fear lest the hour of Jupiter be
"Fear nothing, I will see that all goes well."
After the consecration of the tin had been performed, I transferred
that of Oromasis to another day, while I consulted the oracle
assiduously, the marchioness translating the figures into letters.
The oracle declared that seven salamanders had transported the true
Querilinthos to the Milky Way, and that the man in the next room was
the evil genius, St. Germain, who had been put in that fearful
condition by a female gnome, who had intended to make him the
executioner of Semiramis, who was to die of the dreadful malady
before her term had expired. The oracle also said that Semiramis
should leave to Payaliseus Galtinardus (myself) all the charge of
getting rid of the evil genius, St. Germain; and that she was not to
doubt concerning her regeneration, since the word would be sent me by
the true Querilinthos from the Milky Way on the seventh night of my
worship of the moon. Finally the oracle declared that I was to
embrace Semiramis two days before the end of the ceremonies, after an
Undine had purified us by bathing us in the room where we were.
I had thus undertaken to regenerate the worthy Semiramis, and I began
to think how I could carry out my undertaking without putting myself
to shame. The marchioness was handsome but old, and I feared lest I
should be unable to perform the great act. I was thirty-eight, and I
began to feel age stealing on me. The Undine, whom I was to obtain
of the moon, was none other than Marcoline, who was to give me the
necessary generative vigour by the sight of her beauty and by the
contact of her hands. The reader will see how I made her come down
I received a note from Madame Audibert which made me call on her
before paying my visit to Marcoline. As soon as I came in she told
me joyously that my niece's father had just received a letter from
the father of the Genoese, asking the hand of his daughter for his
only son, who had been introduced to her by the Chevalier de
Seingalt, her uncle, at the Paretti's.
"The worthy man thinks himself under great obligations to you," said
Madame Audibert. "He adores his daughter, and he knows you have
cared for her like a father. His daughter has drawn your portrait in
very favourable colors, and he would be extremely pleased to make
your acquaintance. Tell me when you can sup with me; the father will
be here to meet you, though unaccompanied by his daughter."
"I am delighted at what you tell me, for the young man's esteem for
his future wife will only be augmented when he finds that I am her
father's friend. I cannot come to supper, however; I will be here at
six and stop till eight."
As the lady left the choice of the day with me I fixed the day after
next, and then I repaired to my fair Venetian, to whom I told my
news, and how I had managed to get rid of the abbe.
On the day after next, just as we were sitting down to dinner, the
marchioness smilingly gave me a letter which Possano had written her
in bad but perfectly intelligible French. He had filled eight pages
in his endeavour to convince her that I was deceiving her, and to
make sure he told the whole story without concealing any circumstance
to my disadvantage. He added that I had brought two girls with me to
Marseilles; and though he did not know where I had hidden them, he
was sure that it was with them that I spent my nights.
After I had read the whole letter through, with the utmost coolness I
gave it back to her, asking her if she had had the patience to read
it through. She replied that she had run through it, but that she
could not make it out at all, as the evil genius seemed to write a
sort of outlandish dialect, which she did not care to puzzle herself
over, as he could only have written down lies calculated to lead her
astray at the most important moment of her life. I was much pleased
with the marchioness's prudence, for it was important that she should
have no suspicions about the Undine, the sight and the touch of whom
were necessary to me in the great work I was about to undertake.
After dining, and discharging all the ceremonies and oracles which
were necessary to calm the soul of my poor victim, I went to a banker
and got a bill of a hundred louis on Lyons, to the order of M. Bono,
and I advised him of what I had done, requesting him to cash it for
Possano if it were presented on the day named thereon.
I then wrote the advice for Possano to take with him, it ran as
follows: "M. Bonno, pay to M. Possano, on sight, to himself, and not
to order, the sum of one hundred louis, if these presents are
delivered to you on the 30th day of April, in the year 1763; and
after the day aforesaid my order to become null and void."
With this letter in my hand I went to the traitor who had been lanced
an hour before.
"You're an infamous traitor," I began, "but as Madame d'Urfe knows of
the disgraceful state you are in she would not so much as read your
letter. I have read it, and by way of reward I give you two
alternatives which you must decide on immediately. I am in a hurry.
You will either go to the hospital--for we can't have pestiferous
fellows like you here--or start for Lyons in an hour. You must not
stop on the way, for I have only given you sixty hours, which is
ample to do forty posts in. As soon as you get to Lyons present this
to M. Bono, and he will give you a hundred louis. This is a present
from me, and afterwards I don't care what you do, as you are no
longer in my service. You can have the carriage I bought for you at
Antibes, and there is twenty-five louis for the journey: that is all.
Make your choice, but I warn you that if you go to the hospital I
shall only give you a month's wages, as I dismiss you from my service
now at this instant."
After a moment's reflection he said he would go to Lyons, though it
would be at the risk of his life, for he was very ill.
"You must reap the reward of your treachery," said I, "and if you die
it will be a good thing for your family, who will come in for what I
have given you, but not what I should have given you if you had been
a faithful servant."
I then left him and told Clairmont to pack up his trunk. I warned
the inn-keeper of his departure and told him to get the post horses
ready as soon as possible.
I then gave Clairmont the letter to Bono and twenty-five Louis, for
him to hand them over to Possano when he was in the carriage and
ready to go off.
When I had thus successfully accomplished my designs by means of the
all-powerful lever, gold, which I knew how to lavish in time of need,
I was once more free for my amours. I wanted to instruct the fair
Marcoline, with whom I grew more in love every day. She kept telling
me that her happiness would be complete if she knew French, and if
she had the slightest hope that I would take her to England with me.
I had never flattered her that my love would go as far as that, but
yet I could not help feeling sad at the thought of parting from a
being who seemed made to taste voluptuous pleasures, and to
communicate them with tenfold intensity to the man of her choice.
She was delighted to hear that I had got rid of my two odious
companions, and begged me to take her to the theatre, "for," said
she, "everybody is asking who and what I am, and my landlord's niece
is quite angry with me because I will not let her tell the truth"
I promised I would take her out in the course of the next week, but
that for the present I had a most important affair on hand, in which
I had need of her assistance.
"I will do whatever you wish, dearest."
"Very good! then listen to me. I will get you a disguise which will
make you look like a smart footman, and in that costume you will call
on the marchioness with whom I live, at the hour I shall name to you,
and you will give her a note. Have you sufficient courage for that?"
"Certainly. Will you be there?"
"Yes. She will speak, but you must pretend to be dumb, as the note
you bring with you will tell us; as also that you have come to wait
upon us while we are bathing. She will accept the offer, and when
she tells you to undress her from head to foot you will do so. When
you have done, undress yourself, and gently rub the marchioness from
the feet to the waist, but not higher. In the meanwhile I shall have
taken off my clothes, and while I hold her in a close embrace you
must stand so that I can see all your charms.
"Further, sweetheart, when I leave you you must gently wash her
generative organs, and afterwards wipe them with a fine towel. Then
do the same to me, and try to bring me to life again. I shall
proceed to embrace the marchioness a second time, and when it is over
wash her again and embrace her, and then come and embrace me and kiss
in your Venetian manner the instrument with which the sacrifice is
consummated. I shall then clasp the marchioness to my arms a third
time, and you must caress us till the act is complete. Finally, you
will wash us for the third time, then dress, take what she gives you
and come here, where I will meet you in the course of an hour."
"You may reckon on my following all your instructions, but you must
see that the task will be rather trying to my feelings."
"Not more trying than to mine. I could do nothing with the old woman
if you were not present."
"Is she very old?"
"My poor sweetheart! I do pity you. But after this painful duty is
over you must sup here and sleep with me."
On the day appointed I had a long and friendly interview with the
father of my late niece. I told him all about his daughter, only
suppressing the history of our own amours, which were not suitable
for a father's ears. The worthy man embraced me again and again,
calling me his benefactor, and saying that I had done more for his
daughter than he would have done himself, which in a sense was
perhaps true. He told me that he had received another letter from
the father, and a letter from the young man himself, who wrote in the
most tender and respectful manner possible.
"He doesn't ask anything about the dower," said he, "a wonderful
thing these days, but I will give her a hundred and fifty thousand
francs, for the marriage is an excellent one, above all after my poor
simpleton's escape. All Marseilles knows the father of her future
husband, and to-morrow I mean to tell the whole story to my wife, and
I am sure she will forgive the poor girl as I have done."
I had to promise to be present at the wedding, which was to be at
Madame Audibert's. That lady knowing me to be very fond of play, and
there being a good deal of play going on at her house, wondered why
she did not see more of me; but I was at Marseilles to create and not
to destroy: there is a time for everything.
I had a green velvet jacket made for Marcoline, with breeches of the
same and silver-lace garters, green silk stockings, and fine leather
shoes of the same colour. Her fine black hair was confined in a net
of green silk, with a silver brooch. In this dress the voluptuous
and well-rounded form of Marcoline was displayed to so much
advantage, that if she had shewn herself in the street all Marseilles
would have run after her, for, in spite of her man's dress, anybody
could see that she was a girl. I took her to my rooms in her
ordinary costume, to shew her where she would have to hide after the
operation was over.
By Saturday we had finished all the consecrations, and the oracle
fixed the regeneration of Semiramis for the following Tuesday, in the
hours of the sun, Venus, and Mercury, which follow each other in the
planetary system of the magicians, as also in Ptolemy's. These hours
were in ordinary parlance the ninth, tenth, and eleventh of the day,
since the day being a Tuesday, the first hour was sacred to Mars.
And as at the beginning of May the hours are sixty-five minutes long,
the reader, however little of a magician he may be, will understand
that I had to perform the great work on Madame d'Urfe, beginning at
half-past two and ending at five minutes to six. I had taken plenty
of time, as I expected I should have great need of it.
On the Monday night, at the hour of the moon, I had taken Madame
d'Urfe to the sea-shore, Clairmont following behind with the box
containing the offerings, which weighed fifty pounds.
I was certain that nobody could see us, and I told my companion that
the time was come. I told Clairmont to put down the box beside us,
and to go and await us at the carriage. When we were alone we
addressed a solemn prayer to Selenis, and then to the great
satisfaction of the marchioness the box was consigned to the address.
My satisfaction however was still greater than hers, for the box
contained fifty pounds of lead. The real box, containing the
treasure, was comfortably hidden in my room.
When we got back to the "Treize Cantons," I left Madame d'Urfe alone,
telling her that I would return to the hotel when I had performed my
conjurations to the moon, at the same hour and in the same place in
which I had performed the seven consecrations.
I spoke the truth. I went to Marcoline, and while she was putting on
her disguise I wrote on a sheet of white paper, in large and odd-
looking letters, the following sentences, using, instead of ink,
"I am dumb but not deaf. I am come from the Rhone to bathe you. The
hour of Oromasis has begun."
"This is the note you are to give to the marchioness," I said, "when
you appear before her."
After supper we walked to the hotel and got in without anyone seeing
us. I hid Marcoline in a large cupboard, and then putting on my
dressing-gown I went to the marchioness to inform her that Selenis
had fixed the next day for the hour of regeneration, and that we must
be careful to finish before the hour of the moon began, as otherwise
the operation would be annulled or at least greatly enfeebled.
"You must take care," I added, "that the bath be here beside your
bed, and that Brougnole does not interrupt us."
"I will tell her to go out. But Selenis promised to send an Undine."
"True, but I have not yet seen such a being."
"Ask the oracle."
She herself asked the question imploring Paralis not to delay the
time of her regeneration, even though the Undine were lacking, since
she could very well bathe herself.
"The commands of Oromasis change not," came the reply; "and in that
you have doubted them you have sinned."
At this the marchioness arose and performed an expiatory sacrifice,
and it appeared, on consulting the oracle, that Oromasis was
The old lady did not move my pity so much as my laughter. She
solemnly embraced me and said,--
"To-morrow, Galtinardus, you will be my spouse and my father."
When I got back to my room and had shut the door, I drew the Undine
out of her place of concealment. She undressed, and as she knew that
I should be obliged to husband my forces, she turned her back on me,
and we passed the night without giving each other a single kiss, for
a spark would have set us all ablaze.
Next morning, before summoning Clairmont, I gave her her breakfast,
and then replaced her in the cupboard. Later on, I gave her her
instructions over again, telling her to do everything with calm
precision, a cheerful face, and, above all, silence.
"Don't be afraid," said she, "I will make no mistakes."
As we were to dine at noon exactly, I went to look for the
marchioness, but she was not in her room, though the bath was there,
and the bed which was to be our altar was prepared.
A few moments after, the marchioness came out of her dressing-room,
exquisitely painted, her hair arranged with the choicest lace, and
looking radiant. Her breasts, which forty years before had been the
fairest in all France, were covered with a lace shawl, her dress was
of the antique kind, but of extremely rich material, her ear-rings
were emeralds, and a necklace of seven aquamarines of the finest
water, from which hung an enormous emerald, surrounded by twenty
brilliants, each weighing a carat and a half, completed her costume.
She wore on her finger the carbuncle which she thought worth a
million francs, but which was really only a splendid imitation.
Seeing Semiramis thus decked out for the sacrifice, I thought it my
bounden duty to offer her my homage. I would have knelt before her
and kissed her hand, but she would not let me, and instead opened her
arms and strained me to her breast.
After telling Brougnole that she could go out till six o'clock, we
talked over our mysteries till the dinner was brought in.
Clairmont was the only person privileged to see us at dinner, at
which Semiramis would only eat fish. At half-past one I told
Clairmont I was not at home to anyone, and giving him a louis I told
him to go and amuse himself till the evening.
The marchioness began to be uneasy, and I pretended to be so, too. I
looked at my watch, calculated how the planetary hours were
proceeding, and said from time to time,--
"We are still in the hour of Mars, that of the sun has not yet
At last the time-piece struck half-past two, and in two minutes
afterwards the fair and smiling Undine was seen advancing into the
room. She came along with measured steps, and knelt before Madame
d'Urfe, and gave her the paper she carried. Seeing that I did not
rise, the marchioness remained seated, but she raised the spirit with
a gracious air and took the paper from her. She was surprised,
however, to find that it was all white.
I hastened to give her a pen to consult the oracle on the subject,
and after I had made a pyramid of her question, she interpreted it
and found the answer:
"That which is written in water must be read in water."
"I understand now," said she, and going to the bath she plunged the
paper into it, and then read in still whiter letters: "I am dumb, but
not deaf. I am come from the Rhone to bathe you. The hour of
Oromasis has begun."
"Then bathe me, divine being," said Semiramis, putting down the paper
and sitting on the bed.
With perfect exactitude Marcoline undressed the marchioness, and
delicately placed her feet in the water, and then, in a twinkling she
had undressed herself, and was in the bath, beside Madame d'Urfe.
What a contrast there was between the two bodies; but the sight of
the one kindled the flame which the other was to quench.
As I gazed on the beautiful girl, I, too, undressed, and when I was
ready to take off my shirt I spoke as follows: "O divine being, wipe
the feet of Semiramis, and be the witness of my union with her, to
the glory of the immortal Horomadis, King of the Salamanders."
Scarcely had I uttered my prayer when it was granted, and I
consummated my first union with Semiramis, gazing on the charms of
Marcoline, which I had never seen to such advantage before.
Semiramis had been handsome, but she was then what I am now, and
without the Undine the operation would have failed. Nevertheless,
Semiramis was affectionate, clean, and sweet in every respect, and
had nothing disgusting about her, so I succeeded.
When the milk had been poured forth upon the altar, I said,--
"We must now await the hour of Venus."
The Undine performed the ablutions, embraced the bride, and came to
perform the same office for me.
Semiramis was in an ecstasy of happiness, and as she pointed out to
me the beauties of the Undine I was obliged to confess that I had
never seen any mortal woman to be compared to her in beauty.
Semiramis grew excited by so voluptuous a sight, and when the hour of
Venus began I proceeded to the second assault, which would be the
severest, as the hour was of sixty-five minutes. I worked for half
an hour, steaming with perspiration, and tiring Semiramis, without
being able to come to the point. Still I was ashamed to trick her.
She, the victim, wiped the drops of sweat from my forehead, while the
Undine, seeing my exhaustion, kindled anew the flame which the
contact of that aged body had destroyed. Towards the end of the
hour, as I was exhausted and still unsuccessful, I was obliged to
deceive her by making use of those movements which are incidental to
success. As I went out of the battle with all the signs of my
strength still about me, Semiramis could have no doubts as to the
reality of my success, and even the Undine was deceived when she came
to wash me. But the third hour had come, and we were obliged to
satisfy Mercury. We spent a quarter of the time in the bath, while
the Undine delighted Semiramis by caresses which would have delighted
the regent of France, if he had ever known of them. The good
marchioness, believing these endearments to be peculiar to river
spirits, was pleased with everything, and begged the Undine to shew
me the same kindness. Marcoline obeyed, and lavished on me all the
resources of the Venetian school of love. She was a perfect Lesbian,
and her caresses having soon restored me to all my vigour I was
encouraged to undertake to satisfy Mercury. I proceeded to the work,
but alas! it was all in vain. I saw how my fruitless efforts vexed
the Undine, and perceiving that Madame d'Urfe had had enough, I again
took the course of deceiving her by pretended ecstacies and
movements, followed by complete rest. Semiramis afterwards told me
that my exertions shewed that I was something more than mortal.
I threw myself into the bath, and underwent my third ablution, then I
dressed. Marcoline washed the marchioness and proceeded to clothe
her, and did so with such a graceful charm that Madame d'Urfe
followed the inspiration of her good genius, and threw her
magnificent necklace over the Undine's neck. After a parting
Venetian kiss she vanished, and went to her hiding place in the
Semiramis asked the oracle if the operation had been successful. The
answer was that she bore within her the seed of the sun, and that in
the beginning of next February she would be brought to bed of another
self of the same sex as the creator; but in order that the evil genii
might not be able to do her any harm she must keep quiet in her bed
for a hundred and seven hours in succession.
The worthy marchioness was delighted to receive this order, and
looked upon it as a good omen, for I had tired her dreadfully. I
kissed her, saying that I was going to the country to collect
together what remained of the substances that I had used in my
ceremonies, but I promised to dine with her on the morrow.
I shut myself up in my room with the Undine, and we amused ourselves
as best we could till it was night, for she could not go out while it
was light in her spiritual costume. I took off my handsome wedding
garment, and as soon as it was dusk we crept out, and went away to
Marcoline's lodging in a hackney coach, carrying with us the
planetary offerings which I had gained so cleverly.
We were dying of hunger, but the delicious supper which was waiting
for us brought us to life again. As soon as we got into the room
Marcoline took off her green clothes and put on her woman's dress,
"I was not born to wear the breeches. Here, take the beautiful
necklace the madwoman gave me!"
"I will sell it, fair Undine, and you shall have the proceeds."
"Is it worth much?"
"At least a thousand sequins. By the time you get back to Venice you
will be worth at least five thousand ducats, and you will be able to
get a husband and live with him in a comfortable style."
"Keep it all, I don't want it; I want you. I will never cease to
love you; I will do whatever you tell me, and I promise never to be
jealous. I will care for you--yes, as if you were my son."
"Do not let us say anything more about it, fair Marcoline, but let us
go to bed, for you have never inspired me with so much ardour as
"But you must be tired."
"Yes, but not exhaustion, for I was only able to perform the
"I thought you sacrificed twice on that old altar. Poor old woman!
she is still pretty, and I have no doubt that fifty years ago she was
one of the first beauties in France. How foolish of her to be
thinking of love at that age."
"You excited me, but she undid your work even more quickly."
"Are you always obliged to have--a girl beside you when you make love
"No; before, there was no question of making a son."
"What? you are going to make her pregnant? That's ridiculous! Does
she imagine that she has conceived?"
"Certainly; and the hope makes her happy."
"What a mad idea! But why did you try to do it three times?"
"I thought to shew my strength, and that if I gazed on you I should
not fail; but I was quite mistaken."
"I pity you for having suffered so much."
"You will renew my strength."
As a matter of fact, I do not know whether to attribute it to the
difference between the old and the young, but I spent a most
delicious night with the beautiful Venetian--a night which I can only
compare to those I passed at Parma with Henriette, and at Muran with
the beautiful nun. I spent fourteen hours in bed, of which four at
least were devoted to expiating the insult I had offered to love.
When I had dressed and taken my chocolate I told Marcoline to dress
herself with elegance, and to expect me in the evening just before
the play began. I could see that she was intensely delighted with
I found Madame d'Urfe in bed, dressed with care and in the fashion of
a young bride, and with a smile of satisfaction on her face which I
had never remarked there before.
"To thee, beloved Galtinardus, I owe all my happiness," said she, as
she embraced me.
"I am happy to have contributed to it, divine Semiramis, but you must
remember I am only the agent of the genii."
Thereupon the marchioness began to argue in the most sensible manner,
but unfortunately the foundation of her argument was wholly
"Marry me," said she; "you will then be able to be governor of the
child, who will be your son. In this manner you will keep all my
property for me, including what I shall have from my brother M. de
Pontcarre, who is old and cannot live much longer. If you do not
care for me in February next, when I shall be born again, into what
hands shall I fall! I shall be called a bastard, and my income of
twenty-four thousand francs will be lost to me. Think over it, dear
Galtinardus. I must tell you that I feel already as if I were a man.
I confess I am in love with the Undine, and I should like to know
whether I shall be able to sleep with her in fourteen or fifteen
years time. I shall be so if Oromasis will it, and then I shall be
happy indeed. What a charming creature she is? Have you ever seen a
woman like her? What a pity she is dumb!"
"She, no doubt, has a male water-spirit for a lover. But all of them
are dumb, since it is impossible to speak in the water. I wonder she
is not deaf as well. I can't think why you didn't touch her. The
softness of her skin is something wonderful--velvet and satin are not
to be compared to it! And then her breath is so sweet! How
delighted I should be if I could converse with such an exquisite
"Dear Galtinardus, I beg you will consult the oracle to find out
where I am to be brought to bed, and if you won't marry me I think I
had better save all I have that I may have some provision when I am
born again, for when I am born I shall know nothing, and money will
be wanted to educate me. By selling the whole a large sum might be
realized which could be put out at interest. Thus the interest would
suffice without the capital being touched."
"The oracle must be our guide," said I. "You will be my son, and I
will never allow anyone to call you a bastard."
The sublime madwoman was quiet by this assurance.
Doubtless many a reader will say that if I had been an honest man I
should have undeceived her, but I cannot agree with them; it would
have been impossible, and I confess that even if it had been possible
I would not have done so, for it would only have made me unhappy.
I had told Marcoline to dress with elegance, and I put on one of my
handsomest suits to accompany her to the theatre. Chance brought the
two sisters Rangoni, daughters of the Roman consul, into our box. As
I had made their acquaintance on my first visit to Marseilles, I
introduced Marcoline to them as my niece, who only spoke Italian. As
the two young ladies spoke the tongue of Tasso also, Marcoline was
highly delighted. The younger sister, who was by far the handsomer
of the two, afterwards became the wife of Prince Gonzaga Solferino.
The prince was a cultured man, and even a genius, but very poor. For
all that he was a true son of Gonzaga, being a son of Leopold, who
was also poor, and a girl of the Medini family, sister to the Medini
who died in prison at London in the year 1787.
Babet Rangoni, though poor, deserved to become s princess, for she
had all the airs and manners of one. She shines under her name of
Rangoni amongst the princess and princesses of the almanacs. Her
vain husband is delighted at his wife being thought to belong to the
illustrious family of Medini--an innocent feeling, which does neither
good nor harm. The same publications turn Medini into Medici, which
is equally harmless. This species of lie arises from the idiotic
pride of the nobles who think themselves raised above the rest of
humanity by their titles which they have often acquired by some act
of baseness. It is of no use interfering with them on this point,
since all things are finally appreciated at their true value, and the
pride of the nobility is easily discounted when one sees them as they
Prince Gonzaga Solferino, whom I saw at Venice eighteen years ago,
lived on a pension allowed him by the empress. I hope the late
emperor did not deprive him of it, as it was well deserved by this
genius and his knowledge of literature.
At the play Marcoline did nothing but chatter with Babet Rangoni, who
wanted me to bring the fair Venetian to see her, but I had my own
reasons for not doing so.
I was thinking how I could send Madame d'Urfe to Lyons, for I had no
further use for her at Marseilles, and she was often embarrassing.
For instance, on the third day after her regeneration, she requested
me to ask Paralis where she was to die--that is, to be brought to
bed. I made the oracle reply that she must sacrifice to the water-
spirits on the banks of two rivers, at the same hour, and that
afterwards the question of her lying-in would be resolved. The
oracle added that I must perform three expiatory sacrifices to
Saturn, on account of my too harsh treatment of the false
Querilinthos, and that Semiramis need not take part in these
ceremonies, though she herself must perform the sacrifices to the
As I was pretending to think of a place where two rivers were
sufficiently near to each other to fulfil the requirements of the
oracle, Semiramis herself suggested that Lyons was watered by the
Rhone and the Saone, and that it would be an excellent place for the
ceremony. As may be imagined, I immediately agreed with her. On
asking Paralis if there were any preparations to be made, he replied
that it Would be necessary to pour a bottle of sea-water into each
river a fortnight before the sacrifice, and that this ceremony was to
be performed by Semiramis in person, at the first diurnal hour of the
"Then," said the marchioness, "the bottles must be filled here, for
the other French ports are farther off. I will go as soon as ever I
can leave my bed, and will wait for you at Lyons; for as you have to
perform expiatory sacrifices to Saturn in this place, you cannot come
I assented, pretending sorrow at not being able to accompany her.
The next morning I brought her two well-sealed bottles of sea-water,
telling her that she was to pour them out into the two rivers on the
15th of May (the current month). We fixed her departure for the
11th, and I promised to rejoin her before the expiration of the
fortnight. I gave her the hours of the moon in writing, and also
directions for the journey.
As soon as the marchioness had gone I left the "Treize Cantons" and
went to live with Marcoline, giving her four hundred and sixty louis,
which, with the hundred and forty she had won at biribi, gave her a
total of six hundred louis, or fourteen thousand four hundred francs.
With this sum she could look the future in the face fearlessly.
The day after Madame d'Urfe's departure, the betrothed of Mdlle.
Crosin arrived at Marseilles with a letter from Rosalie, which he
handed to me on the day of his arrival. She begged me in the name of
our common honour to introduce the bearer in person to the father of
the betrothed. Rosalie was right, but as the lady was not my real
niece there were some difficulties in the way. I welcomed the young
man and told him that I would first take him to Madame Audibert, and
that we could then go together to his father-in-law in prospective.
The young Genoese had gone to the "Treize Cantons," where he thought
I was staying. He was delighted to find himself so near the goal of
his desires, and his ecstacy received a new momentum when he saw how
cordially Madame Audibert received him. We all got into my carriage
and drove to the father's who gave him an excellent reception, and
then presented him to his wife, who was already friendly disposed
I was pleasantly surprised when this good and sensible man introduced
me to his wife as his cousin, the Chevalier de Seingalt, who had
taken such care of their daughter. The good wife and good mother,
her husband's worthy partner, stretched out her hand to me, and all
my trouble was over.
My new cousin immediately sent an express messenger to his sister,
telling her that he and his wife, his future son-in-law, Madame
Audibert, and a cousin she had not met before, would come and dine
with her on the following day. This done he invited us, and Madame
Audibert said that she would escort us. She told him that I had
another niece with me, of whom his daughter was very fond, and would
be delighted to see again. The worthy man was overjoyed to be able
to increase his daughter's happiness.
I, too, was pleased with Madame Audibert's tact and thoughtfulness;
and as making Marcoline happy was to make me happy also, I expressed
my gratitude to her in very warm terms.
I took the young Genoese to the play, to Marcoline's delight, for she
would have liked the French very much if she could have understood
them. We had an excellent supper together, in the course of which I
told Marcoline of the pleasure which awaited her on the morrow. I
thought she would have gone wild with joy.
The next day we were at Madame Audibert's as punctually as Achilles
on the field of battle. The lady spoke Italian well, and was charmed
with Marcoline, reproaching me for not having introduced her before.
At eleven we got to St. Louis, and my eyes were charmed with the
dramatic situation. My late niece had an air of dignity which became
her to admiration, and received her future husband with great
graciousness; and then, after thanking me with a pleasant smile for
introducing him to her father, she passed from dignity to gaiety, and
gave her sweetheart a hundred kisses.
The dinner was delicious, and passed off merrily; but I alone
preserved a tender melancholy, though I laughed to myself when they
asked me why I was sad. I was thought to be sad because I did not
talk in my usual vivacious manner, but far from being really sad that
was one of the happiest moments of my life. My whole being was
absorbed in the calm delight which follows a good action. I was the
author of the comedy which promised such a happy ending. I was
pleased with the thought that my influence in the world was more for
good than for ill, and though I was not born a king yet I contrived
to make many people happy. Everyone at table was indebted to me for
some part of their happiness, and the father, the mother, and the
betrothed pair wholly so. This thought made me feel a peaceful calm
which I could only enjoy in silence.
Mdlle. Crosin returned to Marseilles with her father, her mother,
and her future husband, whom the father wished to take up his abode
with them. I went back with Madame Audibert, who made me promise to
bring the delightful Marcoline to sup with her.
The marriage depended on the receipt of a letter from the young man's
father, in answer to one from my niece's father. It will be taken
for granted that we were all asked to the wedding, and Marcoline's
affection for me increased every day.
When we went to sup with Madame Audibert we found a rich and witty
young wine merchant at her house. He sat beside Marcoline, who
entertained him with her sallies; and as the young man could speak
Italian, and even the Venetian dialect (for he had spent a year at
Venice), he was much impressed by the charms of my new niece.
I have always been jealous of my mistresses; but when a rival
promises to marry them and give them a good establishment, jealousy
gives way to a more generous feeling. For the moment I satisfied
myself by asking Madame Audibert who he was, and I was delighted to
hear that he had an excellent reputation, a hundred thousand crowns,
a large business, and complete independence.
The next day he came to see us in our box at the theatre, and
Marcoline received him very graciously. Wishing to push the matter
on I asked him to sup with us, and when he came I was well pleased
with his manners and his intelligence; to Marcoline he was tender but
respectful. On his departure I told him I hoped he would come and
see us again, and when we were alone I congratulated Marcoline on her
conquest, and shewed her that she might succeed almost as well as
Mdlle. Crosin. But instead of being grateful she was furiously,
"If you want to get rid of me," said she, "send me back to Venice,
but don't talk to me about marrying."
"Calm yourself, my angel! I get rid of you? What an idea! Has my
behaviour led you to suppose that you are in my way? This handsome,
well-educated, and rich young man has come under my notice. I see he
loves you and you like him, and as I love you and wish to see you
sheltered from the storms of fortune, and as I think this pleasant
young Frenchman would make you happy, I have pointed out to you these
advantages, but instead of being grateful you scold me. Do not weep,
sweetheart, you grieve my very soul!"
"I am weeping because you think that I can love him."
"It might be so, dearest, and without my honour taking any hurt; but
let us say no more about it and get into bed."
Marcoline's tears changed to smiles and kisses, and we said no more
about the young wine merchant. The next day he came to our box
again, but the scene had changed; she was polite but reserved, and I
dared not ask him to supper as I had done the night before. When we
had got home Marcoline thanked me for not doing so, adding that she
had been afraid I would.
"What you said last night is a sufficient guide for me for the
In the morning Madame Audibert called on behalf of the wine merchant
to ask us to sup with him. I turned towards the fair Venetian, and
guessing my thoughts she hastened to reply that she would be happy to
go anywhere in company with Madame Audibert. That lady came for us
in the evening, and took us to the young man's house, where we found
a magnificent supper, but no other guests awaiting us. The house was
luxuriously furnished, it only lacked a mistress. The master divided
his attention between the two ladies, and Marcoline looked ravishing.
Everything convinced me that she had kindled the ardour of the worthy
young wine merchant.
The next day I received a note from Madame Audibert, asking me to
call on her. When I went I found she wanted to give my consent to
the marriage of Marcoline with her friend.
"The proposal is a very agreeable one to me," I answered, "and I
would willingly give her thirty thousand francs as a dowry, but I can
have nothing to do with the matter personally. I will send her to
you; and if you can win her over you may count on my word, but do not
say that you are speaking on my behalf, for that might spoil
"I will come for her, and if you like she shall dine with me, and you
can take her to the play in the evening."
Madame Audibert came the following day, and Marcoline went to dinner
with her. I called for her at five o'clock, and finding her looking
pleased and happy I did not know what to think. As Madame Audibert
did not take me aside I stifled my curiosity and went with Marcoline
to the theatre, without knowing what had passed.
On the way Marcoline sang the praises of Madame Audibert, but did not
say a word of the proposal she must have made to her. About the
middle of the piece, however, I thought I saw the explanation of the
riddle, for the young man was in the pit, and did not come to our box
though there were two empty places.
We returned home without a word about the merchant or Madame
Audibert, but as I knew in my own mind what had happened, I felt
disposed to be grateful, and I saw that Marcoline was overjoyed to
find me more affectionate than ever. At last, amidst our amorous
assaults, Marcoline, feeling how dearly I loved her, told me what had
passed between her and Madame Audibert.
"She spoke to me so kindly and so sensibly," said she, "but I
contented myself with saying that I would never marry till you told
me to do so. All the same I thank you with all my heart for the ten
thousand crowns you are willing to give me. You have tossed the ball
to me and I have sent it back. I will go back to Venice whenever you
please if you will not take me to England with you, but I will never
marry. I expect we shall see no more of the young gentleman, though
if I had never met you I might have loved him."
It was evidently all over, and I liked her for the part she had
taken, for a man who knows his own worth is not likely to sigh long
at the feet of an obdurate lady.
The wedding-day of my late niece came round. Marcoline was there,
without diamonds, but clad in a rich dress which set off her beauty
and satisfied my vanity.
I Leave Marseilles--Henriette at Aix--Irene at Avignon--Treachery of
Possano--Madame d'Urfe Leaves Lyon
The wedding only interested me because of the bride. The plentiful
rather than choice repast, the numerous and noisy company, the empty
compliments, the silly conversation, the roars of laughter at very
poor jokes--all this would have driven me to despair if it had not
been for Madame Audibert, whom I did not leave for a moment.
Marcoline followed the young bride about like a shadow, and the
latter, who was going to Genoa in a week, wanted Marcoline to come in
her tram, promising to have her taken to Venice by a person of trust,
but my sweetheart would listen to no proposal for separating her from
"I won't go. to Venice," she said, "till you send me there."
The splendours of her friend's marriage did not make her experience
the least regret at having refused the young wine merchant. The
bride beamed with happiness, and on my congratulating her she
confessed her joy to be great, adding that it was increased by the
fact that she owed it all to me. She was also very glad to be going
to Genoa, where she was sure of finding a true friend in Rosalie, who
would sympathize with her, their fortunes having been very similar.
The day after the wedding I began to make preparations for my
departure. The first thing I disposed of was the box containing the
planetary offerings. I kept the diamonds and precious stones, and
took all the gold and silver to Rousse de Cosse, who still held the
sum which Greppi had placed to my credit. I took a bill of exchange
on Tourton and Bauer, for I should not be wanting any money at Lyons
as Madame d'Urfe was there, and consequently the three hundred louis
I had about me would be ample. I acted differently where Marcoline
was concerned. I added a sufficient sum to her six hundred louis to
give her a capital in round numbers of fifteen thousand francs. I
got a bill drawn on Lyons for that amount, for I intended at the
first opportunity to send her back to Venice, and with that idea had
her trunks packed separately with all the linen and dresses which I
had given her in abundance.
On the eve of our departure we took leave of the newly-married couple
and the whole family at supper, and we parted with tears, promising
each other a lifelong friendship.
The next day we set out intending to travel all night and not to stop
till we got to Avignon, but about five o'clock the chain of the
carriage broke, and we could go no further until a wheelwright had
repaired the damage. We settled ourselves down to wait patiently,
and Clairmont went to get information at a fine house on our right,
which was approached by an alley of trees. As I had only one
postillion, I did not allow him to leave his horses for a moment.
Before long we saw Clairmont reappear with two servants, one of whom
invited me, on behalf of his master, to await the arrival of the
wheelwright at his house. It would have been churlish to refuse this
invitation which was in the true spirit of French politeness, so
leaving Clairmont in charge Marcoline and I began to wend our way
towards the hospitable abode.
Three ladies and two gentleman came to meet us, and one of the
gentlemen said they congratulated themselves on my small mishap,
since it enabled madam to offer me her house and hospitality. I
turned towards the lady whom the gentleman had indicated, and thanked
her, saying, that I hoped not to trouble her long, but that I was
deeply grateful for her kindness. She made me a graceful curtsy, but
I could not make out her features, for a stormy wind was blowing, and
she and her two friends had drawn their hoods almost entirely over
their faces. Marcoline's beautiful head was uncovered and her hair
streaming in the breeze. She only replied by graceful bows and
smiles to the compliments which were addressed to her on all sides.
The gentleman who had first accosted me asked me, as he gave her his
arm, if she were my daughter. Marcoline smiled and I answered that
she was my cousin, and that we were both Venetians.
A Frenchman is so bent on flattering a pretty woman that he will
always do so, even if it be at the expense of a third party. Nobody
could really think that Marcoline was my daughter, for though I was
twenty years older than she was, I looked ten years younger than my
real age, and so Marcoline smiled suggestively.
We were just going into the house when a large mastiff ran towards
us, chasing a pretty spaniel, and the lady, being afraid of getting
bitten, began to run, made a false step, and fell to the ground. We
ran to help her, but she said she had sprained her ankle, and limped
into the house on the arm of one of the gentlemen. Refreshments were
brought in, and I saw that Marcoline looked uneasy in the company of
a lady who was talking to her. I hastened to excuse her, saying that
she did not speak French. As a matter of fact, Marcoline had begun
to talk a sort of French, but the most charming language in the world
will not bear being spoken badly, and I had begged her not to speak
at all till she had learned to express herself properly. It is
better to remain silent than to make strangers laugh by odd
expressions and absurd equivocations.
The less pretty, or rather the uglier, of the two ladies said that it
was astonishing that the education of young ladies was neglected in
such a shocking manner at Venice. "Fancy not teaching them French!"
"It is certainly very wrong, but in my country young ladies are
neither taught foreign languages nor round games. These important
branches of education are attended to afterwards."
"Then you are a Venetian, too?"
"Really, I should not have thought so."
I made a bow in return for this compliment, which in reality was only
an insult; for if flattering to me it was insulting to the rest of my
fellow-countrymen, and Marcoline thought as much for she made a
little grimace accompanied by a knowing smile.
"I see that the young lady understands French," said our flattering
friend, "she laughs exactly in the right place."
"Yes, she understands it, and as for her laughter it was due to the
fact that she knows me to be like all other Venetians."
"Possibly, but it is easy to see that you have lived a long time in
"Yes, madam," said Marcoline; and these words in her pretty Venetian
accent were a pleasure to hear.
The gentleman who had taken the lady to her room said that she found
her foot to be rather swollen, and had gone to bed hoping we would
all come upstairs.
We found her lying in a splendid bed, placed in an alcove which the
thick curtains of red satin made still darker. I could not see
whether she was young or old, pretty or ugly. I said that I was very
sorry to be the indirect cause of her mishap, and she replied in good
Italian that it was a matter of no consequence, and that she did not
think she could pay too dear for the privilege of entertaining such
"Your ladyship must have lived in Venice to speak the language with
so much correctness."
"No, I have never been there, but I have associated a good deal with
A servant came and told me that the wheelwright had arrived, and that
he would take four hours to mend my carriage, so I went downstairs.
The man lived at a quarter of a league's distance, and by tying the
carriage pole with ropes, I could drive to his place, and wait there
for the carriage to be mended. I was about to do so, when the
gentleman who did the honours of the house came and asked me, on
behalf of the lady, to sup and pass the night at her house, as to go
to the wheelwright's would be out of my way; the man would have to
work by night, I should be uncomfortable, and the work would be ill
done. I assented to the countess's proposal, and having agreed with
the man to come early the next day and bring his tools with him, I
told Clairmont to take my belongings into the room which was assigned
When I returned to the countess's room I found everyone laughing at
Marcoline's sallies, which the countess translated. I was not
astonished at seeing the way in which my fair Venetian caressed the
countess, but I was enraged at not being able to see her, for I knew
Marcoline would not treat any woman in that manner unless she were
The table was spread in the bedroom of the countess, whom I hoped to
see at supper-time, but I was disappointed; for she declared that she
could not take anything, and all supper-time she talked to Marcoline
and myself, shewing intelligence, education, and a great knowledge of
Italian. She let fall the expression, "my late husband," so I knew
her for a widow, but as I did not dare to ask any questions, my
knowledge ended at that point. When Clairmont was undressing me he
told me her married name, but as I knew nothing of the family that
was no addition to my information.
When we had finished supper, Marcoline took up her old position by
the countess's bed, and they talked so volubly to one another that
nobody else could get in a word.
When politeness bade me retire, my pretended cousin said she was
going to sleep with the countess. As the latter laughingly assented,
I refrained from telling my madcap that she was too forward, and I
could see by their mutual embraces that they were agreed in the
matter. I satisfied myself with saying that I could not guarantee
the sex of the countess's bed-fellow, but she answered,
"Never mind; if there be a mistake I shall be the gainer."
This struck me as rather free, but I was not the man to be
scandalized. I was amused at the tastes of my fair Venetian, and at
the manner in which she contrived to gratify them as she had done at
Genoa with my last niece. As a rule the Provencal women are inclined
this way, and far from reproaching them I like them all the better
The next day I rose at day-break to hurry on the wheelwright, and
when the work was done I asked if the countess were visible.
Directly after Marcoline came out with one of the gentlemen, who
begged me to excuse the countess, as she could not receive me in her
present extremely scanty attire; "but she hopes that whenever you are
in these parts you will honour her and her house by your company,
whether you are alone or with friends."
This refusal, gilded as it was, was a bitter pill for me to swallow,
but I concealed my disgust, as I could only put it down to
Marcoline's doings; she seemed in high spirits, and I did not like to
mortify her. I thanked the gentleman with effusion, and placing a
Louis in the hands of all the servants who were present I took my
I kissed Marcoline affectionately, so that she should not notice my
ill humour, and asked how she and the countess spent the night."
"Capitally," said she. "The countess is charming, and we amused
ourselves all night with the tricks of two amorous women."
"Is she pretty or old?"
"She is only thirty-three, and, I assure you, she is as pretty as my
friend Mdlle. Crosin. I can speak with authority for we saw each
other in a state of nature."
"You are a singular creature; you were unfaithful to me for a woman,
and left me to pass the night by myself."
"You must forgive me, and I had to sleep with her as she was the
first to declare her love."
"Really? How was that?"
"When I gave her the first of my kisses she returned it in the
Florentine manner, and our tongues met. After supper, I confess, I
was the first to begin the suggestive caresses, but she met me half-
way. I could only make her happy by spending the night with her.
Look, this will shew you how pleased she was."
With these words Marcoline drew a superb ring, set with brilliants,
from her finger. I was astonished.
"Truly," I said, "this woman is fond of pleasure and deserves to have
I gave my Lesbian (who might have vied with Sappho) a hundred.
kisses, and forgave her her infidelity.
"But," I remarked, "I can't think why she did not want me to see her;
I think she has treated me rather cavalierly."
"No, I think the reason was that she was ashamed to be seen by my
lover after having made me unfaithful to him; I had to confess that
we were lovers."
"Maybe. At all events you have been well paid; that ring is worth
two hundred louis:"
"But I may as well tell you that I was well enough paid for the
pleasure I gave by the pleasure I received."
"That's right; I am delighted to see you happy."
"If you want to make me really happy, take me to England with you.
My uncle will be there, and I could go back to Venice with him."
"What! you have an uncle in England? Do you really mean it? It
sounds like a fairy-tale. You never told me of it before."
"I have never said anything about it up to now, because I have always
imagined that this might prevent your accomplishing your desire."
"Is your uncle a Venetian? What is he doing in England? Are you
sure that he will welcome you?"
"What is his name? And how are we to find him in a town of more than
a million inhabitants?"
"He is ready found. His name is Mattio Boisi, and he is valet de
chambre to M. Querini, the Venetian ambassador sent to England to
congratulate the new king; he is accompanied by the Procurator
Morosini. My uncle is my mother's brother; he is very fond of me,
and will forgive my fault, especially when he finds I am rich. When
he went to England he said he would be back in Venice in July, and we
shall just catch him on the point of departure."
As far as the embassy went I knew it was all true, from the letters I
had received from M. de Bragadin, and as for the rest Marcoline
seemed to me to be speaking the truth. I was flattered by her
proposal and agreed to take her to England so that I should possess
her for five or six weeks longer without committing myself to
We reached Avignon at the close of the day, and found ourselves very
hungry. I knew that the "St. Omer" was an excellent inn, and when I
got there I ordered a choice meal and horses for five o'clock the
next morning. Marcoline, who did not like night travelling, was in
high glee, and threw her arms around my neck, saying,--
"Are we at Avignon now?"
"Then I conscientiously discharge the trust which the countess placed
in me when she embraced me for the last time this morning. She made
me swear not to say a word about it till we got to Avignon."
"All this puzzles me, dearest; explain yourself."
"She gave me a letter for you,"
"Will you forgive me for not placing it in your hands sooner?"
"Certainly, if you passed your word to the countess; but where is
"Wait a minute."
She drew a large bundle of papers from her pocket, saying,--
"This is my certificate of baptism."
"I see you were born in 1746."
"This is a certificate of 'good conduct.'"
"Keep it, it may be useful to you."
"This is my certificate of virginity."
"That's no use. Did you get it from a midwife?"
"No, from the Patriarch of Venice."
"Did he test the matter for himself?"
"No, he was too old; he trusted in me."
"Well, well, let me see the letter."
"I hope I haven't lost it."
"I hope not, to God."
"Here is your brother's promise of marriage; he wanted to be a
"You may throw that into the fire."
"What is a Protestant?"
"I will tell you another time. Give me the letter."
"Praised be God, here it is!"
"That's lucky; but it has no address."
My heart beat fast, as I opened it, and found, instead of an address,
these words in Italian:
"To the most honest man of my acquaintance."
Could this be meant for me? I turned down the leaf, and read one
word--Henriette! Nothing else; the rest of the paper was blank.
At the sight of that word I was for a moment annihilated.
"Io non mori, e non rimasi vivo."
Henriette! It was her style, eloquent in its brevity. I recollected
her last letter from Pontarlier, which I had received at Geneva, and
which contained only one word--Farewell!
Henriette, whom I had loved so well, whom I seemed at that moment to
love as well as ever. "Cruel Henriette," said I to myself, "you saw
me and would not let me see you. No doubt you thought your charms
would not have their old power, and feared lest I should discover
that after all you were but mortal. And yet I love you with all the
ardour of my early passion. Why did you not let me learn from your
own mouth that you were happy? That is the only question I should
have asked you, cruel fair one. I should not have enquired whether
you loved me still, for I feel my unworthiness, who have loved other
women after loving the most perfect of her sex. Adorable Henriette,
I will fly to you to-morrow, since you told me that I should be
I turned these thoughts over in my own mind, and fortified myself in
this resolve; but at last I said,--
"No, your behaviour proves that you do not wish to see me now, and
your wishes shall be respected; but I must see you once before I
Marcoline scarcely dared breathe to see me thus motionless and lost
in thought, and I do not know when I should have come to myself if
the landlord had not come in saying that he remembered my tastes, and
had got me a delicious supper. This brought me to my senses, and I
made my fair Venetian happy again by embracing her in a sort of
"Do you know," she said, "you quite frightened me? You were as pale
and still as a dead man, and remained for a quarter of an hour in a
kind of swoon, the like of which I have never seen. What is the
reason? I knew that the countess was acquainted with you, but I
should never have thought that her name by itself could have such an
"Well, it is strange; but how did you find out that the countess knew
"She told me as much twenty times over in the night, but she made me
promise to say nothing about it till I had given you the letter."
"What did she say to you about me?"
"She only repeated in different ways what she has written for an
"What a letter it is! Her name, and nothing more."
"It is very strange."
"Yes, but the name tells all."
"She told me that if I wanted to be happy I should always remain with
you. I said I knew that well; but that you wanted to send me back to
Venice, though you were very fond of me. I can guess now that you
were lovers. How long ago was it?"
"Sixteen or seventeen years."
"She must have been very young, but she cannot have been prettier
than she is now."
"Be quiet, Marcoline."
"Did your union with her last long?"
"We lived together four months in perfect happiness."
"I shall not be happy for so long as that."
"Yes you will, and longer, too; but with another man, and one more
suitable to you in age. I am going to England to try to get my
daughter from her mother."
"Your daughter? The countess asked me if you were married, and I
"You were right; she is my illegitimate daughter. She must be ten
now, and when you see her you will confess that she must belong to
Just as we were sitting down to table we heard someone going
downstairs to the table d'hote in the room where I had made Madame
Stuard's acquaintance, our door was open, and we could see the people
on the stairs; and one of them seeing us gave a cry of joy, and came
running in, exclaiming, "My dear papa! "I turned to the light and
saw Irene, the same whom I had treated so rudely at Genoa after my
discussion with her father about biribi. I embraced her effusively,
and the sly little puss, pretending to be surprised to see Marcoline,
made her a profound bow, which was returned with much grace.
Marcoline listened attentively to our conversation.
"What are you doing here, fair Irene?"
"We have been here for the last fortnight. Good heavens! how lucky
I am to find you again. I am quite weak. Will you allow me to sit
"Yes, yes, my dear," said I, "sit down;" and I gave her a glass of
wine which restored her.
A waiter came up, and said they were waiting for her at supper, but
she said, "I won't take any supper;" and Marcoline, always desirous
of pleasing me, ordered a third place to be laid. I made her happy
by giving an approving nod.
We sat down to table, and ate our meal with great appetite. "When we
have done," I said to Irene, "you must tell us what chance has
brought you to Avignon."
Marcoline, who had not spoken a word hitherto, noticing how hungry
Irene was, said pleasantly that it would have been a mistake if she
had not taken any supper. Irene was delighted to hear Venetian
spoken, and thanked her for her kindness, and in three or four
minutes they had kissed and become friends.
It amused me to see the way in which Marcoline always fell in love
with pretty women, just as if she had been a man.
In the course of conversation I found that Irene's father and mother
were at the table d'hote below, and from sundry exclamations, such as
"you have been brought to Avignon out of God's goodness," I learned
that they were in distress. In spite of that Irene's mirthful
countenance matched Marcoline's sallies, and the latter was delighted
to hear that Irene had only called me papa because her mother had
styled her my daughter at Milan.
We had only got half-way through our supper when Rinaldi and his wife
came in. I asked them to sit down, but if it had not been for Irene
I should have given the old rascal a very warm reception. He began
to chide his daughter for troubling me with her presence when I had
such fair company already, but Marcoline hastened to say that Irene
could only have given me pleasure, for in my capacity of her uncle I
was always glad when she was able to enjoy the society of a sweet
"I hope," she added, "that if she doesn't mind she will sleep with
"Yes, yes," resounded on all sides, and though I should have
preferred to sleep with Marcoline by herself, I laughed and agreed; I
have always been able to accommodate myself to circumstances.
Irene shared Marcoline's desires, for when it was settled that they
should sleep together they seemed wild with joy, and I added fuel to
the fire by plying them with punch and champagne.
Rinaldi and his wife did not leave us till they were quite drunk.
When we had got rid of them, Irene told us how a Frenchman had fallen
in love with her at Genoa, and had persuaded her father to go to Nice
where high play was going on, but meeting with no luck there she had
been obliged to sell what she had to pay the inn-keeper. Her lover
had assured her that he would make it up to her at Aix, where there
was some money owing to him, and she persuaded her father to go
there; but the persons who owed the money having gone to Avignon,
there had to be another sale of goods.
"When we got here the luck was no better, and the poor young man,
whom my father reproached bitterly, would have killed himself if I
had not given him the mantle you gave me that he might pawn it and go
on his quest. He got four louis for it, and sent me the ticket with
a very tender letter, in which he assured me that he would find some
money at Lyons, and that he would then return and take us to
Bordeaux, where we are to find treasures. In the meanwhile we are
penniless, and as we have nothing more to sell the landlord threatens
to turn us out naked."
"And what does your father mean to do?"
"I don't know. He says Providence will take care of us."
"What does your mother say?"
"Oh! she was as quiet as usual."
"How about yourself?"
"Alas! I have to bear a thousand mortifications every day. They are
continually reproaching me with having fallen in love with this
Frenchman, and bringing them to this dreadful pass."
"Were you really in love with him?"
"Then you must be very unhappy."
"Yes, very; but not on account of my love, for I shall get over that
in time, but because of that which will happen to-morrow."
"Can't you make any conquests at the table-d'hote?"
"Some of the men say pretty things to me, but as they all know how
poor we are they are afraid to come to our room."
"And yet in spite of all you keep cheerful; you don't look sad like
most of the unhappy. I congratulate you on your good spirits."
Irene's tale was like the fair Stuard's story over again, and
Marcoline, though she had taken rather too much champagne, was deeply
moved at this picture of misery. She kissed the girl, telling her
that I would not forsake her, and that in the meanwhile they would
spend a pleasant night.
"Come! let us to bed!" said she; and after taking off her clothes she
helped Irene to undress. I had no wish to fight, against two, and
said that I wanted to rest. The fair Venetian burst out laughing and
"Go to bed and leave us alone."
I did so, and amused myself by watching the two Bacchantes; but
Irene, who had evidently never engaged in such a combat before, was
not nearly so adroit as Marcoline.
Before long Marcoline brought Irene in her arms to my bedside, and
told me to kiss her.
"Leave me alone, dearest," said I, "the punch has got into your head,
and you don't know what you are doing."
This stung her; and urging Irene to follow her example, she took up a
position in my bed by force; and as there was not enough room for
three, Marcoline got on top of Irene, calling her her wife.
I was virtuous enough to remain a wholly passive spectator of the
scene, which was always new to me, though I had seen it so often; but
at last they flung themselves on me with such violence that I was
obliged to give way, and for the most part of the night I performed
my share of the work, till they saw that I was completely exhausted.
We fell asleep, and I did not wake up till noon, and then I saw my
two beauties still asleep, with their limbs interlaced like the
branches of a tree. I thought with a sigh of the pleasures of such a
sleep, and got out of bed gently for fear of rousing them. I ordered
a good dinner to be prepared, and countermanded the horses which had
been waiting several hours.
The landlord remembering what I had done for Madame Stuard guessed I
was going to do the same for the Rinaldis, and left them in peace.
When I came back I found my two Lesbians awake, and they gave me such
an amorous welcome that I felt inclined to complete the work of the
night with a lover's good morning; but I began to feel the need of
husbanding my forces, so I did nothing, and bore their sarcasms in
silence till one o'clock, when I told them to get up, as we ought to
have done at five o'clock, and here was two o'clock and breakfast not
"We have enjoyed ourselves," said Marcoline, "and time that is given
to enjoyment is never lost."
When they were dressed, I had coffee brought in, and I gave Irene
sixteen louis, four of which were to redeem her cloak. Her father
and mother who had just dined came in to bid us good-day, and Irene
proudly gave her father twelve Louis telling him to scold her a
little less in future. He laughed, wept, and went out, and then came
back and said he found a good way of getting to Antibes at a small
cost, but they would have to go directly, as the driver wanted to get
to St. Andiol by nightfall.
"I am quite ready."
"No, dear Irene," said I, "you shall not go; you shall dine with your
friend, and your driver can wait. Make him do so, Count Rinaldi; my
niece will pay, will you not, Marcoline?"
"Certainly. I should like to dine here, and still better to put off
our departure till the next day."
Her wishes were my orders. We had a delicious supper at five
o'clock, and at eight we went to bed and spent the night in
wantonness, but at five in the morning all were ready to start.
Irene, who wore her handsome cloak, shed hot tears at parting from
Marcoline, who also wept with all her heart. Old Rinaldi, who proved
himself no prophet, told me that I should make a great fortune in
England, and his daughter sighed to be in Marcoline's place.
We shall hear of Rinaldi later on.
We drove on for fifteen posts without stopping, and passed the night
at Valence. The food was bad, but Marcoline forgot her discomfort in
talking of Irene.
"Do you know," said she, "that if it had been in my power I should
have taken her from her parents. I believe she is your daughter,
though she is not like you."
"How can she be my daughter when I have never known her mother?"
"She told me that certainly."
"Didn't she tell you anything else?"
"Yes, she told me that you lived with her for three days and bought
her maidenhead for a thousand sequins."
"Quite so, but did she tell you that I paid the money to her father?"
"Yes, the little fool doesn't keep anything for herself. I don't
think I should ever be jealous of your mistresses, if you let me
sleep with them. Is not that a mark of a good disposition?
"You have, no doubt, a good disposition, but you could be quite as
good without your dominant passion."
"It is not a passion. I only have desires for those I love."
"Who gave you this taste?"
"Nature. I began at seven, and in the last ten years I have
certainly had four hundred sweethearts."
"You begin early. But when did you begin to have male sweethearts?"
"Tell me all about it."
"Father Molini, a monk, was my confessor, and he expressed a desire
to know the girl who was then my sweetheart. It was in the carnival
time, and he gave us a moral discourse, telling us that he would take
us to the play if we would promise to abstain for a week. We
promised to do so, and at the end of the week we went to tell him
that we had kept our word faithfully. The next day Father Molini
called on my sweetheart's aunt in a mask, and as she knew him, and as
he was a monk and a confessor, we were allowed to go with him.
Besides, we were mere children; my sweetheart was only a year older
"After the play the father took us to an inn, and gave us some
supper; and when the meal was over he spoke to us of our sin, and
wanted to see our privates. 'It's a great sin between two girls,'
said he, 'but between a man and a woman it is a venial matter. Do
you know how men are made?' We both knew, but we said no with one
consent. 'Then would you like to know?' said he. We said we should
like to know very much, and he added, 'If you will promise to keep it
a secret, I may be able to satisfy your curiosity.' We gave our
promises, and the good father proceeded to gratify us with a sight of
the riches which nature had lavished on him, and in the course of an
hour he had turned us into women. I must confess that he understood
so well how to work on our curiosity that the request came from us.
Three years later, when I was fourteen, I became the mistress of a
young jeweller. Then came your brother; but he got nothing from me,
because he began by saying that he could not ask me to give him any
favours till we were married."
"You must have been amused at that."
"Yes, it did make me laugh, because I did not know that a priest
could get married; and he excited my curiosity by telling me that
they managed it at Geneva. Curiosity and wantonness made me escape
with him; you know the rest."
Thus did Marcoline amuse me during the evening, and then we went to
bed and slept quietly till the morning. We started from Valence at
five, and in the evening we were set down at the "Hotel du Parc" at
As soon as I was settled in the pleasant apartments allotted to me I
went to Madame d'Urfe, who was staying in the Place Bellecour, and
said, as usual, that she was sure I was coming on that day. She
wanted to know if she had performed the ceremonies correctly, and
Paralis, of course, informed her that she had, whereat she was much
flattered. The young Aranda was with her, and after I had kissed him
affectionately I told the marchioness that I would be with her at ten
o'clock the next morning, and so I left her.
I kept the appointment and we spent the whole of the day in close
conference, asking of the oracle concerning her being brought to bed,
how she was to make her will, and how she should contrive to escape
poverty in her regenerated shape. The oracle told her that she must
go to Paris for her lying-in, and leave all her possessions to her
son, who would not be a bastard, as Paralis promised that as soon as
I got to London an English gentleman should be sent over to marry
her. Finally, the oracle ordered her to prepare to start in three
days, and to take Aranda with her. I had to take the latter to
London and return him to his mother, for his real position in life
was no longer a mystery, the little rascal having confessed all;
however, I had found a remedy for his indiscretion as for the
treachery of the Corticelli and Possano.
I longed to return him to the keeping of his mother, who constantly
wrote me impertinent letters. I also wished to take my daughter,
who, according to her mother, had become a prodigy of grace and
After the oracular business had been settled, I returned to the
"Hotel du Parc" to dine with Marcoline. It was very late, and as I
could not take my sweetheart to the play I called on M. Bono to
enquire whether he had sent my brother to Paris. He told me that he
had gone the day before, and that my great enemy, Possano, was still
in Lyons, and that I would do well to be on my guard as far as he was
"I have seen him," said Bono; "he looks pale and undone, and seems
scarcely able to stand. 'I shall die before long,' said he, 'for
that scoundrel Casanova has had me poisoned; but I will make him pay
dearly for his crime, and in this very town of Lyons, where I know he
will come, sooner or later.'
"In fact, in the course of half an hour, he made some terrible
accusations against you, speaking as if he were in a fury. He wants
all the world to know that you are the greatest villain unhung, that
you are ruining Madame d'Urfe with your impious lies; that you are a
sorcerer, a forger, an utter of false moneys, a poisoner--in short,
the worst of men. He does not intend to publish a libellous pamphlet
upon you, but to accuse you before the courts, alleging that he wants
reparation for the wrongs you have done his person, his honour, and
his life, for he says you are killing him by a slow poison. He adds
that for every article he possesses the strongest proof.
"I will say nothing about the vague abuse he adds to these formal
accusations, but I have felt it my duty to warn you of his
treacherous designs that you may be able to defeat them. It's no
good saying he is a miserable wretch, and that you despise him; you
know how strong a thing calumny is."
"Where does the fellow live?"
"I don't know in the least."
"How can I find out?"
"I can't say, for if he is hiding himself on purpose it would be hard
to get at him."
"Nevertheless, Lyons is not so vast a place."
"Lyons is a perfect maze, and there is no better hiding-place,
especially to a man with money, and Possano has money."
"But what can he do to me?"
"He can institute proceedings against you in the criminal court,
which would cause you immense anxiety and bring down your good name
to the dust, even though you be the most innocent, the most just of
"It seems to me, then, that the best thing I can do will be to be
first in the field."
"So I think, but even then you cannot avoid publicity."
"Tell me frankly if you feel disposed to bear witness to what the
rascal has said in a court of justice."
"I will tell all I know with perfect truth."
"Be kind enough to tell me of a good advocate."
"I will give you the address of one of the best; but reflect before
you do anything. The affair will make a noise."
"As I don't know where he lives, I have really no choice in the
If I had known where he lived I could have had Possano expelled from
Lyons through the influence of Madame d'Urfe, whose relative, M. de
la Rochebaron, was the governor; but as it was, I had no other course
than the one I took.
Although Possano was a liar and an ungrateful, treacherous hound, yet
I could not help being uneasy. I went to my hotel, and proceeded to
ask for police protection against a man in hiding in Lyons, who had
designs against my life and honour.
The next day M. Bono came to dissuade me from the course I had taken.
"For," said he, "the police will begin to search for him, and as soon
as he hears of it he will take proceedings against you in the
criminal courts, and then your positions will be changed. It seems
to me that if you have no important business at Lyons you had better
hasten your departure."
"Do you think I would do such a thing for a miserable fellow like
Possano? No! I would despise myself if I did. I would die rather
than hasten my departure on account of a rascal whom I loaded with
kindnesses, despite his unworthiness! I would give a hundred louis
to know where he is now."
"I am delighted to say that I do not know anything about it, for if I
did I would tell you, and then God knows what would happen! You
won't go any sooner; well, then, begin proceedings, and I will give
my evidence by word of mouth or writing whenever you please."
I went to the advocate whom M. Bono had recommended to me, and told
him my business. When he heard what I wanted he said,----
"I can do nothing for you, sir, as I have undertaken the case of your
opponent. You need not be alarmed, however, at having spoken to me,
for I assure you that I will make no use whatever of the information.
Possano's plea or accusation will not be drawn up till the day after
to-morrow, but I will not tell him to make baste for fear of your
anticipating him, as I have only been informed of your intentions by
hazard. However, you will find plenty of advocates at Lyons as
honest as I am, and more skilled."
"Could you give me the name of one?"
"That would not be etiquette, but M. Bono, who seems to have kindly
spoken of me with some esteem, will be able to serve you."
"Can you tell me where your client lives?"
"Since his chief aim is to remain hidden, and with good cause, you
will see that I could not think of doing such a thing."
In bidding him farewell I put a louis on the table, and though I did
it with the utmost delicacy he ran after me and made me take it back.
"For once in a way," I said to myself, "here's an honest advocate."
As I walked along I thought of putting a spy on Possano and finding
out his abode, for I felt a strong desire to have him beaten to
death; but where was I to find a spy in a town of which I knew
nothing? M. Bono gave me the name of another advocate, and advised
me to make haste.
"'Tis in criminal matters" said he, "and in such cases the first
comer always has the advantage."
I asked him to find me a trusty fellow to track out the rascally
Possano, but the worthy man would not hear of it. He shewed me that
it would be dishonourable to set a spy on the actions of Possano's
advocate. I knew it myself; but what man is there who has not
yielded to the voice of vengeance, the most violent and least
reasonable of all the passions.
I went to the second advocate, whom I found to be a man venerable not
only in years but in wisdom. I told him all the circumstances of the
affair, which he agreed to take up, saying he would present my plea
in the course of the day.
"That's just what I want you to do," said I, "for his own advocate
told me that his pleas would be presented the day after to-morrow."
"That, sir," said her "would not induce me to act with any greater
promptness, as I could not consent to your abusing the confidence of
"But there is nothing dishonourable in making use of information
which one has acquired by chance."
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