The Complete Memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 12 out of 70
who always give way so easily to their keen sense of ridicule and
equivocation. How could they have imagined that a writer 'a rouet'
could be a man of genius? And D'Alembert, would he have attained his
high fame, his universal reputation, if he had been satisfied with
his name of M. Le Rond, or Mr. Allround? What would have become of
Metastasio under his true name of Trapasso? What impression would
Melanchthon have made with his name of Schwarzerd? Would he then
have dared to raise the voice of a moralist philosopher, of a
reformer of the Eucharist, and so many other holy things? Would not
M. de Beauharnais have caused some persons to laugh and others to
blush if he had kept his name of Beauvit, even if the first founder
of his family had been indebted for his fortune to the fine quality
expressed by that name?
Would the Bourbeux have made as good a figure on the throne as the
Bourbons? I think that King Poniatowski ought to have abdicated the
name of Augustus, which he had taken at the time of his accession to
the throne, when he abdicated royalty. The Coleoni of Bergamo,
however, would find it rather difficult to change their name, because
they would be compelled at the same time to change their coat of arms
(the two generative glands), and thus to annihilate the glory of
their ancestor, the hero Bartholomeo.
Towards the end of autumn my friend Fabris introduced me to a family
in the midst of which the mind and the heart could find delicious
food. That family resided in the country on the road to Zero. Card-
playing, lovemaking, and practical jokes were the order of the day.
Some of those jokes were rather severe ones, but the order of the day
was never to get angry and to laugh at everything, for one was to
take every jest pleasantly or be thought a bore. Bedsteads would at
night tumble down under their occupants, ghosts were personated,
diuretic pills or sugar-plums were given to young ladies, as well as
comfits who produced certain winds rising from the netherlands, and
impossible to keep under control. These jokes would sometimes go
rather too far, but such was the spirit animating all the members of
that circle; they would laugh. I was not less inured than the others
to the war of offence and defence, but at last there was such a
bitter joke played upon me that it suggested to me another, the fatal
consequences of which put a stop to the mania by which we were all
We were in the habit of walking to a farm which was about half a
league distant by the road, but the distance could be reduced by half
by going over a deep and miry ditch across which a narrow plank was
thrown, and I always insisted upon going that way, in spite of the
fright of the ladies who always trembled on the narrow bridge,
although I never failed to cross the first, and to offer my hand to
help them over. One fine day, I crossed first so as to give them
courage, but suddenly, when I reached the middle of the plank, it
gave way under me, and there I was in the ditch, up to the chin in
stinking mud, and, in spite of my inward rage, obliged, according to
the general understanding, to join in the merry laughter of all my
companions. But the merriment did not last long, for the joke was
too bad, and everyone declared it to be so. Some peasants were
called to the rescue, and with much difficulty they dragged me out in
the most awful state. An entirely new dress, embroidered with
spangles, my silk stockings, my lace, everything, was of course
spoiled, but not minding it, I laughed more heartily that anybody
else, although I had already made an inward vow to have the most
cruel revenge. In order to know the author of that bitter joke I had
only to appear calm and indifferent about it. It was evident that
the plank had been purposely sawn. I was taken back to the house, a
shirt, a coat, a complete costume, were lent me, for I had come that
time only for twenty-four hours, and had not brought anything with
me. I went to the city the next morning, and towards the evening I
returned to the gay company. Fabris, who had been as angry as
myself, observed to me that the perpetrator of the joke evidently
felt his guilt, because he took good care not to discover himself.
But I unveiled the mystery by promising one sequin to a peasant woman
if she could find out who had sawn the plank. She contrived to
discover the young man who had done the work. I called on him, and
the offer of a sequin, together with my threats, compelled him to
confess that he had been paid for his work by Signor Demetrio, a
Greek, dealer in spices, a good and amiable man of between forty-five
and fifty years, on whom I never played any trick, except in the case
of a pretty, young servant girl whom he was courting, and whom I had
juggled from him.
Satisfied with my discovery, I was racking my brain to invent a good
practical joke, but to obtain complete revenge it was necessary that
my trick should prove worse than the one he had played upon me.
Unfortunately my imagination was at bay. I could not find anything.
A funeral put an end to my difficulties.
Armed with my hunting-knife, I went alone to the cemetery a little
after midnight, and opening the grave of the dead man who had been
buried that very day, I cut off one of the arms near the shoulder,
not without some trouble, and after I had re-buried the corpse, I
returned to my room with the arm of the defunct. The next day, when
supper was over, I left the table and retired to my chamber as if I
intended to go to bed, but taking the arm with me I hid myself under
Demetrio's bed. A short time after, the Greek comes in, undresses
himself, put his light out, and lies down. I give him time to fall
nearly asleep; then, placing myself at the foot of the bed, I pull
away the clothes little by little until he is half naked. He laughs
and calls out,
"Whoever you may be, go away and let me sleep quietly, for I do not
believe in ghosts;" he covers himself again and composes himself to
I wait five or six minutes, and pull again at the bedclothes; but
when he tries to draw up the sheet, saying that he does not care for
ghosts, I oppose some resistance. He sits up so as to catch the hand
which is pulling at the clothes, and I take care that he should get
hold of the dead hand. Confident that he has caught the man or the
woman who was playing the trick, he pulls it towards him, laughing
all the time; I keep tight hold of the arm for a few instants, and
then let it go suddenly; the Greek falls back on his pillow without
uttering a single word.
The trick was played, I leave the room without any noise, and,
reaching my chamber, go to bed.
I was fast asleep, when towards morning I was awoke by persons going
about, and not understanding why they should be up so early, I got
up. The first person I met--the mistress of the house--told me that
I had played an abominable joke.
"I? What have I done?"
"M. Demetrio is dying."
"Have I killed him?"
She went away without answering me. I dressed myself, rather
frightened, I confess, but determined upon pleading complete
ignorance of everything, and I proceeded to Demetrio's room; and I
was confronted with horror-stricken countenances and bitter
reproaches. I found all the guests around him. I protested my
innocence, but everyone smiled. The archpriest and the beadle, who
had just arrived, would not bury the arm which was lying there, and
they told me that I had been guilty of a great crime.
"I am astonished, reverend sir," I said to the priest, "at the hasty
judgment which is thus passed upon me, when there is no proof to
"You have done it," exclaimed all the guests, "you alone are capable
of such an abomination; it is just like you. No one but you would
have dared to do such a thing!"
"I am compelled," said the archpriest, "to draw up an official
"As you please, I have not the slightest objection," I answered, "I
have nothing to fear."
And I left the room.
I continued to take it coolly, and at the dinner-table I was informed
that M. Demetrio had been bled, that he had recovered the use of his
eyes, but not of his tongue or of his limbs. The next day he could
speak, and I heard, after I had taken leave of the family, that he
was stupid and spasmodic. The poor man remained in that painful
state for the rest of his life. I felt deeply grieved, but I had not
intended to injure him so badly. I thought that the trick he had
played upon me might have cost my life, and I could not help deriving
consolation from that idea.
On the same day, the archpriest made up his mind to have the arm
buried, and to send a formal denunciation .against me to the
episcopal chancellorship of Treviso.
Annoyed at the reproaches which I received on all sides, I returned
to Venice. A fortnight afterwards I was summoned to appear before
the 'magistrato alla blasfemia'. I begged M. Barbaro to enquire the
cause of the aforesaid summons, for it was a formidable court. I was
surprised at the proceedings being taken against me, as if there had
been a certainty of my having desecrated a grave, whilst there could
be nothing but suspicion. But I was mistaken, the summons was not
relating to that affair. M. Barbaro informed me in the evening that
a woman had brought a complaint against me for having violated her
daughter. She stated in her complaint that, having decoyed her child
to the Zuecca, I had abused her by violence, and she adduced as a
proof that her daughter was confined to her bed, owing to the bad
treatment she had received from me in my endeavours to ravish her.
It was one of those complaints which are often made, in order to give
trouble and to cause expense, even against innocent persons. I was
innocent of violation, but it was quite true that I had given the
girl a sound thrashing. I prepared my defence, and begged M.
Barbaro to deliver it to the magistrate's secretary.
I hereby declare that, on such a day, having met the woman with her
daughter, I accosted them and offered to give them some refreshments
at a coffee-house near by; that the daughter refused to accept my
caresses, and that the mother said to me,--
"My daughter is yet a virgin, and she is quite right not to lose her
maidenhood without making a good profit by it."
"If so," I answered, "I will give you ten sequins for her virginity."
"You may judge for yourself," said the mother.
Having assured myself of the fact by the assistance of the sense of
feeling, and having ascertained that it might be true, I told the
mother to bring the girl in the afternoon to the Zuecca, and that I
would give her the ten sequins. My offer was joyfully accepted, the
mother brought her daughter to me, she received the money, and
leaving us together in the Garden of the Cross, she went away.
When I tried to avail myself of the right for which I had paid, the
girl, most likely trained to the business by her mother, contrived to
prevent me. At first the game amused me, but at last, being tired of
it, I told her to have done. She answered quietly that it was not
her fault if I was not able to do what I wanted. Vexed and annoyed,
I placed her in such a position that she found herself at bay, but,
making a violent effort, she managed to change her position and
debarred me from making any further attempts.
"Why," I said to her, "did you move?"
"Because I would not have it in that position."
"You would not?"
Without more ado, I got hold of a broomstick, and gave her a good
lesson, in order to get something for the ten sequins which I had
been foolish enough to pay in advance. But I have broken none of her
limbs, and I took care to apply my blows only on her posteriors, on
which spot I have no doubt that all the marks may be seen. In the
evening I made her dress herself again, and sent her back in a boat
which chanced to pass, and she was landed in safety. The mother
received ten sequins, the daughter has kept her hateful maidenhood,
and, if I am guilty of anything, it is only of having given a
thrashing to an infamous girl, the pupil of a still more infamous
My declaration had no effect. The magistrate was acquainted with the
girl, and the mother laughed at having duped me so easily. I was
summoned, but did not appear before the court, and a writ was on the
point of being issued against my body, when the complaint of the
profanation of a grave was filed against me before the same
magistrate. It would have been less serious for me if the second
affair had been carried before the Council of Ten, because one court
might have saved me from the other.
The second crime, which, after all, was only a joke, was high felony
in the eyes of the clergy, and a great deal was made of it. I was
summoned to appear within twenty-four hours, and it was evident that
I would be arrested immediately afterwards. M. de Bragadin, who
always gave good advice, told me that the best way to avoid the
threatening storm was to run away. The advice was certainly wise,
and I lost no time in getting ready.
I have never left Venice with so much regret as I did then, for I had
some pleasant intrigues on hand, and I was very lucky at cards. My
three friends assured me that, within one year at the furthest, the
cases against me would be forgotten, and in Venice, when public
opinion has forgotten anything, it can be easily arranged.
I left Venice in the evening and the next day I slept at Verona. Two
days afterwards I reached Mantua. I was alone, with plenty of
clothes and jewels, without letters of introduction, but with a well-
filled purse, enjoying excellent health and my twenty-three years.
In Mantua I ordered an excellent dinner, the very first thing one
ought to do at a large hotel, and after dinner I went out for a walk.
In the evening, after I had seen the coffee-houses and the places of
resort, I went to the theatre, and I was delighted to see Marina
appear on the stage as a comic dancer, amid the greatest applause,
which she deserved, for she danced beautifully. She was tall,
handsome, very well made and very graceful. I immediately resolved
on renewing my acquaintance with her, if she happened to be free, and
after the opera I engaged a boy to take me to her house. She had
just sat down to supper with someone, but the moment she saw me she
threw her napkin down and flew to my arms. I returned her kisses,
judging by her warmth that her guest was a man of no consequence.
The servant, without waiting for orders, had already laid a plate for
me, and Marina invited me to sit down near her. I felt vexed,
because the aforesaid individual had not risen to salute me, and
before I accepted Marina's invitation I asked her who the gentleman
was, begging her to introduce me.
"This gentleman," she said, "is Count Celi, of Rome; he is my lover."
"I congratulate you," I said to her, and turning towards the so-
called count, "Sir," I added, "do not be angry at our mutual
affection, Marina is my daughter."
"She is a prostitute."
"True," said Marina, "and you can believe the count, for he is my
At those words, the brute threw his knife at her face, but she
avoided it by running away. The scoundrel followed her, but I drew
my sword, and said,
"Stop, or you are a dead man."
I immediately asked Marina to order her servant to light me out, but
she hastily put a cloak on, and taking my arm she entreated me to
take her with me.
"With pleasure," I said.
The count then invited me to meet him alone, on the following day, at
the Casino of Pomi, to hear what he had to say.
"Very well, sir, at four in the afternoon," I answered.
I took Marina to my inn, where I lodged her in the room adjoining
mine, and we sat down to supper.
Marina, seeing that I was thoughtful, said,
"Are you sorry to have saved me from the rage of that brute?"
"No, I am glad to have done so, but tell me truly who and what he
"He is a gambler by profession, and gives himself out as Count Celi.
I made his acquaintance here. He courted me, invited me to supper,
played after supper, and, having won a large sum from an Englishman
whom he had decoyed to his supper by telling him that I would be
present, he gave me fifty guineas, saying that he had given me an
interest in his bank. As soon as I had become his mistress, he
insisted upon my being compliant with all the men he wanted to make
his dupes, and at last he took up his quarters at my lodgings. The
welcome I gave you very likely vexed him, and you know the rest.
Here I am, and here I will remain until my departure for Mantua where
I have an engagement as first dancer. My servant will bring me all I
need for to-night, and I will give him orders to move all my luggage
to-morrow. I will not see that scoundrel any more. I will be only
yours, if you are free as in Corfu, and if you love me still."
"Yes, my dear Marina, I do love you, but if you wish to be my
mistress, you must be only mine."
"Oh! of course. I have three hundred sequins, and I will give them
to you to-morrow if you will take me as your mistress."
"I do not want any money; all I want is yourself. Well, it is all
arranged; to-morrow evening we shall feel more comfortable."
"Perhaps you are thinking of a duel for to-morrow? But do not
imagine such a thing, dearest. I know that man; he is an arrant
"I must keep my engagement with him."
"I know that, but he will not keep his, and I am very glad of it."
Changing the conversation and speaking of our old acquaintances, she
informed me that she had quarreled with her brother Petronio, that
her sister was primadonna in Genoa, and that Bellino Therese was
still in Naples, where she continued to ruin dukes. She concluded by
"I am the most unhappy of the family."
"How so? You are beautiful, and you have become an excellent dancer.
Do not be so prodigal of your favours, and you cannot fail to meet
with a man who will take care of your fortune."
"To be sparing of my favours is very difficult; when I love, I am no
longer mine, but when I do not love, I cannot be amiable. Well,
dearest, I could be very happy with you."
"Dear Marina, I am not wealthy, and my honour would not allow me...."
"Hold your tongue; I understand you."
"Why have you not a lady's maid with you instead of a male servant?"
"You are right. A maid would look more respectable, but my servant
is so clever and so faithful!"
"I can guess all his qualities, but he is not a fit servant for you."
The next day after dinner I left Marina getting ready for the
theatre, and having put everything of value I possessed in my pocket,
I took a carriage and proceeded to the Casino of Pomi. I felt
confident of disabling the false count, and sent the carriage away.
I was conscious of being guilty of great folly in exposing my life
with such an adversary. I might have broken my engagement with him
without implicating my honour, but, the fact is that I felt well
disposed for a fight, and as I was certainly in the right I thought
the prospect of a duel very delightful. A visit to a dancer, a brute
professing to be a nobleman, who insults her in my presence, who
wants to kill her, who allows her to be carried off in his very
teeth, and whose only opposition is to give me an appointment! It
seemed to me that if I had failed to come, I should have given him
the right to call me a coward.
The count had not yet arrived. I entered the coffee-room to wait for
him. I met a good-looking Frenchman there, and I addressed him.
Being pleased with his conversation, I told him that I expected the
arrival of a man, and that as my honour required that he should find
me alone I would feel grateful if he would go away as soon as I saw
the man approaching. A short time afterwards I saw my adversary
coming along, but with a second. I then told the Frenchman that he
would oblige me by remaining, and he accepted as readily as if I had
invited him to a party of pleasure. The count came in with his
follower, who was sporting a sword at least forty inches long, and
had all the look of a cut-throat. I advanced towards the count, and
said to him dryly,--
"You told me that you would come alone."
"My friend will not be in the way, as I only want to speak to you."
"If I had known that, I would not have gone out of my way. But do
not let us be noisy, and let us go to some place where we can
exchange a few words without being seen. Follow me."
I left the coffee-room with the young Frenchman, who, being well
acquainted with the place, took me to the most favourable spot, and
we waited there for the two other champions, who were walking slowly
and talking together. When they were within ten paces I drew my
sword and called upon my adversary to get ready. My Frenchman had
already taken out his sword, but he kept it under his arm.
"Two to one!" exclaimed Celi.
"Send your friend away, and this gentleman will go likewise; at all
events, your friend wears a sword, therefore we are two against two."
"Yes," said the Frenchman, "let us have a four-handed game."
"I do not cross swords with a dancer," said the cutthroat.
He had scarcely uttered those words when my friend, going up to him,
told him that a dancer was certainly as good as a blackleg, and gave
him a violent bow with the flat of his sword on the face. I followed
his example with Celi, who began to beat a retreat, and said that he
only wanted to tell me something, and that he would fight afterwards.
"You know me and I do not know you. Tell me who you are."
My only answer was to resume laying my sword upon the scoundrel,
while the Frenchman was shewing the same dexterity upon the back of
his companion, but the two cowards took to their heels, and there was
nothing for us to do but to sheathe our weapons. Thus did the duel
end in a manner even more amusing than Marina herself had
My brave Frenchman was expecting someone at the casino. I left him
after inviting him to supper for that evening after the opera. I
gave him; the name which I had assumed for my journey and the address
of my hotel.
I gave Marina a full description of the adventure.
"I will," she said, "amuse everybody at the theatre this evening with
the story of your meeting. But that which pleases me most is that,
if your second is really a dancer, he can be no other than M.
Baletti, who is engaged with me for the Mantua Theatre."
I stored all my valuables in my trunk again, and went to the opera,
where I saw Baletti, who recognized me, and pointed me out to all his
friends, to whom he was relating the adventure. He joined me after
the performance, and accompanied me to the inn. Marina, who had
already returned, came to my room as soon as she heard my voice, and
I was amused at the surprise of the amiable Frenchman, when he saw
the young artist with whom he had engaged to dance the comic parts.
Marina, although an excellent dancer, did not like the serious style.
Those two handsome adepts of Terpsichore had never met before, and
they began an amorous warfare which made me enjoy my supper
immensely, because, as he was a fellow artist, Marina assumed towards
Baletti a tone well adapted to the circumstances, and very different
to her usual manner with other men. She shone with wit and beauty
that evening, and was in an excellent temper, for she had been much
applauded by the public, the true version of the Celi business being
already well known.
The theatre was to be open only for ten more nights, and as Marina
wished to leave Milan immediately after the last performance, we
decided on travelling together. In the mean time, I invited Baletti
(it was an Italian name which he had adopted for the stage) to be our
guest during the remainder of our stay in Milan. The friendship
between us had a great influence upon all the subsequent events of my
life, as the reader will see in these Memoirs. He had great talent
as a dancer, but that was the least of his excellent qualities. He
was honest, his feelings were noble, he had studied much, and he had
received the best education that could be given in those days in
France to a nobleman.
On the third day I saw plainly that Marina wished to make a conquest
of her colleague, and feeling what great advantage might accrue to
her from it I resolved on helping her. She had a post-chaise for two
persons, and I easily persuaded her to take Baletti with her, saying
that I wished to arrive alone in Mantua for several reasons which I
could not confide to her. The fact was that if I had arrived with
her, people would have naturally supposed that I was her lover, and I
wished to avoid that. Baletti was delighted with the proposal; he
insisted upon paying his share of the expenses, but Marina would not
hear of it. The reasons alleged by the young man for paying his own
expenses were excellent ones, and it was with great difficulty that I
prevailed upon him to accept Marina's offer, but I ultimately
succeeded. I promised to wait for them on the road, so as to take
dinner and supper together, and on the day appointed for our
departure I left Milan one hour before them.
Reaching the city of Cremona very early, where we intended to sleep,
I took a walk about the streets, and, finding a coffee-house, I went
in. I made there the acquaintance of a French officer, and we left
the coffee-room together to take a short ramble. A very pretty woman
happened to pass in a carriage, and my companion stopped her to say a
few words. Their conversation was soon over, and the officer joined
"Who is that lovely lady?" I enquired.
"She is a truly charming woman, and I can tell you an anecdote about
her worthy of being transmitted to posterity. You need not suppose
that I am going to exaggerate, for the adventure is known to
everybody in Cremona. The charming woman whom you have just seen is
gifted with wit greater even than her beauty, and here is a specimen
of it. A young officer, one amongst many military men who were
courting her, when Marshal de Richelieu was commanding in Genoa,
boasted of being treated by her with more favour than all the others,
and one day, in the very coffee-room where we met, he advised a
brother officer not to lose his time in courting her, because he had
no chance whatever of obtaining any favour.
"'My dear fellow,' said the other officer, 'I have a much better
right to give you that piece of advice; for I have already obtained
from her everything which can be granted to a lover.'
"'I am certain that you are telling a lie,' exclaimed the young man,
'and I request you to follow me out.'
"'Most willingly,' said the indiscreet swain, 'but what is the good
of ascertaining the truth through a duel and of cutting our throats,
when I can make the lady herself certify the fact in your presence.'
"'I bet twenty-five louis that it is all untrue,' said the
"'I accept your bet. Let us go.'
"The two contending parties proceeded together towards the dwelling
of the lady whom you saw just now, who was to name the winner of the
"They found her in her dressing-room. 'Well gentlemen,' she said,
'what lucky wind has brought you here together at this hour?
"'It is a bet, madam,' answered the unbelieving officer, 'and you
alone can be the umpire in our quarrel. This gentleman has been
boasting of having obtained from you everything a woman can grant to
the most favoured lover. I have given him the lie in the most
impressive manner, and a duel was to ensue, when he offered to have
the truth of his boast certified by you. I have bet twenty-five
Louis that you would not admit it, and he has taken my bet. Now,
madam, you can say which of us two is right.'
"You have lost, sir," she said to him; 'but now I beg both of you to
quit my house, and I give you fair warning that if you ever dare to
shew your faces here again, you will be sorry for it.'
"The two heedless fellows went away dreadfully mortified. The
unbeliever paid the bet, but he was deeply vexed, called the other a
coxcomb, and a week afterwards killed him in a duel.
"Since that time the lady goes to the casino, and continues to mix in
society, but does not see company at her own house, and lives in
perfect accord with her husband."
"How did the husband take it all?"
"Quite well, and like an intelligent, sensible man. He said that, if
his wife had acted differently, he would have applied for a divorce,
because in that case no one would have entertained a doubt of her
"That husband is indeed a sensible fellow. It is certain that, if
his wife had given the lie to the indiscreet officer, he would have
paid the bet, but he would have stood by what he had said, and
everybody would have believed him. By declaring him the winner of
the bet she has cut the matter short, and she has avoided a judgment
by which she would have been dishonoured. The inconsiderate boaster
was guilty of a double mistake for which he paid the penalty of his
life, but his adversary was as much wanting in delicacy, for in such
matters rightly-minded men do not venture upon betting. If the one
who says yes is imprudent, the one who says no is a dupe. I like the
lady's presence of mind."
"But what sentence would you pass on her. Guilty or not guilty?"
"I am of the same opinion, and it has been the verdict of the public
likewise, for she has since been treated even better than before the
affair. You will see, if you go to the casino, and I shall be happy
to introduce you to her"
I invited the officer to sup with us, and we spent a very pleasant
evening. After he had gone, I remarked with pleasure that Marina was
capable of observing the rules of propriety. She had taken a bedroom
to herself, so as not to hurt the feelings of her respectable fellow-
When I arrived in Mantua, I put up at St. Mark's hotel. Marina, to
whom I had given a notice that my intention was to call on her but
seldom, took up her abode in the house assigned to her by the
In the afternoon of the same day, as I was walking about, I went into
a bookseller's shop to ascertain whether there was any new work out.
I remained there without perceiving that the night had come, and on
being told that the shop was going to be closed, I went out. I had
only gone a few yards when I was arrested by a patrol, the officer of
which told me that, as I had no lantern and as eight o'clock had
struck, his duty was to take me to the guardhouse. It was in vain
that I observed that, having arrived only in the afternoon, I could
not know that order of the police. I was compelled to follow him.
When we reached the guardhouse, the officer of the patrol introduced
me to his captain, a tall, fine-looking young man who received me in
the most cheerful manner. I begged him to let me return to my hotel
as I needed rest after my journey. He laughed and answered, "No,
indeed, I want you to spend a joyous night with me, and in good
company." He told the officer to give me back my sword, and,
addressing me again, he said, "I only consider you, my dear sir, as
my friend and guest."
I could not help being amused at such a novel mode of invitation, and
I accepted it. He gave some orders to a German soldier, and soon
afterwards the table was laid out for four persons. The two other
officers joined us, and we had a very gay supper. When the desert
had been served the company was increased by the arrival of two
disgusting, dissolute females. A green cloth was spread over the
table, and one of the officers began a faro bank. I punted so as not
to appear unwilling to join the game, and after losing a few sequins
I went out to breathe the fresh air, for we had drunk freely. One of
the two females followed me, teased me, and finally contrived, in
spite of myself, to make me a present which condemned me to a regimen
of six weeks. After that fine exploit, I went in again.
A young and pleasant officer, who had lost some fifteen or twenty
sequins, was swearing like a trooper because the banker had pocketed
his money and was going. The young officer had a great deal of gold
before him on the table, and he contended that the banker ought to
have warned him that it would be the last game.
"Sir," I said to him, politely, "you are in the wrong, for faro is
the freest of games. Why do you not take the bank yourself ?"
"It would be too much trouble, and these gentlemen do not punt high
enough for me, but if that sort of thing amuses you, take the bank
and I will punt."
"Captain," I said, "will you take a fourth share in my bank?"
"Gentlemen, I beg you to give notice that I will lay the cards down
after six games."
I asked for new packs of cards, and put three hundred sequins on the
table. The captain wrote on the back of a card, "Good for a hundred
sequins, O'Neilan," and placing it with my gold I began my bank.
The young officer was delighted, and said to me,
"Your bank might be defunct before the end of the sixth game."
I did not answer, and the play went on.
At the beginning of the fifth game, my bank was in the pangs of
death; the young officer was in high glee. I rather astonished him
by telling him that I was glad to lose, for I thought him a much more
agreeable companion when he was winning.
There are some civilities which very likely prove unlucky for those
to whom they are addressed, and it turned out so in this case, for my
compliment turned his brain. During the fifth game, a run of adverse
cards made him lose all he had won, and as he tried to do violence to
Dame Fortune in the sixth round, he lost every sequin he had.
"Sir," he said to me, "you have been very lucky, but I hope you will
give me my revenge to-morrow."
"It would be with the greatest pleasure, sir, but I never play except
when I am under arrest."
I counted my money, and found that I had wan two hundred and fifty
sequins, besides a debt of fifty sequins due by an officer who played
on trust which Captain O'Neilan took on his own account. I completed
his share, and at day-break he allowed me to go away.
As soon as I got to my hotel, I went to bed, and when I awoke, I had
a visit from Captain Laurent, the officer who had played on trust.
Thinking that his object was to pay me what he had lost, I told him
that O'Neilan had taken his debt on himself, but he answered than he
had only called for the purpose of begging of me a loan of six
sequins on his note of hand, by which he would pledge his honour to
repay me within one week. I gave him the money, and he begged that
the matter, might remain between us.
"I promise it," I said to him, "but do not break your word."
The next day I was ill, and the reader is aware of the nature of my
illness. I immediately placed myself under a proper course of diet,
however unpleasant it was at my age; but I kept to my system, and it
cured me rapidly.
Three or four days afterwards Captain O'Neilan called on me, and when
I told him the nature of my sickness he laughed, much to my surprise.
"Then you were all right before that night?" he enquired.
"Yes, my health was excellent."
"I am sorry that you should have lost your health in such an ugly
place. I would have warned you if I had thought you had any
intentions in that quarter."
"Did you know of the woman having...?"
"Zounds! Did I not? It is only a week since I paid a visit to the
very same place myself, and I believe the creature was all right
before my visit."
"Then I have to thank you for the present she has bestowed upon me."
"Most likely; but it is only a trifle, and you can easily get cured
if you care to take the trouble."
"What! Do you not try to cure yourself?"
"Faith, no. It would be too much trouble to follow a regular diet,
and what is the use of curing such a trifling inconvenience when I am
certain of getting it again in a fortnight. Ten times in my life I
have had that patience, but I got tired of it, and for the last two
years I have resigned myself, and now I put up with it."
"I pity you, for a man like you would have great success in love."
"I do not care a fig for love; it requires cares which would bother
me much more than the slight inconvenience to which we were alluding,
and to which I am used now."
"I am not of your opinion, for the amorous pleasure is insipid when
love does not throw a little spice in it. Do you think, for
instance, that the ugly wretch I met at the guard-room is worth what
I now suffer on her account?"
"Of course not, and that is why I am sorry for you. If I had known,
I could have introduced you to something better."
"The very best in that line is not worth my health, and health ought
to be sacrificed only for love."
"Oh! you want women worthy of love? There are a few here; stop with
us for some time, and when you are cured there is nothing to prevent
you from making conquests."
O'Neilan was only twenty-three years old; his father, who was dead,
had been a general, and the beautiful Countess Borsati was his
sister. He presented me to the Countess Zanardi Nerli, still more
lovely than his sister, but I was prudent enough not to burn my
incense before either of them, for it seemed to me that everybody
could guess the state of my health.
I have never met a young man more addicted to debauchery than
O'Neilan. I have often spent the night rambling about with him, and
I was amazed at his cynical boldness and impudence. Yet he was
noble, generous, brave, and honourable. If in those days young
officers were often guilty of so much immorality, of so many vile
actions, it was not so much their fault as the fault of the
privileges which they enjoyed through custom, indulgence, or party
spirit. Here is an example:
One day O'Neilan, having drunk rather freely, rides through the city
at full speed. A poor old woman who was crossing the street has no
time to avoid him, she falls, and her head is cut open by the horse's
feet. O'Neilan places himself under arrest, but the next day he is
set at liberty. He had, only to plead that it was an accident.
The officer Laurent not having called upon me to redeem his promisory
note of six sequins during the week, I told him in the street that I
would no longer consider myself bound to keep the affair secret.
Instead of excusing himself, he said,
"I do not care!"
The answer was insulting, and I intended to compel him to give me
reparation, but the next day O'Neilan told me that Captain Laurent
had gone mad and had been locked up in a mad-house. He subsequently
recovered his reason, but his conduct was so infamous that he was
O'Neilan, who was as brave as Bayard, was killed a few years
afterwards at the battle of Prague. A man of his complexion was
certain to fall the victim of Mars or of Venus. He might be alive
now if he had been endowed only with the courage of the fox, but he
had the courage of the lion. It is a virtue in a soldier, but almost
a fault in an officer. Those who brave danger with a full knowledge
of it are worthy of praise, but those who do not realize it escape
only by a miracle, and without any merit attaching itself to them.
Yet we must respect those great warriors, for their unconquerable
courage is the offspring of a strong soul, of a virtue which places
them above ordinary mortals.
Whenever I think of Prince Charles de Ligne I cannot restrain my
tears. He was as brave as Achilles, but Achilles was invulnerable.
He would be alive now if he had remembered during the fight that he
was mortal. Who are they that, having known him, have not shed tears
in his memory? He was handsome, kind, polished, learned, a lover of
the arts, cheerful, witty in his conversation, a pleasant companion,
and a man of perfect equability. Fatal, terrible revolution! A
cannon ball took him from his friends, from his family, from the
happiness which surrounded him.
The Prince de Waldeck has also paid the penalty of his intrepidity
with the loss of one arm. It is said that he consoles himself for
that loss with the consciousness that with the remaining one he can
yet command an army.
O you who despise life, tell me whether that contempt of life renders
you worthy of it?
The opera opened immediately after Easter, and I was present at every
performance. I was then entirely cured, and had resumed my usual
life. I was pleased to see that Baletti shewed off Marina to the
best advantage. I never visited her, but Baletti was in the habit of
breakfasting with me almost every morning.
He had often mentioned an old actress who had left the stage for more
than twenty years, and pretended to have been my father's friend.
One day I took a fancy to call upon her, and he accompanied me to her
I saw an old, broken-down crone whose toilet astonished me as much as
her person. In spite of her wrinkles, her face was plastered with
red and white, and her eyebrows were indebted to India ink for their
black appearance. She exposed one-half of her flabby, disgusting
bosom, and there could be no doubt as to her false set of teeth. She
wore a wig which fitted very badly, and allowed the intrusion of a
few gray hairs which had survived the havoc of time. Her shaking
hands made mine quiver when she pressed them. She diffused a perfume
of amber at a distance of twenty yards, and her affected, mincing
manner amused and sickened me at the same time. Her dress might
possibly have been the fashion twenty years before. I was looking
with dread at the fearful havoc of old age upon a face which, before
merciless time had blighted it, had evidently been handsome, but what
amazed me was the childish effrontery with which this time-withered
specimen of womankind was still waging war with the help of her
Baletti, who feared lest my too visible astonishment should vex her,
told her that I was amazed at the fact that the beautiful strawberry
which bloomed upon her chest had not been withered by the hand of
Time. It was a birth-mark which was really very much like a
strawberry. "It is that mark," said the old woman, simpering, "which
gave me the name of 'La Fragoletta.'"
Those words made me shudder.
I had before my eyes the fatal phantom which was the cause of my
existence. I saw the woman who had thirty years before, seduced my
father: if it had not been for her, he would never have thought of
leaving his father's house, and would never have engendered me in the
womb of a Venetian woman. I have never been of the opinion of the
old author who says, 'Nemo vitam vellet si daretur scientibus'.
Seeing how thoughtful I was, she politely enquired my name from
Baletti, for he had presented me only as a friend, and without having
given her notice of my visit. When he told her that my name was
Casanova, she was extremely surprised.
"Yes, madam," I said, "I am the son of Gaetan Casanova, of Parma."
"Heavens and earth! what is this? Ah! my friend, I adored your
father! He was jealous without cause, and abandoned me. Had he not
done so, you would have been my son! Allow me to embrace you with
the feelings of a loving mother."
I expected as much, and, for fear she should fall, I went to her,
received her kiss, and abandoned myself to her tender recollections.
Still an actress, she pressed her handkerchief to her eyes,
pretending to weep, and assuring me that I was not to doubt the truth
of what she said.
"Although," she added, "I do not look an old woman yet."
"The only fault of your dear father," she continued, "was a want of
I have no doubt that she passed the same sentence upon the son, for,
in spite of her kind invitation, I never paid her another visit.
My purse was well filled, and as I did not care for Mantua, I
resolved on going to Naples, to see again my dear Therese, Donna
Lucrezia, Palo father and son, Don Antonio Casanova, and all my
former acquaintances. However, my good genius did not approve of
that decision, for I was not allowed to carry it into execution. I
should have left Mantua three days later, had I not gone to the opera
I lived like an anchorite during my two months' stay in Mantua, owing
to the folly. I committed on the night of my arrival. I played only
that time, and then I had been lucky. My slight erotic inconvenience,
by compelling me to follow the diet necessary to my cure, most likely
saved me from greater misfortunes which, perhaps, I should not have
been able to avoid.
My Journey to Cesena in Search of Treasure--I Take Up My Quarters in
Franzia's House--His Daughter Javotte
The opera was nearly over when I was accosted by a young man who,
abruptly, and without any introduction, told me that as a stranger--
I had been very wrong in spending two months in Mantua without paying
a visit to the natural history collection belonging to his father,
Don Antonio Capitani, commissary and prebendal president.
"Sir," I answered, "I have been guilty only through ignorance, and if
you would be so good as to call for me at my hotel to-morrow morning,
before the evening I shall have atoned for my error, and you will no
longer have the right to address me the same reproach"
The son of the prebendal commissary called for me, and I found in his
father a most eccentric, whimsical sort of man. The curiosities of
his collection consisted of his family tree, of books of magic,
relics, coins which he believed to be antediluvian, a model of the
ark taken from nature at the time when Noah arrived in that
extraordinary harbour, Mount Ararat, in Armenia. He load several
medals, one of Sesostris, another of Semiramis, and an old knife of a
queer shape, covered with rust. Besides all those wonderful
treasures, he possessed, but under lock and key, all the
paraphernalia of freemasonry.
"Pray, tell me," I said to him, "what relation there is between this
collection and natural history? I see nothing here representing the
"What! You do not see the antediluvian kingdom, that of Sesostris
and that of Semiramis? Are not those the three kingdoms?"
When I heard that answer I embraced him with an exclamation of
delight, which was sarcastic in its intent, but which he took for
admiration, and he at once unfolded all the treasures of his
whimsical knowledge respecting his possessions, ending with the rusty
blade which he said was the very knife with which Saint Peter cut off
the ear of Malek.
"What!" I exclaimed, "you are the possessor of this knife, and you
are not as rich as Croesus?"
"How could I be so through the possession of the knife?"
"In two ways. In the first place, you could obtain possession of all
the treasures hidden under ground in the States of the Church."
"Yes, that is a natural consequence, because St. Peter has the keys."
"In the second place, you might sell the knife to the Pope, if you
happen to possess proof of its authenticity."
"You mean the parchment. Of course I have it; do you think I would
have bought one without the other?"
"All right, then. In order to get possession of that knife, the Pope
would, I have no doubt, make a cardinal of your son, but you must
have the sheath too."
"I have not got it, but it is unnecessary. At all events I can have
"That would not do, you must have the very one in which Saint Peter
himself sheathed the knife when God said, 'Mitte gladium tuum in
vaginam'. That very sheath does exist, and it is now in the hands of
a person who might sell it to you at a reasonable price, or you might
sell him your knife, for the sheath without the knife is of no use to
him, just as the knife is useless to you without the sheath."
"How much would it cost me?"
"One thousand sequins."
"And how much would that person give me for the knife?"
"One thousand sequins, for one has as much value as the other."
The commissary, greatly astonished, looked at his son, and said, with
the voice of a judge on the bench,
"Well, son, would you ever have thought that I would be offered one
thousand sequins for this knife?"
He then opened a drawer and took out of it an old piece of paper,
which he placed before me. It was written in Hebrew, and a facsimile
of the knife was drawn on it. I pretended to be lost in admiration,
and advised him very strongly to purchase the sheath.
"It is not necessary for me to buy it, or for your friend to purchase
the knife. We can find out and dig up the treasures together."
"Not at all. The rubric says in the most forcible manner that the
owner of the blade, 'in vaginam', shall be one. If the Pope were in
possession of it he would be able, through a magical operation known
to me, to cut off one of the ears of every Christian king who might
be thinking of encroaching upon the rights of the Church."
"Wonderful, indeed! But it is very true, for it is said in the
Gospel that Saint Peter did cut off the ear of somebody."
"Yes, of a king."
"Oh, no! not of a king."
"Of a king, I tell you. Enquire whether Malek or Melek does not mean
"Well! in case I should make up my mind to sell the knife, who would
give me the thousand sequins?"
"I would; one half to-morrow, cash down; the balance of five hundred
in a letter of exchange payable one month after date."
"Ah! that is like business. Be good enough, to accept a dish of
macaroni with us to-morrow, and under a solemn pledge of secrecy we
will discuss this important affair."
I accepted and took my leave, firmly resolved on keeping up the joke.
I came back on the following day, and the very first thing he told me
was that, to his certain knowledge, there was an immense treasure
hidden somewhere in the Papal States, and that he would make up his
mind to purchase the sheath. This satisfied me that there was no
fear of his taking me at my word, so I produced a purse full of gold,
saying I was quite ready to complete our bargain for the purchase of
"The Treasure," he said, "is worth millions; but let us have dinner.
You are not going to be served in silver plates and dishes, but in
real Raphael mosaic."
"My dear commissary, your magnificence astonishes me; mosaic is,
indeed, by far superior to silver plate, although an ignorant fool
would only consider it ugly earthen ware."
The compliment delighted him.
After dinner, he spoke as follows:
"A man in very good circumstances, residing in the Papal States, and
owner of the country house in which he lives with all his family, is
certain that there is a treasure in his cellar. He has written to my
son, declaring himself ready to undertake all expenses necessary to
possess himself of that treasure, if we could procure a magician
powerful enough to unearth it."
The son then took a letter out of his pocket, read me some passages,
and begged me to excuse him if, in consequence of his having pledged
himself to keep the secret, he could not communicate all the contents
of the letter; but I had, unperceived by him, read the word Cesena,
the name of the village, and that was enough for me.
"Therefore all that is necessary is to give me the possibility of
purchasing the sheath on credit, for I have no ready cash at present.
You need not be afraid of endorsing my letters of exchange, and if
you should know the magician you might go halves with him."
"The magician is ready; it is I, but unless you give me five hundred
sequins cash down we cannot agree."
"I have no money."
"Then sell me the knife:"
"You are wrong, for now that I have seen it I can easily take it from
you. But I am honest enough not to wish to play such a trick upon
"You could take my knife from me? I should like to be convinced of
that, but I do not believe it."
"You do not? Very well, to-morrow the knife will be in my
possession, but when it is once in my hands you need not hope to see
it again. A spirit which is under my orders will bring it to me at
midnight, and the same spirit will tell me where the treasure is
"Let the spirit tell you that, and I shall be convinced."
"Give me a pen, ink and paper."
I asked a question from my oracle, and the answer I had was that the
treasure was to be found not far from the Rubicon.
"That is," I said, "a torrent which was once a river:"
They consulted a dictionary, and found that the Rubicon flowed
through Cesena. They were amazed, and, as I wished them to have full
scope for wrong reasoning, I left them.
I had taken a fancy, not to purloin five hundred sequins from those
poor fools, but to go and unearth the amount at their expense in the
house of another fool, and to laugh at them all into the bargain. I
longed to play the part of a magician. With that idea, when I left
the house of the ridiculous antiquarian, I proceeded to the public
library, where, with the assistance of a dictionary, I wrote the
following specimen of facetious erudition:
"The treasure is buried in the earth at a depth of seventeen and a
half fathoms, and has been there for six centuries. Its value
amounts to two millions of sequins, enclosed in a casket, the same
which was taken by Godfrey de Bouillon from Mathilda, Countess of
Tuscany, in the year 1081, when he endeavoured to assist Henry IV,
against that princess. He buried the box himself in the very spot
where it now is, before he went to lay siege to Jerusalem. Gregory
VII, who was a great magician, having been informed of the place
where it had been hidden, had resolved on getting possession of it
himself, but death prevented him from carrying out his intentions.
After the death of the Countess Mathilda, in the year 1116, the
genius presiding over all hidden treasures appointed seven spirits to
guard the box. During a night with a full moon, a learned magician
can raise the treasure to the surface of the earth by placing himself
in the middle of the magical ring called maximus:"
I expected to see the father and son, and they came early in the
morning. After some rambling conversation, I gave them what I had
composed at the library, namely, the history of the treasure taken
from the Countess Mathilda.
I told them that I had made up my mind to recover the treasure, and I
promised them the fourth part of it, provided they would purchase the
sheath; I concluded by threatening again to possess myself of their
"I cannot decide," said the commissary, "before I have seen the
"I pledge my word to shew it to you to-morrow," I answered.
We parted company, highly pleased with each other.
In order to manufacture a sheath, such as the wonderful knife
required, it was necessary to combine the most whimsical idea with
the oddest shape. I recollected very well the form of the blade,
and, as I was revolving in my mind the best way to produce something
very extravagant but well adapted to the purpose I had in view, I
spied in the yard of the hotel an old piece of leather, the remnant
of what had been a fine gentleman's boot; it was exactly what I
I took that old sole, boiled it, and made in it a slit in which I was
certain that the knife would go easily. Then I pared it carefully on
all sides to prevent the possibility of its former use being found
out; I rubbed it with pumice stone, sand, and ochre, and finally I
succeeded in imparting to my production such a queer, old-fashioned
shape that I could not help laughing in looking at my work.
When I presented it to the commissary, and he had found it an exact
fit for the knife, the good man remained astounded. We dined
together, and after dinner it was decided that his son should
accompany me, and introduce me to the master of the house in which
the treasure was buried, that I was to receive a letter of exchange
for one thousand Roman crowns, drawn by the son on Bologna, which
would be made payable to my name only after I should have found the
treasure, and that the knife with the sheath would be delivered into
my hands only when I should require it for the great operation; until
then the son was to retain possession of it.
Those conditions having been agreed upon, we made an agreement in
writing, binding upon all parties, and our departure was fixed for
the day after the morrow.
As we left Mantua, the father pronounced a fervent blessing over his
son's head, and told me that he was count palatine, shewing me the
diploma which he had received from the Pope. I embraced him, giving
him his title of count, and pocketed his letter of exchange.
After bidding adieu to Marina, who was then the acknowledged mistress
of Count Arcorati, and to Baletti whom I was sure of meeting again in
Venice before the end of the year, I went to sup with my friend
We started early in the morning, travelled through Ferrara and
Bologna, and reached Cesena, where we put up at the posting-house.
We got up early the next day and walked quietly to the house of
George Franzia, a wealthy peasant, who was owner of the treasure. It
was only a quarter of a mile from the city, and the good man was
agreeably surprised by our arrival. He embraced Capitani, whom he
knew already, and leaving me with his family he went out with my
companion to talk business.
Observant as usual, I passed the family in review, and fixed my
choice upon the eldest daughter. The youngest girl was ugly, and the
son looked a regular fool. The mother seemed to be the real master
of the household, and there were three or four servants going about
The eldest daughter was called Genevieve, or Javotte, a very common
name among the girls of Cesena. I told her that I thought her
eighteen; but she answered, in a tone half serious, half vexed, that
I was very much mistaken, for she had only just completed her
"I am very glad it is so, my pretty child."
These words brought back her smile.
The house was well situated, and there was not another dwelling
around it for at least four hundred yards. I was glad to see that I
should have comfortable quarters, but I was annoyed by a very
unpleasant stink which tainted the air, and which could certainly not
be agreeable to the spirits I had to evoke.
"Madame Franzia," said I, to the mistress of the house, "what is the
cause of that bad smell?"
"Sir, it arises from the hemp which we are macerating."
I concluded that if the cause were removed, I should get rid of the
"What is that hemp worth, madam?" I enquired.
"About forty crowns."
"Here they are; the hemp belongs to me now, and I must beg your
husband to have it removed immediately."
Capitani called me, and I joined him. Franzia shewed me all the
respect due to a great magician, although I had not much the
appearance of one.
We agreed that he should receive one-fourth of the treasure, Capitani
another fourth, and that the remainder should belong to me. We
certainly did not shew much respect for the rights of Saint Peter.
I told Franzia that I should require a room with two beds for myself
alone, and an ante-room with bathing apparatus. Capitani's room was
to be in a different part of the house, and my room was to be
provided with three tables, two of them small and one large. I added
that he must at once procure me a sewing-girl between the ages of
fourteen and eighteen, she was to be a virgin, and it was necessary
that she should, as well as every person in the house, keep the
secret faithfully, in order that no suspicion of our proceedings
should reach the Inquisition, or all would be lost.
"I intend to take up my quarters here to-morrow," I added; "I require
two meals every day, and the only wine I can drink is jevese. For my
breakfast I drink a peculiar kind of chocolate which I make myself,
and which I have brought with me. I promise to pay my own expenses
in case we do not succeed. Please remove the hemp to a place
sufficiently distant from the house, so that its bad smell may not
annoy the spirits to be evoked by me, and let the air be purified by
the discharge of gunpowder. Besides, you must send a trusty servant
to-morrow to convey our luggage from the hotel here, and keep
constantly in the house and at my disposal one hundred new wax
candles and three torches."
After I had given those instructions to Franzia, I left him, and went
towards Cesena with Capitani, but we had not gone a hundred yards
when we heard the good man running after us.
"Sir," he said to me, "be kind enough to take back the forty crowns
which you paid to my wife for the hemp."
"No, I will not do anything of the sort, for I do not want you to
sustain any loss."
"Take them back, I beg. I can sell the hemp in the course of the day
for forty crowns without difficulty"
"In that case I will, for I have confidence in what you say."
Such proceedings on my part impressed the excellent man very
favourably, and he entertained the deepest veneration for me, which
was increased, when, against Capitani's advice, I resolutely refused
one hundred sequins which he wanted to force upon me for my
travelling expenses. I threw him into raptures by telling him that
on the eve of possessing an immense treasure, it was unnecessary to
think of such trifles.
The next morning our luggage was sent for, and we found ourselves
comfortably located in the house of the wealthy and simple Franzia.
He gave us a good dinner, but with too many dishes, and I told him to
be more economical, and to give only some good fish for our supper,
which he did. After supper he told me that, as far as the young
maiden was concerned, he thought he could recommend his daughter
Javotte, as he had consulted his wife, and had found I could rely
upon the girl being a virgin.
"Very good," I said; "now tell me what grounds you have for supposing
that there is a treasure in your house?"
"In the first place, the oral tradition transmitted from father to
son for the last eight generations; in the second, the heavy sounds
which are heard under ground during the night. Besides, the door of
the cellar opens and shuts of itself every three or four minutes;
which must certainly be the work of the devils seen every night
wandering through the country in the shape of pyramidal flames."
"If it is as you say, it is evident that you have a treasure hidden
somewhere in your house; it is as certain as the fact that two and
two are four. Be very careful not to put a lock to the door of the
cellar to prevent its opening and shutting of itself; otherwise you
would have an earthquake, which would destroy everything here.
Spirits will enjoy perfect freedom, and they break through every
obstacle raised against them."
"God be praised for having sent here, forty years ago, a learned man
who told my father exactly the same thing! That great magician
required only three days more to unearth the treasure when my father
heard that the Inquisition had given orders to arrest him, and he
lost no time in insuring his escape. Can you tell me how it is that
magicians are not more powerful than the Inquisitors?"
"Because the monks have a greater number of devils under their
command than we have. But I feel certain that your father had
already expended a great deal of money with that learned man."
"About two thousand crowns."
"Oh! more, more."
I told Franzia to follow me, and, in order to accomplish something in
the magic line, I dipped a towel in some water, and uttering fearful
words which belonged to no human language, I washed the eyes, the
temples, and the chest of every person in the family, including
Javotte, who might have objected to it if I had not begun with her
father, mother, and brother. I made them swear upon my pocket-book
that they were not labouring under any impure disease, and I
concluded the ceremony by compelling Javotte to swear likewise that
she had her maidenhood. As I saw that she was blushing to the very
roots of her hair in taking the oath, I was cruel enough to explain
to her what it meant; I then asked her to swear again, but she
answered that there was no need of it now that she knew what it was.
I ordered all the family to kiss me, and finding that Javotte had
eaten garlic I forbade the use of it entirely, which order Franzia
promised should be complied with.
Genevieve was not a beauty as far as her features were concerned; her
complexion was too much sunburnt, and her mouth was too large, but
her teeth were splendid, and her under lip projected slightly as if
it had been formed to receive kisses. Her bosom was well made and as
firm as a rock, but her hair was too light, and her hands too fleshy.
The defects, however, had to be overlooked, and altogether she was
not an unpleasant morsel. I did not purpose to make her fall in love
with me; with a peasant girl that task might have been a long one;
all I wanted was to train her to perfect obedience, which, in default
of love, has always appeared to me the essential point. True that in
such a case one does not enjoy the ecstatic raptures of love, but one
finds a compensation in the complete control obtained over the woman.
I gave notice to the father, to Capitani, and to Javotte, that each
would, in turn and in the order of their age, take supper with me,
and that Javotte would sleep every night in my ante-room, where was
to be placed a bath in which I would bathe my guest one half hour
before sitting down to supper, and the guest was not to have broken
his fast throughout the day.
I prepared a list of all the articles of which I pretended to be in
need, and giving it to Franzia I told him to go to Cesena himself the
next day, and to purchase everything without bargaining to obtain a
lower price. Among other things, I ordered a piece, from twenty to
thirty yards long, of white linen, thread, scissors, needles, storax,
myrrh, sulphur, olive oil, camphor, one ream of paper, pens and ink,
twelve sheets of parchment, brushes, and a branch of olive tree to
make a stick of eighteen inches in length.
After I had given all my orders very seriously and without any wish
to laugh, I went to bed highly pleased with my personification of a
magician, in which I was astonished to find myself so completely
The next morning, as soon as I was dressed, I sent for Capitani, and
commanded him to proceed every day to Cesena, to go to the best
coffee-house, to learn carefully every piece of news and every
rumour, and to report them to me.
Franzia, who had faithfully obeyed my orders, returned before noon
from the city with all the articles I had asked for.
"I have not bargained for anything," he said to me, "and the
merchants must, I have no doubt, have taken me for a fool, for I have
certainly paid one-third more than the things are worth."
"So much the worse for them if they have deceived you, but you would
have spoilt everything if you had beaten them down in their price.
Now, send me your daughter and let me be alone with her."
As soon as Javotte was in my room, I made her cut the linen in seven
pieces, four of five feet long, two of two feet, and one of two feet
and a half; the last one was intended to form the hood of the robe I
was to wear for the great operation. Then I said to Javotte:
"Sit down near my bed and begin sewing. You will dine here and
remain at work until the evening. When your father comes, you must
let us be alone, but as soon as he leaves me, come back and go to
She dined in my room, where her mother waited on her without
speaking, and gave her nothing to drink except St. Jevese wine.
Towards evening her father came, and she left us.
I had the patience to wash the good man while he was in the bath,
after which he had supper with me; he ate voraciously, telling me
that it was the first time in his life that he had remained twenty-
four hours without breaking his fast. Intoxicated with the St.
Jevese wine he had drunk, he went to bed and slept soundly until
morning, when his wife brought me my chocolate. Javotte was kept
sewing as on the day before; she left the room in the evening when
Capitani came in, and I treated him in the same manner as Franzia; on
the third day, it was Javotte's turn, and that had been the object I
had kept in view all the time.
When the hour came, I said to her,
"Go, Javotte, get into the bath and call me when you are ready, for I
must purify you as I have purified your father and Capitani."
She obeyed, and within a quarter of an hour she called me. I
performed a great many ablutions on every part of her body, making
her assume all sorts of positions, for she was perfectly docile, but,
as I was afraid of betraying myself, I felt more suffering than
enjoyment, and my indiscreet hands, running over every part of her
person, and remaining longer and more willingly on a certain spot,
the sensitiveness of which is extreme, the poor girl was excited by
an ardent fire which was at last quenched by the natural result of
that excitement. I made her get out of the bath soon after that, and
as I was drying her I was very near forgetting magic to follow the
impulse of nature, but, quicker than I, nature relieved itself, and I
was thus enabled to reach the end of the scene without anticipating
the denouement. I told Javotte to dress herself, and to come back to
me as soon as she was ready.
She had been fasting all day, and her toilet did not take a long
time. She ate with a ferocious appetite, and the St. Jevese wine,
which she drank like water, imparted so much animation to her
complexion that it was no longer possible to see how sunburnt she
was. Being alone with her after supper, I said to her,
"My dear Javotte, have you been displeased at all I have compelled
you to submit to this evening?"
"Not at all; I liked it very much."
"Then I hope that you will have no objection to get in the bath with
me to-morrow, and to wash me as I have washed you."
"Most willingly, but shall I know how to do it well?"
"I will teach you, and for the future I wish you to sleep every night
in my room, because I must have a complete certainty that on the
night of the great operation I shall find you such as you ought to
From that time Javotte was at her ease with me, all her restraint
disappeared, she would look at me and smile with entire confidence.
Nature had operated, and the mind of a young girl soon enlarges its
sphere when pleasure is her teacher. She went to bed, and as she
knew that she had no longer anything to conceal from me, her modesty
was not alarmed when she undressed herself in my presence. It was
very warm, any kind of covering is unpleasant in the hot weather, so
she stripped to the skin and soon fell asleep. I did the same, but I
could not help feeling some regret at having engaged myself not to
take advantage of the position before the night of the great
incantation. I knew that the operation to unearth the treasure would
be a complete failure, but I knew likewise that it would not fail
because Javotte's virginity was gone.
At day-break the girl rose and began sewing. As soon as she had
finished the robe, I told her to make a crown of parchment with seven
long points, on which I painted some fearful figures and hieroglyphs.
In the evening, one hour before supper, I got into the bath, and
Javotte joined me as soon as I called her. She performed upon me
with great zeal the same ceremonies that I had done for her the day
before, and she was as gentle and docile as possible. I spent a
delicious hour in that bath, enjoying everything, but respecting the
My kisses making her happy, and seeing that I had no objection to her
caresses, she loaded me with them. I was so pleased at all the
amorous enjoyment her senses were evidently experiencing, that I made
her easy by telling her that the success of the great magic operation
depended upon the amount of pleasure she enjoyed. She then made
extraordinary efforts to persuade me that she was happy, and without
overstepping the limits where I had made up my mind to stop, we got
out of the bath highly pleased with each other.
As we were on the point of going to bed, she said to me,
"Would it injure the success of your operation if we were to sleep
"No, my dear girl; provided you are a virgin on the day of the great
incantation, it is all I require."
She threw herself in my arms, and we spent a delightful night, during
which I had full opportunity of admiring the strength of her
constitution as well as my own restraint, for I had sufficient
control over myself not to break through the last obstacle.
I passed a great part of the following night with Franzia and
Capitani in order to see with my own eyes the wonderful things which
the worthy peasant had mentioned to me. Standing in the yard, I
heard distinctly heavy blows struck under the ground at intervals of
three or four minutes. It was like the noise which would be made by
a heavy pestle falling in a large copper mortar. I took my pistols
and placed myself near the self-moving door of the cellar, holding a
dark lantern in my hand. I saw the door open slowly, and in about
thirty seconds closing with violence. I opened and closed it myself
several times, and, unable to discover any hidden physical cause for
the phenomenon, I felt satisfied that there was some unknown roguery
at work, but I did not care much to find it out.
We went upstairs again, and, placing myself on the balcony, I saw in
the yard several shadows moving about. They were evidently caused by
the heavy and damp atmosphere, and as to the pyramidal flames which I
could see hovering over the fields, it was a phenomenon well known to
me. But I allowed my two companions to remain persuaded that they
were the spirits keeping watch over the treasure.
That phenomenon is very common throughout southern Italy where the
country is often at night illuminated by those meteors which the
people believe to be devils, and ignorance has called night spirits,
Dear reader, the next chapter will tell you how my magic undertaking
ended, and perhaps you will enjoy a good laugh at my expense, but you
need not be afraid of hurting my feelings.
The Incantation--A Terrible Storm--My Fright--Javotte's Virginity Is
Saved--I Give Up the Undertaking, and Sell the Sheath to Capitani--I
Meet Juliette and Count Alfani, Alias Count Celi--I Make Up My Mind
to Go to Naples--Why I Take a Different Road
My great operation had to be performed on the following day;
otherwise, according to all established rules, I would have had to
wait until the next full moon. I had to make the gnomes raise the
treasure to the surface of the earth at the very spot on which my
incantations would be performed. Of course, I knew well enough that
I should not succeed, but I knew likewise that I could easily
reconcile Franzia and Capitani to a failure, by inventing some
excellent reasons for our want of success. In the mean time I had to
play my part of a magician, in which I took a real delight. I kept
Javotte at work all day, sewing together, in the shape of a ring,
some thirty sheets of paper on which I painted the most wonderful
designs. That ring, which I called maximus, had a diameter of three
geometric paces. I had manufactured a sort of sceptre or magic wand
with the branch of olive brought by Franzia from Cesena. Thus
prepared, I told Javotte that, at twelve o'clock at night, when I
came out of the magic ring, she was to be ready for everything. The
order did not seem repugnant to her; she longed to give me that proof
of her obedience, and, on my side, considering myself as her debtor,
I was in a hurry to pay my debt and to give her every satisfaction.
The hour having struck, I ordered Franzia and Capitani to stand on
the balcony, so as to be ready to come to me if I called for them,
and also to prevent anyone in the house seeing my proceedings. I
then threw off all profane garments. I clothe myself in the long
white robe, the work of a virgin's innocent hands. I allow my long
hair to fall loosely. I place the extraordinary crown on my head,
the circle maximus on my shoulders, and, seizing the sceptre with one
hand, the wonderful knife with the other, I go down into the yard.
There I spread my circle on the ground, uttering the most barbarous
words, and after going round it three times I jump into the middle.
Squatting down there, I remain a few minutes motionless, then I rise,
and I fix my eyes upon a heavy, dark cloud coming from the west,
whilst from the same quarter the thunder is rumbling loudly. What a
sublime genius I should have appeared in the eyes of my two fools,
if, having a short time before taken notice of the sky in that part
of the horizon, I had announced to them that my operation would be
attended by that phenomenon.
The cloud spreads with fearful rapidity, and soon the sky seems
covered with a funeral pall, on which the most vivid flashes of
lightning keep blazing every moment.
Such a storm was a very natural occurrence, and I had no reason to be
astonished at it, but somehow, fear was beginning to creep into me,
and I wished myself in my room. My fright soon increased at the
sight of the lightning, and on hearing the claps of thunder which
succeeded each other with fearful rapidity and seemed to roar over my
very head. I then realized what extraordinary effect fear can have
on the mind, for I fancied that, if I was not annihilated by the
fires of heaven which were flashing all around me, it was only
because they could not enter my magic ring. Thus was I admiring my
own deceitful work! That foolish reason prevented me from leaving
the circle in spite of the fear which caused me to shudder. If it
had not been for that belief, the result of a cowardly fright, I
would not have remained one minute where I was, and my hurried flight
would no doubt have opened the eyes of my two dupes, who could not
have failed to see that, far from being a magician, I was only a
poltroon. The violence of the wind, the claps of thunder, the
piercing cold, and above all, fear, made me tremble all over like an
aspen leaf. My system, which I thought proof against every accident,
had vanished: I acknowledged an avenging God who had waited for this
opportunity of punishing me at one blow for all my sins, and of
annihilating me, in order to put an end to my want of faith. The
complete immobility which paralyzed all my limbs seemed to me a proof
of the uselessness of my repentance, and that conviction only
increased my consternation.
But the roaring of the thunder dies away, the rain begins to fall
heavily, danger vanishes, and I feel my courage reviving. Such is
man! or at all events, such was I at that moment. It was raining so
fast that, if it had continued pouring with the same violence for a
quarter of an hour, the country would have been inundated. As soon
as the rain had ceased, the wind abated, the clouds were dispersed,
and the moon shone in all its splendour, like silver in the pure,
blue sky. I take up my magic ring, and telling the two friends to
retire to their beds without speaking to me, I hurry to my room. I
still felt rather shaken, and, casting my eyes on Javotte, I thought
her so pretty that I felt positively frightened. I allowed her to
dry me, and after that necessary operation I told her piteously to go
to bed. The next morning she told me that, when she saw me come in,
shaking all over in spite of the heat, she had herself shuddered with
After eight hours of sound sleep I felt all right, but I had had
enough of the comedy, and to my great surprise the sight of Genevieve
did not move me in any way. The obedient Javotte had certainly not
changed, but I was not the same. I was for the first time in my life
reduced to a state of apathy, and in consequence of the superstitious
ideas which had crowded in my mind the previous night I imagined that
the innocence of that young girl was under the special protection of
Heaven, and that if I had dared to rob her of her virginity the most
rapid and terrible death would have been my punishment.
At all events, thanks to my youth and my exalted ideas, I fancied
that through my self-denying resolutions the father would not be so
great a dupe, and the daughter not so unhappy, unless the result
should prove as unfortunate for her as it had been for poor Lucy, of
The moment that Javotte became in my eyes an object of holy horror,
my departure was decided. The resolution was all the more
irrevocable because I fancied some old peasant might have witnessed
all my tricks in the middle of the magic ring, in which case the most
Holy, or, if you like, the most infernal, Inquisition, receiving
information from him, might very well have caught me and enhanced my
fame by some splendid 'auto-da-fe' in which I had not the slightest
wish to be the principal actor. It struck me as so entirely within
the limits of probability that I sent at once for Franzia and
Capitani, and in the presence of the unpolluted virgin I told them
that I had obtained from the seven spirits watching over the treasure
all the necessary particulars, but that I had been compelled to enter
into an agreement with them to delay the extraction of the treasure
placed under their guardianship. I told Franzia that I would hand to
him in writing all the information which I had compelled the spirits
to give me. I produced, in reality, a few minutes afterwards, a
document similar to the one I had concocted at the public library in
Mantua, adding that the treasure consisted of diamonds, rubies,
emeralds, and one hundred thousand pounds of gold dust. I made him
take an oath on my pocket-book to wait for me, and not to have faith
in any magician unless he gave him an account of the treasure in
every way similar to the one which, as a great favor, I was leaving
in his hands. I ordered him to burn the crown and the ring, but to
keep the other things carefully until my return.
"As for you, Capitani," I said to my companion, "proceed at once to
Cesena, and remain at the inn until our luggage has been brought by
the man whom Franzia is going to send with it."
Seeing that poor Javotte looked miserable, I went up to her, and,
speaking to her very tenderly, I promised to see her again before
long. I told her at the same time that, the great operation having
been performed successfully, her virginity was no longer necessary,
and that she was at liberty to marry as soon as she pleased, or
whenever a good opportunity offered itself.
I at once returned to the city, where I found Capitani making his
preparations to go to the fair of Lugo, and then to Mantua. He told
me, crying like a child, that his father would be in despair when he
saw him come back without the knife of Saint Peter.
"You may have it," I said, "with the sheath, if you will let me have
the one thousand Roman crowns, the amount of the letter of exchange:"
He thought it an excellent bargain, and accepted it joyfully. I gave
him back the letter of exchange, and made him sign a paper by which
he undertook to return the sheath whenever I brought the same amount,
but he is still waiting for it.
I did not know what to do with the wonderful sheath, and I was not in
want of money, but I should have considered myself dishonoured if I
had given it to him for nothing; besides, I thought it a good joke to
levy a contribution upon the ignorant credulity of a count palatine
created by the grace of the Pope. In after days, however, I would
willingly have refunded his money, but, as fate would have it, we did
not see each other for a long time, and when I met him again I was
not in a position to return the amount. It is, therefore, only to
chance that I was indebted for the sum, and certainly Capitani never
dreamed of complaining, for being the possessor of 'gladium cum
vagina' he truly believed himself the master of every treasure
concealed in the Papal States.
Capitani took leave of me on the following day, and I intended to
proceed at once to Naples, but I was again prevented; this is how it
As I returned to the inn after a short walk, mine host handed me the
bill of the play announcing four performances of the Didone of
Metastasio at the Spada. Seeing no acquaintance of mine among the
actors or actresses, I made up my mind to go to the play in the
evening, and to start early the next day with post-horses. A remnant
of my fear of the Inquisition urged me on, and I could not help
fancying that spies were at my heels.
Before entering the house I went into the actresses dressing-room,
and the leading lady struck me as rather good-looking. Her name was
Narici, and she was from Bologna. I bowed to her, and after the
common-place conversation usual in such cases, I asked her whether
she was free.
"I am only engaged with the manager," she answered.
"Have you any lover?"
"I offer myself for the post, if you have no objection"
She smiled jeeringly, and said,
"Will you take four tickets for the four performances?"
I took two sequins out of my purse, taking care to let her see that
it was well filled, and when she gave me the four tickets, presented
them to the maid who was dressing her and was prettier than the
mistress, and so left the room without uttering a single word. She
called me back; I pretended not to hear her, and took a ticket for
the pit. After the first ballet, finding the whole performance very
poor, I was thinking of going away, when, happening to look towards
the chief box, I saw to my, astonishment that it was tenanted by the
Venetian Manzoni and the celebrated Juliette. The reader will
doubtless remember the ball she gave at my house in Venice, and the
smack with which she saluted my cheek on that occasion.
They had not yet noticed me, and I enquired from the person seated
next to me who was that beautiful lady wearing so many diamonds. He
told me that she was Madame Querini, from Venice, whom Count Spada,
the owner of the theatre, who was sitting near her, had brought with
him from Faenza. I was glad to hear that M. Querini had married her
at last, but I did not think of renewing the acquaintance, for
reasons which my reader cannot have forgotten if he recollects our
quarrel when I had to dress her as an abbe. I was on the point of
going away when she happened to see me and called me. I went up to
her, and, not wishing to be known by anyone, I whispered to her that
my name was Farusi. Manzoni informed me that I was speaking to her
excellency, Madame Querini. "I know it," I said, "through a letter
which I have received from Venice, and I beg to offer my most sincere
congratulations to Madame." She heard me and introduced me to Count
Spada, creating me a baron on the spot. He invited me most kindly to
come to his box, asked me where I came from, where I was going to,
etc., and begged the pleasure of my company at supper for the same
Ten years before, he had been Juliette's friend in Vienna, when Maria
Theresa, having been informed of the pernicious influence of her
beauty, gave her notice to quit the city. She had renewed her
acquaintance with him in Venice, and had contrived to make him take
her to Bologna on a pleasure trip. M. Manzoni, her old follower, who
gave me all this information, accompanied her in order to bear
witness of her good conduct before M. Querini. I must say that
Manzoni was not a well-chosen chaperon.
In Venice she wanted everybody to believe that Querini had married
her secretly, but at a distance of fifty leagues she did not think
such a formality necessary, and she had already been presented by the
general to all the nobility of Cesena as Madame Querini Papozzes.
M. Querini would have been wrong in being jealous of the count, for
he was an old acquaintance who would do no harm. Besides, it is
admitted amongst certain women that the reigning lover who is jealous
of an old acquaintance is nothing but a fool, and ought to be treated
as such. Juliette, most likely afraid of my being indiscreet, had
lost no time in making the first advances, but, seeing that I had
likewise some reason to fear her want of discretion, she felt
reassured. From the first moment I treated her politely, and with
every consideration due to her position.
I found numerous company at the general's, and some pretty women.
Not seeing Juliette, I enquired for her from M. Manzoni, who told me
that she was at the faro table, losing her money. I saw her seated
next to the banker, who turned pale at the sight of my face. He was
no other than the so-called Count Celi. He offered me a card, which
I refused politely, but I accepted Juliette's offer to be her
partner. She had about fifty sequins, I handed her the same sum, and
took a seat near her. After the first round, she asked me if I knew
the banker; Celi had heard the question; I answered negatively. A
lady on my left told me that the banker was Count Alfani. Half an
hour later, Madame Querini went seven and lost, she increased her
stake of ten sequins; it was the last deal of the game, and therefore
the decisive one. I rose from my chair, and fixed my eyes on the
banker's hands. But in spite of that, he cheated before me, and
Just at that moment the general offered her his arm to go to supper;
she left the remainder of her gold on the table, and after supper,
having played again, she lost every sequin.
I enlivened the supper by my stories and witty jests. I captivated
everybody's friendship, and particularly the general's, who, having
heard me say that I was going to Naples only to gratify an amorous
fancy, entreated me to spend a month with him and to sacrifice my
whim. But it was all in vain. My heart was unoccupied; I longed to
see Lucrezia and Therese, whose charms after five years I could
scarcely recollect. I only consented to remain in Cesena the four
days during which the general intended to stay.
The next morning as I was dressing I had a call from the cowardly
Alfani-Celi; I received him with a jeering smile, saying that I had
The hair-dresser being in the room Celi did not answer, but as soon
as we were alone he said,
"How could you possibly expect my visit?"
"I will tell you my reason as soon as you have handed me one hundred
sequins, and you are going to do so at once.'
"Here are fifty which I brought for you; you cannot demand more from
"Thank you, I take them on account, but as I am good-natured I advise
you not to shew yourself this evening in Count Spada's drawing-rooms,
for you would not be admitted, and it would be owing to me."
"I hope that you will think twice before you are guilty of such an
"I have made up my mind; but now leave me."
There was a knock at my door, and the self-styled Count Alfani went
away without giving me the trouble of repeating my order. My new
visitor proved to be the first castrato of the theatre, who brought
an invitation to dinner from Narici. The invitation was curious, and
I accepted it with a smile. The castrato was named Nicolas Peritti;
he pretended to be the grandson of a natural child of Sixtus V.; it
might have been so I shall have to mention him again in fifteen
When I made my appearance at Narici's house I saw Count Alfani, who
certainly did not expect me, and must have taken me for his evil
genius. He bowed to me with great politeness, and begged that I
would listen to a few words in private.
"Here are fifty sequins more," he said; "but as an honest man you can
take them only to give them to Madame Querini. But how can you hand
the amount to her without letting her know that you have forced me to
refund it? You understand what consequences such a confession might
have for me."
"I shall give her the money only when you have left this place; in
the mean time I promise to be discreet, but be careful not to assist
fortune in my presence, or I must act in a manner that will not be
agreeable to you."
"Double the capital of my bank, and we can be partners."
"Your proposal is an insult."
He gave me fifty sequins, and I promised to keep his secret.
There was a numerous attendance in Narici's rooms, especially of
young men, who after dinner lost all their money. I did not play,
and it was a disappointment for my pretty hostess, who had invited me
only because she had judged me as simple as the others. I remained
an indifferent witness of the play, and it gave me an opportunity of
realizing how wise Mahomet had been in forbidding all games of
In the evening after the opera Count Celi had the faro bank, and I
lose two hundred sequins, but I could only accuse ill luck. Madame
Querini won. The next day before supper I broke the bank, and after
supper, feeling tired and well pleased with what I had won, I
returned to the inn.
The following morning, which was the third day, and therefore the
last but one of my stay in Cesena, I called at the general's. I
heard that his adjutant had thrown the cards in Alfani's face, and
that a meeting had been arranged between them for twelve o'clock.
I went to the adjutant's room and offered to be his second, assuring
him that there would be no blood spilt. He declined my offer with
many thanks, and at dinner-time he told me that I had guessed
rightly, for Count Alfani had left for Rome.
"In that case," I said to the guests, "I will take the bank tonight."
After dinner, being alone with Madame Querini, I told her all about
Alfani, alias Celi, and handed her the fifty sequins of which I was
"I suppose," she said, "that by means of this fable you hope to make
me accept fifty sequins, but I thank you, I am not in want of money."
"I give you my word that I have compelled the thief to refund this
money, together with the fifty sequins of which he had likewise
"That may be, but I do not wish to believe you. I beg to inform you
that I am not simple enough to allow myself to be duped, and, what is
worse, cheated in such a manner."
Philosophy forbids a man to feel repentance for a good deed, but he
must certainly have a right to regret such a deed when it is
malevolently misconstrued, and turned against him as a reproach.
In the evening, after the performance, which was to be the last, I
took the bank according to my promise: I lost a few sequins, but was
caressed by everybody, and that is much more pleasant than winning,
when we are not labouring under the hard necessity of making money.
Count Spada, who had got quite fond of me, wanted me to accompany him
to Brisighetta, but I resisted his entreaties because I had firmly
resolved on going to Naples.
The next morning I was awoke by a terrible noise in the passage,
almost at the door of my room.
Getting out of my bed, I open my door to ascertain the cause of the
uproar. I see a troop of 'sbirri' at the door of a chamber, and in
that chamber, sitting up in bed, a fine-looking man who was making
himself hoarse by screaming in Latin against that rabble, the plague
of Italy, and against the inn-keeper who had been rascally enough to
open the door.
I enquire of the inn-keeper what it all means.
"This gentleman," answers the scoundrel, "who, it appears, can only
speak Latin, is in bed with a girl, and the 'sbirri' of the bishop
have been sent to know whether she is truly his wife; all perfectly
regular. If she is his wife, he has only to convince them by shewing
a certificate of marriage, but if she is not, of course he must go to
prison with her. Yet it need not happen, for I undertake to arrange
everything in a friendly manner for a few sequins. I have only to
exchange a few words with the chief of the 'sbirri', and they will
all go away. If you can speak Latin, you had better go in, and make
him listen to reason."
"Who has broken open the door of his room?"
"Nobody; I have opened it myself with the key, as is my duty."
"Yes, the duty of a highway robber, but not of an honest inn-keeper."
Such infamous dealing aroused my indignation, and I made up my mind
to interfere. I enter the room, although I had still my nightcap on,
and inform the gentleman of the cause of the disturbance. He answers
with a laugh that, in the first place, it was impossible to say
whether the person who was in bed with him was a woman, for that
person had only been seen in the costume of a military officer, and
that, in the second place, he did not think that any human being had
a right to compel him to say whether his bed-fellow was his wife or
his mistress, even supposing that his companion was truly a woman.
"At all events," he added, "I am determined not to give one crown to
arrange the affair, and to remain in bed until my door is shut. The
moment I am dressed, I will treat you to an amusing denouement of the
comedy. I will drive away all those scoundrels at the point of my
I then see in a corner a broad sword, and a Hungarian costume looking
like a military uniform. I ask whether he is an officer.
"I have written my name and profession," he answers, "in the hotel
Astonished at the absurdity of the inn-keeper, I ask him whether it
is so; he confesses it, but adds that the clergy have the right to
"The insult you have offered to that officer, Mr. Landlord, will cost
you very dear."
His only answer is to laugh in my face. Highly enraged at seeing
such a scoundrel laugh at me, I take up the officer's quarrel warmly,
and asked him to entrust his passport to me for a few minutes.
"I have two," he says; "therefore I can let you have one." And
taking the document out of his pocket-book, he hands it to me. The
passport was signed by Cardinal Albani. The officer was a captain in
a Hungarian regiment belonging to the empress and queen. He was from
Rome, on his way to Parma with dispatches from Cardinal Albani
Alexander to M. Dutillot, prime minister of the Infante of Parma.
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