The Complete Memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 28 out of 70
"You must have made that at the lowest calculation."
"On the contrary, I give you my assurance, that if my claim for
brokerage is not allowed, the transaction will prove absolutely
ruinous to me."
"Ah! no doubt you are right to take that tone. Meanwhile, everyone
wants to make your acquaintance, for France is deeply indebted to
you. You have caused the funds to recover in a very marked degree."
After the play was over I went to Silvia's, where I was received as
if I had been the favourite child of the family; but on the other
hand I gave them certain proofs that I wished to be regarded in that
light. I was impressed with the idea that to their unshaken
friendship I owed all my good luck, and I made the father, mother,
the daughter, and the two sons, receive the presents I had got for
them. The best was for the mother, who handed it on to her daughter.
It was a pair of diamond ear-rings of great beauty, for which I had
given fifteen thousand francs. Three days after I sent her a box
containing fine linen from Holland, and choice Mechlin and Alencon
lace. Mario, who liked smoking, got a gold pipe; the father a choice
gold and enamelled snuff-box, and I gave a repeater to the younger
son, of whom I was very fond. I shall have occasion later on to
speak of this lad, whose natural qualities were far superior to his
position in life. But, you will ask, was I rich enough to make such
presents? No, I was not, and I knew it perfectly well; but I gave
these presents because I was afraid of not being able to do so if I
I set out for Versailles at day-break, and M. de Choiseul received me
as before, his hair was being dressed, but for a moment he laid down
his pen, which shewed that I had become a person of greater
importance in his eyes. After a slight but grateful compliment, he
told me that if I thought myself capable of negotiating a loan of a
hundred millions to bear interest at four per cent., he would do all
in his power to help me. My answer was that I would think it over
when I heard how much I was to have for what I had done already.
"But everybody says that you have made two hundred thousand florins
"That would not be so bad; half a million of francs would be a fair
foundation on which to build a fortune; but I can assure your
excellence that there is not a word of truth in the report. I defy
anyone to prove it; and till some substantial proof is offered, I
think I can lay claim to brokerage."
"True, true. Go to the comptroller-general and state your views to
M. de Boulogne stopped the occupation on which he was engaged to give
me a most friendly greeting, but when I said that he owed me a
hundred thousand florins he smiled sardonically.
"I happen to know," he said, "that you have bills of exchange to the
amount of a hundred thousand crowns payable to yourself."
"Certainly, but that money has no connection with my mission, as I
can prove to you by referring you to M. d'Afri. I have in my head an
infallible project for increasing the revenue by twenty millions, in
a manner which will cause no irritation."
"You don't say so! Communicate your plan, and I promise to get you a
pension of a hundred thousand francs, and letters of nobility as
well, if you like to become a Frenchman."
"I will think it over."
On leaving M. de Boulogne I went to the Palace, where a ballet was
going on before the Marquise de Pompadour.
She bowed to me as soon as she saw me, and on my approaching her she
told me that I was an able financier, and that the "gentlemen below"
could not appreciate my merits. She had not forgotten what I had
said to her eight years before in the theatre at Fontainebleau. I
replied that all good gifts were from above, whither, with her help,
I hoped to attain.
On my return to Paris I went to the "Hotel Bourbon" to inform my
patron of the result of my journey. His advice to me was to continue
to serve the Government well, as its good fortune would come to be
mine. On my telling him of my meeting with the X. C. V.'s, he said
that M. de la Popeliniere was going to marry the elder daughter.
When I got to my house my son was nowhere to be found. My landlady
told me that a great lady had come to call on my lord, and that she
had taken him away with her. Guessing that this was Madame d'Urfe, I
went to bed without troubling myself any further. Early next morning
my clerk brought me a letter. It came from the old attorney, uncle
to Gaetan's wife, whom I had helped to escape from the jealous fury
of her brutal husband. The attorney begged me to come and speak to
him at the courts, or to make an appointment at some place where he
could see me. I went to the courts and found him there.
"My niece," he began, "found herself obliged to go into a convent;
and from this vantage ground she is pleading against her husband,
with the aid of a barrister, who will be responsible for the costs.
However, to win our case, we require the evidence of yourself, Count
Tiretta, and other servants who witnessed the scene at the inn."
I did all I could, and four months afterwards Gaetan simplified
matters by a fraudulent bankruptcy, which obliged him to leave
France: in due time and place, I shall have something more to say
about him. As for his wife, who was young and pretty, she paid her
counsel in love's money, and was very happy with him, and may be
happy still for all I know, but I have entirely lost sight of her.
After my interview with the old attorney I went to Madame---- to see
Tiretta, who was out. Madame was still in love with him, and he
continued to make a virtue of necessity. I left my address, and went
to the "Hotel de Bretagne" to pay my first call on Madame X. C. V.
The lady, though she was not over fond of me, received me with great
politeness. I possibly cut a better figure in her eyes when rich,
and at Paris, then when we were in Venice. We all know that diamonds
have the strange power of fascination, and that they form an
excellent substitute for virtue!
Madame X. C. V. had with her an old Greek named Zandiri, brother to
M. de Bragadin's major-domo, who was just dead. I uttered some
expressions of sympathy, and the boor did not take the trouble to
answer me, but I was avenged for his foolish stiffness by the
enthusiasm with which I was welcomed by everyone else. The eldest
girl, her sisters, and the two sons, almost overwhelmed me with
friendliness. The eldest son was only fourteen, and was a young
fellow of charming manners, but evidently extremely independent, and
sighed for the time when he would be able to devote himself to a
career of profligacy for which he was well fitted. Mdlle. X. C. V.
was both beautiful and charming in her manner, and had received an
excellent education of which, however, she made no parade. One could
not stay in her presence without loving her, but she was no flirt,
and I soon saw that she held out no vain hopes to those who had the
misfortune not to please her. Without being rude she knew how to be
cold, and it was all the worse for those whom her coldness did not
shew that their quest was useless.
The first hour I passed in her company chained me a captive to her
triumphant car. I told her as much, and she replied that she was
glad to have such a captive. She took the place in my heart where
Esther had reigned a week before, but I freely confess that Esther
yielded only because she was away. As to my attachment to Sylvia's
daughter, it was of such a nature as not to hinder me falling in love
with any other woman who chanced to take my fancy. In the
libertine's heart love cannot exist without substantial food, and
women who have had some experience of the world are well aware of
this fact. The youthful Baletti was a beginner, and so knew nothing
of these things.
M. Farsetti, a Venetian of noble birth, a knight of Malta, a great
student of the occult sciences, and a good Latin versifier, came in
at one o'clock. Dinner was just ready and Madame X. C. V. begged him
to stay. She asked me also to dine with them, but wishing to dine
with Madame d'Urfe I refused the invitation for the nonce.
M. Farsetti, who had known me very well at Venice, only noticed me by
a side-glance, and without shewing any vexation I paid him back in
the same coin. He smiled at Mdlle. X. C. V.'s praise of my courage.
She noticed his expression, and as if to punish him for it went on to
say that I had now the admiration of every Venetian, and that the
French were anxious to have the honour of calling me a fellow-
citizen. M. Farsetti asked me if my post at the lottery paid well. I
"Oh, yes, well enough for me to pay my clerks' salaries."
He understood the drift of my reply, and Mdlle. X. C. V. smiled.
I found my supposed son with Madame d'Urfe, or rather in that amiable
visionary's arms. She hastened to apologize for carrying him off,
and I turned it off with a jest, having no other course to take.
"I made him sleep with me," she said, "but I shall be obliged to
deprive myself of this privilege for the future, unless he promises
to be more discreet."
I thought the idea a grand one, and the little fellow, in spite of
his blushes, begged her to say how he had offended.
"We shall have the Comte de St. Germain," said Madame d'Urfe, "to
dinner. I know he amuses you, and I like you to enjoy yourself in my
"For that, madam, your presence is all I need; nevertheless, I thank
you for considering me."
In due course St. Germain arrived, and in his usual manner sat
himself down, not to eat but to talk. With a face of imperturbable
gravity he told the most incredible stories, which one had to pretend
to believe, as he was always either the hero of the tale or an eye
witness of the event. All the same, I could not help bursting into
laughter when he told us of something that happened as he was dining
with the Fathers of the Council of Trent.
Madame d'Urfe wore on her neck a large magnet. She said that it
would one day happen that this magnet would attract the lightning,
and that she would consequently soar into the sun. I longed to tell
her that when, she got there she could be no higher up than on the
earth, but I restrained myself; and the great charlatan hastened to
say that there could be no doubt about it, and that he, and he only,
could increase the force of the magnet a thousand times. I said,
dryly, that I would wager twenty thousand crowns he would not so much
as double its force, but Madame d'Urfe would not let us bet, and
after dinner she told me in private that I should have lost, as St.
Germain was a magician. Of course I agreed with her.
A few days later, the magician set out for Chambord, where the king
had given him a suite of rooms and a hundred thousand francs, that he
might be at liberty to work on the dyes which were to assure the
superiority of French materials over those of any other country. St.
Germain had got over the king by arranging a laboratory where he
occasionally tried to amuse himself, though he knew little about
chemistry, but the king was the victim of an almost universal
weariness. To enjoy a harem recruited from amongst the most
ravishing beauties, and often from the ranks of neophytes, with whom
pleasure had its difficulties, one would have needed to be a god, and
Louis XV. was only a man after all.
It was the famous marquise who had introduced the adept to the king
in the hope of his distracting the monarch's weariness, by giving him
a taste for chemistry. Indeed Madame de Pompadour was under the
impression that St. Germain had given her the water of perpetual
youth, and therefore felt obliged to make the chemist a good return.
This wondrous water, taken according to the charlatan's directions,
could not indeed make old age retire and give way to youth, but
according to the marquise it would preserve one in statu quo for
As a matter of fact, the water, or the giver of it, had worked
wonders, if not on her body, at least on her mind; she assured the
king that she was not getting older. The king was as much deluded by
this grand impostor as she was, for one day he shewed the Duc des
Deux-Ponts a diamond of the first water, weighing twelve carats,
which he fancied he had made himself. "I melted down," said Louis
XV., "small diamonds weighing twenty-four carats, and obtained this
one large one weighing twelve." Thus it came to pass that the
infatuated monarch gave the impostor the suite formerly occupied by
Marshal Saxe. The Duc des Deux-Ponts told me this story with his own
lips, one evening, when I was supping with him and a Swede, the Comte
de Levenhoop, at Metz.
Before I left Madame d'Urfe, I told her that the lad might be he who
should make her to be born again, but that she would spoil all if she
did not wait for him to attain the age of puberty. After what she
had said about his misbehavior, the reader will guess what made me
say this. She sent him to board with Viar, gave him masters on
everything, and disguised him under the name of the Comte d'Aranda,
although he was born at Bayreuth, and though his mother never had
anything to do with a Spaniard of that name. It was three or four
months before I went to see him, as I was afraid of being insulted on
account of the name which the visionary Madame d'Urfe had given him.
One day Tiretta came to see me in a fine coach. He told me that his
elderly mistress wanted to become his wife, but that he would not
hear of it, though she offered to endow him with all her worldly
goods. I told him that if he gave in he might pay his debts, return
to Trevisa, and live pleasantly there; but his destiny would not
allow him to take my advice.
I had resolved on taking a country house, and fixed on one called
"Little Poland," which pleased me better than all the others I had
seen. It was well furnished, and was a hundred paces distant from
the Madeleine Gate. It was situated on slightly elevated ground near
the royal park, behind the Duc de Grammont's garden, and its owner
had given it the name of "Pleasant Warsaw." It had two gardens, one
of which was on a level with the first floor, three reception rooms,
large stables, coach houses, baths, a good cellar, and a splendid
kitchen. The master was called "The Butter King," and always wrote
himself down so; the name had been given to him by Louis XV. on the
monarch's stopping at the house and liking the butter. The "Butter
King" let me his house for a hundred Louis per annum, and he gave me
an excellent cook called "The Pearl," a true blue-ribbon of the order
of cooks, and to her he gave charge of all his furniture and the
plate I should want for a dinner of six persons, engaging to get me
as much plate as I wanted at the hire of a sous an ounce. He also
promised to let me have what wine I wanted, and said all he had was
of the best, and, moreover, cheaper than I could get it at Paris, as
he had no gate-money to pay on it.
Matters having been arranged on these terms, in the course of a week
I got a good coachman, two fine carriages, five horses, a groom, and
two footmen. Madame d'Urfe, who was my first guest, was delighted
with my new abode, and as she imagined that I had done it all for
her, I left her in that flattering opinion. I never could believe in
the morality of snatching from poor mortal man the delusions which
make them happy. I also let her retain the notion that young
d'Aranda, the count of her own making, was a scion of the nobility,
that he was born for a mysterious operation unknown to the rest of
mankind, that I was only his caretaker (here I spoke the truth), and
that he must die and yet not cease to live. All these whimsical
ideas were the products of her brain, which was only occupied with
the impossible, and I thought the best thing I could do was to agree
with everything. If I had tried to undeceive her, she would have
accused me of want of trust in her, for she was convinced that all
her knowledge was revealed to her by her genius, who spoke to her
only by night. After she had dined with me I took her back to her
house, full of happiness.
Camille sent me a lottery ticket, which she had invested in at my
office, and which proved to be a winning one, I think, for a thousand
crowns or thereabouts. She asked me to come and sup with her, and
bring the money with me. I accepted her invitation, and found her
surrounded by all the girls she knew and their lovers. After supper
I was asked to go to the opera with them, but we had scarcely got
there when I lost my party in the crowd. I had no mask on, and I
soon found myself attacked by a black domino, whom I knew to be a
woman, and as she told me a hundred truths about myself in a falsetto
voice, I was interested, and determined on finding out who she was.
At last I succeeded in persuading her to come with me into a box, and
as soon as we were in and I had taken off her mask I was astonished
to find she was Mdlle. X. C. V.
"I have come to the ball," said she, "with one of my sisters, my
elder brother, and M. Farsetti. I left them to go into a box and
change my domino:
"They must feel very uneasy."
"I dare say they do, but I am not going to take pity on them till the
end of the ball."
Finding myself alone with her, and certain of having her in my
company for the rest of the night, I began to talk of our old love-
making; and I took care to say that I was more in love with her than
ever. She listened to me kindly, did not oppose my embraces, and by
the few obstacles she placed in my way I judged that the happy moment
was not far off. Nevertheless I felt that I must practice restraint
that evening, and she let me see that she was obliged to me.
"I heard at Versailles, my dear mademoiselle, that you are going to
marry M. de la Popeliniere."
"So they say. My mother wishes me to do so, and the old financier
fancies he has got me in his talons already; but he makes a mistake,
as I will never consent to such a thing."
"He is old, but he is very rich."
"He is very rich and very generous, for he promises me a dowry of a
million if I become a widow without children; and if I had a son he
would leave me all his property."
"You wouldn't have much difficulty in complying with the second
"I shall never have anything to do with his money, for I should never
make my life miserable by a marriage with a man whom I do not love,
while I do love another."
"Another! Who is the fortunate mortal to whom you have given your
"I do not know if my loved one is fortunate. My lover is a Venetian,
and my mother knows of it; but she says that I should not be happy,
that he is not worthy of me."
"Your mother is a strange woman, always crossing your affections."
"I cannot be angry with her. She may possibly be wrong, but she
certainly loves me. She would rather that I should marry M.
Farsetti, who would be very glad to have me, but I detest him."
"Has he made a declaration in terms?"
"He has, and all the marks of contempt I have given him seem to have
"He clings hard to hope; but the truth is you have fascinated him."
"Possibly, but I do not think him susceptible of any tender or
generous feeling. He is a visionary; surly, jealous, and envious in
his disposition. When he heard me expressing myself about you in the
manner you deserve, he had the impudence to say to my mother before
my face that she ought not to receive you."
"He deserves that I should give him a lesson in manners, but there
are other ways in which he may be punished. I shall be delighted to
serve you in any way I can."
"Alas! if I could only count on your friendship I should be happy."
The sigh with which she uttered these words sent fire through my
veins, and I told her that I was her devoted slave; that I had fifty
thousand crowns which were at her service, and that I would risk my
life to win her favours. She replied that she was truly grateful to
me, and as she threw her arms about my neck our lips met, but I saw
that she was weeping, so I took care that the fire which her kisses
raised should be kept within bounds. She begged me to come and see
her often, promising that as often as she could manage it we should
be alone. I could ask no more, and after I had promised to come and
dine with them on the morrow, we parted.
I passed an hour in walking behind her, enjoying my new position of
intimate friend, and I then returned to my Little Poland. It was a
short distance, for though I lived in the country I could get to any
part of Paris in a quarter of an hour. I had a clever coachman, and
capital horses not used to being spared. I got them from the royal
stables, and as soon as I lost one I got another from the same place,
having to pay two hundred francs. This happened to me several times,
for, to my mind, going fast is one of the greatest pleasures which
Having accepted an invitation to dinner at the X. C. V.'s, I did not
give myself much time for sleep, and I went out on foot with a cloak
on. The snow was falling in large flakes, and when I got to madame's
I was as white as a sheet from head to foot. She gave me a hearty
welcome, laughing, and saying that her daughter had been telling her
how she had puzzled me, and that she was delighted to see me come to
dinner without ceremony. "But," added she, "it's Friday today, and
you will have to fast, though, after all, the fish is very good.
Dinner is not ready yet. You had better go and see my daughter, who
is still a-bed."
As may be imagined, this invitation had not to be repeated, for a
pretty woman looks better in bed than anywhere else. I found Mdlle.
X. C. V. sitting up in bed writing, but she stopped as soon as she
"How is this, sweet lie-a-bed, not up yet?"
"Yes, I am staying in bed partly because I feel lazy, and partly
because I am freer here."
"I was afraid you were not quite well."
"Nor am I. However, we will say no more about that now. I am just
going to take some soup, as those who foolishly establish the
institution of fasting were not polite enough to ask my opinion on
the subject. It does not agree with my health, and I don't like it,
so I am not going to get up even to sit at table, though I shall thus
deprive myself of your society."
I naturally told her that in her absence dinner would have no savour;
and I spoke the truth.
As the presence of her sister did not disturb us, she took out of her
pocket-book an epistle in verse which I had addressed to her when her
mother had forbidden me the house. "This fatal letter," said she,
"which you called 'The Phoenix,' has shaped my life and may prove the
cause of my death."
I had called it the Phoenix because, after bewailing my unhappy lot,
I proceeded to predict how she would afterwards give her heart to a
mortal whose qualities would make him deserve the name of Phoenix. A
hundred lines were taken up in the description of these imaginary
mental and moral characteristics, and certainly the being who should
have them all would be right worthy of worship, for he would be
rather a god than a man.
"Alas!" said Mdlle. X. C. V., "I fell in love with this imaginary
being, and feeling certain that such an one must exist I set myself
to look for him. After six months I thought I had found him. I gave
him my heart, I received his, we loved each other fondly. But for
the last four months we have been separated, and during the whole
time I have only had one letter from him. Yet I must not blame him,
for I know he cannot help it. Such, is my sorry fate: I can neither
hear from him nor write to him:"
This story was a confirmation of a theory of mine namely, that the
most important events in our lives proceed often from the most
trifling causes. My epistle was nothing better than a number of
lines of poetry more or less well written, and the being I had
delineated was certainly not to be found, as he surpassed by far all
human perfections, but a woman's heart travels so quickly and so far!
Mdlle. X. C. V. took the thing literally, and fell in love with a
chimera of goodness, and then was fain to turn this into a real
lover, not thinking of the vast difference between the ideal and the
real. For all that, when she thought that she had found the original
of my fancy portrait, she had no difficulty in endowing him with all
the good qualities I had pictured. Of course Mdlle. X. C. V. would
have fallen in love if I had never written her a letter in verse, but
she would have done so in a different manner, and probably with
As soon as dinner was served we were summoned to do justice to the
choice fish which M. de la Popeliniere had provided. Madame X. C. V.
a narrowminded Greek, was naturally bigoted and superstitious. In
the mind of a silly woman the idea of an alliance between the most
opposite of beings, God and the Devil, seems quite natural. A priest
had told her that, since she had converted her husband, her salvation
was secure, for the Scriptures solemnly promised a soul for a soul to
every one who would lead a heretic or a heathen within the fold of
the church. And as Madame X. C. V. had converted her husband, she
felt no anxiety about the life of the world to come, as she had done
all that was necessary. However, she ate fish on the days appointed;
the reason being that she preferred it to flesh.
Dinner over, I returned to the lady's bedside, and there stayed till
nearly nine o'clock, keeping my passions well under control all the
time. I was foppish enough to think that her feelings were as lively
as mine, and I did not care to shew myself less self-restrained than
she, though I knew then, as I know now, that this was a false line of
argument. It is the same with opportunity as with fortune; one must
seize them when they come to us, or else they go by, often to return
Not seeing Farsetti at the table, I suspected there had been a
quarrel, and I asked my sweetheart about it; but she told me I was
mistaken in supposing they had quarreled with him, and that the
reason of his absence was that he would never leave his house on a
Friday. The deluded man had had his horoscope drawn, and learning by
it that he would be assassinated on a Friday he resolved always to
shut himself up on that day. He was laughed at, but persisted in the
same course till he died four years ago at the age of seventy. He
thought to prove by the success of his precautions that a man's
destiny depends on his discretion, and on the precautions he takes to
avoid the misfortunes of which he has had warning. The line of
argument holds good in all cases except when the misfortunes are
predicted in a horoscope; for either the ills predicted are
avoidable, in which case the horoscope is a useless piece of folly,
or else the horoscope is the interpreter of destiny, in which case
all the precautions in the world are of no avail. The Chevalier
Farsetti was therefore a fool to imagine he had proved anything at
all. He would have proved a good deal for many people if he had gone
out on a Friday, and had chanced to have been assassinated. Picas de
la Mirandola, who believed in astrology, says, "I have no doubt
truly, 'Astra influunt, non cogunt'. "But would it have been a real
proof of the truth of astrology, if Farsetti had been assassinated on
a Friday? In my opinion, certainly not.
The Comte d'Eigreville had introduced me to his sister, the Comtesse
du Remain, who had been wanting to make my acquaintance ever since
she had heard of my oracle. It was not long before I made friends
with her husband and her two daughters, the elder of whom, nicknamed
"Cotenfau," married M. de Polignac later on. Madame du Remain was
handsome rather than pretty, but she won the love of all by her
kindness, her frank courtesy, and her eagerness to be of service to
her friends. She had a magnificent figure, and would have awed the
whole bench of judges if she had pleaded before them.
At her house I got to know Mesdames de Valbelle and de Rancerolles,
the Princess de Chimai, and many others who were then in the best
society of Paris. Although Madame du Remain was not a proficient in
the occult sciences, she had nevertheless consulted my oracle more
frequently than Madame d'Urfe. She was of the utmost service to me
in connection with an unhappy circumstance of which I shall speak
The day after my long conversation with Mdlle. X. C. V., my servant
told me that there was a young man waiting who wanted to give me a
letter with his own hands. I had him in, and on my asking him from
whom the letter came, he replied that I should find all particulars
in the letter, and that he had orders to wait for an answer. The
epistle ran as follows:
"I am writing this at two o'clock in the morning. I am weary and in
need of rest, but a burden on my soul deprives me of sleep. The
secret I am about to tell you will no longer be so grievous when I
have confided in you; I shall feel eased by placing it in your
breast. I am with child, and my situation drives me to despair. I
was obliged to write to you because I felt I could not say it. Give
me a word in reply."
My feelings on reading the above may be guessed. I was petrified
with astonishment and could only write, "I will be with you at eleven
No one should say that he has passed through great misfortunes unless
they have proved too great for his mind to bear. The confidence of
Mdlle. X. C. V. shewed me that she was in need of support. I
congratulated myself on having the preference, and I vowed to do my
best for her did it cost me my life. These were the thoughts of a
lover, but for all that I could not conceal from myself the
imprudence of the step she had taken. In such cases as these there
is always the choice between speaking or writing, and the only
feeling which can give the preference to writing is false shame, at
bottom mere cowardice. If I had not been in love with her, I should
have found it easier to have refused my aid in writing than if she
had spoken to me, but I loved her to distraction.
"Yes," said I to myself, "she can count on me. Her mishap makes her
all the dearer to me."
And below this there was another voice, a voice which whispered to me
that if I succeeded in saving her my reward was sure. I am well
aware that more than one grave moralist will fling stones at me for
this avowal, but my answer is that such men cannot be in love as I
I was punctual to my appointment, and found the fair unfortunate at
the door of the hotel.
"You are going out, are you? Where are you going?"
"I am going to mass at the Church of the Augustinians."
"Is this a saint's day?"
"No; but my mother makes me go every day."
"I will come with you."
"Yes do, give me your arm; we will go into the cloisters and talk
Mdlle. X. C. V. was accompanied by her maid, but she knew better
than to be in the way, so we left her in the cloisters. As soon as
we were alone she said to me,
"Have you read my letter?"
"Yes, of course; here it is, burn it yourself."
"No, keep it, and do so with your own hands."
"I see you trust in me, and I assure you I will not abuse your
"I am sure you will not. I am four months with child; I can doubt it
no longer, and the thought maddens me!"
"Comfort yourself, we will find some way to get over it."
"Yes; I leave all to you. You must procure an abortion."
"Never, dearest! that is a crime!"
"Alas! I know that well; but it is not a greater crime than suicide,
and there lies my choice: either to destroy the wretched witness of
my shame, or to poison myself. For the latter alternative I have
everything ready. You are my only friend, and it is for you to
decide which it shall be. Speak to me! Are you angry that I have
not gone to the Chevalier Farsetti before you?"
She saw my astonishment, and stopped short, and tried to wipe away
the tears which escaped from her eyes. My heart bled for her.
"Laying the question of crime on one side," said I, "abortion is out
of our power. If the means employed are not violent they are
uncertain, and if they are violent they are dangerous to the mother.
I will never risk becoming your executioner; but reckon on me, I will
not forsake you. Your honour is as dear to me as your life. Becalm,
and henceforth think that the peril is mine, not yours. Make up your
mind that I shall find some way of escape, and that there will be no
need to cut short that life, to preserve which I would gladly die.
And allow me to say that when I read your note I felt glad, I could
not help it, that at such an emergency you chose me before all others
to be your helper. You will find that your trust was not given in
vain, for no one loves you as well as I, and no one is so fain to
help you. Later you shall begin to take the remedies I will get for
you, but I warn you to be on your guard, for this is a serious
matter--one of life and death. Possibly you have already told
somebody about it--your maid or one of your sisters?"
"I have not told anybody but you, not even the author of my shame.
I tremble when I think what my mother would do and say if she found
out my situation. I am afraid she will draw her conclusions from my
"So far there is nothing to be observed in that direction, the beauty
of the outline still remains intact."
"But every day increases its size, and for that reason we must be
quick in what we do. You must find a surgeon who does not know my
name and take me to him to be bled."
"I will not run the risk, it might lead to the discovery of the whole
affair. I will bleed you myself; it is a simple operation."
"How grateful I am to you! I feel as if you had already brought me
from death to life. What I should like you to do would be to take me
to a midwife's. We can easily go without attracting any notice at
the first ball at the opera."
"Yes, sweetheart, but that step is not necessary, and it might lead
to our betrayal."
"No, no, in this great town there are midwives in every quarter, and
we should never be known; we might keep our masks on all the time.
Do me this kindness. A midwife's opinion is certainly worth having."
I could not refuse her request, but I made her agree to wait till the
last ball, as the crowd was always greater, and we had a better
chance of going out free from observation. I promised to be there in
a black domino with a white mask in the Venetian fashion, and a rose
painted beside the left eye. As soon as she saw me go out she was to
follow me into a carriage. All this was carried out, but more of it
I returned with her, and dined with them without taking any notice of
Farsetti, who was also at the table, and had seen me come back from
mass with her. We did not speak a word to one another; he did not
like me and I despised him.
I must here relate a grievous mistake of which I was guilty, and
which I have not yet forgiven myself.
I had promised to take Mdlle. X. C. V. to a midwife, but I certainly
ought to have taken her to a respectable woman's, for all we wanted
to know was how a pregnant woman should regulate her diet and manner
of living. But my evil genius took me by the Rue St. Louis, and
there I saw the Montigni entering her house with a pretty girl whom I
did not know, and so out of curiosity I went in after them. After
amusing myself there, with Mdlle. X. C. V. running in my head all the
time, I asked the woman to give me the address of a midwife, as I
wanted to consult one. She told me of a house in the Marais, where
according to her dwelt the pearl of midwives, and began telling me
some stories of her exploits, which all went to prove that the woman
was an infamous character. I took her address, however, and as I
should have to go there by night, I went the next day to see where
the house was.
Mdlle. X. C. V. began to take the remedies which I brought her, which
ought to have weakened and destroyed the result of love, but as she
did not experience any benefit, she was impatient to consult a
midwife. On the night of the last ball she recognized me as we had
agreed, and followed me out into the coach she saw me enter, and in
less than a quarter of an hour we reached the house of shame.
A woman of about fifty received us with great politeness, and asked
what she could do.
Mdlle. X. C. V. told her that she believed herself pregnant, and
that she desired some means of concealing her misfortune. The wretch
answered with a smile that she might as well tell her plainly that it
would be easy to procure abortion. "I will do your business," said
she, "for fifty Louis, half to be paid in advance on account of
drugs, and the rest when it's all over. I will trust in your
honesty, and you will have to trust in mine. Give me the twenty-five
Louis down, and come or send to-morrow for the drugs, and
instructions for using them."
So saying she turned up her clothes without any ceremony, and as I,
at Mdlle. X. C. V.'s request, looked away, she felt her and
pronounced, as she let down her dress, that she was not beyond the
"If my drugs," said she, "contrary to my expectation, do not do any
good, we will try some other ways, and, in any case, if I do not
succeed in obliging you I will return you your money."
"I don't doubt it for a moment," said I, "but would you tell me what
are those other ways!"
"I should tell the lady how to destroy the foetus."
I might have told her that to kill the child meant giving a mortal
wound to the mother, but I did not feel inclined to enter into a
argument with this vile creature.
"If madame decides on taking your advice," said I, "I will bring you
the money for drugs to-morrow."
I gave her two Louis and left. Mdlle. X. C. V. told me that she had
no doubt of the infamy of this woman, as she was sure it was
impossible to destroy the offspring without the risk of killing the
mother also. "My only trust," said she, "is in you." I encouraged
her in this idea, dissuading her from any criminal attempts, and
assured her over and over again that she should not find her trust in
me misplaced. All at once she complained of feeling cold, and asked
if we had not time to warm ourselves in Little Poland, saying that
she longed to see my pretty house. I was surprised and delighted
with the idea. The night was too dark for her to see the exterior
charms of my abode, she would have to satisfy herself with the
inside, and leave the rest to her imagination. I thought my hour had
come. I made the coach stop and we got down and walked some way, and
then took another at the corner of the Rue de la Ferannerie. I
promised the coachman six francs beyond his fare, and in a quarter of
an hour he put us down at my door.
I rang with the touch of the master, the Pearl opened the door, and
told me that there was nobody within, as I very well knew, but it was
her habit to do so.
"Quick!" said I, "light us a fire, and bring some glasses and a
bottle of champagne."
"Would you like an omelette?"
"Oh, I should like an omelette so much!" said Mdlle. X. C. V. She
was ravishing, and her laughing air seemed to promise me a moment of
bliss. I sat down before the blazing fire and made her sit on my
knee, covering her with kisses which she gave me back as lovingly. I
had almost won what I wanted when she asked me in a sweet voice to
stop. I obeyed, thinking it would please her, feeling sure that she
only delayed my victory to make it more complete, and that she would
surrender after the champagne. I saw love, kindness, trust, and
gratitude shining in her face, and I should have been sorry for her
to think that I claimed her as a mere reward. No, I wanted her love,
and nothing but her love.
At last we got to our last glass of champagne, we rose from the
table, and sentimentally but with gentle force I laid her on a couch
and held her amorously in my arms. But instead of giving herself up
to my embraces she resisted them, at first by those prayers which
usually make lovers more enterprising, then by serious remonstrances,
and at last by force. This was too much, the mere idea of using
violence has always shocked me, and I am still of opinion that the
only pleasure in the amorous embrace springs from perfect union and
agreement. I pleaded my cause in every way, I painted myself as the
lover flattered, deceived, despised! At last I told her that I had
had a cruel awakening, and I saw that the shaft went home. I fell on
my knees and begged her to forgive me. "Alas!" said she, in a voice
full of sadness, "I am no longer mistress of my heart, and have far
greater cause for grief than you." The tears flowed fast down her
cheeks, her head rested on my shoulder, and our lips met; but for all
that the piece was over. The idea of renewing the attack never came
into my head, and if it had I should have scornfully rejected it.
After a long silence, of which we both stood in need, she to conquer
her shame, and I to repress my anger, we put on our masks and
returned to the opera. On our way she dared to tell me that she
should be obliged to decline my friendship if she had to pay for it
"The emotions of love," I replied, "should yield to those of honour,
and your honour as well as mine require us to continue friends. What
I would have done for love I will now do for devoted friendship, and
for the future I will die rather than make another attempt to gain
those favours of which I thought you deemed me worthy."
We separated at the opera, and the vast crowd made me lose sight of
her in an instant. Next day she told me that she had danced all
night. She possibly hoped to find in that exercise the cure which no
medicine seemed likely to give her.
I returned to my house in a bad humour, trying in vain to justify a
refusal which seemed humiliating and almost incredible. My good
sense shewed me, in spite of all sophisms, that I had been grievously
insulted. I recollected the witty saying of Populia, who was never
unfaithful to her husband except when she was with child; "Non tollo
vectorem," said she, "nisi navi plena."
I felt certain that I was not loved, and the thought grieved me; and
I considered that it would be unworthy of me to love one whom I could
no longer hope to possess. I resolved to avenge myself by leaving
her to her fate, feeling that I could not allow myself to be duped as
I had been.
The night brought wisdom with it, and when I awoke in the morning my
mind was calm and I was still in love. I determined to act
generously by the unfortunate girl. Without my aid she would be
ruined; my course, then, would be to continue my services and to shew
myself indifferent to her favours. The part was no easy one, but I
played it right well, and at last my reward came of itself.
I Continue My Relations With Mdlle. X. C. V.--Vain Attempts to
Procure Abortion--The Aroph--She Flies From Home and Takes Refuge in
The difficulties I encountered only served to increase my love for my
charming Englishwoman. I went to see her every morning, and as my
interest in her condition was genuine, she could have no suspicion
that I was acting a part, or attribute my care of her to anything but
the most delicate feelings. For her part she seemed well pleased in
the alteration of my behaviour, though her satisfaction may very
probably have been assumed. I understood women well enough to know
that though she did not love me she was probably annoyed at seeing my
new character sit upon me so easily.
One morning in the midst of an unimportant and disconnected
conversation, she complimented me upon my strength of mind in
subduing my passion, adding, with a smile, that my desire could not
have pricked me very sharply, seeing that I had cured myself so well
in the course of a week. I quietly replied that I owed my cure not
to the weakness of my passion but to my self-respect.
"I know my own character," I said, "and without undue presumption, I
think I may say that I am worthy of a woman's love. Naturally, after
your convincing me that you think differently, I feel humiliated and
indignant. Do you know what effect such feelings have on the heart?"
"Alas!" said she, "I know too well. Their effect is to inspire one
with contempt for her who gave rise to them."
"That is going too far, at least in my case. My indignation was
merely succeeded by a renewed confidence in myself, and a
determination to be revenged."
"To be revenged! In what way?"
"I wish to compel you to esteem me, by proving to you that I am lord
of myself, and can pass by with indifference what I once so ardently
desired. I do not know whether I have succeeded yet, but I may say
that I can now contemplate your charms without desiring to possess
"You are making a mistake, for I never ceased to esteem you, and I
esteemed you as much a week ago as I do to-day. Nor for a moment I
did think you capable of leaving me to my fate as a punishment for
having refused to give way to your transports, and I am glad that I
read your character rightly."
We went on to speak of the opiate I made her take, and as she saw no
change in her condition she wanted me to increase the dose--a request
I took care not to grant, as I knew that more than half a drachm
might kill her. I also forbade her to bleed herself again, as she
might do herself a serious injury without gaining anything by it.
Her maid, of whom she had been obliged to make a confidante, had had
her bled by a student, her lover. I told Mdlle. X. C. V. that if
she wanted these people to keep her counsel she must be liberal with
them, and she replied that she had no money. I offered her money and
she accepted fifty louis, assuring me that she would repay me that
sum which she needed for her brother Richard. I had not as much
money about me, but I sent her the same day a packet of twelve
hundred francs with a note in which I begged her to have recourse to
me in all her necessities. Her brother got the money, and thought
himself authorized to apply to me for aid in a much more important
He was a young man and a profligate, and had got into a house of ill-
fame, from which he came out in sorry plight. He complained bitterly
that M. Farsetti had refused to lend him four louis, and he asked me
to speak to his mother that she might pay for his cure. I consented,
but when his mother heard what was the matter with him, she said it
would be much better to leave him as he was, as this was the third
time he had been in this condition, and that to have him cured was a
waste of money, as no sooner was he well than he began his dissipated
life afresh. She was quite right, for I had him cured at my expense
by an able surgeon, and he was in the same way a month after. This
young man seemed intended by nature for shameful excesses, for at the
age of fourteen he was an accomplished profligate.
His sister was now six months with child, and as her figure grew
great so did her despair. She resolved not to leave her bed, and it
grieved me to see her thus cast down. Thinking me perfectly cured of
my passion for her, she treated me purely as a friend, making me
touch her all over to convince me that she dare not shew herself any
longer. I played in short the part of a midwife, but with what a
struggle! I had to pretend to be calm and unconcerned when I was
consumed with passion. She spoke of killing herself in a manner that
made me shudder, as I saw that she had reflected on what she was
saying. I was in a difficult position when fortune came to my
assistance in a strange and amusing manner.
One day, as I was dining with Madame d'Urfe, I asked her if she knew
of any way by which a girl, who had allowed her lover to go too far,
might be protected from shame. "I know of an infallible method," she
replied, "the aroph of Paracelsus to wit, and it is easy of
application. Do you wish to know more about it?" she added; and
without waiting for me to answer she brought a manuscript, and put it
in my hands. This powerful emmenagogue was a kind of unguent
composed of several drugs, such as saffron, myrrh, etc., compounded
with virgin honey. To obtain the necessary result one had to employ
a cylindrical machine covered with extremely soft skin, thick enough
to fill the opening of the vagina, and long enough to reach the
opening of the reservoir or case containing the foetus. The end of
this apparatus was to be well anointed with aroph, and as it only
acted at a moment of uterine excitement it was necessary to apply it
with the same movement as that of coition. The dose had to be
repeated five or six times a day for a whole week.
This nostrum, and the manner of administering it, struck me in so
laughable a light that I could not keep my countenance. I laughed
with all my heart, but for all that I spent the next two hours in
reading the dreams of Paracelsus, in which Madame d'Urfe put more
trust than in the truths of the Gospel; I afterwards referred to
Boerhaave, who speaks of the aroph in more reasonable terms.
Seeing, as I have remarked, the charming X. C. V. several hours a day
without any kind of constraint, feeling in love with her all the
time, and always restraining my feelings, it is no wonder if the
hidden fire threatened at every moment to leap up from the ashes of
its concealment. Her image pursued me unceasingly, of her I always
thought, and every day made it more evident that I should know rest
no more till I succeeded in extinguishing my passion by obtaining
possession of all her charms.
As I was thinking of her by myself I resolved to tell her of my
discovery, hoping she would need my help in the introduction of the
cylinder. I went to see her at ten o'clock, and found her, as usual,
in bed; she was weeping because the opiate I gave her did not take
effect. I thought the time a good one for introducing the aroph of
Paracelsus, which I assured her was an infallible means of attaining
the end she desired; but whilst I was singing the praises of this
application the idea came into my head to say that, to be absolutely
certain, it was necessary for the aroph to be mingled with semen
which had not lost its natural heat.
"This mixture," said I, "moistening several times a day the opening
of the womb, weakens it to such a degree that the foetus is expelled
by its own weight:"
To these details I added lengthy arguments to persuade her of the
efficacy of this cure, and then, seeing that she was absorbed in
thought, I said that as her lover was away she would want a sure
friend to live in the same house with her, and give her the dose
according to the directions of Paracelsus.
All at once she burst into a peal of laughter, and asked me if I had
been jesting all the time.
I thought the game was up. The remedy was an absurd one, on the face
of it; and if her common sense told her as much it would also make
her guess my motive. But what limits are there to the credulity of a
woman in her condition?
"If you wish," said I, persuasively, "I will give you the manuscript
where all that I have said is set down plainly. I will also shew you
what Boerhaeve thinks about it."
I saw that these words convinced her; they had acted on her as if by
magic, and I went on while the iron was hot.
"The aroph," said I, "is the most powerful agent for bringing on
"And that is incompatible with the state I am now in; so the aroph
should procure me a secret deliverance. Do you know its
"Certainly; it is quite a simple preparation composed of certain
ingredients which are well known to me, and which have to be made
into a paste with butter or virgin honey. But this composition must
touch the orifice of the uterus at a moment of extreme excitement."
"But in that case it seems to me that the person who gives the dose
must be in love."
"Certainly, unless he is a mere animal requiring only physical
She was silent for some time, for though she was quick-witted enough,
a woman's natural modesty and her own frankness, prevented her from
guessing at my artifice. I, too, astonished at my success in making
her believe this fable, remained silent.
At last, breaking the silence, she said, sadly,
"The method seems to me an excellent one, but I do not think I ought
to make use of it."
Then she asked me if the aroph took much time to make.
"Two hours at most," I answered, "if I succeed in procuring English
saffron, which Paracelsus prefers to the Oriental saffron."
At that moment her mother and the Chevalier Farsetti came in, and
after some talk of no consequence she asked me to stay to dinner. I
was going to decline, when Mdlle. X. C. V. said she would sit at
table, on which I accepted; and we all left the room to give her time
to dress. She was not long in dressing, and when she appeared her
figure seemed to me quite nymph-like. I was astonished, and could
scarcely believe my eyes, and I was on the point of thinking that I
had been imposed on, for I could not imagine how she could manage to
conceal the fulness I had felt with my own hands.
M. Farsetti sat by her, and I by the mother. Mdlle. X. C. V., whose
head was full of the aroph, asked her neighbour, who gave himself out
for a great chemist, if he knew it.
"I fancy I know it better than anyone," answered Farsetti, in a self-
"What is it good for?"
"That is too vague a question."
"What does the word mean?"
"It is an Arabic word, of which I do not know the meaning; but no
doubt Paracelsus would tell us."
"The word," said I, "is neither Arabic nor Hebrew, nor, indeed, of
any language at all. It is a contraction which conceals two other
"Can you tell us what they are?" said the chevalier.
"Certainly; aro comes from aroma, and ph is the initial of
"Did you get that out of Paracelsus?" said Farsetti, evidently
"No, sir; I saw it in Boerhaave."
"That's good," said he, sarcastically; "Boerhaave says nothing of the
sort, but I like a man who quotes readily."
"Laugh, sir, if you like," said I, proudly, "but here is the test of
what I say; accept the wager if you dare. I don't quote falsely,
like persons who talk of words being Arabic."
So saying I flung a purse of gold on the table, but Farsetti, who was
by no means sure of what he was saying, answered disdainfully that he
However, Mdlle. X. C. V., enjoying his confusion, told him that was
the best way never to lose, and began to joke him on his Arabic
derivation. But, for my part, I replaced my purse in my pocket, and
on some trifling pretext went out and sent my servant to Madame
d'Urfe's to get me Boerhaave.
On my return to the room I sat down again at table, and joined gaily
in the conversation till the return of my messenger with the book. I
opened it, and as I had been reading it the evening before I soon
found the place I wanted, and giving it to him begged him to satisfy
himself that I had quoted not readily but exactly. Instead of taking
the book, he got up and went out without saying a word.
"He has gone away in a rage," said the mother; "and I would wager
anything that he will not come back again."
"I wager he will," said the daughter, "he will honour us with his
agreeable company before to-morrow's sun has set."
She was right. From that day Farsetti became my determined enemy,
and let no opportunity slip of convincing me of his hatred.
After dinner we all went to Passy to be present at a concert given by
M. de la Popeliniere, who made us stay to supper. I found there
Silvia and her charming daughter, who pouted at me and not without
cause, as I had neglected her. The famous adept, St. Germain,
enlivened the table with his wild tirades so finely delivered. I
have never seen a more intellectual or amusing charlatan than he.
Next day I shut myself up to answer a host of questions that Esther
had sent me. I took care to answer all those bearing on business
matters as obscurely as possible, not only for the credit of the
oracle, but also for fear of misleading the father and making him
lose money. The worthy man was the most honest of Dutch
millionaires, but he might easily make a large hole in his fortune,
if he did not absolutely ruin himself, by putting an implicit trust
in my infallibility. As for Esther, I confess that she was now no
more to me than a pleasant memory.
In spite of my pretence of indifference, my whole heart was given to
Mdlle. X. C. V., and I dreaded the moment when she would be no longer
able to hide her condition from her family. I was sorry for having
spoken about the aroph, as three days had gone by without her
mentioning it, and I could not very well reopen the question myself.
I was afraid that she suspected my motives, and that the esteem she
professed for me had been replaced by a much less friendly sentiment.
I felt that her scorn would be too much for me to bear. So
humiliated was I that I could not visit her, and I doubt if I should
have seen her again if she had not intervened. She wrote me a note,
in which she said I was her only friend, and that the only mark of
friendship she wanted was that I should come and see her every day,
if it were but for a moment. I hasted to take her my reply in my own
person, and promised not to neglect her, assuring her that at all
hazards she might rely on me. I flattered myself that she would
mention the aroph, but she did not do so. I concluded that, after
thinking it over, she had resolved to think no more about it.
"Would you like me," I said, "to invite your mother and the rest of
you to dine with me?"
"I shall be delighted," she replied. "It will be a forbidden
pleasure to me before long."
I gave them a dinner both sumptuous and delicate. I had spared no
expense to have everything of the best. I had asked Silvia, her
charming daughter, an Italian musician named Magali, with whom a
sister of Mdlle. X. C. V.'s was taken, and the famous bass La Garde.
Mdlle. X. C. V. was in the highest spirits all the time. Sallies of
wit, jests, good stories and enjoyment, were the soul of the banquet.
We did not separate till midnight, and before leaving Mdlle. X. C. V.
found a moment to whisper to me to come and see her early next
morning, as she wanted to speak to me on matters of importance.
It will be guessed that I accepted the invitation. I waited on her
before eight o'clock. She was very melancholy, and told me that she
was in despair, that la Popeliniere pressed on the marriage, and that
her mother persecuted her.
"She tells me that I must sign the contract, and that the dressmaker
will soon be coming to take my measure for my wedding dress. To that
I cannot consent, for a dressmaker would certainly see my situation.
I will die rather than confide in my mother, or marry before I am
"There is always time enough to talk about dying," said I, "when all
other means have failed. I think you could easily get rid of la
Popeliniere, who is a man of honour. Tell him how you are situated,
and he will act without compromising you, as his own interest is
sufficiently involved to make him keep the secret."
"But should I be much better off then? And how about my mother?"
"Your mother? Oh! I will make her listen to reason."
"You know not what she is like. The honour of the family would
oblige her to get me out of the way, but before that she would make
me suffer torments to which death is preferable by far. But why have
you said no more about the aroph? Is it not all a jest? It would
be a very cruel one."
"On the contrary, I believe it to be infallible, though I have never
been a witness of its effects; but what good is it for me to speak to
you? You can guess that a delicacy of feeling has made me keep
silence. Confide in your lover, who is at Venice; write him a
letter, and I will take care that it is given into his hands, in five
or six days, by a sure messenger. If he is not well off I will give
you whatever money may be needed for him to come without delay, and
save your honour and life by giving you the aroph."
"This idea is a good one and the offer generous on your part, but it
is not feasible, as you would see if you knew more about my
circumstances. Do not think any more of my lover; but supposing I
made up my mind to receive the aroph from another, tell me how it
could be done. Even if my lover were in Paris, how could he spend an
entire week with me, as he would have to? And how could he give me
the dose five or six times a day for a week? You see yourself that
this remedy is out of the question."
"So you would give yourself to another, if you thought that would
save your honour?"
"Certainly, if I were sure that the thing would be kept secret. But
where shall I find such a person? Do you think he would be easy to
find, or that I can go and look for him?"
I did not know what to make of this speech; for she knew I loved her,
and I did not see why she should put herself to the trouble of going
far when what she wanted was to her hand. I was inclined to think
that she wanted me to ask her to make choice of myself as the
administrator of the remedy, either to spare her modesty, or to have
the merit of yielding to my love and thus obliging me to be grateful;
but I might be wrong, and I did not care to expose myself to the
humiliation of a refusal. On the other hand I could hardly think she
wanted to insult me. Not knowing what to say or which way to turn,
and wanting to draw an explanation from her, I sighed profoundly,
took up my hat, and made as if I were going, exclaiming, "Cruel girl,
my lot is more wretched than yours."
She raised herself in the bed and begged me with tears in her eyes to
remain, and asked me how I could call myself more wretched than her.
Pretending to be annoyed and yet full of love for her, I told her
that the contempt in which she held me had affected me deeply, since
in her necessity she preferred the offices of one who was unknown to
her rather than make use of me.
"You are cruel and unjust," she said, weeping. "I see, for my part,
that you love me no longer since you wish to take advantage of my
cruel necessity to gain a triumph over me. This is an act of revenge
not worthy of a man of feeling."
Her tears softened me, and I fell on my knees before her.
"Since you know, dearest, that I worship you, how can you think me
capable of revenging myself on you? Do you think that I can bear to
hear you say that since your lover cannot help you you do not know
where to look for help?"
"But after refusing you my favours, could I ask this office of you
with any decency? Have I not good reason to be afraid that as I
refused to take pity on your love so you would refuse to take pity on
"Do you think that a passionate lover ceases to love on account of a
refusal which may be dictated by virtue? Let me tell you all I
think. I confess I once thought you did not love me, but now I am
sure of the contrary; and that your heart would have led you to
satisfy my love, even if you had not been thus situated. I may add
that you no doubt feel vexed at my having any doubts of your love."
"You have interpreted my feelings admirably. But how we are to be
together with the necessary freedom from observation remains to be
"Do not be afraid. Now I am sure of your consent, it will not be
long before I contrive some plan. In the meanwhile I will go and
make the aroph."
I had resolved that if ever I succeeded in persuading Mdlle. X. C. V.
to make use of my specific I would use nothing but honey, so the
composition of the aroph would not be a very complicated process.
But if one point was then plain and simple, another remained to be
solved, and its solution gave me some difficulty. I should have to
pass several nights in continual toils. I feared I had promised more
than I could perform, and I should not be able to make any abatement
without hazarding, not the success of the aroph, but the bliss I had
taken such pains to win. Again, as her younger sister slept in the
same room with her and close to her, the operation could not be
performed there. At last chance--a divinity which often helps
lovers--came to my aid.
I was obliged to climb up to the fourth floor and met the scullion on
my way, who guessed where I was going, and begged me not to go any
farther as the place was taken.
"But," said I, "you have just come out of it."
"Yes, but I only went in and came out again."
"Then I will wait till the coast is clear."
"For goodness' sake, sir, do not wait!"
"Ah, you rascal! I see what is going on. Well I will say nothing
about it, but I must see her."
"She won't come out, for she heard your steps and shut herself in."
"She knows me, does she?"
"Yes, and you know her."
"All right, get along with you! I won't say anything about it."
He went down, and the idea immediately struck me that the adventure
might be useful to me. I went up to the top, and through a chink I
saw Madelaine, Mdlle. X. C. V.'s maid. I reassured her, and promised
to keep the secret, whereon she opened the door, and after I had
given her a louis, fled in some confusion. Soon after, I came down,
and the scullion who was waiting for me on the landing begged me to
make Madelaine give him half the louis.
"I will give you one all to yourself," said I, "if you will tell me
the story"--an offer which pleased the rogue well enough. He told me
the tale of his loves, and said he always spent the night with her in
the garret, but that for three days they had been deprived of their
pleasures, as madam had locked the door and taken away the key. I
made him shew me the place, and looking through the keyhole I saw
that there was plenty of room for a mattress. I gave the scullion a
Louis, and went away to ripen my plans.
It seemed to me that there was no reason why the mistress should not
sleep in the garret as well as the maid. I got a picklock and
several skeleton keys, I put in a tin box several doses of the aroph-
that is, some honey mixed with pounded stag's horn to make it thick
enough, and the next morning I went to the "Hotel de Bretagne," and
immediately tried my picklock. I could have done without it, as the
first skeleton key I tried opened the wornout lock.
Proud of my idea, I went down to see Mdlle. X. C. V., and in a few
words told her the plan.
"But," said she, "I should have to go through Madelaine's room to get
to the garret."
"In that case, dearest, we must win the girl over."
"Tell her my secret?"
"Oh, I couldn't!"
"I will see to it; the golden key opens all doors."
The girl consented to all I asked her, but the scullion troubled me,
for if he found us out he might be dangerous. I thought, however,
that I might trust to Madelaine, who was a girl of wit, to look after
Before going I told the girl that I wanted to discuss some important
matters with her, and I told her to meet me in the cloisters of the
Augustinian Church. She came at the appointed time and I explained
to her the whole plan in all its details. She soon understood me,
and after telling me that she would take care to put her own bed in
the new kind of boudoir, she added that, to be quite safe, we must
make sure of the scullion.
"He is a sharp lad," said Madelaine, "and I think I can answer for
him. However, you may leave that to me."
I gave her the key and six louis, bidding her inform her mistress of
what we had agreed upon, and get the garret ready to receive us. She
went away quite merry. A maid who is in love is never so happy as
when she can make her mistress protect her intrigues.
Next morning the scullion called on me at my house. The first thing
I told him was to take care not to betray himself to my servants, and
never to come and see me except in a case of necessity. He promised
discretion, and assured me of his devotion to my service. He gave me
the key of the garret and told me that he had got another. I admired
his forethought, and gave him a present of six louis, which had more
effect on him than the finest words.
Next morning I only saw Mdlle. X. C. V. for a moment to warn her that
I should be at the appointed place at ten that evening. I went there
early without being seen by anybody. I was in a cloak, and carried
in my pocket the aroph, flint and steel, and a candle. I found a
good bed, pillows, and a thick coverlet--a very useful provision, as
the nights were cold, and we should require some sleep in the
intervals of the operation.
At eleven a slight noise made my heart begin to beat--always a good
sign. I went out, and found my mistress by feeling for her, and
reassured her by a tender kiss. I brought her in, barricaded the
door, and took care to cover up the keyhole to baffle the curious,
and, if the worse happened, to avoid a surprise.
On my lighting the candle she seemed uneasy, and said that the light
might discover us if anybody came up to the fourth floor.
"That's not likely," I said; "and besides, we can't do without it,
for how am I to give you the aroph in the dark?"
"Very good," she replied, "we can put it out afterwards."
Without staying for those preliminary dallyings which are so sweet
when one is at ease, we undressed ourselves, and began with all
seriousness to play our part, which we did to perfection. We looked
like a medical student about to perform an operation, and she like a
patient, with this difference that it was the patient who arranged
the dressing. When she was ready--that is, when she had placed the
aroph as neatly as a skull-cap fits a parson--she put herself in the
proper position for the preparation to mix with the semen.
The most laughable part of it all was that we were both as serious as
two doctors of divinity.
When the introduction of the aroph was perfect the timid lady put out
the candle, but a few minutes after it had to be lighted again. I
told her politely that I was delighted to begin again, and the voice
in which I paid her this compliment made us both burst into laughter.
I didn't take so short a time over my second operation as my first,
and my sweetheart, who had been a little put out, was now quite at
Her modesty had now been replaced by confidence, and as she was
looking at the aroph fitted in its place, she shewed me with her
pretty finger very evident signs of her co-operation in the work.
Then with an affectionate air, she asked me if I would not like to
rest, as we had still a good deal to do before our work was at an
"You see," said I, "that I do not need rest, and I think we had
better set to again."
No doubt she found my reason a good one, for, without saying
anything, she put herself ready to begin again, and afterwards we
took a good long sleep. When I woke up, feeling as fresh as ever, I
asked her to try another operation; and after carrying this through
successfully, I determined to be guided by her and take care of
myself, for we had to reserve our energies for the following nights.
So, about four o'clock in the morning she left me, and softly made
her way to her room, and at daybreak I left the hotel under the
protection of the scullion, who took me by a private door I did not
About noon, after taking an aromatic bath, I went to call on Mdlle.
X. C. V., whom I found sitting up in bed as usual, elegantly attired,
and with a happy smile on her lips. She spoke at such length on her
gratitude, and thanked me so often, that, believing myself, and with
good cause, to be her debtor, I began to get impatient.
"Is it possible," I said, "that you do not see how degrading your
thanks are to me? They prove that you do not love me, or that if
you love me, you think my love less strong than yours."
Our conversation then took a tender turn, and we were about to seal
our mutual ardours without troubling about the aroph, when prudence
bade us beware. It would not have been safe, and we had plenty of
time before us. We contented ourselves with a tender embrace till
the night should come.
My situation was a peculiar one, for though I was in love with this
charming girl I did not feel in the least ashamed of having deceived
her, especially as what I did could have no effect, the place being
taken. It was my self-esteem which made me congratulate myself on
the sharp practice which had procured me such pleasures. She told me
that she was sorry she had denied me when I had asked her before, and
said that she felt now that I had good reason to suspect the reality
of her love. I did my best to reassure her, and indeed all
suspicions on my part would have been but idle thoughts, as I had
succeeded beyond all expectation. However, there is one point upon
which I congratulate myself to this day--namely, that during those
nightly toils of mine, which did so little towards the object of her
desires, I succeeded in inspiring her with such a feeling of
resignation that she promised, of her own accord, not to despair any
more, but to trust in and be guided by me. She often told me during
our nocturnal conversations that she was happy and would continue to
be so, even though the aroph had no effect. Not that she had ceased
to believe in it, for she continued the application of the harmless
preparation till our last assaults, in which we wanted in those sweet
combats to exhaust all the gifts of pleasure.
"Sweetheart," said she, just before we parted finally, "it seems to
me that what we have been about is much more likely to create than to
destroy, and if the aperture had not been hermetically closed we
should doubtless have given the little prisoner a companion."
A doctor of the Sorbonne could not have reasoned better.
Three or four days afterwards I found her thoughtful but quiet. She
told me that she had lost all hope of getting rid of her burden
before the proper time. All the while, however, her mother
persecuted her, and she would have to choose in a few days between
making a declaration as to her state and signing the marriage
contract. She would accept neither of these alternatives, and had
decided on escaping from her home, and asked me to help her in doing
I had determined to help her, but I desired to save my reputation,
for it might have been troublesome if it had been absolutely known
that I had carried her off or furnished her with the means to escape.
And as for any other alternative, neither of us had any idea of
I left her and went to the Tuileries, where a sacred concert was
being given. The piece was a motet composed by Moudonville, the
words by the Abbe de Voisenon, whom I had furnished with the idea,
"The Israelites on Mount Horeb."
As I was getting out of my carriage, I saw Madame du Remain
descending alone from hers. I ran up. to her, and received a hearty
welcome. "I am delighted," said she, "to find you here, it is quite
a piece of luck. I am going to hear this novel composition, and have
two reserved seats. Will you do me the honour of accepting one?"
Although I had my ticket in my pocket I could not refuse so
honourable an offer, so, giving her my arm, we walked up to two of
the best places in the house.
At Paris no talking is allowed during the performance of sacred
music, especially when the piece is heard for the first time; so
Madame du Remain could draw no conclusions from my silence throughout
the performance, but she guessed that something was the matter from
the troubled and absent expression of my face, which was by no means
natural to me.
"M. Casanova," said she, "be good enough to give me your company for
an hour. I want to ask you-two or three questions which can only be
solved by your cabala. I hope you will oblige me, as I am, very
anxious to know the answers, but we must be quick as I have an
engagement to sup in Paris."
It may be imagined that I did not wait to be asked twice, and as soon
as we got to her house I went to work on the questions, and solved
them all in less than half an hour.
When I had finished, "M. Casanova;" said she, in the kindest manner
possible, "what is the matter with you? You are not in your usual
state of equanimity, and if I am not mistaken you are dreading some
dire event. Or perhaps you are on the eve of taking some important
resolution? I am not inquisitive, but if I can be of any service to
you at Court, make use of me, and be sure that I will do my best. If
necessary, I will go to Versailles to-morrow morning. I know all the
ministers. Confide in me your troubles, if I cannot lighten them I
can at least share them, and be sure I will keep your counsel."
Her words seemed to me a voice from heaven, a warning from my good
genius to open my heart to this lady, who had almost read my
thoughts, and had so plainly expressed her interest in my welfare.
After gazing at her for some seconds without speaking, but with a
manner that shewed her how grateful I was, "Yes madam," I said, "I am
indeed critically situated, may be on the serge of ruin, but your
kindness has calmed my soul and made me once more acquainted with
hope. You shall hear how I am placed. I am going to trust you with
a secret of the most delicate description, but I can rely on your
being as discreet as you are good. And if after hearing my story you
deign to give me your advice, I promise to follow it and never to
divulge its author."
After this beginning, which gained her close attention, I told her
all the circumstances of the case, neither concealing the young
lady's name nor any of the circumstances which made it my duty to
watch over her welfare. All the same I said nothing about the aroph
or the share I had taken in its exhibition. The incident appeared to
me too farcical for a serious drama, but I confessed that I had
procured the girl drugs in the hope of relieving her of her burden.
After this weighty communication I stopped, and Madame du Rumain
remained silent, as if lost in thought, for nearly a quarter of an
hour. At last she rose, saying,
"I am expected at Madame de la Marque's, and I must go, as I am to
meet the Bishop of Montrouge, to whom I want to speak, but I hope I
shall eventually be able to help you. Come here the day after
tomorrow, you will find me alone; above all, do nothing before you
see me. Farewell."
I left her full of hope, and resolved to follow her advice and hers
only in the troublesome affair in which I was involved.
The Bishop of Montrouge whom she was going to address on an important
matter, the nature of which was well known to me, was the Abbe de
Voisenon, who was thus named because he often went there. Montrouge
is an estate near Paris, belonging to the Duc de la Valiere.
I saw Mdlle. X. C. V. the following day, and contented myself with
telling her that in a couple of days I hope to give her some good
news. I was pleased with her manner, which was full of resignation
and trust in my endeavours.
The day after, I went to Madame du Rumain's punctually at eight. The
porter told me that I should find the doctor with my lady, but I went
upstairs all the same, and as soon as the doctor saw me he took his
leave. His name was Herrenschwand, and all the ladies in Paris ran
after him. Poor Poinsinet put him in a little one-act play called Le
Cercle, which, though of very ordinary merit, was a great success.
"My dear sir," said Madame du Rumain, as soon as we were alone, "I
have succeeded in my endeavours on your behalf, and it is now for you
to keep secret my share in the matter. After I had pondered over the
case of conscience you submitted to me, I went to the convent of C---
where the abbess is a friend of mine, and I entrusted her with the
secret, relying on her discretion. We agreed that she should receive
the young lady in her convent, and give her a good lay-sister to
nurse her through her confinement. Now you will not deny," said she,
with a smile, "that the cloisters are of some use. Your young friend
must go by herself to the convent with a letter for the abbess, which
I will give her, and which she must deliver to the porter. She will
then be admitted and lodged in a suitable chamber. She will receive
no visitors nor any letters that have not passed through my hands.
The abbess will bring her answers to me, and I will pass them on to
you. You must see that her only correspondent must be yourself, and
you must receive news of her welfare only through me. On your hand
in writing to her you must leave the address to be filled in by me.
I had to tell the abbess the lady's name, but not yours as she did
not require it.
"Tell your young friend all about our plans, and when she is ready
come and tell me, and I will give you the letter to the abbess. Tell
her to bring nothing but what is strictly necessary, above all no
diamonds or trinkets of any value. You may assure her that the
abbess will be friendly, will come and see her every now and then,
will give her proper books--in a word, that she will be well looked
after. Warn her not to confide in the laysister who will attend on
her. I have no doubt she is an excellent woman, but she is a nun,
and the secret might leak out. After she is safely delivered, she
must go to confession and perform her Easter duties, and the abbess
will give her a certificate of good behaviour; and she can then
return to her mother, who will be too happy to see her to say
anything more about the marriage, which, of course, she ought to give
as her reason of her leaving home."
After many expressions of my gratitude to her, and of my admiration
of her plan, I begged her to give me the letter on the spot, as there
was no time to be lost. She was good enough to go at once to her
desk, where she wrote as follows:
"My dear abbess--The young lady who will give you this letter is
the same of whom we have spoken. She wishes to spend three of four
months under your protection, to recover her peace of mind, to
perform her devotions, and to make sure that when she returns to her
mother nothing more will be said about the marriage, which is partly
the cause of her temporary separation from her family."
After reading it to me, she put it into my hands unsealed that Mdlle.
X. C. V. might be able to read it. The abbess in question was a
princess, and her convent was consequently a place above all
suspicion. As Madame du Rumain gave me the letter, I felt such an
impulse of gratitude that I fell on my knees before her. This
generous woman was useful to me on another occasion, of which I shall
speak later on.
After leaving Madame du Rumain I went straight to the "Hotel de
Bretagne," where I saw Mdlle. X. C. V., who had only time to tell me
that she was engaged for the rest of the day, but that she would come
to the garret at eleven o'clock that night, and that then we could
talk matters over. I was overjoyed at this arrangement, as I foresaw
that after this would come the awakening from a happy dream, and that
I should be alone with her no more.
Before leaving the hotel I gave the word to Madelaine, who in turn
got the scullion to have everything in readiness.
I kept the appointment, and had not long to wait for my mistress.
After making her read the letter written by Madame du Rumain (whose
name I withheld from her without her taking offence thereat) I put
out the candle, and without troubling about the aroph, we set
ourselves to the pleasant task of proving that we truly loved each
In the morning, before we separated, I gave her all the instructions
I had received from Madame du Rumain; and we agreed that she should
leave the house at eight o'clock with such things as she absolutely
required, that she should take a coach to the Place Maubert, then
send it away, and take another to the Place Antoine, and again,
farther on, a third coach, in which she was to go to the convent
named. I begged her not to forget to burn all the letters she had
received from me, and to write to me from the convent as often as she
could, to seal her letters but to leave the address blank. She
promised to carry out my instructions, and I then made her accept a
packet of two hundred louis, of which she might chance to be in need.
She wept, more for my situation than her own, but I consoled her by
saying that I had plenty of money and powerful patrons.
"I will set out," said she, "the day after to-morrow, at the hour
agreed on." And thereupon, I having promised to come to the house
the day after her departure, as if I knew nothing about it, and to
let her know what passed, we embraced each other tenderly, and I left
I was troubled in thinking about her fate. She had wit and courage,
but when experience is wanting wit often leads men to commit acts of
The day after the morrow I took a coach, and posted myself in a
corner of the street by which she had to pass. I saw her come, get
out of the coach, pay the coachman, go down a narrow street, and a
few minutes after reappear again, veiled and hooded, carrying a small
parcel in her hand. She then took another conveyance which went off
in the direction we had agreed upon.
The day following being Low Sunday, I felt that I must present myself
at the "Hotel de Bretagne," for as I went there every day before the
daughter's flight I could not stop going there without strengthening
any suspicions which might be entertained about me. But it was a
painful task. I had to appear at my ease and cheerful in a place
where I was quite sure all would be sadness and confusion. I must
say that it was an affair requiring higher powers of impudence than
fall to the lot of most men.
I chose a time when all the family would be together at table, and I
walked straight into the dining-room. I entered with my usual
cheerful manner, and sat down by madame, a little behind her,
pretending not to see her surprise, which, however, was plainly to be
seen, her whole face being flushed with rage and astonishment. I had
not been long in the room before I asked where her daughter was. She
turned round, looked me through and through, and said not a word.
"Is she ill?" said I.
"I know nothing about her."
This remark, which was pronounced in a dry manner, put me at my ease,
as I now felt at liberty to look concerned. I sat there for a
quarter of an hour, playing the part of grave and astonished silence,
and then, rising, I asked if I could do anything, for which all my
reward was a cold expression of thanks. I then left the room and
went to Mdlle. X. C. V.'s chamber as if I had thought she was there,
but found only Madelaine. I asked her with a meaning look where her
mistress was. She replied by begging me to tell her, if I knew.
"Has she gone by herself?"
"I know nothing at all about it, sir, but they say you know all. I
beg of you to leave me."
Pretending to be in the greatest astonishment, I slowly walked away
and took a coach, glad to have accomplished this painful duty. After
the reception I had met with I could without affectation pose as
offended, and visit the family no more, for whether I were guilty or
innocent, Madame X. C. V. must see that her manner had been plain
enough for me to know what it meant.
I was looking out of my window at an early hour two or three days
afterwards, when a coach stopped before my door, and Madame X C V-,
escorted by M. Farsetti got out. I made haste to meet them on the
stair, and welcomed them, saying I was glad they had done me the
honour to come and take breakfast with me, pretending not to know of
any other reason. I asked them to sit down before the fire, and
enquired after the lady's health; but without noticing my question
she said that she had not come to take breakfast, but to have some
"Madam," said I, "I am your humble servant; but first of all pray be
She sat down, while Farsetti continued standing. I did not press
him, but turning towards the lady begged her to command me.
"I am come here," she said, "to ask you to give me my daughter if she
be in your power, or to tell me where she is."
"Your daughter, madam? I know nothing about her! Do you think me
capable of a crime?"
"I do not accuse you of abducting her; I have not come here to
reproach you nor to utter threats, I have only come to ask you to
shew yourself my friend. Help me to get my daughter again this very
day; you will give me my life. I am certain that you know all. You
were her only confidant and her only friend; you passed hours with
her every day; she must have told you of her secret. Pity a bereaved
mother! So far no one knows of the facts; give her back to me and
all shall be forgotten, and her honour saved."
"Madam, I feel for you acutely, but I repeat that I know nothing of
The poor woman, whose grief touched me, fell at my feet and burst
into tears. I was going to lift her from the ground, when Farsetti
told her, in a voice full of indignation, that she should blush to
humble herself in such a manner before a man of my description. I
drew myself up, and looking at him scornfully said,
"You insolent scoundrel! What do you mean by talking of me like
"Everybody is certain that you know all about it."
"Then they are impudent fools, like you. Get out of my house this
instant and wait for me, I will be with you in a quarter of an hour."
So saying, I took the poor chevalier by the shoulders, and giving him
sundry shakes I turned him out of the room. He came back and called
to the lady to come, too, but she rose and tried to quiet me.
"You ought to be more considerate towards a lover," said she, "for he
would marry my daughter now, even after what she has done."
"I am aware of the fact, madam, and I have no doubt that his
courtship was one of the chief reasons which made your daughter
resolve to leave her home, for she hated him even more than she hated
"She has behaved very badly, but I promise not to say anything more
about marrying her. But I am sure you know all about it, as you gave
her fifty louis, without which she could not have done anything."
"Nay, not so."
"Do not deny it, sir; here is the evidence--a small piece of your
letter to her."
She gave me a scrap of the letter I had sent the daughter, with the
fifty louis for her brother. It contained the following lines,
"I hope that these wretched louis will convince you that I am ready
to sacrifice everything, my life if need be, to assure you of my
"I am far from disavowing this evidence of my esteem for your
daughter, but to justify myself I am obliged to tell you a fact which
I should have otherwise kept secret--namely, that I furnished your
daughter with this sum to enable her to pay your son's debts, for
which he thanked me in a letter which I can shew you."
"Your son, madam."
"I will make you an ample atonement for my suspicions."
Before I had time to make any objection, she ran down to fetch
Farsetti, who was waiting in the courtyard, and made him come up and
hear what I had just told her.
"That's not a likely tale," said the insolent fellow.
I looked at him contemptuously, and told him he was not worth
convincing, but that I would beg the lady to ask her son and see
whether I told the truth.
"I assure you," I added, "that I always urged your daughter to marry
M. de la Popeliniere."
"How can you have the face to say that," said Farsetti, "when you
talk in the letter of your affection?"
"I do not deny it," said I. "I loved her, and I was proud of my
affection for her. This affection, of whatever sort it may have been
(and that is not this gentleman's business), was the ordinary topic
of conversation between us. If she had told me that she was going to
leave her home, I should either have dissuaded her or gone with her,
for I loved her as I do at this moment; but I would never have given
her money to go alone."
"My dear Casanova," said the mother, "if you will help me to find her
I shall believe in your innocence."
"I shall be delighted to aid you, and I promise to commence the quest
"As soon as you have any news, come and tell me."
"You may trust me to do so," said I, and we parted.
I had to play my part carefully; especially it was essential that I
should behave in public in a manner consistent with my professions.
Accordingly, the next day I went to M. Chaban, first commissary of
police, requesting him to institute enquiries respecting the flight
of Mdlle. X. C. V. I was sure that in this way the real part I had
taken in the matter would be the better concealed; but the
commissary, who had the true spirit of his profession, and had liked
me when he first saw me six years before, began to laugh when he
heard what I wanted him to do.
"Do you really want the police to discover," said he, "where the
pretty Englishwoman is to be found?"
It then struck me that he was trying to make me talk and to catch me
tripping, and I had no doubt of it when I met Farsetti going in as I
was coming out.
Next day I went to acquaint Madame X. C. V. with the steps I had
taken, though as yet my efforts had not been crowned with success.
"I have been more fortunate than you," said she, "and if you will
come with me to the place where my daughter has gone, and will join
me in persuading her to return, all will be well."
"Certainly," said I, "I shall be most happy to accompany you."
Taking me at my word, she put on her cloak, and leaning on my arm
walked along till we came to a coach. She then gave me a slip of
paper, begging me to tell the coachman to drive us to the address
I was on thorns, and my heart beat fast, for I thought I should have
to read out the address of the convent. I do not know what I should
have done if my fears had been well grounded, but I should certainly
not have gone to the convent. At last I read what was written; it
was "Place Maubert," and I grew calm once more.
I told the coachman to drive us to the Place Maubert. We set off,
and in a short time stopped at the opening of an obscure back street
before a dirty-looking house, which did not give one a high idea of
the character of its occupants. I gave Madame X. C. V. my arm, and
she had the satisfaction of looking into every room in the five
floors of the house, but what she sought for was not there, and I
expected to see her overwhelmed with grief. I was mistaken, however.
She looked distressed but satisfied, and her eyes seemed to ask
pardon of me. She had found out from the coachman, who had taken her
daughter on the first stage of her journey, that she had alighted in
front of the house in question, and had gone down the back street.
She told me that the scullion had confessed that he had taken me
letters twice from his young mistress, and that Madelaine said all
the time that she was sure her mistress and I were in love with each
other. They played their parts well.
As soon as I had seen Madame X. C. V. safely home, I went to Madame
du Rumain to tell her what had happened; and I then wrote to my fair
recluse, telling her what had gone on in the world since her
Three or four days after this date, Madame du Rumain gave me the
first letter I received from Mdlle. X. C. V. She spoke in it of the
quiet life she was leading, and her gratitude to me, praised the
abbess and the lay-sister, and gave me the titles of the books they
lent her, which she liked reading. She also informed me what money
she had spent, and said she was happy in everything, almost in being
forbidden to leave her room.
I was delighted with her letter, but much more with the abbess's
epistle to Madame du Rumain. She was evidently fond of the girl, and
could not say too much in her praise, saying how sweet-tempered,
clever, and lady-like she was; winding up by assuring her friend that
she went to see her every day.
I was charmed to see the pleasure this letter afforded Madame du
Rumain--pleasure which was increased by the perusal of the letter I
had received. The only persons who were displeased were the poor
mother, the frightful Farsetti, and the old fermier, whose misfortune
was talked about in the clubs, the Palais-Royal, and the coffee-
houses. Everybody put me down for some share in the business, but I
laughed at their gossip, believing that I was quite safe.
All the same, la Popeliniere took the adventure philosophically and
made a one-act play out of it, which he had acted at his little
theatre in Paris. Three months afterwards he got married to a very
pretty girl, the daughter of a Bordeaux alderman. He died in the
course of two years, leaving his widow pregnant with a son, who came
into the world six months after the father's death. The unworthy
heir to the rich man had the face to accuse the widow of adultery,
and got the child declared illegitimate to the eternal shame of the
court which gave this iniquitous judgment and to the grief of every
honest Frenchman. The iniquitous nature of the judgment was
afterwards more clearly demonstrated--putting aside the fact that
nothing could be said against the mother's character--by the same
court having the, face to declare a child born eleven months after
the father's death legitimate.
I continued for ten days to call upon Madame X. C. V., but finding
myself coldly welcomed, decided to go there no more.
Fresh Adventures--J. J. Rousseau--I set Up A Business--Castel--Bajac
--A Lawsuit is Commenced Against Me--M. de Sartine
Mdlle. X. C. V. had now been in the convent for a month, and her
affair had ceased to be a common topic of conversation. I thought I
should hear no more of it, but I was mistaken. I continued, however,
to amuse myself, and my pleasure in spending freely quite prevented
me from thinking about the future. The Abbe de Bernis, whom I went
to see regularly once a week, told me one day that the comptroller-
general often enquired how I was getting on. "You are wrong," said
the abbe, "to neglect him." He advised me to say no more about my
claims, but to communicate to him the means I had spoken of for
increasing the revenues of the state. I laid too great store by the
advice of the man who had made my fortune not to follow it. I went
to the comptroller, and trusting in his probity I explained my scheme
to him. This was to pass a law by which every estate, except that
left by father to son, should furnish the treasury with one year's
income; every deed of gift formally drawn up being subject to the
same provision. It seemed to me that the law could not give offence
to anyone; the heir had only to imagine that he had inherited a year
later than was actually the case. The minister was of the same
opinion as myself, told me that there would not be the slightest
difficulty involved, and assured me that my fortune was made. In a
week afterwards his place was taken by M. de Silhouette, and when I
called on the new minister he told me coldly that when my scheme
became law he would tell me. It became law two years afterwards, and
when, as the originator of the scheme, I attempted to get my just
reward, they laughed in my face.
Shortly after, the Pope died, and he was succeeded by the Venetian
Rezzonico, who created my patron, the Abby de Bernis, a cardinal.
However, he had to go into exile by order of the king two days after
his gracious majesty had presented him with the red cap: so good a
thing it is to be the friend of kings!
The disgrace of my delightful abbe left me without a patron, but I
had plenty of money, and so was enabled to bear this misfortune with
For having undone all the work of Cardinal Richelieu, for having
changed the old enmity between France and Austria into friendship,
for delivering Italy from the horrors of war which befell her
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