The Complete Memoires of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Part 46 out of 70
punt very well."
"Then you can come to Canano's bank and risk the hundred sequins I
have given you. Put twenty sequins on a card, and if you win go
paroli, seven, and the va, and leave the game when they turn up.
If you can't make the three cards come out second, you will lose,
but I will reimburse you."
At this she embraced me, and asked if I would take half the
"No," said I, "you shall have it all."
I thought she would have gone mad with joy.
We went off in sedan-chairs, and the ball not having commenced we
went to the assembly-rooms. Canano had not yet done anything, and
he opened a pack of cards and pretended not to recognize me, but
he smiled to see the pretty masker, my companion, sit down and
play instead of me. Irene made him a profound bow as he made room
for her by his side, and putting the hundred sequins before her
she began by winning a hundred and twenty-five, as instead of
going seven and the va, she only went the paix de paroli. I was
pleased to see her thus careful, and I let her go on. In the
following deal she lost on three cards in succession, and then won
another paix de paroli. She then bowed to the banker, pocketed
her winnings, and left the table, but just as we were going out I
heard somebody sobbing, and on my turning to her she said,
"I am sure it is my father weeping for joy."
She had three hundred and sixty sequins which she took to him
after amusing herself for a few hours. I only danced one minuet
with her, for my amorous exploits and the heavy supper I had taken
had tired me, and I longed for rest. I let Irene dance with whom
she liked, and going into a corner fell asleep. I woke up with a
start and saw Irene standing before me. I had been asleep for
three hours. I took her back to the "Three Kings," and left her
in the charge of her father and mother. The poor man was quite
alarmed to see so much gold on the table, and told me to wish him
a pleasant journey, as he was starting in a few hours. I could
make no opposition and I did not wish to do so, but Irene was
"I won't go," she cried; "I want to stay with my lover. You are
the ruin of my life. Whenever anybody takes a liking to me, you
snatch me away. I belong to this gentleman, and I won't leave
However, she saw that I did not back her up, and began to weep,
then kissed me again and again, and just as she was going to sit
down, worn out with fatigue and despair, I went off, wishing them
a pleasant journey, and telling Irene we should meet again. The
reader will learn in due time when and how I saw them again.
After all the fatigue I had gone through I was glad to go to bed.
It was eight o'clock when the young lieutenant awoke me.
"My sister has told me about the masquerade," said he, "but I have
a great secret to confide in you."
"Say on, and count on my keeping your secret."
"One of the finest noblemen of the town, my friend and my cousin's
lover, who has to be very careful of his actions on account of his
exalted position, would like to be of the party if you have no
objection. My sister and my cousin would like him to come very
"Of course he shall. I have been making my calculations for a
party of five, and now it will be a party of six, that is all."
"You really are a splendid fellow."
"On Sunday evening you must be at a certain place, of which I will
tell you. First of all we will have supper, then put on our
disguises, and then go to the ball. To-morrow at five o'clock we
shall meet at your sister's. All I want to know is what is the
height of your mistress and of the young nobleman."
"My sweetheart is two inches shorter than my sister, and a little
thinner; my friend is just about the same make as you are, and if
you were dressed alike you would be mistaken for each other."
"That will do. Let me think it over, and leave me alone now;
there's a Capuchin waiting for me, and I am curious to learn his
A Capuchin had called on me and I had told Clairmont to give him
an alms, but he had said he wanted to speak to me in private. I
was puzzled, for what could a Capuchin have to say to me?
He came in, and I was at once impressed by his grave and reverend
appearance. I made him a profound bow and offered him a seat, but
he remained standing, and said,
"Sir, listen attentively to what I am about to tell you, and
beware of despising my advice, for it might cost you your life.
You would repent when it was too late. After hearing me, follow
my advice immediately; but ask no questions, for I can answer
none. You may guess, perhaps, that what silences me is a reason
incumbent on all Christians--the sacred seal of the confessional.
You may be sure that my word is above suspicion; I have no
interests of my own to serve. I am acting in obedience to an
inspiration; I think it must be your guardian angel speaking with
my voice. God will not abandon you to the malice of your enemies.
Tell me if I have touched your heart, and if you feel disposed to
follow the counsels I am going to give you."
"I have listened to you, father, with attention and respect.
Speak freely and advise me; what you have said has not only moved
me, but has almost frightened me. I promise to do as you tell me
if it is nothing against honour or the light of reason."
"Very good. A feeling of charity will prevent your doing anything
to compromise me, whatever may be the end of the affair. You will
not speak of me to anyone, or say either that you know me or do
not know me?"
"I swear to you I will not on my faith as a Christian. But speak,
I entreat you. Your long preface has made me burn with
"This day, before noon, go by yourself to ----- Square, No.--- ,
on the second floor, and ring at the bell on your left. Tell the
person who opens the door that you want to speak to Madame. You
will be taken to her room without any difficulty; I am sure your
name will not be asked, but if they do ask you, give an imaginary
name. When you are face to face with the woman, beg her to hear
you, and ask her for her secret, and to inspire confidence put a
sequin or two in her hand. She is poor, and I am sure that your
generosity will make her your friend. She will shut her door, and
tell you to say on.
"You must then look grave, and tell her that you are not going to
leave her house before she gives you the little bottle that a
servant brought her yesterday with a note. If she resists, remain
firm, but make no noise; do not let her leave the room or call
anybody. Finally, tell her that you will give her double the
money she may lose by giving you the bottle and all that depends
on it. Remember these words: and all that depends on it. She
will do whatever you want. It will not cost you much, but even if
it did, your life is worth more than all the gold of Peru. I can
say no more, but before I go, promise me that you will follow my
"Yes, reverend father, I will follow the inspiration of the angel
who led you here."
"May God give you His blessing."
When the good priest went out I did not feel at all disposed to
laugh. Reason, certainly, bade me despise the warning, but my
inherent superstition was too strong for reason. Besides, I liked
the Capuchin. He looked like a good man, and I felt bound by the
promise I had given him. He had persuaded me, and my reason told
me that a man should never go against his persuasion; in fine, I
had made up my mind. I took the piece of paper on which I had
written the words I had to use, I put a pair of pistols in my
pocket, and I told Clairmont to wait for me in the square. This
latter, I thought, was a precaution that could do no harm.
Everything happened as the good Capuchin had said. The awful old
creature took courage at the sight of the two sequins, and bolted
her door. She began by laughing and saying that she knew I was
amorous, and that it was my fault if I were not happy, but that
she would do my business for me. I saw by these words that I had
to do with a pretended sorceress. The famous Mother Bontemps had
spoken in the same way to me at Paris. But when I told her that I
was not going to leave the room till I had got the mysterious
bottle, and all that depended on it, her face became fearful; she
trembled, and would have escaped from the room; but I stood before
her with an open knife, and would not suffer her to pass. But on
my telling her that I would give her double the sum she was to be
paid for her witchcraft, and that thus she would be the gainer and
not a loser in complying with my demands, she became calm once
"I shall lose six sequins," said she, "but you will gladly pay
double when I shew you what I have got; I know who you are."
"Who am I?"
"Giacomo Casanova, the Venetian."
It was then I drew the ten sequins from my purse. The old woman
was softened at the sight of the money, and said,
"I would not have killed you outright, certainly, but I would have
made you amorous and wretched."
"Explain what you mean."
I went after her into a closet, and was greatly amazed at sing
numerous articles about which my common sense could tell me
nothing. There were phials of all shapes and sizes, stones of
different colours, metals, minerals, big nails and small nails,
pincers, crucibles, misshapen images, and the like.
"Here is the bottle," said the old woman.
"What does it contain?"
"Your blood and the countess's, as you will see in this letter."
I understood everything then, and now I wonder I did not burst out
laughing. But as a matter of fact my hair stood on end, as I
reflected on the awful wickedness of which the Spaniard was
capable. A cold sweat burst out all over my body.
"What would you have done with this blood?"
"I should have plastered you with it."
"What do you mean by 'plastered'? I don't understand you."
"I will shew you."
As I trembled with fear the old woman opened a casket, a cubit
long, containing a waxen statue of a man lying on his back. My
name was written on it, and though it was badly moulded, my
features were recognizable. The image bore my cross of the Order
of the Golden Spur, and the generative organs were made of an
enormous size. At this I burst into a fit of hysterical laughter,
and had to sit down in an arm-chair till it was over.
As soon as I had got back my breath the sorceress said,
"You laugh, do you? Woe to you if I had bathed you in the bath of
blood mingled according to my art, and more woe still if, after I
had bathed yon, I had thrown your image on a burning coal:"
"Is this all?"
"All the apparatus is to become mine for twelve sequins; here they
are. And now, quick! light me a fire that I may melt this
monster, and as for the blood I think I will throw it out of the
This was no sooner said than done.
The old woman had been afraid that I should take the bottle and
the image home with me, and use them to her ruin; and she was
delighted to see me melt the image. She told me that I was an
angel of goodness, and begged me not to tell anyone of what had
passed between us. I swore I would keep my own counsel, even with
I was astonished when she calmly offered to make the countess
madly in love with me for another twelve sequins, but I politely
refused and advised her to abandon her fearful trade if she did
not want to be burnt alive.
I found Clairmont at his post, and I sent him home. In spite of
all I had gone through, I was not sorry to have acquired the
information, and to have followed the advice of the good Capuchin
who really believed me to be in deadly peril. He had doubtless
heard of it in the confessional from the woman who had carried the
blood to the witch. Auricular confession often works miracles of
I was determined never to let the countess suspect that I had
discovered her criminal project, and I resolved to behave towards
her so as to appease her anger, and to make her forget the cruel
insult to which I had subjected her. It was lucky for me that she
believed in sorcery; otherwise she would have had me assassinated.
As soon as I got in, I chose the better of the two cloaks I had,
and presented her with it. She accepted the gift with exquisite
grace, and asked me why I gave it her.
"I dreamt," said I, "that you were so angry with me that you were
going to have me assassinated."
She blushed, and answered that she had not gone mad. I left her
absorbed in a sombre reverie. Nevertheless, whether she forgot
and forgave, or whether she could hit upon no other way of taking
vengeance, she was perfectly agreeable to me during the rest of my
stay in Milan.
The count came back from his estate, and said that we must really
go and see the place at the beginning of Lent. I promised I would
come, but the countess said she could not be of the party. I
pretended to be mortified, but in reality her determination was an
extremely pleasant one to me.
The Masquerade--My Amour with the Fair Marchioness--The Deserted
Girl; I Become Her Deliverer--My Departure for St. Angelo
As I had engaged myself to provide an absolutely impenetrable
disguise, I wanted to invent a costume remarkable at once for its
originality and its richness. I tortured my brains so to speak,
and my readers shall see if they think my invention was a good
I wanted someone on whom I could rely, and above all, a tailor.
It may be imagined that my worthy gossip was the tailor I
immediately thought of. Zenobia would be as serviceable as her
husband; she could do some of the work, and wait on the young
ladies whom I was going to dress up.
I talked to my gossip, and told him to take me to the best second-
hand clothes dealer in Milan.
When we got to the shop I said to the man--
"I want to look at your very finest costumes, both for ladies and
"Would you like something that has never been worn?"
"Certainly, if you have got such a thing."
"I have a very rich assortment of new clothes."
"Get me, then, in the first place, a handsome velvet suit, all in
one piece, which nobody in Milan will be able to recognize."
Instead of one he shewed me a dozen such suits, all in excellent
condition. I chose a blue velvet lined with white satin. The
tailor conducted the bargaining, and it was laid on one side; this
was for the pretty cousin's lover. Another suit, in smooth
sulphur-coloured velvet throughout, I put aside for the young
officer. I also took two handsome pairs of trousers in smooth
velvet, and two superb silk vests.
I then chose two dresses, one flame-coloured and the other purple,
and a third dress in shot silk. This was for the officer's
mistress. Then came lace shirts, two for men, and three for
women, then lace handkerchiefs, and finally scraps of velvet,
satin, shot silk, etc., all of different colours.
I paid two hundred gold ducats for the lot, but on the condition
that if anybody came to know that I had bought them by any
indiscretion of his he should give me the money and take back the
materials in whatever condition they might be in. The agreement
was written out and signed, and I returned with the tailor, who
carried the whole bundle to my rooms over the pastrycook's.
When it was all spread out on the table I told the tailor that I
would blow out his brains if he told anybody about it, and then
taking a stiletto I proceeded to cut and slash the coats, vests,
and trousers all over, to the astonishment of the tailor, who
thought I must be mad to treat such beautiful clothes in this
After this operation, which makes me laugh to this day when I
remember it, I took the scraps I had bought and said to the
"Now, 'gossip, it is your turn; I want you to sew in these pieces
into the holes I have made, and I hope your tailoring genius will
aid you to produce some pretty contrasts. You see that you have
got your work cut out for you and no time to lose. I will see
that your meals are properly served in an adjoining chamber, but
you must not leave the house till the work is finished. I will go
for your wife, who will help you, and you can sleep together."
"For God's sake, sir! you don't want the ladies' dresses treated
like the coats and trousers?"
"Just the same."
"What a pity! it will make my wife cry."
"I will console her."
On my way to Zenobia's I bought five pairs of white silk
stockings, men's and women's gloves, two fine castor hats, two
burlesque men's masks, and three graceful-looking female masks. I
also bought two pretty china plates, and I carried them all to
Zenobia's in a sedanchair.
I found that charming woman engaged in her toilet. Her beautiful
tresses hung about her neck, and her full breast was concealed by
no kerchief. Such charms called for my homage, and to begin with
I devoured her with kisses. I spent half an hour with her, and my
readers will guess that it was well employed. I then helped her
to finish her toilette, and we went off in the sedan-chair.
We found the tailor engaged in picking out the scraps and cutting
them to fit the holes I had made. Zenobia looked on in a kind of
stupor, and when she saw me begin to slash the dresses she turned
pale and made an involuntary motion to stay my hand, for not
knowing my intentions she thought I must be beside myself. Her
husband had got hardened, and reassured her, and when she heard my
explanation she became calm, though the idea struck her as a very
When it is a question of an affair of the heart, of the passions,
or of pleasure, a woman's fancy moves much faster than a man's.
When Zenobia knew that these dresses were meant for three
beautiful women, whom I wished to make a centre of attraction to
the whole assembly, she improved on my cuts and slashes, and
arranged the rents in such a manner that they would inspire
passion without wounding modesty. The dresses were slashed
especially at the breast, the shoulders, and the sleeves; so that
the lace shift could be seen, and in its turn the shift was cut
open here and there, and the sleeves were so arranged that half
the arms could be seen. I saw sure that she understood what I
wanted, and that she would keep her husband right; and I left
them, encouraging them to work their best and quickest. But I
looked in three or four times in the day, and was more satisfied
every time with my idea and their execution.
The work was not finished till the Saturday afternoon. I gave the
tailor six sequins and dismissed him, but I kept Zenobia to attend
on the ladies. I took care to place powder, pomade, combs, pins,
and everything that a lady needs, on the table, not forgetting
ribbons and pack-thread.
The next day I found play going on in a very spirited manner, but
the two cousins were not at the tables, so I went after them.
They told me they had given up playing as Barbaro always won.
"You have been losing, then?"
"Yes, but my brother has won something," said the amiable Q----.
"I hope luck will declare itself on your side also."
"No, we are not lucky."
When their aunt left the room, they asked me if the lieutenant had
told me that a lady friend of theirs was coming to the ball with
"I know all," I answered, "and I hope you will enjoy yourselves,
but you will not do so more than I. I want to speak to the
gallant lieutenant to-morrow morning."
"Tell us about our disguises."
"You will be disguised in such a manner that nobody will recognize
"But how shall we be dressed?"
"But what costume have you given us?"
"That is my secret, ladies. However much I should like to please
you, I shall say nothing till the time for you to dress comes
round. Don't ask me anything more, as I have promised myself the
enjoyment of your surprise. I am very fond of dramatic
situations. You shall know all after supper."
"Are we to have supper, then?"
"Certainly, if you would like it. I am a great eater myself and I
hope you will not let me eat alone."
"Then we will have some supper to please you. We will take care
not to eat much dinner, so as to be able to vie with you in the
evening. The only thing I am sorry about," added Mdlle. Q----,
"is that you should be put to such expense."
"It is a pleasure; and when I leave Milan I shall console myself
with the thought that I have supped with the two handsomest ladies
in the town."
"How is fortune treating you?"
"Canano wins two hundred sequins from me every day."
"But you won two thousand from him in one night."
"You will break his bank on Sunday. We will bring you luck."
"Would you like to look on?"
"We should be delighted, but my brother says you don't want to go
"Quite so, the reason is that I should be recognized. But I
believe the gentleman who will accompany you is of the same figure
"Exactly the same," said the cousin; "except that he is fair."
"All the better," said I, "the fair always conquer the dark with
"Not always," said the other. "But tell us, at any rate, whether
we are to wear men's dresses."
"Fie! fie! I should be angry with myself if I had entertained
such a thought."
"That's curious; why so?"
"I'll tell you. If the disguise is complete I am disgusted, for
the shape of a woman is much more marked than that of a man, and
consequently a woman in man's dress, who looks like a man, cannot
have a good figure."
"But when a woman skews her shape well?"
"Then I am angry with her for skewing too much, for I like to see
the face and the general outlines of the form and to guess the
"But the imagination is often deceptive!"
"Yes, but it is with the face that I always fall in love, and that
never deceives me as far as it is concerned. Then if I have the
good fortune to see anything more I am always in a lenient mood
and disposed to pass over small faults. You are laughing?"
"I am smiling at your impassioned arguments."
"Would you like to be dressed like a man?"
"I was expecting something of the kind, but after you have said we
can make no more objections."
"I can imagine what you would say; I should certainly not take you
for men, but I will say no more."
They looked at each other, and blushed and smiled as they saw my
gaze fixed on two pre-eminences which one would never expect to
see in any man. We began to talk of other things, and for two
hours I enjoyed their lively and cultured conversation.
When I left them I went off to my apartments, then to the opera,
where I lost two hundred sequins, and finally supped with the
countess, who had become quite amiable. However, she soon fell
back into her old ways when she found that my politeness was
merely external, and that I had no intentions whatever of
troubling her in her bedroom again.
On the Saturday morning the young officer came to see me, and I
told him that there was only one thing that I wanted him to do,
but that it must be done exactly according to my instructions. He
promised to follow them to the letter, and I proceeded,--
"You must get a carriage and four, and as soon as the five of you
are in it tell the coachman to drive as fast as his horses can
gallop out of Milan, and to bring you back again by another road
to the house. There you must get down, send the carriage away,
after enjoining silence on the coachman, and come in. After the
ball you will undress in the same house, and then go home in
sedan-chairs. Thus we shall be able to baffle the inquisitive,
who will be pretty numerous, I warn you."
"My friend the marquis will see to all that," said he, "and I
promise you he will do it well, for he is longing to make your
"I shall expect you, then, at seven o'clock to-morrow.
"Warn your friend that it is important the coachman should not be
known, and do not let anybody bring a servant."
All these arrangements being made, I determined to disguise myself
as Pierrot. There's no disguise more perfect; for, besides
concealing the features and the shape of the body, it does not
even let the colour of the skin remain recognizable. My readers
may remember what happened to me in this disguise ten years
before. I made the tailor get me a new Pierrot costume, which I
placed with the others, and with two new purses, in each of which
I placed five hundred sequins, I repaired to the pastrycook's
before seven o'clock. I found the table spread, and the supper
ready. I shut up Zenobia in the room where the ladies were to
make their toilette, and at five minutes past seven the joyous
The marquis was delighted to make my acquaintance, and I welcomed
him as he deserved. He was a perfect gentleman in every respect,
handsome, rich, and young, very much in love with the pretty
cousin whom he treated with great respect. The lieutenant's
mistress was a delightful little lady and madly fond of her lover.
As they were all aware that I did not want them to know their
costumes till after supper, nothing was said about it, and we sat
down to table. The supper was excellent; I had ordered it in
accordance with my own tastes; that is to say, everything was of
the best, and there was plenty of everything. When we had eaten
and drunk well, I said,--
"As I am not going to appear with you, I may as well tell you the
parts you are to play. You are to be five beggars, two men and
three women, all rags and tatters."
The long faces they pulled at this announcement were a pleasant
sight to see.
"You will each carry a plate in your hands to solicit alms, and
you must walk together about the ball-room as a band of
mendicants. But now follow me and take possession of your ragged
Although I had much ado to refrain from laughing at the vexation
and disappointment which appeared on all their faces, I succeeded
in preserving my serious air. They did not seem in any kind of
hurry to get their clothes, and I was obliged to tell them that
they were keeping me waiting. They rose from the table and I
threw the door open, and all were struck with Zenobia's beauty as
she stood up by the table on which the rich though tattered robes
were displayed, bowing to the company with much grace.
"Here, ladies," said I to the cousins, "are your dresses, and here
is yours, mademoiselle--a little smaller. Here are your shifts,
your handkerchiefs and your stockings, and I think you will find
everything you require on this table. Here are masks, the faces
of which shew so poorly beside your own, and here are three plates
to crave alms. If anybody looks as high as your garters, they
will see how wretched you are, and the holes in the stockings will
let people know that you have not the wherewithal to buy silk to
mend them. This packthread must serve you for buckles, and we
must take care that there are holes in your shoes and also in your
gloves, and as everything must match, as soon as you have put on
your chemises you must tear the lace round the neck."
While I was going through this explanation I saw surprise and
delight efface the disappointment and vexation which had been
there a moment before. They saw what a rich disguise I had
provided for them, and they could not find it in their hearts to
say, "What a pity!"
"Here, gentlemen, are your beggar-clothes. I forgot to lacerate
your beaver hats, but that is soon done. Well, what do you think
of the costume?"
"Now, ladies, we must leave you; shut the door fast, for it is a
case of changing your shifts. Now, gentlemen, leave the room."
The marquis was enthusiastic.
"What a sensation we shall create!" said he, "nothing could be
In half an hour we were ready. The stockings in holes, the worn-
out shoes, the lace in rags, the straggling hair, the sad masks,
the notched plates--all made a picture of sumptuous misery hard to
The ladies took more time on account of their hair, which floated
on their shoulders in fine disorder. Mdlle. Q----'s hair was
especially fine, it extended almost to her knees.
When they were ready the door was opened, and we saw everything
which could excite desire without wounding decency. I admired
Zenobia's adroitness. The rents in dresses and chemises disclosed
parts of their shoulders, their breasts, and their arms, and their
white legs shone through the holes in the stockings.
I shewed them how to walk, and to sway their heads to and fro, to
excite compassion, and yet be graceful, and how to use their
handkerchiefs to shew people the tears in them and the fineness of
the lace. They were delighted, and longed to be at the ball, but
I wanted to be there first to have the pleasure of seeing them
come in. I put on my mask, told Zenobia to go to bed, as we would
not be back till daybreak, and set out on my way.
I entered the ball-room, and as there were a score of Pierrots
nobody noticed me. Five minutes after there was a rush to see
some maskers who were coming in, and I stood so as to have a good
view. The marquis came in first between the two cousins. Their
slow, pitiful step matched the part wonderfully. Mdlle. Q----
with her flame-coloured dress, her splendid hair, and her fine
shape, drew all eyes towards her. The astonished and inquisitive
crowd kept silence for a quarter of an hour after they had come
in, and then I heard on every side, "What a disguise!" "It's
wonderful!" "Who are they?" "Who can they be?" "I don't know."
"I'll find out."
I enjoyed the results of my inventiveness.
The music struck up, and three fine dominos went up to the three
beggar-girls to ask them to dance a minuet, but they excused
themselves by pointing to their dilapidated shoes. I was
delighted; it shewed that they had entered into the spirit of the
I followed them about for a quarter of an hour, and the curiosity
about them only increased, and then I paid a visit to Canano's
table, where play was running high. A masquer dressed in the
Venetian style was punting on a single card, going fifty sequins
paroli and paix de paroli, in my fashion. He lost three hundred
sequins, and as he was a man of about the same size as myself
people said it was Casanova, but Canano would not agree. In order
that I might be able to stay at the table, I took up the cards and
punted three or four ducats like a beginner. The next deal the
Venetian masquer had a run of luck, and going paroli, paix de
paroli and the va, won back all the money he had lost.
The next deal was also in his favour, and he collected his
winnings and left the table.
I sat down in the chair he had occupied, and a lady said,--
"That's the Chevalier de Seingalt."
"No," said another. "I saw him a little while ago in the ball-
room disguised as a beggar, with four other masquers whom nobody
"How do you mean, dressed as a beggar?" said Canano.
"Why, in rags, and the four others, too; but in spite of that the
dresses are splendid and the effect is very good. They are asking
"They ought to be turned out," said another.
I was delighted to have attained my object, for the recognition of
me was a mere guess. I began putting sequins on one card, and I
lost five or six times running. Canano studied me, but I saw he
could not make me out. I heard whispers running round the table.
"It isn't Seingalt; he doesn't play like that; besides, he is at
The luck turned; three deals were in my favour, and brought me
back more than I had lost. I continued playing with a heap of
gold before me, and on my putting a fistfull of sequins on a card
it came out, and I went paroli and pair de paroli. I won again,
and seeing that the bank was at a low ebb I stopped playing.
Canano paid me, and told his cashier to get a thousand sequins,
and as he was shuffling the cards I heard a cry of, "Here come the
The beggars came in and stood by the table, and Canano, catching
the marquis's eye, asked him for a pinch of snuff. My delight may
be imagined when I saw him modestly presenting a common horn
snuffbox to the banker. I had not thought of this detail, which
made everybody laugh immensely. Mdlle. Q---- stretched out her
plate to ask an alms of Canano, who said,--
"I don't pity you with that fine hair of yours, and if you like to
put it on a card I will allow you a thousand sequins for it."
She gave no answer to this polite speech, and held out her plate
to me, and I put a handful of sequins on it, treating the other
beggars in the same way.
"Pierrot seems to like beggars," said Canano, with a smile.
The three mendicants bowed gratefully to me and left the room.
The Marquis Triulzi who sat near Canano, said,--
"The beggar in the straw-coloured dress is certainly Casanova."
"I recognized him directly," replied the banker, "but who are the
"We shall find out in due time."
"A dearer costume could not be imagined; all the dresses are quite
The thousand sequins came in, and I carried them all off in two
"Would you like to go on playing?" said Canano.
I shook my head, and indicating with a sign of my hand that I
would take a cheque, he weighed my winnings and gave me a cheque
for twenty-nine pounds of gold, amounting to two thousand, five
hundred sequins. I put away the cheque, and after shaking him by
the hand, I got up and rolled away in true Pierrot fashion, and
after making the tour of the ball-room I went to a box on the
third tier of which I had given the key to the young officer, and
there I found my beggars.
We took off our masks and congratulated each other on our success,
and told our adventures. We had nothing to fear from inquisitive
eyes, for the boxes on each side of us were empty. I had taken
them myself, and the keys were in my pocket.
The fair beggars talked of returning me the alms I had given them,
but I replied in such a way that they said no more about it.
"I am taken for you, sir," said the marquis, "and it may cause
some annoyance to our fair friends here."
"I have foreseen that," I replied, "and I shall unmask before the
end of the ball. This will falsify all suppositions, and nobody
will succeed in identifying you."
"Our pockets are full of sweetmeats," said Mdlle. Q----.
"Everybody wanted to fill our plates."
"Yes," said the cousin, "everybody admired us; the ladies came
down from their boxes to have a closer view of us, and everyone
said that no richer disguise could be imagined."
"You have enjoyed yourselves, then?"
"And I too. I feel quite boastful at having invented a costume
which has drawn all eyes upon you, and yet has concealed your
"You have made us all happy," said the lieutenant's little
mistress. "I never thought I should have such a pleasant
"Finis coronat opus," I replied, "and I hope the end will be even
better than the beginning."
So saying I gave my sweetheart's hand a gentle pressure, and
whether she understood me or not I felt her hand tremble in mine.
"We will go down now," said she.
"So will I, for I want to dance, and I am sure I shall make you
laugh as Pierrot."
"Do you know how much money you gave each of us?"
"I cannot say precisely, but I believe I gave each an equal
"That is so. I think it is wonderful how you could do it."
"I have done it a thousand times. When I lose a paroli of ten
sequins I put three fingers into my purse, and am certain to bring
up thirty sequins. I would bet I gave you each from thirty-eight
to forty sequins."
"Forty exactly. It's wonderful. We shall remember this masqued
"I don't think anybody will imitate us," said the marquis.
"No," said the cousin, "and we would not dare to wear the same
We put on our masks, and I was the first to go out. After
numerous little jocularities with the harlequins, especially the
female ones, I recognized Therese in a domino, and walking up to
her as awkwardly as I could I asked her to dance with me.
"You are the Pierrot who broke the bank?" she said.
I answered the question in the affirmative by a nod.
I danced like a madman, always on the point of falling to the
ground and never actually doing so.
When the dance was over, I offered her my arm and took her back to
her box, where Greppi was sitting by himself. She let me come in,
and their surprise was great when I took off my mask. They had
thought I was one of the beggars. I gave M. Greppi Canano's
cheque, and as soon as he had handed me an acknowledgment I went
down to the ball-room again with my mask off, much to the
astonishment of the inquisitive, who had made sure that the
marquis was I.
Towards the end of the ball I went away in a sedan-chair, which I
stopped near the door of an hotel, and a little further on I took
another which brought me to the door of the pastry-cook's. I
found Zenobia in bed. She said she was sure I would come back by
myself. I undressed as quickly as I could, and got into bed with
this Venus of a woman. She was absolute perfection. I am sure
that if Praxiteles had had her for a model, he would not have
required several Greek beauties from which to compose his Venus.
What a pity that such an exquisite figure should be the property
of a sorry tailor.
I stripped her naked, and after due contemplation I made her feel
how much I loved her. She was pleased with my admiration, and
gave me back as much as she got. I had her entirely to myself for
the first time. When we heard the trot of four horses we rose and
put on our clothes in a twinkling.
When the charming beggars came in, I told them that I should be
able to help in their toilette as they had not to change their
chemises, and they did not make many objections.
My gaze was fixed all the while on Mdlle. Q----. I admired her
charms, and I was delighted to see that she was not miserly in
their display. After Zenobia had done her hair she left her to
me, and went to attend on the others. She allowed me to put on
her dress, and did not forbid my eyes wandering towards a large
rent in her chemise, which let me see almost the whole of one of
her beautiful breasts.
"What are you going to do with this chemise?"
"You will laugh at our silliness. We have determined to keep
everything as a memorial of the splendid evening we have had. My
brother will bring it all to the house. Are you coming to see us
"If I were wise I should avoid you."
"And if I were wise I shouldn't ask you to come."
"That is fairly answered! Of course I will come; but before we
part may I ask one kiss?"
Her brother and the marquis left the room, and two sedan-chairs I
had summoned took off the cousins.
As soon as the marquis was alone with me he asked me very politely
to let him share in the expenses.
"I guessed you were going to humiliate me."
"Such was not my intention, and I do not insist; but then you know
I shall be humiliated."
"Not at all; I reckon on your good sense. It really costs me
nothing. Besides, I give you my word to let you pay for all the
parties of pleasure we enjoy together during the carnival. We
will sup here when you like; you shall invite the company, and I
will leave you to pay the bill."
"That arrangement will suit me admirably. We must be friends. I
leave you with this charming attendant. I did not think that such
a beauty could exist in Milan unknown to all but you."
"She is a townswoman, who knows how to keep a secret. Do you
"I would rather die than tell anyone that this gentleman is the
Marquis of F----."
"That's right; always keep your word, and take this trifle as a
souvenir of me."
It was a pretty ring, which Zenobia received with much grace; it
might be worth about fifty sequins.
When the marquis was gone, Zenobia undressed me and did my hair
for the night, and as I got into bed I gave her twenty-four
sequins, and told her she might go and comfort her husband.
"He won't be uneasy," said she, "he is a philosopher."
"He need be with such a pretty wife. Kiss me again, Zenobia, and
then we must part."
She threw herself upon me, covering me with kisses, and calling me
her happiness and her providence. Her fiery kisses produced their
natural effect, and after I had given her a fresh proof of the
power of her charms, she left me and I went to sleep.
It was two o'clock when I awoke ravenously hungry. I had an
excellent dinner, and then I dressed to call on the charming
Mdlle. Q----, whom I did not expect to find too hard on me, after
what she had said. Everybody was playing cards with the exception
of herself. She was standing by a window reading so attentively
that she did not hear me come into the room, but when she saw me
near her, she blushed, shut up the book, and put it in her pocket.
"I will not betray you," said I, "or tell anyone that I surprised
you reading a prayer-book."
"No, don't; for my reputation would be gone if I were thought to
be a devotee."
"Has there been any talk of the masqued ball or of the mysterious
"People talk of nothing else, and condole with us for not having
been to the ball, but no one can guess who the beggars were. It
seems that an unknown carriage and four that sped like the wind
took them as far as the first stage, and where they went next God
alone knows! It is said that my hair was false, and I have longed
to let it down and thus give them the lie. It is also said that
you must know who the beggars were, as you loaded them with
"One must let people say and believe what they like and not betray
"You are right; and after all we had a delightful evening. If you
acquit yourself of all commissions in the same way, you must be a
"But it is only you who could give me such a commission."
"I to-day, and another to-morrow."
"I see you think I am inconstant, but believe me if I find favour
in your eyes your face will ever dwell in my memory."
"I am certain you have told a thousand girls the same story, and
after they have admitted you to their favour you have despised
"Pray do not use the word 'despise,' or I shall suppose you think
me a monster. Beauty seduces me. I aspire to its possession, and
it is only when it is given me from other motives than love that I
despise it. How should I despise one who loved me? I should
first be compelled to despise myself. You are beautiful and I
worship you, but you are mistaken if you think that I should be
content for you to surrender yourself to me out of mere kindness."
"Ah! I see it is my heart you want."
"To make me wretched at the end of a fortnight."
"To love you till death, and to obey your slightest wishes."
"My slightest wishes?"
"Yes, for to me they would be inviolable laws."
"Would you settle in Milan?"
"Certainly, if you made that a condition of my happiness."
"What amuses me in all this is that you are deceiving me without
knowing it, if indeed you really love me."
"Deceiving you without knowing it! That is something new. If I
am not aware of it, I am innocent of deceit."
"I am willing to admit your innocency, but you are deceiving me
none the less, for after you had ceased to love me no power of
yours could bring love back again."
"That, of course, might happen, but I don't choose to entertain
such unpleasant thoughts; I prefer to think of myself as loving
you to all eternity. It is certain at all events that no other
woman in Milan has attracted me."
"Not the pretty girl who waited on us, and whose arms you have
possibly left an hour or, two ago?"
"What are you saying? She is the wife of the tailor who made your
clothes. She left directly after you, and her husband would not
have allowed her to come at all if he was not aware that she would
be wanted to wait on the ladies whose dresses he had made."
"She is wonderfully pretty. Is it possible that you are not in
love with her?"
"How could one love a woman who is at the disposal of a low, ugly
fellow? The only pleasure she gave me was by talking of you this
"Yes. You will excuse me if I confess to having asked her which
of the ladies she waited on looked handsomest without her
"That was a libertine's question. Well, what did she say?"
"That the lady with the beautiful hair was perfect in every
"I don't believe a word of it. I have learnt how to change my
chemise with decency, and so as not to shew anything I might not
shew a man. She only wished to flatter your impertinent
curiosity. If I had a maid like that, she should soon go about
"You are angry with me."
"It's no good saying no, your soul flashed forth in your
denunciation. I am sorry to have spoken."
"Oh! it's of no consequence. I know men ask chambermaids
questions of that kind, and they all give answers like your
sweetheart, who perhaps wanted to make you curious about herself."
"But how could she hope to do that by extolling your charms above
those of the other ladies? And, how could she know that I
"If she did not know it, I have made a mistake; but for all that,
she lied to you."
"She may have invented the tale, but I do not think she lied. You
are smiling again! I am delighted."
"I like to let you believe what pleases you."
"Then you will allow me to believe that you do not hate me."
"Hate you? What an ugly word! If I hated you, should I see you
at all? But let's talk of something else. I want you to do me a
favour. Here are two sequins; I want you to put them on an 'ambe'
in the lottery. You can bring me the ticket when you call again,
or still better, you can send it me, but don't tell anybody."
"You shall have the ticket without fail, but why should I not
"Because, perhaps, you are tired of coming to see me."
"Do I look like that? If so I am very unfortunate. But what
numbers will you have?"
"Three and forty; you gave them me yourself."
"How did I give them you?"
"You put your hand three times on the board, and took up forty
sequins each time. I am superstitious, and you will laugh at me,
I daresay, but it seems to me that you must have come to Milan to
make me happy."
"Now you make me happy indeed. You say you are superstitious, but
if these numbers don't win you mustn't draw the conclusion that I
don't love you; that would be a dreadful fallacy."
"I am not superstitious as all that, nor so vile a logician."
"Do you believe I love you?"
"May I tell you so a hundred times?"
"And prove it in every way?"
"I must enquire into your methods before I consent to that, for it
is possible that what you would call a very efficacious method
might strike me as quite useless."
"I see you are going to make me sigh after you for a long time."
"As long as I can."
"And when you have no strength left?"
"I will surrender. Does that satisfy you?"
"Certainly, but I shall exert all my strength to abate yours."
"Do so; I shall like it."
"And will you help me to succeed?"
"Ah, dear marchioness; you need only speak to make a man happy.
You have made me really so, and I am leaving you full of ardour."
On leaving this charming conversationalist I went to the theatre
and then to the faro-table, where I saw the masquer who had won
three hundred sequins the evening before. This night he was very
unlucky. He had lost two thousand sequins, and in the course of
the next hour his losses had doubled. Canano threw down his cards
and rose, saying, "That will do." The masquer left the table. He
was a Genoese named Spinola.
"The bank is prosperous," I remarked to Canano.
"Yes," he replied, "but it is not always so. Pierrot was very
lucky the other night."
"You did not recognize me in the least?"
"No, I was so firmly persuaded that the beggar was you. You know
who he is?"
"I haven't an idea. I never saw him before that day." In this
last particular I did not lie.
"It is said that they are Venetians, and that they went to
"It may be so, but I know nothing about them. I left the ball
before they did."
In the evening I supped with the countess, her husband, and
Triulzi. They were of the same opinion as Canano. Triulzi said
that I had let the cat out of the bag by giving the beggars
handfuls of sequins.
"That is a mistake," I answered. "When the luck is in my favour I
never refuse anyone who asks me for money, for I have a
superstition that I should lose if I did. I had won thirty pounds
weight of gold, and I could afford to let fools talk."
The next day I got the lottery ticket and took it to the
marchioness. I felt madly in love with her because I knew she was
in love with me. Neither of them were playing, and I spent two
hours in their company, talking of love all the while and enjoying
their conversation immensely, for they were exceedingly
intelligent. I left them with the conviction that if the cousin,
and not Mdlle. Q----, had been thrown in my way, I should have
fallen in love with her in just the same manner.
Although the carnival is four days longer at Milan than at any
other town, it was now drawing to a close. There were three more
balls. I played every day, and every day I lost two or three
hundred sequins. My prudence caused even more surprise than my
bad fortune. I went every day to the fair cousins and made love,
but I was still at the same point; I hoped, but could get nothing
tangible. The fair marchioness sometimes gave me a kiss, but this
was not enough for me. It is true that so far I had not dared to
ask her to meet me alone. As it was I felt my love might die for
want of food, and three days before the ball I asked her if she,
her two friends, the marquis, and the lieutenant, would come and
sup with me.
"My brother," she said, "will call on you to-morrow to see what
can be arranged."
This was a good omen. The next day the lieutenant came. I had
just received the drawings at the lottery, and what was my
surprise and delight to see the two numbers three and forty. I
said nothing to the young marquis, as his sister had forbidden me,
but I foresaw that this event would be favourable to my suit.
"The Marquis of F---- ," said the worthy ambassador, "asks you to
supper in your own rooms with all the band of beggars. He wishes
to give us a surprise, and would be obliged if you would lend him
the room to have a set of disguises made, and to ensure secrecy he
wants you to let have the same waiting-maid."
"With pleasure; tell the marquis that all shall be according to
"Get the girl to come there at three o'clock to-day, and let the
pastry-cook know that the marquis has full powers to do what he
likes in the place."
"Everything shall be done as you suggest."
I guessed at once that the marquis wanted to have a taste of
Zenobia; but this seemed to me so natural that, far from being
angry, I felt disposed to do all in my power to favour his plans.
Live and let live has always been my maxim, and it will be so to
my dying day, though now I do but live a life of memories.
As soon as I was dressed I went out, and having told the
pastrycook to consider the gentleman who was coming as myself, I
called on the tailor, who was delighted at my getting his wife
work. He knew by experience that she was none the worse for these
"I don't want you," said I to the tailor, "as it is only women's
dresses that have to be done. My good gossip here will be
"At three o'clock she may go, and I shall not expect to see her
again for three days."
After I had dined I called as usual on the fair marchioness, and
found her in a transport of delight. Her lottery ticket had got
her five hundred sequins.
"And that makes you happy, does it?" said I.
"It does, not because of the gain in money, though I am by no
means rich, but for the beauty of the idea and for the thought
that I owe it all to you. These two things speak volumes in your
"What do they say?"
"That you deserve to be loved."
"And also that you love me?"
"No, but my heart tells me as much."
"You make me happy, but does not your heart also tell you that you
should prove your love?"
"Dearest, can you doubt it?"
With these words she gave me her hand to kiss for the first time.
"My first idea," she added, "was to put the whole forty sequins on
"You hadn't sufficient courage?"
"It wasn't that, I felt ashamed to do it. I was afraid that you
might have a thought you would not tell me of--namely, that if I
gave you the forty sequins to risk on the lottery, you would think
I despised your present. This would have been wrong, and if you
had encouraged me I should have risked all the money."
"I am so sorry not to have thought of it. You would have had ten
thousand sequins, and I should be a happy man."
"We will say no more about it."
"Your brother tells me that we are going to the masqued ball under
the direction of the marquis, and I leave you to imagine how glad
I feel at the thought of spending a whole night with you. But one
thought troubles me."
"What is that?"
"I am afraid it will not go off so well as before."
"Don't be afraid, the marquis is a man of much ingenuity, and
loves my cousin's honour as herself. He is sure to get us
disguises in which we shall not be recognized."
"I hope so. He wants to pay for everything, including the
"He cannot do better than imitate your example in that respect."
On the evening of the ball I went at an early hour to the pastry-
cook's, where I found the marquis well pleased with the progress
that had been made. The dressing room was shut. I asked him in a
suggestive manner if he was satisfied with Zenobia.
"Yes, with her work," he answered; "I did not ask her to do
anything else for me."
"Oh! of course I believe it, but I am afraid your sweetheart will
be rather sceptical."
"She knows that I cannot love anyone besides herself."
"Well, well, we will say no more about it."
When the guests came the marquis said that as the costumes would
amuse us we had better put them on before supper.
We followed him into the next room, and he pointed out two thick
"Here, ladies, are your disguises," said he; "and here is your
maid who will help you while we dress in another room."
He took the larger of the two bundles, and when we were shut up in
our room he undid the string, and gave us our dresses, saying,--
"Let us be as quick as we can."
We burst out laughing to see a set of women's clothes. Nothing
was wanting, chemises, embroidered shoes with high heels, superb
garters, and, to relieve us of the trouble of having our hair
done, exquisite caps with rich lace coming over the forehead. I
was surprised to find that my shoes fitted me perfectly, but I
heard afterwards that he employed the same bootmaker as I did.
Corsets, petticoats, gowns, kerchief, fans, work-bags, rouge-
boxes, masks, gloves-all were there. We only helped each other
with our hair, but when it was done we looked intensely stupid,
with the exception of the young officer, who really might have
been taken for a pretty woman; he had concealed his deficiency in
feminine characteristics by false breasts and a bustle
We took off our breeches one after the other.
"Your fine garters," said I, to the marquis, "make me want to wear
"Exactly," said the marquis; "but the worst of it is nobody will
take the trouble to find out whether we have garters or not, for
two young ladies five feet ten in height will not inspire very
I had guessed that the girls would be dressed like men, and I was
not mistaken. They were ready before us, and when we opened the
door we saw them standing with their backs to the fireplace.
They looked three young pages minus their impudence, for though
they endeavoured to seem quite at their ease they were rather
We advanced with the modesty of the fair sex, and imitating the
air of shy reserve which the part demanded. The girls of course
thought themselves obliged to mimic the airs of men, and they did
not accost us like young men accustomed to behave respectfully to
ladies. They were dressed as running footmen, with tight
breeches, well-fitting waistcoats, open throats, garters with a
silver fringe, laced waistbands, and pretty caps trimmed with
silver lace, and a coat of arms emblazoned in gold. Their lace
shirts were ornamented with an immense frill of Alencon point. In
this dress, which displayed their beautiful shapes under a veil
which was almost transparent, they would have stirred the sense of
a paralytic, and we had no symptoms of that disease. However, we
loved them too well to frighten them.
After the silly remarks usual on such occasions had been passed,
we began to talk naturally while we were waiting for supper. The
ladies said that as this was the first time they had dressed as
men they were afraid of being recognized.
"Supposing somebody knew us," cried the cousin, "we should be
They were right; but our part was to reassure them, though I at
any rate would have preferred to stay where we were.
We sat down to supper, each next to his sweetheart, and to my
surprise the lieutenant's mistress was the first to begin the fun.
Thinking that she could not pretend to be a man without being
impudent, she began to toy with the lady-lieutenant, who defended
himself like a prudish miss. The two cousins, not to be outdone,
began to caress us in a manner that was rather free. Zenobia, who
was waiting on us at table could not help laughing when Mdlle. Q---
reproached her for having made my dress too tight in the neck.
She stretched out her hand as if to toy with me, whereupon I gave
her a slight box on the ear, and imitating the manner of a
repentant cavalier she kissed my hand and begged my pardon.
The marquis said he felt cold, and his mistress asked him if he
had his breeches on, and put her hand under his dress to see, but
she speedily drew it back with a blush. We all burst out
laughing, and she joined in, and proceeded with her part of hardy
The supper was admirable; everything was choice and abundant.
Warm with love and wine, we rose from the table at which we had
been for two hours, but as we got up sadness disfigured the faces
of the two pretty cousins. They did not dare to go to the ball in
a costume that would put them at the mercy of all the libertines
there. The marquis and I felt that they were right.
"We must make up our minds," said the lieutenant, "shall we go to
the ball or go home?"
"Neither," said the marquis, "we will dance here."
"Where are the violins" asked his mistress, "you could not get
them to-night for their weight in gold."
"Well," said I, "we will do without them. We will have some
punch, laugh, and be merry, and we shall enjoy ourselves better
than at the ball, and when we are tired we can go to sleep. We
have three beds here."
"Two would be enough," said the cousin.
"True, but we can't have too much of a good thing."
Zenobia had gone to sup with the pastrycook's wife, but she was
ready to come up again when she should be summoned.
After two hours spent in amorous trifling, the lieutenant's
mistress, feeling a little dizzy, went into an adjoining room and
lay down on the bed. Her lover was soon beside her.
Mdlle. Q----, who was in the same case, told me that she would
like to rest, so I took her into a room where she could sleep the
night, and advised her to do so.
"I don't think I need fear its going any farther," I said, "we
will leave the marquis with your cousin then, and I will watch
over you while you sleep."
"No, no, you shall sleep too." So saying, she went into the
dressing-room, and asked me to get her cloak. I brought it to
her, and when she came in she said,--
"I breathe again. Those dreadful trousers were too tight; they
hurt me." She threw herself on the bed, with nothing on besides
"Where did the breeches hurt you?" said I.
"I can't tell you, but I should think you must find them
"But, dearest, our anatomy is different, and breeches do not
trouble us at all where they hurt you."
As I spoke I held her to my breast and let myself fall gently
beside her on the bed. We remained thus a quarter of an hour
without speaking, our lips glued together in one long kiss. I
left her a moment by herself, and when I returned she was between
the sheets. She said she had undressed to be able to sleep
better, and, shutting her eyes, turned away. I knew that the
happy hour had come, and taking off my woman's clothes in a
twinkling, I gently glided into the bed beside her, for the last
struggles of modesty must be tenderly respected. I clasped her in
my arms and a gentle pressure soon aroused her passions, and
turning towards me she surrendered to me all her charms.
After the first sacrifice I proposed a wash, for though I could
not exactly flatter myself that I had been the first to break open
the lock, the victim had left some traces on the bed, which looked
as if it were so. The offer was received with delight, and when
the operation was over she allowed me to gaze on all her charms,
which I covered with kisses. Growing bolder, she made me grant
her the same privilege.
"What a difference there is," said she, "between nature and art!"
"But of course you think that art is the better?"
"No, certainly not."
"But there may be imperfections in nature, whereas art is
"I do not know whether there be any imperfection in what I behold,
but I do know that I have never seen anything so beautiful."
In fact she had the instrument of love before her eyes in all its
majesty, and I soon made her feel its power. She did not remain
still a moment, and I have known few women so ardent and flexible
in their movements.
"If we were wise," said she, "instead of going to the ball again
we would come here and enjoy ourselves."
I kissed the mouth which told me so plainly that I was to be
happy, and I convinced her by my transports that no man could love
her as ardently as I did. I had no need to keep her awake, she
shewed no inclination for sleep. We were either in action or
contemplation, or engaged in amorous discourse, the whole time. I
cheated her now and then, but to her own advantage, for a young
woman is always more vigorous than a man, and we did not stop till
the day began to break. There was no need for concealment, for
each had enjoyed his sweetheart in peace and happiness, and it was
only modesty which silenced our congratulations. By this silence
we did not proclaim our happiness, but neither did we deny it.
When we were ready I thanked the marquis, and asked him to supper
for the next ball night without any pretence of our going to the
masquerade, if the ladies had no objection. The lieutenant
answered for them in the affirmative, and his mistress threw her
arms round his neck, reproaching him for having slept all night.
The marquis confessed to the same fault, and I repeated the words
like an article of faith, while the ladies kissed us, and thanked
us for our kindness to them. We parted in the same way as before,
except that this time the marquis remained with Zenobia.
I went to bed as soon as I got home, and slept till three o'clock.
When I got up I found the house was empty, so I went to dine at
the pastry-cook's, where I found Zenobia and her husband, who had
come to enjoy the leavings of our supper. He told me that I had
made his fortune, as the marquis had given his wife twenty-four
sequins and the woman's dress he had worn. I gave her mine as
well. I told my gossip that I should like some dinner, and the
tailor went away in a grateful mood.
As soon as I was alone with Zenobia I asked her if she were
satisfied with the marquis.
"He paid me well," she answered, a slight blush mounting on her
"That is enough," said I, "no one can see you without loving you,
or love you without desiring to possess your charms."
"The marquis did not go so far as that."
"It may be so, but I am surprised to hear it."
When I had dined, I hastened to call on the fair marchioness, whom
I loved more than ever after the delicious night she had given me.
I wanted to see what effect she would have on me, after making me
so happy. She looked prettier than ever. She received me in a
way becoming in a mistress who is glad to have acquired some
rights over her lover.
"I was sure," said she, "that you would come and see me; "and
though her cousin was there she kissed me so often and so ardently
that there was no room for doubt as to the manner in which we had
spent our night together. I passed five hours with her, which
went by all too quickly, for we talked of love, and love is an
inexhaustible subject. This five hours' visit on the day after
our bridal shewed me that I was madly in love with my new
conquest, while it must have convinced her that I was worthy of
Countess A---- B---- had sent me a note asking me to sup with her,
her husband, and the Marquis Triulzi, and other friends. This
engagement prevented my paying a visit to Canano, who had won a
thousand sequins of me since my great victory as Pierrot. I knew
that he boasted that he was sure of me, but in my own mind I had
determined to gain the mastery. At supper the countess waged war
on me. I slept out at night. I was rarely visible. She tried
hard to steal my secret from me, and to get some information as to
my amorous adventures. It was known that I sometimes supped at
Therese's with Greppi, who was laughed at because he had been
silly enough to say that he had nothing to dread from my power.
The better to conceal my game, I said he was quite right.
The next day Barbaro, who was as honest as most professional
sharpers are, brought me the two hundred sequins I had lent him,
with a profit of two hundred more. He told me that he had had a
slight difference with the lieutenant, and was not going to play
any more. I thanked him for having presented me to the fair
marchioness, telling him that I was quite in love with her and in
hopes of overcoming her scruples. He smiled, and praised my
discretion, letting me understand that I did not take him in; but
it was enough for me not to confess to anything.
About three o'clock I called on my sweetheart, and spent five
hours with her as before. As Barbaro was not playing, the
servants had been ordered to say that no one was at home. As I
was the declared lover of the marchioness, her cousin treated me
as an intimate friend. She begged me to stay at Milan as long as
possible, not only to make her cousin happy, but for her sake as
well, since without me she could not enjoy the marquis's society
in private, and while her father was alive he would never dare to
come openly to the house. She thought she would certainly become
his wife as soon as her old father was dead, but she hoped vainly,
for soon after the marquis fell into evil ways and was ruined.
Next evening we all assembled at supper, and instead of going to
the ball gave ourselves up to pleasure. We spent a delicious
night, but it was saddened by the reflection that the carnival was
drawing to a close, and with it our mutual pleasures would be
On the eve of Shrove Tuesday as there was no ball I sat down to
play, and not being able once to hit on three winning cards, I
lost all the gold I had about me. I should have left the table as
usual if a woman disguised as a man had not given me a card, and
urged me by signs to play it. I risked a hundred sequins on it,
giving my word for the payment. I lost, and in my endeavours to
get back my money I lost a thousand sequins, which I paid the next
I was just going out to console myself with the company of my dear
marchioness, when I saw the evil-omened masquer approaching,
accompanied by a man, also in disguise, who shook me by the hand
and begged me to come at ten o'clock to the "Three Kings" at such
a number, if the honour of an old friend was dear to me.
"What friend is that?"
"What is your name?"
"I cannot tell you."
"Then you need not tell me to come, for if you were a true friend
of mine you would tell me your name."
I went out and he followed me, begging me to come with him to the
end of the arcades. When we got there he took off his mask, and I
recognized Croce, whom my readers may remember.
I knew he was banished from Milan, and understood why he did not
care to give his name in public, but I was exceedingly glad I had
refused to go to his inn.
"I am surprised to see you here," said I.
"I dare say your are. I have come here in this carnival season,
when one can wear a mask, to compel my relations to give me what
they owe me; but they put me off from one day to another, as they
are sure I shall be obliged to go when Lent begins."
"And will you do so?"
"I shall be obliged to, but as you will not come and see me, give
me twenty sequins, which will enable me to leave Milan. My cousin
owes me ten thousand livres, and will not pay me a tenth even. I
will kill him before I go."
"I haven't a farthing, and that mask of yours has made me lose a
thousand sequins, which I do not know how to pay.
"I know. I am an unlucky man, and bring bad luck to all my
friends. It was I who told her to give you a card, in the hope
that it would change the run against you."
"Is she a Milanese girl?"
"No, she comes from Marseilles, and is the daughter of a rich
agent. I fell in love with her, seduced her, and carried her off
to her unhappiness. I had plenty of money then, but, wretch that
I am, I lost it all at Genoa, where I had to sell all my
possessions to enable me to come here. I have been a week in
Milan. Pray give me the wherewithal to escape."
I was touched with compassion, and I borrowed twenty sequins from
Canano, and gave them to the poor wretch, telling him to write to
This alms-giving did me good; it made me forget my losses, and I
spent a delightful evening with the marchioness.
The next day we supped together at my rooms, and spent the rest of
the night in amorous pleasures. It was the Saturday, the last day
of the carnival at Milan, and I spent the whole of the Sunday in
bed, for the marchioness had exhausted me, and I knew that a long
sleep would restore my strength.
Early on Monday morning Clairmont brought me a letter which had
been left by a servant. It had no signature, and ran as follows:
"Have compassion, sir, on the most wretched creature breathing.
M. de la Croix has gone away in despair. He has left me here in
the inn, where he has paid for nothing. Good God! what will become
of me? I conjure you to come and see me, be it only to give me
I did not hesitate for a moment, and it was not from any impulses
of love or profligacy that I went, but from pure compassion. I
put on my great coat, and in the same room in which I had seen
Irene I saw a young and pretty girl, about whose face there was
something peculiarly noble and attractive. I saw in her innocence
and modesty oppressed and persecuted. As soon as I came in she
humbly apologized for having dared to trouble me, and she asked me
to tell a woman who was in the room to leave it, as she did not
"She has been tiring me for more than an hour. I cannot
understand what she says, but I can make out that she wants to do
me a service. However, I do not feel inclined to accept her
"Who told you to come and see this young lady?" said I, to the
"One of the servants of the inn told me that a young lady from
foreign parts had been left alone here, and that she was much to
be pitied. My feelings of humanity made me come and see if I
could be useful to her; but I see she is in good hands, and I am
very glad of it for her sake, poor dear!"
I saw that the woman was a procuress, and I only replied with a
smile of contempt.
The poor girl then told me briefly what I had already heard, and
added that Croce, who called himself De St. Croix, had gone to the
gaming-table as soon as he had got my twenty sequins, and that he
had then taken her back to the inn, where he had spent the next
day in a state of despair, as he did not dare to shew himself
abroad in the daytime. In the evening he put on his mask and went
out, not returning till the next morning.
"Soon after he put on his great coat and got ready to go out,
telling me that if he did not return he would communicate with me
by you, at the same time giving me your address, of which I have
made use as you know. He has not come back, and if you have not
seen him I am sure he has gone off on foot without a penny in his
pocket. The landlord wants to be paid, and by selling all I have
I could satisfy his claims; but, good God! what is to become of
"Dare you return to your father?"
"Yes, sir, I dare return to him. He will forgive me when on my
knees and with tears in my eyes I tell him that I am ready to bury
myself in a nunnery."
"Very good! then I will take you to Marseilles myself, and in the
meanwhile I will find you a lodging with some honest people. Till
then, shut yourself up in your room, do not admit anyone to see
you, and be sure I will have a care for you."
I summoned the landlord and paid the bill, which was a very small
one, and I told him to take care of the lady till my return. The
poor girl was dumb with surprise and gratitude. I said good-bye
kindly and left her without even taking her hand. It was not
altogether a case of the devil turning monk; I always had a
respect for distress.
I had already thought of Zenobia in connection with the poor
girl's lodging, and I went to see her on the spot. In her
husband's presence I told her what I wanted, and asked if she
could find a corner for my new friend.
"She shall have my place," cried the worthy tailor, "if she won't
mind sleeping with my wife. I will hire a small room hard bye,
and will sleep there as long as the young lady stays."
"That's a good idea, gossip, but your wife will lose by the
"Not much," said Zenobia; and the tailor burst out laughing.
"As for her meals," he added, "she must arrange that herself."
"That's a very simple matter," said I, "Zenobia will get them and
I will pay for them."
I wrote the girl a short note, telling her of the arrangements I
had made, and charged Zenobia to take her the letter. The next
day I found her in the poor lodging with these worthy folks,
looking pleased and ravishingly pretty. I felt that I could
behave well for the present, but I sighed at the thought of the
journey. I should have to put a strong restraint on myself.
I had nothing more to do at Milan, but the count had made me
promise to spend a fortnight at St. Angelo. This was an estate
belonging to him, fifteen miles from Milan, and the count spoke
most enthusiastically of it. If I had gone away without seeing
St. Angelo, he would have been exceedingly mortified. A married
brother of his lived there, and the count often said that his
brother was longing to know me. When we returned he would no
doubt let me depart in peace.
I had made up my mind to shew my gratitude to the worthy man for
his hospitality, so on the fourth day of Lent I took leave of
Therese, Greppi, and the affectionate marchioness, for two weeks,
and we set out on our way.
To my great delight the countess did not care to come. She much
preferred staying in Milan with Triulzi, who did not let her lack
We got to St. Angelo at three o'clock, and found that we were
expected to dinner.
An Ancient Castle--Clementine--The Fair Penitent--Lodi--A Mutual
The manorial castle of the little town of St. Angelo is a vast and
ancient building, dating back at least eight centuries, but devoid
of regularity, and not indicating the date of its erection by the
style of its architecture. The ground floor consists of
innumerable small rooms, a few large and lofty apartments, and an
immense hall. The walls, which are full of chinks and crannies,
are of that immense thickness which proves that our ancestors
built for their remote descendants, and not in our modern fashion;
for we are beginning to build in the English style, that is,
barely for one generation. The stone stairs had been trodden by
so many feet that one had to be very careful in going up or down.
The floor was all of bricks, and as it had been renewed at various
epochs with bricks of divers colours it formed a kind of mosaic,
not very pleasant to look upon. The windows were of a piece with
the rest; they had no glass in them, and the sashes having in many
instances given way they were always open; shutters were utterly
unknown there. Happily the want of glass was not much felt in the
genial climate of the country. The ceilings were conspicuous by
their absence, but there were heavy beams, the haunts of bats,
owls, and other birds, and light ornament was supplied by the
numerous spiders' webs.
In this great Gothic palace--for palace it was rather than castle,
for it had no towers or other attributes of feudalism, except the
enormous coat-of-arms which crowned the gateway--in this palace, I
say, the memorial of the ancient glories of the Counts A---- B----,
which they loved better than the finest modern house, there were
three sets of rooms better kept than the rest. Here dwelt the
masters, of whom there were three; the Count A---- B----, my
friend, Count Ambrose, who always lived there, and a third, an
officer in the Spanish Walloon Guards. I occupied the apartment
of the last named. But I must describe the welcome I received.
Count Ambrose received me at the gate of the castle as if I had
been some high and puissant prince. The door stood wide open on
both sides, but I did not take too much pride to myself on this
account, as they were so old that it was impossible to shut them.
The noble count who held his cap in his hand, and was decently but
negligently dressed, though he was only forty years old, told me
with high-born modesty that his brother had done wrong to bring me
here to see their miserable place, where I should find none of
those luxuries to which I had been accustomed, but he promised me
a good old-fashioned Milanese welcome instead. This is a phrase
of which the Milanese are very fond, but as they put it into
practice it becomes them well. They are generally most worthy and
hospitable people, and contrast favourably with the Piedmontese
The worthy Ambrose introduced me to his countess and his two
sisters-in-law, one of whom was an exquisite beauty, rather
deficient in manner, but this was no doubt due to the fact that
they saw no polished company whatever. The other was a thoroughly
ordinary woman, neither pretty nor ugly, of a type which is
plentiful all the world over. The countess looked like a Madonna;
her features had something angelic about them in their dignity and
openness. She came from Lodi, and had only been married two
years. The three sisters were very young, very noble, and very
poor. While we were at dinner Count Ambrose told me that he had
married a poor woman because he thought more of goodness than
"She makes me happy," he added; "and though she brought me no
dower, I seem to be a richer man, for she has taught me to look on
everything we don't possess as a superfluity."
"There, indeed," said I, "you have the true philosophy of an
The countess, delighted at her husband's praise and my approval,
smiled lovingly at him, and took a pretty baby from the nurse's
arms and offered it her alabaster breast. This is the privilege
of a nursing mother; nature tells her that by doing so she does
nothing against modesty. Her bosom, feeding the helpless, arouses
no other feelings than those of respect. I confess, however, that
the sight might have produced a tenderer sentiment in me; it was
exquisitely beautiful, and I am sure that if Raphael had beheld it
his Madonna would have been still more lovely.
The dinner was excellent, with the exception of the made dishes,
which were detestable. Soup, beef, fresh salted pork, sausages,
mortadella, milk dishes, vegetables, game, mascarpon cheese,
preserved fruits--all were delicious; but the count having told
his brother that I was a great gourmand, the worthy Ambrose had
felt it his duty to give me some ragouts, which were as bad as can
well be imagined. I had to taste them, out of politeness; but I
made up my mind that I would do so no more. After dinner I took
my host apart, and spewed him that with ten plain courses his
table would be delicate and excellent, and that he had no need of
introducing any ragouts. From that time I had a choice dinner
There were six of us at table, and we all talked and laughed with
the exception of the fair Clementine. This was the young countess
who had already made an impression on me. She only spoke when she
was obliged to do so, and her words were always accompanied with a
blush; but as I had no other way of getting a sight of her
beautiful eyes, I asked her a good many questions. However, she
blushed so terribly that I thought I must be distressing her, and
I left her in peace, hoping to become better acquainted with her.
At last I was taken to my apartment and left there. The windows
were glazed and curtained as in the diningroom, but Clairmont came
and told me that he could not unpack my trunks as there were no
locks to anything and should not care to take the responsibility.
I thought he was right, and I went to ask my friend about it.
"There's not a lock or a key," said he, "in the whole castle,
except in the cellar, but everything is safe for all that. There
are no robbers at St. Angelo, and if there were they would not
dare to come here."
"I daresay, my dear count, but you know' it is my business to
suppose robbers everywhere. My own valet might take the
opportunity of robbing me, and you see I should have to keep
silence if I were robbed."
"Quite so, I feel the force of your argument. Tomorrow morning a
locksmith shall put locks and keys to your doors, and you will be
the only person in the castle who is proof against thieves."
I might have replied in the words of Juvenal, 'Cantabit vacuus
coram latrone viator', but I should have mortified him. I told
Clairmont to leave my trunks alone till next day, and I went out
with Count A---- B---- and his sisters-in-law to take a walk in
Count Ambrose and his better-half stayed in the castle; the good
mother would never leave her nursling. Clementine was eighteen,
her married sister being four years older. She took my arm, and
my friend offered his to Eleanore.
"We will go and see the beautiful penitent," said the count.
I asked him who the beautiful penitent was, and he answered,
without troubling himself about his sisters-in-law,
"She was once a Lais of Milan, and enjoyed such a reputation for
beauty that not only all the flower of Milan but people from the
neighbouring towns were at her feet. Her hall-door was opened and
shut a hundred times in a day, and even then she was not able to
satisfy the desires aroused. At last an end came to what the old
and the devout called a scandal. Count Firmian, a man of learning
and wit, went to Vienna, and on his departure received orders to
have her shut up in a convent. Our august Marie Therese cannot
pardon mercenary beauty, and the count had no choice but to have
the fair sinner imprisoned. She was told that she had done amiss,
and dealt wickedly; she was obliged to make a general confession,
and was condemned to a life-long penance in this convent. She was
absolved by Cardinal Pozzobonelli, Archbishop of Milan, and he
then confirmed her, changing the name of Therese, which she had
received at the baptismal font, to Mary Magdalen, thus shewing her
how she should save her soul by following the example of her new
patroness, whose wantonness had hitherto been her pattern.
"Our family are the patrons of this convent, which is devoted to
penitents. It is situated in an inaccessible spot, and the
inmates are in the charge of a kind mother-superior, who does her
best to soften the manifold austerities of their existences. They
only work and pray, and see no one besides their confessor, who
says mass every day. We are the only persons whom the superioress
would admit, as long as some of our family are present she always
let them bring whom they like."
This story touched me and brought tears to my eyes. Poor Mary
Magdalen! Cruel empress! I think I have noted in another passage
the source of her austere virtue.
When we were announced the mother-superior came to meet us, and
took us into a large hall, where I soon made out the famous
penitent amongst five or six other girls, who were penitents like
herself, but I presume for trifling offences, as they were all
ugly. As soon as the poor women saw us they ceased working, and
stood up respectfully. In spite of the severe simplicity of her
dress, Therese made a great impression on me. What beauty! What
majesty brought low! With my profane eyes, instead of looking to
Back to Full Books