"M. Casanova pretends that if he had given an account of his meeting with Yusuf's wife without changing anything everybody would think that I allowed him to entertain me with indecent stories. I want you to give your opinion about it. Will you," she added, speaking to me, "be so good as to relate immediately the adventure in the same words which you have used when you told me of it?"
"Yes, madam, if you wish me to do so."
Stung to the quick by an indiscretion which, as I did not yet know women thoroughly, seemed to me without example, I cast all fears of displeasing to the winds, related the adventure with all the warmth of an impassioned poet, and without disguising or attenuating in the least the desires which the charms of the Greek beauty had inspired me with.
"Do you think," said M. D---- R----- to Madame F-----, "that he ought to have related that adventure before all our friends as he has just related it to us?"
"If it be wrong for him to tell it in public, it is also wrong to tell it to me in private."
"You are the only judge of that: yes, if he has displeased you; no, if he has amused you. As for my own opinion, here it is: He has just now amused me very much, but he would have greatly displeased me if he had related the same adventure in public."
"Then," exclaimed Madame F----, "I must request you never to tell me in private anything that you cannot repeat in public."
"I promise, madam, to act always according to your wishes."
"It being understood," added M. D---- R-----, smiling, "that madam reserves all rights of repealing that order whenever she may think fit."
I was vexed, but I contrived not to show it. A few minutes more, and we took leave of Madame F----
I was beginning to understand that charming woman, and to dread the ordeal to which she would subject me. But love was stronger than fear, and, fortified with hope, I had the courage to endure the thorns, so as to gather the rose at the end of my sufferings. I was particularly pleased to find that M. D---- R----- was not jealous of me, even when she seemed to dare him to it. This was a point of the greatest importance.
A few days afterwards, as I was entertaining her on various subjects, she remarked how unfortunate it had been for me to enter the lazzaretto at Ancona without any money.
"In spite of my distress," I said, "I fell in love with a young and beautiful Greek slave, who very nearly contrived to make me break through all the sanitary laws."
"You are alone, madam, and I have not forgotten your orders."
"Is it a very improper story?"
"No: yet I would not relate it to you in public."
"Well," she said, laughing, "I repeal my order, as M. D---- R----- said I would. Tell me all about it."
I told my story, and, seeing that she was pensive, I exaggerated the misery I had felt at not being able to complete my conquest.
"What do you mean by your misery? I think that the poor girl was more to be pitied than you. You have never seen her since?"
"I beg your pardon, madam; I met her again, but I dare not tell you when or how."
"Now you must go on; it is all nonsense for you to stop. Tell me all; I expect you have been guilty of some black deed."
"Very far from it, madam, for it was a very sweet, although incomplete, enjoyment."
"Go on! But do not call things exactly by their names. It is not necessary to go into details."
Emboldened by the renewal of her order, I told her, without looking her in the face, of my meeting with the Greek slave in the presence of Bellino, and of the act which was cut short by the appearance of her master. When I had finished my story, Madame F---- remained silent, and I turned the conversation into a different channel, for though I felt myself on an excellent footing with her, I knew likewise that I had to proceed with great prudence. She was too young to have lowered herself before, and she would certainly look upon a connection with me as a lowering of her dignity.
Fortune which had always smiled upon me in the most hopeless cases, did not intend to ill-treat me on this occasion, and procured me, on that very same day, a favour of a very peculiar nature. My charming ladylove having pricked her finger rather severely, screamed loudly, and stretched her hand towards me, entreating me to suck the blood flowing from the wound. You may judge, dear reader, whether I was long in seizing that beautiful hand, and if you are, or if you have ever been in love, you will easily guess the manner in which I performed my delightful work. What is a kiss? Is it not an ardent desire to inhale a portion of the being we love? Was not the blood I was sucking from that charming wound a portion of the woman I worshipped? When I had completed my work, she thanked me affectionately, and told me to spit out the blood I had sucked.
"It is here," I said, placing my hand on my heart, "and God alone knows what happiness it has given me."
"You have drunk my blood with happiness! Are you then a cannibal?"
"I believe not, madam; but it would have been sacrilege in my eyes if I had suffered one single drop of your blood to be lost."