My Broil With Parisian Justice--Mdlle. Vesian
The youngest daughter of my landlady, Mdlle. Quinson, a young girl between fifteen and sixteen years of age, was in the habit of often coming to my room without being called. It was not long before I discovered that she was in love with me, and I should have thought myself ridiculous if I had been cruel to a young brunette who was piquant, lively, amiable, and had a most delightful voice.
During the first four or five months nothing but childish trifles took place between us; but one night, coming home very late and finding her fast asleep on my bed, I did not see the necessity of waking her up, and undressing myself I lay down beside her.... She left me at daybreak.
Mimi had not been gone three hours when a milliner came with a charming young girl, to invite herself and her friend to breakfast; I thought the young girl well worth a breakfast, but I was tired and wanted rest, and I begged them both to withdraw. Soon after they had left me, Madame Quinson came with her daughter to make my bed. I put my dressing-gown on, and began to write.
"Ah! the nasty hussies!" exclaims the mother.
"What is the matter, madam?"
"The riddle is clear enough, sir; these sheets are spoiled."
"I am very sorry, my dear madam, but change them, and the evil will be remedied at once."
She went out of the room, threatening and grumbling,
"Let them come again, and see if I don't take care of them!"
Mimi remained alone with me, and I addressed her some reproaches for her imprudence. But she laughed, and answered that Love had sent those women on purpose to protect Innocence! After that, Mimi was no longer under any restraint, she would come and share my bed whenever she had a fancy to do so, unless I sent her back to her own room, and in the morning she always left me in good time. But at the end of four months my beauty informed me that our secret would soon be discovered.
"I am very sorry," I said to her, "but I cannot help it."
"We ought to think of something."
"Well, do so."
"What can I think of? Well, come what will; the best thing I can do is not to think of it."
Towards the sixth month she had become so large, that her mother, no longer doubting the truth, got into a violent passion, and by dint of blows compelled her to name the father. Mimi said I was the guilty swain, and perhaps it was not an untruth.
With that great discovery Madame Quinson burst into my room in high dudgeon. She threw herself on a chair, and when she had recovered her breath she loaded me with insulting words, and ended by telling me that I must marry her daughter. At this intimation, understanding her object and wishing to cut the matter short, I told her that I was already married in Italy.
"Then why did you come here and get my daughter with child?"
"I can assure you that I did not mean to do so. Besides, how do you know that I am the father of the child?"
"Mimi says so, and she is certain of it."
"I congratulate her; but I warn you, madam, that I am ready to swear that I have not any certainty about it."
"Then nothing. If she is pregnant, she will be confined."
She went downstairs, uttering curses and threats: the next day I was summoned before the commissary of the district. I obeyed the summons, and found Madame Quinson fully equipped for the battle. The commissary, after the preliminary questions usual in all legal cases, asked me whether I admitted myself guilty towards the girl Quinson of the injury of which the mother, there present personally, complained.
"Monsieur le Commissaire, I beg of you to write word by word the answer which I am going to give you."
"I have caused no injury whatever to Mimi, the plaintiff's daughter, and I refer you to the girl herself, who has always had as much friendship for me as I have had for her."
"But she declares that she is pregnant from your doings."
"That may be, but it is not certain."
"She says it is certain, and she swears that she has never known any other man."
"If it is so, she is unfortunate; for in such a question a man cannot trust any woman but his own wife."
"What did you give her in order to seduce her?"
"Nothing; for very far from having seduced her, she has seduced me, and we agreed perfectly in one moment; a pretty woman does not find it very hard to seduce me."
"Was she a virgin?"
"I never felt any curiosity about it either before or after; therefore, sir, I do not know."
"Her mother claims reparation, and the law is against you."
"I can give no reparation to the mother; and as for the law I will obey it when it has been explained to me, and when I am convinced that I have been guilty against it."
"You are already convinced. Do you imagine that a man who gets an honest girl with child in a house of which he is an inmate does not transgress the laws of society?"
"I admit that to be the case when the mother is deceived; but when that same mother sends her daughter to the room of a young man, are we not right in supposing that she is disposed to accept peacefully all the accidents which may result from such conduct?"