While we were bantering in this edifying fashion, the table had been laid, and we sat down to supper. She ate for two and I for four, our excellent appetite being excited by the delicate cheer. A sumptuous dessert was served in splendid silver-gilt plate, similar to the two candlesticks which held four wax candles each. Seeing that I admired them, she said:
"They are a present from my friend."
"It is a magnificent present, has he given you the snuffers likewise?"
"It is a proof that your friend is a great nobleman."
"Because great lords have no idea of snuffing the candle."
"Our candles have wicks which never require that operation."
"Good! Tell me who has taught you French."
"Old La Forest. I have been his pupil for six years. He has also taught me to write poetry, but you know a great many words which I never heard from him, such as 'a gogo, frustratoire, rater, dorloter'. Who taught you these words?"
"The good company in Paris, and women particularly."
We made some punch, and amused ourselves in eating oysters after the voluptuous fashion of lovers. We sucked them in, one by one, after placing them on the other's tongue. Voluptuous reader, try it, and tell me whether it is not the nectar of the gods!
At last, joking was over, and I reminded her that we had to think of more substantial pleasures. "Wait here," she said, "I am going to change my dress. I shall be back in one minute." Left alone, and not knowing what to do, I looked in the drawers of her writing-table. I did not touch the letters, but finding a box full of certain preservative sheaths against the fatal and dreaded plumpness, I emptied it, and I placed in it the following lines instead of the stolen goods:
'Enfants de L'Amitie, ministres de la Peur, Je suis l'Amour, tremblez, respectez le voleur! Et toi, femme de Dieu, ne crains pas d'etre mere; Car si to le deviens, Dieu seal sera le pere. S'iL est dit cependant que tu veux le barren, Parle; je suis tout pret, je me ferai chatrer.'
My mistress soon returned, dressed like a nymph. A gown of Indian muslin, embroidered with gold lilies, spewed to admiration the outline of her voluptuous form, and her fine lace-cap was worthy of a queen. I threw myself at her feet, entreating her not to delay my happiness any longer.
"Control your ardour a few moments," she said, "here is the altar, and in a few minutes the victim will be in your arms."
"You will see," she added, going to her writing-table, "how far the delicacy and the kind attention of my friend can extend."
She took the box and opened it, but instead of the pretty sheaths that she expected to see, she found my poetry. After reading it aloud, she called me a thief, and smothering me with kisses she entreated me to give her back what I had stolen, but I pretended not to understand. She then read the lines again, considered for one moment, and under pretence of getting a better pen, she left the room, saying,
"I am going to pay you in your own coin."
She came back after a few minutes and wrote the following six lines:
'Sans rien oter au plaisir amoureux, L'objet de ton larcin sert a combier nos voeux. A l'abri du danger, mon ame satisfaite Savoure en surete parfaite; Et si tu veux jauer avec securite, Rends-moi mon doux ami, ces dons de l'amitie.
After this I could not resist any longer, and I gave her back those objects so precious to a nun who wants to sacrifice on the altar of Venus.
The clock striking twelve, I shewed her the principal actor who was longing to perform, and she arranged the sofa, saying that the alcove being too cold we had better sleep on it. But the true reason was that, to satisfy the curious lover, it was necessary for us to be seen.
Dear reader, a picture must have shades, and there is nothing, no matter how beautiful in one point of view, that does not require to be sometimes veiled if you look at it from a different one. In order to paint the diversified scene which took place between me and my lovely mistress until the dawn of day, I should have to use all the colours of Aretino's palette. I was ardent and full of vigour, but I had to deal with a strong partner, and in the morning, after the last exploit, we were positively worn out; so much so that my charming nun felt some anxiety on my account. It is true that she had seen my blood spurt out and cover her bosom during my last offering; and as she did not suspect the true cause of that phenomenon, she turned pale with fright. I allayed her anxiety by a thousand follies which made her laugh heartily. I washed her splendid bosom with rosewater, so as to purify it from the blood by which it had been dyed for the first time. She expressed a fear that she had swallowed a few drops, but I told her that it was of no consequence, even if were the case. She resumed the costume of a nun, and entreating me to lie down and to write to her before returning to Venice, so as to let her know how I was, she left the casino.
I had no difficulty in obeying her, for I was truly in great need of rest. I slept until evening. As soon as I awoke, I wrote to her that my health was excellent, and that I felt quite inclined to begin our delightful contest all over again. I asked her to let me know how she was herself, and after I had dispatched my letter I returned to Venice.