"Does she think herself bound to be entirely faithful to me, with the knowledge she has now of my own unfaithfulness?"
"She is particularly delicate and conscientious, and though she believes herself truly your wife, she does not think that she has any right to control your actions, but she believes herself bound to give you an account of all she does."
The prudent wife of the door-keeper having brought the supper, we sat down to the well-supplied table. M---- M---- remarked that I had become much thinner.
"The pains of the body do not fatten a man," I said, "and the sufferings of the mind emaciate him. But we have suffered sufficiently, and we must be wise enough never to recall anything which can be painful to us."
"You are quite right, my love; the instants that man is compelled to give up to misfortune or to suffering are as many moments stolen from his life, but he doubles his existence when he has the talent of multiplying his pleasures, no matter of what nature they may be."
We amused ourselves in talking over past dangers, Pierrot's disguise, and the ball at Briati, where she had been told that another Pierrot had made his appearance.
M---- M---- wondered at the extraordinary effect of a disguise, for, said she to me:
"The Pierrot in the parlour of the convent seemed to me taller and thinner than you. If chance had not made you take the convent gondola, if you had not had the strange idea of assuming the disguise of Pierrot, I should not have known who you were, for my friends in the convent would not have been interested in you. I was delighted when I heard that you were not a patrician, as I feared, because, had you been one, I might in time have run some great danger."
I knew very well what she had to fear, but pretending complete ignorance:
"I cannot conceive," I said, "what danger you might run on account of my being a patrician."
"My darling, I cannot speak to you openly, unless you give me your word to do what I am going to ask you."
"How could I hesitate, my love, in doing anything to please you, provided my honour is not implicated? Have we not now everything in common? Speak, idol of my heart, tell me your reasons, and rely upon my love; it is the guarantee of my ready compliance in everything that can give you pleasure:"
"Very well. I want you to give a supper in your casino to me and my friend, who is dying to make your acquaintance."
"And I foresee that after supper you will leave me to go with him."
"You must feel that propriety compels me to do so."
"Your friend already knows, I suppose, who I am?"
"I thought it was right to tell him, because if I had not told him he could not have entertained the hope of supping with you, and especially at your house."
"I understand. I guess your friend is one of the foreign ambassadors."
"But may I hope that he will so far honour me as to throw up his incognito?"
"That is understood. I shall introduce him to you according to accepted forms, telling his name and his political position."
"Then it is all for the best, darling. How could you suppose that I would have any difficulty in procuring you that pleasure, when on the contrary, nothing could please me more myself? Name the day, and be quite certain that I shall anxiously look for it."
"I should have been sure of your compliance, if you had not given me cause to doubt it."
"It is a home-thrust, but I deserve it."
"And I hope it will not make you angry. Now I am happy. Our friend is M. de Bernis, the French ambassador. He will come masked, and as soon as he shews his features I shall present him to you. Recollect that you must treat him as my lover, but you must not appear to know that he is aware of our intimacy."
"I understand that very well, and you shall have every reason to be pleased with my urbanity. The idea of that supper is delightful to me, and I hope that the reality will be as agreeable. You were quite right, my love, to dread my being a patrician, for in that case the State-Inquisitors, who very often think of nothing but of making a show of their zeal, would not have failed to meddle with us, and the mere idea of the possible consequences makes me shudder. I under The Leads--you dishonoured--the abbess--the convent! Good God! Yes, if you had told me what you thought, I would have given you my name, and I could have done so all the more easily that my reserve was only caused by the fear of being known, and of C---- C---- being taken to another convent by her father. But can you appoint a day for the supper? I long to have it all arranged."
"To-day is the fourth; well, then, in four days."
"That will be the eighth?"
"Exactly so. We will go to your casino after the second ballet. Give me all necessary particulars to enable us to find the house without enquiring from anyone."
I sat down and I wrote down the most exact particulars to find the casino either by land or by water. Delighted with the prospect of such a party of pleasure, I asked my mistress to go to bed, but I remarked to her that, being convalescent and having made a hearty supper, I should be very likely to pay my first homages to Morpheus. Yielding to the circumstances, she set the alarum for ten o'clock, and we went to bed in the alcove. As soon as we woke up, Love claimed our attention and he had no cause of complaint, but towards midnight we fell asleep, our lips fastened together, and we found ourselves in that position in the morning when we opened our eyes. Although there was no time to lose, we could not make up our minds to part without making one more offering to Venus.
I remained in the casino after the departure of my divinity, and slept until noon. As soon as I had dressed myself, I returned to Venice, and my first care was to give notice to my cook, so that the supper of the 8th of February should be worthy of the guests and worthy of me.