We had spent four or five delicious hours on the sofa. She then left me, and after making a good fire she went to her room, and I remained on the sofa and slept till noon. I was awakened by Madame, who wore a graceful undress.
"Still asleep, M. Casanova?"
"Ah! good morning, madam, good morning. And what has become of my friend?"
"He has become mine, I have forgiven him."
"What has he done to be worthy of so generous a pardon?"
"He proved to me that he made a mistake."
"I am delighted to hear it; where is he?"
"He has gone home, where you will find him; but don't say anything about your spending the night here, or he will think it was spent with my niece. I am very much obliged to you for what you have done, and I have only to ask you to be discreet."
"You can count on me entirely, for I am grateful to you for having forgiven my friend."
"Who would not do so? The dear young man is something more than mortal. If you knew how he loved me! I am grateful to him, and I have taken him to board for a year; he will be well lodged, well fed, and so on."
"What a delightful plan! You have arranged the terms, I suppose."
"All that will be settled in a friendly way, and we shall not need to have recourse to arbitration. We shall set out to-day for Villette, where I have a nice little house; for you know that it is necessary, at first, to act in such a way as to give no opportunity to slanderers. My lover will have all he wants, and whenever you, sir, honour us with your presence you will find a pretty room and a good bed at your disposal. All I am sorry for is that you will find it tedious; my poor niece is so dull."
"Madam, your niece is delightful; she gave me yesterday evening an excellent supper and kept me company till three o'clock this morning."
"Really? I can't make it out how she gave you anything, as there was nothing in the house."
"At any rate, madam, she gave me an excellent supper, of which there are no remains, and after keeping me company she went to bed, and I have had a good night on this comfortable sofa."
"I am glad that you, like myself, were pleased with everything, but I did not think my niece so clever."
"She is very clever, madam--in my eyes, at all events:"
"Oh, sir! you are a judge of wit, let us go and see her. She has locked her door. Come open the door, why have you shut yourself up, you little prude? what are you afraid of. My Casanova is incapable of hurting you."
The niece opened her door and apologized for the disorder of her dress, but what costume could have suited her better? Her costume was dazzling."
"There she is," said the aunt, "and she is not so bad looking after all, but it is a pity she is so stupid. You were very right to give this gentleman a supper. I am much obliged to you for doing so. I have been playing all night, and when one is playing one only thinks of the game. I have determined on taking young Tiretta to board with us. He is an excellent and clever young man, and I am sure he will learn to speak French before long. Get dressed, my dear, as we must begin to pack. We shall set out this afternoon for Villette, and shall spend there the whole of the spring. There is no need, you know, to say anything about this to my sister:"
"I, aunt? Certainly not. Did I ever tell her anything on the other occasions?"
"Other occasions! You see what a silly girl it is. Do you mean by 'other occasions,' that I have been circumstanced like this before?"
"No, aunt. I only meant to say that I had never told her anything of what you did."
"That's right, my dear, but you must learn to express yourself properly. We dine at two, and I hope to have the pleasure of M. Casanova's company at dinner; we will start immediately after the meal. Tiretta promised to bring his small portmanteau with him, and it will go with our luggage."
After promising to dine with them, I bade the ladies good-bye; and I went home as fast as I could walk, for I was as curious as a woman to know what arrangements had been made.