The departure of Mdlle. de la Meure had a good deal to do with my determination to declare myself; and I was very sorry to have done so afterwards, for after I had told her I loved her Clement was dismissed, and my position was worse than before. The man who declares his love for a woman in words wants to be sent to school again.
Three days after the departure of Tiretta, I took him what small belongings he had, and Madame seemed very glad to see me. The Abbe des Forges arrived just as we were sitting down to dinner, and though he had been very friendly to me at Paris he did not so much as look at me all through the meal, and treated Tiretta in the same way. I, for my part, took no notice of him, but Tiretta, not so patient as I, at last lost his temper and got up, begging Madame to tell him when she was going to have that fellow to dine with her. We rose from table without saying a word, and the silent abbe went with madam into another room.
Tiretta took me to see his room, which was handsomely furnished, and, as was right, adjoined his sweetheart's. Whilst he was putting his things in order, Mdlle. de la Meure made me come and see my apartment. It was a very nice room on the ground floor, and facing hers. I took care to point out to her how easily I could pay her a visit after everyone was in bed, but she said we should not be comfortable in her room, and that she would consequently save me the trouble of getting out of bed. It will be guessed that I had no objections to make to this arrangement.
She then told me of her aunt's folly about Tiretta.
"She believes," said she, "that we do not know he sleeps with her."
"Believes, or pretends to believe."
"Possibly. She rang for me at eleven o'clock this morning and told me to go and ask him what kind of night he had passed. I did so, but seeing his bed had not been slept in I asked him if he had not been to sleep.
"'No,' said he, 'I have been writing all night, but please don't say anything about it to your aunt: I promised with all my heart to be as silent as the grave."
"Does he make sheep's eyes at you?"
"No, but if he did it would be all the same. Though he is not over sharp he knows, I think, what I think of him."
"Why have you such a poor opinion of him?"
"Why? My aunt pays him. I think selling one's self is a dreadful idea."
"But you pay me."
"Yes, but in the same coin as you give me."
The old aunt was always calling her niece stupid, but on the contrary I thought her very clever, and as virtuous as clever. I should never have seduced her if she had not been brought up in a convent.
I went back to Tiretta, and had some pleasant conversation with him. I asked him how he liked his place.
"I don't like it much, but as it costs me nothing I am not absolutely wretched."
"But her face!"
"I don't look at it, and there's one thing I like about her--she is so clean."
"Does she take good care of you?"
"O yes, she is full of feeling for me. This morning she refused the greeting I offered her. 'I am sure,' said she, 'that my refusal will pain you, but your health is so dear to me that I feel bound to look after it."
As soon as the gloomy Abbe des Forges was gone and Madame was alone, we rejoined her. She treated me as her gossip, and played the timid child for Tiretta's benefit, and he played up to her admirably, much to my admiration.
"I shall see no more of that foolish priest," said she; "for after telling me that I was lost both in this world and the next he threatened to abandon me, and I took him at his word."
An actress named Quinault, who had left the stage and lived close by, came to call, and soon after Madame Favart and the Abbe de Voisenon arrived, followed by Madame Amelin with a handsome lad named Calabre, whom she called her nephew. He was as like her as two peas, but she did not seem to think that a sufficient reason for confessing she was his mother. M. Patron, a Piedmontese, who also came with her, made a bank at faro and in a couple of hours won everybody's money with the exception of mine, as I knew better than to play.