Get out of my house this instant and wait for me, I will be with you in a quarter of an hour."
So saying, I took the poor chevalier by the shoulders, and giving him sundry shakes I turned him out of the room. He came back and called to the lady to come, too, but she rose and tried to quiet me.
"You ought to be more considerate towards a lover," said she, "for he would marry my daughter now, even after what she has done."
"I am aware of the fact, madam, and I have no doubt that his courtship was one of the chief reasons which made your daughter resolve to leave her home, for she hated him even more than she hated the fermier-general."
"She has behaved very badly, but I promise not to say anything more about marrying her. But I am sure you know all about it, as you gave her fifty louis, without which she could not have done anything."
"Nay, not so."
"Do not deny it, sir; here is the evidence--a small piece of your letter to her."
She gave me a scrap of the letter I had sent the daughter, with the fifty louis for her brother. It contained the following lines,
"I hope that these wretched louis will convince you that I am ready to sacrifice everything, my life if need be, to assure you of my affection."
"I am far from disavowing this evidence of my esteem for your daughter, but to justify myself I am obliged to tell you a fact which I should have otherwise kept secret--namely, that I furnished your daughter with this sum to enable her to pay your son's debts, for which he thanked me in a letter which I can shew you."
"Your son, madam."
"I will make you an ample atonement for my suspicions."
Before I had time to make any objection, she ran down to fetch Farsetti, who was waiting in the courtyard, and made him come up and hear what I had just told her.
"That's not a likely tale," said the insolent fellow.
I looked at him contemptuously, and told him he was not worth convincing, but that I would beg the lady to ask her son and see whether I told the truth.
"I assure you," I added, "that I always urged your daughter to marry M. de la Popeliniere."
"How can you have the face to say that," said Farsetti, "when you talk in the letter of your affection?"
"I do not deny it," said I. "I loved her, and I was proud of my affection for her. This affection, of whatever sort it may have been (and that is not this gentleman's business), was the ordinary topic of conversation between us. If she had told me that she was going to leave her home, I should either have dissuaded her or gone with her, for I loved her as I do at this moment; but I would never have given her money to go alone."
"My dear Casanova," said the mother, "if you will help me to find her I shall believe in your innocence."
"I shall be delighted to aid you, and I promise to commence the quest to-day."
"As soon as you have any news, come and tell me."
"You may trust me to do so," said I, and we parted.
I had to play my part carefully; especially it was essential that I should behave in public in a manner consistent with my professions. Accordingly, the next day I went to M. Chaban, first commissary of police, requesting him to institute enquiries respecting the flight of Mdlle. X. C. V. I was sure that in this way the real part I had taken in the matter would be the better concealed; but the commissary, who had the true spirit of his profession, and had liked me when he first saw me six years before, began to laugh when he heard what I wanted him to do.
"Do you really want the police to discover," said he, "where the pretty Englishwoman is to be found?"
It then struck me that he was trying to make me talk and to catch me tripping, and I had no doubt of it when I met Farsetti going in as I was coming out.
Next day I went to acquaint Madame X. C. V. with the steps I had taken, though as yet my efforts had not been crowned with success.
"I have been more fortunate than you," said she, "and if you will come with me to the place where my daughter has gone, and will join me in persuading her to return, all will be well."
"Certainly," said I, "I shall be most happy to accompany you."
Taking me at my word, she put on her cloak, and leaning on my arm walked along till we came to a coach.