She was young, pretty, elegant, intellectual, and of distinguished manners; I could not guess what would be the end of our connection. I longed to speak to M. Lebel, to thank him for getting me such a marvel, and still more, to ask him some questions about her.
After the supper had been taken away, she came to ask if I would have my hair put in curl papers.
"It's Le Duc's business," I answered, "but if you like, it shall be yours for the future."
She acquitted herself like an expert.
"I see," said I, "that you are going to serve me as you served Lady Montagu."
"Not altogether; but as you do not like melancholy, allow me to ask a favour."
"Do so, my dear."
"Please do not ask me to give you your bath."
"Upon my honour, I did not think of doing so. It would be scandalous. That's Le Duc's business."
"Pardon me, and allow me to ask another favour."
"Tell me everything you want."
"Allow me to have one of the door-keeper's daughters to sleep with me."
"If it had come into my head, I would have proposed it to you. Is she in your room now?"
"Go and call her, then."
"Let us leave that till to-morrow, as if I went at this time of night it might make people talk."
"I see you have a store of discretion, and you may be sure I will not deprive you of any of it."
She helped me to undress, and must have found me very modest, but I must say it was not from virtue. My heart was engaged elsewhere, and Madame Dubois had impressed me; I was possibly duped by her, but I did not trouble myself to think whether I was or not. I rang for Le Duc in the morning, and on coming in he said he had not expected the honour.
"You're a rascal," I said, "get two cups of chocolate ready directly after I have had my bath."
After I had taken my first cold bath, which I greatly enjoyed, I went to bed again. Madame Dubois came in smiling, dressed in a style of careless elegance.
"You look in good spirits."
"I am, because I am happy with you. I have had a good night, and there is now in my room a girl as lovely as an angel, who is to sleep with me."
"Call her in."
She called her, and a monster of ugliness entered, who made me turn my head away.
"You haven't given yourself a rival certainly, my dear, but if she suits you it is all right. You shall have your breakfast with me, and I hope you will take chocolate with me every morning."
"I shall be delighted, as I am very fond of it."
I had a pleasant afternoon. M. de Chavigni spent several hours with me. He was pleased with everything, and above all with my fair housekeeper, of whom Lebel had said nothing to him.
"She will be an excellent cure for your love for Madame," said he.
"There you are wrong," I answered, "she might make me fall in love with her without any diminution of my affection for my charmer."
Next day, just as I was sitting down to table with my housekeeper, I saw a carriage coming into the courtyard, and my detestable lame widow getting out of it. I was terribly put out, but the rules of politeness compelled me to go and receive her.
"I was far from anticipating that you would do me so great an honour, madam."
"I daresay; I have come to dine with you, and to ask you to do me a favour."
"Come in, then, dinner is just being served. I beg to introduce Madame Dubois to you."
I turned towards my charming housekeeper, and told her that the lady would dine with us.
Madame Dubois, in the character of mistress of the house, did the honours admirably, and my lame friend, in spite of her pride, was very polite to her. I did not speak a dozen words during the meal, and paid no sort of attention to the detestable creature; but I was anxious to know what she could want me to do for her. As soon as Madame Dubois had left the room she told me straight out that she had come to ask me to let her have a couple of rooms in my house for three weeks or a month at the most.
I was astonished at such a piece of impudence, and told her she asked more than I was at liberty to give.