The widow is a monster who has made me wretched in return for my contempt, and I cannot revenge myself on her. Honour will not allow me to tell you any more, and indeed it would be impossible for you or any one else to alleviate the grief that overwhelms me. It may possibly be my death, but in the mean time, my dear Dubois, I entreat you to continue your friendship towards me, and to treat me with entire candour. I shall always attend to what you say, and thus you will be of the greatest service to me. I shall not be ungrateful."
I spent a weary night as I had expected, for anger, the mother of vengeance, always made me sleepless, while sudden happiness had sometimes the same effect.
I rang for Le Duc early in the morning, but, instead of him, Madame Dubois's ugly little attendant came, and told me that my man was ill, and that the housekeeper would bring me my chocolate. She came in directly after, and I had no sooner swallowed the chocolate than I was seized with a violent attack of sickness, the effect of anger, which at its height may kill the man who cannot satisfy it. My concentrated rage called for vengeance on the dreadful widow, the chocolate came on the top of the anger, and if it had not been rejected I should have been killed; as it was I was quite exhausted. Looking at my housekeeper I saw she was in tears, and asked her why she wept.
"Good heavens! Do you think I have a heart of stone?"
"Calm yourself; I see you pity me. Leave me, and I hope I shall be able to get some sleep."
I went to sleep soon after, and I did not wake till I had slept for seven hours. I felt restored to life. I rang the bell, my housekeeper came in, and told me the surgeon of the place had called. She looked very melancholy, but on seeing my more cheerful aspect I saw gladness reappearing on her pretty face.
"We will dine together, dearest," said I, "but tell the surgeon to come in. I want to know what he has to say to me."
The worthy man entered, and after looking carefully round the room to see that we were alone, he came up to me, and whispered in my ear that Le Duc had a malady of a shameful character.
I burst out laughing, as I had been expecting some terrible news.
"My dear doctor," said I, "do all you can to cure him, and I will pay you handsomely, but next time don't look so doleful when you have anything to tell me. How old are you?"
"May God help you!"
I was all the more ready to sympathize with my poor Spaniard, as I expected to find myself in a like case.
What a fellow-feeling there is between the unfortunate! The poor man will seek in vain for true compassion at the rich man's doors; what he receives is a sacrifice to ostentation and not true benevolence; and the man in sorrow should not look for pity from one to whom sorrow is unknown, if there be such a person on the earth.
My housekeeper came in to dress me, and asked me what had been the doctor's business.
"He must have said something amusing to make you laugh."
"Yes, and I should like to tell you what it was; but before I do so I must ask you if you know what the venereal disease is?"
"Yes, I do; Lady Montagu's footman died of it while I was with her"
"Very good, but you should pretend not to know what it is, and imitate other ladies who assume an ignorance which well becomes them. Poor Le Duc has got this disease."
"Poor fellow, I am sorry for him! Were you laughing at that?"
"No; it was the air of mystery assumed by the old doctor which amused me."
"I too have a confidence to make, and when you have heard it you must either forgive me or send me away directly."
"Here is another bother. What the devil can you have done? Quick! tell me."
"Sir, I have robbed you!"
"What robbed me? When? How? Can you return me what you have taken? I should not have thought you capable of such a thing. I never forgive a robber or a liar."
"You are too hasty, sir. I am sure you will forgive me, as I robbed you only half an hour ago, and I am now going to return to you the theft."
"You are a singular woman, my dear.