She repaid this compliment with a charming smile.
After this declaration, feeling myself entitled to play, I put down forty louis, and lost them in two deals. I got up, and on the banker saying very politely that he was sorry for my loss, I replied that it was a mere nothing, but that I always made it a rule never to risk a sum of money larger than the bank. Somebody then asked me if I knew a certain Abbe Gilbert.
"I knew a man of that name," said I, "at Paris; he came from Lyons, and owes me a pair of ears, which I mean to cut off his head when I meet him."
My questioner made no reply to this, and everybody remained silent, as if nothing had been said. From this I concluded that the abbe aforesaid must be the same whose place I had occupied at dinner. He had doubtless seen me on my arrival and had taken himself off. This abbe was a rascal who had visited me at Little Poland, to whom I had entrusted a ring which had cost me five thousand florins in Holland; next day the scoundrel had disappeared.
When everybody had left the table, I asked Le Duc if I were well lodged.
"No," said he; "would you like to see your room?"
He took me to a large room, a hundred paces from the inn, whose sole furniture consisted of its four walls, all the other rooms being occupied. I complained vainly to the inn-keeper, who said,
"It's all I can offer you, but I will have a good bed, a table, and chairs taken there."
I had to content myself with it, as there was no choice.
"You will sleep in my room," said I to Le Duc, "take care to provide yourself with a bed, and bring my baggage in."
"What do you think of Gilbert, sir?" said my Spaniard; "I only recognized him just as he was going, and I had a lively desire to take him by the back of his neck."
"You would have done well to have satisfied that desire."
"I will, when I see him again."
As I was leaving my big room, I was accosted politely by a man who said he was glad to be my neighbour, and offered to take me to the fountain if I were going there. I accepted his offer. He was a tall fair man, about fifty years old; he must once have been handsome, but his excessive politeness should have made me suspect him; however, I wanted somebody to talk to, and to give me the various pieces of information I required. On the way he informed me of the condition of the people I had seen, and I learnt that none of them had come to Aix for the sake of the waters.
"I am the only one," said he, "who takes them out of necessity. I am consumptive; I get thinner every day, and if the waters don't do me any good I shall not last much longer."
So all the others have only come here for amusement's sake?"
"And to game, sir, for they are all professional gamesters."
"Are they French?"
"They are all from Piedmont or Savoy; I am the only Frenchman here."
"What part of France do you come from?"
"From Lorraine; my father, who is eighty years old, is the Marquis Desarmoises. He only keeps on living to spite me, for as I married against his wishes he has disinherited me. However, as I am his only son, I shall inherit his property after his death, in spite of him. My house is at Lyons, but I never go there, as I have the misfortune to be in love with my eldest daughter, and my wife watches us so closely as to make my courtship hopeless."
"That is very fine; otherwise, I suppose, your daughter would take pity on her amorous papa?"
"I daresay, for she is very fond of me, and has an excellent heart."
My Adventures at Aix--My Second M. M.--Madame Zeroli
This man, who, though he did not know me, put the utmost confidence in me, so far from thinking he was horrifying me by the confession of such wickedness, probably considered he was doing me a great honour. While I listened to him I reflected that though depraved he might have his good points, and that his weakness might have a pitiable if not a pardonable side. However, wishing to know more of him, I said,--
"In spite of your father's sternness, you live very well."
"On the contrary, I live very ill.