"I thought you were gone?"
"I am going at two."
I found her still more enticing in bed than at table. I helped her to put on her stays, and the sight of her charms inflamed my ardour, but I experienced more resistance than I had anticipated. I sat down at the foot of the bed, and told her how fervently I loved her, and how unhappy I was at not being able to give her marks of my love before I left.
"But," said she, laughing, "you have only got to stay."
"Give me some hope, and I will stay till to-morrow."
"You are in too much of a hurry, take things more quietly."
I contented myself with the few favours she granted me, pretending as usual only to yield to violence, when I was obliged to restrain myself on the appearance of her husband, who took the precaution of making a noise before he carne in. As soon as she saw him, she said, without the slightest perturbation, "I have persuaded the gentleman to stay tell the day after to-morrow."
"I am all the more pleased to hear it, my dear," said the chevalier, "as I owe him his revenge."
With these words he took up a pack of cards, which came as readily to his hands as if they had been placed there on purpose, and seating himself beside his wife, whom he made into the table, he began to deal.
I could not draw back, and as my thoughts were distracted I kept on losing till they came to tell me dinner was ready.
"I have no time to dress," said the lady, "so I will have my dinner in bed, if you gentlemen will keep me company."
How could I refuse? The husband went out to order the dinner, and feeling myself authorized by the loss of twenty Louis, I told the hussy that if she would not give me a plain promise to make me happy that afternoon I should go away when I had had my dinner.
"Breakfast with me to-morrow morning. We shall be alone."
After receiving from her certain earnests of her promise, I promised to stay on.
We dined by her bedside, and I told Le Duc that I should not be going till the afternoon of the next day, which made the husband and wife radiant. When we had done, the lady said she would like to get up; and I went out, promising to return and play piquet with her. I proceeded to reline my purse, and I met Desarmoises, who said,
"I have found out the secret; they gave her coachman two Louis to substitute a sick horse for his own."
"It's a matter of give and take," said I; "I am in love with the chevalier's wife, and I am putting off my departure till I have got all I want out of her."
"I am afraid you will have to pay pretty dearly for your pleasure. However, I will do what I can for your interests."
I thanked him smilingly, and returned to the lady, whom I left at eight o'clock under pretext of a violent headache, after having lost ten louis to her. I reminded her of her promise for next morning at nine o'clock, and I left her in the midst of the company.
It was a fine moonlight night as I walked towards the peasant's house, where I was to see my dear M---- M---- once more. I was impatient to see what the visit, on which the rest of my life might depend, would bring forth.
I had taken the precaution to provide myself with a pair of pistols, and my sword hung at my side, for I was not wholly devoid of suspicion in this place, where there were so many adventurers; but at twenty paces from the cottage I saw the woman coming towards me. She told me that the nun could not come down, so I must be content to enter through the window, by means of a ladder which she had placed there for the purpose. I drew near, and not seeing any light I should not have easily decided on going up, if I had not heard the voice I thought I knew so well, saying, "Fear nothing; come." Besides, the window was not very high up, and there could not be much danger of a trap. I ascended, and thought for certain that I held my dear M---- M---- in my arms, as I covered her face with my ardent kisses.
"Why," said I, in Venetian, "have you not a light? I hope you are going to inform me of an event which seems wonderful to me; quick, dearest, satisfy my impatience."
The reader will guess my surprise when he learns that on hearing her voice close to me I found that she was not M---- M----.