"Alas!" said she, "I am happy now, but you must leave me till the evening. Let us talk of our happiness, and enjoy it over again."
"Then you do not repent having made me a happy man?"
"No; it is you who have made me happy. You are an angel from heaven. We loved, we crowned our love; I cannot have done aught to offend God. I am free from all my fears. We have obeyed nature and our destinies. Do you love me still?"
"Can you ask me? I will shew you to-night."
I dressed myself as quickly as possible while we talked of our love, and I left her in bed, bidding her rest.
It was quite light when I got home. Le Duc had not gone to bed, and gave me a letter from the fair Zeroli, telling me that it had been delivered at eleven o'clock. I had not gone to her supper, and I had not escorted her to Chamberi; I had not had time to give her a moment's thought. I was sorry, but I could not do anything. I opened her letter which consisted of only six lines, but they were pregnant ones. She advised me never to go to Turin, for if I went there she would find means to take vengeance on me for the dastardly affront I had put upon her. She reproached me with having put her to public shame, said I had dishonoured her, and vowed she would never forgive me. I did not distress myself to any great extent; I tore up the friendly missive, and after I had had my hair done I went to the fountain.
Everybody flew at me for not having been at Madame Zeroli's supper. I defended myself as best I could, but my excuses were rather tame, about which I did not trouble myself. I was told that all was known, and this amused me as I was aware that nothing was known. The marquis's mistress took hold of my arm, and told me, without any circumlocution, that I had the reputation of being inconstant, and by way of reply I observed politely that I was wrongfully accused, but that if there was any ground for the remark it was because I had never served so sweet a lady as herself. She was flattered by my compliment, and I bit my lip when I heard her ask in the most gracious manner why I did not breakfast sometimes with the marquis.
"I was afraid of disturbing him," said I.
"How do you mean?"
"I should be interrupting him in his business."
"He has no business, and he would be delighted to see you. Come to- morrow, he always breakfasts in my room"
This lady was the widow of a gentleman of quality; she was young, undoubtedly pretty, and possessing in perfection the jargon of good society; nevertheless, she did not attract me. After recently enjoying the fair Zeroli, and finding my suit with the fair nun at the height of its prosperity, I was naturally hard to please, and in plain words--I was perfectly contented with my situation. For all that, I had foolishly placed myself in such a position that I was obliged to give her to understand that she had delighted me by her preference.
She asked the marquis if she could return to the inn.
"Yes," said he, "but I have some business in hand, and cannot come with you."
"Would you be kind enough to escort me?" said she to me. I bowed in assent.
On the way she told me that if Madame Zeroli were still there she would not have dared to take my arm. I could only reply by equivocating, as I had no wish to embark in a fresh intrigue. However, I had no choice; I was obliged to accompany her to her room and sit down beside her; but as I had had no sleep the night before I felt tired and began to yawn, which was not flattering for the lady. I excused myself to the best of my ability, telling her that I was ill, and she believed me or pretended to believe me. But I felt sleep stealing upon me, and I should have infallibly dropped off if it had not been for my hellebore, which kept me awake by making me sneeze.
The marquis came in, and after a thousand compliments he proposed a game of quinze. I begged him to excuse me, and the lady backed me up, saying I could not possibly play in the midst of such a sneezing fit. We went down to dinner, and afterwards I easily consented to make a bank, as I was vexed at my loss of the day before.