I gave her this preventive sheath, and she looked, admired, and laughed loudly, asking me if I had used such articles with her Venetian sister. "I will put it on myself; you don't know how I shall enjoy it. Why didn't you use one last night? How could you have forgotten it? Well, I shall be very wretched if anything comes of it. What shall I do in four or five months, when my condition becomes past doubt?"
"Dearest, the only thing to do is not to think of it, for if the damage is done, there is no cure for it; but from my experience and knowledge of the laws of nature I expect that our sweet combats of last night will probably have no troublesome consequences. It has been stated that after child-birth a woman cannot conceive afresh without having seen something which I expect you have not seen."
"No, God be thanked!"
"Good. Then let us not give any thought to the dismal future lest we lose our present bliss."
"I am quite comforted; but I can't understand why you are afraid to- day of what you were not afraid yesterday; my state is the same."
"The event has sometimes given the lie to the most eminent physicians. Nature, wiser than they, has exceptions to her rules, let us not defy them for the future, but let us not trouble ourselves if we have defied there in the past."
"I like to hear you talk so sagely. Yes, we will be prudent whatever it costs. There you are, hooded like a mother abbess, but in spite of the fineness of the sheath I like the little fellow better quite naked. I think that this covering degrades us both."
"You are right, it does. But let us not dwell on these ideas which will only spoil our pleasure."
"We will enjoy our pleasure directly; let me be reasonable now, for I have never thought of these matters before. Love must have invented these little sheaths, but it must first have listened to the voice of prudence, and I do not like to see love and prudence allied."
"The correctness of your arguments surprises me, but we will philosophize another time."
"Wait a minute. I have never seen a man before, and I have never wished to enjoy the sight as much as now. Ten months ago I should have called that article an invention of the devil; but now I look upon the inventor as a benefactor, for if my wretched hump-back had provided himself with such a sheath he would not have exposed me to the danger of losing my honour and my life. But, tell me, how is that the makers of these things remain unmolested; I wonder they are not found out, excommunicated, or heavily fined, or even punished corporeally, if they are Jews as I expect. Dear me, the maker of this one must have measured you badly! Look! it is too large here, and too small there; it makes you into a regular curve. What a stupid the fellow must be, he can't know his own trade! But what is that?"
"You make me laugh; it's all your fault. You have been feeling and fondling, and you see the natural consequence. I knew it would be so."
"And you couldn't keep it back a minute. It is going on now. I am so sorry; it is a dreadful pity."
"There is not much harm done, so console yourself."
"How can I? you are quite dead. How can you laugh?"
"At your charming simplicity. You shall see in a moment that your charms will give me new life which I shall not lose so easily."
"Wonderful! I couldn't have believed it!"
I took off the sheath, and gave her another, which pleased her better, as it seemed to fit me better, and she laughed for joy as she put it on. She knew nothing of these wonders. Her thoughts had been bound in chains, and she could not discover the truth before she knew me; but though she was scarcely out of Egypt she shewed all the eagerness of an enquiring and newly emancipated spirit. "But how if the rubbing makes the sheath fall off?" said she. I explained to her that such an accident could scarcely happen, and also told her of what material the English made these articles.
After all this talking, of which my ardour began to weary, we abandoned ourselves to love, then to sleep, then to love again, and so on alternately till day-break.