You have only got to fancy that the king will take the same liking to you that I have done; that is all."
"But what do you find in me that you will not find in most girls of my age? I certainly may have struck you; but that only proves that I was born to exercise this sway over you, and not at all that I am to rule the king in like manner. Why should I go and look for the king, if you love me yourself?"
"Because I cannot give you the position you deserve."
"I should have thought you had plenty of money."
"Then there's another reason: you are not in love with me."
"I love you as tenderly as if I were your wife. I might then kiss you, though duty now forbids my doing so."
"I am much obliged to you for not being angry with me for being so happy with you!"
"On the contrary, I am delighted to please you."
"Then you will allow me to call on you at an early hour to-morrow, and to take coffee at your bedside."
"Do not dream of such a thing. If I would I could not. I sleep with my aunt, and I always rise at the same time she does. Take away your hand; you promised not to do it again. In God's name, let me alone."
Alas! I had to stop; there was no overcoming her. But what pleased me extremely was that in spite of my amorous persecution she did not lose that smiling calm which so became her. As for myself I looked as if I deserved that pardon for which I pleaded on my knees, and in her eyes I read that she was sorry that she could not grant what I required of her.
I could no longer stay beside her, my senses were too excited by her beauty. I left her and went to my room where I found the kind Manon busying herself on my cuffs, and she gave me the relief I wanted, and when we were both satisfied made her escape. I reflected that I should never obtain more than I had obtained hitherto from young Mdlle. Roman--at least, unless I gave the lie to my horoscope by marrying her, and I decided that I would not take any further steps in the matter. I returned to the garden, and going up to the aunt I begged her to walk with me. In vain I urged the worthy woman to accept a hundred louis for her niece's journey from me. I swore to her by all I held sacred that no one else should ever know of the circumstance. All my eloquence and all my prayers were in vain. She told me that if her niece's destiny only depended on that journey all would be well, for she had thought over a plan which would, with her husband's consent, enable Mdlle. Roman to go to Paris. At the same time she gave me her sincerest thanks, and said that her niece was very fortunate to have pleased me so well.
"She pleased me so well," I replied, "that I have resolved to go away to-morrow to avoid making proposals to you which would bring the great fortune that awaits her to nought. If it were not for that I should have been happy to have asked her hand of you."
"Alas! her happiness would, perhaps, be built on a better foundation. Explain yourself."
"I dare not wage war with fate."
"But you are not going to-morrow?"
"Excuse me, but I shall call to take leave at two o'clock."
The news of my approaching departure saddened the supper-table. Madame Morin, who, for all I know, may be alive now, was a most kind-hearted woman. At table she announced her resolve that as I had decided on going, and as I should only leave my house to take leave of her, she would not force me to put myself out to such an extent, and ordained that our farewells should be said that evening.
"At least," I said, "I may have the honour of escorting you to your door?"
"That will protract our happiness for some minutes." Valenglard went away on foot, and the fair Mdlle. Roman sat on my knee. I dared to be bold with her, and contrary to expectation she shewed herself so kind that I was half sorry I was going; but the die was cast.
A carriage lying overturned on the road outside an inn made my coachman stop a short while, and this accident which made the poor driver curse overwhelmed me with joy, for in these few moments I obtained all the favours that she could possibly give under the circumstances.