He said that spelling was of no consequence, as those who knew how to spell could easily guess the words, while those who did not know were unable to pick out the mistakes. I laughed, but as I said nothing he thought the laugh signified approval. In the dictation I gave him the Council of Trent happened to occur. According to his system he wrote Trent by a three and a nought. I burst out laughing; but he was not in the least put out, only remarking that the pronunciation being the same it was of no consequence how the word was spelt. In point of fact this lad was a fool solely through his intelligence, matched with ignorance and unbounded self-confidence. I was pleased with his originality and kept him, and was thus the greater fool of the two, as the reader will see.
I left Avignon next day, and went straight to Marseilles, not troubling to stop at Aix. I halted at the "Treize Cantons," wishing to stay for a week at least in this ancient colony of the Phocaeans, and to do as I liked there. With this idea I took no letter of introduction; I had plenty of money, and needed nobody's help. I told my landlord to give me a choice fish dinner in my own room, as I was aware that the fish in those parts is better than anywhere else.
I went out the next morning with a guide, to take me back to the inn when I was tired of walking. Not heeding where I went, I reached a fine quay; I thought I was at Venice again, and I felt my bosom swell, so deeply is the love of fatherland graven on the heart of every good man. I saw a number of stalls where Spanish and Levantine wines were kept, and a number of people drinking in them. A crowd of business men went hither and thither, running up against each other, crossing each other's paths, each occupied with his own business, and not caring whose way he got into. Hucksters, well dressed and ill dressed, women, pretty and plain, women who stared boldly at everyone, modest maidens with downcast eyes, such was the picture I saw.
The mixture of nationalities, the grave Turk and the glittering Andalusian, the French dandy, the gross Negro, the crafty Greek, the dull Hollander; everything reminded me of Venice, and I enjoyed the scene.
I stopped a moment at a street corner to read a playbill, and then I went back to the inn and refreshed my weary body with a delicious dinner, washed down with choice Syracusan wine. After dinner I dressed and took a place in the amphitheatre of the theatre.
Rosalie--Toulon--Nice--I Arrive at Genoa--M. Grimaldi--Veronique and Her Sister
I noticed that the four principal boxes on both sides of the proscenium were adorned with pretty women, but not a single gentleman. In the interval between the first and second acts I saw gentlemen of all classes paying their devoirs to these ladies. Suddenly I heard a Knight of Malta say to a girl, who was the sole occupant of a box next to me,
"I will breakfast with you to-morrow."
This was enough for me. I looked at her more closely and finding her to be a dainty morsel I said, as soon as the knight had gone,-
"Will you give me my supper?"
"With pleasure; but I have been taken in so often that I shan't expect you without an earnest."
"How can I give you an earnest? I don't understand."
"You must be a new-comer here."
She laughed, called the knight, and said,--
"Be pleased to explain to this gentleman, who has just asked me for supper, the meaning of the word 'earnest.'"
The good-natured knight explained, with a smile, that the lady, fearing lest my memory should prove defective, wanted me to pay for my supper in advance. I thanked him, and asked her if a louis would be enough; and on her replying in the affirmative, I gave her the Louis and asked for her address. The knight told me politely that he would take me there himself after the theatre, adding,--
"She's the wantonest wench in all Marseilles."
He then asked me if I knew the town, and when I told him that I had only come that day he said he was glad to be the first to make my acquaintance.