She went off in a carriage, and the landlord's bill was paid. I was interested in the woman. The Marquis Grimaldi told me that she had refused a hundred louis he offered her, and that a Venetian of his acquaintance had fared just as badly. Perhaps that is you?"
"It is, and I gave her some money despite my treatment."
M. Peterson came to see me, and was enchanted with Rosalie's amiable manner. This was another conquest for her, and I duly complimented her upon it.
Nice is a terribly dull place, and strangers are tormented by the midges, who prefer them to the inhabitants. However, I amused myself at a small bank at faro, which was held at a coffee-house, and at which Rosalie, whose play I directed, won a score of Piedmontese pistoles. She put her little earnings into a purse, and told me she liked to have some money of her own. I scolded her for not having told me so before, and reminded her of her promise.
"I don't really want it," said she, "it's only my thoughtlessness."
We soon made up our little quarrel.
In such ways did I make this girl my own, in the hope that for the remnant of my days she would be mine, and so I should not be forced to fly from one lady to another. But inexorable fate ordained it otherwise.
The weather grew fine again, and we got on board once more, and the next day arrived at Genoa, which I had never seen before. I put up at "St. Martin's Inn," and for decency's sake took two rooms, but they were adjoining one another. The following day I sent the packet to M. Grimaldi, and a little later I left my card at his palace.
My guide took me to a linen-draper's, and I bought some stuff for Rosalie, who was in want of linen. She was very pleased with it.
We were still at table when the Marquis Grimaldi was announced; he kissed me and thanked me for bringing the parcel. His next remark referred to Madame Stuard. I told him what had happened, and he laughed, saying that he was not quite sure what he would have done under the circumstances.
I saw him looking at Rosalie attentively, and I told him she was as good as she was beautiful.
"I want to find her a maid," I said, "a good seamstress, who could go out with her, and above all who could talk Italian to her, for I want her to learn the language that I may take her into society at Florence, Rome and Naples."
"Don't deprive Genoa of the pleasure of entertaining her," said the marquis. "I will introduce her under whatever name she pleases, and in my own house to begin with."
"She has good reasons for preserving her incognito here."
"Ah, I see!--Do you think of staying here long?"
"A month, or thereabouts, and our pleasures will be limited to seeing the town and its surroundings and going to the theatre. We shall also enjoy the pleasures of the table. I hope to eat champignons every day, they are better here than anywhere else"
"An excellent plan. I couldn't suggest a better. I am going to see what I can do in the way of getting you a maid, mademoiselle."
"You sir? How can I deserve such great kindness?"
"My interest in you is the greater, as I think you come from Marseilles."
Rosalie blushed. She was not aware that she lisped, and that this betrayed her. I extricated her from her confusion by telling the marquis his conjecture was well founded.
I asked him how I could get the Journal de Savans, the Mercure de France, and other papers of the same description. He promised to send me a man who would get me all that kind of thing. He added that if I would allow him to send me some of his excellent chocolate he would come and breakfast with us. I said that both gift and guest were vastly agreeable to me.
As soon as he had gone Rosalie asked me to take her to a milliner's.
"I want ribbons and other little things," said she, "but I should like to bargain for them and pay for them out of my own money, without your having anything to do with it."
"Do whatever you like, my dear, and afterwards we will go to the play."
The milliner to whom we went proved to be a Frenchwoman.