"Begin," said she, "by offering the hundred ducats to the mother, and if she refuses, have no more to do with them, and go elsewhere."
I returned to the dressing-room, where I found the mother alone, and without any ceremony spoke as follows:--
"Good evening, madam, I am a stranger here; I am only staying a week, and I am in love with your daughter. If you like to be obliging, bring her to sup with me. I will give you a hundred sequins each time, so you see my purse is in your power."
"Whom do you think you are talking to, sir? I am astonished at your impudence. Ask the townsfolk what sort of character I bear, and whether my daughter is an honest girl or not! and you will not make such proposals again."
As I went out I met Redegonde, and I told her word for word the conversation I had had with her mother. She burst out laughing.
"Have I done well or ill?" said I.
"Well enough, but if you love me come and see me."
"See you after what your mother said?"
"Well, why not, who knows of it?"
"Who knows? You don't know me, Redegonde. I do not care to indulge myself in idle hopes, and I thought I had spoken to you plainly enough."
Feeling angry, and vowing to have no more to do with this strange girl, I supped with Therese, and spent three delightful hours with her. I had a great deal of writing to do the next day and kept in doors, and in the evening I had a visit from the young Corticelli, her mother and brother. She begged me to keep my promise regarding the manager of the theatre, who would not let her dance the 'pas de deux' stipulated for in the agreement.
"Come and breakfast with me to-morrow morning," said I, "and I will speak to the Israelite in your presence--at least I will do so if he comes."
"I love you very much," said the young wanton, "can't I stop a little longer here."
"You may stop as long as you like, but as I have got some letters to finish, I must ask you to excuse my entertaining you."
"Oh! just as you please."
I told Costa to give her some supper.
I finished my letters and felt inclined for a little amusement, so I made the girl sit by me and proceeded to toy with her, but in such a way that her mother could make no objection. All at once the brother came up and tried to join in the sport, much to my astonishment.
"Get along with you," said I, "you are not a girl."
At this the young scoundrel proceeded to shew me his sex, but in such an indecent fashion that his sister, who was sitting on my knee, burst out laughing and took refuge with her mother, who was sitting at the other end of the room in gratitude for the good supper I had given her. I rose from my chair, and after giving the impudent pederast a box on the ear I asked the mother with what intentions she had brought the young rascal to my house. By way of reply the infamous woman said,--
"He's a pretty lad, isn't he?"
I gave him a ducat for the blow I had given him, and told the mother to begone, as she disgusted me. The pathic took my ducat, kissed my hand, and they all departed.
I went to bed feeling amused at the incident, and wondering at the wickedness of a mother who would prostitute her own son to the basest of vices.
Next morning I sent and asked the Jew to call on me. The Corticelli came with her mother, and the Jew soon after, just as we were going to breakfast.
I proceeded to explain the grievance of the young dancer, and I read the agreement he had made with her, telling him politely that I could easily force him to fulfil it. The Jew put in several excuses, of which the Corticelli demonstrated the futility. At last the son of Judah was forced to give in, and promised to speak to the ballet-master the same day, in order that she might dance the 'pas' with the actor she named.
"And that, I hope, will please your excellency," he added, with a low bow, which is not often a proof of sincerity, especially among Jews.
When my guests had taken leave I went to the Abbe Gama, to dine with Marshal Botta who had asked us to dinner.