Let us say no more about it, but be happy."
Costa placed a basket containing ten packets of sweets, upon the table.
"I will distribute them," said I, "when everybody is here."
On this, Momolo's second daughter told me that Mariuccia and her mother were not coming, but that they would send them the sweets.
"Why are they not coming?"
"They had a quarrel yesterday," said the father, "and Mariuccia, who was in the right, went away saying that she would never come here again."
"You ungrateful girls!" said I, to my host's daughters, "don't you know that it is to her that you owe your winnings, for she gave me the number twenty-seven, which I should never have thought of. Quick! think of some way to make her come, or I will go away and take all the sweets with me."
"You are quite right," said Momolo.
The mortified girls looked at one another and begged their father to fetch her.
"Ira," said he, "that won't do; you made her say that she would never come here again, and you must make up the quarrel."
They held a short consultation, and then, asking Costa to go with them, they went to fetch her.
In half an hour they returned in triumph, and Costa was quite proud of the part he had taken in the reconciliation. I then distributed the sweets, taking care to give the two best packets to the fair Mary.
A noble polenta was placed upon the board, flanked by two large dishes of pork chops. But Momolo, who knew my tastes, and whom I had made rich in the person of his daughters, added to the feast some delicate dishes and some excellent wine. Mariuccia was simply dressed, but her elegance and beauty and the modesty of her demeanour completely seduced me.
We could only express our mutual flames by squeezing each other's hands; and she did this so feelingly that I could not doubt her love. As we were going out I took care to go downstairs beside her and asked if I could not meet her by herself, to which she replied by making an appointment with me far the next day at eight o'clock at the Trinity of Monti.
Mariuccia was tall and shapely, a perfect picture, as fair as a white rose, and calculated to inspire voluptuous desires. She had beautiful light brown hair, dark blue eyes, and exquisitely arched eyelids. Her mouth, the vermilion of her lips, and her ivory teeth were all perfect. Her well-shaped forehead gave her an air approaching the majestic. Kindness and gaiety sparkled in her eyes; while her plump white hands, her rounded finger-tips, her pink nails, her breast, which the corset seemed scarcely able to restrain, her dainty feet, and her prominent hips, made her worthy of the chisel of Praxiteles. She was just on her eighteenth year, and so far had escaped the connoisseurs. By a lucky chance I came across her in a poor and wretched street, and I was fortunate enough to insure her happiness.
It may easily be believed that I did not fail to keep the appointment, and when she was sure I had seen her she went out of the church. I followed her at a considerable distance: she entered a ruined building, and I after her. She climbed a flight of steps which seemed to be built in air, and when she had reached the top she turned.
"No one will come and look for me here," said she, "so we can talk freely together."
I sat beside her on a stone, and I then declared my passionate love for her.
"Tell me," I added, "what I can do to make you happy; for I wish to possess you, but first to shew my deserts."
"Make me happy, and I will yield to your desires, for I love you."
"Tell me what I can do."
"You can draw me out of the poverty and misery which overwhelm me. I live with my mother, who is a good woman, but devout to the point of superstition; she will damn my soul in her efforts to save it. She finds fault with my keeping myself clean, because I have to touch myself when I wash, and that might give rise to evil desires.
"If you had given me the money you made me win in the lottery as a simple alms she would have made me refuse it, because you might have had intentions.