This was just what I wanted.
The following morning Moses received me with great respect. Leah, who was in her ordinary clothes, told me that if I liked to ride she would put on her riding habit.
"Another day," said I; "to-day I should like to converse with you in your own house."
But the father, who was as greedy as most Jews are, said that if I liked driving he could sell me a pretty phaeton with two excellent horses.
"You must shew them to the gentleman," said Leah, possibly in concert with her father.
Moses said nothing, but went out to get the horses harnessed.
"I will look at them," I said to Leah, "but I won't buy, as I should not know what to do with them."
"You can take your lady-love out for a drive."
"That would be you; but perhaps you would be afraid!"
"Not at all, if you drove in the country or the suburbs."
"Very good, Leah, then I will look at them."
The father came in, and we went downstairs. I liked the carriage and the horses, and I told Leah so.
"Well," said Moses, "you can have them now for four hundred sequins, but after Easter the price will be five hundred sequins at least."
Leah got into the carriage, and I sat beside her, and we went for an hour's drive into the country. I told Moses I would give him an answer by the next day, and he went about his business, while Leah and I went upstairs again.
"It's quite worth four hundred sequins," said I, "and to-morrow I will buy it with pleasure; but on the same condition as that on which I bought the horse, and something more--namely, that you will grant me all the favours that a tender lover can desire."
"You speak plainly, and I will answer you in the same way. I'm an honest girl, sir, and not for sale."
"All women, dear Leah, whether they are honest or not, are for sale. When a man has plenty of time he buys the woman his heart desires by unremitting attentions; but when he's in a hurry he buys her with presents, and even with money."
"Then he's a clumsy fellow; he would do better to let sentiment and attention plead his cause and gain the victory."
"I wish I could give myself that happiness, fair Leah, but I'm in a great hurry."
As I finished this sentence her father came in, and I left the house telling him that if I could not come the next day I would come the day after, and that we could talk about the phaeton then.
It was plain that Leah thought I was lavish of my money, and would make a capital dupe. She would relish the phaeton, as she had relished the horse, but I knew that I was not quite such a fool as that. It had not cost me much trouble to resolve to chance the loss of a hundred sequins, but beyond that I wanted some value for my money.
I temporarily suspended my visits to see how Leah and her father would settle it amongst themselves. I reckoned on the Jew's greediness to work well for me. He was very fond of money, and must have been angry that his daughter had not made me buy the phaeton by some means or another, for so long as the phaeton was bought the rest would be perfectly indifferent to him. I felt almost certain that they would come and see me.
The following Saturday I saw the fair Jewess on the promenade. We were near enough for me to accost her without seeming to be anxious to do so, and her look seemed to say, "Come."
"We see no more of you now," said she, "but come and breakfast with me to-morrow, or I will send you back the horse."
I promised to be with her in good time, and, as the reader will imagine, I kept my word.
The breakfast party was almost confined to ourselves, for though her aunt was present she was only there for decency's sake. After breakfast we resolved to have a ride, and she changed her clothes before me, but also before her aunt. She first put on her leather breeches, then let her skirts fall, took off her corset, and donned a jacket. With seeming indifference I succeeded in catching a glimpse of a magnificent breast; but the sly puss knew how much my indifference was worth.
"Will you arrange my frill?" said she.