But here I must note down an event worthy of being recorded, which was extremely prejudicial to me.
Five or six days before my departure Desarmoises came to me looking very downcast, and told me that he had been ordered to leave Turin in twenty-four hours.
"Do you know why?" I asked him.
"Last night when I was at the coffee-house, Count Scarnafis dared to say that France subsidised the Berne newspapers. I told him he lied, at which he rose and left the place in a rage, giving me a glance the meaning of which is not doubtful. I followed him to bring him to reason or to give him satisfaction; but he would do nothing and I suspect he went to the police to complain. I shall have to leave Turin early to-morrow morning."
"You're a Frenchman, and as you can claim the protection of your ambassador you will be wrong to leave so suddenly."
"In the first place the ambassador is away, and in the second my cruel father disavows me. No, I would rather go, and wait for you at Lyons. All I want is for you to lend me a hundred crowns, for which I will give you an account."
"It will be an easy account to keep," said I, "but a long time before it is settled."
"Possibly; but if it is in my power I will shew my gratitude for the kindnesses you have done me."
I gave him a hundred crowns and wished him a pleasant journey, telling him that I should stop some time at Lyons.
I got a letter of credit on an Augsburg house, and three days after I left Turin I was at Chamberi. There was only one inn there in those days, so I was not much puzzled to choose where I would go, but for all that I found myself very comfortable.
As I entered my room, I was struck by seeing an extremely pretty girl coming out of an adjacent room.
"Who is that young lady?" said I to the chambermaid who was escorting me.
"That's the wife of a young gentleman who has to keep his bed to get cured of a sword-thrust which he received four days ago on his way from France."
I could not look at her without feeling the sting of concupiscence. As I was leaving my room I saw the door half open, and I stopped short and offered my services as a neighbour. She thanked me politely, and asked me in. I saw a handsome young man sitting up in bed, so I went up to enquire how he felt.
"The doctor will not let him talk," said the young lady, "on account of a sword-thrust in the chest he received at half a league from here. We hope he will be all right in a few days, and then we can continue our journey."
"Where are you going, madam?"
Just as I was leaving, a maid came to ask me if I would take supper in my own room or with the lady. I laughed at her stupidity, and said I would sup in my own apartment, adding that I had not the honour of the lady's acquaintance.
At this the young lady said it would give her great pleasure if I would sup with her, and the husband repeated this assurance in a whisper. I accepted the invitation gratefully, and I thought that they were really pleased. The lady escorted me out as far as the stairs, and I took the liberty of kissing her hand, which in France is a declaration of tender though respectful affection.
At the post-office I found a letter from Valenglard, telling me that Madame Morin would wait on me at Chamberi if I would send her a carriage, and another from Desarmoises dated from Lyons. He told me that as he was on his way from Chamberi he had encountered his daughter in company with a rascal who had carried her off. He had buried his sword in his body, and would have killed them if he had been able to stop their carriage. He suspected that they had been staying in Chamberi, and he begged me to try and persuade his daughter to return to Lyons; and he added that if she would not do so I ought to oblige him by sending her back by force. He assured me that they were not married, and he begged me to answer his letter by express, for which purpose he sent me his address.
I guessed at once that this daughter of his was my fair neighbour, but I did not feel at all inclined to come to the aid of the father in the way he wished.