I 'gazed at the picture for a moment and then began to laugh, and sitting down on the bed begged to enquire the name of the happy individual whom I should have the pleasure of throwing out of the window. On a chair I saw the coat, trousers, hat, and cane of the gentleman; but as I had my two trusty pistols about me I knew I had nothing to fear; however, I did not want to make a noise.
With tears in her eyes, and trembling all over, the girl took my hand and begged me to forgive her.
"It's a young lord," said she, "and I don't even know his name."
"Oh, he is a young lord, is he? and you don't know his name, you little hussy, don't you? Well, he will tell me himself."
So saying, I took a pistol and vigorously stripped the sheets off the cuckoo who had got into my nest. I saw the face of a young man whom I did not know, his head covered with a nightcap, but the rest perfectly naked, as indeed was my mistress. He turned his back to me to get his shirt which he had thrown on the floor, but seizing him by the arm I held him firmly, with my pistol to his forehead.
"Kindly tell me your name, fair sir."
"I am Count B----, canon of Bale."
"And do you think you have been performing an ecclesiastical function here?"
"No sir, no, and I hope you will forgive me and the lady too, for I am the only guilty party."
"I am not asking you whether she is guilty or not."
"Sir, the countess is perfectly innocent."
I felt in a good temper, and far from being angry I was strongly inclined to laugh. I found the picture before me an attractive one; it was amusing and voluptuous. The sight of the two nudities on the bed was a truly lascivious one, and I remained contemplating it in silence for a quarter of an hour, occupied in resisting a strong temptation to take off my clothes and lie beside them. The only thing which prevented my yielding to it was the fear that I might find the canon to be a fool, incapable of playing the part with dignity. As for the Corticelli, she soon passed from tears to laughter, and would have done it well, but if, as I feared, the canon was a blockhead, I should have been degrading myself.
I felt certain that neither of them had guessed my thoughts, so I rose and told the canon to put on his clothes.
"No one must hear anything more of this," said I, "but you and I will go to a distance of two hundred paces and burn a little powder."
"No, no, sir," cried my gentleman, "you may take me where you like, and kill me if you please, but I was not meant for a fighting man."
"Yes, sir, and I only became a priest to escape the fatal duty of duelling."
"Then you are a coward, and will not object to a good thrashing?"
"Anything you like, but it would be cruelty, for my love blinded me. I only came here a quarter of an hour ago, and the countess and her governess were both asleep."
"You are a liar."
"I had only just taken off my shirt when you came, and I have never seen this angel before."
"And that's gospel truth," said the Corticelli.
"Are you aware that you are a couple of impudent scoundrels? And as for you, master canon, you deserve to be roasted like St. Laurence."
In the meanwhile the wretched ecclesiastic had huddled on his clothes.
"Follow me, sir," said I, in a tone which froze the marrow of his bones; and I accordingly took him to my room.
"What will you do," said I, "if I forgive you and let you go without putting you to shame?"
"I will leave in an hour and a half, and you shall never see me here again; but even if we meet in the future, you will find me always ready to do you a service."
"Very good. Begone, and in the future take more precautions in your amorous adventures."
After this I went to bed, well pleased with what I had seen and what I had done, for I now had complete power over the Corticelli.
In the morning I called on her as soon as I got up, and told her to pack up her things, forbidding her to leave her room till she got into the carriage.
"I shall say I am ill."
"Just as you please, but nobody will take any notice of you."
I did not wait for her to make any further objections, but proceeded to tell the tale of what had passed to Madame d'Urfe, slightly embroidering the narrative.