She laughed heartily, and enquired of the oracle what must be done with the Lascaris after her evident pollution by the evil genius disguised as a priest. The oracle replied that we must set out the next day for Besancon, whence she would go to Lyons and await me there, while I would take the countess to Geneva, and thus send her back to her native country.
The worthy visionary was enchanted with this arrangement, and saw in it another proof of the benevolence of Selenis, who would thus give her an opportunity of seeing young Aranda once more. It was agreed that I was to rejoin her in the spring of the following year, to perform the great operation which was to make her be born a man. She had not the slightest doubts as to the reasonableness of this performance.
All was ready, and the next day we started; Madame d'Urfe and I in the travelling carriage, and the Corticelli, her mother, and the servants in another conveyance.
When we got to Besancon Madame d'Urfe left me, and on the next day I journeyed towards Geneva with the mother and daughter.
On the way I not only did not speak to my companions, I did not so much as look at them. I made them have their meals with a servant from the Franche Comte, whom I had taken on M. de Schaumburg's recommendation.
I went to my banker, and asked him to get me a good coachman, who would take two ladies of my acquaintance to Turin.
When I got back to the inn I wrote to the Chevalier Raiberti, sending him a bill of exchange. I warned him that in three or four days after the receipt of my letter he would be accosted by a Bolognese dancer and her mother, bearing a letter of commendation. I begged him to see that they lodged in a respectable house, and to pay for them on my behalf. I also said that I should be much obliged if he would contrive that she should dance, even for nothing, at the carnival, and I begged him to warn her that, if I heard any tales about her when I came to Turin, our relations would be at an end.
The following day a clerk of M. Tronchin's brought a coachman for me to see. The man said he was ready to start as soon as he had had his dinner. I confirmed the agreement he had made with the banker, I summoned the two Corticellis, and said to the coachman,
"These are the persons you are to drive, and they will pay you when they reach Turin in safety with their luggage. You are to take four days and a half for the journey, as is stipulated in the agreement, of which they have one copy and you another." An hour after he called to put the luggage in.
The Corticelli burst into tears, but I was not so cruel as to send her away without any consolation. Her bad conduct had been severely enough punished already. I made her dine with me, and as I gave her the letter for M. Raiberti, and twenty-five Louis for the journey, I told her what I had written to the gentleman, who would take good care of them. She asked me for a trunk containing three dresses and a superb mantle which Madame d'Urfe had given her before she became mad, but I said that we would talk of that at Turin. She dared not mention the casket, but continued weeping; however, she did not move me to pity. I left her much better off than when I first knew her; she had good clothes, good linen, jewels, and an exceedingly pretty watch I had given her; altogether a good deal more than she deserved.
As she was going I escorted her to the carriage, less for politeness' sake than to commend her once more to the coachman. When she was fairly gone I felt as if a load had been taken off my back, and I went to look up my worthy syndic, whom the reader will not have forgotten. I had not written to him since I was in Florence, and I anticipated the pleasure of seeing his surprise, which was extreme. But after gazing at me for a moment he threw his arms round my neck, kissed me several times, and said he had not expected the pleasure of seeing me.
"How are our sweethearts getting on?"
"Excellently. They are always talking about you and regretting your absence; they will go wild with joy when they know you are here."
"You must tell them directly, then."
"I will go and warn them that we shall all sup together this evening.