I took care that the most exquisite wines should form an important feature of my supper. The pastor and the widow were both sturdy drinkers, and I did my best to please them. When I saw that they were pretty mellow and were going over their old recollections, I made a sign to the girls, and they immediately went out as if to go to a retiring-room. Under pretext of shewing them the way I went out too, and took them into a room telling them to wait for me.
I went back to the supper-room, and finding the old friends taken up with each other and scarcely conscious of my presence, I gave them some punch, and told them that I would keep the young ladies company; they were looking at some pictures, I explained. I lost no time, and shewed them some extremely interesting sights. These stolen sweets have a wonderful charm. When we were to some extent satisfied, we went back, and I plied the punch-ladle more and more freely. Helen praised the pictures to her mother, and asked her to come and look at them.
"I don't care to," she replied.
"Well," said Helen, "let us go and see them again."
I thought this stratagem admissible, and going out with my two sweethearts I worked wonders. Hedvig philosophised over pleasure, and told me she would never have known it if I had not chanced to meet her uncle. Helen did not speak; she was more voluptuous than her cousin, and swelled out like a dove, and came to life only to expire a moment afterwards. I wondered at her astonishing fecundity; while I was engaged in one operation she passed from death to life fourteen times. It is true that it was the sixth time with me, so I made my progress rather slower to enjoy the pleasure she took in it.
Before we parted I agreed to call on Helen's mother every day to ascertain the night I could spend with them before I left Geneva. We broke up our party at two o'clock in the morning.
Three or four days after, Helen told me briefly that Hedvig was to sleep with her that night, and that she would leave the door open at the same time as before.
"I will be there."
"And I will be there to shut you up, but you cannot have a light as the servant might see it."
I was exact to the time, and when ten o'clock struck they came to fetch me in high glee.
"I forgot to tell you," said Helen, "that you would find a fowl there."
I felt hungry, and made short work of it, and then we gave ourselves up to happiness.
I had to set out on my travels in two days. I had received a couple of letters from M. Raiberti. In the first he told me that he had followed my instructions as to the Corticelli, and in the second that she would probably he paid for dancing at the carnival as first 'figurante'. I had nothing to keep me at Geneva, and Madame d'Urfe, according to our agreement, would be waiting for me at Lyons. I was therefore obliged to go there. Thus the night that I was to pass with my two charmers would be my last.
My lessons had taken effect, and I found they had become past mistresses in the art of pleasure. But now and again joy gave place to sadness.
"We shall be wretched, sweetheart," said Hedvig, "and if you like we will come with you."
"I promise to come and see you before two years have expired," said I; and in fact they had not so long to wait.
We fell asleep at midnight, and waking at four renewed our sweet battles till six o'clock. Half an hour after I left them, worn out with my exertions, and I remained in bed all day. In the evening I went to see the syndic and his young friends. I found Helen there, and she was cunning enough to feign not to be more vexed at my departure than the others, and to further the deception she allowed the syndic to kiss her. I followed suit, and begged her to bid farewell for me to her learned cousin and to excuse my taking leave of her in person.
The next day I set out in the early morning, and on the following day I reached Lyons. Madame d'Urfe was not there, she had gone to an estate of hers at Bresse. I found a letter in which she said that she would be delighted to see me, and I waited on her without losing any time.