She escorted me to the door, and asked me if she should have the pleasure of seeing me again before long.
"It's a pleasure, is it?" I replied; "well, I don't know when you will have it again; it depends on my leisure and my fancy."
It is certain that if I had any amorous feelings or even curiosity about the girl, I should not have left her in that house for a moment; but I repeat my love for her had entirely vanished. There was one thing, however, which annoyed me intolerably, namely, that in spite of my coolness towards her, the little hussy pretended to think that I had forgotten and forgiven everything.
On leaving the Corticelli, I proceeded to call on my bankers, amongst others on M. Martin, whose wife was justly famous for her wit and beauty.
I chanced to meet the horse-dealing Jew, who had made money out of me by means of his daughter Leah. She was still pretty, but married; and her figure was too rounded for my taste. She and her husband welcomed me with great warmth, but I cared for her no longer, and did not wish to see her again.
I called on Madame R----, who had been awaiting me impatiently ever since Victorine had brought news of me. I sat down by the counter and had the pleasure of hearing from her lips the amorous histories of Turin for the past few months.
"Victorine and Caton are the only two of the old set that still remain, but I have replaced them with others."
"Has Victorine found anyone to operate on her yet?"
"No, she is just as you left her, but a gentleman who is in love with her is going to take her to Milan."
This gentleman was the Comte de Perouse, whose acquaintance I made three years afterwards at Milan. I shall speak of him in due time. Madame R---- told me that, in consequence of her getting into trouble several times with the police, she had been obliged to promise the Count d'Aglie only to send the girls to ladies, and, consequently, if I found any of them to my taste I should be obliged to make friends with their relations and take them to the festas. She shewed me the girls in the work-room, but I did not think any of them worth taking trouble about.
She talked about the Pacienza, and when I told her that I kept the Corticelli, and of the hard conditions to which I was obliged to submit, she exclaimed with astonishment, and amused me by her jests on the subject.
"You are in good hands, my dear sir," said she; "the woman is not only a spy of d'Aglie's, but a professional procuress. I wonder the Chevalier Raiberti placed the girl with her."
She was not so surprised when I told her that the chevalier had good reasons for his action, and that I myself had good reasons of my own for wishing the Corticelli to remain there.
Our conversation was interrupted by a customer who wanted silk stockings. Hearing him speak of dancing, I asked him if he could tell me the address of Dupre, the ballet-master.
"No one better, sir, for I am Dupre, at your service."
"I am delighted at this happy chance. The Chevalier Raiberti gave me to understand that you might be able to give dancing lessons to a ballet-girl of my acquaintance."
"M. de Raiberti mentioned your name to me this morning. You must be the Chevalier de Seingalt?"
"I can give the young lady lessons every morning at nine o'clock at my own home."
"No, do you come to her house, but at whatever hour you like. I will pay you, and I hope you will make her one of your best pupils. I must warn you, however, that she is not a novice."
"I will call on her to-day, and to-morrow I will tell you what I can make of her; but I think I had better tell you my terms: I charge three Piedmontese livres a lesson."
"I think that is very reasonable; I will call on you to-morrow."
"You do me honour. Here is my address. If you like to come in the afternoon you will see the rehearsal of a ballet."
"Is it not rehearsed at the theatre?"
"Yes, but at the theatre no on-lookers are allowed by the orders of the superintendent of police."
"This superintendent of yours puts his finger into a good many pies."
"In too many."
"But at your own house anybody may come?"
"Undoubtedly, but I could not have the dancers there if my wife were not present.