"I have very strong grounds for supposing that she would not consent to the arrangement. What reasons have you for the contrary opinion?"
"She will shew her sense."
"But she loves me."
"Well, Redegonde loves me."
"I dare say; but does she love me?"
"I am sure I don't know, but she will love you."
"Have you consulted her upon the point?"
"No, but it is all the same. What I want to know now is whether you approve of my plan, and how much you want for the exchange, for your Agatha is worth much more than my Redegonde."
"I am delighted to hear you do my mistress justice. As for the money question, we will speak of that later. In the first place I will take Agatha's opinion, and will let you know the result to- morrow morning."
The plan amused me, and though I was passionately attached to Agatha I knew my inconstant nature well enough to be aware that another woman, may be not so fair as she, would soon make me forget her. I therefore resolved to push the matter through if I could do so in a manner that would be advantageous for her.
What surprised me was that the young nobleman had gained possession of Redegonde, whose mother appeared so intractable, but I knew what an influence caprice has on woman, and this explained the enigma.
Agatha came to supper as usual, and laughed heartily when I told her of Lord Percy's proposal.
"Tell me," said I, "if you would agree to the change?"
"I will do just as you like," said she; "and if the money he offers be acceptable to you, I advise you to close with him."
I could see by the tone of her voice that she was jesting, but her reply did not please me. I should have liked to have my vanity flattered by a peremptory refusal, and consequently I felt angry. My face grew grave, and Agatha became melancholy.
"We will see," said I, "how it all ends."
Next day I went to breakfast with the Englishman, and told him Agatha was willing, but that I must first hear what Redegonde had to say.
"Quite right," he observed.
"I should require to know how we are to live together."
"The four of us had better go masked to the first ball at the Carignan Theatre. We will sup at a house which belongs to me, and there the bargain can be struck."
The party took place according to agreement, and at the given signal we all left the ball-room. My lord's carriage was in waiting, and we all drove away and got down at a house I seemed to know. We entered the hall, and the first thing I saw was the Corticelli. This roused my choler, and taking Percy aside I told him that such a trick was unworthy of a gentleman. He laughed, and said he thought I should like her to be thrown in, and that two pretty women were surely worth as much as Agatha. This amusing answer made me less angry; but, calling him a madman, I took Agatha by the arm and went out without staying for any explanations. I would not make use of his carriage, and instead of returning to the ball we went home in sedan-chairs, and spent a delicious night in each other's arms.