I paid two hundred gold ducats for the lot, but on the condition that if anybody came to know that I had bought them by any indiscretion of his he should give me the money and take back the materials in whatever condition they might be in. The agreement was written out and signed, and I returned with the tailor, who carried the whole bundle to my rooms over the pastrycook's.
When it was all spread out on the table I told the tailor that I would blow out his brains if he told anybody about it, and then taking a stiletto I proceeded to cut and slash the coats, vests, and trousers all over, to the astonishment of the tailor, who thought I must be mad to treat such beautiful clothes in this manner.
After this operation, which makes me laugh to this day when I remember it, I took the scraps I had bought and said to the tailor,--
"Now, 'gossip, it is your turn; I want you to sew in these pieces into the holes I have made, and I hope your tailoring genius will aid you to produce some pretty contrasts. You see that you have got your work cut out for you and no time to lose. I will see that your meals are properly served in an adjoining chamber, but you must not leave the house till the work is finished. I will go for your wife, who will help you, and you can sleep together."
"For God's sake, sir! you don't want the ladies' dresses treated like the coats and trousers?"
"Just the same."
"What a pity! it will make my wife cry."
"I will console her."
On my way to Zenobia's I bought five pairs of white silk stockings, men's and women's gloves, two fine castor hats, two burlesque men's masks, and three graceful-looking female masks. I also bought two pretty china plates, and I carried them all to Zenobia's in a sedanchair.
I found that charming woman engaged in her toilet. Her beautiful tresses hung about her neck, and her full breast was concealed by no kerchief. Such charms called for my homage, and to begin with I devoured her with kisses. I spent half an hour with her, and my readers will guess that it was well employed. I then helped her to finish her toilette, and we went off in the sedan-chair.
We found the tailor engaged in picking out the scraps and cutting them to fit the holes I had made. Zenobia looked on in a kind of stupor, and when she saw me begin to slash the dresses she turned pale and made an involuntary motion to stay my hand, for not knowing my intentions she thought I must be beside myself. Her husband had got hardened, and reassured her, and when she heard my explanation she became calm, though the idea struck her as a very odd one.
When it is a question of an affair of the heart, of the passions, or of pleasure, a woman's fancy moves much faster than a man's. When Zenobia knew that these dresses were meant for three beautiful women, whom I wished to make a centre of attraction to the whole assembly, she improved on my cuts and slashes, and arranged the rents in such a manner that they would inspire passion without wounding modesty. The dresses were slashed especially at the breast, the shoulders, and the sleeves; so that the lace shift could be seen, and in its turn the shift was cut open here and there, and the sleeves were so arranged that half the arms could be seen. I saw sure that she understood what I wanted, and that she would keep her husband right; and I left them, encouraging them to work their best and quickest. But I looked in three or four times in the day, and was more satisfied every time with my idea and their execution.
The work was not finished till the Saturday afternoon. I gave the tailor six sequins and dismissed him, but I kept Zenobia to attend on the ladies. I took care to place powder, pomade, combs, pins, and everything that a lady needs, on the table, not forgetting ribbons and pack-thread.
The next day I found play going on in a very spirited manner, but the two cousins were not at the tables, so I went after them. They told me they had given up playing as Barbaro always won.