It is certain at all events that no other woman in Milan has attracted me."
"Not the pretty girl who waited on us, and whose arms you have possibly left an hour or, two ago?"
"What are you saying? She is the wife of the tailor who made your clothes. She left directly after you, and her husband would not have allowed her to come at all if he was not aware that she would be wanted to wait on the ladies whose dresses he had made."
"She is wonderfully pretty. Is it possible that you are not in love with her?"
"How could one love a woman who is at the disposal of a low, ugly fellow? The only pleasure she gave me was by talking of you this morning."
"Yes. You will excuse me if I confess to having asked her which of the ladies she waited on looked handsomest without her chemise."
"That was a libertine's question. Well, what did she say?"
"That the lady with the beautiful hair was perfect in every respect."
"I don't believe a word of it. I have learnt how to change my chemise with decency, and so as not to shew anything I might not shew a man. She only wished to flatter your impertinent curiosity. If I had a maid like that, she should soon go about her business."
"You are angry with me."
"It's no good saying no, your soul flashed forth in your denunciation. I am sorry to have spoken."
"Oh! it's of no consequence. I know men ask chambermaids questions of that kind, and they all give answers like your sweetheart, who perhaps wanted to make you curious about herself."
"But how could she hope to do that by extolling your charms above those of the other ladies? And, how could she know that I preferred you?"
"If she did not know it, I have made a mistake; but for all that, she lied to you."
"She may have invented the tale, but I do not think she lied. You are smiling again! I am delighted."
"I like to let you believe what pleases you."
"Then you will allow me to believe that you do not hate me."
"Hate you? What an ugly word! If I hated you, should I see you at all? But let's talk of something else. I want you to do me a favour. Here are two sequins; I want you to put them on an 'ambe' in the lottery. You can bring me the ticket when you call again, or still better, you can send it me, but don't tell anybody."
"You shall have the ticket without fail, but why should I not bring it?"
"Because, perhaps, you are tired of coming to see me."
"Do I look like that? If so I am very unfortunate. But what numbers will you have?"
"Three and forty; you gave them me yourself."
"How did I give them you?"
"You put your hand three times on the board, and took up forty sequins each time. I am superstitious, and you will laugh at me, I daresay, but it seems to me that you must have come to Milan to make me happy."
"Now you make me happy indeed. You say you are superstitious, but if these numbers don't win you mustn't draw the conclusion that I don't love you; that would be a dreadful fallacy."
"I am not superstitious as all that, nor so vile a logician."
"Do you believe I love you?"
"May I tell you so a hundred times?"
"And prove it in every way?"
"I must enquire into your methods before I consent to that, for it is possible that what you would call a very efficacious method might strike me as quite useless."
"I see you are going to make me sigh after you for a long time."
"As long as I can."
"And when you have no strength left?"
"I will surrender. Does that satisfy you?"
"Certainly, but I shall exert all my strength to abate yours."
"Do so; I shall like it."
"And will you help me to succeed?"
"Ah, dear marchioness; you need only speak to make a man happy. You have made me really so, and I am leaving you full of ardour."
On leaving this charming conversationalist I went to the theatre and then to the faro-table, where I saw the masquer who had won three hundred sequins the evening before. This night he was very unlucky. He had lost two thousand sequins, and in the course of the next hour his losses had doubled.