Croix, had gone to the gaming-table as soon as he had got my twenty sequins, and that he had then taken her back to the inn, where he had spent the next day in a state of despair, as he did not dare to shew himself abroad in the daytime. In the evening he put on his mask and went out, not returning till the next morning.
"Soon after he put on his great coat and got ready to go out, telling me that if he did not return he would communicate with me by you, at the same time giving me your address, of which I have made use as you know. He has not come back, and if you have not seen him I am sure he has gone off on foot without a penny in his pocket. The landlord wants to be paid, and by selling all I have I could satisfy his claims; but, good God! what is to become of me, then?"
"Dare you return to your father?"
"Yes, sir, I dare return to him. He will forgive me when on my knees and with tears in my eyes I tell him that I am ready to bury myself in a nunnery."
"Very good! then I will take you to Marseilles myself, and in the meanwhile I will find you a lodging with some honest people. Till then, shut yourself up in your room, do not admit anyone to see you, and be sure I will have a care for you."
I summoned the landlord and paid the bill, which was a very small one, and I told him to take care of the lady till my return. The poor girl was dumb with surprise and gratitude. I said good-bye kindly and left her without even taking her hand. It was not altogether a case of the devil turning monk; I always had a respect for distress.
I had already thought of Zenobia in connection with the poor girl's lodging, and I went to see her on the spot. In her husband's presence I told her what I wanted, and asked if she could find a corner for my new friend.
"She shall have my place," cried the worthy tailor, "if she won't mind sleeping with my wife. I will hire a small room hard bye, and will sleep there as long as the young lady stays."
"That's a good idea, gossip, but your wife will lose by the exchange."
"Not much," said Zenobia; and the tailor burst out laughing.
"As for her meals," he added, "she must arrange that herself."
"That's a very simple matter," said I, "Zenobia will get them and I will pay for them."
I wrote the girl a short note, telling her of the arrangements I had made, and charged Zenobia to take her the letter. The next day I found her in the poor lodging with these worthy folks, looking pleased and ravishingly pretty. I felt that I could behave well for the present, but I sighed at the thought of the journey. I should have to put a strong restraint on myself.
I had nothing more to do at Milan, but the count had made me promise to spend a fortnight at St. Angelo. This was an estate belonging to him, fifteen miles from Milan, and the count spoke most enthusiastically of it. If I had gone away without seeing St. Angelo, he would have been exceedingly mortified. A married brother of his lived there, and the count often said that his brother was longing to know me. When we returned he would no doubt let me depart in peace.
I had made up my mind to shew my gratitude to the worthy man for his hospitality, so on the fourth day of Lent I took leave of Therese, Greppi, and the affectionate marchioness, for two weeks, and we set out on our way.
To my great delight the countess did not care to come. She much preferred staying in Milan with Triulzi, who did not let her lack for anything.
We got to St. Angelo at three o'clock, and found that we were expected to dinner.
An Ancient Castle--Clementine--The Fair Penitent--Lodi--A Mutual Passion
The manorial castle of the little town of St. Angelo is a vast and ancient building, dating back at least eight centuries, but devoid of regularity, and not indicating the date of its erection by the style of its architecture. The ground floor consists of innumerable small rooms, a few large and lofty apartments, and an immense hall. The walls, which are full of chinks and crannies, are of that immense thickness which proves that our ancestors built for their remote descendants, and not in our modern fashion; for we are beginning to build in the English style, that is, barely for one generation.