It was a present I meant to give Clementine before dinner. It was delightful to watch her surprise and pleasure, and to read gratitude so legibly written in her beautiful eyes. There is not a woman in the world who cannot be overcome by being made grateful. It is the best and surest way to get on, but it must be skilfully used. The countess's friend came and brought her sister, a girl who was dazzlingly beautiful. I was greatly struck with her, but just then Venus herself could not have dethroned Clementine from her place in my affections. After the friends had kissed each other, and expressed their joy at meeting, I was introduced, and in so complimentary a manner that I felt obliged to turn it off with a jest.
The dinner was sumptuous and delicious. At dessert two self- invited guests came in, the lady's husband and the sister's lover, but they were welcome, for it was a case of the more the merrier. After the meal, in accordance with the request of the company, I made a bank at faro, and after three hours' play I was delighted to find myself a loser to the extent of forty sequins. It was these little losses at the right time which gave me the reputation of being the finest gamester in Europe.
The lady's lover was named Vigi, and I asked him if he was descended from the author of the thirteenth book of the "AEneid." He said he was, and that in honour of his ancestor he had translated the poem into Italian verse. I expressed myself curious as to his version, and he promised to bring it me in two days' time. I complimented him on belonging to such a noble and ancient family; Maffeo Vigi flourished at the beginning of the fifteenth century.
We started in the evening, and less than two hours we got home. The moon which shone brightly upon us prevented me making any attempts on Clementine, who had put up her feet in order that she might be able to hold her little nephew with more ease. The pretty mother could not help thanking me warmly for the pleasure I had given them; I was a universal favourite with them all.
We did not feel inclined to eat any supper, and therefore retired to our apartments; and I accompanied Clementine, who told me that she was ashamed at not knowing anything about the "AEneid."
"Vigi will bring his translation of the thirteenth book, and I shall not know a word about it."
I comforted her by telling her that we would read the fine translation by Annibale Caro that very night. It was amongst her books, as also the version by Anguilara, Ovid's Metamorphoses, and Marchetti's Lucreece.
"But I wanted to read the Pastor Fido."
"We are in a hurry; we must read that another time."
"I will follow your advice in all things, my dear Iolas."
"That will make me happy, dearest Hebe."
We spent the night in reading that magnificent translation in Italian blank verse, but the reading was often interrupted by my pupil's laughter when we came to some rather ticklish passage. She was highly amused by the account of the chance which gave 'AEneas an opportunity of proving his love for Dido in a very inconvenient place, and still more, when Dido, complaining of the son of Priam's treachery, says,--
"I might still pardon you if, before abandoning me, you had left me a little AEneas to play about these halls."
Clementine had cause to be amused, for the reproach has something laughable in it; but how is it that one does not feel inclined to smile in reading the Latin--'Si quis mihi parvulus aula luderet AEneas?'. The reason must be sought for in the grave and dignified nature of the Latin tongue.
We did not finish our reading till day-break.
"What a night!" exclaimed Clementine, with a sigh.
"It has been one of great pleasure to me, has it not to you?"
"I have enjoyed it because you have."
"And if you had been reading by yourself?"
"It would have still been a pleasure, but a much smaller one. I love your intellect to distraction, Clementine, but tell me, do you think it possible to love the intellect without loving that which contains it?"
"No, for without the body the spirit would vanish away."
"I conclude from that that I am deeply in love with you, and that I cannot pass six or seven hours in your company without longing to kiss you."
"Certainly, but we resist these desires because we have duties to perform, which would rise up against us if we left them undone."
"True again, but if your disposition at all resembles mine this constraint must be very painful to you."
"Perhaps I feel it as much as you do, but it is my belief that it is only hard to withstand temptation at first.