By degrees one gets accustomed to loving without running any risk and without effort. Our senses, at first so sharp set, end by becoming blunted, and when this is the case we may spend hours and days in safety, untroubled by desire."

"I have my doubts as far as I am concerned, but we shall see. Good night, fair Hebe."

"Good night, my good Iolas, may you sleep well!"

"My sleep will be haunted by visions of you."

CHAPTER XXII

Our Excursion--Parting From Clementine--I Leave Milan With Croce's Mistress My Arrival At Genoa

The ancients, whose fancy was so fertile in allegory, used to figure Innocence as playing with a serpent or with a sharp arrow. These old sages had made a deep study of the human heart; and whatever discoveries modern science may have made, the old symbols may still be profitably studied by those who wish to gain a deep insight into the working of man's mind.

I went to bed, and after having dismissed Clairmont I began to reflect on my relations with Clementine, who seemed to have been made to shine in a sphere from which, in spite of her high birth, her intelligence, and her rare beauty, her want of fortune kept her apart. I smiled to myself at her doctrines, which were as much as to say that the best way of curing appetite was to place a series of appetising dishes before a hungry man, forbidding him to touch them. Nevertheless I could but approve the words which she had uttered with such an air of innocence--that if one resists desires, there is no danger of one being humiliated by giving way to them.

This humiliation would arise from a feeling of duty, and she honoured me by supposing that I had as high principles as herself. But at the same time the motive of self-esteem was also present, and I determined not to do anything which would deprive me of her confidence.

As may be imagined, I did not awake till very late the next morning, and when I rang my bell Clementine came in, looking very pleased, and holding a copy of the Pastor Fido in her hand. She wished me good day, and said she had read the first act, and that she thought it very beautiful, and told me to get up that we might read the second together before dinner.

"May I rise in your presence?"

"Why not? A man has need of very little care to observe the laws of decency."

"Then please give me that shirt."

She proceeded to unfold it, and then put it over my head, smiling all the time.

"I will do the same for you at the first opportunity," said I.

She blushed and answered, "It's not nearly so far from you to me as it is from me to you."

"Divine Hebe, that is beyond my understanding. You speak like the Cumaean sibyls, or as if you were rendering oracles at your temple in Corinth."

"Had Hebe a temple at Corinth? Sardini never said so."

"But Apollodorus says so. It was an asylum as well as a temple. But come back to the point, and pray do not elude it. What you said is opposed to all the laws of geometry. The distance from you to me ought to be precisely the same as from me to you."

"Perhaps, then, I have said a stupid thing."

"Not at all, Hebe, you have an idea which may be right or wrong, but I want to bring it out. Come, tell me."

"Well, then, the two distances differ from each other with respect to the ascent and descent, or fall, if you like. Are not all bodies inclined to obey the laws of gravitation unless they are held back by a superior force?"

"Certainly."

"And is it not the case that no bodies move in an upward direction unless they are impelled?"

"Quite true."

"Then you must confess that since I am shorter than you I should have to ascend to attain you, and ascension is always an effort; while if you wish to attain me, you have only to let yourself go, which is no effort whatever. Thus it is no risk at all for you to let me put on your shirt, but it would be a great risk for me if I allowed you to do the same service for me. I might be overwhelmed by your too rapid descent on me. Are you persuaded?"

"Persuaded is not the word, fair Hebe.

Memoirs of Casanova Volume 4e Milan Page 57

Memoirs of Jacques Casanova

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