I could kiss neither of them, since one passed for my niece, and my sense of humanity would not allow me to treat Marcoline as my mistress in the presence of an unfortunate brother who adored her, and had never obtained the least favour from her. He was lying near at hand, overwhelmed with grief and seasickness, and watching and listening with all his might for the amorous encounter he suspected us of engaging in. I did not want to have any unpleasantness, so I contented myself with gazing on them till the two roses awoke and opened their eyes.
When this delicious sight was over, I got up and found that we were only opposite Final, and I proceeded to reprimand the master.
"The wind fell dead at Savona, sir"; and all the seamen chorused his excuse.
"Then you should have rowed instead of idling."
"We were afraid of waking you. You shall be at Antibes by tomorrow."
After passing the time by eating a hearty meal, we took a fancy to go on shore at St. Remo. Everybody was delighted. I took my two nymphs on land, and after forbidding any of the others to disembark I conducted the ladies to an inn, where I ordered coffee. A man accosted us, and invited us to come and play biribi at his house.
"I thought the game was forbidden in Genoa," said I. I felt certain that the players were the rascals whose bank I had broken at Genoa, so I accepted the invitation. My niece had fifty Louis in her purse, and I gave fifteen to Marcoline. We found a large assemblage, room was made for us, and I recognized the knaves of Genoa. As soon as they saw me they turned pale and trembled. I should say that the man with the bag was not the poor devil who had served me so well without wanting to.
"I play harlequin," said I.
"There isn't one."
"What's the bank?"
"There it is. We play for small stakes here, and those two hundred louis are quite sufficient. You can bet as low as you like, and the highest stake is of a louis."
"That's all very well, but my louis is full weight."
"I think ours are, too."
"Are you sure?"
"Then I won't play," said I, to the keeper of the rooms.
"You are right; bring the scales."
The banker then said that when play was over he would give four crowns of six livres for every louis that the company had won, and the matter was settled. In a moment the board was covered with stakes.
We each punted a louis at a time, and I and my niece lost twenty Louis, but Marcoline, who had never possessed two sequins in her life before, won two hundred and forty Louis. She played on the figure of an abbe which came out fifth twenty times. She was given a bag full of crown pieces, and we returned to the felucca.
The wind was contrary, and we had to row all night, and in the morning the sea was so rough that we had to put in at Mentone. My two sweethearts were very sick, as also my brother and Possano, but I was perfectly well. I took the two invalids to the inn, and allowed my brother and Possano to land and refresh themselves. The innkeeper told me that the Prince and Princess of Monaco were at Mentone, so I resolved to pay them a visit. It was thirteen years since I had seen the prince at Paris, where I had amused him and his mistress Caroline at supper. It was this prince who had taken me to see the horrible Duchess of Rufec; then he was unmarried, and now I met him again in his principality with his wife, of whom he had already two sons. The princess had been a Duchess de Borgnoli, a great heiress, and a delightful and pretty woman. I had heard all about her, and I was curious to verify the facts for myself.
I called on the prince, was announced, and after a long wait they introduced me to his presence. I gave him his title of highness, which I had never done at Paris, where he was not known under his full style and title. He received me politely, but with that coolness which lets one know that one is not an over-welcome visitor.
"You have put in on account of the bad weather, I suppose?" said he.
"Yes, prince, and if your highness will allow me I will spend the whole day in your delicious villa." (It is far from being delicious.)
"As you please.