Finally, the oracle ordered her to prepare to start in three days, and to take Aranda with her. I had to take the latter to London and return him to his mother, for his real position in life was no longer a mystery, the little rascal having confessed all; however, I had found a remedy for his indiscretion as for the treachery of the Corticelli and Possano.
I longed to return him to the keeping of his mother, who constantly wrote me impertinent letters. I also wished to take my daughter, who, according to her mother, had become a prodigy of grace and beauty.
After the oracular business had been settled, I returned to the "Hotel du Parc" to dine with Marcoline. It was very late, and as I could not take my sweetheart to the play I called on M. Bono to enquire whether he had sent my brother to Paris. He told me that he had gone the day before, and that my great enemy, Possano, was still in Lyons, and that I would do well to be on my guard as far as he was concerned.
"I have seen him," said Bono; "he looks pale and undone, and seems scarcely able to stand. 'I shall die before long,' said he, 'for that scoundrel Casanova has had me poisoned; but I will make him pay dearly for his crime, and in this very town of Lyons, where I know he will come, sooner or later.'
"In fact, in the course of half an hour, he made some terrible accusations against you, speaking as if he were in a fury. He wants all the world to know that you are the greatest villain unhung, that you are ruining Madame d'Urfe with your impious lies; that you are a sorcerer, a forger, an utter of false moneys, a poisoner--in short, the worst of men. He does not intend to publish a libellous pamphlet upon you, but to accuse you before the courts, alleging that he wants reparation for the wrongs you have done his person, his honour, and his life, for he says you are killing him by a slow poison. He adds that for every article he possesses the strongest proof.
"I will say nothing about the vague abuse he adds to these formal accusations, but I have felt it my duty to warn you of his treacherous designs that you may be able to defeat them. It's no good saying he is a miserable wretch, and that you despise him; you know how strong a thing calumny is."
"Where does the fellow live?"
"I don't know in the least."
"How can I find out?"
"I can't say, for if he is hiding himself on purpose it would be hard to get at him."
"Nevertheless, Lyons is not so vast a place."
"Lyons is a perfect maze, and there is no better hiding-place, especially to a man with money, and Possano has money."
"But what can he do to me?"
"He can institute proceedings against you in the criminal court, which would cause you immense anxiety and bring down your good name to the dust, even though you be the most innocent, the most just of men."
"It seems to me, then, that the best thing I can do will be to be first in the field."
"So I think, but even then you cannot avoid publicity."
"Tell me frankly if you feel disposed to bear witness to what the rascal has said in a court of justice."
"I will tell all I know with perfect truth."
"Be kind enough to tell me of a good advocate."
"I will give you the address of one of the best; but reflect before you do anything. The affair will make a noise."
"As I don't know where he lives, I have really no choice in the matter."
If I had known where he lived I could have had Possano expelled from Lyons through the influence of Madame d'Urfe, whose relative, M. de la Rochebaron, was the governor; but as it was, I had no other course than the one I took.
Although Possano was a liar and an ungrateful, treacherous hound, yet I could not help being uneasy. I went to my hotel, and proceeded to ask for police protection against a man in hiding in Lyons, who had designs against my life and honour.
The next day M. Bono came to dissuade me from the course I had taken.
"For," said he, "the police will begin to search for him, and as soon as he hears of it he will take proceedings against you in the criminal courts, and then your positions will be changed.