She was wrong, but appearances were certainly against us, and it is well known that servants do not give their masters and mistresses the benefit of the doubt.
At five o'clock in the morning I found Madame du Rumain nearly dressed when I went into her room, and we immediately went into another, from which the rising sun might have been see if the "Hotel de Bouillon" had not been in the way, but that, of course, was a matter of no consequence. Madame du Rumain performed the ceremonies with all the dignity of an ancient priestess of Baal. She then sat down to her piano, telling me that to find some occupation for the long morning of nine hours would prove the hardest of all the rules, for she did not dine till two, which was then the fashionable hour. We had a meat breakfast without coffee, which I had proscribed, and I left her, promising to call again before I left Paris.
When I got back to my inn, I found my brother there looking very uneasy at my absence at such an early hour. When I saw him I cried,--
"Rome or Paris, which is it to be?"
"Rome," he replied, cringingly.
"Wait in the antechamber. I will do your business for you."
When I had finished I called him in, and found my other brother and his wife, who said they had come to ask me to give them a dinner.
"Welcome!" said I. "You are come just in time to see me deal with the abbe, who has resolved at last to go to Rome and to follow my directions."
I sent Clairmont to the diligence office, and told him to book a place for Lyons; and then I wrote out five bills of exchange, of five louis each, on Lyons, Turin, Genoa, Florence, and Rome.
"Who is to assure me that these bills will be honoured?"
"I assure you, blockhead. If you don't like them you can leave them."
Clairmont brought the ticket for the diligence and I gave it to the abbe, telling him roughly to be gone.
"But I may dine with you, surely?" said he.
"No, I have done with you. Go and dine with Possano, as you are his accomplice in the horrible attempt he made to murder me. Clairmont, shew this man out, and never let him set foot here again."
No doubt more than one of my readers will pronounce my treatment of the abbe to have been barbarous; but putting aside the fact that I owe no man an account of my thoughts, deeds, and words, nature had implanted in me a strong dislike to this brother of mine, and his conduct as a man and a priest, and, above all, his connivance with Possano, had made him so hateful to me that I should have watched him being hanged with the utmost indifference, not to say with the greatest pleasure. Let everyone have his own principles and his own passions, and my favourite passion has always been vengeance.
"What did you do with the girl he eloped with?" said my sister-in- raw.
"I sent her back to Venice with the ambassadors the better by thirty thousand francs, some fine jewels, and a perfect outfit of clothes. She travelled in a carriage I gave her which was worth more than two hundred louis."
"That's all very fine, but you must make some allowance for the abbe's grief and rage at seeing you sleep with her."
"Fools, my dear sister, are made to suffer such grief, and many others besides. Did he tell you that she would not let him have anything to do with her, and that she used to box his ears?"
"On the the contrary, he was always talking of her love for him."
"He made himself a fine fellow, I have no doubt, but the truth is, it was a very ugly business."
After several hours of pleasant conversation my brother left, and I took my sister-in-law to the opera. As soon as we were alone this poor sister of mine began to make the most bitter complaints of my brother.
"I am no more his wife now," said she, "than I was the night before our marriage."
"What! Still a maid?"
"As much a maid as at the moment I was born. They tell me I could easily obtain a dissolution of the marriage, but besides the scandal that would arise, I unhappily love him, and I should not like to do anything that would give him pain."
"You are a wonderful woman, but why do you not provide a substitute for him?"
"I know I might do so, without having to endure much remorse, but I prefer to bear it."
"You are very praiseworthy, but in the other ways you are happy?"
"He is overwhelmed with debt, and if I liked to call upon him to give me back my dowry he would not have a shirt to his back.