"Then you shall have her with pleasure, madam. I will get her governess to fetch her away to-morrow."
"At three o'clock," said I, "for she must dine with us."
Sophie, taking her mother's silence for consent, went up to her and kissed her, but these attentions were but coldly received. She unfortunately did not know how to inspire love.
After Madame Cornelis had gone, I asked Pauline if she would like to take a walk with Sophie and myself in the suburbs, where nobody would know her.
"In prudence," said she, "I cannot go out unless I am alone."
"Then shall we stay here?"
"We could not do better."
Pauline and Sophie sang Italian, French, and English duets, and the concert of their voices seemed to me ravishing. We supped gaily, and at midnight I escorted them to the third floor, telling Sophie that I would come and breakfast with her in the morning, but that I should expect to find her in bed. I wanted to see if her body was as beautiful as her face. I would gladly have asked Pauline to grant me the same favour, but I did not think things had advanced far enough for that. In the morning I found Pauline up and dressed.
When Sophie saw me she laughed and hid her head under the sheets, but as soon as she felt me near her she soon let me see her pretty little face, which I covered with kisses.
When she had got up we breakfasted together, and the time went by as pleasantly as possible till Madame Rancour came for her little charge, who went away with a sad heart. Thus I was left alone with my Pauline who began to inspire me with such ardent desires that I dreaded an explosion every moment. And yet I had not so much as kissed her hand.
When Sophie had gone I made her sit beside me, and taking her hand I kissed it rapturously, saying,
"Are you married, Pauline?"
"Do you know what it is to be a mother?"
"No, but I can partly imagine what happiness it must be."
"Are you separated from your husband?"
"Yes, by circumstances and against our will. We were separated before we had cohabited together."
"Is he at London?"
"No, he is far away, but please don't say anything more about it."
"Only tell me whether my loss will be his gain."
"Yes, and I promise not to leave you till I have to leave England-- that is, unless you dismiss me--and I shall leave this happy island to be happy with the husband of my choice."
"But I, dear Pauline, will be left unhappy, for I love you with all my heart, and am afraid to give you any proof of my love."
"Be generous and spare me, for I am not my own mistress, and have no right to give myself to you; and perhaps, if you were so ungenerous as to attack me, I should not have the strength to resist."
"I will obey, but I shall still languish. I cannot be unhappy unless I forfeit your favour."
"I have duties to perform, my dear friend, and I cannot neglect them without becoming contemptible in my own eyes and yours too."
"I should deem myself the most miserable of men if I despised a woman for making me happy."
"Well, I like you too well to think you capable of such conduct, but let us be moderate, for we may have to part to-morrow. You must confess that if we yielded to desire, this parting would be all the more bitter. If you are of another opinion, that only shews that your ideas of love and mine are different."
"Then tell me of what sort of love is that with which I am happy enough to have inspired you?"
"It is of such a kind that enjoyment would only increase it, and yet enjoyment seems to me a mere accident."
"Then what is its essence?"
"To live together in perfect unity."
"That's a blessing we can enjoy from morning to eve, but why should we not add the harmless accident which would take so short a time, and give us such peace and tranquillity. You must confess, Pauline, that the essence cannot exist long without the accident."
"Yes, but you in your turn, you will agree that the food often proves in time to be deadly."
"No, not when one loves truly, as I do.