I think now that this mutual restraint added fuel to our flames, for when we thought of the moment of parting it was with dumb sadness and with no idea of taking the opportunity of rendering one another happy. We flattered ourselves that Heaven would work some miracle in our favour, and that the day would never come wherein we should be parted.
"But one morning the count came earlier than usual, and, bursting into tears, told me that the minister had given him a letter for M. de Saa, the Portuguese ambassador at London, and another letter open for the captain of a ship which was shortly to sail for London. In this letter the minister ordered the captain to embark Count Al----, to take him to London, and to treat him with distinction.
"My poor lover was overwhelmed, he was nearly choked with sobs, and his brain was all confusion. For his sake, and taking pity on his grief and my love, I conceived the plan of accompanying him as his servant, or rather to avoid disguising my sex, as his wife. When I told him, he was at once stupefied and dazzled. He was beyond reasoning, and left everything in my hands. We agreed to discuss the matter at greater length on the following day, and parted.
"Foreseeing that it would be difficult for me to leave the house in woman's dress, I resolved to disguise myself as a man. But if I kept to my man's dress I should be obliged to occupy the position of my lover's valet, and have to undertake tasks beyond my strength. This thought made me resolve to impersonate the master myself, but thinking that I should not care to see my lover degraded to the rank of a servant, I determined that he should be my wife, supposing that the captain of the ship did not know him by sight.
"'As soon as we get to England,' I thought, 'we will get married, and can resume our several dresses. This marriage will efface whatever shame may be attached to our flight; they will say, perhaps, that the count carried me off; but a girl is not carried off against her will, and Oeiras surely will not persecute me for having made the fortune of his favourite. As to our means of subsistence, till I get my rents, I can sell my diamonds, and they will realize an ample sum.'
"The next day, when I told my lover of this strange plan, he made no objections. The only obstacle which he thought of was the circumstance that the sea-captain might know him by sight, and this would have been fatal; but as he did not think it likely we determined to run the risk, and it was agreed that he should get me the clothes for the new part I was to play.
"I saw my lover again after an interval of three days; it was nightfall when he came. He told me that the Admiralty had informed him that the ship was riding at the mouth of the Tagus, and that the captain would put out to sea as soon as he had delivered his dispatches and had received fresh instructions. Count Al was consequently requested to be at a certain spot at midnight, and a boat would be in waiting to take him on board.
"I had made up my mind, and this was enough for me; and after having fixed the time and place of meeting, I shut myself up, pretending to be unwell. I put a few necessaries into a bag, not forgetting the precious jewel-casket, and I dressed myself up as a man and left the house by a stair only used by the servants. Even the porter did not see me as I made my escape.
"Fearing lest I should go astray the count was waiting for me at a short distance, and I was pleasantly surprised when he took me by the arm, saying, "Tis I." From this careful action, simple though it was, I saw that he had intelligence; he was afraid to catch hold of me without making himself known. We went to a house where he had his trunk, and in half an hour his disguise was made. When all was ready a man came for our slight baggage, and we walked to the river where the count was waiting for us. It was eleven o'clock when we left land, and thinking my jewels would be safer in his pocket than in my bag, I gave them to him, and we anxiously awaited the arrival of the captain.