However, all my servants turned out ill; they robbed me continually, and levied a tax on all their purchases.
"The temperance I observed--for I almost lived on bread and water-- made me get thinner every day, still I saw no way of mending my existence till chance made me see your singular announcement. I laughed at it; and then drawn by some irresistible power, or perhaps by the curiosity that falls to the lot of most of us women, I could not resist going in and speaking to you. Instinct thus pointed out the way to improve my lot without increasing my expenditure.
"When I got back I found a copy of the Advertiser on my landlady's table; it contained some editorial fun on the notice I had just read. The writer said that the master of the house was an Italian, and had therefore nothing to fear from feminine violence. On my side I determined to hazard everything, but I feel I have been too hasty, and that there are certain attacks which it is pleasant not to resist. I was brought up by an Italian, a clever and good man, and I have always had a great respect for your fellow-countrymen."
My fair Portuguese had finished her story, and I observed,--
"Really, your history has amused me very much; it has all the air of a romance."
"Quite so," said she; "but it is a strictly historical romance. But the most amusing thing to me is that you have listened to it without weariness."
"That is your modesty, madam; not only, has your tale interested me, but now that I know you are a Portuguese I am at peace with the nation."
"Were you at war with us, then?"
"I have never forgiven you for letting your Portuguese Virgil die miserably two hundred years ago."
"You mean Camoens. But the Greeks treated Homer in the same way."
"Yes, but the faults of others are no excuse for our own."
"You are right; but how can you like Camoens so much if you do not know Portuguese?"
"I have read a translation in Latin hexameters so well done that I fancied I was reading Virgil."
"Is that truly so?"
"I would never lie to you."
"Then I make a vow to learn Latin."
"That is worthy of you, but it is of me that you must learn the language. I will go to Portugal and live and die there, if you will give me your heart.'
"My heart! I have only one, and that is given already. Since I have known you I have despised myself, for I am afraid I have an inconstant nature."
"It will be enough for me if you will love me as your father, provided I may sometimes take my daughter to my arms. But go on with your story, the chief part is yet untold. What became of your lover, and what did your relations do when they found out your flight?"
"Three days after I arrived in this vast city I wrote to the abbess, my aunt, and told her the whole story, begging her to protect my lover, and to confirm me in my resolution never to return to Lisbon till I could do so in security, and have no obstacles placed in the way of my marriage. I also begged her to write and inform me of all that happened, addressing her letters to 'Miss Pauline,' under cover of my landlady.
"I sent my letter by Paris and Madrid, and I had to wait three months before I got an answer. My aunt told me that the frigate had only returned a short time, and that the captain immediately on his arrival wrote to the minister informing him that the only lady who was in his ship when he sailed was still on board, for he had brought her back with him, despite the opposition of Count Al-----, who declared she was his wife. The captain ended by asking his excellency for further orders with respect to the lady aforesaid.
"Oeiras, feeling sure that the lady was myself, told the captain to take her to the convent of which my aunt was abbess, with a letter he had written. In this letter he told my aunt that he sent her her niece, and begged her to keep the girl securely till further orders. My aunt was extremely surprised, but she would have been still more surprised if she had not got my letter a few days before. She thanked the captain for his care, and took the false niece to a room and locked her up.