The aunt opened to me, and said,--
"Come back in a quarter of an hour; she has been ordered a bath, and is just going to take it."
"This is another imposture. You're as bad a liar as she is."
"You are cruel and unjust, and if you will promise to be discreet, I will take you up to the third floor where she is bathing."
"Very good; take me." She went upstairs, I following on tiptoe, and pushed me into a room, and shut the door upon me. The Charpillon was in a huge bath, with her head towards the door, and the infernal coquette, pretending to think it was her aunt, did not move, and said,--
"Give me the towels, aunt."
She was in the most seductive posture, and I had the pleasure of gazing on her exquisite proportions, hardly veiled by the water.
When she caught sight of me, or rather pretended to do so, she gave a shriek, huddled her limbs together, and said, with affected anger,--
"You needn't exert your voice, for I am not going to be duped."
"Not so, give me a little time to collect myself."
"I tell you, go!"
"Calm yourself, and don't be afraid of my skewing you any violence; that would suit your game too well."
"My aunt shall pay dearly for this."
"She will find me her friend. I won't touch you, so shew me a little more of your charms."
"More of my charms?"
"Yes; put yourself as you were when I came in."
"Certainly not. Leave the room."
"I have told you I am not going, and that you need not fear for your . . . well, for your virginity, we will say."
She then shewed me a picture more seductive than the first, and pretending kindliness, said,--
"Please, leave me; I will not fail to shew my gratitude."
Seeing that she got nothing, that I refrained from touching her, and that the fire she had kindled was in a fair way to be put out, she turned her back to me to give me to understand that it was no pleasure to her to look at me. However, my passions were running high, and I had to have recourse to self-abuse to calm my senses, and was glad to find myself relieved, as this proved to me that the desire went no deeper than the senses.
The aunt came in just as I had finished, and I went out without a word, well pleased to find myself despising a character wherein profit and loss usurped the place of feeling.
The aunt came to me as I was going out of the house, and after enquiring if I were satisfied begged me to come into the parlour.
"Yes," said I, "I am perfectly satisfied to know you and your niece. Here is the reward."
With these words I drew a bank-note for a hundred pounds from my pocket-book, and was foolish enough to give it her, telling her that she could make her balm, and need not trouble to give me any document as I knew if would be of no value. I had not the strength to go away without giving her anything, and the procuress was sharp enough to know it.
When I got home I reflected on what had happened, and pronounced myself the conqueror with great triumph. I felt well at ease, and felt sure that I should never set foot in that house again. There were seven of them altogether, including servants, and the need of subsisting made them do anything for a living; and when they found themselves obliged to make use of men, they summoned the three rascals I have named, who were equally dependent on them.
Five or six days afterwards, I met the little hussy at Vauxhall in company with Goudar. I avoided her at first, but she came up to me reproaching me for my rudeness. I replied coolly enough, but affecting not to notice my manner, she asked me to come into an arbour with her and take a cup of tea.
"No, thank you," I replied, "I prefer supper."
"Then I will take some too, and you will give it me, won't you, just to shew that you bear no malice?"
I ordered supper for four and we sat down together as if we had been intimate friends.
Her charming conversation combined with her beauty gradually drew me under her charm, and as the drink began to exercise its influence over me, I proposed a turn in one of the dark walks, expressing a hope that I should fare better than Lord Pembroke.