She replied that the baron's fidelity was not of a character to make him very exacting. I put the address in my pocket, and promised to pass a night with her.
The baron came in again, and said,--
"I have been to a merchant to discount this bill of exchange, and though it is drawn on one of the best house in Cadiz, and made out by a good house in London, he would not have anything to do with it."
I took the bill and saw some millions mentioned on it, which astonished me.
The baron said with a laugh that the currency was Portuguese milries, and that they amounted to five hundred pounds sterling.
"If the signatures are known," said I, "I don't understand why the man won't discount it. Why don't you take it to your banker?"
"I haven't got one. I came to England with a thousand gold pieces in my pocket, and I have spent them all. As I have not got any letters of credit I cannot pay you unless the bill is discounted. If you have got any friends on the Exchange, however, you could get it done."
"If the names prove good ones I will let you have the money to-morrow morning."
"Then I will make it payable to your order."
He put his name to it, and I promised to send him either the money or the bill before noon on the day following. He gave me his address and begged me to come and dine with him, and so we parted.
The next day I went to Bosanquet, who told me that Mr. Leigh was looking out for bills of exchange on Cadiz, and I accordingly waited on him. He exclaimed that such paper was worth more than gold to him, and gave me five hundred and twenty guineas, of course after I had endorsed it.
I called on the baron and gave him the money I had just received, and he thanked me and gave me back the hundred guineas. Afterwards we had dinner, and fell to talking of his mistress.
"Are you in love with her?" said I.
"No; I have plenty of others, and if you like her you can have her for ten guineas."
I liked this way of putting it, though I had not the slightest idea of cheating the girl out of the sum I had promised her. On leaving the baron I went to see her, and as soon as she heard that the baron had paid me she ordered a delicious supper, and made me spend a night that obliterated all my sorrows from my memory. In the morning, when I handed over the fifty guineas, she said that as a reward for the way in which I kept my promise I could sup with her whenever I liked to spend six guineas. I promised to come and see her often.
The next morning I received a letter through the post, written in bad Italian, and signed, "Your obedient godson, Daturi." This godson of mine was in prison for debt, and begged me to give him a few shillings to buy some food.
I had nothing particular to do, the appellation of godson made me curious, and so I went to the prison to see Daturi, of whose identity I had not the slightest idea. He was a fine young man of twenty; he did not know me, nor I him. I gave him his letter, and begging me to forgive him he drew a paper from his pocket and shewed me his certificate of baptism, on which I saw my own name inscribed beside his name and those of his father and mother, the parish of Venice, where he was born, and the church in which he was baptized; but still I racked my memory in vain; I could not recollect him.
"If you will listen to me," he said, "I can set you right; my mother has told me the story a hundred times."
"Go on," said I, "I will listen;" and as he told his story I remembered who he was.
This young man whom I had held at the font as the son of the actor Daturi was possibly my own son. He had come to London with a troupe of jugglers to play the illustrious part of clown, or pagliazzo, but having quarrelled with the company he had lost his place and had got into debt to the extent of ten pounds sterling, and for this debt he had been imprisoned. Without saying anything to him about my relations with his mother, I set him free on the spot, telling him to come to me every morning, as I would give him two shillings a day for his support.