I was delighted to hear that no one suspected that I had spent the fortnight within five leagues of Brunswick. Daturi told me that the general belief was that I had returned the Jew his money and got the bill of exchange back. Nevertheless I felt sure that the bill had been honoured at Amsterdam, and that the duke knew that I had been staying at Wolfenbuttel.
Daturi told me that Nicolini was expecting to see me at dinner, and I was not astonished to hear of it, for I had not taken leave of anyone. I accordingly went, and the following incident, which served to justify me in the eyes of all men, took place:
We were at the roast when one of the prince's servants came in with the Jew I had beaten. The poor man came up humbly to me, and spoke as follows:
"I am ordered to come here, sir, to apologize for suspecting the authenticity of the bill of exchange you gave me. I have been punished by being fined the amount of my commission."
"I wish that had been your only punishment," said I.
He made me a profound bow, and went out, saying that I was only too good.
When I 'got back to the inn, I found a letter from Redegonde in which she reproached me tenderly for not having been once to see her all the time I had been at Brunswick, and begging me to breakfast with her in a little country house.
"I shall not be in my mother's company," she added, "but in that of a young lady of your acquaintance, whom, I am sure, you will be glad to see once more."
I liked Redegonde, and I had only neglected her at Brunswick because my means did not allow my making her a handsome present. I resolved to accept her invitation, my curiosity being rather stimulated by the account of the young lady.
I was exact at the time indicated, and I found Redegonde looking charming in a pretty room on the ground floor, and with her was a young artiste whom I had known as a child shortly before I had been put under the Leads. I pretended to be delighted to see her, but I was really quite taken up with Redegonde, and congratulated her upon her pretty house. She said she had taken it for six months, but did not sleep there. After coffee had been served we were on the point of going out for a stroll, when who should come in but the prince. He smiled pleasantly when he saw us, and apologized to Redegonde for interrupting our little party.
The appearance of the prince enlightened me as to the position of my delightful fellow countrywoman, and I understood why she had been so precise about the time at which I was to come. Redegonde had made the conquest of the worthy prince, who was always disposed to gallantry, but felt it his duty during the first year of his marriage with the King of England's sister to preserve some kind of incognito in his amours.
We spent an hour in walking up and down and talking of London and Berlin, but nothing was said of the Jew or the bill of exchange. He was delighted with my warm eulogium of his library at Wolfenbuttel, and laughed with all his heart when I said that unless it had been for the intellectual nourishment I enjoyed, the bad fare at the inn would certainly have reduced me to half my present size.
After bidding a graceful farewell to the nymph, the prince left us, and we heard him galloping away on his horse.
When I was alone with Redegonde, far from begging for new favours, I advised her to be faithful to the prince; but though appearances were certainly not deceitful in this case, she would not admit anything. This was in accordance with her part as young mistress, and I did not reproach her for her want of confidence.
I spent the rest of the day at the inn, and started the next morning at day-break.
When I got to Magdeburg, I took a letter of introduction from General Bekw---- to an officer. He shewed me the fortress, and kept me for three days making me taste all the pleasures of the table, women, and gaming. However, I was very moderate, and managed to increase my savings in a small degree, contenting myself with modest wagers.