I added that my means would not allow me to pay double expenses for so long a journey.
She had received too many proofs of my love to think for a moment that I had got tired of her, and wanted to be on with some other woman. She told me that she owed everything to me, while I owed nothing to her; and that all she asked of me was to enable her to return to Montpellier.
"I have relations there," said she, "who will be glad to see me, and I hope that my husband will let me return to him. I am the Prodigal Son, and I hope to find in him the forgiving father."
I told her I would do my utmost to send her home in safety and comfort.
Towards the middle of December I left Dresden with Madame Blasin. My purse only contained four hundred ducats, for I had had a run of bad luck at play; and the journey to Leipzig had cost me altogether three hundred ducats. I told my mistress nothing of all this, for my only thought was how to please her.
We stayed a short while at Prague, and reached Vienna on Christmas Day. We put up at the "Red Bull," the Countess Blasin (who had been transformed into a milliner) in one room, and I in another, so that we might pass for strangers while continuing our intimacy.
The next morning, as we were taking coffee together, two individuals came into the room, and asked the rude question,--
"Who are you, madam?"
"My name is Blasin."
"Who is this gentleman?"
"You had better ask him."
"What are you doing at Vienna?"
"Taking coffee. I should have thought you could have seen that for yourselves."
"If the gentleman is not your husband, you will leave the town within twenty-four hours."
"The gentleman is my friend, and not my husband; and I shall leave Vienna exactly when I choose, unless you make me go away by force."
"Very good. We are aware, sir, that you have a separate room, but that makes no difference."
Thereupon one of the policemen entered my room, I following him.
"What do you want here?" said I.
"I am looking at your bed, and I can see you have not slept in it. That's enough."
"The devil! What business have you here at all, and who authorizes such disgraceful proceedings?"
He made no reply, but returned to Madame Blasin's room, where they both ordered her to leave Vienna in the course of twenty-four hours, and then they both left us.
"Dress yourself," said I to her, "and tell the French ambassador the whole story. Tell him that you are a milliner, Blasin by name, and that all you want is to go from here to Strasburg, and from there to Montpellier."
While she was dressing I ordered a carriage and a servant to be in attendance. She returned in an hour's time, and said the ambassador had assured her that she would be left alone, and need not leave Vienna till she thought fit. I took her to mass in triumph, and then, as the weather was bad, we spent the rest of the day in eating and drinking and sitting by the fire.
At eight o'clock in the evening the landlord came up and said very politely that he had been ordered by the police to give the lady a room at some distance from mine, and that he was obliged to obey.
"I am quite ready to change my room," said Madame Blasin, with a smile.
"Is the lady to sup alone?" I asked.
"I have received no instructions on that point."
"Then I will sup with her, and I hope you will treat us well."
"You shall be well served, sir."
In spite of the detestable and tyrannical police we spent the last four days and nights together in the closest intimacy. When she left I wanted her to take fifty Louis; but she would only have thirty, saying that she could travel to Montpellier on that sum, and have money in her pocket when she got there. Our parting was an affecting one. She wrote to me from Strasburg, and we shall hear of her again when I describe my visit to Montpellier.
The first day of the year 1767 I took an apartment in the house of a certain Mr. Schroder, and I took letters of introduction to Madame de Salmor and Madame de Stahremberg.