Last week she gave an officer a box on the ear. My cousin scolded her, and she wanted to go back to Liege; however, the wife soothed her again. She is pretty enough, don't you think so?"
"Certainly I do, but if she is as cross-grained as you say, the best thing will be to leave her alone."
After what I had heard I made up my mind to change my room, for Mercy had pleased me in such a way that I was sure I should be obliged to pay her a call before long, and I detested Pamelas as heartily as Charpillons.
In the afternoon I took Rzewuski and Roniker to the shop, and they bought fifty ducats' worth of goods to oblige me. The next day the princess and Madame Tomatis bought all the handkerchiefs.
I came home at ten o'clock, and found Mercy in bed as I had done the night before. Next morning the watch was redeemed, and the hatter returned me twenty-two louis. I made him a present of the two louis, and said I should always be glad to lend him money in that way--the profits to be his. He left me full of gratitude.
I was asked to dine with Madame Tomatis, so I told my hosts that I would have the pleasure of supping with them, the costs to be borne by me. The supper was good and the Burgundy excellent, but Mercy refused to taste it. She happened to leave the room for a moment at the close of the meal, and I observed to the aunt that her niece was charming, but it was a pity she was so sad.
"She will have to change her ways, or I will keep her no longer."
"Is she the same with all men?"
"Then she has never been in love."
"She says she has not, but I don't believe her."
"I wonder she can sleep so comfortably with a man at a few feet distant."
"She is not afraid."
Mercy came in, bade us good night, and said she would go to bed. I made as if I would give her a kiss, but she turned her back on me, and placed a chair in front of her closet so that I might not see her taking off her chemise. My host and hostess then went to bed, and so did I, puzzling my head over the girl's behaviour which struck me as most extraordinary and unaccountable. However, I slept peacefully, and when I awoke the bird had left the nest. I felt inclined to have a little quiet argument with the girl, and to see what I could make of her; but I saw no chance of my getting an opportunity. The hatter availed himself of my offer of purse to lend money on pledges, whereby he made a good profit. There was no risk for me in the matter, and he and his wife declared that they blessed the day on which I had come to live with them.
On the fifth or sixth day I awoke before Mercy, and only putting on my dressing-gown I came towards her bed. She had a quick ear and woke up, and no sooner did she see me coming towards her than she asked me what I wanted. I sat down on her bed and said gently that I only wanted to wish her a good day and to have a little talk. It was hot weather, and she was only covered by a single sheet; and stretching out one arm I drew her towards me, and begged her to let me give her a kiss. Her resistance made me angry; and passing an audacious hand under the sheet I discovered that she was made like other women; but just as my hand was on the spot, I received a fisticuff on the nose that made me see a thousand stars, and quite extinguished the fire of my concupiscence. The blood streamed from my nose and stained the bed of the furious Mercy. I kept my presence of mind and left her on the spot, as the blow she had given me was but a sample of what I might expect if I attempted reprisals. I washed my face in cold water, and as I was doing so Mercy dressed herself and left the room.
At last my blood ceased to flow, and I saw to my great annoyance that my nose was swollen in such a manner that my face was simply hideous. I covered it up with a handkerchief and sent for the hairdresser to do my hair, and when this was done my landlady brought me up some fine trout, of which I approved; but as I was giving her the money she saw my face and uttered a cry of horror.