It is the kerchief with which St. Veronica wiped the face of Our Lord, who left the imprint of His divine face upon it."
We left them, well pleased with the appearance and manners of the lady pilgrim, but placing very little trust in her devotion. I was still weak from my illness, and she inspired me with no desires, but the rest would have gladly supped with her if they had thought there was anything to follow.
Next day her husband asked me if I would come up and breakfast with them, or if they should come down and breakfast with me. It would have been impolite to have replied neither, so I said that I should be delighted to see them in my room.
At breakfast I asked the pilgrim what he did, and he replied that he was an artist.
He could not design a picture, but he could copy it, and he assured me that he could copy an engraving so exactly that none could tell the copy from the original.
"I congratulate you. If you are not a rich man, you are, at least, certain of earning a living with this talent."
"Everybody says the same, but it is a mistake. I have pursued this craft at Rome and at Naples, and found I had to work all day to make half a tester, and that's not enough to live on."
He then shewed me some fans he had done, and I thought them most beautiful. They were done in pen and ink, and the finest copper-plate could not have surpassed them.
Next he showed me a copy from a Rembrandt, which if anything, was finer than the original. In spite of all he swore that the work he got barely supported him, but I did not believe what he said. He was a weak genius who preferred a vagabond life to methodical labour.
I offered a Louis for one of his fans, but he refused to take it, begging me to accept the fan as a gift, and to make a collection for him at the table d'hote, as he wanted to start the day after next.
I accepted the present and promised to do as he desired, and succeeded in making up a purse of two hundred francs for them.
The woman had the most virtuous air. She was asked to write her name on a lottery ticket, but refused, saying that no honest girls were taught to write at Rome.
Everybody laughed at this excuse except myself, and I pitied her, as I could see that she was of very low origin.
Next day she came and asked me to give her a letter of introduction for Avignon. I wrote her out two; one to M. Audifret the banker, and the other to the landlady of the inn. In the evening she returned me the letter to the banker, saying that it was not necessary for their purposes. At the same time she asked me to examine the letter closely, to see if it was really the same document I had given her. I did so, and said I was sure it was my letter.
She laughed, and told me I was mistaken as it was only a copy.
She called her husband, who came with the letter in his hand.
I could doubt no longer, and said to him,--
"You are a man of talents, for it is much harder to imitate a handwriting than an engraving. You ought to make this talent serve you in good stead; but be careful, or it may cost you your life."
The next day the couple left Aix. In ten years I saw them again under the name of Count and Countess Pellegrini.
At the present period he is in a prison which he will probably never leave, and his wife is happy, maybe, in a convent.
My Departure--Letter from Henriette--Marsellies--History of Nina--Nice-- Turin--Lugano--Madame De****
As soon as I had regained my usual strength, I went to take leave of the Marquis d'Argens and his brother. I dined with them, pretending not to observe the presence of the Jesuit, and I then spent three delightful hours in conversation with the learned and amiable Marquis d'Argens. He told me a number of interesting anecdotes about the private life of Frederick II. No doubt the reader would like to have them, but I lack the energy to set them down. Perhaps some other day when the mists about Dux have dispersed, and some rays of the sun shine in upon me, I shall commit all these anecdotes to paper, but now I have not the courage to do so.