However, Betty's adoring airs irritated me, though I was consoled at the thought of the earnest I had received from her.
Next day, the impudent fellow told me that he would order us a good supper at Viterbo, and that of course I would lend him a sequin to pay for his dinner at Montefiascone. So saying, he skewed me in an off-hand way a bill of exchange on Rome for three thousand crowns.
I did not trouble to read it, and gave him the sequin, though I felt sure I should never see it again.
Betty now treated me quite confidentially, and I felt I might ask her almost any questions.
When we were at Montefiascone she said,--
"You see my lover is only without money by chance; he has a bill of exchange for a large amount."
"I believe it to be a forgery."
"You are really too cruel."
"Not at all; I only wish I were mistaken, but I am sure of the contrary. Twenty years ago I should have taken it for a good one, but now it's another thing, and if the bill is a good one, why did he not negotiate it at Sienna, Florence, or Leghorn?"
"It may be that be had not the time; he was in such a hurry to be gone. Ah! if you knew all!"
"I only want to know what you like to tell me, but I warn you again that what I say is no vague suspicion but hard fact."
"Then you persist in the idea that he does not love me."
"Nay, he loves you, but in such a fashion as to deserve hatred in return."
"How do you mean?"
"Would you not hate a man who loved you only to traffic in your charms?"
"I should be sorry for you to think that of him."
"If you like, I will convince you of what I say this evening."
"You will oblige me; but I must have some positive proof. It would be a sore pain to me, but also a true service."
"And when you are convinced, will you cease to love him?"
"Certainly; if you prove him to be dishonest, my love will vanish away."
"You are mistaken; you will still love him, even when you have had proof positive of his wickedness. He has evidently fascinated you in a deadly manner, or you would see his character in its true light before this."
"All this may be true; but do you give me your proofs, and leave to me the care of shewing that I despise him."
"I will prove my assertions this evening; but tell me how long you have known him?"
"About a month; but we have only been together for five days."
"And before that time you never accorded him any favours?"
"Not a single kiss. He was always under my windows, and I had reason to believe that he loved me fondly."
"Oh, yes! he loves you, who would not? but his love is not that of a man of honour, but that of an impudent profligate."
"But how can you suspect a man of whom you know nothing?"
"Would that I did not know him! I feel sure that not being able to visit you, he made you visit him, and then persuaded you to fly with him."
"Yes, he did. He wrote me a letter, which I will shew you. He promises to marry me at Rome."
"And who is to answer for his constancy?"
"His love is my surety."
"Do you fear pursuit?"
"Did he take you from a father, a lover, or a brother?"
"From a lover, who will not be back at Leghorn for a week or ten days."
"Where has he gone?"
"To London on business; I was under the charge of a woman whom he trusted."
"That's enough; I pity you, my poor Betty. Tell me if you love your Englishman, and if he is worthy of your love."
"Alas! I loved him dearly till I saw this Frenchman, who made me unfaithful to a man I adored. He will be in despair at not finding me when he returns."
"Is he rich?"
"Not very; he is a business man, and is comfortably off."
"Is he young?"
"No. He is a man of your age, and a thoroughly kind and honest person. He was waiting for his comsumptive wife to die to marry me."
"Poor man! Have you presented him with a child?"
"No. I am sure God did not mean me for him, for the count has conquered me completely."
"Everyone whom love leads astray says the same thing."
"Now you have heard everything, and I am glad I told you, for I am sure you are my friend."
"I will be a better friend to you, dear Betty, in the future than in the past.