If you care to do so we shall be prepared to defray legal expenses to the extent of fifty crowns."
The bargello asked me to give him the bill of exchange and all the effects of the adventurer, including the letters.
I had the bill in my pocket and gave it him on the spot, taking a receipt in exchange. I told him to send to the inn for the rest.
"As soon as I have made him confess the facts you allege against him," said the bargello, "we shall be able to do something. I have already heard that he is at Roland's, and has been trying to get the Englishwoman's trunk. If you liked to spend a hundred crowns instead of fifty we could send him to the galleys for a couple of years."
"We will see about that," said I, "for the present we will have him into prison."
He was delighted to hear that the horse was not l'Etoile's property, and said that if I liked to call at nine o'clock he would have further news for me.
I said I would come. I really had a good deal to do at Rome. I wanted to see Cardinal Bernis in the first place, but I postponed everything to the affair of the moment.
I went back to the inn and was told by a valet de place, whom Sir B---- M---- had hired, that the Englishman had gone to bed.
We were in need of a carriage, so I summoned the landlord and was astonished to find myself confronted by Roland in person.
"How's this?" I said. "I thought you were still at the Place d'Espagne."
"I have given my old house to my daughter who has married a prosperous Frenchman, while I have taken this palace where there are some magnificent rooms."
"Has your daughter many foreigners staying at her house now?"
"Only one Frenchman, the Comte de l'Etoile, who is waiting for his equipage to come on. He has an excellent horse, and I am thinking of buying it from him."
"I advise you to wait till to-morrow, and to say nothing about the advice I have given you."
"Why should I wait?"
"I can't say any more just now."
This Roland was the father of the Therese whom I had loved nine years before, and whom my brother Jean had married in 1762, a year after my departure. Roland told me that my brother was in Rome with Prince Beloselski, the Russian ambassador to the Court of Saxony.
"I understood that my brother could not come to Rome."
"He came with a safe-conduct which the Dowager Electress of Saxony obtained for him from the Holy Father. He wants his case to be re-tried, and there he makes a mistake, for if it were heard a hundred times the sentence would continue the same. No one will see him, everyone avoids him, even Mengs will have nothing to say to him."
"Mengs is here, is he? I though he had been at Madrid."
"He has got leave of absence for a year, but his family remains in Spain."
After hearing all this news which was far from pleasant to me, as I did not wish to see Mengs or my brother, I went to bed, leaving orders that I was to be roused in time for dinner.
In an hour's time I was awakened by the tidings that some one was waiting to give me a note. It was one of the bargello's men, who had come to take over l'Etoile's effects.
At dinner I told Sir B---- M---- what I had done, and we agreed that he should accompany me to the bargello's in the evening.
In the afternoon we visited some of the principal palaces, and after taking Betty back to the inn we went to the bargello, who told us our man was already in prison, and that it would cost very little to send him to the galleys.
"Before making up my mind I should like to speak to him," said Sir B---- M----."
"You can do so to-morrow. He confessed everything without any trouble, and made a jest of it, saying he was not afraid of any consequences, as the young lady had gone with him of her own free will. I shewed him the bill of exchange, but he evinced no emotion whatever. He told me that he was an actor by profession, but also a man of rank. As to the horse, he said he was at perfect liberty to sell it, as the watch he had left in pledge was worth more than the beast."
I had forgotten to inform the bargello that the watch aforesaid belonged to Betty.