It had been agreed that his wife should come with him. The rascally fellow prevaricated, and tried hard to induce me to believe that Medini had not plotted the breaking of the bank, but his eloquence was in vain.
Our dinner was a most agreeable one, and Sara cut a brilliant figure, for she possessed every pleasing quality that can make a woman attractive. In good truth, this tavern girl would have filled a throne with any queen; but Fortune is blind.
When the dinner was over, M. de Buturlin, a distinguished Russian, and a great lover of pretty women, paid me a visit. He had been attracted by the sweet voice of the fair Sara, who was singing a Neapolitan air to the guitar. I shone only with a borrowed light, but I was far from being offended. Buturlin fell in love with Sara on the spot, and a few months after I left he got her for five hundred Louis, which Goudar required to carry out the order he had received, namely, to leave Naples in three days.
This stroke came from the queen, who found out that the king met Madame Goudar secretly at Procida. She found her royal husband laughing heartily at a letter which he would not shew her.
The queen's curiosity was excited, and at last the king gave in, and her majesty read the following:
"Ti aspettero nel medesimo luogo, ed alla stessa ora, coll' impazienza medesima che ha una vacca che desidera l'avvicinamento del toro."
"Chi infamia!" cried the queen, and her majesty gave the cow's husband to understand that in three days he would have to leave Naples, and look for bulls in other countries.
If these events had not taken place, M. de Buturlin would not have made so good a bargain.
After my dinner, Goudar asked all the company to sup with him the next evening. The repast was a magnificent one, but when Medini sat down at the end of a long table behind a heap of gold and a pack of cards, no punters came forward. Madame Goudar tried in vain to make the gentlemen take a hand. The Englishmen and the Saxons said politely that they should be delighted to play if she or I would take the bank, but they feared the count's extraordinary fortune.
Thereupon Goudar had the impudence to ask me to deal for a fourth share.
"I will not deal under a half share," I replied, "though I have no confidence in my luck."
Goudar spoke to Medini, who got up, took away his share, and left me the place.
I had only two hundred ounces in my purse. I placed them beside Goudar's two hundred, and in two hours my bank was broken, and I went to console myself with my Callimena.
Finding myself penniless I decided to yield to the pressure of Agatha's husband, who continued to beg me to take back the jewelry I had given his wife. I told Agatha I would never have consented if fortune had been kinder to me. She told her husband, and the worthy man came out of his closet and embraced me as if I had just made his fortune.
I told him I should like to have the value of the jewels, and the next day I found myself once more in possession of fifteen thousand francs. From that moment I decided to go to Rome, intending to stop there for eight months; but before my departure the advocate said he must give me a dinner at a casino which he had at Portici.
I had plenty of food for thought when I found myself in the house where I had made a small fortune by my trick with the mercury five-and-twenty years ago.
The king was then at Portici with his Court, and our curiosity attracting us we were witnesses of a most singular spectacle.
The king was only nineteen and loved all kinds of frolics. He conceived a desire to be tossed in a blanket! Probably few crowned heads have wished to imitate Sancho Panza in this manner.
His majesty was tossed to his heart's content; but after his aerial journeys he wished to laugh at those whom he had amused. He began by proposing that the queen should take part in the game; on her replying by shrieks of laughter, his majesty did not insist.
The old courtiers made their escape, greatly to my regret, for I should have liked to see them cutting capers in the air, specially Prince Paul Nicander, who had been the king's tutor, and had filled him with all his own prejudices.