Mirth was the order of the day, and I kept the company at table till an hour after midnight.
Before we parted for the night the marquis told me that we would start in the afternoon, and that he should arrive an hour before us. He assured his wife that he was quite well, and that he hoped to convince her that I had made him ten years younger. Leonilda embraced him tenderly, begging him to be careful of his health.
"Yes, yes," said he, "but get ready to receive me."
I wished them a good night, and a little marquis at nine months from date.
"Draw the bill," said he to me, "and to-morrow I will accept it."
"I promise you," said Lucrezia, "to do my best to ensure your meeting your obligations."
Donna Lucrezia took me to my room, where she handed me over to the charge of an imposing-looking servant, and wished me a good night.
I slept for eight hours in a most comfortable bed, and when I was dressed Lucrezia took me to breakfast with the marchioness, who was at her toilette.
"Do you think I may draw my bill at nine months?" said I.
"It will very probably be met," said she.
"Yes, really; and it will be to you that my husband will owe the happiness he has so long desired. He told me so when he left me an hour ago.
"I shall be delighted to add to your mutual happiness."
She looked so fresh and happy that I longed to kiss her, but I was obliged to restrain myself as she was surrounded by her pretty maids.
The better to throw any spies off the scent I began to make love to Anastasia, and Leonilda pretended to encourage me.
I feigned a passionate desire, and I could see that I should not have much trouble in gaining my suit. I saw I should have to be careful if I did not want to be taken at my word; I could not bear such a surfeit of pleasures.
We went to breakfast with the marquis, who was delighted to see us. He was quite well, except the gout which prevented his walking.
After breakfast we heard mass, and I saw about twenty servants in the chapel. After the service I kept the marquis company till dinner-time. He said I was very good to sacrifice the company of the ladies for his sake.
After dinner we set out for his country house; I in a carriage with the two ladies, and the marquis in a litter borne by two mules.
In an hour and a half we arrived at his fine and well-situated castle.
The first thing the marchioness did was to take me into the garden, where my ardour returned and she once more abandoned herself to me.
We agreed that I should only go to her room to court Anastasia, as it was necessary to avoid the slightest suspicion.
This fancy of mine for his wife's maid amused the marquis, for his wife kept him well posted in the progress of our intrigue.
Donna Lucrezia approved of the arrangement as she did not want the marquis to think that I had only come to Salerno for her sake. My apartments were next to Leonilda's, but before I could get into her room I should be obliged to pass through that occupied by Anastasia, who slept with another maid still prettier than herself.
The marquis came an hour later, and he said he would get his people to carry him in an arm-chair round the gardens, so that he might point out their beauties to me. After supper he felt tired and went to bed, leaving me to entertain the ladies.
After a few moments' conversation, I led the marchioness to her room, and she said I had better go to my own apartment through the maids' room, telling Aanastasia to shew me the way.
Politeness obliged me to shew myself sensible of such a favour, and I said I hoped she would not be so harsh as to lock her door upon me.
"I shall lock my door," said she, "because it is my duty to do so. This room is my mistress's closet, and my companion would probably make some remark if I left the door open contrary to my usual custom."
"Your reasons are too good for me to overcome, but will you not sit down beside me for a few minutes and help me to recollect how I used to tease you?"
"I don't want you to recollect anything about it; please let me go."
"You must please yourself," said I; and after embracing her and giving her a kiss, I wished her good night.