My servant came in as she went out, and I told him that I would sleep by myself for the future.
The next day the marchioness laughingly repeated the whole of my conversation with Anastasia.
"I applauded her virtuous resistance, but I said she might safely assist at your toilette every evening."
Leonilda gave the marquis a full account of my talk with Anastasia. The old man thought I was really in love with her, and had her in to supper for my sake, so I was in common decency bound to play the lover. Anastasia was highly pleased at my preferring her to her charming mistress, and at the latter's complaisance towards our love-making.
The marquis in his turn was equally pleased as he thought the intrigue would make me stay longer at his house.
In the evening Anastasia accompanied me to my room with a candle, and seeing that I had no valet she insisted combing my hair. She felt flattered at my not presuming to go to bed in her presence, and kept me company for an hour; and as I was not really amorous of her, I had no difficulty in playing the part of the timid lover. When she wished me good night she was delighted to find my kisses as affectionate but not so daring as those of the night before.
The marchioness said, the next morning, that if the recital she had heard were true, she was afraid Anastasia's company tired me, as she very well knew that when I really loved I cast timidity to the winds.
"No, she doesn't tire me at all; she is pretty and amusing. But how can you imagine that I really love her, when you know very well that the whole affair is only designed to cast dust in everyone's eyes?"
"Anastasia fully believes that you adore her, and indeed I am not sorry that you should give her a little taste for gallantry."
"If I can persuade her to leave her door open I can easily visit you, for she will not imagine for a moment that after leaving her I go to your room instead of my own."
"Take care how you set about it."
"I will see what I can do this evening."
The marquis and Lucrezia had not the slightest doubt that Anastasia spent every night with me, and they were delighted at the idea.
The whole of the day I devoted to the worthy marquis, who said my company made him happy. It was no sacrifice on my part, for I liked his principles and his way of thinking.
On the occasion of my third supper with Anastasia I was more tender than ever, and she was very much astonished to find that I had cooled down when I got to my room.
"I am glad to see you so calm," said she, "you quite frightened me at supper."
"The reason is that I know you think yourself in danger when you are alone with me."
"Not at all; you are much more discreet than you were nine years ago."
"What folly did I commit then?"
"No folly, but you did not respect my childhood."
"I only gave you a few caresses, for which I am now sorry, as you are frightened of me, and persist in locking your door."
"I don't mistrust you, but I have told you my reasons for locking the door. I think that you must mistrust me, as you won't go to bed while I am in the room."
"You must think me very presumptuous. I will go to bed, but you must not leave me without giving me a kiss."
"I promise to do so."
I went to bed, and Anastasia spent half an hour beside me. I had a good deal of difficulty in controlling myself, but I was afraid of her telling the marchioness everything.
As she left me she gave me such a kind embrace that I could bear it no longer, and guiding her hand I skewed her the power she exercised over me. She then went away, and I shall not say whether my behaviour irritated or pleased her.
The next day I was curious to know how much she had told the marchioness, and on hearing nothing of the principal fact I felt certain she would not lock her door that evening.
When the evening came I defied her to skew the same confidence in me as I had shewn in her. She replied that she would do so with pleasure, if I would blow out my candle and promise not to put my hand on her.