I admired her candour, simplicity, or philosophy, whichever you like to call it.
After these preliminaries, she told me that I could make Emilie happy by obtaining, through the influence of the princess, a dispensation to marry without the publication of banns a merchant of Civita Vecchia, who would have married her long ago only that there was a woman who pretended to have claims upon him. If banns were published this woman would institute a suit which might go on forever.
"If you do this," she concluded, "you will have the merit of making Emilie happy."
I took down the man's name, and promised to do my best with the princess.
"Are you still determined to cure yourself of your love for Armelline?"
"Yes, but I shall not begin the cure till Lent."
"I congratulate you; the carnival is unusually long this year."
The next day I spoke of the matter to the princess. The first requisite was a certificate from the Bishop of Civita Vecchia, stating that the man was free to marry. The cardinal said that the man must come to Rome, and that the affair could be managed if he could bring forward two good witnesses who would swear that he was unmarried.
I told the superioress what the cardinal said, and she wrote to the merchant, and a few days after I saw him talking to the superioress and Emilie through the grating.
He commended himself to my protection, and said that before he married he wanted to be sure of having six hundred crowns.
The convent would give him four hundred crowns, so we should have to obtain a grant of two hundred more.
I succeeded in getting the grant, but I first contrived to have another supper with Armelline, who asked me every morning when I was going to take her to the comic opera. I said I was afraid of turning her astray from the path of duty, but she replied that experience had taught her to dread me no longer.
The Florentine--Marriage of Emilie--Scholastica--Armelline at the Ball
Before the supper I had loved Armelline to such an extent that I had determined to see her no more, but after it I felt that I must obtain her or die. I saw that she had only consented to my small liberties because she regarded them as mere jokes, of no account, and I resolved to take advantage of this way of looking at it to go as far as I could. I begin to play the part of indifferent to the best of my ability, only visiting her every other day, and looking at her with an expression of polite interest. I often pretended to forget to kiss her hand, while I kissed Emilie's and told her that if I felt certain of receiving positive marks of her affection I should stay at Civita Vecchia for some weeks after she was married. I would not see Armelline's horror, who could not bear me to take a fancy to Emilie.
Emilie said that she would be more at liberty when she was married, while Armelline, vexed at her giving me any hopes, told her sharply that a married woman had stricter duties to perform than a girl.
I agreed with her in my heart, but as it would not have suited my purpose to say so openly I insinuated the false doctrine that a married woman's chief duty is to keep her husband's descent intact, and that everything else is of trifling importance.
With the idea of driving Emilie to an extremity I told Emilie that if she wanted me to exert myself to my utmost for her she must give me good hopes of obtaining her favours not only after but before marriage.
"I will give you no other favours." she replied, "than those which Armelline may give you. You ought to try to get her married also."
In spite of her grief at these proposals, gentle Armelline replied,----
"You are the only man I have ever seen; and as I have no hopes of getting married I will give you no pledges at all, though I do not know what you mean by the word."
Though I saw how pure and angelic she was, I had the cruelty to go away, leaving her to her distress.
It was hard for me to torment her thus, but I thought it was the only way to overcome her prejudices.