I told Scholastica's intended to keep what had passed to himself, and asked him to dine with me on the day after Ash Wednesday.
The night was dark, and we walked to the place where I had ordered the carriage to be in waiting.
To me it was as if I had come out of hell, and on the way to the inn I did not speak a word, not even answering the questions which the too- simple Armelline addressed to me in a voice that would have softened a heart of stone. Scholastica avenged me by reproaching her for having obliged me to appear either rude or jealous, or a breaker of my word.
When we got to the inn Armelline changed my jealous rage into pity; her eyes swam with tears, which Scholastica's home truths had drawn forth.
The supper was ready, so they had no time to change their dress. I was sad enough, but I could not bear to see Armelline sad also. I resolved to do my best to drive away her melancholy, even though I suspected that it arose from love of the Florentine.
The supper was excellent, and Scholastica did honour to it, while Armelline, contrary to her wont, scarcely touched a thing. Scholastica was charming. She embraced her friend, and told her to be merry with her, as I had become the friend of her betrothed, and she was sure I would do as much for her as I had done for Emilie. She blessed the ball and the chance which had brought him there. In short, she did her best to shew Armelline that with my love she had no reason to be sad.
Armelline dared not disclose the true cause of her sadness. The fact was, that she wanted to get married, and the handsome Florentine was the man to her liking.
Our supper came to an end, and still Armelline was gloomy. She only drank one glass of punch, and as she had eaten so little I would not try and make her drink more for fear lest it should do her harm. Scholastica, on the other hand, took such a fancy to this agreeable fluid, which she tasted for the first time, that she drank deeply, and was amazed to find it mounting to her head instead of descending to her stomach. In this pleasant state, she felt it was her duty to reconcile Armelline and myself, and to assure us that we might be as tender as we liked without minding her presence.
Getting up from table and standing with some difficulty, she carried her friend to the sofa, and caressed her in such a way that Armelline could not help laughing, despite her sadness. Then she called me and placed her in my arms. I caressed her, and Armelline, though she did not repulse me, did not respond as Scholastica had hoped. I was not disappointed; I did not think it likely she would grant now what she had refused to grant when I had held her in my arms for those hours whilst Emilie was fast asleep.
However, Scholastica began to reproach me with my coldness, though I deserved no blame at all on this score.
I told them to take off their men's clothes, and to dress themselves as women.
I helped Scholastica to take off her coat and waistcoat, and then aided Armelline in a similar manner.
When I brought them their chemises, Armelline told me to go and stand by the fire, and I did so.
Before long a noise of kissing made me turn round, and I saw Scholastica, on whom the punch had taken effect, devouring Armelline's breast with kisses. At last this treatment had the desired result; Armelline became gay, and gave as good as she got.
At this sight the blood boiled in my veins, and running to them I found Scholastic was not ill pleased that I should do justice to her beautiful spheres, while for the nonce I transformed her into a nurse.
Armelline was ashamed to appear less generous than her friend, and Scholastica was triumphant when she saw the peculiar use to which (for the first time) I put Armelline's hands.
Armelline called to her friend to help, and she was not backward; but in spite of her twenty years her astonishment at the catastrophe was great.
After it was over I put on their chemises and took off their breeches with all the decency imaginable, and after spending a few minutes in the next room they came and sat down on my knee of their own accord.