I told her that I left it all to her, and that she could do what she liked with the linen.
"Then it will all come under my hands if you are in no hurry to go."
"You can make me stay as long as you like," said I; but she seemed not to hear this declaration.
"Everything is quite right," I continued, "except the chocolate; I like it well frothed."
"Then I will make it for you myself."
"Then I will give out a double quantity, and we will take it together."
"I don't like chocolate."
"I am sorry to hear that; but you like foie gras?"
"Yes, I do; and from what father tells me I am going to take some with you to-day."
"I shall be delighted."
"I suppose you are afraid of being poisoned?"
"Not at all; I only wish we could die together."
She pretended not to understand, and left me burning with desire. I felt that I must either obtain possession of her or tell her father not to send her into my room any more.
The Turin Jewess had given me some valuable hints as to the conduct of amours with Jewish girls.
My theory was that Leah would be more easily won than she, for at Ancona there was much more liberty than at Turin.
This was a rake's reasoning, but even rakes are mistaken sometimes.
The dinner that was served to me was very good, though cooked in the Jewish style, and Leah brought in the foie gras and sat down opposite to me with a muslin kerchief over her breast.
The foie gras was excellent, and we washed it down with copious libations of Scopolo, which Leah found very much to her taste.
When the foie gras was finished she got up, but I stopped her, for the dinner was only half over.
"I will stay then," said she, "but I am afraid my father will object."
"Very good. Call your master," I said to the maid who came in at that moment, "I have a word to speak to him."
"My dear Mardocheus," I said when he came, "your daughter's appetite doubles mine, and I shall be much obliged if you will allow her to keep me company whenever we have foie gras."
"It isn't to my profit to double your appetite, but if you like to pay double I shall have no objection."
"Very good, that arrangement will suit me."
In evidence of my satisfaction I gave him a bottle of Scopolo, which Leah guaranteed pure.
We dined together, and seeing that the wine was making her mirthful I told her that her eyes were inflaming me and that she must let me kiss them.
"My duty obliges me to say nay. No kissing and no touching; we have only got to eat and drink together, and I shall like it as much as you."
"You are cruel."
"I am wholly dependent on my father."
"Shall I ask your father to give you leave to be kind?"
"I don't think that would be proper, and my father might be offended and not allow me to see you any more."
"And supposing he told you not to be scrupulous about trifles?"
"Then I should despise him and continue to do my duty."
So clear a declaration shewed me that if I persevered in this intrigue I might go on for ever without success. I also bethought me that I ran a risk of neglecting my chief business, which would not allow me to stay long in Ancona.
I said nothing more to Leah just then, and when the dessert came in I gave her some Cyprus wine, which she declared was the most delicious nectar she had ever tasted.
I saw that the wine was heating her, and it seemed incredible to me that Bacchus should reign without Venus; but she had a hard head, her blood was hot and her brain cool.
However, I tried to seize her hand and kiss it, but she drew it away, saying pleasantly,--
"It's too much for honour and too little for love."
This witty remark amused me, and it also let me know that she was not exactly a neophyte.
I determined to postpone matters till the next day, and told her not to get me any supper as I was supping with the Venetian consul.
The consul had told me that he did not dine, but that he would always be delighted to see me at supper.
It was midnight when I came home, and everyone was asleep except the maid who let me in.