My readers may be aware that I am not inclined to make mental pleasure pre-eminent and all sufficing. It may be a fine thing to have a clear conscience, but I cannot see that it would at all relieve the pangs of hunger.
Baron Pittoni and myself escorted Zaguri to the Venetian border, and we then returned to Trieste together.
In three or four days Pittoni took me everywhere, including the club where none but persons of distinction were admitted. This club was held at the inn where I was staying.
Amongst the ladies, the most noteworthy was the wife of the merchant, David Riguelin, who was a Swabian by birth.
Pittoni was in love with her and continued so till her death. His suit lasted for twelve years, and like Petrarch, he still sighed, still hoped, but never succeeded. Her name was Zanetta, and besides her beauty she had the charm of being an exquisite singer and a polished hostess. Still more noteworthy, however, was the unvarying sweetness and equability of her disposition.
I did not want to know her long before recognizing that she was absolutely impregnable. I told Pittoni so, but all in vain; he still fed on empty hope.
Zanetta had very poor health, though no one would have judged so from her appearance, but it was well known to be the case. She died at an early age.
A few days after M. Zaguri's departure, I had a note from the consul informing me that the Procurator Morosini was stopping in my inn, and advising me to call on him if I knew him.
I was infinitely obliged for this advice, for M. Morosini was a personage of the greatest importance. He had known me from childhood, and the reader may remember that he had presented me to Marshal Richelieu, at Fontainebleau, in 1750.
I dressed myself as if I had been about to speak to a monarch, and sent in a note to his room.
I had not long to wait; he came out and welcomed me most graciously, telling me how delighted he was to see me again.
When he heard the reason of my being at Trieste, and how I desired to return to my country, he assured me he would do all in his power to obtain me my wish. He thanked me for the care I had taken of his nephew at Florence, and kept me all the day while I told him my principal adventures.
He was glad to hear that M. Zaguri was working for me, and said that they must concert the mater together. He commended me warmly to the consul, who was delighted to be able to inform the Tribunal of the consideration with which M. Morosini treated me.
After the procurator had gone I began to enjoy life at Trieste, but in strict moderation and with due regard for economy, for I had only fifteen sequins a month. I abjured play altogether.
Every day I dined with one of the circle of my friends, who were the Venetian consul, the French consul (an eccentric but worthy man who kept a good cook), Pittoni, who kept an excellent table, thanks to his man who knew what was to his own interests, and several others.
As for the pleasures of love I enjoyed them in moderation, taking care of my purse and of my health.
Towards the end of the carnival I went to a masked ball at the theatre, and in the course of the evening a harlequin came up and presented his columbine to me. They both began to play tricks on me. I was pleased with the columbine, and felt a strong desire to be acquainted with her. After some vain researches the French consul, M. de St. Sauveur, told me that the harlequin was a young lady of rank, and that the columbine was a handsome young man.
"If you like," he added, "I will introduce you to the harlequin's family, and I am sure you will appreciate her charms when you see her as a girl."
As they persisted in their jokes I was able, without wounding decency overmuch, to convince myself that the consul was right on the question of sex; and when the ball was over I said I should be obliged by his introducing me as he had promised. He promised to do so the day after Ash Wednesday.
Thus I made the acquaintance of Madame Leo, who was still pretty and agreeable, though she had lived very freely in her younger days.