Will you promise not to make me go with him even if be guesses that I am with you?"
"I swear I will not."
"Then I am satisfied."
"But you will have to share my bed."
"If I shall not inconvenience you, I agree with all my heart."
"You shall see whether you inconvenience me or not. Undress, quick! But where are your things?"
"All that I have is in a small trunk behind the count's carriage, but I don't trouble myself about it."
"The poor count must be raging at this very moment."
"No, for he will not come home till midnight. He is supping with Madame Bissolotti, who is in love with him."
In the meantime Leuzica had undressed and got into bed. In a moment I was beside her, and after the severe regimen of the last eight months I spent a delicious night in her arms, for of late my pleasures had been few.
Leuzica was a perfect beauty, and worthy to be a king's mistress; and if I had been rich I would have set up a household that I might retain her in my service.
We did not awake till seven o'clock. She got up, and on looking out of the window saw Strasoldo's carriage waiting at the door.
I confronted her by saying that as long as she liked to stay with me no one could force her away.
I was vexed that I had no closet in my room, as I could not hide her from the waiter who would bring us coffee. We accordingly dispensed with breakfast, but I had to find out some way of feeding her. I thought I had plenty of time before me, but I was wrong.
At ten o'clock I saw Strasoldo and his friend Pittoni coming into the inn. They spoke to the landlord, and seemed to be searching the whole place, passing from one room to another.
I laughed, and told Leuzica that they were looking for her, and that our turn would doubtless come before long.
"Remember your promise," said she.
"You may be sure of that."
The tone in which this remark was delivered comforted her, and she exclaimed,--
"Well; well, let them come; they will get nothing by it."
I heard footsteps approaching, and went out, closing the door behind me, and begging them to excuse my not asking them in, as there was a contraband commodity in my room.
"Only tell me that it is not my maid," said Strasoldo, in a pitiable voice. "We are sure she is here, as the sentinel at the gate saw her come in at ten o'clock."
"You are right, the fair Leuzica is at this moment in my room. I have given her my word of honour that no violence shall be used, and you may be sure I shall keep my word."
"I shall certainly not attempt any violence, but I am sure she would come of her own free will if I could speak to her."
"I will ask her if she wishes to see you. Wait a moment."
Leuzica had been listening to our conversation, and when I opened the door she told me that I could let them in.
As soon as Strasoldo appeared she asked him proudly if she was under any obligations to him, if she had stolen anything from him, and if she was not perfectly free to leave him when she liked.
The poor count replied mildly that on the contrary it was he who owed her a year's wages and had her box in his possession, but that she should not have left him without giving any reason.
"The only reason is that I don't want to go to Vienna," she replied. "I told you so a week ago. If you are an honest man you will leave me my trunk, and as to my wages you can send them to me at my aunt's at Laibach if you haven't got any money now."
I pitied Strasoldo from the bottom of my heart; he prayed and entreated, and finally wept like a child. However, Pittoni roused my choler by saying that I ought to drive the slut out of my room.
"You are not the man to tell me what I ought and what I ought not to do," I replied, "and after I have received her in my apartments you ought to moderate your expressions."
Seeing that I stood on my dignity he laughed, and asked me if I had fallen in love with her in so short a time.
Strasoldo here broke in by saying he was sure she had not slept with me.
"That's where you are mistaken," said she, "for there's only one bed, and I did not sleep on the floor."
They found prayers and reproaches alike useless and left us at noon. Leuzica was profuse in her expressions of gratitude to me.