There was no longer any mystery, so I boldly ordered dinner for two, and promised that she should remain with me till the count had left Trieste.
At three o'clock the Venetian consul came, saying that Count Strasoldo had begged him to use his good offices with me to persuade me to deliver up the fair Leuzica.
"You must speak to the girl herself," I replied; "she came here and stays here of her own free will."
When the worthy man had heard the girl's story he went away, saying that we had the right on our side.
In the evening a porter brought her trunk, and at this she seemed touched but not repentant.
Leuzica supped with me and again shared my couch. The count left Trieste at day-break.
As soon as I was sure that he was gone, I took a carriage and escorted the fair Leuzica two stages on her way to Laibach. We dined together, and I left her in the care of a friend of hers.
Everybody said I had acted properly, and even Pittoni confessed that in my place he would have done the same.
Poor Strasoldo came to a bad end. He got into debt, committed peculation, and had to escape into Turkey and embrace Islam to avoid the penalty of death.
About this time the Venetian general, Palmanova, accompanied by the procurator Erizzo, came to Trieste to visit the governor, Count Wagensberg. In the afternoon the count presented me to the patricians who seemed astonished to see me at Trieste.
The procurator asked me if I amused myself as well as I had done at Paris sixteen years ago, and I told him that sixteen years more, and a hundred thousand francs less, forced me to live in a different fashion. While we were talking, the consul came in to announce that the felucca was ready. Madame de Lantieri as well as her father pressed me to join the party.
I gave a bow, which might mean either no or yes, and asked the consul what the party was. He told me that they were going to see a Venetian man-of-war at anchor in the harbor; his excellence there being the captain I immediately turned to the countess and smilingly professed my regret that I was unable to set foot on Venetian soil.
Everybody exclaimed at me,--
"You have nothing to fear. You are with honest people. Your suspicion is quite offensive."
"That is all very fine, ladies and gentlemen, and I will come with all my heart, if your excellences will assure me that my joining this little party will not be known to the State Inquisitors possibly by to-morrow."
This was enough. Everybody looked at me in silence, and no objections could be found to my argument.
The captain of the vessel, who did not know me, spoke a few whispered words to the others, and then they left.
The next day the consul told me that the captain had praised my prudence in declining to go on board, as if anyone had chanced to tell him my name and my case whilst I was on his ship, it would have been his duty to detain me.
When I told the governor of this remark he replied gravely that he should not have allowed the ship to leave the harbour.
I saw the procurator Erizzo the same evening, and he congratulated me on my discretion, telling me he would take care to let the Tribunal know how I respected its decisions.
About this time I had the pleasure of seeing a beautiful Venetian, who visited Trieste with several of her admirers. She was of the noble family of Bon, and had married Count Romili de Bergamo, who left her free to do whatever she liked. She drew behind her triumphal chariot an old general, Count Bourghausen, a famous rake who had deserted Mars for the past ten years in order to devote his remaining days to the service of Venus. He was a delightful man, and we became friends. Ten years later he was of service to me, as my readers will find in the next volume, which may perhaps be the last.
Some Adventures at Trieste--I Am of Service to the Venetian Government-- My Expedition to Gorice and My Return to Trieste--I Find Irene as an Actress and Expert Gamester
Some of the ladies of Trieste thought they would like to act a French play, and I was made stage manager.