After dinner Calsabigi took me on one side, and told me that M. du Vernai had commissioned him to warn me that I could not dispose of tickets on account.
"Does M. du Vernai take me for a fool or a knave? As I am neither, I shall complain to M. de Boulogne."
"You will be wrong; he merely wanted to warn you and not offend you."
"You offend me very much yourself, sir, in talking to me in that fashion; and you may make up your mind that no one shall talk to me thus a second time."
Calsabigi did all in his power to quiet me down, and at last persuaded me to go with him to M. du Vernai's. The worthy old gentleman seeing the rage I was in apologized to me for what he had said, and told me that a certain Abbe de la Coste had informed him that I did so. At this I was highly indignant, and I told him what had happened that morning, which let M. du Vernai know what kind of a man the abbe was. I never saw him again, either because he got wind of my discovery, or because a happy chance kept him out of my way; but I heard, three years after, that he had been condemned to the hulks for selling tickets of a Trevaux lottery which was non- existent, and in the hulks he died.
Next day Tiretta came in, and said he had only just returned.
"You have been sleeping out, have you, master profligate?"
"Yes, I was so charmed with the she-pope that I kept her company all the night."
"You were not afraid of being in the way?"
"On the contrary, I think she was thoroughly satisfied with my conversation."
"As far as I can see, you had to bring into play all your powers of eloquence."
"She is so well pleased with my fluency that she has begged me to accept a room in her house, and to allow her to introduce me as a cousin to M. le Noir, who, I suppose, is her lover."
"You will be a trio, then; and how do you think you will get on together?"
"That's her business. She says this gentleman will give me a good situation in the Inland Revenue."
"Have you accepted her offer?"
"I did not refuse it, but I told her that I could do nothing without your advice. She entreated me to get you to come to dinner with her on Sunday."
"I shall be happy to go."
I went with my friend, and as soon as the harebrain saw us she fell on Tiretta's neck, calling him dear Count "Six-times"--a name which stuck to him all the time he was at Paris.
"What has gained my friend so fine a title, madam?"
"His erotic achievements. He is lord of an honour of which little is known in France, and I am desirous of being the lady."
"I commend you for so noble an ambition."
After telling me of his feats with a freedom which chewed her exemption from vulgar prejudice, she informed me that she wished her cousin to live in the same house, and had already obtained M. le Noir's permission, which was given freely.
"M. le Noir," added the fair Lambertini, "will drop in after. dinner, and I am dying to introduce Count 'Sixtimes' to him."
After dinner she kept on speaking of the mighty deeds of my countryman, and began to stir him up, while he, no doubt, pleased to have a witness to his exploits, reduced her to silence. I confess that I witnessed the scene without excitement, but as I could not help seeing the athletic person of the count, I concluded that he might fare well everywhere with the ladies.
About three o'clock two elderly women arrived, to whom the Lambertini eagerly introduced Count "Six-times." In great astonishment they enquired the origin of his title, and the heroine of the story having whispered it to them, my friend became an object of interest.
"I can't believe it," said one of these ladies, ogling the count, while his face seemed to say,
"Would you like to try?"
Shortly after, a coach stopped at the door, and a fat woman of middle-aged appearance and a very pretty girl were ushered in; after them came a pale man in a black suit and a long wig. After greeting them in a manner which implied intimacy, the Pope's niece introduced her cousin Count "Six-strokes".