Yesterday, during the execution of the wretched Damien, he strongly abused the position in which he found himself behind me."
"I see; I understand what you mean; you need say no more. You have cause for anger, and he is to blame for acting in such a manner. But allow me to say that the case is not unexampled or even uncommon, and I think you might make some allowance for the strength of love, the close quarters, and above all for the youth and passion of the sinner. Moreover, the offence is one which may be expiated in a number of ways, provided the parties come to an agreement. Tiretta is young and a perfect gentleman, he is handsome and at bottom a good fellow; could not a marriage be arranged?"
I waited for a reply, but perceiving that the injured party kept silence (a circumstance which seemed to me a good omen) I went on.
"If marriage should not meet your views, we might try a lasting friendship, in which he could shew his repentance and prove himself deserving of pardon. Remember, madam, that Tiretta is only a man, and therefore subject to all the weaknesses of our poor human nature; and even you have your share of the blame."
"Involuntarily, madam, involuntarily; not you but your charms led him astray. Nevertheless, without this incentive the circumstance would never have taken place, and I think you should consider your beauty as a mitigation of the offence."
"You plead your cause well, sir, but I will do you justice and confess that all your remarks have been characterized by much Christian feeling. However, you are reasoning on false premises; you are ignorant of his real crime, yet how should you guess it?"
With this she burst into tears, leading me completely off the scent, and not knowing what to think.
"He can't have stolen her purse," said I to myself, "as I don't think him capable of such an action; and if I did I'd blow his brains out."
The afflicted lady soon dried her tears, and went on as follows:
"You are thinking of a deed which one might possibly succeed in reconciling with reason, and in making amends for; but the crime of which that brute has been guilty I dare scarcely imagine, as it is almost enough to drive me mad."
"Good heavens! you can't mean it? This is dreadful; do I hear you aright?"
"Yes. You are moved, I see, but such are the circumstances of the case. Pardon my tears, which flow from anger and the shame with which I am covered."
"Yes, and from outraged religion, too."
"Certainly, certainly. That is the chief source of my grief, and I should have mentioned it if I had not feared you were not so strongly attached to religion as myself."
"Nobody, God be praised! could be more strongly attached to religion than I, and nothing can ever unloose the ties which bind me to it:"
"You will be grieved, then, to hear that I am destined to suffer eternal punishment, for I must and will be avenged."
"Not so, madam, perish the thought, as I could not become your accomplice in such a design, and if you will not abandon it at least say nothing to me on the subject. I will promise you to tell him nothing, although as he lives with me the sacred laws of hospitality oblige me to give him due warning."
"I thought he lived with the Lambertini"
"He left her yesterday. The connection between them was a criminal one, and I have drawn him back from the brink of the precipice."
"You don't mean to say so!"
"Yes, upon my word of honour:"
"You astonish one. This is very edifying. I don't wish the young man's death, but you must confess he owes me some reparation."
"He does indeed. A charming Frenchwoman is not to be handled in the Italian manner without signal amends, but I can think of nothing at all commensurate with the offence. There is only one plan, which I will endeavour to carry out if you will agree to it."
"What is that?"
"I will put the guilty party in your power without his knowing what is to happen, and I will leave you alone, so that you can wreak all your wrath upon him, provided you will allow me to be, unknown to him, in the next room, as I shall regard myself as responsible for his safety."