We returned in a fine sleigh drawn by two horses, belonging to M. Pels, and he kept me to supper. This worthy man, whose face bore witness to his entire honesty, told me that as I was now the friend of M. d'O---- and himself, I should have nothing whatever to do with the Jews, but should address myself to them alone. I was pleased with this proposal, which made a good many of my difficulties disappear, and the reader will see the results of this course.
Next day snow fell in large flakes, and I went early to M. d'O----'s, where I found Esther in the highest of spirits. She gave me a warm welcome, and began to rally me on having spent the whole night with Madame Trenti.
I might possibly have shewn some slight confusion, but her father said an honest man had nothing to be ashamed of in admiring talent. Then, turning to me, he said,
"Tell me, M. Casanova, who this woman is?"
"She is a Venetian whose husband died recently; I knew her when I was a lad, and it was six years since I had seen her last."
"You were agreeably surprised, then, to see your daughter?" said Esther.
"Why do you think the child is my daughter? Madame Trenti was married then."
"The likeness is really too strong. And how about your falling asleep yesterday when you were supping with M. Pels?"
"It was no wonder that I went asleep, as I had not closed an eye the night before."
"I am envious of anyone who possesses the secret of getting a good sleep, for I have always to wait long hours before sleep comes to me, and when I awake, instead of being refreshed, I feel heavy and languid from fatigue."
"Try passing the night in listening to one in whom you take an interest, telling the story of her life, and I promise you that you will sleep well the night after."
"There is no such person for me."
"No, because you have as yet only seen fourteen summers; but afterwards there will be someone."
"Maybe, but what I want just now is books, and the help of someone who will guide my reading."
"That would be an easy matter for anyone who knew your tastes."
"I like history and travels, but for a book to please me it must be all true, as I lay it down at the slightest suspicion of its veracity."
"Now I think I may venture to offer my services, and if you will accept them I believe I shall be able to give satisfaction."
"I accept your offer, and shall keep you to your word."
"You need not be afraid of my breaking it, and before I leave for the Hague I will prove that I am reliable."
She then began to rally me on the pleasure I should have at the Hague, where I should see Madame Trenti again. Her freedom, mirth, and extreme beauty set my blood on fire, and M. d'O---- laughed heartily at the war his charming daughter waged on me. At eleven o'clock we got into a well-appointed sleigh and we set out for his small house, where she told me I should find Mdlle. Casanova and her betrothed.
"Nevertheless," said I, "you will continue to be my only attraction."
She made no answer, but it was easy to perceive that my avowal had not displeased her.
When we had gone some distance we saw the lovers, who had come out, in spite of the snow, to meet us. We got down, and after taking off our furs we entered the house. I gazed at the young gentleman, who looked at me a moment in return and then whispered in Mdlle. Casanova's ear. She smiled and whispered something to Esther. Esther stepped up to her father and said a few words to him in a low voice, and everybody began to laugh at once. They all looked at me and I felt certain that I was somehow the point of the joke, but I put on an indifferent air.
"There may be a mistake," said M. d'O---- ; "at any rate we should ascertain the truth of the matter."
"M. Casanova, had you any adventures on your journey from the Hague to Amsterdam?"
At this I looked again at the young gentleman, and I guessed what they were talking about.
"No adventure to speak of," I answered, "except a meeting with a fine fellow who desired to see my carriage turn upside down into the ditch, and who I think is present now."
At these words the laughter broke out afresh, and the gentleman and I embraced each other; but after he had given the true account of the adventure his mistress pretended to be angry, and told him that he ought to have fought.