I found the poor rascal, as the doctor had said, incapable of motion. He had only the use of his tongue and his eyes.
"You are in a pretty state," said I to him.
"I am very ill, sir, though otherwise I feel quite well."
"I expect so, but as it is you can't move, and I want to dine at Berne the day after to-morrow."
"Have me carried there, I shall get cured."
"You are right, I will have you carried in a litter."
"I shall look like a saint out for a walk."
I told one of the servants to look after him, and to see to all that was necessary for our departure. I had him taken to the "Falcon" by two horses who drew his litter.
Lebel came at noon and gave me the letter his master had written for M. de Murat. He brought his receipts and I paid everything without objection, as I found him an entirely honest man, and I had him to dinner with Madame Dubois and myself. I did not feel disposed to talk, and I was glad to see that they got on without me; they talked away admirably and amused me, for Lebel was by no means wanting in wit. He said he was very glad I had given him an opportunity of knowing the housekeeper, as he could not say he had known her before, having only seen her two or three times in passing through Lausanne. On rising from the table he asked my permission to write to her, and she, putting in her voice, called on him not to forget to do so.
Lebel was a good-natured man, of an honest appearance, and approaching his fiftieth year. Just as he was going, without asking my leave, he embraced her in the French fashion, and she seemed not to have the slightest objection.
She told me as soon as he was gone that this worthy man might be useful to her, and that she was delighted to enter into a correspondence with him.
The next day was spent in putting everything in order for our short journey, and Le Duc went off in his litter, intending to rest for the night at four leagues from Soleure. On the day following, after I had remembered the door-keeper, the cook, and the man-servant I was leaving behind, I set out in my carriage with the charming Dubois, and at eleven o'clock I arrived at the inn at Berne, where Le Duc had preceded me by two hours. In the first place, knowing the habits of Swiss innkeepers, I made an agreement with the landlord; and I then told the servant I had kept, who came from Berne, to take care of Le Duc, to put him under good medical superintendence, and to bid the doctor spare nothing to cure him completely.
I dined with my housekeeper in her room, for she had a separate lodging, and after sending my letter to M. de Muralt I went out for a walk.
Berne--La Mata Madame de la Saone--Sara--My Departure--Arrival at Bale
I reached an elevation from which I could look over a vast stretch of country watered by a little river, and noticing a path leading to a kind of stair, the fancy took me to follow it. I went down about a hundred steps, and found forty small closets which I concluded were bathing machines. While I was looking at the place an honest-looking fellow came up to me, and asked me if I would like a bath. I said I would, and he opened one of the closets, and before long I surrounded by a crowd of young girls.
"Sir," said the man, "they all aspire to the honour of attending you while you bathe; you have only to choose which it shall be. Half-a- crown will pay for the bath, the girl, and your coffee."
As if I were the Grand Turk, I examined the swarm of rustic beauties, and threw my handkerchief at the one I liked the best. We went into a closet, and shutting the door with the most serious air, without even looking at me, she undressed me, and put a cotton cap on my head, and as soon as she saw me in the water she undressed herself as coolly as possible, and without a word came into the bath. Then she rubbed me all over, except in a certain quarter, which I had covered with my hands. When I thought I had been manipulated sufficiently, I asked for coffee. She got out of the bath, opened the door, and after asking for what I wanted got in again without the slightest consciousness.