I passed my hands over two spheres whose perfect shape and whiteness would have restored Lazarus to life. I took care not to offend her modesty, but in the coolest manner possible asked her how she felt a little lower down, and as I put the question I softly extended my hand. However, she kept it back gently, telling me not to go any further as she still felt a little uneasy. I begged her pardon, and said I hoped I should find everything quite right by the next day.
"The beauty of your bosom," I added, "makes me take a still greater interest in you."
So saying I let my mouth meet hers, and I felt a kiss escape as if involuntarily from her lips. It ran like fire through my veins, my brain began to whirl, and I saw that unless I took to a speedy flight I should lose all her confidence. I therefore left her, calling her "dear daughter" as I bade her farewell.
It poured with rain, and I got soaked through before I reached my lodging. This was a bath well fitted to diminish the ardour of my passion, but it made me very late in rising the next morning.
I took out the two portraits of M---- M----, one in a nun's dress, and the other nude, as Venus. I felt sure they would be of service to me with the nun.
I did not find the fair Zeroli in her room, so I went to the fountain, where she reproached me with a tenderness I assessed at its proper value, and our quarrel was made up in the course of our walk. When dinner was over the Marquis the Prie made a bank, but as he only put down a hundred louis I guessed that he wanted to win a lot and lose a little. I put down also a hundred louis, and he said that it would be better sport if I did not stake my money on one card only. I replied that I would stake a louis on each of the thirteen.
"You will lose."
"We will see. Here is my hand on the table, and I stake a louis on each of the thirteen cards."
According to the laws of probability, I should certainly have lost, but fate decided otherwise and I won eighty louis. At eight o'clock I bowed to the company, and I went as usual to the place where my new love dwelt. I found the invalid ravishing. She said she had had a little fever, which the country-woman pronounced to be milk fever, and that she would be quite well and ready to get up by the next day. As I stretched out my hand to lift the coverlet; she seized it and covered it with kisses, telling me that she felt as if she must give me that mark of her filial affection. She was twenty-one, and I was thirty-five. A nice daughter for a man like me! My feelings for her were not at all of a fatherly character. Nevertheless, I told her that her confidence in me, as shewn by her seeing me in bed, increased my affection for her, and that I should be grieved if I found her dressed in her nun's clothes next day.
"Then I will stop in bed," said she; "and indeed I shall be very glad to do so, as I experience great discomfort from the heat of my woollen habit; but I think I should please you more if I were decently dressed; however, as you like it better, I will stop in bed."
The country-woman came in at that moment, and gave her the abbess' letter which her nephew had just brought from Chamberi. She read it and gave it to me. The abbess told her that she would send two lay- sisters to bring her back to the convent, and that as she had recovered her health she could come on-foot, and thus save money which could be spent in better ways. She added that as the bishop was away, and she was unable to send the lay-sisters without his permission, they could not start for a week or ten days. She ordered her, under pain of the major excommunication, never to leave her room, never to speak to any man, not even to the master of the house, and to have nothing to do with anybody except with the woman. She ended by saying that she was going to have a mass said for the repose of the departed sister's soul.
"I am obliged to you for having shewn me this letter, but be pleased to tell me if I may visit you for the next week or ten days, without doing hurt to your conscience; for I must tell you I am a man.