I was in an ecstasy to see the face of my M---- M----light up with delight and astonishment.
"You must be very rich," said she.
"Don't think it, dearest, but I love you passionately; and not being able to give you anything by reason of your unfortunate vow of poverty, I lavish what I possess on this worthy woman, to induce her to spare nothing for your comfort while you are here. Perhaps, too-- though it is not a definite thought--I hope that it will make you love me more."
"How can I love you more than I do? The only thing that makes me unhappy is the idea of returning to the convent."
"But you told me yesterday that it was exactly that idea which made you happy."
"I have changed my mind since yesterday. I passed a cruel night, for as soon as I fell asleep I was in your arms, and I awoke again and again on the point of consummating the greatest of crimes."
"You did not go through such a struggle before committing the same crime with a man you did--not love."
"It is exactly because I did not love him that my sin struck me as venial. Do you understand what I mean?"
"It's a piece of superstitious metaphysics, but I understand you perfectly."
"You have made me happy, and I feel very grateful to you, and I feel glad and certain of conquering when I reflect that your situation is different to mine."
"I will not dispute it with you, although I am sorry for what you say."
"Because you think yourself in duty bound to refuse caresses which would not hurt you, and which would give me new life and happiness."
"I have thought it over."
"Are you weeping?"
"Yes, and what is more, these tears are dear to me."
"I do not understand."
"I have two favours to ask of you."
"Say on, and be sure you will obtain what you ask."
End of My Adventure with the Nun from Chamberi--My Flight from Aix
"Yesterday," said the charming nun, "you left in my hands the two portraits of my Venetian sister. I want you to give them to me."
"They are yours."
"I thank you. My second favour is, that you will be good enough to take my portrait in exchange; you shall have it to-morrow."
"I shall be delighted. It will be the most precious of all my jewels, but I wonder how you can ask me to take it as a favour, whereas you are doing me a favour I should never have dared to demand. How shall I make myself worthy of giving you my portrait?"
"Ah, dearest! it would be a dear possession, but God preserve me from having it at the convent!"
"I will get myself painted under the costume of St. Louis of Gonzaga, or St. Anthony of Padua."
"I shall be damned eternally."
"We will say no more about it."
She had on a dimity corset, trimmed with red ribbon, and a cambric chemise. I was surprised, but politeness did not allow me to ask where they came from, so I contented myself with staring at them. She guessed my thoughts, and said, smilingly, that it was a present from the countrywoman.
"Seeing her fortune made, the worthy woman tries every possible way to convince her benefactor that she is grateful to him. Look at the bed; she was certainly thinking of you, and look at these fine materials. I confess I enjoy their softness extremely. I shall sleep better to-night if I am not plagued by those seductive dreams which tormented me last night."
"Do you think that the bed and the fine linen will deliver you from the dreams you fear?"
"No doubt they will have a contrary effect, for softness irritates the passions. I shall leave everything with the good woman. I do not know what they would say if I took them with me to the convent."
"You are not so comfortable there?"
"Oh, no! A straw bed, a couple of blankets, and sometimes, as a great favour, a thin mattress and two coarse sheets. But you seem sad; you were so happy yesterday."
"How can I be happy when I can no longer toy with you without making you unhappy."
"You should have said without giving me the greatest delight."
"Then will you consent to receive pleasure in return for that which you give me?"
"But yours is innocent and mine is not."
"What would you do, then, if mine and yours were the same?"
"You might have made me wretched yesterday, for I could not have refused you anything."
"Why wretched? You would have had none of those dreams, but would have enjoyed a quiet night.