"On the contrary, he has guessed my tastes. Don't you think everything was very good?"
"I don't deny it, but . . . "
"Don't be afraid; I love spending my money."
"I beg your pardon, I only want you to be pleased."
We had exquisite wines, and at dessert some ratafia superior to the Turkish 'visnat' I had tasted seventeen years before at Yussuf Ali's. When my landlord came up at the end of supper, I told him that he ought to be Louis XV.'s head cook.
"Go on as you have begun, and do better if you can; but let me have your bill every morning."
"You are quite right; with such an arrangement one can tell how one is getting on."
"I should like you always to give me ices, and you must let me have two more lights. But, unless I am mistaken, those are candles that I see. I am a Venetian, and accustomed to wax lights."
"That is your servant's fault, sir."
"How is that?"
"Because, after eating a good supper, he went to bed, saying he was ill. Thus I heard nothing as to how you liked things done."
"Very good, you shall learn from my own lips."
"He asked my wife to make chocolate for you tomorrow morning; he gave her the chocolate, I will make it myself."
When he had left the room M. de Valenglard said, in a manner that was at the same time pleased and surprised, that Madame d'Urfe had been apparently joking in telling him to spare me all expense.
"It's her goodness of heart. I am obliged to her all the same. She is an excellent woman."
We stayed at table till eleven o'clock, discussing in numerable pleasant topics, and animating our talk with that choice liqueur made at Grenoble, of which we drank a bottle. It is composed of the juice of cherries, brandy, sugar, and cinnamon, and cannot be surpassed, I am sure, by the nectar of Olympus.
I sent home the baron in my carriage, after thanking him for his services, and begging him to be my companion early and late while I stayed at Grenoble--a re quest which he granted excepting for those days on which he was on duty. At supper I had given him my bill of exchange on Zappata, which I endorsed with the name de Seingalt, which Madame d'Urfe had given me. He discounted it for me next day. A banker brought me four hundred louis and I had thirteen hundred in my cash-box. I always had a dread of penuriousness, and I delighted myself at the thought that M. de Valenglard would write and tell Madame d'Urfe, who was always preaching economy to me, what he had seen. I escorted my guest to the carriage, and I was agreeably surprised when I got back to find the doorkeeper's two charming daughters.
Le Duc had not waited for me to tell him to find some pretext for not serving me. He knew my tastes, and that when there were pretty girls in a house, the less I saw of him the better I was pleased.
The frank eagerness of the two girls to wait on me, their utter freedom from suspicion or coquetry, made me determine that I would shew myself deserving of their trust. They took off my shoes and stockings, did my hair and put on my night-gown with perfect propriety on both sides. When I was in bed I wished them a goodnight, and told them to shut the door and bring me my chocolate at eight o'clock next morning.
I could not help confessing that I was perfectly happy as I reflected over my present condition. I enjoyed perfect health, I was in the prime of life, I had no calls on me, I was thoroughly independent, I had a rich store of experience, plenty of money, plenty of luck, and I was a favourite with women. The pains and troubles I had gone through had been followed by so many days of happiness that I felt disposed to bless my destiny. Full of these agreeable thoughts I fell asleep, and all the night my dreams were of happiness and of the pretty brunette who had played with me at the concert.
I woke with thoughts of her, and feeling sure that we should become acquainted I felt curious to know what success I should have with her. She was discreet and poor; and as I was discreet in my own way she ought not to despise my friendship.