In the evening I found a good supper awaiting me, a large brazier on the hearth, and a warm coverlet on the bed. The mother shewed me all the things her daughter had bought, and complained that she had not got any clothes for her brother. I made her happy by giving her a few louis.
When I went to bed I did not find my mistress in any amorous transports, but in a wanton and merry mood. She made me laugh, and as she let me do as I liked I was satisfied. I gave her a watch when I left her, and promised to sup with her on the following night. She was to have danced the pas de deux, and I went to see her do it, but to my astonishment she only danced with the other girls.
When I went to supper I found her in despair. She wept and said that I must avenge her on the Jew, who had excused himself by putting the fault on somebody else, but that he was a liar. I promised everything to quiet her, and after spending several hours in her company I returned home, determined to give the Jew a bad quarter of an hour. Next morning I sent Costa to ask him to call on me, but the rascal sent back word that he was not coming, and if the Corticelli did not like his theatre she might try another.
I was indignant, but I knew that I must dissemble, so I only laughed. Nevertheless, I had pronounced his doom, for an Italian never forgets to avenge himself on his enemy; he knows it is the pleasure of the gods.
As soon as Costa had left the room, I called Le Duc and told him the story, saying that if I did not take vengeance I should be dishonoured, and that it was only he who could procure the scoundrel a good thrashing for daring to insult me.
"But you know, Le Duc, the affair must be kept secret."
"I only want twenty-four hours to give you an answer."
I knew what he meant, and I was satisfied.
Next morning Le Duc told me he had spent the previous day in learning the Jew's abode and habits, without asking anybody any questions.
"To-day I will not let him go out of my sight. I shall find out at what hour he returns home, and to-morrow you shall know the results."
"Be discreet," said I, "and don't let anybody into your plans."
Next day, he told me that if the Jew came home at the same time and by the same way as before, he would have a thrashing before he got to bed.
"Whom have you chosen for this expedition?"
"Myself. These affairs ought to be kept secret, and a secret oughtn't to be known to more than two people. I am sure that everything will turn out well, but when you are satisfied that the ass's hide has been well tanned, will there be anything to be picked up?"
"That will do nicely. When I have done the trick I shall put on my great coat again and return by the back door. If necessary Costa himself will be able to swear that I did not leave the house, and that therefore I cannot have committed the assault. However, I shall put my pistols in my pocket in case of accidents, and if anybody tries to arrest me I shall know how to defend myself."
Next morning he came coolly into my room while Costa was putting on my dressing-gown, and when we were alone he said,--
"The thing's done. Instead of the Jew's running away when he received the first blow he threw himself on to the ground. Then I tanned his skin for him nicely, but on hearing some people coming up I ran off. I don't know whether I did for him, but I gave him two sturdy blows on the head. I should be sorry if he were killed, as then he could not see about the dance."
This jest did not arouse my mirth; the matter promised to be too serious.
Therese had asked me to dine with the Abbe Gama and M. Sassi, a worthy man, if one may prostitute the name of man to describe a being whom cruelty has separated from the rest of humanity; he was the first castrato of the opera. Of course the Jew's mishap was discussed.
"I am sorry for him," said I, "though he is a rascally fellow."
"I am not at all sorry for him myself," said Sassi, "he's a knave."
"I daresay that everybody will be putting down his wooden baptism to my account."
"No," said the abbe, "people say that M.