I did so, and he kept his word. He was well enough pleased when he touched the two sequins with which I rewarded him.
I put up at the Ville de Paris, in the Piazza di Spagna. It is the best inn in the town. All the world, I found, was drowned in sleep, but when they let me in they asked me to wait on the ground floor while a fire was lighted in my room. All the seats were covered with dresses, petticoats, and chemises, and I heard a small feminine voice begging me to sit on her bed. I approached and saw a laughing mouth, and two black eyes shining like carbuncles.
"What splendid eyes!" said I, "let me kiss them."
By way of reply she hid her head under the coverlet, and I slid a hasty hand under the sheets; but finding her quite naked, I drew it back and begged pardon. She put out her head again, and I thought I read gratitude for my moderation in her eyes.
"Who are you, my angel?"
"I am Therese, the inn-keeper's daughter, and this is my sister." There was another girl beside her, whom I had not seen, as her head was under the bolster.
"How old are you?"
"I hope I shall see you in my room to-morrow morning."
"Have you any ladies with you?"
"That's a pity, as we never go to the gentlemen's rooms."
"Lower the coverlet a little; I can't hear what you say."
"It's too cold."
"Dear Therese, your eyes make me feel as if I were in flames."
She put back her head at this, and I grew daring, and after sundry experiments I was more than ever charmed with her. I caressed her in a somewhat lively manner, and drew back my hand, again apologizing for my daring, and when she let me see her face I thought I saw delight rather than anger in her eyes and on her cheeks, and I felt hopeful with regard to her. I was just going to begin again, for I felt on fire; when a handsome chambermaid came to tell me that my room was ready and my fire lighted.
"Farewell till to-morrow," said I to Therese, but she only answered by turning on her side to go to sleep.
I went to bed after ordering dinner for one o'clock, and I slept till noon, dreaming of Therese. When I woke up, Costa told me that he had found out where my brother lived, and had left a note at the house. This was my brother Jean, then about thirty, and a pupil of the famous Raphael Mengs. This painter was then deprived of his pension on account of a war which obliged the King of Poland to live at Warsaw, as the Prussians occupied the whole electorate of Saxe. I had not seen my brother for ten years, and I kept our meeting as a holiday. I was sitting down to table when he came, and we embraced each other with transport. We spent an hour in telling, he his small adventures, and I my grand ones, and he told me that I should not stay at the hotel, which was too dear, but come and live at the Chevalier Mengs's house, which contained an empty room, where I could stay at a much cheaper rate.
"As to your table, there is a restaurant in the house where one can get a capital meal."
"Your advice is excellent," said I, "but I have not the courage to follow it, as I am in love with my landlord's daughter;" and I told him what had happened the night before.
"That's a mere nothing," said he, laughing; "you can cultivate her acquaintance without staying in the house."
I let myself be persuaded, and I promised to come to him the following day; and then we proceeded to take a walk about Rome.
I had many interesting memories of my last visit, and I wanted to renew my acquaintance with those who had interested me at that happy age when such impressions are so durable because they touch the heart rather than the mind; but I had to make up my mind to a good many disappointments, considering the space of time that had elapsed since I had been in Rome.
I went to the Minerva to find Donna Cecilia; she was no more in this world. I found out where her daughter Angelica lived, and I went to see her, but she gave me a poor reception, and said that she really scarcely remembered me.