This was a warm occupation for me, and I am afraid my hand was indiscreet. Nevertheless, I thought I detected a fixed design under all this seeming complaisance, and I was on my guard.
Her father came up just as we were getting on horseback.
"If you will buy the phaeton and horses," said he, "I will abate twenty sequins."
"All that depends on your daughter," said I.
We set off at a walk, and Leah told me that she had been imprudent enough to confess to her father that she could make me buy the carriage, and that if I did not wish to embroil her with him I would be kind enough to purchase it.
"Strike the bargain," said she, "and you can give it me when you are sure of my love."
"My dear Leah, I am your humble servant, but you know on what condition."
"I promise to drive out with you whenever you please, without getting out of the carriage, but I know you would not care for that. No, your affection was only a temporary caprice."
"To convince you of the contrary I will buy the phaeton and put it in a coach-house. I will see that the horses are taken-care of, though I shall not use them. But if you do not make me happy in the course of a week I shall re-sell the whole."
"Come to us to-morrow."
"I will do so, but I trust have some pledge of your affection this morning."
"This morning? It's impossible."
"Excuse me; I will go upstairs with you, and you can shew me more than one kindness while you are undressing."
We came back, and I was astonished to hear her telling her father that the phaeton was mine, and all he had to do was to put in the horses. The Jew grinned, and we all went upstairs, and Leah coolly said,--
"Count out the money."
"I have not any money about me, but I will write you a cheque, if you like."
"Here is paper."
I wrote a cheque on Zappata for three hundred sequins, payable at sight. The Jew went off to get the money, and Leah remained alone with me.
"You have trusted me," she said, "and have thus shewn yourself worthy of my love."
"Then undress, quick!"
"No, my aunt is about the house; and as I cannot shut the door without exciting suspicion, she might come in; but I promise that you shall be content with me tomorrow. Nevertheless, I am going to undress, but you must go in this closet; you may come back when I have got my woman's clothes on again."
I agreed to this arrangement, and she shut me in. I examined the door, and discovered a small chink between the boards. I got on a stool, and saw Leah sitting on a sofa opposite to me engaged in undressing herself. She took off her shift and wiped her breasts and her feet with a towel, and just as she had taken off her breeches, and was as naked as my hand, one of her rings happened to slip off her finger, and rolled under the sofa. She got up, looked to right and left, and then stooped to search under the sofa, and to do this she had to kneel with her head down. When she got back to couch, the towel came again into requisition, and she wiped herself all over in such a manner that all her charms were revealed to my eager eyes. I felt sure that she knew I was a witness of all these operations, and she probably guessed what a fire the sight would kindle in my inflammable breast.
At last her toilette was finished, and she let me out. I clasped her in my arms, with the words, "I have seen everything." She pretended not to believe me, so I chewed her the chink, and was going to obtain my just dues, when the accursed Moses came in. He must have been blind or he would have seen the state his daughter had put me in; however, he thanked me, and gave me a receipt for the money, saying, "Everything in my poor house is at your service."
I bade them adieu, and I went away in an ill temper. I got into my phaeton, and drove home and told the coachman to find me a stable for the horses and a coach-house for the carriage.
I did not expect to see Leah again, and I felt enraged with her. She had pleased me only too much by her voluptuous attitudes, but she had set up an irritation wholly hostile to Love.