"I almost think you are right," said I; "and it is certain that I have made many happy, and have never brought misfortune to any girl."
"God will reward you, my dear friend."
"Possibly I am not worth His taking the trouble!"
Though the wit and beauty of Marcoline had charmed me, her appetite charmed me still more; the reader knows that I have always liked women who eat heartily. And in Marseilles they make an excellent dish of a common fowl, which is often so insipid.
Those who like oil will get on capitally in Provence, for it is used in everything, and it must be confessed that if used in moderation it makes an excellent relish.
Marcoline was charming in bed. I had not enjoyed the Venetian vices for nearly eight years, and Marcoline was a beauty before whom Praxiteles would have bent the knee. I laughed at my brother for having let such a treasure slip out of his hands, though I quite forgave him for falling in love with her. I myself could not take her about, and as I wanted her to be amused I begged my kind old landlord to send her to the play every day, and to prepare a good supper every evening. I got her some rich dresses that she might cut a good figure, and this attention redoubled her affection for me.
The next day, which was the second occasion on which I had visited her, she told me that she had enjoyed the play though she could not understand the dialogues; and the day after she astonished me by saying that my brother had intruded himself into her box, and had said so many impertinent things that if she had been at Venice she would have boxed his ears.
"I am afraid," she added, "that the rascal has followed me here, and will be annoying me."
"Don't be afraid," I answered, "I will see what I can do."
When I got to the hotel I entered the abbe's room, and by Possano's bed I saw an individual collecting lint and various surgical instruments.
"What's all this? Are you ill?"
"Yes, I have got something which will teach me to be wiser for the future."
"It's rather late for this kind of thing at sixty."
"Better late than never."
"You are an old fool. You stink of mercury."
"I shall not leave my room."
"This will harm you with the marchioness, who believes you to be the greatest of adepts, and consequently above such weaknesses."
"Damn the marchioness! Let me be."
The rascal had never talked in this style before. I thought it best to conceal my anger, and went up to my brother who was in a corner of the room.
"What do you mean by pestering Marcoline at the theatre yesterday?"
"I went to remind her of her duty, and to warn her that I would not be her complaisant lover."
"You have insulted me and her too, fool that you are! You owe all to Marcoline, for if it had not been for her, I should never have given you a second glance; and yet you behave in this disgraceful manner."
"I have ruined myself for her sake, and I can never shew my face in Venice again. What right have you to take her from me?"
"The right of love, blockhead, and the right of luck, and the right of the strongest! How is it that she is happy with me, and does not wish to leave me?"
"You have dazzled her."
"Another reason is that with you she was dying of misery and hunger."
"Yes, but the end of it will be that you will abandon her as you have done with many others, whereas I should have married her."
"Married her! You renegade, you seem to forget that you are a priest. I do not propose to part with her, but if I do I will send her away rich."
"Well, well, do as you please; but still I have the right to speak to her whenever I like."
"I have forbidden you to do so, and you may trust me when I tell you that you have spoken to her for the last time."
So saying I went out and called on an advocate. I asked him if I could have a foreign abbe, who was indebted to me, arrested, although I had no proof of the debt.
"You can do so, as he is a foreigner, but you will have to pay caution-money. You can have him put under arrest at his inn, and you can make him pay unless he is able to prove that he owes you nothing. Is the sum a large one?"
"You must come with me before the magistrate and deposit twelve louis, and from that moment you will be able to have him arrested. Where is he staying?"
"In the same hotel as I am, but I do not wish to have him arrested there, so I will get him to the 'Ste.