Why did he marry me? He must have known his impotence. It was a dreadful thing to do."
"Yes, but you must forgive him for it."
She had cause for complaint, for marriage without enjoyment is a thorn without roses. She was passionate, but her principles were stronger than her passions, or else she would have sought for what she wanted elsewhere. My impotent brother excused himself by saying that he loved her so well that he thought cohabitation with her would restore the missing faculty; he deceived himself and her at the same time. In time she died, and he married another woman with the same idea, but this time passion was stronger than virtue, and his new wife drove him away from Paris. I shall say more of him in twenty years time.
At six o'clock the next morning the abbe went off in the diligence, and I did not see him for six years. I spent the day with Madame d'Urfe, and I agreed, outwardly, that young d'Aranda should return to Paris as a postillion. I fixed our departure for the day after next.
The following day, after dining with Madame d'Urfe who continued to revel in the joys of her regeneration, I paid a visit to the Corticelli in her asylum. I found her sad and suffering, but content, and well pleased with the gentleness of the surgeon and his wife, who told me they would effect a radical cure. I gave her twelve louis, promising to send her twelve more as soon as I had received a letter from her written at Bologna. She promised she would write to me, but the poor unfortunate was never able to keep her word, for she succumbed to the treatment, as the old surgeon wrote to me, when I was at London. He asked what he should do with the twelve louis which she had left to one Madame Laura, who was perhaps known to me. I sent him her address, and the honest surgeon hastened to fulfil the last wishes of the deceased.
All the persons who helped me in my magical operations with Madame d'Urfe betrayed me, Marcoline excepted, and all save the fair Venetian died miserably. Later on the reader will hear more of Possano and Costa.
The day before I left for London I supped with Madame du Rumain, who told me that her voice was already beginning to return. She added a sage reflection which pleased me highly.
"I should think," she observed, "that the careful living prescribed by the cabala must have a good effect on my health."
"Most certainly," said I, "and if you continue to observe the rules you will keep both your health and your voice."
I knew that it is often necessary to deceive before one can instruct; the shadows must come before the dawn.
I took leave of my worthy Madame d'Urfe with an emotion which I had never experienced before; it must have been a warning that I should never see her again. I assured her that I would faithfully observe all my promises, and she replied that her happiness was complete, and that she knew she owed it all to me. In fine, I took d'Aranda and his top-boots, which he was continually admiring, to my inn, whence we started in the evening, as he had begged me to travel by night. He was ashamed to be seen in a carriage dressed as a courier.
When we reached Abbeville he asked me where his mother was.
"We will see about it after dinner."
"But you can find out in a moment whether she is here or not?"
"Yes, but there is no hurry."
"And what will you do if she is not here?"
"We will go on till we meet her on the way. In the meanwhile let us go and see the famous manufactory of M. Varobes before dinner."
"Go by yourself. I am tired, and I will sleep till you come back."
I spent two hours in going over the magnificent establishment, the owner himself shewing it me, and then I went back to dinner and called for my young gentleman.
"He started for Paris riding post," replied the innkeeper, who was also the post-master, "five minutes after you left. He said he was going after some dispatches you had left at Paris."
"If you don't get him back I will ruin you with law-suits; you had no business to let him have a horse without my orders."
"I will capture the little rascal, sir, before he has got to Amiens."
He called a smart-looking postillion, who laughed when he heard what was wanted.