I have been in London with my mother and aunts for the last four years."
"But where had I the pleasure of speaking to you?"
"In what part of Paris?"
"In the Bazaar. You were with a charming lady, and you gave me these buckles" (she shewed me them on her shoes), "and you also did me the honour to kiss me."
I recollected the circumstance, and the reader will remember that I was with Madame Baret, the fair stocking-seller.
"Now I remember you," said I; "but I do not recognize your aunt."
"This is the sister of the one you saw, but if you will take tea with us you will see her."
"Where do you live?"
"In Denmark Street, Soho."
The Charpillon--Dreadful Consequences of My Acquaintance With Her
The name Charpillon reminded me that I was the bearer of a letter for her, and drawing it from my pocket-book I gave it her, saying that the document ought to cement our acquaintance.
"What!" she exclaimed, "a letter from the dear ambassador Morosini. How delighted I am to have it! And you have actually been all these months in London without giving it me?"
"I confess I am to blame, but, as you see, the note has no address on it. I am grateful for the chance which has enabled me to discharge my commission to-day."
"Come and dine with us to-morrow."
"I cannot do so, as I am expecting Lord Pembroke to dinner."
"Will you be alone?"
"I expect so."
"I am glad to hear it; you will see my aunt and myself appearing on the scene."
"Here is my address; and I shall be delighted if you will come and see me."
She took the address, and I was surprised to see her smile as she read it.
"Then you are the Italian," she said, "who put up that notice that amused all the town?"
"They say the joke cost you dear."
"Quite the reverse; it resulted in the greatest happiness."
"But now that the beloved object has left you, I suppose you are unhappy?"
"I am; but there are sorrows so sweet that they are almost joys."
"Nobody knows who she was, but I suppose you do?"
"Do you make a mystery of it?"
"Surely, and I would rather die than reveal it."
"Ask my aunt if I may take some rooms in your house; but I am afraid my mother would not let me."
"Why do you want to lodge cheaply?"
"I don't want to lodge cheaply, but I should like to punish the audacious author of that notice."
"How would you punish me?"
"By making you fall in love with me, and then tormenting you. It would have amused me immensely."
"Then you think that you can inspire me with love, and at the same time form the dreadful plan of tyrannising over the victim of your charms. Such a project is monstrous, and unhappily for us poor men, you do not look a monster. Nevertheless, I am obliged to you for your frankness, and I shall be on my guard."
"Then you must take care never to see me, or else all your efforts will be in vain."
As the Charpillon had laughed merrily through the whole of this dialogue, I took it all as a jest, but I could not help admiring her manner, which seemed made for the subjugation of men. But though I knew it not, the day I made that woman's acquaintance was a luckless one for me, as my readers will see.
It was towards the end of the month of September, 1763, when I met the Charpillon, and from that day I began to die. If the lines of ascent and declination are equal, now, on the first day of November, 1797, I have about four more years of life to reckon on, which will pass by swiftly, according to the axiom 'Motus in fine velocior'.
The Charpillon, who was well known in London, and I believe is still alive, was one of those beauties in whom it is difficult to find any positive fault. Her hair was chestnut coloured, and astonishingly long and thick, her blue eyes were at once languorous and brilliant, her skin, faintly tinged with a rosy hue, was of a dazzling whiteness; she was tall for her age, and seemed likely to become as tall as Pauline. Her breast was perhaps a little small, but perfectly shaped, her hands were white and plump, her feet small, and her gait had something noble and gracious.