He would never believe that his dear little grandchild would be happy with a Roman Catholic"
As a matter of fact I was not at all displeased at what he said. I was certainly very fond of Sara, but the word "marriage" had a disagreeable sound to me. I answered that circumstances might change in time, and that in the meanwhile I should be quite content if he would allow me to be the friend of the family and to take upon myself all the responsibility of the journey. He promised everything, and assured me that he was delighted at his daughter having won my affection.
After this explanation I gave Sara as warm marks of my love as decency would allow in the presence of her father and mother, and I could see that all the girl thought of was love.
The fifth day I went up to her room, and finding her in bed all the fires of passion flamed up in my breast, for since my first visit to their house I had not been alone with her. I threw myself upon her, covering her with kisses, and she shewed herself affectionate but reserved. In vain I endeavoured to succeed; she opposed a gentle resistance to my efforts, and though she caressed me, she would not let me attain my end.
"Why, divine Sara," said I, "do you oppose my loving ecstasy?"
"Dearest, I entreat of you not to ask for any more than I am willing to give."
"Then you no longer love me?"
"Cruel man, I adore you!"
"Then why do you treat me to a refusal, after having once surrendered unreservedly?"
"I have given myself to you, and we have both been happy, and I think that should be enough for us."
"There must be some reason for this change. If you love me, dearest Sara, this renunciation must be hard for you to bear."
"I confess it, but nevertheless I feel it is my duty. I have made up my mind to subdue my passion from no weak motive, but from a sense of what I owe to myself. I am under obligations to you, and if I were to repay the debt I have contracted with my body I should be degraded in my own eyes. When we enjoyed each other before only love was between us--there was no question of debit and credit. My heart is now the thrall of what I owe you, and to these debts it will not give what it gave so readily to love."
"This is a strange philosophy, Sara; believe me it is fallacious, and the enemy of your happiness as well as mine. These sophisms lead you astray and wound me to the heart. Give me some credit for delicacy of feeling, and believe me you owe me nothing."
"You must confess that if you had not loved me you would have done nothing for my father."
"Certainly I will confess nothing of the kind; I would readily do as much, and maybe more, out of regard for your worthy mother. It is quite possible, indeed, that in doing this small service for your father I had no thoughts of you at all."
"It might be so; but I do not believe it was so. Forgive me, dearest, but I cannot make up my mind to pay my debts in the way you wish."
"It seems to me that if you are grateful to me your love ought to be still more ardent."
"It cannot be more ardent than it is already."
"Do you know how grievously you make me suffer?"
"Alas! I suffer too; but do not reproach me; let us love each other still."
This dialogue is not the hundredth part of what actually passed between us till dinner-time. The mother came in, and finding me seated at the foot of the daughter's bed, laughed, and asked me why I kept her in bed. I answered with perfect coolness that we had been so interested in our conversation that we had not noticed the flight of time.
I went to dress, and as I thought over the extraordinary change which had taken place in Sara I resolved that it should not last for long. We dined together gaily, and Sara and I behaved in all respects like two lovers. In the evening I took them to the Italian Opera, coming home to an excellent supper.
The next morning I passed in the city, having accounts to settle with my bankers. I got some letters of exchange on Geneva, and said farewell to the worthy Mr.