My mother returned to her town apartments, which were opposite to mine, and the next day when I was calling on her I noticed the erker (a sort of grating in the Spanish fashion) which indicated my rooms in the hotel. I happened to look in that direction and I saw Maton at the window standing up and talking to M. de Bellegarde, who was at a neighbouring window. This window belonged to a room which adjoined my suite of rooms, but did not belong to it. This discovery amused me. I knew what I was about, and did not fear to be made a cuckold in spite of myself. I was sure I had not been observed, and I was not going to allow any trespassers. I was jealous, in fact; but the jealousy was of the mind, not the heart.
I came in to dinner in the highest spirits, and Maton was as gay as myself. I led the conversation up to Bellegarde, and said I believed him to be in love with her.
"Oh, he is like all officers with girls; but I don't think he is more in love with me than any other girl."
"Oh, but didn't he come to call on me this morning?"
"Certainly not; and if he had come the maid would have told him you were out."
"Did you not notice him walking up and down 'under the windows?"
This was enough for me; I knew they had laid a plot together. Maton was deceiving me, and I should be cheated in twenty-four hours unless I took care. At my age such treason should not have astonished me, but my vanity would not allow me to admit the fact.
I dissembled my feelings and caressed the traitress, and then leaving the house I went to the theatre where I played with some success and returned home while the second act was in progress; it was still daylight. The waiter was at the door, and I asked him whether there were any rooms besides those which I occupied on the first floor. "Yes, two rooms, both looking on the street."
"Tell the landlord that I will take them both."
"They were taken yesterday evening."
"By a Swiss officer, who is entertaining a party of friends to supper here this evening."
I said no more lest I should awaken suspicion; but I felt sure that Bellegarde could easily obtain access to my rooms from his. Indeed, there was a door leading to the room where Maton slept with her maid when I did not care to have her in my room. The door was bolted on her side, but as she was in the plot there was not much security in this.
I went upstairs softly, and finding Maton on the balcony, I said, after some indifferent conversation, that I should like to change rooms.
"You shall have my room," I said, "and I will have yours; I can read there, and see the people going by."
She thought it a very good idea, and added that it would serve us both if I would allow her to sit there when I was out.
This reply shewed me that Maton was an old hand, and that I had better give her up if I did not wish to be duped.
I changed the rooms, and we supped pleasantly together, laughing and talking, and in spite of all her craft Maton did not notice any change in me.
I remained alone in my new room, and soon heard the voices of Bellegarde and his merry companions. I went on to the balcony, but the curtains of Bellegarde's room were drawn, as if to assure me that there was no complot. However, I was not so easily deceived, and I found afterwards that Mercury had warned Jupiter that Amphytrion had changed his room.
Next day, a severe headache, a thing from which I seldom suffer, kept me to the house all day. I had myself let blood, and my worthy mother, who came to keep me company, dined with Maton. My mother had taken a weakness for the girl, and had often asked me to let her come and see her, but I had the good sense to refuse this request. The next day I was still far from well, and took medicine, and in the evening, to my horror, I found myself attacked by a fearful disease. This must be a present from Maton, for I had not known anyone else since leaving Leopol. I spent a troubled night, rage and indignation being my principal emotions; and next morning, coming upon Maton suddenly, I found everything in the most disgusting state.