The waiter brought another bed and put it in my room, without receiving any orders to do so; this made me feel inclined to laugh.
The appetite with which the poor woman ate, despite her sorrow, reminded me of the matron of Ephesus. When supper was over I gave her her choice: she might either stay in Leipzig and fare as best she might, or I would reclaim her effects, take her with me to Dresden, and pay her a hundred gold ducats as soon as I could be certain that she would not give the money to the wretch who had reduced her to such an extremity. She did not ask much time for reflection. She said that it would be no good for her to stay in Leipzig, for she could do nothing for the wretched Schwerin or even keep herself for a day, for she had not got a farthing. She would have to beg or to become a prostitute, and she could not make up her mind to either course.
"Indeed," she concluded, "if you were to give me the hundred ducats this moment, and I used them to free Schwerin, I should be no better off than before; so I accept your generous offer thankfully."
I embraced her, promised to get back what her landlord had seized for rent, and then begged her to go to bed, as she was in need of rest.
"I see," she answered, "that either out of liking or for politeness' sake you will ask me for those favours which I should be only too happy to grant, but if I allowed that it would be a bad return indeed for your kindness. Look at my linen, and behold in what a state that unhappy wretch has left me!"
I saw that I ran the risk of being infected again, and thanked her for warning me of the danger I ran. In spite of her faults she was a woman of feeling, and had an excellent heart, and from these good qualitites of hers proceeded all her misfortunes.
The next morning I arranged for the redemption of her effects, which cost me sixty crowns of Saxony, and in the afternoon the poor woman saw herself once more in possession of her belongings, which she had thought never to see again. She seemed profoundly grateful, and deplored her state, which hindered her from proving the warmth of her feelings.
Such is the way of women: a grateful woman has only one way of shewing her gratitude, and that is to surrender herself without reserve. A man is different, but we are differently constituted; a man is made to give and a woman to receive.
The next day, a short while before we left, the broker I had employed in the redemption of the lady's effects, told me that the banker, whom Schwerin had cheated, was going to send an express to Berlin, to enquire whether the king would object to Count Schwerin's being proceeded against with the utmost rigour of the law.
"Alas!" cried his late mistress, "that's what he was most afraid of. It's all up with him. The King of Prussia will pay his debts, but he will end his days at Spandau. Why didn't they put him there before I ever knew him?"
She left Leipzig with me, and our appearance at Dresden caused a good deal of surprise. She was not a mere girl, like Maton; she had a good appearance, and a modest yet distinguished manner. I called her Countess Blasin, and introduced her to my mother and relations, and put her in my best room. I summoned the doctor who had treated me, and made him swear not to disclose the countess's state, but to tell everyone that he came to see me. I took her to the theatre, and it was my humour to have her regarded as a person of distinction. Good treatment soon restored her to health, and by the end of November she believed herself in a state to reward me for my kindness.
The wedding was a secret one, but none the less pleasant; and as if by way of wedding present the next day I heard that the King of Prussia had paid Schwerin's debts, and had had him brought to Berlin under a strong escort. If he is alive, the rascal is at Spandau to this day.
The time had come for me to pay her the hundred ducats. I told her frankly that I was obliged to go to Portugal, and that I could not make my appearance there in company with a pretty woman without failing in my project.