I told her the whole story, freely acknowledging that I was in the wrong, and begging her to say nothing to her niece. Then heeding not her excuses I went out with my handkerchief before my face, and visited a house which the Duchess of Richmond had left the day before.

Half of the suite she had abandoned had been taken in advance by an Italian marquis; I took the other half, hired a servant, and had my effects transported there from my old lodgings. The tears and supplications of my landlady had no effect whatever upon me, I felt I could not bear the sight of Mercy any longer.

In the house into which I had moved I found an Englishman who said he would bring down the bruise in one hour, and make the discoloration of the flesh disappear in twenty-four. I let him do what he liked and he kept his word. He rubbed the place with spirits of wine and some drug which is unknown to me; but being ashamed to appear in public in the state I was in, I kept indoors for the rest of the day. At noon the distressed aunt brought me my trout, and said that Mercy was cut to the heart to have used me so, and that if I would come back I could do what I liked with her.

"You must feel," I replied, "that if I complied with your request the adventure would become public to the damage of my honour and your business, and your niece would not be able to pass for a devotee any longer."

I made some reflections on the blow she had given the officer, much to the aunt's surprise, for she could not think how I had heard of it; and I shewed her that, after having exposed me to her niece's brutality, her request was extremely out of place. I concluded by saying that I could believe her to be an accomplice in the fact without any great stretch of imagination. This made her burst into tears, and I had to apologize and to promise to continue forwarding her business by way of consolation, and so she left me in a calmer mood. Half an hour afterwards her husband came with twenty-five Louis I had lent him on a gold snuff-box set with diamonds, and proposed that I should lend two hundred Louis on a ring worth four hundred.

"It will be yours," he said, "if the owner does not bring me two hundred and twenty Louis in a week's time."

I had the money and proceeded to examine the stone which seemed to be a good diamond, and would probably weigh six carats as the owner declared. The setting was in gold.

"I consent to give the sum required if the owner is ready to give me a receipt."

"I will do so myself in the presence of witnesses."

"Very good. You shall have the money in the course of an hour; I am going to have the stone taken out first. That will make no difference to the owner, as I shall have it reset at my own expense. If he redeems it, the twenty Louis shall be yours."

"I must ask him whether he has any objection to the stone being taken out."

"Very good, but you can tell him that if he will not allow it to be done he will get nothing for it."

He returned before long with a jeweller who said he would guarantee the stone to be at least two grains over the six carats.

"Have you weighed it?"

"No, but I am quite sure it weighs over six carats."

"Then you can lend the money on it?"

"I cannot command such a sum."

"Can you tell me why the owner objects to the stone being taken out and put in at my expense?"

"No, I can't; but he does object."

"Then he may take his ring somewhere else."

They went away, leaving me well pleased at my refusal, for it was plain that the stone was either false or had a false bottom.

I spent the rest of the day in writing letters and making a good supper, In the morning I was awoke by someone knocking at my door, and on my getting up to open it, what was my astonishment to find Mercy!

I let her in, and went back to bed, and asked her what she wanted with me so early in the morning. She sat down on the bed, and began to overwhelm me with apologies. I replied by asking her why, if it was her principle to fly at her lovers like a tiger, she had slept almost in the same room as myself.

Romance Books
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book