As we sat near to each other in the twilight, so favourable to lovers' vows, I looked into Donna Ignazia's eyes, and saw there that my hour had come. I clasped her to me with one arm, I clung with my lips to hers, and by the way she trembled I guessed the flame which consumed her.
"Will you go and see the duchess?"
"No, if you will promise me not to go to confession next Sunday."
"But what will he say if I do not go?"
"Nothing at all, if he understands his business. But let us talk it over a little."
We were so tightly clasped together that the cousin, like a good girl, left us, and went to the other end of the balcony, taking care to look away from us.
Without changing my position, in spite of the temptation to do so, I asked her if she felt in the humour to repent of the sin she was ready to commit.
"I was not thinking of repentance just then, but as you remind me of it, I must tell you that I shall certainly go to confession."
"And after you have been to confession will you love me as you love me now?"
"I hope God will give me strength to offend Him no more."
"I assure you that if you continue loving me God will not give you grace, yet I feel sure that on Sunday evening you will refuse me that which you are now ready to grant."
"Indeed I will, sweetheart; but why should we talk of that now?"
"Because if I abandon myself to pleasure now I shall be more in love with you than ever, and consequently more unhappy than ever, when the day of your repentance comes. So promise me that you will not go to confession whilst I remain at Madrid, or give the fatal order now, and bid me leave you. I cannot abandon myself to love to-day knowing that it will be refused me on Sunday."
As I remonstrated thus, I clasped her affectionately in my arms, caressing her most ardently; but before coming to the decisive action I asked her again whether she would promise not to go to confession next Sunday.
"You are cruel," said she, "I cannot make you that promise for my conscience sake."
At this reply, which I had quite expected, I remained motionless, feeling sure that she must be in a state of desperate irritation at the work half begun and not concluded. I, too, suffered, for I was at the door of the sanctuary, and a slight movement would have sent me into the inmost shrine; but I knew that her torments must be greater than mine, and that she could not resist long.
Donna Ignazia was indeed in a terrible state; I had not repulsed her, but I was perfectly inactive. Modesty prevented her asking me openly to continue, but she redoubled her caresses, and placed herself in an easier position, reproaching me with my cruelty. I do not know whether I could have held out much longer, but just then the cousin turned round and told us that Don Diego was coming in.
We hastened to arrange our toilette, and to sit in a decent position. The cousin came up to us, and Don Diego, after making a few remarks, left us on the balcony, wishing us a good night. I might have begun over again, but I clung to my system of repression, and after wishing the girls good night with a melancholy air, I went to bed.
I hoped Donna Ignazia would repent and come and keep me company, but I was disappointed. They left their room early in the morning, and at noon Don Diego came to dine with me, saying his daughter had such a bad headache that she had not even gone to mass.
"We must get her to eat something."
"No, I think abstinence will do her good, and in the evening I daresay she will be able to sup with you."
I went to keep her company by her bedside after I had taken my siesta. I did my best for three hours to convince her of her folly; but she kept her eyes closed, and said nothing, only sighing when I said something very touching.
I left her to walk in St. Jerome's Park, and told her that if she did not sup with me I should understand that she did not wish to see me again. This threat had its effect. She came to table at supper-time, but she looked pale and exhausted.