In my opinion there is no more seductive costume in Europe when the wearer is pretty.
I also noticed that every feature of her face breathed peace and calm; I had never seen her looking so well, and I could not help congratulating her. She replied with a smile, and I gave her a kiss, which she took as meekly as a lamb.
Philippe arrived, and we sat down to table. I saw that my fair sweetheart had crossed the Rubicon; the day was won.
"I am going to be happy," said she, "but let us say nothing, and it will come of itself."
However, I did not conceal my bliss, and made love to her whenever the servant was out of the room. She was not only submissive, but even ardent.
Before we left the table she asked me if I still loved her.
"More than ever, darling; I adore you."
"Then take me to the bull fight."
"Quick! Fetch the hairdresser."
When my hair was done I made an elaborate toilette, and burning with impatience we set out on foot, as I was afraid we should not secure a good place if we waited till the carriage was ready. We found a fine box with only two persons in it, and Ignazia, after glancing round, said she was glad that the detestable duchess was not anywhere near us.
After some fine sport my mistress begged me to take her to the Prado, where all the best people in Madrid are to be seen.
Donna Ignazia leant on my arm, seemed proud to be thought mine, and filled me with delight.
All at once we met the Venetian ambassador and his favourite, Manucci. They had just arrived from Aranjuez. We greeted each other with due Spanish politeness, and the ambassador paid me a high compliment on the beauty of my companion. Donna Ignazia pretended not to understand, but she pressed my arm with Spanish delicacy.
After walking a short distance with us M. de Mocenigo said he hoped I would dine with him on the following day, and after I had nodded acquiescence in the French style we parted.
Towards the evening we took some ices and returned home, and the gentle pressure of my arm on the way prepared me for the bliss I was to enjoy.
We found Don Diego on the balcony waiting for us. He congratulated his daughter on her pleasant appearance and the pleasure she must have taken in my society.
Charmed with papa's good humour, I asked him to sup with us, and he accepted, and amused us with his witty conversation and a multitude of little tales that pleased me exceedingly. He made the following speech on leaving us, which I give word for word, but I cannot give the reader any idea of the inimitable Spanish gravity with which it was delivered.
"Amigo Senior Don Jaime, I leave you here to enjoy the cool air with my daughter. I am delighted at your loving her, and you may be assured that I shall place no obstacle in the way of your becoming my son-in-law as soon as you can shew your titles of nobility."
When he was gone, I said to his daughter,--
"I should be only too happy, if it could be managed; but you must know that in my country they only are called nobles who have an hereditary right to rule the state. If I had been born in Spain I should be noble, but as it is I adore you, and I hope you will make me happy."
"Yes, dearest, but we must be happy together; I cannot suffer any infidelity."
"I give you my word of honour that I will be wholly faithful to you."
"Come then, 'corazon mio', let us go in."
"No, let us put out the lights, and stay here a quarter of an hour. Tell me, my angel, whence comes this unexpected happiness?"
"You owe it to a piece of tyranny which drove me to desperation. God is good, and I am sure He would not have me become my own executioner. When I told my confessor that I could not help loving you, but that I could restrain myself from all excess of love, he replied that this self- confidence was misplaced, as I had already fallen. He wanted me to promise never to be alone with you again, and on my refusing to do so he would not give me absolution.
"I have never had such a piece of shame cast on me, but I laid it all in the hands of God, and said, 'Thy will be done.'
"Whilst I heard mass my mind was made up, and as long as you love me I shall be yours, and yours only.