It was at the beginning of October, but at Valentia the thermometer marked twenty degrees Reaumur in the shade.
Nina was walking in the garden with her companion, both of them being very lightly clad; indeed, Nina had only her chemise and a light petticoat.
As soon as she saw me she came up and begged me to follow their example in the way of attire, but I begged to be excused. The presence of that hateful fellow revolted me in the highest degree.
In the interval before supper Nina entertained me with a number of lascivious anecdotes of her experiences from the time she began her present mode of living up to the age of twenty-two, which was her age then.
If it had not been for the presence of the disgusting Argus, no doubt all these stories would have produced their natural effect on me; but as it was they had none whatever.
We had a delicate supper and ate with appetite, and after it was over I would have gladly left them; but Nina would not let me go. The wine had taken effect, and she wished to have a little amusement.
After all the servants had been dismissed, this Messalina ordered Molinari to strip naked, and she then began to treat him in a manner which I cannot describe without disgust.
The rascal was young and strong, and, though he was drunk, Nina's treatment soon placed him in a hearty condition. I could see that she wished me to play my part in the revels, but my disgust had utterly deprived me of all my amorous faculties.
Nina, too, had undressed, and seeing that I viewed the orgy coldly she proceeded to satiate her desires by means of Molinari.
I had to bear with the sight of this beautiful woman coupling herself with an animal, whose only merit lay in his virile monstrosity, which she no doubt regarded as a beauty.
When she had exhausted her amorous fury she threw herself into a bath, then came back, drank a bottle of Malmsey Madeira, and finally made her brutal lover drink till he fell on to the floor.
I fled into the next room, not being able to bear it any longer, but she followed me. She was still naked, and seating herself beside me on an ottoman she asked me how I had enjoyed the spectacle.
I told her boldy that the disgust with which her wretched companion had inspired me was so great that it had utterly annulled the effect of her charms.
"That may be so, but now he is not here, and yet you do nothing. One would not think it, to look at you."
"You are right, for I have my feelings like any other man, but he has disgusted me too much. Wait till tomorrow, and let me not see that monster so unworthy of enjoying you."
"He does not enjoy me. If I thought he did I would rather die than let him have to do with me, for I detest him."
"What! you do not love him, and yet you make use of him in the way you do?"
"Yes, just as I might use a mechanical instrument."
In this woman I saw an instance of the depths of degradation to which human nature may be brought.
She asked me to sup with her on the following day, telling me that we would be alone, as Molinari would be ill.
"He will have got over the effects of the wine."
"I tell you he will be ill. Come to-morrow, and come every evening."
"I am going the day after to-morrow."
"You will not go for a week, and then we will go together."
"If you go you will insult me beyond bearing."
I went home with my mind made up to depart without having anything more to do with her; and though I was far from inexperienced in wickedness of all kinds, I could not help feeling astonished at the unblushing frankness of this Megaera, who had told me what I already knew, but in words that I had never heard a woman use before.
"I only use him to satisfy my desires, and because I am certain that he does not love me; if I thought he did I would rather die than allow him to do anything with me, for I detest him."
The next day I went to her at seven o'clock in the evening. She received me with an air of feigned melancholy, saying,--
"Alas! we shall have to sup alone; Molinari has got the colic."
"You said he would be ill; have you poisoned him?"
"I am quite capable of doing so, but I hope I never shall."
"But you have given him something?"
"Only what he likes himself; but we will talk of that again.