I Meet the Venetian Ambassadors at Lyons, and also Marcoline's Uncle—IPart from Marcoline and Set Out for Paris—An Amorous Journey
Thus freed from the cares which the dreadful slanders of Possano had caused me, I gave myself up to the enjoyment of my fair Venetian, doing all in my power to increase her happiness, as if I had had a premonition that we should soon be separated from one another.
The day after the supper I gave to Madame Pernon and M. Bono, we went to the theatre together, and in the box opposite to us I saw M. Querini, the procurator, Morosini, M. Memmo, and Count Stratico, a Professor of the University of Padua. I knew all these gentlemen; they had been in London, and were passing through Lyons on their return to Venice.
"Farewell, fair Marcoline!" I said to myself, feeling quite broken-hearted, but I remained calm, and said nothing to her. She did not notice them as she was absorbed in her conversation with M. Bono, and besides, she did not know them by sight. I saw that M. Memmo had seen me and was telling the procurator of my presence, and as I knew the latter very well I felt bound to pay them my respects then and there.
Querini received me very politely for a devotee, as also did Morosini, while Memmo seemed moved; but no doubt he remembered that it was chiefly due to his mother that I had been imprisoned eight years ago. I congratulated the gentlemen on their embassy to England, on their return to their native land, and for form's sake commended myself to their good offices to enable me to return also. M. Morosini, noticing the richness of my dress and my general appearance of prosperity, said that while I had to stay away he had to return, and that he considered me the luckier man.
"Your excellency is well aware," said I, "that nothing is sweeter than forbidden fruit."
He smiled, and asked me whither I went and whence I came.
"I come from Rome," I answered, "where I had some converse with the HolyFather, whom I knew before, and I am going through Paris on my way toLondon.
"Call on me here, if you have time, I have a little commission to give you."
"I shall always have time to serve your excellency in. Are you stopping here for long?"
"Three or four days."
When I 'got back to my box Marcoline asked me who were the gentlemen to whom I had been speaking. I answered coolly and indifferently, but watching her as I spoke, that they were the Venetian ambassadors on their way from London. The flush of her cheek died away and was replaced by pallor; she raised her eyes to heaven, lowered them, and said not a word. My heart was broken. A few minutes afterwards she asked me which was M. Querini, and after I had pointed him out to her she watched him furtively for the rest of the evening.
The curtain fell, we left our box, and at the door of the theatre we found the ambassadors waiting for their carriage. Mine was in the same line as theirs. The ambassador Querini said,—
"You have a very pretty young lady with you."
Marcoline stepped forward, seized his hand, and kissed it before I could answer.
Querini, who was greatly astonished, thanked her and said,—
"What have I done to deserve this honour?"
"Because," said Marcoline, speaking in the Venetian dialect, "I have the honour of knowing his excellency M....