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The Project Gutenberg EBook of To Paris AndPrison: The False Nun by Jacques Casanova deSeingaltThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere atno cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under theterms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: To Paris And Prison: The False Nun TheMemoirs Of Jacques Casanova De Seingalt 1725-1798Author: Jacques Casanova de SeingaltRelease Date: October 30, 2006 [EBook #2959]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK TO PARIS AND PRISON: THE FALSENUN ***Produced by David Widger
MEMOIRS OF JACQUES CASANOVA deSEINGALT 1725-1798TO PARIS AND PRISON, Volume 2d—The FalseNunTHE RARE UNABRIDGED LONDON EDITION OF1894 TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR MACHEN TOWHICH HAS BEEN ADDED THE CHAPTERSDISCOVERED BY ARTHUR SYMONS.
THE FALSE NUN
CHAPTER XXISupper at My Casino With M. M. and M. de Bernis,the French Ambassador—AProposal from M. M.; I Accept It—Consequences—C. C. is Unfaithful toMe, and I Cannot ComplainI felt highly pleased with the supper-party I hadarranged with M—— M——, and I ought to havebeen happy. Yet I was not so; but whence camethe anxiety which was a torment to me? Whence?From my fatal habit of gambling. That passion wasrooted in me; to live and to play were to me twoidentical things, and as I could not hold the bank Iwould go and punt at the ridotto, where I lost mymoney morning and night. That state of thingsmade me miserable. Perhaps someone will say tome:"Why did you play, when there was no need of it,when you were in want of nothing, when you hadall the money you could wish to satisfy yourfancies?"That would be a troublesome question if I had notmade it a law to tell the truth. Well, then, dearinquisitive reader, if I played with almost thecertainty of losing, although no one, perhaps, wasmore sensible than I was to the losses made ingambling, it is because I had in me the evil spirit ofavarice; it is because I loved prodigality, and
because my heart bled when I found myselfcompelled to spend any money that I had not wonat the gaming-table. It is an ugly vice, dear reader,I do not deny it. However, all I can say is that,during the four days previous to the supper, I lostall the gold won for me by M—— M——On the anxiously-expected day I went to mycasino, where at the appointed hour M—— M——came with her friend, whom she introduced to meas soon as he had taken off his mask."I had an ardent wish, sir," said M. de Bernis tome, "to renew acquaintance with you, since I heardfrom madame that we had known each other inParis."With these words he looked at me attentively, aspeople will do when they are trying to recollect aperson whom they have lost sight of. I then toldhim that we had never spoken to one another, andthat he had not seen enough of me to recollect myfeatures now."I had the honour," I added, "to dine with yourexcellency at M. de Mocenigo's house, but youtalked all the time with Marshal Keith, the Prussianambassador, and I was not fortunate enough toattract your attention. As you were on the point ofleaving Paris to return to Venice, you went awayalmost immediately after dinner, and I have neverhad the honour of seeing you since that time.""Now I recollect you," he answered, "and Iremember asking whether you were not the
remember asking whether you were not thesecretary of the embassy. But from this day weshall not forget each other again, for the mysterieswhich unite us are of a nature likely to establish alasting intimacy between us."The amiable couple were not long before they feltthoroughly at ease, and we sat down to supper, ofwhich, of course, I did the honours. Theambassador, a fine connoisseur in wines, foundmine excellent, and was delighted to hear that Ihad them from Count Algarotti, who was reputedas having the best cellar in Venice.My supper was delicate and abundant, and mymanners towards my handsome guests were thoseof a private individual receiving his sovereign andhis mistress. I saw that M—— M—— was charmedwith the respect with which I treated her, and withmy conversation, which evidently interested theambassador highly. The serious character of a firstmeeting did not prevent the utterance of witty jests,for in that respect M. de Bernis was a trueFrenchman. I have travelled much, I have deeplystudied men, individually and in a body, but I havenever met with true sociability except inFrenchmen; they alone know how to jest, and it israre, delicate, refined jesting, which animatesconversation and makes society charming.During our delightful supper wit was never wanting,and the amiable M—— M—— led the conversationto the romantic combination which had given heroccasion to know me. Naturally, she proceeded tospeak of my passion for C—— C——, and she
gave such an interesting description of that younggirl that the ambassador listened with as muchattention as if he had never seen the object of it.But that was his part, for he was not aware that Ihad been informed of his having witnessed fromhis hiding-place my silly interview with C—— C——. He told M—— M—— that he would havebeen delighted if she had brought her young friendto sup with us."That would be running too great a risk," answeredthe cunning nun, "but if you approve of it," sheadded, looking at me, "I can make you sup with her"at my casino, for we sleep in the same room.That offer surprised me much, but it was not themoment to shew it, so I replied:"It is impossible, madam, to add anything to thepleasure of your society, yet I confess I should bepleased if you could contrive to do us that greatfavour:""Well, I will think of it.""But," observed the ambassador, "if I am to be oneof the party, I think it would be right to apprize the.young lady of it""It is not necessary, for I will write to her to agreeto whatever madam may propose to her. I will do"so to-morrow.I begged the ambassador to prepare himself with agood stock of indulgence for a girl of fifteen who
had no experience of the world. In the course ofthe evening I related the history of O-Morphi, whichgreatly amused him. He entreated me to let himsee her portrait. He informed me that she was stillan inmate of the 'Parc-aux-cerfs', where shecontinued to be the delight of Louis XV., to whomshe had given a child. My guests left me aftermidnight, highly pleased, and I remained alone.The next morning, faithful to the promise I hadmade to my beautiful nun, I wrote to C—— C——without informing her that there would be a fourthperson at the projected supper, and having givenmy note to Laura I repaired to Muran, where Ifound the following letter from M—— M—— :"I could not sleep soundly, my love, if I did notease my conscience of an unpleasant weight.Perhaps you did not approve of the 'partie carree'with our young friend, and you may not haveobjected out of mere politeness. Tell me the truth,dearest, for, should you not look forward to thatmeeting with pleasure, I can contrive to undo itwithout implicating you in any way; trust me forthat. If, however, you have no objection to theparty, it will take place as agreed. Believe me, Ilove your soul more than your heart—I mean thanyour person. Adieu."Her fear was very natural, but out ofshamefacedness I did not like to retract. M—— M—— knew me well, and as a skilful tactician sheattacked my weak side.
Here is my answer:"I expected your letter, my best beloved, and youcannot doubt it, because, as you know methoroughly, you must be aware that I know you aswell. Yes, I know your mind, and I know what ideayou must entertain of mine, because I haveexposed to you all my weakness and irritability bymy sophisms. I do penance for it, dearest, when Ithink that having raised your suspicions yourtenderness for me must have been weakened.Forget my visions, I beg, and be quite certain thatfor the future my soul will be in unison with yours.The supper must take place, it will be a pleasurefor me, but let me confess that in accepting it Ihave shewn myself more grateful than polite. C—— C—— is a novice, and I am not sorry to giveher an opportunity of seeing the world. In whatschool could she learn better than yours?Therefore I recommend her to you, and you willplease me much by continuing to shew your careand friendship towards her, and by increasing, ifpossible, the sum of your goodness. I fear that youmay entice her to take the veil, and if she did Iwould never console myself. Your friend has quitecaptivated me; he is a superior man, and trulycharming."Thus did I wittingly deprive myself of the power ofdrawing back, but I was able to realize the full forceof the situation. I had no difficulty in guessing thatthe ambassador was in love with C—— C——, andthat he had confessed as much to M—— M——,who, not being in a position to object to it, was
compelled to shew herself compliant, and to assisthim in everything that could render his passionsuccessful. She could certainly not do anythingwithout my consent, and she had evidentlyconsidered the affair too delicate to venture uponproposing the party point-blank to me. They had,no doubt, put their heads together, so that bybringing the conversation on that subject I shouldfind myself compelled, for the sake of politenessand perhaps of my inward feelings, to fall into thesnare. The ambassador, whose profession it wasto carry on intrigues skilfully, had succeeded well,and I had taken the bait as he wished. There wasnothing left for me but to put a good face on thematter, not only so as not to shew myself a verysilly being, but also in order not to prove myselfshamefully ungrateful towards a man who hadgranted me unheard-of privileges. Nevertheless,the consequence of it all was likely to be somecoolness in my feelings towards both mymistresses. M—— M—— had become consciousof this after she had returned to the convent, andwishing to screen herself from all responsibility shehad lost no time in writing to me that she wouldcause the projected supper to be abandoned, incase I should disapprove of it, but she knew verywell that I would not accept her offer. Self-love is astronger passion even than jealousy; it does notallow a man who has some pretension to wit toshew himself jealous, particularly towards a personwho is not tainted by that base passion, and hasproved it.The next day, having gone early to the casino, I
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