THE FALSE NUN - Chapter XXIV
Pleasant Ending of the Adventure of the False Nun--M. M. Finds Out
That I Have d Mistress--She is Avenged on the Wretch Capsucefalo--
I Ruin Myself at Play, and at the Suggestion of M. M. I Sell all Her
Diamonds, One After Another--I Hand Over Tonine to Murray, Who Makes
Provision for Her--Her Sister Barberine Takes Her Place.
How did you make this nice acquaintance?" I asked the ambassador.
"Six months ago," he replied, "while standing at the convent gate
with Mr. Smith, our consul, in whose company I had been to see some
ceremony or other, I remarked to him, as we were talking over some
nuns we had noticed, 'I would gladly give five hundred sequins for a
few hours of Sister M---- M----s company.' Count Capsucefalo heard
what I said, but made no remark. Mr. Smith answered that one could
only see her at the grating as did the ambassador of France, who
often came to visit her. Capsucefalo called on me the next morning,
and said that if I had spoken in good faith he was sure he could get
me a night with the nun in whatever place I liked, if she could count
on my secrecy. 'I have just been speaking to her,' said he, 'and on
my mentioning your name she said she had noticed you with Mr. Smith,
and vowed she would sup with you more for love than money. 'I,' said
the rascal, 'am the only man she trusts, and I take her to the French
ambassador's casino in Venice whenever she wants to go there. You
need not be afraid of being cheated, as you will give the money to
her personally when you have possessed yourself of her.' With this
he took her portrait from his pocket and shewed it me; and here it
is. I bought it of him two days after I believed myself to have
spent a night with the charming nun, and a fortnight after our
conversation. This beauty here came masked in a nun's habit, and I
was fool enough to think I had got a treasure. I am vexed with
myself for not having suspected the cheat--at all events, when I saw
her hair, as I know that nuns' hair should be cut short. But when I
said something about it to the hussy, she told me they were allowed
to keep their hair under their caps, and I was weak enough to believe
I knew that on this particular Murray had not been deceived, but I
did not feel compelled to tell him so then and there.
I held the portrait Murray had given me in my hand, and compared it
with the face before me. In the portrait the breast was bare, and as
I was remarking that painters did those parts as best they could, the
impudent wench seized the opportunity to shew me that the miniature
was faithful to nature. I turned my back upon her with an expression
of contempt which would have mortified her, if these creatures were
ever capable of shame. As we talked things over, I could not help
laughing at the axiom, Things which are equal to the same thing are
equal to one another, for the miniature was like M. M. and like the
courtezan, and yet the two women were not like each other. Murray
agreed with me, and we spent an hour in a philosophical discussion on
the matter. As the false M. M. was named Innocente, we expressed a
wish to know how her name agreed with her profession, and how the
knave had induced her to play the part she had taken; and she told us
the following story:
"I have known Count Capsucefalo for two years, and have found him
useful, for, though he has given me no money, he has made me profit
largely through the people he has introduced to me. About the end of
last autumn he came to me one day, and said that if I could make up
as a nun with some clothes he would get me, and in that character
pass a night with an Englishman, I should be the better by five
hundred sequins. 'You need not be afraid of anything,' said he, 'as
I myself will take you to the casino where the dupe will be awaiting
you, and I will come and take you back to your imaginary convent
towards the end of the night. He shewed me how I must behave, and
told me what to reply if my lover asked any questions about the
discipline of the convent.
"I liked the plot, gentlemen, and I told him I was ready to carry it
out. And be pleased to consider that there are not many women of my
profession who would hesitate over a chance of getting five hundred
sequins. Finding the scheme both agreeable and profitable, I
promised to play my part with the greatest skill. The bargain was
struck, and he gave me full instructions as to my dialogue. He told
me that the Englishman could only talk about my convent and any
lovers I might have had; that on the latter point I was to cut him
short, and to answer with a laugh that I did not know what he was
talking about, and even to tell him that I was a nun in appearance
only, and that in the course of toying I might let him see my hair.
'That,' said Capsucefalo, 'won't prevent him from thinking you a nun
--yes! and the very nun he is amorous of, for he will have made up
his mind that you cannot possibly be anyone else.' Seizing the point
of the jest, I did not take the trouble to find out the name of the
nun I was to represent, nor the convent whence I was to come; the
only thing in my head was the five hundred sequins. So little have I
troubled about aught else that, though I passed a delicious night
with you, and found you rather worthy of being paid for than paying,
I have not ascertained who and what you are, and I don't know at this
moment to whom I am speaking. You know what a night I had; I have
told you it was delicious, and I was happy in the idea that I was
going to have another. You have found everything out. I am sorry,
but I am not afraid of anything, since I can put on any disguise I
like, and can't prevent my lovers taking me for a saint if they like
to do so. You have found weapons in my possession, but everyone is
allowed to bear arms in self-defence. I plead not guilty on all
"Do you know me?" said I.
"No, but I have often seen you passing under my window. I live at
St. Roch, near the bridge."
The way in which the woman told her yarn convinced us that she was an
adept in the science of prostitution, but we thought Capsucefalo, in
spite of the count, worthy of the pillory. The girl was about ten
years older than M. M., she was pretty, but light-complexioned, while
my beautiful nun had fine dark brown hair and was at least three
After twelve o'clock we sat down to supper, and did honour to the
excellent meal which my dear Antoinette had prepared for us. We were
cruel enough to leave the poor wretch without offering her so much as
a glass of wine, but we thought it our duty.
While we were talking, the jolly Englishman made some witty comments
on my eagerness to convince him that he had not enjoyed M. M.'s
"I can't believe," said he, "that you have shewn so much interest
without being in love with the divine nun."
I answered by saying that if I were her lover I was much to be pitied
in being condemned to go to the parlour, and no farther.
"I would gladly give a hundred guineas a month," said he, "to have
the privilege of visiting her at the grating."
So saying he gave me my hundred sequins, complimenting me on my
success, and I slipped them forthwith into my pocket.
At two o'clock in the morning we heard a soft knock on the street
"Here is our friend," I said, "be discreet, and you will see that he
will make a full confession."
He came in and saw Murray and the lady, but did not discover that a
third party was present till he heard the ante-room door being
locked. He turned round and saw me, and as he knew me, merely said,
without losing countenance:
"Ah, you are here; you know, of course, that the secret must be
Murray laughed and calmly asked him to be seated, and he enquired,
with the lady's pistols in his hands, where he was going to take her
"I think you may be mistaken, as it is very possible that when you
leave this place you will both of you be provided with a bed in
"No, I am not afraid of that happening; the thing would make too much
noise, and the laugh would not be on your side. Come," said he to
his mate, "put on your cloak and let us be off."
The ambassador, who like an Englishman kept quite cool the whole
time, poured him out a glass of Chambertin, and the blackguard drank
his health. Murray seeing he had on a fine ring set with brilliants,
praised it, and shewing some curiosity to see it more closely he drew
it off the fellow's finger, examined it, found it without flaw, and
asked how much it was worth. Capsucefalo, a little taken aback, said
it cost him four hundred sequins.
"I will hold it as a pledge for that sum," said the ambassador,
putting the ring into his pocket. The other looked chop-fallen, and
Murray laughing at his retiring manners told the girl to put on her
cloak and to pack off with her worthy acolyte. She did so directly,
and with a low bow they disappeared.
"Farewell, nun procurer!" said the ambassador, but the count made no
As soon as they were gone I thanked Murray warmly for the moderation
he had shewn, as a scandal would have only injured three innocent
"Be sure," said he, "that the guilty parties shall be punished
without anyone's knowing the reason"
I then made Tonine come upstairs, and my English friend offered her a
glass of wine, which she declined with much modesty and politeness.
Murray looked at her with flaming glances, and left after giving me
his heartiest thanks.
Poor little Tonine had been resigned, and obedient for many hours,
and she had good cause to think I had been unfaithful to her;
however, I gave her the most unmistakable proofs of my fidelity. We
stayed in bed for six hours, and rose happy in the morning.
After dinner I hurried off to my noble M---- M----, and told her the
whole story. She listened eagerly, her various feelings flitting
across her face. Fear, anger, wrath, approval of my method of
clearing up my natural suspicions, joy at discovering me still her
lover--all were depicted in succession in her glance, and in the play
of her features, and in the red and white which followed one another
on her cheeks and forehead. She was delighted to hear that the
masker who was with me in the parlour was the English ambassador, but
she became nobly disdainful when I told her that he would gladly give
a hundred guineas a month for the pleasure of visiting her in the
parlour. She was angry with him for fancying that she had been in
his power, and for finding a likeness between her and a portrait,
when, so she said, there was no likeness at all; I had given her the
portrait. She added, with a shrewd smile, that she was sure I had
not let my little maid see the false nun, as she might have been
"You know, do you, that I have a young servant?"
"Yes, and a pretty one, too. She is Laura's daughter, and if you
love her I am very glad, and so is C---- C----. I hope you will let
me have a sight of her. C---- C---- has seen her before."
As I saw that she knew too much for me to be able to deceive her, I
took my cue directly and told her in detail the history of my amours.
She shewed her satisfaction too openly not to be sincere. Before I
left her she said her honour obliged her to get Capsucefalo
assassinated, for the wretch had wronged her beyond pardon. By way
of quieting her I promised that if the ambassador did not rid us of
him within the week I would charge myself with the execution of our
About this time died Bragadin the procurator, brother of my patron,
leaving M. de Bragadin sufficiently well off. However, as the family
threatened to become extinct, he desired a woman who had been his
mistress, and of whom he had had a natural son, to become his wife.
By this marriage the son would have become legitimate, and the family
renewed again. The College of Cardinals would have recognized the
wife for a small fee, and all would have gone admirably.
The woman wrote to me, asking me to call on her; and I was going to,
curious to know what a woman, whom I did not know from Adam, could
want with me, when I received a summons from M. de Bragadin. He
begged me to ask Paralis if he ought to follow De la Haye's advice in
a matter he had promised not to confide to me, but of which the
oracle must be informed. The oracle, naturally opposed to the
Jesuit, told him to consult his own feelings and nothing else. After
this I went to the lady.
She began by telling me the whole story. She introduced her son to
me, and told me that if the marriage could be performed, a deed would
be delivered in my favour by which, at the death of M. de Bragadin,
I should become entitled to an estate worth five thousand crowns per
As I guessed without much trouble that this was the same matter which
De la Haye had proposed to M. de Bragadin, I answered without
hesitation that since De la Haye was before me I could do nothing,
and thereupon made her my bow.
I could not help wondering at this Jesuit's continually intriguing to
marry my old friends without my knowledge. Two years ago, if I had
not set my face against it, he would have married M. Dandolo. I
cared not a whit whether the family of Bragadin became extinct or
not, but I did care for the life of my benefactor, and was quite sure
that marriage would shorten it by many years; he was already sixty-
three, and had recovered from a serious apoplectic stroke.
I went to dine with Lady Murray (English-women who are daughters of
lords keep the title), and after dinner the ambassador told me that
he had told M. Cavalli the whole story of the false nun, and that the
secretary had informed him, the evening before, that everything had
been done to his liking. Count Capsucefalo had been sent to
Cephalonia, his native country, with the order never to return to
Venice, and the courtezan had disappeared.
The fine part, or rather the fearful part, about these sentences is
that no one ever knows the reason why or wherefore, and that the lot
may fall on the innocent as well as the guilty. M. M. was delighted
with the event, and I was more pleased than she, for I should have
been sorry to have been obliged to soil my hands with the blood of
that rascally count.
There are seasons in the life of men which may be called 'fasti' and
'nefasti'; I have proved this often in my long career, and on the
strength of the rubs and struggles I have had to encounter. I am
able, as well as any man, to verify the truth of this axiom. I had
just experienced a run of luck. Fortune had befriended me at play, I
had been happy in the society of men, and from love I had nothing to
ask; but now the reverse of the medal began to appear. Love was
still kind, but Fortune had quite left me, and you will soon see,
reader, that men used me no better than the blind goddess.
Nevertheless, since one's fate has phases as well as the moon, good
follows evil as disasters succeed to happiness.
I still played on the martingale, but with such bad luck that I was
soon left without a sequin. As I shared my property with M. M. I was
obliged to tell her of my losses, and it was at her request that I
sold all her diamonds, losing what I got for them; she had now only
five hundred sequins by her. There was no more talk of her escaping
from the convent, for we had nothing to live on! I still gamed, but
for small stakes, waiting for the slow return of good luck.
One day the English ambassador, after giving me a supper at his
casino with the celebrated Fanny Murray, asked me to let him sup at
my casino at Muran, which I now only kept up for the sake of Tonine.
I granted him the favour, but did not imitate his generosity. He
found my little mistress smiling and polite, but always keeping
within the bounds of decency, from which he would have very willingly
excused her. The next morning he wrote to me as follows:
"I am madly in love with Tonine. If you like to hand her over to me
I will make the following provision for her: I will set her up in a
suitable lodging which I will furnish throughout, and which I will
give to her with all its contents, provided that I may visit her
whenever I please, and that she gives me all the rights of a
fortunate lover. I will give her a maid, a cook, and thirty sequins
a month as provision for two people, without reckoning the wine,
which I will procure myself. Besides this I will give her a life
income of two hundred crowns per annum, over which she will have full
control after living with me for a year. I give you a week to send
I replied immediately that I would let him know in three days whether
his proposal were accepted, for Tonine had a mother of whom she was
fond, and she would possibly not care to do anything without her
consent. I also informed him that in all appearance the girl was
The business was an important one for Tonine. I loved her, but I
knew perfectly well that we could not pass the rest of our lives
together, and I saw no prospect of being able to make her as good a
provision as that offered by the ambassador. Consequently I had no
doubts on the question, and the very same day I went to Muran and
told her all.
"You wish to leave me, then," said she, in tears.
"I love you, dearest, and what I propose ought to convince you of my
"Not so; I cannot serve two masters."
"You will only serve your new lover, sweetheart. I beg of you to
reflect that you will have a fine dowry, on the strength of which you
may marry well; and that however much I love you I cannot possibly
make so good a provision for you."
"Leave me to-day for tears and reflection, and come to supper with me
I did not fail to keep the appointment.
"I think your English friend is a very pretty man," she said, "and
when he speaks in the Venetian dialect it makes me die with laughter.
If my mother agrees, I might, perhaps, force myself to love him.
Supposing we did not agree we could part at the end of a year, and I
should be the richer by an income of two hundred crowns."
"I am charmed with the sense of your arguments; speak about it to
"I daren't, sweetheart; this kind of thing is too delicate to be
discussed between a mother and her daughter speak to her yourself."
"I will, indeed."
Laura, whom I had not seen since she had given me her daughter, asked
for no time to think it over, but full of glee told me that now her
daughter would be able to soothe her declining years, and that she
would leave Muran of which she was tired. She shewed me a hundred
and thirty sequins which Tonine had gained in my service, and which
she had placed in her hands.
Barberine, Tonine's younger sister, came to kiss my hand. I thought
her charming, and I gave her all the silver in my pocket. I then
left, telling Laura that I should expect her at my house. She soon
followed me, and gave her child a mother's blessing, telling her that
she and her family could go and live in Venice for sixty sous a day.
Tonine embraced her, and told her that she should have it.
This important affair having been managed to everybody's
satisfaction, I went to see M---- M----, who came into the parlour
with C---- C----, whom I found looking sad, though prettier than
ever. She was melancholy, but none the less tender. She could not
stay for more than a quarter of an hour for fear of being seen, as
she was forbidden ever to go into the parlour. I told M. M. the
story of Tonine, who was going to live with Murray in Venice; she was
sorry to hear it, "for," said she, "now that you have no longer any
attraction at Muran, I shall see you less than ever." I promised to
come and see her often, but vain promises! The time was near which
parted us for ever.
The same evening I went to tell the good news to my friend Murray.
He was in a transport of joy, and begged me to come and sup with him
at his casino the day after next, and to bring the girl with me, that
the surrender might be made in form. I did not fail him, for once
the matter was decided, I longed to bring it to an end. In my
presence he assigned to her the yearly income for her life of two
hundred Venetian ducats, and by a second deed he gave her all the
contents of the house with which he was going to provide her,
provided always that she lived with him for a year. He allowed her
to receive me as a friend, also to receive her mother and sisters,
and she was free to go and see them when she would. Tonine threw her
arms about his neck, and assured him that she would endeavour to
please him to the utmost of her ability. "I will see him," said she,
pointing to me, "but as his friend he shall have nothing more from
me." Throughout this truly affecting scene she kept back her tears,
but I could not conceal mine. Murray was happy, but I was not long a
witness of his good fortune, the reason of which I will explain a
Three days afterwards Laura came to me, told me that she was living
in Venice, and asked me to take her to her daughter's. I owed this
woman too much to refuse her, and I took her there forthwith. Tonine
gave thanks to God, and also to me, and her mother took up the song,
for they were not quite sure whether they were more indebted to God
or to me. Tonine was eloquent in her praise of Murray, and made no
complaint at my not having come to see her, at which I was glad. As
I was going Laura asked me to take her back in my gondola, and as we
had to pass by the house in which she lived she begged me to come in
for a moment, and I could not hurt her feelings by refusing. I owe
it to my honour to remark here that I was thus polite without
thinking that I should see Barberine again.
This girl, as pretty as her sister, though in another style, began by
awakening my curiosity--a weakness which usually renders the
profligate man inconstant. If all women were to have the same
features, the same disposition, and the same manners, men would not
only never be inconstant, but would never be in love. Under that
state of things one would choose a wife by instinct and keep to her
till death, but our world would then be under a different system to
the present. Novelty is the master of the soul. We know that what
we do not see is very nearly the same as what we have seen, but we
are curious, we like to be quite sure, and to attain our ends we give
ourselves as much trouble as if we were certain of finding some prize
Barberine, who looked upon me as an old friend--for her mother had
accustomed her to kiss my hand whenever I went there, who had
undressed more than once in my presence without troubling about me,
who knew I had made her sister's fortune and the family fortune as
well, and thought herself prettier than Tonine because her skin was
fairer, and because she had fine black eyes, desiring to take her
sister's place, knew that to succeed she must take me by storm. Her
common sense told her that as I hardly ever came to the house, I
should not be likely to become amorous of her unless she won me by
storm; and to this end she shewed the utmost complaisance when she
had the chance, so that I won her without any difficulty. All this
reasoning came from her own head, for I am sure her mother gave her
no instructions. Laura was a mother of a kind common the world over,
but especially in Italy. She was willing to take advantage of the
earnings of her daughters, but she would never have induced them to
take the path of evil. There her virtue stopped short.
After I had inspected her two rooms and her little kitchen, and had
admired the cleanness which shone all around, Barberine asked me if I
would like to see their small garden.
"With pleasure," I replied, "for a garden is a rarity in Venice."
Her mother told her to give me some figs if there were any ripe ones.
The garden consisted of about thirty square feet, and grew only salad
herbs and a fine fig tree. It had not a good crop, and I told her
that I could not see any figs.
"I can see some at the top," said Barberine, "and I will gather them
if you will hold me the ladder."
"Yes, climb away; I will hold it quite firmly."
She stepped up lightly, and stretching out an arm to get at some figs
to one side of her, she put her body off its balance, holding on to
the ladder with the other hand.
"My dear Barberine, what do you think I can see?"
"What you have often seen with my sister."
"That's true! but you are prettier than she is."
The girl made no reply, but, as if she could not reach the fruit, she
put her foot on a high branch, and spewed me the most seductive
picture. I was in an ecstasy, and Barberine, who saw it, did not
hurry herself. At last I helped her to come down, and letting my
hand wander indiscreetly, I asked her if the fruit I held had been
plucked, and she kept me a long time telling me it was quite fresh.
I took her within my arms, and already her captive, I pressed her
amorously to my heart, printing on her lips a fiery kiss, which she
gave me back with as much ardour.
"Will you give me what I have caught, dearest?"
"My mother is going to Muran to-morrow, and she will stay there all
the day; if you come, there is nothing I will refuse you."
When speech like this proceeds from a mouth still innocent, the man
to whom it is addressed ought to be happy, for desires are but pain
and torment, and enjoyment is sweet because it delivers us from them.
This shews that those who prefer a little resistance to an easy
conquest are in the wrong; but a too easy conquest often points to a
depraved nature, and this men do not like, however depraved they
themselves may be.
We returned to the house, and I gave Barberine a tender kiss before
Laura's eyes, telling her that she had a very jewel in her daughter--
a compliment which made her face light up with pleasure. I gave the
dear girl ten sequins, and I went away congratulating myself, but
cursing my luck at not being able to make as good provision for
Barberine as Murray had made for her sister.
Tonine had told me that for manners' sake I should sup once with her.
I went the same evening and found Righelini and Murray there. The
supper was delicious, and I was delighted with the excellent
understanding the two lovers had already come to. I complimented the
ambassador on the loss of one of his tastes, and he told me he should
be very sorry at such a loss, as it would warn him of his declining
"But," said I, "you used to like to perform the mysterious sacrifice
of Love without a veil."
"It was not I but Ancilla who liked it, and as I preferred pleasing
her to pleasing myself, I gave in to her taste without any
"I am delighted with your answer, as I confess it would cost me
something to be the witness of your exploits with Tonine."
Having casually remarked that I had no longer a house in Muran,
Righelini told me that if I liked he could get me a delightful house
at a low rent on the Tondamente Nuovo.
As this quarter facing north, and as agreeable in summer as
disagreeable in winter, was opposite to Muran, where I should have to
go twice a week, I told the doctor I should be glad to look at the
I took leave of the rich and fortunate ambassador at midnight, and
before passing the day with my new prize I went to sleep so as to be
fresh and capable of running a good course.
I went to Barberine at an early hour, and as soon as she saw me she
"My mother will not be back till the evening, and my brother will
take his dinner at the school. Here is a fowl, a ham, some cheese,
and two bottles of Scopolo wine. We will take our mess whenever you
"You astonish me, sweetheart, for how did you manage to get such a
"We owe it to my mother, so to her be the praise."
"You have told her, then, what we are going to do?"
"No, not I, for I know nothing about it; but I told her you were
coming to see me, and at the same time I gave her the ten sequins."
"And what did your mother say?"
"She said she wouldn't be sorry if you were to love me as you loved
"I love you better, though I love her well."
"You love her? Why have you left her, then?"
"I have not left her, for we supped together yesterday evening; but
we no longer live together as lovers, that is all. I have yielded
her up to a rich friend of mine, who has made her fortune."
"That is well, though I don't understand much about these affairs. I
hope you will tell Tonine that I have taken her place, and I should
be very pleased if you would let her know that you are quite sure you
are my first lover."
"And supposing the news vexes her?"
"So much the better. Will you do it for me? it's the first favour I
have asked of you."
"I promise to do so."
After this rapid dialogue we took breakfast, and then, perfectly
agreed, we went to bed, rather as if we were about to sacrifice to
Hymen than to love.
The game was new to Barberine, and her transports, her green notions-
-which she told me openly--her inexperience, or rather her
awkwardness, enchanted me. I seemed for the first time to pluck the
fruit of the tree of knowledge, and never had I tasted fruit so
delicious. My little maid would have been ashamed to let me see how
the first thorn hurt her, and to convince me that she only smelt the
rose, she strove to make me think she experienced more pleasure than
is possible in a first trial, always more or less painful. She was
not yet a big girl, the roses on her swelling breasts were as yet but
buds, and she was a woman only in her heart.
After more than one assault delivered and sustained with spirit, we
got up for dinner, and after we had refreshed ourselves we mounted
once more the altar of love, where we remained till the evening.
Laura found us dressed and well pleased with each other on her
return. I made Barberine another present of twenty sequins, I swore
to love her always, and went on my way. At the time I certainly
meant to keep to my oath, but that which destiny had in store for me
could not be reconciled with these promises which welled forth from
my soul in a moment of excitement.
The next morning Righelini took me to see the lodging he had spoken
to me about. I liked it and took it on the spot, paying the first
quarter in advance. The house belonged to a widow with two
daughters, the elder of whom had just been blooded. Righelini was
her doctor, and had treated her for nine months without success. As
he was going to pay her a visit I went in with him, and found myself
in the presence of a fine waxen statue. Surprise drew from me these
"She is pretty, but the sculptor should give her some colour."
On which the statue smiled in a manner which would have been charming
if her lips had but been red.
"Her pallor," said Righelini, "will not astonish you when I tell you
she has just been blooded for the hundred and fourth time."
I gave a very natural gesture of surprise.
This fine girl had attained the age of eighteen years without
experiencing the monthly relief afforded by nature, the result being
that she felt a deathly faintness three or four times a week, and the
only relief was to open the vein.
"I want to send her to the country," said the doctor, "where pure and
wholesome air, and, above all, more exercise, will do her more good
than all the drugs in the world."
After I had been told that my bed should be made ready by the
evening, I went away with Righelini, who told me that the only cure
for the girl would be a good strong lover.
"But my dear doctor," said I, "can't you make your own prescription?"
"That would be too risky a game, for I might find myself compelled to
marry her, and I hate marriage like the devil."
Though I was no better inclined towards marriage than the doctor, I
was too near the fire not to get burnt, and the reader will see in
the next chapter how I performed the miraculous cure of bringing the
colours of health into the cheeks of this pallid beauty.