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A Fearful Misfortune, Befalls Me; then Love Cools Down; Casanova eventually leaves Corfu and returns to Venice, and gives up the Army life to become a fiddler.
145 pages, with a reading time of ~2.25 hours (36,301 words), and first published in 1789. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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A Fearful Misfortune Befalls Me–Love Cools Down–Leave Corfu and Return to Venice–Give Up the Army and Become a Fiddler
The wound was rapidly healing up, and I saw near at hand the moment when Madame F—- would leave her bed, and resume her usual avocations.
The governor of the galeasses having issued orders for a general review at Gouyn, M. F—-, left for that place in his galley, telling me to join him there early on the following day with the felucca. I took supper alone with Madame F—-, and I told her how unhappy it made me to remain one day away from her.
“Let us make up to-night for to-morrow’s disappointment,” she said, “and let us spend it together in conversation. Here are the keys; when you know that my maid has left me, come to me through my husband’s room.”
I did not fail to follow her instructions to the letter, and we found ourselves alone with five hours before us. It was the month of June, and the heat was intense. She had gone to bed; I folded her in my arms, she pressed me to her bosom, but, condemning herself to the most cruel torture, she thought I had no right to complain, if I was subjected to the same privation which she imposed upon herself. My remonstrances, my prayers, my entreaties were of no avail.
“Love,” she said, “must be kept in check with a tight hand, and we can laugh at him, since, in spite of the tyranny which we force him to obey, we succeed all the same in gratifying our desires.”
After the first ecstacy, our eyes and lips unclosed together, and a little apart from each other we take delight in seeing the mutual satisfaction beaming on our features.
Our desires revive; she casts a look upon my state of innocence entirely exposed to her sight. She seems vexed at my want of excitement, and, throwing off everything which makes the heat unpleasant and interferes with our pleasure, she bounds upon me. It is more than amorous fury, it is desperate lust. I share her frenzy, I hug her with a sort of delirium, I enjoy a felicity which is on the point of carrying me to the regions of bliss…. but, at the very moment of completing the offering, she fails me, moves off, slips away, and comes back to work off my excitement with a hand which strikes me as cold as ice.
“Ah, thou cruel, beloved woman! Thou art burning with the fire of love, and thou deprivest thyself of the only remedy which could bring calm to thy senses! Thy lovely hand is more humane than thou art, but thou has not enjoyed the felicity that thy hand has given me. My hand must owe nothing to thine. Come, darling light of my heart, come! Love doubles my existence in the hope that I will die again, but only in that charming retreat from which you have ejected me in the very moment of my greatest enjoyment.”
While I was speaking thus, her very soul was breathing forth the most tender sighs of happiness, and as she pressed me tightly in her arms I felt that she was weltering in an ocean of bliss.
Silence lasted rather a long time, but that unnatural felicity was imperfect, and increased my excitement.
“How canst thou complain,” she said tenderly, “when it is to that very imperfection of our enjoyment that we are indebted for its continuance? I loved thee a few minutes since, now I love thee a thousand times more, and perhaps I should love thee less if thou hadst carried my enjoyment to its highest limit.”
“Oh! how much art thou mistaken, lovely one! How great is thy error! Thou art feeding upon sophisms, and thou leavest reality aside; I mean nature which alone can give real felicity. Desires constantly renewed and never fully satisfied are more terrible than the torments of hell.”
“But are not these desires happiness when they are always accompanied by hope?”
“No, if that hope is always disappointed. It becomes hell itself, because there is no hope, and hope must die when it is killed by constant deception.”
“Dearest, if hope does not exist in hell, desires cannot be found there either; for to imagine desires without hopes would be more than madness.”
“Well, answer me. If you desire to be mine entirely, and if you feel the hope of it, which, according to your way of reasoning, is a natural consequence, why do you always raise an impediment to your own hope? Cease, dearest, cease to deceive yourself by absurd sophisms. Let us be as happy as it is in nature to be, and be quite certain that the reality of happiness will increase our love, and that love will find a new life in our very enjoyment.”
“What I see proves the contrary; you are alive with excitement now, but if your desires had been entirely satisfied, you would be dead, benumbed, motionless. I know it by experience: if you had breathed the full ecstacy of enjoyment, as you desired, you would have found a weak ardour only at long intervals.”