The older I grew the more I became attached to the intellectual charms of women. With the sensualist, the contrary takes place; he becomes more material in his old age: requires women well taught in Venus’s shrines, and flies from all mention of philosophy.
In accordance with the plot I had laid against the count, I began by shewing myself demonstratively fond of Betty, envying the fortunate lover, praising his heroic behaviour in leaving her to me, and so forth.
The silly fellow proceeded to back me up in my extravagant admiration. He boasted that jealousy was utterly foreign to his character, and maintained that the true lover would accustom himself to see his mistress inspire desires in other men.
He proceeded to make a long dissertation on this theme, and I let him go on, for I was waiting till after supper to come to the conclusive point.
“I believe you, and I see that I must make haste to leave Naples, if I would not be the most unhappy of men.”
“What do you mean?”
“I should love you without the hope of possessing you, and thus I should be most unhappy.”
“Love me then, and stay. Try and make me love you. Only you must moderate your ecstacies, for I cannot love a man who cannot exercise self-restraint.”
“As just now, for instance?”
“Yes. If you calm yourself I shall think you do so for my sake, and thus love will tread close on the heels of gratitude.”