The moon was shining, and I saw a church with a house adjoining, a long barn opened on both sides, a plain
of about one hundred yards confined by hills, and nothing more. I found
some straw in the barn, and laying myself down, I slept until day-break in
spite of the cold. It was the 1st of December, and although the climate is
very mild in Corfu I felt benumbed when I awoke, as I had no cloak over my
The bells begin to toll, and I proceed towards the church. The
long-bearded papa, surprised at my sudden apparition, enquires whether I
am Romeo (a Greek); I tell him that I am Fragico (Italian), but he turns
his back upon me and goes into his house, the door of which he shuts
without condescending to listen to me.
I then turned towards the sea, and saw a boat leaving a tartan lying at
anchor within one hundred yards of the island; the boat had four oars and
landed her passengers. I come up to them and meet a good-looking Greek, a
woman and a young boy ten or twelve years old. Addressing myself to the
Greek, I ask him whether he has had a pleasant passage, and where he comes
from. He answers in Italian that he has sailed from Cephalonia with his
wife and his son, and that he is bound for Venice; he had landed to hear
mass at the Church of Our Lady of Casopo, in order to ascertain whether
his father-in-law was still alive, and whether he would pay the amount he
had promised him for the dowry of his wife.
"But how can you find it out?"
"The Papa Deldimopulo will tell me; he will communicate faithfully the
oracle of the Holy Virgin." I say nothing and follow him into the church;
he speaks to the priest, and gives him some money. The papa says the mass,
enters the sanctum sanctorum, comes out again in a quarter of an hour,
ascends the steps of the altar, turns towards his audience, and, after
meditating for a minute and stroking his long beard, he delivers his
oracle in a dozen words. The Greek of Cephalonia, who certainly could not
boast of being as wise as Ulysses, appears very well pleased, and gives
more money to the impostor. We leave the church, and I ask him whether he
feels satisfied with the oracle.
"Oh! quite satisfied. I know now that my father-in-law is alive, and that
he will pay me the dowry, if I consent to leave my child with him. I am
aware that it is his fancy and I will give him the boy."
"Does the papa know you?"
"No; he is not even acquainted with my name."
"Have you any fine goods on board your tartan?"
"Yes; come and breakfast with me; you can see all I have."
Delighted at hearing that oracles were not yet defunct, and satisfied that
they will endure as long as there are in this world simple-minded men and
deceitful, cunning priests, I follow the good man, who took me to his
tartan and treated me to an excellent breakfast. His cargo consisted of
cotton, linen, currants, oil, and excellent wines. He had also a stock of
night-caps, stockings, cloaks in the Eastern fashion, umbrellas, and sea
biscuits, of which I was very fond; in those days I had thirty teeth, and
it would have been difficult to find a finer set. Alas! I have but two
left now, the other twenty-eight are gone with other tools quite as
precious; but 'dum vita super est, bene est.' I bought a small stock of
everything he had except cotton, for which I had no use, and without
discussing his price I paid him the thirty-five or forty sequins he
demanded, and seeing my generosity he made me a present of six beautiful
I happened during our conversation to praise the wine of Xante, which he
called generoydes, and he told me that if I would accompany him to Venice
he would give me a bottle of that wine every day including the quarantine.
Always superstitious, I was on the point of accepting, and that for the
most foolish reason-namely, that there would be no premeditation in that
strange resolution, and it might be the impulse of fate. Such was my
nature in those days; alas; it is very different now. They say that it is
because wisdom comes with old age, but I cannot reconcile myself to
cherish the effect of a most unpleasant cause.
Just as I was going to accept his offer he proposes to sell me a very fine
gun for ten sequins, saying that in Corfu anyone would be glad of it for
twelve. The word Corfu upsets all my ideas on the spot! I fancy I hear the
voice of my genius telling me to go back to that city. I purchase the gun
for the ten sequins, and my honest Cephalonian, admiring my fair dealing,
gives me, over and above our bargain, a beautiful Turkish pouch well
filled with powder and shot. Carrying my gun, with a good warm cloak over
my uniform and with a large bag containing all my purchases, I take leave
of the worthy Greek, and am landed on the shore, determined on obtaining a
lodging from the cheating papa, by fair means or foul. The good wine of my
friend the Cephalonian had excited me just enough to make me carry my
determination into immediate execution. I had in my pockets four or five
hundred copper gazzette, which were very heavy, but which I had procured
from the Greek, foreseeing that I might want them during my stay on the
I store my bag away in the barn and I proceed, gun in hand, towards the
house of the priest; the church was closed.
I must give my readers some idea of the state I was in at that moment. I
was quietly hopeless. The three or four hundred sequins I had with me did
not prevent me from thinking that I was not in very great security on the
island; I could not remain long, I would soon be found out, and, being
guilty of desertion, I should be treated accordingly. I did not know what
to do, and that is always an unpleasant predicament. It would be absurd
for me to return to Corfu of my own accord; my flight would then be
useless, and I should be thought a fool, for my return would be a proof of
cowardice or stupidity; yet I did not feel the courage to desert
altogether. The chief cause of my decision was not that I had a thousand
sequins in the hands of the faro banker, or my well-stocked wardrobe, or
the fear of not getting a living somewhere else, but the unpleasant
recollection that I should leave behind me a woman whom I loved to
adoration, and from whom I had not yet obtained any favour, not even that
of kissing her hand. In such distress of mind I could not do anything else
but abandon myself to chance, whatever the result might be, and the most
essential thing for the present was to secure a lodging and my daily food.
I knock at the door of the priest's dwelling. He looks out of a window and
shuts it without listening to me, I knock again, I swear, I call out
loudly, all in vain, Giving way to my rage, I take aim at a poor sheep
grazing with several others at a short distance, and kill it. The herdsman
begins to scream, the papa shows himself at the window, calling out,
"Thieves! Murder!" and orders the alarm-bell to be rung. Three bells are
immediately set in motion, I foresee a general gathering: what is going to
happen? I do not know, but happen what will, I load my gun and await
In less than eight or ten minutes, I see a crowd of peasants coming down
the hills, armed with guns, pitchforks, or cudgels: I withdraw inside of
the barn, but without the slightest fear, for I cannot suppose that,
seeing me alone, these men will murder me without listening to me.
The first ten or twelve peasants come forward, gun in hand and ready to
fire: I stop them by throwing down my gazzette, which they lose no time in
picking up from the ground, and I keep on throwing money down as the men
come forward, until I had no more left. The clowns were looking at each
other in great astonishment, not knowing what to make out of a
well-dressed young man, looking very peaceful, and throwing his money to
them with such generosity. I could not speak to them until the deafening
noise of the bells should cease. I quietly sit down on my large bag, and
keep still, but as soon as I can be heard I begin to address the men. The
priest, however, assisted by his beadle and by the herdsman, interrupts
me, and all the more easily that I was speaking Italian. My three enemies,
who talked all at once, were trying to excite the crowd against me.
One of the peasants, an elderly and reasonable-looking man, comes up to me
and asks me in Italian why I have killed the sheep.
"To eat it, my good fellow, but not before I have paid for it."
"But his holiness, the papa, might choose to charge one sequin for it."
"Here is one sequin."
The priest takes the money and goes away: war is over. The peasant tells
me that he has served in the campaign of 1716, and that he was at the
defence of Corfu. I compliment him, and ask him to find me a lodging and a
man able to prepare my meals. He answers that he will procure me a whole
house, that he will be my cook himself, but I must go up the hill. No
matter! He calls two stout fellows, one takes my bag, the other shoulders
my sheep, and forward! As we are walking along, I tell him,—
"My good man, I would like to have in my service twenty-four fellows like
these under military discipline. I would give each man twenty gazzette a
day, and you would have forty as my lieutenant."
"I will," says the old soldier, "raise for you this very day a body-guard
of which you will be proud."
We reach a very convenient house, containing on the ground floor three
rooms and a stable, which I immediately turned into a guard-room.
My lieutenant went to get what I wanted, and particularly a needlewoman to
make me some shirts. In the course of the day I had furniture, bedding,
kitchen utensils, a good dinner, twenty-four well-equipped soldiers, a
super-annuated sempstress and several young girls to make my shirts. After
supper, I found my position highly pleasant, being surrounded with some
thirty persons who looked upon me as their sovereign, although they could
not make out what had brought me to their island. The only thing which
struck me as disagreeable was that the young girls could not speak
Italian, and I did not know Greek enough to enable me to make love to
The next morning my lieutenant had the guard relieved, and I could not
help bursting into a merry laugh. They were like a flock of sheep: all
fine men, well-made and strong; but without uniform and without discipline
the finest band is but a herd. However, they quickly learned how to
present arms and to obey the orders of their officer. I caused three
sentinels to be placed, one before the guardroom, one at my door, and the
third where he could have a good view of the sea. This sentinel was to
give me warning of the approach of any armed boat or vessel. For the first
two or three days I considered all this as mere amusement, but, thinking
that I might really want the men to repel force by force, I had some idea
of making my army take an oath of allegiance. I did not do so, however,
although my lieutenant assured me that I had only to express my wishes,
for my generosity had captivated the love of all the islanders.
My sempstress, who had procured some young needlewomen to sew my shirts,
had expected that I would fall in love with one and not with all, but my
amorous zeal overstepped her hopes, and all the pretty ones had their
turn; they were all well satisfied with me, and the sempstress was
rewarded for her good offices. I was leading a delightful life, for my
table was supplied with excellent dishes, juicy mutton, and snipe so
delicious that I have never tasted their like except in St. Petersburg. I
drank scopolo wine or the best muscatel of the Archipelago. My lieutenant
was my only table companion. I never took a walk without him and two of my
body-guard, in order to defend myself against the attacks of a few young
men who had a spite against me because they fancied, not without some
reason, that my needlewomen, their mistresses, had left them on my
account. I often thought while I was rambling about the island, that
without money I should have been unhappy, and that I was indebted to my
gold for all the happiness I was enjoying; but it was right to suppose at
the same time that, if I had not felt my purse pretty heavy, I would not
have been likely to leave Corfu.
I had thus been playing the petty king with success for a week or ten
days, when, towards ten o'clock at night I heard the sentinel's challenge.
My lieutenant went out, and returned announcing that an honest-looking
man, who spoke Italian, wished to see me on important business. I had him
brought in, and, in the presence of my lieutenant, he told me in Italian:
"Next Sunday, the Papa Deldimopulo will fulminate against you the
'cataramonachia'. If you do not prevent him, a slow fever will send you
into the next world in six weeks."
"I have never heard of such a drug."
"It is not a drug. It is a curse pronounced by a priest with the Host in
his hands, and it is sure to be fulfilled."
"What reason can that priest have to murder me?"
"You disturb the peace and discipline of his parish. You have seduced
several young girls, and now their lovers refuse to marry them."
I made him drink, and thanking him heartily, wished him good night. His
warning struck me as deserving my attention, for, if I had no fear of the
'cataramonachia', in which I had not the slightest faith, I feared certain
poisons which might be by far more efficient. I passed a very quiet night,
but at day-break I got up, and without saying anything to my lieutenant, I
went straight to the church where I found the priest, and addressed him in
the following words, uttered in a tone likely to enforce conviction:
"On the first symptom of fever, I will shoot you like a dog. Throw over me
a curse which will kill me instantly, or make your will. Farewell!"
Having thus warned him, I returned to my royal palace. Early on the
following Monday, the papa called on me. I had a slight headache; he
enquired after my health, and when I told him that my head felt rather
heavy, he made me laugh by the air of anxiety with which he assured me
that it could be caused by nothing else than the heavy atmosphere of the
island of Casopo.
Three days after his visit, the advanced sentinel gave the war-cry. The
lieutenant went out to reconnoitre, and after a short absence he gave me
notice that the long boat of an armed vessel had just landed an officer.
Danger was at hand.
I go out myself, I call my men to arms, and, advancing a few steps, I see
an officer, accompanied by a guide, who was walking towards my dwelling.
As he was alone, I had nothing to fear. I return to my room, giving orders
to my lieutenant to receive him with all military honours and to introduce
him. Then, girding my sword, I wait for my visitor.
In a few minutes, Adjutant Minolto, the same who had brought me the order
to put myself under arrest, makes his appearance.
"You are alone," I say to him, "and therefore you come as a friend. Let us
"I must come as a friend, for, as an enemy, I should not have enough men.
But what I see seems a dream."
"Take a seat, and dine with me. I will treat you splendidly."
"Most willingly, and after dinner we will leave the island together."
"You may go alone, if you like; but I will not leave this place until I
have the certainty, not only that I shall not be sent to the 'bastarda',
but also that I shall have every satisfaction from the knave whom the
general ought to send to the galleys."
"Be reasonable, and come with me of your own accord. My orders are to take
you by force, but as I have not enough men to do so, I shall make my
report, and the general will, of course, send a force sufficient to arrest
"Never; I will not be taken alive."
"You must be mad; believe me, you are in the wrong. You have disobeyed the
order I brought you to go to the 'bastarda; in that you have acted
wrongly, and in that alone, for in every other respect you were perfectly
right, the general himself says so."
"Then I ought to have put myself under arrest?"
"Certainly; obedience is necessary in our profession."
"Would you have obeyed, if you had been in my place?"
"I cannot and will not tell you what I would have done, but I know that if
I had disobeyed orders I should have been guilty of a crime:"
"But if I surrendered now I should be treated like a criminal, and much
more severely than if I had obeyed that unjust order."
"I think not. Come with me, and you will know everything."
"What! Go without knowing what fate may be in store for me? Do not expect
it. Let us have dinner. If I am guilty of such a dreadful crime that
violence must be used against me, I will surrender only to irresistible
force. I cannot be worse off, but there may be blood spilled."
"You are mistaken, such conduct would only make you more guilty. But I say
like you, let us have dinner. A good meal will very likely render you more
disposed to listen to reason."
Our dinner was nearly over, when we heard some noise outside. The
lieutenant came in, and informed me that the peasants were gathering in
the neighbourhood of my house to defend me, because a rumour had spread
through the island that the felucca had been sent with orders to arrest me
and take me to Corfu. I told him to undeceive the good fellows, and to
send them away, but to give them first a barrel of wine.
The peasants went away satisfied, but, to shew their devotion to me, they
all fired their guns.
"It is all very amusing," said the adjutant, "but it will turn out very
serious if you let me go away alone, for my duty compels me to give an
exact account of all I have witnessed."
"I will follow you, if you will give me your word of honour to land me
free in Corfu."
"I have orders to deliver your person to M. Foscari, on board the
"Well, you shall not execute your orders this time."
"If you do not obey the commands of the general, his honour will compel
him to use violence against you, and of course he can do it. But tell me,
what would you do if the general should leave you in this island for the
sake of the joke? There is no fear of that, however, and, after the report
which I must give, the general will certainly make up his mind to stop the
affair without shedding blood."
"Without a fight it will be difficult to arrest me, for with five hundred
peasants in such a place as this I would not be afraid of three thousand
"One man will prove enough; you will be treated as a leader of rebels. All
these peasants may be devoted to you, but they cannot protect you against
one man who will shoot you for the sake of earning a few pieces of gold. I
can tell you more than that: amongst all those men who surround you there
is not one who would not murder you for twenty sequins. Believe me, go
with me. Come to enjoy the triumph which is awaiting you in Corfu. You
will be courted and applauded. You will narrate yourself all your mad
frolics, people will laugh, and at the same time will admire you for
having listened to reason the moment I came here. Everybody feels esteem
for you, and M. D—— R—— thinks a great deal of
you. He praises very highly the command you have shewn over your passion
in refraining from thrusting your sword through that insolent fool, in
order not to forget the respect you owed to his house. The general himself
must esteem you, for he cannot forget what you told him of that knave."
"What has become of him?"
"Four days ago Major Sardina's frigate arrived with dispatches, in which
the general must have found all the proof of the imposture, for he has
caused the false duke or prince to disappear very suddenly. Nobody knows
where he has been sent to, and nobody ventures to mention the fellow
before the general, for he made the most egregious blunder respecting
"But was the man received in society after the thrashing I gave him?"
"God forbid! Do you not recollect that he wore a sword? From that moment
no one would receive him. His arm was broken and his jaw shattered to
"But in spite of the state he was in, in spite of what he must have
suffered, his excellency had him removed a week after you had treated him
so severely. But your flight is what everyone has been wondering over. It
was thought for three days that M. D—— R—— had
concealed you in his house, and he was openly blamed for doing so. He had
to declare loudly at the general's table that he was in the most complete
ignorance of your whereabouts. His excellency even expressed his anxiety
about your escape, and it was only yesterday that your place of refuge was
made known by a letter addressed by the priest of this island to the
Proto-Papa Bulgari, in which he complained that an Italian officer had
invaded the island of Casopo a week before, and had committed unheard-of
violence. He accused you of seducing all the girls, and of threatening to
shoot him if he dared to pronounce 'cataramonachia' against you. This
letter, which was read publicly at the evening reception, made the general
laugh, but he ordered me to arrest you all the same."
"Madame Sagredo is the cause of it all."
"True, but she is well punished for it. You ought to call upon her with me
"To-morrow? Are you then certain that I shall not be placed under arrest?"
"Yes, for I know that the general is a man of honour."
"I am of the same opinion. Well, let us go on board your felucca. We will
embark together after midnight."
"Why not now?"
"Because I will not run the risk of spending the night on board M.
Foscari's bastarda. I want to reach Corfu by daylight, so as to make your
victory more brilliant."
"But what shall we do for the next eight hours?"
"We will pay a visit to some beauties of a species unknown in Corfu, and
have a good supper."
I ordered my lieutenant to send plenty to eat and to drink to the men on
board the felucca, to prepare a splendid supper, and to spare nothing, as
I should leave the island at midnight. I made him a present of all my
provisions, except such as I wanted to take with me; these I sent on
board. My janissaries, to whom I gave a week's pay, insisted upon
escorting me, fully equipped, as far as the boat, which made the adjutant
laugh all the way.
We reached Corfu by eight o'clock in the morning, and we went alongside
the 'bastarda. The adjutant consigned me to M. Foscari, assuring me that
he would immediately give notice of my arrival to M. D—— R——-,
send my luggage to his house, and report the success of his expedition to
M. Foscari, the commander of the bastarda, treated me very badly. If he
had been blessed with any delicacy of feeling, he would not have been in
such a hurry to have me put in irons. He might have talked to me, and have
thus delayed for a quarter of an hour that operation which greatly vexed
me. But, without uttering a single word, he sent me to the 'capo di scalo'
who made me sit down, and told me to put my foot forward to receive the
irons, which, however, do not dishonour anyone in that country, not even
the galley slaves, for they are better treated than soldiers.
My right leg was already in irons, and the left one was in the hands of
the man for the completion of that unpleasant ceremony, when the adjutant
of his excellency came to tell the executioner to set me at liberty and to
return me my sword. I wanted to present my compliments to the noble M.
Foscari, but the adjutant, rather ashamed, assured me that his excellency
did not expect me to do so. The first thing I did was to pay my respects
to the general, without saying one word to him, but he told me with a
serious countenance to be more prudent for the future, and to learn that a
soldier's first duty was to obey, and above all to be modest and discreet.
I understood perfectly the meaning of the two last words, and acted
When I made my appearance at M. D—— R——-'s, I
could see pleasure on everybody's face. Those moments have always been so
dear to me that I have never forgotten them, they have afforded me
consolation in the time of adversity. If you would relish pleasure you
must endure pain, and delights are in proportion to the privations we have
suffered. M. D—— R—— was so glad to see me that he
came up to me and warmly embraced me. He presented me with a beautiful
ring which he took from his own finger, and told me that I had acted quite
rightly in not letting anyone, and particularly himself, know where I had
"You can't think," he added, frankly, "how interested Madame F——
was in your fate. She would be really delighted if you called on her
How delightful to receive such advice from his own lips! But the word
"immediately" annoyed me, because, having passed the night on board the
felucca, I was afraid that the disorder of my toilet might injure me in
her eyes. Yet I could neither refuse M. D—— R——-,
nor tell him the reason of my refusal, and I bethought myself that I could
make a merit of it in the eyes of Madame F—— I therefore went
at once to her house; the goddess was not yet visible, but her attendant
told me to come in, assuring me that her mistress's bell would soon be
heard, and that she would be very sorry if I did not wait to see her. I
spent half an hour with that young and indiscreet person, who was a very
charming girl, and learned from her many things which caused me great
pleasure, and particularly all that had been said respecting my escape. I
found that throughout the affair my conduct had met with general
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As soon as Madame F—— had seen her maid, she desired me to be
shewn in. The curtains were drawn aside, and I thought I saw Aurora
surrounded with the roses and the pearls of morning. I told her that, if
it had not been for the order I received from M. D—— R——
I would not have presumed to present myself before her in my travelling
costume; and in the most friendly tone she answered that M. D——
R——-, knowing all the interest she felt in me, had been quite
right to tell me to come, and she assured me that M. D—— R——-
had the greatest esteem for me.
"I do not know, madam, how I have deserved such great happiness, for all I
dared aim at was toleration."
"We all admired the control you kept over your feelings when you refrained
from killing that insolent madman on the spot; he would have been thrown
out of the window if he had not beat a hurried retreat."
"I should certainly have killed him, madam, if you had not been present."
"A very pretty compliment, but I can hardly believe that you thought of me
in such a moment."
I did not answer, but cast my eyes down, and gave a deep sigh. She
observed my new ring, and in order to change the subject of conversation
she praised M. D—— R——- very highly, as soon as I
had told her how he had offered it to me. She desired me to give her an
account of my life on the island, and I did so, but allowed my pretty
needlewomen to remain under a veil, for I had already learnt that in this
world the truth must often remain untold.
All my adventures amused her much, and she greatly admired my conduct.
"Would you have the courage," she said, "to repeat all you have just told
me, and exactly in the same terms, before the proveditore-generale?"
"Most certainly, madam, provided he asked me himself."
"Well, then, prepare to redeem your promise. I want our excellent general
to love you and to become your warmest protector, so as to shield you
against every injustice and to promote your advancement. Leave it all to
Her reception fairly overwhelmed me with happiness, and on leaving her
house I went to Major Maroli to find out the state of my finances. I was
glad to hear that after my escape he had no longer considered me a partner
in the faro bank. I took four hundred sequins from the cashier, reserving
the right to become again a partner, should circumstances prove at any
In the evening I made a careful toilet, and called for the Adjutant
Minolto in order to pay with him a visit to Madame Sagredo, the general's
favourite. With the exception of Madame F—— she was the
greatest beauty of Corfu. My visit surprised her, because, as she had been
the cause of all that had happened, she was very far from expecting it.
She imagined that I had a spite against her. I undeceived her, speaking to
her very candidly, and she treated me most kindly, inviting me to come now
and then to spend the evening at her house.
But I neither accepted nor refused her amiable invitation, knowing that
Madame F—— disliked her; and how could I be a frequent guest
at her house with such a knowledge! Besides, Madame Sagredo was very fond
of gambling, and, to please her, it was necessary either to lose or make
her win, but to accept such conditions one must be in love with the lady
or wish to make her conquest, and I had not the slightest idea of either.
The Adjutant Minolto never played, but he had captivated the lady's good
graces by his services in the character of Mercury.
When I returned to the palace I found Madame F—— alone, M. D——
R—— being engaged with his correspondence. She asked me to sit
near her, and to tell her all my adventures in Constantinople. I did so,
and I had no occasion to repent it. My meeting with Yusuf's wife pleased
her extremely, but the bathing scene by moonlight made her blush with
excitement. I veiled as much as I could the too brilliant colours of my
picture, but, if she did not find me clear, she would oblige me to be more
explicit, and if I made myself better understood by giving to my recital a
touch of voluptuousness which I borrowed from her looks more than from my
recollection, she would scold me and tell me that I might have disguised a
little more. I felt that the way she was talking would give her a liking
for me, and I was satisfied that the man who can give birth to amorous
desires is easily called upon to gratify them it was the reward I was
ardently longing for, and I dared to hope it would be mine, although I
could see it only looming in the distance.
It happened that, on that day, M. D—— R—— had
invited a large company to supper. I had, as a matter of course, to
engross all conversation, and to give the fullest particulars of all that
had taken place from the moment I received the order to place myself under
arrest up to the time of my release from the 'bastarda'. M. Foscari was
seated next to me, and the last part of my narrative was not, I suppose,
particularly agreeable to him.
The account I gave of my adventures pleased everybody, and it was decided
that the proveditore-generale must have the pleasure of hearing my tale
from my own lips. I mentioned that hay was very plentiful in Casopo, and
as that article was very scarce in Corfu, M. D—— R——
told me that I ought to seize the opportunity of making myself agreeable
to the general by informing him of that circumstance without delay. I
followed his advice the very next day, and was very well received, for his
excellency immediately ordered a squad of men to go to the island and
bring large quantities of hay to Corfu.
A few days later the Adjutant Minolto came to me in the coffee-house, and
told me that the general wished to see me: this time I promptly obeyed his