Even the lovely Fanny, whom I in this place again encountered, honored me with some notice without recollecting ever to have seen me before; for I now had wit and sense. As I spoke, people listened, and I could not, for the life of me, comprehend myself how I had arrived at the art of maintaining and engrossing so easily the conversation. The impression which I perceived that I had made on the fair one, made of me just what she desired—a fool; and I thenceforward followed her through shade and twilight wherever I could. I was only so far vain that I wished to make her vain of myself, and found it impossible, even with the very best intentions, to force the intoxication from my head to my heart.
But why repeat to thee the absolutely every-day story at length? Thou thyself hast often related it to me of other honorable people. To the old, well-known play in which I good-naturedly undertook a worn-out part, there came in truth to her and me, and everybody, unexpectedly a most peculiarly thought-out catastrophe.
As, according to my wont, I had assembled on a beautiful evening a party in a garden, I wandered with the lady, arm in arm, at some distance from the other guests, and exerted myself to strike out pretty speeches for her. She cast her eyes down modestly, and returned gently the pressure of my hand, when suddenly the moon broke through the clouds behind us, and—she saw only her own shadow thrown forward before her! She started and glanced wildly at me, then again on the earth, seeking my shadow with her eyes, and what passed within her painted itself so singularly on her countenance that I should have burst into a loud laugh if it had not itself run ice-cold over my back.
I let her fall from my arms in a swoon, shot like an arrow through the terrified guests, reached the door, flung myself into the first chaise which I saw on the stand, and drove back to the city, where this time, to my cost, I had left the circumspect Bendel. He was terrified as he saw me; one word revealed to him all. Post horses were immediately fetched. I took only one of my people with me, an arrant knave, called Rascal, who had contrived to make himself necessary to me by his cleverness and who could suspect nothing of today’s occurrence. That night I left upward of thirty miles behind me. Bendel remained behind me to discharge my establishment, to pay money, and to bring me what I most required. When he overtook me next day, I threw myself into his arms, and swore to him never again to run into the like folly, but in future to be more cautious. We continued our journey without pause, over the frontiers and the mountains, and it was not till we began to descend and had placed those lofty bulwarks between us and our former unlucky abode, that I allowed myself to be persuaded to rest from the fatigues I had undergone, in a neighboring and little frequented Bathing-place.