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Complete Memoirs of Casanova

The False Nun
CHAPTER XXI
Supper at My Casino With M. M. and M. de Bernis, the French Ambassador--A Proposal
from M. M.; I Accept It--Consequences--C. C. is Unfaithful to Me, and I Cannot
Complain
I felt highly pleased with the supper-party I had arranged with M---- M----, and I ought to
have been happy. Yet I was not so; but whence came the anxiety which was a torment to
me? Whence? From my fatal habit of gambling. That passion was rooted in me; to live
and to play were to me two identical things, and as I could not hold the bank I would go
and punt at the ridotto, where I lost my money morning and night. That state of things
made me miserable. Perhaps someone will say to me:
"Why did you play, when there was no need of it, when you were in want of nothing,
when you had all the money you could wish to satisfy your fancies?"
That would be a troublesome question if I had not made it a law to tell the truth. Well,
then, dear inquisitive reader, if I played with almost the certainty of losing, although no
one, perhaps, was more sensible than I was to the losses made in gambling, it is because I
had in me the evil spirit of avarice; it is because I loved prodigality, and because my heart
bled when I found myself compelled to spend any money that I had not won at the
gaming-table. It is an ugly vice, dear reader, I do not deny it. However, all I can say is
that, during the four days previous to the supper, I lost all the gold won for me by M----
M----
On the anxiously-expected day I went to my casino, where at the appointed hour M----
M---- came with her friend, whom she introduced to me as soon as he had taken off his
mask.
"I had an ardent wish, sir," said M. de Bernis to me, "to renew acquaintance with you,
since I heard from madame that we had known each other in Paris."
With these words he looked at me attentively, as people will do when they are trying to
recollect a person whom they have lost sight of. I then told him that we had never spoken
to one another, and that he had not seen enough of me to recollect my features now.
"I had the honour," I added, "to dine with your excellency at M. de Mocenigo's house, but
you talked all the time with Marshal Keith, the Prussian ambassador, and I was not
fortunate enough to attract your attention. As you were on the point of leaving Paris to
return to Venice, you went away almost immediately after dinner, and I have never had
the honour of seeing you since that time."
 
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