The Greatest Love of Don Juan

The Devil’s primest fare is innocence.


‘He is still alive then, that hoary old reprobate?’

‘Still alive! I should rather think he was—by God’s grace,’ I took care to add, remembering Madame’s piety, ‘and of the most distinguished and aristocratic parish of Sainte-Clotilde—Le roi est mort! vive le roi! is what they used to say under the old monarchy, in the days when their fine old piece of Sèvres porcelain was yet unbroken. But Don Juan, in spite of all your democracies, is a monarch they will never break.’

‘Yes! yes! no doubt the Devil is among the immortal!’ she returned in a self-approving tone.

‘As a matter of fact, he…’

‘Who?…the Devil?…’

‘No! no! Don Juan. He supped, I say, only three days ago in pleasant company.…Guess where.…’

‘At your horrid Maison d’Or, of course.…’

‘My dear madame! Don Juan never goes there now…they’ve no fish fit to fry for his highness’s palate. The Señor Don Juan has always been a bit like Arnold of Brescia’s famous monk who, the chronicles tell us, lived only on the blood of souls. That is what he loves to colour his champagne with, and it’s many a long day since it was to be had at the rendezvous of the commonplace cocotte!’

‘You’ll be telling me next,’ she interrupted, in the ironic vein, ‘he supped at the Benedictine nunnery with the holy ladies.…’

‘Yes! ladies of the Perpetual Adoration; why, certainly, madame. For indeed I do think the adoration he has once inspired, our redoubtable Lovelace, seems to last for good and all.’

‘And I think that for a good Catholic you are a trifle profane, sir!’—this she said slowly, but not without a touch of irritation—‘and I must beg you to spare me the details of your naughty suppers. I suppose this is a new way of telling me about your disreputable lady friends, this harping on Don Juan and his doings to-night.’

‘I merely state the facts, madame. The disreputable persons present at the supper in question, if they are disreputable, are not my friends at all…unfortunately…’

‘Enough! enough!’

‘Forgive my modest disclaimer.…They were…’

‘The mille e tre?…’ she interrupted again, thinking better of it, and all but recovering her good temper under the stress of curiosity.

‘Oh! not all of them.…A round dozen merely. With as many as that, nothing could be more respectable, you know.’

‘Or more disreputable,’ she put in tartly.

‘Besides, you know as well as I do the Comtesse de Chiffrevas’s boudoir will not hold a crowd. Everything was done that could be done; but, after all, it’s only a small room, her boudoir.’

‘What!’—raising her voice in astonishment. ‘They had supper in the boudoir?’

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