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(The manuscript is in very poor condition. Many pages are missing or illegible. However, it is possible to make out some paragraphs.)
"Born into squalor, I have lived a life of debauchery, depredation and crime. It had been glorious. My youth was the usual series of petty thefts lived by all my companions in the northern reaches of Paris. At the age of fifteen, things took an unusual turn during the burglary of a charming mansion ..."
(Two pages are scorched beyond readability.)
"... lest you assume that Mme de N-- played the knowing temptress Delilah to my innocent Samson, know I seized upon all temptations as a matter of honor. This particular one was simply more delightful than any I had known. Mme de N-- instructed me in the arts of pleasure. 'You are by no means handsome,' she told me severely. 'Therefore, your weapon must be charm. Use it in abundance. Like wine, no one ever believes they have imbibed too much.' My craggy scar and smashed nose, heretofore regarded as defects, became features that marked me apart. A crooked smile and engaging manner carried me much further than many a more well-formed swain. A gentle witticism can gain entry to unimagined ..."
(Several sentences are smudged with ash.)
"She taught me also how to extract the fruit of an orange from within by way of a small slice to its covering. This skill proved to be of astonishing use. In fact, the priest banned me from the confessional - the details of my sins were too licentious for his shell-pink ears. I was consigned to sin and sin again (and again!) without hope of redemption."
(Here, a number of pages are too stained and torn to be read.)
"... we cornered the carriage on the road to Arras. Three dukes smoking within. Three dukes foolish enough to carry far too much silver and finery. Such a large bounty was not to be hoarded! The nobles continued their journey on foot in their underclothes, while we shared and spent their riches among the villagers and thus made allies along the route. Allies that were to prove useful throughout my life ..."
(Here the bulk of the manuscript appears to have been simply lost. It recommences in the midst of Cartouche's famous public execution.)
"... searched the wild crowd for familiar faces and, you can be sure, there were some. Creased into their features, a mixed reaction to my plight and humiliation, for, dear reader, the human creature is given to many emotions, all contending for expression at the same instant. Indeed, it is rare that a simple emotion reigns in a human heart. And there, in those faces, faces of many I had helped in times of need, many who had thieved and briganded at my side, I discerned two humours vying for supremacy. The first - an anxious desire to help me and relieve me of my distress, perhaps even to live my punishment for me. However, the other emotion detected was of a darker hue - the desire to see a man torn to shreds; the desire for blood, pain and death. Even friends can lament one's loss and still revel in the gory spectacle. Such is the human animal."
(This section of the memoir breaks off here.)