The very evening I arrived, I went to visit Monsieur Louis de Franchi; he had gone out.
I left my card, with a line informing him that I had arrived direct from Sullacaro, and that I was the bearer of a letter for him from his brother Lucien. I requested him to name his time, adding that I had pledged my word to deliver this letter personally.
In conducting me to the cabinet of his master, where I had to write this note, the servant led me through the dining room and parlor. I gazed round with a curiosity which every one will easily understand. I recognized the same tastes which I had already noticed at Sullacaro, only they were more refined by Parisian elegance. Monsieur de Franchi appeared to have a delightful bachelor residence.
The following day, while I was dressing, that is to say, about eleven o’clock in the morning, my servant announced Monsieur de Franchi. I gave orders to have him ushered into the salon, to offer him the papers, and inform him that in a moment I would be at his service. I
Indeed, in five minutes after, I entered the salon.
At the noise which I made, Monsieur de Franchi, who, no doubt out of courtesy, was reading one of my feuilletons, published at that time in the papers, raised his head.
I remained petrified with his resemblance to his brother.
“Monsieur,” said he, “I could hardly believe in my good fortune yesterday, while reading the little note which my servant handed me when I came home. I made him repeat the description of your person ten times, in order to ascertain if it corresponded with your portraits. At last, this morning in my double impatience to thank you, and to receive news from my family, I have introduced myself here, without having consulted the hour much; I am therefore afraid I have been too early.”
“I beg your pardon,” replied I, “for not answering your agreeable compliment at first; but I declare, that looking at you, I have to ask myself if it is to Monsieur Louis or to Monsieur Lucien de Franchi that I have the honor of addressing myself.”
“Yes, in truth, the resemblance is great,” continued he, smiling, “and when I was at Sullacaro, my brother and myself were the only persons who did not mistake us. However, since I left, he has not abandoned his Corsican habits; you must have seen him constantly in a dress which produces some difference between us.”
“Ah! truly,” replied I; “but by chance it happened that when I left him he was dressed exactly like you, with the exception only of white pantaloons, which are not yet in season at Paris. So I have not even to separate your resemblance from my remembrance of him on account of the difference in dress of which you speak. But,” continued I, taking the letter out of my pocket-book, “I can understand your haste to receive news from your family; therefore take this letter, which I should have left here yesterday, had I not promised Madame De Franchi to deliver it personally.”
“And you have left every body in good health?”
“Yes, but in uneasiness.”
“About you. But pray read the letter.”
“You permit me?”
“How can you ask?”
Monsieur de Franchi unsealed the letter, while I was preparing cigarettes. Meanwhile, I regarded him attentively while he glanced rapidly over the fraternal missive. From time to time he smiled, exclaiming, “This dear Louis! Ah! this good mother! Yes — I understand!”
I had not yet recovered from this strange resemblance; however, as Lucien had told me, I observed a greater delicacy in the complexion of Louis, and a much more correct pronunciation of the French language.
“Well,” began I, when he had finished, offering him a cigarette, which he lighted at mine, “you have seen there what I have already told you, that your family are uneasy about you, and I see with pleasure they have been wrong.”
“No,” said he, with sadness, “not altogether wrong. It is true, I have not been sick, but I have had sorrow; a violent one even, which I confess was augmented by the idea that while I was suffering here, I caused my brother to suffer at home.”
“Monsieur Lucien has already told me what you mention now. But really, to make me believe that so extraordinary a thing was true, and not merely a prepossession of his mind, I needed nothing less than the proof I have received this moment. So you are yourself convinced that the uneasiness your brother felt in Corsica, was in consequence of your state of suffering here?”
“Yes, sir, perfectly.”
“Then, as your answer in the affirmative has had the effect of doubly interesting me in all that happens to you, permit me to ask, not out of curiosity, but from the interest I feel in you, if the grief of which you spoke just now has not passed away, and if you are not in the way to receive consolation?”
“Alas! You know, sir, that the most violent grief becomes deadened by time, and if no fatality occurs to irritate the wound of my heart, well! then it may bleed a little longer, and finally become seared. Meanwhile, receive again all my thanks, and grant me from time to time the permission to call upon you, and talk about Sullacaro.”
“With the greatest pleasure,” replied I; “but why do we not this very moment continue a conversation which is as agreeable to me as it is to yourself? Hold! there comes my servant to inform me that breakfast is ready; do me the favor of eating a cutlet with me, and then we can talk at our ease.”
“Impossible! to my deep regret. I received yesterday a letter from the Lord Chancellor, who has invited me to pass to-day at noon at the Ministry of Justice; and you well know that I, a poor little sprig of a lawyer, cannot let such a great personage wait.”
“Ah! but it is probably about the affair between the Orlandini and the Colonna that he sends for you.”
“I presume so; and as my brother informs me that the quarrel is terminated —”
“Before the Notary I can give you very certain news on the subject; I have signed the contract as one of Orlandini’s witnesses.”
“Yes; my brother says something about that.”
“But see here,” continued he, drawing out his watch, “it is only a few minutes before noon; I must go and inform the Lord Chancellor that my brother has fulfilled my word.”
“Oh! religiously! — I’ll warrant you.”
“That dear Lucien! I knew that, notwithstanding it did not agree with his views, he would do it.”
“Yes; and you must give him credit for it — for I assure you it has cost him dear.”
“We will speak of that again, for, believe me, it affords me the greatest happiness to behold again, in the mind’s eye at least, my mother, my brother, my country! So, if you’ll tell me your hour —”
“That is rather difficult just now. During the first few days after my return, I am going to be something of a vagabond. But tell me where I can find you?”
“Listen,” said he; “to-morrow is Mid-Lent, is it not?”
“Do you go to the ball of the Opera?”
“Yes, and no. Yes, if you ask me that to give me a rendezvous there; no — if I have no other interest to go there.”
“I, for my part, shall have to go. I am obliged to go there.”
“Ah! ha!” said I, with a smile;
“I see, as you said awhile ago, that time blunts the most poignant griefs, and I have no doubt that the wound of your heart will soon become healed.”
“You are mistaken, for I am probably going to seek there new torments.”
“Don’t go, then.”
“Who in this world does what he wishes to do? I am carried away in spite of myself; I go where fate impels me. It would be better not to go; I know it — but, nevertheless, I shall go!”
“Then, till to-morrow! — at the Opera!”
“At what hour’”
“At half-past twelve — if you will.”
“In the green-room, at one o’clock. I have a rendezvous before the pendule!“
We shook hands, and he went rapidly out. Soon after it struck twelve.
As for me, I occupied my whole afternoon and the following day with all those visits indispensable in a man who has made a journey of eighteen months.
At half-past twelve o’clock, on the appointed day, I was at the rendezvous.
Louis kept me waiting some time. He had followed in the corridor a mask, which he thought he recognized; but the mask had lost itself in the crowd, and he could not meet with it again.
I began to speak of Corsica, but Louis was too much disturbed to follow so grave a subject of conversation. His eyes were constantly fixed on the pendule, and suddenly he left me, exclaiming —
“Ah! there is my bouquet of violets!“
And he plunged into the crowd, in order to approach a female who held an enormous bunch of violets in her hand.
As, fortunately for the promenaders, there was in the green-room plenty of bouquets, I was soon accosted myself by a bunch of camelias, which was kind enough to compliment me on my happy return to Paris.
The bunch of camelias was soon followed by a bunch of large roses.
At last I was just at my fifth bunch, when I met Dujarrier.
“Ah! is that you, mon cher?” said he, “welcome! You arrive in marvelous good time. We take supper this evening at my house, with this one, and that one,"— he named to me three or four of our mutual friends —“and we depend on you.”
“A thousand thanks, mon cher,” replied I; “notwithstanding my great desire to accept your invitation, I cannot do it, as I have some one with me.
“But it seems to me a matter of course that every one has a right to bring his partner along. It is perfectly well understood that there will be on the table six water bottles, for the purpose of keeping the bouquets fresh.”
“Ah! my dear friend, you are mistaken. I have no bunch of flowers for your decanters; I am with a male friend.”
“Well, but you know the proverb, ‘the friend of our friends —’ ”
“He is a young man whom you do not know.”
“Well, we shall become acquainted.”
“I shall propose him this good fortune.”
“Yes; and if he refuses, bring him by force.”
“I’ll do what I can — I promise you. And what is your supper hour?”
“Three o’clock; but as it will last till six, you will have some grace.”
A bunch of myosotis, who had probably overheard the last part of our conversation, suddenly took hold of D—’s arm, and disappeared with him.
A few minutes after, I met Louis again, who had in all probability finished with his bouquet of violets.
As my domino was of rather a slender capacity, I sent it to tease one of my friends, and took Louis’ arm.
“Well,” began I, “did you learn what you wanted to know?”
“Mon Dieu! yes! you know that generally at a masquerade ball we are often told things which we had rather not know?”
“My poor friend,” said I; “pardon me for giving you that name, but it seems to me as if I had known you ever since I first saw your brother. Let us see; you feel unhappy, do you? What is the matter?”
“Nothing worth relating.”
I saw that he wished to keep his secret, and I was silent.
We walked round two or three times in silence; I, rather indifferent, for I expected nobody; he, all the time on the look-out, and examining every domino which passed within reach of our sight.
“Look here,” said I; “do you know what you ought to do?”
He trembled like a man who is forcibly diverted from his pain.
“Me? No! What did you say? Pardon me!”
“I am going to propose a diversion to you, which I think you need.”
“What is it 1”
“Come and take supper with me at the house of a friend of mine.”
“Oh, no! I am afraid I should be too dull a companion.”
“Bah! you’ll hear some folies, and that will cheer you up.”
“Besides, I am not invited.”
“That’s where you are mistaken; you are invited.”
“That is certainly very kind in your amphytrion, but, on my honor, I don’t feel worthy.”
At this moment we came across Dujarrier; he seemed very much engrossed with his bouquet of myosotis. Nevertheless he noticed me.
“Well,” said he, “it is all settled, is it not?”
“Till three o’clock.”
“Less agreed than ever, mon cher ami, I can’t be of your company.”
“Go to the devil then.”
And he continued his walk.
“Who is that gentleman?” asked Louis, evidently only to say something
“Why, that’s Dujarrier, one of our friends, a fellow of great mind, although he is editor of one of our first papers.”
“Monsieur Dujarrier!” exclaimed Louis; “Monsieur Dujarrier! You are acquainted with him’”
“Certainly I am; for two or three years past I have been in relations of interest, and especially of friendship with him.”
“It is with him you intend taking supper to-night?”
“Then it was to his house that you offered to take me?”
“Ah! that’s quite another thing; I accept your invitation then. Yes, I accept it with great pleasure.”
“Very well. I have not gained your consent without some difficulty.”
“Perhaps I ought not to go there,” replied Louis, smiling sadly; “but you know what I told you the day before yesterday; we go not where we ought to go, but where fate drives us; and the proof of this is that I would have done better not to have come here this evening.”
At this moment we crossed Dujarrier again.
“My dear friend,” said I, “I have changed my mind.”
“And you are of our party tonight?”
“Brave! But I have to tell you of another circumstance.”
“What is it?”
“Whoever takes supper with us tonight, must do so again the day after tomorrow.”
“By virtue of what law?”
“Merely on account of a bet made with Château-Renaud.”
I felt Louis tremble with excessive agitation, his arm being within mine. I turned round, but although his face was rather paler than before, his features remained unmoved.
“And pray what is the object of this bet?” continued I, speaking to Dujarrier.
“Oh! that would take too long to tell you here. Besides, there is a person here, interested in this bet, who could make him lose, if she overheard it spoken of.”
“Excellent! Till three o’clock then?”
“Till three o’clock.”
We separated once more. In passing before the pendule I gave a glance at the dial; it was thirty-five minutes past two.
“Are you acquainted with Monsieur de Château-Renaud?” asked Louis in a voice the emotion of which he vainly tried to dissimulate.
“By sight only; I have sometimes met with him in society.”
“He is then not one of your friends?”
“He is not even an acquaintance of mine.”
“Ah! so much the better,” said Louis.
“But you, do you know him?”
“Indirectly, I do.”
Notwithstanding the evasive character of his answer, I could easily perceive that there existed between Monsieur de Franchi and Monsieur de Château-Renaud, one of those mysterious relations, the conductor of which is a woman. An instinctive feeling told me it would be better for my companion that we should both return home.
“Now see here, Mons. de Franchi, began I, “will you believe in my advice?”
“What is it? speak!”
“Let us not go to D’s to supper.”
“But why not? does he not expect us? and have you not told him already that you would bring me along?”
“Certainly I have, but that is not my reason.”
“What is it, then?”
“Because I merely think it would be better for us not to go there.”
“But, finally, you have a reason for thus changing your mind; awhile ago you insisted upon taking me there almost in spite of myself.”
“We should only meet Monsieur de Château-Renaud.”
“So much the better. He is said to be very agreeable, and I would be delighted to make a more intimate acquaintance with him.”
“Well then, be it so,” replied I.
“We will go then because you wish it.”
We went down stairs to get our paletots. Monsieur Dujarrier lived only a few doors from the opera house. It was delightful weather, and as I thought the fresh air mould serve to calm the mind of my companion a little, I proposed taking a short walk, to which he assented.
We found in the salon several of my friends, loungers of the green-room of the opera, tenants of that infernal box of B. — L. — V. — A A. Besides, as I had suspected, two or three dominos unmasked, keeping their bouquets of flowers in their hands, waiting for the moment of placing them in the decanters.
I introduced Louis de Franchi to one and another; he was of course politely received by all of them.
In about ten minutes after Dujarrier arrived, in his turn, introducing the bouquet of myosotis, who took her mask off with an abandon and ease, which indicated first the beautiful woman, and then one accustomed to this kind of society.
I presented M. de Franchi to Dujarrier.
“Now,” said one of the guests, M. de B., “if the introductions are all over, I propose that we sit down to supper.”
“All the introductions are made, but all the guests have not yet arrived,” said Dujarrier.
“And who is to come yet?”
“Château-Renaud has not arrived yet.”
“ Ah! that’s true, is there not a bet pending?” asked V.
“Yes, the bet is a supper for twelve persons, that he will not bring a certain lady, whom he has pledged himself to bring here.”
“And, pray, who is this lady,” asked the bouquet of myosotis, “who is so shy as to be the object of such bets?”
I looked at de Franchi; he was apparently calm, but as pale as death.
“Upon my soul,” said Dujarrier, “I don’t think it would be a great indiscretion to give the name of the mask, especially as in all probability you don’t know her. It is Madame —” Louis put his hand on D’s arm.
“Sir,” said he to him, “for the sake of our new acquaintance, grant me one favor.”
“What is it?”
“Do not name the person who is coming with Mons. Château-Renaud; you know that she is a married lady.”
“Yes, but her husband is at Smyrna, in the Indies, at Mexico, or I don’t know where; and you know that when a husband is so far away it is just as good as if he were no longer in existence.”
“Her husband will be back in a few days. I know him: he is an honorable man, and I wish, if possible, to save him the grief of learning on his return, that his wife has committed an indiscretion of this kind.”
“In that case, excuse me, sir,” said D., I was ignorant of your acquaintance with this lady; I was not even aware that she was married. But as you know her and know her husband too —”
“I know him.”
“We shall act with the greatest discretion. Ladies and gentlemen, M. Château-Renaud may, or may not come; he may come alone, or accompanied by in all cases, I request you to keep this a lady — he may lose, or not lose his bet; in all cases I request you to keep this adventure secret.”
They all with one voice promised, as he requested; probably not from a very deep sentiment of social propriety, but because every body was very hungry, and consequently desirous of sitting down to supper.”
“Thank you, sir,” said de Franchi to Dujarrier, offering him his hand; “I assure you that you have acted like a gallant man.”
We passed out into the salle à manger, and each one took his seat. Two places remained vacant; those of Château-Renaud and the lady who was to accompany him.
The servant was about taking these two covers away —
“No,” said the master of the house, “let them remain, “Mons. Château-Renaud has time till four o’clock. At that hour you may remove them, he will have lost his bet.”
I did not lose sight of M. de Franchi. I saw him glancing at the pendule, it wanted twenty minutes to four.
“Is your time right?” asked Louis carelessly.
“That’s not my business,” answered Dujarrier, laughing, “Château-Renaud must look to that! I have regulated my pendule after his watch, so that he cannot complain of having been mistaken in the time.”
“Ah! gentlemen,” said the bouquet of myosotis, ”pour Dieu, since it is forbidden, do not let us speak any more of Château-Renaud and his fair inconnue, for we are about falling into symbols, allegories and enigmas, which with your permission are horribly ennuyeux.’,
“You are right, Est —” replied V., “there are many ladies of whom we can speak, and who don’t wish any thing better than to be spoken of.”
“To their health!” said Dujarrier.
The glasses were filling with iced Champagne. Each guest had his bottle at hand.
I noticed that Louis only touched his glass slightly with his lips.
“But drink,” said I to him, “you see well enough that he will not come.”
“It is yet a quarter to four. At four o’clock, no matter how much behindhand I may be, I promise you I will go ahead of the one who is most in advance.
“All right then.”
While we exchanged these few words in a low tone of voice, the conversation became general and noisy. From time to time Dujarrier and Louis both looked at the pendule, which continued pursuing its imperturbable march, perfectly insensible of the impatience of the two persons who were anxiously watching its hands.
At five minutes to four, I looked at Louis. “Your health,” said I.
He took his glass, smiling, and brought it up to his lips.
He had emptied just about one half of it, when the bell rung. I had thought he could not become any paler. I was mistaken.
“That’s he,” said Louis.
“We shall soon see that.”
The ringing of the bell had attracted the attention of the whole company; and the most profound silence immediately followed the noisy conversation which was running round and crossing the whole table.
Something like a discussion was heard in the antechamber.
Dujarrier rose, and opened the door.
“I have recognized her voice,” said Louis, seizing my wrist and pressing it with great force.
“Come, come — courage now, be a man,” answered I; “it is evident that if she comes to take supper at the house of a man and with people with all of whom she is entirely unacquainted, she is a woman who does not deserve the love of an honorable man.”
“But pray, madame,” said D., in the antechamber, “walk in, if you please, I assure you that we are altogether among friends.”
“Come in, my dear Emily,” said Monsieur Château-Renaud; “you shall not take your mask off, if you don’t choose to do so.”
“The wretch!” murmured Louis.
At this moment the lady entered, drawn rather than led by Château-Renaud, and Dujarrier, who fancied himself obliged to perform this office as master of the house.
“Three minutes to four,” said Château-Renaud to D., in a low voice.
“Very well, mon cher, you have won.”
“Not yet, sir,” said the unknown lady, speaking to Château-Renaud, and raising herself to her full height. “I understand, now, why you persisted; you have made a bet to bring me here to supper, have you not?”
Château-Renaud remained silent. She then addressed herself to D.
“As this man will not reply, will you please to answer me, sir? Has not Monsieur Château-Renaud made a bet to bring me here to take supper with you?”
“I cannot deny, madame, that Monsieur Château-Renaud has flattered me with that hope.”
“Well, Monsieur Château-Renaud has lost then, for I was not aware of the place to which he was conducting me, and thought I was going to take supper with a lady, one of my friends. Now, as I did not come here willingly, it seems to me that Monsieur de Château-Renaud ought to lose the benefit of his bet.”
“But now that you are here, my dear Emily, replied Monsieur de Château-Renaud, you’ll stay, wont you? You see we have good company in these gentlemen, and you will have merry companions in these ladies.”
“Now that I am here,” said the inconnue,” I thank the gentleman who seems to be the master of the house for the kind reception he has been pleased to give me; but, as unfortunately I cannot accept this polite invitation, I shall request M. Louis de Franchi to give me his arm and see me home.”
Louis de Franchi sprung up, and in an instant placed himself between M. de Château-Renaud and the inconnue.
“I wish you to observe, madame,” said the latter, clenching his teeth with anger, “that it is I who brought you here; consequently, it is my duty to see you home.”
“Gentlemen,” said the inconnue, “you are five here, and I put myself under the guard of your honor. You will, I hope, prevent Mons. de Château-Renaud from using any violence upon me.”
Château-Renaud made a movement, we all rose at once.
“Very well, madame,” said he, “you are at liberty to act as you please. I know whom I shall have to thank for this.”
“If it is me you mean, sir,” said Louis de Franchi, with an air of haughtiness impossible to describe, “you will find me all day to-morrow at No. 7, Rue du Helder.”
“Very well, sir, perhaps I shall not have the honor of calling on you in person, but I hope you will be kind enough to receive two of my friends in my place.”
“There was nothing else wanting in you, sir,” said Louis de Franchi, shrugging his shoulders, “but to give such a rendezvous before a lady. Come, madame,” continued he, taking the arm of the inconnue, “ and believe me, I thank you sincerely for the honor you do me.”
They both went out, amid a profound silence.
“Well, what now, gentlemen?” began Château-Renaud, as soon as the door closed; “I have lost my bet, that’s all. The day after to-morrow evening we — all who are here, will meet at the Frères-Provençaux.”
He sat down in one of the empty seats, and reached his glass over to Dujarrier, who filled it up to the brim.
Meanwhile, in spite of the noisy gaiety of M. de Château-Renaud, the remainder of the supper passed off rather dull,
The following morning, or rather the same day, I found myself at ten o’clock in the morning, at the door of Louis de Franchi’s residence,
As I ascended the steps, I met two gentlemen coming down. One of them was evidently a man of the world. The other one, decorated with the Legion d’Honneur, appeared, notwithstanding his citizen’s dress, to be a military man. I had no doubt that these gentlemen came from Monsieur de Franchi; I followed them with my eyes to the foot of the stairs, and then continued my way and rung the bell.
The servant opened the door. His master was in his cabinet.
When he entered to announce me, Louis, who was occupied in writing a note, turned his head.
“Ah! is that you!” said he, crushing the note in his hand and throwing it into the fire,” this note was addressed to you, and I was just going to send it. Very well — Joseph, I am not at home to any body this morning.”
The servant left the room.
“Did you not meet two gentlemen on the staircase” continued Louis, drawing forward an armchair.
“Yes, one of them was decorated.”
“I suspected they had been to visit you.”
“You guessed right.”
“Did they come in the name of M. de Château-Renaud?”
“They are his seconds.”
“Ah Diable! he has taken the matter rigorously, it appears.”
“He could not do otherwise, you’ll acknowledge that,” said Louis.
“And they came —"”
“To request me to send two of my friends to talk with them about the matter; I then thought of you.”
“I am much flattered with your remembrance of me, but I cannot go alone to see them.”
“I have sent for one of my friends, the Baron Giordano-Martelli, to take breakfast with us. He will be here at eleven o’clock. We will then breakfast together, and at noon, you will have the kindness to call upon these gentlemen, who have promised to stay at home till three o’clock. Here are their names and residences.”
Louis handed me two cards.
One, was that of the Baron Réné de Châteaugrand, the other, of M. Adrien de Boissy. The first lived No 12, Rue de la Paix; the second, who, as I had suspected, belonged to the army, was a lieutenant in the regiment of the Chasseurs d’Afrique, and lived at 29, Rue de Lille.
I turned the cards over and over in my hands.
“Well, what embarrasses you?” asked Louis.
“I would like you to tell me, quite candidly, if you consider this affair as serious. You know that our conduct must be regulated accordingly.”
“How is that! as very serious! certainly. Besides, you have heard it. I have placed myself at the disposal of Monsieur de Château-Renaud, and he has sent me his seconds; I have therefore nothing else to do, but to let things take their course.”
“Yes, certainly, but —”
“Go on,” said Louis, smiling.
“But at least we ought to know what you are going to fight about. One cannot see two people cutting each other’s throats, without at least wishing to learn the motive of the combat. You know very well that the position of the seconds is more important than that of the fighter.”
“Well, then, I will tell you, in two words, the cause of this quarrel. On my arrival at Paris, one of my friends, the captain of a frigate, introduced me to his wife. She was young and handsome. The sight of her made so deep an impression upon me, that fearing I might fall in love with her, I seldom took advantage of the permission I had received, of coming to the house at any hour. My friend complained of my indifference, and I then openly told him the truth; that is to say, that his wife was too charming in every respect, for me to run the risk of seeing her too frequently. He smiled, gave me his hand and invited me to dinner the same day.”
“My dear Louis,” said he, at the dessert, “I leave in three weeks for Mexico; perhaps I shall be gone three months, perhaps six months, or even more. We sailors know sometimes the hour of parting, but never the time of our return. In my absence I commend my Emily to your care. And you, Emily, I request you to treat Louis de Franchi as a brother.”
The young lady answered, by offering me her hand.
“I was surprised, I did not know what to say, and I must certainly have appeared very insipid to my future sister.”
“Three months after, in fact, my friend departed. During these three months, he had prevailed upon me to take dinner with them without ceremony, at least once a week.”
“Emily remained with her mother. It is not necessary to tell you, that the confidence of her husband had made her sacred to me, and that although loving her more than it was necessary for a brother, I never looked upon her but as a sister.
“Six months passed away. Emily resided with her mother, and her husband, upon leaving, had requested her to continue to receive company. My poor friend was very much afraid of the reputation of being jealous.
“In fact he adored Emily and had the fullest confidence in her.
“So Emily continued to see company.
However, she only received intimate acquaintances, and the presence of her mother prevented the most malicious tongues from blaming her. But no one ever dared to breathe a single word which could have sullied her reputation.
“Some three months since, Monsieur de Château-Renaud got introduced to her. You believe in presentiments, do you? At sight of him, I trembled. He did not speak to me. He was, what a man of the world is, in a salon, but notwithstanding, when he left, I already hated him. Why, I did not know myself.
“Or, rather, I had perceived that he felt the same impression which had been made upon me, when I saw Emily for the first time.
“As for her, it appeared to me that Emily had received him with more than usual coquetry.
“No doubt this was a mistake; but I have told you that in the depths of my heart I had never ceased loving Emily, and I was jealous.
“So, on the next reception day, I did not lose sight of Monsieur de Château-Renaud. Perhaps he noticed my pertinacity in following him with my eyes; and it seemed to me, that while talking in a low tone to Emily, he tried to make me appear ridiculous.
“If I had only attended to the voice of my heart, I should have sought a quarrel with him that very evening, and under any pretext would have fought a duel with him. But I controlled myself, considering that such conduct would be absurd.
“But how could I help it? every Friday after this was a torment to me. Mons. de Château-Renaud being altogether a man of the world, a fashionable, a lion, I was; forced to acknowledge his superiority over me, in many respects; but I thought that Emily placed him still higher than he deserved.
“Soon after, it appeared that I was not the only person who noticed this preference of Emily for Monsieur de Château-Renaud; a preference which increased so rapidly and so visibly, that one day Giordano, who like me visited her house, spoke to me about it.
“From that time my decision was taken. I determined to speak to Emily on the subject, as I was convinced there was only a thoughtlessness on her part, which would make it merely necessary for me to open her eyes to her own conduct, to change all which so far had been calculated to fix upon her the charge of levity.
“But, to my great surprise, Emily took my observations as a joke, pretending that I was foolish, and that all who thought as I did, were as silly as myself.
“Emily then answered that she could not rely upon me in a matter of this kind, and that a lover was necessarily a partial judge.
“I remained amazed; her husband had told her all.
“From this time, regarded in the light of a disappointed and jealous lover, my position became odious and nearly ridiculous. I ceased visiting Emily.
“But I still continued to receive news from her, and was not the less unhappy for that, for the assiduities of Château-Renaud to Emily began to be generally noticed, and openly spoken of.
“I resolved to write to her. I did so in the most careful and studied manner of which I was capable, beseeching her in the name of her compromised honor, in the name of her absent husband, who was full of confidence in her, to keep a strict watch over all her actions. She did not answer me.
“How could she help it? Love is independent of the will: the poor creature loved, and because she loved she was blind, or, rather, was determined to be so.
“Some time after this I heard it openly said that Emily was the mistress of Château-Renaud.
“What I then suffered is impossible for me to describe. It was at this period that my poor brother felt, by a peculiar sympathy, the pain I endured.
“Meanwhile, some ten or twelve days elapsed, during which time you arrived.
“The very day upon which you first called at my house, I had received an anonymous letter. It was from a lady, who gave me a rendezvous at the Bal de l’Opéra. She told me that she had certain information to communicate concerning a friend of mine, a lady, but would content herself for the present by telling me her first name.
“That name was Emily.
“I was to recognize her by a bouquet of violets.
“I told you then that I ought not to have gone to the ball; but I now repeat to you that I was impelled by fate!
“I went. I found my domino at the time and place designated. She confirmed all that I had already heard; that is, that Château-Renaud was Emily’s lover; and as I doubted, or affected to doubt it, she told me as a proof of its truth, that M. de Château-Renaud had made a bet that he would bring his new mistress to Dujarrier’s to supper.
“Fate had ordained that you should be acquainted with M. D — that you were invited to that supper, that you had permission to bring a friend along, that you should have solicited me to accompany you there, and lastly, that I should go.
“You know the rest.
“Now, what else can I do than to wait and accept the propositions which are going to be made to me?”
As there was no objection possible to this, I merely bowed my head.
“But,” replied I, after a moment, with a faltering of fear, “I believe I recollect — I hope I am mistaken — that your brother told me you had never touched either a pistol or a sword?”
“But then you are at the mercy of your adversary?”
“How can I help it? God will watch over it!”
At this moment the servant announced the Baron Giordano-Martelli.
He was, like Louis de Franchi, a young Corsican of the province of Sartene, and served in the 17th regiment. Two or three actions had procured him the rank of captain, at the age of twenty-three years. He was of course in citizen’s dress.
“Well,” said he, to Louis, after having saluted me, “the matter has now arrived at the point where it must unavoidably have come; and after what you have written me, I have no doubt that you will receive a visit during the day from the seconds of Monsieur de Château-Renaud.”
“I have had it already,” said Louis.
“Those gentlemen have left their names and residences?”
“Here are their cards.”
“Well! Your valet has told me that breakfast is ready; so let us sit down, and after that we will return the visit of these gentlemen.”
We passed into the dining room, and the circumstance which had brought us together was not spoken of again.
It was then that Louis questioned me about my journey to Corsica, and here only that I found an opportunity of relating to him what the reader already knows.
In this hour, while the young man’s mind was calmed by the idea of fighting with M. de Château-Renaud the following day, all the feelings of home and country came back upon his heart. He made me repeat twenty times what his mother and brother had told me to tell him. He was particularly affected — knowing the true Corsican manners of Lucien — by the care which he had taken in pacifying the quarrel of the Orlandini and Colonna.
It struck twelve o’clock.
“I believe — without hurrying you, my friends — that it is time to return the visit of these gentlemen. Waiting longer might lead them to accuse us of neglect.”
“Oh! make yourself easy on that point,” said I, “they left here only two hours ago, and they must allow you the necessary time to send for us.”
“Never mind,” said the Baron Giordano, “Louis is right.”
“Now,” said I to Louis, “it is necessary for us to know which you prefer, sword or pistol?”
“Oh! sir — I have already told you that it is entirely indifferent to me, as I am as unfamiliar with one as the other. Besides, Mons. de Château-Renaud will spare me the embarrassment of the choice. He will, no doubt, consider himself as the offended party, and as such has the right of choosing what weapon he likes best.”
“But, notwithstanding, the offence is a matter of discussion. You have done nothing else than to offer the arm which was asked for.”
“Listen to me,” said Louis; “every discussion, in my opinion, would look like a desire to make an arrangement. I am naturally very peaceable, you know it; I am far from being a duelist, for this is my first affair; but just for these various reasons I wish to play gallantly.”
“Ah! that’s very easy for you to say, mon cher; you only run the risk of your life; while you leave to us the responsibility of answering to your whole family the consequences of what may happen.”
“Oh! as for that, don’t be uneasy! I know my mother and brother. They will merely ask you, ‘did Louis act like a gallant man?’ And when you tell them, ‘Yes!’ they will answer, ’That is well!‘”
“But, finally, tell us what weapons you prefer.”
“Well, if the pistol is proposed, accept it immediately.”
“That was my opinion, also,” said the Baron.
“Then go for the pistol,” replied I, “as it is your opinion, both of you. But the pistol is a villainous weapon.”
“Have I time, between this and tomorrow, to learn to fight with a sword?”
“No. But with a good lesson from Grisier, you could, perhaps, learn to defend yourself.”
“Believe me,” said he, “all that will happen to me to-morrow morning is already written in the book of fate, and whatever you or I may do cannot change any thing in it.”
After this, we shook hands with him, and went out.
Our first visit was, of course, to the second of our adversary who lived nearest to us. We therefore called upon Mons. Réné de Châteaugrand, who lived, as already mentioned, at No. 12, Rue de la Paix.
Admittance was denied to all persons except those who should introduce themselves as coming from Monsieur Louis de Franchi. We signified our mission, presented our cards, and were admitted without further delay.
We found in M. Châteaugrand a man of the world, perfectly elegant. He would not permit us to go to the trouble of calling upon Monsieur de Boissy, but informed us that it had been agreed between them, that whoever should be called upon first by us, should send for the other; and both of them were to hold themselves in readiness to come at a moment’s warning. Monsieur de Châteaugrand therefore sent his servant immediately to inform Monsieur de Boissy that we were in waiting at his residence.
During this time there was not for a moment any mention made of the business which had brought us here. We spoke of stakes, hunting, and the opera.
We had been waiting about ten minutes, when Mons. de Boissy arrived.
The two gentlemen did not even pretend to have a choice in the weapons. Sword and pistol were equally familiar to Mons. de Château-Renaud, who left it entirely to the preference of Mons. Louis de Franchi, or to the decision of hazard.
A louis d’or was then thrown in the air, head for the sword, tail for the pistol. The louis fell with the tail up.
It was finally concluded that the duel should take place on the following morning, at nine o’clock, at the Bois de Vincennes; that the adversaries were to be placed at twenty steps’ distance from each other, that one of the seconds should clap his hands three times as a signal, and that at the third clap they would both fire.
We took this answer to Monsieur de Franchi.
The same evening, after I had returned home, I found the cards of Mons. Châteaugrand and Mons. de Boissy.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:49