A Romance of the French Revolution



     BOOK I
     THE ROBE
     I. THE REPUBLICAN
     II. THE ARISTOCRAT
     III. THE ELOQUENCE OF M. DE VILMORIN
     IV. THE HERITAGE
     V. THE LORD OF GAVRILLAC
     VI. THE WINDMILL
     VII. THE WIND
     VIII. OMNES OMNIBUS
     IX. THE AFTERMATH
     BOOK II
     THE BUSKIN
     I. THE TRESPASSERS
     II. THE SERVICE OF THESPIS
     III. THE COMIC MUSE
     IV. EXIT MONSIEUR PARVISSIMUS
     V. ENTER SCARAMOUCHE
     VI. CLIMENE
     VII. THE CONQUEST OF NANTES
     VIII. THE DREAM
     IX. THE AWAKENING
     X. CONTRITION
     XI. THE FRACAS AT THE THEATRE FEYDAU
     BOOK III
     THE SWORD
     I. TRANSITION
     II. QUOS DEUS VULT PERDERE
     III. PRESIDENT LE CHAPELIER
     IV. AT MEUDON
     V. MADAME DE PLOUGASTEL
     VI. POLITICIANS
     VII. THE SPADASSINICIDES
     VIII. THE PALADIN OF THE THIRD
     IX. TORN PRIDE
     X. THE RETURNING CARRIAGE
     XI. INFERENCES
     XII. THE OVERWHELMING REASON
     XIII. SANCTUARY
     XIV. THE BARRIER
     XV. SAFE-CONDUCT
     XVI. SUNRISE








     He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.
And that was all his patrimony. His very paternity was obscure, although the
village of Gavrillac had long since dispelled the cloud of mystery that hung
about it. Those simple Brittany folk were not so simple as to be deceived by
a  pretended  relationship   which  did  not  even  possess  the  virtue  of
originality. When a nobleman, for no  apparent reason, announces himself the
godfather of an infant fetched  no man knew whence, and thereafter cares for
the lad's rearing  and education, the most unsophisticated of  country  folk
perfectly  understand  the situation.  And so the  good people of  Gavrillac
permitted  themselves  no  illusions  on the score of the real  relationship
between Andre-Louis Moreau - as the lad had been named
     - and Quintin de  Kercadiou, Lord of Gavrillac, who  dwelt in  the  big
grey house that dominated from its eminence the village clustering below.
     Andre-Louis  had learnt his letters at the  village school, lodged  the
while with  old  Rabouillet,  the attorney,  who  in the  capacity of fiscal
intendant, looked after the affairs of  M. de Kercadiou.  Thereafter, at the
age of fifteen, he had been packed  off to Paris,  to  the Lycee of Louis Le
Grand, to study the law which he was now returned to practise in conjunction
with Rabouillet. All this at  the charges of his godfather, M. de Kercadiou,
who  by  placing him once more under the tutelage of Rabouillet  would  seem
thereby quite clearly to be making provision for his future.
     Andre-Louis,  on  his side, had made the most of his opportunities. You
behold  him at  the age  of  four-and-twenty stuffed with learning enough to
produce an intellectual indigestion in an ordinary mind. Out of  his zestful
study  of  Man,  from  Thucydides  to  the Encyclopaedists,  from  Seneca to
Rousseau, he had confirmed  into an  unassailable  conviction  his  earliest
conscious impressions of the general  insanity of his own species. Nor can I
discover that  anything  in his eventful  life ever afterwards caused him to
waver in that opinion.
     In body he was a slight wisp of a fellow, scarcely above middle height,
with a lean, astute countenance, prominent of nose and cheek-bones, and with
lank, black hair  that reached  almost to his shoulders. His mouth was long,
thin-lipped, and humorous.  He was  only just  redeemed from ugliness by the
splendour of a pair of ever-questing, luminous eyes, so dark as to be almost
black.  Of the  whimsical quality of his mind and  his rare gift of graceful
expression, his writings  -  unfortunately but too scanty - and particularly
his  Confessions,  afford us  very ample evidence. Of his gift of oratory he
was  hardly  conscious yet,  although he had already achieved a certain fame
for  it  in the  Literary Chamber of  Rennes  -  one  of  those clubs by now
ubiquitous   in  the  land,  in  which  the  intellectual  youth  of  France
foregathered to study and  discuss the new philosophies that were permeating
social  life. But the fame he had acquired there was hardly enviable. He was
too impish, too caustic,  too much disposed - so thought his colleagues - to
ridicule their sublime theories for the  regeneration of mankind. himself he
protested  that  he merely held them  up to the mirror of truth, and that it
was not his fault if when reflected there they looked ridiculous.
     All that he achieved by this was  to exasperate; and his expulsion from
a society grown mistrustful of  him must  already have followed but  for his
friend,  Philippe  de Vilmorin, a divinity student  of Rennes, who, himself,
was one of the most popular members of the Literary Chamber.
     Coming  to Gavrillac on  a  November  morning, laden with news  of  the
political storms  which were then gathering  over France, Philippe  found in
that sleepy Breton village matter to quicken his already lively indignation.
A peasant of Gavrillac,  named Mabey, had been shot dead that morning in the
woods  of  Meupont, across the river,  by  a gamekeeper of the Marquis de La
Tour  d'Azyr. The unfortunate fellow had been caught in the act of taking  a
pheasant from a  snare, and  the gamekeeper had acted under  explicit orders
from his master.
     Infuriated by  an  act of  tyranny  so  absolute and  merciless,  M. de
Vilmorin  proposed  to lay the matter before M.  de Kercadiou.  Mabey was  a
vassal  of Gavrillac, and Vilmorin hoped to  move  the Lord  of Gavrillac to
demand  at least some  measure of reparation for  the  widow  and  the three
orphans which that brutal deed had made.
     But  because  Andre-Louis was Philippe's dearest  friend -  indeed, his
almost brother - the young seminarist sought him out  in the first instance.
He found him at breakfast  alone in the  long, low-ceilinged, white-panelled
dining-room  at Rabouillet's - the only home that Andre-Louis had ever known
- and after embracing him, deafened him with his denunciation of  M.  de  La
Tour d'Azyr.
     "I have heard of it already," said Andre-Louis.
     "You  speak  as  if  the  thing  had  not  surprised you,"  his  friend
reproached him.
     "Nothing  beastly can  surprise  me when done  by a beast. And  La Tour
d'Azyr is  a beast, as all the world knows. The more fool Mabey for stealing
his pheasants. He should have stolen somebody else's."
     "Is that all you have to say about it?"
     "What more is there to say? I've a practical mind, I hope."
     "What more there is  to say I propose to  say to your godfather, M.  de
Kercadiou. I shall appeal to him for justice."
     "Against M. de La Tour d'azyr?" Andre-Louis raised his eyebrows.
     "Why not?"
     "My dear ingenuous Philippe, dog doesn't eat dog."
     "You are unjust to your godfather. He is a humane man."
     "Oh,  as humane as you please. But this isn't  a  question of humanity.
It's a question of game-laws."
     M. de  Vilmorin tossed  his  long arms to Heaven  in disgust. He was  a
tall,  slender young gentleman, a year  or two younger than Andre-Louis.  He
was  very soberly dressed in black, as became a seminarist, with white bands
at wrists  and  throat and silver buckles to  his shoes. His neatly  clubbed
brown hair was innocent of powder.
     "You talk like a lawyer," he exploded.
     "Naturally. But don't  waste anger on  me on that account. Tell me what
you want me to do."
     "I  want you  to  come to M. de  Kercadiou with  me,  and  to  use your
influence to obtain justice. I suppose I am asking too much."
     "My dear Philippe, I exist to serve you. I warn you that it is a futile
quest; but give me leave to finish my breakfast, and I am at your orders."
     M. de Vilmorin dropped into a winged armchair by the well-swept hearth,
on which a  piled-up fire of pine logs was burning  cheerily.  And whilst he
waited  now  he gave  his  friend the latest news  of the events  in Rennes.
Young, ardent, enthusiastic, and inspired by Utopian ideals, he passionately
denounced the rebellious attitude of the privileged.
     Andre-Louis, already fully  aware of  the trend of feeling in the ranks
of an order in  whose deliberations he took part as the representative of  a
nobleman, was not at all surprised by what he heard. M. de Vilmorin found it
exasperating  that  his  friend should apparently decline to share  his  own
indignation.
     "Don't you see what it means?" he cried. "The nobles, by disobeying the
King, are  striking  at  the  very  foundations  of  the  throne. Don't they
perceive that their very existence depends upon it; that if the throne falls
over, it is they who stand nearest to it who will be crushed? Don't they see
that?"
     "Evidently not. They  are just governing classes, and I never  heard of
governing classes that had eyes for anything but their own profit."
     "That is our grievance. That is what we are going to change."
     "You are going to abolish governing classes? An interesting experiment.
I believe it was the original plan of creation, and it  might have succeeded
but for Cain."
     "What  we  are  going   to  do,"  said  M.  de  Vilmorin,  curbing  his
exasperation, "is to transfer the government to other hands."
     "And you think that will make a difference?"
     "I know it will."
     "Ah! I take it that being now in minor orders, you already  possess the
confidence of  the  Almighty. He will have  confided to you His intention of
changing the pattern of mankind."
     M. de Vilmorin's  fine  ascetic  face  grew overcast. "You are profane,
Andre," he reproved his friend.
     "I assure you that  I  am  quite serious.  To  do what you  imply would
require nothing  short of divine  intervention.  You  must  change man,  not
systems.  Can you  and our  vapouring friends of  the  Literary  Chamber  of
Rennes,  or  any  other  learned  society of  France,  devise  a  system  of
government that  has  never yet been tried? Surely not. And can they  say of
any system tried that  it proved other  than a  failure in  the end? My dear
Philippe, the future is  to be read with certainty only in the past. Ab actu
ad posse valet consecutio.  Man never  changes. He is always  greedy, always
acquisitive, always vile. I am speaking of Man in the bulk."
     "Do you pretend  that  it is impossible  to ameliorate  the lot of  the
people?" M. de Vilmorin challenged him.
     "When you say  the people  you mean, of course, the  populace. Will you
abolish  it? That is  the only  way to ameliorate its lot, for as long as it
remains populace its lot will be damnation."
     "You  argue, of course, for the side that employs you. That is natural,
I suppose." M. de Vilmorin spoke between sorrow and indignation.
     "On the contrary, I seek to argue with absolute detachment. Let us test
these ideas of  yours. To what form of government do you aspire? A republic,
it is to be inferred from what you  have  said. Well, you  have  it already.
France in reality is a republic to-day."
     Philippe  stared at him. "You are  being paradoxical, I think.  What of
the King?"
     "The King? All the world knows there has been no king in  France  since
Louis XIV. There is  an obese gentleman at Versailles  who  wears the crown,
but the very news you bring shows for how little he really counts. It is the
nobles and  clergy who sit in  the  high  places, with the people of  France
harnessed under their feet, who are the real  rulers. That is why I say that
France is  a republic; she  is  a  republic  built on the best pattern - the
Roman  pattern. Then, as now, there were great patrician families in luxury,
preserving for themselves power and wealth, and what else is accounted worth
possessing;  and  there  was the  populace crushed and  groaning,  sweating,
bleeding, starving, and perishing in the Roman kennels. That was a republic;
the mightiest we have seen."
     Philippe  strove with his  impatience. "At least you  will  admit - you
have,  in fact, admitted it -  that  we could not be worse governed than  we
are?"
     "That is not the point. The point is should we be better governed if we
replaced the present ruling class by another? Without some guarantee of that
I  should  be the  last  to  lift a  finger  to  effect  a change. And  what
guarantees can you give? What  is the class that aims at government? I  will
tell you. The bourgeoisie."
     "What?"
     "That  startles  you, eh?  Truth is so often disconcerting. You  hadn't
thought of it? Well, think of  it now. Look well into this Nantes manifesto.
Who are the authors of it?"
     "I can  tell you who it was  constrained  the municipality of Nantes to
send it  to  the King.  Some ten  thousand workmen  - shipwrights,  weavers,
labourers, and artisans of every kind."
     "Stimulated  to  it,  driven to it,  by  their  employers, the  wealthy
traders and shipowners of that  city," Andre-Louis replied. "I have a  habit
of observing  things at close quarters,  which is why our  colleagues of the
Literary  Chamber dislike me so cordially in debate. Where I delve they  but
skim.  Behind those  labourers  and  artisans of  Nantes, counselling  them,
urging  on  these  poor,  stupid, ignorant  toilers  to shed  their blood in
pursuit  of  the  will  o'  the wisp of  freedom, are the  sail-makers,  the
spinners, the ship-owners and the slave-traders. The slave-traders! The  men
who live and  grow  rich  by a  traffic  in  human  flesh and  blood  in the
colonies, are conducting at home a  campaign in the sacred name  of liberty!
Don't you see that the whole movement is a movement of hucksters and traders
and peddling  vassals swollen by  wealth into envy of the power that lies in
birth alone? The  money-changers in Paris who hold the bonds in the national
debt, seeing the  parlous financial condition  of the  State, tremble at the
thought that it may lie in the power of a single  man to cancel the  debt by
bankruptcy. To secure themselves they are burrowing underground to overthrow
a state  and  build upon its ruins a  new  one  in which they shall  be  the
masters. And to accomplish this they inflame the people. Already in Dauphiny
we have seen blood  run like water - the blood of the  populace, always  the
blood of  the populace. Now in Brittany  we may  see the like. And if in the
end the new ideas prevail? if the seigneurial rule is overthrown, what then?
You will have  exchanged  an aristocracy  for  a  plutocracy. Is that  worth
while? Do you 'think that under money-changers and slave-traders and men who
have waxed rich in other ways by the ignoble arts of buying and selling, the
lot of the people will be any  better  than under their  priests and nobles?
Has it ever occurred to you, Philippe, what it is that makes the rule of the
nobles  so  intolerable? Acquisitiveness. Acquisitiveness is  the  curse  of
mankind. And shall you expect  less acquisitiveness  in  men who have  built
themselves up  by acquisitiveness? Oh, I am ready to admit that the  present
government  is execrable,  unjust, tyrannical - what you will; but I beg you
to look ahead,  and to see  that  the  government for which it is  aimed  at
exchanging it may be infinitely worse."
     Philippe sat thoughtful a moment. Then he returned to the attack.
     "You do not speak  of the abuses, the  horrible, intolerable abuses  of
power under which we labour at present."
     "Where there is power there will always be the abuse of it."
     "Not  if  the  tenure  of   power   is  dependent  upon  its  equitable
administration."
     "The tenure of power is power. We cannot dictate to those who hold it."
     "The people can - the people in its might."
     "Again I ask you, when you say the people do you mean the populace? You
do. What power can the populace wield? It can run wild. It can burn and slay
for  a time.  But enduring power  it  cannot  wield,  because  power demands
qualities which the  populace does not possess, or it would not be populace.
The inevitable, tragic  corollary of civilization is populace. For the rest,
abuses  can be  corrected  by equity; and  equity, if it is not found in the
enlightened, is not to be found at all. M. Necker is to set about correcting
abuses, and  limiting privileges. That is  decided. To that end  the  States
General are to assemble."
     "And  a promising beginning we have made in  Brittany, as  Heaven hears
me!" cried Philippe.
     "Pooh! That is  nothing. Naturally the nobles will not yield without  a
struggle. It is a  futile and ridiculous struggle  - but then... it is human
nature, I suppose, to be futile and ridiculous."
     M. de Vilmorin became witheringly  sarcastic.  "Probably you  will also
qualify  the shooting of Mabey as  futile  and ridiculous.  I should even be
prepared to hear you argue in defence of the Marquis de La Tour d' Azyr that
his  gamekeeper was merciful in shooting Mabey, since the alternative  would
have been a life-sentence to the galleys."
     Andre-Louis drank the remainder of his chocolate; set down his cup, and
pushed back his chair, his breakfast done.
     "I  confess that I  have not your  big charity,  my dear Philippe. I am
touched by Mabey's fate. But, having conquered the shock of  this news to my
emotions,  I do not forget that,  after  all, Mabey was thieving when he met
his death."
     M. de Vilmorin heaved himself up in his indignation.
     "That  is the point of view to be expected in one who is  the assistant
fiscal intendant of a nobleman, and the delegate of a nobleman to the States
of Brittany."
     "Philippe,  is that just?  You are  angry with me!"  he  cried, in real
solicitude.
     "I am hurt," Vilmorin admitted. "I am deeply hurt by your attitude. And
I  am not alone in resenting your reactionary tendencies. Do you  know  that
the Literary Chamber is seriously considering your expulsion?"
     Andre-Louis shrugged. "That neither surprises nor troubles me."
     M. de Vilmorin swept on, passionately: "Sometimes I think that you have
no  heart.  With  you it  is always the law, never equity. It  occurs to me,
Andre, that I was mistaken  in coming  to you. You  are not likely to  be of
assistance to me in my interview with M. de Kercadiou."  He took up his hat,
clearly with the intention of departing.
     Andre-Louis sprang up and caught him by the arm.
     "I vow," said he,  "that this is the last time  ever I shall consent to
talk law or politics with you, Philippe. I love you too well to quarrel with
you over other men's affairs."
     "But I make them my own," Philippe insisted vehemently.
     "Of course  you do, and I love you for it. It is right that you should.
You  are to be  a priest; and everybody's  business is a priest's  business.
Whereas I am a lawyer - the fiscal intendant of a nobleman, as you say - and
a lawyer's business is  the business of his client. That is  the  difference
between us. Nevertheless, you are not going to shake me off."
     "But I tell you frankly, now that I  come to think of it, that I should
prefer you  did not  see M. de Kercadiou with me. Your duty to  your  client
cannot be a help to me."
     His wrath  had passed; but his determination remained  firm, based upon
the reason he gave.
     "Very well," said Andre-Louis. "It shall be as you please.  But nothing
shall prevent  me at least from  walking with you as far as the chateau, and
waiting for you while you make your appeal to M. de Kercadiou."
     And  so  they  left the house good friends,  for the sweetness of M. de
Vilmorin's nature did not admit of rancour, and together they took their way
up the steep main street of Gavrillac.




     The sleepy village  of  Gavrillac, a half-league removed from the  main
road to Rennes, and therefore undisturbed by the  world's traffic, lay in  a
curve of the River Meu, at the foot, and straggling halfway up the slope, of
the shallow hill that was crowned by the squat manor. By the  time Gavrillac
had  paid tribute to its seigneur - partly in money and partly in  service -
tithes to the Church, and imposts to the King, it was hard put to it to keep
body  and soul together with  what remained. Yet, hard as conditions were in
Gavrillac, they were not so hard  as in many other parts of France, not half
so hard, for instance, as with the wretched feudatories of the great Lord of
La Tour d'Azyr, whose vast possessions were at one point separated from this
little village by the waters of the Meu.
     The Chateau de Gavrillac owed such seigneurial airs as might be claimed
for it to its dominant position above the village rather than to any feature
of its  own.  Built  of  granite, like  all the rest  of  Gavrillac,  though
mellowed  by some three centuries of existence, it was a squat, flat-fronted
edifice of two stories,  each  lighted  by four windows with external wooden
shutters, and flanked at either  end by two square towers or pavilions under
extinguisher roofs.  Standing well back in  a garden, denuded now,  but very
pleasant in summer, and  immediately  fronted by a fine sweep of balustraded
terrace, it looked, what  indeed it was, and always  had been, the residence
of  unpretentious  folk  who  found  more  interest  in  husbandry  than  in
adventure.
     Quintin de Kercadiou, Lord of Gavrillac - Seigneur de Gavrillac was all
the  vague  title that  he bore,  as his forefathers had borne  before  him,
derived no man knew whence or how - confirmed the impression  that his house
conveyed. Rude as the granite  itself, he had never sought the experience of
courts, had not even taken service in the armies of his King. He  left it to
his  younger brother, Etienne,  to represent  the  family in  those  exalted
spheres. His own interests from earliest years had been centred in his woods
and pastures. He hunted, and he cultivated  his acres,  and superficially he
appeared to be  little better than  any of his rustic  metayers.  He kept no
state,  or at  least  no  state commensurate  with his position or  with the
tastes  of his niece Aline de Kercadiou. Aline, having  spent some two years
in the court atmosphere of Versailles under the aegis of  her uncle Etienne,
had  ideas very  different  from  those of  her  uncle Quintin  of what  was
befitting  seigneurial dignity.  But  though  this  only  child  of  a third
Kercadiou had exercised,  ever since she was left an orphan at the early age
of four,  a tyrannical rule over the Lord of Gavrillac,  who had been father
and  mother  to  her,  she  had  never  yet  succeeded in  beating  down his
stubbornness on that  score. She did not yet  despair  - persistence being a
dominant  note  in  her character  - although she had  been assiduously  and
fruitlessly at work since her return from the great world of Versailles some
three months ago.
     She  was  walking  on the  terrace when Andre-Louis and  M. de Vilmorin
arrived.  Her slight  body  was wrapped against the  chill air  in  a  white
pelisse; her head was encased in a  close-fitting bonnet,  edged with  white
fur.  It was caught tight in a knot of pale-blue ribbon  on the right of her
chin; on the left a long ringlet of corn-coloured hair had been permitted to
escape. The keen air  had whipped so much of her cheeks as was presented  to
it, and seemed to have added sparkle to eyes that were of darkest blue.
     Andre-Louis  and M. de Vilmorin had been known to  her from  childhood.
The  three had  been  playmates once,  and  Andre-Louis  - in  view  of  his
spiritual  relationship with her uncle - she called her cousin. The cousinly
relations had persisted between  these two  long after Philippe de  Vilmorin
had outgrown  the earlier  intimacy,  and had  become  to  her  Monsieur  de
Vilmorin.
     She waved her hand to them in greeting as they advanced, and stood
     - an  entrancing picture, and fully conscious of it - to  await them at
the end of the terrace nearest the short avenue by which they approached.
     "If  you  come  to  see  monsieur  my  uncle,  you  come inopportunely,
messieurs," she told them, a certain feverishness in her air. "He is closely
- oh, so very closely - engaged."
     "We  will  wait, mademoiselle,"  said M.  de Vilmorin, bowing gallantly
over the hand she  extended to  him. "Indeed,  who would haste to the  uncle
that may tarry a moment with the niece?"
     "M. l'abbe," she teased him, "when you are in orders  I shall take  you
for my confessor. You have so ready and sympathetic an understanding."
     "But no curiosity," said Andre-Louis. "You haven't thought of that."
     "I wonder what you mean, Cousin Andre."
     "Well you may,"  laughed Philippe.  "For no one ever  knows." And then,
his glance  straying across  the terrace  settled  upon a  carriage that was
drawn up before the door of the chateau.  It was a vehicle such as was often
to be seen in the streets of a great city, but rarely in the country. It was
a beautifully  sprung two-horse cabriolet of walnut, with  a varnish upon it
like a sheet of glass and little pastoral scenes exquisitely painted  on the
panels of the door. It was  built to carry two persons,  with a box in front
for the coachman, and a stand behind for the footman. This stand was  empty,
but the footman paced before the door, and as he emerged now from behind the
vehicle  into  the  range  of M.  de  Vilmorin's vision,  he  displayed  the
resplendent blue-and-gold livery of the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr.
     "Why!"  he  exclaimed. "Is  it  M.  de  La Tour d'Azyr who is with your
uncle?"
     "It is, monsieur," said  she, a world of  mystery in voice and eyes, of
which M. de Vilmorin observed nothing.
     "Ah, pardon!" he bowed low, hat in hand. "Serviteur, mademoiselle," and
he turned to depart towards the house.
     "Shall I come with you, Philippe?" Andre-Louis called after him.
     "It would be  ungallant to assume that you would prefer it," said M. de
Vilmorin, with a glance at  mademoiselle. "Nor do I think it would serve. If
you will wait... "
     M. de Vilmorin strode  off. Mademoiselle, after a moment's blank pause,
laughed ripplingly. "Now where is he going in such a hurry?"
     "To see M. de La Tour d'Azyr as well as your uncle, I should say."
     "But he cannot. They cannot see him. Did I  not say that they are  very
closely  engaged?  You   don't  ask   me  why,  Andre"  There  was  an  arch
mysteriousness about her,  a latent  something that may have been elation or
amusement, or perhaps both. Andre-Louis could not determine it.
     "Since  obviously  you are  all eagerness to tell,  why should  I ask?"
quoth he.
     "If you are caustic I shall not  tell you even if you ask.  Oh,  yes, I
will. It will teach you to treat me with the respect that is my due."
     "I hope I shall never fail in that."
     "Less  than ever when you learn that I am very closely concerned in the
visit of M.  de La  Tour d'Azyr.  I am the  object of this  visit." And  she
looked at him with sparkling eyes and lips parted in laughter.
     "The rest, you would seem to imply, is obvious. But I am a dolt, if you
please; for it is not obvious to me."
     "Why, stupid, he comes to ask my hand in marriage."
     "Good God!" said Andre-Louis, and stared at her, chapfallen.
     She drew back from  him a little with a frown and an upward tilt of her
chin. "It surprises you?"
     "It disgusts me," said  he, bluntly. "In fact, I don't  believe it. You
are amusing yourself with me."
     For a moment she put aside  her visible annoyance to remove his doubts.
"I am quite serious, monsieur. There came  a  formal letter to my uncle this
morning from M. de  La Tour  d'Azyr, announcing the visit and  its object. I
will not say that it did not surprise us a little..
     "Oh,  I see," cried Andre-Louis, in relief. "I understand. For a moment
I had almost feared... " He broke off, looked at her, and shrugged.
     "Why do you stop? You had almost feared that Versailles had been wasted
upon me. That I should permit the court-ship of me to be conducted like that
of any village wench. It was  stupid of you.  I  am  being  sought in proper
form, at my uncle's hands."
     "Is his consent, then, all that matters, according to Versailles?"
     "What else?"
     "There is your own."
     She laughed. "I am a dutiful niece... when it suits me."
     "And will  it  suit you  to  be  dutiful  if  your  uncle  accepts this
monstrous proposal?"
     "Monstrous!" She bridled. "And why monstrous, if you please?"
     "For a score of reasons," he answered irritably.
     "Give me one," she challenged him.
     "He is twice your age."
     "Hardly so much," said she.
     "He is forty-five, at least."
     "But  he looks no more  than thirty. He is very handsome - so much  you
will admit; nor will you deny that he is very wealthy and very powerful; the
greatest nobleman in Brittany. He will make me a great lady."
     "God made you that, Aline."
     "Come,  that's  better.  Sometimes you can almost  be polite."  And she
moved along the terrace, Andre-Louis pacing beside her.
     "I  can be more than that to show reason  why you  should  not let this
beast befoul the beautiful thing that God has made."
     She frowned,  and her  lips tightened. "You are speaking  of  my future
husband," she reproved him.
     His lips tightened too; his pale face grew paler.
     "And  is it so? It is settled, then? Your uncle is to agree? You are to
be  sold thus,  lovelessly,  into bondage to a man  you do not know.  I  had
dreamed of better things for you, Aline."
     "Better than to be Marquise de La Tour d'Azyr?"
     He made a gesture of exasperation. "Are men and women nothing more than
names? Do the souls of them count for nothing? Is there  no joy in  life, no
happiness, that wealth and pleasure and empty, high-sounding titles  are  to
be its only aims? I had set you high
     - so high, Aline - a thing  scarce earthly. There is joy in your heart,
intelligence in your mind; and, as I thought, the vision that pierces  husks
and shams to claim  the core  of reality for its own. Yet you will surrender
all for a parcel of make-believe. You will  sell your soul and  your body to
be Marquise de La Tour d'Azyr."
     "You  are  indelicate,"  said she,  and  though she  frowned  her  eyes
laughed. "And you go  headlong to conclusions.  My uncle will not consent to
more  than to allow my consent to be  sought.  We understand  each other, my
uncle and I. I am not to be bartered like a turnip."
     He stood still to face her, his eyes glowing, a flush creeping into his
pale cheeks.
     "You have  been torturing me to amuse yourself!" he cried. "Ah, well, I
forgive you out of my relief."
     "Again  you go  too fast,  Cousin  Andre I have  permitted my uncle  to
consent  that  M.  le Marquis shall make his court to me. I like the look of
the  gentleman.  I  am  flattered  by  his  preference when  I  consider his
eminence. It  is an  eminence that I may  find it  desirable to share. M. le
Marquis does not look  as if he were a dullard. It should be  interesting to
be wooed by him. It may be more interesting still to marry him, and I think,
when all is considered, that I shall probably - very probably - decide to do
so."
     He looked  at her, looked at  the sweet, challenging loveliness of that
childlike face so tightly framed in the  oval of white fur, and all the life
seemed to go out of his own countenance.
     "God help you, Aline!" he groaned.
     She stamped her foot.  He was really very  exasperating,  and something
presumptuous too, she thought.
     "You are insolent, monsieur."
     "It is never insolent to pray, Aline. And I did no more than pray, as I
shall continue to do. You'll need my prayers, I think."
     "You  are  insufferable!"  She  was growing  angry, as  he saw  by  the
deepening frown, the heightened colour.
     "That is because I suffer. Oh, Aline, little cousin, think well of what
you do; think well of the  realities you will be bartering for these shams -
the  realities  that you  will never know, because  these cursed  shams will
block your  way to  them. When M. de La Tour d'Azyr comes to make his court,
study him well; consult your  fine instincts; leave  your own  noble  nature
free to judge this animal by its intuitions. Consider that... "
     "I consider, monsieur, that you presume upon the kindness I have always
shown you. You abuse the position of toleration in  which you stand. Who are
you? What are you, that you should have the insolence to take this tone with
me?"
     He bowed, instantly  his cold,  detached self  again, and  resumed  the
mockery that was his natural habit.
     "My congratulations, mademoiselle, upon  the  readiness with  which you
begin to adapt yourself to the great role you are to play."
     "Do  you  adapt  yourself  also, monsieur," she retorted  angrily,  and
turned her shoulder to him.
     "To  be as the dust beneath the haughty feet of  Madame  la Marquise. I
hope I shall know my place in future."
     The phrase arrested her. She turned to him again, and he perceived that
her eyes were shining now suspiciously. In an instant the mockery in him was
quenched in contrition.
     "Lord, what a beast I am, Aline!" he cried, as he advanced. "Forgive me
if you can."
     Almost had she turned to sue forgiveness from him.  But his  contrition
removed the need.
     "I'll try," said she, "provided that you undertake not to offend again.
     "But I shall," said he. "I am like that. I will fight to save you, from
yourself if need be, whether you forgive me or not."
     They were standing so,  confronting each other a little breathlessly, a
little defiantly, when the others issued from the porch.
     First came the Marquis of La Tour d'Azyr, Count of Solz, Knight  of the
Orders of the Holy Ghost and Saint Louis, and Brigadier in the armies of the
King. He was a tall, graceful man,  upright and soldierly  of carriage, with
his head disdainfully set  upon his shoulders. He was magnificently  dressed
in a full-skirted  coat  of mulberry velvet  that was laced with  gold.  His
waistcoat,  of velvet too, was of a  golden apricot colour; his breeches and
stockings  were of  black silk,  and his  lacquered,  red-heeled shoes  were
buckled in diamonds. His powdered hair was tied behind in a  broad ribbon of
watered silk; he carried a little  three-cornered hat under his  arm, and  a
gold-hilted slender dress-sword hung at his side.
     Considering him now in complete detachment, observing the  magnificence
of  him, the  elegance  of his  movements,  the  great  air, blending  in so
extraordinary a  manner disdain and  graciousness, Andre-Louis trembled  for
Aline. Here was  a practised, irresistible wooer, whose bonnes fortunes were
become a by-word, a man who had hitherto  been the despair of dowagers  with
marriageable  daughters,  and the  desolation  of  husbands  with attractive
wives.
     He was immediately followed by M. de Kercadiou, in completest contrast.
On legs  of  the  shortest, the Lord  of  Gavrillac carried  a  body that at
forty-five  was  beginning  to  incline  to corpulence and an  enormous head
containing  an  indifferent  allotment  of intelligence. His countenance was
pink  and  blotchy,  liberally branded  by  the  smallpox which  had  almost
extinguished him  in  youth.  In dress he  was  careless  to  the  point  of
untidiness, and  to  this  and to  the  fact that  he  had  never  married -
disregarding the first duty of a gentleman to provide himself with an heir -
he owed the character of misogynist attributed to him by the countryside.
     After   M.  de  Kercadiou   came   M.  de   Vilmorin,  very   pale  and
self-contained, with tight lips and an overcast brow.
     To  meet them,  there  stepped from the  carriage  a very elegant young
gentleman, the Chevalier de Chabrillane, M. de La Tour  d'Azyr's cousin, who
whilst awaiting his return had  watched with considerable interest - his own
presence unsuspected - the perambulations of Andre-Louis and mademoiselle.
     Perceiving  Aline, M. de  La  Tour  d'Azyr  detached  himself from  the
others, and lengthening his stride came straight across the terrace to her.
     To  Andre-Louis the  Marquis inclined  his head with  that  mixture  of
courtliness  and  condescension which he  used.  Socially, the  young lawyer
stood in a curious position. By virtue of the theory of his birth, he ranked
neither as noble nor as simple, but stood somewhere between the two classes,
and whilst claimed by neither he was used familiarly by  both. Coldly now he
returned M. de  La Tour d'Azyr's greeting, and discreetly removed himself to
go and join his friend.
     The Marquis took the hand that mademoiselle extended to him, and bowing
over it, bore it to his lips.
     "Mademoiselle," he said, looking into the blue depths of her eyes, that
met his gaze smiling and untroubled, "monsieur your uncle does me the honour
to  permit that  I pay my homage to  you. Will you,  mademoiselle, do me the
honour to receive me when I come to-morrow?  I shall have something of great
importance for your ear."
     "Of importance, M.  le Marquis? You almost  frighten me." But there was
no fear on the serene little face in its furred hood. It was not for nothing
that she had graduated in the Versailles school of artificialities.
     "That," said he, "is very far from my design."
     "But of importance to yourself, monsieur, or to me?"
     "To us both, I hope," he answered her, a world  of meaning in his fine,
ardent eyes.
     "You whet my curiosity, monsieur; and, of course, I am a dutiful niece.
It follows that I shall be honoured to receive you."
     "Not honoured, mademoiselle; you will confer  the honour.  To-morrow at
this hour, then, I shall have the felicity to wait upon you."
     He bowed again; and again  he bore her fingers  to  his lips, what time
she curtsied.  Thereupon, with no more than this formal breaking of the ice,
they parted.
     She was a little breathless now, a little dazzled by  the beauty of the
man, his princely air,  and  the confidence of power he  seemed  to radiate.
Involuntarily almost, she contrasted him with his critic
     -  the  lean and  impudent Andre-Louis  in his  plain  brown  coat  and
steel-buckled shoes -  and she  felt guilty  of an  unpardonable offence  in
having permitted even one word of that presumptuous criticism. To-morrow  M.
le  Marquis would  come to offer  her  a  great  position, a great rank. And
already she had derogated from the increase of dignity accruing  to her from
his very intention to translate her to so great an eminence. Not again would
she  suffer it;  not again would she  be so weak and childish as  to  permit
Andre-Louis to utter his  ribald comments upon a man by comparison with whom
he was no better than a lackey.
     Thus argued vanity  and ambition with her better  self and to her  vast
annoyance her better self would not admit entire conviction.
     Meanwhile, M.  de La Tour d'Azyr was climbing into his carriage. He had
spoken a word of farewell to M. de Kercadiou, and he had also had a word for
M. de  Vilmorin  in reply  to  which M. de  Vilmorin  had bowed in assenting
silence. The carriage  rolled away, the powdered  footman  in  blue-and-gold
very stiff behind it, M. de La Tour d'Azyr bowing to mademoiselle, who waved
to him in answer.
     Then  M. de Vilmorin put his  arm through that of Andre Louis, and said
to him, "Come, Andre."
     "But  you'll stay to dine, both of you!" cried  the  hospitable Lord of
Gavrillac.  "We'll drink a  certain toast," he added, winking  an  eye  that
strayed  towards  mademoiselle, who  was approaching. He  had no subtleties,
good soul that he was.
     M. de Vilmorin deplored an appointment that prevented him doing himself
the honour. He was very stiff and formal.
     "And you, Andre?"
     "I? Oh, I share the  appointment, godfather,"  he lied,  "and I  have a
superstition against  toasts." He had no wish  to remain. He was angry  with
Aline  for  her smiling reception  of  M. de  La Tour d'Azyr and  the sordid
bargain  he saw her  set  on  making.  He was suffering from the loss of  an
illusion.




     As  they walked down the hill together, it was  now M.  de Vilmorin who
was silent and  preoccupied,  Andre-Louis who was  talkative.  He had chosen
Woman as a subject for his present discourse. He claimed
     - quite unjustifiably - to have discovered Woman that morning; and  the
things he  had to  say of the sex were unflattering, and occasionally almost
gross.  M. de  Vilmorin, having  ascertained the  subject,  did not  listen.
Singular though it may  seem in  a  young  French  abbe  of his day,  M.  de
Vilmorin was  not interested  in  Woman. Poor Philippe was  in several  ways
exceptional. Opposite  the Breton  arme - the inn  and posting-house at  the
entrance  of the  village of Gavrillac  - M.  de  Vilmorin  interrupted  his
companion  just  as  he was  soaring  to  the  dizziest  heights of  caustic
invective, and  Andre-Louis, restored thereby to  actualities, observed  the
carriage of M. de La Tour d'Azyr standing before the door of the hostelry.
     "I don't believe you've been listening to me," said he.
     "Had  you been less interested in what you were saying, you might  have
observed it sooner and spared your breath. The fact is,  you disappoint  me,
Andre. You seem to have forgotten what we went for.  I  have an  appointment
here  with  M. le Marquis.  He desires to hear me further in  the matter. Up
there at Gavrillac I could accomplish nothing. The time was ill-chosen as it
happened. But I have hopes of M. le Marquis."
     "Hopes of what?"
     "That he  will make what reparation lies in his power.  Provide for the
widow and the orphans. Why else should he desire to hear me further?"
     "Unusual condescension," said Andre-Louis, and  quoted "Timeo Danaos et
dona ferentes."
     "Why?" asked Philippe.
     "Let us go and  discover - unless you  consider that I  shall be in the
way."
     Into a room on the right, rendered private to M. le Marquis for so long
as he  should elect to honour it, the  young men were ushered by the host. A
fire of logs was burning brightly at the room's far end, and by this sat now
M. de La Tour d'Azyr and his cousin, the Chevalier de Chabrillane. Both rose
as M. de Vilmorin came in. Andre-Louis following, paused to close the door.
     "You  oblige me  by your  prompt courtesy, M.  de Vilmorin,"  said  the
Marquis, but in a tone so cold as to belie the  politeness of his  words. "A
chair,  I  beg.  Ah,  Moreau?"  The note  was  frigidly  interrogative.  "He
accompanies you, monsieur?" he asked.
     "If you please, M. le Marquis."
     "Why not? Find yourself  a seat, Moreau." He spoke over his shoulder as
to a lackey.
     "It is good of you, monsieur," said  Philippe, "to have offered me this
opportunity  of  continuing  the subject that  took me so fruitlessly, as it
happens, to Gavrillac."
     The Marquis  crossed his legs,  and held one of his fine  hands to  the
blaze. He replied, without troubling  to  turn  to  the  young  man, who was
slightly behind him.
     "The  goodness  of  my request  we  will leave out  of question for the
moment," said he, darkly, and M. de Chabrillane laughed. Andre-Louis thought
him easily moved to mirth, and almost envied him the faculty.
     "But I am grateful,"  Philippe insisted, "that you should condescend to
hear me plead their cause.
     The Marquis stared at him over his shoulder. "Whose cause?" quoth he.
     "Why, the cause of the widow and orphans of this unfortunate Mabey."
     The  Marquis  looked  from  Vilmorin to  the Chevalier,  and  again the
Chevalier laughed, slapping his leg this time.
     "I  think," said  M. de  La  Tour  d'Azyr,  slowly,  "that  we  are  at
cross-purposes. I  asked you  to come  here because the Chateau de Gavrillac
was  hardly a suitable place in  which to carry our discussion  further, and
because I hesitated to incommode you by suggesting  that you should come all
the  way  to Azyr. But  my object is connected with certain expressions that
you let fall up there.  It is on the subject of those expressions, monsieur,
that I would hear you further - if you will honour me."
     Andre-Louis began to apprehend that there was something sinister in the
air. He  was  a man of  quick  intuitions, quicker  far  than those of M. de
Vilmorin, who evinced no more than a mild surprise.
     "I am at a loss, monsieur," said he. "To what expressions does monsieur
allude?"
     "It  seems, monsieur, that  I must  refresh  your  memory." The Marquis
crossed  his  legs,  and  swung  sideways on his  chair, so  that at last he
directly  faced M. de Vilmorin.  "You spoke, monsieur - and however mistaken
you  may  have  been, you spoke very eloquently, too  eloquently almost,  it
seemed to me - of the infamy of  such a deed as the  act  of summary justice
upon this thieving fellow Mabey, or whatever his name may be. Infamy was the
precise word you used. You did not retract that word  when I had the  honour
to inform you that it was by my orders that my gamekeeper Benet proceeded as
he did."
     "If," said M.  de Vilmorin, "the deed was infamous, its  infamy  is not
modified by the rank, however exalted, of the  person responsible. Rather is
it aggravated."
     "Ah!" said  M. le Marquis,  and drew  a gold snuffbox from his  pocket.
"You say, 'if the deed was infamous,' monsieur. Am I to understand that  you
are no longer as convinced as you appeared to be of its infamy?"
     M. de  Vilmorin's  fine  face  wore a look of perplexity.  He  did  not
understand the drift of this.
     "It occurs to me, M. le Marquis, in  view of  your readiness to  assume
responsibility, that  you must  believe justification for  the deed which is
not apparent to myself."
     "That is  better.  That is distinctly better."  The Marquis took  snuff
delicately,  dusting the fragments  from the  fine lace at his  throat. "You
realize  that with an  imperfect understanding  of these matters, not  being
yourself a landowner, you may have rushed to unjustifiable conclusions. That
is indeed  the  case. May it be a warning to you,  monsieur. When I tell you
that  for months past I have been annoyed by similar depredations, you  will
perhaps understand  that  it  had  become  necessary to  employ  a deterrent
sufficiently strong  to put an end to them. Now that the risk is known, I do
not think there  will be any more prowling  in my coverts. And there is more
in it than that, M. de Vilmorin.  It is  not the poaching  that annoys me so
much  as the  contempt for  my  absolute and  inviolable rights.  There  is,
monsieur,  as  you  cannot  fail  to   have  observed,  an  evil  spirit  of
insubordination in the air,  and there is one only way  in which to meet it.
To tolerate  it,  in however  slight a  degree,  to  show leniency,  however
leniently disposed, would entail having  recourse  to still harsher measures
to-morrow.  You  understand me,  I am sure,  and you will  also, I am  sure,
appreciate the condescension of what amounts to an explanation from me where
I cannot  admit that any explanations  were due. If anything in  what I have
said  is  still obscure to you, I  refer you  to  the game laws,  which your
lawyer friend there will expound for you at need."
     With that the gentleman swung round again to face the fire. It appeared
to convey the intimation that the interview was at an end. And  yet this was
not by any means the intimation that  it conveyed  to the watchful, puzzled,
vaguely uneasy  Andre-Louis.  It was,  thought he,  a very curious,  a  very
suspicious oration. It affected to explain, with a politeness of terms and a
calculated  insolence of  tone;  whilst  in  fact it  could  only  serve  to
stimulate and goad a man of M. de Vilmorin's opinions. And that is precisely
what it did. He rose.
     "Are there in the world  no laws but game laws?" he demanded,  angrily.
"Have you never by any chance heard of the laws of humanity?"
     The  Marquis  sighed  wearily. "What have  I to  do with  the  laws  of
humanity?" he wondered.
     M. de Vilmorin looked at him a moment in speechless amazement.
     "Nothing, M. le Marquis. That is - alas! - too obvious. I hope you will
remember it in the hour when  you may wish to appeal to those laws which you
now deride."
     M. de La Tour d'Azyr  threw back his head  sharply, his  high-bred face
imperious.
     "Now what  precisely shall that mean? It  is  not the first time to-day
that you have made use of dark  sayings that  I could almost believe to veil
the presumption of a threat."
     "Not a threat, M. le Marquis - a warning. A warning  that such deeds as
these against God's creatures... Oh, you  may  sneer, monsieur, but they are
God's creatures, even as you or I - neither more nor less, deeply though the
reflection may wound your pride, In His eyes... "
     "Of your charity, spare me a sermon, M. l'abbe!"
     "You mock, monsieur.  You laugh.  Will you  laugh,  I wonder, when  God
presents His reckoning to  you  for the blood  and  plunder with which  your
hands are full?"
     "Monsieur!"  The word, sharp  as  the crack of  a whip, was from  M. de
Chabrillane, who bounded  to his feet. But  instantly  the Marquis repressed
him.
     "Sit down, Chevalier. You are interrupting M. l'abbe, and I should like
to hear him further. He interests me profoundly."
     In  the background Andre-Louis,  too, had risen, brought to his feet by
alarm, by the evil that he saw written on the handsome face of M. de La Tour
d'Azyr. He approached, and touched his friend upon the arm.
     "Better be going, Philippe," said he.
     But M.  de  Vilmorin, caught  in the  relentless grip of passions  long
repressed, was being hurried by them recklessly along.
     "Oh,  monsieur," said he, "consider what you are and what you will  be.
Consider how you and your kind live by abuses, and consider the harvest that
abuses must ultimately bring."
     "Revolutionist!"  said  M. le Marquis,  contemptuously.  "You  have the
effrontery to stand before  my face and offer me  this stinking cant of your
modern so-called intellectuals!"
     "Is it cant, monsieur? Do you think - do you believe in your soul
     - that it is cant? Is  it cant that  the feudal grip  is on  all things
that live, crushing  them like grapes in the press, to its  own profit? Does
it not exercise its rights upon the waters of the river, the fire that bakes
the poor man's bread of grass and barley, on  the wind  that turns the mill?
The peasant cannot take  a step upon the road,  cross  a crazy bridge over a
river, buy  an ell of  cloth in the village market,  without  meeting feudal
rapacity, without  being  taxed in  feudal dues.  Is  not that enough, M. le
Marquis?  Must  you also demand his wretched life  in payment for  the least
infringement of your sacred  privileges, careless of what  widows or orphans
you dedicate to woe? Will naught  content you but that your shadow  must lie
like a curse upon the land? And do you think in your pride that France, this
Job among the nations, will suffer it forever?"
     He paused as if for a reply. But none came. The Marquis considered him,
strangely silent, a half smile  of disdain at the corners  of his  lips,  an
ominous hardness in his eyes.
     Again Andre-Louis tugged at his friend's sleeve.
     "Philippe."
     Philippe shook him off, and plunged on, fanatically.
     "Do you see nothing of the  gathering clouds that herald  the coming of
the storm?  You  imagine, perhaps, that these States General summoned  by M.
Necker, and promised for next year, are to do nothing but devise fresh means
of  extortion  to  liquidate  the   bankruptcy  of  the  State?  You  delude
yourselves,  as  you shall find. The Third  Estate, which you despise,  will
prove itself the preponderating force, and it will find a way to make an end
of this canker of privilege that is devouring the vitals of this unfortunate
country."
     M. le Marquis shifted in his chair, and spoke at last.
     "You have, monsieur," said he, "a very dangerous gift of eloquence. And
it is of yourself rather than of your  subject. For after all, what  do  you
offer me? A  rechauffe of the dishes served to out-at-elbow  enthusiasts  in
the  provincial literary  chambers,  compounded  of  the  effusions  of your
Voltaires and Jean-Jacques  and such dirty-fingered scribblers. You have not
among all your philosophers one  with the wit to understand  that we are  an
order consecrated  by antiquity, that for our  rights and privileges we have
behind us the authority of centuries."
     "Humanity, monsieur," Philippe replied, "is more ancient than nobility.
Human rights are contemporary with man."
     The Marquis laughed and shrugged.
     "That is the  answer I  might have expected. It has the  right  note of
cant that distinguishes the philosophers." And then M. de Chabrillane spoke.
     "You  go  a long way  round," he criticized his  cousin,  on  a note of
impatience.
     "But  I am getting there," he  was answered. "I  desired to make  quite
certain first."
     "Faith, you should have no doubt by now."
     "I have  none." The Marquis rose, and turned again  to M. de  Vilmorin,
who had understood nothing of that brief exchange. "M. l'abbe," said he once
more, "you have a very dangerous  gift of  eloquence. I  can conceive of men
being swayed  by it.  Had you been born a gentleman, you would not so easily
have acquired these false views that you express."
     M. de Vilmorin stared blankly, uncomprehending.
     "Had I  been born  a gentleman,  do you  say?" quoth  he,  in  a  slow,
bewildered  voice. "But I was born a  gentleman. My race is as old, my blood
as good as yours, monsieur."
     >From M. le  Marquis there  was  a  slight play of eyebrows,  a  vague,
indulgent smile. His dark, liquid eyes looked squarely  into  the face of M.
de Vilmorin.
     "You have been deceived in that, I fear."
     "Deceived?"
     "Your sentiments  betray the  indiscretion  of which madame your mother
must have been guilty."
     The brutally  affronting  words were sped beyond  recall,  and the lips
that  had uttered them, coldly, as if they had  been the merest commonplace,
remained calm and faintly sneering.
     A  dead  silence  followed.  Andre-Louis'  wits  were numbed. He  stood
aghast,  all  thought  suspended in  him,  what  time M.  de Vilmorin's eyes
continued fixed  upon M. de  La Tour d'Azyr's, as  if searching there  for a
meaning that eluded him. Quite suddenly he understood the  vile affront. The
blood leapt to his face, fire blazed in his gentle eyes. A convulsive quiver
shook him. Then,  with an inarticulate cry, he leaned forward,  and with his
open hand struck M. le Marquis full and hard upon his sneering face.
     In a flash M. de Chabrillane was on his feet, between the two men.
     Too late Andre-Louis had seen the trap. La Tour d'Azyr's words were but
as  a move in  a game of chess,  calculated to exasperate  his opponent into
some  such counter-move as  this -  a counter-move that left him entirely at
the other's mercy.
     M.  le Marquis  looked  on,  very  white  save where  M.  de Vilmorin's
finger-prints  began slowly to  colour his  face; but he  said nothing more.
Instead,  it was M. de Chabrillane  who now  did  the talking, taking up his
preconcerted part in this vile game.
     "You realize,  monsieur, what  you  have  done,"  said  he, coldly,  to
Philippe. "And you realize, of course, what must inevitably follow."
     M. de Vilmorin had realized nothing. The poor young  man had acted upon
impulse,  upon  the  instinct  of decency and  honour,  never  counting  the
consequences. But he realized them now  at  the sinister invitation of M. de
Chabrillane, and if he  desired to avoid these  consequences,  it was out of
respect for his priestly vocation, which  strictly  forbade such adjustments
of disputes as M. de Chabrillane was clearly thrusting upon him.
     He drew back. "Let one affront wipe out the other," said he, in a  dull
voice. "The balance is still in M.  le Marquis's  favour.  Let  that content
him."
     "Impossible." The Chevalier's lips came together tightly. Thereafter he
was suavity itself,  but  very firm. "A blow  has been  struck, monsieur.  I
think I am correct in saying that such a thing has never  happened before to
M. le Marquis in all his life. If  you felt yourself  affronted, you had but
to ask the satisfaction due from one gentleman to another. Your action would
seem to confirm the assumption that you found so offensive.  But it does not
on that account render you immune from the consequences."
     It was, you see, M. de Chabrillane's part to heap coals upon this fire,
to make quite sure that their victim should not escape them.
     "I desire no immunity,"  flashed back  the  young seminarist,  stung by
this fresh  goad. After all,  he was nobly born, and  the  traditions of his
class were strong upon him - stronger far than the seminarist  schooling  in
humility.  He owed it  to himself, to his honour, to be  killed  rather than
avoid the consequences of the thing he had done.
     "But he does not wear a sword, messieurs!" cried Andre Louis, aghast.
     "That is easily amended. He may have the loan of mine."
     "I mean, messieurs," Andre-Louis insisted, between  fear for his friend
and indignation, "that it is not his  habit  to wear  a sword, that  he  has
never worn one,  that he is untutored in its  uses. He is  a seminarist  - a
postulant for holy orders, already half a priest, and so forbidden from such
an engagement as you propose."
     "All that he  should have remembered before he  struck a blow," said M.
de Chabrillane, politely.
     "The  blow  was  deliberately  provoked,"  raged Andre-Louis.  Then  he
recovered  himself, though the  other's haughty  stare had no  part in  that
recovery. "0 my God, I talk in vain! How is one to argue  against a  purpose
formed! Come away, Philippe. Don't you see the trap... "
     M. de  Vilmorin cut him short, and flung  him off. "Be quiet, Andre. M.
le Marquis is entirely in the right."
     "M.  le Marquis  is  in  the  right?"  Andre-Louis let  his  arms  fall
helplessly. This man  he loved above  all other living men was caught in the
snare of the world's insanity. He was baring his breast to the knife for the
sake of  a vague, distorted  sense of the  honour due to himself. It was not
that  he  did  not see  the  trap. It was  that his honour compelled  him to
disdain  consideration of  it.  To Andre-Louis in  that  moment  he seemed a
singularly tragic figure. Noble, perhaps, but very pitiful.




     It was M. de Vilmorin's desire that the matter should be settled out of
hand.  In this  he was at once objective and  subjective. A prey to emotions
sadly at conflict  with his priestly vocation,  he was above all in haste to
have done, so that he might resume a frame of mind  more  proper to it. Also
he feared  himself a  little;  by which I  mean that  his honour feared  his
nature. The circumstances of his education, and the goal that for some years
now  he had  kept in view, had robbed him of much of that spirited brutality
that  is  the birthright  of  the male.  He had  grown timid and gentle as a
woman. Aware of it, he feared that once the heat of his passion was spent he
might betray a dishonouring weakness, in the ordeal.
     M.  le Marquis,  on  his  side,  was  no less  eager  for an  immediate
settlement; and since they had M.  de Chabrillane to act for his cousin, and
Andre-Louis to serve as  witness for M.  de  Vilmorin, there was  nothing to
delay them.
     And so, within a few  minutes, all arrangements were concluded, and you
behold that  sinisterly intentioned  little  group of four assembled in  the
afternoon sunshine  on the bowling-green behind the  inn. They were entirely
private, screened more or less from the  windows of the house by a ramage of
trees, which, if  leafless  now, was at  least  dense  enough to provide  an
effective lattice.
     There  were no formalities over measurements  of blades or selection of
ground. M. le Marquis removed  his sword-belt and scabbard, but declined not
considering  it worth while for the sake of so  negligible an opponent -  to
divest himself either of his shoes  or his coat. Tall,  lithe, and athletic,
he stood  to face the  no  less  tall,  but very delicate  and  frail, M. de
Vilmorin. The  latter also  disdained to make any of the usual preparations.
Since he recognized that it  could avail him nothing  to strip, he  came  on
guard fully  dressed,  two hectic spots above the cheek-bones burning on his
otherwise grey face.
     M. de Chabrillane,  leaning upon a cane - for he had  relinquished  his
sword to M. de  Vilmorin - looked on with quiet interest.  Facing him on the
other side  of the  combatants stood Andre-Louis,  the  palest of the  four,
staring from fevered eyes, twisting and untwisting clammy hands.
     His every  instinct was to  fling  himself  between the antagonists, to
protest against  and frustrate this meeting. That sane impulse  was  curbed,
however, by the consciousness of its  futility. To calm him, he clung to the
conviction  that  the  issue  could  not  really  be  very  serious.  If the
obligations of Philippe's honour compelled him to cross swords with  the man
he had struck, M. de La  Tour d'Azyr's birth  compelled him no less to do no
serious hurt to  the  unfledged  lad he had  so grievously  provoked.  M. le
Marquis, after all,  was a man of honour.  He could intend no  more than  to
administer a lesson; sharp, perhaps, but one by which his opponent must live
to profit. Andre-Louis clung obstinately to that for comfort.
     Steel beat on steel, and the men engaged. The  Marquis presented to his
opponent the narrow edge of his upright body,  his knees slightly flexed and
converted into living springs, whilst M. de Vilmorin stood  squarely, a full
target, his knees wooden. Honour and the spirit of fair play alike cried out
against such a match.
     The  encounter  was very  short,  of course.  In  youth,  Philippe  had
received the  tutoring in sword-play that was given to  every boy  born into
his station of life. And  so he knew at least the rudiments of what was  now
expected of him. But what  could rudiments avail him here?  Three disengages
completed the  exchanges, and then  without  any haste the Marquis  slid his
right foot along the moist turf, his long, graceful body extending itself in
a lunge that went under M. de Vilmorin's  clumsy guard, and with the  utmost
deliberation he drove his blade through the young man's vitals.
     Andre-Louis  sprang  forward  just  in  time to catch his friend's body
under the armpits as  it sank. Then, his own legs bending beneath the weight
of it, he went down with his burden  until he was kneeling on the damp turf.
Philippe's limp  head  lay against  Andre-Louis' left  shoulder;  Philippe's
relaxed  arms trailed at his  sides;  the  blood welled and bubbled from the
ghastly wound to saturate the poor lad's garments.
     With  white face and twitching lips, Andre-Louis looked up at M. de  La
Tour  d'Azyr, who stood surveying  his work with a  countenance of grave but
remorseless interest.
     "You have killed him!" cried Andre-Louis.
     "Of course."
     The Marquis ran a lace handkerchief  along  his blade to wipe it. As he
let the dainty fabric fall,  he explained himself. "He had, as I told him, a
too dangerous gift of eloquence."
     And he turned away,  leaving completest understanding with Andre-Louis.
Still supporting the limp, draining body, the young man called to him.
     "Come  back,  you  cowardly  murderer, and make yourself quite  safe by
killing me too!"
     The Marquis  half  turned,  his  face  dark  with  anger.  Then  M.  de
Chabrillane set a restraining hand upon his arm. Although a party throughout
to the deed, the Chevalier was a little appalled now  that  it  was done. He
had not the high stomach of M. de La  Tour  d'Azyr,  and he was a  good deal
younger.
     "Come away," he said. "The lad is raving. They were friends."
     "You heard what he said?" quoth the Marquis.
     "Nor  can he, or  you,  or any man  deny  it," flung  back Andre-Louis.
"Yourself, monsieur, you made confession when you gave me now the reason why
you killed him. You did it because you feared him."
     "If that were true - what, then?" asked the great gentleman.
     "Do you ask? Do you understand of life  and humanity nothing but how to
wear a  coat and  dress your hair - oh, yes, and to handle  weapons  against
boys and priests? Have you no mind to think, no soul into which you can turn
its vision? Must you be told that it is a coward's part to kill the thing he
fears, and doubly a  coward's part to  kill in this way? Had you stabbed him
in the back with a knife, you would have shown the courage of your vileness.
It would  have  been a vileness undisguised. But you feared the consequences
of  that,  powerful as you  are; and so you shelter your cowardice under the
pretext of a duel."
     The  Marquis  shook  off his cousin's  hand, and  took a  step forward,
holding  now his sword like a whip. But again  the Chevalier caught and held
him.
     "No, no, Gervais! Let be, in God's name!"
     "Let  him  come,  monsieur,"  raved  Andre-Louis, his  voice  thick and
concentrated.  "Let  him  complete  his coward's work  on  me, and thus make
himself safe from a coward's wages."
     M.  de  Chabrillane  let his cousin go.  He came white to the lips, his
eyes glaring at the lad who so recklessly insulted him. And then he checked.
It may be  that he remembered suddenly the relationship in which this  young
man was  popularly  believed to stand to the Seigneur de Gavrillac, and  the
well-known  affection in which the Seigneur  held  him.  And so  he may have
realized that if he pushed this matter further, he might  find himself  upon
the horns  of  a dilemma.  He would be  confronted with the alternatives  of
shedding more blood, and so embroiling himself with the Lord of Gavrillac at
a time when that gentleman's friendship was of the first importance  to him,
or  else of withdrawing with such hurt  to  his  dignity  as must impair his
authority in the countryside hereafter.
     Be  it so or otherwise,  the fact remains that  he stopped short; then,
with an incoherent ejaculation, between  anger and contempt,  he  tossed his
arms, turned on his heel and strode off quickly with his cousin.
     When the landlord and his people came, they found Andre-Louis, his arms
about the body of his dead friend, murmuring  passionately into the deaf ear
that rested almost against his lips:
     "Philippe! Speak to me, Philippe! Philippe... Don't you hear me?  0 God
of Heaven! Philippe!"
     At a glance they saw that here  neither priest nor doctor could  avail.
The cheek that lay against Andre-Louis's was leaden-hued, the half-open eyes
were glazed, and there was a little froth of blood upon the vacuously parted
lips.
     Half  blinded by tears  Andre-Louis stumbled after them  when they bore
the body into  the inn. Upstairs in the little  room to  which they conveyed
it, he knelt by the bed, and holding the dead man's hand in both his own, he
swore to him out of his impotent rage that M. de La Tour d'Azyr should pay a
bitter price for this.
     "It was your eloquence he feared, Philippe," he said. Then if I can get
no justice for  this deed, at least it shall be fruitless to him. The  thing
he feared in you, he shall fear in me. He feared that men might be swayed by
your eloquence to the undoing of such things as himself. Men shall be swayed
by it still. For your eloquence and your arguments shall be my heritage from
you.  I  will make them my own. It matters  nothing that I do not believe in
your gospel of  freedom. I  know it  -  every  word of it; that  is all that
matters to  our purpose, yours and  mine. If  all else fails, your  thoughts
shall  find expression in my  living tongue.  Thus  at least we  shall  have
frustrated his  vile aim to still  the voice he feared. It shall profit  him
nothing to have your blood upon his soul. That voice in you would never half
so  relentlessly have  hounded him and his as it  shall in  me - if all else
fails."
     It was an exulting thought. It calmed him; it soothed his grief, and he
began very softly to pray. And then his heart trembled as he considered that
Philippe, a man of peace, almost  a  priest, an apostle of Christianity, had
gone to his Maker with the sin of  anger on  his soul.  It was horrible. Yet
God would see the righteousness of that anger.  And  in no  case - be  man's
interpretation of Divinity  what  it might - could that one sin outweigh the
loving good that Philippe had ever practised, the  noble purity of his great
heart. God after all, reflected Andre-Louis, was not a grand-seigneur.
     M. de Kercadiou stared at him blankly out of his pale




     For  the second  time that  day Andre-Louis set  out  for the  chateau,
walking briskly, and heeding not at all the  curious eyes that  followed him
through the village, and the whisperings that marked his passage through the
people, all agog by now with that day's event in which he had been an actor.
     He   was  ushered   by   Benoit,  the   elderly   body-servant,  rather
grandiloquently  called the  seneschal,  into  the ground-floor  room  known
traditionally  as  the  library.  It  still  contained  several  shelves  of
neglected volumes, from which it derived  its title, but implements  of  the
chase - fowling-pieces, powder-horns, hunting-bags, sheath-knives - obtruded
far more prominently  than those of study. The furniture was massive, of oak
richly carved, and belonging to another age. Great massive oak beams crossed
the rather lofty whitewashed ceiling.
     Here  the  squat  Seigneur  de  Gavrillac was  restlessly  pacing  when
Andre-Louis was  introduced.  He was already informed,  as he  announced  at
once, of what had taken place at the Breton arme. M. de Chabrillane had just
left him, and he confessed himself deeply grieved and deeply perplexed.
     "The pity of it!" he  said.  "The  pity  of it!" He  bowed his enormous
head. "So  estimable a young man, and  so full  of promise. Ah, this La Tour
d'Azyr is a hard man, and he feels very strongly in these matters. He may be
right. I  don't know. I  have never killed a man for holding different views
from mine. In fact, I have never killed a man at all. It isn't in my nature.
I shouldn't sleep of nights if I did. But men are differently made."
     "The question, monsieur my godfather," said Andre-Louis, "is what is to
be done." He was quite calm and self-possessed, but very white.
     M. de Kercadiou stared at him blankly out of his pale eyes.
     "Why, what the devil is there to do? From what I am told, Vilmorin went
so far as to strike M. le Marquis."
     "Under the very grossest provocation."
     "Which he  himself provoked by his  revolutionary  language.  The  poor
lad's  head  was full of  this encyclopaedist  trash.  It comes of too  much
reading. I have never set much store by books, Andre; and I have never known
anything but  trouble to come  out of  learning.  It  unsettles  a  man.  It
complicates his views of life, destroys the simplicity which makes for peace
of mind and happiness. Let this miserable affair be a warning to you, Andre.
You  are,  yourself, too prone to  these  new-fashioned speculations upon  a
different  constitution  of the  social order. You see  what comes of  it. A
fine,  estimable young man, the only prop of his widowed mother too, forgets
himself,  his  position, his duty  to that mother - everything; and goes and
gets himself killed like  this. It is infernally sad. On my soul it is sad."
He produced a handkerchief, and blew his nose with vehemence.
     Andre-Louis  felt a tightening of his heart, a lessening of  the hopes,
never too sanguine, which he had founded upon his godfather.
     "Your criticisms," he said,  "are all for  the conduct of the dead, and
none for that of the murderer. It does not seem possible  that you should be
in sympathy with such a crime.
     "Crime?" shrilled M. de Kercadiou. "My God, boy, you are speaking of M.
de La Tour d'Azyr."
     "I am, and of the abominable murder he has committed... "
     "Stop!"  M. de  Kercadiou was very emphatic. "I cannot  permit that you
apply such terms to him. I cannot permit it. M. le Marquis is my friend, and
is likely very soon to stand in a still closer relationship."
     "Notwithstanding this?" asked Andre-Louis.
     M. de Kercadiou was frankly impatient.
     "Why,  what  has this  to do  with it? I may deplore it. But I have  no
right  to condemn it. It is  a common  way of adjusting differences  between
gentlemen."
     "You really believe that?"
     "What the devil do you imply, Andre? Should I  say a thing that I don't
believe? You begin to make me angry."
     "'Thou shalt not kill,' is the King's law as well as God's."
     "You are determined to quarrel with me, I think. It was a duel... "
     Andre-Louis interrupted him. "It is no more  a duel than if it had been
fought  with pistols  of which only  M. le Marquis 's was loaded. He invited
Philippe to discuss  the  matter  further,  with the  deliberate  intent  of
forcing a quarrel upon him and killing him. Be patient with me, monsieur  my
god-father. I am  not telling you of what  I imagine but what  M. le Marquis
himself admitted to me."
     Dominated a  little by the  young man's  earnestness, M. de Kercadiou's
pale  eyes  fell away.  He  turned with a shrug, and  sauntered over to  the
window.
     "It would need a court  of honour to decide such  an issue. And we have
no courts of honour," he said.
     "But we have courts of justice."
     With  returning  testiness the seigneur swung  round to face him again.
"And what court of justice, do you think, would listen to such a plea as you
appear to have in mind?"
     "There is the court of the King's Lieutenant at Rennes."
     "And do you think the King's Lieutenant would listen to you?"
     "Not to me, perhaps, Monsieur. But if you were to bring the plaint... "
     "I bring the plaint?" M. de Kercadiou's pale eyes were wide with horror
of the suggestion.
     "The thing happened here on your domain."
     "I  bring a plaint against M. de La  Tour  d'Azyr! You are out of  your
senses, I  think. Oh, you are mad; as  mad as that  poor friend of yours who
has  come to  this end through meddling  in what  did  not concern  him. The
language he used here to M. le Marquis on the score of Mabey was of the most
offensive. Perhaps you didn't know that. It does not at all surprise me that
the Marquis should have desired satisfaction."
     "I see," said Andre-Louis, on a note of hopelessness.
     "You see? What the devil do you see?"
     "That I shall have to depend upon myself alone."
     "And what the devil do you propose to do, if you please?"
     "I shall go to Rennes, and lay the facts before the King's Lieutenant."
     "He'll  be  too busy to  see you." And M.  de  Kercadiou's mind swung a
trifle  inconsequently,  as  weak minds  will.  "There  is trouble enough in
Rennes already  on the score  of these crazy  States General, with which the
wonderful M.  Necker  is  to repair  the finances of the  kingdom.  As  if a
peddling Swiss bank-clerk, who is also a  damned  Protestant,  could succeed
where such men as Calonne and Brienne have failed."
     "Good-afternoon, monsieur my godfather," said Andre-Louis.
     "Where are you going?" was the querulous demand.
     "Home at present. To Rennes in the morning."
     "Wait, boy,  wait!" The  squat little man  rolled forward, affectionate
concern  on  his  great ugly face, and he set one of his podgy hands  on his
godson's shoulder. "Now listen  to  me, Andre," he  reasoned. "This is sheer
knight-errantry -  moonshine, lunacy. You'11 come  to no good  by it  if you
persist. You've read 'Don  Quixote,' and what happened to  him  when he went
tilting against  windmills. It's  what will happen to you,  neither more nor
less. Leave things as they are, my boy. I wouldn't have a mischief happen to
you."
     Andre-Louis looked at him, smiling wanly.
     "I swore an oath to-day which it would damn my soul to break."
     "You  mean  that  you'll go  in spite  of anything  that  I  may  say?"
Impetuous as he was inconsequent, M. de Kercadiou was bristling again. "Very
well, then, go... Go to the devil!"
     "I will begin with the King's Lieutenant."
     "And if you get into the trouble you are seeking, don't come whimpering
to me for  assistance," the seigneur stormed. He was very  angry now. "Since
you  choose to  disobey  me,  you  can  break your  empty  head  against the
windmill, and be damned to you."
     Andre-Louis bowed with a touch of irony, and reached the door.
     "If  the  windmill  should prove too  formidable," said  he,  from  the
threshold, "I  may see what can be done with the wind. Good-bye, monsieur my
godfather."
     He  was gone, and M.  de  Kercadiou  was  alone,  purple  in  the face,
puzzling  out that last cryptic utterance, and not at all happy in his mind,
either on  the  score of  his godson or of M.  de  La  Tour  d'Azyr.  He was
disposed  to be angry with them both. He found these headstrong, wilful  men
who relentlessly followed their own impulses very disturbing and irritating.
Himself he loved his ease,  and to be at peace with his neighbours; and that
seemed to him so obviously the supreme  good of life that he was disposed to
brand them as fools who troubled to seek other things.




     There  was between Nantes  and Rennes  an established  service of three
stage-coaches  weekly  in  each  direction,  which for  a sum of twenty-four
livres - roughly, the equivalent of an English guinea
     -  would  carry you the seventy and  odd  miles of the  journey in some
fourteen  hours. Once a week one  of the diligences  going in each direction
would swerve aside from the highroad to call at Gavrillac, to bring and take
letters, newspapers, and sometimes passengers. It was usually by  this coach
that Andre-Louis  came and  went when  the  occasion  offered.  At  present,
however, he was too much in haste to lose a day awaiting the passing of that
diligence.  So it was on a horse hired from the Breton arme that he set  out
next  morning; and  an  hour's brisk  ride  under a grey  wintry sky,  by  a
half-ruined road through ten miles of  flat, uninteresting country,  brought
him to the city of Rennes.
     He rode  across the main bridge over the Vilaine, and so into the upper
and principal  part of  that important city  of some thirty  thousand souls,
most of  whom, he  opined from the seething, clamant crowds that  everywhere
blocked  his  way, must on  this  day  have taken to  the  streets.  Clearly
Philippe had not overstated the excitement prevailing there.
     He pushed on as best he could, and so came at last to the Place Royale,
where he found the crowd to be most dense. From the plinth of the equestrian
statue  of Louis  XV,  a white-faced  young man was excitedly addressing the
multitude. His youth  and dress proclaimed  the student, and a  group of his
fellows, acting as a guard of honour to him, kept the immediate precincts of
the statue.
     Over the heads of the crowd Andre-Louis  caught a  few  of  the phrases
flung forth by that eager voice.
     "It  was the  promise of  the King...  It is the King's  authority they
flout... They arrogate to themselves the  whole sovereignty in Brittany. The
King has dissolved them... These insolent nobles defying their sovereign and
the people... "
     Had  he  not  known  already, from  what  Philippe had told him, of the
events  which had brought  the Third  Estate to the point of active  revolt,
those few phrases would fully  have  informed  him.  This popular display of
temper was most opportune to his need, he  thought. And in the hope  that it
might serve his turn by  disposing  to reasonableness the mind of the King's
Lieutenant, he  pushed on  up the wide and well-paved Rue  Royale, where the
concourse of people began to diminish. He put up his hired horse at the Come
de Cerf, and set out again, on foot, to the Palais de Justice.
     There was  a brawling mob by  the  framework of poles and  scaffoldings
about the building cathedral, upon which work had been commenced a year ago.
But he did not pause to ascertain the particular cause of that gathering. He
strode on, and  thus came  presently to the handsome  Italianate palace that
was one of the few public edifices hat had survived the devastating fire  of
sixty years ago.
     He won through with difficulty to the  great hall, known  as  the Salle
des Pas Perdus,  where he  was left to cool his  heels for a  full half-hour
after he  had found an  usher  so condescending  as  to  inform  the god who
presided over that shrine  of  Justice that a lawyer  from Gavrillac  humbly
begged an audience on an affair of gravity.
     That the god condescended to  see  him  at all was probably due  to the
grave complexion of  the hour. At long length he  was escorted up the  broad
stone staircase, and  ushered into a spacious,  meagrely furnished anteroom,
to make one of a waiting crowd of clients, mostly men.
     There he spent another half-hour, and employed the time  in considering
exactly what he should say. This consideration made him realize the weakness
of the case he proposed to set before a man whose  views of law and morality
were coloured by his social rank.
     At  last he  was ushered through a narrow but  very massive and  richly
decorated door into a fine, well-lighted room furnished with enough gilt and
satin to have supplied the boudoir of a lady of fashion.
     It  was a trivial setting for a King's Lieutenant, but about the King's
Lieutenant  there was - at  least to ordinary eyes - nothing trivial. At the
far end of the chamber, to  the right of one of the tall windows that looked
out  over  the inner court, before a goat-legged writing-table with  Watteau
panels, heavily  encrusted  with  ormolu, sat  that  exalted  being. Above a
scarlet coat with  an order flaming on its breast,  and a billow of lace  in
which  diamonds sparkled  like drops of water, sprouted the massive powdered
head of M. de  Lesdiguieres. It  was thrown  back to scowl upon this visitor
with an  expectant arrogance  that made  Andre-Louis  wonder  almost  was  a
genuflexion awaited from him.
     Perceiving a lean, lantern-jawed young man,  with  straight, lank black
hair, in a caped riding-coat of brown  cloth, and yellow  buckskin breeches,
his knee-boots splashed with mud, the scowl upon that August visage deepened
until it brought  together  the thick black eyebrows above  the great hooked
nose.
     "You  announce  yourself  as  a  lawyer of Gavrillac with an  important
communication,"  he  growled.  It  was  a  peremptory  command to make  this
communication  without wasting the valuable  time of a King's Lieutenant, of
whose  immense importance  it  conveyed something  more than  a  hint. M. de
Lesdiguieres accounted himself an imposing personality,  and  he  had  every
reason to do so, for in his time he had seen many a poor devil scared out of
all his senses by the thunder of his voice.
     He waited now to see the same thing happen to this youthful lawyer from
Gavrillac. But he waited in vain.
     Andre-Louis found him ridiculous. He knew pretentiousness for the  mask
of worthlessness and weakness. And here he beheld pretentiousness incarnate.
It was to  be read in that arrogant poise of the head,  that scowling  brow,
the inflexion  of that reverberating voice. Even  more difficult  than it is
for a man to be a hero to his valet - who has witnessed the dispersal of the
parts that make up the imposing whole - is it for a man to be a hero to  the
student of Man who has witnessed the same in a different sense.
     Andre-Louis   stood  forward  boldly  -  impudently,   thought   M.  de
Lesdiguieres.
     "You are His Majesty's Lieutenant here in  Brittany," he said -  and it
almost seemed to the August lord of life and  death that this fellow had the
incredible effrontery to address him  as one  man speaking  to another. "You
are the dispenser of the King's high justice in this province."
     Surprise  spread  on  that  handsome,  sallow  face under  the  heavily
powdered wig.
     "Is your  business concerned with  this infernal insubordination of the
canaille?" he asked.
     "It is not, monsieur."
     The black eyebrows rose. "Then what the devil do you mean  by intruding
upon  me at  a  time when all my attention  is being claimed by  the obvious
urgency of this disgraceful affair?"
     "The affair that brings me is no less disgraceful and no less urgent."
     "It will  have to  wait!"  thundered the  great  man  in a passion, and
tossing back a cloud of lace from his hand, he reached for the little silver
bell upon his table.
     "A   moment,  monsieur!"  Andre-Louis'  tone  was  peremptory.   M.  de
Lesdiguieres  checked  in sheer amazement at its impudence.  "I can state it
very briefly... "
     "Haven't I said already... "
     "And  when  you  have heard  it,"  Andre-Louis  went  on, relentlessly,
interrupting the interruption, "you will agree with me as to its character."
     M. de Lesdiguieres considered him very sternly.
     "What is your name?" he asked.
     "Andre-Louis Moreau."
     "Well,  Andre-Louis Moreau, if you can state  your plea briefly, I will
hear you. But I warn you that I shall be  very angry  if you fail to justify
the impertinence of this insistence at so inopportune a moment."
     "You  shall be the judge of  that, monsieur,"  said Andre-Louis, and he
proceeded at  once to state  his case, beginning with the shooting of Mabey,
and passing thence to  the killing of M. de Vilmorin. But he withheld  until
the  end the name of  the great gentleman  against whom he demanded justice,
persuaded  that  did he  introduce it  earlier  he would  not be  allowed to
proceed.
     He  had a  gift of oratory of whose  full  powers he was himself hardly
conscious  yet, though destined very soon to become so..  He  told his story
well,  without  exaggeration, yet  with a  force  of simple appeal  that was
irresistible.  Gradually the  great man's face relaxed from  its  forbidding
severity. Interest, warming almost to sympathy, came to be reflected on it.
     "And who, sir, is the man you charge with this?"
     "The Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr."
     The  effect of that formidable name was immediate.  Dismayed anger, and
an  arrogance more  utter than before, took the place of the sympathy he had
been betrayed into displaying.
     "Who?" he  shouted, and without  waiting for  an  answer,  "Why, here's
impudence,"  he stormed on, "to come before me with such a charge  against a
gentleman of M. de La Tour d'Azyr's eminence! How dare you speak of him as a
coward."
     "I speak of him as  a murderer," the young man corrected. "And I demand
justice against him."
     "You demand it, do you? My God, what next?"
     "That is for you to say, monsieur."
     It surprised the great gentleman into  a more or less successful effort
of self-control.
     "Let me warn you,"  said he, acidly, "that it  is not wise to make wild
accusations against a nobleman. That, in itself, is a punishable offence, as
you may learn. Now  listen  to me. In this  matter of Mabey -  assuming your
statement of it to be exact - the gamekeeper may have exceeded his duty; but
by so little that it is hardly worth comment. Consider, however, that in any
case it is not a matter for the King's Lieutenant, or for any court  but the
seigneurial  court of  M.  de  La  Tour  d'Azyr  himself. It  is before  the
magistrates of his own appointing  that such a matter must be laid, since it
is matter strictly concerning  his own seigneurial jurisdiction. As a lawyer
you should not need to be told so much."
     "As a lawyer, I am prepared to argue the point. But, as a lawyer I also
realize that if that case were  prosecuted, it could  only end in the unjust
punishment  of a wretched  gamekeeper, who did  no more than  carry  out his
orders, but  who  none the less would now be made a  scapegoat, if scapegoat
were necessary. I am not concerned to hang Benet on the gallows earned by M.
de La Tour d'Azyr."
     M.  de Lesdiguieres smote the table violently. "My God!" he cried  out,
to add more quietly, on a note of menace,  "You are  singularly insolent, my
man."
     "That is not my intention, sir, I assure you. I am a lawyer, pleading a
case - the  case of M. de Vilmorin. It is for his assassination  that I have
come to beg the King's justice."
     "But you  yourself have said that it was a duel!" cried the Lieutenant,
between anger and bewilderment.
     "I have said that it was made to appear a duel. There is a distinction,
as I shall show, if you will condescend to hear me out."
     "Take your  own time, sir!" said the ironical M. de Lesdiguieres, whose
tenure of office had  never yet  held anything that remotely resembled  this
experience.
     Andre-Louis  took  him  literally.  "I  thank you,  sir,"  he answered,
solemnly, and submitted his argument. "It can  be shown that M. de  Vilmorin
never practised fencing in all  his life, and it is notorious that M.  de La
Tour d'Azyr is an exceptional swordsman. Is it a  duel, monsieur, where  one
of the combatants alone  is armed? For it amounts to that on a comparison of
their measures of respective skill."
     "There has  scarcely been a duel  fought  on which  the  same  trumpery
argument might not be advanced."
     "But  not always with equal  justice. And in one case, at least, it was
advanced successfully."
     "Successfully? When was that?"
     "Ten years ago,  in Dauphiny.  I refer to the case of M. de  Gesvres, a
gentleman  of that province, who forced a duel upon M. de la Roche Jeannine,
and  killed him. M. de  Jeannine  was a member of a  powerful  family, which
exerted itself to obtain  justice. It put forward just such arguments as now
obtain  against M. de La Tour d'Azyr. As  you will remember, the judges held
that the provocation had proceeded of intent from M. de  Gesvres; they found
him guilty of premeditated murder, and he was hanged."
     M. de  Lesdiguieres exploded yet again. "Death  of  my life!" he cried.
"Have  you the  effrontery  to suggest that M.  de La Tour  d'Azyr should be
hanged? Have you?"
     "But why not,  monsieur, if it  is the  law, and there is precedent for
it, as I  have shown you, and if it can be  established that what I state is
the truth - as established it can be without difficulty?"
     "Do you ask me, why not? Have you temerity to ask me that?"
     "I have, monsieur. Can you answer me?  If you cannot, monsieur, I shall
understand that whilst  it is possible for a powerful family like that of La
Roche Jeannine to  set the law in motion, the law must  remain inert for the
obscure and uninfluential, however brutally wronged by a great nobleman."
     M.  de  Lesdiguieres perceived  that  in argument he  would  accomplish
nothing against  this impassive,  resolute young man. The menace of him grew
more fierce.
     "I should advise you to take yourself off at once,  and  to be thankful
for the opportunity to depart unscathed."
     "I  am, then, to  understand,  monsieur, that there will be  no inquiry
into this case? That nothing that I can say will move you?"
     "You are  to understand that if you are still  there in two minutes  it
will be  very much the worse  for you." And  M. de Lesdiguieres tinkled  the
silver hand-bell upon his table.
     "I have  informed  you, monsieur,  that  a  duel - so-called - has been
fought, and a man killed. It seems that I must remind you, the administrator
of the King's justice, that  duels are against the law,  and that it is your
duty to hold an inquiry. I come as the legal  representative of the bereaved
mother of M. de Vilmorin to demand of you the inquiry that is due."
     The  door behind Andre-Louis opened  softly. M.  de  Lesdiguieres, pale
with anger, contained himself with difficulty.
     "You seek  to compel us, do you, you impudent rascal?" he growled. "You
think  the  King's justice is to  be driven  headlong by  the  voice of  any
impudent roturier? I marvel  at my  own patience with you. But I  give you a
last warning, master lawyer; keep a closer  guard over that insolent  tongue
of yours, or you will have cause very bitterly  to  regret its glibness." He
waved a jewelled, contemptuous hand, and spoke to  the usher standing behind
Andre. "To the door!" he said, shortly.
     Andre-Louis hesitated  a second. Then with a shrug he turned.  This was
the windmill, indeed, and he a poor knight of rueful countenance. To  attack
it  at  closer quarters  would  mean being  dashed  to  pieces.  Yet on  the
threshold he turned again.
     "M. de Lesdiguieres," said he, "may I recite to you an interesting fact
in  natural history? The tiger  is  a great lord in  the jungle, and was for
centuries the terror of lesser beasts, including the wolf. The wolf, himself
a hunter, wearied of being hunted. He took to associating with other wolves,
and  then the wolves, driven  to form packs for  self-protection, discovered
the power of  the  pack,  and  took to hunting  the  tiger,  with disastrous
results to him. You should study Buffon, M. de Lesdiguieres."
     "I have studied a buffoon this morning, I think," was the punning sneer
with which M. de Lesdiguieres replied. But that he  conceived himself witty,
it  is probable he would  not have condescended  to reply  at all. "I  don't
understand you," he added.
     "But you will, M. de Lesdiguieres. You will," said Andre-Louis,  and so
departed.




     He had broken  his futile lance with the windmill - the image suggested
by M.  de Kercadiou persisted  in his mind -  and it  was, he perceived,  by
sheer good fortune that he had escaped without hurt. There remained the wind
itself  -  the  whirlwind.  And the  events in Rennes, reflex of the  graver
events in Nantes, had set that wind blowing in his favour.
     He set out briskly to retrace his steps towards the Place Royale, where
the gathering of the populace was  greatest,  where,  as he judged, lay  the
heart and brain of this commotion that was exciting the city.
     But  the commotion  that  he  had  left  there was  as nothing  to  the
commotion  which he  found on his return. Then there had  been a comparative
hush  to listen to the voice of a speaker who denounced the First and Second
Estates from the pedestal of the statue of Louis XV. Now the air was vibrant
with the  voice of the multitude itself, raised in anger. Here and there men
were fighting with canes  and fists; everywhere a  fierce excitement  raged,
and  the gendarmes  sent  thither by  the  King's Lieutenant  to restore and
maintain  order  were so  much helpless flotsam in  that  tempestuous  human
ocean.
     There  were  cries  of "To  the  Palais! To the Palais! Down  with  the
assassins! Down with the nobles! To the Palais!"
     An  artisan who  stood  shoulder  to  shoulder with  him  in  the press
enlightened Andre-Louis on the score of the increased excitement.
     "They've  shot him dead. His body is  lying there where it fell at  the
foot  of  the statue. And  there was another student killed not an hour  ago
over there by the cathedral works. Pardi!  If they can't prevail in  one way
they'll prevail in another." The man was fiercely emphatic. "They'll stop at
nothing. If  they can't overawe us, by God, they'll assassinate us. They are
determined  to conduct these  States  of  Brittany  in  their  own  way.  No
interests but their own shall be considered."
     Andre-Louis  left  him still talking, and  clove  himself a way through
that human press.
     At the statue's  base he  came upon a  little cluster of students about
the body of the murdered lad, all stricken with fear and helplessness.
     "You here, Moreau!" said a voice.
     He looked round to find himself confronted by a slight,  swarthy man of
little  more  than thirty,  firm  of  mouth  and  impertinent of  nose,  who
considered him with disapproval. It was Le Chapelier, a  lawyer of Rennes, a
prominent  member of the  Literary Chamber  of  that city,  a  forceful man,
fertile in revolutionary ideas and of an exceptional gift of eloquence.
     "Ah, it is  you, Chapelier! Why don't you speak to  them? Why don't you
tell them what to do? Up with you, man!" And he pointed to the plinth.
     Le Chapelier's  dark, restless eyes searched the other's impassive face
for some trace of the irony  he suspected. They were as wide  asunder as the
poles, these two,  in their political views;  and mistrusted as  Andre-Louis
was by all his colleagues  of the Literary Chamber of Rennes, he was by none
mistrusted so  thoroughly as by  this  vigorous  republican. Indeed, had  Le
Chapelier been able  to  prevail  against the influence  of  the  seminarist
Vilmorin, Andre-Louis would long since have found himself excluded from that
assembly of the intellectual youth  of  Rennes,  which he exasperated by his
eternal mockery of their ideals.
     So now Le Chapelier  suspected mockery in that invitation, suspected it
even when he  failed to find traces  of it on Andre-Louis' face, for he  had
learnt  by experience  that it was  a  face  not often to be trusted for  an
indication of the real thoughts that moved behind it.
     "Your notions and mine on that score can hardly coincide," said he.
     "Can there be two opinions?" quoth Andre-Louis.
     "There are usually two opinions whenever you and I are together, Moreau
- more than ever now that you are the  appointed delegate of a nobleman. You
see what your friends have done. No doubt you approve their methods." He was
coldly hostile.
     Andre-Louis looked at  him  without  surprise. So invariably opposed to
each other in  academic debates, how should Le Chapelier suspect his present
intentions?
     "If you won't tell them what is to be done, I will," said he.
     "Nom de  Dieu! If  you want to invite a bullet from  the other  side, I
shall not hinder you. It may help to square the account."
     Scarcely were the words out than  he repented them; for as if in answer
to that challenge Andre-Louis  sprang up on to the plinth. Alarmed  now, for
he could only suppose it to be Andre-Louis'  intention to speak on behalf of
Privilege, of which he was a publicly appointed representative, Le Chapelier
clutched him by the leg to pull him down again.
     "Ah, that,  no!" he was shouting. "Come down, you fool. Do you think we
will let you ruin everything by your clowning? Come down!"
     Andre-Louis,  maintaining his  position by clutching one of the legs of
the bronze horse, flung his voice  like a bugle-note over  the heads of that
seething mob.
     "Citizens of Rennes, the motherland is in danger!"
     The effect was  electric. A  stir ran, like a ripple over water, across
that froth of upturned human faces, and completest silence followed. In that
great silence they looked at this slim young man, hatless, long wisps of his
black  hair  fluttering  in the breeze,  his neckcloth in disorder, his face
white, his eyes on fire.
     Andre-Louis  felt  a  sudden  surge of  exaltation  as  he realized  by
instinct that at one grip he had seized that crowd, and that he held it fast
in the spell of his cry and his audacity.
     Even Le Chapelier,  though still  clinging to  his ankle, had ceased to
tug.  The  reformer,  though  unshaken  in  his assumption  of  Andre-Louis'
intentions, was for a moment bewildered by the first note of his appeal.
     And then, slowly, impressively, in a voice  that travelled clear to the
ends of the square, the young lawyer of Gavrillac began to speak.
     "Shuddering  in  horror  of  the  vile deed here perpetrated,  my voice
demands to be heard by you.  You have seen murder done under your eyes - the
murder of  one who  nobly, without any thought  of self,  gave voice  to the
wrongs by which we are all oppressed. Fearing that voice, shunning the truth
as foul things shun the light, our  oppressors sent their agents  to silence
him in death."
     Le  Chapelier released at last his hold of Andre-Louis'  ankle, staring
up at him  the  while in sheer amazement. It seemed that  the  fellow was in
earnest; serious for once; and for once  on the right side. What had come to
him?
     "Of assassins what shall you look for but  assassination? I have a tale
to tell which will show that this is no new  thing  that you have  witnessed
here to-day; it will reveal to  you the forces with which you have to  deal.
Yesterday... "
     There was  an interruption. A voice  in  the crowd, some twenty  paces,
perhaps, was raised to shout:
     "Yet another of them!"
     Immediately after the voice  came a pistol-shot, and a bullet flattened
itself against the bronze figure just behind Andre-Louis.
     Instantly there was turmoil in the crowd,  most intense about  the spot
whence  the  shot  had been  fired. The  assailant was one of a considerable
group  of the opposition, a group  that  found itself at once beset on every
side, and hard put to it to defend him.
     >From the  foot  of the plinth rang  the voice of the  students  making
chorus to Le Chapelier, who was bidding Andre-Louis to seek shelter.
     "Come  down! Come  down at once! They'll murder you as they murdered La
Riviere."
     "Let  them!" He flung wide his arms in  a gesture supremely theatrical,
and laughed. "I stand here at their mercy. Let them,  if they will, add mine
to the blood that will presently rise up to choke them. Let them assassinate
me.  It is a  trade they understand.  But until they  do  so, they shall not
prevent me from speaking to you, from  telling you what is to be  looked for
in  them." And again he laughed, not merely in exaltation  as they  supposed
who watched him from below, but also in amusement. And his amusement had two
sources.  One was to  discover how glibly he uttered the  phrases proper  to
whip up the emotions of a crowd: the other was in the remembrance of how the
crafty  Cardinal de Retz, for the purpose  of inflaming popular  sympathy on
his  behalf, had  been in  the  habit  of hiring  fellows  to fire upon  his
carriage. He was in just such case as that arch-politician. True, he had not
hired the fellow to fire that pistol-shot; but he was  none the less obliged
to him, and ready to derive the fullest, advantage from the act.
     The group that sought to protect that man was  battling on, seeking  to
hew a way out of that angry, heaving press.
     "Let  them  go!"  Andre-Louis called down... "What matters one assassin
more or less? Let them go, and listen to me, my countrymen!"
     And presently, when some measure  of order was restored,  he began  his
tale. In simple language now, yet with a vehemence and directness that drove
home  every  point,  he  tore  their  hearts  with  the story of yesterday's
happenings  at Gavrillac. He drew  tears  from  them with  the pathos of his
picture  of  the  bereaved  widow Mabey and her  three  starving,  destitute
children -  "orphaned to avenge the death  of a pheasant" - and the bereaved
mother of that M. de Vilmorin, a student of Rennes,  known here  to  many of
them, who had met his death in a noble endeavour to champion the cause of an
esurient member of their afflicted order.
     "The Marquis  de La Tour d'Azyr said of him that he had too dangerous a
gift of eloquence. It was to silence his brave voice that he killed him. But
he has failed of his object. For I, poor Philippe de Vilmorin's friend, have
assumed the mantle of his apostleship,  and I speak  to  you with his  voice
to-day."
     It  was a statement that helped Le Chapelier at last to understand,  at
least in part,  this bewildering change in Andre-Louis,  which  rendered him
faithless to the side that employed him.
     "I am not here," continued Andre-Louis, "merely to demand at your hands
vengeance upon Philippe de Vilmorin's murderers. I  am  here to tell you the
things he would to-day have told you had he lived."
     So far  at least he was frank. But he did not add that they were things
he  did not himself believe, things that  he accounted the  cant by which an
ambitious bourgeoisie - speaking through the mouths of the lawyers, who were
its articulate  part  - sought to overthrow to its own advantage the present
state of things. He left his audience in the  natural belief that  the views
he expressed were the views he held.
     And now in a  terrible voice, with an eloquence that amazed himself, he
denounced  the inertia  of  the  royal  justice  where  the  great  are  the
offenders.  It  was  with  bitter  sarcasm that  he  spoke  of  their King's
Lieutenant, M. de Lesdiguieres.
     "Do you  wonder,"  he asked  them,  "that  M.  de  Lesdiguieres  should
administer the law so that it shall ever be  favourable to our great nobles?
Would it be just, would it be reasonable that he should otherwise administer
it?" He paused dramatically to let his sarcasm sink in. It had the effect of
reawakening  Le Chapelier's doubts, and checking his  dawning  conviction in
Andre-Louis' sincerity. Whither was he going now?
     He was  not  left  long  in  doubt. Proceeding, Andre-Louis spoke as he
conceived  that  Philippe  de  Vilmorin  would have spoken. He had  so often
argued with him, so often attended the  discussions of the Literary Chamber,
that he had all the rant of the reformers - that was yet true in substance -
at his fingers' ends.
     "Consider, after all, the composition of this France of ours. A million
of  its  inhabitants  are members of  the  privileged classes. They  compose
France. They are France. For surely you  cannot suppose  the remainder to be
anything that matters. It cannot be pretended that twenty-four million souls
are of any account, that they can be representative of this great nation, or
that  they can exist for any purpose  but that  of servitude  to the million
elect."
     Bitter  laughter shook them now, as he desired it should. "Seeing their
privileges  in  danger of  invasion by these  twenty-four millions -  mostly
canailles; possibly created by God, it is true, but clearly so created to be
the slaves of Privilege - does it surprise you that the dispensing of  royal
justice  should be  placed  in the  stout hands  of these Lesdiguieres,  men
without brains to think  or hearts  to be touched? Consider  what it is that
must be defended against the assault of us others - canaille. Consider a few
of  these feudal rights  that are in  danger of being  swept away should the
Privileged  yield  even  to  the  commands of their sovereign; and admit the
Third Estate to an equal vote with themselves.
     "What would  become of the right of terrage on the land, of parciere on
the  fruit-trees, of  carpot on the vines? What of the corvees by which they
command forced labour,  of  the ban de  vendage, which gives them the  first
vintage, the banvin which enables them to control to their own advantage the
sale of wine? What of their right of grinding the last liard of taxation out
of  the  people  to  maintain  their  own  opulent  estate;  the  cens,  the
lods-et-ventes, which  absorb a fifth of the value of the land, the blairee,
which must be paid before herds can feed on communal lands, the pulverage to
indemnify  them for the dust raised on their roads by  the  herds that go to
market, the sextelage on everything offered for sale  in the public markets,
the etalonnage,  and all the rest? What of their rights over men and animals
for  field labour, of ferries over rivers, and  of  bridges over streams, of
sinking wells, of warren, of dovecot,  and of fire, which last yields them a
tax on every  peasant hearth? What  of their exclusive rights of fishing and
of hunting, the violation of which is ranked as almost a capital offence?
     "And what of other rights, unspeakable, abominable, over the  lives and
bodies of  their  people, rights which, if rarely exercised, have never been
rescinded. To this day if  a noble returning from the  hunt were to slay two
of his  serfs to bathe and  refresh his feet  in their blood, he could still
claim in his sufficient defence that it  was his absolute feudal right to do
so.
     "Rough-shod, these million Privileged ride over the souls and bodies of
twenty-four  million  contemptible  canaille  existing  but  for  their  own
pleasure. Woe  betide him who so much as raises his voice in  protest in the
name of humanity against an excess of these already excessive abuses. I have
told you of one remorselessly slain in cold  blood for  doing  no  more than
that. Your  own eyes have witnessed the assassination  of another here  upon
this plinth,  of  yet another over there  by the  cathedral works,  and  the
attempt upon my own life.
     "Between  them and  the justice due  to them in such cases  stand these
Lesdiguieres, these King's  Lieutenants;  not  instruments  of justice,  but
walls erected for the shelter of Privilege and Abuse whenever it exceeds its
grotesquely excessive rights.
     "Do you wonder that they will not yield  an inch; that they will resist
the election  of a Third Estate  with  the  voting power  to sweep all these
privileges  away,  to compel the Privileged to submit themselves  to a  just
equality in the  eyes  of the law  with  the meanest  of  the canaille  they
trample underfoot, to provide that  the moneys  necessary to save this state
from the bankruptcy into which they have all but plunged it shall  be raised
by taxation to be borne by themselves in the same proportion as by others?
     "Sooner  than yield to  so much  they  prefer to resist  even the royal
command."
     A phrase occurred to him used yesterday by  Vilmorin, a phrase to which
he had refused to attach importance when uttered then. He  used  it now. "In
doing this they are striking at the very foundations  of  the throne.  These
fools  do not perceive that  if that throne falls over, it is they who stand
nearest to it who will be crushed."
     A terrific roar  acclaimed that statement. Tense and quivering with the
excitement that  was flowing through  him, and from him out into that  great
audience,  he stood a moment  smiling ironically. Then  he  waved  them into
silence,, and saw by their ready obedience how completely he possessed them.
For  in the  voice  with  which  he spoke each now recognized  the voice  of
himself, giving at last expression to the thoughts that for months and years
had been inarticulately stirring in each simple mind.
     Presently he  resumed, speaking more  quietly,  that ironic smile about
the corner of his mouth growing more marked:
     "In taking my  leave of M.  de Lesdiguieres I gave him warning out of a
page of natural history. I told  him that when  the  wolves,  roaming singly
through  the  jungle, were weary of  being hunted by the  tiger, they banded
themselves into  packs, and  went a-hunting the  tiger in their  turn. M. de
Lesdiguieres contemptuously answered that he did not understand me. But your
wits are better than his. You understand me, I think? Don't you?"
     Again a great roar, mingled now with  some approving laughter, was  his
answer. He had wrought  them up to a  pitch  of dangerous  passion, and they
were ripe for any violence to which he urged them. If he had failed with the
windmill, at least he was now master of the wind.
     "To the Palais!" they shouted,  waving their hands,  brandishing canes,
and  - here  and  there  - even a sword. "To  the Palais!  Down  with  M. de
Lesdiguieres! Death to the King's Lieutenant!"
     He was master of the wind, indeed. His dangerous gift of oratory
     - a gift nowhere more powerful than  in France, since nowhere  else are
men's emotions so quick to respond to the appeal of eloquence
     - had given  him this mastery. At his bidding now the gale  would sweep
away  the windmill against which he  had flung himself in vain. But that, as
he straightforwardly revealed it, was no part of his intent.
     "Ah, wait!"  he bade  them. "Is this miserable  instrument of a corrupt
system worth the attention of your noble indignation?"
     He hoped his words would be reported to M.  de Lesdiguieres. He thought
it  would  be good for the soul of  M. de Lesdiguieres to hear the undiluted
truth about himself for once.
     "It  is the  system itself you  must attack  and overthrow; not a  mere
instrument - a  miserable painted  lath such  as this. And precipitancy will
spoil everything. Above all, my children, no violence!"
     My children! Could his godfather have heard him!
     "You have seen often already the result of premature violence elsewhere
in Brittany, and you have heard of it elsewhere  in France. Violence on your
part  will call  for  violence  on theirs.  They will welcome the  chance to
assert their mastery by a firmer grip than heretofore. The military will  be
sent for. You will be faced by the bayonets of  mercenaries.  Do not provoke
that, I implore you. Do not put it into their power, do not afford  them the
pretext they  would  welcome to crush  you down  into  the  mud  of your own
blood."
     Out of the silence into which they had fallen anew broke now the cry of
     "What else, then? What else?"
     "I  will  tell  you,"  he answered them. "The  wealth and  strength  of
Brittany  lies in  Nantes - a bourgeois city, one of the  most prosperous in
this realm, rendered so by the energy of the bourgeoisie and the toil of the
people.  It was in Nantes  that this movement had  its  beginning,  and as a
result  of  it  the  King issued his  order  dissolving  the  States as  now
constituted  - an order which  those who  base  their power on Privilege and
Abuse do  not hesitate  to thwart.  Let Nantes  be informed  of the  precise
situation, and let nothing be done here until Nantes shall have given us the
lead. She  has the  power - which  we in Rennes have not - to make her  will
prevail, as  we  have seen already. Let her exert that  power once more, and
until she does so do  you keep the peace in Rennes. Thus shall  you triumph.
Thus shall the outrages that are being perpetrated under  your eyes be fully
and finally avenged."
     As  abruptly as he had leapt upon the plinth  did he now leap down from
it. He  had finished. He had said  all - perhaps more than  all - that could
have been said by the dead friend with  whose voice he spoke. But it was not
their will that  he should  thus  extinguish  himself.  The thunder of their
acclamations  rose  deafeningly  upon the  air.  He  had played  upon  their
emotions - each in turn - as a skilful harpist plays upon the strings of his
instrument. And they  were vibrant with the passions he had aroused, and the
high note of hope on which he had brought his symphony to a close.
     A dozen students  caught  him as he leapt down, and  swung him to their
shoulders, where again he came within view of all the acclaiming crowd.
     The delicate  Le Chapelier pressed alongside of  him  with flushed face
and shining eyes.
     "My lad,"  he  said to him, "you  have kindled a fire to-day  that will
sweep the face of France in a blaze of liberty." And then to the students he
issued a sharp command. "To  the  Literary Chamber -at once. We must concert
measures  upon  the  instant,  a  delegate  must  be  dispatched  to  Nantes
forthwith,  to  convey  to  our friends  there the message of the  people of
Rennes."
     The crowd fell back, opening a lane through which the students bore the
hero of the hour. Waving his hands to them, he called  upon them to disperse
to their homes, and await there in patience what must follow very soon.
     "You have  endured for centuries with a fortitude that is a  pattern to
the  world,"  he flattered them.  "Endure a  little longer  yet. The end, my
friends, is well in sight at last."
     They carried him out  of the  square and  up the  Rue Royale to  an old
house, one of the few old houses surviving in that city that had risen  from
its  ashes, where  in  an  upper chamber lighted by diamond-shaped panes  of
yellow glass the Literary Chamber usually held its meetings. Thither  in his
wake the members  of that chamber came hurrying,  summoned  by the  messages
that Le Chapelier had issued during their progress.
     Behind  closed doors a flushed and excited group of some fifty men, the
majority of whom were young, ardent, and afire with the illusion of liberty,
hailed Andre-Louis  as the strayed sheep who had  returned  to the fold, and
smothered him in congratulations and thanks.
     Then they settled down to  deliberate  upon immediate  measures, whilst
the doors below were kept by a  guard  of  honour that had improvised itself
from the masses. And very necessary was this. For no sooner  had the Chamber
assembled  than  the  house  was  assailed  by  the  gendarmerie  of  M.  de
Lesdiguieres, dispatched in haste to arrest  the  firebrand who was inciting
the people of Rennes to sedition.  The  force  consisted of fifty men.  Five
hundred would have been too few. The mob broke their carbines, broke some of
their heads, and would indeed have torn them into pieces had they not beaten
a timely and well-advised retreat before  a form of horseplay  to which they
were not at all accustomed.
     And whilst that was  taking  place in  the  street  below, in  the room
abovestairs the eloquent Le  Chapelier was addressing his  colleagues of the
Literary  Chamber.  Here, with no bullets to fear, and no one to  report his
words  to the  authorities, Le  Chapelier could  permit his  oratory a full,
unintimidated flow. And  that considerable oratory  was as direct and brutal
as the man himself was delicate and elegant.
     He praised the vigour and the greatness of the  speech  they  had heard
from their colleague Moreau. Above all he praised its wisdom. Moreau's words
had  come as a surprise to them. Hitherto they had  never known him as other
than a bitter critic of their projects of reform and regeneration; and quite
lately they  had  heard,  not  without  misgivings,  of  his  appointment as
delegate for  a  nobleman  in the  States of  Brittany.  But  they held  the
explanation  of his conversion. The murder of their dear  colleague Vilmorin
had  produced this change. In that brutal deed Moreau had beheld at  last in
true proportions the workings of that evil spirit  which they were  vowed to
exorcise from France. And to-day he  had proven himself the stoutest apostle
among them  of the new faith. He  had pointed out to them  the only sane and
useful course.  The  illustration he had borrowed  from  natural history was
most  apt. Above  all,  let  them pack like the wolves,  and  to ensure this
uniformity of action in the people  of all Brittany, let a  delegate at once
be sent  to  Nantes,  which  had  already proved  itself  the  real seat  of
Brittany's power. It but remained to appoint that delegate, and Le Chapelier
invited them to elect him.
     Andre-Louis, on a bench near the window, a  prey now to some measure of
reaction, listened in bewilderment to that flood of eloquence.
     As the applause died down, he heard a voice exclaiming:
     "I propose to you that we appoint our leader here, Le Chapelier, to  be
that delegate."
     Le Chapelier reared his elegantly dressed head, which had been bowed in
thought,  and  it was seen that  his  countenance  was  pale.  Nervously  he
fingered a gold spy-glass.
     "My friends," he said, slowly, "I am deeply sensible of the honour that
you do  me. But in accepting it I should  be usurping an honour that rightly
belongs elsewhere.  Who  could represent us better, who more deserving to be
our  representative, to speak to  our  friends  of Nantes with  the voice of
Rennes, than the champion who once already to-day has  so incomparably given
utterance to the voice of this  great city? Confer this honour of being your
spokesman where it belongs - upon Andre-Louis Moreau."
     Rising in response to the storm of applause  that greeted the proposal,
Andre-Louis bowed and forthwith yielded. "Be it so," he said, simply. "It is
perhaps fitting that I should carry out what I have  begun, though I  too am
of the  opinion that Le Chapelier would have been a worthier representative.
I will set out to-night."
     "You will set out at once, my lad," Le Chapelier informed him,  and now
revealed what  an uncharitable  mind might  account the true source  of  his
generosity. "It is not safe  after  what has  happened  for you to linger an
hour in Rennes.  And you must go secretly. Let none  of you  allow it to  be
known that  he has gone.  I  would  not  have  you come  to harm over  this,
Andre-Louis. But you must see the risks you run, and if you are to be spared
to help in this  work of salvation of our afflicted motherland, you must use
caution, move secretly, veil your identity even. Or else M.  de Lesdiguieres
will have you laid by the heels, and it will be good-night for you."




     Andre-Louis rode forth from Rennes committed to a deeper adventure than
he  had dreamed of  when he left the  sleepy village of Gavrillac. Lying the
night at  a roadside inn, and setting  out  again early  in the  morning, he
reached Nantes soon after noon of the following day.
     Through  that long and lonely ride through the dull plains of Brittany,
now at their dreariest in  their winter garb, he  had ample leisure in which
to  review his actions and his  position. From one who had  taken hitherto a
purely academic and by no means friendly interest in the new philosophies of
social life, exercising  his  wits upon  these  new ideas merely as a fencer
exercises his eye and  wrist with the foils, without  ever suffering himself
to be deluded into supposing the issue a real one, he found himself suddenly
converted  into a revolutionary firebrand, committed to revolutionary action
of the most desperate kind. The representative and delegate of a nobleman in
the States  of  Brittany, he found himself simultaneously and  incongruously
the representative and delegate of the whole Third Estate of Rennes.
     It is difficult to determine to what extent, in the heat of passion and
swept  along  by  the torrent of his own oratory,  he  might  yesterday have
succeeded in deceiving himself.  But it  is at  least certain that,  looking
back in cold blood now he had no single delusion on the score of what he had
done. Cynically he had presented to his audience one side only of the  great
question that he propounded.
     But since the established order of things in France was such as to make
a rampart for M. de La Tour d'Azyr, affording him complete immunity for this
and  any  other  crimes  that  it pleased  him  to  commit,  why,  then  the
established order must  take the consequences of its wrong-doing. Therein he
perceived his clear justification.
     And so it was without misgivings that he came on his errand of sedition
into that  beautiful  city  of Nantes, rendered  its  spacious  streets  and
splendid port the rival in prosperity of Bordeaux and Marseilles.
     He found an  inn  on the Quai La Fosse, where he put  up his horse, and
where he  dined  in the embrasure  of a  window  that  looked  out over  the
tree-bordered quay  and the broad bosom  of the Loire,  on which argosies of
all nations rode at anchor. The sun had again broken through the clouds, and
shed its  pale  wintry light  over the  yellow waters  and  the  tall-masted
shipping.
     Along the quays there was a stir of life as great as that to be seen on
the   quays  of  Paris.  Foreign  sailors  in  outlandish  garments  and  of
harsh-sounding,  outlandish  speech,  stalwart  fishwives  with  baskets  of
herrings on  their heads,  voluminous  of petticoat above bare legs and bare
feet, calling  their wares  shrilly and  almost inarticulately, watermen  in
woollen  caps and loose trousers  rolled to the  knees, peasants in goatskin
coats, their wooden shoes clattering on the round kidney-stones, shipwrights
and   labourers   from   the   dockyards,   bellows-menders,   rat-catchers,
water-carriers,  ink-sellers, and  other  itinerant  pedlars. And, sprinkled
through  this proletariat mass  that came  and went  in  constant  movement,
Andre-Louis beheld tradesmen in sober garments, merchants in long, fur-lined
coats;  occasionally  a  merchant-prince  rolling  along  in  his  two-horse
cabriolet  to the  whip-crackings and  shouts  of "Gare!" from his coachman;
occasionally a  dainty lady  carried past in her sedan-chair, with perhaps a
mincing  abbe  from  the  episcopal  court  tripping  along  in  attendance;
occasionally an officer in  scarlet riding disdainfully;  and once the great
carriage  of   a  nobleman,   with   escutcheoned  panels  and  a   pair  of
white-stockinged, powdered footmen in gorgeous liveries hanging  on  behind.
And there  were  Capuchins  in  brown and Benedictines in black, and secular
priests in plenty  -  for  God was  well served  in the  sixteen parishes of
Nantes  -  and  by way  of  contrast  there  were  lean-jawed,  out-at-elbow
adventurers, and gendarmes  in  blue  coats  and gaitered  legs,  sauntering
guardians of the peace.
     Representatives  of  every  class  that  went  to make  up the  seventy
thousand  inhabitants of that wealthy, industrious  city  were to be seen in
the human  stream  that  ebbed and  flowed  beneath  the window  from  which
Andre-Louis observed it.
     Of the waiter who ministered to his humble wants with soup and bouilli,
and a  measure of vin gris, Andre-Louis  enquired into  the  state of public
feeling  in  the  city. The  waiter, a staunch supporter  of  the privileged
orders, admitted regretfully that an uneasiness prevailed. Much would depend
upon what happened at Rennes. If it was true that the King had dissolved the
States of Brittany, then all should be well, and the malcontents would  have
no  pretext for further disturbances. There had been trouble and to spare in
Nantes  already. They wanted no repetition of it. All manner of rumours were
abroad, and since early morning there  had been crowds besieging the portals
of the Chamber of  Commerce for  definite news. But definite news was yet to
come.  It  was not  even  known  for a  fact that His  Majesty actually  had
dissolved the States.
     It was striking two, the busiest hour of the day  upon the Bourse, when
Andre-Louis reached the Place  du Commerce. The  square,  dominated  by  the
imposing classical building  of the Exchange, was  so crowded  that  he  was
compelled almost  to fight  his way through to the steps of the  magnificent
Ionic porch.  A  word would have  sufficed  to have opened  a way for him at
once. But guile moved  him to keep silent. He would come upon  that  waiting
multitude as a thunderclap, precisely as yesterday he had come  upon the mob
at Rennes. He would lose nothing of the surprise effect of his entrance.
     The precincts of that house of  commerce were jealously kept by  a line
of ushers armed with staves, a guard as hurriedly assembled by the merchants
as it was evidently necessary. One of these now effectively barred the young
lawyer's passage as he attempted to mount the steps.
     Andre-Louis announced himself in a whisper.
     The stave was instantly raised  from the horizontal, and he  passed and
went up the steps in the wake of the usher. At the top, on  the threshold of
the chamber, he paused, and stayed his guide.
     "I will wait here," he announced. "Bring the president to me."
     "Your name, monsieur?"
     Almost had  Andre-Louis answered him when  he remembered Le Chapelier's
warning of the danger with which his mission was fraught, and Le Chapelier's
parting admonition to conceal his identity.
     "My name  is unknown to him; it matters nothing; I am the mouthpiece of
a people, no more. Go."
     The  usher went, and  in the  shadow of  that lofty,  pillared  portico
Andre-Louis  waited,  his eyes  straying  out ever  and anon to survey  that
spread of upturned faces immediately below him.
     Soon  the  president  came,  others  following,  crowding  out into the
portico, jostling one another in their eagerness to hear the news.
     "You are a messenger from Rennes?"
     "I am the delegate sent by the Literary Chamber  of that city to inform
you here in Nantes of what is taking place."
     "Your name?"
     Andre-Louis paused. "The less we mention names perhaps the better."
     The president's eyes grew big with gravity. He was a corpulent,  florid
man, purse-proud, and self-sufficient.
     He hesitated a moment. Then - "Come into the Chamber," said he.
     "By your leave, monsieur, I  will deliver my  message from  here - from
these steps."
     "From here?" The great merchant frowned.
     "My message  is for the people  of Nantes, and from here I can speak at
once to the greatest number of  Nantais of all ranks,  and it is my desire -
and the  desire  of those  whom  I represent -  that as  great  a number  as
possible should hear my message at first hand."
     "Tell me, sir, is it true that the King has dissolved the States?"
     Andre-Louis  looked at him. He smiled apologetically, and waved a  hand
towards the crowd,  which by  now  was  straining for a glimpse of this slim
young man who had brought forth the president and more than half the numbers
of the Chamber, guessing already, with that curious instinct of crowds, that
he was the awaited bearer of tidings.
     "Summon the  gentlemen  of  your Chamber, monsieur," said he,  "and you
shall hear all."
     "So be it."
     A word, and forth they  came to crowd upon the steps, but leaving clear
the topmost step and a half-moon space in the middle.
     To  the spot  so indicated, Andre-Louis now advanced very deliberately.
He took his stand there, dominating the entire assembly. He removed his hat,
and  launched  the  opening  bombshell of  that address  which is  historic,
marking as it does  one of the  great  stages of  France's  progress towards
revolution.
     "People  of  this great  city  of Nantes, I have come to summon you  to
arms!"
     In the  amazed and rather scared silence that followed he surveyed them
for a moment before resuming.
     "I am a delegate  of the people of Rennes, charged to announce  to  you
what  is taking  place, and to invite  you in  this  dreadful  hour  of  our
country's peril to rise and march to her defence."
     "Name! Your name!" a voice  shouted, and instantly the cry was taken up
by others, until the multitude rang with the question.
     He could not answer that excited mob as  he had answered the president.
It was necessary to compromise, and  he did so, happily. "My name," said he,
"is Omnes Omnibus - all for all. Let that suffice you now. I am a  herald, a
mouthpiece, a  voice;  no more. I come  to announce to  you that  since  the
privileged orders, assembled for the States of Brittany in Rennes,  resisted
your will - our will
     - despite the King's plain hint to  them, His Majesty has dissolved the
States."
     There  was a burst of delirious applause. Men  laughed and shouted, and
cries of "Vive le Roi!" rolled  forth like thunder. Andre-Louis waited,  and
gradually the preternatural gravity of his  countenance came to be observed,
and  to beget the suspicion  that there might be more  to  follow. Gradually
silence was restored, and at last Andre Louis was able to proceed.
     "You  rejoice  too soon. Unfortunately, the  nobles, in their  insolent
arrogance, have elected  to ignore the royal dissolution,  and in despite of
it persist in sitting and in conducting matters as seems good to them."
     A silence  of  utter dismay greeted that  disconcerting epilogue to the
announcement  that had  been so  rapturously received. Andre-Louis continued
after a moment's pause:
     "So that these men who were already rebels against the  people, rebels,
against justice  and  equity, rebels against humanity itself, are  now  also
rebels  against their King. Sooner than yield an  inch of the unconscionable
privileges by which too long  already they have flourished, to the misery of
a whole  nation, they will make a mock of  royal authority, hold up the King
himself  to contempt. They are  determined  to prove  that there is  no real
sovereignty   in   France   but  the  sovereignty  of  their  own  parasitic
faineantise."
     There  was  a  faint splutter  of applause,  but  the  majority of  the
audience remained silent, waiting.
     "This  is no new thing. Always has it been the same. No minister in the
last ten years, who, seeing the  needs and perils of  the State,  counselled
the  measures  that we  now demand  as  the  only  means  of  arresting  our
motherland in its  ever-quickening progress to the abyss,  but found himself
as a consequence cast out of office by the influence which Privilege brought
to  bear  against  him. Twice  already has M.  Necker  been  called  to  the
ministry, to  be twice  dismissed  when  his  insistent counsels  of  reform
threatened the privileges of clergy and nobility. For the third time now has
he been called to office, and at last it seems we are to have States General
in spite of Privilege. But what the privileged orders can no longer prevent,
they are determined to stultify.  Since it is now a settled thing that these
States General are to meet, at least the nobles and  the clergy  will see to
it - unless we  take measures to prevent them -  by packing the Third Estate
with their own creatures, and  denying it all effective representation, that
they convert.  the States General into an  instrument of their own will  for
the  perpetuation of the abuses by which they live. To achieve this end they
will stop at nothing. They have flouted the authority  of the King, and they
are silencing by assassination those who raise their voices to condemn them.
Yesterday  in  Rennes two  young  men  who  addressed  the  people  as I  am
addressing  you were done  to  death in the  streets  by  assassins  at  the
instigation of the nobility. Their blood cries out for vengeance."
     Beginning in a sullen mutter,  the  indignation that  moved his hearers
swelled up to express itself in a roar of anger.
     "Citizens of  Nantes, the motherland is in peril.  Let us  march to her
defence. Let us proclaim it to the world that we recognize that the measures
to liberate the  Third Estate from the slavery in which for centuries it has
groaned find only obstacles in those orders  whose phrenetic egotism sees in
the tears and suffering  of  the unfortunate  an odious  tribute  which they
would  pass  on  to  their  generations  still unborn.  Realizing  from  the
barbarity  of the means employed by our enemies to perpetuate our oppression
that we  have everything to fear from the aristocracy they would set up as a
constitutional  principle  for  the  governing  of  France, let  us  declare
ourselves at once enfranchised from it.
     "The establishment of liberty and equality should be  the aim of  every
citizen  member  of the Third  Estate; and  to  this  end  we  should  stand
indivisibly united, especially the young and vigorous,  especially those who
have had the good fortune to be  born late  enough to  be able to gather for
themselves  the  precious  fruits  of  the  philosophy  of  this  eighteenth
century."
     Acclamations broke out unstintedly now. He had caught them in the snare
of his oratory. And he pressed his advantage instantly.
     "Let us all swear," he cried in a great voice, "to raise up in the name
of humanity and of liberty a rampart against our enemies, to oppose to their
bloodthirsty  covetousness the calm perseverance of men whose cause is just.
And let  us protest here and in advance against any  tyrannical decrees that
should  declare us seditious when we have none but pure and just intentions.
Let us make oath upon the  honour of our motherland that should any of us be
seized by an unjust tribunal, intending against us one of  those acts termed
of political expediency - which are, in effect, but  acts of despotism - let
us swear, I say, to give a full expression to the strength that is in us and
do that in self-defence which nature, courage, and despair dictate to us."
     Loud and long rolled the applause  that greeted his  conclusion, and he
observed with satisfaction and  even some  inward  grim  amusement that  the
wealthy merchants who had been congregated upon the steps, and  who now came
crowding  about him  to  shake him by  the hand and to acclaim him, were not
merely  participants  in,  but  the  actual leaders  of,  this  delirium  of
enthusiasm.
     It confirmed him, had he needed  confirmation, in  his conviction  that
just as the philosophies  upon which this new  movement was based  had their
source in  thinkers extracted from  the bourgeoisie,  so  the need to  adopt
those  philosophies  to the practical purposes of life was most acutely felt
at  present  by  those bourgeois who found themselves  debarred by Privilege
from  the expansion  their wealth  permitted them.  If  it  might be said of
Andre-Louis that  he  had that  day  lighted  the torch of the Revolution in
Nantes,  it might  with even greater truth be said that the torch itself was
supplied by the opulent bourgeoisie.
     I need not  dwell at  any length upon the sequel.  It  is a  matter  of
history  how  that oath which Omnes Omnibus administered to  the citizens of
Nantes  formed the backbone of the  formal protest which  they  drew  up and
signed in their thousands. Nor were the results of  that powerful protest  -
which, after all, might already be said to harmonize with the expressed will
of the sovereign himself - long  delayed. Who shall say how far it  may have
strengthened  the hand  of Necker,  when on the  27th of  that same month of
November  he  compelled  the  Council  to  adopt the  most  significant  and
comprehensive of all those measures to which clergy and nobility had refused
their consent? On that date was  published the royal  decree  ordaining that
the deputies to be elected to the  States General should number at least one
thousand,  and that  the deputies  of  the  Third  Estate  should  be  fully
representative by numbering as many as the deputies  of clergy and  nobility
together.




     Dusk  of the following  day  was falling  when  the homing  Andre-Louis
approached  Gavrillac.  Realizing  fully  what a  hue  and  cry  there would
presently be  for the apostle of revolution who had  summoned the people  of
Nantes to arms, he desired as far as  possible to  conceal the fact that  he
had  been in that  maritime city. Therefore he made a  wide detour, crossing
the  river at  Bruz, and  recrossing  it a  little above  Chavagne, so as to
approach Gavrillac from  the north, and  create the impression  that he  was
returning from Rennes, whither he was known to have gone two days ago.
     Within a mile or so of the village  he  caught in the  fading light his
first glimpse of a figure on horseback pacing slowly towards him. But it was
not until they  had come within a few  yards of each  other, and he observed
that this cloaked figure  was leaning forward to  peer  at him, that he took
much notice of it. And  then he found himself challenged almost at once by a
woman's voice.
     "It is you, Andre - at last!"
     He drew rein,  mildly surprised, to be assailed  by  another  question,
impatiently, anxiously asked.
     "Where have you been?"
     "Where have I been, Cousin Aline? Oh... seeing the world."
     "I have been patrolling  this  road since noon to-day waiting for you."
She  spoke breathlessly, in haste to explain.  "A troop of the  marechaussee
from Rennes  descended  upon Gavrillac this  morning in quest of  you.  They
turned the  chateau and the village inside out, and  at last discovered that
you were due to return with a horse hired from the Breton arme. So they have
taken up their quarters at the inn to wait for you. I have been here all the
afternoon on the lookout to warn you against walking into that trap."
     "My dear Aline! That I  should have  been  the cause of so much concern
and trouble!"
     "Never mind that. It is not important."
     "On the contrary; it is the most important part of what you tell me. It
is the rest that is unimportant."
     "Do you realize that they have come to arrest you?" she asked him, with
increasing impatience. "You are wanted for sedition, and upon a warrant from
M. de Lesdiguieres."
     "Sedition?" quoth he, and his thoughts flew to that business at Nantes.
It was impossible they could have had news of it in Rennes and acted upon it
in so short a time.
     "Yes,  sedition.  The sedition of that wicked speech of yours at Rennes
on Wednesday."
     "Oh,  that!"  said he. "Pooh!" His note of relief might have told  her,
had she  been  more attentive, that  he had  to  fear the consequences  of a
greater wickedness committed since. "Why, that was nothing."
     "Nothing?"
     "I  almost  suspect that  the real intentions of these gentlemen of the
marechaussee have been misunderstood. Most probably  they have come to thank
me  on M.  de Lesdiguieres' behalf. I restrained the people when they  would
have burnt the Palais and himself inside it."
     "After you had first  incited them to do  it. I suppose you were afraid
of your work. You drew back at the last moment. But you said things of M. de
Lesdiguieres, if you are correctly reported, which he will never forgive."
     "I see," said Andre-Louis, and he fell into thought.
     But Mlle.  de Kercadiou  had already done  what thinking was necessary,
and her alert young mind had settled all that was to be done.
     "You must  not go into Gavrillac," she told him, "and you must get down
from your  horse, and  let me  take  it.  I will stable  it at  the  chateau
to-night. And sometime to morrow afternoon, by when you should be well away,
I will return it to the Breton arme."
     "Oh, but that is impossible."
     "Impossible? Why?"
     "For  several reasons. One of them is  that you haven't considered what
will happen to you if you do such a thing."
     "To  me? Do you  suppose I am afraid of that pack of  oafs  sent  by M.
Lesdiguieres? I have committed no sedition."
     "But it is almost as bad to give aid  to  one who  is  wanted  for  the
crime. That is the law."
     "What do I care  for the  law? Do you imagine that the law will presume
to touch me?"
     "Of course there is that. You are  sheltered  by  one of  the  abuses I
complained of at Rennes. I was forgetting."
     "Complain of  it as  much  as  you please, but  meanwhile profit by it.
Come, Andre, do  as I tell  you. Get down from  your horse." And then, as he
still hesitated, she stretched  out and caught him by the arm. Her voice was
vibrant  with earnestness. "Andre, you  don't  realize how serious  is  your
position.  If these people  take you, it is almost certain  that you will be
hanged. Don't you realize it? You must not go to Gavrillac. You must go away
at  once, and lie completely lost for a time until  this blows over. Indeed,
until  my uncle can bring influence  to bear to obtain your pardon, you must
keep in hiding."
     "That will be a long time, then," said Andre-Louis. M. de Kercadiou has
never cultivated friends at court."
     "There is M. de La Tour d'Azyr," she reminded him, to his astonishment.
     "That man!" he cried, and then he laughed. "But it was  chiefly against
him that I aroused the resentment of  the  people of Rennes.  I should  have
known that all my speech was not reported to you.
     "It was, and that part of it among the rest."
     "Ah!  And yet you are concerned to save me, the man who seeks  the life
of your future husband at  the hands either of the  law or of the people? Or
is it, perhaps,  that  since you have seen his true nature  revealed in  the
murder of  poor  Philippe,  you have changed  your views  on  the subject of
becoming Marquise de La Tour d'Azyr?"
     "You often show yourself without any faculty of deductive reasoning."
     "Perhaps.  But hardly to  the  extent of imagining that  M. de  La Tour
d'Azyr will ever lift a finger to do as you suggest."
     "In which, as usual,  you are  wrong. He will certainly do  so if I ask
him."
     "If you ask him?" Sheer horror rang in his voice.
     "Why, yes. You see,  I have not yet said that I will  be Marquise de La
Tour  d'Azyr.  I am  still  considering.  It  is  a position  that  has  its
advantages. One of them is that it ensures a suitor's complete obedience."
     "So, so. I see the  crooked logic of  your mind. You might go so far as
to say to him: 'Refuse me this, and I shall refuse to be your marquise.' You
would go so far as that?"
     "At need, I might."
     "And do you  not see the converse implication? Do you not see that your
hands  would then be tied, that you would be wanting in honour if afterwards
you  refused  him? And do you think that I  would  consent to  anything that
could so tie your hands? Do you think I want to see you damned, Aline?"
     Her hand fell away from his arm.
     "Oh, you are mad!" she exclaimed, quite out of patience.
     "Possibly. But I like my  madness.  There is a thrill  in it unknown to
such sanity as yours.  By your leave,  Aline,  I think  I  will  ride on  to
Gavrillac."
     "Andre, you must not! It  is death to you!" In her alarm she backed her
horse, and pulled it across the road to bar his way.
     It was  almost completely night by  now; but from behind  the wrack  of
clouds overhead a crescent moon sailed out to alleviate the darkness.
     "Come, now,"  she enjoined  him. "Be reasonable.  Do as I bid you. See,
there  is  a carriage  coming  up behind  you. Do not let us  be  found here
together thus."
     He made up his mind quickly. He was not the man to be actuated by false
heroics about dying, and he had no fancy whatever  for the gallows  of M. de
Lesdiguieres' providing. The immediate task that he had set himself might be
accomplished. He had  made heard - and ringingly  - the voice  that M. de La
Tour  d'Azyr imagined he had silenced. But he was very far  from having done
with life.
     "Aline, on one condition only."
     "And that?"
     "That  you  swear to  me  you will never seek the aid of M. de La  Tour
d'Azyr on my behalf."
     "Since you insist, and as time presses, I consent. And now ride on with
me as far as the lane. There is that carriage coming up."
     The lane to which she referred was one that branched off the road  some
three  hundred yards nearer the village and led straight up the  hill to the
chateau itself. In silence they rode together towards it, and  together they
turned into that thickly hedged and narrow bypath. At a depth of fifty yards
she halted him.
     "Now!" she bade him.
     Obediently he swung down from his horse,  and surrendered the reins  to
her.
     "Aline," he said, "I haven't words in which to thank you."
     "It isn't necessary," said she.
     "But I shall hope to repay you some day."
     "Nor is  that necessary. Could I do less than I am doing? I do not want
to hear  of you  hanged, Andre;  nor does my  uncle, though he is very angry
with you.
     "I suppose he is.
     "And  you   can  hardly  be  surprised.  You  were  his  delegate,  his
representative.  He depended upon you, and  you have turned your coat. He is
rightly  indignant, calls you a traitor, and swears that he will never speak
to you again. But he doesn't want you hanged, Andre."
     "Then we are agreed on that at least, for I don't want it myself."
     "I'll make  your peace with him.  And now - good-bye,  Andre. Send me a
word when you are safe."
     She held out a hand that looked ghostly  in the faint light. He took it
and bore it to his lips.
     "God bless you, Aline."
     She was gone,  and he stood  listening to  the receding clopper-clop of
hooves until  it grew  faint in  the distance.  Then slowly,  with shoulders
hunched and head sunk on his breast, he retraced his steps to the main road,
cogitating whither he should go. Quite suddenly he checked, remembering with
dismay that he was almost entirely without money. In Brittany itself he knew
of no dependable hiding-place,  and as long as he  was in Brittany his peril
must remain imminent. Yet to leave the province, and to leave  it as quickly
as prudence  dictated, horses would be  necessary. And how was he to procure
horses, having no money  beyond  a  single louis  d'or and  a few pieces  of
silver?
     There was also the fact that he was very weary. He had had little sleep
since Tuesday night, and not very much then;  and much of  the time had been
spent in  the  saddle, a  wearing thing to one  so little accustomed to long
rides. Worn as he was, it was unthinkable that he should go far to-night. He
might get as far as Chavagne, perhaps. But there he  must sup and sleep; and
what, then, of to-morrow?
     Had he but thought of  it before, perhaps Aline might have been able to
assist him with the loan of a few louis. His first impulse now was to follow
her to the chateau. But prudence dismissed the notion. Before he could reach
her, he must be seen by servants, and word of his presence would go forth.
     There was  no choice for him; he must  tramp as far as Chavagne, find a
bed there, and leave to-morrow until it dawned. On  the  resolve he  set his
face in the direction whence he had come. But again he paused.  Chavagne lay
on the road to Rennes. To go that way was to plunge further into  danger. He
would strike south  again. At the  foot of some meadows on this side  of the
village there was a ferry that would put him across the river. Thus he would
avoid the  village;  and  by  placing  the river  between  himself  and  the
immediate danger, he would obtain an added sense of security.
     A lane, turning  out of the highroad, a quarter  of a mile this side of
Gavrillac, led down  to that ferry. By  this lane some twenty  minutes later
came  Andre-Louis with  dragging feet. He avoided the  little cottage of the
ferryman, whose  window was alight, and in  the dark crept down to the boat,
intending if possible to put himself across. He  felt for the chain by which
the boat  was moored, and ran his fingers along  this to the point where  it
was fastened. Here to his dismay he found a padlock.
     He stood up in the  gloom and laughed silently. Of course he might have
known it. The ferry was the property of M. de La Tour d'Azyr, and not likely
to  be left unfastened so that  poor devils  might cheat him  of seigneurial
dues.
     There being no possible alternative, he walked back to the cottage, and
rapped on the door. When it opened,  he stood  well back, and  aside, out of
the shaft of light that issued thence.
     "Ferry!" he rapped out, laconically.
     The ferryman, a burly scoundrel well known to him, turned aside to pick
up a lantern, and came forth as he was bidden. As he stepped from the little
porch, he levelled the  lantern so that its light fell on the  face  of this
traveller.
     "My God!" he ejaculated.
     "You realize,  I see, that I am pressed," said Andre-Louis, his eyes on
the fellow's startled countenance.
     "And well you may  be with  the  gallows  waiting  for you at  Rennes,"
growled  the ferryman. "Since you've been  so  foolish  as  to come back  to
Gavrillac, you had better go again as quickly as you can. I will say nothing
of having seen you."
     "I thank you,  Fresnel. Your  advice accords with my intention. That is
why I need the boat."
     "Ah, that, no," said Fresnel, with determination. "I'll hold my  peace,
but it's as much as my skin is worth to help you.
     "You need not have seen my face. Forget that you have seen it."
     "I'll do  that, monsieur.  But that is  all I will do. I cannot put you
across the river."
     "Then give me the key of the boat, and I will put myself across."
     "That is the same thing. I cannot. I'll  hold my tongue, but I will not
- I dare not - help you."
     Andre-Louis  looked  a  moment  into that sullen,  resolute  face,  and
understood. This man,  living under  the  shadow of La  Tour  d'Azyr,  dared
exercise no will that might he in conflict with the will of his dread lord.
     "Fresnel," he said, quietly, "if, as you say, the gallows claim me, the
thing that has brought me to this  extremity arises out  of the  shooting of
Mabey.  Had not Mabey been murdered  there would have been no need for me to
have  raised my voice as I have done. Mabey  was  your friend, I think. Will
you for his sake lend me the little help I need to save my neck?"
     The man kept his glance averted,  and the cloud  of sullenness deepened
on his face.
     "I would  if I dared, but I  dare not." Then, quite suddenly  he became
angry. It was as if in anger he sought support. "Don't you understand that I
dare not? Would you have a poor man risk his life for you? What have  you or
yours ever done for me  that you should ask that? You do not cross  to-night
in  my  ferry.  Understand that, monsieur, and  go  at  once -  go before  I
remember that it may be dangerous even  to have  talked to  you and not give
information. Go!"
     He  turned  on  his  heel  to  reenter  his  cottage,  and  a  wave  of
hopelessness swept over Andre-Louis.
     But in a second it was gone. The man must be compelled, and  he had the
means. He bethought  him of a pistol pressed upon him by Le Chapelier at the
moment  of his  leaving Rennes,  a  gift which at  the  time  he had  almost
disdained. True,  it was  not loaded, and he had no ammunition. But how  was
Fresnel to know that?
     He acted quickly. As with  his right hand he pulled it from his pocket,
with his left he caught the ferryman by the shoulder, and swung him round.
     "What do you want  now?" Fresnel demanded angrily. "Haven't I  told you
that I... "
     He  broke off short. The muzzle of the pistol was  within a foot of his
eyes.
     "I want the key of  the boat.  That is all, Fresnel. And you can either
give it me at once, or I'll take it after I have burnt your brains. I should
regret to kill you, but I shall not hesitate. It is your life against  mine,
Fresnel; and you'll not find it strange that if  one of us must die I prefer
that it shall be you."
     Fresnel  dipped a hand into his pocket, and  fetched thence  a  key. He
held it  out to  Andre-Louis in fingers that  shook - more in anger than  in
fear.
     "I yield to violence," he said,  showing his teeth like a snarling dog.
"But don't imagine that it will greatly profit you."
     Andre-Louis took the key. His pistol remained levelled.
     "You threaten me, I think," he said. "It  is not difficult to read your
threat.  The moment I am gone, you  will run to inform against me.  You will
set the marechaussee on my heels to overtake me."
     "No,  no!" cried the other. He perceived his peril. He read his doom in
the cold, sinister note on which Andre-Louis addressed him, and grew afraid.
"I swear to you, monsieur, that I have no such intention."
     "I think I had better make quite sure of you."
     "0 my God! Have mercy,  monsieur!" The knave was in  a palsy of terror.
"I mean you no harm - I swear to Heaven I mean you no harm. I will not say a
word. I will not... "
     "I would rather depend upon your  silence  than your assurances. Still,
you shall have your chance. I am a fool, perhaps, but I have a reluctance to
shed blood. Go into the house, Fresnel. Go, man. I follow you."
     In the shabby main room of that dwelling, Andre-Louis halted him again.
"Get me a length of rope," he commanded, and was readily obeyed.
     Five  minutes  later  Fresnel  was  securely  bound  to  a  chair,  and
effectively silenced by a very uncomfortable  gag improvised out  of a block
of wood and a muffler.
     On the threshold the departing Andre-Louis turned.
     "Good-night,  Fresnel," he said. Fierce eyes glared mute hatred at him.
"It  is unlikely  that your ferry will be  required again to-night. But some
one is sure  to come to your  relief  quite early in the morning. Until then
bear  your discomfort with what fortitude you can, remembering that you have
brought it entirely upon yourself by your uncharitableness. If you spend the
night considering that,  the lesson should not be lost upon  you. By morning
you may even have grown  so charitable as not to know  who it  was that tied
you up. Good-night."
     He stepped out and closed the door.
     To unlock the  ferry, and pull himself across the swift-running waters,
on  which the faint moonlight was making a silver ripple,  were matters that
engaged not  more than six or seven minutes.  He  drove the nose of the boat
through the decaying sedges that fringed the southern  bank  of  the stream,
sprang ashore, and made the  little craft secure. Then, missing the footpath
in the dark, he struck out across a sodden meadow in quest of the road.






     Coming  presently  upon the Redon  road, Andre-Louis,  obeying instinct
rather than reason, turned  his  face to  the south, and plodded wearily and
mechanically forward. He had no clear idea of whither  he  was going,  or of
whither he should go. All that imported at the moment was to put as  great a
distance as possible between Gavrillac and himself.
     He had a vague, half-formed notion  of  returning to Nantes; and there,
by employing the newly  found  weapon of his oratory, excite the people into
sheltering him as  the first victim of the persecution  he had foreseen, and
against which he had sworn them to take  up arms. But the idea was one which
he entertained  merely  as an indefinite possibility  upon which he felt  no
real impulse to act.
     Meanwhile he chuckled  at the thought of  Fresnel  as he  had last seen
him,  with his muffled face and glaring  eyeballs. "For one who was anything
but a man of action," he writes, "I felt that I had acquitted myself none so
badly."  It  is   a  phrase  that  recurs  at  intervals   in   his  sketchy
"Confessions." Constantly is he reminding you that he is a man of mental and
not  physical  activities, and apologizing when dire  neccessity drives  him
into  acts  of  violence. I suspect  this  insistence  upon his  philosophic
detachment - for which I confess he had justification enough - to betray his
besetting vanity.
     With  increasing  fatigue came  depression  and  self-criticism. He had
stupidly overshot his mark in insultingly denouncing M. de Lesdiguieres. "It
is much better," he says somewhere, "to be wicked than to be stupid. Most of
this world's misery is the  fruit not  as priests tell us of wickedness, but
of stupidity." And  we know that of all stupidities  he considered anger the
most deplorable. Yet he had permitted himself  to  be angry with a  creature
like  M. de  Lesdiguieres  - a  lackey,  a fribble,  a nothing, despite  his
potentialities for evil. He could perfectly have discharged his self-imposed
mission without arousing the vindictive resentment of the King's Lieutenant.
     He  beheld himself  vaguely launched upon life with the  riding-suit in
which  he stood, a single  louis d'or and  a few  pieces  of silver  for all
capital, and  a knowledge of  law which had been inadequate to  preserve him
from the consequences of infringing it.
     He  had, in addition  - but  these  things  that  were to  be  the real
salvation of him he  did  not reckon - his gift of laughter, sadly repressed
of late, and the philosophic outlook and mercurial temperament which are the
stock-in-trade of your adventurer in all ages.
     Meanwhile  he tramped mechanically on through the night, until  he felt
that he could tramp no more. He had skirted the little  township of Guichen,
and now within a half-mile of Guignen, and with Gavrillac a good seven miles
behind him, his legs refused to carry him any farther.
     He  was midway across  the vast common to the north of Guignen  when he
came to a halt. He had left  the road,  and taken heedlessly to the footpath
that struck across the waste of indifferent pasture interspersed with clumps
of gorse. A  stone's  throw away  on  his right the common was bordered by a
thorn hedge. Beyond this loomed  a tall building which he knew to be an open
barn, standing  on  the  edge of  a long stretch of meadowland.  That  dark,
silent  shadow  it  may  have  been that had brought  him  to  a standstill,
suggesting shelter to his  subconsciousness. A moment he hesitated; then  he
struck across towards  a  spot where a  gap in  the hedge  was  closed  by a
five-barred gate. He pushed the gate open, went through  the gap,  and stood
now before the barn. It was as big as a house, yet consisted of no more than
a roof carried upon half a  dozen  tall,  brick  pillars. But densely packed
under that roof was a great  stack  of hay that promised a warm couch on  so
cold a  night. Stout timbers had been  built  into  the brick  pillars, with
projecting ends to serve as  ladders by which the labourer  might  climb  to
pack or  withdraw hay. With what  little strength remained him,  Andre-Louis
climbed by one of these and landed safely at the top, where he was forced to
kneel, for lack of room to stand upright. Arrived there, he removed his coat
and neckcloth, his sodden boots and stockings. Next he cleared a  trough for
his body, and lying down in it, covered himself  to the neck with the hay he
had  removed. Within  five  minutes he  was lost  to  all worldly  cares and
soundly asleep.
     When  next  he awakened, the sun was already  high in the heavens, from
which he concluded that  the  morning was  well advanced; and this before he
realized  quite where he was or  how  he came there.  Then  to his awakening
senses  came a  drone  of voices close at  hand, to which at  first he  paid
little   heed.   He  was   deliciously  refreshed,  luxuriously  drowsy  and
luxuriously warm.
     But  as  consciousness  and  memory grew more full, he raised his  head
clear  of the hay that he might free both ears to listen, his pulses faintly
quickened by the nascent fear that those voices might bode him no good. Then
he caught the reassuring accents  of a woman,  musical  and silvery,  though
laden with alarm.
     "Ah, mon Dieu, Leandre,  let us  separate at once. If  it  should be my
father... "
     And upon this a man's voice broke in, calm and reassuring:
     "No,  no, Climene; you are mistaken. There is  no one  coming.  We  are
quite safe. Why do you start at shadows?"
     "Ah, Leandre, if he should find us here together! I tremble at the very
thought."
     More was not needed to reassure Andre-Louis. He had overheard enough to
know that this was but the case of a pair of lovers who, with less  to  fear
of life,  were yet - after the  manner of their kind  - more timid  of heart
than he.  Curiosity drew  him from his  warm trough  to the edge of the hay.
Lying prone, he advanced his head and peered down.
     In the  space of cropped meadow between the  barn and the hedge stood a
man and a woman, both  young. The man was a well-set-up, comely fellow, with
a fine head of  chestnut hair tied in a queue by a broad bow of black satin.
He was dressed with  certain tawdry attempts at ostentatious embellishments,
which  did not prepossess one at  first glance in his  favour. His coat of a
fashionable cut  was of faded plum-coloured velvet edged  with silver  lace,
whose glory had  long since  departed. He affected  ruffles, but for want of
starch  they  hung  like  weeping  willows over hands  that  were  fine  and
delicate. His breeches  were of plain black  cloth, and  his black stockings
were of cotton  - matters entirely out of harmony with his magnificent coat.
His  shoes,  stout  and  serviceable,  were decked with  buckles  of  cheap,
lack-lustre   paste.  But  for   his  engaging  and  ingenuous  countenance,
Andre-Louis must have set  him down as  a  knight of  that order which lives
dishonestly by  its wits.  As it was, he suspended  judgment  whilst pushing
investigation further by a study of the girl. At the outset, be it confessed
that   it  was  a  study   that  attracted   him   prodigiously.   And  this
notwithstanding the fact that, bookish and studious as were his ways, and in
despite of his years, it was far  from his habit to waste  consideration  on
femininity.
     The child - she was no more than that, perhaps twenty at the most
     - possessed, in addition to the allurements of face and shape that went
very near perfection, a sparkling vivacity and a  grace of movement the like
of  which Andre-Louis did not remember ever before to have beheld  assembled
in  one person.  And her  voice too  - that musical, silvery voice  that had
awakened him - possessed  in its exquisite modulations an allurement of  its
own that must have been irresistible, he thought, in the ugliest of her sex.
She wore a hooded mantle of green cloth, and the hood being thrown back, her
dainty head was all revealed to him. There were glints of gold struck by the
morning sun from her  light nut-brown hair  that hung in a cluster  of curls
about her oval face.  Her complexion was of a delicacy that he could compare
only with a rose petal. He could  not at that distance discern the colour of
her  eyes, but he guessed them blue, as he admired the sparkle of them under
the fine, dark line of eyebrows.
     He could not  have told you why, but he was conscious that it aggrieved
him to find her so  intimate with this pretty young fellow, who  was  partly
clad, as it appeared, in the cast-offs of a nobleman. He could not guess her
station, but the speech that  reached  him was cultured in tone and word. He
strained to listen.
     "I shall  know no peace, Leandre, until we are  safely wedded," she was
saying. "Not until then shall I count myself beyond his reach. And yet if we
marry without his consent, we but make trouble for ourselves, and of gaining
his consent I almost despair."
     Evidently, thought Andre-Louis, her  father was a man of sense, who saw
through the shabby finery of M. Leandre, and was not to be  dazzled by cheap
paste buckles.
     "My dear  Climene," the  young man was answering her, standing squarely
before her, and holding both her hands, "you are wrong  to  despond. If I do
not reveal to you all the stratagem that I have  prepared to win the consent
of your  unnatural parent,  it  is because  I  am  loath to rob  you  of the
pleasure  of the surprise that is in store. But place your faith  in me, and
in that  ingenious  friend of whom I have spoken, and who  should be here at
any moment."
     The stilted ass!  Had he learnt that speech by heart in advance, or was
he by  nature a pedantic idiot who expressed himself in  this set and formal
manner? How  came so sweet  a blossom to  waste her perfumes on such a prig?
And what a ridiculous name the creature owned!
     Thus Andre-Louis  to  himself from  his observatory. Meanwhile, she was
speaking.
     "That  is what  my heart desires, Leandre, but I am beset by fears lest
your  stratagem should be too late. I am to  marry this horrible  Marquis of
Sbrufadelli this very day. He arrives by noon. He comes to sign the contract
- to make me the Marchioness of Sbrufadelli. Oh!" It was a cry of pain  from
that tender  young heart.  "The very name burns my lips. If  it were mine  I
could never utter  it - never! The man  is so  detestable. Save me, Leandre.
Save me! You are my only hope."
     Andre-Louis  was conscious of a pang  of disappointment. She  failed to
soar to  the  heights he had expected of her. She was  evidently infected by
the stilted manner of her ridiculous lover. There was an  atrocious  lack of
sincerity  about her  words.  They  touched  his mind, but  left  his  heart
unmoved. Perhaps this was because  of his antipathy to M. Leandre and to the
issue involved.
     So her father was marrying her to a marquis! That  implied birth on her
side. And yet she was content to pair off with this dull young adventurer in
the tarnished lace! It was, he supposed, the sort of thing to be expected of
a sex that all philosophy had taught him to regard as  the maddest part of a
mad species.
     "It shall  never be!" M. Leandre  was storming  passionately. "Never! I
swear it!" And he shook his puny fist at the blue vault of heaven
     -  Ajax defying Jupiter. "Ah, but  here  comes  our subtle  friend... "
(Andre-Louis did not catch the name, M. Leandre having at that moment turned
to face the gap in the hedge.) "He will bring us news, I know."
     Andre-Louis looked also in the direction of the gap. Through it emerged
a lean, slight man in a rusty cloak and a  three-cornered hat worn well down
over his nose so as to shade his face. And when presently he doffed this hat
and  made a  sweeping  bow to  the  young  lovers, Andre-Louis  confessed to
himself  that  had he been  cursed with such a  hangdog countenance he would
have worn his hat in precisely such a manner, so as to conceal as much of it
as  possible.  If M. Leandre appeared to be wearing, in part  at least,  the
cast-offs of nobleman, the newcomer appeared to be wearing  the cast-offs of
M.  Leandre. Yet despite  his vile clothes and  viler  face,  with its three
days'  growth of beard, the fellow  carried himself with a  certain air;  he
positively strutted as he advanced,  and he made a  leg in a manner that was
courtly and practised.
     "Monsieur," said he,  with  the air  of a  conspirator, "the  time  for
action has arrived, and so has the Marquis... That is why."
     The young lovers sprang apart  in consternation;  Climene  with clasped
hands, parted  lips, and  a bosom  that raced  distractingly under its white
fichu-menteur; M. Leandre agape, the very picture of foolishness and dismay.
     Meanwhile the newcomer rattled  on. "I was  at the inn an hour ago when
he  descended  there,  and  I  studied  him  attentively  whilst he  was  at
breakfast. Having done so, not a single doubt remains  me of our success. As
for what he looks like, I could entertain  you at length upon the fashion in
which nature has designed  his gross fatuity.  But that is no matter. We are
concerned with what he is, with the wit of him. And  I tell you  confidently
that I find him so dull  and stupid that you may be confident he will tumble
headlong into each and all of  the traps I have  so  cunningly prepared  for
him."
     "Tell  me, tell me! Speak!" Climene implored him, holding out her hands
in a supplication no man of sensibility could have resisted. And then on the
instant she caught her breath on a faint scream. "My father!" she exclaimed,
turning  distractedly from one to the other of those two. "He is  coming! We
are lost!"
     "You must fly, Climene!" said M. Leandre.
     "Too late!" she sobbed. "Too late! He is here."
     "Calm,  mademoiselle,  calm!" the subtle  friend  was urging her. "Keep
calm and trust to me. I promise you that all shall be well."
     "Oh!" cried M. Leandre, limply.  "Say what you will, my friend, this is
ruin -  the end of all  our  hopes. Your wits will  never extricate us  from
this. Never!"
     Through the gap strode now an enormous man with an inflamed  moon  face
and a great nose, decently dressed after the  fashion  of a solid bourgeois.
There was no mistaking his anger,  but the expression  that it found was  an
amazement to Andre-Louis.
     "Leandre, you're an  imbecile! Too much  phlegm, too much  phlegm! Your
words wouldn't  convince a ploughboy! Have you considered what they  mean at
all? Thus," he cried, and casting his round hat from him in a broad gesture,
he  took  his stand at M. Leandre's  side, and repeated the very  words that
Leandre had lately  uttered,  what time the three  observed  him coolly  and
attentively.
     "Oh, say what you will, my  friend, this is  ruin - the end of all  our
hopes. Your wits will never extricate us from this. Never!"
     A frenzy of despair vibrated in his  accents. He swung again to face M.
Leandre.  "Thus,"  he bade  him  contemptuously.  "Let  the passion of  your
hopelessness express itself in your voice. Consider  that you are not asking
Scaramouche here whether he has put  a  patch  in  your breeches. You  are a
despairing lover expressing... "
     He checked abruptly, startled. Andre-Louis, suddenly realizing what was
afoot, and  how duped he had been,  had loosed his laughter. The sound of it
pealing and booming  uncannily  under  the  great  roof  that so immediately
confined him was startling to those below.
     The fat man was the first to recover, and he announced it after his own
fashion in one of the ready sarcasms in which he habitually dealt.
     "Hark!"  he  cried, "the  very  gods  laugh  at  you, Leandre." Then he
addressed the roof of the barn and its invisible tenant. "Hi! You there!"
     Andre-Louis  revealed himself by a  further  protrusion  of his tousled
head.
     "Good-morning,"  said  he, pleasantly.  Rising now  on  his  knees, his
horizon  was suddenly extended to include the broad common beyond the hedge.
He beheld  there an enormous  and  very  battered  travelling chaise, a cart
piled up with timbers partly visible  under the sheet  of  oiled canvas that
covered  them, and  a sort of house on  wheels equipped with a tin  chimney,
from which  the  smoke was slowly curling. Three heavy  Flemish horses and a
couple  of donkeys  - all of them hobbled  - were  contentedly cropping  the
grass in the neighbourhood  of these vehicles.  These, had he perceived them
sooner, must have given him the clue to the queer scene that had been played
under  his eyes. Beyond the hedge other  figures were  moving. Three at that
moment came  crowding into the gap  -  a saucy-faced girl with  a tip-tilted
nose,  whom  he supposed  to be  Columbine,  the soubrette; a  lean,  active
youngster, who  must be  the lackey Harlequin;, and  another rather  loutish
youth who might be a zany or an apothecary.
     All this he took in  at  a comprehensive glance that  consumed no  more
time  than  it  had taken him  to  say  good-morning.  To that  good-morning
Pantaloon replied in a bellow:
     "What the devil are you doing up there?"
     "Precisely  the same  thing  that  you are  doing down  there," was the
answer. "I am trespassing."
     "Eh?"  said Pantaloon,  and  looked  at  his  companions, some  of  the
assurance beaten out of his  big red  face.  Although the thing was one that
they did habitually, to hear it called by its proper name was disconcerting.
     "Whose land is this?" he asked, with diminishing assurance.
     Andre-Louis answered, whilst drawing on his stockings. "I believe it to
be the property of the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr."
     "That's a high-sounding name. Is the gentleman severe?"
     "The  gentleman," said Andre-Louis, "is the  devil; or rather, I should
prefer to say upon reflection, that the devil is a gentleman by comparison.
     "And   yet,"  interposed   the  villainous-looking  fellow  who  played
Scaramouche,  "by  your  own  confessing  you  don't hesitate,  yourself, to
trespass upon his property."
     "Ah,  but then,  you  see, I am a  lawyer. And lawyers  are notoriously
unable to observe the law,  just  as actors are notoriously  unable  to act.
Moreover,  sir,  Nature  imposes  her limits upon us,  and  Nature  conquers
respect for law as  she  conquers all  else. Nature  conquered me last night
when I had  got as far as this. And so I slept here  without regard  for the
very  high and  puissant  Marquis de La  Tour d'Azyr.  At the  same time, M.
Scaramouche, you'll observe  that  I did not  flaunt  my  trespass  quite as
openly as you and your companions.
     Having  donned his boots,  Andre-Louis came nimbly to the ground in his
shirt-sleeves, his riding-coat over his arm. As he  stood  there to don  it,
the little cunning eyes  of the heavy father conned him in detail. Observing
that his  clothes, if plain, were of a good fashion, that  his shirt was  of
fine cambric, and that he expressed himself like  a man of culture, such  as
he claimed to be, M. Pantaloon was disposed to be civil.
     "I am very grateful to you for the warning, sir... " he was beginning.
     "Act upon it, my friend. The gardes-champetres of M. d'Azyr have orders
to fire on trespassers. Imitate me, and decamp."
     They followed him upon the instant through that gap in the hedge to the
encampment on the common.  There Andre-Louis took his leave  of them. But as
he  was turning away he perceived a young man of the company  performing his
morning toilet at a bucket placed upon one of the wooden steps  at the  tail
of the house on wheels. A moment he hesitated, then he turned frankly to  M.
Pantaloon, who was still at his elbow.
     "If  it   were  not  unconscionable  to  encroach  so  far   upon  your
hospitality,  monsieur,"  said he, "I would  beg leave  to imitate that very
excellent young gentleman before I leave you."
     "But, my dear sir!" Good-nature oozed out of every pore of the fat body
of  the  master player.  "It is nothing at all. But, by all means. Rhodomont
will  provide what you require. He is the dandy of the company in real life,
though a fire-eater on the stage. Hi, Rhodomont!"
     The young ablutionist straightened his long body from  the  right angle
in which it had been bent over the bucket,  and looked out through a foam of
soapsuds. Pantaloon issued an order, and Rhodomont, who was indeed as gentle
and amiable off  the stage as he was formidable and  terrible  upon it, made
the stranger free of the bucket in the friendliest manner.
     So Andre-Louis once more removed his neckcloth and his coat, and rolled
up the  sleeves of his fine  shirt,  whilst Rhodomont procured him  soap,  a
towel, and presently  a broken comb, and even a greasy hair-ribbon,  in case
the gentleman should have  lost his own. This last Andre-Louis declined, but
the comb  he gratefully accepted, and having presently washed himself clean,
stood, with the towel flung over his  left shoulder, restoring  order to his
dishevelled locks before a broken piece of mirror affixed to the door of the
travelling house.
     He was standing thus,  what time the gentle Rhodomont babbled aimlessly
at  his side when  his ears caught the sound of hooves. He  looked over  his
shoulder carelessly, and  then stood frozen, with uplifted comb and loosened
mouth.  Away  across the common, on the  road that  bordered it, he beheld a
party  of  seven  horsemen  in  the  blue coats  with  red  facings  of  the
marechaussee.
     Not  for a  moment did  he  doubt what was  the quarry of this prowling
gendarmerie.  It was as  if  the  chill  shadow  of the gallows  had  fallen
suddenly upon him.
     And then the troop halted, abreast with them, and the sergeant  leading
it sent his bawling voice across the common.
     "Hi, there! Hi!" His tone rang with menace.
     Every member of the company - and there were some twelve in all
     -  stood at  gaze. Pantaloon advanced a step or two, stalking, his head
thrown back, his manner that of a King's Lieutenant.
     "Now, what the devil's this?" quoth he,  but whether of  Fate or Heaven
or the sergeant, was not clear.
     There  was a brief colloquy among the horsemen, then they came trotting
across the common straight towards the players' encampment.
     Andre-Louis had remained standing at the tail of the travelling  house.
He was still passing the  comb through his straggling hair, but mechanically
and  unconsciously.  His  mind was all  intent upon the advancing troop, his
wits alert and gathered together for a leap  in whatever direction should be
indicated.
     Still  in the distance, but evidently impatient,  the sergeant bawled a
question.
     "Who gave you leave to encamp here?"
     It was  a  question that  reassured Andre-Louis not at all.  He was not
deceived by it into supposing or even hoping that the  business of these men
was merely to round up vagrants and trespassers.  That was no part of  their
real duty; it was something done in passing
     - done, perhaps, in the hope of levying a tax of their own. It was very
long odds  that they were from Rennes, and that their  real business was the
hunting down of a  young  lawyer charged  with sedition. Meanwhile Pantaloon
was shouting back.
     "Who gave us leave, do you say? What leave? This is communal land, free
to all."
     The sergeant laughed unpleasantly, and came on, his troop following.
     "There  is,"  said  a  voice  at  Pantaloon's  elbow, "no such thing as
communal land in the proper sense in all M. de La Tour d'Azyr's vast domain.
This is a terre censive, and his bailiffs collect his dues from all who send
their beasts to graze here."
     Pantaloon   turned  to   behold   at   his  side   Andre-Louis  in  his
shirt-sleeves,  and without a  neckcloth, the towel still trailing over  his
left shoulder, a comb in his hand, his hair half dressed.
     "God of God!" swore Pantaloon. "But  it is an ogre, this  Marquis de La
Tour d'Azyr!"
     "I have told you  already what I think of  him," said Andre-Louis.  "As
for these fellows you had better let me deal with them. I have experience of
their  kind."  And  without  waiting for  Pantaloon's  consent,  Andre-Louis
stepped  forward  to  meet  the advancing  men  of the marechaussee.  He had
realized that here boldness alone could save him.
     When a moment  later the sergeant pulled up his horse alongside of this
half-dressed  young man, Andre-Louis combed his hair what time he looked  up
with a half smile, intended to be friendly, ingenuous, and disarming.
     In spite of it the  sergeant hailed him gruffly: "Are you the leader of
this troop of vagabonds?"
     "Yes... that is to say, my father, there, is really the leader." And he
jerked a thumb  in the  direction of M. Pantaloon,  who stood at gaze out of
earshot in the background. "What is your pleasure, captain?"
     "My  pleasure is to  tell you that you are very likely to be gaoled for
this,  all the pack of  you."  His  voice was  loud and bullying. It carried
across  the common to the ears of every  member of the  company, and brought
them  all  to  stricken  attention where  they stood. The  lot  of strolling
players was hard enough without the addition of gaolings.
     "But how so, my captain? This is communal land free to all."
     "It is nothing of the kind."
     "Where are the fences?" quoth  Andre-Louis,  waving the hand that  held
the comb, as if to indicate the openness of the place.
     "Fences!" snorted the  sergeant.  "What have  fences  to  do  with  the
matter? This is terre censive. There is no grazing here  save by payment  of
dues to the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr."
     "But we are not grazing," quoth the innocent Andre-Louis.
     "To the devil  with you, zany! You are not grazing! But your beasts are
grazing!"
     "They  eat so  little," Andre-Louis apologized,  and  again essayed his
ingratiating smile.
     The sergeant  grew more terrible than ever. "That is not the point. The
point  is  that you are committing  what amounts to a theft, and there's the
gaol for thieves."
     "Technically, I suppose you are right," sighed Andre-Louis, and fell to
combing his hair again, still looking up into the sergeant's face.  "But  we
have sinned in ignorance. We are grateful to you for the warning." He passed
the  comb into his left hand,  and  with his right fumbled in his  breeches'
pocket, whence there came a faint jingle of coins. "We are desolated to have
brought you out of your way. Perhaps for their trouble your men would honour
us  by stopping  at the next inn to drink the health of... of  this M. de La
Tour d' Azyr, or any other health that they think proper.
     Some of the clouds lifted from the sergeant's brow. But not yet all.
     "Well, well," said he, gruffly. "But you must decamp, you  understand."
He  leaned from the saddle  to bring  his  recipient hand  to  a  convenient
distance. Andre-Louis placed in it a three-livre piece.
     "In half an hour," said Andre-Louis.
     "Why in half an hour? Why not at once?"
     "Oh, but time to break our fast."
     They looked at each other. The sergeant next considered the broad piece
of  silver in  his  palm.  Then  at last  his  features  relaxed from  their
sternness.
     "After all," said he, "it is none of our business to play the tipstaves
for  M.  de  La  Tour  d'Azyr.  We are  of  the  marechaussee from  Rennes."
Andre-Louis' eyelids played him false by  flickering.  "But  if  you linger,
look out for the  gardes-champetres  of the Marquis. You'll find them not at
all accommodating. Well, well
     - a good appetite to you, monsieur," said he, in valediction.
     "A pleasant ride, my captain," answered Andre-Louis.
     The sergeant wheeled his horse about, his  troop wheeled with him. They
were starting off, when he reined up again.
     "You, monsieur!" he  called over his shoulder.  In  a bound Andre-Louis
was beside his  stirrup. "We  are  in quest of a scoundrel named Andre-Louis
Moreau, from Gavrillac,  a fugitive from justice wanted for the gallows on a
matter of sedition. You've seen nothing, I suppose, of a man whose movements
seemed to you suspicious?"
     "Indeed,  we have,"  said Andre-Louis, very boldly, his face eager with
consciousness of the ability to oblige.
     "You have?" cried the sergeant, in a ringing voice. "Where? When?"
     "Yesterday evening in the neighbourhood of Guignen... "
     "Yes, yes," the sergeant felt himself hot upon the trail.
     "There was  a fellow  who seemed very fearful of being recognized ... a
man of fifty or thereabouts... "
     "Fifty!" cried the sergeant, and his face fell. "Bah! This man of  ours
is no  older than yourself, a thin wisp of a fellow of about your own height
and of black hair, just like your own, by the description. Keep a lookout on
your  travels,  master player. The King's Lieutenant in Rennes has  sent  us
word  this morning that he will pay ten louis to any one  giving information
that  will  lead to  this scoundrel's arrest. So  there  's ten louis  to be
earned by keeping your eyes open, and sending  word to the nearest justices.
It would be a fine windfall for you, that."
     "A fine windfall, indeed, captain," answered Andre-Louis, laughing.
     But the sergeant had  touched his horse with the  spur, and was already
trotting off in the wake of his men. Andre-Louis continued to  laugh,  quite
silently, as he sometimes did when the humour of a jest was peculiarly keen.
     Then  he turned slowly about,  and came  back towards Pantaloon and the
rest of the company, who were now all grouped together, at gaze.
     Pantaloon advanced to meet him with both  hands out-held. For a  moment
Andre-Louis thought he was about to be embraced.
     "We hail you our saviour!" the  big  man declaimed. "Already the shadow
of the gaol was creeping over us, chilling us to the very marrow. For though
we be poor, yet  are we all  honest folk and not one of us has ever suffered
the indignity of  prison. Nor is  there one of us would  survive it. But for
you, my friend, it might have happened. What magic did you work?"
     "The  magic that is to be worked in France with  a King's portrait. The
French  are a very loyal nation, as you will have observed.  They love their
King  - and his  portrait even better  than himself, especially  when it  is
wrought in gold. But even in  silver  it  is respected. The sergeant was  so
overcome by the sight of that noble visage - on a  three-livre  piece - that
his anger vanished, and he has gone his ways leaving us to depart in peace."
     "Ah, true! He said we must decamp. About it, my lads! Come, come... "
     "But not  until after  breakfast," said Andre-Louis.  "A half-hour  for
breakfast  was conceded us by that loyal  fellow, so deeply was  he touched.
True,  he spoke of possible gardes-champetres. But he knows as well as I  do
that they are not  seriously to be feared, and that if  they came, again the
King's  portrait  -  wrought in  copper this  time -  would produce the same
melting effect upon them. So, my dear M. Pantaloon, break your fast at  your
ease. I  can smell your cooking from  here,  and from the smell I argue that
there is no need to wish you a good appetite."
     "My  friend, my saviour!" Pantaloon flung  a  great arm about the young
man's shoulders. "You shall stay to breakfast with us."
     "I confess to a hope that you would ask me," said Andre-Louis.




     They were, thought Andre-Louis, as he sat  down to  breakfast with them
behind the itinerant house, in the bright sunshine  that tempered  the  cold
breath of that  November morning, an  odd and yet an attractive crew. An air
of gaiety pervaded them. They affected to have no cares, and made merry over
the trials and tribulations of their nomadic life. They were curiously,  yet
amiably, artificial;  histrionic in  their  manner  of discharging  the most
commonplace  of  functions;  exaggerated  in  their  gestures;  stilted  and
affected in their speech. They seemed, indeed, to belong to a world apart, a
world of unreality  which became real  only on the planks of their stage, in
the glare of  their footlights. Good-fellowship bound them  one to  another;
and Andre-Louis reflected cynically that this harmony amongst them might  be
the cause  of their  apparent unreality.  In the real world, greedy striving
and  the  emulation of  acquisitiveness  preclude such  amity as was present
here.
     They  numbered  exactly  eleven,  three women and  eight men; and  they
addressed each other by their stage names: names which denoted their several
types, and never - or only very slightly - varied,  no matter what  might be
the play that they performed.
     "We are,"  Pantaloon informed him, "one of those few  remaining staunch
bands of real players, who uphold the traditions of the old Italian Commedia
dell'  Arte.  Not for  us to vex our memories and stultify our wit  with the
stilted phrases that are the fruit of a wretched author's lucubrations. Each
of us is in  detail his own author in  a  measure  as he develops  the  part
assigned to him.  We  are  improvisers - improvisers  of  the old and  noble
Italian school."
     "I had guessed  as  much,"  said  Andre-Louis, "when I  discovered  you
rehearsing your improvisations."
     Pantaloon frowned.
     "I  have observed, young sir, that your humour inclines to the pungent,
not to  say  the acrid.  It is very well. It is I suppose,  the  humour that
should go  with such a countenance. But it may lead you astray, as  in  this
instance.  That rehearsal - a most unusual  thing with us - was necessitated
by the histrionic rawness of  our Leandre. We  are seeking to inculcate into
him by training an art with which Nature neglected  to endow him against his
present  needs.  Should  he  continue  to  fail  in  doing  justice  to  our
schooling... But we will not disturb our present harmony with the unpleasant
anticipation  of misfortunes which  we  still  hope  to avert.  We love  our
Leandre, for all his faults. Let me make you acquainted with our company.
     And he proceeded to introduction in detail. He pointed out the long and
amiable Rhodomont, whom Andre-Louis already knew.
     "His length of limb and hooked nose were his superficial qualifications
to  play roaring  captains," Pantaloon explained. "His lungs  have justified
our choice.  You should  hear him  roar. At first we  called him Spavento or
Epouvapte. But that was unworthy of so great an artist. Not since the superb
Mondor amazed the world has so thrasonical a bully been seen upon the stage.
So we conferred upon him the name of Rhodomont  that Mondor made famous; and
I  give  you my word, as  an  actor and a gentleman -  for I am a gentleman,
monsieur, or was - that he has justified us."
     His little eyes beamed in his great swollen  face as  he  turned  their
gaze upon the object of his encomium. The terrible Rhodomont, confused by so
much praise,  blushed  like  a  schoolgirl as  he met the solemn scrutiny of
Andre-Louis.
     "Then here we have Scaramouche,  whom also you  already know. Sometimes
he is  Scapin  and sometimes Coviello, but in the main Scaramouche, to which
let me tell you he is best suited - sometimes  too well suited, I think. For
he is Scaramouche not only on  the  stage, but also  in the world. He has  a
gift of sly  intrigue,  an art of setting folk by the ears, combined with an
impudent aggressiveness  upon occasion when he considers himself  safe  from
reprisals. He is  Scaramouche,  the little skirmisher, to  the  very life. I
could  say  more. But  I am by  disposition  charitable  and  loving to  all
mankind."
     "As  the  priest  said  when  he  kissed  the  serving-wench,"  snarled
Scaramouche, and went on eating.
     "His  humour,  like  your  own,  you  will  observe,  is  acrid,"  said
Pantaloon.  He  passed  on. "Then that rascal  with the  lumpy nose  and the
grinning  bucolic countenance is,  of  course, Pierrot. Could  he  be  aught
else?"
     "I could play lovers a deal better," said the rustic cherub.
     "That   is   the   delusion   proper  to   Pierrot,"   said  Pantaloon,
contemptuously. "This  heavy,  beetle-browed ruffian, who  has grown  old in
sin, and whose appetite increases with his years, is Polichinelle. Each one,
as you perceive,  is designed by Nature  for the part he plays. This nimble,
freckled  jackanapes is  Harlequin; not  your  spangled Harlequin into which
modern degeneracy  has  debased that first-born of  Momus, but  the  genuine
original zany of the  Commedia, ragged and  patched, an  impudent, cowardly,
blackguardly clown."
     "Each one of us, as you perceive," said Harlequin, mimicking the leader
of the troupe, "is designed by Nature for the part he plays."
     "Physically,  my friend, physically  only,  else we should not have  so
much trouble in teaching this beautiful Leandre to become  a lover. Then  we
have Pasquariel  here,  who is sometimes an  apothecary, sometimes a notary,
sometimes  a  lackey  - an  amiable, accommodating  fellow. He  is  also  an
excellent cook, being a child  of Italy, that land of gluttons. And finally,
you have  myself, who as the father of the  company  very  properly play  as
Pantaloon the roles  of  father.  Sometimes,  it is  true,  I  am a  deluded
husband, and sometimes an ignorant, self-sufficient doctor. But it is rarely
that I find it necessary  to call myself other than Pantaloon. For the rest,
I am the only one who has a name - a real name. It is Binet, monsieur.
     "And  now for the ladies...  First in order of seniority we have Madame
there." He waved one of  his great hands towards  a buxom, smiling blonde of
five-and-forty, who was seated on the lowest of the steps  of the travelling
house. "She is our Duegne, or Mother, or Nurse, as the case requires. She is
known quite  simply and royally  as  Madame. If she ever had  a name in  the
world, she has  long  since forgotten it,  which is perhaps as well. Then we
have  this pert jade with the tip-tilted nose and the wide mouth,  who is of
course  our  soubrette  Columbine,  and  lastly,  my  daughter  Climene,  an
amoureuse of talents not to  be matched  outside the  Comedie Francaise,  of
which she has the bad taste to aspire to become a member."
     The lovely Climene  - and lovely indeed she  was - tossed her nut-brown
curls  and  laughed  as she  looked across at Andre-Louis. Her eyes,  he had
perceived by now, were not blue, but hazel.
     "Do  not believe  him, monsieur. Here  I am queen,  and I prefer to  be
queen here rather than a slave in Paris."
     "Mademoiselle,"  said  Andre-Louis,  quite  solemnly,  "will  be  queen
wherever she condescends to reign."
     Her  only answer was a timid -  timid  and yet alluring  -  glance from
under fluttering lids. Meanwhile her father was  bawling at the comely young
man who played lovers - "You hear,  Leandre! That is  the sort of speech you
should practise."
     Leandre raised languid  eyebrows. "That?"  quoth he, and shrugged. "The
merest commonplace."
     Andre-Louis laughed approval. "M. Leandre  is of a readier wit than you
concede.  There is subtlety in  pronouncing  it a commonplace to call  Mlle.
Climene a queen.
     Some laughed, M. Binet amongst them, with good-humoured mockery.
     "You think he  has the wit to mean it thus? Bah! His subtleties are all
unconscious."
     The  conversation  becoming general, Andre-Louis  soon learnt what  yet
there  was  to  learn  of  this strolling band.  They were  on their way  to
Guichen, where they hoped to prosper at  the fair that was to open on Monday
next. They  would  make their triumphal  entry into the town  at  noon,  and
setting  up  their stage  in  the old market,  they would  give their  first
performance that same Saturday night, in a new canevas - or scenario - of M.
Binet's own, which should set the  rustics gaping. And then M. Binet fetched
a  sigh,  and  addressed  himself  to  the elderly,  swarthy,  beetle-browed
Polichinelle, who sat on his left.
     "But  we shall miss  Felicien," said he. "Indeed, I do not know what we
shall do without him."
     "Oh, we shall contrive," said Polichinelle, with his mouth full.
     "So you  always  say, whatever happens,  knowing that in  any  case the
contriving will not fall upon yourself."
     "He should not be difficult to replace," said Harlequin.
     "True, if  we were in a civilized land.  But where among the rustics of
Brittany are we to find a fellow of even his poor parts?" M. Binet turned to
Andre-Louis.  "He was our property-man,  our machinist, our stage-carpenter,
our man of affairs, and occasionally he acted."
     "The part of Figaro, I  presume,"  said  Andre-Louis, which elicited  a
laugh.
     "So you  are acquainted  with Beaumarchais!"  Binet eyed the  young man
with fresh interest.
     "He is tolerably well known, I think."
     "In Paris, to  be sure. But I had not dreamt his  fame  had reached the
wilds of Brittany."
     "But then  I was some years in Paris - at  the Lycee of Louis le Grand.
It was there I made acquaintance with his work."
     "A dangerous man," said Polichinelle, sententiously.
     "Indeed, and you are right,"  Pantaloon agreed. "Clever - I do not deny
him that,  although myself I  find little use for authors. But of a sinister
cleverness responsible for the dissemination of many of these subversive new
ideas. I think such writers should be suppressed."
     "M. de La Tour d'Azyr would probably agree with you - the gentleman who
by  the simple exertion of his  will turns this communal  land into his  own
property." And Andre-Louis drained his cup, which had been filled  with  the
poor vin gris that was the players' drink.
     It was  a  remark that might  have precipitated an argument  had it not
also reminded M. Binet  of the terms on which they were encamped there,  and
of the fact that the half-hour was more than past. In a moment he was on his
feet, leaping up  with an  agility surprising in so corpulent a man, issuing
his commands like a marshal on a field of battle.
     "Come, come, my lads! Are we to sit  guzzling here all day? Time flees,
and  there's a deal  to be done if we  are to make our entry into Guichen at
noon. Go, get you dressed. We strike camp in twenty minutes. Bestir, ladies!
To your chaise, and see that you contrive to look your  best. Soon  the eyes
of Guichen will be  upon you, and the condition of your  interior  to-morrow
will depend upon the impression made by your exterior to-day. Away! Away!"
     The implicit  obedience this  autocrat  commanded set them  in a whirl.
Baskets and  boxes were dragged forth to receive the platters and remains of
their meagre  feast.  In an instant the  ground was  cleared, and the  three
ladies  had taken  their departure to the chaise, which  was  set apart  for
their use.  The men were already  climbing  into the  house on  wheels, when
Binet turned to Andre-Louis.
     "We  part  here,  sir,"  said  he, dramatically,  "the  richer  by your
acquaintance; your debtors and your friends." He put forth his podgy hand.
     Slowly Andre-Louis took it  in his own. He had been thinking swiftly in
the last  few  moments. And remembering  the safety  he  had found  from his
pursuers in the bosom of this company, it occurred to him hat nowhere  could
he be better  hidden for the  present, until the  quest for him  should have
died down.
     "Sir," he  said, "the indebtedness is on my  side.  It is not every day
one  has  the  felicity to  sit down  with  so  illustrious and  engaging  a
company."
     Binet's little eyes peered suspiciously at the young man, in  quest  of
irony. He found nothing but candour and simple good faith.
     "I  part  from  you  reluctantly,"  Andre-Louis  continued.  "The  more
reluctantly since I do not perceive the absolute necessity for parting."
     "How?" quoth Binet, frowning, and slowly withdrawing the hand which the
other had already retained rather longer than was necessary.
     "Thus," Andre-Louis explained himself. "You may set me  down as a  sort
of knight of rueful countenance in quest of adventure, with no fixed purpose
in life at present. You will not marvel  that  what  I have seen of yourself
and  your  distinguished troupe  should  inspire  me  to  desire your better
acquaintance. On  your side you tell me that you are  in need of some one to
replace your Figaro  - your Felicien, I think  you called him. Whilst it may
be presumptuous of me to hope that I could discharge an office so varied and
so onerous... "
     "You are indulging that acrid humour  of yours again, my friend," Binet
interrupted him. "Excepting for  that," he  added, slowly, meditatively, his
little eyes screwed up, "we  might discuss this proposal that you seem to be
making."
     "Alas! we can except nothing. If you take me, you take me as I am. What
else is possible? As for this humour - such  as it is - which you decry, you
might turn it to profitable account."
     "How so?"
     "In several ways. I might, for instance, teach Leandre to make love."
     Pantaloon burst into laughter.  "You do  not  lack confidence  in  your
powers. Modesty does not afflict you."
     "Therefore I evince the first quality necessary in an actor."
     "Can you act?"
     "Upon  occasion,  I think," said  Andre-Louis,  his  thoughts upon  his
performance at Rennes and Nantes,  and wondering  when in all his histrionic
career Pantaloon's improvisations had so rent the heart of mobs.
     M. Binet was musing. "Do you know much of the theatre?" quoth he.
     "Everything," said Andre-Louis.
     "I said that modesty will prove no obstacle in your career."
     "But consider. I  know  the  work of Beaumarchais,  Eglantine, Mercier,
Chenier, and many others of our contemporaries. Then I have read, of course,
Moliere, Racine, Corneille, besides many other lesser French
     writers.  Of foreign  authors,  I am intimate  with the works of Gozzi,
Goldoni, Guarini, Bibbiena, Machiavelli, Secchi, Tasso, Ariosto, and Fedini.
Whilst  of  those  of  antiquity I  know  most of  the  work  of  Euripides,
Aristophanes, Terence, Plautus... "
     "Enough!" roared Pantaloon.
     "I am not nearly through with my list," said Andre-Louis.
     "You may keep the rest for another day. In Heaven's name, what can have
induced you to read so many dramatic authors?"
     "In my humble  way I am a student of man, and some years ago I made the
discovery that he is most intimately to be studied in the reflections of him
provided for the theatre."
     "That is a very original and profound discovery," said Pantaloon, quite
seriously. "It had never occurred to me. Yet  is it true. Sir, it is a truth
that dignifies our art. You are a man of parts, that is clear  to me. It has
been clear since first I met you.  I  can  read a man. I  knew  you from the
moment that you said 'good-morning.'  Tell me, now:  Do you  think you could
assist me  upon occasion in the preparation  of a  scenario? My  mind, fully
engaged  as it is with a thousand details  of organization, is not always as
clear as I would  have it for such work.  Could  you assist me there, do you
think?"
     "I am quite sure I could."
     "Hum,  yes.  I  was  sure you  would  be.  The other duties  that  were
Felicien's  you would  soon learn. Well, well, if you are willing,  you  may
come along with us. You'd want some salary, I suppose?"
     "If it is usual," said Andre-Louis.
     "What should you say to ten livres a month?"
     "I should say that it isn't exactly the riches of Peru."
     "I might go as far as fifteen," said Binet, reluctantly. "But times are
bad."
     "I'll make them better for you."
     "I've no doubt you believe it. Then we understand each other?"
     "Perfectly," said Andre-Louis, dryly,  and  was thus committed  to  the
service of Thespis.




     The  company's  entrance into the township of Guichen,  if not  exactly
triumphal, as Binet had expressed the desire that it should be, was at least
sufficiently startling  and  cacophonous to  set the rustics gaping. To them
these fantastic  creatures appeared - as indeed  they  were  -  beings  from
another world.
     First went  the great travelling  chaise, creaking and  groaning on its
way, drawn by two of the Flemish horses. It  was Pantaloon  who drove it, an
obese and massive  Pantaloon in a tight-fitting suit of scarlet under a long
brown bed-gown, his countenance adorned by a colossal cardboard nose. Beside
him on the  box sat Pierrot  in a white smock, with sleeves  that completely
covered  his hands,  loose  white trousers,  and a black  skull-cap. He  had
whitened his face with flour, and he made hideous noises with a trumpet.
     On the  roof  of the  coach  were assembled  Polichinelle, Scaramouche,
Harlequin, and Pasquariel. Polichinelle in black and white,  his doublet cut
in the fashion of a century ago, with humps before and behind, a white frill
round  his neck and a black mask upon the  upper half of his face,  stood in
the middle, his feet planted  wide to  steady  him, solemnly  and  viciously
banging a big  drum. The other three were seated each at  one of the corners
of  the roof, their legs dangling over.  Scaramouche,  all in black  in  the
Spanish fashion of the seventeenth century, his face adorned with  a pair of
mostachios, jangled a  guitar discordantly. Harlequin, ragged and patched in
every colour of the rainbow, with his leather girdle and sword of lath,  the
upper  half of  his  face  smeared  in  soot,  clashed  a  pair  of  cymbals
intermittently. Pasquariel,  as an apothecary  in skull-cap and white apron,
excited the hilarity of the onlookers  by  his  enormous  tin clyster, which
emitted when pumped a dolorous squeak.
     Within the chaise itself, but showing themselves freely at the windows,
and  exchanging  quips  with the townsfolk,  sat the  three  ladies  of  the
company. Climene, the  amoureuse, beautifully gowned in  flowered satin, her
own clustering ringlets concealed under a pumpkin-shaped wig, looked so much
the lady of fashion  that you might have wondered what she  was dong in that
fantastic  rabble.  Madame,  as the mother, was also dressed with splendour,
but exaggerated  to  achieve  the ridiculous. Her headdress was  a monstrous
structure  adorned with flowers, and  superimposed by little ostrich plumes.
Columbine sat facing  them, her  back  to  the horses,  falsely  demure,  in
milkmaid bonnet of white muslin, and a striped gown of green and blue.
     The marvel was that the old chaise, which in its halcyon days  may have
served to carry some dignitary  of the Church,  did not  founder instead  of
merely groaning under that excessive and ribald load.
     Next came the house on wheels, led by the long, lean Rhodomont, who had
daubed his face red, and increased the terror of it by a  pair of formidable
mostachios.  He  was  in long  thigh-boots and  leather jerkin,  trailing an
enormous sword from  a  crimson baldrick. He wore a  broad felt hat  with  a
draggled  feather,  and  as he advanced he raised his great voice and roared
out  defiance,  and  threats of blood-curdling butchery to be performed upon
all  and  sundry. On  the roof of this  vehicle sat Leandre alone. He was in
blue satin, with ruffles, small sword, powdered hair, patches and spy-glass,
and red-heeled shoes:  the  complete  courtier,  looking very handsome.  The
women of  Guichen  ogled him coquettishly. He  took the  ogling as  a proper
tribute to his  personal  endowments,  and returned  it with interest.  Like
Climene, he looked out of place amid the bandits  who composed the remainder
of the company.
     Bringing  up the  rear  came Andre-Louis leading  the two donkeys  that
dragged the property-cart.  He  had insisted  upon  assuming a  false  nose,
representing as for  embellishment that which he intended for  disguise. For
the rest, he had retained his own garments. No one paid any attention to him
as he trudged along beside  his donkeys,  an insignificant rear guard, which
he was well content to be.
     They made the tour of the town, in which the activity was already above
the normal in  preparation  for next  week's fair. At intervals they halted,
the cacophony would cease abruptly, and  Polichinelle  would  announce  in a
stentorian voice that  at five o'clock that evening in  the  old  market, M.
Binet's famous company of  improvisers  would perform  a new comedy  in four
acts entitled, "The Heartless Father."
     Thus at last they came to the old market, which was the  groundfloor of
the town hall, and open to the  four  winds by  two archways on each side of
its length,  and one archway  on  each side of its breadth. These  archways,
with  two  exceptions,  had  been boarded up. Through  those two, which gave
admission to  what presently would be  the theatre,  the ragamuffins of  the
town,  and the niggards who  were reluctant to  spend  the necessary sous to
obtain proper admission, might catch furtive glimpses of the performance.
     That  afternoon   was  the   most  strenuous   of   Andre-Louis'  life,
unaccustomed as he  was to any  sort  of  manual  labour.  It  was spent  in
erecting and preparing the stage at one end of the market-hall; and he began
to realize  how hard-earned were to be his monthly fifteen livres.  At first
there  were four of them to the task - or really three, for Pantaloon did no
more than bawl  directions. Stripped of  their finery, Rhodomont and Leandre
assisted Andre-Louis in that carpentering. Meanwhile the other  four were at
dinner with the  ladies. When a half-hour or so later  they came to carry on
the work, Andre-Louis and his companions went to dine in their turn, leaving
Polichinelle to direct the operations as well as assist in them.
     They crossed the square to the cheap little inn where they had taken up
their quarters. In the  narrow passage Andre-Louis  came face to  face  with
Climene,  her  fine feathers  cast,  and  restored  by  now  to  her  normal
appearance
     "And how do you like it?" she asked him, pertly.
     He looked  her in the eyes. "It has  its compensations,"  quoth he,  in
that curious  cold tone of his that left one wondering  whether he  meant or
not what he seemed to mean.
     She  knit  her  brows.  "You...  you  feel  the need  of  compensations
already?"
     "Faith, I felt it from the beginning," said he. "It was  the perception
of them allured me."
     They were  quite  alone, the others having gone  on  into the room  set
apart for  them, where food was spread. Andre-Louis, who was as unlearned in
Woman  as he was learned  in Man,  was  not  to  know, upon  feeling himself
suddenly  extraordinarily  aware  of her  femininity, that it was she who in
some subtle, imperceptible manner so rendered him.
     "What,"   she   asked  him,   with   demurest  innocence,   "are  these
compensations?"
     He caught himself upon the brink of the abyss.
     "Fifteen livres a month," said he, abruptly.
     A moment she stared at him bewildered. He was very  disconcerting. Then
she recovered.
     "Oh, and  bed  and board,"  said she.  "Don't be leaving  that from the
reckoning,  as you  seem to be doing; for  your  dinner will  be going cold.
Aren't you coming?"
     "Haven't you dined?" he cried, and  she wondered had she  caught a note
of eagerness.
     "No," she answered, over her shoulder. "I waited."
     "What for?" quoth his innocence, hopefully.
     "I had  to  change,  of  course, zany,"  she answered,  rudely.  Having
dragged  him, as she imagined, to the chopping-block, she could not  refrain
from chopping. But then he was of those who must be chopping back.
     "And you  left  your manners upstairs  with  your  grand-lady  clothes,
mademoiselle. I understand."
     A  scarlet flame  suffused her face. "You are very insolent," she said,
lamely.
     "I've often been told so. But I  don't believe it."  He thrust open the
door for her, and bowing with an air which imposed upon her, although it was
merely  copied from Fleury of the Comedie Francaise, so often visited in the
Louis  le  Grand days,  he  waved her in.  "After you,  ma  demoiselle." For
greater  emphasis he deliberately broke  the  word  into  its two  component
parts.
     "I  thank you,  monsieur," she  answered, frostily, as near sneering as
was  possible  to so charming a person, and went in, nor addressed him again
throughout  the  meal.  Instead,  she  devoted  herself with an  unusual and
devastating  assiduity to the  suspiring Leandre, that  poor devil who could
not successfully play the lover with her on the stage because of his longing
to play it in reality.
     Andre-Louis ate  his  herrings and black  bread  with  a  good appetite
nevertheless. It  was  poor fare, but then poor fare  was the  common lot of
poor people  in  that winter  of  starvation, and since he had cast  in  his
fortunes with a company whose  affairs  were not flourishing, he must accept
the evils of the situation philosophically.
     "Have you  a name?"  Binet asked him once in the course of that  repast
and during a pause in the conversation.
     "It happens that I have," said he. "I think it is Parvissimus.
     "Parvissimus?" quoth Binet. "Is that a family name?"
     "In  such a company, where  only the leader enjoys  the privilege of  a
family name, the like would  be unbecoming its least  member. So I  take the
name that best becomes in me. And I think it is Parvissimus
     - the very least."
     Binet  was amused. It  was  droll; it showed a  ready fancy. Oh,  to be
sure, they must get to work together on those scenarios.
     "I shall prefer it to carpentering,"  said Andre-Louis. Nevertheless he
had to  go  back to it that afternoon,  and to labour strenuously until four
o'clock, when at last the autocratic Binet announced himself satisfied  with
the  preparations,  and proceeded, again  with the help  of Andre-Louis,  to
prepare the lights, which were supplied partly by tallow  candles and partly
by lamps burning fish-oil.
     At  five o'clock that evening  the three knocks  were  sounded, and the
curtain rose on "The Heartless Father."
     Among the  duties inherited  by Andre-Louis from  the departed Felicien
whom he replaced, was that of doorkeeper. This duty he discharged dressed in
a Polichinelle costume, and wearing a pasteboard nose. It was an arrangement
mutually  agreeable to M. Binet  and himself. M. Binet - who  had  taken the
further  precaution of  retaining Andre-Louis' own garments  -  was  thereby
protected  against the  risk  of his  latest  recruit  absconding  with  the
takings.  Andre-Louis, without  illusions  on  the score of Pantaloon's real
object, agreed  to it  willingly enough,  since it protected  him  from  the
chance of recognition by any acquaintance who might possibly be in Guichen.
     The performance was  in every sense unexciting; the audience meagre and
unenthusiastic.  The  benches  provided  in  the  front  half  of the market
contained some  twenty-seven  persons:  eleven  at twenty  sous  a  head and
sixteen at twelve. Behind these stood a rabble of some thirty others  at six
sous  apiece.  Thus the  gross takings  were two louis, ten livres, and  two
sous. By the time M. Binet had  paid for the use of the  market, his lights,
and the expenses of his company at the inn over Sunday, there was not likely
to be very much left towards the wages of his players. It is not surprising,
therefore, that M.  Binet's bonhomie should have been a trifle overcast that
evening.
     "And  what  do  you think of it?"  he asked Andre-Louis,  as  they were
walking back to the inn after the performance.
     "Possibly it could have been worse; probably it could not," said he.
     In sheer amazement M. Binet  checked in his stride, and  turned to look
at his companion.
     "Huh!" said he. "Dieu de Dien! But you are frank."
     "An unpopular form of service among fools, I know."
     "Well, I am not a fool," said Binet.
     "That  is  why  I  am  frank.  I  pay  you the  compliment of  assuming
intelligence in you, M. Binet."
     "Oh, you  do?"  quoth  M. Binet. "And who the devil  are you to  assume
anything? Your assumptions are presumptuous, sir." And  with that he  lapsed
into silence and the gloomy business of mentally casting up his accounts.
     But at table over supper a half-hour later he revived the topic.
     "Our latest recruit, this excellent M. Parvissimus," he announced, "has
the impudence to tell me that possibly our comedy could have been worse, but
that probably  it  could  not."  And  he blew out his great  round cheeks to
invite a laugh at the expense of that foolish critic.
     "That's bad,"  said the swarthy and sardonic Polichinelle. He was grave
as Rhadamanthus pronouncing  judgment. "That's  bad. But what is  infinitely
worse is that the audience had the impudence to be of the same mind."
     "An  ignorant pack of  clods,"  sneered Leandre,  with  a toss  of  his
handsome head.
     "You are wrong," quoth Harlequin. "You were born for love, my dear, not
criticism."
     Leandre  -  a   dull   dog,  as  you   will  have  conceived  -  looked
contemptuously down  upon the little man. "And you, what were you born for?"
he wondered.
     "Nobody knows," was the candid  admission. "Nor yet why. It is the case
of many of us, my dear, believe me."
     "But why" - M. Binet took him  up,  and thus spoilt the beginnings of a
very pretty quarrel - "why do you say that Leandre is wrong?"
     "To be general, because he is always wrong. To be particular, because I
judge  the  audience of  Guichen to be too sophisticated for  'The Heartless
Father.'"
     "You  would put it more happily," interposed Andre-Louis - who  was the
cause of  this discussion - "if you said that 'The Heartless Father'  is too
unsophisticated for the audience of Guichen."
     "Why, what's the difference?" asked Leandre.
     "I didn't imply a difference. I merely suggested that it is  a  happier
way to express the fact."
     "The gentleman is being subtle," sneered Binet.
     "Why happier?" Harlequin demanded.
     "Because  it  is  easier  to   bring  'The  Heartless  Father'  to  the
sophistication  of the  Guichen  audience, than the Guichen audience to  the
unsophistication of 'The Heartless Father.'"
     "Let  me think it out,"  groaned Polichinelle, and  he took his head in
his hands.
     But from the tail  of the  table Andre-Louis  was challenged by Climene
who sat there between Columbine and Madame.
     "You would alter the comedy, would you, M. Parvissimus?" she cried.
     He turned to parry her malice.
     "I would suggest that it be altered," he corrected, inclining his head.
     "And how would you alter it, monsieur?"
     "I? Oh, for the better."
     "But of course!" She was sleekest sarcasm. "And how would you do it?"
     "Aye, tell us that," roared M. Binet, and added:  "Silence, I pray you,
gentlemen and ladies. Silence for M. Parvissimus."
     Andre-Louis looked from father to  daughter, and smiled.  "Pardi!" said
he. "I am between bludgeon and dagger. If I escape  with my life, I shall be
fortunate. Why,  then, since you pin me to the very wall, I'll tell you what
I should do. I  should go  back to the original and help myself more  freely
from it."
     "The original?" questioned M. Binet - the author.
     "It  is called, I believe, 'Monsieur de  Pourceaugnac,' and was written
by Moliere."
     Somebody tittered, but that  somebody  was  not M.  Binet. He had  been
touched on  the raw, and the look in his little eyes betrayed the fact  that
his bonhomme exterior covered anything but a bonhomme.
     "You charge me with plagiarism,"  he  said at last;  "with filching the
ideas of Moliere."
     "There  is  always,  of  course,"  said  Andre-Louis,  unruffled,  "the
alternative possibility of two great minds working upon parallel lines."
     M. Binet studied the young man attentively a moment. He found him bland
and inscrutable, and decided to pin him down.
     "Then you do not imply that I have been stealing from Moliere?"
     "I advise you to do so, monsieur," was the disconcerting reply.
     M. Binet was shocked.
     "You  advise  me  to do  so!  You advise me, me, Antoine Binet, to turn
thief at my age!"
     "He is outrageous," said mademoiselle, indignantly.
     "Outrageous is  the word.  I thank  you for it, my dear. I take you  on
trust, sir. You sit at my  table, you have the  honour to  be included in my
company, and to my face you have the audacity to advise me to become a thief
- the worst kind of thief that is conceivable, a thief of  spiritual things,
a  thief of ideas!  It is insufferable,  intolerable! I  have been,  I fear,
deeply mistaken in you,  monsieur; just as you  appear to have been mistaken
in me. I am not the scoundrel you suppose  me, sir, and I will not number in
my company a man who dares to suggest that I should become one. Outrageous!"
     He was very angry. His voice  boomed through the  little room,  and the
company sat hushed and something scared, their  eyes  upon  Andre-Louis, who
was the only one entirely unmoved by this outburst of virtuous indignation.
     "You realize, monsieur," he said, very quietly, "that you are insulting
the memory of the illustrious dead?"
     "Eh?" said Binet.
     Andre-Louis developed his sophistries.
     "You insult the  memory of Moliere, the greatest ornament of our stage,
one of the greatest ornaments of our nation, when you suggest that there  is
vileness in doing that which he never hesitated to do, which no great author
yet  has  hesitated  to  do.  You cannot  suppose that Moliere ever troubled
himself to be original in the matter of ideas. You  cannot suppose  that the
stories he tells in his plays have never been told before. They were culled,
as you very well  know - though you seem momentarily to  have  forgotten it,
and  it is therefore necessary that I should  remind you - they were culled,
many of  them,  from the Italian  authors, who  themselves  had  culled them
Heaven alone knows where. Moliere took those old stories  and retold them in
his own language. That is precisely what I am suggesting that you should do.
Your company is a company of improvisers.  You  supply  the  dialogue as you
proceed,  which is rather  more than Moliere ever attempted. You may, if you
prefer it
     - though it would seem to me to be yielding to an excess of scruple
     - go straight to  Boccaccio  or Sacchetti.  But even then you cannot be
sure that you have reached the sources."
     Andre-Louis  came off with flying  colours  after that. You see what  a
debater was lost in him; how nimble he was in  the art of making white  look
black. The company was impressed, and  no one more that M. Binet, who  found
himself supplied with a crushing argument against those who  in future might
tax  him with the impudent plagiarisms which he undoubtedly perpetrated.  He
retired in the best order he could from the position he had taken  up at the
outset.
     "So  that  you think," he  said, at the  end  of  a  long  outburst  of
agreement, "you think  that  our  story  of 'The Heartless Father'  could be
enriched by dipping into 'Monsieur de Pourceaugnac,' to which I confess upon
reflection that it may present certain superficial resemblances?"
     "I  do;  most  certainly  I  do  -  always  provided  that  you  do  so
judiciously. Times have changed since Moliere." It was as a  consequence  of
this  that Binet  retired soon after, taking  Andre-Louis with him. The pair
sat together late that night, and  were again in close communion  throughout
the whole of Sunday morning.
     After  dinner M. Binet read to  the  assembled company the amended  and
amplified  canevas  of "The Heartless Father," which, acting upon the advice
of M. Parvissimus, he had been at great pains to prepare.  The  company  had
few doubts as to the real authorship  before  he began to read; none  at all
when he had read. There was a verve, a grip about this story; and, what  was
more,  those  of  them  who  knew  their  Moliere  realized  that  far  from
approaching the original more closely,  this  canevas had drawn farther away
from  it.  Moliere's original part -  the  title role  -  had  dwindled into
insignificance, to the great disgust  of  Polichinelle, to whom it fell. But
the other parts had all been built up into importance, with the exception of
Leandre, who  remained as before. The two great roles were now  Scaramouche,
in the character  of the  intriguing Sbrigandini, and  Pantaloon the father.
There was, too,  a comical part for Rhodomont, as the roaring bully hired by
Polichinelle to cut  Leandre into ribbons. And in view of the importance now
of Scaramouche, the play had been rechristened "Figaro-Scaramouche."
     This last had not been without a deal of opposition  from M. Binet. But
his relentless collaborator, who was in reality the real author
     - drawing shamelessly, but practically at last upon his great  store of
reading - had overborne him.
     "You must move with the times, monsieur. In Paris  Beaumarchais is  the
rage. 'Figaro' is known  to-day throughout the world. Let us borrow a little
of  his  glory. It will  draw the  people in. They  will come to  see half a
'Figaro'  when  they  will  not come  to see  a  dozen  'Heartless Fathers.'
Therefore let us cast the mantle of Figaro upon some one, and proclaim it in
our title."
     "But as I am the head of the company... " began M. Binet, weakly.
     "If you will be blind to your interests, you  will presently be  a head
without a  body. And what use is that?  Can the shoulders of Pantaloon carry
the mantle of Figaro? You laugh. Of course you  laugh. The notion is absurd.
The proper person for the mantle of Figaro is  Scaramouche, who is naturally
Figaro's twin-brother."
     Thus tyrannized, the tyrant Binet gave way, comforted by the reflection
that  if he understood anything at all about the theatre, he had for fifteen
livres a month acquired  something  that would presently  be earning  him as
many louis.
     The company's reception of the canevas now  confirmed him, if we except
Polichinelle, who, annoyed at having lost half his part in  the alterations,
declared the new scenario fatuous.
     "Ah! You call my work fatuous, do you?" M. Binet hectored him.
     "Your work?" said Polichinelle, to  add  with his tongue in  his cheek:
"Ah, pardon. I had not realized that you were the author."
     "Then realize it now."
     "You were  very close with M. Parvissimus over  this  authorship," said
Polichinelle, with impudent suggestiveness.
     "And what if I was? What do you imply?"
     "That you took him to cut quills for you, of course."
     "I'll  cut  your  ears  for  you  if  you're  not  civil," stormed  the
infuriated Binet.
     Polichinelle got up slowly, and stretched himself.
     "Dieu de  Dieu!" said he.  "If  Pantaloon is to play Rhodomont, I think
I'll leave you. He is not amusing in the part." And he swaggered  out before
M. Binet had recovered from his speechlessness.



     Ar   four   o'clock   on   Monday  afternoon   the   curtain  rose   on
"Figaro-Scaramouche"  to  an  audience that filled  three  quarters  of  the
market-hall.  M.  Binet attributed this good  attendance  to  the influx  of
people to Guichen for the fair, and to the magnificent parade of his company
through  the  streets  of the  township  at  the  busiest time  of  the day.
Andre-Louis attributed it  entirely to the title. It  was the "Figaro" touch
that  had fetched in  the better-class bourgeoisie, which  filled  more than
half of the twenty-sous places and three quarters of  the twelve-sous seats.
The lure had drawn them. Whether it was  to continue to do  so  would depend
upon the manner in which the canevas over which he had laboured to the glory
of Binet was interpreted by the company. Of the merits of the canevas itself
he had no doubt.  The authors upon whom  he had drawn for the elements of it
were sound, and he had taken of their best, which he  claimed to  be no more
than the justice due to them.
     The company excelled itself. The audience followed with relish the  sly
intriguings  of  Scaramouche, delighted  in  the  beauty  and  freshness  of
Climene, was moved almost to tears by the hard fate which through four  long
acts kept  her from the hungering  arms of the  so beautiful Leandre, howled
its  delight  over  the  ignominy  of  Pantaloon, the  buffooneries  of  his
sprightly  lackey  Harlequin,  and  the  thrasonical   strut  and  bellowing
fierceness of the cowardly Rhodomont.
     The success  of the Binet troupe in Guichen was assured. That night the
company drank Burgundy at M. Binet's expense. The takings reached the sum of
eight louis, which was as good business as M. Binet had ever done in all his
career. He  was  very pleased.  Gratification rose like steam  from his  fat
body. He even condescended so far  as to attribute a share of the credit for
the success to M. Parvissimus.
     "His suggestion," he was careful to say, by way of  properly delimiting
that share, "was most valuable, as I perceived at the time."
     "And his  cutting of quills," growled Polichinelle. "Don't forget that.
It  is most  important  to  have by you  a man who understands how to  cut a
quill, as I shall remember when I turn author."
     But  not  even  that gibe could stir  M. Binet out  of  his lethargy of
content.
     On  Tuesday  the  success  was  repeated   artistically  and  augmented
financially.  Ten  louis  and  seven   livres  was  the  enormous  sum  that
Andre-Louis, the doorkeeper, counted over to M. Binet after the performance.
Never yet  had M. Binet made so  much money in one evening - and a miserable
little  village like Guichen was certainly  the last place in which he would
have expected this windfall.
     "Ah, but Guichen in time of fair," Andre-Louis reminded him. "There are
people  here  from as far as Nantes  and  Rennes to buy and sell. To-morrow,
being the last day  of the fair, the crowds  will  be greater than ever.  We
should better this evening's receipts."
     "Better them? I shall be quite satisfied if we do as well, my friend."
     "You  can  depend upon that," Andre-Louis assured him.  "Are we to have
Burgundy?"
     And  then the tragedy occurred. It announced itself  in a succession of
bumps and thuds, culminating in  a  crash outside the door that brought them
all to their feet in alarm.
     Pierrot sprang to open, and  beheld the tumbled body of a man  lying at
the foot  of the stairs. It emitted groans, therefore it was  alive. Pierrot
went forward  to turn it over, and disclosed the fact that the body wore the
wizened face of Scaramouche, a grimacing, groaning, twitching Scaramouche.
     The  whole  company,  pressing   after  Pierrot,  abandoned  itself  to
laughter.
     "I  always  said you  should change parts  with  me,"  cried Harlequin.
"You're such an excellent tumbler. Have you been practising?"
     "Fool!" Scaramouche snapped.  "Must you be  laughing when I've  all but
broken my neck?"
     "You are  right. We ought  to be  weeping because you didn't  break it.
Come, man, get up," and he held out a hand to the prostrate rogue.
     Scaramouche took the hand, clutched it, heaved himself from the ground,
then with a scream dropped back again.
     "My foot!" he complained.
     Binet rolled through the group of players, scattering them to right and
left.  Apprehension had  been quick to seize  him. Fate had played him  such
tricks before.
     "What ails your foot?" quoth he, sourly.
     "It's broken, I think," Scaramouche complained.
     "Broken? Bah!  Get up, man." He caught him under the armpits and hauled
him up.
     Scaramouche came howling to one foot; the other doubled under him  when
he attempted to set it down, and he must have collapsed again but that Binet
supported  him. He  filled the  place with  his plaint,  whilst  Binet swore
amazingly and variedly.
     "Must you bellow like a calf, you fool?  Be quiet. A  chair here,  some
one."
     A chair was thrust forward. He crushed Scaramouche down into it.
     "Let us look at this foot of yours."
     Heedless  of  Scaramouche's  howls  of pain,  he swept  away  shoe  and
stocking.
     "What ails it?" he asked, staring. "Nothing that I can see." He  seized
it, heel  in one  hand, instep in  the other,  and gyrated  it.  Scaramouche
screamed in agony, until Climene caught Binet's arm and made him stop.
     "My God,  have  you no feelings?" she reproved her father. "The lad has
hurt his foot. Must you torture him? Will that cure it?"
     "Hurt his  foot!"  said  Binet.  "I can see nothing the matter with his
foot - nothing to justify all this uproar. He has bruised it, maybe... "
     "A man with a bruised  foot doesn't scream like that," said Madame over
Climene's shoulder. "Perhaps he has dislocated it."
     "That is what I fear," whimpered Scaramouche.
     Binet heaved himself up in disgust.
     "Take him to bed," he bade them, "and fetch a doctor to see him."
     It was done, and the doctor came. Having seen the patient, he  reported
that nothing very serious had happened, but that in falling he had evidently
sprained his foot a little. A few days' rest and all would be well.
     "A few  days!" cried  Binet. "God of  God!  Do  you mean that he  can't
walk?"
     "It would be unwise, indeed impossible for more than a few steps."
     M.  Binet paid  the doctor's  fee,  and  sat down  to  think. He filled
himself  a  glass  of  Burgundy,  tossed  it  off without  a  word,  and sat
thereafter staring into the empty glass.
     "It is  of course the sort of thing that  must  always be  happening to
me,"  he grumbled to no one in particular. The  members of  the company were
all standing in silence before him, sharing his  dismay. "I might have known
that  this - or something like it - would  occur to  spoil the first vein of
luck that I have found in years. Ah, well, it is finished. To-morrow we pack
and  depart.  The  best  day  of  the fair, on  the crest of the wave of our
success - a good fifteen louis to be taken, and this happens! God of God!"
     "Do you mean to abandon to-morrow's performance?"
     All turned to stare with Binet at Andre-Louis.
     "Are we to play 'Figaro-Scaramouche' without Scaramouche?" asked Binet,
sneering.
     "Of  course  not."   Andre-Louis   came  forward.   "But  surely   some
rearrangement of the parts is possible. For instance, there is a fine  actor
in Polichinelle."
     Polichinelle swept him a bow. "Overwhelmed," said he, ever sardonic.
     "But he has a part of his own," objected Binet.
     "A small part, which Pasquariel could play."
     "And who will play Pasquariel?"
     "Nobody. We delete it. The play need not suffer."
     "He thinks of everything," sneered Polichinelle. "What a man!"
     But Binet was far from agreement. "Are you suggesting that Polichinelle
should play Scaramouche?" he asked, incredulously.
     "Why not? He is able enough!"
     "Overwhelmed again," interjected Polichinelle.
     "Play Scaramouche with that figure?" Binet heaved himself up to point a
denunciatory finger at Polichinelle's sturdy, thick-set shortness.
     "For lack of a better," said Andre-Louis.
     "Overwhelmed more than ever." Polichinelle's bow was superb  this time.
"Faith, I think I'll take the air to cool me after so much blushing."
     "Go to the devil," Binet flung at him.
     "Better  and better." Polichinelle made for the  door. On the threshold
he halted  and struck an attitude. "Understand me,  Binet. I do not now play
Scaramouche in any circumstances whatever." And he  went out.  On the whole,
it was a very dignified exit.
     Andre-Louis  shrugged, threw out his  arms, and  let them  fall to  his
sides  again. "You  have ruined everything,"  he  told M. Binet. "The matter
could easily have been arranged.  Well, well, it is you are master here; and
since you want us to pack and be off, that is what we will do, I suppose."
     He went out,  too.  M. Binet  stood in thought a  moment, then followed
him, his little eyes very  cunning. He caught him up in the doorway. "Let us
take a walk together, M. Parvissimus," said he, very affably.
     He  thrust his arm  through  Andre-Louis',  and  led  him  out into the
street, where  there was still considerable movement. Past the  booths  that
ranged  about the market they went, and down the hill towards the bridge. "I
don't think we shall pack to-morrow," said M. Binet, presently. "In fact, we
shall play to-morrow night."
     "Not if I know Polichinelle. You have... "
     "I am not thinking of Polichinelle."
     "Of whom, then?"
     "Of yourself."
     "I  am  flattered, sir. And  in what capacity  are you thinking of me?"
There was something  too sleek  and  oily  in Binet's voice for Andre-Louis'
taste.
     "I am thinking of you in the part of Scaramouche."
     "Day-dreams," said Andre-Louis. "You are amusing yourself, of course."
     "Not in the least. I am quite serious."
     "But I am not an actor."
     "You told me that you could be."
     "Oh, upon occasion... a small part, perhaps... "
     "Well, here  is a  big part  - the chance to arrive at a single stride.
How many men have had such a chance?"
     "It is a chance I do not covet, M. Binet. Shall we change the subject?"
He was very frosty, as much perhaps because he scented in M.  Binet's manner
something that was vaguely menacing as for any other reason.
     "We'll change the  subject when  I please,"  said M.  Binet, allowing a
glimpse of  steel to glimmer  through the silk of him. "To-morrow night  you
play Scaramouche. You are ready enough  in your  wits, your figure is ideal,
and  you have just the kind of mordant humour for the part. You should  be a
great success."
     "It is much more likely that I should be an egregious failure."
     "That won't matter," said Binet, cynically, and explained himself. "The
failure will be personal to yourself. The receipts will be safe by then."
     "Much obliged," said Andre-Louis.
     "We should take fifteen louis to-morrow night."
     "It  is  unfortunate   that  you  are   without  a  Scaramouche,"  said
Andre-Louis.
     "It  is  fortunate  that  I  have  one,  M.  Parvissimus."  Andre-Louis
disengaged his arm. "I begin to find you tiresome," said he. "I think I will
return."
     "A moment, M. Parvissimus. If I am to lose that fifteen louis...
     you'll not take it amiss that I compensate myself in other ways?"
     "That is your own concern, M. Binet."
     "Pardon, M. Parvissimus. It may possibly be also yours." Binet took his
arm again.  "Do me  the kindness to step  across the street with me. Just as
far as the post-office there. I have something to show you."
     Andre-Louis went. Before they reached that  sheet  of paper nailed upon
the door, he knew exactly what it would say. And in effect it was, as he had
supposed,  that twenty  louis would be  paid for information  leading to the
apprehension of one  Andre-Louis Moreau, lawyer of Gavrillac, who was wanted
by the King's Lieutenant in Rennes upon a charge of sedition.
     M.  Binet watched  him  whilst  he  read.  Their arms were linked,  and
Binet's grip was firm and powerful.
     "Now,  my friend,"  said  he,  "will  you be M.  Parvissimus  and  play
Scaramouche to-morrow, or will you be Andre-Louis Moreau of Gavrillac and go
to Rennes to satisfy the King's Lieutenant?"
     "And if it should happen that you are mistaken?" quoth Andre-Louis, his
face a mask.
     "I'll take the risk of that," leered M. Binet. "You mentioned, I think,
that you  were a lawyer. An indiscretion, my dear. It  is  unlikely that two
lawyers  will be in hiding at the same time in the same district. You see it
is  not  really clever  of  me.  Well,  M.  Andre-Louis  Moreau,  lawyer  of
Gavrillac, what is it to be?"
     "We will talk it over as we walk back," said Andre-Louis.
     "What is there to talk over?"
     "One or  two things, I think. I must know where I stand.  Come, sir, if
you please."
     "Very well," said M. Binet, and they turned up the street again, but M.
Binet maintained a firm hold of his young friend's  arm, and kept himself on
the alert for any tricks that the young gentleman might be disposed to play.
It was an unnecessary  precaution. Andre-Louis was not the man to  waste his
energy futilely. He knew that in  bodily strength he was no match at all for
the heavy and powerful Pantaloon.
     "If I yield to your most eloquent and seductive persuasions, M. Binet,"
said  he, sweetly,  "what guarantee do you give me that you will not sell me
for twenty louis after I shall have served your turn?"
     "You have my word of honour for that." M. Binet was emphatic.
     Andre-Louis  laughed. "Oh, we are to talk of honour, are we? Really, M.
Binet? It is clear you think me a fool."
     In the  dark  he  did not see the flush  that leapt to M. Binet's round
face. It was some moments before he replied.
     "Perhaps you are right," he growled. "What guarantee do you want?"
     "I do not know what guarantee you can possibly give."
     "I have said that I will keep faith with you."
     "Until you find it more profitable to sell me."
     "You have it in your power to make it more profitable always  for me to
keep faith with you. It  is due to you that we have done so well in Guichen.
Oh, I admit it frankly."
     "In private," said Andre-Louis.
     M. Binet left the sarcasm unheeded.
     "What  you have done for us here with 'Figaro-Scaramouche,' you  can do
elsewhere  with other things. Naturally, I  shall not want to lose you. That
is your guarantee."
     "Yet to-night you would sell me for twenty louis."
     "Because - name of God! - you enrage me by refusing me  a service  well
within your powers. Don't you think, had I been entirely the rogue you think
me, I could have sold you  on Saturday last? I want you to understand me, my
dear Parvissimus."
     "I beg that  you'll  not apologize. You  would  be  more  tiresome than
ever."
     "Of course you will  be gibing. You never miss  a chance to gibe. It'll
bring you  trouble before you're done with life.  Come;  here we are back at
the inn, and you have not yet given me your decision."
     Andre-Louis  looked at  him.  "I  must yield,  of course. I  can't help
myself."
     M.  Binet released his arm  at last, and slapped him heartily upon  the
back. "Well declared, my lad. You'll never  regret it. If I know anything of
the  theatre,  I know that you have made the great  decision  of  your life.
To-morrow night you'll thank me."
     Andre-Louis  shrugged,  and stepped out ahead  towards the inn.  But M.
Binet called him back.
     "M. Parvissimus!"
     He turned. There stood the man's great bulk, the moonlight beating down
upon that round fat face of his, and he was holding out his hand.
     "M. Parvissimus, no rancour. It is a thing I do not admit into my life.
You will shake hands with me, and we will forget all this."
     Andre-Louis considered him a moment with disgust. He was growing angry.
Then, realizing this, he conceived himself ridiculous, almost  as ridiculous
as that  sly, scoundrelly Pantaloon. He laughed  and took  the  outstretched
hand. "No rancour?" M. Binet insisted.
     "Oh, no rancour," said Andre-Louis.




     Dressed in the close-fitting suit of a bygone age, all black, from flat
velvet cap  to  rosetted shoes, his  face  whitened  and  a slight up-curled
moustache  glued to  his upper  lip, a  small-sword at his side and a guitar
slung behind him, Scaramouche surveyed himself in a mirror, and was disposed
to be sardonic - which was the proper mood for the part.
     He reflected that  his life, which until lately had been of a stagnant,
contemplative quality, had suddenly become excessively active. In the course
of one  week  he  had  been lawyer, mob-orator,  outlaw,  property-man,  and
finally buffoon. Last Wednesday he had been engaged in moving an audience of
Rennes to anger; on this Wednesday  he was to move an audience of Guichen to
mirth. Then he had been concerned to draw tears; to-day it was his  business
to provoke laughter. There was a difference, and  yet  there was a parallel.
Then as  now he had been a  comedian; and the  part  that he had played then
was, when you came  to  think of it,  akin  to the part he was  to play this
evening.  For what had  he  been at Rennes  but a  sort of Scaramouche - the
little skirmisher, the astute intriguer, spattering the seed of trouble with
a sly hand? The only  difference lay  in the fact  that to-day he went forth
under the  name that  properly  described his type, whereas last week he had
been disguised as a respectable young provincial attorney.
     He bowed to his reflection in the mirror.
     "Buffoon!" he apostrophized it.  "At  last you have  found yourself. At
last you have come into your heritage. You should be a great success.
     Hearing his  new name called out by M. Binet, he went below to find the
company assembled, and waiting in the entrance corridor of the inn.
     He was, of course, an object of great interest to all the company. Most
critically was he  conned by M. Binet  and mademoiselle;  by the former with
gravely searching eyes, by the latter with a curl of scornful lip.
     "You'll  do," M. Binet commended his  make-up.  "At least  you look the
part."
     "Unfortunately  men  are  not  always  what they  look," said  Climene,
acidly.
     "That  is  a  truth that  does  not  at  present  apply  to  me,"  said
Andre-Louis. "For it is the first time in my life that I look what I am."
     Mademoiselle curled her lip a little further,  and turned  her shoulder
to him. But  the others  thought  him very witty -  probably  because he was
obscure. Columbine encouraged him with a friendly  smile  that displayed her
large  white teeth, and M. Binet swore yet  once  again that  he  would be a
great success, since he threw himself with such spirit into the undertaking.
Then in a  voice that for  the moment he appeared to have borrowed from  the
roaring captain, M. Binet marshalled them for the short parade across to the
market-hall.
     The new  Scaramouche  fell  into place  beside Rhodomont.  The old one,
hobbling on  a  crutch, had  departed an  hour  ago  to take  the  place  of
doorkeeper,  vacated  of  necessity  by  Andre-Louis.  So that  the exchange
between those two was a complete one.
     Headed by Polichinelle banging his  great drum and Pierrot blowing  his
trumpet,  they set out,  and were duly passed in review  by the  ragamuffins
drawn up  in files to enjoy so  much of the  spectacle as was to be obtained
for nothing.
     Ten minutes later the three knocks sounded, and the curtains were drawn
aside  to reveal  a battered set that was partly garden,  partly  forest, in
which  Climene  feverishly  looked for the  coming  of Leandre. In the wings
stood the beautiful, melancholy  lover, awaiting his  cue,  and  immediately
behind him the unfledged Scaramouche, who was anon to follow him.
     Andre-Louis was assailed with nausea in that dread moment. He attempted
to take a lightning mental review of the first act of this scenario of which
he  was himself the  author-in-chief; but found his  mind  a complete blank.
With the perspiration starting  from his skin, he stepped back to the  wall,
where above a dim  lantern  was pasted  a sheet bearing the brief outline of
the piece. He was still studying  it, when his arm was clutched, and he  was
pulled  violently  towards  the  wings.  He  had  a  glimpse  of Pantaloon's
grotesque face, its eyes blazing, and he caught a raucous growl:
     "Climene has spoken your cue three times already."
     Before he realized  it, he had  been bundled on to the stage, and stood
there  foolishly,  blinking in  the  glare of the footlights, with their tin
reflectors.  So utterly foolish and bewildered did he look that  volley upon
volley of laughter welcomed him from the audience, which this evening packed
the hall  from  end  to end. Trembling  a little,  his bewilderment at first
increasing, he stood there to receive that rolling tribute to his absurdity.
Climene was  eyeing  him  with expectant mockery,  savouring in  advance his
humiliation;  Leandre  regarded  him  in  consternation, whilst  behind  the
scenes, M. Binet was dancing in fury.
     "Name  of  a name," he- groaned  to the rather  scared  members  of the
company assembled there, "what will happen when they discover that he  isn't
acting?"
     But they  never  did  discover  it. Scaramouche's bewildered  paralysis
lasted  but  a few  seconds.  He realized that he  was being laughed at, and
remembered that his Scaramouche was a  creature to be laughed with,  and not
at.  He must save the situation; twist  it to his  own advantage as best  he
could. And  now his real bewilderment  and  terror was  succeeded  by  acted
bewilderment  and  terror  far  more  marked,  but  not  quite so  funny. He
contrived to make it clearly  appear that his terror was of some one off the
stage.  He  took cover behind a  painted shrub, and thence,  the laughter at
last beginning to subside, he addressed himself to Climene and Leandre.
     "Forgive  me,  beautiful  lady, if  the abrupt  manner  of  my entrance
startled you. The truth is that  I have  never been the same since that last
affair of mine with Almaviva. My heart is not what it used to be. Down there
at  the  end of the lane  I  came face to  face  with  an  elderly gentleman
carrying  a  heavy cudgel, and the horrible thought  entered my mind that it
might  be your father,  and  that our little stratagem  to  get  you  safely
married might already have been  betrayed to him. I think  it was the cudgel
put such notion in my head. Not that I am afraid. I am  not really afraid of
anything. But  I could not help  reflecting that,  if it should  really have
been your father, and  he had  broken my  head  with his cudgel, your  hopes
would have perished with me. For  without me, what should  you have done, my
poor children?"
     A ripple of laughter from  the audience  had been steadily enheartening
him,  and  helping him to recover his  natural  impudence. It was clear they
found him comical.  They were to find him far more  comical than ever he had
intended, and this was  largely due to a fortuitous  circumstance upon which
he had  insufficiently reckoned.  The  fear  of recognition by some one from
Gavrillac or Rennes had been strong upon him. His face was sufficiently made
up to baffle recognition; but there remained his voice. To dissemble this he
had  availed himself of the fact that Figaro was a  Spaniard. He had known a
Spaniard at Louis le Grand who spoke a fluent but most extraordinary French,
with a  grotesque excess of sibilant  sounds. It  was  an accent that he had
often  imitated, as  youths  will imitate  characteristics that excite their
mirth. Opportunely he had bethought him  of that Spanish student, and it was
upon his  speech that to-night he modelled his own. The audience of  Guichen
found  it  as  laughable  on  his  lips as he and  his fellows had found  it
formerly on the lips of that derided Spaniard.
     Meanwhile,  behind the scenes, Binet - listening to that glib impromptu
of which the scenario gave no indication - had recovered from his fears.
     "Dieu  de  Dieu!"  he whispered,  grinning.  "Did he  do  it,  then, on
purpose?"
     It seemed to  him impossible that a man who had been so terror-stricken
as he had  fancied Andre-Louis, could have recovered his wits so quickly and
completely. Yet the doubt remained.
     To resolve it after the  curtain had  fallen upon  a first act that had
gone with a verve unrivalled until this hour in the  annals of  the company,
borne almost  entirely upon  the slim shoulders  of the new  Scaramouche, M.
Binet bluntly questioned him.
     They  were standing  in the  space that did  duty  as  green-room,  the
company  all  assembled  there,  showering  congratulations  upon their  new
recruit. Scaramouche, a little exalted at the moment by his success, however
trivial  he  might  consider  it  to-morrow, took then a full  revenge  upon
Climene  for  the malicious  satisfaction  with which  she had  regarded his
momentary blank terror.
     "I do not wonder  that you ask,"  said he. "Faith, I should have warned
you that I intended to do my best  from  the start to put  the audience in a
good humour with me. Mademoiselle very  nearly ruined everything by refusing
to reflect  any of  my terror. She  was not  even  startled.  Another  time,
mademoiselle, I shall give you full warning of my every intention."
     She  crimsoned under  her  grease-paint. But  before she could find  an
answer  of  sufficient  venom,  her  father was rating her soundly  for  her
stupidity  -  the more  soundly  because himself  he  had  been  deceived by
Scaramouche's supreme acting.
     Scaramouche's success in the first act was more than  confirmed  as the
performance proceeded. Completely master  of himself by now, and  stimulated
as only  success can stimulate, he warmed to his work. Impudent, alert, sly,
graceful, he incarnated the very ideal of Scaramouche, and he helped out his
own  native  wit  by  many  a remembered  line  from  Beaumarchais,  thereby
persuading  the  better informed  among  the  audience that here indeed  was
something of the real Figaro, and bringing them, as it were, into touch with
the great world of the capital.
     When at last the curtain fell for the last time, it was Scaramouche who
shared  with Climene  the honours of the evening, his name that  was coupled
with hers in the calls that summoned them before the curtains.
     As they stepped back,  and the  curtains screened  them again from  the
departing audience, M. Binet approached them, rubbing his  fat hands  softly
together.  This runagate young  lawyer,  whom  chance  had  blown  into  his
company, had evidently  been sent  by Fate to make his fortune for him.  The
sudden  success  at Guichen, hitherto  unrivalled, should  be  repeated  and
augmented elsewhere.  There  would  be  no more  sleeping  under  hedges and
tightening  of belts.  Adversity  was  behind  him.  He placed a  hand  upon
Scaramouche's shoulder, and  surveyed  him with a smile  whose oiliness  not
even his red paint and colossal false nose could dissemble.
     "And what have you to say to me now?" he asked him. "Was I wrong when I
assured you that you would succeed? Do you think I have followed my fortunes
in the theatre  for a lifetime without knowing a born actor when  I see one?
You are my discovery, Scaramouche. I have discovered you to yourself. I have
set your feet upon the road to fame and fortune. I await your thanks."
     Scaramouche laughed at him, and his laugh was not altogether pleasant.
     "Always Pantaloon!" said he.
     The great  countenance became  overcast. "I  see  that  you do  not yet
forgive me the  little stratagem by  which I forced you  to  do  justice  to
yourself. Ungrateful  dog!  As if I could have  had any purpose but  to make
you; and I  have  done  so. Continue as  you have begun, and you will end in
Paris. You may yet tread the stage  of the  Comedie Francaise, the  rival of
Talma, Fleury, and Dugazon. When that happens to you  perhaps you will  feel
the gratitude  that is  due to old Binet, for you  will owe  it all  to this
soft-hearted old fool."
     "If you were as good an actor on the stage as you are in private," said
Scaramouche,  "you  would  yourself have  won to  the Comedie Francaise long
since. But I bear no rancour, M. Binet." He laughed, and put out his hand.
     Binet fell upon it and wrung it heartily.
     "That, at  least,  is  something," he declared. "My  boy,  I have great
plans for you - for  us. To-morrow we go to Maure; there  is a fair there to
the end  of this  week. Then on Monday  we take our chances  at Pipriac, and
after that we must consider. It may be that I  am about to realize the dream
of  my  life. There must have been upwards of fifteen louis  taken to-night.
Where the devil is that rascal Cordemais?"
     Cordemais  was  the  name  of  the original  Scaramouche,  who  had  so
unfortunately  twisted  his  ankle.  That Binet  should refer to him  by his
secular designation was  a  sign that in the Binet company at least  he  had
fallen for ever from the lofty eminence of Scaramouche.
     "Let  us  go and find him, and then we'll  away to the inn and crack  a
bottle of the best Burgundy, perhaps two bottles."
     But Cordemais was not readily to be found. None of the company had seen
him since the close of the performance. M. Binet went round to the entrance.
Cordemais was not there.  At first he was  annoyed;  then as he continued in
vain to  bawl the  fellow's  name, he began  to grow  uneasy;  lastly,  when
Polichinelle,  who  was  with  them,  discovered Cordemais' crutch  standing
discarded  behind  the  door,  M. Binet became alarmed. A dreadful suspicion
entered his mind. He grew visibly pale under his paint.
     "But this  evening he couldn't walk without  the crutch!" he exclaimed.
"How then does he come to leave it there and take himself off?"
     "Perhaps he has gone on to the inn," suggested some one.
     "But he could n't walk without his crutch," M. Binet insisted.
     Nevertheless, since clearly  he was not anywhere about the market-hall,
to the inn they all trooped, and deafened the landlady with their inquiries.
     "Oh, yes, M. Cordemais came in some time ago."
     "Where is he now?"
     "He went away again at once. He just came for his bag."
     "For his bag!" Binet was on the point of an apoplexy. "How long ago was
that?"
     She glanced at the timepiece on the overmantel. "It would be about half
an  hour ago.  It  was  a  few minutes before  the Rennes  diligence  passed
through."
     "The  Rennes diligence!" M. Binet was almost inarticulate. "Could he...
could he walk?" he asked, on a note of terrible anxiety.
     "Walk? He ran like a hare when he left the inn. I thought, myself, that
his agility  was  suspicious,  seeing how  lame he  had  been since  he fell
downstairs yesterday. Is anything wrong?"
     M. Binet had collapsed into a chair. He took his head in his hands, and
groaned.
     "The scoundrel was shamming all the time!" exclaimed Climene. "His fall
downstairs was a trick. He was playing for this. He has swindled us."
     "Fifteen louis at least - perhaps  sixteen!" said  M.  Binet.  "Oh, the
heartless blackguard! To swindle me who have been  as a father to him -  and
to swindle me in such a moment."
     >From  the ranks of  the  silent,  awe-stricken company, each member of
which was  wondering by  how  much of the loss his own meagre pay  would  be
mulcted, there came a splutter of laughter.
     M. Binet glared with blood-injected eyes.
     "Who laughs?" he roared.  "What  heartless wretch has  the audacity  to
laugh at my misfortune?"
     Andre-Louis, still in the sable glories of Scaramouche, stood  forward.
He was laughing still.
     "It  is you, is it? You  may  laugh on another  note,  my friend,  if I
choose a way to recoup myself that I know of."
     "Dullard!" Scaramouche  scorned him. "Rabbit-brained elephant! What  if
Cordemais has gone  with fifteen louis? Hasn't  he left you  something worth
twenty times as much?"
     M. Binet gaped uncomprehending.
     "You  are  between two  wines,  I  think.  You've  been  drinking,"  he
concluded.
     "So I have - at the  fountain of Thalia. Oh,  don't you see?  Don't you
see the treasure that Cordemais has left behind him?"
     "What has he left?"
     "A unique idea for the groundwork of  a scenario. It unfolds itself all
before  me. I'll borrow part of the  title from Moliere. We'll  call it 'Les
Fourberies de Scaramouche,' and if we don't leave the audiences of Maure and
Pipriac with sides  aching  from laughter I'll play the dullard Pantaloon in
future."
     Polichinelle  smacked fist  into palm. "Superb!" he said, fiercely. "To
cull fortune  from  misfortune,  to turn loss into  profit, that is  to have
genius.
     Scaramouche  made  a leg. "Polichinelle,  you are a fellow after my own
heart.  I love a  man who can discern my  merit. If Pantaloon had half  your
wit, we should have Burgundy to-night in spite of the flight of Cordemais."
     "Burgundy?" roared M. Binet, and before  he could get farther Harlequin
had clapped his hands together.
     "That is the spirit, M. Binet.  You heard him, landlady. He  called for
Burgundy."
     "I called for nothing of the kind."
     "But you heard him, dear madame. We all heard him."
     The others made  chorus,  whilst Scaramouche smiled at him,  and patted
his shoulder.
     "Up, man, a little courage. Did you not say that fortune awaits us? And
have we not now the wherewithal to  constrain fortune? Burgundy, then, to...
to toast 'Les Fourberies de Scaramouche.'"
     And M. Binet, who was not blind to the force of the idea, yielded, took
courage, and got drunk with the rest.




     Diligent search among the many scenarios of the  improvisers which have
survived  their day, has  failed  to  bring  to  light the  scenario of "Les
Fourberies de Scaramouche," upon which we are told the fortunes of the Binet
troupe came to be soundly established. They played it for the first  time at
Maure in the following week,  with Andre-Louis  - who  was  known by now  as
Scaramouche to all the company, and to the public alike - in the title-role.
If he had acquitted himself well as Figaro-Scaramouche, he excelled  himself
in the new piece, the scenario  of which would  appear  to be very much  the
better of the two.
     After  Maure came Pipriac, where  four performances were given,  two of
each of the scenarios that now formed  the backbone of the Binet repertoire.
In both Scaramouche, who was beginning to find himself,  materially improved
his  performances. So  smoothly  now did the two pieces run that Scaramouche
actually suggested to Binet that after Fougeray, which they were to visit in
the following week,  they should tempt  fortune in  a  real  theatre  in the
important town of Redon. The notion terrified Binet  at first, but coming to
think of it,  and his ambition being fanned  by  Andre-Louis,  he  ended  by
allowing himself to succumb to the temptation.
     It seemed to Andre-Louis in those days  that  he  had  found  his  real
metier, and not  only was  he beginning to like  it,  but actually  to  look
forward to a career as actor-author that might indeed lead him in the end to
that Mecca of  all  comedians, the Comedie  Francaise. And  there were other
possibilities. From the writing  of skeleton scenarios  for improvisers,  he
might presently pass to writing plays of dialogue, plays in the proper sense
of the word, after the manner of Chenier, Eglantine, and Beaumarchais.
     The fact that he dreamed  such dreams  shows us how  very kindly he had
taken  to  the  profession into which  Chance and M.  Binet between them had
conspired to thrust him. That he had real talent both as author and as actor
I do not doubt, and I am persuaded that had things fallen out differently he
would have won for himself a lasting place among French dramatists, and thus
fully have realized that dream of his.
     Now, dream though it was, he did not neglect the practical side of it.
     "You realize," he told M. Binet,  "that I  have it in my power to  make
your fortune for you.
     He and Binet  were sitting alone together in the  parlour of the inn at
Pipriac, drinking  a very excellent  bottle of Volnay.  It  was on the night
after  the fourth  and  last performance  there  of  "Les  Feurberies."  The
business in Pipriac had been as excellent  as in Maure and Guichen. You will
have gathered this from the fact that they drank Volnay.
     "I  will  concede it, my  dear  Scaramouche, so that  I  may  hear  the
sequel."
     "I  am disposed to exercise this power if the inducement is sufficient.
You will realize  that for fifteen  livres a month  a man does not sell such
exceptional gifts as mine.
     "There is an alternative," said M. Binet, darkly.
     "There is no alternative. Don't be a fool, Binet."
     Binet sat up as if  he had been prodded. Members of his company did not
take this tone of direct rebuke with him.
     "Anyway,  I make you  a present  of  it,"  Scaramouche pursued, airily.
"Exercise it if you please. Step outside and inform the police that they can
lay hands upon one Andre-Louis Moreau. But that will be the end of your fine
dreams of going to Redon, and  for the first time in your life playing in  a
real theatre. Without me, you can't do it, and  you  know it;  and I  am not
going to  Redon or anywhere else,  in fact I  am not even going to Fougeray,
until we have an equitable arrangement."
     "But what heat!"  complained  Binet, "and all for  what?  Why  must you
assume  that I have  the soul of a  usurer? When our  little arrangement was
made, I had no idea how could I? - that you would prove as valuable to me as
you are? You had but to remind me, my dear Scaramouche. I am a just man.  As
from to-day you shall have thirty livres a month.  See, I double it at once.
I am a generous man."
     "But you are not ambitious. Now listen to me, a moment."
     And he proceeded to unfold a scheme that filled Binet with a paralyzing
terror.
     "After Redon, Nantes," he said. "Nantes and the Theatre Feydau."
     M.  Binet choked in the act of drinking. The Theatre  Feydau was a sort
of provincial Comedie Francaise. The  great Fleury had played  there  to  an
audience  as critical as any in France. The very thought of Redon, cherished
as it  had  come  to be  by  M. Binet,  gave him at moments a  cramp in  the
stomach,  so  dangerously ambitious  did it  seem to  him. And  Redon was  a
puppet-show  by comparison with Nantes. Yet  this raw lad whom he had picked
up by chance three weeks ago,  and  who  in  that  time had blossomed from a
country attorney into author and actor, could talk of Nantes and the Theatre
Feydau without changing colour.
     "But  why not Paris and the Comedie Francaise?" wondered M. Binet, with
sarcasm, when at last he had got his breath.
     "That may come later," says impudence.
     "Eh? You've been drinking, my friend."
     But  Andre-Louis detailed  the plan that  had been forming in his mind.
Fougeray  should  be  a  training-ground for  Redon, and Redon  should  be a
training-ground for Nantes. They would stay in Redon as long  as Redon would
pay adequately to come and see them, working hard to  perfect themselves the
while. They would add three or four new players of talent to the company; he
would write three or four  fresh  scenarios, and these  should be tested and
perfected until the troupe was  in possession of at least half a dozen plays
upon which they could depend; they would lay out a portion of  their profits
on  better  dresses  and better scenery, and finally in a couple  of months'
time, if all went  well, they should  be ready  to make  their real  bid for
fortune  at Nantes. It was quite true that  distinction was usually demanded
of the  companies appearing at  the Feydau, but on the other hand Nantes had
not  seen a troupe of improvisers for a generation and longer. They would be
supplying a novelty to which all Nantes should flock provided that the  work
were really well done, and Scaramouche undertook - pledged himself - that if
matters were  left  in his own hands, his projected revival  of the Commedia
dell' Arte in all its glories would exceed whatever expectations  the public
of Nantes might bring to the theatre.
     "We'll  talk   of   Paris   after  Nantes,"  he   finished,   supremely
matter-of-fact, "just as we will definitely decide on Nantes after Redon."
     The persuasiveness that could sway a mob ended by sweeping M. Binet off
his feet. The prospect which  Scaramouche unfolded,  if terrifying, was also
intoxicating,  and  as  Scaramouche  delivered  a  crushing answer  to  each
weakening  objection  in  a measure  as  it was  advanced,  Binet  ended  by
promising to think the matter over.
     "Redon will point the way," said Andre-Louis, "and I  don't doubt which
way Redon will point."
     Thus  the great adventure of Redon dwindled to insignificance.  Instead
of  a  terrifying  undertaking in itself, it became  merely  a rehearsal for
something greater. In his momentary exaltation Binet proposed another bottle
of Volnay. Scaramouche waited until the cork was drawn before he continued.
     "The  thing  remains possible," said  he then, holding his glass to the
light, and speaking casually, "as long as I am with you."
     "Agreed,  my  dear  Scaramouche,  agreed.  Our  chance  meeting  was  a
fortunate thing for both of us."
     "For  both of us," said Scaramouche,  with stress. "That is  as I would
have it. So  that  I  do  not  think you will surrender me  just  yet to the
police."
     "As if  I could think  of such a thing!  My dear Scaramouche, you amuse
yourself.  I beg that you will  never,  never  allude to that little joke of
mine again."
     "It is  forgotten," said Andre-Louis. "And now for the remainder of  my
proposal. If I am to become the architect of your fortunes, if I am to build
them as I have planned them, I  must  also and in the same degree become the
architect of my own."
     "In the same degree?" M. Binet frowned.
     "In the same degree. From to-day, if  you  please, we will  conduct the
affairs of this company in a proper manner, and we will keep account-books."
     "I am an artist," said M. Binet, with pride. "I am not a merchant."
     "There is a business side  to your art, and that shall be conducted  in
the business  manner. I  have thought it all out for you.  You  shall not be
troubled  with  details that might hinder the  due exercise of your art. All
that you have to do is to say yes or no to my proposal."
     "Ah? And the proposal?"
     "Is  that  you constitute  me  your partner, with an equal share in the
profits of your company."
     Pantaloon's  great countenance grew  pale, his little  eyes  widened to
their  fullest  extent  as he  conned  the face of  his  companion.  Then he
exploded.
     "You are mad, of course, to make me a proposal so monstrous."
     "It has its injustices, I admit. But I have provided for them. It would
not, for instance, be fair that in addition to all that I am proposing to do
for you, I should also play Scaramouche and write your scenarios without any
reward outside of the half-profit which  would come to me as a partner. Thus
before the profits come to  be divided, there  is a  salary to be paid me as
actor, and a small sum for  each  scenario with which I provide the company;
that is a matter for mutual agreement. Similarly, you shall be paid a salary
as Pantaloon.  After those expenses are cleared up, as well as all the other
salaries and disbursements, the residue  is the profit to be divided equally
between us."
     It was not, as you can imagine, a proposal  that M. Binet would swallow
at a draught. He began with a point-blank refusal to consider it.
     "In that  case, my friend," said Scaramouche, "we part company at once.
To-morrow I shall bid you a reluctant farewell."
     Binet fell to raging. He spoke of ingratitude in feeling terms; he even
permitted himself another sly allusion to that little jest of his concerning
the police, which he had promised never again to mention.
     "As to that, you may do as you please. Play the informer, by all means.
But consider that you will just as  definitely  be deprived of  my services,
and  that without  me you  are nothing  -  as you were  before I joined your
company."
     M.  Binet  did not care what  the consequences might be.  A fig for the
consequences!  He would teach this impudent young  country attorney  that M.
Binet was not the man to be imposed upon.
     Scaramouche  rose.  "Very  well," said  he,  between  indifference  and
resignation.  "As you wish. But before you act, sleep on  the matter. In the
cold  light of  morning  you  may  see our  two proposals  in  their  proper
proportions. Mine spells fortune for both of us. Yours spells  ruin for both
of us. Good-night, M. Binet. Heaven help you to a wise decision.
     The decision to  which M.  Binet finally came  was, naturally, the only
one possible  in the face of so firm a resolve  as  that of Andre-Louis, who
held the trumps. Of course there  were  further discussions,  before all was
settled, and M. Binet was brought to an agreement only after an infinity  of
haggling surprising  in one who was an artist and not a man of business. One
or two concessions were made by Andre-Louis; he  consented, for instance, to
waive  his claim to  be  paid  for  scenarios, and he also consented that M.
Binet should appoint himself a salary that was out of all proportion to  his
deserts.
     Thus in the end the matter was  settled, and the announcement duly made
to the assembled company. There were, of course, jealousies and resentments.
But these were not deep-seated,  and they were readily swallowed when it was
discovered  that under the new arrangement the lot of the entire company was
to be materially improved from  the  point of  view of salaries. This  was a
matter  that  had  met with considerable opposition  from M.  Binet. But the
irresistible Scaramouche swept away all objections.
     "If we are to play at the Feydau, you want a company of self-respecting
comedians, and not a pack of cringing starvelings. The better we pay them in
reason, the more they will earn for us."
     Thus was conquered the company's resentment of this too swift promotion
of its latest recruit. Cheerfully now  - with one exception -  they accepted
the dominance of Scaramouche, a dominance  soon to be so firmly  established
that M. Binet himself came under it.
     The  one  exception  was  Climene. Her failure  to  bring to heel  this
interesting  young stranger, who had  almost  literally  dropped  into their
midst that  morning outside Guichen,  had begotten in her a malice which his
persistent ignoring of her had been steadily inflaming. She had remonstrated
with her father when  the new partnership was first formed. She had lost her
temper with him, and called  him a fool, whereupon M. Binet - in Pantaloon's
best manner - had lost his temper in  his turn and boxed her ears. She piled
it  up to the  account of Scaramouche, and spied her opportunity to pay  off
some of  that ever-increasing score. But opportunities were few. Scaramouche
was  too occupied just then. During the week  of preparation at Fougeray, he
was  hardly seen  save at the performances, whilst when  once they  were  at
Redon, he came and went like the wind between the theatre and the inn.
     The Redon  experiment had  justified itself  from the first. Stimulated
and  encouraged by this, Andre-Louis worked day  and night  during the month
that  they spent in that busy little town. The moment had been well  chosen,
for the trade in chestnuts of which Redon is the centre was just then at its
height. And  every afternoon the little theatre was packed  with spectators.
The fame of  the troupe had gone forth, borne by the chestnut-growers of the
district, who were  bringing their  wares to Redon market, and the audiences
were made up of people from the  surrounding country,  and from neighbouring
villages  as far  out as Allaire, Saint-Perrieux and Saint-Nicholas. To keep
the  business from slackening, Andre-Louis  prepared  a  new  scenario every
week.  He wrote three in  addition  to  those two with which he had  already
supplied  the company;  these  were  "The  Marriage  of Pantaloon," "The Shy
Lover," and "The  Terrible  Captain."  Of these the  last  was  the greatest
success. It  was based  upon the "Miles  Gloriosus"  of Plautus,  with great
opportunities for Rhodomont, and a good part for  Scaramouche as the roaring
captain's  sly  lieutenant. Its success was largely  due to  the  fact  that
Andre-Louis amplified the scenario to the extent of indicating very fully in
places the lines which the dialogue should follow, whilst  here and there he
had gone  so far  as to  supply  some of the  actual dialogue to be  spoken,
without, however, making it obligatory upon the actors to keep to the letter
of it.
     And  meanwhile as the business prospered, he became busy  with tailors,
improving  the  wardrobe  of  the  company,  which  was sorely  in  need  of
improvement. He ran to earth a couple of needy artists, lured them into  the
company to play small parts - apothecaries and notaries  - and  set them  to
beguile their leisure in painting new scenery, so as to be ready for what he
called the conquest of  Nantes, which was to  come in the new year. Never in
his life had  he worked so hard; never in his life had he  worked at all  by
comparison with his activities  now. His  fund of energy and  enthusiasm was
inexhaustible, like that of his good humour. He came and went, acted, wrote,
conceived, directed, planned, and executed, what time M. Binet took his ease
at  last in  comparative  affluence, drank Burgundy  every  night, ate white
bread  and other  delicacies,  and began  to  congratulate himself upon  his
astuteness in  having  made this industrious,  tireless fellow  his partner.
Having discovered how idle had been his fears of performing at Redon, he now
began to  dismiss the terrors with which  the  notion of Nantes had  haunted
him.
     And his  happiness  was reflected throughout the ranks of his  company,
with the  single exception  always  of Climene. She had  ceased to sneer  at
Scaramouche, haying realized at last that her sneers left him  untouched and
recoiled upon  herself.  Thus  her almost indefinable resentment of him  was
increased  by being stifled, until, at all costs,  an outlet for it must  be
found.
     One day  she threw herself  in  his way  as he was leaving the  theatre
after the  performance.  The others had  already gone, and she had  returned
upon pretence of having forgotten something.
     "Will you tell me what I have done to you?" she asked him, point-blank.
     "Done  to me, mademoiselle?" He did  not understand. She made a gesture
of impatience. "Why do you hate me?"
     "Hate you,  mademoiselle? I do not hate anybody. It  is the most stupid
of all the emotions. I have never hated - not even my enemies."
     "What Christian resignation!"
     "As for hating you, of all people!  Why...  I consider you  adorable. I
envy Leandre every day of my life.  I have  seriously thought of setting him
to play Scaramouche, and playing lovers myself."
     "I don't think you would be a success," said she.
     "That is the  only consideration that restrains me. And  yet, given the
inspiration  that  is  given  Leandre,  it  is  possible  that  I  might  be
convincing."
     "Why, what inspiration do you mean?"
     "The inspiration of playing to so adorable a Climene."
     Her lazy eyes were now alert to search that lean face of his.
     "You are laughing at me," said she, and swept past him into the theatre
on her pretended quest.  There was nothing to be done with such a fellow. He
was utterly without feeling. He was not a man at all.
     Yet  when she  came forth again  at the end  of  some five minutes, she
found him still lingering at the door.
     "Not gone yet?" she asked him, superciliously.
     "I was waiting  for you, mademoiselle.  You will be walking to the inn.
If I might escort you... "
     "But what gallantry! What condescension!"
     "Perhaps you would prefer that I did not?"
     "How could I prefer that, M.  Scaramouche? Besides, we  are  both going
the same way, and the streets are common to all. It is that I am overwhelmed
by the unusual honour."
     He looked into her piquant little  face, and noted how  obscured it was
by its cloud of dignity. He laughed.
     "Perhaps I feared that the honour was not sought."
     "Ah, now I understand," she cried. "It is for me to seek these honours.
I  am to woo a  man before he will pay me the homage of civility. It must be
so, since you, who clearly know everything,  have said so. It remains for me
to beg your pardon for my ignorance."
     "It amuses you to  be cruel," said Scaramouche. "No  matter.  Shall  we
walk?"
     They set out together, stepping briskly to warm their blood against the
wintry  evening  air.  Awhile they  went  in  silence,  yet  each  furtively
observing the other.
     "And  so,  you find  me cruel?" she  challenged him at length,  thereby
betraying the fact that the accusation had struck home.
     He looked at her with a half smile. "Will you deny it?"
     "You are the first man that ever accused me of that."
     "I  dare not suppose myself the first man to whom you have been  cruel.
That  were an assumption  too flattering  to myself. I must prefer  to think
that the others suffered in silence."
     "Mon  Dieu!  Have  you  suffered?"  She  was  between  seriousness  and
raillery.
     "I place the confession as an offering on the altar of your vanity."
     "I should never have suspected it."
     "How could you? Am I not what your father calls  a natural actor? I was
an actor long before I became Scaramouche. Therefore I have laughed. I often
do when I am hurt. When  you were pleased  to be disdainful, I acted disdain
in my turn."
     "You acted very well," said she, without reflecting.
     "Of course. I am an excellent actor."
     "And why this sudden change?"
     "In response to the change in you. You have grown weary of your part of
cruel madam - a dull part, believe me, and unworthy of your talents., Were I
a woman and had I your  loveliness and your grace, Climene, I should disdain
to use them as weapons of offence."
     "Loveliness and grace!" she echoed,  feigning amused  surprise. But the
vain baggage was mollified. "When was it that you discovered this beauty and
this grace, M. Scaramouche?"
     He looked at her a moment, considering the sprightly beauty of her, the
adorable femininity that from the first had so irresistibly attracted him.
     "One morning when I beheld you rehearsing a love-scene with Leandre."
     He caught the  surprise that leapt to her eyes, before  she veiled them
under drooping lids from his too questing gaze.
     "Why, that was the first time you saw me."
     "I had no earlier occasion to remark your charms."
     "You ask me to believe  too  much," said she, but her tone  was  softer
than he had ever known it yet.
     "Then  you'll refuse to believe  me if I confess that it was this grace
and  beauty that determined my  destiny that day by urging me  to join  your
father's troupe."
     At that  she  became  a little  out of breath. There  was no longer any
question of finding an outlet for resentment. Resentment was all forgotten.
     "But why? With what object?"
     "With the object of asking you one day to be my wife."
     She halted  under the  shock of that, and swung round  to face him. Her
glance met  his own  without, shyness  now; there was a hardening glitter in
her eyes,  a faint  stir of  colour in  her cheeks. She suspected him  of an
unpardonable mockery.
     "You go very fast, don't you?" she asked him, with heat.
     "I do. haven't you observed it? I am a man of sudden impulses. See what
I  have made of  the  Binet troupe in less  than a couple of months. Another
might have laboured for a year  and not achieved the  half of it. Shall I be
slower in love than in work? Would  it be reasonable  to expect it?  I  have
curbed and repressed myself not to scare you by precipitancy. In that I have
done  violence to  my  feelings, and more  than all in using  the same  cold
aloofness with which you chose to treat me. I have waited - oh! so patiently
- until you should tire of that mood of cruelty."
     "You are an amazing man," said she, quite colourlessly.
     "I am," he agreed with her.  "It is only the  conviction  that I am not
commonplace that has permitted me to hope as I have hoped."
     Mechanically, and as if by tacit consent, they resumed their walk.
     "And I ask you to observe," he said, "when you complain that I  go very
fast, that, after all, I have so far asked you for nothing."
     "How?" quoth she, frowning.
     "I have merely told you of my hopes. I am not so rash as to ask at once
whether I may realize them."
     "My faith, but that is prudent," said she, tartly.
     "Of course."
     It  was his  self-possession that  exasperated her; for after that  she
walked the short  remainder of  the way in silence, and so,  for the moment,
the matter was left just there.
     But that night, after they had supped, it chanced that when Climene was
about to retire, he and she were alone together in the room abovestairs that
her father kept exclusively for his company. The Binet Troupe, you see,  was
rising in the world.
     As Climene now rose to withdraw  for  the night, Scaramouche rose  with
her  to  light her candle. Holding it in her left hand, she offered him  her
right, a long, tapering, white hand at the end  of a softly rounded arm that
was bare to the elbow.
     "Good-night,  Scaramouche," she said, but  so softly, so tenderly, that
he caught his breath, and stood conning her, his dark eyes aglow.
     Thus  a  moment, then he took the tips of her fingers in his grasp, and
bowing over the hand, pressed his lips upon it. Then he looked at her again.
The intense femininity of her lured him on, invited him, surrendered to him.
Her face was pale, there was a glitter in her eyes, a curious smile upon her
parted lips, and under its fichu-menteur her bosom rose and fell to complete
the betrayal of her.
     By  the  hand  he continued to hold, he drew her  towards him. She came
unresisting. He took the candle from her, and  set it  down on the sideboard
by which she stood. The next moment her slight, lithe body  was in his arms,
and he was kissing her, murmuring her name as if it were a prayer.
     "Am  I cruel now?" she asked him, panting. He kissed her again for only
answer. "You made me cruel because you would  not see," she told him next in
a whisper.
     And then  the  door opened, and  M. Binet came in to have his  paternal
eyes regaled by this highly indecorous behaviour of his daughter.
     He stood at gaze, whilst they quite leisurely, and in a self-possession
too complete to be natural, detached each from the other.
     "And  what may be the  meaning of this?" demanded M. Binet,  bewildered
and profoundly shocked.
     "Does  it require explaining?" asked Scaramouche. "Doesn't it speak for
itself  - eloquently? It  means that Climene and I  have taken  it  into our
heads to be married."
     "And doesn't it matter what I may take into my head?"
     "Of course. But you could have neither the  bad taste nor the bad heart
to offer any obstacle."
     "You take that for granted? Aye, that is your way, to be sure - to take
things for granted. But my daughter is not to  be taken for granted. I  have
very  definite  views  for my  daughter. You have  done an  unworthy  thing,
Scaramouche. You have betrayed my trust in you. I am very angry with you."
     He  rolled  forward  with his ponderous yet  curiously  noiseless gait.
Scaramouche turned to her, smiling, and handed her the candle.
     "If you will leave  us, Climene, I will ask your hand of your father in
proper form."
     She vanished, a little fluttered, lovelier than ever in  her mixture of
confusion and timidity. Scaramouche closed the door and faced the enraged M.
Binet, who had flung himself  into  an  armchair at  the  head of the  short
table, faced him with  the  avowed  purpose of asking for Climene's hand  in
proper form. And this was how he did it:
     "Father-in-law," said he, "I congratulate you. This will certainly mean
the Comedie Francaise for Climene, and that before long, and you shall shine
in the glory she  will reflect. As the  father of Madame Scaramouche you may
yet be famous."
     Binet,  his  face  slowly  empurpling,  glared  at  him  in  speechless
stupefaction. His  rage was  the more utter from his  humiliating conviction
that whatever he might say or do, this irresistible fellow would bend him to
his will. At last speech came to him.
     "You're a damned corsair," he cried, thickly, banging his ham-like fist
upon the  table.  "A  corsair! First you sail in and plunder  me of half  my
legitimate gains; and  now you want  to  carry off my daughter.  But I'll be
damned  if  I'll give her to a  graceless, nameless scoundrel like you,  for
whom the gallows are waiting already."
     Scaramouche pulled  the  bell-rope, not at all discomposed. He  smiled.
There was a flush on his cheeks and a gleam in his eyes. He was very pleased
with  the  world  that  night.  He  really  owed  a  great  debt  to  M.  de
Lesdiguieres.
     "Binet," said  he, "forget for once that you are Pantaloon,  and behave
as  a  nice,  amiable  father-in-law  should  behave  when  he has secured a
son-in-law  of  exceptionable  merits.  We  are going  to  have a  bottle of
Burgundy at my  expense,  and it shall  be the best bottle of Burgundy to be
found in Redon. Compose yourself  to do fitting honour to it. Excitations of
the bile invariably impair the fine sensitiveness of the palate."




     The Binet Troupe opened in  Nantes -  as you may discover  in surviving
copies  of  the  "Courrier Nantais" - on the Feast of the  Purification with
"Les Fourberies de Scaramouche." But they did not come to Nantes as hitherto
they  had gone  to little  country  villages and  townships, unheralded  and
depending entirely upon the parade of their entrance to attract attention to
themselves. Andre-Louis  had  borrowed  from the  business  methods  of  the
Comedie  Francaise. Carrying matters with a high  hand entirely  in  his own
fashion,  he had  ordered at Redon the printing of playbills, and four  days
before the  company's descent upon Nantes,  these bills  were pasted outside
the Theatre Feydau and elsewhere about the town, and had attracted
     -  being  still  sufficiently  unusual  announcements  at  the  time  -
considerable attention.  He had entrusted the matter to one of the company's
latest recruits, an intelligent young man named Basque, sending him on ahead
of the company for the purpose.
     You  may  see for  yourself one  of these  playbills in  the Carnavalet
Museum. It details the players by their stage names only, with the exception
of M. Binet and his  daughter, and leaving out of account  that he who plays
Trivelin  in one piece appears as Tabarin in  another, it makes  the company
appear to be at least half as numerous again as it really was. It  announces
that they will open with "Les Fourberies de Scaramouche," to  be followed by
five  other plays  of which it gives  the titles,  and by others  not named,
which  shall  also  be  added should the patronage  to  be received  in  the
distinguished and enlightened  city of  Nantes encourage the Binet Troupe to
prolong its sojourn  at the Theatre Feydau. It  lays  great stress  upon the
fact that  this  is a  company of improvisers in the old Italian manner, the
like of which has not been seen in France for half a century, and it exhorts
the  public  of  Nantes  not  to miss this  opportunity of  witnessing these
distinguished mimes who are reviving for them  the glories of the Comedie de
l'Art. Their visit to Nantes - the announcement proceeds - is preliminary to
their visit to  Paris,  where they  intend to  throw  down the  glove to the
actors of the Comedie Francaise, and  to show the world  how superior is the
art of the  improviser to that  of the actor who depends upon an author  for
what  he shall  say, and who consequently says always the same  thing  every
time that he plays in the same piece.
     It is an audacious bill, and  its  audacity  had scared M. Binet out of
the little sense left him  by  the Burgundy which  in  these  days he  could
afford  to abuse.  He had offered the most vehement opposition. Part of this
Andre-Louis had swept aside; part he had disregarded.
     "I admit that it  is audacious," said Scaramouche. "But at your time of
life you should  have  learnt  that in  this  world  nothing  succeeds  like
audacity."
     "I forbid it; I absolutely forbid it," M. Binet insisted.
     "I knew  you  would. Just as I know that you'll be very grateful  to me
presently for not obeying you.
     "You are inviting a catastrophe."
     "I  am inviting fortune. The worst catastrophe that can overtake you is
to be back in the market-halls of the country villages from which I  rescued
you. I'll have you in Paris yet in spite of yourself. Leave this to me."
     And he went out to attend to the printing. Nor did his preparations end
there. He wrote a piquant article on the  glories  of the Comedie  de l'Art,
and its resurrection by the improvising troupe of  the  great mime Florimond
Binet. Binet's name was  not Florimond; it  was just Pierre. But Andre-Louis
had a  great sense of the theatre.  That article was an amplification of the
stimulating matter contained  in the playbills; and he persuaded Basque, who
had relations in Nantes, to use all  the influence he could command, and all
the bribery they could afford, to get that article printed  in the "Courrier
Nantais" a couple of days before the arrival of the Binet Troupe.
     Basque had  succeeded, and, considering  the undoubted  literary merits
and intrinsic interest of the article, this is not at all surprising.
     And so it was upon an already expectant city that Binet and his company
descended  in  that first  week of  February. M. Binet  would have made  his
entrance in the usual manner  - a full-dress parade  with banging  drums and
crashing  cymbals.  But to  this  Andre-Louis  offered  the  most relentless
opposition.
     "We should but discover our poverty,"  said he. "Instead, we will creep
into  the city unobserved, and  leave  ourselves  to the imagination  of the
public."
     He had his way, of course. M. Binet, worn already with battling against
the strong waters of  this young man's will, was altogether unequal  to  the
contest now that he found CLIMENE in  alliance with Scaramouche,  adding her
insistence  to his, and joining  with  him in reprobation  of  her  father's
sluggish and reactionary wits.  Metaphorically, M. Binet threw up  his arms,
and cursing the day on which he had taken this young man into his troupe, he
allowed the current to carry him whither it would. He was  persuaded that he
would be  drowned  in  the end.  Meanwhile he would drown  his  vexation  in
Burgundy. At least there was abundance of Burgundy. Never in his life had he
found Burgundy so plentiful. Perhaps things were not as bad as he  imagined,
after all. He reflected that, when all was said, he had to thank Scaramouche
for the Burgundy. Whilst fearing the worst, he would hope for the best.
     And it was very much the worst that he feared as he waited in the wings
when  the curtain  rose  on that  first performance of theirs at the Theatre
Feydau to a house that  was tolerably filled by a public whose curiosity the
preliminary announcements had thoroughly stimulated.
     Although  the  scenario  of "Lee  Fourberies  de  Scaramouche" has  not
apparently survived, yet we know from Andre-Louis'  "Confessions" that it is
opened by Polichinelle in the character of an arrogant and fiercely  jealous
lover shown in the act of beguiling the waiting-maid, Columbine, to play the
spy upon her mistress, Climene. Beginning with cajolery, but failing in this
with the saucy Columbine, who likes cajolers to be at least  attractive  and
to pay a due deference to her own very piquant charms, the fierce humpbacked
scoundrel passes on to threats of the terrible vengeance he  will wreak upon
her if  she betrays him  or neglects to obey him  implicitly;  failing here,
likewise, he finally has recourse to bribery, and after he  has bled himself
freely to  the  very expectant  Columbine,  he  succeeds  by these  means in
obtaining  her consent to spy  upon  Climene, and  to report to him upon her
lady's conduct.
     The  pair played the scene well together, stimulated, perhaps, by their
very  nervousness  at  finding themselves  before so imposing  an  audience.
Polichinelle  was everything that is fierce,  contemptuous,  and  insistent.
Columbine  was the essence of  pert indifference under his cajolery, saucily
mocking under his threats, and finely sly in extorting the very maximum when
it came to  accepting  a  bribe. Laughter rippled  through  the audience and
promised well.  But M. Binet,  standing trembling  in the wings, missed  the
great guffaws of the rustic spectators to whom they had played hitherto, and
his fears steadily mounted.
     Then, scarcely has  Polichinelle departed by the door than  Scaramouche
bounds  in  through the  window.  It  was  an  effective  entrance,  usually
performed with a broad comic effect that set the people in a roar. Not so on
this occasion. Meditating in bed  that  morning, Scaramouche had  decided to
present  himself in a totally different  aspect. He would  cut  out all  the
broad  play,  all  the usual  clowning which  had delighted their past  rude
audiences,  and he would  obtain his effects  by subtlety instead. He  would
present  a  slyly  humorous  rogue,  restrained,  and of a certain  dignity,
wearing a countenance of complete solemnity, speaking his lines drily, as if
unconscious  of the humour  with  which he  intended to  invest them.  Thus,
though  it might  take the  audience longer to understand and discover  him,
they would like him all the better in the end.
     True to that resolve, he  now played  his part as the  friend and hired
ally of the lovesick Leandre, on whose  behalf  he came for news of Climene,
seizing the opportunity  to further his  own  amour with Columbine  and  his
designs  upon  the  money-bags  of  Pantaloon.  Also  he  had taken  certain
liberties  with the  traditional costume of  Scaramouche; he had  caused the
black doublet and breeches to be slashed with red, and the doublet to be cut
more to a peak,  a la  Henri III. The  conventional  black velvet cap he had
replaced by a conical  hat with a turned-up  brim, and a tuft of feathers on
the left, and he had discarded the guitar.
     M.  Binet listened  desperately for  the roar of laughter that  usually
greeted the entrance of Scaramouche, and his dismay  increased when  it  did
not  come. And then he became conscious of  something alarmingly unusual  in
Scaramouche's manner. The sibilant foreign accent was there, but none of the
broad boisterousness their audiences had loved.
     He wrung his hands in  despair. "It  is all over!" he said. "The fellow
has ruined us! It serves me right for being a fool, and allowing him to take
control of everything!"
     But he was profoundly mistaken.  He began  to have an inkling  of  this
when  presently  himself he took the stage, and found the  public attentive,
remarked  a  grin of quiet  appreciation on every upturned face. It was not,
however, until the  thunders of applause  greeted the fall of the curtain on
the first act  that he felt quite sure they would be allowed to  escape with
their lives.
     Had the part of Pantaloon in "Les Fourberies" been other than that of a
blundering,  timid  old  idiot,  Binet   would   have  ruined   it   by  his
apprehensions. As it was, those  very apprehensions, magnifying as  they did
the  hesitancy   and  bewilderment  that  were  the  essence  of  his  part,
contributed to the success. And a success it proved that more than justified
all the heralding of which Scaramouche had been guilty.
     For Scaramouche himself this success was not confined to the public. At
the  end of  the  play  a  great  reception awaited him from  his companions
assembled in the green-room of the theatre. His talent, resource, and energy
had  raised  them  in  a  few weeks from a pack of  vagrant mountebanks to a
self-respecting  company  of   first-rate  players.  They  acknowledged   it
generously  in a speech entrusted to Polichinelle, adding the tribute to his
genius that,  as they had conquered Nantes, so would they conquer the  world
under his guidance.
     In their enthusiasm they were a little neglectful of the feelings of M.
Binet. Irritated enough had he been already  by the  overriding of his every
wish, by the consciousness of his weakness when opposed to Scaramouche. And,
although  he had suffered  the  gradual process of  usurpation of  authority
because  its every step  had been attended  by his own  greater profit, deep
down in him the resentment abode to stifle every spark of that gratitude due
from him  to his partner. To-night his nerves had been  on  the rack, and he
had suffered agonies of apprehension, for all of which he blamed Scaramouche
so bitterly  that not even the ultimate success - almost miraculous when all
the elements are considered - could justify his partner in his eyes.
     And  now, to find himself, in addition,  ignored  by this company - his
own company, which he had so laboriously and  slowly  assembled and selected
among the men  of ability whom he had  found here and there in  the dregs of
cities was something that stirred his bile, and aroused the malevolence that
never did more than slumber in him. But deeply though his rage was moved, it
did not  blind him  to the folly of betraying it. Yet that he should  assert
himself  in this  hour  was imperative  unless he  were for ever to become a
thing  of no  account in this troupe over which  he had lorded it  for  long
months  before  this  interloper came amongst  them  to fill  his  purse and
destroy his authority.
     So  he stepped  forward  now when  Polichinelle  had done. His  make-up
assisting  him to mask his bitter  feelings, he  professed to add his own to
Polichinelle's acclamations of  his dear partner. But  he did it  in  such a
manner as to make it clear that what Scaramouche had done, he had done by M.
Binet's favour,  and  that in all  M. Binet's  had been the guiding hand. In
associating himself with Polichinelle, he desired to thank Scaramouche, much
in the  manner  of  a lord  rendering  thanks  to  his steward for  services
diligently rendered and orders scrupulously carried out.
     It  neither  deceived the  troupe nor  mollified himself.  Indeed,  his
consciousness  of the mockery of it  but increased  his bitterness.  But  at
least it saved his  face  and rescued him from nullity -  he who  was  their
chief.
     To say, as I have said, that it did not deceive them, is perhaps to say
too much, for it  deceived them at least on the score of his  feelings. They
believed, after discounting the insinuations in which he  took all credit to
himself, that  at  heart he was filled  with gratitude, as  they  were. That
belief was shared by Andre-Louis himself,  who in his brief, grateful answer
was  very generous to M. Binet, more than endorsing the claims that M. Binet
had made.
     And  then followed  from  him  the  announcement that their  success in
Nantes  was the  sweeter  to him  because  it  rendered  almost  immediately
attainable  the dearest wish  of  his  heart, which was to  make Climene his
wife.  It was a felicity of which  he was the first to acknowledge his utter
unworthiness. It was  to bring him into still closer relations with his good
friend M. Binet, to whom he owed all  that he  had achieved for himself  and
for  them. The  announcement  was  joyously received,  for the world of  the
theatre loves a lover as dearly as does the greater world. So they acclaimed
the  happy pair,  with the exception of poor Leandre,  whose eyes were  more
melancholy than ever.
     They were a happy family that night in  the upstairs room of their  inn
on the Quai La Fosse - the same inn from  which Andre-Louis had set out some
weeks ago to  play a vastly different role before an audience of Nantes. Yet
was it so different, he wondered? Had he not then been a sort of Scaramouche
- an intriguer, glib and specious, deceiving folk, cynically misleading them
with opinions that were not really his own? Was it at all surprising that he
should have  made  so  rapid and  signal  a success as a mime?  Was not this
really all  that he had ever  been, the thing for which Nature had  designed
him?
     On the following night they played "The Shy Lover" to a full house, the
fame of  their  debut  having  gone abroad,  and  the  success of Monday was
confirmed.  On Wednesday  they  gave "Figaro-Scaramouche,"  and on  Thursday
morning the  "Courrier Nantais" came  out with an  article of  more  than  a
column  of praise of these brilliant improvisers, for  whom it  claimed that
they utterly put to shame the mere reciters of memorized parts.
     Andre-Louis, reading the sheet at breakfast, and having no delusions on
the score of  the falseness of that statement, laughed inwardly. The novelty
of  the thing, and the  pretentiousness in which  he had  swaddled  it,  had
deceived them finely. He turned to  greet Binet and Climene, who entered  at
that moment. He waved the sheet above his head.
     "It is settled," he announced, "we stay in Nantes until Easter."
     "Do we?" said Binet, sourly. "You settle everything, my friend."
     "Read for yourself." And he handed him the paper.
     Moodily M. Binet read. He set the sheet down in silence, and turned his
attention to his breakfast.
     "Was I  justified  or not?"  quoth  Andre-Louis, who  found M.  Binet's
behaviour a thought intriguing.
     "In what?"
     "In coming to Nantes?"
     "If I had not thought so, we should not have come," said Binet,  and he
began to eat.
     Andre-Louis dropped the subject, wondering.
     After breakfast  he and Climene sallied forth to  take the air upon the
quays. It was a day of brilliant sunshine and less  cold than  it had lately
been.  Columbine  tactlessly joined them as they were setting out, though in
this respect  matters were  improved a  little when Harlequin  came  running
after them, and attached himself to Columbine.
     Andre-Louis, stepping  out ahead  with Climene, spoke of the thing that
was uppermost in his mind at the moment.
     "Your father is behaving very oddly towards me," said he. "It is almost
as if he had suddenly become hostile."
     "You imagine it," said she. "My father is very grateful  to you, as  we
all are."
     "He is anything but grateful. He is infuriated against me; and I  think
I know the reason. Don't you? Can't you guess?"
     "I can't, indeed."
     "If you were my daughter, Climene, which  God be thanked you are not, I
should feel aggrieved against the man who carried you away from me. Poor old
Pantaloon! He  called me a corsair when I  told him  that I  intend to marry
you."
     "He was right. You are a bold robber, Scaramouche."
     "It  is in the character," said he. "Your father believes in having his
mimes play upon the stage the parts that suit their natural temperaments."
     "Yes, you take everything you  want, don't you?" She  looked up at him,
half adoringly, half shyly.
     "If  it  is possible," said he. "I took his consent to our  marriage by
main  force from him.  I never waited for him to give  it. When, in fact, he
refused  it, I just snatched it  from him,  and I'll defy him  now to win it
back from me. I think that is what he most resents."
     She laughed, and launched upon an animated answer. But  he did not hear
a word of  it. Through the  bustle of traffic  on the quay  a cabriolet, the
upper half of which was almost entirely made of glass,  had approached them.
It was  drawn by two magnificent bay horses and driven by a superbly livened
coachman.
     In  the cabriolet alone sat a slight young  girl wrapped in  a lynx-fur
pelisse, her  face of a  delicate loveliness.  She  was leaning forward, her
lips  parted, her eyes devouring Scaramouche until they drew  his gaze. When
that happened, the shock of it brought him abruptly to a dumfounded halt.
     Climene, checking in  the  middle of  a  sentence, arrested  by his own
sudden stopping, plucked at his sleeve.
     "What is it, Scaramouche?"
     But he made no attempt to answer her, and  at that moment the coachman,
to whom  the little lady  had  already signalled, brought the  carriage to a
standstill beside them. Seen in the gorgeous setting of that coach  with its
escutcheoned panels, its portly coachman and  its white-stockinged footman -
who  swung instantly to  earth as the  vehicle stopped - its dainty occupant
seemed  to Climene a princess out of a  fairy-tale. And this princess leaned
forward, with eyes aglow and cheeks aflush, stretching out a choicely gloved
hand to Scaramouche.
     "Andre-Louis!" she called him.
     And Scaramouche took the  hand of that exalted  being, just as he might
have taken the hand of Climene  herself,  and  with eyes  that reflected the
gladness of her own, in a voice  that echoed the joyous surprise of hers, he
addressed her familiarly by name, just as she had addressed him.
     "Aline!"




     "The door," Aline commanded  her  footman,  and "Mount here beside me,"
she commanded Andre-Louis, in the same breath.
     "A moment, Aline."
     He turned to his companion, who was all amazement, and to Harlequin and
Columbine, who  had  that  moment come  up  to  share  it. "You  permit  me,
Climene?"  said he,  breathlessly.  But  it  was  more  a  statement than  a
question.  "Fortunately you are  not alone. Harlequin will take care of you.
Au revoir, at dinner."
     With that he sprang into the cabriolet without waiting for a reply. The
footman  dosed  the  door,  the  coachman  cracked his  whip, and the  regal
equipage rolled  away along the  quay,  leaving the  three comedians staring
after it, open-mouthed... Then Harlequin laughed.
     "A prince in disguise, our Scaramouche!" said he.
     Columbine clapped her hands and flashed her  strong teeth.  "But what a
romance for you, Climene! How wonderful!"
     The  frown  melted  from  Climene's   brow.   Resentment   changed   to
bewilderment.
     "But who is she?"
     "His sister, of course," said Harlequin, quite definitely.
     "His sister? How do you know?"
     "I know what he will tell you on his return."
     "But why?"
     "Because you wouldn't believe him if he said she was his mother."
     Following the  carriage with  their  glance, they  wandered on  in  the
direction  it   had  taken.  And  in  the  carriage  Aline  was  considering
Andre-Louis  with grave  eyes, lips slightly compressed, and  a  tiny  frown
between her finely drawn eyebrows.
     "You have taken to queer  company, Andre," was the first thing she said
to him.  "Or else I am mistaken in thinking  that  your companion  was Mlle.
Binet of the Theatre Feydau."
     "You are not mistaken.  But I  had  not imagined Mlle. Binet  so famous
already."
     "Oh, as to  that... " mademoiselle shrugged, her tone quietly scornful.
And she  explained. "It  is  simply  that  I  was at the play  last night. I
thought I recognized her."
     "You were at the Feydau last night? And I never saw you!"
     "Were you there, too?"
     "Was  I there!"  he cried. Then he  checked,  and abruptly  changed his
tone. "Oh, yes,  I was there," he said, as commonplace as he could, beset by
a  sudden reluctance  to avow that he had  so  willingly descended to depths
that she must account unworthy, and  grateful that  his disguise of face and
voice should have proved impenetrable even to one who knew him so very well.
     "I  understand,"  said  she,  and compressed  her  lips a  little  more
tightly.
     "But what do you understand?"
     "The  rare  attractions of Mlle.  Binet. Naturally you would be  at the
theatre. Your tone conveyed it very clearly. Do you know that you disappoint
me, Andre? It is stupid of me, perhaps; it  betrays, I suppose, my imperfect
knowledge of your sex. I am aware  that  most young men of  fashion  find an
irresistible attraction  for creatures who parade themselves upon the stage.
But I did not expect you  to ape the ways of a man of fashion. I was foolish
enough to imagine you to be different; rather above such trivial pursuits. I
conceived you something of an idealist."
     "Sheer flattery."
     "So  I  perceive. But you misled me. You talked so  much morality  of a
kind, you  made  philosophy so readily, that I came to be deceived. In fact,
your hypocrisy was  so  consummate that I never suspected it. With your gift
of acting I wonder that you haven't joined Mlle. Binet's troupe."
     "I have," said he.
     It had really become necessary to tell her, making choice of the lesser
of the two evils with which she confronted him.
     He  saw  first  incredulity,  then  consternation,  and lastly  disgust
overspread her face.
     "Of  course," said  she,  after  a  long  pause, "that  would  have the
advantage of bringing you closer to your charmer."
     "That  was  only one of  the  inducements. There was  another.  Finding
myself  forced  to  choose between  the  stage and the gallows,  I  had  the
incredible weakness to prefer  the former. It was utterly unworthy  of a man
of  my lofty ideals, but - what would you? Like other ideologists, I find it
easier to preach than to practise. Shall  I stop the carriage and remove the
contamination of my disgusting person? Or shall I tell you how it happened?"
     "Tell me how it happened first. Then we will decide."
     He  told  her how  he met  the  Binet Troupe, and how  the men  of  the
marechaussee forced  upon him  the discovery that in its  bosom he could lie
safely lost until the hue and  cry had died  down. The explanation dissolved
her iciness.
     "My poor Andre, why didn't you tell me this at first?"
     "For one thing, you didn't give me time; for another, I feared to shock
you with the spectacle of my degradation."
     She took  him seriously. "But where was the need of it? And why did you
not send us word as I required you of your whereabouts?"
     "I  was thinking of  it only yesterday. I  have  hesitated for  several
reasons."
     "You thought it would offend us to know what you were doing?"
     "I  think  that  I preferred to  surprise  you by  the  magnitude of my
ultimate achievements."
     "Oh, you are to become a great actor?" She was frankly scornful.
     "That  is not impossible.  But  I am more concerned to  become  a great
author.  There is  no  reason  why  you  should  sniff.  The calling  is  an
honourable one. All  the world is proud to know such men as Beaumarchais and
Chenier."
     "And you hope to equal them?"
     "I hope  to  surpass them, whilst  acknowledging that it  was they  who
taught me how to walk. What did you think of the play last night?"
     "It was amusing and well conceived."
     "Let me present you to the author."
     "You? But the company is one of the improvisers."
     "Even improvisers  require an author to write their  scenarios. That is
all I write at present. Soon I shall be writing plays in the modern manner."
     "You  deceive yourself, my poor Andre. The  piece last night would have
been nothing without the players. You are fortunate in your Scaramouche."
     "In confidence - I present you to him."
     "You - Scaramouche? You?" She turned to regard him fully. He smiled his
close-lipped smile that made wrinkles  like gashes in his cheeks. He nodded.
"And I didn't recognize you!"

     "I thank  you for the  tribute.  You imagined, of course,  that I was a
scene-shifter. And now that you  know all about me,  what of Gavrillac? What
of my godfather?"
     He  was  well,  she  told  him,  and  still profoundly  indignant  with
Andre-Louis for his defection, whilst secretly concerned on his behalf.
     "I shall write to him to-day that I have seen you."
     "Do so. Tell him that I am well and prospering. But say no more. Do not
tell him what  I am doing. He  has his prejudices too. Besides, it might not
be prudent. And now the question  I  have been  burning  to ask ever since I
entered your carriage. Why are you in Nantes, Aline?"
     "I am on a visit to my  aunt, Mme. de Sautron.  It was  with her that I
came to the play yesterday. We have been dull at the chateau; but it will be
different now. Madame my aunt  is receiving several guests to-day. M. de  La
Tour d'Azyr is to be one of them."
     Andre-Louis frowned and sighed. "Did  you ever  hear,  Aline, how  poor
Philippe de Vilmorin came by his end?"
     "Yes; I  was  told, first by my uncle; then  by  M. de  La Tour d'Azyr,
himself."
     "Did not that help you to decide this marriage question?"
     "How could it? You forget that I am but a woman. You don't expect me to
judge between men in matters such as these?"
     "Why not? You are well able to do so. The more since you have heard two
sides. For my godfather would tell you the truth. If you cannot judge, it is
that  you do not wish to judge." His tone became  harsh. "Wilfully you close
your  eyes  to  justice  that  might  check  the course  of  your unhealthy,
unnatural ambition."
     "Excellent!"  she  exclaimed, and  considered him  with  amusement  and
something else.  "Do you know that you are almost droll? You rise unblushing
from  the dregs of life in which I find you, and  shake off the  arm of that
theatre girl, to come and preach to me."
     "If these  were the dregs of life  I might  still speak  from  them  to
counsel you out of my respect and devotion  ,Aline."  He was very stiff  and
stern. "But they are  not the dregs of life. Honour and virtue are  possible
to  a  theatre  girl;  they  are impossible  to a lady who sells herself  to
gratify  ambition;  who for  position,  riches, and  a great  title  barters
herself in marriage."
     She looked at him breathlessly.  Anger turned her pale. She reached for
the cord.
     "I  think  I  had  better let you alight  so that  you may go  back  to
practise virtue and honour with your theatre wench."
     "You shall not speak so of her, Aline."
     "Faith,  now  we are to have  heat on  her behalf.  You think I am  too
delicate? You think I should speak of her as a... "
     "If you must speak of her at all," he interrupted, hotly, "you'll speak
of her as my wife."
     Amazement smothered her anger. Her pallor deepened. "My God!" she said,
and looked at him in horror. And in horror she asked him presently: "You are
married - married to that -?"
     "Not yet. But I shall be, soon. And let me tell you that this girl whom
you visit with your ignorant contempt is as good and pure as you are, Aline.
She has  wit and talent  which  have placed her where she is and shall carry
her  a  deal  farther. And she has  the womanliness to be  guided by natural
instincts in the selection of her mate."
     She was trembling with passion. She tugged the cord.
     "You  will  descend  this  instant!" she told him fiercely.  "That  you
should dare to make a comparison between me and that... "
     "And  my  wife-to-be,"  he  interrupted, before  she  could  speak  the
infamous  word.  He  opened  the  door  for himself without waiting for  the
footman,  and  leapt down.  "My  compliments,"  said he, furiously,  "to the
assassin you are to marry." He slammed  the door.  "Drive on," he  bade  the
coachman.
     The carriage rolled away  up the  Faubourg Gigan, leaving  him standing
where he had alighted, quivering with rage. Gradually, as he  walked back to
the inn, his anger cooled. Gradually, as he cooled,  he perceived  her point
of view, and in  the end forgave her. It was not her fault that she  thought
as she thought.  Her rearing had been  such as to  make  her look upon every
actress as  a trull, just as it  had qualified her  calmly to  consider  the
monstrous marriage of convenience into which she was invited.
     He  got back to the inn to find the company at table. Silence fell when
he entered, so suddenly that of necessity it must be supposed he was himself
the subject of the conversation. Harlequin and Columbine had spread the tale
of this  prince in  disguise caught up  into the chariot of  a princess  and
carried off by her; and it was a tale that had lost nothing in the telling.
     Climene had  been silent and thoughtful, pondering what  Columbine  had
called  this romance of  hers. Clearly her Scaramouche must be  vastly other
than he had  hitherto appeared,  or else that great lady  and he would never
have used such familiarity with each other. Imagining him no  better than he
was, Climene had made him her own. And now she was to  receive the reward of
disinterested affection.
     Even  old Binet's  secret  hostility towards  Andre-Louis melted before
this  astounding  revelation.  He  had  pinched  his  daughter's  ear  quite
playfully. "Ah, ah, trust you to have penetrated his disguise, my child!"
     She shrank resentfully from that implication.
     "But I did not. I took him for what he seemed."
     Her father  winked  at her very solemnly and laughed.  "To be sure, you
did. But like your father, who was  once  a gentleman, and knows the ways of
gentlemen, you detected in him a  subtle something different from those with
whom  misfortune  has compelled you hitherto to  herd. You knew as well as I
did  that he  never  caught  that trick of haughtiness,  that  grand  air of
command, in a lawyer's musty office, and that his speech had hardly the ring
or his thoughts the complexion of the bourgeois that he pretended to be. And
it was shrewd of  you to have made  him yours. Do you  know that I shall  be
very proud of you yet, Climene?"
     She moved away without  answering. Her father's  oiliness offended her.
Scaramouche was clearly a great gentleman, an eccentric if you please, but a
man  born.  And she was to be his  lady. Her father must learn to  treat her
differently.
     She looked shyly - with a new shyness - at her lover when he  came into
the room where  they were dining. She observed for the first time that proud
carriage of the head, with the chin thrust forward, that was a trick of his,
and she noticed with what a grace he moved
     -  the  grace  of  one  who  in youth has had his  dancing-masters  and
fencing-masters.
     It almost hurt her when he flung himself into a chair and  exchanged  a
quip with Harlequin  in the  usual  manner as with an equal, and it offended
her still more that Harlequin, knowing what he now knew, should use him with
the same unbecoming familiarity.




     "Do you  know," said Climene, "that I am  waiting  for the  explanation
which I think you owe me?"
     They  were  alone together,  lingering  still  at  the  table to  which
Andre-Louis had come belatedly, and  Andre-Louis was loading himself a pipe.
Of  late - since  joining  the Binet Troupe - he had acquired the  habit  of
smoking.  The  others had gone, some to  take the air and others, like Binet
and Madame, because  they felt that it were  discreet  to leave those two to
the explanations that must pass. It  was  a feeling that Andre-Louis did not
share. He kindled a light and leisurely applied it to his pipe. A frown came
to settle on his brow.
     "Explanation?" he questioned presently, and looked at her. "But on what
score?"
     "On the score of the deception you have practised on us - on me."
     "I have practised none," he assured her.
     "You mean  that  you  have simply  kept your own  counsel, and  that in
silence  there is  no  deception.  But  it  is  deceitful  to withhold facts
concerning yourself and your  true station from your future wife. You should
not have pretended to be a  simple country lawyer, which, of course, any one
could see that you  are not. It may have been  very  romantic, but... Enfin,
will you explain?"
     "I see," he said, and pulled at his  pipe. "But you are wrong, Climene.
I have  practised no deception. If there are things about me that I have not
told you, it is that I  did  not account them of much importance. But I have
never  deceived you by pretending to be  other than  I am. I am neither more
nor less than I have represented myself."
     This  persistence began to annoy her, and the  annoyance  showed on her
winsome face, coloured her voice.
     "Ha! And  that fine lady of the nobility with whom you are so intimate,
who carried you off in her cabriolet with so little ceremony towards myself?
What is she to you?"
     "A sort of sister," said he.
     "A  sort of sister!"  She was  indignant. "Harlequin  foretold that you
would say so; but he was amusing himself. It  was not very funny. It is less
funny still from you. She has a name, I suppose, this sort of sister?"
     "Certainly she has a  name. She is Mlle.  Aline de Kercadiou, the niece
of Quintin de Kercadiou, Lord of Gavrillac."
     "Oho! That's  a sufficiently fine  name for your sort  of sister.  What
sort of sister, my friend?"
     For the first time in their relationship he observed  and  deplored the
taint of vulgarity, of shrewishness, in her manner.
     "It would have been more accurate in  me to have said a sort of reputed
left-handed cousin."
     "A  reputed left-handed cousin! And what  sort of relationship may that
be? Faith, you dazzle me with your lucidity."
     "It requires to be explained."
     "That is what I have been telling you. But you seem very reluctant with
your explanations."
     "Oh, no. It is only that they are so unimportant. But be you the judge.
Her  uncle,  M. de  Kercadiou, is  my godfather,  and  she  and I have  been
playmates  from  infancy as  a consequence.  It  is  popularly  believed  in
Gavrillac that  M. de Kercadiou is my father. He has certainly cared  for my
rearing from my tenderest years, and it is entirely owing to him  that I was
educated  at  Louis  le Grand. I  owe  to him  everything that I have -  or,
rather, everything  that  I had;  for of my own free  will I have cut myself
adrift, and to-day I possess nothing save what I  can earn for myself in the
theatre or elsewhere."
     She sat stunned and pale under  that cruel  blow to her swelling pride.
Had he told  her  this but yesterday, it  would have made no impression upon
her,  it  would  have mattered not  at all;  the event of to-day coming as a
sequel would but have  enhanced him  in her eyes.  But coming now, after her
imagination had woven for him so magnificent a  background, after the rashly
assumed discovery of  his  splendid identity had  made her the envied of all
the company,  after  having  been in her  own  eyes and theirs  enshrined by
marriage with  him  as a great lady,  this disclosure crushed and humiliated
her.  Her prince in disguise  was merely  the outcast  bastard of a  country
gentleman! She would  be the laughing-stock of every member of her  father's
troupe,  of  all  those who had so  lately  envied  her this  romantic  good
fortune.
     "You should have told me this before,"  she said, in a  dull voice that
she strove to render steady.
     "Perhaps I should. But does it really matter?"
     "Matter?" She  suppressed  her fury  to  ask another question. "You say
that  this  M. de  Kercadiou is popularly believed to  be your father.  What
precisely do you mean?"
     "Just that. It is a  belief that I  do  not  share. It is  a matter  of
instinct,  perhaps,  with  me.  Moreover,  once  I  asked  M.  de  Kercadiou
point-blank, and I received from him a denial.  It is not, perhaps, a denial
to  which one would attach too much importance in all the circumstances. Yet
I have never known M de Kercadiou for other than  a man of strictest honour,
and I should hesitate to disbelieve him
     -  particularly when  his statement  leaps  with  my own instincts.  He
assured me that he did not know who my father was."
     "And your mother,  was he equally ignorant?" She was  sneering, but  he
did not remark it. Her back was to the light.
     "He would not disclose  her name  to me. He confessed her to be a  dear
friend of his."
     She startled him by laughing, and her laugh was not pleasant.
     "A very dear friend, you  may be sure, you simpleton. What name do  you
bear?"
     He restrained his own rising indignation to answer her question calmly:
"Moreau. It was given me, so I am told, from the Brittany village in which I
was born.  But I have  no claim to it. In fact I have no name,  unless it be
Scaramouche, to  which I have earned a title. So that  you see, my dear," he
ended with a smile, "I have practised no deception whatever."
     "No, no. I see  that now." She laughed without mirth,  then drew a deep
breath and rose. "I am very tired," she said.
     He was on his feet in an  instant,  all solicitude.  But she waved  him
wearily back.
     "I think I will  rest until it is time to go to the theatre." She moved
towards  the door, dragging her feet a little. He sprang to open it, and she
passed out without looking at him.
     Her  so  brief romantic  dream was ended. The  glorious  world of fancy
which in the last hour she had built with such elaborate  detail, over which
it should be her  exalted destiny to rule, lay shattered about her feet, its
debris so many stumbling-blocks that prevented her from  winning back to her
erstwhile content in Scaramouche as he really was.
     Andre-Louis  sat in the  window embrasure, smoking and looking idly out
across the river.  He  was intrigued and meditative. He had shocked her. The
fact was clear; not  so the  reason. That he should confess himself nameless
should not particularly injure him  in the eyes of a girl  reared  amid  the
surroundings that  had been  Climene's. And yet that  his confession had  so
injured him was fully apparent.
     There, still at his  brooding, the returning Columbine discovered him a
half-hour later.
     "All alone, my prince!" was her laughing greeting, which suddenly threw
light upon his mental  darkness. Climene had been disappointed of hopes that
the wild imagination of these players had suddenly erected upon the incident
of his meeting with Aline. Poor child! He smiled whimsically at Columbine.
     "I am likely to be so for some little time," said he, "until it becomes
a commonplace that I am not, after all, a prince.
     "Not a prince? Oh, but a duke, then - at least a marquis."
     "Not even a chevalier, unless it be  of the order of fortune. I am just
Scaramouche. My castles are all in Spain."
     Disappointment clouded the lively, good-natured face.
     "And I had imagined you... "
     "I know," he interrupted. "That is the mischief." He might  have gauged
the extent of that mischief  by Climene's conduct that  evening  towards the
gentlemen of fashion who clustered now in the green-room between the acts to
pay their  homage to the  incomparable amoureuse.  Hitherto she had received
them with a circumspection compelling respect. To-night she  was  recklessly
gay, impudent, almost wanton.
     He spoke of it gently to her as  they walked home together, counselling
more prudence in the future.
     "We are not married yet," she told him, tartly. "Wait until then before
you criticize my conduct."
     "I trust that there will be no occasion then," said he.
     "You trust? Ah, yes. You are very trusting."
     "Climene, I have offended you. I am sorry."
     "It is  nothing," said she.  "You  are what you are. Still  was  he not
concerned.  He  perceived the  source of her ill-humour; understood,  whilst
deploring  it; and, because he  understood, forgave.  He perceived also that
her ill-humour  was shared by her father, and by this he was frankly amused.
Towards M.  Binet  a tolerant  contempt was the only feeling  that  complete
acquaintance could beget. As for the rest of the company, they were disposed
to be very kindly towards Scaramouche. It was almost as if in reality he had
fallen from the high estate to which their own  imaginations had raised him;
or  possibly it  was because they saw  the effect  which that fall from  his
temporary and fictitious elevation had produced upon Climene.
     Leandre alone made himself an exception. His habitual melancholy seemed
to  be   dispelled  at  last,  and  his  eyes  gleamed  now  with  malicious
satisfaction  when  they  rested  upon  Scaramouche,  whom  occasionally  he
continued to address with sly mockery as "mon prince."
     On the morrow Andre-Louis  saw but little  of Climene. This was  not in
itself extraordinary, for he was very hard at work again, with  preparations
now for "Figaro-Scaramouche" which was to  be  played on  Saturday. Also, in
addition to  his manifold  theatrical occupations,  he  now devoted an  hour
every morning to the study of fencing  in an academy of arms. This  was done
not only to  repair an omission in his education, but  also, and chiefly, to
give  him  added grace and  poise  upon the  stage. He found his  mind  that
morning distracted by thoughts of both  Climene and Aline. And oddly  enough
it  was Aline  who provided the  deeper  perturbation. Climene's attitude he
regarded as  a passing phase  which need  not seriously  engage him. But the
thought of  Aline's conduct towards him kept rankling, and still more deeply
rankled the thought of her possible betrothal to M. de La Tour d'Azyr.
     This it  was that brought forcibly to his  mind the self-imposed but by
now half-forgotten  mission that he had made his own. He had boasted that he
would make the voice  which M. de La Tour  d'Azyr had sought to silence ring
through the length and breadth of the land. And what had he done of all this
that he had boasted? He had incited  the mob of Rennes and the mob of Nantes
in such  terms  as poor Philippe might have employed,  and then because of a
hue  and cry he had fled like a  cur and taken shelter in  the first  kennel
that offered,  there  to lie  quiet and  devote himself  to  other things  -
self-seeking  things.  What  a  fine  contrast  between the promise  and the
fulfilment!
     Thus Andre-Louis to himself in his self-contempt. And whilst he trifled
away his time and played Scaramouche, and centred all his hopes in presently
becoming the rival of such men as Chenier and Mercier, M. de  La Tour d'Azyr
went his proud ways unchallenged and wrought his  will. It was idle  to tell
himself that the seed he had sown was bearing fruit. That the demands he had
voiced in Nantes  for the Third Estate had been granted by M. Necker, thanks
largely to the  commotion which his anonymous speech had made. That  was not
his concern or his  mission. It was no part  of his concern to set about the
regeneration of mankind, or even the regeneration of the social structure of
France. His  concern  was to  see  that  M. de La Tour d'Azyr  paid  to  the
uttermost  liard for the brutal wrong he  had done Philippe de Vilmorin. And
it did not increase his self-respect to find that the danger in  which Aline
stood of being married to  the Marquis was the real spur  to his rancour and
to  remembrance  of his vow. He  was  - too  unjustly, perhaps - disposed to
dismiss  as  mere sophistries  his own  arguments that  there was nothing he
could do;  that, in fact, he had but to  show his head to find himself going
to Rennes  under arrest and making his  final exit from the world's stage by
way of the gallows.
     It is impossible to read that part of his "Confessions" without feeling
a  certain pity  for him. You realize what must have been his state of mind.
You realize what a prey he was to emotions  so conflicting, and  if you have
the imagination that will enable you to put yourself  in his place, you will
also realize how impossible was any  decision  save the one to which he says
he came, that he would move,  at the  first moment that he perceived in what
direction it would serve his real aims to move.
     It happened that the first person he saw when he took the stage on that
Thursday evening was Aline;  the second was the Marquis de La  Tour  d'Azyr.
They occupied a box on the right of, and immediately above, the stage. There
were  others  with them  - notably a  thin,  elderly, resplendent lady  whom
Andre-Louis supposed to be Madame la Comtesse de Sautron. But at the time he
had no eyes for  any but those two, who of late had so haunted his thoughts.
The sight of either of  them would have been sufficiently disconcerting. The
sight of both together very nearly made him  forget the purpose for which he
had come  upon  the stage. Then he pulled himself  together,  and played. He
played,  he says, with  an unusual nerve, and never  in  all  that brief but
eventful career of his was he more applauded.
     That was the evening's first shock. The next came after the second act.
Entering the green-room he found it more thronged than usual, and at the far
end with Climene, over whom  he was  bending from his fine height,  his eyes
intent  upon  her face, what time  his smiling lips moved in talk, M. de  La
Tour d'Azyr. He had  her entirely to himself, a privilege none of the men of
fashion  who  were in the habit of visiting the coulisse  had  yet  enjoyed.
Those  lesser gentlemen  had all  withdrawn before the Marquis,  as  jackals
withdraw before the lion.
     Andre-Louis  stared  a  moment,  stricken.  Then  recovering  from  his
surprise he became critical  in his study of the Marquis. He considered  the
beauty  and  grace and splendour  of him, his courtly air,  his complete and
unshakable self-possession. But more than  all he  considered the expression
of the dark eyes that were devouring Climene's lovely face, and his own lips
tightened.
     M.  de La  Tour d'Azyr  never heeded him or his stare; nor, had he done
so, would he  have known  who  it was that looked  at him  from  behind  the
make-up of Scaramouche; nor, again, had  he known, would he have been in the
least troubled or concerned.
     Andre-Louis sat down apart, his mind in  turmoil. Presently  he found a
mincing  young gentleman  addressing him,  and  made shift to  answer as was
expected.  Climene having been thus sequestered, and Columbine being already
thickly besieged by gallants, the lesser visitors had to  content themselves
with Madame and  the  male members of the troupe. M. Binet,  indeed, was the
centre of a gay cluster that shook with laughter at  his sallies.  He seemed
of  a sudden  to  have emerged from the gloom of the last two days into high
good-humour,  and  Scaramouche  observed  how  persistently  his  eyes  kept
flickering upon his daughter and her splendid courtier.
     That night  there, were high words between Andre-Louis and Climene, the
high  words  proceeding  from  Climene.  When  Andre-Louis  again,  and more
insistently, enjoined prudence upon  his betrothed, and begged her to beware
how far  she  encouraged the advances of such a man as M. de La Tour d'Azyr,
she became  roundly abusive. She shocked and stunned  him by her  virulently
shrewish tone, and her still more unexpected force of invective.
     He  sought to  reason with her, and  finally  she came to certain terms
with him.
     "If you have become betrothed to me  simply to stand as an obstacle  in
my path, the sooner we make an end the better."
     "You do not love me then, Climene?"
     "Love  has  nothing to do  with  it. I'll  not tolerate  your insensate
jealousy.  A girl in the theatre must make it her business  to accept homage
from all."
     "Agreed; and there is no harm, provided she gives nothing in exchange."
     White-faced, with flaming eyes she turned on him at that.
     "Now, what exactly do you mean?"
     "My meaning is clear.  A  girl in  your  position may  receive all  the
homage that is offered, provided she receives it with  a dignified aloofness
implying  clearly  that she has no favours  to  bestow  in return beyond the
favour of her smile. If  she is  wise  she will see to it that the homage is
always offered collectively  by her admirers, and that no single one amongst
them shall ever have the privilege of approaching her alone. If she is  wise
she  will  give no encouragement, nourish no hopes that it may afterwards be
beyond her power to deny realization."
     "How? You dare?"
     "I  know  my world. And  I know M. de La Tour d'Azyr," he answered her.
"He is a  man without charity, without humanity almost; a man who takes what
he wants wherever he finds  it  and whether  it is given willingly or not; a
man who reckons nothing of the misery he scatters on his self-indulgent way;
a man  whose only law is force. Ponder it, Climene, and ask yourself if I do
you less than honour in warning you."
     He went out on that, feeling a degradation in continuing the subject.
     The days that followed  were unhappy days for him, and for at least one
other.  That other was Leandre, who  was cast into the profoundest dejection
by M. de La Tour d'Azyr's assiduous attendance upon Climene. The Marquis was
to be seen at every performance; a box was perpetually reserved for him, and
invariably he came either alone or else with his cousin M. de Chabrillane.
     On Tuesday of the following week, Andre-Louis went  out alone  early in
the  morning.  He was  out of  temper,  fretted by an  overwhelming sense of
humiliation,  and  he hoped  to  clear  his mind  by walking. In turning the
corner   of   the  Place   du  Bouffay   he  ran  into   a  slightly  built,
sallow-complexioned  gentleman  very  neatly dressed  in  black,  wearing  a
tie-wig under a  round hat. The  man fell back at sight of  him, levelling a
spy-glass, then hailed him in a voice that rang with amazement.
     "Moreau! Where the devil have you been hiding your-self these months?"
     It was Le Chapelier, the lawyer,  the leader of the Literary Chamber of
Rennes.
     "Behind the skirts of Thespis," said Scaramouche.
     "I don't understand."
     "I  didn't intend that you should. What of yourself, Isaac? And what of
the world which seems to have been standing still of late?"
     "Standing still!" Le Chapelier laughed. "But where have you been, then?
Standing still!" He pointed across  the square to a caf' under the shadow of
the gloomy prison. "Let us  go and drink a bavaroise. You are of all men the
man we want, the man we have been  seeking everywhere, and - behold!  -  you
drop from the skies into my path."
     They crossed the square and entered the caf'.
     "So  you  think the  world has been  standing  still! Dieu  de  Dieu! I
suppose you haven't heard  of the  royal order  for the  convocation of  the
States General, or the terms of them - that we are to have what we demanded,
what you demanded for  us here in  Nantes! You haven't heard that  the order
has gone forth for  the primary elections  - the elections of the  electors.
You haven't heard of the fresh uproar in  Rennes, last month. The order  was
that  the three  estates should  sit together  at the  States General of the
bailliages,  but  in  the  bailliage  of  Rennes  the  nobles  must ever  be
recalcitrant. They  took up arms actually  - six hundred of them with  their
valetaille, headed by  your  old friend M. de La Tour d'Azyr,  and they were
for slashing us - the members of the  Third  Estate - into ribbons  so as to
put an end to our insolence." He laughed delicately. "But, by God, we showed
them that we, too, could take up arms.  It  was what you yourself  advocated
here  in  Nantes,  last November.  We  fought them  a pitched battle  in the
streets, under the leadership of your namesake Moreau, the provost,  and  we
so peppered  them that  they  were  glad to take  shelter  in  the Cordelier
Convent. That is the end of their resistance to the royal authority  and the
people's will."
     He ran on at great speed detailing the events that had taken place, and
finally came to the matter which had, he announced, been causing him to hunt
for Andre-Louis until he had all but despaired of finding him.
     Nantes was  sending fifty delegates to the assembly of Rennes which was
to  select  the  deputies  to  the  Third Estate  and edit  their  cahier of
grievances. Rennes  itself  was  being  as  fully  represented, whilst  such
villages  as  Gavrillac were  sending two  delegates  for every two  hundred
hearths or less.  Each of these three had  clamoured that Andre-Louis Moreau
should be  one of its delegates. Gavrillac wanted him because he belonged to
the  village,  and it  was  known  there what sacrifices he had  made in the
popular  cause; Rennes wanted him because it  had heard his spirited address
on  the day  of  the  shooting of the students;  and  Nantes -  to  whom his
identity was  unknown - asked for him as the speaker who had  addressed them
under the name of Omnes Omnibus and  who  had framed for  them the  memorial
that was believed so largely to have influenced M. Necker in formulating the
terms of the convocation.
     Since he could not be found,  the delegations  had been made up without
him.  But  now it happened that one  or  two  vacancies had occurred in  the
Nantes representation;  and it was  the business  of filling these vacancies
that had brought Le Chapelier to Nantes.
     Andre-Louis firmly shook his head in answer to Le Chapelier's proposal.
     "You  refuse?" the  other  cried. "Are  you mad?  Refuse,  when you are
demanded from so  many sides?  Do  you realize that it is more than probable
you will be elected one of the deputies, that you will be sent to the States
General at Versailles to represent us in this work of saving France?"
     But  Andre-Louis, we know,  was  not  concerned to save  France. At the
moment he was concerned to save two women, both of whom he loved, though  in
vastly different ways, from a man he had vowed to ruin. He stood firm in his
refusal until Le Chapelier dejectedly abandoned the attempt to persuade him.
     "It is  odd,"  said Andre-Louis,  "that  I  should have been so  deeply
immersed  in  trifles  as  never  to  have perceived  that  Nantes is  being
politically active."
     "Active! My friend, it is a seething cauldron of political emotions. It
is kept quiet on the surface only by the persuasion that all goes well. At a
hint to the contrary it would boil over."
     "Would it  so?" said Scaramouche,  thoughtfully. "The knowledge may  be
useful."  And  then he changed the subject. "You know that La Tour d'Azyr is
here?"
     "In Nantes? He has  courage if he shows himself. They are not a  docile
people,  these  Nantais, and they know his record and  the part he played in
the rising  at  Rennes.  I  marvel they haven't  stoned him. But  they will,
sooner or later. It only needs that some one should suggest it."
     "That is  very  likely," said Andre-Louis, and smiled. "He doesn't show
himself  much;  not in the streets, at least. So that he has not the courage
you  suppose; nor any kind of  courage,  as  I  told him once.  He  has only
insolence."
     At parting Le Chapelier again exhorted  him to  give thought to what he
proposed.  "Send  me word if you change  your mind. I am lodged at the Cerf,
and  I shall be here  until the day  after to-morrow. If you have  ambition,
this is your moment."
     "I have no ambition, I suppose," said Andre-Louis, and went his way.
     That night at the theatre he  had a mischievous impulse to test what Le
Chapelier had told him of the state of public feeling in the city. They were
playing "The Terrible Captain," in the last act of which the empty cowardice
of the bullying braggart Rhodomont is revealed by Scaramouche.
     After the laughter which the exposure of the roaring captain invariably
produced, it remained for  Scaramouche  contemptuously to  dismiss him  in a
phrase that varied nightly, according to the inspiration of the moment. This
time he chose to give his phrase a political complexion:
     "Thus, 0 thrasonical coward, is your emptiness exposed. Because of your
long  length and the great sword you carry  and  the angle at which you cock
your hat,  people have  gone in  fear of you,,  have believed  in  you, have
imagined  you to  be  as terrible and as  formidable as you  insolently make
yourself  appear. But at the first touch  of true spirit you crumple up, you
tremble, you whine pitifully, and the great  sword remains in your scabbard.
You remind me of the Privileged Orders when confronted by the Third Estate."
     It was audacious  of him, and  he  was prepared for anything - a laugh,
applause, indignation, or all together.  But  he  was not prepared for  what
came. And it came so suddenly and spontaneously from the groundlings and the
body of those in the amphitheatre that he was almost scared by it - as a boy
may  be  scared who has held  a  match  to a sun-scorched hayrick. It was  a
hurricane of furious applause. Men leapt to their feet, sprang  up on to the
benches,  waving their hats in the air,  deafening  him  with  the  terrific
uproar of their acclamations. And it rolled  on and on, nor ceased until the
curtain fell.
     Scaramouche stood  meditatively smiling  with  tight lips.  At the last
moment he had caught a glimpse of M. de La Tour d'Azyr's face thrust farther
forward than usual from the shadows of  his box, and  it  was a  face set in
anger, with eyes on fire.
     "Mon Dieu!" laughed Rhodomont, recovering from the real scare that  had
succeeded his histrionic terror,  "but you have  a  great trick of  tickling
them in the right place, Scaramouche."
     Scaramouche  looked up  at  him  and  smiled.  "It can  be  useful upon
occasion," said he, and went off to his dressing-room to change.
     But a  reprimand awaited him. He was delayed  at the theatre by matters
concerned with the  scenery of the  new  piece they were  to mount upon  the
morrow. By the  time he was rid of the business the rest of the  company had
long since left.  He called a chair and had himself carried back to the  inn
in  solitary state.  It was one of  many  minor  luxuries his  comparatively
affluent present circumstances permitted.
     Coming into  that  upstairs room  that was common to all the troupe, he
found M. Binet talking loudly and vehemently. He  had caught sounds  of  his
voice whilst  yet upon the stairs. As  he entered Binet broke off short, and
wheeled to face him.
     "You are here  at  last!" It was so odd a greeting that Andre-Louis did
no more than look his mild  surprise. "I  await  your  explanations  of  the
disgraceful scene you provoked to-night."
     "Disgraceful? Is it disgraceful that the public should applaud me?"
     "The public? The  rabble, you mean.  Do you want  to deprive  us of the
patronage of all gentlefolk  by vulgar appeals  to the  low  passions of the
mob.?"
     Andre-Louis stepped past M. Binet and forward to the table. He shrugged
contemptuously. The man offended him, after all.
     "You exaggerate grossly - as usual."
     "I do not exaggerate.  And I am the master  in my  own theatre. This is
the Binet Troupe, and it shall be conducted in the Binet way."
     "Who are the gentlefolk the loss of whose patronage to the  Feydau will
be so poignantly felt?" asked Andre-Louis.
     "You imply that  there are none? See how wrong you are.  After the play
to-night M. le Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr came to me, and spoke to me  in the
severest terms  about your scandalous outburst.  I was  forced to apologize,
and... "
     "The  more fool you,"  said Andre-Louis. "A man  who respected  himself
would  have  shown  that gentleman  the  door."  M.  Binet's  face  began to
empurple. "You call  yourself the  head of the  Binet Troupe, you boast that
you will be master in your own theatre, and you  stand like a lackey to take
the orders of the first insolent fellow who comes to your green-room to tell
you that he does not  like a line spoken by one of your company! I say again
that had you really respected yourself you would have turned him out."
     There  was  a  murmur of approval from several members of  the company,
who, having heard the arrogant tone assumed by the Marquis, were filled with
resentment against the slur cast upon them all.
     "And  I say further,"  Andre-Louis went on,  "that a  man  who respects
himself,  on  quite other grounds, would  have  been only too  glad  to have
seized this pretext to show M. de La Tour d'Azyr the door."
     "What  do you  mean by that?" There was a  rumble  of  thunder  in  the
question.
     Andre-Louis'   eyes  swept   round   the  company   assembled   at  the
supper-table. "Where is Climene?" he asked, sharply.
     Leandre leapt  up to answer him, white in the face, tense and quivering
with excitement.
     "She left  the  theatre  in the Marquis de  La  Tour d'Azyr's  carriage
immediately  after the performance. We heard him offer to  drive her to this
inn."
     Andre-Louis  glanced  at the timepiece  on  the  overmantel. He  seemed
unnaturally calm.
     "That would be an hour ago - rather more. And she has not yet arrived?"
     His eyes sought M. Binet's. M. Binet's eyes eluded his glance. Again it
was Leandre who answered him.
     "Not yet."
     "Ah!" Andre-Louis sat down,  and  poured  himself  wine.  There was  an
oppressive silence in the room. Leandre watched  him  expectantly, Columbine
commiseratingly.  Even M.  Binet  appeared  to  be  waiting for  a  cue from
Scaramouche. But Scaramouche disappointed him. "Have you left me anything to
eat?" he asked.
     Platters were pushed towards him. He helped himself calmly to food, and
ate in silence, apparently with a good  appetite. M. Binet  sat down, poured
himself  wine, and  drank. Presently  he attempted to make conversation with
one and another. He was answered curtly,  in monosyllables. M. Binet did not
appear to be in favour with his troupe that night.
     At long length  came a rumble of wheels  below and a rattle  of halting
hooves. Then voices, the high, trilling laugh  of Climene floating  upwards.
Andre-Louis went on eating unconcernedly.
     "What an actor!" said Harlequin  under his breath to Polichinelle,  and
Polichinelle nodded gloomily.
     She came in,  a leading  lady taking the stage,  head high, chin thrust
forward,  eyes  dancing with  laughter; she expressed triumph and arrogance.
Her  cheeks  were  flushed,  and there  was some  disorder  in  the mass  of
nut-brown hair  that crowned her  head. In  her  left  hand she  carried  an
enormous bouquet of white camellias. On its middle finger a diamond of great
price drew almost at once by its effulgence the eyes of all.
     Her  father sprang  to  meet  her with an  unusual display  of paternal
tenderness. "At last, my child!"
     He conducted her to the table. She sank into a chair, a little wearily,
a little nervelessly,  but  the smile did  not leave her face, not even when
she glanced  across  at  Scaramouche.  It  was  only Leandre, observing  her
closely, with  hungry, scowling stare, who detected something as  of fear in
the hazel eyes momentarily seen between the fluttering of her lids.
     Andre-Louis, however, still went on eating stolidly, without so much as
a look in  her direction. Gradually the company came to realize that just as
surely as  a scene was  brooding, just so surely  would there be no scene as
long as they remained. It was Polichinelle, at  last, who gave the signal by
rising and withdrawing, and within two minutes none remained in the room but
M. Binet, his daughter, and Andre-Louis. And  then, at last, Andre-Louis set
down knife and  fork, washed his  throat with a draught of Burgundy, and sat
back in his chair to consider Climene.
     "I trust," said he, "that you had a pleasant ride, mademoiselle."
     "Most  pleasant,  monsieur.  Impudently   she  strove  to  emulate  his
coolness, but did not completely succeed.
     "And not unprofitable, if  I may judge that jewel  at this distance. It
should be worth at least a couple of hundred louis, and that is a formidable
sum even to  so  wealthy  a nobleman as M. de La  Tour  d'Azyr.  Would it be
impertinent in one  who has had some notion of becoming your husband, to ask
you, mademoiselle, what you have given him in return?"
     M.  Binet  uttered a  gross  laugh,  a  queer  mixture  of cynicism and
contempt.
     "I have given nothing," said Climene, indignantly.
     "Ah! Then the jewel is in the nature of a payment in advance."
     "My God, man, you're not decent!" M. Binet protested.
     "Decent?"  Andre-Louis' smouldering  eyes  turned to  discharge upon M.
Binet  such  a  fulmination  of  contempt  that the  old  scoundrel  shifted
uncomfortably in his chair. "Did you mention decency, Binet? Almost you make
me lose my temper,  which is a thing that I detest above all others!" Slowly
his  glance  returned to Climene, who sat with elbows on the table, her chin
cupped  in  her  palms, regarding  him  with  something  between  scorn  and
defiance.  "Mademoiselle," he said, slowly, "I desire you purely in your own
interests to consider whither you are going."
     "I am well able to consider it for myself, and to decide without advice
from you, monsieur."
     "And now you've got your answer," chuckled Binet. "I hope you like it."
     Andre-Louis  had paled a  little; there  was  incredulity in  his great
sombre eyes as they continued steadily to regard her. Of M. Binet he took no
notice.
     "Surely, mademoiselle, you cannot mean  that willingly,  with open eyes
and a  full  understanding of what you do, you would  exchange an honourable
wifehood for... for the thing that such men as M. de La Tour d'Azyr may have
in store for you?"
     M. Binet made a wide gesture, and swung to his daughter. "You hear him,
the mealy-mouthed prude!  Perhaps you'll believe  at last that marriage with
him  would  be the  ruin of you. He  would always be  there the inconvenient
husband - to mar your every chance, my girl."
     She tossed her lovely head  in  agreement with  her father  "I begin to
find him tiresome with his silly jealousies," she confessed. "As a husband I
am afraid he would be impossible."
     Andre-Louis felt a constriction of the heart. But - always the  actor -
he showed nothing of it. He laughed a little, not very pleasantly, and rose.
     "I bow to your choice, mademoiselle. I pray that you may not regret it"
     "Regret  it?"  cried M.  Binet.  He was  laughing, relieved to  see his
daughter at last  rid of  this suitor of whom  he had never  approved, if we
except those few hours when he really  believed him  to  be  an eccentric of
distinction. "And what shall she regret? That she accepted the protection of
a nobleman so powerful and wealthy  that  as a mere  trinket he  gives her a
jewel worth as much as an actress earns in a year at the Comedie Francaise?"
He got  up, and advanced towards Andre-Louis. His mood became  conciliatory.
"Come, come, my friend, no  rancour now. What the devil! You wouldn't  stand
in  the girl's way? You can't really blame her  for making this choice? Have
you thought what it means to her? Have you thought that under the protection
of such a gentleman there are no heights which she may not reach? Don't  you
see  the wonderful  luck  of it? Surely, if you're fond of her, particularly
being of a jealous temperament, you wouldn't wish it otherwise?"
     Andre-Louis looked at him in silence for a long moment. Then he laughed
again. "Oh, you are fantastic," he said. "You are  not real."  He turned  on
his heel and strode to the door.
     The action, and  more the contempt of his look, laugh, and  words stung
M. Binet to passion, drove out the conciliatoriness of his mood.
     "Fantastic,  are  we?"  he  cried,  turning  to  follow  the  departing
Scaramouche  with  his  little  eyes  that  now   were  inexpressibly  evil.
"Fantastic that we  should  prefer the  powerful  protection  of this  great
nobleman to marriage with beggarly, nameless bastard. Oh, we are fantastic!"
     Andre-Louis turned, his hand upon the door-handle. No," he said, "I was
mistaken. You are not  fantastic.  You are just vile - both of you."  And he
went out.




     Mlle. de Kercadiou walked with her  aunt in the bright morning sunshine
of a Sunday in March on the broad terrace of the Chateau de Sautron.
     For  one of  her natural sweetness of  disposition she  had been  oddly
irritable  of late,  manifesting  signs  of  a  cynical  worldliness,  which
convinced Mme. de  Sautron  more  than  ever that  her  brother  Quintin had
scandalously conducted the child's education. She appeared to  be instructed
in all the things  of which a girl is  better ignorant, and ignorant  of all
the things that a  girl should know. That at least  was the point of view of
Mme. de Sautron.
     "Tell  me, madame,"  quoth  Aline, "are  all  men beasts?"  Unlike  her
brother, Madame la Comtesse  was tall  and majestically built.  In  the days
before her marriage with  M. de Sautron,  ill-natured folk  described her as
the only  man in the family. She looked down now  from her noble height upon
her little niece with startled eyes.
     "Really, Aline, you have a trick of asking the  most disconcerting  and
improper questions."
     "Perhaps it is because I find life disconcerting and improper.
     "Life? A young girl should not discuss life."
     "Why not,  since  I  am  alive?  You  do  not  suggest  that  it  is an
impropriety to be alive?"
     "It is an impropriety for  a young unmarried  girl  to seek to know too
much  about life. As for your absurd  question about  men, when I remind you
that man  is the  noblest  work of  God,  perhaps you will consider yourself
answered."
     Mme. de Sautron did not invite a pursuance of the subject. But Mlle. de
Kercadiou's outrageous rearing had made her headstrong.
     "That  being so," said she,  will  you tell me  why  they find  such an
overwhelming attraction in the immodest of our sex?"
     Madame  stood still and raised shocked  hands. Then she looked down her
handsome, high-bridged nose.
     "Sometimes   -  often,  in   fact,  my  dear  Aline  -  you   pass  all
understanding.  I shall write to Quintin that the sooner you are married the
better it will be for all."
     "Uncle Quintin has left that matter to my own deciding," Aline reminded
her.
     "That," said  madame  with complete  conviction, "is the last  and most
outrageous of his  errors. Who ever heard of a girl being left to decide the
matter  of her own  marriage?  It is... indelicate  almost to expose  her to
thoughts of such things." Mme. de Sautron shuddered. "Quintin is a boor. His
conduct  is  unheard  of. That  M.  de La  Tour d'Azyr should parade himself
before you so that  you may make up your mind whether he  is the proper  man
for you!" Again she shuddered.  "It is of  a grossness, of... of a prurience
almost... Mon Dieu! When I married your uncle, all this was arranged between
our  parents. I first saw him when he came to  sign  the contract. I  should
have  died of  shame  had it  been otherwise. And that is how  these affairs
should be conducted."
     "You are no doubt right, madame. But  since that is not how my own case
is being conducted, you will forgive me if I deal with it apart from others.
M.  de La  Tour d'Azyr desires to marry me. He has been permitted to pay his
court. I should be glad to have him informed that he may cease to do so."
     Mme. de  Sautron stood still, petrified  by  amazement.  Her  long face
turned white; she seemed to breathe with difficulty.
     "But.., but.. what are you saying?" she gasped.
     Quietly Aline repeated her statement.
     "But this is outrageous! You cannot be permitted to play fast-and-loose
with  a gentleman of M.  le Marquis' quality! Why, it is little more  than a
week since you permitted him to be informed that you would become his wife!"
     "I did  so in  a moment of... rashness. Since then M. le  Marquis'  own
conduct has convinced me of my error."
     "But  - mon  Dieu!"  cried the Countess.  "Are you  blind  to the great
honour that is being paid you? M. le Marquis will make you the first lady in
Brittany. Yet, little fool  that you are, and greater  fool that Quintin is,
you trifle with  this  extraordinary  good fortune!  Let me  warn  you." She
raised an admonitory forefinger. "If  you continue in this stupid  humour M.
de La Tour d'Azyr  may definitely withdraw his offer and depart in justified
mortification."
     "That, madame, as I am endeavouring to convey to you,  is  what  I most
desire."
     "Oh, you are mad."
     "It may  be, madame, that I  am sane in preferring to  be guided  by my
instincts. It may be  even that I am justified in resenting that the man who
aspires  to  become  my husband  should  at the  same  time  be paying  such
assiduous homage to a wretched theatre girl at the Feydau."
     "Aline!"
     "Is it not true? Or perhaps you do not find  it strange  that M. de  La
Tour d'Azyr should so conduct himself at such a time?"
     "Aline, you are so extraordinary a mixture. At moments you shock me  by
the indecency of your expressions; at others you  amaze  me by the excess of
your  prudery. You have been brought up like  a  little bourgeoise, I think.
Yes, that is  it  - a little  bourgeoise. Quintin was always something of  a
shopkeeper at heart."
     "I  was  asking  your opinion  on the conduct of M. de La  Tour d'Azyr,
madame. Not on my own."
     "But it is an  indelicacy in you to observe such things.  You should be
ignorant of them, and I can't think  who is so... so unfeeling as to  inform
you. But  since you  are informed, at  least you should be modestly blind to
things  that  take  place  outside  the... orbit  of  a  properly  conducted
demoiselle."
     "Will they still be outside my orbit when I am married?"
     "If you are wise. You should remain without knowledge of them. It... it
deflowers  your  innocence.  I  would  not for the world that  M. de La Tour
d'Azyr should know you so extraordinarily instructed. Had you  been properly
reared in a convent this would never have happened to you."
     "But you do not answer me, madame!" cried Aline in despair. "It  is not
my chastity that is in question; but that of M. de La Tour d'Azyr."
     "Chastity!" Madame's  lips trembled  with horror. Horror overspread her
face. "Wherever did you learn that dreadful, that so improper word?"
     And  then  Mme. de Sautron did violence to  her feelings. She  realized
that here great  calm and prudence were  required. "My child, since you know
so much that you ought not to know, there can be no harm in my adding that a
gentleman must have these little distractions."
     "But why, madame? Why is it so?"
     "Ah, mon Dieu, you are asking me riddles of nature. It is so because it
is so. Because men are like that."
     "Because men are  beasts, you mean  - which is  what I began by  asking
you."
     "You are incorrigibly stupid, Aline."
     "You mean that  I do  not  see things  as you  do,  madame.  I  am  not
over-expectant as you appear to think; yet surely I have the right to expect
that whilst M. de La Tour d'Azyr is wooing me, he shall not be wooing at the
same time  a drab  of the theatre.  I feel that in  this  there is a  subtle
association of myself with that unspeakable creature which soils and insults
me. The Marquis is a dullard whose wooing  takes the form at best of stilted
compliments,  stupid and unoriginal. They  gain nothing  when they fall from
lips still warm from the contamination of that woman's kisses."
     So utterly  scandalized was  madame  that  for a  moment  she  remained
speechless. Then -
     "Mon Dieu!" she  exclaimed.  "I should never have suspected  you of  so
indelicate an imagination."
     "I cannot help it, madame. Each time his lips touch my fingers  I  find
myself thinking of the last object that  they touched. I  at once retire  to
wash my hands. Next time, madame, unless  you are good  enough to  convey my
message to him, I shall call for water and wash them in his presence."
     "But what am I  to  tell him?  How... in what words can I convey such a
message?" Madame was aghast.
     "Be  frank with him, madame.  It  is easiest in the end.  Tell him that
however impure may have been his  life in the past, however impure he intend
that it  shall be  in the  future,  he must  at  least study  purity  whilst
approaching with a view to marriage a virgin who is herself pure and without
stain."
     Madame recoiled,  and  put her hands to her ears, horror stamped on her
handsome face. Her massive bosom heaved.
     "Oh, how can you?" she panted.  "How can you  make use of such terrible
expressions? Wherever have you learnt them?"
     "In church," said Aline.
     "Ah, but in  church  many  things are said that... that  one would  not
dream of saying in the world. My dear child, how could I possibly say such a
thing to M. le Marquis? How could I possibly?"
     "Shall I say it?"
     "Aline!"
     "Well, there it  is," said Aline. "Something must be done to shelter me
from insult. I am utterly disgusted with M. le Marquis
     -  a disgusting  man.  And  however fine a  thing it  may be to  become
Marquise  de La Tour d'Azyr,  why, frankly,  I'd sooner marry a  cobbler who
practised decency."
     Such was her vehemence and obvious  determination that  Mme. de Sautron
fetched  herself  out of  her despair  to attempt persuasion. Aline  was her
niece, and such a marriage in the family would be to the credit of the whole
of it. At all costs nothing must frustrate it.
     "Listen, my dear," she said. "Let us  reason. M. le Marquis is away and
will not be back until to-morrow."
     "True. And I  know where he  has  gone - or at  least whom he  has gone
with. Mon Dieu, and the drab has a father and a lout of a fellow who intends
to make her his wife, and neither of them chooses to  do anything. I suppose
they agree with you, madame,  that  a great gentleman  must have his  little
distractions." Her  contempt was as scorching as a thing of fire.  "However,
madame, you were about to say?"
     "That on the day  after to-morrow you are returning to Gavrillac. M. de
La Tour d'Azyr will most likely follow at his leisure."
     "You mean when this dirty candle is burnt out?"
     "Call  it  what  you  will."  Madame,  you  see, despaired  by  now  of
controlling the impropriety  of her niece's expressions. "At Gavrillac there
will be no Mlle. Binet. This thing will be  in  the past. It  is unfortunate
that  he should have met her at such a moment. The chit is very  attractive,
after all. You cannot deny that. And you must make allowances."
     "M.  le Marquis formally proposed to me a  week ago. Partly  to satisfy
the wishes of  the  family,  and  partly...  "  She broke  off, hesitating a
moment, to resume on a  note of dull  pain, "Partly because it does not seem
greatly to matter whom I marry, I gave him my consent. That consent, for the
reasons I have given you, madame, I desire now definitely to withdraw."
     Madame  fell  into  agitation of the  wildest.  "Aline, I should  never
forgive you! Your uncle Quintin would be  in  despair. You do not know  what
you are saying, what a  wonderful thing you are refusing. Have you  no sense
of your position, of the station into which you were born?"
     "If I had not,  madame, I should have made an end long since. If I have
tolerated  this  suit for  a  single  moment,  it  is because  I realize the
importance  of  a suitable marriage  in  the worldly  sense.  But  I ask  of
marriage something more; and Uncle Quintin  has  placed the  decision  in my
hands."
     "God forgive him!" said madame. And then she hurried on: "Leave this to
me  now, Aline. Be  guided by me - oh,  be  guided  by  me!"  Her  tone  was
beseeching.  "I  will  take  counsel  with your  uncle  Charles. But  do not
definitely decide until this unfortunate affair has blown over. Charles will
know  how to arrange it. M. le  Marquis shall do penance, child,  since your
tyranny demands it; but not in sackcloth and ashes. you'll not ask so much?"
     Aline  shrugged. "I ask nothing  at  all," she said, which  was neither
assent nor dissent.
     So Mme.  de Sautron interviewed her husband, a slight, middle-aged man,
very aristocratic in appearance and gifted with a certain shrewd sense.  She
took with him precisely the tone that Aline had taken with herself and which
in  Aline  she  had found so disconcertingly indelicate.  She even  borrowed
several of Aline's phrases.
     The result was that on the Monday afternoon when at  last M. de La Tour
d'Azyr's returning berline  drove up to the  chateau, he  was  met by  M. le
Comte de Sautron who desired a word with him even before he changed.
     "Gervais,  you're a  fool,"  was  the  excellent opening made by  M. le
Comte.
     "Charles,  you  give me  no news,"  answered  M.  le Marquis. "Of  what
particular folly do you take the trouble to complain?"
     He flung  himself  wearily upon  a  sofa,  and  his  long graceful body
sprawling  there he looked up at his friend with a tired smile on that nobly
handsome pale face that seemed to defy the onslaught of age.
     "Of your last. This Binet girl."
     "That! Pooh! An incident; hardly a folly."
     "A folly -  at  such a time,"  Sautron  insisted. The  Marquis looked a
question. The  Count answered  it. "Aline," said he, pregnantly. "She knows.
How she knows I can't tell you, but she knows, and she is deeply offended."
     The smile perished on the Marquis' face. He gathered himself up.
     "Offended?" said he, and his voice was anxious.
     "But yes. You know what she is. You  know the ideals she has formed. It
wounds  her that at such a  time - whilst you  are here  for  the purpose of
wooing her -  you should at the same time be pursuing  this affair with that
chit of a Binet girl."
     "How do you know?" asked La Tour d'Azyr.
     "She has confided  in  her aunt. And  the poor child seems to have some
reason. She says she will not tolerate that you should come to kiss her hand
with  lips  that  are  still contaminated  from... Oh, you  understand.  You
appreciate the impression of such a  thing upon a pure, sensitive  girl such
as Aline. She said - I had better tell you - that the next time you kiss her
hand, she will call for water and wash it in your presence."
     The  Marquis'  face  flamed  scarlet.  He  rose. Knowing  his  violent,
intolerant spirit,  M.  de  Sautron was prepared for  an  outburst.  But  no
outburst  came. The Marquis turned away  from him,  and paced  slowly to the
window,  his head bowed, his hands behind his  back. Halted there he  spoke,
without turning, his voice was at once scornful and wistful.
     "You  are right,  Charles, I  am a fool - a wicked  fool!  I  have just
enough  sense left to perceive it. It is the way I have  lived, I suppose. I
have never known the need to deny myself anything  I  wanted." Then suddenly
he swung round, and  the outburst came. "But, my God, I want Aline as I have
never wanted  anything yet! I  think I should kill myself in rage if through
my folly I should have lost her." He struck his  brow with his hand. "I am a
beast!" he said. "I should  have known that if  that sweet saint got word of
these petty devilries of mine she would despise me; and I tell you, Charles,
I'd go through fire to regain her respect."
     "I hope it is to  be regained on easier terms," said  Charles; and then
to  ease  the situation which  began to  irk him by its solemnity, he made a
feeble joke. "It  is merely asked of you that you refrain from going through
certain  fires  that are not accounted  by mademoiselle of too  purifying  a
nature."
     "As to that Binet girl, it is finished - finished," said the Marquis.
     "I congratulate you. When did you make that decision?"
     "This moment. I would to God I had made it twenty-four hours ago. As it
is-" he shrugged - "why, twenty-four hours of her have been enough for me as
they would have been for any man - a mercenary, self-seeking  little baggage
with the soul of a trull. Bah!" He shuddered in disgust of himself and her.
     "Ah! That makes it easier for you," said M. de Sautron, cynically.
     Don't  say it, Charles.  It is not so. Had you been less of a fool, you
would have warned me sooner."
     "I may  prove to  have warned you soon enough  if you'll profit  by the
warning."
     "There is  no penance I will not do.  I  will prostrate myself  at  her
feet. I will  abase myself before her. I will  make confession in the proper
spirit  of contrition,  and  Heaven helping  me, I'll  keep to my purpose of
amendment for her sweet sake." He was tragically in earnest.
     To M.  de Sautron,  who had never  seen him  other than self-contained,
supercilious, and mocking, this was an amazing revelation. He shrank from it
almost; it  gave him the feeling of prying, of peeping through a keyhole. He
slapped his friend's shoulder.
     "My dear Gervais, here  is a magnificently romantic mood.  Enough said.
Keep to  it, and I  promise you that all will presently be well.  I will  be
your ambassador, and you shall have no cause to complain."
     "But may I not go to her myself?"
     "If you are wise you will at once efface yourself. Write to her  if you
will - make  your act of  contrition by letter. I will explain why you  have
gone without seeing her. I will tell her that you did so upon my advice, and
I will do it tactfully. I am a good diplomat, Gervais. Trust me."
     M. le Marquis raised his head, and showed a face that pain was searing.
He held out  his  hand. "Very well,  Charles. Serve me in this, and count me
your friend in all things."




     Leaving his host to  act  as his plenipotentiary with  Mademoiselle  de
Kercadiou, and to explain  to her that it was his  profound  contrition that
compelled him to  depart without  taking formal  leave  of  her, the Marquis
rolled away  from  Sautron  in a cloud of gloom. Twenty-four  hours  with La
Binet had  been more than  enough for a man of his fastidious and discerning
taste.  He  looked  back  upon the  episode with  nausea  -  the  inevitable
psychological  reaction -  marvelling  at himself  that until  yesterday  he
should have found her so desirable, and cursing himself that for the sake of
that  ephemeral  and   worthless  gratification  he  should  seriously  have
imperilled his chances of winning  Mademoiselle de Kercadiou to  wife. There
is, after all,  nothing very extraordinary in his  frame of mind, so that  I
need  not elaborate  it further. It resulted from the conflict  between  the
beast and the angel that go to make up the composition of every man.
     The  Chevalier  de  Chabrillane -  who in  reality occupied towards the
Marquis  a position  akin to that of gentleman-in-waiting -  sat opposite to
him  in  the enormous  travelling  berline. A  small folding table had  been
erected between them, and the Chevalier suggested piquet. But M. le  Marquis
was in no humour for cards. His thoughts absorbed him. As they were rattling
over the cobbles of  Nantes' streets, he remembered a promise to La Binet to
witness  her performance that night in "The Faithless Lover." And now he was
running away from her.  The thought was  repugnant to him on two scores.  He
was breaking his pledged word, and  he was acting  like  a coward. And there
was  more than that. He had led the mercenary little strumpet -  it was thus
he thought of her at present, and with some justice - to expect favours from
him  in addition  to the  lavish awards which  already he had made her.  The
baggage had almost sought to drive a  bargain with him as to  her future. He
was to take her to Paris, put her into her own furniture - as the expression
ran, and  still runs - and under  the shadow  of his powerful protection see
that the doors  of the great theatres of the capital should be opened to her
talents.  He  had  not -  he was thankful  to  reflect  - exactly  committed
himself. But neither had  he definitely refused her. It became necessary now
to  come to an understanding, since he  was compelled to choose  between his
trivial passion for her -  a passion quenched already - and his deep, almost
spiritual devotion to Mademoiselle de Kercadiou.
     His honour, he considered,  demanded  of  him  that  he should at  once
deliver  himself from  a false  position. La  Binet would make a  scene,  of
course; but he knew the proper specific to apply to hysteria of that nature.
Money, after all, has its uses.
     He pulled  the cord. The  carriage rolled to  a  standstill; a  footman
appeared at the door.
     "To the Theatre Feydau," said he.
     The footman  vanished  and  the berline  rolled  on. M.  de Chabrillane
laughed cynically.
     "I'll  trouble you  not to be amused,"  snapped the Marquis. "You don't
understand." Thereafter he explained himself. It was a rare condescension in
him. But, then, he could  not  bear  to be misunderstood  in such a  matter.
Chabrillane grew serious in reflection of the Marquis' extreme seriousness.
     "Why not write?" he suggested. "Myself, I confess that I should find it
easier.
     Nothing could  better have  revealed M. le  Marquis' state of mind than
his answer.
     "Letters  are liable  both to miscarriage  and  to misconstruction. Two
risks I will  not run. If she did not answer, I should never know  which had
been incurred. And  I shall have no peace of  mind  until I know that I have
set a term to this affair. The berline can wait while we are at the theatre.
We will go on afterwards. We will travel all night if necessary."
     "Peste!" said M. de Chabrillane with a grimace. But that was all.
     The great  travelling carriage drew  up at the  lighted portals of  the
Feydau,  and  M.  le  Marquis  stepped out.  He  entered  the  theatre  with
Chabrillane,  all  unconsciously  to  deliver  himself  into  the  hands  of
Andre-Louis.
     Andre-Louis was in a  state of exasperation produced by Climene's  long
absence  from  Nantes  in  the  company  of M. le  Marquis,  and fed by  the
unspeakable complacency with which  M.  Binet  regarded  that event of quite
unmistakable import.
     However much he might affect the frame of mind  of the stoics, and seek
to  judge  with  a  complete  detachment,  in  the  heart  and  soul of  him
Andre-Louis was tormented and revolted. It was not Climene he blamed. He had
been mistaken in her. She was just a poor weak vessel  driven helplessly  by
the first breath, however foul,  that promised her advancement. She suffered
from  the  plague  of  greed;  and  he  congratulated  himself  upon  having
discovered it before making her his wife. He felt for her now nothing but  a
deal of pity and some contempt.  The pity was begotten  of the  love she had
lately inspired in him. It  might be likened to the  dregs of love, all that
remained  after the potent wine of  it  had been  drained off. His anger  he
reserved for her father and her seducer.
     The thoughts that were  stirring in him on that Monday morning, when it
was discovered  that  Climene had not yet returned from her excursion of the
previous day  in the coach  of  M. le Marquis, were  already  wicked  enough
without the spurring they received from the distraught Leandre.
     Hitherto the attitude of each of these men  towards the  other had been
one of mutual contempt.  The phenomenon has frequently been observed in like
cases. Now, what appeared to be a common misfortune brought them into a sort
of alliance. So, at  least,  it seemed to  Leandre when he went in quest  of
Andre-Louis, who with apparent unconcern was smoking  a pipe  upon the  quay
immediately facing the inn.
     "Name of a pig!" said Leandre. "How can you take your ease and smoke at
such a time?"
     Scaramouche surveyed the sky.  "I  do not find it  too  cold," said he.
"The sun is shining. I am very well here."
     "Do I talk of the weather?" Leandre was very excited.
     "Of what, then?"
     "Of Climene, of course."
     "Oh! The lady has ceased to interest me," he lied.
     Leandre stood squarely  in front of him, a  handsome figure  handsomely
dressed in these days, his hair  well  powdered, his  stockings of silk. His
face was pale, his large eyes looked larger than usual.
     "Ceased  to  interest  you?  Are  you  not to  marry her?"  Andre-Louis
expelled a cloud  of smoke. "You cannot wish to be offensive. Yet you almost
suggest that I live on other men's leavings."
     "My God!" said  Leandre, overcome, and he  stared awhile. Then he burst
out afresh. "Are you quite heartless? Are you always Scaramouche?"
     "What do  you expect me to do?" asked Andre-Louis, evincing surprise in
his own turn, but faintly.
     "I do not expect you to let her go without a struggle."
     "But she  has  gone already."  Andre-Louis pulled at his pipe a moment,
what time Leandre clenched and unclenched his hands  in impotent  rage. "And
to  what  purpose struggle against the  inevitable? Did you struggle  when I
took her from you?"
     "She was not  mine to be taken from  me. I but aspired, and you won the
race.  But even had  it been  otherwise where is the comparison? That  was a
thing in honour; this - this is hell."
     His emotion  moved Andre-Louis.  He  took Leandre's arm. "You're a good
fellow, Leandre. I am glad I intervened to save you from your fate."
     "Oh, you don't love her!"  cried the other,  passionately.  "You  never
did. You don't  know what it means  to love, or you'd not talk like this. My
God! if she had been  my affianced wife and this had happened, I should have
killed the man - killed him!  Do you hear me? But you... Oh,  you, you  come
out here and smoke,  and  take  the  air,  and talk  of her as another man's
leavings. I wonder I didn't strike you for the word."
     He tore his arm from the other's grip, and looked almost as if he would
strike him now.
     "You should have done it," said Andre-Louis. "It's in your part."
     With  an imprecation  Leandre  turned  on  his heel to  go. Andre-Louis
arrested his departure.
     "A moment, my friend. Test me by yourself. Would you marry her now?"
     "Would I?"  The young man's eyes blazed with passion. "Would I? Let her
say that she will marry me, and I am her slave."
     "Slave is the right word - a slave in hell."
     "It would never  be hell to me where she  was, whatever she had done. I
love her, man, I am not like you. I love her, do you hear me?"
     "I have known, it  for some time,"  said Andre-Louis.  "Though I didn't
suspect your attack of the disease to be quite so violent. Well, God knows I
loved  her, too, quite enough to share your  thirst for killing. For myself,
the blue blood of La Tour d'Azyr would hardly  quench this  thirst. I should
like to add to it the dirty fluid that flows in the veins of the unspeakable
Binet."
     For  a  second  his emotion  had been out of hand, and  he revealed  to
Leandre in the mordant  tone of those last words something of the fires that
burned under his icy exterior. The young man caught him by the hand.
     "I knew you were acting," said he. "You feel - you feel as I do."
     "Behold  us, fellows in viciousness.  I have betrayed myself, it seems.
Well,  and what now? Do  you want to see this pretty  Marquis torn limb from
limb? I might afford you the spectacle."
     "What?"  Leandre  stared, wondering  was this another of  Scaramouche's
cynicisms.
     "It  isn't  really difficult provided  I  have aid. I  require  only  a
little. Will you lend it me?"
     "Anything you ask," Leandre exploded. "My life if you require it."
     Andre-Louis  took  his arm  again.  "Let  us  walk," he  said. "I  will
instruct you."
     When they came back the company was already at dinner. Mademoiselle had
not yet returned.  Sullenness presided at  the table.  Columbine and  Madame
wore anxious expressions. The fact was that relations between  Binet and his
troupe were daily growing more strained.
     Andre-Louis  and Leandre  went each  to his accustomed  place.  Binet's
little eyes followed them with a malicious gleam, his thick lips pouted into
a crooked smile.
     "You two are grown very friendly of a sudden," he mocked.
     "You are  a man  of discernment, Binet,"  said  Scaramouche,  the  cold
loathing of his voice itself an insult. "Perhaps you discern the reason?"
     "It is readily discerned."
     "Regale  the  company  with  it!"  he  begged; and  waited.  "What? You
hesitate? Is it possible that there are limits to your shamelessness?"
     Binet  reared  his  great  head.  "Do  you  want  to  quarrel  with me,
Scaramouche?" Thunder was rumbling in his deep, voice.
     "Quarrel? You  want to laugh. A man doesn't quarrel with creatures like
you. We all know the place held in the public esteem by complacent husbands.
But, in God's name, what place is there at all for complacent fathers?"
     Binet heaved himself up, a great towering mass of manhood. Violently he
shook off the restraining hand of Pierrot who sat on his left.
     "A  thousand  devils!" he  roared; "if you take that tone with me, I'll
break every bone in your filthy body."
     "If you were  to lay a finger on me, Binet, you would give me the  only
provocation I still need to kill you." Andre-Louis was as  calm as ever, and
therefore the more menacing. Alarm  stirred the company. He  protruded  from
his pocket the butt of a pistol - newly purchased. "I go armed, Binet. It is
only fair  to give you warning. Provoke me  as you  have suggested, and I'll
kill you with no more compunction than I should kill a slug, which after all
is the thing you most resemble - a slug, Binet; a fat, slimy  body; foulness
without soul and without intelligence. When  I come to think of  it I  can't
suffer to sit at table with you. It turns my stomach."
     He pushed away his platter and got up. "I'll go and eat at the ordinary
below stairs."
     Thereupon up jumped Columbine.
     "And I'll come with you, Scaramouche!" cried she.
     It acted like  a signal. Had  the thing been concerted it couldn't have
fallen out  more uniformly.  Binet, in fact, was  persuaded of a conspiracy.
For in  the  wake  of  Columbine  went Leandre,  in  the  wake  of  Leandre,
Polichinelle  and  then  all  the rest together,  until Binet  found himself
sitting alone  at the  head of an empty  table  in  an empty  room - a badly
shaken man whose rage could afford him no support against the dread by which
he was suddenly invaded.
     He sat down  to think things out,  and  he was still at that melancholy
occupation when perhaps  a half-hour later  his  daughter entered  the room,
returned at last from her excursion.
     She  looked  pale,  even  a  little  scared  - in  reality  excessively
self-conscious now that the ordeal of facing all the company awaited her.
     Seeing no one but her father in the room, she checked on the threshold.
     "Where is everybody?" she asked, in a voice rendered natural by effort.
     M. Binet reared  his  great head  and  turned  upon her eyes  that were
blood-injected. He scowled, blew out his thick lips and made harsh noises in
his throat. Yet he took stock of her, so graceful and comely and  looking so
completely the lady  of fashion  in  her long fur-trimmed travelling coat of
bottle green, her  muff and her broad hat adorned  by a sparkling Rhinestone
buckle above  her adorably coiffed brown hair. No  need  to fear  the future
whilst he owned such a daughter, let Scaramouche play what tricks he would.
     He expressed, however, none of these comforting reflections.
     "So  you're back at last, little fool,"  he growled in greeting. "I was
beginning to  ask  myself if  we  should  perform  this evening. It wouldn't
greatly have surprised me if you had not returned in time. Indeed, since you
have chosen to play the fine hand you held in  your own way and  scorning my
advice, nothing can surprise me."
     She crossed the room  to the table, and leaning against it, looked down
upon him almost disdainfully.
     "I have nothing to regret," she said.
     "So every fool  says at first. Nor  would you admit it if you had.  You
are  like that.  You go your own  way  in spite of advice  from older heads.
Death of my life, girl, what do you know of men?"
     "I am not complaining," she reminded him.
     "No, but you may be presently, when  you discover  that you  would have
done better to have been guided  by your old father. So long as your Marquis
languished for you, there was nothing you could not have done with the fool.
So long as you let him have no more than your fingertips to kiss... ah, name
of a name!  that was  the  time to build  your future. If you live  to  be a
thousand you'll never  have such a chance again,  and you've squandered  it,
for what?"
     Mademoiselle sat down.- "You're sordid," she said, with disgust.
     "Sordid, am I?" His thick  lips curled again. "I have had enough of the
dregs of life, and so  I should have thought  have you.  You  held a hand on
which to have won a fortune if you had played it as I bade you. Well, you've
played  it, and  where's the fortune?  We  can whistle  for that as a sailor
whistles for  wind. And, by Heaven, we'll need to whistle presently  if  the
weather  in  the troupe continues as it's set in. That scoundrel Scaramouche
has been at his ape's tricks  with them. They've suddenly turned moral. They
won't sit at table with me any more."  He  was spluttering between anger and
sardonic mirth.  "It  was  your friend Scaramouche  set them the example  of
that. He threatened my  life actually. Threatened  my life! Called me... Oh,
but what does that matter? What matters is that the next thing  to happen to
us will  be  that  the Binet Troupe will  discover it can  manage without M.
Binet and his daughter. This scoundrelly bastard I've befriended  has little
by little robbed me of everything. It's in his power to-day to  rob me of my
troupe, and the knave's ungrateful enough and vile enough to make use of his
power.
     "Let him," said mademoiselle contemptuously.
     "Let him?" He was aghast. "And what's to become of us?"

     "In no  case will the Binet Troupe interest  me much longer," said she.
"I  shall be going to Paris soon.  There are better  theatres there than the
Feydau.  There's Mlle. Montansier's theatre in the Palais Royal; there's the
Ambigu Comique; there's the Comedie Francaise; there's even a possibility  I
may have a theatre of my own."
     His eyes grew big for once. He stretched out a fat hand, and  placed it
on one of hers. She noticed that it trembled.
     "Has he promised that? Has he promised?"
     She  looked  at  him  with her  head on one side,  eyes sly and a queer
little smile on her perfect lips.
     "He did not refuse  me when I asked it," she answered,  with conviction
that all was as she desired it.
     "Bah!" He  withdrew his hand, and heaved himself up. There was  disgust
on his face. "He did not refuse!" he mocked her; and then with passion: "Had
you  acted as  I  advised you, he  would have consented to anything that you
asked,  and what  is more  he  would have provided anything that you asked -
anything  that lay  within his means,  and  they are inexhaustible. You have
changed  a certainty into a  possibility, and I hate possibilities -  God of
God! I have lived on possibilities, and infernally near starved on them."
     Had  she  known  of the interview taking place  at that  moment at  the
Chateau de  Sautron she would have laughed less confidently  at her father's
gloomy forebodings. But she was destined never to know, which indeed was the
cruellest  punishment of  all. She was  to attribute all the evil  that of a
sudden overwhelmed  her,  the  shattering of  all the  future  hopes she had
founded upon the Marquis  and the sudden disintegration of the Binet Troupe,
to the wicked interference of that villain Scaramouche.
     She had this much justification that possibly, without the warning from
M. de Sautron, the Marquis would have found in the events of that evening at
the  Theatre  Feydau a sufficient reason for ending an entanglement that was
fraught  with too much unpleasant excitement, whilst  the breaking-up of the
Binet  Troupe was most certainly the result of Andre-Louis' work. But it was
not a result that he intended or even foresaw.
     So much was this the case that in the interval after the second act, he
sought the dressing-room  shared by Polichinelle and Rhodomont. Polichinelle
was in the act of changing.
     "I shouldn't trouble to change," he said. "The piece isn't likely to go
beyond my opening scene of the next act with Leandre."
     "What do you mean?"
     "You'll  see."  He  put  a  paper  on  Polichinelle's  table  amid  the
grease-paints.  "Cast your  eye  over  that.  It's a sort of  last will  and
testament in favour  of the troupe. I was  a lawyer once; the document is in
order.  I relinquish to all of you the share produced by  my  partnership in
the company."
     "But you don't mean that  you are  leaving us?"  cried  Polichinelle in
alarm, whilst Rhodomont's sudden stare asked the same question.
     Scaramouche's  shrug  was eloquent.  Polichinelle  ran on gloomily: "Of
course it was to have been foreseen. But why should you be the one to go? It
is you who have  made us; and it is  you who are the real head and brains of
the troupe; it is you who have raised it  into a real theatrical company. If
any one must go, let it be  Binet - Binet and  his  infernal daughter. Or if
you go, name of a name! we all go with you!"
     "Aye," added Rhodomont, "we've had enough of that fat scoundrel."
     "I had thought of it, of course," said Andre-Louis. "It was not vanity,
for once; it was trust in your friendship. After to-night we may consider it
again, if I survive."
     "If you survive?" both cried.
     Polichinelle got up. "Now, what madness have you in mind?" he asked.
     "For  one  thing  I  think I am  indulging Leandre; for  another  I  am
pursuing an old quarrel."
     The three knocks sounded as he spoke.
     "There, I must go. Keep that paper, Polichinelle. After all, it may not
be necessary.
     He  was gone. Rhodomont stared at Polichinelle. Polichinelle stared  at
Rhodomont.

     "What the devil is he thinking of?" quoth the latter.
     "That   is   most  readily   ascertained  by  going  to  see,"  replied
Polichinelle. He  completed changing  in haste, and despite what Scaramouche
had said; and then followed with Rhodomont.
     As  they approached  the wings a roar  of applause met them coming from
the  audience. It was applause  and something else;  applause  on an unusual
note. As it faded away they heard the voice of Scaramouche  ringing clear as
a bell:
     "And  so you see, my dear M. Leandre, that when you  speak of the Third
Estate,  it  is necessary to be more  explicit.  What precisely is the Third
Estate?"
     "Nothing," said Leandre.
     There was a gasp from the  audience,  audible  in  the wings,  and then
swiftly followed Scaramouche's next question:
     "True. Alas! But what should it be?"
     "Everything," said Leandre.
     The audience roared  its acclamations, the  more violent because of the
unexpectedness of that reply.
     "True again," said Scaramouche. "And what is more, that is what it will
be; that is what it already is. Do you doubt it?"
     "I hope it," said the schooled Leandre.
     "You  may believe  it,"  said Scaramouche, and again  the  acclamations
rolled into thunder.
     Polichinelle  and  Rhodomont  exchanged  glances:  indeed,  the  former
winked, not without mirth.
     "Sacred name!"  growled a voice behind  them. "Is the scoundrel  at his
political tricks again?"
     They turned to confront M.  Binet. Moving with that noiseless tread  of
his, he  had  come up unheard behind  them, and there he  stood now  in  his
scarlet suit of Pantaloon under a trailing  bedgown, his little eyes glaring
from either  side  of his  false  nose. But their attention  was held by the
voice of Scaramouche. He had stepped to the front of the stage.
     "He doubts it," he  was felling the audience. "But then this M. Leandre
is himself akin  to those who worship the worm-eaten  idol of Privilege, and
so he is a little afraid to believe a truth that is becoming apparent to all
the world. Shall I convince him?  Shall I tell him how a company of noblemen
backed  by their  servants under arms - six hundred men in  all -  sought to
dictate to the Third Estate of Rennes a few  short  weeks ago? Must I remind
him of the martial front shown on that occasion by the Third Estate, and how
they  swept  the  streets clean of that rabble of  nobles -  cette  canaille
noble... "
     Applause  interrupted him. The phrase had struck home and caught. Those
who had  writhed under that infamous designation from their betters leapt at
this turning of it against the nobles themselves.
     "But let me tell you of their leader - le pins noble de cette canaille,
on bien le plus canaille de ces nobles! You know him
     - that one. He fears many things, but the voice of truth he fears most.
With  such as him the  eloquent truth eloquently spoken is a thing instantly
to be silenced. So  he marshalled  his peers and  their valetailles, and led
them out to slaughter these miserable bourgeois who dared to  raise a voice.
But these same miserable bourgeois did  not choose to  be slaughtered in the
streets of Rennes. It  occurred  to  them that since the nobles decreed that
blood should  flow,  it  might as  well  be  the blood of  the nobles.  They
marshalled themselves too - this noble rabble against the rabble of nobles -
and they marshalled themselves so well that they drove M. de La Tour  d'Azyr
and  his warlike  following from  the field with broken  heads and shattered
delusions.  They  sought shelter  at the hands  of  the Cordeliers; and  the
shavelings gave them sanctuary in their convent - those  who survived, among
whom was  their proud  leader,  M. de La Tour d'Azyr. You have heard of this
valiant Marquis, this great lord of life and death?"
     The  pit  was  in an uproar a  moment. It  quieted again as Scaramouche
continued:
     "Oh,  it was a fine spectacle to  see this  mighty hunter  scuttling to
cover like a hare, going to  earth in the Cordelier Convent. Rennes  has not
seen him since. Rennes  would like  to see him again. But if he is valorous,
he is  also discreet. And where do you think he has taken refuge, this great
nobleman who wanted to see the streets of Rennes washed in the blood  of its
citizens,  this  man  who  would  have  butchered   old  and  young  of  the
contemptible canaille to  silence the  voice  of reason  and of liberty that
presumes to ring through France to-day? Where do you think he hides himself?
Why, here in Nantes."
     Again there was uproar.
     "What  do  you say? Impossible? Why,  my friends,  at this moment he is
here in this theatre - skulking up there in that  box. He is too shy to show
himself - oh, a very modest gentleman.  But there he is behind the curtains.
Will  you not  show yourself to your friends, M. de La Tour d'Azyr, Monsieur
le Marquis who considers eloquence so very dangerous a gift? See, they would
like a  word with you; they do not believe me when  I tell them that you are
here."
     Now,  whatever he  may have been, and whatever  the views  held  on the
subject by Andre-Louis,  M. de La Tour d'Azyr was certainly not a coward. To
say that he was hiding in Nantes was not true. He came and went there openly
and  unabashed.  It happened, however, that the Nantais were  ignorant until
this moment of his  presence among them. But then he would have disdained to
have informed them of it just as he would  have disdained to have  concealed
it from them.
     Challenged thus, however, and  despite the ominous  manner in which the
bourgeois element in the audience had responded  to  Scaramouche's appeal to
its passions, despite the  attempts made by Chabrillane to restrain him, the
Marquis  swept aside the curtain at the side of the box, and suddenly showed
himself,  pale  but self-contained and  scornful  as he  surveyed first  the
daring  Scaramouche  and then those others who at  sight of  him  had  given
tongue to their hostility.
     Hoots and  yells  assailed him, fists were  shaken at  him,  canes were
brandished menacingly.
     "Assassin! Scoundrel! Coward! Traitor!"
     But he braved the storm,  smiling upon them his ineffable  contempt. He
was waiting for the noise to cease; waiting to address them in his turn. But
he waited in vain, as he very soon perceived.
     The contempt  he  did not trouble to dissemble served but to  goad them
on.
     In the  pit pandemonium  was  already raging.  Blows  were being freely
exchanged; there were scuffling groups, and here and there swords were being
drawn, but fortunately the press was too dense to permit of their being used
effectively.  Those who had women with them and  the timid  by  nature  were
making haste to  leave a house that  looked like becoming  a cockpit,  where
chairs were being smashed to provide weapons, and parts of  chandeliers were
already being used as missiles.
     One  of  these hurled by  the hand of  a gentleman in one of  the boxes
narrowly missed Scaramouche where he  stood, looking  down in a sort of grim
triumph  upon  the  havoc  which his  words  had wrought.  Knowing  of  what
inflammable  material the audience was composed, he  had  deliberately flung
down  amongst  them  the  lighted  torch  of  discord,   to   produce   this
conflagration.
     He saw men falling  quickly  into groups representative of one  side or
the other of this  great quarrel  that already was beginning to agitate  the
whole of France. Their rallying cries were ringing through the theatre.
     "Down with the canaille!" from some.
     "Down with the privileged!" from others.
     And  then  above  the   general  din  one  cry  rang  out  sharply  and
insistently:
     "To the  box!  Death to the butcher of Rennes! Death  to La Tour d'Azyr
who makes war upon the people!"
     There was  a rush for one of the doors of the pit that opened  upon the
staircase leading to the boxes.
     And now, whilst  battle and  confusion spread with the  speed of  fire,
overflowing from the  theatre into the  street itself, La Tour d'Azyr's box,
which had become  the main object of the attack of the bourgeoisie, had also
become the rallying ground for such gentlemen as were present in the theatre
and for those who, without  being men of birth themselves, were nevertheless
attached to the party of the nobles.
     La Tour d'Azyr had quitted  the front of the box to meet those who came
to  join  him. And now in the  pit  one group  of  infuriated  gentlemen, in
attempting to reach the stage across the empty orchestra, so that they might
deal  with  the  audacious comedian who was  responsible for this explosion,
found themselves opposed and  held back by another group composed  of men to
whose feelings Andre-Louis had given expression.
     Perceiving this, and remembering the chandelier, he turned  to Leandre,
who had remained beside him.
     "I think it is time to be going," said he.
     Leandre,  looking ghastly under his  paint, appalled by the storm which
exceeded   by  far   anything  that  his   unimaginative  brain  could  have
conjectured, gurgled an  inarticulate agreement. But it looked as if already
they were too late, for in that moment they were assailed from behind.
     M. Binet had succeeded  at  last  in  breaking  past  Polichinelle  and
Rhodomont,  who  in  view  of his  murderous rage  had been  endeavouring to
restrain him. Half a dozen  gentlemen, habitues  of the green-room, had come
round to the stage to disembowel the knave who had created this riot, and it
was they who had flung aside those  two comedians who hung upon Binet. After
him they came now, their swords out; but after them again came Polichinelle,
Rhodomont, Harlequin, Pierrot, Pasquariel, and Basque the artist, armed with
such implements  as they could hastily snatch up, and intent upon saving the
man with whom  they sympathized in spite of all,  and  in whom now all their
hopes were centred.
     Well ahead rolled Binet, moving faster than any had ever seen him move,
and swinging the long cane from which Pantaloon is inseparable.
     "Infamous scoundrel!" he roared. "You  have ruined me!  But, name  of a
name, you shall pay!"
     Andre-Louis turned to face him.  "You confuse cause  with effect," said
he. But he got  no farther... Binet's cane, viciously driven, descended  and
broke upon his shoulder. Had he not moved swiftly  aside as the blow fell it
must have taken him across the head,  and possibly stunned him. As he moved,
he dropped his  hand to  his pocket, and swift upon the cracking  of Binet's
breaking cane came the crack of the pistol with which Andre-Louis replied.
     "You had your warning, you filthy pander!" he cried. And on the word he
shot him through the body.
     Binet went down screaming, whilst the fierce Polichinelle, fiercer than
ever in that moment of fierce reality, spoke quickly into Andre-Louis' ear:
     "Fool! So  much was  not necessary! Away with you now,  or you'll leave
your skin here! Away with you!"
     Andre-Louis thought it good advice, and took  it. The gentlemen who had
followed Binet in that punitive rush upon the stage, partly held in check by
the  improvised weapons  of  the  players,  partly intimidated by the second
pistol that Scaramouche presented, let him go. He gained the wings, and here
found  himself faced  by  a couple of sergeants  of  the watch, part of  the
police that was already invading the theatre with a view to restoring order.
The sight of them reminded him unpleasantly of how he must stand towards the
law  for this  night's  work,  and more particularly for  that bullet lodged
somewhere in Binet's obese body. He flourished his pistol.
     "Make  way,  or  I'll  burn  your  brains!"  he  threatened  them,  and
intimidated, themselves  without firearms, they fell back and  let him pass.
He slipped by the door of the  green-room, where the  ladies  of the company
had shut  themselves in until  the  storm should be over, and  so gained the
street behind the theatre.  It was deserted.  Down  this he  went at  a run,
intent  on reaching the inn for clothes and  money, since it  was impossible
that he should take the road in the garb of Scaramouche.






     "You may  agree," wrote  Andre-Louis from  Paris to  Le Chapelier, in a
letter which survives, "that it is to be regretted I should  definitely have
discarded the livery of Scaramouche, since clearly there could be  no livery
fitter for my wear. It seems to be my part always to stir up strife and then
to slip away before I am caught in the crash of the  warring elements I have
aroused.  It is a humiliating reflection. I seek consolation in the reminder
of  Epictetus (do you ever read Epictetus?) that we are but actors in a play
of such a  part  as it  may please the Director to assign  us. It does  not,
however, console me  to have been cast  for  a part so contemptible, to find
myself  excelling ever in the art of running away. But if I am not brave, at
least I  am prudent;  so that  where  I  lack one virtue I may  lay claim to
possessing another almost  to excess. On a previous  occasion they wanted to
hang me for sedition. Should I have stayed to be hanged? This time they  may
want to  hang  me  for several things, including murder; for  I do not  know
whether that scoundrel Binet be alive or dead from the dose of lead I pumped
into his fat paunch. Nor can I  say that I  very greatly care. If  I  have a
hope  at  all in the  matter it is that  he is dead - and damned. But  I  am
really indifferent. My own concerns are troubling me enough.  I have all but
spent the  little money that I contrived to conceal  about  me before I fled
from Nantes on that dreadful night;  and both of the only two professions of
which  I can claim to know anything - the  law and the stage - are closed to
me, since I cannot  find employment in either without revealing myself as  a
fellow  who  is urgently  wanted by the hangman.  As things are  it is  very
possible that I may die of hunger, especially  considering the present price
of  victuals  in this ravenous city. Again I have  recourse to Epictetus for
comfort.  'It is better,' he says, 'to die  of  hunger having  lived without
grief and fear, than to live  with a troubled spirit amid abundance.' I seem
likely  to perish  in the  estate that he accounts so enviable. That it does
not seem exactly enviable to me merely  proves  that  as a Stoic I am  not a
success.
     There is also another letter of  his written at about  the same time to
the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr - a letter since published by M. Emile Quersac
in his "Undercurrents of the Revolution in Brittany," unearthed  by him from
the  archives  of  Rennes,  to  which  it  had  been   consigned  by  M.  de
Lesdiguieres, who had received it for justiciary purposes from the Marquis.
     "The Paris newspapers," he writes  in  this,  "which have  reported  in
considerable detail the fracas  at the Theatre Feydau and disclosed the true
identity of  the Scaramouche who provoked it, inform me also  that  you have
escaped the  fate I  had intended for you when I raised that storm of public
opinion and public  indignation. I would not have you  take satisfaction  in
the thought  that I regret  your  escape. I do not. I rejoice in it. To deal
justice by death has this disadvantage that the victim has no knowledge that
justice has overtaken him. Had  you died, had  you been torn  limb from limb
that  night,  I  should  now  repine  in  the thought  of  your  eternal and
untroubled slumber. Not in euthanasia, but  in torment of  mind  should  the
guilty atone. You  see,  I  am not  sure that hell hereafter is a certainty,
whilst I am quite sure that it can be a certainty in this life; and I desire
you  to  continue to live  yet awhile  that you may taste something  of  its
bitterness.
     "You  murdered  Philippe  de  Vilmorin  because  you  feared  what  you
described as his  very dangerous gift of eloquence,  I took an oath that day
that your evil deed should be fruitless; that I would render it so; that the
voice you had done murder  to stifle  should  in spite of  that  ring like a
trumpet through the land. That was my  conception of revenge. Do you realize
how I have been fulfilling it, how I shall continue to fulfil it as occasion
offers? In the speech  with which  I fired the people  of Rennes on the very
morrow of  that  deed, did you not  hear the  voice of Philippe  de Vilmorin
uttering the ideas that were his  with a fire and a passion greater  than he
could have commanded because Nemesis lent me her inflaming aid? In the voice
of  Omnes  Omnibus at  Nantes my voice again  - demanding  the petition that
sounded the knell of your  hopes  of coercing the Third Estate, did  you not
hear again the voice  of  Philippe de  Vilmorin? Did you not reflect that it
was  the mind of the man  you had murdered, resurrected  in me his surviving
friend, which made necessary  your  futile attempt under  arms last January,
wherein your  order,  finally  beaten, was driven to  seek  sanctuary in the
Cordelier Convent? And that night when from the stage of the Feydau you were
denounced to  the  people,  did you not  hear  yet  again,  in the  voice of
Scaramouche, the voice of Philippe de Vilmorin, using that dangerous gift of
eloquence  which  you  so  foolishly  imagined  you  could  silence  with  a
sword-thrust? It is becoming a  persecution - is it  not?  - this voice from
the grave  that  insists upon making itself heard, that will not rest  until
you have been  cast into the pit. You will be regretting by now that you did
not kill  me too, as I invited you on that occasion. I can picture to myself
the  bitterness  of this  regret, and  I contemplate it  with  satisfaction.
Regret  of neglected opportunity is  the  worst hell that a living soul  can
inhabit, particularly such a soul  as yours. It is because of this that I am
glad to know that you survived the riot at the Feydau,  although at the time
it was no part of my intention that you should. Because of this I am content
that  you should live to enrage and suffer in the shadow of your evil  deed,
knowing at  last  - since you  had  not hitherto the wit  to  discern it for
yourself  - that  the  voice  of Philippe  de  Vilmorin will follow  you  to
denounce you ever more loudly, ever  more insistently, until having lived in
dread  you shall go  down  in blood under the just rage  which your victim's
dangerous gift of eloquence is kindling against you."
     I find it odd  that he should have omitted from this letter all mention
of  Mlle.  Binet,  and I  am  disposed  to  account it  at  least a  partial
insincerity  that  he  should  have assigned  entirely  to  his self-imposed
mission, and not at all to his lacerated feelings in the matter  of Climene,
the action which he had taken at the Feydau.
     Those  two letters,  both written in April of that  year  1789, had for
only immediate effect to increase the activity with which Andre-Louis Moreau
was being sought.
     Le Chapelier would have found him so as to lend him assistance, to urge
upon him once again that he should  take up a political career. The electors
of  Nantes would have found  him  -  at least,  they would have  found Omnes
Omnibus, of whose identity with  himself  they were still in  ignorance - on
each of the several occasions when a vacancy occurred in their body. And the
Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr and  M. de Lesdiguieres  would have found him that
they might send him to the gallows.
     With a purpose no less  vindictive was he being sought by M. Binet, now
unhappily recovered from his  wound to face completest ruin. His troupe  had
deserted him during  his illness, and  reconstituted under the direction  of
Polichinelle it was now striving with tolerable success to continue upon the
lines which Andre-Louis  had laid down. M. le Marquis, prevented by the riot
from  expressing in person to Mlle. Binet his  purpose  of  making an end of
their relations, had been  constrained  to write to her  to that effect from
Azyr a few days later. He tempered the blow by enclosing in discharge of all
liabilities  a  bill  on  the  Caisse   d'Escompte  for   a  hundred  louis.
Nevertheless it  almost crushed the unfortunate  and  it enabled her  father
when he recovered to enrage her by pointing out  that  she owed this turn of
events  to  the  premature surrender she had made  in  defiance of his sound
worldly advice. Father  and daughter alike were left to  assign the Marquis'
desertion, naturally enough, to the riot at the Feydau. They  laid that with
the rest  to the account of  Scaramouche, and were  forced  in bitterness to
admit that the scoundrel had taken  a superlative revenge. C1imene may  even
have  come to  consider  that it would have  paid  her  better to have run a
straight course with Scaramouche and by marrying him to have  trusted to his
undoubted talents  to  place her on  the summit to  which her ambition urged
her,  and  to  which  it  was now  futile for  her  to  aspire. If so,  that
reflection  must have been her sufficient punishment. For, as Andre-Louis so
truly  says, there is no worse hell than that provided  by the  regrets  for
wasted opportunities.
     Meanwhile the  fiercely  sought Andre-Louis  Moreau  had gone to  earth
completely for  the present. And the brisk police of Paris, urged on by  the
King's Lieutenant from  Rennes, hunted for him in  vain. Yet  he  might have
been found in a house in  the Rue  du Hasard within a stone's  throw of  the
Palais Royal, whither purest chance had conducted him.
     That which in his letter to Le Chapelier he represents as a contingency
of the near future was, in fact, the case in which already he found himself.
He was destitute. His money  was  exhausted, including that procured by  the
sale of such articles of adornment as were not of absolute necessity.
     So desperate was his case that strolling one gusty April  morning  down
the Rue du Hasard with his nose in the wind looking for what might be picked
up, he stopped to read a notice outside the door of a house on the left side
of the street as you approach  the Rue de Richelieu. There was no reason why
he should have gone down the Rue du Hasard. Perhaps its name attracted  him,
as appropriate to his case.
     The notice written  in  a  big round hand announced that a young man of
good  address  with  some  knowledge  of  swordsmanship was required  by  M.
Bertrand des  Amis on the second floor. Above this notice was a black oblong
board, and on this  a  shield, which in vulgar terms may be described as red
charged with two swords crossed and four fleurs de lys, one in each angle of
the saltire. Under the shield, in letters of gold, ran the legend:
     BERTRAND DES AMIS
     Maitre en fait d'Armes des Academies du Roi
     Andre-Louis stood considering.  He could claim, he  thought, to possess
the  qualifications demanded. He was certainly  young  and  he  believed  of
tolerable  address, whilst the fencing-lessons he had received in Nantes had
given  him at  least an  elementary  knowledge of  swordsmanship. The notice
looked  as if  it had  been  pinned  there  some days ago,  suggesting  that
applicants for the  post were not  very numerous.  In that  case perhaps  M.
Bertrand des Amis would not be too exigent. And anyway,  Andre-Louis had not
eaten for four-and-twenty  hours, and whilst the  employment  here offered -
the  precise nature of which he was yet to ascertain - did not appear to  be
such as Andre-Louis would deliberately have chosen, he was in no case now to
be fastidious.
     Then, too, he  liked  the name of Bertrand des  Amis.  It  felicitously
combined suggestions of chivalry and friendliness. Also the man's profession
being of  a kind that  is  flavoured with  romance  it was  possible that M.
Bertrand des Amis would not ask too many questions.
     In the  end he climbed  to  the second floor.  On the landing he paused
outside a door, on which was written  "Academy  of M. Bertrand des Amis." He
pushed this  open, and  found  himself in  a sparsely  furnished, untenanted
antechamber.  From  a room  beyond, the  door of which was closed,  came the
stamping of feet, the click and slither of steel upon  steel, and dominating
these sounds a vibrant sonorous voice speaking a language that was certainly
French; but such French as is never heard outside a fencing-school.
     "Coulez!   Mais,   coulez  donc!....So!  Now   the   flanconnade  -  en
carte....And here is the  riposte....Let us begin  again. Come! The ward  of
fierce....Make  the coupe, and then  the quinte par  dessus les  armes....0,
mais allongez! Allongez!  Allez au fond!"  the voice cried in expostulation.
"Come, that was better." The blades ceased.
     "Remember: the hand in pronation, the elbow not too far out.  That will
do for to-day.  On  Wednesday  we shall see  you  tirer  au mur. It  is more
deliberate. Speed will follow  when the mechanism of the movements  is  more
assured."
     Another voice murmured in answer. The steps moved aside. The lesson was
at an end. Andre-Louis tapped on the door.
     It  was  opened by a  tall,  slender, gracefully  proportioned  man  of
perhaps  forty. Black silk breeches  and  stockings  ending  in light  shoes
clothed him from  the  waist down.  Above he was encased  to  the chin  in a
closely  fitting plastron of leather, His face was aquiline and swarthy, his
eyes full  and dark, his  mouth firm and  his clubbed hair was of a lustrous
black with here and there a thread of silver showing.
     in  the  crook of his  left arm he carried  a fencing-mask, a thing  of
leather with a wire grating to protect the eyes. His keen glance played over
Andre-Louis from head to foot.
     "Monsieur?" he inquired, politely.
     It  was clear  that  he  mistook  Andre-Louis'  quality, which  is  not
surprising,  for despite  his  sadly  reduced  fortunes,  his  exterior  was
irreproachable, and M. des Amis was not to  guess that  he carried upon  his
back the whole of his possessions.
     "You  have  a  notice below,  monsieur," he  said, and from  the  swift
lighting of the fencing-master's eyes he saw that he had been correct in his
assumption  that  applicants for the  position had  not  been  jostling  one
another on his threshold. And then that  flash of satisfaction  was followed
by a look of surprise.
     "You are come in regard to that?"
     Andre-Louis shrugged and half smiled. "One must live," said he.
     "But come in. Sit down there. I shall be at  your....I shall be free to
attend to you in a moment."
     Andre-Louis took  a  seat  on the  bench  ranged  against  one  of  the
whitewashed walls. The room was long and low, its floor entirely bare. Plain
wooden  forms  such as  that which  he  occupied were placed here and  there
against the wall.  These last  were  plastered with fencing trophies, masks,
crossed  foils,  stuffed plastrons, and a  variety  of swords,  daggers, and
targets, belonging to a variety of  ages and countries.  There  was  also  a
portrait  of an obese,  big-nosed  gentleman in  an elaborately  curled wig,
wearing the blue ribbon of the Saint Esprit, in whom  Andre-Louis recognized
the King.  And there was a framed parchment - M. des  Amis' certificate from
the King's  Academy. A  bookcase occupied one corner, and near  this, facing
the  last of the  four windows that abundantly lighted  the long room, there
was a small  writing-table and an  armchair. A plump and beautifully dressed
young gentleman stood by this table  in the act of resuming coat and wig. M.
des  Amis  sauntered  over  to  him  -  moving,  thought  Andre-Louis,  with
extraordinary grace and elasticity - and stood  in talk with him whilst also
assisting him to complete his toilet.
     At last the young gentleman took his  departure, mopping himself with a
fine  kerchief that left a trail of perfume on the air. M.  des Amis  closed
the door, and turned to the applicant, who rose at once.
     "Where have you studied?" quoth the fencing-master abruptly.
     "Studied?" Andre-Louis  was taken aback by the  question. "Oh, at Louis
Le Grand."
     M.  des  Amis  frowned, looking  up sharply as  if to see  whether  his
applicant was taking the liberty of amusing himself.
     "In Heaven's name! I am not asking you where  you did  your humanities,
but in what academy you studied fencing."
     "Oh  - fencing!" It  had  hardly ever occurred to Andre-Louis  that the
sword ranked seriously as a study. "I never studied it very much. I had some
lessons in... in the country once.
     The master's eyebrows  went up.  "But then?"  he cried. "Why trouble to
come up two flights of stairs?" He was impatient.
     "The notice does not demand a high degree of  proficiency. If  I am not
proficient enough, yet knowing the rudiments  I  can easily improve. I learn
most  things readily,"  Andre-Louis  commended  himself.  "For  the rest:  I
possess the other qualifications.  I am young,  as you  observe: and I leave
you to judge whether I am wrong in assuming that my address is good. I am by
profession a man of the robe, though I realize that the motto here  is cedat
toga armis."
     M. des Amis  smiled  approvingly. Undoubtedly the young man had a  good
address, and a certain  readiness of wit, it would appear. He ran a critical
eye over his physical points. "What is your name?" he asked.
     Andre-Louis hesitated a moment. "Andre-Louis," he said.
     The dark, keen eyes conned him more searchingly.
     "Well? Andre-Louis what?"
     "Just Andre-Louis. Louis is my surname."
     "Oh! An odd surname. You come from Brittany by your accent. Why did you
leave it?"
     "To save my skin," he answered, without reflecting. And then made haste
to cover the blunder. "I have an enemy," he explained.
     M. des Amis frowned, stroking his square chin. "You ran away?"
     "You may say so.
     "A coward, eh?"
     "I don't  think so." And  then he  lied romantically. Surely  a man who
lived by the  sword should have a  weakness for the  romantic. "You  see, my
enemy is a swordsman of great strength - the best  blade in the province, if
not the best blade in France. That is his  repute. I thought I would come to
Paris to learn something of the art, and then go back and kill him. That, to
be frank, is why your notice attracted me.  You see, I have not the means to
take lessons  otherwise. I thought to  find work here in the law. But I have
failed. There are too many lawyers in Paris as it is, and  whilst waiting  I
have consumed the little money that  I had,  so that... so that, enfin, your
notice  seemed  to me something to  which a special  providence had directed
me."
     M. des Amis gripped him by the shoulders, and looked into his face.
     "Is this true, my friend?" he asked.
     "Not  a word  of it," said  Andre-Louis, wrecking  his  chances  on  an
irresistible impulse to say the unexpected. But he didn't wreck them. M. des
Amis  burst  into laughter; and having laughed  his  fill, confessed himself
charmed by his applicant's fundamental honesty.
     "Take off your coat," he said, "and let us see what you can do. Nature,
at  least, designed  you for a swordsman. You are light, active, and supple,
with a good length of arm, and you seem intelligent. I may make something of
you, teach  you enough for  my purpose, which is that  you should  give  the
elements of the art to new pupils before I take them in hand to finish them.
Let us try. Take that mask and foil, and come over here.
     He led him to the end of the room, where the bare floor was scored with
lines of chalk to guide the beginner in the management of his feet.
     At the  end  of  a  ten  minutes' bout,  M.  des  Amis offered  him the
situation,  and explained it.  In addition to imparting the rudiments of the
art to  beginners, he was to brush out the fencing-room  every morning, keep
the foils furbished, assist  the gentlemen who came for lessons to dress and
undress, and make himself generally  useful. His  wages for the present were
to be  forty livres a  month, and he  might  sleep in an  alcove behind  the
fencing-room if he had no other lodging.
     The position, you  see, had its humiliations. But, if Andre-Louis would
hope to dine, he must begin by eating his pride as an hors d'oeuvre.
     "And so," he said, controlling a grimace, "the robe yields  not only to
the sword, but to the broom as well. Be it so. I stay."
     lt is  characteristic of  him that, having made that choice,  he should
have thrown himself into the work with enthusiasm. It was ever his way to do
whatever he did with all the resources of his mind and energies of his body.
When he was not instructing very young gentlemen in the elements of the art,
showing them  the elaborate and intricate salute -  which with  a few  days'
hard  practice he had  mastered to perfection - and the eight guards, he was
himself hard at work on those same guards, exercising eye, wrist, and knees.
     Perceiving  his  enthusiasm, and seeing  the  obvious possibilities  it
opened out  of  turning  him into a really effective assistant,  M. des Amis
presently took him more seriously in hand.
     "Your application and zeal, my friend, are deserving of more than forty
livres a month," the  master  informed him  at the  end of a week.  "For the
present,  however, I  will  make  up what  else  I consider due  to  you  by
imparting to you secrets of this noble art. Your future depends upon how you
profit by your exceptional good fortune in receiving instruction from me."
     Thereafter every morning before the opening of the academy,  the master
would  fence  for half an  hour  with his new  assistant.  Under this really
excellent  tuition  Andre-Louis improved at a rate that both  astounded  and
flattered M. des Amis. He would have  been less flattered and more astounded
had he known that at least  half the secret of Andre-Louis' amazing progress
lay  in the fact that he was devouring the contents of the master's library,
which was  made up  of  a dozen or so  treatises on  fencing by  such  great
masters  as  La  Bessiere,  Danet, and  the  syndic  of the King's  Academy,
Augustin  Rousseau. To M.  des  Amis, whose swordsmanship was  all  based on
practice and  not at all on theory, who was indeed no theorist or student in
any  sense,  that  little  library  was  merely  a  suitable  adjunct  to  a
fencing-academy,  a  proper  piece   of   decorative  furniture.  The  books
themselves  meant nothing to him in any other sense. He had not the  type of
mind that could have read  them  with profit nor  could  be understand  that
another should do so.  Andre-Louis, on the contrary, a man with the habit of
study, with the acquired  faculty of  learning  from books, read those works
with enormous profit, kept their precepts in mind, critically set  off those
of one  master against those of another, and made for himself a choice which
he proceeded to put into practice.
     At the end  of a month it suddenly  dawned  upon  M. des Amis that  his
assistant had developed into a fencer of very considerable force, a man in a
bout  with  whom it became necessary  to exert  himself if he were to escape
defeat.
     "I said from the first," he told him one day, "that Nature designed you
for a swordsman. See how justified I was, and see also how well I have known
how to mould the material with which Nature has equipped you."
     "To the master be the glory," said Andre-Louis.
     His relations with M. des Amis had meanwhile become of the friendliest,
and  he  was  now  beginning to  receive  from him  other pupils  than  mere
beginners.  In  fact Andre-Louis was becoming an assistant in a much  fuller
sense of the  word. M. des Amis, a chivalrous,  open-handed fellow, far from
taking advantage of what he had guessed  to be the young man's difficulties,
rewarded his zeal by increasing his wages to four louis a month.
     >From the' earnest  and thoughtful study of the theories of others,  it
followed now - as not uncommonly happens - that Andre-Louis came to  develop
theories of his own. He lay one June morning  on his little truckle  bed  in
the alcove behind the  academy,  considering a passage that he had read last
night in Danet on  double and  triple  feints.  It  had  seemed to him  when
reading  it  that  Danet  had stopped short on  the  threshold  of  a  great
discovery  in the  art  of  fencing.  Essentially  a  theorist,  Andre-Louis
perceived the theory suggested, which Danet himself in suggesting it had not
perceived. He  lay now on his back,  surveying the cracks in the ceiling and
considering this matter further  with the lucidity that  early morning often
brings to an acute intelligence. You are to remember that for close upon two
months now the sword  had been Andre-Louis' daily exercise and almost hourly
thought. Protracted  concentration  upon  the  subject  was  giving  him  an
extraordinary penetration of vision.  Swordsmanship as  he learnt and taught
and saw  it daily practised consisted of a series of attacks  and parries, a
series of disengages from  one  line  into  another.  But  always  a limited
series.  A  half-dozen  disengages  on either  side  was, strictly speaking,
usually as  far as any engagement went. Then  one  recommenced. But even so,
these disengages were fortuitous. What if from first to last they should  be
calculated?
     That was part of the thought - one of  the two legs on which his theory
was to stand; the other was:  what would happen if one so elaborated Danet's
ideas  on  the triple  feint  as to  merge  them  into  a  series of  actual
calculated  disengages  to culminate  at the fourth or fifth  or even  sixth
disengage? That is to say, if one were  to make a series of attacks inviting
ripostes  again to be countered, each of  which was not intended to go home,
but simply  to  play the opponent's  blade  into a line  that must  open him
ultimately, and as predetermined, for an irresistible lunge. Each counter of
the opponent's would have to be preconsidered in this widening of his guard,
a  widening so gradual  that he should  himself be  unconscious  of it,  and
throughout intent upon getting home his own point on one of those counters.
     Andre-Louis had been in his time a  chess-player of some  force, and at
chess  he had  excelled by virtue  of his capacity for  thinking ahead. That
virtue applied to fencing  should  all but revolutionize the art. It  was so
applied  already,  of course, but  only  in an elementary  and  very limited
fashion,  in  mere  feints, single,  double, or triple.  But even the triple
feint should  be a  clumsy  device compared  with this method  upon which he
theorized.
     He considered further, and the  conviction grew that he held the key of
a discovery. He was impatient to put his theory to the test.
     That morning  he was given a pupil of some force, against whom  usually
he was hard  put to it to defend  himself.  Coming on guard, he  made up his
mind to hit him on the fourth disengage, predetermining the four passes that
should lead up to it. They engaged in tierce, and Andre-Louis led the attack
by a beat and a straightening of the arm. Came the demi-contre  he expected,
which he  promptly countered  by a  thrust  in quinte;  this being countered
again, he reentered still  lower, and being again correctly parried,  as  he
had calculated, he lunged swirling his point into  carte, and  got home full
upon his opponent's breast. The ease of it surprised him.
     They  began  again.  This  time  he  resolved  to go  in on  the  fifth
disengage, and in on that he went with the same ease. Then, complicating the
matter further, he decided to try the sixth,  and worked out in his mind the
combination of the  five  preliminary  engages. Yet  again  he  succeeded as
easily as before.
     The  young  gentleman opposed  to  him  laughed  with just a  tinge  of
mortification in his voice.
     "I am all to pieces this morning," he said.
     "You  are not of  your  usual force," Andre-Louis politely agreed.  And
then greatly daring, always to test that theory of his to the uttermost: "So
much so," he  added, "that I could almost be sure of hitting you as and when
I declare."
     The capable pupil looked at him with a half-sneer. "Ah, that, no," said
he.
     "Let us  try. On the fourth disengage I  shall  touch  you. Allons!  En
garde!"
     And as he promised, so it happened.
     The  young gentleman  who,  hitherto,  had  held  no great  opinion  of
Andre-Louis'  swordsmanship,  accounting  him well  enough for  purposes  of
practice  when the master  was otherwise engaged, opened wide his eyes. In a
burst of mingled generosity  and intoxication,  Andre-Louis  was almost  for
disclosing  his  method  - a method  which a little  later  was  to become a
commonplace of the fencing-rooms. Betimes he  checked himself. To reveal his
secret  would  be  to  destroy  the prestige that must  accrue to  him  from
exercising it.
     At noon, the academy being empty, M. des Amis called Andre-Louis to one
of the occasional lessons which he still received. And for the first time in
all his experience with Andre-Louis, M. des Amis received  from him  a  full
hit in the course of the  first bout.  He  laughed, well  pleased, like  the
generous fellow he was.
     "Aha! You are improving very fast, my friend." He still laughed, though
not  so  well pleased, when he was  hit  in the second bout. After  that  he
settled  down to fight in earnest with the result that  Andre-Louis  was hit
three times in succession. The speed and accuracy of the fencing-master when
fully exerting himself disconcerted Andre-Louis'  theory, which  for want of
being exercised in practice still demanded too much consideration.
     But that his theory was sound he accounted fully  established, and with
that,  for  the  moment, he was content.  It  remained  only  to  perfect by
practice  the  application of it. To this he  now  devoted  himself with the
passionate enthusiasm of the discoverer. He confined himself to a half-dozen
combinations, which  he practised assiduously until  each had  become almost
automatic.  And  he  proved  their infallibility upon the best  among M. des
Amis' pupils.
     Finally, a week  or so after that last bout of his  with  des Amis, the
master called him once more to practice.
     Hit again in the first  bout,  the master set himself to exert all  his
skill against  his assistant.  But to-day  it  availed  him  nothing  before
Andre-Louis' impetuous attacks.
     After the third hit, M. des Amis stepped back and pulled off his mask.
     "What's  this?"  he  asked. He  was  pale,  and  his  dark  brows  were
contracted in a frown. Not in years had he been so wounded in his self-love.
"Have you been taught a secret botte?"
     He had always boasted that he knew too much about the sword to  believe
any nonsense about secret bottes; but  this performance  of Andre-Louis' had
shaken his convictions on that score.
     "No," said Andre-Louis. "I have been working hard; and it  happens that
I fence with my brains."
     "So  I  perceive.  Well,  well,  I think I  have taught  you enough, my
friend. I have no intention of  having  an  assistant  who  is  superior  to
myself."
     "Little  danger  of that,"  said Andre-Louis, smiling  pleasantly. "You
have been fencing hard all morning, and you are tired, whilst I, having done
little, am entirely fresh. That is the only secret of my momentary success.
     His tact and the fundamental good-nature of M. des  Amis  prevented the
matter from going  farther along the road it was almost threatening to take.
And thereafter, when they fenced together, Andre-Louis, who  continued daily
to  perfect his  theory into  an almost infallible system, saw to it that M.
des Amis always scored against  him at  least two hits  for every one of his
own. So  much he would grant to discretion, but no  more. He desired that M.
des Amis should be conscious of his strength, without,  however, discovering
so much of its  real extent as would  have  excited  in him  an  unnecessary
degree of jealousy.
     And so  well did  he contrive that  whilst  he  became ever  of greater
assistance  to  the master  -  for his style  and general fencing, too,  had
materially improved - he  was  also a  source  of pride  to him as the  most
brilliant of all the pupils that had ever  passed through his academy. Never
did Andre-Louis disillusion him by revealing the fact that his skill was due
far more to M. des Amis' library and his own mother  wit than to any lessons
received.




     Once again, precisely as he had done when he  joined the Binet  troupe,
did Andre-Louis now settle  down whole-heartedly to  the new profession into
which necessity had driven him, and in which he  found effective concealment
from those who might seek him to his hurt.  This profession might - although
in fact it did  not - have brought him to consider himself  at last as a man
of  action.  He had not, however, on  that  account  ceased to be  a man  of
thought, and the events of the spring and summer months of that year 1789 in
Paris provided him with abundant matter for reflection. He read there in the
raw  what  is  perhaps  the most  amazing  page  in  the  history  of  human
development, and  in  the end he was forced  to  the conclusion that all his
early  preconceptions  had  been  at  fault, and that  it was  such exalted,
passionate enthusiasts as Vilmorin who had been right.
     I suspect him of actually taking pride  in the  fact  that he  had been
mistaken, complacently attributing his error to the circumstance that he had
been,  himself, of too sane and logical a mind to gauge the depths  of human
insanity now revealed.
     He watched the growth of hunger, the increasing poverty and distress of
Paris during that spring, and assigned it to its proper cause, together with
the  patience  with  which the people  bore it. The world of France was in a
state of hushed,  of paralyzed expectancy, waiting for the States General to
assemble  and  for  centuries  of  tyranny  to  end.  And  because  of  this
expectancy,  industry had  come to  a  standstill, the stream of  trade  had
dwindled to a trickle. Men would  not buy or sell until they clearly saw the
means by which the genius of the  Swiss  banker,  M. Necker, was to  deliver
them from this morass.  And because  of this paralysis of affairs the men of
the people were thrown out of work and  left to starve  with their wives and
children.
     Looking  on,  Andre-Louis smiled  grimly. So  far  he  was  right.  The
sufferers were  ever  the  proletariat.  The  men  who sought  to make  this
revolution,  the  electors  - here  in  Paris  as  elsewhere  - were men  of
substance, notable bourgeois, wealthy  traders.  And whilst these, despising
the canaille, and envying the privileged,  talked largely  of equality  - by
which they meant an ascending  equality that should  confuse themselves with
the gentry - the proletariat perished of want in its kennels.
     At last with the month of May the deputies arrived, Andre-Louis' friend
Le Chapelier prominent amongst them, and the States General were inaugurated
at  Versailles.  It was then that affairs began  to become interesting, then
that Andre-Louis began seriously to doubt the  soundness of the views he had
held hitherto.
     When the royal proclamation had gone forth decreeing  that the deputies
of the  Third  Estate should number twice as many as  those of the other two
orders together,  Andre-Louis had believed  that the preponderance  of votes
thus assured to the Third Estate  rendered inevitable  the  reforms to which
they had pledged themselves.
     But he had reckoned without the power of the privileged orders over the
proud Austrian queen, and her power  over the obese, phlegmatic,  irresolute
monarch. That  the privileged  orders  should deliver battle  in defence  of
their  privileges, Andre-Louis could understand. Man being what  he  is, and
labouring under his curse of acquisitiveness, will never willingly surrender
possessions,  whether they be justly or  unjustly  held. But what  surprised
Andre-Louis  was  the  unutterable crassness of  the  methods by  which  the
Privileged ranged themselves for battle. They opposed  brute force to reason
and  philosophy, and battalions of foreign mercenaries to ideas. As if ideas
were to be impaled on bayonets!
     The  war  between  the  Privileged and  the Court on one side, and  the
Assembly and the People on the other had begun.
     The Third Estate contained itself, and waited; waited with the patience
of nature;  waited  a  month  whilst, with  the  paralysis of  business  now
complete, the skeleton hand of famine took a firmer grip of Paris; waited  a
month  whilst  Privilege  gradually  assembled  an  army  in  Versailles  to
intimidate it - an army of fifteen regiments,  nine of  which were Swiss and
German - and mounted a park of  artillery before  the  building in which the
deputies sat.  But the  deputies refused to be  intimidated; they refused to
see  the  guns and foreign uniforms; they refused  to  see anything but  the
purpose for which they had been brought together by royal proclamation.
     Thus until the 10th of June, when that great thinker and metaphysician,
the Abbe Sieyes, gave the signal: "It is time," said he, "to cut the cable."
     And  the  opportunity came soon, at the  very beginning  of July. M. du
Chatelet, a harsh, haughty  disciplinarian, proposed to  transfer the eleven
French  Guards placed under arrest  from the  military gaol of the Abbaye to
the  filthy prison of Bicetre reserved for thieves and felons  of the lowest
order.  Word of that intention going forth,  the people at last met violence
with  violence.  A  mob  four  thousand strong broke into  the  Abbaye,  and
delivered thence not only the eleven guardsmen, but all the other prisoners,
with the exception of one whom they discovered to be a thief, and  whom they
put back again;
     That was open  revolt at last, and  with revolt  Privilege knew how  to
deal. It would strangle this mutinous Paris in  the iron grip of the foreign
regiments. Measures  were  quickly  concerted.  Old Marechal  de Broglie,  a
veteran  of the  Seven Years'  War,  imbued  with a  soldier's contempt  for
civilians, conceiving that the sight of a uniform would be enough to restore
peace and  order, took control  with Besenval as his second-in-command.  The
foreign regiments were  stationed in the environs of Paris,  regiments whose
very names were an irritation to  the Parisians, regiments  of  Reisbach, of
Diesbach, of  Nassau, Esterhazy, and Roehmer. Reenforcements  of Swiss  were
sent to  the Bastille between  whose crenels already since the 30th  of June
were to be seen the menacing mouths of loaded cannon.
     On  the 10th of  July  the electors  once  more  addressed the  King to
request the withdrawal  of  the troops. They were answered next day that the
troops served the purpose of defending the liberties of the Assembly! And on
the next day to that, which was a Sunday, the philanthropist Dr. Guillotin -
whose philanthropic engine of painless death was before  very long to find a
deal  of work, came from the Assembly, of  which he was a member,  to assure
the electors of Paris that all  was well, appearances notwithstanding, since
Necker was more firmly in the saddle than  ever. He did not know that at the
very moment in which he was speaking so confidently, the  oft-dismissed  and
oft-recalled M. Necker  had  just been dismissed  yet again  by  the hostile
cabal about the Queen. Privilege  wanted conclusive measures, and conclusive
measures it would have - conclusive to itself.
     And at  the same time  yet  another philanthropist, also a doctor,  one
Jean-Paul  Mara,  of  Italian  extraction  -  better  known  as  Marat,  the
gallicized form  of name he  adopted - a man of letters, too,  who had spent
some years in England, and there published several works  on  sociology, was
writing:
     "Have a  care! Consider what  would be the  fatal effect of a seditious
movement. If you should have the misfortune to give way to that, you will be
treated as people in revolt, and blood will flow."
     Andre-Louis was in the gardens of the Palais Royal, that place of shops
and puppet-shows, of  circus and cafes, of gaming  houses and brothels, that
universal  rendezvous,  on  that Sunday  morning when  the news  of Necker's
dismissal spread, carrying with it dismay and fury. Into Necker's  dismissal
the people  read the triumph of the party hostile to themselves. It  sounded
the knell of all hope of redress of their wrongs.
     He beheld a slight young  man with  a pock-marked face,  redeemed  from
utter ugliness by  a pair  of magnificent eyes, leap to a table outside  the
Caf' de Foy, a drawn sword in his hand, crying, "To arms!" And then upon the
silence of astonishment that cry imposed, this young  man poured a  flood of
inflammatory eloquence, delivered in a voice marred at moments by a stutter.
He told  the people that the Germans  on the Champ de Mars would enter Paris
that night to butcher  the inhabitants. "Let us mount a  cockade!" he cried,
and  tore  a  leaf from a tree to serve his  purpose - the green cockade  of
hope.
     Enthusiasm swept the crowd, a motley crowd  made up of men and women of
every class,  from  vagabond  to nobleman, from harlot to  lady  of fashion.
Trees were  despoiled of their leaves, and the  green  cockade  was flaunted
from almost every head.
     "You are  caught between two  fires," the incendiary's stuttering voice
raved  on. "Between the Germans  on  the Champ de  Mars and the Swiss in the
Bastille. To arms, then! To arms!"
     Excitement  boiled  up and over. From a neighbouring waxworks show came
the  bust of Necker, and presently  a  bust  of that  comedian the  Duke  of
Orleans,  who  had a party and who was as ready  as any other of the budding
opportunists of those  days  to  take  advantage of  the moment for  his own
aggrandizement. The bust of Necker was draped with crepe.
     Andre-Louis looked on, and  grew afraid. Marat's pamphlet had impressed
him. It had  expressed what himself  he had expressed more than  half a year
ago  to the  mob  at Rennes. This crowd,  he felt must be  restrained.  That
hot-headed, irresponsible stutterer would have the  town in a blaze by night
unless something  were done. The  young  man,  a  causeless advocate  of the
Palais named Camille Desmoulins, later to become famous, leapt down from his
table  still  waving  his  sword,  still  shouting, "To  arms!  Follow  me!"
Andre-Louis advanced to occupy the  improvised rostrum,  which the stutterer
had  just  vacated,  to make  an effort at  counteracting that  inflammatory
performance. He  thrust through the crowd,  and came  suddenly  face to face
with  a tall man beautifully dressed, whose handsome countenance was sternly
set, whose great sombre eyes mouldered as if with suppressed anger.
     Thus face to face, each looking  into the eyes of the other, they stood
for a  long moment,  the jostling  crowd streaming past them, unheeded. Then
Andre-Louis laughed.
     "That  fellow, too,  has  a  very  dangerous  gift of eloquence, M.  le
Marquis," he said. "In fact there  are a number of such  in  France  to-day.
They grow from the soil, which  you and yours have  irrigated with the blood
of the martyrs  of liberty. Soon it  may be your  blood instead. The soil is
parched, and thirsty for it."
     "Gallows-bird!" he was answered. "The  police will  do your affair  for
you.  I  shall  tell the,  Lieutenant-General that  you are  to be  found in
Paris."
     "My God,  man!" cried Andre-Louis, "will you never  get sense? Will you
talk like  that of Lieutenant-Generals when Paris itself is likely to tumble
about  your ears or  take  fire under  your feet? Raise  your  voice, M.  le
Marquis. Denounce me  here,  to these. You will make a hero of me in such an
hour as this. Or shall I denounce you?  I think I  will. I think it is  high
time you received your wages. Hi! You  others,  listen to me! Let me present
you to... "
     A rush of men hurtled  against him, swept  him along with them, do what
he would, separating him from M. de La Tour d'Azyr, so oddly met. He  sought
to breast that human torrent; the Marquis, caught in an eddy of it, remained
where he had been, and Andre-Louis' last glimpse of him was of a man smiling
with tight lips, an ugly smile.
     Meanwhile the gardens  were emptying in  the wake  of  that  stuttering
firebrand  who had mounted the green cockade. The human  torrent  poured out
into the Rue de Richelieu, and  Andre-Louis  perforce must suffer himself to
be borne along by it, at  least as far as the Rue du Hasard. There he sidled
out of it, and having no wish to be crushed to death or to take further part
in the madness that was afoot, he  slipped down the  street, and so got home
to the deserted academy.  For there were no pupils to-day,  and even  M. des
Amis, like Andre-Louis,  had gone out to seek for news of what was happening
at Versailles.
     This was no normal state of things at the Academy of Bertrand des Amis.
Whatever else in Paris might have been at  a standstill  lately, the fencing
academy had flourished as never hitherto. Usually both  the master  and  his
assistant were busy  from  morning until dusk, and already  Andre-Louis  was
being paid now by the lessons that he gave, the master allowing him one half
of  the fee in  each case for  himself,  an arrangement which the  assistant
found  profitable.  On  Sundays the academy made half-holiday;  but  on this
Sunday such had been the state  of  suspense and ferment in the city that no
one having appeared by eleven o'clock both des Amis and Andre-Louis had gone
out. Little they thought as they lightly took leave of each other
     - they were very  good friends  by now -  that they were  never to meet
again in this world.
     Bloodshed  there  was  that  day  in  Paris.  On  the  Place  Vendome a
detachment  of dragoons  awaited  the crowd  out  of  which Andre-Louis  had
slipped. The  horsemen  swept down upon the  mob, dispersed  it, smashed the
waxen effigy of M. Necker,  and killed one man on  the spot - an unfortunate
French  Guard  who stood his ground. That was a beginning.  As a consequence
Besenval brought up his Swiss from the  Champ de Mars and marshalled them in
battle order  on  the Champs Elysees  with  four  pieces  of  artillery. His
dragoons he stationed in the Place Louis XV. That evening an enormous crowd,
streaming along  the  Champs Elysees and  the Tuileries  Gardens, considered
with  eyes of  alarm that warlike  preparation. Some insults were cast  upon
those foreign mercenaries and some stones were  flung. Besenval,  losing his
head, or  acting  under orders, sent for  his dragoons  and ordered  them to
disperse the  crowd,  But that crowd was  too  dense to be dispersed in this
fashion; so dense that it was  impossible  for the  horsemen to move without
crushing some one. There were several crushed, and as a consequence when the
dragoons, led by the Prince de Lambesc, advanced into the Tuileries Gardens,
the outraged crowd met them  with a fusillade of stones and bottles. Lambesc
gave  the  order  to  fire.  There was a stampede.  Pouring  forth  from the
Tuileries through  the city went those indignant people with their story  of
German cavalry  trampling  upon  women and  children,  and  uttering now  in
grimmest earnest the call  to  arms, raised at  noon  by Desmoulins  in  the
Palais Royal.
     The  victims  were  taken up  and  borne  thence, and amongst them  was
Bertrand  des  Amis, himself - like all who lived by the  sword -  an ardent
upholder of the noblesse, trampled to death under hooves of foreign horsemen
launched by the noblesse and led by a nobleman.
     To Andre-Louis, waiting  that evening on the second floor of No. 13 Rue
du Hasard  for the return  of  his friend and master, four men of the people
brought that  broken body of one  of the earliest victims of the  Revolution
that was now launched in earnest.




     The ferment of Paris which, during the two following days, resembled an
armed camp rather than a city, delayed the burial of Bertrand des Amis until
the Wednesday of that  eventful week. Amid events that were shaking a nation
to its foundations the death  of  a  fencing-master passed almost  unnoticed
even  among his pupils, most of whom did not  come to the academy during the
two days that his  body  lay  there. Some few,  however, did come, and these
conveyed the news to others, with the result that the master was followed to
Pere Lachaise  by a score of young men at the head  of whom as chief mourner
walked Andre-Louis.
     There were no relatives to be advised so  far as Andre-Louis was aware,
although within a week of M.  des  Amis' death a sister turned up from Passy
to claim his heritage. This  was considerable, for the  master had prospered
and  saved money, most  of which was  invested in the Compagnie des Eaux and
the National Debt. Andre-Louis consigned her to the  lawyers, and saw her no
more.
     The death  of des Amis left him with so profound  a sense of loneliness
and desolation  that  he had no  thought or care  for  the sudden  access of
fortune  which it automatically procured him.  To the  master's sister might
fall such wealth as he  had amassed, but  Andre-Louis succeeded  to the mine
itself  from which that wealth  had  been  extracted,  the fencing-school in
which by now  he was himself so well established as an  instructor  that its
numerous pupils looked to him to carry it forward successfully as its chief.
And never was there a season in which fencing-academies knew such prosperity
as in these  troubled  days, when every  man was  sharpening  his  sword and
schooling himself in the uses of it.
     It was not until a couple of weeks later that Andre-Louis realized what
had  really happened  to  him,  and  he  found himself at  the  same time an
exhausted man, for during that fortnight he had been doing the work  of two.
If he had not hit upon the happy expedient of pairing-off  his more advanced
pupils to fence with each other, himself  standing by to criticize,  correct
and otherwise instruct, he  must have  found  the  task  utterly  beyond his
strength.  Even so,  it was necessary for him to fence some six hours daily,
and every day he brought arrears of lassitude from yesterday until he was in
danger of succumbing under the  increasing burden  of fatigue. In the end he
took an assistant to deal with beginners,  who  gave  the  hardest work.  He
found him readily enough  by good fortune in one of his own pupils  named Le
Duc. As the summer advanced, and the concourse of pupils steadily increased,
it  became necessary for  him to take yet another assistant  - an able young
instructor named Galoche - and another room on the floor above.
     They were strenuous days for  Andre-Louis, more strenuous  than  he had
ever known, even when he had been at work to build up the Binet Company; but
it follows that they  were  days of  extraordinary  prosperity.  He comments
regretfully  upon the  fact  that Bertrand  des Amis  should  have  died  by
ill-chance on the very eve of so profitable a vogue of sword-play.
     The arms  of the Academie du Roi,  to which  Andre-Louis had no  title,
still  continued  to  be  displayed  outside  his door. He had overcome  the
difficulty in a manner worthy of Scaramouche. He left the escutcheon and the
legend "Academie de  Bertrand des Amis, Maitre en fait d'Armes des Academies
du Roi," appending to it the further legend: "Conducted by Andre-Louis."
     With little time now in which to go abroad it  was from his  pupils and
the newspapers - of which a flood had risen in Paris with the  establishment
of the freedom of  the Press - that he learnt of the revolutionary processes
around  him, following  upon, as a measure of anticlimax,  the  fall of  the
Bastille.  That had happened whilst M. des Amis  lay dead, on the day before
they buried him, and was indeed the chief reason of the delay in his burial.
It was  an event  that had  its inspiration in that ill-considered charge of
Prince Lambesc in which the fencing-master had been killed.
     The  outraged  people  had besieged the electors in the Hotel de Ville,
demanding arms with which to defend their lives from these foreign murderers
hired by despotism. And in the end the electors  had consented  to give them
arms,  or,  rather  - for arms it had none to give -  to  permit them to arm
themselves. Also it had  given them a cockade, of red and blue,  the colours
of Paris. Because these colours were also those of the liveries of the  Duke
of Orleans, white was added to them - the white  of  the ancient standard of
France - and thus was the tricolour born. Further, a permanent  committee of
electors was appointed to watch over public order.
     Thus empowered  the  people  went  to work  with such good effect  that
within thirty-six  hours sixty  thousand  pikes  had  been  forged. At  nine
o'clock on Tuesday morning thirty thousand men were before the Invalides. By
eleven  o'clock they had ravished it of its  store of arms amounting to some
thirty thousand muskets, whilst others had seized the Arsenal and  possessed
themse1ves of powder.
     Thus they prepared to resist the attack  that from seven points was  to
be launched that  evening  upon the city.  But  Paris did  not wait  for the
attack. It took the  initiative. Mad with enthusiasm it conceived the insane
project of  taking that terrible menacing fortress, the  Bastille, and, what
is more, it succeeded, as you know, before five o'clock that night, aided in
the enterprise by the French Guards with cannon.
     The news  of  it, borne to  Versailles  by Lambesc in flight  with  his
dragoons  before  the   vast  armed  force   that  had  sprouted   from  the
paving-stones  of Paris, gave the Court pause. The people were in possession
of the guns captured from the Bastille. They were erecting barricades in the
streets, and mounting  these guns upon  them.  The attack had been too  long
delayed. It  must be abandoned  since now it could  lead  only to  fruitless
slaughter that  must  further shake  the  already  sorely shaken prestige of
Royalty.
     And  so the Court, growing momentarily  wise again  under  the spur  of
fear,  preferred to temporize. Necker should be brought back yet once again,
the three orders should sit united as the National Assembly demanded. It was
the completest surrender of force to force, the only argument. The King went
alone to inform the National Assembly of that eleventh-hour  resolve, to the
great comfort of  its members,  who viewed with pain and alarm the  dreadful
state  of things in Paris. "No force but the force  of reason  and argument"
was their watchword, and  it was so  to  continue for two years  yet, with a
patience  and  fortitude  in  the  face of ceaseless  provocation  to  which
insufficient justice has been done.
     As the  King was  leaving the  Assembly,  a woman, embracing his knees,
gave tongue to what might well be the question of all France:
     "Ah, sire, are you really sincere? Are  you sure they will not make you
change your mind?"
     Yet  no such question was  asked when  a couple of days later the King,
alone and unguarded save by the representatives of the Nation, came to Paris
to  complete the peacemaking,  the surrender  of  Privilege. The  Court  was
filled with  terror  by  the adventure.  Were they  not the  "enemy,"  these
mutinous Parisians?  And  should  a King  go  thus among his  enemies? If he
shared some of that fear, as the gloom of him might  lead us to suppose,  he
must  have found it idle. What  if two hundred thousand men under arms - men
without uniforms and with the most extraordinary motley of weapons ever seen
- awaited him? They awaited him as a guard of honour.
     Mayor  Bailly at the  barrier presented him  with the keys of the city.
"These are the same keys that were presented to Henri IV. He had reconquered
his people. Now the people have reconquered their King."
     At the Hotel de Ville Mayor  Bailly offered  him  the  new cockade, the
tricoloured symbol of constitutional France, and when he had given his royal
confirmation  to  the  formation   of   the  Garde  Bourgeoise  and  to  the
appointments  of Bailly and Lafayette, he departed again for Versailles amid
the shouts of "Vive le Roi!" from his loyal people.
     And now you see Privilege - before the cannon's mouth, as it were
     - submitting at last, where had they  submitted  sooner they might have
saved oceans of blood - chiefly their own. They  come, nobles and clergy, to
join the National Assembly, to labour with it upon this constitution that is
to  regenerate France. But  the reunion is a  mockery - as much a mockery as
that of  the Archbishop of  Paris singing  the Te Deum  for the  fall of the
Bastille  -  most  grotesque  and incredible  of  all  these  grotesque  and
incredible events. All that has happened to the National Assembly is that it
has  introduced  five  or  six  hundred  enemies  to  hamper and hinder  its
deliberations.
     But  all this is  an oft-told  tale, to be read  in detail elsewhere. I
give  you  here  just so  much  of  it as I  have  found in Andre-Louis' own
writings, almost in his own words, reflecting the changes that were operated
in his mind.  Silent now, he came fully to believe  in those things in which
he had not believed when earlier he had preached them.
     Meanwhile  together with the change in his fortune had come a change in
his  position towards the law, a change brought  about by the other  changes
wrought around him. No  longer need he hide himself. Who in these days would
prefer against  him the grotesque charge of sedition for what he had done in
Brittany? What court  would dare to send him to the gallows for  having said
in advance what all France was saying now? As for that other possible charge
of murder, who should concern himself  with the death of the miserable Binet
killed  by him  -  if,  indeed,  he  had  killed  him,  as  he  hoped  -  in
self-defence.
     And so one fine day in early August, Andre-Louis gave himself a holiday
from the academy, which was now working smoothly under his assistants, hired
a chaise and drove out to Versailles to the Caf' d'Amaury, which he knew for
the meeting-place of the Club Breton, the seed from which was to spring that
Society of the Friends of the Constitution  better known as the Jacobins. He
went to  seek Le Chapelier,  who had been one of the founders of the club, a
man  of great prominence now, president  of the Assembly  in this  important
season when it was deliberating upon the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
     Le Chapelier's importance was reflected  in the sudden servility of the
shirt-sleeved,  white-aproned  waiter  of whom Andre-Louis  inquired for the
representative.
     M. Le Chapelier was above-stairs  with  friends. The waiter desired  to
serve the gentleman, but hesitated to break in upon the assembly in which M.
le Depute found himself.
     Andre-Louis  gave  him a piece of silver to encourage him  to make  the
attempt. Then he sat down at a marble-topped table by the window looking out
over the wide tree-encircled square. There, in that common-room of the caf',
deserted at this hour of mid-afternoon, the great man came to him. Less than
a year  ago he had yielded precedence to Andre-Louis in a matter of delicate
leadership; to-day he stood on the heights,  one of the great leaders of the
Nation  in travail, and  Andre-Louis was  deep  down in the  shadows  of the
general mass.
     The thought  was in the minds of both as they scanned each  other, each
noting in the other the marked change that  a few months had  wrought. In Le
Chapelier, Andre-Louis observed certain heightened refinements of dress that
went with certain subtler refinements of countenance. He was thinner than of
old, his face was pale and there was a weariness in the eyes that considered
his visitor through a gold-rimmed spy-glass. In Andre-Louis  those jaded but
quick-moving eyes of the Breton  deputy noted changes even  more marked. The
almost constant swordmanship  of these last months  had given  Andre-Louis a
grace of movement, a  poise,  and a  curious, indefinable air of dignity, of
command.  He seemed  taller by  virtue of this, and he  was  dressed with an
elegance  which  if  quiet  was  none  the  less   rich.  He  wore  a  small
silver-hilted sword,  and  wore it as if used to it, and his black hair that
Le Chapelier had never seen other than fluttering lank about his bony cheeks
was glossy  now  and  gathered  into a  club. Almost  he  had  the air  of a
petit-maitre.
     In both, however, the changes were purely superficial, as each was soon
to reveal to the other. Le Chapelier was ever the same direct  and downright
Breton, abrupt of manner and of speech. He stood smiling a moment in mingled
surprise and pleasure; then opened  wide his  arms.  They embraced under the
awe-stricken gaze of the waiter, who at once effaced himself.
     "Andre-Louis, my friend! Whence do you drop?"
     "We  drop from above. I come from below to survey at close quarters one
who is on the heights."
     "On the heights! But that you willed it so, it is yourself might now be
standing in my place."
     "I have  a  poor  head  for  heights, and  I  find the  atmosphere  too
rarefied. Indeed, you  look  none too  well on it yourself, Isaac.  You  are
pale."
     "The Assembly was in session all last night. That  is all. These damned
Privileged multiply our difficulties. They  will do so until we decree their
abolition."
     They  sat  down. "Abolition!  You  contemplate so  much?  Not that  you
surprise me. You have always been an extremist."
     "I contemplate it  that  I  may  save them.  I  seek  to  abolish  them
officially, so as to save them  from  abolition of another kind at the hands
of a people they exasperate."
     "I see. And the King?"
     "The  King  is  the  incarnation  of the  Nation. We shall  deliver him
together  with the Nation from the bondage  of  Privilege.  Our constitution
will accomplish it. You agree?"
     Andre-Louis shrugged. "Does it matter? I am a dreamer  in politics, not
a man of  action. Until lately I have been very moderate; more moderate than
you think.  But  now  almost I am  a republican. I have been watching, and I
have  perceived  that  this King  is -  just  nothing, a puppet  who  dances
according to the hand that pulls the string."
     "This King, you say? What other king is possible? You are surely not of
those who weave dreams about Orleans? He has  a sort  of party, a  following
largely recruited by the popular hatred of the Queen and the known fact that
she  hates him.  There are some who have thought of  making him regent, some
even more; Robespierre is of the number."
     "Who?" asked Andre-Louis, to whom the name was unknown.
     "Robespierre - a preposterous  little  lawyer  who  represents Arras, a
shabby,  clumsy,  timid dullard, who will make speeches  through his nose to
which  nobody listens  -  an  ultra-royalist  whom  the  royalists  and  the
Orleanists  are using for their own ends. He has pertinacity, and he insists
upon being  heard.  He may  be  listened  to some day.  But that he,  or the
others,  will ever make  anything  of Orleans... pish!  Orleans  himself may
desire it, but.  the  man is a eunuch in crime; he would,  but he can't. The
phrase is Mirabeau's."
     He broke off to demand Andre-Louis' news of himself.
     "You did not treat me as a friend when you wrote to me," he complained.
"You gave me no clue to your whereabouts; you represented yourself as on the
verge  of destitution and  withheld from  me  the  means  to  come  to  your
assistance. I have been troubled in mind  about  you, Andre. Yet to judge by
your  appearance I  might have  spared myself  that.  You  seem  prosperous,
assured. Tell me of it."
     Andre-Louis told him frankly all that there  was to  tell. "Do you know
that you are  an amazement  to me?" said the  deputy. "From the robe  to the
buskin, and now from the buskin to the sword! What will be the end of you, I
wonder?"
     "The gallows, probably."
     "Fish!  Be serious. Why  not  the toga of  the  senator  in  senatorial
France? It might be yours now if you had willed it so."
     "The surest way to the gallows of all," laughed Andre-Louis.
     At  the moment  Le  Chapelier manifested  impatience. I  wonder did the
phrase cross his mind that day four  years later when himself he rode in the
death-cart to the Greve.
     "We are  sixty-six  Breton deputies in the  Assembly.  Should a vacancy
occur, will you act as suppleant? A word from me together with the influence
of your name in Rennes and Nantes, and the thing is done."
     Andre-Louis laughed  outright. "Do you know, Isaac, that I  never  meet
you but you seek to thrust me into politics?"
     "Because you have a gift for politics. You were born for politics."
     "Ah, yes - Scaramouche  in real life.  I've played it on the stage. Let
that suffice. Tell me, Isaac, what news of my old friend, La Tour d'Azyr?"
     "He  is  here in Versailles, damn  him  -  a  thorn in the flesh of the
Assembly.  They've burnt his  chateau at  La Tour  d'Azyr.  Unfortunately he
wasn't  in it at the time. The flames haven't even  singed his insolence. He
dreams that  when  this philosophic aberration is at  an end, there  will be
serfs to rebuild it for him."
     "So  there has  been  trouble  in  Brittany?"  Andre-Louis  had  become
suddenly grave, his thoughts swinging to Gavrillac.
     "An abundance of it, and elsewhere too. Can you wonder? These delays at
such a time, with famine in the land?  Chateaux have been  going up in smoke
during the last fortnight. The  peasants took their  cue from the Parisians,
and  treated every castle  as  a Bastille. Order is being restored, there as
here, and they are quieter now."
     "What of Gavrillac? Do you know?"
     "I believe all to be well. M. de Kercadiou was not a Marquis de La Tour
d'Azyr. He was in sympathy with his people. It is not likely that they would
injure Gavrillac. But don't you correspond with your godfather?"
     "In the  circumstances  - no. What you tell me  would  make it now more
difficult than ever, for he must account me one of those who helped to light
the torch that has set fire to so much belonging to his class. Ascertain for
me that all is well, and let me know."
     "I will, at once."
     At  parting, when Andre-Louis  was  on  the  point of stepping into his
cabriolet to return to Paris, he sought information on another matter.
     "Do you happen to know if M. de La Tour d'Azyr has married?" he asked.
     "I don't; which really means that he hasn't. One would have heard of it
in the case of that exalted Privileged."
     "To  be  sure."  Andre-Louis spoke  indifferently. "Au  revoir,  Isaac!
You'll come and see me - 13 Rue du Hasard. Come soon."
     "As soon  and as often as my duties  will  allow. They keep me  chained
here at present."
     "Poor slave of duty with your gospel of liberty!"
     "True! And because  of that I will come. I have a duty to  Brittany: to
make Omnes Omnibus one of her representatives in the National Assembly."
     "That is a duty you will oblige me by neglecting," laughed Andre-Louis,
and drove away.




     Later in the  week he  received  a visit from  Le Chapelier just before
noon.
     "I  have news for you,  Andre. Your godfather is at Meudon. He  arrived
there two days ago. Had you heard?"
     "But no. How should I hear? Why is he at Meudon?" He was conscious of a
faint excitement, which he could hardly have explained.
     "I don't know. There have been fresh  disturbances in Brittany. It  may
be due to that."
     "And so he has come for shelter to his brother?" asked Andre-Louis.
     "To his brother's house, yes; but not to his brother. Where do you live
at all, Andre?  Do you never  hear any of  the  news? Etienne  de  Gavrillac
emigrated years ago. He was of the household of M.  d'Artois, and he crossed
the  frontier  with  him.  By  now, no  doubt,  he is  in Germany  with him,
conspiring against France. For  that is  what  the emigres are  doing.  That
Austrian woman at the Tuileries will end by destroying the monarchy."
     "Yes,  yes," said Andre-Louis impatiently. Politics  interested him not
at all this morning. "But about Gavrillac?"
     "Why, haven't I  told you that Gavrillac is at Meudon, installed in the
house his brother has left? Dieu de Dieu! Don't I  speak French or don't you
understand the language?  I  believe  that  Rabouillet, his intendant, is in
charge of Gavrillac. I have brought you the news the moment I received it. I
thought you would probably wish to go out to Meudon."
     "Of  course. I will go  at  once  - that is, as  soon as I can. I can't
to-day, nor yet to-morrow. I am too busy here." He waved  a hand towards the
inner room, whence proceeded the click-click of blades, the quick moving  of
feet, and the voice of the instructor, Le Duc.
     "Well, well, that is your  own affair. You  are busy. I leave you  now.
Let us dine this evening at the Caf' de Foy. Kersain will be of the party."
     "A moment!" Andre-Louis' voice arrested him on the threshold. "Is Mlle.
de Kercadiou with her uncle?"
     "How the devil should I know? Go and find out."
     He was gone, and Andre-Louis stood there a moment deep in thought. Then
he turned and went back to resume with his pupil, the Vicomte de Villeniort,
the interrupted exposition of the demi-contre of Danet, illustrating  with a
small-sword the advantages to be derived from its adoption.
     Thereafter he fenced  with the Vicomte,  who was perhaps the ablest  of
his  pupils at the time,  and all the while his thoughts were on the heights
of Meudon, his mind casting up the lessons he had to give that afternoon and
on  the  morrow,  and  wondering  which of  these he might  postpone without
deranging the academy.  When  having  touched the  Vicomte  three  times  in
succession, he  paused  and  wrenched himself back to the present, it was to
marvel at the precision  to be gained by purely  mechanical action.  Without
bestowing  a thought upon what he was doing, his wrist and arm and knees had
automatically performed their  work,  like the accurate fighting engine into
which constant practice for a year and more had combined them.
     Not until  Sunday  was  Andre-Louis  able to satisfy  a wish which  the
impatience  of the intervening  days had converted into a yearning.  Dressed
with more than ordinary care, his head elegantly coiffed
     -  by one of those hairdressers to the nobility  of  whom so many  were
being  thrown out of employment  by the stream  of  emigration which was now
flowing freely -  Andre-Louis mounted his  hired carriage, and  drove out to
Meudon.
     The  house of the younger Kercadiou no more resembled that of  the head
of the family than did his person. A man of the Court, where his brother was
essentially a man of the  soil,  an officer of the  household of M. le Comte
d'Artois, he had built for himself and his  family an  imposing villa on the
heights of Meudon in a miniature  park, conveniently situated for him midway
between Versailles and Paris, and easily accessible from either. M. d'Artois
-  the royal  tennis-player  - had  been amongst the very first to emigrate.
Together  with  the Condes,  the Contis, the  Polignacs, and  others  of the
Queen's intimate  council, old Marshal de Broglie and the Prince de Lambesc,
who realized that  their very  names had become odious to the people, he had
quitted France  immediately after the fall of the Bastille.  He had  gone to
play tennis beyond the frontier -  and there consummate the  work of ruining
the  French  monarchy upon which he and those  others  had  been engaged  in
France. With him, amongst several members  of his  household went Etienne de
Kercadiou, and with Etienne  de Kercadiou went his  family, a wife  and four
children. Thus it was that the Seigneur  de Gavrillac, glad to escape from a
province  so peculiarly disturbed as that of Brittany - where the nobles had
shown themselves the most intransigent of all France - had come to occupy in
his brother's absence the courtier's handsome villa at Meudon.
     That he was quite happy  there  is  not  to be supposed. A  man  of his
almost Spartan habits, accustomed to plain fare and self-help, was  a little
uneasy in this sybaritic abode, with its soft carpets, profusion of gilding,
and battalion of sleek, silent-footed servants
     - for Kercadiou the younger had left his entire household behind. Time,
which at Gavrillac  he had kept so fully employed in agrarian concerns, here
hung heavily  upon his hands. In self-defence he slept a great deal, and but
for Aline,  who made no attempt to  conceal her delight at this proximity to
Paris  and the  heart  of things, it is possible  that he  would have beat a
retreat almost at once from surroundings that sorted so ill with his habits.
Later  on,  perhaps,  he would  accustom himself and grow  resigned to  this
luxurious inactivity. In the meantime the novelty of  it fretted him, and it
was into the presence of a peevish and rather somnolent M. de Kercadiou that
Andre-Louis was ushered  in the  early hours of the afternoon of that Sunday
in June. He was unannounced, as had ever been the  custom at Gavrillac. This
because  Benoit,  M.  de  Kercadiou's  old seneschal,  had  accompanied  his
seigneur upon this soft  adventure, and was installed - to the ceaseless and
but  half-concealed hilarity of the impertinent  valetaille  that M. Etienne
had left - as his maitre d'hotel here at Meudon.
     Benoit had welcomed M. Andre with  incoherencies of delight; almost had
he gambolled about him like some faithful dog, whilst conducting him  to the
salon and the presence of the Lord of Gavrillac, who would - in the words of
Benoit - be ravished to see M. Andre again.
     "Monseigneur!  Monseigneur!" he cried in a quavering voice,  entering a
pace  or two in advance of the  visitor.  "It  is M. Andre... M. Andre, your
godson, who comes  to kiss your  hand. He is here... and  so  fine  that you
would hardly know him. Here he is, monseigneur! Is he not beautiful?"
     And the old servant rubbed his hands in conviction of  the delight that
he believed he was conveying to his master.
     Andre-Louis crossed the threshold of  that great room, soft-carpeted to
the foot, dazzling to  the eye. It  was immensely  lofty, and its  festooned
ceiling  was carried on fluted  pillars  with gilded capitals. The  door  by
which he entered, and  the windows that opened upon the garden,  were  of an
enormous height - almost, indeed, the full height of the room itself. It was
a room  overwhelmingly gilded, with an abundance of ormolu  encrustations on
the furniture, in which  it nowise  differed from what was  customary in the
dwellings of people of birth and wealth.  Never, indeed, was there a time in
which so much gold was employed decoratively as in this age when coined gold
was  almost unprocurable,  and paper money had been put into circulation  to
supply the lack. It was a saying of Andre-Louis' that if these people  could
only  have been  induced to put the  paper on their walls  and the gold into
their  pockets, the finances of the  kingdom might soon have been  in better
case.
     The  Seigneur  -  furbished  and  beruffled   to   harmonize  with  his
surroundings - had risen, startled by this exuberant invasion on the part of
Benoit, who had  been almost as forlorn as  himself  since  their  coming to
Meudon.
     "What is  it? Eh?" His pale, short-sighted  eyes peered at the visitor.
"Andre!" said he, between surprise and sternness; and the colour deepened in
his great pink face.
     Benoit, with his back to his master, deliberately winked and grinned at
Andre-Louis to encourage him not to be put off by  any apparent hostility on
the part of  his godfather. That done, the intelligent old fellow discreetly
effaced himself.
     "What do you want here?" growled M. de Kercadiou.
     "No more than to kiss your  hand, as Benoit  has  told you, monsieur my
godfather," said Andre-Louis submissively, bowing his sleek black head.
     "You have contrived without kissing it for two years."
     "Do not, monsieur, reproach me with my misfortune."
     The little man stood very stiffly  erect, his disproportionately  large
head thrown back, his pale prominent eyes very stern.
     "Did you think to  make your outrageous offence any better by vanishing
in  that heartless  manner, by leaving us without knowledge  of whether  you
were alive or dead?"
     "At  first it was dangerous -  dangerous to my  life  -  to disclose my
whereabouts. Then for  a time I  was in need, almost destitute, and my pride
forbade  me,  after what  I  had  done and the view you must take  of it, to
appeal to you for help. Later... "
     "Destitute?" The  Seigneur interrupted. For a moment his lip  trembled.
Then he steadied himself, and the frown deepened  as  he surveyed  this very
changed and elegant godson of his, noted the quiet richness of his  apparel,
the  paste  buckles  and red  heels  to  his  shoes,  the  sword  hilted  in
mother-o'-pearl  and  silver,  and  the carefully  dressed hair that he  had
always  seen  hanging  in  wisps  about his  face. "At least you do not look
destitute now," he sneered.
     "I am not. I have prospered since. In that, monsieur, I differ from the
ordinary prodigal,  who returns  only  when he needs  assistance.  I  return
solely because  I  love you, monsieur - to tell you so.  I  have come at the
very  first  moment  after  hearing  of  your  presence  here." He advanced.
"Monsieur my godfather!" he said, and held out his hand.
     But M. de Kercadiou remained unbending, wrapped in his cold dignity and
resentment.
     "Whatever tribulations you may  have  suffered or consider that you may
have suffered, they are far less than your disgraceful conduct deserved, and
I observe that  they have nothing  abated your impudence. You think that you
have but to come here and say, 'Monsieur my godfather!' and everything is to
be forgiven and  forgotten. That is your error. You have committed too great
a wrong; you  have offended against everything  by which I hold, and against
myself personally, by your betrayal of my trust in you. You are one of those
unspeakable scoundrels who are responsible for this revolution."
     "Alas, monsieur,  I  see that  you share  the  common  delusion.  These
unspeakable scoundrels  but  demanded  a constitution, as was promised  them
from the throne. They were not to  know that  the promise  was insincere, or
that its fulfilment would be baulked by the privileged  orders. The men  who
have  precipitated  this  revolution,  monsieur,  are  the  nobles  and  the
prelates."
     "You dare - and  at such a time as this - stand there and tell  me such
abominable  lies! You dare to say that  the nobles have made the revolution,
when scores of them, following  the example of  M. le  Duc d'Aiguillon, have
flung their privileges,  even their title-deeds, into the lap of the people!
Or perhaps you deny it?"
     "Oh, no. Having wantonly set fire  to their  house, they now try to put
it out by throwing  water on  it; and  where they fail  they put  the entire
blame on the flames."
     "I see that you have come here to talk politics."
     "Far from  it.  I  have  come,  if  possible,  to  explain  myself.  To
understand is always to forgive. That is a great saying of Montaigne's. If I
could make you understand... "
     "You  can't.  You'll  never make  me understand how you came to  render
yourself so odiously notorious in Brittany."
     "Ah, not odiously, monsieur!"
     "Certainly,  odiously - among those that matter.  It is  said even that
you were Omnes Omnibus, though that I cannot, will not believe."
     "Yet it is true."
     M. de Kercadiou choked. "And you confess it? You dare to confess it?"
     "What a man dares  to do, he should  dare to  confess - unless  he is a
coward."
     "Oh, and to be  sure you were very brave, running away each  time after
you  had done the  mischief, turning comedian to hide  yourself, doing  more
mischief as a comedian, provoking a riot  in  Nantes, and then  running away
again, to become  God knows  what - something dishonest by the affluent look
of you. My God, man,  I tell you that in these  past two  years I have hoped
that  you were dead, and you profoundly disappoint me  that you are not!" He
beat his  hands together, and raised his shrill voice to call - "Benoit!" He
strode away  towards the  fireplace, scarlet  in the face, shaking  with the
passion into which he had worked himself. "Dead,  I might have forgiven you,
as one who had paid for his evil, and his folly. Living, I never can forgive
you. You have gone too far. God alone knows where it will end.
     "Benoit, the door. M. Andre-Louis Moreau to the  door!" The tone argued
an irrevocable determination. Pale and self-contained, but with a queer pain
at his  heart, Andre-Louis  heard that dismissal, saw Benoit's white, scared
face and shaking hands half-raised as if he  were about to  expostulate with
his master. And then another voice, a crisp, boyish voice, cut in.
     "Uncle!"  it cried, a world of indignation and  surprise in  its pitch,
and  then: "Andre!" And this time  a note  almost of gladness,  certainly of
welcome, was blended with the surprise that still remained.
     Both turned, half the room between them at the moment, and beheld Aline
in one of the long, open windows, arrested there in the act of entering from
the garden, Aline in a milk-maid  bonnet of the latest mode, though  without
any of  the tricolour  embellishments that were  so commonly to be seen upon
them.
     The thin lips of Andre's long mouth  twisted into a  queer  smile. Into
his mind had flashed the memory of their last parting. He saw himself again,
standing burning with indignation upon the pavement of Nantes, looking after
her carriage as it receded down the Avenue de Gigan.
     She was  coming  towards  him now with outstretched hands, a heightened
colour  in  her cheeks, a smile of  welcome  on her lips.  He bowed  low and
kissed her hand in silence.
     Then  with a glance and  a  gesture  she  dismissed  Benoit, and in her
imperious fashion constituted herself Andre's advocate  against  that  harsh
dismissal which she had overheard.
     "Uncle," she said, leaving Andre and crossing to M. de Kercadiou,  "you
make me ashamed of you! To  allow a feeling of peevishness to  overwhelm all
your affection for Andre!"
     "I have no affection for him. I had once. He chose to extinguish it. He
can  go  to the  devil; and  please  observe  that I  don't  permit  you  to
interfere."
     "But if he confesses that he has done wrong... "
     "He confesses nothing of the kind. He comes here to argue with me about
these infernal Rights of Man. He proclaims himself unrepentant. He announces
himself with pride to have been, as all Brittany says, the scoundrel who hid
himself under the sobriquet of Omnes Omnibus. Is that to be condoned?"
     She turned to  look at Andre across the wide  space that  now separated
them.
     "But is this really so? Don't you repent,  Andre - now that you see all
the harm that has come?"
     It  was  a clear  invitation to him, a  pleading  to him to say that he
repented, to make his peace with his godfather. For a moment it almost moved
him. Then,  considering  the subterfuge  unworthy, he  answered  truthfully,
though the pain he was suffering rang in his voice.
     "To confess  repentance,"  he  said slowly,  "would  be to confess to a
monstrous  crime. Don't  you see that? Oh, monsieur, have patience  with me;
let me explain myself a  little. You say  that I am  in part responsible for
something of all this that has happened.  My exhortations  of the people  at
Rennes and twice afterwards at Nantes are  said to  have had  their share in
what followed there. It may be so. It would be beyond my power positively to
deny it. Revolution followed  and  bloodshed. More may  yet come.  To repent
implies a recognition that I  have done wrong. How  shall I say  that I have
done wrong, and thus take a share  of the responsibility for all  that blood
upon my soul? I will be quite  frank with you to show you how far, indeed, I
am from repentance. What I did, I actually did against all my convictions at
the  time.  Because  there was no justice  in  France  to  move against  the
murderer of  Philippe  de Vilmorin, I moved in the only way that  I imagined
could make the evil done  recoil upon the hand that did it, and  those other
hands that had  the power but not  the spirit to punish.  Since then  I have
come  to see that I was wrong, and  that Philippe  de Vilmorin and those who
thought with him were in the right.
     "You  must  realize, monsieur, that  it is with  sincerest thankfulness
that  I find  I  have done  nothing  calling for  repentance;  that,  on the
contrary, when France is given the inestimable  boon of  a  constitution, as
will shortly happen, I may take pride  in having played my  part in bringing
about the conditions that have made this possible."
     There was a pause. M. de Kercadiou's face turned from pink to purple.
     "You have quite finished?" he said harshly.
     "If you have understood me, monsieur."
     "Oh, I have understood you, and... and I beg that you will go."
     Andre-Louis shrugged his shoulders and hung his head. He had come there
so  joyously,  in  such yearning,  merely to receive a final  dismissal.  He
looked at Aline. Her face was pale and troubled; but her  wit failed to show
her how she could  come to his  assistance. His excessive honesty  had burnt
all his boats.
     "Very well, monsieur. Yet this I would ask  you to remember after  I am
gone. I have not come to you as one seeking assistance, as one driven to you
by need. I am no returning prodigal,  as I have said. I am one  who, needing
nothing, asking nothing, master of his own destinies, has come to you driven
by  affection only, urged by  the love and gratitude  he bears  you and will
continue to bear you."
     "Ah, yes!" cried Aline,  turning now to her uncle. Here at least was an
argument in Andre's favour, thought she. "That is true. Surely that..."
     Inarticulately he hissed her into silence, exasperated.
     "Hereafter perhaps  that  will  help you to think  of  me more  kindly,
monsieur.
     "I see no occasion, sir, to think  of you at all. Again, I beg that you
will go."
     Andre-Louis looked at Aline an instant, as if still hesitating.
     She answered him by a glance at her furious uncle, a faint shrug, and a
lift of the eyebrows, dejection the while in her countenance.
     It was as if she said: "You see his mood. There is nothing to be done."
     He bowed with that singular  grace  the fencing-room had  given him and
went out by the door.
     "Oh, it is cruel!" cried Aline, in a stifled voice, her hands clenched,
and she sprang to the window.
     "Aline!" her uncle's voice arrested her. "Where are you going?"
     "But we do not know where he is to be found."
     "Who wants to find the scoundrel?"
     "We may never see him again."
     "That is most fervently to be desired."
     Aline said "Ouf!" and went out by the window.
     He called after her, imperiously commanding her return. But Aline
     - dutiful child  - closed her ears lest she  must disobey him, and sped
light-footed across the lawn to  the avenue there to intercept the departing
Andre-Louis.
     As he came forth wrapped in gloom, she stepped from the bordering trees
into his path.
     "Aline!" he cried, joyously almost.
     "I did not want you to go like this. I couldn't let you,  she explained
herself.  "I know  him  better than you  do, and I know that his great  soft
heart will presently  melt. He  will be filled with regret. He will  want to
send for you, and he will not know where to send."
     "You think that?"
     "Oh,  I  know  it!  You arrive  in a  bad  moment.  He  is  peevish and
cross-grained, poor man, since he came here. These soft surroundings are all
so strange to him. He wearies himself away from  his beloved  Gavrillac, his
hunting and tillage,  and  the truth is that  in his  mind  he very  largely
blames you for what has happened
     - for the necessity, or at least, the wisdom, of this change. Brittany,
you must  know, was  becoming  too  unsafe.  The chateau of La  Tour d'Azyr,
amongst others,  was  burnt to the ground some  months ago. At  any  moment,
given a fresh excitement, it may be the  turn of Gavrillac. And for this and
his present  discomfort he blames you  and  your  friends. But  he will come
round presently.  He will be sorry  that  he sent you away like this - for I
know that he loves you, Andre, in spite of all. I shall reason with him when
the time comes. And then we shall want to know where to find you."
     "At number 13, Rue  du Hasard.  The number is unlucky, the name of  the
street appropriate. Therefore both are easy to remember."
     She nodded. "I will walk with you to  the gates." And side by  side now
they proceeded at a leisurely pace down the long avenue in the June sunshine
dappled by the shadows of the bordering trees. "You are looking well, Andre;
and  do you know  that you have changed a  deal?  I am glad  that  you  have
prospered." And then,  abruptly changing the  subject before he had  time to
answer her, she came to the matter uppermost in her mind.
     "I have  so  wanted to see you in all these months, Andre. You were the
only one  who could help me; the only one who could tell me the truth, and I
was angry  with you for  never having  written to say where  you were  to be
found."
     "Of course you encouraged me to do so when last we met in Nantes."
     "What? Still resentful?"
     "I  am never resentful. You  should know that." He expressed one of his
vanities. He loved to think himself a Stoic. "But I still bear the scar of a
wound that would be the better for the balm of your retraction."
     "Why, then, I retract, Andre. And now tell me."
     "Yes, a self-seeking  retraction," said he. "You give me something that
you may obtain something." He laughed quite pleasantly. "Well, well; command
me."
     "Tell me, Andre." She  paused, as  if in some difficulty, and then went
on, her eyes  upon the ground: "Tell  me -  the truth of that event  at  the
Feydau."
     The request  fetched  a  frown to his brow.  He suspected  at once  the
thought  that prompted it. Quite simply and briefly he  gave her his version
of the affair.
     She  listened very attentively.  When  he had done she sighed; her face
was very thoughtful.
     "That is much  what I was told," she said. "But it was added that M. de
La Tour d'Azyr had gone to the theatre expressly for the purpose of breaking
finally with La Binet. Do you know if that was so?"
     "I don't; nor  of any reason why it should be so. La Binet provided him
the sort of amusement that he and his kind are forever craving... "
     "Oh,  there  was a reason,"  she interrupted him. "I was the  reason. I
spoke to Mme.  de Sautron.  I told her  that I would not continue to receive
one  who came  to me  contaminated in that fashion." She  spoke of  it  with
obvious difficulty, her colour rising as he watched her half-averted face.
     "Had  you  listened  to  me...  "  he  was  beginning,  when  again she
interrupted him.
     "M.  de Sautron conveyed my decision to him, and afterwards represented
him to me as a man in despair,  repentant, ready to give proofs - any proofs
- of his sincerity and  devotion to me. He told me that M. de La Tour d'Azyr
had sworn to him  that he  would cut short that affair, that he would see La
Binet no more. And then, on  the very next day I heard of his having all but
lost his life in that  riot  at the theatre. He had gone straight  from that
interview with  M. de Sautron,  straight from those protestations of  future
wisdom, to La Binet. I was indignant.  I pronounced myself finally. I stated
definitely  that  I  would not  in any circumstances  receive M.  de La Tour
d'Azyr  again!  And then they pressed this  explanation  upon me. For a long
time I would not believe it."
     "So that you believe it now," said Andre quickly. "Why?"
     "I have not  said that I believe it now.  But...  but... neither  can I
disbelieve. Since we  came to Meudon M. de La Tour d'Azyr has been here, and
himself he has sworn to me that it was so."
     "Oh, if M. de La Tour d'Azyr has sworn... " Andre-Louis was laughing on
a bitter note of sarcasm.
     "Have  you ever known  him lie?"  she cut in sharply. That checked him.
"M. de  La Tour  d'Azyr is, after all, a man of honour,  and  men of  honour
never deal  in  falsehood.  Have you  ever known him do so, that you  should
sneer as you have done?"
     "No," he confessed. Common justice demanded that  he should admit  that
virtue at least in his enemy. "I  have not known  him lie,  it is  true. His
kind  is too arrogant, too self-confident to have recourse to untruth. But I
have known him do things as vile... "
     "Nothing is as vile," she interrupted, speaking from the code by  which
she had been reared. "It is for liars only - who are first cousin to thieves
- that there is no hope. It  is in falsehood only that there is real loss of
honour."
     "You are defending that satyr, I think," he said frostily.
     "I desire to be just."
     "Justice may seem to you a different matter when at last you shall have
resolved yourself to become Marquise de La Tour d'Azyr." He spoke bitterly.
     "I don't think that I shall ever take that resolve."
     "But you are still not sure - in spite of everything."
     "Can one ever be sure of anything in this world?"
     "Yes. One can be sure of being foolish."
     Either she did not hear or did not heed him.
     "You do not of your own knowledge know that it was not as M. de La Tour
d'Azyr asserts - that he went to the Feydau that night?"
     "I don't," he admitted. "It is of course possible. But does it matter?"
     "It might matter. Tell me; what became of La Binet after all?"
     "I don't know."
     "You don't know?"  She turned to consider him. "And you can say it with
that indifference! I thought... I thought you loved her, Andre"
     "So did I, for a little while.  I was  mistaken. It required  a La Tour
d'Azyr to disclose the  truth to me. They have their  uses, these gentlemen.
They help stupid fellows like  myself to  perceive  important truths. I  was
fortunate that revelation in my case preceded marriage. I can now  look back
upon  the episode with  equanimity and thankfulness for my  near escape from
the consequences of what was no more than an aberration of the senses. It is
a thing commonly confused with  love. The experience,  as you see,  was very
instructive."
     She looked at him in frank surprise.
     "Do you know, Andre, I sometimes think that you have no heart."
     "Presumably  because  I  sometimes  betray intelligence.  And  what  of
yourself, Aline?  What of  your own attitude from the outset where M.  de La
Tour d'Azyr  is concerned? Does that show heart? If I  were to tell you what
it  really shows, we should end by quarrelling again, and  God knows I can't
afford to quarrel with you now. I... I shall take another way.
     "What do you mean?"
     "Why, nothing at the  moment, for you are not in any danger of marrying
that animal."
     "And if I were?"
     "Ah! In that case affection for you would discover to me some  means of
preventing it - unless.. ." He paused.
     "Unless?"  she demanded, challengingly,  drawn to the full  of her sort
height, her eyes imperious.
     "Unless you could  also tell  me that  you  loved him," said he simply,
whereat  she was  as  suddenly and  most oddly softened. And then he  added,
shaking his head: "But that of course is impossible."
     "Why?" she asked him, quite gently now.
     "Because you are what  you  are,  Aline -  utterly good  and  pure  and
adorable. Angels do not mate  with  devils. His wife you  might become,  but
never his mate, Aline - never."
     They had  reached the wrought-iron  gates  at  the  end of  the avenue.
Through these  they beheld  the  waiting yellow  chaise  which  had  brought
Andre-Louis. From  near at hand came the creak of other wheels, the  beat of
other  hooves,  and now  another  vehicle  came  in  sight,  and drew  to  a
stand-still  beside the  yellow  chaise -  a handsome equipage with polished
mahogany panels on  which  the gold and azure  of armorial  bearings flashed
brilliantly in  the sunlight. A  footman  swung to earth to  throw wide  the
gates; but in that  moment the lady  who  occupied the  carriage, perceiving
Aline, waved to her and issued a command.




     The postilion drew rein, and  the footman opened the door, letting down
the steps  and proffering his  arm to his mistress to assist her  to alight,
since that was  the wish she had expressed. Then he opened  one wing  of the
iron gates, and  held it for  her. She  was a woman  of something  more than
forty,  who once must have  been very lovely, who was very lovely still with
the refining quality that age brings to  some women. Her dress and  carriage
alike advertised great rank.
     "I take my leave here, since you have a visitor," said Andre-Louis.
     "But it is an old acquaintance of your own, Andre. You remember Mme. la
Comtesse de Plougastel?"
     He looked at the approaching lady, whom Aline was now hastening forward
to  meet,  and because she was named to  him he recognized her.  He must, he
thought, had he  but looked, have recognized her without prompting  anywhere
at any time,  and this although it was some  sixteen years since last he had
seen  her. The  sight of her  now brought  it all back to him -  a treasured
memory that had never permitted itself to be entirely overlaid by subsequent
events.
     When he was a boy of ten, on the eve of being sent to school at Rennes,
she  had come  on a visit to his godfather, who was  her cousin. It happened
that at  the time he was  taken by Rabouillet to the Manor of Gavrillac, and
there he had been presented to Mme. de  Plougastel. The great  lady, in  all
the glory then of her youthful beauty, with her gentle, cultured voice -  so
cultured that she had  seemed to  speak  a  language almost  unknown to  the
little Breton lad - and her majestic  air of the great world, had scared him
a little  at first.  Very gently had she allayed those fears of  his, and by
some  mysterious  enchantment she  had completely  enslaved  his  regard. He
recalled now the terror in which he  had gone to the embrace to which he was
bidden, and the  subsequent  reluctance  with  which he  had left those soft
round  arms.  He remembered, too, how sweetly she  had smelled and  the very
perfume she had used,  a perfume as of  lilac  - for  memory  is  singularly
tenacious in these matters.
     For three days whilst she had been at Gavrillac,  he had  gone daily to
the manor, and so had spent hours in her company. A childless woman with the
maternal  instinct  strong  within  her,  she  had  taken  this precociously
intelligent, wide-eyed lad to her heart.
     "Give him to me, Cousin  Quintin," he remembered her saying on the last
of those days to his godfather.  "Let me take him back with me to Versailles
as my adopted child."
     But the  Seigneur had  gravely shaken  his head in silent  refusal, and
there had been no further question of such a thing. And then,  when she said
good-bye to him - the thing came flooding back to him now
     - there had been tears in her eyes.
     "Think of me sometimes, Andre-Louis," had been her last words.
     He  remembered how flattered he had  been to have won within so short a
time the affection  of this great lady. The thing had given him  a  sense of
importance that  had  endured  for  months thereafter, finally  to fade into
oblivion.
     But  all was  vividly remembered  now upon beholding her  again,  after
sixteen years, profoundly changed  and matured, the girl - for she had  been
no more in those old days - sunk in  this worldly woman with the air of calm
dignity and complete self-possession. Yet, he insisted, he  must  have known
her anywhere again.
     Aline embraced her  affectionately, and  then answering the questioning
glance  with  faintly  raised  eyebrows  that madame  was directing  towards
Aline's companion -
     "This is Andre-Louis," she said. "You remember Andre-Louis, madame?"
     Madame  checked. Andre-Louis saw  the  surprise  ripple over her  face,
taking with it some of her colour, leaving her for a moment breathless.
     And then the voice  - the well-remembered rich, musical voice  - richer
and deeper now than of yore, repeated his name:
     "Andre-Louis!"
     Her manner of uttering it suggested that it awakened memories, memories
perhaps of the departed youth with which it was associated. And she paused a
long moment, considering him, a little wide-eyed, what  time he bowed before
her.
     "But of course I remember him," she said at last, and came towards him,
putting  out  her hand. He kissed it dutifully, submissively, instinctively.
"And this  is what you  have grown into?" She appraised him, and he  flushed
with pride at  the  satisfaction  in her tone. He seemed to  have  gone back
sixteen years,  and  to be again the  little Breton  lad  at Gavrillac.  She
turned  to  Aline.  "How mistaken Quintin  was  in his  assumptions.  He was
pleased to see him again, was he not?"
     "So pleased, madame, that he has shown me the door," said Andre-Louis.
     "Ah!" She frowned, conning him still  with those dark, wistful  eyes of
hers. "We must change  that, Aline. He is of course very angry with you. But
it is not the  way to make converts. I will plead for you, Andre-Louis. I am
a good advocate."
     He thanked her and took his leave.
     "I leave my case in your hands with gratitude. My homage, madame."
     And  so  it  happened  that  in  spite of  his  godfather's  forbidding
reception of  him, the  fragment  of a  song  was on  his lips as his yellow
chaise whirled him  back  to Paris and the Rue  du Hasard. That meeting with
Mme. de Plougastel  had  enheartened him; her promise to plead  his  case in
alliance with Aline gave him assurance that all would be well.
     That he was justified of this was proved when on the following Thursday
towards  noon his academy was invaded  by  M. de Kercadiou. Gilles, the boy,
brought him  word of  it, and breaking off at once the lesson upon  which he
was engaged, he  pulled  off his mask, and went  as he was  -  in a  chamois
Waistcoat buttoned to the chin and with his foil under his arm to the modest
salon below, where his godfather awaited him.
     The florid little Lord of Gavrillac stood  almost defiantly to  receive
him.
     "I have been over-persuaded to forgive you," he announced aggressively,
seeming thereby to  imply that he  consented to this merely so as to put  an
end to tiresome importunities.
     Andre-Louis  was not misled.  He  detected  a  pretence adopted  by the
Seigneur so as to enable him to retreat in good order.
     "My  blessings  on the  persuaders,  whoever they may  have  been.  You
restore me my happiness, monsieur my godfather."
     He took  the hand that  was proffered and  kissed  it, yielding to  the
impulse of the unfailing habit of his boyish days.  It was an act symbolical
of his complete submission, reestablishing between himself and his godfather
the bond of protected  and protector, with all the  mutual claims and duties
that  it carries.  No mere words could more  completely have  made his peace
with this man who loved him.
     M.  de Kercadiou's  face flushed a  deeper pink, his lip  trembled, and
there  was  a  huskiness in the voice that murmured "My  dear boy!" Then  he
recollected  himself,  threw  back his great  head  and  frowned.  His voice
resumed its habitual shrillness. "You realize, I hope, that you have behaved
damnably... damnably, and with the utmost ingratitude?"
     "Does not that depend upon the point of view?"  quoth Andre-Louis,  but
his tone was studiously conciliatory.
     "It depends upon  a fact,  and not upon any point of view. Since I have
been persuaded to overlook it, I trust that at least you have some intention
of reforming."
     "I... I will abstain  from politics,"  said Andre-Louis, that being the
utmost he could say with truth.
     "That  is something, at least." His  godfather permitted himself to  be
mollified, now that a concession - or a  seeming  concession - had been made
to his just resentment.
     "A chair, monsieur."
     "No, no. I have come to  carry you off to  pay a visit with me. You owe
it  entirely  to Mme. de  Plougastel that I consent to  receive you again. I
desire that you come with me to thank her."
     "I have my engagements here... " began Andre-Louis, and then broke off.
"No matter! I will arrange it. A moment." And he was turning away to reenter
the academy.
     "What    are   your   engagements?    You   are   not   by   chance   a
fencing-instructor?" M. de  Kercadiou had observed the leather waistcoat and
the foil tucked under Andre-Louis' arm.
     "I am the master of this academy - the academy of the late Bertrand des
Amis, the most flourishing school of arms in Paris to-day."
     M. de Kercadiou's brows went up.
     "And you are master of it?"
     "Maitre  en fait  d'Armes. I succeeded to the academy upon the death of
des Amis."
     He  left  M.  Kercadiou  to  think  it  over,  and  went  to  make  his
arrangements and effect the necessary changes in his toilet.
     "So  that is  why  you have  taken  to wearing  a  sword," said  M.  de
Kercadiou, as they climbed into his waiting carriage.
     "That and the need to guard one's self in these times."
     "And do you mean to tell me that a man who lives  by what  is after all
an honourable profession, a profession mainly supported by the nobility, can
at  the  same time associate  himself with these peddling attorneys and  low
pamphleteers who are spreading dissension and insubordination?"
     "You forget that I am a peddling  attorney myself, made so  by your own
wishes, monsieur."
     M.  de  Kercadiou  grunted,  and  took  snuff.  "You  say  the  academy
flourishes?" he asked presently.
     "It does. I  have two assistant instructors. I could employ a third. It
is hard work."
     "That should mean that your circumstances are affluent."
     "I have reason to be satisfied. I have far more than I need."
     "Then  you'll be  able to  do  your share  in paying  off this national
debt," growled the nobleman, well content that as he conceived it
     - some of  the  evil Andre-Louis had helped to  sow should  recoil upon
him.
     Then  the  talk  veered  to  Mme.  de  Plougastel.   M.  de  Kercadiou,
Andre-Louis gathered, but not  the  reason for it, disapproved most strongly
of this visit. But then Madame la Comtesse was a headstrong woman whom there
was no denying, whom all  the world  obeyed. M. de Plougastel was at present
absent in Germany,  but would shortly  be  returning.  It was an  indiscreet
admission from which it was easy to infer  that M. de Plougastel  was one of
those  intriguing  emissaries who came  and went between the Queen of France
and her brother, the Emperor of Austria.
     The  carriage  drew  up  before  a  handsome  hotel  in   the  Faubourg
Saint-Denis, at the corner of the  Rue Paradis, and they  were ushered by  a
sleek servant into  a little boudoir, all gilt and brocade, that opened upon
a terrace above a garden that was a park in miniature.  Here madame  awaited
them. She rose, dismissing the young person who had been reading to her, and
came forward with both hands outheld to greet her cousin Kercadiou.
     "I almost feared you  would  not  keep your word,"  she said.  "It  was
unjust. But then I hardly hoped that you would succeed in bringing him." And
her glance, gentle, and smiling welcome upon him, indicated Andre-Louis.
     The young man made answer with formal gallantry.
     "The memory of you, madame, is too deeply imprinted on my heart for any
persuasions to have been necessary."
     "Ah, the courtier!" said madame, and abandoned him her hand. "We are to
have a little talk, Andre-Louis," she informed him, with a gravity that left
him vaguely ill at ease.
     They sat down, and for a while the conversation was of general matters,
chiefly concerned, however, with Andre-Louis, his occupations and his views.
And  all the while  madame was studying  him  attentively with those gentle,
wistful eyes, until again that sense of uneasiness began to  pervade him. He
realized instinctively that he had been brought here for some purpose deeper
than that which had been avowed.
     At last, as  if the thing  were concerted -  and  the  clumsy  Lord  of
Gavrillac was the last man in the world  to cover his tracks - his godfather
rose and, upon a pretext of desiring to survey the garden, sauntered through
the  windows  on  to  the terrace, over  whose  white  stone  balustrade the
geraniums trailed in a scarlet  riot.  Thence he vanished  among the foliage
below.
     "Now we can  talk more intimately," said  madame. "Come here,  and  sit
beside me." She indicated the empty half of the settee she occupied.
     Andre-Louis went  obediently, but a little uncomfortably.  "You  know,"
she said gently, placing a hand upon his  arm, "that  you have behaved  very
ill, that your godfather's resentment is very justly founded?"
     "Madame,  if  I knew that, I  should  be the  most  unhappy,  the  most
despairing  of men.". And he explained himself, as he  had explained himself
on Sunday to his godfather. "What I did, I did because it was the only means
to my  hand in a country in which justice was paralyzed by Privilege to make
war upon  an infamous  scoundrel who had killed my best  friend  - a wanton,
brutal act of murder, which there was no law to punish. And as if that  were
not enough - forgive me if I speak  with  the utmost frankness, madame -  he
afterwards debauched the woman I was to have married."
     "Ah, mon Dieu!" she cried out.
     "Forgive me. I know that it is  horrible. You perceive, perhaps, what I
suffered,  how I came to be driven. That last affair of  which I am guilty -
the riot that began in the Feydau Theatre and afterwards enveloped the whole
city of Nantes - was provoked by this."
     "Who was she, this girl?"
     It was like a woman, he thought, to fasten upon the unessential.
     "Oh, a theatre girl, a  poor fool of whom I  have no regrets.  La Binet
was her name.  I was a player at the time in her father's troupe.  That  was
after the Rennes business, when it was  necessary to hide  from such justice
as  exists in  France -  the gallows' justice for unfortunates who  are  not
'born.' This added wrong led me to provoke a riot in the theatre."
     "Poor boy," she said  tenderly. "Only a woman's heart can  realize what
you must  have  suffered; and because of that I  can so readily forgive you.
But now... "
     "Ah, but you don't understand, madame. If  to-day I thought that  I had
none  but personal  grounds  for  having lent  a hand  in  the  holy work of
abolishing Privilege, I think I should cut my throat. My  true justification
lies in the insincerity of those who intended  that  the  convocation of the
States General should be a sham, mere dust in the eyes of the nation."
     "Was it not, perhaps, wise to have been insincere in such a matter?"
     He looked at her blankly.
     "Can it ever be wise, madame, to be insincere?"
     "Oh, indeed  it can; believe me, who am  twice your  age,  and  know my
world."
     "I should say, madame, that nothing is wise that complicates existence;
and I  know of nothing  that  so complicates  it as  insincerity. Consider a
moment the complications that have arisen out of this."
     "But  surely,  Andre-Louis, your views have not  been so perverted that
you do not see that a governing class is a necessity in any country?"
     "Why, of course. But not necessarily a hereditary one."
     "What else?"
     He answered her with an epigram. "Man, madame, is  the child of his own
work.  Let there  be no inheriting of rights but from such  a parent. Thus a
nation's best will  always  predominate,  and  such  a nation  will  achieve
greatly."
     "But do you account birth of no importance?"
     "Of none, madame - or else my own  might  trouble  me."  From  the deep
flush  that stained her face, he feared  that  he had  offended  by what was
almost an  indelicacy. But the reproof that  he was expecting did not  come.
Instead -
     "And does it not?" she asked. "Never, Andre?"
     "Never, madame. I am content."
     "You have never.., never regretted your lack of parents' care?"
     He laughed,  sweeping aside her  sweet  charitable concern that was  so
superfluous.  "On the contrary, madame,  I tremble to  think what they might
have made of me, and I am grateful to have had the fashioning of myself."
     She looked at him for  a moment  very sadly,  and then, smiling, gently
shook her head.
     "You do  not want self-satisfaction...  Yet I could wish  that you  saw
things differently, Andre. It is a moment of great opportunities for a young
man of talent and spirit. I could help you; I could help you, perhaps, to go
very far if you would permit yourself to be helped after my fashion."
     "Yes," he thought, "help  me to a halter by sending me  on  treasonable
missions to Austria on the Queen's behalf, like M. de Plougastel. That would
certainly end in a high position for me."
     Aloud he answered more as politeness prompted. "I  am grateful, madame.
But you  will see that, holding  the ideals I  have expressed,  I could  not
serve any cause that is opposed to their realization."
     "You are misled by prejudice, Andre-Louis, by personal grievances. Will
you allow them to stand in the way of your advancement?"
     "If what I call ideals were really prejudices, would it be honest of me
to run counter to them whilst holding them?"
     "If I could  convince you that you are  mistaken!  I could  help you so
much to find a worthy employment for the talents you possess. In the service
of the King you would prosper quickly.  Will  you think of it,  Andre-Louis,
and let us talk of this again?"
     He answered her with formal, chill politeness.
     "I fear that it would be idle, madame. Yet  your interest in me is very
flattering,  and I  thank you.  It  is unfortunate  for  me  that  I  am  so
headstrong."
     "And now who deals in insincerity?" she asked him.
     "Ah, but you see, madame, it is an insincerity that does not mislead."
     And  then  M.  de Kercadiou  came in  through  the  window  again,  and
announced fussily that he must be  getting back to Meudon, and that he would
take his godson with him and set him down at the Rue du Hasard.
     "You must bring him  again,  Quintin," the  Countess said, as they took
their leave of her.
     "Some day, perhaps,"said M. de Kercadiou vaguely, and swept his  godson
out.
     In the carriage he asked him bluntly of what madame had talked.
     "She was very kind - a sweet woman," said Andre-Louis pensively.
     "Devil take you, I didn't ask you  the opinion that you presume to have
formed of her. I asked you what she said to you.
     "She strove to point out to me the error of my ways. She spoke of great
things that I might do - to which she would very kindly help me - if I  were
to come to my senses.  But  as miracles  do not happen,  I  gave her  little
encouragement to hope."
     "I see. I see. Did she say anything else?"
     He was so peremptory that Andre-Louis turned to look at him.
     "What else did you expect her to say, monsieur my godfather?"
     "Oh, nothing."
     "Then she fulfilled your expectations."
     "Eh?  Oh,  a thousand devils,  why  can't  you  express  yourself  in a
sensible manner that  a plain  man can understand  without  having to  think
about it?"
     He sulked after that  most of  the way to the Rue du Hasard, or  so  it
seemed to  Andre-Louis. At least he sat silent, gloomily thoughtful to judge
by his expression.
     "You may come and see us soon again at Meudon," he  told Andre-Louis at
parting. "But please  remember - no revolutionary politics  in future, if we
are to remain friends."




     One morning in  August the  academy in the Rue du Hasard was invaded by
Le Chapelier accompanied by a  man of remarkable appearance, whose herculean
stature and disfigured  countenance seemed vaguely familiar  to Andre-Louis.
He was  a man  of  little, if anything, over thirty, with  small bright eyes
buried in an enormous  face. His  cheek-bones were prominent, his nose awry,
as  if  it  had been  broken by a blow, and his  mouth  was  rendered almost
shapeless by the scars of another injury. (A bull had horned him in the face
when he was but a lad.) As if that were not enough to render  his appearance
terrible,  his cheeks were deeply  pock-marked. He was dressed untidily in a
long  scarlet  coat  that descended almost to his  ankles,  soiled  buckskin
breeches and boots with reversed tops. His  shirt, none too  clean, was open
at  the  throat,  the  collar  hanging  limply  over  an  unknotted  cravat,
displaying fully the muscular  neck that rose like a pillar from his massive
shoulders. He swung  a cane that  was almost a club in  his left  hand,  and
there was a cockade in his biscuit-coloured, conical hat. He carried himself
with an aggressive, masterful air, that great head of his  thrown back as if
he were eternally at defiance.
     Le Chapelier, whose manner was very grave, named him to Andre-Louis.
     "This is M.  Danton, a brother-lawyer, President  of the Cordeliers, of
whom you will have heard."
     Of course Andre-Louis had heard of him. Who had not, by then?
     Looking at him now with interest, Andre-Louis wondered how it came that
all,  or nearly all the leading innovators,  were pock-marked. Mirabeau, the
journalist Desmoulins,  the  philanthropist  Marat, Robespierre  the  little
lawyer  from  Arras,  this formidable fellow Danton,  and several others  he
could call to mind all bore upon them the scars of smallpox. Almost he began
to wonder  was  there  any  connection between the  two. Did  an  attack  of
smallpox produce certain moral results which found expression in this way?
     He  dismissed the idle speculation, or rather  it  was shattered by the
startling thunder of Danton's voice.
     "This -- Chapelier has told me of you. He says that you are a patriotic
-- ."
     More than by the tone was Andre-Louis startled by  the obscenities with
which the Colossus did not hesitate to interlard his first speech to a total
stranger. He laughed outright. There was nothing else to do.
     "If he has  told you that, he has told you more  than the truth! I am a
patriot. The rest my modesty compels me to disavow."
     "You're  a  joker  too, it seems,"  roared the  other, but  he  laughed
nevertheless, and the volume of it shook the windows. "There's no offence in
me. I am like that."
     "What a pity," said Andre-Louis.
     It  disconcerted the king of the  markets. "Eh? what's this, Chapelier?
Does he give himself airs, your friend here?"
     The spruce Breton,  a very  petit-maitre in appearance by contrast with
his  companion,  but  nevertheless  of  a down-right  manner quite  equal to
Danton's  in  brutality,  though dispensing  with the  emphasis of foulness,
shrugged as he answered him:
     "It is merely that he  doesn't like your manners, which  is not  at all
surprising. They are execrable."
     "Ah, bah! You are all like that, you - Bretons. Let's come to business.
You'll have heard what took place in the Assembly yesterday? You haven't? My
God, where do you live? Have you heard that this scoundrel who calls himself
King of  France gave  passage across  French soil the  other day to Austrian
troops going to crush those who fight for liberty in Belgium? Have you heard
that, by any chance?"
     "Yes,"  said  Andre-Louis coldly,  masking  his  irritation before  the
other's hectoring manner. "I have heard that."
     "Oh! And what do you  think  of it?" arms akimbo,  the Colossus towered
above him.
     Andre-Louis turned aside to Le Chapelier.
     "I  don't think I  understand. Have you brought  this gentleman here to
examine my conscience?"
     "Name of a name! He 's prickly as a - porcupine!" Danton protested.
     "No, no." Le Chapelier was conciliatory, seeking to provide an antidote
to the irritant administered by his companion. "We require your help, Andre.
Danton here thinks that you are the very man for us. Listen now... "
     "That's  it.  You  tell him,"  Danton  agreed.  "You both talk the same
mincing - sort of French. He'll probably understand you."
     Le Chapelier went on without heeding the interruption. "This  violation
by  the  King  of  the  obvious rights of a  country  engaged in  framing  a
constitution  that  shall  make it  free has  shattered  every philanthropic
illusion we  still cherished.  There  are those who go so far as to proclaim
the King the vowed enemy of France. But that, of course, is excessive.
     "Who  says  so?" blazed Danton, and swore horribly by way of  conveying
his total disagreement.
     Le Chapelier waved him into silence, and proceeded.
     "Anyhow, the matter has been more than  enough, added to all the  rest,
to set us by the ears again  in  the Assembly.  It is  open war  between the
Third Estate and the Privileged."
     "Was it ever anything else?"
     "Perhaps not; but it has assumed a  new character. You'll have heard of
the duel between Lameth and the Duc de Castries?"
     "A trifling affair."
     "In  its  results.  But  it  might have  been far  other.  Mirabeau  is
challenged  and  insulted  now  at  every sitting.  But  he  goes  his  way,
cold-bloodedly wise. Others are not  so  circumspect; they meet insult  with
insult,  blow with blow, and blood is being shed in private duels. The thing
is reduced by these swordsmen of the nobility to a system."
     Andre-Louis nodded. He was thinking of Philippe de Vilmorin.  "Yes," he
said, "it  is an old trick  of theirs. It is  so simple and  direct  -  like
themselves. I wonder only that  they didn't hit upon  this system sooner. In
the early days of  the States General,  at  Versailles, it might have had  a
better effect. Now, it comes a little late."
     "But they mean to make up  for  lost time - sacred name!" cried Danton.
"Challenges are flying right and left  between these bully-swordsmen,  these
spadassinicides,  and poor devils of the robe who have never learnt to fence
with anything but a quill. It's just -- murder. Yet if I were to go  amongst
messieurs  les  nobles and crunch an addled head or two with  this stick  of
mine, snap a few aristocratic necks between these fingers which the good God
has given  me  for  the  purpose, the  law  would  send me to atone upon the
gallows. This in a land that is striving after  liberty. Why, Dieu me damne!
I am not even  allowed to  keep my hat  on in the theatre. But they  - these
--s!"
     "He is right," said Le  Chapelier.  "The thing has  become unendurable,
insufferable.  Two  days  ago M. d'Ambly threatened  Mirabeau with his  cane
before the whole Assembly. Yesterday M.  de Faussigny leapt up and harangued
his order by inviting murder.  'Why don't we fall on these scoundrels, sword
in hand?' he asked.  Those  were his very words: 'Why don't we fall on these
scoundrels, sword in hand.'"
     "It is so much simpler than lawmaking," said Andre-Louis.
     "Lagron, the deputy from Ancenis  in the Loire,  said something that we
did not hear  in answer. As he was leaving the  Manege  one of these bullies
grossly insulted him. Lagron no  more than used his elbow to  push past when
the fellow cried out that he had been struck, and issued his challenge. They
fought this morning early in the Champs Elysees, and Lagron was  killed, run
through  the stomach deliberately by a man who fought like a fencing-master,
and  poor Lagron did not even own a sword. He had to borrow one to go to the
assignation."
     Andre-Louis - his mind ever on  Vilmorin, whose case was here repeated,
even to the details - was swept by a gust of passion. He clenched his hands,
and his jaws set. Danton's little eyes observed him keenly.
     "Well? And what do you think of that? Noblesse oblige, eh? The thing is
we must oblige them  too, these --s. We must pay them back in the same coin;
meet  them with the same weapons. Abolish  them; tumble these assassinateurs
into the abyss of nothingness by the same means.
     "But how?"
     "How? Name of God! haven't I said it?"
     "That is where we require your help," Le  Chapelier put in. "There must
be men of  patriotic  feeling among the  more advanced  of  your  pupils. M.
Danton's  idea is  that  a  little band  of these  - say  a half-dozen, with
yourself at their head - might read these bullies a sharp lesson."
     Andre-Louis frowned.
     "And how, precisely, had M. Danton thought that this might be done?"
     M. Danton spoke for himself, vehemently.
     "Why, thus: We post you in the Manege, at the hour when the Assembly is
rising. We  point out the  six  leading phlebotomists, and let  you loose to
insult them before they have time to insult any of the representatives. Then
to-morrow morning, six  --  phlebotomists themselves  phlebotomized secundum
artem. That will give the others something to think about. It will give them
a great deal to think about, by --! If necessary the dose may be repeated to
ensure a cure. If you kill the --s, so much the better."
     He  paused,  his  sallow  face flushed with the enthusiasm of his idea.
Andre-Louis stared at him inscrutably.
     "Well, what do you say to that?"
     "That it  is most ingenious." And Andre-Louis  turned aside to look out
of the window.
     "And is that all you think of it?"
     "I will not tell you what else I think of it because you probably would
not understand. For you, M.  Danton, there is  at least this excuse that you
did not know me.  But you, Isaac - to  bring this gentleman here with such a
proposal!"
     Le Chapelier  was overwhelmed in confusion. "I confess I hesitated," he
apologized. "But M. Danton  would  not take my word for it that the proposal
might not be to your taste."
     "I would not!" Danton broke in, bellowing.  He swung upon Le Chapelier,
brandishing his great arms. "You told me monsieur  was a patriot. Patriotism
knows no scruples. You call this mincing dancing-master a patriot?"
     "Would you, monsieur, out of patriotism consent to become an assassin?"
     "Of  course I would. haven't I told  you  so? haven't I told you that I
would  gladly  go among  them  with my club, and crack them like  so  many -
fleas?"
     "Why not, then?"
     "Why not? Because I should get myself hanged. Haven't I said so?"
     "But what of that-being a patriot? Why not,  like another Curtius, jump
into the gulf,  since you believe that  your country would  benefit by  your
death?"
     M.  Danton showed signs  of  exasperation.  "Because  my  country  will
benefit more by my life."
     "Permit me, monsieur, to suffer from a similar vanity."
     "You? But where would be the  danger  to you? You would  do  your  work
under the cloak of duelling - as they do."
     "Have you  reflected,  monsieur, that  the law  will  hardly  regard  a
fencing-master who kills his opponent as an ordinary combatant, particularly
if it can be shown that the fencing-master himself provoked the attack?"
     "So!  Name of  a  name!"  M. Danton  blew out his  cheeks and delivered
himself with withering scorn. "It comes to this, then: you are afraid!"
     "You  may  think so if you choose -  that I am afraid to  do  slyly and
treacherously that  which a thrasonical  patriot like yourself is afraid  of
doing frankly and openly. I have other reasons. But  that one should suffice
you."
     Danton gasped. Then he swore more amazingly and variedly than ever.
     "By --!  you are right,"  he admitted, to Andre-Louis'  amazement. "You
are right,  and I am wrong.  I am  as bad a patriot as  you are,  and I am a
coward  as  well."  And  he  invoked  the  whole  Pantheon  to  witness  his
self-denunciation. "Only,  you see,  I count for something: and if they take
me and  hang  me, why, there  it  is! Monsieur, we must find some other way.
Forgive the intrusion. Adieu!" He held out his enormous hand..
     Le Chapelier stood hesitating, crestfallen.
     "You understand, Andre? I am sorry that... "
     "Say no more, please. Come and see me  soon again. I would press you to
remain, but it is striking  nine, and  the first  of  my pupils is about  to
arrive."
     "Nor would I permit  it,". said Danton. "Between us we must resolve the
riddle of how to extinguish M. de La Tour d'Azyr and his friends."
     "Who?"
     Sharp as a pistol-shot came that question,  as Danton was turning away.
The tone of it brought him up short. He turned again, Le Chapelier with him.
     "I said M. de La Tour d'Azyr."
     "What has he to do with the proposal you were making me?"
     "He? Why, he is the phlebotomist in chief."
     And Le Chapelier added. "It is he who killed Lagron."
     "Not a friend of yours, is he?" wondered Danton.
     "And it  is La  Tour d'Azyr you desire  me  to kill?" asked Andre-Louis
very slowly,  after the manner of one whose thoughts are meanwhile pondering
the subject.
     "That's  it," said Danton. "And  not a job for  a prentice hand,  I can
assure you.
     "Ah,  but this alters things," said Andre-Louis,  thinking  aloud.  "It
offers a great temptation."
     "Why, then... ?" The Colossus took a step towards him again.
     "Wait!" He put up his hand. Then with chin sunk on his breast, he paced
away to the window, musing.
     Le Chapelier  and Danton  exchanged glances, then watched him, waiting,
what time he considered.
     At first  he  almost wondered why he should not  of his own accord have
decided upon some  such course as this to settle  that long-standing account
of M. de La Tour d'Azyr. What was the  use of this great skill in fence that
he  had  come  to  acquire, unless  he could  turn it to account  to  avenge
Vilmorin, and to make Aline safe from the lure of her own ambition? It would
be an easy thing to seek out La Tour d'Azyr, put a  mortal affront upon him,
and thus  bring him to the  point.  To-day this  would be murder,  murder as
treacherous as that which La Tour d'Azyr had done upon Philippe de Vilmorin;
for to-day the old positions were reversed, and it was Andre-Louis who might
go  to such  an assignation  without a doubt  of the issue. It  was  a moral
obstacle of which he made short work. But there remained  the legal obstacle
he had expounded to Danton.  There was  still a law  in France; the same law
which  he had found it impossible to move against La Tour  d'Azyr, but which
would move briskly  enough against himself in like case. And then, suddenly,
as if by inspiration, he saw the way - a way which if adopted would probably
bring La Tour d'Azyr to a poetic justice, bring him, insolent, confident, to
thrust himself upon Andre-Louis' sword, with all the odium of provocation on
his own side.
     He turned to them again, and they saw that he was  very pale,  that his
great dark eyes glowed oddly.
     "There will probably be some difficulty in finding a suppleant for this
poor Lagron," he said. "Our fellow-countrymen will be none so eager to offer
themselves to the swords of Privilege.
     "True enough,"  said  Le Chapelier gloomily; and  then, as if  suddenly
leaping to the thing in Andre-Louis' mind: "Andre!" he cried.  "Would you...
"
     "It is what I was considering. It  would  give me a legitimate place in
the  Assembly. If your Tour d'Azyrs  choose to seek me out then,  why, their
blood be  upon their own heads. I shall certainly  do nothing to  discourage
them." He smiled curiously. "I am  just a rascal who tries  to be  honest  -
Scaramouche  always, in fact; a creature  of sophistries. Do you think  that
Ancenis would have me for its representative?"
     "Will it have Omnes Omnibus for its representative?"  Le Chapelier  was
laughing, his countenance eager.  "Ancenis will be convulsed  with pride. It
is not Rennes or  Nantes, as  it might have been had  you wished it. But  it
gives you a voice for Brittany."
     "I should have to go to Ancenis... "
     "No  need  at  all.  A  letter  from me  to the  Municipality, and  the
Municipality  will  confirm you at once. No  need  to move from here.  In  a
fortnight at most the thing can be accomplished. It is settled, then?"
     Andre-Louis  considered yet a moment.  There was his  academy.  But  he
could make  arrangements  with  Le Duc and Galoche to carry it  on  for  him
whilst himself directing  and  advising. Le  Duc,  after  all, was  become a
thoroughly  efficient  master,  and he was a trustworthy fellow.  At  need a
third assistant could be engaged.
     "Be it so," he said at last.
     Le  Chapelier  clasped  hands  with  him  and  became  congratulatorily
voluble, until interrupted by the red-coated giant at the door.
     "What exactly does it mean to our business, anyway?" he asked. "Does it
mean that when you are a representative you will not scruple to skewer M. le
Marquis?"
     "If M. le  Marquis  should offer himself to be skewered, as he no doubt
will."
     "I perceive the distinction," said M.  Danton,  and sneered. "You've an
ingenious  mind." He turned  to  Le  Chapelier. "What did you say  he was to
begin with - a lawyer, wasn't it?"
     "Yes, I was a lawyer, and afterwards a mountebank."
     "And this is the result!"
     "As you  say. And do you know that we are  after all not so dissimilar,
you and I?"
     "What?"
     "Once like you I went about  inciting other people to go  and  kill the
man I wanted dead. You'll say I was a coward, of course."
     Le Chapelier prepared to  slip between  them  as the clouds gathered on
the giant's  brow.  Then these  were  dispelled again, and  the great  laugh
vibrated through the long room.
     "You've touched me for the second  time, and in the same place. Oh, you
can fence,  my  lad. We should be friends. Rue des Cordeliers is my address.
Any  -  scoundrel  will  tell  you where  Danton  lodges.  Desmoulins  lives
underneath.  Come  and visit  us  one evening. There's always a bottle for a
friend."




     After  an absence of rather more than a week, M. le  Marquis de La Tour
d'Azyr  was back  in his  place on the Cote Droit of the National  Assembly.
Properly  speaking,  we should already at  this date  allude  to  him as the
ci-devant Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr, for the time was September of 1790, two
months after  the passing - on the motion of that downright Breton leveller,
Le Chapelier - of the decree that nobility should no more be hereditary than
infamy; that just  as the brand of the gallows must not defile the  possibly
worthy descendants of one who had been convicted of evil, neither should the
blazon advertising achievement glorify the  possibly unworthy descendants of
one  who  had  proved himself  good.  And  so  the  decree  had been  passed
abolishing  hereditary  nobility and consigning  family  escutcheons to  the
rubbish-heap  of  things  no  longer  to  be  tolerated  by  an  enlightened
generation of philosophers. M. le  Comte de Lafayette, who had supported the
motion, left  the  Assembly  as  plain  M.  Motier, the great  tribune Count
Mirabeau became plain M. Riquetti, and  M. le Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr just
simple M. Lesarques. The thing was done in one of those exaltations produced
by the approach of the great National  Festival of the Champ de Mars, and no
doubt it was thoroughly  repented  on the  morrow  by  those  who  had  lent
themselves to  it. Thus,  although  law by now,  it was a  law  that no  one
troubled just yet to enforce.
     That, however,  is by the way. The time, as I have said, was September,
the  day dull and showery,  and some of  the damp and gloom  of it seemed to
have penetrated the long Hall of  the Manege, where on their  eight  rows of
green benches elliptically arranged in ascending tiers about the space known
as La Piste, sat some eight  or nine hundred of  the representatives  of the
three orders that composed the nation.
     The matter under  debate  by. the constitution-builders was whether the
deliberating  body  to  succeed  the  Constituent  Assembly  should work  in
conjunction  with  the King,  whether it  should be periodic  or  permanent,
whether it should govern by two chambers or by one.
     The Abbe  Maury, son of  a  cobbler, and therefore  in  these  days  of
antitheses orator-in-chief of the party of the Right - the Blacks,  as those
who fought Privilege's losing  battles were  known - was in the tribune.  He
appeared to  be urging the adoption  of a  two-chambers system framed on the
English model. He was, if anything, more long-winded and prosy even than his
habit; his arguments assumed more and more the form of a sermon; the tribune
of  the  National Assembly  became more  and  more  like  a pulpit; but  the
members, conversely,  less  and less like a congregation. They  grew restive
under that steady flow of pompous verbiage, and it was in vain that the four
ushers in black satin breeches and carefully powdered heads, chain of office
on  their breasts, gilded sword  at their  sides,  circulated in the  Piste,
clapping their hands, and hissing
     "Silence! En place!"
     Equally vain  was the intermittent ringing of the bell by the president
at his green-covered table facing the tribune. The Abbe Maury had talked too
long, and for some  time had failed to interest the members. Realizing it at
last, he ceased, whereupon the hum of conversation became general. And then.
it fell abruptly. There was a silence of expectancy, and a turning of heads,
a craning of necks. Even  the group  of secretaries at the round table below
the president's  dais roused themselves  from their usual apathy to consider
this young man who  was mounting the  tribune of the Assembly for the  first
time.
     "M.  Andre-Louis  Moreau,  deputy  suppleant,  vice   Emmanuel  Lagron,
deceased, for Ancenis in the Department of the Loire."
     M. de  La Tour  d'Azyr shook himself out  of  the gloomy abstraction in
which  he had sat.  The  successor of the deputy he had slain must,  in  any
event, be an object of grim interest to  him. You conceive how that interest
was heightened when he heard him  named, when, looking across, he recognized
indeed in  this  Andre-Louis Moreau  the young scoundrel who was continually
crossing his path, continually exerting against  him a deep-moving, sinister
influence to make him regret that he should have spared his life that day at
Gavrillac two years ago. That he should thus have  stepped into the shoes of
Lagron seemed to M. de La Tour d'Azyr too apt for mere coincidence, a direct
challenge in itself.
     He looked at the young man in wonder rather than in  anger, and looking
at him he was filled by a vague, almost a premonitory, uneasiness.
     At  the  very outset, the presence which in itself he conceived to be a
challenge was to demonstrate itself for this in no equivocal terms.
     "I come before  you," Andre-Louis began, "as a deputy-suppleant to fill
the place of one who was murdered some three weeks ago."
     It  was  a challenging  opening that  instantly  provoked an  indignant
outcry from the  Blacks. Andre-Louis paused, and  looked  at them, smiling a
little, a singularly self-confident young man.
     "The gentlemen of the  Right, M. le President, do not appear to like my
words. But that is not surprising. The gentlemen of the Right notoriously do
not like the truth."
     This time  there  was uproar.  The members  of  the  Left  roared  with
laughter, those  of the Right thundered menacingly. The ushers circulated at
a  pace beyond  their usual, agitated  themselves,  clapped their hands, and
called in vain for silence.
     The President rang his bell.
     Above  the  general din came  the  voice of  La  Tour  d'Azyr, who  had
half-risen from his seat: "Mountebank! This is not the theatre!"
     "No,  monsieur, it is  becoming a hunting-ground  for bully-swordsmen,"
was the answer, and the uproar grew.
     The deputy-suppleant looked round and waited. Near  at  hand he met the
encouraging grin of Le Chapelier, and the quiet, approving smile of Kersain,
another  Breton deputy of his acquaintance. A little farther off he saw  the
great head of Mirabeau thrown back,  the great eyes regarding him from under
a frown in a sort of wonder, and yonder, among all that moving sea of faces,
the sallow countenance of the Arras' lawyer Robespierre - or de Robespierre,
as  the little  snob  now  called himself, having assumed  the  aristocratic
particle as the prerogative  of a man of  his distinction in the councils of
his country. With  his tip-tilted nose in the air, his carefully curled head
on one side, the deputy for Arras was observing Andre-Louis attentively. The
horn-rimmed spectacles he used  for  reading were thrust up  on to  his pale
forehead, and it was  through a levelled  spy-glass  that  he considered the
speaker,  his thin-lipped mouth stretched  a little in that  tiger-cat smile
that was afterwards to become so famous and so feared.
     Gradually the uproar  wore itself out,  and diminished so that at  last
the  President  could  make  himself  heard.  Leaning  forward,  he  gravely
addressed the young man in the tribune:
     "Monsieur,  if  you  wish to  be heard, let me  beg  of you  not  to be
provocative in your language." And then to the others: "Messieurs, if we are
to  proceed,  I  beg  that  you  will  restrain  your  feelings   until  the
deputy-suppleant has concluded his discourse."
     "I shall endeavour to obey, M. le President, leaving provocation to the
gentlemen  of  the  Right. If the few  words  I have  used so far  have been
provocative, I  regret it. But  it  was necessary that I should refer to the
distinguished  deputy whose place  I come so unworthily to fill, and  it was
unavoidable that I should refer to  the event which has procured us this sad
necessity. The deputy  Lagron  was a  man of singular nobility  of  mind,  a
selfless,  dutiful,  zealous man, inflamed by the high purpose  of doing his
duty by  his electors and by this  Assembly. He possessed what his opponents
would call a dangerous gift of eloquence."
     La Tour d'Azyr writhed at the well-known phrase - his own phrase
     - the  phrase that he had used to  explain his action  in the matter of
Philippe de Vilmorin, the phrase that from time to time had been cast in his
teeth with such vindictive menace.
     And then the crisp voice of the witty Canales, that very rapier  of the
Privileged party, cut sharply into the speaker's momentary pause.
     "M.  le   President,"   he  asked   with  great  solemnity,  "has   the
deputy-suppleant mounted  the tribune for the purpose of taking  part in the
debate on the constitution of the legislative assemblies, or for the purpose
of pronouncing a funeral oration upon the departed deputy Lagron?"
     This time it was the Blacks who gave way to mirth, until checked by the
deputy-suppleant.
     "That  laughter is obscene!"  In this truly Gallic fashion he flung his
glove  into  the face  of  Privilege,  determined,  you see,  upon  no  half
measures;  and the  rippling laughter  perished on the  instant quenched  in
speechless fury.
     Solemnly he proceeded.
     "You all  know how Lagron died. To  refer  to his death at all requires
courage,  to laugh in referring  to  it requires something that I  will  not
attempt  to qualify. If I have alluded to his  decease, it is because my own
appearance among you  seemed to render  some such allusion necessary.  It is
mine to take up the burden which he set down. I do not  pretend  that I have
the strength, the courage, or the wisdom of Lagron; but  with every ounce of
such strength and courage and wisdom as  I possess  that burden will I bear.
And I  trust, for  the sake of those who might  attempt it, that  the  means
taken to impose silence upon that eloquent voice will not be taken to impose
silence upon mine.
     There was  a  faint  murmur  of  applause  from the  Left,  splutter of
contemptuous laughter from the Right.
     "Rhodomont!" a voice called to him.
     He  looked in the direction of that voice, proceeding from the group of
spadassins  amid the Blacks across the  Piste, and he  smiled. Inaudibly his
lips answered:
     "No, my friend - Scaramouche; Scaramouche, the subtle, dangerous fellow
who goes tortuously to his ends." Aloud, he resumed: "M. le President, there
are  those  who  will  not understand  that the  purpose  for which  we  are
assembled  here  is  the making  of laws by which France  may  be  equitably
governed, by which France may be lifted out of the morass of bankruptcy into
which she is in danger  of sinking. For there are  some  who want, it seems,
not laws,  but blood;  I solemnly warn  them that this  blood  will  end  by
choking them, if they do not learn in time to discard force and allow reason
to prevail."
     Again  in that phrase  there was something that stirred a  memory in La
Tour  d'Azyr.  He  turned  in  the  fresh  uproar  to  speak to  his  cousin
Chabrillane who sat beside him.
     "A daring rogue, this bastard of Gavrillac's," said he.
     Chabrillane looked  at him  with  gleaming eyes,  his face  white  with
anger.
     "Let him talk  himself out. I don't think he will be heard again  after
to-day. Leave this to me."
     Hardly could  La Tour have told you why, but he  sank back  in his seat
with a  sense of relief.  He had  been telling himself  that here was matter
demanding action, a challenge that he must take  up. But despite his rage he
felt a singular  unwillingness. This fellow had a trick of reminding him, he
supposed,  too unpleasantly of that young abbe done to  death in  the garden
behind  the"  Breton  arme" at Gavrillac.  Not that the death of Philippe de
Vilmorin lay  heavily upon  M.  de  La  Tour  d'Azyr's  conscience.  He  had
accounted himself fully justified of his action. It was that the whole thing
as his memory revived it for him made an unpleasant picture: that distraught
boy kneeling over the bleeding body of the friend he had  loved, and  almost
begging to  be slain with him,  dubbing the Marquis murderer and  coward  to
incite him.
     Meanwhile,  leaving  now  the  subject  of  the  death  of Lagron,  the
deputy-suppleant had at last  brought himself  into order, and was  speaking
upon  the question under debate. He  contributed nothing of value to it;  he
urged  nothing definite.  His speech on the subject was  very brief  -  that
being the pretext and not the purpose for which he had ascended the tribune.
     When  later he was leaving the hall at the end of the sitting, with  Le
Chapelier at his side, he found himself densely surrounded by deputies as by
a body-guard. Most of them were Bretons, who aimed at screening him from the
provocations which his own provocative words in the  Assembly could not fail
to bring  down  upon  his head. For a  moment the massive  form of  Mirabeau
brought up alongside of him.
     "Felicitations, M. Moreau," said the great man. "You acquitted yourself
very well. They  will want your blood, no doubt. But be  discreet, monsieur,
if  I may presume to advise you, and do not allow yourself  to  be misled by
any  false  sense  of quixotry. Ignore their  challenges. I do  so myself. I
place each challenger upon my list. There are some fifty  there already, and
there  they  will  remain.  Refuse  them  what  they  are  pleased  to  call
satisfaction, and all will be  well."  Andre-Louis smiled  and  sighed.  "It
requires courage," said the hypocrite.
     "Of course it does. But you would appear to have plenty."
     "Hardly enough, perhaps. But I shall do my best."
     They had  come through the vestibule, and although this  was lined with
eager Blacks waiting for the young man who had  insulted them so  flagrantly
from  the rostrum, Andre-Louis' body-guard had prevented  any  of them  from
reaching him.
     Emerging now  into  the open, under the great awning at the head of the
Carriere, erected to  enable carriages to reach the  door under cover, those
in front of him dispersed a little, and there was a moment as he reached the
limit of the awning when his front was  entirely uncovered. Outside the rain
was falling  heavily, churning the ground  into thick mud, and for a  moment
Andre-Louis,  with Le Chapelier ever  at his side, stood hesitating  to step
out into the deluge.
     The watchful Chabrillane had seen his chance, and by a detour that took
him momentarily out into the rain, he came face to face with the  too-daring
young Breton. Rudely, violently, he thrust Andre-Louis back, as if  to  make
room for himself under the shelter.
     Not for a second was  Andre-Louis under  any delusion as  to  the man's
deliberate purpose, nor  were those who stood near  him, who  made a belated
and ineffectual  attempt to close about him. He was grievously disappointed.
It  was  not  Chabrillane  he had  been  expecting.  His disappointment  was
reflected on his countenance, to be mistaken for something very different by
the arrogant Chevalier.
     But  if Chabrillane  was the man appointed  to  deal with him, he would
make the best of it.
     "I think you are pushing against  me, monsieur," he said, very civilly,
and with elbow and shoulder he thrust M. de Chabrillane back into the rain.
     "I desire to take shelter, monsieur," the Chevalier hectored.
     "You may do so without standing on my feet.  I have a prejudice against
any one  standing on my feet. My feet  are  very tender. Perhaps you did not
know it, monsieur. Please say no more.
     "Why, I wasn't speaking,  you  lout!" exclaimed the Chevalier, slightly
discomposed.
     "Were you not? I thought perhaps you were about to apologize."
     "Apologize?" Chabrillane  laughed.  "To you! Do you  know  that you are
amusing?" He stepped under the awning for the second time, and again in view
of all thrust Andre-Louis rudely back.
     "Ahi!" cried Andre-Louis,  with a  grimace. "You hurt me,  monsieur.  I
have told  you not  to push against me." He raised  his voice that all might
hear him, and once more impelled M. de Chabrillane back into the rain.
     Now, for  all his  slenderness, his  assiduous daily sword-practice had
given Andre-Louis an arm of iron.  Also he threw his weight into the thrust.
His assailant reeled backwards a few steps, and then his heel struck a baulk
of  timber left on the ground by some workmen that morning, and he sat  down
suddenly in the mud.
     A roar of  laughter  rose from all who witnessed  the fine  gentleman's
downfall.  He rose, mud-bespattered, in  a fury,  and in that fury sprang at
Andre-Louis.
     Andre-Louis had made him ridiculous, which was altogether unforgivable.
     "You shall meet me for this!" he spluttered. "I shall kill you for it."
     His  inflamed  face  was  within a  foot of  Andre-Louis'.  Andre-Louis
laughed.  In  the  silence  everybody heard  the laugh  and the  words  that
followed.
     "Oh, is  that what you wanted? But why didn't you  say  so  before? You
would have spared me  the trouble of knocking  you down. I thought gentlemen
of your profession invariably conducted these affairs with decency, decorum,
and a certain grace. Had you done so, you might have saved your breeches."
     "How soon shall we settle  this?"  snapped Chabrillane, livid with very
real fury.
     "Whenever you please, monsieur. It is for you to  say when it will suit
your convenience to kill me. I think that was the intention  you  announced,
was it not?" Andre-Louis was suavity itself.
     "To-morrow morning, in the Bois. Perhaps you will bring a friend."
     "Certainly, monsieur. To-morrow  morning, then.  I  hope  we shall have
fine weather. I detest the rain."
     Chabrillane  looked  at him  almost with amazement  Andre-Louis  smiled
pleasantly.
     "Don't let me detain you now, monsieur. We quite understand each other.
I shall be in the Bois at nine o'clock to-morrow morning."
     "That is too late for me, monsieur."
     "Any other hour would be  too early for me.  I  do not like  to have my
habits disturbed. Nine o'clock or not at all, as you please."
     "But I must be at the Assembly at nine, for the morning session."
     "I am  afraid, monsieur, you will have  to kill me first,  and I have a
prejudice against being killed before nine o'clock."
     Now this was too complete a subversion of the usual procedure for M. de
Chabrillane's stomach. Here was a rustic deputy assuming with him  precisely
the tone of sinister mockery  which  his class usually  dealt  out  to their
victims  of the Third Estate. And to heighten the  irritation, Andre-Louis -
the actor, Scaramouche always - produced his snuffbox, and proffered it with
a steady hand to Le Chapelier before helping himself.
     Chabrillane, it seemed, after all that he had suffered, was not even to
be allowed to make a good exit.
     "Very well, monsieur," he said.  "Nine o'clock,  then; and we'll see if
you'll talk as pertly afterwards."
     On that he flung away, before the jeers of the provincial deputies. Nor
did it soothe his rage to be laughed at by urchins all the way down the  Rue
Dauphine  because of the mud and filth that dripped from  his satin breeches
and the tails of his elegant, striped coat.
     But though the members  of the  Third  had  jeered on the surface, they
trembled  underneath  with fear and  indignation.  It was too  much.  Lagron
killed by one of these bullies, and  now his successor challenged, and about
to be killed by another of them on the  very first day of his appearance  to
take the dead man's place. Several came now to implore Andre-Louis not to go
to the  Bois, to ignore the challenge and  the whole affair, which was but a
deliberate attempt to  put him out of  the way. He listened seriously, shook
his head gloomily, and promised at last to think it over.
     He  was  in  his  seat again for  the afternoon  session  as if nothing
disturbed him.
     But in the morning, when the Assembly met, his place was vacant, and so
was M. de Chabrillane's. Gloom and  resentment sat upon the  members  of the
Third, and  brought a more than usually acrid note  into their debates. They
disapproved of the  rashness of the new  recruit to their body. Some  openly
condemned his lack of circumspection.  Very  few - and those only the little
group in Le Chapelier's confidence - ever expected to see him again.
     It  was,  therefore, as  much in amazement as in  relief that  at a few
minutes after ten they saw him enter, calm, composed, and bland, and  thread
his  way to his seat.  The speaker occupying  the rostrum at that moment - a
member  of  the Privileged -  stopped short to stare  in incredulous dismay.
Here was something that he could not understand at all. Then from somewhere,
to satisfy  the amazement on both sides of  the assembly, a voice  explained
the phenomenon contemptuously.
     "They haven't met. He has shirked it at the last moment."
     It must  be  so,  thought  all; the mystification ceased,  and men were
settling  back  into their seats.  But now, having reached his place, having
heard the  voice that explained  the  matter to the  universal satisfaction,
Andre-Louis paused before taking his seat.  He felt it incumbent upon him to
reveal the true fact.
     "M.  le President, my  excuses  for  my  late  arrival."  There  was no
necessity for this. It was a mere piece of theatricality, such as it was not
in Scaramouche's nature to forgo. "I have  been detained by an engagement of
a pressing nature. I bring you also  the  excuses  of M. de Chabrillane. He,
unfortunately, will be permanently absent from this Assembly in future."
     The silence was complete. Andre-Louis sat down.




     M. Le Chevalier  de Chabrillane  had been closely  connected,  you will
remember, with  the iniquitous affair in which Philippe de Vilmorin had lost
his life. We know enough to justify a surmise that he had not merely been La
Tour d'Azyr's  second  in the  encounter, but actually  an instigator of the
business. Andre-Louis may therefore have felt a  justifiable satisfaction in
offering up the Chevalier's life to the Manes of his murdered friend. He may
have  viewed it as an act of common justice  not to be procured by any other
means. Also  it is to be remembered that Chabrillane had gone confidently to
the meeting, conceiving that he,  a practised ferailleur, had to deal with a
bourgeois utterly  unskilled in  swordsmanship. Morally, then, he was little
better  than  a  murderer,  and that he should have tumbled into the pit  he
conceived that  he  dug  for Andre-Louis  was  a  poetic  retribution.  Yet,
notwithstanding  all  this,  I  should  find  the  cynical  note   on  which
Andre-Louis  announced  the issue to the Assembly  utterly detestable did  I
believe  it sincere. It would justify Aline  of the expressed opinion, which
she held in common with so many others who had come into close contact  with
him, that Andre-Louis was quite heartless.
     You have  seen something of the  same heartlessness in his conduct when
he discovered the faithlessness of  La  Binet although that is belied by the
measures he took to avenge himself.  His subsequent contempt  of the woman I
account  to be born of the  affection in which for a time he  held her. That
this affection was as deep  as he first imagined, I do not believe; but that
it  was as shallow as he would almost be at pains to  make it appear  by the
completeness with which he affects to have  put  her from  his  mind when he
discovered  her worthlessness, I do not believe; nor, as I have said, do his
actions encourage  that belief. Then, again, his callous cynicism in  hoping
that he had killed Binet is also an affectation. Knowing that such things as
Binet are better out of the world, he can have  suffered no compunction;  he
had, you must remember, that rarely level vision which  sees things in their
just proportions, and never either magnifies or reduces  them by sentimental
considerations. At the  same time,  that he should contemplate the taking of
life with such complete and cynical equanimity, whatever the  justification,
is quite incredible.
     Similarly now,  it is not to  be believed that in coming straight  from
the  Bois de  Boulogne, straight from  the killing of  a  man, he should  be
sincerely expressing his  nature  in alluding to the fact  in  terms of such
outrageous flippancy. Not quite to such an extent was he the incarnation  of
Scaramouche. But sufficiently was he so ever to mask his true feelings by an
arresting gesture,  his  true thoughts by an  effective  phrase. He  was the
actor  always, a  man ever calculating the  effect  he  would produce,  ever
avoiding self-revelation, ever concerned to overlay his real character by an
assumed and quite fictitious one. There was in this something of impishness,
and something of other things.
     Nobody laughed now at  his flippancy. He  did not  intend  that anybody
should. He intended to be terrible; and he  knew that the more  flippant and
casual his tone, the more terrible would be its effect. He  produced exactly
the effect he desired.
     What followed  in a place where feelings and practices had become  what
they had  become is not difficult to surmise.  When  the session rose, there
were a dozen spadassins awaiting him in the vestibule, and this time the men
of his  own party were  less concerned to guard  him. He  seemed so entirely
capable  of guarding himself;  he  appeared, for all his circumspection,  to
have  so completely carried the  war into the enemy's camp, so completely to
have  adopted their  own methods, that his fellows scarcely felt the need to
protect him as yesterday.
     As he  emerged,  he scanned  that hostile file,  whose air and garments
marked them  so clearly for what they  were. He paused, seeking  the  man he
expected,  the man he was  most anxious  to oblige. But M. de La Tour d'Azyr
was absent from those  eager ranks. This  seemed to him odd.  La Tour d'Azyr
was  Chabrillane's cousin  and  closest  friend. Surely  he should have been
among  the first  to-day.  The fact was that La  Tour d'Azyr was  too deeply
overcome by amazement and grief at  the utterly  unexpected  event. Also his
vindictiveness  was held curiously in leash. Perhaps he, too, remembered the
part played  by Chabrillane  in the  affair at  Gavrillac,  and saw in  this
obscure  Andre-Louis Moreau, who  had  so persistently  persecuted him  ever
since, an  ordained avenger. The repugnance he  felt  to come to  the point,
with him, particularly after this culminating provocation, was puzzling even
to himself. But it existed, and it curbed him now.
     To  Andre-Louis,  since La  Tour was not one  of that  waiting pack, it
mattered little on that Tuesday morning who should be the next. The next, as
it  happened, was the young Vicomte de La Motte-Royau, one of the  deadliest
blades in the group.
     On the Wednesday  morning,  coming  again  an hour  or  so  late to the
Assembly, Andre-Louis announced - in much the same terms as he had announced
the death of Chabrillane - that  M. de  La  Motte-Royau would  probably  not
disturb the harmony of the Assembly for some weeks to come, assuming that he
were so fortunate as to recover ultimately from the effects of an unpleasant
accident with which he  had quite  unexpectedly  had the  misfortune to meet
that morning.
     On Thursday he made an identical announcement with regard to the Vidame
de  Blavon. On  Friday  he  told  them that he  had been  delayed by  M.  de
Troiscantins,  and  then  turning  to the members  of  the  Cote  Droit, and
lengthening his face to a sympathetic gravity:
     "I am glad to inform you, messieurs, that M. des Troiscantins is in the
hands of a very competent surgeon who hopes with care to restore him to your
councils in a few weeks' time."
     It  was  paralyzing,  fantastic,  unreal; and  friend and foe  in  that
assembly sat alike stupefied under those bland daily announcements. Four  of
the most redoubtable spadassinicides put away for a time, one of them dead -
and  all this  performed with  such an air of indifference and  announced in
such casual terms by a wretched little provincial lawyer!
     He began to  assume in their eyes a romantic aspect. Even that group of
philosophers  of the Cote Gauche, who  refused to worship any force  but the
force  of reason, began to look  upon  him  with a respect and consideration
which no oratorical triumphs could ever have procured him.
     And from the Assembly  the fame of him oozed out gradually over  Paris.
Desmoulins wrote  a panegyric  upon  him  in  his  paper  "Les Revolutions,"
wherein he dubbed him the "Paladin of  the Third Estate," a name that caught
the fancy of the people, and clung to him for some time. Disdainfully was he
mentioned in the "Actes  des Apotres,"  the mocking  organ of the Privileged
party, so light-heartedly and provocatively  edited by a group  of gentlemen
afflicted by a singular mental myopy.
     The  Friday  of  that very busy week in the life of this  young man who
even thereafter is to persist  in reminding us that he is not in any sense a
man of action,  found the vestibule of the Manege empty of swordsmen when he
made his leisurely and expectant egress between Le Chapelier and Kersain.
     So surprised was he that he checked in his stride.
     "Have  they had  enough?" he  wondered,  addressing the  question to Le
Chapelier.
     "They  have had enough of  you, I should  think," was the answer. "They
will prefer to turn their  attention to some one less able to take  care  of
himself."
     Now  this  was  disappointing.  Andre-Louis  had lent  himself  to this
business  with  a  very  definite object in view. The slaying of Chabrillane
had, as far as it went, been satisfactory. He had regarded that as a sort of
acceptable hors  d'oeuvre. But the three who had followed were no affair  of
his at all. He had met them with  a certain amount of repugnance,  and dealt
with each  as lightly as consideration of his own safety permitted.  Was the
baiting of  him  now to  cease  whilst the  man  at  whom he  aimed had  not
presented himself? In that case it would be necessary to force the pace!
     Out there under the awning a group  of gentlemen stood in earnest talk.
Scanning the group in a rapid glance, Andre-Louis  perceived  M.  de La Tour
d'Azyr  amongst them. He tightened his lips. He  must afford no provocation.
It must be for  them to fasten their quarrels upon him.  Already the  "Actes
des Apotres" that  morning had torn the  mask from his face, and  proclaimed
him the fencing-master of the Rue du Hasard, successor to Bertrand des Amis.
Hazardous  as it had been  hitherto for a man of his  condition to engage in
single  combat it  was rendered  doubly so by  this exposure, offered to the
public as an aristocratic apologia.
     Still, matters could not be left where they were, or he should have had
all  his  pains  for nothing. Carefully  looking  away  from  that group  of
gentlemen, he raised his voice so that his words must carry to their ears.
     "It begins to look as if my  fears of having to spend the  remainder of
my days in the Bois were idle."
     Out of the corner of his  eye he caught the  stir his  words created in
that group. Its members had turned to  look at him; but for the  moment that
was  all. A little  more was  necessary. Pacing  slowly  along  between  his
friends he resumed:
     "But is  it  not remarkable that the assassin of Lagror  should make no
move  against Lagron's successor? Or perhaps  it is not  remarkable. Perhaps
there are good reasons. Perhaps the gentleman is prudent."
     He bad passed the group  by now, and he left that  last sentence of his
to trail behind him, and after it sent laughter, insolent and provoking.
     He had not long  to  wait.  Came  a quick  step behind him,  and a hand
falling upon his shoulder, spun him violently round.  He was brought face to
face with M. de La  Tour d'Azyr, whose  handsome countenance  was  calm  and
composed, but whose eyes reflected something  of the sudden blaze of passion
stirring in  him. Behind him  several members of the group  were approaching
more slowly. The  others -  like Andre-Louis' two  companions  - remained at
gaze.
     "You  spoke of me, I  think," said the Marquis quietly. "I  spoke of an
assassin - yes. But to these my friends."  Andre-Louis' manner was  no  less
quiet, indeed the quieter of the two, for he was the more experienced actor.
     "You spoke loudly  enough to be overheard," said the Marquis, answering
the insinuation that he had been eavesdropping.
     "Those who wish to overhear frequently contrive to do so."
     "I perceive that it is your aim to be offensive."
     "Oh,  but  you  are mistaken,  M.  le Marquis.  I  have no wish  to  be
offensive. But I resent having hands violently laid upon me, especially when
they  are  hands that I cannot consider  clean, In the  circumstances I  can
hardly be expected to be polite."
     The elder  man's eyelids flickered.  Almost he  caught himself admiring
Andre-Louis'  bearing.  Rather,  he  feared  that  his  own  must  suffer by
comparison. Because  of this,  he  enraged altogether, and  lost control  of
himself.
     "You spoke  of  me  as  the  assassin of  Lagron. I do  not  affect  to
misunderstand  you.  You expounded your  views  to  me  once  before,  and I
remember."
     "But what flattery, monsieur!"
     "You called me an assassin then,  because I used my skill to dispose of
a turbulent hot-head who made the world unsafe for me. But  how  much better
are you, M. the fencing-master, when you oppose  yourself to men whose skill
is as naturally inferior to your own!"
     M. de La Tour d'Azyr's friends  looked grave,  perturbed. It was really
incredible  to  find this great  gentleman so far forgetting  himself as  to
descend to argument  with  a  canaille  of a lawyer-swordsman.  And what was
worse, it was an argument in which he was being made ridiculous.
     "I  oppose  myself  to  them!" said  Andre-Louis  on  a tone of  amused
protest.  "Ah,  pardon, M. le Marquis;  it  is  they  who  chose  to  oppose
themselves  to me - and so stupidly. They  push me, they slap my face,  they
tread on  my  toes, they call  me  by unpleasant  names.  What  if  I  am  a
fencing-master?  Must  I  on  that  account  submit  to  every   manner   of
ill-treatment  from  your  bad-mannered friends? Perhaps  had they found out
sooner that I am a fencing-master  their manners would have been better. But
to blame me for that! What injustice!"
     "Comedian!"  the  Marquis  contemptuously apostrophized him.  "Does  it
alter the case? Are these men who have opposed you men who live by the sword
like yourself?"
     "On the contrary, M. le Marquis,  I have found them men who died by the
sword  with  astonishing  ease.  I cannot suppose that  you  desire  to  add
yourself to their number."
     "And  why,  if you  please?" La  Tour d'Azyr's  face had flamed scarlet
before that sneer.
     "Oh,"  Andre-Louis  raised  his  eyebrows  and  pursed  his lips, a man
considering. He delivered himself slowly. "Because, monsieur, you prefer the
easy victim - the Lagrons and Vilmorins of  this world,  mere sheep for your
butchering. That is why."
     And then the Marquis struck him.
     Andre-Louis stepped back. His eyes gleamed a moment; the next they were
smiling up into the face of his tall enemy.
     "No better than the others, after all! Well, well! Remark,  I  beg you,
how history repeats itself - with certain differences. Because poor Vilmorin
could not bear a  vile lie with which you goaded him, he struck you. Because
you cannot bear  an equally vile truth which I  have uttered, you strike me.
But always is the  vileness yours.  And now as  then for the  striker  there
is... " He  broke off.  "But why name it?  You will  remember what there is.
Yourself  you wrote it that day with the point  of your too-ready sword. But
there. I will meet you if you desire it, monsieur."
     "What else do you suppose that I desire? To talk?"
     Andre-Louis turned  to  his friends  and  sighed. "So that  I  am to go
another jaunt  to the Bois. Isaac, perhaps you will  kindly have a word with
one  of  these friends  of  M. le Marquis',  and arrange  for  nine  o'clock
to-morrow, as usual."
     "Not  to-morrow,"  said the Marquis  shortly to Le Chapeher. "I have an
engagement in the country, which I cannot postpone."
     Le Chapelier looked at Andre-Louis.
     "Then for M. le Marquis' convenience,  we will  say Sunday  at the same
hour."
     "I do not fight on Sunday. I am not a pagan to break the holy day."
     "But surely  the good God  would  not  have the presumption to  damn  a
gentleman of M. le Marquis' quality on that account? Ah, well, Isaac, please
arrange for Monday, if it is not a  feast-day or monsieur has not some other
pressing engagement. I leave it in your hands."
     He bowed with the air of a man wearied by  these details, and threading
his arm through Kersain's withdrew.
     "Ah, Dieu de  Dieu! But  what a trick of it you have," said  the Breton
deputy, entirely unsophisticated in these matters.
     "To be sure I  have. I have taken lessons at their hands."  He laughed.
He was in excellent good-humour. And Kersam was  enrolled in  the  ranks  of
those who accounted Andre-Louis a man without heart or conscience.
     But in his "Confessions" he tells us - and this is  one of the glimpses
that reveal the true man under all that make-believe
     - that on that night he went down on his knees to commune with his dead
friend Philippe, and to call his spirit to witness that he was about to take
the last step in the fulfilment of the oath sworn upon his body at Gavrillac
two years ago.




     M.  de La Tour  d'Azyr's  engagement in the country on that Sunday  was
with M. de Kercadiou. To fulfil it he drove out early in the day to  Meudon,
taking  with him  in his  pocket a copy of  the last issue of "Les Actes des
Apotres," a journal whose merry  sallies  at the expense  of the  innovators
greatly diverted  the Seigneur de  Gavrillac. The  venomous  scorn it poured
upon those worthless  rapscallions afforded him a certain  solatium  against
the discomforts  of expatriation by  which  he was  afflicted as a result of
their detestable energies.
     Twice in the last month,  had  M. de La Tour  d'Azyr gone to visit  the
Lord of Gavrillac at Meudon,  and the sight of Aline, so sweet and fresh, so
bright and of so lively  a mind,  had caused  those embers smouldering under
the  ashes  of the  past, embers which  until  now  he had  believed utterly
extinct, to kindle into flame once more. He desired her as we desire Heaven.
I believe that it was the purest  passion  of his life; that had  it come to
him earlier  he might  have been a vastly different  man. The cruelest wound
that in all his selfish life he  had taken was when she sent him word, quite
definitely after the affair at the Feydau, that she  could not again in  any
circumstances receive him. At one blow -  through that disgraceful riot - he
had  been  robbed of a mistress  he prized  and of a  wife  who had become a
necessity to the very soul of  him.  The sordid love of  La Binet might have
consoled him  for the compulsory renunciation of his exalted  love of Aline,
just as to his exalted  love of Aline  he had  been ready  to sacrifice  his
attachment to La Binet.  But  that ill-timed riot had robbed  him at once of
both.  Faithful to  his word  to Sautron he  had  definitely broken  with La
Binet, only to find that Aline had definitely broken  with  him.  And by the
time that he had sufficiently recovered from his  grief to think again of La
Binet, the comedienne had vanished beyond discovery.
     For all this he blamed,  and  most  bitterly blamed,  Andre-Louis. That
low-born provincial lout pursued him like  a Nemesis, was become indeed  the
evil genius of his  life. That was it - the  evil genius of his life! And it
was  odds that on Monday... He did not like to think  of Monday. He  was not
particularly afraid  of death. He was as brave as his  kind in that respect,
too brave in the  ordinary  way,  and  too confident of  his skill, to  have
considered even remotely such a possibility as that of  dying  in a duel. It
was only that it would seem like a proper  consummation of all the evil that
he had  suffered directly or indirectly through this Andre-Louis Moreau that
he should  perish ignobly by his  hand. Almost he could hear  that insolent,
pleasant  voice  making the flippant announcement to the Assembly on  Monday
morning.
     He  shook off the mood, angry with himself for entertaining it.  It was
maudlin. After all  Chabrillane and La  Motte-Royau  were  quite exceptional
swordsmen, but neither of them really approached his own formidable calibre.
Reaction began to flow, as he drove out  through country lanes  flooded with
pleasant  September sunshine. His spirits  rose.  A premonition  of  victory
stirred  within  him  Far  from  fearing  Monday's  meeting, as  he  had  so
unreasonably  been doing;  he began  to look forward to it. It should afford
him the means of setting a definite term to this persecution of which he had
been the  victim. He  would crush this insolent and persistent flea that had
been  stinging  him  at every  opportunity.  Borne  upward on that  wave  of
optimism, he took presently a more hopeful view of his case with Aline.
     At their  first  meeting a month ago he had used the  utmost  frankness
with her. He had told her the whole truth of his motives in going that night
to the Feydau; he had  made her realize that she had acted  unjustly towards
him. True he had gone no farther.
     But that was very far to  have gone as a beginning. And in  their  last
meeting, now a fortnight old, she had  received him with frank friendliness.
True,  she  had  been a little aloof. But  that was to be  expected until he
quite explicitly  avowed that he had revived the hope of winning her. He had
been a fool not to have returned before to-day.
     Thus  in that mood of new-born confidence - a confidence risen from the
very ashes of despondency - came he on that Sunday morning to Meudon. He was
gay and jovial with M.  de Kercadiou what time  he waited in  the salon  for
mademoiselle to show herself. He pronounced with confidence on the country's
future. There were signs already
     - he wore the rosiest spectacles that morning - of a change of opinion,
of a more moderate  note. The Nation began to  perceive whither  this lawyer
rabble was leading it. He pulled  out "The Acts of the Apostles"  and read a
stinging paragraph. Then, when  mademoiselle at last made her appearance, he
resigned the journal into the hands of M. de Kercadiou.
     M.  de Kercadiou, with his niece's future to consider, went to read the
paper in the  garden,  taking up there a  position whence  he could keep the
couple  within  sight - as his obligations seemed to demand of him  - whilst
being discreetly out of earshot.
     The Marquis made the most  of an  opportunity that might be  brief.  He
quite frankly  declared himself, and begged, implored to  be taken back into
Aline's good graces, to be admitted at least to the hope that one day before
very long she would bring herself to consider him in a nearer relationship.
     "Mademoiselle," he told  her,  his voice vibrating with  a feeling that
admitted of no doubt, "you cannot lack conviction of my utter sincerity. The
very  constancy  of  my devotion should  afford you  this. It is just that I
should  have  been  banished  from  you,  since I  showed myself so  utterly
unworthy  of the great  honour to which I aspired.  But this banishment  has
nowise diminished my devotion. If  you could conceive what I have  suffered,
you would agree that I have fully expiated my abject fault."
     She  looked  at  him with a curious, gentle wistfulness on  her  lovely
face.
     "Monsieur, it is not you whom I doubt. It is myself."
     "You mean your feelings towards me?"
     "Yes."
     "But that I can understand. After what has happened... "
     "It was always so, monsieur," she interrupted quietly. "You speak of me
as  if lost  to you by your own action. That is to  say too much.  Let me be
frank with  you. Monsieur, I was  never yours to lose. I am conscious of the
honour that you do me. I esteem you very deeply... "
     "But, then,"  he cried,  on a  high note  of  confidence, "from  such a
beginning... "
     "Who shall  assure me that it is a beginning? May it not be the  whole?
Had I held you in affection, monsieur, I should have sent for you after  the
affair of which  you have spoken.  I should  at least not have condemned you
without  hearing  your explanation. As  it  was... "  She shrugged,  smiling
gently, sadly. "You see... "
     But his optimism far from being crushed was stimulated. "But it  is  to
give me hope, mademoiselle. If already I possess  so  much, I may look  with
confidence to win more. I shall prove myself worthy. I swear to do that. Who
that is permitted  the privilege of being near you could  do other than seek
to render himself worthy?"
     And then before she  could add a word, M. de  Kercadiou came blustering
through  the  window,  his spectacles  on  his forehead, his  face inflamed,
waving  in his hand  "The Acts  of the Apostles,"  and apparently reduced to
speechlessness.
     Had the Marquis  expressed himself aloud he would have been profane. As
it was he bit his lip in vexation at this most inopportune interruption.
     Aline sprang up, alarmed by her uncle's agitation.
     "What has happened?"
     "Happened?" He found speech at last. "The scoundrel! The faithless dog!
I consented to overlook the past on the clear condition that he should avoid
revolutionary politics in future. That  condition he accepted, and now" - he
smacked the  news-sheet  furiously - "he has played me false again. Not only
has he gone into politics, once more, but he  is actually  a  member of  the
Assembly, and  what  is  worse  he has been  using his assassin's skill as a
fencing-master, turning himself into  a bully-swordsman. My God Is there any
law at all left in France?"
     One doubt M. de La Tour d'Azyr had entertained, though only faintly, to
mar the perfect  serenity of his growing optimism. That doubt concerned this
man Moreau and his relations with M. de Kercadiou.  He knew  what once  they
had  been,  and  how changed  they subsequently were by  the ingratitude  of
Moreau's own behavior in turning against  the  class to which his benefactor
belonged. What he did not know was that a reconciliation  had been effected.
For in the  past month - ever  since circumstances had driven Andre-Louis to
depart  from his undertaking to  steer clear of politics - the young man had
not ventured to  approach Meudon, and as it happened his name  had  pot been
mentioned in La Tour d'Azyr's hearing on  the occasion of either of  his own
previous visits. He learnt of that reconciliation now; but he learnt at  the
same  time that the  breach  was  now  renewed, and  rendered wider and more
impassable  than  ever.  Therefore  he did  not hesitate  to  avow  his  own
position.
     "There  is  a law," he answered.  "The law  that this  rash  young  man
himself evokes. The law of the sword." He spoke very gravely, almost  sadly.
For he realized  that  after all  the ground was  tender. "You  are  not  to
suppose that  he  is  to  continue  indefinitely his  career  of evil and of
murder. Sooner  or later he will meet a  sword that will avenge the  others.
You  have observed that my cousin Chabrillane is among the  number  of  this
assassin's victims; that he was killed on Tuesday last."
     "If  I  have  not  expressed my  condolence,  Azyr,  it  is because  my
indignation  stifles at  the moment every other feeling. The  scoundrel! You
say that sooner or later he will meet a sword that will avenge the others. I
pray that it may be soon."
     The  Marquis answered him quietly, without anything but  sorrow in  his
voice. "I think your  prayer is likely to be heard. This wretched  young man
has an  engagement  for  to-morrow,  when  his  account  may  be  definitely
settled."
     He spoke with such calm conviction that his words had all the  sound of
a  sentence of death. They suddenly  stemmed the flow  of M.  de Kercadiou's
anger.  The  colour receded from his inflamed face;  dread looked out of his
pale eyes, to inform M. de La Tour d'Azyr, more clearly than any words, that
M. de Kercadiou's hot speech had been the expression of unreflecting  anger,
that his  prayer  that retribution might soon overtake  his godson had  been
unconsciously insincere. Confronted now by  the  fact that this  retribution
was about to be  visited upon that scoundrel, the fundamental gentleness and
kindliness of his nature asserted itself; his anger was suddenly whelmed  in
apprehension;  his  affection for  the  lad beat  up to  the surface, making
Andre-Louis' sin, however hideous, a  thing of no account by comparison with
the threatened punishment.
     M. de Kercadiou moistened his lips.
     "With whom  is this engagement?"  he asked in a voice that by an effort
he contrived to render steady.
     M.  de La  Tour  d'Azyr  bowed  his handsome head,  his eyes  upon  the
gleaming  parquetry  of  the  floor.  "With  myself," he  answered  quietly,
conscious  already with  a  tightening of the heart that his answer must sow
dismay.  He caught the sound of a faint outcry from Aline; he saw the sudden
recoil of M. de Kercadiou. And then he plunged headlong into the explanation
that he deemed necessary.
     "In view of  his relations with you, M. de Kercadiou, and because of my
deep regard for  you,  I did my best to avoid  this, even though as you will
understand  the death of my  dear friend  and  cousin Chabrillane seemed  to
summon me to action,  even though I knew that my circumspection was becoming
matter  for  criticism among my friends.  But yesterday this unbridled young
man made further restraint impossible to me. He provoked me deliberately and
publicly. He put upon me the very grossest affront, and... to-morrow morning
in the Bois... we meet."
     He  faltered a  little  at the end,  fully  conscious  of  the  hostile
atmosphere  in  which  he  suddenly  found  himself.  Hostility  from  M. de
Kercadiou,  the latter's  earlier  change of  manner had already led him  to
expect; the hostility of mademoiselle came more in the nature of a surprise.
     He began  to understand  what difficulties  the course  to which he was
committed must raise up for him. A fresh obstacle was to be flung across the
path which he  had just cleared, as he imagined. Yet his pride and his sense
of the justice due to be done admitted of no weakening.
     In bitterness he realized now, as he looked from uncle to niece
     -  his glance, usually  so  direct and bold, now  oddly  furtive - that
though  to-morrow  he  might  kill  Andre-Louis,   yet  even  by  his  death
Andre-Louis would take  vengeance  upon him.  He  had exaggerated nothing in
reaching the conclusion that this Andre-Louis Moreau  was the evil genius of
his life. He saw now that do what  he would, kill  him even though he might,
he could never conquer him. The last word  would always be with  Andre-Louis
Moreau. In bitterness, in rage, and  in humiliation - a thing almost unknown
to  him - did he realize it, and the realization steeled his purpose for all
that he perceived its futility.
     Outwardly   he  showed  himself   calm  and   self-contained,  properly
suggesting a man regretfully accepting the inevitable. It would have been as
impossible to find fault with his bearing as to attempt to turn him from the
matter to which he was committed. And so M. de Kercadiou perceived.
     "My  God!" was all that he  said, scarcely above his breath, yet almost
in a groan.
     M.  de  La  Tour d'Azyr  did,  as  always,  the  thing that sensibility
demanded of him.  He took his  leave. He understood that to linger where his
news  had  produced  such  an effect  would be impossible,  indecent.  So he
departed, in a bitterness  comparable only with his erstwhile optimism,  the
sweet fruit of hope turned to a thing  of  gall even as it touched his lips.
Oh, yes; the last word, indeed, was with Andre-Louis Moreau - always!
     Uncle  and niece looked at each  other as he  passed out, and there was
horror in the eyes of  both. Aline's pallor was deathly almost, and standing
there now she wrung her hands as if in pain.
     "Why did you not ask him - beg him... " She broke off.
     "To what end? He  was in  the right,  and...  and  there are things one
cannot ask; things it would be a useless  humiliation to ask." He  sat down,
groaning. "Oh, the poor boy - the poor, misguided boy."
     In the mind of neither, you see,  was  there any doubt of what must  be
the issue. The calm confidence in which La  Tour d'Azyr had spoken compelled
itself to be shared. He was no vainglorious boaster, and they knew of what a
force as a swordsman he was generally accounted.
     "What does humiliation matter? A life is at issue - Andre's life."
     "I  know.  My God, don't  I  know?  And I would humiliate myself if  by
humiliating myself  I could hope to prevail.  But Azyr is a hard, relentless
man, and... "
     Abruptly she left him.
     She overtook the Marquis as he was in the act of stepping his carriage.
He turned as she called, and bowed.
     "Mademoiselle?"
     At once he guessed her errand,  tasted in anticipation the unparalleled
bitterness of being  compelled  to  refuse  her.  Yet  at her invitation  he
stepped back into the cool of the hall.
     In the middle of the floor of chequered marbles, black and white, stood
a carved table of black oak. By this he halted, leaning  lightly against  it
whilst she sat enthroned in the great crimson chair beside it.
     "Monsieur, I cannot  allow you so  to depart," she  said.  "You  cannot
realize, monsieur,  what  a blow  would  be  dealt  my  uncle if... if evil,
irrevocable evil were to overtake his godson to-morrow. The expressions that
he used at first... "
     "Mademoiselle, I perceived their true value. Spare yourself. Believe me
I am profoundly desolated by circumstances which I had not expected to find.
You must believe me when I say that. It is all that I can say."
     "Must it really be all? Andre is very dear to his godfather."
     The  pleading tone cut him like a knife; and  then suddenly it  aroused
another emotion - an  emotion which he  realized to  be utterly unworthy, an
emotion which,  in his overwhelming pride  of race, seemed  almost sullying,
yet not to be repressed. He hesitated to give  it  utterance; hesitated even
remotely to suggest so  horrible  a thing as that  in a  man  of such  lowly
origin  he might conceivably  discover  a rival.  Yet  that  sudden pang  of
jealousy was stronger than his monstrous pride.
     "And to you, mademoiselle? What is this Andre-Louis Moreau to you?  You
will pardon the question. But I desire clearly to understand."
     Watching her he beheld the scarlet stain that  overspread her  face. He
read  in it  at first confusion, until the gleam  of her blue eyes announced
its source to lie in anger. That comforted him; since he had affronted  her,
he was reassured.  It did not occur to him that the anger might have another
source.
     "Andre and I have been playmates from infancy.  He  is very dear to me,
too; almost I regard him as a brother. Were I in  need  of help, and were my
uncle not available, Andre would be the first man to whom I should turn. Are
you sufficiently answered, monsieur? Or is there more of me you would desire
revealed?"
     He bit his  lip. He was unnerved,  he  thought, this morning; otherwise
the silly suspicion with which he had offended  could never have occurred to
him.
     He  bowed very low. "Mademoiselle, forgive  that I should have troubled
you with  such a question. You have answered more fully than  I  could  have
hoped or wished."
     He  said no more than that. He waited for her to resume. At a loss, she
sat  in  silence awhile,  a pucker on her white  brow, her fingers nervously
drumming on  the  table. At  last  she flung  herself headlong  against  the
impassive, polished front that he presented.
     "I have come, monsieur, to beg you to put off this meeting."
     She  saw the faint raising of  his dark eyebrows, the faintly regretful
smile that scarcely did more than tinge his fine lips,  and she hurried  on.
"What honour can await you in such an engagement, monsieur?"
     It  was  a shrewd thrust at the pride  of race that she  accounted  his
paramount sentiment, that had as often  lured him into error as it had urged
him into good.
     "I do not seek honour in it, mademoiselle, but - I must say it
     -  justice. The engagement, as I have explained, is  not of my seeking.
It has been thrust upon me, and in honour I cannot draw back."
     "Why, what dishonour would  there be in  sparing him? Surely, monsieur,
none  would  call your courage  in  question?  None could misapprehend  your
motives."
     "You are  mistaken, mademoiselle. My  motives would  most  certainly be
misapprehended. You forget that this young man has acquired in the past week
a certain reputation that might well make a man hesitate to meet him."
     She brushed that aside almost  contemptuously, conceiving it the merest
quibble.
     "Some men, yes. But not you, M. le Marquis."
     Her confidence in him on  every count was most sweetly  flattering. But
there was a bitterness behind the sweet.
     "Even I, mademoiselle, let me assure you. And there is more  than that.
This  quarrel which M.  Moreau has  forced upon  me is no new thing.  It  is
merely the culmination of a long-drawn persecution.
     "Which you invited," she cut in. "Be just, monsieur."
     "I hope that it is not in my nature to be otherwise, mademoiselle."
     "Consider, then, that you killed his friend."
     "I find in that nothing with which to reproach myself. My justification
lay in the circumstances - the  subsequent events in this distracted country
surely confirm it."
     "And... " She faltered a little, and looked away from him for the first
time. "And that you...  that you... And what of Mademoiselle Binet,  whom he
was to have married?"
     He stared at her for a moment in sheer surprise. "Was to have married?"
he repeated incredulously, dismayed almost.
     "You did not know that?"
     "But how do you?"
     "Did  I not  tell you that we are as brother  and sister almost? I have
his confidence. He told me, before... before you made it impossible."
     He looked away,  chin in hand, his glance thoughtful, disturbed, almost
wistful.
     "There is," he  said slowly, musingly.  "a singular  fatality  at  work
between that man and  me, bringing us ever each by turns athwart the other's
path... "
     He  sighed;  then  swung  to  face  her again, speaking  more  briskly:
"Mademoiselle, until this moment I had no knowledge -  no  suspicion of this
thing.  But..." He  broke off, considered, and  then shrugged. "If I wronged
him, I did so unconsciously. It would be unjust to blame  me, surely. In all
our actions it must be the intention alone that counts."
     "But does it make no difference?"
     "None that I can discern, mademoiselle. It gives me no justification to
withdraw from  that  to which I am irrevocably  committed. No justification,
indeed, could ever be greater than my  concern for the pain it must occasion
my good friend, your uncle, and perhaps yourself, mademoiselle."
     She rose suddenly, squarely  confronting him,  desperate now, driven to
play the only card upon which she thought she might count.
     "Monsieur," she said, "you did me the honour to-day to speak in certain
terms; to... to allude to certain hopes with which you honour me."
     He looked  at  her almost in fear. In silence, not daring to  speak, he
waited for her to continue.
     "I... I... Will you please to understand, monsieur, that if you persist
in  this  matter,  if...  unless  you can  break  this engagement  of  yours
to-morrow  morning  in the Bois, you  are  not  to  presume to mention  this
subject to me again, or, indeed, ever again to approach me."
     To put the matter in this negative way was as far as she could possibly
go. It was  for him to make  the positive  proposal  to  which she had  thus
thrown wide the door.
     "Mademoiselle, you cannot mean... "
     "I do, monsieur... irrevocably, please to understand." He looked at her
with eyes  of misery, his handsome, manly  face as pale as she had ever seen
it. The hand  he had been holding out in protest began to shake.  He lowered
it  to  his side again, lest  she  should perceive  its tremor. Thus a brief
second,  while  the  battle  was  fought  within  him, the bitter engagement
between  his desires and what he conceived to be the demands of  his honour,
never   perceiving   how  far  his  honour  was  buttressed   by  implacable
vindictiveness.  Retreat,  he  conceived, was impossible without  shame; and
shame  was to him an agony unthinkable. She  asked too  much. She could  not
understand what she was asking, else she would never be so unreasonable,  so
unjust.  But also  he saw that  it would  be futile to  attempt  to make her
understand.
     It was the end. Though he kill Andre-Louis  Moreau in the morning as he
fiercely  hoped he  would,  yet the  victory even  in death  must  lie  with
Andre-Louis Moreau.
     He  bowed profoundly, grave and sorrowful of face as he  was grave  and
sorrowful of heart.
     "Mademoiselle, my homage," he murmured, and turned to go.
     "But you have not answered me!" she called after him in terror.
     He checked  on the threshold, and turned; and there from the cool gloom
of the  hall she saw  him a black, graceful silhouette against the brilliant
sunshine beyond - a  memory of  him that was to cling as  something sinister
and menacing in the dread hours that were to follow.
     "What would you, mademoiselle?  I but spared myself and you the pain of
a refusal."
     He was  gone leaving her crushed and raging.  She sank down again  into
the  great red chair, and sat there  crumpled, her elbows on the  table, her
face  in her hands - a face that was on fire with shame and passion. She had
offered herself,  and she had  been refused!  The inconceivable had befallen
her.  The  humiliation  of it seemed  to her  something that could never  be
effaced.
     Startled,  appalled, she stepped back, her hand pressed to her tortured
breast.




     M. de Kercadiou wrote a letter.
     "Godson,"  he  began, without any  softening  adjective, "I have learnt
with  pain  and indignation  that  you  have dishonoured yourself  again  by
breaking the pledge you gave me to abstain from politics. With still greater
pain and indignation  do I learn that your  name has  become in a  few short
days a  byword,  that  you have  discarded the  weapon  of false,  insidious
arguments against my class - the class to which you owe everything - for the
sword of  the  assassin.  It  has  come to my  knowledge  that  you  have an
assignation to-morrow  with my good friend M. de La Tour d'Azyr. A gentleman
of his station is  under certain obligations imposed upon him  by his birth,
which do  not permit  him  to draw back from an  engagement.  But you labour
under no such disadvantages. For a man of your class to refuse an engagement
of honour, or to neglect it when made, entails no sacrifice. Your peers will
probably be  of  the  opinion  that  you  display  a  commendable  prudence.
Therefore I beg you, indeed, did I think that I still exercise over  you any
such authority as the favours you have received from me should entitle me to
exercise, I would command you, to allow this matter to go no farther, and to
refrain  from  rendering yourself  to  your assignation  to-morrow  morning.
Having no such authority, as  your  past conduct now makes clear, having  no
reason  to hope that  a proper sentiment of gratitude  to me  will induce to
give heed to this my most earnest request, I am compelled to add that should
you  survive to-morrow's  encounter, I can in  no circumstances  ever  again
permit  myself to be conscious of  your existence. If  any spark survives of
the affection that once you expressed for me, or if  you set any value  upon
the affection, which, in spite of all  that you have done  to forfeit it, is
the  chief  prompter of this  letter,  you  will not refuse  to do as  I  am
asking."
     It  was not a tactful  letter. M. de Kercadiou  was  not a tactful man.
Read it  as he  would, Andre-Louis -  when it was delivered  to him  on that
Sunday afternoon by the groom dispatched with it into Paris
     - could  read  into  it  only  concern for  M. La  Tour  d'Azyr,  M. de
Kercadiou's good friend, as he called him, and prospective nephew-in-law.
     He kept the groom waiting a full hour while composing his answer. Brief
though it was, it cost him very considerable effort and several unsuccessful
attempts. In the end this is what he wrote:
     Monsieur my  godfather - You make refusal singularly  hard  for me when
you appeal to me upon the ground of affection. It is a thing of which all my
life I shall  hail the opportunity  to give  you proofs,  and I am therefore
desolated beyond anything I could hope to express that I cannot give you the
proof you ask to-day. There is too much between M. de La Tour d'Azyr and me.
Also you  do me and my class  -  whatever it may be - less than justice when
you say that obligations of honour are not binding upon us. So binding  do I
count them, that, if I would, I could not now draw back.
     If hereafter  you should persist in the harsh intention  you express, I
must suffer it. That I shall suffer be assured.
     Your affectionate and grateful godson
     Andre-Louis
     He dispatched  that  letter by  M.  de Kercadiou's groom, and conceived
this to be  the end of the matter.  It cut him keenly; but he bore the wound
with that outward stoicism he affected.
     Next morning, at a quarter past eight,  as with Le Chapelier - who  had
come to break his fast with  him  - he was rising from  table to set out for
the  Bois,  his  housekeeper  startled him  by  announcing  Mademoiselle  de
Kercadiou.
     He looked at his watch. Although his cabriolet was already at the door,
he  had a  few minutes to spare. He  excused himself  from Le Chapelier, and
went briskly out to the anteroom.
     She advanced to meet him, her manner eager, almost feverish.
     "I will not affect ignorance of why you have come," he said quickly, to
make short work. "But time presses, and  I warn you that only the most solid
of reasons can be worth stating."
     It surprised  her. It amounted to a rebuff at the  very  outset, before
she had uttered a word;  and that  was the last thing she  had expected from
Andre-Louis. Moreover,  there  was about  him  an air of  aloofness that was
unusual where  she was concerned, and his voice had been singularly cold and
formal.
     It wounded  her.  She was not to guess the  conclusion to  which he had
leapt. He made with regard to her - as was but natural, after all - the same
mistake  that  he  had  made  with  regard  to yesterday's  letter from  his
godfather.  He  conceived  that  the  mainspring of  action here was  solely
concern for M. de La Tour d'Azyr. That it might be concern for himself never
entered  his mind. So absolute was his own conviction of what  must  be  the
inevitable issue  of  that meeting  that  he could  not conceive of  any one
entertaining a fear on his behalf.
     What he  assumed to be  anxiety on the score of the  predestined victim
had  irritated him in  M. de Kercadiou; in Aline it  filled him with  a cold
anger; he argued from  it that she  had hardly been  frank  with  him;  that
ambition was urging her  to consider with favour the  suit of M. de  La Tour
d'Azyr. And  than  this  there was  no  spur  that  could  have driven  more
relentlessly in  his purpose,  since to save her was in his  eyes  almost as
momentous as to avenge the past.
     She conned him searchingly, and the complete calm of him at such a time
amazed her. She could not repress the mention of it.
     "How calm you are, Andre!"
     "I am not easily disturbed. It is a vanity of mine."
     "But... Oh, Andre, this meeting must not take place!" She came close up
to him, to set her hands upon his shoulders, and stood so, her face within a
foot of his own.
     "You know, of course, of some good reason why it should not?" said he.
     "You may be killed," she  answered  him, and  her  eyes dilated as  she
spoke.
     It was so far from anything that he  had expected that for  a moment he
could only stare at her. Then he thought he had understood. He laughed as he
removed her hands from  his shoulders, and stepped back.  This was a shallow
device, childish and unworthy in her.
     "Can you really think  to prevail  by attempting  to  frighten me?"  he
asked, and almost sneered.
     "Oh,  you  are  surely mad!  M.  de  La Tour d'Azyr is reputed the most
dangerous sword in France."
     "Have   you  never  noticed  that  most  reputations  are   undeserved?
Chabrillane was a  dangerous swordsman, and  Chabrillane  is underground. La
Motte-Royau was an even more dangerous swordsman,  and  he is in a surgeon's
hands. So are the other spadassinicides who dreamt of skewering a poor sheep
of a provincial  lawyer. And here to-day comes the chief, the fine flower of
these bully-swordsmen. He comes, for wages long overdue. Be sure of that. So
if you have no other reason to urge.
     It was  the  sarcasm of him  that mystified her.  Could  he possibly be
sincere in his assurance  that he must prevail against M. de La Tour d'Azyr?
To her in  her limited knowledge, her mind filled with  her uncle's contrary
conviction, it seemed that  Andre-Louis was only acting; he would act a part
to the very end.
     Be that as it might, she shifted her ground to answer him.
     "You had my uncle's letter?"
     "And I answered it."
     "I know.  But what  he  said, he will fulfil. Do not dream that he will
relent if you carry out this horrible purpose."
     "Come, now, that is a better reason than the other," said he. "If there
is a reason in  the world that could move me it would  be that. But there is
too much between La Tour d'Azyr and me. There is an oath I swore on the dead
hand of Philippe de Vilmorin. I could never have hoped that God would afford
me so great an opportunity of keeping it."
     "You have not kept it yet," she warned him.
     He smiled at her. "True!" he said. "But nine o'clock will soon be here.
Tell me,"  he  asked  her suddenly, "why did  you not carry this request  of
yours to M. de La Tour d'Azyr?"
     "I  did,"  she  answered  him,  and  flushed  as  she   remembered  her
yesterday's rejection. He interpreted the flush quite otherwise.
     "And he?" he asked.
     "M. de La Tour  d'Azyr's obligations... " she  was beginning: then  she
broke off to answer shortly: "Oh, he refused."
     "So, so. He must, of course, whatever it  may have cost him. Yet in his
place I should have counted the cost as  nothing. But men are different, you
see." He sighed. "Also in  your place, had that been so,  I  think  I should
have left the matter there. But then... "
     "I don't understand you, Andre."
     "I am not so very obscure. Not nearly so obscure  as  I can be. Turn it
over in  your mind. It may help to comfort you presently." He  consulted his
watch again. "Pray use this house as your own. I must be going."
     Le Chapelier put his head in at the door.
     "Forgive the intrusion. But we shall be late, Andre, unless you... "
     "Coming," Andre answered him. "If you will await my  return, Aline, you
will oblige me deeply. Particularly in view of your uncle's resolve."
     She did not answer him. She was numbed. He took her silence for assent,
and,  bowing, left  her. Standing there she heard his steps  going  down the
stairs  together with Le Chapelier's. He was speaking to his friend, and his
voice was calm and normal.
     Oh, he was mad - blinded by self-confidence and vanity. As his carriage
rattled away, she sat down limply, with a sense  of  exhaustion and  nausea.
She  was  sick and faint with  horror.  Andre-Louis was going  to his death.
Conviction of it - an unreasoning conviction, the result, perhaps, of all M.
de Kercadiou's rantings - entered her soul. Awhile she  sat  thus, paralyzed
by hopelessness. Then  she sprang up again, wringing her hands. She  must do
something to avert this horror.  But what could she do? To follow him to the
Bois  and intervene  there would be to make  a scandal for no  purpose.  The
conventions of conduct were all against her, offering a barrier that was not
to be overstepped. Was there no one could help her?
     Standing  there, half-frenzied  by her helplessness, she caught again a
sound of vehicles and hooves  on the cobbles of the street below. A carriage
was approaching. It drew up with a clatter before the fencing-academy. Could
it  be Andre-Louis  returning? Passionately she  snatched  at that  straw of
hope. Knocking, loud and urgent, fell upon  the door. She heard Andre-Louis'
housekeeper, her  wooden shoes  clanking  upon the  stairs, hurrying down to
open.
     She  sped  to  the  door  of  the anteroom, and pulling  it  wide stood
breathlessly  to listen.  But the  voice that floated  up to her was not the
voice she  so  desperately  hoped to  hear. It was a woman's voice asking in
urgent tones for  M. Andre-Louis - a voice  at first  vaguely familiar, then
clearly recognized, the voice of Mme. de Plougastel.
     Excited, she ran to the  head of the  narrow staircase  in time to hear
Mme. de Plougastel exclaim in agitation:
     "He has gone already! Oh, but how long since? Which way did he take?"
     It  was enough to inform Aline that Mme. de Plougastel's errand must be
akin to her own. At the moment, in the general distress and confusion of her
mind, her mental vision focussed entirely on the one vital  point, she found
in this no matter for astonishment. The singular regard conceived by Mme. de
Plougastel for Andre-Louis seemed to her then a sufficient explanation.
     Without  pausing  to  consider,  she  ran  down that  steep  staircase,
calling:
     "Madame! Madame!"
     The portly,  comely housekeeper drew  aside,  and the two  ladies faced
each other on that threshold. Mme. de Plougastel looked white and haggard, a
nameless dread staring from her eyes.
     "Aline!  You here!" she  exclaimed. And  then  in  the urgency sweeping
aside all minor considerations, "Were you also too late?" she asked.
     "No, madame. I saw him. I implored him. But he would not listen."
     "Oh, this is horrible!"  Mme. de  Plougastel shuddered as she spoke. "I
heard of it only half an  hour ago, and I came at once, to prevent it at all
costs."
     The  two  women  looked  blankly, despairingly,  at each other.  In the
sunshine-flooded street  one  or two shabby idlers  were pausing to eye  the
handsome equipage with its magnificent bay horses, and the  two great ladies
on the doorstep of the fencing-academy. From across the way came the raucous
voice of an itinerant bellows-mender raised in the cry of his trade:
     "A raccommoder les vieux soufflets!"
     Madame swung to the housekeeper.
     "How long is it since monsieur left?"
     "Ten minutes, maybe; hardly more."  Conceiving these great ladies to be
friends of her invincible master's latest victim, the good woman preserved a
decently stolid exterior.
     Madame wrung her hands. "Ten minutes! Oh!" It was almost a moan. "Which
way did he go?"
     "The  assignation is for nine o'clock in  the  Bois de Boulogne," Aline
informed her. "Could we follow? Could we prevail if we did?"
     "Ah,  my God! The question is should we come in time? At  nine o'clock!
And it wants but little more than a quarter of an hour. Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu!"
Madame clasped and unclasped her hands in anguish. "Do you  know,  at least,
where in the Bois they are to meet?"
     "No - only that it is in the Bois."
     "In the Bois!" Madame was flung into a frenzy. "The Bois is nearly half
as large as Paris." But she swept breathlessly on, "Come, Aline: get in, get
in!"
     Then to her  coachman. "To the Bois de Boulogne by way of the Cours  Ia
Reine," she commanded, "as fast as you can drive. There are ten pistoles for
you if we are in time. Whip up, man!"
     She  thrust Aline into  the  carriage, and  sprang  after her with  the
energy of a girl. The heavy  vehicle - too heavy by  far for this race  with
time - was  moving before she had  taken her seat.  Rocking  and lurching it
went, earning the maledictions of more than  one pedestrian whom it narrowly
avoided crushing against a wall or trampling underfoot.
     Madame  sat back with closed  eyes and trembling lips. Her  face showed
very white and drawn. Aline watched her in  silence. Almost it seemed to her
that  Mme. de  Plougastel was suffering as deeply as  herself,  enduring  an
anguish of apprehension as great as her own.
     Later Aline was to wonder at this. But at the moment all the thought of
which her half-numbed mind  was capable was bestowed  upon  their  desperate
errand.
     The  carriage rolled across the Place Louis XV and out on to  the Cours
Ia Reine  at  last. Along that beautiful, tree-bordered  avenue between  the
Champs Elysees and  the Seine,  almost empty at this hour  of the  day, they
made better speed, leaving now a cloud of dust behind them.
     But  fast to danger-point as  was  the  speed, to  the  women  in  that
carriage  it  was  too slow. As  they reached the barrier at the end  of the
Cours, nine o'clock was striking  in the city behind  them, and every stroke
of it seemed to sound a note of doom.
     Yet  here at  the  barrier the regulations compelled  a momentary halt.
Aline enquired  of the sergeant-in-charge how long it  was since a cabriolet
such as she described had gone  that way. She was answered that  some twenty
minutes  ago a  vehicle had passed the barrier containing  the  deputy M. le
Chapelier and the  Paladin of the Third Estate, M.  Moreau. The sergeant was
very well informed. He could make a shrewd  guess, he said, with a  grin, of
the business that took M. Moreau that way so early in the day.
     They left him, to  speed on now through the open country, following the
road that  continued to hug  the  river.  They  sat back mutely  despairing,
staring hopelessly ahead,  Aline's hand clasped  tight  in madame's. In  the
distance,  across  the meadows on their right, they could  see  already  the
long, dusky  line  of  trees of  the  Bois, and presently the carriage swung
aside following a branch of the road that turned to the right, away from the
river and heading straight for the forest.
     Mademoiselle broke at last the silence of hopelessness that had reigned
between them since they had passed the barrier.
     "Oh, it is impossible that we should come in time! Impossible!"
     "Don't say it! Don't say it!" madame cried out.
     "But  it is  long  past  nine,  madame!  Andre  would be punctual,  and
these... affairs do not take long. It... it will be all over by now.
     Madame shivered,  and closed  her  eyes. Presently, however, she opened
them again, and stirred. Then she put her head from the window. "A  carriage
is approaching," she announced, and her tone conveyed the thing she feared.
     "Not already!  Oh,  not already!" Thus  Aline  expressed  the  silently
communicated  thought. She  experienced a difficulty  in breathing, felt the
sudden  need of  air. Something in her  throat  was throbbing as if it would
suffocate her; a mist came and went before her eyes.
     In a cloud  of  dust an open caleche was  speeding towards them, coming
from the  Bois.  They  watched it, both  pale,  neither  venturing to speak,
Aline, indeed, without breath to do so.
     As it  approached,  it  slowed down, perforce, as they did, to effect a
safe  passage  in that narrow  road. Aline  was at the window with  Mme.  de
Plougastel,  and  with fearful eyes both looked into this open carriage that
was drawing abreast of them.
     "Which of them is it, madame? Oh, which of  them?" gasped Aline, scarce
daring to look, her senses swimming.
     Qn the near side sat a swarthy young gentleman unknown to either of the
ladies. He was smiling as he spoke to his companion. A moment  later and the
man  sitting beyond came into view. He was  not  smiling. His face was white
and set, and it was the face of the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr.
     For  a long moment, in  speechless  horror, both  women stared at  him,
until, perceiving them, blankest surprise invaded his stern face.
     In that moment, with  a long shuddering sigh Aline sank swooning to the
carriage floor behind Mme. de Plougastel.




     By fast driving  Andre-Louis had reached the ground some  minutes ahead
of time, notwithstanding the slight delay in setting out. There he had found
M. de La Tour  d'Azyr already awaiting him,  supported by a M. d'Ormesson, a
swarthy  young gentleman in the blue uniform of a  captain in the  Gardes du
Corps.
     Andre-Louis had been silent and  preoccupied throughout  that drive. He
was perturbed by  his last interview with Mademoiselle de Kercadiou  and the
rash inferences which he had drawn as to her motives.
     "Decidedly," he had said, "this man must be killed."
     Le  Chapelier had  not  answered  him.  Almost, indeed,  had the Breton
shuddered at his compatriot's cold-bloodedness. He had often of late thought
that   this  fellow  Moreau  was  hardly  human.  Also  he  had  found   him
incomprehensibly inconsistent.  When first this spadassinicide  business had
been proposed to him, he had been so very lofty  and disdainful. Yet, having
embraced it,  he went about it at times  with  a ghoulish flippancy that was
revolting, at times with a detachment that was more revolting still.
     Their preparations were  made quickly and in silence, yet without undue
haste or other sign of nervousness on either side. In both men the same grim
determination  prevailed. The  opponent must  be  killed; there could be  no
half-measures here. Stripped each of coat and  waistcoat, shoeless  and with
shirt-sleeves rolled  to the elbow, they faced each  other at last, with the
common resolve of paying in full the long score that  stood between  them. I
doubt  if  either  of  them  entertained a misgiving as to what must  be the
issue.
     Beside them, and opposite each other, stood Le Chapelier and  the young
captain, alert and watchful.
     "Allez, messieurs!"
     The  slender, wickedly delicate  blades clashed  together,  and after a
momentary glizade were whirling,  swift and bright as lightnings, and almost
as  impossible  to  follow  with  the  eye.  The  Marquis  led  the  attack,
impetuously and vigorously, and almost at once Andre-Louis realized  that he
had  to  deal  with  an opponent  of  a  very  different mettle  from  those
successive duellists of last week, not excluding La Motte-Royau, of terrible
reputation.
     Here was a  man whom much and constant practice had given extraordinary
speed and a technique that was almost  perfect. In addition, he enjoyed over
Andre-Louis  physical  advantages  of strength and  length  of  reach, which
rendered  him  altogether  formidable.  And  he  was  cool,  too;  cool  and
self-contained;  fearless  and purposeful. Would anything  shake that  calm,
wondered Andre-Louis?
     He desired the  punishment to be  as  full  as he could  make  it.  Not
content to kill  the Marquis as the Marquis had killed Philippe, he  desired
that  he  should  first know himself  as  powerless to avert that  death  as
Philippe  had been.  Nothing  less would content Andre-Louis.  M. le Marquis
must begin by tasting of that cup of despair. It was in the account; part of
the quittance due.
     As with a breaking  sweep Andre-Louis parried  the heavy lunge in which
that first series of passes culminated, he actually laughed
     - gleefully, after the fashion of a boy at a sport he loves.
     That extraordinary,  ill-timed  laugh  made  M.  de  La  Tour  d'Azyr's
recovery hastier  and less correctly dignified  than it would otherwise have
been. It startled and discomposed him, who had already  been  discomposed by
the  failure to  get home with a lunge so  beautifully timed  and  so  truly
delivered.
     He, too, had realized that his opponent's force was above anything that
he  could  have  expected, fencing-master though he might  be, and  on  that
account he had put forth his utmost energy to make an end at once.
     More  than the actual  parry,  the  laugh by which it  was  accompanied
seemed to make of that end no more than a beginning.  And yet it was the end
of something. It was the end of  that  absolute confidence that had hitherto
inspired M. de La Tour d'Azyr. He no longer looked upon the issue as a thing
forgone. He realized that if he was to prevail in this encounter, he must go
warily and fence as he had never fenced yet in all his life.
     They  settled down again; and again - on the principle  this  time that
the  soundest defence is  in attack - it was the  Marquis who made the game.
Andre-Louis allowed him to do so, desired him to do so; desired him to spend
himself and  that  magnificent speed of  his against the greater  speed that
whole days  of  fencing  in  succession for nearly two years  had given  the
master. With a beautiful, easy pressure  of forte on foible Andre-Louis kept
himself completely covered in  that  second bout, which once more culminated
in a lunge.
     Expecting it  now, Andre-Louis parried it by no more than a  deflecting
touch.  At the  same moment he  stepped suddenly forward, right  within  the
other's guard,  thus placing  his man so completely at his mercy that, as if
fascinated, the Marquis did not even attempt to recover himself.
     This time Andre-Louis did  not laugh:  He just smiled into the dilating
eyes of M. de La Tour d'Azyr, and made no shift to use his advantage.
     "Come,  come, monsieur!" he  bade  him  sharply. "Am I to run my  blade
through  an uncovered  man?" Deliberately he  fell  back, whilst his  shaken
opponent recovered himself at last.
     M. d'Ormesson released the breath which horror had for a moment caught.
Le Chapelier swore softly, muttering:
     "Name of  a name! It  is tempting  Providence to play the  fool in this
fashion!"
     Andre-Louis observed the  ashen pallor that now over spread the face of
his opponent.
     "I think you begin to realize, monsieur, what Philippe de Vilmorin must
have  felt that day  at Gavrillac. I  desired that you should first  do  so.
Since that is accomplished, why, here's to make an end."
     He went in with lightning rapidity. For a moment his point seemed to La
Tour d'Azyr to be everywhere at once,  and  then from  a low  engagement  in
sixte,  Andre-Louis stretched forward with swift  and vigorous ease to lunge
in tierce. He drove his  point to  transfix his opponent  whom a  series  of
calculated  disengages  uncovered  in that line. But to  his  amazement  and
chagrin, La Tour d'Azyr  parried the stroke;  infinitely more to his chagrin
La Tour d'Azyr parried it just too late.  Had he completely parried it,  all
would yet have been well.  But striking the blade  in the last fraction of a
second, the Marquis  deflected the point  from the line of his body, yet not
so completely  but that  a couple of  feet  of that hard-driven  steel  tore
through the muscles of his sword-arm.
     To the seconds  none  of these details  had been visible. All that they
had  seen had  been  a swift whirl of flashing blades, and then  Andre-Louis
stretched  almost to the  ground in an  upward  lunge  that  had pierced the
Marquis' right arm just below the shoulder.
     The  sword fell  from the suddenly  relaxed grip  of La  Tour  d'Azyr's
fingers,  which had been rendered powerless, and he stood now disarmed,  his
lip  in his teeth, his  face white, his chest  heaving, before his opponent,
who had at once recovered. With the blood-tinged tip of his sword resting on
the  ground, Andre-Louis  surveyed  him grimly,  as we  survey the prey that
through our own clumsiness has escaped us at the last moment.
     In the Assembly  and  in the newspapers this might be hailed as another
victory for  the Paladin  of the Third  Estate; only himself could  know the
extent and the bitternest of the failure.
     M. d'Ormesson had sprung to the side of his principal.
     "You are hurt!" he had cried stupidly.
     "It is nothing," said La Tour d'Azyr. "A scratch." But his lip writhed,
and the torn sleeve of his fine cambric shirt was full of blood.
     D'Ormesson, a practical man in such matters, produced a linen kerchief,
which he tore quickly into strips to improvise a bandage.
     Still  Andre-Louis continued to  stand there, looking on as if bemused.
He continued  so until Le Chapelier touched him on  the arm. Then at last he
roused himself,  sighed, and turned away to resume his garments, nor  did he
address or look again at his late opponent, but left the ground at once.
     As, with Le  Chapelier,  he was walking slowly and in silent  dejection
towards the entrance  of the Bois, where  they had left their carriage, they
were passed  by the caleche conveying  La Tour d'Azyr and his second - which
had originally  driven almost  right up to  the  spot of the  encounter. The
Marquis' wounded arm was carried in a sling improvised  from his companion's
sword-belt.  His sky-blue  coat with three collars  had  been  buttoned over
this,  so  that the  right  sleeve hung  empty.  Otherwise, saving a certain
pallor, he looked much his usual self.
     And now you understand how it was that  he was the first to return, and
that seeing him thus returning,  apparently safe and sound,  the two ladies,
intent  upon  preventing the encounter, should have assumed that their worst
fears were realized.
     Mme. de Plougastel attempted  to call  out, but  her  voice refused its
office. She attempted to throw open the door  of her own  carriage; but  her
fingers fumbled  clumsily  and ineffectively with the handle.  And meanwhile
the caleche was  slowly  passing,  La  Tour d'Azyr's fine eyes sombrely  yet
intently meeting her own anguished gaze. And then she saw something else. M.
d'Ormesson, leaning back  again from the  forward inclination of his body to
join his own to his companion's  salutation of  the Countess,  disclosed the
empty right  sleeve of M. de La Tour d'Azyr's blue coat. More, the near side
of the coat itself turned back from the point  near the throat  where it was
caught  together by single button,  revealed the  slung  arm beneath  in its
blood. sodden cambric sleeve.
     Even  now she feared  to jump  to  the  obvious  conclusion feared lest
perhaps the Marquis,  though himself wounded, might have dealt his adversary
a deadlier wound.
     She found her voice at  last, and at  the same moment  signalled to the
driver of the caleche to stop.
     As it was Pulled to  a standstill,  M. d'Ormesson alighted, and so  met
madame in the little space between the two carriages.
     "Where is M. Moreau?" was the question with which she surprised him.
     "Following at his leisure, no doubt, madame," he answered, recovering.
     "He is not hurt?"
     "Unfortunately it is we who... " M. d'Ormesson was beginning, when from
behind him M. de La Tour d'Azyr's voice cut in crisply:
     "This interest on your part in M. Moreau, dear Countess... "
     He broke off, observing a vague  challenge  in  the air  with which she
confronted him. But indeed his sentence did not need completing.
     There  was  a  vaguely  awkward  pause.  And  then  she  looked  at  M.
d'Ormesson.  Her  manner  changed.  She  offered  what  appeared  to  be  an
explanation of her concern for M. Moreau.
     "Mademoiselle de Kercadiou is with me. The poor child has fainted."
     There was more,  a deal more, she would have said just then, but for M.
d'Ormesson's presence.
     Moved by a  deep solicitude for  Mademoiselle de Kertadiou, de  La Tour
d'Azyr sprang up despite his wound.
     "I  am  in  poor  case  to  render assistance,  madame,"  he  said,  an
apologetic smile on his pale face. "But... "
     With the aid of d'Ormesson, and in spite of the latter's protestations,
he  got down from the caleche,  which then  moved on a little  way, so as to
leave the  road clear - for another  carriage that was  approaching from the
direction of the Bois.
     And  thus it happened  that when a  few moments later that  approaching
cabriolet overtook and passed the halted vehicles, Andre-Louis beheld a very
touching  scene.  Standing up  to obtain a better view,  he saw  Aline in  a
half-swooning condition - she was beginning to revive by now - seated in the
doorway of the carriage, supported by Mme. de Plougastel. In  an attitude of
deepest  concern,  M. de La  Tour  d'Azyr,  his  wound notwithstanding,  was
bending over the  girl, whilst behind  him  stood M. d'Ormesson and madame's
footman.
     The Countess  looked  up and  saw  him as  he was driven past. Her face
lighted; almost it seemed to him she  was about to greet him or to call him,
wherefore, to avoid a difficulty, arising out of  the presence there  of his
late  antagonist, he anticipated her  by bowing frigidly  - for his mood was
frigid, the more frigid by virtue of what he saw - and then resumed his seat
with eyes that looked deliberately ahead.
     Could anything more completely  have  confirmed him  in his  conviction
that it  was on M. de La Tour d'Azyr's account that  Aline had come to plead
with him that  morning? For what his  eyes had seen, of  course,  was a lady
overcome  with emotion at the sight of blood  of  her dear friend,  and that
same dear  friend restoring  her with assurances that his  hurt was very far
from mortal. Later, much later,  he was to blame his own perverse stupidity.
Almost is he too severe in his self-condemnation. For how else could he have
interpreted the scene he beheld, his preconceptions being what they were?
     That which he had already been  suspecting, he now accounted proven  to
him. Aline  had been  wanting  in  candour  on the subject  of  her feelings
towards M. de La Tour d'Azyr.  It  was,  he supposed, a  woman's  way  to be
secretive in such matters, and he must not blame her. Nor could he blame her
in his heart for having succumbed to the singular charm of such a man as the
Marquis -  for  not  even his hostility could  blind  him to  M. de  La Tour
d'Azyr's  attractions.  That she had succumbed was betrayed, he  thought, by
the weakness that had overtaken her upon seeing him wounded.
     "My God!" he  cried aloud. "What must she have suffered, then, if I had
killed him as I intended!"
     If only she had used candour with him, she could so easily have won his
consent  to the thing she asked. If only she  had  told him what now he saw,
that she loved M. de La Tour d'Azyr, instead of leaving  him to  assume  her
only  regard for the Marquis to  be based on unworthy  worldly ambition,  he
would at once have yielded.
     He fetched  a sigh, and breathed a  prayer for forgiveness to the shade
of Vilmorin.
     "It is perhaps as well that my lunge went wide," he said.
     "What do you mean?" wondered Le Chapelier.
     "That in this business I must relinquish all hope of recommencing."




     M.  de La Tour  d'Azyr was seen no more  in the  Manege - or  indeed in
Paris at all - throughout all the months that the National Assembly remained
in session  to complete its work of  providing France with  a  constitution.
After all,  though the wound to his body had  been comparatively slight, the
wound to such a pride as his had been all but mortal.
     The rumour ran that he had emigrated. But that was only half the truth.
The  whole of it was that he had joined that  group of  noble travellers who
came and went between the Tuileries and the headquarters  of the  emigres at
Coblenz. He became, in short, a  member of the royalist  secret service that
in the end was to bring down the monarchy in ruins.
     As for Andre-Louis, his godfather's house  saw him no more, as a result
of his  conviction that M. de  Kercadiou would  not relent from his  written
resolve never to receive him again if the duel were fought.
     He threw himself into  his duties  at the  Assembly with  such zeal and
effect that when - its purpose accomplished - the Constituent was  dissolved
in  September of the  following year, membership of  the  Legislative, whose
election followed immediately, was thrust upon him.
     He considered  then, like many  others, that the Revolution was a thing
accomplished, that France  had only  to  govern  herself by the Constitution
which  had been given her, and that all would  now be well. And so it  might
have been but  that the Court could not bring itself  to  accept the altered
state of things. As a result of its intrigues half Europe was arming to hurl
herself upon France, and her quarrel was the quarrel of the French King with
his people.  That was the horror at the root of all the horrors that were to
come.
     Of  the  counter-revolutionary  troubles  that  were  everywhere  being
stirred up by the clergy, none  were more acute than those of Brittany, and,
in view of the influence it was hoped he would wield in his native province,
it was  proposed  to Andre-Louis by the Commission  of Twelve,  in the early
days of  the  Girondin ministry, that  he should go  thither  to  combat the
unrest. He was desired  to proceed peacefully,  but  his powers  were almost
absolute, as  is shown  by the  orders he carried - orders enjoining all  to
render him assistance and warning those who might hinder him that they would
do so at their peril.
     He accepted  the task,  and  he  was one of the five  plenipotentiaries
despatched on the  same errand  in  that spring of 1792.  It kept him absent
from Paris for  four months and might  have kept him longer  but that at the
beginning  of  August he  was  recalled. More imminent  than any  trouble in
Brittany was the trouble brewing in Paris itself; when the political sky was
blacker than it had been since '89. Paris realized that the hour was rapidly
approaching which would see the climax of the long struggle between Equality
and Privilege. And it was towards a  city so disposed that Andre-Louis  came
speeding from  the West,  to find there also the climax of his own disturbed
career.
     Mlle. de Kercadiou, too, was in Paris in those days of early August, on
a visit to her uncle's cousin  and  dearest friend, Mme. de Plougastel.  And
although nothing could now be plainer than the seething unrest that heralded
the  explosion  to  come,  yet  the  air  of  gaiety, indeed  of jocularity,
prevailing  at  Court - whither madame and mademoiselle  went almost daily -
reassured them. M. de Plougastel had come and gone again, back to Coblenz on
that secret business  that kept him now  almost  constantly absent from  his
wife.  But  whilst with her he had positively assured  her that all measures
were taken, and that an insurrection was a  thing to be welcomed, because it
could have one only conclusion, the final crushing of the  Revolution in the
courtyard  of the Tuileries.  That, he added, was  why the King  remained in
Paris. But for his confidence  in that he would put himself in the centre of
his Swiss and  his knights of  the dagger,  and quit the capital. They would
hack  a way out for him easily  if his departure were opposed.  But not even
that would be necessary.
     Yet in  those early days of August, after  her husband's  departure the
effect of his  inspiring words  was  gradually dissipated  by the  march  of
events under madame's own eyes. And finally on the afternoon  of the  ninth,
there arrived at the Hotel Plougastel a messenger from Meudon bearing a note
from M. de Kercadiou in which he  urgently bade mademoiselle  join him there
at once, and advised her hostess to accompany her.
     You  may  have realized  that  M.  de Kercadiou  was of  those who make
friends with men  of all classes. His ancient lineage placed him on terms of
equality  with members  of  the  noblesse; his simple  manners  -  something
between the rustic and the bourgeois - and his natural affability placed him
on equally good terms  with those who by birth were his inferiors. In Meudon
he was known and esteemed of  all the simple  folk, and  it was Rougane, the
friendly  mayor,  who,  informed on  the 9th of August of the storm that was
brewing for the morrow, and knowing of mademoiselle's  absence in Paris, had
warningly advised him to withdraw her from what in the next  four-and-twenty
hours  might be a  zone of danger for all persons of  quality,  particularly
those suspected of connections with the Court party.
     Now there was no doubt whatever of Mme. de Plougastel's connection with
the Court.  It was not even  to be doubted - indeed, measure of proof  of it
was to be  forthcoming - that those vigilant and ubiquitous secret societies
that watched over the cradle  of the young revolution were fully informed of
the frequent journeyings  of M. de Plougastel to Coblenz, and entertained no
illusions on the score of the  reason for them. Given, then, a defeat of the
Court party in the struggle that  was  preparing,  the position in  Paris of
Mme. de  Plougastel could  not be other than fraught with danger,  and  that
danger would be shared by any guest of birth at her hotel.
     M. de Kercadiou's affection  for both those women quickened  the  fears
aroused  in him by Rougane's warning.  Hence that  hastily dispatched  note,
desiring his niece and imploring his friend to come at once to Meudon.
     The  friendly  mayor  carried  his  complaisance  a  step farther,  and
dispatched  the letter to Paris by  the hands of his own son, an intelligent
lad  of nineteen. It was late in the afternoon  of  that perfect  August day
when young Rougane presented himself at the Hotel Plougastel.
     He  was graciously received  by Mme. de  Plougastel in the salon, whose
splendours,  when  combined  with  the   great  air  of  the  lady  herself,
overwhelmed the lad's simple, unsophisticated soul. Madame made  up her mind
at once.
     M. de Kercadiou's urgent  message no more  than confirmed her own fears
and inclinations. She decided upon instant departure.
     "Bien,  madame," said the  youth. "Then  I  have  the honour to take my
leave."
     But she would not let him go. First to  the kitchen to refresh himself,
whilst  she and  mademoiselle made  ready, and  then  a seat for him in  her
carriage as  far as Meudon. She could not suffer him to return on foot as he
had come.
     Though in  all the circumstances it  was  no more than his due, yet the
kindliness that in such a moment of agitation could take thought for another
was  presently  to be rewarded. Had she done less than  this, she would have
known - if nothing  worse - at least some hours of anguish even greater than
those that were already in store for her.
     It  wanted,  perhaps, a half-hour to sunset when they  set  out  in her
carriage  with  intent  to  leave  Paris  by the  Porte  Saint-Martin.  They
travelled with a single footman behind. Rougane - terrifying condescension -
was given a  seat inside the carriage with the ladies, and proceeded to fall
in love with  Mlle. de Kercadiou, whom he accounted the most beautiful being
he  had ever seen, yet who talked  to him simply and unaffectedly as with an
equal. The thing went to his head a little, and disturbed certain republican
notions which he had hitherto conceived himself to have thoroughly digested.
     The carriage  drew up at the barrier, checked  there by a picket of the
National Guard posted before the iron gates.
     The sergeant in command strode to the door of the vehicle. The Countess
put her head from the window.
     "The barrier is closed, madame," she was curtly informed.
     "Closed!" she echoed. The thing was incredible. "But... but do you mean
that we cannot pass?"
     Not unless you have a permit, madame." The sergeant leaned nonchalantly
on his pike. "The orders are that no one is to leave or enter without proper
papers."
     "Whose orders?"
     "Orders of the Commune of Paris."
     "But  I  must  go into the country  this  evening." Madame's voice  was
almost petulant. "I am expected."
     "In that case let madame procure a permit."
     "Where is it to be procured?"
     "At the Hotel de Ville or at the headquarters of madame's section."
     She considered a moment. "To the  section, then. Be  so good as to tell
my coachman to drive to the Bondy Section."
     He saluted her and stepped  back. "Section  Bondy,  Rue des Morts,"  he
bade the driver.
     Madame sank into  her seat again, in a state of  agitation fully shared
by  mademoiselle. Rougane set himself  to  pacify  and  reassure  them.  The
section would put the matter in order. They would most certainly be accorded
a  permit.  What  possible  reason  could there be for refusing them? A mere
formality, after all!
     His  assurance uplifted them merely to  prepare them for  a  still more
profound  dejection when  presently they met  with a  flat refusal  from the
president of the section who received the Countess.
     "Your name, madame?" he  had asked brusquely. A rude fellow of the most
advanced  republican  type, he  had not even  risen out  of deference to the
ladies when they entered. He was there,  he would have  told you, to perform
the duties of his office, not to give dancing-lessons.
     "Plougastel," he repeated after her,  without title, as if it  had been
the name of  a butcher or baker. He took down a heavy volume from a shelf on
his right, opened it and turned the pages. It was a sort of directory of his
section.  Presently he found  what  he  sought. "Comte  de Plougastel, Hotel
Plougastel, Rue du Paradis. Is that it?"
     "That is correct, monsieur," she answered, with what civility she could
muster before the fellow's affronting rudeness.
     There was  a long moment  of silence,  during  which he studied certain
pencilled entries  against  the name.  The sections  had been working in the
last few weeks much more systematically than was generally suspected.
     "Your husband  is with  you, madame?"  he asked  curtly, his eyes still
conning that page.
     "M. le Comte is not with me," she answered, stressing the title.
     "Not with you?"  He looked  up suddenly, and directed upon her a glance
in which suspicion seemed to blend with derision. "Where is he?"
     "He is not in Paris, monsieur.
     "Ab! Is he at Coblenz, do you think?"
     Madame  felt herself turning cold.  There was  something ominous in all
this. To what end  had the sections informed themselves so thoroughly of the
comings and goings of their inhabitants? What was preparing? She had a sense
of being trapped, of being taken in a net that had been cast unseen.
     "I do not know, monsieur," she said, her voice unsteady.
     "Of course not." He seemed to sneer. "No matter. And you  wish to leave
Paris also? Where do you desire to go?"
     "To Meudon."
     "Your business there?"
     The blood leapt to her  face. His  insolence was unbearable to a  woman
who in all  her life had never known anything but the utmost  deference from
inferiors  and equals alike. Nevertheless,  realizing that  she  was face to
face  with  forces  entirely  new,  she  controlled   herself,  stifled  her
resentment, and answered steadily.
     "I wish to conduct this lady, Mlle. de Kercadiou, back to her uncle who
resides there."
     "Is that all? Another day will do  for that, madame.  The matter is not
pressing."
     "Pardon, monsieur, to us the matter is very pressing."
     "You have not convinced me  of  it, and the barriers are closed to  all
who cannot  prove the  most urgent  and satisfactory reasons  for wishing to
pass.   You   will  wait,   madame,   until   the  restriction  is  removed.
Good-evening."
     "But, monsieur... "
     "Good-evening,  madame,"  he repeated significantly, a  dismissal  more
contemptuous and despotic than any royal "You have leave to go.
     Madame  went out  with  Aline. Both were quivering with  the anger that
prudence  had urged them  to suppress. They climbed  into the  coach  again,
desiring to be driven home.
     Rougane's  astonishment  turned into dismay when they told him what had
taken place. "Why not try the Hotel de Ville, madame?" he suggested.
     "After that? It would be useless. We must resign ourselves to remaining
in Paris until the barriers are opened again."
     "Perhaps it  will  not matter  to us either  way by then, madame," said
Aline.
     "Aline!" she exclaimed in horror.
     "Mademoiselle!" cried Rougane on the  same note. And then,  because  he
perceived that people detained in  this fashion  must  be in some danger not
yet discernible, but on that account more dreadful, he set his wits to work.
As they were approaching the  Hotel  Plougastel once more, he announced that
he had solved the problem.
     "A passport from without would do equally well," he announced. "Listen,
now, and trust to me. I will go back to Meudon at once. My father shall give
me two permits - one for myself alone, and another for  three persons - from
Meudon  to  Paris and back  to Meudon.  I reenter  Paris with my own permit,
which I  then  proceed to destroy,  and we leave together,  we three, on the
strength of the other one, representing ourselves as having come from Meudon
in the course of the day. It is quite simple,  after all. If I go at once, I
shall be back to-night."
     "But how will you leave?" asked Aline.
     "I? Pooh! As to  that, have no anxiety. My father  is Mayor  of Meudon.
There  are plenty who know  him. I will  go to  the Hotel de Ville, and tell
them what is, after all, true - that I am caught in  Paris by the closing of
the barriers,  and that my father is expecting  me home this  evening.  They
will pass me through. It is quite simple."
     His  confidence  uplifted  them again. The  thing seemed as easy as  he
represented it.
     "Then let  your  passport be for four, my friend,"  madame  begged him.
"There  is  Jacques,"  she explained, indicating  the footman  who had  just
assisted them to alight.
     Rougane departed confident of soon returning, leaving them to await him
with  the same confidence.  But the  hours  succeeded one another, the night
closed in, bedtime came, and still there was no sign of his return.
     They waited until midnight,  each pretending for the other's  sake to a
confidence  fully sustained, each invaded by vague premonitions of evil, yet
beguiling the time by playing tric-trac  in the great  salon, as if they had
not a single anxious thought between them.
     At last on the stroke of midnight, madame sighed and rose.
     "It will be for to-morrow morning," she said, not believing it.
     "Of course,"  Aline  agreed. "It would really have been impossible  for
him  to  have  returned  to-night.  And it  will  be  much better to  travel
to-morrow.  The journey  at so late an hour would  tire  you  so much,  dear
madame."
     Thus they made pretence.
     Early in the morning they were awakened by a din of bells - the tocsins
of the sections  ringing the alarm.  To their  startled  ears came later the
rolling  of drums, and at one time they heard the sounds of  a  multitude on
the march. Paris was  rising. Later still came the rattle of  small-arms  in
the distance  and  the deeper boom  of cannon. Battle was joined between the
men of  the  sections  and  the men of  the Court.  The  people  in arms had
attacked the Tuileries. Wildest rumours flew in  all directions, and some of
them found their way through the servants to the Hotel Plougastel,  of  that
terrible fight for the palace  which was to  end in the purposeless massacre
of all  those whom  the invertebrate monarch abandoned there, whilst placing
himself and his family under the protection of the Assembly.  Purposeless to
the end, ever adopting the course pointed out to him by evil counsellors, he
prepared for  resistance only  until the  need  for resistance really arose,
whereupon he ordered a surrender which  left  those who had stood by  him to
the last at the mercy of a frenzied mob.
     And  while this was  happening in the  Tuileries, the two women at  the
Hotel  Plougastel still waited for  the return of  Rougane,  though now with
ever-lessening  hope. And Rougane did not return. The affair  did not appear
so simple to the father as to the son. Rougane the elder was  rightly afraid
to lend himself to such a piece of deception.
     He went  with his  son  to inform M. de Kercadiou of what had happened,
and told him  frankly of the thing his son suggested, but which he dared not
do.
     M. de Kercadiou  sought to  move  him by intercessions and even  by the
offer of bribes. But Rougane remained firm.
     "Monsieur,"  he  said,  "if  it  were  discovered  against  me,  as  it
inevitably would be, I should, hang for it. Apart from that, and in spite of
my anxiety to do all in my power to serve you, it would be a breach of trust
such as I could not contemplate. You must not ask me, monsieur."
     "But what do  you conceive is going to happen?" asked the half-demented
gentleman.
     "It is war," said Rougane, who was well informed, as we have seen. "War
between the people and the Court. I am desolated that my warning should have
come too late.  But,  when  all is said, I do not think that you need really
alarm yourself. War will not  be made  on women. M.  de  Kercadiou clung for
comfort to  that assurance after the mayor and his son had  departed. But at
the back of his mind there remained the knowledge of the traffic in which M.
de  Plougastel was engaged. What if the  revolutionaries  were equally  well
informed? And most probably  they were. The  women-folk political  offenders
had  been known aforetime to suffer for the  sins of their men. Anything was
possible in a popular upheaval, and Aline would be exposed jointly with Mme.
de Plougastel.
     Late that night, as  he sat gloomily in his brother's library, the pipe
in which he had sought solace extinguished between his fingers, there came a
sharp knocking at the door.
     To the old seneschal of Gavrillac who went to open there stood revealed
upon the threshold a slim young  man in a dark olive surcoat,  the skirts of
which  reached  down  to  his  calves.  He  wore  boots,  buckskins,  and  a
small-sword, and  round his waist there was a tricolour sash,  in his hat  a
tricolour cockade, which gave him an official look extremely sinister to the
eyes of that old retainer of feudalism,  who shared to the full his master's
present fears.
     "Monsieur desires?" he asked, between respect and mistrust.
     And then a crisp voice startled him.
     "Why, Benoit! Name of a name! Have you completely forgotten me?"
     With a shaking hand the  old man raised the lantern he carried so as to
throw its light more fully upon that lean, wide-mouthed countenance.
     "M. Andre!" he cried. "M.Andre!" And then he looked at the sash and the
cockade, and hesitated, apparently at a loss.
     But  Andre-Louis stepped  past  him into the  wide vestibule, with  its
tessellated floor of black-and-white marble.
     "If my godfather has  not  yet  retired,  take  me  to him. If  he  has
retired, take me to him all the same."
     "Oh, but certainly, M. Andre - and I am sure he will be ravished to see
you. No, he  has  not yet retired.  This  way, M.  Andre;  this  way, if you
please."
     The returning Andre-Louis,  reaching Meudon  a half-hour  ago, had gone
straight to the mayor for some definite news  of  what might be happening in
Paris  that should either  confirm or dispel the ominous rumours that he had
met in ever-increasing volume as he approached the capital. Rougane informed
him that insurrection was imminent, that already  the sections had possessed
themselves  of  the  barriers, and that it was impossible for any person not
fully accredited to enter or leave the city.
     Andre-Louis bowed his head,  his  thoughts of the  gravest. He  had for
some  time perceived  the danger of this second  revolution  from within the
first, which might destroy everything that had been done, and give the reins
of power to a villainous faction that would plunge the country into anarchy.
The thing he had feared was more than  ever on the point of taking place. He
would  go on  at  once,  that  very  night, and  see  for  himself what  was
happening.
     And then, as he was leaving, he turned again to Rougane to ask if M. de
Kercadiou was still at Meudon.
     "You know him, monsieur?"
     "He is my godfather."
     "Your  godfather!  And you a representative! Why, then,  you may be the
very man he needs." And Rougane told him of his son's errand into Paris that
afternoon and its result.
     No more  was required. That  two  years ago  his godfather should  upon
certain terms  have refused him his house weighed for nothing at the moment.
He left his travelling carriage at the little inn and went straight to M. de
Kercadiou.
     And  M.  de  Kercadiou,  startled  in  such  an  hour  by  this  sudden
apparition, of one against whom he nursed a bitter grievance, greeted him in
terms almost  identical with those in which in that same room he had greeted
him on a similar occasion once before.
     "What do you want here, sir?"
     "To serve you if possible, my godfather," was the disarming answer.
     But it did not disarm  M. de Kercadiou.  "You have stayed  away so long
that I hoped you would not again disturb me."
     "I should not have ventured to disobey you now were it not for the hope
that I can be of service. I have seen Rougane, the mayor... "
     "What's that you say about not venturing to disobey?"
     "You forbade me your house, monsieur."
     M. de Kercadiou stared at him helplessly.
     "And is that why you have not come near me in all this time?"
     "Of course. Why else?"
     M. de Kercadiou continued to stare. Then he swore under his breath.  It
disconcerted him to have to deal with  a man who insisted upon taking him so
literally.  He  had expected that Andre-Louis would have come  contritely to
admit his fault and beg to be taken back into favour. He said so.
     "But how could I hope that you meant less than  you said, monsieur? You
were  so  very definite in your declaration.  What expressions of contrition
could have served me without a purpose of  amendment? And I had no notion of
amending. We may yet be thankful for that."
     "Thankful?"
     "I am  a representative. I have  certain powers. I  am very opportunely
returning  to Paris.  Can  I serve  you  where  Rougane  cannot?  The  need,
monsieur, would appear to be  very urgent if the half of what  I  suspect is
true. Aline should be placed in safety at once."
     M.  de Kercadiou surrendered unconditionally.  He  came  over and  took
Andre-Louis' hand.
     "My boy," he said, and he was visibly moved, "there is in you a certain
nobility that is not to  be denied. If I seemed harsh with you, then, it was
because I was fighting against your evil proclivities. I desired to keep you
out of the evil path of politics that have brought  this unfortunate country
into so terrible a pass. The enemy on the frontier; civil war about to flame
out at home. That is what you revolution. aries have done."
     Andre-Louis did not argue. He passed on.
     "About Aline?" he asked. And himself answered his own question: "She is
in  Paris,  and she  must be brought  out of  it at  once, before  the place
becomes a shambles, as well it  may once the passions that have been brewing
all these months are let  loose. Young  Rougane's  plan is good. At least, I
cannot think of a better one."
     "But Rougane the elder will not hear of it."
     "You mean  he will  not do it  on his own  responsibility. But  he  has
consented to do it on mine. I have left him a note over my signature  to the
effect that a safe-conduct for Mlle. de Kercadiou to  go to Paris and return
is issued by him in  compliance with orders from me. The powers I carry  and
of which I have satisfied him are his sufficient  justification for  obeying
me in this. I have left him that note on the understanding that he is to use
it only in an extreme case, for his own protection. In exchange he has given
me this safe-conduct."
     "You already have it!"
     M. de Kercadiou took the sheet of paper that Andre-Louis  held out. His
hand  shook. He  approached  it  to the  cluster  of candles burning on  the
console and screwed up his short-sighted eyes to read.
     "If  you  send that  to Paris by young  Rougane in  the  morning," said
Andre-Louis, "Aline  should be  here  by noon. Nothing, of course,  could be
done to-night without provoking suspicion. The hour  is  too  late. And now,
monsieur my godfather,  you know  exactly why I intrude in violation of your
commands. If there is any other way  in which I can serve  you, you have but
to name it whilst I am here."
     "But  there  is,  Andre. Did  not Rougane  tell  you  that  there  were
others... "
     "He mentioned Mme. de Plougastel and her servant."
     "Then why... ?" M. de Kercadiou broke off, looking his question.
     Very solemnly Andre-Louis shook his head.
     "That is impossible," he said.
     M.  de  Kercadiou's mouth fell open  in astonishment. "Impossible!"  he
repeated. "But why?"
     "Monsieur, I  can  do what  I  am doing for Aline  without offending my
conscience. Besides, for Aline I  would offend my conscience and  do it. But
Mme.  de Plougastel is in very different case. Neither Aline nor any of hers
have been concerned in counter-revolutionary work, which is the  true source
of the calamity that now threatens to overtake us. I can procure her removal
from Paris without self-reproach, convinced that I am doing nothing that any
one could censure,  or  that might become the subject of enquiries. But Mme.
de Plougastel is the wife of M.  le Comte de Plougastel, whom  all the world
knows to be an agent between the Court and the emigres."
     "That  is  no  fault  of  hers,"  cried  M.  de  Kercadiou through  his
consternation.
     "Agreed. But she may be called upon at any moment to establish the fact
that she is not  a party to these  manoeuvres.  It is known that she was  in
Paris to-day. Should she be sought to-morrow and should it be found that she
has gone, enquiries will certainly be made, from which it must result that I
have betrayed my trust, and abused my powers to serve personal ends. I hope,
monsieur, that you will understand that the risk is too great to be run  for
the sake of a stranger."
     "A stranger?" said the Seigneur reproachfully.
     "Practically a stranger to me," said Andre-Louis.
     "But she is not a stranger to me, Andre. She is my cousin and very dear
and valued friend. And, mon Dieu, what you say but increases the urgency  of
getting her out  of Paris.  She must  be rescued,  Andre, at all costs - she
must be rescued! Why, her case is infinitely more urgent than Aline's!"
     He stood a  suppliant before his godson,  very different now  from  the
stern man who had greeted him on his arrival.  His face  was pale, his hands
shook, and there were beads of perspiration on his brow.
     "Monsieur my godfather, I would do anything in reason. But I  cannot do
this.  To rescue her might  mean ruin for Aline and yourself as  well as for
me."
     "We must take the risk."
     "You have a right to speak for yourself, of course."
     "Oh,  and for you, believe me,  Andre, for you!" He came  close  to the
young man. "Andre, I implore you  to take my word  for  that, and to  obtain
this permit for Mme. de Plougastel."
     Andre  looked at him mystified. "This is fantastic," he  said.  "I have
grateful memories  of  the lady's interest in me for a few days once  when I
was a child, and again more recently  in Paris when she sought to convert me
to what she accounts the true political religion. But I do not risk  my neck
for her - no, nor yours, nor Aline's."
     "Ah! But, Andre... "
     "That  is my last word,  monsieur. It is growing late, and  I desire to
sleep in Paris."
     "No,  no!  Wait!"  The  Lord  of  Gavrillac  was  displaying  signs  of
unspeakable distress. "Andre, you must!"
     There was in this insistence and, still more, in the frenzied manner of
it, something so  unreasonable that Andre could not fail to assume that some
dark and mysterious motive lay behind it.
     "I must?" he echoed. "Why must I? Your reasons,monsieur?"
     "Andre, my reasons are overwhelming."
     "Pray allow me to be the judge of that." Andre-Louis' manner was almost
peremptory.
     The demand  seemed to  reduce M.  de Kercadiou to despair. He paced the
room, his hands tight-clasped behind him, his brow wrinkled. At last he came
to stand before his godson.
     "Can't you take my word for  it that these reasons  exist?" he cried in
anguish.
     "In such a  matter  as  this -  a matter that may involve my neck?  Oh,
monsieur, is that reasonable?"
     "I violate my word of honour, my oath, if I tell  you." M. de Kercadiou
turned  away, wringing his hands, his condition visibly piteous; then turned
again to Andre.  "But in this extremity,  in  this  desperate extremity, and
since you  so ungenerously insist, I shall have to tell  you. God help me, I
have no  choice. She will realize that when she knows. Andre, my boy... " He
paused again, a man afraid. He  set a hand on  his godson's shoulder, and to
his  increasing  amazement  Andre-Louis  perceived  that  over  those  pale,
short-sighted  eyes there was  a film of tears. "Mme. de  Plougastel is your
mother."
     Followed, for a long moment, utter silence. This thing that he was told
was not immediately understood. When understanding came at last Andre-Louis'
first impulse was  to  cry  out.  But he  possessed himself, and  played the
Stoic. He must ever be playing something. That was in his nature. And he was
true  to  his nature even in this supreme moment. He continued silent until,
obeying  that  queer  histrionic  instinct, he could trust  himself to speak
without emotion. "I see," he said, at last, quite coolly.
     His mind  was  sweeping back over the past.  Swiftly  he  reviewed  his
memories of Mme. de Plougastel,  her  singular if sporadic interest in  him,
the curious blend of affection and wistfulness which  her manner towards him
had always presented, and  at  last  he understood so  much that hithert had
intrigued him.
     "I see," he said again; and added now, "Of course, any but a fool would
have guessed it long ago."
     It was M. de Kercadiou who cried out, M.  de Kercadiou who recoiled  as
from a blow.
     "My God, Andre, of what are you made? You can take such an announcement
in this fashion?".
     "And how would  you have  me take it? Should it surprise me to discover
that I had a mother?  After all, a  mother is an indispensable necessity  to
getting one's self born."
     He sat  down abruptly, to conceal the too-revealing fact that his limbs
were  shaking.  He pulled  a handkerchief  from his  pocket to mop his brow,
which had grown damp. And then,quite suddenly, he found himself weeping.
     At the sight  of those tears streaming silently down that face that had
turned  so pale, M.  de Kercadiou came quickly  across  to him. He sat  down
beside him and threw an arm affectionately over his shoulder.
     "Andre, my poor lad," he murmured. "I... I was fool enough  to think ou
had no  heart. You deceived me with your infernal pretence, and now I see...
I see... " He was not sure what it was that he  saw, or else he hesitated to
express it.
     "I: is nothing, monsieur. I am  tired out, and... and I have a  cold in
the head." And then, finding the part beyond his power, he abruptly threw it
up, utterly abandoned all  pretence. "Why...  why has  there been  all  this
mystery?" he asked. "Was it intended that I should never know?"
     "I: was, Andre. It... it had to be, for prudence' sake."
     "Eut  why? Complete your confidence, sir.  Surely  you cannot  leave it
there. Having told me so much, you must tell me all."
     "'The reason, my boy, is that you were born some three years after your
mother's marriage with M.  de Plougastel,  some eighteen  months after M. de
Plougastel  had been away with the  army,  and some  four months before  his
return to his wife. It is a matter that M. de Plougastel has never suspeted,
and  for gravest family reasons must  never suspect.  That is why the utmost
secrecy has been preserved. That is why none was ever allowed to know.  Your
mother  came betimes  into  Brittany,  and under an assumed name spent  some
months  in the village of Moreau.  It was while she was there that  you were
born."
     Andre-Louis turned it over in his mind. He had dried his tears. And sat
now rigid and collected.
     "When  you say that none was ever  allowed to know, you are telling me,
of course, that you, monsieur... "
     "Oh, mon  Dieu, no!"  The  denial  came  in a violent  outburst. M.  de
Kercadiou sprang to his feet propelled from  Andre's side by the violence of
his emotions. It was as  if  the very suggestion filled him with  horror. "I
was the  only  other  one who knew. But it is not as you think,  Andre.  You
cannot imagine that I should lie to  you, that I should deny you if you were
my son?"
     "If you say that I am not, monsieur, that is sufficient."
     "You are not. I was Therese's cousin and also, as  she  well knew,  her
truest friend. She knew that she could  trust me; and it  was to me she came
for help  in her extremity. Once,  years  before, I  would have married her.
But, of  course, I am not the sort of man  a woman could love.  She trusted,
however, to my love for her, and I have kept her trust."
     "Then, who was my father?"
     "I don't know. She never told me. It was her secret, and I did not pry.
It is not in my nature, Andre."
     Andre-Louis got up, and stood silently facing M. de Kercadiou.
     "You believe me, Andre."
     "Naturally, monsieur;  and I am sorry, I am  sorry that  I am not  your
son.
     M. de Kercadiou gripped his godson's hand  convulsively,  and held it a
moment with no word spoken. Then as they fell away from each other again:
     "And now, what will you do, Andre?" he asked. "Now that you know?"
     Andre-Louis stood  awhile. considering,  then broke into  laughter. The
situation had its humours. He explained them.
     "What  difference  should  the knowledge make?  Is filial piety  to  be
called into existence by the mere announcement of relationship? Am I to risk
my  neck through lack  of circumspection  on  behalf of  a  mother  so  very
circumspect that  she  had  no  intention  of  ever  revealing herself?  The
discovery  rests upon the merest chance, upon a fall of the dice of Fate. Is
that to weigh with me?"
     "The decision is with you, Andre."
     "Nay, it is beyond me. Decide it who can, I cannot."
     "You mean that you refuse even now?"
     "I mean that I consent.  Since I cannot decide what it is that I should
do, it only remains for me to do what a son should. It is grotesque; but all
life is grotesque."
     "You will never, never regret it."
     "I hope not," said Andre. "Yet I think it very likely that I shall. And
now I had better see Rougane  again at once, and obtain from  him the  other
two permits required. Then perhaps it will be best that I take them to Paris
myself, in  the  morning. If you  will give me a  bed,  monsieur, I shall be
grateful. I... I confess that I am hardly in case to do more to-night."




     Into  the  late  afternoon of  that  endless  day  of horror  with  its
perpetual  alarms,  its  volleying  musketry,  rolling  drums,  and  distant
muttering of angry multitudes, Mme. de Plougastel and  Aline sat  waiting in
that handsome house in the Rue du Paradis. It was no longer for Rougane they
waited. They realized  that, be  the reason what it might - and  by now many
reasons must no doubt exist - this friendly messenger would not return. They
waited without knowing for what. They waited for whatever might betide.
     At one time early in the afternoon the  roar of battle approached them,
racing swiftly  in their direction,  swelling each  moment  in volume and in
horror. It was the frenzied clamour of a multitude drunk with blood and bent
on destruction.  Near at hand that  fierce wave  of humanity checked in  its
turbulent progress. Followed blows of pikes upon  a door and imperious calls
to open, and thereafter came the rending of timbers, the shivering of glass,
screams of terror blending  with screams of rage, and, running through these
shrill sounds, the deeper diapason of bestial laughter.
     It was a  hunt of  two  wretched  Swiss  guardsmen  seeking blindly  to
escape. And they were  run to  earth  in a house in the  neighbourhood,  and
there cruelly done to death  by  that demoniac mob. The thing  accomplished,
the hunters,  male  and female, forming into a battalion, came swinging down
the Rue du Paradis, chanting the song of Marseilles - a song new to Paris in
those days:
     Allons, enfants de la patrie! Le jour de gloire est  arrive Contre nous
de la tyrannie L'etendard sanglant est 1eve.
     Nearer it came, raucously bawled  by some hundreds of  voices, a  dread
sound that had come so suddenly to displace at least temporarily the  merry,
trivial  air  of  the "Ca  ira!"  which hitherto had  been the revolutionary
carillon. Instinctively  Mme. de  Plougastel  and Aline clung to each other.
They had  heard the  sound  of  the  ravishing of  that other house  in  the
neighbourhood, without knowledge of the reason. What if now it should be the
turn of the Hotel Plougastel! There was no real cause to fear it, save  that
amid a  turmoil imperfectly understood and therefore the more awe-inspiring,
the worst must be feared always.
     The dreadful song so  dreadfully  sung, and the thunder of heavily shod
feet upon the roughly  paved street, passed on  and receded.  They  breathed
again, almost  as if a miracle  had saved them, to  yield  to fresh alarm an
instant later, when madame's young footman, Jacques, the most trusted of her
servants, burst  into their  presence  unceremoniously  with  a scared face,
bringing the announcement  that  a man who had  just climbed over the garden
wall professed  himself  a friend  of  madame's,  and desired to  be brought
immediately to her presence.
     "But  he looks  like  a sansculotte, madame," the staunch fellow warned
her.
     Her thoughts and hopes leapt at once to Rougane.
     "Bring him in," she commanded breathlessly.
     Jacques went out, to return presently accompanied by a  tall  man  in a
long, shabby, and very ample overcoat and a wide-brimmed hat that was turned
down all round,  and adorned  by an enormous tricolour cockade.  This hat he
removed as he entered.
     Jacques, standing behind him, perceived that his  hair, although now in
some disorder, bore signs of having been carefully dressed. It  was clubbed,
and it carried some lingering vestiges of powder. The young footman wondered
what it was in  the man's face, which was turned from him, that should cause
his mistress to out and recoil. Then he found himself dismissed abruptly  by
a gesture.
     The newcomer advanced to  the  middle of the salon, moving like  a  man
exhausted and breathing hard. There he leaned against a table,  across which
he  confronted  Mme. de Plougastel. And she  stood regarding him,  a strange
horror in her eyes.
     In  the  background, on  a settle  at  the  salon's far  end, sat Aline
staring  in  bewilderment and some fear  at a  face which, if unrecognizable
through the mask  of  blood and dust that smeared it, was  yet familiar. And
then the man spoke, and instantly she knew the voice for that of the Marquis
de La Tour d'Azyr.
     "My dear friend," he was saying, "forgive me if I startled you. Forgive
me if  I thrust myself in  here without  leave, at such  a time, in  such  a
manner. But... you see how  it is with me. I am a fugitive. In the course of
my distracted flight, not knowing which way to turn for safety, I thought of
you. I told myself that if I could but safely reach your house, I might find
sanctuary."
     "You are in danger?"
     "In danger?"  Almost he  seemed  silently to  laugh  at the unnecessary
question. "If I were to show myself openly  in the streets just now, I might
with luck  contrive  to  live for  five  minutes!  My friend,  it has been a
massacre. Some few of us escaped from the Tuileries at the end, to be hunted
to death  in the streets.  I doubt if by this time a  single Swiss survives.
They had the worst of it, poor devils. And as  for us - my God! they hate us
more than they hate the Swiss. Hence this filthy disguise."
     He  peeled off the  shaggy greatcoat, and casting it from  him  stepped
forth in the black  satin that had been  the general livery of  the  hundred
knights of  the dagger who had rallied in the Tuileries that  morning to the
defence of their king.
     His coat was rent across the back, his neckcloth and the ruffles at his
wrists  were  torn  and bloodstained; with  his  smeared face and disordered
headdress he was terrible to  behold. Yet he contrived to carry himself with
his habitual easy  assurance, remembered to kiss  the trembling  hand  which
Mme. de Plougastel extended to him in welcome.
     "You  did  well  to  come  to me,  Gervais,"  she said.  "Yes, here  is
sanctuary  for the present. You will be  quite safe, at least for as long as
we  are  safe. My servants are entirely  trustworthy. Sit down and  tell  me
all."
     He obeyed  her,  collapsing almost into the armchair  which she  thrust
forward,  a man  exhausted, whether by physical exertion or by nerve-strain,
or both. He drew a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped some of  the blood
and dirt from his face.
     "It is soon told." His tone was bitter with the  bitterness of despair.
"This,  my dear, is the end of us. Plougastel is lucky  in  being across the
frontier at  such a  time. Had  I not  been fool enough to trust  those  who
to-day have proved  themselves utterly  unworthy of  trust,  that is where I
should be myself. My remaining in Paris is the crowning folly of a life full
of follies and mistakes. That I should come to you in my hour of most urgent
need adds point to it." He laughed in his bitterness.
     Madame moistened her dry lips. "And... and now?" she asked him.
     "It  only  remains to get  away as  soon  as may  be,  if it  is  still
possible. Here in France there is  no longer any room for us - at least, not
above ground. To-day has proved it." And then he  looked up at her, standing
there beside  him  so pale and timid, and he smiled. He patted the fine hand
that rested  upon the  arm of his chair. "My dear  Therese, unless you carry
charitableness  to the length of giving me to drink, you will see me  perish
of thirst  under  your eyes before ever the  canaille has a chance to finish
me."
     She started. "I should have thought of it!" she cried in self-reproach,
and she turned quickly. "Aline," she begged, "tell Jacques to bring... "
     "Aline!" he echoed,interrupting, and swinging round in his  turn. Then,
as  Aline  rose into view,  detaching  from her  background, and  he at last
perceived her, he heaved himself abruptly to his weary legs again, and stood
there  stiffly   bowing  to  her   across  the  space  of  gleaming   floor.
"Mademoiselle, I had  not suspected your presence,"  he said, and  he seemed
extraordinarily ill-at-ease, a man startled, as if caught in an illicit act.
     "I  perceived  it,  monsieur,"  she  answered, as  she  advanced  to do
madame's  commission.  She paused before  him.  "From my  heart, monsieur, I
grieve that we should meet again in circumstances so very painful."
     Not since the day of his duel with Andre-Louis - the day which had seen
the  death and burial of his last hope of winning her  - had they stood face
to face.
     He checked as if on  the point of answering her. His glance strayed  to
Mme. de Plougastel, and,  oddly reticent for one who could  be very glib, he
bowed in silence.
     "But sit, monsieur, I beg. You are fatigued."
     "You  are  gracious to observe it. With your permission, then." And  he
resumed his seat.  She continued on her way to the door and  passed out upon
her errand.
     When  presently  she returned  they had  almost  unaccountably  changed
places. It was Mme. de Plougastel who was seated in that armchair of brocade
and gilt, and M. de  La Tour d'Azyr  who, despite his lassitude, was leaning
over the back of it talking earnestly, seeming by his attitude to plead with
her. On Aline's entrance he broke off instantly and moved  away, so that she
was  left with  a  sense of having  intruded. Further she observed that  the
Countess was in tears.
     Following her came presently the diligent Jacques, bearing a tray laden
with food and wine. Madame poured for her guest, and he drank a long draught
of the Burgundy, then begged,  holding forth  his grimy hands, that he might
mend his appearance before sitting down to eat.
     He was led away  and valeted by  Jacques,  and when  he returned he had
removed  from  his  person the  last vestige  of  the rough  handling he had
received.  He looked almost  his  normal  self, the disorder  in his  attire
repaired, calm and dignified and courtly in his bearing, but  very pale  and
haggard  of  face,  seeming suddenly to  have increased  in  years,  to have
reached in appearance the age that was in fact his own.
     As  he  ate and drank - and this  with appetite, for as he told them he
had not tasted food since early morning - he entered into the details of the
dreadful events of the  day, and gave them the particulars of his own escape
from the  Tuileries when all was seen to be lost and when  the Swiss, having
burnt  their last  cartridge, were submitting to  wholesale massacre at  the
hands of the indescribably furious mob.
     "Oh,  it was all most ill  done," he ended  critically. "We were  timid
when we  should  have  been  resolute,  and resolute at last when it was too
late.  That is the  history of our side from the beginning of this  accursed
struggle. We  have lacked proper leadership throughout, and now - as  I have
said already - there is an end  to us. It but remains  to escape, as soon as
we can discover how the thing is to be accomplished."
     Madame told him of the hopes that she had centred upon Rougane.
     It lifted him out of his gloom. He was disposed to be optimistic.
     "You are wrong to have  abandoned that hope," he assured  her. "If this
mayor is so well disposed, he certainly can do as his son promised. But last
night it would have  been too late for him to have reached you,  and to-day,
assuming that  he had come to Paris, almost impossible for him to win across
the streets from the other side. It  is most likely that he will yet come. I
pray that he may; for the knowledge that you and Mlle. de  Kercadiou are out
of this would comfort me above all."
     "We should take you with us," said madame.
     "Ah! But how?"
     "Young  Rougane  was  to bring  me permits for  three persons -  Aline,
myself, and my footman, Jacques. You would take the place of Jacques."
     "Faith, to get  out of Paris, madame,  there is  no  man whose  place I
would not take." And he laughed.
     Their  spirits  rose with his  and their flagging hopes revived. But as
dusk descended again upon  the city,  without any sign of the deliverer they
awaited, those hopes began to ebb once more.
     M. de  La  Tour  d'Azyr  at  last pleaded weariness,  and begged  to be
permitted  to withdraw  that he might  endeavour to  take  some rest against
whatever might have to  be faced in  the immediate future. When he had gone,
madame persuaded Aline to go and lie down.
     "I will  call you, my  dear, the  moment he arrives," she said, bravely
maintaining  that  pretence  of  a  confidence  that  had  by  now  entirely
evaporated.
     Aline kissed her  affectionately, and departed,  outwardly so  calm and
unperturbed as to  leave  the  Countess wondering whether  she  realized the
peril by  which  they were surrounded, a peril  infinitely increased by  the
presence  in that house of a  man  so  widely known and detested as M. de La
Tour d'Azyr, a  man who was probably being sought for by his enemies at this
moment.
     Left alone, madame lay down on a couch in the salon itself, to be ready
for any emergency.  It  was a hot  summer night, and the glass doors opening
upon  the luxuriant garden  stood  wide to admit  the air. On that  air came
intermittently  from  the  distance   sounds  of  the  continuing   horrible
activities of the populace, the aftermath of that bloody day.
     Mme.  de Plougastel lay there, listening to those sounds for upwards of
an hour, thanking Heaven that for the present at least the disturbances were
distant, dreading lest at any moment they should occur nearer at hand,  lest
this  Bondy section in which her hotel was situated should  become the scene
of  horrors  similar  to  those  whose echoes  reached  her ears  from other
sections away to the south and west.
     The couch occupied by the Countess lay in shadow; for all the lights in
that  long salon had  been extinguished with  the exception  of a cluster of
candles in a massive silver candle branch placed  on a round marquetry table
in the middle of the room - an island of light in the surrounding gloom.
     The timepiece on the overmantel chimed melodiously the hour of ten, and
then, startling in the suddenness with which it broke the immediate silence,
another sound vibrated through the house, and brought madame to her feet, in
a  breathless mingling of hope and dread. Some one  was knocking  sharply on
the door  below. Followed  moments of  agonized suspense, culminating in the
abrupt  invasion  of the room by the footman Jacques. He  looked round,  not
seeing his mistress at first.
     "Madame! Madame!" he panted, out of breath.
     "What  is  it, Jacques!"  Her voice was steady now  that  the  need for
self-control seemed thrust upon her. She advanced from the shadows into that
island of light about the table. "There  is a  man below. He is asking... he
is demanding to see you at once."
     "A man?" she questioned.
     "He...  he seems  to  be an  official; at least  he  wears the sash  of
office. And he refuses to give any name; he says that  his name would convey
nothing to you. He insists that he must see you in person and at once."
     "An official?" said madame.
     "An  official," Jacques repeated. "I  would not  have admitted him, but
that he demanded it  in the name of the Nation. Madame, it is for you to say
what  shall be done.  Robert is  with me. If you wish it... whatever it  may
be... "
     "My good  Jacques,  no,  no." She was  perfectly composed. If  this man
intended  evil, surely he  would not come alone. Conduct him to me, and then
beg Mlle. de Kercadiou to join me if she is awake."
     Jacques departed, himself partly  reassured. Madame  seated herself  in
the armchair by the table well within the light. She smoothed her dress with
a mechanical  hand. If, as it would seem, her  hopes had been futile, so had
her momentary fears. A  man on any but an errand of peace would have brought
some following with him, as she had said.
     The door  opened  again, and  Jacques reappeared;  after  him, stepping
briskly past him,  came a slight  man in a  wide-brimmed  hat,  adorned by a
tricolour cockade. About the waist of  an olive-green riding-coat  he wore a
broad tricolour sash; a sword hung at his side.
     He swept  off his hat, and the candlelight glinted on the  steel buckle
in front of it. Madame found  herself silently regarded  by a pair of large,
dark eyes set in a lean,  brown face, eyes  that were most singularly intent
and searching.
     She leaned  forward, incredulity swept across her countenance. Then her
eyes kindled, and the  colour came creeping back into her  pale  cheeks. She
rose suddenly. She was trembling.
     "Andre-Louis!" she exclaimed.




     That  gift  of laughter of his  seemed  utterly  extinguished. For once
there  was no  gleam of humour in those  dark  eyes, as  they  continued  to
consider her with that queer stare of scrutiny. And yet, though his gaze was
sombre, his  thoughts were not. With his  cruelly true  mental vision  which
pierced through shams,  and his capacity  for  detached  observation - which
properly applied might have carried him very far, indeed -  he perceived the
grotesqueness,  the artificiality  of  the emotion  which in that  moment he
experienced, but by  which he refused to be  possessed. It  sprang  entirely
from  the  consciousness  that  she  was  his  mother;  as  if,  all  things
considered, the more or less accidental fact that she had brought  him  into
the world could establish between them any real bond  at this time  of  day!
The  motherhood that  bears  and  forsakes  is  less  than  animal.  He  had
considered  this; he had  been given ample leisure in  which  to consider it
during those long, turbulent  hours in which  he had  been forced  to  wait,
because it  would  have  been  almost  impossible  to  have won across  that
seething city, and certainly unwise to have attempted so to do.
     He had reached the conclusion that by consenting to go to her rescue at
such  a time he stood committed to  a piece of purely sentimental  quixotry.
The  quittances which the  Mayor  of Meudon had  exacted from  him before he
would  issue  the  necessary safe-conducts placed the  whole of  his future,
perhaps  his very life, in jeopardy. And he had consented to do this not for
the  sake of a reality, but out of regard  for an idea - he who all his life
had avoided the false lure of worthless and hollow sentimentality.
     Thus  thought  Andre-Louis as  he  considered  her now  so searchingly,
finding  it,  naturally enough, a matter  of extraordinary interest  to look
consciously  upon  his   mother  for   the   first  time  at   the   age  of
eight-and-twenty.
     >From her he  looked at  last  at Jacques,  who  remained at attention,
waiting by the open door.
     "Could we be alone, madame?" he asked her.
     She waved the footman  away,  and the door closed. In agitated silence,
unquestioning, she waited for  him to  account for his presence there at  so
extraordinary a time.
     "Rougane  could  not  return,"  he  informed  her  shortly.  At  M.  de
Kercadiou's request, I come instead."
     "You! You  are sent to  rescue us!" The  note of amazement in her voice
was stronger than that of het relief.
     "That, and to make your acquaintance, madame."
     "To make my acquaintance? But what do you mean, Andre-Louis?"
     "This letter from M. de Kercadiou will tell you." Intrigued  by his odd
words and odder manner, she took the folded  sheet. She broke the  seal with
shaking  hands,  and with shaking hands  approached the  written page to the
light.  Her  eyes  grew  troubled as  she read;  the  shaking  of her  hands
increased,  and midway through  that reading a  moan escaped her. One glance
that  was almost terror  she  darted  at the slim, straight man  standing so
incredibly impassive upon the edge of the light, and then she endeavoured to
read on. But the  crabbed characters  of  M.  de  Kercadiou swam distortedly
under her eyes. She could not read. Besides, what could  it matter what else
he  said.  She had read  enough. The sheet fluttered  from  her hands to the
table, and out of a face that was like a face of wax, she looked now with  a
wistfulness, a sadness indescribable, at Andre-Louis.
     "And so you know, my child?" Her voice was stifled to a whisper.
     "I know, madame my mother."
     The  grimness, the subtle blend  of merciless  derision and reproach in
which it was uttered completely escaped her.  She cried out at the new name.
For  her in that moment  time and the  world stood still. Her peril there in
Paris as the wife of an intriguer at Coblenz was  blotted out, together with
every other consideration
     - thrust  out of a consciousness that could  find room for nothing else
beside  the fact that she  stood  acknowledged  by her only son,  this child
begotten in  adultery,  borne  furtively  and in shame in a  remote Brittany
village eight-and-twenty  years ago. Not even a thought for  the betrayal of
that inviolable secret, or the con-  sequences  that might follow, could she
spare in this supreme moment.
     She took  one or two faltering  steps towards him, hesitating. Then she
opened her arms. Sobs suffocated her voice.
     "Won't you come to me, Andre-Louis?"
     A  moment  yet he  stood hesitating,  startled by that  appeal, angered
almost by his heart's response to it, reason and sentiment at  grips  in his
soul. This  was not real, his reason postulated; this poignant  emotion that
she displayed and that he experienced was fantastic. Yet  he went.  Her arms
enfolded him; her wet cheek was  pressed hard against  his  own;  her frame,
which the years had not yet succeeded in robbing of its grace, was shaken by
the passionate storm within her.
     "Oh, Andre-Louis, my child, if you knew how I have hungered to hold you
so! If  you knew  how in denying myself  this I have  atoned  and  suffered!
Kercadiou should  not  have told you  -  not even now. It  was wrong  - most
wrong, perhaps, to you. It would  have  been better that he should have left
me here to my fate, whatever that may be. And  yet - come what may of this -
to be able to hold you  so, to be able to acknowledge you, to hear you  call
me mother -  oh! Andre-Louis, I cannot now regret it.  I cannot...  I cannot
wish it otherwise."
     "Is there any need,  madame?" he asked her, his stoicism deeply shaken.
"There  is  no  occasion  to take  others into  our confidence. This is  for
to-night  alone. To-night  we are mother and  son. To-morrow we  resume  our
former places, and, outwardly at least, forget."
     "Forget? Have you no heart, Andre-Louis?"
     The question recalled him curiously to his attitude towards life
     - that histrionic attitude of his that  he accounted  true  philosophy.
Also he remembered what lay before them; and he realized that he must master
not only himself  but her; that to yield too far to sentiment at such a time
might be the ruin of them all.
     "It is a question  propounded to me so often that it  must  contain the
truth," said he. "My rearing is to blame for that."
     She tightened her clutch about his neck even as he would have attempted
to disengage himself from her embrace.
     "You do  not  blame  me  for your  rearing? Knowing  all,  as  you  do,
Andre-Louis, you cannot altogether  blame. You  must be merciful to me.  You
must forgive me. You must! I had no choice."
     "When  we know all of whatever it  may be, we can never do anything but
forgive, madame. That  is the  profoundest  religious  truth  that  was ever
written. It contains, in fact, a whole religion -  the  noblest religion any
man could have to guide him. I say this for your comfort, madame my mother."
     She sprang away from him with a startled cry. Beyond him in the shadows
by the door a pale figure shimmered ghostly. It advanced into the light, and
resolved itself into Aline. She had come in answer to that forgotten summons
madame  had  sent  her  by  Jacques.   Entering  unperceived  she  had  seen
Andre-Louis in the embrace of the woman whom  he addressed as  "mother." She
had recognized him  instantly by his voice, and she could not have said what
bewildered her more: his presence there or the thing she overheard.
     "You heard, Aline?" madame exclaimed.
     "I could not help it, madame. You sent  for me. I am  sorry if... " She
broke off, and  looked at Andre-Louis  long and curiously. She was pale, but
quite composed. She held out her hand to him. "And so you have come at last,
Andre," said she. "You might have come before."
     "I come when I am  wanted,"  was his answer. "Which is the only time in
which one can be sure of being received." He said it without bitterness, and
having said it stooped to kiss her hand.
     "You can  forgive  me  what is past,  I  hope,  since  I  failed of  my
purpose,"  he said gently, half-pleading.  "I  could  not  have come to  you
pretending  that  the  failure  was intentional - a  compromise between  the
necessities of the case and your own wishes.  For  it was not that. And yet,
you do not seem to have profited by my failure. You are still a maid."
     She turned her shoulder to him.
     "There are things," she said, "that you will never understand."
     "Life, for one,"  he  acknowledged.  "I confess that  I am  finding  it
bewildering. The  very  explanations calculated  to simplify it  seem but to
complicate it further." And he looked at Mme. de Plougastel.
     "You mean something, I suppose," said mademoiselle.
     "Aline!"  It was  the  Countess  who  spoke. She  knew  the  danger  of
half-discoveries.  "I can  trust you, child, I know,  and Andre-Louis, I  am
sure, will offer  no objection." She had  taken up the letter  to show it to
Aline. Yet first her eyes questioned him.
     "Oh, none,  madame," he  assured  her.  "It  is  entirely a matter  for
yourself."
     Aline looked from  one to the  other with troubled  eyes, hesitating to
take the  letter that was  now  proffered. When she had read it through, she
very  thoughtfully replaced it on  the table. A moment  she stood there with
bowed head,  the other two watching her. Then impulsively  she ran to madame
and put her arms about her.
     "Aline!"  It  was  a cry of wonder, almost of joy. "You do  not utterly
abhor me!"
     "My dear," said  Aline, and kissed the tear-stained face that seemed to
have grown years older in these last few hours.
     In the  background Andre-Louis,  steeling himself against emotionalism,
spoke with the voice of Scaramouche.
     "It would be well, mesdames, to  postpone all transports until they can
be indulged at greater leisure and in more security. It is growing late.  If
we  are to get out  of this shambles we  should  be  wise  to take  the road
without more delay."
     It was a tonic as effective as  it was necessary. It startled them into
remembrance of  their circumstances, and under the spur of it  they went  at
once to make their preparations.
     They left  him for perhaps a quarter of an hour, to pace that long room
alone, saved only from impatience by the turmoil of his mind. When at length
they returned, they were  accompanied by a tall man in a full-skirted shaggy
greatcoat  and a broad  hat the brim of which was turned down all around. He
remained respectfully by the door in the shadows.
     Between them  the  two women  had  concerted  it thus,  or  rather  the
Countess had so  concerted  it when Aline  had  warned her that Andre-Louis'
bitter hostility towards the Marquis made it unthinkable that he should move
a finger consciously to save him.
     Now despite the close friendship uniting M. de Kercadiou  and his niece
with Mme. de Plougastel, there were several matters concerning them of which
the  Countess was in ignorance.  One  of these was the project  at one  time
existing of a  marriage between Aline and M. de  La  Tour d'Azyr. It  was  a
matter that Aline  -  naturally enough in the state of  her  feelings -  had
never mentioned, nor had M. de Kercadiou ever alluded to it since his coming
to Meudon, by when he had perceived how unlikely it was ever to be realized.
     M. de La Tour  d'Azyr's concern for Aline  on  that morning of the duel
when  he had found  her  baif-swooning in Mme. de Plougastel's  carriage had
been of a circumspection that betrayed  nothing of his real interest in her,
and  therefore had  appeared  no more than natural in  one who  must account
himself  the cause of her  distress.  Similarly Mme. de Plougastel had never
realized nor did she  realize  now  -  for Aline  did not  trouble fully  to
enlighten her  -  that the hostility between  the two  men  was  other  than
political,  the  quarrel other than that which already had taken Andre-Louis
to the Bois on  every day of the preceding week. But, at least, she realized
that even if  Andre-Louis' rancour  should have no other  source,  yet  that
inconclusive duel was cause enough for Aline's fears.
     And so she had proposed this obvious deception; and Aline had consented
to  be  a  passive  party  to  it.  They  had made the  mistake of not fully
forewarning and persuading M. de La Tour d'Azyr.  They had  trusted entirely
to his  anxiety to escape from  Paris to keep  him rigidly  within the  part
imposed upon him. They had reckoned  without the queer sense  of honour that
moved such men as M. le Marquis, nurtured upon a code of shams.
     Andre-Louis,  turning  to  scan that muffled  figure, advanced from the
dark  depths of  the salon.  As  the light  beat on his white, lean face the
pseudo-footman  started.  The next  moment  he too stepped forward into  the
light,  and swept  his  broad-brimmed  hat  from  his  brow.  As  he did  so
Andre-Louis observed  that  his  hand  was  fine and white  and that a jewel
flashed from one of the fingers. Then he caught his breath, and stiffened in
every line as he recognized the face revealed to him.
     "Monsieur," that stern, proud man was saying, "I cannot  take advantage
of your ignorance. If these ladies can persuade you  to save me, at least it
is due to you that you shall know whom you are saving."
     He stood there by  the table  very erect and dignified, ready to perish
as he had lived - if perish he must - without fear and without deception.
     Andre-Louis came slowly forward until he reached the table on the other
side, and then at last the muscles of his set face relaxed, and he laughed.
     "You laugh?" said M. de La Tour dAzyr, frowning, offended.
     "It is so damnably amusing," said Andre-Louis.
     "You've an odd sense of humour, M. Moreau."
     "Oh, admitted. The unexpected always moves me so. I have found you many
things in the course of our acquaintance. To-night  you are the  one thing I
never expected to find you: an honest man."
     M. de La Tour d'Azyr quivered. But he attempted no reply.
     "Because of that, monsieur, I am disposed to be clement. It is probably
a foolishness. But you have surprised me  into it. I give you three minutes,
monsieur,  in which to leave this house, and to  take  your own measures for
your safety. What afterwards happens to you shall be no concern of mine.
     "Ah, no, Andre! Listen... " Madame began in anguish.
     "Pardon, madame.  It  is the utmost that I  will do, and  already I  am
violating what I conceive to be my duty. If M.  de La Tour d'Azyr remains he
not  only ruins himself, but he imperils you. For unless he departs at once,
he goes with  me to the  headquarters of the section,  and the section  will
have  his   head  on   a   pike   inside  the   hour.  He   is  a  notorious
counter-revolutionary,  a  knight  of  the  dagger, one  of  those  whom  an
exasperated  populace is determined to exterminate.  Now, monsieur, you know
what awaits you. Resolve yourself and at once, for these ladies' sake."
     "But you don't know, Andre-Louis!" Mme.  de  Plougastel's condition was
one of anguish indescribable. She came to him and clutched his arm. "For the
love of Heaven, Andre-Louis, be merciful with him! You must!"
     "But that is what I am being, madame - merciful; more merciful than  he
deserves. And  he knows it. Fate has meddled most oddly  in  our concerns to
bring us together to-night. Almost it is as if Fate were forcing retribution
at last upon him. Yet, for your sakes, I take no advantage  of it,  provided
that he does at once as I have desired him."
     And now  from beyond the table the Marquis spoke icily, and as he spoke
his right hand stirred under the ample folds of his greatcoat.
     "I am glad,  M. Moreau, that you take that tone with me. You relieve me
of the last scruple. You  spoke of Fate just  now, and I must agree with you
that Fate has meddled oddly, though perhaps not to the end that you discern.
For  years now  you  have chosen to stand in my path and  thwart me at every
turn, holding over  me a perpetual menace.  Persistently  you have sought my
life  in  various  ways,  first  indirectly  and  at  last  directly.   Your
intervention in my affairs has ruined my highest hopes -  more  effectively,
perhaps, than you  suppose. Throughout you have been my evil genius. And you
are even one  of the agents of this climax of despair that  has been reached
by me to-night."
     "Wait! Listen!" Madame was panting. She flung away from Andre-Louis, as
if  moved  by  some  premonition  of  what  was coming.  "Gervais!  This  is
horrible!"
     "Horrible, perhaps, but inevitable. Himself he has invited it. I  am  a
man  in despair,  the  fugitive of a lost cause. That  man holds the keys of
escape. And, besides, between him and me there is a reckoning to be paid."
     His hand  came from beneath the coat at  last, and it came armed with a
pistol.
     Mme. de  Plougastel screamed, and flung herself upon  him. On her knees
now, she clung to his arm with all her strength and might.
     Vainly he sought to shake himself free of that desperate clutch.
     "Therese!"  he cried. "Are you mad? Will you destroy me  and  yourself?
This creature has the safe-conducts that mean  our salvation. Himself, he is
nothing."
     >From the background Aline, a breathless,  horror-stricken spectator of
that  scene,  spoke  sharply,  her  quick  mind  pointing  out  the  line of
checkmate.
     "Burn  the  safe-conducts,  Andre-Louis.  Burn them  at once -  in  the
candles there."
     But  Andre-Louis  had taken advantage of that moment of  M. de La  Tour
d'Azyr's impotence to draw a pistol in his turn. "T think it will be  better
to burn his brains instead," he said. "Stand away from him, madame."
     Far from obeying that imperious command, Mme. de Plougastel rose to her
feet to  cover the Marquis with  her body. But she still clung to  his  arm,
clung  to  it with unsuspected strength  that continued to prevent  him from
attempting to use the pistol.
     "Andre! For God's sake, Andre!" she panted hoarsely over her shoulder.
     "Stand away, madame," he commanded her  again, more  sternly, "and  let
this murderer  take his due. He is jeopardizing  all our lives,  and his own
has been forfeit these years. Stand away!" He sprang forward with intent now
to fire at his enemy over her shoulder, and Aline moved too  late  to hinder
him.
     "Andre! Andre!"
     Panting, gasping, haggard of face, on the verge almost of hysteria, the
distracted Countess flung at last  an effective,  a terrible barrier between
the hatred of those men, each intent upon taking the other's life.
     "He  is your  father, Andre!  Gervais,  he is  your son  - our son! The
letter there... on the  table... 0 my God!"  And she  slipped nervelessly to
the ground, and crouched there sobbing at the feet of M. de La Tour d'Azyr.




     Across the body of  that  convulsively sobbing woman, the mother of one
and  the  mistress  of  the other, the  eyes  of those mortal  enemies  met,
invested with a startled, appalled interest that admitted of no words.
     Beyond the  table, as if turned  to stone by this culminating horror of
revelation, stood Aline.
     M.  de La Tour d'Azyr was the first  to stir. Into  his bewildered mind
came the memory of something  that Mme. de Plougastel had  said of  a letter
that was  on  the table. He came forward, unhindered. The announcement made,
Mme. de  Plougastel no longer feared the sequel, and  so she let him  go. He
walked unsteadily past this new-found son of his, and took up the sheet that
lay beside the candlebranch. A long moment he stood reading it, none heeding
him. Aline's eyes were all on Andre-Louis, full of wonder and commiseration,
whilst  Andre-Louis  was staring  down,  in stupefied  fascination,  at  his
mother.
     M. de La Tour d'Azyr  read the letter slowly through. Then very quietly
he  replaced it.  His next concern,  being  the product of an artificial age
sternly schooled in the suppression of emotion, was to compose himself. Then
he stepped back to Mme. de Plougastel's side and stooped to raise her.
     "Therese," he said.
     Obeying, by instinct, the  implied command, she made an effort  to rise
and to control herself in her turn. The Marquis half conducted, half carried
her to the armchair by the table.
     Andre-Louis looked on. Still numbed and bewildered, he made  no attempt
to assist. He saw as in a dream the Marquis bending over Mme. de Plougastel.
As in a dream he heard him ask:
     "How long have you known this, Therese?"
     "I... I have always known  it... always. I confided him to Kercadiou. I
saw him once as a child... Oh, but what of that?"
     "Why was I never told? Why did you deceive me? Why did you tell me that
this child had died a few days after birth? Why, Therese? Why?"
     "I was afraid.  I... I thought it better so - that nobody,  nobody, not
even you, should know. And nobody  has known save Quintin until  last night,
when to induce him to come here and save me he was forced to tell him."
     "But I, Therese?" the Marquis insisted. "It was my right to know."
     "Your right? What could you have done? Acknowledge him? And  then? Ha!"
It was a queer, desperate note of laughter. "There was Plougastel; there was
my  family. And there was you... you, yourself, who had ceased  to care,  in
whom the fear of  discovery had  stifled love. Why should I have  told  you,
then? Why? I should not have told you now had there been any other way to...
to save you both. Once before  I suffered just  such  dreadful apprehensions
when you and he fought in the Bois. I was on my  way to prevent  it when you
met me. I would have divulged the  truth, as a last  resource, to avert that
horror. But mercifully God spared me the necessity then."
     It  had not occurred to any of them  to doubt her statement, incredible
though it  might seem. Had  any done so her present words must have resolved
all doubt, explaining  as  they did  much that to each of her listeners  had
been obscure until this moment.
     M.  de La Tour d'Azyr, overcome; reeled  away to  a chair  and sat down
heavily. Losing command of himself for a moment, he took his haggard face in
his hands.
     Through the windows open to the garden came from the distance the faint
throbbing of  a drum to remind them  of what was happening  around them. But
the sound  went unheeded. To each  it  must  have seemed that here they were
face to face with a horror greater than any that might  be tormenting Paris.
At last Andre-Louis began to speak, his voice level and unutterably cold.
     "M. de La Tour d'Azyr," he said, "I trust  that you'll agree  that this
disclosure, which can hardly be more distasteful and horrible to you than it
is to  me, alters  nothing,  -  since  it effaces  nothing of all  that lies
between us. Or, if it alters anything, it is merely to add something to that
score. And yet... Oh, but what can it avail to  talk!  Here, monsieur,  take
this  safe-conduct which  is made  out for Mme. de Plougastel's footman, and
with it make your escape as  best you can. In  return I will beg of  you the
favour never to allow me to see you or hear of you again."
     "Andre!" His mother swung upon  him  with that cry. And yet  again that
question.  "Have you no heart? What has he ever  done to you that you should
nurse so bitter a hatred of him?"
     "You shall hear, madame. Once,  two years ago in this  very room I told
you of a man  who had  brutally killed my  dearest friend and  debauched the
girl I was to have married. M. de La Tour d'Azyr is that man."
     A moan was her only answer. She covered her face with her hands.
     The Marquis rose slowly to his feet again. He  came slowly forward, his
smouldering eyes scanning his son's face.
     "You  are  hard," he  said grimly. "But  I  recognize  the hardness. It
derives from the blood you bear."
     "Spare me that," said Andre-Louis.
     The  Marquis  inclined  his  head. "I will not mention it  again. But I
desire  that  you  should at least understand me, and you  too, Therese. You
accuse me, sir,  of  murdering  your  dearest friend. I  will admit that the
means  employed  were  perhaps  unworthy. But what other  means were  at  my
command to meet an urgency that every day since then proves to have existed?
M. de Vilmorin was a revolutionary, a man of new ideas that should overthrow
society  and rebuild  it  more  akin to  the desires of  such as himself.  I
belonged to the order that quite as justifiably desired society to remain as
it was. Not only was it better so for me and mine, but  I also contend,  and
you  have yet to  prove me wrong,  that  it is better so for  all the world;
that, indeed, no other conceivable society  is possible. Every human society
must  of  necessity  be  composed  of  several  strata. You may  disturb  it
temporarily into an amorphous  whole  by a revolution such as this; but only
temporarily. Soon out of the  chaos which is all that  you and your kind can
ever  produce,  order must  be  restored or life will  perish; and with  the
restoration of order comes the restoration of the various  strata  necessary
to organized  society. Those that were yesterday at  the top  may in the new
order of  things  find themselves  dispossessed without any benefit  to  the
whole. That  change I  resisted.  The spirit  of it I fought  with  whatever
weapons  were available,  whenever  and  wherever I encountered  it.  M.  de
Vilmorin was an incendiary  of the worst type,  a man of  eloquence full  of
false ideals that misled  poor ignorant men into believing  that the  change
proposed  could  make  the  world  a  better  place  for  them.  You  are an
intelligent man, and I defy you  to answer me from your heart and conscience
that such a thing was true or possible. You know that it is untrue; you know
that it is a pernicious doctrine;  and what made it worse  on the lips of M.
de Vilmorin was  that  he was sincere and eloquent. His  voice  was a danger
that must be  removed - silenced. So much  was necessary in self-defence. In
self-defence I did it. I had no grudge  against M. de Vilmorin. He was a man
of my own class; a gentleman of pleasant ways, amiable, estimable, and able.
     "You  conceive me slaying him  for the very lust  of slaying, like some
beast of the  jungle flinging  itself upon  its  natural prey. That has been
your  error from the first. I did  what I did with the very heaviest heart -
oh, spare me your sneer!  - I do not lie, I have never lied. And  I swear to
you here and now, by  my every hope of Heaven, that  what  I  say is true. I
loathed the thing I did. Yet for my own sake and the sake of my order I must
do it. Ask yourself whether M. de Vilmorin would have hesitated for a moment
if by procuring my death he  could  have  brought the Utopia of his dreams a
moment nearer realization.
     "After that. You determined  that the sweetest  vengeance would  be  to
frustrate my  ends by reviving in yourself the voice that I had silenced, by
yourself carrying forward the  fantastic apostleship of equality that was M.
de Vilmorin's. You lacked the vision that would have shown you that  God did
not create  men equals. Well, you are in case  to-night to judge which of us
was right,  which rong. You see what is happening here in Paris. You see the
foul spectre of  Anarchy  stalking through  a  land  fallen  into confusion.
Probably  you have enough  imagination to conceive  something of  what  must
follow.  And do you deceive  yourself that out of this filth and ruin  there
will  rise up an ideal form of  society? Don't you  understand  that society
must re-order itself presently out of all this?
     "But  why say  more? I must have said enough to make you understand the
only thing that really matters - that I killed M. de Vilmorin as a matter of
duty to my order. And the truth - which though it may offend you should also
convince you - is that to-night I can ook back  on the deed with equanimity,
without a single regret, apart from what lies between you and me.
     "When, kneeling beside  the body of your friend that day  at Gavrillac,
you insulted and  provoked me,  had I been the tiger you conceived me I must
have  killed you too. I am, as you  may know, a man of quick passions. Yet I
curbed  the natural anger  you aroused in  me,  because  I could  forgive an
affront to  myself where I could not overlook  a calculated  attack upon  my
order."
     He paused  a moment.  Andre-Louis stood  rigid listening and wondering.
So,  too, the  others.  Then M.  le  Marquis  resumed,  on  a note  of  less
assurance. "In the matter  of Mlle. Binet I was unfortunate. I  wronged  you
through inadvertence. I had no knowledge of the relations between you."
     Andre-Louis interrupted him 'sharply at last with a question: "Would it
have made a difference if you had?"
     "No," he was answered frankly. "I  have the faults of my kind. I cannot
pretend that any such scruple as you suggest would have weighed with me. But
can you  -  if you are capable of any detached judgment - blame me very much
for that?"
     "All  things  considered, monsieur, I  am  rapidly being forced  to the
conclusion  that it is impossible  to blame  any  man for anything  in  this
world; that we are all of us the sport  of destiny. Consider, monsieur, this
gathering - this family gathering - here to-night, whilst  out there... 0 my
God,  let us make  an  end! Let us  go our  ways and  write  'finis' to this
horrible chapter of our lives."
     M. le La Tour considered him gravely, sadly, in silence for a moment.
     "Perhaps it is best," he said,  at length, in a  small voice. He turned
to Mme. de  Plougastel. "If a wrong I have to admit in my life, a wrong that
I must bitterly  regret, it is the wrong that I have done to you, my dear...
"
     "Not now, Gervais! Not now!" she faltered, interrupting him.
     "Now - for  the first and the last time. I  am going. It  is not likely
that we shall ever meet again - that I shall ever see any of you again - you
who should have been the nearest and dearest to me. We are all, he says, the
sport of destiny. Ah, but not quite. Destiny is an intelligent force, moving
with purpose. In life  we pay  for the evil  that in life we do. That is the
lesson that I have learnt to-night. By an act of betrayal I begot unknown to
me a son  who, whilst as ignorant as myself of our relationship, has come to
be the evil genius of my life,  to cross  and thwart me, and finally to help
to pull me down in ruin. It is just - poetically just. My  full and resigned
acceptance of that fact is the only atonement I can offer you."
     He stooped and took one of madame's hands that lay limply in her lap.
     "Good-bye, Therese!"  His voice broke. He  had reached the  end  of his
iron self-control.
     She rose and clung to him a moment, unashamed before them. The ashes of
that dead romance  had  been deeply  stirred this night, and deep  down some
lingering embers had been found that glowed brightly  now before their final
extinction. Yet she made no attempt to detain him. She understood that their
son had  pointed  out  the only  wise, the  only possible  course,  and  was
thankful that M. de La Tour d'Azyr accepted it.
     "God keep you, Gervais," she murmured. "You will take the safe-conduct,
and... and you will let me know when you are safe?"
     He held her face between his  hands an instant; then very gently kissed
her  and put her from him.  Standing  erect, and  outwardly calm  again,  he
looked across at Andre-Louis who was proffering him a sheet of paper.
     "It is  the  safe-conduct. Take it, monsieur. It is my first  and  last
gift  to you, and  certainly  the last  gift  I  should ever have thought of
making you - the gift of life. In a sense it makes us quits. The irony, sir,
is not mine, but Fate's. Take it, monsieur, and go in peace."
     M. de  La  Tour d'Azyr  took it. His eyes looked hungrily into the lean
face confronting him, so  sternly  set. He thrust the paper  into his bosom,
and then abruptly,  convulsively, held out  his hand. His son's eyes asked a
question.
     "Let there be  peace  between us,  in  God's  name," said  the  Marquis
thickly.
     Pity  stirred  at last  in Andre-Louis. Some of the  sternness left his
face. He sighed. "Good-bye, monsieur," he said.
     "You are hard," his  father told him, speaking  wistfully. "But perhaps
you are in  the  right so to be. In other  circumstances I should have  been
proud to have owned  you as my son. As it is... " He broke off abruptly, and
as abruptly added, "Good-bye."
     He loosed his son's hand and stepped back. They bowed formally  to each
other.  And then M. de La Tour d'Azyr bowed  to Mlle.  de Kercadiou in utter
silence, a bow that contained something of utter renunciation, of finality.
     That done he  turned and walked stiffly out of the  room, and so out of
all their lives. Months later they were to hear if him in the service of the
Emperor of Austria.




     Andre-Louis took the  air next  morning on  the terrace  at Meudon. The
hour was very early, and the newly risen  sun was transmuting  into diamonds
the dewdrops that still lingered on the lawn. Down in the valley, five miles
away, the  morning mists  were rising over  Paris. Yet  early as it was that
house  on the  hill  was astir already, in  a bustle of preparation  for the
departure that was imminent.
     Andre-Louis  had won safely out of Paris last night with his mother and
Aline, and to-day they were to set out all of them for Coblenz.
     To Andre-Louis, sauntering there with hands clasped behind him and head
hunched between his shoulders  -  for life had never been richer in material
for reflection  - came presently Aline through  one of  the glass doors from
the library.
     "You're early astir," she greeted him.
     "Faith,  yes. I haven't been to bed. No," he assured her, in answer  to
her exclamation.  "I spent  the night or what was left of it sitting at  the
window thinking."
     "My poor Andre!"
     "You describe  me  perfectly. I am  very  poor -  for  I know  nothing,
understand nothing. It  is  not a calamitous condition until it is realized.
Then...  "  He threw  out his  arms, and let them  fall again. His face  she
observed was very drawn and haggard.
     She paced with  him  along the old  granite balustrade over  which  the
geraniums flung their mantle of green and scarlet.
     "Have you decided what you are going to do?" she asked him.
     "I have  decided that I have no choice. I,  too, must  emigrate.  I  am
lucky to be able to do so, lucky to have found no one amid yesterday's chaos
in Paris to whom I could  report myself as I foolishly desired, else I might
no longer  be  armed  with these."  He  drew from  his  pocket  the powerful
passport of  the Commission of Twelve, enjoining upon all Frenchmen  to lend
him  such assistance as he  might require, and warning those who might think
of hindering him that they  did so  at their own  peril. He spread it before
her. "With this  I conduct you all safely to the frontier. Over the frontier
M. de Kercadiou and Mme. de Plougastel will have to conduct me; and then  we
shall be quits."
     "Quits?" quoth she. "But you will be unable to return!"
     "You  conceive, of course, my eagerness to do so. My child, in a day or
two there  will be enquiries. It will be asked what has become of me. Things
will transpire. Then the hunt will start. But by then we shall  be well upon
our way, well ahead of any possible pursuit. You don't  imagine that I could
ever give  the  government  any  satisfactory  explanation of  my absence  -
assuming that any government remains to which to explain it?"
     "You  mean...  that you  will sacrifice  your future,  this career upon
which you have embarked?" It took her breath away.
     "In the pass to which things have come there is no career for  me  down
there -  at least no honest one. And I hope you do not think that I could be
dishonest.  It is  the day of the  Dantons,  and the Marats,  the day of the
rabble. The reins of government will be tossed to the  populace, or else the
populace, drunk with the conceit with which the Dantons and  the Marats have
filled it, will seize the reins by force. Chaos must follow, and a despotism
of brutes and apes, a government of the whole by its lowest parts. It cannot
endure, because unless a nation is ruled by its best elements it must wither
and decay."
     "I thought you were a republican," said she.
     "Why, so I am. I am talking like one. I desire a society which  selects
its rulers, from the  best elements of  every class  and denies the right of
any class or  corporation to usurp the government  to itself - whether it be
the nobles, the  clergy, the bourgeoisie, or the proletariat. For government
by any one class is fatal to the  welfare of  the whole. Two  years ago  our
ideal  seemed to  have been realized.  The monopoly of power had been  taken
from the  class that had  held it too long and  too unjustly  by  the hollow
right of heredity. It  had been distributed as evenly as might be throughout
the State, and if  men had  only paused there, all would have been well. But
our impetus carried us too far, the  privileged orders goaded us on by their
very opposition, and the result is the horror of which yesterday  you saw no
more than the beginnings. No, no," he ended. "Careers there may be for venal
place-seekers,  for opportunists;  but none for a man who desires to respect
himself. It is time to go. I make no sacrifice in going."
     "But where will you go? What will you do?"
     "Oh,  something.  Consider  that  in  four  years I have  been  lawyer,
politician,  swordsman, and buffoon - especially the latter. There is always
a  place in  the  world  for Scaramouche. Besides,  do  you know that unlike
Scaramouche I have been oddly provident? I am the  owner of a little farm in
Saxony.  I  think that  agriculture  might  suit  me.  It  is  a  meditative
occupation; and when all is  said, I  am not a man of action. I haven't  the
qualities for the part."
     She looked up  into his face, and there was a wistful smile in her deep
blue eyes.
     "Is there any part for which you have not the qualities, I wonder?"
     "Do you really? Yet you cannot say that I have made a success of any of
those which I have played. I have always ended by running away. I am running
away now  from  a thriving fencing-academy, which is  likely  to become  the
property of Le Duc. That comes of having gone into politics, from which I am
also running away. It is  the one  thing in which I really excel. That, too,
is an attribute of Scaramouche."
     "Why will you always be deriding yourself?" she wondered.
     "Because I  recognize myself for part of this mad world, I suppose. You
wouldn't  have me take it seriously?  I should lose my  reason utterly  if I
did; especially since discovering my parents."
     "Don't, Andre!" she begged him. "You are insincere, you know."
     "Of course I am.  Do you expect sincerity in man when hypocrisy is  the
very keynote of human nature? We are nurtured on it; we are schooled in  it,
we live by it; and we rarely realize it. You have seen it rampant and out of
hand in France during the past four years -  cant and hypocrisy on the  lips
of the revolutionaries, cant and hypocrisy on  the lips  of the upholders of
the  old  regime;  a riot of hypocrisy out of which  in the  end is begotten
chaos. And I who criticize it all on this beautiful God-given morning am the
rankest  and  most  contemptible  hypocrite  of  all.  It  was  this  -  the
realization of  this  truth kept me awake all  night. For  two  years I have
persecuted by every means in my power... M. de La Tour d'Azyr."
     He  paused before uttering  the name, paused  as if hesitating  how  to
speak of him.
     "And in those two years I  have  deceived myself as to the motive  that
was  spurring me. He spoke of  me last night as the evil genius of his life,
and  himself he recognized the justice of this. It may be that he was right,
and because of that it is  probable that even had he not  killed Philippe de
Vilmorin,  things would still have been the same. Indeed, to-day I know that
they  must  have been.  That  is why  I  call  myself  a hypocrite, a  poor,
self-duping hypocrite."
     "But why, Andre?"
     He  stood still  and looked  at  her.  "Because he  sought  you, Aline.
Because  in  that alone  he must have  found me  ranged against him, utterly
intransigeant. Because of that I must have strained every nerve to bring him
down - so as to save you from becoming the prey of your own ambition.
     "I wish to speak of him no more than I must. After this, I  trust never
to speak of him again. Before the lines of our lives crossed, I knew him for
what he  was, I knew the report of him that ran the countryside. Even then I
found him detestable. You heard him allude last  night to the unfortunate La
Binet.  You heard him plead, in extenuation of his fault, his mode  of life,
his rearing.  To that there  is no answer, I  suppose. He  conforms to type.
Enough! But to me, he was  the embodiment  of evil, just as  you have always
been  the  embodiment of good; he was the embodiment of sin, just as you are
the  embodiment of purity. I had enthroned you  so high, Aline, so high, and
yet no  higher than  your place.  Could I,  then,  suffer that you should be
dragged down by ambition,  could I suffer the evil  I detested to mate  with
the good I  loved? What could have  come of it but  your own damnation, as I
told you that day at Gavrillac? Because of that my detestation of him became
a personal, active thing. I resolved to save you at all costs from a fate so
horrible. Had you been able to tell me that you loved him it would have been
different. I should have hoped that in a union sanctified by  love you would
have raised him  to your own pure heights. But that out of considerations of
worldly advancement you should lovelessly consent to mate with him... Oh, it
was vile and hopeless.  And so I fought him - a rat fighting a lion - fought
him relentlessly until I saw that  love  had come to  take in your heart the
place of ambition. Then I desisted."
     "Until you  saw  that love had taken the place of  ambition!" Tears had
been gathering in her eyes whilst he was  speaking. Now amazement eliminated
her emotion. "But when did you see that? When?"
     "I -  I was mistaken. I know it now. Yet, at the time... surely, Aline,
that  morning when you came to beg me not  to keep my engagement with him in
the Bois, you were moved by concern for him?"
     "For him! It was concern for you," she cried, without thinking what she
said.
     But  it did  not  convince  him. "For me?  When you knew - when all the
world knew what I had been doing daily for a week!"
     "Ah, but  he,  he  was  different from  the  others  you  had  met. His
reputation stood  high. My uncle accounted him  invincible; he persuaded  me
that if you met nothing could save you."
     He looked at her frowning.
     "Why this, Aline?"  he asked her with some sternness. "I can understand
that,  having  changed  since then,  you should  now  wish  to disown  those
sentiments. It is a woman's way, I suppose."
     "Oh,  what are you saying, Andre? How wrong  you are! It is the truth I
have told you!"
     "And was it concern for me," he asked her, "that laid you swooning when
you saw him return wounded from the meeting? That was what opened my eyes."
     "Wounded?  I  had  not  seen  his  wound. I  saw  him sitting alive and
apparently unhurt in his caleche, and  I concluded that he had killed you as
he had said he would. What else could I conclude?"
     He  saw light, dazzling, blinding, and it scared  him. He  fell back, a
hand to his brow. "And that was why you fainted?" he asked incredulously.
     She looked at him without answering. As she began  to realize how  much
she  had been swept  into saying by her eagerness  to make  him  realize his
error, a sudden fear came creeping into her eyes.
     He held out both hands to her.
     "Aline! Aline!" His voice broke on the name. "It was I... "
     "0 blind Andre, it was always you - always! Never, never did I think of
him, not even  for loveless marriage, save once for  a little while, when...
when that theatre girl came  into  your  life, and then... "  She broke off,
shrugged, and  turned her head away. "I thought of following ambition, since
there was nothing left to follow."
     He shook  himself. "I  am  dreaming, of course,  or else  I am mad," he
said.
     "Blind, Andre; just blind," she assured him.
     "Blind only where it would have been presumption to have seen."
     "And yet," she  answered him with a flash of  the Aline he had known of
old, "I have never found you lack presumption."
     M.  de Kercadiou,  emerging a  moment later  from  the  library window,
beheld them holding hands and staring each at the other, beatifically, as if
each saw Paradise in the other's face.


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