Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Set of Six by Joseph Conrad

Part 5 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

them from a direct charge. Two carefully aimed shots
rang out in the frosty air, two Cossacks reeled in their
saddles. The rest, not thinking the game good enough,
closed round their wounded comrades and galloped
away out of range. The two officers managed to rejoin
their battalion halted for the night. During that after-
noon they had leaned upon each other more than once,
and towards the end, Colonel D'Hubert, whose long legs
gave him an advantage in walking through soft snow,
peremptorily took the musket of Colonel Feraud from
him and carried it on his shoulder, using his own as a
staff.
On the outskirts of a village half buried in the snow
an old wooden barn burned with a clear and an im-
mense flame. The sacred battalion of skeletons,
muffled in rags, crowded greedily the windward side,
stretching hundreds of numbed, bony hands to the
blaze. Nobody had noted their approach. Before
entering the circle of light playing on the sunken, glassy-
eyed, starved faces, Colonel D'Hubert spoke in his turn:
"Here's your musket, Colonel Feraud. I can walk
better than you."
Colonel Feraud nodded, and pushed on towards the
warmth of the fierce flames. Colonel D'Hubert was
more deliberate, but not the less bent on getting a place
in the front rank. Those they shouldered aside tried to
greet with a faint cheer the reappearance of the two

214 THE DUEL

indomitable companions in activity and endurance.
Those manly qualities had never perhaps received a
higher tribute than this feeble acclamation.
This is the faithful record of speeches exchanged
during the retreat from Moscow by Colonels Feraud and
D'Hubert. Colonel Feraud's taciturnity was the out-
come of concentrated rage. Short, hairy, black faced,
with layers of grime and the thick sprouting of a wiry
beard, a frost-bitten hand wrapped up in filthy rags
carried in a sling, he accused fate of unparalleled
perfidy towards the sublime Man of Destiny. Colonel
D'Hubert, his long moustaches pendent in icicles on
each side of his cracked blue lips, his eyelids inflamed
with the glare of snows, the principal part of his costume
consisting of a sheepskin coat looted with difficulty
from the frozen corpse of a camp follower found in an
abandoned cart, took a more thoughtful view of events.
His regularly handsome features, now reduced to mere
bony lines and fleshless hollows, looked out of a woman's
black velvet hood, over which was rammed forcibly a
cocked hat picked up under the wheels of an empty
army fourgon, which must have contained at one time
some general officer's luggage. The sheepskin coat
being short for a man of his inches ended very high up,
and the skin of his legs, blue with the cold, showed
through the tatters of his nether garments. This
under the circumstances provoked neither jeers nor
pity. No one cared how the next man felt or looked.
Colonel D'Hubert himself, hardened to exposure, suf-
fered mainly in his self-respect from the lamentable in-
decency of his costume. A thoughtless person may
think that with a whole host of inanimate bodies be-
strewing the path of retreat there could not have been
much difficulty in supplying the deficiency. But to
loot a pair of breeches from a frozen corpse is not so easy

THE DUEL 215

as it may appear to a mere theorist. It requires time
and labour. You must remain behind while your
companions march on. Colonel D'Hubert had his
scruples as to falling out. Once he had stepped aside
he could not be sure of ever rejoining his battalion; and
the ghastly intimacy of a wrestling match with the
frozen dead opposing the unyielding rigidity of iron to
your violence was repugnant to the delicacy of his
feelings. Luckily, one day, grubbing in a mound of
snow between the huts of a village in the hope of
finding there a frozen potato or some vegetable garbage
he could put between his long and shaky teeth, Colonel
D'Hubert uncovered a couple of mats of the sort
Russian peasants use to line the sides of their carts with.
These, beaten free of frozen snow, bent about his
elegant person and fastened solidly round his waist,
made a bell-shaped nether garment, a sort of stiff petti-
coat, which rendered Colonel D'Hubert a perfectly
decent, but a much more noticeable figure than before.
Thus accoutred, he continued to retreat, never doubt-
ing of his personal escape, but full of other misgivings.
The early buoyancy of his belief in the future was
destroyed. If the road of glory led through such unfore-
seen passages, he asked himself -- for he was reflective --
whether the guide was altogether trustworthy. It was
a patriotic sadness, not unmingled with some personal
concern, and quite unlike the unreasoning indignation
against men and things nursed by Colonel Feraud.
Recruiting his strength in a little German town for three
weeks, Colonel D'Hubert was surprised to discover
within himself a love of repose. His returning vigour
was strangely pacific in its aspirations. He meditated
silently upon this bizarre change of mood. No doubt
many of his brother officers of field rank went through
the same moral experience. But these were not the

216 THE DUEL

times to talk of it. In one of his letters home Colonel
D'Hubert wrote, "All your plans, my dear Léonie, for
marrying me to the charming girl you have discovered
in your neighbourhood, seem farther off than ever.
Peace is not yet. Europe wants another lesson. It
will be a hard task for us, but it shall be done, because
the Emperor is invincible."
Thus wrote Colonel D 'Hubert from Pomerania to
his married sister Léonie, settled in the south of France.
And so far the sentiments expressed would not have
been disowned by Colonel Feraud, who wrote no letters
to anybody, whose father had been in life an illiterate
blacksmith, who had no sister or brother, and whom no
one desired ardently to pair off for a life of peace with a
charming young girl. But Colonel D 'Hubert's letter
contained also some philosophical generalities upon the
uncertainty of all personal hopes, when bound up
entirely with the prestigious fortune of one incompar-
ably great it is true, yet still remaining but a man in
his greatness. This view would have appeared rank
heresy to Colonel Feraud. Some melancholy fore-
bodings of a military kind, expressed cautiously, would
have been pronounced as nothing short of high treason
by Colonel Feraud. But Léonie, the sister of Colonel
D'Hubert, read them with profound satisfaction, and,
folding the letter thoughtfully, remarked to herself that
"Armand was likely to prove eventually a sensible
fellow." Since her marriage into a Southern family she
had become a convinced believer in the return of the
legitimate king. Hopeful and anxious she offered
prayers night and morning, and burnt candles in
churches for the safety and prosperity of her brother.
She had every reason to suppose that her prayers
were heard. Colonel D'Hubert passed through Lutzen,
Bautzen, and Leipsic losing no limb, and acquiring

THE DUEL 217

additional reputation. Adapting his conduct to the
needs of that desperate time, he had never voiced his
misgivings. He concealed them under a cheerful
courtesy of such pleasant character that people were
inclined to ask themselves with wonder whether Colonel
D'Hubert was aware of any disasters. Not only his
manners, but even his glances remained untroubled.
The steady amenity of his blue eyes disconcerted all
grumblers, and made despair itself pause.
This bearing was remarked favourably by the
Emperor himself; for Colonel D'Hubert, attached now
to the Major-General's staff, came on several occasions
under the imperial eye. But it exasperated the higher
strung nature of Colonel Feraud. Passing through
Magdeburg on service, this last allowed himself, while
seated gloomily at dinner with the Commandant de
Place
, to say of his life-long adversary: "This man does
not love the Emperor," and his words were received by
the other guests in profound silence. Colonel Feraud,
troubled in his conscience at the atrocity of the asper-
sion, felt the need to back it up by a good argument.
"I ought to know him," he cried, adding some oaths.
"One studies one's adversary. I have met him on the
ground half a dozen times, as all the army knows.
What more do you want? If that isn't opportunity
enough for any fool to size up his man, may the devil
take me if I can tell what is." And he looked around
the table, obstinate and sombre.
Later on in Paris, while extremely busy reorganizing
his regiment, Colonel Feraud learned that Colonel
D'Hubert had been made a general. He glared at his
informant incredulously, then folded his arms and
turned away muttering, "Nothing surprises me on the
part of that man."
And aloud he added, speaking over his shoulder,

218 THE DUEL

"You would oblige me greatly by telling General
D'Hubert at the first opportunity that his advancement
saves him for a time from a pretty hot encounter. I
was only waiting for him to turn up here."
The other officer remonstrated.
"Could you think of it, Colonel Feraud, at this time,
when every life should be consecrated to the glory and
safety of France?"
But the strain of unhappiness caused by military re-
verses had spoiled Colonel Feraud's character. Like
many other men, he was rendered wicked by misfortune.
"I cannot consider General D'Hubert's existence of
any account either for the glory or safety of France,"
he snapped viciously. "You don't pretend, perhaps, to
know him better than I do -- I who have met him half a
dozen times on the ground -- do you?"
His interlocutor, a young man, was silenced. Colonel
Feraud walked up and down the room.
"This is not the time to mince matters," he said. "I
can't believe that that man ever loved the Emperor.
He picked up his general's stars under the boots of
Marshal Berthier. Very well. I'll get mine in another
fashion, and then we shall settle this business which has
been dragging on too long."
General D'Hubert, informed indirectly of Colonel
Feraud's attitude, made a gesture as if to put aside an
importunate person. His thoughts were solicited by
graver cares. He had had no time to go and see his
family. His sister, whose royalist hopes were rising
higher every day, though proud of her brother, re-
gretted his recent advancement in a measure, because it
put on him a prominent mark of the usurper's favour,
which later on could have an adverse influence upon his
career. He wrote to her that no one but an inveterate
enemy could say he had got his promotion by favour.

THE DUEL 219

As to his career, he assured her that he looked no farther
forward into the future than the next battlefield.
Beginning the campaign of France in this dogged
spirit, General D'Hubert was wounded on the second
day of the battle under Laon. While being carried off
the field he heard that Colonel Feraud, promoted this
moment to general, had been sent to replace him at the
head of his brigade. He cursed his luck impulsively,
not being able at the first glance to discern all the ad-
vantages of a nasty wound. And yet it was by this
heroic method that Providence was shaping his future.
Travelling slowly south to his sister's country home
under the care of a trusty old servant, General D'Hu-
bert was spared the humiliating contacts and the per-
plexities of conduct which assailed the men of Napole-
onic empire at the moment of its downfall. Lying in
his bed, with the windows of his room open wide to the
sunshine of Provence, he perceived the undisguised
aspect of the blessing conveyed by that jagged frag-
ment of a Prussian shell, which, killing his horse and
ripping open his thigh, saved him from an active con-
flict with his conscience. After the last fourteen years
spent sword in hand in the saddle, and with the sense of
his duty done to the very end, General D'Hubert found
resignation an easy virtue. His sister was delighted
with his reasonableness. "I leave myself altogether in
your hands, my dear Léonie," he had said to her.
He was still laid up when, the credit of his brother-
in-law's family being exerted on his behalf, he received
from the royal government not only the confirmation of
his rank, but the assurance of being retained on the
active list. To this was added an unlimited conva-
lescent leave. The unfavourable opinion entertained
of him in Bonapartist circles, though it rested on noth-
ing more solid than the unsupported pronouncement of

220 THE DUEL

General Feraud, was directly responsible for General
D'Hubert's retention on the active list. As to General
Feraud, his rank was confirmed, too. It was more than
he dared to expect; but Marshal Soult, then Minister
of War to the restored king, was partial to officers who
had served in Spain. Only not even the marshal's
protection could secure for him active employment.
He remained irreconcilable, idle, and sinister. He
sought in obscure restaurants the company of other
half-pay officers who cherished dingy but glorious old
tricolour cockades in their breast-pockets, and buttoned
with the forbidden eagle buttons their shabby uniforms,
declaring themselves too poor to afford the expense of
the prescribed change.
The triumphant return from Elba, an historical fact
as marvellous and incredible as the exploits of some
mythological demi-god, found General D'Hubert still
quite unable to sit a horse. Neither could he walk
very well. These disabilities, which Madame Léonie
accounted most lucky, helped to keep her brother out of
all possible mischief. His frame of mind at that time,
she noted with dismay, became very far from reason-
able. This general officer, still menaced by the loss of
a limb, was discovered one night in the stables of the
château by a groom, who, seeing a light, raised an
alarm of thieves. His crutch was lying half-buried in
the straw of the litter, and the general was hopping on
one leg in a loose box around a snorting horse he was
trying to saddle. Such were the effects of imperial
magic upon a calm temperament and a pondered mind.
Beset in the light of stable lanterns, by the tears, en-
treaties, indignation, remonstrances and reproaches
of his family, he got out of the difficult situation by
fainting away there and then in the arms of his nearest
relatives, and was carried off to bed. Before he got

THE DUEL 221

out of it again, the second reign of Napoleon, the
Hundred Days of feverish agitation and supreme
effort, passed away like a terrifying dream. The
tragic year 1815, begun in the trouble and unrest of
consciences, was ending in vengeful proscriptions.
How General Feraud escaped the clutches of the
Special Commission and the last offices of a firing squad
he never knew himself. It was partly due to the
subordinate position he was assigned during the Hun-
dred Days. The Emperor had never given him active
command, but had kept him busy at the cavalry
depot in Paris, mounting and despatching hastily
drilled troopers into the field. Considering this task
as unworthy of his abilities, he had discharged it with
no offensively noticeable zeal; but for the greater part
he was saved from the excesses of Royalist reaction by
the interference of General D'Hubert.
This last, still on convalescent leave, but able now to
travel, had been despatched by his sister to Paris to
present himself to his legitimate sovereign. As no one
in the capital could possibly know anything of the
episode in the stable he was received there with distinc-
tion. Military to the very bottom of his soul, the pros-
pect of rising in his profession consoled him from
finding himself the butt of Bonapartist malevolence,
which pursued him with a persistence he could not
account for. All the rancour of that embittered and
persecuted party pointed to him as the man who had
never loved the Emperor -- a sort of monster essentially
worse than a mere betrayer.
General D'Hubert shrugged his shoulders without
anger at this ferocious prejudice. Rejected by his old
friends, and mistrusting profoundly the advances of
Royalist society, the young and handsome general (he
was barely forty) adopted a manner of cold, punctilious

222 THE DUEL

courtesy, which at the merest shadow of an intended
slight passed easily into harsh haughtiness. Thus pre-
pared, General D'Hubert went about his affairs in Paris
feeling inwardly very happy with the peculiar up-
lifting happiness of a man very much in love. The
charming girl looked out by his sister had come upon
the scene, and had conquered him in the thorough
manner in which a young girl by merely existing in his
sight can make a man of forty her own. They were go-
ing to be married as soon as General D'Hubert had
obtained his official nomination to a promised com-
mand.
One afternoon, sitting on the terrasse of the Café
Tortoni
, General D'Hubert learned from the con-
versation of two strangers occupying a table near his
own, that General Feraud, included in the batch of
superior officers arrested after the second return of the
king, was in danger of passing before the Special Com-
mission. Living all his spare moments, as is frequently
the case with expectant lovers, a day in advance of
reality, and in a state of bestarred hallucination, it
required nothing less than the name of his perpetual
antagonist pronounced in a loud voice to call the
youngest of Napoleon's generals away from the
mental contemplation of his betrothed. He looked
round. The strangers wore civilian clothes. Lean and
weather-beaten, lolling back in their chairs, they
scowled at people with moody and defiant abstraction
from under their hats pulled low over their eyes. It
was not difficult to recognize them for two of the
compulsorily retired officers of the Old Guard. As
from bravado or carelessness they chose to speak in loud
tones, General D'Hubert, who saw no reason why he
should change his seat, heard every word. They did
not seem to be the personal friends of General Feraud.

THE DUEL 223

His name came up amongst others. Hearing it
repeated, General D'Hubert's tender anticipations of a
domestic future adorned with a woman's grace were
traversed by the harsh regret of his warlike past, of
that one long, intoxicating clash of arms, unique in the
magnitude of its glory and disaster -- the marvellous
work and the special possession of his own generation.
He felt an irrational tenderness towards his old adver-
sary and appreciated emotionally the murderous ab-
surdity their encounter had introduced into his life. It
was like an additional pinch of spice in a hot dish. He
remembered the flavour with sudden melancholy. He
would never taste it again. It was all over. "I fancy it
was being left lying in the garden that had exasperated
him so against me from the first," he thought, indul-
gently.

The two strangers at the next table had fallen silent
after the third mention of General Feraud's name. Pres-
ently the elder of the two, speaking again in a bitter
tone, affirmed that General Feraud's account was set-
tled. And why? Simply because he was not like some
bigwigs who loved only themselves. The Royalists
knew they could never make anything of him. He
loved The Other too well.
The Other was the Man of St. Helena. The two
officers nodded and touched glasses before they drank
to an impossible return. Then the same who had
spoken before, remarked with a sardonic laugh, "His
adversary showed more cleverness."
"What adversary?" asked the younger, as if puzzled.
"Don't you know? They were two hussars. At
each promotion they fought a duel. Haven't you heard
of the duel going on ever since 1801?"
The other had heard of the duel, of course. Now he
understood the allusion. General Baron D'Hubert

224 THE DUEL

would be able now to enjoy his fat king's favour in
peace.
"Much good may it do to him," mumbled the elder.
"They were both brave men. I never saw this D'Hu-
bert -- a sort of intriguing dandy, I am told. But I can
well believe what I've heard Feraud say of him -- that
he never loved the Emperor."
They rose and went away.
General D'Hubert experienced the horror of a som-
nambulist who wakes up from a complacent dream of
activity to find himself walking on a quagmire. A
profound disgust of the ground on which he was making
his way overcame him. Even the image of the charm-
ing girl was swept from his view in the flood of moral
distress. Everything he had ever been or hoped to be
would taste of bitter ignominy unless he could manage
to save General Feraud from the fate which threatened
so many braves. Under the impulse of this almost
morbid need to attend to the safety of his adversary,
General D'Hubert worked so well with hands and feet
(as the French saying is), that in less than twenty-four
hours he found means of obtaining an extraordinary
private audience from the Minister of Police.
General Baron D'Hubert was shown in suddenly
without preliminaries. In the dusk of the Minister's
cabinet, behind the forms of writing-desk, chairs, and
tables, between two bunches of wax candles blazing in
sconces, he beheld a figure in a gorgeous coat posturing
before a tall mirror. The old conventionnel Fouché,
Senator of the Empire, traitor to every man, to every
principle and motive of human conduct. Duke of Otran-
to, and the wily artizan of the second Restoration, was
trying the fit of a court suit in which his young and
accomplished fiancée had declared her intention to have
his portrait painted on porcelain. It was a caprice, a

THE DUEL 223

charming fancy which the first Minister of Police of the
second Restoration was anxious to gratify. For that
man, often compared in wiliness of conduct to a fox,
but whose ethical side could be worthily symbolized
by nothing less emphatic than a skunk, was as much
possessed by his love as General D'Hubert himself.
Startled to be discovered thus by the blunder of a
servant, he met this little vexation with the characteris-
tic impudence which had served his turn so well in the
endless intrigues of his self-seeking career. Without
altering his attitude a hair's-breadth, one leg in a silk
stocking advanced, his head twisted over his left
shoulder, he called out calmly, "This way, General.
Pray approach. Well? I am all attention."
While General D'Hubert, ill at ease as if one of his
own little weaknesses had been exposed, presented his
request as shortly as possible, the Duke of Otranto went
on feeling the fit of his collar, settling the lapels before
the glass, and buckling his back in an effort to behold
the set of the gold embroidered coat-skirts behind. His
still face, his attentive eyes, could not have expressed a
more complete interest in those matters if he had been
alone.
"Exclude from the operations of the Special Court
a certain Feraud, Gabriel Florian, General of brigade
of the promotion of 1814?" he repeated, in a slightly
wondering tone, and then turned away from the glass.
"Why exclude him precisely?"

"I am surprised that your Excellency, so competent
in the evaluation of men of his time, should have
thought worth while to have that name put down on
the list."
"A rabid Bonapartist!"
"So is every grenadier and every trooper of the army,
as your Excellency well knows. And the individuality

226 THE DUEL

of General Feraud can have no more weight than that
of any casual grenadier. He is a man of no mental
grasp, of no capacity whatever. It is inconceivable
that he should ever have any influence."
"He has a well-hung tongue, though," interjected
Fouché.
"Noisy, I admit, but not dangerous."
"I will not dispute with you. I know next to noth-
ing of him. Hardly his name, in fact."
"And yet your Excellency has the presidency of the
Commission charged by the king to point out those who
were to be tried," said General D'Hubert, with an
emphasis which did not miss the minister's ear.
"Yes, General," he said, walking away into the dark
part of the vast room, and throwing himself into a deep
armchair that swallowed him up, all but the soft gleam
of gold embroideries and the pallid patch of the face --
"yes, General. Take this chair there."
General D'Hubert sat down.
"Yes, General," continued the arch-master in the
arts of intrigue and betrayals, whose duplicity, as if at
times intolerable to his self-knowledge, found relief in
bursts of cynical openness. "I did hurry on the forma-
tion of the proscribing Commission, and I took its presi-
dency. And do you know why? Simply from fear
that if I did not take it quickly into my hands my own
name would head the list of the proscribed. Such are
the times in which we live. But I am minister of the
king yet, and I ask you plainly why I should take the
name of this obscure Feraud off the list? You wonder
how his name got there! Is it possible that you should
know men so little? My dear General, at the very
first sitting of the Commission names poured on us like
rain off the roof of the Tuileries. Names! We had our
choice of thousands. How do you know that the name

THE DUEL 227

of this Feraud, whose life or death don't matter to
France, does not keep out some other name?"
The voice out of the armchair stopped. Opposite
General D'Hubert sat still, shadowy and silent. Only
his sabre clinked slightly. The voice in the armchair
began again. "And we must try to satisfy the exigencies
of the Allied Sovereigns, too. The Prince de Talleyrand
told me only yesterday that Nesselrode had informed
him officially of His Majesty the Emperor Alexander's
dissatisfaction at the small number of examples the
Government of the king intends to make -- especially
amongst military men. I tell you this confidentially."
"Upon my word!" broke out General D'Hubert,
speaking through his teeth, "if your Excellency deigns
to favour me with any more confidential information I
don't know what I will do. It's enough to break one's
sword over one's knee, and fling the pieces. . . ."
"What government you imagined yourself to be
serving?" interrupted the minister, sharply.
After a short pause the crestfallen voice of General
D'Hubert answered, "The Government of France."
"That's paying your conscience off with mere words,
General. The truth is that you are serving a govern-
ment of returned exiles, of men who have been without
country for twenty years. Of men also who have just
got over a very bad and humiliating fright. . . .
Have no illusions on that score."
The Duke of Otranto ceased. He had relieved him-
self, and had attained his object of stripping some self-
respect off that man who had inconveniently discovered
him posturing in a gold-embroidered court costume
before a mirror. But they were a hot-headed lot in the
army; it occurred to him that it would be inconvenient
if a well-disposed general officer, received in audience
on the recommendation of one of the Princes, were to

228 THE DUEL

do something rashly scandalous directly after a pri-
vate interview with the minister. In a changed tone
he put a question to the point: "Your relation -- this
Feraud?"
"No. No relation at all."
"Intimate friend?"
"Intimate . . . yes. There is between us an
intimate connection of a nature which makes it a point
of honour with me to try . . ."
The minister rang a bell without waiting for the end
of the phrase. When the servant had gone out, after
bringing in a pair of heavy silver candelabra for the
writing-desk, the Duke of Otranto rose, his breast glis-
tening all over with gold in the strong light, and taking a
piece of paper out of a drawer, held it in his hand osten-
tatiously while he said with persuasive gentleness:
"You must not speak of breaking your sword across
your knee, General. Perhaps you would never get
another. The Emperor will not return this time. . . .
Diable d'homme! There was just a moment, here in
Paris, soon after Waterloo, when he frightened me.
It looked as though he were ready to begin all over
again. Luckily one never does begin all over again,
really. You must not think of breaking your sword,
General."
General D'Hubert, looking on the ground, moved
slightly his hand in a hopeless gesture of renunciation.
The Minister of Police turned his eyes away from him,
and scanned deliberately the paper he had been holding
up all the time.
"There are only twenty general officers selected to
be made an example of. Twenty. A round number.
And let's see, Feraud. . . . Ah, he's there. Ga-
briel Florian. Parfaitement. That's your man. Well,
there will be only nineteen examples made now."

THE DUEL 229

General D'Hubert stood up feeling as though he had
gone through an infectious illness. "I must beg your
Excellency to keep my interference a profound secret.
I attach the greatest importance to his never learn-
ing . . ."
"Who is going to inform him, I should like to know?"
said Fouché, raising his eyes curiously to General
D'Hubert's tense, set face. "Take one of these pens,
and run it through the name yourself. This is the
only list in existence. If you are careful to take up
enough ink no one will be able to tell what was the
name struck out. But, par exemple, I am not responsi-
ble for what Clarke will do with him afterwards. If he
persists in being rabid he will be ordered by the Minister
of War to reside in some provincial town under the
supervision of the police."
A few days later General D'Hubert was saying to his
sister, after the first greetings had been got over: "Ah,
my dear Léonie! it seemed to me I couldn't get away
from Paris quick enough."
"Effect of love," she suggested, with a malicious
smile.
"And horror," added General D'Hubert, with pro-
found seriousness. "I have nearly died there of . . .
of nausea."
His face was contracted with disgust. And as his
sister looked at him attentively he continued, "I have
had to see Fouché. I have had an audience. I have
been in his cabinet. There remains with one, who had
the misfortune to breathe the air of the same room with
that man, a sense of diminished dignity, an uneasy feel-
ing of being not so clean, after all, as one hoped one
was. . . . But you can't understand."
She nodded quickly several times. She understood
very well, on the contrary. She knew her brother

230 THE DUEL

thoroughly, and liked him as he was. Moreover, the
scorn and loathing of mankind were the lot of the
Jacobin Fouché, who, exploiting for his own advantage
every weakness, every virtue, every generous illusion of
mankind, made dupes of his whole generation, and died
obscurely as Duke of Otranto.
"My dear Armand," she said, compassionately, "what
could you want from that man?"
"Nothing less than a life," answered General
D'Hubert. "And I've got it. It had to be done. But
I feel yet as if I could never forgive the necessity to the
man I had to save."
General Feraud, totally unable (as is the case with
most of us) to comprehend what was happening to him,
received the Minister of War's order to proceed at once
to a small town of Central France with feelings whose
natural expression consisted in a fierce rolling of the eye
and savage grinding of the teeth. The passing away of
the state of war, the only condition of society he had
ever known, the horrible view of a world at peace,
frightened him. He went away to his little town firmly
convinced that this could not last. There he was in-
formed of his retirement from the army, and that his
pension (calculated on the scale of a colonel's rank) was
made dependent on the correctness of his conduct, and
on the good reports of the police. No longer in the
army! He felt suddenly strange to the earth, like a
disembodied spirit. It was impossible to exist. But
at first he reacted from sheer incredulity. This could
not be. He waited for thunder, earthquakes, natural
cataclysms; but nothing happened. The leaden weight
of an irremediable idleness descended upon General
Feraud, who having no resources within himself sank
into a state of awe-inspiring hebetude. He haunted the
streets of the little town, gazing before him with lack-

THE DUEL 231

lustre eyes, disregarding the hats raised on his passage;
and people, nudging each other as he went by, whispered,
"That's poor General Feraud. His heart is broken.
Behold how he loved the Emperor."
The other living wreckage of Napoleonic tempest
clustered round General Feraud with infinite respect.
He, himself, imagined his soul to be crushed by grief.
He suffered from quickly succeeding impulses to weep,
to howl, to bite his fists till blood came, to spend days on
his bed with his head thrust under the pillow; but these
arose from sheer ennui, from the anguish of an immense,
indescribable, inconceivable boredom. His mental in-
ability to grasp the hopeless nature of his case as a
whole saved him from suicide. He never even thought
of it once. He thought of nothing. But his appetite
abandoned him, and the difficulty he experienced to
express the overwhelming nature of his feelings (the
most furious swearing could do no justice to it) induced
gradually a habit of silence -- a sort of death to a
southern temperament.
Great, therefore, was the sensation amongst the an-
ciens militaires
frequenting a certain little café full of flies
when one stuffy afternoon "that poor General Feraud"
let out suddenly a volley of formidable curses.
He had been sitting quietly in his own privileged
corner looking through the Paris gazettes with just as
much interest as a condemned man on the eve of exe-
cution could be expected to show in the news of the day.
A cluster of martial, bronzed faces, amongst which there
was one lacking an eye, and another the tip of a nose,
frost-bitten in Russia, surrounded him anxiously.
"What's the matter, General?"
General Feraud sat erect, holding the folded news-
paper at arm's length in order to make out the small
print better. He read to himself, over again, fragments

232 THE DUEL

of the intelligence which had caused, what may be called
his resurrection.
"We are informed that General d' Hubert, till now on
sick leave in the south, is to be called to the command of the
5th Cavalry brigade in . . .
"
He dropped the paper stonily. . . . "Called to
the command" . . . and suddenly gave his fore-
head a mighty slap. "I had almost forgotten him,"
he muttered, in a conscience-stricken tone.
A deep-chested veteran shouted across the café:
"Some new villainy of the Government, General?"
"The villainies of these scoundrels," thundered
General Feraud, "are innumerable. One more, one
less!" . . . He lowered his tone. "But I will set
good order to one of them at least."
He looked all round the faces. "There's a pomaded,
curled staff officer, the darling of some of the marshals
who sold their father for a handful of English gold. He
will find out presently that I am alive yet," he declared,
in a dogmatic tone. "However, this is a private affair.
An old affair of honour. Bah! Our honour does not
matter. Here we are driven off with a split ear like a
lot of cast troop horses -- good only for a knacker's
yard. But it would be like striking a blow for the
Emperor. . . . Messieurs, I shall require the assis-
tance of two of you."
Every man moved forward. General Feraud, deeply
touched by this demonstration, called with visible
emotion upon the one-eyed veteran cuirassier and the
officer of the Chasseurs à Cheval who had left the tip of
his nose in Russia. He excused his choice to the others.
"A cavalry affair this -- you know."
He was answered with a varied chorus of "Parfaite-
ment, mon Général. . . . C'est juste. . . . Par-
bleu, c'est connu
. . . ." Everybody was satisfied.

THE DUEL 233

The three left the café together, followed by cries of
"Bonne chance."
Outside they linked arms, the general in the middle.
The three rusty cocked hats worn en bataille with a
sinister forward slant barred the narrow street nearly
right across. The overheated little town of grey stones
and red tiles was drowsing away its provincial afternoon
under a blue sky. The loud blows of a cooper hooping
a cask reverberated regularly between the houses. The
general dragged his left foot a little in the shade of the
walls.
"This damned winter of 1813 has got into my bones
for good. Never mind. We must take pistols, that's
all. A little lumbago. We must have pistols. He's
game for my bag. My eyes are as keen as ever. You
should have seen me in Russia picking off the dodging
Cossacks with a beastly old infantry musket. I have a
natural gift for firearms."
In this strain General Feraud ran on, holding up his
head, with owlish eyes and rapacious beak. A mere
fighter all his life, a cavalry man, a sabreur, he conceived
war with the utmost simplicity, as, in the main, a massed
lot of personal contests, a sort of gregarious duelling.
And here he had in hand a war of his own. He revived.
The shadow of peace passed away from him like the
shadow of death. It was the marvellous resurrection of
the named Feraud, Gabriel Florian, engagé volontaire
of 1793, General of 1814, buried without ceremony by
means of a service order signed by the War Minister
of the Second Restoration.

IV

No man succeeds in everything he undertakes. In
that sense we are all failures. The great point is not

234 THE DUEL

to fail in ordering and sustaining the effort of our life.
In this matter vanity is what leads us astray. It hurries
us into situations from which we must come out dam-
aged; whereas pride is our safeguard, by the reserve it
imposes on the choice of our endeavour as much as by
the virtue of its sustaining power.
General D'Hubert was proud and reserved. He had
not been damaged by his casual love affairs, successful
or otherwise. In his war-scarred body his heart at forty
remained unscratched. Entering with reserve into his
sister's matrimonial plans, he had felt himself falling
irremediably in love as one falls off a roof. He was too
proud to be frightened. Indeed, the sensation was too
delightful to be alarming.
The inexperience of a man of forty is a much more
serious thing than the inexperience of a youth of twenty,
for it is not helped out by the rashness of hot blood.
The girl was mysterious, as young girls are by the
mere effect of their guarded ingenuity; and to him the
mysteriousness of that young girl appeared exceptional
and fascinating. But there was nothing mysterious
about the arrangements of the match which Madame
Léonie had promoted. There was nothing peculiar,
either. It was a very appropriate match, commending
itself extremely to the young lady's mother (the father
was dead) and tolerable to the young lady's uncle -- an
old émigré lately returned from Germany, and pervad-
ing, cane in hand, a lean ghost of the ancien régime, the
garden walks of the young lady's ancestral home.
General D'Hubert was not the man to be satisfied
merely with the woman and the fortune -- when it came
to the point. His pride (and pride aims always at true
success) would be satisfied with nothing short of love.
But as true pride excludes vanity, he could not imagine
any reason why this mysterious creature with deep and

THE DUEL 236

brilliant eyes of a violet colour should have any feeling
for him warmer than indifference. The young lady (her
name was Adèle) baffled every attempt at a clear under-
standing on that point. It is true that the attempts
were clumsy and made timidly, because by then General
D'Hubert had become acutely aware of the number of
his years, of his wounds, of his many moral imperfec-
tions, of his secret unworthiness -- and had incidentally
learned by experience the meaning of the word funk.
As far as he could make out she seemed to imply that,
with an unbounded confidence in her mother's affection
and sagacity, she felt no unsurmountable dislike for the
person of General D'Hubert; and that this was quite
sufficient for a well-brought-up young lady to begin
married life upon. This view hurt and tormented the
pride of General D'Hubert. And yet he asked himself,
with a sort of sweet despair, what more could he expect?
She had a quiet and luminous forehead. Her violet eyes
laughed while the lines of her lips and chin remained
composed in admirable gravity. All this was set off by
such a glorious mass of fair hair, by a complexion so
marvellous, by such a grace of expression, that General
D'Hubert really never found the opportunity to examine
with sufficient detachment the lofty exigencies of his
pride. In fact, he became shy of that line of inquiry
since it had led once or twice to a crisis of solitary pas-
sion in which it was borne upon him that he loved her
enough to kill her rather than lose her. From such
passages, not unknown to men of forty, he would come
out broken, exhausted, remorseful, a little dismayed.
He derived, however, considerable comfort from the
quietist practice of sitting now and then half the night
by an open window and meditating upon the wonder
of her existence, like a believer lost in the mystic con-
templation of his faith.

236 THE DUEL

It must not be supposed that all these variations of
his inward state were made manifest to the world.
General D 'Hubert found no difficulty in appearing
wreathed in smiles. Because, in fact, he was very
happy. He followed the established rules of his condi-
tion, sending over flowers (from his sister's garden and
hot-houses) early every morning, and a little later fol-
lowing himself to lunch with his intended, her mother,
and her émigré uncle. The middle of the day was spent
in strolling or sitting in the shade. A watchful defer-
ence, trembling on the verge of tenderness was the note
of their intercourse on his side -- with a playful turn of
the phrase concealing the profound trouble of his whole
being caused by her inaccessible nearness. Late in the
afternoon General D 'Hubert walked home between the
fields of vines, sometimes intensely miserable, some-
times supremely happy, sometimes pensively sad; but
always feeling a special intensity of existence, that ela-
tion common to artists, poets, and lovers -- to men
haunted by a great passion, a noble thought, or a new
vision of plastic beauty.
The outward world at that time did not exist with
any special distinctness for General D'Hubert. One
evening, however, crossing a ridge from which he could
see both houses, General D'Hubert became aware of two
figures far down the road. The day had been divine.
The festal decoration of the inflamed sky lent a gentle
glow to the sober tints of the southern land. The grey
rocks, the brown fields, the purple, undulating distances
harmonized in luminous accord, exhaled already the
scents of the evening. The two figures down the road
presented themselves like two rigid and wooden sil-
houettes all black on the ribbon of white dust. General
D'Hubert made out the long, straight, military capotes
buttoned closely right up to the black stocks, the cocked

THE DUEL 237

hats, the lean, carven, brown countenances -- old soldiers
-- vieilles moustaches! The taller of the two had a
black patch over one eye; the other's hard, dry coun-
tenance presented some bizarre, disquieting peculiarity,
which on nearer approach proved to be the absence of
the tip of the nose. Lifting their hands with one move-
ment to salute the slightly lame civilian walking with a
thick stick, they inquired for the house where the Gen-
eral Baron D'Hubert lived, and what was the best way
to get speech with him quietly.
"If you think this quiet enough," said General
D'Hubert, looking round at the vine-fields, framed in
purple lines, and dominated by the nest of grey and
drab walls of a village clustering around the top of a
conical hill, so that the blunt church tower seemed but
the shape of a crowning rock -- "if you think this spot
quiet enough, you can speak to him at once. And I
beg you, comrades, to speak openly, with perfect con-
fidence."
They stepped back at this, and raised again their
hands to their hats with marked ceremoniousness.
Then the one with the chipped nose, speaking for both,
remarked that the matter was confidential enough, and
to be arranged discreetly. Their general quarters were
established in that village over there, where the infernal
clodhoppers -- damn their false, Royalist hearts! -- looked
remarkably cross-eyed at three unassuming military
men. For the present he should only ask for the name
of General D'Hubert's friends.
"What friends?" said the astonished General D'Hu-
bert, completely off the track. "I am staying with my
brother-in-law over there."
"Well, he will do for one," said the chipped veteran.
"We're the friends of General Feraud," interjected
the other, who had kept silent till then, only glowering

238 THE DUEL

with his one eye at the man who had never loved the
Emperor. That was something to look at. For even
the gold-laced Judases who had sold him to the English,
the marshals and princes, had loved him at some time or
other. But this man had never loved the Emperor.
General Feraud had said so distinctly.
General D'Hubert felt an inward blow in his chest.
For an infinitesimal fraction of a second it was as if
the spinning of the earth had become perceptible with
an awful, slight rustle in the eternal stillness of space.
But this noise of blood in his ears passed off at once.
Involuntarily he murmured, "Feraud! I had forgotten
his existence."
"He's existing at present, very uncomfortably, it is
true, in the infamous inn of that nest of savages up
there," said the one-eyed cuirassier, drily. "We arrived
in your parts an hour ago on post horses. He's awaiting
our return with impatience. There is hurry, you know.
The General has broken the ministerial order to obtain
from you the satisfaction he's entitled to by the laws of
honour, and naturally he's anxious to have it all over
before the gendarmerie gets on his scent."
The other elucidated the idea a little further. "Get
back on the quiet -- you understand? Phitt! No one
the wiser. We have broken out, too. Your friend the
king would be glad to cut off our scurvy pittances at the
first chance. It's a risk. But honour before every-
thing."
General D'Hubert had recovered his powers of
speech. "So you come here like this along the road
to invite me to a throat-cutting match with that --
that . . ." A laughing sort of rage took possession
of him. "Ha! ha! ha! ha!"
His fists on his hips, he roared without restraint, while
they stood before him lank and straight, as though they

THE DUEL 239

had been shot up with a snap through a trap door in the
ground. Only four-and-twenty months ago the mas-
ters of Europe, they had already the air of antique
ghosts, they seemed less substantial in their faded coats
than their own narrow shadows falling so black across
the white road: the military and grotesque shadows of
twenty years of war and conquests. They had an out-
landish appearance of two imperturbable bonzes of the
religion of the sword. And General D'Hubert, also one
of the ex-masters of Europe, laughed at these serious
phantoms standing in his way.
Said one, indicating the laughing General with a jerk
of the head: "A merry companion, that."
"There are some of us that haven't smiled from the
day The Other went away," remarked his comrade.
A violent impulse to set upon and beat those unsub-
stantial wraiths to the ground frightened General
D'Hubert. He ceased laughing suddenly. His desire
now was to get rid of them, to get them away from his
sight quickly before he lost control of himself. He
wondered at the fury he felt rising in his breast. But
he had no time to look into that peculiarity just then.
"I understand your wish to be done with me as
quickly as possible. Don't let us waste time in empty
ceremonies. Do you see that wood there at the foot of
that slope? Yes, the wood of pines. Let us meet there
to-morrow at sunrise. I will bring with me my sword
or my pistols, or both if you like."
The seconds of General Feraud looked at each other.
"Pistols, General," said the cuirassier.
"So be it. Au revoir -- to-morrow morning. Till
then let me advise you to keep close if you don't want
the gendarmerie making inquiries about you before it
gets dark. Strangers are rare in this part of the coun-
try."

240 THE DUEL

They saluted in silence. General D'Hubert, turning
his back on their retreating forms, stood still in the
middle of the road for a long time, biting his lower lip
and looking on the ground. Then he began to walk
straight before him, thus retracing his steps till he found
himself before the park gate of his intended's house.
Dusk had fallen. Motionless he stared through the
bars at the front of the house, gleaming clear beyond the
thickets and trees. Footsteps scrunched on the gravel,
and presently a tall stooping shape emerged from the
lateral alley following the inner side of the park wall.
Le Chevalier de Valmassigue, uncle of the adorable
Adèle, ex-brigadier in the army of the Princes, book-
binder in Altona, afterwards shoemaker (with a great
reputation for elegance in the fit of ladies' shoes) in
another small German town, wore silk stockings on his
lean shanks, low shoes with silver buckles, a brocaded
waistcoat. A long-skirted coat, à la française, covered
loosely his thin, bowed back. A small three-cornered
hat rested on a lot of powdered hair, tied in a queue.
"Monsieur le Chevalier," called General D'Hubert,
softly.
"What? You here again, mon ami? Have you
forgotten something?"
"By heavens! that's just it. I have forgotten some-
thing. I am come to tell you of it. No -- outside.
Behind this wall. It's too ghastly a thing to be let in
at all where she lives."
The Chevalier came out at once with that benevolent
resignation some old people display towards the fugue
of youth. Older by a quarter of a century than General
D'Hubert, he looked upon him in the secret of his heart
as a rather troublesome youngster in love. He had
heard his enigmatical words very well, but attached no
undue importance to what a mere man of forty so hard

THE DUEL 241

hit was likely to do or say. The turn of mind of the
generation of Frenchmen grown up during the years of
his exile was almost unintelligible to him. Their senti-
ments appeared to him unduly violent, lacking fineness
and measure, their language needlessly exaggerated.
He joined calmly the General on the road, and they
made a few steps in silence, the General trying to master
his agitation, and get proper control of his voice.
"It is perfectly true; I forgot something. I forgot
till half an hour ago that I had an urgent affair of honour
on my hands. It's incredible, but it is so!"
All was still for a moment. Then in the profound
evening silence of the countryside the clear, aged voice
of the Chevalier was heard trembling slightly: "Mon-
sieur! That's an indignity."
It was his first thought. The girl born during his
exile, the posthumous daughter of his poor brother mur-
dered by a band of Jacobins, had grown since his return
very dear to his old heart, which had been starving on
mere memories of affection for so many years. "It is
an inconceivable thing, I say! A man settles such af-
fairs before he thinks of asking for a young girl's hand.
Why! If you had forgotten for ten days longer, you
would have been married before your memory returned
to you. In my time men did not forget such things --
nor yet what is due to the feelings of an innocent young
woman. If I did not respect them myself, I would
qualify your conduct in a way which you would not
like."
General D'Hubert relieved himself frankly by a
groan. "Don't let that consideration prevent you.
You run no risk of offending her mortally."
But the old man paid no attention to this lover's
nonsense. It's doubtful whether he even heard.
"What is it? "he asked. "What's the nature of . . . ?"

242 THE DUEL

"Call it a youthful folly, Monsieur le Chevalier. An
inconceivable, incredible result of . . ." He stopped
short. "He will never believe the story," he thought.
"He will only think I am taking him for a fool, and get
offended." General D'Hubert spoke up again: "Yes,
originating in youthful folly, it has become . . ."
The Chevalier interrupted: "Well, then it must be
arranged."
"Arranged?"
"Yes, no matter at what cost to your amour propre.
You should have remembered you were engaged. You
forgot that, too, I suppose. And then you go and forget
your quarrel. It's the most hopeless exhibition of levity
I ever heard of."
"Good heavens, Monsieur! You don't imagine I
have been picking up this quarrel last time I was in
Paris, or anything of the sort, do you?"
"Eh! What matters the precise date of your insane
conduct," exclaimed the Chevalier, testily. "The prin-
cipal thing is to arrange it."
Noticing General D'Hubert getting restive and try-
ing to place a word, the old émigré raised his hand, and
added with dignity, "I've been a soldier, too. I would
never dare suggest a doubtful step to the man whose
name my niece is to bear. I tell you that entre galants
hommes
an affair can always be arranged."
"But saperiotte, Monsieur le Chevalier, it's fifteen or
sixteen years ago. I was a lieutenant of hussars then."
The old Chevalier seemed confounded by the vehe-
mently despairing tone of this information. "You
were a lieutenant of hussars sixteen years ago," he mum-
bled in a dazed manner.
"Why, yes! You did not suppose I was made a
general in my cradle like a royal prince."
In the deepening purple twilight of the fields spread

THE DUEL 243

with vine leaves, backed by a low band of sombre crim-
son in the west, the voice of the old ex-officer in the army
of the Princes sounded collected, punctiliously civil.
"Do I dream? Is this a pleasantry? Or am I to
understand that you have been hatching an affair of
honour for sixteen years?"
"It has clung to me for that length of time. That is
my precise meaning. The quarrel itself is not to be
explained easily. We met on the ground several times
during that time, of course."
"What manners! What horrible perversion of man-
liness! Nothing can account for such inhumanity but
the sanguinary madness of the Revolution which has
tainted a whole generation," mused the returned émigré
in a low tone. "Who's your adversary?" he asked a
little louder.
"My adversary? His name is Feraud."
Shadowy in his tricorne and old-fashioned clothes,
like a bowed, thin ghost of the ancien régime, the Cheva-
lier voiced a ghostly memory. "I can remember the
feud about little Sophie Derval, between Monsieur
de Brissac, Captain in the Bodyguards, and d'Anjorrant
(not the pock-marked one, the other -- the Beau
d'Anjorrant, as they called him). They met three times
in eighteen months in a most gallant manner. It was
the fault of that little Sophie, too, who would keep on
playing . . ."
"This is nothing of the kind," interrupted General
D'Hubert. He laughed a little sardonically. "Not at
all so simple," he added. "Nor yet half so reasonable,"
he finished, inaudibly, between his teeth, and ground
them with rage.
After this sound nothing troubled the silence for a
long time, till the Chevalier asked, without animation:
"What is he -- this Feraud?"

244 THE DUEL

"Lieutenant of hussars, too -- I mean, he's a general.
A Gascon. Son of a blacksmith, I believe."
"There! I thought so. That Bonaparte had a
special predilection for the canaille. I don't mean this
for you, D'Hubert. You are one of us, though you have
served this usurper, who . . ."
"Let's leave him out of this," broke in General D'Hu-
bert.
The Chevalier shrugged his peaked shoulders. "Fe-
raud of sorts. Offspring of a blacksmith and some
village troll. See what comes of mixing yourself up
with that sort of people."
"You have made shoes yourself, Chevalier."
"Yes. But I am not the son of a shoemaker. Neither
are you, Monsieur D'Hubert. You and I have some-
thing that your Bonaparte's princes, dukes, and mar-
shals have not, because there's no power on earth that
could give it to them," retorted the émigré, with the
rising animation of a man who has got hold of a hopeful
argument. "Those people don't exist -- all these Fe-
rauds. Feraud! What is Feraud? A va-nu-pieds dis-
guised into a general by a Corsican adventurer mas-
querading as an emperor. There is no earthly reason
for a D'Hubert to s'encanailler by a duel with a person
of that sort. You can make your excuses to him per-
fectly well. And if the manant takes into his head to
decline them, you may simply refuse to meet him."
"You say I may do that?"
"I do. With the clearest conscience."
"Monsieur le Chevalier! To what do you think you
have returned from your emigration?"
This was said in such a startling tone that the old
man raised sharply his bowed head, glimmering silvery
white under the points of the little tricorne. For a time
he made no sound.

THE DUEL 245

"God knows!" he said at last, pointing with a slow
and grave gesture at a tall roadside cross mounted on a
block of stone, and stretching its arms of forged iron all
black against the darkening red band in the sky -- "God
knows! If it were not for this emblem, which I remem-
ber seeing on this spot as a child, I would wonder to
what we who remained faithful to God and our king
have returned. The very voices of the people have
changed."
"Yes, it is a changed France," said General D'Hu-
bert. He seemed to have regained his calm. His tone
was slightly ironic. "Therefore I cannot take your
advice. Besides, how is one to refuse to be bitten by a
dog that means to bite? It's impracticable. Take my
word for it -- Feraud isn't a man to be stayed by apolo-
gies or refusals. But there are other ways. I could,
for instance, send a messenger with a word to the briga-
dier of the gendarmerie in Senlac. He and his two
friends are liable to arrest on my simple order. It
would make some talk in the army, both the organized
and the disbanded -- especially the disbanded. All
canaille! All once upon a time the companions in
arms of Armand D'Hubert. But what need a D'Hu-
bert care what people that don't exist may think? Or,
better still, I might get my brother-in-law to send for
the mayor of the village and give him a hint. No more
would be needed to get the three 'brigands' set upon
with flails and pitchforks and hunted into some nice,
deep, wet ditch -- and nobody the wiser! It has been
done only ten miles from here to three poor devils of the
disbanded Red Lancers of the Guard going to their
homes. What says your conscience, Chevalier? Can
a D'Hubert do that thing to three men who do not
exist?"
A few stars had come out on the blue obscurity,

246 THE DUEL

clear as crystal, of the sky. The dry, thin voice of the
Chevalier spoke harshly: "Why are you telling me all
this?"
The General seized the withered old hand with a
strong grip. "Because I owe you my fullest confidence.
Who could tell Adèle but you? You understand why I
dare not trust my brother-in-law nor yet my own sister.
Chevalier! I have been so near doing these things that
I tremble yet. You don't know how terrible this duel
appears to me. And there's no escape from it."
He murmured after a pause, "It's a fatality,"
dropped the Chevalier's passive hand, and said in his
ordinary conversational voice, "I shall have to go with-
out seconds. If it is my lot to remain on the ground,
you at least will know all that can be made known of
this affair."
The shadowy ghost of the ancien régime seemed to
have become more bowed during the conversation.
"How am I to keep an indifferent face this evening
before these two women?" he groaned. "General! I
find it very difficult to forgive you."
General D 'Hubert made no answer.
"Is your cause good, at least?"
"I am innocent."
This time he seized the Chevalier's ghostly arm
above the elbow, and gave it a mighty squeeze. "I
must kill him!" he hissed, and opening his hand strode
away down the road.
The delicate attentions of his adoring sister had
secured for the General perfect liberty of movement in
the house where he was a guest. He had even his own
entrance through a small door in one corner of the
orangery. Thus he was not exposed that evening to
the necessity of dissembling his agitation before the
calm ignorance of the other inmates. He was glad of

THE DUEL 247

it. It seemed to him that if he had to open his lips he
would break out into horrible and aimless imprecations,
start breaking furniture, smashing china and glass.
From the moment he opened the private door and
while ascending the twenty-eight steps of a winding
staircase, giving access to the corridor on which his room
opened, he went through a horrible and humiliating
scene in which an infuriated madman with blood-shot
eyes and a foaming mouth played inconceivable havoc
with everything inanimate that may be found in a well-
appointed dining-room. When he opened the door of
his apartment the fit was over, and his bodily fatigue
was so great that he had to catch at the backs of the
chairs while crossing the room to reach a low and broad
divan on which he let himself fall heavily. His moral
prostration was still greater. That brutality of feeling
which he had known only when charging the enemy,
sabre in hand, amazed this man of forty, who did not
recognize in it the instinctive fury of his menaced
passion. But in his mental and bodily exhaustion this
passion got cleared, distilled, refined into a sentiment of
melancholy despair at having, perhaps, to die before he
had taught this beautiful girl to love him.
That night, General D'Hubert stretched out on his
back with his hands over his eyes, or lying on his breast
with his face buried in a cushion, made the full pil-
grimage of emotions. Nauseating disgust at the absur-
dity of the situation, doubt of his own fitness to conduct
his existence, and mistrust of his best sentiments (for
what the devil did he want to go to Fouché for?) -- he
knew them all in turn. "I am an idiot, neither more
nor less," he thought -- "A sensitive idiot. Because I
overheard two men talking in a café. . . . I am an
idiot afraid of lies -- whereas in life it is only truth that
matters."

248 THE DUEL

Several times he got up and, walking in his socks in
order not to be heard by anybody downstairs, drank all
the water he could find in the dark. And he tasted the
torments of jealousy, too. She would marry somebody
else. His very soul writhed. The tenacity of that
Feraud, the awful persistence of that imbecile brute,
came to him with the tremendous force of a relentless
destiny. General D'Hubert trembled as he put down
the empty water ewer. "He will have me," he thought.
General D'Hubert was tasting every emotion that life
has to give. He had in his dry mouth the faint sickly
flavour of fear, not the excusable fear before a young
girl's candid and amused glance, but the fear of death
and the honourable man's fear of cowardice.
But if true courage consists in going out to meet an
odious danger from which our body, soul, and heart
recoil together, General D'Hubert had the opportunity
to practise it for the first time in his life. He had
charged exultingly at batteries and at infantry squares,
and ridden with messages through a hail of bullets with-
out thinking anything about it. His business now was
to sneak out unheard, at break of day, to an obscure
and revolting death. General D'Hubert never hesi-
tated. He carried two pistols in a leather bag which he
slung over his shoulder. Before he had crossed the
garden his mouth was dry again. He picked two
oranges. It was only after shutting the gate after him
that he felt a slight faintness.
He staggered on, disregarding it, and after going a
few yards regained the command of his legs. In the
colourless and pellucid dawn the wood of pines de-
tached its columns of trunks and its dark green canopy
very clearly against the rocks of the grey hillside. He
kept his eyes fixed on it steadily, and sucked at an
orange as he walked. That temperamental good-

THE DUEL 249

humoured coolness in the face of danger which had
made him an officer liked by his men and appreciated
by his superiors was gradually asserting itself. It was
like going into battle. Arriving at the edge of the
wood he sat down on a boulder, holding the other orange
in his hand, and reproached himself for coming so
ridiculously early on the ground. Before very long,
however, he heard the swishing of bushes, footsteps on
the hard ground, and the sounds of a disjointed, loud
conversation. A voice somewhere behind him said
boastfully, "He's game for my bag."
He thought to himself, "Here they are. What's this
about game? Are they talking of me?" And becom-
ing aware of the other orange in his hand, he thought
further, "These are very good oranges. Léonie's own
tree. I may just as well eat this orange now instead of
flinging it away."
Emerging from a wilderness of rocks and bushes,
General Feraud and his seconds discovered General
D'Hubert engaged in peeling the orange. They stood
still, waiting till he looked up. Then the seconds
raised their hats, while General Feraud, putting his
hands behind his back, walked aside a little way.
"I am compelled to ask one of you, messieurs, to act
for me. I have brought no friends. Will you?"
The one-eyed cuirassier said judicially, "That cannot
be refused."
The other veteran remarked, "It's awkward all the
same."
"Owing to the state of the people's minds in this
part of the country there was no one I could trust safely
with the object of your presence here," explained
General D'Hubert, urbanely.
They saluted, looked round, and remarked both
together:

250 THE DUEL

"Poor ground."
"It's unfit."
"Why bother about ground, measurements, and so
on? Let us simplify matters. Load the two pairs of
pistols. I will take those of General Feraud, and let
him take mine. Or, better still, let us take a mixed
pair. One of each pair. Then let us go into the wood
and shoot at sight, while you remain outside. We did
not come here for ceremonies, but for war -- war to the
death. Any ground is good enough for that. If I fall,
you must leave me where I lie and clear out. It
wouldn't be healthy for you to be found hanging about
here after that."
It appeared after a short parley that General Feraud
was willing to accept these conditions. While the
seconds were loading the pistols, he could be heard
whistling, and was seen to rub his hands with perfect
contentment. He flung off his coat briskly, and
General D 'Hubert took off his own and folded it care-
fully on a stone.
"Suppose you take your principal to the other side
of the wood and let him enter exactly in ten minutes
from now," suggested General D'Hubert, calmly, but
feeling as if he were giving directions for his own execu-
tion. This, however, was his last moment of weakness.
"Wait. Let us compare watches first."
He pulled out his own. The officer with the chipped
nose went over to borrow the watch of General Feraud.
They bent their heads over them for a time.
"That's it. At four minutes to six by yours. Seven
to by mine."
It was the cuirassier who remained by the side of
General D'Hubert, keeping his one eye fixed immovably
on the white face of the watch he held in the palm of
his hand. He opened his mouth, waiting for the beat

THE DUEL 251

of the last second long before he snapped out the word,
"Avancez."
General D'Hubert moved on, passing from the glaring
sunshine of the Provençal morning into the cool and
aromatic shade of the pines. The ground was clear
between the reddish trunks, whose multitude, leaning
at slightly different angles, confused his eye at first. It
was like going into battle. The commanding quality
of confidence in himself woke up in his breast. He was
all to his affair. The problem was how to kill the
adversary. Nothing short of that would free him
from this imbecile nightmare. "It's no use wounding
that brute," thought General D'Hubert. He was
known as a resourceful officer. His comrades years ago
used also to call him The Strategist. And it was a fact
that he could think in the presence of the enemy.
Whereas Feraud had been always a mere fighter -- but a
dead shot, unluckily.
"I must draw his fire at the greatest possible range,"
said General D'Hubert to himself.
At that moment he saw something white moving far
off between the trees -- the shirt of his adversary. He
stepped out at once between the trunks, exposing him-
self freely; then, quick as lightning, leaped back. It
had been a risky move but it succeeded in its object.
Almost simultaneously with the pop of a shot a small
piece of bark chipped off by the bullet stung his ear
painfully.
General Feraud, with one shot expended, was getting
cautious. Peeping round the tree, General D'Hubert
could not see him at all. This ignorance of the foe's
whereabouts carried with it a sense of insecurity.
General D'Hubert felt himself abominably exposed on
his flank and rear. Again something white fluttered
in his sight. Ha! The enemy was still on his front,

252 THE DUEL

then. He had feared a turning movement. But
apparently General Feraud was not thinking of it.
General D'Hubert saw him pass without special haste
from one tree to another in the straight line of approach.
With great firmness of mind General D'Hubert stayed
his hand. Too far yet. He knew he was no marksman.
His must be a waiting game -- to kill.
Wishing to take advantage of the greater thickness
of the trunk, he sank down to the ground. Extended
at full length, head on to his enemy, he had his person
completely protected. Exposing himself would not
do now, because the other was too near by this time.
A conviction that Feraud would presently do something
rash was like balm to General D'Hubert's soul. But
to keep his chin raised off the ground was irksome,
and not much use either. He peeped round, exposing
a fraction of his head with dread, but really with
little risk. His enemy, as a matter of fact, did not
expect to see anything of him so far down as that.
General D'Hubert caught a fleeting view of General
Feraud shifting trees again with deliberate cau-
tion. "He despises my shooting," he thought, dis-
playing that insight into the mind of his antagonist
which is of such great help in winning battles. He was
confirmed in his tactics of immobility. "If I could only
watch my rear as well as my front!" he thought anx-
iously, longing for the impossible.
It required some force of character to lay his pistols
down; but, on a sudden impulse, General D'Hubert did
this very gently -- one on each side of him. In the army
he had been looked upon as a bit of a dandy because he
used to shave and put on a clean shirt on the days of
battle. As a matter of fact, he had always been very
careful of his personal appearance. In a man of nearly
forty, in love with a young and charming girl, this

THE DUEL 253

praiseworthy self-respect may run to such little weak-
nesses as, for instance, being provided with an elegant
little leather folding-case containing a small ivory
comb, and fitted with a piece of looking-glass on
the outside. General D'Hubert, his hands being free,
felt in his breeches' pockets for that implement of
innocent vanity excusable in the possessor of long, silky
moustaches. He drew it out, and then with the ut-
most coolness and promptitude turned himself over on
his back. In this new attitude, his head a little raised,
holding the little looking-glass just clear of his tree, he
squinted into it with his left eye, while the right kept a
direct watch on the rear of his position. Thus was
proved Napoleon's saying, that "for a French soldier,
the word impossible does not exist." He had the right
tree nearly filling the field of his little mirror.
"If he moves from behind it," he reflected with
satisfaction, "I am bound to see his legs. But in any
case he can't come upon me unawares."
And sure enough he saw the boots of General Feraud
flash in and out, eclipsing for an instant everything else
reflected in the little mirror. He shifted its position
accordingly. But having to form his judgment of the
change from that indirect view he did not realize that
now his feet and a portion of his legs were in plain sight
of General Feraud.
General Feraud had been getting gradually impressed
by the amazing cleverness with which his enemy was
keeping cover. He had spotted the right tree with
bloodthirsty precision. He was absolutely certain of it.
And yet he had not been able to glimpse as much as
the tip of an ear. As he had been looking for it at the
height of about five feet ten inches from the ground it
was no great wonder -- but it seemed very wonderful to
General Feraud.

254 THE DUEL

The first view of these feet and legs determined a rush
of blood to his head. He literally staggered behind
his tree, and had to steady himself against it with his
hand. The other was lying on the ground, then! On
the ground! Perfectly still, too! Exposed! What could
it mean? . . . The notion that he had knocked
over his adversary at the first shot entered then
General Feraud's head. Once there it grew with
every second of attentive gazing, overshadowing every
other supposition -- irresistible, triumphant, ferocious.
"What an ass I was to think I could have missed
him," he muttered to himself. "He was exposed en
plein
-- the fool! -- for quite a couple of seconds."
General Feraud gazed at the motionless limbs, the
last vestiges of surprise fading before an unbounded
admiration of his own deadly skill with the pistol.
"Turned up his toes! By the god of war, that was
a shot!" he exulted mentally. "Got it through the
head, no doubt, just where I aimed, staggered behind
that tree, rolled over on his back, and died."
And he stared! He stared, forgetting to move,
almost awed, almost sorry. But for nothing in the
world would he have had it undone. Such a shot! --
such a shot! Rolled over on his back and died!
For it was this helpless position, lying on the back,
that shouted its direct evidence at General Feraud!
It never occurred to him that it might have been
deliberately assumed by a living man. It was in-
conceivable. It was beyond the range of sane sup-
position. There was no possibility to guess the reason
for it. And it must be said, too, that General D'Hu-
bert's turned-up feet looked thoroughly dead. General
Feraud expanded his lungs for a stentorian shout to his
seconds, but, from what he felt to be an excessive
scrupulousness, refrained for a while.

THE DUEL 255

"I will just go and see first whether he breathes
yet," he mumbled to himself, leaving carelessly the
shelter of his tree. This move was immediately per-
ceived by the resourceful General D'Hubert. He
concluded it to be another shift, but when he lost the
boots out of the field of the mirror he became uneasy.
General Feraud had only stepped a little out of the line,
but his adversary could not possibly have supposed him
walking up with perfect unconcern. General D'Hubert,
beginning to wonder at what had become of the other,
was taken unawares so completely that the first warning
of danger consisted in the long, early-morning shadow
of his enemy falling aslant on his outstretched legs.
He had not even heard a footfall on the soft ground
between the trees!
It was too much even for his coolness. He jumped
up thoughtlessly, leaving the pistols on the ground. The
irresistible instinct of an average man (unless totally
paralyzed by discomfiture) would have been to stoop
for his weapons, exposing himself to the risk of being
shot down in that position. Instinct, of course, is irre-
flective. It is its very definition. But it may be an
inquiry worth pursuing whether in reflective mankind
the mechanical promptings of instinct are not affected
by the customary mode of thought. In his young days,
Armand D'Hubert, the reflective, promising officer, had
emitted the opinion that in warfare one should "never
cast back on the lines of a mistake." This idea, de-
fended and developed in many discussions, had settled
into one of the stock notions of his brain, had become a
part of his mental individuality. Whether it had gone
so inconceivably deep as to affect the dictates of his
instinct, or simply because, as he himself declared after-
wards, he was "too scared to remember the confounded
pistols," the fact is that General D'Hubert never at-

256 THE DUEL

tempted to stoop for them. Instead of going back on
his mistake, he seized the rough trunk with both hands,
and swung himself behind it with such impetuosity
that, going right round in the very flash and report of
the pistol-shot, he reappeared on the other side of the
tree face to face with General Feraud. This last, com-
pletely unstrung by such a show of agility on the part
of a dead man, was trembling yet. A very faint mist of
smoke hung before his face which had an extraordinary
aspect, as if the lower jaw had come unhinged.
"Not missed!" he croaked, hoarsely, from the depths
of a dry throat.
This sinister sound loosened the spell that had fallen
on General D'Hubert's senses. "Yes, missed -- à bout
portant
," he heard himself saying, almost before he had
recovered the full command of his faculties. The re-
vulsion of feeling was accompanied by a gust of homi-
cidal fury, resuming in its violence the accumulated
resentment of a lifetime. For years General D 'Hubert
had been exasperated and humiliated by an atrocious
absurdity imposed upon him by this man's savage
caprice. Besides, General D'Hubert had been in this
last instance too unwilling to confront death for the
reaction of his anguish not to take the shape of a desire
to kill. "And I have my two shots to fire yet," he
added, pitilessly.
General Feraud snapped-to his teeth, and his face
assumed an irate, undaunted expression. "Go on!" he
said, grimly.
These would have been his last words if General
D'Hubert had been holding the pistols in his hands.
But the pistols were lying on the ground at the foot
of a pine. General D'Hubert had the second of
leisure necessary to remember that he had dreaded
death not as a man, but as a lover; not as a danger, but

THE DUEL 257

as a rival; not as a foe to life, but as an obstacle to
marriage. And behold! there was the rival defeated! --
utterly defeated, crushed, done for!
He picked up the weapons mechanically, and, instead
of firing them into General Feraud's breast, he gave
expression to the thoughts uppermost in his mind, "You
will fight no more duels now."
His tone of leisurely, ineffable satisfaction was too
much for General Feraud's stoicism. "Don't dawdle,
then, damn you for a cold-blooded staff-coxcomb!" he
roared out, suddenly, out of an impassive face held erect
on a rigidly still body.
General D'Hubert uncocked the pistols carefully.
This proceeding was observed with mixed feelings by
the other general. "You missed me twice," the victor
said, coolly, shifting both pistols to one hand; "the last
time within a foot or so. By every rule of single com-
bat your life belongs to me. That does not mean that I
want to take it now."
"I have no use for your forbearance," muttered
General Feraud, gloomily.
"Allow me to point out that this is no concern of
mine," said General D'Hubert, whose every word was
dictated by a consummate delicacy of feeling. In anger
he could have killed that man, but in cold blood he
recoiled from humiliating by a show of generosity this
unreasonable being -- a fellow-soldier of the Grande
Armée
, a companion in the wonders and terrors of the
great military epic. "You don't set up the pretension of
dictating to me what I am to do with what's my own."
General Feraud looked startled, and the other con-
tinued, "You've forced me on a point of honour to keep
my life at your disposal, as it were, for fifteen years.
Very well. Now that the matter is decided to my ad-
vantage, I am going to do what I like with your life

258 THE DUEL

on the same principle. You shall keep it at my dis-
posal as long as I choose. Neither more nor less. You
are on your honour till I say the word."
"I am! But, sacrebleu! This is an absurd position
for a General of the Empire to be placed in!" cried
General Feraud, in accents of profound and dismayed
conviction. "It amounts to sitting all the rest of my
life with a loaded pistol in a drawer waiting for your
word. It's -- it's idiotic; I shall be an object of -- of --
derision."
"Absurd? -- idiotic? Do you think so?" queried
General D'Hubert with sly gravity. "Perhaps. But I
don't see how that can be helped. However, I am not
likely to talk at large of this adventure. Nobody need
ever know anything about it. Just as no one to this day,
I believe, knows the origin of our quarrel. . . .
Not a word more," he added, hastily. "I can't really
discuss this question with a man who, as far as I am
concerned, does not exist."
When the two duellists came out into the open, Gen-
eral Feraud walking a little behind, and rather with the
air of walking in a trance, the two seconds hurried
towards them, each from his station at the edge of the
wood. General D'Hubert addressed them, speaking
loud and distinctly, "Messieurs, I make it a point of
declaring to you solemnly, in the presence of General
Feraud, that our difference is at last settled for good.
You may inform all the world of that fact."
"A reconciliation, after all!" they exclaimed to-
gether.
"Reconciliation? Not that exactly. It is some-
thing much more binding. Is it not so, General?"
General Feraud only lowered his head in sign of
assent. The two veterans looked at each other. Later
in the day, when they found themselves alone out of

THE DUEL 259

their moody friend's earshot, the cuirassier remarked
suddenly, "Generally speaking, I can see with my one
eye as far as most people; but this beats me. He won't
say anything."
"In this affair of honour I understand there has been
from first to last always something that no one in the
army could quite make out," declared the chasseur with
the imperfect nose. "In mystery it began, in mystery
it went on, in mystery it is to end, apparently."
General D'Hubert walked home with long, hasty
strides, by no means uplifted by a sense of triumph.
He had conquered, yet it did not seem to him that
he had gained very much by his conquest. The
night before he had grudged the risk of his life which
appeared to him magnificent, worthy of preservation as
an opportunity to win a girl's love. He had known
moments when, by a marvellous illusion, this love
seemed to be already his, and his threatened life a still
more magnificent opportunity of devotion. Now that
his life was safe it had suddenly lost its special mag-
nificence. It had acquired instead a specially alarming
aspect as a snare for the exposure of unworthiness. As
to the marvellous illusion of conquered love that had
visited him for a moment in the agitated watches of the
night, which might have been his last on earth, he com-
prehended now its true nature. It had been merely
a paroxysm of delirious conceit. Thus to this man,
sobered by the victorious issue of a duel, life appeared
robbed of its charm, simply because it was no longer
menaced.
Approaching the house from the back, through the
orchard and the kitchen garden, he could not notice the
agitation which reigned in front. He never met a single
soul. Only while walking softly along the corridor, he
became aware that the house was awake and more

260 THE DUEL

noisy than usual. Names of servants were being called
out down below in a confused noise of coming and going.
With some concern he noticed that the door of his own
room stood ajar, though the shutters had not been
opened yet. He had hoped that his early excursion
would have passed unperceived. He expected to find
some servant just gone in; but the sunshine filtering
through the usual cracks enabled him to see lying on
the low divan something bulky, which had the appear-
ance of two women clasped in each other's arms. Tear-
ful and desolate murmurs issued mysteriously from that
appearance. General D'Hubert pulled open the near-
est pair of shutters violently. One of the women then
jumped up. It was his sister. She stood for a moment
with her hair hanging down and her arms raised straight
up above her head, and then flung herself with a stifled
cry into his arms. He returned her embrace, trying at
the same time to disengage himself from it. The other
woman had not risen. She seemed, on the contrary, to
cling closer to the divan, hiding her face in the cushions.
Her hair was also loose; it was admirably fair. Gen-
eral D'Hubert recognized it with staggering emotion.
Mademoiselle de Valmassigue! Adèle! In distress!
He became greatly alarmed, and got rid of his sis-
ter's hug definitely. Madame Léonie then extended
her shapely bare arm out of her peignoir, pointing
dramatically at the divan. "This poor, terrified child
has rushed here from home, on foot, two miles -- running
all the way."
"What on earth has happened?" asked General
D'Hubert in a low, agitated voice.
But Madame Léonie was speaking loudly. "She
rang the great bell at the gate and roused all the house-
hold -- we were all asleep yet. You may imagine what
a terrible shock. . . . Adèle, my dear child, sit up."

THE DUEL 261

General D'Hubert's expression was not that of a
man who "imagines" with facility. He did, however,
fish out of the chaos of surmises the notion that his
prospective mother-in-law had died suddenly, but only
to dismiss it at once. He could not conceive the nature
of the event or the catastrophe which would induce
Mademoiselle de Valmassigue, living in a house full of
servants, to bring the news over the fields herself, two
miles, running all the way.
"But why are you in this room?" he whispered, full
of awe.
"Of course, I ran up to see, and this child . . . I
did not notice it . . . she followed me. It's that
absurd Chevalier," went on Madame Léonie, looking
towards the divan. . . . "Her hair is all come down.
You may imagine she did not stop to call her maid to
dress it before she started. . . Adèle, my dear, sit
up. . . . He blurted it all out to her at half-past five
in the morning. She woke up early and opened her
shutters to breathe the fresh air, and saw him sitting col-
lapsed on a garden bench at the end of the great alley.
At that hour -- you may imagine! And the evening
before he had declared himself indisposed. She hurried
on some clothes and flew down to him. One would be
anxious for less. He loves her, but not very intelli-
gently. He had been up all night, fully dressed, the
poor old man, perfectly exhausted. He wasn't in a
state to invent a plausible story. . . . What a con-
fidant you chose there! My husband was furious. He
said, 'We can't interfere now.' So we sat down to wait.
It was awful. And this poor child running with her
hair loose over here publicly! She has been seen by
some people in the fields. She has roused the whole
household, too. It's awkward for her. Luckily you
are to be married next week. . . . Adèle, sit up. He

263 THE DUEL

has come home on his own legs. . . . We expected
to see you coming on a stretcher, perhaps -- what do
I know? Go and see if the carriage is ready. I must
take this child home at once. It isn't proper for her to
stay here a minute longer."
General D'Hubert did not move. It was as though
he had heard nothing. Madame Léonie changed her
mind. "I will go and see myself," she cried. "I want
also my cloak. -- Adèle --" she began, but did not add
"sit up." She went out saying, in a very loud and
cheerful tone: "I leave the door open."
General D'Hubert made a movement towards the
divan, but then Adèle sat up, and that checked him
dead. He thought, "I haven't washed this morning. I
must look like an old tramp. There's earth on the back
of my coat and pine-needles in my hair." It occurred
to him that the situation required a good deal of circum-
spection on his part.
"I am greatly concerned, mademoiselle," he began,
vaguely, and abandoned that line. She was sitting up
on the divan with her cheeks unusually pink and her
hair, brilliantly fair, falling all over her shoulders --
which was a very novel sight to the general. He walked
away up the room, and looking out of the window for
safety said, "I fear you must think I behaved like a
madman," in accents of sincere despair. Then he spun
round, and noticed that she had followed him with
her eyes. They were not cast down on meeting his
glance. And the expression of her face was novel to
him also. It was, one might have said, reversed.
Those eyes looked at him with grave thoughtful-
ness, while the exquisite lines of her mouth seemed
to suggest a restrained smile. This change made her
transcendental beauty much less mysterious, much more
accessible to a man's comprehension. An amazing ease

THE DUEL 263

of mind came to the general -- and even some ease of
manner. He walked down the room with as much
pleasurable excitement as he would have found in walk-
ing up to a battery vomiting death, fire, and smoke;
then stood looking down with smiling eyes at the girl
whose marriage with him (next week) had been so
carefully arranged by the wise, the good, the admirable
Léonie.
"Ah! mademoiselle," he said, in a tone of courtly
regret, "if only I could be certain that you did not
come here this morning, two miles, running all the way,
merely from affection for your mother!"
He waited for an answer imperturbable but inwardly
elated. It came in a demure murmur, eyelashes low-
ered with fascinating effect. "You must not be mé-
chant
as well as mad."
And then General D'Hubert made an aggressive
movement towards the divan which nothing could
check. That piece of furniture was not exactly in the
line of the open door. But Madame Léonie, coming
back wrapped up in a light cloak and carrying a lace
shawl on her arm for Adèle to hide her incriminating
hair under, had a swift impression of her brother getting
up from his knees.
"Come along, my dear child," she cried from the
doorway.
The general, now himself again in the fullest sense,
showed the readiness of a resourceful cavalry officer and
the peremptoriness of a leader of men. "You don't
expect her to walk to the carriage," he said, indignantly.
"She isn't fit. I shall carry her downstairs."
This he did slowly, followed by his awed and re-
spectful sister; but he rushed back like a whirlwind to
wash off all the signs of the night of anguish and the
morning of war, and to put on the festive garments of

264 THE DUEL

a conqueror before hurrying over to the other house.
Had it not been for that, General D 'Hubert felt capable
of mounting a horse and pursuing his late adversary in
order simply to embrace him from excess of happiness.
"I owe it all to this stupid brute," he thought. "He
has made plain in a morning what might have taken me
years to find out -- for I am a timid fool. No self-confi-
dence whatever. Perfect coward. And the Chevalier!
Delightful old man!" General D'Hubert longed to
embrace him also.
The Chevalier was in bed. For several days he
was very unwell. The men of the Empire and the
post-revolution young ladies were too much for him.
He got up the day before the wedding, and, being curi-
ous by nature, took his niece aside for a quiet talk. He
advised her to find out from her husband the true story

Book of the day: