duellists went forward, and set about the preparations. Principals and seconds threw off cloak and doublet, and Sanguinetti, Courthon, and Gaubert removed their heavy boots, whilst Garnache did no more than detach the spurs from his. Sanguinetti, observing this, drew the attention of the others to it, and an altercation arose. It was Gaubert who came to beg Garnache that he should follow the example they had set him in that respect. But Garnache shook his head. "The turf is sodden." "But it is precisely on that account, sir," protested Gaubert very earnestly. "In your boots you will be unable to stand firm; you will run the risk of slipping every time that you break ground." "I venture to think, sir, that that is my affair," said Garnache stiffly. "But it is not," the other cried. "If you fight in your boots, we must all do the same, and for myself - well, I have not come here to commit suicide." "Look you, Monsieur Gaubert," said Garnache quietly, "your opponent will be Monsieur Courthon, and since he is in his stockinged feet, there is no reason why you yourself should not remain so too. As for me, I retain my boots, and Monsieur Sanguinetti may have all the advantage that may give him. Since I am content, in Heaven's name let the fight go forward. I am in haste." Gaubert bowed in submission; but Sanguinetti, who had overheard, turned with an oath. "By God, no!" said he. "I need no such advantage, sir. Courthon, be so good as to help me on with my boots again." And there was a fresh delay whilst he resumed them. At last, however, the four men came together, and proceeded to the measurement of swords. It was found that Sanguinetti's was two inches longer than any of the other three. "It is the usual length in Italy," said Sanguinetti with a shrug. "If monsieur had realized that he was no longer in Italy, we might perhaps have been spared this very foolish business," answered Garnache testily. "But what are we to do?" cried the perplexed Gaubert. "Fight," said Garnache impatiently. "Is there never to be an end to these preliminaries?" "But I cannot permit you to oppose yourself to a sword two inches longer than your own," cried Gaubert, almost in a temper. "Why not, if I am satisfied?" asked Garnache. "Mine is the longer reach; thus matters will stand equal." "Equal?" roared Gaubert. "Your longer reach is an advantage that you had from God, his longer sword is one he had from an armourer. Is that equality?" "He may have my sword, and I'll take his," cut in the Italian, also showing impatience. "I too am in haste." "In haste to die, then," snapped Gaubert. "Monsieur, this is not seemly," Courthon reproved him. "You shall teach me manners when we engage," snapped the hawk-faced gentleman. "Sirs, sirs," Garnache implored them, "are we to waste the day in words? Monsieur Gaubert, there are several gentlemen yonder wearing swords; I make no doubt that you will find one whose blade is of the same length as your own, sufficiently obliging to lend it to Monsieur Sanguinetti." "That is an office that my friend can do for me," interposed Sanguinetti, and thereupon Courthon departed, to return presently with a borrowed weapon of the proper length. At last it seemed that they might proceed with the business upon which they were come; but Garnache was wrong in so supposing. A discussion now arose between Gaubert and Courthon as to the choice of spot. The turf was drenched and slippery, and for all that they moved from place to place testing the ground, their principals following, nowhere could they find the conditions sufficiently improved to decide upon engaging. To Garnache the utility of this was apparent from the first. If these gentlemen had thought to avoid slippery ground, they should have elected to appoint the meeting elsewhere. But having chosen the. Champs aux Capuchins, it was idle to expect that one stretch of turf would prove firmer than another. Wearied at last by this delay, he gave expression to his thoughts. "You are quite right, monsieur," said Courthon. "But your second is over-fastidious. It would simplify matters so much if you would remove your boots." "Look you, sirs," said Garnache, taking a firm stand, "I will engage in my boots and on this very spot or not at all. I have told you that I am in haste. As for the slipperiness of the ground, my opponent will run no greater risks than I. I am not the only impatient one. The spectators are beginning to jeer at us. We shall have every scullion in Grenoble presently saying that we are afraid of one another. Besides which, sirs, I think I am taking cold." "I am quite of monsieur's mind, myself," drawled Sanguinetti. "You hear, sir," exclaimed Courthon, turning to Gaubert. "You can scarce persist in finding objections now." "Why, since all are satisfied, so be it," said Gaubert, with a shrug. "I sought to do the best for my principal. As it is, I wash my hands of all responsibility, and by all means let us engage, sirs." They disposed themselves accordingly, Gaubert engaging Courthon, on Garnache's right hand, and Garnache himself falling on guard to receive the attack of Sanguinetti. The jeers and murmurs that had been rising from the ever-growing crowd that swarmed about the outskirts of the place fell silent as the clatter of meeting swords rang out at last. And then, scarce were they engaged when a voice arose, calling angrily: "Hold, Sanguinetti! Wait!" A big, broad-shouldered man, in a suit of homespun and a featherless hat, thrust his way rudely trough the crowd and broke into the space within the belt of trees. The combatants had fallen apart at this commanding cry, and the newcomer now dashed forward, flushed and out of breath as if with running. "Vertudieu! Sanguinetti," he swore, and his manner was half-angry, half-bantering; "do you call this friendship?" "My dear Francois" returned the foreigner, "you arrive most inopportunely." "And is that all the greeting you have for me?" Looking more closely, Garnache thought that he recognized in him one of Sanguinetti's companions of yesternight. "But do you not see that I am engaged?" "Ay; and that is my grievance that you should be engaged upon such an affair, and that I should have no share in it. It is to treat me like a lackey, and have the right to feel offended. Enfin! It seems I an not come too late." Garnache cut in. He saw the drift of the fellow's intentions, and he was not minded to submit to fresh delays; already more than half an hour was sped since he had left the Sucking Calf. He put it plainly to them that more than enough delay had there been already and he begged the newcomer to stand aside and allow them to terminate the business on which they were met. But Monsieur Francois - as Sanguinetti had called him - would not hear of it. He proved, indeed, a very testy fellow, and he had, moreover, the support of the others, including even Monsieur Gaubert. "Let me implore you not to spoil sport, sir," the latter begged Garnache. "I have a friend at the inn who would never forgive me if I permitted him to miss such a morning's diversion as this gentleman is willing to afford him. Suffer me to go for him." "Look you, sir," answered Garnache sharply, "however you may view this meeting, it is not with me an affair of jest or sport. I am in a quarrel that has been forced upon me, and - " "Surely not, sir," Courthon interrupted sweetly. "You forget that you rolled Monsieur Sanguinetti in the mud. That is hardly to have a quarrel forced upon you." Garnache bit his lip to the blood in his vexation. "However the quarrel may have originated," said Francois, with a great laugh, "I swear that it goes not forward until I am accommodated, too." "You had better accede, monsieur," murmured Gaubert. "I shall not be gone five minutes, and it will save time in the end." "Oh, very well," cried poor Garnache in his despair. "Anything to save time; anything! In God's name fetch your friend, and I hope you and he and every man here will get his fill of fighting for once." Gaubert departed on his errand, and there were fresh murmurs in the mob until the reason of his going was understood. Five minutes sped; ten minutes, and yet he returned not. Grouped together were Sanguinetti and his two friends, in easy, whispered talk. At a little distance from them, Garnache paced up and down to keep himself warm. He had thrown his cloak over his shoulders again, and with sword tucked under arm and head thrust forward, he stamped backwards and forwards, the very picture of ill-humour. Fifteen minutes passed; twelve o'clock boomed from the Church of Saint Francois d'Assisi and still Monsieur Gaubert returned not. Garnache stood still a moment, in angry thought. This must not go on. There must be an end, and at once. The tastes and inclinations of brawlers were no concern of his. He had business of State - however unworthy - to dispatch. He turned, intending to demand of Monsieur Sanguinetti that they should engage at once and be done, when suddenly a fellow roughly dressed, with dirty face and a shock head of fair hair, pushed his way through the throng and advanced towards Monsieur Sanguinetti and his friends. Garnache checked in his movement to look at the fellow, for he recognized in him the ostler of the Auberge de France: He spoke at that moment, and Garnache overheard the words he uttered. "Monsieur Sanguinetti," said he, addressing that gentleman, "my master sends to inquire if you shall want the carriage you ordered for to-day. It has been standing for an hour at the door of the Auberge de France, awaiting you, and if you don't want it - " "Standing where?" asked Sanguinetti harshly. "At the door of the Auberge de France." "Peste, fool!" cried the foreigner, "why is it there, when I bade it be sent to the Sucking Calf?" "I don't know, sir. I know no more than Monsieur l'Hote told me." "Now, a plague on Monsieur l'Hote," swore Sanguinetti, and in that moment his eye fell upon Garnache, standing there, attentive. At sight of the Parisian he seemed lost in confusion. He dropped his glance and appeared on the point of turning aside. Then to the ostler: "I shall want the carriage, and I shall come for it anon. Carry that message to your master." And with that he turned and advanced to Garnache. His whilom arrogance was all fallen from him; he wore instead an air of extreme contrition. "Monsieur, what shall I say to you?" he asked in a voice that was rather small. "It seems there has been an error. I am deeply grieved, believe me - " "Say no more, I beg," cried Garnache, immensely relieved that at last there should be a conclusion to an affair which had threatened to be interminable. "Let me but express my regrets for the treatment you received at my hands." "I accept your expressions, and I admire their generosity," returned the other as courteous now as subservient, indeed, in his courtesy - as he had been erstwhile fierce and intractable. "As for the treatment I received, I confess that my mistake and my opinionativeness deserved it me. I deplore to deprive these gentlemen of the entertainment to which they were looking forward, but unless you should prove of an excessive amiability I am afraid they must suffer with me the consequences of my error." Garnache assured him very briefly, and none too politely that he did not intend to prove of any excessive amiability. He spoke whilst struggling into his doublet. He felt that he could cheerfully have caned the fellow for the inconvenience he had caused him, and yet he realized that he had other more pressing matters to attend to. He sheathed his sword, took up his cloak and hat, made those gentlemen the compliments that became the occasion, in terms a trifle more brief, perhaps, than were usual, and, still wondering why Monsieur de Gaubert had not yet returned, he stalked briskly away. Followed by the booings of the disappointed crowd, he set out for the Sucking Calf at a sharp pace, taking the shorter way behind the Church and across the graveyard of Saint Francois. CHAPTER VIII THE CLOSING OF THE TRAP Upon leaving the Champs aux Capuchins, hawk-faced Monsieur Gaubert had run every foot of the way to the Sucking Calf, and he had arrived there within some five minutes, out of breath and wearing every appearance of distress - of a distress rather greater than his haste to find his friend should warrant. At the door of the inn he found the carriage still waiting; the post-boy, however, was in the porch, leaning in talk with one of the drawers. The troopers sat their horses in stolid patience, keeping guard, and awaiting, as they had been bidden, the return of Monsieur de Garnache. Rabecque, very watchful, lounged in the doorway, betraying in his air none of the anxiety and impatience with which he looked for his master. At sight of Monsieur Gaubert, running so breathlessly, he started forward, wondering and uneasy. Across the street, from the Palais Seneschal, came at that same moment Monsieur de Tressan with rolling gait. He reached the door of the inn together with Monsieur Gaubert. Full of evil forebodings, Rabecque hailed the runner. "What has happened?" he cried. "Where is Monsieur de Garnache?" Gaubert came to a staggering halt; he groaned and wrung his hands. "Killed!" he panted, rocking himself in a passion of distress. "He has been butchered! Oh! it was horrible!" . Rabecque gripped him by the shoulder, and steadied him with a hand that hurt. "What do you say?" he gasped, his face white to the lips. Tressan halted, too, and turned upon Gaubert, a look of incredulity in his fat countenance. "Who has been killed?" he asked. "Not Monsieur de Garnache?" "Helas! yes," groaned the other. "It was a snare, a guet-apens to which they led us. Four of them set upon us in the Champs aux Capuchins. As long as he lived, I stood beside him. But seeing him fallen, I come for help." "My God!" sobbed Rabecque, and loosed his grasp of Monsieur Gaubert's shoulder. "Who did it?" inquired Tressan, and his voice rumbled fiercely. "I know not who they were. The man who picked the quarrel with Monsieur de Garnache called himself Sanguinetti. There is a riot down there at present. There was a crowd to witness the combat, and they have fallen to fighting among themselves. Would to Heaven they had stirred in time to save that poor gentleman from being murdered." "A riot, did you say?" cried Tressan, the official seeming to awaken in him. "Aye," answered the other indifferently; "they are cutting one another's throats." "But . . . But . . . Are you sure that he is dead, monsieur?" inquired Rabecque; and his tone was one that implored contradiction. Gaubert looked and paused, seeming to give the matter a second's thought. "I saw him fall," said he. "It may be that he was no more than wounded." "And you left him there?" roared the servant. "You left him there?"
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