Lord Martin, had been sufficiently irritated by the pretensions of Damon. The new intruder had wrought up his passion to the highest pitch. In the mean time he had renewed an acquaintance which he had formerly made with sir William Twyford. Sir William, upon all occasions, cultivated the intimacy of such, as, by any striking peculiarities, seemed to furnish a proper subject for his humour. He now contributed every thing in his power to inflame his lordship against Mr. Prettyman. He offered to become the bearer of a challenge, and to be his lordship’s second in any future combat.
Lord Martin broke off the conversation somewhat abruptly, and began to reflect with himself upon what had passed. He had hitherto contrived, by some means or other, though he dealt very largely in challenges, never to have come to actual battle. But he had too much reason to think, that if he made sir William his messenger, he should not be able with any degree of honour to contrive an evasion. “It is true,” said he, “I am in a most confounded passion, but a wise general never proceeds to action without having first deliberated. Zounds, blood and fire! would I could put an end to the existence of so presumptuous a villain! But then it must be considered that Mr. Prettyman is six foot high, and I am not five. He is as athletic as Ajax, but to me nature has been unfavourable. It is true I understand cart and terce, parry and thrust, but I have heard that Prettyman studied under Olivier. Many a man has outlived the passage of a bullet, or the thrust of a sword through him. But my constitution is so delicate! Curse blast it, death and the devil, I do not know what to do.”
Sir William, as soon as he had left lord Martin, repaired to the lodgings of Mr. Prettyman. After a short general conversation, he began, “My dear friend, here has happened the unluckiest thing in nature. You have made some advances, you know, to the charming Delia.” “True,” cried Prettyman, “I have bestowed upon her a few condescending glances. C’est une charmante fille.” “Well,” added sir William, “and the whole town gives her to you.” “Parbleu! the town is very impertinent. There will go two words to that bargain.” “My lord Martin, you know, has enlisted himself amongst her admirers.” “Pox take the blockhead, I suppose he would marry her. Bien. After I have led her a dance, he shall do what he pleases with her.” “But,” said sir William, “my lord intends to call you to an account.” “Morbleu,” cried Prettyman, “I thought I had been in a land of liberty.” “But let me tell you, my lord is very absolute. He has fought some half a dozen duels in his time, and every body is afraid of him.” “J’en suis excede. ’Pon honour, the girl is not worth fighting for.” “Oh,” said the malicious wit, “but if you give her up for a few threats, your reputation will be ruined for ever.” “Mon Dieu! this reputation is a very expensive thing. Je crois that every girl is a Helen, never so happy as when people are murdering one another, and towns are fired for her sake. Is this same milord absolutely inexorable?”