“I cannot tell,” said sir William, “what may be done. If you were to fly, he would pursue you to the ends of the earth. But suppose now you were upon your knees, to retract your pretensions to this silly girl.” “Pardi” answered Prettyman, “that is damned hard! are you sure his lordship is so compleat a master of the science of defence?” “Nay,” replied sir William, “I cannot tell. I believe indeed he never received a wound, but I think I remember to have heard of one duel he fought, in which his antagonist came off with his life.” “Ah, diable l’emporte! That will not do neither. These bullets are the aukwardest things in the world. Do you think you could not prevail with his Lordship to use only powder?” “Powder,” cried sir William, “that is an excellent jest. My lord always loads with six small slugs.” “Six slugs! ah the bloody minded villain! It is confounded hard that a gentleman cannot pass through life, without being degoute with these unpolished Vandals. Ah, mon cher ami, I will put the affair entirely into your hands: do, pour i’amour de Dieu, bring me out of this scrape as well as you can.” “Well my dear Prettyman, I will exert myself on your account; but, upon my soul, I had rather have an affair with half a regiment of commissioned officers fresh imported from America.”
Sir William Twyford, having thus brought the affair to some degree of forwardness, now waited on his lordship. “My dear lord Martin,” said he, “what have you resolved upon? The affair is briefly thus—you must either give up Delia, or fight Mr. Prettyman.” “Give up Delia!” exclaimed the little lord; “by all that is sacred I will sooner spill the last drop of my blood. But,” added he, “what necessity is there for the alternative you propose? True, I fear no man. But to be continually engaged in quarrels would acquire me the character of a desperado.” “Indeed,” said sir William, “you have been somewhat lavish in those sort of affairs, but I do not see how you can be off in the present instance. Prettyman has heard of the bustle you made about the fellow at the ball, that tricked you of your partner; and he will never pardon the affront, if you pay less attention to him.” “Pox take the blockhead, he is mighty nice, methinks, in his temper. I have a great mind not to gratify him.” “Oh,” cried sir William, “you never had such an opportunity to establish your character for ever. And the fellow I believe is no better than a coward at bottom.”
It would be endless to relate all the stratagems of sir William to bring the business to the conclusion he wished. How he terrified the brawny petit maitre, and anon he animated the little peer. His lordship felt the force of his friend’s eloquence, but even his highest flights of heroism were qualified with temporary misgivings. For poor Mr. Prettyman, he feared to stay, and dared not fly. If he could have forgotten the danger he apprehended, his good natured friend by the studied exaggerations in which he was continually clothing it, would have perfectly succeed in refreshing his memory. But in reality it was never absent from his thoughts. His slumbers were short and disturbed. And he could scarcely close his eyes, ere the enraged lord Martin, with his sword drawn, and his countenance flaming with inexorable fury, presented himself to his affrighted imagination.