“What is it?” Beaufort demanded, languidly, of Bertrand. The man, by tiptoeing, was trying to see over the heads of the smokers and drinkers, who had risen to their feet and were applauding the orator who had just entered.
“It is Monsieur Danton who is come in. He is making his way to the caisse, doubtless to speak with Madame, his wife. Evidently Monsieur has just addressed a throng in the Gardens.”
“Ah! then ’tis certainly time that we go, since Monsieur Danton invades the place. ’Tis a poverty-stricken young lawyer from Arcis-sur-Aube, my dear Calvert,” said Beaufort, disdainfully, “who has but lately come to Paris and who, having no briefs to occupy his time, fills it to good advantage by wooing and marrying the pretty Charpentier. The pretty Charpentier has a pretty dot. I can’t show you the dot, but come with me and I will show you the beauty.”
He got up from the table followed by Calvert and, with his hand laid lightly on his silver dress sword, made his way easily through the surly crowd, who, seemingly impelled by some irresistible power and against their wish, opened a passage for him and the young stranger. As they drew near the comptoir, Calvert perceived for the first time, leaning against it, the man who had created such an excitement by his words and sudden entrance. He was a big, burly figure, with a head and face that had something of the bull in them. Indeed, they had come by that resemblance honestly, for a bull had tossed him, goring the lips and flattening the nose, and the marks were never to be effaced. Smallpox, too, had left its sign in the deeply scarred skin. Only the eyes remained to show one what might have been the original beauty of the face. They shone, brilliant and keen, from beneath great tufted eyebrows, above which waved a very lion’s mane of rough, dark hair.
“A face to be remembered, this Monsieur Danton’s,” said Calvert to himself. And, indeed, it was. Years afterward, when he saw it again and for the last time, every detail of that rugged countenance was as fresh in his memory as it was at that moment in the Cafe de l’Ecole. As for Danton, all unconscious of the young American’s scrutiny, his gaze was bent upon the pretty, vivacious little beauty who sat behind the caisse, and had so lately become Madame Danton. As he looked, the harsh features softened and a sentimental expression came into the keen eyes. “’Tis the same conquered, slavish look the painter hath put into the lion’s face when Ariadne is by,” mused Calvert to himself.
Beaufort was counting out silver pieces slowly, and slowly dropping them on the caissiere’s desk. He looked at Calvert and nodded appreciatively, coolly toward Madame Danton.
“Quelle charmante tete,” he said, lightly, nonchalantly.
The burly figure leaning on the comptoir straightened up as if stung into action; the softened eyes kindled with speechless wrath and flamed into the imperturbable, debonair face of Monsieur de Beaufort. One of the silver pieces rolled upon the floor. Calvert stooped quickly for it. “Madame will permit me,” he said, courteously, and, lifting his hat, placed the coin upon the desk. Without another look or word he turned and, followed leisurely by Beaufort, made his way to the door.