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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 473 pages of information about Captain Fracasse.

CHAPTER X. A MIDNIGHT ADVENTURE

After the surgeon had bandaged his injured arm, and arranged a sling for it, the Duke of Vallombreuse was put carefully into a chair, which had been sent for in all haste, to be taken home.  His wound was not in the least a dangerous one, though it would deprive him of the use of his right hand for some time to come, for the blade had gone quite through the forearm; but, most fortunately, without severing any important tendons or arteries.  He suffered a great deal of pain from it of course, but still more from his wounded pride; and he felt furiously and unreasonably angry with everything and everybody about him.  It seemed to be somewhat of a relief to him to swear savagely at his bearers, and call them all the hardest names he could think of, whenever he felt the slightest jar, as they carried him slowly towards home, though they were walking as steadily as men could do, and carefully avoiding every inequality in the road.  When at last he reached his own house, he was not willing to be put to bed, as the surgeon advised, but lay down upon a lounge instead, where he was made as comfortable as was possible by his faithful Picard, who was in despair at seeing the young duke in such a condition; astonished as well, for nothing of the kind had ever happened before, in all the many duels he had fought; and the admiring valet had shared his master’s belief that he was invincible.  The Chevalier de Vidalinc sat in a low chair beside his friend, and gave him from time to time a spoonful of the tonic prescribed by the surgeon, but refrained from breaking the silence into which he had fallen.  Vallombreuse lay perfectly still for a while; but it was easy to see, in spite of his affected calmness, that his blood was boiling with suppressed rage.  At last he could restrain himself no longer, and burst out violently:  “Oh!  Vidalinc, this is too outrageously aggravating! to think that that contemptible, lean stork, who has flown forth from his ruined chateau so as not to die of starvation in it, should have dared to stick his long bill into me!  I have encountered, and conquered, the best swordsmen in France, and never returned from the field before with so much as a scratch, or without leaving my adversary stretched lifeless on the ground, or wounded and bleeding in the arms of his friends.”

“But you must remember that the most favoured and the bravest of mortals have their unlucky days, Vallombreuse,” answered the chevalier sententiously, “and Dame Fortune does not always smile, even upon her prime favourites.  Until now you have never had to complain of her frowns, for you have been her pampered darling all your life long.”

“Isn’t it too disgraceful,” continued Vallombreuse, growing more and more heated, “that this ridiculous buffoon—­this grotesque country clown—­who takes such abominable drubbings on the stage, and has never in his life known what it was to associate with gentlemen, should have managed to get the best of the Duke of Vallombreuse, hitherto by common accord pronounced invincible?  He must be a professional prize-fighter, disguised as a strolling mountebank.”

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