“Salut, my dear Haviland, salut Messieurs. Oh! my dear Genest, how goes it?” offering his hand, which Zotique took with a caricature of extravagant joy and imitation of the other’s style:
“My dear Small-pox—pardon me—my dear friend, I am charmed to meet again a man of so much sense and honor.”
“Ah yes, we have fought on many a field, but we respect each other ‘Honneur au plus vaillant.’ But why, my dear Haviland,” turning, “why should the valiant oppose each other, and half of them lose at each battle? Is it not because they are divided? Union makes strength!”
“Yes, it is because they are divided by impassable gulfs,” said Chamilly, coldly. “Did you come to see me, Monsieur?”
“My dear fellow, can’t we have a little private conversation together? I am, of course, in the country to oppose your politics, but being in Dormilliere, I cannot forget our social acquaintanceship.”
“Do me the honor of saying here what you desire to say, Monsieur. I have no political secrets from these friends.”
“Pardon me, what I have to tell you, is strictly private.”
“If it is in political matters, I do not wish it to be so.”
“It is personal, I assure you.”
“Then you will humor me, sir, by writing it.”
“My friend, do not let party differences put grimaces at each other on our real faces:—I would say rather party names; for I am in reality as much a Red as yourself. If you were willing we would prove that to you by changing the title, of our side to yours.”
“At that moment, sir, there would be what I live for in the name ‘Blue.’”
Picault drew a deliberative puff at his cigar, and lowered it again.
“You will not, then, do me the honor of a personal interview?” he asked, smiling unprovokably still.
“Cease, cease!” replied Haviland, “It will soon be the noon of plain words!”
The tempter with nice discernment, perceiving that this short and bold interview was useless, and that he ought to withdraw, put his cigar between his lips, puffed a “Good-day, gentlemen,” and turned back meditatively, along the path towards the pines of the Manoir.
“Au plaisir!” returned Zotique to him with facetious exactitude.
Haviland was furious.
“Shall the children of these men, enriched perhaps and elevated through their crimes,” he exclaimed, “pretend in time to come that they obtained their ‘Honorables,’ and Knighthoods, and seats on the Bench of Justice, and of Cabinets fairly from their country, and were the world’s great and true? Forbid it, and forbid that their names should live except in memory of their paltriness!”
“But dear Mr. Chrysler,” he added in a moment, “you must not take us for party bigots. The masses of the Bleus are honest, and any day our own name may be desecrated by a clique of knaves, our principles represented by the other name.”