Well ahead rolled Binet, moving faster than any had ever seen him move, and swinging the long cane from which Pantaloon is inseparable.
“Infamous scoundrel!” he roared. “You have ruined me! But, name of a name, you shall pay!”
Andre-Louis turned to face him. “You confuse cause with effect,” said he. But he got no farther... Binet’s cane, viciously driven, descended and broke upon his shoulder. Had he not moved swiftly aside as the blow fell it must have taken him across the head, and possibly stunned him. As he moved, he dropped his hand to his pocket, and swift upon the cracking of Binet’s breaking cane came the crack of the pistol with which Andre-Louis replied.
“You had your warning, you filthy pander!” he cried. And on the word he shot him through the body.
Binet went down screaming, whilst the fierce Polichinelle, fiercer than ever in that moment of fierce reality, spoke quickly into Andre-Louis’ ear:
“Fool! So much was not necessary! Away with you now, or you’ll leave your skin here! Away with you!”
Andre-Louis thought it good advice, and took it. The gentlemen who had followed Binet in that punitive rush upon the stage, partly held in check by the improvised weapons of the players, partly intimidated by the second pistol that Scaramouche presented, let him go. He gained the wings, and here found himself faced by a couple of sergeants of the watch, part of the police that was already invading the theatre with a view to restoring order. The sight of them reminded him unpleasantly of how he must stand towards the law for this night’s work, and more particularly for that bullet lodged somewhere in Binet’s obese body. He flourished his pistol.
“Make way, or I’ll burn your brains!” he threatened them, and intimidated, themselves without firearms, they fell back and let him pass. He slipped by the door of the green-room, where the ladies of the company had shut themselves in until the storm should be over, and so gained the street behind the theatre. It was deserted. Down this he went at a run, intent on reaching the inn for clothes and money, since it was impossible that he should take the road in the garb of Scaramouche.
BOOK III: THE SWORD
“You may agree,” wrote Andre-Louis from Paris to Le Chapelier, in a letter which survives, “that it is to be regretted I should definitely have discarded the livery of Scaramouche, since clearly there could be no livery fitter for my wear. It seems to be my part always to stir up strife and then to slip away before I am caught in the crash of the warring elements I have aroused. It is a humiliating reflection. I seek consolation in the reminder of Epictetus (do you ever read Epictetus?) that we are but actors in a play of such a part as