He turned. There stood the man’s great bulk, the moonlight beating down upon that round fat face of his, and he was holding out his hand.
“M. Parvissimus, no rancour. It is a thing I do not admit into my life. You will shake hands with me, and we will forget all this.”
Andre-Louis considered him a moment with disgust. He was growing angry. Then, realizing this, he conceived himself ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as that sly, scoundrelly Pantaloon. He laughed and took the outstretched hand. “No rancour?” M. Binet insisted.
“Oh, no rancour,” said Andre-Louis.
Dressed in the close-fitting suit of a bygone age, all black, from flat velvet cap to rosetted shoes, his face whitened and a slight up-curled moustache glued to his upper lip, a small-sword at his side and a guitar slung behind him, Scaramouche surveyed himself in a mirror, and was disposed to be sardonic — which was the proper mood for the part.
He reflected that his life, which until lately had been of a stagnant, contemplative quality, had suddenly become excessively active. In the course of one week he had been lawyer, mob-orator, outlaw, property-man, and finally buffoon. Last Wednesday he had been engaged in moving an audience of Rennes to anger; on this Wednesday he was to move an audience of Guichen to mirth. Then he had been concerned to draw tears; to-day it was his business to provoke laughter. There was a difference, and yet there was a parallel. Then as now he had been a comedian; and the part that he had played then was, when you came to think of it, akin to the part he was to play this evening. For what had he been at Rennes but a sort of Scaramouche — the little skirmisher, the astute intriguer, spattering the seed of trouble with a sly hand? The only difference lay in the fact that to-day he went forth under the name that properly described his type, whereas last week he had been disguised as a respectable young provincial attorney.
He bowed to his reflection in the mirror.
“Buffoon!” he apostrophized it. “At last you have found yourself. At last you have come into your heritage. You should be a great success.”
Hearing his new name called out by M. Binet, he went below to find the company assembled, and waiting in the entrance corridor of the inn.
He was, of course, an object of great interest to all the company. Most critically was he conned by M. Binet and mademoiselle; by the former with gravely searching eyes, by the latter with a curl of scornful lip.
“You’ll do,” M. Binet commended his make-up. “At least you look the part.”
“Unfortunately men are not always what they look,” said Climene, acidly.
“That is a truth that does not at present apply to me,” said Andre-Louis. “For it is the first time in my life that I look what I am.”