He rolled forward with his ponderous yet curiously noiseless gait. Scaramouche turned to her, smiling, and handed her the candle.
“If you will leave us, Climene, I will ask your hand of your father in proper form.”
She vanished, a little fluttered, lovelier than ever in her mixture of confusion and timidity. Scaramouche closed the door and faced the enraged M. Binet, who had flung himself into an armchair at the head of the short table, faced him with the avowed purpose of asking for Climene’s hand in proper form. And this was how he did it:
“Father-in-law,” said he, “I congratulate you. This will certainly mean the Comedie Francaise for Climene, and that before long, and you shall shine in the glory she will reflect. As the father of Madame Scaramouche you may yet be famous.”
Binet, his face slowly empurpling, glared at him in speechless stupefaction. His rage was the more utter from his humiliating conviction that whatever he might say or do, this irresistible fellow would bend him to his will. At last speech came to him.
“You’re a damned corsair,” he cried, thickly, banging his ham-like fist upon the table. “A corsair! First you sail in and plunder me of half my legitimate gains; and now you want to carry off my daughter. But I’ll be damned if I’ll give her to a graceless, nameless scoundrel like you, for whom the gallows are waiting already.”
Scaramouche pulled the bell-rope, not at all discomposed. He smiled. There was a flush on his cheeks and a gleam in his eyes. He was very pleased with the world that night. He really owed a great debt to M. de Lesdiguieres.
“Binet,” said he, “forget for once that you are Pantaloon, and behave as a nice, amiable father-in-law should behave when he has secured a son-in-law of exceptionable merits. We are going to have a bottle of Burgundy at my expense, and it shall be the best bottle of Burgundy to be found in Redon. Compose yourself to do fitting honour to it. Excitations of the bile invariably impair the fine sensitiveness of the palate.”
THE CONQUEST OF NANTES
The Binet Troupe opened in Nantes — as you may discover in surviving copies of the “Courrier Nantais” — on the Feast of the Purification with “Les Fourberies de Scaramouche.” But they did not come to Nantes as hitherto they had gone to little country villages and townships, unheralded and depending entirely upon the parade of their entrance to attract attention to themselves. Andre-Louis had borrowed from the business methods of the Comedie Francaise. Carrying matters with a high hand entirely in his own fashion, he had ordered at Redon the printing of playbills, and four days before the company’s descent upon Nantes, these bills were pasted outside the Theatre Feydau and elsewhere about the town, and had attracted — being still sufficiently unusual announcements at the time — considerable attention. He had entrusted the matter to one of the company’s latest recruits, an intelligent young man named Basque, sending him on ahead of the company for the purpose.