“After such a noble act as that, I can refuse you nothing,” returned Camille. “I will do you that signal honour.”
“Just what I desire,” replied Samuel. “I am the offended; I have the choice of arms.” And, in showing M. Langis out, he said, “I will not conceal from you that I have frequented the shooting-galleries, and that I am a first-class pistol-shot.”
Camille bowed and went out.
The next day, in a lucid interval, Mlle. Moriaz saw at the foot of her bed a medallion laid on a red hood. From that moment the physician announced an improvement in her symptoms.
Six days after these events, Samuel Brohl, having passed through Namur and Liege without stopping at either place, arrived by rail at Aix-la-Chapelle. He went directly to the Hotel Royal, close to the railroad-station; he ordered a hearty dinner to be served him, which he washed down with foaming champagne. He had an excellent appetite; his soul kept holiday; his heart was expanded, inflated with joy, and his brain intoxicated. He had revenged himself; he had meted out justice to that insolent fellow, his rival. Mlle. Moriaz did not belong to Samuel Brohl, but she never would belong to Camille Langis. Near the Franco-Belgian frontier, on the verge of a forest, a man had been shot in the breast; Samuel Brohl had seen him fall; and some one had cried, “He is dead!” It is asserted that Aix-la-Chapelle is a very dull city, that the very dogs suffer so sadly from ennui that they piteously beg passers-by to kick them, with a view to having a little excitement. Samuel never felt one moment’s ennui during the evening that he spent in Charlemagne’s city. He had constantly in mind a certain spot in a forest, and a man falling; and he experienced a thrill of delight.
After the champagne, he drank punch, an after that he slept like a dormouse; unfortunately, sleep dissipated his exhilaration, and when he awoke his gaiety had left him. He had the fatal custom of reflecting; his reflections saddened him; he was revenged, but what then? He thought for a long while of Mlle. Moriaz; he gazed with melancholy eye at his two hands, which had allowed her and good fortune to elude their grasp.
He recited in a low voice some German verses, signifying:
“I have resolved to bury my songs and my dreams; bring me a large coffin. Why is this coffin so heavy? Because in it with my dreams I have laid away my love and my sorrows.”
When he had recited these verses Samuel felt sadder than before, and he cursed the poets. “They did me great harm,” he said, bitterly. “Without them I had spent days interwoven with gold and silk. My future was secure: it was they who gave me a distaste for my position. I believed in them; I was the dupe of their hollow declamation; they taught me thoughtless contempt, and they gave me the sickly ambition to play the silly part of a man of fine sentiments. I despised the mud. Where am I now?”