Villa Rubein, and other stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 280 pages of information about Villa Rubein, and other stories.

My old friend’s cigar fell on the table.  “Monsieur,” he stammered, “you speak of a lady so, in a public place?”

The young man stared at him.  “Who is this person?” he said to his companion.

My guest took up Jules’s glove that lay on the table; before either of us could raise a finger, he had swung it in the speaker’s face.  “Enough!” he said, and, dropping the glove, walked away.

We all jumped to our feet.  I left Jules and hurried after him.  His face was grim, his eyes those of a creature who has been struck on a raw place.  He made a movement of his fingers which said plainly.  “Leave me, if you please!”

I went back to the cafe.  The two young men had disappeared, so had Jules, but everything else was going on just as before; the bandsman still twanging out his czardas; the waiters serving drinks; the orientals trying to sell their carpets.  I paid the bill, sought out the manager, and apologised.  He shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said:  “An eccentric, your friend, nicht wahr?” Could he tell me where M. Le Ferrier was?  He could not.  I left to look for Jules; could not find him, and returned to my hotel disgusted.  I was sorry for my old guest, but vexed with him too; what business had he to carry his Quixotism to such an unpleasant length?  I tried to read.  Eleven o’clock struck; the casino disgorged a stream of people; the Place seemed fuller of life than ever; then slowly it grew empty and quite dark.  The whim seized me to go out.  It was a still night, very warm, very black.  On one of the seats a man and woman sat embraced, on another a girl was sobbing, on a third—­strange sight—­a priest dozed.  I became aware of some one at my side; it was my old guest.

“If you are not too tired,” he said, “can you give me ten minutes?”

“Certainly; will you come in?”

“No, no; let us go down to the Terrace.  I shan’t keep you long.”

He did not speak again till we reached a seat above the pigeon-shooting grounds; there, in a darkness denser for the string of lights still burning in the town, we sat down.

“I owe you an apology,” he said; “first in the afternoon, then again this evening—­your guest—­your friend’s glove!  I have behaved as no gentleman should.”  He was leaning forward with his hands on the handle of a stick.  His voice sounded broken and disturbed.

“Oh!” I muttered.  “It’s nothing!"’

“You are very good,” he sighed; “but I feel that I must explain.  I consider I owe this to you, but I must tell you I should not have the courage if it were not for another reason.  You see I have no friend.”  He looked at me with an uncertain smile.  I bowed, and a minute or two later he began....

III

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Project Gutenberg
Villa Rubein, and other stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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