La Constantin eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 93 pages of information about La Constantin.

The commander touched the chevalier’s knee under the table, and he, as if to avoid speaking, slowly filled and emptied his glass.

“Look here,” said the treasurer, “do you want to hear a few plain words, such as I shall rap out when God takes me to task about the peccadilloes of my past life?  I don’t believe a word about the relationship.  A nephew must be the son of either a brother or a sister.  Now, your only sister is an abbess, and your late brother’s marriage was childless.  There is only one way of proving the relationship, and that is to confess that when your brother was young and wild he and Love met, or else Madame l’Abbesse——.”

“Take care, Treasurer Jeannin! no slander against my sister!”

“Well, then, explain; you can’t fool me!  May I be hanged if I leave this place before I have dragged the secret out of you!  Either we are friends or we are not.  What you tell no one else you ought to tell me.  What! would you make use of my purse and my sword on occasion and yet have secrets from me?  It’s too bad:  speak, or our friendship is at an end!  I give you fair warning that I shall find out everything and publish it abroad to court and city:  when I strike a trail there’s no turning me aside.  It will be best for you to whisper your secret voluntarily into my ear, where it will be as safe as in the grave.”

“How full of curiosity you are, my good friend!” said de Jars, leaning one elbow on the table, and twirling the points of his moustache with his hand; “but if I were to wrap my secret round the point of a dagger would you not be too much afraid of pricking your fingers to pull it off?”

“Not I,” said the king’s treasurer, beginning to twirl his moustache also:  “the doctors have always told me that I am of too full a complexion and that it would do me all the good in the world to be bled now and then.  But what would be an advantage to me would be dangerous to you.  It’s easy to see from your jaundiced phiz that for you blood-letting is no cure.”

“And you would really go that length?  You would risk a duel if I refused to let you get to the bottom of my mystery?”

“Yes, on my honour!  Well, how is it to be?”

“My dear boy,” said de Jars to the youth, “we are caught, and may as well yield gracefully.  You don’t know this big fellow as well as I do.  He’s obstinacy itself.  You can make the most obstinate donkey go on by pulling its tail hard enough, but when Jeannin gets a notion into his pate, not all the legions of hell can get it out again.  Besides that, he’s a skilful fencer, so there’s nothing for it but to trust him.”

“Just as you like,” said the young man; “you know all my circumstances and how important it is that my secret should be kept.”

“Oh! among Jeannin’s many vices there are a few virtues, and of these discretion is the greatest, so that his curiosity is harmless.  A quarter of an hour hence he will let himself be killed rather than reveal what just now he is ready to risk his skin to find out, whether we will or no.”

Project Gutenberg
La Constantin from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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