Complete Project Gutenberg John Galsworthy Works eBook

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they had ruined him.  It was impossible to let Lucy—­such a dear woman—­bear that burden.  I have tried to make provision; but, you see,” he took hold of my sleeve, “I, too, have not been fortunate; in fact, it’s difficult to save a great deal out of L 190 a year; but the capital is perfectly safe—­and I get L 47, 10s. a quarter, paid on the nail.  I have often been tempted to reinvest at a greater rate of interest, but I’ve never dared.  Anyway, there are no debts—­I’ve been obliged to make a rule not to buy what I couldn’t pay for on the spot....  Now I am really plaguing you—­but I wanted to tell you—­in case-anything should happen to me.”  He seemed to take a sudden scare, stiffened, twisted his moustache, and muttering, “Your great kindness!  Shall never forget!” turned hurriedly away.

He vanished; his footsteps, and the tap of his stick grew fainter and fainter.  They died out.  He was gone.  Suddenly I got up and hastened after him.  I soon stopped—­what was there to say?

VIII

The following day I was obliged to go to Nice, and did not return till midnight.  The porter told me that Jules le Ferrier had been to see me.  The next morning, while I was still in bed, the door was opened, and Jules appeared.  His face was very pale; and the moment he stood still drops of perspiration began coursing down his cheeks.

“Georges!” he said, “he is dead.  There, there!  How stupid you look!  My man is packing.  I have half an hour before the train; my evidence shall come from Italy.  I have done my part, the rest is for you.  Why did you have that dinner?  The Don Quixote!  The idiot!  The poor man!  Don’t move!  Have you a cigar?  Listen!  When you followed him, I followed the other two.  My infernal curiosity!  Can you conceive a greater folly?  How fast they walked, those two! feeling their cheeks, as if he had struck them both, you know; it was funny.  They soon saw me, for their eyes were all round about their heads; they had the mark of a glove on their cheeks.”  The colour began to come back, into Jules’s face; he gesticulated with his cigar and became more and more dramatic.  “They waited for me.  ‘Tiens!’ said one, ’this gentleman was with him.  My friend’s name is M. Le Baron de—–.  The man who struck him was an odd-looking person; kindly inform me whether it is possible for my friend to meet him?’ Eh!” commented Jules, “he was offensive!  Was it for me to give our dignity away?  ‘Perfectly, monsieur!’ I answered.  ’In that case,’ he said, ’please give me his name and ad dress....  I could not remember his name, and as for the address, I never knew it...!  I reflected.  ‘That,’ I said, ‘I am unable to do, for special reasons.’  ‘Aha!’ he said, ’reasons that will prevent our fighting him, I suppose?  ‘On the contrary,’ I said.  ’I will convey your request to him; I may mention that I have heard he is the best swordsman and pistol-shot in Europe. 

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