“You see,” he murmured, with a half smile, “the dice know it is a drawn duel between you and the Arabs.”
“C’est un drole, c’est un brave!” muttered Chanrellon; and they threw again.
The Chasseur cast a five; his was a five again.
“The dice cannot make up their minds,” said the other listlessly, “they know you are Might and the Arabs are Right.”
The Frenchmen laughed; they could take a jest good-humoredly, and alone amid so many of them, he was made sacred at once by the very length of odds against him.
They rattled the boxes and threw again—Chanrellon’s was three; his two.
“Ah!” he murmured. “Right kicks the beam and loses; it always does, poor devil!”
The Chasseur leaned across the table, with his brown, fearless sunny eyes full of pleasure.
“Monsieur! never lament such good fortune for France. You belong to us now; let me claim you!”
He bowed more gravely than he had borne himself hitherto.
“You do me much honor; fortune has willed it so. One word only in stipulation.”
“Chanrellon assented courteously.
“As many as you choose.”
“I have a companion who must be brigaded with me, and I must go on active service at once.”
“With infinite pleasure. That doubtless can be arranged. You shall present yourself to-morrow morning; and for to-night, this is not the season here yet; and we are triste a faire fremir; still I can show you a little fun, though it is not Paris!”
But he rose and bowed again.
“I thank you, not to-night. You shall see me at your barracks with the morning.”
“Ah, ah! monsieur!” cried the Chasseur eagerly, and a little annoyed. “What warrant have we that you will not dispute the decree of the dice, and go off to your favorites, the Arabs?”
He turned back and looked full in Chanrellon’s face his own eyes a little surprised, and infinitely weary.
“What warrant? My promise.”
Then, without another syllable, he lounged slowly out through the soldiers and the idlers, and disappeared in the confused din and chiar-oscuro of the gas-lit street without, through the press of troopers, grisettes, merchants, beggars, sweetmeat-sellers, lemonade-sellers, curacoa sellers, gaunt Bedouins, negro boys, shrieking muleteers, laughing lorettes, and glittering staff officers.
“That is done!” he murmured to his own thoughts. “Now for life under another flag!”
Claude de Chanrellon sat mute and amazed a while, gazing at the open door; then he drank a fourth beaker of champagne and flung the emptied glass down with a mighty crash.
“Ventre bleu! Whoever he is, that man will eat fire, bons garcons!”
“De Profundis” Before “Plunging.”