The result of his meditations was, that Raoul, upon his return to the Hotel du Louvre, did not mention a word of his adventure to Clameran, whom he found already up.
At half-past eight his seconds arrived.
M. Jacobson had selected the sword, and would fight that very hour, in the woods of Vincennes.
“Well, come along,” cried Raoul gayly. “I accept the gentleman’s conditions.”
They found the Garibaldian waiting; and after an interchange of a few thrusts Raoul was slightly wounded in the right shoulder.
The “Ex-superior officer of the South” wished to continue the combat; but Raoul’s seconds—brave young men—declared that honor was satisfied, and that they had no intention of subjecting their friend’s life to unnecessary hazards.
The ex-officer was forced to admit that this was but fair, and unwillingly retired from the field. Raoul went home delighted at having escaped with nothing more serious than a little loss of blood, and resolved to keep clear of all so-called Garibaldians in the future.
In fact, a night’s reflection had convinced him that Clameran was the instigator of the two attempts to kill him. Mme. Fauvel having told him what conditions Madeleine placed on her consent to marriage, Raoul instantly saw how necessary his removal would be, now that he was an impediment in the way of Clameran’s success. He recalled a thousand little remarks and events of the last few days, and, on skilfully questioning the marquis, had his suspicions changed into certainty.
This conviction that the man whom he had so materially assisted in his criminal plans was so basely ungrateful as to turn against him, and hire assassins to murder him in cold blood, inspired in Raoul a resolution to take speedy vengeance upon his treacherous accomplice, and at the same time insure his own safety.
This treason seemed monstrous to Raoul. He was as yet not sufficiently experienced in ruffianism to know that one villain always sacrifices another to advance his own projects; he was credulous enough to believe in the adage, “there’s honor among thieves.”
His rage was naturally mingled with fright, well knowing that his life hung by a thread, when it was threatened by a daring scoundrel like Clameran.
He had twice miraculously escaped; a third attempt would more than likely prove fatal.
Knowing his accomplice’s nature, Raoul saw himself surrounded by snares; he saw death before him in every form; he was equally afraid of going out, and of remaining at home. He only ventured with the most suspicious caution into the most public places; he feared poison more than the assassin’s knife, and imagined that every dish placed before him tasted of strychnine.
As this life of torture was intolerable, he determined to anticipate a struggle which he felt must terminate in the death of either Clameran or himself; and, if he were doomed to die, to be first revenged. If he went down, Clameran should go too; better kill the devil than be killed by him.