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Book 2 Chapter 11 Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

Leaving his host to act as his plenipotentiary with Mademoiselle de Kercadiou, and to explain to her that it was his profound contrition that compelled him to depart without taking formal leave of her, the Marquis rolled away from Sautron in a cloud of gloom. Twenty-four hours with La Binet had been more than enough for a man of his fastidious and discerning taste. He looked back upon the episode with nausea—the inevitable psychological reaction—marvelling at himself that until yesterday he should have found her so desirable, and cursing himself that for the sake of that ephemeral and worthless gratification he should seriously have imperilled his chances of winning Mademoiselle de Kercadiou to wife. There is, after all, nothing very extraordinary in his frame of mind, so that I need not elaborate it further. It resulted from the conflict between the beast and the angel that go to make up the composition of every man.

The Chevalier de Chabrillane—who in reality occupied towards the Marquis a position akin to that of gentleman-in-waiting—sat opposite to him in the enormous travelling berline. A small folding table had been erected between them, and the Chevalier suggested piquet. But M. le Marquis was in no humour for cards. His thoughts absorbed him. As they were rattling over the cobbles of Nantes’ streets, he remembered a promise to La Binet to witness her performance that night in “The Faithless Lover.” And now he was running away from her. The thought was repugnant to him on two scores. He was breaking his pledged word, and he was acting like a coward. And there was more than that. He had led the mercenary little strumpet—it was thus he thought of her at present, and with some justice—to expect favours from him in addition to the lavish awards which already he had made her. The baggage had almost sought to drive a bargain with him as to her future. He was to take her to Paris, put her into her own furniture—as the expression ran, and still runs—and under the shadow of his powerful protection see that the doors of the great theatres of the capital should be opened to her talents. He had not—he was thankful to reflect—exactly committed himself. But neither had he definitely refused her. It became necessary now to come to an understanding, since he was compelled to choose between his trivial passion for her—a passion quenched already—and his deep, almost spiritual devotion to Mademoiselle de Kercadiou.

His honour, he considered, demanded of him that he should at once deliver himself from a false position. La Binet would make a scene, of course; but he knew the proper specific to apply to hysteria of that nature. Money, after all, has its uses.

He pulled the cord. The carriage rolled to a standstill; a footman appeared at the door.

“To the Theatre Feydau,” said he.

The footman vanished and the berline rolled on. M. de Chabrillane laughed cynically.

“I’ll trouble you not to be amused,” snapped the Marquis. “You don’t understand.” Thereafter he explained himself. It was a rare condescension in him. But, then, he could not bear to be misunderstood in such a matter. Chabrillane grew serious in reflection of the Marquis’ extreme seriousness.

“Why not write?” he suggested. “Myself, I confess that I should find it easier.”

Nothing could better have revealed M. le Marquis’ state of mind than his answer.

“Letters are liable both to miscarriage and to misconstruction. Two risks I will not run. If she did not answer, I should never know which had been incurred. And I shall have no peace of mind until I know that I have set a term to this affair. The berline can wait while we are at the theatre. We will go on afterwards. We will travel all night if necessary.”

“Peste!” said M. de Chabrillane with a grimace. But that was all.

The great travelling carriage drew up at the lighted portals of the Feydau, and M. le Marquis stepped out. He entered the theatre with Chabrillane, all unconsciously to deliver himself into the hands of Andre-Louis.

Andre-Louis was in a state of exasperation produced by Climene’s long absence from Nantes in the company of M. le Marquis, and fed by the unspeakable complacency with which M. Binet regarded that event of quite unmistakable import.

However much he might affect the frame of mind of the stoics, and seek to judge with a complete detachment, in the heart and soul of him Andre-Louis was tormented and revolted. It was not Climene he blamed. He had been mistaken in her. She was just a poor weak vessel driven helplessly by the first breath, however foul, that promised her advancement. She suffered from the plague of greed; and he congratulated himself upon having discovered it before making her his wife. He felt for her now nothing but a deal of pity and some contempt. The pity was begotten of the love she had lately inspired in him. It might be likened to the dregs of love, all that remained after the potent wine of it had been drained off. His anger he reserved for her father and her seducer.

The thoughts that were stirring in him on that Monday morning, when it was discovered that Climene had not yet returned from her excursion of the previous day in the coach of M. le Marquis, were already wicked enough without the spurring they received from the distraught Leandre.

Hitherto the attitude of each of these men towards the other had been one of mutual contempt. The phenomenon has frequently been observed in like cases. Now, what appeared to be a common misfortune brought them into a sort of alliance. So, at least, it seemed to Leandre when he went in quest of Andre-Louis, who with apparent unconcern was smoking a pipe upon the quay immediately facing the inn.

“Name of a pig!” said Leandre. “How can you take your ease and smoke at such a time?”

Scaramouche surveyed the sky. “I do not find it too cold,” said he. “The sun is shining. I am very well here.”

“Do I talk of the weather?” Leandre was very excited.

“Of what, then?”

“Of Climene, of course.”

“Oh! The lady has ceased to interest me,” he lied.

Leandre stood squarely in front of him, a handsome figure handsomely dressed in these days, his hair well powdered, his stockings of silk. His face was pale, his large eyes looked larger than usual.

“Ceased to interest you? Are you not to marry her?”

Andre-Louis expelled a cloud of smoke. “You cannot wish to be offensive. Yet you almost suggest that I live on other men’s leavings.”

“My God!” said Leandre, overcome, and he stared awhile. Then he burst out afresh. “Are you quite heartless? Are you always Scaramouche?”

“What do you expect me to do?” asked Andre-Louis, evincing surprise in his own turn, but faintly.

“I do not expect you to let her go without a struggle.”

“But she has gone already.” Andre-Louis pulled at his pipe a moment, what time Leandre clenched and unclenched his hands in impotent rage. “And to what purpose struggle against the inevitable? Did you struggle when I took her from you?”

“She was not mine to be taken from me. I but aspired, and you won the race. But even had it been otherwise where is the comparison? That was a thing in honour; this—this is hell.”

His emotion moved Andre-Louis. He took Leandre’s arm. “You’re a good fellow, Leandre. I am glad I intervened to save you from your fate.”

“Oh, you don’t love her!” cried the other, passionately. “You never did. You don’t know what it means to love, or you’d not talk like this. My God! if she had been my affianced wife and this had happened, I should have killed the man—killed him! Do you hear me? But you... Oh, you, you come out here and smoke, and take the air, and talk of her as another man’s leavings. I wonder I didn’t strike you for the word.”

He tore his arm from the other’s grip, and looked almost as if he would strike him now.

“You should have done it,” said Andre-Louis. “It’s in your part.”

With an imprecation Leandre turned on his heel to go. Andre-Louis arrested his departure.

“A moment, my friend. Test me by yourself. Would you marry her now?”

“Would I?” The young man’s eyes blazed with passion. “Would I? Let her say that she will marry me, and I am her slave.”

“Slave is the right word—a slave in hell.”

“It would never be hell to me where she was, whatever she had done. I love her, man, I am not like you. I love her, do you hear me?”

“I have known it for some time,” said Andre-Louis. “Though I didn’t suspect your attack of the disease to be quite so violent. Well, God knows I loved her, too, quite enough to share your thirst for killing. For myself, the blue blood of La Tour d’Azyr would hardly quench this thirst. I should like to add to it the dirty fluid that flows in the veins of the unspeakable Binet.”

For a second his emotion had been out of hand, and he revealed to Leandre in the mordant tone of those last words something of the fires that burned under his icy exterior. The young man caught him by the hand.

“I knew you were acting,” said he. “You feel—you feel as I do.”

“Behold us, fellows in viciousness. I have betrayed myself, it seems. Well, and what now? Do you want to see this pretty Marquis torn limb from limb? I might afford you the spectacle.”

“What?” Leandre stared, wondering was this another of Scaramouche’s cynicisms.

“It isn’t really difficult provided I have aid. I require only a little. Will you lend it me?”

“Anything you ask,” Leandre exploded. “My life if you require it.”

Andre-Louis took his arm again. “Let us walk,” he said. “I will instruct you.”

When they came back the company was already at dinner. Mademoiselle had not yet returned. Sullenness presided at the table. Columbine and Madame wore anxious expressions. The fact was that relations between Binet and his troupe were daily growing more strained.

Andre-Louis and Leandre went each to his accustomed place. Binet’s little eyes followed them with a malicious gleam, his thick lips pouted into a crooked smile.

“You two are grown very friendly of a sudden,” he mocked.

“You are a man of discernment, Binet,” said Scaramouche, the cold loathing of his voice itself an insult. “Perhaps you discern the reason?”

“It is readily discerned.”

“Regale the company with it!” he begged; and waited. “What? You hesitate? Is it possible that there are limits to your shamelessness?”

Binet reared his great head. “Do you want to quarrel with me, Scaramouche?” Thunder was rumbling in his deep voice.

“Quarrel? You want to laugh. A man doesn’t quarrel with creatures like you. We all know the place held in the public esteem by complacent husbands. But, in God’s name, what place is there at all for complacent fathers?”

Binet heaved himself up, a great towering mass of manhood. Violently he shook off the restraining hand of Pierrot who sat on his left.

“A thousand devils!” he roared; “if you take that tone with me, I’ll break every bone in your filthy body.”

“If you were to lay a finger on me, Binet, you would give me the only provocation I still need to kill you.” Andre-Louis was as calm as ever, and therefore the more menacing. Alarm stirred the company. He protruded from his pocket the butt of a pistol—newly purchased. “I go armed, Binet. It is only fair to give you warning. Provoke me as you have suggested, and I’ll kill you with no more compunction than I should kill a slug, which after all is the thing you most resemble—a slug, Binet; a fat, slimy body; foulness without soul and without intelligence. When I come to think of it I can’t suffer to sit at table with you. It turns my stomach.”

He pushed away his platter and got up. “I’ll go and eat at the ordinary below stairs.”

Thereupon up jumped Columbine.

“And I’ll come with you, Scaramouche!” cried she.

It acted like a signal. Had the thing been concerted it couldn’t have fallen out more uniformly. Binet, in fact, was persuaded of a conspiracy. For in the wake of Columbine went Leandre, in the wake of Leandre, Polichinelle and then all the rest together, until Binet found himself sitting alone at the head of an empty table in an empty room—a badly shaken man whose rage could afford him no support against the dread by which he was suddenly invaded.

He sat down to think things out, and he was still at that melancholy occupation when perhaps a half-hour later his daughter entered the room, returned at last from her excursion.

She looked pale, even a little scared—in reality excessively self-conscious now that the ordeal of facing all the company awaited her.

Seeing no one but her father in the room, she checked on the threshold.

“Where is everybody?” she asked, in a voice rendered natural by effort.

M. Binet reared his great head and turned upon her eyes that were blood-injected. He scowled, blew out his thick lips and made harsh noises in his throat. Yet he took stock of her, so graceful and comely and looking so completely the lady of fashion in her long fur-trimmed travelling coat of bottle green, her muff and her broad hat adorned by a sparkling Rhinestone buckle above her adorably coiffed brown hair. No need to fear the future whilst he owned such a daughter, let Scaramouche play what tricks he would.

He expressed, however, none of these comforting reflections.

“So you’re back at last, little fool,” he growled in greeting. “I was beginning to ask myself if we should perform this evening. It wouldn’t greatly have surprised me if you had not returned in time. Indeed, since you have chosen to play the fine hand you held in your own way and scorning my advice, nothing can surprise me.”

She crossed the room to the table, and leaning against it, looked down upon him almost disdainfully.

“I have nothing to regret,” she said.

“So every fool says at first. Nor would you admit it if you had. You are like that. You go your own way in spite of advice from older heads. Death of my life, girl, what do you know of men?”

“I am not complaining,” she reminded him.

“No, but you may be presently, when you discover that you would have done better to have been guided by your old father. So long as your Marquis languished for you, there was nothing you could not have done with the fool. So long as you let him have no more than your fingertips to kiss... ah, name of a name! that was the time to build your future. If you live to be a thousand you’ll never have such a chance again, and you’ve squandered it, for what?”

Mademoiselle sat down.—“You’re sordid,” she said, with disgust.

“Sordid, am I?” His thick lips curled again. “I have had enough of the dregs of life, and so I should have thought have you. You held a hand on which to have won a fortune if you had played it as I bade you. Well, you’ve played it, and where’s the fortune? We can whistle for that as a sailor whistles for wind. And, by Heaven, we’ll need to whistle presently if the weather in the troupe continues as it’s set in. That scoundrel Scaramouche has been at his ape’s tricks with them. They’ve suddenly turned moral. They won’t sit at table with me any more.” He was spluttering between anger and sardonic mirth. “It was your friend Scaramouche set them the example of that. He threatened my life actually. Threatened my life! Called me... Oh, but what does that matter? What matters is that the next thing to happen to us will be that the Binet Troupe will discover it can manage without M. Binet and his daughter. This scoundrelly bastard I’ve befriended has little by little robbed me of everything. It’s in his power to-day to rob me of my troupe, and the knave’s ungrateful enough and vile enough to make use of his power.

“Let him,” said mademoiselle contemptuously.

“Let him?” He was aghast. “And what’s to become of us?”

“In no case will the Binet Troupe interest me much longer,” said she. “I shall be going to Paris soon. There are better theatres there than the Feydau. There’s Mlle. Montansier’s theatre in the Palais Royal; there’s the Ambigu Comique; there’s the Comedie Francaise; there’s even a possibility I may have a theatre of my own.”

His eyes grew big for once. He stretched out a fat hand, and placed it on one of hers. She noticed that it trembled.

“Has he promised that? Has he promised?”

She looked at him with her head on one side, eyes sly and a queer little smile on her perfect lips.

“He did not refuse me when I asked it,” she answered, with conviction that all was as she desired it.

“Bah!” He withdrew his hand, and heaved himself up. There was disgust on his face. “He did not refuse!” he mocked her; and then with passion: “Had you acted as I advised you, he would have consented to anything that you asked, and what is more he would have provided anything that you asked—anything that lay within his means, and they are inexhaustible. You have changed a certainty into a possibility, and I hate possibilities—God of God! I have lived on possibilities, and infernally near starved on them.”

Had she known of the interview taking place at that moment at the Chateau de Sautron she would have laughed less confidently at her father’s gloomy forebodings. But she was destined never to know, which indeed was the cruellest punishment of all. She was to attribute all the evil that of a sudden overwhelmed her, the shattering of all the future hopes she had founded upon the Marquis and the sudden disintegration of the Binet Troupe, to the wicked interference of that villain Scaramouche.

She had this much justification that possibly, without the warning from M. de Sautron, the Marquis would have found in the events of that evening at the Theatre Feydau a sufficient reason for ending an entanglement that was fraught with too much unpleasant excitement, whilst the breaking-up of the Binet Troupe was most certainly the result of Andre-Louis’ work. But it was not a result that he intended or even foresaw.

So much was this the case that in the interval after the second act, he sought the dressing-room shared by Polichinelle and Rhodomont. Polichinelle was in the act of changing.

“I shouldn’t trouble to change,” he said. “The piece isn’t likely to go beyond my opening scene of the next act with Leandre.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll see.” He put a paper on Polichinelle’s table amid the grease-paints. “Cast your eye over that. It’s a sort of last will and testament in favour of the troupe. I was a lawyer once; the document is in order. I relinquish to all of you the share produced by my partnership in the company.”

“But you don’t mean that you are leaving us?” cried Polichinelle in alarm, whilst Rhodomont’s sudden stare asked the same question.

Scaramouche’s shrug was eloquent. Polichinelle ran on gloomily: “Of course it was to have been foreseen. But why should you be the one to go? It is you who have made us; and it is you who are the real head and brains of the troupe; it is you who have raised it into a real theatrical company. If any one must go, let it be Binet—Binet and his infernal daughter. Or if you go, name of a name! we all go with you!”

“Aye,” added Rhodomont, “we’ve had enough of that fat scoundrel.”

“I had thought of it, of course,” said Andre-Louis. “It was not vanity, for once; it was trust in your friendship. After to-night we may consider it again, if I survive.”

“If you survive?” both cried.

Polichinelle got up. “Now, what madness have you in mind?” he asked.

“For one thing I think I am indulging Leandre; for another I am pursuing an old quarrel.”

The three knocks sounded as he spoke.

“There, I must go. Keep that paper, Polichinelle. After all, it may not be necessary.”

He was gone. Rhodomont stared at Polichinelle. Polichinelle stared at Rhodomont.

“What the devil is he thinking of?” quoth the latter.

“That is most readily ascertained by going to see,” replied Polichinelle. He completed changing in haste, and despite what Scaramouche had said; and then followed with Rhodomont.

As they approached the wings a roar of applause met them coming from the audience. It was applause and something else; applause on an unusual note. As it faded away they heard the voice of Scaramouche ringing clear as a bell:

“And so you see, my dear M. Leandre, that when you speak of the Third Estate, it is necessary to be more explicit. What precisely is the Third Estate?”

“Nothing,” said Leandre.

There was a gasp from the audience, audible in the wings, and then swiftly followed Scaramouche’s next question:

“True. Alas! But what should it be?”

“Everything,” said Leandre.

The audience roared its acclamations, the more violent because of the unexpectedness of that reply.

“True again,” said Scaramouche. “And what is more, that is what it will be; that is what it already is. Do you doubt it?”

“I hope it,” said the schooled Leandre.

“You may believe it,” said Scaramouche, and again the acclamations rolled into thunder.

Polichinelle and Rhodomont exchanged glances: indeed, the former winked, not without mirth.

“Sacred name!” growled a voice behind them. “Is the scoundrel at his political tricks again?”

They turned to confront M. Binet. Moving with that noiseless tread of his, he had come up unheard behind them, and there he stood now in his scarlet suit of Pantaloon under a trailing bedgown, his little eyes glaring from either side of his false nose. But their attention was held by the voice of Scaramouche. He had stepped to the front of the stage.

“He doubts it,” he was telling the audience. “But then this M. Leandre is himself akin to those who worship the worm-eaten idol of Privilege, and so he is a little afraid to believe a truth that is becoming apparent to all the world. Shall I convince him? Shall I tell him how a company of noblemen backed by their servants under arms—six hundred men in all—sought to dictate to the Third Estate of Rennes a few short weeks ago? Must I remind him of the martial front shown on that occasion by the Third Estate, and how they swept the streets clean of that rabble of nobles—cette canaille noble...”

Applause interrupted him. The phrase had struck home and caught. Those who had writhed under that infamous designation from their betters leapt at this turning of it against the nobles themselves.

“But let me tell you of their leader—le pins noble de cette canaille, ou bien le plus canaille de ces nobles! You know him—that one. He fears many things, but the voice of truth he fears most. With such as him the eloquent truth eloquently spoken is a thing instantly to be silenced. So he marshalled his peers and their valetailles, and led them out to slaughter these miserable bourgeois who dared to raise a voice. But these same miserable bourgeois did not choose to be slaughtered in the streets of Rennes. It occurred to them that since the nobles decreed that blood should flow, it might as well be the blood of the nobles. They marshalled themselves too—this noble rabble against the rabble of nobles—and they marshalled themselves so well that they drove M. de La Tour d’Azyr and his warlike following from the field with broken heads and shattered delusions. They sought shelter at the hands of the Cordeliers; and the shavelings gave them sanctuary in their convent—those who survived, among whom was their proud leader, M. de La Tour d’Azyr. You have heard of this valiant Marquis, this great lord of life and death?”

The pit was in an uproar a moment. It quieted again as Scaramouche continued:

“Oh, it was a fine spectacle to see this mighty hunter scuttling to cover like a hare, going to earth in the Cordelier Convent. Rennes has not seen him since. Rennes would like to see him again. But if he is valorous, he is also discreet. And where do you think he has taken refuge, this great nobleman who wanted to see the streets of Rennes washed in the blood of its citizens, this man who would have butchered old and young of the contemptible canaille to silence the voice of reason and of liberty that presumes to ring through France to-day? Where do you think he hides himself? Why, here in Nantes.”

Again there was uproar.

“What do you say? Impossible? Why, my friends, at this moment he is here in this theatre—skulking up there in that box. He is too shy to show himself—oh, a very modest gentleman. But there he is behind the curtains. Will you not show yourself to your friends, M. de La Tour d’Azyr, Monsieur le Marquis who considers eloquence so very dangerous a gift? See, they would like a word with you; they do not believe me when I tell them that you are here.”

Now, whatever he may have been, and whatever the views held on the subject by Andre-Louis, M. de La Tour d’Azyr was certainly not a coward. To say that he was hiding in Nantes was not true. He came and went there openly and unabashed. It happened, however, that the Nantais were ignorant until this moment of his presence among them. But then he would have disdained to have informed them of it just as he would have disdained to have concealed it from them.

Challenged thus, however, and despite the ominous manner in which the bourgeois element in the audience had responded to Scaramouche’s appeal to its passions, despite the attempts made by Chabrillane to restrain him, the Marquis swept aside the curtain at the side of the box, and suddenly showed himself, pale but self-contained and scornful as he surveyed first the daring Scaramouche and then those others who at sight of him had given tongue to their hostility.

Hoots and yells assailed him, fists were shaken at him, canes were brandished menacingly.

“Assassin! Scoundrel! Coward! Traitor!”

But he braved the storm, smiling upon them his ineffable contempt. He was waiting for the noise to cease; waiting to address them in his turn. But he waited in vain, as he very soon perceived.

The contempt he did not trouble to dissemble served but to goad them on.

In the pit pandemonium was already raging. Blows were being freely exchanged; there were scuffling groups, and here and there swords were being drawn, but fortunately the press was too dense to permit of their being used effectively. Those who had women with them and the timid by nature were making haste to leave a house that looked like becoming a cockpit, where chairs were being smashed to provide weapons, and parts of chandeliers were already being used as missiles.

One of these hurled by the hand of a gentleman in one of the boxes narrowly missed Scaramouche where he stood, looking down in a sort of grim triumph upon the havoc which his words had wrought. Knowing of what inflammable material the audience was composed, he had deliberately flung down amongst them the lighted torch of discord, to produce this conflagration.

He saw men falling quickly into groups representative of one side or the other of this great quarrel that already was beginning to agitate the whole of France. Their rallying cries were ringing through the theatre.

“Down with the canaille!” from some.

“Down with the privileged!” from others.

And then above the general din one cry rang out sharply and insistently:

“To the box! Death to the butcher of Rennes! Death to La Tour d’Azyr who makes war upon the people!”

There was a rush for one of the doors of the pit that opened upon the staircase leading to the boxes.

And now, whilst battle and confusion spread with the speed of fire, overflowing from the theatre into the street itself, La Tour d’Azyr’s box, which had become the main object of the attack of the bourgeoisie, had also become the rallying ground for such gentlemen as were present in the theatre and for those who, without being men of birth themselves, were nevertheless attached to the party of the nobles.

La Tour d’Azyr had quitted the front of the box to meet those who came to join him. And now in the pit one group of infuriated gentlemen, in attempting to reach the stage across the empty orchestra, so that they might deal with the audacious comedian who was responsible for this explosion, found themselves opposed and held back by another group composed of men to whose feelings Andre-Louis had given expression.

Perceiving this, and remembering the chandelier, he turned to Leandre, who had remained beside him.

“I think it is time to be going,” said he.

Leandre, looking ghastly under his paint, appalled by the storm which exceeded by far anything that his unimaginative brain could have conjectured, gurgled an inarticulate agreement. But it looked as if already they were too late, for in that moment they were assailed from behind.

M. Binet had succeeded at last in breaking past Polichinelle and Rhodomont, who in view of his murderous rage had been endeavouring to restrain him. Half a dozen gentlemen, habitues of the green-room, had come round to the stage to disembowel the knave who had created this riot, and it was they who had flung aside those two comedians who hung upon Binet. After him they came now, their swords out; but after them again came Polichinelle, Rhodomont, Harlequin, Pierrot, Pasquariel, and Basque the artist, armed with such implements as they could hastily snatch up, and intent upon saving the man with whom they sympathized in spite of all, and in whom now all their hopes were centred.

Well ahead rolled Binet, moving faster than any had ever seen him move, and swinging the long cane from which Pantaloon is inseparable.

“Infamous scoundrel!” he roared. “You have ruined me! But, name of a name, you shall pay!”

Andre-Louis turned to face him. “You confuse cause with effect,” said he. But he got no farther... Binet’s cane, viciously driven, descended and broke upon his shoulder. Had he not moved swiftly aside as the blow fell it must have taken him across the head, and possibly stunned him. As he moved, he dropped his hand to his pocket, and swift upon the cracking of Binet’s breaking cane came the crack of the pistol with which Andre-Louis replied.

“You had your warning, you filthy pander!” he cried. And on the word he shot him through the body.

Binet went down screaming, whilst the fierce Polichinelle, fiercer than ever in that moment of fierce reality, spoke quickly into Andre-Louis’ ear:

“Fool! So much was not necessary! Away with you now, or you’ll leave your skin here! Away with you!”

Andre-Louis thought it good advice, and took it. The gentlemen who had followed Binet in that punitive rush upon the stage, partly held in check by the improvised weapons of the players, partly intimidated by the second pistol that Scaramouche presented, let him go. He gained the wings, and here found himself faced by a couple of sergeants of the watch, part of the police that was already invading the theatre with a view to restoring order. The sight of them reminded him unpleasantly of how he must stand towards the law for this night’s work, and more particularly for that bullet lodged somewhere in Binet’s obese body. He flourished his pistol.

“Make way, or I’ll burn your brains!” he threatened them, and intimidated, themselves without firearms, they fell back and let him pass. He slipped by the door of the green-room, where the ladies of the company had shut themselves in until the storm should be over, and so gained the street behind the theatre. It was deserted. Down this he went at a run, intent on reaching the inn for clothes and money, since it was impossible that he should take the road in the garb of Scaramouche.

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