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He was to be told (said Monseigneur) that
supper awaited him then and there, and that he
was prayed to come to it. In a little while, he
came. He had been known in England as Charles

Monseigneur received him in a courtly manner,
but they did not shake hands.

"You left Paris yesterday, sir?" he said to
Monseigneur, as he took his seat at table.

"Yesterday. And you?"

"I come direct."

"From London?"


"You have been a long time coming," said
the Marquis, with a smile.

"On the contrary; I come direct."

"Pardon me! I mean, not a long time on the
journey; a long time intending the journey."

"I have been detained by"—the nephew
stopped a moment in his answer—"various

"Without doubt," said the polished uncle.

So long as a servant was present, no other
word passed between them. When coffee had
been served and they were alone together, the
nephew, looking at the uncle and meeting the
eyes of the face that was like a fine mask, opened
a conversation.

"I have come back, sir, as you anticipate,
pursuing the object that took me away. It
carried me into great and unexpected peril; but
it is a sacred object, and if it had carried me to
death I hope it would have sustained me."

"Not to death," said the uncle; "it is not
necessary to say, to death."

"I doubt, sir," returned the nephew, "whether,
if it had carried me to the utmost brink of death,
you would have cared to stop me there."

The deepened marks in the nose, and the lengthening
of the fine straight lines in the cruel face,
looked ominous as to that; the uncle made a
graceful gesture of protest, which was so clearly
a slight form of good breeding that it was not

"Indeed, sir," pursued the nephew, "for
anything I know, you may have expressly worked
to give a more suspicious appearance to the
suspicious circumstances that surrounded me."

"No, no, no," said the uncle, pleasantly.

"But, however that may be," resumed the
nephew, glancing at him with deep distrust, "I
know that your diplomacy would stop me by any
means, and would know no scruple as to means."

"My friend, I told you so," said the uncle,
with a fine pulsation in the two marks. "Do
me the favour to recal that I told you so, long

"I recal it."

"Thank you," said the Marquisvery sweetly

His tone lingered in the air, almost like the
tone of a musical instrument.

"In effect, sir," pursued the nephew, "I
believe it to be at once your bad fortune, and my
good fortune, that has kept me out of a prison
in France here."

"I do not quite understand," returned the
uncle, sipping his coffee. "Dare I ask you to

"I believe that if you were not in disgrace
with the court, and had not been overshadowed
by that cloud for years past, a letter de cachet
would have sent me to some fortress indefinitely."

"It is possible," said the uncle, with great
calmness. "For the honour of the family, I
could even resolve to incommode you to that
extent. Pray excuse me!"

"I perceive that, happily for me, the
Reception of the day before yesterday was, as
usual, a cold one," observed the nephew.

"I would not say happily, my friend," returned
the uncle, with refined politeness; "I would
not be sure of that. A good opportunity
for consideration, surrounded by the advantages
of solitude, might influence your destiny to far
greater advantage than you influence it for
yourself. But it is useless to discuss the question.
I am, as you say, at a disadvantage. These little
instruments of correction, these gentle aids to
the power and honour of families, these slight
favours that might so incommode you, are only
to be obtained now by interest and importunity.
They are sought by so many, and they are granted
(comparatively) to so few! It used not to be
so, but France in all such things is changed for
the worse. Our not remote ancestors held the
right of life and death over the surrounding
vulgar. From this room, many such dogs have
been taken out to be hanged; in the next room
(my bedroom), one fellow, to our knowledge, was
poniarded on the spot for professing some
insolent delicacy respecting his daughterhis
daughter! We have lost many privileges; a
new philosophy has become the mode; and the
assertion of our station, in these days, might
(I do not go so far as to say would, but might)
cause us real inconvenience. All very bad, very

The Marquis took a gentle little pinch of
snuff, and shook his head; as elegantly
despondent as he could becomingly be, of a country
still containing himself, that great means of

"We have so asserted our station, both in the
old time and in the modern time also," said the
nephew, gloomily, "that I believe our name to
be more detested than any name in France."

"Let us hope so," said the uncle. "Detestation
of the high, is the involuntary homage of the low."

"There is not," pursued the nephew in his
former tone, "a face I can look at, in all this
country round about us, which looks at me with
any deference on it but the dark deference of
fear and slavery."

"A compliment," said the Marquis, "to the
grandeur of the family, merited by the manner
in which the family has sustained its grandeur.
Hah!" And he took another gentle little pinch
of snuff, and lightly crossed his legs.

But, when his nephew, leaning an elbow on
the table, covered his eyes thoughtfully and
dejectedly with his hand, the fine mask looked
at him sideways, with a stronger concentration