He agreed with me and chose to receive them next day at the Arsenal. I communicated his commands, and at the hour named we met, the King attended by Roquelaure and myself. But if I had flattered myself that the King's presence would secure a degree of moderation and reasonableness I was soon undeceived; for though M. de St. Mesmin had only his trembling head and his tears to urge, Clan and his son fell upon Saintonge with so much violence--to which he responded by a fierce and resentful sullenness equally dangerous--that I feared that blows would be struck even before the King's face. Lest this should happen and the worst traditions of old days of disorder be renewed, I interposed and managed at length to procure silence.
"For shame, gentlemen, for shame!" the King said, gnawing his moustachios after a fashion he had when in doubt. "I take Heaven to witness that I cannot say who is right! But this brawling does no good. The one fact we have is that St. Mesmin has disappeared."
"Yes, sire; and that M. de Saintonge predicted his disappearance," St. Germain cried, impulsively. "To the day and almost to the hour."
"I gather, de Saintonge," the King said, turning to him, mildly, "that you did use some expressions of that kind."
"Yes, sire, and did nothing upon them," he answered resentfully. But he trembled as he spoke. He was an older man than his antagonist, and the latter's violence shook him.
"But does M. de Saintonge deny," St. Germain broke out afresh before the King could speak, "that my friend had made him a proposal for his daughter? and that he rejected it?"
"I deny nothing!" Saintonge cried, fierce and trembling as a baited animal. "For that matter, I would to Heaven he had had her!" he continued bitterly.
"Ay, so you say now," the irrepressible St. Germain retorted, "when you know that be is dead!"
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