"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!"
"I do not know that he is dead," Saintonge answered. "And, for that matter, if he were alive and here now he should have her. I am tired; I have suffered enough."
"What! Do you tell the King," the young fellow replied incredulously, "that if St. Mesmin were here you would give him your daughter?"
"I do--I do!" the other exclaimed passionately. "To be rid of him, and you, and all your crew!"
"Tut, tut!" the King said. "Whatever betides, I will answer for it, you shall have protection and justice, M. de Saintonge. And do you, young sir, be silent. Be silent, do you hear! We have had too much noise introduced into this already."
He proceeded then to ask certain details, and particularly the hour at which St. Mesmin had been last seen. Notwithstanding that these facts were in the main matters of common agreement, some wrangling took place over them; which was only brought to an end at last in a manner sufficiently startling. The King with his usual thoughtfulness had bidden St. Mesmin be seated. On a sudden the old man rose; I heard him utter a cry of amazement, and following the direction of his eyes I looked towards the door. There stood his son!
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