He stared at me, and for an instant I thought that he was going to quarrel with me. Then he asked me why.
I was not sorry to have this opportunity of at once increasing his uneasiness, and requiting his arrogance. "Because," I said, "this young man appears to me to be very much out of the common. Hitherto, whatever he has said he would do, he has done. You remember Crillon? Well, I trace a likeness. St. Mesmin has much of his headlong temper and savage determination. If you will take my advice, you will proceed with caution."
M. de Saintonge, receiving an answer so little to his mind, was almost bursting with rage. "Proceed with caution!" he cried. "You talk as if the thing could be entertained, or as if I had cause to fear the coxcomb! On the contrary, I intend to teach him a lesson a little confinement will cool his temper. You must give me a letter, my friend, and we will clap him in the Bastille for a month or two."
"Impossible," I said firmly. "Quite impossible, M. le Marquis."
M. de Saintonge looked at me, frowning. "How?" he said arrogantly. "Have my services earned no better answer than that?"
"You forget," I replied. "Let me remind you that less than a month ago you asked me not to interfere with St. Mesmin; and at your instance I refused to accede to M. de Clan's request that I would confine him. You were then all for non-interference, M. de Saintonge, and I cannot blow hot and cold. Besides, to be plain with you," I continued, "even if that were not the case, this young fellow is in a manner under my protection; which renders it impossible for me to move against him. If you like, however, I will speak to him."
"Speak to him!" M. de Saintonge cried. He was breathless with rage. He could say no more. It may be imagined how unpalatable my answer was to him.
But I was not disposed to endure his presumption and ill-temper beyond a certain point; and feeling no sympathy with him in a difficulty which he had brought upon himself by his spitefulness, I answered him roundly. "Yes," I said," I will speak to him, if you please. But not otherwise. I can assure you, I should not do it for everyone."
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