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"Well, that is just my case," I answered. "You see this young fellow St. Mesmin was commended to me, and is, in a manner, of my household; and that is a fatal objection. I cannot possibly act against him in the manner you propose. You must see that; and for my wishes, he respects them less than your son regards yours."

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M. de Clan rose, trembling a little on his legs, and glaring at me out of his fierce old eyes. "Very well," he said, "it is as much as I expected. Times are changed--and faiths--since the King of Navarre slept under the same bush with Antoine St. Germain on the night before Cahors! I wish you good-day, M. le Marquis."

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I need not say that my sympathies were with him, and that I would have helped him if I could; but in accordance with the maxim which I have elsewhere explained, that he who places any consideration before the King's service is not fit to conduct it, I did not see my way to thwart M. de Saintonge in a matter so small. And the end justified my inaction; for the duel, taking place that evening, resulted in nothing worse than a serious, but not dangerous, wound which St. Mesmin, fighting with the same fury as in the morning, contrived to inflict on his opponent.

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For some weeks after this I saw little of the young firebrand, though from time to time he attended my receptions and invariably behaved to me with a modesty which proved that he placed some bounds to his presumption. I heard, moreover, that M. de Saintonge, in acknowledgment of the triumph over the St. Germains which he had afforded him, had taken him up; and that the connection between the families being publicly avowed, the two were much together.

Judge of my surprise, therefore, when one day a little before Christmas, M. de Saintonge sought me at the Arsenal during the preparation of the plays and interludes--which were held there that year--and, drawing me aside into the garden, broke into a furious tirade against the young fellow.

"But," I said, in immense astonishment, "what is this? I thought that he was a young man quite to your mind; and--"

"Yes, mad!" he repeated, striking the ground violently with his cane. "Stark mad, M. de Rosny. He does not know himself! What do you think--but it is inconceivable. He proposes to marry my daughter! This penniless adventurer honours Mademoiselle de Saintonge by proposing for her!"

"Pheugh!" I said. "That is serious."

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