Baron Trigault's Vengeance
It was nearly midnight when M. Wilkie left the Hotel d'Argeles after the terrible
scene in which he had revealed his true character. On seeing him pass out with
haggard eyes, colorless lips, and disordered clothing, the servants gathered in
the vestibule took him at first for another of those ruined gamblers who not
unfrequently left the house with despair in their hearts.
"Another fellow who's had bad luck!" they remarked sneeringly to one another.
"No doubt about that. He is pretty effectually used up, judging from
appearances," one of them remarked.
It was not until some moments later that they learned a portion of the truth
through the servants who had been on duty upstairs, and who now ran down in
great terror, crying that Madame d'Argeles was dying, and that a physician must
be summoned at once.
M. Wilkie was already far away, hastening up the boulevard with an agile step.
Any one else would have been overcome with shame and sorrow--would have
been frightened by the thought of what he had done, and have striven to find
some way to conceal his disgrace; but he, not in the least. In this frightful crisis,
he was only conscious of one fact--that just as he raised his hand to strike
Madame Lia d'Argeles, his mother, a big, burly individual had burst into the room,
like a bombshell, caught him by the throat, forced him upon his knees, and
compelled him to ask the lady's pardon. He, Wilkie, to be humiliated in this style!
He would never endure that. This was an affront he could not swallow, one of
those insults that cry out for vengeance and for blood. "Ah! the great brute shall
pay for it," he repeated, again and again, grinding his teeth. And if he hastened
up the boulevard, it was only because he hoped to meet his two chosen friends,
M. Costard and the Viscount de Serpillon, the co-proprietors of Pompier de
For he intended to place his outraged honor in their care. They should be his
seconds, and present his demand for satisfaction to the man who had insulted
him. A duel was the only thing that could appease his furious anger and heal his
wounded pride. And a great scandal, which he would be the hero of, was not
without a certain charm for him. What a glorious chance to win notoriety at an
epoch when newspapers have become public laundries, in which every one
washes his soiled linen and dries it in the glare of publicity! He saw his already
remarkable reputation enhanced by the interest that always attaches to people
who are talked about, and he could hear in advance the flattering whisper which
would greet his appearance everywhere: "You see that young man?--he is the
hero of that famous adventure," etc. Moreover, he was already twisting and
turning the terms of the notice which his seconds must have inserted in the
Figaro, hesitating between two or three equally startling beginnings: "Another
famous duel," or "Yesterday, after a scandalous scene, an encounter," etc., etc.
Unfortunately, he did not meet either M. Costard or the Viscount de Serpillon.
Strange to say, they were not in any of the cafes, where the flower of French