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The Honor of the Name

Chapter 41
One must have lived in the country to know with what inconceivable rapidity news flies
from mouth to mouth.
Strange as it may seem, the news of the scene at the chateau reached Father Poignot's
farm-house that same evening.
It had not been three hours since Maurice, Jean Lacheneur and Bavois left the house,
promising to re-cross the frontier that same night.
Abbe Midon had decided to say nothing to M. d'Escorval of his son's return, and to
conceal Marie-Anne's presence in the house. The baron's condition was so critical that the
merest trifle might turn the scale.
About ten o'clock the baron fell asleep, and the abbe and Mme. d'Escorval went
downstairs to talk with Marie-Anne. As they were sitting there Poignot's eldest son
entered in a state of great excitement.
After supper he had gone with some of his acquaintances to admire the splendors of the
fete, and he now came rushing back to relate the strange events of the evening to his
father's guests.
"It is inconceivable!" murmured the abbe.
He knew but too well, and the others comprehended it likewise, that these strange events
rendered their situation more perilous than ever.
"I cannot understand how Maurice could commit such an act of folly after what I had just
said to him. The baron's most cruel enemy has been his own son. We must wait until to-
morrow before deciding upon anything."
The next day they heard of the meeting at the Reche. A peasant who, from a distance, had
witnessed the preliminaries of the duel which had not been fought, was able to give them
the fullest details.
He had seen the two adversaries take their places, then the soldiers run to the spot, and
afterward pursue Maurice, Jean and Bavois.
But he was sure that the soldiers had not overtaken them. He had met them five hours
afterward, harassed and furious; and the officer in charge of the expedition declared their
failure to be the fault of the Marquis de Sairmeuse, who had detained them.
That same day Father Poignot informed the abbe that the Duc de Sairmeuse and the
Marquis de Courtornieu were at variance. It was the talk of the country. The marquis had
 
 
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