As soon as you please, therefore, your Grace," said De Wardes, who drew his sword, a movement imitated by the duke.
Let us go on, if you please." And disengaging his sword with a sinister clashing of the blade, the duke wounded the marquis in the breast.
De Wardes tottered, his knees gave way beneath him, and leaving his sword still fixed in the duke's arm, he fell into the water, which was soon crimsoned with a more genuine reflection than that which it had borrowed from the clouds.
The duke immediately began to carry his late antagonist towards the shore.
Then the duke put to Pistache this difficult question, who was the greatest thief in the world?
"Then is it not," resumed the duke, "the Superintendent Emery, who gave his son, when he was married, three hundred thousand francs and a house, compared to which the Tuileries are a heap of ruins and the Louvre a paltry building?"
"Gentlemen, you see," said the duke to those present, who dared not even smile, "that it is the `Illustrious Coxcomb' who is the greatest thief in the world; at least, according to Pistache."
"Gentlemen!" -- there was a profound silence in the room when the duke again addressed them -- "do you not remember that the Duc de Guise taught all the dogs in Paris to jump for Mademoiselle de Pons, whom he styled `the fairest of the fair?' Pistache is going to show you how superior he is to all other dogs.
The Duke drove down to the House, but called first in Downing Street.
"It is the most remarkable case I ever heard of in my life," the Duke admitted, helping himself to a cigarette from a box which he had just discovered.
"They don't suggest, I suppose," the Duke asked, "that we are not trying to clear the matter up?"
The Duke assented, and waited while the secretary locked up the papers which the Prime Minister had been examining, and prepared others to be carried into the House.