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131 I was roused by the opening of the door. Doltaire entered. He advanced towards me with the manner of an admired comrade, and, with no trace of what would mark him as my foe, said, as he sniffed the air: “Monsieur, I have been selfish. I asked myself to breakfast with you, yet, while I love the new experience, I will deny myself in this. You shall breakfast with me, as you pass to your new lodgings. You must not say no,” he added, as though we were in some salon. “I have a sleigh here at the door, and a fellow has already gone to fan my kitchen fires and forage for the table. Come,” he continued, “let me help you with your cloak.” He threw my cloak around me, and turned towards the door. I had not spoken a word, for what with weakness, the announcement that I was to have new lodgings, and the sudden change in my affairs, I was like a child walking in its sleep. I could do no more than bow to him and force a smile, which must have told more than aught else of my state, for he stepped to my side and offered me his arm. I drew back from that with thanks, for I felt a quick hatred of myself that I should take favours from the man who had moved for my destruction and to wickedly steal from me my promised wife. Yet it was my duty to live if Chapter XII “The Point Envenomed Too!” 132 I could, to escape if that were possible, to use every means to foil my enemies. It was all a game; why should I not accept advances at my enemy’s hands, and match dissimulation with dissimulation? When I refused his arm he smiled comically, and raised his shoulders in deprecation. “You forget your dignity, monsieur,” I said presently as we walked on, Gabord meeting us and lighting us through the passages; “you voted me a villain, a spy, at my trial!” “Technically and publicly, you are a spy, a vulgar criminal,” he replied; “privately, you are a foolish, blundering gentleman.” “A soldier also, you will admit, who keeps his compact with his enemy.” “Otherwise we should not breakfast together this morning,” he answered. “What difference would it make to this government if our private matter had been dragged in? Technically you still would have been the spy. But I will say this, monsieur, to me you are a man better worth torture than death.” “Do you ever stop to think of how this may end for you?” I asked quietly. He seemed pleased at the question. “I have thought it might be interesting,” he answered; “else, as I said, you should long ago have left this naughty world. Is it in your mind that we shall cross swords one day?” “I feel it in my bones,” said I, “that I shall kill you.” At that moment we stood at the entrance to the citadel, where a good pair of horses and a sleigh awaited us. We got in, the robes were piled around us, and the horses started off at a long trot. I was muffled to the ears, but I could see how white and beautiful was the world, how the frost glistened in the trees, how the balsams were weighted down with snow, and how snug the châteaux looked with the smoke curling up from their hunched chimneys. Presently Doltaire replied to my last remark. “Conviction is the 133 executioner of the stupid,” said he. “When a man is not great enough to let change and chance guide him he gets convictions and dies a fool.” “Conviction has made men and nations strong,” I rejoined. “Has made men and nations asses,” he retorted. “The Mohammedan has conviction, so has the Christian: they die fighting each other, and the philosopher sits by and laughs. Expediency, monsieur, expediency is the real wisdom, the true master of this world. Expediency saved your life to-day; conviction would have sent you to a starry home.” As he spoke a thought came in on me. Here we were in the open world, travelling together, without a guard of any kind. Was it not possible to make a dash for freedom? The idea was put away from me, and yet it was a fresh accent of Doltaire’s character that he tempted me in this way. As if he divined what I...


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