"Perfection is a full stop .... Ever the climbing but never the attaining Of the mountain top." W.G.
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Chapter 6 part one
Bella and Christopher Havergal walked back slowly into the grand salon.
"I was damn near involved in a duel this morning," said Havergal. "There's always duels about in this town. But it was Charlie Cranfield - Lord Cranfield -that is - who provoked it. We'd been out together, the four of us..." He paused. "Perhaps this is not a suitable story for young ladies ears."
"You must tell me at once," said Bella, "or I shall explode with frustration."
He laughed. "Well, t'was all a storm in a teacup, believe me. You see we had all been dining at Very's, which is a famous restaurant near the Palais Royal, and had been looking upon the wine when it was red, if you follow. In coming out there were some mendicants trying to sell us a variety of nasty trinkets, and Cranfield kicked their merchandise into the gutter. A Frenchman stopped to protest, and Cranfield pushed him into the gutter. Alas, the Frenchman was a captain in the 3rd Chasseurs so after an angry scene cards were exchanged for a meeting this morning."
"Oh," said Bella.
"Well, d'ye know, my dear Miss Poldark, when I got to my lodgings last night it was very late and they were all bolted and barred, so Charlie Cranfield says come home with us, Christopher, he says. So home I go with them and bed down on a sofa in front of a crackling fire. Next thing I know it is early in the morning and a hammering on the door and who should be there but our chasseur and his two friends all anxious to proceed with the duel ! Now out of the bedroom appears Charlie Cranfield himself wearing nothing but a baggy pair of trousers and a nightcap full of holes. Ye see, he is so particular to have it aired that it has got many times singed in the process. And following him comes Captain Merriman of the Leicestershires wrapped in a huge blanket and wearing his army trousers and no more; and then the other chap whose name escapes me, rubbing his eyes and whistling through the hole in his teeth that he has had bored to imitate the coachmen, and not one of the three can understand a word of what the Chasseur and his seconds are saying ! "
"Oh," said Bella, clasping her hands.
"Well, you may imagine I was much in demand as an interpreter, since I was the only one in the room with any pretensions to be bi-lingual, and I am none too fluent. But I was able to convey to Charlie Cranfield that Msieur le Chasseur wished him to choose his weapons. Now Charlie has quite forgotten all about the quarrel and what offence he gave, but he is ever ready for a bit of a fight so he says fusils. He thinks it means a duel with pistols, my dear, dear Miss Poldark, but fusil means a musket or a fowling piece, which at twenty paces would be certain Kingdom Come for the one who was slowest at pulling the trigger. Our French friends are much taken aback, but I believe are about to agree when Merriman, standing with his back to the fire, which is still glowing hot, lets go his hand upon his belt, whereupon his trousers slip down over his ankles !"
"Oh," said Bella, giggling.
"That is exactly what happened ! Everyone bursts out laughing at such a frightful sight, even the Frenchmen, and in next to no time everyone has forgiven everyone else and we all sit down with a bottle of wine that by some fortunate chance has been overlooked last night ! But this is what can happen in Paris all the time ! Do allow me to fetch you another ice."