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Charles never had received half a dozen lessons in fencing in his life. This therefore was the last way in the world he would have chosen to meet an antagonist: but he very evidently saw that the count was bent upon getting up a quarrel with him upon some score, and he did not choose to bear even the appearance of hesitation. He accordingly followed the count de to his house, which was not far, and having ascended the staircase, his antagonist introduced him into his apartments, and bade him welcome, with as much suavity and politeness as if he had invited him to supper.
A servant having lighted a handsome lamp that hung from the ceiling, and quitted the room, the count unbuckled his own sword, and producing another, offered his choice to Charles, who took the first that presented itself." They are perfectly equal,” said the count, after Charles had made his election : “ if you will remark, they are both the best German blades;"
and he held them to the light, that his companion might look at the names engraved upon them. He then proceeded to assure Charles, that the hilts were of the finest Parisian manufacture, and in the best taste: after which he pulled off his coat, as a signal that he was prepared.
Charles followed his example, and endeavoured to defend himself-proceeding warily at first, as he very plainly saw that his adversary was infinitely superior in skill to himself. At length, however, having successfully parried two or three thrusts, he ventured to lunge in return, when in a moment he was disarmed; and being deprived of the resistance he expected from his sword, he lost his balance, and came upon his knee. The count drew back his arm, and in another second his sword would have been through Mr. Melville's body, when some one coming in at the door, to which Charles's back was turned, interposed his hand, and received the point of the count's sword in VOL. I.
the palm, while Charles rose from his knee, in no small surprise, to see Mr. Wilmot.
The count was furious; but Wilmot approached close to him, and looking him sternly in the face—“ You are well aware, sir,” said he, " that you have not been contending with your match. Are you not ashamed to have retained your sword in your hand, when you saw that he did not know how to oppose you? Put up your weapon, sir-put up your weapon, and do not disgrace it again by such conduct!”
This but seemed to add to the rage into which the count had worked himself, and he vowed that he would exact satisfaction of Mr. Melville, with pistols, the next day.
“ That you shall not, sir," returned Wilmot: any
satisfaction shall be this night, from me, and at your own weapon, which I will teach you to use better for the future;" and snatching up the sword that
had been wrenched from Charles, he put himself in a posture of defence.
The count instantly attacked him, and Charles hesitated, afraid of putting either of them off their guard: but he soon perceived there was no danger of Mr. Wilmot, who parried every lunge of his adversary, with that cool ease which shewed him as superior at present, as the count had been in the former instance. In every thing he did, Nature seemed to have endowed Mr. Wilmot with a graceful quietude of action, which was the effect of excellence in all he undertook; and in the present instance, where life was the stake for which they played, there was no angry passion depicted in his countenance; there was precision, but nothing hasty in his movements: he seemed merely fencing for amusement. The count, on the other hand, attacked him with all the fierceness of anger: he tried lunge after lunge, feint after feint, till, baffled and exhausted, he was fain to defend himself; for Wilmot
now attacking in turn, gave him not a moment's rest-drove him from one side of the apartment to the other, and at length, though not without some difficulty, disarmed him.-“ Monsieur le - comte," said he to him, returning him his sword,
you have had a lesson to-night, which it may be of service for you to remember. As a very fair master of your weapon, you must be well aware that within these five minutes I have had your life at my disposal several times. For many reasons I did not choose to take advantage of such an opportunity; but you may meet with some who would not be so scrupulous. Take my advice, as a friend—when your country calls upon you to draw your sword, or your honour imperatively demands you to defend it, shew the same skill and courage you have done to-night, and you will acquire fame and dignity ; but never, sir, contend with a person, believing it to be upon unequal terms for them; for you may chance to lose. your