« AnteriorContinuar »
mingled portions of truth and falsehood to every quarter of the city, from the Fauxbourg St. Antoine to the Chaussée d'Antin. In one place she told an officer of the legion of — that the count had run the Englishman through the body; in another she informed a tondeur de chiens of the circumstance, who, sitting on the Pont- neuf, clipping the fur of a black poodle, recapitulated it to a man who sold squirrels, saying, that the fact was, the Englishman had very nearly killed the count; for that his sword had passed through his pink satin under-waistcoat; but after all, he had merely slit the skin. Here he was interrupted by a yell from the poodle, on whom he had been demonstrating his meaning with the point of his shears." Sacre le chien !” exclaimed the tondeur; “ he does not bear it half so well as the count.” In another place she gave it out (taking the merit of saving Charles's life from Mr. Wilmot), that an unknown stranger had whipped into the room, dis
armed the count, and then whipped out again, without uttering a word. Again it was lord Burton, who had arrived in a carriage and four from London, just in time to assist his cousin. But the edition which mademoiselle ---, the famous fortune-teller, had of it, was the most credited; which was, that the gentleman in black, who interfered in favour of the Englishman, was no other than the devil; or else how camé he in blaek; when the fashion was “ habit de drap bleu, gillet de satin couleur de rose.” To one of her most favourite pupils, of her most favouritë class, namely, the coiffeurs de dames, dame Runiour condescended to whisper something like the truth, as he bent his steps from the Rue Filles St. Thomas to: wards the Rue de Castiglione; and, as for: tune would have it, the first door he turn. ed into was that of the baroness de S into whose dressing room he was shewn. The coiffeur entered with an important step, and knowing the value of a secret,
resolved not to tell it till he was asked “ what news?” But the baroness was si. lent, and quietly placed herself to have her hair dressed. The coiffeur was longer than usual in cutting his paper into the neat triangular pieces fit for curling. But the baroness said not a word. He had even already twisted up three of the beau. tiful dark brown locks of hair ere the baroness opened her lips. But then, she said." Arrangez mes cheveux a l'Anglaise;" and that talismanic word Anglaise gave the coiffeur at once an opportunity of telling all he knew.
The whole machinery of the world turns upon combinations. The coiffeur at once conceived a train of these combinations, between Anglaise, and Charles Melville, and the duel, and the whole story; and beginning with “ Savez vous, madame," went straight through it, till he wound up the whole with “ c'est vrai, je vous assure;" while the baroness sat in mute astonishment, not knowing whether to think
it true or false. However, the tale was too interesting to her to admit of delay, and writing a short note to Mr. Melville, she dispatched it instantly to his hotel, while the coiffeur, delighted to see the anxiety he had produced, went on curling her hair, and commenting upon the text, till the baroness was out of all patience at his tediousness.
Charles did not fail to answer the note in person, and that as quickly as possible. The hand of the baroness was clasped in his the moment they met. Her eye ran over his person, as if to see he was uninjured; and though her tongue scarcely did its office in telling him how glad she was to see him safe, her smiles supplied all de- ficiencies. She made him twice repeat his story his own way_asked a thousand questions in a breath, and vowing that the count de L- should never enter her house again, she congratulated herself that no harm had befallen Charles through her heedlessness. She then de
manded how Mr. Wilmot chanced to arrive just at that moment, as he was perfectly unacquainted with the count.
“ That is easily explained,” replied Charles : “ my French servant was waiting below with my carriage. The first words that the count addressed to me were said in a tone and manner that raised his suspicion; and bidding the coachman put up his horses, he followed us into the street, where he contrived to hear all that passed, and amongst the rest, the count's invitation to his apartments, the precise situation of which he had ascertained in gossiping with the count's groom in the court-yard. With this intelligence he flew to Mr. Wilmot, and the event you. know."
" Oh, Melville!” said the baroness, "what would it have been, had your friend arrived a moment later! I dare not think of it. Surely there is some fatality, that makes me the cause of sorrow to all that I esteem. It is lucky perhaps that, we