"Fight a duel with you! why, may I ask? You have never insulted me."
"A truce to pleasantry, sir; don't make me regret that I have shown myself more generous than you. I might have killed you just now had I wished. I could have put my pistol to your breast and fired, or said to you, 'Surrender at discretion!' as you so lately said to me."
"And what use would that have been?"
"It would have made a secret safe that you ought never to have known."
"It would have been the most unfortunate thing for you that could have happened, for if you had killed me the paper would have spoken. So! you think that if you were to assassinate me you would only have to stoop over my dead body and search my pockets, and, having found the incriminating document, destroy it. You seem to have formed no very high opinion of my intelligence and common sense. You of the upper classes don't need these qualities, the law is on, your side. But when a humble individual like myself, a mere nobody, undertakes to investigate a piece of business about which those in authority are not anxious to be enlightened, precautions are necessary. It's not enough for him to have right on his side, he must, in order to secure his own safety, make good use of his skill, courage, and knowledge. I have no desire to humiliate you a second time, so I will say no more. The paper is in the hands of my notary, and if a single day passes without his seeing me he has orders to break the seal and make the contents public. So you see chance is still on my side. But now that you are warned there is no need for me to bluster. I am quite prepared to acknowledge your superior rank, and if you insist upon it, to speak to you uncovered."
"What do you desire to know, sir?"
"How is the Chevalier de Moranges getting on?"
"Take care, commander; don't deceive me. One is so easily tempted to believe what one hopes, and I hope so strongly that I dare not believe what you say. I saw you coming out of the house, not at all with the air of a man who had just heard bad news, (quite the contrary: you looked at the sky, and rubbed your hands, and walked with a light, quick step, that did not speak of grief."