Forgive me, I said.
Then he was completely aghast.
Your honour sir, what are you doing? Am I worth it?
And he burst out crying as I had done before, hid his face in his hands, turned to the window and shook all over with his sobs. I flew out to my comrade and jumped into the carriage.
Ready, I cried. Have you ever seen a conqueror? I asked him. Here is one before you.
I was in ecstasy, laughing and talking all the way, I dont remember what about.
He looked at me. Well, brother, you are a plucky fellow, youll keep up the honour of the uniform, I can see.
So we reached the place and found them there, waiting us. We were placed twelve paces apart; he had the first shot. I stood gaily, looking him full in the face; I did not twitch an eyelash. I looked lovingly at him, for I knew what I would do. His shot just grazed my cheek and ear.
Thank God, I cried, no man has been killed, and I seized my pistol, turned back and flung it far away into the wood.
Thats the place for you, I cried.
I turned to my adversary.
Forgive me, young fool that I am, sir, I said, for my unprovoked insult to you and for forcing you to fire at me. I am ten times worse than you and more, maybe. Tell that to the person whom you hold dearest in the world.
I had no sooner said this than they all three shouted at me.
Upon my word, cried my adversary, annoyed, if you did not want to fight, why did not you let me alone?
Yesterday I was a fool, to-day I know better, I answered him gaily.
As to yesterday, I believe you, but as for to-day, it is difficult to agree with your opinion, said he.
Bravo, I cried, clapping my hands. I agree with you there too, I have deserved it!
Will you shoot, sir, or not?
No, I wont, I said, if you like, fire at me again, but it would be better for you not to fire.
The seconds, especially mine, were shouting too: Can you disgrace the regiment like this, facing your antagonist and begging his forgiveness! If Id only known this!
I stood facing them all, not laughing now.
Gentlemen, I said, is it really so wonderful in these days to find a man who can repent of his stupidity and publicly confess his wrong-doing?
But not in a duel, cried my second again.
Thats whats so strange, I said. For I ought to have owned my fault as soon as I got here, before he had fired a shot, before leading him into a great and deadly sin; but we have made our life so grotesque,
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|