Baron Marshal then turned to Ranuzi. "I accept your offer, sir, and rejoice to make the acquaintance of a true nobleman. Have the goodness to meet the seconds of Count Belleville, and make all necessary arrangements. I will call for you early in the morning. I only say further that it is useless to make any attempts at reconciliation--I shall not listen to them. Prussia and France are at war. My great king has made no peace--I also will not hear of it. The nutshells lie behind the fauteuil of the queen, and only the blood of Count Belleville can wash them away."
He bowed to Ranuzi, and joined his daughter, who, pale and trembling, awaited him in the next room.
"Oh, father," said she, with tears gushing from her eyes, "your life is in danger--you meet death on my account I"
"No, thank God, my child, your name will not be mixed up in this affair. No one can say that the mortified father revenged an insult offered to his daughter. I fight this duel not for you, but because of the nutshells behind the fauteuil of the queen."
Early in the morning two horsemen dashed down the Linden. Their loud conversation, their pert and noisy laughter, aroused the curiosity of the porters who stood yawning in the house-doors, and the maids opened the windows and gazed curiously at the two gallant French officers who were taking such an early ride to the Thiergarden. When the girls were young and pretty, Belleville threw them a kiss as he passed by, and commanded them to give it with his tenderest greeting to their fair mistress.
"Happily," said his companion, "these good Berliners do not understand our speech sufficiently to inform their mistresses of this last insolence of Count Belleville."
"They do not, but their mistresses do, and I cannot think that they are still sleeping. No, I am convinced they have risen early, and are now standing behind their maids, and watching us go by. In this street dwell those who call themselves society; they were at the castle yesterday, and know of this duel. I think our good marquise will one day reward me richly for this duel, when I tell her I stood behind the queen and cracked nuts like a gamin in Paris, and that I was shot at because of the nutshells. She will laugh tears--tears which I will strive to convert into diamonds for myself."
"You feel assured that you will return unharmed from this duel?"