"I suspected so, "said Ranuzi, with his accustomed calm and quiet manner, "therefore I anticipated you. The right is certainly on the side of Baron Marshal, and in offering myself as his second. I do so in the name of all the Austrian officers who are present. They have all seen the events of this evening with painful indignation. Without doubt the world will soon be acquainted with them; we wish to make an open, public demonstration that we wholly disapprove the conduct of the French officers. The nutshells thrown behind the fauteuil of the queen have made us your adversaries, Count Belleville."
"That is not the occasion of this duel, but the affront offered me by Baron Marshal," cried Belleville. "This being the case, will you still be the second of my opponent?"
"I was compelled to insult you," said Baron Marshal, "because you would have given me no satisfaction for the nutshells thrown behind the fauteuil of the queen; but be assured that I don't fight with you in order that you may wash out my offence with my blood, but wholly and alone that your blood may wash away the nutshells from the feet of the queen."
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.