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CHAPTER XIV

THE SECRETARY AND THE DUKE

THOSE reflections which I set down at the end of the last paragraph drifted me somewhat from the regular thread of my narrative. This, perhaps, is not the only reason why I should stumble and shy along like a balky palfrey when I approach one of the trifling accidents which transpired immediately after our arrival at Sceaux.

Thinking now this matter over, my withered cheeks lose their ashen hue, and burn again with the hot, tumultuous blood of youth and shame. But I may as well tell it with all the resolution a man summons before plunging into an icy bath at midwinter. It came, the unexpected prelude to one long, sweet song. It was in this wise:

Jerome seemed a welcome guest at Sceaux, and from the hearty greetings, yet respectful withal, which were accorded him, must have been a man of more consideration in the world than I had heretofore supposed. Before this, I received him at his own worth, and our short acquaintance had been so filled with matters of serious moment, I made no inquiries beyond the scant

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