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Page:Sketches by Mark Twain.djvu/11

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SKETCHES BY MARK TWAIN.

THE RECENT GREAT FRENCH DUEL.




MUCH as the modern French duel is ridiculed by certain smart people, it is in reality one of the most dangerous institutions of our day. Since it is always fought in the open air, the combatants are nearly sure to catch cold. M. Paul de Cassagnac, the most inveterate of the French duellists, has suffered so often in this way that he is at last a confirmed invalid; and the best physician in Paris has expressed the opinion that if he goes on duelling for fifteen or twenty years more, unless he forms the habit of fighting in a comfortable room where damps and draughts cannot intrude he will eventually endanger his life. This ought to moderate the talk of those people who are so stubborn in maintaining that the French duel is the most health-giving of recreations because of the open air exercise it affords. And it ought also to moderate that foolish talk about French duellists and socialist-hated monarchs being the only people who are immortal.