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Page:Sketches by Mark Twain.djvu/13

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THE RECENT GREAT FRENCH DUEL.

that in all the newspaper reports M. Gambetta's second was apparently a Frenchman.

First, we drew up my principal's will. I insisted upon this, and stuck to my point. I said I had never heard of a man in his right mind going out to fight a duel without first making his will. He said he had never heard of a man in his right mind doing anything of the kind. When we had finished the will, he wished to proceed to a choice of his "last words." He wanted to know how the following words, as a dying exclamation, struck me:—

"I die for my God, for my country, for freedom of speech, for progress, and the universal brotherhood of man!"

I objected that this would require too lingering a death; it was a good speech for a consumptive, but not suited to the exigencies of the field of honour. We wrangled over a good many ante-mortem outbursts, but I finally got him to cut his obituary down to this, which he copied into his memorandum book, purposing to get it by heart:—

"I die that France may live."

I said that this remark seemed to lack relevancy; but he said relevancy was a matter of no consequence in last words,—what you wanted was thrill.

The next thing in order was the choice of weapons My principal said he was not feeling well, and would leave that and the other details of the proposed meeting to me. Therefore I wrote the following note and carried it to M. Fourtou's friend:—

Sir: M. Gambetta accepts M. Fourtou's challenge, and authorises me to propose Plessis-Piquet as the place of