Open main menu

Page:Sketches by Mark Twain.djvu/17

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

seldom been surpassed by statues. Then he said, in his deep bass tones,—

"Behold, I am calm, I am ready; reveal to me the distance."

"Thirty-five yards."

I could not lift him up, of course; but I rolled him over, and poured water down his back. He presently came too, and said,—

"Thirty-five yards,—without a rest? But why ask? Since murder was that man's intention, why should he palter with small details? But mark you one thing: in my fall the world shall see how the chivalry of France meets death."

After a long silence he asked,—

"Was nothing said about that man's family standing up with him as an offset to my bulk? But no matter; I would not stoop to make such a suggestion; if he is not noble enough to suggest it himself, he is welcome to this advantage, which no honourable man would take."

He now sank into a sort of stupor of reflection, which lasted some minutes; after which he broke silence with,—

"The hour, what is the hour fixed for the collision?"

"Dawn, to-morrow."

He seemed to be greatly surprised, and immediately said,

"Insanity! I never heard of such a thing. Nobody is abroad at such an hour."

"That is the reason I named it. Do you mean to say you want an audience?"

"It is no time to bandy words. I am astonished that