"Yes, I cannot doubt it. I always won the prize at our pistol- shooting in Paris, and then, this stupid Dutchman is, without doubt, horrified at the thought of shooting at a man, and not at a mark. No, vraiment, I do not doubt but I shall be victorious, and I rejoice in anticipation of that dejeuner dinatoire with which my friends will celebrate it."
"But," said his second, "let us for a moment suppose that you are not victorious; one must ever be prepared in this poor world, ruled by accident, for the worst that can befall. In case you fall, have you no last commissions to give me?"
Count Belleville stopped his horse as they were in the act of entering the garden.
"You positively insist on burying me? Well, then. I will make my last will. In case I fall go instantly to my quarters, open my writing-desk, and press upon a small button you will see on the left side; there you will find letters and papers; tie them carefully, and send them in the usual way to Countess Bernis. As to my heritage, you know I have no gold; I leave nothing but debts My clothes you can give to my faithful servant, Francois; for the last year I have paid him no wages Now my testament is made--no, stop, I had forgotten the most important item. Should the inconceivable, the unimaginable happen, should this Dutch village--devil slay me, I make it the duty of the French officers here to revenge me on the haughty daughter of my adversary, and on all these dull and prudish beauties. They must carry out what I intended yesterday. I have drawn a few sketches and added a few notes; make as many copies as are required, and paste them on the designated places. If I fall, this must be done the following night, that my wandering soul may find repose in the sweet consciousness of revenge. If my enemy's ball strikes me, hasten forward, and, before any one dares lay his hand upon me, take from my breast-pocket a paper, which you will find there, and conceal it; it is the drawing, and it is my legacy to my comrades. Swear to me to do as I have said."
"And now, mon ami, let us forget this stupid thought of death, and look life saucily and merrily in the face. Life will not have the courage to break with a brave son of la belle France."
Belleville drew his bridle suddenly, and sprang through the gate into the garden; turning to the right, they rode for some time under the shadow of the trees, then through a side allee, which led to an open place surrounded by lofty oaks. At this moment he heard the roll of an open carriage, and turning, he saluted gayly the two gentlemen who were seated in it; he checked his horse suddenly in order to ride by their side, and provoking the beautiful and noble beast by the rude use of his spurs, he forced it into many difficult and artistic evolutions. Arrived at the place of rendezvous, he sprang lightly from the saddle and fastened his horse to a tree, then drew near Baron Marshal, who, with Ranuzi, was just descending from the carriage.
"No man could be more prudent than yourself, sir," said he, laughing, "to come to a rendezvous in a carriage; truly, that is a wise and, I think on this occasion, well-grounded precaution."
"A forethought which I have exercised on your account," said the baron, gravely. "You, sir, will require a carriage, and knowing you, as a stranger, had no carriage in Berlin, I brought mine. It shall be at your service."