The young Frenchman did very well what he had planned to do. His
guess that the Duke would cheat proved good. As the unshod
half-dozen figures that had been standing noiselessly in the
entryway stole softly into the shadows of the chamber he leaned
across the table and smilingly plucked a card out of the big
"Merci M. le Duc!" he laughed rising and stepping back from
The Englishman cried out "It means the dirty work of silencing
you with my bare hands!" and came at him.
"Do not move" said M. Beaucaire so sharply that the other paused.
"Observe behind you."
The Englishman turned and saw what trap he had blundered into;
then stood transfixed impotent alternately scarlet with rage and
white with the vital shame of discovery. M. Beaucaire remarked
indicating the silent figures by a polite wave of the hand "Is it
not a compliment to monsieur that I procure six large men to subdue
him? They are quite devote' to me and monsieur is alone. Could
it be that he did not wish even his lackeys to know he play with the
yo'ng Frenchman who Meestaire Nash does not like in the pomp-room?
Monsieur is unfortunate to have come on foot and alone to my
The Duke's mouth foamed over with chaotic revilement. His captor
smiled brightly and made a slight gesture as one who brushes aside
a boisterous insect. With the same motion he quelled to stony quiet
a resentful impetus of his servants toward the Englishman.
"It's murder is it you carrion!" finished the Duke.
M. Beaucaire lifted his shoulders in a mock shiver. "What words!
No no no! No killing! A such word to a such host! No no not
mur-r-der; only disgrace!" He laughed a clear light laugh with a
rising inflection seeming to launch himself upon an adventurous
quest for sympathy.
"You little devilish scullion!" spat out the Duke.
"Tut tut! But I forget. Monsieur has pursue' his studies of
deportment amongs' his fellow-countrymen.
"Do you dream a soul in Bath will take your word that I - that I - "
"That M. le Duc de Winterset had a card up his sleeve?"
"You pitiful stroller you stableboy born in a stable - "
"Is it not an honor to be born where monsieur must have been bred?"
"You scurvy foot-boy you greasy barber you cutthroat groom - "
"Overwhelm'!" The young man bowed with imperturbable elation. "M.
le Duc appoint' me to all the office' of his househol'."
"You mustachioed fool there are not five people of quality in Bath
will speak to you - "
"No monsieur not on the parade; but how many come to play with me
here? Because I will play always night or day for what one will
for any long and al - ways fair monsieur."
"You outrageous varlet! Every one knows you came to England as the
French Ambassador's barber. What man of fashion will listen to you?
Who will believe you?"
"All people monsieur. Do you think I have not calculate' that I
shall make a failure of my little enterprise?"
"Will monsieur not reseat himself?" M. Beaucaire made a low bow.
"So. We must not be too tire' for Lady Malbourne's rout. Ha ha!
And you Jean Victor and you others retire; go in the hallway.
Attend at the entrance Francois. So; now we shall talk. Monsieur
I wish you to think very cool. Then listen; I will be briefly. It
is that I am well known to be all entire' hones'. Gamblist? Ah
yes; true and mos profitable; but fair al - ways fair; every one say
that. Is it not so? Think of it. And - is there never a w'isper
come to M. le Duc that not all people belief him to play al - ways
hones'? Ha ha! Did it almos' be said to him las' year after when
he play' with Milor' Tappin'ford at the chocolate-house - "
"You dirty scandal-monger!" the Duke burst out. "I'll - "
"Monsieur monsieur!" said the Frenchman. "It is a poor valor to
insult a helpless captor. Can he retort upon his own victim? But
it is for you to think of what I say. True I am not reco'nize on
the parade; that my frien's who come here do not present me to their
ladies; that Meestaire Nash has reboff' me in the pomp-room; still
am I not known for being hones' and fair in my play and will I not
be belief even I when I lif' my voice and charge you aloud with
what is already w'isper'? Think of it! You are a noble and there
will be some hang-dogs who might not fall away from you. Only such
would be lef' to you. Do you want it tol'? And you can keep out
of France monsieur? I have lef' his service but I have still the
ear of M. de Mirepoix and he know' I never lie. Not a gentleman
will play you when you come to Paris."
The Englishman's white lip showed a row of scarlet dots upon it.
"How much do you want?" he said.
The room rang with the gay laughter of Beaucaire. "I hol' your
note' for seven-hunder' pound'. You can have them monsieur. Why
does a such great man come to play M. Beaucaire? Because no one
else willin' to play M. le Duc - he cannot pay. Ha ha! So he
come' to good Monsieur Beaucaire. Money ha ha! What I want with
His Grace of Winterset's features were set awry to a sinister
pattern. He sat glaring at his companion in a snarling silence.
"Money? Pouf!" snapped the little gambler. "No no no! It is
that M. le Duc impoverish' somewhat in a bad odor as he is yet
command the entree any-where - onless I - Ha ha! Eh monsieur?"
"Ha! You dare think to force me - "
M. Beaucaire twirled the tip of his slender mustache around the end
of his white forefinger. Then he said: "Monsieur and me goin' to
Lady Malbourne's ball to-night - M. le Duc and me!"
The Englishman roared "Curse your impudence!"
"Sit quiet. Oh yes that's all; we goin' together."
"Certain. I make all my little plan'. 'Tis all arrange'." He
paused and then said gravely "You goin' present me to Lady
The other laughed in utter scorn. "Lady Mary Carlisle of all
women alive would be the first to prefer the devil to a man of
no birth barber."
"'Tis all arrange'; have no fear; nobody question monsieur's
You goin' take me to-night - "
"Yes. And after - then I have the entree. Is it much I ask?
This one little favor and I never w'isper never breathe that
- it is to say I am always forever silent of monsieur's
"You have the entree!" sneered the other. "Go to a lackeys' rout
and dance with the kitchen maids. If I would I could not present
you to Bath society. I should have cartels from the fathers
brothers and lovers of every wench and madam in the place even I.
You would be thrust from Lady Malbourne's door five minutes after
you entered it."
"No no no!"
"Half the gentlemen in Bath have been here to play. They would
know you wouldn't they fool? You've had thousands out of
Bantison Rakell Guilford and Townbrake. They would have you
lashed by the grooms as your ugly deserts are. You to speak to
Lady Mary Carlisle! 'Od's blood! You! Also dolt she would
know you if you escaped the others. She stood within a yard of
you when Nash expelled you the pump-room."
M. Beaucaire flushed slightly. "You think I did not see?" he
"Do you dream that' because Winterset introduces a low fellow he
will be tolerated - that Bath will receive a barber?"
"I have the distinction to call monsieur's attention" replied the
young man gayly "I have renounce that profession."
"I am now a man of honor!"
"A man of the parts" continued the the young Frenchman "and of
deportment; is it not so? Have you seen me of a fluster or
gross ever or what sall I say - bourgeois? Shall you be shame'
for your guest' manner? No no! And my appearance is it of the
people? Clearly no. Do I not compare in taste of apparel with
your yo'ng Englishman? Ha ha! To be hope'. Ha ha! So I am
goin' talk with Lady Mary Carlisle."
"Bah!" The Duke made a savage burlesque. "'Lady Mary Carlisle
may I assume the honor of presenting the barber of the Marquis de
Mirepoix?' So is it?"
"No monsieur" smiled the young man. "Quite not so. You shall
have nothing to worry you nothing in the worl'. I am goin' to
assassinate my poor mustachio - also remove this horrible black
peruke and emerge in my own hair. Behol'!" He swept the heavy
curled mass from his head as he spoke and his hair coiled
under the great wig fell to his shoulders and sparkled yellow
in the candle-light. He tossed his head to shake the hair back