He was tempted by his first emotions to seek de Coigney, and call him to account for the affront he had put upon him, and either lose his own life, or oblige the other to secrecy; but then he considered, that there was some probability he would not dare to own that he had given himself any concern about mademoiselle Charlotta, after the injunction laid on him by his father, much less as he had attempted a duel in her cause, having, as has been already mentioned, been before guilty of a like offence against the laws, which in that country are very strict, on account of madame de Olonne; and this prevailed with him to be passive as to what had happened, till he should hear how the other would behave, and find what turn the affair would take.
They had now no trouble from monsieur de Coigney; his father, in order to make him forget a hopeless passion, had found an employment for him which obliged him to go many leagues from Paris; and once the conversation already mentioned at the baron's, his sister and mademoiselle Charlotta, by command of their respective parents, as well as their own inclinations, broke off all correspondence, nor even spoke to each other, unless when happening to meet in a visit, there was no avoiding it; and then it was in such a distant manner, and with so much indifference, that none would have imagined they ever had been intimate friends and companions.
You judged rightly, indeed, resumed de Coigney; but had you known how gladly I would have dispensed with the honour of her confidence, I dare answer you would have spared it me: I'll tell you, my dear, pursued she turning to Charlotta, for the secrets of this lady are pretty universal; and I am certain that I have heard from no less than fifty different persons, that very affair she was in such a hurry to inform me of last night: you must needs have heard of the amour between madam la Boissy and the chevalier de Mourenbeau? frequently, replied Charlotta; her ridiculous jealousies of him have long been the jest of the whole court; and I never go to Marli or Versailles, but I am told of some new instance of it.
De Coigney knew not how either to put up or resent this affront; he knew very well that his son had behaved so as to give cause for it, yet thought he had other perfections which might over-balance what, by a partial indulgence, he looked upon only as the follies of youth; and as for the reflection on his family, he told the other, that whatever he was he owed to the merit of his ancestors, not his own, and that he doubted not but his son would one day raise his name equal to that of Palfoy.
Horatio thought no more on the affair of madame de Olonne and monsieur de Coigney, from the time he had been cleared of having any concern with that lady, yet was that night's adventure productive of what he looked upon as the greatest misfortune could befal him. But to make this matter conspicuous to the reader, it is necessary to give a brief detail of the circumstances that led to it.
In the mean time the father of monsieur de Coigney being informed of these proceedings, thought it beneath his son to carry on a clandestine courtship; and the great share he possessed of the royal favour, he having been instrumental in gaining some point in the parliament of Paris, rendered him vain enough to imagine his alliance would not be refused, tho' there was a superiority both of birth and fortune on the side of monsieur the baron de Palfoy.
The lover readily obeyed this summons, but not without some apprehensions of the motive: the hints daily given him, joined to the alteration, not only in the behaviour of mademoiselle de Coigney, but likewise of the baron de la Valiere, gave him but too just room to fear his passion was no longer a secret.
From this time forward he behaved to him with a coldness which was sufficient to convince the other of the motive, especially as he found mademoiselle de Coigney took all opportunities of throwing the most picquant reflections on him.
Neither the character, family, or fortune of de Coigney being equal to what he thought Charlotta might deserve, made him very uneasy at this report; and as he looked on her not having acquainted him with his pretensions as an indication of her having an affection for him; he resolved to put a stop to the progress of it at once, which could be done no way so effectually as by removing her from St.
Mademoiselle Charlotta, now a little recovered from her first, surprize, and knowing it was young monsieur de Coigney who had given her this alarm, had presence enough of mind to ask how he dared, after he knew her own and father's resolution, to disturb her, or any company she had with her? he made no reply, but reflecting that there were other ways than fighting, by which he might be revenged, went hastily away with that friend who had hindered him from executing his rash purpose; but they could hear that he muttered something which seemed a menace against them both.