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I Will Repay, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

I Will Repay, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of I Will Repay, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy#4 in our series by Baroness Emmuska OrczyCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check thecopyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributingthis or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this ProjectGutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do not change or edit theheader without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about theeBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights and restrictions inhow the file may be used. You can also find out about how to make adonation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: I Will RepayAuthor: Baroness Emmuska OrczyRelease Date: February, 2004 [EBook #5090][This file was last updated on April 9, 2004]Edition: 11Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-8859-1*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK I WILL REPAY ***This Etext was prepared by Walter Debeuf, Project Gutenberg volunteer.I will repay.By Baroness Orczy.
 
PROLOGUE.IParis: 1783."Coward! Coward! Coward!"The words rang out, clear, strident, passionate, in a crescendo ofagonised humiliation.The boy, quivering with rage, had sprung to his feet, and, losing hisbalance, he fell forward clutching at the table, whilst with aconvulsive movement of the lids, he tried in vain to suppress thetears of shame which were blinding him."Coward!" He tried to shout the insult so that all might hear, buthis parched throat refused him service, his trembling hand sought thescattered cards upon the table, he collected them together, quickly,nervously, fingering them with feverish energy, then he hurled them atthe man opposite, whilst with a final effort he still contrived tomutter: "Coward!"The older men tried to interpose, but the young ones only laughed,quite prepared for the adventure which must inevitably ensue, the onlypossible ending to a quarrel such as this.Conciliation or arbitration was out of the question. Droulde should
have known better than to speak disrespectfully of Adle de Montchri,
when the little Vicomte de Marny's infatuation for the notoriousbeauty had been the talk of Paris and Versailles these many monthspast.Adle was very lovely and a veritable tower of greed and egotism. The
Marnys were rich and the little Vicomte very young, and just now thebrightly-plumaged hawk was busy plucking the latest pigeon, newlyarrived from its ancestral cote.The boy was still in the initial stage of his infatuation. To himAdle was a paragon of all the virtues, and he would have done battle
on her behalf against the entire aristocracy of France, in a vainendeavour to justify his own exalted opinion of one of the mostdissolute women of the epoch. He was a first-rate swordsman too, andhis friends had already learned that it was best to avoid allallusions to Adle's beauty and weaknesses.
But Droulde was a noted blunderer. He was little versed in the
manners and tones of that high society in which, somehow, he stillseemed and intruder. But for his great wealth, no doubt, he neverwould have been admitted within the intimate circle of aristocraticFrance. His ancestry was somewhat doubtful and his coat-of-armsunadorned with quarterings.But little was known of his family or the origin of its wealth; it wasonly known that his father had suddenly become the late King's dearestfriend, and commonly surmised that Droulde gold had on more than one
 
occasion filled the emptied coffers of the First Gentleman of France.Droulde had not sought the present quarrel. He had merely blundered
in that clumsy way of his, which was no doubt a part of theinheritance bequeathed to him by his bourgeois ancestry.He knew nothing of the little Vicomte's private affairs, still less ofhis relationship with Adle, but he knew enough of the world and
enough of Paris to be acquainted with the lady's reputation. He hatedat all times to speak of women. He was not what in those days would betermed a ladies' man, and was even somewhat unpopular with the sex.But in this instance the conversation had drifted in that direction,and when Adle's name was mentioned, every one became silent, save the
little Vicomte, who waxed enthusiastic.A shrug of the shoulders on Droulde's part had aroused the boy's
ire, then a few casual words, and, without further warning, the insulthad been hurled and the cards thrown in the older man's face.Droulde did not move from his seat. He sat erect and placid, one
knee crossed over the other, his serious, rather swarthy face perhapsa shade paler than usual: otherwise it seemed as if the insult hadnever reached his ears, or the cards struck his cheek.He had perceived his blunder, just twenty seconds too late. Now hewas sorry for the boy and angered with himself, but it was too late todraw back. To avoid a conflict he would at this moment have sacrificedhalf his fortune, but not one particle of his dignity.He knew and respected the old Duc de Marny, a feeble old man now,almost a dotard whose hitherto spotless _blason_, the young Vicomte,his son, was doing his best to besmirch.When the boy fell forward, blind and drunk with rage, Droulde leant
towards him automatically, quite kindly, and helped him to his feet.He would have asked the lad's pardon for his own thoughtlessness, hadthat been possible: but the stilted code of so-called honour forbadeso logical a proceeding. It would have done no good, and could butimperil his own reputation without averting the traditional sequel.The panelled walls of the celebrated gaming saloon had often witnessedscenes such as this. All those present acted by routine. The etiquetteof duelling prescribed certain formalities, and these were strictlybut rapidly adhered to.The young Vicomte was quickly surrounded by a close circle of friends.His great name, his wealth, his father's influence, had opened for himevery door in Versailles and Paris. At this moment he might have hadan army of seconds to support him in the coming conflict.Droulde for a while was left alone near the card table, where the
unsnuffed candles began smouldering in their sockets. He had risen tohis feet, somewhat bewildered at the rapid turn of events. His dark,restless eyes wandered for a moment round the room, as if in quicksearch for a friend.But where the Vicomte was at home by right, Droulde had only been
admitted by reason of his wealth. His acquaintances and sycophants

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