Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cavalier attitudes

At long last I have arrived at The Last Cavalier, Alexandre Dumas's long-lost novel. On my shelf for almost a year already, I was somewhat daunted by this brick of more than 700 pages.

But read a sentence and you can't help but read the next one. How could I have stayed away so long from Dumas, he who sweeps me away with political intrigue and wild exploits? Plus, he's very funny.

At that moment word came to Bonaparte that the horses were harnessed and ready. He stood and asked Roland to pay. Roland dealt with the hotel keeper while Bonaparte got into the coach. Just as Roland was about to join his companion, he found Alfred de Barjols in his path.

"Excuse me, monsieur," the young man said to him. "You were beginning to say something to me, but the word never left your lips. Might I know what kept you from pronouncing it?"

"Oh, monsieur," said Roland, "the reason I held it back was simply that my companion pulled me back down by my coat pocket, and so as not to be disagreeable to him, I decided not to call you a fool."

"If you intended to insult me in that way, monsieur, might I therefore consider that you have now done so?"

"If that should please you, monsieur. . . ."

"That does please me, because it offers me the opportunity to demand satisfaction."

"Monsieur," said Roland, "we are in a great hurry, my companion and I, as you can see. But I will be happy to delay my departure for an hour if you think one hour will be enough to settle this question."

"One hour will be sufficient, monsieur."

Roland bowed and hurried to the coach.

"Well," said Bonaparte, "are you going to fight?"

"I could not do otherwise, General," Roland answered. "But my adversary appears to be very accommodating. It should not take more than an hour. I shall hire a horse as soon as this business is over and shall surely catch up with you before you reach Lyon."

Bonaparte shrugged. "Hothead," he said. And then, reaching out his hand, he added, "Try at least not to get yourself killed. I need you in Paris."

"Oh, relax, General. Somewhere between Valence and Vienne I shall come tell you what happened."

Bonaparte left. About one league beyond Valence he heard a horse galloping behind him and ordered the coachman to stop.

"Oh, it's you, Roland," he said. "Apparently everything went well?"

"Perfectly well," said Roland as he paid for his horse.

"Did you fight?"

"Yes, I did, General."


"With pistols."


"And I killed him, General."

Roland took his place beside Bonaparte and the coach set off again at a gallop.

The first 6 chapters are available online. I barrelled through them.


Natasha said...

Alexandre Dumas is Just Plain Awesome! I haven't come across this one, but now I'll definitely hunt it out to read it! :)
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Cipriano said...

Your posting reminds me that [speaking of sitting on the shelf for a while] I have yet to read the Captain Alatriste that you sent to me.
I shall soon got to it!
I too, am currently involved in QUITE the brick of a book!