M. Fourtou's friend read this note, and shuddered.
Then he turned to me, and said, with a suggestion of
severity in his tone:
"Have you considered, sir, what would be the inevitable
result of such a meeting as this?"
"Well, for instance, what WOULD it be?"
"That's about the size of it," I said. "Now, if it is
a fair question, what was your side proposing to shed?"
I had him there. He saw he had made a blunder, so he hastened
to explain it away. He said he had spoken jestingly.
Then he added that he and his principal would enjoy axes,
and indeed prefer them, but such weapons were barred
by the French code, and so I must change my proposal.
I walked the floor, turning the thing over in my mind,
and finally it occurred to me that Gatling-guns at fifteen
paces would be a likely way to get a verdict on the field
of honor. So I framed this idea into a proposition.
But it was not accepted. The code was in the way again.
I proposed rifles; then double-barreled shotguns;
then Colt's navy revolvers. These being all rejected,
I reflected awhile, and sarcastically suggested brickbats
at three-quarters of a mile. I always hate to fool away
a humorous thing on a person who has no perception of humor;
and it filled me with bitterness when this man went soberly
away to submit the last proposition to his principal.