Blogger Template by Blogcrowds

Okay, for Chapter 6 ("Paid In Full"), the quick 'n' dirty version...or what passes for it 'round these parts.

When I ran screaming from the task at hand the other morning, Fanny Meyer and her Aunt Teresa had absconded in the middle of the night to avoid the industrial-strength deflowering power of Abellino Kárpáthy. And when they tried to drop off the face of the earth, what godforsaken outpost did they choose to make camp? The other side of town, of course, where Teresa decided to take Mr. Boltay into her confidence about the whole mangled mess of l'affaire Upperclass Twit, and he agreed to offer his aid. Yes, Mr. Boltay, who was, in the distant past, Teresa's ex-fiance, and more recently her ex-landlord. So in other words, to completely lose the scoundrel, they ran away to the first place anybody would think to look. Brilliant strategy that, but lifelong church ladies don't get to be lifelong church ladies by their cunning deviousness, so let's just move on.

That part of the plan worked about as well as you'd think, since Boltay's was also the first place Dame Kramm came up with once Abellino brought the issue up. Fortunately, Alexander--who, as Fanny's presumed future betrothed, didn't care for how the current situation had messed up her emotions--was staking out the church every Sunday for just that moment.

Abellino marched rapidly to the corner of the street, with Alexander after him all the way. There he got into a carriage which was awaiting him. Alexander threw himself into a hackney-coach and trundled after him. He overtook him at the Michael Gate, and here the gentleman got out, while the carriage clattered into the courtyard. A big porter in bearskins was standing at the entrance.

"Who was that gentleman who went in there just now?" inquired Alexander of the porter.

"The Honourable Abellino Kárpáthy, of Kárpáth."

"Thank you."

So his name, then, was Abellino Kárpáthy! Alexander hastened home with his discovery.

On that day the whole family had such a vicious expression of countenance that every one who came to see them was positively afraid of them. (pp. 134-5)

Not realizing how totally blown his cover was before he even started, Abellino paid a visit to Mr. Boltay's shop, spinning the same line of BS he fed Dame Kramm under the disguise of buying an engagement present. Instead, Boltay produces six thousand florins, the amount of the "loan", to call the whole thing even, along with a promise that he'd regret it if he didn't take the offer. Instead, Abellino silently rode off in his Effite-Snobmobile while Boltay swung phase two into action.

Master Boltay did not put back in his pocket the money lying on the table, but swept it up, sent it to the editor of the Pressburger Zeitung, and the next day the following notice was to be read in the columns of that respectable newspaper: "A pater-familias residing in this town presents through us six thousand florins thirty kreutzers to the civic hospital, which amount the honourable Abellino Kárpáthy was pleased to offer as a gift to the daughter of the donor in question, who, however, thought the sum more suitably applied to charitable purposes."

The affair made a great stir. The name advertised was well known in the highest circles. Some were amused, others amazed at the comic announcement. A couple of wits belonging to the opposition complimented Abellino in front of the green table in the name of suffering humanity. As for Abellino, he strutted up and down the town all day on the offchance of calling some one out; but as nobody gave him the opportunity, he and the other young elegants finally held a conference at the Meyers' house, and it was decided that a challenge should be sent to this advertising pater-familias. (pp. 139-40)

A duel it was, a challenge calculated to scare the fear of God (and his (snort) betters) into that punk-ass carpenter. Whether our young twit was even thinking about deflowering the girl anymore is hard to say. Maybe this was the point it stopped being about the nookie and started being about just getting it over with, like the Coyote and the Roadrunner. Anyway, that was Abellino's new plan, but when his seconds arrive at Boltay's shop with the formal challenge, they find only Alexander, and another wrinkle they hadn't anticipated:

"Then listen to me, my dear Mr. Alexander Barna." He laid particular stress upon the word "Mr." that the lad might be duly sensible of the honour done to him thereby. "This letter tells your master——"

"You may give it me, sir. I am Mr. Boltay's confidential agent, and during his absence he has entrusted me with the transaction of all his business."

"Then take this letter," remarked Conrad in voice of thunder; and was on the point of adding something of a very imposing character, when Alexander completely disconcerted him by indiscreetly tearing open the letter addressed to his master, and approaching the window that he might be able to read it better.

"What are you doing?" cried both the seconds at the same time.

"I am authorized by Mr. Boltay during his absence to open all letters addressed to him, and discharge all debts or claims that may come in."

"But this is a purely personal matter which does not concern you."

Meanwhile Alexander had been glancing through the letter. He now came straight towards the two seconds.

"Gentlemen, I am at your service," he said.

"How! What business is it of yours?"

"Mr. Boltay has empowered me to satisfy any claim whatever that may be made upon him."

"Well, what then?"

"Why, then," said Alexander, smoothing out the letter with his hand, "I am ready to settle this account also whenever and wherever you please."

Conrad looked at Livius. "This lad seems disposed to joke with us," said he.

"I am not joking, gentlemen. Since yesterday I have become Mr. Boltay's partner, and all the obligations of the firm are binding upon both of us equally. The credit of the establishment demands it."

Conrad began to doubt whether the youth was in his right mind or knew how to read.

"Have you read what is in that letter?" he roared.

"Yes. It is a challenge."

"And what right have you to accept a challenge which is meant for some one else?"

"Because my partner, my foster-father, is not present, and everything, be it ill or good fortune, disaster or annoyance, which touches him, touches me equally. If he were present he would answer for himself. Now, however, he is away, and he has his own reasons, no doubt, for not telling me whither he has gone or how long he will be absent; and therefore, gentlemen, you must either take away this challenge or let me give you satisfaction."

Conrad drew Livius aside to consult him as to whether this was regular according to duelling rules. Livius recalled similar cases, but only as between gentlemen.

"Hark ye, Alexander Barna," said Conrad, "what you propose is only usual among gentlemen."

"Well, gentlemen, I am not the challenger; the challenge comes from you."

This was unanswerable. (pp. 142-4)

Abellino's rare gift of foresight would've come in handy in the 21st century. He'd probably be hip deep in sub-prime mortgages right now.

So it is agreed that Alexander will be the one to ride to the duelling ground the next day. What's more, two Very Worthy Gentlemen (Rudolf and Michael, described in the text as "the idols of the nation"...I'll have to take the author's word for it) have volunteered themselves as Alexander's seconds because they're sick of snotty punks like Abellino shooting up the rising generation because some dumb bastard soiled his pinafore.

Which brings us to the duel itself. After Abellino indulges in a few show-off shots at falling leaves and other twit-dickery, the two combatants take their places, and what about the result? Yes, what about that result...

What happened the next moment nobody was able to exactly explain.

A report rang out, and half a minute afterwards another. The seconds hastened to the spot, and found Alexander standing erect in his place; but Abellino had turned right round, and his hand was over his left ear. The surgeons came running up with the others.

"Are you wounded?" they asked Abellino.

"No, no!" said he, keeping one hand continually over his ear. "Deuce take that bullet, it flew so damned close to my ear that it has almost made me deaf. I can't hear a word of what I am saying. Curse the bullet! I would much rather that it had gone through my ribs."

"I wish it had with all my soul!" roared Conrad, who now came rushing up. "You are a damned fool, for you shot me instead of your opponent! Look, gentlemen! You see that tree by which I was standing? Well, the bullet burrowed right into it. What! fire at your own seconds? Do you call that discretion? If that tree had not been there, I should have been as dead as a ducat—as dead as a ducat, I say!"

So this is what must have happened. At the very moment when Alexander's bullet whizzed past Kárpáthy's ear he must have been so startled by the shock as to have involuntarily wheeled round and clapped one hand to his ear, and the same instant the loaded pistol in his other hand must have gone off sideways. At any rate, Kárpáthy was found standing, after the shot was fired, with his back to his opponent. (p. 151)

Hey, if the omniscient narrator doesn't know what happened, don't look to me for answers. I'm sure it'll be revealed in good time if it means anything at all.

So, in a good deal of pain and with blood trickling from his ear, Abellino was helped from the field and the necessary documents were signed by the seconds to show that, yes, the punk-ass bastid was stepping off. End of chapter.

It's just like what Jim Gettys said to Charles Foster Kane...some men need more than one lesson, and it looks like Abellino Kárpáthy's going to get more than one lesson...but not before he inflicts more jolly misery on his path to the gutter.

Coming next: "The Nabob's Birthday" You do remember the Nabob, don't you? This story's called A Hungarian Nabob, after all...


Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home