« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
mark, but when the coachman had shut the door and asked where he should go:
"To the Rue Richelieu, opposite the Theatre Francais," replied the old man.
Sir, that will take us out of our way," observed Blondel's second. "Not exactly, since it brings us to Lepage's shop," said M. de Loiselay.
"But here are pistols," replied Barbeyrac.
"I see them, sir," coldly responded the old gentleman.
Why do you go to get others then ?”
"M. de Gustan can make use of those; observe, I do not say that he has made use of them, but that he can make use of them."
"No matter," interrupted Deslandes, with animation; "I have perfect confidence in the good faith of M. de Gustan, and I am convinced that he is incapable of having chosen arms which can give him the slightest advantage."
My dear substitute," said M. de Loiselay, with a paternal air, "here you have no deliberative voice."
The future combatants exchanged a stolen glance, which was not free from anxiety. Barbeyrac remarked the uneasy expression of Blondel, who was seated opposite him, and he immediately leaned forward, as if to look out of the carriage window. Gustavus did the same, and their faces came near each other.
"What matter for the pistols," said Barbeyrac, very low; "every thing depends on the balls."
Blondel's face recovered its serenity, and the substitute regained the calmness which he had lost in the perspective of the danger to which the unseasonable intervention of M. de Loiselay exposed him. After having bought at Lepage's a pair of pistols, the fashion of which the old man preferred to those in the box, the two seconds again entered the carriage, which started for its destination.
Two hours after, the four actors in this drama, one only of whom took the matter seriously, while the others regarded it as a comedy, entered a grove in the most unfrequented part of the Bois de Boulogne. The two principals walked first, one by the side of the other -the others followed at a short distance. The Parisians kept affectedly apart, but they smiled sometimes, when they saw they were not perceived by M. de Loiselay, like two schoolboys, who are contriving to elude the vigilance of the pedagogue, while they are playing him a
"Why have you not brought a surgeon?" said the old man to his companion, on the way.
"I hope we shall have no need of one," replied Barbeyrac, smiling involuntarily.
'I hope as you do," replied M. de Loiselay, "but we should provide for all emergencies. If I had been notified sooner, I should not have neglected this precaution." These young people fail in the proper usages, said he afterwards to himself, they do not know even how to fight in the regular way.
They now reached a spot, where the trees separating in a circular form, left a clear space of a hundred feet diameter, which seemed a natural field of action, enclosed by the shrubbery.
"It is useless to go farther, we shall find nothing better than this," said M. de Loiselay, who at the first glance had seen the advantages of this ground.
Since leaving the carriage, the seconds had arranged all the conditions of the duel. The old man had fixed all the points in accordance with humanity, which would diminish the chances of danger, and honor, which exacts the reality of the peril. Barbeyrac made no objection, but he could scarcely restrain a smile, when the old gentleman addressed him in a tone less firm:
"You think, I hope, with me, that a single shot must be exchanged; whatever be the result, let us agree that the affair shall go no further."
The good man is softening, thought Barbeyrac; he does not suspect that the balls which are going to figure in this terrible combat, have been taken out of bottles of champaign wine.
The ground being measured, the adversaries made, with admirable coolness, their toilet for the duel, and fixed themselves face to face, in the places pointed out to them. When he looked at the handsome face of the substitute, M. de Loiselay felt his interest in him redoubled, and he suffered an emotion which he had never experienced when fighting himself.
Poor fellow, thought he, may nothing happen to him!
The old man drew near Barbeyrac, who had just opened the box of pistols.
"To expedite matters, give me one to load," said he, stooping down; "I am anxious to have it over."
"There is but one ramrod," said the young man, who had just skilfully substituted for the ball, which he had ostensibly taken from the boxes a projectile of the same form and color, which had been hidden, with several others of the same kind, in the pocket of his pantaloons. Unfortunately, the inoffensive globule escaped his fingers at the moment he was placing it on the mouth of the pistol; notwithstanding the quickness with which Barbeyrac stooped, M. de Loiselay, still more active, picked up the ball, which he found of inexplicable lightness. He poised it for a moment in astonishment, and then suddenly carried it to his mouth and placed it between two rows of teeth as solid and sharp as those of a wolf. Almost at the same moment, the half of the bullet fell to the ground. The old man did not swallow the other half, but placed it in the hollow of his hand, where he contemplated, for a moment, this unexpected metamorphosis of lead into cork.
"You are laughing at me, sir," said he at last to Barbeyrac, in a voice tremulous from anger.
During the experiment to which the product of his ingenious philanthropy had been subjected, Blondel's second had blushed up to the The direct apostrophe the old man put him completely out of countenance. He needed a heroic effort to succeed in forcing a
smile, and supporting the burning glance which M. de Loiselay threw on him. The idea of having been made the toy of a mystification, seemed suddenly to have lopped off forty years from the life of the old gentleman.
"Gustan and M. Deslandes have been friends for a long time," said Barbeyrac, at last giving to his voice all the persuasive gentleness of which it was susceptible. "If one of them were to fall, what grief for the other! At the bottom, the subject of their quarrel is unfortunate. Why should we allow them to expose their lives, while it is in our power to prevent any catastrophe, by means of an innocent artifice ?"
"Are these gentlemen in this secret of this pretty affair?" interrupted the old emigrant, rubbing his forehead; "have they agreed to fight with corks?"
Barbeyrac felt obliged to take the absolute responsibility of an invention, which, on the part of a second, might pass for the effect of an excessive, but laudable humanity.
"No sir," replied he; "this idea, which, however, is not a novel one, comes from me alone."
"So much the worse for you, sir, and so much the better for them. I think that old as I am, I should have compelled Deslandes to have fought with me, if he had intended to make me the accomplice of such a harlequinade. Give me those pistols, I pray you, I will load them." "But, sir, recollect they are friends," said Barbeyrac, seeing the old man about to load one of the pistols with a veritable ball.
"Come, come," replied M. de Loiselay, beating down the ball with hard strokes of the ramrod, "if they are friends, so much the more reason they should esteem each other. I fought once my best friend, sir; he wounded me seriously, and I only loved him the better for it. Formerly, cork was only made use of to stop bottles. If the custom has changed, permit me to remain faithful to the old fashion. I have not kept up with the age, as you see. I do not belong to young France, I am an old ultra, headstrong, incorrigible, fossile-do you suppose I will have any thing to do with your cork bullets?"
Rallying thus his mortified companion, the old gentleman finished loading the pistols with the dexterity peculiar to professional sportsmen. The operation over, he presented the two weapons to Barbeyrac, that he might choose one, and he carried the other to Deslandes, who, from his position, had not been able to understand the discussion which seemed to have arisen between the two seconds.
"This little man wished to make sport at your expense," said he to the substitute; "but I have clenched his nail. Trust to me, all shall be done according to rule."
What the deuce does he mean, thought Deslandes, whose heart suddenly beat with a more rapid motion, but who, notwithstanding his anxiety, did not dare to ask the old man to explain himself.
At the same moment, Barbeyrac had approached Blondel to give him the other pistol.
"I warn you," said he in a low voice, "that the balls are lead. A word to the wise!"
THE EMPEROR FERDINAND'S NORTHERN ROAD, IN GERMANY.
(Abridged from the London Railway Magazine.)
The project of this railway, which is the most extensive, as yet, undertaken in Europe, was conceived as early as 1830. From that time up to the year 1836, various local investigations, as well as an examination of the railways executed in England and Belgium, had been made by the banking-house of Baron Rothschild, in Vienna, to whom, on application, the imperial privilege was finally granted on the 4th of March, 1836, authorizing the formation of a company of shareholders, for the construction of a railway from Vienna, the capital of the Austrian empire, to Cochnia, in Gallicia, with branches to Brunn, Olmutz, Troppau, Dwory, and Wrelitchka. The provisions of this charter are of the most liberal nature. In regard to the right of way, the same laws are to be observed as in the establishment of public turnpike-roads by government; no restrictions are made as to the tariff, and during 50 years, no rival railway can be constructed between the above designated points. After 50 years the privilege expires, but may be renewed, the road and appurtenances remaining to the company for ever.
Subscriptions were received for 6,000 shares, at 1007., which, with the 8,000 retained by the owner of the privilege for himself and his friends, formed a capital stock of 1,400,000l. (14,000,000 florins.) This amount was deemed sufficient for the accomplishment of the work. The instalments were made at 107. every half-year; the first on the 30th of April, 1836; the last on the 15th of October, 1840. From the time of the first payment made by the stockholders they receive an interest at the rate of 4 per cent. per annum.
Operations were immediately commenced by making the surveys and plans for the section from Vienna to Brunn. The ground was first broken on the 7th of April, 1837, and the works prosecuted with the utmost vigor, from 10,000 to 12,000 laborers having been constantly employed on the line. On the 1st of November, the following sections were nearly completed :
From Vienna to Lundenburg and Brunn (opened),
Length of railway completed, or nearly so,
Total completed, and in progress,
The total length of the railway with all its branches will not fall short of 400 miles, which is certainly the greatest extent of any work
of this kind yet undertaken in Europe by a single company. The total amount already expended exceeds ten millions of florins, or one million sterling.
The railway derives its name from its traversing the northern provinces of the empire; among its principal objects is the transportation of oxen from Gallicia to the Residence, the number of which, according to official data, amounts annually to more than 9,000. It will contribute largely to develope the resources of those provinces, and by the connexion with the Warsaw and Vienna Railway, now in progress, there will be an uninterrupted line of railway between the Vistula and the Danube, connecting the Baltic with the Black Sea.
The following is a more detailed account of the line from Vienna to Brunn, which has been for some time in use :—
The railway commences at the Prater, which, though distant from the centre, is still within the city and suburbs. There is a spacious station, with extensive buildings, destined to accommodate the whole railway. After leaving the depot, the railway crosses the Danube by two wooden bridges, both 1,960 feet in length, and built very high, in order to put no permanent obstacle against the floating ice during the spring, the accumulation of which might cause inundation of the adjoining country. Having crossed the valley of the Danube, the line pursues a north-eastern course, and reaches the river March, which forms the boundary between Lower Austria and Hungary. After following, for a considerable distance, the course of this river, it crosses the Thaya at Lundenburg, by numerous bridges. There, at a point 50 miles from Vienna, the branch road to Brunn, parting from the main line, follows the course of the Thaya and Schwaza until it reaches that capital, while the main line pursues its course in the va!ley of the March.
All the curves of the railway are of very large radii, and the steepest inclination is 19 feet per mile, and occurs only once for a short distance. The first 19 miles are graded for a double track, in order to accommodate a branch which is to lead to Presburg in Hungary; the remainder will only have a single track. Of the works executed, the following will give the best idea :-Excavations and embankments, 6,012,500 cubic yards, of which 140,000 cubic yards were excavation in solid rock; length of wooden bridges, 3,708 feet; length of wooden bridges with stone abutments and piers, 488 feet; number of stone bridges and viaducts, 24, with 228 arches; number of culverts, 116; of wood crossings, 198, of which 31 are under, six over, and the remainder level with the railway.
The width of the track is 4 feet 8 inches. The cross tiers are of oak, larch, or fir, laid 3 feet 6 inches apart, on layer of gravel 12 inches thick. The rails are common T pattern, weigh 40 pounds to the yard, and were partly imported from England, and partly manufactured in Austria, but owing to the high freight and duty on those imported, and the inexperience of home manufacturers, the cost per ton of rails was in both cases froin 27 to 2731.
For carrying on the transportation business the Company own now