eBooks Cube


"You may agree," wrote Andre-Louis from Paris to Le Chapelier, in
a letter which survives, "that it is to be regretted I should
definitely have discarded the livery of Scaramouche, since clearly
there could be no livery fitter for my wear. It seems to be my
part always to stir up strife and then to slip away before I am
caught in the crash of the warring elements I have aroused. It is
a humiliating reflection. I seek consolation in the reminder of
Epictetus (do you ever read Epictetus?) that we are but actors in
a play of such a part as it may please the Director to assign us.
It does not, however, console me to have been cast for a part so
contemptible, to find myself excelling ever in the art of running
away. But if I am not brave, at least I am prudent; so that where
I lack one virtue I may lay claim to possessing another almost to
excess. On a previous occasion they wanted to hang me for sedition.
Should I have stayed to be hanged? This time they may want to
hang me for several things, including murder; for I do not know
whether that scoundrel Binet be alive or dead from the dose of
lead I pumped into his fat paunch. Nor can I say that I very
greatly care. If I have a hope at all in the matter it is that he
is dead - and damned. But I am really indifferent. My own concerns
are troubling me enough. I have all but spent the little money that
I contrived to conceal about me before I fled from Nantes on that
dreadful night; and both of the only two professions of which I can
claim to know anything - the law and the stage - are closed to me,
since I cannot find employment in either without revealing myself
as a fellow who is urgently wanted by the hangman. As things are
it is very possible that I may die of hunger, especially considering
the present price of victuals in this ravenous city. Again I have
recourse to Epictetus for comfort. 'It is better,' he says, 'to die
of hunger having lived without grief and fear, than to live with a
troubled spirit amid abundance.' I seem likely to perish in the
estate that he accounts so enviable. That it does not seem exactly
enviable to me merely proves that as a Stoic I am not a success.

There is also another letter of his written at about the same time
to the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr - a letter since published by M.
Emile Quersac in his "Undercurrents of the Revolution in Brittany,"
unearthed by him from the archives of Rennes, to which it had been
consigned by M. de Lesdiguieres, who had received it for justiciary
purposes from the Marquis.

"The Paris newspapers," he writes in this, "which have reported in
considerable detail the fracas at the Theatre Feydau and disclosed
the true identity of the Scaramouche who provoked it, inform me also
that you have escaped the fate I had intended for you when I raised
that storm of public opinion and public indignation. I would not
have you take satisfaction in the thought that I regret your escape.
I do not. I rejoice in it. To deal justice by death has this
disadvantage that the victim has no knowledge that justice has
overtaken him. Had you died, had you been torn limb from limb that
night, I should now repine in the thought of your eternal and
untroubled slumber. Not in euthanasia, but in torment of mind
should the guilty atone. You see, I am not sure that hell hereafter
is a certainty, whilst I am quite sure that it can be a certainty in
this life; and I desire you to continue to live yet awhile that you
may taste something of its bitterness.

"You murdered Philippe de Vilmorin because you feared what you
described as his very dangerous gift of eloquence, I took an oath
that day that your evil deed should be fruitless; that I would
render it so; that the voice you had done murder to stifle should
in spite of that ring like a trumpet through the land. That was
my conception of revenge. Do you realize how I have been fulfilling
it, how I shall continue to fulfil it as occasion offers? In the
speech with which I fired the people of Rennes on the very morrow
of that deed, did you not hear the voice of Philippe de Vilmorin
uttering the ideas that were his with a fire and a passion greater
than he could have commanded because Nemesis lent me her inflaming
aid? In the voice of Omnes Omnibus at Nantes my voice again -
demanding the petition that sounded the knell of your hopes of
coercing the Third Estate, did you not hear again the voice of
Philippe de Vilmorin? Did you not reflect that it was the mind of
the man you had murdered, resurrected in me his surviving friend,
which made necessary your futile attempt under arms last January,
wherein your order, finally beaten, was driven to seek sanctuary
in the Cordelier Convent? And that night when from the stage of
the Feydau you were denounced to the people, did you not hear yet
again, in the voice of Scaramouche, the voice of Philippe de
Vilmorin, using that dangerous gift of eloquence which you so
foolishly imagined you could silence with a sword-thrust? It is
becoming a persecution - is it not? - this voice from the grave
that insists upon making itself heard, that will not rest until
you have been cast into the pit. You will be regretting by now
that you did not kill me too, as I invited you on that occasion.
I can picture to myself the bitterness of this regret, and I
contemplate it with satisfaction. Regret of neglected opportunity
is the worst hell that a living soul can inhabit, particularly
such a soul as yours. It is because of this that I am glad to
know that you survived the riot at the Feydau, although at the time
it was no part of my intention that you should. Because of this I
am content that you should live to enrage and suffer in the shadow
of your evil deed, knowing at last - since you had not hitherto the
wit to discern it for yourself - that the voice of Philippe de
Vilmorin will follow you to denounce you ever more loudly, ever more
insistently, until having lived in dread you shall go down in blood
under the just rage which your victim's dangerous gift of eloquence
is kindling against you."

I find it odd that he should have omitted from this letter all
mention of Mlle. Binet, and I am disposed to account it at least a
partial insincerity that he should have assigned entirely to his
self-imposed mission, and not at all to his lacerated feelings in
the matter of Climene, the action which he had taken at the Feydau.

Those two letters, both written in April of that year 1789, had for
only immediate effect to increase the activity with which Andre-Louis
Moreau was being sought.

Le Chapelier would have found him so as to lend him assistance, to
urge upon him once again that he should take up a political career.
The electors of Nantes would have found him - at least, they would
have found Omnes Omnibus, of whose identity with himself they were
still in ignorance - on each of the several occasions when a vacancy
occurred in their body. And the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr and M.
de Lesdiguieres would have found him that they might send him to
the gallows.

With a purpose no less vindictive was he being sought by M. Binet,
now unhappily recovered from his wound to face completest ruin. His
troupe had deserted him during his illness, and reconstituted under
the direction of Polichinelle it was now striving with tolerable
success to continue upon the lines which Andre-Louis had laid down.
M. le Marquis, prevented by the riot from expressing in person to
Mlle. Binet his purpose of making an end of their relations, had
been constrained to write to her to that effect from Azyr a few days
later. He tempered the blow by enclosing in discharge of all
liabilities a bill on the Caisse d'Escompte for a hundred louis.
Nevertheless it almost crushed the unfortunate and it enabled her
father when he recovered to enrage her by pointing out that she owed
this turn of events to the premature surrender she had made in
defiance of his sound worldly advice. Father and daughter alike
were left to assign the Marquis' desertion, naturally enough, to
the riot at the Feydau. They laid that with the rest to the account
of Scaramouche, and were forced in bitterness to admit that the
scoundrel had taken a superlative revenge. C1imene may even have
come to consider that it would have paid her better to have run a
straight course with Scaramouche and by marrying him to have trusted
to his undoubted talents to place her on the summit to which her
ambition urged her, and to which it was now futile for her to aspire.
If so, that reflection must have been her sufficient punishment.
For, as Andre-Louis so truly says, there is no worse hell than that
provided by the regrets for wasted opportunities.

Meanwhile the fiercely sought Andre-Louis Moreau had gone to earth
completely for the present. And the brisk police of Paris, urged
on by the King's Lieutenant from Rennes, hunted for him in vain.
Yet he might have been found in a house in the Rue du Hasard within
a stone's throw of the Palais Royal, whither purest chance had
conducted him.

That which in his letter to Le Chapelier he represents as a
contingency of the near future was, in fact, the case in which
already he found himself. He was destitute. His money was
exhausted, including that procured by the sale of such articles of
adornment as were not of absolute necessity.

So desperate was his case that strolling one gusty April morning
down the Rue du Hasard with his nose in the wind looking for what
might be picked up, he stopped to read a notice outside the door
of a house on the left side of the street as you approach the Rue
de Richelieu. There was no reason why he should have gone down
the Rue du Hasard. Perhaps its name attracted him, as appropriate
to his case.

The notice written in a big round hand announced that a young man
of good address with some knowledge of swordsmanship was required
by M. Bertrand des Amis on the second floor. Above this notice
was a black oblong board, and on this a shield, which in vulgar
terms may be described as red charged with two swords crossed and
four fleurs de lys, one in each angle of the saltire. Under the
shield, in letters of gold, ran the legend:


Maitre en fait d'Armes des Academies du Roi

Andre-Louis stood considering. He could claim, he thought, to
possess the qualifications demanded. He was certainly young and
he believed of tolerable address, whilst the fencing-lessons he had
received in Nantes had given him at least an elementary knowledge
of swordsmanship. The notice looked as if it had been pinned there
some days ago, suggesting that applicants for the post were not very
numerous. In that case perhaps M. Bertrand des Amis would not be too
exigent. And anyway, Andre-Louis had not eaten for four-and-twenty
hours, and whilst the employment here offered - the precise nature
of which he was yet to ascertain - did not appear to be such as
Andre-Louis would deliberately have chosen, he was in no case now to
be fastidious.

Then, too, he liked the name of Bertrand des Amis. It felicitously
combined suggestions of chivalry and friendliness. Also the man's
profession being of a kind that is flavoured with romance it was
possible that M. Bertrand des Amis would not ask too many questions.

In the end he climbed to the second floor. On the landing he paused
outside a door, on which was written "Academy of M. Bertrand des
Amis." He pushed this open, and found himself in a sparsely
furnished, untenanted antechamber. From a room beyond, the door of
which was closed, came the stamping of feet, the click and slither
of steel upon steel, and dominating these sounds a vibrant sonorous
voice speaking a language that was certainly French; but such
French as is never heard outside a fencing-school.

"Coulez! Mais, coulez donc!....So! Now the flanconnade - en
carte....And here is the riposte....Let us begin again. Come! The
ward of fierce....Make the coupe, and then the quinte par dessus
les armes....0, mais allongez! Allongez! Allez au fond!" the voice
cried in expostulation. "Come, that was better." The blades ceased.

"Remember: the hand in pronation, the elbow not too far out. That
will do for to-day. On Wednesday we shall see you tirer au mur.
It is more deliberate. Speed will follow when the mechanism of the
movements is more assured."

Another voice murmured in answer. The steps moved aside. The
lesson was at an end. Andre-Louis tapped on the door.

It was opened by a tall, slender, gracefully proportioned man of
perhaps forty. Black silk breeches and stockings ending in light
shoes clothed him from the waist down. Above he was encased to the
chin in a closely fitting plastron of leather, His face was aquiline
and swarthy, his eyes full and dark, his mouth firm and his clubbed
hair was of a lustrous black with here and there a thread of silver

in the crook of his left arm he carried a fencing-mask, a thing of
leather with a wire grating to protect the eyes. His keen glance
played over Andre-Louis from head to foot.

"Monsieur?" he inquired, politely.

It was clear that he mistook Andre-Louis' quality, which is not
surprising, for despite his sadly reduced fortunes, his exterior was
irreproachable, and M. des Amis was not to guess that he carried
upon his back the whole of his possessions.

"You have a notice below, monsieur," he said, and from the swift
lighting of the fencing-master's eyes he saw that he had been
correct in his assumption that applicants for the position had not
been jostling one another on his threshold. And then that flash of
satisfaction was followed by a look of surprise.

"You are come in regard to that?"

Andre-Louis shrugged and half smiled. "One must live," said he.

"But come in. Sit down there. I shall be at your....I shall be
free to attend to you in a moment."

Andre-Louis took a seat on the bench ranged against one of the
whitewashed walls. The room was long and low, its floor entirely
bare. Plain wooden forms such as that which he occupied were placed
here and there against the wall. These last were plastered with
fencing trophies, masks, crossed foils, stuffed plastrons, and a
variety of swords, daggers, and targets, belonging to a variety of
ages and countries. There was also a portrait of an obese, big-nosed
gentleman in an elaborately curled wig, wearing the blue ribbon of
the Saint Esprit, in whom Andre-Louis recognized the King. And there
was a framed parchment - M. des Amis' certificate from the King's
Academy. A bookcase occupied one corner, and near this, facing the
last of the four windows that abundantly lighted the long room, there
was a small writing-table and an armchair. A plump and beautifully
dressed young gentleman stood by this table in the act of resuming
coat and wig. M. des Amis sauntered over to him - moving, thought
Andre-Louis, with extraordinary grace and elasticity - and stood in
talk with him whilst also assisting him to complete his toilet.

At last the young gentleman took his departure, mopping himself with
a fine kerchief that left a trail of perfume on the air. M. des
Amis closed the door, and turned to the applicant, who rose at once.

"Where have you studied?" quoth the fencing-master abruptly.

"Studied?" Andre-Louis was taken aback by the question. "Oh, at
Louis Le Grand."

M. des Amis frowned, looking up sharply as if to see whether his
applicant was taking the liberty of amusing himself.

"In Heaven's name! I am not asking you where you did your
humanities, but in what academy you studied fencing."

"Oh - fencing!" It had hardly ever occurred to Andre-Louis that
the sword ranked seriously as a study. "I never studied it very
much. I had some lessons in... in the country once.

The master's eyebrows went up. "But then?" he cried. "Why trouble
to come up two flights of stairs?" He was impatient.

"The notice does not demand a high degree of proficiency. If I am
not proficient enough, yet knowing the rudiments I can easily
improve. I learn most things readily," Andre-Louis commended himself.
"For the rest: I possess the other qualifications. I am young, as
you observe: and I leave you to judge whether I am wrong in assuming
that my address is good. I am by profession a man of the robe,
though I realize that the motto here is cedat toga armis."

M. des Amis smiled approvingly. Undoubtedly the young man had a
good address, and a certain readiness of wit, it would appear. He
ran a critical eye over his physical points. "What is your name?"
he asked.

Andre-Louis hesitated a moment. "Andre-Louis," he said.

The dark, keen eyes conned him more searchingly.

"Well? Andre-Louis what?"

"Just Andre-Louis. Louis is my surname."

"Oh! An odd surname. You come from Brittany by your accent. Why
did you leave it?"

"To save my skin," he answered, without reflecting. And then made
haste to cover the blunder. "I have an enemy," he explained.

M. des Amis frowned, stroking his square chin. "You ran away?"

"You may say so.

"A coward, eh?"

"I don't think so." And then he lied romantically. Surely a man
who lived by the sword should have a weakness for the romantic.
"You see, my enemy is a swordsman of great strength - the best blade
in the province, if not the best blade in France. That is his
repute. I thought I would come to Paris to learn something of the
art, and then go back and kill him. That, to be frank, is why your
notice attracted me. You see, I have not the means to take lessons
otherwise. I thought to find work here in the law. But I have
failed. There are too many lawyers in Paris as it is, and whilst
waiting I have consumed the little money that I had, so that... so
that, enfin, your notice seemed to me something to which a special
providence had directed me."

M. des Amis gripped him by the shoulders, and looked into his face.

"Is this true, my friend?" he asked.

"Not a word of it," said Andre-Louis, wrecking his chances on an
irresistible impulse to say the unexpected. But he didn't wreck
them. M. des Amis burst into laughter; and having laughed his fill,
confessed himself charmed by his applicant's fundamental honesty.

"Take off your coat," he said, "and let us see what you can do.
Nature, at least, designed you for a swordsman. You are light,
active, and supple, with a good length of arm, and you seem
intelligent. I may make something of you, teach you enough for my
purpose, which is that you should give the elements of the art to
new pupils before I take them in hand to finish them. Let us try.
Take that mask and foil, and come over here.

He led him to the end of the room, where the bare floor was scored
with lines of chalk to guide the beginner in the management of his

At the end of a ten minutes' bout, M. des Amis offered him the
situation, and explained it. In addition to imparting the rudiments
of the art to beginners, he was to brush out the fencing-room every
morning, keep the foils furbished, assist the gentlemen who came for
lessons to dress and undress, and make himself generally useful.
His wages for the present were to be forty livres a month, and he
might sleep in an alcove behind the fencing-room if he had no other

The position, you see, had its humiliations. But, if Andre-Louis
would hope to dine, he must begin by eating his pride as an hors

"And so," he said, controlling a grimace, "the robe yields not only
to the sword, but to the broom as well. Be it so. I stay."

lt is characteristic of him that, having made that choice, he should
have thrown himself into the work with enthusiasm. It was ever his
way to do whatever he did with all the resources of his mind and
energies of his body. When he was not instructing very young
gentlemen in the elements of the art, showing them the elaborate and
intricate salute - which with a few days' hard practice he had
mastered to perfection - and the eight guards, he was himself hard
at work on those same guards, exercising eye, wrist, and knees.

Perceiving his enthusiasm, and seeing the obvious possibilities it
opened out of turning him into a really effective assistant, M.
des Amis presently took him more seriously in hand.

"Your application and zeal, my friend, are deserving of more than
forty livres a month," the master informed him at the end of a week.
"For the present, however, I will make up what else I consider due
to you by imparting to you secrets of this noble art. Your future
depends upon how you profit by your exceptional good fortune in
receiving instruction from me."

Thereafter every morning before the opening of the academy, the
master would fence for half an hour with his new assistant. Under
this really excellent tuition Andre-Louis improved at a rate that
both astounded and flattered M. des Amis. He would have been less
flattered and more astounded had he known that at least half the
secret of Andre-Louis' amazing progress lay in the fact that he was
devouring the contents of the master's library, which was made up
of a dozen or so treatises on fencing by such great masters as La
Bessiere, Danet, and the syndic of the King's Academy, Augustin
Rousseau. To M. des Amis, whose swordsmanship was all based on
practice and not at all on theory, who was indeed no theorist or
student in any sense, that little library was merely a suitable
adjunct to a fencing-academy, a proper piece of decorative furniture.
The books themselves meant nothing to him in any other sense. He
had not the type of mind that could have read them with profit nor
could be understand that another should do so. Andre-Louis, on the
contrary, a man with the habit of study, with the acquired faculty
of learning from books, read those works with enormous profit, kept
their precepts in mind, critically set off those of one master
against those of another, and made for himself a choice which he
proceeded to put into practice.

At the end of a month it suddenly dawned upon M. des Amis that his
assistant had developed into a fencer of very considerable force,
a man in a bout with whom it became necessary to exert himself if
he were to escape defeat.

"I said from the first," he told him one day, "that Nature designed
you for a swordsman. See how justified I was, and see also how well
I have known how to mould the material with which Nature has
equipped you."

"To the master be the glory," said Andre-Louis.

His relations with M. des Amis had meanwhile become of the
friendliest, and he was now beginning to receive from him other
pupils than mere beginners. In fact Andre-Louis was becoming an
assistant in a much fuller sense of the word. M. des Amis, a
chivalrous, open-handed fellow, far from taking advantage of what
he had guessed to be the young man's difficulties, rewarded his
zeal by increasing his wages to four louis a month.

>From the' earnest and thoughtful study of the theories of others,
it followed now - as not uncommonly happens - that Andre-Louis came
to develop theories of his own. He lay one June morning on his
little truckle bed in the alcove behind the academy, considering a
passage that he had read last night in Danet on double and triple
feints. It had seemed to him when reading it that Danet had stopped
short on the threshold of a great discovery in the art of fencing.
Essentially a theorist, Andre-Louis perceived the theory suggested,
which Danet himself in suggesting it had not perceived. He lay now
on his back, surveying the cracks in the ceiling and considering
this matter further with the lucidity that early morning often
brings to an acute intelligence. You are to remember that for close
upon two months now the sword had been Andre-Louis' daily exercise
and almost hourly thought. Protracted concentration upon the subject
was giving him an extraordinary penetration of vision. Swordsmanship
as he learnt and taught and saw it daily practised consisted of a
series of attacks and parries, a series of disengages from one line
into another. But always a limited series. A half-dozen disengages
on either side was, strictly speaking, usually as far as any
engagement went. Then one recommenced. But even so, these
disengages were fortuitous. What if from first to last they should
be calculated?

That was part of the thought - one of the two legs on which his
theory was to stand; the other was: what would happen if one so
elaborated Danet's ideas on the triple feint as to merge them into
a series of actual calculated disengages to culminate at the fourth
or fifth or even sixth disengage? That is to say, if one were to
make a series of attacks inviting ripostes again to be countered,
each of which was not intended to go home, but simply to play the
opponent's blade into a line that must open him ultimately, and as
predetermined, for an irresistible lunge. Each counter of the
opponent's would have to be preconsidered in this widening of his
guard, a widening so gradual that he should himself be unconscious
of it, and throughout intent upon getting home his own point on
one of those counters.

Andre-Louis had been in his time a chess-player of some force, and
at chess he had excelled by virtue of his capacity for thinking
ahead. That virtue applied to fencing should all but revolutionize
the art. It was so applied already, of course, but only in an
elementary and very limited fashion, in mere feints, single, double,
or triple. But even the triple feint should be a clumsy device
compared with this method upon which he theorized.

He considered further, and the conviction grew that he held the key
of a discovery. He was impatient to put his theory to the test.

That morning he was given a pupil of some force, against whom
usually he was hard put to it to defend himself. Coming on guard,
he made up his mind to hit him on the fourth disengage,
predetermining the four passes that should lead up to it. They
engaged in tierce, and Andre-Louis led the attack by a beat and a
straightening of the arm. Came the demi-contre he expected, which
he promptly countered by a thrust in quinte; this being countered
again, he reentered still lower, and being again correctly parried,
as he had calculated, he lunged swirling his point into carte, and
got home full upon his opponent's breast. The ease of it surprised

They began again. This time he resolved to go in on the fifth
disengage, and in on that he went with the same ease. Then,
complicating the matter further, he decided to try the sixth, and
worked out in his mind the combination of the five preliminary
engages. Yet again he succeeded as easily as before.

The young gentleman opposed to him laughed with just a tinge of
mortification in his voice.

"I am all to pieces this morning," he said.

"You are not of your usual force," Andre-Louis politely agreed.
And then greatly daring, always to test that theory of his to the
uttermost: "So much so," he added, "that I could almost be sure
of hitting you as and when I declare."

The capable pupil looked at him with a half-sneer. "Ah, that, no,"
said he.

"Let us try. On the fourth disengage I shall touch you. Allons!
En garde!"

And as he promised, so it happened.

The young gentleman who, hitherto, had held no great opinion of
Andre-Louis' swordsmanship, accounting him well enough for purposes
of practice when the master was otherwise engaged, opened wide his
eyes. In a burst of mingled generosity and intoxication, Andre-Louis
was almost for disclosing his method - a method which a little later
was to become a commonplace of the fencing-rooms. Betimes he checked
himself. To reveal his secret would be to destroy the prestige that
must accrue to him from exercising it.

At noon, the academy being empty, M. des Amis called Andre-Louis to
one of the occasional lessons which he still received. And for the
first time in all his experience with Andre-Louis, M. des Amis
received from him a full hit in the course of the first bout. He
laughed, well pleased, like the generous fellow he was.

"Aha! You are improving very fast, my friend." He still laughed,
though not so well pleased, when he was hit in the second bout.
After that he settled down to fight in earnest with the result that
Andre-Louis was hit three times in succession. The speed and
accuracy of the fencing-master when fully exerting himself
disconcerted Andre-Louis' theory, which for want of being exercised
in practice still demanded too much consideration.

But that his theory was sound he accounted fully established, and
with that, for the moment, he was content. It remained only to
perfect by practice the application of it. To this he now devoted
himself with the passionate enthusiasm of the discoverer. He
confined himself to a half-dozen combinations, which he practised
assiduously until each had become almost automatic. And he proved
their infallibility upon the best among M. des Amis' pupils.

Finally, a week or so after that last bout of his with des Amis,
the master called him once more to practice.

Hit again in the first bout, the master set himself to exert all
his skill against his assistant. But to-day it availed him nothing
before Andre-Louis' impetuous attacks.

After the third hit, M. des Amis stepped back and pulled off his

"What's this?" he asked. He was pale, and his dark brows were
contracted in a frown. Not in years had he been so wounded in his
self-love. "Have you been taught a secret botte?"

He had always boasted that he knew too much about the sword to
believe any nonsense about secret bottes; but this performance of
Andre-Louis' had shaken his convictions on that score.

"No," said Andre-Louis. "I have been working hard; and it happens
that I fence with my brains."

"So I perceive. Well, well, I think I have taught you enough, my
friend. I have no intention of having an assistant who is superior
to myself."

"Little danger of that," said Andre-Louis, smiling pleasantly.
"You have been fencing hard all morning, and you are tired, whilst
I, having done little, am entirely fresh. That is the only secret
of my momentary success.

His tact and the fundamental good-nature of M. des Amis prevented
the matter from going farther along the road it was almost
threatening to take. And thereafter, when they fenced together,
Andre-Louis, who continued daily to perfect his theory into an
almost infallible system, saw to it that M. des Amis always scored
against him at least two hits for every one of his own. So much
he would grant to discretion, but no more. He desired that M. des
Amis should be conscious of his strength, without, however,
discovering so much of its real extent as would have excited in
him an unnecessary degree of jealousy.

And so well did he contrive that whilst he became ever of greater
assistance to the master - for his style and general fencing, too,
had materially improved - he was also a source of pride to him as
the most brilliant of all the pupils that had ever passed through
his academy. Never did Andre-Louis disillusion him by revealing
the fact that his skill was due far more to M. des Amis' library
and his own mother wit than to any lessons received.

Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
General Fiction

Romance Literature
Nabou.com: the big site