"I remain, sir, etc."
I answered this immediately, informing him I would call on him the next day, at six o'clock in the morning.
Shortly after, I received a second letter, in which he said that I might choose the arms and place, but that our differences must be settled in the course of the day.
I sent him the measure of my sword, which was thirty-two inches long, telling him he might choose any place beyond the ban. In reply, I had the following:
"Sir,--You will greatly oblige me by coming now. I have sent my carriage.
"I have the honour to be, etc."
I replied that I had business all the day, and that as I had made up my mind not to call upon him, except for the purpose of fighting, I begged him not to be offended if I took the liberty of sending back his carriage.
An hour later Branicki called in person, leaving his suite at the door. He came into the room, requested some gentlemen who were talking with me to leave us alone, locked the door after them, and then sat down on my bed. I did not understand what all this meant so I took up my pistols.
"Don't be afraid," said he, "I am not come to assassinate you, but merely to say that I accept your proposal, on condition only that the duel shall take place to-day. If not, never!"
"It is out of the question. I have letters to write, and some business to do for the king."
"That will do afterwards. In all probability you will not fall, and if you do I am sure the king will forgive you. Besides, a dead man need fear no reproaches."
"I want to make my will."
"Come, come, you needn't be afraid of dying; it will be time enough for you to make your will in fifty years."
"But why should your excellency not wait till tomorrow?"
"I don't want to be caught."
"You have nothing of the kind to fear from me."
"I daresay, but unless we make haste the king will have us both arrested."
"How can he, unless you have told him about our quarrel?"
"Ah, you don't understand! Well, I am quite willing to give you satisfaction, but it must be to-day or never."
"Very good. This duel is too dear to my heart for me to leave you any pretext for avoiding it. Call for me after dinner, for I shall want all my strength."
"Certainly. For my part I like a good supper after, better than a good dinner before."
"Everyone to his taste."
"True. By the way, why did you send me the length of your sword? I intend to fight with pistols, for I never use swords with unknown persons."
"What do you mean? I beg of you to refrain from insulting me in my own house. I do not intend to fight with pistols, and you cannot compel me to do so, for I have your letter giving me the choice of weapons."
"Strictly speaking, no doubt you are in the right; but I am sure you are too polite not to give way, when I assure you that you will lay me under a great obligation by doing so. Very often the first shot is a miss, and if that is the case with both of us, I promise to fight with swords as long as you like. Will you oblige me in the matter?"
"Yes, for I like your way of asking, though, in my opinion, a pistol duel is a barbarous affair. I accept, but on the following conditions: You must bring two pistols, charge them in my presence, and give me the choice. If the first shot is a miss, we will fight with swords till the first blood or to the death, whichever you prefer. Call for me at three o'clock, and choose some place where we shall be secure from the law."
"Very good. You are a good fellow, allow me to embrace you. Give me your word of honour not to say a word about it to anyone, for if you did we should be arrested immediately."
"You need not be afraid of my talking; the project is too dear to me."
"Good. Farewell till three o'clock."
As soon as the brave braggart had left me, I placed the papers I was doing for the king apart, and went to Campioni, in whom I had great confidence.
"Take this packet to the king," I said, "if I happen to be killed. You may guess, perhaps, what is going to happen, but do not say a word to anyone, or you will have me for your bitterest enemy, as it would mean loss of honour to me."