A shadow of nobility

Cyrano: I grow tired of this role, Baron. I am not a messenger – I am a poet, a swordsman, and an artist of these two!
Mr. B: Funny you should mention those two arts. Today, news came that a certain poet, known to both of us and rival to me, for the charms of the Marquise, has been killed. In a duel, no less! I figure that a combination between fencer and writer, such as yourself, is rather unique. And, of course, duels are best held with swords, not with plumes. (laughs)
Cyrano (pales): D is dead? Who was he dueling? And for what?
Mr. B: Oh, the information you carried last time was invaluable. I tell you, Cavalier, the only power that can defeat love is knowledge! It can be equally devastating and equally poisonous.
Cyrano: Pardon my anxiety, Baron, but I am in no mood for philosophical lectures right now! Who killed D?
Mr. B: Cyrano, anxiety is unpardonable. (laughs) The opponent’s identity is immaterial, because it was D who challenged him to the sword fight. As to the reason, it was I who seeded that in D’s mind. Hence, he died in complete ignorance of the truth – killed by an opponent completely ignorant of the reason itself.
Cyrano: And where did the information from the Marquise help in all this contraption of yours?
Mr. B: I find you rather slow this morning, Cavalier. I put that on account of your intellect being clouded by the loss of a friend. The information you got for me, along with the precious scraps of letter you acquired from the Marquise, helped me thread doubt and suspicion in D’s mind, against a carefully chosen swordsman, who was otherwise quite unaware of what I was cooking.
Cyrano: You made D jealous? But that’s impossible. He had given up on the Marquise, he was broken. What more could you have wanted?
Mr. B: Jealous? Oh no, Cyrano. Not jealous. I made him altruistic, selfless! He was the Don Quixote defending the honor of his sweet Dulcineea – oh, you should have seen him, the poor bastard (laughs). I took the liberty of being there when they dueled – poor performance really, it took only a few minutes.
Cyrano: Ah, I understand. You made D perceive his opponent as a threat to the Marquise. And he sought to make one last gesture for her, defending her, helping her at all costs.
Mr. B: Precisely. As to the purpose I had for this plot, again, Cavalier, you surprise me. The goal is so obvious: whether known to her or not, D was the only person, except for myself, with the strength and will to tame that shrew of a Marquise.
Cyrano: Why not kill him yourself then? You are a decent swordsman yourself.
Mr. B: Don’t be so superficial, Cyrano. First, I will not be seen as one of the two imbeciles who ripped each other apart over the Marquise. She would find that sincerely and utterly lame. Second, I will not be so easy to put my own life in peril’s way. Third, there was something in D that filled the Marquise’s heart, he had a spot of his own in there – and I want to conquer that spot, not destroy it. And fourth, and mind this last reason, dear friend – it WAS I who killed him as sure as if I had run him through personally. I merely chose the weapon that best fit me.
Cyrano: Does she know he’s dead? What if she learns of the plot?
Mr. B: There are no loose ends, Cavalier. I talked to the gentleman who killed D, before the duel. I told him to be humane and ask D to call it quits. He happily accepted and, as customary, he cut his arm on D’s blade, to show him he submits and calls the duel to D’s satisfaction. But D refused and continued with the fight, to his unfortunate end. Still, in a bit of Shakespearian inspiration, I had D’s blade poisoned before the events…
Cyrano: I see, Baron. By now the other dueler should also be dead.
Mr. B: Indeed. A noble death, I might add. (laughs)
Cyrano: As noble as your victory, Baron. (smiles bitterly) Let’s drink a cup of your old Porto for the two fine gentlemen who cut you a path, with their swords, to the feet of the Marquise.
Mr. B: I sense sarcasm in your invitation, Cyrano.
Cyrano: Merely reflecting on life and death and their worth, Baron.
Mr. B: I would die for the Marquise, Cyrano, but I would do so only if there is no one left to die for her. I know you have feelings for the Marquise too and you are probably among the many who would give their life for her, but ask yourself who is noblest between us: I who would slay this world and more to have her, or you who ponder the worths of lives and deaths that need be exchanged for her?


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