I was invited to tea with the Dowager Comtesse R- and Mlle Clementine today, but when I arrived I found that Clementine would "not be joining us," and that was all the explanation I received. The old bat then proceeded to tell me that a gentleman, and a friend of the family, had expressed great interest in Clementine, and that she was considering whether it would not be best that her daughter be presented after her marriage. I inquired after the identity of the gentleman and nearly choked on my tea when I was told that it was the Marquis de Menars!
While my mind was trying to form a reasonable objection, my feelings must have registered on my face, because the Comtesse took a very brutal approach in informing me that though HE was a very close friend of the famly, HE had not insinuated his way into their affairs during a very sensitive time, for which they were very appreciative. It was all I could do to hold my tongue and not reply that he did not seem like such a fond family friend when her late son, and my friend, had nearly slit his throat in their duel.
I composed my thoughts, and replied instead that if she felt that presenting her daughter after her marriage to a Marquis was preferable then of course she should follow her own inclination, but that the Duc, my cousin should be informed as soon as her decision was made as he had informed many of his friends that they should profit by making her acquaintance. At that I could see the bat's countenance freeze and grow pensive.
I made to take my leave, and then pretending an afterthought I said "Are the Marquis' prospects assured?" She informed me that they were, at which I feigned some mild surprised and said "I had thought I had heard a rumor, but apparently it is to be disregarded, like so many rumors. I personally have never given any credence to the one that he declared he would lock his wife away as soon as he married, that he may more freely spend her dowry, and nor should you."
That will leave her spinning for a few days at least. First she will have to re-check his financial arrangements, then if she is a mother with any heart (of which I am not assured), she will ponder his suitability for Clementine, perhaps she will even make a few new stipulations to any contract being drawn up. With all of that on her mind she may take heed of the fact that being presented by a Duc, whose connections will certainly throw her into the path of others of his rank, might lead to a more advantageous match.
Finally, should she decide to go to the Marquis de Menars with these rumors, even if she were to tell him the source, he could hardly tell her the truth. That he pursued me, and that I refused him? That will make him sound desperate and me lucky to have escaped; and he will certainly not tell her that it all led to a duel with her son, who cared enough for me to defend my honor against him, and who gave him the scar he now hides behind his cravat. I wonder what Menars' reason is for wanting to marry Clementine. Vengeance? Would he mistreat her since he cannot hurt her brother now?
I must get a note to Clementine and warn her that he is not the charming man that he can seem to be.