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Chapter 86: The Trial.
At eight o'clock in the morning Albert had arrived at Beauchamp's door. The valet de chambre had received orders to usher him in at once. Beauchamp was in his bath. "Here I am," said Albert.
"Well, my poor friend," replied Beauchamp, "I expected you."
"I need not say I think you are too faithful and too kind to have spoken of that painful circumstance. Your having sent for me is another proof of your affection. So, without losing time, tell me, have you the slightest idea whence this terrible blow proceeds?"
"I think I have some clew."
"But first tell me all the particulars of this shameful plot." Beauchamp proceeded to relate to the young man, who was overwhelmed with shame and grief, the following facts. Two days previously, the article had appeared in another paper besides the Impartial, and, what was more serious, one that was well known as a government paper. Beauchamp was breakfasting when he read the paragraph. He sent immediately for a cabriolet, and hastened to the publisher's office. Although professing diametrically opposite principles from those of the editor of the other paper, Beauchamp -- as it sometimes, we may say often, happens -- was his intimate friend. The editor was reading, with apparent delight, a leading article in the same paper on beet-sugar, probably a composition of his own.
"Ah, pardieu," said Beauchamp, "with the paper in your hand, my friend, I need not tell you the cause of my visit."
"Are you interested in the sugar question?" asked the editor of the ministerial paper.
"No," replied Beauchamp, "I have not considered the question; a totally different subject interests me."
"What is it?"
"The article relative to Morcerf."
"Indeed? Is it not a curious affair?"
"So curious, that I think you are running a great risk of a prosecution for defamation of character."
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