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By Arturo Perez-Reverte

The unstoppable thrust is the arcane fencing process recognized merely by means of Don Jaime—and the lethal maneuver attractive younger lady desires him to coach her.What starts off as a slightly daring request leads Don Jaime into the shadowy politics and violence of mid-nineteenth-century Madrid.

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Thoroughly unabashed, she ran a finger alongside the backs of a few of the various books filling the dusty oak bookshelves: a dozen outdated treatises on fencing, certain copies of Dumas, Hugo, Balzac. there have been additionally a couple of volumes of Plutarch's Parallel Lives, a much-read Homer, Novalis's Heinrich von Ofterdingen, numerous titles through Chateaubriand and Vigny, in addition to a variety of memoirs and technical treatises examining the army campaigns of the 1st Empire; such a lot have been written in French. Don Jaime excused himself for a second and, going into the bed room, exchanged his dressing costume for a frock coat, hurriedly tying his tie. while he back to the lounge, the younger girl used to be learning an outdated oil portray, grown darkish with the years, placing at the wall among old swords and rusty daggers. "Is he a member of your loved ones? " she requested, pointing to the skinny, younger, particularly serious face in retrospect at them from in the body. the fellow used to be wearing the style of the early a part of the century, and his faded eyes seemed the realm as though he discovered it now not completely convincing. His huge forehead and his air of dignified austerity gave him a marked resemblance to Don Jaime. "He's my father. " Señora de Otero seemed from the portrait to Don Jaime and again back on the portrait, as though to check the reality of his phrases. She appeared chuffed. "A good-looking man," she acknowledged in that friendly, a little bit hoarse voice. "How outdated was once he whilst he sat for the portray? " "I have no idea. He died whilst he was once thirty-one, months ahead of i used to be born, combating opposed to Napoleon's troops. " "He used to be a soldier? " The younger lady appeared certainly drawn to the tale. "No, he was once an Aragonese gentleman, a kind of upright males who hate being instructed what to do. He took to the hills with a bunch of alternative males and killed Frenchmen until eventually they killed him. " A tremor of satisfaction shook the fencing master's voice. "They say he died by myself, hunted down like a puppy, berating in first-class French the warriors who got here for him with their bayonets. " She remained for a second together with her eyes mounted at the portrait, as she had performed all of the whereas he spoke. She bit her reduce lip thoughtfully, however the enigmatic smile made indelible through that small scar lingered on the nook of her mouth. Then she became slowly to stand him. "I am conscious that my presence the following disturbs you, Don Jaime. " He refrained from her gaze, no longer realizing what to claim. Señora de Otero got rid of her hat and placed it down, in addition to the parasol, at the paper-strewn desk. She used to be donning her hair collected in the back of her neck, as she had on their first assembly. It struck Don Jaime that her blue costume further an strange be aware of colour to the room's in a different way austere décor. "May I take a seat? " appeal and seduction. It used to be transparent that this used to be now not the 1st time she had made use of those guns. "I used to be out for a stroll, and this warmth is stifling. " Don Jaime muttered a moved quickly excuse for his loss of attention and requested her to have a seat in a leather-based armchair worn and cracked with use. He drew up a footstool for himself, positioned it at an inexpensive distance from her, and sat stiff and circumspect.

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