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Nothing, sir, can induce me to surrender my claim."
"I am sorry, count, but in such a matter your views cannot modify mine."
"But allow me to point out that my seniority unquestionably gives me a prior right."
"Mere seniority, I assert, in an affair of this kind, cannot possibly entitle you to any prior claim whatever."
"Then, captain, no alternative is left but for me to compel you to yield at the sword's point."
"As you please, count; but neither sword nor pistol can force me to forego my pretensions. Here is my card."
This rapid altercation was thus brought to an end by the formal interchange of the names of the disputants. On one of the cards was inscribed: _Captain Hector Servadac, Staff Officer, Mostaganem._
On the other was the title: _Count Wassili Timascheff, On board the Schooner "Dobryna."_
It did not take long to arrange that seconds should be appointed, who would meet in Mostaganem at two o'clock that day; and the captain and the count were on the point of parting from each other, with a salute of punctilious courtesy, when Timascheff, as if struck by a sudden thought, said abruptly: "Perhaps it would be better, captain, not to allow the real cause of this to transpire?"