The Point Of Honor

Joseph Conrad
The Point Of Honor

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Point Of Honor, by Joseph Conrad This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
Title: The Point Of Honor A Military Tale
Author: Joseph Conrad
Illustrator: Dan Sayre Groesbeck
Release Date: January 29, 2006 [EBook #17620]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by David Widger


Copyright, 1908, by The McClure Company
Copyright, 1907, 1908, by Joseph Conrad

"You will fight no more duels now" Frontispiece
"Bowing before a sylph-like form reclining on a couch"
"The angry clash of arms filled that prim garden"
"You take the nearest brute, Colonel D'Hubert"

Napoleon the First, whose career had the quality of a duel against the whole of Europe, disliked duelling between the officers of his army. The great military emperor was not a swashbuckler, and had little respect for tradition.
Nevertheless, a story of duelling which became a legend in the army runs through the epic of imperial wars. To the surprise and admiration of their fellows, two officers, like insane artists trying to gild refined gold or paint the lily, pursued their private contest through the years of universal carnage. They were officers of cavalry, and their connection with the high-spirited but fanciful animal which carries men into battle seems particularly appropriate. It would be difficult to imagine for heroes of this legend two officers of infantry of the fine, for example, whose fantasy is tamed by much walking exercise and whose valour necessarily must be of a more plodding kind. As to artillery, or engineers whose heads are kept cool on a diet of mathematics, it is simply unthinkable.
The names of the two officers were Feraud and D'Hubert, and they were both lieutenants in a regiment of hussars, but not in the same regiment.
Feraud was doing regimental work, but Lieutenant D'Hubert had the good fortune to be attached to the person of the general commanding the division, as officier d'ordonnance. It was in Strasbourg, and in this agreeable and important garrison, they were enjoying greatly a short interval of peace. They were enjoying it, though both intensely warlike, because it was a sword-sharpening, firelock-cleaning peace dear to a military heart and undamaging to military prestige inasmuch that no one believed in its sincerity or duration.
Under those historical circumstances so favourable to the proper appreciation of military leisure Lieutenant D'Hubert could have been seen one fine afternoon making his way along the street of a cheerful suburb towards Lieutenant Feraud's quarters, which were in a private house with a garden at the back, belonging to an old maiden lady.
His knock at the door was answered instantly by a young maid in Alsatian costume. Her fresh complexion and her long eyelashes, which she lowered modestly at the sight of the tall officer, caused Lieutenant D'Hubert, who was accessible to esthetic impressions, to relax the cold, on-duty expression of his face. At the same time he observed that the girl had over her arm a pair of hussar's breeches, red with a blue stripe.
"Lieutenant Feraud at home?" he inquired benevolently.
"Oh, no, sir. He went out at six this morning."
And the little maid tried to close the door, but Lieutenant D'Hubert, opposing this move with gentle firmness, stepped into the anteroom jingling his spurs.
"Come, my dear. You don't mean to say he has not been home since six o'clock this morning?"
Saying these words, Lieutenant D'Hubert opened without ceremony the door of a room so comfortable and neatly ordered that only from internal evidence in the shape of boots, uniforms and military accoutrements, did he acquire the conviction that it was Lieutenant Feraud's room. And he saw also that Lieutenant Feraud was not at home. The truthful maid had followed him and looked up inquisitively.
"H'm," said Lieutenant D'Hubert, greatly disappointed, for he had already visited all the haunts where a lieutenant of hussars could be found of a fine afternoon. "And do you happen to know, my dear, why he went out at six this morning?"
"No," she answered readily. "He came home late at night and snored. I heard him when I got up at five. Then he dressed himself in his oldest uniform and went out. Service, I suppose."
"Service? Not a bit of it!" cried Lieutenant D'Hubert. "Learn, my child, that he went out so early to fight a duel with a civilian."
She heard the news without a quiver of her dark eyelashes. It was very obvious that the actions of Lieutenant Feraud were generally above criticism. She only looked up for a moment in mute surprise,
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