You are disputing which shall fight me first, but you do not consult me who am most concerned in the matter. I hate you all, but not equally. I hope to kill all four of you, but I am more likely to kill the first than the second, the second than the third, and the third than the last. I claim, then, the right to choose my opponent. If you refuse this right you may kill me, but I shall not fight.”
“It is but fair,” said Porthos and Aramis, hoping he would choose one of them.
Athos and D’Artagnan said nothing, but their silence seemed to imply consent.
“Well, then,” said Mordaunt, “I choose for my adversary the man who, not thinking himself worthy to be called Comte de la Fere, calls himself Athos.”