t 73, France's ex-president, Emile Beaufort, faces declining health, but he still plays a vigorous role behind the scenes as a philosopher and, potentially, as a power broker. In particular, his relationship with Philippe Chalamont comes into play: Chalamont seems in line to be the next Prime Minister, and Beaufort's history with him is long, deep, and problematic. As Beaufort dictates his memoirs, his narrative take us to occasions, 15 and 20 years before, in which Chalamont and he clashed. Chalamont is not without talent and guile: he comes directly to Beaufort to see if they can sort things out. What will Beaufort, ill health and all, do?

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