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|Part III||Baroness Emmuska Orczy|
|Page 3 of 6||
But now he gave a grunt of impatience.
"We are wasting time, citizen Chauvelin," he muttered. "I have still a great deal to see to if we are to start at dawn. Get the d--d letter written, and--"
The rest of the phrase was lost in an indistinct and surly murmur. Chauvelin, after a shrug of the shoulders, paid no further heed to him; he turned, bland and urbane, once more to the prisoner.
"I see with pleasure, Sir Percy," he said, "that we thoroughly understand one another. Having had a few hours' rest you will, I know, feel quite ready for the expedition. Will you kindly indicate to me the direction in which we will have to travel?"
"Northwards all the way."
"Towards the coast?"
"The place to which we must go is about seven leagues from the sea."
"Our first objective then will be Beauvais, Amiens, Abbeville, Crecy, and so on?"
"As far as the forest of Boulogne, shall we say?"
"Where we shall come off the beaten track, and you will have to trust to my guidance."
"We might go there now, Sir Percy, and leave you here."
"You might. But you would not then find the child. Seven leagues is not far from the coast. He might slip through your fingers."
"And my colleague Heron, being disappointed, would inevitably send you to the guillotine."
"Quite so," rejoined the prisoner placidly. "Methought, sir, that we. had decided that I should lead this little expedition? Surely," he added, "it is not so much the Dauphin whom you want as my share in this betrayal."
"You are right as usual, Sir Percy. Therefore let us take that as settled. We go as far as Crecy, and thence place ourselves entirely in your hands."
"The journey should not take more than three days, sir."
"During which you will travel in a coach in the company of my friend Heron."
"I could have chosen pleasanter company, sir; still, it will serve."
"This being settled, Sir Percy. I understand that you desire to communicate with one of your followers."
"Some one must let the others know ... those who have the Dauphin in their charge."
"Quite so. Therefore I pray you write to one of your friends that you have decided to deliver the Dauphin into our hands in exchange for your own safety."
"You said just now that this you would not guarantee," interposed Blakeney quietly.
"If all turns out well," retorted Chauvelin with a show of contempt, "and if you will write the exact letter which I shall dictate, we might even give you that guarantee."
"The quality of your mercy, sir, passes belief."
"Then I pray you write. Which of your followers will have the honour of the communication?"
"My brother-in-law, Armand St. Just; he is still in Paris, I believe. He can let the others know."
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Baroness Emmuska Orczy
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