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Part II Baroness Emmuska Orczy

XXIX For The Sake Of That Helpless Innocent

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The men shrugged their shoulders, and both laughed brutally. They had seen worse sights than these, since they served a Republic that ruled by bloodshed and by terror. They were own brothers in callousness and cruelty to those men who on this self-same spot a few months ago had watched the daily agony of a martyred Queen, or to those who had rushed into the Abbaye prison on that awful day in September, and at a word from their infamous leaders had put eighty defenceless prisoners--men, women, and children--to the sword.

"Tell him to say what he has done with Capet," said one of the soldiers now, and this rough command was accompanied with a coarse jest that sent the blood flaring up into Marguerite's pale cheeks.

The brutal laugh, the coarse words which accompanied it, the insult flung at Marguerite, had penetrated to Blakeney's slowly returning consciousness. With sudden strength, that appeared almost supernatural, he jumped to his feet, and before any of the others could interfere he had with clenched fist struck the soldier a full blow on the mouth.

The man staggered back with a curse, the other shouted for help; in a moment the narrow place swarmed with soldiers; Marguerite was roughly torn away from the prisoner's side, and thrust into the far corner of the cell, from where she only saw a confused mass of blue coats and white belts, and--towering for one brief moment above what seemed to her fevered fancy like a veritable sea of heads--the pale face of her husband, with wide dilated eyes searching the gloom for hers.

"Remember!" he shouted, and his voice for that brief moment rang out clear and sharp above the din.

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Then he disappeared behind the wall of glistening bayonets, of blue coats and uplifted arms; mercifully for her she remembered nothing more very clearly. She felt herself being dragged out of the cell, the iron bar being thrust down behind her with a loud clang. Then in a vague, dreamy state of semi-unconsciousness she saw the heavy bolts being drawn back from the outer door, heard the grating of the key in the monumental lock, and the next moment a breath of fresh air brought the sensation of renewed life into her.

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El Dorado
Baroness Emmuska Orczy

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