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|The Scarlet Pimpernel||Baroness Emmuska Orczy|
THE ACCREDITED AGENT
|Page 3 of 7||
The stranger paused when he saw Marguerite coming quickly towards him, and just as she was about to slip past him, he said very quietly:
"Citoyenne St. Just."
Marguerite uttered a little cry of astonishment, at thus hearing her own familiar maiden name uttered so close to her. She looked up at the stranger, and this time, with a cry of unfeigned pleasure, she put out both her hands effusively towards him.
"Chauvelin!" she exclaimed.
"Himself, citoyenne, at your service," said the stranger, gallantly kissing the tips of her fingers.
Marguerite said nothing for a moment or two, as she surveyed with obvious delight the not very prepossessing little figure before her. Chauvelin was then nearer forty than thirty--a clever, shrewd-looking personality, with a curious fox-like expression in the deep, sunken eyes. He was the same stranger who an hour or two previously had joined Mr. Jellyband in a friendly glass of wine.
"Chauvelin. . .my friend. . ." said Marguerite, with a pretty little sigh of satisfaction. "I am mightily pleased to see you."
No doubt poor Marguerite St. Just, lonely in the midst of her grandeur, and of her starchy friends, was happy to see a face that brought back memories of that happy time in Paris, when she reigned--a queen--over the intellectual coterie of the Rue de Richelieu. She did not notice the sarcastic little smile, however, that hovered round the thin lips of Chauvelin.
"But tell me," she added merrily, "what in the world, or whom in the world, are you doing here in England?"
"I might return the subtle compliment, fair lady," he said. "What of yourself?"
"Oh, I?" she said, with a shrug of the shoulders. "Je m'ennuie, mon ami, that is all."
They had reached the porch of "The Fisherman's Rest," but Marguerite seemed loth to go within. The evening air was lovely after the storm, and she had found a friend who exhaled the breath of Paris, who knew Armand well, who could talk of all the merry, brilliant friends whom she had left behind. So she lingered on under the pretty porch, while through the gaily-lighted dormer-window of the coffee-room sounds of laughter, of calls for "Sally" and for beer, of tapping of mugs, and clinking of dice, mingled with Sir Percy Blakeney's inane and mirthless laugh. Chauvelin stood beside her, his shrewd, pale, yellow eyes fixed on the pretty face, which looked so sweet and childlike in this soft English summer twilight.
"You surprise me, citoyenne," he said quietly, as he took a pinch of snuff.
"Do I now?" she retorted gaily. "Faith, my little Chauvelin, I should have thought that, with your penetration, you would have guessed that an atmosphere composed of fogs and virtues would never suit Marguerite St. Just."
"Dear me! is it as bad as that?" he asked, in mock consternation.
"Quite," she retorted, "and worse."
"Strange! Now, I thought that a pretty woman would have found English country life peculiarly attractive."
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|The Scarlet Pimpernel
Baroness Emmuska Orczy
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