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|The Scarlet Pimpernel||Baroness Emmuska Orczy|
|Page 2 of 5||
"Al ri', my lord."
Mr. Jellyband did as he was bid--he turned out the quaint old lamp that hung from the raftered ceiling and blew out all the candles.
"Let's have a bottle of wine, Jelly," suggested Sir Andrew.
"Al ri', sir!"
Jellyband went off to fetch the wine. The room now was quite dark, save for the circle of ruddy and fitful light formed by the brightly blazing logs in the hearth.
"Is that all, gentlemen?" asked Jellyband, as he returned with a bottle of wine and a couple of glasses, which he placed on the table.
"That'll do nicely, thanks, Jelly!" said Lord Tony.
"Good-night, my lord! Good-night, sir!"
The two young men listened, whilst the heavy tread of Mr. Jellyband was heard echoing along the passage and staircase. Presently even that sound died out, and the whole of "The Fisherman's Rest" seemed wrapt in sleep, save the two young men drinking in silence beside the hearth.
For a while no sound was heard, even in the coffee-room, save the ticking of the old grandfather's clock and the crackling of the burning wood.
"All right again this time, Ffoulkes?" asked Lord Antony at last.
Sir Andrew had been dreaming evidently, gazing into the fire, and seeing therein, no doubt, a pretty, piquant face, with large brown eyes and a wealth of dark curls round a childish forehead.
"Yes!" he said, still musing, "all right!"
Lord Antony laughed pleasantly as he poured himself out another glass of wine.
"I need not ask, I suppose, whether you found the journey pleasant this time?"
"No, friend, you need not ask," replied Sir Andrew, gaily. "It was all right."
"Then here's to her very good health," said jovial Lord Tony. "She's a bonnie lass, though she IS a French one. And here's to your courtship--may it flourish and prosper exceedingly."
He drained his glass to the last drop, then joined his friend beside the hearth.
"Well! you'll be doing the journey next, Tony, I expect," said Sir Andrew, rousing himself from his meditations, "you and Hastings, certainly; and I hope you may have as pleasant a task as I had, and as charming a travelling companion. You have no idea, Tony. . . ."
"No! I haven't," interrupted his friend pleasantly, "but I'll take your word for it. And now," he added, whilst a sudden earnestness crept over his jovial young face, "how about business?" The two young men drew their chairs closer together, and instinctively, though they were alone, their voices sank to a whisper.
"I saw the Scarlet Pimpernel alone, for a few moments in Calais," said Sir Andrew, "a day or two ago. He crossed over to England two days before we did. He had escorted the party all the way from Paris, dressed--you'll never credit it!--as an old market woman, and driving--until they were safely out of the city--the covered cart, under which the Comtesse de Tournay, Mlle. Suzanne, and the Vicomte lay concealed among the turnips and cabbages. They, themselves, of course, never suspected who their driver was. He drove them right through a line of soldiery and a yelling mob, who were screaming, `A bas les aristos!' But the market cart got through along with some others, and the Scarlet Pimpernel, in shawl, petticoat and hood, yelled `A bas les aristos!' louder than anybody. Faith!" added the young man, as his eyes glowed with enthusiasm for the beloved leader, "that man's a marvel! His cheek is preposterous, I vow!--and that's what carries him through."
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|The Scarlet Pimpernel
Baroness Emmuska Orczy
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