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Part III Baroness Emmuska Orczy

XLII The Guard-House Of The Rue Ste. Anne

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Outside the rain pattered against the window-panes, the gale whistled mournfully among the stunted trees, but within this room not a sound stirred the deadly stillness of the air, and yet at this moment hatred and love, savage lust and sublime self-abnegation--the most power full passions the heart of man can know--held three men here enchained; each a slave to his dominant passion, each ready to stake his all for the satisfaction of his master. Heron was the first to speak.

"Well!" he said with a fierce oath, "what are we waiting for? The prisoner knows how he stands. Now we can go."

"One moment, citizen," interposed Chauvelin, his quiet manner contrasting strangely with his colleague's savage mood. "You have quite understood, Sir Percy," he continued, directly addressing the prisoner, "the conditions under which we are all of us about to proceed on this journey?"

"All of us?" said Blakeney slowly. "Are you taking it for granted then that I accept your conditions and that I am prepared to proceed on the journey?"

"If you do not proceed on the journey," cried Heron with savage fury, "I'll strangle that woman with my own hands--now!"

Blakeney looked at him for a moment or two through half-closed lids, and it seemed then to those who knew him well, to those who loved him and to the man who hated him, that the mighty sinews almost cracked with the passionate desire to kill. Then the sunken eyes turned slowly to Marguerite, and she alone caught the look--it was a mere flash, of a humble appeal for pardon.

It was all over in a second; almost immediately the tension on the pale face relaxed, and into the eyes there came that look of acceptance--nearly akin to fatalism--an acceptance of which the strong alone are capable, for with them it only comes in the face of the inevitable.

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Now he shrugged his broad shoulders, and once more turning to Heron he said quietly:

"You leave me no option in that case. As you have remarked before, citizen Heron, why should we wait any longer? Surely we can now go."

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El Dorado
Baroness Emmuska Orczy

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