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||Part III||Baroness Emmuska Orczy|
XLVII The Chapel Of The Holy Sepulchre
|Page 5 of 5||
"Will the key turn?"
"Yes, citizen. The prisoner is groaning."
"Let him groan."
"The empty coach, citizen? The horses have been taken out."
"Leave it standing where it is, then; citizen Chauvelin will need it in the morning."
"Armand," whispered Marguerite inside the coach, "did you see Percy?"
"It was so dark," murmured Armand feebly; "but I saw him, just inside the gates, where they had laid him down. I heard him groaning. Oh, my God!"
"Hush, dear!" she said. "We can do nothing more, only die, as he lived, bravely and with a smile on our lips, in memory of him."
"Number 35 is wounded, citizen," said one of the men.
"Curse the fool who did the mischief," was the placid response. "Leave him here with the guard."
"How many of you are there left, then?" asked the same voice a moment later.
"Only two, citizen; if one whole section remains with me at the chapel door, and also the wounded man."
"Two are enough for me, and five are not too many at the chapel door." And Heron's coarse, cruel laugh echoed against the stone walls of the little chapel. "Now then, one of you get into the coach, and the other go to the horses' heads; and remember, Corporal Cassard, that you and your men who stay here to guard that chapel door are answerable to the whole nation with your lives for the safety of the Englishman."
The carriage door was thrown open, and a soldier stepped in and sat down opposite Marguerite and Armand. Heron in the meanwhile was apparently scrambling up the box. Marguerite could hear him muttering curses as he groped for the reins, and finally gathered them into his hand.
The springs of the coach creaked and groaned as the vehicle slowly swung round; the wheels ploughed deeply through the soft carpet of dead leaves.
Marguerite felt Armand's inert body leaning heavily against her shoulder.
"Are you in pain, dear?" she asked softly.
He made no reply, and she thought that he had fainted. It was better so; at least the next dreary hours would flit by for him in the blissful state of unconsciousness. Now at last the heavy carriage began to move more evenly. The soldier at the horses' heads was stepping along at a rapid pace.
Marguerite would have given much even now to look back once more at the dense black mass, blacker and denser than any shadow that had ever descended before on God's earth, which held between its cold, cruel walls all that she loved in the world.
But her wrists were fettered by the irons, which cut into her flesh when she moved. She could no longer lean out of the window, and she could not even hear. The whole forest was hushed, the wind was lulled to rest; wild beasts and night-birds were silent and still. And the wheels of the coach creaked in the ruts, bearing Marguerite with every turn further and further away from the man who lay helpless in the chapel of the Holy Sepulchre.
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Baroness Emmuska Orczy
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