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Part III Baroness Emmuska Orczy

XXXVII Chauvelin's Advice

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Heron gave a long, low whistle. Instinctively he threw a furtive, backward glance at the prisoner, then he raised his shifty eyes to his colleague.

There was unbounded admiration expressed in them. One blackguard had met another--a greater one than himself--and was proud to acknowledge him as his master.

"By Lucifer, citizen Chauvelin," he said at last, "I should never have thought of such a thing myself."

Chauvelin put up his hand with a gesture of self-deprecation.

"I certainly think that measure ought to be adequate," he said with a gentle air of assumed modesty, "unless you would prefer to arrest the woman and lodge her here, keeping her here as an hostage."

"No, no!" said Heron with a gruff laugh; "that idea does not appeal to me nearly so much as the other. I should not feel so secure on the way.... I should always be thinking that that cursed woman had been allowed to escape.... No! no! I would rather keep her under my own eye--just as you suggest, citizen Chauvelin ... and under the prisoner's, too," he added with a coarse jest. "If he did not actually see her, he might be more ready to try and save himself at her expense. But, of course, he could not see her shot before his eyes. It is a perfect plan, citizen, arid does you infinite credit; and if the Englishman tricked us," he concluded with a fierce and savage oath, "and we did not find Capet at the end of the journey, I would gladly strangle his wife and his friend with my own hands."

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"A satisfaction which I would not begrudge you, citizen," said Chauvelin dryly. "Perhaps you are right ... the woman had best be kept under your own eye ... the prisoner will never risk her safety on that, I would stake my life. We'll deliver our final 'either--or' the moment that she has joined our party, and before we start further on our way. Now, citizen Heron, you have heard my advice; are you prepared to follow it?"

"To the last letter," replied the other.

And their two hands met in a grasp of mutual understanding--two hands already indelibly stained with much innocent blood, more deeply stained now with seventeen past days of inhumanity and miserable treachery to come.

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El Dorado
Baroness Emmuska Orczy

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