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|Part III||Baroness Emmuska Orczy|
|Page 1 of 5||
Silence reigned in the narrow cell for a few moments, whilst two human jackals stood motionless over their captured prey.
A savage triumph gleamed in Chauvelin's eyes, and even Heron, dull and brutal though he was, had become vaguely conscious of the great change that had come over the prisoner.
Blakeney, with a gesture and a sigh of hopeless exhaustion had once more rested both his elbows on the table; his head fell heavy and almost lifeless downward in his arms.
"Curse you, man!" cried Heron almost involuntarily. "Why in the name of hell did you wait so long?"
Then, as the prisoner made no reply, but only raised his head slightly, and looked on the other two men with dulled, wearied eyes, Chauvelin interposed calmly:
"More than a fortnight has been wasted in useless obstinacy, Sir Percy. Fortunately it is not too late."
"Capet?" said Heron hoarsely, "tell us, where is Capet?"
He leaned across the table, his eyes were bloodshot with the keenness of his excitement, his voice shook with the passionate desire for the crowning triumph.
"If you'll only not worry me," murmured the prisoner; and the whisper came so laboriously and so low that both men were forced to bend their ears close to the scarcely moving lips; "if you will let me sleep and rest, and leave me in peace--"
"The peace of the grave, man," retorted Chauvelin roughly; "if you will only speak. Where is Capet?"
"I cannot tell you; the way is long, the road--intricate."
"I'll lead you to him, if you will give me rest."
"We don't want you to lead us anywhere," growled Heron with a smothered curse; "tell us where Capet is; we'll find him right enough."
"I cannot explain; the way is intricate; the place off the beaten track, unknown except to me and my friends."
Once more that shadow, which was so like the passing of the hand of Death, overspread the prisoner's face; his head rolled back against the chair.
"He'll die before he can speak," muttered Chauvelin under his breath. "You usually are well provided with brandy, citizen Heron."
The latter no longer demurred. He saw the danger as clearly as did his colleague. It had been hell's own luck if the prisoner were to die now when he seemed ready to give in. He produced a flask from the pocket of his coat, and this he held to Blakeney's lips.
"Beastly stuff," murmured the latter feebly. "I think I'd sooner faint--than drink."
"Capet? where is Capet?" reiterated Heron impatiently. "One--two-- three hundred leagues from here. I must let one of my friends know; he'll communicate with the others; they must be prepared," replied the prisoner slowly.
Heron uttered a blasphemous oath.
Where is Capet? Tell us where Capet is, or--"
He was like a raging tiger that bad thought to hold its prey and suddenly realised that it was being snatched from him. He raised his fist, and without doubt the next moment he would Lave silenced forever the lips that held the precious secret, but Chauvelin fortunately was quick enough to seize his wrist.
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Baroness Emmuska Orczy
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