Read Books Online, for Free
|The Scarlet Pimpernel||Baroness Emmuska Orczy|
|Page 3 of 4||
At the top of the stairs, just after she had taken final leave of her host, she suddenly say Chauvelin; he was coming up the stairs slowly, and rubbing his thin hands very softly together.
There was a curious look on his mobile face, partly amused and wholly puzzled, as his keen eyes met Marguerite's they became strangely sarcastic.
"M. Chauvelin," she said, as he stopped on the top of the stairs, bowing elaborately before her, "my coach is outside; may I claim your arm?"
As gallant as ever, he offered her his arm and led her downstairs. The crowd was very great, some of the Minister's guests were departing, others were leaning against the banisters watching the throng as it filed up and down the wide staircase.
"Chauvelin," she said at last desperately, "I must know what has happened."
"What has happened, dear lady?" he said, with affected surprise. "Where? When?"
"You are torturing me, Chauvelin. I have helped you to-night. . .surely I have the right to know. What happened in the dining-room at one o'clock just now?"
She spoke in a whisper, trusting that in the general hubbub of the crowd her words would remain unheeded by all, save the man at her side.
"Quiet and peace reigned supreme, fair lady; at that hour I was asleep in one corner of one sofa and Sir Percy Blakeney in another."
"Nobody came into the room at all?"
"Then we have failed, you and I?"
"Yes! we have failed--perhaps. . ."
"But Armand?" she pleaded.
"Ah! Armand St. Just's chances hang on a thread. . .pray heaven, dear lady, that that thread may not snap."
"Chauvelin, I worked for you, sincerely, earnestly. . . remember. . . ."
"I remember my promise," he said quietly. "The day that the Scarlet Pimpernel and I meet on French soil, St. Just will be in the arms of his charming sister."
"Which means that a brave man's blood will be on my hands," she said, with a shudder.
"His blood, or that of your brother. Surely at the present moment you must hope, as I do, that the enigmatical Scarlet Pimpernel will start for Calais to-day--"
"I am only conscious of one hope, citoyen."
"And that is?"
"That Satan, your master, will have need of you elsewhere, before the sun rises to-day."
"You flatter me, citoyenne."
She had detained him for a while, mid-way down the stairs, trying to get at the thoughts which lay beyond that thin, fox-like mask. But Chauvelin remained urbane, sarcastic, mysterious; not a line betrayed to the poor, anxious woman whether she need fear or whether she dared to hope.
Downstairs on the landing she was soon surrounded. Lady Blakeney never stepped from any house into her coach, without an escort of fluttering human moths around the dazzling light of her beauty. But before she finally turned away from Chauvelin, she held out a tiny hand to him, with that pretty gesture of childish appeal which was essentially her own. "Give me some hope, my little Chauvelin," she pleaded.
|Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
|The Scarlet Pimpernel
Baroness Emmuska Orczy
Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004