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|The Scarlet Pimpernel||Baroness Emmuska Orczy|
ONE O'CLOCK PRECISELY!
|Page 3 of 5||
"What are you going to do?" she asked.
She was pale as a statue, her hands were icy cold, her head and heart throbbed with the awful strain upon her nerves. Oh, this was cruel! cruel! What had she done to have deserved all this? Her choice was made: had she done a vile action or one that was sublime? The recording angel, who writes in the book of gold, alone could give an answer.
"What are you going to do?" she repeated mechanically.
"Oh, nothing for the present. After that it will depend."
"On whom I shall see in the supper-room at one o'clock precisely."
"You will see the Scarlet Pimpernel, of course. But you do not know him."
"No. But I shall presently."
"Sir Andrew will have warned him."
"I think not. When you parted from him after the minuet he stood and watched you, for a moment or two, with a look which gave me to understand that something had happened between you. It was only natural, was it not? that I should make a shrewd guess as to the nature of that `something.' I thereupon engaged the young man in a long and animated conversation--we discussed Herr Gluck's singular success in London--until a lady claimed his arm for supper."
"I did not lose sight of him through supper. When we all came upstairs again, Lady Portarles buttonholed him and started on the subject of pretty Mlle. Suzanne de Tournay. I knew he would not move until Lady Portarles had exhausted on the subject, which will not be for another quarter of an hour at least, and it is five minutes to one now."
He was preparing to go, and went up to the doorway where, drawing aside the curtain, he stood for a moment pointing out to Marguerite the distant figure of Sir Andrew Ffoulkes in close conversation with Lady Portarles.
"I think," he said, with a triumphant smile, "that I may safely expect to find the person I seek in the dining-room, fair lady."
"There may be more than one."
"Whoever is there, as the clock strikes one, will be shadowed by one of my men; of these, one, or perhaps two, or even three, will leave for France to-morrow. ONE of these will be the `Scarlet Pimpernel.'"
"I also, fair lady, will leave for France to-morrow. The papers found at Dover upon the person of Sir Andrew Ffoulkes speak of the neighborhood of Calais, of an inn which I know well, called `Le Chat Gris,' of a lonely place somewhere on the coast--the Pere Blanchard's hut--which I must endeavor to find. All these places are given as the point where this meddlesome Englishman has bidden the traitor de Tournay and others to meet his emissaries. But it seems that he has decided not to send his emissaries, that `he will start himself to-morrow.' Now, one of these persons whom I shall see anon in the supper-room, will be journeying to Calais, and I shall follow that person, until I have tracked him to where those fugitive aristocrats await him; for that person, fair lady, will be the man whom I have sought for, for nearly a year, the man whose energies has outdone me, whose ingenuity has baffled me, whose audacity has set me wondering--yes! me!--who have seen a trick or two in my time--the mysterious and elusive Scarlet Pimpernel."
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|The Scarlet Pimpernel
Baroness Emmuska Orczy
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