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|The Scarlet Pimpernel||Baroness Emmuska Orczy|
|Page 3 of 8||
It was very obvious that he was exhausted from sheer physical pain, and when at last the rope gave way, he fell in a heap against the rock.
Marguerite looked helplessly round her.
"Oh! for a drop of water on this awful beach!" she cried in agony, seeing that he was ready to faint again.
"Nay, m'dear," he murmured with his good-humoured smile, "personally I should prefer a drop of good French brandy! an you'll dive in the pocket of this dirty old garment, you'll find my flask. . . . I am demmed if I can move."
When he had drunk some brandy, he forced Marguerite to do likewise.
"La! that's better now! Eh! little woman?" he said, with a sigh of satisfaction. "Heigh-ho! but this is a queer rig-up for Sir Percy Blakeney, Bart., to be found in by his lady, and no mistake. Begad!" he added, passing his hand over his chin, "I haven't been shaved for nearly twenty hours: I must look a disgusting object. As for these curls. . ."
And laughingly he took off the disfiguring wig and curls, and stretched out his long limbs, which were cramped from many hours' stooping. Then he bent forward and looked long and searchingly into his wife's blue eyes.
"Percy," she whispered, while a deep blush suffused her delicate cheeks and neck, "if you only knew. . ."
"I do know, dear. . .everything," he said with infinite gentleness.
"And can you ever forgive?"
"I have naught to forgive, sweetheart; your heroism, your devotion, which I, alas! so little deserved, have more than atoned for that unfortunate episode at the ball."
"Then you knew?. . ." she whispered, "all the time. . ."
"Yes!" he replied tenderly, "I knew. . .all the time. . . . But, begad! had I but known what a noble heart yours was, my Margot, I should have trusted you, as you deserved to be trusted, and you would not have had to undergo the terrible sufferings of the past few hours, in order to run after a husband, who has done so much that needs forgiveness."
They were sitting side by side, leaning up against a rock, and he had rested his aching head on her shoulder. She certainly now deserved the name of "the happiest woman in Europe."
"It is a case of the blind leading the lame, sweetheart, is it not?" he said with his good-natured smile of old. "Odd's life! but I do not know which are the more sore, my shoulders or your little feet."
He bent forward to kiss them, for they peeped out through her torn stockings, and bore pathetic witness to her endurance and devotion.
"But Armand. . ." she said with sudden terror and remorse, as in the midst of her happiness the image of the beloved brother, for whose sake she had so deeply sinned, rose now before her mind.
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|The Scarlet Pimpernel
Baroness Emmuska Orczy
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