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|The Scarlet Pimpernel||Baroness Emmuska Orczy|
|Page 6 of 8||
"You'd better try and find that footpath again for me, and that broken-down cart we left on the road."
Then suddenly a bright idea seemed to strike him.
"Ah! by-the-bye! where is the Jew?"
"Close by here, citoyen," said Desgas; "I gagged him and tied his legs together as you commanded."
From the immediate vicinity, a plaintive moan reached Chauvelin's ears. He followed his secretary, who led the way to the other side of the hut, where, fallen into an absolute heap of dejection, with his legs tightly pinioned together and his mouth gagged, lay the unfortunate descendant of Israel.
His face in the silvery light of the moon looked positively ghastly with terror: his eyes were wide open and almost glassy, and his whole body was trembling, as if with ague, while a piteous wail escaped his bloodless lips. The rope which had originally been wound round his shoulders and arms had evidently given way, for it lay in a tangle about his body, but he seemed quite unconscious of this, for he had not made the slightest attempt to move from the place where Desgas had originally put him: like a terrified chicken which looks upon a line of white chalk, drawn on a table, as on a string which paralyzes its movements.
"Bring the cowardly brute here," commanded Chauvelin.
He certainly felt exceedingly vicious, and since he had no reasonable grounds for venting his ill-humour on the soldiers who had but too punctually obeyed his orders, he felt that the son of the despised race would prove an excellent butt. With true French contempt of the Jew, which has survived the lapse of centuries even to this day, he would not go too near him, but said with biting sarcasm, as the wretched old man was brought in full light of the moon by the two soldiers,--
"I suppose now, that being a Jew, you have a good memory for bargains?"
"Answer!" he again commanded, as the Jew with trembling lips seemed too frightened to speak.
"Yes, your Honour," stammered the poor wretch.
"You remember, then, the one you and I made together in Calais, when you undertook to overtake Reuben Goldstein, his nag and my friend the tall stranger? Eh?"
"B. . .b. . .but. . .your Honour. . ."
"There is no `but.' I said, do you remember?"
"Y. . .y. . .y. . .yes. . .your Honour!" "What was the bargain?"
There was dead silence. The unfortunate man looked round at the great cliffs, the moon above, the stolid faces of the soldiers, and even at the poor, prostate, inanimate woman close by, but said nothing.
"Will you speak?" thundered Chauvelin, menacingly.
He did try, poor wretch, but, obviously, he could not. There was no doubt, however, that he knew what to expect from the stern man before him.
"Your Honour. . ." he ventured imploringly.
"Since your terror seems to have paralyzed your tongue," said Chauvelin sarcastically, "I must needs refresh your memory. It was agreed between us, that if we overtook my friend the tall stranger, before he reached this place, you were to have ten pieces of gold."
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|The Scarlet Pimpernel
Baroness Emmuska Orczy
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