Part 3 out of 8
sporting instincts to perhaps a higher plane of self-devotion.
"Well, now, to recapitulate," he said, in turn following with his
finger the indicated route on the map. "Tony and I and the
coal-cart will await you on this spot, at the corner of the
towpath on Sunday evening at nine o'clock."
"And your signal, Blakeney?" asked Tony.
"The usual one," replied Sir Percy, "the seamew's cry thrice
repeated at brief intervals. But now," he continued, turning to
Armand and Hastings, who had taken no part in the discussion
hitherto, "I want your help a little further afield."
"I thought so," nodded Hastings.
"The coal-cart, with its usual miserable nag, will carry us a
distance of fifteen or sixteen kilometres, but no more. My purpose
is to cut along the north of the city, and to reach St. Germain,
the nearest point where we can secure good mounts. There is a
farmer just outside the commune; his name is Achard. He has
excellent horses, which I have borrowed before now; we shall want
five, of course, and he has one powerful beast that will do for
me, as I shall have, in addition to my own weight, which is
considerable, to take the child with me on the pillion. Now you,
Hastings and Armand, will have to start early to-morrow morning,
leave Paris by the Neuilly gate, and from there make your way to
St. Germain by any conveyance you can contrive to obtain. At St.
Germain you must at once find Achard's farm; disguised as
labourers you will not arouse suspicion by so doing. You will
find the farmer quite amenable to money, and you must secure the
best horses you can get for our own use, and, if possible, the
powerful mount I spoke of just now. You are both excellent
horse-men, therefore I selected you amongst the others for this
special errand, for you two, with the five horses, will have to
come and meet our coal-cart some seventeen kilometres out of St.
Germain, to where the first sign-post indicates the road to
Courbevoie. Some two hundred metres down this road on the right
there is a small spinney, which will afford splendid shelter for
yourselves and your horses. We hope to be there at about one
o'clock after midnight of Monday morning. Now, is all that quite
clear, and are you both satisfied?"
"It is quite clear," exclaimed Hastings placidly; "but I, for one,
am not at all satisfied."
"And why not?"
"Because it is all too easy. We get none of the danger."
"Oho! I thought that you would bring that argument forward, you
incorrigible grumbler," laughed Sir Percy good-humouredly. "Let
me tell you that if you start to-morrow from Paris in that spirit
you will run your head and Armand's into a noose long before you
reach the gate of Neuilly. I cannot allow either of you to cover
your faces with too much grime; an honest farm labourer should not
look over-dirty, and your chances of being discovered and detained
are, at the outset, far greater than those which Ffoulkes and Tony
Armand had said nothing during this time. While Blakeney was
unfolding his plan for him and for Lord Hastings--a plan which
practically was a command--he had sat with his arms folded across
his chest, his head sunk upon his breast. When Blakeney had asked
if they were satisfied, he had taken no part in Hastings' protest
nor responded to his leader's good-humoured banter.
Though he did not look up even now, yet he felt that Percy's eyes
were fixed upon him, and they seemed to scorch into his soul. He
made a great effort to appear eager like the others, and yet from
the first a chill had struck at his heart. He could not leave
Paris before he had seen Jeanne.
He looked up suddenly, trying to seem unconcerned; he even looked
his chief fully in the face.
"When ought we to leave Paris?" he asked calmly.
"You MUST leave at daybreak," replied Blakeney with a slight,
almost imperceptible emphasis on the word of command. "When the
gates are first opened, and the work-people go to and fro at their
work, that is the safest hour. And you must be at St. Germain as
soon as may be, or the farmer may not have a sufficiency of horses
available at a moment's notice. I want you to be spokesman with
Achard, so that Hastings' British accent should not betray you
both. Also you might not get a conveyance for St. Germain
immediately. We must think of every eventuality, Armand. There
is so much at stake."
Armand made no further comment just then. But the others looked
astonished. Armand had but asked a simple question, and
Blakeney's reply seemed almost like a rebuke--so circumstantial
too, and so explanatory. He was so used to being obeyed at a
word, so accustomed that the merest wish, the slightest hint from
him was understood by his band of devoted followers, that the long
explanation of his orders which he gave to Armand struck them all
with a strange sense of unpleasant surprise.
Hastings was the first to break the spell that seemed to have
fallen over the party.
"We leave at daybreak, of course," he said, "as soon as the gates
are open. We can, I know, get one of the carriers to give us a
lift as far as St. Germain. There, how do we find Achard?"
"He is a well-known farmer," replied Blakeney. "You have but to
"Good. Then we bespeak five horses for the next day, find
lodgings in the village that night, and make a fresh start back
towards Paris in the evening of Sunday. Is that right?"
"Yes. One of you will have two horses on the lead, the other one.
Pack some fodder on the empty saddles and start at about ten
o'clock. Ride straight along the main road, as if you were making
back for Paris, until you come to four cross-roads with a
sign-post pointing to Courbevoie. Turn down there and go along the
road until you meet a close spinney of fir-trees on your right.
Make for the interior of that. It gives splendid shelter, and you
can dismount there and give the horses a feed. We'll join you one
hour after midnight. The night will be dark, I hope, and the moon
anyhow will be on the wane."
"I think I understand. Anyhow, it's not difficult, and we'll be
as careful as maybe."
"You will have to keep your heads clear, both of you," concluded
He was looking at Armand as he said this; but the young man had
not made a movement during this brief colloquy between Hastings
and the chief. He still sat with arms folded, his head falling on
Silence had fallen on them all. They all sat round the fire
buried in thought. Through the open window there came from the
quay beyond the hum of life in the open-air camp; the tramp of the
sentinels around it, the words of command from the drill-sergeant,
and through it all the moaning of the wind and the beating of the
sleet against the window-panes.
A whole world of wretchedness was expressed by those sounds!
Blakeney gave a quick, impatient sigh, and going to the window he
pushed it further open, and just then there came from afar the
muffled roll of drums, and from below the watchman's cry that
seemed such dire mockery:
"Sleep, citizens! Everything is safe and peaceful."
"Sound advice," said Blakeney lightly. "Shall we also go to
sleep? What say you all--eh?"
He had with that sudden rapidity characteristic of his every
action, already thrown off the serious air which he had worn a
moment ago when giving instructions to Hastings. His usual
debonnair manner was on him once again, his laziness, his careless
insouciance. He was even at this moment deeply engaged in
flicking off a grain of dust from the immaculate Mechlin ruff at
his wrist. The heavy lids had fallen over the tell-tale eyes as
if weighted with fatigue, the mouth appeared ready for the laugh
which never was absent from it very long.
It was only Ffoulkes's devoted eyes that were sharp enough to
pierce the mask of light-hearted gaiety which enveloped the soul
of his leader at the present moment. He saw--for the first time in
all the years that he had known Blakeney--a frown across the
habitually smooth brow, and though the lips were parted for a
laugh, the lines round mouth and chin were hard and set.
With that intuition born of whole-hearted friendship Sir Andrew
guessed what troubled Percy. He had caught the look which the
latter had thrown on Armand, and knew that some explanation would
have to pass between the two men before they parted to-night.
Therefore he gave the signal for the breaking up of the meeting.
"There is nothing more to say, is there, Blakeney?" he asked.
"No, my good fellow, nothing," replied Sir Percy. "I do not know
how you all feel, but I am demmed fatigued."
"What about the rags for to-morrow?" queried Hastings.
"You know where to find them. In the room below. Ffoulkes has the
key. Wigs and all are there. But don't use false hair if you can
help it--it is apt to shift in a scrimmage."
He spoke jerkily, more curtly than was his wont. Hastings and
Tony thought that he was tired. They rose to say good night.
Then the three men went away together, Armand remaining behind.
WHAT LOVE IS
"Well, now, Armand, what is it?" asked Blakeney, the moment the
footsteps of his friends had died away down the stone stairs, and
their voices had ceased to echo in the distance.
"You guessed, then, that there was ... something?" said the
younger man, after a slight hesitation.
Armand rose, pushing the chair away from him with an impatient
nervy gesture. Burying his hands in the pockets of his breeches,
he began striding up and down the room, a dark, troubled
expression in his face, a deep frown between his eyes.
Blakeney had once more taken up his favourite position, sitting on
the corner of the table, his broad shoulders interposed between
the lamp and the rest of the room. He was apparently taking no
notice of Armand, but only intent on the delicate operation of
polishing his nails.
Suddenly the young man paused in his restless walk and stood in
front of his friend--an earnest, solemn, determined figure.
"Blakeney," he said, "I cannot leave Paris to-morrow."
Sir Percy made no reply. He was contemplating the polish which he
had just succeeded in producing on his thumbnail.
"I must stay here for a while longer," continued Armand firmly.
"I may not be able to return to England for some weeks. You have
the three others here to help you in your enterprise outside
Paris. I am entirely at your service within the compass of its
Still no comment from Blakeney, not a look from beneath the fallen
lids. Armand continued, with a slight tone of impatience apparent
in his voice:
"You must want some one to help you here on Sunday. I am entirely
at your service ... here or anywhere in Paris ... but I cannot
leave this city ... at any rate, not just yet...."
Blakeney was apparently satisfied at last with the result of his
polishing operations. He rose, gave a slight yawn, and turned
toward the door.
"Good night, my dear fellow," he said pleasantly; "it is time we
were all abed. I am so demmed fatigued."
"Percy!" exclaimed the young man hotly.
"Eh? What is it?" queried the other lazily.
"You are not going to leave me like this--without a word?"
"I have said a great many words, my good fellow. I have said
'good night,' and remarked that I was demmed fatigued."
He was standing beside the door which led to his bedroom, and now
he pushed it open with his hand.
"Percy, you cannot go and leave me like this!" reiterated Armand
with rapidly growing irritation.
"Like what, my dear fellow?" queried Sir Percy with good-humoured
"Without a word--without a sign. What have I done that you should
treat me like a child, unworthy even of attention?"
Blakeney had turned back and was now facing him, towering above
the slight figure of the younger man. His face had lost none of
its gracious air, and beneath their heavy lids his eyes looked
down not unkindly on his friend.
"Would you have preferred it, Armand," he said quietly, "if I had
said the word that your ears have heard even though my lips have
not uttered it?"
"I don't understand," murmured Armand defiantly.
"What sign would you have had me make?" continued Sir Percy, his
pleasant voice falling calm and mellow on the younger man's
supersensitive consciousness: "That of branding you, Marguerite's
brother, as a liar and a cheat?"
"Blakeney!" retorted the other, as with flaming cheeks and
wrathful eyes he took a menacing step toward his friend; "had any
man but you dared to speak such words to me--"
"I pray to God, Armand, that no man but I has the right to speak
"You have no right."
"Every right, my friend. Do I not hold your oath? ... Are you
not prepared to break it?"
"I'll not break my oath to you. I'll serve and help you in every
way you can command ... my life I'll give to the cause ... give me
the most dangerous--the most difficult task to perform.... I'll
do it--I'll do it gladly."
"I have given you an over-difficult and dangerous task."
"Bah! To leave Paris in order to engage horses, while you and the
others do all the work. That is neither difficult nor dangerous."
"It will be difficult for you, Armand, because your head Is not
sufficiently cool to foresee serious eventualities and to prepare
against them. It is dangerous, because you are a man in love, and
a man in love is apt to run his head--and that of his friends--
blindly into a noose."
"Who told you that I was in love?"
"You yourself, my good fellow. Had you not told me so at the
outset," he continued, still speaking very quietly and deliberately
and never raising his voice, "I would even now be standing over you,
dog-whip in hand, to thrash you as a defaulting coward and a perjurer
.... Bah!" he added with a return to his habitual bonhomie, "I would
no doubt even have lost my temper with you. Which would have been
purposeless and excessively bad form. Eh?"
A violent retort had sprung to Armand's lips. But fortunately at
that very moment his eyes, glowing with anger, caught those of
Blakeney fixed with lazy good-nature upon his. Something of that
irresistible dignity which pervaded the whole personality of the
man checked Armand's hotheaded words on his lips.
"I cannot leave Paris to-morrow," he reiterated more calmly.
"Because you have arranged to see her again?"
"Because she saved my life to-day, and is herself in danger."
"She is in no danger," said Blakeney simply, "since she saved the
life of my friend."
The cry was wrung from Armand St. Just's very soul. Despite the
tumult of passion which was raging in his heart, he was conscious
again of the magnetic power which bound so many to this man's
service. The words he had said--simple though they were--had sent
a thrill through Armand's veins. He felt himself disarmed. His
resistance fell before the subtle strength of an unbendable will;
nothing remained in his heart but an overwhelming sense of shame
and of impotence.
He sank into a chair and rested his elbows on the table, burying
his face in his hands. Blakeney went up to him and placed a
kindly hand upon his shoulder.
"The difficult task, Armand," he said gently.
"Percy, cannot you release me? She saved my life. I have not
thanked her yet."
"There will be time for thanks later, Armand. Just now over
yonder the son of kings is being done to death by savage brutes."
"I would not hinder you if I stayed."
"God knows you have hindered us enough already."
"You say she saved your life ... then you were in danger ... Heron
and his spies have been on your track your track leads to mine,
and I have sworn to save the Dauphin from the hands of thieves....
A man in love, Armand, is a deadly danger among us.... Therefore
at daybreak you must leave Paris with Hastings on your difficult
and dangerous task."
"And if I refuse?" retorted Armand.
"My good fellow," said Blakeney earnestly, "in that admirable
lexicon which the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel has compiled for
itself there is no such word as refuse."
"But if I do refuse?" persisted the other.
"You would be offering a tainted name and tarnished honour to the
woman you pretend to love."
"And you insist upon my obedience?"
"By the oath which I hold from you."
"But this is cruel--inhuman!"
"Honour, my good Armand, is often cruel and seldom human. He is a
godlike taskmaster, and we who call ourselves men are all of us
"The tyranny comes from you alone. You could release me an you
"And to gratify the selfish desire of immature passion, you would
wish to see me jeopardise the life of those who place infinite
trust in me."
"God knows how you have gained their allegiance, Blakeney. To me
now you are selfish and callous."
"There is the difficult task you craved for, Armand," was all the
answer that Blakeney made to the taunt--" to obey a leader whom
you no longer trust."
But this Armand could not brook. He had spoken hotly,
impetuously, smarting under the discipline which thwarted his
desire, but his heart was loyal to the chief whom he had
reverenced for so long.
"Forgive me, Percy," he said humbly; "I am distracted. I don't
think I quite realised what I was saying. I trust you, of course
... implicitly ... and you need not even fear ... I shall not
break my oath, though your orders now seem to me needlessly
callous and selfish.... I will obey ... you need not be afraid."
"I was not afraid of that, my good fellow."
"Of course, you do not understand ... you cannot. To you, your
honour, the task which you have set yourself, has been your only
fetish.... Love in its true sense does not exist for you.... I
see it now ... you do not know what it is to love."
Blakeney made no reply for the moment. He stood in the centre of
the room, with the yellow light of the lamp falling full now upon
his tall powerful frame, immaculately dressed in perfectly-tailored
clothes, upon his long, slender hands half hidden by filmy lace,
and upon his face, across which at this moment a heavy strand of
curly hair threw a curious shadow. At Armand's words his lips had
imperceptibly tightened, his eyes had narrowed as if they tried to
see something that was beyond the range of their focus.
Across the smooth brow the strange shadow made by the hair seemed
to find a reflex from within. Perhaps the reckless adventurer,
the careless gambler with life and liberty, saw through the walls
of this squalid room, across the wide, ice-bound river, and beyond
even the gloomy pile of buildings opposite, a cool, shady garden
at Richmond, a velvety lawn sweeping down to the river's edge, a
bower of clematis and roses, with a carved stone seat half covered
with moss. There sat an exquisitely beautiful woman with great
sad eyes fixed on the far-distant horizon. The setting sun was
throwing a halo of gold all round her hair, her white hands were
clasped idly on her lap.
She gazed out beyond the river, beyond the sunset, toward an
unseen bourne of peace and happiness, and her lovely face had in
it a look of utter hopelessness and of sublime self-abnegation.
The air was still. It was late autumn, and all around her the
russet leaves of beech and chestnut fell with a melancholy
hush-sh-sh about her feet.
She was alone, and from time to time heavy tears gathered in her
eyes and rolled slowly down her cheeks.
Suddenly a sigh escaped the man's tightly-pressed lips. With a
strange gesture, wholly unusual to him, he passed his hand right
across his eyes.
"Mayhap you are right, Armand," he said quietly; "mayhap I do not
know what it is to love."
Armand turned to go. There was nothing more to be said. He knew
Percy well enough by now to realise the finality of his
pronouncements. His heart felt sore, but he was too proud to show
his hurt again to a man who did not understand. All thoughts of
disobedience he had put resolutely aside; he had never meant to
break his oath. All that he had hoped to do was to persuade Percy
to release him from it for awhile.
That by leaving Paris he risked to lose Jeanne he was quite
convinced, but it is nevertheless a true fact that in spite of
this he did not withdraw his love and trust from his chief. He
was under the influence of that same magnetism which enchained all
his comrades to the will of this man; and though his enthusiasm
for the great cause had somewhat waned, his allegiance to its
leader was no longer tottering.
But he would not trust himself to speak again on the subject.
"I will find the others downstairs," was all he said, "and will
arrange with Hastings for to-morrow. Good night, Percy."
"Good night, my dear fellow. By the way, you have not told me yet
who she is."
"Her name is Jeanne Lange," said St. Just half reluctantly. He
had not meant to divulge his secret quite so fully as yet.
"The young actress at the Theatre National?"
"Yes. Do you know her?"
"Only by name."
"She is beautiful, Percy, and she is an angel.... Think of my
sister Marguerite ... she, too, was an actress.... Good night,
The two men grasped one another by the hand. Armand's eyes
proffered a last desperate appeal. But Blakeney's eyes were
impassive and unrelenting, and Armand with a quick sigh finally
took his leave.
For a long while after he had gone Blakeney stood silent and
motionless in the middle of the room. Armand's last words
lingered in his ear:
"Think of Marguerite!"
The walls had fallen away from around him--the window, the river
below, the Temple prison had all faded away, merged in the chaos
of his thoughts.
Now he was no longer in Paris; he heard nothing of the horrors
that even at this hour of the night were raging around him; he did
not hear the call of murdered victims, of innocent women and
children crying for help; he did not see the descendant of St.
Louis, with a red cap on his baby head, stamping on the
fleur-de-lys, and heaping insults on the memory of his mother.
All that had faded into nothingness.
He was in the garden at Richmond, and Marguerite was sitting on
the stone seat, with branches of the rambler roses twining
themselves in her hair.
He was sitting on the ground at her feet, his head pillowed in her
lap, lazily dreaming. whilst at his feet the river wound its
graceful curves beneath overhanging willows and tall stately elms.
A swan came sailing majestically down the stream, and Marguerite,
with idle, delicate hands, threw some crumbs of bread into the
water. Then she laughed, for she was quite happy, and anon she
stooped, and he felt the fragrance of her lips as she bent over
him and savoured the perfect sweetness of her caress. She was
happy because her husband was by her side. He had done with
adventures, with risking his life for others' sake. He was living
only for her.
The man, the dreamer, the idealist that lurked behind the
adventurous soul, lived an exquisite dream as he gazed upon that
vision. He closed his eyes so that it might last all the longer,
so that through the open window opposite he should not see the
great gloomy walls of the labyrinthine building packed to
overflowing with innocent men, women, and children waiting
patiently and with a smile on their lips for a cruel and unmerited
death; so that he should not see even through the vista of houses
and of streets that grim Temple prison far away, and the light in
one of the tower windows, which illumined the final martyrdom of a
Thus he stood for fully five minutes, with eyes deliberately
closed and lips tightly set. Then the neighbouring tower-clock of
St. Germain l'Auxerrois slowly tolled the hour of midnight.
Blakeney woke from his dream. The walls of his lodging were once
more around him, and through the window the ruddy light of some
torch in the street below fought with that of the lamp.
He went deliberately up to the window and looked out into the
night. On the quay, a little to the left, the outdoor camp was
just breaking tip for the night. The people of France in arms
against tyranny were allowed to put away their work for the day
and to go to their miserable homes to gather rest in sleep for the
morrow. A band of soldiers, rough and brutal in their movements,
were hustling the women and children. The little ones, weary,
sleepy, and cold, seemed too dazed to move. One woman had two
little children clinging to her skirts; a soldier suddenly seized
one of them by the shoulders and pushed it along roughly in front
of him to get it out of the way. The woman struck at the soldier
in a stupid, senseless, useless way, and then gathered her
trembling chicks under her wing, trying to look defiant.
In a moment she was surrounded. Two soldiers seized her, and two
more dragged the children away from her. She screamed and the
children cried, the soldiers swore and struck out right and left
with their bayonets. There was a general melee, calls of agony
rent the air, rough oaths drowned the shouts of the helpless.
Some women, panic-stricken, started to run.
And Blakeney from his window looked down upon the scene. He no
longer saw the garden at Richmond, the lazily-flowing river, the
bowers of roses; even the sweet face of Marguerite, sad and
lonely, appeared dim and far away.
He looked across the ice-bound river, past the quay where rough
soldiers were brutalising a number of wretched defenceless women,
to that grim Chatelet prison, where tiny lights shining here and
there behind barred windows told the sad tale of weary vigils, of
watches through the night, when dawn would bring martyrdom and
And it was not Marguerite's blue eyes that beckoned to him now, it
was not her lips that called, but the wan face of a child with
matted curls hanging above a greasy forehead, and small hands
covered in grime that had once been fondled by a Queen.
The adventurer in him had chased away the dream.
"While there is life in me I'll cheat those brutes of prey," he
THEN EVERYTHING WAS DARK
The night that Armand St. Just spent tossing about on a hard,
narrow bed was the most miserable, agonising one he had ever
passed in his life. A kind of fever ran through him, causing his
teeth to chatter and the veins in his temples to throb until he
thought that they must burst.
Physically he certainly was ill; the mental strain caused by two
great conflicting passions had attacked his bodily strength, and
whilst his brain and heart fought their battles together, his
aching limbs found no repose.
His love for Jeanne! His loyalty to the man to whom he owed his
life, and to whom he had sworn allegiance and implicit obedience!
These superacute feelings seemed to be tearing at his very
heartstrings, until he felt that he could no longer lie on the
miserable palliasse which in these squalid lodgings did duty for a
He rose long before daybreak, with tired back and burning eyes,
but unconscious of any pain save that which tore at his heart.
The weather, fortunately, was not quite so cold--a sudden and very
rapid thaw had set in; and when after a hurried toilet Armand,
carrying a bundle under his arm, emerged into the street, the mild
south wind struck pleasantly on his face.
It was then pitch dark. The street lamps had been extinguished
long ago, and the feeble January sun had not yet tinged with pale
colour the heavy clouds that hung over the sky.
The streets of the great city were absolutely deserted at this
hour. It lay, peaceful and still, wrapped in its mantle of gloom.
A thin rain was falling, and Armand's feet, as he began to descend
the heights of Montmartre, sank ankle deep in the mud of the road.
There was but scanty attempt at pavements in this outlying quarter
of the town, and Armand had much ado to keep his footing on the
uneven and intermittent stones that did duty for roads in these
parts. But this discomfort did not trouble him just now. One
thought--and one alone--was clear in his mind: he must see Jeanne
before he left Paris.
He did not pause to think how he could accomplish that at this
hour of the day. All he knew was that he must obey his chief, and
that he must see Jeanne. He would see her, explain to her that he
must leave Paris immediately, and beg her to make her preparations
quickly, so that she might meet him as soon as maybe, and
accompany him to England straight away.
He did not feel that he was being disloyal by trying to see
Jeanne. He had thrown prudence to the winds, not realising that
his imprudence would and did jeopardise, not only the success of
his chief's plans, but also his life and that of his friends. He
had before parting from Hastings last night arranged to meet him
in the neighbourhood of the Neuilly Gate at seven o'clock; it was
only six now. There was plenty of time for him to rouse the
concierge at the house of the Square du Roule, to see Jeanne for a
few moments, to slip into Madame Belhomme's kitchen, and there
into the labourer's clothes which he was carrying in the bundle
under his arm, and to be at the gate at the appointed hour.
The Square du Roule is shut off from the Rue St. Honore, on which
it abuts, by tall iron gates, which a few years ago, when the
secluded little square was a fashionable quarter of the city, used
to be kept closed at night, with a watchman in uniform to
intercept midnight prowlers. Now these gates had been rudely torn
away from their sockets, the iron had been sold for the benefit of
the ever-empty Treasury, and no one cared if the homeless, the
starving, or the evil-doer found shelter under the porticoes of
the houses, from whence wealthy or aristocratic owners had long
since thought it wise to flee.
No one challenged Armand when he turned into the square, and
though the darkness was intense, he made his way fairly straight
for the house where lodged Mademoiselle Lange.
So far he had been wonderfully lucky. The foolhardiness with
which he had exposed his life and that of his friends by wandering
about the streets of Paris at this hour without any attempt at
disguise, though carrying one under his arm, had not met with the
untoward fate which it undoubtedly deserved. The darkness of the
night and the thin sheet of rain as it fell had effectually
wrapped his progress through the lonely streets in their
beneficent mantle of gloom; the soft mud below had drowned the
echo of his footsteps. If spies were on his track, as Jeanne had
feared and Blakeney prophesied, he had certainly succeeded in
He pulled the concierge's bell, and the latch of the outer door,
manipulated from within, duly sprang open in response. He
entered, and from the lodge the concierge's voice emerging,
muffled from the depths of pillows and blankets, challenged him
with an oath directed at the unseemliness of the hour.
"Mademoiselle Lange," said Armand boldly, as without hesitation he
walked quickly past the lodge making straight for the stairs.
It seemed to him that from the concierge's room loud vituperations
followed him, but he took no notice of these; only a short flight
of stairs and one more door separated him from Jeanne.
He did not pause to think that she would in all probability be
still in bed, that he might have some difficulty in rousing Madame
Belhomme, that the latter might not even care to admit him; nor
did he reflect on the glaring imprudence of his actions. He
wanted to see Jeanne, and she was the other side of that wall.
"He, citizen! Hola! Here! Curse you! Where are you?" came in a
gruff voice to him from below.
He had mounted the stairs, and was now on the landing just outside
Jeanne's door. He pulled the bell-handle, and heard the pleasing
echo of the bell that would presently wake Madame Belhomme and
bring her to the door.
"Citizen! Hola! Curse you for an aristo! What are you doing
The concierge, a stout, elderly man, wrapped in a blanket, his
feet thrust in slippers, and carrying a guttering tallow candle,
had appeared upon the landing.
He held the candle up so that its feeble flickering rays fell on
Armand's pale face, and on the damp cloak which fell away from his
"What are you doing there?" reiterated the concierge with another
oath from his prolific vocabulary.
"As you see, citizen," replied Armand politely, "I am ringing
Mademoiselle Lange's front door bell."
"At this hour of the morning?" queried the man with a sneer.
"I desire to see her."
"Then you have come to the wrong house, citizen," said the
concierge with a rude laugh.
"The wrong house? What do you mean?" stammered Armand, a little
"She is not here--quoi!" retorted the concierge, who now turned
deliberately on his heel. "Go and look for her, citizen; it'll
take you some time to find her."
He shuffled off in the direction of the stairs. Armand was vainly
trying to shake himself free from a sudden, an awful sense of
He gave another vigorous pull at the hell, then with one bound he
overtook the concierge, who was preparing to descend the stairs,
and gripped him peremptorily by the arm.
"Where is Mademoiselle Lange?" he asked.
His voice sounded quite strange in his own ear; his throat felt
parched, and he had to moisten his lips with his tongue before he
was able to speak.
"Arrested," replied the man.
"Arrested? When? Where? How?"
"When--late yesterday evening. Where?--here in her room.
How?--by the agents of the Committee of General Security. She and
the old woman! Basta! that's all I know. Now I am going back to
bed, and you clear out of the house. You are making a
disturbance, and I shall be reprimanded. I ask you, is this a
decent time for rousing honest patriots out of their morning
He shook his arm free from Armand's grasp and once more began to
Armand stood on the landing like a man who has been stunned by a
blow on the head. His limbs were paralysed. He could not for the
moment have moved or spoken if his life had depended on a sign or
on a word. His brain was reeling, and he had to steady himself
with his hand against the wall or he would have fallen headlong on
the floor. He had lived in a whirl of excitement for the past
twenty-four hours; his nerves during that time had been kept at
straining point. Passion, joy, happiness, deadly danger, and
moral fights had worn his mental endurance threadbare; want of
proper food and a sleepless night had almost thrown his physical
balance out of gear. This blow came at a moment when he was least
able to bear it.
Jeanne had been arrested! Jeanne was in the hands of those
brutes, whom he, Armand, had regarded yesterday with
insurmountable loathing! Jeanne was in prison--she was
arrested--she would be tried, condemned, and all because of him!
The thought was so awful that it brought him to the verge of
mania. He watched as in a dream the form of the concierge
shuffling his way down the oak staircase; his portly figure
assumed Gargantuan proportions, the candle which he carried looked
like the dancing flames of hell, through which grinning faces,
hideous and contortioned, mocked at him and leered.
Then suddenly everything was dark. The light had disappeared
round the bend of the stairs; grinning faces and ghoulish visions
vanished; he only saw Jeanne, his dainty, exquisite Jeanne, in the
hands of those brutes. He saw her as he had seen a year and a
half ago the victims of those bloodthirsty wretches being dragged
before a tribunal that was but a mockery of justice; he heard the
quick interrogatory, and the responses from her perfect lips, that
exquisite voice of hers veiled by tones of anguish. He heard the
condemnation, the rattle of the tumbril on the ill-paved streets--
saw her there with hands clasped together, her eyes--
Great God! he was really going mad!
Like a wild creature driven forth he started to run down the
stairs, past the concierge, who was just entering his lodge, and
who now turned in surly anger to watch this man running away like
a lunatic or a fool, out by the front door and into the street.
In a moment he was out of the little square; then like a hunted
hare he still ran down the Rue St. Honore, along its narrow,
interminable length. His hat had fallen from his head, his hair
was wild all round his face, the rain weighted the cloak upon his
shoulders; but still he ran.
His feet made no noise on the muddy pavement. He ran on and on,
his elbows pressed to his sides, panting, quivering, intent but
upon one thing--the goal which he had set himself to reach.
Jeanne was arrested. He did not know where to look for her, but
he did know whither he wanted to go now as swiftly as his legs
would carry him.
It was still dark, but Armand St. Just was a born Parisian, and he
knew every inch of this quarter, where he and Marguerite had years
ago lived. Down the Rue St. Honore, he had reached the bottom of
the interminably long street at last. He had kept just a
sufficiency of reason--or was it merely blind instinct?--to avoid
the places where the night patrols of the National Guard might be
on the watch. He avoided the Place du Carrousel, also the quay,
and struck sharply to his right until he reached the facade of St.
Another effort; round the corner, and there was the house at last.
He was like the hunted creature now that has run to earth. Up the
two flights of stone stairs, and then the pull at the bell; a
moment of tense anxiety, whilst panting, gasping, almost choked
with the sustained effort and the strain of the past half-hour, he
leaned against the wall, striving not to fall.
Then the well-known firm step across the rooms beyond, the open
door, the hand upon his shoulder.
After that he remembered nothing more.
He had not actually fainted, but the exertion of that long run had
rendered him partially unconscious He knew now that be was safe,
that he was sitting in Blakeney's room, and that something hot and
vivifying was being poured down his throat.
"Percy, they have arrested her!" he said, panting, as soon as
speech returned to his paralysed tongue.
"All right. Don't talk now. Wait till you are better."
With infinite care and gentleness Blakeney arranged some cushions
under Armand's head, turned the sofa towards the fire, and anon
brought his friend a cup of hot coffee, which the latter drank
He was really too exhausted to speak. He had contrived to tell
Blakeney, and now Blakeney knew, so everything would be all right.
The inevitable reaction was asserting itself; the muscles had
relaxed, the nerves were numbed, and Armand lay back on the sofa
with eyes half closed, unable to move, yet feeling his strength
gradually returning to him, his vitality asserting itself, all the
feverish excitement of the past twenty-four hours yielding at last
to a calmer mood.
Through his half-closed eyes he could see his brother-in-law
moving about the room. Blakeney was fully dressed. In a sleepy
kind of way Armand wondered if he had been to bed at aH; certainly
his clothes set on him with their usual well-tailored perfection,
and there was no suggestion in his brisk step and alert movements
that he had passed a sleepless night.
Now he was standing by the open window. Armand, from where he
lay, could see his broad shoulders sharply outlined against the
grey background of the hazy winter dawn. A wan light was just
creeping up from the east over the city; the noises of the streets
below came distinctly to Armand's ear.
He roused himself with one vigorous effort from his lethargy,
feeling quite ashamed of himself and of this breakdown of his
nervous system. He looked with frank admiration on Sir Percy, who
stood immovable and silent by the window--a perfect tower of
strength, serene and impassive, yet kindly in distress.
"Percy," said the young man, "I ran all the way from the top of
the Rue St. Honore. I was only breathless. I am quite all right.
May I tell you all about it?"
Without a word Blakeney closed the window and came across to the
sofa; he sat down beside Armand, and to all outward appearances he
was nothing now but a kind and sympathetic listener to a friend's
tale of woe. Not a line in his face or a look in his eyes
betrayed the thoughts of the leader who had been thwarted at the
outset of a dangerous enterprise, or of the man, accustomed to
command, who had been so flagrantly disobeyed.
Armand, unconscious of all save of Jeanne and of her immediate
need, put an eager hand on Percy's arm.
"Heron and his hell-hounds went back to her lodgings last night,"
he said, speaking as if he were still a little out of breath.
"They hoped to get me, no doubt; not finding me there, they took
her. Oh, my God!"
It was the first time that he had put the whole terrible
circumstance into words, and it seemed to gain in reality by the
recounting. The agony of mind which he endured was almost
unbearable; he hid his face in his hands lest Percy should see how
terribly he suffered.
"I knew that," said Blakeney quietly. Armand looked up in
"How? When did you know it?" he stammered.
"Last night when you left me. I went down to the Square du Roule.
I arrived there just too late."
"Percy!" exclaimed Armand, whose pale face had suddenly flushed
scarlet, "you did that?--last night you--"
"Of course," interposed the other calmly; "had I not promised you
to keep watch over her? When I heard the news it was already too
late to make further inquiries, but when you arrived just now I
was on the point of starting out, in order to find out in what
prison Mademoiselle Lange is being detained. I shall have to go
soon, Armand, before the guard is changed at the Temple and the
Tuileries. This is the safest time, and God knows we are all of
us sufficiently compromised already."
The flush of shame deepened in St. Just's cheek. There had not
been a hint of reproach in the voice of his chief, and the eyes
which regarded him now from beneath the half-closed lids showed
nothing but lazy bonhomie.
In a moment now Armand realised all the harm which his
recklessness had done, was still doing to the work of the League.
Every one of his actions since his arrival in Paris two days ago
had jeopardised a plan or endangered a life: his friendship with
de Batz, his connection with Mademoiselle Lange, his visit to her
yesterday afternoon, the repetition of it this morning,
culminating in that wild run through the streets of Paris, when at
any moment a spy lurking round a corner might either have barred
his way, or, worse still, have followed him to Blakeney's door.
Armand, without a thought of any one save of his beloved, might
easily this morning have brought an agent of the Committee of
General Security face to face with his chief.
"Percy," he murmured, "can you ever forgive me?"
"Pshaw, man!" retorted Blakeney lightly; "there is naught to
forgive, only a great deal that should no longer be forgotten;
your duty to the others, for instance, your obedience, and your
"I was mad, Percy. Oh! if you only could understand what she
means to me!"
Blakeney laughed, his own light-hearted careless laugh, which so
often before now had helped to hide what he really felt from the
eyes of the indifferent, and even from those of his friends.
"No! no!" he said lightly, "we agreed last night, did we not? that
in matters of sentiment I am a cold-blooded fish. But will you at
any rate concede that I am a man of my word? Did I not pledge it
last night that Mademoiselle Lange would be safe? I foresaw her
arrest the moment I heard your story. I hoped that I might reach
her before that brute Heron's return; unfortunately he forestalled
me by less than half an hour. Mademoiselle Lange has been
arrested, Armand; but why should you not trust me on that account?
Have we not succeeded, I and the others, in worse cases than this
one? They mean no harm to Jeanne Lange," he added emphatically;
"I give you my word on that. They only want her as a decoy. It
is you they want. You through her, and me through you. I pledge
you my honour that she will be safe. You must try and trust me,
Armand. It is much to ask, I know, for you will have to trust me
with what is most precious in the world to you; and you will have
to obey me blindly, or I shall not he able to keep my word."
"What do you wish me to do?"
"Firstly, you must be outside Paris within the hour. Every minute
that you spend inside the city now is full of danger--oh, no! not
for you," added Blakeney, checking with a good-humoured gesture
Armand's words of protestation, "danger for the others--and for
our scheme tomorrow."
"How can I go to St. Germain, Percy, knowing that she--"
"Is under my charge?" interposed the other calmly. "That should
not be so very difficult. Come," he added, placing a kindly hand
on the other's shoulder, "you shall not find me such an inhuman
monster after all. But I must think of the others, you see, and
of the child whom I have sworn to save. But I won't send you as
far as St. Germain. Go down to the room below and find a good
bundle of rough clothes that will serve you as a disguise, for I
imagine that you have lost those which you had on the landing or
the stairs of the house in the Square du Roule. In a tin box with
the clothes downstairs you will find the packet of miscellaneous
certificates of safety. Take an appropriate one, and then start
out immediately for Villette. You understand?"
"Yes, yes!" said Armand eagerly. "You want me to join Ffoulkes
"Yes! You'll find them probably unloading coal by the canal. Try
and get private speech with them as early as may be, and tell Tony
to set out at once for St. Germain, and to join Hastings there,
instead of you, whilst you take his place with Ffoulkes."
"Yes, I understand; but how will Tony reach St. Germain?"
"La, my good fellow," said Blakeney gaily, "you may safely trust
Tony to go where I send him. Do you but do as I tell you, and
leave him to look after himself. And now," he added, speaking
more earnestly, "the sooner you get out of Paris the better it
will be for us all. As you see, I am only sending you to La
Villette, because it is not so far, but that I can keep in
personal touch with you. Remain close to the gates for an hour
after nightfall. I will Contrive before they close to bring you
news of Mademoiselle Lange."
Armand said no more. The sense of shame in him deepened with
every word spoken by his chief. He felt how untrustworthy he had
been, how undeserving of the selfless devotion which Percy was
showing him even now. The words of gratitude died on his lips; he
knew that they would be unwelcome. These Englishmen were so
devoid of sentiment, he thought, and his brother-in-law, with all
his unselfish and heroic deeds, was, he felt, absolutely callous
in matters of the heart.
But Armand was a noble-minded man, and with the true sporting
instinct in him, despite the fact that he was a creature of
nerves, highly strung and imaginative. He could give ungrudging
admiration to his chief, even whilst giving himself up entirely to
the sentiment for Jeanne.
He tried to imbue himself with the same spirit that actuated my
Lord Tony and the other members of the League. How gladly would
he have chaffed and made senseless schoolboy jokes like those
which--in face of their hazardous enterprise and the dangers which
they all ran--had horrified him so much last night.
But somehow he knew that jokes from him would not ring true. How
could he smile when his heart was brimming over with his love for
Jeanne, and with solicitude on her account? He felt that Percy
was regarding him with a kind of indulgent amusement; there was a
look of suppressed merriment in the depths of those lazy blue
So he braced up his nerves, trying his best to look cool and
unconcerned, but he could not altogether hide from his friend the
burning anxiety which was threatening to break his heart.
"I have given you my word, Armand," said Blakeney in answer to the
unspoken prayer; "cannot you try and trust me--as the others do?
Then with sudden transition he pointed to the map behind him.
"Remember the gate of Villette, and the corner by the towpath.
Join Ffoulkes as soon as may be and send Tony on his way, and wait
for news of Mademoiselle Lange some time to-night."
"God bless you, Percy!" said Armand involuntarily. "Good-bye!"
"Good-bye, my dear fellow. Slip on your disguise as quickly as
you can, and be out of the house in a quarter of an hour."
He accompanied Armand through the ante-room, and finally closed
the door on him. Then he went back to his room and walked up to
the window, which he threw open to the humid morning air. Now
that he was alone the look of trouble on his face deepened to a
dark, anxious frown, and as he looked out across the river a sigh
of bitter impatience and disappointment escaped his lips.
THE GATE OF LA VILLETTE
And now the shades of evening had long since yielded to those of
night. The gate of La Villette, at the northeast corner of the
city, was about to close. Armand, dressed in the rough clothes of
a labouring man, was leaning against a low wall at the angle of
the narrow street which abuts on the canal at its further end;
from this point of vantage he could command a view of the gate and
of the life and bustle around it.
He was dog-tired. After the emotions of the past twenty-four
hours, a day's hard manual toil to which he was unaccustomed had
caused him to ache in every limb. As soon as he had arrived at the
canal wharf in the early morning he had obtained the kind of
casual work that ruled about here, and soon was told off to unload
a cargo of coal which had arrived by barge overnight. He had
set-to with a will, half hoping to kill his anxiety by dint of
heavy bodily exertion. During the course of the morning he had
suddenly become aware of Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and of Lord Anthony
Dewhurst working not far away from him, and as fine a pair of
coalheavers as any shipper could desire.
It was not very difficult in the midst of the noise and activity
that reigned all about the wharf for the three men to exchange a
few words together, and Armand soon communicated the chief's new
instructions to my Lord Tony, who effectually slipped away from
his work some time during the day. Armand did not even see him
go, it had all been so neatly done.
Just before five o'clock in the afternoon the labourers were paid
off. It was then too dark to continue work. Armand would have
liked to talk to Sir Andrew, if only for a moment. He felt lonely
and desperately anxious. He had hoped to tire out his nerves as
well as his body, but in this he had not succeeded. As soon as he
had given up his tools, his brain began to work again more busily
than ever. It followed Percy in his peregrinations through the
city, trying to discover where those brutes were keeping Jeanne.
That task had suddenly loomed up before Armand's mind with all its
terrible difficulties. How could Percy--a marked man if ever
there was one--go from prison to prison to inquire about Jeanne?
The very idea seemed preposterous. Armand ought never to have
consented to such an insensate plan. The more he thought of it,
the more impossible did it seem that Blakeney could find anything
Sir Andrew Ffoulkes was nowhere to be seen. St. Just wandered
about in the dark, lonely streets of this outlying quarter vainly
trying to find the friend in whom he could confide, who, no doubt,
would reassure him as to Blakeney's probable movements in Paris.
Then as the hour approached for the closing of the city gates
Armand took up his stand at an angle of the street from whence he
could see both the gate on one side of him and the thin line of
the canal intersecting the street at its further end.
Unless Percy came within the next five minutes the gates would be
closed and the difficulties of crossing the barrier would be
increased a hundredfold. The market gardeners with their covered
carts filed out of the gate one by one; the labourers on foot were
returning to their homes; there was a group of stonemasons, a few
road-makers, also a number of beggars, ragged and filthy, who
herded somewhere in the neighbourhood of the canal.
In every form, under every disguise, Armand hoped to discover
Percy. He could not stand still for very long, but strode up and
down the road that skirts the fortifications at this point.
There were a good many idlers about at this hour; some men who had
finished their work, and meant to spend an hour or so in one of
the drinking shops that abounded in the neighbourhood of the
wharf; others who liked to gather a small knot of listeners around
them, whilst they discoursed on the politics of the day, or rather
raged against the Convention, which was all made up of traitors to
the people's welfare.
Armand, trying manfully to play his part, joined one of the groups
that stood gaping round a street orator. He shouted with the best
of them, waved his cap in the air, and applauded or hissed in
unison with the majority. But his eyes never wandered for long
away from the gate whence Percy must come now at any moment--now
or not at all.
At what precise moment the awful doubt took birth in his mind the
young man could not afterwards have said. Perhaps it was when he
heard the roll of drums proclaiming the closing of the gates, and
witnessed the changing of the guard.
Percy had not come. He could not come now, and he (Armand) would
have the night to face without news of Jeanne. Something, of
course, had detained Percy; perhaps he had been unable to get
definite information about Jeanne; perhaps the information which
he had obtained was too terrible to communicate.
If only Sir Andrew Ffoulkes had been there, and Armand had had
some one to talk to, perhaps then he would have found sufficient
strength of mind to wait with outward patience, even though his
nerves were on the rack.
Darkness closed in around him, and with the darkness came the full
return of the phantoms that had assailed him in the house of the
Square du Roule when first he had heard of Jeanne's arrest. The
open place facing the gate had transformed itself into the Place
de la Revolution, the tall rough post that held a flickering oil
lamp had become the gaunt arm of the guillotine, the feeble light
of the lamp was the knife that gleamed with the reflection of a
And Armand saw himself, as in a vision, one of a vast and noisy
throng--they were all pressing round him so that he could not
move; they were brandishing caps and tricolour flags, also
pitchforks and scythes. He had seen such a crowd four years ago
rushing towards the Bastille. Now they were all assembled here
around him and around the guillotine.
Suddenly a distant rattle caught his subconscious ear: the rattle
of wheels on rough cobble-stones. Immediately the crowd began to
cheer and to shout; some sang the "Ca ira!" and others screamed:
"Les aristos! a la lanterne! a mort! a mort! les aristos!"
He saw it all quite plainly, for the darkness had vanished, and
the vision was more vivid than even reality could have been. The
rattle of wheels grew louder, and presently the cart debouched on
the open place.
Men and women sat huddled up in the cart; but in the midst of them
a woman stood, and her eyes were fixed upon Armand. She wore her
pale-grey satin gown, and a white kerchief was folded across her
bosom. Her brown hair fell in loose soft curls all round her
head. She looked exactly like the exquisite cameo which
Marguerite used to wear. Her hands were tied with cords behind her
back, but between her fingers she held a small bunch of violets.
Armand saw it all. It was, of course, a vision, and he knew that
it was one, but he believed that the vision was prophetic. No
thought of the chief whom he had sworn to trust and to obey came
to chase away these imaginings of his fevered fancy. He saw
Jeanne, and only Jeanne, standing on the tumbril and being led to
the guillotine. Sir Andrew was not there, and Percy had not come.
Armand believed that a direct message had come to him from heaven
to save his beloved.
Therefore he forgot his promise--his oath; he forgot those very
things which the leader had entreated him to remember--his duty to
the others, his loyalty, his obedience. Jeanne had first claim on
him. It were the act of a coward to remain in safety whilst she
was in such deadly danger.
Now he blamed himself severely for having quitted Paris. Even
Percy must have thought him a coward for obeying quite so readily.
Maybe the command had been but a test of his courage, of the
strength of his love for Jeanne.
A hundred conjectures flashed through his brain; a hundred plans
presented themselves to his mind. It was not for Percy, who did
not know her, to save Jeanne or to guard her. That task was
Armand's, who worshipped her, and who would gladly die beside her
if he failed to rescue her from threatened death.
Resolution was not slow in coming. A tower clock inside the city
struck the hour of six, and still no sign of Percy.
Armand, his certificate of safety in his hand, walked boldly up to
The guard challenged him, but he presented the certificate. There
was an agonising moment when the card was taken from him, and he
was detained in the guard-room while it was being examined by the
sergeant in command.
But the certificate was in good order, and Armand, covered in
coal-dust, with the perspiration streaming down his face, did
certainly not look like an aristocrat in disguise. It was never
very difficult to enter the great city; if one wished to put one's
head in the lion's mouth, one was welcome to do so; the difficulty
came when the lion thought fit to close his jaws.
Armand, after five minutes of tense anxiety, was allowed to cross
the barrier, but his certificate of safety was detained. He would
have to get another from the Committee of General Security before
he would be allowed to leave Paris again.
The lion had thought fit to close his jaws.
THE WEARY SEARCH
Blakeney was not at his lodgings when Armand arrived there that
evening, nor did he return, whilst the young man haunted the
precincts of St. Germain l'Auxerrois and wandered along the quays
hours and hours at a stretch, until he nearly dropped under the
portico of a house, and realised that if he loitered longer he
might lose consciousness completely, and be unable on the morrow
to be of service to Jeanne.
He dragged his weary footsteps back to his own lodgings on the
heights of Montmartre. He had not found Percy, he had no news of
Jeanne; it seemed as if hell itself could hold no worse tortures
than this intolerable suspense.
He threw himself down on the narrow palliasse and, tired nature
asserting herself, at last fell into a heavy, dreamless torpor,
like the sleep of a drunkard, deep but without the beneficent aid
It was broad daylight when he awoke. The pale light of a damp,
wintry morning filtered through the grimy panes of the window.
Armand jumped out of bed, aching of limb but resolute of mind.
There was no doubt that Percy had failed in discovering Jeanne's
whereabouts; but where a mere friend had failed a lover was more
likely to succeed.
The rough clothes which he had worn yesterday were the only ones
he had. They would, of course, serve his purpose better than his
own, which he had left at Blakeney's lodgings yesterday. In half
an hour he was dressed, looking a fairly good imitation of a
labourer out of work.
He went to a humble eating house of which he knew, and there,
having ordered some hot coffee with a hunk of bread, he set
himself to think.
It was quite a usual thing these days for relatives and friends of
prisoners to go wandering about from prison to prison to find out
where the loved ones happened to be detained. The prisons were
over full just now; convents, monasteries, and public institutions
had all been requisitioned by the Government for the housing of
the hundreds of so-called traitors who had been arrested on the
barest suspicion, or at the mere denunciation of an evil-wisher.
There were the Abbaye and the Luxembourg, the erstwhile convents
of the Visitation and the Sacre-Coeur, the cloister of the
Oratorians, the Salpetriere, and the St. Lazare hospitals, and
there was, of course, the Temple, and, lastly, the Conciergerie,
to which those prisoners were brought whose trial would take place
within the next few days, and whose condemnation was practically
Persons under arrest at some of the other prisons did sometimes
come out of them alive, but the Conciergerie was only the
ante-chamber of the guillotine.
Therefore Armand's idea was to visit the Conciergerie first. The
sooner he could reassure himself that Jeanne was not in immediate
danger the better would he be able to endure the agony of that
heart-breaking search, that knocking at every door in the hope of
finding his beloved.
If Jeanne was not in the Conciergerie, then there might be some
hope that she was only being temporarily detained, and through
Armand's excited brain there had already flashed the thought that
mayhap the Committee of General Security would release her if he
gave himself up.
These thoughts, and the making of plans, fortified him mentally
and physically; he even made a great effort to eat and drink,
knowing that his bodily strength must endure if it was going to he
of service to Jeanne.
He reached the Quai de l'Horloge soon after nine. The grim,
irregular walls of the Chatelet and the house of Justice loomed
from out the mantle of mist that lay on the river banks. Armand
skirted the square clock-tower, and passed through the monumental
gateways of the house of Justice.
He knew that his best way to the prison would be through the halls
and corridors of the Tribunal, to which the public had access
whenever the court was sitting. The sittings began at ten, and
already the usual crowd of idlers were assembling--men and women
who apparently had no other occupation save to come day after day
to this theatre of horrors and watch the different acts of the
heartrending dramas that were enacted here with a kind of awful
Armand mingled with the crowd that stood about the courtyard, and
anon moved slowly up the gigantic flight of stone steps, talking
lightly on indifferent subjects. There was quite a goodly
sprinkling of workingmen amongst this crowd, and Armand in his
toil-stained clothes attracted no attention.
Suddenly a word reached his ear--just a name flippantly spoken by
spiteful lips--and it changed the whole trend of his thoughts.
Since he had risen that morning he had thought of nothing but of
Jeanne, and--in connection with her--of Percy and his vain quest
of her. Now that name spoken by some one unknown brought his mind
back to more definite thoughts of his chief.
"Capet!" the name--intended as an insult, but actually merely
irrelevant--whereby the uncrowned little King of France was
designated by the revolutionary party.
Armand suddenly recollected that to-day was Sunday, the 19th of
January. He had lost count of days and of dates lately, but the
name, "Capet," had brought everything back: the child in the
Temple; the conference in Blakeney's lodgings; the plans for the
rescue of the boy. That was to take place to-day--Sunday, the
19th. The Simons would be moving from the Temple, at what hour
Blakeney did not know, but it would be today, and he would be
watching his opportunity.
Now Armand understood everything; a great wave of bitterness swept
over his soul. Percy had forgotten Jeanne! He was busy thinking
of the child in the Temple, and whilst Armand had been eating out
his heart with anxiety, the Scarlet Pimpernel, true only to his
mission, and impatient of all sentiment that interfered with his
schemes, had left Jeanne to pay with her life for the safety of
the uncrowned King.
But the bitterness did not last long; on the contrary, a kind of
wild exultation took its place. If Percy had forgotten, then
Armand could stand by Jeanne alone. It was better so! He would
save the loved one; it was his duty and his right to work for her
sake. Never for a moment did he doubt that he could save her,
that his life would be readily accepted in exchange for hers.
The crowd around him was moving up the monumental steps, and
Armand went with the crowd. It lacked but a few minutes to ten
now; soon the court would begin to sit. In the olden days, when he
was studying for the law, Armand had often wandered about at will
along the corridors of the house of Justice. He knew exactly
where the different prisons were situated about the buildings, and
how to reach the courtyards where the prisoners took their daily
To watch those aristos who were awaiting trial and death taking
their recreation in these courtyards had become one of the sights
of Paris. Country cousins on a visit to the city were brought
hither for entertainment. Tall iron gates stood between the
public and the prisoners, and a row of sentinels guarded these
gates; but if one was enterprising and eager to see, one could
glue one's nose against the ironwork and watch the ci-devant
aristocrats in threadbare clothes trying to cheat their horror of
death by acting a farce of light-heartedness which their wan faces
and tear-dimmed eyes effectually belied.
All this Armand knew, and on this he counted. For a little while
he joined the crowd in the Salle des Pas Perdus, and wandered idly
up and down the majestic colonnaded hall. He even at one time
formed part of the throng that watched one of those quick tragedies
that were enacted within the great chamber of the court. A number
of prisoners brought in, in a batch; hurried interrogations,
interrupted answers, a quick indictment, monstrous in its flaring
injustice, spoken by Foucquier-Tinville, the public prosecutor,
and listened to in all seriousness by men who dared to call
themselves judges of their fellows.
The accused had walked down the Champs Elysees without wearing a
tricolour cockade; the other had invested some savings in an
English industrial enterprise; yet another had sold public funds,
causing them to depreciate rather suddenly in the market!
Sometimes from one of these unfortunates led thus wantonly to
butchery there would come an excited protest, or from a woman
screams of agonised entreaty. But these were quickly silenced by
rough blows from the butt-ends of muskets, and condemnations--
wholesale sentences of death--were quickly passed amidst the
cheers of the spectators and the howls of derision from infamous
jury and judge.
Oh! the mockery of it all--the awful, the hideous ignominy, the
blot of shame that would forever sully the historic name of
France. Armand, sickened with horror, could not bear more than a
few minutes of this monstrous spectacle. The same fate might even
now be awaiting Jeanne. Among the next batch of victims to this
sacrilegious butchery he might suddenly spy his beloved with her
pale face and cheeks stained with her tears.
He fled from the great chamber, keeping just a sufficiency of
presence of mind to join a knot of idlers who were drifting
leisurely towards the corridors. He followed in their wake and
soon found himself in the long Galerie des Prisonniers, along the
flagstones of which two days ago de Batz had followed his guide
towards the lodgings of Heron.
On his left now were the arcades shut off from the courtyard
beyond by heavy iron gates. Through the ironwork Armand caught
sight of a number of women walking or sitting in the courtyard.
He heard a man next to him explaining to his friend that these
were the female prisoners who would be brought to trial that day,
and he felt that his heart must burst at the thought that mayhap
Jeanne would be among them.
He elbowed his way cautiously to the front rank. Soon he found
himself beside a sentinel who, with a good-humoured jest, made way
for him that he might watch the aristos. Armand leaned against
the grating, and his every sense was concentrated in that of
At first he could scarcely distinguish one woman from another
amongst the crowd that thronged the courtyard, and the close
ironwork hindered his view considerably. The women looked almost
like phantoms in the grey misty air, gliding slowly along with
noiseless tread on the flag-stones.
Presently, however, his eyes, which mayhap were somewhat dim with
tears, became more accustomed to the hazy grey light and the
moving figures that looked so like shadows. He could distinguish
isolated groups now, women and girls sitting together under the
colonnaded arcades, some reading, others busy, with trembling
fingers, patching and darning a poor, torn gown. Then there were
others who were actually chatting and laughing together, and--oh,
the pity of it! the pity and the shame!--a few children, shrieking
with delight, were playing hide and seek in and out amongst the
And, between them all, in and out like the children at play,
unseen, yet familiar to all, the spectre of Death, scythe and
hour-glass in hand, wandered, majestic and sure.
Armand's very soul was in his eyes. So far he had not yet caught
sight of his beloved, and slowly--very slowly--a ray of hope was
filtering through the darkness of his despair.
The sentinel, who had stood aside for him, chaffed him for his
"Have you a sweetheart among these aristos, citizen?" he asked.
"You seem to be devouring them with your eyes."
Armand, with his rough clothes soiled with coal-dust, his face
grimy and streaked with sweat, certainly looked to have but little
in common with the ci-devant aristos who formed the hulk of the
groups in the courtyard. He looked up; the soldier was regarding
him with obvious amusement, and at sight of Armand's wild, anxious
eyes he gave vent to a coarse jest.
"Have I made a shrewd guess, citizen?" he said. "Is she among
"I do not know where she is," said Armand almost involuntarily.
"Then why don't you find out?" queried the soldier.
The man was not speaking altogether unkindly. Armand, devoured
with the maddening desire to know, threw the last fragment of
prudence to the wind. He assumed a more careless air, trying to
look as like a country bumpkin in love as he could.
"I would like to find out," he said, "but I don't know where to
inquire. My sweetheart has certainly left her home," he added
lightly; "some say that she has been false to me, but I think
that, mayhap, she has been arrested."
"Well, then, you gaby," said the soldier good-humouredly, "go
straight to La Tournelle; you know where it is?
Armand knew well enough, but thought it more prudent to keep up
the air of the ignorant lout.
"Straight down that first corridor on your right," explained the
other, pointing in the direction which he had indicated, "you will
find the guichet of La Tournelle exactly opposite to you. Ask the
concierge for the register of female prisoners--every freeborn
citizen of the Republic has the right to inspect prison registers.
It is a new decree framed for safeguarding the liberty of the
people. But if you do not press half a livre in the hand of the
concierge," he added, speaking confidentially, "you will find that
the register will not be quite ready for your inspection."
"Half a livre!" exclaimed Armand, striving to play his part to the
end. "How can a poor devil of a labourer have half a livre to
"Well! a few sous will do in that case; a few sous are always
welcome these hard times."
Armand took the hint, and as the crowd had drifted away
momentarily to a further portion of the corridor, he contrived to
press a few copper coins into the hand of the obliging soldier.
Of course, he knew his way to La Tournelle, and he would have
covered the distance that separated him from the guichet there
with steps flying like the wind, but, commending himself for his
own prudence, he walked as slowly as he could along the
interminable corridor, past the several minor courts of justice,
and skirting the courtyard where the male prisoners took their
At last, having struck sharply to his left and ascended a short
flight of stairs, he found himself in front of the guichet--a
narrow wooden box, wherein the clerk in charge of the prison
registers sat nominally at the disposal of the citizens of this
But to Armand's almost overwhelming chagrin he found the place
entirely deserted. The guichet was closed down; there was not a
soul in sight. The disappointment was doubly keen, coming as it
did in the wake of hope that had refused to be gainsaid. Armand
himself did not realise how sanguine he had been until he
discovered that he must wait and wait again--wait for hours, all
day mayhap, before he could get definite news of Jeanne.
He wandered aimlessly in the vicinity of that silent, deserted,
cruel spot, where a closed trapdoor seemed to shut off all his
hopes of a speedy sight of Jeanne. He inquired of the first
sentinels whom he came across at what hour the clerk of the
registers would be back at his post; the soldiers shrugged their
shoulders and could give no information. Then began Armand's
aimless wanderings round La Tournelle, his fruitless inquiries,
his wild, excited search for the hide-bound official who was
keeping from him the knowledge of Jeanne.
He went back to his sentinel well-wisher by the women's courtyard,
but found neither consolation nor encouragement there.
"It is not the hour--quoi?" the soldier remarked with laconic
It apparently was not the hour when the prison registers were
placed at the disposal of the public. After much fruitless
inquiry, Armand at last was informed by a bon bourgeois, who was
wandering about the house of Justice and who seemed to know its
multifarious rules, that the prison registers all over Paris could
only be consulted by the public between the hours of six and seven
in the evening.
There was nothing for it but to wait. Armand, whose temples were
throbbing, who was footsore, hungry, and wretched, could gain
nothing by continuing his aimless wanderings through the
labyrinthine building. For close upon another hour he stood with
his face glued against the ironwork which separated him from the
female prisoners' courtyard. Once it seemed to him as if from its
further end he caught the sound of that exquisitely melodious
voice which had rung forever in his ear since that memorable
evening when Jeanne's dainty footsteps had first crossed the path
of his destiny. He strained his eyes to look in the direction
whence the voice had come, but the centre of the courtyard was
planted with a small garden of shrubs, and Armand could not see
across it. At last, driven forth like a wandering and lost soul,
he turned back and out into the streets. The air was mild and
damp. The sharp thaw had persisted through the day, and a thin,
misty rain was falling and converting the ill-paved roads into
seas of mud.
But of this Armand was wholly unconscious. He walked along the
quay holding his cap in his hand, so that the mild south wind
should cool his burning forehead.
How he contrived to kill those long, weary hours he could not
afterwards have said. Once he felt very hungry, and turned almost
mechanically into an eating-house, and tried to eat and drink.
But most of the day he wandered through the streets, restlessly,
unceasingly, feeling neither chill nor fatigue. The hour before
six o'clock found him on the Quai de l'Horloge in the shadow of
the great towers of the Hall of Justice, listening for the clang
of the clock that would sound the hour of his deliverance from
this agonising torture of suspense.
He found his way to La Tournelle without any hesitation. There
before him was the wooden box, with its guichet open at last, and
two stands upon its ledge, on which were placed two huge
Though Armand was nearly an hour before the appointed time, he saw
when he arrived a number of people standing round the guichet.
Two soldiers were there keeping guard and forcing the patient,
long-suffering inquirers to stand in a queue, each waiting his or
her turn at the books.
It was a curious crowd that stood there, in single file, as if
waiting at the door of the cheaper part of a theatre; men in
substantial cloth clothes, and others in ragged blouse and
breeches; there were a few women, too, with black shawls on their
shoulders and kerchiefs round their wan, tear-stained faces.
They were all silent and absorbed, submissive under the rough
handling of the soldiery, humble and deferential when anon the
clerk of the registers entered his box, and prepared to place
those fateful books at the disposal of those who had lost a loved
one--father, brother, mother, or wife--and had come to search
through those cruel pages.
From inside his box the clerk disputed every inquirer's right to
consult the books; he made as many difficulties as he could,
demanding the production of certificates of safety, or permits
from the section. He was as insolent as he dared, and Armand from
where he stood could see that a continuous if somewhat thin stream
of coppers flowed from the hands of the inquirers into those of
It was quite dark in the passage where the long queue continued to
swell with amazing rapidity. Only on the ledge in front of the
guichet there was a guttering tallow candle at the disposal of the
Now it was Armand's turn at last. By this time his heart was
beating so strongly and so rapidly that he could not have trusted
himself to speak. He fumbled in his pocket, and without unnecessary
preliminaries he produced a small piece of silver, and pushed it
towards the clerk, then he seized on the register marked "Femmes"
with voracious avidity.
The clerk had with stolid indifference pocketed the half-livre; he
looked on Armand over a pair of large bone-rimmed spectacles, with
the air of an old hawk that sees a helpless bird and yet is too
satiated to eat. He was apparently vastly amused at Armand's
trembling hands, and the clumsy, aimless way with which he fingered
the book and held up the tallow candle.
"What date?" he asked curtly in a piping voice.
"What date?" reiterated Armand vaguely.
"What day and hour was she arrested?" said the man, thrusting his
beak-like nose closer to Armand's face. Evidently the piece of
silver had done its work well; he meant to be helpful to this
"On Friday evening," murmured the young man.
The clerk's hands did not in character gainsay the rest of his
appearance; they were long and thin, with nails that resembled the
talons of a hawk. Armand watched them fascinated as from above
they turned over rapidly the pages of the book; then one long,
grimy finger pointed to a row of names down a column.
"If she is here," said the man curtly, "her name should be amongst
Armand's vision was blurred. He could scarcely see. The row of
names was dancing a wild dance in front of his eyes; perspiration
stood out on his forehead, and his breath came in quick,
He never knew afterwards whether he actually saw Jeanne's name
there in the book, or whether his fevered brain was playing his
aching senses a cruel and mocking trick. Certain it is that
suddenly amongst a row of indifferent names hers suddenly stood
clearly on the page, and to him it seemed as if the letters were
writ out in blood.
582. Belhomme, Louise, aged sixty. Discharged.
And just below, the other entry:
583. Lange, Jeanne, aged twenty, actress. Square du Roule
No.5. Suspected of harbouring traitors and ci-devants.
Transferred 29th Nivose to the Temple, cell 29.
He saw nothing more, for suddenly it seemed to him as if some one
held a vivid scarlet veil in front of his eyes, whilst a hundred
claw-like hands were tearing at his heart and at his throat.
"Clear out now! it is my turn--what? Are you going to stand there
A rough voice seemed to be speaking these words; rough hands
apparently were pushing him out of the way, and some one snatched
the candle out of his hand; but nothing was real. He stumbled
over a corner of a loose flagstone, and would have fallen, but
something seemed to catch bold of him and to lead him away for a
little distance, until a breath of cold air blew upon his face.
This brought him back to his senses.
Jeanne was a prisoner in the Temple; then his place was in the
prison of the Temple, too. It could not be very difficult to run
one's head into the noose that caught so many necks these days. A
few cries of "Vive le roi!" or "A bas la republique!" and more
than one prison door would gape invitingly to receive another
The hot blood had rushed into Armand's head. He did not see
clearly before him, nor did he hear distinctly. There was a
buzzing in his ears as of myriads of mocking birds' wings, and
there was a veil in front of his eyes--a veil through which he saw
faces and forms flitting ghost-like in the gloom, men and women
jostling or being jostled, soldiers, sentinels; then long,
interminable corridors, more crowd and more soldiers, winding
stairs, courtyards and gates; finally the open street, the quay,
and the river beyond.
An incessant hammering went on in his temples, and that veil never
lifted from before his eyes. Now it was lurid and red, as if
stained with blood; anon it was white like a shroud but it was
Through it he saw the Pont-au-Change, which he crossed, then far
down on the Quai de l'Ecole to the left the corner house behind
St. Germain l'Auxerrois, where Blakeney lodged--Blakeney, who for
the sake of a stranger had forgotten all about his comrade and
Through it he saw the network of streets which separated him from
the neighbourhood of the Temple, the gardens of ruined
habitations, the closely-shuttered and barred windows of ducal
houses, then the mean streets, the crowded drinking bars, the
tumble-down shops with their dilapidated awnings.
He saw with eyes that did not see, heard the tumult of daily life
round him with ears that did not hear. Jeanne was in the Temple
prison, and when its grim gates closed finally for the night,
he--Armand, her chevalier, her lover, her defender--would be
within its walls as near to cell No. 29 as bribery, entreaty,
promises would help him to attain.
Ah! there at last loomed the great building, the pointed bastions
cut through the surrounding gloom as with a sable knife.
Armand reached the gate; the sentinels challenged him; he replied:
"Vive le roi!" shouting wildly like one who is drunk.
He was hatless, and his clothes were saturated with moisture. He
tried to pass, but crossed bayonets barred the way. Still he
"Vive le roi!" and "A bas la republique!"
"Allons! the fellow is drunk!" said one of the soldiers.
Armand fought like a madman; he wanted to reach that gate. He
shouted, he laughed, and he cried, until one of the soldiers in a
fit of rage struck him heavily on the head.
Armand fell backwards, stunned by the blow; his foot slipped on
the wet pavement. Was he indeed drunk, or was he dreaming? He
put his hand up to his forehead; it was wet, but whether with the
rain or with blood he did not know; but for the space of one
second he tried to collect his scattered wits.
"Citizen St. Just!" said a quiet voice at his elbow.
Then, as he looked round dazed, feeling a firm, pleasant grip on
his arm, the same quiet voice continued calmly:
"Perhaps you do not remember me, citizen St. Just. I had not the
honour of the same close friendship with you as I had with your
charming sister. My name is Chauvelin. Can I be of any service to
Chauvelin! The presence of this man here at this moment made the
events of the past few days seem more absolutely like a dream.
Chauvelin!--the most deadly enemy he, Armand, and his sister
Marguerite had in the world. Chauvelin!--the evil genius that
presided over the Secret Service of the Republic. Chauvelin--the
aristocrat turned revolutionary, the diplomat turned spy, the
baffled enemy of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
He stood there vaguely outlined in the gloom by the feeble rays of
an oil lamp fixed into the wall just above. The moisture on his
sable clothes glistened in the flickering light like a thin veil
of crystal; it clung to the rim of his hat, to the folds of his
cloak; the ruffles at his throat and wrist hung limp and soiled.
He had released Armand's arm, and held his hands now underneath
his cloak; his pale, deep-set eyes rested gravely on the younger
"I had an idea, somehow," continued Chauvelin calmly, "that you
and I would meet during your sojourn in Paris. I heard from my
friend Heron that you had been in the city; he, unfortunately,
lost your track almost as soon as he had found it, and I, too, had
begun to fear that our mutual and ever enigmatical friend, the
Scarlet Pimpernel, had spirited you away, which would have been a
great disappointment to me."
Now he once more took hold of Armand by the elbow, but quite
gently, more like a comrade who is glad to have met another, and
is preparing to enjoy a pleasant conversation for a while. He led
the way back to the gate, the sentinel saluting at sight of the
tricolour scarf which was visible underneath his cloak. Under the
stone rampart Chauvelin paused.
It was quiet and private here. The group of soldiers stood at the
further end of the archway, but they were out of hearing, and
their forms were only vaguely discernible in the surrounding
Armand had followed his enemy mechanically like one bewitched and
irresponsible for his actions. When Chauvelin paused he too stood
still, not because of the grip on his arm, but because of that
curious numbing of his will.
Vague, confused thoughts were floating through his brain, the most
dominant one among them being that Fate had effectually ordained
everything for the best. Here was Chauvelin, a man who hated him,
who, of course, would wish to see him dead. Well, surely it must
be an easier matter now to barter his own life for that of Jeanne;
she had only been arrested on suspicion of harbouring him, who was
a known traitor to the Republic; then, with his capture and speedy
death, her supposed guilt would, he hoped, be forgiven. These
people could have no ill-will against her, and actors and
actresses were always leniently dealt with when possible. Then
surely, surely, he could serve Jeanne best by his own arrest and
condemnation, than by working to rescue her from prison.
In the meanwhile Chauvelin shook the damp from off his cloak,
talking all the time in his own peculiar, gently ironical manner.
"Lady Blakeney?" he was saying--" I hope that she is well!"
"I thank you, sir," murmured Armand mechanically.
"And my dear friend, Sir Percy Blakeney? I had hoped to meet him
in Paris. Ah! but no doubt he has been busy very busy; but I live
in hopes--I live in hopes. See how kindly Chance has treated me,"
he continued in the same bland and mocking tones. "I was taking a
stroll in these parts, scarce hoping to meet a friend, when,
passing the postern-gate of this charming hostelry, whom should I
see but my amiable friend St. Just striving to gain admission.
But, la! here am I talking of myself, and I am not re-assured as
to your state of health. You felt faint just now, did you not?
The air about this building is very dank and close. I hope you
feel better now. Command me, pray, if I can be of service to you
in any way."
Whilst Chauvelin talked he had drawn Armand after him into the
lodge of the concierge. The young man now made a great effort to
pull himself vigorously together and to steady his nerves.
He had his wish. He was inside the Temple prison now, not far
from Jeanne, and though his enemy was older and less vigorous than
himself, and the door of the concierge's lodge stood wide open, he
knew that he was in-deed as effectually a prisoner already as if
the door of one of the numerous cells in this gigantic building
had been bolted and barred upon him.
This knowledge helped him to recover his complete presence of
mind. No thought of fighting or trying to escape his fate entered
his head for a moment. It had been useless probably, and
undoubtedly it was better so. If he only could see Jeanne, and
assure himself that she would be safe in consequence of his own
arrest, then, indeed, life could hold no greater happiness for
Above all now he wanted to be cool and calculating, to curb the
excitement which the Latin blood in him called forth at every
mention of the loved one's name. He tried to think of Percy, of
his calmness, his easy banter with an enemy; he resolved to act as
Percy would act under these circumstances.
Firstly, he steadied his voice, and drew his well-knit, slim
figure upright. He called to mind all his friends in England,
with their rigid manners, their impassiveness in the face of
trying situations. There was Lord Tony, for instance, always
ready with some boyish joke, with boyish impertinence always
hovering on his tongue. Armand tried to emulate Lord Tony's
manner, and to borrow something of Percy's calm impudence.
"Citizen Chauvelin," he said, as soon as he felt quite sure of the
steadiness of his voice and the calmness of his manner, "I wonder
if you are quite certain that that light grip which you have on my
arm is sufficient to keep me here walking quietly by your side
instead of knocking you down, as I certainly feel inclined to do,
for I am a younger, more vigorous man than you."
"H'm!" said Chauvelin, who made pretence to ponder over this
difficult problem; "like you, citizen St. Just, I wonder--"
"It could easily be done, you know."
"Fairly easily," rejoined the other; "but there is the guard; it
is numerous and strong in this building, and--"
"The gloom would help me; it is dark in the corridors, and a
desperate man takes risks, remember--"
"Quite so! And you, citizen St. Just, are a desperate man just
"My sister Marguerite is not here, citizen Chauvelin. You cannot
barter my life for that of your enemy."
"No! no! no!" rejoined Chauvelin blandly; "not for that of my
enemy, I know, but--"
Armand caught at his words like a drowning man at a reed.
"For hers!" he exclaimed.
"For hers?" queried the other with obvious puzzlement.
"Mademoiselle Lange," continued Armand with all the egoistic
ardour of the lover who believes that the attention of the entire
world is concentrated upon his beloved.
"Mademoiselle Lange! You will set her free now that I am in your
Chauvelin smiled, his usual suave, enigmatical smile.
"Ah, yes!" he said. "Mademoiselle Lange. I had forgotten."
"Forgotten, man?--forgotten that those murderous dogs have
arrested her?--the best, the purest, this vile, degraded country
has ever produced. She sheltered me one day just for an hour. I
am a traitor to the Republic--I own it. I'll make full confession;
but she knew nothing of this. I deceived her; she is quite innocent,
you understand? I'll make full confession, but you must set her free."
He had gradually worked himself up again to a state of feverish