Part 4 out of 8
excitement. Through the darkness which hung about in this small
room he tried to peer in Chauvelin's impassive face.
"Easy, easy, my young friend," said the other placidly; "you seem
to imagine that I have something to do with the arrest of the lady
in whom you take so deep an interest. You forget that now I am but
a discredited servant of the Republic whom I failed to serve in
her need. My life is only granted me out of pity for my efforts,
which were genuine if not successful. I have no power to set any
"Nor to arrest me now, in that case!" retorted Armand.
Chauvelin paused a moment before he replied with a deprecating
"Only to denounce you, perhaps. I am still an agent of the
Committee of General Security."
"Then all is for the best!" exclaimed St. Just eagerly. "You shall
denounce me to the Committee. They will be glad of my arrest, I
assure you. I have been a marked man for some time. I had
intended to evade arrest and to work for the rescue of
Mademoiselle Lange; but I will give tip all thought of that--I
will deliver myself into your hands absolutely; nay, more, I will
give you my most solemn word of honour that not only will I make
no attempt at escape, but that I will not allow any one to help me
to do so. I will be a passive and willing prisoner if you, on the
other hand, will effect Mademoiselle Lange's release."
"H'm!" mused Chauvelin again, "it sounds feasible."
"It does! it does!" rejoined Armand, whose excitement was at
fever-pitch. "My arrest, my condemnation, my death, will be of
vast deal more importance to you than that of a young and innocent
girl against whom unlikely charges would have to be tricked up,
and whose acquittal mayhap public feeling might demand. As for
me, I shall be an easy prey; my known counter-revolutionary
principles, my sister's marriage with a foreigner--"
"Your connection with the Scarlet Pimpernel," suggested Chauvelin
"Quite so. I should not defend myself--"
"And your enigmatical friend would not attempt your rescue. C'est
entendu," said Chauvelin with his wonted blandness. "Then, my
dear, enthusiastic young friend, shall we adjourn to the office of
my colleague, citizen Heron, who is chief agent of the Committee
of General Security, and will receive your--did you say
confession?--and note the conditions under which you place
yourself absolutely in the hands of the Public Prosecutor and
subsequently of the executioner. Is that it?"
Armand was too full of schemes, too full of thoughts of Jeanne to
note the tone of quiet irony with which Chauvelin had been
speaking all along. With the unreasoning egoism of youth he was
quite convinced that his own arrest, his own affairs were as
important to this entire nation in revolution as they were to
himself. At moments like these it is difficult to envisage a
desperate situation clearly, and to a young man in love the fate
of the beloved never seems desperate whilst he himself is alive
and ready for every sacrifice for her sake. "My life for hers" is
the sublime if often foolish battle-cry that has so often resulted
in whole-sale destruction. Armand at this moment, when he fondly
believed that he was making a bargain with the most astute, most
unscrupulous spy this revolutionary Government had in its
pay--Armand just then had absolutely forgotten his chief, his
friends, the league of mercy and help to which he belonged.
Enthusiasm and the spirit of self-sacrifice were carrying him
away. He watched his enemy with glowing eyes as one who looks on
the arbiter of his fate.
Chauvelin, without another word, beckoned to him to follow. He
led the way out of the lodge, then, turning sharply to his left,
he reached the wide quadrangle with the covered passage running
right round it, the same which de Batz had traversed two evenings
ago when he went to visit Heron.
Armand, with a light heart and springy step, followed him as if he
were going to a feast where he would meet Jeanne, where he would
kneel at her feet, kiss her hands, and lead her triumphantly to
freedom and to happiness.
Chauvelin no longer made any pretence to hold Armand by the arm.
By temperament as well as by profession a spy, there was one
subject at least which he had mastered thoroughly: that was the
study of human nature. Though occasionally an exceptionally
complex mental organisation baffled him--as in the case of Sir
Percy Blakeney--he prided himself, and justly, too, on reading
natures like that of Armand St. Just as he would an open book.
The excitable disposition of the Latin races he knew out and out;
he knew exactly how far a sentimental situation would lead a young
Frenchman like Armand, who was by disposition chivalrous, and by
temperament essentially passionate. Above all things, he knew
when and how far he could trust a man to do either a sublime
action or an essentially foolish one.
Therefore he walked along contentedly now, not even looking back
to see whether St. Just was following him. He knew that he did.
His thoughts only dwelt on the young enthusiast--in his mind he
called him the young fool--in order to weigh in the balance the
mighty possibilities that would accrue from the present sequence
of events. The fixed idea ever working in the man's scheming
brain had already transformed a vague belief into a certainty.
That the Scarlet Pimpernel was in Paris at the present moment
Chauvelin had now become convinced. How far he could turn the
capture of Armand St. Just to the triumph of his own ends remained
to be seen.
But this he did know: the Scarlet Pimpernel--the man whom he had
learned to know, to dread, and even in a grudging manner to
admire--was not like to leave one of his followers in the lurch.
Marguerite's brother in the Temple would be the surest decoy for
the elusive meddler who still, and in spite of all care and
precaution, continued to baffle the army of spies set upon his
Chauvelin could hear Armand's light, elastic footsteps resounding
behind him on the flagstones. A world of intoxicating
possibilities surged up before him. Ambition, which two
successive dire failures had atrophied in his breast, once more
rose up buoyant and hopeful. Once he had sworn to lay the Scarlet
Pimpernel by the heels, and that oath was not yet wholly
forgotten; it had lain dormant after the catastrophe of Boulogne,
but with the sight of Armand St. Just it had re-awakened and
confronted him again with the strength of a likely fulfilment.
The courtyard looked gloomy and deserted. The thin drizzle which
still fell from a persistently leaden sky effectually held every
outline of masonry, of column, or of gate hidden as beneath a
shroud. The corridor which skirted it all round was ill-lighted
save by an occasional oil-lamp fixed in the wall.
But Chauvelin knew his way well. Heron's lodgings gave on the
second courtyard, the Square du Nazaret, and the way thither led
past the main square tower, in the top floor of which the
uncrowned King of France eked out his miserable existence as the
plaything of a rough cobbler and his wife.
Just beneath its frowning bastions Chauvelin turned back towards
Armand. He pointed with a careless hand up-wards to the central
"We have got little Capet in there," he said dryly. "Your
chivalrous Scarlet Pimpernel has not ventured in these precincts
yet, you see."
Armand was silent. He had no difficulty in looking unconcerned;
his thoughts were so full of Jeanne that he cared but little at
this moment for any Bourbon king or for the destinies of France.
Now the two men reached the postern gate. A couple of sentinels
were standing by, but the gate itself was open, and from within
there came the sound of bustle and of noise, of a good deal of
swearing, and also of loud laughter.
The guard-room gave on the left of the gate, and the laughter came
from there. It was brilliantly lighted, and Armand, peering in,
in the wake of Chauvelin, could see groups of soldiers sitting and
standing about. There was a table in the centre of the room, and
on it a number of jugs and pewter mugs, packets of cards, and
overturned boxes of dice.
But the bustle did not come from the guard-room; it came from the
landing and the stone stairs beyond.
Chauvelin, apparently curious, had passed through the gate, and
Armand followed him. The light from the open door of the
guard-room cut sharply across the landing, making the gloom beyond
appear more dense and almost solid. From out the darkness,
fitfully intersected by a lanthorn apparently carried to and fro,
moving figures loomed out ghost-like and weirdly gigantic. Soon
Armand distinguished a number of large objects that encumbered the
landing, and as he and Chauvelin left the sharp light of the
guard-room 'behind them, he could see that the large objects were
pieces of furniture of every shape and size; a wooden
bedstead--dismantled--leaned against the wall, a black horsehair
sofa blocked the way to the tower stairs, and there were
numberless chairs and several tables piled one on the top of the
In the midst of this litter a stout, flabby-cheeked man stood,
apparently giving directions as to its removal to persons at
"Hola, Papa Simon!" exclaimed Chauvelin jovially; "moving out
"Yes, thank the Lord!--if there be a Lord!" retorted the other
curtly. "Is that you, citizen Chauvelin?"
"In person, citizen. I did not know you were leaving quite so
soon. Is citizen Heron anywhere about?"
"Just left," replied Simon. "He had a last look at Capet just
before my wife locked the brat up in the inner room. Now he's
gone back to his lodgings."
A man carrying a chest, empty of its drawers, on his back now came
stumbling down the tower staircase. Madame Simon followed close
on his heels, steadying the chest with one hand.
"We had better begin to load up the cart," she called to her
husband in a high-pitched querulous voice; "the corridor is
getting too much encumbered."
She looked suspiciously at Chauvelin and at Armand, and when she
encountered the former's bland, unconcerned gaze she suddenly
shivered and drew her black shawl closer round her shoulders.
"Bah!" she said, "I shall be glad to get out of this God-forsaken
hole. I hate the very sight of these walls."
"Indeed, the citizeness does not look over robust in health," said
Chauvelin with studied politeness. "The stay in the tower did
not, mayhap, bring forth all the fruits of prosperity which she
The woman eyed him with dark suspicion lurking in her hollow eyes.
"I don't know what you mean, citizen," she said with a shrug of
her wide shoulders.
"Oh! I meant nothing," rejoined Chauvelin, smiling. "I am so
interested in your removal; busy man as I am, it has amused me to
watch you. Whom have you got to help you with the furniture?"
"Dupont, the man-of-all-work, from the concierge," said Simon
curtly. "Citizen Heron would not allow any one to come in from
"Rightly too. Have the new commissaries come yet?
"Only citizen Cochefer. He is waiting upstairs for the others."
"He is all safe. Citizen Heron came to see him, and then he told
me to lock the little vermin up in the inner room. Citizen
Cochefer had just arrived by that time, and he has remained in
During all this while the man with the chest on his back was
waiting for orders. Bent nearly double, he was grumbling audibly
at his uncomfortable position.
"Does the citizen want to break my back?" he muttered.
"We had best get along--quoi?"
He asked if he should begin to carry the furniture out into the
"Two sous have I got to pay every ten minutes to the lad who holds
my nag," he said, muttering under his breath; "we shall be all
night at this rate."
"Begin to load then," commanded Simon gruffly. "Here!--begin with
"You'll have to give me a hand with that," said the man. "Wait a
bit; I'll just see that everything is all right in the cart. I'll
be back directly."
"Take something with you then as you are going down," said Madame
Simon in her querulous voice.
The man picked up a basket of linen that stood in the angle by the
door. He hoisted it on his back and shuffled away with it across
the landing and out through the gate.
"How did Capet like parting from his papa and maman?" asked
Chauvelin with a laugh.
"H'm!" growled Simon laconically. "He will find out soon enough
how well off he was under our care."
"Have the other commissaries come yet?"
"No. But they will be here directly. Citizen Cochefer is
upstairs mounting guard over Capet."
"Well, good-bye, Papa Simon," concluded Chauvelin jovially.
"Citizeness, your servant!
He bowed with unconcealed irony to the cobbler's wife, and nodded
to Simon, who expressed by a volley of motley oaths his exact
feelings with regard to all the agents of the Committee of General
"Six months of this penal servitude have we had," he said roughly,
"and no thanks or pension. I would as soon serve a ci-devant
aristo as your accursed Committee."
The man Dupont had returned. Stolidly, after the fashion of his
kind, he commenced the removal of citizen Simon's goods. He
seemed a clumsy enough creature, and Simon and his wife had to do
most of the work themselves.
Chauvelin watched the moving forms for a while, then he shrugged
his shoulders with a laugh of indifference, and turned on his
IT IS ABOUT THE DAUPHIN
Heron was not at his lodgings when, at last, after vigorous pulls
at the bell, a great deal of waiting and much cursing, Chauvelin,
closely followed by Armand, was introduced in the chief agent's
The soldier who acted as servant said that citizen Heron had gone
out to sup, but would surely be home again by eight o'clock.
Armand by this time was so dazed with fatigue that he sank on a
chair like a log, and remained there staring into the fire,
unconscious of the flight of time.
Anon Heron came home. He nodded to Chauvelin, and threw but a
cursory glance on Armand.
"Five minutes, citizen," he said, with a rough attempt at an
apology. "I am sorry to keep you waiting, but the new
commissaries have arrived who are to take charge of Capet. The
Simons have just gone, and I want to assure myself that everything
is all right in the Tower. Cochefer has been in charge, but I
like to cast an eye over the brat every day myself."
He went out again, slamming the door behind him. His heavy
footsteps were heard treading the flagstones of the corridor, and
gradually dying away in the distance. Armand had paid no heed
either to his entrance or to his exit. He was only conscious of
an intense weariness, and would at this moment gladly have laid
his head on the scaffold if on it he could find rest.
A white-faced clock on the wall ticked off the seconds one by one.
From the street below came the muffled sounds of wheeled traffic
on the soft mud of the road; it was raining more heavily now, and
from time to time a gust of wind rattled the small windows in
their dilapidated frames, or hurled a shower of heavy drops
against the panes.
The heat from the stove had made Armand drowsy; his head fell
forward on his chest. Chauvelin, with his hands held behind his
back, paced ceaselessly up and down the narrow room.
Suddenly Armand started--wide awake now. Hurried footsteps on the
flagstones outside, a hoarse shout, a banging of heavy doors, and
the next moment Heron stood once more on the threshold of the
room. Armand, with wide-opened eyes, gazed on him in wonder. The
whole appearance of the man had changed. He looked ten years
older, with lank, dishevelled hair hanging matted over a moist
forehead, the cheeks ashen-white, the full lips bloodless and
hanging, flabby and parted, displaying both rows of yellow teeth
that shook against each other. The whole figure looked bowed, as
if shrunk within itself.
Chauvelin had paused in his restless walk, He gazed on his
colleague, a frown of puzzlement on his pale, set face.
"Capet!" he exclaimed, as soon as he had taken in every detail of
Heron's altered appearance, and seen the look of wild terror that
literally distorted his face.
Heron could not speak; his teeth were chattering in his mouth, and
his tongue seemed paralysed. Chauvelin went up to him. He was
several inches shorter than his colleague, but at this moment he
seemed to be towering over him like an avenging spirit. He placed
a firm hand on the other's bowed shoulders.
"Capet has gone--is that it?" he queried peremptorily.
The look of terror increased in Heron's eyes, giving its mute reply.
But for the moment the man was speechless. An almost maniacal
fear seemed to hold him in its grip. With an impatient oath
Chauvelin turned away from him.
"Brandy!" he said curtly, speaking to Armand.
A bottle and glass were found in the cupboard. It was St. Just
who poured out the brandy and held it to Heron's lips. Chauvelin
was once more pacing up and down the room in angry impatience.
"Pull yourself together, man," he said roughly after a while, "and
try and tell me what has occurred."
Heron had sunk into a chair. He passed a trembling hand once or
twice over his forehead.
"Capet has disappeared," he murmured; "he must have been spirited
away while the Simons were moving their furniture. That accursed
Cochefer was completely taken in."
Heron spoke in a toneless voice, hardly above a whisper, and like
one whose throat is dry and mouth parched. But the brandy had
revived him somewhat, and his eyes lost their former glassy look.
"How?" asked Chauvelin curtly.
"I was just leaving the Tower when he arrived. I spoke to him at
the door. I had seen Capet safely installed in the room, and gave
orders to the woman Simon to let citizen Cochefer have a look at
him, too, and then to lock up the brat in the inner room and
install Cochefer in the antechamber on guard. I stood talking to
Cochefer for a few moments in the antechamber. The woman Simon
and the man-of-all-work, Dupont--whom I know well--were busy with
the furniture. There could not have been any one else concealed
about the place--that I'll swear. Cochefer, after he took leave
of me, went straight into the room; he found the woman Simon in
the act of turning the key in the door of the inner chamber. I
have locked Capet in there,' she said, giving the key to Cochefer;
'he will be quite safe until to-night; when the other commissaries
"Didn't Cochefer go into the room and ascertain whether the woman
"Yes, he did! He made the woman re-open the door and peeped in
over her shoulder. She said the child was asleep. He vows that
he saw the child lying fully dressed on a rug in the further
corner of the room. The room, of course, was quite empty of
furniture and only lighted by one candle, but there was the rug
and the child asleep on it. Cochefer swears he saw him, and
now--when I went up--"
"The commissaries were all there--Cochefer and Lasniere, Lorinet
and Legrand. We went into the inner room, and I had a candle in
my hand. We saw the child lying on the rug, just as Cochefer had
seen him, and for a while we took no notice of it. Then some
one--I think it was Lorinet--went to have a closer look at the
brat. He took up the candle and went up to the rug. Then he gave
a cry, and we all gathered round him. The sleeping child was only
a bundle of hair and of clothes, a dummy--what?"
There was silence now in the narrow room, while the white-faced
clock continued to tick off each succeeding second of time. Heron
had once more buried his head in his hands; a trembling--like an
attack of ague--shook his wide, bony shoulders. Armand had
listened to the narrative with glowing eyes and a beating heart.
The details which the two Terrorists here could not probably
understand he had already added to the picture which his mind had
He was back in thought now in the small lodging in the rear of St.
Germain l'Auxerrois; Sir Andrew Ffoulkes was there, and my Lord
Tony and Hastings, and a man was striding up and down the room,
looking out into the great space beyond the river with the eyes of
a seer, and a firm voice said abruptly:
"It is about the Dauphin!"
"Have you any suspicions?" asked Chauvelin now, pausing in his
walk beside Heron, and once more placing a firm, peremptory hand
on his colleague's shoulder.
"Suspicions!" exclaimed the chief agent with a loud oath.
"Suspicions! Certainties, you mean. The man sat here but two
days ago, in that very chair, and bragged of what he would do. I
told him then that if he interfered with Capet I would wring his
neck with my own hands."
And his long, talon-like fingers, with their sharp, grimy nails,
closed and unclosed like those of feline creatures when they hold
the coveted prey.
"Of whom do you speak?" queried Chauvelin curtly.
"Of whom? Of whom but that accursed de Batz? His pockets are
bulging with Austrian money, with which, no doubt, he has bribed
the Simons and Cochefer and the sentinels--"
"And Lorinet and Lasniere and you," interposed Chauvelin dryly.
"It is false!" roared Heron, who already at the suggestion was
foaming at the mouth, and had jumped up from his chair, standing
at bay as if prepared to fight for his life.
"False, is it?" retorted Chauvelin calmly; "then be not so quick,
friend Heron, in slashing out with senseless denunciations right
and left. You'll gain nothing by denouncing any one just now.
This is too intricate a matter to be dealt with a sledge-hammer.
Is any one up in the Tower at this moment?" he asked in quiet,
"Yes. Cochefer and the others are still there. They are making
wild schemes to cover their treachery. Cochefer is aware of his
own danger, and Lasniere and the others know that they arrived at
the Tower several hours too late. They are all at fault, and they
know it. As for that de Batz," he continued with a voice rendered
raucous with bitter passion, "I swore to him two days ago that he
should not escape me if he meddled with Capet. I'm on his track
already. I'll have him before the hour of midnight, and I'll
torture him--yes! I'll torture him--the Tribunal shall give me
leave. We have a dark cell down below here where my men know how
to apply tortures worse than the rack--where they know just how to
prolong life long enough to make it unendurable. I'll torture
him! I'll torture him!"
But Chauvelin abruptly silenced the wretch with a curt command;
then, without another word, he walked straight out of the room.
In thought Armand followed him. The wild desire was suddenly born
in him to run away at this moment, while Heron, wrapped in his own
meditations, was paying no heed to him. Chauvelin's footsteps had
long ago died away in the distance; it was a long way to the upper
floor of the Tower, and some time would be spent, too, in
interrogating the commissaries. This was Armand's opportunity.
After all, if he were free himself he might more effectually help
to rescue Jeanne. He knew, too, now where to join his leader.
The corner of the street by the canal, where Sir Andrew Ffoulkes
would be waiting with the coal-cart; then there was the spinney on
the road to St. Germain. Armand hoped that, with good luck, he
might yet overtake his comrades, tell them of Jeanne's plight, and
entreat them to work for her rescue.
He had forgotten that now he had no certificate of safety, that
undoubtedly he would be stopped at the gates at this hour of the
night; that his conduct proving suspect he would in all probability
he detained, and, mayhap, be brought back to this self-same place
within an hour. He had forgotten all that, for the primeval
instinct for freedom had suddenly been aroused. He rose softly
from his chair and crossed the room. Heron paid no attention to
him. Now he had traversed the antechamber and unlatched the outer door.
Immediately a couple of bayonets were crossed in front of him, two
more further on ahead scintillated feebly in the flickering light.
Chauvelin had taken his precautions. There was no doubt that
Armand St. Just was effectually a prisoner now.
With a sigh of disappointment he went back to his place beside the
fire. Heron had not even moved whilst he had made this futile
attempt at escape. Five minutes later Chauvelin re-entered the
THE CERTIFICATE OF SAFETY
"You can leave de Batz and his gang alone, citizen Heron," said
Chauvelin, as soon as he had closed the door behind him; "he had
nothing to do with the escape of the Dauphin."
Heron growled out a few words of incredulity. But Chauvelin
shrugged his shoulders and looked with unutterable contempt on his
colleague. Armand, who was watching him closely, saw that in his
hand he held a small piece of paper, which he had crushed into a
"Do not waste your time, citizen," he said, "in raging against an
empty wind-bag. Arrest de Batz if you like, or leave him alone an
you please--we have nothing to fear from that braggart."
With nervous, slightly shaking fingers he set to work to smooth
out the scrap of paper which he held. His hot hands had soiled it
and pounded it until it was a mere rag and the writing on it
illegible. But, such as it was, he threw it down with a
blasphemous oath on the desk in front of Heron's eyes.
"It is that accursed Englishman who has been at work again," he
said more calmly; "I guessed it the moment I heard your story.
Set your whole army of sleuth-hounds on his track, citizen; you'll
need them all."
Heron picked up the scrap of torn paper and tried to decipher the
writing on it by the light from the lamp. He seemed almost dazed
now with the awful catastrophe that had befallen him, and the fear
that his own wretched life would have to pay the penalty for the
disappearance of the child.
As for Armand--even in the midst of his own troubles, and of his
own anxiety for Jeanne, he felt a proud exultation in his heart.
The Scarlet Pimpernel had succeeded; Percy had not failed in his
self-imposed undertaking. Chauvelin, whose piercing eyes were
fixed on him at that moment, smiled with contemptuous irony.
"As you will find your hands overfull for the next few hours,
citizen Heron," he said, speaking to his colleague and nodding in
the direction of Armand, "I'll not trouble you with the voluntary
confession this young citizen desired to make to you. All I need
tell you is that he is an adherent of the Scarlet Pimpernel--I
believe one of his most faithful, most trusted officers."
Heron roused himself from the maze of gloomy thoughts that were
again paralysing his tongue. He turned bleary, wild eyes on
"We have got one of them, then?" he murmured incoherently,
babbling like a drunken man.
"M'yes!" replied Chauvelin lightly; "but it is too late now for a
formal denunciation and arrest. He cannot leave Paris anyhow, and
all that your men need to do is to keep a close look-out on him.
But I should send him home to-night if I were you."
Heron muttered something more, which, however, Armand did not
understand. Chauvelin's words were still ringing in his ear. Was
he, then, to be set free to-night? Free in a measure, of course,
since spies were to be set to watch him--but free, nevertheless?
He could not understand Chauvelin's attitude, and his own
self-love was not a little wounded at the thought that he was of
such little account that these men could afford to give him even
this provisional freedom. And, of course, there was still Jeanne.
"I must, therefore, bid you good-night, citizen," Chauvelin was
saying in his bland, gently ironical manner. "You will be glad to
return to your lodgings. As you see, the chief agent of the
Committee of General Security is too much occupied just now to
accept the sacrifice of your life which you were prepared so
generously to offer him."
"I do not understand you, citizen," retorted Armand coldly, "nor
do I desire indulgence at your hands. You have arrested an
innocent woman on the trumped-up charge that she was harbouring
me. I came here to-night to give myself up to justice so that she
might be set free."
"But the hour is somewhat late, citizen," rejoined Chauvelin
urbanely. "The lady in whom you take so fervent an interest is no
doubt asleep in her cell at this hour. It would not be fitting to
disturb her now. She might not find shelter before morning, and
the weather is quite exceptionally unpropitious."
"Then, sir," said Armand, a little bewildered, "am I to understand
that if I hold myself at your disposition Mademoiselle Lange will
be set free as early to-morrow morning as may be?"
"No doubt, sir--no doubt," replied Chauvelin with more than his
accustomed blandness; "if you will hold yourself entirely at our
disposition, Mademoiselle Lange will be set free to-morrow. I
think that we can safely promise that, citizen Heron, can we not?"
he added, turning to his colleague.
But Heron, overcome with the stress of emotions, could only murmur
vague, unintelligible words.
"Your word on that, citizen Chauvelin?" asked Armand.
"My word on it an you will accept it."
"No, I will not do that. Give me an unconditional certificate of
safety and I will believe you."
"Of what use were that to you?" asked Chauvelin.
"I believe my capture to be of more importance to you than that of
Mademoiselle Lange," said Armand quietly.
"I will use the certificate of safety for myself or one of my
friends if you break your word to me anent Mademoiselle Lange."
"H'm! the reasoning is not illogical, citizen," said Chauvelin,
whilst a curious smile played round the corners of his thin lips.
"You are quite right. You are a more valuable asset to us than
the charming lady who, I hope, will for many a day and year to
come delight pleasure-loving Paris with her talent and her grace."
"Amen to that, citizen," said Armand fervently.
"Well, it will all depend on you, sir! Here," he added, coolly
running over some papers on Heron's desk until he found what he
wanted, "is an absolutely unconditional certificate of safety.
The Committee of General Security issue very few of these. It is
worth the cost of a human life. At no barrier or gate of any city
can such a certificate be disregarded, nor even can it be
detained. Allow me to hand it to you, citizen, as a pledge of my
own good faith."
Smiling, urbane, with a curious look that almost expressed
amusement lurking in his shrewd, pale eyes, Chauvelin handed the
momentous document to Armand.
The young man studied it very carefully before he slipped it into
the inner pocket of his coat.
"How soon shall I have news of Mademoiselle Lange?" he asked
"In the course of to-morrow. I myself will call on you and redeem
that precious document in person. You, on the other hand, will
hold yourself at my disposition. That's understood, is it not?"
"I shall not fail you. My lodgings are--"
"Oh! do not trouble," interposed Chauvelin, with a polite bow; "we
can find that out for ourselves."
Heron had taken no part in this colloquy. Now that Armand
prepared to go he made no attempt to detain him, or to question
his colleague's actions. He sat by the table like a log; his mind
was obviously a blank to all else save to his own terrors
engendered by the events of this night.
With bleary, half-veiled eyes he followed Armand's progress
through the room, and seemed unaware of the loud slamming of the
outside door. Chauvelin had escorted the young man past the first
line of sentry, then he took cordial leave of him.
"Your certificate will, you will find, open every gate to you.
Good-night, citizen. A demain."
Armand's slim figure disappeared in the gloom. Chauvelin watched
him for a few moments until even his footsteps had died away in
the distance; then he turned back towards Heron's lodgings.
"A nous deux," he muttered between tightly clenched teeth; "a nous
deux once more, my enigmatical Scarlet Pimpernel."
BACK TO PARIS
It was an exceptionally dark night, and the rain was falling in
torrents. Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, wrapped in a piece of sacking, had
taken shelter right underneath the coal-cart; even then he was
getting wet through to the skin.
He had worked hard for two days coal-heaving, and the night before
he had found a cheap, squalid lodging where at any rate he was
protected from the inclemencies of the weather; but to-night he
was expecting Blakeney at the appointed hour and place. He had
secured a cart of the ordinary ramshackle pattern used for
carrying coal. Unfortunately there were no covered ones to be
obtained in the neighbourhood, and equally unfortunately the thaw
had set in with a blustering wind and diving rain, which made
waiting in the open air for hours at a stretch and in complete
darkness excessively unpleasant.
But for all these discomforts Sir Andrew Ffoulkes cared not one
jot. In England, in his magnificent Suffolk home, he was a
confirmed sybarite, in whose service every description of comfort
and luxury had to be enrolled. Here tonight in the rough and
tattered clothes of a coal-heaver, drenched to the skin, and
crouching under the body of a cart that hardly sheltered him from
the rain, he was as happy as a schoolboy out for a holiday.
Happy, but vaguely anxious.
He had no means of ascertaining the time. So many of the
church-bells and clock towers had been silenced recently that not
one of those welcome sounds penetrated to the dreary desolation of
this canal wharf, with its abandoned carts standing ghostlike in a
row. Darkness had set in very early in the afternoon, and the
heavers had given up work soon after four o'clock.
For about an hour after that a certain animation had still reigned
round the wharf, men crossing and going, one or two of the barges
moving in or out alongside the quay. But for some time now
darkness and silence had been the masters in this desolate spot,
and that time had seemed to Sir Andrew an eternity. He had
hobbled and tethered his horse, and stretched himself out at full
length under the cart. Now and again he had crawled out from
under this uncomfortable shelter and walked up and down in
ankle-deep mud, trying to restore circulation in his stiffened
limbs; now and again a kind of torpor had come over him, and he
had fallen into a brief and restless sleep. He would at this
moment have given half his fortune for knowledge of the exact
But through all this weary waiting he was never for a moment in
doubt. Unlike Armand St. Just, he had the simplest, most perfect
faith in his chief. He had been Blakeney's constant companion in
all these adventures for close upon four years now; the thought of
failure, however vague, never once entered his mind.
He was only anxious for his chief's welfare. He knew that he
would succeed, but he would have liked to have spared him much of
the physical fatigue and the nerve-racking strain of these hours
that lay between the daring deed and the hope of safety.
Therefore he was conscious of an acute tingling of his nerves,
which went on even during the brief patches of fitful sleep, and
through the numbness that invaded his whole body while the hours
dragged wearily and slowly along.
Then, quite suddenly, he felt wakeful and alert; quite a
while--even before he heard the welcome signal--he knew, with a
curious, subtle sense of magnetism, that the hour had come, and
that his chief was somewhere near by, not very far.
Then he heard the cry--a seamew's call--repeated thrice at
intervals, and five minutes later something loomed out of the
darkness quite close to the hind wheels of the cart.
"Hist! Ffoulkes!" came in a soft whisper, scarce louder than the
"Present!" came in quick response.
"Here, help me to lift the child into the cart. He is asleep, and
has been a dead weight on my arm for close on an hour now. Have
you a dry bit of sacking or something to lay him on?"
"Not very dry, I am afraid."
With tender care the two men lifted the sleeping little King of
France into the rickety cart. Blakeney laid his cloak over him,
and listened for awhile to the slow regular breathing of the
"St. Just is not here--you know that?" said Sir Andrew after a
"Yes, I knew it," replied Blakeney curtly.
It was characteristic of these two men that not a word about the
adventure itself, about the terrible risks and dangers of the past
few hours, was exchanged between them. The child was here and was
safe, and Blakeney knew the whereabouts of St. Just--that was
enough for Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, the most devoted follower, the
most perfect friend the Scarlet Pimpernel would ever know.
Ffoulkes now went to the horse, detached the nose-bag, and undid
the nooses of the hobble and of the tether.
"Will you get in now, Blakeney?" he said; "we are ready."
And in unbroken silence they both got into the cart; Blakeney
sitting on its floor beside the child, and Ffoulkes gathering the
reins in his hands.
The wheels of the cart and the slow jog-trot of the horse made
scarcely any noise in the mud of the roads, what noise they did
make was effectually drowned by the soughing of the wind in the
bare branches of the stunted acacia trees that edged the towpath
along the line of the canal.
Sir Andrew had studied the topography of this desolate
neighbourhood well during the past twenty-four hours; he knew of a
detour that would enable him to avoid the La Villette gate and the
neighbourhood of the fortifications, and yet bring him out soon on
the road leading to St. Germain.
Once he turned to ask Blakeney the time.
"It must be close on ten now," replied Sir Percy. "Push your nag
along, old man. Tony and Hastings will be waiting for us."
It was very difficult to see clearly even a metre or two ahead,
but the road was a straight one, and the old nag seemed to know it
almost as well and better than her driver. She shambled along at
her own pace, covering the ground very slowly for Ffoulkes's
burning impatience. Once or twice he had to get down and lead her
over a rough piece of ground. They passed several groups of
dismal, squalid houses, in some of which a dim light still burned,
and as they skirted St. Ouen the church clock slowly tolled the
hour of midnight.
But for the greater part of the way derelict, uncultivated spaces
of terrains vagues, and a few isolated houses lay between the road
and the fortifications of the city. The darkness of the night,
the late hour, the soughing of the wind, were all in favour of the
adventurers; and a coal-cart slowly trudging along in this
neighbourhood, with two labourers sitting in it, was the least
likely of any vehicle to attract attention.
Past Clichy, they had to cross the river by the rickety wooden
bridge that was unsafe even in broad daylight. They were not far
from their destination now. Half a dozen kilometres further on
they would be leaving Courbevoie on their left, and then the
sign-post would come in sight. After that the spinney just off
the road, and the welcome presence of Tony, Hastings, and the
horses. Ffoulkes got down in order to make sure of the way. He
walked at the horse's head now, fearful lest he missed the
cross-roads and the sign-post.
The horse was getting over-tired; it had covered fifteen
kilometres, and it was close on three o'clock of Monday morning.
Another hour went by in absolute silence. Ffoulkes and Blakeney
took turns at the horse's head. Then at last they reached the
cross-roads; even through the darkness the sign-post showed white
against the surrounding gloom.
"This looks like it," murmured Sir Andrew. He turned the horse's
head sharply towards the left, down a narrower road, and leaving
the sign-post behind him. He walked slowly along for another
quarter of an hour, then Blakeney called a halt.
"The spinney must be sharp on our right now," he said.
He got down from the cart, and while Ffoulkes remained beside the
horse, he plunged into the gloom. A moment later the cry of the
seamew rang out three times into the air. It was answered almost
The spinney lay on the right of the road. Soon the soft sounds
that to a trained ear invariably betray the presence of a number
of horses reached Ffoulkes' straining senses. He took his old nag
out of the shafts, and the shabby harness from off her, then he
turned her out on the piece of waste land that faced the spinney.
Some one would find her in the morning, her and the cart with the
shabby harness laid in it, and, having wondered if all these
things had perchance dropped down from heaven, would quietly
appropriate them, and mayhap thank much-maligned heaven for its
Blakeney in the meanwhile had lifted the sleeping child out of the
cart. Then he called to Sir Andrew and led the way across the
road and into the spinney.
Five minutes later Hastings received the uncrowned King of France
in his arms.
Unlike Ffoulkes, my Lord Tony wanted to hear all about the
adventure of this afternoon. A thorough sportsman, he loved a
good story of hairbreadth escapes, of dangers cleverly avoided,
risks taken and conquered.
"Just in ten words, Blakeney," he urged entreatingly; "how did you
actually get the boy away?"
Sir Percy laughed--despite himself--at the young man's eagerness.
"Next time we meet, Tony," he begged; "I am so demmed fatigued,
and there's this beastly rain--"
"No, no--now! while Hastings sees to the horses. I could not
exist long without knowing, and we are well sheltered from the
rain under this tree."
"Well, then, since you will have it," he began with a laugh, which
despite the weariness and anxiety of the past twenty-four hours
had forced itself to his lips, "I have been sweeper and
man-of-all-work at the Temple for the past few weeks, you must
"No!" ejaculated my Lord Tony lustily. "By gum!"
"Indeed, you old sybarite, whilst you were enjoying yourself
heaving coal on the canal wharf, I was scrubbing floors, lighting
fires, and doing a number of odd jobs for a lot of demmed
murdering villains, and "--he added under his breath--"
incidentally, too, for our league. Whenever I had an hour or two
off duty I spent them in my lodgings, and asked you all to come
and meet me there."
"By Gad, Blakeney! Then the day before yesterday?--when we all
"I had just had a bath--sorely needed, I can tell you. I had been
cleaning boots half the day, but I had heard that the Simons were
removing from the Temple on the Sunday, and had obtained an order
from them to help them shift their furniture."
"Cleaning boots!" murmured my Lord Tony with a chuckle. "Well!
"Well, then everything worked out splendidly. You see by that
time I was a well-known figure in the Temple. Heron knew me well.
I used to be his lanthorn-bearer when at nights he visited that
poor mite in his prison. It was 'Dupont, here! Dupont there!'
all day long. 'Light the fire in the office, Dupont! Dupont,
brush my coat! Dupont, fetch me a light!' When the Simons wanted
to move their household goods they called loudly for Dupont. I
got a covered laundry cart, and I brought a dummy with me to
substitute for the child. Simon himself knew nothing of this, but
Madame was in my pay. The dummy was just splendid, with real hair
on its head; Madame helped me to substitute it for the child; we
laid it on the sofa and covered it over with a rug, even while
those brutes Heron and Cochefer were on the landing outside, and
we stuffed His Majesty the King of France into a linen basket.
The room was badly lighted, and any one would have been deceived.
No one was suspicious of that type of trickery, so it went off
splendidly. I moved the furniture of the Simons out of the Tower.
His Majesty King Louis XVII was still concealed in the linen
basket. I drove the Simons to their new lodgings--the man still
suspects nothing--and there I helped them to unload the
furniture--with the exception of the linen basket, of course.
After that I drove my laundry cart to a house I knew of and
collected a number of linen baskets, which I had arranged should
be in readiness for me. Thus loaded up I left Paris by the
Vincennes gate, and drove as far as Bagnolet, where there is no
road except past the octroi, where the officials might have proved
unpleasant. So I lifted His Majesty out of the basket and we
walked on hand in hand in the darkness and the rain until the poor
little feet gave out. Then the little fellow--who has been
wonderfully plucky throughout, indeed, more a Capet than a
Bourbon--snuggled up in my arms and went fast asleep,
and--and--well, I think that's all, for here we are, you see."
"But if Madame Simon had not been amenable to bribery?" suggested
Lord Tony after a moment's silence.
"Then I should have had to think of something else."
"If during the removal of the furniture Heron had remained
resolutely in the room?"
"Then, again, I should have had to think of something else; but
remember that in life there is always one supreme moment when
Chance--who is credited to have but one hair on her head--stands
by you for a brief space of time; sometimes that space is
infinitesimal--one minute, a few seconds--just the time to seize
Chance by that one hair. So I pray you all give me no credit in
this or any other matter in which we all work together, but the
quickness of seizing Chance by the hair during the brief moment
when she stands by my side. If Madame Simon had been un-amenable,
if Heron had remained in the room all the time, if Cochefer had
had two looks at the dummy instead of one--well, then, something
else would have helped me, something would have occurred;
something--I know not what--but surely something which Chance
meant to be on our side, if only we were quick enough to seize
it--and so you see how simple it all is."
So simple, in fact, that it was sublime. The daring, the pluck,
the ingenuity and, above all, the super-human heroism and
endurance which rendered the hearers of this simple narrative,
simply told, dumb with admiration.
Their thoughts now were beyond verbal expression.
"How soon was the hue and cry for the child about the streets?"
asked Tony, after a moment's silence.
"It was not out when I left the gates of Paris," said Blakeney
meditatively; "so quietly has the news of the escape been kept,
that I am wondering what devilry that brute Heron can be after.
And now no more chattering," he continued lightly; "all to horse,
and you, Hastings, have a care. The destinies of France, mayhap,
will be lying asleep in your arms."
"But you, Blakeney?" exclaimed the three men almost
"I am not going with you. I entrust the child to you. For God's
sake guard him well! Ride with him to Mantes. You should arrive
there at about ten o'clock. One of you then go straight to No.9
Rue la Tour. Ring the bell; an old man will answer it. Say the
one word to him, 'Enfant'; he will reply, 'De roi!' Give him the
child, and may Heaven bless you all for the help you have given me
"But you, Blakeney?" reiterated Tony with a note of deep anxiety
in his fresh young voice.
"I am straight for Paris," he said quietly.
"But why? Percy, in the name of Heaven, do you realise what you
"They'll not leave a stone unturned to find you--they know by now,
believe me, that your hand did this trick."
"I know that."
"And yet you mean to go back?"
"And yet I am going back."
"It's no use, Tony. Armand is in Paris. I saw him in the
corridor of the Temple prison in the company of Chauvelin."
"Great God!" exclaimed Lord Hastings.
The others were silent. What was the use of arguing? One of
themselves was in danger. Armand St. Just, the brother of
Marguerite Blakeney! Was it likely that Percy would leave him in
"One of us will stay with you, of course?" asked Sir Andrew after
"Yes! I want Hastings and Tony to take the child to Mantes, then
to make all possible haste for Calais, and there to keep in close
touch with the Day-Dream; the skipper will contrive to open
communication. Tell him to remain in Calais waters. I hope I may
have need of him soon.
"And now to horse, both of you," he added gaily. "Hastings, when
you are ready, I will hand up the child to you. He will be quite
safe on the pillion with a strap round him and you."
Nothing more was said after that. The orders were given, there
was nothing to do but to obey; and the uncrowned King of France
was not yet out of danger. Hastings and Tony led two of the
horses out of the spinney; at the roadside they mounted, and then
the little lad for whose sake so much heroism, such selfless
devotion had been expended, was hoisted up, still half asleep, on
the pillion in front of my Lord Hastings.
"Keep your arm round him," admonished Blakeney; "your horse looks
quiet enough. But put on speed as far as Mantes, and may Heaven
guard you both!"
The two men pressed their heels to their horses' flanks, the
beasts snorted and pawed the ground anxious to start. There were a
few whispered farewells, two loyal hands were stretched out at the
last, eager to grasp the leader's hand.
Then horses and riders disappeared in the utter darkness which
comes before the dawn.
Blakeney and Ffoulkes stood side by side in silence for as long as
the pawing of hoofs in the mud could reach their ears, then
Ffoulkes asked abruptly:
"What do you want me to do, Blakeney?"
"Well, for the present, my dear fellow, I want you to take one of
the three horses we have left in the spinney, and put him into the
shafts of our old friend the coal-cart; then I am afraid that you
must go back the way we came."
"Continue to heave coal on the canal wharf by La Villette; it is
the best way to avoid attention. After your day's work keep your
cart and horse in readiness against my arrival, at the same spot
where you were last night. If after having waited for me like
this for three consecutive nights you neither see nor hear
anything from me, go back to England and tell Marguerite that in
giving my life for her brother I gave it for her!"
"I spoke differently to what I usually do, is that it?" he
interposed, placing his firm hand on his friend's shoulder. "I am
degenerating, Ffoulkes--that's what it is. Pay no heed to it. I
suppose that carrying that sleeping child in my arms last night
softened some nerves in my body. I was so infinitely sorry for
the poor mite, and vaguely wondered if I had not saved it from one
misery only to plunge it in another. There was such a fateful
look on that wan little face, as if destiny had already writ its
veto there against happiness. It came on me then how futile were
our actions, if God chooses to interpose His will between us and
Almost as he left off speaking the rain ceased to patter down
against the puddles in the road. Overhead the clouds flew by at
terrific speed, driven along by the blustering wind. It was less
dark now, and Sir Andrew, peering through the gloom, could see his
leader's face. It was singularly pale and hard, and the deep-set
lazy eyes had in them just that fateful look which he himself had
spoken of just now.
"You are anxious about Armand, Percy?" asked Ffoulkes softly.
"Yes. He should have trusted me, as I had trusted him. He missed
me at the Villette gate on Friday, and without a thought left
me--left us all in the lurch; he threw himself into the lion's
jaws, thinking that he could help the girl he loved. I knew that
I could save her. She is in comparative safety even now. The old
woman, Madame Belhomme, had been freely released the day after her
arrest, but Jeanne Lange is still in the house in the Rue de
Charonne. You know it, Ffoulkes. I got her there early this
morning. It was easy for me, of course: 'Hola, Dupont! my boots,
Dupont!' 'One moment, citizen, my daughter--' 'Curse thy
daughter, bring me my boots!' and Jeanne Lange walked out of the
Temple prison her hand in that of that lout Dupont."
"But Armand does not know that she is in the Rue de Charonne?"
"No. I have not seen him since that early morning on Saturday
when he came to tell me that she had been arrested. Having sworn
that he would obey me, he went to meet you and Tony at La
Villette, but returned to Paris a few hours later, and drew the
undivided attention of all the committees on Jeanne Lange by his
senseless, foolish inquiries. But for his action throughout the
whole of yesterday I could have smuggled Jeanne out of Paris, got
her to join you at Villette, or Hastings in St. Germain. But the
barriers were being closely watched for her, and I had the Dauphin
to think of. She is in comparative safety; the people in the Rue
de Charonne are friendly for the moment; but for how long? Who
knows? I must look after her of course. And Armand! Poor old
Armand! The lion's jaws have snapped over him, and they hold him
tight. Chauvelin and his gang are using him as a decoy to trap me,
of course. All that had not happened if Armand had trusted me."
He sighed a quick sigh of impatience, almost of regret. Ffoulkes
was the one man who could guess the bitter disappointment that
this had meant. Percy had longed to be back in England soon, back
to Marguerite, to a few days of unalloyed happiness and a few days
Now Armand's actions had retarded all that; they were a deliberate
bar to the future as it had been mapped out by a man who foresaw
everything, who was prepared for every eventuality.
In this case, too, he had been prepared, but not for the want of
trust which had brought on disobedience akin to disloyalty. That
absolutely unforeseen eventuality had changed Blakeney's usual
irresponsible gaiety into a consciousness of the inevitable, of
the inexorable decrees of Fate.
With an anxious sigh, Sir Andrew turned away from his chief and
went hack to the spinney to select for his own purpose one of the
three horses which Hastings and Tony had unavoidably left behind.
"And you, Blakeney--how will you go back to that awful Paris?" he
said, when he had made his choice and was once more back beside
"I don't know yet," replied Blakeney, "but it would not be safe to
ride. I'll reach one of the gates on this side of the city and
contrive to slip in somehow. I have a certificate of safety in my
pocket in case I need it.
"We'll leave the horses here," he said presently, whilst he was
helping Sir Andrew to put the horse in the shafts of the
coal-cart; "they cannot come to much harm. Some poor devil might
steal them, in order to escape from those vile brutes in the city.
If so, God speed him, say I. I'll compensate my friend the farmer
of St. Germain for their loss at an early opportunity. And now,
good-bye, my dear fellow! Some time to-night, if possible, you
shall hear direct news of me--if not, then to-morrow or the day
after that. Good-bye, and Heaven guard you!"
"God guard you, Blakeney!" said Sir Andrew fervently.
He jumped into the cart and gathered up the reins. His heart was
heavy as lead, and a strange mist had gathered in his eyes,
blurring the last dim vision which he had of his chief standing
all alone in the gloom, his broad, magnificent figure looking
almost weirdly erect and defiant, his head thrown back, and his
kind, lazy eyes watching the final departure of his most faithful
comrade and friend.
OF THAT THERE COULD BE NO QUESTION
Blakeney had more than one pied-a-terre in Paris, and never stayed
longer than two or three days in any of these. It was not
difficult for a single man, be he labourer or bourgeois, to obtain
a night's lodging, even in these most troublous times, and in any
quarter of Paris, provided the rent--out of all proportion to the
comfort and accommodation given--was paid ungrudgingly and in
Emigration and, above all, the enormous death-roll of the past
eighteen months, had emptied the apartment houses of the great
city, and those who had rooms to let were only too glad of a
lodger, always providing they were not in danger of being worried
by the committees of their section.
The laws framed by these same committees now demanded that all
keepers of lodging or apartment houses should within twenty-four
hours give notice at the bureau of their individual sections of
the advent of new lodgers, together with a description of the
personal appearance of such lodgers, and an indication of their
presumed civil status and occupation. But there was a margin of
twenty-four hours, which could on pressure be extended to
forty-eight, and, therefore, any one could obtain shelter for
forty-eight hours, and have no questions asked, provided he or she
was willing to pay the exorbitant sum usually asked under the
Thus Blakeney had no difficulty in securing what lodgings he
wanted when he once more found himself inside Paris at somewhere
about noon of that same Monday.
The thought of Hastings and Tony speeding on towards Mantes with
the royal child safely held in Hastings' arms had kept his spirits
buoyant and caused him for a while to forget the terrible peril in
which Armand St. Just's thoughtless egoism had placed them both.
Blakeney was a man of abnormal physique and iron nerve, else he
could never have endured the fatigues of the past twenty-four
hours, from the moment when on the Sunday afternoon he began to
play his part of furniture-remover at the Temple, to that when at
last on Monday at noon he succeeded in persuading the sergeant at
the Maillot gate that he was an honest stonemason residing at
Neuilly, who was come to Paris in search of work.
After that matters became more simple. Terribly foot-sore, though
he would never have admitted it, hungry and weary, he turned into
an unpretentious eating-house and ordered some dinner. The place
when he entered was occupied mostly by labourers and workmen,
dressed very much as he was himself, and quite as grimy as he had
become after having driven about for hours in a laundry-cart and
in a coal-cart, and having walked twelve kilometres, some of which
he had covered whilst carrying a sleeping child in his arms.
Thus, Sir Percy Blakeney, Bart., the friend and companion of the
Prince of Wales, the most fastidious fop the salons of London and
Bath had ever seen, was in no way distinguishable outwardly from
the tattered, half-starved, dirty, and out-at-elbows products of
this fraternising and equalising Republic.
He was so hungry that the ill-cooked, badly-served meal tempted
him to eat; and he ate on in silence, seemingly more interested in
boiled beef than in the conversation that went on around him. But
he would not have been the keen and daring adventurer that he was
if he did not all the while keep his ears open for any fragment of
news that the desultory talk of his fellow-diners was likely to
yield to him.
Politics were, of course, discussed; the tyranny of the sections,
the slavery that this free Republic had brought on its citizens.
The names of the chief personages of the day were all mentioned in
turns Focquier-Tinville, Santerre, Danton, Robespierre. Heron and
his sleuth-hounds were spoken of with execrations quickly
suppressed, but of little Capet not one word.
Blakeney could not help but infer that Chauvelin, Heron and the
commissaries in charge were keeping the escape of the child a
secret for as long as they could.
He could hear nothing of Armand's fate, of course. The arrest--if
arrest there had been--was not like to be bruited abroad just now.
Blakeney having last seen Armand in Chauvelin's company, whilst he
himself was moving the Simons' furniture, could not for a moment
doubt that the young man was imprisoned,--unless, indeed, he was
being allowed a certain measure of freedom, whilst his every step
was being spied on, so that he might act as a decoy for his chief.
At thought of that all weariness seemed to vanish from Blakeney's
powerful frame. He set his lips firmly together, and once again
the light of irresponsible gaiety danced in his eyes.
He had been in as tight a corner as this before now; at Boulogne
his beautiful Marguerite had been used as a decoy, and twenty-four
hours later he had held her in his arms on board his yacht the
Day-Dream. As he would have put it in his own forcible
"Those d--d murderers have not got me yet."
The battle mayhap would this time be against greater odds than
before, but Blakeney had no fear that they would prove
There was in life but one odd that was overwhelming, and that was
But of that there could be no question.
In the afternoon Blakeney started off in search of lodgings for
the night. He found what would suit him in the Rue de l'Arcade,
which was equally far from the House of Justice as it was from his
former lodgings. Here he would be safe for at least twenty-four
hours, after which he might have to shift again. But for the
moment the landlord of the miserable apartment was over-willing to
make no fuss and ask no questions, for the sake of the money which
this aristo in disguise dispensed with a lavish hand.
Having taken possession of his new quarters and snatched a few
hours of sound, well-deserved rest, until the time when the shades
of evening and the darkness of the streets would make progress
through the city somewhat more safe, Blakeney sallied forth at
about six o'clock having a threefold object in view.
Primarily, of course, the threefold object was concentrated on
Armand. There was the possibility of finding out at the young
man's lodgings in Montmartre what had become of him; then there
were the usual inquiries that could be made from the registers of
the various prisons; and, thirdly, there was the chance that
Armand had succeeded in sending some kind of message to Blakeney's
former lodgings in the Rue St. Germain l'Auxerrois.
On the whole, Sir Percy decided to leave the prison registers
alone for the present. If Armand had been actually arrested, he
would almost certainly be confined in the Chatelet prison, where
he would be closer to hand for all the interrogatories to which,
no doubt, he would be subjected.
Blakeney set his teeth and murmured a good, sound, British oath
when he thought of those interrogatories. Armand St. Just, highly
strung, a dreamer and a bundle of nerves--how he would suffer
under the mental rack of questions and cross-questions,
cleverly-laid traps to catch information from him unawares!
His next objective, then, was Armand's former lodging, and from
six o'clock until close upon eight Sir Percy haunted the slopes of
Montmartre, and more especially the neighbourhood of the Rue de la
Croix Blanche, where Armand had lodged these former days. At the
house itself he could not inquire as yet; obviously it would not
have been safe; tomorrow, perhaps, when he knew more, but not
tonight. His keen eyes had already spied at least two figures
clothed in the rags of out-of-work labourers like himself, who had
hung with suspicious persistence in this same neighbourhood, and
who during the two hours that he had been in observation had never
strayed out of sight of the house in the Rue de la Croix Blanche.
That these were two spies on the watch was, of course, obvious;
but whether they were on the watch for St. Just or for some other
unfortunate wretch it was at this stage impossible to conjecture.
Then, as from the Tour des Dames close by the clock solemnly
struck the hour of eight, and Blakeney prepared to wend his way
back to another part of the city, he suddenly saw Armand walking
slowly up the street.
The young man did not look either to right or left; he held his
head forward on his chest, and his hands were hidden underneath
his cloak. When he passed immediately under one of the street
lamps Blakeney caught sight of his face; it was pale and drawn.
Then he turned his head, and for the space of two seconds his eyes
across the narrow street encountered those of his chief. He had
the presence of mind not to make a sign or to utter a sound; he
was obviously being followed, but in that brief moment Sir Percy
had seen in the young man's eyes a look that reminded him of a
"What have those brutes been up to with him, I wonder?" he
muttered between clenched teeth.
Armand soon disappeared under the doorway of the same house where
he had been lodging all along. Even as he did so Blakeney saw the
two spies gather together like a pair of slimy lizards, and
whisper excitedly one to another. A third man, who obviously had
been dogging Armand's footsteps, came up and joined them after a
Blakeney could have sworn loudly and lustily, had it been possible
to do so without attracting attention. The whole of Armand's
history in the past twenty-four hours was perfectly clear to him.
The young man had been made free that he might prove a decoy for
more important game.
His every step was being watched, and he still thought Jeanne
Lange in immediate danger of death. The look of despair in his
face proclaimed these two facts, and Blakeney's heart ached for
the mental torture which his friend was enduring. He longed to
let Armand know that the woman he loved was in comparative safety.
Jeanne Lange first, and then Armand himself; and the odds would be
very heavy against the Scarlet Pimpernel! But that Marguerite
should not have to mourn an only brother, of that Sir Percy made
He now turned his steps towards his own former lodgings by St.
Germain l'Auxerrois. It was just possible that Armand had
succeeded in leaving a message there for him. It was, of course,
equally possible that when he did so Heron's men had watched his
movements, and that spies would be stationed there, too, on the
But that risk must, of course, be run. Blakeney's former lodging
was the one place that Armand would know of to which he could send
a message to his chief, if he wanted to do so. Of course, the
unfortunate young man could not have known until just now that
Percy would come back to Paris, but he might guess it, or wish it,
or only vaguely hope for it; he might want to send a message, he
might long to communicate with his brother-in-law, and, perhaps,
feel sure that the latter would not leave him in the lurch.
With that thought in his mind, Sir Percy was not likely to give up
the attempt to ascertain for himself whether Armand had tried to
communicate with him or not. As for spies--well, he had dodged
some of them often enough in his time--the risks that he ran
to-night were no worse than the ones to which he had so
successfully run counter in the Temple yesterday.
Still keeping up the slouchy gait peculiar to the out-at-elbows
working man of the day, hugging the houses as he walked along the
streets, Blakeney made slow progress across the city. But at last
he reached the facade of St. Germain l'Auxerrois, and turning
sharply to his right he soon came in sight of the house which he
had only quitted twenty-four hours ago.
We all know that house--all of us who are familiar with the Paris
of those terrible days. It stands quite detached--a vast
quadrangle, facing the Quai de l'Ecole and the river, backing on
the Rue St. Germain l'Auxerrois, and shouldering the Carrefour des
Trois Manes. The porte-cochere, so-called, is but a narrow
doorway, and is actually situated in the Rue St. Germain l'Auxerrois.
Blakeney made his way cautiously right round the house; he peered
up and down the quay, and his keen eyes tried to pierce the dense
gloom that hung at the corners of the Pont Neuf immediately
Opposite. Soon he assured himself that for the present, at any
rate, the house was not being watched.
Armand presumably had not yet left a message for him here; but he
might do so at any time now that he knew that his chief was in
Paris and on the look-out for him.
Blakeney made up his mind to keep this house in sight. This art of
watching he had acquired to a masterly extent, and could have
taught Heron's watch-dogs a remarkable lesson in it. At night, of
course, it was a comparatively easy task. There were a good many
unlighted doorways along the quay, whilst a street lamp was fixed
on a bracket in the wall of the very house which he kept in
Finding temporary shelter under various doorways, or against the
dank walls of the houses, Blakeney set himself resolutely to a few
hours' weary waiting. A thin, drizzly rain fell with unpleasant
persistence, like a damp mist, and the thin blouse which he wore
soon became wet through and clung hard and chilly to his
It was close on midnight when at last he thought it best to give
up his watch and to go back to his lodgings for a few hours'
sleep; but at seven o'clock the next morning he was back again at
The porte-cochere of his former lodging-house was not yet open; he
took up his stand close beside it. His woollen cap pulled well
over his forehead, the grime cleverly plastered on his hair and
face, his lower jaw thrust forward, his eyes looking lifeless and
bleary, all gave him an expression of sly villainy, whilst the
short clay pipe struck at a sharp angle in his mouth, his hands
thrust into the pockets of his ragged breeches, and his bare feet
in the mud of the road, gave the final touch to his representation
of an out-of-work, ill-conditioned, and supremely discontented
He had not very long to wait. Soon the porte-cochere of the house
was opened, and the concierge came out with his broom, making a
show of cleaning the pavement in front of the door. Five minutes
later a lad, whose clothes consisted entirely of rags, and whose
feet and head were bare, came rapidly up the street from the quay,
and walked along looking at the houses as he went, as if trying to
decipher their number. The cold grey dawn was just breaking,
dreary and damp, as all the past days had been. Blakeney watched
the lad as he approached, the small, naked feet falling
noiselessly on the cobblestones of the road. When the boy was
quite close to him and to the house, Blakeney shifted his position
and took the pipe out of his mouth.
"Up early, my son!" he said gruffly.
"Yes," said the pale-faced little creature; "I have a message to
deliver at No. 9 Rue St. Germain l'Auxerrois. It must be
somewhere near here."
"It is. You can give me the message."
"Oh, no, citizen!" said the lad, into whose pale, circled eyes a
look of terror had quickly appeared. "It is for one of the
lodgers in No. 9. I must give it to him."
With an instinct which he somehow felt could not err at this
moment, Blakeney knew that the message was one from Armand to
himself; a written message, too, since--instinctively when he
spoke--the boy clutched at his thin shirt, as if trying to guard
something precious that had been entrusted to him.
"I will deliver the message myself, sonny," said Blakeney gruffly.
"I know the citizen for whom it is intended. He would not like
the concierge to see it."
"Oh! I would not give it to the concierge," said the boy. "I
would take it upstairs myself."
"My son," retorted Blakeney, "let me tell you this. You are going
to give that message up to me and I will put five whole livres
into your hand."
Blakeney, with all his sympathy aroused for this poor pale-faced
lad, put on the airs of a ruffianly bully. He did not wish that
message to be taken indoors by the lad, for the concierge might
get hold of it, despite the boy's protests and tears, and after
that Blakeney would perforce have to disclose himself before it
would be given up to him. During the past week the concierge had
been very amenable to bribery. Whatever suspicions he had had
about his lodger he had kept to himself for the sake of the money
which he received; but it was impossible to gauge any man's trend
of thought these days from one hour to the next. Something--for
aught Blakeney knew--might have occurred in the past twenty-four
hours to change an amiable and accommodating lodging-house keeper
into a surly or dangerous spy.
Fortunately, the concierge had once more gone within; there was no
one abroad, and if there were, no one probably would take any
notice of a burly ruffian brow-beating a child.
"Allons!" he said gruffly, "give me the letter, or that five
livres goes back into my pocket."
"Five livres!" exclaimed the child with pathetic eagerness. "Oh,
The thin little hand fumbled under the rags, but it reappeared
again empty, whilst a faint blush spread over the hollow cheeks.
"The other citizen also gave me five livres," he said humbly. "He
lodges in the house where my mother is concierge. It is in the
Rue de la Croix Blanche. He has been very kind to my mother. I
would rather do as he bade me."
"Bless the lad," murmured Blakeney under his breath; "his loyalty
redeems many a crime of this God-forsaken city. Now I suppose I
shall have to bully him, after all."
He took his hand out of his breeches pocket; between two very
dirty fingers he held a piece of gold. The other hand he placed
quite roughly on the lad's chest.
"Give me the letter," he said harshly, "or--"
He pulled at the ragged blouse, and a scrap of soiled paper soon
fell into his hand. The lad began to cry.
"Here," said Blakeney, thrusting the piece of gold into the thin
small palm, "take this home to your mother, and tell your lodger
that a big, rough man took the letter away from you by force. Now
run, before I kick you out of the way."
The lad, terrified out of his poor wits, did not wait for further
commands; he took to his heels and ran, his small hand clutching
the piece of gold. Soon he had disappeared round the corner of
Blakeney did not at once read the paper; he thrust it quickly into
his breeches pocket and slouched away slowly down the street, and
thence across the Place du Carrousel, in the direction of his new
lodgings in the Rue de l'Arcade.
It was only when he found himself alone in the narrow, squalid
room which he was occupying that he took the scrap of paper from
his pocket and read it slowly through. It said:
Percy, you cannot forgive me, nor can I ever forgive myself, but
if you only knew what I have suffered for the past two days you
would, I think, try and forgive. I am free and yet a prisoner; my
every footstep is dogged. What they ultimately mean to do with me
I do not know. And when I think of Jeanne I long for the power to
end mine own miserable existence. Percy! she is still in the
hands of those fiends.... I saw the prison register; her name
written there has been like a burning brand on my heart ever
since. She was still in prison the day that you left Paris;
to-morrow, to-night mayhap, they will try her, condemn her,
torture her, and I dare not go to see you, for I would only be
bringing spies to your door. But will you come to me, Percy? It
should be safe in the hours of the night, and the concierge is
devoted to me. To-night at ten o'clock she will leave the
porte-cochere unlatched. If you find it so, and if on the ledge of
the window immediately on your left as you enter you find a candle
alight, and beside it a scrap of paper with your initials S. P.
traced on it, then it will be quite safe for you to come up to my
room. It is on the second landing--a door on your right--that too
I will leave on the latch. But in the name of the woman you love
best in all the world come at once to me then, and hear in mind,
Percy, that the woman I love is threatened with immediate death,
and that I am powerless to save her. Indeed, believe me, I would
gladly die even now hut for the thought of Jeanne, whom I should
be leaving in the hands of those fiends. For God's sake, Percy,
remember that Jeanne is all the world to me.
"Poor old Armand," murmured Blakeney with a kindly smile directed
at the absent friend, "he won't trust me even now. He won't trust
his Jeanne in my hands. Well," he added after a while, "after all,
I would not entrust Marguerite to anybody else either."
THE OVERWHELMING ODDS
At half-past ten that same evening, Blakeney, still clad in a
workman's tattered clothes, his feet Bare so that he could tread
the streets unheard, turned into the Rue de la Croix Blanche.
The porte-cochere of the house where Armand lodged had been left
on the latch; not a soul was in sight. Peering cautiously round,
he slipped into the house. On the ledge of the window,
immediately on his left when he entered, a candle was left
burning, and beside it there was a scrap of paper with the
initials S. P. roughly traced in pencil. No one challenged him as
he noiselessly glided past it, and up the narrow stairs that led
to the upper floor. Here, too, on the second landing the door on
the right had been left on the latch. He pushed it open and
As is usual even in the meanest lodgings in Paris houses, a small
antechamber gave between the front door and the main room. When
Percy entered the antechamber was unlighted, but the door into the
inner room beyond was ajar. Blakeney approached it with noiseless
tread, and gently pushed it open.
That very instant he knew that the game was up; he heard the
footsteps closing up behind him, saw Armand, deathly pale, leaning
against the wall in the room in front of him, and Chauvelin and
Heron standing guard over him.
The next moment the room and the antechamber were literally alive
with soldiers--twenty of them to arrest one man.
It was characteristic of that man that when hands were laid on him
from every side he threw back his head and laughed--laughed
mirthfully, light-heartedly, and the first words that escaped his
"Well, I am d--d!"
"The odds are against you, Sir Percy," said Chauvelin to him in
English, whilst Heron at the further end of the room was growling
like a contented beast.
"By the Lord, sir," said Percy with perfect sang-froid, "I do
believe that for the moment they are."
"Have done, my men--have done!" he added, turning good-humouredly
to the soldiers round him. "I never fight against overwhelming
odds. Twenty to one, eh? I could lay four of you out easily
enough, perhaps even six, but what then?"
But a kind of savage lust seemed to have rendered these men
temporarily mad, and they were being egged on by Heron. The
mysterious Englishman, about whom so many eerie tales were told!
Well, he had supernatural powers, and twenty to one might be
nothing to him if the devil was on his side. Therefore a blow on
his forearm with the butt-end of a bayonet was useful for
disabling his right hand, and soon the left arm with a dislocated
shoulder hung limp by his side. Then he was bound with cords.
The vein of luck had given out. The gambler had staked more than
usual and had lost; but he knew how to lose, just as he had always
known how to win.
"Those d--d brutes are trussing me like a fowl," he murmured with
irrepressible gaiety at the last.
Then the wrench on his bruised arms as they were pulled roughly
back by the cords caused the veil of unconsciousness to gather
over his eyes.
"And Jeanne was safe, Armand," he shouted with a last desperate
effort; "those devils have lied to you and tricked you into this
... Since yesterday she is out of prison ... in the house ... you
After that he lost consciousness.
And this occurred on Tuesday, January 21st, in the year 1794, or,
in accordance with the new calendar, on the 2nd Pluviose, year II
of the Republic.
It is chronicled in the Moniteur of the 3rd Pluviose that, "on
the previous evening, at half-past ten of the clock, the
Englishman known as the Scarlet Pimpernel, who for three years has
conspired against the safety of the Republic, was arrested through
the patriotic exertions of citizen Chauvelin, and conveyed to the
Conciergerie, where he now lies--sick, but closely guarded. Long
live the Republic!"
The grey January day was falling, drowsy, and dull into the arms
Marguerite, sitting in the dusk beside the fire in her small
boudoir, shivered a little as she drew her scarf closer round her
Edwards, the butler, entered with the lamp. The room looked
peculiarly cheery now, with the delicate white panelling of the
wall glowing tinder the soft kiss of the flickering firelight and
the steadier glow of the rose-shaded lamp.
"Has the courier not arrived yet, Edwards?" asked Marguerite,
fixing the impassive face of the well-drilled servant with her
large purple-rimmed eyes.
"Not yet, m'lady," he replied placidly.
"It is his day, is it not?"
"Yes, m'lady. And the forenoon is his time. But there have been
heavy rains, and the roads must be rare muddy. He must have been
"Yes, I suppose so," she said listlessly. "That will do, Edwards.
No, don't close the shutters. I'll ring presently."
The man went out of the room as automatically as he had come. He
closed the door behind him, and Marguerite was once more alone.
She picked up the book which she had fingered idly before the
light gave out. She tried once more to fix her attention on this
tale of love and adventure written by Mr. Fielding; but she had
lost the thread of the story, and there was a mist between her
eyes and the printed pages.
With an impatient gesture she threw down the book and passed her
hand across her eyes, then seemed astonished to find that her hand
She rose and went to the window. The air outside had been
singularly mild all day; the thaw was persisting, and a south wind
came across the Channel--from France.
Marguerite threw open the casement and sat down on the wide sill,
leaning her head against the window-frame, and gazing out into the
fast gathering gloom. From far away, at the foot of the gently
sloping lawns, the river murmured softly in the night; in the
borders to the right and left a few snowdrops still showed like
tiny white specks through the surrounding darkness. Winter had
begun the process of slowly shedding its mantle, coquetting with
Spring, who still lingered in the land of Infinity. Gradually the
shadows drew closer and closer; the reeds and rushes on the river
bank were the first to sink into their embrace, then the big
cedars on the lawn, majestic and defiant, but yielding still
unconquered to the power of night.
The tiny stars of snowdrop blossoms vanished one by one, and at
last the cool, grey ribbon of the river surface was wrapped under
the mantle of evening.
Only the south wind lingered on, soughing gently in the drowsy
reeds, whispering among the branches of the cedars, and gently
stirring the tender corollas of the sleeping snowdrops.
Marguerite seemed to open out her lungs to its breath. It had come
all the way from France, and on its wings had brought something of
Percy--a murmur as if he had spoken--a memory that was as
intangible as a dream.
She shivered again, though of a truth it was not cold. The
courier's delay had completely unsettled her nerves. Twice a week
he came especially from Dover, and always he brought some message,
some token which Percy had contrived to send from Paris. They
were like tiny scraps of dry bread thrown to a starving woman, but
they did just help to keep her heart alive--that poor, aching,
disappointed heart that so longed for enduring happiness which it
could never get.
The man whom she loved with all her soul, her mind and her body,
did not belong to her; he belonged to suffering humanity over
there in terror-stricken France, where the cries of the innocent,
the persecuted, the wretched called louder to him than she in her
love could do.
He had been away three months now, during which time her starving
heart had fed on its memories, and the happiness of a brief visit
from him six weeks ago, when--quite unexpectedly--he had appeared
before her ... home between two desperate adventures that had
given life and freedom to a number of innocent people, and nearly
cost him his--and she had lain in his arms in a swoon of perfect
But be had gone away again as suddenly as he had come, and for six
weeks now she had lived partly in anticipation of the courier with
messages from him, and partly on the fitful joy engendered by
these messages. To-day she had not even that, and the disappointment
seemed just now more than she could bear.
She felt unaccountably restless, and could she but have analysed
her feelings--had she dared so to do--she would have realised that
the weight which oppressed her heart so that she could hardly
breathe, was one of vague yet dark foreboding.
She closed the window and returned to her seat by the fire, taking
up her hook with the strong resolution not to allow her nerves to
get the better of her. But it was difficult to pin one's
attention down to the adventures of Master Tom Jones when one's
mind was fully engrossed with those of Sir Percy Blakeney.
The sound of carriage wheels on the gravelled forecourt in the
front of the house suddenly awakened her drowsy senses. She threw
down the book, and with trembling hands clutched the arms of her
chair, straining her ears to listen. A carriage at this hour--and
on this damp winter's evening! She racked her mind wondering who
it could be.
Lady Ffoulkes was in London, she knew. Sir Andrew, of course, was
in Paris. His Royal Highness, ever a faithful visitor, would
surely not venture out to Richmond in this inclement weather--and
the courier always came on horseback.
There was a murmur of voices; that of Edwards, mechanical and
placid, could be heard quite distinctly saying:
"I'm sure that her ladyship will be at home for you, m'lady. But
I'll go and ascertain."
Marguerite ran to the door and with joyful eagerness tore it open.
"Suzanne!" she called "my little Suzanne! I thought you were in
London. Come up quickly! In the boudoir--yes. Oh! what good
fortune hath brought you?"
Suzanne flew into her arms, holding the friend whom she loved so
well close and closer to her heart, trying to hide her face, which
was wet with tears, in the folds of Marguerite's kerchief.
"Come inside, my darling," said Marguerite. "Why, how cold your
little hands are!"
She was on the point of turning back to her boudoir, drawing Lady
Ffoulkes by the hand, when suddenly she caught sight of Sir Andrew,
who stood at a little distance from her, at the top of the stairs.
"Sir Andrew!" she exclaimed with unstinted gladness.
Then she paused. The cry of welcome died on her lips, leaving
them dry and parted. She suddenly felt as if some fearful talons
had gripped her heart and were tearing at it with sharp, long
nails; the blood flew from her cheeks and from her limbs, leaving
her with a sense of icy numbness.
She backed into the room, still holding Suzanne's hand, and
drawing her in with her. Sir Andrew followed them, then closed
the door behind him. At last the word escaped Marguerite's
"Percy! Something has happened to him! He is dead?"
"No, no!" exclaimed Sir Andrew quickly.
Suzanne put her loving arms round her friend and drew her down
into the chair by the fire. She knelt at her feet on the
hearthrug, and pressed her own burning lips on Marguerite's
icy-cold hands. Sir Andrew stood silently by, a world of loving
friendship, of heart-broken sorrow, in his eyes.
There was silence in the pretty white-panelled room for a while.
Marguerite sat with her eyes closed, bringing the whole armoury of
her will power to bear her up outwardly now.
"Tell me!" she said at last, and her voice was toneless and dull,
like one that came from the depths of a grave--"tell me--exactly--
everything. Don't be afraid. I can bear it. Don't be afraid."
Sir Andrew remained standing, with bowed head and one hand resting
on the table. In a firm, clear voice he told her the events of
the past few days as they were known to him. All that he tried to
hide was Armand's disobedience, which, in his heart, he felt was
the primary cause of the catastrophe. He told of the rescue of
the Dauphin from the Temple, the midnight drive in the coal-cart,
the meeting with Hastings and Tony in the spinney. He only gave
vague explanations of Armand's stay in Paris which caused Percy to
go back to the city, even at the moment when his most daring plan
had been so successfully carried through.
"Armand, I understand, has fallen in love with a beautiful woman
in Paris, Lady Blakeney," he said, seeing that a strange, puzzled
look had appeared in Marguerite's pale face. "She was arrested
the day before the rescue of the Dauphin from the Temple. Armand
could not join us. He felt that he could not leave her. I am sure
that you will understand."
Then as she made no comment, he resumed his narrative:
"I had been ordered to go back to La Villette, and there to resume
my duties as a labourer in the day-time, and to wait for Percy
during the night. The fact that I had received no message from
him for two days had made me somewhat worried, but I have such
faith in him, such belief in his good luck and his ingenuity, that
I would not allow myself to be really anxious. Then on the third
day I heard the news."
"What news?" asked Marguerite mechanically.
"That the Englishman who was known as the Scarlet Pimpernel had
been captured in a house in the Rue de Ia Croix Blanche, and had
been imprisoned in the Conciergerie."
"The Rue de la Croix Blanche? Where is that?"
"In the Montmartre quarter. Armand lodged there. Percy, I
imagine, was working to get him away; and those brutes captured
"Having heard the news, Sir Andrew, what did you do?"
"I went into Paris and ascertained its truth."
"And there is no doubt of it?"
"Alas, none! I went to the house in the Rue de la Croix Blanche.
Armand had disappeared. I succeeded in inducing the concierge to
talk. She seems to have been devoted to her lodger. Amidst tears
she told me some of the details of the capture. Can you bear to
hear them, Lady Blakeney?"
"Yes--tell me everything--don't be afraid," she reiterated with
the same dull monotony.
"It appears that early on the Tuesday morning the son of the