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El Dorado

18.
The Removal
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 track.
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 tower.
 
 
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