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El Dorado

11.
The League Of The Scarlet Pimpernel
Armand never could say definitely afterwards whither he went when he left the
Square du Roule that evening. No doubt he wandered about the streets for some
time in an absent, mechanical way, paying no heed to the passers-by, none to
the direction in which he was going.
His mind was full of Jeanne, her beauty, her courage, her attitude in face of the
hideous bloodhound who had come to pollute that charming old-world boudoir by
his loathsome presence. He recalled every word she uttered, every gesture she
made.
He was a man in love for the first time--wholly, irremediably in love.
I suppose that it was the pangs of hunger that first recalled him to himself. It was
close on eight o'clock now, and he had fed on his imaginings--first on
anticipation, then on realisation, and lastly on memory--during the best part of the
day. Now he awoke from his day-dream to find himself tired and hungry, hut
fortunately not very far from that quarter of Paris where food is easily obtainable.
He was somewhere near the Madeleine--a quarter he knew well. Soon he saw in
front of him a small eating-house which looked fairly clean and orderly. He
pushed open its swing-door, and seeing an empty table in a secluded part of the
room, he sat down and ordered some supper.
The place made no impression upon his memory. He could not have told you an
hour later where it was situated, who had served him, what he had eaten, or what
other persons were present in the dining-room at the time that he himself entered
it.
Having eaten, however, he felt more like his normal self--more conscious of his
actions. When he finally left the eating-house, he realised, for instance, that it
was very cold--a fact of which he had for the past few hours been totally
unaware. The snow was falling in thin close flakes, and a biting north-easterly
wind was blowing those flakes into his face and down his collar. He wrapped his
cloak tightly around him. It was a good step yet to Blakeney's lodgings, where he
knew that he was expected.
He struck quickly into the Rue St. Honore, avoiding the great open places where
the grim horrors of this magnificent city in revolt against civilisation were
displayed in all their grim nakedness--on the Place de la Revolution the guillotine,
on the Carrousel the open-air camps of workers under the lash of slave-drivers
more cruel than the uncivilised brutes of the Far West.
And Armand had to think of Jeanne in the midst of all these horrors. She was still
a petted actress to-day, but who could tell if on the morrow the terrible law of the
"suspect" would not reach her in order to drag her before a tribunal that knew no
mercy, and whose sole justice was a condemnation?
The young man hurried on; he was anxious to be among his own comrades, to
hear his chief's pleasant voice, to feel assured that by all the sacred laws of
friendship Jeanne henceforth would become the special care of the Scarlet
Pimpernel and his league.
 
 
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