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The Elusive Pimpernel

XIII : Reflections
It seemed indeed as if the incident were finally closed, the chief actors in the drama
having deliberately vacated the centre of the stage.
The little crowd which had stood in a compact mass round the table, began to break up
into sundry small groups: laughter and desultory talk, checked for a moment by that
oppressive sense of unknown danger, which had weighed on the spirits of those present,
once more became general. Blakeney's light-heartedness had put everyone into good-
humour; since he evidently did not look upon the challenge as a matter of serious
moment, why then, no one else had any cause for anxiety, and the younger men were
right glad to join in that bowl of punch which their genial host had offered with so merry
a grace.
Lacqueys appeared, throwing open the doors. From a distance the sound of dance music
once more broke upon the ear.
A few of the men only remained silent, deliberately holding aloof from the renewed
mirthfulness. Foremost amongst these was His Royal Highness, who was looking
distinctly troubled, and who had taken Sir Percy by the arm, and was talking to him with
obvious earnestness. Lord Anthony Dewhurst and Lord Hastings were holding converse
in a secluded corner of the room, whilst Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, as being the host's most
intimate friend, felt it incumbent on him to say a few words to ex-Ambassador Chauvelin.
The latter was desirous of effecting a retreat. Blakeney's invitation to join in the friendly
bowl of punch could not be taken seriously, and the Terrorist wanted to be alone, in order
to think out the events of the past hour.
A lacquey waited on him, took the momentous sword from his hand, found his hat and
cloak and called his coach for him: Chauvelin having taken formal leave of his host and
acquaintances, quickly worked his way to the staircase and hall, through the less
frequented apartments.
He sincerely wished to avoid meeting Lady Blakeney face to face. Not that the slightest
twinge of remorse disturbed his mind, but he feared some impulsive action on her part,
which indirectly might interfere with his future plans. Fortunately no one took much heed
of the darkly-clad, insignificant little figure that glided so swiftly by, obviously
determined to escape attention.
In the hall he found Demoiselle Candeille waiting for him. She, too, had evidently been
desirous of leaving Blakeney Manor as soon as possible. He saw her to her chaise; then
escorted her as far as her lodgings, which were close by: there were still one or two things
which he wished to discuss with her, one or two final instructions which he desired to
give.
 
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