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The Elusive Pimpernel

XV : Farewell
As she neared the terrace, she became conscious of several forms moving about at the
foot of the steps, some few feet below where she was standing. Soon she saw the glimmer
of lanthorns, heard whispering voices, and the lapping of the water against the side of a
boat.
Anon a figure, laden with cloaks and sundry packages, passed down the steps close
beside her. Even in the darkness Marguerite recognized Benyon, her husband's
confidential valet. Without a moment's hesitation, she flew among the terrace towards the
wing of the house occupied by Sir Percy. She had not gone far before she discerned his
tall figure walking leisurely along the path which here skirted part of the house.
He had on his large caped coat, which was thrown open in front, displaying a grey
travelling suit of fine cloth; his hands were as usual buried in the pockets of his breeches,
and on his head he wore the folding chapeau-bras which he habitually affected.
Before she had time to think, or to realize that he was going, before she could utter one
single word, she was in his arms, clinging to him with passionate intensity, trying in the
gloom to catch every expression of his eyes, every quiver of the face now bent down so
close to her.
"Percy, you cannot go ... you cannot go! ..." she pleaded.
She had felt his strong arms closing round her, his lips seeking hers, her eyes, her hair,
her clinging hands, which dragged at his shoulders in a wild agony of despair.
"If you really loved me, Percy," she murmured, "you would not go, you would not go ..."
He would not trust himself to speak; it well-nigh seemed as if his sinews cracked with the
violent effort at self-control. Oh! how she loved him, when she felt in him the passionate
lover, the wild, untamed creature that he was at heart, on whom the frigid courtliness of
manner sat but as a thin veneer. This was his own real personality, and there was little
now of the elegant and accomplished gentleman of fashion, schooled to hold every
emotion in check, to hide every thought, every desire save that for amusement or for
display.
She--feeling her power and his weakness now--gave herself wholly to his embrace, not
grudging one single, passionate caress, yielding her lips to him, the while she murmured:
"You cannot go ... you cannot ... why should you go? ... It is madness to leave me ... I
cannot let you go ..."
 
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