The Scarlet Pimpernel
XIX. The Scarlet Pimpernel
At what particular moment the strange doubt first crept into Marguerite's mind,
she could not herself have said. With the ring tightly clutched in her hand, she
had run out of the room, down the stairs, and out into the garden, where, in
complete seclusion, alone with the flowers, and the river and the birds, she could
look again at the ring, and study that device more closely.
Stupidly, senselessly, now, sitting beneath the shade of an overhanging
sycamore, she was looking at the plain gold shield, with the star-shaped little
flower engraved upon it.
Bah! It was ridiculous! she was dreaming! her nerves were overwrought, and she
saw signs and mysteries in the most trivial coincidences. Had not everybody
about town recently made a point of affecting the device of that mysterious and
heroic Scarlet Pimpernel?
Did she herself wear it embroidered on her gowns? set in gems and enamel in
her hair? What was there strange in the fact that Sir Percy should have chosen to
use the device as a seal-ring? He might easily have done that . . . yes . . . quite
easily . . . and . . . besides . . . what connection could there be between her
exquisite dandy of a husband, with his fine clothes and refined, lazy ways, and
the daring plotter who rescued French victims from beneath the very eyes of the
leaders of a bloodthirsty revolution?
Her thoughts were in a whirl--her mind a blank . . . She did not see anything that
was going on around her, and was quite startled when a fresh young voice called
to her across the garden.
"CHERIE!--CHERIE! where are you?" and little Suzanne, fresh as a rosebud,
with eyes dancing with glee, and brown curls fluttering in the soft morning
breeze, came running across the lawn.
"They told me you were in the garden," she went on prattling merrily, and
throwing herself with a pretty, girlish impulse into Marguerite's arms, "so I ran out
to give you a surprise. You did not expect me quite so soon, did you, my darling
little Margot CHERIE?"
Marguerite, who had hastily concealed the ring in the folds of her kerchief, tried
to respond gaily and unconcernedly to the young girl's impulsiveness.
"Indeed, sweet one," she said with a smile, "it is delightful to have you all to
myself, and for a nice whole long day. . . . You won't be bored?"