The Scarlet Pimpernel
XXIV. The Death-Trap
The next quarter of an hour went by swiftly and noiselessly. In the room
downstairs, Brogard had for a while busied himself with clearing the table, and
re-arranging it for another guest.
It was because she watched these preparations that Marguerite found the time
slipping by more pleasantly. It was for Percy that this semblance of supper was
being got ready. Evidently Brogard had a certain amount of respect for the tall
Englishman, as he seemed to take some trouble in making the place look a trifle
less uninviting than it had done before.
He even produced, from some hidden recess in the old dresser, what actually
looked like a table-cloth; and when he spread it out, and saw it was full of holes,
he shook his head dubiously for a while, then was at much pains so to spread it
over the table as to hide most of its blemishes.
Then he got out a serviette, also old and ragged, but possessing some measure
of cleanliness, and with this he carefully wiped the glasses, spoons and plates,
which he put on the table.
Marguerite could not help smiling to herself as she watched all these
preparations, which Brogard accomplished to an accompaniment of muttered
oaths. Clearly the great height and bulk of the Englishman, or perhaps the weight
of his fist, had overawed this free-born citizen of France, or he would never have
been at such trouble for any SACRRE ARISTO.
When the table was set--such as it was--Brogard surveyed it with evident
satisfaction. He then dusted one of the chairs with the corner of his blouse, gave
a stir to the stock-pot, threw a fresh bundle of faggots on to the fire, and slouched
out of the room.
Marguerite was left alone with her reflections. She had spread her travelling
cloak over the straw, and was sitting fairly comfortably, as the straw was fresh,
and the evil odours from below came up to her only in a modified form.
But, momentarily, she was almost happy; happy because, when she peeped
through the tattered curtains, she could see a rickety chair, a torn table-cloth, a
glass, a plate and a spoon; that was all. But those mute and ugly things seemed
to say to her that they were waiting for Percy; that soon, very soon, he would be
here, that the squalid room being still empty, they would be alone together.
That thought was so heavenly, that Marguerite closed her eyes in order to shut
out everything but that. In a few minutes she would be alone with him; she would
run down the ladder, and let him see her; then he would take her in his arms, and