The Scarlet Pimpernel
In a moment the pleasant oak-raftered coffee-room of the inn became the scene
of hopeless confusion and discomfort. At the first announcement made by the
stable boy, Lord Antony, with a fashionable oath, had jumped up from his seat
and was now giving many and confused directions to poor bewildered Jellyband,
who seemed at his wits' end what to do.
"For goodness' sake, man," admonished his lordship, "try to keep Lady Blakeney
talking outside for a moment while the ladies withdraw. Zounds!" he added, with
another more emphatic oath, "this is most unfortunate."
"Quick Sally! the candles!" shouted Jellyband, as hopping about from one leg to
another, he ran hither and thither, adding to the general discomfort of everybody.
The Comtesse, too, had risen to her feet: rigid and erect, trying to hide her
excitement beneath more becoming SANG-FROID, she repeated mechanically,--
"I will not see her!--I will not see her!"
Outside, the excitement attendant upon the arrival of very important guests grew
"Good-day, Sir Percy!--Good-day to your ladyship! Your servant, Sir Percy!"--was
heard in one long, continued chorus, with alternate more feeble tones of--
"Remember the poor blind man! of your charity, lady and gentleman!"
Then suddenly a singularly sweet voice was heard through all the din.
"Let the poor man be--and give him some supper at my expense."
The voice was low and musical, with a slight sing-song in it, and a faint
SOUPCON of foreign intonation in the pronunciation of the consonants.
Everyone in the coffee-room heard it and paused instinctively, listening to it for a
moment. Sally was holding the candles by the opposite door, which led to the
bedrooms upstairs, and the Comtesse was in the act of beating a hasty retreat
before that enemy who owned such a sweet musical voice; Suzanne reluctantly
was preparing to follow her mother, while casting regretful glances towards the
door, where she hoped still to see her dearly-beloved, erstwhile school-fellow.
Then Jellyband threw open the door, still stupidly and blindly hoping to avert the
catastrophe, which he felt was in the air, and the same low, musical voice said,
with a merry laugh and mock consternation,--