The Scarlet Pimpernel
Marguerite Blakeney had watched the slight sable-clad figure of Chauvelin, as he
worked his way through the ball-room. Then perforce she had had to wait, while
her nerves tingled with excitement.
Listlessly she sat in the small, still deserted boudoir, looking out through the
curtained doorway on the dancing couples beyond: looking at them, yet seeing
nothing, hearing the music, yet conscious of naught save a feeling of expectancy,
of anxious, weary waiting.
Her mind conjured up before her the vision of what was, perhaps at this very
moment, passing downstairs. The half-deserted dining-room, the fateful hour--
Chauvelin on the watch!--then, precise to the moment, the entrance of a man, he,
the Scarlet Pimpernel, the mysterious leader, who to Marguerite had become
almost unreal, so strange, so weird was this hidden identity.
She wished she were in the supper-room, too, at this moment, watching him as
he entered; she knew that her woman's penetration would at once recognise in
the stranger's face--whoever he might be--that strong individuality which belongs
to a leader of men--to a hero: to the mighty, high-soaring eagle, whose daring
wings were becoming entangled in the ferret's trap.
Woman-like, she thought of him with unmixed sadness; the irony of that fate
seemed so cruel which allowed the fearless lion to succumb to the gnawing of a
rat! Ah! had Armand's life not been at stake! . . .
"Faith! your ladyship must have thought me very remiss," said a voice suddenly,
close to her elbow. "I had a deal of difficulty in delivering your message, for I
could not find Blakeney anywhere at first . . ."
Marguerite had forgotten all about her husband and her message to him; his very
name, as spoken by Lord Fancourt, sounded strange and unfamiliar to her, so
completely had she in the last five minutes lived her old life in the Rue de
Richelieu again, with Armand always near her to love and protect her, to guard
her from the many subtle intrigues which were forever raging in Paris in those
"I did find him at last," continued Lord Fancourt, "and gave him your message.
He said that he would give orders at once for the horses to be put to."
"Ah!" she said, still very absently, "you found my husband, and gave him my