El Dorado HTML version

An Interlude
It was close on midnight now, and still they sat opposite one another, he the
friend and she the wife, talking over that brief half-hour that had meant an
eternity to her,
Marguerite had tried to tell Sir Andrew everything; bitter as it was to put into
actual words the pathos and misery which she had witnessed, yet she would hide
nothing from the devoted comrade whom she knew Percy would trust absolutely.
To him she repeated every word that Percy had uttered, described every
inflection of his voice, those enigmatical phrases which she had not understood,
and together they cheated one another into the belief that hope lingered
somewhere hidden in those words.
"I am not going to despair, Lady Blakeney," said Sir Andrew firmly; "and,
moreover, we are not going to disobey. I would stake my life that even now
Blakeney has some scheme in his mind which is embodied in the various letters
which he has given you, and which--Heaven help us in that case!--we might
thwart by disobedience. Tomorrow in the late afternoon I will escort you to the
Rue de Charonne. It is a house that we all know well, and which Armand, of
course, knows too. I had already inquired there two days ago to ascertain
whether by chance St. Just was not in hiding there, but Lucas, the landlord and
old-clothes dealer, knew nothing about him."
Marguerite told him about her swift vision of Armand in the dark corridor of the
house of Justice.
"Can you understand it, Sir Andrew?" she asked, fixing her deep, luminous eyes
inquiringly upon him.
"No, I cannot," he said, after an almost imperceptible moment of hesitancy; "but
we shall see him to-morrow. I have no doubt that Mademoiselle Lange will know
where to find him; and now that we know where she is, all our anxiety about him,
at any rate, should soon be at an end."
He rose and made some allusion to the lateness of the hour. Somehow it
seemed to her that her devoted friend was trying to hide his innermost thoughts
from her. She watched him with an anxious, intent gaze.
"Can you understand it all, Sir Andrew?" she reiterated with a pathetic note of
"No, no!" he said firmly. "On my soul, Lady Blakeney, I know no more of Armand
than you do yourself. But I am sure that Percy is right. The boy frets because
remorse must have assailed him by now. Had he but obeyed implicitly that day,
as we all did--"
But he could not frame the whole terrible proposition in words. Bitterly as he
himself felt on the subject of Armand, he would not add yet another burden to this
devoted woman's heavy load of misery.
"It was Fate, Lady Blakeney," he said after a while. "Fate! a damnable fate which
did it all. Great God! to think of Blakeney in the hands of those brutes seems so
horrible that at times I feel as if the whole thing were a nightmare, and that the