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Chauvelin's Advice
Citizen Chauvelin had drawn his colleague with him to the end of the cell that
was farthest away from the recess, and the table at which the prisoner was
Here the noise and hubbub that went on constantly in the guard room would
effectually drown a whispered conversation. Chauvelin called to the sergeant to
hand him a couple of chairs over the barrier. These he placed against the wall
opposite the opening, and beckoning Heron to sit down, he did likewise, placing
himself close to his colleague.
From where the two men now sat they could see both into the guard-room
opposite them and into the recess at die furthermost end of the cell.
"First of all," began Chauvelin after a while, and sinking his voice to a whisper,
"let me understand you thoroughly, citizen Heron. Do you want the death of the
Englishman, either to-day or to-morrow, either in this prison or on the guillotine?
For that now is easy of accomplishment; or do you want, above all, to get hold of
little Capet?"
"It is Capet I want," growled Heron savagely under his breath. "Capet! Capet! My
own neck is dependent on my finding Capet. Curse you, have I not told you that
clearly enough?"
"You have told it me very clearly, citizen Heron; but I wished to make assurance
doubly sure, and also make you Understand that I, too, want the Englishman to
betray little Capet into your hands. I want that more even than I do his death."
"Then in the name of hell, citizen, give me your advice."
"My advice to you, citizen Heron, is this: Give your prisoner now just a sufficiency
of food to revive him--he will have had a few moments' sleep--and when he has
eaten, and, mayhap, drunk a glass of wine, he will, no doubt, feel a
recrudescence of strength, then give him pen and ink and paper. He must, as he
says, write to one of his followers, who, in his turn, I suppose, will communicate
with the others, bidding them to be prepared to deliver up little Capet to us; the
letter must make it clear to that crowd of English gentlemen that their beloved
chief is giving up the uncrowned King of France to us in exchange for his own
safety. But I think you will agree with me, citizen Heron, that it would not be over-
prudent on our part to allow that same gallant crowd to be forewarned too soon
of the pro-posed doings of their chief. Therefore, I think, we'll explain to the
prisoner that his follower, whom he will first apprise of his intentions, shall start
with us to-morrow on our expedition, and accompany us until its last stage, when,
if it is found necessary, he may be sent on ahead, strongly escorted of course,
and with personal messages from the gallant Scarlet Pimpernel to the members
of his League."
"What will be the good of that?" broke in Heron viciously. "Do you want one of his
accursed followers to be ready to give him a helping hand on the way if he tries
to slip through our fingers?