I Will Repay HTML version
Chapter XXX. Conclusion
There is but little else to record.
History has told us how, shamefaced, tired, dripping, the great, all-powerful
people of Paris quietly slunk back to their homes, even before the first cock-crow
in the villages beyond the gates, acclaimed the pale streak of dawn.
But long before that, even before the church bells of the great city had tolled the
midnight hour, Sir Percy Blakeney and his little band of followers had reached the
little tavern which stand close to the farthest gate of Père Lachaise.
Without a word, like six silent ghosts, they had traversed the vast cemetery, and
reached the quiet hostelry, where the sounds of the seething revolution only
came, attenuated by their passage through the peaceful city of the dead.
English gold had easily purchased silence and good will from the half-starved
keeper of this wayside inn. A huge travelling chaise already stood in readiness,
and four good Flanders horses had been pawing the ground impatiently for the
past half hour. From the window of the chaise old Pétronelle's face, wet with
anxious tears, was peering anxiously.
A cry of joy and surprise escaped Déroulède and Juliette, and both turned, with a
feeling akin to awe, towards the wonderful man who had planned and carried
through this bold adventure.
"Nay, my friend," said Sir Percy, speaking more especially to Déroulède; "if you
only knew how simple it all was! Gold can do so many things, and my only merit
seems to be the possession of plenty of that commodity. You told me yourself
how you had provided for old Pétronelle. Under the most solemn assurance that
she would meet her young mistress here, I got her to leave Paris. She came out
most bravely this morning in one of the market carts. She is so obviously a
woman of the people, that no one suspected her. As for the worthy couple who
keep this wayside hostel, they have been well paid, and money soon procures a
chaise and horses. My English friends and I, we have our own passports, and
one for Mademoiselle Juliette, who must travel as an English lady, with her old
nurse, Pétronelle. There are some decent clothes in readiness for us all in the
inn. A quarter of an hour in which to don them and we must on our way. You can
use your own passport, of course; your arrest has been so very sudden that it
has not yet been cancelled, and we have an eight hours' start of our enemies.
They'll wake up to-morrow morning, begad! and find that you have slipped
through their fingers."
He spoke with easy carelessness, and that slow drawl of his, as if he were talking
airy nothings in a London drawing-room, instead of recounting the most daring,
most colossal piece of effrontery the adventurous brain of man could conceive.
Déroulède could say nothing. His own noble heart was too full of gratitude
towards his friend to express it all in a few words.
And time, of course, was precious.
Within the prescribed quarter of an hour the little band of heroes had doffed their
grimy, ragged clothes, and now appeared dressed as respectable bourgeois of
Paris _en route_ for the country. Sir Percy Blakeney had donned the livery of a