I Will Repay HTML version
Chapter VI. The Scarlet Pimpernel
It was some few hours later. The ladies sat in the drawing-room, silent and
Soon after supper a visitor had called, and had been closeted with Paul
Déroulède in the latter's study for the past two hours.
A tall, somewhat lazy-looking figure, he was sitting at a table face to face with the
Citizen-Deputy. On a chair beside him lay a heavy caped coat, covered with the
dust and the splashings of a long journey, but he himself was attired in clothes
that suggested the most fastidious taste, and the most perfect of tailors; he wore
with apparent ease the eccentric fashion of the time, the short-waisted coat of
many lapels, the double waistcoat and billows of delicate lace. Unlike Déroulède
he was of great height, with fair hair and a somewhat lazy expression in his
good-natured blue eyes, and as he spoke, there was just a soupçon of foreign
accent in the pronunciation of the French vowels, a certain drawl of o's and a's,
that would have betrayed the Britisher to an observant ear.
The two men had been talking earnestly for some time, the tall Englishman was
watching his friend keenly, whilst an amused, pleasant smile lingered round the
corners of his firm mouth and jaw. Déroulède, restless and enthusiastic, was
pacing to and fro.
"But I don't understand now, how you managed to reach Paris, my dear
Blakeney!" said Déroulède at last, placing an anxious hand on his friend's
shoulder. "The government has not forgotten The Scarlet Pimpernel."
"La! I took care of that!" responded Blakeney with his short, pleasant laugh. "I
sent Tinville my autograph this morning."
"You are mad, Blakeney!"
"Not altogether, my friend. My faith! 'twas on only foolhardiness caused me to
grant that devilish prosecutor another sight of my scarlet device. I knew what you
maniacs would be after, so I came across in the Daydream,just to see if I couldn't
get my share of the fun."
"Fun, you call it?" queried the other bitterly.
"Nay! what would you have me call it? A mad, insane, senseless tragedy, with
but one issue?--the guillotine for you all."
"The why did you come?"
"To-- What shall I say, my friend?" rejoined Sir Percy Blakeny, with that inimitable
drawl of his. "To give your demmed government something else to think about,
whilst you are all busy running your heads into a noose."
"What makes you think we are doing that?"
"Three things, my friend--may I offer you a pinch of snuff--No?--Ah well!..." And
with the graceful gesture of an accomplished dandy, Sir Percy flicked off a grain
of dust from his immaculate Mechlin ruffles.
"Three things," he continued quietly; "an imprisoned Queen, about to be tried for
her life, the temperament of a Frenchman--some of them-- and the idiocy of
mankind generally. These three things make me think that a certain section of
hot-headed Republicans with yourself, my dear Déroulède, en tête, are about to