The Elusive Pimpernel HTML version
XXXII : The Letter
Later on, when his colleague left him in order to see to the horses and to his escort for to-
night, Chauvelin called Sergeant Hebert, his old and trusted familiar, to him and gave
him some final orders.
"The Angelus must be rung at the proper hour, friend Hebert," he began with a grim
"The Angelus, Citizen?" quoth the Sergeant, with complete stupefaction, "'tis months
now since it has been rung. It was forbidden by a decree of the Convention, and I doubt
me if any of our men would know how to set about it."
Chauvelin's eyes were fixed before him in apparent vacancy, while the same grim smile
still hovered round his thin lips. Something of that irresponsible spirit of adventure which
was the mainspring of all Sir Percy Blakeney's actions, must for the moment have
pervaded the mind of his deadly enemy.
Chauvelin had thought out this idea of having the Angelus rung to-night, and was
thoroughly pleased with the notion. This was the day when the duel was to have been
fought; seven o'clock would have been the very hour, and the sound of the Angelus to
have been the signal for combat, and there was something very satisfying in the thought,
that that same Angelus should be rung, as a signal that the Scarlet Pimpernel was
withered and broken at last.
In answer to Hebert's look of bewilderment Chauvelin said quietly:
"We must have some signal between ourselves and the guard at the different gates, also
with the harbour officials: at a given moment the general amnesty must take effect and
the harbour become a free port. I have a fancy that the signal shall be the ringing of the
Angelus: the cannons at the gates and the harbour can boom in response; then the prisons
can be thrown open and prisoners can either participate in the evening fete or leave the
city immediately, as they choose. The Committee of Public Safety has promised the
amnesty: it will carry out its promise to the full, and when Citizen Collot d'Herbois
arrives in Paris with the joyful news, all natives of Boulogne in the prisons there will
participate in the free pardon too."
"I understand all that, Citizen," said Hebert, still somewhat bewildered, "but not the
"A fancy, friend Hebert, and I mean to have it."
"But who is to ring it, Citizen?"