The Elusive Pimpernel HTML version
VI : For the Poor of Paris
There was no time to say more then. For the laughing, chatting groups of friends had
once more closed up round Marguerite and her husband, and she, ever on the alert, gave
neither look nor sign that any serious conversation had taken place between Sir Percy and
Whatever she might feel or dread with regard to the foolhardy adventures in which he
still persistently embarked, no member of the League ever guarded the secret of his chief
more loyally than did Marguerite Blakeney.
Though her heart overflowed with a passionate pride in her husband, she was clever
enough to conceal every emotion save that which Nature had insisted on imprinting in her
face, her present radiant happiness and her irresistible love. And thus before the world
she kept up that bantering way with him, which had characterized her earlier matrimonial
life, that good-natured, easy contempt which he had so readily accepted in those days,
and which their entourage would have missed and would have enquired after, if she had
changed her manner towards him too suddenly.
In her heart she knew full well that within Percy Blakeney's soul she had a great and
powerful rival: his wild, mad, passionate love of adventure. For it he would sacrifice
everything, even his life; she dared not ask herself if he would sacrifice his love.
Twice in a few weeks he had been over to France: every time he went she could not know
if she would ever see him again. She could not imagine how the French Committee of
Public Safety could so clumsily allow the hated Scarlet Pimpernel to slip through its
fingers. But she never attempted either to warn him or to beg him not to go. When he
brought Paul Deroulede and Juliette Marny over from France, her heart went out to the
two young people in sheer gladness and pride because of his precious life, which he had
risked for them.
She loved Juliette for the dangers Percy had passed, for the anxieties she herself had
endured; only to-day, in the midst of this beautiful sunshine, this joy of the earth, of
summer and of the sky, she had suddenly felt a mad, overpowering anxiety, a deadly
hatred of the wild adventurous life, which took him so often away from her side. His
pleasant, bantering reply precluded her following up the subject, whilst the merry chatter
of people round her warned her to keep her words and looks under control.
But she seemed now to feel the want of being alone, and, somehow, that distant booth
with its flaring placard, and the crier in the Phrygian cap, exercised a weird fascination
Instinctively she bent her steps thither, and equally instinctively the idle throng of her
friends followed her. Sir Percy alone had halted in order to converse with Lord Hastings,
who had just arrived.