The Elusive Pimpernel HTML version

VII : Premonition
Marguerite neither moved nor spoke. She felt two pairs of eyes fixed upon her, and with
all the strength of will at her command she forced the very blood in her veins not to quit
her cheeks, forced her eyelids not to betray by a single quiver the icy pang of a deadly
premonition which at sight of Chauvelin seemed to have chilled her entire soul.
There he stood before her, dressed in his usual somber garments, a look almost of
humility in those keen grey eyes of his, which a year ago on the cliffs of Calais had
peered down at her with such relentless hate.
Strange that at this moment she should have felt an instinct of fear. What cause had she to
throw more than a pitiful glance at the man who had tried so cruelly to wrong her, and
who had so signally failed?
Having bowed very low and very respectfully, Chauvelin advanced towards her, with all
the airs of a disgraced courtier craving audience from his queen.
As he approached she instinctively drew back.
"Would you prefer not to speak to me, Lady Blakeney?" he said humbly.
She could scarcely believe her ears, or trust her eyes. It seemed impossible that a man
could have so changed in a few months. He even looked shorter than last year, more
shrunken within himself. His hair, which he wore free from powder, was perceptibly
tinged with grey.
"Shall I withdraw?" he added after a pause, seeing that Marguerite made no movement to
return his salutation.
"It would be best, perhaps," she replied coldly. "You and I, Monsieur Chauvelin, have so
little to say to one another."
"Very little indeed," he rejoined quietly; "the triumphant and happy have ever very little
to say to the humiliated and the defeated. But I had hoped that Lady Blakeney in the
midst of her victory would have spared one thought of pity and one of pardon."
"I did not know that you had need of either from me, Monsieur."
"Pity perhaps not, but forgiveness certainly."
"You have that, if you so desire it."
"Since I failed, you might try to forget."