The Scarlet Pimpernel HTML version
XX. The Friend
Less than half an hour later, Marguerite, buried in thoughts, sat inside her coach,
which was bearing her swiftly to London.
She had taken an affectionate farewell of little Suzanne, and seen the child safely
started with her maid, and in her own coach, back to town. She had sent one
courier with a respectful letter of excuse to His Royal Highness, begging for a
postponement of the august visit on account of pressing and urgent business,
and another on ahead to bespeak a fresh relay of horses at Faversham.
Then she had changed her muslin frock for a dark traveling costume and mantle,
had provided herself with money--which her husband's lavishness always placed
fully at her disposal--and had started on her way.
She did not attempt to delude herself with any vain and futile hopes; the safety of
her brother Armand was to have been conditional on the imminent capture of the
Scarlet Pimpernel. As Chauvelin had sent her back Armand's compromising
letter, there was no doubt that he was quite satisfied in his own mind that Percy
Blakeney was the man whose death he had sworn to bring about.
No! there was no room for any fond delusions! Percy, the husband whom she
loved with all the ardour which her admiration for his bravery had kindled, was in
immediate, deadly peril, through her hand. She had betrayed him to his enemy--
unwittingly 'tis true--but she HAD betrayed him, and if Chauvelin succeeded in
trapping him, who so far was unaware of his danger, then his death would be at
her door. His death! when with her very heart's blood, she would have defended
him and given willingly her life for his.
She had ordered her coach to drive her to the "Crown" inn; once there, she told
her coachman to give the horses food and rest. Then she ordered a chair, and
had herself carried to the house in Pall Mall where Sir Andrew Ffoulkes lived.
Among all Percy's friends who were enrolled under his daring banner, she felt
that she would prefer to confide in Sir Andrew Ffoulkes. He had always been her
friend, and now his love for little Suzanne had brought him closer to her still. Had
he been away from home, gone on the mad errand with Percy, perhaps, then she
would have called on Lord Hastings or Lord Tony--for she wanted the help of one
of these young men, or she would indeed be powerless to save her husband.
Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, however, was at home, and his servant introduced her
ladyship immediately. She went upstairs to the young man's comfortable
bachelor's chambers, and was shown into a small, though luxuriously furnished,
dining-room. A moment or two later Sir Andrew himself appeared.