The Scarlet Pimpernel HTML version

XXI. Suspense
It was late into the night when she at last reached "The Fisherman's Rest." She
had done the whole journey in less than eight hours, thanks to innumerable
changes of horses at the various coaching stations, for which she always paid
lavishly, thus obtaining the very best and swiftest that could be had.
Her coachman, too, had been indefatigable; the promise of special and rich
reward had no doubt helped to keep him up, and he had literally burned the
ground beneath his mistress' coach wheels.
The arrival of Lady Blakeney in the middle of the night caused a considerable
flutter at "The Fisherman's Rest." Sally jumped hastily out of bed, and Mr.
Jellyband was at great pains how to make his important guest comfortable.
Both of these good folk were far too well drilled in the manners appertaining to
innkeepers, to exhibit the slightest surprise at Lady Blakeney's arrival, alone, at
this extraordinary hour. No doubt they thought all the more, but Marguerite was
far too absorbed in the importance--the deadly earnestness--of her journey, to
stop and ponder over trifles of that sort.
The coffee-room--the scene lately of the dastardly outrage on two English
gentlemen--was quite deserted. Mr. Jellyband hastily relit the lamp, rekindled a
cheerful bit of fire in the great hearth, and then wheeled a comfortable chair by it,
into which Marguerite gratefully sank.
"Will your ladyship stay the night?" asked pretty Miss Sally, who was already
busy laying a snow-white cloth on the table, preparatory to providing a simple
supper for her ladyship.
"No! not the whole night," replied Marguerite. "At any rate, I shall not want any
room but this, if I can have it to myself for an hour or two."
"It is at your ladyship's service," said honest Jellyband, whose rubicund face was
set in its tightest folds, lest it should betray before "the quality" that boundless
astonishment which the very worthy fellow had begun to feel.
"I shall be crossing over at the first turn of the tide," said Marguerite, "and in the
first schooner I can get. But my coachman and men will stay the night, and
probably several days longer, so I hope you will make them comfortable."
"Yes, my lady; I'll look after them. Shall Sally bring your ladyship some supper?"