The Scarlet Pimpernel HTML version

VII. The Secret Orchard
Once outside the noisy coffee-room, along in the dimly-lighted passage,
Marguerite Blakeney seemed to breathe more freely. She heaved a deep sigh,
like one who had long been oppressed with the heavy weight of constant self-
control, and she allowed a few tears to fall unheeded down her cheeks.
Outside the rain had ceased, and through the swiftly passing clouds, the pale
rays of an after-storm sun shone upon the beautiful white coast of Kent and the
quaint, irregular houses that clustered round the Admiralty Pier. Marguerite
Blakeney stepped on to the porch and looked out to sea. Silhouetted against the
ever-changing sky, a graceful schooner, with white sails set, was gently dancing
in the breeze. The DAY DREAM it was, Sir Percy Blakeney's yacht, which was
ready to take Armand St. Just back to France into the very midst of that seething,
bloody Revolution which was overthrowing a monarchy, attacking a religion,
destroying a society, in order to try and rebuild upon the ashes of tradition a new
Utopia, of which a few men dreamed, but which none had the power to establish.
In the distance two figures were approaching "The Fisherman's Rest": one, an
oldish man, with a curious fringe of grey hairs round a rotund and massive chin,
and who walked with that peculiar rolling gait which invariably betrays the
seafaring man: the other, a young, slight figure, neatly and becomingly dressed
in a dark, many caped overcoat; he was clean-shaved, and his dark hair was
taken well back over a clear and noble forehead.
"Armand!" said Marguerite Blakeney, as soon as she saw him approaching from
the distance, and a happy smile shone on her sweet face, even through the
A minute or two later brother and sister were locked in each other's arms, while
the old skipper stood respectfully on one side.
"How much time have we got, Briggs?" asked Lady Blakeney, "before M. St. Just
need go on board?"
"We ought to weigh anchor before half an hour, your ladyship," replied the old
man, pulling at his grey forelock.
Linking her arm in his, Marguerite led her brother towards the cliffs.
"Half an hour," she said, looking wistfully out to sea, "half an hour more and you'll
be far from me, Armand! Oh! I can't believe that you are going, dear! These last
few days--whilst Percy has been away, and I've had you all to myself, have
slipped by like a dream."