The Scarlet Pimpernel HTML version
VIII. The Accredited Agent
The afternoon was rapidly drawing to a close; and a long, chilly English summer's
evening was throwing a misty pall over the green Kentish landscape.
The DAY DREAM had set sail, and Marguerite Blakeney stood alone on the edge
of the cliff over an hour, watching those white sails, which bore so swiftly away
from her the only being who really cared for her, whom she dared to love, whom
she knew she could trust.
Some little distance away to her left the lights from the coffee-room of "The
Fisherman's Rest" glittered yellow in the gathering mist; from time to time it
seemed to her aching nerves as if she could catch from thence the sound of
merry-making and of jovial talk, or even that perpetual, senseless laugh of her
husband's, which grated continually upon her sensitive ears.
Sir Percy had had the delicacy to leave her severely alone. She supposed that, in
his own stupid, good-natured way, he may have understood that she would wish
to remain alone, while those white sails disappeared into the vague horizon, so
many miles away. He, whose notions of propriety and decorum were
supersensitive, had not suggested even that an attendant should remain within
call. Marguerite was grateful to her husband for all this; she always tried to be
grateful to him for his thoughtfulness, which was constant, and for his generosity,
which really was boundless. She tried even at times to curb the sarcastic, bitter
thoughts of him, which made her--in spite of herself--say cruel, insulting things,
which she vaguely hoped would wound him.
Yes! she often wished to wound him, to make him feel that she too held him in
contempt, that she too had forgotten that she had almost loved him. Loved that
inane fop! whose thoughts seemed unable to soar beyond the tying of a cravat or
the new cut of a coat. Bah! And yet! . . . vague memories, that were sweet and
ardent and attuned to this calm summer's evening, came wafted back to her
memory, on the invisible wings of the light sea-breeze: the tie when first he
worshipped her; he seemed so devoted--a very slave--and there was a certain
latent intensity in that love which had fascinated her.
Then suddenly that love, that devotion, which throughout his courtship she had
looked upon as the slavish fidelity of a dog, seemed to vanish completely.
Twenty-four hours after the simple little ceremony at old St. Roch, she had told
him the story of how, inadvertently, she had spoken of certain matters connected
with the Marquis de St. Cyr before some men--her friends--who had used this
information against the unfortunate Marquis, and sent him and his family to the