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Title: The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel
Author: Emmuska Orczy
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Language: English
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The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel
Emmuska Orczy

Chapter I:

"The everlasting stars look down, like glistening eyes bright with
immortal pity, over the lot of man"


Nearly five years have gone by!

Five years, since the charred ruins of grim Bastille--stone image of
Absolutism and of Autocracy--set the seal of victory upon the
expression of a people's will and marked the beginning of that
marvellous era of Liberty and of Fraternity which has led us step by
step from the dethronement of a King, through the martryrdom of
countless innocents, to the tyranny of an oligarchy more arbitrary,
more relentless, above all more cruel, than any that the dictators of
Rome or Stamboul ever dream of in their wildest thirst for power. An
era that sees a populace always clamouring for the Millennium, which
ranting demagogues have never ceased to promise: a Millennium to be
achieved alternatively through the extermination of Aristocracy, of
Titles, of Riches, and the abrogation of Priesthood: through dethroned
royalty and desecrated altars, through an army without leadership, or
an Assembly without power.

They have never ceased to prate, these frothy rhetoricians! And the
people went on, vaguely believing that one day, soon, that Millennium
would surely come, after seas of blood had purged the soil of France
from the last vestige of bygone oppression, and after her sons and
daughters had been massacred in their thousands and their tens of
thousands, until their headless bodies had built up a veritable
scaling ladder for the tottering feet of lustful climbers, and these
in their turn had perished to make way for other ranters, other
speech-makers, a new Demosthenes or long-tongued Cicero.

Inevitably these too perished, one by one, irrespective of their
virtues or their vices, their errors or their ideals: Vergniaud, the
enthusiast, and Desmoulins, the irresponsible; Barnave, the just, and
Chaumette, the blasphemer; Hbert, the carrion, and Danton, the power.
All, all have perished, one after the other: victims of their greed
and of their crimes--they and their adherents and their enemies. They
slew and were slain in their turn. They struck blindly, like raging
beasts, most of them for fear lest they too should be struck by beasts
more furious than they. All have perished; but not before their
iniquities have for ever sullied what might have been the most
glorious page in the history of France--her fight for Liberty. Because
of these monsters--and of a truth there were only a few--the fight,
itself sublime in its ideals, noble in its conception, has become
abhorrent to the rest of mankind.

But they, arraigned at the bar of history, what have they to say, what
to show as evidence of their patriotism, of the purity of their

On this day of April, 1794, year II of the New Calendar, eight
thousand men, women, and not a few children, are crowding the prisons
of Paris to overflowing. Four thousand heads have fallen under the
guillotine in the past three months. All the great names of France,
her noblesse, her magistracy, her clergy, members of past Parliaments,
shining lights in the sciences, the arts, the Universities, men of
substance, poets, brain-workers, have been torn from their homes,
their churches or their places of refuge, dragged before a travesty of
justice, judged, condemned and slaughtered; not singly, not
individually, but in batches--whole families, complete hierarchies,
entire households: one lot for the crime of being right, another for
being nobly born; some because of their religion, others because of
professed free-thought. One man for devotion to his friend, another
for perfidy; one for having spoken, another for having held his
tongue, and another for no crime at all--just because of his family
connexions, his profession, or his ancestry.

For months it had been the innocents; but since then it has also been
the assassins. And the populace, still awaiting the Millennium,
clamour for more victims and for more--for the aristocrat and for the
sans-culotte, and howl with execration impartially at both.


But through this mad orgy of murder and of hatred, one man survives,
stands apart indeed, wielding a power which the whole pack of
infuriated wolves thirsting for his blood are too cowardly to
challenge. The Girondists and the Extremists have fallen. Hbert, the
idol of the mob, Danton its hero and its mouthpiece, have been hurled
from their throne, sent to the scaffold along with ci-devant nobles,
aristocrats, royalists and traitors. But this one man remains, calm in
the midst of every storm, absolute in his will, indigent where others
have grasped riches with both hands, adored, almost deified, by a few,
dreaded by all, sphinx-like, invulnerable, sinister--Robespierre!

Robespierre at this time was at the height of his popularity and of
his power. The two great Committees of Public Safety and of General
Security were swayed by his desires, the Clubs worshipped him, the
Convention was packed with obedient slaves to his every word. The
Dantonists, cowed into submission by the bold coup which had sent
their leader, their hero, their idol, to the guillotine, were like a
tree that has been struck at the root. Without Danton, the giant of
the Revolution, the collossus of crime, the maker of the Terror, the
thunderbolt of the Convention, the part was atrophied, robbed of its
strength and its vitality, its last few members hanging, servile and
timorous, upon the great man's lips.

Robespierre was in truth absolute master of France. The man who had
dared to drag his only rival down to the scaffold was beyond the reach
of any attack. By this final act of unparalleled despotism he had
revealed the secrets of his soul, shown himself to be rapacious as
well as self-seeking. Something of his aloofness, of his
incorruptibility, had vanished, yielding to that ever-present and
towering ambition which hitherto none had dared to suspect. But
ambition is the one vice to which the generality of mankind will
always accord homage, and Robespierre, by gaining the victory over his
one in the Convention, in the Clubs and in the Committees, had tacitly
agreed to obey. The tyrant out of his vaulting ambition had brought
forth the slaves.

Faint hearted and servile, they brooded over their wrongs, gazed with
smouldering wrath on Danton's vacant seat in the Convention, which no
one cared to fill. But they did not murmur, hardly dared to plot, and
gave assent to every decree, every measure, every suggestion
promulgated by the dictator who held their lives in the hollow of his
thin white hand; who with a word, a gesture, could send his enemy, his
detractor, a mere critic of his actions, to the guillotine.


Feet of Clay


On this 26th day of April, 1794, which in the newly constituted
calendar is the 7th Floreal, year II of the Republic, three women and
one man were assembled in a small, closely curtained room on the top
floor of a house in the Rue de la Planchette, which is situated in a
remote and dreary quarter of Paris. The man sat upon a chair which was
raised on a dais. He was neatly, indeed immaculately, dressed, in dark
cloth coat and tan breeches, with clean linen at throats and wrists,
white stockings and buckled shoes. His own hair was concealed under a
mouse-coloured wig. He sat quite still, with one leg crossed over the
other, and his thin, bony hands were clasped in front of him.

Behind the dais there was a heavy curtain which stretched right across
the room, and in front of it, at opposite corners, two young girls,
clad in grey, clinging draperies, sat upon their heels, with the palms
of their hands resting flat upon their thighs. Their hair hung loose
down their backs, their chins were uplifted, their eyes fixed, their
bodies rigid in an attitude of contemplation. In the centre of the
room a woman stood, gazing upwards at the ceiling, her arms folded
across her breast. Her grey hair, lank and unruly, was partially
hidden by an ample floating veil of an indefinite shade of grey, and
from her meagre shoulders and arms, her garment--it was hardly a
gown--descended in straight, heavy, shapeless folds. In front of her
was a small table, on it a large crystal globe, which rested on a
stand of black wood, exquisitely carved and inlaid with mother-of-
pearl, and beside it a small metal box.

Immediately above the old woman's head an oil lamp, the flame of which
was screened by a piece of crimson silk, shed a feeble and lurid light
upon the scene. Against the wall half a dozen chairs, on the floor a
threadbare carpet, and in one corner a broken-down chiffonier
represented the sum total of the furniture in the stuffy little room.
The curtains in front of the window, as well as the portires which
masked both the doors, were heavy and thick, excluding all light and
most of the outside air.

The old woman, with eyes fixed upon the ceiling, spoke in a dull, even

"Citizen Robespierre, who is the Chosen of the Most High, hath deigned
to enter the humble abode of his servant," she said. "What is his
pleasure to-day?"

"The shade of Danton pursues me," Robespierre replied, and his voice
too sounded toneless, as if muffled by the heavily weighted
atmosphere. "Can you not lay him to rest?"

The woman stretched out her arms. The folds of her woollen draperies
hung straight from shoulder to wrist down to the ground, so that she
looked like a shapeless bodiless, grey ghost in the dim, red light.

"Blood!" she exclaimed in a weird, cadaverous wail. "Blood around thee
and blood at thy feet! But not upon thy head, O Chosen of the
Almighty! Thy decrees are those of the Most High! Thy hand wields His
avenging Sword! I see thee walking upon a sea of blood, yet thy feet
are as white as lilies and thy garments are spotless as the driven
snow. Avaunt," she cried in sepulchral tones, "ye spirits of evil!
Avaunt, ye vampires and ghouls! and venture not with your noxious
breath to disturb the serenity of our Morning Star!"

The girls in front of the dais raised their arms above their heads and
echoed the old soothsayer's wails.

"Avaunt!" they cried solemnly. "Avaunt!"

Now from a distant corner of the room, a small figure detached itself
out of the murky shadows. It was the figure of a young negro, glad in
white from head to foot. In the semi-darkness the draperies which he
wore were alone visible, and the whites of his eyes. Thus he seemed to
be walking without any feet, to have eyes without any face, and to be
carrying a heavy vessel without using any hands. His appearance indeed
was so startling and so unearthly that the man upon the dais could not
suppress and exclamation of terror. Whereupon a wide row of dazzlingly
white teeth showed somewhere between the folds of the spectral
draperies, and further enhanced the spook-like appearance of the
blackamoor. He carried a deep bowl fashioned of chased copper, which
he placed upon the table in front of the old woman, immediately behind
the crystal globe and the small metal box. The seer then opened the
box, took out a pinch of something brown and powdery, and holding it
between finger and thumb, she said solemnly:

"From out the heart of France rises the incense of faith, of hope, and
of love!" and she dropped the powder into the bowl. "May it prove
acceptable to him who is her chosen Lord!"

A bluish flame shot up from out the depth of the vessel, shed for the
space of a second or two its ghostly light upon the gaunt features of
the old hag, the squat and grinning face of the negro, and toyed with
the will-o'-the-wisp-like fitfulness of the surrounding gloom. A
sweet-scented smoke rose upwards to the ceiling. Then the flame died
down again, making the crimson darkness around appear by contrast more
lurid and more mysterious than before.

Robespierre had not moved. His boundless vanity, his insatiable
ambition, blinded him to the effrontery, the ridicule of this
mysticism. He accepted the tangible incense, took a deep breath, as if
to fill his entire being with its heady fumes, just as he was always
ready to accept the fulsome adulation of his devotees and of his

The old charlatan then repeated her incantations. Once more she took
powder from the box, threw some of it into the vessel, and spoke in a
sepulchral voice:

"From out of the heart of those who worship thee rises the incense of
their praise!"

A delicate white flame rose immediately out of the vessel. It shed a
momentary, unearthly brightness around, then as speedily vanished
again. And for the third time the witch spoke the mystic words:

"From out the heart of an entire nation rises the incense of perfect
joy in thy triumph over thine enemies!"

This time, however, the magic powder did not act quite so rapidly as
it had done on the two previous occasions. For a few seconds the
vessel remained dark and unresponsive; nothing came to dispel the
surrounding gloom. Even the light of the oil lamp overhead appeared
suddenly to grow dim. At any rate, so it seemed to the autocrat who,
with nerves on edge, sat upon his throne-like seat, his bony hands, so
like the talons of a bird of prey, clutching the arms of his chair,
his narrow eyes fixed upon the sybil, who in her turn was gazing on
the metal vessal as if she would extort some cabalistic mystery from
its depth.

All at once a bright red flame shot out of the bowl. Everything in the
room became suffused with a crimson glow. The old witch bending over
her cauldron looked as if she were smeared with blood, her eyes
appeared bloodshot, her long hooked nose cast a huge black shadow over
her mouth, distorting the face into a hideous, cadaverous grin. From
her throat issued strange sounds like those of an animal in the throes
of pain.

"Red! Red!" she lamented, and gradually as the flame subsided and
finally flickered out altogether, her words became more distinct. She
raised the crystal globe and gazed fixedly into it. "Always red," she
went on slowly. "Thrice yesterday did I cas the spell in the name of
Our Chosen... thrice did the spirits cloak their identity in a blood-
red flame... red... always red... not only blood... but danger...
danger of death through that which is red...."

Robespierre had risen from his seat, his thin lips were murmuring
hasty imprecations. The kneeling figurants looked scared, and strange
wailing sounds came from their mouths. The young blackamoor alone
looked self-possessed. He stood by, evidently enjoying the scene, his
white teeth gleaming in a huge, board grin.

"A truce on riddles, Mother!" Robespierre exclaimed at last
impatiently, and descended hastily from the dais. He approached the
old necromancer, seized her by the arm, thrust his head in front of
hers in an endeavour to see something which apparently was revealed to
her in the crystal globe. "What is it you see in there?" he queried

But she pushed him aside, gazed with rapt intentness into the globe.

"Red!" she murmured. "Scarlet... aye, scarlet! And now it takes
shape... Scarlet... and it obscures the Chosen One... the shape
becomes more clear... the Chosen One appears more dim...."

Then she gave a piercing shriek.

"Beware!... beware!... that which is Scarlet is shaped like a
flower... five petals, I see them distinctly... and the Chosen One I
see no more...."

"Malediction!" the man exclaimed. "What foolery is this?"

"No foolery," the old charlatan resumed in a dull monotone. "Thou
didst consult the oracle, oh thou, who art the Chosen of the people of
France! and the oracle has spoken. Beware of a scarlet flower! From
that which is scarlet comes danger of death for thee!"

Wherat Robespierre tried to laugh.

"Some one has filled thy head, Mother," he said in a voice which he
vainly tried to steady, "with tales of the mysterious Englishman who
goes by the name of the Scarlet Pimpernel-"

"Thy mortal enemy, O Messenger of the Most High!" the old blasphemer
broke in solemnly. "In far-off fog-bound England he hath sworn thy
death. Beware-"

"If that is the only danger which threatens me-" the other began,
striving to speak carelessly.

"The only one, and the greatest one," the hag went on insistently.
"Despise it not because it seems small and remote."

"I do not despise it; neither do I magnify it. A gnat is a nuisance,
but not a danger."

"A gnat may wield a poisoned dart. The spirits have spoken. Heed their
warning, O Chosen of the People! Destroy the Englishman ere he destroy

"Pardi!" Robespierre retorted, and despite the stuffiness of the room
he gave a shiver as if he felt cold. "Since thou dost commune with the
spirits, find out from them how I can accomplish that."

The woman once more raised the crystal globe to the level of her
breast. With her elbows stretched out and her draperies falling
straight all around her, she gazed into it for a while in silence.
Then she began to murmur.

"I see the Scarlet Flower quite plainly... a small Scarlet Flower....
And I see the great Light which is like an aureole, the Light of the
Chosen One. It is of dazzling brightness--but over the Scarlet Flower
casts a Stygian shadow."

"Ask them," Robespierre broke in peremptorily, "ask thy spirits how
best I can overcome mine enemy."

"I see something," the witch went on in an even monotone, still gazing
into the crystal globe "white and rose and tender... is it a

"A woman?"

"She is tall, and she is beautiful... a stranger in the land... with
eyes dark as the night and tresses black as the raven's wing.... Yes,
it is a woman.... She stands between the Light and that blood-red
flower. She takes the flower in her hand... she fondles it, raises it
to her lips.... Ah!" and the old seer gave a loud cry of triumph. "She
tosses it mangled and bleeding into the consuming Light.... And now it
lies faded, torn, crushed, and the Light grows in radiance and in
brilliancy, and there is none now to dim its pristine glory-"

"But the woman? Who is she?" the man broke in impatiently. "What is
her name?"

"The spirits speak no names," the seer replied. "Any woman would
gladly be thy handmaid, O Elect of France! The spirits have spoken,"
she concluded solemnly. "Salvation will come to thee by the hand of a

"And mine enemy?" he insisted. "Which of us two is in danger of death
now--now that I am warned--which of us two?--mine English enemy, or

Nothing loth, the old hag was ready to continue her sortilege.
Robespierre hung breathless upon her lips. His whole personality
seemed transformed. He appeared eager, fearful, credulous--a different
man to the cold, calculating despot who sent thousands to their death
with his measured oratory, the mere power of his presence. Indeed,
history has sought in vain for the probably motive which drove this
cynical tyrant into consulting this pitiable charlatan. That Catherine
Thot had certain psychic powers has never been gainsaid, and since
the philosophers of the eighteenth century had undermined the
religious superstitions of the Middle Ages, it was only to be expected
that in the great upheaval of this awful Revolution, men and women
should turn to the mystic and the supernatural as to a solace and
respite from the fathomless misery of their daily lives.

In this world of ours, the more stupendous the events, the more
abysmal the catastrophes, the more do men realize their own impotence
and the more eagerly do they look for the Hidden Hand that is powerful
enough to bring about such events and to hurl upon them such
devastating cataclysms. Indeed, never since the dawn of history had so
many theosophies, demonologies, occult arts, spiritualism, exorcism of
all sorts, flourished as they did now: the Theists, the Rosicrucians,
the Illuminat, Swedenborg, the Count of Saint Germain, Weishaupt, and
scores of others, avowed charlatans or earnest believers, had their
neophytes, their devotees, and their cults.

Catherine Thot was one of many: for the nonce, one of the most
noteworthy in Paris. She believed herself to be endowed with the gift
of prophecy, and her fetish was Robespierre. In this at least she was
genuine. She believed him now to be a new Messiah, the Elect of God.
Nay! she loudly proclaimed him as such, and one of her earliest
neophytes, an ex-Carthusian monk named Gerle, who sat in the
Convention next to the great man, had whispered in the latter's ear
the insidious flattery which had gradually led his footsteps to the
witch's lair.

Whether his own vanity--which was without limit and probably without
parallel--caused him to believe in his own heaven-sent mission, or
whether he only desire to strengthen his own popularity by endowing it
with supernatural prestige, is a matter of conjecture. Certain it is
that he did lend himself to Catherine Thot's cabalistic practices and
that he allowed himself to be flattered and worshipped by the numerous
nepohytes who flocked to this new temple of magic, either from
mystical fevour or merely to serve their own ends by fawning on the
most dreaded man in France.


Catherine Thot had remained rigidly still, in rapt contemplation. It
seemed as if she pondered over the Chosen One's last peremptory

"Which of us two," he had queried, in a dry, hard voice, "is in danger
of death now--now that I am warned--mine English enemy, or I?"

The next moment, as if moved by inspiration, she took another pinch of
powder out of the metal box. The nigger's bright black eyes followed
her every movement, as did the dictator's half-contemptuous gaze. The
girls had begun to intone a monotonous chant. As the seer dropped the
powder into the metal bowl, a highly scented smoke shot upwards and
the interior of the vessel was suffused with a golden glow. The smoke
rose in spirals. Its fumes spread through the airless room, rendering
the atmosphere insufferably heavy.

The dictator of France felt a strange exultation running through him,
as with deep breaths he inhaled the potent fumes. It seemed to him as
if his body had suddenly become etherealized, as if he were in truth
the Chosen of the Most High as well as the idol of France. Thus
disembodied, he felt in himself boundless strength! the power to rise
triumphant over all his enemies, whoever they may be. There was a
mighty buzzing in his ears like the reverberation of thousands of
trumpets and drums ringing and beating in unison to his exaltation and
to his might. His eyes appeared to see the whole of the people of
France, clad in white robes, with ropes round their necks, and bowing
as slaves to the ground before him. He was riding on a cloud. His
throne was of gold. In his hand he had a sceptre of flame, and beneath
his feet lay, crushed and mangled, a huge scarlet flower. The sybil's
voice reached his ears as if through a surpernal trumpet:

"Thus lie for ever crushed at the feet of the Chosen One, those who
have dared to defy his power!"

Greater and greater became his exultation. He felt himself uplifted
high, high above the clouds, until he could see the world as a mere
crystal ball at his feet. His head had touched the portals of heaven;
his eyes gazed upon his own majesty, which was second only to that of
God. An eternity went by. He was immortal.

Then suddenly, through all the mystic music, the clarion sounds and
songs of praise, there came a sound, so strange and yet so human, that
the almighty dictator's wandering spirit was in an instant hurled back
to earth, brought down with a mighty jerk which left him giddy, sick,
with throat dry and burning eyes. He could not stand on his feet,
indeed would have fallen but that the negro had hastily pulled a chair
forward, into which he sank, swooning with unaccountable horror.

And yet that sound had been harmless enough: just a peal of laughter,
merry and inane--nothing more. It came faintly echoing form beyond the
heavy portire. Yet it had unnerved the most ruthless despot in
France. He looked about him, scared and mystified. Nothing had been
changed since he had gone wandering into Elysian fields. He was still
in a stuffy, curtained room; there was the dais on which he had sat;
the two women still chanted their weird lament; and there was the old
necromancer in her shapeless, colourless robe, coolly setting down the
crystal globe upon its carved stand. There was the blackamoor,
grinning and mischievous, the metal vessel, the oil lamp, the
threadbare carpet. What of all this had been a dream? The clouds and
the trumpets, or that peal of human laughter with the quaint, inane
catch in it? No one looked scared: the girls chanted, the old hag
mumbled vague directions to her black attendant, who tried to look
solemn, since he was paid to keep his impish mirth in check.

"What was that?" Robespierre murmured at last.

The old woman looked up.

"What was what, O Chosen One?" she asked.

"I heard a sound-" he mumbled. "A laugh... Is anyone else in the

She shrugged her shoulders.

"People are waiting in the antechamber," she replied carelessly,
"until it is the pleasure of the Chosen One to go. As a rule they wait
patiently, and in silence. But one of them may have laughed." Then, as
he made no further comment but still stood there silent, as if
irresolute, she queried with a great show of deference: "What is thy
next pleasure, O thou who art beloved of the people of France?"

"Nothing... nothing!" he murmured. "I'll go now."

She turned straight to him and made him elaborate obeisance, waving
her arms about her. The two girls struck the ground with their
foreheads. The Chosen One, in his innermost heart vaguely conscious of
ridicule, frowned impatiently.

"Do not," he said peremptorily, "let anyone know that I have been

"Only those who idolize thee-" she began.

"I know--I know," he broke in more gently, for the fulsome adulation
soothed his exacerbated nerves. "But I have many enemies... and thou
too art watched with malevolent eyes.... Let not our enemies make
capital of our intercourse."

"I swear to thee, O Mighty Lord, that thy servant obeys thy behests in
all things."

"That is well," he retorted drily. "But thy adepts are wont to talk
too much. I'll not have my name bandied about for the glorification of
thy necromancy."

"Thy name is sacred to thy servants," she insisted with ponderous
solemnity. "As sacred as is thy person. Thous art the regenerator of
the true faith, the Elect of the First Cause, the high priest of a new
religion. We are but thy servants, thy handmaids, thy worshippers."

All this charlatanism was precious incense to the limitless vanity of
the despot. His impatience vanished, as did his momentary terror. He
became kind, urbane, condescending. At the last, the old hag almost
prostrated herself before him, and clasping her wrinkled hands
together, she said in tones of reverential entreaty:

"In the name of thyself, of France, of the entire world, I adjure thee
to lend ear to what the spirits have revealed this day. Beware the
danger that comes to thee from the scarlet flower. Set thy almighty
mind to compass its destruction. Do not disdain a woman's help, since
the spirits have proclaimed that through a woman thou shalt be saved.
Remember! Remember!" she adjured him with ever-growing earnestness.
"Once before, the world was saved through a woman. A woman crushed the
serpent beneath her foot. Let a woman now crush that scarlet flower
beneath hers. Remember!"

She actually kissed his feet; and he, blinded by self-conceit to the
folly of this fetishism and the redicule of his own acceptance of it,
raised his hand above her head as if in the act of pronouncing a

Then without another word he turned to go. The young negro brought him
his hat and cloak. The latter he wrapped closely round his shoulders,
his hat he pulled down well over his eyes. Thus muffled and, he hoped,
unrecognizable, he passed with a firm tread out of the room.


For awhile the old witch waited, strainer her ears to catch the last
sound of those retreating footsteps; then, with a curt word and an
impatient clapping of her hands, she dismissed her attendants, the
negro as well as her neophytes. These young women at her word lost
quickly enough their air of rapt mysticism, became very human indeed,
stretched out their limbs, yawned lustily, and with none too graceful
movements uncurled themselves and struggled to their feet. Chattering
and laughing like so many magpies let out of a cage, they soon
disappeared through the door in the rear.

Again the old woman waited silent and motionless until that merry
sound too gradually subsided. Then she went across the room to the
dais, and drew aside the curtain which hung behind it.

"Citizen Chauvelin!" she called peremptorily.

A small figure of a man stepped out from the gloom. He was dressed in
black, his hair, of a nondescript blonde shade and his crumpled linen
alone told light in the general sombreness of his appearance.

"Well?" he retorted drily.

"Are you satisfied?" the old woman went on with eager impatience. "You
heard what I said?"

"Yes, I heard," he replied. "Think you he will act on it?"

"I am certain of it."

"But why not have named Theresia Cabarrus? Then, at least, I would
have been sure-"

"He might have recoiled at an actual name," the woman replied,
"suspected me of connivance. The Chosen of the people of France is
shrewd as well as distrustful. And I have my reputation to consider.
But, remember what I said: 'tall, dark, beautiful, a stranger in this
land!' So, if indeed you require the help of the Spaniard-"

"Indeed I do!" he rejoined earnestly. And, as if speaking to his own
inward self, "Theresia Cabarrus is the only woman I know who can
really help me."

"But you cannot force her consent, citizen Chauvelin," the sybil

The eyes of citizen Chauvelin lit up suddenly with a flash of that old
fire of long ago, when he was powerful enough to compel the consent or
the co-operation of any man, woman or child on whom he had deigned to
cast an appraising glance. But the flash was only momentary. The next
second he had once more resumed his unobtrusive, even humbled,

"My friends, who are few," he said, with a quick sigh of impatience;
"and mine enemies, who are without number, will readily share your
conviction, Mother, that citizen Chauvelin can compel no one to do his
bidding these days. Least of all the affianced wife of powerful

"Well, then," the sybil argued, "how think you that-"

"I only hope, Mother," Chauvelin broke in suavely, "that after your
sance to-day, citizen Robespierre himself will see to it that
Theresia Cabarrus gives me the help I need."

Catherine Thot shrugged her shoulders.

"Oh!" she said drily, "the Cabarrus knows no law save that of her
caprice. And as Tallien's fiance she is almost immune."

"Almost, but not quite! Tallien is powerful, but so was Danton."

"But Tallien is prudent, which Danton was not."

"Tallien is also a coward; and easily led like a lamb, with a halter.
He came back from Bordeaux tied to the apron-strings of the fair
Spaniard. He should have spread fire and terror in the region; but at
her bidding he dispensed justice and even mercy instead. A little more
airing of his moderate views, a few more acts of unpatriotic clemeney,
and powerful Tallien himself may become 'suspect.'"

"And you think that, when he is," the old woman rejoined with grim
sarcasm, "you will hold his fair betrothed in the hollow of your

"Certainly!" he assented, and with an acid smile fell to contemplating
his thin, talon-like palms. "Since Robespierre, counselled by Mother
Thot, will himself have placed her there."

Whereupon Catherine Thot ceased to argue, since the other appeared so
sure of himself. Once more she shrugged her shoulders.

"Well, then, if you are satisfied..." she said.

"I am. Quite," he replied, and at once plunged his hand in the breast-
pocket of his coat. He had caught the look of avarice and of greed
which had glittered in the old hag's eyes. From his pocket he drew a
bundle of notes, for which Catherine immediately stretched out a
grasping hand. But before giving her the money, he added a stern

"Silence, remember! And, above all, discretion!"

"You may rely on me, citizen," the sybil riposted quietly. "I am not
likely to blab."

He did not place the notes in her hand, but threw them down on the
table with a gesture of contempt, without deigning to count. But
Catherine Thot cared nothing for his contempt. She coolly picked up
the notes and hid them in the folds of her voluminous draperies. Then
as Chauvelin, without another word, had turned unceremoniously to go,
she placed a bony hand upon his arm.

"And I can rely on you, citizen," she insisted firmly, "that when the
Scarlet Pimpernel is duly captured..."

"There will be ten thousand livres for you," he broke in impatiently,
"if my scheme with Theresia Cabarrus is successful. I never go back on
my word."

"And I'll not go back on mine," she concluded drily. "We are dependent
on one another, citizen Chauvelin. You want to capture the English
spy, and I want ten thousand livres, so that I may retire from active
life and quietly cultivate a plot of cabbages somewhere in the
sunshine. So you may leave the matter to me, my friend. I'll not allow
the great Robespierre to rest till he has compelled Theresia Cabarrus
to do your bidding. Then you may use her as you think best. That gang
of English spies must be found, and crushed. We cannot have the Chosen
of the Most High threatened by such vermin. Ten thousand livres, you
say?" the sybil went on, and once again, as in the presence of the
dictator, a mystic exultation appeared to possess her soul. Gone was
the glitter of avarice from her eyes; her wizened face seem
transfigured, her shrunken form to gain in stature. "Nay! I would
serve you on my knees and accord you worship, if you avert the scarlet
danger that hovers over the head of the Beloved of France!"

But Chauvelin was obviously in no mood to listen to the old hag's
jeremiads, and while with arms uplifted she once more worked herself
up to a hysterical burst of enthusiasm for the bloodthirsty monster
whom she worshipped, he shook himself free from her grasp and finally
slipped out of the room, without further wasting his breath.


The Fellowship of Grief


In the antechamber of Catherine Thot's abode of mysteries some two
hours later, half a dozen persons were sitting. The room was long,
narrow and bare, its walls dank and colourless, and save for the rough
wooden benches on which these person sat, was void of any furniture.
The benches were ranged against the walls; the one window at the end
was shuttered as to exclude all daylight, and from the ceiling there
hung a broken-down wrought-iron chandelier, wherein a couple of
lighted tallow candles were set, the smoke from which rose in
irregular spirals upwards to the low and blackened ceiling.

These persons who sat or sprawled upon the benches did not speak to
one another. They appeared to be waiting. One or two of them were
seemingly asleep; others, from time to time, would rouse themselves
from their apathy, look with dim, inquiring eyes in the direction of a
heavy portire. When this subsided again all those in the bare
waiting-room resumed their patient, lethargic attitude, and a
silence--weird and absolute--reigned once more over them all. Now and
then somebody would sigh, and at one time one of the sleepers snored.

Far away a church clock struck six.


A few minutes later, the portire was lifted, and a girl came into the
room. She held a shawl, very much the worse for wear, tightly wrapped
around her meagre shoulders, and from beneath her rough wollen skirt
her small feet appeared clad in well-worn shoes and darned worsted
stockings. Her hair, which was fair and soft, was partially hidden
under a white muslin cap, and as she walked with a brisk step across
the room, she looked neither to right nor left, appeared to move as in
a dream. And her large grey eyes were brimming over with tears.

Neither her rapid passage across the room nor her exit through a door
immediately opposite the window created the slightest stir amongst
those who were waiting. Only one of the men, a huge ungainly giant,
whose long limbs appeared to stretch half-across the bare wooden
floor, looked up lazily as she passed.

After the girl had gone, silence once more fell on the small assembly.
Not a sound came from behind the portire; but from beyond the other
door the faint patter of the girl's feet could be heard gradually
fading away as she went slowly down the stone stairs.

A few more minutes went by, then the door behind the portire was
opened and a cadaverous voice spoke the word, "Enter!"

There was a faint stir among those who waited. A woman rose from her
seat, said dully: "My turn, I think?" and, gliding across the room
like some bodiless spectre, she presently vanished behind the

"Are you going to the Fraternal Supper to-night, citizen Langlois?"
the giant said, after the woman had gone. His tone was rasping and
harsh and his voice came with a wheeze and an obviously painful effort
from his broad, doubled-up chest.

"Not I!" Langlois replied. "I must speak with Mother Thot. My wife
made me promise. She is too ill to come herself, and the poor
unfortunate believes in the Thot's incantations."

"Come out and get some fresh air, then," the other rejoined. "It is
stifling in here!"

It was indeed stuffy in the dark, smoke-laden room. The man put his
bony hand up to his chest, as if to quell a spasm of pain. A horrible,
rasping cough shook his big body and brought a sweat to his brow.
Langlois, a wizened little figure of a man, who looked himself as if
he had one foot in the grave, waited patiently until the spasm was
over, then, with the indifference peculiar to these turbulent times,
he said lightly:

"I would just as soon sit here as wear out shoe-leather on the
cobblestones of this God-forsaken hole. And I don't want to miss my
turn with mother Thot."

"You'll have another four hours mayhap to wait in this filthy

"What an aristo you are, citizen Rateau!" the other retorted drily.
"Always talking about the atmosphere!"

"So would you, if you had only one lung wherewith to inhale this
filth," growled the giant through a wheeze.

"Then don't wait for me, my friend," Langlois concluded with a
careless shrug of his narrow shoulders. "And, if you don't mind
missing your turn...."

"I do not," was Rateau's curt reply. "I would as soon be last as not.
But I'll come back presently. I am the third from now. If I'm not back
you can have my turn, and I'll follow you in. But I can't-"

His next words were smothered in a terrible fit of coughing, as he
struggled to his feet. Langlois swore at him for making such a noise,
and the women, roused from their somnolence, sigh with impatience or
resignation. But all those who remained seated on the benches watched
with a kind of dull curiosity the ungainly figure of the asthmatic
giant as he made his way across the room and anon went out through the

His heavy footsteps were heard descending the stone stairs with a
shuffling sound, and the clatter of his wooden shoes. The women once
more settled themselves against the dank walls, with feet stretched
out before them and arms folded over their breasts, and in that highly
uncomfortable position prepared once more to go to sleep.

Langlois buried his hands in the pockets of his breeches, spat
contentedly upon the floor, and continued to wait.


In the meanwhile, the girl who, with tear-filled eyes, had come out of
the inner mysterious room in Mother Thot's apartments, had, after a
slow descent down the interminable stone stairs, at last reached the
open air.

The Rue de la Planchette is only a street in name, for the houses in
it are few and far between. One side of it is taken up for the major
portion of its length by the dry moat which at this point forms the
boundary of the Arsenal and of the military ground around the
Bastille. The house wherein lodged Mother Thot is one of a small
group situated behind the Bastille, the grim ruins of which can be
distinctly seen from the upper windows. Immediately facing those
houses is the Porte St. Antoine, through which the wayfarer in this
remote quarter of Paris has to pass in order to reach the more
populous parts of the city. This is just a lonely and squalid
backwater, broken up by undeveloped land and timber yards. One end of
the street abuts on the river, the other becomes merged in the equally
remote suburb of Popincourt.

But, for the girl who had just come out of the heavy, fetid atmosphere
of Mother Thot's lodgings, the air which reached her nostrils as she
came out of the wicket-gate, was positive manna to her lungs. She
stood for awhile quite still, drinking in the balmy spring air, almost
dizzy with the sensation of purity and of freedom which came to her
from over the vast stretch of open ground occupied by the Arsenal. For
a minute or two she stood there, then walked deliberately in the
direction of the Porte St. Antoine.

She was very tired, for she had come to the Rue de la Planchette on
foot all the way from the small apartment in the St. Germain quarter,
where she lodged with her mother and sister and a young brother; she
had become weary and jaded by sitting for hours on a hard wooden
bench, waiting her turn to speak with Mother Thot, and then standing
for what seemed an eternity of time in the presence of the soothsayer,
who had further harassed her nerves by weird prophecies and mystic

But for the nonce weariness was forgotten. Rgine de Serval was going
to meet the man she loved, at a trysting-place which they had marked
as their own: the porch of the church of Petit St. Antoine, a secluded
spot where neither prying eyes could see them nor ears listen to what
they had to say. A spot which to poor little Rgine was the very
threshold of Paradise, for here she had Bertrand all to herself,
undisturbed by the prattle of Josphine or Jacques or the querulous
complaints of maman, cooped up in that miserable apartment in the old
St. Germain quarter of the city.

So she walked briskly and without hesitation. Bertrand had agreed to
meet her at five o'clock. It was now close on half-past six. It was
still daylight, and a brilliant April sunset tinged the cupola of Ste.
Marie with gold and drew long fantastic shadows across the wide Rue
St. Antoine.

Rgine had crossed the Rue des Balais, and the church porch of Petit
St. Antoine was bust a few paces farther on, when she became conscious
of heavy, dragging footsteps some little way behind her. Immediately
afterwards, the distressing sound of a racking cough reached her ears,
followed by heartrending groans as of a human creature in grievous
bodily pain. The girl, not in the least frightened, instinctively
turned to look, and was moved to pity on seeing a man leaning against
the wall of a house, in a state bordering on collapse, his hands
convulsively grasping his chest, which appeared literally torn by a
violent fit of coughing. Forgetting her own troubles, as well as the
joy which awaited her so close at hand, Rgine unhesitatingly
recrossed the road, approached the sufferer, and in a gentle voice
asked him if she could be of any assistance to him in his distress.

"A little water," he gasped, "for mercy's sake!"

Just for a second or two she looked about her, doubtful as to what to
do, hoping perhaps to catch sight of Bertrand, if he had not given up
all hope of meeting her. The next, she had stepped boldly through the
wicket-gate of the nearest porte-cochre, and finding her way to the
lodge of the concierge, she asked for a drop of water for a passer-by
who was in pain. A jug of water was at once handed to her by a
sympathetic concierge, and with it she went back to complete her
simple act of mercy.

For a moment she was puzzled, not seeing the poor vagabond there,
where she had left him half-swooning against the wall. But soon she
spied him, in the very act of turning under the little church porch of
Petit St. Antoine, the hallowed spot of her frequent meetings with


He seemed to have crawled there for shelter, and there he collapsed
upon the wooden bench, in the most remote angle of the porch. Of
Bertrand there was not a sign.

Rgine was soon by the side of the unfortunate. She held up the jug of
water to his quaking lips, and he drank eagerly. After that he felt
better, muttered vague words of thanks. But he seemed so weak, despite
his stature, which appeared immense in this narrow enclosure, that she
did not like to leave him. She sat down beside him, suddenly conscious
of fatigue. He seemed harmless enough, and after awhile began to tell
her of his trouble. This awful asthma, which he had contracted in the
campaign against the English in Holland, where he and his comrades had
to march in snow and ice, often shoeless and with nothing but bass
mats around their shoulders. He had but lately been discharged out of
the army as totally unfit, and he had no money wherewith to pay a
doctor, he would no doubt have been dead by now but that a comrade had
spoken to him of Mother Thot, a marvellous sorceress, who knew the
art of drugs and simples, and could cure all ailments of the body by
the mere laying on of hands.

"Ah, yes," the girl sighed involuntarily, "of the body!"

Through the very act of sitting still, a deadly lassitude had crept
into her limbs. She was thankful not to move, to say little, and to
listen with half an ear to the vagabond's jeremiads. Anyhow, she was
sure that Bertrand would no longer be waiting. He was ever impatient
if he thought that she failed him in anything, and it was she who had
appointed five o'clock for their meeting. Even now the church clock
way above the porch was striking half-past six. And the asthmatic
giant went glibly on. He had partially recovered his breath.

"Aye!" he was saying, in response to her lament, "and of the mind,
too. I had a comrade whose sweetheart was false to him while he was
fighting for his country. Mother Thot gave him a potion which he
administered to the faithless one, and she returned to him as full of
ardour as ever before."

"I have no faith in potions," the girl said, and shook her head sadly
the while tears once more gathered in her eyes.

"No more have I," the giant assented carelessly. "But if my sweetheart
was false to me I know what I would do."

This he said in so droll a fashion, and the whole idea of this ugly,
ungainly creature having a sweetheart was so comical, that despite her
will, the ghost of a smile crept round the young girl's sensitive

"What would you do, citizen?" she queried gently.

"Just take her away, out of the reach of temptation," he replied
sententiously. "I should say, 'This must stop,' and 'You come away
with me, ma mie!'"

"Ah!" she retorted impulsively, "it is easy to talk. A man can do so
much. What can a woman do?"

She checked herself abruptly, ashamed of having said so much. What was
this miserable caitiff to her that she should as much as hint her
troubles in his hearing? In these days of countless spies, of
innumerable confidence tricks set to catch the unwary, it was more
than foolhardy to speak of one's private affairs to any stranger, let
alone to an out-at-elbows vagabond who was just the sort of refuse of
humanity who would earn a precarious livelihood by the sale of
information, true or false, wormed out of some innocent fellow-
creature. Hardly, then, were the words out of her mouth than the girl
repented of her folly, turned quick, frightened eyes on the abject
creature beside her.

But he appeared not to have heard. A wheezy cough came out of his bony
chest. Nor did he meet her terrified gaze.

"What did you say, citoyenne?" he muttered fretfully. "Are you
dreaming?... or what?..."

"Yes--yes!" she murmured vaguely, her heart still beating with that
sudden fright. "I must have been dreaming.... But you... you are

"Better? Perhaps," he replied, with a hoarse laugh. "I might even be
able to crawl home."

"Do you live very far?" she asked.

"No. Just by the Rue de l'Anier."

He made no attempt to thank her for her gentle ministration, and she
thought of how ungainly he looked--almost repellent--sprawling right
across the porch, with his long legs stretched out before him and his
hands buried in the pockets of his breeches. Nevertheless, he looked
so helpless and so pitiable that the girl's kind heart was again
stirred with compassion, and when presently he struggled with
difficulty to his feet, she said impulsively:

"The Rue de l'Anier is on my way. If you will wait, I'll return the
jug to the kind concierge who let me have it and I'll walk with you.
You really ought not to be about the street alone."

"Oh, I am better now," he muttered, in the same ungracious way. "You
had best leave me alone. I am not a suitable gallant for a pretty
wench like you."

But already the girl had tripped away with the jug, and returned two
minutes later to find that the curious creature had already started on
his way and was fifty yards or more farther up the street by now. She
shrugged her shoulders, feeling mortified at his ingratitude, and not
a little ashamed that she had forced her compassion where it was so
obviously unwelcome.


One Dram of Joy must have a Pound of Care


She stood for a moment, gazing mechanically on the retreating figure
of the asthmatic giant. The next moment she heard her name spoken, and
turned quickly with a little cry of joy.


A young man was hurrying towards her, was soon by her side and took
her hand.

"I have been waiting," he said reproachfully, "for more than an hour."

In the twilight his face appeared pinched and pale, with dark, deep-
sunken eyes that told of a troubled soul and a consuming, inward fire.
He wore cloth clothes that were very much the worse for wear, and
boots that were down at hell. A battered tricorne hat was pushed back
from his high forehead, exposing the veined temples with the line of
brown hair, and the arched, intellectual brows that proclaimed the
enthusiast rather than the man of action.

"I am sorry, Bertrand," the girl said simply. "But I had to wait such
a long time at Mother Thot's, and-"

"But what were you doing now?" he queried with an impatient frown. "I
saw you from a distance. You came out of yonder house, and then stood
here like one bewildered. You did not hear when first I called."

"I have had quite a funny adventure," Rgine explained; "and I am very
tired. Sit down with me, Bertrand, for a moment. I'll tell you all
about it."

A flat refusal hovered palpably on his lips.

"It is too late-" he began, and the frown of impatience deepened upon
his brow. He tried to protest, but Rgine did look very tired.
Already, without waiting for his consent, she had turned into the
little porch, and Bertrand perforce had to follow her.

The shades of evening now were fast gathering in, and the lengthened
shadows stretched out away, right across the street. The last rays of
the sinking sun still tinged the roofs and chimney pots opposite with
a crimson hue. But here, in the hallowed little trysting-place, the
kingdom of night had already established its sway. The darkness lent
an air of solitude and of security to this tiny refuge, and Rgine
drew a happy little sigh as she walked deliberately to its farthermost
recess and sat down on the wooden bench in it extreme and darkest

Behind her, the heavy oaken door of the church was closed. The church
itself, owning to the contumaciousness of its parish priest, had been
desecrated by the ruthless hands of the Terrorists and left derelict,
to fall into decay. The stone walls themselves appeared cut off from
the world, as if ostracized. But between them Rgine felt safe, and
when Bertrand Moncrif somewhat reluctantly sat down beside her, she
also felt almost happy.

"It is very late," he murmured once more, ungraciously.

She was leaning her head against the wall, looked so pale, with eyes
closed and bloodless lips, that the young man's heart was suddenly
filled with compunction.

"You are not ill, Rgine?" he asked, more gently.

"No," she replied, and smiled bravely up at him. "Only very tired and
a little dizzy. The atmosphere in Catherine Thot's rooms was
stifling, and then when I came out-"

He took her hand, obviously making an effort to be patient and to be
kind; and she, not noticing the effort or his absorption, began to
tell him about her little adventure with the asthmatic giant.

"Such a droll creature," she explained. "He would have frightened me
but for that awful, churchyard cough."

But the matter did not seem to interest Bertrand very much; and
presently he took advantage of a pause in her narrative to ask

"And Mother Thot, what had she to say?"

Rgine gave a shudder.

"She foretells danger for us all," she said.

"The old charlatan!" he retorted with a shrug of the shoulders. "As if
every one was not in danger these days!"

"She gave me a powder," Rgine went on simply, "which she thinks will
calm Josphine's nerves."

"And that is folly," he broke in harshly. "We do not want Josphine's
nerves to be calmed."

But at his words, which in truth sounded almost cruel, Rgine roused
herself with a sudden air of authority.

"Bertrand," she said firmly, "you are doing a great wrong by dragging
the child into your schemes. Josphine is too young to be used as a
tool by a pack of thoughtless enthusiasts."

A bitter, scornful laugh from Bertrand broke in on her vehemence.

"Thoughtless enthusiasts!" he exclaimed roughly. "Is that how you call
us, Rgine? My God! where is your loyalty, your devotion? Have you no
faith, no aspirations? Do you no longer worship God or reverence your

"In heaven's name, Bertrand, take care!" she whispered hoarsely,
looked about her as if the stone walls of the porch had ears and eyes
fixed upon the man she loved.

"Take care!" he rejoined bitterly. "Yes! that is your creed now.
Caution! Circumspection! You fear-"

"For you," she broke in reproachfully; "for Josphine; for maman; for
Jacques--not for myself, God knows!"

"We must all take risks, Rgine," he retorted more composedly. "We
must all risk our miserable lives in order to end this awful,
revolting tyranny. We must have a wider outlook, think not only of
ourselves, of those immediately round us, but of France, of humanity,
of the entire world. The despotism of a bloodthirsty autocrat has made
of the people of France a people of slaves, cringing, fearful,
abject--swayed by his word, too cowardly now to rebel."

"And what are you? My God!" she cried passionately. "You and your
friends, my poor young sister, my foolish little brother? What are
you, that you think you can stem to torrent of this stupendous
Revolution? How think you that your feeble voices will be heard above
the roar of a whole nation in the throws of misery and of shame?"

"It is the still small voice," Bertrand replied, in the tone of a
visionary, who sees mysteries and who dreams dreams, "that is heard by
its persistence even above the fury of thousands in full cry. Do we
not call our organization 'the Fatalists'? Our aim is to take every
opportunity by quick, short speeches, by mixing with the crowd and
putting in a word here and there, to make propaganda against the fiend
Robespierre. The populace are like sheep; they'll follow a lead. One
day, one of us--it may be the humblest, the weakest, the youngest; it
may be Josphine or Jacques; I pray God it may be me--but one of us
will find the word and speak it at the right time, and the people will
follow us and turn against that execrable monster and hurl him from
his throne, down into Gehenna."

He spoke below his breath, in a hoarse whisper which even she had to
strain her ears to hear.

"I know, I know, Bertrand," she rejoined, and her tiny hand stole out
in a pathetic endeavour to capture his. "Your aims are splendid. You
are wonderful, all of you. Who am I, that I should even with a word or
a prayer, try to dissuade you to do what you think is right? But
Josphine is so young, so hot-headed! What help can she give you? She
is only seventeen. And Jacques! He is just an irresponsible boy!
Think, Bertrand, think! If anything were to happen to these children,
it would kill maman!"

He gave a shrug of the shoulders and smothered a weary sigh. She had
succeeded in capturing his hand, clung to it with the strength of a
passionate appeal.

"You and I will never understand one another, Rgine," he began; then
added quickly, "over these matters," because, following on his cruel
words, he had heard the tiny cry of pain, so like that of a wounded
bird, which much against her will had escaped her lips. "You do not
understand," he went on, more quietly, "that in a great cause the
sufferings of individuals are nought beside the glorious achievement
that is in view."

"The sufferings of individuals," she murmured, with a pathetic little
sigh. "In truth 'tis but little heed you pay, Bertrand, to my
sufferings these days." She paused awhile, then added under her
breath: "Since first you met Theresia Cabarrus, three months ago, you
have eyes and ears only for her."

He smothered an angry exclamation.

"It is useless, Rgine-" he began.

"I know," she broke in quietly. "Theresia Cabarrus is beautiful; she
has charm, wit, power--all things which I do not possess."

"She has fearlessness and a heart of gold," Bertrand rejoined and,
probably despite himself, a sudden warmth crept into his voice. "Do
you not know of the marvellous influence which she exercised over that
fiend Tallien, down in Bordeaux? He went there filled with a veritable
tiger's fury, ready for a wholesale butchery of all the royalists, the
aristocrats, the bourgeois, over there--all those, in fact, whom he
chose to believe were conspiring against this hideous Revolution.
Well! under Theresia's influence he actually modified his views and
became so lenient that he was recalled. You know, or should know,
Rgine," the young man added in a tone of bitter reproach, "that
Theresia is as good as she is beautiful."

"I do know that, Bertrand," the girl rejoined with an effort. "Only-"

"Only what?" he queried roughly.

"I do not trust her... that is all." Then, as he made no attempt at
concealing his scorn and his impatience, she went on in a tone which
was much harsher, more uncompromising than the one she had adopted
hitherto: "your infatuation blinds you, Bertrand, or you--an
enthusiastic royalist, an ardent loyalist--would not place your trust
in an avowed Republican. Theresia Cabarrus may be kind-hearted--I
don't deny it. She may have done and she may be all that you say; but
she stands for the negation of every one of your ideals, for the
destruction of what you exalt, the glorification of the principles of
this execrable Revolution."

"Jealousy blinds you, Rgine," he retorted moodily.

She shook her head.

"No, it is not jealousy, Bertrand--not common, vulgar jealousy--that
prompts me to warn you, before it is too late. Remember," she added
solemnly, "that you have not only yourself to think of, but that you
are accountable to God and to me for the innocent lives of Josphine
and of Jacques. By confiding in that Spanish woman-"

"Now you are insulting her," he broke in mercilessly. "Making her out
to be a spy."

"What else is she?" the girl riposted vehemently. "You know that she
is affianced to Tallien, whose influence and whose cruelty are second
only to those of Robespierre. You know it, Bertrand!" she insisted,
seeing that at last she had silenced him and that he sat beside her,
sullen and obstinate. "You know it, even though you choose to close
your eyes and ears to what is common knowledge."

There was silence after that for a while in the narrow porch, where
two hearts once united were filled now with bitterness, one against
the other. Even out in the street it had become quite dark, the
darkness of a spring night, full of mysterious lights and grey,
indeterminate shadows. The girl shivered as with cold and drew her
tattered shawl more closely round her shoulders. She was vainly trying
to swallow her tears. Goaded into saying more than she had ever meant
to, she felt the finality of what she had said. Something had finally
snapped just now: something that could never in after years be put
together again. The boy and girl love which had survived the past two
years of trouble and of stress, lay wounded unto death, bleeding at
the foot of the shrine of a man's infatuation and a woman's vanity.
How impossible this would have seemed but a brief while ago!

Through the darkness, swift visions of past happy times came fleeting
before the girl's tear-dimmed gaze: visions of walks in the woods
round Auteuil, of drifting down-stream in a boat on the Seine on hot
August days--aye! even of danger shared and perilous moments passed
together, hand in hand, with bated breath, in darkened rooms, with
curtains drawn and ears straining to hear the distant cannonade, the
shouts of an infuriated populace or the rattle of death carts upon the
cobblestones. Swift visions of past sorrows and past joys! An immense
self-pity filled the girl's heart to bursting. An insistent sob that
would not be suppressed rose to her throat.

"Oh, Mother of God, have mercy!" she murmured through her tears.

Bertrand, shamed and confused, his heart stirred by the misery of this
girl whom he had so dearly loved, his nerves strained beyond endurance
through the many mad schemes which his enthusiasm was for ever
evolving, felt like a creature on the rack, torn between compunction
and remorse on the one hand and irresistible passion on the other.

"Rgine," he pleaded, "forgive me! I am a brute, I know--a brute to
you, who have been the kindest little friend a man could possibly hope
for. Oh, my dear," he added pitiably, "if you would only

At once her tender, womanly sentiment was to the fore, sweeping pride
and just resentment out of the way. Hers was one of those motherly
natures that are always more ready to comfort than to chide. Already
she had swallowed her tears, and now that with a wearied gesture he
had buried his face in his hands, she put her arm around his neck,
pillowed his head against her breast.

"I do understand, Bertrand," she said gently. "And you must never ask
my forgiveness, for you and I have loved one another too well to bear
anger or grudge one toward the other. There!" she said, and rose to
her feet, and seemed by that sudden act to gather up all the moral
strength of which she stood in such sore need. "It is getting late,
and maman will be anxious. Another time we must have a more quiet talk
about our future. But," she added, with renewed seriousness, "if I
concede you Theresia Cabarrus without another murmur, you must give me
back Josphine and Jacques, If--if I--am to lose you--I could not bear
to lose them as well. They are so young...."

"Who talks of losing them?" he broke in, once more impatient,
enthusiastic--his moodiness gone, his remorse smothered, his
conscience dead to all save to his schemes. "And what have I to do
with it all? Josphine and Jacques are members of the Club. They may
be young, but they are old enough to know the value of an oath. They
are pledged just like I am, just like we all are. I could not, even if
I would, make them false to their oath." Then, as she made no reply,
he leaned over to her, took her hands in his, tried to read her
inscrutable face through the shadows of night. He thought that he read
obstinacy in her rigid attitude, the unresponsive placidity of her
hands. "You would not have them false to their oath?" he insisted.

She made no reply to that, only queried dully:

"What are you going to do to-night?"

"To-night," he said with passionate earnestness, his eyes glowing with
the fervid adour of self-immolation, "we are going to let hell loose
around the name of Robespierre."


"At the open-air supper in the Rue St. Honor. Josphine and Jacques
will be there."

She nodded mechanically, quietly disengaged her hands from his
feverish grasp.

"I know," she said quietly. "They told me they were going. I have no
influence to stop them."

"You will be there, too?" he asked.

"Of course. So will poor maman," she replied simply.

"This may be the turning point, Rgine," he said with passionate
earnestness, "in the history of France!"


"Think if it, Rgine! Think o fit! Your sister, your young brother!
Their name may go down to posterity as the saviours of France!"

"The saviours of France!" she murmured vaguely.

"One word has swayed a multitude before now. It may do so again... to-

"Yes," she said. "And those poor children believe in the power of
their oratory."

"Do not you?"

"I only remember that you, Bertrand, have probably spoken of your plan
to Theresia Cabarrus, that the place will be swarming with the spies
of Robespierre, and that you and the children will be recognized,
seized, dragged into prison, then to the guillotine! My God!" she
added, in a pitiful murmur. "And I am powerless to do anything but
look on like an insentient log, whilst you run your rash heads into a
noose, and then follow you all to death, whilst maman is left alone to
perish in misery and in want."

"A pessimist again, Rgine!" he said with a forced laugh, and in his
turn rose to his feet. "'Tis little we have accomplished this
evening," he added bitterly, "by talking."

She said nothing more. An icy chill had hold of her heart. Not only of
her heart, but of her brain and her whole being. Strive as she might,
she could not enter into Bertrand's schemes, and as his whole entity
was wrapped up in them she felt estranged from him, out of touch, shut
out from his heart. Unspeakable bitterness filled her soul. She hated
Theresia Cabarrus, who had enslaved Bertrand's fancy, and above all
she mistrusted her. At this moment she would gladly have given her
life to get Bertrand away from the influence of that woman and away
from that madcap association which called itself "the Fatalists," and
into which he had dragged both Josphine and Jacques.

Silently she preceded him out of the little church porch, the habitual
trysting-place, where at one time she had spent so many happy hours.
Just before she turned off into the street, she looked back, as if
through the impenetrable darkness which enveloped it now she would
conjure up, just once more, those happy images of the past, but the
darkness made no response to the mute cry of her fancy, and with a
last sigh of intense bitterness, she followed Bertrand down the


Less than five minutes after Bertrand and Rgine had left the porch of
Petit St. Antoine, the heavy oak door of the church was cautiously
opened. It moved noiselessly upon its hinges, and presently through
the aperture the figure of a man emerged, hardly discernible in the
gloom. He slipped through the door into the porch, then closed the
former noiselessly behind him.

A moment or two later his huge, bulky figure was lumbering up the Rue
St. Antoine, in the direction of the Arsenal, his down-at-heel shoes
making a dull clip-clop on the cobblestones. There were but very few
passers-by at this hour, and the man went along with his peculiar
shuffling gaint until he reached the Porte St. Antoine. The city gates
were still open at this hour, for it was only a little while ago that
the many church clocks of the quartier had struck eight, nor did the
sergeant at the gate pay much heed to the beggarly caitiff who went
by; only he and the half-dozen men of the National Guard who were in
charge of the gate, did remark that the belated wayfarer appeared to
be in distress with a terrible asthmatic cough which caused one of the
men to say with grim facetiousness:

"Pardi! but here's a man who will not give maman guillotine any

They all noticed, moreover, that after the asthmatic giant had passed
through the city gate, he turned his shuffling footsteps in the
direction of the Rue de la Planchette.


Rascality Rejoices


The Fraternal Suppers were a great success. They were the invention of
Robespierre, and the unusual warmth of these early spring evenings
lent the support of their balmy atmosphere to the scheme.

Whole Paris is out in the streets on these mild April nights. Families
out on a holiday, after the daily spectacle of the death-cart taking
the enemies of the people, the conspirators against their liberty, to
the guillotine.

And maman brings a basket filled with whatever scanty provisions she
can save from the maximum per day allowed for the provisioning of her
family. Beside her, papa comes along, dragging his youngest by the
hand--the latter no longer chubby and rosy, as were his prototypes in
the days gone by, because food is scarce and dear, and milk
unobtainable; but looking a man for all that, though bare-footed and
bare-kneed, with the red cap upon his lank, unwashed locks, and
hugging against his meagre chest a tiny toy guillotine, the latest
popular fancy, all complete with miniature knife and pulleys, and
frame artistically painted a vivid crimson.

The Rue St. Honor is a typical example of what goes on all over the
city. Though it is very narrow and therefore peculiarly inconvenient
for the holding of outdoor entertainments, the Fraternal Suppers there
are extensively patronized, because the street itself is consecrated
as holding the house wherein lives Robespierre.

Here, as elsewhere, huge braziers are lit at intervals, so that
materfamilias may cook the few herrings she has brought with her if
she be so minded, and all down the narrow street tables are set,
innocent of cloths or even of that cleanliness which is next to the
equally neglected virtue of godliness. But the tables have an air of
cheeriness nevertheless, with resin torches, tallow candles, or old
stable lanthorns set here and there, the flames flickering in the
gentle breeze, adding picturesqueness to the scene which might
otherwise have seemed sordid, with those pewter mugs and tin plates,
the horn-handled knives and iron spoons.

The scanty light does little more than accentuate the darkness around,
the deep shadows under projecting balconies or lintels of portes-
cochres carefully closed and barred for the night; but it glints with
weird willo'-the-wisp-like fitfulness on crimson caps and tricolour
cockades, on drawn and begrimed faces, bony arms, or lean, brown

A motley throng, in truth! The workers of Paris, its proletariat, all
conscripted servants of the State--slaves, we might call them, though
they deem themselves free men--all driven into hard manual labour,
partly by starvation and wholly by the decree of the Committees, who
decide how and when and in what form the nation requires the arms or
hands--not the brains, mind you!--of its citizens. For brains the
nation has no use, only in the heads of those who sit in Convention of
on Committees. "The State hath no use for science," was grimly said to
Lavoisier, the great chemist, when he begged for a few days' surcease
from death in order to complete some important experiments.

But coal-heavers are useful citizens of the State; so are smiths and
armourers and gunmakers, and those who can sew and knit stockings, do
anything in fact to clothe and feed the national army, the defenders
of the sacred soil of France. For them, for those workers--the honest,
the industrious, the sober--are the Fraternal Suppers invented; but
not for them only. There are the "tricotteuses," sexless hags, who, by
order of the State, sit at the foot of the scaffold surrounded by
their families and their children and knit, and knit, the while they
jeer--still by order of the State--at the condemned--old men, young
women, children even, as they walk up to the guillotine. There are the
"insulteuses publiques," public insulters, women mostly--save the
mark!--paid to howl and blaspheme as the death-carts rattle by. There
are the "tappe-durs," the hit-hards, who, armed with weighted sticks,
form the body-guard around the sacred person of Robespierre. Then, the
members of the Socit Rvolutionnaire, recruited from the refuse of
misery and of degradation of this great city; and--oh, the horror of
it all!--the "Enfants Rouges," the red children, who cry "Death" and
" la lanterne" with the best of them--precocious little offsprings of
the new Republic. For them, too, are the Fraternal Suppers
established: for all the riff-raff, all the sweepings of abject
humanity. For they too must be amused and entertained, lest they sit
in clusters and talk themselves into the belief that they are more
wretched, more indigent, more abased, than they were in the days of
monarchical oppression.


And so, on these balmy evenings of mid-April, family parties are
gathered in the open air, around meagre suppers that are "fraternal"
by order of the State. Family parties which make for camaraderie
between the honest man and the thief, the sober citizen and the
homeless vagabond, and help one to forget awhile the misery, the
starvation, the slavery, the daily struggle for bare existence, in
anticipation of the belated Millennium.

There is even laughter around the festive boards, fun and frolic.
jokes are cracked, mostly of a grim order. There is intoxication in
the air: spring has got into the heads of the young. And there is even
kissing under the shadows, love-making, sentiment; and here and there
perhaps a shred of real happiness.

The provisions are scanty. Every family brings its own. Two or three
herrings, sprinkled with shredded onions and wetted with a little
vinegar, or else a few boiled prunes or a pottage of lentils and

"Can you spare some of that bread, citizen?"

"Aye! if I can have a bite of your cheese."

They are fraternal suppers! Do not, in the name of Liberty and
Equality, let us forget that. And the whole of it was Robespierre's
idea. He conceived and carried it through, commanded the voices in the
Convention that voted the money required for the tables, the benches,
the tallow candles. He lives close by, in this very street, humbly,
quietly, like a true son of the people, sharing house and board with
citizen Duplay, the cabinet-maker, and with his family.

A great man, Robespierre! The only man! Men speak of him with bated
breath, young girls with glowing eyes. He is the fetich, the idol, the
demigod. No benefactor of mankind, no saint, no hero-martyr was ever
worshipped more devotedly than this death-dealing monster by his
votaries. Even the shade of Danton is reviled in order to exalt the
virtues of his successful rival.

"Danton was gorged with riches: his pockets full, his stomach
satisfied! But look at Robespierre!"

"Almost a wraith!--so thin, so white!"

"An ascetic!"

"Consumed by the fire of his own patriotism."

"His eloquence!"

"His selflessness!"

"You have heard him speak, citizen?"

A girl, still in her 'teens, her elbows resting on the table, her
hands supporting her rounded chin, asks the question with bated
breath. Her large grey eyes, hollow and glowing, are fixed upon her
vis--vis, a tall, ungainly creature, who sprawls over the table,
vainly trying to dispose of his long limbs in a manner comfortable to

His hair is lank and matted with grease, his face covered in coal-
dust; a sennight's growth of beard, stubbly and dusty, accentuates the
squareness of his jaw even whilst it fails to conceal altogether the
cruel, sarcastic curves of his mouth. But for the moment, in the rapt
eyes of the young enthusiast, he is a prophet, a seer, a human marvel:
he has heard Robespierre speak.

"Was it in the Club, citizen Rateau?" another woman asks--a young
matron with a poor little starveling at her breast.

The man gives a loud guffaw, displays in the feeble, flickering light
of the nearest torch a row of hideous uneven teeth, scored with gaps
and stained with tobacco juice.

"In the Club?" he says with a curse, and spits in a convenient
direction to show of his contempt for that or any other institution.
"I don't belong to any Club. There's no money in my pocket. And the
Jacobins and the Cordeliers like to see a man with a decent coat on
his back."

His guffaw broke in a rasping cough which seemed to tear his broad
chest to ribbons. For a moment speech was denied him; even oaths
failed to reach his lips, trembling like an unset jelly in this
distressing spasm. His neighbours alongside the table, the young
enthusiast opposite, the comely matron, paid no heed to him--waited
indifferently until the clumsy lout had regained his breath. This,
mark you, was not an era of gentleness or womanly compassion, and an
asthmatic mudlark was not like to excite pity. Only when he once more
stretched out his long limbs, raised his head and looked about him,
panting and blear-eyed, did the girl insist quietly:

"But you have heard Him speak!"

"Aye!" the ruffian replied drily. "I did."


"Night before last. Tenez! He was stepping out of citizen Duplay's
house yonder. He saw me leaning against the wall close by. I was
tired, half asleep, what? He spoke to me and asked me where I lived."

"Where you lived?' the girl echoed, disappointed.

"Was that all?" the matron added with a shrug of her shoulders.

The neighbours laughed. The men enjoyed the discomfiture of the women,
who were all craning their necks to hear something great, something
palpitating, about their idol.

The young enthusiast sighed, clasped her hands in favour.

"He saw that you were poor, citizen Rateau," she said with conviction;
"and that you were tired. He wished to help and comfort you."

"And where did you saw you lived, citizen?" the young matron went on,
in her calm, matter-of-fact tone.

"I live far from here, the other side of the water, not in an
aristocratic quarter like this one--what?"

"You told Him you lived there?" the girl still insisted. Any scrap or
crumb of information even remotely connected with her idol was manna
to her body and balm to her soul.

"Yes, I did," citizen Rateau assented.

"Then," the girl resumed earnestly, "solance and comfort will come to
you very soon, citizen. He never forgets. His eyes are upon you. He
knows your distress and that you are poor and weary. Leave it to him,
citizen Rateau. He will know how and when to help."

"He will know, more like," here broke in a harsh voice, vibrating with
excitement, "how and when to lay his talons on an obscure and helpless
citizen whenever his Batches for the guillotine are insufficient to
satisfy his lust!"

A dull murmur greeted this tirade. Only those who sat close by the
speaker knew which he was, for the lights were scanty and burnt dim in
the open air. The others only heard--received this arrow-shot aimed at
their idol--with for the most part a kind of dull resentment. The
women were more loudly indignant. One or two young devotees gave a
shrill cry or so of passionate indignation.

"Shame! Treason!"

"Guillotine, forsooth! The enemies of the people all deserve the

And the enemies of the people were those who dared raise their voice
against their Chosen, their Fetich, the great, incomprehensible

Citizen Rateau was once more rendered helpless by a tearing fit of

But from afar, down the street, there came one or two assenting cries.

"Well spoken, young man! As for me, I never trusted that bloodhound!"

And a woman's voice added shrilly: "His hands reek of blood. A
butcher, I call him!"

"And a tyrant!" assented the original spokesman. "His aim is a
dictatorship, with his minions hanging around him like abject slaves.
Why not Versailles, then? How are we better off now than in the days
of kingship? Then, at least, the streets of Paris did not stink of
blood. Then, at least-"

But the speaker got no father. A hard crust of very dry, black bread,
aimed by a sure hand, caught him full in the face, whilst a hoarse
voice shouted lustily:

"Hey there, citizen! If thou'lt not hold thy tongue 'tis thy neck that
will be reeking with blood o'er soon, I'll warrant!"

"Well said, citizen Rateau!" put in another, speaking with his mouth
full, but with splendid conviction. "Every word uttered by that
jackanapes yonder reeks of treason!"

"Shame!" came from every side.

"Where are the agents of the Committee of Public Safety? Men have been
thrown into prison for less than this."


"Denounce him!"

"Take him to the nearest Section!"

"Ere he wreaks mischief more lasting than words!" cried a woman, who
tried as she spoke to give her utterance its full, sinister meaning.

"Shame! Treason!" came soon from every side. Voices were raised all
down the length of the tables--shrill, full-throated, even dull and
indifferent. Some really felt indignation--burning, ferocious
indignation; others only made a noise for the sheer pleasure of it,
and because the past five years had turned cries of "Treason!" and of
"Shame!" into a habit. Not that they knew what the disturbance was
about. The street was long and narrow, and the cries came some way
from where they were sitting; but when cries of "Treason!" flew
through the air these days, 'twas best to join in, lest those cries
turned against one, and the next stage in the proceedings became the
approach of an Agent of the Sret, the nearest prison, and the
inevitable guillotine.

So every one cried "Shame!" and "Treason!" whilst those who had first
dared to raise their voices against the popular demagogue drew
together into a closer batch, trying no doubt to gather courage
through one another's proximity. Eager, excited, a small compact group
of two men--one a mere boy--and three women, it almost seemed as if
they were suffering from some temporary hallucination. How else would
five isolated persons--three of them in their first youth--have dared
to brave a multitude?

In truth Bertrand Moncrif, face to face as he believed with martyrdom,
was like one transfigured. Always endowed with good looks, he appeared
like a veritable young prophet, haranguing the multitude and
foretelling its doom. The gloom partly hid his figure, but his hand
was outstretched, and the outline of an avenging finger pointing
straight out before him, appeared in the weird light of the resin
torch, as if carved in glowing lava. Now and then the fitful light
caught the sharp outline of his face--the straight nose and pointed
chin, and brown hair matted with the sweat of enthusiasm.

Beside him Rgine, motionless and white as a wraith, appeared alive
only by her eyes, which were fixed on her beloved. In the hulking
giant with the asthmatic cough she had recognized the man to whom she
had ministered earlier in the day. Somehow, his presence here and now
seemed to her sinister and threatening. It seemed as if all day he had
been dogging her footsteps: first at the soothsayer's then he surely
must have followed her down the street. Tfhen he had inspired her with
pity; now his hideous face, his grimy hands, that croaking voice and
churchyard cough, filled her with nameless terror.

He appeared to her excited fancy like a veritable spectre of death,
hovering over Bertrand and over those she loved. With one arm she
tried to press her brother Jacques closer to her breast, to quench his
eagerness and solence his foolhardy tongue. But he, like a fierce,
impatient young animal, fought to free himself from her loving
embrace, shouted approval to Bertrand's oratory, played his part of
the young propagandist, heedless of Rgine's warnings and of his
mother's tears. Next to Rgine, her sister Josphine--a girl not out
of her 'teens, with all the eagerness and exaggeration of extreme
youth, was shouting quite as loudly as her brother Jacques, clapping
her small hands together, turning glowing, defying, arrogant eyes on
the crowd of great unwashed whom she hoped to sway with her ardour and
her eloquence.

"Shame on us all!" she cried with passionate vehemence. "Shame on us
French women and French men that we should be the abject slaves of
such a bloodthirsty tyrant!"

Her mother, pale-faced, delicate, had obviously long since given up
all hope of controlling this unruly little crowd. She was too
listless, too anemic, had no doubt suffered too much already, to be
afraid for herself or for her children. She was past any thought or
fear. Her wan face only expressed despair--despair that was absolutely
final--and the resignation of silent self-immolation, content to
suffer beside those she loved, only praying to be allowed to share
their martyrdom, even though she had no part in their enthusiasm.

Bertrand, Josphine and Jacques had all the ardour of martyrdom.
Rgine and her mother all its resignation.


The Fraternal Supper threatened to end in a free fight, wherein the
only salvation for the young fire-eaters would lie in a swift taking
to their heels. And even then the chances would be hopelessly against
them. Spies of the Convention, spies of the Committees, spies of
Robespierre himself, swarmed all over the place. They were marked men
and women, those five. It was useless to appear defiant and high-
minded and patriotic. Even Danton had gone to the guillotine for less.

"Shame! Treason!"

The balmy air of mid-Apirl seemed to echo the sinister words, but
Bertrand appeared unconscious of all danger. Nay! it almost seemed as
if he courted it.

"Shame on you all!" he called out loudly, and his fresh, sonorous
voice rang out above the tumult and the hoarse murmurings. "Shame on
the people of France for bowing their necks to such monstrous tyranny.
Citizens of Paris, think on it! Is not Liberty a mockery now? Do you
call your bodies your own? They are but food for cannon at the bidding
of the Convention. Your families? You are parted from those you love.
Your wife? You are torn from her embrace. Your children? They are
taken from you for the service of the State. And by whose orders? Tell
me that! By whose orders, I say?"

He was lashing himself into a veritable fury of self-sacrifice, stood
up beside the table and with a gesture even bade Josphine and Jacques
be still. As for Rgine, she hardly was conscious that she lived, so
acute, so poignant was her emotion, so gaunt and real the approach of
death which threatened her beloved.

This of course was the end--this folly, this mad, senseless, useless
folly! Already through the gloom she could see as in a horrible vision
all those she cared for dragged before a tribunal that knew of no
mercy; she could hear the death-carts rattling along the cobblestones,
she could see the hideous arms of the guillotine, ready to receive
this unique, this believed, this precious prey. She could feel
Josphine's arms clinging pitiably to her for courage; she could see
Jacques' defiant young face, glorying in martyrdom; she could see
maman, drooping like a faded flower, bereft of what was life to her--
the nearness of her children. She could see Bertrand, turning with a
dying look of love, not to her but to the beautiful Spaniard who had
captured his fancy and then sold him without compunction to the spies
of Robespierre and of her own party.


But for the fact that this was a "Fraternal Supper," that people had
come out here with their families, their young children, to eat and to
make merry and to forget all their troubles as well as the pall of
crime that hung over the entire city, I doubt not but what the young
Hotspur and his crowd of rashlings would ere now have been torn from
their eats, trampled under foot, at best been dragged to the nearest
Commissary, as the asthmatic citizen Rateau had already threatened.
Even as it was, the temper of many a paterfamilias was sorely tried by
this insistence, with willful twisting of the tigers' tails. And the
women were on the verge of reprisals. As for Rateau, he just seemed to
gather his huge limbs together, uttered an impatient oath and an
angry: "By all the cats and dogs that render this world hideous with
their howls, I have had about enough of this screeching oratory." Then
he threw one long leg over the bench on which he had been sitting, and
in an instant was lost in the gloom, only to reappear in the dim light
a few seconds later, this time on the farther side of the table,
immediately behind the young rhetorician, his ugly, begrimed face with
its grinning, toothless mouth and his broad, bent shoulders towering
above the other's slender figure.

"Knock him down, citizen!" a young woman cried excitedly. "Hit him in
the face! Silence his abominable tongue!"

But Bertrand was not to be silenced yet. No doubt the fever of
notoriety, of martyrdom, had got into his blood. His youth, his good
looks--obvious even in the fitful light and despite his tattered
clothes--were an asset in his favour, no doubt; but a man-eating tiger
is apt to be indiscriminate in his appetites and will devour a child
with as much gusto as a gaffer; and this youthful firebrand was
teasing the man-eating tiger with reckless insistence.

"By whose orders," he reiterated, with passionate vehemence, "by whose
orders are we, free citizens of France, dragged into this abominable
slavery? Is it by those of the Representatives of the People? No! Of
the Committees chosen by the People? No! Of your Municipalities? your
Clubs? your Sections? No! and again No! Your bodies, citizens, your
freedom, your wives, your children, are all slaves, the property, the
toys of one man--real tyrant and traitor, the oppressor of the weak,
the enemy of the people; and that man is-"

Again he was interrupted, this time more forcibly. A terrific blow on
the head deprived him of speech and of sight. His senses reeled, there
was a mighty buzzing in his ears, which effectually drowned the cries
of execration or of approval that greeted his tirade, as well as a new
and deafening tumult which filled the whole narrow street with its
weird and hideous sounds.

Whence the blow had come, Bertrand had no notion. It had all been so
swift. He had expected to be torn limb from limb, to be dragged to the
nearest Commissariat: he courted condemnation, envisaged the
guillotine; 'stead of which, he was prosily knocked down by a bow
which would have felled an ox.

Just for a second, his fast-fading perceptions struggled back into
consciousness. He had a swift vision of a giant form towering over
him, with grimy fist uplifted and toothless mouth grinning hideously,
and of the crowd, rising from their seats, turning their backs upon
him, waving their arms and caps frantically, and shouting, shouting,
with vociferous lustiness. He also had an equally swift pang of
remorse as the faces of his companions--of Rgine and Mme de Serval,
of Josphine and Jacques--whom he dragged with him into this mad and
purposeless outburst, rose prophetically before him fro out the gloom,
with wide-eyed, scared faces and arms uplifted to ward off vengeful

But the next moment these lightning-like visions faded into complete
oblivion. He felt something hard and heavy hitting him in the back.
All the lights, the faces, the outstretched hands, danced wildly
before his eyes, and he sank like a log on the greasy pavement,
dragging pewter plates, mugs and bottles down with him in his fall.


One Crowded Hour of Glorious Life


And all the while, the people were shouting:

"Le viol!"


The Fraternal Supper was interrupted. Men and women pushed and jostled
and screamed, the while a small, spare figure in dark cloth coat and
immaculate breeches, with smooth brown hair and pale-ascetic face,
stood for a moment under the lintel of a gaping porte-cochre. He had
two friends with him; handsome, enthusiastic St. Just, the right hand
and the spur of the bloodthirsty monster, own kinsman to Armand St.
Just the renegade, whose sister was married to a rich English millor;
and Couthon, delicate, half-paralysed, wheeled about in a chair, with
one foot in the grave, whose devotion to the tyrant was partly made up
of ambition, and wholly of genuine admiration.

At the uproarious cheering which greeted his appearance, Robespierre
advanced into the open, whilst a sudden swift light of triumph darted
from his narrow, pale eyes.

"And you still hesitate!" St. Just whispered excitedly in his ear.
"Why, you hold the people absolutely in the hollow of your hand!"

"Have patience, friend!" Couthon remonstrated quietly. "Robespierre's
hour is about to strike. To hasten it now, might be courting

Robespierre himself would, in the meanwhile, have been in serious
danger through the exuberant welcome of his admirers. Their
thoughtless crowding around his person would easily have given some
lurking enemy or hot-headed, would-be martyr the chance of wielding an
assassin's knife with success, but for the presence amongst the crowd
of his "tappe-durs"--hid-hards--a magnificent bodyguard composed of
picked giants from the mining districts of Eastern France, who rallied
around the great man, and with their weighted sticks kept the
enthusiastic crowd at bay.

He walked a few steps down the street, keeping close to the houses on
his left; his two friends, St. Just and Couthon in his carrying chair,
were immediately behind him, and between these three and the mob, the
tappe-durs, striding two abreast, formed a solid phalanx.

Then, all of a sudden, the great man came to a halt, faced the crowd,
and with an impressive gesture imposed silence and attention. His
bodyguard cleared a space for him and he stood in the midst of them,
with the light of a resin torch striking full upon his spare figure
and bringing into bold relief that thin face so full of sinister
expression, the cruel mouth and the coldly glittering eyes. He was
looking straight across the table, on which the dbris of Fraternal
Suppers lay in unsavoury confusion.

On the other side of the table, Mme de Serval with her three children
sat, or rather crouched, closely huddled against one another.
Josphine was clinging to her mother, Jacques to Rgine. Gone was the
eagerness out of their attitude now, gone the enthusiasm that had
reviled the bloodthirsty tyrant in the teeth of a threatening crowd.
it seemed as if, with that terrific blow dealt by a giant hand to
Bertrand who was their leader in this mad adventure, the awesome fear
of death had descended upon their souls. The two young faces as well
as that of Mme de Serval appeared distorted and haggard, whilst
Rgine's eyes, dilated with terror, strove to meet Robespierre's
steady gaze, which was charged with sinister mockery.

And for one short interval of time the crowd was silent; and the
everlasting stars looked down from above on the doings of men. To
these trembling, terrified young creatures, suddenly possessed with
youth's passionate desire to live, with a passionate horror of death,
these few seconds of tense silence must have seemed like an eternity
of suffering. Then Robespierre's thin face lighted up in a portentous
smile--a smile that caused those pale cheeks yonder to take on a still
more ashen hue.

"And where is our eloquent orator of a while ago?" the great man asked
quietly. "I heard my name, for I sat at my window looking with joy on
the fraternization of the people of France. I caught sight of the
speaker, and came down to hear more clearly what he had to say. But
where is he?"

His pale eyes wandered slowly along the crowd; and such was the power
exercised by the extraordinary man, so great the terror that he
inspired, that every one there--men, women and children, workers and
vagabonds--turned their eyes away, dared not meet his glance lest in
it they read an accusation or a threat.

Indeed, no one dared to speak. The young rhetorician had disappeared,
and every one trembled lest they should be implicated in his escape.
He had evidently got away under cover of the confusion and the noise.
But his companions were still there--four of them; the woman and the
boy and the two girls, crouching like frightened beasts before the
obvious fury, the certain vengeance of the people. The murmurs were
ominous. "Death! Guillotine! Traitors!" were words easily
distinguishable in the confused babbling of the sullen crowd.

Robespierre's cruel, appraising glance rested on those four pathetic
forms, so helpless, so desperate, so terrified.

"Citizens," he said coldly, "did you not hear me ask where your
eloquent companion is at this moment?"

Rgine alone knew that he lay like a log under the table, close to her
feet. She had seen him fall, struck by that awful blow from a brutal
fist; but at the ominous query she instinctively pressed her trembling
lips close together, whilst Josphine and Jacques clung to her with
the strength of despair.

"Do not parley with the rabble, citizen," St. Just whispered eagerly.
"This is a grand moment for you. Let the people of their own accord
condemn those who dared to defame you."

And even Couthon, the prudent, added sententiously:

"Such an opportunity may never occur again."

The people, in truth, were over-ready to take vengeance into their own

" la lanterne, les aristos!"

Gaunt, bedraggled forms leaned across the table, shook begrimed fists
in the direction of the four crouching figures. With the blind
instinct of trapped beasts, they retreated into the shadows step by
step, as those threatening fists appeared to draw closer, clutching at
the nearest table and dragging it with them, in an altogether futile
attempt at a barricade.

"Holy Mother of God, protect us!" murmured Mme de Serval from time to

Behind them there was nothing but the rows of houses, no means of
escape even if their trembling knees had not refused them service;
whilst vaguely, through their terror, they were conscious of the
proximity of that awful asthmatic creature with the wheezy cough and
the hideous, toothless mouth. At times he seemed so close that they
shut their eyes, almost feeling his grimy hands around their throat,
his huge, hairy arms dragging them down to death.

It all happened in the space of a very few minutes, far fewer even
than it would take completely to visualize the picture. Robespierre,
like an avenging wraith, theatrical yet impassive, standing in the
light of a huge resin torch, which threw alternate lights and shadows,
grotesque and weird, upon his meagre figure, now elongating the thin,
straight nose, now widening the narrow mouth, misshaping the figure
till it appeared like some fantastic ghoul-form from the nether world.
Behind him, his two friends were lost in the gloom, as were now Mme de
Serval and her children. They were ensconced against a heavy porte-
cochre, a rickety table alone standing between them and the mob, who
were ready to drag them to the nearest lanthorn and immolate them
before the eyes of their outraged idol.

"Leave the traitors alone!" Robespierre commanded. "Justice will deal
with them as they deserve."

" la lanterne!" the people--more especially the women--demanded

Robespierre turned to one of his "tappe-durs."

"Take the aristos to the nearest Commissariat," he said. "I'll have no
bloodshed to mar our Fraternal Supper."

"The Commissariat, forsooth!" a raucous voice positively bellowed.
"Who is going to stand between us and our vengeance? Robespierre has
been outraged by this rabble. Let them perish in sight of all!"

How it all happened after that, none who were there could in truth
have told you. The darkness, the flickering lights, the glow of the
braziers, which made the inky blackness around more pronounced, made
everything indistinguishable to ordinary human sight. Certain it is
that citizen Rateau--who had constituted himself the spokesman of the
mob--was at one time seen towering behind the four unfortunates, with
his huge arms stretched out, his head thrown back, his mouth wide
open, screaming abuse and vituperation, demanding the people's right
to take the law into its own sovereign hands.

At that moment the light of the nearest resin torch threw his hulking
person into bold relief against a heavy porte-cochre which was
immediately behind him. The mob acclaimed him, cheered him to the
echoes, agreed with him that summary justice in such a case was lone
satisfying. The next instant a puff of wind blew the flame of the
torch in a contrary direction, and darkness suddenly enveloped the
ranting colossus and the cowering prey all ready to his hand.

"Rateau!" shouted some one.

"Hey, there! citizen Rateau! Where art thou?" came soon from every

No answer came from the spot where Rateau had last been seen, and it
seemed as if just then a strong current of air had slammed a heavy
door to somewhere in the gloom. Citizen Rateau had disappeared, and
the four traitors along with him.

It took a few seconds of valuable time ere the mob suspected that it
was being robbed of its prey. Then a huge upheaval occurred, a motion
of the human mass densely packed in the Rue St. Honor, that was not
unlike the rush of water through a narrow gorge.

"Rateau!" People were yelling the name from end to end of the street.


Superstition, which was rampant in these days of carnage and of crime,
had possession of many a craven soul. Rateau had vanished. It seemed
as if the Evil One, whose name had been so freely invoked during the
course of the Fraternal Supper, had in very truth spirited Rateau

On the top of the tumult came a silence as complete as that of a
graveyard at midnight. The "tappe-durs," who at their chief's command
had been forging their way through the crowd, in order to reach the
traitors, ceased their hoarse calls of "Make way there, in the name of
the Convention!" whilst St. Just, who still stood close to his friend,
literally saw the cry stifled on Robespierre's lips.

Robespierre himself had not altogether realized what had happened. In
his innermost heart he had already yielded to his friends' suggestion,
and was willing to let mob-law run its course. As St. Just had said:
what a triumph for himself if his detractors were lynched by the mob!
When Rateau towered above the four unfortunates, hurling vituperation
above their heads, the tyrant smiled, well satisfied; and when the
giant thus incontinently vanished, Robespierre for a moment or two
remained complacent and content.

Then the whole crowd oscillated in the direction of the mysterious
porte-cochre. Those who were in the front ranks threw themselves
against the heavy panels, whilst those in the rear pushed with all
their might. But the porte-cochres of old Paris are heavily
constructed. Woodwork that had resisted the passage of centuries
withheld the onslaught of a pack of half-starved caitiffs. But only
for awhile.

The mob, fearing that it was getting foiled, broke into a howl of
execration, and Robespierre, his face more drawn and grey than before,
turned to his companions, trying to read their thoughts.

"If it should be-" St. Just murmured, yet dared not put his surmise
into words.

Nor had he time to do so, or Robespierre the leisure to visualize his
own fears. Already the massive oak panels were yielding to persistent
efforts. The mighty woodwork began to crack under the pressure of this
living battering ram; when suddenly the howls of those who were in the
rear turned to a wild cry of delight. Those who were pushing against
the porte-cochre paused in their task. All necks were suddenly craned
upwards. The weird lights of torches and the glow of braziers glinted
on guant necks and upturned chins, turned heads and faces into
phantasmagoric, unearthly shapes.

Robespierre and his two companions instinctively looked up too. There,
some few mtres lower down the street, on the third-floor balcony of a
neighbouring house, the figure of Rateau had just appeared. The window
immediately behind him was wide open and the room beyond was flooded
with light, so that his huge person appeared distinctly silhouetted--a
black and gargantuan mass--against the vivid and glowing background.
His head was bare, his lank hair fluttered in the breeze, his huge
chest was bare and his ragged shirt hung in tatters from his brawny
arms. Flung across his left shoulder, he held an inanimate female
form, whilst with his right hand he dragged another through the open
window in his wake. Just below him, a huge brazier was shedding its
crimson glow.

The sight of him--gaunt, weird, a veritable tower of protean revenge--
paralyzed the most ebullient, silenced every clamour. For the space of
two seconds only did he stand there, in full view of the crowd, in
full view of the almighty tyrant whose defamation he had sworn to
avenge. Then he cried in stentorian tones:

"Thus perish all conspirators against the liberty of the people, all
traitors to its cause, by the hands of the people and for the glory of
their chosen!"

And, with a mighty twist of his huge body, he picked up the inanimate
form that lay lifeless at his feet. For a moment he held the two in
his arms, high above the iron railing of the balcony; for a moment
those two lifeless, shapeless forms hung in the darkness in mid-air,
whilst an entire crowd of fanatics held their breath and waited, awed
and palpitating, only to break out into frantic cheering as the giant
hurled the two lifeless bodies down, straight into the glowing

"Two more to follow!" he shouted lustily.

There was pushing and jostling and cheering. Women screamed, men
blasphemed and children cried. Shouts of "Vive Rateau!" mingled with
those of "Vive Robespierre!" a circle was formed, hands holding hands,
and a wild saraband danced around the glowing brazier. And this mad
orgy of enthusiasm lasted for full three minutes, until the foremost
among those who, awestruck and horrified, had approached the brazier
in order to see the final agony of the abominable traitor, burst out
with a prolonged "Malediction!"

Beyond that exclamation, they were speechless--pointed with trembling
hands at the shapeless bundles on which the dull fire of the braziers
had not yet obtained a purchase.

The bundles were shapeless indeed. Rags hastily tied together to
represent human forms; but rags only! No female traitors, no aristos
beneath! The people had been fooled, hideously fooled by a traitor all
the more execrable, as he had seemed one of themselves.

"Malediction! Death to the traitor!"

Aye, death indeed! The giant, whoever he might be, would have to bear
a charmed life if he were to escape the maddened fury of a foiled

"Rateau!" they shouted hoarsely.

They looked up to that third-floor balcony which had so fascinated
them awhile ago. But now the window was shut and no light from within
chased the gloom that hung over the houses around.

"Rateau!" the people shouted.

But Rateau had disappeared. It all seemed like a dream, a nightmare.
Had Rateau really existed, or was he a wraith, sent to tease and to
scare those honest patriots who were out for liberty and for
fraternity? Many there were who would have liked to hold on to that
theory--men and women whose souls, warped and starved by the excesses
and the miseries of the past five years, clung to any superstition,
any so-called supernatural revelations, that failed to replace the old
religion that had been banished from their hearts.

But in this case not even superstition could be allowed free play.
Rateau had vanished, it is true. The house from whence he had thus
mocked and flouted the people was searched through and through by a
mob who found nothing but bare boards and naked walls, empty rooms and
disused cupboards on which to wreak its fury.

But down there, lying on the top of the brazier, were those two
bundles of rags slowly being consumed by the smouldering embers,
silent proofs of the existence of that hulking creature whose size and
power had, with that swiftness peculiar to human conceptions, already
become legendary.

And in a third-floor room, a lamp that had recently been extinguished,
a coil of rope, more rages, male and female clothes, a pair of boots,
a battered hat, were mute witnesses to the swift passage of the
mysterious giant with the wheezy cough--the trickster who had fooled a
crowd and thrown the great Robespierre himself into ridicule.


Two Interludes


Two hours later the Rue St. Honor had resumed its habitual graveyard-
like stillness. The stillness had to come at last. Men in their
wildest passions, in their most ebullient moods, must calm down sooner
or later, if only temporarily. Blood aglow with enthusiasm, or rage,
or idolatry, cannot retain its fever-pitch uninterruptedly for long.
And so silence of that turbulent scene of awhile ago.

Here, as in other quarters of Paris, the fraternal suppers had come to
an end; and perspiring matrons, dragging weary children at their
skirts, wended their way homewards, whilst their men went to
consummate the evening's entertainment at one of the numerous clubs or
cabarets where the marvellous doings in the Rue St. Honor could be
comfortably lived over again or retailed to those, less fortunate, who
had not been there to see.

In the early morning the "nettoyeurs publiques" would be coming along,
to clear away the dbris of the festivities and to gather up the
tables and benches which were the property of the several Municipal
sections, and put them away for the next occasion.

But these "nettoyeurs" were not here yet. They, too, were spending an
hour or two in the nearest cabarets, discussing the startling events
that had rendered notorious one corner of the Rue St. Honor.

And so the streets were entirely deserted, save here and there for the
swift passage of a furtive form, hugging the walls, with hands in
pockets and a crimson cap pulled over the eyes, anxious only to escape
the vigilance of the night-watchman, swift of foot and silent of
tread; and anon, in the Rue St. Honor itself, when even these
nightbirds had ceased to flutter, the noiseless movement of a dark and
mysterious form that stirred cautiously upon the greasy cobblestones.
More silent, more furtive than any hunted beast creeping out of its
lair, this mysterious form emerged from under one of the tables that
was standing nearly opposite the house where Robespierre lived and
close to the one where the superhuman colossus had wrought his magic

It was Bertrand Moncrif. No longer a fiery Desmosthenes now, but a
hunted, terror-filled human creature, whom a stunning blow from a
giant fist had rendered senseless, even whilst it saved him from the
consequences of his own folly. His senses still reeling, his limbs
cramped and aching, he had lain stark and still under the table just
where he had fallen, not sufficiently conscious to realize what was
happening beyond his very limited range of vision or to marvel what
was the ultimate fate of his companions.

His only instinct throughout this comatose condition was the blind one
of self-preservation. Feeling rather than hearing the tumult around
him, he had gathered his limbs close together, lain as still as a
mouse, crouching within himself in the shelter of the table above. It
was only when the silence around had lasted an eternity of time that
he ventured out of his hiding-place. With utmost caution, hardly
daring to breathe, he crept on hands and knees and looked about him,
up and down the street. There was no one about. The night fortunately
was moonless and dark; nature had put herself on the side of those who
wished to pass unperceived.

Bertrand struggled to his feet, smothering a cry of pain. His head
ached furiously, his knees shook under him; but he managed to crawl as
far as the nearest house, and rested for awhile against its wall. The
fresh air did him good. The April breeze blew across his burning

For a few minutes he remained thus, quite still, his eyes gradually
regaining their power of vision. He recollected where he was and all
that had happened. An icy shiver ran down his spine, for he also
remembered Rgine and Mme de Serval and the two children. But he was
still too much dazed, really only half conscious, to do more than
vaguely marvel what had become of them.

He ventured to look fearfully up and down the street. Tables scattered
pell-mell, the unsavoury remnants of fraternal suppers, a couple of
smouldering braziers, collectively met his gaze. And at one point,
sprawling across a table, with head lost between outstretched arms, a
figure, apparently asleep, perhaps dead.

Bertrand, now nothing but a bundle of nerves, could hardly suppress a
cry of terror. It seemed to him as if his life depended on whether
that sprawling figure was alive or dead. But he dared not approach in
order to make sure. For awhile he waited, sinking more and more deeply
into the shadows, watching that motionless form on which his life

The figure did not move, and gradually Bertrand nerved himself up to
confidence and then to action. He buried his head in the folds of his
coat-collar and his hands in the pockets of his breeches, and with
silence, stealthy footsteps he started to make his way down the
street. At first he looked back once or twice at the immobile figure
sprawling across the table. It had not moved, still appeared as if it
might be dead. Then Bertrand took to his heels and, no longer looking
either behind him or to the right or left, with elbows pressed close
to his side, he started to run in the direction of the Tuileries.

A minute later, the motionless figure came back to life, rose quickly
and with swift, noiseless tread, started to run in the same direction.


In the cabarets throughout the city, the chief topic of conversation
was the mysterious events of the Rue St. Honor. Those who had seen it
all had marvellous tales to tell of the hero of the adventure.

"The man was eight or else nine feet high; his arms reached right
across the street from house to house. Flames spurted out of his mouth
when he coughed. He had horns on his head; cloven feet; a forked

These were but a few of the asserverations which rendered the person
of the fictitious citizen Rateau a legendary one in the eyes of those
who had witnessed his amazing prowess. Those who had not been thus
favoured listened wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

But all agreed that the mysterious giant was in truth none other than
the far-fame Englishman--that spook, that abominable trickster, that
devil incarnate, known to the Committees as the Scarlet Pimpernel.

"But how could it be the Englishman?" was suddenly put forward by
citizen Hottot, the picturesque landlord of the Cabaret de la Libert,
a well-known rendezvous close to the Carrousel. "How could it be the
Englishman who played you that trick, seeing that you all say it was
citizen Rateau who... The devil take it all!" he added, and scratched
his bald head with savage vigour, which he always did whene'er he felt
sorely perplexed. "A man can't be two at one and the same time; nor
two men become one. Nor... Name of a name of a dog!" concluded the
worthy citizen, puffing and blowing in the maze of his own puzzlement
like an old walrus that is floundering in the water.

"It was the Englishman, I tell thee!" one of his customers asserted
indignantly. "Ask anyone who saw him! Ask the tappe-durs! Ask
Robespierre himself! He saw him, and turned as grey as--as putty, I
tell thee! he concluded, with more conviction than eloquence.

"And I tell thee," broke in citizen Sical, the butcher--he with the
bullet-head and bull-neck and a fist that could in truth have felled
an ox; "I tell thee that it was citizen Rateau. Don't I know citizen
Rateau?" he added, and brought that heavy fist of his down upon the
upturned cask on which stood pewter mugs and bottles of eau de vie,
and glared aggressively round upon the assembly. He had only one eye;
the other presented a hideous appearance, scarred and blotched, the
result of a terrible fatality in his early youth. The one eye leered
with a glance of triumph as well as of a challenge, daring any less
muscular person to impugn his veracity.

One man alone was bold enough to take up the challenge--a wizened
little fellow, a printer by trade, with skin of the texture of grained
oak and a few unruly curls that tumbled over one another above a
highly polished forehead.

"And I tell thee, citizen Sical," he said with firm decision; "I tell
thee and those who aver, as thou dost, that citizen Rateau had
anything to do with those monkey-tricks, that ye lie. Yes!" he
reiterated emphatically, and paying no heed to the glowering looks and
blasphemies of Sical and his friends. "Yes, ye lie! Not consciously, I
grant you; but you lie nevertheless. Because-" He paused and glanced
around him, like a clever actor conscious of the effect which he
produced. His tiny beady eyes blinked in the glare of the lamp before

"Because what?" came in an eager chorus from every side.

"Because," resumed the other sententiously, "all the while that ye
were supping at the expense of the State in the open, and had your
gizzards stirred by the juggling devices of some unknown mountebank,
citizen Rateau was lying comfortably drunk and snoring lustily in the
antechamber of Mother Thot, the soothsayer, right at the other end of

"How do you know that, citizen Langlois?" queried the host with icy
reproval, for butcher Sical was his best customer, and Sical did not
like being contradicted. But little Langlois with the shiny forehead
and tiny, beady, humorous eyes, continued unperturbed.

"Pardi!" he said gaily, "because I was at Mother Thot myself, and saw
him there."

That certainly was a statement to stagger even the great Sical. It was
received in complete silence. Every one promptly felt that the moment
was propitious for another drink; nay! that the situation demanded it.

Sical, and those who had fought against the Scarlet Pimpernel theory,
were too staggered to speak. They continued to imbibe citizen Hottot's
eau de vie in sullen brooding. The idea of the legendary Englishman,
which has so unexpectedly been strengthened by citizen Langlois'
statement concerning Rateau, was repugnant to their common sense.
Superstition was all very well for women and weaklings like Langlois;
but for men to be asked to accept the theory that a kind of devil in
human shape had so thrown dust in the eyes of a number of perfectly
sober patriots that they literally could not believe what they saw,
was nothing short of an insult.

And they had seen Rateau at the fraternal supper, had talking with
him, until the moment when... Then who in Satan's name had they been
talking with?

"Here, Langlois! Tell us-"

And Langlois, who had become the hero of the hour, told all he knew,
and told it, we are told, a dozen times and more. How he had gone to
Mother Thot's at about four o'clock in the afternoon, and had sat
patiently waiting beside his friend Rateau, who wheezed and snored
alternately for a couple of hours. How, at six o'clock or a little
after, Rateau went out because--the aristo, forsooth!--had found the
atmosphere filthy in Mother Thot's antechamber--no doubt he went to
get another drink.

"At about half-past seven," the little printer went on glibly, "my
turn came to speak with the old witch. When I came out it was long
past eight o'clock and quite dark. I saw Rateau sprawling upon a
bench, half asleep. I tried to speak with him, but he only grunted.
However, I went out then to get a bit of supper at one of the open-air
places, and at ten o'clock I was once more past Mother Thot's place.
One or two people were coming out of the house. They were all
grumbling because they had been told to go. Rateau was one who was for
making a disturbance, but I took him by the arm. We went down the
street together, and parted company in the Rue de l'Anier, where he
lodges. And here I am!" concluded Langlois, and turned triumphantly to
challenge the gaze of every one of the sceptics around him.

There was not a single doubtful point in his narrative, and though he
was questioned--aye! and severely cross-questioned, too--he never once
swerved from his narrative or in any manner did he contradict himself.
Later on it transpired that there were others who had been in Mother
Thot's antechamber that day. They too subsequently corroborated all
that the little printer had said. One of them was the wife of Sical's
own brother; and there were others. So, what would you?

"Name of a name of a dog, then, who was it when spirited the aristos


The Beautiful Spaniard


In the Rue Villedot, which is in the Louvre quarter of Paris, there is
a house, stone built and five-storied, with grey shutters to all the
windows and balconies of wrought iron--a house exactly similar to
hundreds and thousands of others in every quarter of Paris. During the
day the small wicket in the huge porte-cochre is usually kept open;
it allows a peep into a short dark passage, and beyond it to the lodge
of the concierge. Beyond this again there is a courtyard, into which,
from every one of its four sides, five rows of windows, all adorned
with grey shutters, blink down like so many colourless eyes. The
inevitable wrought-rion balconies extend along three sides of the
quadrangle on every one of the five floors, and on the balustrade of
these, pieces of carpet in various stages of decay are usually to be
seen hanging out to air. From shutter to shutter clothes lines are
stretched and support fantastic arrays of family linene that flap
lazily in the sultry, vitiated air which alone finds its way down the
shaft of the quadrangle.

On the left of the entrance passage and opposite the lodge of the
concierge there is a tall glass door, and beyond it the vestibule and
primary staircase, which gives access to the principal apartments--
those that look out upon the street and are altogether more luxurious
and more airy than those which give upon the courtyard. To the latter,
two back stairways give access. They are at the far corners of the
courtyard; both are pitch dark and reek of stuffiness and evil smells.
The apartments which they serve, especially those on the lower floors,
are dependent for light and air on what modicum of these gifts of
heaven comes down the shaft into the quadrangle.

After dark, of course, porte-cochre and wicket are both closed, and
if a belated lodger of visitor desires to enter the house, he must
ring the bell and the concierge in his lodge will pull a communicating
cord that will unlatch the wicket. It is up to the belated visitor or
lodger to close the wicket after him, and he is bound by law to give
his name, together with the number of the apartment to which he is
going, in to the concierge as he goes past the lodge. The concierge,
on the other hand, will take a look at him so that he may identify him
should trouble or police inquiry arise.

On this night of April, somewhere near midnight, there was a ring at
the outer door. Citizen Leblanc, the concierge, roused from his first
sleep, pulled the communicating cord. A young man, hatless and in torn
coat and muddy breeches, slipped in through the wicket and hurried
past the lodge, giving only one name, but that in a clear voice, as he

"Citoyenne Cabarrus."

The concierge turned over in his bed and grunted, half asleep. His
duty clearly was to run after the visitor, who had failed to give his
own name; but to begin with, the worthy concierge was very tired; and
then the name which the belated caller had given was one requiring
special consideration.

The citoyenne Cabarrus was young and well favoured, and even in these
troublous days, youth and beauty demanded certain privileges which no
patriotic concierge could refuse to grant. Moreover, the aforesaid
lady had visitors at all hours of the day and late into the night--
visitors for the most part with whom it was not well to interfere.
Citizen Tallien, the popular Representative in the Convention was, as
every one knew, her ardent adorer. 'Twas said by all and sundry that
since the days when he met the fair Cabarrus in Bordeaux and she
exercised such a mellowing influence upon his bloodthirsty patriotism,
he had no thought save to win her regard.

But he was not the only one who came to the dreary old apartment in
the Rue Villedot, with a view to worshipping at the Queen of Beauty's
shrine. Citizen Leblanc had seen many a great Representative of the
People pass by his lodge since the beautiful Theresia came to dwell
here. And if he became very confidential and his interlocutor very
insistent, he would throw out a hint that the greatest man in France
to-day was not infrequent visitor in the house.

Obviously, therefore, it was best not to pry too closely into secrets,
the keeping of which might prove uncomfortable for one's peace of
mind. And citizen Leblanc, tossing restlessly in his sleep, dreamed of
the fair Cabarrus and wished himself in the place of those who were
privileged and pay their court to her.


And so the belated visitor was able to make his way across the
courtyard and up the dark back stairs unmolested, but even this
reassuring fact failed to give him confidence. He hurried on with the
swift and stealthy footstep which had become habitual to him, glancing
over his shoulder from time to time, wide-eyed and with ears alert,
and heart quivering with apprehension.

Up the dark and narrow staircase he hurried, dizzy and sick, his head
reeling in the dank atmosphere, his shaking hands seeking the support
of the walls as he climbed wearily up to the third floor. Here he
almost measured his length upon the landing, tottered up again and
came down sprawling on his knees against one of the doors--the one
which had the number 22 painted upon it. For the moment it seemed as
if he would once more fall into a swoon. Terror and relief were
playing havoc with his whirling brain. He had not sufficient strength
to stretch out an arm in order to ring the bell, but only beat feebly
against the panel of the door with his moist palm.

A moment later the door was opened, and the unfortunate fell forward
into the vestibule at the feet of a tall apparition clad in white and
holding a small table lamp above her head. The apparition gave a
little scream which was entirely human and wholly feminine, hastily
put down the lamp on a small console close by, and by retreating
forcefully farther into the vestibule, dragged the half-animate form
of the young man along too; for he was now clinging to a handful of
white skirt with the strength of despair.

"I am lost, Theresia!" he moan pitiably. "Hide me, for God's sake!...
only for to-night!"

Theresia Cabarrus was frowning now, looked more perplexed than kindly,
and certainly made no attempt to raise the crouching figure from the
ground. Anon she called loudly: "Pepita!" and whilst waiting for an
answer to this call, she remained quite still, and the frown of
puzzlement on her face yielded to one of fear. The young man,
obviously only half conscious, continued to moan and to implore.

"Silence, you fool!" she said peremptorily. "The door is still open.
Anyone on the stairs could hear you. Pepita!" she called again, more
harshly this time.

The next moment an old woman came from somewhere out of the darkness,
threw up her hands at sight of that grovelling figure on the floor,
and would no doubt have broken out in loud lament but that her young
mistress ordered her at once to close the door.

"Then help the citoyen Moncrif to a sofa in my room," the beautiful
Theresia went on peremptorily. "Give him a restorative and see above
all to it that he hold his tongue!"

With a quick imperious jerk she freed herself from the convulsive
grasp of the young man, and walking quickly across the small
vestibule, she went through a door at the end of it that had been left
ajar, leaving the unfortunate Moncrif to the ministrations of Pepita.


Theresia Cabarrus, who had obtained a divorce from her husband, the
Marquis de Fontenay (by virtue of a decree of the former Legislative
Assembly, which allow--nay, encouraged--the dissolution of a marriage
with an migr who refused to return to France). Theresia Cabarrus
was, in this year 1794, in her twenty-fourth year, and perhaps in the
zenith of her beauty and in the plenitude of that power which had
subjugated so many men. In what that power consisted the historian has
vainly tried to guess; for it was not her beauty only that brought so
many to her feet. In the small oval face, the pointed chin, the full,
sensuous lips, so typically Spanish, we look in vain for traces of
that beauty which we are told surpassed that of other women of her
time; whilst in the dark, velvety eyes, more tender than spiritual,
and in the narrow arched brows, we fail to find an expression of the
esprit which had moulded Tallien to her will and even brought
Robespierre out of the shell of his asceticism--a willing victim to
her wiles.

But who would be bold enough to analyse that subtle quality,
acknowledged by all, possessed by a very few, which is vaguely denoted
by the word "charm"? Theresia Cabarrus must have possessed it to a
marvellous degree--that, and an utter callousness for the feelings of
her victims, which would leave her mind cool and keen to pursue her
own ends, whilst theirs was thrown into that maze of jealousy and of
passion wherein prudence flies to the winds and the fever of self-
immolation gets into the blood.

At this moment, in the sparsely furnished room of her dingy apartment,
she looked like an angry goddess. Her figure, which undeniably was
superb, was drawn to its full height, its splendid proportions
accentuated by the clinging folds of her modish gown--a marvel of
artistic scantiness, which only have concealed the perfectly modelled
bust, and left the rounded thigh, in its skin-tight, flesh-coloured
undergarment, unblushingly exposed. Her blue-black hair was dressed in
the new fashion, copied from ancient Greece and snooded by a
glittering antique fillet; and her small bare feet were encased in
satin sandals. Truly a lovely woman, but for that air of cold
displeasure coupled with fear, which marred the harmony of the dainty,
child-like features.

After awhile Pepita came back.

"Well?" queried Theresia impatiently.

"Poor M. Bertrand is very ill," the old Spanish woman replied with
unconcealed sympathy. "He has fever, the poor cabbage. Bed is the only
place for him...."

"He cannot stay here, as thou well knowest, Pepita," the imperious
beauty retorted drily. "Thy head and mine are in danger every moment
that he spends under this roof."

"But thou couldst not turn a sick man out into the streets in the
middle of the night."

"Why not?" Theresia riposted coldly. "It is a beautiful and balmy
night. Why not?" she reiterated fretfully.

"Because he would die on thy doorstep," was old Pepita's muttered

Theresia shrugged her shoulders.

"He dies if he goes," she said slowly, "and we die if he stays. Tell
him to go, Pepita, ere citizen Tallien comes."

A shudder went through the old woman's spare frame.

"It is late," she protested. "Citizen Tallien will not come to-night."

"Not only he," Theresia rejoined coldly, "but--but--the other--Thou
knowest well, Pepita--those two arranged to meet here in my lodgings

"But not at this hour!"

"After the sitting of the Convention."

"It is nearly midnight. They'll not come," the old woman persisted

"They arranged to meet here, to talk over certain matters which
interest their party," citoyenne Cabarrus went on, equally firmly.
"They'll not fail. So tell citizen Moncrif to go, Pepita. He endangers
my life by staying here."

"Then do the dirty work thyself," the old woman muttered sullenly.
"I'll not be a part to cold-blooded murder."

"Well, since citizen Moncrif's life is more valuable to thee than

Theresia began, but got no father. The words died on her lips.

Bertrand Moncrif, very pale, still looking scared and wild, had
quietly entered the room.

"You wish me to go, Theresia," he said simply. "You did not think
surely that I would do anything that might endanger your safety. My
God!" he added with passionate vehemence, "Do you not know that I
would at any time lay down my life for yours?"

Theresia shrugged her statuesque shoulders.

"Of course, of course, Bertrand," she said a little impatiently,
though obviously trying to be kind. "But I do entreat you not to go
into heroics at this hour, and not to put on tragic airs. You must see
that for yourself as well as for me it would be fatal if you were
found here, and-"

"And I am going, Theresia," he broke in seriously. "I ought never to
have come. I was a fool, as usual!" he added with bitterness. "But
after that awful fracas I was dazed and hardly knew what I was doing."

The frown of vexation reappeared upon the woman's fair, smooth brow.

"The fracas?" she asked quickly. "What fracas?"

"In the Rue St. Honor. I thought you knew."

"No. I know nothing," she retorted, and her voice was now trenchant
and hard. "What happened?"

"They were deifying that brute Robespierre-"

"Silence!" she broke in harshly. "Name no names."

"And they were deifying a bloodthirsty tyrant, and I-"

"And you rose from your seat," she broke in again, and this time with
a laugh that was cruel in its biting irony; "and lashed yourself into
a fury of eloquent vituperation. Oh, I know! I know!" she went on
excitedly. "You and your Fatalists, or whatever you call yourselves!
And that rage for martyrdom!... Senseless, stupid, and selfish! Oh, my
God! how selfish! And then you came here to drag me down with you into
an abyss of misery, along with you to the guillotine... to..."

It seemed as if she were choking, and her small white hands, with a
gruesome and pathetic gesture, went up to her neck, smoothed it and
fondled it, as if to shield it from that awful fate.

Bertrand tried to pacify her. It was he who was the more calm of the
two now. It seemed as if her danger had brought him back to full
consciousness. He forgot his own danger, the threat of death which lay
in wait for him, probably on the very threshold of this house. He was
a marked man now; martyrdom had ceased to be a dream: it had become a
grim reality. But of this he did not think. Theresia was in danger,
compromised by his own callous selfishness, his mind was full of her;
and Rgine, the true and loyal friend, the beloved of past happier
years, had no place in his thoughts beside the exquisite enchantress,
whose very nearness was paradise.

"I am going," he said earnestly. "Theresia, my beloved, try to forgive
me. I was a fool--a criminal fool! But lately--since I thought that
you--you did not really care; that all my hopes of future happiness
were naught but senseless dreams; since then I seem to have lost my
head--I don't know what I am doing!... And so-"

He got no farther. Ashamed of his own weakness, he was too proud to
let her see that she made him suffer. For the moment, he only bent the
knee and kissed the hem of her diaphanous gown. He looked so handsome
then, despite his bedraggled, woebegone appearance--so young, so
ardent, that Theresia's egotistical heart was touched, as it had
always been when the incense of his perfect love rose to her
sophisticated nostrils. She put out her hand and brushed with a
gentle, almost maternal, gesture the matted brown hair from his brow.

"Dear Bertrand," she murmured vaguely. "What a foolish boy to think
that I do not care!"

Already he had been brought back to his senses. The imminence of her
danger lent him the courage which he had been lacking, and
unhesitatingly now he jumped to his feet and turned to go. But she,
quick in the transition of her moods, had already seized him by the

"No, no!" she murmured in a hoarse whisper. "Don't go just yet... not
before Pepita has seen if the stairs are clear."

Her small hand held him as in a vice, whilst Pepita, obedient and
silent, was shuffling across the vestibule in order toe execute her
mistress's commands. But, even so, Bertrand struggled to get away. An
epitome of their whole life, this struggle between them!--he trying to
free himself from those insidious bonds that held him one moment and
loosed him the next; that numbed him to all that he was wont to hold
sacred and dear--his love for Rgine, his loyalty, his honour. An
epitome of her character and his: he, weak and yielding, every a ready
martyr thirsting for self-immolation; and she, just a bundle of
feminine caprice, swayed by sentiment one moment and by considerations
of ambition or of personal safety the next.

"You must wait, Bertrand," she urged insistently. "Citizen Tallien may
be on the stairs--he or--or the other. If they saw you!... My God!"

"They would conclude that you had turned me out of doors," he riposted
simply. "Which would, in effect, be the truth. I entreat you to let me
go!" he added earnestly. "'Twere better they met me on the stairs than
in here."

The old woman's footsteps were heard hurrying back. Bertrand struggled
to free himself--did in truth succeed; and Theresia smothered a
desperate cry of warning as he strode rapidly through the door and
across the vestibule only to be met here by Pepita, who pushed him
with all her might incontinently back.

Theresia held her tiny handkerchief to her mouth to deaden the scream
that forced itself to her lips. She had followed Bertrand out of the
salon, and now stood in the doorway, a living statue of fear.

"Citizen Tallien," Pepita had murmured hurriedly. "He is on the
landing. Come this way."

She dragged Bertrand by the arm, not waiting for orders from her
mistress this time, along a narrow dark passage, which at its extreme
end gave access to a tiny kitchen. Into this she pushed him and locked
the door upon him.

"Name of a name!" she muttered as she shuffled back to the vestibule.
"If they should find him here!"

Citoyenne Cabarrus had not moved. Her eyes, dilated with terror,
mutely questioned the old woman as the latter made ready to admit the
visitor. Pepita gave reply as best she could, by silent gestures,
indicating the passage and the action of turning a key in the lock.
Her wrinkled old lips hardly stirred, and then only in order to murmur
quickly and with a sudden assumption of authority:

"Self-possession, my cabbage, or you'll endanger yourself and us all!"

Theresia pulled herself together. Obviously the old woman's warning
was not to be ignored, nor had it been given a moment too soon.
Outside, the visitor had renewed his impatient rat-tat against the
door. The eyes of mistress and maid met for one brief second. Theresia
was rapidly regaining her presence of mind; whereupon Pepita smoothed
out her apron, readjusted her cap, and went to open the door, even
whilst Theresia said in a firm voice, loudly enough for the new
visitor to hear:

"One of my guests, at last! Open quickly, Pepita!"


A Hideous, Fearful Hour


A young man--tall, spare, with sallow skin and shifty, restless eyes--
pushed unceremoniously past the old servant, threw his hat and cane
down on the nearest chair, and hurrying across the vestibule, entered
the salon where the beautiful Spaniard, a picture of serene
indifference, sat ready to receive him.

She had chosen for the setting of this scene a small settee covered in
old rose brocade. On this she half sat, half reclined, with an open
book in her hand, her elbow resting on the frame of the settee, her
cheek leaning against her hand. Immediately behind her, the light from
an oil lamp tempered by a shade of rose-coloured silk, outlined with a
brilliant, glowing pencil the contour of her small head, one exquisite
shoulder, and the mass of her raven hair, whilst it accentuated the
cool half-tones of her diaphanous gown, on the round bare arms and
bust, the tiny sandalled feet and cross-gartered legs.

A picture in truth to dazzle the eyes of any man! Tallien should have
been at her feet in an instant. The fact that he paused in the doorway
bore witness to the unruly thoughts that ran riot in his brain.

"Ah, citizen Tallien!" the fair Theresia exclaimed with a perfect
assumption of sang-froid. "You are the first to arrive, and are indeed
welcome; for I was nearly swooning with ennui. Well!" she added, with
a provocative smile, and extended a gracious arm in his direction.
"Are you not going to kiss my hand?"

"I heard a voice," was all the response which he gave to this
seductive invitation. "A man's voice. Who was it?"

She raised a pair of delicately pencilled eyebrows. Her eyes became as
round and as innocent-looking as a child's.

"A man's voice?" she riposted with a perfect air of astonishment. "You
are crazy, mon ami; or else are crediting my faithful Pepita with a
virile bass, which in truth she doth not possess!"

"Whose voice was it?" Tallien reiterated, making an effort to speak
calmly, even though he was manifestly shaking with choler.

Whereupon the fair Theresia, no longer gracious or arch, looked him up
and down as if he were no better than a lacquey.

"Ah, a!" she rejoined coldly. "Are you perchance trying to cross-
question me? By what right, I pray you, citizen Tallien, do you assume
this hectoring tone in my presence? I am not yet your wife, remember;
and 'tis not you, I image, who are the dictator of France."

"Do not tease me, Theresia!" the man interposed hoarsely. "Bertrand
Moncrif is here."

For the space of a second, or perhaps less, Theresia gave no reply to
the taunt. Her quick, alert brain had already faced possibilities, and
she was far too clever a woman to take the risks which a complete
evasion of the truth would have entailed at this moment. She did not,
in effect, know whether Tallien was speaking from positive information
given to him by spies, or merely from conjecture born of jealousy.
Moreover, another would be here presently--another, whose spies were
credited with omniscience, and whom she might not succeed in
dominating with a smile or a frown, as she could the love-sick
Tallien. Therefore, after that one brief instant's reflection she
decided to temporize, to shelter behind a half-truth, and replied,
with a quick glance from under her long lashes:

"I am not teasing you, citizen. Bertrand came here for shelter awhile

Tallien drew a quick sigh of satisfaction, and she went on carelessly:

"But, obviously, I could not keep him here. He seemed hurt and
frightened.... He has been gone this past half-hour."

For a moment it seemed as if the man, in face of this obvious lie,
would flare out into a hot retort; but Theresia's luminous eyes
subdued him, and before the cool contempt expressed by those exquisite
lips, he felt all his blustering courage oozing away.

"The man is an abominable and an avowed traitor," he said sullenly.
"Only two hours ago-"

"I know," she broke in coldly. "He vilified Robespierre. A dangerous
thing to do. Bertrand was ever a fool, and he lost his head."

"He will lose it more effectually to-morrow," Tallien retorted grimly.

"You mean that you would denounce him?"

"That I will denounce him. I would have done so to-night, before
coming here, only--only-"

"Only what?"

"I was afraid he might be here."

Theresia broke into a ringing if somewhat artificial peal of laughter.

"I must thank you, citizen, for this consideration of my feelings. It
was, in truth, thoughtful of you to think of sparing me a scandal.
But, since Bertrand is not here-"

"I know where he lodges. He'll not escape, citoyenne. My word on it!"

Tallien spoke very quietly, but with that concentrated fury of which a
fiercely jealous man is ever capable. He had remained standing in the
doorway all this while, his eyes fixed on the beautiful woman before
him, but his attention feverishly divided between her and what might
be going on in the vestibule behind him.

In answer to his last threatening words, the lovely Theresia rejoined,
more seriously:

"So as to make sure I do not escape either!" And a flash of withering
anger shot from her dark eyes on the unromantic figure of her adorer.
"Or you, mon ami! You are determined that Mme Roland's fate shall
overtake me, eh? And no doubt you will be thrilled to the marrow when
you see my head fall into your precious salad-bowl. Will yours follow
mine, think you? Or will you prefer to emulate citizen Roland's more
romantic ending?"

Even while she spoke, Tallien had been unable to repress a shudder.

"Theresia, in heaven's name-!" he murmured.

"Bah, mon ami! There is no longer a heaven these days. You and your
party have carefully abolished the Hereafter. So, after you and I have
taken our walk up the steps of the scaffold-"


"Eh, what?" she went on coolly. "Is that not perchance what you have
in contemplation? Moncrif, you say, is an avowed traitor. Has openly
vilified and insulted your demi-god. He has been seen coming to my
apartments. Good! I tell you that he is no longer here. But let that
pass. He is denounced. Good! Sent to the guillotine. Good again! And
Theresia Cabarrus in whose house he tried to seek refuge, much against
her will, goes to the guillotine in his company. The prospect may
please you, mon ami, because for the moment you are suffering from a
senseless attack of jealousy. But I confess that it does not appeal to

The man was silent now; awed against his will. His curiously restless
eyes swept over the graceful apparition before him. Insane jealousy
was fighting a grim fight in his heart with terror for his beloved.
Her argument was a sound one. Even he was bound to admit that.
Powerful though he was in the Convention, his influence was as nothing
compared with that of Robespierre. And he knew his redoubtable
colleague well enough that an insult such as Moncrif had put upon in
the Rue St. Honor this night would never be forgiven, neither in the
young hot-head himself nor in any of his friends, adherents, or mere
pitying sympathizers.

Theresia Cabarrus was clever enough and quick enough to see that she
had gained one point.

"Come and kiss my hand," she said, with a little sight of

This time the man obeyed, without an instant's hesitation. Already he
was down on his knees, repentant and humiliated. She gave him her
small, sandalled foot to kiss. After that, Tallien became abject.

"You know that I would die for you, Theresia!" he murmured

This is the second time to-night that such an assertion had been made
in this room. And both had been made in deadly earnest, whilst the
fair listener had remained equally indifferent to both. And for the
second time to-night, Theresia passed her cool white hand over the
bent head of an ardent worshipper, whilst her lips murmured vaguely:

"Foolish! Oh, how foolish! Why do men torture themselves, I wonder,
with senseless jealousy?"

Instinctively she turned her small head in the direction of the
passage and the little kitchen, where Bertrand Moncrif had found
temporary and precarious shelter. Self-pity and a kind of fierce
helplessness not untinged with remorse made her eyes appear resentful
and hard.

There, in the stuffy little kitchen at the end of the dark, dank
passage, love in its pure sense, happiness, brief perhaps but
unalloyed, and certainly obscure, lay in wait for her. Here, at her
feet, was security in the present turmoil, power, and a fitting
background for her beauty and her talents. She did not want to lose
Bertrand; indeed, she did not intend to lose him. She sighed a little
regretfully as she thought of his good looks, his enthusiasm, his
selfless ardour. Then she looked down once more on the narrow
shoulders, the lank, colourless hair, the bony hands of the erstwhile
lawyer's clerk to whom she had already promised marriage, and she
shuddered a little when she remembered that those same hands into
which she had promised to place her own and which now grasped hers in
passionate adoration had, of a certainty, signed the order for those
execrable massacres which had for ever sullied the early days of the
Revolution. For a moment--a brief one, in truth--she marvelled if
union with such a man was not too heavy a price to pay for immunity
and for power.

But the hesitancy only lasted a few seconds. The next, she had thrown
back her head as if in defiance of the whisperings of conscience and
of heart. She need not lose her youthful lover at all. He was
satisfied with so little! A few kind words here, an occasional kiss, a
promise or two, and he would always remain her willing slave.

It were foolish indeed, and far, far too late, to give way to
sentiment at this hour, when Tallien's influence in the Convention was
second only to that of Robespierre, whilst Bertrand Moncrif was a
fugitive, a suspect, a poor miserable fanatic, whose hot-headedness
was for ever landing him from one dangerous situation into another.

So, after indulging in the faintest little sigh of yearning for the
might-have-been, she met her latest adorer's worshipping glance with
coquettish air of womanly submission, which completed his subjugation,
and said lightly:

"And now give me my orders for to-night, mon ami."

She settled herself down more comfortably upon the settee, and
graciously allowed him to sit on a low chair beside her.


The turbulent little incident was closed. Theresia had her way, and
poor, harassed Tallien succeeded in shutting away in the innermost
recesses of his heart the pangs of jealousy which still tortured him.
His goddess was now all smiles, and the subtle flattery implied by her
preference for him above his many rivals warmed his atrophied heart
and soothed his boundless vanity.

We must accept the verdict of history that Theresia Cabarrus never
loved Tallien. In truth appears to be that what love she was capable
of had undoubtedly been given to Bertrand Moncrif, whom she would not
entirely dismiss from his allegiance, even though she had at last been
driven into promising marriage to the powerful Terrorist.

It is doubtful if, despite that half-hearted and wholly selfish love
for the young royalist, she had ever intended that he should be more
to her than a slavish worshipper, a friend on whom she could count for
perpetual adoration or mere sentimental dalliance; but a husband--
never! Certain it is that even Tallien, influential as he was, was
only a pis-aller. The lovely Spaniard, we make no doubt, would have
preferred Robespierre as a future husband, or, failing him, Louise-
Antoine St. Just, but the latter was deeply enamoured of another
woman; and Robespierre was too cautious, too ambitious, to allow
himself to be enmeshed.

So she fell back on Tallien.


"Give me my orders for tonight," the lovely woman had said to her
future lord. And he--a bundle of vanity and egoism--was flattered and
soothed by this submission, though he knew in his heart of hearts that
it was only pretence.

"You will help me, Theresia?" he pleaded.

She nodded, and asked coldly: "How?"

"You know that Robespierre suspects me," he went on, and
instinctively, at the mere breathing of that awe-inspiring name his
voice sank to a murmur. "Ever since I came back from Bordeaux."

"I know. Your leniency there is attributed to me."

"It was your influence, Theresia-" he began.

"That turned you," she broke in coldly, "from a bloodstained beast
into a right-minded justiciary. Do you regret it?"

"No, no!" he protested; "since it gained me your love."

"Could I love a beast of prey?" she retorted. "But if you do not
regret, you are certainly afraid."

"And he had sent me to Bordeaux to punish, not to pardon."

"Then you are afraid!" she insisted. "Has anything happened?"

"No; only his usual hints--his vague threats. You know them."

She nodded.

"The same," he went on somberly, "that he used ere he struck Danton."

"Danton was hot-headed. He was too proud to appeal to the populace who
idolized him."

"And I have no popularity to which I can appeal. If Robespierre
strikes at me in the Convention, I am doomed-"

"Unless you strike first."

"I have no following. We none of us have. Robespierre sways the
Convention with one word."

"You mean," she broke in more vehemently, "that you are all cringing
cowards--the abject slaves of one man. Two hundred of you are longing
for this era of bloodshed to cease; two hundred would stay the
pitiless work of the guillotine--and not one is plucky enough to cry,
'Halt! It is enough!'"

"The first man who cries 'Halt!' is called a traitor," Tallien
retorted gloomily. "And the guillotine will not rest until Robespierre
himself had said, 'It is enough!'"

"He alone knows what he wants. He alone fears no one," she exclaimed,
almost involuntarily giving grudging admiration where in truth she
felt naught but loathing.

"I would not fear either, Theresia," he protested, and there was a
note of tender reproach in his voice, "if it were not for you."

"I know that, mon ami," she rejoined with an impatient little sight.
"Well, what do you want me to do?"

He leaned forward in his chair, closer to her, and did not mark--poor
fool!--that, as he drew near, she recoiled ever so slightly from him.

"There are two things," he said insinuatingly, "which you could do,
Theresia, either of which would place Robespierre under such lasting
obligation to you that he would admit us into the inner circle of his
friends, trust us and confide in us as he does in St. Just or

"Trust you, you mean. He never would trust a woman."

"It means the same thing--security for us both."

"Well?" she rejoined. "What are these two things?"

He paused a moment, appeared to hesitate; then said resolutely:

"Firstly, there is Bertrand Moncrif... and his Fatalists-"

Her face hardened. She shook her head.

"I warned Robespierre about to-night," she said. "I knew that a lot of
young fools meant to cause a fracas in the Rue St. Honor. But the
whole thing has been a failure, and Robespierre has no use for

"It need not be a failure--even yet."

"What do you mean?"

"Robespierre will be here directly," he urged, in a whisper rendered
hoarse with excitement. "Bertrand Moncrif is here--Why not deliver the
young traitor, and earn Robespierre's gratitude?"

"Oh!" she broke in indignant protest. Then, as she caught the look of
jealous anger which at her obvious agitation suddenly flared up in his
narrow eyes again, she went on with a careless shrug of her statuesque
shoulders: "Bertrand is not here, as I told you, my friend. So these
means of serving your cause are out of my reach."

"Theresia," he urged, "by deceiving me-"

"By tantalizing me," she broke in harshly, "you do yourself no good.
Let us understand one another, my friend," she went on more gently.
"You wish me to serve you by serving the dictator of France. And I
tell you you'll not gain your ends by taunting me."

"Theresia, we must make friends with Robespierre! He has the power; he
rules over France. Whilst I-"

"Ah!" she retorted with vehemence. "That is where you and your weak-
kneed friends are wrong! You say that Robespierre rules France. 'Tis
not true. It is not Robespierre, the man, who rules; it is his name!
The name of Robespierre has become a fetish, an idolatry. Before it
every head is bent and every courage cowed. It rules by the fear which
it evokes and by the slavery which it compels under the perpetual
threat of death. Believe me," she insisted, "'tis not Robespierre who
rules, but the guillotine which he wields! And we are all of us
helpless--you and I and your friends. And all the others who long to
see the end of this era of bloodshed and of revenge, we have got to do
as he tells us--pile up crime upon crime, massacre upon massacre, and
bear the odium of it all, while he stands aloof in darkness and in
solitude, the brain that guides, whilst you and your party are only
the hands that strike. Oh! the humiliation of it! And if you were but
men, all of you, instead of puppets-"

"Hush, Theresia, in heaven's name!" Tallien broke in peremptorily at
last. He had vainly tried to pacify her while she poured forth the
vials of her resentment and her contempt. But now his ears, attuned to
sensitiveness by an ever-present danger, had caught a sound which
proceeded from the vestibule--a sound which made him shudder--a
footstep--the opening of a door--a voice. "Hush!" he entreated. "Every
dumb wall has ears, these days!"

She broke into a harsh, excited little laugh.

"You are right, my friend," she said under her breath. "What do I
care, after all? What do any of us care now, so long as our necks are
fairly safe upon our shoulders? But I'll not sell Bertrand," she added
firmly. "If I did it I should despise myself too much and hate you
worse. So tell me quickly what else I can do to propitiate the ogre!"

"He'll tell you himself," Tallien murmured hurriedly, as the sounds in
the vestibule became more loud and distinctive. "Here they are! And,
in heaven's name, Theresia, remember that our lives are at that one
man's mercy!"


The Grim Idol that the World Adores


Theresia, being a woman, was necessarily the more accomplished actor.
While Tallien retired into a gloomy corner of the room, vainly trying
to conceal his agitation, she rose quite serene in order to greet her

Pepita had just admitted into her mistress's apartments a singular
group, composed of two able-bodied men supporting a palsied one. One
of the former was St. Just, one of the most romantic figures of the
Revolutionary period, the confidant and intimate friend of Robespierre
and own cousin to Armand St. Just and to the beautiful Marguerite, who
had married the fastidious English milord, Sir Percy Blakeney. The
other was Chauvelin, at one time one of the most influential members
of the Committee of Public Safety, now little more than a hanger-on of
Robespierre's party. A man of no account, to whom not even Tallien and
his colleagues thought it worth while to pay their court. The palsied
man was Couthon, despite his crimes an almost pathetic figure in his
helplessness, after his friends had deposited him in an armchair and
wrapped a rug around his knees. The carrying chair in which he spent
the greater part of his life had been left down below in the
concierge's lodge, and St. Just and Chauvelin had carried him up the
three flights of stairs to citoyenne Cabarrus's apartment.

Close behind these three men came Robespierre.

Heavens! if a thunderbolt had fallen from the skies on that night of
the 26th of April, 1794, and destroyed house No. 22 in the Rue
Villedot, with all those who were in it, what a torrent of blood would
have been stemmed, what horrors averted, what misery forefended!

But nothing untoward happened. The four men who sat that night and
well into the small hours of the morning in the dingy apartment,
occupied for the present by the beautiful Cabarrus, were allowed by
inscrutable Providence to discuss their nefarious designs unchecked.

In truth, there was no discussion. One man dominated the small
assembly, even though he sat for the most part silent and apparently
self-absorbed, wrapped in that taciturnity and even occasional
somnolence which seemed to have become a pose with him of late. He sat
on a high chair, prim and upright. Immaculately dressed in blue cloth
coat and white breeches, with clean linene at throat and wrist, his
hair neatly tied back with a black silk bow, his nails polished, his
shoes free from mud, he presented a marked contrast to the ill-
conditioned appearance of those other products of revolutionary

St. Just, on the other hand--young, handsome, a brilliant talker and
convinced enthusiast--was only too willing to air his compelling
eloquence, was in effect the mouthpiece of the great man as he was his
confidant and his right hand. He had acquired in the camps which he so
frequently visited a breezy, dictatorial manner that pleased his
friends and irritated Tallien and his clique, more especially when
sententious phrases fell from his lips which were obviously the echo
of some of Robespierre's former speeches in the Convention.

Then there was Couthon, sarcastic and contemptuous, delighting to
tease Tallien and to affect a truculent manner, which brought abject
flattery from the other's lips.

St. just the fiery young demagogue, and Couthon the half-paralysed
enthusiast, were known to be pushing their leader toward the
proclamation of a triumvirate, with Robespierre as chief dictator and
themselves as his two hands; and it amused the helpless cripple to see
just how far the obsequiousness to Tallien and his colleagues would go
in subscribing to so monstrous a project.

As for Chauvelin, he said very little, and the deference wherewith he
listened to the others, the occasional unctuous words which he let
fall, bore testimony to the humiliating subservience to which he had

And the beautiful Theresia, presiding over the small assembly like a
goddess who listens to the prattle of men, sat for the most part quite
still, on the one dainty piece of furniture of which her dingy
apartment boasted. She was careful to sit so that the rosy glow of the
lamp fell on her in the direction most becoming to her attitude. From
time to time she threw in a word; but all the while her whole
attention was concentrated on what was said. At her future husband's
fulsome words of flattery, at his obvious cowardice before the popular
idol and his cringing abjectness, a faint smile of contempt would now
and then force itself up to her lips. But she neither reproved nor
encouraged him. And when Robespierre appeared to be flattered by
Tallien's obsequiousness she even gave a little sigh of satisfaction.


St. Just, now s always the mouthpiece of his friend, was the first to
give a serious turn to the conversation. Compliments, flatteries, had
gone their round; platitudes, grandiloquent phrases on the subject of
country, intellectual revolution, liberty, purity, and so on, had been
spouted with varying eloquence. The fraternal suppers had been alluded
to with servile eulogy of the giant brain who had conceived the

Then it was that St. Just broke into a euphemistic account of the
disorderly scene in the Rue St. Honor.

Theresia Cabarrus, roused from her queen-like indifference, at once
became interested.

"The young traitor!" she exclaimed, with a great show of indignation.
"Who was he? What was he like?"

Couthon gave quite a minute description of Bertrand, and accurate one,
too. He had faces the blasphemer--thus was he called by this compact
group of devotees and sycophants--for fully five minutes, and despite
the flickering and deceptive light, had studied his features,
distorted by fury and hate, and was quite sure that he would know them

Theresia listened eagerly, caught every inflection of the voices as
they discussed the strange events that followed. The keenest observer
there could not have detected the slightest agitation in her large,
velvety eyes--not even when the met Robespierre's coldly inquiring
gaze. No one--not even Tallien--could have guessed what an effort it
cost her to appear unconcerned, when all the while she was straining
every sense in the direction of the small kitchen at the end of the
passage, where the much-discussed Bertrand was still lying concealed.

However, the certainty that Robespierre's spies and those of the
Committees had apparently lost complete track of Moncrif, did much to
restore her assurance, and her gaiety became after awhile somewhat
more real.

At one time she turned boldly to Tallien.

"You were there, too, citizen," she said provokingly. "Did you not
recognise any of the traitors?"

Tallien stammered out an evasive answer, implored her with a look not
to taunt him and not to play like a thoughtless child within sight and
hearing of a man-eating tiger. Thereisa's dalliance with the young and
handsome Bertrand must in truth be known to Robespierre's army of
spies, and he--Tallien--was not altogether convinced that the fair
Spaniard, despite her assurances to the contrary, was not harbouring
Moncrif in her apartment even now.

Therefore he would not meet her tantalizing glance; and she, delighted
to tease, threw herself with greater zest than before into the
discussion, amused to see sober Tallien, whom in her innermost heart
she despised, enduring tortures of apprehension.

"Ah!" she exclaimed, apparently enraptured by St. Just's glowing
account of the occurrence, "what would I not give to have seen it all!
In truth, we do not often get such thrilling incidents every day in
this dull and dreary Paris. The death-carts with their load of
simpering aristos have ceased to entertain us. But the drama in the
Rue St. Honor!  la bonne heure! What a palpitating scene!"

"Especially," added Couthon, "the spiriting away of the company of
traitors through the agency of that mysterious giant, who some aver
was just a coal-heaver named Rateau, well known to half the night-
birds of the city as an asthmatic reprobate; whilst others vow that he

"Name him not, friend Couthon," St. Just broke in with a sarcastic
chuckle. "I pray thee, spare the feelings of citizen Chauvelin." And
his bold, provoking eyes shot a glance of cool irony on the
unfortunate victim of his taunt.

Chauvelin made no retort, pressed his thin lips more tightly together
as if to smother any incipient expression of the resentment which he
felt. Instinctively his glance sought those of Robespierre, who sat
by, still apparently disinterested and impassive, with head bent and
arms cross over his narrow chest.

"Ah, yes!" here interposed Tallien unctuously. "Citizen Chauvelin has
had one or two opportunities of measuring his prowess against that of
the mysterious Englishman; but we are told that, despite his talents,
he has met with no success in that direction."

"Do not tease our modest friend Chauvelin, I pray you, citizen,"
Theresia broke in gaily. "The Scarlet Pimpernel--that is the name of
the mysterious Englishman, is it not?--is far more elusive and a
thousand times more resourceful and daring than any mere man can
possibly conceive. 'Tis woman's wits that will bring him to his knees
one day. You can take my word for that!"

"Your wits, citoyenne?"

Robespierre had spoken. It was the first time, since the discussion
had turned on the present subject, that he had opened his lips. All
eyes were at once reverentially turned to him. His own, cold and
sarcastic, were fixed upon Theresia Cabarrus.

She returned his glance with provoking coolness, shrugged her splendid
shoulders, and retorted airily:

"Oh, you want a woman with some talent as a sleuthhound--a female
counterpart of citizen Chauvelin. I have no genius in that direction."

"Why not?" Robespierre went on drily. "You, fair citoyenne, would be
well qualified to deal with the Scarlet Pimpernel, seeing that your
adorer, Bertrand Moncrif, appears to be a protg of the mysterious

At this taunt, uttered by the dictator with deliberate emphasis, like
one who knows what he is talking about, Tallien gave a gasp and his
sallow cheeks became the colour of lead. But Theresia placed her cool,
reassuring hand upon his.

"Bertrand Moncrif," she said serenely, "is no adorer of mine. He
foreswore his allegiance to me on the day that I plighted my troth to
citizen Tallien."

"That is as may be," Robespierre retorted coldly. "But he certainly
was the leader of the gang of traitors whom that meddlesome English
rabble chose to snatch away to-night from the vengeance of a justly
incensed populace."

"How do you know that, citizen Robespierre?" Theresia asked. She was
still maintaining an outwardly calm attitude; her voice was apparently
quite steady, her glance absolutely serene. Only Tallien's keen
perceptions were able to note the almost wax-like pallor which had
spread over her cheeks and the strained, high-pitched tone of her
usually mellow voice. "Why do you suppose, citizen," she insisted,
"that Bertrand Moncrif had anything to do with the fracas to-night?
Methought he had emigrated to England--or somewhere," she added
airily, "after--after I gave him his definite cong."

"Did you think that, citoyenne?" Robespierre rejoined with a wry
smile. "Then let me tell you that you are under a misapprehension.
Moncrif, the traitor, was the leader of the gang that tried to rouse
the people against me to-night. You ask me how I know it?" he added
icily. "Well, I saw him--that is all!"

"Ah!" exclaimed Theresia, in well-played mild astonishment. "You say
Bertrand Moncrif, citizen? He is in Paris, then?"


"Strange, he never came to see me!"

"Strange, indeed!"

"What does he look like? Some people have told me that he is getting

The discussion had now resolved itself into a duel between these two:
the ruthless dictator, sure of his power, and the beautiful woman,
conscious of hers. The atmosphere of the drabbily furnished room had
became electrical. Every one felt it. Every man instinctively held his
breath, conscious of the quickening of his pulses, of the accelerated
beating of his heart.

Both the duellists appeared perfectly calm. Of the two, in truth,
Robespierre appeared the most moved. His staccato voice, the drumming
of his pointed fingers upon the arms of his chair, suggested that the
banter of the beautiful Theresia was getting on his nerves. It was
like the lashing of a puma's tail, the irritation of a tempter
unaccustomed to being provoked, and Theresia was clever enough--above
all, woman enough--to note that, since the dictator was moved, he
could not be perfectly sure of his ground. He would not display this
secret irritation if by a word he could confound his beautiful
adversary, and openly threaten where now he only insinuated.

"He saw Bertrand in the Rue St. Honor," was the sum total of her
quick reasoning; "but does not know that he is here. I wonder what it
is he does want!" came as an afterthought.

The one that really suffered throughout, and suffered acutely, was
Tallien. He would have given all that he possessed to know for a
certainty that Bertrand Moncrif was no longer in the house. Surely
Theresia would not be foolhardy enough to provoke the powerful
dictator into one of those paroxysms of spiteful fury for which he was
notorious--fury wherein he might be capable of anything--insulting his
hostess, setting his spies to search her apartments for a traitor if
he suspected one of lying hidden away somewhere. In truth, Tallien,
trembling for his beloved, was ready to swoon. How marvellous she was!
how serene! While men held their breath before the inexorable despot,
she went on teasing the tiger, even though he had already begun to

"I entreat you, citizen Robespierre," she said, with a pout, "to tell
me if Bertrand Moncrif has grown fat."

"That I cannot tell you, citoyenne," Robespierre replied curtly.
"Having recognized my enemy, I no longer paid heed to him. My
attention was arrested by his rescuer-"

"That elusive Scarlet Pimpernel," she broke in gaily. "Unrecognizable
to all save to citizen Robespierre, under the disguise of an asthmatic
gossoon. Ah, would I had been there!"

"I would you had, citoyenne," he retorted. "You would have realized
that to refuse your help to unmask an abominable spy after such an
episode is tantamount to treason."

Her gaiety dropped from her like a mantle. In a moment she was
serious, puzzled. A frown appeared between her brows. Her dark eyes
flashed, rapidly inquiring, suspicious, fearful, upon Robespierre.

"To refuse my help?" she asked slowly. "My help in unmasking a spy? I
do not understand."

She looked from one man to the other. Chauvelin was the only one who
would not meet her gaze. No, not the only one. Tallien, too, appeared
absorbed in contemplating his finger nails.

"Citizen Tallien," she queried harshly. "What does this mean?"

"It means just what I said," Robespierre intervene coldly. "That
abominable English spy has fooled us all. You said yourself that 'tis
a woman's wit that will bring that elusive adventurer to his knees one
day. Why not yours?"

Theresia gave no immediate reply. She was meditating. Here, then, was
this other means to her hand, whereby she was to propitiate the man-
eating tiger, turn his snarl into a purr, obtain immunity for herself
and her future lord, but what a prospect!

"I fear me, citizen Robespierre," she said after awhile, "that you
overestimate the keenness of my wits."

"Impossible!" he retorted drily.

And St. Just, ever the echo of his friend's unspoken words, added with
a great show of gallantry:

"The citoyenne Cabarrus, even from her prison in Bordeaux, succeeded
in snaring our friend Tallien, and making him the slave of her

"Then why not the Scarlet Pimpernel?" was Couthon's simple conclusion.

"The Scarlet Pimpernel!" Theresia exclaimed with a shrug of her
handsome shoulders. "The Scarlet Pimpernel, forsooth! Why, meseems
that no one knows who he is! Just now you all affirmed that he was a
coal-heaver named Rateau. I cannot make love to a coal-heaver, can I?"

"Citizen Chauvelin knows who the Scarlet Pimpernel is," Couthon went
on deliberately. "He will put you on the right track. All that we want
is that he should be at your feet. It is so easy for the citoyenne
Cabarrus to accomplish that."

"But if you know who he is," she urged, "why do you need my help?"

"Because," St. Just replied, "the moment that he lands in France he
sheds his identity, as a man would a coat. Here, there, everywhere--he
is more elusive than a ghost, for a ghost is always the same, whilst
the Scarlet Pimpernel is never twice alike. A coal-heaver one day; a
prince of dandies the next. He has lodgings in every quarter of Paris
and quits them at a moment's notice. He has confederates everywhere:
concierges, cabaret-keepers, soldiers, vagabonds. He has been a public
letter-writer, a sergeant of the National Guard, a rogue, a thief!
'Tis only in England that he is always the same, and citizen Chauvelin
can identify him there. 'Tis there that you can see him, citoyenne,
there that you can spread your nets for him; from thence that you can
lure him to France in your train, like you lured citizen Tallien to
obey your every whim in Bordeaux. Once a man hath fallen a victim to
the charms of beautiful Theresia Cabarrus," added the young demagogue
gallantly, "she need only to beackon and he will follow, as does
citizen Tallien, as did Bertrand Moncrif, as do so many others. Bring
the Scarlet Pimpernel to your feet, here in Pairs, citoyenne, and we
will do the rest."

While his young devotee spoke thus vehemently, Robespierre had
relapsed into his usual pose of affected detachment. His head was
bent, his arms were folded across his chest. He appeared to be asleep.
When St. Just paused, Theresia waiting awhile, her dark eyes fixed on
the great man who had conceived this monstrous project. Monstrous,
because of the treachery that it demanded.

Theresia Cabarrus had in truth identified herself with the
Revolutionary government. She had promised to marry Tallien, who
outwardly at least was as bloodthirsty and ruthless as was Robespierre
himself; but she was a woman and not a demon. She had refused to sell
Bertrand Moncrif in order to pander to Tallien's fear of Robespierre.
To entice a man--whoever he was--into making love to her, and then to
betray him to his death, was in itself an abhorrent idea. What she
might do if actual danger of death threatened her, she did not know.
No human soul can with certainty say, "I would not do this or that,
under any circumstances whatever!" Circumstance and impulse are the
only two forces that create cowards or heroes. Principles, will-power,
virtue, are really subservient to those two. If they prove the
stronger, everything in man must yield to them.

And Theresia Cabarrus had not yet been tried by force of circumstance
or driven by force of impulse. Self-preservation was her dominant law,
and she had not yet been in actual fear of death.

This is not a justification on the part of this veracious chronicle of
Theresia's subsequent actions; it is an explanation. Faced with this
demand upon her on the part of the most powerful despot in France, she
hesitated, even though she did not altogether dare to refuse.
Womanlike, she tried to temporize.

She appeared puzzled; frowned. Then asked vaguely:

"Is it then that you wish me to go to England?"

St. Just nodded.

"But," she continued, in the same indeterminate manner, "meseems that
you talk very glibly of my--what shall I say?--my proposed dalliance
with the mysterious Englishman. Suppose he--he does not respond?"

"Impossible!" Couthon broke in quickly.

"Oh!" she protested. "Impossible? Englishmen are known to be prudish--
moral--what? And if they man is married--what then?"

"The citoyenne Cabarrus underrates her powers," St. Just riposted

"Theresia, I entreat!" Tallien put in dolefully.

He felt that the interview, from which he had hoped so much, was
proving a failure--nay, worse! For he realized that Robespierre,
thwarted in this desire, would bitterly resent Theresia's positive
refusal to help him.

"Eh, what?" she riposted lightly. "And it is you, citizen Tallien, who
would push me into this erotic adventure? I' faith, your trust in me
is highly flattering! Have you not thought that in the process I might
fall in love with the Scarlet Pimpernel myself? He is young, they say,
handsome, adventurous; and I am to try and capture his fancy... the
butterfly is to dance around the flame.... No, no! I am too much
afraid that I may singe my wings!"

"Does that mean," Robespierre put in coldly, "that you refuse us your
help, citoyenne Cabarrus?"

"Yes--I refuse," she replied calmly. "The project does not please me,
I confess-"

"Not even if we guaranteed immunity to your lover, Bertrand Moncrif?"

She gave a slight shudder. Her lips felt dry, and she passed her
tongue rapidly over them.

"I have no lover, except citizen Tallien," she said steadily, and
placed her fingers, which had suddenly become ice-cold, upon the
clasped hands of her future lord. Then she rose, thereby giving the
signal for the breaking-up of the little party.

In truth, she knew as well as Tallien that the meeting had been a
failure. Tallien was looking sallow and terribly worried. Robespierre,
taciturn and sullen, gave her one threatening glance before he took
his leave.

"You know, citoyenne," he said coldly, "that the nation has means at
its disposal for compelling its citizens to do their duty."

"Ah, bah!" retorted the fair Spaniard, shrugging her shoulders. "I am
not a citizen of France. And even your unerring Public Prosecutor
would find it difficult to frame an accusation against me."

Again she laughed, determined to appear gay and inconsequent through
it all.

"Think how the accusation would sound, citizen Robespierre!" she went
on mockingly. "'The citoyenne Cabarrus, for refusing to make amorous
overtures to the mysterious Englishman known as the Scarlet Pimpernel,
and for refusing to administer a love-philtre to him as prepared by
Mother Thot at the bidding of citizen Robespierre!' Confess!
Confess!" she added, and her rippling laugh had a genuine note of
merriment in it at last, "that we none of us would survive such

Theresia Cabarrus was a clever woman, and by speaking the word
"ridicule," she had touched the one weak chink in the tyrant's armour.
But it is not always safe to prod a tiger, even with a child's cane,
or even from behind protecting bars. Tallien knew this well enough. He
was on tenterhooks, longing to see the others depart so that he might
throw himself once again at Theresia's feet and implore her to obey
the despot's commands.

But Theresia appeared unwilling to give him such another chance. She
professed intense fatigue, bade him "good night" with such obvious
finality, that he dared not outstay his welcome. A few moments later
they had all gone. Their gracious hostess accompanied them to the
door, since Pepita had by this time certainly gone to bed. The little
procession was formed, with St. Just and Chauvelin supporting their
palsied comrade, Robespierre detached and silent, and finally Tallien,
whose last appealing look to his beloved would have melted a heart of


Strange Happenings


Now the dingy little apartment in the Rue Villedot was silent and
dark. The elegant little lamp with its rose-coloured shade was turned
down in the withdrawing-room, leaving only a tiny glimmer of light,
which failed to dispel the gloom around. The nocturnal visitors had
departed more than a quarter of an hour ago; nevertheless, the
beautiful hostess had not yet gone to bed. In fact, she had hardly
moved since she bade the final adieu to her timorous lover. The
enforced gaiety of the last few moments still sat like a mask upon her
face. All that she had done was to sink with a sigh of weariness upon
the settee.

And there she remained, with neck craned forward, listening, straining
every nerve to listen, even though the heavy, measured footsteps of
the five men had long since ceased to echo up and down the stone
passages and stairs. Her foot, in its quaint small sandal, beat now
and then an impatient tattoo upon the threadbare carpet. Her eyes at
intervals cast anxious looks upon the old-fashioned clock above the

It struck half-past two. Whereupon Theresia rose and went out into the
vestibule. Here a tallow candle flickered faintly in its pewter sconce
and emitted an evil-smelling smoke, which rose in spirals to the
blackened ceiling.

Theresia paused, glanced inquiringly down the narrow passage which
gave access to the little kitchen beyond. Between the kitchen and the
corner of the vestibule where she was standing, two doors gave on the
passage: her bedroom, and that of her maid Pepita. Theresia was
vividly conscious of the strange silence which reigned in the whole
apartment. The passage was pitch dark save at its farthest end, where
a tiny ray of light found its way underneath the kitchen door.

The silence was oppressive, almost terrifying. In a hoarse, anxious
voice, Theresia called:


But there came no answer. Pepita apparently had gone to bed, was fast
asleep by now. But what had become of Bertrand?

Full of vague misgivings, her nerves tingling with a nameless fear,
Theresia picked up the candle and tiptoed down the passage. Outside
Pepita's door she paused and listened. Her large dark eyes looked
weird in their expression of puzzlement and of awe, the flickering
light of the candle throwing gleams of orange-coloured lights into the
depths of the widely dilated pupils.

"Pepita!" she called; and somehow the sound of her own voice added to
her terror. Strange that she should be frightened like this in her own
familiar apartment, and with a faithful, sturdy maid sleeping the
other side of this thin partition wall!

"Pepita!" Theresia's voice was shaking. She tried to open the door,
but it was locked. Why had Pepita, contrary to her habit, locked
herself in? Had she, too, been a prey to some unexplainable panic?
Theresia knocked against the door, rattled the handle in its socket,
called more loudly and more insistently, "Pepita!" and, receiving no
reply, fell, half-swooning with fear, against the partition wall,
whilst the candle slipped out of her trembling grasp and fell with a
clatter to the ground.

She was now in complete darkness, with senses reeling and brain
paralysed. How long she remained thus, in a state bordering on
collapse, she did not know; probably not more than a minute or so.
Consciousness returned quickly, and with it the cold sweat of an
abject fear; for through this returning consciousness she had
perceived a groan issuing from behind the locked door. But her knees
were still shaking; she felt unable to move.

"Pepita!" she called again; and to her own ears her voice sounded
hoarse and muffled. Straining her ears and holding her breath, she
once more caught the sound of a smothered grown.

Whereupon, driven into action by the obvious distress of her maid,
Theresia recovered a certain measure of self-control. Pulling herself
vigorously together, she began by groping for the candle which had
dropped out of her hand a while ago. Even as she stooped down for this
she contrived to say in a moderately clear and firm voice:

"Courage, Pepita! I'll find the light and come back." Then she added:
"Are you unable to unlock the door?"

To this, however, she received no reply save another muffled groan.

Theresia now was on her hands and knees, groping for the candlestick.
Then a strange thing happened. Her hands, as they wandered vaguely
along the flagged floor, encountered a small object, which proved to
be a key. In an instant she was on her feet again, her fingers running
over the door until they encountered the keyhole. Into this she
succeeded, after further groping, in inserting the key; it fitted and
turned the lock. She pushed open the door, and remained paralysed with
surprise upon the threshold.

Pepita was reclining in an arm-chair, her hands tied behind her, a
woollen shawl wound loosely around her mouth. In a distant corner of
the room, a small oil-lamp, turned very low, cast a glimmer of light
upon the scene. For Theresia to run to the pinioned woman and undo the
bonds that held her was but the work of a few seconds.

"Pepita!" she cried. "What in heaven's name has happened?"

The woman seemed not much the worse for her enforced duress. She
groaned, and even swore under her breath, and indeed appeared more
dazed than hurt. Theresia, impatient and excited, had to shake her
more than once vigorously by the shoulder before she was able to
gather her scattered wits together.

"Where is M. Bertrand?" Theresia asked repeatedly, ere she got a reply
from her bewildered maid.

At last Pepita was able to speak.

"In very truth, Madame," she said slowly, "I do not know."

"How do you mean, you do not know?" Theresia queried, with a deepened

"Just what I saw, my pigeon," Pepita retorted with marked acerbity.
"You ask me what has happened, and I say I do not know. You want to
know what has become of M. Bertrand. Then go and look for yourself.
When I last say him, he was in the kitchen, unfit to move, the poor

"But, Pepita," Theresia insisted, and stamped her foot with
impatience, "you must know how you came to be sitting here, pinioned
and muffled. Who did it? Who has been here? God preserve the woman,
will she never speak!"

Pepita by now had fully recovered her senses. She had struggled to her
feet, and went to take up the lamp, then led the way toward the door,
apparently intent on finding out for herself what had become of M.
Bertrand and in no way sharing her mistress's unreasoning terror. She
halted on the threshold and turned to Theresia, who quite mechanically
started to follow her.

"M. Bertrand was sitting in the arm-chair in the kitchen," she said
simply. "I was arranging a cushion for his head, to make him more
comfortable, when suddenly a shawl was flung over my head without the
slightest warning. I had seen nothing; I had not heard the merest
sound. And I had not the time to utter a scream before I was muffled
up in the shawl. Then I was lifted off the ground as if I were a sack
of feathers, and I just remember smelling something acrid which made
my head spin round and round. But I remember nothing more after until
I heard voices in the vestibule when thy guests were going away. Then
I heard thy voice and tried to make thee hear mine. And that is all!"

"When did that happen, Pepita?"

"Soon after the last of thy guests had arrived. I remember I looked at
the clock. It must have been half an hour after midnight."

While the woman spoke, Theresia had remained standing in the middle of
the room, looking in the gloom like an elfin apparition, with her
clinging, diaphanous draperies. A frown of deep puzzlement lay between
her brows and her lips were tightly pressed together as if in wrath;
but she said nothing more, and when Pepita, lamp in hand, went out of
the room, she followed.


When, the kitchen door being opened, that room was found to be empty,
Theresia was no longer surprised. Somehow she had expected this. She
knew that Bertrand would be gone. The windows of the kitchen gave on
the ubiquitous wrought-iron balcony, as did all the other windows of
the apartment. That those windows were unfastened, had only been
pushed to from the outside, appeared to her as a matter of course. It
was not Bertrand who had thrown the shawl over Pepita's head;
therefore some one had come in from the outside and had kidnapped
Bertrand--some one who was peculiarly bold and daring. He had not come
in from the balcony and through the window, because the latter had
been fastened as usual by Pepita much earlier in the evening. No! He
had gone that way, taking Bertrand with him; but he must have entered
the place in some other mysterious manner, like a disembodied sprite
bent on mischief or mystery.

Whilst Pepita fumbled and grumbled, Theresia started on a tour of
inspection. Still deeply puzzled, she was no longer afraid. With
Pepita to speak and the lamps all turned on, her habitual courage and
self-possession had quickly returned to her. She had no belief in the
supernatural. Her materialistic, entirely rational mind at once
rejected the supposition, hinted at by Pepita, that magical powers had
been at work to take Bertrand Moncrif to a place of safety.

Something was going on in her brain, certain theories, guesses,
conjectures, which she was passionately eager to set at rest. Nor did
it take her long. Candle in hand, she had gone round to explore. No
sooner had she entered her own bedroom than the solution of the
mystery lay revealed before her, in a shutter, forced open from the
outside, a broken pane of glass which had allowed a hand to creep in
and surreptitiously turn the handle of the tall French window to allow
of easy ingress. It had been quickly and cleverly done; the splinters
of glass had made no noise as they fell upon the carpet. But for the
disappearance of Bertrand, the circumstances suggested a nimble
housebreaker rather than a benevolent agency for the rescue of young
rashlings in distress.

The frown of puzzlement deepened on Theresia Cabarrus's brow, and her
mobile mouth with the perfectly arched if somewhat thin lips expressed
a kind of feline anger, whilst the hand that held the pewter
candlestick trembled perceptibly.

Pepita's astonishment expressed itself by sundry exclamations: "Name
of a name!" and "Is it possible?" The explanation of the mystery had
loosened her tongue, and while she set stolidly to work to clear up
the debris of glass in her mistress's bedroom, she allowed free rein
to her indignation against the impudent marauder, who in doubt had
only been foiled in his attempt at wholesale robbery by some lucky
circumstance which would presently come to light.

The worthy old peasant absolutely refused to connect the departure of
M. Bertrand with so obvious an attempt at housebreaking.

"M. Bertrand was determined to go, the poor cabbage!" she said
decisively; "since thou didst make him understand that his staying
here was a danger to the front door whilst thou wast engaged in
conversation with that pack of murderers, whom may the good God punish
one of these days!"

From which remark we may gather that Pepita had not imbibed
revolutionary ideals with the air of her native Andalusia.

Theresia Cabarrus, wearied beyond endurance by all the events of this
night, as well as by her old servant's incessant gabble, finally sent
her, still muttering and grumbling, to bed.




Theresia had opposed a stern refusal to Pepita's request that she
might put her mistress to bed before she herself went to rest. She did
not want to go to bed: she wanted to think, and now that that peculiar
air of mystery, that silence and semi-darkness no longer held their
gruesome sway in her apartment, she did not feel afraid.

Pepita went to bed. For awhile, Theresia could hear her moving about,
with ponderous, shuffling footsteps; then, presently everything was
still. The clock of old St. Roch struck three. Not much more than half
an hour had gone by since her guests had been departed. To Theresia it
seemed like an infinity of time. The sense of a baffling mystery being
at work around her had roused her ire and killed all latent fear.

But what was the mystery?

And was there a mystery at all? Or was Pepita's rational explanation
of the occurrence of this night the right one after all?

Citoyenne Cabarrus, unable to sit still, wandered up and down the
passage, in and out of the kitchen; in and out of her bedroom, and
thence into the vestibule. Then back again. At one moment, when
standing in the vestibule, she thought she heard some one moving on
the landing outside the front door. Her heart beat a little more
rapidly, but she was not afraid. She did not believe in housebreakers
and she felt that Pepita, who was a very light sleeper, was well
within call.

So she went to the front door and opened it. The quick cry which she
gave was one of surprise rather than of fear. In her belated visitor
she had recognized citizen Chauvelin; and somehow, by a vague process
of reasoning, his presence just at this moment seemed quite rational--
in keeping with the unsolved mystery that was so baffling to the fair

"May I come in, citoyenne?" Chauvelin said in a whisper. "It is late,
I know; but there is urgency."

He was standing on the threshold, and she, a few paces away from him
in the vestibule. The candle, which now burned low in its socket, was
behind her. Its light touched with a weird, flickering glow on the
pale face of the once noted Terrorist, with its pale eyes and sharply
hooked nose, which gave him the air of a gaunt bird of prey.

"It is late," she murmured vaguely. "What do you want?"

"Something has happened," he replied, still speaking below his breath.
"Something which concerns you. And, before speaking of it to citizen

At the dread name Theresia stepped farther back into the vestibule.

"Enter!" she said curtly.

He came in, and she closed the door carefully behind him. Then she led
the way into the withdrawing room and turned up the wick of the lamp
under its rosy shade. She sat down and motioned to him to do the same.

"What is it?" she asked.

Before replying, Chauvelin's finger and thumb--thin and pointed like
the talons of a vulture--went fumbling in the pocket of his waistcoat.
From it he extracted a small piece of neatly folded paper.

"When we left your apartment, citoyenne--my friend St. Just and I
supporting poor palsied Couthon, and Robespierre following close
behind us--I spied this scrap of paper, which St. Just's careless foot
had just kicked to one side when he was stepping across the threshold.
Some unknown hand must have insinuated it underneath the door. Now, I
never despise stray bits of paper. I have had so many through my hands
that proved after examination to be of paramount importance. So,
whilst the others were busy with their own affairs I, unseen by them,
had already stooped and picked the paper up."

He paused for a moment or two, then, satisfied that he held the
beautiful woman's undivided attention, he went on in his habitual dry,
urbane monotone:

"Now, though I was quite sure in my own mind, citoyenne, that this
billet-doux was intended for your fair hands, I felt that, as its
finder, I had some sort of lien upon it-"

"To the point, citizen, I pray you!" Theresia broke in harshly, tried
by a show of impatience and of fatigue to hide the anxiety which had
once more taken possession of her heart. "You found a letter addressed
to me; you read it. As you have brought it here, I presume that you
wish me to know its contents. So get on, man, get on!" she added more
vehemently. "It is not at three in the morning that one cares for

By way of reply, Chauvelin slowly unfolded the not and began to read:

"'Bertrand Moncrif is a young fool, but he is too good to be the
plaything of a sleek black pantheress, however beautiful she might be.
So I am taking him away to England where, in the arms of his long-
suffering and loyal sweetheart, he will soon forget the brief madness
which so nearly landed him on the guillotine and made of him a tool to
serve the selfish whims of Theresia Cabarrus.'"

Theresia had listened to the brief, enigmatic epistle without
displaying the slightest sign of emotion or surprise. Now, when
Chauvelin had finished reading, and with his strange, dry smile had
handed her the tiny note, she took it and for awhile contemplated it
in silence, her face perfectly placid save for a curious and ominous
contraction of the brows and a screwing-up of the fine eyes, which
gave her a curious, snake-like expression.

"You know, of course, citoyenne," Chauvelin said after awhile, "who
the writer of this--shall we say?--impudent epistle happens to be?"

She nodded.

"The man," he went on placidly, "who goes by the name of the Scarlet
Pimpernel. The impudent English adventurer whom citizen Robespierre
has asked you, citoyenne, to lure into the net which we may spread for

Still Theresia was silent. She did not look at Chauvelin, but kept her
eyes fixed upon the scrap of paper, which she had folded into a long,
narrow ribbon and was twining in and out between her fingers.

"A while ago, citoyenne," Chauvelin continued, "in this very room, you
refused to lend us a helping hand."

Still no reply from Theresia. She had just smoothed out the mysterious
epistle, carefully folded it into four, and was in the act of slipping
it into the bosom of her gown. Chauvelin waited quite patiently. He
was accustomed to waiting, and patience was an integral part of his
stock in trade. Opportunism was another.

Theresia was sitting on her favourite settee, leaning forward with her
hands clasped between her knees, her head was bent, and the tiny rose-
shaded lamp failed to throw its glimmer of light upon her face. The
clock on the mantelshelf behind her was ticking with insentient
monotony. Anon, a distant chime struck the quarter after three.
Whereupon Chauvelin rose.

"I think we understand one another, citoyenne," he said quietly, and
with a sigh of complete satisfaction. "It is late now. At what hour
may I have the privilege of seeing you alone?"

"At three in the afternoon?" she replied tonelessly, like one speaking
in a dream. "Citizen Tallien is always at the Convention then, and my
door will be denied to everybody else."

"I'll be here at three o'clock," was Chauvelin's final word.

Theresia had not moved. He made her a deep bow and went out of the
room. The next moment, the opening and shutting of the outer door
proclaimed that he had gone.

After that, Theresia Cabarrus went to bed.


The Fisherman's Rest


And whilst the whole of Europe was in travail with the repercussion of
the gigantic upheaval that was shaking France to its historic
foundations, the last few years had seen by very little change in this
little corner of England.

The Fisherman's Rest stood where it had done for two centuries and
long before thrones had tottered and anointed heads fallen on the
scaffold. The oak rafters, black with age, the monumental hearth, the
tables and high-backed benches, seemed like mute testimonies to good
order and to tradition, just as the shiny pewter mugs, the foaming
ale, the brass that glittered like gold, bore witness to unimpaired
prosperity and an even, well-regulated life.

Over in the kitchen yonder, Mistress Sally Waite, as she now was,
still ruled with a firm if somewhat hasty hand, the weight of which,
so the naughty gossips averred, even her husband, Master Harry Waite,
had experienced more than once. She still queened it over her father's
household, presided over his kitchen, and drove the young scullery
wenches to their task with her sharp tongue and an occasional slap.
But The Fisherman's Rest could not have gone on without her. The
copper saucepans would in truth not have glittered so, nor would the
home-brewed ale have tasted half so luscious to Master Jellyband's
faithful customers, had not Mistress Sally's strong brown hands drawn
it for them, with just the right amount of creamy foam on the top and
not a bit too much.

And so it was still many a "Ho, Sally! 'Ere Sally! 'Ow long'll you be
with that there beer!" or "Say, Sally! A cut of your cheese and
homebaked bread; and look sharp about it!" that resounded from end to
end of the long, low-raftered coffee-room of The Fisherman's Rest, on
this fine May day of the year of grace 1794.

Sally Waite, her muslin cap set at a becoming angle, her kerchief
primly folded over her well-developed bosom, and her kirtle neatly
raised above a pair of exceedingly shapely ankles, was in and out of
the room, in and out of the kitchen, tripping it like a benevolent if
somewhat substantial fairy, bandying chaff here, administering rebuke
there, hot, panting and excited.


The while mine host, Master Jellyband--perhaps a shade more portly of
figure, a thought more bald of pate, these last two years--stood with
stubby legs firmly planted upon his own hearth, wherein, despite the
warmth of a glorious afternoon, a log fire blazed away merrily. He was
giving forth his views upon the political situation of Europe
generally with the self-satisfied assurance born of complete ignorance
and true British insular prejudice.

Believe me, Mr. Jellyband was in no two minds about "them murderin'
furriners over yonder" who had done away with their King and Queen and
all their nobility and quality, and whom England had at last decided
to lick into shape.

"And not a moment too soon, hark'ee, Mr. 'Empseed," he went on
sententiously. "And if I 'ad my way, we should 'ave punished 'em
proper long before this--blown their bloomin' Paris into smithereens
and carried off the pore Queen afore those murderous villains 'ad 'er
pretty 'ead off 'er shoulders!"

Mr. Hempseed, from his own privileged corner in the inglenook, was not
altogether prepared to admit that.

"I am not for interfering with other folks' ways," he said, raising
his quaking treble so as to stem effectually the torrent of Master
Jellyband's eloquence. "As the Scriptures say-"

"Keep your dirty fingers from off my waist!" came in decisive tones
from Mistress Sally Waite, whilst the shrill sound made by the violent
contact of a feminine hand against a manly cheek froze the Scriptural
quotation on Mr. Hempseed's lips.

"Now then, now then, Sally!" Mr. Jellyband thought fit to say in stern
tones, not liking his customers to be thus summarily dealt with.

"Now then, father," Sally retorted, with a toss of her brown curls,
"you just attend to your politics, and Mr. 'Empseed to 'is Scriptures,
and leave me to deal with them impudent jackanapes. You wait!" she
added, turning once more with a parting shot directed against the
discomfited offender. "If my 'Arry catches you at them tricks, you'll
see what you get--that's all!"

"Sally!" Mr. Jellyband admonished, more sternly this time. "You'll
'ave my lord Hastings 'ere before 'is dinner is ready."

Which suggestion so overawed Mistress Sally that she promptly forgot
the misdoings of the forward swain and failed to hear the sarcastic
chuckle which greeted the mention of her husband's name. With an
excited little cry, she ran quickly out of the room.

Mr. Hempseed, loftily unaware of interruption, concluded his
sententious remark:

"As the Scriptures say, Mr. Jellyband: 'Ave no fellowship with the
unfruitful work of darkness.' I don't 'old not with interfering.
Remember what the Scriptures say: 'E that committeth sin is of the
devil, and the devil sinneth from the beginning,'" he concluded with
sublime irrelevance, sagely nodding his head.

But Mr. Jellyband was not thus lightly to be confounded in his
argument--no, not by any quotation, relevant or otherwise!

"All very fine, Mr. 'Empseed," he said, "and good enough for them 'oo,
like yourself, are willin' to side with them murderin' reprobates...."

"Like myself, Mr. Jellyband?" protested Mr. Hempseed, with as much
vigour as his shrill treble would allow. "Nay, but I'm not for them
children of darkness-"

"You may be or you may not," Mr. Jellyband went on, nothing daunted.
"There be many as are, and 'oo'd say 'Let 'em murder,' even now, but I
say that them as 'oo talk that way are not true Englishmen; for 'tis
we Englishmen 'oo can teach the furriner just what 'e may do and what
'e may not. And as we've got the ships and the men and the money, we
can just fight 'em as are not of our way o' thinkin'. And let me tell
you, Mr. 'Empseed, that I'm prepared to back my opinions 'gainst any
man as don't agree with me!"

For the nonce Mr. Hempseed was silent. True, a Scriptural text did
hover on his thin, quivering lips; but as no one paid any heed to him
for the moment its appositeness will for ever remain doubtful. The
honours of victory rested with Mr. Jellyband. Such lofty patriotism,
coupled with so much sound knowledge of political affairs, could not
fail to leave its impress upon the more ignorant and the less fervent
amongst the frequenters of The Fisherman's Rest.

Indeed, who was more qualified to pass an opinion on current events
than the host of that much-frequented resort, seeing that the ladies
and gentlemen of quality who came to England from over the water, so
as to escape all them murtherin' reprobates in their own country, did
most times halt at The Fisherman's Rest on their way to London or to
Bath? And though Mr. Jellyband did not know a word of French--no
furrin lingo for him, thank 'ee!--he nevertheless had mixed with all
that nobility and gentry for over two years now, and had learned all
that there was to know about the life over there, and about Mr. Pitt's
intentions to put a stop to all those abominations.


Even now, hardly had mine hosts conversation with his favoured
customers assumed a more domestic turn, than a loud clatter on the
cobblestones outside, a jingle and a rattle, shouts, laughter and
bustle, announced the arrival of guests who were privileged to make as
much noise as they pleased.

Mr. Jellyband ran to the door, shouted for Sally at the top of his
voice with a "Here's my lord Hastings!" to add spur to Sally's hustle.
Politics were forgotten for the nonce, arguments set aside, in the
excitement of welcoming the quality.

Three young gallants in travelling clothes, smart of appearance and
debonair of mien, were ushering a party of strangers--three ladies and
two men--into the hospitable porch of The Fisherman's Rest. The little
party had walked across from the inner harbour, where the graceful
masts of an elegant schooner lately arrived in port were seen gently
swaying against the delicately coloured afternoon sky. Three or four
sailors from the schooner were carrying luggage, which they deposited
in the hall of the inn, then touched their forelocks in response to a
pleasant smile and nod from the young lords.

"This way, my lord," Master Jellyband reiterated with jovial
obsequiousness. "Everything is ready. This way! Hey, Sallee!" he
called again; and Sally, hot, excited, blushing, came tripping over
from the kitchen, wiping her hot plump palms against her apron in
anticipation of shaking hands with their lordships.

"Since Mr. Waite isn't anywhere about," my lord Hastings said gaily,
as he put a bold arm round Mistress Sally's dainty waist, "I'll e'en
have a kiss, my pretty one."

"And I, too, by gad, for old sake's sake!" Lord Tony asserted, and
planked a hearty kiss on mistress Sally's dimpled cheek.

"At your service, my lords, at your service!" Master Jellyband
rejoined, laughing. Then added more soberly: "Now then, Sally, show
the ladies up into the blue room, the while their lordships 'ave a
first shake down in the coffee-room. This way, gentlemen--your
lordships--this way!"

The strangers in the meanwhile had stood by, wide-eyed and somewhat
bewildered in face of this exuberant hilarity which was so unlike what
they had pictured to themselves of dull, fog-ridden England--so
unlike, too, the dreary moroseness which of late had replaced the
erstwhile lighthearted gaiety of their own countrymen. The porch and
the narrow hall of The Fisherman's Rest appeared to them seething and
vitality. Every one was talking, nobody seemed to listen; every one
was merry, and every one knew everybody else and was pleased to meet
them. Sonorous laughter echoed from end to end along the solid beams,
black and shiny with age. it all seemed so homely, so happy. The
deference paid to the young gallants and to them as strangers by the
sailors and the innkeeper was so genuine and hearty without the
slightest sign of servility, that those five people who had left
behind them so much class-hatred, enmity and cruelty in their own
country, felt an unaccountable tightening of the heart, a few hot
tears rise to their eyes, partly of joy, but partly too of regret.


Lord Hastings, the youngest and merries of the English party, guided
the two Frenchmen toward the coffee-room, with many a jest in
atrocious French and kindly words of encouragement, all intended to
put the strangers at their ease.

Lord Anthony Dewhurst and Sir Andrew Ffoulkes--a trifle more serious
and earnest, yet equally happy and excited at the success of their
perilous adventure and at the prospect of reunion with their wives--
lingered a moment longer in the hall, in order to speak with the
sailors who had brought the luggage along.

"Do you know aught of Sir Percy?" Lord Tony asked.

"No, my lord," the sailor gave answer; "not since he went ashore early
this morning. 'Er Ladyship was waitin' for 'im on the pier. Sir Percy
just ran up the steps and then 'e shouted to us to get back quickly.
'Tell their lordships,' 'e says, 'I'll meet them at The Rest.' And
then Sir Percy and 'er ladyship just walked off and we saw naun more
of them."

"That was many hours ago," Sir Andrew Ffoulkes mused, with an inward
smile. He too saw visions of meeting his pretty Suzanne very soon, and
walking away with her into the land of dreams.

"'Twas just six o'clock when Sir Percy 'ad the boat lowered," the
sailor rejoined. "And we rowed quick back after we landed 'im, but the
Day-Dream, she 'ad to wait for the tie. We wurr a long while gettin'
into port."

Sir Andrew nodded.

"You don't know," he said, "if the skipper had any further orders?"

"I don't know, sir," the man replied. "But we mun be in readiness
always. No one knows when Sir Percy may wish to set sail again."

The two young men said nothing more, and presently the sailors touched
their forelocks and went away. Lord Tony and Sir Andrew exchanged
knowing smiles. They could easily picture to themselves their beloved
chief, indefatigable, like a boy let out from school, exhilarated by
the deadly danger through which he had once more passed unscathed,
clasping his adored wife in his arms and wandering off with her,
heaven knew whither, living his life of joy and love and happiness
during the brief hours which his own indomitable energy, his reckless
courage, accorded to the sentimental side of his complex nature.

Far too impatient to wait until the tide allowed the Day-Dream to get
into port, he had been rowed ashore in the early dawn, and his
beautiful Marguerite--punctual to the assignation conveyed to her by
one of those mysterious means of which Percy alone knew the secret--
was ready there to receive him, to forget in the shelter of his arms
the days of racking anxiety and of cruel terror for her beloved
through which she had again and again been forced to pass.

Neither Lord Tony nor Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, the Scarlet Pimpernel's
most faithful and devoted lieutenants, begrudged their chief these
extra hours of bliss, the while they were left in charge of the party
so lately rescued from horrible death. They knew that within a day or
two--withing a few hours, perhaps--Blakeney would tear himself away
once more from the clinging embrace of his exquisite wife, from the
comfort of luxury of an ideal home, from the adulation of friends, the
pleasures of wealth and of fashion, in order mayhap to grovel in the
squalor and filth of some outlandish corner of Pairs, where he could
be in touch with the innocents who suffered--the poor, the terror-
stricken victims of the merciless revolution. Within a few hours,
mayhap, he would be risking his life again every moment of the day, in
order to save some poor hunted fellow-creature--man, woman or child--
from death that threatened them at the hands of inhuman monsters who
knew neither mercy nor compunction.

And for the nineteen members of the League, they took it in turns to
follow their leader where danger was thickest. It was a privilege
eagerly sought, deserved by all, and accorded to those who were most
highly trusted. It was invariably followed by a period of rest in
happy England, with wife, friends, joy and luxury. Sir Andrew
Ffoulkes, Lord Anthony Dewhurst and my lord Hastings had been of the
expedition which brought Mme de Serval with her three children and
Bertrand Moncrif safely to England, after adventures more perilous,
more reckless of danger, than most. Within a few hours they would be
free to forget in the embrace of clinging arms every peril and every
adventure save the eternal one of love, free to forswear everything
outside that, save their veneration for their chief and their loyalty
to his cause.


The Castaway


An excellent dinner served by Mistress Sally and her attendant little
wenches put everybody into rare good-humour. Madame de Serval--pale,
delicate, with gentle, plaintive voice and eyes that had acquired a
pathetically furtive look--even contrived to smile, her heart warmed
by the genuine welcome, the rare gaiety that irradiated this fortunate
corner of God's earth. Wars and rumours of war reached it only as an
echo of great things that went on in the vast outside world; and
though more than one of Dover's gallant sons had perished in one or
the other of the Duke of York's unfortunate incursions into Holland,
or in one of the numerous naval engagements off the Western shores of
France, on the whole, the war, intermittent and desultory, had not yet
cast its heavy gloom over the entire country.

Josphine and Jacques de Serval, whose enthusiasm for martyrdom had
received so severe a check in the course of the Fraternal Supper in
the Rue. St. Honor, had at first with the self-consciousness of youth
adopted an attitude of obstinate and irreclaimable sorrow, until the
antics of Master Harry Waite, pretty Sally's husband--jealous as a
young turkey-cock of every gallant who dared to ogle his buxom wife--
brought laughter to their lips. My Lord Hastings' comical attempts at
speaking French, the droll mistakes he made, easily did the rest; and
soon their lively, high-pitched Latin voices mingled with unimpaired
gaiety with the more mellow sound of Anglo-Saxon tongues.

Even Rgine de Serval had smiled when my lord Hastings had asked her
with grave solemnity whether Mme de Serval would wish "le fou de
descendre"--the lunatic to the come downstairs--meaning all the while
whether she wanted the fire in the big hearth to be let down, seeing
that the atmosphere in the coffee-room was growing terribly hot.

The only one who seemed quite unable to shake off his moroseness was
Bertrand Moncrif. He sat next to Rgine, silent, somewhat sullen, a
look that seemed almost one of dull resentment lingering in his eyes.
From time to time, when he appeared peculiarly moody or when he
refused to eat, her little hand would steal out under the table and
press his with a gentle, motherly gesture.


It was when the merry meal was over and while Master Jellyband was
going the round with a fine bottle of smuggled brandy, which the young
gentlemen sipped with unmistakable relish, that a commotion arose
outside the inn; whereupon Master Harry Waite ran out of the coffee-
room in order to see what was amiss.

Nothing very much apparently. Waite came back after a moment or two
and said that two sailors from the barque Angela were outside with a
young French lad, who seemed more dead than alive, and whom it appears
the barque had picked up just outside French waters, in an open boat,
half perished with terror and inanition. As the lad spoke nothing but
French, the sailors had brought him along to The Fisherman's Rest,
thinking that maybe some of the quality would care to interrogate him.

At once Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, my Lord Tony and Lord Hastings were on
the qui vive. A lad in distress, coming from France, found alone in an
open boat, suggested one of those tragedies in which the League of the
Scarlet Pimpernel was wont to play a rle.

"Let the lad be taken into the parlour, Jellyband," Sir Andrew
commanded. "You've got a fire in there, haven't you?"

"Yes, yes, Sir Andrew! We always keep fires going here until past the
15th of May."

"Well then, get him in there. Then give him some of your smuggled
brandy first, you old dog! then some wine and food. After that we'll
find out something more about him."

He himself went along in order to see that his orders were carried
out. Jellyband, as usual, had already deputed his daughter to do the
necessary, and in the hall there was Mistress Sally, capable and
compassionate, supporting, almost carrying, a youth who in truth
appeared scarce able to stand.

She led him gently into the small private parlour, where a cheerful
log-fire was blazing, sat him down in an arm-chair beside the hearth,
after which Master Jellyband himself poured half a glass of brandy
down the poor lad's throat. This revived him a little, and he looked
about him with huge, scared eyes.

"Sainte Mre de Dieu!" he murmured feebly. "Where am I?"

"Never mind about that now, my lad," replied Sir Andrew, whose
knowledge of French was of a distinctly higher order than that of his
comrades. "You are among friends. That is enough. Have something to
eat and drink now. Later we'll talk."

He was eyeing the boy keenly. Contact with suffering and misery over
there in France, under the leadership of the most selfless, most
understanding man of this or any time, had intensified his powers of
perception. Even the first glance had revealed to him the fact that
here was no ordinary waif. The lad spoke with a gentle, highly refined
voice; his skin was delicate, and his face exquisitely beautiful; his
hands, though covered with grime, and his feet, encased in huge,
coarse boots, were small and daintily shaped, like those of a woman.
Already Sir Andrew had made up his mind that if the oilskin cap which
sat so extraordinarily tightly on the boy's head were to be removed, a
wealth of long hair would certainly be revealed.

However, all these facts, which threw over the young stranger a
further veil of mystery, could not in all humanity be investigated
now. Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, with the consummate tact born of kindliness,
left the lad alone as soon as he appeared able to sit up and eat, and
himself rejoined his friends in the coffee-room.


The Nest


No one, save a very few intimates, knew of the little nest wherein Sir
Percy Blakeney and his lady hid their happiness on those occasions
when the indefatigable Scarlet Pimpernel was only able to spend a few
hours in England, and when a journey to their beautiful home in
Richmond could not be thought of. The house--it was only a cottage,
timbered and creeper-clad--lay about a mile and a half outside Dover,
off the main road, perched up high on rising ground over a narrow
lane. It had a small garden round it, which in May was ablaze with
daffodils and bluebells, and in June with roses. Two faithful
servants, a man and his wife, looked after the place, kept the nest
cosy and warm whenever her ladyship weared of fashion, or else,
actually expecting Sir Percy, would come down from London for a day or
two in order to dream of that elusive and transient happiness for
which her soul hungered, even while her indomitable spirit accepted
the inevitable.

A few days ago the weekly courier from France had brought her a line
from Sir Percy, together with the promise that she should rest in his
arms on the 1st of May. And Marguerite had come down to the creeper-
covered cottage knowing that, despite obstacles which might prove
insuperable to others, Percy would keep his world.

She had stolen out at dawn to wait for him on the pier; and sure
enough, as soon as the May-day sun, which had risen to-day in his
glory as if to crown her brief happiness with warmth and radience, had
dissipated the morning mist, her yearning eyes had spied the smart
white gig which had put off from the Day-Dream leaving the graceful
ship to await the turn of the tide before putting into port.

Since then, every moment of the day had been one of rapture. The first
sight of her husband in his huge caped coat, which seemed to add
further inches to his great height, his call of triumph when he saw
her, his arms outstretched, there, far away in the small boat, with a
gesture of such infinite longing that for a second or two tears
obscured Marguerite's vision. Then the drawing up of the boat against
the landing-stage; Percy's spring ashore; his voice, his look; the
strength of his arms; the ardour of his embrace. Rapture, in truth, to
which the thought of its brief duration alone lent a touch of

But of parting again Marguerite would not think--not to-day, while the
birds were singing a deafening paean of joy; not while the scent of
growing grass, of moits, travailing earth, was in her nostrils; not
while the sap was in the trees, and the gummy crimson buds of the
chestnuts were bursting into leaf. Not while she wandered up the
narrow lane between hedges of black-thorn in bloom, with Percy's arm
around her, his loved voice in her ear, his merry laughter echoing
through the sweet morning air.

After that, breakfast in the low, raftered room--the hot, savoury
milk, the home-backed bread, the home-churned butter. Then the long,
delicious, intimate talk of love, and of yearnings, of duty and of
gallant deeds. Blakeney kept nothing secret from his wife; and what he
did not tell her, that she easily guessed. But it was from the members
of the League that she learned all there was to know of heroism and
selflessness in the perilous adventures through which her husband
passed with so lighthearted a gaiety.

"You should see me as an asthmatic reprobate, m'dear," he would say,
with his infectious laugh. "And hear that cough! Lud love you, but I
am mightily proud of that cough! Poor old Rateau does not do it better
himself; and he is genuinely asthmatic."

He gave her an example of his prowess; but she would not allow him to
go on. The sound was too weird, and conjured up visions which to-day
she would fain forget.

"Rateau was a real find," he went on more seriously; "because he is
three parts an imbecile and as obedient as a dog. When some of those
devils are on my track, lo! the real Rateau appears and yours truly
vanishes where no one can find him!"

"Pray God," she murmured involuntarily, "they never may!"

"They won't, m'dear, they won't!" he asserted with lighthearted
conviction. "They have become so confused now between Rateau the
coalheaver, the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, and the problematic
English milor, that all three of these personalities can appear before
their eyes and they will let 'em all escape! I assure you that the
confusion between the Scarlet Pimpernel who was in the ante-chamber of
Mother Thot on that fateful afternoon, and again at the Fraternal
Supper in the Rue St. Honor, and the real Rateau who was at Mother
Thot's while that same exciting supper party was going on, was so
great that not one of those murdering reprobates could trust his own
eyes and ears, and that we got away as easily as rabbits out of a torn

Thus did he explain and laugh over the perilous adventure where he had
faced a howling mob disguised as Rateau the coalheaver, and with
almost superhuman pluck and boldness had dragged Mme de Serval and her
children into the derelict house which was one of the League's
headquarters. That is how he characterized the extraordinary feat of
audacity when, in order to give his gallant lieutenants time to
smuggle the unfortunates out of the house through a back and secret
way, he showed himself on the balcony above the multitude, and hurled
dummy figures into the brazier below.

Then came the story of Bertrand Moncrif, snatched half-unconscious out
of the apartment of the fair Theresia Cabarrus, whilst Robespierre
himself sat not half a dozen yards away, with only the thickness of a
wall between him and his arch enemy.

"How the woman must hate you!" Marguerite murmured, with a slight
shudder of acute anxiety which she did her best to conceal. "There are
things that a woman like the Cabarrus will never forgive. Whether she
cares for Bertrand Moncrif or no, her vanity will suffer intensely,
and she will never forgive you for taking him out of her clutches."

He laughed.

"Lud, m'dear!" he said lightly. "If we were to take heed of all the
people who hate us we should spend our lives pondering rather than
doing. And all I want to ponder over," he added, whilst his glance of
passionate earnestness seemed to envelop her like an exquisite warm
mantle, "is your beauty, your eyes, the scent of your hair, the
delicious flavour of your kiss!"


It was some hours later on that same glorious day, when the shadows of
ash and chestnut lay right across the lane and the arms of evening
folded the cosy nest in their mysterious embrace, that Sir Percy and
Marguerite sat in the deep window-embrasure of the tiny living-room.
He had thrown open wide the casements, and hand resting in hand, they
watched the last ray of golden light lingering in the west and
listened to the twitterings which came like tender "good nights" from
the newly-built nests among the trees.

It was one of those perfect spring evenings, rare enough in northern
climes, without a breath of wind, when every sound carries clear and
sharp through the stillness around. The air was soft and slightly
moist, with a tang in it of wakening life and of rising sap, and with
the scent of wild narcissus and of wood violets rising like
intoxizating incense to the nostrils. It was in truth one of those
evening when happiness itself seems rudely out of place, and nature--
exquisite, but so cruelly, transient in her loveliness--demands the
tribute of gentle melancholy.

A thrust said something to its mate--something insistent and tender
that lulled them both to rest. After that, Nature became quite still,
and Marguerite, with a catch in her throat which she would have given
much to suppress, laid her head upon her husband's breast.

Then it was that suddenly a man's voice, hoarse but distant, broke in
upon the perfect peace around. What it said could not at first be
gathered. It took some time ere Marguerite became sufficiently
conscious of the disturbing noise to raise her head and listen. As for
Sir Percy, he was wrapped in the contemplating of the woman he
worshipped, and nothing short of an earthquake would have dragged him
back to reality, had not Marguerite raised herself on her knees and
quickly whispered:


The man's voice had been answered by a woman's raised as if in
defiance that seemed both pitiful and futile.

"You cannot harm me now. I am in England!"

Marguerite leaned out of the window, tried to peer into the darkness
which was fast gathering over the lane. The voices had come from
there: first the man's, then the woman's, and now the man's again;
both speaking in French, the woman obviously terrified and pleading,
the man harsh and commanding. Now it was raised again, more incisive
and distinct than before, and Marguerite had in truth some difficulty
in repressing the cry that rose to her lips. She had recognized the
man's voice.

"Chauvelin!" she murmured.

"Aye, in England, citoyenne!" that ominous voice went on drily. "But
the arm of justice is long. And remember that you are not the first
who has tried--unsuccessfully, let me tell you!--to evade punishment
by flying to the enemies of France. Wherever you may hide, I will know
how to find you. Have I not found you here, now?--and you but a few
hours in Dover!"

"But you cannot touch me!" the woman protested with the courage of one
in despair.

The man laughed.

"Are you really simple enough, citoyenne," he said, "to be convinced
of that?"

This sarcastic retort was followed by a moment or two of silence, then
by a woman's cry; and in an instant Sir Percy was on his feet and out
of the house. Marguerite followed him as far as the porch, whence the
sloping ground, aided by flagged steps here and there, led down to the
gate and thence on to the lane.

It was close beside the gate that a human-looking bundle lay huddled,
when Sir Percy came upon the scene, even whilst, some fifty yards away
at the sharp bend of the lane, a man could be seen walking rapidly
away, his pace wellnigh at a run. Sir Percy's instinct was for giving
chase, but the huddle-up figure put out a pair of arms and clung to
him so desperately, with smothered cries of: "For pity's sake, don't
leave me!" that it would have been inhuman to go. And so he bent down,
raised the human bundle from the ground, and carried it bodily up into
the house.

Here he deposited his burden upon the window seat, where but a few
moments ago he had been wrapped in the contemplation of Marguerite's
eyelashes, and with his habitual quaint good-humour, said:

"I leave the rest to you, m'dear. My French is too atrocious for
dealing with the case."

Marguerite understood the hint. Sir Percy, whose command of French was
nothing short of phenomenal, never used the language save when engaged
in his perilous undertakings. His perfect knowledge of every idiom
would have set any ill-intentioned evesdropper thinking.


The human bundle looked very pathetic lying there upon the window
seat, propped up with cushions. It appeared to be a youth, dressed in
rough fisherman's clothes and with a cap that fitted tightly round the
head; but with hands delicate as a woman's and a face of exquisite

Without another word, Marguerite quietly took hold of the cap and
gently removed it. A wealth of blue-black hair fell like a cascade
over the recumbent shoulders. "I thought as much!" Sir Percy remarked
quietly, even whilst the stranger, apparently terrified, jumped up and
burst into tears, moaning piteously:

"Oh, mon Dieu! mon Dieu! Sainte Vierge, protgez-moi!"

There was nothing to do but to wait; and anon the first paroxysm of
grief and terror passed. The stranger, with a wry little smile, took
the handkerchief which Lady Blakeney was holding out to her and
proceeded to dry her tears. Then she looked up at the kind Samaritans
who had befriended her.

"I am an impostor, I know," she said, with lips that quivered like
those of a child in grief. "But if you only knew...!"

She sat bolt upright now, squeezing and twirling the wet handkerchief
between her fingers.

"Some kind English gentlemen were good to me, down in the town," she
went on more glibly. "They gave me food and shelter, and I was left
alone to rest. But I felt stifled in the narrow room. I could hear
every one talking and laughing, and the evening air was so beautiful.
So I ventured out. I only meant to breathe a little fresh air; but it
was all so lovely, so peaceful... here in England... so different

She shuddered a little and looked as if she was going to cry again.
But Marguerite interposed gently:

"So you prolonged your walk, and found this lane?"

"Yes. I prolonged my walk," the woman replied. "I did not notice that
the road had become lonely. Then suddenly I realized that I was being
followed, and I ran. Mon Dieu, how I ran! Whither, I knew not! I just
felt that something horrible was at my heels!"

Her eyes, dilated with terror, looked as black as sloes. They were
fixed upon Marguerite, never once raised on Sir Percy, who, standing
some way apart from the two women, was looking down on them, silent
and apparently unmoved.

The stranger shuddered again; her face was almost grey in its
expression of fear, and her lips seemed quite bloodless. Marguerite
gave her trembling hands an encouraging pat.

"It was lucky," she said gently, "that you found your way here."

"I had seen the light," the woman continued more calmly. "And I
believe that at the back of my mind there was the instinct to run for
shelter. Then suddenly my foot knocked against a stone, and I fell. I
tried to raise myself quickly, but I had not the time, for the next
moment I felt a hand on my shoulder, and a voice--oh, a voice I dread,
citoyenne!--called to me by name."

"The voice of citizen Chauvelin?" Marguerite asked simply.

The woman looked up quickly.

"You knew-?" she murmured.

"I knew his voice."

"But you know him?" the other insisted.

"I know him--yes," Marguerite replied. "I am a compatriot of yours.
Before I married, I was Marguerite St. Just."

"St. Just?"

"We are cousins, my brother and I, of the young deputy, the friend of

"God help you!" the woman murmured.

"He has done so already, by bringing us both to England. My brother is
married, and I am Lady Blakeney now. You too will feel happy and safe
now that you are here."

"Happy?" the woman ejaculated, with a piteous sob. "And safe? Mon
Dieu, if only I could think it!"

"But what have you to fear? Chauvelin may have retained some semblance
of power over in France. He has none over here."

"He hates me!" the other murmured. "Oh, how he hates me!"


The stranger made no immediate reply. Her eyes, dark as the night,
glowing and searching, seemed to read the very soul behind
Marguerite's serene brow. Then after awhile she went on, with seeming

"It all began so foolishly!... mon Dieu, how foolishly! And I really
meant nothing treacherous to my own country--nothing unpatriotic,
quoi?" she suddenly seized Marguerite's two hands and exclaimed with
childlike enthusiasm: "You have heard of the Scarlet Pimpernel, have
you not?"

"Yes," Marguerite replied. "I have heard of him."

"You know then that he is the finest, bravest, most wonderful man in
all the world?"

"Yes, I know that," Marguerite assented with a smile.

"Of course, in France they hate him. Naturally! He is the enemy of the
republic, quoi? He is against all those massacres, the persecution of
the innocent. He saves them and helps them when he can. So they hate
him. Naturally."


"But I have always admired him," the woman continued, enthusiasm
glowing in her dark eyes. "Always; always! Ever since I heard what he
had done, and how he saved the Comte de Tournay, and Juliette Marny,
and Esther Vincent, and--and countless others. Oh, I knew about them
all! For I knew Chauvelin well, and one or two of the men on the
Committee of Public Safety quite intimately, and I used to worm out of
them all the true facts about the Scarlet Pimpernel. Can you wonder
that with my whole soul I admired him? I worshipped him! I could have
laid down my life to help him! He has been the guiding star of my
dreary life--my hero and my king!"

She paused, and those deep, dark eyes of her were fixed straight out
before her, as if in truth she beheld the hero of her dreams. There
was a glow now in her cheeks, and her marvellous hair fell like a
sable mantle around her, framing the perfect oval of the face and
enhancing by vivid contrast the creamy whiteness of chin and throat
and the rose-like bloom that had spread over her face. Indeed, this
was an exquisitely beautiful creature, and Marguerite, herself one of
the loveliest women of her time, was carried away by genuine,
wholehearted admiration for the stranger, as well as by her
enthusiasm, which, in very truth, seeing its object, was a perfectly
natural feeling.

"So now," the woman concluded, coming back to the painful realities of
life with a shudder, which extinguished the light in her eyes and took
all the glow out of her cheeks, "so now you understand perhaps why
Chauvelin hates me!"

"You must have been rather indiscreet," Marguerite remarked with a

"I was, I suppose. And Chauvelin is so vindictive. He hates the
Scarlet Pimpernel. Out of a few words, foolishly spoken perhaps, he
has made out a case against me. A friend gave me warning. My name was
already in the hands of Foucquier-Tinville. You know what that means!
Perquisition! Arrest! Judgment! Then the guillotine! Oh, mon Dieu! And
I had done nothing!--nothing! I fled out of Paris. An influential
friend just contrived to arrange this for me. A faithful servant
accompanied me. We reached Boulogne. How, I know not! I was so weak,
so ill, so wretched, I hardly lived. I just allowed Franois--that was
my servant--to take me whithersoever he wished. But we had no
passports, no papers--nothing! And Chauvelin was on our track. We had
to hide--in barns... in pig-styes... anywhere! But we reached Boulogne
at last... I had some money, fortunately. We bribed a fisherman to let
us have his boat. Only a small boat--imagine! A rowing boat! And
Franois and I alone in it! But it meant our lives if we didn't go;
and perhaps it meant our lives if we went! A rowing boat on the great,
big sea!... Fortunately the weather was fine, and Franois lifted me
into the boat. And I just remember seeing the coast of France
receding, receding, receding--farther and farther from me. I was so
tired. It is possible that I slept. Then suddenly something woke me. I
was wide awake. I had heard a cry. I knew I had heard a cry, and then
a splash--an awful splash! I was wet through. One oar hung in the
rowlock; the other had gone. And Franois was not there. I was all

She spoke in hard, jerky sentences, as if every word hurt her
physically as she uttered it. For the most part she was looking down
on her hands, that twitched convulsively and twisted the tiny wet
handkerchief into a ball. But now and again she looked up, not at
Marguerite always, rather at Sir Percy. Her glowing, tear-wet eyes
fastened themselves on him from time to time with an appealing or a
defiant gaze. He appeared silent and sympathetic, and his glance
rested on her the whole while that she spoke, with an expression of
detached if kindly interest, as if he did not quite understand
everything that she said. Marguerite as usual was full of tenderness
and compassion.

"How terribly you must have suffered!" she said gently. "But what
happened after that?"

"Oh, I don't know! I don't know!" the poor woman resumed. "I was too
numbed, too dazed with horror and fear, to suffer very much. The boat
drifted on, I suppose. It was a beautiful, calm night. And the moon
was lovely. You remember the moon last night?"

Marguerite nodded.

"But I remember nothing after... after that awful cry... and the
splash! I suppose my poor Franois fainted or fell asleep... and that
he fell into the water. I never saw him again.... And I remember
nothing until--until I found myself on board a ship with a lot of
rough sailors around me, who seemed very kind.... They brought me
ashore and took me to a nice warm place, where some English gentlemen
took compassion on me. And... and... I have already told you the

She leaned back against the cushions of the seat as if exhausted with
the prolonged effort. Her hands seemed quite cold now, almost blue,
and Marguerite rose and closed the window behind her.

"How kind and thoughtful you are!" the stranger exclaimed, and after a
moment added with a weary sigh, "I must not trespass any longer on
your kindness. It is late now, and... I must go."

She struggled to her feet, rose with obvious reluctance.

"The inn where I was," she said, "it is not far?"

"But you cannot go out alone," Marguerite reckoned. "You do not even
know the way!"

"Ah, no! But perhaps your servant could accompany me... only as far as
the town.... After that I can ask the way... I should no longer be

"You speak English then, Madame?"

"Oh, yes! My father was a diplomat. He was in England once for four
years. I learned a little English. I have not forgotten it."

"One of the servants shall certainly go with you. The inn you speak of
must be The Fisherman's Rest, since you found English gentlemen

"If Madame will allow me?" Sir Percy broke in, for the first time
since the stranger had embarked upon her narrative.

The stranger looked up at him with a half-shy, half-eager smile.

"You, milor!" she exclaimed. "Oh no! I would be ashamed-"

She paused, and her cheeks became crimson whilst she looked down in
utter confusion on her extraordinary attire.

"I had forgotten," she murmured tearfully. "Franois made me put on
these awful clothes when we left Paris."

"Then I must lend you a cloak for to-night," Marguerite interposed
with a smile. "But you need not mind your clothes, Madame. On this
coast our people are used to seeing unfortunate fugitives landing in
every sort of quise. To-morrow we must find you something wherein to
travel to London."

"To London?" the stranger said with some eagerness. "Yes! I would wish
to go to London."

"It will be quite easy. Mme de Serval, with her son and two daughters
and another friend, is travelling by the coach to-morrow. You could
join them, I am sure. Then you would not be alone. You have money,
Madame?" Marguerite concluded, with practical solicitude.

"Oh, yes!" the other replied. "I have plenty for present needs... in a
wallet... under my clothes. I was able to collect a little--and I have
not lost it. I am not dependent," she added, with a smile of
gratitude. "And as soon as I have found my husband-"

"Your husband?" Marguerite exclaimed.

"M. le Marquis de Fontenay," the other answered simply. "Perhaps you
know him. You have seen him... in London?... Not?"

Marguerite shook her head.

"Not to my knowledge."

"He left me--two years ago... cruelly... emigrated to England... and I
was left alone in the world.... He saved his own life by running away
from France; but I--I could not go just then... and so..."

She seemed on the verge of breaking down again, then recovered herself
and continued more quietly:

"That was my idea, you see; to find my husband one day. Now a cruel
Fate has forced me to fly from France; so I thought I would go to
London and perhaps some kind friends will help me to find M. de
Fontenay. I have never ceased to love him, though he was so cruel. And
I think that... perhaps... he also has not quite forgotten me."

"That were impossible," Marguerite rejoined gently. "But I have
friends in London who are in touch with most of the emigrs here. We
will see what can be done. It will not be difficult, methinks, to find
M. de Fontenay."

"You are an angel, milady!" the stranger exclaimed; and with a gesture
that was perfect in its suggestion of gracious humility, she took
Marguerite's hand and raised it to her lips. Then she once more mopped
her eyes, picked up her cap and hastily hid the wealth of her hair
beneath it. After which, she turned to Sir Percy.

"I am ready, milor," she said. "I have intruded far too long as it is
upon your privacy.... But I am not brave enough to refuse your escort.
Milady, forgive me! I will walk fast, very fast, so that milor will
return to you very soon!"

She wrapped herself up in a cloak which, at Lady Blakeney's bidding,
one of the servants had brought her, and a moment or two later the
stranger and Sir Percy were out of the house, whilst Marguerite
remained for awhile on the porch, listening to their retreating

There was a frown of puzzement between her brows, a look of troubled
anxiety in her eyes. Somehow, the brief sojourn of that strange and
beautiful woman in her house had filled her soul with a vague feeling
of dread, which she tried vainly to combat. There was no real
suspicion against the woman in her heart--how could there be?--but
she--Marguerite--who as a rule was so compassionate, so understanding
of those misfortunes, to alleviate which Sir Percy was devoting his
entire life, felt cold and unresponsive in this case--most
unaccountably so. Mme de Fontenay's story differed but little in all
its grim detail of misery and humiliation from the thousand and one
other similar tales which had been poured for the past three years
into her sympathetic ear. She had always understood, had always been
ready to comfort and to help. But this time she felt very much as if
she had come across a sick or wounded reptile, something weak and dumb
and helpless, and yet withal unworthy of compassion.

However, Marguerite Blakeney was surely not the woman to allow such
fancies to dry the well of her pity. The gallant Scarlet Pimpernel was
not wont to pause in his errands of mercy in order to reflect whether
the objects of his selfless immolation were worthy of it or no. So
Marguerite, with a determined little sigh, chided herself for her
disloyalty and cowardice, and having dried her tears she went within.


A Lover of Sport


For the first five minutes, Sir Percy Blakeney and Madame de Fontenay
walked side by side in silence. Then she spoke.

"You are silent, milor?" she queried, speaking in perfect English.

"I was thinking," he replied curtly.


"What a remarkably fine actress is lost in the fashionable Theresia

"Madame de Fontenay, I pray you, milor," she retorted drily.

"Theresia Cabarrus nevertheless. Madame Tallien probably to-morrow:
for Madame divorced that weak-kneed marquis as soon as the lay 'contre
les emigrs' allowed her to regain her freedom."

"You seem very well informed, milor."

"Almost as well as Madame herself," he riposted with a pleasant laugh.

"Then you do not believe my story?"

"Not one word of it!" he replied.

"Strange!" she mused. "For every word of it is true."

"Demmed strange!" he assented.

"Of course, I did not tell all," she went on, with sudden vehemence.
"I could not. My lady would not understand. She has become--what shall
I say?--very English. Marguerite St. Just would understand... Lady

"What would Lady Blakeney not understand?"

"Eh bien! About Bertrand Moncrif."


"You think I did harm to the boy... I know... you took him away from
me... You! The Scarlet Pimpernel!... You see, I know! I know
everything! Chauvelin told me..."

"And guided you most dexterously to my door," he concluded with a
pleasant laugh. "There to enact a delicious comedy of gruff-voiced
bully and pathetic victim of merciless persecution. It was all
excellently done! Allow me to offer you my sincere congratulations!"

She said nothing for a moment or two, then queried abruptly:

"You think that I am here in order to spy upon you?"

"Oh!" he riposted lightly, "how could I be so presumptuous as to
suppose that the beautiful Cabarrus would bestow attention on so
unworthy an object as I?"

"'Tis you now, milor," she rejoined drily, "who choose to play a rle.
A truce on it, I pray you; and rather tell me what you mean to do."

To this query he gave no reply, and his silence appeared to grate on
Theresia's nerves, for she went on harshly:

"You will betray me to the police, of course. And as I am here without

He put up his hand with that gently deprecating gesture which was
habitual to him.

"Oh!" he said, with his quiet little laugh, "why should you thin I
would do anything so unchivalrous?"

"Unchivalrous?" she retorted with a pathetic sigh of weariness. "I
suppose, here in England, it would be called an act of patriotism or
self-preservation... like fighting an enemy... or denouncing a spy-"

She paused a moment or two, and as he once more took refuge in
silence, she resumed with sudden, moving passion:

"So it is to be a betrayal after all! The selling of an unfortunate
woman to her bitterest enemy! Oh, what wrong have I ever done you,
that you should persecute me thus?"

"Persecute you?" he exclaimed. "Pardi, Madame; but this is a subtle
joke which by your leave my dull wits are unable to fathom."

"It is no joke, milor," she rejoined earnestly. "Will you let me
explain? For indeed it seems to me that we are at cross purposes, you
and I."

She came to a halt, and he perforce had to do likewise. They had come
almost to the end of the little lane; a few yards farther on it
debouched on the main road. Beyond that, the lights of Dover Town and
the Harbour lights glinted in the still, starry night. Behind them the
lane, sunk between grassy slopes and overhung by old elms of fantastic
shapes, appeared dark and mysterious. But here, where they stood, the
moon shed its full radiance on the broad highway, the clump of copper
beeches over on the left, that tiny cottage with its thatched roof
nestling at the foot of the cliff; and far away, on the picturesque
mass of Dover Castle, the church and towers. Every bit of fencing,
every tiny twig in the hawthorn hedges, stood out clear cut, sharp
like metal in the cold, searching light. Theresia--divinely slender
and divinely tall, graceful despite the rough masculine clothes which
she wore--stood boldly in the full light; the tendrils of her jet
black hair were gently stirred by an imperceptible breeze, her eyes,
dark and luminous, were fixed upwards at the man whom she had set out
to subjugate.

"That boy," she went on quite gently, "Bertrand Moncrif, was just a
young fool. But I liked him, and I could see the abyss to which his
folly was tending. There was never anything but friendship between us;
but I knew that sooner or later he would run his head into a noose,
and then what good would his pasty-faced sweetheart have been to him?
Whilst I--I had friends, influence--quoi? And I liked the boy; I was
sorry for him. Then the catastrophe came... the other night. There was
what those ferocious beasts over in Paris were pleased to call a
Fraternal Supper. Bertrand Moncrif was there. Like a young food, he
started to vilify Robespierre--Robespierre, who is the idol of France!
There!--in the very midst of the crowd! They would have torn him limb
from limb, it seems. I don't know just what happened, for I wasn't
there; but he came to my apartment--at midnight--dishevelled--his
clothes torn--more dead than alive. I gave him shelter; I tended him.
Yes, I!--even whilst Robespierre and his friends were in my house, and
I risked my life every moment that Bertrand was under my roof!
Chauvelin suspected something then. Oh, I knew it! Those awful pale,
deep-set eyes of his seemed to be searching my soul all the time! At
which precise moment you came and took Bertrand away, I know not. But
Chauvelin knew. He saw--he saw, I tell you! He had not been with us
the whole time, but in and out of the apartment on some pretext or
other. Then, after the others had left, he came back, accused me of
having harboured not only Bertrand, but the Scarlet Pimpernel
himself!--swore that I was in league with the English spies and had
arranged with them to smuggle my lover out of the house. Then he went
away. He did not threaten. You know him as well as I do. Threatening
is not his way. But from his look I knew that I was doomed. Luckily I
had Franois. We packed up my few belongings then and there. I left my
woman Pepita in charge, and I fled. As for the rest, I swear to you
that it all happened just as I told it to milady. You say you do not
believe me. Very well! Will you then take me away from this sheltered
land, which I have reached after terrible sufferings? Will you send me
back to France, and drive me to the arms of a man who but waits to
throw me into the tumbril with the next batch of victims for the
guillotine? You have the power to do it, of course. You are in
England; you are rich, influential, a power in your own country;
whilst I am an alien, a political enemy, a refugee, penniless and
friendless. You can do with me what you will, of course. But if you do
that, milor, my blood will stain your hands for ever; and all the good
you and your League have ever done in the cause of humanity will be
wiped out by this execrable crime."

She spoke very quietly and with soul-moving earnestness. So was also
exquisitely beautiful. Sir Percy Blakeney had been more than human if
he had been proof against such an appeal, made by such perfect lips.
Nature itself spoke up for Theresia: the softness and stillness of the
night; the starlit sky and the light of the moon; the sent of wood
violets and of wet earth, and the patter of tiny, mysterious feet in
the hedgegrows. And the man whose whole life was consecrated to the
relief of suffering humanity and whose ears were for ever strained to
hear the call of the weak and of the innocent--he could far, far
sooner have believed that this beautiful woman was speaking the truth,
rather than allow his instinct of suspicion, his keen sense of what
was untrustworthy and dangerous, to steel his heart against her

But whatever his thoughts might be, when she paused, wearied and
shaken with sobs which she vainly tried to suppress, he spoke to her
quite gently.

"Believe me, dear lady," he said, "that I had no thought of wronging
you when I owned to disbelieving your story. I have seen so many
strange things in the course of my chequered career that, in verity, I
ought to know by now how unbelievable truth often appears."

"Had you known me better, milor-" she began.

"Ah, that is just it!" he rejoined quaintly. "I did not know you,
Madame. And now, meseems, that Fate has intervened, and that I shall
never have the chance of knowing you."

"How is that?" she asked.

But to this he gave to immediate answer, suggested irrelevantly:

"Shall we walk on? It is getting late."

She gave a little cry, as if startled out of a dream, then started to
walk by his side with her long, easy stride, so full of sinuous grave.
They went on in silence for awhile, down the main road now. Already
they had passed the first group of town houses, and The Running
Footman, which is the last inn outside the town. There was only the
High Street now to follow and the Old Place to cross, and The
Fisherman's Rest would be in sight.

"You have not answered my question, milor," Theresia said presently.

"What question, Madame?" he asked.

"I asked you how Fate could intervene in the matter of our meeting

"Oh!" he retorted simply. "You are staying in England, you tell me."

"If you will deign to grant me leave," she said, with gentle

"It is not in my power to grant or to refuse."

"You will not betray me--to the police?"

"I have never betrayed a woman in my life."

"Or to Lady Blakeney?"

He made no answer.

"Or to Lady Blakeney?" she insisted.

Then, as he still gave no answer, she began to plead with passionate

"What could she gain--or you--by her knowing that I am that
unfortunate, homeless waif, without kindred and without friends,
Theresia Cabarrus--the beautiful Cabarrus!--once the fiance of the
great Tallien, now suspect of trafficking with her country's enemies
in France... and suspect of being a suborned spy in England!... My
God, where am I to go? What am I to do? Do not tell Lady Blakeney,
milor! On my knees I entreat you, do not tell her! She will hate me--
fear me--despise me! Oh, give me a chance to be happy! Give me--a
chance--to be happy!"

Again she had paused and placed her hand on his arm. Once more she was
looking up at him, her eyes glistening with tears, her full red lips
quivering with emotion. And he returned her appealing, pathetic glance
for a moment or two in silence; then suddenly, without any warning, he
threw back his head and laughed.

"By Gad!" he exclaimed. "But you are a clever woman!"

"Milor!" she protested, indignant.

"Nay: you need have no fear, fair one! I am a lover of sport. I'll not
betray you."

She frowned, really puzzled this time.

"I do not understand," she murmured.

"Let us get back to The Fisherman's Rest," he retorted with
characteristic irrelevance. "Shall we?"

"Milor," she insisted, "will you explain?"

"There is nothing to explain, dear lady. You have asked me--nay!
challenged me--not to betray you to anyone, not even to Lady Blakeney.
Very well! I accept your challenge. That is all."

"You will not tell anyone--anyone, mind you!--that Mme de Fontenay and
Theresia Cabarrus are one and the same?"

"You have my word for that."

She drew a scarce perceptible sigh of relief.

"Very well then, milor," she rejoined. "Since I am allowed to go to
London, we shall meet there, I hope."

"Scarcely, dear lady," he replied, "since I go to France to-morrow."

This time she gave a little gasp, quickly suppressed--for she hoped
milor had not noticed.

"You go to France to-morrow, milor?" she asked.

"As I had the honour to tell you, I go to France to-morrow, and I
leave you a free hand to come and go as you please."

She chose not to notice the taunt; but suddenly, as if moved by an
uncontrollable impulse, she said resolutely:

"If you go, I shall go too."

"I am sure you will, dear lady," he retorted with a smile. "So there
really is no reason why we should linger here. Our mutual friend M.
Chauvelin must be impatient to hear the result of this interview."

She gave a cry of horror and indignation.

"Oh! You--you still think that of me?"

He stood there, smiling, looking down on her with that half-amused,
lazy glance of his. He did not actually say anything, but she felt
that she had her answer. With a moan of pain, like a child who has
been badly hurt, she turned abruptly, and burying her face in her
hands she sobbed as if her heart would break. Sir Percy waited quietly
for a moment or two, until the first paroxysm of grief had quieted
down, and he said gently:

"Madame, I entreat you to compose yourself and to dry your tears. If I
have wronged you in my thoughts, I humbly crave your pardon. I pray
you to understand that when a man holds human lives in his hands, when
he is responsible for the life and safety of those who trust in him,
he must be doubly cautious and in his turn trust no one. You have said
yourself that now at last in this game of life and death, which I and
my friends have played so successfully these last three years, I hold
the losing cards. Then must I watch every trick all the more closely,
for a sound player can win through the mistakes of his opponent, even
if he hold a losing hand."

But she refused to be comforted.

"You will never know, milor--never--how deeply you have wounded me,"
she said through her tears. "And I, who for months past--ever since I
knew!--have dreamed of seeing the Scarlet Pimpernel one day! He was
the hero of my dreams, the man who stood alone in the mass of self-
seeking, vengeful, cowardly humanity as the personification of all
that was fine and chivalrous. I longed to see him--just once--to hold
his hand--to look into his eyes--and feel a better woman for the
experience. Love? It was not love I felt, but hero-worship, pure as
one's love for a starlit night or a spring morning, or a sunset over
the hills. I dreamed of the Scarlet Pimpernel, milor; and because of
my dreams, which were too vital for perfect discretion, I had to flee
from home, suspected, vilified, already condemned. Chance brings me
face to face with the hero of my dreams, and he looks on me as that
vilest thing on earth: a spy!--a woman who could lie to a man first
and send him afterwards to his death!"

Her voice, though more passionate and intense, had nevertheless become
more steady. She had at last succeeded in controlling her tears. Sir
Percy had listened--quite quietly, as was his wont--to her strange
words. There was nothing that he could say to this beautiful woman who
was so ingenuously avowing her love for him. It was a curious
situation, and in truth he did not relish it--would have given quite a
great deal to see it end as speedily as possible. Theresia,
fortunately, was gradually gaining the mastery over her own feelings.
She dried her eyes, and after a moment or two, of her own accord, she
started once more on her way.

Nor did they speak again with one another until they were under the
porch of The Fisherman's Rest. Then Theresia stopped, and with a
perfectly simple gesture she held out her hand to Sir Percy.

"We may never meet again on this earth, milor," she said quietly.
"Indeed, I shall pray to le bon Dieu to keep me clear of your path."

He laughed good-humouredly.

"I very much doubt, dear lady," he said, "that you will be in earnest
when you utter that prayer!"

"You choose to suspect me, milor; and I'll no longer try to combat
your mistrust. But to one more word you must listen: Remember the
fable of the lion and the mouse. The invincible Scarlet Pimpernel
might one day need the help of Theresia Cabarrus. I would wish you to
believe that you can always count on it."

She extended her hand to him, and he took it, the while his
inveterately mocking glance challenged her earnest one. After a moment
or two he stooped and kissed her finger-tips.

"Let me rather put it differently, dear lady," he said. "One day the
exquisite Theresia Cabarrus--the Egeria of the Terrorists, the fiance
of the Great Tallien--might need the help of the League of the Scarlet

"I would sooner die than seek your help, milor," she protested

"Here in Dover, perhaps... but in France?... And you said you were
going back to France, in spite of Chauvelin and his pale eyes, and his
suspicions of you."

"Since you think so ill of me," she retorted, "why should you offer me
your help?"

"Because," he replied lightly, "with the exception of my friend
Chauvelin, I have never had so amusing an enemy; and if would afford
me intense satisfaction to render you a signal service."

"You mean, that you would risk your life to save mine?"

"No. I should not risk my life, dear lady," he said with his puzzling
smile. "But I should--God help me!--do my best, if the need arose, to
save yours."

After which, with another ceremonious bow, he took final leave of her,
and she was left standing there, looking after his tall, retreating
figure until the turn of the street hid him from view.

Who could have fathomed her thoughts and feelings at that moment? No
one, in truth; not even herself. Theresia Cabarrus had met many men in
her day, subjugated and fooled not a few. But she had never met anyone
like this before. At one moment she had thought she had him: he
appeared moved, serious, compassionate, gave her his word that he
would not betray her; and in that word, her unerring instinct--the
instinct of the adventuress, the woman who succeeds by her wits as
well by her charm--told her that she could trust. Did he fear her, or
did he not? Did he suspect her? Theresia could not say. She had no
experience of such men. As for the word "sport," she hardly knew its
meaning; and yet he had talked of not betraying her because he was "a
lover of sport"! It was all very puzzling; very mysterious.

For a long while she remained standing in the porch. From the square
bay window on her right came the sound of laughter and chatter,
issuing from the coffee-room, whilst one or two noisy groups of
sailors and their girls passed her by, singing and laughing, down the
street. But in the porch, where she stood, the noisy world appeared
distant, as if she were alone in one of her own creation. She could,
just by closing her eyes and ears to the life around her, imagine she
could still hear the merry, lazy, drawling voice of the man she had
set out to punish. She could still see his tall figure and humorous
face, with those heavy eyes that lit up now and again with a strange,
mysterious light, and the firm lips every ready to break into a smile.
She could still see the man who so loved sport that he swore not to
betray her, and risked the chance, in his turn, of falling into a

Well! he had defied and insulted her. The letter which he left for her
after he had smuggled Bertrand Moncrif out of her apartment, rankled
and stung her pride as nothing had ever done before. Therefore the man
must be punished, and in a manner that would leave no doubt in his
mind as to whence came the blow that struck him. But it was all going
to be very much more difficult than the beautiful Theresia Cabarrus
had allowed herself to believe.




It was a thoughtful Theresia who turned into the narrow hall of The
Fisherman's Rest a few moments later. The inn, when she left it
earlier in the evening, had still been all animation and bustle
consequent on the arrival of their lordships with the party of ladies
and gentlemen over from France, and the excitement of making all these
grand folk comfortable for the night. Theresia Cabarrus, in her
disguise as a young stowaway, had only aroused passing interest--
refugees of every condition and degree were frequent enough in these
parts--and when awhile ago she had slipped out in order to enact the
elaborate rle devised by her and Chauvelin, she had done so
unperceived. Since then, no doubt there had been one or two cursory
questions about the mysterious stowaway, who had been left to feed and
rest in the tiny living-room; but equally no doubt, interest in him
waned quickly when it was discovered that he had gone, without as much
as thanking those who had befriended him.

The travellers from France had long since retired to their rooms,
broken with fatigue after the many terrible experiences they had gone
through. The young English gallants had gone, either to friends in the
neighbourhood or--in the case of Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and Lord Anthony
Dewhurst--ridden away in the early part of the evening, so as to reach
Ashford mayhap or Maidstone before nightfall, and thus lessen the
distance which still separated them from the loved ones at home.

A good deal of noise and laughter was still issuing from the coffee-
room. Through the glass door Theresia could see the habitus of The
Fisherman's Rest--yokels and fisherfolk--sitting over their ale, some
of them playing cards or throwing dice. Mine host was there too,
engaged as usual in animated discussion with some privileged guests
who sat in the ingle-nook.

Theresia slipped noiselessly past the glass door. Straight in front of
her a second passage ran at right angles; two or three steps led up to
it. She tip-toed up these, and then looked about her, trying to
reconstruct in her mind the disposition of the various rooms. On her
left a glass partition divided the passage from the small parlour
wherein she had found shelter on her arrival. On her right the passage
obviously led to the kitchen, for much noise of crockery and shrill
feminine voices and laughter came from there.

For a moment Theresia hesitated. Her original intention had been to
find Mistress Waite and see if a bed for the night were still
available; but a slight noise or movement issuing from the parlour
caused her to turn. She peeped through the glass partition. The room
was dimly lighted by a small oil-lamp which hung from the ceiling. A
fire still smouldered in the hearth, and beside it, sitting on a low
stool staring into the embers, his hands held between his knees, was
Bertrand Moncrif.

Theresia Cabarrus had some difficulty in smothering the cry of
surprise which had risen to her throat. Indeed, for the moment she
thought that the dim light and her own imaginative fancy was playing
her a fantastic trick. The next, she had opened the door quite
noiselessly and slipped into the room. Bertrand had not moved.
Apparently he had not heart; or if he had cursorily glanced up, he had
disdained to notice the roughly clad fellow who was disturbing his
solitude. Certain it is that he appeared absorbed in gloomy
meditations; whilst Theresia, practical and deliberate, drew the
curtains together that hung in front of the glass partition, and thus
made sure that intruding eyes could not catch her unawares. Then she
murmured softly:


He woke as from a dream, looked up and saw her. He passed a shaking
hand once or twice across his forehead, then suddenly realized that
she was actually there, near him, in the flesh. A hoarse cry escaped
him, and the next moment he was down on his knees at her feet, his
arms around her, his face buried in the folds of her mantle.

Everything--anxiety, sorrow, even surprise--was forgotten in the joy
of seeing her. He was crying like a child, and murmuring her name in
the intervals of covering her knees, her hands, her feet in their
rough boots with kisses. She stood there, quite still, looking down on
him, yielding her hands to his caresses. Around her full red lips
there was an undefinable smile; but the light in her eyes was
certainly one of triumph.

After awhile he rose, and she allowed him to lead her to an arm-chair
by the hearth. She sat down, and he knelt at her feet with one arm
around her waist, and his head against her breast. He had never in his
life been quite so exquisitely happy. This was not the imperious
Theresia, impatient and disdainful, as she had been of late--cruel
even sometimes, as on that last evening when he thought he would never
see her again. It was the Theresia in the early days in Paris, when
first she came back from Bordeaux, with a reputation for idealism as
well as for beauty and wit, and with a gracious acceptance of his
homage which had completely subjugated him.

She insisted on hearing every detail of his escape out of Paris and
out of France, under the protection of the League of the Scarlet
Pimpernel. In truth, he did not know who his rescuer was. He
remembered by little of that awful night when, after the terrible
doings at the Fraternal Supper, he had sought refuge in her apartment
and then realized that, like a criminal and selfish fool, he was
compromising her precious life by remaining under her roof.

He had resolved to go as soon as he was able to stand--resolved if
need be to give himself up at the nearest Poste de Section, when in a
semi-conscious state he became aware that some one was in the room
with him. He had not the time or the power to rouse himself and to
look about, when a cloth was thrown over his face and he felt himself
lifted off the chair bodily and carried away by powerful arms, whither
he knew not.

After that, a great deal had happened--it all seemed indeed like a
dream. At one time he was with Rgine de Serval in a coach, at others
with her brother Jacques, in a hut at night, lying on straw, trying to
get some sleep, and tortured with thoughts of Theresia and fear for
her safety. There were halts and delays, and rushes through the night.
He himself was quite dazed, felt like a puppet that was dragged hither
and thither in complete unconsciousness. Rgine was constantly with
him. She did her best to comfort him, would try to wile away the weary
hours in the coach or in various hiding-places by holding his hand and
talking of the future--the happy future in England, when they would
have a home of their own, secure from the terrors of the past two
years, peaceful in complete oblivion of the cruel past. Happy and
peaceful! My God! As if there could be any happiness or peace for him,
away from the woman he worshipped!

Theresia listened to the tale, for the most part in silence. From time
to time she would stroke his hair and forehead with her cool, gentle
hand. She did ask one or two questions, but these chiefly on the
subject of his rescuer: Had he seen him? Had he seen any of the
English gentlemen who effected his escape?

Oh, yes! Bertrand saw a good deal of the three or four young gallants
who accompanied him and the party all the way from Paris. He only saw
the last of them here, in this inn, a few hours ago. One of them gave
him some money to enable him to reach London in comfort. They were
very kind, entirely unselfish. Mme de Serval, Rgine, and the others
were overwhelmed with gratitude, and oh, so happy! Josphine and
Jacques had forgotten all about their duty to their country in their
joy at finding themselves united and safe in this new land.

But the Scarlet Pimpernel himself, Theresia insisted, trying to
conceal her impatience under a veneer of tender solicitude--had
Bertrand seen him?

"No!" Bertrand replied. "I never once set eyes on him, though it was
he undoubtedly who dragged me helpless out of your apartment. The
others spoke of him--always as 'the chief.' They seemed to reverence
him. He must be fine and brave. Rgine and her mother and the two
young ones have learned to worship him. Small wonder! seeing what he
did for them at that awful Fraternal Supper."

"What did he do?" Theresia queried.

And the story had to be told by Bertrand, just as he had had it
straight from Rgine. The asthmatic coal-heaver--the quarrel--
Robespierre's arrival on the scene--the shouts--the mob. The terror of
that awful giant who had dragged them into the empty house, and there
left them in the care of others scarce less brave than himself. Then
the disguises--the wanderings through the streets--the deathly anxiety
at the gates of the city--the final escape in a laundry cart. Miracles
of self-abnegation! Wonders of ingenuity and of daring! What wonder
that the name of the Scarlet Pimpernel was one to be revered!

"On my knees will I pay homage to him," Bertrand concluded fervently;
"since he brought you to my arms!"

She had him by the shoulders, held him from her at arm's length,
whilst she looked--inquiring, slightly mocking--into his eyes.

"Brought me to your arms, Bertrand?" she said slowly. "What do you

"You are here, Theresia," he riposted. "Safe in England... through the
agency of the Scarlet Pimpernel."

She gave a hard, mirthless laugh.

"Aye!" she said drily; "through his agency. But not as you imagine,

"What do you mean?"

"The Scarlet Pimpernel, my friend, after he had dragged you away from
the shelter which you had found under my roof, sent an anonymous
denunciation of me to the nearest Roste de Section, as having
harboured the traitor Moncrif and conspiring with him to assassinate
Robespierre whilst the latter was in my apartment."

Bertrand uttered a cry of horror.

"Impossible!" he exclaimed.

"The chief Commissary of the Section," she went on glibly, earnestly--
never taking her eyes off his, "at risk of his life, gave me warning.
Aided by him and a faithful servant, I contrived to escape--out of
Paris first, then across country in the amidst of unspeakable misery,
and finally out of the country into an open boat, until I was picked
up by a chance vessel and brought to this inn more dead than alive."

She fell back against the cushion of the chair, her sinuous body
shaken with sobs. Bertrand, speechless with horror, could but try and
soothe his beloved as she had soothed him a while ago, when past
terrors and past bitter experiences had unmanned him. After a while
she became more calm, contrived to smile through her tears.

"You see, Bertrand, that your gallant Scarlet Pimpernel is as
merciless in hate as he is selfless in love."

"But why?" the young man ejaculated vehemently. "Why?"

"Why he should hate me?" she rejoined with a pathetic little sigh and
a shrug of the shoulders. "Chien sabe, my friend! Of course, he does
not know that of late--ever since I have gained the regard of citizen
Tallien--my life has been devoted to intervening on behalf of the
innocent victims of our revolution. I suppose he takes me for the
friend and companion of all those ruthless Terrorists whom he abhors.
He has forgotten what I did in Bordeaux, and how I risked my life
there, and did so daily in Paris for the sake of those whom he himself
befriends. It may all be a question of misunderstanding," she added,
with gentle resignation, "but 'tis one that wellnigh did cost me my

Bertrand folded her in his arms, held her against him, as if to shield
her with his body against every danger. It was his turn now to comfort
and to console, and she rested her head against his shoulder--a
perfect woman rather than an unapproachable divinity, giving him
through her weakness more exquisite bliss than he had ever dreamed of
before. The minutes sped on, winged with happiness, and time was
forgotten in the infinity of joy.


Theresia was the first to rouse herself from this dream of happiness
and oblivion. She glanced up at the clock. It was close upon ten.
Confused, adorable, she jumped to her feet.

"You will ruin my reputation, Bertrand," she said with a smile, "thus
early in a strange land!"

She would arrange with the landlord's daughter, she said, about a bed
for herself, as she was very tired. What did he mean to do?

"Spend the night in this room," he replied, "if mine host will let me.
I could have such happy dreams here! These four walls will reflect
your exquisite image, and 'tis your dear face will smile down on me
ere I close mine eyes in sleep."

She had some difficulty in escaping fro his clinging arms, and 'twas
only the definite promise that she gave him to come back in a few
minutes and let him know what she had arranged, that ultimately
enabled him to let her go. Even so, he felt inexpressibly sad when she
went, watched her retreating figure, so supple and so quaint in the
rough, masculine clothes and the heavy mantle, as she walked
resolutely down the passage in the direction of the kitchen. From the
coffee-room there still came the sound of bustle and of merriment; but
this little room seemed so peaceful, so remote--a shrine, now that his
goddess had hallowed it by her presence.

Bertrand drew a deep sigh, partly of happiness, partly of utter
weariness. He was more tired than he knew. She had promised to come
back and say good night... in a few minutes.... But the minutes seemed
leaden-footed now... and he was half-dead with fatigue. He threw
himself down on the hard, uncomfortable horsehair sofa, whereon he
hoped to pass the night if the landlord would let him, and glanced up
at the clock. Only three minutes since she had gone... of course she
would not be long... only a few more minutes... a very few.... He
closed his eyes, for the lids felt heavy... of a surety he would hear
her come....


Night and Morning


Theresia waited for a moment or two at the turn of the passage, until
her keen ear had told her that Bertrand was no longer on the watch and
had closed the door behind him. Then she retraced her steps--on
tiptoe, lest he should hear.

She found her way to the front door; it was still on the latch. She
opened it and peered out into the night. The little porch was
deserted, but out there on the quay a few passers-by still livened the
evening with chatter or song. Theresia was on the point of steeping
out of the porch, when a familiar voice hailed her softly by name:

"Citoyenne Cabarrus!"

A man, dressed in dark clothes, with high boots and sugar-loaf hat,
came out from the dark angle behind the porch.

"Not here!" Theresia whispered eagerly. "Out on the quay. Wait for me
there, my little Chauvelin. I'll be with you anon. I have so much to
tell you!"

Silently, he did as she desired. She waited for a moment in the porch,
watching the meagre figure in the dark cloak making its way across to
the quay, then walking rapidly in the direction of the Pent. The moon
was dazzlingly brilliant. The harbour and the distant sea glistened
like diamond-studded sheets of silver. From afar there came the sound
of the castle clock striking ten. The groups of passers-by had
dwindled down to an occasional amorous couple strolling homewards,
whispering soft nothings and gazing enraptured at the moon; or half-a-
dozen sailors lolling down the quays arm in arm, on their way back to
their ship, obstructing the road, yelling and singing the refrain of
the newest ribald song; or perhaps a belated pedlar, weary of an
unprofitable beat, wending his way dejectedly home.

One of these poor wretches--a cripple with a wooden leg and bent
nearly doubt with the heavy load on his pack--paused for a moment
beside the porch, held out a grimy hand to Theresia, with a pitiable

"Of your charity, kind sir! Buy a little something from the pore ole
man, to buy a bit of bread!"

He looked utterly woebegone, with lank grey hair blown about by the
breeze and a colourless face covered with sweat, that shone like
painted metal in the moon-light.

"Buy a little something, kind sir!" he went on, in a shrill, throaty
voice. "I've a sick wife at 'ome, and pore little gran'childen!"

Theresia--a little frightened, and not at all charitably inclined at
this hour--turned hastily away and went back into to house, whither
the cripple's vigorous curses followed her.

"May Satan and all his armies-"

She shut the door on him and hastened up the passage. That cadaverous
old reprobate had caused her to shudder as with the presentiment of
coming evil.


With infinite precaution, Theresia peeped into the room where she had
left Bertrand. She saw him lying on the sofa, fast asleep.

On the table in the middle of the room there was an old ink-horn, a
pen, and few loose sheets of paper. Noiseless as a mouse, Theresia
slipped into the room, sat at the table, and hurriedly wrote a few
lines. Bertrand had not moved. Having written her missive, Theresia
folded it carefully, and still on tiptoe, more stealthily even than
before, she slipped the paper between the young man's loosely clasped
fingers. Then, as soundlessly as she had come, she glided out of the
room, ran down the passage, and was out in the porch once more,
breathless but relieved.

Bertrand had not moved; and no one had seen her. Theresia only paused
in the porch long enough to recover her breath, then, without
hesitation and with rapid strides, she crossed over to the water's
edge and walked along in the direction of the Pent.

Whereupon, the figure of the old cripple emerged from out the shadows.
He gazed after the fast retreating figure of Theresia for a moment or
two, then threw down his load, straightened out his back, and
stretched out his arms from the shoulders with a sigh of content.
After which amazing proceedings he gave a soft, inward chuckle,
unstrapped his wooden leg, slung it with his discarded load across his
broad shoulders, and turning his back upon harbour and sea, turned up
the High Street and strode rapidly away.


When Bertrand Moncrif woke, the dawn was peeping in throuhg the
uncurtained window. He felt cold and stiff. It took him some time to
realize where he was, to collect his scattered senses. He had been
dreaming... here in this room... Theresia had been here... and she had
laid her head against his breast and allowed him to soothe and comfort
her. Then she said that she would come back... and he... like a
fool... had fallen asleep.

He jumped up, fully awake now; and as he did so a folded scrap of
paper fell out of his hand. He had not known that it was there when
first he woke, and somehow it appeared to be a part of his dream. As
it lay there on the sanded floor at his feet, it looked strangely
ghostlike, ominous; and it was with a trembling hand that, presently,
he picked it up.

Every minute now brought fuller daylight into the room; a grey, cold
light, for the window faced the south-west, showing a wide stretch of
the tidal harbour and the open sea beyond. The sun, not fully risen,
had not yet shed warmth over the landscape, and to Bertrand this
colourless dawn, the mysterious stillness which earth assumes just
before it wakens to the sun's kiss, seemed inexpressibly dreary and

He went to the window and threw open the casement. Down below, a
kitchen wench was busy scrubbing the flagged steps of the porch; over
in the inner harbour, one or two fishing vessels were preparing to put
out to sea; and from the tidal harbour, the graceful yacht which
yesterday had brought him--Bertrand--and his friends safely to this
land of refuge, was majestically gliding out, like a beautiful swan
with gleaming wings outspread.

Controlling his apprehension, his nervousness, Bertrand at last
contrived to unfold the mysterious epistle. He read the few lines that
were traced with a delicate, feminine hand, and with a sigh of
infinite longing and of ardent passion, he pressed the paper to his
lips. Theresia had sent him a message. Finding him asleep, she had
slipped it into his hand. The marvel was that he did not wake when she
stooped over him, and perhaps even touched his forehead with her lips.

"A kind soul," so the message ran, "hath taken compassion on me. There
was no room for me at the inn, and she has offered me a bed in her
cottage, somewhere close by. I do not know where it is. I have
arranged with the landlord that you shall be left undisturbed in the
small room where he found one another, and where the four walls will
whisper to you of me. Good night, my beloved! To-morrow you will go to
London with the de Servals. I will follow later. It is better so. In
London you will find me at the house of Mme de Neafchateau, a friend
of my father's who lives at No. 54 in the Soho Square, and who offered
me hospitality in the days when I thought I might visit London for
pleasure. She will receive me now that I am poor and an exile. Come to
me there. Until then my heart will feed on the memory of your kiss."

The letter was signed "Theresia."

Bertrand pressed it time and again to his lips. Never in his wildest
dreams had he hoped for this; never even in those early days of
rapture had he tasted such perfect bliss. The letter he hid against
his breast. He was immeasurably happy, felt as if he were treading on
air. The sea, the landscape, no longer looked grey and dreary. This
was England, the land of the free, the land wherein he had regained
his beloved. Ah, the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, while seeking
ignoble vengeance against her, for sins which she never had committed,
did in truth render him and her a priceless service. Theresia,
courted, adulated, over in Paris, had been as far removed from
Bertrand Moncrif as the stars; but here, where she was poor and
lonely, a homeless refugee like himself, she turned instinctively to
the faithful lover, who would gladly die to ensure her happiness.

With that letter in his possession, Bertrand felt that he could not
remain indoors. He was pining for open spaces, the sea, the mountains,
God's pure air--the air which she too was breathing even now. He
snatched up his hat and made his way out of the little building. The
kitchen wench paused in her scrubbing and looked up smiling as he ran
past her, singing and shouting for joy. For Rgine--the tender, loving
heart that pined for him and for his love--he had not a thought. She
was the past, the dull, drabby past wherein he had dwelt before he
knew how glorious a thing life could be, how golden the future, how
rosy that horizon far away.

By the time he reached the harbour, the sun had risen in all its
glory. Way out against the translucent sky, the graceful silhouette of
the schooner swayed gently in the morning breeze, her outspread sails
gleaming like wings that are tinged with gold. Bertrand watched her
for awhile. He thought of the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel and the
hideous vengeance which he had wrought against his beloved. And the
rage which possessed his soul at the thought obscured for a moment the
beauty of the morning and the glory of the sky. With a gesture
characteristic of his blood and of his race, he raised his fist and
shook it in the direction of the distant ship.


A Rencontre


For Marguerite, that wonderful May-day, like so many others equally
happy and equally wonderful, came to an end all too soon. To dwell on
those winged hours were but to record sorrow, anxiety, a passionately
resentment coupled with an equally passionate acceptance of the
inevitable. Her intimate friends often marvelled how Marguerite
Blakeney bore the strain of these constantly recurring farewells.
Every time that in the early dawn she twined her loving arms round the
neck of the man she worshipped, feeling that mayhap she was looking
into those dear, lazy, laughing eyes for the last time on earth--every
time, it seemed to her as if earth could not hold greater misery.

Then after that came that terrible half-hour, whilst she stood on the
landing-stage--his kisses still hot upon her lips, her eyes, her
throat--and watched and watched that tiny speck, that fast-sailing
ship that bore him away on his errand of mercy and self-sacrifice,
leaving her lonely and infinitely desolate. And then the days and
hours, when he was away and it was her task t smile and laugh, to
appear to know nothing of her husband save that he was a society
butterfly, the pet of the salons, an exquisite, something of a fool,
whose frequent absences were accounted for by deer-stalking in
Scotland or fishing in the Tweed, or hunting in the shires--anything
and everything that would throw dust in the eyes of the fashionable
crowd of whom she and he formed an integral part.

"Sir Percy not with you to-night, dear Lady Blakeney?"

"With me? Lud love you, no! I have not seen him these three weeks

"The dog!"

People would talk and ask questions, throw out suggestions and
innuendoes. Society a few months ago had been greatly agitated because
the beautiful Lady Blakeney, the most fashionable woman about town,
had taken a mad fancy for--you'll never believe it, my dear!--for her
own husband. She had him by her side at routs and river-parties, in
her opera-box and on the Mall. It was positively indecent! Sir Percy
was the pet of Society, his sallies, his inane laugh, his lazy,
delicious, impertinent ways and his exquisite clothes, made the
success of every salon in which he chose to appear. His Royal Highness
was never so good-tempered as when Sir Percy was by his side. Then,
for his own wife to monopolize him was preposterous, abnormal,
extravagant! Some people put it down to foreign eccentricity; others
to Lady Blakeney's shrewdness in thus throwing dust in the eyes of her
none-too-clever lord, in order to mask some intrigue or secret amour,
of which Society had not as yet the key.

Fortunately for the feelings of the fashionable world, this phase of
conjugal affection did not last long. It had been at its height last
year, and had waned perceptibly since. Of late, so it was averred, Sir
Percy was hardly ever at home, and his appearances at Blakeney Manor--
his beautiful house at Richmond--were both infrequent and brief. He
had evidently tried of playing second fiddle to his exquisite wife, or
been irritated by her caustic wit, which she was wont to sharpen at
his expense; and the mnage of these two leaders of fashion had, in
the opinion of those in the know, once more resumed a more normal

When Lady Blakeney was in Richmond, London or Bath, Sir Percy was
shooting or fishing or yachting--which was just as it should be. And
when he appeared in society, smiling, elegant, always an exquisite,
Lady Blakeney would scarce notice him, save for making him a butt for
her lively tongue.


What it cost Marguerite to keep up this rle none but a very few ever
knew. The identity of one of the greatest heroes of this or any time
was known to his most bitter enemy--not to his friends. So Marguerite
went on smiling, joking, flirting, while her heart ached and her brain
was at times wellnigh numb with anxiety. His intimates rallied round
her, of course: the splendid little band of heroes who formed the
League of the Scarlet Pimpernel--Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and his pretty
wife; Lord Anthony Dewhurst and his lady, whose great dark eyes still
wore the impress of the tragedy which had darkened the first month of
her happy wedded life. Then there was my lord Hastings; and Sir Evan
Cruche, the young Squire of Holt, and all the others.

And for the Prince of Wales, it is more than surmised by those
competent to judge that His Royal Highness did indeed guess at the
identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, even if he had no actually been
apprised of it. Certain it is that his tact and discretion did on more
than one occasion save a situation which might have proved
embarrassing for Marguerite.

In all these friends then--in their conversation, their happy
laughter, their splendid pluck and equally splendid gaiety, the echo
of the chief whom they adored--Marguerite found jus the solace that
she needed. With Lady Ffoulkes and Lady Anthony Dewhurst she had
everything in common. With those members of the League who happened to
be in England, she could talk over and in her mind trace the various
stages of the perilous adventure on which her beloved and the others
were even then engaged.

And there were always the memories of those all too brief days at
Dover or in Richmond, when her loving heart tasted such perfect
happiness as is granted only to the elect: the happiness that comes
from perfect love, perfect altruism, a complete understanding and
measureless sympathy. On those memories her hungering soul could
subsist in the intervals, and with them as her unalienable property,
she could even bid the grim spectre of unhappiness begone.


Of Madame de Fontenay--for as such Marguerite still knew her--she saw
but little. Whether the beautiful Theresia had gone to London or no,
whether she had succeeded in finding her truant husband, Marguerite
did not know and cared less. The unaccountable antipathy which she had
felt on that first night of her acquaintance with the lovely Spaniard
still caused her to hold herself aloof. Sir Percy, true to his word,
had not betrayed the actual identity of Theresia Cabarrus to his wife;
but in his light, insouciant manner had dropped a word or two of
warning, which had sharpened Marguerite's suspicions and strengthened
her determination to avoid Mme de Fontenay as far as possible. And
since monetary or other material help was apparently not required, she
had no reason to resume an intercourse which, in point of fact, was
not courted by Theresia either.

But one day, walking alone in Richmond Park, she came face to face
with Theresia. It was a beautiful late afternoon in July, the end of a
day which had been a comparatively happy one for Marguerite--the day
when a courier had come from France with news of Sir Percy; a letter
from him, telling her that he was well and hinting at the possibility
of another of those glorious days together at Dover.

With that message from her beloved just to hand, Marguerite had felt
utterly unable to fulfill her social engagements in London. There was
nothing of any importance that claimed her presence. His Royal
Highness was at Brighton; the opera and the rout at Lady Portarles'
could well get on without her. The evening promised to be more than
ordinarily beautiful, with a radiant sunset and the soft, sweet-
scented air of a midsummer's evening.

After dinner, Marguerite had felt tempted to stroll out alone. She
threw a shawl over her head and stepped out on to the terrace. The
vista of velvet lawns, of shady paths and rose borders in full bloom,
stretched out into the dim distance before her; and beyond these, the
boundary wall, ivy-clad, overhung with stately limes, and broken into
by the finely wrought iron gates that gave straight into the Park.

The shades of evening were beginning to draw in, and the garden was
assuming that subtle veil of mysterious melancholy which perfect
beauty always lends. In the stately elms far away, a blackbird was
whistling his evensong. The night was full of sweet ordours--roses and
heliotrope, lime and mignonette--whilst just below the terrace a bed
of white tobacco swung ghost-like its perfumed censer into the air.
Just an evening to lure a lonely soul into the open, away from the
indifferent, the casual, into the heart of nature, always potent
enough to soothe and to console.


Marguerite strolled through the grounds with a light foot, and anon
reached the monumental gates, through which the exquisite peace and
leafy solitude of the Park seemed to beckon insistently to her. The
gate was on the latch; she slipped through and struck down a woodland
path bordered by tangled undergrowth and tall bracken, and thus
reached the pond, when suddenly she perceived Mme de Fontenay.

Theresia was dressed in a clinging gown of diaphanous black silk,
which gave value to the exquisite creamy whiteness of her skin and to
the vivid crimson of her lips. She wore a transparent shawl round her
shoulders, which with the new-modish, high-waisted effect of her gown,
suited her sinuous grace to perfection. But she wore no jewellery, no
ornaments of any kind: only a magnificent red rose at her breast.

The sight of her at this place and at this hour was so unexpected
that, to Marguerite's super-sensitive intuition, the appearance of
this beautiful woman, strolling listless and alone beside the water's
edge, seemed like a presage of evil. Her first instinct had been to
run away before Mme de Fontenay was aware of her presence; but the
next moment she chided herself for this childish cowardice, and stood
her ground, waiting for the other woman to draw near.

A minute or two later, Theresia had looked up and in her turn had
perceived Marguerite. She did not seem surprised, rather came forward
with a glad little cry, and her two hands outstretched.

"Milady!" she exclaimed. "Ah, I see you at last! I have oft wondered
why we never met."

Marguerite took her hands, greeted her as warmly as she could. Indeed
she did her best to appear interested and sympathetic.

Mme de Fontenay had not much to relate. She had found refuge in the
French convent of the Assumption at Twickenham, where the Mother
Superior had been an intimate friend of her mother's in the happy
olden days. She went out very little, and never in society. But she
was fond of strolling in this beautiful Park. The sisters had told her
that Lady Blakeney's beautiful house was quite near. She would have
liked to call--but never dared--hoping for a chance recontre which
hitherto had never come.

She asked kindly after milor, and seemed to have heard a rumour that
he was at Brighton, in attendance on his royal friend. Of her husband,
Mme de Fontenay had as yet found no trace. He must be living under an
assumed name, she thought--not doubt in dire poverty--Theresia feared
it, but did not know--would give worlds to find out.

Then she asked Lady Blakeney whether she knew aught of the de Servals.

"I was so interested in them," she said, "because I had heard
something of them while I was in Paris, and seeing that we arrived in
England the same day, though under such different circumstances. But
we could not journey to London together, as you, milady, so kindly
suggested, because I was very ill the next day.... Ah, can you
wonder?... A kind friend in Dover took care of me. But I remember
their name, and have oft marvelled if we should ever meet."

Yes; Marguerite did see the de Servals from time to time. They rented
a small cottage not very far from here--just outside of town. One of
the daughters, Rgine, was employed all day at the fashionable dress-
maker's in Richmond. The younger girl, Josphine, and the boy,
Jacques, was doing work in a notary's office. It was all very dreary
for them, but their courage was marvellous; and though the children
did not earn much, it was sufficient for their wants.

Madame de Fontenay was vastly interested. She hoped that Rgine's
marriage with the man of her choice would bring a ray of real
happiness into the household.

"I hope so too," Lady Blakeney assented.

"Milady has seen the young man--Rgine's fianc?"

"Oh, yes! once or twice. But he is engaged in business all day, it
seems. He is inclined to be morbid and none too full of ardour. It is
a pity; for Rgine is a sweet girl and deserves happiness."

"We have so much sorrow in common," she said with a pathetic smile.
"So many misfortunes. We ought to be friends."

Then she gave a slight little shiver.

"The weather is extraordinarily cold for July," she said. "Ah, how one
misses the glorious sunshine of France!"

She wrapped her thin, transparent shawl closer round her shoulders.
She was delicate, she explained. Always had been. She was a child of
the South, and fully expected the English climate would kill her. In
any case, it was foolish of her to stand thus talking, when it was so

After which she took her leave, with a gracious inclination of the
head and a cordial au revoir. Then she turned off into a small path
under the trees, cut through the growing racken; and Marguerite
watched the graceful figure thoughtfully, until the leafy undergrowth
hid her from view.




The next morning's sun rose more radiant than before. Marguerite
greeted it with a sigh that was entirely a happy one. Another round of
the clock had brought her a little nearer to the time when she would
see her beloved. The next courier might indeed bring a message naming
the very day when she could rest once more in his arms for a few brief
hours, which were so like the foretaste of heaven.

Soon after breakfast she ordered her coach, intending to go to London
in order to visit Lady Ffoulkes and give Sir Andrew the message which
was contained for him in Percy's last letter. Whilst waiting for the
coach, she strolled out into the garden, which was gay with roses and
blue larkspur, sweet william and heliotrope, alive with a deafening
chorus of blackbirds and thrushes, the twittering of sparrows and the
last call of the cuckoo. It was a garden brimful of memories, filled
in rich abundance with the image of the man she worship. Every bird-
song seemed to speak his name, the soughing of the breeze amidst the
trees seemed to hold the echo of his voice; the perfume of thyme and
mignonette to bring back the savour of his kiss.

Then suddenly she became aware of hurrying footsteps on the gravelled
path close by. She turned, and saw a young man whom at first she did
not recognize, running with breathless haste towards her. He was
hatless, his linen crumpled, his coat-collar awry. At sight of her he
gave a queer cry of excitement and relief.

"Lady Blakeney! Thank God! Thank God!"

Then she recognized him. It was Bertrand Moncrif.

He fell on his knees and seized her gown. He appeared entirely
overwrought, unbalanced, and Marguerite tried in vain at first to get
a coherent word out of him. All that he kept on repeating was:

"Will you help me? Will you help us all?"

"Indeed I will, if I can, M. Moncrif," Marguerite said gently. "Do try
and compose yourself and tell me what is amiss."

She persuaded him to rise, and presently to follow her to a garden
seat, where she sat down. He remained standing in front of her. His
eyes still looked wild and scared, and he passed a shaking hand once
or twice through his unruly hair. But he was obviously making an
effort to compose himself, and after a little while, during which
Marguerite waited with utmost patience, he began more coherently:

"Your servants said, milady," he began more quietly, "that you were in
the garden. I could not wait until they called you, so I ran to find
you. Will you try and forgive me? I ought not to have intruded."

"Of course I will forgive you," Marguerite rejoined with a smile, "if
you will only tell me what is amiss."

He paused a moment, then cried abruptly:

"Rgine has gone!"

Marguerite frowned, puzzled, and murmured slowly, not understanding:

"Gone? Whither?"

"To Dover," he replied, "with Jacques."

"Jacques?" she reiterated, still uncomprehending.

"Her brother," he rejoined. "You know the boy?"

Marguerite nodded.

"Hot-headed, impulsive," Moncrif went on, trying to speak calmly. "He
and the girl Josphine always had it in their minds that they were
destined to liberate France from her present state of anarchy and

"Like you yourself, M. Moncrif!" Marguerite put in with a smile.

"Oh, I became sobered, reasonable, when I realized how futile it all
was. We all owe our lives to that noble Scarlet Pimpernel. They were
no longer ours to throw away. At least, that was my theory, and
Rgine's. I have been engaged in business; and she works hard.... Oh,
but you know!" he exclaimed impulsively.

"Yes, I know all your circumstances. But to the point, I pray you!"

"Jacques of late has been very excited, feverish. We did not know what
was amiss. Rgine and I oft spoke of him. And Mme de Serval has been
distraught with anxiety. She worships the boy. He is her only son. But
Jacques would not say what was amiss. He spoke to no one. Went to his
work every day as usual. Last night he did not come home. A message
came for Mme de Serval to say that a friend in London had persuaded
him to go to the play and spend the night with him. Mme de Serval
thought nothing of that. She was pleased to think that Jacques had
some amusement to distract him from his brooding thoughts. But Rgine,
it seems, was not satisfied. After her mother had gone to bed, she
went into Jacque's room; found some papers, it seems... letters... I
know not... proof in fact that the boy was even then on his way to
Dover, having made arrangements to take ship for France."

"Mon Dieu!" Marguerite exclaimed involuntarily. "What senseless

"Ah! but that is not the worst. Folly, you say! But there is worse
folly still!"

With the same febrile movements that characterized his whole attitude,
he drew a stained and crumpled letter from his pocket.

"She sent me this, this morning," he said. "That is why I came to

"You mean Rgine?" Marguerite asked, and took the letter which he was
handing to her.

"Yes! She must have brought it round herself... to my lodgings... in
the early dawn. I did not know what to do... whom to consult.... A
blind instinct brought me here... I have no other friend..."

In the meanwhile Marguerite was deciphering the letter, turning a deaf
ear to his ramblings.

"My Bertrand," so the letter ran, "Jacques is going to France. Nothing
will keep him back. He says it is his duty. I think that he is mad,
and I know that it will kill maman. So I go with him. Perhaps at the
last--at Dover--my tears and entreaties might yet prevail. If not, and
he puts this senseless project in execution, I can watch over him
there, and perhaps save him from too glaring a folly. We go by coach
to Dover, which starts in an hour's time. Farewell, my beloved, and
forgive me for causing you the anxiety; but I feel that Jacques has
more need of me than you."

Below the signature "Rgine de Serval" there were a few more lines,
written as if with an afterthought:

"I have told maman that my employer is sending me down into the
country about some dresses for an important customer, and that as
Jacques can get a few days' leave from his work, I am taking him with
me, for I feel the country air would do him good.

"Maman will be astonished and no doubt hurt that Jacques did not send
her word of farewell, but it is best that she should not learn the
truth too suddenly. If we do not return to Dover within the week, you
will have to break the news as gently as you can."

Whilst Marguerite read the letter, Bertrand had sunk upon the seat and
buried his head in his hands. He looked utterly dejected and forlorn,
and she felt a twinge of remorse at thought how she had been wronging
him all this while by doubting his love for Rgine. She placed a
kindly hand on the young man's shoulder.

"What was your idea," she asked, "in coming to me? What can I do?"

"Give me advice, milady!" he implored. "I am so helpless, so
friendless. When I had the letter, I could think of nothing at first.
You see, Rgine and Jacques started early this morning, by the coach
from London, long before I had it. I thought you could tell me what to
do, how to overtake them. Rgine loves me--oh, she loves me! If I
knelt at her feet I could bring her back. But they are marked people,
those two. The moment they attempt to enter Paris, they will be
recognized, arrest. Oh, my God! have mercy on us all!"

"You think you can persuade Rgine, M. Moncrif?"

"I am sure," he asserted firmly. "And you, milady! Rgine thinks the
whole world of you!"

"But there is the boy--Jacques!"

"He is just a child--he acted on impulse--and I always had great
authority over him. And you, milady! The whole family worship you!...
they know what they owe you. Jacques has not thought of his mother;
but if he did-"

Marguerite rose without another word.

"Very well," she said simply. "We go together and see what we can do
with those two obstinate young folk."

Bertrand gave a gasp of surprise and of hope. His whole face lighted
up and he gazed upon the beautiful woman before him as a worshipper
would on his divinity.

"You, milady?" he murmured. "You would... really... help me... like

Marguerite smiled.

"I really would help you like that," she said. "My coach is ordered;
we can start at once. We'll get relays at Maidstone and at Ashford,
and easily reach Dover to-night, before the arrival of the public
coach. In any case, I know every one of any importance in Dover. We
could not fail to find the runaways."

"But you are an angel, milady!" Bertrand contrived to stammer,
although obviously he was overwhelemed with gratitude.

"You are ready to start?" Marguerite retorted, gently checking any
further display of emotion.

He certainly was hatless, and his clothes were in an untidy condition;
but such trifles mattered nothing at a moment like this. Marguerite's
household, on the other hand, were accustomed to these sudden vagaries
and departures of their mistress, either for Dover, Bath, or any known
and unknown destination, often at a few minutes' notice.

In this case the coach was actually at the gates. The maids packed the
necessary valise; her ladyship changed her smart gown for a dark
travelling one, and less than half an hour after Bertrand Moncrif's
first arrival at the Manor, he was searted beside Lady Blakeney in her
coach. The coachman cracked his whip, the postilion swung himself into
the saddle, and the servants stood at attention as the vehicle slowly
swung out of the gates; and presently, the horses putting on the pace,
disappeared along the road, followed by a cloud of dust.


Bertrand Moncrif, brooding, absorbed in thoughts, said little or
nothing while the coach swung along at a very brisk pace. Marguerite,
who always had plenty to think about, did not feel in the mood to try
and make conversation. She was very sorry for the young man, who in
very truth must have suffered also from remorse. His lack of ardour--
obviously only an outward lack--toward his fiance and the members of
her family, must to a certain extent have helped to precipitate the
present catastrophe. Coolness and moroseness on his part gave rise to
want of confidence on the other. Rgine, heart-sick at her lover's
seeming indifference, was no doubt all the more ready to lavish love
and self-sacrifice upon the young brother. Marguerite was sorry enough
for the latter--a young fool, with the exalt Latin temperament,
brimming over with desires for self-immolation as futile as they were
senseless--but her generous heart went out to Rgine de Serval, a girl
who appeared redestined to sorrow and disappointments, endowed with an
exceptionally warm nature and cursed with the inability to draw whole-
hearted affection to herself. She worshipped Bertrand Moncrif; she
idolized her mother, her brother, her sister. But though they, one and
all, relied on her, brought her the confidences of their troubles and
their difficulties, it never occurred to any one of them to give up
something--a distraction, a fancy, an ideal--for the sake of silent,
thoughtful Rgine.

Marguerite allowed her thoughts thus to dwell on these people, whom
her husband's splendid sacrifice on their behalf had rendered dear.
Indeed, she loved them like she loved so many others, because of the
dangers which he had braved for their sakes. Their lives had become
valuable because of his precious one, daily risked because of them.
And at the back of her mind there was also the certainty that if these
two young fools did put their mad project in execution and endeavoured
to return to Paris, it would again be the gallant Scarlet Pimpernel
who would jeopardize his life to save them from the consequences of
their own folly.


Luncheon and a brief halt was taken at Farningham and Maidstone
reached by three o'clock in the afternoon. Here Lady Blakeney's own
servants took leave of her, and post-horses were engaged to take her
ladyship on to Ashford. Two hours later, at Ashford, fresh relays were
obtained. The public coach at this hour was only some nine or ten
miles ahead, it seems, and there was now every chance that Dover would
be reached by nightfall and the young runaways met by their pursuers
on arrival.

All was then for the best. Bertrand, after the coach had rattled out
of Ashford, appeared to find comfort and courage. He began to talk,
long and earnestly--of himself, his plans and projects, his love for
Rgine, to which he always found it so difficult to give expression;
of Rgine herself and the de Servals, mother, son and daughters. His
voice was toneless and very even. The monotony of his diction acted
after awhile as a soporific on Marguerite's nerves. The rumble of the
coach, the closeness of this long afternoon in July, the rocking of
the springs, made her feel drowsy. After a while took, a curious scent
pervaded the interior of the coach--a sweet, heady scent that appeared
to weigh her eyelids down and gave her a feeling of delicious and lazy
beatitude. Bertrand Moncrif droned on, and his voice came to her fast-
fading senses as through a thick pulpy veil. She closed her eyes. That
sweet, intoxicating scent came, more marked, more insistent, to her
nostrils. She laid her head against the cushions, and still she heard
the dreary monotone of Bertrand's voice, quite inarticulate now, like
the hum of a swarm of bees....

Then, all of a sudden she was fully conscious; only just in time to
feel the weight of an iron hand against her mouth and to see
Bertrand's face, ghastly of hue, eyes distorted more with fear than
rage, quite close to her own. She had not the time to scream, and her
limbs felt as heavy as lead, so that she could not struggle. The next
moment a thick woollen scarf was wound quickly and tightly round her
head, covering her mouth and eyes, only barely giving her room to
breathe, and her hands and arms were tied together with cords.

This brutal assault had been so quick and so sudden that at first it
seemed to Marguerite like part of a hideous dream. She was not fully
conscious, and was half suffocated by the thick folds of the scarf and
that persistent odour, which by its sickened sweetness caused her
wellnigh to swoon.

Through this semi-consciousness, however, she was constantly aware of
her enemy, Bertrand Moncrif--the black-hearted traitor who had carried
out this execrable outrage: why and for what purpose, Marguerite was
too dazed to attempt to guess. He was there, that she knew. She was
conscious of his hands making sure of the cords round her wrists,
tightening the scarf around her mouth; then presently she felt him
leaning across her body and throwing down the window, and she heard
him shouting to the driver:

"Her ladyship as fainted. Drive as fast as ever you can till you come
to that white house yonder on the right, the one with the green
shutters and the tall yew at the gate!"

The driver's reply she could not hear, nor the crack of his whip.
Certain it is that, though the coach had rattled on at a great pace
before, the horses, as if in response to Bertrand's commands, now
burned the ground under their hoofs. A few minutes went by--an
eternity. Then that terrible cloying perfume was again held close to
her nostrils; an awful dizziness and nausea seized her; after which
she remembered nothing more.




When Marguerite Blakeney finally recovered consciousness, the sun was
low down in the west. She was in a coach--not her own--which was being
whisked along the road at terrific speed. She was alone, her mouth
gagged, her wrists and her ankles tied with cords, so that she could
neither speak nor move--a helpless log, being taken... whither?... and
by whom?

Bertrand was not here. Through the front window of the coach she could
perceive the vague outline of two men sitting on the driver's seat,
whilst another was riding the off-leader. Four horses were harnessed
to the light coach. It flew along in a south-easterly direction, the
while the shades of evening were fast drawing in.

Marguerite had seen too much of the cruelties and barbarities of this
world, too much of the hatred that existed between enemy countries,
and too much of the bitter rancour felt by certain men against her
husband and indirectly against herself, not to realize at once whence
the blow had come that had struck her. Something too in the shape of
that back which she perceived through the window in front of her,
something in the cut of the threadbare coat, the set of the black bow
at the nape of the neck, was too familiar to leave her even for a
moment in doubt. Here was no ordinary foot-pad, no daring abduction
with a view to reward or ransom. This was the work of her husband's
enemies, who, through her, were once more striving to get at him.

Bertrand Moncrif had been the decoy. Whence had come the hatred which
prompted him to raise his hand against the very man to whom he owed
his life, Marguerite was still too dazed to conjecture. He had gone,
and taken his secret of rancour with him, mayhap for ever. Lying
pinioned and helpless as she was, Marguerite had but the one thought:
in what way would those fiends who had her a prisoner use her as a
leverage against the life and honour of the Scarlet Pimpernel? They
had held her once before--not so very long ago--in Boulogne, and he
had emerged unscathed, victorious over them all.

Marguerite, helpless and pinioned, forced her thoughts to dwell on
that time, when his enemies had filled to the brim the cup of
humiliation and of dread which was destined for each him through her
hands, and his ingenuity and his daring dashed the cup to the ground
ere it reached her lips. In truth, her plight then, at Boulogne, was
in no way less terrible, less seemingly hopeless than now. She was a
prisoner then, just as she was now; in the power of men whose whole
life and entire range of thought had for the past two years been
devoted to the undoing and annihilation of the Scarlet Pimpernel. And
there was a certain grim satisfaction for the pinioned, helpless woman
in recalling the many instances where the daring adventurer had so
completely outwitted his enemies, as well as in the memory of those
days at Boulogne when the life of countless innocents was to be the
price of her own.


The embarkation took place somewhere on the coast around Brichington.
When, at dead of night, the coach came to a halt, and the tang of sea
air and salt spray reached Marguerite's burning cheeks and parched
lips, she tried with all her might to guess at her exact position. But
that was impossible.

She was lifted out of the coach, and at once a shawl was thrown over
her face, so that she could not see. It was more instinct than
anything else that guided her perceptions. Even in the coach she had
been vaguely conscious of the direction in which she had been
travelling. All that part of the country was entirely familiar to her.
So often she had driven down with Sir Percy, either to Dover or more
often to some lonely part of the coast, where he took ship for unknown
destinations, that in her mind she could, even blinded with tears and
half-conscious as she was, trace in her mind the various turnings and
side-roads along which she was being borne at unabating speed.

Birchington--one of the favourite haunts of the smuggling fraternity,
with its numberless caves and retreats dug by the sea in the chalk
cliffs, as if for the express benefit of ne'er-do-wells--seemed the
natural objective of the miscreants who had her in their power. In
fact, at one moment she was quite sure that the square tower of old
Minister church flitted past her vision through the window of the
coach, and that the horses immediately after that sprinted the hill
between Minster and Acoll.

Be that as it may, there was no doubt that the coach came to a halt at
a desolate spot. The day which had begun in radiance and sunshine, had
turned to an evening of squall and drizzle. A thin rain soon wetted
Marguerite's clothes and the shawl on her head through and through,
greatly adding to her misery and discomfort. Though she saw nothing,
she could trace every landmark of the calvary to the summit of which
she was being borne like an insentient log.

For a while she lay at the bottom of a small boat, aching in body as
well as in mind, her eyes closed, her limbs cramped by the cords which
owing to the damp were cutting into her flesh, faint with cold and
want of food, wet to the skin yet with eyes and head and hands burning
hot, and her ears filled with the dreary, monotonous sound of the oars
creaking in the rowlocks and the boom of the water against the sides
of the boat.

She was lifted out of the boat and carried, as she judged, by two men
up a companion ladder, then down some steps and finally deposited on
some hard boards; after which the wet shawl was removed from her face.
She was in the dark. Only a tiny streak of light found its way through
a chink somewhere close to the floor. A smell of tar and of stale food
gave her a wretched sense of nausea. But she had by now reached a
stage of physical and mental prostration wherein even acute bodily
suffering counts as nothing, and is endurable because it is no longer

After a while the familiar motion, the well-known sound of a ship
weighing anchor, gave another blow to her few lingering hopes. Every
movement of the ship now bore her farther and farther from England and
home, and rendered her position more utterly miserable and hopeless.

Far be it from me to suggest even for a moment that Marguerite
Blakeney lost either spirit or courage during this terrible ordeal.
But she was so completely helpless that instinct forced her to remain
motionless and quiescent, and not to engage in a fight against
overwhelming odds. In mid-Channel, surrounded by miscreants who had
her in their power, she could obviously do nothing except safeguard
what dignity she could by silence and seeming acquiescence.


She was taken ashore in the early dawn, at a spot not very far from
Boulogne. Precautions were no longer taken against her possible calls
for help; even the cords had been removed from her wrists and ankles
as soon as she was lowered into the boat that brought her to shore.
Cramped and stiff though she was, she disdained the help of an arm
which was held out to her to enable her to step out of the boat.

All the faces around her were unfamiliar. There were four or five men,
surly and silent, who piloted her over the rocks and cliffs and then
along the sands, to the little hamlet of Wimereux, which she knew
well. The coast at this hour was still deserted; only at one time did
the little party meet with a group of buxom young women, trudging
along barefooted with their shrimping nets over their shoulders. They
stared wide-eyed but otherwise indifferent, at the unfortunate woman
in torn, damp clothes, and with golden hair all dishevelled, who was
bravely striving not to fall whilst urged on by five rough fellows in
ragged jerseys, tattered breeches, and bare-kneed.

Just for one moment--a mere flash--Marguerite at sight of these girls
had the wild notion to run to them, implore their assistance in the
name of their sweethearts, their husbands, their songs; to throw
herself at their feet and beg them to help her, seeing that they were
women and could not be without heart or pity. But it was a mere flash,
the wild vagary of an over-excited brain, the drifting straw that
mocks the drowning man. The next moment the girls had gone by,
laughing and chattering. One of them intoned the "Ca ira!" and
Marguerite, fortunately for her own dignity, was not seriously tempted
to essay so futile, so senseless an appeal.

Later on, in a squalid little hovel on the outskirts of Wimereux, she
was at last given some food which, though of the poorest and roughest
description, was nevertheless welcome, for it revived her spirit and
strengthened her courage, of which she had sore need.

The rest of the journey was uneventful. Within the first hour of
making a fresh start, she had realized that she was being taken to
Paris. A few words dropped casually by the men who had charge of her
apprised her of the fact. Otherwise they were very reticent--not
altogether rough or unkind.

The coach in which she travelled during this stage of the journey was
roomy and not uncomfortable, although the cushions were ragged and the
leatherwork mildewed. Above all, she had the supreme comfort of
privacy. She was alone in the coach, alone during the halts at way-
side hostelries when she was allowed food and rest, alone throughout
those two interminable nights when, with brief intervals whilst relays
of horses were put into the shafts or the men took it in turns to get
food or drunk in some house unseen in the darkness, she vainly tried
to get a snatch or two of sleep and a few moments of forgetfulness;
alone throughout that next long day, whilst frequent summer showers
sent heavy raindrops beating against the window-panes of the coach,
and familiar landmarks on the way to Paris flitted like threatening
ghouls past her aching eyes.

Paris was reached at dawn of the third day. Seventy-two hours had
crept along leaden-footed, since the moment when she hat stepped into
her own coach outside her beautiful home in Richmond, surrounded by
her own servants, and with that traitor Moncrif by her side. Since
then, what a load of sorrow, of anxiety, seemed as nothing beside the
heartrending thoughts of her beloved, as yet ignorant of her terrible
fate and of the schemes which those fiends who had so shamefully
trapped her were even now concocting for the realization of their
vengeance against him.




The house to which Marguerite was ultimately driven, and where she
presently found herself ushered up the stairs into a small, well-
furnished apartment, appeared to be situated somewhere in an outlying
quarter of Pairs.

The apartment consisted of three rooms--a bedroom, a sitting-room, and
small cabinet de toilette--all plainly but nicely furnished. The bed
looked clean and comfortable, there was a carpet on the floor, one or
two pictures on the wall, an arm-chair or two, even a few books in an
armoire. An old woman, dour of mien but otherwise willing and
attentive, did all she could to minister to the poor wearied woman's
wants. She brought up some warm milk and home-baked bread. Butter, she
explained, was not obtainable these day, and the household had not
seen sugar for weeks.

Marguerite, tired out and hungry, readily ate some breakfast; but what
she longed for most and needed most was rest. So presently, at the
gruff invitation of the old woman, she undressed and stretched her
weary limbs between the sheets, with a sigh of content. Anxiety, for
the moment, had to yield to the sense of well-being, and with the name
of her beloved on her lips Marguerite went to sleep like a child.

When she woke, it was late afternoon. On a chair close by her bedside
was some clean linen laid out, a change of stockings, clean shoes, and
a gown--a perfect luxury, which made this silent and lonely house
appear more like the enchanted abode of ogres or fairies than before.
Marguerite rose and dressed. The linen was fine, obviously the
property of a woman of refinement, whilst everything in the tiny
dressing-room--a comb, hand-mirror, soap, and scented water--suggested
that the delicate hand of a cultured woman had seen to their disposal.
A while later, the dour attendant brought her some soup and a dish of
cooked vegetables.

Every phase of the situation became more and more puzzling as time
went one. Marguerite, with the sense of well-being further accentuated
by the feel of warm, dry clothes and of wholesome food, had her mind
free enough to think and to ponder. She had thrown open the window,
and peeping out, noted that it obviously gave on the back of the house
and that the view consisted of rough, uncultivated land, broken up
here and there by workshops, warehouses, and timber-yards. Marguerite
also noted that she was gazing out in the direction of the north-west,
that the apartment wherein she found herself was on the top floor of a
detached house which, judging by certain landmarks vaguely familiar,
was situated somewhere outside the barrier of St. Antoine, and not
very far from the Bastille and from the Arsenal.

Again she pondered. Where was she? Why was she being treated with a
kindness and consideration altogether at variance with the tactics
usually adopted by the enemies of the Scarlet Pimpernel? She was not
in prison. She was not being starved, or threatened, or humiliated.
The day wore on, and she was not confronted with one or other of those
fiends who were so obviously using her as a decoy for her husband.

But though Marguerite Blakeney was not in prison, she was a prisoner.
This she had ascertained five minutes after she was alone in the
apartment. She could wander at will from room to room; but only in
them, not out of them. The door of communication between the rooms was
wide open; those that obviously gave on a landing outside were
securely locked; and when a while ago the old woman had entered with
the tray of food, Marguerite had caught sight of a group of men in the
well-known tattered uniform of the National Guard, standing at
attention in a wide, long antechamber.

Yes; she was a prisoner! She could open the windows of her apartment
and inhale the soft moist air which came across the wide tract of a
barren land; but these windows were thirty feet above the ground, and
there was no projection in the outside wall of the house anywhere near
that would afford a foothold to anything human.

Thus for twenty-four hours she was left to meditate, thrown upon her
own resources, with no other company save that of her own thoughts,
and they were anything but cheerful. The uncertainty of the situation
soon began to prey upon her nerves. She had been calm in the morning;
but as the day wore on the loneliness, the mystery, the silence, began
to tell upon her courage. Soon she got to look upon the woman who
waited on her as upon her jailer, and when she was alone she was for
ever straining her ears to hear what the men who were guarding her
door might be saying among themselves.

The next night she hardly slept.


Twenty-four hours later she had a visiting from citizen Chauvelin.

She had been expecting that visit all along, or else a message from
him. When he came she had need of all her pluck and all her
determination, not to let him see the emotion which his presence
caused her. Dread! Loathing! These were her predominant sensations.
But dread above all; because he was dressed with scrupulous care and
affected the manners and graces of a society which had long since cast
him out. It was not the rough, out-at-elbows Terrorist who stood
before her, the revolutionary demagogue who hits out right and left
against a caste that has always spurned him and held itself aloof; it
was the broken-down gentleman at war with fortune, who strives by his
wits to be revenged against the buffetings of Fate and the arrogance
which ostracized him as soon as he was down.

He began by asking solicitously after her well-being; hoped the
journey had not over-fatigued her; humbly begged her pardon for the
discomfort which a higher power compelled him to put upon her. He
talked platitudes in an even, unctuous voice until Marguerite,
exasperated, and her nerves on edge, curtly bade him to come to the

"I have come to the point, dear lady," he retorted suavely. "The point
is that you should be comfortable and have no cause to complain whilst
you are under this roof."

"And how long am I to remain a prisoner under it?" she asked.

"Until Sir Percy has in his turn honoured this house with his
presence," he replied.

To this she made no answer for a time, but sat quite still looking at
him, as if detached and indifferent. He waited for her to speak, his
pale eyes, slightly mocking, fixed upon her. Then she said simply:

"I understand."

"I was quite sure you would, dear lady," he rejoined blandly. "You
see, the phase of heroics is past. I will confess to you that it
proved of no avail when measured against the lofty coolness of that
peerless exquisite. So we over here have shed our ardour like a
mantle. We, too, now are quite calm, quite unperturbed, quite content
to wait. The beautiful Lady Blakeney is a guest under this roof. Well,
sooner or later that most gallant of husbands will desire to approach
his lady. Sooner or later he will learn that she is no longer in
England. Then he will set his incomparable wits to work to find out
where she is. Again, I may say that sooner or later, perhaps, even
aided by us, he will know that she is here. Then he will come. Am I
not right?"

Of course he was right. Sooner or later Percy would learn where she
was; and then he would come. He would come to her, despite every trap
set for his undoing, despite every net laid to catch him, despite
danger of death that waited for him if he came.

Chauvelin said little more. In truth, the era of heroics was at an
end. At an end those ominous "either--ors" that he was wont to mete
out with a voice quavering with rage and lust of revenge. Now there
was no alternative, no deep-laid plot save one: to wait for the
Scarlet Pimpernel until he came.

In the meanwhile she, Marguerite, must remain helpless and a prisoner;
she must eat and drink and sleep. She, the decoy!--who would never
know when the crushing blow would fall that would mean a hundred
deaths to her if it involved that of the husband whom she worshipped.

After a while, Chauvelin went away. In fact, she never knew actually
when he did go. A while ago he had sat there on that upright chair,
quiet, well groomed, suave of speech and bland of manner.

"Then he will come," he had said quite urbanely. "Am I not right?"

When Marguerite closed her eyes she could still see him, his mocking
gaze fixed upon her, his thin, white hands folded complacently before
him. And presently, as the day wore on and the shades of evening
blurred one object in the room after another, the straight-backed
chair, still left in its place, assumed a fantastic human shape--the
shape of a meagre figure with narrow shoulders and thin, carefully be-
stockinged legs. And all the faint noises around her--the occasional
creaking of the furniture, the movements of the men outside her door,
the soughing of the evening breeze in the foliage of the elm trees--
all were merged into a thin, bland human voice, that went on repeating
in a kind of thin, dreary monotone:

"Then he will come. Am I not right?"


Mice and Men


It was on her return from England that Theresia Cabarrus took to
consulting the old witch in the Rue de la Planchette, driven thereto
by ambition, and also no doubt by remorse. There was nothing of the
hardened criminal about the fair Spaniard; she was just a spoilt woman
who had been mocked and thwarted, and desired to be revenged. The
Scarlet Pimpernel had appeared before her as one utterly impervious to
her charms, and, egged on by Chauvelin, who used her for his own ends,
she entered into a callous conspiracy, the aim of which was the
destruction of that gang of English spies who were the enemies of
France, and the first stage of which was the heartless abduction of
Lady Blakeney and her incarceration as a decoy for the ultimate
capture of her own husband.

A cruel, abominable act! Theresia, who had plunged headlong into this
shameful crime, would a few days later have given much to undo the
harm she had wrought. But she had yet to learn that, once used as a
tool by the Committee of Public Safety and by Chauvelin, its most
unscrupulous agent, no man or woman could hope to become free again
until the work demanded had been accomplished to the end. There was no
freedom from that taskmaster save in death; and Theresia's fit of
compunction did not carry her to the lengths of self-sacrifice.
Marguerite Blakeney was her prisoner, the decoy which would bring the
English milor inevitably to the spot where his wife was incarcerated;
and Theresia, who had helped to bring this state of things about, did
her best to smother remorse, and having done Chauvelin's dirty work
for him she set to to see what personal advantage she could derive
from it.

Firstly, the satisfaction of her petty revenge: the Scarlet Pimpernel
caught in a trap, would surely regret his interference in Theresia's
love affairs. Theresia cared less than nothing about Bertrand Moncrif,
and would have been quite grateful to the English milor for having
spirited that embarrassing lover of hers away but for that letter
which had wounded the beautiful Spaniard's vanity to the quick, and
still rankled sufficiently to ease her conscience on the score of her
subsequent actions. That the letter was a bogus one, concocted and
written by Chauvelin himself in order to spur her on to a mean
revenge, Theresia did not know.

But far stronger than thoughts of revenge where Theresia's schemes for
her own future. She had begun to dream of Robespierre's gratitude, of
her triumph over all those who had striven for over two years to bring
that gang of English spies to book. She saw her name writ largely on
the roll of fame; she even saw in her mind, the tyrant himself as her
willing slave... and something more than that.

For her tool Bertrand she had no further use. By way of a reward for
the abominable abduction of Lady Blakeney, he had been allowed to
follow the woman he worshipped like a lackey attached to her train.
Dejected, already spurned, he returned to Paris with her, here to
resume the life of humiliation and of despised ardour which had broken
his spirit and warped his nature, before his gallant rescuer had
snatched him out of the toils of the beautiful Spaniard.

Within an hour of setting his foot on French soil, Bertrand had
realized that he had been nothing in Theresia's sight but a lump of
malleable wax, which she had moulded to her own design and now threw
aside as cumbersome and useless. He had realized that her ambition
soared far above linking her fate to an obscure and penniless lover,
when the coming man of the hour--citizen Tallien--was already at her


Thus Theresia had attained one of her great desires: the Scarlet
Pimpernel was as good as captured, and when he finally succumbed he
could not fail to know whence came the blow that struck him.

With regard to her future, matters were more doubtful. She had not yet
subjugated Robespierre sufficiently to cause him to give up his more
humble love and to lay down his power and popularity at her feet;
whilst the man who had offered her his hand and name--citizen
Tallien--was for ever putting a check upon her ambition and his own
advancement by his pusillanimity and lack of enterprise.

Whilst she was aching to push him into decisive action, into seizing
the supreme power before Robespierre and his friends had irrevocably
established theirs, Tallien was for temporizing, fear that in trying
to snatch a dictatorship he and his beloved with him would lose their

"While Robespierre lives," Theresia would argue passionately, "no
man's head is safe. Every rival, sooner or later, becomes a victim.
St. Just and Couthon aim at a dictatorship for him. Sooner or later
they will succeed; then death to every man who has ever dared oppose

"Therefore 'tis wiser not to oppose," the prudent Tallien would
retort. "The time will come-"

"Never!" she riposted hotly. "While you plot, and argue and ponder,
Robespierre acts or signs your death-warrant."

"Robespierre is the idol of the people; he sways the Convention with a
word. His eloquence would drag an army of enemies to the guillotine!"

"Robespierre!" Theresia retorted with sublime contempt. "Ah, when you
have said that, you think you have said everything! France, humanity,
the people, sovereign power!--all that, you assert, is embodied in
that one man. But, my friend, listen to me!" she went on earnestly.
"Listen, when I assert that Robespierre is only a name, a fetish, a
manikin set up on a pedestal! By whom? By you, and the Convention; by
the Clubs and the Committees. And the pedestal is composed of that
elusive entity which you call the people and which will disintegrate
from beneath his feet as soon as the people have realized that those
feet are less than clay. One touch of a firm finger against that
manikin, I tell you, and he will fall as dust before you; and you can
rise upon that same elusive pedestal--popularity, to the heights which
he hath so easily attained."

But, though Tallien was at times carried away by her vehemence, he
would always shake his head and counsel prudence, and assure her that
the time was not yet. Theresia, impatient and dictatorial, had more
than once hinted at rupture.

"I could not love a weakling," she would aver; and at the back of her
mind there would rise schemes, which aimed at transferring her favours
to the other man, who she felt would be more worthy of her.

"Robespierre would not fail me, as this coward does!" she mused, even
while Tallien, blind and obedient, was bidding her farewell at the
very door of the charlatan to whom Theresia had turned in her ambition
and her difficulties.


Something of the glamour which had originally surrounded Mother
Thot's incantations had vanished since sixty-two of her devotees had
been sent to the guillotine on charge of conspiring for the overthrow
of the Republic. Robespierre's enemies, too cowardly to attack him in
the Convention or in the Clubs, had seized upon the mystery which hung
over the sances in the Rue de la Planchette in order to undermine his
popularity in the one and his power in the other.

Spies were introduced into the witch's lair. The names of its chief
frequenters became known, and soon wholesale arrests were made, which
were followed by the inevitable condemnations. Robespierre had not
actually been named; but the identity of the sycophants who had
proclaimed him the Messenger of the Most High, the Morning Star, or
the Regenerator of Mankind, were hurled across from the tribune of the
Convention, like poisoned arrows aimed at the tyrant himself.

But Robespierre had been too wary to allow himself to be dragged into
the affair. His enemies tried to goad him into defending his
worshippers, thus admitting his association with the gang; but he
remained prudently silent, and with callous ruthlessness he sacrificed
them to his own safety. He never raised his voice nor yet one finger
to save them from death, and whilst he--bloodthirsty autocrat--remain
firmly installed upon his self-constituted throne, those who had
acclaimed him as second only to God, perished upon the scaffold.

Mother Thot, for some inexplicable reason, escaped this wholesale
slaughter; but her sances were henceforth shorn of their slendour.
Robespierre no longer dared frequent them even in disguise. The house
in the Rue de la Planchette became a marked one to the agents of the
Committee of Public Safety, and the witch herself was reduced to
innumerable shifts to eke out a precarious livelihood and to keep
herself in the good graces of those agents, by rendering them various
unavowable services.

To those, however, who chose to defy public opinion and to disregard
the dangers which attended the frequentation of Mother Thot's
sorceries, these latter had lost little or nothing of their pristine
solemnity. There was the closely curtained room; the scented, heavy
atmosphere; the chants, the coloured flames, the ghost-like neophytes.
Draped in her grey veils, the old witch still wove her spells and
called on the powers of light and of darkness to aid her in fortelling
the future. The neophytes chanted and twisted their bodies in quaint
contortions; alone, the small blackamoor grinned at what experience
had taught him was nothing by quackery and charlatanism.

Theresia, sitting on the dias, with the heady fumes of Oriental scents
blurring her sight and the clearness of her intellect, was drinking in
the honeyed words and flattering prophecies of the old witch.

"Thy name will be the greatest in the land! Before thee will bow the
mightiest thrones! At thy word deads will fall and diedems will
totter!" Mother Thot announced in sepulchral tones, whilst gazing
into the crystal before her.

"As the wife of citizen Tallien?" Theresia queried in an awed whisper.

"That the spirits do not say," the old witch replied. "What is a name
to them? I see a crown of glory, and thy head surrounded by a golden
light; and at thy feet lies something which once was scarlet, and now
is crimson and crushed."

"What does it mean?" Theresia murmured.

"That is for thee to know," the sybil replied sternly. "Commune with
the spirits; lose thyself in their embrace; learn from them the great
truths, and the future will be made clear to thee."

With which cryptic utterance she gathered her veils around her, and
with weird murmurs of, "Evohe! Evohe! Sammael! Zamiel! Evohe!" glided
out of the room, mysterious and inscrutable, presumably in order to
allow her bewildered client to meditate on the enigmatical prophecy in

But directly she had closed the door behind her, Mother Thot's manner
underwent a chance. Here the broad light of day appeared to diverst
her of all her sybilline attributes. She became just an ugly old
woman, wrinkled and hook-nosed, dressed in shabby draperies that were
grey with age and dirt, and with claw-like hands that looked like the
talons of a bird of prey.

As she entered the room, a man who had been standing at the window
opposite, staring out into the dismal street below, turned quickly to

"Art satisfied?" she asked at once.

"From what I could hear, yes!" he replied, "though I could have wished
thy pronouncements had been more clear."

The hag shrugged her lean shoulders and nodded in the direction of her

"Oh!" she said. "The Spaniard understands well enough. She never
consults me or invokes the spirits but they speak to her of that which
is scarlet. She knows what it means. You need not fear, citizen
Chauvelin, that in the pursuit of her vaulting ambition, she will
forget that her primary duty is to you!"

"No," Chauvelin asserted calmly, "she'll not forget that. The Cabarrus
is no fool. She knows well enough that when citizens of the State have
been employed to work on its behalf, they are no longer free agents
afterwards. The work must be carried through to the end."

"You need not fear the Cabarrus, citizen," the sybil rejoined dryly.
"She'll not fail you. Her vanity is immense. She believes that the
Englishman insulted her by writing that flippant letter, and she'll
not leave him alone till she has had her revenge."

"No!" Chauvelin assented. "She'll not fail me. Nor thou either,

The old hag shrugged her shoulders.

"I?" she exclaimed, with a quiet laugh. "Is that likely? You promised
me ten thousand livres the day the Scarlet Pimpernel is captured!"

"And the guillotine," Chauvelin broke in grimly, "if thou shouldst
allow the woman upstairs to escape."

"I know that," the old woman rejoined dryly. "If she escapes 'twill
not be through my connivance."

"In the service of the State," Chauvelin riposted, "even carelessness
becomes a crime."

Catherine Thot was silent for a moment or two, pressed her thin lips
together; then rejoined quite quietly:

"She'll not escape. Have no fear, citizen Chauvelin."

"That's brave! And now, tell me what has become of the coalheaver

"Oh, he comes and goes. You told me to encourage him."


"So I give him potions for his cough. He has one foot in the grave."

"Would he had both!" Chauvelin broke in savagely. "That man is a
perpetual menace to my plans. It would have been so much better if we
could have sent him last April to the guillotine."

"It was in your hands," Mother Thot retorted. "The Committee reported
against him. His measure was full enough. Aiding that execrable
Scarlet Pimpernel to escape...! Name of a name! it should have been

"It was not proved that he did aid the English spies," Chauvelin
retorted moodily. "And Foucquier-Tinville would not arraign him. He
vowed it would anger the people--the rabble--of which Rateau himself
forms an integral part. We cannot afford to anger the rabble these
days, it seems."

"And so Rateau, the asthmatic coalheaver, walked out of prison a free
man, whilst my neophytes were dragged up to the guillotine, and I was
left without means of earning an honest livelihood!" Mother Thot
concluded with a doleful sigh.

"Honest?" Chauvelin exclaimed, with a sarcastic chuckle. Then, seeing
that the old witch was ready to lose her temper, he quickly added:
"Tell me more about Rateau. Does he often come here?"

"Yes; very often. He must be in my anteroom now. He came directly he
was let out of prison, and has haunted this place ever since. He
thinks I can cure him of his asthma, and as he pays me well-"

"Pays you well?" Chauvelin broke in quickly. "That starveling?"

"Rateau is no starveling," the old woman asserted. "Many an English
gold piece hath he given me."

"But not of late?"

"No later than yesterday."

Chauvelin swore viciously.

"Then he is still in touch with that cursed Englishman!"

Mother Thot shrugged her shoulders.

"Does one ever know which is the Englishman and which is the asthmatic
Rateau?" she queried, with a dry laugh.

Whereupon a strange thing happened--so strange indeed that Chauvelin's
next words turned to savage curses, and that Mother Thot, which to
the lips, her knees shaking under her, tiny beads of perspiration
rising beneath her scanty locks, had to hold on to the table to save
herself from falling.

"Name of a name of a dog!" Chauvelin muttered hoarsely, whilst the old
woman, shaken but that superstitious dread which she liked to arouse
in her clients, could only stare at him and mutely shake her head.

And yet nothing very alarming had occurred. Only a man had laughed,
light-heartedly and long; and the sound of that laughter had come from
somewhere near--the next room probably, or the landing beyond Mother
Thot's anteroom. It had come low and distinct, slightly muffled by
the intervening wall. Nothing in truth to frighten the most nervous

A man had laughed. One of Mother Thot's clients probably, who in the
company of a friend chose to wile away the weary hour of waiting on
the sybil by hilarious conversation. Of course, that was it!
Chauvelin, cursing himself now for his cowardice, passed a still
shaking hand across his brow, and a wry smile distorted momentarily
his thin, set lips.

"One of your clients is of good cheer," he said with well-assumed

"There is no one in the anteroom at this hour," the old hag murmured
under her breath. "Only Rateau... and he is too scant of breath to
laugh... he..."

But Chauvelin no longer heard what she had to say. With an exclamation
which no one who heard it could have defined, he turned on his heel
and almost ran out of the room.


By Order of the State


The antechamber, wide and long, ran the whole length of Mother Thot's
apartment. Her witch's lair and the room where she had just had her
interview with Chauvelin gave directly on it on the one side, and two
other living rooms on the other. At one end of the antechamber there
were two windows, usually kept closely shuttered; and at the other was
the main entrance door, which led to landing and staircase.

The antechamber was empty. It appeared to mock Chauvelin's excitement,
with its grey-washed walls streaked with grime, its worm-eaten benches
and tarnished chandelier. Mother Thot, voluble and quaking with fear,
was close at his heels. Curtly he ordered her to be gone; her
mutterings irritated him, her obvious fear of something unknown grated
unpleasantly on his nerves. He cursed himself for his cowardice, and
cursed the one man who alone in this world had the power to unnerve

"I was dreaming, of course," he muttered aloud to himself between his
teeth. "I have that arch-devil, his laugh, his voice, his
affectations, on the brain!"

He was on the point of going to the main door, in order to peer out on
the landing or down the stairs, when he heard his name called
immediately behind him. Theresia Cabarrus was standing under the
lintel of the door which gave on the sybil's sanctum, her delicate
hand holding back the portire.

"Citizen Chauvelin," she said, "I was waiting for you."

"And I, citoyenne," he retorted gruffly, "had in truth forgotten you."

"Mother Thot left me alone for a while, to commune with the spirits,"
she explained.

"Ah!" he riposted, slightly sarcastic. "With what result?"

"To help you further, citizen Chauvelin," she replied; "if you have
need of me."

"Ah!" he exclaimed with a savage curse. "In truth, I have need of
every willing hand that will raise itself against mine enemy. I have
need of you, citizeness; of that old witch; of Rateau, the coalheaver;
of every patriot who will sit and watch this house, to which we have
brought the one bait that will lure the goldfish to our net."

"Have I not proved my willingness, citizen?" she retorted, with a
smile. "Think you 'tis pleasant to give up my life, my salon, my easy,
contented existence, and become a mere drudge in your service?"

"A drudge," he broke in with a chuckle, "who will soon be greater than
a Queen."

"Ah, if I thought that!..." she exclaimed.

"I am as sure of it as that I am alive," he replied firmly. "You will
never do anything with citizen Tallien, citoyenne. He is too mean, too
cowardly. But bring the Scarlet Pimpernel to his knees at the chariot
wheel of Robespierre, and even the crown of the Bourbons would be
yours for the asking."

"I know that, citizen," she rejoined dryly; "else I were not here."

"We hold all the winning cards," he went on eagerly. "Lady Blakeney is
in our hands. So long as we hold her, we have the certainty that
sooner or later the English spy will establish communication with her.
Catherine Thot is a good jailer, and Captain Boyer upstairs has a
number of men under his command--veritable sleuthhounds, whose
efficiency I can guarantee and whose eagerness is stimulated by the
promise of a magnificent reward. But experience has taught me that
that accursed Scarlet Pimpernel is never so dangerous as when we think
we hold him. His extraordinary histrionic powers have been our undoing
hitherto. No man's eyes are keen enough to pierce his disguises. That
is why, citoyenne, I dragged you to England; that is why I placed you
face to face with him, and said to you, 'That is the man.' Since then,
with your help, we hold the decoy. Now you are my coadjutor and my
help. In your eyes I place my trust; in your wits, your instinct. In
whatever guise the Scarlet Pimpernel presents himself before you--and
he will present himself before you, or he is no longer the impudent
and reckless adventurer I know him to be!--I feel that you at least
will recognize him."

"Yes; I think I should recognize him," she mused.

"Think you that I do not appreciate the sacrifice you make--the
anxiety, the watchfulness to which you so nobly subject yourself? But
'tis you above all who are the lure which must inevitably attract the
Scarlet Pimpernel into my hands."

"Soon, I hope," she sighed wearily.

"Soon," he asserted firmly. "I dare swear it! Until then, citizeness,
in the name of your own future, and in the name of France, I adjure
you to watch. Watch and listen! Oh, think of the stakes for which we
are playing, you and I! Bring the Scarlet Pimpernel to his knees,
citoyenne, and Robespierre will be as much your slave as he is now the
prey to a strange dread of that one man. Robespierre fears the Scarlet
Pimpernel. A superstitious conviction had seized hold of him that the
English spy will bring about his downfall. We have all seen of late
how aloof he holds himself. He no longer attends the Committees. He no
longer goes to the Clubs; he shuns his friends; and his furtive glance
is for ever trying to pierce some imaginary disguise, under which he
alternately fears and hopes to discover his arch-enemy. He dreads
assassination, anonymous attacks. In every obscure member of the
Convention who walks up the steps of the tribune, he fears to find the
Scarlet Pimpernel under a new, impenetrable mask. Ah, citoyenne! what
influence you would have over him if through your agency all those
fears could be drowned in the blood of that abominable Englishman!"

"Now, who would have thought that?" a mocking voice broke in suddenly,
with a quiet chuckle. "I vow, my dear M. Chambertin, you are waxing
more eloquent than ever before!"

Like the laughter of a while ago, the voice seemed to come from
nowhere. It was in the air, muffled by the clouds of Mother Thot's
perfumes, or by the thickness of doors and tapestries. Weird, yet

"By Satan, this is intolerable!" Chauvelin exclaimed; and paying no
heed to Theresia's faint cry of terror, he ran to the main door. It
was on the latch. He tore it open and dashed out upon the landing.


From here a narrow stone staircase, dank and sombre, led downwards as
well as upwards, in a spiral. The house had only the two stories,
perched above some disused and dilapidated storage-rooms, to which a
double outside door and wicket gave access from the street.

The staircase received its only light from a small window high up in
the roof, the panes of which were coated with grime, so that the well
of the stairs, especially past the first-floor landing, was almost in
complete gloom. For an instant Chauvelin hesitated. Never a coward
physically, he yet had no mind to precipitate himself down a dark
staircase when mayhap his enemy was lying in wait for him down below.

Only for an instant however. The very next second had brought forth
the positive reflection: "bah! Assassination, and in the dark, are not
the Englishman's ways."

Scarce a few yards from where he stood, the other side of the door,
was the dry moat which ran round the Arsenal. From there, at a call
from him, a dozen men and more would surge from the ground--
sleuthhounds, as he had told Theresia a moment ago, who were there on
the watch and whom he could trust to do his work swiftly and
securely--if only he could reach the door and call for help. Elusive
as that accursed Pimpernel was, successful chase might even now be
given to him.

Chauvelin ran down half a dozen steps, peered down the shaft of the
staircase, and spied a tiny light, which moved swiftly to and fro.
Then presently, below the light a bit of tallow candle, then a grimy
hand holding the candle, an arm, the top of a shaggy head crowned by a
greasy red cap, a broad back under a tattered blue jersey. He heard
the thump of heavy soles upon the stone flooring below, and a moment
or two later the weird, sepulchral sound of a churchyard cough. Then
the light disappeared. For a second or two the darkness appeared more
impenetrably dense; then one or two narrow streaks of daylight showed
the position of the outside door. Something prompted him to call:

"Is that you, citizen Rateau?"

It was foolish, of course. And the very next moment he had his answer.
A voice--the mocking voice he knew so well--called up to him in reply:

"At your service, dear M. Chambertin! Can I do anything for you?"

Chauvelin swore, threw all prudence to the winds, and ran down the
stairs as fast as his shaking knees would allow him. Some three steps
from the bottom he paused for the space of a second, like one turned
to stone by what he saw. Yet it was simple enough: just the same tiny
light, the grimy hand holding the tallow candle, the shaggy head with
the greasy red cap.... The figure in the gloom looked preternaturally
large, and the flickering light threw fantastic shadows on the face
and neck of the colossus, distorting the nose to a grotesque length
and the chin to weird proportions.

The next instant Chauvelin gave a cry like an enraged bull and hurled
his meagre person upon the giant, who, shaken at the moment by a
tearing fit of coughing, was taken unawares and fell backwards,
overborne by the impact, dropping the light as he fell and still
wheezing pitiably whilst trying to give vent to his feelings by
vigorous curses.

Chauvelin, vaguely surprised at his own strength or the weakness of
his opponent, pressed his knee against the latter's chest, gripped him
by the throat, smothering his curses and wheezes, turning the funeral
cough into agonized gasps.

"At my service, in truth, my gallant Pimpernel!" he murmured hoarsely,
feeling his small reserve of strength oozing away by the strenuous
effort. "What you can do for me? Wait here, until I have you bound and
gagged, safe against further mischief!"

His victim had in fact given a last convulsive gasp, lay now at full
length upon the stone floor, with arms outstretched, motionless.
Chauvelin relaxed his grip. His strength was spent, he was bathed in
sweat, his body shook from head to foot. But he was triumphant! His
mocking enemy, carried away by his own histrionics, had overtaxed his
colossal strength. The carefully simulated fit of coughing had taken
away his breath at the critical moment; the surprise attack had done
the rest; and Chauvelin--meagre, feeble, usually the merest human
insect beside the powerful Englishman--had conquered by sheer pluck
and resource.

There lay the Scarlet Pimpernel, who had assumed the guise of
asthmatic Rateau once too often, helpless and broken beneath the
weight of the man whom he had hoodwinked and derided. And now at last
all the intrigues, the humiliations, the schemes and the
disappointments, were at an end. He--Chauvelin--free and honoured:
Robespierre his grateful servant.

A wave of dizziness passed over his brain--the dizziness of coming
glory. His senses reeled. When he staggered to his feet he could
scarcely stand. The darkness was thick around him; only two streaks of
daylight at right angles to one another came through the chinks of the
outside door and vaguely illumined the interior of the dilapidated
store-room, the last step or two of the winding stairway, the row of
empty barrels on one side, the pile of rubbish on the other, and on
the stone floor the huge figure in grimy and tattered rags, lying
prone and motionless. Guided by those streaks of light, Chauvelin
lurched up to the door, fumbled for the latch of the wicket-gate, and
finding it pulled the gate open and almost fell out into the open.


The Rue de la Planchette was as usual lonely and deserted. It was a
second or two before Chauvelin spied a passer-by. That minute he spent
in calling for help with all his might. The passer-by he quickly
dispatched across to the Arsenal for assistance.

"In the name of the Republic!" he said solemnly.

But already his cries had attracted the attention of the sentries.
Within two or three minutes, half a dozen men of the National Guard
were speeding down the street. Soon they had reached the house, the
door where Chauvelin, still breathless but with his habitual official
manner that brooked of no argument, gave them hasty instructions.

"The man lying on the ground in there," he commanded. "Seize him and
raise him. Then one of you find some cord and bind him securely."

The men flung the double doors wide open. A flood of light illumined
the store-room. There lay the huge figure on the floor, no longer
motionless, but trying to scramble to his feet, once more torn by a
fit of coughing. The man ran up to him; one of them laughed.

"Why, if it isn't old Rateau!"

They lifted him up by his arms. He was helpless as a child, and his
face was of a dull purple colour.

"He will die!" another man said, with an indifferent shrug of the

But, in a way, they were sorry for him. He was one of themselves.
Nothing of the aristo about asthmatic old Rateau!

They had succeeded in propping him up and sitting him down upon a
barrel. His fit of coughing was subsiding. He had breath enough now to
swear. He raised his head and encountered the pale eyes of citizen
Chauvelin fixed as if sightlessly upon him.

"Name of a dog!" he began; but got no farther. Giddiness seized him,
for he was weak from coughing and from that strangling grip round his
throat, after he had been attacked in the darkness and thrown
violently to the ground.

The men around him recoiled at sight of citizen Chauvelin. His
appearance was almost death-like. His cheeks and lips were livid; his
hair dishevelled; his eyes of an unearthly paleness. One hand,
clawlike and shaking, he held out before him, as if to ward off some
horrible apparition.

This trance-like state made up of a ghastly fear and a sense of the
most hideous, most unearthly impotence, lasted for several seconds.
The men themselves were frightened. Unable to understand what had
happened, they thought that citizen Chauvelin, whom they all knew by
sight, had suddenly lost his reason or was possessed of a devil. For
in truth there was nothing about poor old Rateau to frighten a child!

Fortunately the tension was over before real panic had seized on any
of them. The next moment Chauvelin had pulled himself together with
one of those mighty efforts of will of which strong natures are always
capable. With an impatient gesture he passed his hand across his brow,
then backwards and forwards in front of his face, as if to chase away
the demon of terror that obsessed him. He gazed on Rateau for a moment
or two, his eyes travelling over the uncouth, semi-conscious figure of
the coalheaver with a searching, undefinable glance. Then, as if
suddenly struck with an idea, he spoke to the man nearest him:

"Sergeant Chazot? Is he at the Arsenal?"

"Yes, citizen," the man replied.

"Run across quickly then," Chauvelin continued; "and bring him hither
at once."

The soldier obeyed, and a few more minutes--ten, perhaps--went by in
silence. Rateau, weary, cursing, not altogether in full possession of
his faculties, sat huddled up on the barrel, his bleary eyes following
every movement of citizen Chauvelin with an anxious, furtive gaze. The
latter was pacing up and down the stone floor, like a caged, impatient
animal. From time to time he paused, either to peer out into the open
in the direction of the Arsenal, or to search the dark angles of the
store-room, kicking the piles of rubbish about with his foot.


Anon he uttered a sigh of satisfaction. The soldier had returned, was
even now in the doorway with a comrade--a short, thick-set, powerful-
looking fellow--beside him.

"Sergeant Chazot!" Chauvelin said abruptly.

"At your commands, citizen!" the sergeant replied, and at a sign from
the other followed him to the most distant corner of the room.

"Bend your ear and listen," Chauvelin murmured peremptorily. "I don't
want those fools to hear." And, having assured himself that he and
Chazot could speak without being overheard, he pointed to Rateau, then
went on rapidly: "You will take this lout over to the cavalry
barracks. See the veterinary. Tell him-"

He paused, as if unable to proceed. His lips were trembling, his face,
ashen-white, looked spectral in the gloom. Chazot, not understand,
waited patiently.

"That lout," Chauvelin resumed more steadily after a while, "is in
collusion with a gang of dangerous English spies. One Englishman
especially--tall, and a master of histrionics--uses this man as a kind
of double. Perhaps you heard...?"

Chazot nodded.

"I know, citizen," he said sagely. "The Fraternal Supper in the Rue
St. Honor. Comrades have told me that no one could tell who was
Rateau the coalheaver and who the English milor."

"Exactly!" Chauvelin rejoined dryly, quite firmly now. "Therefore, I
want to make sure. The veterinary, you understand? He brands the
horses for the cavalry. I want a brand on this lout's arm. Just a
letter... a distinguishing mark..."

Chazot gave an involuntary gasp.

"But, citizen-!" he exclaimed.

"Eh? What?" the other retorted sharply. "In the service of the
Republic there is no 'but,' Sergeant Chazot."

"I know that, citizen," Chazot, abashed, murmured humbly. "I only
meant... it seems so strange..."

"Stranger things than that occur every day in Paris, my friend,"
Chauvelin said dryly. "We brand horses that are the property of the
State; why not a man? Time may come," he added with a vicious snarl,
"when the Republic may demand that every local citizen carry--
indelibly branded in his flesh and by order of the State--the sign of
his own allegiance."

"'Tis not for me to argue, citizen," Chazot rejoined, with a careless
shrug of the shoulders. "If you tell me to take citizen Rateau over to
the veterinary at the cavalry barracks and have him branded like
cattle, why..."

"Not like cattle, citizen," Chauvelin broke in blandly. "You shall
commence proceedings by administering to citizen Rateau a whole bottle
of excellent eau de vie, at the Government's expense. Then, when he is
thoroughly and irretrievably drunk, the veterinary will put the brand
upon his left forearm... just on letter.... Why, the drunken reprobate
will never fell it!"

"As you command, citizen," Chazot assented with perfect indifference.
"I am not responsible. I do as I'm told."

"Like the fine soldier that you are, citizen Chazot!" Chauvelin
concluded. "And I know that I can trust to your discretion."

"Oh, as to that-!"

"It would not serve you to be otherwise; that's understood. So now, my
friend, get you gone with the lout; and take these few words of
instructions with you, for the citizen veterinary."

He took tablet and point from his pocket and scribbled a few words;
signed it "Chauvelin" with that elegant flourish which can be traced
to this day on so many secret orders that emanated from the Committee
of Public Safety during the two years of its existence.

Chazot took the written order and slipped it into his pocket. Then he
turned on his heel and briefly gave the necessary orders to the men.
Once more they hoisted the helpless giant up on his feet. Rateau was
willing enough to go. He was willing to do anything so long as they
took him away from here, away from the presence of that small devil
with the haggard face and the pale, piercing eyes. He allowed himself
to be conducted out of the building without a murmur.

Chauvelin watched the little party--the six men, the asthmatic
coalheaver and lastly the sergeant--file out of the place, then cross
the Rue de la Planchette and take the turning opposite, the one that
led through the Porte and the Rue St. Antoine to the cavalry barracks
in the Quartier Bastille. After which, he carefully closed the double
outside doors and, guided by instinct since the place down here was in
darkness once more, he groped his way to the foot of the stairs and
slowly mounted to the floor above.


He reached the first-floor landing. The door which led into Mother
Thot's apartments was on the latch, and Chauvelin had just stretched
out his hand with a view to pushing it open, when the door swung out
on its hinges, as if moved by an invisible hand, and a pleasant,
mocking voice immediately behind him said, with grave politeness:

"Allow me, my dear M. Chambertin!"


Four Days


What occurred during the next few seconds Chauvelin himself would have
been least able to say. Whether he stepped of his own accord into the
antechamber of Catherine Thot's apartment, or whether an unseen hand
pushed him in, he could not have told you. Certain it is that, when he
returned to the full realization of things, he was sitting on one of
the benches, his back against the wall, whilst immediately in front of
him, looking down on him through half-closed, lazy eyes, dbonnair,
well groomed, unperturbed, stood his arch-enemy, Sir Percy Blakeney.

The antechamber was gloomy in the extreme. Some one in the interval
had lighted the tallow candles in the centre chandelier, and these
shed a feeble, flickering light on the dank, bare walls, the
carpetless floor, the shuttered windows; whilst a thin spiral of evil-
smelling smoke wound its way to the blakened ceiling above.

Of Theresia Cabarrus there was not a sign. Chauvelin looked about him,
feeling like a goaded animal shut up in a narrow space with its
tormentor. He was making desperate efforts to regain his composure,
above all he made appeal to that courage which was wont never to
desert him. In truth, Chauvelin had never been a physical coward, nor
was he afraid of death or outrage at the hands of the man whom he had
so deeply wronged, and whom he had pursued with a veritable lust of
hate. No! he did not fear death at the hands of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
What he feared was ridicule, humiliation, those schemes--bold,
adventurous, seemingly impossible--which he knew were already seething
behind the smooth, unruffled brow of his arch-enemy, behind those
lazy, supercilious eyes, which had the power to irritate his nerves to
the verge of dementia.

This impudent adventurer--no better than a spy, despite his
aristocratic mien and air of lofty scorn--this meddlesome English
brigand, was the one man in the world who had, when he measured his
prowess against him, invariably brought him to ignominy and derision,
made him a laughing-stock before those whom he had been wont to
dominate; and at this moment, when once again he was being forced to
look into those strangely provoking eyes, he appraised their glance as
he would to sword of a proved adversary, and felt as he did so just
that same unaccountable dread of them which had so often paralysed his
limbs and atrophied his brain whenever mischance flung him into the
presence of his enemy.

He could not understand why Theresia Cabarrus had deserted him. Even a
woman, if she happened to be a friend, would by her presence have
afforded him moral support.

"You are looking for Mme de Fontenay, I believe, dear M. Chambertin,"
Sir Percy said lightly, as if divining his thoughts. "The ladies--ah,
the ladies! They add charm, piquancy, eh? to the driest conversations.
Alas!" he went on with mock affectation, "that Mme de Fontenay should
have fled at first sound of my voice! Now she hath sought refuge in
the old witch's lair, there to consult the spirits as to how best she
can get out again, seeing that the door is now locked.... Deemed
awkward, a locked door, when a pretty woman wants to be on the other
side. What think you, M. Chambertin?"

"I only think, Sir Percy," Chauvelin contrived to retort, calling all
his wits and all his courage to aid him in his humiliating position,
"I only think of another pretty woman, who is in the room just above
our heads and who would also be mightily glad to find herself the
other side of a locked door."

"Your thoughts," Sir Percy retorted with a light laugh, "are always so
ingenuous, my dear M. Chambertin. Strangely enough, mine just at this
moment run on the possibility--not a very unlikely one, you will
admit--of shaking the breath out of your ugly little body, as I would
that of a rat."

"Shake, my dear Sir Percy, shake!" Chauvelin riposted with well-
simulated calm. "I grant you that I am a puny rat and you are the most
magnificent of lions; but even if I lie mangled and breathless on this
stone floor at your feet, Lady Blakeney will still be a prisoner in
our hands."

"And you will still be wearing the worst-cut pair of breeches it has
ever been my bad fortune to behold," Sir Percy retorted, quite
unruffled. "Lud love you, man! Have you guillotined all the good
tailors in Paris?"

"You choose to be flippant, Sir Percy," Chauvelin rejoined dryly.
"But, though you have chosen for the past few years to play the rle
of a brainless nincompoop, I have cause to know that behind your
affectations there lurks an amount of sound common sense."

"Lud, how you flatter me, my dear sir!" quoth Sir Percy airily. "I vow
you had not so high an opinion of me last time I had the honour of
conversing with you. It was at Nantes; do you remember?"

"There, as elsewhere, you succeeded in circumventing me, Sir Percy."

"No, no!" he protested. "Not in circumventing you. Only in making you
look a demmed fool!"

"Call it that, if you like, sir," Chauvelin admitted, with an
indifferent shrug of the shoulders. "Luck has favoured you many a
time. As I had the honour to tell you, you have had the laugh of us in
the past, and no doubt you are under the impression that you will have
it again this time."

"I am such a believer in impressions, my dear sir. The impression now
that I have your charming personality is indelibly graven upon my

"Sir Percy Blakeney counts a good memory as one of his many
accomplishments. Another is his adventurous spirit, and the gallantry
which must inevitably bring him into the net which we have been at
pains to spread for him. Lady Blakeney-"

"Name her not, man!" Sir Percy broke in with affect deliberation; "or
I verily believe that within sixty seconds you would be a dead man!"

"I am not worthy to speak her name, c'est entendu," Chauvelin retorted
with mock humility. "Nevertheless, Sir Percy, it is around the person
of that gravious lady that the Fates will spin their web during the
next few days. You may kill me. Of course, I am at this moment
entirely at your mercy. But before you embark on such a perilous
undertaking, will you allow me to place the position a little more
clearly before you?"

"Lud, man!" quoth Sir Percy with a quaint laugh. "That's what I'm here
for! Think you that I have sought your agreeable company for the mere
pleasure of gazing at your amiable countenance?"

"I only desired to explain to you, Sir Percy, the dangers to which you
expose Lady Blakeney, if you laid violent hands upon me. 'Tis you,
remember, who sought this interview--not I."

"You are right, my dear sir, always right; and I'll not interrupt
again. I pray you to proceed."

"Allow me then to make my point clear. There are at this moment a
score of men of the National Guard in the room above your head. Every
one of them goes to the guillotine if they allow their prisoner to
escape; every one of them receives a reward of ten thousand livres the
day they capture the Scarlet Pimpernel. A good spur for vigilance,
what? But that is not all," Chauvelin went on quite steadily, seeing
that Sir Percy had apparently become thoughtful and absorbed. "The men
are under the command of Captain Boyer, and he understands that ever
day at a certain hour--seven in the evening, to be precise--I will be
with him and interrogate him as to the welfare of the prisoner. If--
mark me, Sir Percy!--if on any one day I do not appear before him at
that hour, his orders are to shoot the prisoner on sight...."

The word was scarce out of his mouth; it broke in a hoarse spasm. Sir
Percy had him by the throat, shook him indeed as he would a rat.

"You cur!" he said in an ominous whisper, his face quite close now to
that of his enemy, his jaw set, his eyes no longer good-humoured and
mildly scornful, but burning with the fire of a mighty, unbridled
wrath. "You damned--insolent--miserable cur! As there is a Heaven
above us-"

Then suddenly his grip relaxed, the whole face changed as if an unseen
hand has swept away the fierce lines of anger and hate. The eyes
softened beneath their heavy lids, the set lips broke into a mocking
smile. He let go his hold of the Terrorist's throat; and the
unfortunate man, panting and breathless, fell heavily against the
wall. He tried to steady himself as best he could, but his knees were
shaking, and faint and helpless, he finally collapses upon the nearest
bench, the while Sir Percy straightened out his tall figure, with
unruffled composure rubbed his slender hands one against the other, as
if to free them from dust, and said, with gentle, good-humoured

"Do put your cravat straight, man! You look a disgusting object!"

He dragged the corner of a bench forward, sat astride upon it, and
waited with perfect sang-froid, spy-glass in hand, while Chauvelin
mechanically readjusted the set of his clothes.

"That's better?" he said approvingly. "Just the bow at the back of
your neck... a little more to the right... now your cuffs.... Ah, you
look quite tidy again!... a perfect picture, I vow, my dear M.
Chambertin, of elegance and of a well-regulated mind!"

"Sir Percy-!" Chauvelin broke in with a vicious snarl.

"I entreat you to accept my apologies," the other rejoined with utmost
courtesy. "I was on the verge of losing my temper, which we in England
would call demmed bad form. I'll not transgress again. I pray you,
proceed with what you were saying. So interesting--demmed interesting!
You were talking about murdering a woman in cold blood, I think-"

"In hot blood, Sir Percy," Chauvelin rejoined more firmly. "Blood
fired by thoughts of just revenge."

"Pardon! My mistake! As you were saying-"

"'Tis you who attack us. You--the meddlesome Scarlet Pimpernel, with
your accursed gang!... We defend ourselves as best we can, using what
weapons lie closest to our hand-"

"Such as murder, outrage, abduction... and wearing breeches the cut of
which would provoke a saint to indignation."

"Murder, abduction, outrage, as you will, Sir Percy," Chauvelin
retorted, as cool now as his opponent. "Had you ceased to interfere in
the affairs of France when first you escaped punishment for your
machinations, you would not now be in the sorry plight in which your
own intrigues have at last landed you. Had you left us alone, we
should by now have forgotten you."

"Which would have been such a pity, my dear M. Chambertin," Blakeney
rejoined gravely. "I should not like you to forget me. Believe me, I
have enjoyed life so much these past two years, I would not give up
those pleasures even for that of seeing you and your friends have a
bath or wear tidy buckles on your shoes."

"You will have cause to indulge in those pleasures within the next few
days, Sir Percy," Chauvelin rejoined dryly.

"What?" Sir Percy exclaimed. "The Committee of Public Safety going to
have a bath? Or the Revolutionary Tribunal? Which?"

But Chauvelin was determined not to lose his temper again. Indeed, he
abhorred this man so deeply that he felt no anger against him, no
resentment; only a cold, calculating hate.

"The pleasure of pitting your wits against the inevitable," he
riposted dryly.

"Ah?" quoth Sir Percy airily. "The inevitable has always been such a
good friend to me."

"Not this time, I fear, Sir Percy."

"Ah? You really mean this time to-?" and he made a significant gesture
across his own neck.

"In as few days as possible."

Whereupon Sir Percy rose, and said solemnly:

"You are right there, my friend, quite right. Delays are always
dangerous. If you mean to have my head, why--have if quickly. As for
me, delays always bore me to tears."

He yawned and stretched his long limbs.

"I am getting so deemed fatigued," he said. "Do you not think this
conversation has lasted quite long enough?"

"It was none of my seeking, Sir Percy."

"Mine, I grant you; mine, absolutely! But, hang it, man! I had to tell
you that your breeches were badly cut."

"And I, that we are at your service, to end the business as soon as
may be."

"To-?" And once more Sir Percy passed his firm hand across his throat.
Then he gave a shudder.

"B-r-r-r!" he exclaimed. "I had no idea you were in such a demmed

"We await your pleasure, Sir Percy. Lady Blakeney must not be kept in
suspense too long. Shall we say that, in three days...?"

"Make if four, my dear M. Chambertin, and I am eternally your debtor."

"In four days then, Sir Percy," Chauvelin rejoined with pronounced
sarcasm. "You see how ready I am to meet you in a spirit of
conciliation! Four days, you say? Very well then; for four days more
we keep our prisoner in those rooms upstairs.... After that-"

He paused, awed mayhap, in spite of himself, but the diabolical
thought which had suddenly come into his mind--a sudden inspiration
which in truth must have emanated from some unclean spirit with which
he held converse. He looked the Scarlet Pimpernel--his enemy--squarely
in the face. Conscious of his power, he was no longer afraid. What he
longed for most at this moment was to see the least suspicion of a
shadow dim the mocking light that danced in those lazy, supercilious
eyes, or the merest tremor pass over the slender hand framed in
priceless Mechlin lace.

For a while complete silence reigned in the bare, dank room--a silence
broken only by the stertorous, rapid breathing of the one man who
appeared moved. That man was not Sir Percy Blakeney. He indeed had
remained quite still, spy-glass in hand, the good-humoured smile still
dancing round his lips. Somewhere in the far distance a church clock
struck the hour. Then only did Chauvelin put his full fiendish project
into words.

"For four days," he reiterated with slow deliberation, "we keep our
prisoner in the room upstairs.... After that, Captain Boyer has orders
to shoot her."

Again there was silence--only for a second perhaps; whilst down by the
Stygian creek, where Time never was, the elfish ghouls and impish
demons set up a howl of delight at the hellish knavery of man.

Just one second, whilst Chauvelin waited for his enemy's answer to
this monstrous pronouncement, and the very walls of the drabby
apartment appeared to listen, expectant. Overhead, could be dimly
heard the measured tramp of heavy feet upon the uncarpeted floor. And
suddenly through the bare apartment there rang the sound of a quaint,
light-hearted laugh.

"You really are the worst-dressed man I have ever come across, my good
M. Chambertin," Sir Percy said with rare good-humour. "You must allow
me to give you the address of a good little tailor I came across in
the Latin Quarter the other day. No decent man would be seen walking
up the guillotine in such a waistcoat as you are wearing. Ad for your
boots-" He yawned again. "You really must excuse me! I came home late
from the theatre last night, and have not had my usual hours of sleep.
So, by your leave-"

"By all means, Sir Percy!" Chauvelin replied complacently. "At this
moment you are a free man, because I happen to be alone and unarmed,
and because this house is solidly built and my voice would not carry
to the floor above. Also because you are so nimble that no doubt you
could give me the slip long before Captain Boyer and his men came to
my rescue. Yes, Sir Percy; for the moment you are a free man! Free to
walk out of this house unharmed. But even now, you are not as free as
you would wish to be, eh? You are free to despise me, to overwhelm me
with lofty scorn, to sharpen your wits at my expense; but you are not
free to indulge your desire to squeeze the life out of me, to shake me
as you would a rat. And shall I tell you why? Because you know now
that if at a certain hour of the day I do not pay my daily visit to
Captain Boyer upstairs, he will shoot his prisoner without the least

Whereupon Blakeney threw up his head and laughed heartily.

"You are absolutely priceless, my dear M. Chambertin!" he said gaily.
"But you really must put your cravat straight. It has once again
become disarranged... in the heat of your oratory, no doubt.... Allow
me to offer you a pin."

And with inimitable affectation, he took a pin out of his own cravat
and presented it to Chauvelin, who, unable to control his wrath,
jumped to his feet.

"Sir Percy-!" he snarled.

But Blakeney placed a gentle, firm hand upon his shoulder, forcing him
to sit down again.

"Easy, easy, my friend," he said. "Do not, I pray you, lose that
composure for which you are so justly famous. There! Allow me to
arrange your cravat for you. A gentle tug here," he added, suiting the
action to the word, "a delicate flick there, and you are the most
perfectly cravatted man in France!"

"Your insults leave me unmoved, Sir Percy," Chauvelin broke in
savagely, and tried to free himself from the touch of those slender,
strong hands that wandered so uncomfortably in the vicinity of his

"No doubt," Blakeney riposted lightly, "that they are as futile as
your threats. One does not insult a cur, any more than one threatens
Sir Percy Blakeney--what?"

"You are right there, Sir Percy. The time for threats has gone by. And
since you appear so vastly entertained-"

"I am vastly entertained, my dear M. Chambertin! How can I help it,
when I see before me a miserable shred of humanity who does not even
know how to keep his tie straight or his hair smooth, calmly--or
almost calmly--talking of--Let me see, what were you talking of, my
amiable friend?"

"Of the hostage, Sir Percy, which we hold until the happy day when the
gallant Scarlet Pimpernel is a prisoner in our hands."

"'M, yes! He was that once before, was he not, my good sir? Then, too,
you laid down mighty schemes for his capture."

"And we succeeded."

"By your usual amiable methods--lies, deceit, forgery. The latter has
been useful to you this time too, eh?"

"What do you mean, Sir Percy?"

"You had need of the assistance of a fair lady for your schemes. She
appeared disinclined to help you. So when her inconvenient lover,
Bertrand Moncrif, was happily dragged away from her path, you forged a
letter, which the lady rightly looked upon as an insult. Because of
that letter, she nourished a comfortable amount of spite against me,
and lent you her aid in the fiendish outrage for which you are about
to receive punishment."

He had raised his voice slightly while he spoke, and Chauvelin cast an
apprehensive glance in the direction of the door behind which he
guessed that Theresia Cabarrus must be straining her ears to listen.

"A pretty story, Sir Percy," he said with affected coolness. "And one
that does infinite credit to your imagination. It is mere surmise on
your part."

"What, my friend? What is surmise? That you gave a letter to Madame de
Fontenay which you had concocted, and which I had never written? Why,
man," he added with a laugh, "I saw you do it!"

"You? Impossible!"

"More impossible things than that will happen within the next few
days, my good sir. I was outside the window of Madame de Fontenay's
apartment during the whole of your interview with her. And the
shutters were not as closely fastened as you would have wished. But
why argue about it, my dear M. Chambertin, when you know quite well
that I have given you a perfectly accurate expos of the means which
you employed to make a pretty and spoilt woman help you in your
nefarious work?"

"Why argue, indeed?" Chauvelin retorted dryly. "The past is past. I'll
answer to my country, which you outrage by your machinations, for the
methods which I employ to circumvent them. Your concern and mine, my
gallant friend, is solely with the future--with the next four days, in
fact... After which, either the Scarlet Pimpernel is in our hands, or
Lady Blakeney will be put against the wall upstairs and summarily

Then only did something of his habitual lazy non-chalance go out of
Blakeney's attitude. Just for the space of a few seconds he drew
himself up to his full magnificent height, and from the summit of his
splendid audacity and the consciousness of his own power, he looked
down at the mean, cringing figure of the enemy who had hurled this
threat of death against the woman he worshipped. Chauvelin vainly
tried to keep up some semblance of dignity; he tried to meet the
glance which no longer mocked, and to close his ears to the voice
which, sonorous and commanding, now threatened in its turn.

"And you really believe," Sir Percy Blakeney said slowly and
deliberately, "that you have the power to carry through your infamous
schemes? That I--yes, I!--would allow you to come within measurable
distance of their execution? Bah! my dear friend. You have learned
nothing by past experience--not even this: that when you dared to lay
your filthy hands upon Lady Blakeney, you and the whole pack of
assassins who have terrorized this beautiful country far too long,
struck the knell of your ultimate doom. You have dared to measure your
strength against mine by perpetrating an outrage so monstrous in my
sight that, to punish you, I--even I!--will sweep you off the face of
the earth and send you to join the pack of unclean ghouls who have
aided you in your crimes. After which--thank the Lord!--the earth,
being purged of your presence, will begin to smell sweetly again."

Chauvelin made a vain effort to laugh, to shrug his shoulders, to put
on those airs of insolence which came so naturally to his opponent. No
doubt the strain of this long interview with his enemy had told upon
his nerves. Certain it is that at this moment, though he was conscious
enough to rail inwardly at his own cowardice, he was utterly unable to
move or to retort. His limbs felt heavy as lead, an icy shudder was
coursing down his spine. It seemed in truth as if some uncanny ghoul
had entered the dreary, dank apartment and with gaunt, invisible hand
was tolling a silent passing bell--the death-knell of all his
ambitions and all his hopes. He closed his eyes, for he felt giddy and
sick. When he opened his eyes again he was alone.


A Dream


Chauvelin had not yet regained full possession of his faculties, when
a few seconds later he saw Theresia Cabarrus glide swiftly across the
antechamber. She appeared to him like a ghost--a pixie who had found
her way through a keyhole. But she threw him a glance of contempt that
was very human, very feminine indeed, and the next moment she was

Outside on the landing she paused. Straining her ears, she caught the
sound of a firm footfall slowly descending the stairs. She ran down a
few steps, then called softly:


The footsteps paused, and a pleasant voice gave quiet reply:

"At your service, fair lady!"

Theresia, shrewd as well as brave, continued to descend. She was not
in the least afraid. Instinct had told her before now that no woman
need ever have the slightest fear of that elegant milor with the
quaint laugh and gently mocking mien, whom she had learned to know
over in England.

Midway down the stairs she came face to face with him, and when she
paused, panting, a little breathless with excitement, he said with
perfect courtesy:

"You did me the honour to call me, Madame?"

"Yes, milor," she replied, in a quick, eager whisper. "I heard every
word that passed between you and citizen Chauvelin."

"Of course you did, dear lady," he rejoined with a smile. "If a woman
once resisted the temptation of putting a shell-like ear to a keyhole,
the world would lose many a cause for entertainment."

"That letter, milor-" she broke in impatiently.

"Which letter, Madame?"

"That insulting letter to me... when you took Moncrif away.... You
never wrote it?"

"Did you really think that I did?" he retorted.

"No. I ought to have guessed... the moment that I saw you in

"And realized that I was not a cad--what?"

"Oh, milor!" she protested. "But why--why did you not tell me before?"

"It had escaped my memory. And if I remember rightly, you spent most
of the time when I had the honour of walking with you, in giving me
elaborate and interesting accounts of your difficulties, and I, in
listening to them."

"Oh!" she exclaimed vehemently. "I hate that man! I hate him!"

"In truth, he is not a lovable personality. But, by your leave, I
presume that you did not desire to speak with me so that we might
discuss our friend Chauvelin's amiable qualities."

"No, no, milor!" she rejoined quickly. "I called to you because-"

Then she paused for a moment or two, as if to collect her thoughts.
Her eager eyes strove to pierce the gloom that enveloped the figure of
the bold adventurer. She could only see the dim outline of his
powerful figure, the light from above striking on his smooth hair, the
elegantly tied bow at the nape of his neck, the exquisite filmy lace
at his throat and wrists. His head was slightly bent, one arm in a
curve supported his chapeau-bras, his whole attitude was one befitting
a salon rather than this dank hovel, where death was even now at his
elbow; it was as cool and unperturbed as it had been on that May-day
evening, in the hawthorn scented lanes of Kent.

"Milor," she said abruptly, "you told me one--you remember?--that you
were what you English call a sportsman. Is that so?"

"I hope always to remain that, dead lady," he replied with a smile.

"Does that mean," she queried, with a pretty air of deference and
hesitation, "does that mean a man who would under no circumstances
harm a woman?"

"I think so."

"Now even if she--if she has sinned--transgressed against him?"

"I don't quite understand, Madame," he rejoined simply. "And, time
being short--Are you perchance speaking of yourself?"

"Yes. I have done you an injury, milor."

"A very great one indeed," he assented gravely.

"Could you," she pleaded, raising earnest, tear-filled eyes to his,
"could you bring yourself to believe that I have been nothing but a
miserable, innocent tool?"

"So was the lady upstairs innocent, Madame," he broke in quietly.

"I know," she retorted with a sigh. "I know. I would never dare to
plead, as you must hate me so."

He shrugged his shoulders with an air of carelessness.

"Oh!" he said. "Does a man every hate a pretty woman?"

"He forgives her, milor," she entreated, "if he is a true sportsman."

"Indeed? You astonish me, dear lady. But in verity you all in this
unhappy country are full of surprises for a plain, blunt-headed
Britisher. Now what, I wonder," he added, with a light, good-humoured
laugh, "would my forgiveness be worth to you?"

"Everything!" she replied earnestly. "I was deceived by that
abominable liar, who knew how to play upon a woman's pique. I am
ashamed, wretched.... Oh, cannot you believe me? And I would give
worlds to atone!"

He laughed in his quiet, gently ironical way.

"You do not happen to possess worlds, dear lady. All that you have is
youth and beauty and ambition, and life. You would forfeit all those
treasures if you really tried to atone."


"Lady Blakeney is a prisoner.... You are her jailer.... Her precious
life is the hostage for yours."

"Milor-" she murmured.

"From my heart, I wish you well, fair one," he broke in lightly.
"Believe me, the pagan gods that fashioned you did not design you for
tragedy... And if you ran counter to your friend Chauvelin's desires,
I fear me that that pretty neck of yours would suffer. A thing to be
avoided at all costs! And now," he added, "have I your permission to
go? My position here is somewhat precarious, and for the next four
days I cannot afford the luxury of entertaining so fine a lady, by
running my head into a noose."

He was on the point of going when she placed a restraining hand upon
his arm.

"Milor!" she pleaded.

"At your service, dear lady!"

"Is there naught I can do for you?"

He looked at her for a moment or two, and even through the gloom she
caught his quizzical look and the mocking lines around his firm lips.

"You can ask Lady Blakeney to forgive you," he said, with a thought
more seriousness than was habitual to him. "She is an angel; she might
do it."

"And if she does?"

"She will know what to do, to convey her thoughts to me."

"Nay! but I'll do more than that, milor," Theresia continued
excitedly. "I will tell her that I shall pray night and day for your
deliverance and hers. I will tell her that I have seen you, and that
you are well."

"Ah, if you did that-" he exclaimed, almost involuntarily.

"You would forgive me, too?" she pleaded.

"I would do more than that, fair one. I would make you Queen of
France, in all but name."

"What do you mean?" she murmured.

"That I would then redeem the promise which I made to you that
evening, in the lane--outside Dover. Do you remember?"

She made no reply, closed her eyes; and her vivd fancy, rendered
doubly keen by the mystery which seemed to encompass him as with a
supernal mantle, conjured up the vision of that unforgettable evening:
the moonlight, the scent of the hawthorn, the call of the thrush. She
saw him stooping before her, and kissing her finger-tips, even whilst
her ears recalled every word he had spoken and every inflexion of his
mocking voice:

"Let me rather put it differently, dear lady," he had said then. "One
day the exquisite Theresia Cabarrus, the Egeria of the Terrorists, the
fiance of the great Tallien, might need the help of the Scarlet

And she, angered, piqued by his coolness, thirsting for revenge for
the insult which she believed he had put upon her, had then protested

"I would sooner die," she had boldly asserted, "than seek your help,

And now, at this hour, here in this house where Death lurked in every
corner, she could still hear his retort:

"Here in Dover, perhaps.... But in France?"

How right he had been!... How right! She--who had thought herself so
strong, so powerful--what was she indeed but a miserable tool in the
hands of men who would break her without scruple if she ran counter to
their will? Remorse was not for her--atonement too great a luxury for
a tool of Chauvelin to indulge in. The black, hideous taint, the sin
of having dragged this splendid man and that innocent woman to their
death, must rest upon her soul for ever. Even now she was jeopardizing
his life, every moment that she kept him talking in this house. And
yet the impulse to speak with him, to hear him say a word of
forgiveness, had been unconquerable. One moment she longed for him to
go; the next she would have sacrificed much to keep him by her side.
When he wished to go, she held him back. Now that, with his wonted
careless disregard of danger, he appeared willing to linger, she
sought for the right words wherewith to bid him go.

He seemed to divine her thoughts, remained quite still while she stood
there with eyes closed, in one brief second reviewing the past. All!
All! It all came back to her: her challenge to him, his laughing

"You mean," she said at parting, "that you would risk your life to
save mine?"

"I should not risk my life, dear lady," he had said, with his puzzling
smile; "But I should--God help me!--do my best, if the need arose, to
save yours."

Then he had gone, and she had stood under the porch of the quaint old
English inn and watched his splendid figure as it disappeared down the
street. She had watched, puzzled, uncomprehending, her heart already
stirred by that sweet, sad ache which at this hour brought tears to
her eyes--the aching sorrow of that which could never, never be. Ah!
if it had been her good fortune to have come across such a man, to
have aroused in him that admiration for herself which she so scorned
in others, how different, how very different would life have been! And
she fell to envying the poor prisoner upstairs, who owned the most
precious treasure life can offer to any woman: the love of a fine man.
Two hot tears came slowly through her closed eyes, coursing down her

"Why so sad, dear lady?" he asked gently.

She could not speak for the moment, only murmured vaguely:

"Four days-"

"Four days," he retorted gaily, "as you say! In four days, either I or
a pack of assassins will be dead."

"Oh, what will become of me?" she sighed.

"Whatever you choose."

"You are bold, milor," she rejoined more calmly. "And you are brave.
Alas! what can you do, when the most powerful hands in France are
against you?"

"Smite them, dear lady," he replied airily. "Smite them! Then turn my
back upon this fair land. It will no longer have need of me." Then he
made her a courteous bow. "May I have the honour of escorting you
upstairs? Your friend M. Chauvelin will be awaiting you."

The name of her taskmaster brought Theresia back to the realities of
life. Gone was the dream of a while ago, when subconsciously her mind
had dwelt upon a sweet might-have-been. The man was nothing to her--
less than nothing; a common spy, so her friends averred. Even if he
had not presumed to write her an insulting letter, he was still the
enemy--the foe whose hand was raised against her own country and
against those with whose fortunes she had thrown in her lot. Even now,
she ought to be calling loudly for help, rouse the house with her
cries, so that this spy, this enemy, might be brought down before her
eyes. Instead of which, she felt her heart beating with apprehension
lest his quiet even voice be heard on the floor above, and he be
caught in the snare which those who feared and hated him had laid for

Indeed, she appeared far more conscious of danger than he was; and
while she chided herself for her folly in having called to him, he was
standing before her as if he were in a drawing-room, holding out his
arm to escort her in to dinner. His foot was on the step, ready to
ascend, even whilst Theresia's straining ears caught the sound of
other footsteps up above: footsteps of men--real men, those!--who were
set up there to watch for the coming of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and
whose vigilance had been spurred by promise of reward and by threat of
death. She pushed his arm aside almost roughly.

"You are mad, milor!" she said, in a choked murmur. "Such
foolhardiness, when your life is in deadly jeopardy, becomes criminal

"The best of life," he said airily, "is folly. I would not miss this
moment for a kingdom!"

She felt like a creature under a spell. He took her hand and drew it
through his arm. She went up the steps beside him.

Every moment she thought that one or more of the soldiers would be
coming down, or that Chauvelin, impatient at her absence, might step
out upon the landing. The dank, murky air seemed alive with ominous
whisperings, of stealthy treads upon the stone. Theresia dared not
look behind her, fearful lest the grim presence of Death itself be
suddenly made manifest before her.

On the landing he took leave of her, stooped and kissed her hand.

"Why, how cold it is!" he remarked with a smile.

His was perfectly steady and warm. The very feel of it seemed to give
her strength. She raised her eyes to his.

"Milor," she entreated, "on my knees I beg of you not to toy with your
life any longer."

"Toy with my life?" he retorted gaily. "Nothing is further from my

"You must know that every second which you spend in this house if
fraught with the greatest possible danger."

"Danger? Ne'er a bit, dear lady! I am no longer in danger, now that
you are my friend."

The next moment he was gone. For awhile, Theresia's straining ears
still caught the sound of his form footfall upon the stone steps. Then
all was still; and she was left wondering if, in very truth, the last
few minutes on the dark stairs had not all been part of a dream.


Terror or Ambition


Chauvelin had sufficiently recovered from the emotions of the past
half-hour to speak coolly and naturally to Theresia. Whether he knew
that she had waylaid Sir Percy Blakeney on the stairs or no, she could
not conjecture. He made no reference to his interview with the Scarlet
Pimpernel, nor did he question her directly as to whether she had
overheard what passed between them.

Certainly his attitude was a more dictatorial one than it had been
before. Some of his first words to her contained a veiled menace.
Whether the sense of coming triumph gave him a fresh measure of that
arrogance which past failures had never wholly subdued, or whether
terror for the future caused him to bluster and to threaten, it were
impossible to say.

"Vigilance!" he said to Theresia, after a curt greeting. "Incessant
vigilance, night and day, is what your country demands of you now,
citizeness! All our lives now depend upon our vigilance."

"Yours perhaps, citizen," she rejoined coolly. "You seem to forget
that I am not bound-"

"You? Not bound?" he broke in roughly, and with a strident laugh. "Not
bound to aid in bringing the most bitter enemy of your country to his
knees? Not bound, now that success is in sight?"

"You only obtained my help by a subterfuge," she retorted; "by a
forged letter and a villainous lie-"

"Bah! Are you going to tell me, citizeness, that all means are not
justifiable when dealing with those whose hands are raised against
France? Forgery?" he went on, with passionate earnestness. "Why not?
Outrage? Murder? I would commit every crime in order to serve the
country which I love, and hound her enemies to death. The only crime
that is unjustifiable, citoyenne, is indifference. You? Not bound?
Wait! Wait, I say! And if by your indifference or your apathy we fail
once more to bring that elusive enemy to book, wait then until you
stand at the bar of the people's tribunal, and in the face of France,
who called to you for help, of France, who beset by a hundred foes,
stretch appealing arms to you, her daughter, you turned a deaf ear to
her entreaties, and, shrugging your fair shoulders, calmly pleaded,
'Bah! I was not bound!'"

He paused, carried away by his own enthusiasm, feeling perhaps that he
had gone too far, or else had said enough to enforce the obedience
which he exacted. After awhile, since Theresia remained silent too, he
added more quietly:

"If we capture the Scarlet Pimpernel this time, citizeness,
Robespierre shall know from my lips that it is to you and to you alone
that he owes this triumph over the enemy whom he fears above all.
Without you, I could not have set the trap out of which he cannot now

"He can escape! He can!" she retorted defiantly. "The Scarlet
Pimpernel is too clever, too astute, too audacious, to fall into your

"Take care, citoyenne, take care! Your admiration for that elusive
hero carries you beyond the bounds of prudence."

"Bah! If he escapes, 'tis you who will be blamed-"

"And 'tis you who will suffer, citoyenne," he riposted blandly. With
which parting shaft he left her certain that she would ponder over his
threats as well as over his bold promise of a rich reward.

Terror and ambition! Death, or the gratitude of Robespierre! How well
did Chauvelin gauge the indecision, the shallowness of a fickle
woman's heart! Theresia, left to herself, had only those two
alternatives over which to ponder. Robespierre's gratitude, which
meant that the admiration which already he felt for her would turn to
stronger passion. He was still heart-whole, that she knew. The regard
which he was supposed to feel for the humble cabinet-maker's daughter
could only be a passing fancy. The dictator of France must choose a
mate worthy of his power and of his ambition; his friends would see to
that. Robespierre's gratitude! What a vista of triumphs and of glory
did that eventuality open up before her, what dizzy heights of
satisfied ambition! And what a contrast if Chauvelin's scheme failed
in the end!

"Wait," he had cried, "until you stand at the bar of the people's
tribunal and plead indifference!"

Theresia shuddered. Despite the close atmosphere of the apartment, she
was shivering with cold. Her loneliness, her isolation, here in this
house, where an appalling and grim tragedy was even now in
preparation, filled her with sickening dread. Overhead she could hear
the soldiers moving about, and in one of the rooms close by her
sensitive ear caught the sound of Mother Thot's shuffling tread.

But the sound that was most insistent, that hammered away at her heart
until she could have screamed with the pain, was the echo of a lazy,
somewhat inane laugh and of a gently mocking voice that said lightly:

"The best of life is folly, dear lady. I would not miss this moment
for a kingdom."

Her hand went up to her throat to smother the sobs that would rise up
against her will. Then she called all her self-control, all her
ambition, to her aid. This present mood was sentimental nonsense, an
abyss created by an over-sensitive heart, into which she might be
falling headlong. What was this Englishman to her that thought of his
death should prove such mental agony? As for him, he only laughed at
her; despised her still, probably; hated her for the injury she had
done to that woman upstairs whom he loved.

Impatient to get away from this atmosphere of tragedy and of mysticism
which was preying on her nerves, Theresia called peremptorily to
Mother Thot, and when the old woman came shuffling out of her room,
demanded her cloak and hood.

"Have you seen aught of citizen Moncrif?" she asked, just before going

"I caught sight of him over the way," Catherine Thot replied,
"watching this house, as he always does when you, citoyenne, are in

"Ah!" the imperious beauty retorted, with a thought of spite in her
mellow voice. "Would you could give him a potion, Mother, to cure him
of his infatuation for me!"

"Despise no man's love, citoyenne," the witch retorted sententiously.
"Even that poor vagabond's blind passion may yet prove thy salvation."

A moment or two later Theresia was once more on the dark stairs where
she had dreamed of the handsome milor. She sighed as she ran swiftly
down--sighed, and looked half-fearfully about her. She still felt his
presence through the gloom; and in the ghostly light that feebly
illumined the corner whereon he had stood, she still vaguely saw in
spirit his tall straight figure, stooping whilst he kissed her hand.
At one moment she was quite sure that she heard his voice and the echo
of his pleasant laugh.

Down below, Bertrand Moncrif was waiting for her, silent, humble, with
the look of a faithful watch-dog upon his pale, wan face.

"You make yourself ill, my poor Bertrand," Theresia said, not
unkindly, seeing that he stood aside to let her pass, fearful of a
rebuff if he dared speak to her. "I am in no danger, I assure you; and
this constant dogging of my footsteps can do no good to you or to me."

"But it can do no harm," he pleaded earnestly. "Something tells me,
Theresia, that danger does threaten you, unbeknown to you, from a
quarter least expected."

"Bah!" she retorted lightly. "And if it did, you could not avert it."

He made a desperate effort to check the words of passionate
protestations which rose to his lips. He longed to protect her from
harm, how happy he would be if he might die for her. But obviously he
dared not say what lay nearest to his heart. All he could do now was
to talk silently by her side as far as her lodgings in the Rue
Villedot, grateful for this small privilege, uncomplaining and almost
happy because she tolerated his presence, and because while she walked
the ends of her long scarf stirred by the breeze would now and again
flutter against his cheek.

Miserable Bertrand! He had laden his soul with an abominable crime for
this woman's sake; and he had not even the satisfaction of feeling
that she gave him an infinitesimal measure of gratitude.


In the Meanwhile


Chauvelin, who, despite his many failures, was still one of the most
conspicuous--since he was one of the most unscrupulous--members of the
Committee of Public Saftey, had not attended its sittings for some
days. He had been too deeply absorbed in his own schemes to trouble
about those of his colleagues. In truth, the coup which he was
preparing was so stupendous, and if it succeeded his triumph would be
so magnificent, that he could well afford to hold himself aloof. Those
who were still inclined to scorn and to scoff at him to-day would be
his most cringing sycophants on the morrow.

He knew well enough--none better--that during this time the political
atmosphere in the Committees and the Clubs was nothing short of
electrical. He felt, as every one did, that something catastrophic was
in the air, that death, more self-evident than ever before, lurked at
every man's elbow, and stalked round the corner of every street.

Robespierre, the tyrant, the autocrat whose mere word swayed the
multitude, remained silent and impenetrable, absent from every
gathering. He only made brief appearances at the Convention, and there
sat moody and self-absorbed. Every one knew that this man, dictator in
all but name, was meditating a Titanic attack upon his enemies. His
veiled threats, uttered during his rare appearances at the speaker's
tribune, embraced even the most popular, the most prominent, amongst
the representatives of the people. Every one, in fact, who was likely
to stand in his way when he was ready to snatch the supreme power. His
intimates--Couthon, St. Just, and the others--openly accused of
planning a dictatorship for their chief, hardly took the trouble to
deny the impeachment, even whilst Tallien and his friends, feeling
that the tyrant had already decreed their doom, went about like
ghostly shadows, not daring to raise their voice in the Convention
lest the first word they uttered brought down the sword of his lustful
wrath upon their heads.

The Committee of Public Safety--now re-named the Revolutionary
Committee--strove on the other hand by a recrudescence of cruelty to
ingratiate itself with the potential dictator and to pose before the
people as alone pure and incorruptible, blind in justice, inexorable
where the safety of the Republic was concerned. Thus an abominable
emulation of vengeance and of persecution went on between the
Committee and Robespierre's party, wherein neither side could afford
to give in, for fear of being accused of apathy and of moderation.

Chauvelin, for the most part, had kept out of the turmoil. He felt
that in his hands lay the destiny of either party. His one thought was
of the Scarlet Pimpernel and of his imminent capture, knowing that,
with the most inveterate opponent of revolutionary excesses in his
hands, he would within an hour be in a position to link his triumph
with one or the other of the parties--either with Robespierre and his
herd of butchers, or with Tallien and the Moderates.

He was the mysterious and invisible deus ex machina, who anon, when it
suited his purpose, would reveal himself in his full glory as the man
who had tracked down and brought to the guillotine the most dangerous
enemy of the revolutionary government. And, so easily is a multitude
swayed, that that one fact would bring him popularity transcending
that of every other man in France. He, Chauvelin, the despised, the
derided, whose name had become synonymous with Failure, would then
with a word sweep those aside who had mocked him, hurl his enemies
from their pedestals, and name at will the rulers of France All within
four days!

And of these, two had gone by.


These days in mid-July had been more than usually sultry. It seemed
almost as if Nature had linked herself with the passions of men, and
hand in hand with Vengeance, Lust and Cruelty, had rendered the air
hot and heavy with the presage of on-coming storm.

For Marguerite Blakeney these days had gone by like a nightmare. Cut
off from all knowledge of the outside world, without news from her
husband for the past forty-eight hours, she was enduring mental agony
such as would have broken a weaker or less trusting spirit.

Two days ago she had received a message, a few lines hastily scribbled
by an unknown hand, and brought to her by the old woman who waited
upon her.

"I have seen him," the message said. "He is well and full of hope. I
pray God for your deliverance and his, but help can only come by a

The message was written in a feminine hand, with no clue as to the

Since then, nothing.

Marguerite had not seen Chauvelin again, for which indeed she thanked
Heaven on her knees. But every day at a given hour she was conscious
of his presence outside her door. She heard his voice in the
vestibule: there would be a word or two of command, the grounding of
arms, then some whispered talking; and presently Chauvelin's stealthy
footstep would slink up to her door. And Marguerite would remain still
as a mouse that scents the presence of a cat, holding her breath, life
almost at a standstill in this agony of expectation.

The remainder of the day time hung with a leaden weight on her hands.
She was given no books to read, not a needle wherewith to busy
herself. She had no one to speak to save old Mother Thot, who waited
on her and brought her her meals, nearly always in silence, and with a
dour mien which checked any attempt at conversation.

For company, the unfortunate woman had nothing but her own thoughts,
her fears which grew in intensity, and her hopes which were rapidly
dwindling, as hour followed hour and day succeeded day in dreary
monotony. No sound around her save the incessant tramp, tramp of
sentries at her door, and every two hours the changing of the guard in
the vestibule outside; then the whispered colloquies, the soldiers
playing at cards or throwing dice, the bibulous songs, the ribald
laughter, the obscene words flung aloud like bits of filthy rag; the
life, in fact, that revolved around her jailers and seemed at a
standstill within her prison walls.

In the late afternoons the air would become insufferably hot, and
Marguerite would throw open the window and sit beside it, her gaze
fixed upon the horizon far away, her hands lying limp and moist upon
her lap.

Then she would fall to dreaming. Her thoughts, swifter than flight of
swallows, would cross the sea and go roaming across country to her
stately home in Richmond, where at this house the moist, cool air was
fragrant with the scent of late roses and of lime blossom, and the
murmur of the river lapping the mossy bank whispered of love and of
peace. In her dream she would see the tall figure of her beloved
coming toward her. The sunset was playing upon his smooth hair and
upon his strong, slender hands, always outstretched toward the
innocent and the weak. She would hear his dear voice calling her name,
feel his arms around her, and her senses swooning in the ecstasy of
that perfect moment which comes just before a kiss.

She would dream... only to wake up the next moment to hear the church
clock of St. Antoine striking seven, and a minute or two later that
ominous shuffling footstep outside her door, those whisperings, the
grounding of arms, a burst of cruel laughter, which brought her from
the dizzy heights of illusive happiness back to the hideous reality of
her own horrible position, and of the deadly danger which lay in wait
for her beloved.


The Close of the Second Day


Soon after seven o'clock that evening the storm which had threatened
all day burst in its full fury. A raging gale tore at the dilapidated
roofs of this squalid corner of the great city, and lashed the mud of
the streets into miniature cascades. Soon the rain fell in torrents;
one clap of thunder followed on another with appalling rapidity, and
the dull, leaden sky was rent with vivid flashes of lightning.

Chauvelin, who had paid his daily visit to the Captain in charge of
the prisoner in the Rue de la Planchette, was unable to proceed
homewards. Wrapped in his cloak, he decided to wait in the disused
storage-room below until it became possible for an unfortunate
pedestrian to sally forth into the open.

There seems no doubt that at this time the man's very soul was on the
rack. His nerves were stretched to breaking point, not only by
incessant vigilance, by obsession of the one idea, the one aim, but
also by multifarious incidents which his overwrought imagination
magnified into attempts to rob him of his prey.

He trusted no one--not Mother Thot, not the men upstairs, not
Theresia: least of all Theresia. And his tortured brain invented and
elaborated schemes whereby he set one set of spies to watch another,
one set of sleuthhounds to run after another, in a kind of vicious and
demoniac circle of mistrust and denunciation. Nor did he trust himself
any longer: neither his instinct nor his eyes, nor his ears. His
intimates--and he had very few of these--said of him at that time
that, if he had his way, he would have had every tatterdemalion in the
city branded, like Rateau, lest they were bribed or tempted into
changing identities with the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Whilst waiting for a lull in the storm, he was pacing up and down the
dank and murky storage house, striving by febrile movements to calm
his nerves. Shivering, despite the closeness of the atmosphere, he
kept the folds of his mantle closely wrapped around his shoulders.

It was impossible to keep the outer doors open, because the rain beat
in wildly on that side, and the place would have been in utter
darkness but for an old grimy lanthorn which some prudent hand had set
up on a barrel in the centre of the vast space, and which shed a
feeble circle of light around. The latch of the wicket appeared to be
broken, for the small door, driven by the wind, flapped backwards and
forwards with irritating ceaselessness. At one time Chauvelin tried to
improvise some means of fastening it, for the noise helped to
exacerbate his nerves and, leaning out into the street in order to
seize hold of the door, he saw the figure of a man, bent nearly double
in the teeth of the gale, shuffling across the street from the
direction of the Porte St. Antoine.

It was then nearly eight o'clock, and the light treacherous, but
despite the veil of torrential rain which intervene between him and
that shuffling figure, something in the gait, the stature, the stoop
of the wide, bony shoulders, appeared unpleasantly familiar. The man's
head and shoulders were wrapped in a tattered piece of sacking, which
he held close to his chest. His arms were bare, as were his shins, and
on his feet he had a pair of sabots stuffed with straw.

Midway across the street he paused, and a tearing fit of coughing
seemed to render him momentarily helpless. Chauvelin's first instinct
prompted him to run to the stairs and to call for assistance from the
Captain Boyer. Indeed, he was half-way up to the first floor when,
looking down, he saw that the man had entered the place through the
wicket-door. Still coughing and spluttering, he had divested himself
of his piece of sacking and was crouching down against the barrel in
the centre of the room and trying to warm his hands by holding them
against the glass sides of the old lanthorn.

From where he stood, Chauvelin could see the dim outline of the man's
profile, the chin ornamented with a three-days' growth of beard, the
lank hair plastered above the pallid forehead, the huge bones, coated
with grime, that protruded through the rags that did duty for a shirt.
The sleeves of this tattered garment hung away from the arm,
displaying a fiery, inflamed weal, shaped like the letter "M," that
had recently been burned into the flesh with a branding iron.

The sight of that mark upon the vagabond's arm caused Chauvelin to
pause a moment, then to come down the stairs again.

"Citizen Rateau!" he called.

The man jumped as if he had been struck with a whip, tried to struggle
to his feet, but collapsed on the floor, while a terrible fit of
coughing took his breath away. Chauvelin, standing beside the barrel,
looked down with a grim smile on this miserable wreckage of humanity
whom he had so judiciously put out of the way of further mischief. The
dim flicker of the lanthorn illumine the gaunt, bony arm, so that the
charred flesh stood out like a crimson, fiery string against a coating
of grime.

Rateau appeared terrified, scared by the sudden apparition of the man
who had inflicted the shameful punishment upon him. Chauvelin's face,
lighted from below by the lanthorn, did indeed appear grim and
forbidding. Some few seconds elapsed before the coalheaver had
recovered sufficiently to stand on his feet.

"I seem to have scared you, my friend," Chauvelin remarked dryly.

"I--I did not know," Rateau stammered with a painful wheeze, "that
anyone was here... I came for shelter...."

"I am here for shelter, too," Chauvelin rejoined, "and did not see you

"Mother Thot allows me to sleep here," Rateau went on mildly. "I have
had no work for two days... not since..." And he looked down ruefully
upon his arm. "People think I am an escaped felon," he explained with
snivelling timidity. "And as I have always lived just from hand to

He paused, and cast an obsequious glance on the Terrorist, who
retorted dryly:

"Better men than you, my friend, live from hand to mouth these days.
Poverty," he continued with grim sarcasm, "exalts a man in this
glorious revolution of ours. 'Tis riches that shame him."

Rateau's branded arm went up to his lanky hair, and he scratched his
head dubiously.

"Aye," he nodded, obviously uncomprehending; "perhaps! But I'd like to
taste some of that shame!"

Chauvelin shrugged his shoulders and turned on his heel. The thunder
sounded a little more distant and the rain less violent for the
moment, and he strode toward the door.

"The children run after me now," Rateau continued dolefully. "In my
quartier, the concierge turned me out of my lodging. They keep asking
me what I have done to be branded like a convict."

Chauvelin laughed.

"Tell them you've been punished for serving the English spy," he said.

"The Englishman paid me well, and I am very poor," Rateau retorted
meekly. "I could serve the State now... if it would pay me well."

"Indeed? How?"

"By telling you something, citizen, which you would like to know."

"What is it?"

At once the instinct of the informer, of the sleuthhound, was on the
qui vive. The coalheaver's words, the expression of cunning on his
ugly face, the cringing obsequiousness of his attitude, all suggested
the spirit of intrigue, of underhand dealing, of lies and
denunciations, which were as the breath of life to this master-spy. He
retraced his steps, came and sat upon a pile of rubbish beside the
barrel, and when Rateau, terrified apparently at what he had said,
made a motion as if to slink away, Chauvelin called him back

"What is it, citizen Rateau," he said curtly, "that you could tell me,
and that I would like to know?"

Rateau was cowering in the darkness, trying to efface his huge bulk
and to smother his rasping cough.

"You have said too much already," Chauvelin went on harshly, "to hold
your tongue. And you have nothing to fear... everything to gain. What
is it?"

For a moment Rateau leaned forward, struck the ground with his fist.

"Am I to be paid this time?" he asked.

"If you speak the truth--yes."

"How much?"

"That depends on what you tell me. And now, if you hold your tongue, I
shall call to the citizen Captain upstairs and send you to jail."

The coalheaver appeared to crouch yet further into himself. He looked
like a huge, shapeless mass in the gloom. His huge yellow teeth could
be heard chattering.

"Citizen Tallien will send me to the guillotine," he murmured.

"What has citizen Tallien to do with it?"

"He pays great attention to the citoyenne Cabarrus."

"And it is about her?"

Rateau nodded.

"What is it?" Chauvelin reiterated harshly.

"She is playing you false, citizen," Rateau murmured in a hoarse
breath, and crawled like a long, bulky worm a little closer to the


"She is in league with the Englishman."

"How do you know?"

"I saw her here... two days ago.... You remember, citizen... after

"Yes, yes!" Chauvelin cried impatiently.

"Sergeant Chazot took me to the cavalry barracks.... They gave me to
drink... and I don't remember much what happened. But when I was
myself again, I know that my arm was very sore, and when I looked down
I saw this awful mark on it.... I was just outside the Arsenal
then.... How I got there I don't know.... I suppose Sergeant Chazot
brought me back.... He says I was howling for Mother Thot.... She has
marvellous salves, you know, citizen."

"Yes, yes!"

"I came in here.... My head still felt very strange... and my arm felt
like living fire. Then I heard voices... they came from the stairs....
I looked about me, and saw them standing there...."

Rateau, leaning upon one arm, stretched out the other and pointed to
the stairs, Chauvelin, with a violent gesture, seized him by the

"Who?" he queried harshly. "Who was standing there?"

His glance followed the direction in which the coalheaver was
pointing, then instinctively wandered back and fastened on that fiery
letter "M" which had been seared into the vagabond's flesh.

"The Englishman and citoyenne Cabarrus," Rateau replied feebly, for he
had winced with pain under the excited grip of the Terrorist.

"You are certain?"

"I heard them talking-"

"What did they say?"

"I do not know.... But I saw the Englishman kiss the citoyenne's hand
before they parted."

"And what happened after that?"

"The citoyenne went to Mother Thot's apartment and the Englishman
came down the stairs. I had just time to hide behind that pile of
rubbish. He did not see me."

Chauvelin uttered a savage curse of disappointment.

"Is that all?" he exclaimed.

"The State will pay me?" Rateau murmured vaguely.

"Not a sou!" Chauvelin retorted roughly. "And if citizen Tallien hears
this pretty tale..."

"I can swear to it?"

"Bah! Citoyenne Cabarrus will swear that you lied. 'Twill be her word
against that of a mudlark!"

"Nay!" Rateau retorted. "'Twill be more than that."

"What then?"

"Will you sweat to protect me, citizen, if citizen Tallien-"

"Yes, yes! I'll protect you.... And the guillotine has no time to
trouble about suck muck-worms as you!"

"Well, then, citizen," Rateau went on in a hoarse murmur, "if you will
go to the citoyenne's lodgings in the Rue Villedot, I can show you
where the Englishman hides the clothes wherewith he disguises
himself... and the letters which he writes to the citoyenne when..."

He paused, obviously terrified at the awesome expression of the other
man's face. Chauvelin had allowed the coalheaver's wrist to drop out
of his grasp. He was sitting quite still, silent and grim, his thin,
claw-like hands closely clasped together and held between his knees.
The flickering light of the lanthorn distorted his narrow face,
lengthened the shadows beneath the nose and chin, threw a high light
just below the brows, so that the pale eyes appeared to gleam with an
unnatural flame. Rateau hardly dared to move. He lay like a huge
bundle of rags in the inky blackness beyond the circle of light
projected by the lanthorn; his breath came and went with a dragging,
hissing sound, now and then broken by a painful cough.

For a moment or two there was silence in the great disused store-
room--a silence broken only by the thunder, dull and distant now, and
the ceaseless, monotonous patter of the rain. Then Chauvelin murmured
between his teeth:

"If I thought that she..." But he did not complete the sentence,
jumped to his feet and approached the big mass of rags and humanity
that coward in the gloom. "Get up, citizen Rateau!" he commanded.

The asthmatic giant struggled to his knees. His wooden shoes had
slipped off his feet. He groped for them, and with trembling hands
contrived to put them on again.

"Get up!" Chauvelin reiterated, with a snarl like an angry tiger.

He took a small tablet and a leaden point from his pocket, and
stooping toward the light he scribbled a few words, and then handed
the tablet to Rateau.

"Take this over to the Commissary of the Section in the Place du
Carrousel. Half a dozen men and a captain will be detailed to go with
you to the lodgings of the citoyenne Cabarrus in the Rue Villedot. You
will find me there. Go!"

Rateau's hand trembled visibly as he took the tablets. He was
obviously terrified at what he had done. But Chauvelin paid no further
heed to him. He had given him his orders, knowing well that they would
be obeyed. The man had gone too far to draw back. It never entered
Chauvelin's head that the coalheaver might have lied. He had no cause
for spite against the citoyenne Cabarrus, and the fair Spaniard stood
on too high a pinncable of influence for false denunciations to touch
her. The Terrorist waited until Rateau had quietly slunk out by the
wicket door; then he turned on his heel and quickly went up the


In the vestibule on the top floor he called to Capitaine Boyer.

"Citizen Captain," he said at the top of his voice, "You remember that
to-morrow eve is the end of the third day?"

"Pardi!" the Captain retorted gruffly. "Is anything changed?"


"Then, unless by the eve of the fourth day that cursed Englishman is
not in our hands, my orders are the same."

"Your orders are," Chauvelin rejoined loudly, and pointed with grim
intention at the door behind which he felt Marguerite Blakeney to be
listening for every sound, "unless the English spy is in our hands on
the evening of the fourth day, to shoot your prisoner."

"It shall be done, citizen!" Captain Boyer gave reply.

Then he grinned maliciously, because from behind the closed door there
had come a sound like a quickly smothered cry.

After which, Chauvelin nodded to the Captain and once more descended
the stairs. A few seconds later he went out of the house into the
stormy night.


When the Storm Burst


Fortunately the storm only broke after the bulk of the audience was
inside the theatre. The performance was timed to commence at seven,
and a quarter of an hour before that time the citizens of Paris who
had come to applaud citoyenne Vestris, citoyen Talma, and their
colleagues, in Chnier's tragedy, Henri VIII, were in their seats.

The theatre in the Rue de Richelieu was crowded. Talma and Vestris had
always been great favourites with the public, and more so perhaps
since their secession from the old and reactionary Comdie Franaise.
Citizen Chnier's tragedy was in truth of a very poor order; but the
audience was not disposed to be critical, and there was quite an
excited hush in the house when citoyenne Vestris, in the part of "Anne
de Boulen," rolled off the meretricious verses:

 "Trop longtemps j'ai gard le silence;

 Le poids qui m'accablait tombe avec violence."

But little was heard of the storm which raged outside; only at times
the patter of the rain on the domed roof became unpleasantly apparent
as an inharmonious accompaniment to the declamation of the actors.

It was a brilliant evening, not only because citoyenne Vestris was in
magnificent form, but also because of the number of well-known people
who sat in the various boxed and in the parterre and who thronged the
foyer during the entr'actes.

It seemed as if the members of the Convention and those who sat upon
the Revolutionary Committees, as well as the more prominent speakers
in the various Clubs, had made a point of showing themselves to the
public, gay, unconcerned, interested in the stage and in the audience,
at this moment when every man's head was insecure upon his shoulders
and no man knew whether on reaching home he would not find a possee of
the National Guard waiting to convey him to the nearest prison.

Death indeed lurked everywhere.

The evening before, at a supper party given in the house of deputy
Barrre, a paper was said to have dropped out of Robespierre's coat
pocket, and been found by one of the guests. The paper contained
nothing but just forty names. What those names were the general public
did not know, nor for what purpose the dictator carried the list about
in his pocket; but during the representation of Henri VIII, the more
obscure citizens of Pairs--happy in their own insignificance--noted
that in the foyer during the entr'actes, citizen Tallien and his
friends appeared obsequious, whilst those who fawned upon Robespierre
were more than usually arrogant.


In one of the proscenium boxes, citizeness Cabarrus attracted a great
deal of attention. Indeed, her beauty to-night was in the opinion of
most men positively dazzling. Dressed with almost ostentatious
simplicity, she drew all eyes upon her by her merry, ringing laughter,
the ripple of conversation which flowed almost incessantly from her
lips, and the graceful, provocative gestures of her bare hands and
arms as she toyed with a miniature fan.

Indeed, Theresia Cabarrus was unusually light-hearted to-night.
Sitting during the first two acts of the tragedy in her box, in the
company of citizen Tallien, she became the cynosure of all eyes, proud
and happy when, during the third interval, she received the visit of

He only stayed with her a few moments, and kept himself concealed for
the most part at the back of the box; but he had been seen to enter,
and Theresia's exclamation, "Ah, citizen Robespierre! What a pleasant
surprise! 'Tis not often you grace the theatre with your presence!"
had been heard all over the house.

Indeed, with the exception of Eleonore Duplay, whose passionate
admiration he rather accepted than reciprocated, the incorruptible and
feline tyrant had never been known to pay attention to any woman.
Great therefore was Theresia's triumph. Visions of that grandeur which
she had always coveted and to which she had always felt herself
predestined, danced before her eyes; and remembering Chauvelin's
prophecies and Mother Thot's incantations, she allowed the dream-
picture of the magnificent English milor to fade slowly from her ken,
bidding it a reluctant adieu.

Though in her heart she still prayed for his deliverance--and did it
with a passionate earnestness--some impish demon would hover at her
elbow and repeat in her unwilling ear Chauvelin's inspired words:
"Bring the Scarlet Pimpernel to his knees at the chariot-wheel of
Robespierre, and the crown of the Bourbons will be yours for the
asking." And if, when she thought of that splendid head falling under
the guillotine, a pang of remorse and regret shot through her heart,
she turned with a seductive smile to the only man who could place that
crown at her feet. His popularity was still at its zenith. To-night,
whenever the audience caught sigh of him in the Cabarrus' box, a wild
cheer rang out from gallery to pit of the house. Then Theresia would
lean over to him and whisper insinuatingly:

"You can do anything with that crowd, citizen! You hold the people by
the magnetism of your presence and of your voice. There is no height
to which you cannot aspire."

"The greater the height," he murmured moodily, "the dizzier the

"'Tis on the summit you should gaze," she retorted; "not on the abyss

"I prefer to gaze into the loveliest eyes in Paris," he replied with a
clumsy attempt at gallantry; "and remain blind to the summits as well
as to the depths."

She tapped her daintily shod foot against the ground and gave an
impatient little sigh. It seemed as if at every turn of fortune she
was confronted with pusillanimity and indecision. Tallien fawning on
Robespierre; Robespierre afraid of Tallien; Chauvelin a prey to
nerves. How different to them all was that cool, self-possessed
Englishman with the easy good-humour and splendid self-assurance!

"I would make you Queen of France in all but name!" He said this as
easily, as unconcernedly as if he were promising an invitation to a

When, a moment or two later, Robespierre took leave of her and she was
left for a while alone with her thoughts, Theresia no longer tried to
brush away from her mental vision the picture on which her mind loved
to dwell. The tall, magnificent figure; the lazy, laughing eyes; the
slender hand that looked so firm and strong amidst the billows of
exquisite lace.

Ah, well! The dream was over! It would never come again. He himself
had wakened her; he himself had cast the die which must end his
splendid life, even at the hour when love and fortune smiled at him
through the lips and eyes of beautiful Cabarrus.

Fate, in the guise of the one man she could have loved, was throwing
Theresia into the arms of Robespierre.


The next moment she was rudely awakened from her dreams. The door of
her box was torn open by a violent hand, and turning, she saw Bertrand
Moncrif, hatless, with hair dishevelled, clothes dripping and mud-
stained, and linen soaked through. She was only just in time to arrest
with a peremptory gesture the cry which was obviously hovering on his

"Hush--sh--sh!" came at once from every portion of the audience,
angered by this disturbing noise.

Tallien jumped to his feet.

"What is it?" he demanded in a quick whisper.

"A perquisition," Moncrif replied hurriedly, "in the house of the

"Impossible!" she broke in harshly.

"Hush!... Silence!" the audience muttered audibly.

"I come from there," Moncrif murmured. "I have seen... heard..."

"Come outside," Theresia interjected. "We cannot talk here."

She led the way out, and Tallien and Moncrif followed.

The corridor fortunately was deserted. Only a couple of ouvreuses
stood gossiping in a corner. Theresia, white to the lips--but more
from anger than fear--dragged Moncrif with her to the foyer. Here
there was no one.

"Now, tell me!" she commanded.

Bertrand passed his trembling hand through his soaking hair. His
clothes were wet through. He was shaking from head to foot and
appeared to have run till now he could scarcely stand.

"Tell me!" Theresia reiterated impatiently.

Tallien stood by, half paralysed with terror. He did not question the
younger man, but gazed on him with compelling, horror-filled eyes, as
if he would wrench the words out of him before they reached his

"I was in the Rue Villedot," Moncrif stammered breathlessly at last,
"when the storm broke. I sough shelter under the portico of a house
opposite the citoyenne's lodgings.... I was there a long time. Then
the storm subsided.... Men in uniform came along.... They were
soldiers of the National Guard... I could see that, though the street
was pitch-dark.... They passed quite close to me.... They were talking
of the citoyenne.... Then they crossed over to her lodgings.... I saw
them enter the house.... I saw citizen Chauvelin in the doorway.... He
chided them for being late.... There was a captain, and there were six
soldiers, and that asthmatic coalheaver was with them."

"What!" Theresia exclaimed. "Rateau?"

"What in Satan's name does it all mean?" Tallien exclaimed with a
savage curse.

"They went into the house," Moncrif went on, his voice rasping through
his parched throat. "I followed at a little distance, to make quite
sure before I came to warn you. Fortunately I knew where you were...
fortunately I always know..."

"You are sure they went up to my rooms?" Theresia broke in quickly.

"Yes. Two minutes later I saw a light in your apartment."

She turned abruptly to Tallien.

"My cloak!" she commanded. "I left it in the box."

He tried to protest.

"I am going," she rejoined firmly. "This is some ghastly mistake, for
which that fiend Chauvelin shall answer with his life. My cloak!"

It was Bertrand who went back for the cloak and wrapped her in it. He
knew--none better--that if his divinity desire to go, no power on
earth would keep her back. She did not appear in the least afraid, but
her wrath was terrible to see, and boded ill to those who had dared
provoke it. Indeed, Theresia, flushed with her recent triumph and with
Robespierre's rare if clumsy gallantries still ringing in her ear,
felt ready to dare anything, to brave anyone--even Chauvelin and his
threats. She even succeeded in reassuring Tallien, ordered him to
remain in the theatre, and to show himself to the public as utterly

"In case a rumour of this outrage penetrates to the audience," she
said, "you must appear to make light of it.... Nay! you must at once
threaten reprisals against its perpetrators."

Then she wrapped her cloak about her and, taking Bertrand's arm, she
hurried out of the theatre.


Our Lady of Pity


It was like an outraged divinity in the face of sacrilege that
Theresia Cabarrus appeared in the antechamber of her apartment, ten
minutes later.

Her rooms were full of men; sentries were at the door; the furniture
was overturned, the upholstery ripped up, cupboard doors swung open;
even her bed and bedding lay in a tangled heap upon the floor. The
lights in the rooms were dim, one single lamp shedding its feeble rays
from the antechamber into the living-room, whilst another flickered on
a wall-bracket in the passage. In the bedroom the maid Pepita, guarded
by a soldier, was loudly lamenting and cursing in voluble Spanish.

Citizen Chauvelin was standing in the centre of the living-room,
intent on examining some papers. In a corner of the antechamber
cowered the ungainly figure of Rateau the coalheaver.

Theresia took in the whole tragic picture at a glance; then with a
proud, defiant toss of the head she swept past the soldiers in the
antechamber and confronted Chauvelin, before he had time to notice her

"Something has turned your brain, citizen Chauvelin," she said coolly.
"What is it?"

He looked up, encountered her furious glance, and at once made her a
profound, ironical bow.

"How wise was our young friend there to tell you of our visit,
citoyenne," he said suavely.

And he looked with mild approval in the direction where Bertrand
Moncrif stood between two soldiers, who had quickly barred his
progress and were holding him tightly by the wrists.

"I came," Theresia retorted harshly, "as the forerunner of those who
will know how to punish this outrage, citizen Chauvelin."

Once more he bowed, smiling blandly.

"I shall be as ready to receive them," he said quietly, "as I am
gratified to see the citoyenne Cabarrus. When they come, shall I
direct them to call and see their beautiful Egeria at the
Conciergerie, whither we shall have the honour to convey her

Theresia threw back her head and laughed; but her voice sounded hard
and forced.

"At the Conciergerie?" she exclaimed. "I?"

"Even you, citoyenne," Chauvelin replied.

"On what charge, I pray you?" she demanded, with biting sarcasm.

"Of trafficking with the enemies of the Republic."

She shrugged her shoulders.

"You are mad, citizen Chauvelin!" she riposted with perfect sang-
froid. "I pray you, order your men to re-establish order to my
apartment; and remember that I will hold you responsible for any
damage that has been done."

"Shall I also," Chauvelin rejoined with equally perfect equanimity,
"replace these letters and other interesting objects, there where we
found them?"

"Letters?" she retorted, frowning. "What letters?"

"These, citoyenne," he replied, and held up to her gaze the papers
which he had in his hand.

"What are they? I have never seen them before."

"Nevertheless, we found them in that bureau." And Chauvelin pointed to
a small piece of furniture which stood against the wall, and the
drawers of which had obviously been forcibly torn open. Then as
Theresia remained silent, apparently ununderstanding, he went on
suavely: "They are letters written at different times to Mme de
Fontenay, ne Cabarrus--Our Lady of Pity, as she was called by
grateful Bordeaux."

"By whom?" she asked.

"By the interesting hero of romance who is known to the world as the
Scarlet Pimpernel."

"It is false!" she retorted firmly. "I have never received a letter
from him in my life!"

"His handwriting is all too familiar to me, citoyenne; and the letters
are addressed to you."

"It is false!" she reiterated with unabated firmness. "This is some
devilish trick you have devised in order to ruin me. But take care,
citizen Chauvelin, take care! If this is a trial of strength 'twixt
you and me, the next few hours will show who will gain the day."

"If it were a trail of strength 'twixt you and me, citoyenne," he
rejoined blandly, "I would already be a vanquished man. But it is
France this time who has challenged a traitor. That traitor is
Theresia Fontenay, ne Cabarrus. The trial of strength is between her
and France."

"You are mad, citizen Chauvelin! If there were letters writ by the
Scarlet Pimpernel found in my rooms, 'tis you who put them there!"

"That statement you will be at liberty to substantiate to-morrow,
citoyenne," he retorted coldly, "at the bar of the revolutionary
tribunal. There, no doubt, you can explain away how citizen Rateau
knew of the existence of those letters, and led me straight to their
discovery. I have an officer of the National Guard, the commissary of
the section, and half a dozen men, to prove the truth of what I say,
and to add that in a wall-cupboard in your antechamber we also found
this interesting collection, the use of which you, citoyenne, will no
doubt be able to explain."

He stepped aside and pointed to a curious heap which littered the
floor--rags for the most part: a tattered shirt, frayed breeches, a
grimy cap, a wig made up of lank, colourless hair, the counterpart of
that which adorned the head of the coalheaver Rateau.

Theresia looked on those rags for a moment in a kind of horrified
puzzlement. Her cheeks and lips became the colour of ashes. She put
her hand up to her forehead, as if to chase a hideous, ghoulish vision
away, and smothered a cry of horror. Puzzlement had given place to a
kind of superstitious dread. The room, the rags, the faces of the
soldiers began to whirl around her--impish shapes to dance a wild
saraband before her eyes. And in the midst of this witch's cauldron
the figure of Chauvelin, like a weird hobgoblin, was executing elf-
like contortions and brandishing a packet of letters writ upon scarlet

She tried to laugh, to speak defiant words; but her throat felt as if
it were held in a vice, and losing momentary consciousness she
tottered, and only saved herself from measuring her length upon the
floor by clinging with both hands to a a table immediately behind her.

As to what happened after that, she only had a blurred impression.
Chauvelin gave a curt word of command, and a couple of soldiers came
and stood to right and left of her. Then a piercing cry rang through
the narrow rooms, and she saw Bertrand Moncrif for one moment between
herself and the soldiers, fighting desperately, shielding her with his
body, tearing and raging like a wild animal defending its young. The
whole room appeared full of deafening noise: cries and more cries--
words of command--calls of rage and of entreaty. Then suddenly the
word "Fire!" and the detonation of a pistol at close range, and the
body of Bertrand Moncrif sliding down lip and impotent to the floor.

After that, everything became dark around her. Theresia felt as if she
were looking down an immeasurable abyss of inky blackness, and that
she was falling, falling....

A thin, dry laugh brought her back to her senses, her pride to the
fore, her vanity up in arms. She drew her statuesque figure up to its
full height and once more confronted Chauvelin like an august and
outraged divinity.

"And at whose word," she demanded, "is this monstrous charge to be
brought against me?"

"At the word of a free citizen of the State," Chauvelin replied

"Bring him before me."

Chauvelin shrugged his shoulders and smiled indulgently, like one who
is ready to humour a wayward child.

"Citizen Rateau!" he called.

From the anteroom there came the sound of much shuffling, spluttering,
and wheezing; then the dull clatter of wooden shoes upon the carpeted
floor; and presently the ungainly, grime-covered figure of the
coalheaver appeared in the doorway.

Theresia looked on him for a few seconds in silence, then she gave a
ringing laugh, and with exquisite bare arm outstretched she pointed to
the scrubby apparition.

"That man's word against mine!" she called, with well-assumed mockery.
"Rateau, the caitiff against Theresia Cabarrus, the intimate friend of
citizen Robespierre! What a subject for a lampoon!"

Then her laughter broke. She turned once more on Chauvelin like an
angry goddess.

"That vermin!" she exclaimed, her voice hoarse with indignation. "That
sorry knave with a felon's brand! In truth, citizen Chauvelin, your
spite must be hard put to it to bring up such a witness against me!"

Then suddenly her glance fell upon the lifeless body of Bertrand
Moncrif, and on the horrible crimson stain which discoloured his coat.
She gave a shudder of horror, and for a moment her eyes closed and her
head fell back, as if she were about to swoon. But she quickly
recovered herself. Her will-power at this moment was unconquerable.
She looked with unutterable contempt on Chauvelin; then she raised her
cloak, which had slipped down from her shoulders, and wrapped it with
a queen-like gesture around her, and without another word led the way
out of the apartment.

Chauvelin remained standing in the middle of the room, his face quite
expressionless, his clawlike hands still fingering the fateful
letters. Two soldiers remained with him beside the body of Bertrand
Moncrif. The maid Pepita, still shrieking and gesticulating violently,
had to be dragged away in the wake of her mistress.

In the doorway between the living-room and the antechamber, Rateau,
humble, snivelling, more than a little frightened, stood aside in
order to allow the guard and their imperious prisoner to pass.
Theresia did not condescend to look at him again; and he, shuffling
and stumbling in his clumsy wooden shoes, followed the soldiers down
the stairs.


It was still raining hard. The captain who was in charge of Theresia
told her that he had a chaise ready for her. It was waiting out in the
street. Theresia ordered him to send for it; she would not, she said,
offer herself as a spectacle to the riff-raff who happened to be
passing by. The captain had probably received orders to humour the
prisoner as far as was compatible with safety. Certain it is that he
sent one of his men to fetch the coach and to order the concierge to
throw open the porte-cochre.

Theresia remained standing in the narrow vestibule at the foot of the
stairs. Two soldiers stood on guard over the maid, whilst another
stood beside Theresia. The captain, muttering with impatience, paced
up and down the stone-paved floor. Rateau had paused on the stairs, a
step or two just above where Theresia was standing. On the wall
opposite, supported by an iron bracket, a smoky oil-lamp shed a
feeble, yellowish flicker around.

A few minutes went by; then a loud clatter woke the echoes of the
dreary old house, and a coach drawn by two ancient, half-starved nags,
lumbered into the courtyard and came to a halt in front of the open
doorway. The captain gave a sigh of relief, and called out: "Now then,
citoyenne!" whilst the soldier who had gone to fetch the coach jumped
down from the box-seat and, with his comrades, stood at attention. The
maid was summarily bundled into the coach, and Theresia was ready to

Just then the draught through the open door blew her velvet cloak
against the filthy rags of the miserable ruffian behind her. An
unexplainable impulse caused her to look up, and she encountered his
eyes fixed upon her. A dull cry rose to her throat, and instinctively
she put up her hand to her mouth, striving to smother the sound.
Horror dilated her eyes, and through her lips one word escaped like a
hoarse murmur:


He put a grimy finger to his lips. But already she had recovered
herself. Here then was the explanation of the mystery which surrounded
this monstrous denunciation. The English milor had planned it as
revenge for the injury done to his wife.

"Captain!" she cried out shrilly. "Beware! The English spy is at your

But apparently the captain's complaisance did not go to the length of
listening to the ravings of his fair prisoner. He was impatient to get
this unpleasant business over.

"Now then, citoyenne!" was his gruff retort. "En voiture!"

"You fool!" she cried, bracing herself against the grip of the
soldiers who were on the point of seizing her. "'Tis the Scarlet
Pimpernel! If you let him escape-"

"The Scarlet Pimpernel?" the Captain retorted with a laugh. "Where?"

"The coalheaver! Rateau! 'Tis he, I tell you!" And Theresia's cries
became more frantic as she felt herself unceremoniously lifted off the
ground. "You fool! You fool! You are letter him escape!"

"Rateau, the coalheaver?" the captain exclaimed. "We have heard that
pretty story before. Here, citizen Rateau!" he went on, and shouted at
the top of his voice. "Go and report yourself to citizen Chauvelin.
Tell him you are the Scarlet Pimpernel! As for you, citoyenne, enough
of this shouting--what? My orders are to take you to the Conciergerie,
and not to run after spies--English, German, or Dutch. Now then,
citizen soldiers!..."

Theresia, throwing her dignity to the winds, did indeed raise a shout
that brought the other lodgers of the house to their door. But her
screams had become inarticulate, as the soldiers, in obedience to the
captains impatient orders, had wrapped her cloak about her head. Thus
the inhabitants of the dreary old house in the Rue Villedot could only
ascertain that the citoyenne Cabarrus who lodged on the third floor
had been taken to prison, screaming and fighting, in a manner that no
self-respecting aristo had ever done.

Theresia Cabarrus was ignominiously lifted into the coach and
deposited by the side of equally noisy Pepita. Through the folds of
the cloak her reiterated cry could still faintly be heard:

"You fool! You traitor! You cursed, miserable fool!"

One of the lodgers on the second floor--a young woman who was on good
terms with every male creature that wore uniform--leaned over the
balustrade of the balcony and shouted gaily down:

"Hey, citizen captain! Why is the aristo screaming so?"

One of the soldiers looked up, and shouted back:

"She has hold of the story that citizen Rateau is an English milor in
disguise, and she wants to run after him!"

Loud laughter greeted this tale, and a lusty cheer was set up as the
coach swung clumsily out of the courtyard.

A moment or two later, Chauvelin, followed by the two soldiers, came
quickly down the stairs. The noise from below had at last reached his
ears. At first he too through that it was only the proud Spaniard who
was throwing her dignity to the winds. Then a word or two sounded
clearly above the din:

"The Scarlet Pimpernel! The English spy!"

The words acted like a sorcerer's charm--a call from the vasty deep.
In an instant the rest of the world ceased to have any importance in
his sight. One thing and one alone mattered; his enemy.

Calling to the soldiers to follow him, he was out of the apartment and
down in the vestibule below in a trice. The coach at that moment was
turning out of the porte-cochre. The courtyard, wrapped in gloom, was
alive with chattering and laughter which proceeded from the windows
and balconies around. It was raining fast, and from the balconies the
water was pouring down in torrents.

Chauvelin stood in the doorway and sent one of the soldiers to
ascertain what the disturbance had all been about. The man returned
with an account of how the aristo had screamed and raved like a mad-
woman, and tried to escape by sending the citizen captain on a fool's
errand, vowing that poor old Rateau was an English spy in disguise.

Chauvelin gave a sigh of relief. He certainly need not rack his nerves
or break his head over that! He had good cause to know that Rateau,
with the branded arm, could not possibly be the Scarlet Pimpernel!


Grey Dawn


Ten minutes later the courtyard and approach of the old house in the
Rue Villedot were once more wrapped in silence and in darkness.
Chauvelin had with his own hands affixed the official seals on the
doors which led to the apartments of citoyenne Cabarrus. In the living
room, the body of the unfortunate Moncrif still lay uncovered and
unwatched, awaiting what hasty burial the commissary of the section
would be pleased to order for it. Chauvelin dismissed the soldiers at
the door, and himself went his way.

The storm was gradually dying away. By the time that the audience
filed out of the theatre, it was scarcely raining. Only from afar,
dull rumblings of thunder could still faintly be heard. Citizen
Tallien hurried along on foot to the Rue Villedot. The last hour had
been positive torture for him. Although his reason told him that no
man would be fool enough to trump up an accusation against Theresia
Cabarrus, who was the friend, the Egeria of every influential man in
the Convention or the Clubs, and that she herself had always been far
too prudent to allow herself to be compromised in any way--although he
knew all that, his overwrought fancy conjured up vision which made him
sick with dread. His Theresia in the hands of rough soldiery--dragged
to prison--he himself unable to ascertain what had become of her--
until he saw her at the bar of that awful tribunal, from which there
was no issue save the guillotine!

And with this dread came unendurable, gnawing remorse. He himself was
one of the men who had helped to set up the machinery of wild
accusations, monstrous tribunals and wholesale condemnations which had
been set in motion now by an unknown hand against the woman he loved.
He--Tallien--the ardent lover, the future husband of Theresia, had
aided in the constitution of that abominable Revolutionary Committee,
which could strike at the innocent as readily and as ruthlessly as at
the guilty.

Indeed at this hour, this man, who long since had forgotten how to
pray, when he heard the tower-clock of a neighbouring church striking
the hour, turned his eyes that were blurred with tears towards the
sacred edifice which he had helped to desecrate, and found in his
heart a half-remembered prayer which he murmured to the Fount of all
Mercy and of Pardon.


Citizen Tallien turned into the Rue Villedot, the street where lodged
his beloved. A minute or so later, he was making his way up the back
staircase of the dingy house where his divinity had dwelt until now.
On the second-floor landing two women stood gossiping. One of them
recognized the influential Representative.

"It is citizen Tallien," she said.

And the other woman at once volunteered the information:

"They have arrested the citoyenne Cabarrus," she said; "and the
soldiers did not know whither they were taking her."

Tallien did not wait to listen further. He stumbled up the stairs to
the third floor, to the door which he knew so well. His trembling
fingers wandered over the painted panels. They encountered the
official seals, which told their own mute tale.

The whole thing, then, was not a dream. Those assassins had taken his
Theresia and dragged her to prison, would drag her on the morrow to an
outrageous mockery of a tribunal first, and then to death! Who shall
say what wild thoughts of retrospection and of remorse coursed through
the brain of this man--himself one of the makers of a bloody
revolution? What visions of past ideals, good intentions, of honest
purpose and incessant labour, passed before his mind? That glorious
revolution, which was to mark the regeneration of mankind, which was
to have given liberty to the oppressed, equality to the meek,
fraternity in one vast human family! And what did it lead to but to
oppression far more cruel than all that had gone before, to fratricide
and to arrogance on the one side, servility on the other, to constant
terror of death, to discouragement and sloth?

For hours citizen Tallien sat in the dark, on the staircase outside
Theresia's door, his head buried in his hands. The grey dawn, living
and chill, which came peeping in through the skylight overhead, found
him still sitting there, stiff and numb with cold.

Whether what happened after that was part of a dream, he never knew.
Certain it is that presently something extraneous appeared to rouse
him. He sat up and listened, leaned his back against the wall, for he
was very tired. Then he heard--or thought he heard--firm, swift steps
on the stairs, and soon after saw the figure of two men coming up the
stairs. Both the men were very tall, one of them unusually so, and the
ghostly light of dawn made him appear unreal and mysterious. He was
dressed with marvellous elegance; his smooth, fair hair was tied at
the nape of the neck with a satin bow; soft, billowy lace gleamed at
his wrists and throat, and his hands were exquisitely white and
slender. Both the men wore huge coats of fine cloth, adorned with many
capes, and boots of fine leather, perfectly cut.

They paused on the vestibule outside the door of Theresia's apartment,
and appeared to be studying the official seals affixed upon the door.
Then one of them--the taller of the two--took a knife out of his
pocket and cut through the tapes which held the seals together. Then
together they stepped coolly into the apartment.

Tallien had watched them, dazed and fascinated. He was so numb and
weary that his tongue--just like it does in dreams--refused him
service when he tried to call. But now he struggled to his feet and
followed in the wake of the two mysterious strangers. With him, the
instinct of the official, the respect due to regulations and laws
framed by his colleagues and himself, had been to strong to allow him
to tamper with the seals, and there was something mysterious and
awesome about that tall figure of a man, dressed with supreme
elegance, whose slender, firm hands had so unconcernedly committed
this flagrant breach of the law. It did not occur to Tallien to call
for help. Somehow, the whole incident--the two men--were so ghostlike,
that he felt that at a word they would vanish into thin air.

He stepped cautiously into the familiar little antechamber. The
strangers had gone through to the living-room. One of them was
kneeling on the floor. Tallien, who knew nothing of the tragedy which
had been enacted inside the apartment of his beloved, marvelled what
the men were doing. He crept stealthily forward and craned his neck to
see. The window at the end of the room had been left unfastened. A
weird grey streak of light came peeping in and illumined the awesome
scene: the overturned furniture, the torn hangings; and on the ground,
the body of a man, with the stranger kneeling beside it.

Tallien, weary and dazed, always of a delicate constitution, felt nigh
to swooning. His knees were shaking, a cold dread of the supernatural
held his heart with an icy grip and caused his hair to tingle at the
roots. His tongue felt huge and as if paralysed, his teeth were
chattering together. It was as much as he could do not to measure his
length on the ground; and the vague desire to remain unobserved kept
him crouching in the gloom.

He just could see the tall stranger pass his hands over the body on
the floor, and could hear the other ask him a question in English.

A few moments went by. The strangers conversed in a low tone of voice.
From one or two words which came clearly to his ear, Tallien gathered
that they spoke in English--a language with which he himself was
familiar. The taller man of the two appeared to be giving his friend
some orders, which the latter promised to obey. Then, with utmost
precaution, he took the body in his arms and lifted it from the floor.

"Let me help you, Blakeney," the other said in a whisper.

"No, no!" the mysterious stranger replied quickly. "The poor worm is
as light as a feather! 'Tis better he died as he did. His unfortunate
infatuation was killing him."

"Poor little Rgine!" the younger man sighed.

"It is better so," his friend rejoined. "We'll be able to tell her
that he died nobly, and that we've given him Christian burial."

No wonder that Tallien thought that he was dreaming! These English
were strange folk indeed! Heaven alone knew what they risked by coming
here, at this hour, and into this house, in order to fetch away the
body of their friend. They certainly were wholly unconscious of

Tallien held his breath. He saw the splendid figure of the mysterious
adventurer step across the threshold, bearing the lifeless body in his
arms with as much ease as if he were carrying a child. The pale grey
light of morning was behind him, and his fine head with its smooth
fair hair was silhouetted against the neutual-tinted background. His
friend came immediately behind him.

In the dark antechamber he paused, and called abruptly:

"Citizen Tallien!"

A cry rose to Tallien's throat. He had thought himself entirely
unobserved, and the stranger a mere vision which he was watching in a
dream. Now he felt that compelling eyes were gazing straight at him,
piercing the darkness for a clearer sight of his face.

But the spell was still on him, and he only moved in order to
straighten himself out and to force his trembling knees to be still.

"They have taken the citoyenne Cabarrus to the Conciergerie," the
stranger went on simply. "To-morrow she will be charged before the
Revolutionary Tribunal..... You know what is the inevitable end-"

It seemed as if some subtle magic was in the man's voice, in his very
presence, in the glance wherewith he challenged that of the
unfortunate Tallien. The latter felt a wave of shame sweep over him.
There was something so splendid in these two men--exquisitely dressed,
and perfectly deliberate and cool in all their movements--who were
braving and daring death in order to give Christian burial to their
friend; whilst he, in face of the outrage put upon his beloved, had
only sat on her desecrated doorstep like a dumb animal pining for its
master. He felt a hot flush rush to his cheeks. With quick, nervy
movements he readjusted the set of his coat, passed his thin hands
over his rumpled hair; whilst the stranger reiterated with solemn

"You know what is the inevitable end.... The citoyenne Cabarrus will
be condemned...."

Tallien this time met the stranger's eyes fearlessly. It was the magic
of strength and of courage that flowed into him from them. He drew up
his meagre stature to its full height and threw up his head with an
air of defiance and of conscious power.

"Not while I live!" he said firmly.

"Theresia Cabarrus will be condemned to-morrow," the stranger went on
calmly. "Then the next day, the guillotine-"


"Inevitably!... Unless-"

"Unless what?" Tallien queried, and hung breathless on the man's lips
as he would on those of an oracle.

"Theresia Cabarrus, or Robespierre and his herd of assassins. Which
shall it be, citizen Tallien?"

"By Heaven!-" Tallien exclaimed forcefully.

But he got no further. The stranger, bearing his burden, had already
gone out of the room, closely followed by his friend.

Tallien was alone in the deserted apartment, where every broken piece
of furniture, every torn curtain, cried out for vengeance in the name
of his beloved. He said nothing. He neither protested nor swore. But
he tip-toed into the apartment and knelt down upon the floor close
beside the small sofa on which she was wont to sit. Here he remained
quite still for a minute or two, his eyes closed, his hands tightly
clasped together. Then he stooped very low and pressed his lips
against the spot where her pretty, sandalled foot was wont to rest.

After that he rose, strode with a firm step out of the apartment,
carefully closing the doors behind him.

The strangers had vanished into the night; and citizen Tallien went
quietly back to his own lodgings.


The Cataclysm


Forty names! Found on a list in the pocket of Robespierre's coat!

Forty names! And every one of these that of a known opponent of
Robespierre's schemes of dictatorship: Tallien, Barrre, Vadier,
Cambon, and the rest. Men powerful to-day, prominent Members of the
Convention, leaders of the people, too--but opponents!

The inference was obvious, the panic general. That night--it was the
8th Thermidor, July the 26th of the old calendar--men talked of
flight, of abject surrender, of appeal--save the mark!--to friendship,
camaraderie, humanity! Friendship, camaraderie, humanity? An appeal to
a heart of stone! They talked of everything, in face, save of defying
the tyrant; for such talk would have been folly.

Defying the tyrant? Ye gods! When with a word he could sway the
Convention, the Committees, the multitude, bend them to his will,
bring them to heel like any tamer of beasts when he cracks his whip?

So men talked and trembled. All night they talked and trembled; for
they did not sleep, those forty whose names were on Robespierre's
list. But Tallien, their chief, was nowhere to be found. 'Twas known
that his fiance, the beautiful Theresia Cabarrus, had been summarily
arrested. Since then he had disappeared; and they--the others--were
leaderless. But, even so, he was no loss. Tallien was ever
pusillanimous, a temporizer--what?

And now the hour for temporizing is past. Robespierre then is to be
dictator of France. He will be dictator of France, in spite of any
opposition led by those forty whose names are on his list! He will be
dictator of France! He has not said it; but his friends have shouted
it form the house-tops, and have murmured under their breath that
those who oppose Robespierre's dictatorship are traitors to the land.
Death then must be their fate.

When then, ye gods? What then?


And so the day broke--smiling, mark you! It was a beautiful warm July
morning. It broke on what is perhaps the most stupendous cataclysm--
save one--the world has ever known.

Behold the picture! A medley. A confusion. A whirl of everything that
is passionate and cruel, defiant and desperate. Heavens, how
desperate! Men who have thrown lives away as if lives were in truth
grains of sand; men who have juggled with death dealt it and tossed it
about like cards upon a gaming table. They are desperate now, because
their own lives are at stake; and they find now that life can be very

So, having greeted their leader, the forty draw together, watching the
moment when humility will be most opportune.

Robespierre mounts the tribune. The hour has struck. His speech is one
long, impassioned, involved tirade, full at first on vague accusations
against the enemies of the Republic and the people, and is full of
protestations of his own patriotism and selflessness. Then he warms to
his own oratory; his words are prophetic of death, his voice becomes
harsh--like a screech owl's, so we're told. His accusations are no
longer vague. He begins to strike.

Corruption! Backsliding! Treachery! Moderatism!--oh, moderatism above
all! Moderatism is treachery to the glorious revolution. Every victim
spared form the guillotine is a traitor let loose against the people!
A traitor, he who robs the guillotine of her prey! Robespierre stands
alone incorruptible, true, faithful unto death!

And for all that treachery, what remedy is there? Why, death of
course! Death! The guillotine! New power to the sovereign guillotine!
Death to all the traitors!

And seven hundred faces became paler still with dread, and the sweat
of terror rises on seven hundred brows. There were only forty names on
that list... but there might be others somewhere else!

And still the voice of Robespierre thunders on. His words fall of
seven hundred pairs of ears like on a sounding-board; his friends, his
sycophants, echo them; they applaud, rise in wild enthusiasm. 'Tis the
applause that is thundering now!

One of the tyrant's most abject slaves has put forward the motion that
the great speech just delivered shall forthwith be printed, and
distributed to every township, every village, throughout France, as a
monument to the lofty patriotism of her greatest citizen.

The motion at one moment looks as if it would be carried with
acclamations; after which, Robespierre's triumph would have risen to
the height of deification. Then suddenly the note of dissension; the
hush; the silence. The great Assembly is like a sounding-board that
has ceased to respond. Something had turned the acclamations to
mutterings, and then to silence. The sounding-board has given forth a
dissonance. Citizen Tallien has demanded "delay in printing that
speech," and asked pertinently:

"What has become of the Liberty of Opinion in this Convention?"

His face is the colour of ashes, and his eyes, ringed with purple,
gleam with an unnatural fire. The coward has become bold; the sheep
has donned the lion's skin.

There is a flutter in the Convention, a moment's hesitation. But the
question is put to the vote, and the speech is not to be printed. A
small matter, in truth--printing or not printing.... Does the Destiny
of France hang on so small a peg?

It is a small matter; and yet how full of portent! Like the breath of
mutiny blowing across a ship. But nothing more occurs just then.
Robespierre, lofty in his scorn, puts the notes of his speech into his
pocket. He does not condescend to argue. He, the master of France,
will not deign to bandy words with his slaves. And he stalks out of
the Hall surrounded by his friends.

There has been a breath of mutiny; but his is still the iron heel,
powerful enough to crush a raging revolt. His withdrawal--proud,
silent, menacing--is in keeping with his character and with the pose
which he has assumed of late. But he is still the Chosen of the
People; and the multitude is there, thronging the streets of Paris--
there, to avenge the insult put upon their idol by a pack of slinking


And now the picture becomes still more poignant. It is painted in
colours more vivid, more glowing than and again the Hall of the
Convention is crowded to the roof, with Tallien and his friends, in a
close phalanx, early at their post!

Tallien is there, pale, resolute, the fire of his hatred kept up by
anxiety for his beloved. The night before, at the corner of a dark
street, a surreptitious hand slipped a scrap of paper into the pocket
of his coat. It was a message written by Theresia in prison, and
written with her own blood. How it ever came into his pocket Tallien
never know; but the few impassioned, agonized words, seared his very
soul and whipped up his courage:

"The Commissary of Police has just left me," Theresia wrote. "He came
to tell me that to-morrow I must appear before the tribunal. This
means the guillotine. And I, who thought that you were a man....!"

Not only is his own head in peril, not only that of his friends; but
the life of the woman whom he worships hangs now upon the thread of
his own audacity and of his courage.

St. Just on this occasion is the first to mount the tribune; and
Robespierre, the very incarnation of lustful and deadly Vengeance,
stands silently by. He has spent the afternoon and evening with his
friends at the Jacobins' Club, where deafening applause greeted his
every word, and wild fury raged against his enemies.

It is then to be a fight to the finish To your tents, O Israel!

To the guillotine all those who have dared to say one word against the
Chosen of the People! St. Just shall thunder Vengeance from the
tribune at the Convention, whilst Henriot, the drunken and dissolute
Commandant of the Municipal Guard, shall, but the might of the sword
and fire, proclaim the sovereignty of Robespierre through the streets
of Paris. That is the picture as it has been painted in the minds of
the tyrant and of his sycophants: a picture of death paramount, and of
Robespierre rising like a new Phoenix from out the fire of calumny and
revolt, greater, more unassailable than before.

And lo! One sweep of the brush, and the picture is changed.

Ten minutes... less... and the whole course of the world's history is
altered. No sooner had St. Just mounted the tribune than Tallien
jumped to his feet. His voice, usually meek and cultured, rises in a
harsh crescendo, until it drowns that of the younger orator.

"Citizens," he exclaims, "I ask for truth! Let us tear aside the
curtain behind which lurk concealed the real conspirators and the

"Yes, yes! Truth! Let us have the truth!" One hundred voices--not
forty--have raised the echo.

The mutiny is on the verge of becoming open revolt, is that already,
perhaps. It is like a spark fallen--who knows where?--into a powder
magazine. Robespierre feels it, sees the spark. He knows that one
movement, one word, one plunge into that magazine, foredoomed though
it be to destruction, on stamp with a sure foot, may yet quench the
spark, may yet smother the mutiny. He rushes to the tribune, tries to
mount. But Tallien has forestalled him, elbows him out of the way, and
turns to the seven hundred with a cry that rings far beyond the Hall,
out into the streets.

"Citizens!" he thunders in his turn. "I begged of you just now to tear
aside the curtains behind which lurk the traitors. Well, the curtain
is already rent. And if you dare not strike at the tyrant now, then
'tis I who will dare!" And from beneath his coat he draws a dagger and
raises it above his head. "And I will plunge this into his heart," he
cries, "if you have not the courage to smite!"

His words, that gleaming bit of steal, fan the spark into a flame.
Within a few seconds, seven hundred voices are shouting, "Down with
the tyrant!" Arms are waving, hands gesticulate wildly, excitedly.
Only a very few shout: "Behold the dagger of Brutus!" All the others
retort with "Tyranny!" and "Conspiracy!" and with cries of "Vive la

At this hour all is confusion and deafening uproar. In vain
Robespierre tries to speak. He demands to speak. He hurls insults,
anathema, upon the President, who relentless refuses him speech and
jingles his bell against him.

"President of Assassins," the falling tyrant cries, "I demand speech
of thee!"

But the bell goes jingling on, and Robespierre, choked with rage and
terror, "turns blue" we are told, and his hand goes up to his throat.

"The blood of Danton chokes thee!" cries one man. And these words seem
like the last blow dealt to the fallen foe. The next moment the voice
of an obscure Deputy is raised, in order to speak the words that have
been hovering on every lip:

"I demand a decree of accusation against Robespierre!"

"Accusation!" comes from seven hundred throats. "The decree of

The President jingles his bell, puts the question, and the motion is
passed unanimously.

Maximilien Robespierre--erstwhile master of France--is decreed


The Whirlwind


It was then noon. Five minutes later, the Chosen of the People, the
fallen idol, is hustled out of the Hall into one of the Committee
rooms close by, and with his friends--St. Just, Couthon, Lebas, his
brother Augustin, and the others--all decreed accused and the order of
arrest launched against them. As for the rest, 'tis the work of the
Public Prosecutor--and of the guillotine.

At five o'clock the Convention adjourns. The deputies have earned food
and rest. They rush to their homes, there to relate what has happened;
Tallien to the Conciergerie, to get a sight of Theresia. This is
denied him. He is not dictator yet; and Robespierre, though apparently
vanquished, still dominates--and lives.

But from every church steeple the tocsin bursts; and a prolonged roll
of drums ushers in the momentous evening.

In the city all is hopeless confusion. Men are running in every
direction, shouting, brandishing pistols and swords. Henriot,
Commandant of the Municipal Guard, rides through the streets at the
head of his gendarmes like one possessed, bent on delivering
Robespierre. Women and children fly screaming in every direction; the
churches, so long deserted, are packed with people who, terror-
stricken, are trying to remember long-forgotton prayers.

Proclamations are read at street corners; there are rumours of a
general massacre of all the prisoners. At one moment--the usual hour--
the familiar tumbril with its load of victims for the guillotine
rattles along the cobblestones of the Rue St. Antoine. The populace,
vaguely conscious of something stupendous in the air--even though the
decree of accusation against Robespierre has not yet transpired--
loudly demand the release of the victims. They surround the tumbrils,
crying, "Let them be free!"

But Henriot at the head of his gendarmes comes riding down the street,
and while the populace shouts, "It shall not be! Let them be free!" he
threatens with pistols and sabre, and retorts, bellowing: "It shall
be! To the guillotine!" And the tumbrils, which for a moment had
halted, lumber on, on their way.


Up in the attic of the lonely house in the Rue de la Planchette,
Marguerite Blakeney heard but a mere faint echo of the confusion and
of the uproar.

During the previous long, sultry afternoon, it had seemed to her as if
her jailers had been unwontedly agitated. There was much more moving
to and fro on the landing outside her door than there had been in the
last three days. Men talked, mostly in whispers; but at times a word,
a phrase here and there, a voice raised above the others, reached her
straining ears. She glued her ear tot he keyhole and listened; but
what she heard was all confusion, sentences that conveyed but little
meaning to her. She distinguished the voice of the Captain of the
Guard. He appeared impatient about something, and talked about
"missing all the fun." The other soldiers seemed to agree with him.
Obviously they were all drinking heavily, for their voices sounded
hoarse and thick, and often would break into bibulous song. From time
to time, too, she would hear the patter of wooden shoes, together with
a wheezy cough, as from a man troubled with asthma.

But it was all very vague, for her nerves by this time were on the
rack. She had lost count of time, of place; she knew nothing. She was
unable even to think. All her instincts were merged in the dead of
that silent evening hour, when Chauvelin's furtive footsteps would
once more resound upon the stone floor outside her door, when she
would hear the quick word of command that heralded his approach, the
grounding of arms, the sharp query and quick answer, and when she
would feel again the presence of the relentless enemy who lay in wait
to trap her beloved.

At one moment that evening he had raised his voice, obviously so that
she might hear.

"To-morrow is the fourth day, citizen Captain," she had heard him say.
"I may not be able to come."

"Then," the voice of the Captain had said in reply, "if the Englishman
is not here by seven o'clock-"

Chauvelin had given a harsh, dry laugh, and retorted:

"Your orders are as they were, citizen. But I think that the
Englishman will come."

What it all meant Marguerite could not fail to conjecture. It meant
death to her or to her husband--to both, in fact. And all to-day she
had sat by the open window, her hands clasped in silent, constant
prayer, her eyes fixed upon the horizon far away, longing with all her
might for one last sight of her beloved, fighting against despair,
striving for trust in him and for hope.


At this hour, the centre of interest is the Place de l'Htel de Ville,
where Robespierre and his friends sit entrenched and--for the moment--
safe. The prisons have refused one by one to close their gates upon
the Chosen of the People; governors and jailers alike have quaked in
the face of so monstrous a sacrilege. And the same gendarmes who have
been told off to escort the fallen tyrant to his penultimate resting-
place, have had a touch of the same kind of scruple--or dread--and at
his command have conveyed him to the Htel de Ville.

In vain does the Convention hastily reassemble. In vain--apparently--
does Tallien demand that the traitor Robespierre and his friends be
put outside the pale of the law. They are for the moment safe,
redacting proclamations, sending out messengers in every direction;
whilst Henriot and his gendarmes, having struck terror in the hearts
of all peaceable citizens, hold the place outside the Town Hall and
proclaim Robespierre dictator of France.

The sun sinks towards the west behind a veil of mist. Ferment and
confusion are at their height. All around the city there is an
invisible barrier that seems to confine agitation within it's walls.
Outside this barrier, no one knows what is happening. Only a vague
dread has filtrated through and gripped every heart. The guard at the
several gates appear slack and undisciplined. Sentries are accosted by
passers-by, eager for news. And, from time to time, from every
direction, troops of the Municipal gendarmes ride furiously by, with
shouts of "Robespierre! Robespierre! Death to the traitors! Long live

They raise a cloud of dust around them, trample unheedingly over every
obstacle, human or otherwise, that happens to be in their way. They
threaten peaceable citizens with their pistols and strike and women
and children with the flat of their sabres.

As soon as they have gone by, excited groups close up in their wake.

"Name of a name, what is happening?" every one queries in affright.

And gossip, conjectures, rumours, hold undisputed sway.

"Robespierre is dictator of France!"

"He has ordered the arrest of all the Members of the Convention."

"And the massacre of all the prisoners."

"Pardi, a wise decree! As for me, I am sick of the eternal tumbrils
and the guillotine!"

"Better finish with the lot, say I!"

"Robespierre! Robespierre!" comes as a far-off echo, to the
accompaniment of thundering hoofs upon the cobble-stones.

And so, from mouth to mouth! The meek and the peace-loving magnify
these rumours into approaching cataclysm; the opportunists hold their
tongue, ready to fall in with this party or that; the cowards lie in
hiding and shout "Robespierre!" with Henriot's horde or "Tallien!" in
the neighbourhood of the Tuileries.

Here the Convention has reassembled, and here they are threatened
presently by Henriot and his artillery. The members of the great
Assembly remain at their post. The President has harangued them.

"Citizen deputies!" he calls aloud. "The moment has come to die at our

As they sit waiting for Henriot's cannonade, and calmly decree all the
rebels "outside the pale of the law."

Tallien, moved by a spirit of lofty courage, goes, followed by a few
intimates, to meet Henriot's gunners boldly face to face.

"Citizen soldiers!" he calls aloud, and his voice has the resonance of
undaunted courage. "After covering yourselves with glory on the fields
of honour, are you going to disgrace your country?" He points a
scornful finger at Henriot who, bloated, purple in the face, grunting
and spluttering like an old seal, is reeling in his saddle. "Look at
him, citizen soldiers!" Tallien commands. "He is drunk and besotted!
What man is there who, being sober, would dare to order fire against
the representatives of the people?"

The gunners are moved, frightened too by the decree which has placed
them "outside the pale of the law." Henriot, fearing mutiny if he
persisted in the monstrous order to fire, withdraws his troops back to
the Htel de Ville.

Some follow him; some do not. And Tallien goes back to the Hall of the
Convention covered with glory.

Citizen Barras is promoted Commandant of the National Guard and of al
forces at the disposal of the Convention, and ordered to recruit loyal
troops that will stand up to the traitor Henriot and his ruffianly
gendarmes. The latter are in open revolt against the Government; but,
name of a name! Citizen Barras, with a few hundred patriots, will soon
put reason--and a few charges of gun-powder--into them!


So, at five o'clock in the afternoon, whilst Henriot has once more
collected his gendarmes and the remnants of his artillery outside the
Htel de Ville, citizen Barras, accompanied by two aides-de-camp, goes
forth on his recruiting mission. He makes the round of the city gates,
wishing to find out what loyal soldiers amongst the National Guard the
Convention can rely upon.

Chauvelin, on his way to the Rue de la Planchette, meets Barras at the
Porte St. Antoine; and Barras is full of the news.

"Why were you not at your place at the Assembly, citizen Chauvelin?"
he asks of his colleague. "It was the grandest moment I have ever
witnessed! Tallien was superb, and Robespierre ignoble! And if we
succeed in crushing that bloodthirsty monster once and for all, it
will be a new era of civilization and liberty!"

He halts, and continues with a fretful sigh:

"But we want soldiers--loyal soldiers! All the troops that we can get!
Henriot has the whole of the Municipal Gendarmerie at his command,
with muskets and guns; and Robespierre can always sway that rabble
with a word. We want men!... Men!..."

But Chauvelin is in no mood to listen. Robespierre's fall or his
triumph, what are they to him at this hour, when the curtain is about
to fall on the final act of his own stupendous drama of revenge?
Whatever happens, whoever remains in power, vengeance is his! The
English spy in any event is sure of the guillotine. He is not the
enemy of a party, but of the people of France. And the sovereignty of
the people is not in question yet. Then, what matters if the wild
beasts in the Convention are at one another's throat?

So Chauvelin listens unmoved to Barras' passionate tirades, and when
the latter, puzzle at his colleague's indifference, reiterates

"I must have all the troops I can get. You have some capable soldiers
at your command always, citizen Chauvelin. Where are they now?"

Chauvelin retorts drily:

"At work. On business at least as important as taking side in a
quarrel between Robespierre and Tallien."

"Pardi!..." Barras protests hotly.

But Chauvelin pays no further attention to him. A neighbouring church
clock has just struck six. Within the hour and his arch enemy will be
in his hands! Never for a moment does he doubt that the bold
adventurer will come to the lonely house in the Rue de la Planchette.
Even hating the Englishman as he does, he knows that the latter would
not endanger his wife's safety by securing his own.

So Chauvelin turns on his heel, leaving Barras to fume and to
threaten. At the angle of the Porte St. Antoine, he stumbles against
and nearly knocks over a man who sits on the ground, with his back to
the wall, munching a straw, his knees drawn up to his nose, a crimson
cap pulled over his eyes, and his two long arms encircling his shins.

Chauvelin swore impatiently. His nerves were on the rack, and he was
in no pleasant mood. The man, taken unawares, had uttered an oath,
which died away in a racking fit of coughing. Chauvelin looked town,
and saw the one long arm branded with the letter "M," the flesh still
swollen and purple with the fire of the searing iron.

"Rateau!" he ejaculated roughly. "What are you doing here?"

Meek and servile, Rateau struggled with some difficulty to his feet.

"I have finished my work at Mother Thot's, citizen," he said humbly.
"I was resting."

Chauvelin kicked at him with the toe of his boot.

"Then go and rest elsewhere," he muttered. "The gates of the city are
not refuges for vagabonds."

After which act of unnecessary brutality, his temper momentarily
soothed, he turned on his heel and walked rapidly through the gate.

Barras had stood by during this brief interlude, vaguely interested in
the little scene. But now, when the coalheaver lurched past him, one
of his aides-de-camp remarked audibly:

"An unpleasant customer, citizen Chauvelin! Eh, friend?"

"I believe you!" Rateau replied readily enough. Then, with the mulish
persistence of a gabby who is smarting under a wrong, he thrust out
his branded arm right under citizen Barras' nose. "See what he has
done to me!"

Barras frowned.

"A convict, what? Then, how is it you are at large?"

"I am not a convict," Rateau protested with sullen emphasis. "I am an
innocent man, and a free citizen of the Republic. But I got in citizen
Chauvelin's way, what? He is always full of schemes-"

"You are right there!" Barras retorted grimly. But the subject was not
sufficiently interesting to engross his attention further. He had so
many and such momentous things to do. Already he had nodded to his men
and turned his back on the grimy coalheaver, who, shaken by a fit of
coughing, unable to speak for the moment, had put out his grimy hand
and gripped the deputy firmly by the sleeve.

"What is it now?" Barras ejaculated roughly.

"If you will but listen, citizen," Rateau wheezed painfully, "I can
tell you-"


"You were asking citizen Chauvelin where you could find some soldiers
of the Republic to do you service."

"Yes; I did."

"Well," Rateau rejoined, and an expression of malicious cunning
distorted his ugly face. "I can tell you."

"What do you mean?"

"I lodge in an empty warehouse over yonder," Rateau went on eagerly,
and pointed in the direction where Chauvelin's spare figure had
disappeared a while ago. "The floor above is inhabited by Mother
Thot, the witch. You know her, citizen?"

"Yes, yes! I thought she had been sent to the guillotine along with-"

"She was let out of prison, and has been doing some of citizen
Chauvelin's spying for him."

Barras frowned. This was none of his business, and the dirty
coalheaver inspired him with an unpleasant sense of loathing.

"To the point, citizen!" he said curtly.

"Citizen Chauvelin has a dozen or more soldiers under his command, in
that house," Rateau went on with a leer. "They are trained troops of
the National Guard-"

"How do you know?" Barras broke in harshly.

"Pardi!" was the coalheaver's dry reply. "I clean their boots for

"Where is the house?"

"In the Rue de la Planchette. But there is an entrance into the
warehouse at the back of it."

"Allons!" was Barras' curt word of command, to the two men who
accompanied him.

He strode up the street toward the gate, not caring whether Rateau
came along or no. But the coalheaver followed in the wake of the three
men. He had buried his grimy fists once more in the pocket of his
tattered breeches; but not before he had shaken them, each in turn, in
the direction of the Rue de la Planchette.


Chauvelin in the meanwhile had turned into Mother Thot's house, and
without speaking to the old charlatan, who was watching for him in the
vestibule, he mounted to the top floor. Here he called peremptorily to
Captain Boyer.

"There is half an hour yet," the latter murmured gruffly; "and I am
sick of all this waiting! Let me finish with that cursed aristo in
there. My comrades and I want to see what is going on in the city, and
join in the fun, if there is any."

"Half an hour, citizen," Chauvelin rejoined drily. "You'll lose little
of the fun, and you'll certainly lose your share of the ten thousand
livres if you shoot the woman and fail to capture the Scarlet

"Bah! He'll not come now," Boyer riposted. "It is too late. He is
looking after his own skin, pardi!"

"He will come, I swear!" Chauvelin said firmly, as if in answer to his
own thoughts.

Inside the room, Marguerite has heard every word of this colloquy. Its
meaning is clear enough. Clear and horrible! Death awaits her at the
hands of those abominable ruffians--here--within half an hour--
unless... Her thoughts are becoming confused; she cannot concentrate.
Frightened? No, she is not frightened. She has looked death in the
face before now. That time in Boulogne. And there are worse things
than death.... There is, for instance, the fear that she might never
see her husband again... in this life.... There is only half an hour
or less than that... and... and he might not come.... She prays that
he might not come. But, if he does, then what chance has he? My God,
what chance?

And her tortured mind conjures up visions of his courage, his
coolness, his amazing audacity and luck.... She thinks and thinks...
if he does not come... and if he does....

A distant church clock strikes the half-hour... a short half-hour

The evening is sultry. Another storm is threatening, and the sun has
tinged the heat-mist with red. The air smells foul, as in the midst of
a huge, perspiring crowd. And through the heat, the lull, above the
hideous sounds of those ruffians outside her door, there is a rumbling
noise as of distant, unceasing thunder. The city is in travail.

Then suddenly Boyer, the Captain of the ruffians, exclaims loudly:

"Let me finish with the aristo, citizen Chauvelin! I want to join in
the fun."

And the door of her room is torn open by a savage, violent hand.

The window behind Marguerite is open, and she, facing the door, clings
with both hands to the sill. Her cheeks bloodless, her eyes glowing,
her head erect, she waits, praying with all her might for courage...
only courage.

The ruffianly captain, in his tattered, mud-stained uniform, stands in
the doorway--for one moment only. The next, Chauvelin has elbowed him
out of the way, and in his turn faces the prisoner--the innocent woman
whom he has pursued with such relentless hatred. Marguerite prays with
all her might, and does not flinch. Not for one second. Death stands
there before her in the guise of this man's vengeful lust, which
gleams in his pale eyes. Death is there waiting for her, under the
guise of the ignoble soldiers in the scrubby rags, with their muskets
held in stained, filthy hands.

Courage--only courage! The power to die as he would wish her to...
could he but know!

Chauvelin speaks to her; she does not hear. There is a mighty buzzing
in her ears as of men shouting--shouting what, she does not know, for
she is still praying for courage. Chauvelin has ceased talking. Then
it must be the end. Thank God! she has had the courage not to speak
and not to flinch. Now she closes her eyes, for there is a red mist
before her and she feels that she might fall into it--straight into
that mist.


With closed eyes, Marguerite suddenly seems able to hear. She hears
shouts which come from below--quite close, and coming nearer every
moment. Shouts, and the tramp, the scurry of many feet; and now and
then that wheezing, asthmatic cough, that strange, strange cough, and
the click of wooden shoes. Then a voice, harsh and peremptory:

"Citizen soldiers, your country needs you! Rebels have defied her
laws. To arms! Every man who hangs back is a deserter and a traitor!"

After this, Chauvelin's sharp, dictatorial voice raised in protest:

"In the name of the Republic, citizen Barras!-"

But the other breaks in more peremptorily still:

"Ah, a, citizen Chauvelin Do you presume to stand between me and my
duty? By order of the Convention now assembled, every soldier must
report at once at his section. Are you perchance on the side of the

At this point, Marguerite opens her eyes. Through the widely open door
she sees the small, sable-clad figure of Chauvelin, his pale face
distorted with rage to which he obviously dare not give rein; and
beside him a short, stoutish man in cloth coat and cord breeches, and
with the tricolour scarf around his waist. His round face appears
crimson with choler and in his right hand he grasps a heavy malacca
stick, with a grip that proclaims the desire to strike. The two men
appear to be defying one another; and all around them are the vague
forms of the soldiers silhouetted against a distant window, through
which the crimson afternoon glow comes peeping in on a cloud of
flickering dust.

"Now then, citizen soldiers!" Barras resumes, and incontinently turns
his back on Chauvelin, who, white to the lips, raises a final and
menacing word of warning.

"I warn you, citizen Barras," he says firmly, "that by taking these
men away from their post, you place yourself in league with the enemy
of your country, and will have to answer to her for this crime."

His accent is so convinced, so firm, and fraught with such dire
menace, that for one instant Barras hesitates.

"Eh bien!" he exclaims. "I will humour you thus far, citizen
Chauvelin. I will leave you a couple of men to wait on your pleasure
until sundown. But, after that...."

For a second or two there was silence. Chauvelin stands there, with
his thin lips pressed tightly together. Then Barras adds, with a shrug
of his wide shoulders:

"I am contravening my duty in doing even so much; and the
responsibility must rest with you, citizen Chauvelin. Allons, my men!"
he says once more; and without another glance on his discomfited
colleague, he strides down the stairs, followed by Captain Boyer and
the soldiers.

For a while the house is still filled with confusion and sounds: men
tramping down the stone stairs, words of command, click of sabres and
muskets, opening and slamming of doors. Then the sounds slowly die
away, out in the street in the direction of the Porte St. Antoine.
After which, there is silence.

Chauvelin stands in the doorway with his back to the room and to
marguerite, his claw-like hands intertwined convulsively behind him.
The silhouette of the two remaining soldiers are still visible; they
stand silently and at attention with their muskets in their hands.
Between them and Chauvelin hovers the tall, ungainly figure of a man,
clothed in rags and covered in soot and coal-dust. His feet are thrust
into wooden shoes, his grimy hands are stretched out each side of him;
and on his left arm, just above the wrist, there is an ugly mark like
the brand seared into the flesh of a convict.

Just now he looks terribly distressed with a tearing fit of coughing.
Chauvelin curtly bids him stand aside; and at the same moment the
church clock of St. Louis, close by, strikes seven.

"Now then, citizen soldiers!" Chauvelin commands.

The soldiers grasp their muskets more firmly, and Chauvelin raises his
hand. The next instant he is thrust violently back into the room,
loses his balance, and falls backward against a table, whilst the door
is slammed to between him and the soldiers. From the other side of the
door there comes the sound of a short, sharp scuffle. Then silence.

Marguerite, holding her breath, hardly realized that she lived. A
second ago she was facing death; and now....

Chauvelin struggled painfully to his feet. With a mighty effort and a
hoarse cry of rage, he threw himself against the door. The impetus
carried him further than he intended, no doubt; for at that same
moment the door was opened, and he fell up against the massive form of
the grimy coalheaver, whose long arms closed round him, lifted him off
the floor, and carried him like a bundle of straw to the nearest

"There, my dear Mr. Chambertin!" the coalheaver said, in exceedingly
light and pleasant tones. "Let me make you quite comfortable!"

Marguerite watched--dumb and fascinated--the dexterous hands that
twined the length of rope round the arms and legs of her helpless
enemy, and wound his own tricolour scarf around that snarling mouth.

She scarcely dared trust her eyes and ears.

There was the hideous, dust-covered mudlark with bare feet thrust into
sabots, with ragged breeches and tattered shirt; there was the cruel,
mud-stained face, the purple lips, the toothless mouth; and those
huge, muscular arms, one of them branded like the arm of a convict,
the flesh still swollen with the searing of the iron.

"I must indeed crave your ladyship's forgiveness. In very truth, I am
a disgusting object!"

Ah, there was the voice!--the dear, dear, merry voice! A little weary
perhaps, but oh! so full of laughter and of boyish shame-facedness! To
Marguerite it seemed as if God's own angels had opened to her the
gates of Paradise. She did not speak; she scarce could move. All that
she could do was to put out her arms.

He did not approach her, for in truth he looked a dusty object; but he
dragged his ugly cap off his head, then slowly, and keeping his eyes
fixed upon her, he put one knee to the ground.

"You did not doubt, m'dear, that I would come?" he asked quaintly.

She shook her head. The last days were like a nightmare now; and in
truth she ought never to have been afraid.

"Will you ever forgive me?" he continued.

"Forgive? What?" she murmured.

"These last few days. I could not come before. You were safe for the
time being.... That fiend was waiting for me...."

She gave a shudder and closed her eyes.

"Where is he?"

He laughed his gay, irresponsible laugh, and with a slender hand,
still covered with coal-dust, he point to the helpless figure of

"Look at him!" he said. "Doth he not look a picture?"

Marguerite ventured to look. Even at sight of her enemy bound tightly
with ropes to a chair, his own tricolour scarf wound loosely round his
mouth, she could not altogether suppress a cry of horror.

"What is to become of him?"

He shrugged his broad shoulders.

"I wonder!" he said lightly.

Then he rose to his feet, and went on with quaint bashfulness:

"I wonder," he said, "how I dare stand thus before your ladyship!"

And in a moment she was in his arms, laughing, crying, covered herself
now with coal-dust and with grime.

"My beloved!" she exclaimed with a shudder of horror. "What you must
have gone through!"

He only laughed like a schoolboy who had come through some impish
adventure without much harm.

"Very little, I swear!" he asserted gaily. "But for thoughts of you, I
have never enjoyed anything so much as this last phase of a glorious
adventure. After our clever friend here ordered the real Rateau to be
branded, sot hat he might know him again wherever he say him, I had to
bribe the veterinary who had done the deed, to do the same thing for
me. It was not difficult. For a thousand livres the man would have
branded his own mother on the nose; and I appeared before him as a man
of science, eager for an experiment. He asked no questions. And, since
then, whenever Chauvelin gazed contentedly on my arm, I could have
screamed for joy!"

"For the love of Heaven, my lady!" he added quickly, for he felt her
soft, warm lips against his branded flesh; "don't shame me over such a
trifle! I shall always love that scar, for the exciting time it
recalls and because it happens to be the initial of your dear name."

He stooped down to the ground and kissed the hem of her gown.

After which he had to tell her as quickly and as briefly as he could,
all that had happened in the past few days.

"It was only by risking the fair Theresia's life," he said, "that I
could save your own. No other spur would have goaded Tallien into open

He turned and looked down for a moment on his enemy, who lay pinioned
and helpless, with hatred and baffled revenge writ plainly on the
contorted face and pale, rolling eyes.

And Sir Percy Blakeney sighed, a quaint sigh of regret.

"I only regret one thing, my dear M. Chambertin," he said after a
while. "And that is, that you and I will never measure wits again
after this. Your damnable revolution is dead... I am glad I was never
tempted to kill you. I might have succumbed, and in very truth robbed
the guillotine of an interesting prey. Without any doubt, they will
guillotine the lot of you, my good M. Chambertin. Robespierre to-
morrow; then his friends, his sycophants, his imitators--you amongst
the rest.... 'Tis a pity! You have so often amused me. Especially
after you had put a brand on Rateau's arm, and thought you would
always know him after that. Think it all out, my dear sir! Remember
our happy conversation in the warehouse down below, and my
denunciation of citoyenne Cabarrus... You gazed upon my branded arm
then and were quite satisfied. My denunciation was a false one, of
course! 'Tis I who put the letters and the rags in the beautiful
Theresia's apartments. But she will bear me no malice, I dare swear;
for I shall have redeemed my promise. To-morrow, after Robespierre's
head has fallen, Tallien will be the greatest man in France and his
Theresia a virtual queen. Think it all out, my dear Monsieur
Chambertin! You have plenty of time. Some one is sure to drift up here
presently, and will free you and the two soldiers, whom I left out on
the landing. But no one will free you from the guillotine when the
time comes, unless I myself...."

He did not finish; the rest of the sentence was merged in a merry

"A pleasant conceit--what?" he said lightly. "I'll think on it, I
promise you!"


And the next day Paris went crazy with joy. Never had the streets
looked more gay, more crowded. The windows were filled with
spectators; the very roofs were crowded with an eager, shouting

The seventeen hours of agony were ended. The tyrant was a fallen,
broken man, maimed, dumb, bullied and insulted. Aye! He, how yesterday
was the Chosen of the People, the Messenger of the Most High, now sat,
or rather lay, in the tumbril, with broken jaw, eyes closed, spirit
already wandering on the shores of the Styx; insulted, railed at,
cursed--aye, cursed!--by every woman, reviled by every child.

The end came at four in the afternoon, in the midst of acclamations
from a populace drunk with gladness--acclamations which found their
echo in the whole of France, and have never ceased to re-echo to this

But of all that tumult, Marguerite and her husband heard but little.
They lay snugly concealed the whole of that day in the quiet lodgings
in the Rue de l'Anier, which Sir Percy had occupied during these
terribly anxious times. Here they were waited on by that asthmatic
reprobate Rateau and his mother, both of whom were now rich for the
rest of their days.

When the shades of evening gathered in over the jubilant city, whilst
the church bells were ringing and the cannons booming, a market
gardener's cart, driven by a worthy farmer and his wife, rattled out
of the Porte St. Antoine. It created no excitement, and suspicion was
far from everybody's mind. The passports appeared in order; but even
if they were not, who cared, on this day of all days, when tyranny was
crushed and men dared to be men again?


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