It was late into the night when she at last reached
"The Fisherman's Rest." She had done the whole journey in less
than eight hours, thanks to innumerable changes of horses at the
various coaching stations, for which she always paid lavishly,
thus obtaining the very best and swiftest that could be had.
Her coachman, too, had been indefatigible; the
promise of special and rich reward had no doubt helped to keep
him up, and he had literally burned the ground beneath his mistress'
The arrival of Lady Blakeney in the middle of
the night caused a considerable flutter at "The Fisherman's Rest."
Sally jumped hastily out of bed, and Mr. Jellyband was at great
pains how to make his important guest comfortable.
Both of these good folk were far too well drilled
in the manners appertaining to innkeepers, to exhibit the slightest
surprise at Lady Blakeney's arrival, alone, at this extraordinary
hour. No doubt they thought all the more, but Marguerite was far
too absorbed in the importance--the deadly earnestness--of her
journey, to stop and ponder over trifles of that sort.
The coffee-room--the scene lately of the dastardly
outrage on two English gentlemen--was quite deserted. Mr. Jellyband
hastily relit the lamp, rekindled a cheerful bit of fire in the
great hearth, and then wheeled a comfortable chair by it, into
which Marguerite gratefully sank.
"Will your ladyship stay the night?" asked pretty
Miss Sally, who was already busy laying a snow-white cloth on
the table, preparatory to providing a simple supper for her ladyship.
"No! not the whole night," replied Marguerite.
"At any rate, I shall not want any room but this, if I can have
it to myself for an hour or two."
"It is at your ladyship's service," said honest
Jellyband, whose rubicund face was set in its tightest folds,
lest it should betray before "the quality" that boundless astonishment
which the very worthy fellow had begun to feel.
"I shall be crossing over at the first turn of
the tide," said Marguerite, "and in the first schooner I can get.
But my coachman and men will stay the night, and probably several
days longer, so I hope you will make them comfortable."
"Yes, my lady; I'll look after them. Shall Sally
bring your ladyship some supper?"
"Yes, please. Put something cold on the table,
and as soon as Sir Andrew Ffoulkes comes, show him in here."
"Yes, my lady."
Honest Jellyband's face now expressed distress
in spite of himself. He had great regard for Sir Percy Blakeney,
and did not like to see his lady running away with young Sir Andrew.
Of course, it was no business of his, and Mr. Jellyband was no
gossip. Still, in his heart, he recollected that her ladyship
was after all only one of them "furriners"; what wonder that she
was immoral like the rest of them?
"Don't sit up, honest Jellyband," continued Marguerite
kindly, "nor you either, Mistress Sally. Sir Andrew may be late."
Jellyband was only too willing that Sally should
go to bed. He was beginning not to like these goings-on at all.
Still, Lady Blakeney would pay handsomely for the accommodation,
and it certainly was no business of his.
Sally arranged a simple supper of cold meat,
wine, and fruit on the table, then with a respectful curtsey,
she retired, wondering in her little mind why her ladyship looked
so serious, when she was about to elope with her gallant.
Then commenced a period of weary waiting for
Marguerite. She knew that Sir Andrew--who would have to provide
himself with clothes befitting a lacquey--could not possibly reach
Dover for at least a couple of hours. He was a splendid horseman
of course, and would make light in such an emergency of the seventy
odd miles between London and Dover. He would, too, literally burn
the ground beneath his horse's hoofs, but he might not always
get very good remounts, and in any case, he could not have started
from London until at least an hour after she did.
She had seen nothing of Chauvelin on the road.
Her coachman, whom she questioned, had not seen anyone answering
the description his mistress gave him of the wizened figure of
the little Frenchman.
Evidently, therefore, he had been ahead of her
all the time. She had not dared to question the people at the
various inns, where they had stopped to change horses. She feared
that Chauvelin had spies all along the route, who might overhear
her questions, then outdistance her and warn her enemy of her
Now she wondered at what inn he might be stopping,
or whether he had had the good luck of chartering a vessel already,
and was now himself on the way to France. That thought gripped
her at the heart as with an iron vice. If indeed she should not
be too late already!
The loneliness of the room overwhelmed her; everything
within was so horribly still; the ticking of the grandfather's
clock--dreadfully slow and measured--was the only sound which
broke this awful loneliness.
Marguerite had need of all her energy, all her
steadfastness of purpose, to keep up her courage through this
weary midnight waiting.
Everyone else in the house but herself must have
been asleep. She had heard Sally go upstairs. Mr. Jellyband had
gone to see to her coachman and men, and then had returned and
taken up a position under the porch outside, just where Marguerite
had first met Chauvelin about a week ago. He evidently meant to
wait up for Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, but was soon overcome by sweet
slumbers, for presently--in addition to the slow ticking of the
clock--Marguerite could hear the monotonous and dulcet tones of
the worthy fellow's breathing.
For some time now, she had realised that the
beautiful warm October's day, so happily begun, had turned into
a rough and cold night. She had felt very chilly, and was glad
of the cheerful blaze in the hearth: but gradually, as time wore
on, the weather became more rough, and the sound of the great
breakers against the Admiralty Pier, though some distance from
the inn, came to her as the noise of muffled thunder.
The wind was becoming boisterous, rattling the
leaded windows and the massive doors of the old-fashioned house:
it shook the trees outside and roared down the vast chimney. Marguerite
wondered if the wind would be favourable for her journey. She
had no fear of the storm, and would have braved worse risks sooner
than delay the crossing by an hour.
A sudden commotion outside roused her from her
meditations. Evidently it was Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, just arrived
in mad haste, for she heard his horse's hoofs thundering on the
flag-stones outside, then Mr. Jellyband's sleepy, yet cheerful
tones bidding him welcome.
For a moment, then, the awkwardness of her position
struck Marguerite; alone at this hour, in a place where she was
well known, and having made an assignation with a young cavalier
equally well known, and who arrived in disguise! What food for
gossip to those mischievously inclined.
The idea struck Marguerite chiefly from its humorous
side: there was such quaint contrast between the seriousness of
her errand, and the construction which would naturally be put
on her actions by honest Mr. Jellyband, that, for the first time
since many hours, a little smile began playing round the corners
of her childlike mouth, and when, presently, Sir Andrew, almost
unrecognisable in his lacquey-like garb, entered the coffee-room,
she was able to greet him with quite a merry laugh.
"Faith! Monsieur, my lacquey," she said, "I am
satisfied with your appearance!"
Mr. Jellyband had followed Sir Andrew, looking
strangely perplexed. The young gallant's disguise had confirmed
his worst suspicions. Without a smile upon his jovial face, he
drew the cork from the bottle of wine, set the chairs ready, and
prepared to wait.
"Thanks, honest friend," said Marguerite, who
was still smiling at the thought of what the worthy fellow must
be thinking at that very moment, "we shall require nothing more;
and here's for all the trouble you have been put to on our account."
She handed two or three gold pieces to Jellyband,
who took them respectfully, and with becoming gratitude.
"Stay, Lady Blakeney," interposed Sir Andrew,
as Jellyband was about to retire, "I am afraid we shall require
something more of my friend Jelly's hospitality. I am sorry to
say we cannot cross over to-night."
"Not cross over to-night?" she repeated in amazement.
"But we must, Sir Andrew, we must! There can be no question of
cannot, and whatever it may cost, we must get a vessel to-night."
But the young man shook his head sadly.
"I am afraid it is not a question of cost, Lady
Blakeney. There is a nasty storm blowing from France, the wind
is dead against us, we cannot possibly sail until it has changed."
Marguerite became deadly pale. She had not foreseen
this. Nature herself was playing her a horrible, cruel trick.
Percy was in danger, and she could not go to him, because the
wind happened to blow from the coast of France.
"But we must go!--we must!" she repeated with
strange, persistent energy, "you know, we must go!--can't you
find a way?"
"I have been down to the shore already," he said,
"and had a talk to one or two skippers. It is quite impossible
to set sail to-night, so every sailor assured me. No one," he
added, looking significantly at Marguerite, "NO ONE could possibly
put out of Dover to-night."
Marguerite at once understood what he meant.
NO ONE included Chauvelin as well as herself. She nodded pleasantly
"Well, then, I must resign myself," she said
to him. "Have you a room for me?"
"Oh, yes, your ladyship. A nice, bright, airy
room. I'll see to it at once. . . . And there is another one for
Sir Andrew--both quite ready."
"That's brave now, mine honest Jelly," said Sir
Andrew, gaily, and clapping his worth host vigorously on the back.
"You unlock both those rooms, and leave our candles here on the
dresser. I vow you are dead with sleep, and her ladyship must
have some supper before she retires. There, have no fear, friend
of the rueful countenance, her ladyship's visit, though at this
unusual hour, is a great honour to thy house, and Sir Percy Blakeney
will reward thee doubly, if thou seest well to her privacy and
Sir Andrew had no doubt guessed the many conflicting
doubts and fears which raged in honest Jellyband's head; and,
as he was a gallant gentleman, he tried by this brave hint to
allay some of the worthy innkeeper's suspicions. He had the satisfaction
of seeing that he had partially succeeded. Jellyband's rubicund
countenance brightened somewhat, at the mention of Sir Percy's
"I'll go and see to it at once, sir," he said
with alacrity, and with less frigidity in his manner. "Has her
ladyship everything she wants for supper?"
"Everything, thanks, honest friend, and as I
am famished and dead with fatigue, I pray you see to the rooms."
"Now tell me," she said eagerly, as soon as Jellyband
had gone from the room, "tell me all your news."
"There is nothing else much to tell you, Lady
Blakeney," replied the young man. "The storm makes it quite impossible
for any vessel to put out of Dover this tide. But, what seems
to you at first a terrible calamity is really a blessing in disguise.
If we cannot cross over to France to-night, Chauvelin is in the
"He may have left before the storm broke out."
"God grant he may," said Sir Andrew, merrily,
"for very likely then he'll have been driven out of his course!
Who knows? He may now even be lying at the bottom of the sea,
for there is a furious storm raging, and it will fare ill with
all small craft which happen to be out. But I fear me we cannot
build our hopes upon the shipwreck of that cunning devil, and
of all his murderous plans. The sailors I spoke to, all assured
me that no schooner had put out of Dover for several hours: on
the other hand, I ascertained that a stranger had arrived by coach
this afternoon, and had, like myself, made some inquiries about
crossing over to France.
"Then Chauvelin is still in Dover?"
"Undoubtedly. Shall I go waylay him and run my
sword through him? That were indeed the quickest way out of the
"Nay! Sir Andrew, do not jest! Alas! I have often
since last night caught myself wishing for that fiend's death.
But what you suggest is impossible! The laws of this country do
not permit of murder! It is only in our beautiful France that
wholesale slaughter is done lawfully, in the name of Liberty and
of brotherly love."
Sir Andrew had persuaded her to sit down to the
table, to partake of some supper and to drink a little wine. This
enforced rest of at least twelve hours, until the next tide, was
sure to be terribly difficult to bear in the state of intense
excitement in which she was. Obedient in these small matters like
a child, Marguerite tried to eat and drink.
Sir Andrew, with that profound sympathy born
in all those who are in love, made her almost happy by talking
to her about her husband. He recounted to her some of the daring
escapes the brave Scarlet Pimpernel had contrived for the poor
French fugitives, whom a relentless and bloody revolution was
driving out of their country. He made her eyes glow with enthusiasm
by telling her of his bravery, his ingenuity, his resourcefulness,
when it meant snatching the lives of men, women, and even children
from beneath the very edge of that murderous, ever-ready guillotine.
He even made her smile quite merrily by telling
her of the Scarlet Pimpernel's quaint and many disguises, through
which he had baffled the strictest watch set against him at the
barricades of Paris. This last time, the escape of the Comtesse
de Tournay and her children had been a veritable masterpiece--Blakeney
disguised as a hideous old market-woman, in filthy cap and straggling
grey locks, was a sight fit to make the gods laugh.
Marguerite laughed heartily as Sir Andrew tried
to describe Blakeney's appearance, whose gravest difficulty always
consisted in his great height, which in France made disguise doubly
Thus an hour wore on. There were many more to
spend in enforced inactivity in Dover. Marguerite rose from the
table with an impatient sigh. She looked forward with dread to
the night in the bed upstairs, with terribly anxious thoughts
to keep her company, and the howling of the storm to help chase
She wondered where Percy was now. The DAY DREAM
was a strong, well-built sea-going yacht. Sir Andrew had expressed
the opinion that no doubt she had got in the lee of the wind before
the storm broke out, or else perhaps had not ventured into the
open at all, but was lying quietly at Gravesend.
Briggs was an expert skipper, and Sir Percy handled
a schooner as well as any master mariner. There was no danger
for them from the storm.
It was long past midnight when at last Marguerite
retired to rest. As she had feared, sleep sedulously avoided her
eyes. Her thoughts were of the blackest during these long, weary
hours, whilst that incessant storm raged which was keeping her
away from Percy. The sound of the distant breakers made her heart
ache with melancholy. She was in the mood when the sea has a saddening
effect upon the nerves. It is only when we are very happy, that
we can bear to gaze merrily upon the vast and limitless expanse
of water, rolling on and on with such persistent, irritating monotony,
to the accompaniment of our thoughts, whether grave or gay. When
they are gay, the waves echo their gaiety; but when they are sad,
then every breaker, as it rolls, seems to bring additional sadness,
and to speak to us of hopelessness and of the pettiness of all
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