The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel
They all looked a merry, even a happy party, as they sat round the table; Sir Andrew Ffoulkes and Lord Antony Dewhurst, two typical good-looking, well-born and well-bred Englishmen of that year of grace 1792, and the aristocratic French Comtesse with her two children, who had just escaped from such dire perils, and found a safe retreat at last on the shores of protecting England.
In the corner the two strangers had apparently finished their game; one of them arose, and standing with his back to the merry company at the table, he adjusted with much deliberation his large triple caped coat. As he did so, he gave one quick glance all around him. Everyone was busy laughing and chatting, and he murmured the words All safe!: his companion then, with the alertness borne of long practice, slipped on to his knees in a moment, and the next had crept noiselessly under the oak bench. The stranger then, with a loud Good-night, quietly walked out of the coffee-room.
Not one of those at the supper table had noticed this curious and silent manuvre, but when the stranger finally closed the door of the coffee-room behind him, they all instinctively sighed a sigh of relief.
Alone, at last! said Lord Antony, jovially.
Then the young Vicomte de Tournay rose, glass in hand, and with the graceful affectation peculiar to the times, he raised it aloft, and said in broken English,
To His Majesty George Three of England. God bless him for his hospitality to us all, poor exiles from France.
His Majesty the King! echoed Lord Antony and Sir Andrew as they drank loyally to the toast.
To His Majesty King Louis of France, added Sir Andrew, with solemnity. May God protect him, and give him victory over his enemies.
Everyone rose and drank this toast in silence. The fate of the unfortunate King of France, then a prisoner of his own people, seemed to cast a gloom even over Mr. Jellybands pleasant countenance.
And to M. le Comte de Tournay de Basserive, said Lord Antony, merrily. May we welcome him in England before many days are over.
Ah, Monsieur, said the Comtesse, as with a slightly trembling hand she conveyed her glass to her lips, I scarcely dare to hope.
But already Lord Antony had served out the soup, and for the next few moments all conversation ceased, while Jellyband and Sally handed round the plates and everyone began to eat.
Faith, Madame! said Lord Antony, after a while, mine was no idle toast; seeing yourself, Mademoiselle Suzanne and my friend the Vicomte safely in England now, surely you must feel reassured as to the fate of Monsieur le Comte.
Ah, Monsieur, replied the Comtesse, with a heavy sigh, I trust in GodI can but prayand hope
Aye, Madame! here interposed Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, trust in God by all means, but believe also a little in your English friends, who have sworn to bring the Count safely across the Channel, even as they have brought you to-day.
Indeed, indeed, Monsieur, she replied, I have the fullest confidence in you and your friends. Your fame, I assure you, has spread throughout the whole of France. The way some of my own friends have escaped from the clutches of that awful revolutionary tribunal was nothing short of a miracleand all done by you and your friends
We were but the hands, Madame la Comtesse
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|