But she had not time to conjecture, for presently there was a peremptory call at the door, and the next moment it was violently thrown open from the outside, whilst a rough, commanding voice shouted,
Hey! Citoyen Brogard! Holà!
Marguerite could not see the newcomers, but, through a hole in one of the curtains, she could observe one portion of the room below.
She heard Brogards shuffling footsteps, as he came out of the inner room, muttering his usual string of oaths. On seeing the strangers, however, he paused in the middle of the room, well within range of Marguerites vision, looked at them, with even more withering contempt than he had bestowed upon his former guests, and muttered, Sacrrrèe soutane!
Marguerites heart seemed all at once to stop beating; her eyes, large and dilated, had fastened on one of the newcomers, who, at this point, had taken a quick step forward towards Brogard. He was dressed in the soutane, broad-brimmed hat and buckled shoes habitual to the French curà, but as he stood opposite the innkeeper, he threw open his soutane for a moment, displaying the tricolour scarf of officialism, which sight immediately had the effect of transforming Brogards attitude of contempt, into one of cringing obsequiousness.
It was the sight of this French curè, which seemed to freeze the very blood in Marguerites veins. She could not see his face, which was shaded by his broad-brimmed hat, but she recognized the thin, bony hands, the slight stoop, the whole gait of the man! It was Chauvelin! The horror of the situation struck her as with a physical blow; the awful disappointment, the dread of what was to come, made her very senses reel, and she needed almost superhuman effort, not to fall senseless beneath it all.
A plate of soup and a bottle of wine, said Chauvelin imperiously to Brogard, then clear out of hereunderstand? I want to be alone.
Silently, and without any muttering this time, Brogard obeyed. Chauvelin sat down at the table, which had been prepared for the tall Englishman, and the innkeeper busied himself obsequiously round him, dishing up the soup and pouring out the wine. The man who had entered with Chauvelin and whom Marguerite could not see, stood waiting close by the door.
At a brusque sign from Chauvelin, Brogard had hurried back to the inner room, and the former now beckoned to the man who had accompanied him.
In him Marguerite at once recognised Desgas, Chauvelins secretary and confidential factotum, whom she had often seen in Paris, in the days gone by. He crossed the room, and for a moment or two listened attentively at the Brogards door.
Not listening? asked Chauvelin, curtly.
For a second Marguerite dreaded lest Chauvelin should order Desgas to search the place; what would happen if she were to be discovered, she hardly dared to imagine. Fortunately, however, Chauvelin seemed more impatient to talk to his secretary than afraid of spies, for he called Desgas quickly back to his side.
The English schooner? he asked.
She was lost sight of at sundown, citoyen, replied Desgas, but was then making west, towards Cap Gris Nez.
Ah!good! muttered Chauvelin, and now, about Captain Jutley?what did he say?
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