Marguerite wondered at what particular spot, on this lonely coast, Percy could be at this moment. Not very far surely, for he had had less than a quarter of an hours start of Chauvelin. She wondered if he knew that in this cool, ocean-scented bit of France, there lurked many spies, all eager to sight his tall figure, to track him to where his unsuspecting friends waited for him, and then, to close the net over him and them.
Chauvelin, on ahead, jolted and jostled in the Jews vehicle, was nursing comfortable thoughts. He rubbed his hands together, with content, as he thought of the web which he had woven, and through which that ubiquitous and daring Englishman could not hope to escape. As the time went on, and the old Jew drove him leisurely but surely along the dark road, he felt more and more eager for the grand finale of this exciting chase after the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel.
The capture of the audacious plotter would be the finest leaf in Citoyen Chauvelins wreath of glory. Caught, red-handed, on the spot, in the very act of aiding and abetting the traitors against the Republic of France, the Englishman could claim no protection from his own country. Chauvelin had, in any case, fully made up his mind that all intervention should come too late.
Never for a moment did the slightest remorse enter his heart, as to the terrible position in which he had placed the unfortunate wife, who had unconsciously betrayed her husband. As a matter of fact, Chauvelin had ceased even to think of her: she had been a useful tool, that was all.
The Jews lean nag did little more than walk. She was going along at a slow jog trot, and her driver had to give her long and frequent halts.
Are we a long way yet from Miquelon? asked Chauvelin from time to time.
Not very far, your Honour, was the uniform placid reply.
We have not yet come across your friend and mine, lying in a heap in the roadway, was Chauvelins sarcastic comment.
Patience, noble Excellency, rejoined the son of Moses, they are ahead of us. I can see the imprint of the cart wheels, driven by that traitor, that son of the Amalekite.
You are sure of the road?
As sure as I am of the presence of those ten gold pieces in the noble Excellencys pockets, which I trust will presently be mine.
As soon as I have shaken hands with my friend the tall stranger, they will certainly be yours.
Hark, what was that? said the Jew suddenly.
Through the stillness, which had been absolute, there could now be heard distinctly the sound of horses hoofs on the muddy road.
They are soldiers, he added in an awed whisper.
Stop a moment, I want to hear, said Chauvelin.
Marguerite had also head the sound of galloping hoofs, coming towards the cart, and towards herself. For some time she had been on the alert thinking that Desgas and his squad would soon overtake them, but these came from the opposite direction, presumably from Miquelon. The darkness lent her sufficient cover. She had perceived that the cart had stopped, and with utmost caution, treading noiselessly on the soft road, she crept a little nearer.
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