He Would Not be the Scarlet Pimpernel
Chauvelin passed by the two guards standing watch at Sir Percy's door. Barely acknowledging them, he asked if there had been any suspicious activity. One guard answered tiredly that nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.
Satisfied for the moment, Chauvelin passed down the stair and into the dining area, where his mood sufficiently dropped.
To his dismay the five bothersome men remained; they hounded him, demanding to catch a glimpse of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and offering to buy him drinks. Chauvelin declined rather harshly, and turned away. He sought refuge out in the pale stark rays of the late winter morning. A slight wind lifted his cloak and ruffled his cravat. Thoughts of victory and revenge filled the small man's head, and smile curled around his lips. When the cold pierced through his fabric, he reluctantly went back in to the inn, only to find that now only three of the five remained.
Somewhat relieved, Chauvelin sat down stiffly at one of the tables and ate an early lunch. As he ate one of the guards brusquely walked through the door and informed him that the road would be cleared by late afternoon, and thoughts of departure should be close at hand. Wiping his mouth off with a cloth serviette, Chauvelin stood at the exact moment a fourth man he didn't recognize appeared in the room. He came from the back, obviously another one of the innkeeper's guests. The man joined the three, now of which were talking almost reverently, and glancing every so often at Chauvelin.
At something mentioned, the newcomer threw back his head and whinnied a raucous laughter; wringing his hands in mirth, and then glanced at the diplomat. His laughter ceased, but his smile remained, and in a graveled voice asked, "Let us see that Englishman of yours, Citizen. Just for a moment." He added, seeing the frown on Chauvelin's face.
Pride is a devious beast, and for someone as vain as Chauvelin, it very often controlled his thoughts. The small man had been outwitted by the Scarlet Pimpernel so tirelessly his ego was in sore condition. Visions glory and gratification through self-achievements began to swirl temptingly in his mind.
The men were not refined, they were of no social significance, and judging from their conversations, none of them were very intelligent. However, they were curious, and Chauvelin suddenly found himself overwhelmed with the need to display his cunning and own importance.
"Very well," he said finally, and the four men's eyes lit up. Chauvelin led them up the stairs, and down the hall toward the guarded door.
He scraped the key through the hole and twisted it with a flick of his wrist. With an august flourish, he opened the door to let the four gaze down upon the stricken form asleep on the bed.
"Well?" One of the men asked, staring from the room to Chauvelin's face, obvious puzzlement etched on his filthy countenance.
Uncertainty stabbed at Chauvelin's soul and a feeling of cold nausea swept over him. He entered to the room to find that the bed was empty. He turned around, waiting for his eyes to rest on the figure of Sir Percy standing, or perhaps sitting somewhere in the room, but there was not a person to be found.
A loud slam caught his attention, and he realized that the door to the room had been shoved close. A sickening grating of metal on metal reminded him that he'd left the key in the keyhole, but the sound of his defeat was heightened by sudden peals of laughter.
It was the one sound Chauvelin abhorred above all else. That confident, lazy, triumphant chuckle escalating to ringing laughter. That sound that marked the beginning of shame and disgust that now ruled Chauvelin's life with such familiarity.
The laughter faded quickly, and Chauvelin ran to the window only to be reminded that he himself had overseen the boarding up of the window. He called for his guards but there were none close enough to hear him.
In fury, the small man pounded on the locked door, screaming curses to the impassive walls. When exhaustion seized him, he collapsed on the bed, only now noticing a carefully folded slip of paper on the pillow. For a moment Chauvelin stared at it, knowing that he was going to read it.
To what end? he wondered. He knew what it read. He knew what emblazoned the bottom of it in precisely which color. Yet still his thin fingers lifted it up and unfolded it.
Chauvelin's forehead creased from his raised eyebrows, and then furrowed in hatred.
They seek him here, they seek him there,
those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven or is he in hell?
That damned elusive Pimpernel.
You seek them here, you seek them there,
You catch them with the utmost care.
Still they escape your prison cell
That damned league of the Pimpernel.
Chauvelin crumpled the paper in his fist, and hurled it with all his might. To his infuriation the small note made a gentle arc through the air and landed harmlessly on the wood floor.
A merry band of Englishmen and an Englishwoman made their way north to the Coast of Dover, laughing and talking as lightly as if there had never been a problem.
But behind Marguerite's smile still hovered an air of uncertainty. It was a familiar feeling that she knew she would never fully rid herself of, yet she kept a smile broad on her face.
In the distance a horizon of gray blue glass met the darkening steely sky of winter, and Marguerite knew that it was only a matter of time before she would return to England. The Daydream bobbed placidly atop the waves as their small boat drew closer.
A warm hand slipped in Marguerite's own cold one, and she looked up to smile at her husband. A grin marked his face, but his eyes held more seriousness. Love. Marguerite rested her head on his shoulder, and closed her eyes momentarily.
This was peace; the most tangible feeling of bliss she had ever known. The wind stung her face and the icy ocean water flipped from the oars bit her skin, but the love she felt for Sir Percy forced anything but happiness from her cares.
Il n'y a aucune plus grande puissance que amour.
This moment would not last. Sir Percy would leave again, and his undoubtedly long absence would frustrate and frightened Marguerite, but it would be manageable. Yes, Marguerite though with a smile, there was nothing she would not do to have these precious moments.
"To England!" Sir Percy proclaimed as the small boat nudged the yacht. His voice was not joyful- Marguerite knew he would rather remain in France for adventures, but now was not the time.
He would not rescue the unfortunate, he would not elude the Republic, he would not be the Scarlet Pimpernel. He would be her husband. Her own love. He would be Sir Percy Blakney, Bart.