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The Pimpernel Fails to Show (1) : Lady Blakeney agrees to spy for the French Revolutionary government in return for her brother’s life.
The Pimpernel Fails to Show
Part one

Abridged from ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ by Emma Orczy (1865-1947).

In exchange for her brother Armand’s life, Marguerite, Lady Blakeney, is reluctantly playing the spy at a society ball. Citizen Chauvelin, of the French Revolutionary government’s secret police, wants her to find out what she can about the mysterious ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ who has been rescuing prisoners from the guillotine.

“YOU have news for me?” he said.

“I contrived — no matter how — to detect Sir Andrew Ffoulkes in the very act of burning a paper at one of these candles. That paper I succeeded in holding between my fingers for the space of two minutes, and to cast my eyes on it for that of ten seconds.”

“Time enough to learn its contents?” asked Chauvelin, quietly.

She nodded. Then continued in the same even, mechanical tone of voice —

“In the corner of the paper there was the usual rough device of a small star-shaped flower. Above it I read two lines, everything else was scorched and blackened by the flame.”

“And what were the two lines?”

Her throat seemed suddenly to have contracted. For an instant she felt that she could not speak the words, which might send a brave man to his death.

“One was, ‘I start myself tomorrow,’” she said quietly, “the other — ‘If you wish to speak to me, I shall be in the supper-room at one o’clock precisely.’”

Abridged from ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ by Emma Orczy (1865-1947).

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Extracts from Literature (94) French Revolution (6) Fiction (84)

Picture: © David Dixon, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
The state dining room at Nostell Priory near Wakefield in Yorkshire, an 18th-century Palladian mansion on the site of a monastery destroyed in the Reformation.
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By Rafael Sabatini
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By Baroness Orczy
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