“But I don’t understand now, how you managed to reach Paris, my dear Blakeney!” said Deroulede at last, placing an anxious hand on his friend’s shoulder. “The government has not forgotten The Scarlet Pimpernel.”
“La! I took care of that!” responded Blakeney with his short, pleasant laugh. “I sent Tinville my autograph this morning.”
“You are mad, Blakeney!”
“Not altogether, my friend. My faith! ’twas on only foolhardiness caused me to grant that devilish prosecutor another sight of my scarlet device. I knew what you maniacs would be after, so I came across in the Daydream,just to see if I couldn’t get my share of the fun.”
“Fun, you call it?” queried the other bitterly.
“Nay! what would you have me call it? A mad, insane, senseless tragedy, with but one issue?—the guillotine for you all.”
“The why did you come?”
“To— What shall I say, my friend?” rejoined Sir Percy Blakeny, with that inimitable drawl of his. “To give your demmed government something else to think about, whilst you are all busy running your heads into a noose.”
“What makes you think we are doing that?”
“Three things, my friend—may I offer you a pinch of snuff—No?—Ah well!...” And with the graceful gesture of an accomplished dandy, Sir Percy flicked off a grain of dust from his immaculate Mechlin ruffles.
“Three things,” he continued quietly; “an imprisoned Queen, about to be tried for her life, the temperament of a Frenchman—some of them— and the idiocy of mankind generally. These three things make me think that a certain section of hot-headed Republicans with yourself, my dear Deroulede, en tete, are about to attempt the most stupid, senseless, purposeless thing that was ever concocted by the excitable brain of a demmed Frenchman.”
“Does it not seem amusing to you, Blakeney, that you should sit there and condemn anyone for planning mad, insane, senseless things.”
“La! I’ll not sit, I’ll stand!” rejoined Blakeney with a laugh, as he drew himself up to his full height, and stretched his long, lazy limbs. “And now let me tell you, friend, that my league of The Scarlet Pimpernel never attempted the impossible, and to try and drag the Queen out of the clutches of these murderous rascals now, is attempting the unattainable.”
“And yet we mean to try.”
“I know it. I guessed it, that is why I came: that is also why I sent a pleasant little note to the Committee of Public Safety, signed with the device they know so well: The Scarlet Pimpernel.”
“Well! the result is obvious. Robespierre, Danton, Tinville, Merlin, and the whole of the demmed murderous crowd, will be busy looking after me—a needle in a haystack. They’ll put the abortive attempt down to me, and you may—ma foi! I only suggest that you may escape safely out of France—in the Daydream, and with the help of your humble servant.”