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Baroness Emma Orczy
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.

“Bah! whichever one it is,” he muttered, “we can easily get the other, once those abominable papers are in our hands.  And even if both the aristos escape,” he added mentally, “’tis no matter, once we have the papers.”

Anon, far away a distant church bell struck the midnight hour.  The stillness of the air had become oppressive.  A kind of torpor born of intense fatigue lulled the Terrorist’s senses to somnolence.  His head fell forward on his breast....

VI

Then suddenly a shiver of excitement went right through him.  He was fully awake now, with glowing eyes wide open and the icy calm of perfect confidence ruling every nerve.  The sound of stealthy footsteps had reached his ear.

He could see nothing, either outside or in; but his fingers felt for the pistol which he carried in his belt.  The aristo was evidently alone; only one solitary footstep was approaching the chateau.

Chauvelin had left the door ajar which gave on the boudoir.  The staircase was on the other side of that fateful room, and the door leading to that was closed.  A few minutes of tense expectancy went by.  Then through the silence there came the sound of furtive foot-steps on the stairs, the creaking of a loose board and finally the stealthy opening of the door.

In all his adventurous career Chauvelin had never felt so calm.  His heart beat quite evenly, his senses were undisturbed by the slightest tingling of his nerves.  The stealthy sounds in the next room brought the movements of the aristo perfectly clear before his metal vision.  The latter was carrying a small dark lanthorn.  As soon as he entered he flashed its light about the room.  Then he deposited the lanthorn on the floor, close beside the hearth, and started to feel up the chimney for the hidden receptacle.

Chauvelin watched him now like a cat watches a mouse, savouring these few moments of anticipated triumph.  He pushed open the door noiselessly which gave on the boudoir.  By the feeble light of the lanthorn on the ground he could only see the vague outline of the aristo’s back, bending forward to his task; but a thrill went through him as he saw a bundle of papers lying on the ground close by.

Everything was ready; the trap was set.  Here was a complete victory at last.  It was obviously the young Vicomte de Montorgueil who had come to do the deed.  His head was up the chimney even now.  The old Marquis’s back would have looked narrower and more fragile.  Chauvelin held his breath; then he gave a sharp little cough, and took the pistol from his belt.

The sound caused the aristo to turn, and the next moment a loud and merry laugh roused the dormant echoes of the old chateau, whilst a pleasant, drawly voice said in English: 

“I am demmed if this is not my dear old friend M. Chambertin!  Zounds, sir! who’d have thought of meeting you here?”

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