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Found a Fool.

"Touch me, so I may know that you are real."

It was a request which was impossible to refuse, indeed it was a daily torment of his to be so near her and yet not able to touch her as he would wish. Before he was even aware of it his hand was reaching out from his side, to clasp her shoulder as he once had only hours before this ball.

Unlike then, her hand came up to touch his, curious fingers seeking out his own as he struggled to control the feelings which her response aroused within him. They reached his ring and began to trace the outlines of the two sapphires, along with the gold which encircled them.
Gently he increased the pressure of his clasp and used it to turn her to face him. He cared not for Chauvelin's imminent arrival, nothing mattered more than that his wife should at last learn the truth which he had long denied her, out of stupidly believing the authority of the Baron de Batz.

Surrendering to the direction of his hand, she turned to face him, catching full sight of his features illuminated by the candlelight. Her mouth opened in a gasp of astonishment, she met his gaze silently until the first chimes of midnight began to echo through the house.

Surprise quickly gave way to concern. Her curious fingers, now frozen upon his own tightened their clasp in fear of the approaching danger.

"Chauvelin!" she whispered. "Percy, you must go, it terrifies me to think what he might do if he were discover the truth."

"Fear not, m'dear," he replied, "if you are willing to practice but once more your talent that proclaimed you as the most beautiful actress in France, then perhaps we might escape his clutches."

He outlined his plan in a few words, which she instantly agreed to and understold. It was a bold yet simple scheme, and with any luck they would pass it off.


When Chauvelin entered a few moments later, it was not to find the Scarlet Pimpernel surrounded by his cohorts or the library deserted, for he was late in managing to extricate himself from Lady Grenville's clutches. Instead he encountered the conversation between two voices familiar to him, one which it was his torment to desire and yet live daily with the knowledge that she was no longer his to flatter and adore, and the other belonging to that who had taken her away from him, the most foolish and wealthiest man in England.
Swept away by his hopes of discovering the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel and all the consequences of glory piled on to his personage which the encounter and capture might have entailed, only to be disappointed by the reality, it took some moments for the substance of the conversation to become audible to him.

"Percy, what are you doing here?"

"A question I might well ask you, m'dear. Faith, this ball has left me so demmned fatigued. I had hoped that the libraries would be one of the last rooms in the house which guests might frequent."

"Libraries?" Lady Blakeney, as Chauvelin forced himself to remember she was, inquired.

"Yes, Grenville has two, the other is near the drawing room on the first floor. I don't care much for either of them myself, but when one is so demmned fatigued they are a source of comfort and solitude."

"Oh, Percy," Marguerite began to say, but the rest of her words were lost to Chauvelin, who had already begun to back out of the room. He had not realised that Lord Grenville possessed two libraries, perhaps in the other he would find what he was looking for, if he had not missed it already. Clearly Lady Blakeney had come to the room with the same object in mind, though he deduced that her motive was to warn the Pimpernel and therefore her brother of what he had induced her to discover. He left in search of the hall for staircase to take him to the first floor, his preoccupation missing both the arrival of Sir Andrew ffoulkes and Lord Dewhurst, along with the fact that Sir Percy and Lady Blakeney had been repeating their short conversation over and over until it was clear he received the message and left the room.
Sir Andrew ffoulkes and Lord Dewhurst were also surprised to find their chief with his wife in the library, their own arrival delayed both by Suzanne de Tournay and Chauvelin. Uncertain as to what to do or say with the presence of one whom they had been assured by their leader - on his wedding day no less - was not to be trusted, it was Sir Percy who broke the silence which had fallen in the light of Chauvelin's absence.

"At ease, my friends, my wife and I will soon have no secrets. As to what Chauvelin was doing here, why, he was looking for the Scarlet Pimpernel. I pray he found a fool."

THE END