Chapter 10: Failure Once Again

Chauvelin watched the detested figure of his enemy walk away leaving him bound and helpless by the side of the road, this was a situation that was becoming all to repetitive. He must have made quite a comical picture sitting there, but he failed to see the humor of his situation. Besides, he had been left in similar situations too often to find it humorous this time. As he sat there propped up against a tree his thoughts wandered impatiently: How long would it be? How long would it be before that fool Devereux would come and find him here in his humiliation? No, Devereux wasn't the fool, he wasn't the one to be blamed for this days work. It was he, Chauvelin, who must take responsibility and add yet another failure to his growing list and watch his once respected name slide further still into oblivion. He was notorious for loosing his grip on the Scarlet Pimpernel, if indeed he had ever had it. The worst of it was that not only was he considered a disreputable embarrassment to the Republic, but now people thought that he must be a lunatic as well, for who but a lunatic could ever have come up with the conclusion that Sir Percival Blakeney was the master-mind behind the incredible rescues being made? But he knew he wasn't a lunatic, or just having a dream ­ or nightmare. Few people understood as he did this seemingly supernatural English hero, with his cunning double personality. Even so Chauvelin occasionally had moments when he doubted the state of his own mind. He wished it were only a dream so that he might wake up from it. But no, this was all too real to be merely a dream. And so his mind continued for hours making circles, blaming himself, cursing his foe, and of course always thinking and planning for the next time they would meet. So absorbed was he in his own thoughts that he hardly noted to approach of his fellow failure, Devereux, on horseback with a few other soldiers and an extra mount.

"Citizen Chauvelin!" he exclaimed, half leaping half falling off his horse. "We have found you at last!"

"Yes, you have found me at last. Good for you. Now hurry up and untie me!"

The Captain hurried over and untied Chauvelin who had much difficulty getting the circulation back into his arms and legs. When he had finally regained control of his limbs, he looked once more to Devereux.

"And now what are you going to do? You who have so brilliantly rescued me from my adversary?"

"I know! After him!"

"Your intellect never ceases to astound me. Why on earth would we go after him now? He and his men are probably nearly to the coast by now. It's been hours!"

"Well, I am only just beginning," he said defensively. "I am sure I will do better next time."

"My dear Citizen, I have thought that 'I will do better next time' so many of dozens of times it would make your head spin. Yes, you truly are only just 'beginning'. You will be lucky if you survive to see the end of our elusive Scarlet Pimpernel. I have failed too many times to nearly so optimistic as I used to be, but I'll never rest until one or the other of us is in the grave."

"Ah, don't be so discouraged," Devereux said cheerfully. "All those defeats are in the past, that was before you had me to help you!"

"Forgive me, but I am afraid that I don't count you among my many benefits and useful resources."

"Come on, don't be so glum. True I failed this time, but as I said before, only just beginning and I'll learn quickly. Just you wait and see."

"Your right, you will learn. You will learn that the Scarlet Pimpernel is not to be captured so easily or to be taken so lightly as all that. You will learn that his cunning is far greater than anything you have before encountered."

"Surely it's not as bad as all that Citizen, your just stiff and sore from your long, uncomfortable wait and it has made this whole misadventure seem a little out of proportion. Wait until you get some good hot food and some shut-eye before you judge yourself too harshly. Things will look better in the morning. He's a frightfully smart one, he is, but me and you together will learn his tricks and catch him."

"No, you have got it all wrong, the Scarlet Pimpernel is not a simpleton who can just be slept off or caught after you learn a few of his tricks. And a few of his tricks is all you can learn, he always has a new one up his sleeve." Chauvelin said, talking more to himself than to anyone else "As I have said before, you just won't understand until you have brushed shoulders with him at least once, in your case who know if you will ever begin to understand, even after five or six encounters." By now Chauvelin's frenzy of anger and disappointment had subsided and he was again cool, calculating, and determined, if growing tired of the chase.

"But, Citizen..." said Devereux, trying to continue the conversation, but with no success, for Chauvelin had already turned his back on him and began to mount his horse.

©Blakeney Manor, 2005