A breath catches in my throat, knowing full well this would be my first mission
for the Guild and the League. Leaving Lord Hastings' to arrange passage to
Calais, I politely bid farewell to all present, with trepidation in my heart. I
leave to make my preparations before departing.
The note is about several young
ladies of the French court who are in trouble and a woman's touch is needed;
someone who sympathsises with their plight. Someone who is familiar with the
back streets of Paris, someone who is a mistress of disguise.
Why did they
choose me?? I am honoured. I can only fathom that I am new to the Guild so it
would be unlikely that anyone in authority will recognise me. So on with the
journey to Dover where a ship called the Mayqueen was waiting to take us to
On reaching Calais, I was still feeling a little queasy ( I was sick a little on
the way over), but I soon perked up. We rode under cover of darkness to Paris,
where we met up with the Scarlet Pimpernel himself, Sir Percy, in a small inn.
To be in the same room as the great man again, I felt in such awe and respect.
Sir Percy greeted us and I curtsied deeply. We had a bite to eat, and a short
sleep, for at any time, the ladies that we had travelled to save could be put to
death by guillotine.
I am fearful for them, as they are in the Bastille, where
I used to be, before Sir Percy and Andrew rescued me and saved my life. My pain
shows for a moment and Sir Percy looks at me with concern. I smile and the pain
passes. My role is shortly to be played.
After our short nap, I dress in servants clothing and put my hair under a cap.
My job is to drug the jailer to give myself the opportunity to steal the keys
that are holding the ladies prisoner. Sir Percy and Lord Hastings wish to
achieve this rescue with a minimum of violence, but will be close by should the
need arise. I know the tunnels and alleyways of the Bastille very well and I
have a good memory. With a hand on my heart and with the drugged wine, I leave
the inn with the gentlemen in tow.....
It's cold out and I pull my threadbare shawl about my shoulders.
whispers to me "For France".
I take a deep breath and walk slowly towards the
Bastille as not to arouse any suspicion. Just out of the corner of my eye I see
Sir Percy and Lord Hastings keeping pace at a discreet distance. I feel a lot
better with them around me, but I am very nervous. Any hint of rescue to the
guards, and I would be back in the jail where I started from.
Finally I reach the gates and say clearly to the guards that I was summoned here
by the chief jailer and ask for directions there. I flirt with the guards and
they let me through after making me "promise" to come back later. I am sickened
at the thought but must keep in character; so much is at stake. I reach the
jailers area and bobbed a curtsey.
"My lord, I was just passing and I wondered
if you would like something I have here".
His face grew into a lecherous leer
so I offered him the bottle, and sat down next to him. His last words were
"you....pretty....thing" before he slumped on the floor.
I grabbed the keys and
rushed the cells wanting to complete the rescue before my deception was
discovered. I heard voices behind me and I quickly hid in the shadows. The
voices grew louder and I was relieved to find it was Sir Percy and Lord
"Nice work", I was told, but this was not a time for pride. We found
the ladies huddled in a corner, all three of them, sisters. Their faces caked
with dirt, their clothes rags.
"Hurry," Sir Percy whispered, "We are with the
Scarlet Pimpernel," and the ladies obeyed. This was the one and only chance for
freedom and it must be taken. We went down the long, narrow hallway and into a
tunnel that I knew about. We ran and ran for our lives until we reached the end
and emerged in the cold air. We were free, but we heard angry noises behind us
and realised that the drugged jailer had been found and the ladies missing. We
only had moments to escape before we jumped on the horses that Andrew had found
for us and the guards saw us leaving. One of them ran up to me and my horse and
I used what little energy I had left to lash out with my foot. Sir Percy shot
the scoundrels and we made haste out of Paris.
We rode until we reached Calais and alighted onto the ship to take us back to
England. The ladies, Comtesses de la Rouen, until now, didn't speak. Shock is
the only reason for this, I believe.
"Fancy footwork back there", Andrew
complimented and I smiled and I replied "All in a day's work for France".
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