"The specifics of our task I will explain shortly. For now, you must you only must know that the success of the League's next mission is in peril, and consequently, so is the Scarlet Pimpernel himself."
She looked behind her nervously and then said, "No, I will have to tell you now. There is no time! You remember how we helped to save the Marquis de Garner and his family from the guillotine last spring and how we brought them safely here to England?"
I nodded.
"Well," she said, "Chauvelin has discovered that the Marquis and his family are in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel and may use him to discover Percy's identity."
I gasped.
She continued, "He has sent several spies to watch the Garner family's every move. We must some how warn the them and get them out of the country without letting the spies know. Will you go?"
I sat up and said, "Genevieve de Garner is my best friend. I've known her, her parents and her brother, Michel, since I was very young. I will."
"Go, then. If you can contact someone from the guild fast enough, she can go with you."
Morning came and I was off for the Garner maison, about an hour outside of Paris, with Lady Brittany Banny, a fellow guild member and friend of Genevieve. When we got there, a maid came to the door, admitted us, and told us to wait in the parlor. After a moment or two, Genevieve came rushing down the stairs to meet us. She was a few inches shorter than me, with long, blonde hair put up in a bun, and a beautiful, fun-loving face.
"Lizzie! Britt! Oh, I've missed you!" she exclaimed as we were smothered in a hug.
"We're sorry we couldn't come by sooner, but business kept us in London." I apologized.
"If it's business with the Guild, then it's quite all right," she said. Then, she sighed. "I wish I could join, but France to far away to attend the meetings."
"We'll find a way to get you in!" I said. "Now, the Guild is the reason we came. Can we talk to the whole family?"
"No," said Genevieve. "Michel has gone to Paris on business."
"Damn!" Brittany said. "that means that we will have to divide our forces warning Michel and getting the rest of the family safe at the same time!"
Genevieve looked alarmed.
"Why.... I'll get Mother and Father."
She went out of the room and came back in a few moments with Marquise Marguerite and her husband.
"Now, please, tell us the problem," she said as they sat down. So I did.
After I finished, I added, "We believe that Chauvelin won't strike until Monday, which means we have to get you out of the country, unnoticed, in four days."
There was a small silence. The Marquis was the first to react.
"Fine," he said. "Do you have a plan?"
"Actually, I think I might," I said thoughtfully.
The next day, the family, Brittany, and I left in full nobility regalia and in full view. We traveled to Le Chat et le Fromage where the Marquis loudly requested two rooms for the night: one for the three girls and one for the Marquis and his wife. I saw a small, pinched man in the corner. When the Marquis announced that we were staying the night, I saw his eyes light up, but pretended not to notice him.
When we were properly settled in our rooms, we ordered dinner, ate, and pretended to go to sleep. When was all quiet in the inn we silently crept to the door.
"It's locked!" Genevieve whispered fearfully and Brittany glanced at me nervously.
So, I thought, our little spy is clever. But not clever enough!
" Hold on a second," I said. I got a candle and inspected the crack of the door. "It's just as I suspected!" I whispered. "It's just a bolt lock. I just need my pick."
I opened a small draw string bag and pulled out a flat piece of metal. Then, I stuck it in the crack of the door and pushed up. I was rewarded with a click and the door swung silently open. We crept, without a sound, into the adjoining room. The Marquis and his wife were already in their disguises and Brittany, Genevieve and I slid into ours. As a final touch, I drew from my pouch a box of makeup. When I was finished, before me stood an old and frail minister, transformed from the stout, strong Marquis, a ragged seamstress that was the Marquise, two fishwives that were my two friends, and myself was one of the grubby, underfed boys that lately adorned the streets of Paris. I crept to a corner of the room and lifted up a trapdoor, revealing a passage. The hinges gave a loud telltale squeak and we all froze. All was quiet.
"Brittany," I whispered, "Take the family safely to England. I shall go to Paris to get Michel."
"Liz!" she whispered fearfully. "You can't go by yourself!"
"Not without me!" said Genevieve.
"Jenny, you are not coming either," I said firmly. "We need to secure the entire family's safety, else Chauvelin may capture you and use you as bait to loosen your fathers tongue."
"She's right, Genevieve," said her father.
"All right, father," she said and descended down the passage. We all looked at each other.
" That was too easy," said the Marquis. I nodded.
"We'll find out what she has in mind soon enough," I said, with my eyes narrowing in suspicion. The Marquis and Marquise descended down the stairs and were engulfed by the darkness of the passage. I looked around the room and noticed that the door was slightly ajar. I was suddenly alert, for I could swear that we had closed it. I heard a click of a hammer on a pistol being cocked. On instinct, I flung myself to the left of the door, just as a shot fired. It grazed my shoulder. Three more shots fired as I scrambled down the hole. I felt a searing pain shoot up my arm, but I paid no heed to it and motioned for the family to run.
"Go on and make a break for it!" I shouted above the shots being fired from above. "Britt, take good care of them!"
I ran in the opposite direction, planning to draw their fire, but slipped and fell. I knew nothing more.
When I awoke, I found myself in a dank cell. I was lying on a thin, straw- filled palette by one of the slime covered walls.
"Well, our young friend is awake," said a figure in the doorway. I was relieved to see that I still had my masculine garment on. I knew that they hadn't figured out that I was a girl yet.
"Here's some food and drink, young man."
A delicious smell wafted through my nostrils, coming from the warm, fresh-baked bread on the platter he was holding and I realized that I was quite hungry. I reached for the food, but he withheld it and said, in a teasing tone, "Not until you tell us where the Garners have gone."
I screwed up my face in puzzlement. I'd sell my own mother before telling any of the Republic where the Garners were, not even on a rack with Robbspeare interrogating me and threatening to execute me. Not even when my head fell into the basket.
"Who are they, citizen?" I inquired.
"Don't play stupid, boy!" the man yelled, throwing off his mask of kindness. "You were there. You helped them escape!"
"I don't know who you are talking about, citizen!" I said, just as loudly.
"Well," the man said, fuming, "You shall not have food, nor drink, nor light until you tell me! La Force shall be your grave!"
He stormed out.
" So," I thought, "I am in La Force prison. My French friends, unknowingly, have given me easy passage into the city. If only I could get out of here I could search for Michel! If I remember correctly, a man in this prison by the name of Onri Girard is in the pay of the Scarlet Pimpernel. He has brown hair and always wears an apron, and he has a scar on his left cheek. He is the odd jobs man around here. Well, I'll watch for him then."
After about an hour of counting the stones in the wall, that man came by.
"Onri!" I whispered to him.
He stopped and looked in. I froze. It was Michel Garner! He was in a disguise, of coarse, but it was still him!
"Michel!" I whispered. "What on earth... You are the man who....."
It suddenly all came together.
"Michel, it's me, Elisabeth de Chat!"
His eyes widened.
" What...? Never mind that. We must get you out of there!" he said.
"But first I must warn you! You are in great danger!" I said, quickly. "Chauvelin has sent spies to watch you and your family! They are safe, but we must get you to England, where your family is now, if Brittany followed her orders."
"When does your guard come to give you food and water?" he asked.
"Never! I am restricted to have any food until I tell where your family is," I replied.
"Damn!" he said. "Wait here!"
He walked slowly down the hallway, so as to avoid suspicion. About a half an hour later, he came and unlocked my cell, with the clothing of a guard in his hands. I did not ask how he obtained them, but hastily put them on. He went out to see if all was safe and when it was, walked away. After counting to fifty, I followed, and shut the door behind me. He was just far enough away that it did not look like he was with me, but close enough to lead me to the exit. Every time I passed an actual guard, I cringed, hoping he wouldn't recognize an impostor. Soon, we reached the back exit.
"Now, Liz," he said, "Go to the Bleu Champignon Inn, and wait for me there."
"Got it," I said, and I ran off into the alley.
After running for a few minutes, I slowed down and looked over my shoulder, to see if anyone was following me. An arm shot out of a side alley, grabbed me by the throat and dragged me to where the owner of the arm was. A hand was clamped over my mouth and a knife was put at my throat. I looked up into the eyes of a very familiar fishwife.
"Do not scream, or I will slit your throat," she snarled. "Where is the boy suspected of warning the Garner family being held?"
She took her hand away from my mouth.
"Jenny!" I said frantically. "It's me!"
"Liz? Oh thank God!" she exclaimed and smothered me in a hug.
"Jenny, what are you doing here?" I asked.
"Looking for Michel," she said.
"Well, I found him," I said. She sighed with relief. "He is in La Force prison..."
"Oh no! They have him already?" asked Genevieve, panicking.
"No! Don't worry!" I said. "He is working there as a odd jobs man under the name of Onri Girard. Come with me! We will go and wait for him at the Bleu Champignon."
I changed out of my uniform and we entered the inn one at a time. I sat at the bar and ordered some food, while she took her place at a table. About five minutes later, a man came in and sat with me. He had red hair and knife scars on his wrists.
"Liz," he said. "It's me!"
"Good." I whispered. "The fishwife over there is Genevieve." He looked surprised.
"Very good disguising job!" he said, impressed.
Soon afterwards, we were out of Paris with passports that Michel had acquired. We spent the night at an inn and the next day caught a boat for England and freedom!

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