I smiled at the serving girl as I took a pastry from the plate she
The young girl just blushed and curtsyed, going into the crowd to see if
anyone else wished for anything. I smiled and sighed. I got that a lot here
I turned and surveyed Lady Hasting's wonderful courtyard. It was full of
the greenest grass I had ever seen. Sculpted shrubs stood overlooking the
cement pathways that wound everywhere.
As I gazed down from the foyer, the Hasting's other guests milled about,
laughing, joking, and just generally having a good time. I folded my grey
cloak about my shoulders and smiled.
"Are you not enjoying yourself, Etienne?"
I spun to see Lady Hasting's gorgeous face smiling at me. I inclined my
"Of course I am, Madame."
She motioned with her cup of tea. "Then why are you up here alone?" she
asked with a slight smile. I removed my hat before I spoke to her.
"Forgive me, milady, but I feel somewhat..of an outsider."
"Nonsense, Etienne," she said with a giggle. "You're one of us... no matter
I smiled again. "Of course, Madame."
She flashed her wonderful grin at me again and turned to walk down the
stairs. "Try to enjoy yourself, Etienne."
I watched from my perch as she walked down the stairs to where her husband
was speaking with other members of the Guild. I closed my eyes and felt the
cool English wind on my face and felt... at ease.
It had been such a long time since I hadn't had the pressures of the
Division on my back.
I opened my eyes to see Lady Hastings looking at me as her husband read a
small parchment that a servant handed him. When Lord Hastings finished he
threw a glance at me and handed the note to his wife. I felt his eyes on me
until Lady Hastings finished. Then I felt both sets of eyes on me. I looked
back to catch a small motion by Lady Hastings, signaling me into the house.
She set off with her husband in tow, obviously expecting me to follow.
Curious, I walked down the steps and into the large mansion.
As I walked through the large, elegant doors another serving girl motioned
for me to follow. She led me through twists and turns in the house until
opening the door to a small study at which I believed was a remote corner of
their house. I entered the dimly lit room to find Lady Hastings sitting on
the edge of a wonderfully cushioned chaise with her husband standing over
her. The looks on their faces told me all was not right.
"Monsiuer..Madame...is everything all right?"
"Come in, Etienne," Lord Hastings said, "And shut the door behind you."
I did as I was told.
"Etienne," Lady Hastings began, "Do you understand this, my friend?"
She handed to me the letter her and her husband had read. Setting my hat on
a nearby table I took the parchment and unfolded it, reading the slanted
You are needed in Calais. Come promptly. And bring your wife's
friend Lt Deparde."
The letter ended with a red-stenciled flower. I looked at the two of them
"What does this mean? Who is it that wishes to speak to me?"
"Etienne, that letter came from the Scarlet Pimpernel himself."
I did not do well in concealing my shock.
"Madame, the Scarlet Pimpernel himself wishes to see me? I did not know the
Pimpernel even knew I existed."
Lady Hastings looked at me rather strangely. "That's the peculiar thing,
Etienne. He did not know that you were in cooperation with the Guild."
~ <> ~
I met them three days later in a small port town some ways outside of
Canterbury. I left my horse with one of Lord Hasting's servants and soon we
were on our way across the channel though barely a word had been spoken
between me and my host and hostess.
~ <> ~
We found Calais in an uproar. Soldiers roamed the streets in force,
stopping people at random to check credentials and simply harass every one
in decent clothing. I was watching the strangness of my own country when
Lady Hastings stepped behind me on the docks.
"Timothy will meet us seperately. He has things to take care of."
handed me a small piece of paper. "We are to meet with our escort here. Do
you know where it is?"
I looked at the address and nodded. "Of course, milady, but we need to go
soon. I would not like to be stopped by guards after dark."
"Then lead the way."
We set off hurriedly. It would take almost an hour to make the rendezvous
and by then it would be twilight. The walk was taut. Everything felt tense
and Lady Hastings said not one word as I lead her to the small cobble shop
she had indicated.
"Now we wait," she said, taking a seat on a closed rain barrel set somewhat
back in the alley.
Several times soldiers marched past. I tried to keep myself from sneering
most of the time. They were not real soldiers like those of us in the
Division. They were nothing more than drunkards who wanted an excuse to
bully people and have their little witch hunt for "aristos". I sighed and
held my digust to myself.
There was only a sliver left of the sun when a shadowy figure approched us
from the opposite end of the alley. I stepped between the man and where Lady
Hastings stood as she hopped down from the rain barrel.
"Arrete, monsiuer."(Stop, monsieur)
The man halted where he was. He understood French at least.
"It is almost night, sir. Why are you here?"
"Why, good Lady," he answered. "I'm here to lead you to the light."
"It's alright, Etienne. This is our man."
"Yes," hissed a voice from the blackness. "That he is."
I spun, instinctively reaching for the sword hilt that was not there.
Cursing myself I watched four men step out from the shadows. Large, burly
men who skulked about like jackals harrying a sick antelope. I stepped close
to Lady Hastings to better protect her.
"Citizens," I began. "Just leave us be and no one will be hurt."
One of them laughed. "Just give us the woman and YOU won't be hurt..
This was bad. There was no way I could defeat them all. In a flash I drew
the knife I kept hidden in my boot and I stepped sideways and forwards to
narrow the space they had. A little ways away I heard the rasp of steel. I
prayed it was our contact. Things would be much better if he was armed as
The lead man sprang suddenly, a club held in the air. I heard Lady Hastings
gasp as I sidestepped and hammer the man to the wall with a backhand. Chaos
insued. They seemed to be everywhere as I struggled to keep blows from
striking. I heard a tremendous crack and turned to see Madame Hastings
holding a shattered piece of wood and standing over the unconscious form of
one of the thugs. Another tackled me and threw me to the ground. I heard
Madame Hastings scream. NO! I threw the man off of me and smashed him to the
ground with my fist.
It was over. I got to my feet, breathing heavily. I looked around and
gasped. Lady Hastings lay on the ground unmoving. I rushed to her side and
dropped to one knee. Blood trickled from her temple, but she still breathed.
Glancing over my shoudler I realized I would receive no help from our
contact. He lay dead alongside the ruffians. I snatched my cloak from my
shoulders and spread it over the fallen Hastings.
"What in the bloody hell!" came a shout behind me.
I spun just in time to catch the pistol butt that sent me falling into
~ <> ~
The pain in my head increased as I slowly came to. I blinked to try and
clear my vision. I reached up to place a hand to my head... and stopped. My
hand didn't move. My hands were bound behind me and to the chair I was
Quickly, I looked around. I was in a small, bare room with only one lantern
on a nightstand for illumination. I was facing a wall that was nothing but
I stopped breathing as I heard voices behind me. They were muffled. Possibly
on the other side of a door.
"Yes, we found him over the Lady Hastings with a blade nearby."
"Allan...is dead sir. Though he sold his life dearly. There were five others
dead or unconscious nearby."
"Were they this man's friends?"
"We don't know, sir. Though we assume they were mercenaries."
"Mercenaries, eh? Hmmm. Wake him up...bring him."
The door opened and a young, well-dressed man entered the room. Upon seeing
me awake his lips curled into a slight sneer. He said nothing, however, but
just released my bonds from the chair and lifted me to my feet, shoving me
to get me started down the hallway. I thought it best to go willingly.
I was finally pushed into a dimly lit room where other people stood. I
quickly studied their faces, and felt relief.
"Oh, Monsieur Hastings....."
"Silence, dog!" he snapped.
In shock, I did as I was ordered. The other men nearby I did not know, but
they were both armed. I stood absolutely still, trying to work things out in
my head. I was about to chance another question when another man entered by
a side door and walked over to sit in the desk in front of me. I watched him
"So you're Etienne?" he asked after studying me for a moment.
"Oui." I had decided to keep my answers short. I was in ropes and a man I
once would have called colleague looked as if he might slit my throat for
"You failed, you know," the man said with a slight hint of satisfaction.
When I said nothing he continued. "The Lady Hastings is still alive."
I was apalled. This fool actually thought I wanted the Lady dead!
"You are mistaken," I said quietly, keeping my features smooth. "I wished
no harm on the Lady Hastings."
"Liar!" Timothy Hastings screamed, stepping forward and clenching his
The man at the desk motioned and Timothy stepped back, still quivering with
The man at the desk looked at me with cold, dark eyes. "You wished no harm
"Then why were you found over her with a blade in your hand?"
I returned the glare of ice. "I was defending her from the brigands who
The man scribbled something on a piece of paper and handed it to one of the
swordsmen nearby, whispering some orders. He turned back to me and adjusted
"Why are you here in Calais, Etienne?"
"The Pimpernel sent word that he wanted to see Lady Hastings and myself."
"Do you know why I sent for you, Etienne?"
I narrowed my eyes. "You, sir, did not send for me."
I continued, answering the question in the man's eyes. "You are not the
Pimpernel, sir. Why would you disclose the identity of your leader to
someone you hold in bondage and accuse of injuring your friend? And,
monsieur...the handwriting on the letter does not match yours."
A small smile crossed his face. "Intelligent, I see."
I felt like snarling. Instead I kept my face cool and presented the
question I needed answered.
"Why am I being held prisoner?"
"Cutting to the point," the man said, losing his smile. "Alright. Some of
the Violet Guild's Couriers were stopped en route to their destinations. We
know this because one survived. Subsequently, information captured by the
Republic led to the capture or death of seveal of my own messengers.
Luckily, our code has not been broken and the Republic hasn't gained any
really valuable information. They do know I am in Calais.."
"You mean the Pimpernel is in Calais," I interjected.
The man looked at me coldly. "Yes. The Pimpernel is in Calais, hence the
amount of soldiers."
He leaned back against his desk and continued. "We were really troubled by
this until we found out who was responsible for most of the arrests. Your
Division, Lieutenant, has been patrolling the roads non-stop since the first
capture. This of course meant nothing to us until someone remembered Lord
Hastings mentioning a soldier his wife had enlisted in her cause."
I lost my cool, fury running through me. "You can't possibly be insinuating
that I am a spy for the Republic!"
"That, citoyen, is precisely what we are saying."
"You are all fools!" I yelled. "The only other person who even knows that I
am in league with the Guild is..."
I stopped suddenly and blinked. "Capitan Agravaine." I finished in a
The man watched my sudden change in temperment and then motioned to the
gaurds to take me away. Still in a daze I allowed them.
No. It couldn't be. Not Auguste. He wouldn't have. My eyes widened as I
realized the obvious. They have him! They must have. There was no other
reasoning. Auguste wouldn't have betrayed me. And that meant.... ELISE!
I hit the first guard in the stomach with my foot and hammered the second
one aside with my shoulder. I bolted down the hallway, looking for some way
outside. Shouts followed. I ran the length of the hallway and began to get
desperate. There were no doorways. Finally, gritting my teeth, I hurled
myself out the window, glass shattering before me.
Pain lanced through numerous cuts and scrapes as I crashed to the ground
only to spring up and run off into the night.
~ <> ~
I glared at the guard from underneath my plumed hat. I was dressed in my
uniform, grey corset and cloak with black gloves and riding boots topped off
with the white-feathered hat.
"But, Lieutenant, I cannot. I..."
"Are you telling me, citoyen," I said in french, "that I CANNOT go in to
see the traitor Agravaine?"
"Oui..I mean, non, Lieutenant. But..."
"Ecoutez," I hissed. (Listen) "I helped this man for years. Not only was he my
commandant, but he raised me as if he were my own father. You WILL let me in
to see the man who smudged my honor... citoyen."
Shaking, the rough-looking and dirty guard placed the rusted key inside the
lock and turned it, allowing me entrance into one of the deepest cells in
the Palace de Justice. It had taken me a week to make it to Paris from
Calais and another couple of days to figure out what I was going to do.
Keeping my fierce facade, I stepped into the cell and slammed the door
behind me. Once I was sure the guard outside was not standing in front of
the door I threw my hat off and knelt quickly by the haggard-looking man
laying on the straw cot against the wall.
Auguste's eye fluttered open and he smiled. "Etienne."
I clutched the hand of the man who had raised me since the death of my
father and felt hot tears rising to my eyes.
"Father," I said, knowing that even if the guard outside was listening he
would not understand English. "Are you alright? Have they mistreated you?"
He shook his head. "I am alright, Etienne. I still live. Why are you here?
It's much too dangerous. You must flee before they recognize you."
"Because I'm taking you with me."
"How?" he whispered.
I shook my head. "Pere. Is Elise alright?"
He closed his eyes. "Oui, Etienne. She is with Margot in Champagne. I knew
they were getting close to me so I sent her there."
I let go of the breath I had been holding for what seemed like days. My
sister was safe. That made things a little easier. I had come here fully
prepared to cut my way through the Palace de Justice if I had learned they
had my sister held captive as well. Now I set my mind to matters at hand.
"Father, listen to me," I whispered, leaning close to him. I feared for the
guard to hear my plans even in English.
~ <> ~
"Citizen!" I yelled, hammering my fist on the door.
The guard opened the slit on the door and looked inside.
"Morbleu!" the guard yelled, spying Agravaine's body laying un-moving on
Quickly, he opened the door and dropped to examine his prisoner. He pulled
his hand away and went pale as red blood coated his fingers.
"What happened?" he asked rapidly in French.
I sighed and replied, "The bastard became angry and lunged at me," I
sneered. "I had no choice but to kill him."
The man looked at me with helplessness in his eyes.
"Don't worry," I said, looking at Agravaine's bleeding body. "You will not
pay for this, citoyen. I will write you a message for your commandant taking
responsibility for my actions. Besides, he was to die anyway, non." I gazed
at him coldly. "I just sped up the process."
The guard was still looking at me in shock. I had killed the Capitan of the
Division. The greatest soldiers of France.
"Go, citoyen," I said. "Bring my cart around to the side. I will take his
body. He was, after all, my father."
Grateful to have an order by a superior officer, the guard sped off,
wishing to be away from the tense situation. Again I looked at Auguste
laying bleeding on the floor, and this time I prayed a silent prayer.
~ <> ~
Once we reached the side alley I stopped and hurtled the seat and into the
rear of the cart. Quickly I cut the bag holding my adopted father and pulled
him free gently. Gingerly I opened his coat to reveal the small wound in his
side. I had made it small but well placed. It was shallow but bleed
profusely. Luckily the guard had not been coherent enough to check for
himself. Auguste's eyes fluttered open.
I yet again sighed my relief. Pressing a hankerchief against the wound to
stem the flow of blood, I held his face to my own.
"You are safe now," I whispered, feeling tears in my eyes. "You are safe."
Weak as he was all he could do was smile and nod. He was sick. I knew I had
to do something for him. I sat down and began to feel a little sick. My
father was safe, yes, but he was sick from being in that cell. I was almost
sure my letter would not hold up to scrutiny and once it was found that
Auguste's body was nowhere my name would surely be marked for arrest. I
could not make it to England. My father was sick, myself a well known French
soldier. No English trader would give me passage for fear that I was a spy.
And my friends...they all wanted me dead as well.
I closed my eyes. Sought after by both sides. It was almost enough to make
me smile. I sighed. At least Elise was safe. I looked at my father and
brushed his hair back. One option it seemed. I ran a hand through my hair.
Well...at least they would never call me a coward.
~ <> ~
I watched through the window pane as the Lord Hasting sat beside his wife's
bedside and held her hand. The rain that fell steadily into my eyes hid the
tears. I had never wanted any harm to come to the Lady. I would have died
rather than let her be harmed. Watching silently in the rain I noted the
outstanding resemblance between her and Andrea, the woman I had once called
fiancee. I wiped my eyes with my gloved hand, images of Andrea's smiling
face swirling before me before ending in the horrid drop of the guillotine.
That had been long ago; at the beginning of the Revolution, when I too had
believed in the ideal. Andrea had also believed. But the Republic was
indiscriminate. Innocent or guilty...it made little difference. All they had
seen was Andrea's far distant noble lineage. It was then that I had made my
decision to fight the Republic in any way I could.
Lady Hastings had no idea that she so resembled my lost love. I had told no
one in the Guild. I would not have them thinking my judgement clouded by
rage...though sometimes.. I was sure that was the truth.
It was not that I loved the Lady Hastings. She merely looked like Andrea.
She was not her. She could never be her. She just reminded me what it was
like to love. I saw her and her husband and remembered the days when life
had a deeper meaning as well. On top of it all...Lady
Hastings was the only one who seemed to see that there was something beyond
the fact that I was a soldier of France. She was...my friend.
As the Lord Hasting rose and left his wife to sleep, I stood. When the door
was completely shut I opened the window slowly and stepped inside, sweeping
my soaked cloak back over my shoulders. I walked slowly to the foot of her
bed and stood, watching.
She must have felt my eyes on her because her eyes fluttered open. They
widen slightly and she gasped.
"Madame," I said before she could react. "Madame, please, listen to me." I
knelt beside her bed and took her hand in my own, bowing my head. "Madame, I
never..never intended for any harm to come to you. No matter what you
believe I just wanted you to know that."
Surprisingly she had not screamed yet. Taking this as a good sign, I
continued. "Your husband and your friends are all great men and wonderful
patriots. But they are human, madameÖ. and they are wrong about me."
Suddenly, she squeezed my hand.
"Etienne," she whispered, apparently still weak from the blow to the head.
"You speak as if you are separate from my friends. I told you before. You
are no different than anyone else. You are my friend."
With that she smiled and yet again another weight was lifted from my
"Eliza, I was just wondering if..."
I spun to find Lord Hastings in the doorway carrying a tray of soup in
silver bowls. Instantly the fine dishware clammered to the floor and Lord
Hastings had drawn his sword.
"He's here!" he yelled and lunged for me. "He returned for her!"
Instinctively, I drew my rapier and parried. I fought to keep the enraged
Timothy Hastings from ripping a hole in me, but he was fast gaining the
advantage, his arm fueled by anger. I on the other hand was tired from my
hard ride and worried mind.
Within moments other filled the room, weapons bared. I stopped and sighed. I
did not want to kill these men. Even if I would have been able to there was
nowhere for me to run to.
"Stop!" came a feeble voice from the bed.
All eyes turned to see the Lady Hastings sitting up uneasily.
"Stop this madness! Timothy, he's telling the truth."
Lord Hastings looked at me suspiciously. "How do you know that, Eliza?"
"Because," she said slowly. "If he'd wanted to I'd have been dead before you
This logic seemed to lessen the tightness in Lord Hasting's arm, but he did
not lower his rapier from where it hovered precariously near my throat. His
eyes flickered between me and Lady Hastings.
Another man ran into the room and stopped seeing swords raised.
"My lord," he said shakily. "I found a man hidden in a covered wagon around
side the house. It's the Captain Agravaine and he's dreadful sick."
Timothy Hastings looked back at me. "How did he get here?" he asked.
"I rescued him," I replied quietly. "He was sentenced to be hung as a
traitor. That's how the Republic knew about your courier routes. He did not
betray us..he was captured. It was his thinking that saved the Violet Guild
from complete discovery."
Lord Hastings considered me a moment longer then lowered his sword. "Drop
your sword. Come downstairs peacefully." He sighed, glancing back at his
wife. "We will listen."
~ <> ~
I was alone in the parlor when the Lord Hastings entered and crossed the
room to me. It had been two days since I had told them all the story. During
those two days I had remained in the manor, showing that I had no intention
of leaving or trying to escape. I assumed they were checking the validity of
Timothy Hastings stopped a few paces from me, sighed, then smiled.
"Etienne, I owe you an apology. We looked into everything you said and
found it unshakable. I'm sorry for doubting your word and your intentions. I
should have listened to my wife about you."
He bowed low, extending one leg in the manor of the English. I too bowed
though I touched my heart in the custom of my own country.
"You have nothing to apologize for," I assured him. "I would have felt the
same had it been my own wife."
He clapped a hand about my shoulders. "I do have to say, Etienne, you are
the most peculiar man I have ever seen. You wound your own father to make it
seem he is dead and then return here where you knew we would be waiting.
You're either a fool..or..a fool."
I laughed despite myself. Lord, but it felt good.
"On a more serious note," he said. "We have made arrangements for your
father to return to England where he will be safe and receive medical
attention. We've also made plans for you to return to the estate with us in
I shook my head slowly.
"What?" he asked.
"Pardon, monsiuer, but I cannot go right away. I have business to attend to
"But your name will most certainly be out now, Etienne. Come back to
England with us and regroup. I have men here who can take care of whatever
Again I shook my head. "Merci, monsiuer, but ma seour is still here in
France. I must see to her. I will not fly to safety while she still awaits
me in danger."
We had walked to the door and here he turned to extend his hand. "Then
Godspeed, Etienne. I pray you return to us soon. We have use for a good man
I thanked him and turned to go. Outside I saddled my own horse and mounted.
Looking back at the house I smiled. These people were my friends indeed. But
I was still different. None of them could ever understand the pain of
watching your own country eat itself from the inside...or fight for it all
your life only to have it steal away the only thing you've ever loved
unyieldingly. Determinedly I spun my gelding and spurred into a gallop.
France may have taken my pride, my patriotism, most of my life, and my
love. But as I tore down the dirt road towards Champagne I swore to myself
that it would never have my sister. Gritting my teeth, I rode out to find
Elise and bring her to safety.
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