"Calais?" Isabelle murmured the word to herself, wondering what that
strange message meant to say. She stared out the window, shaking her
head. "Why would he send for me of all people? Lady Hastings I
understand, but me?"
A sudden fear hit her; what if something had
happened to Tony? No, it couldn't be. Tony was in London for the
week-end, why should he be in trouble? But what if he was not in London,
what if he had gone to France after all?
A few moments later, Isabelle's horse had gotten her to the front steps
of Tony's palatial home. She jumped off and knocked several times on the
door. The butler opened it and smiled graciously at her.
"M'Lady, this is indeed a surprise. What brings you here on such a
"Danvers, is Lord Tony at home?"
"Why no, m'Lady, did he not tell you he was in London for the week-end?"
"He did . . .but I received a rather odd message that I needed to ask
him about. Have you his London address?"
Danvers gave it to her and Isabelle took off toward London, hoping with
every step the horse took that Tony would be there. Reaching the flat,
she was surprised to find the door unlocked. A cold feeling settled
around her and she slipped from her purse the pistol she always carried
with her. Holding the weapon against her side, she opened the door.
The flat was in complete disarray. Someone had obviously been looking
for something Tony had in this flat. Isabelle moved further into the
rooms, trying to figure out what the intruder might have been looking
for. A sound from the bedroom turned her attention there. Isabelle
raised the gun in front of her and walked slowly toward the room. She
threw open the door and cocked the pistol.
"Drop whatever you have . .
.don't think I won't shoot you!"
"Isabelle . . .what the devil?" Tony spun around and Isabelle dropped
the gun in shock before running to him.
"I saw this and I thought . . ."
"I know what you thought. I know how your mind works, darling, remember?
Yes, I came back a few minutes ago and found this wonderful surprise."
"What were they looking for?"
Tony wavered on whether to tell her or not. He finally decided to do so.
He trusted her enough.
"I think they were looking for some letter from
"Nothing new, then. I assume they didn't find it."
against him, relieved.
"No, I had it with me."
Tony fingered the letter in his pocket. "I
haven't even read it yet; perhaps I should have." Isabelle sat down on
an overturned trunk while he read it. She didn't pry into his business
and knew that if it was important, he would tell her. Tony looked up.
"He wants me in Calais."
"Tony, there's something I must tell you. Percy sent a letter to Lady
Hastings. He wants me in Calais too . . .I can't imagine why." Tony
stared at her for a few seconds, then set the letter on fire with one of
"Come with me then, Isabelle. I think there's far more to this than we
The ship dropped anchor several hundred yards off the coast of France
and a small boat moved out from behind it. Tony glanced at the shore and
for one moment, he could have sworn he saw light glinting off a pair of
binoculars. Shaking his head, he decided he had been seeing things.
The boat pulled up on shore so Tony and Isabelle could get off. The
sailors saluted them grimly and went back to the ship. Isabelle turned
"They certainly don't seem optimistic about this and they don't even
know why we're here."
Tony shrugged. "They have reason to be pessimistic about it. We ARE at
war with France, unofficially." They headed for Le Chat Gris, a
disgusting, run-down establishment favored by the League of the Scarlet
Pimpernel. Inside, they found the usual welcome wagon, the dirty and
perpetually annoyed Citoyen Brogard and his equally dirty wife. He spat
on the ground, like he always did when he saw one of the
'saccres-anglais' in Calais but, as usual, he said nothing more.
Isabelle and Tony sat down at a corner table and she leaned across to
whisper to him.
"Tony, I have a terrible feeling about this. Shouldn't
he be here by now, Percy that is?" Tony, himself, had told her that
Percy was the Pimpernel even though she already knew it from Lady
Hastings. She had no intention of getting Tony involved in anything more
than the League so she kept her mouth shut.
"I don't know. You're right, however, something does seem wrong. 'Tis
too quiet. Normally, there are soldiers enough to turn the streets into
a French flag." He shook his head, eyeing Brogard as he shuffled across
The door opened and both Isabelle and Tony looked away, not keen on
being recognized by anyone but Percy. Then, a hand tapped them both of
them on the shoulder. A grinning Revolutionary guard stared down at them
with glittering eyes.
"There's someone who'd like a word with you both."
Isabelle and Tony looked at one another. Neither of them wanted to
follow this grinning officer but they knew it would ruin any chances of
not looking suspicious if they refused. Tony stood up first and Isabelle
The guard led them down the street to another inn and showed them into a
small room toward the back. He closed the door behind him. Isabelle took
a deep breath, expecting to see someone she'd rather not have an
encounter with. Then, the man sitting behind the table spoke, dispelling
all her fear at once.
"Why do you both look as though you were headed to the guillotine? Odd's
fish, Tony, what am I to do with you and this fiancee of yours?" Percy
stood up and Tony relaxed slightly.
"Percy, you scared the living daylights out of me by sending that guard!
I thought it was Chauvelin."
"Yes, I'm sure Brogard thought the same and it does me good to think
that. Now, to business." Percy's smile faded as he looked at Isabelle.
"Do you know why I sent for you?"
"No, Sir Percy, I had no idea." Isabelle spoke the truth. Percy motioned
for them to sit down and sat across from them.
"I have reason to believe that we have an informer. Our current mission
has been jeopardized; they have moved the family we were preparing to
help escape from Paris to a prison near Marseilles. I can only guess it
was because someone warned the Revolutionary government that we had
intentions of helping this family escape. At first, I suspected you,
Isabelle, but no sooner had I sent the letter, did I realize you had
nothing to gain by it. I ask for your forgiveness."
Isabelle was taken aback. "Of course I forgive you, Sir Percy. Have you
any other ideas as to who this informer might be?"
Tony had been silent
during Percy's entire explanation but he spoke up.
"Percy, someone broke into my flat in London and I suspect they were
looking for something to link me to you. They obviously knew I had some
connection with the League and my fear is of how much they know."
"You're right, Tony. I've already sent word to Andrew and Hastings,
telling them to remain in England for now. Someone in the French
government knows far too much for them to be safe in France. We are in
much danger, my friends. I regret bringing you into this, Isabelle; you
should go back."
Isabelle stood up. "I have no intention of leaving until this is cleared
up. You can either let me help you or I'll be forced to do something on
Percy cracked a wry smile. "Tony, she'll be a handful. Isabelle . .
.since you seem set upon helping, you can. We certainly can use you."
The three sat in that dark room, planning, until the candles finally
Marseilles was dark and chilly at nightfall a few days later. Tony felt
an involuntary shudder run through his spine as he stepped out of the
carriage near the Allees de Meilhan. The city seemed strangely cautious;
the past few times he had visited Marseilles, everything seemed as it
had before the Revolution. Now, guards lined the streets like nothing
before. He stared across the city streets, looking longest at the Palais
de Justice where the de Varennes family was being held. He suppressed
another shudder at the sight of the guillotine set up in the square.
Tony walked up the stairs in the building where Percy had promised to
meet him. Isabelle was out chartering a boat and she was supposed to
return within the hour. Tony pulled out his pocketwatch and frowned.
Something at the back of his mind told him not to go into the flat
designated by Percy. Why not, he asked himself, how could anyone know
about that? He pushed open the door.
The room was empty. The only thing there was a scrap of paper lying on
the ground. Tony snatched it up and read Isabelle's scribbled note.
"Tony or Percy, whichever of you gets here first, for God's sake don't
try for the Palais de Justice now! The de Varennes family is being
guarded at this very moment by our esteemed friend Chauvelin. He knows
we're here, though by what means I know not. Get out of Marseilles and
stay in the village on the outskirts. He has soldiers scouring the city
for you. I cannot write any more but I will try and find you."
didn't sign her name but he knew her handwriting. Tony left the building
after ripping the note to shreds and throwing it into a nearby fire.
Meanwhile, at the Palais de Justice, Chauvelin leered at his new
captive, knowing she had no way to escape. Isabelle stared back at him,
simultaneously trying to get her hands free behind her back. She raised
her chin and spoke loud enough for all the other prisoners in the room
"He won't come, Chauvelin. The lives of others are more
important than mine."
Chauvelin laughed. "You think I believe a word you say? My dear girl,
you are losing your touch. Once, I would have believed it but now? You
are a fool to think so."
Isabelle raised an eyebrow. "And what of the Pimpernel, citizen
Chauvelin? What happens when he leaves for England with the family you
seem so keen on keeping?"
"The family is to be executed this night, earlier than planned . . .and
you with them if the Pimpernel does not show his face."
Isabelle's blood turned cold but she had no intention of letting him see
that. "He won't come, Chauvelin, and you won't gain anything by killing
Chauvelin felt his merriment begin to abate and fury begin to settle in.
He turned and left her tied to the chair. Isabelle's eyes roamed about
the room and met those of Estelle de Varennes, one of the people meant
to escape this night. Somehow, that glance gave her more determination
to get the bonds untied.
"Percy, what are you saying?" Tony paced around the tiny hut in the
village outside Marseilles.
"I'm saying Chauvelin has her, Tony, that Isabelle lied to both of us in
that letter. I was at the Palais de Justice this very afternoon and I
saw him drag her in." He had also heard Chauvelin's ultimatum but
decided to keep it out of Tony's hearing. "I have an idea but it will
take clockwork timing."
That evening, Percy and Tony followed a sailor, one of Percy's friends,
into the sewers below the Palais de Justice. The sailor pointed out a
trapdoor above them.
"That was used by some knights to escape centuries
ago. Only a few of us know of it and I very much doubt the Republic is
one of them."
Meanwhile, Isabelle had managed to saw open the ropes by rubbing them
against an iron plate. Snatching up the plate, she moved silently behind
the guard and smashed him over the head with it. Isabelle picked up the
keys from his belt and threw open the door to the communal cell at the
other end of the room. Now, she thought, all we need is a way out . . .
Tony and Percy pushed the trapdoor open and she nearly fell over in
shock. Managing to keep hold of her senses, she helped the fleeing
prisoners down into the sewers where the sailor led them to the seawall.
Tony, Percy and Isabelle were the last to leave. Before she left,
however, Isabelle traced a star-shaped flower on the floor of the
prison. She turned to Percy.
"I couldn't resist."
Rather than sail straight to England, knowing Chauvelin would expect
them there, Isabelle suggested that they sail toward Italy. Taking a
roundabout way, they reached Dover a few weeks later. Isabelle, entering
her flat, found the letter asking her to meet Percy in Calais. With a
smile, she hid the letter beneath a pile of others, to look at sometime
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