"I have been contacted," she continued, "by one of my informants, that Chauvelin and some of his spies came accross the channel not four days ago. After they landed, their plan was immediately put into action."
I raised my eyebrows, urging her to continue.
"Somehow, they managed to kidnap your cousin, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes."
The blood in my veins froze. I could feel my limbs turn to ice. The only thing I could manage to say was, " Poor Suzanne."
Lady Hastings patted my hand saying, "She's fine. I believe she's staying with Marguerite at the moment."
I nodded slowly, as my body regained some feeling. "And then?" I choked.
"He was then taken, of course, to Paris. A message was sent, shortly after to the Pimpernel, requesting that he come to Paris immediately. It was signed by Chauvelin."
I was in such utter shock that I could only whisper, "What did it say?"
"Something about a duel. I'm told that once the duel commences, the Scarlet Pimpernel will be overpowered, and captured. Then, of course, all that will await will be a trial and the guillotine."
Silence filled the the box for a moment or two. Then Lady Hastings spoke again, as if to answer my unspoken questions. "I send you because, first of all, he is your cousin. Secondly, I know how determined and fearless you are and that you'd sooner die than fail. Normally, I assign missions, but this one is so dangerous that I can only ask for your help. You must understand that this is so dangerous, I can only risk sending one guilder, for it may be suicide....," she broke off and looked away.
As I watched her, I heard myself saying that I won't fail. But all I can think is, "What am I going to do?"
As the France bound schooner moved beneath my feet, I thought of the plan. It was simple and would be over quickly but it was very risky.
Hours later, after the old schooner was docked, I found the safe house Lady Hastings spoke of. Inside the shack, were costumes, wigs, and props galore. I chose my outfit carefully, making sure everything was in place. Then, I went around to the back of the structure and mounted one of the two horses there and headed straight to Paris.
The gates were crowded when I arrived, for the carts were assembled to leave Paris for the night. But because of my wonderful costume, getting through was easy. All the guard at the gate had to see was the filthy uniform I had chosen, which was practically identical to his.
As I rode my horse to the House of Justice, I went over the mission, hoping it would calm me down.
First, I had to get into the House of Justice and find Sir Andrew. Then I'd have to distract the guards while I gave Sir Andrew his disguise and got us both out. Then we'd have to warn and tell the Scarlet Pimpernel.
"Simple enough," I told myself. But one wrong move, one slip up and Sir Andrew, the Scarlet Pimpernel and myself would be dead.
It was dark out when I arrived. I could barely make out the make out the outline of the intimidating place of death. I marched to the closest door and opened it. The odor, that made my nose twitch, could've killed one who was not prepared for it. It nearly made me fall over. I turned around, took a deep breath of the sweet night air and plunged into the prison.
The inside of that building reminded me of a cave. It was dark, filthy and full of rats. About every 50 meters or so, a lit lantern was hooked on the left wall.
As I walked along, I heard the low murmur of voices. All of a sudden, a door, directly to my right, opened and out clambered...Chauvelin. By now he was shouting at the top of his lungs.
"I said, I want his cell guarded day and night. Not just when you see fit. Secondly, three soldiers won't do. I want a dozen. NOW!!!!"
"Yyyeeesss, sir," mumbled the captain of the guard as he stepped into the hall. "Right away."
And with that, Chauvelin looked satisfied, until he laid eyes on me.
"And just where are you supposed to be?"
"I'm on the day shift," I replied as deeply as I could. "I just came to see if I was needed to guard that rotting piece of flesh they call an Englishman."
Chauvelin turned to the captain, a devious grin on his thin, sickly lips.
"A true patriot," he said proudly. He turned to me again. "If you're willing and able, good. The more guards, the better. Follow me."
He turned and started taking long strides down the hall. I nearly had to run to keep up.
After about a good ten minute walk through the maze of drak corridors, did we then come upon the cell of Sir Andrew Ffoulkes.
The cell itself was not visible, save for an iron door with a small window in it. The window was so crisscrossed with bars, it was barely a window.
I could just dimly make out the outline of three soldiers, two sitting in the dirt and one leaning against the wall. As they saw the oncoming Chauvelin, they quickly straightened their uniforms as they came to attention. I marched as masculinely as I could, trying to be more klutzy and less agile in my movements.
When Chauvelin was close enough, he started baarking at the soldiers.
"This isn't free time!" he shouted. "That vile Englishman could come at any moment."
All I could think was, "Please keep him away, God, please keep him away."
As Chauvelin continued screeching, you could tell that the soldiers were completely ignoring him. And Chauvelin just rambled on and on and on. As he FINALLY finished griping, the orders were given. I was to be in charge, seeing as I was 'a true patriot'. Afterwards, Chauvelin shuffled away, content that his prize was protected.
I let everything remain peaceful for, oh, ten minutes. Then, the fun began.
"What was that?" I ased abruptly.
"What was what?" asked one soldier, while another replied, "You don't think it's the Englishman, do you?"
"There's only one way to find out." I drew my pistol. "After him, men. Remember the reward!"
Those poor, poor soldiers ran shouting into the darkness.
I turned, and quickly grabbed the ring of keys off the hook on the wall started trying keys, while praying at the same time. At the fourth or fifth try, the door, finally creaked open and I peeked inside.
As I stepped inside, I heard a shuffling noise directly to my left. I did a barrel roll forward and turned quickly, pistol drawn.
"Andrew," I began slowly and softly, " Its' me. Now put the chair down."
"Calista? Is that you?" Andrew stared at me in complete amazement. "How? What are you...?
"No time for questions, cousin. We gotta go."
I handed Andrew another soldier disguise that I had hidden under mine.
"Quickly, put this on."
When he was ready, we left. The journey out of the prison was uneventful, save for when a passing soldier asked, greedily, if we had seen the tall Englishman.
Once we were a safe distance away from the House of Justice, I gave Andrew a note to give to his leader.
"I assume you will be able to catch up with him."
"Yes. But what of you, cousin? You haven't given me a straight answer, yet."
"I know. And maybe someday I will. As to your other question, I must leave. Keep the costume. It should keep you safe 'til you find your leader. Take care."
I turned then and left.
My journey back was pretty much the same as my trip there. Boring and uneventful. I went to the safehouse, changed clothes and headed back to the schooner. To go back home. To another mission.

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