We continue along the cobblestones of Paris, many of them cracked and sunken from wear and age.  Then, Lady Eliza stops abruptly and turns towards us.  
  "Elsa, you had better go back to the inn with the Marquis and his sons- no sense in all three of us getting caught, and somebody should stay with them."
  The Guilder, somewhat dissapointed, pauses and nods obediently before turning and heading in the direction of the inn.  We watch her go, and then return to our ducking in and out of every alley for cover.  It's tiresome, but far better than being cought in the open.  We finally reach the prison gate.  Oddly enough, there is no one guarding the gate.  
I glance at my companion in hope, and she nods as we slip into the dark.  The passages look familiar, but all is hazy and distorted, like a bizarre dream.  Lady Eliza steadies me as I pitch and stumble.
 My head clears as we hear voices coming from the end of the hall.     
Angry shouting proceeds from around the corner, and we listen, my palms growing clammy.    
 "You really thought that you could defeat the republic of France?  Our country has one of the most powerful heritages of all time!  You truly are crazy, men!  Now that you are mine, it only takes one swipe..."  
Lady Eliza peeped around the corner at the activity.  When she withdrew and turned to face me, her face grew white with fear.     
"Chauvelin,"  is what she mouthed to me with so much terror in her eyes that I too began to tremble and pale.  The horrible speech droned on.
  "Yes, and now that I have you, I only have to figure out which one of you is the Pimpernel.  But, I suppose, other than for my own personal humor, that much doesn't really matter, since all of you will die, anyway.  Ha!"  
This time, I glanced around the corner.  Sure enough, there was the accredited agent himself, looking more than pleased with himself, but the men he hovered over were in disguise!  All wore the typical dress of French paupers and wearing cowl-like hoods to cover their heads and faces.  At least the problem of their identity becoming general knowledge wasn't a problem... for now.   
We both stood there for a short time, fretting over the entire situation while Chauvelin contined to pace around his victims, growing more and more eager to learn their identities as he toyed with them as a cat does a mouse.  Then, an idea struck me.  I whispered a few words to my lady, who was presently standing next to me, and she nodded briefly and I gathered up my wits along with a mask and hat.     
As I stepped into view, I secured a black mask around my face, and a black hat to cover my head.  I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn't in my dress.  As I saw the Frenchman glare at me in astonishment, I couldn't help but grin profoundly and announce to him,
"You look for the Scarlet Pimpernel, yes!  But I am your fellow, my good man!"  
 I had deepened my voice and the thick accent of southern Europe flowed with my speech.  Once more, Chauvelin looked at me increduously, and I couldn't help but giggle inside- here was one of the most respected men in  Paris staring at me like an idiot!  It didn't take him long to regain his dignity, though.  He cocked his head and watched me in intrest and curiosity.  He drew closer, and I drew my sword.  He backed off and began,
"So you're the Scarlet Pimpernel, eh?"   
"That's correct, m'sieur."
  "Then you are an expert swordsman?"
  "That I am."
  "Then I suppose you wouldn't mind a duel?"
 He asked this, and rather confidently drew his sword, a sly grin playing his lips.   
His extreme confidence made me falter slightly, but this was what i had been trained for, wasn't it?
 "But of course I wouldn't mind it, good sir!"  
At that, he drew his sword, and a duel commenced.  At first, I was terrified, but then I got into the spirit of the game.  Yes, my adversary was an experienced swordsman, but so was I.  It was all parry, thrust, swing and slash combined with acrobatics.    
As our blades crossed, I saw utter fury on the man's face.  I had never seen anyone so obsessed with his work.  I grinned good-naturedly at the sport, and as he saw my face, and atonishment crossed his.  Then, a thing I would never have expected came from him!  He grinned right back!  The same grin of triumph and battle that I wore he wore too, and an understanding passed between us.     
Then, I saw Lady Eliza ushering the Bounders and Pimpernel away from the scene, and she too wore a disguise.  I suprised my opponent by knocking his sword out of his hand, and it landed several feet away from him.  Chauvelin looked at me in astonishment and horror.     
"A worthy duel and a worthy opponent."  He expected me too kill him!  Then, the thought hit me- wasn't I supposed to?  I directed my sword to his throat, when I heard heavy footfalls proceeding from the next hall.  
There was no time!  Without thinking, I hit the Frenchman over the head with the handle of my sword, and continued down the corridor that Lady Eliza had taken.  I could barely hear the scuffle of feet in front of me, and I followed the sound, out of the prison through an old wooden door.  As I scrambled up the bank of soft loam, heading towards freedom, adrenaline coarsed triumphantly through my veins.  I couldn't wait to catch up with Eliza and the Bounders.   
They were visible in the distance, and they slowed enough for me to catch up with them.  When I did, we continued quickly to the cover of the inn where Percy and his men stayed.  Many thanks awaited us there.  When we were safe in the inn, Percy and his men removed their cowls and turned to us.   
"I don't know how I can thank you two enough... could you be so good as to remove your masks and give me your names?"
 I turned to Lady Eliza.  She shook her head; as much as we would have liked to tell them, we could not let them know!  She spoke for us, her voice accented and lowered as well.
  "No, good sir, I'm afraid we cannot reveal that."   
Percy was shocked.
 "But... you saved my life.  Why would you do such a thing, and then not even care to tell me your names?"  
 I broke in.  
"We only wanted to protect the protector of the innocent.  Just like yourself, we cannot reveal our identity.  But you have our respect."
 With that, the lady and I walked out of the inn, twelve pairs of eyes focused intently upon us.
  The way to our lodgings wasn't long, but we marched triumphantly the whole way, and laughed back and forth, the same way we laughed whenever we heard of the notorious Spanish swordsman dressed in black, who was presumably the Scarlet Pimpernel.  

Return to the main Archives page
The writer of this story has left the Guild and requested her e-mail address not be made available to the general public. If you would like to congratulate her on a story well-written, e-mail me and I shall be happy to pass anything on to her!