Lady Hastings was cut short as a pistol was fired from the box opposite.
"Quick, down on the floor!" she whispered as, with startling swiftness, she pulled Sir Edward down, under the chairs, "He's an assasin," the Lady said in response to Sir Edward's surprised look. "Quickly, out of the door and run!"
"But," stammered Ronnaly, "The audience!"
"They'll be OK once we're gone, quickly now."
The two of them crawled through the gap in the door; once they were both through, Ronnaly slammed the door to and they ran, the Lady holding up her skirts, through the corridor and out into the open street.
"Well," said Lady Hastings, as she rearranged her hair, "How about going somewhere a little less exciting, Mozart always seems to bring out the worst in people, don't you find?"
As he stared at his cafe au lait, it suddenly struck Sir Edward Ronnaly how beautiful Lady Hastings was. Of course he wouldn't say that, it would be anathmea to his manners, but even so....
"Sorry, Lady Hastings, what did you say?" he said, suddenly aware that she wass looking at him as though for a response. She sighed and repeated what she had said.
"As I was saying, the Scarlet League is carrying out a rescue mission. There is a League member who is being held under the stage. So there is currently, every night, a League member in a box for every performance. Unfortunately, my husband was known to be in the League, the only thing that keeps him from Madame Guillotine is the lack of any real evidence against him. He was seen entering the building, and the assasin ,that is also present for every performance, was alerted. It is rumored that one night, a special epilogue is to be acted which features this League member slandering off the Pimpernel, the rebellion and the King."
Edward is taken aback at the cruelty of this, but sees, with some embarrassment, that she sees his emotion.
"Quite, anyway, the Pimpernel himself is hiding in the theatre every night, and they are waiting for him to make the rescue so that he can be caught. As you are a new member of the Guild, we need you to also be in a box, next to the assasin's. Your job will be to make sure that the asassin will not hinder the operation, let it go if the Pimpernel does not move. He will not do so until the Epilogue is announced. Do you accept?"
"Well, my first mission, and I get a chance to save the Pimpernel," he thought to himself, "How can I refuse?"
"Anything for the old country Ma'am. Yes, Ma'am, anything for the true colours." replied Sir Edward with a voice that suggested rather more courage than he felt. With a deep bow he walked out of the building with a deep sense of forboding.
That night it was Beethoven; he kept waiting for the assasin to make a move, but he did not.
"Oh well," thought Sir Edward as he walked down the passage, "Maybe tomorrow." The following night it was Chopin, again nothing. Then a play about the French love tradgedy 'Martin Guerre'. He was beginning to be so doubtful about the epilogue ever actually happening that he even began to enjoy the show!
Then it was the Friday, Martin Guerre again. Edward relaxed, not thinking very much, and started to day dream. He noticed that the play was near the end of the first act. He got ready for the tremendous bang that came out of the cannon at this point and had scared him half to death last night, but nothing happened. A young man came on the stage, not much older than Ronnaly. He was looking very shaky and nervous, hardly able to speak. Just as he opened his mouth, a flurry erupted from up in the scenery catwalk. A red cloak swooped down as a man, wearing a velvet mask, landed on the stage.
Quickly, Sir Edward took his cue and leapt into the box next to him. He fought, punched, shook and pushed, until he had the gun in his hand.
"Surrender!" He ordered ferociousley, "Or I'll shoot you!"
"Pardonez-moi, monsieur,I don't think so," said the assasin in a more French accent than Madame Guillotine herself could have managed, "You see, the premature epilogue took me by surprise too, they tell me nothing you see. They say 'Jacques, fire the gun at the man who jumps on stage at epilogue', so I do! Anyway, the point is I still have the cartriges in my pocket. The gun you hold is not loaded!" he delivered that last remark with a laugh. Just as Ronnaly examined the gun to find out if this were true or not the Frenchman lunged at him.
Ronnaly stepped smartly to one side and pushed him over the rail of the box where he fell to his death with a scream.
Sir Edward examined the scene with contempt. The audience were fleeing, and it turned out that there was a League member in every box, for they had all run on to the stage to stop the guards who came to try and prevent the escape of the Pimpernel. The Pimpernel then made his escape, but no sooner had he done so than a net was dropped over the League members on the stage from the catwalk above. The League was trapped!
Sir Edward faltered for a second or two, then turned and fled out of the theatre, thinking that it would be better to report his findings to Lady Hastings then be caught now with a dead man on his conscience.
Later, after he had seen the Lady, a meeting was called for all the guild members....

Return to the main Archives page
Mail the author!