Lark glanced sideways at Duncan MacLeod, the handsome Scottman's
that was a good friend of the Wingfield's. An expert woodsman, MacLeod
was frequently Sir George Wingfield's hunting companion. But not
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"I think I have a suggestion," MacLeod spoke in his thick
Scottish accent. "Lark and I can go inside and distract the guards, while
you stay out here and take the family to the big guy."
help but stifle a laugh. Duncan had been referring to Percival Blakeney as
'the big guy' ever since he joined the Violet Guild. It was obvious he held
Sir Percy in high esteem, just like the others.
"Agreed," said Eliza,
"but how are you planning to distract all those guards? There's well over
ten guarding the door alone. Once you're actually inside, there will be
even more to deal with."
Duncan grinned devilshly. "Don't fret, Lady
Eliza, I have thought up the perfect illusion." Lark exchanged one final glance with Eliza and followed him down
"Mr. MacLeod, before anything is done, can you please explain
to me what your plan is?"
"No need for formalities," said Duncan,
turning his head to flash her his 100 watt smile. "Just Duncan will do."
"Well then......Duncan, what does this plan call for? Nothing too ridiculous I
hope. It was bad enough the last time I was here. If any of your plan calls
for crying and babbling on about fru fru, count me out."
"No need to worry about a thing yet, my dear. All you need to do
is stay hidden."
She followed him across the street. Together they walked
in the dark besides the prison. Ahead they could see a flickering lantern
and the low rumble of men's voices.
"Stay here." Duncan instructed her
suddenly. "I'll be right back."
Lark didn't hesitate, she simply stayed
against the building, drawing her cloak more tightly around her shoulders.
The early morning hours always seemed so much colder in France.
Duncan ran out from his hiding spot, jumping around frantically.
caught the Scarlet Pimpernel!" he shrieked in French, waving his arms in
the air. "I caught him, I say!"
The guards seemed unamused. Lark worried that Duncan wouldn't be able to trick
them, but the Scotsman seemed to have no intention of giving up.
"Tis a miracle!" Duncan yelped.
His French was flawless, Sir Wingfield
often joked that Mr. MacLeod spoke the language better than the French
"You must help me! I trapped him in my stable, but I'm afraid
he might escape. He's tricky sort of fellow, this Pimpernel."
guards snickered. "What's he look like then?"
"He's tall," began
Duncan, "and ugly. It's hard to say exactly. After all, it IS dark."
your stable far from here?" "No, not at all! It's around the corner!
Please hurry, citizens! He may make a hole in my stable and all my horses
"Alright," the head guard agreed. "Take us to your
stable, citizen. You there," he added, pointing at a solider. "Stay behind
and keep a close watch."
"Yes, sir!" the chosen one barked.
"Hurry, hurry!" Duncan encouraged, starting backwards down the street.
In a neat formation, the soldiers followed the hysterical Scotsman down
the street and around the corner.
Lark was only slightly relieved.
What to do about the one remaining guard.....?? Her mind raced, but only a
million useless ideas swarmed in her head. Then, just before she was
about to give up and go back to Lady Eliza for help, she realized exactly
what she had to do.
Duncan led the foolish soldiers over to a stable two blocks from the
prison. It was an abandoned building, and it would do perfectly.
this it?" barked the head soldier.
"Yes," whispered Duncan, cowering
in fear, "go on ahead."
"This is it for you, Pimpernel!" called the lead
guard with a sinister laugh. He threw open the door to the stable and
marched inside, the others right behind him.
Duncan moved closer to
"Have you got him yet?"
"I don't see a thing!" one of the men
"There's not even a horse, let alone the Pimpernel!"
Before any of the men could think about escaping, Duncan shut the door
and locked it. With a satisfied smile, he hurried up the block to rejoin his
help me! I feel faint!" Lark stumbled in front of the jail, a hand to her
forehead. The guard seemed concerned.
"Do you require a doctor,
She leaned dangerously towards him, and fell into his waiting
arms. The keys to the prison jingled from his belt, and were now within
"Oh, no, thank you, sir," she said, trying to keep her French
informal. "I shall be quite alright. It's all the excitement, you see," she
babbled, slipping the keys from his belt and into her own pocket. "I believe
I just laid eyes upon the infamous Scarlet Pimpernel!"
was taken back.
"The Pimpernel? Where?"
"Down there," she said,
pointing in the direction Duncan had run off in. "It was just awful. He was
single handedly cutting down ten French soldiers!"
The soldier's face
paled. In a second he had helped Lark stand up once again.
Pimpernel destroying the French, you say? How many blocks?"
least ten," she assured him, "perhaps more."
Forgetting all about his
watch and everything else, the soldier headed down towards the
Just as he had disappeared among the
shadows, Duncan came jogging up, a triumphant grin doing his handsome
"How did you rid of the last one?" he inquired as she fumbled for the
"I took him for the idiot I knew he was," she explained,
unlocking the main entrance.
Duncan opened the door a crack,
quickly peeked inside and closed the door again. "Three guards," he
reported. One in the middle of the room, the other two at the far end."
"Well, what do you propose we do?"
He grinned devilishly. "I have yet
Lark was not pleased with Mr. MacLeod's idea, but it was a cunning plan,
and she had no other choice but to follow it.
'This had better work',
she thought as she waited for Duncan to be ready.
mouthed to her.
She swallowed nervously and nodded.
MacLeod slapped himself across the face as hard as he could, leaving his
own hand print. Lark screamed bloody murder and cried out, "Unhand me,
you filthy pig!" In French, of course.
Duncan yelled back in the same
romantic language, "Nonsense, you useless wench! You've run away for
the last time!"
"What's going on out- mmmffph!" the soldier that had
come to see about the commotion was silenced before he could finish his
The strong Scotsman had him in a headlock, and a minute later,
the man fell unconcious.
"Hurry up," Lark encouraged as Duncan
dragged the Frenchman around the corner into an ally way. "We're running
out of time."
MacLeod emerged a few minutes later, dressed in the French
soldiers uniform. Lark broke into muffled laughter. The costume was much
too short on him.
"Shut up," muttered Duncan. He held out his hand
to her. "The keys."
She handed them over and watched him
disappear into the jail from behind the partially open door.
you?" asked a raspy French voice.
"Relief," snapped Duncan, "your
The other soldier checked the time. "We still have two
The soldiers were hesitant.
"What happened to your uniform?"
"They didn't have my size," explained MacLeod, "now go on home."
"You're going to take over our shift by yourself?" asked one.
Pierre?" asked the other.
Duncan was obviously getting irritated.
Their time was running out. "Pierre ran after some citizen who was
disturbing the peace. When he returns, he will help me with the shift."
The soldiers were satisfied with this explanation, said goodnight to
Duncan, and left.
When they were out of sight. Lark went inside to
join Duncan who was unlocking the cell holding the Marquis and his boys.
The Scotsman was also trying frantically to explain the situation to them.
When everything was clear, the five took the back door out and headed
into the ally Lady Hastings was waiting in. As Lark approached, her own
smile faded when she saw the solemn expression on the woman's face....