Chapter 1: Into the House

Lark looked at Lady Hastings in confusion. "Why would Percy ask for me?"
Lady Hastings destroyed the note. "Perhaps because he knows you know about the League, and after all, Lark, you are Grappin's wife."
Lark managed a smile. "Whatever this is all about, it better not involve me and Citizen Chauvelin."

Hastings and Lark entered the busy streets of Parus trying not to look suspicious as they made their way towards Pimpernel headquarters. Lark had questioned Hastings about the mission on the ride over, but he too knew nothing about it.
They reached the hideout door. Even in daylight it was enveloped in darkness. Hastings quickly gave the secret knock. The two waited for a moment before the door was opened and they were allowed to step inside.
Dewhurst greeted them with a rifle.
"Oh, Hastings, it's you! And you brought Miss Wingfield. Splendid! Come."
The door was closed, and Dewhurst led Hastings and Lark to see Percy.
The Pimpernel was very glad to see them both.
"Hastings, Miss Wingfirled, welcome." He rose to his feet and looked at Lark. "I'm sorry, Lark, but I need you as Michelle again."
"I figured as much," Lark replied, not so much disappointed. "May I inquire the goal of this mission?"
Percy came over to them, a serious took on his face.
"Obviously it again involves Miss Wingfield's favorite French citizen, Citizen Chauvelin." Percy paused, noticing Lark's expression of disgust. "We recently rescued a Duchess and her daughter, and when we went back to rescue her husband last evening, he was gone. We do not know where he had been taken."
"And you are hoping Chauvelin does?" Lark asked.
"I am sure Chuavelin does," answered Percy. "We have no one else to turn to. Our contact in the prison does not know where he had been taken or whether he is even still alive. Chauvelin will not tell Grappin, but I am hoping he will tell Michelle, his lost love."
He smiled at Lark and raised his eyebrows.
"There is almost nothing I will not do for you and the League, Percy," she paused, and almost smiling said again, "almost."
Dressed in a red dress cut in the usual French tart fashion, Lark, or Michelle, if you prefer, trotted up to the front door of Chauvelin's home. Pausing only to toss her hair back over her shoulders, Lark knocked and waited patiently.
'Chauvelin had better be home,' she thought, 'I don't want to have to come back.'
Luckily for her, the door swung open as soon as she was finished thinking.
Chauvelin stood there in his trademark white shirt and sash. He looked upon her in surprise. "Mich--Michelle?"
Lark leaped into the Frenchman's arms.
"Chauvelin! Oh, how I've missed you! I was a fool to ever leave you!"
Chauvelin was still in shock. "michelle, this is so sudden...."
She backed off. " are not happy to see me?" Lark frowned.
Chauvelin's face suddenly changed and he wrapped his arms around her.
"No no, my love, of course I am happy! He kissed her. "Come, come inside."
He shut the door.

Hastings was back at the League hideout, questioning Percy about his part.
"I assume you need me for something specific," said Hastings, "I pray you won't ask that I seduce Chauvelin as well, Percy."
Percy laughed. "I'd turn to Ozzy for that if necessary, Hastings," he joked, "your part is very crucial. Lark doesn't even know about it."
Hastings had learned not to be shocked by anything Percy requested.
"I'll do whatever it necessary."
"Good." Percy grinned. "Tell me, Hastings, how are you at breaking and entering?"

"Breaking and entering?" Hsatings repeated, shocked. "May I ask where and why?"
Percy was still smilling. "The where is Chauvelin's home and the why is because of this note I intercepted from Chauvelin to Robspierre."
Hastings took it and read it over:



Hastings frowned. "I assume you want me to find the plans and destroy them, but there is something I do not understand. Why not just have Lark do it while she is already in the bastard's house?"
"She'll have enough trouble trying to find out where the Duke has been taken. Besides, I think the plans may be in the son of a b---h's bedroom and if she goes in there I doubt she'll come out the same, if you catch my meaning, old friend."
Hastings nodded. "I most certainly do. Don't want to make things more difficult for the poor girl. Just tell me what you want done."

Chauvelin led Lark into the parlor and shut the window shades. They sat together on the sofa, his arm circling her waist.
"Tell me what made you return, my dear."
Lark snuggled up against him. "Oh, Chauvelin, I missed you terribly. The little things aren't important."
The Frenchman ran his fingers thought her curly black hair.
"Weren't you afraid you might see your husband?"
Lark stiffened. "That poor slob? He has no control over me."
"You broke his heart when you left him, you know that," Chauvelin reminded her. "You broke mine as well, Michelle."
She took his hand. "I'm ever so sorry, Chauvie. It broke my heart to leave you. I don't know what on Earth I was thinking."
"It's not important," said Chauvelin. "The only thing that matters is you're back now to stay."
'To stay'?! Lark was alarmed at Chauvelin's last comment. How was she to reply? "As long as I am able," she eventually answered. It seemed as though the Citizen had taken more than a lustful shining to her....

Hastings and Percy both knew that it would be no walk in the park to break into a prominent Citizen's home in the middle of the day. However, there was no choice in the matter. Leaving Lark alone with Chauvelin after dark would not be wise, considering the Citizen's reputation with women. The young woman had been instructed not to leave until she got the signal, no matter if she had achieved her goal a good time before. Lark had also been instructed not to let Chauvelin go anywhere, no matter what.
If everyone stuck to their instructions, there would be no problems.
Hastings, Dewhurst and Percy, (dressed, of course, as Grappin), strolled casually up behind the Citizen's house. Dewhurst would serve as lookout.
"Are you quite sure that they are not upstairs?" Hastings whispered without glancing at Percy.
"Yes," replied Percy, "Lark would not let Chauvelin take her upstairs."
They paused, all three of them, and glanced at Chauvelin's open bedroom window.
"Thank goodness for hot French summers," Percy muttered, taking a rope out from under his jacket. There was no one around. Dewhurst moved out closer to the road against the bushes, paused to survey the scene, the gave the all clear signal.
Hastings and Percy were ready. The Pimpernel went first, climbing up the grating on the side of the Frenchman's house. The vines were in his way, but Percy managed not to get tangled in it despite his long legs. Once he climbed inside, he tied the rope to one of the certains and tossed it down. Hastings caught it and handed it off to Dewhurst. If something posed suspicious, Dewhurst would pull on the rope to warn them.
Hastings then scrambled up the grating, only briefly getting tangled in the unfriendly vines. When he climbed in the window, he found Percy busy seraching. They had to find the plans quickly.

Lark wished the lips pressing down on her neck weren't Chauvelin's. They could ahve been anyone elses (well, nearly anyone) and it would have been better. What made her feel worse was that she was enjoying his advances, and could barely get a word out about the Duke.
Good things her father had no idea what she was going. He thought she was in London visiting relatives. Little did he know she was in Paris in the home of a dangerous Republic leader doing unproper things once *again*. If he knew that, he would lock her up in the house for all enternity.
Things were getting dangerously intense when Lark heard the first noises from upstairs.
' What is going on up there?'
She didn't know if this had anything to do with Percy or not, but no matter what happened, Percy had told her specifically not to let Chauvelin away from her until she got the signal. She hoped Chauvelin didn't hear anything. Just to make sure, she ran her fingers through his brown hair to cover his ears.
"So, I heard the Pimpernel struck again last week," she casually mentioned.
Chauvelin removed his lips from her and sat up, arms crossed.
"Don't remind me of such things."
"I am sorry," she apoligized, sitting up and adjusting her dress. "I suspect that the Duchess of St. Jaques and her daughter escaped. I saw them on my last trip out of the country. I did not see the Duke, however."
Chauvelin smiled evilly. "He was left behind, and now he is no more."
Lark tried not to look shocked and disgusted. "Executed?" she tried to sound casual. She was supposed to be French, not British.
Chauvelin nodded.
"He fell to the blade yesterday. That is one criminal the Pimpernel will not get!" He leaned over her again. "Now where were we, my dear?"
' Ugh, and I was enjoying this, why?' Lark questioned herself as she forced a smile. "I'm sorry to have interrupted."
"Sssshhhh," Percy whispered as he serached beneath Chauvelin's mattress. "We don't want them to hear us searching."
Hastings only nodded in reply. Chauvelin had so many drawers in his bedroom. And why? It wasn't like he owned a large variety of clothing.
"What if it isn't here, Percy?" Hastings whispered. "Where should we look?"
"If it's not here, it's down in the study." Percy replied softly. "Chauvelin wouldn't be smart enough to keep it with him."
"Downstairs?" whispered Hastings, a bit deflated. "How are we to accomplish that?"
"Finish searching these last few drawers, and then I'll explain."

The noises had disappeared. Lark glanced around, gasping for breath, hoping for the signal. When she turned to glance at the stairs, she noticed Hastings creeping down, trying not to make a sound. He didn't notice her, but she nearly gasped upon seeing him. Quickly she slid her hand around Chauvelin's neck to keep his head down until Hastings cleared the steps.

'I want this disgusting slime ball off of me!' she thought. 'Being handsome does not make up for being ruthless. I have having to do this to help Percy, but what can I do? Chauvelin always seems to be distracted by me and--'
"What was that?" Chauvelin asked, abruptly sitting up.
"I didn't hear anything," she answered innocently, trying to catach her breath.
Chauvelin sat there on top of her, listening like a fox. "I just heard it again," he said, getting to his feet. "I better see what it is."
'Oh no!' Lark thought. 'He'll see Hastings! And he's obvisouly here for a reason!'
  She leaped to her feet as well, ignoring the fact that her dress was half unbuttoned. "No! Don't bother! Just stay here with me!"
"I hate to be interrupted as well, my dear, but let me see what that noise is. I'll be right back. I'm sure it's nothing."
Lark shook her head and grabbed his hand firmly. "It's probably just the wind," she insisted.
"I just want to be sure," Chauvelin said, trying to pull his hand free. "Michelle!"
"Stay here," she said, thinking rapidly to figure out how to keep him, while keeping in character.
Chauvelin broke his hand free of her grip and turned to leave, but she grabbed him by his ponytail.
"Ow!" Chauvelin yelped.
"I *really* don't want you to go!" she insisted.
Chauvelin yanked her hand free of his hair and turned around. For a moment Lark was sure he was going to hit her, and she turned away in fear.
"Alright, my darling. If you wish me to stay this badly." He stroked her cheek and she relaxed. That had come too close. She noticed Hastings peeking around the corner, and quickly pulled Chauvelin close and kissed him passionately so Hastings could escape upstairs. Her heart was beating widly in her chest. That was *much* too close.

CHAPTER TWO: Out of the House

Hastings rushed back into Chauvelin's bedroom where Percy sat, tying the rope around himself.
"I found the plans, Percy," he said with a smile, taking it out of his pocket. "What now?"
"Put that away and help me tie myself up."
Hastings did as he was told. "This is an interesting part of the plan," Hastings joked.
"You escape, and go back to the hideout with Dewhurst. Lark and I will be there shortly."
Hastings put a gag in his leaders mouth and climbed down to safety.

Chauvelin had just succeeded in getting more buttons undone when he and Michelle clearly heard a loud but muffled "HELP!" coming from upstairs.
Chauvelin broke away from the kiss. "What the--" he looked at Michelle. "Don't tell me you didn't hear that."
Lark shrugged. Was that the signal? She couldn't remember....
Chauvelin was heading for the stairs.
"I'm going to settle this right now."
"Chauvelin!" Lark ran to keep up with him, her nearly unbuttoned dress keeping her back. She followed him into his bedroom where the cries for help were eminating from.
Grappin sat in the corner, tied up and gagged.
That had been the signal alright. Obviously Percy had another part of his plan that he had carried out without telling her. Lark stood there, shocked for a moment.
Chauvelin was shocked as well. "Grappin?" breathed the Frenchman.
Lark knelt down and removed the gag from Grappin's mouth. She also untied him. "Grappin, my husband, what happened?"
"Yes, Grappin. What are you doing here?" Chauvelin asked sternly, noticing Michelle's affection for the Belgian.
"Well, sir, I was passing by your house, and I saw this man climbing up the grating under this very window. I did not think that you were home, so I followed him up to confront him. We struggled, and he managed to knock me unconcious and tie me up. What I woke, I saw him leaving, clutching a piece of paper. I think he may have been downstairs."
Chauvelin frowned, pressing his lips together. "That must have been the noise I heard," he mumbled.
Grappin glanced at Lark who had to hold up her dress. "I see you were quite busy, Citizen Chauvelin."
Lark blushed, looked away from her supposed husband and quickly fixed her dress.
Chauvelin was deep in thought. "Why would someone wish to break into my house just to steal paper....??" he thought aloud.
"You're so brave to try and stop that awful thief," Lark cooed, stepping over to Grappin. "Citizen Chauvelin is thankful for your effort, I'm sure."
"Yes, yes of course," Chauvelin muttered, only half listening. He was still trying to figure out why someone would break in.
"Grappin, he might have killed you!" Lark continued, looking at Percy with adoring eyes. "Was he armed?"
"He had a knife," Grappin answered, playing along, "but I attacked him anyway."
"Did you hear that, Chauvie? The burgler had a knife," Lark told the confused Frenchman.
"Yes, that's nice, darling," Chauvelin mumbled, wandering out of the room.
Lark and Percy followed him.
"Well, I see you're preoccupied right now with your little burglery, so I'd best be on my way," Lark sighed.
"Uh-huh," Chauvelin muttered, not giving Lark even so much as a second glance.
Lark crossed her arms and acted disgusted.
"You know, Chauvelin! This is what I mean! One minute you're the nicest man in the world, the next, you don't care whether I live or die! This time I'm leaving you---for good!" She turned to go.
Chauvelin finally snapped out of his daze on the word 'leaving'.
"What?! No!! Michelle, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to ignore you! No! Stay!"
Lark was half-way out the door. "Come on, Grappin."
"Come on Grappin?!" sneered Chauvelin, appalled at this invitation. "What are you doing?!"
Grappin shrugged and stepped out the door, closing it behind him.

Chapter Three: Happily Ever After?

"I sincerely hope no more missions involve Chauvelin and me," Lark sighed as they reached the hideout.
"I wish this entire blood bath would come to an end, and then there would *be* no more missions." Percy sighed and unlocked the hideout door, and they went inside. "Did you find out the whereabouts of the Duke? I must begin the plans of his rescue."
Lark ceased to breathe for a moment, and her heart froze. "I'm afraid there will be no rescue, Percy," she said slowly and softly.
Percy too stopped in his tracks, a pleading look in his eye.
"What do you mean?" he asked cautiously. He knew the answer, but was reluctant to face it.
Lark hesitated. "He was executed yesterday, Percy. I'm sorry, but there was nothing you could have done."
Percy sank into a chair, his head in his hands.
"How can I possibly explain to the Duchess that I've failed and her husband is dead? I promised her I would rescue him!"
Lark knelt besides him. "Percy, you did not fail. You never even got the chance. There was no way you could have known about the execution."
Percy shook his head slowly.
"You cannot save everyone, Percy."
"If only I could, Lark. If only I could."

Chauvelin was in much trouble indeed. His plans to capture the Pimpernel were nowhere in sight. He had searched his whole house over three times with no luck. The burgler from three days ago must have been a League member! Somehow he had found out about Chauvelin's plan and stolen the instrucions. Now the Pimpernel himself had them, and everything was ruined. Now what was he going to tell Robspierre???
The End


Return to the main Archives page
Mail the author!