Sir Douglas Shields waited for Raymond Denver to make a suggestion, but as
usual, the man was mute.
Doug decided to give him a shove. "Any ideas forming in that brilliant mind
of yours, Raymond?"
The other man simply shrugged. He didn't even mumble anything under his
breath of make any sound of any kind. Douglas constantly wondered why the man
had joined the Guild in the first place.
"I think our best chance is to locate Chauvelin," Douglas spoke up, irritated
by Raymond's silence. "Do you agree?"
"I think that may be our only chance," Lady Hastings agreed with a slow nod.
"If we can locate him within an hour."
"What do you think, Raymond?" Douglas questioned, desperate to get the older
man to talk.
Raymond shrugged to Douglas' disappointment.
"I say we should go ahead and see what we can find out. If Chauvelin's
planning to trap the Pimpernel, you can be certain he'll be around to watch."
"Good point, Sir Shields," Lady Hastings agreed. "I will take the eastern
side of the building. Douglas, you and Raymond take the western end."
"Yes, Lady Hastings. Shall we meet back here in half an hour?"
"Yes, a half an hour. And be prompt. We haven't any time to waste."
Douglas said, "Yes ma'am, Lady Hastings," and Raymond simply nodded.
"Good luck," whispered Eliza and she slinked into the shadows.
* * * * *
Douglas had to admit he was a bit nervous. Afterall, this was his first run,
and he was not too fond of danger. The life of one of his closest friends was
hanging in his every action, and he couldn't help but shake in fear a bit.
Every instinct was telling him to let Raymond lead the way, but for some
reason he could not see someone who would not speak leading him.
And the minutes ticked away. . .
"Do you think Chauvelin will be coming soon?" Douglas whispered.
Douglas asked another question. "Do you think we even have a chance at
Raymond shrugged his shoulders again.
Douglas was losing his temper. He very seldom lost his temper, but being
partnered with someone who would not speak was getting incredibly frustrating.
"Do you think you're ever going to speak to me?" he snapped.
Raymond answered, "Perhaps."
Douglas almost smiled. "Does that mean you're talking now?"
Raymond shook his head.
Doug frowned. What kind of messed up game was this guy playing? "I think we
should have some kind of plan for when Chauvelin comes," Douglas told his
silent partner, "and if you do not wish to speak, I will concoct this plan
He thought frantically, but knew immediately he would not be able to come up
with anything. True, he had read many books, but fiction was not a guidebook
for the real world.
Percy's future was looking bleaker with every passing
moment. Douglas' heart was dancing in his chest, and he began to wish he had
never heard of the Violet Guild and was back home reading or writing to his
love, Lark Wingfield.
If it had not been for her, he would have never thought
of joining up with such a dangerous organization. True, he was violently opposed to the revolution and all its evils, but he was not opposed enough to
join an organization such as this on his own. But he loved her so much that he
couldn't bear to think that she would be risking her life with him just
watching on the side.
Douglas was a quiet young man, and a peaceful one. While
the other distinguished men of title were off hunting and fishing, he was
usually at home reading. Orphaned at age 15, Douglas had inherited his
father's land and title of Lord. (Despite his title, everyone, including
himself, referred to him as 'Sir'.) He had also inherited the huge ghostly
manor house he had lived his entire life in. There were a hundred of rooms in
the house, and Douglas had never set foot inside most of them.
Shivering in the morning cold, Douglas searched the street for any signs of
movement. "Do you see anything?" he asked Raymond.
His partner silently shook his head.
Douglas was about to snap at him again when his eyes caught a flicker of
movement in the corner. His head turned and his eyes came upon the figure of a
person of thin stature walking slowly towards the entrance to the jail.
'It must be Chauvelin', Douglas thought. "Follow me," he muttered to his
partner as he head across the street nonchalantly. Once he was safely across
he backed up against the wall to survey the scene.
"Ok, Raymond, here's what I
think we should do. We should wait here and see what we can hear from this
point, then act upon that. Agreed?" Knowing he would get no verbal response,
Douglas turned his head to face his partner, only to discover Raymond was not
* * * * *
Douglas' heart failed to beat. He looked upon the vacant spot with a pallid
face and a dumbstruck expression. It took a moment for his brain to begin
working again. He spun around and glanced across the street to see if Raymond
remained where he had left him, but there was no sign of the older man.
'Okay, just calm down,' Douglas told himself, 'wherever Raymond is, you can
bet he's safe. You can find him later.'
He took another deep breath to compose himself. Suddenly a shot rang out in the early morning. It had come from the
alley where Douglas had just come from. Had someone taken a shot at Raymond?
Every instinct told him to rush across the street and see to Raymond's
condition, but he knew it was not safe to do so.
Chauvelin was distracted by
the shot, and he proceeded into the alley. Douglas held his breath....if Raymond was spotted....
Still, there was little chance Chauvelin would get a word out of the man.
Raymond's perpetual silence was a bit of a comfort at times like this.
Douglas waited in silence as Chauvelin emerged from the alley way, the same
intent expression upon his fox-like face. 'He didn't see anything,' Douglas
thought, relaxing slightly. 'But if Raymond is not in the alley, where did he
He adjusted his position so he could see the door of the jail, and the single
guard that stood out front. The man's face could not be made out in such poor
"I have made the final decisions for the Pimpernel plan," Chauvelin was
saying. His voice was so low that Douglas could barely hear him. Luckily, he
was able to piece together the details of the plan.
Sir Douglas Shields glanced down at his pocket watch and saw he was late
meeting Lady Hastings. Hopefully Raymond had found his own way back.
"Sir Shields, there you are," Lady Hastings spoke softly. "Where is Raymond?"
Doug heaved a sigh. "We got separated. I was hoping he had come back here,
but I suppose he has not."
"No," Eliza confirmed, "but tell me, Sir Douglas, do you have any news?"
"I have heard the entire operation." Slowly he told Eliza what Chauvelin had
"Wonderful. I now know what we must do. Douglas, you must follow the guard
and foil his part of the plot. Here," she added, holding out a pistol. "Take
this, but use it only as a last resort. Out job is to protect the members of
the League in any way that is necessary, but we are not murders. Understand?"
Douglas hesitated before taking the weapon and hiding it beneath his coat.
will not fail you."
"I, in the meanwhile, will see if I can locate Mr. Denver. You heard
Chauvelin say there were to intercept the Pimpernel in 15 minutes?"
"Well the we shall meet back here in thirty minutes." With some final parting
words, they parted, each with their own separate mission to accomplish
* * * * *
Sir Douglas Shields peered around the corner of the jail so he could get a
good look at the prison guard. The man was pacing, his musket held straight
up, his head hanging as though he was ashamed about something. Doug suspected
that the guard would leave his post at any moment. He would have to stay
A few uneventful minutes passed by, and Douglas spent each one of them dreaming of the woman he loved back in England.....ah Lark Wingfield....The
very hint that she was near made his heart flutter with excitement. How he<
longed to be back with her. Just to be in the same room would do.
now he had to watch the foppish French guard like an owl, to watch where he
was heading. The life of Percival Blakeney hung in the balance.
Snapping out of his love induced daze, Douglas glanced in the direction of
the guard....only to find him gone.
* * * * *
Douglas panicked. It had been such a simple assignment! Just watch the guard
and follow where he went. It was all so ironic. A simple moment of daydreaming
had perhaps cost Percy Blakeney his life. He could attempt to locate the
guard, but there was not enough time to search the entire area....if he had<
only heard the whole plan from Chauvelin's lips, he would have known where the
guard had headed. But he had not.
There was only one method of saving Percy now. He was going to have to set
off the trap, thus pretending to be the Pimpernel himself.
* * * * *
Impersonating Sir Percival Blakeney a.k.a The Scarlet Pimpernel would not be
at all difficult for Sir Douglas Shields. Besides being a close friend of
Percy, Doug also fit his physical description and he knew the man's personality both inside and out.
He had about seven minutes until the Pimpernel was due. There was no time to
think the plan through. Douglas knew the street the Pimpernel would be coming
Knowing full well that he would be decapitated for taking Percy's place,
Douglas Shields sauntered down the street loudly singing "God Save the King."
* * * * *
Douglas was not the bravest man in the world and he certainly felt far from
courageous sauntering down the deserted roadway belting out "God Save the King." His otherwise pleasant singing voice was shaking as he glanced< uncertainly into the shadowy alleys. He felt as though he was already walking
to his execution.
Douglas took a deep breath before continuing with the song. He was beginning
to wonder why no one had approached him yet. Had he mad a mistake? No, he was
certain this was the road.....
The road spilt into an intersection. Douglas felt sick and confused. Did the
soldiers possibly know he wasn't the Scarlet Pimpernel? Did they know so much
about Percy that they knew exactly what he looked like?
Douglas spun back around to check the road again. Still deserted. His back up
plan had failed miserably. The only hope now was to find that prison guard
afterall and stop him before it was too late.
Gripping the pistol Lady Hastings had given him, Douglas Shields ducked into
the nearest alley.
* * * * *
Two minutes until the Pimpernel arrived. Douglas had scoured the entire area,
but had found no sign of the infamous prison guard. Douglas was losing hope.
His ears detected a sound. Heavy footsteps. Douglas turned down an alley just
in time to see Percy strolling down the road as though he was back home in
England. No disguise at all! Was the man mad?
Doug began moving down the alley to warm his friend, the heavy pistol a
fixture in his hand. As he was nearing the clearing, he noticed another figure advancing towards Percival. A figure in the uniform of a French soldier.
Douglas's heart froze in his chest, his feet suddenly felt like weights and
he was unable to move. He watched the man grip Percy's shoulder. The only
thing in Doug's mind was 'shoot him'. He raised the pistol, the firearm
shaking in his unsteady grasp. His sweaty fingers were unable to get a grip on
the trigger. He had never even thought about shooting a gun before in his
life. Unlike most men, he had never even been hunting. The thought of killing
innocent creatures had never appealed to him. And now...he was supposed to
shoot a human being? What if he missed and hit Percy....??
He held his fire and watched a solemn faced Pimpernel exchange words with the
French guard. They spoke only for a minute or so, and then the two parted as
though they were but friends meeting on the street.
As the soldier turned, Douglas nearly dropped the pistol in amazement.
The older man approached a nervous Douglas, who looked a horrible wreck. His
hair was matted, his forehead coated with nervous perspiration and his hands
shaking uncontrollably. He still held the gun straight out ahead of him.
Raymond took the gun from him and said, "Douglas, relax."
His hands free of the weapon, Douglas collapsed against the wall to catch
his breath, wiping tears from his eyes. He had experienced emotional overload
and needed time to cool down.
"How could you possibly.....I do not
Raymond quickly explained his story. He had shot off a pistol to distract
Chauvelin while he knocked the guard unconscious and quickly stole his
uniform. After finding out the details of the plot, he had told the other
soldier involved to go along home because Chauvelin had already managed to
capture the Pimpernel. All that was left to do was sit in an alley and wait
for Percy so come along.
"Since Sir Percival does not know who I am, I
pretended to be an actual French soldier who was also a deserter. I informed
him that the Marquis and his children were already safe."
Douglas was getting over the last bouts of emotional overload. His stomach
felt twisted in knots and he longed to just lay down and rest.
Guild isn't for me," Doug groaned. "I believed I could handle what I would
have to deal with, but this morning certainly proved me wrong. I've never been
so afraid. I was sure my friend's life hung in the balance."
He glanced up at
"You should have informed me of your plan."
"You are a young man, Douglas," Raymond told him, "you haven't seen enough to
He helped the Doug to his feet. "Do you really wish to drop out?"
Douglas thought it over before answering. "No."
"You'll take to this work," Raymond assured him. "It's experience. You live,
As Douglas limped along the street besides the older man, he realized what
Raymond had said was absolutely true. He had in fact learned more that morning
than he had during all those years of avid reading.
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