Chapter 9: "Pure Sport!"

Everingham was at the door.

"Hurry!" he said, as he motioned to them.

"Come on, Alexander," Tony said.

Overjoyed that it was finally time to make a move, Alexander sprang forward after Tony. They reached the door of the room were the Thériaults were and knocked. It was opened instantaneously by a young man. Behind him were an older man and woman.

"You're Laurent?" asked Tony, addressing the younger man. When he nodded, Tony continued: "Ready?"

They eagerly followed Tony and Alexander down the hall and out the back door. To their surprise, there was a carriage and three soldiers on horse-back waiting outside. Alexander's first though was that, perhaps, Captain Devereux hadn't been as careless as they had been led to believe. He thought, for one brief moment, that the guards had been keeping an eye on the back door after all. But the next moment the carriage door opened and Andrew stepped out.

"Come on, then," said a familiar voice from atop one of the horses. Then Alexander realized it was Glynde. Of course, Alexander thought to himself. How could I be so thick-headed! The pieces are beginning to fit together.

"It won't take those fine, upstanding soldiers of the Republic long to see that I have played them a trick, and after that not much longer to deduce that they only need open the window and call to get help. But then again you never know with Captain Devereux, he didn't notice the back door, so you can't be sure about how long it will take for the obvious to dawn on him."

"True, but let's not count upon it," said Andrew, helping the Marquise into the carriage.

"I am afraid it will be a little crowded, Madame, but we'll have to make the best of it. Don't worry though, we'll be dropping off some extra 'luggage' soon enough." At the puzzled looks they gave him he only said, "Never mind." As they entered the carriage he continued , "Everingham, why don't you get in and sit next to Citizen Chauvelin, I should hate to impose so unpleasant a position on our friends."

As Andrew was closing the door, Alexander caught a glimpse of Chauvelin. He was huddled in the corner, bound and with a handkerchief in his mouth as a gag. On his face was a look of hate, humiliation, and weary, weary contempt. He had but a minute to look upon his brave leader's most dangerous enemy before his view was cut of by Andrew closing the carriage door. Not that he minded being interrupted, he shuddered when he thought of the face he had seen in that brief viewing. Alexander mounted the horse offered him and they started off for the city gates at a gallop. He held his breath as they neared the gate, but then smiled to himself as he remembered the orders Chauvelin had given the guards. They passed the gates without any trouble, for as soon as they saw Captain Devereux, or, at least, the man they took to be the Captain, and Citizen Chauvelin's carriage careening towards the gate they rushed to get everybody out of the way to make room for them to pass. About an hour later they stopped at an old barn and dismounted. Hastings stepped forward to help the Thériaults out.

"We're clear of the city now so we can stretch and get some thing to eat and drink before we continue our journey," he said.

"All except you Monsieur Chamberton, this is as far as we can take you I am afraid," said Percy coming up behind Hastings. He motioned to Tony and Glynde, and whispered something to Tony, who nodded and then walked over to Chauvelin and bowed.

"This way," he said, with a wink at Glynde.

The indifferent Chauvelin followed resignedly out the barn door. As they deposited him by the side of the road, Tony remarked to Andrew: "You know, It's quite ironic, really."

"What is?"

"That Chauvelin fired his previous coach driver on suspicion of spying on him, and hired, in his stead, the industrious and hardworking Scarlet Pimpernel!"


~*~

"And now," Percy said, turning to the rest, "for the time we are here, although it can not be long, make yourselves at home. I will return shortly."

He exited the same way as the other three men, and Ffoulkes led the remainder in an adjoining room.



~*~

There he is, thought Chauvelin with clenched teeth. The object of his rage was complacently strolling towards him in such a casual manner that it took much self-control on the defeated representative's part to keep from cursing openly. Outwardly he managed to keep control. Inwardly, though, he did curse.

"So terribly sorry we don't have enough room for you in the carriage. It was so kind of you to see us off," Percy said enthusiastically.

"The pleasure was all mine," Chauvelin rejoined with dry sarcasm. He was very much used to Percy's ballroom manners being used, even in the most dire of circumstances, and had learned to respond in kind. He did so now ­ with difficulty. "Must you leave France so soon?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so. A pity, isn't it?"

"Quite."

All this time Percy had been looking around musingly, now he once again turned his full attention back to Chauvelin. He stared for a full minute taking in every detail of the others appearance, and then with the utmost shock and horror in his voice said:

"My deepest apologies, Sir, I do believe my men have soiled your clothing."

"Don't mention it," Please don't mention it. Chauvelin groaned to himself, he knew what was to inevitably follow. Once this man got started talking about his favorite subject clothes, there was no stopping him.

"Oh, but I must! How could Tony be so inconsiderate of your apparel? Really, clothes do make the man. I fear me though that your clothes were not altogether perfectly suited to a man of your position, even before Tony bemired them. You must allow me to give you the name of a perfectly splendid tailor I know of, his name--"

"That won't be necessary, Sir Percy."

"Not necessary? Lud man! Do you intend to forever wear such wretchedly tailored clothes? Just take a look at the cut of those sleeves ­ and you dare call that piece of cloth round your neck a cravat! It is the epitome of limpness and discoloration! How a gentleman such as yourself expects to get anywhere in his social life is beyond me, you really are a spectacle! " To this long and seemingly heartfelt oratory all Sir Percy got were bored looks and rolled eyes. When he finally ceased from his lecture, of such a length as would have made even Froggy proud, Chauvelin finally managed to get a word in.

"As I said before, it is quite unnecessary."

"You are such a hopeless case, I do fear I shall never wholly cure you of your slovenliness," Sir Percy uttered with a sigh, "I shall leave you to your own devices."

"Thank you."

After this Percy bowed pleasantly and headed back towards the barn, leaving Chauvelin alone with his thoughts.

~*~

The room into which Andrew led them was cozy and inviting if rather small. By the light coming from a lantern suspended by the rafter overhead, Alexander got a much better look at Laurent Thériault than he had previously been able to. Laurent was a young man, probably two or three years Alexander's senior. He had raven-black hair and warm brown eyes, perhaps not so much brown as golden. A weary care-worn face, he had, but far different from the face of Chauvelin. There was sadness and the marks of many hardships endured, but there was no bitterness or anger. He had the kind of face that would have compelled even the cruelest of natures to immediately wish to be friends. Alexander, who can by no means be called cruel, felt it at once. So he made a point to remember that when the Thériaults where safe in England, enjoying pleasanter circumstances, he would get to know him better.

A couple of minutes later Tony and Glynde rejoined them, and a little after that Percy too entered.

"It is time to be off once again," he said. "It may take less time than you think for the good Captain to find out what is going on."

©Blakeney Manor, 2005