Mistress Melanie Browning
The knife-wielding stranger leaps toward me, but instead of the stabbing pain I expect, I glance up only to see the cloaked figure surpass me and grab the sobbing child. Then the mysterious figure rushes off into the shadows, while I follow in a hurried pursuit. The screams of the child allow me to follow without much uncertainty of the path they have taken. Soon, I hear the slam of a door, ending the perpetuous cries of the young one. I scan my surroundings as I slow to a trot and, lo and behold, a tall building looms before me. Quickly I glance around for any assistance—there is no evidence of habitation any where in the vicinity. I gather my wits about me and approach the nearest window. Inside there seems to be a gathering of some kind and when the shrouded man enters with the child, there is much commotion. I can hear bits and pieces of conversation and am startled by the use of English, rather than French:
"You should never have...to do with him?"
"...it couldn't have been prevented...not informed well..."
At this point, he removes his cloak, revealing a strikingly handsome man, clad in the same unusual apparel as the others. I move to the other side of the building in order to obtain a better view of this curious meeting. As I glance into the room from my new station, I realize the window is open a crack and can now hear the discussion quite easily. The man I followed seems to be the leader of the group. He states, "What was I to do? He just saw his mother executed for goodness' sake. Was I to just leave him there in the open, for any of them to discover?"
It is during this speech, whilst he flails his arms wildly to emphasize his point, that I notice the ring. I instantly recognize it. It is quite unusual: a large, red oval, surrounded by gold and in the center, a drawing of a small flower. Just then, I slip on the crates supporting me and crash to the ground; I freeze and listen closely: I hear the scrape of chairs and the pounding of boots coming toward the door...I scramble to my feet and race back through path from which I had come.
After a short while, I notice that there no longer is any one
following me and I slow to catch my breath. Just then, I hear the clock strike
11 and I realize I am late for my appointment. As I quicken my step to the
Place de la Greve, the events I have just witnessed rush through my mind. I can
hardly contain my excitement and, as I approach Lady Hastings, the tale of my
first sighting of the mysterious pimpernel bursts forth from my lips...
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