The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel HTML version

V. A Fine Bit Of Work
"Sh!!...It's the Englishman. I'd know his footstep anywhere--"
"God bless him!" murmured petite maman fervently.
Pere Lenegre went to the door; he stepped cautiously and with that stealthy foot-tread
which speaks in eloquent silence of daily, hourly danger, of anguish and anxiety for lives
that are dear.
The door was low and narrow--up on the fifth floor of one of the huge tenement houses in
the Rue Jolivet in the Montmartre quarter of Paris. A narrow stone passage led to it--
pitch-dark at all times, but dirty, and evil-smelling when the concierge--a free citizen of
the new democracy-- took a week's holiday from his work in order to spend whole
afternoons either at the wineshop round the corner, or on the Place du Carrousel to watch
the guillotine getting rid of some twenty aristocrats an hour for the glorification of the
will of the people.
But inside the small apartment everything was scrupulously neat and clean. Petite maman
was such an excellent manager, and Rosette was busy all the day tidying and cleaning the
poor little home, which Pere Lenegre contrived to keep up for wife and daughter by
working fourteen hours a day in the government saddlery.
When Pere Lenegre opened the narrow door, the entire framework of it was filled by the
broad, magnificent figure of a man in heavy caped coat and high leather boots, with
dainty frills of lace at throat and wrist, and elegant chapeau-bras held in the hand.
Pere Lenegre at sight of him, put a quick finger to his own quivering lips.
"Anything wrong, vieux papa?" asked the newcomer lightly.
The other closed the door cautiously before he made reply. But petite maman could not
restrain her anxiety.
"My little Pierre, milor?" she asked as she clasped her wrinkled hands together, and
turned on the stranger her tear-dimmed restless eyes.
"Pierre is safe and well, little mother," he replied cheerily. "We got him out of Paris early
this morning in a coal cart, carefully hidden among the sacks. When he emerged he was
black but safe. I drove the cart myself as far as Courbevoie, and there handed over your
Pierre and those whom we got out of Paris with him to those of my friends who were
going straight to England. There's nothing more to be afraid of, petite maman," he added
as he took the old woman's wrinkled hands in both his own; "your son is now under the