"This wasn't -- what I signed -- up for," I said, panting, when we stopped for a breather. Annette looked at me in some concern, perhaps wondering if my tender age was rendering me fearful and unused to such interruptions of everyday routine. I tried to explain. "I was supposed -- to be being -- protected."
"This is a war. A revolution, Clara. It's not some little child's gang where the worst thing that will happen is a little bit of rivlary and perhaps a few scraped knees. You are going to have to get used to it." Emmanuel looked at me with flinty eyes. "If you don't like it, go home. We can't protect you every minute of the day."
"Mais je n'ai pas ..." I struggled for the words. "I don't have a home."
Marie took my hand, patting my shoulder. "It's okay, Clara. We're not going to send you away. You belong here with us now, you do have a home. Don't you remember what we were saying about the Blanche being a family?" I nodded, and tried to pretend that Emmanuel's words had not hurt me.
"You think it is as simple as all that?" I said to him, controlling my anger as best I could. "I will tell you one thing. I have my reasons for being here, and they are not to be yelled out and done down by people much older than me. Please remember that, or I will take you up on your offer, and I will go back to Guillaume and tell him I do not want to work with you anymore."
"This is not the place to be arguing!" Annette, ever clear-headed, grabbed my hand and Marie's, pulling us out of our little alcove to continue running. Emmanuel followed us reluctantly, overtaking the little group so that he could lead us. He did, after all, know the way while we were diving in blind.
"We have to keep going," he said, all animosity towards me forgotten. Together we ran through three more backstreets, opening out into a main road. It was crowded with people, carts and animals -- there was no way we could be found there. "This is the only way to get away."
"I know," I replied irritably. "But I cannot see ... what do they want with us? What did we do to them?"
The only answer I was given at that moment was, "This is a war, Clara, a Revolution," from Emmanuel. It seemed to be the party line, although I personally did not consider it to be a very good one, since there was no reason in the world why human beings should kill and maim each other without cause. I personally was against all violence ... such was my luck that I was now caught up in the work of Le Bande Blanche.
"We're nearly there," encouraged Annette. "Not much further now." Did I look like I needed encouraging? I glared at her. "Clara, we can't do this if you are so touchy all of the time. Loosen up a little, please, for the good of the Blanche."
"The Blanche, the Blanche...it's always the Blanche, isn't it? Never the individual. We're just cogs in this huge machine." I growled, then remembered what she had said. "Wait -- we're nearly there? Where are we even going?"