‘Where is your cockade, Citizen?’
Citizen Lambert jumped nervously. He didn’t like this gendarme. He liked the Revolution, but this man… Still, if he was catching counter-revolutionaries… But he still wasn’t comfortable with this man in his house, tearing it apart… Mon dieu! One gendarme even looked in the teapot - as if a noble was going to be hiding in boiling water!
‘I only wear my cockade outside, Citizen,’ Lambert said slowly, trying not to irritate the gendarme.
‘Oh? Does the impact of the Revolution not reach inside your house, inside your heart? Do you not love the Revolution, Citizen?’
‘Y-yes, of course,’ stammered Lambert in his distress, twisting his hat in his hands. ‘But I saw no need for a cockade indoors…’
‘No need? No need!’ The gendarme sprang from his chair, grabbing Lambert by the neck and lifting him off the ground. He spoke with his face to close to the unfortunate citizen that his spit flecked Lambert’s face. ‘The Revolution is everything - without it, we are nothing, trodden into the ground by those nobles barbare - those barbarous nobles! If ever I have reason to think you wish for the days of the nobles, of the monarchy - the Revolution is coming to your door, Citizen. Let it in. Or you will face the consequences.’
Lambert swallowed. Hard. The gendarme smiled wickedly, placing the unfortunate back on his feet and brushing an imaginary speck of dust from his coat.
‘Au revoir,’ he said at the door. ‘I am sure we shall catch these dangerous nobles. If we do not…’
He left the statement hanging in the air, and pushed the door open with his shoulder. It was about then that a figure rushed past him on horseback, definitely minus a cockade, and shouting, ‘Monsieur Ariont - follow me!’
‘Not on my life,’ growled the gendarme, shouldering his rifle and shooting a round into the night. He missed Henri by about three miles, but the other gendarmes immediately ceased whatever useless search they were performing and appeared, hot on the heels of their leader.
Behind them, unnoticed by anyone but a sleepy owl, Alix and Monsieur Ariont slipped out from the stables and crept back towards the road. They waited until the gendarmes, following Henri, had disappeared back the way they’d come, before moving on towards Brest, where Monsieur Ariont would catch a boat to Plymouth in England.