Clarissa: Epilogue Two

The Marquis de Villebois sat, as was his custom, at the Anti-Jacobin club to enjoy his lunch. Admittedly, times were much better for him now than they were when he was first in London. With his sons well-provided for and making sure to support him in appropriate style, food no was no longer in short supply, although he was still fond of walking everywhere and still found a great deal of enjoyment in talking with other emigres from France who were trying to make it in London. If his English was still a struggle, he could speak French with the best of them.

When he sat down at his table, though, to have lunch, he found to his surprise that the mysterious man who had sometimes come to talk to him and give him information about England was waiting for him, presumably because there was some sort of mysterious sub rosa conversation that needed to happen. And he was not disappointed.

“I have a proposition for you, Marquis.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“With the end of the terror, we think that the French revolution will go in a different direction.”

“What does that have to do with me?”

“We think that there will be a French government that will want the expertise and sobriety of the emigres back on their side and will offer to restore the property of people like you.”

“And you want me to accept the offer?”

“That is precisely correct.”

“What do you want? Obviously you would not have a proposition in mind for me unless you sought to get something out of it.”

“Right you are. What we propose is that you take the offer, return home to France, and make your house a safe house for people we send to you.”

“Do you want me to provide information?”

“We will not need anything of that sort from you. What we want is a place where British agents can be safe before they are extracted at the coast.”

“And you think my estate will be a private enough place to provide safety for these people?”

“Indeed we do.”

“I can see how this would be less dangerous than being a spy, but how would I make sure that I was able to stay out of trouble?”

“The agents we send to you will also be French-speakers who all have a French identity, so there is nothing in their identity that would be compromising, and you would have an obvious cover story that you found life in England hard to relate to without mastering the language and wanted an opportunity to return to your wife and daughter, since your sons had taken care of themselves well.”

“That has the added benefit of being true.”

“Quite so. The truth is often the best cover story.”

“Do you have any idea of when it would be possible to undertake this mission?”

“We do not know exactly when such an amnesty will be provided, but when it is, it will be announced, and we want you to take it.”

“And what will my sons think?”

“We can make sure that they, and their employers, know that you are acting on the best interests of the emigre community and are not betraying the anti-revolutionary cause, if you think it necessary to be communicated to them.”

“I would think it would.”

“We could also arrange that our agents would be able to take letters to you from your sons as part of their normal assignments.”

“I think if that can be managed that I would be happy to help provide a safe spot for mutual friends.”

“I am glad that we could come to an agreement.” And with a nod, the conversation came to an abrupt end. The marquis, though, still had lunch to eat, and much to think about.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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