A youthful girl, no more than nine years of age, peered out of the window. She watched him as he marched, a uniformed soldier for the French Revolution, wearing a bayoneted rifle and a dirty tri-color scarf wrapped around his waist. It was dark and cold outside and the clock tower rang ten times over. After the last resounding bell sound faded, all was quiet in the streets of late 18th-century Paris, except for the soldier marching down the street, patrolling the Rue de Aucoin. Softly, the first flakes of early wintered snow began to fall from the sky. One flake, a flawlessly carved silver wonder that was but delicate and chilling, fell on the windowsill. Slowly, but surely, it melted until it was but a small, darkened stain on the crumbling brick.
A young, innocent girl with a rusted, flickering lanthorn, she was clearly disappointed by the cold that foreshadowed a long winter as it was only a few months into November. With the candle in the lanthorn creating shadows against the walls, Amélie turned away from the hallway window and made her back to the sleeping room. As she looked at the decrepit old walls around her and heard the soft squeaks of mice in the walls she remembered her cozy, warm, fire-lit manor that she had brightened not even too long past. At this time of night she would have been comfortably sleeping in a down-blanketed bed, her head on a goose-down pillow with her china-doll, Clara, in her arms.
She would say her prayers and be tucked in by her loving Papá, the same man who was now being accused of treason because of his aristocratic background. But since he had moved his wife, son, and young daughter to the attic of an old eating-place to hide from the murderous government, he had time no more than meals to spend with his family. Dressed in the clothes of the bourgeois, he provided handy-work for the various stable-hands and government officials and remained unidentified. It was hard work for a man who had hardly worked a day in his life, but it provided a loaf of bread and hunk of hard sausage for his family. Mamá would retrieve her old saltshaker, the one she had taken from her father's home before he had died, and would season the sausage so that it was at least palatable.
Her older brother, Delmont, would beg Papá to take him with him. He was fascinated by the various wrenches, hammers, nails, and studs. He particularly enjoyed examining the red-handled screwdriver that Papá would let him hold when he came home from 4the ill-lit streets and stuffy market places. But Papá, worried as he always was, said to his son that he could not come because it was much too dangerous and would increase their chances of being targeted by the Committee of Public Safety.
Papá would come home sweaty and dirty, a disgusting appearance for a man who had so recently been dwelling in lush clothing and fineries. When the Count de Fleuron had escaped from his home in the midst of Paris with his family, the revolutionary government took everything from the furniture and rugs, to Papá's mother's jewels. What money the family had now were the few gold pieces that Papa had carried in his coin pouch and the couple of livres that he made from working.
Finally she made it to the bedroom that she shared with her family. Carefully, making sure Mamá was asleep. Amélie tiptoed over to her little bed. She jumped slightly as one of the floorboards creaked, threatening to awaken Mamá. Luckily, she only stirred, sighed, and fell back asleep. Slipping underneath the cold covers of her straw bed, she reached underneath the mattress to reveal a small, wooden box with a carved design on the cover.
She had received the box as a gift from her now late grandmother before she had died. Opening the lid, Amélie revealed several small items. The first was a pair of blue gloves that her brother had given her nearly a year's past, last Christmas before this deadly revolution had taken too bad of its toll. She was too afraid to wear them, for she thought she would soil the immaculate velvet and skillfully sewn stitching. But inside one of the gloves was a golden eyeglass that she had found along the streets one morning when she was with Mamá in the market. It was attached to a black, woven ribbon, but the glass was broken, akin to its whereabouts in the dirty streets of Paris. But Amélie still treasured it with all her heart and through many hours of examination, Amélie had discovered the small symbol of a flower engraved in the decoration along the edge.
Of course, she had heard of the mysterious enigma that was said to hone supernatural powers, saving a number of innocent, helpless people who were doomed to perish by Madame la Guillotine. When she had seen the small symbol on the eyeglass, the Englishman almost immediately came to mind. For even before she had come acoss the eyeglass, every day and night Amélie dreamed of the day when her and her family would finally escape Paris unharmed under the guidance of the Scarlet Pimpernel. But for now, she had to put up with the dank conditions of the old attic and hiding in with her family.
Papá wasn't home yet. Amélie had become used to him not coming home until late in the night, but the clock tower had just rung twelve times, much later than when Papá was accustomed to returning. Amélie was listening for the clanks of his boots on the stairs and the hushed whispers from Mamá as the two engaged in a small conversation before also settling in for the night, but she had heard neither.