Lucinda Elliot

Messieurs Gilles and Georges, Gentlemen of the Road, in Brentford

For a while after their fellow highwyaman Tom’s shooting by a patrol of soldiers, Emile (known as Monsieur Gilles) and Georges lie low.  They have been dividing life between Emile’s town house, where Georges is Emile’s valet  and life in Brentford, where they are equals and stay with  the jovial rascal Mr Kit and his overbearings stout  wife,  Dolly.

Monsieur Gilles, shirt sleeves rolled up, skins a rabbit for Mrs Kit in her kitchen.  “I still cannot credit your being the cousin of some Lord, and able to light a fire and skin a coney as well as any of us. I never thought of gentry as having freckles, neither.”

He’s lost in thought and doesn’t answer for a minute; then he snaps back to the present, and smiles at her. “But I ain’t exactly lived as one of the gentry in a while, Dolly. As for the freckles, I always had the ugly things. I remember when my youngest sister was a baby, she asked -” he breaks off abruptly. “If it weren’t for Georges, I’d be tempted to go out on the highway again. I don’t like hiding away after what became of Tom.”

She crosses her arms: “Will it bring him back to get yourself shot, too?”

“I said, if it weren’t for Georges…Here we are, all done…I’m thinking Georges and I might go and stay with Cousin Ynyr in Wales.”

“In Wales! That’s a world away…”

“And yet it isn’t such a big world at that, Dolly. I met one Kenrick who I used to know from staying at Cousin Ynyr’s at a lecture in London when I was being my other self.  I never did like him, and he ain’t improved, bien sur. Still, I should thank him for making me laugh with the wild notions he came out with, all about time travel and wizardry.”

Dolly gawps. “Time travel, you say? Now I have heard everything.”

Georges stands in the doorway. “A lecture, you say, Monsieur Gilles?” He jeers. “No wonder the looby’s brain is turned, if he wastes his time with suchlike stuff. You’ll do yourself a mischief one of these days, overtaxing your mind by reading too many of them fancy books.”

Emile laughs. “It may be the tollgates and patrols pose a still bigger threat to rapscalions such as ourselves, Georges…”

Mrs Kit shakes her head. “You and them fancy words of yours, Gilles. You’ve done a neat job of that rabbit, anyway.”

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