So, skipping a bit now, I come to a slight career change on the part of those two assiduous rascals, Emile Dubois and his one-time valet Georges.
They’ve escaped to the UK, and Emile’s sister Charlotte -the only one he succeeded in rescuing on the night of the riot in Provence, when their family chateau was razed – has now succumbed to the decline from which the unfortunate girl had been suffering for years.
This is tragic for Emile, but it breaks off his last tie with the need to return to respectability; he can be a determined rogue now, and indulge his carelessness with his life as much as he wants; he’s got no surviving relative to consider.
He is hardly in a frame of mind himself to let the threat of a public hanging at Tyburn deter him; and high grounded moral scruples and fear are not things Georges understands, though his inherent sense of fairness means that he is happy to join Emile in his suggestion that they help to redistribute wealth in favour of the less wealthy a little – by acting out the part of a couple of late eighteenth century Robin Hoods, robbing wealthy travellers and giving a large part of their booty away to the poor.
On the night of Charlotte’s funeral, Emile, whose unusually taciturn state worried even the less than sensitive Georges, begins to talk again. “My financial affairs are involved, Georges. A good thing my grandfather had the prescience to invest half his money in Britain, eh? I should go and rusticate at Dubois Court in Buckinghamshire, fending off creditors with my tongue. Frankly, the thought does not appeal. Recollect you our fellow ruffian’s mention of one Mr Kit, living in Brentford…”
They soon set up a business concern with Mr Kit, and are joined by a man called Tom, who tries to rival them in gallantry towards the ladies, of the sort ascribed to highwaymen so often in legend, though not unfortunately, so often true in real life.
Of course, they have to watch out for patrols, ever more frequent in the 1790’s, and turnpikes are the bane of their lives, but they manage to escape from serious trouble until one night when they are surprised by a group of soldiers, and Tom is killed being dragged from his bolting horse…