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HOME > Short Stories > The Children's Pilgrimage > CHAPTER XIV. A PLAN.
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 Cecile, impelled by some instinct, had said: "I know Pericard is faithful."  
Joe, now turning to the French boy, repeated these few words in his best French:
"She says she knows you are faithful. We are in great danger—in great danger from that bad man Anton. Will you hide us and not betray us?"
To this appeal Cecile had added power by coming up and taking Pericard's hand. He gave a look of devotion to his little princess, nodded to Joe, and, bidding them all follow him, and quickly, left the room.
Down the stairs he took the children, down, down, down! at last they reached the cellars. The cellars, too, were full of human beings; but interested in their own most varied pursuits and callings, they took little notice of the children. They went through one set of cellars, then through another, then through a third. At the third Pericard stopped.
"You are safe here," he said. "These cellars have nothing to say to our house. No one lives in them. They are to be let next week. They are empty now. You will only have the company of the rats here. Don't be afraid of them. If you don't fight them they won't come nigh you, and, anyhow, Toby will keep 'em away. I'll be back when it grows dark. Don't stir till I return. Anton shan't find you here. Little Miss is right. Pericard will be faithful."
After having delivered this little speech in French, Pericard turned a rusty key in a lock behind the children, then let himself out by an underground passage directly into the street.
"Now, Joe," said Cecile, coming up at once to where the poor boy was standing, "we are safe here, safe for a little. What is the matter? What is wrong, dear Joe?"
"Maurice must not hear," said Joe; "it will only make things still harder if little Maurice hears what I have got to say."
"Maurice will not care to hear. See, how sleepy he looks? There is some straw in that corner, some nice clean straw; Maurice shall lie down on it, and go to sleep. I can't make out why we are all so sleepy; but Maurice shall have a good sleep, and then you can talk to me. Toby will stay close to Maurice."
To this arrangement Maurice himself made no objection. He could scarcely keep his eyes open, and the moment he found himself on the bed of straw was sound asleep.
Toby, in obedience to Cecile's summons, sat down by his side, and then the little girl returned to Joe.
"No one can hear us now. What is wrong, Jography?"
"This is wrong," said Joe, in a low, despairing voice: "I'm a ruined lad. Ef I don't rob you, and become a thief, I'm a quite ruined lad. I'll never, never see my mother nor my brother Jean. I'm quite ruined, Missie, dear."
"But how, Joe. How?"
"Missie, that man wot come wid us all the way from Normandy, he's a spy and a thief. He wants yer purse, Missie, darling, and he says as he'll get it come what may. He wor at that farm in Kent when you was there, and he heard all about the purse, and he wor determined to get it. That wor why he tried to make friends wid us, and would not let out as he knew a word of English. Then last night he put some'ut in the soup to make us hall sleep sound, and he looked for the purse and he could not find it; and this morning he called me away, to say as he knows my old master wot I served in Lunnon, and that I wor apprenticed quite proper to him, and that by the law I could not run away without being punished. He said, Anton did, that he would lock me hup in prison this werry day, and then go and find Massenger, and give me back to him. I............
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