It would be a spoiler to say how Sophie comes to turn up in Revolutionary Paris in May 1794 (when by all accounts she should be in her older brother John’s house in Chester, before being despatched to Plas Uchaf, North Wales) , but anyway, Emile as Monsieur Gilles meets her and is touched.
Very touched; you might say, besotted.
After all, Emile isn’t naturally heartless, though he may be leading a brutal lifestyle; in creating him, I wanted to portray a male protagonist who is, in fact, naturally amiable and jolly, high spirited, playful, and given to laughing at himself.
He’s a nice rogue (though one with a violent streak as regards other men) who gets caught up in a series of impossible situations.
All this is watched by Francoise, the grand-daughter of the alarming woman who runs the lodging house where Emile lives with his fellow scoundrels. She knows all about falling in love; she’s missing her old sweetheart back in the south, from where she knows Monsieur Gilles comes too (but not, of course, who he really is).
‘Les Monsieurs’ s their terrible landlady calls them, often hold a party of an evening, with Marcel Sly boots playing the violin. Emile brings Sophie to this, where she literally lets her hair down.
Everyone notices Monsieur Gilles distress when the little fair, shy Anglaise suddenly vanishes; he spends the night searching for her; the story even gets back to a member of a rival group, one ‘Southern Georges’, a handsome, dark, vain fellow whose sexual conquests are a by word…