I grew up living a privileged life in the Chateau de Breteuil, north of Paris, where my parents employed many servants. This happiness ended on the 15th of July 1789, when armed peasants stormed our castle in a moment of Revolutionary fervour, seized my parents and took them to Paris, where I discovered later they were executed by guillotine in the Place de la Revolution.
Frightened, I escaped by hiding in the woods behind the Chateau, where I waited until the mob had withdrawn. After they had left, I returned home and retrieved money, weapons and clothes. As I was leaving, I slipped into my father's study and grabbed an Austrian sabre, as well as two duelling pistols, their powder and ball. I departed the estate on my stallion, which I withdrew from the stables, my heart pounding.
It was pitch dark by the time I left the area. I was scared that the peasants would return and kidnap me too. I galloped away, wondering where I could seek refuge as soon as possible. Knowing that Paris was to be avoided at all costs as that was the hotbed of the Revolution, I realised that my best choice was to seek passage to England by ship. Uncertainly, I decided to go north to Calais where I could travel across the English Channel; however, the increasing darkness and gathering cold thwarted my plans, so I was forced to seek sanctuary for the night.
When I entered Amiens, I was dismayed to find that it was festooned with the tricolour of the Revolution. It was too late to turn back as my arrival had been noticed by some National Guardsmen who looked at me with suspicion. I was relieved to find an auberge that had an enclosed wall, so I rode my trusty steed into the small courtyard and a young stable hand clambered down from the loft.
"If you would give me your horse, Sir, I will stall him."
"Mercie," I replied, and gave him a sous.
"Thank you, Sir! I'll give him a full brush and comb for you," he promised, quickly pocketing the coin.
As I stepped through the doorway, a wave of warmth hit me, contrasting with the cold outdoors. The residents' conversation ceased for a second while they observed me before returning to their drinks and food. The Innkeeper left the bar and asked,
"A room, Sir?"
"Oui et mercie" I replied.
Suddenly discovering that I was hungry, I bought onion soup and bread for dinner accompanied by a mug of ale. An ostler carried my luggage to my room on the second floor, making me pleased that servants still knew their place. When the food arrived, I dipped the spoon in the soup which tasted delicious. Leaving the empty bowl and mug on the table, I walked up the narrow wooden staircase to retire.
When I awoke the next morning refreshed, I quickly dressed, strapping on my sword to give me a sense of security. I descended the stairs and while I was consuming a baguette and cheese, two horsemen stepped into the inn, sat down at the table nearby and observed me.
"Bonjour, Citizen. I haven't seen you around here before. Are you passing through?"
"Oui, I was thinking of heading to... Paris to enlist in the army."
"Why don't you join the Chasseurs instead? You look like a horseman. We could take you to the barracks right now."
"Thank you for your kind invitation, mon ami, but I need to conduct some business on the way to Paris."
Nervously, I departed hurriedly and after riding through the laneways of Amiens, I left the town and headed for the coastline. Along the road, my horse started panting and I realised that his flanks were covered in sweat because I had been riding him hard. I continued regardless as I knew that the horsemen might inform the authorities about me.
When I reached my destination, I felt elated. I alighted from my horse and negotiated my passage to England on a merchant vessel that carried cases of wine. I knew that the people there had Royalist sympathies and I would be safe which made me hopeful about my future.
After enduring the turbulent waves to Dover, we docked at the pier on the Thames River where I made myself known to the customs officers who boarded the ship. They treated me with respect due to my nobility as the Count of Breteuil, which automatically accorded me the social status of an aristocrat. I felt immensely relieved due to the fears that my experiences had imposed upon me. The men informed me that other French noblemen had recently arrived in London and directed me to the suburb where they had taken up residence.
Due to the familiar environment, I decided to settle in the Parish of St. Marylebone where fellow noble Frenchmen were living. To my delight, I happened to chance upon a childhood friend who helped me establish myself in the community. Through him, I was introduced to the newly formed Chasseurs Britanniques, which I eagerly joined as it gave me the opportunity to fight to regain my lands and territory in France.