The Scarlet Pimpernel


Baroness Orczy

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The Scarlet Pimpernel: Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

By the time Lady Blakeney reaches “The Fisherman’s Rest” it is past midnight. Mr. Jellyband welcomes her into the coffee-room, and she takes a seat next to the hearth. “I shall be crossing over at the first turn of the tide,” Lady Blakeney tells Jellyband, but in the meantime, she is waiting for Sir Andrew. “Honest” Mr. Jellyband wonders why Lady Blakeney is meeting Sir Andrew in Dover in the middle of the night but says nothing. He offers her a late supper and goes to the porch to wait for Sir Andrew.
Mr. Jellyband is suspicious of why Marguerite is meeting Sir Andrew in the middle of the night at an inn, but he is too polite to say a word. This too reflects Mr. Jellyband’s honest English morals. He is clearly offended by the mere hint of an affair, but his British restraint keeps him from getting too involved. Instead, he waits up to ensure Marguerite is safe. Like most of the British men in Orczy’s novel, Mr. Jellyband is the consummate gentleman.
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As Lady Blakeney waits, she thinks about Chauvelin. She had seen nothing of him on her way to Dover, and the coachmen saw no one either. She hears a noise outside as Sir Andrew arrives on horseback, “almost unrecognizable in his lacquey-like garb.” He joins her in the coffee-room with a suspicious Jellyband looking on. “Stay, Lady Blakeney,” Sir Andrew says. “I am sorry to say we cannot cross over to-night.” A storm is blowing in off the coast of France and crossing the Channel will be impossible until the weather subsides. “But we must, Sir Andrew,” she pleads. He shakes his head. “I have been to the shore already,” Sir Andrew says. “No one,” he repeats, “no one can possibly put out of Dover to-night.”
Sir Andrew obviously is trying to tell Marguerite that if they can’t get to Calais, Chauvelin can’t get there either and that for the time being at least, they can relax. The storm brewing off the coast of France reflects the conflict that is brewing within the novel, and it also serves to build suspense. The longer Marguerite and Sir Andrew are forced to wait out the storm, the longer they are unsure about Sir Percy’s safety and Chauvelin’s exact whereabouts.
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