After being stranded in Dover for nearly two days on account of the storm, Lady Blakeney and Sir Andrew (in disguise) finally charter a boat across the Channel. The “fresh sea-air revives” Lady Blakeney, and the ferryman assures them they are the first to cross since the weather has turned. Soon, the coast of France comes into view, and less than an hour later, Lady Blakeney finds herself back in a “country where at this very moment, men slaughtered their fellow-creatures by the hundreds, and sent innocent women and children in thousands to the block.”
As there isn’t any violence in Orczy’s novel, it is easy to forget that unspeakable violence is occurring daily in Paris and throughout France. In betraying the Scarlet Pimpernel, Marguerite further condemns the “innocent women and children” who are sent to the guillotine. Without the Scarlet Pimpernel, they have little hope of escaping the country or execution.
Sir Andrew leads Lady Blakeney to the “Chat Gris,” a “small wayside inn on the outskirts of Calais,” and knocks on the door. It is opened by an unpleasant French man who motions for them to enter. Beyond the threshold is “the most dilapidated, most squalid room” Lady Blakeney has ever seen. On the wall in bold letters are written the words: “Liberté—Egalité—Fraternité.” The dirty man who let them in spits on the floor. “Sacrés Anglais!” he says. Lady Blakeney is immediately uncomfortable. “Oh, lud!” she cries, “what a dreadful hole! Are you sure this is the place?”
The “Chat Gris” is a foil to “The Fisherman’s Rest,” and it paints a very unflattering picture of French society. The words “Liberté—Egalité—Fraternité”—liberty, equality, and brotherhood—are the national motto of France, but the “Chat Gris” is a poor backdrop for this message. The rundown inn as a small-scale representation of France implies that the new republic isn’t doing well.
Sir Andrew assures Lady Blakeney they are in the right place. The man who let them in, Brogard, is the landlord. “Faith! Our host and hostess are not cheerful people,” Sir Andrew says, “but I think you will find the soup eatable and the wine good; these people wallow in dirt, but live well as a rule.” Sir Andrew and Lady Blakeney sit down to a dismal table setting with a torn tablecloth as Brogard brings them food. “Now, tell me,” Sir Andrew says to his host, “my lady was desiring to know if by any chance you happen to have seen a great friend of hers, an English gentleman.” He is “tall,” Sir Andrew says, and stopping through Calais on his way to Paris
Sir Andrew’s claim that the French “wallow in dirt” again reflects Orczy’s opinion of the inherent superiority of the British. Sir Andrew describes Brogard and his wife as dirty people who live in filth, the building is falling apart, and the tablecloth is ripped. He feels the need to make an excuse or explanation to Marguerite, which implies that the French standard of living is not exactly equal to the British.
“Tall Englishman?” Brogard asks. “To-day! —Yes.” Sir Andrew and Lady Blakeney immediately stop eating. Brogard continues. “He went…yes…but he’s coming back…here—he ordered supper…” Lady Blakeney grows excited and asks where he has gone. Brogard says he went to see about obtaining a horse and cart. “At what time did he go?” she presses. “I don’t know,” Brogard responds with irritation. “I have said enough […] He came to-day. He ordered supper. He went out. —He’ll come back. Voilà!”
Brogard too is incredibly disagreeable compared to Mr. Jellyband, his English counterpart. Mr. Jellyband is pleasant and hospitable, but Brogard is short-tempered and gruff. This again reflects Orczy’s distaste for the revolution and the French people in general. She paints all French people in a negative light—except for Armand, and he completely turns his back on France.