The Scarlet Pimpernel


Baroness Orczy

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The Scarlet Pimpernel: Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Lady Blakeney is relieved that Sir Percy is safe and headed for the “Chat Gris.” Sir Andrew, however, is not so happy. He failed to tell Lady Blakeney before, but he had seen Chauvelin on the beach as they set sail for France. He is likely less than an hour behind them. Chauvelin knows about the “Chat Gris” from Sir Andrew’s letters, and is sure to head there straight away. Plus, Sir Andrew says, there is still the case of the Comte de Tournay to deal with, and Armand. There is no way the Scarlet Pimpernel will leave France without them, he reminds her. In a moment of “sublime selfishness,” Lady Blakeney had forgotten all about her brother and the Comte.
Sir Andrew isn’t happy, because if Percy is out walking around Calais, there is a chance he may run into Chauvelin on the street. Sir Andrew’s comment about Percy’s determination to still save the Comte and Armand again points to his honor and integrity. Sir Percy promised to save the aristocrat and Armand, and he has an obligation to see his promise through, regardless of the risk to his own life.
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Lady Blakeney suggests Sir Andrew take a “voyage of reconnaissance in the village,” and she offers to remain at the “Chat Gris” and wait should Sir Percy return. Perhaps then they can save some valuable time and evade Chauvelin. Sir Andrew agrees and asks Brogard for a room for Lady Blakeney to wait in. “She can wait up there!” he yells and points to the attic. “It’s comfortable, and I have no other room.” Lady Blakeney immediately agrees. The high room will afford her a good vantage point. “Remember,” says Sir Andrew as he leaves, “this place is infested with spies. Do not, I beg of you, reveal yourself to Sir Percy, unless you are absolutely certain that you are alone with him.”
Brogard’s inn is comically terrible—he doesn’t even have any rooms, and the “Chat Gris” is a far cry from the hospitality of Mr. Jellyband and “The Fisherman’s Rest.” But the fact that Lady Blakeney doesn’t complain further suggests that she is evolving from the selfish woman she was previously. The room is dirty and certainly not ideal, but she can see everything from the upper floor, and therefore be a greater help to Sir Percy. She is willing to sacrifice her comfort for Percy, which she likely would not have done before.
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