The Scarlet Pimpernel


Baroness Orczy

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The Scarlet Pimpernel: Chapter 27 Summary & Analysis

Lady Blakeney hears Desgas outside shouting orders, and then she hears the Jew’s old cart drive down the bumpy road. After waiting a few more minutes, she slips down the stairs of the “Chat Gris” and out the front door. Surely, they are heading to Père Blanchard’s hut, wherever that is, and Lady Blakeney follows the cart in the darkness. Chauvelin sits quietly in the cart, “nursing comfortable thoughts.” Catching the Scarlet Pimpernel will be the “finest leaf” in Chauvelin’s “wreath of glory.”
Lady Blakeney’s selfless actions in chasing down the cart barefoot in the dark make her appear heroic as well, which is a major change from the selfishness she displayed as Marguerite St. Just. As Orczy considers heroism as a distinctly British trait, Marguerite appears to become more British and less French as her character develops.
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Chauvelin doesn’t think of Lady Blakeney at all, and he doesn’t have the “slightest remorse” for the impossible position he has put her in. To Chauvelin, Lady Blakeney has “been a useful tool,” and now he no longer needs her. As they ride the quiet and deserted country road, the sound of horses gets louder, and several soldiers ride up to the cart. One of the soldiers tells Chauvelin that they have seen nothing of the Scarlet Pimpernel. “Every stranger on these roads or on the beach must be shadowed, especially if he be tall or stoops as if he would disguise his height,” Chauvelin orders.
Chauvelin is again depicted as ruthless and evil, which reflects poorly on all French citizens by proxy. He has caused Marguerite considerable anguish, yet he quickly forgets about her. Chauvelin’s comment that “every stranger” must be searched while literally sitting next to the Scarlet Pimpernel in the cart makes Chauvelin appear even more incompetent. The enemy is staring him in the face and he still fails to notice.
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The soldier then tells Chauvelin that while they have not seen the Scarlet Pimpernel, they do believe that they have found Père Blanchard’s hut. Two men—one old and one young—were seen entering the hut. After listening at the windows, it was discovered that the men, most likely, are Armand St. Just and the Comte de Tournay. Four soldiers have stayed behind and are presently spying on the hut from a distance. But those soldiers, the man claims, “have seen no stranger either.”
Chauvelin’s men didn’t find the hut; Sir Percy led them to it. It is likely that they would have never found the hut without Percy’s help, which further speaks to their incompetence. Orczy repeatedly implies that the French Republic—a group of commoners—is wholly incapable of successfully running a country.
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