In most parts of England, feelings run “very high” against “the French and their doings.” The French king has been imprisoned, and the queen and royal family have been subjected “to every species of indignity.” The French mob across the Channel is “loudly demanding the blood of the whole Bourbon family and every one of its adherents,” and the continued attack on the nobility makes “every honest Englishman’s blood boil.” Still, England refuses to interfere. Mr. Pitt, “with characteristic prudence,” warns against it. After all, it isn’t England’s place to do so; “it is for Austria to take the initiative.” Men like Mr. Jellyband, a “royalist and anti-revolutionist,” are angered by Mr. Pitt’s “caution and moderation.”
The nobility is extremely important in British history and culture. British royalty is treated with respect and admiration, and to imprison or kill an aristocrat is not to be taken lightly. Still, the British government believes Austria must deal with France because by 1792, France had already declared war on Austria for interfering with the revolution. The “prudent” politicians like Mr. Pitt are fairly convinced that any interference on their part would be answered in similar fashion. Mr. Jellyband, however, is convinced of British superiority and doesn’t seem to worry about war.
Suddenly, the door of “The Fisherman’s Rest” opens and Lord Anthony Dewhurst, the son of the Duke of Exeter and a “very perfect type of young English gentleman,” enters the coffee-room. He is tall, handsome, and friendly, and is well known at “The Fisherman’s Rest.” Lord Tony always stays the night at Mr. Jellyband’s inn whenever he crosses the Channel, and he immediately tells his host that a few aristocrats have just arrived from France, having “evaded the clutches” of the Republic. “Thanks to you, my lord, and to your friends, so I’ve heard it said,” Mr. Jellyband says. “Hush!” Lord Anthony warns, looking around suspiciously. Mr. Jellyband immediately assures him that they are “among friends.”
Lord Anthony is in the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel and Mr. Jellyband openly says as much when he credits Lord Tony with bringing the aristocrats across the Channel. Lord Tony clearly doesn’t want his secret known, but Jellyband isn’t concerned with the strangers in the corner. This suggests that the strangers are somehow associated with the league—but if they were, surely Lord Tony would be aware. Regardless, Jellyband appears perfectly comfortable boasting openly.
Mr. Jellyband tells Lord Anthony that he is not expecting any other guests, except for Sir Percy Blakeney and his wife, Lady Blakeney, but they won’t be staying long. Lady Blakeney’s brother, Armand St. Just, is sailing to France aboard Lord Percy’s yacht, Day Dream, and will leave with the tide. The door to “The Fisherman’s Rest” opens again and a woman walks in. She approaches the hearth and holds her “fine, aristocratic hands” to the fire. She looks to Lord Anthony and Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, who has just entered the room, with “unspeakable gratitude.”
It is later revealed that Sir Percy doesn’t arrive at the inn with his wife, but actually arrives a short time after. This lends credence to the possibility that he is one of the strangers in the back of the inn, but Orczy never does clarify this and instead leaves it open to interpretation. The Comtesse is obviously nobility—even her hands are “aristocratic”—and she is full of “unspeakable gratitude” because the French Republic had sentenced her and her entire family to death, and the League saved their lives.
“How can my children and I ever show enough gratitude to you all, Messieurs?” asks the Comtesse de Tournay. Her daughter, Suzanne, joins the Comtesse at the hearth. “So this is England,” she says, looking out the window with “childlike curiosity.” Sir Andrew smiles at the pretty young girl. The Comtesse’s son, the Vicomte de Tournay, joins his family in the coffee-room and immediately takes note of pretty Sally setting the table. “If zis is England,” the Vicomte says, “I am of it satisfied.” Lord Anthony turns to the young man and laughs. “Nay, but this is England, you abandoned young reprobate,” Lord Tony says, “and do not, I pray, bring your loose foreign ways into this most moral country.”
Suzanne has just escaped the guillotine and is now a refugee, but she doesn’t appear upset in the least. She looks at the English countryside with “childlike curiosity,” which implies she finds it agreeable, if not preferable to France. British superiority is again implied in Lord Tony’s reference to England as the “most moral country,” especially compared to France, where even young aristocrats are “abandoned reprobates.” Sir Andrew is obviously quite taken with Suzanne, who he later marries.