The Scarlet Pimpernel


Baroness Orczy

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Scarlet Pimpernel can help.

The Scarlet Pimpernel: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Later that night, after everyone has left “The Fisherman’s Rest,” Lord Anthony and Sir Andrew sit in front of the fire. “I need not ask, I suppose,” Lord Tony says, “whether you found the journey pleasant this time.” Sir Andrew smiles. “And now,” Lord Tony continues, “how about business.” Sir Andrew says that he saw the Scarlet Pimpernel just two days ago. The Scarlet Pimpernel had crossed the Channel before they did, but he escorted the Comtesse and her children all the way from Paris dressed like the old hag.
The fact that the Scarlet Pimpernel crossed the Channel days before Lord Tony and Sir Andrew lends further support to the theory that the Scarlet Pimpernel was one of the strangers in “The Fisherman’s Rest.” Having arrived before them, he had plenty of time to don a disguise. The image of the Scarlet Pimpernel traveling all that way dressed as an old woman is certainly comical, which reflects Sir Percy’s more humorous qualities and hints at his dual identity.
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
“[The Scarlet Pimpernel] wants you and Hastings to meet him in Calais,” Sir Andrew says to Lord Anthony, “for the case of the Comte de Tournay.” Sir Andrew tells Lord Tony that France has “sent an accredited agent,” a man named Chauvelin, to identify and stop the Scarlet Pimpernel. He pulls a small pocketbook from his coat and retrieves a scrap of paper with their latest instructions written on it. They are to commit it to memory and burn it. A sheet of paper falls from Sir Andrew’s pocket. “Strange!” he says. “I wonder when it got there? It is from the chief.”
Orczy claims that the Scarlet Pimpernel frequently slips correspondence in the pockets of others without their knowledge, which further suggests that he was one of the strangers at the inn. Sir Andrew doesn’t notice the paper until after he arrives in England. This implies that the paper wasn’t there before but was slipped into his pocket at some point at the inn.
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon
As Sir Andrew and Lord Anthony are distracted, a man slips from beneath a bench and creeps closer. “What’s that,” Lord Tony asks, going to the door and opening it. Suddenly, the man jumps from the darkness and hits Lord Tony over the head, and two more men burst through the door. They promptly restrain Lord Tony and Sir Andrew, bind their arms and legs, and search them for correspondence. Chauvelin appears at the door and removes a mask, revealing “pale, fox-like eyes.” He grabs Sir Andrew’s pocketbook and reads several letters. “Armand St. Just a traitor after all,” Chauvelin smirks. “Now, fair Marguerite, I think that you will help me to find the Scarlet Pimpernel.”
The man slipping from beneath the bench complicates the theory of the Scarlet Pimpernel being one of the strangers at the inn. One of the men slipped under a bench when they were leaving, and while Orczy doesn’t explicitly say that this is the same man, it seems unlikely that two men are hiding under a bench in “The Fisherman’s Rest.” The identity of the men is never confirmed, but a strong argument can also be made that the strangers at the inn were not “friends” but “clever spies” gathering intel on the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Social Class and the French Revolution Theme Icon
Disguise, Deception, and Dual Identity Theme Icon