Why do Chauvelin’s plans backfire in The Scarlet Pimpernel?

French agent Chauvelin wants nothing more than to catch the Scarlet Pimpernel. He thinks that he will finally reach his goal when he blackmails Lady Marguerite Blakeney into helping him, but Marguerite soon discovers that the Scarlet Pimpernel is none other than her own husband, Sir Percy. She hurries to France to try to warn him, but Sir Percy's quick thinking with the pepper and his talent for disguise foil Chauvlin yet again.

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In The Scarlet Pimpernel, agent of the French Republic Chauvelin thinks that he has the Scarlet Pimpernel cornered for good. The Scarlet Pimpernel has been helping noble French families escape the guillotine for some time, and he has been impossible to catch. Now though, Chauvelin has enlisted the help of Lady Marguerite Blakeney in exchange for her brother's pardon, and Marguerite begins her investigation. She soon makes a startling discovery when she finds a ring in her husband's study engraved with a flower, the scarlet pimpernel. It is the symbol of the hero, and Marguerite realizes that Sir Percy, the husband whom she has long thought so dull, is actually the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Marguerite then realizes that she has helped Chauvelin by betraying her own husband, and she is horrified. She hurries to France in the company of Sir Andrew, intent upon warning Sir Percy. They reach the French inn where Sir Percy is said to be staying, but he is not there. Chauvelin also arrives, in the guise of a priest, but Sir Percy escapes by offering the “priest” a pinch of snuff, which is really pepper, and dashing out the door.

Chauvelin thinks that he knows Sir Percy's next move, namely to the hut of a Pere Blanchard, but he is not sure of the exact location. One of his agents reports that he has seen Sir Percy talking to a Jewish man. Chauvelin finds the man, who agrees to help him (for a payoff, of course), and he leads Chauvelin to the hut. The men inside (including Marguerite's brother, Armand) manage to escape, but Sir Percy is not there. Marguerite arrives on the scene (for she has been following Chauvelin, hoping for the chance to warn her husband) and ends up alone with the Jewish man when Chauvelin hurries back to the inn after he finds a letter suggesting that Sir Percy has returned there. The man turns out to be none other than Sir Percy, also known as the Scarlet Pimpernel, and he, Marguerite, Armand, and their other confederates escape back to England. Chauvelin is foiled again.

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