Chapter 1 Summary
The Scarlet Pimpernel was written by Baroness Emmuska Orczy and first published in 1905. This novel is the first in a series of tales that follows the fictional main character infamously known as the Scarlet Pimpernel. The story is set at the time of the French Revolution, which occurred in the latter part of the eighteenth century. This revolt involved the overthrow of the French monarchy. A notorious Englishman sympathetic to the crisis in the aristocratic ranks helped sneak French royals out of the country to safety across the English Channel. This Englishman was known by the name of the Scarlet Pimpernel because upon making a clean escape from the French patrols, he would leave a note describing the caper, and it would be signed with a red, star-shaped flower the English called a scarlet pimpernel.
As the story opens, French soldiers have had their numbers increased at the gates of the Paris because the number of French aristocrats who have made successful escapes has dramatically increased in the past several weeks. The number has grown so dramatically that a new decree has been made stating that the guards who fail to stop the aristocrats will, themselves, be forced to place their necks under the guillotine.
The guillotine is one of the French public’s greatest entertainments during these times. Crowds gather to watch the aristocratic leaders, who had once ruled their world, be led to the guillotine platform and subsequently have their heads cut off. However, in recent days, the popularity of watching the guards at the city gates find lords and ladies hiding in common horse-drawn carts has become even more appealing than the guillotine deaths. One guard, Sergeant Bibot, is known for his ability to catch aristocrats no matter what their disguise, so his station draws the biggest crowds. Bibot is already accredited with sending more than fifty aristocrats to the guillotine. His most ambitious goal, though, is to...
(The entire section is 660 words.)