The Elusive Pimpernel By Baroness Orczy First published in 1908, The Elusive Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy is the 4th book in the classic adventure series about the Scarlet Pimpernel. A French-language version, translated and adapted by Charlotte and Marie-Louise Desroyses, was also produced under the title Nouveaux Exploits du Mouron Rouge. It was adapted into a silent film The Elusive Pimpernel in 1919.
It is September 1793 and French Agent and chief spy-catcher Chauvelin is determined to get his revenge for the previous humiliations dished out to him at the hands of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Chauvelin travels to England as an official representative of the French government tasked with looking after the interests of French citizens, but this is only a cover and his real purpose is to trick Sir Percy Blakeney into returning to France, where he can be captured and put to the guillotine.
The plot is hatched at a gala on Richmond Green, with the help of a young French actress, Desiree Candielle, whom Chauvelin has enlisted with promises of money, pardon and fame if she succeeds. Desiree is manning a tent with a model guillotine under the premise of raising money for the poor of Paris. Marguerite Blakeney enters her stall and starts talking to Desiree.
On discovering her to be a fellow French actress, she is soon taken in by the young woman's sob story and before long had invited her to perform at her house in Richmond in front of the Prince of Wales. Once the offer has been made and accepted, Desiree's official chaperone is revealed as Chauvelin. Marguerite realises she's been set up, but the offer has been made and Sir Percy insists that both of them should come to his house as arranged.