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It's curious, of course, that The Scarlet Pimpernel is nearly half over before we know our hero, for we never really see the enigmatic rescuer in action until after Percy is revealed to be the Pimpernel. In this light, the book seems to be a romance masquerading as an adventure, more a story of a broken marriage mended by the revelation of heroism in both husband and wife.
When Lady Blakeney tries to confess to Percy the circumstances of her denunciation of the St. Cyr family to the tribunal, Percy is uncharacteristically cold. For the first time his mask of buffoonery drops, and we see him as a man capable of feeling and depth. Indeed, when he tells his wife that he will ensure Armand's safety, we not only believe him, but begin to suspect that he has a dual nature -- one that justifies his level of intensity.