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DUEL INTENTS by Larry Nehring

Sixth Draft L. Nehring, June 2011

Larry Nehring 1342 Beach Pkwy. Apt. #1 Lakewood, OH 44107 216.965.8409

DUEL INTENTS Character Descriptions (4 F, 8+ M): SABINE (F)- 25-35 yrs old , Leading actress of Jean-Baptiste's company in Paris. She was an engenue, but is growing insecure about the younger actresses entering the company. She was born to a merchant family of very little means and as a child stumbled into work with a commedia troupe. Her education and career were products of her hard work and creativity. She is married to Reginald, and the lover of Claudette. CLAUDETTE (F)- 20 yrs old, She is a distant cousin to the French King (Louis XIV, the Sun King). While not closely related enough to have influence, her branch of the family, headed by her great aunt Mathilde, still is held in high esteem. Claudette has never had to labor at anything and quite enjoys that privilege. She is in love with Sabine, but has married Phillippe. REGINALD (M)- 35 yrs old, He is a second cousin to King Louis XIV and the grandson of Mathilde. He is a free spirit, and avoided marriage through hard work and grace. He is in love with Phillippe and has married Sabine. PHILLIPPE (M)- 30 yrs old, The fencing master to King Louis XIV and son of the previous master. While he lives amongst the royal families, he is still a tradesman. Exceptional skill with the sword has allowed his father, and now Phillippe, an estate and annual income. He the lover of Reginald and has married Claudette. MATHILDE (F)- 60-70 yrs old, The Grand Dame of the family. She is a direct cousin of the King and is the matriarch of her limb of the family tree. Reginald is her grandson and Claudette is her grand-niece. ISABELLE (F)- 16 yrs old, She is a maid in the household of Sabine and Reginald. She is a bit flighty but has a romantic spirit. LUC (M)- 20 yrs old, he is apprentice to Jean-Baptiste. He is overflowing with enthusiasm and creativity. JEAN-BATISTE (M)- 40-45 yrs old, famous, and scandalous playwright of Paris. Loosely based on Moliere. Despite his age he has some health issues which weaken his body, but never his mind. LECHEVRE and GASCOYNE (M) 30s-50s Two small time thieves who have fled Paris after inadvertently crossing Theobald and his gang. They are trying to earn their living stealing from travelers in the woods near Reginald's estate. THEOBALD, JULES, and two footmen (M) 20s-50s these are thugs and criminals hired from the streets of Paris by Cardinal DuBois to work for Mathilde.


SETTING & TIME The time is early autumn, 1663 at a large, family estate of Reginald not far from Paris

SCENE BREAKDOWN Act IScene 1: The salon of Reginald's estate, noon, (p1) Scene 2: The salon of Reginald's estate, two days later, (p39) Scene 3: A clearing in the nearby forest, four days later, minutes before dawn, (p57)

Act IIScene 1: The salon of Reginald's estate, four days later, (p74) Scene 2: The salon of Reginald's estate, hours later and well after midnight, (p110) Scene 3: A clearing in the nearby forest, hours later and the dawn approaches (p123)

ACT I I-1: THE SALON The salon, charming and spacious and elegantly decorated with flowers and vases and family portraits. The house maid, Isabelle, is cleaning the room, whistling softly to herself. She dances as she cleans, and holds an conversation with an imaginary suitor. ISABELLE Monsieur LaBret, it is such a surprise to see you this evening. Why thank you, this gown is one of my favorites. I bought it when last I visited Paris. Do you find it flattering? Monsieur, you are too forward, but I will grant you one dance, if you promise to behave. She takes him in her arms and begins to dance around the room. ISABELLE (contd) Edmond-- Monsieur LeBret, you dance like a dream! I feel light as a feather in your arms. She spins close to a vase of flowers and pauses, taking one flower and handing it to herself. ISABELLE (contd) How did you know that these are my favorite flowers in the entire world? My gardens at home are filled with no other flowers than this... Oh, must you leave so soon? You break my heart, Monsieur... Very well, Edmond. I will allow you one kiss to wish you bon voyage. She leans forward for a kiss, her eyes closed. SABINE (off) Imbecile! CLAUDETTE (off) Fool! The double doors burst open and two ladies enter in the midst of a furious sword fight. Isabelle screams in surprise and dives behind some furniture. The fight continues causing some obvious damage to the furniture and decorations in the room.


Isabelle peeks out at the fight whenever possible, unseen. SABINE Thats the worst you have? CLAUDETTE Whore! SABINE After I caught you with my husband last night! CLAUDETTE You cannot distract me! SABINE You will make a mistake. CLAUDETTE I havent yet. SABINE It is only a matter of time. CLAUDETTE I learned from the best. SABINE Your teacher was too soft on you. Softer even than your husband. CLAUDETTE Do not speak of my Phillippe! Sabine takes advantage of Claudettes momentary distraction to disarm her. SABINE Yield. CLAUDETTE Never! Sabine launches a strike and Claudette improvises an counterstrike which ends with Sabine on the floor and Sabines sword in Claudettes hand. SABINE How did you-CLAUDETTE Yield! * *


SABINE Never! Sabine kicks at Claudette, causing her to stumble. Sabine rolls and snatches up Claudettes sword and the fight resumes. CLAUDETTE Your rapier is heavier than mine. SABINE And yours is like a childs toy. No striking power at all. CLAUDETTE Very well. Hand it back. SABINE Such pride. Just as Phillippe observed. CLAUDETTE He never! SABINE Why just last night, as he held me in his arms-CLAUDETTE Nonsense! SABINE He will be here any minute. We have plans to dine together. CLAUDETTE We shall see! SABINE Poor dear. Breathing as hard as you were last night in the garden. CLAUDETTE You over reacted! SABINE I caught him up your skirts! You are practically siblings. CLAUDETTE You slapped me! SABINE I had no choice. CLAUDETTE In full view of Lady Moreau! *


SABINE It will be the talk of Paris. CLAUDETTE Shut up! SABINE The actress slapped the Kings cousin! But who could blame me? Then again-CLAUDETTE Not another word! SABINE The French royal family is nearly as inbred as the English. CLAUDETTE I could kill you! ISABELLE No! As Claudette lunges for Sabine, Sabine sidesteps and catches her in a lethal position. The fight is over and Claudette is a heartbeat away from death. SABINE Isabelle! CLAUDETTE Let go of me! Before a word can be spoken the doors open and Phillippe and Reginald enter. Isabelle hides again. REGINALD It was a ghastly moment, but what could I do? She hoisted her skirts and I went in just as Sabine turned the corner. PHILLIPPE Good god! Has she no sense? After a moments shock, Sabine and Claudette hide the weapons behind/beneath Sabines skirts. REGINALD She never has, but Sabine, at least, had the good sense to slap her. *


PHILLIPPE Claudette, why on earth would you do that in public? Youre lucky it was just Sabine who caught you. SABINE And Lady Moreau. REGINALD And her entire entourage. CLAUDETTE I was being attacked by a bee or a wasp and it hurt! PHILLIPPE And Reginald? Why would you kneel under her skirts? Did you not consider you might be seen? REGINALD She said there was a wasp, so I tried to help. PHILLIPPE Your grandmother will be livid. REGINALD Oh please, we were bathed together by our nanny. PHILLIPPE Which makes this perfectly acceptable as adults. REGINALD Why are you two so flushed? PHILLIPPE And have cast off your corsets. REGINALD Flagrante delicto at this time of day? PHILLIPPE Yet another scandal. Have none of you any self control? SABINE What else is there to do in the country? It is dreadfully boring and I do so long to return to Paris. REGINALD My dear, we shall return just as soon as I have finished with these damned family matters. I know that my grandmothers estate is a nuisance to your socializing, but she needs me to help her plan her last will and testament. As her only living grandson it is my duty to be sure that she is happy. PHILLIPPE And her happiness ensures your inheritance. *


REGINALD You might display a little more respect for the dear, old sainted woman. SABINE She is the most miserable old puritan I have ever seen. REGINALD Sabine. SABINE She is. You have never seen the way she glares at me like some kind of staring viper. With a rosary. Makes my skin crawl. CLAUDETTE The rosary? REGINALD She is my grandmother. SABINE Well she is not mine! Why do I have to be here with you? REGINALD You, here at hand, is proof of your devotion. CLAUDETTE Aunt Mathilde believes that? REGINALD Of course not, but she can hardly call her absence in question if she is not absent, can she? PHILLIPPE You should count your blessings that you are one step removed from those politics, my dear. CLAUDETTE Oh yes. It was such a blessing after my parents died to be told I was now the ward of Aunt Mathilde. Under her thumb but still unworthy of it. REGINALD After the Fronde des nobles we are lucky to have any living relations left. CLAUDETTE How lucky I should feel. My parents chose to side with those who wanted young Louis to be given the crown. And he makes a pact with the other side. Didnt keep them from the Bastille, did it? * *

* * * *


REGINALD Grandmother tried to sway Mazarin. CLAUDETTE They were executed in quite a hurry. REGINALD What purpose would it serve her to have her family look bad to the King? CLAUDETTE You didnt see them taken away in chains. It was horrible. SABINE It was a long time ago, my love. The King has, thankfully, not held you guilty of their transgressions. REGINALD Because you were under the care of Grandmother. PHILLIPPE Family was a better choice than an orphanage. CLAUDETTE Perhaps. I expect the nuns would have been more lenient. REGINALD Nonetheless, we are all that remains of the family and I must ensure that the family fortunes are carefully bestowed. SABINE Why? Is her death imminent? Such welcome news. REGINALD No, but for some reason she has taken it into her head that her worldly affairs must be in order with haste. PHILLIPPE The Cardinal? REGINALD Her constant companion. She has invited herself to lunch with me today and I hope I may address some of my concerns. CLAUDETTE Today?! Are the servants prepared? SABINE Are you trying to get me killed? PHILLIPPE Dont over react.

* * *


SABINE Im not. PHILLIPPE Not you. My wife. CLAUDETTE It is fine for you to play the host, but she will judge Sabine on everything she sees. The pantry might not be stocked for her tastes. REGINALD I sorted it out with Henri this morning. By the time she gets here he will have a perfect luncheon assembled for her. CLAUDETTE I must go get dressed. REGINALD Yes. Your undergarments are far too casual for Mother. Claudette runs from the room. SABINE A little warning would have been nice. REGINALD I am the man of this house. SABINE Yet I wear the breeches. REGINALD True. SABINE Why must you insist on making plans without consulting us? We are your confidants. Thoughtless runs in your family. Youll get someone killed if you are not more careful. REGINALD You act as though I am inept, when in fact I have matters well in hand, as always. PHILLIPPE Reginald, I know that your grandmother is... your grandmother and you owe her all the respect-SABINE Blah dee blah dee blah. PHILLIPPE But why bring her here? Why risk her outrage? *


REGINALD I am trying to assure her of our domestic bliss. PHILLIPPE We should not be here, in that case. SABINE I should not. Thats certain. REGINALD You must all be here. She needs to see that the family will be left in good hands when she meets the sweet hereafter. If the Cardinal has convinced her that her mortal soul is in peril, she must be reassured. PHILLIPPE [She certainly prays more than the Cardinal does. SABINE She also has more money than he and he aims to remedy that. REGINALD Exactly my dilemma.] Before she decides to leave everything to the church, I must convince her that the family is as she desires it to be. PHILLIPPE Childless? REGINALD Help me, Phillippe, with that. You are my only hope. PHILLIPPE I have tried repeatedly, but you, my dear Reginald, seem to be barren. SABINE If only the King knew your preferences. You might be even more popular in court. REGINALD I am in love with the Kings pet. PHILLIPPE Mind your tongue. REGINALD You dont mind it. SABINE You are both impossible. REGINALD Jealousy becomes her. * * * * *


SABINE Jean-Baptiste should write me a play with just that title. REGINALD Perhaps he will. Wish me luck, my love. PHILLIPPE Do you need a good luck? SABINE Oh, go calm your cousin. REGINALD I dont know if I can trust you two alone. You know what the rumors are. PHILLIPPE Begone, foul sprite. Trouble us no longer. Reginald exits. PHILLIPPE (contd) Exciting day for you. SABINE How do you mean? PHILLIPPE Sabine, give me the rapiers. SABINE Rapiers? PHILLIPPE I am not a fool. Although there are times when I must smile and appear vapid, as a fencing master I am trained to see more in the blink of an eye than the most careful observer might with a good, long study. SABINE I cannot hide anything from you. PHILLIPPE Isabelle, could you please come out from hiding? SABINE Oh, goodness. Isabelle emerges from hiding. PHILLIPPE It is all right, child. Look at you, white as a sheet. * * * * * * * * * * *


ISABELLE Monsieur, I was cleaning when-PHILLIPPE Why were you hiding? ISABELLE I was-- and he asked me to dance-- and then he gave me a flower. But when he offered to kiss me the door burst open-SABINE Child you must calm yourself. Why dont you run to the kitchen and have Henri pour you a brandy. ISABELLE I didnt see-SABINE Hush, now. Go. Sabine points Isabelle towards the door. ISABELLE I promise you-SABINE Go now. Have the brandy and a lie down in your chamber. At once. And Isabelle, tell Henri to send young Luc to me when he arrives. ISABELLE Who? SABINE Luc. No one you have met. He will have a manuscript for me from Paris. ISABELLE Paris? SABINE Yes, now go have your brandy. Isabelle exits, closing the door. SABINE (contd) What a high strung child. PHILLIPPE She shares your flair for the dramatic. SABINE Nonsense. *


PHILLIPPE Sabine. SABINE You must remain calm. PHILLIPPE What you have been doing could ruin me! SABINE That is not calm. PHILLIPPE And in full view of Isabelle! She is too young and flighty to hold too many secrets. We have always been so careful around her. But if this should ever be spoken of outside this house no one would believe that you were teaching Claudette how to fence. All eyes would be on me. I am the fencing master to the King! I may teach only him, and I certainly must not be suspected of teaching a woman. It is unthinkable! It would be an outrage in court and I would be lucky to escape the Bastille. SABINE We were idle and in need of distraction and there were swords at hand. PHILLIPPE How many months? SABINE Today was the first. PHILLIPPE Do not lie to me! SABINE Twice, perhaps three times-PHILLIPPE It must have been at least a year! When I walked in you were poised in The Adders Grasp. No novice could perform that, especially since it only exists in sketch form, in my papers! Do you realize what you have done? SABINE You knew I was skilled with a sword when you married me! PHILLIPPE For the stage! Stage combat is a clever use of a few actual techniques to simulate real sword fighting. You have taught a lady of the court to fence! If she tells anyone--

* * *


SABINE She is not that foolish. PHILLIPPE Last night she was caught with her skirts over her head in Lady Moreaus garden! SABINE That was different. PHILLIPPE She pays no attention to who can see or hear her. If she even slips and mentions something to you-SABINE She barely even speaks to me out in public. Everyone thinks we hate each other. Which has certainly scored her points with my grandmother-in-law. PHILLIPPE Why did neither of you tell me of this? SABINE What would you have said? PHILLIPPE I would have told you to stop at once! SABINE You answer your own question. At first it was a lark. She wanted something physical to do. PHILLIPPE Sex wasnt enough? SABINE Please. There is only so much sex one person can have. Help me tighten my corset. PHILLIPPE I doubt your husband would agree with you. SABINE I wouldnt know. I taught her a few parries, then a few attacks, but we grew bored. You always talk about the manual you are writing and we thought it might be interesting to peruse. PHILLIPPE Those are family secrets! SABINE And we are family, remember? Besides, no one takes Claudette seriously. (MORE)

14. SABINE (cont'd) She is far too pretty for deep thinking and she has never taken an interest in education or politics. She would never be so outgoing as to create a scandal.

PHILLIPPE And yet she fell in love with a common actress and married me. SABINE I am no common actress! And we cannot help who we are attracted to, you of all people should know that. What is more common than for a beautiful young thing to take a rich, old goat for a husband? You see? You are both perfect princesses. PHILLIPPE I beg your pardon? SABINE As you are so fond of saying, Touche. You worry too much. Besides, she is quite good. PHILLIPPE You wont stop, will you? SABINE She is remarkably inventive. PHILLIPPE Sabine? SABINE One cannot unlearn something. PHILLIPPE Then I must insist on one thing. SABINE Yes? PHILLIPPE Keep your back straight. If you bend even slightly at the waist, The Adders Grasp can quickly become The Chinamans Toss. SABINE I dont remember seeing that one. PHILLIPPE Because I havent written it yet! I need to meet with that damned trader before he goes back to the East. SABINE Does that mean you will teach us?


PHILLIPPE Only if you promise never to touch a weapon outside my presence. SABINE Fear not, my hands will stay far away-The doors open and Mathilde enters. SABINE (contd) Grandmother Mathilde! MATHILDE What kind of a household are you running? No servants to walk me to my luncheon and the mistress of the house parades around undressed! SABINE It is such a delight you can dine with us today. I was led to believe you would not arrive for another hour, at the least. MATHILDE You, obviously, were misinformed, or you might at least be wearing a dress. Maestro deValmorin, it is indeed an honor to be in the presence of the most skilled swordsman in France. I trust those swords were not part of my welcome. SABINE I wish. MATHILDE I beg your pardon? PHILLIPPE Madame deMaynes, Sabine wished to help me polish my swords. Part of my daily maintenance. I cannot trust a servant to be as exacting as my father taught me. And, once again I must remind you that the King, himself, is the greatest swordsman. I am but his humble tutor, humbled even further by the grace of your radiant beauty. MATHILDE I am not so young as to believe such flattery, nor so old to not appreciate it. Perhaps you could teach such manners to some of my relations? PHILLIPPE I am, as always, at your bidding. SABINE Grandmother Mathilde, would you care to make yourself comfortable while I send for some refreshments? *


MATHILDE Address me as Madame deMaynes, I am not to be held remotely responsible for your birth. I would sit in this chair but the dust it carries speaks volumes about your lack of good servants. SABINE Reginald and I prefer to keep very few servants. It ensures a tranquility rarely enjoyed by households today. MATHILDE A silence filled entirely by the sound of sneezes. (Pause) My refreshment? SABINE Of course. Right away. Sabine rings the bell. PHILLIPPE Perhaps you would be more at ease in the music room? I know that Reginald always prefers to receive company there if for no other reason than it gives him a opportunity to play the pianoforte. MATHILDE I love my grandson with all my heart, but his greatest fault is his choice of musical entertainment. SABINE He does tend to prefer the bawdy, comical ditty over the minuet. MATHILDE I correct myself. His second greatest fault. The doors burst open and Luc enters. LUC Madame Sabine! I am sorry that I was delayed, but the master kept rewriting the pages and ordered me to wait until they were perfect, which they never are, to him. SABINE My dear boy-LUC Then when he had finished he beat me out of the chamber for leaving so late and I rode through the night, which in these woods is a very frightening experience and one that I would not wish to repeat, so I hope that you will allow me to travel back by daylight. *


MATHILDE He hasnt even brought any refreshment. SABINE Luc, please sit down. You must catch your breath. LUC I dont think I am able. PHILLIPPE He is a messenger from her theatre, not a servant. MATHILDE He must not sit on the furniture like a guest! SABINE Perhaps you would be more comfortable in the music room, Madame deMaynes? MATHILDE What is your obsession with the music room? LUC I left my horse with the stable boy but I dont know if I can trust him because its the masters and I must be sure not to lose another horse. You remember how furious he was when I misplaced the last one? SABINE I do. Now breathe. LUC But I-SABINE Breathe. Look me in the eye. The eye. My eyes are up here. LUC I beg your pardon! I didnt mean-SABINE Of course not. They are on display for just such a reaction. MATHILDE It is disgrace enough to receive guests in your undergarments but to publicly admit to advertising your wares is beyond-SABINE Grandmother Mathilde! MATHILDE Maestro deValmorin, take me to this music room! * * *


PHILLIPPE But of course, Madame deMaynes. Phillippe and Mathilde exit. LUC I hope I have not-SABINE You have done nothing wrong. Breasts are nothing to be ashamed of. Mine helped make become me a famous actress, after all. Eyes. Up here. LUC Sorry. SABINE Close your eyes and take a deep breath. And another. Good, now a third. She steps around behind him. SABINE (contd) Now open your eyes. There, are you more calm? LUC I am. Thank you. SABINE Where is my present? LUC Present? SABINE My gift of words? My pages? The manuscript? LUC Oh! Of course! Here it is. It has not left my hands. Phillippe reenters as Luc hands her a manuscript, which she promptly begins to read. SABINE I can see that. PHILLIPPE Brandy for the boy? SABINE Perhaps. Back so soon?


Phillippe picks up a bell from the table and opens the door. He rings the bell and replaces it. PHILLIPPE We met your husband in the corridor. SABINE I try my best, but the old buzzard always seems to enter one scene too early. Phillippe rings again. SABINE (contd) Isabelle was sent to her room, remember? PHILLIPPE And Henri is busily preparing luncheon. Shall I fetch it myself? SABINE Do. And fetch me a dress from my chambers? Isabelle enters with a large snifter of brandy and the decanter as well. She is already a bit tipsy. ISABELLE I heard the bell? PHILLIPPE Isabelle. We thought you went to your quarters. ISABELLE I believe so. I did not-- this brandy is a wonderful tonic-yet. PHILLIPPE That it is. You read my mind. Phillippe takes the brandy snifter and decanter. He hands the snifter to Luc. ISABELLE My tonic. PHILLIPPE Here you are, my boy. Sip it lightly. Swirl it around, enjoy the aroma. SABINE This is delightful! * * * * * * *


LUC And very strong. ISABELLE My tonic. Phillippe sets the decanter down. PHILLIPPE I fear we shall need more glasses. SABINE Yes, yes. Delightful. Isabelle walks closer to Luc, who hasnt noticed her yet. PHILLIPPE Shall I fetch them myself? SABINE That dispenses with the exposition. PHILLIPPE You arent hearing me, are you? SABINE Very clever. ISABELLE My tonic. Phillippe exits. ISABELLE (contd) That is very good, isnt it? LUC Yes. I have never tasted anything like it. ISABELLE May I have another taste? LUC But he gave it to me. ISABELLE It was mine when I left the kitchen. LUC Then this is yours? He turns to give it to her and their eyes meet. * * * * * * * * *


ISABELLE We could share it. LUC I-- we could-- here-He hands it to her. ISABELLE Thank you. She takes a sip. LUC You are very beautiful. ISABELLE Me? No. I am a serving girl. Madame Sabine is the radiant beauty of the house. SABINE Of course. LUC But she cannot compare to the luster of your eyes. I see fields of lavender under a clear blue sky. ISABELLE Oh, my. LUC And your voice is like the sweet song of the seraphim. ISABELLE Have some more. LUC Thank you. He takes a sip, and she takes back the glass. ISABELLE Tell me some more. LUC I am without words-ISABELLE Then no more for you. *


LUC Because you have drawn all the poetry from the world with your breath, to exhale it anew unto a desperate world, whose only hope of salvation comes from your lips as you bid me to speak again. ISABELLE Oh, speak again. LUC Bright angel, you are a muse to inspire a nation to go to war. Every painting that ever was or ever shall be was made to win your heart. No music was ever played but first the melody danced across your breast and the harmonies flew about your fell of hair before alighting to the treetops. ISABELLE You have earned another sip. LUC I must know one thing. ISABELLE Anything. SABINE Brilliant! Jean-Baptiste has outdone himself! The first scene alone will bring the entire audience to breathless laughter. Luc! LUC Madame? ISABELLE Luc. SABINE Run to the kitchens and tell Henri to make you the most delicious meal you have ever eaten! Sabine grabs Luc and plants a celebratory kiss on his lips. ISABELLE Not a kiss. Sabine turns and takes the brandy from Isabelle. SABINE Isabelle, remember today, for this is the day that I began to prepare the greatest role of my illustrious career. Next week we begin work on... Untitled?


LUC Madame? SABINE Luc, has he no title? LUC His play is called Jealousy Becomes Her. SABINE The bulk of these pages are wordless. Where is the rest? LUC I have handed you the wrong pages, madame! Those are my own scribblings. Please, here are the real pages. SABINE You wrote these lines, Luc? LUC I did, but they are hardly worth the reading as yet. SABINE My boy, listen to me with care. Who did I think was the author? LUC My master, but I didnt-SABINE My high praise is deserved by you. LUC Madame? SABINE This play, finished, shall make a name for you in Paris. You heard it from my lips first. LUC Thank you, madame. SABINE But, of course, it will be a complete failure if I am not your leading lady. Now go to the kitchens. You have earned a feast. Sabine ushers Luc to the door. SABINE (contd) Jean-Baptiste might fawn over you, his young apprentice, but I doubt he will ever feed you better. Go. Eat and be gluttonous. Isabelle go upstairs and draw a hot bath and prepare a guest room for our wordsmith. * * * * * *

* * *


LUC Isabelle. SABINE You shall sleep here tonight and in the morning ride back to Paris baring a letter for your master. ISABELLE Luc. LUC Isabelle. SABINE How sweet. To the kitchens. To the baths. Go. Sabine pushes Luc out the door and closes it behind him then crosses past Isabelle and the girl tries halfheartedly to catch the brandy snifter. ISABELLE My tonic. My Luc. SABINE Still here? Go, and use the masters salts in Lucs bath. This young man deserves the best. ISABELLE Of course, right away. Isabelle curtseys and exits the room. Sabine refills the snifter and reads from the script. SABINE The curtains open revealing a salon, charming and spacious and elegantly decorated with flowers and vases and family portraits. The house maid, Colombina, is cleaning the room, whistling softly to herself. She dances as she cleans, and holds an conversation with an imaginary suitor. Monsieur Velonges, it is such a surprise to see you this evening. Why thank you, this gown is one of my favorites. I bought it when last I visited Paris. Do you find it flattering? Monsieur, you are too forward, but I will grant you one dance, if you promise to behave. She takes him in her arms and begins to dance around the room. Sabine dances around the room, as if her brandy is her partner. * * * * * * * *

* * *


Claudette enters. She stops and watches Sabine dance. Sabine stops and leans forward to give an imaginary kiss to her dancing partner. CLAUDETTE At least someone is enjoying themselves. SABINE I have always adored that dress. CLAUDETTE Give me that. She takes the brandy snifter from Sabine. Claudette crosses to the decanter. SABINE What happened? CLAUDETTE I went to the music room and Aunt Mathilde ordered me to relocate here and to be sure that she could speak with me alone when she was done with Reginald. SABINE What was she telling him? CLAUDETTE I did not hear more than a few words through the door as I approached. But your name was mentioned loudly. SABINE Curse her rotting bones. CLAUDETTE He was seated at his pianoforte. SABINE The fool! CLAUDETTE She does dislike the frivolous. SABINE She wont stay here long. CLAUDETTE Why are you not dressed? SABINE I sent someone for my dress. Isabelle, I think. * *


CLAUDETTE Where the devil is she then? SABINE Running a bath. CLAUDETTE Good, I shall need one but I need more brandy. Phillippe enters with a dress for Sabine. SABINE As if on cue. PHILLIPPE Have I missed something? SABINE Claudette was ordered here to await further instructions. PHILLIPPE Very ominous indeed. CLAUDETTE I adore Brandy. Claudette refills her snifter. PHILLIPPE Where are the children? CLAUDETTE Luc went to the kitchens and Isabelle is drawing him a bath and preparing him a room. PHILLIPPE Excellent. CLAUDETTE You have to leave, now! PHILLIPPE Me? CLAUDETTE Both of you. Aunt Mathilde ordered me to be alone. SABINE But this is my house. PHILLIPPE We should go.


SABINE But this is my house! PHILLIPPE And you so love to entertain Madame deMaynes. SABINE Let us retire to the garden. PHILLIPPE An excellent strategy. Will you be safe alone, my dear? CLAUDETTE I doubt she would harm me. She wouldnt, would she? SABINE Of course not. You are far too lovely for her to deface. Send for us when she departs. CLAUDETTE Of course. A parting kiss? SABINE A quick one, my love. Sabine kisses Claudette and exits into the garden. PHILLIPPE Ill dress you in the garden. CLAUDETTE Now hurry. Phillippe exits into the garden. Claudette drains her snifter. She goes to the decanter and refills it. After a moment the door opens from the hall and Mathilde strides in followed by Reginald. MATHILDE You are trying my patience! REGINALD Grandmother, when have I ever done anything that was against your wishes? MATHILDE My dear, dear child. REGINALD You see? Have I not always been loyal and adoring? * *


MATHILDE You have always appeared so. REGINALD Appeared so? I, alone, of all your grandchildren have been the most attentive. MATHILDE You are my only grandchild. REGINALD [You see? Even after you took in Claudette, I still retain the title. And now,] I am with the love of my life and you insist I get a divorce? MATHILDE I have yet to see any offspring from you. How can I be expected to leave the family fortunes to you if you refuse to create an heir? It would be irresponsible of me! REGINALD We shall try harder. MATHILDE Nonsense. If you have not been successful after five years it proves she is a barren field and no seeds will take purchase. A wise farmer would begin plowing a new field. REGINALD I am uncomfortable with that image. MATHILDE Reginald, my sweet, sweet, young man, you are already in your thirties. I have given you all the time I can. I have waited patiently and now I must insist. End your marriage and find a fertile young woman from the court. You have three days or I shall remove you from my will. CLAUDETTE Aunt Mathilde! MATHILDE I am not ready for you yet, child. Sit yourself down. And put that brandy away. You know I condemn the consumption of alcohol! CLAUDETTE It was-- I thought-- Sabine might-MATHILDE Sabine! You see what a horrid influence that actress you have foisted upon this family is on your cousin? Drinking alcohol! (MORE) * * * * * *

29. MATHILDE (cont'd) I cannot imagine what other vices she has taught such a feeble minded girl. She cannot think for herself. Claudette, I said sit down!

Claudette sits. REGINALD Grandmother, for years you pestered me to take a wife and, out of devotion to you, I did. MATHILDE You betrayed that devotion and brought humiliation upon this family! Sneaking off to marry a common actress! Theatre is but one step above whoredom! Still worse, her womb is without the ability to produce even a single child. Of what good is she to me? Keep her in a side chamber to slake your lust if you must, but I must have an heir from you! REGINALD I will not leave my wife! MATHILDE You disappoint me more than I can express. The Cardinal was right. Leave me. REGINALD But this is my house! MATHILDE Which I gave you. There is a long pause. REGINALD Grandmother-MATHILDE Leave me before I am completely unwilling to consider your forgiveness. Reginald bows, takes Claudettes brandy from her, and exits. MATHILDE (contd) Now, Claudette, I feared it would come to this. He is unwilling to remove the problem so it falls to you. CLAUDETTE Me, Aunt Mathilde? MATHILDE You must remove the canker from the family bloom. * * * * * * *


CLAUDETTE Canker? MATHILDE There is a blemish and you must excise it. CLAUDETTE Excise? MATHILDE You cannot be as insipid as you portray yourself! (Pause) Perhaps you are. The Cardinal was kind enough to point out your unique position. You are married to the greatest swordsman in France. You will use that connection to scare away the vermin. CLAUDETTE Phillippe? MATHILDE You... married to Phillippe... confront Sabine... she fears for her life... runs away. You see? CLAUDETTE No. MATHILDE Tell her you are a master of the sword, having learned from your husband. CLAUDETTE Me? Learn to fence? I could never! MATHILDE I know that, but convince her otherwise. CLAUDETTE Do you mean-MATHILDE Challenge her to a duel. CLAUDETTE I cannot fight her. MATHILDE There is no need. All you must do is challenge her. She has no honor and will run and hide behind her theatre curtains. Reginald shall be free to find a fertile bride and you will have earned a daughters share of the family estate. CLAUDETTE But Sabine-* * * *


MATHILDE Has always made you look a fool in courtly soirees. The fact that she dared slap a cousin of the King shows that she has no propriety and has no place in this family! There is no better choice than you. CLAUDETTE But my husband dares not teach me the sword! MATHILDE No more than a few token flourishes are needed, surely. If he refuses I will tell the King that he already has been teaching you. CLAUDETTE And if I cannot? MATHILDE Neither you nor Reginald will get a single, solitary sou. I see the way that the two of you spend your annual allowances. Neither of you would survive long on the pittances your spouses earn by plying their trades. (Pause) Now I must go. I am meeting the Cardinal to discuss how much money would buy my way into heaven. Perhaps he is right and the entirety should be at his disposal. That should earn me a place in the heavenly host, should it not? CLAUDETTE But luncheon? MATHILDE I have no desire to dine with vermin. Remember what I expect. Do not presume to disappoint me. Mathilde exits to the hallway. Claudette heads to the garden door, opens it, but says nothing and closes it again. She crosses to the brandy decanter. The garden door opens and Sabine peeks her head inside. SABINE Is she gone? Claudette does not respond. Sabine enters. SABINE (contd) Claudette! Are you all right? You are as white as milk. Say something. Sabine runs to the garden door and calls out. Claudette drinks directly from the brandy decanter. * * * *

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *


SABINE (contd) Phillippe, come here! She does not look well! Sabine goes back to Claudette and takes away the decanter. SABINE (contd) My love, what is wrong? Phillippe enters through the garden door. PHILLIPPE Give her some brandy. SABINE She was drinking from the decanter. Sabine hands the decanter to Phillippe Claudette crosses to a chair and sits. Reginald enters from the hallway door with the brandy snifter. He immediately refills it. REGINALD Her carriage has left. SABINE Claudette? PHILLIPPE Shh. Give her peace. SABINE Dont tell me what to do. REGINALD Both of you hush. How is she? CLAUDETTE She is mad. Phillippe grabs the snifter from Reginald and refills it. He sips. SABINE Thats the first sane thing anyone has ever said about your mother. REGINALD Sabine! * * * * * *


PHILLIPPE Here. Phillippe hands the snifter to Sabine. CLAUDETTE I cant do it. SABINE What, sweetheart? CLAUDETTE Challenge her. Sabine sips the brandy. PHILLIPPE What do you mean? REGINALD Grandmother? Ridiculous. Reginald takes the snifter from Sabine ad sips. CLAUDETTE Not her. I have no choice. Reginald hands the snifter to Claudette, who sips. SABINE You are not making sense. CLAUDETTE Sabine. SABINE What, my love? CLAUDETTE You. SABINE Me, what? CLAUDETTE I must challenge you to a duel. SABINE What? PHILLIPPE This is how it falls apart.

* * * *

* *

* * * * *


CLAUDETTE I challenge you to duel. There, I said it. Reginald hands the snifter to Phillippe. REGINALD Nonsense. Jokes in the wake of her visit? Hardly the time. CLAUDETTE No, there is more to it. Gloves. These will do. Claudette takes Reginalds gloves, handing him the snifter. REGINALD What are you talking about? Claudette slaps Sabine across the face with the gloves. CLAUDETTE I challenge you to a duel. REGINALD My gloves! SABINE What in the hell are you doing? CLAUDETTE I did what I was told to do. PHILLIPPE A duel is no joke. REGINALD As if Claudette would even know which end of a sword to hold. PHILLIPPE She does. SABINE Was this what your Aunt wanted? CLAUDETTE She said that you would run away but you wont, will you? REGINALD What in gods name are you all talking about? SABINE Give me that brandy! * * *


Sabine takes the brandy snifter from Reginald and drinks. PHILLIPPE This wouldnt satisfy her. CLAUDETTE Are you sure? SABINE Dont encourage her. PHILLIPPE A challenge must be public. Very public. Phillippe takes the snifter from Sabine and drinks. REGINALD What in hell happened while I was in the other room? CLAUDETTE She told me that I needed to scare away Sabine, since you would not divorce her. That if I challenged her it would be over. SABINE Because I would run away like a coward? How dare she! REGINALD A reasonable conclusion. PHILLIPPE Only if you dont know Sabine. SABINE Ill kill her! REGINALD She is my grandmother! SABINE And my soon to be dead-in-law! CLAUDETTE But it didnt work, and we are undone. SABINE Dont be so dramatic. PHILLIPPE [We need and end game. * * * * *


REGINALD Not chess again. It bores me so. SABINE My blade, her heart, end of game. Works for me.] Sabine takes the snifter and drinks. REGINALD She is family! SABINE She wants me dead! CLAUDETTE She doesnt care about that. PHILLIPPE She wants you gone and the marriage ended. REGINALD Then I must marry someone fertile. SABINE And start procreating. REGINALD Why cant you two give her a wretched baby? PHILLIPPE We face the same impasse. REGINALD We have at least tried. SABINE A few times. REGINALD Might have to try again. Reginald takes the snifter and drinks. SABINE Let me just kill her. REGINALD No! PHILLIPPE We have to plan for the challenge and a suitable response. You might have to duel. * * * * * * * * * * * * *


CLAUDETTE Ive never picked up a sword in my life. PHILLIPPE Liar. Sabine told me everything. CLAUDETTE Everything? PHILLIPPE Yes. CLAUDETTE Even--? SABINE No, of course not that. PHILLIPPE Not what? REGINALD Wait a minute! You two have been teaching Claudette how to fence? Are you insane? CLAUDETTE Whats wrong with that? REGINALD Id sooner give a musket to chimpanzee. CLAUDETTE I will show you just how skilled I am! PHILLIPPE We are losing focus! What if you fail? CLAUDETTE I wont! PHILLIPPE What will your Mathilde do? CLAUDETTE Leave us out of the will. REGINALD But Im her grandson. CLAUDETTE And Sabine is still your wife. PHILLIPPE Then we are at an impasse. *


SABINE Please just let me kill her. REGINALD No! There must be a rational solution. SABINE I thought you had things well in hand? PHILLIPPE You must challenge her publicly. CLAUDETTE But she wont run away. SABINE Never! PHILLIPPE Then you must duel. CLAUDETTE How? PHILLIPPE We will work that out soon enough. We must start in the morning. REGINALD Start what? PHILLIPPE Fencing lessons in earnest. Give me that brandy. End of scene. *


Act I I-2: THE SALON, 2 DAYS LATER Sabine and Claudette are being taught by Phillippe. PHILLIPPE No. Again. SABINE En garde in tierce? PHILLIPPE Of course. When I say, again, I mean do the exact same thing again. But this time do it correctly. [Sabine begins, as I clap. Quarter tempo. Thrust center, and slip, palm slap, tar-get, repeat. And thrust, and slip, palm slap, tar-get. Good. And thrust, slip, slap, target. Thrust, slip, slap, target. And thrust, slip, slap, target. Thrust, slip, slap, target.] Claudette you are slipping too soon. Wait for it. He continues to clap the they continue the drill. himself a glass of water empty pitcher. Unseen by empties the pitcher into vase of flowers. CLAUDETTE I slip when I see it coming. PHILLIPPE I see that but I want you to let it get closer. CLAUDETTE For gods sake! PHILLIPPE Train your reflexes. Lest you panic. SABINE The thrusts are much closer than when we started. PHILLIPPE Regardless, it must be perfect at slow speeds. Half tempo! CLAUDETTE This will not be a real duel! And when will we stop doing drills [and begin the playacting]? PHILLIPPE When I say you are ready. rhythm and He pours from the near the ladies he a plant or

* * * * * *

* *


SABINE We are ready [to begin that]. PHILLIPPE Not both of you. Sabine switch out! Phillippe and Sabine change places without breaking rhythm. Now Claudette and Phillippe are running the drill. CLAUDETTE Why does she get to rest? PHILLIPPE Because I need to see your technique. Add the cut and avoid phrase before this. SABINE You finished the water! PHILLIPPE I was thirsty. SABINE Yet we have been doing all the work. PHILLIPPE Ring for Isabelle. SABINE She is at the market. Ill have to fetch it myself. If I linger you will only make me work more. CLAUDETTE Sabine, help me! SABINE As soon as I return. Sabine exits with the pitcher. CLAUDETTE Why in hell did I marry you, again? PHILLIPPE You fell in love. You are still reacting too soon! CLAUDETTE Not with you. PHILLIPPE Nor I, you. I could never love someone so hard headed.


CLAUDETTE Yet you fell for Reginald. PHILLIPPE Stop playing the fool. CLAUDETTE Bite your tongue! PHILLIPPE You give half measures with Sabine. CLAUDETTE I do not. PHILLIPPE She is gone. Show me your skills. CLAUDETTE I have. PHILLIPPE Show me or I tell her how good you actually are. CLAUDETTE If she knew--! PHILLIPPE That you already surpass her-CLAUDETTE She would stop practicing with me! PHILLIPPE At speed! Phillippe launches at Claudette at a much faster tempo. Claudette is only momentarily shaken, but quickly matches him. Soon he breaks from the drill and actually spars with her. This is much more technical than any fighting we have seen. Claudette is pushed to the limit, but does not falter. While not long, it should leave them breathless and in a corps-a-corps, face to face. In the heat of the moment they kiss, passionately. There is a knock at the door. SABINE (Off) A little help please? * * * * *


Phillippe and Claudette immediately separate and Phillippe heads to the door and opens it. CLAUDETTE And you have toyed with me enough for one day, husband! I must rest before the Marquis ball this evening. Sabine enters with a tray containing a large pitcher of water, glasses with ice, and a platter of cut fruits to snack on. SABINE I thought we deserved a treat. PHILLIPPE You cannot go out tonight. CLAUDETTE I shall. What reason do I have to miss it? SABINE We have a duel to create. CLAUDETTE I have no intention of wasting any more time with drills. Create the fight and teach it to me tomorrow. This has ceased being enjoyable. I have done with it. SABINE Be reasonable. CLAUDETTE I am. This is my life, not my aunts. If you wish to fight to the death with her, be my guest. She shall be at the Marquis tonight. Perhaps you could lie in wait like a brigand and rob her coach. With any luck my cousin has succeeded in getting her to sign the will, which might minimize his grief at her death. SABINE That isnt funny! I have been training just as hard as you and you dont hear me complaining. PHILLIPPE Much. SABINE You bite your tongue. Claudette, we are doing this for you. You are the weaker swordsman.


CLAUDETTE Enough of this! I am weary. I will go tonight and dance with my peers. PHILLIPPE Sabine? SABINE I am afraid that I agree with Claudette. We are all exhausted. Fencing skills alone will not solve the problem. Let her go to the ball and we shall take the night to rest. PHILLIPPE Very well, you may go. CLAUDETTE I do not need your permission to attend. I am the Marquis first cousin on my mothers side and I am expected to be there tonight. I have not been seen at court in days and must appear or there will be discussion. SABINE Oh, good lord. Discussion. CLAUDETTE Yes, discussion. There is already talk of why I disappeared. Reginald tells me that the prevailing theory is that I was so upset by being slapped by a commoner that I have been bathing exclusively in water brought from Lourdes. SABINE And how is that working for you? CLAUDETTE Quite well, or so I am told. I shall be fresh and radiant when next I am amongst them. PHILLIPPE That must be a relief for both you and them. CLAUDETTE Best I greet them tonight than let the story begin to rot on the vine. Phillippe, thank you for your patience. I do appreciate what you are risking for me. And Sabine, you are the dearest, sweetest friend I could have to put your life in my hands. SABINE Have no fear of that, my love. There is no possible way that you could touch me with your sword unless I allowed it. CLAUDETTE [You think?


SABINE I know.] CLAUDETTE Tomorrow I might prove you wrong. SABINE I look forward to wiping your tears. The ladies kiss. PHILLIPPE Oh, good god, I will never get used to seeing you two do that. SABINE Most men of your age would be thrilled to see two attractive women in a passionate embrace within their reach. PHILLIPPE Those men would, no doubt, hope you passion would soon engulf them, but I have nothing but a disinterested observers attitude. If, however, you could convince two of your most men to take your place, my attention would be rapt. CLAUDETTE Husband. Are you saying that the sight of me puckering my lips does not fill you with unbridled lust? PHILLIPPE It fills me with unbridled indifference. CLAUDETTE Whatever shall I do? A poor distraught wife ignored. PHILLIPPE I remember well your reaction on our wedding night. CLAUDETTE Yes, keep that thing away from me. SABINE I simply adore your flirtations. PHILLIPPE We are shameless, are we not? SABINE That would not be my first choice of words. CLAUDETTE Where is Reginald? He is bringing me in his coach and I was hoping he would have been able to extricate me from your sordid fencing class. *


PHILLIPPE Sordid? CLAUDETTE I generally find perspiration detestable. You know that. PHILLIPPE Yet you persisted for more than a year? SABINE I told her to think of it as sex. CLAUDETTE And that has made all the difference. SABINE Perhaps the King would appreciate that approach? PHILLIPPE Enough! Wife, get you to your bath so that I may speak to Sabine about the business at hand. SABINE My imminent demise? PHILLIPPE What else? CLAUDETTE Oh, very well. They kiss again, and Claudette exits. SABINE She might be exasperating at times, but she does still thrill me. PHILLIPPE She confounds me. SABINE That is because you have no interest in the female sex. If you did you would want her whenever you cross swords with her. PHILLIPPE Can you imagine that? SABINE Never. Your loss. Perhaps we should abandon the whole idea.


PHILLIPPE How long do you think your husband could survive on the income from your stage plays? SABINE I am the most celebrated actress in all of France. PHILLIPPE And what that earns you in a year would barely pay for a pair of his favorite shoes. SABINE He would have to learn to wear them more than once. PHILLIPPE God forbid. They might get scuffed. Reginald enters from the hallway. REGINALD What might get scuffed? PHILLIPPE Your shoes. REGINALD Never! No greater crime exists than shoe-scuffing. There is a special circle of hell for shoe-scuffers. [Youll see soon enough. PHILLIPPE Me? REGINALD Yes, you. I have heard it on the wind that you like to kiss boys. That, my friend, is frowned on by the church. PHILLIPPE Is it? REGINALD Yes. It is a pleasure reserved for the clergy.] [or these lines?: REGINALD (contd) You are drenched and flushed. PHILLIPPE I am. REGINALD Just like last night.] * * * * * * * * *


Reginald and Phillippe kiss. SABINE Is this where I wail at the sight? Phillippe certainly does. Hello? Reginald? Did you succeed with your grandmother? REGINALD You had to bring up that foul woman. You have completely ruined my passion. PHILLIPPE Ignore her. Think about last night. REGINALD You were such a brute. They kiss again. SABINE Dont you have a party to prepare for? REGINALD I am ready. Perhaps I shall put on a new pair of shoes, though. SABINE What news have you for us? REGINALD She would not see me. SABINE Still barred at the gates? REGINALD Yes. She means to go ahead with her plan. You go or we get nothing. I am sure the Cardinal is dancing a jig beneath his cassock. Im told he will not leave her side. PHILLIPPE Not until after he administers a poisoned host. SABINE What must be done? REGINALD I do not know. I wish I knew what her will says as of now. Has she changed it, or are we still the heirs? Who knows but she herself? PHILLIPPE I am sure that is why the Cardinal is at her side.


REGINALD He even has a servant to act as praegustator. SABINE What? PHILLIPPE Food taster? You think someone would try to poison her? REGINALD No, but he fears we might try to take him out and is taking no chances. SABINE Is there no one to speak on your behalf? REGINALD None but the King, himself and I dare not approach him. PHILLIPPE Perhaps you should not attend the party tonight. REGINALD I must. If I act as if this is a farce, then perhaps it shall become so. PHILLIPPE A bit like one of your plays. SABINE Life imitates art? How droll. REGINALD What would Corneille do? SABINE If this were one of his tragedies he would kill half the cast and have the rest cry. REGINALD And Jean-Baptistes satires? SABINE A servant girl would come in and give a comic monologue. In it would be the solution to our problems. She would probably dress me in boys clothing and I would seduce your grandmother and she would leave it all to me. They all look expectantly at the door. No one enters. SABINE (contd) Isabelle has missed her cue. Looks like we arent in a comedy. * * * * * *

* * *


REGINALD Any other playwrights we could seek help from? PHILLIPPE The Greeks? SABINE Aristophanes? You want to prance around with a large leather phallus? REGINALD Not again. PHILLIPPE [Made me laugh, at least.] REGINALD Shakespeare! SABINE He goes both ways. Trust me, There is nothing to be learned from the theatre. PHILLIPPE Don't let Jean-Baptiste hear that. SABINE In this situation. REGINALD There must be something. You have been training with the sword for two days straight. SABINE We continue as planned. Tomorrow we create a fight in which I take a slight wound. Isabelle is the victor, and I retreat to Paris. Simple, plausible, and guaranteed to satisfy the old crone. REGINALD But we would still be wed. SABINE So go get someone with child! That is what she wants. Create an heir and she will be content. REGINALD Disgusting. PHILLIPPE Or Claudette and I could try. * * * * * * * *


REGINALD Please. I have seen the two of you together. It would take draft horses to pull you together. PHILLIPPE It was merely a suggestion. REGINALD And I appreciate the gesture. What do you say, wife? Will you dress up like Phillippe and let me take you in the dark tonight? SABINE I fear there is not enough alcohol in France for to that. But for the good of the family I shall begin to drink immediately. REGINALD Very good. I shall make it a point to announce to all the guests tonight that I shall impregnate you and produce an heir forthwith. SABINE What have I agreed to? I shall keep Isabelle busy until you return refilling both my hot bath and my wine glass. Phillippe? PHILLIPPE I shall retire now to my chamber to compose your duel. One of us should remain sober. REGINALD Dont be jealous if I fail to make an appearance in your bedchamber tonight. My wife needs impregnating. Perhaps your wife could use the same attention? PHILLIPPE I am sure the moment she sees the two of you trying to copulate she will come to me for reassurance. SABINE God help us all. PHILLIPPE You are sure your blood bladders will work? SABINE If they fool the audiences of Paris they will fool that old goat. REGINALD You are speaking of my grandmother. * * * * *

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* *


SABINE Apologies, that dear old goat. REGINALD Thank you. SABINE Now I must be off to my bath. REGINALD And I need a new pair of shoes. PHILLIPPE And I shall remain to plot your maiming. SABINE Kiss kiss. Sabine exits. REGINALD Am I a fool? PHILLIPPE No more than any of us. They kiss and Reginald exits. PHILLIPPE (contd) Perhaps far less than I, my love. Claudette appears, ready for the party. CLAUDETTE How do I look? PHILLIPPE Ravishing. CLAUDETTE Where are the others? PHILLIPPE Reginald is changing his shoes and Sabine is preparing to be impregnated. CLAUDETTE Oh. Why did you do that to me? PHILLIPPE You kissed me first. CLAUDETTE I did not! * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


PHILLIPPE It happened CLAUDETTE It was the swords. PHILLIPPE It had to have been. CLAUDETTE [Are we in love? PHILLIPPE With them. CLAUDETTE Of course, but] there is no time to deal with this now. PHILLIPPE Enjoy the Marquis ball. CLAUDETTE We shall discuss this when I return. PHILLIPPE I shall be in my chamber. CLAUDETTE And Reginald? PHILLIPPE He has announced plans to impregnate Sabine. CLAUDETTE You were serious? PHILLIPPE Tonight. CLAUDETTE Tonight. Find Reginald for me? We must leave for the party. PHILLIPPE Of course. Phillippe exits. Claudette begins to flourish, in a gown takes one of the rapiers and wield it in an impressive despite being fully dressed with tight corset.

* *

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Mathilde enters, watching Claudette for a moment before she speaks.


MATHILDE You have gained some skill with the sword, I see. Startled, Claudette spins and puts Mathilde on point. CLAUDETTE Aunt Mathilde! MATHILDE You greet me with the point of a sword? Am I not welcome anymore in this house? CLAUDETTE You have ostracized Reginald. Refused his entreaties. MATHILDE He refused a simple request from his grandmother. What recourse did I have? Is he here? CLAUDETTE He shall be down at any moment. MATHILDE But where is he? CLAUDETTE I do not know. MATHILDE And the trollop he chose over his familys wealth? CLAUDETTE I... do not know. MATHILDE What, pray, do you know? Where is your own husband? His steed is in the stable yard. CLAUDETTE Somewhere. MATHILDE Of course he is somewhere, that is a physical certainty. He cannot be nowhere and thus he must be somewhere, but where is he? You had best hope he hasnt been lured into some chamber by that harlot. CLAUDETTE Certainly not! MATHILDE You are so sure? Men have but two thoughts, women and sex. *


CLAUDETTE Is that not one thought? MATHILDE Only in an unwise man. It is of no matter at this juncture. I have words for you alone, and only moments to instruct you before I leave for Paris. Sit down. CLAUDETTE You wont be with the Marquis tonight? MATHILDE Obviously not! Use your brain. I am standing here ordering you to sit yourself down and listen. The Cardinal is not a patient man. CLAUDETTE He is in your carriage? MATHILDE Of course, and I am straining propriety, but I assured the conniving pederast that I would only be a moment. CLAUDETTE Aunt Mathilde, such language! MATHILDE I am not foolish enough to believe that his advice to me is purely liturgical, but I can ill afford to take chances with the hereafter. However, my first priority is my family. CLAUDETTE That is a relief for us all. MATHILDE Which is why you must kill that harlot by weeks end or I shall have to take matters in hand myself. CLAUDETTE I plan to challenge-MATHILDE Yes, yes, but do it soon. Kill her, maim her, I care not. Just get her out of the family. If you do not, then I shall. CLAUDETTE How? MATHILDE The Cardinal assures me he knows of an entire class of ruffians who can be very persuasive. For a price. CLAUDETTE Aunt Mathilde! *

* * * * *


MATHILDE What good is enormous wealth if it cannot ease my daily ills? I shall return in three days with newly hired footmen. Dispose of her before the week passes. If I must send my footmen to this house at night, rest assured that the Cardinal will be happier for it. Three days. Mathilde heads for the door. MATHILDE (contd) No farewell for your Aunt? CLAUDETTE It was, as always, a deep honor to receive you, Aunt Mathilde. I shall keep your words close to my heart and tell my cousin of your visit. MATHILDE Do not. This meeting was for your ears only. Do as you are told and you might still have a chance at wealth and happiness. Good day. Mathilde exits. CLAUDETTE Oh God, I need a drink. Claudette goes to decanter and pours a glass of wine for herself. She drinks it in one gulp, the pours another. Reginald enters. REGINALD There you are, Claudette. So much to tell you as we ride to the party. Have you heard? I plan to impregnate my wife this very night! CLAUDETTE I have three days. REGINALD Trust me, Phillippe doesnt have it in him to do the same for you, poor thing. Shall we? CLAUDETTE What choice do I have? REGINALD True. Come, we are late for the party. Reginald grabs her hand and pulls her out of the room.

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* * *


End of scene.


Act I I-3 THE WOODS, FOUR DAYS LATER, MINUTES BEFORE DAWN Two brigands are sorting what they have stolen through the evening. LECHEVRE Suns coming up soon. GASCOYNE Very true. LECHEVRE Not a bad catch for one night. GASCOYNE Could have been worse. LECHEVRE Not as many coins as last night. GASCOYNE Could have been better. LECHEVRE But these pearls are nice. And so many rings! GASCOYNE Could have been worse. LECHEVRE True. That young lord was pretty quick with his blade. I hate when they hide daggers. GASCOYNE No honor there. LECHEVRE True. Not right to search them, though. GASCOYNE Not according to our code. LECHEVRE One must have rules. GASCOYNE Thats the code. LECHEVRE Keeps us from being savages. *


GASCOYNE Don't want that. LECHEVRE Of course not. GASCOYNE Of course not. I could have broken his arm for you. LECHEVRE True, but you didn't have to. GASCOYNE I was afraid I would have to. LECHEVRE If he hadn't let go you would have had to. GASCOYNE I watch your back. LECHEVRE You do that well. GASCOYNE I do that well. LECHEVRE You do. You hit that guard last week. GASCOYNE He tried to kill you. LECHEVRE And you stopped him. GASCOYNE I stopped him. LECHEVRE You are a true friend. So, not a bad haul tonight. GASCOYNE Could have been worse. LECHEVRE Nothing to be done. GASCOYNE Yep. LECHEVRE Of course, it does make it more exciting when they fight us.


GASCOYNE True. LECHEVRE But I like the easy ones best. GASCOYNE The ones who are nice. LECHEVRE And cooperative. GASCOYNE And pretty. LECHEVRE Pretty is very nice. GASCOYNE Why don't we only go after the pretty ones then? LECHEVRE Because the pretty ones are young and the young rarely have great wealth. GASCOYNE These pearls are pretty. LECHEVRE You have impeccable logic. GASCOYNE Suns coming up soon. LECHEVRE Still true. GASCOYNE When can we go back to Paris? LECHEVRE Soon. Almost have enough to afford living there. GASCOYNE I miss the city. LECHEVRE I know you do, but remember why we left? GASCOYNE Too expensive and so few thieves have any class. LECHEVRE A whole lot of mean and ugly.


GASCOYNE Theobald. LECHEVRE True enough. Both mean and ugly. GASCOYNE And no honor. LECHEVRE Why he would single us out, I have no idea. GASCOYNE Because we knew him-LECHEVRE Back in St. Kitts. GASCOYNE Whats that? LECHEVRE Ah, Saint Christophe Island. Remember Tortuga? The seas? GASCOYNE The noise. Two horses on the road. LECHEVRE We should go. GASCOYNE What about all this? LECHEVRE Put it back in the tree while I take a look. LeChevre sneaks to look offstage while GASCOYNE gathers the valuables and hides them in the hollow of a tree. GASCOYNE (Whispers) What do you see? LECHEVRE (Whispers) Two horses. Theyve stopped. Are you almost done? GASCOYNE (Whispers) Two more bags. LECHEVRE (Whispers) Theyre dismounting. GASCOYNE (Whispers) Done. Why are they here? * * * * * * * * * * * * *


LECHEVRE (Whispers) I cant read minds-- theyre coming! GASCOYNE (Whispers) Do we take them, too? LECHEVRE Well see. Hide in the bushes. Follow my lead. They hide in the bushes as SABINE and PHILLIPPE enter. PHILLIPPE Are you ready for this? SABINE Of course. PHILLIPPE You barely slept. SABINE I worry about Claudette. PHILLIPPE Have no fear for her. The brigands emerge from hiding. LECHEVRE Good morning, sir and/or madame. My associate and I are here to ensure the free exchange of wealth from your possession to ours. As you can see, our possessions are little more than these two very dangerous looking swords, which, while not being the most fashionable of weapons are rusty enough that a single cut could cause a nasty wound. GASCOYNE Or death. LECHEVRE Or death, as my associate notes. SABINE We dont have time for this. LECHEVRE This neednt be time consuming. Just hand over all of your-Sabine and Phillippe draw their swords. SABINE This man is the fencing master to the King and I am his star pupil.


GASCOYNE Its her. LECHEVRE Who? GASCOYNE I cant believe this. LECHEVRE This is hardly the time. SABINE You know me? GASCOYNE You are the greatest actress I have ever seen. LECHEVRE I would never have recognized you. We loved your Isabelle. SABINE Really? I am flattered. PHILLIPPE They know Isabelle? SABINE School for Husbands. My role. LECHEVRE A triumph! GASCOYNE Tour de force! SABINE Please, you make me blush. PHILLIPPE This is hardly the time. SABINE True. Do you yield? GASCOYNE We could never steal from The Sabine. LECHEVRE It would betray our devotion. PHILLIPPE They will soon be here. You must leave and never return.


LECHEVRE We were just discussing that. GASCOYNE But a few days-PHILLIPPE Go now or I shall bring the guards myself. SABINE Phillippe, they are my fans. PHILLIPPE And you have a duel to fight. LECHEVRE We could help. GASCOYNE We can be very effective. PHILLIPPE No. SABINE But that is very sweet. PHILLIPPE We have it well in hand but you really must leave. GASCOYNE Of course. Anything for Madame Sabine. LECHEVRE The new play? SABINE Jealousy Becomes Her begins rehearsals in two weeks. LECHEVRE Wonderful! SABINE And a new play is being written for me which all Paris will adore. GASCOYNE Tell us more. PHILLIPPE Sabine! SABINE You will have to wait and see. Now you must go at once.


LECHEVRE It was an honor. GASCOYNE Farewell. LeChevre and Gascoyne exit. PHILLIPPE What was that? SABINE I thought it was cute. PHILLIPPE It would have been a shame for them to see you get run through because you lost your focus. SABINE I am an actor. I never lose my focus. PHILLIPPE Are you ready? SABINE As I ever was. How do I look? PHILLIPPE Reginald did a good job sewing in the blood bladder. SABINE Can barely tell its there. I hope I can keep it intact. PHILLIPPE If I see any red I will call first blood. You both have the corsets loose enough to breathe, right? SABINE As loose as is proper with the Mother Superior present. If Claudette trips up I will cover. PHILLIPPE One more time through it? SABINE No. Lets decide placement. PHILLIPPE Fighters here and here, spectators there, and me, here. The sounds of a carriage approaching. *


SABINE Perfect. They have arrived. I need a few moments to get in character. Meet them at the road? PHILLIPPE Of course. You will both be fine. SABINE Thank you. Go. PHILLIPPE exits towards the road. The two brigands silently peek from the bushes. SABINE draws her sword and executes an impressive sword form. The brigands retreat back into the bushes, impressed. [The brigands reappear and applaud quietly. SABINE (contd) (Softly) Thank you. Now go! The brigands disappear again.] MATHILDE (Off) This is a god-forsaken place! CLAUDETTE (Off) Aunt Mathilde, please. MATHILDE (Off) Who will stay with the carriage? PHILLIPPE (Off) Leave your footmen to keep it safe. We shall not need any with us. MATHILDE (Off) Absurd. Andre and Jules, stay here. Theobald, come with me. Where are we going? PHILLIPPE (Off) This way. Phillippe enters, followed by Claudette, Mathilde and one very thuggish footman, Theobald, who wears his livery with great discomfort. MATHILDE What a detestable location. * * * * *


SABINE The trees are lush and we are surrounded by the morning mist. MATHILDE As I said. Detestable. Let us waste no more time. I do not wish to catch my death from the chill. SABINE My blade could warm you up. MATHILDE Phillippe, begin. CLAUDETTE Aunt Mathilde -MATHILDE Stop pleading like some orphan on the streets. Phillippe? PHILLIPPE First, we must each be in our proper places. Sabine to this side and Claudette to the other. Madame, you and your man must stand to that side to be witnesses. Everyone moves to their places. MATHILDE This ground is damp. PHILLIPPE And? MATHILDE I will not stand here and soak my feet. I shall watch from here. PHILLIPPE We may not begin until all are in their proper places. There is a long pause. At length Mathilde relents and moves. MATHILDE This is most ridiculous. PHILLIPPE My apologies, but as we spoke last night, I have a sacred duty to perform in presiding over a duel. MATHILDE I have watched my share of duels from a respectable distance and never been forced to stand in mud. *


PHILLIPPE The mud is irrelevant. You must observe from the opposite side to ensure that there will be no subterfuge. I shall watch from this side. I rely on your keen observation. SABINE She is a judge? I am relieved to have such impartial eyes. PHILLIPPE Madame, can you maintain your equanimity? MATHILDE Of course. SABINE I protest. PHILLIPPE Over ruled. En garde! The ladies take their positions. PHILLIPPE (contd) Salute! They do so. PHILLIPPE (contd) We have discussed at length the rules of engagement and both of you have agreed to honor them. The eyes of God and man are upon you. Do nothing to bring dishonor upon yourselves. My decision will be made at the first sign of blood. MATHILDE Blood? This should be to the death. PHILLIPPE Madame, please. MATHILDE They always end in death. That is the purpose of a duel. PHILLIPPE Madame, they will be attacking each other with three feet of razor sharp steel in a completely unsterile environment. SABINE Again I offer you my blade, if you need verification. PHILLIPPE Sabine! SABINE Maestro.


PHILLIPPE In all likelihood death is the only option but it is considered uncouth to mention so grim an inevitability in the moments before the fight. MATHILDE My apologies. Proceed. PHILLIPPE The sun has already shown itself over the horizon, and thus we must begin. En garde. SABINE Claudette. CLAUDETTE Sabine. PHILLIPPE Begin! They begin their fight. Claudette is tentative at first, responding to Sabine's attacks. MATHILDE Claudette, stop retreating and attack! CLAUDETTE I am trying! SABINE Perhaps you should use your familys wealth to buy a lighter sword or a substitute fighter. Such a pampered flower is unused to such heavy work. CLAUDETTE Be quiet! SABINE Oh, did wittoo itty Kwaudette get hew feewings huwt? Call the nanny. CLAUDETTE Enough! Ill run you through! SABINE At this rate you will only retreat back to your residence. CLAUDETTE Be quiet! * * *


SABINE Your detestable Aunt should have challenged me. She, at least, might prove a challenge. MATHILDE Silence her! CLAUDETTE Shut up, you bitch! Claudette now takes the offensive, pushing Sabine back. The final phrase is a fast flurry of attacks ending with Claudettes sword point (apparently) lodged in Sabines hip. Blood appears on her dress. PHILLIPPE It is done. MATHILDE Strike her again! Finish it! PHILLIPPE It is done. Sabine bleeds-SABINE But I struck her! I felt the contact! CLAUDETTE Nonsense! Yield! PHILLIPPE Claudette! SABINE falls to the ground. MATHILDE She only bleeds. Claudette end this and we can depart. Quickly, child. We have my will to sign. Sabine, pray you are dead by sunset. PHILLIPPE I must look to her wound. There is a lot of blood. Footman, help me get her to the carriage. MATHILDE Leave her! She arrived on horseback, she can depart the same way. PHILLIPPE She is too hurt to ride.


MATHILDE I care not. Claudette, now! A whistle is heard off stage. MATHILDE (contd) What in Gods name is that? THEOBALD Soldiers. PHILLIPPE How many? THEOBALD Two. Another whistle is heard. THEOBALD (contd) Six. PHILLIPPE We must leave. Sabine, can you ride? MATHILDE The harlot cannot even stand. Claudette, finish this! SABINE Come within my reach, you hag, I will finish you! MATHILDE You will be dead soon enough. If I have to do it myself. PHILLIPPE I will not allow any more violence. Get to the carriage. The soldiers must not suspect a duel. MATHILDE Theobald! THEOBALD Madame? MATHILDE You know what to do. THEOBALD Madame. Before Theobald can draw his knife, Phillippes blade is drawn and in his face.


PHILLIPPE It is over. MATHILDE DeValmorin, do not cross me. PHILLIPPE I have the honor of the King to uphold. Would you cross him so directly? There is another whistle from offstage. THEOBALD They are very near. MATHILDE Get my niece to the carriage. I am most displeased, deValmorin. PHILLIPPE As am I. A duel is the height of civility, not a means for petty revenge. Wife? CLAUDETTE I am well. Theobald, Aunt Mathilde, we should hurry. PHILLIPPE Go, my love. I will tell the soldiers she was thrown from her horse. They kiss and Claudette runs off stage, followed by Theobald and Mathilde. SABINE I will not flee! Let the soldiers find me! I care not! PHILLIPPE Keep your voice down! While Sabine shouts her next speech, Phillippe sneaks a look off stage as the sounds of the carriage departing are heard. SABINE Bring her back! Both of them! I shall kill them both whilst leaning against a tree! They have stuck me like a suckling pig! Bring on the soldiers! I shall tell the King what you have done! You cant kill me so easily! I shall limp across the stage and denounce your entire degenerate family! The King will not be so pleased to find his favorite actress has been injured! He will have your heads! Come back and face me!


The sounds of the horses and carriages fade. Phillippe enters and tries to silence Sabine. SABINE (contd) Look at all the blood! You butcher! Oh, I am sped! A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse! A plague on both your houses! (Whispers) Are they gone? PHILLIPPE Long gone. Be quiet. Sabine jumps to her feet. Phillippe tosses her a saddle bag. As they speak she removes the bloody outer clothes and changes into fresh ones. SABINE Then why let me keep yelling? PHILLIPPE You are like charging horses. The soldiers are near. They hide on stage as the sounds of the soldiers riding close, stopping to investigate, then ride off after the carriage. Sabine and Phillippe emerge from hiding. SABINE That was rather fun, wasnt it? PHILLIPPE I suppose. SABINE Do you think it worked? PHILLIPPE I have my doubts. SABINE Shall we adjourn to the tavern? PHILLIPPE A little water clears us of this deed? SABINE Shakespeare? I am impressed. PHILLIPPE Our work is not yet finished. * * * * * * * *


SABINE Of course. I must send word to Jean-Baptiste. My public awaits word of my maiming. PHILLIPPE Lady, may I guide you to your horse? SABINE It would be my honor. They exit. The brigands enter again as the sounds of horses riding off are heard. End of scene. End of Act I. *


ACT II II-1: THE SALON, FOUR DAYS LATER Reginald is pacing and drinking. He finishes his wine and opens the door. REGINALD Isabelle! I need more wine! SABINE (Off) I just sent her for a bottle. Sabine enters. REGINALD How did you know I would need it? SABINE You are my husband. Besides, I wanted that one for myself. REGINALD And sign of Claudette? SABINE No, but she sent word that they were in Paris to meet with the Cardinal. REGINALD And thats not bad news? SABINE It was to be expected. Perhaps she will do what you could not. Get the will repaired to save you both. REGINALD You are in a foul mood. SABINE I should be. REGINALD Oh, lord. Not today. SABINE Today or tomorrow. I am amazed you dont have it marked in your social calendar. REGINALD In red ink. SABINE Thats rather indelicate. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


REGINALD I dont need to write it down. Cadette always warns us in advance. SABINE Does she? REGINALD Do you blame her? SABINE She should know, she shares the same foul moods. REGINALD Not nearly. SABINE True. She does not get the same pains that I do. REGINALD Pleasant. SABINE In truth, I expected them by now but the weeks stress seems to have affected us both. REGINALD I dont like this whole idea of Claudette alone with the Cardinal and my Grandmother. SABINE No defending her? REGINALD Every other time I have been reasonably certain of where I stood. I knew the politics of her good graces and could navigate that dance floor without bumping into anyone. I am helpless here and Claudette hasnt the experience. SABINE Phillippe is with the King. He should learn something. REGINALD And if he does not? SABINE You think your grandmother will do something to Claudette? She has what she demanded. REGINALD She does not. You still breathe. Who knows what she could do to that beautiful but vapid child?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


SABINE She is not a child. REGINALD But she is rarely the brightest candle in the room. Without me there she might say the wrong thing, sign the wrong document, or even eat something the Cardinal has made for her. SABINE Give her come credit. REGINALD I am. She will spell her name correctly and beautifully when she gives away my share of the inheritance to the Cardinal! SABINE Even so, your grandmother will not leave her with nothing. REGINALD Unless she keeps the family tradition of using the Bastille. SABINE What do you mean? REGINALD Nothing. Phillippe will have some success. The King must know something. SABINE Do not evade me. What did you mean about the Bastille? REGINALD My grandmother has never had much fondness for Claudettes limb of the family tree. You are well aware of that. But if you breathe a word of what I tell you all our lives will be in grave danger. I have never told Claudette, and I doubt grandmother is aware of what I know. She never spoke in defense of her own niece and nephew. She was the one who had them arrested. SABINE Claudettes parents? REGINALD Yes. I was barely sixteen and having a brief kissing session with this absolute dream of a footman she had. We were in the servants passage behind the library-- a room she rarely enters. There was a commotion and we saw a dozen royal guards approaching. Pierre fled, thinking they were there for him but I stayed to watch. I heard her summon them into the library to arrest my own aunt and uncle who were with her. They were dragged away in chains and executed quietly days later. No trial, no appeal, no mercy. * * * * * * * * * * *

* *


SABINE How could you ever defend that woman after that? REGINALD I was her ward! She denounced them as traitors. How was I to know that she was lying? My own parents were long dead. [I have no doubt she was involved in that, as well, but] I was a boy! She scared me as she does you. More, in fact! But know this, if you breathe a word of this to anyone I will divorce and denounce you, myself. I will not have Claudette hurt in this way. I was all that Claudette has had since that day. SABINE Until she met me. REGINALD True enough, but that secret I shall to carry to my grave. SABINE That is too great a burden to bear by yourself. REGINALD And now we share it. And neither of us shall any lighter. SABINE With every word I regret not killing her when I had the chance. REGINALD I am beginning to wonder if it was wise to have prevented you. SABINE You all second guess my instincts and they are rarely wrong. Isabelle enters with wine and a platter of food. REGINALD I hate this waiting! ISABELLE I am sorry to have been delayed, but Henri insisted that I also bring you something to eat. He told me to inform you that it is unwise to drink so much wine empty stomachs. REGINALD I wish we were working towards a drunken bliss, but this tension is preventing even the merest hint of calm. ISABELLE I spilled some water just outside. I shall need to clean that up.

* * * * * * * *

* *

* * * * *


SABINE Thank you, Isabelle. No one has come to the gates? REGINALD Reminds me of Salzburg. ISABELLE No, maam. SABINE When did you go to Salzburg? REGINALD It was my first tryst with Phillippe. This is hardly the time for an amusing story. Isabelle, let us know if any carriage approaches. ISABELLE Of course, sir. SABINE And thank Henri for us. I could use a funny story. ISABELLE A story? REGINALD I never told you about the fat Englishman and his enormous boots? Not you, dear. ISABELLE I have put on a little weight. SABINE But you arent English, dear. ISABELLE I should hope not. SABINE Do tell me. I have a sense of dread that could only mean your grandmother is about to enter. Anything to dispel that. ISABELLE Not her! REGINALD Calm yourself, Isabelle. She is in Paris and we dont expect her to return for quite some time. Why dont you run along and calm yourself. ISABELLE Perhaps some tonic? *


SABINE That might not be wise until bed time. Remember, if any carriage comes...? ISABELLE Come tell you immediately. SABINE Good. Be careful of the water. Isabelle exits. Isabelle lets out a short shriek as she, apparently, slips on the water. SABINE (contd) She terrifies poor Isabelle. REGINALD Im willing to bet the Cardinal dreads her entrance. SABINE She is like one of those monsters the gypsies tell about. REGINALD I dont like the sound of that. SABINE Stalking the night. Drinking the blood of virgins. REGINALD Then Claudette is safe at least. SABINE She has never truly been with a man. REGINALD God comfort her. SABINE Your grandmother is the Queen of damned souls! REGINALD Do not speak of her. Like the devil she might appear! SABINE Madame deMaynes, foul mistress of the night, I summon you! They both turn to the door. SABINE (contd) She seems to have missed her cue.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


REGINALD You tempt fate too much. SABINE Tell me about Salzburg. REGINALD Very well. Phillippe and I had been eyeing each other for weeks, but it was hardly a question we could bring up in casual conversation. SABINE Pardon me, but do you enjoy the unique pleasures of a mans love? REGINALD So I managed to mention, in passing, my uncles extensive collection of medieval weaponry. I knew, being a swordsman, he could not pass on that chance. SABINE Clever. REGINALD And on the second night, at an inn near Salzburg we somehow ended up drunk and in the same bedchamber. SABINE What a mortifying mischief. REGINALD And the rest is history. Not quite as easy as introducing you to Claudette, but it has an air of romance to it. SABINE Easy? She was terrified that someone would catch us. Two women alone in a public house in the theatre district? Hardly the place for a young noblewoman. REGINALD She had me as an escort. SABINE Yes, and the threat of violence from a twelve year old gives you a panic attack. REGINALD It certainly would not! SABINE Last year at the baptism of the Viscounts son? You hid in the music room for two hours. *


REGINALD The vile child threw a rock at me! SABINE She was the most angelic looking girl of six, though. REGINALD We were talking about the fat Englishman. SABINE So we were. Continue. REGINALD He had the room directly above ours and every night he would out drink everyone in the place. Which, in Salzburg, is quite a feat. Long after we had retired we would hear him climb the stairs. The slamming of his door and the crash of his bulk landing on his mattress. The rafters actually groaned. SABINE You could have been crushed. REGINALD We would lie in bed and listen to him. First he would remove his boots. They were over his knee and folded over. SABINE Like a pirate? REGINALD Exactly! And after a struggle-- Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! God damn, rassa frassa- Slam! The first boot would hit the floor. Then after a time... Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! God damn, rassa frassa- and slam! The second boot. Every night the same thing. SABINE You poor boys. REGINALD It was quite entertaining in its sheer horror. The door bursts open revealing Isabelle. ISABELLE Master! REGINALD Isabelle, you just stopped my heart! ISABELLE Oh! Sorry. *


SABINE You nearly killed us both! ISABELLE With the door? SABINE With fright. ISABELLE I brought a cloth for the water. REGINALD Shes here, isnt she? ISABELLE Who is she, maam? SABINE My harpy-in-law. ISABELLE Where?! REGINALD You havent seen her? ISABELLE No! Is she looking for me? REGINALD No. ISABELLE What have I done wrong? Shell kill me for sure! SABINE No. We are asking you. Is she here? ISABELLE I havent seen her in days. REGINALD You are sure? ISABELLE No. REGINALD This is serious. We are waiting for the other boot to hit the ceiling. ISABELLE Boot? * * * * * * * * * * * * *


REGINALD Dear Isabelle, we are moving too fast for you, arent we? ISABELLE Your boots? REGINALD No boots. Any carriages? ISABELLE Yes, sir. No carriage. REGINALD Perfect. Make sure to tell Henri to watch as well. SABINE Thank you, Isabelle. ISABELLE If they are arrive on horseback? SABINE Your mother? REGINALD Impossible. SABINE To be safe-REGINALD If anyone arrives. ISABELLE No new manuscripts from Paris? SABINE I wont be expecting Luc to return until tomorrow at the earliest. ISABELLE Luc is coming back? SABINE If Jean-Baptiste finishes the new draft, I am sure Luc will ride here as quickly as he is able. ISABELLE I shall be on the lookout! REGINALD I am sure you will. Remember to tell Henri?


ISABELLE Right away. REGINALD Thank you. Isabelle exits. SABINE Be careful--! Once again Isabelle lets out a short shriek as she slips on the water. REGINALD Perhaps we should all just leave today on a long vacation. SABINE I cannot. And Isabelle left her cloth. REGINALD It might be the best way. SABINE I begin rehearsals soon. REGINALD Surely you can delay them. SABINE I would never do that. REGINALD A play is hardly worth your life. SABINE The theatre is my life. REGINALD But this is different. My grandmother and the Cardinal are in Paris. SABINE Let them try their best. What can she do to me now in the city? The church has tried before to close theatres and each time they have failed. The King, personally, keeps them open. REGINALD Your pride will be our downfall. SABINE And Phillippe? Will he leave? What about the Kings monthly lesson? * *


REGINALD It is next week. But surely-The door bursts open. Phillippe enters. PHILLIPPE Why in the hell is there water on the floor? SABINE Phillippe! REGINALD The mark of Isabelle. I swear that someone will die at her hands. SABINE What news from court? PHILLIPPE None of note. The King knows of the duel, inquired about your injuries, and laughed at the thought of you two with swords. SABINE Laughed? REGINALD Found it ridiculous? PHILLIPPE No, found it rather erotic. He asked me if you two had stripped to the waist. He wants to start a new form of entertainment. Naked female fencing. REGINALD Oh good lord. SABINE Not a bad idea. But no news of Claudette? PHILLIPPE No. No one seems to know where they are. They were last seen with the Cardinal but he was at court when the King sent me home. REGINALD Then he got what he wanted. SABINE Or nothing he wanted. PHILLIPPE No idea. Perhaps at next weeks lesson the King will inform me.


REGINALD I was advising Sabine that we should all leave France for at least a month. PHILLIPPE I cannot miss the Kings next lesson. SABINE If it involves naked ladies I might insist on assisting you. REGINALD You are both foolish and excessively obstinate! SABINE You were bestowed with title and station by the sheer act of birth. We must each work to achieve and maintain ours status. PHILLIPPE You may leave, my sweet. In fact, it might be best. If we are unable to defend ourselves we will need a sanctuary. REGINALD Please? PHILLIPPE I must not. SABINE And I will not. REGINALD You are both fools. The door bursts open again and it is Isabelle, out of breath. REGINALD (contd) Isabelle, the water! ISABELLE Carriage! SABINE We know. The maestro arrived. ISABELLE Hired coach... from the city! PHILLIPPE An expensive fare. SABINE Of course. * * *


REGINALD Who? SABINE Who else but Jean-Baptiste? He could not bear to wait until my arrival for news. CLAUDETTE You are sure it is not Aunt Mathilde? REGINALD My grandmother in a hired coach? Never. SABINE If it is Jean-Baptiste, send him in at once. ISABELLE Yes, maam. ALL THREE Water! ISABELLE I lost my cloth! SABINE Here it is. Step around it and clean it when you return with the guests. Isabelle exits. REGINALD Could you travel with him back to the city? It would be more safe. SABINE Husband, yours is the best idea yet. PHILLIPPE But you cannot be seen with Claudette, even in secret. Do not seek her out. SABINE Only once this is settled. The door bursts open again. It is Isabelle dragging a cautious JeanBaptiste. ISABELLE Here he is! Be careful! Please step around the water. JEAN-BAPTISTE This child is in a panic. What have you done to her? * * * * * * *


SABINE Isabelle, you can relax now. The danger has passed. REGINALD For the moment. ISABELLE No more boots? REGINALD Or carriages. PHILLIPPE We hope. ISABELLE Thank you, sir. JEAN-BAPTISTE You are all well. I am relieved. SABINE My dear, if only you knew what we have been through. JEAN-BAPTISTE I do. Is it safe? SABINE Of course. How did you hear of the situation? JEAN-BAPTISTE Bear with me. I have been approached by one of questionable intent who knows much you keep secret. REGINALD Who is it? JEAN-BAPTISTE You shall see soon enough. Sabine, are you feeling well? SABINE Yes. Why? JEAN-BAPTISTE You seem... not yourself. SABINE Nonsense. JEAN-BAPTISTE We shall speak further. It is time for you to confront your accuser. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Jean-Baptiste opens the door. A hooded, cloaked, and bearded man enters. It is Claudette in disguise. JEAN-BAPTISTE (contd) Come. There is no danger for you here. My friends, it began with a knock on my chamber door nearly two days ago. The figure lowers its hood with a gloved hand. REGINALD Do you know us, man? You dress in discarded finery and your grizzled beard means you are unwelcome in society. What lies do you spread about us? PHILLIPPE If you know with whom you speak, you know that we are well within our rights to draw our swords on you if you speak ill of the Kings relations. SABINE Turn and face me. I know you and you test my patience! How dare you present yourself in this manner! Your cloak has blood upon it! The blood of countless children, and I should tear that beard from your face for it hides a smiling countenance! Sabine rushes forward and grabs the figure by the lapels and plants an enormous kiss on its lips. Phillippe draws his sword. REGINALD Sabine! PHILLIPPE What in gods name?! JEAN-BAPTISTE You have cost me dearly, Sabine! SABINE Speak, devil! CLAUDETTE (Attempting a gruff, male voice) Lady, I am but a humble traveller! SABINE Now! And cast off Hieronimos cloak! Claudette removes her disguise.

* * * *

* * *


ISABELLE Madame Claudette! CLAUDETTE I apologize. I was able to depart from my aunt on the pretense of attending confession. I made my way to the safest place I could think of to hide. REGINALD And the last place your aunt would look. PHILLIPPE Jean-Baptiste, how can we thank you? Sabine and Claudette kiss. JEAN-BAPTISTE There is no need! The knowledge that I am trusted by you is a high honor. But boys, you are not kissing. Are you still in love or perhaps one of you is now available for me to pursue? REGINALD Still madly in love. PHILLIPPE One couple kissing is romantic. Two would be pornographic. JEAN-BAPTISTE An unfortunate belief I do not share. SABINE I am relieved that you provided her a disguise. How would it have looked to be harboring a beautiful young lady of the Court? JEAN-BAPTISTE The less the King must answer for my particular tastes, the more his toadies are willing to have me occupy the Royal Theatre. Why else did Armande and I marry? She certainly is unwilling to give up her Orleans, nor I his patronage. Although, I must say what he keeps under his royal robes is well worth the secrecy. CLAUDETTE You, with the Duke, himself? JEAN-BAPTISTE He does love my gift of tongues. But enough about me-- words I never thought I would hear myself say-SABINE Nor I.


JEAN-BAPTISTE Bite your tongue, woman. Claudettes told me everything except how you plan to proceed. SABINE I shall have to limp until opening night. JEAN-BAPTISTE A relief! I was afraid I might need to recast. SABINE You would never. PHILLIPPE We warn you, there might be some disturbances during your rehearsals. We fear that the lady in question might not have been convinced. REGINALD She might try to close your theatre. CLAUDETTE Or kill your star. JEAN-BAPTISTE Good! We could use the advertisement! Nothing sells like real life drama. REGINALD Only you could laugh at the machinations of my grandmother. JEAN-BAPTISTE News of the duel and the Kings glee is all over Paris. That is why I could not simply send Luc alone with your wife. ISABELLE Luc? JEAN-BAPTISTE Isabelle, of course, I should have known. He will be carrying my trunk to my chamber. Would you guide him? ISABELLE Yes, please! I mean, if that is what my lady wishes. REGINALD One moment, though. Have Henri prepare three more places for dinner. ISABELLE Yes, sir. Isabelle exits. *


REGINALD Has my grandmother been seen anywhere? JEAN-BAPTISTE Not that any of my spies could ascertain. Her carriage was nowhere to be seen. REGINALD She is not with the Cardinal? CLAUDETTE She argued with him when last I saw them. We signed a copy of her will leaving all but a small amount to me and he was furious. REGINALD I can well imagine. CLAUDETTE I feared for my life. He started to... smile at me, and I knew I was in danger. REGINALD What did you tell grandmother? CLAUDETTE I told her I feared and she said I was being foolish. But at dinner the Cardinal made mention of ugly rumors being spread about our... conflict. He said that I would be foolish to show my face in court ever again unless I sought the Lords forgiveness in holy confession... with him, personally. I saw my moment and feigned an obsequious shame and, as he was indisposed with Aunt Mathilde at that moment, I left to seek the Monsignor and confess, lest I insult the Cardinal by dining in his presence as so foul a sinner. SABINE He believed you? CLAUDETTE I wept with conviction. SABINE Good girl! CLAUDETTE But before I left I made sure to grab this from my aunts chambers. Claudette produces documents. REGINALD Her will? * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


CLAUDETTE Signed by me, and the previous version as well. The one that pleased the Cardinal so much. It was not until Jean-Baptiste took me in that I learned what was being told about us. SABINE Which is? JEAN-BAPTISTE Well those of the royal blood are both thrilled and disgusted. REGINALD As well the would. Claudette, who has never done anything of note, fought a duel. JEAN-BAPTISTE And those of the lesser classes-SABINE My public! JEAN-BAPTISTE --Love the drama. Of course, once I knew the truth I went forth to correct some of the more ridiculous claims. CLAUDETTE Ive done things of note. SABINE Of course you have, my sweet. But this is the first time you have been noticed for anything other than being pretty. REGINALD What did you tell them? JEAN-BAPTISTE I wove a tale of intrigue worthy of none but myself. A widowed queen forcing a noble princess and a stout-hearted commoner to face each other in mortal combat for her own sadistic amusement. REGINALD And? JEAN-BAPTISTE The fact that it was your grandmother caused no end of amusement. Particularly my impersonation of her. By the time I entered my fourth public house I was already hearing my corrections from other mouths. PHILLIPPE That might not be entirely helpful.

* * * *


REGINALD It might make this worse. CLAUDETTE We will need wine. A lot of wine. Unless...? SABINE Unless what? CLAUDETTE What if we all left France until this calms down? SABINE No. PHILLIPPE Definitely not. JEAN-BAPTISTE I told you. CLAUDETTE Wine, then. REGINALD In the garden. We shall enjoy the remnants of the afternoon and drink until the moon is high above us. JEAN-BAPTISTE I am very relieved to know that I still have my darling Sabine. My fears were palpable. SABINE You are a darling liar. JEAN-BAPTISTE I speak gospel truth. Antoinette can barely inspire a titter of applause, imagine her playing Colombina? SABINE The horror, the horror. Why do you keep her in the company? JEAN-BAPTISTE She is an apt ingnue, doe eyed and vapid-SABINE With enormous breasts. JEAN-BAPTISTE That love to leap forth when she scampers across the stage. Not to my taste, but the soldiers adore her. REGINALD You could replace her with Claudette.


CLAUDETTE I would never! JEAN-BAPTISTE Just as well, my dear. CLAUDETTE You would not want me? JEAN-BAPTISTE What Sabine does takes years of training. REGINALD And you would never remember your words. CLAUDETTE I beg your pardon! REGINALD You never could learn poems or songs. Even in mass you fake your way through. CLAUDETTE How can you be so mean to me? PHILLIPPE Claudette, he is only teasing you. REGINALD I am not. Remember your wedding ceremony? Sabine? SABINE Reginald, enough. CLAUDETTE Thank you. SABINE You know that she has far more important things to remember than poetry or hymns. The names of courtiers and the designers of gowns for a start. CLAUDETTE You all treat me like I am some helpless, mindless servant, but I am an intelligent woman! Just because I have never had a need to memorize the plays of Racine does not mean I could not! I am tired of you looking at me like I am only useful for my good looks and ability to dance. Stop trying to paint me as an imbecile. All my life I have done my best to be the best niece I could. I attended the right parties. I wore the best gowns. I learned every dance that came into fashion. Everything that was expected of a girl of my station. And for what? To be overlooked and ignored by everyone? Because I am just pretty! (MORE) * *

96. CLAUDETTE (cont'd) Well I will have you know that I am more than just a pretty face with a waist that lords drool over! I am beautiful! And more than that I am a grown woman, not some simpering child. And I am of royal blood. The divine right of kings flows through me! I could be Queen if the right line of people should die or I had married to my advantage, but instead I fell in love! How dare you all dismiss me like I am nothing more than a... pretty girl!

SABINE If you had spoken with that force and passion all your life no one would ever have doubted what your true spirit is like. REGINALD You might have earned the grudging respect and animosity of your Aunt, however. Yet you make your parents proud to be so strong. PHILLIPPE I think we are the only ones with whom you have ever shared your true self. SABINE And I am sorry if I ever neglect to thank you for that. Sabine kisses Claudette. JEAN-BAPTISTE A speech like that was meant for the stage. PHILLIPPE I am honored to have you as my wife. You know the King finds you charming and compliments me on you at every chance he gets. The door opens slowly and Luc enters. LUC Monsieur? REGINALD Who is that sneaking around my home like a cutpurse? LUC It is I, Luc. I am sorry, I was trying to find Isabelle to say hello and thought-REGINALD Luc, the love poet and great seducer in person? LUC Sir?


REGINALD Such nerve to appear in my presence! The man who has wrecked our best serving girl and caused her to be sent home in shame. LUC Isabelle? What happened? SABINE As if you weren't the very cause of her troubles. You poured the honey of your poets charms in her ear and lured her to your chamber! REGINALD And what happened there is unfit to be spoken aloud in the present company! She has been sent from the household in shame, to bear her bastard child in secret! LUC I swear, we never even kissed! She led be to the my chamber and drew my bath, but left the room before I disrobed! I didn't see her again until I left my chamber hours later! I swear upon my mothers grave! REGINALD Swear! SABINE Swear upon your very soul! ALL FOUR Swear! LUC Please, I swear upon the holy bible and all the relics on display in Paris! My lord, please tell them that I would never compromise the young ladys honor! I beg you! JEAN-BAPTISTE My boy, you really must learn to relax. Look into their eyes. LUC They are all laughing. SABINE Isabelle told us how honorable you were. In fact, I am surprised she did not tackle you as you carried in your masters trunk today. We assumed that she would have run there to find you. LUC Henri was at the door and took me himself. I hurried back in hopes of catching sight of her. * * * *


JEAN-BAPTISTE Ah, young love. So quaint and innocent I think I shall throw up. CLAUDETTE You hypocrite. Its just that kind of love that sells your plays. JEAN-BAPTISTE That and Antoinette's breasts. SABINE Ahem. JEAN-BAPTISTE But nothing draws the crowds like Sabines immaculate theatricality. SABINE Thank you. REGINALD Enough of this idle talk. We should make our way to the garden. Wine awaits us. PHILLIPPE A more perfect plan I cannot conceive. JEAN-BAPTISTE Gentlemen, will you guide me arm in arm in arm? I am an old man and am in need of your youthful strength to get me up and keep me up. PHILLIPPE Are you still speaking of walking to the garden? JEAN-BAPTISTE Perhaps that, too. LUC Master, I can help you-JEAN-BAPTISTE Nonsense. I refrain from touching you every day of the week. Besides, you must wait here for your Isabelle. SABINE Very true. She is sure to be looking for you. LUC I shall not budge from this room until I have seen her.


PHILLIPPE You have brought some verses of love to read her, have you not? LUC Even better. I have finished my play! SABINE Have you a title yet? You should always have a good title. LUC Not yet, but there is now romance and intrigue aplenty. SABINE And still a leading role for me? LUC Of course. SABINE And who shall I play? LUC You shall play yourself, of course. SABINE Myself? An intriguing prospect for any actress. I cannot wait until I can read it in its entirety. LUC I cannot wait to show you. REGINALD Wine, wine, wine! PHILLIPPE Come, to the gardens. All but Luc exit. Luc tries to determine where will be the best place for Isabelle to see him when she enters. LUC My most immaculate Isabelle, my radiant star, Whose glory streams down from Heaven afar, Who shines from high above the worlds vast oceans, And guides all ships forth towards their fortunes, Yet when each barks coffers have filled full with treasure She calls them home again to home and hearth and pleasure. -I have to write that down! He crosses to the writing desk which is not easily visible from the hall door.


He pulls out his paper, quill, and inkwell and begins scribbling on his manuscript. Behind him Isabelle enters with two of Mathildes footmen, Theobald and Jules. She is obviously terrified of the men, with good reason. LUC (contd) My most glorious Isabelle... Heaven afar-- afar? Afar, good. Who shines... oceans... ISABELLE They were here a moment ago, but they must have gone elsewhere. THEOBALD No need to hurry. Right, Jules? JULES But the Madame told us-THEOBALD Jules? JULES No. THEOBALD Perhaps you could entertain us until they return? ISABELLE I should go find them. LUC Full with treasure... ISABELLE Luc! LUC Hearth and pleasure. Isabelle! ISABELLE You are in here! LUC I am. I have just written a poem for you. My most radiant Isabelle, my immaculate star-- ISABELLE I am sure it is beautiful, but I must find my master. They have a letter to deliver. *


LUC They went to the garden. JULES Which way is that? LUC Just outside those doors. I can take you-THEOBALD No. Jules, deliver the letter. I will wait here with Isabelle. ISABELLE And Luc. JULES Why dont you go deliver this--? THEOBALD I am sleepy from our nights travels. I wish to rest my eyes here. JULES Very well. Jules exits to the garden and Theobald takes a seat. LUC Well. ISABELLE Well. THEOBALD Well. LUC It is wonderful to see you again. ISABELLE I have thought about you. LUC I have too. I wrote you something. ISABELLE A poem? LUC Yes, and finished my play! Or, the first draft. I haven't heard it read yet, but it makes me happy to put you on the page. It is as if you are speaking to me as I sit and write. * *


ISABELLE That would make me happy. LUC And I, too. Theobald groans softly. They look over at him. He rolls his eyes, yawns, and closes his eyes. ISABELLE Will you read it to me? LUC No. ISABELLE No? LUC It is far too long, but I can tell you the story. ISABELLE Please! LUC It opens with a beautiful young serving girl cleaning a wellappointed room in a large manor-house. She whistles a happy tune as she dusts, and then she begins to play act as if she was at a very fancy ball. A handsome young lord has asked her to dance and she modestly accepts his offer and begins to dance around the room as if her duster were her young lord. ISABELLE I would never be so frivolous. LUC I knew as much, but I wanted to show the audience how romantic and imaginative your character is so that they would immediately fall in love with you. ISABELLE Will it work? LUC Who could resist? ISABELLE Go on. LUC The serving girl is always the hero. So you, I mean she, will find out that her mistress is in some kind of trouble and devise a brilliant plan to save her. * *


ISABELLE Oh no, what kind of trouble? LUC That was difficult. I didn't know what to write, and then I had an idea! ISABELLE What idea? LUC Well... Is he asleep? He looks over at Theobald and gestures her to be quiet. LUC (contd) Excuse me, would you like some refreshment until your fellow returns? There is no response from Theobald. ISABELLE It is also customary for us to provide a meal to any messengers who come to call. It would be my pleasure to fetch you something. Theobald begins to lightly snore. They continue to speak in a near whisper. LUC Good. So, I had a lovely heroine, and a young artist who pines for her, and in the end would win her heart. ISABELLE Yes? LUC But beyond that... nothing. ISABELLE Is that not enough? LUC In real life, more than enough, but for the stage one must have intrigue and suspense. ISABELLE Fascinating. LUC And then I had a vision. What is the great suspicion of households on the stage? Cuckoldry. But everyone writes about that. He sleeps with her, she sleeps with him. (MORE) *

104. LUC (cont'd) Even the English have worn that our with overuse. But what if I did something different?

ISABELLE You are brilliant. LUC That has yet to be seen. My master might think it too farfetched, but I started with the idea that there were two couples having affairs with each other. Interesting, but still not completely original, however here is my twist: the women and the men... are in love with each other. ISABELLE Other what? LUC The men love the men and the women love the women! ISABELLE Oh, no! LUC I know it is scandalous, but imagine the intrigue. Imagine the suspense! ISABELLE You cannot write about that! LUC Why not? It has never been done that way. Two women in love, two men enraptured. There is no end to the possibilities. They hide it from their families, they hide it from the church, even the King would disapprove, but to save them all the servant convinces her mistress-- and here is where it goes back to the traditional comic form-- to dress in boys clothing and seduce the matriarch. ISABELLE I forbid you to keep writing! LUC Have I offended you? ISABELLE Of course not, but I am sworn to secrecy! Tell me, what did I say that revealed the truth? You have to tell me. Somehow I betrayed their trust and I will have to be dealt with-LUC What are you talking about? ISABELLE Tell me! * *

* * * *


LUC Tell you what? ISABELLE How you knew. LUC I know nothing. ISABELLE Nonsense! I must have slipped. It was the brandy! Damned Devils draught! Somehow I told you about my mistress and Madame Claudette, or the master and his maestro. There can be no other way. Theobalds eyes pop open. He has been awake this whole time. LUC What do you mean? You mean that they are...? She nods. LUC (contd) And the other two, as well? She nods. LUC (contd) I have written an inadvertent truth. ISABELLE No one must know about this! Theobald closes his eyes again. Luc and Isabelle look at him. He is lightly snoring again. LUC Your secret is safe. I shall burn these pages. ISABELLE You must. LUC For you, anything. He takes her in his arms. ISABELLE I was so scared. * * *


LUC The danger is passed. I will protect you. I will take your secret to the grave. ISABELLE Thank you. Isabelle and Luc kiss. The garden doors slam open and Reginald returns followed by Jules. Theobald stands. REGINALD I will make this simple for you to remember. My wife is recovering from her terrible wound. You did not just see her dancing in the garden. She was ordered by the surgeon himself to take a walk in the garden every afternoon. She will leave this house as soon as she is safe to travel. Here is some gold to keep to yourself anything else you might have seen. Are we clear? Reginald hands him some coins. JULES You said something about a surgeon? Reginald hands over more coins. REGINALD Very well, here is more gold. Tell my grandmother that you saw her walk with difficulty, around the garden and that we await word from her surgeon when she will be able to travel. Yes? JULES My partner might have to remind me-Reginald throws him the remaining coins in their purse. REGINALD Here take the last of this! But you get no more! Now go, and remember what Ive told you! Isabelle, show them out! Reginald exits to the garden. Jules approaches Theobald and offers him a coin or two. Theobald whistles a brief phrase, obviously a code, to Jules. Jules whistles back a response. THEOBALD Girl, take us to our horses.

* *

* * * *

* *

* *


LUC The front doors are straight down the hall. THEOBALD Your master said-ISABELLE He did order me to escort them out. LUC I will accompany you. Theobald steps between Luc and Isabelle. THEOBALD She will be safe with us. You can stay. LUC I will go with her nonetheless. THEOBALD You are not welcome to join. LUC Welcome or not I will not-Theobald punches Luc. Before Isabelle can scream Jules puts a gag in her mouth and binds her hands. THEOBALD Keep your mouth shut, girl. And you too, boy. LUC Let her go! THEOBALD Soon. We just have to ask her some questions. Jules lifts Isabelle over his shoulder. LUC Leave her alone! THEOBALD Open your mouth one more time and I hurt her. LUC You wouldnt. THEOBALD Are you willing to try? *


Theobald draws his dagger. LUC Please be careful. THEOBALD Then stay where you are. Theobald sheathes his dagger again. Jules carries Isabelle towards the exit. Luc steps towards them but Theobald stops him. THEOBALD (contd) You are so slight. LUC But my mind is huge! Luc feints to one side and Theobald tries to grab him but misses as Luc quickly steps in the opposite direction and slips past him. Luc charges at Jules, who swings Isabelles legs at Luc, stopping him. Theo grabs Luc. LUC (contd) Where are you taking her? Get back here! Theobald pushes Luc across the room breaking a vase. LUC (contd) Isabelle! Luc charges again. Theobald punches Luc hard. Luc falls back, dazed. THEOBALD I told you. LUC You son of a-Theobald hits him again. THEOBALD Get her to the carriage. Jules exits, carrying Isabelle. LUC Isabelle, Ill save you! * * * * * *


THEOBALD Shut up! Luc charges towards the door and Theobald, in a flash, draws his dagger and stabs Luc. Luc is thrown back. THEOBALD (contd) Do you want another kiss? Luc sinks limply to the floor. LUC Isabelle? THEOBALD Is ours now. Go to sleep. Luc finally loses consciousness. Theobald wipes his dagger on Lucs clothes, grabs Lucs manuscript, and exits. As soon as he is gone Luc starts moving and regains his feet unsteadily. LUC Im not dead yet, you son of a whore. Luc starts to follow Isabelle but stops. LUC (contd) No. Think, Luc. In a tragedy the hero goes it alone and fails with honor but in a comedy he goes for help and they all live to be married. Luc turns and heads towards the garden door. LUC (contd) Master! Madame Sabine! Luc exits. End of scene. *


ACT II II-2: THE SALON, AN HOUR LATER Sabine and Jean-Baptiste are alone in the salon. Sabine is pacing and JeanBaptiste has collapsed in a chair. There is a long silence. JEAN-BAPTISTE This is unthinkable. SABINE Luc shall not die. Phillippe will take care of him until the doctor arrives. JEAN-BAPTISTE I have never seen so much blood in my life. SABINE He will be fine. JEAN-BAPTISTE He will not be fine! I am not some idiot who can be placated with nonsense! He is bleeding to death! SABINE My dear-JEAN-BAPTISTE This is your fault! SABINE My fault? JEAN-BAPTISTE All of you! I should have known your secrets would end up like this! SABINE You cannot be serious! JEAN-BAPTISTE How much more serious can this be?! Young Luc is dead and its because of you! SABINE He is not dead and Phillippe is an excellent physician. He has treated wounds far worse. JEAN-BAPTISTE Do not speak to me.


SABINE Besides, they have taken Isabelle, too. So you are not the only one suffering here. JEAN-BAPTISTE Suffering? You have not suffered anything since you married into this house. Claudette enters from the garden door. SABINE Where is the doctor? JEAN-BAPTISTE How is Luc? Is he alive? CLAUDETTE Henri has not returned with the doctor yet and Luc is weak but still speaks. JEAN-BAPTISTE I must see him. CLAUDETTE No. You must not. Phillippe has ordered us to stay away until Lucs wounds have been sewn. Any word from Reginald? JEAN-BAPTISTE Then he will survive? CLAUDETTE Phillippe is confident. SABINE He has not returned. JEAN-BAPTISTE Confident. Lies upon lies. CLAUDETTE I beg your pardon? JEAN-BAPTISTE You toy with the truth and the innocent ones get the punishment. CLAUDETTE This is hardly-SABINE He blames us.


CLAUDETTE How in the name of hell are we to blame for this? My aunt hires thugs from the streets of Paris to be her footmen and we are responsible for their actions? You go too far old man! JEAN-BAPTISTE I have barely begun to speak. CLAUDETTE And we will have her footmen thrown in the Bastille. JEAN-BAPTISTE If he dies-SABINE He wont. CLAUDETTE If anyone can keep him alive, its my husband. JEAN-BAPTISTE But if he dies, dont ever expect forgiveness. Phillippe enters from the garden door. CLAUDETTE Phillippe? Phillippe shakes his head. PHILLIPPE I tried to stop the bleeding, but... could not. JEAN-BAPTISTE No. CLAUDETTE But the doctor? PHILLIPPE I have no idea. There was so much blood. Im sorry, JeanBaptiste. Reginald? SABINE No word yet. CLAUDETTE Reginald must be with her by now. SABINE Unless she has had him thrown in the Bastille. PHILLIPPE What?


SABINE Family tradition. JEAN-BAPTISTE And what good will that do? Can anyone bring my Luc back? No! Sabine approaches Jean-Baptiste, but he waves her away. SABINE My sweet-JEAN-BAPTISTE No! I love you all, but this is too much. SABINE I understand. JEAN-BAPTISTE Do you? CLAUDETTE I dont. PHILLIPPE Claudette. CLAUDETTE How did it come to this? PHILLIPPE We humiliated her. SABINE But she knows nothing. PHILLIPPE She knows that we have lied about something. You should be dead and you were dancing. You should be celebrating and you are not. We thought her a fool and she is not. SABINE What do we do now? JEAN-BAPTISTE Now you ask? Now! After the blood has been spilled! After one child is killed and another taken! Now you ask! CLAUDETTE We tried our best!


JEAN-BAPTISTE Your best was amateur! Look at yourself, Sabine. You have always thought you were smarter than everyone else in the room. Still feel that way? You washed Lucs blood off your hands but there's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. CLAUDETTE Stop it. JEAN-BAPTISTE And you, the pretty princess! The red will never quite wash out. Multitudinous seas incarnadine. CLAUDETTE Enough! I will not be spoken to in that tone! You might be the Kings pet playwright but you are still no better than a common bawd. You think you would have given us better advice? Ive seen your plays and not a one is believable in real life! They are populated by fools in fine clothing and, if it were not for the Kings protection, you would have been found dead in some back alley for the way you make fun of the aristocracy! JEAN-BAPTISTE I write the truth! CLAUDETTE In a fools mind all men are fools! And now you mourn the loss of the pretty boy you flaunt at parties. JEAN-BAPTISTE How dare you-CLAUDETTE Now you dislike the truth? SABINE Enough! PHILLIPPE We must stay calm. The fact is, we saw her new footmen at the duel, Sabine, but we never considered them a threat. We thought that our four brains could out think her one, Monsieur, but we were wrong. What must we do now to save Isabelle? JEAN-BAPTISTE She has the quill in her hand, my poor Phillippe, not I. PHILLIPPE Then we wait and respond to her next move. *


The door opens and Reginald enters. He is bloodied from having been beaten roughly. CLAUDETTE Cousin! PHILLIPPE What happened? REGINALD I had almost caught up to their carriage when it stopped. I could hear Isabelle within. I would have gotten to her but I have not your skills with a rapier. They disarmed me and knocked me to the ground and held me there. SABINE And? REGINALD Grandmother was in the carriage with Isabelle. SABINE What did she say? REGINALD When I tried to yell to her, one of her apes pommeled me in the back of the head. The rest is hazy at best. How long have I been away? SABINE An hour, perhaps more. PHILLIPPE Your head is bleeding. Where the hell is the doctor?! REGINALD To hell with my wounds! How is Luc? PHILLIPPE He is beyond helping. REGINALD Damn it! This is all my fault! I should have seen this! I should have known! PHILLIPPE But your grandmother-REGINALD She stood over me and ordered two of her men to ensure I couldnt follow her carriage. She told them they could beat me, but not kill me. * * *

* *


CLAUDETTE Her own grandson. REGINALD A few dozen blows and I was rolled into the ditch. I have no idea in which direction they rode. She was not at her home, so I rode back here. JEAN-BAPTISTE At least Isabelle is still alive. REGINALD Jean-Baptiste, there are no words. I am so sorry-JEAN-BAPTISTE The time for anger and mourning will come. We must find a way to save the girl. PHILLIPPE I will fetch my things. REGINALD No. First, I need wine. Fetch me that. This pain is a good reminder that Im an idiot. PHILLIPPE Very well. Phillippe exits. JEAN-BAPTISTE Is there a sheriff we could send for? CLAUDETTE He answers to her. SABINE Where has she taken Isabelle? JEAN-BAPTISTE She doesnt need to go anywhere. An interrogation can be most effective in her carriage. CLAUDETTE A year ago, I would never have imagined Aunt Mathilde hurting anyone. REGINALD That knife should have been in my chest, not Lucs. JEAN-BAPTISTE He was being gallant, trying to save his love. * *


CLAUDETTE There must be something we can do! SABINE A letter to the King? CLAUDETTE Too slow to help Isabelle. SABINE True, but we need to get a step ahead of that woman. She isnt acting alone in this. JEAN-BAPTISTE King takes Bishop? SABINE Precisely. We warn the King about the Cardinal. Jean-Baptiste goes to a table with writing materials and begins the letter. JEAN-BAPTISTE A letter from me will reach him directly, but there is little time. REGINALD What do we tell him? SABINE The truth. About everything. CLAUDETTE Everything? REGINALD Certainly not! SABINE We owe it to Luc. He was murdered for our secrets. JEAN-BAPTISTE The catalog of your lies would require hours. A simple warning must suffice. REGINALD Can we prevent him from meeting with the Cardinal? CLAUDETTE We beg an audience with him at his earliest convenience. REGINALD Perfect. Henri hasnt returned. Send the stable boy.

* * * *

* * * *


JEAN-BAPTISTE Done! The King shall have my letter with his morning meal. Jean-Baptiste exits towards the garden. SABINE And now we wait? CLAUDETTE Isabelle must be terrified. REGINALD As long as she does not try anything stupid she should be safe. Where is that damned wine? The doors open and Phillippe stands there holding wine bottles. REGINALD (contd) Impeccable timing, my love. We are in need of sustenance. From behind Phillippe, Jules enters, revealing that he has Phillippe at swords point. PHILLIPPE We have unexpected company. REGINALD What have you done with Isabelle? SABINE Which of you killed Luc? Mathilde enters with two other footman, Andre and Noel. Noel exits to the garden. MATHILDE The girl is being watched over. I should be more worried about your own lives than those of mere servants. SABINE You have no right to do this-MATHILDE And you have no right to speak to those far above your station! Keep her quiet! Andre draws his sword. Jules uses his to push Sabine back. REGINALD Grandmother, there is no need for this.


MATHILDE There is. I told you both what must be done, and neither of you have the mettle to put your family first. I imagined it to be a sample matter of your generation and its inability to do anything of significance, but earlier this evening I was given this. She throws Lucs manuscript onto the floor at their feet. MATHILDE (contd) And I am told that it contains secrets of this family which must be forever silenced. REGINALD What is on those pages? MATHILDE It seems your young Isabelle told the boy everything she knows about this household. My grandson consorts with the Kings pet and my pretty, empty-headed niece with the Whore of the Paris Stage. Vile enough behind closed doors, but you flaunt your sins before your servants, and worse, allow it to be written for the stage! REGINALD It is a fabrication. A young boy creating a false world with false lovers. MATHILDE The girl, herself, has confirmed this before my very eyes. CLAUDETTE There is an explanation-MATHILDE It matters not. You have made a mockery of me and all that I hold dear. Did you think I would not learn the truth of your duel? Did you think to hide your relations from me forever? You are more foolish and indelicate than even your parents were. This family has had a long history at the right hand of the throne and I will not have us become an object of derision. This ends tonight, everything! This marriage to the harlot, your clandestine escapades, and your insulting attempts to deceive me. SABINE There is no need for this. MATHILDE Did I grant you permission to speak? SABINE This is my house--


MATHILDE Paid for with my money! Do not presume to speak again. SABINE You must hear me-MATHILDE Jules. Jules steps forward and slaps Sabine, knocking her back. Reginald leaps to her defence. REGINALD You son of a--! Jules turns to face Reginald but before Reginald can deliver his first punch, Jules has hit him at least twice, dropping him to the floor. MATHILDE The next time he tries something like that, use your dagger. Like Theobald did with the boy. CLAUDETTE Aunt Mathilde? MATHILDE Be quiet, you useless, brainless child. I will tell you all exactly how the rest of this night will go, and if you choose to defy me in the slightest way, Jules and his fellows have authority to end your lives. Is that understood? Is that understood? CLAUDETTE Yes. MATHILDE What? CLAUDETTE Yes, Aunt Mathilde. MATHILDE Very good. As for you, sword boy, you are considering now how to beg help from the King. I have already taken care of that. The Cardinal is dining at the palace tomorrow evening and will reveal exactly how you have behaved in this house and beneath his very eyes. The King will not dare stand against the church when the Cardinal publicly denounces your luxurious lifestyle and immoral behaviors.


PHILLIPPE I am as an open book to you. MATHILDE I have dealt with far more devious people in my years as matriarch of this family. You might have risen to your status, but you shall never be equal to it. Skill with a sword does not make the blood royal. REGINALD Your issue is between Sabine and myself. MATHILDE Dont be naive. You are the least of my concerns. But now that you have regained your feet, Jules, bind their hands and bring them to my carriage. While Andre keeps his sword at the ready, Jules bind the wrists of Reginald, Sabine, and Claudette. Mathilde selects two rapiers from the wall. REGINALD Where are you taking us? MATHILDE You shall be joining your moppet in the forest. The place where you tried to trick me shall be the place of your undoing. CLAUDETTE Aunt Mathilde, please listen to reason-MATHILDE Stop their mouths if they speak! I am old, child, but my mind is sharp and I am very rich. What I cannot do myself I can hire others to do for me. I have found that these men are more than willing to get their hands dirty for a price. The Cardinal was very helpful in that regard. For their assistance these men will spend the rest of their lives dressed in fine array. The Cardinal shall be quite pleased to have his share restored, and that to the Church, of course. And you... shall pay the price for your folly. Noel enters from the garden with JeanBaptiste, bound and gagged. MATHILDE (contd) Was he the only one? NOEL Yes, maam.


MATHILDE What was he doing out there? CLAUDETTE I do not know. SABINE Again, Jean-Baptiste? MATHILDE I beg your pardon? SABINE The stable boy. MATHILDE You disgust me. Niece, where are Henri and the stable boy? CLAUDETTE Henri went to Paris for his daughters birthday. He brought the boy with him. MATHILDE And why would he do that? CLAUDETTE A budding romance, I believe. MATHILDE The entire household is corrupt. Very well. Take them to the carriage. Mathilde picks up Luc's manuscript and exits. The footmen roughly push the ladies and Jean-Baptiste out. Reginald tries to kick at his captor, who roughly beats him down and drags him out of the room. Phillippe is guided out last by his captor. End of scene 5

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


ACT II II-3: THE WOODS, MINUTES LATER The brigands are again there sorting what they have stolen. LECHEVRE Tonight was not so good. GASCOYNE Not good at all. LECHEVRE Only two travellers. GASCOYNE Too few. LECHEVRE We should have left when we said we would. If he returns? GASCOYNE Go where? LECHEVRE Anywhere but Paris. GASCOYNE New place, new people. LECHEVRE How much do we have? GASCOYNE Fifty. LECHEVRE Fifty? GASCOYNE Fifty. Tonight. LECHEVRE That is not good. GASCOYNE Not good at all. LECHEVRE Time to move on. GASCOYNE How much do we have in all? * * * * * *


LECHEVRE Five hundred in the tree. And the jewelry. [GASCOYNE Not bad. LECHEVRE But not good. GASCOYNE True. LECHEVRE Perhaps you are right. We should leave.] GASCOYNE No one travels this road anymore. LECHEVRE Too many robbers. GASCOYNE Two. LECHEVRE Is too many for some. GASCOYNE Its almost dawn. LECHEVRE Lets give it until the sun rises and then I shall buy you breakfast. GASCOYNE Whats that? LECHEVRE Most important meal of the day. GASCOYNE Horses? LECHEVRE No. Bacon or sausage, mostly. Gascoyne gets up and looks offstage. GASCOYNE I heard... LECHEVRE Where? * * *


GASCOYNE Carriage from the west. LECHEVRE A carriage? We could end on a high note. GASCOYNE (Whispers) Its stopping. Youre not going to like this. LECHEVRE (Whispers) Why? GASCOYNE (Whispers) Them again. LECHEVRE (Whispers) The nobles? Another duel? GASCOYNE (Whispers) No, their footmen. THEOBALD (Off) Keep her quiet. Ill pick a spot. LECHEVRE (Whispers) Theobald? Lets get out of here. GASCOYNE (Whispers) Too late, hes coming. Hide. The brigands hide in the bushes as Theobald enters, still in his bloodied uniform, carrying two shovels. THEOBALD Come out. (Pause) You watched the duel a few days ago and I know you are still here. This place reeks of failure. (Pause) Get out here now or I will beat you to death with these shovels. The brigands emerge from the bushes. LECHEVRE Theobald, we wondered if that had been you. THEOBALD So this is where you ran away to. GASCOYNE We didnt run away. We chose new pastures. LECHEVRE But we were just leaving though. * * *


THEOBALD Take these. GASCOYNE We dont need shovels, but thank you. THEOBALD Take these now. Or I will kill you and take the money you have hidden. They take the shovels. Theobald is searching beyond the surrounding bushes. GASCOYNE What are these for? LECHEVRE Digging? GASCOYNE I know that much. LECHEVRE You asked. GASCOYNE I was asking him. LECHEVRE What are the shovels for? THEOBALD Digging. Take them over there and start digging a hole. GASCOYNE How large? THEOBALD Just keep digging until I tell you to stop. LECHEVRE Wide and shallow or narrow and deep? THEOBALD Both. At least six feet. GASCOYNE Planning a funeral? Anyone we know? THEOBALD At least two people. You might be the guests of honor.


GASCOYNE Well start right away. Come on, LeChevre. LECHEVRE Why do you do that? Why do you treat us like that? What have we ever done to you? We even left Paris to give you a wide berth. GASCOYNE Shut up. LECHEVRE No. We were comfortable. Had our crowd, our usual routes, then he and his crew show up and take over. GASCOYNE He doesnt mean that. Hell kill you. LECHEVRE Hes going to kill us anyways. He does whatever he wants, right? THEOBALD Right. LECHEVRE And if he kills us now hell have to dig the grave himself. GASCOYNE He could just leave us where we fall. LECHEVRE No. He brought the shovels. This grave is part of the plan. It was never meant for us. Right? THEOBALD Right again. LECHEVRE So the least you could do is answer me. THEOBALD You are weak. You scare too easily. And you go to the theatre. GASCOYNE You have your answer. Lets dig. LECHEVRE Everyone goes to the theatre. Ive seen you there. THEOBALD I dont watch the plays! You turned in one of my men.


LECHEVRE He picked the pocket of the playwright! Thats just not done. THEOBALD It was a hundred gold Louis. LECHEVRE The man has a family and it was the first hed been paid in weeks. THEOBALD There are no rules. Rob, beat, threaten, rob, kill, whatever it takes to get what you want. GASCOYNE You said rob twice. A whistle is heard offstage. THEOBALD Dig. LECHEVRE If we do dig the pit, we are even. Tabula rasa. THEOBALD Ill never see your faces again. GASCOYNE Agreed. Come on. We can dig it. LECHEVRE Dig it? GASCOYNE The hole. The sounds of another carriage arriving. THEOBALD They are coming. Go now or die now. GASCOYNE We go, we go. Look how we go. Lechevre and Gascoyne exit. The sounds of digging begins. MATHILDE (Off) Take them to the clearing. * *


Jules and Noel enter, pushing Sabine, Claudette, Phillippe, and Reginald into the clearing. The ladies are gagged and Reginald has obviously been beaten again. He has been hurt rather badly. Only Phillippe is unchanged. His wrists are bound, but he is not gagged. REGINALD Where is Isabelle? THEOBALD In the carriage. PHILLIPPE She is unharmed? THEOBALD She lives. For the moment. PHILLIPPE May I see her, to confirm? MATHILDE Bring her, but keep her subdued. And bring the others, as well. They will be best watched together. Theobald exits. MATHILDE (contd) Now, what was the proper placement? I believe my niece was here, and the whore was standing over there. The footmen move the players where she orders them to be put. PHILLIPPE What are they digging? MATHILDE One very large hole. PHILLIPPE For? MATHILDE Garbage. Mathilde drops Lucs manuscript to the ground. Theobald enters pulling or carrying Isabelle while the Andre enters pushing Jean-Baptiste. Both captives are bound and gagged but only Isabelle is blindfolded.


She has been roughed up in the course of her interrogation. PHILLIPPE Isabelle are you all right? Isabelle nods and tries to speak through her gag. MATHILDE Be quiet child, if you know what will keep you safe. REGINALD Like Luc? Isabelle tries to call out for Luc. At a look from Mathilde, Jules again punches Reginald. MATHILDE He is not here, girl. Now be quiet! You, pin her down until she is quiet. And you, do not get any dramatic fancies. Jean-Baptiste kneels on the ground, offering no resistance. Theobald pins Isabelle to the ground with one knee. Eventually she subsides. MATHILDE (contd) Do not untie any of them, or remove their gags. I rather enjoy the silence. Now the maestro shall stand here, and my useless grandson shall stand over there. I shall stand here beside the insipid serving girl to make sure that no one tries to do anything untoward. You, get her on her feet and keep your dagger at the ready. Theobald hauls Isabelle to her feet and holds her at dagger point. MATHILDE (contd) Jules? JULES Yes? MATHILDE I beg your pardon? JULES Yes, maam. MATHILDE Very good. Put a sword in each of the ladies hands.


He does so. MATHILDE (contd) Now, you will have the duel that I demanded. The ladies, still gagged, protest. MATHILDE (contd) You do not need your hands unbound. Neither of you has any advantage. Now fight! Or Isabelle will bleed. Isabelle struggles and screams, but the knife point quiets her. The ladies begin a tentative, awkward, and unintentioned fight. MATHILDE (contd) I want to see one of you die. If I don't see some attempt at real combat I shall order Theobald to begin cutting pieces off our dear little wench until I do. The ladies start attacking little more fervor. MATHILDE (contd) Stop! Jules, give me your knife. He does so. She walks up to Claudette, cuts the bindings on her wrists, and steps back. MATHILDE (contd) Again. Claudette removes her gag. CLAUDETTE Aunt Mathilde, I cannot! MATHILDE Start with Isabelles hair. Theobald takes his knife and cuts off a large chunk of Isabelles hair. CLAUDETTE You are a monster! MATHILDE And you are a whore. Now kill her. CLAUDETTE Sabine, I am sorry.


MATHILDE I said kill her! Claudette hesitates, but Sabine lunges at her, which begins a furious phrase ending with a thrust from Claudette which Sabine entraps and frees her own hands. She immediately rips off her gag. SABINE You old bitch, I will run you through! MATHILDE Your maid will die! You are like some stray bitch defending its kittens. Make one move towards me I shall be the only one to leave this forest alive. Besides my footmen, of course, after they have filled the hole. Draw your swords Watch this one carefully. The footmen, except Theobald, draw their swords. SABINE You killed Luc! Why? Isabelle starts screaming. MATHILDE Make her stop! Theobald hits Isabelle, stunning her. She slumps to the ground. MATHILDE (contd) Now. Begin again. One of you them die. If it is the whore, dump the body in the pit and leave the rest here. If it is the my niece... Kill everyone and leave no evidence. THEOBALD Yes, maam. MATHILDE Begin. The ladies circle each other, probing each others defenses. SABINE You have to kill us. CLAUDETTE I cannot. I love you!


SABINE There is no other choice. Besides, Id likely miss and stab Phillippe in any case. MATHILDE Just do it! Sabine lunges at Claudette, who parries and avoids, allowing Sabine to pass by her and stab at Phillippe, who deftly sidesteps the blade which wounds his captor, Noel. Claudette, for a moment stunned, is faced with Reginald and his captor, Andre. Reginald has grabbed the mans sword arm and tries weakly to immobilize it. Phillippe has taken his wounded captors sword and advances directly behind Claudette. He immediately pushes her forward. Andre turns to avoid her thrust, opening himself to an deadly attack from Phillippe. As quickly as it began the fight is over. Jules and Theobald are unharmed, and Noel, though wounded, is still able to fight, having picked up Andres sword. Sabine frees Phillippes wrists. PHILLIPPE Even odds now. Seems unfair somehow. THEOBALD LeChevre! Gascoyne! Swords! The offstage digging stops. The fight begins. Phillippe faces Jules, Sabine faces Noel, and Claudette faces Theobald. LeChevre and Gascoyne rush on stage with their swords in hand. PHILLIPPE Take them! CLAUDETTE But-PHILLIPPE Ill be fine. CLAUDETTE I meant me.


Claudette turns to fight the two new attackers while Phillippe deftly handles Theobald and Jules. In the melee, opponents change hands and Gascoyne ends up fighting Sabine. SABINE You! GASCOYNE Madame Sabine! SABINE How could you? GASCOYNE This wasnt my idea! THEOBALD Shut up and kill her! GASCOYNE We cant fight them! LeChevre! LeChevre and Gascoyne yield but Theobald lunges at Gascoyne. THEOBALD Then Ill kill you! Sabine parries Theobalds thrust and is now fighting him. LeChevre and Gascoyne retreat. SABINE Protect Jean-Baptiste! REGINALD And the girl! LeChevre and Gascoyne move to the fallen Isabelle and Jean-Baptiste. Claudette and Sabine each fight one, while Phillippe is able to take two opponents by himself. The opponents change often and rapidly, like dance partners. LeChevre and Gascoyne protect Jean-Baptiste and Isabelle from the footmen and keep Mathilde at bay. They also free them from their bonds. JEAN-BAPTISTE Thank you, gentlemen.


LECHEVRE We love your plays. GASCOYNE How do you come up with your ideas? JEAN-BAPTISTE Now is hardly the time. GASCOYNE True. Sorry. JEAN-BAPTISTE But real life is obviously quite dramatic. Theobald is stabbed and dies near the unconscious Isabelle. Mathilde takes the injured Reginald captive with her knife at his throat. MATHILDE Stop! I order you all to stop! The fight pauses. MATHILDE (contd) I will kill him. You know that I will. I have no love for any of you, but only one of you must die tonight. Stand back and allow Jules to kill Sabine and you all may live to see the dawn. CLAUDETTE And how do we know we can trust you to keep your word? MATHILDE Have you ever known me to lie, child? CLAUDETTE Constantly. MATHILDE Then you have no way of knowing. Mathilde is dragging her captive around the periphery of the fight. CLAUDETTE You would be happy to see us all dead. MATHILDE Not happy, but relieved.


CLAUDETTE You had your own grandson beaten in order to get revenge on me and the woman I love. LECHEVRE Shes his grandmother? MATHILDE Love! What is that to me? You are children, and your love is an offense to god! CLAUDETTE And you even killed Luc! Unseen by anyone, behind Mathilde, Isabelle has taken the dagger from Theobalds corpse. MATHILDE What do I care about the lives of a hundred servants? They are chattel, and their lives and loves are meaningless. Even less than those of theatricals! Isabelle leaps and stabs the old woman. Claudette and Phillippe use the moment to attack Noel and Jules, disarming and incapacitating them. ISABELLE Meaningless? We loved each other! JEAN-BAPTISTE Child, no! ISABELLE He has a name! Luc! I loved him and he loved me! Sabine pulls Isabelle from Mathilde and holds the girl in a tight embrace, both kneeling on the ground. Phillippe frees Jean-Baptiste from his bonds. MATHILDE You are all fools! The King will know the truth by night fall. I shall have justice even in death. CLAUDETTE Justice? You will never know the meaning of that word. REGINALD Cousin-SABINE Reginald, not now.


CLAUDETTE Do not defend her! Aunt Mathilde, you will die in this forest surrounded by your enemies. MATHILDE I have bought my way into Heaven. JEAN-BAPTISTE Only if the Cardinal gets his way. But my letter to the King will be delivered with the Kings morning meal. The Cardinal shall be dining alone this evening. MATHILDE That is no matter. I instructed the Cardinal to destroy my amended will. You get nothing. CLAUDETTE I took that copy when I left. MATHILDE Both a liar and a thief? CLAUDETTE I learned from a master. REGINALD Nothing will be given to the Cardinal. Not a single, solitary sou. MATHILDE You think my servants will just let you steal their pay? REGINALD They will not be overlooked. CLAUDETTE How many of you are at her home? JULES Ten, but well never tell. CLAUDETTE No. You will not. Claudette stabs Jules, and as he dies, she finishes off Noel as well. REGINALD Claudette, enough! CLAUDETTE They knew too much. And these?

* * *

* * *


LECHEVRE We fought beside you. GASCOYNE These men were our enemies, too. CLAUDETTE Is there anyone to vouch for you? PHILLIPPE I shall. CLAUDETTE Husband? SABINE And I. They are devotees of mine. LECHEVRE And Jean-Baptiste, of course. JEAN-BAPTISTE Of course. You must spare them. CLAUDETTE Must I? Whats two more corpses, right Aunt Mathilde? MATHILDE What care I for them? The King will believe my account even without these witnesses. CLAUDETTE He shall never hear your account. Claudette stabs Mathilde. Killing her. REGINALD Claudette, no! SABINE What have you done? PHILLIPPE She was family! CLAUDETTE Family? We shared the same blood but we were never family to her. She had these men dig a pit-- a pit!-- To throw us in. No funeral, no rites, a pit. Even her dogs have gravestones and are tended by her gardeners. She cared for her dogs more than us, and because we dared to defy her, she punished us. SABINE There was no need for any of this. *


Sabine swoons slightly, then leans against a tree for support. PHILLIPPE What happens now? REGINALD Someone must answer for her death. CLAUDETTE It was I alone. Spare Isabelle. SABINE Complete foolishness. ISABELLE I would be thrown in the Bastille. CLAUDETTE Like my parents? Never. PHILLIPPE The wounds were given to her by only her footmen. REGINALD Thats what we tell the King? LECHEVRE They are notorious in Paris. There is even a sizeable reward. GASCOYNE We can vouch for that. JEAN-BAPTISTE We must cling to the truth. The Cardinal convinced her that her only chance of salvation was to change her will. Yes? As soon as that was done she was of no more use to him. CLAUDETTE And when we tried to speak to her, the thugs attacked us. PHILLIPPE They killed Luc and took Isabelle. ISABELLE Luc tried to stop them and they killed him. JEAN-BAPTISTE Exactly. REGINALD We pursued them into the woods and fought them--


LECHEVRE And freed two other captives. CLAUDETTE But Aunt Mathildes wounds were too severe. JEAN-BAPTISTE And only here do we depart from the truth. With her dying breath she begged your forgiveness and told you of a second will-PHILLIPPE That she had written fearing the Cardinals true motives. CLAUDETTE Are we all agreed? Isabelle? Isabelle? ISABELLE Yes, maam? CLAUDETTE Can you remember all of that? ISABELLE Luc died trying to save me. He is my hero. That is all I need to know. Isabelle picks up Lucs manuscript. PHILLIPPE It is almost dawn. I shall ride directly to the sheriff. CLAUDETTE We have ten men to deal with, first. REGINALD We are not killers. CLAUDETTE We shall offer them gold. PHILLIPPE We have fought enough for one night. SABINE Claudette, I need you. CLAUDETTE I wondered when the pains would come for you. SABINE Not the pain. They have not come. * *


CLAUDETTE How is that possible? SABINE Take me home. Claudette helps Sabine walk. PHILLIPPE Let me get you all into the carriages. SABINE I shall ride with you. JEAN-BAPTISTE I was right, Sabine? SABINE How did you know? JEAN-BAPTISTE I have seen it many times before. PHILLIPPE What are you talking about? SABINE Husband, Claudette, had we but known. CLAUDETTE Do you mean that? SABINE If we are to be mothers--? REGINALD Mothers? PHILLIPPE My love, there is a chance you are to be a father. REGINALD If that is true, the blessing comes too late for some. PHILLIPPE We must get Sabine to her bed. Phillippe helps Sabine walk off stage towards the carriage. REGINALD I should stay here with grandmother. *


CLAUDETTE As should I. REGINALD No. If we do have a child to care for, you should be with Sabine. LECHEVRE How may we help? CLAUDETTE You should not be here when Phillippe brings the sheriff. GASCOYNE I hear Salzburg is nice. REGINALD You have no need to flee. We owe you a debt of gratitude. CLAUDETTE But you must never return to thievery. LECHEVRE We have few marketable skills. JEAN-BAPTISTE Those whistles. You know their system of messages? LECHEVRE Yes. We were shipmates for a time. JEAN-BAPTISTE And you love the theatre? GASCOYNE Even the opera. JEAN-BAPTISTE Then you have been rehabilitated. You now work for me. REGINALD Are you serious? JEAN-BAPTISTE Have you seen the dullards I usually get backstage? The last thing on their minds is the actual performance. These gentlemen are a much needed improvement. CLAUDETTE If you ever breathe a word of any of this I shall deal with you myself. GASCOYNE We are your servants ever.


LECHEVRE We return to Paris changed men. PHILLIPPE We are all changed. Cousin? CLAUDETTE I shall be fine. There is a darkness in me that gives me strength, but I hope to never need it again. REGINALD There is more thing to tell you. CLAUDETTE You were right not to reveal it. Even the Cardinal knew that secret and it seemed to delight him. Putting the pieces together was what gave me the courage to run from Paris. Phillippe enters. PHILLIPPE We must hurry. The sun rises. REGINALD Take Sabine home. Then to your tasks. PHILLIPPE And Isabelle? JEAN-BAPTISTE We will care for her here. Phillippe and Claudette exit. REGINALD Isabelle, are you all right? ISABELLE Where is my Luc? REGINALD At our home. ISABELLE He wrote this for me. JEAN-BAPTISTE He will be remembered for its brilliance. ISABELLE But I cannot read a word of it. JEAN-BAPTISTE I shall read it to you, so you will know it. * *


The sound of the carriage leaving. CLAUDETTE Go, Sabine. I shall be fine. There is a lot yet to be done today. Jean-Baptiste sits beside Isabelle and they read from Lucs script. ISABELLE What does this last part say? JEAN-BAPTISTE And the dawn rises on the clearing as the lovers embrace. It is a happy ending. End of play. End of play