DUEL INTENTS (the first scene, only) by Larry Nehring

Fifth Draft L. Nehring, December 2010

Larry Nehring 1342 Beach Pkwy. Apt. #1 Lakewood, OH 44107 LNehring@aol.com 216.965.8409


DUEL INTENTS Character Descriptions (4 F, 10 M): SABINE (F)- 25-30 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)- 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 grandniece. 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- 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)- 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, four days later, p32 Scene 3: A clearing in the nearby forest, four days later, minutes before dawn, p48

Act IIScene 1: The salon of Reginald's estate, middle of the following day, p57 Scene 2: The salon of Reginald's estate, after midnight, p86 Scene 3: A clearing in the nearby forest, an hour later, p97


SCENE 1 (I,1): REGINALD AND SABINE’S ESTATE The room is a charming and spacious salon, elegantly decorated with flowers, 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 (cont’d) 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 (cont’d) 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. 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. SABINE Imbecile! CLAUDETTE Whore! SABINE You think you are so clever! CLAUDETTE I am! SABINE Ha! CLAUDETTE You cannot defeat me! SABINE You will make a mistake. CLAUDETTE I haven’t yet. SABINE 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 Phillippe! Sabine takes advantage of Claudette’s 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 Sabine's sword in Claudette’s hand. SABINE How did you-CLAUDETTE Yield! SABINE Never! Sabine snatches up Claudette’s sword and the fight resumes. CLAUDETTE Your rapier is heavier than mine. SABINE And yours is light as a child’s toy. No striking power at all. CLAUDETTE Very well. Hand it back. SABINE So smug. Just as Phillippe observed. CLAUDETTE He never! SABINE Why just last night at Lady Moreau’s, as we danced, he told me that very thing.


CLAUDETTE Nonsense! SABINE After I caught you and my husband in the garden last night? You dare feign anger? CLAUDETTE You over reacted! SABINE He was up your skirts like a physician! And in Lady Moreau’s maze, even. You are practically siblings. CLAUDETTE You slapped me! SABINE You had to be dealt with. CLAUDETTE In full view of Lady Moreau, herself! SABINE It will be the talk of Paris. CLAUDETTE Shut up! SABINE “The actress slapped the King’s cousin!” But who could blame me? Then again-CLAUDETTE Not another word! SABINE The French royal family is 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. Before a word can be spoken the doors open and Phillippe and Reginald enter. 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 moment’s shock, Sabine and Claudette attempt to regain their feet and composure and hide the weapons. 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? You’re 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 mother 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 In just your corsets. REGINALD Flagrante delicto at this time of day? PHILLIPPE 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 grandmother’s estate is a nuisance to your socializing, but she needs me to help her plan her last will and testament. As her only son 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, and when we are alone she is like some kind of staring viper. With a rosary. Makes my skin crawl. CLAUDETTE The rosary? REGINALD She is my mother. SABINE Well she is not mine! Why do I have to be here with you? REGINALD You, here at hand, is proof of your love for her. CLAUDETTE Aunt Mathilde believes that? REGINALD Of course not, but she car hardly call your absence in question if you are not absent, can she? PHILLIPPE You should count your blessings that you are once 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 I shall ensure that you are well maintained in her will, cousin. 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 Don’t over react. SABINE I’m not. PHILLIPPE Not you. My wife. CLAUDETTE It is fine for you to be 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. PHILLIPPE Reginald, I know that your mother is... your mother 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, then. SABINE I should not, for certain. REGINALD You must all be here. She needs to be certain that the family will be left in good hands when she meets the sweet hereafter. The Cardinal has convinced her that her mortal soul is in peril, so she is in a state. PHILLIPPE She already prays more than the Cardinal. SABINE She also has more money than he does 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 wants it. 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 would be even more popular in court. REGINALD I am in love with the king’s pet. PHILLIPPE Mind your tongue. REGINALD You don’t mind it. SABINE You are both impossible. REGINALD Jealousy becomes her. SABINE Jean-Baptiste should write me a play with that title. REGINALD Perhaps he will. Wish me luck, my love. PHILLIPPE Do you need luck? SABINE Oh, go calm your cousin. REGINALD I don’t know if I can trust you two alone. You know what the rumors are. PHILLIPPE Begone, foul sprite. Trouble us no longer. Reginald exits. SABINE Thank you. PHILLIPPE Exciting day for you.


SABINE How do you mean? PHILLIPPE Sabine, give me the rapiers. SABINE Rapiers? PHILLIPPE Isabelle, could you please come out from hiding? SABINE Oh, goodness. 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 don’t you run to the kitchen and have Henri pour you a small brandy. ISABELLE I didn’t see-SABINE Hurry, I fear you will do harm to your self if you continue. Sabine pushes Isabelle towards the door.


ISABELLE I promise you-SABINE You will have the brandy and lie down in your chamber. Very good. Now go. She pushes Isabelle out the door. SABINE (cont’d) What a high strung child. PHILLIPPE She shares your flair for the dramatic. Sabine opens the door. SABINE Nonsense. Isabelle! Tell Henri to send young Luc to me when he arrives. ISABELLE (Off) Who? SABINE Luc, no one you have met. He will have a manuscript for me from Paris. ISABELLE (Off) Paris? SABINE Yes, now go have your brandy. Sabine closes the door. 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 one eye than the most careful observer might with a good, long study. SABINE You must stay calm. PHILLIPPE What you have been doing could ruin me!


SABINE You are exaggerating. PHILLIPPE Nonsense! 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 himself! I teach only him, and I certainly must not teach 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, or more! When I walked in you were poised in The Adder’s 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. PHILLIPPE On 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 Moreau’s 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 wasn’t 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 wouldn’t know. I taught her a few parries, then a few more, but we grew bored. You started talking about the manual you were writing and we thought that might be interesting to peruse. PHILLIPPE Those are family secrets! SABINE And we are family, remember? Besides, no one takes Claudette seriously. 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 common is 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 Very well, but I must insist-SABINE Anything. PHILLIPPE Keep your back straight. If you bend even slightly at the waist, The Adder’s Grasp can quickly become The Chinaman’s Toss. SABINE I don’t remember seeing that one.


PHILLIPPE Because I haven’t 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 from both these rapiers and any man’s weapons. I leave them entirely for your hands. The doors open and Mathilde enters. MATHILDE What kind of a household are you running? No servants to walk me to my luncheon and the mistress of the house is not dressed. SABINE Mother Mathilde, 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 off my relations? PHILLIPPE I am, as always, at your bidding. SABINE Mother Mathilde, would you care to make yourself comfortable while I send for some refreshments? MATHILDE Yes, this chair doesn’t appear too threadbare, although the dust it carries speaks volumes about your lack of good servants. SABINE Reginald and I prefer to keep few servants. It ensures a tranquility few households today enjoy. MATHILDE A silence filled entirely by the sound of sneezes. 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 was a very frightening experience and one that I would not want to repeat, so I hope that you will allow me to travel back in daylight. MATHILDE He hasn’t even brought any refreshment. SABINE Luc, please sit down. You must catch your breath. LUC I don’t think I am able. PHILLIPPE He is a messenger from her theatre, not a servant. MATHILDE You must not let him sit on the furniture like a guest. SABINE Perhaps you would be more comfortable in the music room. MATHILDE What is your obsession with the music room? LUC I left my horse with the stable boy. Will it be safe? Its the master’s 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 did not 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 Mother Mathilde! MATHILDE Monsieur 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 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 (cont’d) 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 Another brandy, you think? SABINE Without a doubt. 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 enters a scene early.


Phillippe rings again. PHILLIPPE Perhaps Isabelle did in fact take to her bed. SABINE It would be best for her. PHILLIPPE I might have to fetch it myself. Isabelle enters with a large brandy. She is already a tiny bit tipsy. PHILLIPPE (cont’d) Ah, there you are Isabelle. Are you less hysterical? ISABELLE I believe so. This brandy is a wonderful tonic. PHILLIPPE That it is. You read my mind. Phillippe takes the brandy snifter and carries it 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 I fear we shall need more brandy. SABINE Yes, yes. I must finish reading this. Isabelle walks closer to Luc, who hasn’t noticed her yet. PHILLIPPE Shall I fetch it myself? SABINE Do as you please. Phillippe exits. ISABELLE It is very good, isn’t 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 and 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 the very muse that inspired a fleet of ships 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! This 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 had! 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 It is called “Jealousy Becomes Her”. SABINE And the bulk of these pages are wordless. LUC Blank? 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. SABINE My high praise is deserved by you. LUC Madame? SABINE This play could 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 character. Now go to the kitchens. You have earned a feast. Sabine ushers Luc to the door. SABINE (cont’d) Jean-Baptiste might fawn over you, his young apprentice, but I doubt he will ever offer you better. Go. Eat and be gluttonous. Isabelle will go upstairs and draw a hot bath and prepare a guest room. LUC Isabelle. SABINE You shall sleep here tonight and in the morning ride back to Paris with a letter for your master from I, his muse. LUC My muse. SABINE How sweet. Now go to the kitchens.


Sabine pushes Luc out the door and closes it behind him. ISABELLE My tonic, my Luc? SABINE Isabelle, still here? Go, and use the master’s salts in his bath. This young man deserves the best. ISABELLE Of course, right away. Sabine crosses past Isabelle and the girl tries halfheartedly to catch the brandy snifter. She curtseys and exits the room. Sabine reads from the script. SABINE The 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 Have you seen a ghost?


CLAUDETTE Give me that. She takes the brandy snifter from Sabine. SABINE What happened? CLAUDETTE Empty? Ring for Isabelle. 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 her grandson. 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 And he was just seating himself at his pianoforte. SABINE The fool! CLAUDETTE She does dislike the frivolous. SABINE Then she won’t be here for long. CLAUDETTE Where the devil is Isabella? SABINE She is running a bath.


CLAUDETTE Good, I shall need one but I need some brandy right now. Phillippe enters with a decanter of brandy and another snifter, from which he has been sipping. SABINE As if on cue. PHILLIPPE Have I missed something? SABINE Claudette was ordered here to await further instructions. PHILLIPPE Very ominous indeed. CLAUDETTE Brandy! Claudette takes the 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 Aunt Mathilde. 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 wouldn’t, would she? SABINE Of course not. You are far too pretty for her to deface. Send for us when she departs. CLAUDETTE Of course. A kiss in parting? SABINE A quick one, my love. Sabine kisses Claudette and exits into the garden. PHILLIPPE We shall be just outside in the garden. CLAUDETTE I know. Now hurry.


Phillippe exits into the garden. Claudette now holds both brandy snifters and drains them both. She goes to the decanter and refills one glass. After a moment’s thought, she refills the second as well. The door opens from the hall and Mathilde strides in followed by Reginald. MATHILDE You are trying my patience. REGINALD Mother, 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 children have been the most attentive. MATHILDE You are my only child. 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 a grandchild 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 by now 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 nearly forty years old. 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 why have you poured a brandy for me? You know I abhor the drinkers 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! I cannot imagine what other vices she has taught such a feeble minded girl. Claudette, I said sit down! Claudette sits. REGINALD Mother, for years you pestered me to take a wife, and out of devotion to you I did. MATHILDE You betrayed that devotion by bringing humiliation upon this family. She is a common actress. Theatre is but one step above whoredom! And her womb is without the ability to produce offspring. Of what good is she to me? Keep her in a side chamber to slake your lust if you must, but I must have a child 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 Mother-MATHILDE Leave me before I am completely unwilling to consider your forgiveness. Reginald bows and exits, taking one of the brandies with him. MATHILDE (cont’d) 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! 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 Tel her you are a master of the sword, having learned from your husband. CLAUDETTE But that is strictly forbidden. MATHILDE I know that. She knows that. Convince her otherwise. CLAUDETTE Do you mean-MATHILDE Challenge her to a duel. Claudette gulps her brandy. CLAUDETTE I cannot fight her. MATHILDE There is no need. All you have to do is challenge her. To save her own skin she will run and hide behind her theatre curtains and Reginald shall be free to find a fertile bride. And you will have earned a daughter’s 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 cannot teach me the sword! MATHILDE If he refuses I will tell the king that he already has been teaching you. Claudette gulps brandy again. CLAUDETTE If I cannot? MATHILDE Neither you or Reginald get a single, solitary sou. I see the way that the two of you spend my allowances and you could neither of you live off of the pittances your spouses earn by plying their trades. Now I must go. I am meeting the Cardinal to discuss how I might use my money to buy my way into heaven. Perhaps I should suggest that the entirety might be at his disposal. That should earn me a place in the heavenly host, should it not? Not a word from you? Remember what I expect from you. Do not presume to disappoint me. Mathilde exits to the hallway. Claudette gulps her brandy again. The garden door opens and Sabine peeks her head inside. SABINE Is she gone? Claudette does not respond. Sabine enters. SABINE (cont’d) Claudette! Are you all right? You are as white as milk. Say something.


Sabine runs to the garden door and calls out. SABINE (cont’d) Phillippe, come here! She does not look well! Sabine goes back to Claudette. SABINE (cont’d) My love, what is wrong? Phillippe enters through the garden door. PHILLIPPE Give her some brandy. SABINE She has some already. Claudette sits there, just breathing and staring out at nothing. Reginald enters from the hallway door. REGINALD Her carriage has left. SABINE Claudette? PHILLIPPE Shh. Give her peace. SABINE Don’t tell me what to do. REGINALD Both of you hush. Claudette, what did she say? After a moment Claudette speaks. CLAUDETTE This is insanity.


SABINE That’s the first sane thing anyone has ever said about your mother. REGINALD What is? CLAUDETTE I can’t do this. SABINE What, sweetheart? CLAUDETTE A challenge. REGINALD She challenged you? PHILLIPPE To a duel? Ridiculous. CLAUDETTE No. I must. SABINE Must what? She is not making sense. CLAUDETTE Sabine. SABINE What, my love? CLAUDETTE You. SABINE Me, what? CLAUDETTE I challenge you to a duel. SABINE You told her? PHILLIPPE I didn’t. I have been with you the whole time.


CLAUDETTE I challenge you to duel. There, I did it. REGINALD Isn’t there something about gloves to this? Claudette takes a handkerchief out. CLAUDETTE This will have to do. REGINALD Do for what? I am confused. SABINE Phillippe, very funny this. PHILLIPPE Not my doing. Claudette slaps Sabine across the face with the handkerchief. CLAUDETTE I challenge you to a duel. REGINALD I hope that was clean. SABINE What in the hell are you doing? CLAUDETTE I did what I was told to do. PHILLIPPE To what end? This is no joke. REGINALD As if you 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 and you haven’t. End of story. REGINALD What in god’s name are you all talking about? PHILLIPPE This wouldn’t satisfy her. CLAUDETTE Are you sure? SABINE Don’t encourage this. PHILLIPPE It would need to be public. Very public. REGINALD You want to fight her? I thought you loved her? You taught her how to fence? What is wrong with you? You have to catch me up with what I missed while I was in the other room. Give me that brandy! CLAUDETTE She told me that I needed to scare away Sabine. That if I challenged her it would be over. SABINE That I would run away like a coward? How dare she! REGINALD Its a reasonable conclusion. PHILLIPPE Only if you don't know Sabine. SABINE I’ll kill her! REGINALD She is my mother. SABINE And my soon to be dead-in-law. CLAUDETTE But it didn't work, so we are done.


SABINE Don't be so simple. She wont let it go at that. 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. REGINALD She is family! SABINE She wants me dead. CLAUDETTE No she doesn't. PHILLIPPE She wants you gone and the marriage ended. REGINALD Then I would have to marry some fertile girl. SABINE And start procreating. REGINALD Why can she not leave well enough alone? SABINE If I cant kill her what will we do? PHILLIPPE We have to plan for a challenge and a suitable response. You might have to duel. CLAUDETTE I’ve 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? What is wrong with you? CLAUDETTE What’s wrong with that? REGINALD I’d sooner give a musket to chimpanzee. CLAUDETTE I will show you just how good I am. Grab your rapier and have at it! PHILLIPPE We are losing focus. What if you fail? CLAUDETTE I won’t. PHILLIPPE What will your aunt do? CLAUDETTE Oh. Leave us out of the will. REGINALD But I’m her son. 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. PHILLIPPE You must challenge her. CLAUDETTE I did. You saw me. PHILLIPPE Publicly. REGINALD But she cant run away. SABINE Never. PHILLIPPE Then you will have to have a duel. CLAUDETTE But 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.

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