A random scene that popped into my head one day. I love these two so much, and really wish the Baroness had fleshed-out their story before the book a bit more. It's a mix of book and film-verse, most notably Chauvelin's name-change. There's too many Armands in the Baroness' world!
The play had been an unmitigated disaster. In her eyes at least. The crowd had delighted in the vacuous dialogue and risqué costumes, as had been expected. And the crowd had been numerous, which meant her employer would be happy. Marguerite knew it was just a job at times, but she couldn't help feel sadly deflated when she stood on stage knowing that no-one out there in the dark had the faintest clue about the genius of Moliere. Not that she had had the pleasure of interpreting the words of Monsieur Moliere in a long time, the owner of the theatre preferring to pander to the new government in the form of transparently pro-Republican drivel being performed nightly on his stage.
At least she had a job; so many in this new 'equal' society went without. Paul was so fond of stating that liberty could never have an easy birth and there would always be some who suffered but, as long as it was not them, why should she care. She had never thought of herself as particularly charity-minded but the more she saw of the suffering and inequality of this new society, the less enamoured she became of it.
Stripping off her ridiculous costume in the crowded green room, her mind wandered. The other young actresses were clustered around the door to the dressing room, flirting and shrieking with fake laughter at the quips of the usual gaggle of insipid fops and hangers-on who crowded into the backstage area after a performance. She hadn't the heart to join them, although she knew as well as anyone else that a rich patron was the surest way to success. She preferred, however naively, to believe that one day she would be able to perform the works of the greats, to crowds who adored her for her artistry and not her, well, rather more obvious attributes.
Escaping from the crush inside the green room she slipped out the back through the costume storage towards the back door and came face to face with someone obviously heading in the same direction. More face to cravat actually, as she untangled herself from the frou-frou of lace she found covering her face, and raised her eyes to the meet brilliant blue.
'A thousand pardons mademoiselle', the pleasantry snapped her out of the daze she had momentarily found herself in. The man in front of her straightened from the bow he had automatically sunk into, and once again caught her gaze with eyes of such profound depth they took her breath away. She had met many handsome men in her life, especially in her line of work, yet there was something about this stranger. If asked about him later, she would not be able to tell the questioner anything about his physical appearance apart from his height and those dazzling blue eyes. More than a colour, they held a depth and sense of emotion she could never hope to put into words. In that instant in a cramped corridor backstage with a crush of people barely a few feet away from them she felt a level of connection she had never before felt in her life.
It was as though the world shrank to nothing more than the two people in that small corner of Paris, and for a moment life paused.
A group of young gallants pushed past laughing loudly breaking the spell. She glanced back, smiling her forgiveness, and turned to leave when his voice once again captured her.
'A wonderful performance tonight, mademoiselle.' His voice had a slight lilt to the accent she couldn't quite place.
But at least his words she could deal with. 'If you believe that monsieur, I'm afraid we have vastly different taste in theatrics.' Anyone who actually enjoyed the farce she had just participated in could hardly be sensible, and she found it increasingly difficult to tolerate those who had no sense.
'I intended to pay a compliment to your performance, mademoiselle, despite the script, not because of it. Talent such as yours could be put to such better use.'
'Indeed monsieur? And what would you suggest? Another Madame Liberty in Grecian draped clothing?' She made no effort to hide the sharp tone of sarcasm from her voice. She had quickly learnt to develop thick skin where men and their preconceptions of actresses were concerned. With a well-practiced toss of her head she turned to leave, only to be rooted to the spot by his next words.
'Not at all mademoiselle, I can think of no better role for you than Agnes in The School for Wives. Are you familiar with the piece?'
'Indeed Monsieur, it is one of my favourites, although I would flatter myself I would have better taste in husbands than Agnes. I wonder that someone who is a stranger to the country would know Monsieur Moliere so well.'
'Even the English must acknowledge superior talent when they encounter it mademoiselle.'
'English?' she questioned.
'Indeed, and forgive my deplorable lack of manners. Sir Percival Blakeney at your service.' He bowed low once again, an action that should look ridiculously out of place in the dingy corridor, yet carried out with such dignity and aplomb that spoke of nobility no matter the surroundings.
She made to return the pleasantry and introduction but was quickly stopped.
'I assure you that Mademoiselle St. Just needs no introduction mademoiselle. A man would have to be blind and deaf not to recognise the most beautiful actress in all of Paris.' His extremes of flattery should have sounded like the false compliments she was so used to receiving, yet he spoke with such gravity that she couldn't dismiss him at all. 'Although to me, however far I may travel, you will always be my Agnes.'
He bowed low, kissing her hand, before raising his eyes to hers once more. Turning on his heel he exited through the door behind them leaving her standing in that corridor, transfixed by what had just happened.
She often thought back to that encounter in the years to come. Firstly as a pleasant memory during her long months working her way to the top of the playbill at the theatre, later as the first moment she laid eyes on the man she would come to love, and more recently as an example of her foolish naïveté, believing that there was more to the fool she had chosen to marry than met the eye. While his were still that dazzling blue she no longer could see the depth and passion she had once believed to be hidden there.
But that was still to come, and she had more pressing issues to consider in the present. Turning away from the now-empty space in front of her she gathered her things and, calling out a cheery farewell, made her way into the dark towards the Rue de Richelieu, oblivious to the eyes that watched her from the shadows, making sure she arrived home safely.