The band of fugitives made its way to the quays aligning the river Seine without being spotted by members of the Garde Révolutionaire. A small boat was moored at the bottom of the steps. They got on board, Manon and Jéhan at the stern and Jake at the bow, while de Briers took the oars. He began rowing downstream in a steady rhythm, the heavy oaken shafts cutting the water in silence. They slid along the riverbank, and de Briers kept the boat as close to the quay wall as he could without crashing into it. Their progress was slow but steady and undisturbed in the moonless dark of the June night.
Manon had taken Jéhan onto her lap when the boy began showing signs of weariness, but the damp chill that always seemed to emanate from the water made them both shiver with cold. Jéhan could not settle. “I am so cold, Manon. I want my cloak,” he whimpered.
“Shh, mon chou,” Manon hushed, “you must not make a noise.” She was afraid de Briers would become angry with them. Moreover, heaven knew what would happen if they were caught by the guards patrolling the riverbanks.
“Here,” de Briers said, “take this.” He signalled for Jake to hold the oars, shed his coat and draped it over Manon’s shoulders. She stifled a gasp when the man’s body heat, still trapped in the rough woollen coat, engulfed her. His scent – clean, spicy and very male – attacked her senses. They were stirred in a way she had never experienced before in her life, creating odd little flames that tantalized her skin. Recovering from her thoughts, she pulled Jéhan into the coat with her.
Quickly, Manon lowered her gaze, shame welling up deep in her chest. What was this awkward sensation that so disturbed her? Could it be … desire? Could it? In the twenty years of her life in the French capital Manon had – of course – encountered young men. Manon knew she was beautiful, lively and witty, and some young men had been so besotted that they had tried to lure her into their beds, but none had succeeded. No man had ever stirred Manon’s heart so she always kept the upper hand. She also knew what damage could be done when giving oneself to a man. Damage, both physical and emotional, that could ruin a girl’s life and leave her with a babe to raise on her own. Manon could deal with a fatherless babe but she would have been mortified to put her dearest Papa through the ordeal of a daughter who betrayed his trust in her. Papa had always shouldered the scalding blame for her Mama’s forced flight from her family when she had eloped with him. He had instilled in his daughter a strong conviction that a girl should not give her virginity to a man unless he was her legal husband. A husband who would love and cherish her until death parted them.
Manon had kept to that belief until this day, and she meant to keep it that way. Moreover, this man, this Richard de Briers, was her uncle, according to his own words. A blood relative. Romantic feelings for him would be considered incest, even if she did not act physically on them. She needed to quell these sudden, immoral thoughts forthwith.
Richard de Briers focused on the job at hand, steering the small craft over the mirror-like surface of the river Seine. At the same time, he listened for unusual noises and scanned the riverbanks for lights. From the moment he had met his niece and nephew, they had become family.
The girl was indeed his niece; of that he had no doubts at all. She had the bright red hair and vivid green eyes of her mother, his beloved sister Lily. Richard had been five when his half-sister eloped with Thibaut Favier, and to him, it had felt as if a part of his soul had been ripped away. Lily, sweet and caring, had been more of a mother to him than the cold, self-centred woman who had given birth to him.
Mildred de Briers, née Thompson, was a commoner. An extremely wealthy one, no doubt, but a commoner nevertheless. Her vast dowry, the result of her father’s activities as a Manchester cotton mill owner, had been the principal motive of his father’s second marriage. Sir Robert was in dire financial circumstances and needed the blunt. The fact that Mildred had given him a son and heir had never stirred more than tepid affections for Mildred in Sir Robert. Mildred herself had not loved her husband either. She consented to the marriage to please her papa who wished to have a titled son-in-law. Because Mildred and her family were tradespeople, they had never been properly educated. They could read and write, of course, but they had no interests in Society’s intricate machinations. Therefore, they had not known until after the marriage that Sir Robert, being only a baronet, was no member of the peerage. That little piece of information had thoroughly severed the connections between Sir Robert and his in-laws.
With rising annoyance, Richard shook off the memories of his sour, grim-faced mother. He needed to keep his wits free to get his niece and nephew out of Paris safely. That was what he had promised his dying father and what Richard himself felt was an obligation to his dearest Lily’s memory. This girl and this boy were Lily’s children. He would protect them with his life.
They reached Auteuil unharmed and unnoticed. The small borough, just outside Paris, lay squeezed between the river in the east and the notorious Bois de Boulogne in the west. Richard’s lodgings were with a soldier’s widow called Madame Bernard. The house lay on the edge of these woods, a safe enough distance from the capital to keep them from being overly bothered by the revolutionary guards. The nasty reputation of the woods, where people were attacked and even murdered, where women were raped and children butchered, helped to keep Richard and Jake out of sight.
By the time they arrived at Madame Bernard’s house, Jéhan was fast asleep in Richard’s arms, exhausted by the long walk from the river to the woods’ edge. Manon looked ghastly, Richard noticed, even though she never uttered a complaint as she dragged her tired and sore feet. Her shoes were threadbare; their soles were too thin to walk the cobbled streets, let alone travel the dusty roads.
Once inside, Richard ordered a bath and a meal for his charges. Madame Bernard was instantly fussing over the boy and cooing over Manon. She led them to the kitchen and shooed the men into her parlour, instructing them to pour themselves a glass of liquor. Richard grimaced at the thought of the vile green beverage the French called crême de menthe, but Jake eagerly poured himself a generous dose. Finally, Richard chose a cognac and settled into a chair.
Faint noises from the kitchen reached his tired mind. Splashing and giggling, and Madame Bernard’s happy comments; she must have been bustling about and preparing their meal. Upon hearing Manon asking for the soap, an image of her naked body, luxuriating in the bath, ambushed Richard’s mind, utterly unbidden and thoroughly unwanted. In response, his body immediately reacted, leaving him stunned with the force of his desire. What the devil was going on and what the hell was he thinking? He jumped from his seat. “I will be in my room. Tell Madame Bernard to bring up my meal as soon as it is ready.”
Jake, startled by his master’s sudden exit, stared at the closing door in bewilderment.
Manon was famished by the time the landlady laid out their meal. At first, she was distracted by Jéhan, who, as ravenous as he was, gobbled up his food without even trying to chew it. A few minutes passed, in which she fed him little tidbits until he ate more slowly, before she actually noticed that her uncle had not come to Madame’s cosy kitchen. When she asked Jake about it, he shrugged.
“He is like that sometimes. I do not know why. Simply disappears. Reckon he had enough of us for tonight.”
“How well do you know my uncle, Jake?” Manon asked, eager to learn as much as she could.
“Not well, actually. I was employed by his father, the late baronet of Bearsham, who sent me to Paris. I know Sir Richard only slightly from my rare visits to Brighton in the past. He is all right, so to speak. Never treats one without respect, although he does not allow slovenliness or insubordination. He is thorough in his business dealings, and he is clever, I tell you.”
“Is he married, or engaged?” Manon did not know why she wanted to know the answer to that, but she did.
“How would I know whether he is betrothed?” Jake protested. “He is not likely to tell me, is he? I heard he was engaged once, but the lady married another.”
“Does he have a mistress, then?”
“Now, miss, you should not ask such questions. It is very unladylike!”
“Jake, this is Paris and I am no lady.” Manon eyed him with deliberate mischief.
“No, but you will become one soon. You are the master’s niece.” The young man returned a stern gaze.
“Maybe I will,” Manon chuckled, “but really, is there a woman in his life?”
Jake shook his head emphatically. “No, indeed. I think he is somewhat lonely, is the master.”
Manon digested this information for a while before asking, “What do you mean, lonely?”
They had spoken all of this in French, of course, and Manon now became aware of Madame Bernard staring at the two of them with avid eyes. Apparently, she was considering all this to be very interesting.
“Yes, I see what you mean,” Madame Bernard chimed in. “Monsieur has a certain … look about him, of being utterly alone in the world. As if he had not a living soul who cared for him. As if no one ever told him they loved him.”
“Exactly!” Jake acknowledged.
She knew not why, but Manon’s heart contracted with sheer compassion for de Briers.
“That cannot be true,” she said. “His mother is still alive, is she not? Mothers and sons – that is the oldest love story in the world!”
Jake knowingly shook his head. “Ah, but you clearly do not know the Dowager Baronettes of Bearsham! She is as cold as they come. Haughty, and ruthless. A veritable dragon, she is!”
Suddenly, a deep voice boomed from the doorway.
“I will thank you, Mr Davies, not to comment on my family, if you please!”
Jake nearly fell from his chair and began apologizing profusely to his master.
“Oh! I am so sorry, master … I …”
“Madame Bernard, we wish to depart from here at the first light of dawn,” de Briers said, cutting him off. “We will need several items for our journey, such as a food basket, blankets, and two decent woollen cloaks for the young lady and her brother. I wish to buy that wooden cart I saw in your yard. Just tell me your price and I will meet it.”
The landlady bobbed in silent answer. De Briers addressed Manon with a curt nod of his head. “Be sure to wear unobtrusive clothes, niece. We do not want to attract any unwanted attention. We will pose as a family of farmers. You and Jake as a couple with a young son. I will be an elderly relative who is weak of mind. Also, I will not speak because my accent would give me away as an Englishman.”
Manon was dumbstruck by his curtness and could only nod in agreement.
“Very well, then,” de Briers said, “we should all retire to our beds and have a good night’s sleep. We have a long journey ahead in the days to come.”
They all rose at once and left for their sleeping quarters.
Part 2 premieres in Spring / Summer 2016 on PBS GREAT PERFORMANCES in the US and on BBC2 in the UK. Part 1 was released in 2012.
Following an outstanding critical and audience reaction to the BAFTA Award-winning The Hollow Crown television mini-series in 2012, Neal Street Productions and Carnival Films/NBCUniversal bring the concluding part of this ambitious cycle of Shakespeare’s History plays to the screen in three further filmed adaptations, Henry VI (in 2 parts) and Richard III. Together they comprise a tumultuous medieval spectacle, spanning rebellion in France, the rise and fall of Joan of Arc, the terror of England’s Civil War, and the deceitful dynastic murders culminating in the infamous reign of Richard III. Assembling some of the UK’s finest acting talent, the stellar cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Sophie Okonedo, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Keeley Hawes and Tom Sturridge.
Courtesy of BBC
Henry VI part 1: Sophie Okonedo (Queen Margaret), Hugh Bonneville (Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester), Sally Hawkins (Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester), Tom Sturridge (Henry VI), Adrian Dunbar (Plantagenet), Stuart McQuarrie (Vernon), Lucy Robinson (Young Cecily), Samuel West (the Bishop of Winchester), Stanley Townsend (Warwick), Michael Gambon (Mortimer), Anton Lesser (Exeter), Ben Miles (Somerset), Jason Watkins (Suffolk) and Philip Glenister (Talbot).
Henry VI part 2: Benedict Cumberbatch (Richard III), Sophie Okonedo (Queen Margaret), Keeley Hawes (Queen Elizabeth), Tom Sturridge (Henry VI), Adrian Dunbar (Plantagenet), Geoffrey Streatfeild (Edward IV), Sam Troughton (George), Stuart McQuarrie (Vernon), Kyle Soller (Clifford), Lucy Robinson (Young Cecily), Stanley Townsend (Warwick), Anton Lesser (Exeter), Ben Daniels (Buckingham), Ben Miles (Somerset), Jason Watkins (Suffolk), Phoebe Fox (Anne), James Fleet (Hastings) and Andrew Scott (King Louis).
Richard III: Judi Dench (Cecily, Duchess of York), Benedict Cumberbatch (Richard III), Sophie Okonedo (Queen Margaret), Keeley Hawes (Queen Elizabeth), Geoffrey Streatfeild (Edward IV), Sam Troughton (George), Ben Daniels (Buckingham), James Fleet (Hastings) and Phoebe Fox (Anne).
X Company’ is a character-driven drama set in a world of espionage and covert operations. The show will be set in WWII, following the stories of five highly skilled young recruits – Canadian, American and British, who are taken from their everyday lives and are trained together in a ultra-secret training facility on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Tis Better to Star on Fox….. Than to Serve in Hell.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, the pilot for ’Lucifer’ is out there if you want to find it. It premieres on Fox on January 25 at 8/7 central, but if you want to know what you might get into, here it is.
Lucifer has decided to take a vacation from Hell, having grown tired of punishing sinners and questioning his place in the Divine Plan. He starts up a bar in Los Angeles named Lux, and has the power to draw out the deepest desires in most humans that he meets. He’s also immortal, so things like bullets don’t bother him much.
Tom Ellis in Fox’s Lucifer
When a former client, a singer named Delilah, comes to see Lucifer, he assures her that most of her trouble since rising to success is her own. She gets gunned down on the street and Lucifer, irritated that the person responsible isn’t being punished, sets out to find them. Lucifer teams up with a cop, Chloe Dancer, who has enough baggage to fill an airport terminal. She doesn’t believe he’s Lucifer Morningstar, even though Lucifer isn’t shy about telling her or hiding what he can do.
Together Lucifer and Chloe find the person who ordered the hit on Delilah. Along the way Lucifer discovers that his charm power doesn’t work on Chloe. Intrigued, he decides to keep working with her and make sure that the guilty get punished. Along the way, the forces of both Heaven and Hell want Lucifer to go back to work because Hell isn’t functioning very well without him.
Tom Ellis and D.B. Woodside in Fox’s Lucifer
Conceptually, the show is a lot like last year’s ill-fated ‘Constantine’ show on NBC. Both have a charming bad-boy Brit in the title role. Both have an angel that has his own agenda and doesn’t really care much about our protagonist. Lucifer and Constantine both have perky female characters along with them who have their own dark pasts.Tom Ellis is Lucifer. Ellis appeared in the USA series ‘Rush’ a couple of years back, and has been in a lot of English stuff. Including ‘The Fades’ *sigh*. He even played Robin Hood briefly on ‘Once Upon a Time’ before they cast Sean Maguire in the part. He’s competent as Lucifer, bringing the charm and snark as well as the occasional hint of something darker
Tom Ellis in Fox’s Lucifer
Lauren German is Chloe, who has been a regular on a couple of shows like ‘Chicago Fire’ and the new ‘Hawaii Five-0’. She’s equally competent here.Rounding out the cast are Lesley-Ann Brandt and D.B. Woodside as the respective demon and angel that are there to get Lucifer back on-track. Rachael Harris as a therapist who ends up counseling Lucifer and having sex with him at the same time, and Scarlett Estevez as Trixie, Chloe’s daughter. Kevin Alejandro is set to play Dan, Chloe’s ex and a fellow police detective, but he’s played by Nicholas Gonzales in the pilot.The pilot is written by Tom Kapinos, who has done a lot of ‘Californation’ episode. The writing is the highlight of the show, but it… varies. There are the obvious riffs by Lucifer when someone says, “Oh God!”, and since he’s in LA, Lucifer tends to get mistaken for some kind of celebrity because of his name. He takes everything literally, such as Chloe talking about how large his cajones are, but it’s hard to determine if this is just mediocre writing, or Kapinos is trying to convey that Lucifer is so used to being king of his kingdom that he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks or does.
Lauren German in Fox’s Lucifer
Lucifer’s snark so far really isn’t up to the levels of the great TV Satans: John Glover in ‘Brimstone’ and Ray Wise in ‘Reaper’.Another problem with the show is that Chloe has almost too much baggage. Like Lucifer, the family scenes give me IBS. Chloe has a past as a teenage actress who did nudity (??). She’s a pariah on the force because of a bad call on an officer shooting years ago. She has a cute kid. She has an ex-husband. She has daddy issues. She has mommy issues. At the end of the pilot, Lucifer meets with his therapist, However, you’d think that Chloe is the one who needs decades of counseling.And finally… right now it’s a crime drama. Nobody can resist Lucifer’s power, and he’s immune to bullets. So presumably they’ll be dragging in some supernatural elements at some point. Because otherwise Lucifer makes a pretty overpowering private investigator. The case in the pilot isn’t any different than you’d find in a dozen other crime dramas. It’s not a bad crime drama, but it’s not a particularly exciting one, either.
Tom Ellis and John Pankow in Fox’s Lucifer
So if you hate supernatural stuff, you probably want them to stop with the angelic appearances and get on to crime fighting. If you’re here for the supernatural stuff, you’re probably bored with the procedural elements. Setting it in LA and involving actors and singers makes it a little more interesting. But not much.Of course, that’s all just going by the pilot. A large chunk of pilots are produced by different teams than the ones that end up producing the series duri
Source: Tis Better to Star on Fox..
Won “Best Picture” in 1982 for an Oscar, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. Music won a 1983 Grammy. Many more awards
Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British historical drama film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice.
Theme Song Trailer