The sun sears the earth from a cloudless sky early the next afternoon as Margeaux casually picks flowers from her garden to set on the tables in the cabaret for the evening's supper hour. Singing softly to herself, she tries to take her mind away from last night's events, knowing that to allow thoughts of spies and mysteries to continually torment her only serves to darken her mood. Suddenly, she hears footsteps treading from somewhere behind her, and startled, she turns to confront whoever would surprise her that way. It is with relief that she sees it is Lisette coming down the path, and Margeaux greets her warmly with a smile and an admonition.
"My goodness, Lisette, you nearly scared me half to death!"
"Sorry, you looked like you could use some help!" Lisette smiles back as she takes the flowers from Margeaux' arms and put them into a basket she had brought with her. Then indicating that Margeaux should continue, Lisette offers to carry the basket for her as they walk.
"You're here early", Margeaux says.
"I wasn't doing anything anyway," Lisette replies. "Since the Germans seem to be everywhere now, I would rather be here among friends than at home by myself. I never used to be afraid to be at home alone, but now..." She let the thought remain unspoken although the implication was clear.
"These are indeed frightening times," Margeaux says, eyes downcast, an expression of sadness cascading over her features as she contemplates the daisy in her hand. Shaking her head slightly as if to dislodge the thoughts residing there, she smiles and places the daisy in the basket Lisette holds out to her. "You should consider moving in with me until this is over. There is no need for you to be by yourself at a time like this."
Lisette's pleasure is immediately obvious.
But drawing up short, she says, "Oh, Margeaux, I can't impose on you like that. You have enough to worry about without me adding to your burdens."
"Don't be silly! You would never be a burden. In fact, you would be a welcome distraction just now." Margeaux places another handful of flowers into Lisette's outstretched palm.
Having warmed to the idea, she adds, "Please say you will stay with me for awhile."
Pondering only a moment, Lisette agrees with a bob of her head and a broad smile.
"Good," Margeaux says. "You can go get your things as soon as we're finished here if you want."
Lisette nods, but then is soon distracted. "Looks like you've got a visitor."
Margeaux looks to where she points and sees that Herr von Warner is striding toward them. She greets him with a quizzical expression as he draws up beside her.
"Good afternoon, ladies," he says politely before he turns to address Margeaux specifically. "May I speak with you for a moment, Mademoiselle Jumeau?"
"Certainly," Margeaux responds. When it is obvious that Lisette would prefer to stay and listen, Margeaux adds, "Lisette, now would be a good time for you to get your things. I'll take over from here." She gives her a reassuring look as she takes the basket from her hands.
"Well, if you're sure," Lisette says slowly. "I'll be back soon." She looks from one to the other and then sends a warning glance Herr von Warner's way as if to imply that he would have her to deal with if anything untoward were to happen to her friend. His polite expression gives nothing away as she turns to leave, and finally, reluctantly, she makes her way back from where she had come.
"I trust you slept well last night," he begins after Lisette is out of earshot.
Flustered, Margeaux feels the heat creep slowly but steadily into her face. Afraid to meet his gaze, she says, "I slept very well, thank you. I hadn't exactly expected you to keep watch, however."
The hint of a smile plays over his fair complexion as he studies her. Her discomfort is oddly attractive, but he must not let himself be swayed from the purpose of his visit. "I saw nothing out of the ordinary during the hours I was outside your window, but I heard this morning that some of our troops were attacked during the night."
Not quite following his train of thought, she asks, "What does that have to do with me?"
Reaching out to touch a lock of her silken hair, he replies, "The information about their location was leaked intentionally last night." At her questioning look, he continues, "From your establishment."
As the implication of his words dawns upon her, her expression turns to apprehension and then fear. "Who...?" she asks.
"We don't know," he says simply.
Michelle plops unceremoniously into a chair at the table where Margeaux sits later that afternoon. A rehearsal of the evening show is underway, and as usual, Michelle has something she wants to say.
Margeaux struggles to hide her impatience and tries to stay calm as she waits for Michelle to begin what is bound to be another complaint about the amount of time she is allotted to spend on stage that evening. It is ground they cover often, but Michelle insists on the ritual anyway, even though she must know that she will not get her way.
Michelle sighs loudly then begins, "I think I should have the solo in the second set."
"We talked about this and decided that you needed the time to rest between the opening and your dance routine later in the set."
"I know, but I think I can do it," Michelle pouts. "I really want to try out my new song. I just know everyone will love it," she laments.
"We've been through this already, Michelle. We don't have room in this program with what we've already got planned. Maybe we can use it next week."
Margeaux' weary expression stays Michelle's objections, and finally, as it is apparent that she will get nowhere today, she gets up to leave, but makes it plain by the way she stalks off that she is not happy with the outcome of their conversation.
Jacques walks up to the table and asks, "is she at it again?"
Margeaux looks up at him and smiles, then nods in reply. "It wouldn't be a typical day if she didn't have a complaint of some kind."
She looks up at the stage where several of the performers are rehearsing various parts of their routines. "I almost think I would be disappointed if she didn't at least try to take over. It would make me wonder what she was up to."
She is slightly amused as she contemplates it. But she is also aware that Michelle is discontented and has been for quite some time. As she looks at her on the stage, she wonders, "Is she the one?"
Then she dismisses the thought from her head as she realizes that she is having a hard time trusting almost everyone right now.
Turning her attention to Jacques, she indicates that he should sit down. For a moment, she thinks about taking him into her confidence, but then thinks better of it, not wanting to burden him with the same doubts she is now having about virtually everyone around her. Besides, she thinks, she doesn't want him to be in the danger she feels she herself is now in.
"I saw that German officer here earlier. What did he want?" Jacques abruptly inquired.
Momentarily taken aback, Margeaux replies rather quickly.
"He just wondered what time the show was starting tonight," she lied.
Jacques doesn't notice her discomfort.
"I just don't like those German guys taking over this place."
Then looking directly at her, he says,
"He seems to be interested in you."
Margeaux looks sharply at him: the possibility of what he is saying has occurred to her, but somehow, by refusing to verbalize these thoughts even to herself, they had been unrealistic. Now that someone else has noticed, the idea of it staggers her.
"But he is German," she says now. "He must know I abhor the fact that they have taken over our country and try to sway us to their morbid beliefs."
"I'd be careful if I were you," Jacques warns. "I think he has more in mind for you than you realize."
Somehow Margeaux gets through that evening. Michelle performs her routines beautifully and without trouble.
Mathieu, as usual, has outdone himself and even receives a standing ovation at the end of his second dance number.
And Margeaux, as she has always done, holds the crowd spellbound as she sets the mood with her husky rendition of an old French ballad.
It is customary at La Femme Jolie to end the evening on a positive note, and a rousing song and dance number usually accomplishes this so that feet tap gaily as patrons make their way to the door to head home. Tonight is no different, and Margeaux is satisfied as she locks the door behind her last customer of the evening, a broad smile and a cheery farewell accompany him on his way out. Looking over, she sees Lisette and Jacques in conversation as they count their tips for the night. Since they seem to occasionally glance her way, Margeaux decides to find out what it is they are talking about since it seems to involve her in some way.
"We just realized that Herr von Warner didn't come in tonight," Lisette says with a wink.
Margeaux turns away with a smile, outwardly appreciating the friendly teasing. But inwardly, she admits to herself that she had noticed long before the evening was over that he hadn't been there, and that surprisingly enough, she has been disappointed. Now, it isn't just spies who prey upon her beleaguered mind.
Again tonight, after having seen Lisette settled in for the evening, Margeaux stares out the window before she turns in for the night, perhaps looking for the man who has appointed himself her protector. She sees him now, standing in the same spot as before, watching her with no apparent expression at all.
Can he see the longing on her face? Is the light from the quarter moon enough to bring her features into focus for him? When he raises two fingers in salute, she knows he has seen her. Tonight, she will sleep as she hasn't in days, knowing that she is well protected. Now will not be the time to think about the fact that he is German, and therefore, inaccessible to her by virtue of her own values. To think it even possible is pure folly, so it is best not to think of it at all.