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Novel to Film | Linda and Fabrice

Novel | Script | Film


Linda and Fabrice
From The Pursuit of Love
Excerpted from chapters 16 and 17

Sad and tired as Linda was, she could not but perceive the beauty of Paris that summer morning as she drove across it to the Gare du Nord. Paris in the early morning has a cheerful, bustling aspect, a promise of delicious things to come, a positive smell of coffee and croissants, quite peculiar to itself.

The people welcome a new day as if they were certain of liking it, the shopkeepers pull up their blinds serene in the expectation of good trade, the workers go happily to their work, the people who have sat up all night in night-clubs go happily to their rest, the orchestra of motor-car horns, of clanking trams, of whistling policemen tunes up for the daily symphony, and everywhere is joy. This joy, this life, this beauty did but underline poor Linda's fatigue and sadness, she felt it but was not of it. She turned her thoughts to old familiar London, she longed above all for her own bed, feeling as does a wounded beast when it crawls home to its lair. She only wanted to sleep undisturbed in her own bedroom.

But when she presented her return ticket at the Gare du Nord she was told, furiously, loudly and unsympathetically, that it had expired.

"See, Madame -- May 29th. Today's the 30th, isn't it? So -- !" Tremendous shruggings.

Linda was paralysed with horror. Her 18s. 6d. was by now down to 6s. 3d. hardly enough for a meal. She knew nobody in Paris, she had absolutely no idea what she ought to do, she was too tired and too hungry to think clearly. She stood like a statue of despair. Her porter, tired of waiting beside a statue of despair, deposited the luggage at its feet and went grumbling off. Linda sank onto her suitcase and began to cry; nothing so dreadful had ever happened to her before. She cried bitterly, she could not stop. People passed to and fro as if weeping ladies were the most ordinary phenomenon at the Gare du Nord. "Fiends! Fiends!" she sobbed. Why had she not listened to her father, why had she ever come to this bloody abroad? Who would help her? In London there was a society, she knew, which looked after ladies stranded at railway stations; here, more likely, there would be one for shipping them off to South America. At any moment now somebody, some genial-looking old woman might come up and give her an injection, after which she would disappear forever.

She became aware that somebody was standing beside her, not an old lady, but a short, stocky, very dark Frenchman in a black Homburg hat. He was laughing. Linda took no notice, but went on crying. The more she cried the more he laughed. Her tears were tears of rage now, no longer of self-pity.

At last she said, in a voice which was meant to be angrily impressive, but which squeaked and shook through her handkerchief:

"Leave me alone."

For answer he took her hand and pulled her to her feet.

"Hello, hello," he said.

"Will you please leave me alone?" said Linda, rather more doubtfully, here at least was a human being who showed signs of taking some interest in her. Then she thought of South America.

"I should like to point out that I am not," she said, "a white slave. I am the daughter of a very important British nobleman."

The Frenchman gave a great bellow of laughter.

"One does not," he said in the nearly perfect English of somebody who has spoken it from a child, "have to be Sherlock Holmes to guess that."

Linda was rather annoyed. An Englishwoman abroad may be proud of her nationality and her virtue without wishing them to jump so conclusively to the eye.

"French ladies," he went on, "covered with the outward signs of wealth never sit crying on their suitcases at the Gare du Nord in the very early morning, while white slaves always have protectors, and it is only too clear that you are unprotected just now."

This sounded all right, and Linda was mollified.

"Now," he said, "I invite you to luncheon with me, but first you must have a bath and rest and a cold compress on your face."

He picked up her luggage and walked to a taxi.

"Get in, please."

Linda got in. She was far from certain that this was not the road to Buenos Aires, but something made her do as he said. Her powers of resistance were at an end, and she really saw no alternative.

"Hotel Montalembert," he told the taxi man. "Rue du Bac. I apologize, madame, for not taking you to the Ritz, but I have a feeling for the Hotel Montalembert just now, that it will suit your mood this morning."

Linda sat upright in her corner of the taxi, looking, she hoped, very prim. As she could not think of anything pertinent to say she remained silent. Her companion hummed a little tune, and seemed vastly amused. When they arrived at the hotel, he took a room for her, told the liftman to show her to it, told the concierge to send her up a café complet, kissed her hand, and said:

"Good-bye for the present -- I will fetch you a little before one o'clock and we will go out to luncheon."

Linda had her bath and breakfast and got into bed. When the telephone bell rang she was so sound asleep that it was a struggle to wake up.

"A gentleman is waiting for you, Madame."

"Say I will be right down," said Linda, but it took her quite half an hour to get ready.

"Ah! You keep me waiting," he said, kissing her hand, or at least making a gesture of raising her hand towards his lips and then dropping it rather suddenly. "That is a very good sign."

"Sign of what?" said Linda. He had a two-seater outside the hotel and she got into it. She was feeling more like herself again.

"Oh, of this and that," he said, letting in the clutch, "a good augury for our affair, that it will be happy and last long."

Linda became intensely stiff, English and embarrassed, and said, self-consciously:

"We are not having an affair."

"My name is Fabrice -- may one ask yours?"

"Linda."

"Linda. What a pretty name! With me, it usually lasts five years."


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The Script

Fabrice and Linda
From the screenplay by Debora Moogach

Interior: Paris. Gare Du Nord
It's morning, and the Gare du Nord is bustling with people. Linda looks terrible after her sleepless night. She drags her suitcase over to a train official and shows him her ticket. He shakes his head, pointing at the ticket, and leaves her. Linda looks utterly undone.


Linda: Oh, monsieur, un moment, monsieur. Le train pour Londres, s'il vous plait?

(Oh, monsieur, just a moment, monsieur. The train for London, please?

Ticket Collector: Mais voyez-vous madame, c'etait pour let vingt neuf et nous sommes en le trente.

(But you see, madame, this is for the 29th and this is the 30th.)

Linda: Qu'est ce que c'est que je fais maintenant?

(What do I do now?)

Ticket Collector: Vous prenez un autre train.

(You must take another train.)

Linda: Je n'ai pas d'argent!

(I have no money.)

She bursts into tears and sits on her luggage, weeping bitterly. People walk past her, brisk and unconcerned. A train hoots; the sound of an engine chuff-chuffing as a train pulls out of the station. A cloud of smoke. As the smoke clears, Linda looks up. A very charming Frenchman is standing there. It is Fabrice, who we last saw at the Hampton weekend party, years ago. He is laughing. Linda is furious, and waves him away with her handkerchief.

Linda: Allez vous en!

(Go on!)

He takes no notice, and pulls her to her feet.

Fabrice: Bonjour.

(Hello)

Linda: Voulez-vous en allez? Je ne suis pas une...er, une esclave blanche. Je suis la fille d'un tres important lord anglais.

(Will you go please? I am not a... er, white slave. I am the daughter of a very important English lord.)

Fabrice: One does not have to be Sherlock Holmes to guess that.

Linda, annoyed, dusts herself down and glares at him.

Linda: Why?

Fabrice: French ladies never, never sit crying on their suitcases at the Gare du Nord in the very early morning -- while white slaves always have protectors, and it is only too clear that you are unprotected just now.

Linda sniffs. He gives her a clean handkerchief and she blows her nose.

Linda: My return ticket's expired.

Fabrice: Now? I invite you to luncheon with me, but first you must have a bath and rest and a cold compress on your face.

He picks up her luggage. She still looks doubtful, but has no powers of resistance any more.


Exterior Paris street
Fabrice speaking to a taxi driver.


Fabrice: Hotel Montalembert, Rue du Bac.

(To Linda) Je m'excuse, madame, for not taking you to the Ritz, but I have a feeling for the Hotel Montalembert just now, that it will suit your mood this morning?

Linda, looking somewhat bemused, gets in.

Fabrice: I will fetch you a little before one o'clock...

The taxi drives off.


Exterior Paris. Hotel Montalembert.
Fabrice and Linda are leaving the Hotel Montalembert and going off to lunch.


Fabrice: You kept me waiting. That is a very good sign.

Linda: Sign of what?

Fabrice: That our affair will be happy, and last long.

Linda: We are not having an affair.

Fabrice: My name is Fabrice. May I ask yours?

Linda: Linda.

Fabrice: Linda -- comme c'est jolie. (Linda -- that's pretty.) With me, it usually lasts five years.

She reacts.


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The Film

Linda and Fabrice
From the film, directed by Tom Hooper

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