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Act II. The Poet's Eating-House.
Ragueneau's cook and pastry-shop. A large kitchen at the corner of the Rue St. Honore and the Rue de l'Arbre Sec, which are seen in the background through the glass door, in the gray dawn.
On the left, in the foreground, a counter, surmounted by a stand in forged iron, on which are hung geese, ducks, and water peacocks. In great china vases are tall bouquets of simple flowers, principally yellow sunflowers.
On the same side, farther back, an immense open fireplace, in front of which, between monster firedogs, on each of which hangs a little saucepan; the roasts are dripping into the pans.
On the right, foreground with door.
Farther back, staircase leading to a little room under the roof, the entrance of which is visible through the open shutter. In this room a table is laid. A small Flemish luster is alight. It is a place for eating and drinking. A wooden gallery, continuing the staircase, apparently leads to other similar little rooms.
In the middle of the shop an iron hoop is suspended from the ceiling by a string with which it can be drawn up and down, and big game is hung around it.
The ovens in the darkness under the stairs give forth a red glow. The copper pans shine. The spits are turning. Heaps of food formed into pyramids. Hams suspended. It is the busy hour of the morning. Bustle and hurry of scullions, fat cooks, and diminutive apprentices, their caps profusely decorated with cock's feathers and wings of guinea-fowl.
On metal and wicker plates they are bringing in piles of cakes and tarts.
Tables laden with rolls and dishes of food. Other tables surrounded with chairs are ready for the consumers.
A small table in a corner covered with papers, at which Ragueneau is seated writing on the rising of the curtain.
Ragueneau, pastry-cooks, then Lise. Ragueneau is writing, with an inspired air, at a small table, and counting on his fingers.
FIRST PASTRY-COOK (bringing in an elaborate fancy dish):
Fruits in nougat!
SECOND PASTRY-COOK (bringing another dish):
THIRD PASTRY-COOK (bringing a roast, decorated with feathers):
FOURTH PASTRY-COOK (bringing a batch of cakes on a slab):
FIFTH PASTRY-COOK (bringing a sort of pie-dish):
RAGUENEAU (ceasing to write, and raising his head):
Aurora's silver rays begin to glint e'en now on the copper pans, and thou, O
Ragueneau! must perforce stifle in thy breast the God of Song! Anon shall
come the hour of the lute! - now 'tis the hour of the oven!
(He rises. To a cook):
You, make that sauce longer, 'tis too short!
How much too short?
(He passes on farther.)
What means he?
FIRST PASTRY-COOK (showing a dish to Ragueneau):
RAGUENEAU (before the fire):
My muse, retire, lest thy bright eyes be reddened by the fagot's blaze!
(To a cook, showing him some loaves):
You have put the cleft o' th' loaves in the wrong place; know you not that
the coesura should be between the hemistiches?
(To another, showing him an unfinished pasty):
To this palace of paste you must add the roof. . .
(To a young apprentice, who, seated on the ground, is spitting the fowls):
And you, as you put on your lengthy spit the modest fowl and the superb
turkey, my son, alternate them, as the old Malherbe loved well to alternate
his long lines of verse with the short ones; thus shall your roasts, in
strophes, turn before the flame!
ANOTHER APPRENTICE (also coming up with a tray covered by a napkin):
Master, I bethought me erewhile of your tastes, and made this, which will
please you, I hope.
(He uncovers the tray, and shows a large lyre made of pastry.)
'Tis of brioche pastry.
With conserved fruits.
The strings, see, are of sugar.
RAGUENEAU (giving him a coin):
Go, drink my health!
(Seeing Lise enter):
Hush! My wife. Bustle, pass on, and hide that money!
(To Lise, showing her the lyre, with a conscious look):
Is it not beautiful?
'Tis passing silly!
(She puts a pile of papers on the counter.)
Bags? Good. I thank you.
(He looks at them):
Heavens! my cherished leaves! The poems of my friends! Torn, dismembered,
to make bags for holding biscuits and cakes!. . .Ah, 'tis the old tale again.
. .Orpheus and the Bacchantes!
And am I not free to turn at last to some use the sole thing that your
wretched scribblers of halting lines leave behind them by way of payment?
Groveling ant!. . .Insult not the divine grasshoppers, the sweet singers!
Before you were the sworn comrade of all that crew, my friend, you did not
call your wife ant and Bacchante!
To turn fair verse to such a use!
'Faith, 'tis all it's good for.
Pray then, madam, to what use would you degrade prose?
The same. Two children, who have just trotted into the shop.
What would you, little ones?
RAGUENEAU (serving them):
See, hot and well browned.
If it please you, Sir, will you wrap them up for us?
RAGUENEAU (aside, distressed):
Alas! one of my bags!
(To the children):
What? Must I wrap them up?
(He takes a bag, and just as he is about to put in the pies, he reads):
'Ulysses thus, on leaving fair Penelope. . .'
Not that one!
(He puts it aside, and takes another, and as he is about to put in the pies,
'The gold-locked Phoebus. . .'
Nay, nor that one!. . .
What are you dallying for?
Here! here! here
(He chooses a third, resignedly):
The sonnet to Phillis!. . .but 'tis hard to part with it!
By good luck he has made up his mind at last!
(Shrugging her shoulders):
(She mounts on a chair, and begins to range plates on a dresser.)
RAGUENEAU (taking advantage of the moment she turns her back, calls back the
children, who are already at the door):
Hist! children!. . .render me back the sonnet to Phillis, and you shall have
six pies instead of three.
(The children give him back the bag, seize the cakes quickly, and go out.)
RAGUENEAU (smoothing out the paper, begins to declaim):
'Phillis!. . .' On that sweet name a smear of butter! 'Phillis!. . .'
(Cyrano enters hurriedly.)
Ragueneau, Lise, Cyrano, then the musketeer.
RAGUENEAU (bowing low):
CYRANO (with emotion):
In one hour's time!
(He paces up and down the shop.)
RAGUENEAU (following him):
Bravo! I saw. . .
Well, what saw you, then?
Your combat!. . .
That in the Burgundy Hotel, 'faith!
Ah!. . .the duel!
Ay! the duel in verse!. . .
He can talk of naught else!
Well! Good! let be!
RAGUENEAU (making passes with a spit that he catches up):
'At the envoi's end, I touch!. . .At the envoi's end, I touch!'. . .'Tis
(With increasing enthusiasm):
'At the envoi's end - '
What hour is it now, Ragueneau?
RAGUENEAU (stopping short in the act of thrusting to look at the clock):
Five minutes after six!. . .'I touch!'
(He straightens himself):
. . .Oh! to write a ballade!
LISE (to Cyrano, who, as he passes by the counter, has absently shaken hands
What's wrong with your hand?
Naught; a slight cut.
Have you been in some danger?
None in the world.
LISE (shaking her finger at him):
Methinks you speak not the truth in saying that!
Did you see my nose quiver when I spoke? 'Faith, it must have been a
monstrous lie that should move it!
(Changing his tone):
I wait some one here. Leave us alone, and disturb us for naught an it were
not for crack of doom!
But 'tis impossible; my poets are coming. . .
Oh, ay, for their first meal o' the day!
Prythee, take them aside when I shall make you sign to do so. . .What's
Ten minutes after six.
CYRANO (nervously seating himself at Ragueneau's table, and drawing some paper
A pen!. . .
RAGUENEAU (giving him the one from behind his ear):
Here - a swan's quill.
A MUSKETEER (with fierce mustache, enters, and in a stentorian voice):
(Lise goes up to him quickly.)
CYRANO (turning round):
'Tis a friend of my wife - a terrible warrior - at least so says he himself.
CYRANO (taking up the pen, and motioning Ragueneau away):
I will write, fold it, give it her, and fly!
(Throws down the pen):
Coward!. . .But strike me dead if I dare to speak to her,. . .ay, even one
What time is it?
A quarter after six!. . .
CYRANO (striking his breast):
Ay - a single word of all those here! here! But writing, 'tis easier done. .
(He takes up the pen):
Go to, I will write it, that love-letter! Oh! I have writ it and rewrit it
in my own mind so oft that it lies there ready for pen and ink; and if I lay
but my soul by my letter-sheet, 'tis naught to do but to copy from it.
(He writes. Through the glass of the door the silhouettes of their figures
move uncertainly and hesitatingly.)
Ragueneau, Lise, the musketeer. Cyrano at the little table writing. The
poets, dressed in black, their stockings ungartered, and covered with mud.
LISE (entering, to Ragueneau):
Here they come, your mud-bespattered friends!
FIRST POET (entering, to Ragueneau):
Brother in art!. . .
SECOND POET (to Ragueneau, shaking his hands):
High soaring eagle among pastry-cooks!
Marry! it smells good here in your eyrie!
'Tis at Phoebus' own rays that thy roasts turn!
Apollo among master-cooks -
RAGUENEAU (whom they surround and embrace):
Ah! how quick a man feels at his ease with them!. . .
We were stayed by the mob; they are crowded all round the Porte de Nesle!. .
Eight bleeding brigand carcasses strew the pavements there - all slit open
CYRANO (raising his head a minute):
Eight?. . .hold, methought seven.
(He goes on writing.)
RAGUENEAU (to Cyrano):
Know you who might be the hero of the fray?
LISE (to the musketeer):
And you? Know you?
THE MUSKETEER (twirling his mustache):
CYRANO (writing a little way off: - he is heard murmuring a word from time to
'I love thee!'
'Twas one man, say they all, ay, swear to it, one man who, single-handed,
put the whole band to the rout!
'Twas a strange sight! - pikes and cudgels strewed thick upon the ground.
. . .'Thine eyes'. . .
And they were picking up hats all the way to the Quai d'Orfevres!
Sapristi! but he must have been a ferocious. . .
CYRANO (same play):
. . .'Thy lips'. . .
'Twas a parlous fearsome giant that was the author of such exploits!
CYRANO (same play):
. . .'And when I see thee come, I faint for fear.'
SECOND POET (filching a cake):
What hast rhymed of late, Ragueneau?
CYRANO (same play):
. . .'Who worships thee'. . .
(He stops, just as he is about to sign, and gets up, slipping the letter into
No need I sign, since I give it her myself.
RAGUENEAU (to second poet):
I have put a recipe into verse.
THIRD POET (seating himself by a plate of cream-puffs):
Go to! Let us hear these verses!
FOURTH POET (looking at a cake which he has taken):
Its cap is all a' one side!
(He makes one bite of the top.)
See how this gingerbread woos the famished rhymer with its almond eyes, and
its eyebrows of angelica!
(He takes it.)
THIRD POET (squeezing a cream-puff gently):
How it laughs! Till its very cream runs over!
SECOND POET (biting a bit off the great lyre of pastry):
This is the first time in my life that ever I drew any means of nourishing
me from the lyre!
RAGUENEAU (who has put himself ready for reciting, cleared his throat, settled
his cap, struck an attitude):
A recipe in verse!. . .
SECOND POET (to first, nudging him):
You are breakfasting?
FIRST POET (to second):
And you dining, methinks.
How almond tartlets are made.
Beat your eggs up, light and quick;
Froth them thick;
Mingle with them while you beat
Juice of lemon, essence fine;
The burst milk of almonds sweet.
Circle with a custard paste
The slim waist
Of your tartlet-molds; the top
With a skillful finger print,
Nick and dint,
Round their edge, then, drop by drop,
In its little dainty bed
Your cream shed:
In the oven place each mold:
Reappearing, softly browned,
Almond tartlets you behold!
THE POETS (with mouths crammed full):
A POET (choking):
(They go up, eating.)
CYRANO (who has been watching, goes toward Ragueneau):
Lulled by your voice, did you see how they were stuffing themselves?
RAGUENEAU (in a low voice, smiling):
Oh, ay! I see well enough, but I never will seem to look, fearing to
distress them; thus I gain a double pleasure when I recite to them my poems;
for I leave those poor fellows who have not breakfasted free to eat, even
while I gratify my own dearest foible, see you?
CYRANO (clapping him on the shoulder):
Friend, I like you right well!. . .
(Ragueneau goes after his friends. Cyrano follows him with his eyes, then,
Ho there! Lise!
(Lise, who is talking tenderly to the musketeer, starts, and comes down toward
So this fine captain is laying siege to you?
One haughty glance of my eye can conquer any man that should dare venture
aught 'gainst my virtue.
Pooh! Conquering eyes, methinks, are oft conquered eyes.
LISE (choking with anger):
I like Ragueneau well, and so - mark me, Dame Lise - I permit not that he be
rendered a laughing-stock by any. . .
But. . .
CYRANO (who has raised his voice so as to be heard by the gallant):
A word to the wise. . .
(He bows to the musketeer, and goes to the doorway to watch, after looking at
LISE (to the musketeer, who has merely bowed in answer to Cyrano's bow):
How now? Is this your courage?. . .Why turn you not a jest on his nose?
On his nose?. . .ay, ay. . .his nose.
(He goes quickly farther away; Lise follows him.)
CYRANO (from the doorway, signing to Ragueneau to draw the poets away):
Hist!. . .
RAGUENEAU (showing them the door on the right):
We shall be more private there. . .
Hist! Hist!. . .
RAGUENEAU (drawing them farther):
To read poetry, 'tis better here. . .
FIRST POET (despairingly, with his mouth full):
What! leave the cakes?. . .
Never! Let's take them with us!
(They all follow Ragueneau in procession, after sweeping all the cakes off the
Cyrano, Roxane, the duenna.
Ah! if I see but the faint glimmer of hope, then I draw out my letter!
(Roxane, masked, followed by the duenna, appears at the glass pane of the
door. He opens quickly):
Enter!. . .
(Walking up to the duenna):
Two words with you, Duenna.
Four, Sir, an it like you.
Are you fond of sweet things?
Ay, I could eat myself sick on them!
CYRANO (catching up some of the paper bags from the counter):
Good. See you these two sonnets of Monsieur Beuserade. . .
. . .Which I fill for you with cream cakes!
THE DUENNA (changing her expression):
What say you to the cake they call a little puff?
If made with cream, Sir, I love them passing well.
Here I plunge six for your eating into the bosom of a poem by Saint Amant!
And in these verses of Chapelain I glide a lighter morsel. Stay, love you hot
Ay, to the core of my heart!
CYRANO (filling her arms with the bags):
Pleasure me then; go eat them all in the street.
But. . .
CYRANO (pushing her out):
And come not back till the very last crumb be eaten!
(He shuts the door, comes down toward Roxane, and, uncovering, stands at a
respectful distance from her.)
Blessed be the moment when you condescend -
Remembering that humbly I exist -
To come to meet me, and to say. . .to tell?. . .
ROXANE (who has unmasked):
To thank you first of all. That dandy count,
Whom you checkmated in brave sword-play
Last night,. . .he is the man whom a great lord,
Desirous of my favor. . .
Ha, De Guiche?
ROXANE (casting down her eyes):
Sought to impose on me. . .for husband. . .
Ay! Husband! - dupe-husband!. . .Husband a la mode!
Then I fought, happy chance! sweet lady, not
For my ill favor - but your favors fair!
Confession next!. . .But, ere I make my shrift,
You must be once again that brother-friend
With whom I used to play by the lake-side!. . .
Ay, you would come each spring to Bergerac!
Mind you the reeds you cut to make your swords?. . .
While you wove corn-straw plaits for your dolls' hair!
Those were the days of games!. . .
And blackberries!. . .
In those days you did everything I bid!. . .
Roxane, in her short frock, was Madeleine. . .
Was I fair then?
You were not ill to see!
Ofttimes, with hands all bloody from a fall,
You'd run to me! Then - aping mother-ways -
I, in a voice would-be severe, would chide, -
(She takes his hand):
'What is this scratch, again, that I see here?'
(She starts, surprised):
Oh! 'Tis too much! What's this?
(Cyrano tries to draw away his hand):
No, let me see!
At your age, fie! Where did you get that scratch?
I got it - playing at the Porte de Nesle.
ROXANE (seating herself by the table, and dipping her handkerchief in a glass
CYRANO (sitting by her):
So soft! so gay maternal-sweet!
And tell me, while I wipe away the blood,
How many 'gainst you?
Oh! A hundred - near.
Come, tell me!
No, let be. But you, come tell
The thing, just now, you dared not. . .
ROXANE (keeping his hand):
Now, I dare!
The scent of those old days emboldens me!
Yes, now I dare. Listen. I am in love.
Ah!. . .
But with one who knows not.
Ah!. . .
Ah!. . .
But who, if he knows not, soon shall learn.
Ah!. . .
A poor youth who all this time has loved
Timidly, from afar, and dares not speak. . .
Ah!. . .
Leave your hand; why, it is fever-hot! -
But I have seen love trembling on his lips.
Ah!. . .
ROXANE (bandaging his hand with her handkerchief):
And to think of it! that he by chance -
Yes, cousin, he is of your regiment!
Ah!. . .
- Is cadet in your own company!
Ah!. . .
On his brow he bears the genius-stamp;
He is proud, noble, young, intrepid, fair. . .
CYRANO (rising suddenly, very pale):
Why, what ails you?
Nothing; 'tis. . .
(He shows his hand, smiling):
I love him; all is said. But you must know
I have only seen him at the Comedy. . .
How? You have never spoken?
Eyes can speak.
How know you then that he. . .?
Oh! people talk
'Neath the limes in the Place Royale. . .
Has let me know. . .
He is cadet?
In the Guards.
Baron Christian de Neuvillette.
How now?. . .He is not of the Guards!
He is not join your ranks, under Captain
Carbon de Castel-Jaloux.
Ah, how quick,
How quick the heart has flown!. . .But, my poor child. . .
THE DUENNA (opening the door):
The cakes are eaten, Monsieur Bergerac!
Then read the verses printed on the bags!
(She goes out):
. . .My poor child, you who love but flowing words,
Bright wit, - what if he be a lout unskilled?
No, his bright locks, like D'Urfe's heroes. . .
A well-curled pate, and witless tongue, perchance!
Ah no! I guess - I feel - his words are fair!
All words are fair that lurk 'neath fair mustache!
- Suppose he were a fool!. . .
ROXANE (stamping her foot):
Then bury me!
CYRANO (after a pause):
Was it to tell me this you brought me here?
I fail to see what use this serves, Madame.
Nay, but I felt a terror, here, in the heart,
On learning yesterday you were Gascons
All of your company. . .
And we provoke
All beardless sprigs that favor dares admit
'Midst us pure Gascons - (pure! Heaven save the mark!
They told you that as well?
Ah! Think how I
Trembled for him!
CYRANO (between his teeth):
Last night I saw you, - brave, invincible, -
Punish that dandy, fearless hold your own
Against those brutes, I thought - I thought, if he
Whom all fear, all - if he would only. . .
I will befriend your little Baron.
You'll promise me you will do this for me?
I've always held you as a tender friend.
Then you will be his friend?
And he shall fight no duels, promise!
You are kind, cousin! Now I must be gone.
(She puts on her mask and veil quickly; then, absently):
You have not told me of your last night's fray.
Ah, but it must have been a hero-fight!. . .
- Bid him to write.
(She sends him a kiss with her fingers):
How good you are!
A hundred men against you? Now, farewell. -
We are great friends?
Oh, bid him write!
You'll tell me all one day - A hundred men! -
Ah, brave!. . .How brave!
CYRANO (bowing to her):
I have fought better since.
(She goes out. Cyrano stands motionless, with eyes on the ground. A silence.
The door (right) opens. Ragueneau looks in.)
Cyrano, Ragueneau, poets, Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, the cadets, a crowd, then
Can we come in?
CYRANO (without stirring):
Yes. . .
(Ragueneau signs to his friends, and they come in. At the same time, by door
at back, enters Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, in Captain's uniform. He makes
gestures of surprise on seeing Cyrano.)
Here he is!
CYRANO (raising his head):
Captain!. . .
Our hero! We heard all! Thirty or more
Of my cadets are there!. . .
CYRANO (shrinking back):
But. . .
CARBON (trying to draw him away):
Come with me!
They will not rest until they see you!
They're drinking opposite, at The Bear's Head.
I. . .
CARBON (going to the door and calling across the street in a voice of
He won't come! The hero's in the sulks!
A VOICE (outside):
(Tumult outside. Noise of boots and swords is heard approaching.)
CARBON (rubbing his hands):
They are running 'cross the street!
Mille dious! Capdedious! Pocapdedious!
RAGUENEAU (drawing back startled):
Gentlemen, are you all from Gascony?
A CADET (to Cyrano):
ANOTHER (shaking his hands):
I must embrace you!
Him, all in turn!
CYRANO (not knowing whom to reply to):
Baron!. . .Baron!. . .I beg. . .
Are you all Barons, Sirs?
Ay, every one!
Is it true?. . .
Ay - why, you could build a tower
With nothing but our coronets, my friend!
LE BRET (entering, and running up to Cyrano):
They're looking for you! Here's a crazy mob
Led by the men who followed you last night. . .
What! Have you told them where to find me?
LE BRET (rubbing his hands):
A BURGHER (entering, followed by a group of men):
Sir, all the Marais is a-coming here!
(Outside the street has filled with people. Chaises a porteurs and carriages
have drawn up.)
LE BRET (in a low voice, smiling, to Cyrano):
THE CROWD (calling outside):
Cyrano!. . .
(A crowd rush into the shop, pushing one another. Acclamations.)
RAGUENEAU (standing on a table):
Lo! my shop
Invaded! They break all! Magnificent!
PEOPLE (crowding round Cyrano):
My friend!. . .my friend. . .
Meseems that yesterday
I had not all these friends!
LE BRET (delighted):
A YOUNG MARQUIS (hurrying up with his hands held out):
Didst thou but know. . .
Thou!. . .Marry!. . .thou!. . .Pray when
Did we herd swine together, you and I!
I would present you, Sir, to some fair dames
Who in my carriage yonder. . .
Ah! and who
Will first present you, Sir, to me?
LE BRET (astonished):
A MAN OF LETTERS (with writing-board):
A few details?. . .
LE BRET (nudging his elbow):
Renaudet,. . .of the 'Court Gazette'!
This paper - but it is of great importance!. . .
They say it will be an immense success!
A POET (advancing):
Sir. . .
. . .Pray permit I make
A pentacrostic on your name. . .
SOME ONE (also advancing):
Pray, Sir. . .
(A movement in the crowd. De Guiche appears, escorted by officers. Cuigy,
Brissaille, the officers who went with Cyrano the night before. Cuigy comes
rapidly up to Cyrano.)
CUIGY (to Cyrano):
Here is Monsieur de Guiche?
(A murmur - every one makes way):
He comes from the Marshal of Gassion!
DE GUICHE (bowing to Cyrano):
. . .Who would express his admiration, Sir,
For your new exploit noised so loud abroad.
The Marshal is a judge of valor.
He could not have believed the thing, unless
These gentlemen had sworn they witnessed it.
With our own eyes!
LE BRET (aside to Cyrano, who has an absent air):
But. . .you. . .
But. . .You suffer?
Before this rabble? - I?. . .
(He draws himself up, twirls his mustache, and throws back his shoulders):
Wait!. . .You shall see!
DE GUICHE (to whom Cuigy has spoken in a low voice):
In feats of arms, already your career
Abounded. - You serve with those crazy pates
Ay, with the Cadets.
A CADET (in a terrible voice):
DE GUICHE (looking at the cadets, ranged behind Cyrano):
Ah!. . .All these gentlemen of haughty mien,
Are they the famous?. . .
Since all my company's assembled here,
Pray favor me, - present them to my lord!
CYRANO (making two steps toward De Guiche):
My Lord de Guiche, permit that I present -
(pointing to the cadets):
The bold Cadets of Gascony,
Of Carbon of Castel-Jaloux!
Brawling and swaggering boastfully,
The bold Cadets of Gascony!
Spouting of Armory, Heraldry,
Their veins a-brimming with blood so blue,
The bold Cadets of Gascony,
Of Carbon of Castel-Jaloux:
Eagle-eye, and spindle-shanks,
Fierce mustache, and wolfish tooth!
Slash-the-rabble and scatter-their-ranks;
Eagle-eye and spindle-shanks,
With a flaming feather that gayly pranks,
Hiding the holes in their hats, forsooth!
Eagle-eye and spindle-shanks,
Fierce mustache, and wolfish tooth!
'Pink-your-Doublet' and 'Slit-your-Trunk'
Are their gentlest sobriquets;
With Fame and Glory their soul is drunk!
'Pink-your-Doublet' and 'Slit-your-Trunk,'
In brawl and skirmish they show their spunk,
Give rendezvous in broil and fray;
'Pink-your-Doublet' and 'Slit-your-Trunk'
Are their gentlest sobriquets!
What, ho! Cadets of Gascony!
All jealous lovers are sport for you!
O Woman! dear divinity!
What, ho! Cadets of Gascony!
Whom scowling husbands quake to see.
Blow, 'taratara,' and cry 'Cuckoo.'
What, ho! Cadets of Gascony!
Husbands and lovers are game for you!
DE GUICHE (seated with haughty carelessness in an armchair brought quickly by
A poet! 'Tis the fashion of the hour!
- Will you be mine?
No, Sir, - no man's!
Your fancy pleased my uncle Richelieu.
I'll gladly say a word to him for you.
LE BRET (overjoyed):
I imagine you have rhymed
Five acts, or so?
LE BRET (in Cyrano's ear):
Your play! - your 'Agrippine!'
You'll see it staged at last!
Take them to him.
CYRANO (beginning to be tempted and attracted):
In sooth, - I would. . .
He is a critic skilled:
He may correct a line or two, at most.
CYRANO (whose face stiffens at once):
Impossible! My blood congeals to think
That other hand should change a comma's dot.
But when a verse approves itself to him
He pays it dear, good friend.
He pays less dear
Than I myself; when a verse pleases me
I pay myself, and sing it to myself!
You are proud.
Really? You have noticed that?
A CADET (entering, with a string of old battered plumed beaver hats, full of
holes, slung on his sword):
See, Cyrano, - this morning, on the quay
What strange bright-feathered game we caught!
O' the fugitives. . .
Ah! ah! ah!
He who laid that ambush, 'faith!
Must curse and swear!
Who was it?
(The laughter stops):
I charged them - work too dirty for my sword,
To punish and chastise a rhymster sot.
The CADET (in a low voice, to Cyrano, showing him the beavers):
What do with them? They're full of grease! - a stew?
CYRANO (taking the sword and, with a salute, dropping the hats at De Guiche's
Sir, pray be good enough to render them
Back to your friends.
DE GUICHE (rising, sharply):
My chair there - quick! - I go!
(To Cyrano passionately):
As to you, sirrah!. . .
VOICE (in the street):
Porters for my lord De Guiche!
DE GUICHE (who has controlled himself - smiling):
Have you read 'Don Quixote'?
And doff my hat at th' mad knight-errant's name.
I counsel you to study. . .
A PORTER (appearing at back):
My lord's chair!
. . .The windmill chapter!
Chapter the Thirteenth.
For when one tilts 'gainst windmills - it may chance. . .
Tilt I 'gainst those who change with every breeze?
. . .That windmill sails may sweep you with their arm
Down - in the mire!. . .
Or upward - to the stars!
(De Guiche goes out, and mounts into his chair. The other lords go away
whispering together. Le Bret goes to the door with them. The crowd
Cyrano, Le Bret, the cadets, who are eating and drinking at the tables right
CYRANO (bowing mockingly to those who go out without daring to salute him):
Gentlemen. . .Gentlemen. . .
LE BRET (coming back, despairingly):
Here's a fine coil!
Oh! scold away!
At least, you will agree
That to annihilate each chance of Fate
Exaggerates. . .
Yes! - I exaggerate!
LE BRET (triumphantly):
But for principle - example too, -
I think 'tis well thus to exaggerate.
Oh! lay aside that pride of musketeer,
Fortune and glory wait you!. . .
Ay, and then?. . .
Seek a protector, choose a patron out,
And like the crawling ivy round a tree
That licks the bark to gain the trunk's support,
Climb high by creeping ruse instead of force?
No, grammercy! What! I, like all the rest
Dedicate verse to bankers? - play buffoon
In cringing hope to see, at last, a smile
Not disapproving, on a patron's lips?
Grammercy, no! What! learn to swallow toads?
- With frame aweary climbing stairs? - a skin
Grown grimed and horny, - here, about the knees?
And, acrobat-like, teach my back to bend? -
No, grammercy! Or, - double-faced and sly -
Run with the hare, while hunting with the hounds;
And, oily-tongued, to win the oil of praise,
Flatter the great man to his very nose?
No, grammercy! Steal soft from lap to lap,
- A little great man in a circle small,
Or navigate, with madrigals for sails,
Blown gently windward by old ladies' sighs?
No, grammercy! Bribe kindly editors
To spread abroad my verses? Grammercy!
Or try to be elected as the pope
Of tavern-councils held by imbeciles?
No, grammercy! Toil to gain reputation
By one small sonnet, 'stead of making many?
No, grammercy! Or flatter sorry bunglers?
Be terrorized by every prating paper?
Say ceaselessly, 'Oh, had I but the chance
Of a fair notice in the "Mercury"!'
Grammercy, no! Grow pale, fear, calculate?
Prefer to make a visit to a rhyme?
Seek introductions, draw petitions up?
No, grammercy! and no! and no again! But - sing?
Dream, laugh, go lightly, solitary, free,
With eyes that look straight forward - fearless voice!
To cock your beaver just the way you choose, -
For 'yes' or 'no' show fight, or turn a rhyme!
- To work without one thought of gain or fame,
To realize that journey to the moon!
Never to pen a line that has not sprung
Straight from the heart within. Embracing then
Modesty, say to oneself, 'Good my friend,
Be thou content with flowers, - fruit, - nay, leaves,
But pluck them from no garden but thine own!'
And then, if glory come by chance your way,
To pay no tribute unto Caesar, none,
But keep the merit all your own! In short,
Disdaining tendrils of the parasite,
To be content, if neither oak nor elm -
Not to mount high, perchance, but mount alone!
Alone, an if you will! But not with hand
'Gainst every man! How in the devil's name
Have you conceived this lunatic idea,
To make foes for yourself at every turn?
By dint of seeing you at every turn
Make friends, - and fawn upon your frequent friends
With mouth wide smiling, slit from ear to ear!
I pass, still unsaluted, joyfully,
And cry, - What, ho! another enemy?
Well, what if it be my vice,
My pleasure to displease - to love men hate me!
Ah, friend of mine, believe me, I march better
'Neath the cross-fire of glances inimical!
How droll the stains one sees on fine-laced doublets,
From gall of envy, or the poltroon's drivel!
- The enervating friendship which enfolds you
Is like an open-laced Italian collar,
Floating around your neck in woman's fashion;
One is at ease thus, - but less proud the carriage!
The forehead, free from mainstay or coercion,
Bends here, there, everywhere. But I, embracing
Hatred, she lends, - forbidding, stiffly fluted,
The ruff's starched folds that hold the head so rigid;
Each enemy - another fold - a gopher,
Who adds constraint, and adds a ray of glory;
For Hatred, like the ruff worn by the Spanish,
Grips like a vice, but frames you like a halo!
LE BRET (after a silence, taking his arm):
Speak proud aloud, and bitter! - In my ear
Whisper me simply this, - She loves thee not!
(Christian has just entered, and mingled with the cadets, who do not speak to
him; he has seated himself at a table, where Lise serves him.)
Cyrano, Le Bret, the cadets, Christian de Neuvillette.
A CADET (seated at a table, glass in hand):
(Cyrano turns round):
In its time!
(He goes up on Le Bret's arm. They talk in low voices.)
THE CADET (rising and coming down):
The story of the fray! 'Twill lesson well
(He stops before the table where Christian is seated):
This timid young apprentice!
CHRISTIAN (raising his head):
This sickly Northern greenhorn!
FIRST CADET (mockingly):
Monsieur de Neuvillette, this in your ear:
There's somewhat here, one no more dares to name,
Than to say 'rope' to one whose sire was hanged!
What may that be?
ANOTHER CADET (in a terrible voice):
(He puts his finger three times, mysteriously, on his nose):
Do you understand?
Oh! 'tis the. . .
Hush! oh, never breathe that word,
Unless you'd reckon with him yonder!
(He points to Cyrano, who is talking with Le Bret.)
ANOTHER (who has meanwhile come up noiselessly to sit on the table - whispering
He put two snuffling men to death, in rage,
For the sole reason they spoke through their nose!
ANOTHER (in a hollow voice, darting on all-fours from under the table, where
he had crept):
And if you would not perish in flower o' youth,
- Oh, mention not the fatal cartilage!
ANOTHER (clapping him on the shoulder):
A word? A gesture! For the indiscreet
His handkerchief may prove his winding-sheet!
(Silence. All, with crossed arms, look at Christian. He rises and goes over
to Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, who is talking to an officer, and feigns to see
CARBON (turning and looking at him from head to foot):
Pray, what skills it best to do
To Southerners who swagger?. . .
Give them proof
That one may be a Northerner, yet brave!
(He turns his back on him.)
I thank you.
FIRST CADET (to Cyrano):
Now the tale!
CYRANO (coming toward them):
The tale?. . .
(All bring their stools up, and group round him, listening eagerly. Christian
is astride a chair):
Well! I went all alone to meet the band.
The moon was shining, clock-like, full i' th' sky,
When, suddenly, some careful clockwright passed
A cloud of cotton-wool across the case
That held this silver watch. And, presto! heigh!
The night was inky black, and all the quays
Were hidden in the murky dark. Gadsooks!
One could see nothing further. . .
Than one's nose!
(Silence. All slowly rise, looking in terror at Cyrano, who has stopped -
Who on God's earth is that?
A CADET (whispering):
It is a man
Who joined to-day.
CYRANO (making a step toward Christian):
CARBON (in a low voice):
Yes. . .his name is
The Baron de Neuvil. . .
CYRANO (checking himself):
Good! It is well. . .
(He turns pale, flushes, makes as if to fall on Christian):
I. . .
(He controls himself):
What said I?. . .
(With a burst of rage):
MORDIOUS!. . .
(Then continues calmly):
That it was dark.
(Astonishment. The cadets reseat themselves, staring at him):
On I went, thinking, 'For a knavish cause
I may provoke some great man, some great prince,
Who certainly could break'. . .
My nose!. . .
(Every one starts up. Christian balances on his chair.)
CYRANO (in a choked voice):
. . .'My teeth!
Who would break my teeth, and I, imprudent-like,
Was poking. . .'
My nose!. . .
'My finger,. . .in the crack
Between the tree and bark! He may prove strong
And rap me. . .'
Over the nose. . .
CYRANO (wiping his forehead):
. . .'O' th' knuckles! Ay,'
But I cried, 'Forward, Gascon! Duty calls!
On, Cyrano!' And thus I ventured on. . .
When, from the shadow, came. . .
A crack o' th' nose.
I parry it - find myself. . .
Nose to nose. . .
CYRANO (bounding on to him):
Heaven and earth!
(All the Gascons leap up to see, but when he is close to Christian he controls
himself and continues):
. . .With a hundred brawling sots,
Who stank. . .
A noseful. . .
CYRANO (white, but smiling):
I leapt out, head well down. . .
Nosing the wind!
I charge! - gore two, impale one - run him through,
One aims at me - Paf! and I parry. . .
CYRANO (bursting out):
Great God! Out! all of you!
(The cadets rush to the doors.)
The tiger wakes!
Every man, out! Leave me alone with him!
We shall find him minced fine, minced into hash
In a big pasty!
I am turning pale,
And curl up, like a napkin, limp and white!
Let us be gone.
He will not leave a crumb!
I die of fright to think what will pass here!
ANOTHER (shutting door right):
Something too horrible!
(All have gone out by different doors, some by the staircase. Cyrano and
Christian are face to face, looking at each other for a moment.)
Embrace me now!
Sir. . .
You are brave.
Oh! but. . .
Nay, I insist.
Pray tell me. . .
Come, embrace! I am her brother.
Hers i' faith! Roxane's!
CHRISTIAN (rushing up to him):
Her brother. . .?
Cousin - brother!. . .the same thing!
And she has told you. . .?
She loves me? say!
CHRISTIAN (taking his hands):
How glad I am to meet you, Sir!
That may be called a sudden sentiment!
I ask your pardon. . .
CYRANO (looking at him, with his hand on his shoulder):
True, he's fair, the villain!
Ah, Sir! If you but knew my admiration!. . .
But all those noses?. . .
Oh! I take them back!
Roxane expects a letter.
Woe the day!
I am lost if I but ope my lips!
I am a fool - could die for shame!
None is a fool who knows himself a fool.
And you did not attack me like a fool.
Bah! One finds battle-cry to lead th' assault!
I have a certain military wit,
But, before women, can but hold my tongue.
Their eyes! True, when I pass, their eyes are kind. . .
And, when you stay, their hearts, methinks, are kinder?
No! for I am one of those men - tongue-tied,
I know it - who can never tell their love.
And I, meseems, had Nature been more kind,
More careful, when she fashioned me, - had been
One of those men who well could speak their love!
Oh, to express one's thoughts with facile grace!. . .
. . .To be a musketeer, with handsome face!
Roxane is precieuse. I'm sure to prove
A disappointment to her!
CYRANO (looking at him):
Had I but
Such an interpreter to speak my soul!
CHRISTIAN (with despair):
Eloquence! Where to find it?
That I lend,
If you lend me your handsome victor-charms;
Blended, we make a hero of romance!
Think you you can repeat what things
I daily teach your tongue?
What do you mean?
Roxane shall never have a disillusion!
Say, wilt thou that we woo her, double-handed?
Wilt thou that we two woo her, both together?
Feel'st thou, passing from my leather doublet,
Through thy laced doublet, all my soul inspiring?
But, Cyrano!. . .
Will you, I say?
Since, by yourself, you fear to chill her heart,
Will you - to kindle all her heart to flame -
Wed into one my phrases and your lips?
Your eyes flash!
Will it please you so?
- Give you such pleasure?
It!. . .
(Then calmly, business-like):
It would amuse me!
It is an enterprise to tempt a poet.
Will you complete me, and let me complete you?
You march victorious, - I go in your shadow;
Let me be wit for you, be you my beauty!
The letter, that she waits for even now!
I never can. . .
CYRANO (taking out the letter he had written):
See! Here it is - your letter!
Take it! Look, it wants but the address.
But I. . .
Fear nothing. Send it. It will suit.
But have you. . .?
Oh! We have our pockets full,
We poets, of love-letters, writ to Chloes,
Daphnes - creations of our noddle-heads.
Our lady-loves, - phantasms of our brains,
- Dream-fancies blown into soap-bubbles! Come!
Take it, and change feigned love-words into true;
I breathed my sighs and moans haphazard-wise;
Call all these wandering love-birds home to nest.
You'll see that I was in these lettered lines,
- Eloquent all the more, the less sincere!
- Take it, and make an end!
Were it not well
To change some words? Written haphazard-wise,
Will it fit Roxane?
'Twill fit like a glove!
But. . .
Ah, credulity of love! Roxane
Will think each word inspired by herself!
(He throws himself into Cyrano's arms. They remain thus.)
Cyrano, Christian, the Gascons, the musketeer, Lise.
A CADET (half opening the door):
Naught here!. . .The silence of the grave!
I dare not look. . .
(He puts his head in):
Why?. . .
ALL THE CADETS (entering, and seeing Cyrano and Christian embracing):
Oh!. . .
This passes all!
THE MUSKETEER (mockingly):
Ho, ho!. . .
Our demon has become a saint?
Struck on one nostril - lo! he turns the other!
Then we may speak about his nose, henceforth!. . .
(Calling to Lise, boastfully):
- Ah, Lise, see here!
O heavens!. . .what a stink!. . .
(Going up to Cyrano):
You, sir, without a doubt have sniffed it up!
- What is the smell I notice here?
CYRANO (cuffing his head):
(General delight. The cadets have found the old Cyrano again! They turn
Turn to the next chapter: Act III. Roxane's Kiss.