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Act III. Roxane's Kiss.
A small square in the old Marais. Old houses. A perspective of little streets. On the right Roxane's house and the wall of her garden overhung with thick foliage. Window and balcony over the door. A bench in front.
From the bench and the stones jutting out of the wall it is easy to climb to the balcony. In front of an old house in the same style of brick and stone. The knocker of this door is bandaged with linen like a sore thumb.
At the rising of the curtain the duenna is seated on the bench.
The window on Roxane's balcony is wide open.
Ragueneau is standing near the door in a sort of livery. He has just finished relating something to the duenna, and is wiping his eyes.
Ragueneau, the duenna. Then Roxane, Cyrano, and two pages.
- And then, off she went, with a musketeer! Deserted and ruined too, I would make an end of all, and so hanged myself. My last breath was drawn:-then in comes Monsieur de Bergerac! He cuts me down, and begs his cousin to take me for her steward.
Well, but how came it about that you were thus ruined?
Oh! Lise loved the warriors, and I loved the poets! What cakes there were that Apollo chanced to leave were quickly snapped up by Mars. Thus ruin was not long a-coming.
THE DUENNA (rising, and calling up to the open window):
Roxane, are you ready? They wait for us!
ROXANE'S VOICE (from the window):
I will but put me on a cloak!
THE DUENNA (to Ragueneau, showing him the door opposite):
They wait us there opposite, at Clomire's house. She receives them all there to-day - the precieuses, the poets; they read a discourse on the Tender Passion.
The Tender Passion?
THE DUENNA (in a mincing voice):
(Calling up to the window):
Roxane, an you come not down quickly, we shall miss the discourse on the
I come! I come!
(A sound of stringed instruments approaching.)
CYRANO'S VOICE (behind the scenes, singing):
La, la, la, la!
THE DUENNA (surprised):
They serenade us?
CYRANO (followed by two pages with arch-lutes):
I tell you they are demi-semi-quavers, demi-semi-fool!
FIRST PAGE (ironically):
You know then, Sir, to distinguish between semi-quavers and demi-semi-
Is not every disciple of Gassendi a musician?
THE PAGE (playing and singing):
CYRANO (snatching the lute from him, and going on with the phrase):
In proof of which, I can continue! La, la, la, la!
ROXANE (appearing on the balcony):
What? 'Tis you?
CYRANO (going on with the air, and singing to it):
'Tis I, who come to serenade your lilies, and pay my devoir to your ro-o-
I am coming down!
(She leaves the balcony.)
THE DUENNA (pointing to the pages):
How come these two virtuosi here?
'Tis for a wager I won of D'Assoucy. We were disputing a nice point in
grammar; contradictions raged hotly - ''Tis so!' 'Nay, 'tis so!' when suddenly
he shows me these two long-shanks, whom he takes about with him as an escort,
and who are skillful in scratching lute-strings with their skinny claws! 'I
will wager you a day's music,' says he! - And lost it! Thus, see you, till
Phoebus' chariot starts once again, these lute-twangers are at my heels,
seeing all I do, hearing all I say, and accompanying all with melody. 'Twas
pleasant at the first, but i' faith, I begin to weary of it already!
(To the musicians):
Ho there! go serenade Montfleury for me! Play a dance to him!
(The pages go toward the door. To the duenna):
I have come, as is my wont, nightly, to ask Roxane whether. . .
(To the pages, who are going out):
Play a long time, - and play out of tune!
(To the duenna):
. . .Whether her soul's elected is ever the same, ever faultless!
ROXANE (coming out of the house):
Ah! How handsome he is, how brilliant a wit! And - how well I love him!
Christian has so brilliant a wit?
Brighter than even your own, cousin!
Be it so, with all my heart!
Ah! methinks 'twere impossible that there could breathe a man on this earth
skilled to say as sweetly as he all the pretty nothings that mean so much -
that mean all! At times his mind seems far away, the Muse says naught - and
then, presto! he speaks - bewitchingly! enchantingly!
Fie! That is ill said! But lo! men are ever thus! Because he is fair to
see, you would have it that he must be dull of speech.
He hath an eloquent tongue in telling his love?
In telling his love? why, 'tis not simple telling, 'tis dissertation, 'tis
How is he with the pen?
Still better! Listen, - here: -
'The more of my poor heart you take
The larger grows my heart!'
(Triumphantly to Cyrano):
How like you those lines?
And thus it goes on. . .
'And, since some target I must show
For Cupid's cruel dart,
Oh, if mine own you deign to keep,
Then give me your sweet heart!'
Lord! first he has too much, then anon not enough! How much heart does the
You would vex a saint!. . .But 'tis your jealousy.
What mean you?
Ay, your poet's jealousy! Hark now, if this again be not tender-sweet? -
'My heart to yours sounds but one cry:
If kisses fast could flee
By letter, then with your sweet lips
My letters read should be!
If kisses could be writ with ink,
If kisses fast could flee!'
CYRANO (smiling approvingly in spite of himself):
Ha! those last lines are, - hm!. . .hm!. . .
(Correcting himself - contemptuously):
- They are paltry enough!
And this. . .
Then you have his letters by heart?
Every one of them!
By all oaths that can be sworn, - 'tis flattering!
They are the lines of a master!
Come, nay. . .a master?. . .
Ay, I say it - a master!
Good - be it so.
THE DUENNA (coming down quickly):
Here comes Monsieur de Guiche!
(To Cyrano, pushing him toward the house):
In with you! 'twere best he see you not; it might perchance put him on the
scent. . .
ROXANE (to Cyrano):
Ay, of my own dear secret! He loves me, and is powerful, and, if he knew,
then all were lost! Marry! he could well deal a deathblow to my love!
CYRANO (entering the house):
(De Guiche appears.)
Roxane, De Guiche, the duenna standing a little way off.
ROXANE (courtesying to De Guiche):
I was going out.
I come to take my leave.
Whither go you?
To the war.
I am ordered away. We are to besiege Arras.
Ah - to besiege?. . .
Ay. My going moves you not, meseems.
Nay. . .
I am grieved to the core of the heart. Shall I again behold you?. . .When?
I know not. Heard you that I am named commander?. . .
Of the Guards regiment.
What! the Guards?
Ay, where serves your cousin, the swaggering boaster. I will find a way to
revenge myself on him at Arras.
What mean you? The Guards go to Arras?
DE GUICHE (laughing):
Bethink you, is it not my own regiment?
ROXANE (falling seated on the bench - aside):
What ails you?
ROXANE (moved deeply):
Oh - I am in despair! The man one loves! - at the war!
DE GUICHE (surprised and delighted):
You say such sweet words to me! 'Tis the first time! - and just when I must
ROXANE (collected, and fanning herself):
Thus, - you would fain revenge your grudge against my cousin?
My fair lady is on his side?
Nay, - against him!
Do you see him often?
But very rarely.
He is ever to be met now in company with one of the cadets,. . .one New -
villen - viller -
Of high stature?
Ay, a red-headed fellow!
Handsome!. . .
One would think so, to look at him!
(Changing her tone):
How mean you to play your revenge on Cyrano? Perchance you think to put him
i' the thick of the shots? Nay, believe me, that were a poor vengeance - he
would love such a post better than aught else! I know the way to wound his
pride far more keenly!
What then? Tell. . .
If, when the regiment march to Arras, he were left here with his beloved
boon companions, the Cadets, to sit with crossed arms so long as the war
lasted! There is your method, would you enrage a man of his kind; cheat him
of his chance of mortal danger, and you punish him right fiercely.
DE GUICHE (coming nearer):
O woman! woman! Who but a woman had e'er devised so subtle a trick?
See you not how he will eat out his heart, while his friends gnaw their
thick fists for that they are deprived of the battle? So are you best
You love me, then, a little?
I would fain - seeing you thus espouse my cause, Roxane - believe it a proof
'Tis a proof of love!
DE GUICHE (showing some sealed papers):
Here are the marching orders; they will be sent instantly to each company -
(He detaches one):
- This one! 'Tis that of the Cadets.
(He puts it in his pocket):
This I keep.
Ha! ha! ha! Cyrano! His love of battle!. . .So you can play tricks on
people?. . .you, of all ladies!
DE GUICHE (coming close to her):
Oh! how I love you! - to distraction! Listen! To-night - true, I ought to
start - but - how leave you now that I feel your heart is touched! Hard by, in
the Rue d'Orleans, is a convent founded by Father Athanasius, the syndic of
the Capuchins. True that no layman may enter - but - I can settle that with the
good Fathers! Their habit sleeves are wide enough to hide me in. 'Tis they
who serve Richelieu's private chapel: and from respect to the uncle, fear the
nephew. All will deem me gone. I will come to you, masked. Give me leave to
wait till tomorrow, sweet Lady Fanciful!
But, of this be rumored, your glory. . .
But the siege - Arras. . .
'Twill take its chance. Grant but permission.
Give me leave!
It were my duty to forbid you!
You must go!
Christian stays here.
I would have you heroic - Antoine!
O heavenly word! You love, then, him?. . .
. . .For whom I trembled.
DE GUICHE (in an ecstasy):
Ah! I go then!
(He kisses her hand):
Are you content?
Yes, my friend!
(He goes out.)
THE DUENNA (making behind his back a mocking courtesy):
Yes, my friend!
ROXANE (to the duenna):
Not a word of what I have done. Cyrano would never pardon me for stealing
his fighting from him!
(She calls toward the house):
Roxane, The duenna, Cyrano.
We are going to Clomire's house.
(She points to the door opposite):
Alcandre and Lysimon are to discourse!
THE DUENNA (putting her little finger in her ear):
Yes! But my little finger tells me we shall miss them.
'Twere a pity to miss such apes!
(They have come to Clomire's door.)
Oh, see! The knocker is muffled up!
(Speaking to the knocker):
So they have gagged that metal tongue of yours, little noisy one, lest it
should disturb the fine orators!
(She lifts it carefully and knocks with precaution.)
ROXANE (seeing that the door opens):
Let us enter!
(On the threshold, to Cyrano):
If Christian comes, as I feel sure he will, bid him wait for me!
CYRANO (quickly, as she is going in):
What mean you to question him on, as is your wont, to-night?
But you will be mute?
Mute as a fish.
I shall not question him at all, but say: Give rein to your fancy! Prepare
not your speeches, - but speak the thoughts as they come! Speak to me of love,
and speak splendidly!
But secret!. . .
Not a word!
(She enters and shuts the door.)
CYRANO (when the door is shut, bowing to her):
A thousand thanks!
(The door opens again, and Roxane puts her head out.)
Lest he prepare himself!
The devil! - no, no!
(The door shuts.)
I know all that is needful. Here's occasion
For you to deck yourself with glory. Come,
Lose no time; put away those sulky looks,
Come to your house with me, I'll teach you. . .
I will wait for Roxane here.
Come quick with me and learn. . .
No, no! I say.
I am aweary of these borrowed letters,
- Borrowed love-makings! Thus to act a part,
And tremble all the time! - 'Twas well enough
At the beginning! - Now I know she loves!
I fear no longer! - I will speak myself.
And how know you I cannot speak? -
I am not such a fool when all is said!
I've by your lessons profited. You'll see
I shall know how to speak alone! The devil!
I know at least to clasp her in my arms!
(Seeing Roxane come out from Clomire's house):
- It is she! Cyrano, no! - Leave me not!
Speak for yourself, my friend, and take your chance.
(He disappears behind the garden wall.)
Christian, Roxane, the duenna.
ROXANE (coming out of Clomire's house, with a company of friends, whom she
leaves. Bows and good-byes):
Barthenoide! - Alcandre! - Gremione! -
THE DUENNA (bitterly disappointed):
We've missed the speech upon the Tender Passion!
(Goes into Roxane's house.)
ROXANE (still bowing):
Urimedonte - adieu!
(All bow to Roxane and to each other, and then separate, going up different
streets. Roxane suddenly seeing Christian):
(She goes to him):
Let's sit. Speak on. I listen.
CHRISTIAN (sits by her on the bench. A silence):
Oh! I love you!
ROXANE (shutting her eyes):
Ay, speak to me of love.
I love thee!
The theme! But vary it.
I. . .
I love you so!
Oh! without doubt! - and then?. . .
And then - I should be - oh! - so glad - so glad
If you would love me! - Roxane, tell me so!
ROXANE (with a little grimace):
I hoped for cream, - you give me gruel! Say
How love possesses you?
Come, come!. . .unknot those tangled sentiments!
Your throat I'd kiss it!
I love thee!
CHRISTIAN (eagerly, detaining her):
No, no! I love thee not!
ROXANE (reseating herself):
But I adore thee!
ROXANE (rising, and going further off):
I am grown stupid!
And that displeases me, almost as much
As 'twould displease me if you grew ill-favored.
But. . .
Rally your poor eloquence that's flown!
I. . .
Yes, you love me, that I know. Adieu.
(She goes toward her house.)
Oh, go not yet! I'd tell you -
ROXANE (opening the door):
You adore me?
I've heard it very oft. No! - Go away!
But I would fain. . .
(She shuts the door in his face.)
CYRANO (who has re-entered unseen):
I' faith! It is successful!
Christian, Cyrano, two pages.
Come to my aid!
But I shall die,
Unless at once I win back her fair favor.
And how can I, at once, i' th' devil's name,
Lesson you in. . .
CHRISTIAN (seizing his arm):
Oh, she is there!
(The window of the balcony is now lighted up.)
Oh! I shall die!
CHRISTIAN (in a whisper):
I shall die!
The night is dark. . .
All can be repaired.
Although you merit not. Stand there, poor wretch!
Fronting the balcony! I'll go beneath
And prompt your words to you. . .
But. . .
Hold your tongue!
THE PAGES (reappearing at back - to Cyrano):
(He signs to them to speak softly.)
FIRST PAGE (in a low voice):
We've played the serenade you bade
CYRANO (quickly, in a low voice):
Go! lurk in ambush there,
One at this street corner, and one at that;
And if a passer-by should here intrude,
Play you a tune!
What tune, Sir Gassendist?
Gay, if a woman comes, - for a man, sad!
(The pages disappear, one at each street corner. To Christian):
CYRANO (picking up stones and throwing them at the window):
Some pebbles! wait awhile!
ROXANE (half-opening the casement):
Who calls me?
I would speak with you.
CYRANO (under the balcony - to Christian):
Good. Speak soft and low.
No, you speak stupidly!
Oh, pity me!
No! you love me no more!
CHRISTIAN (prompted by Cyrano):
You say - Great Heaven!
I love no more? - when - I - love more and more!
ROXANE (who was about to shut the casement, pausing):
Hold! 'tis a trifle better! ay, a trifle!
CHRISTIAN (same play):
Love grew apace, rocked by the anxious beating. . .
Of this poor heart, which the cruel wanton boy. . .
Took for a cradle!
ROXANE (coming out on to the balcony):
That is better! But
An if you deem that Cupid be so cruel
You should have stifled baby-love in's cradle!
CHRISTIAN (same play):
Ah, Madame, I assayed, but all in vain
This. . .new-born babe is a young. . .Hercules!
CHRISTIAN (same play):
Thus he strangled in my heart
The. . .serpents twain, of. . .Pride. . .and Doubt!
ROXANE (leaning over the balcony):
- But why so faltering? Has mental palsy
Seized on your faculty imaginative?
CYRANO (drawing Christian under the balcony, and slipping into his place):
Give place! This waxes critical!. . .
To-day. . .
Your words are hesitating.
CYRANO (imitating Christian - in a whisper):
Night has come. . .
In the dusk they grope their way to find your ear.
But my words find no such impediment.
They find their way at once? Small wonder that!
For 'tis within my heart they find their home;
Bethink how large my heart, how small your ear!
And, - from fair heights descending, words fall fast,
But mine must mount, Madame, and that takes time!
Meseems that your last words have learned to climb.
With practice such gymnastic grows less hard!
In truth, I seem to speak from distant heights!
True, far above; at such a height 'twere death
If a hard word from you fell on my heart.
I will come down. . .
ROXANE (showing him the bench under the balcony):
Mount then on the bench!
CYRANO (starting back alarmed):
How, you will not?
CYRANO (more and more moved):
Stay awhile! 'Tis sweet,. . .
The rare occasion, when our hearts can speak
Our selves unseen, unseeing!
Why - unseen?
Ay, it is sweet! Half hidden, - half revealed -
You see the dark folds of my shrouding cloak,
And I, the glimmering whiteness of your dress:
I but a shadow - you a radiance fair!
Know you what such a moment holds for me?
If ever I were eloquent. . .
Yet never till to-night my speech has sprung
Straight from my heart as now it springs.
Till now I spoke haphazard. . .
Have beams that turn men dizzy! - But to-night
Methinks I shall find speech for the first time!
'Tis true, your voice rings with a tone that's new.
CYRANO (coming nearer, passionately):
Ay, a new tone! In the tender, sheltering dusk
I dare to be myself for once, - at last!
(He stops, falters):
What say I? I know not! - Oh, pardon me -
It thrills me, - 'tis so sweet, so novel. . .
CYRANO (off his balance, trying to find the thread of his sentence):
Ay, - to be at last sincere;
Till now, my chilled heart, fearing to be mocked. . .
Mocked, and for what?
For its mad beating! - Ay,
My heart has clothed itself with witty words,
To shroud itself from curious eyes: - impelled
At times to aim at a star, I stay my hand,
And, fearing ridicule, - cull a wild flower!
A wild flower's sweet.
Ay, but to-night - the star!
Oh! never have you spoken thus before!
If, leaving Cupid's arrows, quivers, torches,
We turned to seek for sweeter - fresher things!
Instead of sipping in a pygmy glass
Dull fashionable waters, - did we try
How the soul slakes its thirst in fearless draught
By drinking from the river's flooding brim!
But wit?. . .
If I have used it to arrest you
At the first starting, - now, 'twould be an outrage,
An insult - to the perfumed Night - to Nature -
To speak fine words that garnish vain love-letters!
Look up but at her stars! The quiet Heaven
Will ease our hearts of all things artificial;
I fear lest, 'midst the alchemy we're skilled in
The truth of sentiment dissolve and vanish, -
The soul exhausted by these empty pastimes,
The gain of fine things be the loss of all things!
But wit? I say. . .
In love 'tis crime, - 'tis hateful!
Turning frank loving into subtle fencing!
At last the moment comes, inevitable, -
- Oh, woe for those who never know that moment!
When feeling love exists in us, ennobling,
Each well-weighed word is futile and soul-saddening!
Well, if that moment's come for us - suppose it!
What words would serve you?
All, all, all, whatever
That came to me, e'en as they came, I'd fling them
In a wild cluster, not a careful bouquet.
I love thee! I am mad! I love, I stifle!
Thy name is in my heart as in a sheep-bell,
And as I ever tremble, thinking of thee,
Ever the bell shakes, ever thy name ringeth!
All things of thine I mind, for I love all things;
I know that last year on the twelfth of May-month,
To walk abroad, one day you changed your hair-plaits!
I am so used to take your hair for daylight
That, - like as when the eye stares on the sun's disk,
One sees long after a red blot on all things -
So, when I quit thy beams, my dazzled vision
Sees upon all things a blonde stain imprinted.
Why, this is love indeed!. . .
Ay, true, the feeling
Which fills me, terrible and jealous, truly
Love, - which is ever sad amid its transports!
Love, - and yet, strangely, not a selfish passion!
I for your joy would gladly lay mine own down,
- E'en though you never were to know it, - never!
- If but at times I might - far off and lonely, -
Hear some gay echo of the joy I bought you!
Each glance of thine awakes in me a virtue, -
A novel, unknown valor. Dost begin, sweet,
To understand? So late, dost understand me?
Feel'st thou my soul, here, through the darkness mounting?
Too fair the night! Too fair, too fair the moment!
That I should speak thus, and that you should hearken!
Too fair! In moments when my hopes rose proudest,
I never hoped such guerdon. Naught is left me
But to die now! Have words of mine the power
To make you tremble, - throned there in the branches?
Ay, like a leaf among the leaves, you tremble!
You tremble! For I feel, - an if you will it,
Or will it not, - your hand's beloved trembling
Thrill through the branches, down your sprays of jasmine!
(He kisses passionately one of the hanging tendrils.)
Ay! I am trembling, weeping! - I am thine!
Thou hast conquered all of me!
Then let death come!
'Tis I, 'tis I myself, who conquered thee!
One thing, but one, I dare to ask -
CHRISTIAN (under the balcony):
ROXANE (drawing back):
You ask. . .?
I. . .
(To Christian, whispering):
Fool! you go too quick!
Since she is moved thus - I will profit by it!
CYRANO (to Roxane):
My words sprang thoughtlessly, but now I see -
Shame on me! - I was too presumptuous.
ROXANE (a little chilled):
How quickly you withdraw.
Yes, I withdraw
Without withdrawing! Hurt I modesty?
If so - the kiss I asked - oh, grant it not.
CHRISTIAN (to Cyrano, pulling him by his cloak):
Silence, Christian! Hush!
ROXANE (leaning over):
What whisper you?
I chid myself for my too bold advances;
Said, 'Silence, Christian!'
(The lutes begin to play):
Hark! Wait awhile,. . .
(Roxane shuts the window. Cyrano listens to the lutes, one of which plays a
merry, the other a melancholy, tune):
Why, they play sad - then gay - then sad! What? Neither man nor woman? - oh!
(Enter a capuchin friar, with a lantern. He goes from house to house, looking
at every door.)
Cyrano, Christian, a capuchin friar.
CYRANO (to the friar):
What do you, playing at Diogenes?
I seek the house of Madame. . .
Oh! plague take him!
Madeleine Robin. . .
What would he?. . .
CYRANO (pointing to a street at the back):
Straight on. . .
I thank you, and, in your intention
Will tell my rosary to its last bead.
(He goes out.)
Good luck! My blessings rest upon your cowl!
(He goes back to Christian.)
Oh! win for me that kiss. . .
Soon or late!. . .
'Tis true! The moment of intoxication -
Of madness, - when your mouths are sure to meet
Thanks to your fair mustache - and her rose lips!
I'd fainer it should come thanks to. . .
(A sound of shutters reopening. Christian goes in again under the balcony.)
Cyrano, Christian, Roxane.
ROXANE (coming out on the balcony):
We spoke of a. . .
A kiss! The word is sweet.
I see not why your lip should shrink from it;
If the word burns it, - what would the kiss do?
Oh! let it not your bashfulness affright;
Have you not, all this time, insensibly,
Left badinage aside, and unalarmed
Glided from smile to sigh, - from sigh to weeping?
Glide gently, imperceptibly, still onward -
From tear to kiss, - a moment's thrill! - a heartbeat!
A kiss, when all is said, - what is it?
An oath that's ratified, - a sealed promise,
A heart's avowal claiming confirmation, -
A rose-dot on the 'i' of 'adoration,' -
A secret that to mouth, not ear, is whispered, -
Brush of a bee's wing, that makes time eternal, -
Communion perfumed like the spring's wild flowers, -
The heart's relieving in the heart's outbreathing,
When to the lips the soul's flood rises, brimming!
A kiss, Madame, is honorable:
The Queen of France, to a most favored lord
Did grant a kiss - the Queen herself!
CYRANO (speaking more warmly):
Buckingham suffered dumbly, - so have I, -
Adored his Queen, as loyally as I, -
Was sad, but faithful, - so am I. . .
Are fair as Buckingham!
CYRANO (aside - suddenly cooled):
True, - I forgot!
Must I then bid thee mount to cull this flower?
CYRANO (pushing Christian toward the balcony):
This heart-breathing!. . .
This brush of bee's wing!. . .
But I feel now, as though 'twere ill done!
This moment infinite!. . .
CYRANO (still pushing him):
Come, blockhead, mount!
(Christian springs forward, and by means of the bench, the branches, and the
pillars, climbs to the balcony and strides over it.)
(He takes her in his arms, and bends over her lips.)
Aie! Strange pain that wrings my heart!
The kiss, love's feast, so near! I, Lazarus,
Lie at the gate in darkness. Yet to me
Falls still a crumb or two from the rich man's board -
Ay, 'tis my heart receives thee, Roxane - mine!
For on the lips you press you kiss as well
The words I spoke just now! - my words - my words!
(The lutes play):
A sad air, - a gay air: the monk!
(He begins to run as if he came from a long way off, and cries out):
Who is it?
I - I was but passing by. . .
Is Christian there?
(She disappears into the house. At the back re-enter the friar.)
CHRISTIAN (seeing him):
(He follows Roxane.)
Cyrano, Christian, Roxane, the friar, Ragueneau.
'Tis here, - I'm sure of it - Madame Madeleine Robin.
Why, you said Ro-LIN.
No, not I.
ROXANE (appearing on the threshold, followed by Ragueneau, who carries a
lantern, and Christian):
THE FRIAR (to Roxane):
Oh, it can boot but a holy business!
'Tis from a worthy lord. . .
ROXANE (to Christian):
He dares. . .
Oh, he will not importune me forever!
(Unsealing the letter):
I love you, - therefore -
(She reads in a low voice by the aid of Ragueneau's lantern):
The drums beat;
My regiment buckles its harness on
And starts; but I, - they deem me gone before -
But I stay. I have dared to disobey
Your mandate. I am here in convent walls.
I come to you to-night. By this poor monk -
A simple fool who knows not what he bears -
I send this missive to apprise your ear.
Your lips erewhile have smiled on me, too sweet:
I go not ere I've seen them once again!
I would be private; send each soul away,
Receive alone him, - whose great boldness you
Have deigned, I hope, to pardon, ere he asks, -
He who is ever your - et cetera.'
(To the monk):
Father, this is the matter of the letter: -
(All come near her, and she reads aloud):
The Cardinal's wish is law; albeit
It be to you unwelcome. For this cause
I send these lines - to your fair ear addressed -
By a holy man, discreet, intelligent:
It is our will that you receive from him,
In your own house, the marriage
(She turns the page):
Straightway, this night. Unknown to all the world
Christian becomes your husband. Him we send.
He is abhorrent to your choice. Let be.
Resign yourself, and this obedience
Will be by Heaven well recompensed. Receive,
Fair lady, all assurance of respect,
From him who ever was, and still remains,
Your humble and obliged - et cetera.'
THE FRIAR (with great delight):
O worthy lord! I knew naught was to fear;
It could be but holy business!
ROXANE (to Christian, in a low voice):
Am I not apt at reading letters?
ROXANE (aloud, with despair):
But this is horrible!
THE FRIAR (who has turned his lantern on Cyrano):
THE FRIAR (turning the light on to him, and as if a doubt struck him on seeing
But. . .
I have overlooked the postscript - see: -
'Give twenty pistoles for the Convent.'
. . .Oh!
Most worthy lord!
ROXANE (with a martyr's look):
(While Ragueneau opens the door, and Christian invites the friar to enter, she
whispers to Cyrano):
Oh, keep De Guiche at bay! He will be here!
Let him not enter till. . .
(To the friar):
What time need you to tie the marriage-knot?
A quarter of an hour.
CYRANO (pushing them all toward the house):
Go! I stay.
ROXANE (to Christian):
Come!. . .
Now, how to detain De Guiche so long?
(He jumps on the bench, climbs to the balcony by the wall):
Come!. . .up I go!. . .I have my plan!. . .
(The lutes begin to play a very sad air):
(The tremolo grows more and more weird):
It is a man! ay! 'tis a man this time!
(He is on the balcony, pulls his hat over his eyes, takes off his sword, wraps
himself in his cloak, then leans over):
'Tis not too high!
(He strides across the balcony, and drawing to him a long branch of one of the
trees that are by the garden wall, he hangs on to it with both hands, ready to
let himself fall):
I'll shake this atmosphere!
Cyrano, De Guiche.
DE GUICHE (who enters, masked, feeling his way in the dark):
What can that cursed Friar be about?
The devil!. . .If he knows my voice!
(Letting go with one hand, he pretends to turn an invisible key. Solemnly):
Assume thou, Cyrano, to serve the turn,
The accent of thy native Bergerac!. . .
DE GUICHE (looking at the house):
'Tis there. I see dim, - this mask hinders me!
(He is about to enter, when Cyrano leaps from the balcony, holding on to the
branch, which bends, dropping him between the door and De Guiche; he pretends
to fall heavily, as from a great height, and lies flat on the ground,
motionless, as if stunned. De Guiche starts back):
(When he looks up, the branch has sprung back into its place. He sees only
the sky, and is lost in amazement):
Where fell that man from?
CYRANO (sitting up, and speaking with a Gascon accent):
From the moon!
From?. . .
CYRANO (in a dreamy voice):
He's lost his mind, for sure!
What hour? What country this? What month? What day?
But. . .
I am stupefied!
Like a bomb
I fell from the moon!
DE GUICHE (impatiently):
CYRANO (rising, in a terrible voice):
I say, - the moon!
DE GUICHE (recoiling):
Good, good! let it be so!. . .He's raving mad!
CYRANO (walking up to him):
I say from the moon! I mean no metaphor!. . .
But. . .
Was't a hundred years - a minute, since?
- I cannot guess what time that fall embraced! -
That I was in that saffron-colored ball?
DE GUICHE (shrugging his shoulders):
Good! let me pass!
CYRANO (intercepting him):
Where am I? Tell the truth!
Fear not to tell! Oh, spare me not! Where? where?
Have I fallen like a shooting star?
The fall was lightning-quick! no time to choose
Where I should fall - I know not where it be!
Oh, tell me! Is it on a moon or earth,
that my posterior weight has landed me?
I tell you, Sir. . .
CYRANO (with a screech of terror, which makes De Guiche start back):
No? Can it be? I'm on
A planet where men have black faces?
DE GUICHE (putting a hand to his face):
CYRANO (feigning great alarm):
Am I in Africa? A native you?
DE GUICHE (who has remembered his mask):
This mask of mine. . .
CYRANO (pretending to be reassured):
In Venice? ha! - or Rome?
DE GUICHE (trying to pass):
A lady waits. .
CYRANO (quite reassured):
Oh-ho! I am in Paris!
DE GUICHE (smiling in spite of himself):
The fool is comical!
But would get by!
CYRANO (beaming with joy):
I have shot back to Paris!
(Quite at ease, laughing, dusting himself, bowing):
Come - pardon me - by the last water-spout,
Covered with ether, - accident of travel!
My eyes still full of star-dust, and my spurs
Encumbered by the planets' filaments!
(Picking something off his sleeve):
Ha! on my doublet? - ah, a comet's hair!. . .
(He puffs as if to blow it away.)
DE GUICHE (beside himself):
Sir!. . .
CYRANO (just as he is about to pass, holds out his leg as if to show him
something and stops him):
In my leg - the calf - there is a tooth
Of the Great Bear, and, passing Neptune close,
I would avoid his trident's point, and fell,
Thus sitting, plump, right in the Scales! My weight
Is marked, still registered, up there in heaven!
(Hurriedly preventing De Guiche from passing, and detaining him by the button
of his doublet):
I swear to you that if you squeezed my nose
It would spout milk!
From the Milky Way!
Oh, go to hell!
CYRANO (crossing his arms):
I fall, Sir, out of heaven!
Now, would you credit it, that as I fell
I saw that Sirius wears a nightcap? True!
The other Bear is still too small to bite.
I went through the Lyre, but I snapped a cord;
I mean to write the whole thing in a book;
The small gold stars, that, wrapped up in my cloak,
I carried safe away at no small risks,
Will serve for asterisks i' the printed page!
Come, make an end! I want. . .
Oh-ho! You are sly!
You would worm all out of me! - the way
The moon is made, and if men breathe and live
In its rotund cucurbita?
DE GUICHE (angrily):
I want. . .
Ha, ha! - to know how I got up?
Hark, it was by a method all my own.
DE GUICHE (wearied):
No! not for me the stupid eagle
Of Regiomontanus, nor the timid
Pigeon of Archytas - neither of those!
Ay, 'tis a fool! But 'tis a learned fool!
No imitator I of other men!
(De Guiche has succeeded in getting by, and goes toward Roxane's door. Cyrano
follows him, ready to stop him by force):
Six novel methods, all, this brain invented!
DE GUICHE (turning round):
First, with body naked as your hand,
Festooned about with crystal flacons, full
O' th' tears the early morning dew distils;
My body to the sun's fierce rays exposed
To let it suck me up, as 't sucks the dew!
DE GUICHE (surprised, making one step toward Cyrano):
Ah! that makes one!
CYRANO (stepping back, and enticing him further away):
And then, the second way,
To generate wind - for my impetus -
To rarefy air, in a cedar case,
By mirrors placed icosahedron-wise.
DE GUICHE (making another step):
CYRANO (still stepping backward):
Or - for I have some mechanic skill -
To make a grasshopper, with springs of steel,
And launch myself by quick succeeding fires
Saltpeter-fed to the stars' pastures blue!
DE GUICHE (unconsciously following him and counting on his fingers):
Or (since fumes have property to mount) -
To charge a globe with fumes, sufficiently
To carry me aloft!
DE GUICHE (same play, more and more astonished):
Well, that makes four!
Or smear myself with marrow from a bull,
Since, at the lowest point of Zodiac,
Phoebus well loves to suck that marrow up!
DE GUICHE (amazed):
CYRANO (who, while speaking, had drawn him to the other side of the square
near a bench):
Sitting on an iron platform - thence
To throw a magnet in the air. This is
A method well conceived - the magnet flown,
Infallibly the iron will pursue:
Then quick! relaunch your magnet, and you thus
Can mount and mount unmeasured distances!
Here are six excellent expedients!
Which of the six chose you?
Why, none! - a seventh!
Astonishing! What was it?
This wild eccentric becomes interesting!
CYRANO (making a noise like the waves, with weird gestures):
You have guessed?
I' th' witching hour when the moon woos the wave,
I laid me, fresh from a sea-bath, on the shore -
And, failing not to put head foremost - for
The hair holds the sea-water in its mesh -
I rose in air, straight! straight! like angel's flight,
And mounted, mounted, gently, effortless,. . .
When lo! a sudden shock! Then. . .
DE GUICHE (overcome by curiosity, sitting down on the bench):
Oh! then. . .
(Suddenly returning to his natural voice):
The quarter's gone - I'll hinder you no more:
The marriage-vows are made.
DE GUICHE (springing up):
What? Am I mad?
(The house-door opens. Lackeys appear carrying lighted candelabra. Light.
Cyrano gracefully uncovers):
That nose - Cyrano?
While we were chatting, they have plighted troth.
(He turns round. Tableau. Behind the lackeys appear Roxane and Christian,
holding each other by the hand. The friar follows them, smiling. Ragueneau
also holds a candlestick. The duenna closes the rear, bewildered, having made
a hasty toilet):
The same. Roxane, Christian, the friar, Ragueneau, lackeys, the duenna.
DE GUICHE (to Roxane):
(Recognizing Christian, in amazement):
(Bowing, with admiration, to Roxane):
My compliments - Sir Apparatus-maker!
Your story would arrest at Peter's gate
Saints eager for their Paradise! Note well
The details. 'Faith! They'd make a stirring book!
I shall not fail to follow your advice.
THE FRIAR (showing with satisfaction the two lovers to De Guiche):
A handsome couple, son, made one by you!
DE GUICHE (with a freezing look):
Bid your bridegroom, Madame, fond farewell.
DE GUICHE (to Christian):
Even now the regiment departs.
It goes to battle?
But the Cadets go not?
Oh ay! they go.
(Drawing out the paper he had put in his pocket):
Here is the order.
Baron, bear it, quick!
ROXANE (throwing herself in Christian's arms):
DE GUICHE (sneeringly to Cyrano):
The wedding-night is far, methinks!
He thinks to give me pain of death by this!
CHRISTIAN (to Roxane):
Oh! once again! Your lips!
Come, come, enough!
CHRISTIAN (still kissing Roxane):
- 'Tis hard to leave her, you know not. . .
CYRANO (trying to draw him away):
(Sound of drums beating a march in the distance.)
The regiment starts!
ROXANE (To Cyrano, holding back Christian, whom Cyrano is drawing away):
Oh! - I trust him you!
Promise me that no risks shall put his life
I will try my best, but promise. . .
That I cannot!
But swear he shall be prudent?
Again, I'll do my best, but. . .
In the siege
Let him not suffer!
All that man can do,
I. . .
That he shall be faithful!
Doubtless, but. . .
That he will write oft?
That, I promise you!
Turn to the next chapter: ACT IV. The Cadets of Gascony.