Cyrano de Bergerac/Act IV

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand, translated by Gladys Thomas and Mary F. Guillemard
Act IV

ACT IV

The Cadets of Gascony.

Post occupied by company of Carbon de Castel-Jaloux at the siege of Arras.
In the background an embankment across the whole stage. Beyond, view of plain extending to the horizon. The country covered with entrenchments. The walls of Arras and the outlines of its roofs against the sky in the distance. Tents. Arms strewn about, drums, etc. Day is breaking with a faint glimmer of yellow sunrise in the east. Sentinels at different points. Watch-fires. The Cadets of Gascony, wrapped in their mantles, are sleeping. Carbon de Castel-Jaloux and Le Bret are keeping watch. They are very pale and thin. Christian sleeps among the others in his cloak in the foreground, his face illuminated by the fire. Silence.

SCENE I

Christian, Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, Le Bret, the Cadets, then Cyrano.

Le Bret.

'Tis terrible.

Carbon.

Not a morsel left.

Le Bret.

Mordious!

Carbon

[making a sign that he should speak lower].

Curse under your breath. You will awake them.

[To the Cadets.]

Hush! Sleep on.

[To Le Bret.]

He who sleeps, dines!

Le Bret.

But that is sorry comfort for the sleepless!…
What starvation!

[Firing is heard in the distance.]

Carbon.

Oh, plague take their firing! 'Twill wake my sons.

[To the Cadets, who lift up their heads.]

Sleep on!

[Firing is again heard, nearer this time.]

A Cadet

[moving].

The devil!… Again.

Carbon.

'Tis nothing! 'Tis Cyrano coming back!

[Those who have lifted up their heads prepare to sleep again.]

A Sentinel

[from without].

Ventrebieu! Who goes there?

The Voice of Cyrano.

Bergerac.

The Sentinel

[who is on the redoubt].

Ventrebieu!
Who goes there?

Cyrano

[appearing at the top].

Bergerac, idiot!

[He comes down, Le Bret advances anxiously to meet him.]

Le Bret.

Heavens!

Cyrano

[making signs that he should not awake the others].

Hush!

Le Bret.

Wounded?

Cyrano.

Oh! you know it has become their custom to shoot at me every morning and to miss me.

Le Bret.

This passes all! To take letters at each day's dawn. To risk…

Cyrano

[stopping before Christian].

I promised he should write often.

[He looks at him.]

He sleeps. How pale he is! But how handsome still, despite his sufferings. If his poor little lady-love knew that he is dying of hunger…

Le Bret.

Get you quick to bed.

Cyrano.

Nay, never scold, Le Bret. I ran but little risk. I have found me a spot to pass the Spanish lines, where each night they lie drunk.

Le Bret.

You should try to bring us back provision.

Cyrano.

A man must carry no weight who would get by there! But there will be surprise for us this night. The French will eat or die… if I mistake not!

Le Bret.

Oh!… tell me!…

Cyrano.

Nay, not yet I am not certain… You will see!

Carbon.

It is disgraceful that we should starve while we're besieging!

Le Bret.

Alas, how full of complication is this siege of Arras! To think that while we are besieging, we should ourselves be caught in a trap and besieged by the Cardinal Infante of Spain.

Cyrano.

It were well done if he should be besieged in his turn.

Le Bret.

I am in earnest.

Cyrano.

Oh! indeed!

Le Bret.

To think you risk a life so precious… for the sake of a letter… Thankless one.

[Seeing him turning to enter the tent.]

Where are you going?

Cyrano.

I am going to write another.

[He enters the tent and disappears.]

SCENE II

The Same, all but Cyrano. The day is breaking in a rosy light. The town of Arras is golden in the horizon. The report of cannon is heard in the distance, followed immediately by the beating of drums far away to the left. Other drums are heard much nearer. Sounds of stirring in the camp. Voices of officers in the distance.

Carbon

[sighing].

The reveille!

[The Cadets move and stretch themselves.]

Nourishing sleep! thou art at an end!… I know well what will be their first cry!

A Cadet

[sitting up].

I am so hungry!

Another.

I am dying of hunger.

Together.

Oh!

Carbon.

Up with you!

Third Cadet.

—Cannot move a limb.

Fourth Cadet.

Nor can I.

The First

[looking at himself in a bit of armour].

My tongue is yellow. The air at this season of the year is hard to digest.

Another.

My coronet for a bit of Chester!

Another.

If none can furnish to my gaster wherewith to make a pint of chyle, I shall retire to my tent—like Achilles!

Another.

Oh! something! were it but a crust!

Carbon

[going to the tent and calling softly].

Cyrano!

All the Cadets.

We are dying!

Carbon

[continuing to speak under hit breath at the opening of the tent].

Come to my aid, you, who have the art of quick retort and gay jest. Come, hearten them up.

Second Cadet

[rushing towards another who is munching something].

What are you crunching there?

First Cadet.

Cannon-wads, soaked in axle-grease! 'Tis poor hunting 'round about Arras!

A Cadet

[entering].

I have been after game.

Another

[following him].

And I after fish.

All

[rushing to the two new-comers].

Well! what have you brought?—a pheasant?—a carp?—Come, show us quick!

The Angler.

A gudgeon!

The Sportsman.

A sparrow!

All together

[beside themselves].

'Tis more than can be borne? We will mutiny!

Carbon.

Cyrano! come to my help.

[The daylight hat now come.]

SCENE III

The Same. Cyrano.

Cyrano

[appearing from the tent, very calm, with a pen stuck behind his ear and a book in his hand].

What is wrong?

[Silence.]

[To the First Cadet.]

Why drag you your legs so sorrowfully?

The Cadet.

I have something in my heels which weighs them down.

Cyrano.

And what may that be?

The Cadet.

My stomach!

Cyrano.

So have I, 'faith!

The Cadet.

It must be in your way!

Cyrano.

Nay, I am all the taller.

A Third.

My stomach's hollow.

Cyrano.

'Faith 'twill make a fine drum to sound the assault.

Another.

I have a ringing in my ears.

Cyrano.

No, no, 'tis false; a hungry stomach has no ears.

Another.

Oh to eat something something oily!

Cyrano

[pulling off the Cadet's helmet and holding it out to him].

Behold your salad!

Another.

What, in God's name, can we devour?

Cyrano

[throwing him the book which he is carrying].

The Iliad.

Another.

The first minister in Paris has his four meals a day!

Cyrano.

'Twere courteous an' he sent you a few partridges!

The Same.

And why not? with wine too!

Cyrano.

A little Burgundy, Richelieu, si'il vous plait!

The Same.

He could send it by one of his friars.

Cyrano.

Ay! by His Eminence Joseph himself.

Another.

I am as ravenous as an ogre!

Cyrano.

Eat your patience, then.

The First Cadet

[shrugging hit shoulders].

Always your pointed word!

Cyrano.

Always your pointed word!Ay, pointed words!
I would fain die thus, some soft summer eve,
Making a pointed word for a good cause.
—To make a soldier's end by soldier's sword,
Wielded by some brave adversary—die
On blood-stained turf, not on a fever-bed,
A point upon my lips, a point within my heart.

Cries from All.

I'm hungry!

Cyrano

[crossing his arms].

I’m hungry!All your thoughts of meat and drink!
Bertrand the fifer!—you were shepherd once,—
Draw from its double leathern case your fife,
Play to these greedy, guzzling soldiers. Play
Old country airs with plaintive rhythm recurring,
Where lurk sweet echoes of the dear home-voices,
Each note of which calls like a little sister,
Those airs slow, slow ascending, as the smoke-wreaths
Rise from the hearthstones of our native hamlets,
Their music strikes the ear like Gascon patois!…

[The old man seats himself, and gets hit flute ready.]

Your flute was now a warrior in durance;
But on its stem your fingers are a-dancing
A bird-like minuet! O flute! Remember
That flutes were made of reeds first, not laburnum;
Make us a music pastoral days recalling—
The soul-time of your youth, in country pastures!

[The old man begins to play the airs of Languedoc.]

Hark to the music, Gascons!… 'Tis no longer
The piercing fife of camp—but 'neath his fingers
The flute of the woods! No more the call to combat,
'Tis now the love-song of the wandering goat-herds!…
Hark!… 'tis the valley, the wet landes, the forest,
The sunburnt shepherd-boy with scarlet béret,
The dusk of evening on the Dordogue river,—
'Tis Gascony! Hark, Gascons, to the music!

[The Cadets sit with bowed heads; their eyes have a far-off look as if dreaming, and they surreptitiously wipe away their tears with their cuffs and the corner of their cloaks.]

Carbon

[to Cyrano in a whisper].

But you make them weep!

Cyrano.

Ay, for home-sickness. A nobler pain than hunger,—'tis of the soul, not of the body! I am well pleased to see their pain change its viscera. Heart-ache is better than stomach-ache.

Carbon.

But you weaken their courage by playing thus on their heart-strings!

Cyrano

[ making a sign to a drummer to approach].

Not I. The hero that sleeps in Gascon blood is ever ready to awake in them. 'Twould suffice…

[He makes a signal; the drum beats.]

All the Cadets

[stand up and rush to take arms].

What? What is it?

Cyrano

[smiling].

You see! One roll of the drum is enough! Goodbye dreams, regrets, native land, love…. All that the pipe called forth the drum has chased away!

A Cadet

[looking towards the back of the stage].

Ho, here comes Monsieur de Guiche.

All the Cadets

[muttering].

Ugh!… Ugh!…

Cyrano

[smiling].

A flattering welcome!

A Cadet.

We are sick to death of him!

Another Cadet.

—With his lace collar over his armour, playing the fine gentleman!

Another.

As if one wore linen over steel!

The First.

It were good for a bandage had he boils on his neck.

The Second.

Another plotting courtier!

Another Cadet.

His uncle's own nephew!

Carbon.

For all that—a Gascon.

The First.

Ay, false Gascon!… trust him not… Gascons should ever be crack-brained…. Nought more dangerous than a rational Gascon.

Le Bret.

How pale he is!

Another.

Oh! he is hungry, just like us poor devils; but under his cuirass, with its fine gilt nails, his stomachache glitters brave in the sun.

Cyrano

[hurriedly].

Let us not seem to suffer either! Out with your cards, pipes, and dice….

[All begin spreading out the games on the drums, the stools, the ground, and on their cloaks, and light long pipes.]

And I shall read Descartes.

[He walks up and down, reading a little book which he has drawn from his pocket. Tableau. Enter De Guiche. All appear absorbed and happy. He is very pale. He goes up to Carbon.]

SCENE IV

The Same. De Guiche.

De Guiche

[to Carbon].

Good-day!

[They examine each other. Aside, with satisfaction.]

Good-day!He's green.

Carbon

[aside].

Good-day! He’s green.He has nothing left but eyes.

De Guiche

[looking at the Cadets].

Here are the rebels! Ay, Sirs, on all sides
I hear that in your ranks you scoff at me;
That the Cadets, these loutish, mountain-bred,
Poor country squires, and barons of Périgord,
Scarce find for me—their Colonel—a disdain
Sufficient! call me plotter, wily courtier!
It does not please their mightiness to see
A point-lace collar on my steel cuirass,—
And they enrage, because a man, in sooth,
May be no ragged-robin, yet a Gascon!

[Silence. All smoke and play.]

Shall I command your Captain punish you?
No.

Carbon.

No.I am free, moreover,—will not punish—

De Guiche.

Ah!

Carbon.

Ah!I have paid my company—'tis mine.
I bow but to headquarters.

De Guiche.

I bow but to headquarters.So?—In faith!
That will suffice.

[Addressing himself to the Cadets.]

That will suffice.I can despise your taunts;
'Tis well known how I bear me in the war;
At Bapaume, yesterday, they saw the rage
With which I beat back the Count of Bucquoi;
Assembling my own men, I fell on his,
And charged three separate times!

Cyrano

[without lifting his eyes from his book].

And charged three separate times!And your white scarf!

De Guiche

[surpsied and gratified].

You know that detail?… Troth! it happened thus:
While caracoling to recall the troops
For the third charge, a band of fugitives
Bore me with them, close by the hostile ranks:
I was in peril—capture, sudden death!—
When I thought of the good expedient
To loosen and let fall the scarf which told
My military rank; thus I contrived
—Without attention waked—to leave the foes,
And suddenly returning, reinforced
With my own men, to scatter them! And now,
—What say you, Sir?

[The Cadets pretend not to be listening, but the cars and the dice-boxes remain suspended in their hands, the smoke of their pipes in their cheeks. They wait.]

Cyrano.

—What say you, Sir?I say, that Henri Quatre
Had not, by any dangerous odds, been forced
To strip himself of his white helmet plume.

[Silent delight. The cards fall, the dice rattle. The smoke is puffed.]

De Guiche.

The ruse succeeded, though!

[Same suspension of play, etc.]

Cyrano.

The ruse succeeded, though!Oh, may be! But
One does not lightly abdicate the honour
To serve as target to the enemy.

[Cards, dice, fall again, and the Cadets smoke with evident delight.]

Had I been present when your scarf fell low,
—Our courage, Sir, is of a different sort—
I would have picked it up and put it on.

De Guiche.

Oh, ay! Another Gascon boast!

Cyrano.

Oh, ay! Another Gascon boast!A boast?
Lend it to me. I pledge myself, to-night,

—With it across my breast,—to lead th' assault.

De Guiche.

Another Gascon vaunt! You know the scarf
Lies with the enemy, upon the brink
Of the stream,… the place is riddled now with shot,—
No one can fetch it hither!

Cyrano

[drawing the scarf from his pocket, and holding it out to him].

No one can fetch it hither!Here it is.

[Silence. The Cadets stifle their laughter in their cards and dice-boxes. De Guiche turns and looks at them; they instantly become grave, and set to play. One of them whistles indifferently the air just played by the fifer.]

De Guiche

[taking the scarf].

I thank you. It will now enable me
To make a signal,—that I had forborne
To make—till now.

[He goet to the rampart, climbs it, and waves the scarf thrice.]

All.

To make—till now.What's that?

The Sentinel

[from the top of the rampart].

To make—till now. What’s that?See you yon man

Down there, who runs?…

De Guiche

[descending].

Down there, who runs?…'Tis a false Spanish spy
Who is extremely useful to my ends.
The news he carries to the enemy
Are those I prompt him with—so, in a word,
We have an influence on their decisions!

Cyrano.

Scoundrel!

De Guiche

[carelessly knotting on his scarf].

Scoundrel!'Tis opportune. What were we saying?
Ah! I have news for you. Last evening
—To victual us—the Marshal did attempt
A final eifort:—secretly he went
To Dourlens, where the King's provisions be.
But—to return to camp more easily—
He took with him a goodly force of troops.
Those who attacked us now would have fine sport!
Half of the army's absent from the camp!

Carbon.

Ay, if the Spaniards knew, 'twere ill for us,
But they know nothing of it?

De Guiche.

But they know nothing of it?Oh! they know.
They will attack us.

Carbon.

They will attack us.Ah!

De Guiche.

They will attack us. Ah!For my false spy
Came to warn me of their attack. He said,
'I can decide the point for their assault;
Where would you have it? I will tell them 'tis
The least defended—they'll attempt you there.'
I answered, 'Good. Go out of camp, but watch
My signal Choose the point from whence it comes.'

Carbon

[to Cadets].

Make ready!

[All rise; sounds of swords and belts being buckled.]

De Guiche.

Make ready!'Twill be in an hour.

First Cadet.

Make ready! ’Twill be in an hour.Good!…

[They all sit down again and take up their games.]

De Guiche

[to Carbon].

Time must be gained. The Marshal will return.

Carbon.

How gain it?

De Guiche.

How gain it?You will all be good enough
To let yourselves be killed.

Cyrano.

To let yourselves be killed.Vengeance! oho!

De Guiche.

I do not say that, if I loved you well,
I had chosen you and yours,—but, as things stand,
—Your courage yielding to no corps the palm—
I serve my King, and serve my grudge as well.

Cyrano.

Permit that I express my gratitude…

De Guiche.

I know you love to fight against fivescore;
You will not now complain of paltry odds.

[He goes up with Carbon.]

Cyrano

[to Cadets].

We shall add to the Gascon coat of arms,
With its six bars of blue and gold, one more—
The blood-red bar that was a-missing there!

[De Guiche speaks in a low voice with Carbon at the back. Orders are given. Preparations go forward. Cyrano goes up to Christian, who stands with crossed arms.]

Cyrano

[putting his hand on Christian's shoulder].

Christian!

Christian

[shaking his head].

Christian!Roxane!

Cyrano.

Christian! Roxane!Alas!

Christian.

Christian! Roxane! Alas!At least, I'd send
My heart's farewell to her in a fair letter!…

Cyrano.

I had suspicion it would be to-day,

[He draws a letter out of hit doublet.]

And had already writ…

Christian.

And had already writ…Show!

Cyrano.

And had already writ… Show!Will you…?

Christian

[taking the letter].

And had already writ… Show! Will you…?Ay!

[He opens and reads it.]

Hold!

Cyrano.

Hold!What?

Christian.

Hold! What?This little spot!

Cyrano

[taking the letter, with an innocent look].

Hold! What? This little spot!A spot?

Christian.

Hold! What? This little spot! A spot?A tear!

Cyrano.

Poets, at last,—by dint of counterfeiting—
Take counterfeit for true—that is the charm!
This farewell letter,—it was passing sad,

I wept myself in writing it!

Christian.

I wept myself in writing it!Wept? why?

Cyrano.

Oh!… death itself is hardly terrible,…
—But, ne'er to see her more! That is death's sting!
—For… I shall never…

[Christian looks at him.]

—For… I shall never…We shall…

[Quickly.]

—For… I shall never… We shall…I mean, you…

Christian

[snatching the letter from him].

Give me that letter!

[A rumour, far off in the camp.]

Voice of Sentinel.

Give me that letter!Who goes there? Hallo!

[Shots—voices—carriage-bells.]

Carbon.

What is it!

A Sentinel

[on the rampart].

What is it!'Tis a carriage!

[All rush to see.]

Cries.

What is it! ’Tis a carriage!In the camp? It enters!—It comes from the enemy!
—Fire!—No!—The coachman cries!—What does he say?
—'On the King's service!'

[Every one is on the rampart, staring. The bells come nearer.]

De Guiche.

—‘On the King's service!’The King's service? How! [All descend and draw up in line.]

Carbon.

Uncover, all!

De Guiche.

Uncover, all!The King's! Draw up in line!
Let him describe his curve as it bents!

[The carriage enters at full speed covered with dint and mud. The curtains are drawn close. Two lackeys behind. It is putted up suddenly.]

Carbon.

Beat a salute!

[A roll of drums. The Cadets uncover.]

De Guiche.

Beat a salute!Lower the carriage-steps!

[Two Cadets rush forward. The door opens.]

Roxane

[jumping down from the carriage].

Beat a salute! Lower the carriage-steps!Good-day!

[All are bowing to the ground, but at the sound of a woman's voice every head is instantly raised.]

SCENE V

The Same. Roxane.

De Guiche.

On the King's service! You?

Roxane.

Ay,—King Love's! What other king?

Cyrano.

Great God!

Christian

[rushing forward].

Why have you come ?

Roxane.

This siege—'tis too long!

Christian.

But why?…

Roxane.

I will tell you all!

Cyrano

[who, at the sound of her voice, has stood still, rooted to the ground, afraid to raise his eyes].

My God! dare I look at her?

De Guiche.

You cannot remain here!

Roxane

[merrily].

But I say yes! Who will push a drum hither for me? [She seats herself on the drum they roll forward.] So! I thank you. [She laughs.] My carriage was fired at [proudly] by the patrol! Look! would you not think 'twas made of a pumpkin, like Cinderella's chariot in the tale,—and the footmen out of rats. [Sending a kiss with her lips to Christian.] Good-morrow! [Examining them all.] You look not merry, any of you! Ah! know you that 'tis a long road to get to Arras? [Seeing Cyrano.] Cousin, delighted!

Cyrano

[coming up to her].

But how, in Heaven's name?…

Roxane.

How found I the way to the army? It was simple enough, for I had but to pass on and on, as far as I saw the country laid waste. Ah! what horrors were there! Had I not seen, then I could never have believed it! Well, gentlemen, if such be the service of your King, I would fainer serve mine!

Cyrano.

But 'tis sheer madness! Where in the fiend's name did you get through!

Roxane.

Where? Through the Spanish lines.

First Cadet.

—For subtle craft, give me a woman!

De Guiche.

But how did you pass through their lines?

Le Bret.

Faith! that must have been a hard matter!…

Roxane.

None too hard. I but drove quietly forward in my carriage, and when some hidalgo of haughty mien would have stayed me, lo! I showed at the window my sweetest smile, and these Señors being (with no disrespect to you) the most gallant gentlemen in the world,—I passed on!

Carbon.

True, that smile is a passport! But you must have been asked frequently to give an acount of where you were going, Madame?

Roxane.

Yes, frequently. Then I would answer, 'I go to see my lover.' At that word the very fiercest Spaniard of them all would gravely shut the carriage-door, and, with a gesture that a king might envy, make signal to his men to lower the muskets levelled at me;—then, with melancholy but withal very graceful dignity—his beaver held to the wind that the plumes might flutter bravely, he would bow low, saying to me, 'Pass on, Señorita!'

Christian.

But, Roxane…

Roxane.

Forgive me that I said, 'my lover'! But bethink you, had I said 'my husband' not one of them had let me pass!

Christian.

But…

Roxane.

What ails you?

De Guiche.

You must leave this place!

Roxane.

I?

Cyrano.

And that instantly!

Le Bret.

No time to lose.

Christian.

Indeed, you must.

Roxane.

But wherefore must I?

Christian.

[embarrassed].

'Tis that…

Cyrano

[the same].

—In three quarters of an hour…

De Guiche

[the same].

—Or four…

Carbon

[the same].

It were best…

Le Bret

[the same].

You might…

Roxane.

You are going to fight?—I stay here.

All.

No, no!

Roxane.

He is my husband! [She throws herself into Christian's arms.] They shall kill us both together!

Christian.

Why do you look at me thus?

Roxane.

I will tell you why!

De Guiche

[in despair].

'Tis a post of mortal danger!

Roxane

[turning round].

Mortal danger?

Cyrano.

Proof enough, that he has put us here!

Roxane

[to De Guiche].

So, Sir, you would have made a widow of me?

De Guiche.

Nay, on my oath…

Roxane.

I will not go! I am reckless now, and I shall not stir from here!—Besides, 'tis amusing!

Cyrano.

Oh-ho! So our précieuse is a heroine!

Roxane.

Monsieur de Bergerac, I am your cousin.

A Cadet.

We will defend you well!

Roxane

[more and more excited].

I have no fear of that, my friends!

Another

[in ecstasy].

The whole camp smells sweet of orris-root!

Roxane.

And, by good luck, I have chosen a hat that will suit well with the battle-field!

[Looking at De Guiche.]

But were it not wisest that the Count retire? They may begin the attack.

De Guiche.

That is not to be brooked! I go to inspect the cannon, and shall return. You have still time—think better of it!

Roxane.

Never!

[De Guiche goes out.]

SCENE VI

The Same, all but De Guiche.

Christian

[entreatingly].

Roxane!

Roxane.

No!

First Cadet

[to the others].

She stays!

All

[hurrying, hustling each other, tidying themselves].

A comb!—Soap!—My uniform is torn!—A needle!—A ribbon!—Lend your mirror!—My cuffs!—Your curling-iron!—A razor!…

Roxane

[to Cyrano, who still pleads with her].

No! Nought shall make me stir from this spot!

Carbon

[who, like the others, has been buckling, dusting, brushing his hat, settling the plume, and drawing on his cuffs, advances to Roxane, and ceremoniously].

It is perchance more seemly, since things are thus, that I present to you some of these gentlemen who are about to have the honour of dying before your eyes.

[Roxane bows, and stands leaning on Christian's arm, while Carbon introduces the Cadets to her.]

Baron de Peyrescous de Colignac!

The Cadet

[with a low reverence].

Madame…

Carbon

[continuing].

Baron de Casterac de Cahuzac,—Vidame de Malgouyre Estressac Lésbas d'Escarabiot, Chevalier d'Antignac—Juzet, Baron Hillot de Blagnac—Saléchan de Castel Crabioules…

Roxane.

But how many names have you each?

Baron Hillot.

Scores!

Carbon

[to Roxane].

Pray, open the hand that holds your kerchief.

Roxane

[opens her hand, and the handkerchief falls].

Why?

[The whole company start forward to pick it up.]

Carbon

[quickly raising it].

My company had no flag. But now, by my faith, they will have the fairest in all the camp!

Roxane

[smiling].

'Tis somewhat small.

Carbon

[tying the handkerchief on the staff of his lance].

But—'tis of lace!

A Cadet

[to the rest].

I could die happy, having seen so sweet a face, if I had something in my stomach—were it but a nut!

Carbon

[who has overheard, indignantly].

Shame on you! What, talk of eating when a lovely woman…!

Roxane.

But your camp air is keen; I myself am famished; Pasties, cold fricassée, old wines—there is my bill of fare! Pray bring it all here.

[Consternation.]

A Cadet.

All that?

Another.

But where on earth find it?

Roxane

[quietly].

In my carriage.

All.

How?

Roxane.

Now serve up—carve! Look a little closer at my coachman, gentlemen, and you will recognise a man most welcome. All the sauces can be sent to table hot, if we will!

The Cadets

[rushing pell-mell to the carriage].

'Tis Ragueneau! [Acclamations.] Oh, oh!

Roxane

[looking after them].

Poor fellows!

Cyrano

[kissing her hand].

Kind fairy!

Ragueneau

[standing on the box like a quack doctor at a fair].

Gentlemen!…

[General delight.]

The Cadets.

Bravo! bravo!

Ragueneau.

…The Spaniards, gazing on a lady so dainty fair, overlooked the fare so dainty!…

[Applause.]

Cyrano

[in a whisper to Christian].

Hark, Christian!

Ragueneau.

…And, occupied with gallantry, perceived not—[He draws a plate from under the seat, and holds it up.]—the galantine!…

[Applause. The galantine passes from hand to hand.]

Cyrano

[still whispering to Christian].

Prythee, one word!

Ragueneau.

And Venus so attracted their eyes that Diana could secretly pass by with—[He holds up a shoulder of mutton]—her fawn!

[Enthusiasm. Twenty hands are held out to seize the shoulder of mutton.]

Cyrano

[in a lower whisper to Christian].

I must speak to you!

Roxane

[to the Cadets, who come down, their arms laden with food].

Put it all on the ground!

[She lays all out on the grass, aided by the two imperturbable lackeys who were behind the carriage.]

Roxane

[to Christian, just as Cyrano is drawing him apart].

Come, make yourself of use!

[Christian comes to help her. Cyrano's uneasiness increases.]

Ragueneau.

Truffled peacock!

First Cadet

[radiant, coming down, cutting a big slice of ham].

By the mass! We shall not brave the last hazard without having had a gullet-full!—[quickly correcting himself on seeing Roxane]—Pardon!—a Balthazar-feast!

Ragueneau

[throwing down the carriage cushions].

The cushions are stuffed with ortolans!

[Hubbub. They tear open and turn out the contents of the cushions. Bursts of laughter—merriment.]

Ragueneau

[throwing down to the Cadets bottles of red wine].

Flasks of rubies!—[and white wine]—Flasks of topaz!

Roxane

[throwing a folded tablecloth at Cyrano's head].

Unfold me that napkin!—Come, come! be nimble!

Ragueneau

[waving a lantern].

Each of the carriage-lamps is a little larder!

Cyrano

[in a low voice to Christian, as they arrange the cloth together].

I must speak with you ere you speak to her.

Ragueneau.

My whip-handle is an Aries sausage!

Roxane

[powring out wine, helping].

Since we are to die, let the rest of the army shift for itself. All for the Gascons! And mark! if De Guiche comes, let no one invite him!

[Going from one to the other.]

There! there! You have time enough! Do not eat too fast!—Drink a little.—Why are you crying?

First Cadet.

It is all so good!…

Roxane.

Tut!—Red or white?—Some bread for Monsieur de Carbon!—a knife! Pass your plate!—a little of the crust? Some more? Let me help you!—Some champagne?—A wing?

Cyrano

[who follows her, his arms laden with dishes, helping her to wait on everybody].

How I worship her!

Roxane

[going up to Christian].

What will you?

Christian.

Nothing.

Roxane.

Nay, nay, take this biscuit, steeped in muscat; come!… but two drops!

Christian

[trying to detain her].

Oh! tell me why you came?

Roxane.

Wait, my first duty is to these poor fellows.—Hush! In a few minutes…

Le Bret

[who had gone up to pass a loaf on the end of a lance to the sentry on the rampart].

De Guiche!

Cyrano.

Quick! hide flasks, plates, pie-dishes, game baskets! Hurry!—Let us all look unconscious!

[To Ragueneau.]

Up on your seat!—Is everything covered up?

[In an instant all has been pushed into the tents, or hidden under doublets, cloaks, and beavers. De Guiche enters hurriedly, stops suddenly, sniffing the air. Silence.]

SCENE VII

The Same. De Guiche.

De Guiche.

It smells good here.

A Cadet

[humming].

Lo! lo-lo!

De Guiche

[looking at him].

What is the matter?—You are very red!

The Cadet.

The matter?—Nothing!—'Tis my blood—boiling at the thought of the coming battle!

Another.

Poum, poum—poum…

De Guiche

[turning round].

What's that?

The Cadet

[slightly drunk].

Nothing!…'Tis a song!—a little…

De Guiche.

You are merry, my friend!

The Cadet.

The approach of danger is intoxicating!

De Guiche

[calling Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, to give him an order].

Captain! I…

[He stops short on seeing him.]

Plague take me! but you look bravely, too!

Carbon

[crimson in the face, hiding a bottle behind his back, with an evasive movement].

Oh!…

De Guiche.

I have one cannon left, and have had it carried here—[He points behind the scenes]—in that corner;… Your men can use it in case of need.

A Cadet

[reeling slightly].

Charming attention!

Another

[with a gracious smile].

Kind solicitude!

De Guiche.

How? they are all gone crazy!

[Drily.]

As you are not used to cannon, beware of the recoil.

First Cadet.

Pooh!

De Guiche

[furious, going up to him].

But…

The Cadet.

Gascon cannons never recoil!

De Guiche

[taking him by the arm and shaking him].

You are tipsy! but what with?

The Cadet

[grandiloquently].

—With the smell of powder!

De Guiche

[shrugging his shoulders and pushing him away, then going quickly to Roxane].

Briefly, Madame, what decision do you deign to take?

Roxane.

I stay here.

De Guiche.

You must fly!

Roxane.

No! I will stay.

De Guiche.

Since things are thus, give me a musket, one of you!

Carbon.

Wherefore?

De Guiche.

Because I too—mean to remain.

Cyrano.

At last! This is true valour, Sir!

First Cadet.

Then you are a Gascon after all, spite of your lace collar?

Roxane.

What is all this?

De Guiche.

I leave no woman in peril.

Second Cadet

[to the First].

Hark you! Think you not we might give him something to eat?

[All the viands reappear as if by magic.]

De Guiche

[whose eyes sparkle].

Victuals!

The Third Cadet.

Yes, you'll see them coming from under every coat!

De Guiche

[controlling himself, haughtily].

Do you think I will eat your leavings?

Cyrano

[saluting him].

You make progress.

De Guiche

[proudly, with a light touch of accent on the word 'breaking'].

I will fight without br-r-eaking my fast!

First Cadet

[wild with delight].

Br-r-r-eaking! He has got the accent!

De Guiche

[laughing].

I?

The Cadet.

'Tis a Gascon!

[All begin to dance.]

Carbon de Castel-Jaloux

[who had disappeared behind the rampart, reappearing on the ridge].

I have drawn my pikemen up in line. They are a resolute troop.

[He points to a row of pikes, the tops of which are seen over the ridge.]

De Guiche

[bowing to Roxane].

Will you accept my hand, and accompany me while I review them?

[She takes it, and they go up towards the rampart. All uncover and follow them.]

Christian

[going to Cyrano, eagerly].

Tell me quickly!

[As Roxane appears on the ridge, the tops of the lances disappear, lowered for the salute, and a shout is raised. She bows.]

The Pikemen

[outside].

Vivat!

Christian.

What is this secret?

Cyrano.

If Roxane should…

Christian.

Should?…

Cyrano.

Speak of the letters?…

Christian.

Yes! I know!…

Cyrano.

Do not spoil all by seeming surprised…

Christian.

At what?

Cyrano.

I must explain to you!… Oh! 'tis no great matter,—I but thought of it to-day on seeing her. You have…

Christian.

Tell quickly!

Cyrano.

You have… written to her oftener than you think….

Christian.

How so?

Cyrano.

Thus, 'faith! I had taken it in hand to express your flame for you!… At times I wrote without saying, 'I am writing'!

Christian.

Ah!…

Cyrano.

'Tis simple enough!

Christian.

But how did you contrive, since we have been cut off, thus… to?…

Cyrano.

…Oh! before dawn… I was able to get through…

Christian

[folding his arms].

That was simple too? And how oft, pray you, have I written?… Twice in the week?… Three times?… Four?…

Cyrano.

More often still.

Christian.

What! Every day?

Cyrano.

Yes, every day, twice.

Christian

[violently].

And that became so mad a joy for you, that you braved death…

Cyrano

[seeing Roxane returning].

Hush! Not before her!

[He goes hurriedly into his tent.]

SCENE VIII

Roxane, Christian. In the distance Cadets coming and going. Carbon and De Guiche give orders.

Roxane

[running up to Christian].

Ah, Christian, at last!…

Christian

[taking her hands].

Ah, Christian, at last!… Now tell me why—
Why, by these fearful paths so perilous—
Across these ranks of ribald soldiery,
You have come?

Roxane.

You have come? Love, your letters brought me here!

Christian.

What say you?

Roxane.

What say you? 'Tis your fault if I ran risks!
Your letters turned my head! Ah! all this month,
How many!—and the last one ever bettered
The one that went before!

Christian.

The one that went before! What! for a few
Inconsequent love-letters!

Roxane.

Inconsequent love-letters! Hold your peace!
Ah! you cannot conceive it! Ever since
That night, when, in a voice all new to me,
Under my window you revealed your soul—
Ah! ever since I have adored you! Now
Your letters all this whole month long!—meseemed
As if I heard that voice so tender, true,
Sheltering, close! Thy fault, I say! It drew me,
The voice o' th' night! Oh! wise Penelope
Would ne'er have stayed to broider on her hearth-stone,
If her Ulysses could have writ such letters!
But would have cast away her silken bobbins,
And fled to join him, mad for love as Helen!

Christian.

But…

Roxane.

But… I read, read again—grew faint for love;
I was thine utterly. Each separate page
Was like a fluttering flower-petal, loosed
From your own soul, and wafted thus to mine.
Imprinted in each burning word was love
Sincere, all-powerful…

Christian.

Sincere, all-powerful… A love sincere!
Can that be felt, Roxane?

Roxane.

Can that be felt, Roxane? Ay, that it can!

Christian.

You come…?

Roxane.

You come…? Christian, my true lord, I come—
(Were I to throw myself, here, at your knees,
You would raise me—but 'tis my soul I lay
At your feet—you can raise it nevermore!)
—I come to crave your pardon. (Ay, 'tis time
To sue for pardon, now that death may come!)
For the insult done to you when, frivolous,
At first I loved you only for your face!

Christian

[horror-stricken].

Roxane!

Roxane.

Roxane! And later, love—less frivolous—
Like a bird that spreads its wings, but cannot fly—
Arrested by your beauty, by your soul

Drawn close—I loved for both at once!

Christian.

Drawn close—I loved for both at once! And now?

Roxane.

Ah! you yourself have triumphed o'er yourself,
And now, I love you only for your soul!

Christian

[stepping backwards].

Roxane!

Roxane.

Roxane! Be happy. To be loved for beauty—
A poor disguise that time so soon wears threadbare—
Must be to noble souls—to souls aspiring—
A torture. Your dear thoughts have now effacèd
That beauty that so won me at the outset.
Now I see clearer—and I no more see it!

Christian.

Oh!…

Roxane.

Oh!… You are doubtful of such victory?

Christian

[pained].

Roxane!

Roxane.

Roxane! I see you cannot yet believe it.
Such love…?

Christian.

Such love…? I do not ask such love as that!

I would be loved more simply; for…

Roxane.

I would be loved more simply; for… For that
Which they have all in turns loved in thee? Shame!
Oh! be loved henceforth in a better way!

Christian.

No! the first love was best!

Roxane.

No! the first love was best! Ah! how you err!
'Tis now that I love best—love well! 'Tis that
Which is thy true self, see!—that I adore!
Were your brilliance dimmed…

Christian.

Were your brilliance dimmed… Hush!

Roxane.

Were your brilliance dimmed… Hush! I should love still!
Ay, if your beauty should to-day depart…

Christian.

Say not so!

Roxane.

Say not so! Ay, I say it!

Christian.

Say not so! Ay, I say it! Ugly? How?

Roxane.

Ugly! I swear I'd love you still!

Christian.

Ugly! I swear I’d love you still! My God!

Roxane.

Are you content at last?

Christian

[in a choked voice].

Are you content at last? Ay!…

Roxane.

Are you content at last? Ay!… What is wrong?

Christian

[gently pushing her away].

Nothing…. I have two words to say:—one second…

Roxane

But?…

Christian

[pointing to the Cadets].

Those poor fellows, shortly doomed to death,—
My love deprives them of the sight of you:
Go,—speak to them, smile on them ere they die!

Roxane

[deeply affected].

Dear Christian!…

[She goes up to the Cadets, who respectfully crowd round her.]

SCENE IX

Christian, Cyrano. At back Roxane talking to Carbon and some Cadets.

Christian

[calling towards Cyrano's tent].

Dear Christian!… Cyrano!

Cyrano

[reappearing, fully armed].

Dear Christian!… Cyrano! What? Why so pale?

Christian.

She does not love me!

Cyrano.

She does not love me! What?

Christian.

She does not love me! What? 'Tis you she loves!

Cyrano.

No!

Christian.

No! —For she loves me only for my soul!

Cyrano.

Truly?

Christian.

Truly? Yes! Thus—you see, that soul is you,…
Therefore, 'tis you she loves!—And you—love her!

Cyrano.

I?

Christian.

I? Oh, I know it!

Cyrano.

I? Oh, I know it! Ay, 'tis true!

Christian.

I? Oh, I know it! Ay, ’tis true! You love

To madness!

Cyrano.

To madness! Ay! and worse!

Christian.

To madness! Ay! and worse! Then tell her so!

Cyrano.

No!

Christian.

No! And why not!

Cyrano.

No! And why not! Look at my face!—be answered!

Christian.

She'd love me—were I ugly.

Cyrano.

She’d love me—were I ugly. Said she so?

Christian.

Ay! in those words!

Cyrano.

Ay! in those words! I'm glad she told you that!
But pooh!—believe it not! I am well pleased
She thought to tell you. Take it not for truth.
Never grow ugly:—she'd reproach me then!

Christian.

That I intend discovering!

Cyrano.

That I intend discovering! No! I beg!

Christian.

Ay! she shall choose between us!—Tell her all!

Cyrano.

No! no! I will not have it! Spare me this—

Christian.

Because my face is haply fair, shall I
Destroy your happiness? 'Twere too unjust!

Cyrano.

And I,—because by Nature's freak I have
The gift to say—all that perchance you feel,
Shall I be fatal to your happiness?

Christian.

Tell all!

Cyrano.

Tell all! It is ill done to tempt me thus!

Christian.

Too long I've borne about within myself
A rival to myself—I'll make an end!

Cyrano.

Christian!

Christian.

Christian! Our union, without witness—secret—
Clandestine,—can be easily dissolved
If we survive.

Cyrano.

If we survive. My God!—he still persists!

Christian.

I will be loved myself—or not at all!
—I'll go see what they do—there, at the end
Of the post: speak to her, and then let her choose

One of us two!

Cyrano.

One of us two! It will be you!

Christian.

One of us two! It will be you! Pray God!

[He calls.]

Roxane!

Cyrano.

Roxane! No! no!

Roxane

[coming up quickly].

Roxane! No! no! What?

Christian.

Roxane! No! no! What? Cyrano has things
Important for your ear….

[She hastens to Cyrano. Christian goes out.]

SCENE X

Roxane, Cyrano. Then Le Bret, Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, the Cadets, Ragueneau, De Guiche, etc.

Roxane.

Important for your ear…. Important, how?…

Cyrano

[in despair. To Roxane].

He's gone! 'Tis nought!—Oh, you know how he sees

Importance in a trifle!

Roxane

[warmly].

Importance in a trifle! Did he doubt
Of what I said?—Ah yes, I saw he doubted!

Cyrano

[taking her hand].

But are you sure you told him all the truth?

Roxane.

Yes, I would love him were he…

[She hesitates.]

Yes, I would love him were he… Does that word
Embarrass you before my face, Roxane?

Roxane.

I…

Cyrano

[smiling sadly].

'Twill not hurt me! Say it! If he were
Ugly!…

Roxane.

Ugly!… Yes, ugly!

[Musket-report outside.]

Ugly!… Yes, ugly! Hark! I hear a shot!

Cyrano

[ardently].

Hideous!

Roxane.

Hideous! Hideous! yes!

Cyrano.

Hideous! Hideous! yes! Disfigured.

Roxane.

Hideous! Hideous! yes! Disfigured. Ay!

Cyrano.

Grotesque?

Roxane.

Grotesque? He could not be grotesque to me!

Cyrano.

You'd love the same?…

Roxane.

You’d love the same?… The same—nay, even more!

Cyrano

[losing command over himself—aside].

My God! it's true, perchance, love waits me there!

[To Roxane.]

I… Roxane… listen…

Le Bret

[entering hurriedly—to Cyrano].

I… Roxane… listen… Cyrano!

Cyrano

[turning round].

I… Roxane… listen… Cyrano! What?

Le Bret.

I… Roxane… listen… Cyrano! What? Hush!

[He whispers something to him.]

Cyrano

[letting go Roxane's hand and exclaiming].

Ah God!

Roxane.

Ah God! What is it?

Cyrano

[to himself—stunned].

Ah God! What is it? All is over now.

[Renewed reports.]

Roxane.

What is the matter? Hark! another shot!

[She goes up to look outside.]

Cyrano.

It is too late, now I can never tell!

Roxane

[trying to rush out].

What has chanced?

Cyrano

[rushing to stop her].

What has chanced? Nothing!

[Some Cadets enter, trying to hide something they are carrying, and close round it to prevent Roxane approaching.]

Roxane.

What has chanced? Nothing! And those men?

Cyrano

[drawing her away].

What has chanced? Nothing! And those men? Let be!—

Roxane.

What were you just about to say before…?

Cyrano.

What was I saying? Nothing now, I swear!

[Solemnly.]

I swear that Christian's soul, his nature, were…

[Hastily correcting himself.]

Nay, that they are, the noblest, greatest…

Roxane.

Nay, that they are, the noblest, greatest… Were?

[with a loud scream.]

Oh!

[She rushes up, pushing every one aside.]

Cyrano.

Oh! All is over now!

Roxane

[seeing Christian lying on the ground, wrapped in his cloak].

Oh! All is over now! O Christian!

Le Bret

[to Cyrano].

Struck by the first shot of the enemy!

[Roxane flings herself down by Christian. Fresh reports of cannon—clash of arms—clamour—beating of drums.]

Carbon

[with sword in the air].

They come! Your muskets!

[Followed by the Cadets, he passes to the other side of the ramparts.]

Roxane.

They come! Your muskets! Christian!

The Voice of Carbon

[from the other side].

They come! Your muskets! Christian! Ho! make haste!

Roxane.

Christian!

Carbon.

Christian! Form line!

Roxane.

Christian! Form line! Christian!

Carbon.

Christian! Form line! Christian! Handle your match!

[Ragueneau rushes up, bringing water in a helmet.]

Christian

[in a dying voice].

Roxane!

Cyrano

[quickly, whispering into Christian's ear, while Roxane distractedly tears a piece of linen from his breast, which she dips into the water, trying to stanch the bleeding].

Roxane! I told her all. She loves you still.

[Christian closes hit eyes.]

Roxane.

How, my sweet love?

Carbon.

How, my sweet love? Draw ramrods!

Roxane

[to Cyrano].

How, my sweet love? Draw ramrods! He is not dead?

Carbon.

Open your charges with your teeth!

Roxane.

Open your charges with your teeth! His cheek
Grows cold against my own!

Carbon.

Grows cold against my own!Ready! Present!

Roxane

[seeing a letter in Christian's doublet].

A letter!…
A letter!… 'Tis for me!

[She opens it.]

Cyrano

[aside].

A letter!… 'Tis for me! My letter!

Carbon.

A letter!… 'Tis for me! My letter! Fire!

[Musket reports—shouts—noise of battle.]

Cyrano

[trying to disengage his hand, which Roxane on her knees is holding].

But, Roxane, hark, they fight!

Roxane

[detaining him].

But, Roxane, hark, they fight! Stay yet a while.
For he is dead. You knew him, you alone.

[Weeping quietly.]

Ah, was not his a beauteous soul, a soul
Wondrous!

Cyrano

[standing up—bareheaded].

Wondrous! Ay, Roxane.

Roxane.

Wondrous! Ay, Roxane. An inspired poet?

Cyrano.

Ay, Roxane.

Roxane.

Ay, Roxane. And a mind sublime?

Cyrano.

Ay, Roxane. And a mind sublime? Oh yes.

Roxane.

A heart too deep for common minds to plumb,
A spirit subtle, charming?

Cyrano

[firmly].

A spirit subtle, charming? Ay, Roxane.

Roxane

[flinging herself on the dead body].

Dead, my love!

Cyrano

[aside—drawing his sword].

Dead, my love! Ay, and let me die to-day,
Since, all unconscious, she mourns me in him!

[Sounds of trumpets in the distance.]

De Guiche

[appearing on the ramparts—bareheaded—with a wound on his forehead—in a voice of thunder].

It is the signal! Trumpet flourishes!
The French bring the provisions into camp!
Hold but the place a while!

Roxane.

Hold but the place a while! See, there is blood
Upon the letter—tears!

A Voice

[outside—shouting].

Upon the letter—tears! Surrender!

Voice of Cadets.

Upon the letter—tears! Surrender! No!

Ragueneau

[standing on the top of his carriage, watches the battle over the edge of the ramparts].

The danger's ever greater!

Cyrano

[to De Guiche pointing to Roxane].

The danger’s ever greater! I will charge!
Take her away!

Roxane

[kissing the letter in a half-extinguished voice].

Take her away! O God! his tears! his blood!…

Ragueneau

[jumping down from the carriage and rushing towards her].

She's swooned away!

De Guiche

[on the rampart—to the Cadetswith fury].

She’s swooned away! Stand fast!

A Voice

[outside].

She’s swooned away! Stand fast! Lay down your arms!

The Cadets.

No!

Cyrano

[to De Guiche].

No! Now that you have proved your valour, Sir,

[Pointing to Roxane.]

Fly, and save her!

De Guiche

[rushing to Roxane, and carrying her away in his arms].

Fly, and save her! So be it! Gain but time,
The victory's ours!

Cyrano.

The victory’s ours! Good.

[Calling out to Roxane, whom De Guiche, aided by Ragueneau, is bearing away in a fainting condition.]

The victory’s ours! Good. Farewell, Roxane!

[Tumult. Shouts. Cadets reappear, wounded, falling on the scene. Cyrano, rushing to the battle, is stopped by Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, who is streaming with blood.]

Carbon.

We are breaking! I am wounded—wounded twice!

Cyrano

[shouting to the Gascons].

Gascons! Ho, Gascons! Never turn your backs!

[To Carbon, whom he is supporting.]

Have no fear! I have two deaths to avenge:
My friend who's slain;—and my dead happiness!

[They come downCyrano brandishing the lance to which is attached Roxane's handkerchief.]

Float there! laced kerchief broidered with her name!

[He sticks it in the ground and shouts to the Cadets].

Fall on them, Gascons! Crush them!

[To the Fifer.]

Fall on them, Gascons! Crush them! Fifer, play!

[The fife plays. The wounded try to rise. Some Cadets, falling one over the other down the slope, group themselves round Cyrano and the little flag. The carriage is crowded with men inside and outside, and, bristling with arquebuses, is turned into a fortress.]

A Cadet

[appearing on the crest, beaten backwards, but still fighting, cries].

They're climbing the redoubt!

[and falls dead.]

Cyrano.

They’re climbing the redoubt! Let us salute them!

[The rampart is covered instantly by a formidable row of enemies. The standards of the Imperialists are raised.]

Fire!

[General discharge.]

A Cry in the Enemy's Ranks.

Fire! Fire!

[A deadly answering volley. The Cadets fall on all sides.]

A Spanish Officer

[uncovering].

Fire! Fire! Who are these men who rush on death?

Cyrano

[reciting, erect, amid a storm of bullets].

The bold Cadets of Gascony,
Of Carbon of Castel-Jaloux!
Brawling, swaggering boastfully,

[He rushes forward, followed by a few survivors.]

The bold Cadets…

[His voice is drowned in the battle.]

Curtain.