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- Vautrin - 20/27 -

Your congratulations? I accept them (they shake hands) in the same spirit as that in which they are offered.

Inez (to Raoul) Manage that he go away, and do you remain. (To the Marquis) My mother requires me for a few moments, and I will return with her.

SCENE NINTH. The Marquis and Raoul; later, Vautrin.

The Marquis Will you agree to a meeting without seconds--a fight to the death?

Raoul Without seconds?

The Marquis Do you realize that both of us cannot exist in the same world?

Raoul Your family is a powerful one; your proposition exposes me, in case I am victorious, to their vengeance. Allow me to say that I do not want to exchange this house for a prison. (Vautrin appears.) I will fight to the death--but not without seconds.

The Marquis Will those on your side stop the duel?

Raoul Our mutual hatred is sufficient guarantee against that.

Vautrin (aside) Well, now--we always commit some blunder in the moment of success! To the death! This child would gamble away his life as if it belonged to him.

The Marquis Very well, monsieur; to-morrow at eight o'clock, we meet at the terrace of Saint-Germain, and drive from there to the forest.

Vautrin (coming forward) You will not go. (To Raoul) A duel? Are the principals of equal rank? Is this gentleman, like you, the only son of a noble house? Would your father Don Inigo Juan Varago de los Amoagos de Cardaval las Frescas y Peral, allow you to do it, Raoul?

The Marquis I have consented to fight with an unknown man, but the greatness of the house to which the gentleman belongs cannot nullify the agreement.

Raoul (to the marquis) Nevertheless, it seems to me, monsieur, that we can treat each other with courtesy, and act like people who esteem each other too much to take the trouble to hate and to kill.

The Marquis (looking at Vautrin) May I know the name of your friend?

Vautrin By whom have I to honor to be referred to?

The Marquis By the Marquis de Montsorel, sir.

Vautrin (eyeing him from head to foot) I have the right to refuse you, but I will tell you my name, once for all, in a very short time, and you won't repeat it. I am to be one of the seconds of Monsieur de Frescas. (Aside) And Buteux shall be the other.

SCENE TENTH. Raoul, Vautrin, the Marquis and the Duchesse de Montsorel; Later, the Duchesse de Christoval and Inez.

Footman (announcing a visitor) Her grace the Duchesse de Montsorel.

Vautrin (to Raoul) Let me have no nonsense; be calm and firm! I stand face to face with the enemy.

The Marquis Ah, mother dear, and are you come to witness my defeat? All is ended. The De Christoval family has trifled with us. This gentleman (he points to Vautrin) represents both families.

The Duchesse de Montsorel Then Raoul has a family? (The Duchesse de Christoval and her daughter enter and salute the speaker. To the Duchesse de Christoval) Madame, my son has told me what has occurred to frustrate all our hopes.

The Duchesse de Christoval The interest which yesterday you manifested in Monsieur de Frescas has, I see, changed to indifference?

The Duchesse de Montsorel (scrutinizing Vautrin) Is it through this gentleman that all your doubts have been satisfied? Who is he?

The Duchesse de Christoval He represents the father of Monsieur de Frescas, don Amoagos, and the father of Inez, Monsieur de Christoval. He has brought us the news we expected, and brought letters from my husband.

Vautrin (aside) Am I to act this part long?

The Duchesse de Montsorel (to Vautrin) Doubtless you have known the family of Monsieur de Frescas for some time?

Vautrin My acquaintance is limited to a father and an uncle--(to Raoul) You have not even the mournful satisfaction of remembering your mother. (To the Duchess) She died in Mexico, shortly after her marriage.

The Duchesse de Montsorel Monsieur de Frescas, then, was born in Mexico?

Vautrin Of course he was.

The Duchesse de Montsorel (to the Duchesse de Christoval) My dear, we are being imposed upon. (To Raoul) Sir, you did not come from Mexico. Your mother is not dead, is she? And have you not been abandoned since your childhood?

Raoul Would that my mother were alive!

Vautrin Pardon me, madame, but I am here to satisfy your curiosity, if you wish to learn the secret history which it is not necessary you should seek from this gentleman. (To Raoul) Not a word!

The Duchesse de Montsorel It is he! And this man is making him the tool in some sinister undertaking. (She approaches the marquis) My son--

The Marquis You have put them out, mother, and I share your impression of this man (he indicated Vautrin); but only a woman has the right to express her thoughts in a way to expose this frightful imposture.

The Duchesse de Montsorel Frightful indeed! But pray leave us.

The Marquis Ladies, in spite of my ill-fortune, do not blame me if I still have hopes. (To Vautrin) Often between the cup and the lip there is--

Vautrin Death!

(Exit the Marquis, after exchanging bows with Raoul.)

The Duchesse de Montsorel (to the Duchesse de Christoval) My dear duchess, I implore you to excuse Inez. We cannot make our explanations before her.

The Duchesse de Christoval (to her daughter, making signs to her to leave the room) I will rejoin you in a moment.

Raoul (kissing his hand to Inez) This is perhaps good-bye forever!

(Exit Inez.)

SCENE ELEVENTH. The Duchesse de Christoval, the Duchesse de Montsorel, Raoul and Vautrin.

Vautrin (to the Duchesse de Christoval) Do you suspect the motive that brings madame here?

The Duchesse de Christoval After what happened yesterday I prefer not to say.

Vautrin I guessed her love for him immediately.

Raoul (to Vautrin) This atmosphere of falsehood stifles me.

Vautrin (to Raoul) One word more, and the affair will be ended.

The Duchesse de Montsorel Madame, I know well how strange my present conduct must appear to you, and I won't attempt to justify it. There are solemn duties before which the conventions and even the laws of society must give way. What is the character and what the powers of this man?

The Duchesse de Christoval (to whom Vautrin makes a signal) I am forbidden to answer this question.

Vautrin - 20/27

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