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- The Follies of Love - 1/9 -


THE FOLLIES OF LOVE

BY JEAN-FRANCOIS REGARD

Translated and Adapted by

Frank J. Morlock C 1987

CHARACTERS: Albert Worthy Arabella Jenny Scratch

ACT I.

Scene: Outside a country house at the end of the 17th century. Dawn.

(Jenny enters following Arabella.)

Jenny Why, when every one else is sleeping, what demon, if you please, tugs you by the ear and makes you go up and out so early?

Arabella Peace, shut up, speak low--you know my plan. Worthy has come back.

Jenny Worthy?

Arabella (romantically) >From France!

Jenny How do you know that, Madame, I beg to ask?

Arabella I believed he'd make an appearance hereabouts--more with my heart than my eyes.

Jenny I am only astonished that you've avoided the watchful Uncle Albert. My word, here is a guide more excellent than love.

Arabella I was at my window waiting for the day. Then, someone came. Seeing the door open, I seized the opportunity offered by the occasion--more to take the air than to flatter my hopes that Mr. Worthy would be attracted here just to see me.

Jenny There's no need for you to worry. It's understandable that the poor boy would fall all over himself to see you. He comes tonight, and at daybreak, you wait for him--just to flatter his love. You lose little time. But, what, if by chance, Albert, your tutor, who is jealous by nature, should find us? What would you say to him?

Arabella (with determination) I intend to free myself from the jealous fool. I have languished too long under his cruel domain. I'm taking off the mask, so he can see how little regard I have for him, and how I intend to live from now on--and how much I hate him!

Jenny May heaven assist you in this praiseworthy plan! As for me, I'd rather serve the devil--yes, the devil. At least when he held his Sabbath, I would have some rest. But, in my state, evening, morning, day or night--I have no peace. I'll have a breakdown soon. He scolds and grinds his teeth the live long day. "Do this, do that, come, go, go upstairs, go downstairs--close the door and window. Prevent, if you can, anyone from appearing." He stops, he worries, he runs around without knowing where. All night he prowls like a frenzied wolf. He doesn't permit us to close our eyes. As for him, when he sleeps, one eye's shut, the other's watching. He never laughed in his life. He's jealous, stupid, brutal to the extreme, miserly, hard, peevish. I'd prefer to beg for my bread, from door to door, than to serve a master like this any longer. In short, I don't like him.

Arabella Henceforth, Jenny, all our troubles are over. How my Worthy differs from the portrait you paint. From my most tender years, nursed by his own mother, our hearts were leagued in sympathy. And love grew by the most charming means, finally united again by mutual oaths. Although suffering from this frightful constraint for some time, which annoys and overwhelms me, I am a woman who will take violent action! Dressed like a man--a knight errant, I will free myself from Albert and his harsh tyranny. I am going to run away and seek adventures.

Jenny Oh, there are adventures enough to be found without going so far away. I can warn you that you will find enough of them.

Arabella You don't know my character yet. When one puts a yoke on my contrary disposition, constraint only wakens my desires. I have lived in the world in the midst of pleasure. Presently, Worthy is ready to marry me. Many wild ideas pass through my head. I have the heart, the wit, the sense,--the right! In short, you will soon see the little traits of my character. But, why is the door open?

Jenny Fie. Your old Cereberus is on the prowl. What will he ask? He prowls everywhere. He stands sentinel all night--and at daybreak he goes scouting. If, by good luck, he could be trapped into some ambush--a little spoke put in his wheel, with some compromising story--and blackmailed-- But, peace, I hear a noise: someone's coming--let's listen.

(Arabella and Jenny draw back as Albert enters.)

Albert I've circled the house, all night long, and found everybody asleep. This will foil the efforts of my enemies. I've even patrolled outside. Thank heaven, everything is all right. A secret terror disquiets me, despite my efforts. I've seen a certain inquisitive person prowling around here, from a distance, who seems to me to be examining the place. For nearly six months, my cowardly complacence has endangered my prudent action, and to let Arabella breathe easily disquiets my soul, so I must shut her up. You don't make girls wise by softness. I am going to bar the windows--with bars as big as my hand--to foil all human efforts. But, I hear some noise! I see an object which walks and turns about in the half light. Who goes there? . . . Nobody answers. This affected silence bodes no good.

Jenny I tremble.

Albert It's jenny. Arabella is with her.

Arabella So, it's you, sir, playing sentinel?

Albert Yes, yes, it's me, it's me. But at this time of day, what are you doing in this place, if you please?

Arabella Neither Jenny nor I sleep in the morning, so we came here to be under the trees and to see the sun rise and take the air.

Jenny (trying to be helpful) Yes.

Albert You are to watch the dawn and take the air from your window. You are conspiring here to betray me.

Jenny (aside) That wouldn't be a bad idea!

Albert What do you say?

Jenny Not a word.

Albert Prudent, circumspect girls who are not up to some intrigue sleep tranquilly in their bed--and don't take the air so early--be it hot or cold.

Jenny And how, if you please, do you expect us to rest when all night one hears nothing but coming, going, opening, closing, crying, tossing, scratching, running, sneezing, coughing? When, by great luck, I fall asleep--a frightful jangling of keys starts me awake. I try to go back to sleep, but cannot. A Wandering Jew who does evil with the greatest pleasure, a mischievous imp vomited by hell to earth, to make an eternal war with sleeping men begins his uproar and annoys us all.

Albert And what is this imp and Wandering Jew?

Jenny You.

Albert Me?

Jenny Yes, you. I believe that these rude manners come from some spirit who is in need of prayers. And to better understand whether this angry thing was soul or body, that made this Sabbath, one evening, I took a cord with two ends firmly attached upstairs. It had the effect I hoped. So soon as all were retired to sleep, I waited in person without noise or light, on guard in a corner. I wasn't long waiting. So pitty-pat down the spirit came, noisily tumbling over the cord. He measured the stairs with his nose. Suddenly, I heard him cry: "Help, I am dead." As these cries increased--at which I laughed very much--I


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