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- Cyrano De Bergerac - 20/48 -

By dint of seeing you at every turn Make friends,--and fawn upon your frequent friends With mouth wide smiling, slit from ear to ear! I pass, still unsaluted, joyfully, And cry,--What, ho! another enemy?

LE BRET: Lunacy!

CYRANO: Well, what if it be my vice, My pleasure to displease--to love men hate me! Ah, friend of mine, believe me, I march better 'Neath the cross-fire of glances inimical! How droll the stains one sees on fine-laced doublets, From gall of envy, or the poltroon's drivel! --The enervating friendship which enfolds you Is like an open-laced Italian collar, Floating around your neck in woman's fashion; One is at ease thus,--but less proud the carriage! The forehead, free from mainstay or coercion, Bends here, there, everywhere. But I, embracing Hatred, she lends,--forbidding, stiffly fluted, The ruff's starched folds that hold the head so rigid; Each enemy--another fold--a gopher, Who adds constraint, and adds a ray of glory; For Hatred, like the ruff worn by the Spanish, Grips like a vice, but frames you like a halo!

LE BRET (after a silence, taking his arm): Speak proud aloud, and bitter!--In my ear Whisper me simply this,--She loves thee not!

CYRANO (vehemently): Hush!

(Christian has just entered, and mingled with the cadets, who do not speak to him; he has seated himself at a table, where Lise serves him.)

Scene 2.IX.

Cyrano, Le Bret, the cadets, Christian de Neuvillette.

A CADET (seated at a table, glass in hand): Cyrano! (Cyrano turns round): The story!

CYRANO: In its time!

(He goes up on Le Bret's arm. They talk in low voices.)

THE CADET (rising and coming down): The story of the fray! 'Twill lesson well (He stops before the table where Christian is seated): This timid young apprentice!

CHRISTIAN (raising his head): 'Prentice! Who?

ANOTHER CADET: This sickly Northern greenhorn!


FIRST CADET (mockingly): Hark! Monsieur de Neuvillette, this in your ear: There's somewhat here, one no more dares to name, Than to say 'rope' to one whose sire was hanged!

CHRISTIAN: What may that be?

ANOTHER CADET (in a terrible voice): See here! (He puts his finger three times, mysteriously, on his nose): Do you understand?

CHRISTIAN: Oh! 'tis the. . .

ANOTHER: Hush! oh, never breathe that word, Unless you'd reckon with him yonder!

(He points to Cyrano, who is talking with Le Bret.)

ANOTHER (who has meanwhile come up noiselessly to sit on the table--whispering behind him): Hark! He put two snuffling men to death, in rage, For the sole reason they spoke through their nose!

ANOTHER (in a hollow voice, darting on all-fours from under the table, where he had crept): And if you would not perish in flower o' youth, --Oh, mention not the fatal cartilage!

ANOTHER (clapping him on the shoulder): A word? A gesture! For the indiscreet His handkerchief may prove his winding-sheet!

(Silence. All, with crossed arms, look at Christian. He rises and goes over to Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, who is talking to an officer, and feigns to see nothing.)


CARBON (turning and looking at him from head to foot): Sir!

CHRISTIAN: Pray, what skills it best to do To Southerners who swagger?. . .

CARBON: Give them proof That one may be a Northerner, yet brave!

(He turns his back on him.)

CHRISTIAN: I thank you.

FIRST CADET (to Cyrano): Now the tale!

ALL: The tale!

CYRANO (coming toward them): The tale?. . . (All bring their stools up, and group round him, listening eagerly. Christian is astride a chair): Well! I went all alone to meet the band. The moon was shining, clock-like, full i' th' sky, When, suddenly, some careful clockwright passed A cloud of cotton-wool across the case That held this silver watch. And, presto! heigh! The night was inky black, and all the quays Were hidden in the murky dark. Gadsooks! One could see nothing further. . .

CHRISTIAN: Than one's nose!

(Silence. All slowly rise, looking in terror at Cyrano, who has stopped-- dumfounded. Pause.)

CYRANO: Who on God's earth is that?

A CADET (whispering): It is a man Who joined to-day.

CYRANO (making a step toward Christian): To-day?

CARBON (in a low voice): Yes. . .his name is The Baron de Neuvil. . .

CYRANO (checking himself): Good! It is well. . . (He turns pale, flushes, makes as if to fall on Christian): I. . . (He controls himself): What said I?. . . (With a burst of rage): MORDIOUS!. . . (Then continues calmly): That it was dark. (Astonishment. The cadets reseat themselves, staring at him): On I went, thinking, 'For a knavish cause I may provoke some great man, some great prince, Who certainly could break'. . .

CHRISTIAN: My nose!. . .

(Every one starts up. Christian balances on his chair.)

CYRANO (in a choked voice): . . .'My teeth! Who would break my teeth, and I, imprudent-like, Was poking. . .'

CHRISTIAN: My nose!. . .

CYRANO: 'My finger,. . .in the crack Between the tree and bark! He may prove strong

Cyrano De Bergerac - 20/48

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