Act I. Scene 5
Cyrano, Le Bret.
CYRANO (to Le Bret): Now talk — I listen. (He stands at the buffet, and placing before him first the macaroon): Dinner! . . . (then the grapes): Dessert! . . . (then the glass of water): Wine! . . . (he seats himself): So! And now to table! Ah! I was hungry, friend, nay, ravenous! (eating): You said — ?
LE BRET: These fops, would-be belligerent, Will, if you heed them only, turn your head! . . . Ask people of good sense if you would know The effect of your fine insolence —
CYRANO (finishing his macaroon): Enormous!
LE BRET: The Cardinal . . .
CYRANO (radiant): The Cardinal — was there?
LE BRET: Must have thought it . . .
CYRANO: Original, i' faith!
LE BRET: But . . .
CYRANO: He's an author. 'Twill not fail to please him That I should mar a brother-author's play.
LE BRET: You make too many enemies by far!
CYRANO (eating his grapes): How many think you I have made to-night?
LE BRET: Forty, no less, not counting ladies.
LE BRET: Montfleury first, the bourgeois, then De Guiche, The Viscount, Baro, the Academy . . .
CYRANO: Enough! I am o'erjoyed!
LE BRET: But these strange ways, Where will they lead you, at the end? Explain Your system — come!
CYRANO: I in a labyrinth Was lost — too many different paths to choose; I took . . .
LE BRET: Which?
CYRANO: Oh! by far the simplest path . . . Decided to be admirable in all!
LE BRET (shrugging his shoulders): So be it! But the motive of your hate To Montfleury — come, tell me!
CYRANO (rising): This Silenus, Big-bellied, coarse, still deems himself a peril — A danger to the love of lovely ladies, And, while he sputters out his actor's part, Makes sheep's eyes at their boxes — goggling frog! I hate him since the evening he presumed To raise his eyes to hers . . . Meseemed I saw A slug crawl slavering o'er a flower's petals!
LE BRET (stupefied): How now? What? Can it be . . . ?
CYRANO (laughing bitterly): That I should love? . . . (Changing his tone, gravely): I love.
LE BRET: And may I know? . . . You never said . . .
CYRANO: Come now, bethink you! . . . The fond hope to be Beloved, e'en by some poor graceless lady, Is, by this nose of mine for aye bereft me; — This lengthy nose which, go where'er I will, Pokes yet a quarter-mile ahead of me; But I may love — and who? 'Tis Fate's decree I love the fairest — how were't otherwise?
LE BRET: The fairest? . . .
CYRANO: Ay, the fairest of the world, Most brilliant — most refined — most golden-haired!
LE BRET: Who is this lady?
CYRANO: She's a danger mortal, All unsuspicious — full of charms unconscious, Like a sweet perfumed rose — a snare of nature, Within whose petals Cupid lurks in ambush! He who has seen her smile has known perfection, — Instilling into trifles grace's essence, Divinity in every careless gesture; Not Venus' self can mount her conch blown sea-ward, As she can step into her chaise a porteurs, Nor Dian fleet across the woods spring-flowered, Light as my Lady o'er the stones of Paris! . . .
LE BRET: Sapristi! all is clear!
CYRANO: As spiderwebs!
LE BRET: Your cousin, Madeleine Robin?
LE BRET: Well, but so much the better! Tell her so! She saw your triumph here this very night!
CYRANO: Look well at me — then tell me, with what hope This vile protuberance can inspire my heart! I do not lull me with illusions — yet At times I'm weak: in evening hours dim I enter some fair pleasance, perfumed sweet; With my poor ugly devil of a nose I scent spring's essence — in the silver rays I see some knight — a lady on his arm, And think 'To saunter thus 'neath the moonshine, I were fain to have my lady, too, beside!' Thought soars to ecstasy . . . O sudden fall! — The shadow of my profile on the wall!
LE BRET (tenderly): My friend! . . .
CYRANO: My friend, at times 'tis hard, 'tis bitter, To feel my loneliness — my own ill-favor . . .
LE BRET (taking his hand): You weep?
CYRANO: No, never! Think, how vilely suited Adown this nose a tear its passage tracing! I never will, while of myself I'm master, let the divinity of tears — their beauty Be wedded to such common ugly grossness. Nothing more solemn than a tear — sublimer; And I would not by weeping turn to laughter The grave emotion that a tear engenders!
LE BRET: Never be sad! What's love? — a chance of Fortune!
CYRANO (shaking his head): Look I a Caesar to woo Cleopatra? A Tito to aspire to Berenice?
LE BRET: Your courage and your wit! — The little maid Who offered you refreshment even now, Her eyes did not abhor you — you saw well!
CYRANO (impressed): True!
LE BRET: Well, how then? . . . I saw Roxane herself Was death-pale as she watched the duel.
LE BRET: Her heart, her fancy, are already caught! Put it to th' touch!
CYRANO: That she may mock my face? That is the one thing on this earth I fear!
THE PORTER (introducing some one to Cyrano): Sir, some one asks for you . . .
CYRANO (seeing the duenna): God! her duenna!