Cyrano fills the "poetry-sacks" with pastry for Roxane's duenna, who goes into the street to eat, then he and Roxane, who are cousins, reminisce about their childhood games. She tenderly bandages his injured hand with her handkerchief while she tells him shyly that she is in love with someone in his regiment. Cyrano's hopes rise. Then she adds that this man is young, fearless — and handsome.
Cyrano asks if she has spoken with him. "Only with our eyes," she replies. But Cyrano asks, "What if he is a savage uncultured, unlettered?" Roxane declares that no one with such beautiful hair could fail to be eloquent.
She has come to Cyrano because Christian, her love, has joined Cyrano's regiment. She knows that it is the custom to provoke an outsider to a duel, since the regiment is composed entirely of men from Cascony. She wants Cyrano to protect Christian, and he promises to do so.
In the beginning of this scene, Rostand very skillfully builds up the hopes of Cyrano and the audience. Roxane commences quite naturally with childhood memories and, until she pronounces the word, "handsome," there is really no reason to believe that she is not going to confess her love for Cyrano. This, of course, makes Cyrano's disappointment more acute. Promising to protect Christian is a bitter pill for him to swallow. This promise, however, is preparation for what is to follow.
Cyrano never seems to feel that Roxane should be any different than she is — only that his nose is at fault. Because he and Roxane have known each other so long, Cyrano may see qualities in his lady love that are not readily apparent to others. it does not seem possible that one of his intelligence and sensitivity should be in love with a woman totally committed to the shallowness and pretentiousness of the précieuse philosophy.