Cyrano de Bergerac By Edmond Rostand Act III — Scenes 2-3

Act III. Scene 2

Roxane, De Guiche, the duenna standing a little way off.

ROXANE (courtesying to De Guiche): I was going out.

DE GUICHE: I come to take my leave.

ROXANE: Whither go you?

DE GUICHE: To the war.

ROXANE: Ah!

DE GUICHE: Ay, to-night.

ROXANE: Oh!

DE GUICHE: I am ordered away. We are to besiege Arras.

ROXANE: Ah — to besiege? . . .

DE GUICHE: Ay. My going moves you not, meseems.

ROXANE: Nay . . .

DE GUICHE: I am grieved to the core of the heart. Shall I again behold you? . . . When? I know not. Heard you that I am named commander? . . .

ROXANE (indifferently): Bravo!

DE GUICHE: Of the Guards regiment.

ROXANE (startled): What! the Guards?

DE GUICHE: Ay, where serves your cousin, the swaggering boaster. I will find a way to revenge myself on him at Arras.

ROXANE (choking): What mean you? The Guards go to Arras?

DE GUICHE (laughing): Bethink you, is it not my own regiment?

ROXANE (falling seated on the bench — aside): Christian!

DE GUICHE: What ails you?

ROXANE (moved deeply): Oh — I am in despair! The man one loves! — at the war!

DE GUICHE (surprised and delighted): You say such sweet words to me! 'Tis the first time! — and just when I must quit you!

ROXANE (collected, and fanning herself): Thus, — you would fain revenge your grudge against my cousin?

DE GUICHE: My fair lady is on his side?

ROXANE: Nay, — against him!

DE GUICHE: Do you see him often?

ROXANE: But very rarely.

DE GUICHE: He is ever to be met now in company with one of the cadets, . . . one New — villen — viller —

ROXANE: Of high stature?

DE GUICHE: Fair-haired!

ROXANE: Ay, a red-headed fellow!

DE GUICHE: Handsome! . . .

ROXANE: Tut!

DE GUICHE: But dull-witted.

ROXANE: One would think so, to look at him! (Changing her tone): How mean you to play your revenge on Cyrano? Perchance you think to put him i' the thick of the shots? Nay, believe me, that were a poor vengeance — he would love such a post better than aught else! I know the way to wound his pride far more keenly!

DE GUICHE: What then? Tell . . .

ROXANE: If, when the regiment march to Arras, he were left here with his beloved boon companions, the Cadets, to sit with crossed arms so long as the war lasted! There is your method, would you enrage a man of his kind; cheat him of his chance of mortal danger, and you punish him right fiercely.

DE GUICHE (coming nearer): O woman! woman! Who but a woman had e'er devised so subtle a trick?

ROXANE: See you not how he will eat out his heart, while his friends gnaw their thick fists for that they are deprived of the battle? So are you best avenged.

DE GUICHE: You love me, then, a little? (She smiles): I would fain — seeing you thus espouse my cause, Roxane — believe it a proof of love!

ROXANE: 'Tis a proof of love!

DE GUICHE (showing some sealed papers): Here are the marching orders; they will be sent instantly to each company — except — (He detaches one): — This one! 'Tis that of the Cadets. (He puts it in his pocket): This I keep. (Laughing): Ha! ha! ha! Cyrano! His love of battle! . . . So you can play tricks on people? . . . you, of all ladies!

ROXANE: Sometimes!

DE GUICHE (coming close to her): Oh! how I love you! — to distraction! Listen! To-night — true, I ought to start — but — how leave you now that I feel your heart is touched! Hard by, in the Rue d'Orleans, is a convent founded by Father Athanasius, the syndic of the Capuchins. True that no layman may enter — but — I can settle that with the good Fathers! Their habit sleeves are wide enough to hide me in. 'Tis they who serve Richelieu's private chapel: and from respect to the uncle, fear the nephew. All will deem me gone. I will come to you, masked. Give me leave to wait till tomorrow, sweet Lady Fanciful!

ROXANE: But, of this be rumored, your glory . . .

DE GUICHE: Bah!

ROXANE: But the siege — Arras . . .

DE GUICHE: 'Twill take its chance. Grant but permission.

ROXANE: No!

DE GUICHE: Give me leave!

ROXANE (tenderly): It were my duty to forbid you!

DE GUICHE: Ah!

ROXANE: You must go! (Aside): Christian stays here. (Aloud): I would have you heroic — Antoine!

DE GUICHE: O heavenly word! You love, then, him? . . .

ROXANE: . . . For whom I trembled.

DE GUICHE (in an ecstasy): Ah! I go then! (He kisses her hand): Are you content?

ROXANE: Yes, my friend!

(He goes out.)

THE DUENNA (making behind his back a mocking courtesy): Yes, my friend!

ROXANE (to the duenna): Not a word of what I have done. Cyrano would never pardon me for stealing his fighting from him! (She calls toward the house): Cousin!

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