Act IV. Scene 4
The same. De Guiche.
DE GUICHE (to Carbon): Good-day! (They examine each other. Aside, with satisfaction): He's green.
CARBON (aside): He has nothing left but eyes.
DE GUICHE (looking at the cadets): Here are the rebels! Ay, Sirs, on all sides I hear that in your ranks you scoff at me; That the Cadets, these loutish, mountain-bred, Poor country squires, and barons of Perigord, Scarce find for me — their Colonel — a disdain Sufficient! call me plotter, wily courtier! It does not please their mightiness to see A point-lace collar on my steel cuirass, — And they enrage, because a man, in sooth, May be no ragged-robin, yet a Gascon! (Silence. All smoke and play): Shall I command your Captain punish you? No.
CARBON: I am free, moreover, — will not punish —
DE GUICHE: Ah!
CARBON: I have paid my company — 'tis mine. I bow but to headquarters.
DE GUICHE: So? — in faith! That will suffice. (Addressing himself to the cadets): I can despise your taunts 'Tis well known how I bear me in the war; At Bapaume, yesterday, they saw the rage With which I beat back the Count of Bucquoi; Assembling my own men, I fell on his, And charged three separate times!
CYRANO (without lifting his eyes from his book): And your white scarf?
DE GUICHE (surprised and gratified): You know that detail? . . . Troth! It happened thus: While caracoling to recall the troops For the third charge, a band of fugitives Bore me with them, close by the hostile ranks: I was in peril — capture, sudden death! — When I thought of the good expedient To loosen and let fall the scarf which told My military rank; thus I contrived — Without attention waked — to leave the foes, And suddenly returning, reinforced With my own men, to scatter them! And now, — What say you, Sir?
(The cadets pretend not to be listening, but the cards and the dice-boxes remain suspended in their hands, the smoke of their pipes in their cheeks. They wait.)
CYRANO: I say, that Henri Quatre Had not, by any dangerous odds, been forced To strip himself of his white helmet plume.
(Silent delight. The cards fall, the dice rattle. The smoke is puffed.)
DE GUICHE: The ruse succeeded, though!
(Same suspension of play, etc.)
CYRANO: Oh, may be! But One does not lightly abdicate the honor To serve as target to the enemy (Cards, dice, fall again, and the cadets smoke with evident delight): Had I been present when your scarf fell low, — Our courage, Sir, is of a different sort — I would have picked it up and put it on.
DE GUICHE: Oh, ay! Another Gascon boast!
CYRANO: A boast? Lend it to me. I pledge myself, to-night, — With it across my breast, — to lead th' assault.
DE GUICHE: Another Gascon vaunt! You know the scarf Lies with the enemy, upon the brink Of the stream, . . . the place is riddled now with shot, — No one can fetch it hither!
CYRANO (drawing the scarf from his pocket, and holding it out to him): Here it is.
(Silence. The cadets stifle their laughter in their cards and dice-boxes. De Guiche turns and looks at them; they instantly become grave, and set to play. One of them whistles indifferently the air just played by the fifer.)
DE GUICHE (taking the scarf): I thank you. It will now enable me To make a signal, — that I had forborne To make — till now.
(He goes to the rampart, climbs it, and waves the scarf thrice.)
ALL: What's that?
THE SENTINEL (from the top of the rampart): See you yon man Down there, who runs? . . .
DE GUICHE (descending): 'Tis a false Spanish spy Who is extremely useful to my ends. The news he carries to the enemy Are those I prompt him with — so, in a word, We have an influence on their decisions!
DE GUICHE (carelessly knotting on his scarf): 'Tis opportune. What were we saying? Ah! I have news for you. Last evening — To victual us — the Marshal did attempt A final effort: — secretly he went To Dourlens, where the King's provisions be. But — to return to camp more easily — He took with him a goodly force of troops. Those who attacked us now would have fine sport! Half of the army's absent from the camp!
CARBON: Ay, if the Spaniards knew, 'twere ill for us, But they know nothing of it?
DE GUICHE: Oh! they know. They will attack us.
DE GUICHE: For my false spy Came to warn me of their attack. He said, 'I can decide the point for their assault; Where would you have it? I will tell them 'tis The least defended — they'll attempt you there.' I answered, 'Good. Go out of camp, but watch My signal. Choose the point from whence it comes.'