Act V. Scene 5
Roxane, Cyrano and, for a moment, Sister Martha.
ROXANE (without turning round): What was I saying? . . . (She embroiders. Cyrano, very pale, his hat pulled down over his eyes, appears. The sister who had announced him retires. He descends the steps slowly, with a visible difficulty in holding himself upright, bearing heavily on his cane. Roxane still works at her tapestry): Time has dimmed the tints . . . How harmonize them now? (To Cyrano, with playful reproach): For the first time Late! — For the first time, all these fourteen years!
CYRANO (who has succeeded in reaching the chair, and has seated himself — in a lively voice, which is in great contrast with his pale face): Ay! It is villainous! I raged — was stayed . . .
ROXANE: By? . . .
CYRANO: By a bold, unwelcome visitor.
ROXANE (absently, working): Some creditor?
CYRANO: Ay, cousin, — the last creditor Who has a debt to claim from me.
ROXANE: And you Have paid it?
CYRANO: No, not yet! I put it off; — Said, 'Cry you mercy; this is Saturday, When I have get a standing rendezvous That naught defers. Call in an hour's time!'
ROXANE (carelessly): Oh, well, a creditor can always wait! I shall not let you go ere twilight falls.
CYRANO: Haply, perforce, I quit you ere it falls!
(He shuts his eyes, and is silent for a moment. Sister Martha crosses the park from the chapel to the flight of steps. Roxane, seeing her, signs to her to approach.)
ROXANE (to Cyrano): How now? You have not teased the Sister?
CYRANO (hastily opening his eyes): True! (In a comically loud voice): Sister! come here! (The sister glides up to him): Ha! ha! What? Those bright eyes Bent ever on the ground?
SISTER MARTHA (who makes a movement of astonishment on seeing his face): Oh!
CYRANO (in a whisper, pointing to Roxane): Hush! 'tis naught! — (Loudly, in a blustering voice): I broke fast yesterday!
SISTER MARTHA (aside): I know, I know! That's how he is so pale! Come presently To the refectory, I'll make you drink A famous bowl of soup . . . You'll come?
CYRANO: Ay, ay!
SISTER MARTHA: There, see! You are more reasonable to-day!
ROXANE (who hears them whispering): The Sister would convert you?
SISTER MARTHA: Nay, not I!
CYRANO: Hold! but it's true! You preach to me no more, You, once so glib with holy words! I am Astonished! . . . (With burlesque fury): Stay, I will surprise you too! Hark! I permit you . . . (He pretends to be seeking for something to tease her with, and to have found it): . . . It is something new! — To — pray for me, to-night, at chapel-time!
ROXANE: Oh! oh!
CYRANO (laughing): Good Sister Martha is struck dumb!
SISTER MARTHA (gently): I did not wait your leave to pray for you.
(She goes out.)
CYRANO (turning to Roxane, who is still bending over her work): That tapestry! Beshrew me if my eyes Will ever see it finished!
ROXANE: I was sure To hear that well-known jest!
(A light breeze causes the leaves to fall.)
CYRANO: The autumn leaves!
ROXANE (lifting her head, and looking down the distant alley): Soft golden brown, like a Venetian's hair. — See how they fall!
CYRANO: Ay, see how brave they fall, In their last journey downward from the bough, To rot within the clay; yet, lovely still, Hiding the horror of the last decay, With all the wayward grace of careless flight!
ROXANE: What, melancholy — you?
CYRANO (collecting himself): Nay, nay, Roxane!
ROXANE: Then let the dead leaves fall the way they will . . . And chat. What, have you nothing new to tell, My Court Gazette?
CYRANO (growing whiter and whiter): Saturday The nineteenth: having eaten to excess Of pear-conserve, the King felt feverish; The lancet quelled this treasonable revolt, And the august pulse beats at normal pace. At the Queen's ball on Sunday thirty score Of best white waxen tapers were consumed. Our troops, they say, have chased the Austrians. Four sorcerers were hanged. The little dog Of Madame d'Athis took a dose . . .
ROXANE: I bid You hold your tongue, Monsieur de Bergerac!
CYRANO: Monday — not much — Claire changed protector.