Act V. Scene 2
Roxane; the Duke de Grammont, formerly Count de Guiche. Then Le Bret and Ragueneau.
THE DUKE: And you stay here still — ever vainly fair, Ever in weeds?
THE DUKE: Still faithful?
THE DUKE (after a pause): Am I forgiven?
ROXANE: Ay, since I am here.
THE DUKE: His was a soul, you say? . . .
ROXANE: Ah! — when you knew him!
THE DUKE: Ah, may be! . . . I, perchance, too little knew him! . . . And his last letter, ever next your heart?
ROXANE: Hung from this chain, a gentle scapulary.
THE DUKE: And, dead, you love him still?
ROXANE: At times, — meseems He is but partly dead — our hearts still speak, As if his love, still living, wrapped me round!
THE DUKE (after another pause): Cyrano comes to see you?
ROXANE: Often, ay. Dear, kind old friend! We call him my 'Gazette.' He never fails to come: beneath this tree They place his chair, if it be fine: — I wait, I broider; — the clock strikes; — at the last stroke I hear, — for now I never turn to look — Too sure to hear his cane tap down the steps; He seats himself: — with gentle raillery He mocks my tapestry that's never done; He tells me all the gossip of the week . . . (Le Bret appears on the steps): Why, here's Le Bret! (Le Bret descends): How goes it with our friend?
LE BRET: Ill! — very ill.
THE DUKE: How?
ROXANE (to the Duke): He exaggerates!
LE BRET: All that I prophesied: desertion, want! . . . His letters now make him fresh enemies! — Attacking the sham nobles, sham devout, Sham brave, — the thieving authors, — all the world!
ROXANE: Ah! but his sword still holds them all in check; None get the better of him.
THE DUKE (shaking his head): Time will show!
LE BRET: Ah, but I fear for him — not man's attack, — Solitude — hunger — cold December days, That wolf-like steal into his chamber drear: — Lo! the assassins that I fear for him! Each day he tightens by one hole his belt: That poor nose — tinted like old ivory: He has retained one shabby suit of serge.
THE DUKE: Ay, there is one who has no prize of Fortune! — Yet is not to be pitied!
LE BRET (with a bitter smile): My Lord Marshal! . . .
THE DUKE: Pity him not! He has lived out his vows, Free in his thoughts, as in his actions free!
LE BRET (in the same tone): My Lord! . . .
THE DUKE (haughtily): True! I have all, and he has naught; . . . Yet I were proud to take his hand! (Bowing to Roxane): Adieu!
ROXANE: I go with you.
(The Duke bows to Le Bret, and goes with Roxane toward the steps.)
THE DUKE (pausing, while she goes up): Ay, true, — I envy him. Look you, when life is brimful of success — Though the past hold no action foul — one feels A thousand self-disgusts, of which the sum Is not remorse, but a dim, vague unrest; And, as one mounts the steps of worldly fame, The Duke's furred mantles trail within their folds A sound of dead illusions, vain regrets, A rustle — scarce a whisper — like as when, Mounting the terrace steps, by your mourning robe Sweeps in its train the dying autumn leaves.
ROXANE (ironically): You are pensive?
THE DUKE: True! I am! (As he is going out, suddenly): Monsieur Le Bret! (To Roxane): A word, with your permission? (He goes to Le Bret, and in a low voice): True, that none Dare to attack your friend; — but many hate him; Yesterday, at the Queen's card-play, 'twas said 'That Cyrano may die — by accident!' Let him stay in — be prudent!
LE BRET (raising his arms to heaven): Prudent! He! . . . He's coming here. I'll warn him — but! . . .
ROXANE (who has stayed on the steps, to a sister who comes toward her): What is it?
THE SISTER: Ragueneau would see you, Madame.
ROXANE: Let him come. (To the Duke and Le Bret): He comes to tell his troubles. Having been An author (save the mark!) — poor fellow — now By turns he's singer . . .
LE BRET: Bathing-man . . .
ROXANE: Then actor . . .
LE BRET: Beadle . . .
ROXANE: Wig-maker . . .
LE BRET: Teacher of the lute . . .
ROXANE: What will he be to-day, by chance?
RAGUENEAU (entering hurriedly): Ah! Madame! (He sees Le Bret): Ah! you here, Sir!
ROXANE (smiling): Tell all your miseries To him; I will return anon.
RAGUENEAU: But, Madame . . .
(Roxane goes out with the Duke. Ragueneau goes toward Le Bret.)