CRIES (from all the audience, at the entrance of a plump little man, joyously excited): Ah! Ragueneau!
LIGNIERE (to Christian): 'Tis the famous tavern-keeper Ragueneau.
RAGUENEAU (dressed in the Sunday clothes of a pastry-cook, going up quickly to Ligniere): Sir, have you seen Monsieur de Cyrano?
LIGNIERE (introducing him to Christian): The pastry-cook of the actors and the poets!
RAGUENEAU (overcome): You do me too great honor . . .
LIGNIERE: Nay, hold your peace, Maecenas that you are!
RAGUENEAU: True, these gentlemen employ me . . .
LIGNIERE: On credit! He is himself a poet of a pretty talent . . .
RAGUENEAU: So they tell me.
LIGNIERE: — Mad after poetry!
RAGUENEAU: 'Tis true that, for a little ode . . .
LIGNIERE: You give a tart . . .
RAGUENEAU: Oh! — a tartlet!
LIGNIERE: Brave fellow! He would fain fain excuse himself! — And for a triolet, now, did you not give in exchange . . .
RAGUENEAU: Some little rolls!
LIGNIERE (severely): They were milk-rolls! And as for the theater, which you love?
RAGUENEAU: Oh! to distraction!
LIGNIERE: How pay you your tickets, ha? — with cakes. Your place, to-night, come tell me in my ear, what did it cost you?
RAGUENEAU: Four custards, and fifteen cream-puffs. (He looks around on all sides): Monsieur de Cyrano is not here? 'Tis strange.
LIGNIERE: Why so?
RAGUENEAU: Montfleury plays!
LIGNIERE: Ay, 'tis true that that old wine-barrel is to take Phedon's part to-night; but what matter is that to Cyrano?
RAGUENEAU: How? Know you not? He has got a hot hate for Montfleury, and so! — has forbid him strictly to show his face on the stage for one whole month.
LIGNIERE (drinking his fourth glass): Well?
RAGUENEAU: Montfleury will play!
CUIGY: He can not hinder that.
RAGUENEAU: Oh! oh! that I have come to see!
FIRST MARQUIS: Who is this Cyrano?
CUIGY: A fellow well skilled in all tricks of fence.
SECOND MARQUIS: Is he of noble birth?
CUIGY: Ay, noble enough. He is a cadet in the Guards. (Pointing to a gentleman who is going up and down the hall as if searching for some one): But 'tis his friend Le Bret, yonder, who can best tell you. (He calls him): Le Bret! (Le Bret comes towards them): Seek you for De Bergerac?
LE BRET: Ay, I am uneasy . . .
CUIGY: Is it not true that he is the strangest of men?
LE BRET (tenderly): True, that he is the choicest of earthly beings!
LE BRET: Musician!
LIGNIERE: And of how fantastic a presence!
RAGENEAU: Marry, 'twould puzzle even our grim painter Philippe de Champaigne to portray him! Methinks, whimsical, wild, comical as he is, only Jacques Callot, now dead and gone, had succeeded better, and had made of him the maddest fighter of all his visored crew — with his triple-plumed beaver and six-pointed doublet — the sword-point sticking up 'neath his mantle like an insolent cocktail! He's prouder than all the fierce Artabans of whom Gascony has ever been and will ever be the prolific Alma Mater! Above his Toby ruff he carries a nose! — ah, good my lords, what a nose is his! When one sees it one is fain to cry aloud, 'Nay! 'tis too much! He plays a joke on us!' Then one laughs, says 'He will anon take it off.' But no! — Monsieur de Bergerac always keeps it on.
LE BRET (throwing back his head): He keeps it on — and cleaves in two any man who dares remark on it!
RAGUENEAU (proudly): His sword — 'tis one half of the Fates' shears!
FIRST MARQUIS (shrugging his shoulders): He will not come!
RAGUENEAU: I say he will! and I wager a fowl — a la Ragueneau.
THE MARQUIS (laughing): Good!
(Murmurs of admiration in hall. Roxane has just appeared in her box. She seats herself in front, the duenna at the back. Christian, who is paying the buffet-girl, does not see her entrance.)