Cyrano de Bergerac By Edmond Rostand Act III — Scene 1

Act III. Scene 1

Ragueneau, the duenna. Then Roxane, Cyrano, and two pages.

RAGUENEAU: — And then, off she went, with a musketeer! Deserted and ruined too, I would make an end of all, and so hanged myself. My last breath was drawn: — then in comes Monsieur de Bergerac! He cuts me down, and begs his cousin to take me for her steward.

THE DUENNA: Well, but how came it about that you were thus ruined?

RAGUENEAU: Oh! Lise loved the warriors, and I loved the poets! What cakes there were that Apollo chanced to leave were quickly snapped up by Mars. Thus ruin was not long a-coming.

THE DUENNA (rising, and calling up to the open window): Roxane, are you ready? They wait for us!

ROXANE'S VOICE (from the window): I will but put me on a cloak!

THE DUENNA (to Ragueneau, showing him the door opposite): They wait us there opposite, at Clomire's house. She receives them all there to-day — the precieuses, the poets; they read a discourse on the Tender Passion.

RAGUENEAU: The Tender Passion?

THE DUENNA (in a mincing voice): Ay, indeed! (Calling up to the window): Roxane, an you come not down quickly, we shall miss the discourse on the Tender Passion!

ROXANE'S VOICE: I come! I come!

(A sound of stringed instruments approaching.)

CYRANO'S VOICE (behind the scenes, singing): La, la, la, la!

THE DUENNA (surprised): They serenade us?

CYRANO (followed by two pages with arch-lutes): I tell you they are demi-semi-quavers, demi-semi-fool!

FIRST PAGE (ironically): You know then, Sir, to distinguish between semi-quavers and demi-semi- quavers?

CYRANO: Is not every disciple of Gassendi a musician?

THE PAGE (playing and singing): La, la!

CYRANO (snatching the lute from him, and going on with the phrase): In proof of which, I can continue! La, la, la, la!

ROXANE (appearing on the balcony): What? 'Tis you?

CYRANO (going on with the air, and singing to it): 'Tis I, who come to serenade your lilies, and pay my devoir to your ro-o- oses!

ROXANE: I am coming down!

(She leaves the balcony.)

THE DUENNA (pointing to the pages): How come these two virtuosi here?

CYRANO: 'Tis for a wager I won of D'Assoucy. We were disputing a nice point in grammar; contradictions raged hotly — ''Tis so!' 'Nay, 'tis so!' when suddenly he shows me these two long-shanks, whom he takes about with him as an escort, and who are skillful in scratching lute-strings with their skinny claws! 'I will wager you a day's music,' says he! — And lost it! Thus, see you, till Phoebus' chariot starts once again, these lute-twangers are at my heels, seeing all I do, hearing all I say, and accompanying all with melody. 'Twas pleasant at the first, but i' faith, I begin to weary of it already! (To the musicians): Ho there! go serenade Montfleury for me! Play a dance to him! (The pages go toward the door. To the duenna): I have come, as is my wont, nightly, to ask Roxane whether . . . (To the pages, who are going out): Play a long time, — and play out of tune! (To the duenna): . . . Whether her soul's elected is ever the same, ever faultless!

ROXANE (coming out of the house): Ah! How handsome he is, how brilliant a wit! And — how well I love him!

CYRANO (smiling): Christian has so brilliant a wit?

ROXANE: Brighter than even your own, cousin!

CYRANO: Be it so, with all my heart!

ROXANE: Ah! methinks 'twere impossible that there could breathe a man on this earth skilled to say as sweetly as he all the pretty nothings that mean so much — that mean all! At times his mind seems far away, the Muse says naught — and then, presto! he speaks — bewitchingly! enchantingly!

CYRANO (incredulously): No, no!

ROXANE: Fie! That is ill said! But lo! men are ever thus! Because he is fair to see, you would have it that he must be dull of speech.

CYRANO: He hath an eloquent tongue in telling his love?

ROXANE: In telling his love? why, 'tis not simple telling, 'tis dissertation, 'tis analysis!

CYRANO: How is he with the pen?

ROXANE: Still better! Listen, — here: — (Reciting): 'The more of my poor heart you take The larger grows my heart!' (Triumphantly to Cyrano): How like you those lines?

CYRANO: Pooh!

ROXANE: And thus it goes on . . . 'And, since some target I must show For Cupid's cruel dart, Oh, if mine own you deign to keep, Then give me your sweet heart!'

CYRANO: Lord! first he has too much, then anon not enough! How much heart does the fellow want?

ROXANE: You would vex a saint! . . . But 'tis your jealousy.

CYRANO (starting): What mean you?

ROXANE: Ay, your poet's jealousy! Hark now, if this again be not tender-sweet? — 'My heart to yours sounds but one cry: If kisses fast could flee By letter, then with your sweet lips My letters read should be! If kisses could be writ with ink, If kisses fast could flee!'

CYRANO (smiling approvingly in spite of himself): Ha! those last lines are, — hm! . . . hm! . . . (Correcting himself — contemptuously): — They are paltry enough!

ROXANE: And this . . .

CYRANO (enchanted): Then you have his letters by heart?

ROXANE: Every one of them!

CYRANO: By all oaths that can be sworn, — 'tis flattering!

ROXANE: They are the lines of a master!

CYRANO (modestly): Come, nay . . . a master? . . .

ROXANE: Ay, I say it — a master!

CYRANO: Good — be it so.

THE DUENNA (coming down quickly): Here comes Monsieur de Guiche! (To Cyrano, pushing him toward the house): In with you! 'twere best he see you not; it might perchance put him on the scent . . .

ROXANE (to Cyrano): Ay, of my own dear secret! He loves me, and is powerful, and, if he knew, then all were lost! Marry! he could well deal a deathblow to my love!

CYRANO (entering the house): Good! good!

(De Guiche appears.)

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