CARBON (to cadets): Make ready!
(All rise; sounds of swords and belts being buckled.)
DE GUICHE: 'Twill be in an hour.
FIRST CADET: Good! . . .
(They all sit down again and take up their games.)
DE GUICHE (to Carbon): Time must be gained. The Marshal will return.
CARBON: How gain it?
DE GUICHE: You will all be good enough To let yourselves to be killed.
CYRANO: Vengeance! oho!
DE GUICHE: I do not say that, if I loved you well, I had chosen you and yours, — but, as things stand, — Your courage yielding to no corps the palm — I serve my King, and serve my grudge as well.
CYRANO: Permit that I express my gratitude . . .
DE GUICHE: I know you love to fight against five score; You will not now complain of paltry odds.
(He goes up with Carbon.)
CYRANO (to the cadets): We shall add to the Gascon coat of arms, With its six bars of blue and gold, one more — The blood-red bar that was a-missing there!
(De Guiche speaks in a low voice with Carbon at the back. Orders are given. Preparations go forward. Cyrano goes up to Christian, who stands with crossed arms.)
CYRANO (putting his hand on Christian's shoulder): Christian!
CHRISTIAN (shaking his head): Roxane!
CHRISTIAN: At least, I'd send My heart's farewell to her in a fair letter! . . .
CYRANO: I had suspicion it would be to-day, (He draws a letter out of his doublet): And had already writ . . .
CYRANO: Will you . . . ?
CHRISTIAN (taking the letter): Ay! (He opens and reads it): Hold!
CHRISTIAN: This little spot!
CYRANO (taking the letter, with an innocent look): A spot?
CHRISTIAN: A tear!
CYRANO: Poets, at last, — by dint of counterfeiting — Take counterfeit for true — that is the charm! This farewell letter, — it was passing sad, I wept myself in writing it!
CHRISTIAN: Wept? why?
CYRANO: Oh! . . . death itself is hardly terrible, . . . — But, ne'er to see her more! That is death's sting! — For . . . I shall never . . . (Christian looks at him): We shall . . . (Quickly): I mean, you . . .
CHRISTIAN (snatching the letter from him): Give me that letter!
(A rumor, far off in the camp.)
VOICE Of SENTINEL: Who goes there? Halloo!
(Shots — voices — carriage-bells.)
CARBON: What is it?
A SENTINEL (on the rampart): 'Tis a carriage!
(All rush to see.)
CRIES: In the camp? It enters! — It comes from the enemy! — Fire! — No! — The coachman cries! — What does he say? — 'On the King's service!'
(Everyone is on the rampart, staring. The bells come nearer.)
DE GUICHE: The King's service? How?
(All descend and draw up in line.)
CARBON: Uncover, all!
DE GUICHE: The King's! Draw up in line! Let him describe his curve as it befits!
(The carriage enters at full speed covered with dust and mud. The curtains are drawn close. Two lackeys behind. It is pulled up suddenly.)
CARBON: Beat a salute!
(A roll of drums. The cadets uncover.)
DE GUICHE: Lower the carriage-steps!
(Two cadets rush forward. The door opens.)
ROXANE (jumping down from the carriage): Good-day!
(All are bowing to the ground, but at the sound of a woman's voice every head is instantly raised.)