Act IV. Scene 3
The SAME. Cyrano.
CYRANO (appearing from the tent, very calm, with a pen stuck behind his ear and a book in his hand): What is wrong? (Silence. To the first cadet): Why drag you your legs so sorrowfully?
THE CADET: I have something in my heels which weighs them down.
CYRANO: And what may that be?
THE CADET: My stomach!
CYRANO: So have I, 'faith!
THE CADET: It must be in your way?
CYRANO: Nay, I am all the taller.
A THIRD: My stomach's hollow.
CYRANO: 'Faith, 'twill make a fine drum to sound the assault.
ANOTHER: I have a ringing in my ears.
CYRANO: No, no, 'tis false; a hungry stomach has no ears.
ANOTHER: Oh, to eat something — something oily!
CYRANO (pulling off the cadet's helmet and holding it out to him): Behold your salad!
ANOTHER: What, in God's name, can we devour?
CYRANO (throwing him the book which he is carrying): The 'Iliad'.
ANOTHER: The first minister in Paris has his four meals a day!
CYRANO: 'Twere courteous an he sent you a few partridges!
THE SAME: And why not? with wine, too!
CYRANO: A little Burgundy. Richelieu, s'il vous plait!
THE SAME: He could send it by one of his friars.
CYRANO: Ay! by His Eminence Joseph himself.
ANOTHER: I am as ravenous as an ogre!
CYRANO: Eat your patience, then.
THE FIRST CADET (shrugging his shoulders): Always your pointed word!
CYRANO: Ay, pointed words! I would fain die thus, some soft summer eve, Making a pointed word for a good cause. — To make a soldier's end by soldier's sword, Wielded by some brave adversary — die On blood-stained turf, not on a fever-bed, A point upon my lips, a point within my heart.
CRIES FROM ALL: I'm hungry!
CYRANO (crossing his arms): All your thoughts of meat and drink! Bertrand the fifer! — you were shepherd once, — Draw from its double leathern case your fife, Play to these greedy, guzzling soldiers. Play Old country airs with plaintive rhythm recurring, Where lurk sweet echoes of the dear home-voices, Each note of which calls like a little sister, Those airs slow, slow ascending, as the smoke-wreaths Rise from the hearthstones of our native hamlets, Their music strikes the ear like Gascon patois! . . . (The old man seats himself, and gets his flute ready): Your flute was now a warrior in durance; But on its stem your fingers are a-dancing A bird-like minuet! O flute! Remember That flutes were made of reeds first, not laburnum; Make us a music pastoral days recalling — The soul-time of your youth, in country pastures! . . . (The old man begins to play the airs of Languedoc): Hark to the music, Gascons! . . . 'Tis no longer The piercing fife of camp — but 'neath his fingers The flute of the woods! No more the call to combat, 'Tis now the love-song of the wandering goat-herds! . . . Hark! . . . 'tis the valley, the wet landes, the forest, The sunburnt shepherd-boy with scarlet beret, The dusk of evening on the Dordogne river, — 'Tis Gascony! Hark, Gascons, to the music!
(The cadets sit with bowed heads; their eyes have a far-off look as if dreaming, and they surreptitiously wipe away their tears with their cuffs and the corner of their cloaks.)
CARBON (to Cyrano in a whisper): But you make them weep!
CYRANO: Ay, for homesickness. A nobler pain than hunger, — 'tis of the soul, not of the body! I am well pleased to see their pain change its viscera. Heart-ache is better than stomach-ache.
CARBON: But you weaken their courage by playing thus on their heart-strings!
CYRANO (making a sign to a drummer to approach): Not I. The hero that sleeps in Gascon blood is ever ready to awake in them. 'Twould suffice . . .
(He makes a signal; the drum beats.)
ALL THE CADETS (stand up and rush to take arms): What? What is it?
CYRANO (smiling): You see! One roll of the drum is enough! Good-by dreams, regrets, native land, love . . . All that the pipe called forth the drum has chased away!
A CADET (looking toward the back of the stage): Ho! here comes Monsieur de Guiche.
ALL THE CADETS (muttering): Ugh! . . . Ugh! . . .