Edmond Rostand

Cyrano de Bergerac

A Play in Five Acts: Act Four

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved

This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose. Permission to perform this version of the play, on stage or film, by amateur or professional companies, and for commercial purposes, should be requested from the translator.


Contents


Act Four

The Gascony Cadets

The post occupied by Carbon de Castel-Jaloux’s company at the siege of Arras.

In the background an embankment, across the whole stage. Beyond, a view of the plain extending to the horizon. The country is covered with entrenchments. The walls of Arras and the outlines of its roofs against the sky, far off. Tents: weapons strewn about, drums, etc. Day is breaking with a yellow sky in the east. Sentries, spaced about. Watch-fires. The Gascony Cadets wrapped in their mantles, are sleeping. Carbon de Castel-Jaloux and Le Bret are keeping watch. They are very pale and thin. Christian sleeps among the others in his cloak in the foreground, his face illuminated by the fire. Silence.

The Siege of Arras

‘The Siege of Arras’
Anonymous, 1640, The Rijksmuseum


Scene One

Christian, Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, Le Bret, the cadets, then Cyrano.

Le Bret It’s dreadful.

Carbon Yes, nothing left.

Le Bret Mordious!

Carbon (making a sign that he should speak lower)

Curse quietly.

You’ll wake them.

(To the cadets)

Hush! Sleep on.

(To Le Bret)

He who sleeps, eats!

Le Bret When you have insomnia that’s small blessing! ...

What famine!

(Firing is heard in the distance.)

Carbon Oh, the devil take their firing!

It’ll wake my children!

(To the cadets, who lift up their heads)

Sleep on!

(Firing is again heard, nearer this time.)

A Cadet (moving)

The devil!

Again?

Carbon It’s nothing! Cyrano, back at the double!

(Those who have lifted up their heads prepare to sleep again.)

A Sentry (outside)

Ventrebieu! Who goes there?

The Voice of Cyrano Bergerac.

The Sentry (who is on the redoubt)

Ventrebieu!

Who goes there?

Cyrano (appearing at the top)

Bergerac, imbecile!

(He comes down; Le Bret advances anxiously to meet him.)

Le Bret Mon Dieu!

Cyrano (making signs that he should not awake the others)

Hush!

Le Bret Wounded?

Cyrano You know it’s become their habit

to miss me every morning.

Le Bret Foolish, isn’t it

to carry a letter for her at each day’s dawn,

to risk ...

Cyrano (stopping in front of Christian)

I promised he’d write to her, often.

(He looks at him.)

He sleeps. He’s pale! If the poor little one

knew he’s dying of hunger...but always handsome!

Le Bret Get to bed, quickly.

Cyrano Don’t grumble, Le Bret! Know

that in crossing the Spanish lines I chose

a place where I’ve seen them drunk every night.

Le Bret One day, you should try to bring us back a bite.

Cyrano You have to travel light to get by! – But I know

there’ll be something new tonight. We French go

to eat or die – if I’ve seen rightly...

Le Bret Tell me! ...

Cyrano No, I’m not sure...You’ll see!...

Carbon It’s a misery,

to be famished while we’re besieging!

Le Bret Alas,

nothing’s more complex than this siege of Arras:

we besiege Arras – are caught in a trap ourselves:

the Cardinal Prince of Spain besieges us, as well.

Cyrano Someone should come and besiege him in his turn.

Le Bret I’m not smiling.

Cyrano Oh! indeed!

Le Bret To think that every dawn

ungrateful man, you risk a life like yours

to carry...

(Seeing him turning to enter the tent)

Where’re you going?

Cyrano To write once more.

(He enters the tent and disappears.)


Scene Two

The same, all but Cyrano

The day is breaking. Rosy light. The town of Arras shows golden on the horizon. The report of a cannon is heard in the distance, followed immediately by the beating of drums far away to the left. Other drums are heard much nearer. The drums go on answering each other here and there, they near, beat loudly almost on stage, and die away to stage right, across the camp. Sounds of stirring in the camp. Voices of officers in the distance.

Carbon (sighing)

Reveille!...Alas!

(The cadets move and stretch themselves.)

You’re done for, nourishing Sleep,

I know what their first cry will be, for sure!

A Cadet (sitting up)

I’m hungry!

Another I’m dying.

Together Oh!

Carbon Up with you!

Third Cadet Not a step.

Fourth Cadet Not a nibble!

The First (looking at himself in a piece of armour)

My tongue’s yellow: the air here’s indigestible

Another My baron’s coronet for a bit of Brie!

Another If no one can supply my gastronomy

with the wherewithal to stir my juices,

I’ll retire to my tent – as Achilles did!

Another Yes, some bread!

Carbon (going to the tent and calling softly)

Cyrano!

All the Cadets We are dying!

Carbon (continuing to speak under his breath at the opening of the tent)

Help me,

you who always know how to speak so cheerfully,

come and cheer them up.

Second Cadet (rushing toward another who is munching something)

What are you munching on?

First Cadet On cannon-wads that among the Burgundians

they fry in axle-grease: I’ve done the same.

The neighbourhood of Arras is thin on game!

A Cadet (entering)

I’ve been hunting!

Another (following him)

I’ve been fishing in the Scarpe!

All (rushing to the two newcomers)

Well!- What have you got us? - A pheasant? - A carp?

Quick, quick, show us!

The Angler A gudgeon!

The Sportsman A sparrow!

All Together (beside themselves)

Enough! – Let’s mutiny!

Carbon Help me, Cyrano!

(The daylight has now come.)


Scene Three

The same. Cyrano.

Cyrano (appearing from the tent, very calm, with a pen stuck behind his ear and a book in his hand)

What’s up?

(Silence. To the first cadet)

Why do you drag your legs so painfully?

The Cadet There’s something on my mind that weighs on me.

Cyrano What then?

The Cadet My stomach!

Cyrano Me too, I’m another!

The Cadet It must bother you?

Cyrano (tightening his belt)

No, it makes me taller.

A Second Cadet My large appetite!

Cyrano It’ll not grow any larger.

A Thirds My stomach makes a sound!

Cyrano Well beat it, and charge then.

Another As for me, in my ears I can hear ringing.

Cyrano No, a hungry belly has no ears: you’re lying!

Another Oh, to eat something – tossed in oil!

Cyrano (pulling off the cadet’s helmet and holding it out to him)

Your salad!

Another What can we truly devour?

Cyrano (throwing him the book which he is carrying)

The Iliad’.

Another The Cardinal, in Paris, has four square meals a day!

Cyrano He should send you a few partridges?

The Same Why not, I say?

And wine!

Cyrano Richelieu, some Burgundy, s’il vous plaît?

The Same Brought by His Eminence!

Cyrano The Grape-bearer, or the Grey?

Another I’ve a giant’s hunger!

Cyrano Well, eat your giant words!

The First Cader (shrugging his shoulders)

Always a joke, a thrust!

Cyrano Yes, a joke, so absurd!

Yet I’d rather die, one evening, under the pale rose

red sky, cracking a good joke in a good cause!

- Oh! Struck by whoever’s is the noblest sword,

and an enemy we know is worthy of ours,

on a field of glory, far from the sickbed’s eclipse,

to die of a thrust to the heart, with one on my lips!

Cries from All I’m hungry!

Cyrano (crossing his arms)

So! You think of nothing else but food?...

- Here, Bertrand the Piper! You were a shepherd too:

take one of the flutes from your thick leather case,

and play for this heap of greedy guzzlers. Play

those old country airs, those sweet hypnotic measures,

where every note is like a little sister,

in which the sound of a loved voice is captured,

those airs whose slow tunes are the smoke, enraptured,

that rises from the roofs of our native places,

those airs whose music bears our dialect’s traces!...

(The old man seats himself, and gets his flute ready.)

Let your flute today, reluctantly a soldier,

remember for a moment, as your fingers

seem to dance birdlike minuets on your stem

that it was a reed, before it was ebony: then,

let your song surprise us, and bring again

the spirit of rustic, peaceful innocence!...

(The old man begins to play the airs of Languedoc.)

Listen, Gascons! ... it’s the camp’s shrill pipe no longer,

now it’s a woodland flute under his fingers!

That’s no longer the call to battle, on his lips,

it’s our goatherds’ slow song at his fingertips!...

Listen! ... It’s the valley, the moors, the forest glade,

the little brown shepherd-boy with a red beret,

it’s the sweet greenness of the Dordogne at evening,

Listen, Gascons! It’s all of Gascony singing!

(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 With homesickness!... That’s an ill

nobler than hunger!...not physical but moral!

I’m glad to see their pain’s no longer visceral:

it’s in their hearts now that they feel its chill.

Carbon You’ll weaken them by softening them too much!

Cyrano (making a sign to a drummer to approach)

No! The heroism they carry in their blood

is quickly revived. It’s enough...

(He makes a signal: the drum beats.)

All the Cadets(stand up and rush to take arms)

Eh? What is it?

Cyrano (smiling)

You see, a single roll of the drum will do it!

Farewell dreams, regrets, our native land, and love...

what the flute brought the drumbeat will remove!

A Cadet (looking toward the back of the stage)

Oh! Oh! Here’s Monsieur de Guiche!

All the Cadets(muttering)

Boo!...

Cyrano (smiling)

A flatterer’s

greeting!

A Cadet He bores us!

Another Cadet With his lace collar

over his armour, playing the proud noble!

Another As if one wore one’s linen over steel!

The First It’s good for the neck though if you’ve a carbuncle.

The Second He’s still the courtier!

Another Cadet The nephew of his uncle!

Carbon He’s a Gascon though.

The First A false one!... So beware!

Since Gascons... should always be weak up there:

nothing’s more dangerous than one with brains.

Le Bret He’s pale!

Another As us....he has the same hunger pains!

but like the jewel-studded breastplate he has on

his stomach-ache gleams like ours in the sun.

Cyrano (hurriedly)

Let’s not seem to suffer either! You, your cards,

pipes, and dice...

(All begin spreading out the games on the drums, the stools, the ground, and their cloaks, and light long pipes.)

And I’ll read some more Descartes.

(He walks up and down, reading a little book that he has taken from his pocket. Tableau. Enter De Guiche. All appear absorbed and happy. He is very pale. He goes up to Carbon.)


Scene Four

The same. De Guiche.

De Guiche (to Carbon)

Ah! - Good-day!

(They examine each other. In asides, with satisfaction)

He’s green.

Carbon (aside)

Nothing left but his eyes, then.

De Guiche (looking at the cadets)

Here are the trouble-makers?...Yes, Gentlemen,

they tell me everywhere that they mock me

here, that the Cadets, our mountain nobility,

country squires from Béarn, barons of Périgord,

only have disdain for their colonel, and afford

me the name of plotter, courtier! – Distressed,

to see a collar of Genoese lace to my cuirass,-

and never cease to show their mutual anger

that one can be a Gascon, and not a beggar!

(Silence. All smoke and play.)

Shall I order you punished by your Captain?

No.

Carbon I’m a free man, and inflict no pain...

De Guiche Oh?

Carbon I’ve funded my company, and it’s mine.

I only obey military commands.

De Guiche Oh?...That’s fine!

That’s enough.

(Addressing himself to the cadets)

I can tolerate your defiance.

It’s known how I face the firing, and advance:

yesterday, at Bapaume, they saw how I drove back,

furiously, the soldiers of Comte de Bucquoi;

Throwing my men on his defence, pell-mell,

I charged three times!

Cyrano (without lifting his eyes from his book)

And in your white scarf, as well?

De Guiche (surprised and gratified)

You know that detail? ... Actually it happened

that as I advanced, in order to rally my men,

for the third charge, a crowd of fugitives bore me

on, almost into the ranks of the enemy:

I was in danger of being captured, or even

shot, when I thought of the grand expedient

of loosening and then allowing the scarf,

that gave away my rank, to fall to the earth:

so I contrived without attracting notice

to quit the Spaniards, and return among us,

and reinforced by my men, scattered theirs afar!

And now, what say you to that, dear Sir?

(The cadets pretend not to be listening, but the cards and the dice-boxes remain suspended in their hands, the smoke of their pipes in their cheeks. They wait.)

Cyrano That Henry of Navarre

despite overwhelming odds, never assumed

the right to strip himself of his white plume.

(Silent delight. The cards fall, the dice rattle. The smoke is puffed.)

De Guiche The ruse succeeded, though!

(Same suspension of play, etc.)

Cyrano That’s possible, and yet

one should not forgo the honour of being a target.

(Cards, dice, fall again, and the cadets smoke with evident delight.)

Had I been present when your scarf met the ground,

- our courage, Sir, differs in this I’ve found -

I would have picked it up, and then put it on.

De Guiche Yes, another Gascon boast!

Cyrano Boast? A Gascon?...

Lend it to me. I offer to lead the assault tonight,

with your scarf round my neck, not out of sight.

De Guiche Another Gascon offer! You know the scarf

is among the enemy, on the banks of the Scarpe

and in a place that’s riddled with shot, I fear,

that no one can go and fetch it from!

Cyrano (drawing the scarf from his pocket, and holding it out to him)

It’s here.

(Silence. The cadets stifle their laughter among their cards and dice-boxes. De Guiche turns and looks at them: they instantly become grave, and prepare to play. One of them whistles the air just played by the piper, indifferently.)

De Guiche (taking the scarf)

Thank you. With this piece of white material,

I can make the signal – I hesitated before.

(He goes to the rampart, climbs it, and waves the scarf in the air several times.)

All What!

The Sentry (from the top of the rampart)

That man down there, who’s running away?...

De Guiche (descending)

He’s a traitorous Spanish spy, who’s on his way

to do us a great service. The messages he’ll take

to the enemy are those I gave him, and carry fake

news that will influence their decision-making.

Cyrano He’s a scoundrel!

De Guiche (carelessly knotting his scarf)

It’s very useful. We were saying?

Ah! I have news for you. This very evening,

the Marshall moved to Dourlens, he’s attempting

a master stroke to re-supply us: he passed silently -

the King’s quartermasters are there - via the fields.

He’s reached them: but, to return more easily,

took with him such a large tranche of soldiery.

the enemy would have fine sport if they came:

Half of the army’s absent, in all but name!

Carbon Yes, if the Spaniards knew it would be bad though.

But they know nothing of it?

De Guiche Well, they do know.

They’ll attack us.

Carbon Ah!

De Guiche Because that traitor,

came to warn me in advance of the whole affair.

He added: ‘I can determine a specific place:

where do you want their attack to concentrate?

I’ll tell them it’s the point that’s worst defended,

and they’ll make their assault there.’ I answered:

‘Good. Leave the camp, but keep watch on the line:

the place will be that from which I’ll make a sign.’

Carbon (to cadets)

Gentlemen, prepare!

(All rise: sounds of swords and belts being buckled on.)

De Guiche In an hour.

First Cadet Ah!...That’s fine

(They all sit down again and take up their games.)

De Guiche (to Carbon)

The Marshal will be returning. We must gain him time.

Carbon And to gain time?

De Guiche Be so good as to oblige me

by getting yourselves killed.

Cyrano Ah! Revenge is sweet?

De Guiche I don’t pretend that if I liked you better

I’d have chosen you and yours – however,

since none show equal bravery in fighting,

I’ll serve my rancour while I serve my King.

Cyrano Sir, allow me to express my thanks then.

De Guiche I know you love to fight with a hundred men:

You’ll not complain, this time, you lack a cause.

(He goes up with Carbon.)

Cyrano (to the cadets)

Well now! We’ll add to the Gascon arms: one more

chevron to its six chevrons of gold and blue,

the chevron of blood red that’s lacking, too!

(De Guiche speaks to Carbon in a low voice, at the rear of the stage. Orders are given. Preparations commence. Cyrano goes up to Christian, who stands with arms crossed.)

Cyrano (putting his hand on Christian’s shoulder)

Christian!

Christian (shaking his head)

Roxane!

Cyrano Alas!

Christian I’d like to send her

all of my heart’s farewells in a final letter!...

Cyrano I had a feeling that it would be to-day, my guess,

(He draws a letter out of his doublet.)

and I’ve written your farewells...

Christian Show me!

Cyrano You wish it?

Christian (taking the letter)

Yes!

(He opens and reads it.)

Here!...

Cyrano What?

Christian This little mark!

Cyrano (taking the letter, with an innocent look)

A mark?

Christian It’s a tear!

Cyrano Yes...Poets, caught up in the act, the charm’s there...

you understand...this letter...it was very moving:

I made myself cry with feeling as I was writing.

Christian Cry?

Cyrano Yes...because...to die is nothing fearful.

But...never to see her again...that is terrible!

And I’ll not see her...

(Christian looks at him.)

We’ll not...

(Quickly)

You’ll not...

Christian (snatching the letter from him)

Give me that letter!

(They hear a noise, far off, in the camp.)

Voice of Sentry Ventrebieu, who goes there?

(Shots, voices, the jingle of harness.)

Carbon What is it?...

A Sentry (on the rampart)

A carriage!

(All rush to see.)

Cries What? In the camp? It’s here!

Looks like it comes from the enemy! – Let them disappear!

Fire! - No! The coachman calls to us! – What’s he shouting?

He’s shouting: ‘On the King’s service!’

(Everyone is on the rampart, staring. The bells come nearer.)

De Guiche Eh? The King?...

(All descend and draw up in line.)

Carbon Hats off!

De Guiche The King! Draw up in line, you rabble!

Let him make his approach as he should: at the double!

(The carriage enters at full speed covered with dust and mud. The curtains are drawn close. Two servants behind. It is pulled up suddenly.)

Carbon Beat the salute!

(A roll of drums. The cadets all uncover.)

De Guiche Lower the steps!

(Two cadets rush forward. The door opens.)

Roxane (jumping down from the carriage)

Good evening!

(All are bowing to the ground, but at the sound of a woman’s voice every head is instantly raised.)


Scene Five

The same. Roxane.

De Guiche On the King’s service! You?

Roxane Yes, Love, the only King!

Cyrano Good God!

Christian (rushing forward)

You! Why??

Roxane This siege is taking forever!

Christian Why? ...

Roxane I’ll tell you!

Cyrano (who, at the sound of her voice, has stood still, rooted to the ground, afraid to raise his eyes)

My God! Dare I look at her?

De Guiche There’s no way you can stay here!

Roxane (merrily)

But yes! Yes I can!

Will you bring up a drum for me?

(She seats herself on the drum they roll forward.)

There, my thanks.

(She laughs.)

My carriage was fired at!

(proudly)

By the soldiers patrolling!

- It has the air of being made from a pumpkin,

has it not, as in the tale, and the footmen

made out of rats?

(Sending a kiss with her lips to Christian.)

Good day!

(Examining them all)

Why so unhappy, then?

Do you know it’s a long way, Arras?

(Seeing Cyrano)

Cousin: lovely!

Cyrano (coming up to her)

Indeed! But how? ...

Roxane Have I found my way to the army?

Oh! Good heavens, my friend, it’s quite simple: I

travelled till I saw the signs of a ravaged country.

Ah! What horrors: it was necessary to see them

to believe them! If that’s the service, Gentlemen

you give your King, mine’s better!

Cyrano Look, this is mad!

How in the devil’s name did you get past?

Roxane Get past?

Through the Spanish Camp.

First Cadet How shrewd Women are, I find!

De Guiche But how did you pass through the Spanish line?

Le Bret That must have been very difficult! ...

Roxane It was not.

I simply passed in my carriage, at the trot.

When some hidalgo showed his haughty face,

I sat at the window, my sweetest smile in place,

and those Señors being, no disrespect to France,

the most gallant men in the world – I advanced!

Carbon Yes, that smile is a passport, certainly!

But you must have been asked, frequently,

to say where you were going to, Madame?

Roxane Frequently.

Then I’d answer, ‘It’s my lover I go to see.’

At that the fiercest Spaniards of them all

would gravely close the open carriage-door,

and, with a gesture that the King might envy,

have the muskets lowered, they pointed at me,

and at once, with superb grace and haughtiness

their spurs thrust out under their cloak no less,

their hats in the breeze so the plumes would flutter,

bow low, saying, ‘Pass, then, Senorita!’

Christian But, Roxane ...

Roxane Yes. I said, ‘my lover!’ Pardon me.

Because, if I’d said ‘my husband,’ you’ll agree

none would have let me pass!

Christian But ...

Roxane What’s wrong?

De Guiche You must

leave this place!

Roxane I?

Cyrano And that instantly!

Le Bret No time to lose.

Christian Yes!

Roxane But why?

Christian (embarrassed)

It’s that...

Cyrano (the same)

In three quarters of an hour...

De Guiche (the same)

or...four...

Carbon (the same)

It were best...

Le Bret (the same)

You might...

Roxane They’ll attack you. I stay here.

All No, no!

Roxane He’s my husband!

(She throws herself into Christian’s arms.)

Together let us die!

Christian But what a look you give me?

Roxane I’ll tell you why!

De Guiche (in despair)

It’s a place of danger!

Roxane (turning round)

Danger!

Cyrano And how I know

is that he’s put us here!

Roxane (to De Guiche)

You’d make me a widow?

De Guiche Oh! I swear to you...

Roxane No! I’m reckless currently,

and I’m not going anywhere! Besides it amuses me.

Cyrano Oh! So our intellectual proves a heroine!

Roxane Monsieur de Bergerac, I am your cousin.

A Cadet We will defend you well!

Roxane (more and more excited)

My friends, I know that!

Another (in ecstasy)

The whole camp smells of lilies!

Roxane And I’ve a hat

that will do perfectly for the battlefield!...

(Looking at De Guiche)

But perhaps it’s time for the Count to retire?

They may start the attack.

De Guiche Ah! That’s enough! I go

to inspect the cannon, and shall return...You though

still have time: to change your mind!

Roxane Never!

(De Guiche goes out.)


Scene Six

The same, all but De Guiche.

Christian (entreatingly)

Roxane!...

Roxane No!

First Cadet (to the others)

She stays!

All (hurrying, hustling each other, tidying themselves)

A comb! - Soap! - My uniform

is damaged: a needle! - A ribbon! - Your mirror! -

My cuffs! - My moustache: your curling-tongs! - A razor!...

Roxane (to Cyrano, who still pleads with her)

No! Nothing at all will make me stir from this place!

Carbon (who, like the others, has been buckling, dusting, brushing his hat, settling his plume, and drawing on his cuffs, advances to Roxane, and ceremoniously)

Perhaps I might take the chance, that being the case,

to present to you some of these brave gentlemen,

who’ll have the honour to die where you will see them .

(Roxane bows, and stands leaning on Christian’s arm, while Carbon introduces the cadets to her.)

Baron de Peyrescous de Colignac!

The Cadet (with a low reverence)

Madame ...

Carbon (continuing)

Baron de Casterac de Cahuzac, - Vidame

de Malgouyre Estressac Lésbas d’Escarabiot -

Chevalier d’Antignac-Juzet - Baron Hillot

de Blagnac-Saléchan de Castel Crabioules...

Roxane But how many names have you, each?

Baron Hillot A few!

Carbon (to Roxane)

Open the hand that holds your handkerchief.

Roxane (opens her hand, and the handkerchief falls)

Why?

(The whole company start forward to pick it up.)

Carbon (quickly raising it)

My company had no flag! But now, by my

faith, the finest in the camp will flutter in place!

Roxane (smiling)

It’s a little small.

Carbon (tying the handkerchief on the staff of his lance)

Ah! But it’s made of lace!

A Cadet (to the rest)

I’d die without regret, with this sweet face in view,

if I’d something in my belly, even a nut or two!

Carbon (who has overheard, indignantly)

Shame! Talking of food when a lovely woman is...

Roxane But the air in camp is keen: and I too am famished:

Pâté, chicken in aspic, fine wine - there’s my menu!

Bring it all here, to me.

(Consternation.)

A Cadet All that? To you?

Another Where could we find it?

Roxane (quietly)

In my carriage, gentlemen.

All What?

Roxane But you’ll have to serve, and slice, and bone! Then,

look at my coachman, again, much more closely

it’s the face of a dear man you know: you’ll see:

each sauce can be reheated if you wish, trust me!

The Cadets (rushing to the carriage)

It’s Ragueneau!

(Acclamations.)

Oh, oh!

Roxane (looking after them)

Poor fellows!

Cyrano (kissing her hand)

Good fairy!

Ragueneau (standing on the box like a charlatan in a crowd)

Gentlemen! ...

(General delight.)

The Cadets Bravo! Bravo!

Ragueneau The Spaniards, at the pass,

as surpassing beauty passed, saw no repast go past!

(Applause.)

Cyrano (in a whisper to Christian)

Psst! Christian!

Ragueneau Occupied with gallantries,

they missed...

(His draws a plate from under the seat, and holds it up.)

the galantine! ...

(Applause. The galantine passes from hand to hand.)

Cyrano (still whispering to Christian)

Here with me,

a word!...

Ragueneau And Venus was the one their eyes were on,

so Diana secretly conveyed...

(He holds up a shoulder of venison.)

her venison!

(Enthusiasm. Twenty hands are held out to seize the shoulder of meat.)

Cyrano (in a low whisper to Christian)

I must speak to you!

Roxane (to the cadets, who come down, their arms laden with food)

Put all of it down here!

(She lays it all out on the grass, aided by the two imperturbable servants who were behind the carriage.)

Roxane (to Christian, just as Cyrano is drawing him apart)

Come, and be useful!

(Christian goes to help her. Cyrano’s uneasiness increases.)

Ragueneau Peacock with truffles!

First Cadet (radiant, coming down, cutting a big slice of ham)

Tonerre!

We’ll not have to face the last assault, at least,

without a gut-full!...

(quickly correcting himself on seeing Roxane)

pardon! Belshazzar’s feast!

Ragueneau (throwing down the carriage cushions)

The cushions are stuffed with pigeons!

(Hubbub. They tear open and turn out the contents of the cushions. Bursts of laughter-merriment.)

Third Cadet Ah! Viédaze!

Ragueneau (throwing down to the cadets bottles of red wine)

Flasks of rubies!...

(and white wine)

- And these are flasks of topaz!

Roxane (throwing a folded tablecloth at Cyrano’s head)

Unfold that tablecloth! - Hop to it! Be nimble!

Ragueneau (waving a lantern)

Each lamp’s a little larder, with no candle!

Cyrano (in a low voice to Christian, as they arrange the cloth together)

I must speak to you, before you and she speak!

Ragueneau An Arles sausage is the handle of my whip!

Roxane (pouring out wine, helping)

Since we’re to die, forget the other battalions

by heaven! - Yes, this is all for the Gascons!

And if De Guiche comes, let no one invite him!

(Going from one to the other)

There’s plenty of time - Don’t eat so quickly, then!

Drink a little - Why are you crying?

First Cadet It’s so good! ...

Roxane Tut! - Red or white? - Monsieur de Carbon, some bread!

- A knife! - Your plate! - A little crust? Some more here?

Let me help you! - Burgundy? - A wing?

Cyrano (who follows her, his arms laden with dishes, helping her to wait on everybody)

I adore her!

Roxane (going up to Christian)

You?

Christian Nothing.

Roxane Yes! This biscuit, in Muscat...two drops!

Christian (trying to detain her)

Oh! Tell me why you came here?

Roxane I must stop

and see to these fellows...Hush! In a while...

Le Bret (who had gone up to pass a loaf on the end of a lance to the sentry on the rampart)

De Guiche!

Cyrano Quick! Hide the flasks, plates, baskets, and that pie-dish!

Hurry!- Let’s all look hungry!...

(To Ragueneau)

You, back on your tub!

Is it all hidden?

(In the twinkling of an eye everything has been pushed into the tents, or hidden under doublets, cloaks, and hats. - De Guiche enters hurriedly - stops suddenly, sniffing the air. - Silence.)


Scene Seven

The same. De Guiche.

De Guiche Something round here smells good.

A Cadet (humming)

La! La-la!

De Guiche (looking at him)

What is the matter with you? - You’re all red.

The Cadet Me?...Nothing! It’s blood. A fight sends it to my head!

Another Poum...poum...poum...

De Guiche (turning round)

What’s that?

The Cadet (slightly drunk)

Nothing! It’s a song!

A little bit of a...

De Guiche You’re very merry, my son!

The Cadet The approach of danger!

De Guiche (calling Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, to give him an order)

Captain! I...

(He stops short on seeing him.)

Plague me!

You look well set, too!

Carbon (crimson in the face, hiding a bottle behind his back, with an evasive movement)

Oh! ...

De Guiche I’ve a cannon, you’ll see,

that I’ve had carried...

(He points behind the scenes.)

there, into that corner,

your men can use it in case they need its cover.

A Cadet (reeling slightly)

Delightful attention!

Another (with a gracious smile)

Kind solicitude!

De Guiche What? They’re all crazy! -

(Drily)

As none of you are used

to cannon, beware of the recoil.

First Cadet Ah! Pfft!

De Guiche (furious, going up to him)

But!...

The Cadet The cannon of Gascony never recoil a foot!

De Guiche (taking him by the arm and shaking him)

You’re drunk! On what?

The Cadet (grandiloquently)

On the smell of gunpowder!

De Guiche (shrugging his shoulders and pushing him away, then going quickly to Roxane)

Quickly, Madame, what do you deign to order?

Roxane I stay here!

De Guiche Leave!

Roxane No!

De Guiche Well, since you won’t go,

Someone give me a musket!

Carbon Why?

De Guiche I stay also.

Cyrano At last, Monsieur! This is courage, simple, pure!

First Cadet Are you a Gascon then despite your lace collar?

Roxane What’s this?...

De Guiche I’ll not quit a woman in danger.

Second Cadet (to the first)

Well said! I think we should address his hunger!

(All the viands reappear as if by magic.)

De Guiche (whose eyes sparkle)

Food!

The Third Cadet From under every coat, you’ll find!

De Guiche (controlling himself, haughtily)

Do you think I’ll eat what you have left behind?

Cyrano (saluting him)

You’re progressing.

De Guiche (proudly, with a slight touch of accent on the final word)

I’ll fight on an empty stom-ac!

First Cadet (with wild delight)

Stom-ac! He’ll soon have an ac-cent!

De Guiche (laughing)

I?

The Cadet The Gascon’s back!

(All begin to dance.)

Carbon De Castel-Jaloux (who had disappeared behind the rampart, reappearing on the ridge)

I’ve lined up my pike-men: the ranks are resolute!

(He points to a row of pikes, the tops of which are seen over the ridge.)

De Guiche (bowing to Roxane)

Will you accept my hand to perform the review?

(She accepts, and they go up toward the rampart. All uncover and follow them.)

Christian (going up to Cyrano, eagerly)

Tell me quickly!

(As Roxane appears on the ridge, the tops of the lances disappear, lowered for the salute, and a shout is raised. She bows.)

The Pikemen (outside)

Vivat!

Christian What’s this mystery?

Cyrano If Roxane should...

Christian Should? ...

Cyrano Speak to you, presently,

about the letters.

Christian Yes, I know!...

Cyrano Don’t make a mess

of it, by being surprised...

Christian At what?

Cyrano I’ll confess!...

Oh! Heavens, I thought of it today...it will prove

quite simple...seeing her there. You’ve...

Christian Say, quickly!

Cyrano You’ve

written more often than you thought...

Christian What?

Cyrano Often!

I was charged with it: I, to translate your passion!

I wrote sometimes without saying: ‘I’m writing!’

Christian Ah?...

Cyrano Simple!

Christian It must have taken some contriving

for you to send them, since we’ve been?...

Cyrano Oh!...Before morning,

I could get through...

Christian (folding his arms)

That too was a simple thing?

And I wrote...how many times a week?...Twice?...- Thrice?...

Four times? -

Cyrano More.

Christian Every day?

Cyrano Yes, every day - Twice.

Christian (violently)

And that made you drunk, and that drunkenness...

was such that you braved death...

Cyrano (seeing Roxane returning)

Not in front of her! Hush!

(He goes hurriedly into his tent.)


Scene Eight

Roxane, Christian. In the distance cadets coming and going. Carbon and De Guiche give orders.

Roxane (running up to Christian)

And now, Christian!...

Christian (taking her hands)

And now, you tell me why,

on these appalling roads, through all of these lines

you’ve travelled, through ranks of ruffians and soldiers,

to join me here?

Roxane It’s because of the letters!

Christian You’re saying?

Roxane It’s your fault I ran all these dangers!

Your letters intoxicated me! Consider

how many times this month you’ve written to

me, and always better each time!

Christian What! For a few

little love-letters!

Roxane Hush!..Do you know what you’re saying!

Heavens, I’ve adored you, it’s true, since that evening

when, under my window, in a voice I didn’t know,

your soul began to reveal itself.....And so,

your letters, you see, through all of this month that’s gone,

as if all the time I was hearing it, your voice, as on

that evening there, so tender, enveloped me!

It’s all your fault, I say! That wise Penelope

wouldn’t have stayed at home with her embroidery,

if Ulysses had written to her as you to me,

but, as mad for love as Helen, she, to join him,

would have sent all her balls of wool packing!...

Christian But ...

Roxane I read, I read again, I felt faint with love,

I was yours. Every one of those little leaves

was like a petal torn from your soul, again,

I felt, at every word of those letters of flame,

a powerful love, sincere...

Christian Ah! Sincere, powerful?

That’s what you felt, Roxane!

Roxane Oh! Yes that’s what I felt!

Christian And you came?

Roxane I came (O my Christian, my lover!

You’d lift me if I threw myself down before

you, on my knees, so it’s my soul I throw there,

and you can’t lift that from its place, not ever!)

I come to ask forgiveness (and it’s a good time

to ask forgiveness, since we may be about to die!)

for having committed, at first, and frivolously,

the crime of loving you only for your beauty!

Christian (horror-stricken)

Ah! Roxane!

Roxane And later, love, less frivolously

- A bird that flutters, before it learns to fly -

your beauty seizing me, your soul leading me on,

I loved you for both, together!

Christian And then?

Roxane Ah! You yourself have surpassed yourself, too,

and now it’s only for your soul that I love you!

Christian (stepping backward)

Roxane!

Roxane Be happy, then. For, only to be loved

for that with which one is for a moment clothed,

must put a noble, burning heart to the torture:

but your dear thought effaces all that figure,

and that beauty, you pleased me with before,

I see more clearly now...and see it no more!

Christian Oh!...

Roxane You have doubts of winning such a victory?

Christian (pained)

Roxane!

Roxane You can’t quite believe in it still, yes, I see:

in such a love?...

Christian I don’t wish for such a love! For

I’d be loved with more simplicity, more...

Roxane More

for that for which women have loved you, till today?

Then let yourself be loved in a better way!

Christian No! It was better before!

Roxane Ah! You don’t see!

It’s now, that I love you better, love you truly!

It’s what you’ve made of you, that I love so well,

and less handsome...

Christian Hush!

Roxane I would love you still!

If all your beauty vanished in a single breath...

Christian Oh! Don’t say that!

Roxane Yes!

Christian What? Achieved ugliness?

Roxane Ugliness! I swear it!

Christian My God!

Roxane And you’re happy?

Christian (in a choked voice)

Yes! ...

Roxane What’s wrong?

Christian (gently pushing her away)

Nothing. A moment: I’ve something to say...

Roxane But?...

Christian (pointing to the cadets)

My love takes you from those poor fellows:

Go, smile on them a little since they go to die...go!

Roxane (deeply affected)

Dear Christian! ...

(She goes up to the cadets, who respectfully crowd round her.)


Scene Nine

Christian, Cyrano. Roxane upstage talking to Carbon and some cadets.

Christian (calling toward Cyrano’s tent)

Cyrano!

Cyrano (reappearing, fully armed)

What? Pale as a dove?

Christian She no longer loves me!

Cyrano What?

Christian It’s you she loves!

Cyrano No!

Christian She only loves my soul!

Cyrano No!

Christian Yes, it’s true!

So it’s really you she loves – and you love her, too.

Cyrano I?

Christian I know it!

Cyrano It’s true!

Christian Like a madman.

Cyrano More so.

Christian Tell her!

Cyrano No!

Christian Why not?

Cyrano Look at my face though!

Christian She’d love me if I were ugly.

Cyrano She said so?

Christian True!

Cyrano Ah! I’m delighted she said that to you!

But no, no, don’t believe that foolishness!

Heavens, I’m happy that she had the sweetness

of thought to say it – but no, don’t believe such

things, no, don’t become ugly: she’d hate me too much!

Christian That’s what I’d like to find out!

Cyrano No, No!

Christian Let her choose!

Tell her everything!

Cyrano Not that torment. I refuse!

Christian Shall I kill your happiness because I’m handsome?

That’s too unjust!

Cyrano And I, shall I provide a tomb

for yours, because, thanks to what nature revealed

I’ve the gift of expressing...what perhaps you feel?

Christian Tell her all!

Cyrano He persists in tempting me, it’s wrong!

Christian I’m tired of carrying a rival inside myself so long!

Cyrano Christian!

Christian Our pact - secret - without witnesses -

- can be dissolved - if we survive!

Cyrano He persists!...

Christian Yes, I wish to be loved for myself, or not at all!

- I’ll go and see what they’re up to! I’ll just walk

to the rampart’s end and back, you speak, she’ll prefer

one of us two!

Cyrano It will be you!

Christian Well...I hope for her!

(He calls.)

Roxane!

Cyrano No! no!

Roxane (coming up quickly)

What?

Christian Cyrano has something

important to say...

(She hastens to Cyrano. Christian goes out.)


Scene Ten

Roxane, Cyrano. Then Le Bret, Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, the cadets, Ragueneau, De Guiche, etc.

Roxane Important, what?

Cyrano (in despair, to Roxane)

He’s going!

Nothing...He attaches, - Oh! God! You must know -

importance to nothings!

Roxane (warmly)

Perhaps, he doubted, though

the words I said there?...I saw that he doubted!

Cyrano (taking her hand)

But was there really truth, then, in what you said?

Roxane Yes, I would love him even...

(She hesitates a moment.)

Cyrano (smiling sadly)

Does it embarrass

you to tell me?

Roxane Well...

Cyrano It won’t hurt me, alas!

- even if he were ugly! ...

Roxane Even then!

(Musket report outside.)

They fired!

Cyrano (ardently)

Hideous?

Roxane Hideous!

Cyrano Disfigured?

Roxane Disfigured!

Cyrano Grotesque?

Roxane Nothing could make him grotesque to me!

Cyrano You’d love him still?...

Roxane I’d almost love him more dearly!

Cyrano (losing command over himself, aside)

My God, it’s true, perhaps, and happiness is there!

(To Roxane)

I... Roxane... listen...

Le Bret (entering hurriedly, calling loudly)

Cyrano!

Cyrano (turning round)

What?

Le Bret Hush!

(He whispers something to him.)

Cyrano (letting go Roxane’s hand and exclaiming)

Ah!

Roxane What’s wrong?

Cyrano (to himself, stunned)

It’s over.

(Renewed reports.)

Roxane What? Are they still firing?

(She goes up to look outside.)

Cyrano It’s over, now I can never say a thing!

Roxane (trying to rush out)

What’s happened?

Cyrano (rushing to stop her)

Nothing!

(Some cadets enter, trying to hide something they are carrying, and close ranks to prevent Roxane approaching.)

Roxane Those men?

Cyrano (drawing her away.)

Come away!

Roxane What were you going to say to me before...?

Cyrano Say?

to you... Nothing, Oh! Nothing I swear, Madame!

(Solemnly)

I swear that Christian’s mind, the soul of the man

were...

(Correcting himself, fearfully)

are, the noblest...

Roxane Were?

(With a loud scream)

Ah...!

(She rushes up, pushing every one aside.)

Cyrano It’s done!

Roxane (seeing Christian lying on the ground, wrapped in his cloak)

Christian!

Le Bret (to Cyrano)

The First shot from the enemy gun!

(Roxane flings herself down by Christian. Fresh reports of cannon - clash of arms – clamour - beating of drums.)

Carbon (with sword in the air)

An attack! To your muskets.

(Followed by the cadets, he passes to the other side of the ramparts.)

Roxane Christian!

The Voice of Carbon (from the other side)

You, and you!

Roxane Christian!

Carbon Form ranks!

Roxane Christian!

Carbon Measure... your fuse!

(Ragueneau rushes up, bringing water in a helmet.)

Christian (in a dying voice)

Roxane!

Cyrano (quickly, whispering into Christian’s ear, while Roxane distractedly tears a piece of linen from his breast, which she dips into the water, trying to stanch the bleeding)

I told her all. It’s you she loves still: you!

(Christian closes his eyes.)

Roxane How, my love?

Carbon Draw your ramrods!

Roxane (to Cyrano)

He’s not dead, no?

Carbon Open your charges with your teeth!

Roxane I feel his face

is growing cold against my own!

Carbon Take aim!

Roxane (seeing a letter in Christian’s doublet)

A letter, on him!

(She opens it.)

For me!

Cyrano (aside)

My letter!

Carbon Fire!

(Musket reports – shouts - noise of battle.)

Cyrano (trying to disengage his hand, which Roxane, on her knees, is holding)

But, Roxane, they fight!

Roxane (detaining him)

Stay with me awhile.

He’s dead. You were the only one who knew him.

(Weeping quietly)

Wasn’t he an exquisite being, a being...

wonderful!

Cyrano (standing up - bareheaded)

Yes, Roxane.

Roxane A sublime spirit?

Cyrano Yes,

Roxane!

Roxane A profound heart, unknown to the profane,

A soul, magnificent and delightful?

Cyrano (firmly)

Yes, Roxane!

Roxane (throwing herself on Christian’s dead body)

He’s dead!

Cyrano (aside - drawing his sword)

And I have only to die it seems,

Since, without knowing it, she weeps for me!

(Sounds of trumpets in the distance.)

De Guiche (appearing on the ramparts – bareheaded - with a wound on his forehead - in a voice of thunder)

It is the agreed signal! A fanfare of trumpets!

The French bring provisions, now, to the cadets!

Hold for a little longer!

Roxane Blood, on his letter,

tears!

A Voice (outside-shouting)

Surrender!

Voice of Cadets No!

Ragueneau (standing on the top of his carriage, watches the battle over the edge of the ramparts)

The danger’s grows greater!

Cyrano (to De Guiche - pointing to Roxane)

Get her away! We’ll charge them!

Roxane (kissing the letter - in a half-extinguished voice)

His blood! His tears!...

Ragueneau (jumping down from the carriage and rushing toward her)

She’s fainted!

De Guiche (on the rampart - to the cadets - with fury)

Hold fast!

A Voice (outside)

Lay down your weapons, there!

The Cadets No! No!

Cyrano (to De Guiche)

Now that you’ve proved your courage, Sir,

(Pointing to Roxane)

run, and save her!

De Guiche (rushing to Roxane, and carrying her away in his arms)

So be it! But we’ll conquer,

if you can win us time!

Cyrano Good.

(Calling out to Roxane, whom De Guiche, aided by Ragueneau, is bearing away in a fainting condition)

Farewell, Roxane!

(Tumult. Shouts. Cadets reappear, wounded, falling on the scene. Cyrano, rushing to the battle, is stopped by Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, who is streaming with blood.)

Carbon I’ve been wounded twice by a halberd! We’re broken!

Cyrano (shouting to the Gascons)

My braves! Don’t retreat, you fools!

(To Carbon, whom he is supporting)

Now, be fearless!

I’ve two deaths to avenge: Christian’s, and Happiness!

(They leap down, Cyrano brandishing the lance to which is attached Roxane’s handkerchief.)

Float there, little flag of lace as her emblem!

(He sticks it in the ground and shouts to the cadets.)

Fall on them,

(To the Piper)

A tune on the pipes! Let’s crush them.

(The fife plays. The wounded rise. Some cadets, falling one over the other down the slope, group themselves round Cyrano and the little flag. The carriage is crowded with men inside and outside, and, bristling with muskets, is turned into a redoubt.)

A Cadet (appearing on the crest, beaten backward, but still fighting, cries out)

They’re climbing the redoubt!

(and falls dead.)

Cyrano Well, let’s salute them, then!

(The rampart is covered instantly by a formidable row of enemies. The standards of the Spanish Empire are raised.)

Fire!

(General discharge.)

(A cry in the enemy’s ranks)

Fire!

(A deadly answering volley. The cadets fall on all sides.)

A Spanish Officer (uncovering)

Who are these death-intoxicated men?

Cyrano (reciting, erect, amid a storm of bullets)

They’re the Cadets of Gascony,

Of Carbon de Castel-Jaloux!

Who fight and lie, most shamelessly,

(He rushes forward, followed by a few survivors.)

They’re the Cadets...!

(The rest is drowned in the battle.)

Curtain.