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Cyrano de Bergerac
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READ STUDY GUIDE: Act I, scenes i–iii

 

Act I, Scene ii

The same. Christian, Ligniere, then Ragueneau and Le Bret.
CUIGY:
Ligniere!
BRISSAILLE (laughing):
Not drunk as yet?
LIGNIERE (aside to Christian):
I may introduce you?
(Christian nods in assent):
Baron de Neuvillette.
(Bows.)
THE AUDIENCE (applauding as the first luster is lighted and drawn up):
Ah!
CUIGY (to Brissaille, looking at Christian):
'Tis a pretty fellow!
FIRST MARQUIS (who has overheard):
Pooh!
LIGNIERE (introducing them to Christian):
My lords De Cuigy. De Brissaille. . .
CHRISTIAN (bowing):
Delighted!. . .
FIRST MARQUIS (to second):
He is not ill to look at, but certes, he is not costumed in the latest mode.
LIGNIERE (to Cuigy):
This gentleman comes from Touraine.
CHRISTIAN:
Yes, I have scarce been twenty days in Paris; tomorrow I join the Guards, in
the Cadets.
FIRST MARQUIS (watching the people who are coming into the boxes):
There is the wife of the Chief-Justice.
THE BUFFET-GIRL:
Oranges, milk. . .
THE VIOLINISTS (tuning up):
La—la—
CUIGY (to Christian, pointing to the hall, which is filling fast):
'Tis crowded.
CHRISTIAN:
Yes, indeed.
FIRST MARQUIS:
All the great world!
(They recognize and name the different elegantly dressed ladies who enter the
boxes, bowing low to them. The ladies send smiles in answer.)
SECOND MARQUIS:
Madame de Guemenee.
CUIGY:
Madame de Bois-Dauphin.
FIRST MARQUIS:
Adored by us all!
BRISSAILLE:
Madame de Chavigny. . .
SECOND MARQUIS:
Who sports with our poor hearts!. . .
LIGNIERE:
Ha! so Monsieur de Corneille has come back from Rouen!
THE YOUNG MAN (to his father):
Is the Academy here?
THE BURGHER:
Oh, ay, I see several of them. There is Boudu, Boissat,
and Cureau de la Chambre, Porcheres, Colomby, Bourzeys,
Bourdon, Arbaud. . .all names that will live! 'Tis fine!
FIRST MARQUIS:
Attention! Here come our precieuses; Barthenoide, Urimedonte, Cassandace,
Felixerie. . .
SECOND MARQUIS:
Ah! How exquisite their fancy names are! Do you know them all, Marquis?
FIRST MARQUIS:
Ay, Marquis, I do, every one!
LIGNIERE (drawing Christian aside):
Friend, I but came here to give you pleasure. The lady comes not. I will
betake me again to my pet vice.
CHRISTIAN (persuasively):
No, no! You, who are ballad-maker to Court and City alike, can tell me
better than any who the lady is for whom I die of love. Stay yet awhile.
THE FIRST VIOLIN (striking his bow on the desk):
Gentlemen violinists!
(He raises his bow.)
THE BUFFET-GIRL:
Macaroons, lemon-drink. . .
(The violins begin to play.)
CHRISTIAN:
Ah! I fear me she is coquettish, and over nice and fastidious!
I, who am so poor of wit, how dare I speak to her—how address her?
This language that they speak to-day—ay, and write—confounds me;
I am but an honest soldier, and timid withal. She has ever her place,
there, on the right—the empty box, see you!
LIGNIERE (making as if to go):
I must go.
CHRISTIAN (detaining him):
Nay, stay.
LIGNIERE:
I cannot. D'Assoucy waits me at the tavern, and here one dies of thirst.
THE BUFFET-GIRL (passing before him with a tray):
Orange drink?
LIGNIERE:
Ugh!
THE BUFFET-GIRL:
Milk?
LIGNIERE:
Pah!
THE BUFFET-GIRL:
Rivesalte?
LIGNIERE:
Stay.
(To Christian):
I will remain awhile.—Let me taste this rivesalte.
(He sits by the buffet; the girl pours some out for him.)
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!
RAGUENEAU:
Poet!
CUIGY:
Soldier!
BRISSAILLE:
Philosopher!
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.)
SECOND MARQUIS (with little cries of joy):
Ah, gentlemen! she is fearfully—terribly—ravishing!
FIRST MARQUIS:
When one looks at her one thinks of a peach smiling at a strawberry!
SECOND MARQUIS:
And what freshness! A man approaching her too near might chance to get a
bad chill at the heart!
CHRISTIAN (raising his head, sees Roxane, and catches Ligniere by the arm):
'Tis she!
LIGNIERE:
Ah! is it she?
CHRISTIAN:
Ay, tell me quick—I am afraid.
LIGNIERE (tasting his rivesalte in sips):
Magdaleine Robin—Roxane, so called! A subtle wit—a precieuse.
CHRISTIAN:
Woe is me!
LIGNIERE:
Free. An orphan. The cousin of Cyrano, of whom we were now speaking.
(At this moment an elegant nobleman, with blue ribbon across his breast,
enters the box, and talks with Roxane, standing.)
CHRISTIAN (starting):
Who is yonder man?
LIGNIERE (who is becoming tipsy, winking at him):
Ha! ha! Count de Guiche. Enamored of her. But wedded to the niece of
Armand de Richelieu. Would fain marry Roxane to a certain sorry fellow, one
Monsieur de Valvert, a viscount—and—accommodating! She will none of that
bargain; but De Guiche is powerful, and can persecute the daughter of a plain
untitled gentleman. More by token, I myself have exposed this cunning plan of
his to the world, in a song which. . .Ho! he must rage at me! The end hit
home. . .Listen!
(He gets up staggering, and raises his glass, ready to sing.)
CHRISTIAN:
No. Good-night.
LIGNIERE:
Where go you?
CHRISTIAN:
To Monsieur de Valvert!
LIGNIERE:
Have a care! It is he who will kill you
(showing him Roxane by a look):
Stay where you are—she is looking at you.
CHRISTIAN:
It is true!
(He stands looking at her. The group of pickpockets seeing him thus, head in
air and open-mouthed, draw near to him.)
LIGNIERE:
'Tis I who am going. I am athirst! And they expect me—in the taverns!
(He goes out, reeling.)
LE BRET (who has been all round the hall, coming back to Ragueneau reassured):
No sign of Cyrano.
RAGUENEAU (incredulously):
All the same. . .
LE BRET:
A hope is left to me—that he has not seen the playbill!
THE AUDIENCE:
Begin, begin!
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