Study Guide

Cyrano de Bergerac

by Edmond Rostand

Cyrano de Bergerac eText - Act I

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Act I

A Performance at the Hotel de Bourgogne

The hall of the Hotel de Bourgogne, in 1640. It is a sort of tennis court arranged and decorated for a theatrical performance.

The hall is oblong and seen from an angle, so that one of its sides forms the back of the right foreground, and meeting the left background, makes an angle with the stage, which is partly visible.

On both sides of the stage are benches. The curtain is made up of two tapestries which can be drawn aside. Above the proscenium are the royal arms. There are broad steps from the stage to the hall. On either side of these steps are the places for the violinists. The footlights consist of a row of candles.

There are two rows, one over the other, of side galleries. The highest row is divided into boxes. There are no seats in the pit of the hall, which is the real stage of the theater. At the back of the pit, some benches form steps, and underneath the steps is a staircase which leads to the upper seats. There is an improvised buffet containing candles, vases, glasses, plates of tarts, cakes, bottles, etc.

The entrance to the theater is in the center of the background, under the gallery of the boxes. A large door is half-open to let in the spectators. On the panels of this door, in different corners, and over the buffet, are red placards bearing the words, “La Clorise.”

At the rising of the curtain, the hall is in semi-darkness, and still empty. The candle-holders are lowered in the middle of the pit, ready to be lighted.

Scene I

The public, arriving by degrees. TROOPERS, BURGHERS, LACKEYS, PAGES, a PICKPOCKET, the DOORKEEPER, etc., followed by the MARQUISES. CUIGY, BRISSAILLE, the BUFFET-GIRL, the VIOLINISTS, etc.

[A confusion of loud voices is heard outside the door. A TROOPER enters hastily.]

[They begin fencing.]

[They both sit down on the floor.]

[He grabs her at the waist.]

[He blows peas down at the crowd.]

[He takes his SON by the arm and leads him away.]

[A hubbub outside the door is heard.]

[Enter a band of young MARQUISES.]

[They greet and embrace one another.]

[They form in groups around the candle-holders as they are lit. Some people have taken their seats in the galleries. LIGNIERE, disheveled but distinguished-looking, with disordered shirt-front is arm-in-arm with CHRISTIAN DE NEUVILLETTE. CHRISTIAN, who is dressed elegantly but a little out of fashion, seems preoccupied, and keeps looking at the boxes.]

DOORKEEPER:
[going after him] Wait! You must pay your fifteen sols!
TROOPER:
I get in free!
DOORKEEPER:
How so?
TROOPER:
I'm a soldier in the King's Cavalry!
DOORKEEPER:
[to SECOND TROOPER who also enters] And you?
SECOND TROOPER:
I get in free as well. I'm a musketeer!
FIRST TROOPER:
[to the second] The play doesn't begin until two. Let's have a bout with the foils to pass the time.
A LACKEY:
[entering] Psst—Flanquin!
SECOND LACKEY:
Is that you, Champagne?
FIRST LACKEY:
[taking cards and some dice out of his jacket pocket] Look what I've brought. Let's play!
SECOND LACKEY:
Good idea, my rogue friend!
FIRST LACKEY:
[taking a candle-end from his pocket and lighting it] I've stolen for us a little light from my master.
A GUARDSMAN:
[to a SHOP-GIRL who comes toward him] How nice of you to come before the lights are lit!
ONE OF THE FENCERS:
[receiving a thrust] A hit!
ONE OF THE CARD-PLAYERS:
A club!
GUARDSMAN:
[following the girl] A kiss!
SHOP-GIRL:
[trying to free herself from his grasp] Stop! They'll see us!
GUARDSMAN:
[drawing her to a dark corner] Now they can't!
A MAN:
[sitting on the floor with some others who are all eating food] By coming early, one can eat in comfort.
A BURGHER:
[leading his SON] Let's sit here, my son.
A CARD-PLAYER:
Triple ace!
A MAN:
[taking a bottle out from his jacket and seating himself on the floor] A drunkard should drink his Burgundy…[he drinks] in the Hotel Burgundy!
BURGHER:
[to his SON] My God! One would think we've stumbled into some place of ill-repute! What with drunkards! [He points with his cane to the drunk.] Brawlers! [One of the FENCERS jostles him.] And gamblers! [He stumbles into the midst of the CARD-PLAYERS.]
GUARDSMAN:
[behind the BURGHER, still teasing the SHOP-GIRL] Come on, just one kiss!
BURGHER:
[hurriedly pulling HIS SON away] Good heavens! And to think that Rotrou was played here!
HIS SON:
Yes, and Corneille too!
A TROOP OF PAGES:
[entering hand-in-hand, dancing and singing] Tra-la-lala-la-la-la-la-la…
DOORKEEPER:
[sternly, to the PAGES] You pages better behave yourselves. No pranks tonight!
FIRST PAGE:
[with an air of wounded dignity] Oh, sir! How can you even suspect that we would do such things? [quickly, to the SECOND PAGE, the moment the DOORKEEPER'S back is turned] Did you bring the string?
SECOND PAGE:
Oh, yes—and a fish-hook with it!
FIRST PAGE:
Great! We'll fish for wigs from up in the gallery!
A PICKPOCKET:
[gathering about him some evil-looking youths] Listen here, you young thieves. I'm about to give you your first lesson in stealing.
SECOND PAGE:
[calling up to other PAGES in the top galleries] Have you all brought your peashooters?
THIRD PAGE:
[from above] Oh yes, and peas too!
BURGHER'S SON:
[to his father] What's the name of the play tonight?
BURGHER:
La Clorise.
SON:
Who wrote it?
BURGHER:
Balthazar Baro. It's a play about…
PICKPOCKET:
[to his students] Look for lace knee-ruffles and cut them off!
A SPECTATOR:
[to another, pointing to a corner of the gallery] I was sitting up there, the first night of the ‘Cid.’
PICKPOCKET:
[making a gesture as of picking a pocket] And with watches…
BURGHER:
[coming down again with his SON] Soon you will see some great actors.
PICKPOCKET:
[making the type of gesture one would use when pulling something in a sneaky way, with little jerks of the hand] And for handkerchiefs…
BURGHER:
Montfleury…
A VOICE FROM THE GALLERY:
Light the lights!
BURGHER:
Bellerose, L'Epy, La Beaupre, Jodelet!
A PAGE:
Here comes the buffet-girl!
BUFFET-GIRL:
[taking her place behind the buffet] Oranges, milk, raspberry-water, cider…
A FALSETTO VOICE:
Make way, you brutes!
A LACKEY:
[astonished] The Marquises! Down here on the floor with us?
ANOTHER LACKEY:
Oh, only for a moment, I'm sure.
A MARQUIS:
[seeing that the hall is half empty] What's this? We've arrived like common tradesmen—without disturbing anyone or stepping on their toes? For shame! [recognizing some other gentlemen who have entered a little before him] Cuigy! Brissaille!
CUIGY:
True to our word! We're here before the candles are lit.
MARQUIS:
Enough! I'm so annoyed!
ANOTHER MARQUIS:
Don't worry, Marquis, they're coming to light the candles now!
ENTIRE AUDIENCE:
[welcoming the entrance of the candle lighter] Ah!

Scene II

The same, with CHRISTIAN, LIGNIERE, then RAGUENEAU and LE BRET.

[They exchange bows.]

[They recognize and name the different elegantly dressed ladies who enter the boxes, bowing low to them. The ladies send smiles in answer.]

[He raises his bow.]

[The violins begin to play.]

[He sits by the buffet; the girl pours some out for him.]

[Murmurs of admiration are heard in the hall. ROXANE has just appeared in her box. She seats herself in front, her DUENNA sits at the back. CHRISTIAN, who is paying the BUFFET-GIRL, does not see her entrance.]

[At this moment, an elegant nobleman, with blue ribbon across his breast, enters the box, and talks with ROXANE, standing.]

[He gets up, staggering, and raises his glass, ready to sing.]

[He stands looking at her. The group of PICKPOCKETS see him standing there in an open-mouthed daze. They draw near to him.]

[He goes out, reeling.]

CUIGY:
Ligniere!
BRISSAILLE:
[laughing] Not drunk yet?
LIGNIERE:
[aside to CHRISTIAN] Shall I introduce you? [CHRISTIAN nods in assent.] Baron de Neuvillette.
AUDIENCE:
[applauding as the first candelabra is lighted and drawn up] Ah!
CUIGY:
[to BRISSAILLE, looking at CHRISTIAN] Handsome fellow!
FIRST MARQUIS:
[who has overheard] Pooh!
LIGNIERE:
[introducing them to CHRISTIAN] Messieurs de Cuigy, de Brissaille.
CHRISTIAN:
[bowing] Delighted to meet you.
FIRST MARQUIS:
[to the SECOND] He's good-looking, but his fashion is a little out of date.
LIGNIERE:
[to CUIGY] Monsieur de Neuvillette comes from Touraine.
CHRISTIAN:
Yes, I've only been in Paris for three weeks. Tomorrow I join the Guards, in the Cadets.
FIRST MARQUIS:
[watching the people who are coming into the boxes] There's Madame Aubry, the Chief-Justice's wife.
BUFFET-GIRL:
Oranges, milk…
VIOLINISTS:
[tuning up] La…La…
CUIGY:
[to CHRISTIAN, pointing to the hall, which is filling fast] It's really getting crowded.
CHRISTIAN:
Yes, indeed.
FIRST MARQUIS:
The whole great world is arriving!
SECOND MARQUIS:
Madame de Guemenee.
CUIGY:
Madame de Bois-Dauphin.
FIRST MARQUIS:
Adored by us all!
BRISSAILLE:
Madame de Chavigny.
SECOND MARQUIS:
Who plays with our poor hearts!
LIGNIERE:
Ah, there's Corneille. He must be back from Rouen!
BURGHER'S SON:
[to his father] Is the Academy here?
BURGHER:
Oh yes, I see several members. There's Boudu, Boissat, and Cureau de la Chambre, Porcheres, Colomby, Bourzeys, Bourdon, Arbaud. Names that will live forever! How wonderful!
FIRST MARQUIS:
Attention! Our lady intellectuals have arrived! There is Barthenoide, Urimedonte, Cassandace, Felixerie …
SECOND MARQUIS:
Ah, their names are exquisite! Do you know them all, Marquis?
FIRST MARQUIS:
I do indeed, every one!
LIGNIERE:
[drawing CHRISTIAN aside] My friend, I came here tonight to help you, but the lady you seek is not here. I shall go now and return to my vice.
CHRISTIAN:
[persuasively] No, please stay! You are songwriter to the court and the city alike. You know everyone! You are the one who can tell me who she is—the lady for whom I'm dying of love!
FIRST VIOLIN:
[striking his bow on the desk] Gentlemen violinists!
BUFFET-GIRL:
Macaroons, lemon-drink …
CHRISTIAN:
Oh! I'm afraid that she is coquettish and refined! I fear I'm not intelligent enough for her! How can I dare speak with her? I'm only a shy and honest soldier—not very good with words at all. She always sits right there, on the right. Her box is still empty!
LIGNIERE:
[making as if to leave] I must go.
CHRISTIAN:
[detaining him] No, please stay.
LIGNIERE:
I cannot stay. D'Assoucy is waiting for me at the tavern. I'll die of thirst here.
BUFFET-GIRL:
[passing before him with a tray] Orange drink?
LIGNIERE:
Ugh!
BUFFET-GIRL:
Milk?
LIGNIERE:
Pooh!
BUFFET-GIRL:
Wine?
LIGNIERE:
[to CHRISTIAN] Oh, if you insist—I shall stay awhile longer. Now let me try a little of that wine.
AUDIENCE:
[crying out joyously and excitedly as a plump little man enters] Ah! Ragueneau!
LIGNIERE:
[to CHRISTIAN] It's 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 praise me too highly!
LIGNIERE:
Oh, stop! You are a great patron of the arts!
RAGUENEAU:
Well, it is true that poets do come to my bakery …
LIGNIERE:
To buy on credit! You yourself are a talented poet too.
RAGUENEAU:
So they tell me.
LIGNIERE:
You're mad about poetry!
RAGUENEAU:
It is true that, for an ode …
LIGNIERE:
You give a tart!
RAGUENEAU:
Well, just a little tart.
LIGNIERE:
Oh, you're being modest! Now, what do you give for a triolet?
RAGUENEAU:
Oh, maybe a small roll or two.
LIGNIERE:
[severely] Oh, come on! You give milk-rolls, the best kind! And as for the theater, which you love just as much as poetry …
RAGUENEAU:
Oh, I adore the theater!
LIGNIERE:
You pay with pastries! Now, tell me, how much did your ticket tonight cost you?
RAGUENEAU:
Four custards and fifteen cream-puffs. [He looks around on all sides.] Monsieur Cyrano is not here? How strange.
LIGNIERE:
Why?
RAGUENEAU:
Montfleury is playing tonight!
LIGNIERE:
Oh, yes, the fat fool is playing the role of Phedon tonight. But why should Cyrano care about it?
RAGUENEAU:
Haven't you heard? He hates Montfleury and has forbidden him to show his face on stage for a whole month!
LIGNIERE:
[drinking his fourth glass of wine] So?
RAGUENEAU:
Montfleury will play! Unless …
CUIGY:
[who has joined them] Cyrano can't stop him.
RAGUENEAU:
That is what I've come to see!
FIRST MARQUIS:
Who is this Cyrano?
CUIGY:
A fellow who certainly knows how to handle a sword.
SECOND MARQUIS:
Is he of noble birth?
CUIGY:
Noble enough. He's a cadet in the Guards. [He points to a gentleman who is going up and down the hall as if searching for someone.] But his friend, Le Bret, over there, can tell you more about him. [He calls him.] Le Bret! [LE BRET comes over to them.] Are you looking for Cyrano?
LE BRET:
Yes, and I'm beginning to worry.
CUIGY:
He's an extraordinary man, isn't he?
LE BRET:
[tenderly] He is the rarest, most delightful man on earth!
RAGUENEAU:
A poet!
CUIGY:
A soldier!
BRISSAILLE:
A philosopher!
LE BRET:
A musician!
LIGNIERE:
And such a striking appearance!
RAGUENEAU:
No painter today can do him justice! Only the wild and whimsical Jacques Callot, if he were still alive, could have painted Cyrano's portrait. He'd have placed him in some fantastic setting and made Cyrano the maddest fighter there—with his triple-plumed hat and six-tailed jacket and his sword sticking up beneath his cloak like the proud tail of a rooster. He is a true swashbuckler—as bold as the fiercest soldier in Gascony! Above his collar he carries a nose—and my good lords, what a nose it is! When people see it, they immediately think it's a false nose. They think it's a joke and that soon Cyrano will take it off. But, alas, Cyrano never takes it off.
LE BRET:
[throwing back his head] True, he keeps it on—and will maim any man who dares to remark on it!
RAGUENEAU:
[proudly] His sword is one half the shears of Fate!
FIRST MARQUIS:
[shrugging his shoulders] He won't come.
RAGUENEAU:
I say he will come! And I'll wager you a chicken à la Ragueneau!
THE MARQUIS:
[laughing] Agreed!
SECOND MARQUIS:
[with little cries of joy] Ah, gentlemen, she is exquisite— adorable—ravishing!
FIRST MARQUIS:
She's as sweet as a peach smiling at a strawberry!
SECOND MARQUIS:
And so fresh and cool! Any man approaching her might catch a chill at the heart!
CHRISTIAN:
[Raising his head, he sees ROXANE and catches LIGNIERE by the arm.] It is she!
LIGNIERE:
Ah! Is it she?
CHRISTIAN:
Yes. Quickly, tell me her name! Oh, I am afraid.
LIGNIERE:
[sipping his wine] Madeleine Robin—called Roxane. She's witty, charming, quite an intellectual.
CHRISTIAN:
Woe is me!
LIGNIERE:
Unmarried, an orphan, the cousin of Cyrano, whom we were just speaking about.
CHRISTIAN:
[alarmed] Who is that man?
LIGNIERE:
[who has become tipsy, winking at him] That's Count de Guiche. He's in love with her, but he happens to be married to the niece of Armand de Richelieu. Wants to set Roxane up with a certain sorry fellow by the name of Valvert—a viscount. Why Valvert? Because he's very accommodating, if you get my meaning! She won't agree to it, of course, but de Guiche is powerful, and can persecute a girl like her. I myself have actually composed a song in which I expose his nasty little plan. Oh, he must hate me! The end really hits home! Listen!
CHRISTIAN:
No. I'm leaving.
LIGNIERE:
Where are you going?
CHRISTIAN:
To find this Monsieur de Valvert!
LIGNIERE:
Don't be so rash! He will kill you before you harm him. [calling his attention to ROXANE with a look] Stay right there—she's looking at you.
CHRISTIAN:
It's true!
LIGNIERE:
’Tis I who am going. I am thirsty! And they are expecting me in the taverns!
LE BRET:
[who has been all around the hall, coming back to RAGUENEAU with a look of reassurance] No sign of Cyrano.
RAGUENEAU:
[incredulously] But still …
LE BRET:
I'm hoping he hasn't seen the playbill.
AUDIENCE:
Begin, begin!

Scene III

The same, with all but LIGNIERE DE GUICHE, VALVERT, then MONTFLEURY.

[They go toward DE GUICHE.]

[He hurries out. DE GUICHE, DE VALVERT, and the MARQUISES have all disappeared behind the curtain to take their places on the benches placed on the stage. The pit is quite full; the galleries and boxes are also crowded.]

[There is total silence.]

[A knock is heard upon the stage. Everyone is motionless. There is a pause.]

[A chair is passed from hand to hand, over the heads of the spectators. The MARQUIS takes it and disappears, after blowing some kisses to the boxes.]

[Three knocks are heard on the stage. The curtains part. The MARQUISES in arrogant attitudes are seated on each side of the stage. The scene represents a pastoral landscape. Four little candelabra light the stage; the violins play softly.]

[A note on the bagpipes is heard, and MONTFLEURY enters, enormously fat, in shepherd's dress, a hat wreathed with roses drooping over one ear, blowing into a ribboned bagpipe.]

[A general stupor ensues. Everyone turns around. The CROWD murmurs.]

[The people stand up in the boxes to look.]

[A hand holding a cane starts up over the heads of the spectators.]

[The cane is shaken.]

[A sensation ripples throughout the theater.]

A MARQUIS:
[watching DE GUICHE, who comes down from ROXANE'S box and crosses the pit surrounded by obsequious noblemen, among them the VISCOUNT DE VALVERT] He pays a fine court, your de Guiche!
SECOND MARQUIS:
[with distaste] Another Gascon!
FIRST MARQUIS:
Yes, but a cold and clever Gascon—that's the stuff success is made of! Believe me, we had best make our bow to him.
SECOND MARQUIS:
What fine ribbons, Count de Guiche! What would you call the color? ‘Kiss me, my darling,’ or ‘Timid Fawn?’
DE GUICHE:
I call it ‘Sick Spaniard.’
FIRST MARQUIS:
Very appropriate! Thanks to your valor, things will soon go ill for Spain in Flanders.
DE GUICHE:
I'm going up to sit on the stage. Won't you come along? [He goes toward the stage, followed by the MARQUISES and gentlemen. Turning, he calls to de VALVERT.] Come, Valvert!
CHRISTIAN:
[who is watching and listening, starts when he hears this name] The Viscount! I'll throw my glove in his face! [He puts his hand in his pocket and finds there the hand of a PICKPOCKET who is about to rob him. He turns around.] What…
PICKPOCKET:
Oh!
CHRISTIAN:
[holding him tightly] I was looking for my glove.
PICKPOCKET:
[smiling piteously] And you found a hand instead. [changing his tone and whispering quickly] Let me go and I'll tell you a secret!
CHRISTIAN:
[still holding him] What is it?
PICKPOCKET:
Ligniere—your friend who just left …
CHRISTIAN:
What about him?
PICKPOCKET:
His life is in danger. He wrote a song which has offended some very powerful people. A hundred men—I am one of them—will be after him tonight.
CHRISTIAN:
A hundred men! Who hired them?
PICKPOCKET:
I cannot say. It's a secret—
CHRISTIAN:
Oh!
PICKPOCKET:
[with great dignity] Of the profession.
CHRISTIAN:
Where are the men posted?
PICKPOCKET:
At the Porte de Nesle. On his way home. Warn him.
CHRISTIAN:
[letting go of his wrists] But where can I find him?
PICKPOCKET:
Go around to all the taverns—The Golden Wine Press, The Pine Cone, The Bursting Belt, The Two Torches, The Three Funnels, and leave a word at each one that should put him on his guard.
CHRISTIAN:
I'm on my way! Oh, the scoundrels! A hundred men against one![looking lovingly at ROXANE] Ah, to leave her! [looking with rage at DE VALVERT] And him! But save Ligniere I must!
AUDIENCE:
Begin the play!
A BURGHER:
[whose wig is drawn up on the end of a string by a page in the upper gallery] My wig!
CRIES OF DELIGHT:
He's bald! Bravo, pages! Ha ha ha!
BURGHER:
[furious, shaking his fist] Little villains!
LAUGHTER AND CRIES:
[beginning very loud, and dying gradually away] Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!
LE BRET:
[astonished] Why the sudden silence? [A SPECTATOR says something to him in a low voice] Is it true?
THE SPECTATOR:
I have just heard it on good authority.
MURMURS:
[spreading through the hall] Shhh!—Is it him?—No!—Yes, I say!—In the box with the bars in front!—The Cardinal!—The Cardinal!—The Cardinal!
A PAGE:
The devil! We'll have to behave ourselves now!
VOICE OF A MARQUIS:
[in the silence, behind the curtain] Snuff that candle out!
ANOTHER MARQUIS:
[putting his head through the opening in the curtain] A chair!
A SPECTATOR:
Silence!
LE BRET:
[in a low voice to RAGUENEAU] Montfleury is about to come on stage?
RAGUENEAU
Yes, it is he who begins.
LE BRET:
Cyrano isn't here.
RAGUENEAU:
I suppose I've lost my wager then.
LE BRET:
All for the better!
AUDIENCE:
[applauding] Bravo, Montfleury! Montfleury!
MONTFLEURY:
[after bowing low, begins his part] Happy is the man who dwells alone
Far from the pomp of court and crowd
In a solitary wood, where gentle breezes—
A VOICE:
[from the middle of the pit] Scoundrel! Didn't I forbid you to show your face here for a month?
DIFFERENT VOICES:
Hey?—What?—What's going on?
CUIGY:
It's him!
LE BRET:
[terrified] Cyrano!
THE VOICE:
King of clowns! Leave the stage this instant!
AUDIENCE:
[indignantly] Oh!
MONTFLEURY:
But—
THE VOICE:
Do you dare defy me?
DIFFERENT VOICES:
[from the pit and the boxes] Shhh! Enough! Keep going, Monfleury—don't be afraid!
MONTFLEURY:
[in a trembling voice] Happy is the man who dwells—
THE VOICE:
[more fiercely] Prince of buffoons! Must I come and give you a taste of my cane?
MONTFLEURY:
[in a voice that trembles more and more] Happy is the man—
THE VOICE:
Off the stage!
AUDIENCE:
Oh!
MONTFLEURY:
[choking] Happy is the man who—
CYRANO:
[appearing suddenly in the pit, standing on a chair, his arms crossed, his hat cocked fiercely, his mustache bristling, his nose terrible to see] I shall be angry in a minute!

Scene IV

The same, with CYRANO, then BELLEROSE and JODELET.

[The circle around him widens.]

[The CROWD draws back again.]

[MONTFLEURY suddenly disappears. There is a tempest of laughs, whistles and catcalls.]

[BELLEROSE comes forward and bows.]

[The people begin to go out, while CYRANO looks on with satisfaction. But the CROWD soon stops on hearing the following scene, and everyone remains where they are. The women, who, with their cloaks on, are already standing up in the boxes, stop to listen, and finally reseat themselves.]

[Laughter erupts throughout the CROWD.]

[A circle of curious spectators forms in the pit. The MARQUISES and OFFICERS mingle with the common people. The PAGES climb on each other's shoulders to see better. All the WOMEN stand up in the boxes. To the right stand DE GUICHE and his retinue. To the left are LE BRET, RAGUENEAU CYRANO, etc.]

[He declaims solemnly.]

[Acclamations and applause rise from the boxes. Flowers and handkerchiefs are thrown down. The OFFICERS surround CYRANO, congratulating him. RAGUENEAU dances for joy. LE BRET is happy, but anxious. DE VALVERT'S friends hold him up and bear him away.]

[He goes away.]

[Cries are heard outside]

[JODELET and BELLEROSE go out, bowing low to CYRANO]

[The PORTER goes out.]

[He puts back the other half.]

[He kisses her hand as though she were a princess.]

[She goes out.]

MONTFLEURY:
[to the MARQUISES] Come to my help, my lords!
A MARQUIS:
[carelessly] Oh, go on, Montfleury, keep acting.
CYRANO:
If you do, I'll cuff your face, fat man!
MARQUIS:
That's enough!
CYRANO:
And you marquises! I advise all of you to hold your tongues, or else each one of you will get a taste of my cane!
ALL THE MARQUISES:
[rising] That's enough! Montfleury—
CYRANO:
If he doesn't get off the stage this minute, I'll cut off his ears and slit him up like a roasted pig!
A VOICE:
But—
CYRANO:
Out he goes!
ANOTHER VOICE:
Yet—
CYRANO:
Is he not gone yet? [He makes the gesture of turning up his cuffs.] Good! I shall mount the stage now and carve up this fine, fat Italian sausage!
MONTFLEURY:
[trying to be dignified] You outrage Thalia when you insult me!
CYRANO:
[very politely] You, Sir, are not acquainted in the least with that muse! But if she ever had the questionable pleasure of meeting you, you fat dullard, she would be inspired to kick you in the backside!
AUDIENCE:
Montfleury! Montfleury! Come, go on and play!
CYRANO:
[to those who are calling out] Have a care, all of you! If you keep on, you're liable to rouse my sword right out of its scabbard!
THE CROWD:
[drawing back] Stay back from him! Beware!
CYRANO:
[to MONTFLEURY] Leave the stage! [The CROWD begins to murmur and to come nearer to CYRANO.] Did someone speak?
A VOICE:
[singing at the back] Monsieur de Cyrano
Such a tyrant today
Oh, why won't he just go?
So that we can see the play!
AUDIENCE:
[singing] La Clorise! La Clorise!
CYRANO:
Let me hear you sing that foolish little song once more and I'll slaughter every man in this theater!
A BURGHER:
Oh, do you think yourself Samson?
CYRANO:
Yes, Samson! Will you lend me your jawbone, Sir?
A LADY:
[in the boxes] This is outrageous!
A LORD:
Scandalous!
A BURGHER:
Most annoying!
A PAGE:
Hilarious!
AUDIENCE:
[hissing] Montfleury! Cyrano!
CYRANO:
Silence!
AUDIENCE:
[wildly excited] Woof! Woof!—Quack! Quack!—Cock-a-doodle-doo!
CYRANO:
I order you all to—
A PAGE:
Meow!
CYRANO:
I order silence! And I challenge every man here! Come, all you young heroes! I'll write down your names and give each of you a number —everyone will get their turn! Come now, who wants to be first? You, Sir? No? You? No? Come on, the first opponent will be done away with honorably and sent straight to glory! Come now, who wants to die? Hold up your hands! [a silence] What is it? Too modest to face my naked sword? No one? Not one name? Good, then I shall proceed. [turning toward the stage, where MONTFLEURY waits in agony] This theater must be cured of this boil! [He puts his hand on his sword.] And if it won't leave of its own accord, then I shall have to lance it!
MONTFLEURY:
I—
CYRANO:
[leaves his chair, and settles himself in the middle of the circle which has formed] I will clap my hands three times, you full moon! On the third clap, I want to see you eclipse yourself!
AUDIENCE:
[amused] Ah!
CYRANO:
[clapping his hands] One!
MONTFLEURY:
I—
A VOICE:
[in the boxes] Stay!
AUDIENCE:
[divided] Stay!—Go!—No, stay!
MONTFLEURY:
I think, gentlemen—
CYRANO:
Two!
MONTFLEURY:
I think it would be wise if I—
CYRANO:
Three!
AUDIENCE:
Coward! Come back!
CYRANO:
[delighted, sits back in his chair, arms crossed] Come back if you dare!
A BURGHER:
Call for the speaker of the theater!
THE BOXES:
Ah! Here's Bellerose!
BELLEROSE:
[elegantly] My noble lords—
AUDIENCE:
No! Give us Jodelet instead!
JODELET:
[advancing, speaking in an exaggerated nasal voice] Miserable calves!
AUDIENCE:
[laughing] Bravo, go on!
JODELET:
No bravos, Sirs! The fat tragedian, whom you all love, has had to—
AUDIENCE:
That coward!
JODELET:
—was obliged to go.
AUDIENCE:
Call him back!
SOME:
No!
OTHERS:
Yes!
A YOUNG MAN:
[to CYRANO] But, Sir, why do you hate Montfleury so much?
CYRANO:
[graciously, still seated] Young man, I have two reasons—either will suffice. First, he is a terrible actor. He heaves up his lines as though they were buckets of water drawn clumsily from a well, when instead, they should soar from his lips like the lightest of birds. The second reason …well, that's my secret.
A BURGHER:
[behind him] Shame on you! You deprive us of La Clorise! I must insist—
CYRANO:
[turning his chair toward the BURGHER, respectfully] You old mule! The verses of Baro are worthless trash! You should thank me for stopping the play!
LADY INTELLECTUALS:
[in the boxes] Our Baro! Oh dear! How dare he!
CYRANO:
[turning his chair toward the boxes gallantly] Fair ladies! Bloom and radiate, fill us with longing, intoxicate us with your beauty, charm death with your sweet smiles, inspire poetry—but don't attempt to judge it!
BELLEROSE:
We must give back the entrance fees!
CYRANO:
[turning his chair toward the stage] Bellerose, that's the smartest thing anyone has said all afternoon! You know how I love the theater and its actors. Therefore, I would never intentionally rend a tear in Thespis’ sacred cloak! [He rises and throws a bag onto the stage.] Catch then the purse I throw and hold your peace!
AUDIENCE
[dazzled] Ah!—Oh!
JODELET:
[catching the bag skillfully and weighing it] At this price, Sir, you are welcome to come and stop the play anytime!
AUDIENCE:
Boo! Boo!
JODELET:
Even if we all get booed!
BELLEROSE:
Clear out the hall!
JODELET:
Everybody out this minute!
LE BRET:
[to CYRANO] You are mad!
A BORE:
[coming up to CYRANO] The great actor Montfleury! How could you? Shame on you! Don't you know he's protected by the Duke of Candal! Do you have a patron?
CYRANO:
No!
BORE:
No patron?
CYRANO:
None!
BORE:
What! No great lord to shield you with his name?
CYRANO:
[irritated] No, I've told you twice! Must I tell you again? I have no protector…[He puts his hand on his sword.] but I do have a protectress —right here!
BORE:
But now you must leave town, then.
CYRANO:
Well, that depends!
BORE:
The Duke has a long arm, you know!
CYRANO:
But not so long as mine, when it is lengthened out [He shows his sword.] …with this!
BORE:
But do you really dare…?
CYRANO:
Oh, I certainly do!
BORE:
But—
CYRANO:
Get out now! Go!
BORE:
But I—
CYRANO:
Go! Or tell me why you stare at my nose!
THE BORE:
[petrified] I—
CYRANO:
[walking straight up to him] Well, what's so strange about it?
BORE:
[drawing back] My lord, you're mistaken!
CYRANO:
Is it soft and dangling, like an elephant's trunk?
BORE:
[still drawing back] I never—
CYRANO:
Is it crooked, like an owl's beak?
BORE:
I—
CYRANO:
Do you see a wart upon the tip?
BORE:
No—
CYRANO:
Is there a fly upon it? What is there to stare at?
BORE:
Oh!
CYRANO:
What do you see?
BORE:
But I've been so careful not to look!
CYRANO:
Oh? Why is that?
BORE:
I was—
CYRANO:
Oh! It disgusts you!
BORE:
Sir!
CYRANO:
Are you sickened by its color?
BORE:
Please, Sir!
CYRANO:
Or it's shape?
BORE:
No, on the contrary!
CYRANO:
Why then that look of distaste? Do you think it's too large, perhaps?
BORE:
[stammering] No, it's small! Quite small! It's minute!
CYRANO:
Minute! How dare you accuse me of having a small nose!
BORE:
Heaven help me!
CYRANO:
My nose is enormous, you snub-nosed, meddling idiot! And let it be said that I am proud to possess such an appendage! ’Tis well known that a large nose indicates an affable soul, one kind and courteous, liberal and brave, just like myself! Such qualities you could never hope to have, you hateful wretch! For that dull face which my hand will soon slap is as empty…[He slaps him.]
BORE:
Ouch!
CYRANO:
…of pride, of glory, of feeling, of poetry and godlike spark—in fact, as empty as all that is embodied by my big nose, [He turns him by the shoulders.] as what my boot will soon meet! [He kicks him in the backside.]
BORE:
[running away] Help! Call the Guard!
CYRANO:
Here's a word of advice for any other fool who might find something amusing about the middle of my face. Let it be known that if the jester is a nobleman, he will not just taste my boot but will taste my steel instead!
DE GUICHE:
[who, with the MARQUISES, has come down from the stage] He's becoming a nuisance!
DE VALVERT:
[shrugging his shoulders] He's quite arrogant!
DE GUICHE:
Won't anyone silence him?
DE VALVERT:
I'll take the challenge. I'll treat him to one of my quips! See here! [With a conceited air, he goes up to CYRANO, who is watching him.] Sir, your nose is…hmm…it is…very big!
CYRANO:
[gravely] Very!
DE VALVERT:
[laughing] Ha!
CYRANO:
[calmly] Is that all?
DE VALVERT:
What do you mean?
CYRANO:
Ah no, young man! That was a trifle short! You might have said at least a hundred things by varying the tone. Shall I give you a few examples?
Aggressive:
“Sir, if I had such a nose, I'd amputate it!”
Friendly:
“It must annoy you when it dips into your drink. You really should have a specially shaped goblet, I think!”
Descriptive:
“’Tis a rock, a peak, a cape, a peninsula!”
Curious:
“What is the purpose of that large container? Do you keep your pens and ink in it?”
Gracious:
“Oh, how you must love the birds! I see you've made them a nice perch for their tiny feet!”
Hostile:
“When you enjoy your pipe and the smoke spouts from your nose, the neighbors must think the chimney's on fire!”
Considerate:
“When you stroll, keep your head bowed low, else head over heels you just might go!”
Tender:
“Oh, someone please get a small umbrella made, else in the sun its bright color might fade!”
Pedantic:
“Only such a beast as Aristophanes’ hippocampelephantocamelos could have possessed such a large lump of flesh and bone beneath its forehead!”
Flippant:
“What a fashionable hook to hang your hat on!”
Emphatic:
“No wind but the Arctic blast would be strong enough to give you a cold, oh majestic nose!”
Dramatic:
“When it bleeds, it's like the Red Sea!”
Admiring:
“Oh, what a perfect sign for a perfume shop!”
Lyrical:
“Is that a conch? And you, a Triton?”
Simple:
“Is that monument open for public viewing?”
Rustic:
“Is that thing a nose? No, it must be a dwarf pumpkin, or a prize watermelon!”
Military:
“Aim that cannon at the enemy and blast away!”
Practical:
“Put it in the lottery! I'm sure it would be the biggest prize!”
Or, in a parody of Pyramus, “Behold the nose that mars the beauty of its owner's face. How red with shame it is, the traitor!”
All of these things you might have said, if you were a man of wit and letters in the slightest. But, sadly, of wit you never had an atom, and of letters you have only three—and they spell Ass! And even if you were intelligent enough to think of witty remarks like the ones I just listed, you would not have been able to utter a single one of them. Because I allow such jokes only when spoken by myself, and never by any other man that breathes!
DE GUICHE:
[trying to draw away the dismayed DE VALVERT] Come away, Viscount!
DE VALVERT:
[choking with rage] Listen to this arrogant lout! A barbarian who wears no gloves …who comes out in public without any ribbons and lace!
CYRANO:
True, all my elegances are within. I do not dress up like a pretentious dandy when I go out. But I'll tell you this: I groom myself more thoroughly than you. I would never venture out in public with a soiled conscience, a tarnished honor, or scruples grimy and dull. I do not adorn myself with gems and ribbons, like you. Instead, I decorate myself with truth, independence and a clean soul. I am not ornamented with tassels and lace but with proud and brave exploits instead. My spirit is sharper than your stiff mustache. When I walk among the crowds and chattering groups, I make Truth ring bravely out like a clash of spurs!
DE VALVERT:
But, Sir—
CYRANO:
I wear no gloves? And what of that? I had one, the remaining one of an old pair. And, not having any other use for it, I threw it in the face of some young fool.
DE VALVERT:
Base scoundrel! Stupid lout!
CYRANO:
[taking off his hat, and bowing as if the VISCOUNT had introduced himself] Oh, delighted to meet you! And I am Cyrano Savinien Hercule de Bergerac.
DE VALVERT:
[angrily] Buffoon!
CYRANO:
[crying out as if in pain] Aie! Aie!
DE VALVERT:
[who was going away, turns back] What on earth is the fellow saying now?
CYRANO:
[with grimaces of pain] It must be moved—it's getting stiff! This is what happens when it's been unused for too long! Aie!
DE VALVERT:
What is the matter with you?
CYRANO:
The cramp! I have a cramp in my sword!
DE VALVERT:
[drawing his own sword] So be it!
CYRANO:
You shall feel a charming little stroke!
DE VALVERT:
[contemptuously] Poet!
CYRANO:
Yes, a poet, Sir! And to demonstrate my skills as such, I will compose a ballade as we fight.
DE VALVERT:
A ballade?
CYRANO:
Do you not know what a ballade is?
DE VALVERT:
But—
CYRANO:
[reciting, as if repeating a lesson] Know then that the ballade should contain three eight-versed couplets …
DE VALVERT:
[stamping his foot] Oh!
CYRANO:
[still reciting] And an envoi of four lines …
DE VALVERT:
You—
CYRANO:
I'll make one as we fight, and on the last line, I shall thrust my sword home.
DE VALVERT:
No!
CYRANO:
No? [declaiming loudly] Ballade of the duel between de Bergerac and a fool—here in the Hotel Burgundy!
DE VALVERT:
What's all that?
CYRANO:
That is the title.
AUDIENCE:
[greatly excited] Quiet!—Make room!—Fair play!—What sport!
CYRANO:
[shutting his eyes for a second] Wait while I choose my lines. Ah, now I have them!
I lightly doff my hat down low,
And, freeing hand and heel,
My heavy cloak away I throw,
And I draw my polished steel.
Graceful as Phoebus, round I wheel,
With swiftness and skill alike,
“Careful now,” I say with zeal,
For at the end of the refrain I shall strike!
Better for you had you lain low.
Where shall I hit you? In the heel?
Or how about the heart, my worthless foe?
Or in the hip, and make you kneel?
Oh, for the music of clashing steel!
Where shall I land my spike?
’Twill be in the belly the stroke I steal,
When, at the end of the refrain I shall strike!
Oh, for a word that rhymes with “o”!
You wriggle, so white, my eel!
Your face is as pale as fresh snow, As I parry the point of your steel.
Oh there, a thrust you hoped I'd feel!
But alas, you missed, little tyke!
Now we're nearing the close of this deal. Watch out! At the end of the refrain I strike!

[He matches each action to each word.]

[They begin fencing.]

Refrain:
And now I shall make you kneel.
Pray for your soul if you like!
I thrust [He thrusts.] and your fate I seal,
As at the end of the refrain—[DE VALVERT staggers; CYRANO salutes.]
I strike!
AUDIENCE:
[with one long shout] Ah!
A TROOPER:
’Tis superb!
A WOMAN:
A pretty stroke!
RAGUENEAU:
A marvel!
LE BRET:
Oh, madman!
AUDIENCE:
[presses around CYRANO, shouting] Compliments!—Bravo!— Quite unsurpassed!
A WOMAN'S VOICE:
There's a hero for you!
A MUSKETEER:
[advancing to CYRANO with outstretched hand] Sir, permit me to say that you are a fine swordsman—and I am a good judge of such things. I stamped my feet to show my admiration!
CYRANO:
[to CUIGY] Who is that gentleman?
CUIGY:
Why, that's D'Artagnan!
LE BRET:
[to CYRANO, taking his arm] I need a word with you!
CYRANO:
Wait—let the crowd go. [to BELLEROSE] May I stay?
BELLEROSE
[respectfully] Of course!
JODELET:
[who has looked out] They're hooting Montfleury!
BELLEROSE:
[solemnly] Sic transit! [to the porters] Sweep up and close everything down, but leave the lights on. We'll take dinner, but later we must return to rehearse tomorrow's farce.
PORTER:
[to CYRANO] You do not dine, Sir?
CYRANO:
No.
LE BRET:
Because?
CYRANO:
[proudly] Because…[changing his tone as the PORTER goes away] I have no money!
LE BRET:
[with the action of throwing a bag] But how's that? What about that bag of money?
CYRANO:
My inheritance—all spent in one day!
LE BRET:
How are you going to live for the next month?
CYRANO:
I have nothing left.
LE BRET:
How foolish of you to throw it all away like that!
CYRANO:
But what a graceful action! Just think of it!
BUFFET-GIRL:
[coughing, behind her counter] Ahem! [CYRANO and LE BRET turn. She comes timidly forward.] Sir, my heart cannot stand to hear that you are not eating. [showing the buffet] Please take what you like!
CYRANO:
[taking off his hat] Gentle child, although my Gascon pride forbids me to take the least bit of food from you, my fear of offending you outweighs that pride. I will accept [He goes over to the buffet.]…one of these grapes. [She offers him the whole bunch. He takes one.] No, just one! [She tries to give him wine, but he stops her.] No, a glass of water will be just fine, and half a macaroon!
LE BRET:
What foolery!
BUFFET-GIRL:
Please take something else!
CYRANO:
I take your hand to kiss.
BUFFET-GIRL:
Thank you, kind Sir! [curtsying] Good-night.

Scene V

CYRANO and LE BRET.

CYRANO:
[to LE BRET] Now go ahead and talk. I'll listen now. [He stands at the buffet and places before him first the macaroon.] Dinner! [then the grapes] Dessert! [then the glass of water] Wine! [He seats himself.] So! And now to dine! Oh, I was so hungry, my friend—ravenous! [He eats.] You were saying—?
LE BRET:
You must stop paying heed to these fools! They'll have you ruined! Ask a real friend and he'll tell you the truth about the effects of your arrogant behavior!
CYRANO:
[finishing his macaroon] Enormous!
LE BRET:
The Cardinal—
CYRANO:
[radiant] The Cardinal was there?
LE BRET:
He must have thought it—
CYRANO:
Original, I'm sure!
LE BRET:
But—
CYRANO:
He's an author. It could not have failed to please him that I disrupted another author's play.
LE BRET:
You make too many enemies!
CYRANO:
[eating his grapes] How many do you think I've made tonight?
LE BRET:
Forty, no less, not counting ladies.
CYRANO:
Count them for me!
LE BRET:
Well, Montfleury first, then the burgher, then de Guiche, de Valvert, Baro, the Academy—
CYRANO:
Enough! I am overjoyed!
LE BRET:
But I don't understand your behavior. Why do you live this way? Where will it lead you, in the end?
CYRANO:
I wandered in a maze for many years. I was lost, and there were so many paths to choose. So I took…
LE BRET:
Which?
CYRANO:
I took the simplest path, by far! I decided to be admirable in everything!
LE BRET:
[shrugging his shoulders] So you say. But what is the reason for your hate of Montfleury? Please tell me.
CYRANO:
[rising] That lout! Rude and fat, but still thinks he's a danger to the ladies! While he's up there on stage sputtering out his part, he makes sheep's eyes at their boxes! I've hated him ever since the evening he presumed to raise his eyes to hers. When he did so, it was like seeing a slug crawl across a flower's petals!
LE BRET:
[stupefied] How now? What? Can it be?
CYRANO:
[laughing bitterly] That I should love? [changing his tone, gravely] I love.
LE BRET:
But whom? You've never said!
CYRANO:
Think for a minute! This nose of mine, which pokes out a quarter-mile ahead of me wherever I go, prevents me from being loved by even the poorest and most graceless of ladies. So who would I be in love with, then? The fairest of all ladies, of course. How could it be otherwise?
LE BRET:
The fairest?
CYRANO:
Oh yes, the fairest in the world. The most brilliant, the most refined, the most beautiful, the most golden-haired!
LE BRET:
Who is this lady?
CYRANO:
She is a mortal danger to all men. She is beautiful without knowing it, and possesses charms that she's not even aware of. She is like a trap set by nature—a sweet perfumed rose in whose petals Cupid lurks in ambush! Anyone who has seen her smile has known perfection. She instills grace in every common thing and divinity in every careless gesture. Venus in her shell was never so lovely, and Diana in the forest never so graceful as my Lady when she strides through Paris!
LE BRET:
Yes! Now I know! It's becoming quite clear!
CYRANO:
Yes, quite transparent.
LE BRET:
Your cousin, Madeleine Robin?
CYRANO:
Roxane!
LE BRET:
You love her! Then tell her so! She saw you triumph here this very night!
CYRANO:
Look at me! Look at me and tell me what hope I can have with this vile protuberance! I am under no illusions about it, yet sometimes I am weak. Sometimes in the dim hours of the evening, I enter some fair sweet-smelling garden. With my poor ugly devil of a nose I smell spring's essence. In the silver rays of the moonlight I see some knight with a lady on his arm. And then I think “Oh, how lovely it would be to saunter through such a garden with my lady.” My thoughts soar to ecstasy, but then they suddenly fall—when I see the shadow of my profile on the wall!
LE BRET:
[tenderly] My friend!
CYRANO:
Oh, my friend, at times it is very hard for me, and I cannot help but feel bitter. Sometimes, I feel so ugly and so all alone. Sometimes…
LE BRET:
[taking his hand] You weep?
CYRANO:
No, never! Think how unsuitable this nose is for a tear's path! I will never let the divine beauty of tears be connected to such common ugly grossness. There is nothing more solemn and sublime than a tear. If I were to weep, the grave emotion that a tear represents would turn to laughter and ridicule. And I will never let that happen!
LE BRET:
Don't be sad! What is love but a game of chance?
CYRANO:
[shaking his head] Do I look like a Caesar fit to woo Cleopatra? Or a Tito to win Berenice?
LE BRET:
But you have great courage and wit! Think of the little maid who offered you food and drink just now. She was not repulsed by you at all! You must admit this!
CYRANO:
[impressed] True!
LE BRET:
See, then? And Roxane herself was death-pale as she watched the duel.
CYRANO:
Pale?
LE BRET:
You've already caught her heart and her fancy! Speak to her!
CYRANO:
So that she can mock my face? That's the only thing on earth I fear!
PORTER:
[introducing someone to CYRANO] Sir, someone is asking for you.
CYRANO:
[seeing the DUENNA] My God! It's her duenna!

Scene VI

CYRANO, LE BRET and the DUENNA.

[The DUENNA goes out.]

DUENNA:
[with a low bow] I was asked to find out where a certain lady could see her heroic cousin in private.
CYRANO:
[overwhelmed] See me?
DUENNA:
[curtsying] Yes, Sir. She has some things to tell you.
CYRANO:
Some things to…
DUENNA:
[still curtsying] Yes, Sir, private matters.
CYRANO:
[staggering] Ah, my God!
DUENNA:
Early tomorrow morning, we will go to hear mass at Saint-Roch.
CYRANO:
[leaning against LE BRET] My God!
DUENNA:
And after mass, where can we meet you for a talk?
CYRANO:
[confused] Where? Ah! My God!
DUENNA:
Please name a place, Sir.
CYRANO:
I'm thinking…
DuennA:
Where?
CYRANO:
Ragueneau's bakery!
DUENNA:
Where is his shop?
CYRANO:
It's on the—on the—My God!—the Rue St. Honore.
DUENNA:
[going] Good. We'll see you there at seven.
CYRANO:
I will be there.

Scene VII

CYRANO, LE BRET. Then ACTORS, ACTRESSES, CUIGY, BRISSAILLE, LIGNIERE, the PORTER, the VIOLINISTS.

[For a few moments the shadows of the actors have been moving on the stage, whispers are heard, the rehearsal is beginning. The VIOLINISTS are in their places.]

[He moves away. By the big door enter CUIGY BRISSAILLE, and some OFFICERS, holding up LIGNIERE, who is drunk.]

[The ACTORS and ACTRESSES, in their costumes, have come down from the stage, and are listening.]

[He goes out. LIGNIERE staggers first after him. The ACTRESSES then go out on the OFFICERS’ arms, and then the actors go out. The procession starts to the sound of the violins and in the faint light of the candles.]

CURTAIN.

CYRANO:
[falling into LE BRET'S arms] A Rendezvous! From her!
LE BRET:
You're sad no more!
CYRANO:
Ah! Whatever happens, at least she knows that I exist!
LE BRET:
Now you'll be calm, I hope?
CYRANO:
[beside himself with joy] Calm? You think I can be calm now? I'll be frenetic, frantic, raving mad! Oh, for an army to attack! I've got ten hearts in my breast and twenty arms at my sides. No more fighting with dwarfs! [gesturing wildly] No, I must fight giants now!
A VOICE:
Hello there! Silence, please! We're rehearsing now!
CYRANO:
[laughing] We shall go!
CUIGY:
Cyrano!
CYRANO:
What is it?
CUIGY:
We've brought your friend, the drunken songbird.
CYRANO:
[recognizing him] Ligniere! What has happened?
CUIGY:
He's been looking for you.
BRISSAILLE:
He doesn't dare to go home!
CYRANO:
Why not?
LIGNIERE:
[in a husky voice, showing him a crumpled letter] This letter warns me—a hundred men out for me—revenge for that song I wrote—waiting for me at the Porte de Nesle—I must pass there in order to get home—I dare not!—Please, let me sleep under your roof tonight!
CYRANO:
A hundred men? You'll sleep in your own bed tonight!
LIGNIERE:
[frightened] But—
CYRANO:
in a fierce voice, showing him the lighted lantern held by the PORTER, who is listening curiously] Take the lantern. [LIGNIERE grabs it.] Let us start! I swear that I will make your bed tonight myself! [to the OFFICERS] Follow us! But stay behind—I only need you as witnesses!
CUIGY:
A hundred men!
CYRANO:
Any less would be too few!
LE BRET:
But why get yourself involved in this mess?
CYRANO:
Le Bret scolds again!
LE BRET:
Why risk your life for that worthless drunkard?
CYRANO:
[slapping LIGNIERE on the shoulder] I'll tell you why. This wine-barrel of a man, this walking cask of Burgundy, did an action one day that was full of grace. As he was leaving church, he saw his love taking holy water. He, who can't even stand the sight of water, ran quickly to the basin, and drank it all, to the last drop!
AN ACTRESS:
Oh, what a graceful thing to do!
CYRANO:
Indeed, was it not?
ACTRESS:
[to the others] But why a hundred men against one poor poet?
CYRANO:
Let's go! [to the OFFICERS] Gentlemen, when you see me charge, give me no help, no matter what the odds!
ANOTHER ACTRESS:
[jumping from the stage] Oh! I shall come and see!
ANOTHER:
[to an older ACTOR, while jumping down from the stage] And you?
CYRANO:
Come all—the Doctor, Isabel, Leander—everyone must come! You'll form a madcap and motley group to add a little Italian farce to this Spanish drama!
ALL THE WOMEN:
[dancing for joy] Bravo!—Let's go!—My cloak!—Quick, my hood!
JODELET:
Come on!
CYRANO:
Play us a march, gentlemen of the band! [The VIOLINISTS join the procession, which is forming. They take the footlights, and divide them for torches.] Brave officers first! Next, women in costume! And twenty paces in front [He takes his place.] I alone! I, beneath my hat which glory itself has decorated, proud as Scipio! Remember now, I forbid you to give me any aid! One, two, three! Open wide the doors! [The PORTER opens the doors; a view of old Paris in the moonlight is seen.] Ah! Paris wrapped in night, half nebulous, the moonlight streaming over the rooftops! What a lovely frame for this wild battle scene! Beneath the haze, the Seine trembles, mysterious, like a magic mirror. Soon you shall see what you shall see!
ALL:
To the Porte de Nesle!
CYRANO:
[standing on the threshold] Yes, to the Porte de Nesle! [turning to the ACTRESS] Did you not ask, young lady, why one hundred men are after this one poet? [He draws his sword and then speaks calmly.] It's because they know he's a friend of mine.