Cyrano de Bergerac eText - Act III

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Act III

Roxane's Kiss

A small square in the old Marais. The houses are old and the streets are narrow. On the right is ROXANE'S house and the wall of her garden, which is overhung with thick foliage. There is a window and balcony over the door and a bench in front of the house. By the use of the bench and some stones jutting out of the wall, it is easy to climb to the balcony.

Opposite ROXANE'S house is an old house in the same style of brick and stone. The knocker on the door is bandaged with linen like a sore thumb.

At the rising of the curtain, the duenna is seated on the bench. The window on ROXANE'S balcony is wide open. RAGUENEAU is standing near the door dressed in a sort of livery. He has just finished relating something to the DUENNA, and is wiping his eyes.

Scene I

RAGUENEAU, the DUENNA, Then ROXANE, CYRANO, and two PAGES.

[There is the sound of stringed instruments approaching.]

[She leaves the balcony.]

[DE GUICHE appears.]

RAGUENEAU:
—and then off she went, with a musketeer! Deserted and financially ruined, I decided to put an end to it all, so I hanged myself. Just as my last breath was drawn, in comes Monsieur de Bergerac! He cuts me down, and gets me a job as his cousin's steward.
DUENNA:
But how did you come to be ruined?
RAGUENEAU:
Oh, Lise loved the warriors and I loved the poets! We gave away too much. Any cakes that were left by Apollo were quickly snapped up by Mars. You can see why financial ruin didn't take very long.
DUENNA:
[rising and calling up to the open window] Roxane, are you ready?
They're waiting for us!
ROXANE'S VOICE:
[from the window] I'm just putting on my cloak!
DUENNA:
[to RAGUENEAU, showing him the door opposite] We're going over there to Clomire's house. She's receiving all the lady intellectuals and the poets today. They'll be reading a paper on “The Tender Passion.”
RAGUENEAU:
“The Tender Passion”?
DUENNA:
[in a mincing voice] Oh, yes! [calling up to the window] Roxane, if you don't come down quickly, we shall miss the talk on “The Tender Passion!”
ROXANE'S VOICE:
I'm coming! I'm coming!
CYRANO'S VOICE:
[behind the scenes, singing] La la la la!
DUENNA:
[surprised] Are they serenading us?
CYRANO:
[followed by two pages with lutes] I tell you that's a demi-semi-quaver, you demi-semi-fool!
FIRST PAGE:
[ironically] You know, then, Sir, how to distinguish between semi-quavers and demi-semi-quavers?
CYRANO:
Isn't every pupil of Gassendi a musician?
PAGE:
[playing and singing] La la!
CYRANO:
[snatching the lute from him, and going on with the melody] In proof of which, I shall continue! La la la la!
ROXANE:
[appearing on the balcony] Oh! It's you!
CYRANO:
[singing his own words to the melody] I have come to serenade your lilies and pay my devotion to your roses!
ROXANE:
I am coming down!
DUENNA:
[pointing to the pages] How did you find these master musicians?
CYRANO:
I won them in a bet with D'Assoucy. We were arguing forever over a question of grammar. Suddenly he points to these two louts whom he takes around with him as his escorts, and whom he thinks are great musicians. He says, “I will wager you a day's music!” And he lost! So, until the sun rises tomorrow, I'll have these lute-twangers at my heels, seeing all I do, hearing all I say, and accompanying it all with melody. It was pleasant at first, but I'm growing tired of it already. [to the MUSICIANS] Ho there! Go serenade Montfleury for me! Play a dance for him! [The pages go toward the door. CYRANO speaks to the DUENNA.] I have come, as I do every evening, to ask Roxane whether— [to the PAGES, who are going out] Play a long time, and play out of tune! [to the DUENNA] —whether her heart's desire is still as faultless as he is handsome!
ROXANE:
[coming out of the house] Ah! How handsome he is, and how brilliant in wit! Oh, how I love him!
CYRANO:
[smiling] Christian has a brilliant wit?
ROXANE:
Brighter than even your own, cousin!
CYRANO:
I'm happy to hear it!
ROXANE:
I would have thought it impossible that here could be a man on this earth skilled enough to say so sweetly all the pretty nothings that mean so much! At times it seems his mind is far away and his inspiration is fading. But then, all of a sudden, he says such bewitching and enchanting things to me!
CYRANO:
[incredulously] No! It can't be true!
ROXANE:
Why must you think that? Just like a man! Because he's handsome, you assume he must be dull.
CYRANO:
Does he speak well about love?
ROXANE:
Not only does he speak superbly about it, but he teaches it!
CYRANO:
And how does he write?
ROXANE:
Even better! Listen to this! [reciting] “The more of my poor heart you take, the larger my heart grows!” [triumphantly to CYRANO] How do you like those lines?
CYRANO:
Pooh!
ROXANE:
It goes on: “And, since I must show some target for Cupid's cruel dart, if you must keep mine, then give me your heart!”
CYRANO:
Lord! First he has too much of a heart, then not enough! How much heart does the fellow want?
ROXANE:
Oh, you're being terrible! You're just jealous!
CYRANO:
[starting] What do you mean?
ROXANE:
It's your poet's jealousy! You envy that he writes so well! Listen to this, and tell me if it's not the sweetest thing you've ever heard: “My heart to yours gives but one cry: if kisses by letter could fly, then kisses would soar, my love, straight from my fingertips and on to your lovely lips, if kisses by letter could fly!”
CYRANO:
[smiling approvingly in spite of himself] Well! Those last lines are— [correcting himself, and speaking disdainfully] They are trite enough!
ROXANE:
And listen to this—
CYRANO:
[enchanted] Do you know all his letters by heart?
ROXANE:
Every one of them!
CYRANO:
How flattering that is!
ROXANE:
They are the words of a master!
CYRANO:
[modestly] Come, now—a master?
ROXANE:
Yes, a master!
CYRANO:
All right then. He's a master.
DUENNA:
[coming down quickly] Here comes Monsieur de Guiche! [to CYRANO, pushing him toward the house] In with you! It's best he doesn't see you. It might put him on the scent—
ROXANE:
[to CYRANO] The scent of my secret! He loves me, and he's powerful. If he finds out I'm in love with someone else, all is lost! He could ruin everything!
CYRANO:
[entering the house] As you wish.

Scene II

ROXANE, DE GUICHE, the DUENNA standing a little way off.

[He goes out.]

ROXANE:
[curtsying to DE GUICHE] I was just going out.
DE GUICHE:
I've come to say goodbye.
ROXANE:
Where are you going?
DE GUICHE:
To the war.
ROXANE:
Ah!
DE GUICHE:
Yes, I leave tonight.
ROXANE:
Oh!
DE GUICHE:
We've gotten our orders. We're to lay siege to Arras.
ROXANE:
Ah, a siege?
DE GUICHE:
It seems that my going away doesn't move you at all.
ROXANE:
[politely] No, no…
DE GUICHE:
I am heartbroken. Will I ever see you again? And if so, when?
Have you heard that I've been named commander?
ROXANE:
[indifferently] Bravo!
DE GUICHE:
In the Guards regiment.
ROXANE:
[startled] What! The Guards?
DE GUICHE:
Yes, where your cousin serves, that swaggering boaster. I'll find a way to revenge myself on him at Arras.
ROXANE:
[choking] The Guards are going to Arras?
DE GUICHE:
[laughing] Yes, it's my regiment.
ROXANE:
[aside, while falling down onto the bench] Christian!
DE GUICHE:
What's the matter?
ROXANE:
[deeply moved] Oh, I am in despair! To think that the man I love will be at war!
DE GUICHE:
[surprised and delighted] You say such sweet words to me! It's the first time! And just when I must leave you!
ROXANE:
[changing her tone and fanning herself] You say you're going to take revenge on my cousin?
DE GUICHE:
Are you on his side?
ROXANE:
Oh, no! I'm against him!
DE GUICHE:
Do you see him often?
ROXANE:
Very rarely.
DE GUICHE:
He is seen all the time with one of the cadets…a young fellow named Newvillen…Neuviller…
ROXANE:
Is he a tall gentleman?
DE GUICHE:
Yes, and fair-haired.
ROXANE:
Yes, reddish-blond hair!
DE GUICHE:
Handsome.
ROXANE:
Not very much.
DE GUICHE:
But rather stupid.
ROXANE:
One would think so, to look at him! [changing her tone] How are you planning to take your revenge on Cyrano? If you're thinking of putting him in the midst of all the shooting, then that plan won't work very well. You see, he loves danger. In the middle of all the terrible action is the place he would want to be. I know a far better way for you to wound his pride.
DE GUICHE:
What is it? Tell me!
ROXANE:
Leave him and his fellow cadets behind when the regiment marches to Arras! Let them spend the whole war powerless and idle! This is the thing that will enrage him! If you cheat Cyrano of his chance to engage in mortal danger, you will be punishing him severely!
DE GUICHE:
[coming nearer] Oh, woman! Only a woman could devise such a subtle trick!
ROXANE:
He'll eat his heart out! And his friends will gnaw angrily at their fingernails from being deprived of battle. See, this is the way you can avenge yourself.
DE GUICHE:
Do you love me a little, then? [ROXANE smiles.] I would almost believe it proves your love, the way you're helping me with my cause.
ROXANE:
It certainly is proof of love!
DE GUICHE:
[showing some sealed papers] Here are the marching orders.
They'll be sent instantly to each company, except…[He takes one paper out.] this one! It's the one for the Cadets. [He puts it in his pocket.] This one I will keep. [laughing] Ha! ha! ha! Cyrano! His love of battle! You really can play tricks on people! You, of all ladies!
ROXANE:
Sometimes!
DE GUICHE:
[coming close to her] Oh, how I love you! You drive me mad!
Listen! I know that I'm supposed to leave tonight, but how can I leave now that I've learned your heart has been touched? Nearby, in the Rue d'Orleans, is a monastery founded by Father Athanasius, the syndic of the Capuchins. While it's true that no laymen may enter, I think I can work it out with the good Fathers. Their sleeves are wide enough to hide me in. ’Tis they who serve Richelieu's private chapel, and out of respect for my uncle, they will do as I tell them. Everyone will think I have left Paris. And then I will come to you, masked. Let me have your permission to delay my departure just one day, sweet lady!
ROXANE:
But if people find out, then your glory—
DE GUICHE:
Bah!
ROXANE:
But the siege at Arras—
DE GUICHE:
It can begin without me. Please, grant me your permission.
ROXANE:
No!
DE GUICHE:
Please say yes!
ROXANE:
[tenderly] It is my duty to forbid you.
DE GUICHE:
Ah!
ROXANE:
You must go! [aside] Christian stays here. [aloud] I want you to be heroic—Antoine!
DE GUICHE:
Oh, heavenly word! You do love, then—
ROXANE:
Yes, the one I tremble for.
DE GUICHE:
[ecstatic] Ah! I shall go then! [He kisses her hand.] Are you content?
ROXANE:
Yes, Antoine!
DUENNA:
[making a mocking curtsy behind his back] Yes, Antoine!
ROXANE:
[to the DUENNA] Do not speak a word of what I have done! Cyrano would never pardon me for stealing his fighting from him! [She calls toward the house.] Cousin!

Scene III

ROXANE, the DUENNA, CYRANO

[They have come to Clomire's door.]

[She lifts if carefully and knocks with precaution.]

[She enters and shuts the door.]

[The door opens again, and ROXANE puts her head out.]

[The door shuts.]

ROXANE:
We're going to Clomire's house. [She points to the door opposite.] Alcandre and Lysimon are to discourse!
DUENNA:
[putting her little finger in her ear] Yes, but my little finger tells me we shall miss hearing them.
CYRANO:
It would be a pity to miss those monkeys!
DUENNA:
Oh, look! The knocker is wrapped with cloth! [speaking to the knocker] So they have gagged you, noisy one, lest you disturb the fine speakers!
ROXANE:
[seeing that the door is opening] Let's go in! [on the threshold, to CYRANO] If Christian comes, as I feel sure he will, please tell him to wait for me!
CYRANO:
[quickly, as she is going in] Listen! [She turns.] You always choose a subject to speak about with Christian. Tell me, which subject will you ask him to speak on tonight?
ROXANE:
Oh—
CYRANO:
[eagerly] Yes?
ROXANE:
Do you promise you won't tell him?
CYRANO:
I promise.
ROXANE:
I shall not choose a subject at all. Instead, I will tell him to speak on whatever he wishes. I don't want him to prepare a speech. This time, I want him to speak his thoughts as they come. I'll tell him to speak to me of love, and to speak of it splendidly!
CYRANO:
[smiling] Very good!
ROXANE:
But secret!
CYRANO:
Secret.
ROXANE:
Not a word.
CYRANO:
[when the door is shut, bowing to her] A thousand thanks!
ROXANE:
If he knew what I just told you, he would prepare a speech in advance!
CYRANO:
We wouldn't want that to happen!
BOTH TOGETHER:
Shhhhh!
CYRANO:
[calling] Christian!

Scene IV

CYRANO, CHRISTIAN

[He disappears behind the garden wall.]

CYRANO:
I know what's needed for tonight. Here's your chance to truly impress her. Come, we cannot waste any time. Put away that sulky expression. Come to your house with me, and I'll teach you—
CHRISTIAN:
No!
CYRANO:
Why?
CHRISTIAN:
I will wait for Roxane here.
CYRANO:
What? Are you crazy? Come quickly with me and learn—
CHRISTIAN:
No! No, I say! I'm tired of these borrowed letters and borrowed speeches! I'm tired of acting a part and fearing all the time. It helped me in the beginning, but now I know she loves me! I'm afraid no longer! From now on, I will speak for myself!
CYRANO:
Good heavens!
CHRISTIAN:
What makes you think I cannot speak at all? I'm not such a fool anymore. I've learned a lot from your lessons. I'll be able to speak without your help. You'll see! At least I know enough to take her in my arms! [seeing ROXANE come out from Clomire's house] It is she! Oh, Cyrano! Don't leave me!
CYRANO:
[bowing] Speak for yourself, my friend, and take your chances.

Scene V

CHRISTIAN, ROXANE, the DUENNA

[She goes into ROXANE'S house.]

[She goes toward her house.]

[She shuts the door in his face.]

ROXANE:
[coming out of Clomire's house with a group of friends, bowing and saying goodbye to them] Goodbye, Barthenoide! Alcandre! Gremione!
DUENNA:
[bitterly disappointed] We missed the speech on “The Tender Passion.”
ROXANE:
[still bowing to her friends] Goodbye, Urimedonte! [They all bow to ROXANE and to each other, and then separate, going up different streets. ROXANE suddenly sees CHRISTIAN] It's you! [She goes to him.] Night is falling and no one is around. Let's sit. Please speak, and I will listen.
CHRISTIAN:
[sits by her on the bench; there is a silence.] Oh! I love you!
ROXANE:
[shutting her eyes] Yes, speak to me of love.
CHRISTIAN:
I love you!
ROXANE:
Yes, that's the theme, but elaborate on it.
CHRISTIAN:
I…
ROXANE:
Go on, elaborate!
CHRISTIAN:
I love you so!
ROXANE:
Oh, without a doubt! But what else?
CHRISTIAN:
And I would be—Oh!—I would be so glad—so glad—if you would love me! Oh, Roxane, tell me so!
ROXANE:
[with a little grimace] I hoped for cream, but you're giving me water! Explain to me how you love me!
CHRISTIAN:
Oh, utterly!
ROXANE:
Come, come! Untangle those knotted thoughts!
CHRISTIAN:
I'd love to kiss your throat!
ROXANE:
Christian!
CHRISTIAN:
I love you!
ROXANE:
[half-rising] You've already said that!
CHRISTIAN:
[eagerly, trying to detain her] No, no! I don't love you!
ROXANE:
[reseating herself] Well, at least that's a change.
CHRISTIAN:
I adore you!
ROXANE:
[rising and going further away] Oh!
CHRISTIAN:
Oh, I'm growing foolish!
ROXANE:
[dryly] And that displeases me—almost as much as it would displease me if you grew ugly.
CHRISTIAN:
But—
ROXANE:
Find your eloquence that seems to have flown away!
CHRISTIAN:
I…
ROXANE:
Yes, you love me. I already know that. Good night!
CHRISTIAN:
Oh, don't go yet! I shall tell you—
ROXANE:
[opening the door] That you adore me? I've heard that enough. Go away!
CHRISTIAN:
But I—
CYRANO:
[who has re-entered unseen] Well, what a success that was!

Scene VI

CHRISTIAN, CYRANO, two PAGES

[The window of the balcony is now lighted up.]

[He signs to them to speak softly.]

[He passionately kisses one of the hanging branches.]

Enter a capuchin FRIAR, with a lantern. He goes from house to house, looking at every door.]

CHRISTIAN:
Help me!
CYRANO:
Not I!
CHRISTIAN:
But I shall die unless I win her respect back at once!
CYRANO:
And how, in the devil's name, do you expect me to teach you right this moment—
CHRISTIAN:
[seizing his arm] Oh, there she is!
CYRANO:
[with great emotion] Her window!
CHRISTIAN:
Oh! I shall die!
CYRANO:
Shhh! Speak softly!
CHRISTIAN:
[in a whisper] I shall die!
CYRANO:
It's dark now…
CHRISTIAN:
So?
CYRANO:
We can repair the damage—although I'm not sure you deserve it! Stand there, in front of the balcony! I'll hide beneath it and tell you what to say.
CHRISTIAN:
But—
CYRANO:
Hold your tongue!
PAGES:
[reappearing at the back, and shouting to CYRANO] Ho there!
CYRANO:
Hush!
FIRST PAGE:
[in a low voice] We've played the serenade to Montfleury as you asked!
CYRANO:
[quickly, in a low voice] Go! Hide over there! One at this street corner and one at that one! And if a passer-by should intrude, play a tune for him!
SECOND PAGE:
What tune shall we play, oh great student of Gassendi?
CYRANO:
If a woman comes, play something happy. If a man, something sad! [The PAGES disappear, one at each street corner. CYRANO speaks to CHRISTIAN] Call her!
CHRISTIAN:
Roxane!
CYRANO:
[picking up stones and throwing them at the window] Some pebbles! Wait a while!
ROXANE
[half-opening the window] Who calls me?
CHRISTIAN:
It is I!
ROXANE:
Who's that?
CHRISTIAN:
Christian!
ROXANE:
[disdainfully] Oh, you?
CHRISTIAN:
I want to speak with you.
CYRANO:
[under the balcony, to CHRISTIAN] Good. Speak soft and low.
ROXANE:
No, you speak like a fool!
CHRISTIAN:
Oh, have pity on me!
ROXANE:
No! I don't think you love me anymore!
CHRISTIAN:
[prompted by CYRANO] You think I no longer love you? Oh, great heaven, but I love you more and more!
ROXANE:
[who was about to shut the window, pausing] That's a little better.
CHRISTIAN:
[prompted by CYRANO] My love for you grows and grows. It batters me like a cruel and restless child using my heart for a cradle.
ROXANE:
[coming out onto the balcony] That's better! But if you think that Cupid is so cruel, then you should have stifled this newborn love while it was still in its cradle!
CHRISTIAN:
[prompted again] Oh, Madame, I tried. But this love was as strong as Hercules from the moment it was born.
ROXANE:
Still better!
CHRISTIAN:
[prompted again] And this Hercules in my heart strangled the twin serpents of Pride and Doubt!
ROXANE:
[leaning over the balcony] Well said! But why do you halt so much? Has your ability for imagination weakened?
CYRANO:
[drawing CHRISTIAN under the balcony, and slipping into his place] Let me do it! This has become too critical!
ROXANE:
Why do you speak so hesitantly tonight?
CYRANO:
[imitating CHRISTIAN, in a whisper] It is so dark that my words must grope their way in the blackness to find your ear.
ROXANE:
But my words don't have the same difficulty.
CYRANO:
They find their way down to me at once? That's no surprise, then! It's because their home is in my heart, and my heart is so large that they cannot help but fall into the right place. Your ear, however, is small! And of course, your words come fast because they fall from such a height, while mine must climb up to you, and that takes time!
ROXANE:
It seems that your last words have learned to climb.
CYRANO:
They've become better at such exercise!
ROXANE:
It is true that I seem to speak from high above you.
CYRANO:
Yes, and so far above that a hard word from you would kill me if it were to fall on my heart.
ROXANE:
[moving] I'm coming down.
CYRANO:
[hastily] No!
ROXANE:
[showing him the bench under the balcony] Then won't you stand on the bench so I can see you?
CYRANO:
[starting back, alarmed] No!
ROXANE:
Why not?
CYRANO:
[overcome with emotion] Let us stay like this for a while. It's so sweet to have this rare occasion when our hearts can speak without our bodies seeing one another.
ROXANE:
But why should we want to speak without seeing one another?
CYRANO:
Oh, because it's so sweet! We are half-hidden and half-revealed. You see the dark folds of my cloak and I see the glimmering whiteness of your dress. I am but a shadow, and you are a bright shining light! Do you know what such a moment does to me? I may have been eloquent in the past but—
ROXANE:
Oh, you have been!
CYRANO:
Yet not until tonight has my speech sprung so directly from my heart!
ROXANE:
Why not?
CYRANO:
Up until now, I spoke uncertainly. I've been so intoxicated by your beauty. Your eyes radiate and make me dizzy. But tonight, I think I am able to find speech for the first time!
ROXANE:
’Tis true, your voice even sounds a little different.
CYRANO:
[coming nearer, passionately] Yes, I speak with a new tone! In the sheltering dusk, I dare to be myself for once—at last! [He stops, falters.] What have I said? Please pardon me. It's all so enchanting, and so sweet and new!
ROXANE:
New? How so?
CYRANO:
[deeply moved and trying to compose himself again] It's a new feeling for me to at last speak sincerely. Up until now, my heart feared that it would be mocked—
ROXANE:
But why?
CYRANO:
Because of its mad passion! My heart has masked itself with witty words to hide itself from curious eyes. I've aimed to bring stars down from the sky, but, fearing ridicule, I've stooped to pick wild flowers instead!
ROXANE:
Wild flowers are sweet!
CYRANO:
Yes, but not tonight. Tonight I aim for the star!
ROXANE:
Oh! You've never spoken quite like this before!
CYRANO:
Tonight I want to leave behind all of Cupid's arrows and quivers. I don't want to speak about the trite little symbols of love—the senti mental kinds of things that all lovers already speak about. Instead, I want to speak in a fresh, pure language—one that comes directly from my heart. For why should we sip little thimblefuls of dull fashionable waters, when, instead, we can quench our souls’ thirst by drinking from the great flooding river!
ROXANE:
But what about your wit? Your elegant speeches?
CYRANO:
If I have used my witty speech to gain your attention at the first, then it would be an outrage and an insult to this night, and to Nature herself, to speak such sugary, flowery words again. Just look up at the stars! The quiet sky will ease our hearts of all things artificial. If love is expressed in terms too refined, then the real feeling is lost. The truth of love itself becomes buried among all the flowery embellishments of poetic language.
ROXANE:
But wit, and elegant language—
CYRANO:
They are a crime when it comes to love! It is hateful to turn honest loving into a game! When the moment comes—and I pity those who never know that moment—and the real feeling of love exists in us, premeditated words are futile and only make the soul sad!
ROXANE:
Well, if that moment has come for us, what words will you use now?
CYRANO:
All words! Whatever words come to me, and even as they come, I'll fling them in a wild cluster and not wrap them in a careful bouquet. I love you! I am mad! I am suffocating with love for you! Your name rings in my heart like a bell. When I think of you, I tremble, and the bell shakes and rings out your name! Everything you do I love! I remember every action of yours that I ever witnessed! I know that last year on the twelfth of May, you changed the way you wore your hair. I am so used to taking your hair for daylight itself that, just as one stares at the sun and sees a red blot on all things, when I turn away after looking at you, I see a radiant image imprinted on everything!
ROXANE:
[in a trembling voice] Yes, this is love.
CYRANO:
Yes, the feeling which fills me is true love! Fierce and jealous and sad, yet never selfish. I would gladly lay down my own happiness for yours, even if you were never to know it. And even if I end up far away from you and lonely, I will be content just to hear a happy echo of the joy I once brought you! Each glance from you makes me virtuous and brave in new and unknown ways. Do you begin to understand me? Now, after all this time, have you begun to understand? Do you feel my soul climbing up to you through the darkness of this night? Oh, it is too sweet, too incredible, that I should speak this way and that you should listen! Even in moments when my hopes rose so high, I never could have hoped for this much! I could die peacefully right now. My words have had the power to make you tremble! You are trembling, I can feel it! I can feel the quivering of your hand echoing down through the jasmine branches!
ROXANE:
Oh, I am trembling and weeping! I am yours! You have conquered all of me!
CYRANO:
Then let death come! It is I who have conquered you! There is just one thing I dare ask you—
CHRISTIAN:
[under the balcony] A kiss!
ROXANE:
[drawing back] What?
CYRANO:
Oh!
ROXANE:
Did you ask—
CYRANO:
I— [to CHRISTIAN, whispering] Fool! You're moving too fast!
CHRISTIAN:
She is in such a loving mood that I must take advantage of the moment!
CYRANO:
[to ROXANE] Yes, I asked for a kiss, but I spoke thoughtlessly. Shame on me!
ROXANE:
[disappointed] You withdraw your request so quickly!
CYRANO:
Yes, I withdraw, but without really withdrawing! I'm afraid I have offended your modesty. If so, please do not grant me that kiss!
CHRISTIAN:
[to CYRANO, pulling him by his cloak] Why?
CYRANO:
Silence, Christian! Hush!
ROXANE:
[leaning over] What are you whispering?
CYRANO:
I'm chiding myself for my overly bold advances. I say to myself, “Silence, Christian!” [The lutes begin to play.] Hark! Wait a minute! I hear footsteps! [ROXANE shuts the window. CYRANO listens to the lutes, one of which plays a merry tune and the other a melancholy tune.] How strange. They play both a sad tune and a happy one. What does it mean? Neither man nor woman? Aha! It's a monk!

Scene VII

CYRANO, CHRISTIAN a capuchin FRIAR

[He goes out.]

[He goes back to CHRISTIAN.]

CYRANO:
[to the FRIAR] Hello there, new Diogenes. What are you searching for this time?
FRIAR:
I'm looking for the house of Madame—
CHRISTIAN:
Oh, make him go away!
FRIAR:
Madeleine Robin—
CHRISTIAN:
What could he want?
CYRANO:
[pointing to a street at the back] It's that way! Straight ahead!
FRIAR:
I thank you, and will pray my rosary for you.
CYRANO:
Good luck and blessings to you!

Scene VIII

CYRANO, CHRISTIAN

[There is a sound of shutters reopening. CHRISTIAN goes in again under the balcony.]

CHRISTIAN:
Win for me that kiss!
CYRANO:
No!
CHRISTIAN:
Sooner or later…
CYRANO:
’Tis true! Sooner or later the moment will come when your mouths are sure to meet. Thanks to your fair mustache and her rose petal lips! [to himself] I'd rather it should come thanks to—

Scene IX

CYRANO, CHRISTIAN, ROXANE

[CHRISTIAN springs forward, and by way of the bench, the branches, and the pillars, climbs up to the balcony.]

[He takes her in his arms, and bends over her lips.]

[She disappears into the house. The FRIAR reenters at the back.]

ROXANE:
[coming out onto the balcony] Are you still there? We were speaking of a—
CYRANO:
A kiss! The word is sweet! Do not let your lips shrink from it! If the word burns your sweet mouth, what would the kiss itself do? Oh, don't let it frighten you or make you shy. You've already left playful banter behind and glided easily from smile to sigh, and then from sigh to weeping. Glide gently further still. It is only a heartbeat from tear to kiss!
ROXANE:
Hush, hush!
CYRANO:
When all is said and done, what is a kiss? It's simply an oath made more certain, a sealed promise, the heart's confirmation of a pact. It's a secret whispered to the mouth instead of the ear, a stolen moment that makes time eternal, a communion perfumed like the spring's wild flowers. A kiss allows for one to live through the beating of another's heart, and to taste the very soul of another on one's lips!
ROXANE:
Hush, hush!
CYRANO:
A kiss, Madame, is honorable. Even the Queen of France granted a kiss to her favorite lord!
ROXANE:
But what has that got to do with us?
CYRANO:
[speaking more warmly] I have suffered in silence just as Buckingham did. He adored a queen, just as I do. He was sad but faithful, and so am I.
ROXANE:
And you are as handsome as Buckingham!
CYRANO:
[aside, suddenly cool] Oh, yes. I forgot!
ROXANE:
Please climb up here and pick me as your flower.
CYRANO:
[pushing CHRISTIAN toward the balcony] Climb!
ROXANE:
Communion perfumed like spring's wild flowers…!
CYRANO:
Climb!
CHRISTIAN:
[hesitating] But somehow it doesn't feel quite right anymore.
ROXANE:
A stolen moment…!
CYRANO:
[still pushing CHRISTIAN] Go, blockhead, climb!
CHRISTIAN:
Ah, Roxane!
CYRANO:
Oh, what a strange pain in my heart! The kiss is so near! I am like Lazarus at the feast. But still a crumb or two falls down to me from the rich man's plate. Because it is my heart that receives you, Roxane. For, as you press your lips against his, it is my words that you kiss! [The lute play.] What now? Both a sad song and a happy song again? It must be the monk! [He begins to run as if he came from a long way off, and then cries out towards ROXANE'S house.] Hello!
ROXANE:
What is it?
CYRANO:
I—I was just passing by. Is Christian here?
CHRISTIAN:
[astonished] Cyrano!
ROXANE:
Hello, cousin!
CYRANO:
Good evening, cousin!
ROXANE:
I'm coming down!

Scene X

CYRANO, CHRISTIAN, ROXANE, the FRIAR, RAGUENEAU.

[They enter.]

FRIAR:
’Tis here, I'm sure of it—Madame Madeleine Robin.
CYRANO:
But you asked for Rolin before!
FRIAR:
No, I didn't! I asked you for the house of Madame Robin—R-O-BI-N!
ROXANE:
[appearing on the threshold, followed by RAGUENEAU, who carries a lantern, and CHRISTIAN] What is it?
FRIAR:
A letter.
CHRISTIAN:
A letter?
FRIAR:
[to ROXANE] It must be about some holy business! It's from a wealthy lord!
ROXANE:
[to CHRISTIAN] De Guiche!
CHRISTIAN:
How dare he!
ROXANE:
Oh, he won't be able to bother me forever! It is you whom I love! [unsealing the letter and reading in a low voice with the aid of RAGUENEAU'S lantern] “Lady, the drums beat and my regiment prepares to leave, but I secretly stay behind. I have dared to disobey your order. I am here in a monastery. I will come to you tonight. This letter comes to you by way of a poor fool of a monk who knows not what he carries. Your lips have smiled on me too sweetly. I cannot go until I've seen them once again! Please send all your servants away tonight so we may meet in private. I hope you will pardon my boldness. I remain, always, your—” Etcetera, etcetera. [to the MONK] Father, you must hear what this letter says. [Everyone gathers around her and she reads out loud.] “Lady, the Cardinal has spoken, and his wish is law, no matter how much you may disagree with it. I have sent you this letter by way of a discreet and intelligent holy man. It is the will of the Cardinal that, in your own house, this very night [She turns the page.] this monk shall perform the holy rite of matrimony. Unknown to all the world, Christian shall become your husband. I know that he is not your first choice, and that you rather dislike him, but you must obey the Cardinal in this matter. Rest assured that you will be rewarded in heaven for your sacrifice in this matter. I remain your humble and faithful—” Etcetera.
FRIAR:
[with great delight] Oh, I knew it could only be holy business, coming from such a noble lord!
ROXANE:
[to CHRISTIAN, in a low voice] I'm very good at reading letters, aren't I?
CHRISTIAN:
Hmm!
ROXANE:
[aloud, with despair] But this is horrible!
FRIAR:
[who has turned his lantern on CYRANO] Are you the one she is to marry?
CHRISTIAN:
No, I am!
FRIAR:
[turning the light on CHRISTIAN, and startled by his handsome face] But…
ROXANE:
[quickly] Oh, I must have overlooked the postscript. It says, “Give twenty pistoles to the monastery.”
FRIAR:
Oh! Most worthy lord! [to ROXANE] Do you resign yourself to this marriage?
ROXANE:
[with the look of a MARTYR] I resign myself! [While RAGUENEAU opens the door, and CHRISTIAN invites the FRIAR to enter, she whispers to CYRANO.] Oh, keep de Guiche occupied! He will be here soon! Don't let him enter until—
CYRANO:
I understand! [to the FRIAR] How much time will you need to perform the marriage ceremony?
FRIAR:
About a quarter of an hour.
CYRANO:
[pushing them all toward the house] Go! I'll stay out here.
ROXANE:
[to CHRISTIAN] Come!
CYRANO:
How can I stall de Guiche for so long? [He jumps onto the bench and climbs up to the balcony.] Up I go! I've got a plan! [The lutes begin to play a sad tune.] What's that? [The tune grows more intense.] It must be a man approaching this time! [He stands on the balcony, pulls his hat over his eyes, takes off his sword, wraps himself in his cloak, and then leans over.] It's not too high. [He strides across the balcony, and pulls toward him a long branch of one of the trees that are by the garden wall. He then hangs onto the branch with both hands, ready to let himself fall.] I shall disturb this peaceful atmosphere!

Scene XI

CYRANO, DE GUICHE

DE GUICHE:
[entering, with mask on, feeling his way in the dark] What can that cursed friar be doing?
CYRANO:
Damn! What if he recognizes my voice! [Letting go with one hand, he pretends to turn an invisible key.] There! I've unlocked my native Bergerac accent!
DE GUICHE:
[looking at the house] I cannot see well at all through this mask! [He is about to enter, when CYRANO leaps from the balcony, holding onto the branch, which bends, dropping him between the door and DE GUICHE. He then pretends to fall heavily, as if from a great height, and lies flat on the ground, motionless, as if stunned. DE GUICHE jumps back, startled.] What's this? [When he looks up, the branch has sprung back into its place. He sees only the sky, and is lost in amazement.] Where did this man fall from?
CYRANO:
[sitting up and speaking with a thick Gascon accent] From the moon!
DE GUICHE:
From the moon?
CYRANO:
[in a dreamy voice] What time is it?
DE GUICHE:
He's lost his mind, for sure!
CYRANO:
What time is it? What country is this? What month? What day?
DE GUICHE:
But—
CYRANO:
I'm still dazed and confused from the fall!
DE GUICHE:
Sir!
CYRANO:
I just fell like a bomb, straight from the moon!
DE GUICHE:
[impatiently] Oh, come on!
CYRANO:
[rising, in a fierce voice] I fell from the moon, I tell you!
DE GUICHE:
[stepping back] Yes, fine, so be it. [aside] He's raving mad!
CYRANO:
[walking up to him] I say from the moon! And I don't mean it metaphorically!
DE GUICHE:
But—
CYRANO:
Was it a hundred years ago or just a minute ago? I cannot guess how much time has passed since I was on that yellow sphere up there!
DE GUICHE:
[shrugging his shoulders] Fine, then. Just let me pass.
CYRANO:
[stepping in his way] Where am I? Tell me the truth! Don't spare me! Where have I just fallen like a shooting star?
DE GUICHE:
Oh, good Lord!
CYRANO:
The fall was lightning quick! I had no time to choose where I might land! Oh, tell me where the weight of my posterior has landed me! Am I on earth or another moon?
DE GUICHE:
I tell you, Sir—
CYRANO:
[with a screech of terror, which makes DE GUICHE jump back] No! Can it be? I've landed on a planet where men have black faces!
DE GUICHE:
[putting a hand to his face] What?
CYRANO:
[pretending to be greatly alarmed] Am I in Africa? Are you a native?
DE GUICHE:
[who has remembered his mask] Oh, my mask—
CYRANO:
[pretending to be somewhat reassured] Ah, then I must be in Venice! Or Rome?
DE GUICHE:
[trying to pass] A lady waits for me.
CYRANO:
Ah! Then I must be in Paris!
DE GUICHE:
[smiling in spite of himself] This fool is quite comical!
CYRANO:
You're smiling?
DE GUICHE:
Yes, I'm smiling, but I would still like to get by!
CYRANO:
[beaming with joy] I've landed back in Paris! [acting completely at ease now; laughing, dusting himself off, bowing] Oh, please pardon me! I'm all soaked with cloud-water! My eyes are still full of stardust and I have planet fur on my shoes! [picking something off his sleeve] And a comet's hair stuck on my jacket! [He puffs as if to blow it away.]
DE GUICHE:
[completely exasperated] Sir!
CYRANO:
[Just as DE GUICHE is about to pass, he holds out his leg as if to show him something and stops him.] Look! See the tooth mark in my leg from where the Great Bear bit me! And when I veered to avoid Neptune’s trident, I fell right into the Scales! My weight is still registered on those scales, up there in heaven! [hurriedly preventing de Guiche from passing, and detaining him by the button of his jacket] I swear to you that if you squeezed my nose, it would spout milk!
DE GUICHE:
Milk?
CYRANO:
From the Milky Way!
DE GUICHE:
Oh, go to hell!
CYRANO:
[crossing his arms] Sir, I just fell from heaven! Would you believe me if I told you that Sirius wears a nightcap? It's true! [confidentially] The other Bear is still too small to bite! [laughing] I went straight through the Lyre and snapped a cord! [proudly] Some day I shall write the whole thing in a book! The small gold stars that have stuck to my cloak will serve as asterisks on the printed page!
DE GUICHE:
Enough of this! Let me—
CYRANO:
Oh, you're a sly one!
DE GUICHE:
Sir!
CYRANO:
You're trying to worm it all out of me! You want me to tell you what the moon is made of, and whether or not anyone lives there! I know what you're up to!
DE GUICHE:
[angrily] No, no! I just want—
CYRANO:
To know how I got up there? It was by a method all my own!
DE GUICHE:
[growing tired] He's mad!
CYRANO:
[contemptuously] I didn't copy Regiomontanus’ eagle! Nor did I make a version of Archytas’ pigeon! Neither of those! I tell you I got there by my own invention!
DE GUICHE:
Indeed, he's a fool, but an educated fool!
CYRANO:
No, I'm not an imitator of other men! [DE GUICHE has succeeded in getting by, and goes toward ROXANE'S door. Cyrano follows him, ready to stop him by force.] Six new methods, all invented by my own brain!
DE GUICHE:
[turning around] Six?
CYRANO:
[quickly and fluently] First, I lay my naked body on the ground and dab myself all over with drops of water. Then I let the sun's fierce rays suck me up just as they suck up the morning dew!
DE GUICHE:
[surprised, making one step toward CYRANO] Ah! That makes one!
CYRANO:
[stepping back, and enticing him further away] Second, I surround a chest with twenty mirrors. The mirrors focus the sun's rays directly upon the chest, heating up the air inside it. The air becomes rarefied and the chest rises up like a balloon, with myself inside it!
DE GUICHE:
[making another step] That makes two!
CYRANO:
[still stepping backward] Or, with my mechanical skills, I build a giant grasshopper out of steel. I use gunpowder to propel it, and with each leap, it launches me upward to the skies!
DE GUICHE:
[unconsciously following him and counting on his fingers] Three!
CYRANO:
Or, since smoke rises, I fill a giant globe with smoke. The globe rises, and carries me away!
DE GUICHE:
[still following Cyrano, and becoming more and more astonished] Well, that makes four!
CYRANO:
Or, since the goddess of the moon likes to hunt cattle, I coat my body with cattle marrow and get drawn up by her bow and arrow!
DE GUICHE:
[amazed] Five!
CYRANO:
[who, while speaking, has drawn DE GUICHE to the other side of the square near a bench] Or, I sit upon an iron platform and throw a mag- net into the air. It's a very smart method! The magnet will pull up the iron platform with me on it. Then, I simply throw the magnet up again and it pulls the platform up further! And on and on, until I reach the moon!
DE GUICHE:
Those are six excellent methods! Which one of them did you choose?
CYRANO:
Why, none of them! I chose a seventh!
DE GUICHE:
Astonishing! What was it?
CYRANO:
Try to guess.
DE GUICHE:
This madman has becoming quite interesting!
CYRANO:
[making a noise like that of ocean waves, and gesturing strangely] Hoo! Hoo!
DE GUICHE:
What does that mean?
CYRANO:
Can't you guess?
DE GUICHE:
Certainly not!
CYRANO:
The tide! When the moon was full, I soaked myself in the sea and laid myself down by the shore. In the same way that it pulls the ocean up and causes the tides, the moon pulled me up! I was pulled straight up by my head, since that part of me held the most moisture, due to my wet and matted hair! I was gently rising, just like an angel in flight, when all of a sudden I felt a shock! And then—
DE GUICHE:
[overcome by curiosity, sitting down on the bench] And then what?
CYRANO:
Oh! And then—[suddenly returning to his natural voice] The quar- ter hour is up. I'll detain you no more. The marriage vows have been exchanged.
DE GUICHE:
[springing up] What? Am I mad? That voice! [The door of the house opens. LACKEYS appear carrying lighted candelabra. The stage ligh ting becomes brighter. CYRANO gracefully takes off his hat, which he had kept pulled down in order to hide his face.] That nose! Cyrano?
CYRANO:
[bowing] At your service. They've just been married.
DE GUICHE:
Who? [He turns around. Behind the lackeys appear ROXANE and CHRISTIAN, holding hands. The FRIAR follows them, smiling. RAGUENEAU also holds a candlestick. The DUENNA follows at the rear, bewildered and wearing a dressing gown.] Good Lord!

Scene XII

The same, with ROXANE, CHRISTIAN, the FRIAR, RAGUENEAU, the LACKEYS, the DUENNA.

[There is the sound of drums beating a march in the distance.]

Curtain.

DE GUICHE:
[to ROXANE] You? [recognizing CHRISTIAN, in amazement] And he? [bowing, with admiration, to ROXANE] How clever and cunning your little trick! [to CYRANO] My compliments to you as well, master inventor! Your story would stop even the angels on their way into heaven! Be sure to write all the details down. It certainly would make a great book!
CYRANO:
[bowing] I will take your advice.
FRIAR:
[showing with satisfaction the two lovers to DE GUICHE] A handsome couple, brought together by you, Sir!
DE GUICHE:
[with an icy look] Yes. [to ROXANE] Say goodbye to your husband, Madame.
ROXANE:
Why?
DE GUICHE:
[to CHRISTIAN] The regiment is departing. Join it!
ROXANE:
The regiment is going off to battle?
DE GUICHE:
Without doubt.
ROXANE:
But the cadets aren't going, are they?
DE GUICHE:
Oh, yes, they're going! [drawing out the paper he had put in his pocket] Here's the order. [to CHRISTIAN] Baron, take it and deliver it at once!
ROXANE:
[throwing herself into CHRISTIAN'S arms] Christian!
DE GUICHE:
[sneeringly to CYRANO] The wedding night is a long way off, I think!
CYRANO:
[aside] He thinks that bothers me!
CHRISTIAN:
[to ROXANE] Oh, let me kiss you once more!
CYRANO:
Come, come, that's enough!
CHRISTIAN:
[still kissing ROXANE] You don't know how hard it is to leave her!
CYRANO:
[trying to draw him away] I do know.
DE GUICHE:
The regiment starts!
ROXANE:
[to CYRANO, holding back CHRISTIAN, whom CYRANO is drawing away] I trust you to protect him! Promise me that nothing shall put his life in danger!
CYRANO:
I will do my best, but— I cannot promise anything.
ROXANE:
But swear to me that you'll make sure he is careful!
CYRANO:
Again, I'll do my best, but—
ROXANE:
Promise me he won't suffer from the cold during the siege!
CYRANO:
I'll do everything I can—
ROXANE:
Promise me that he'll be faithful!
CYRANO:
I'm sure he will be, but—
ROXANE:
Promise to make him write to me often!
CYRANO:
[pausing] That is something I can promise!