Cyrano de Bergerac eText - Act IV

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Act IV

The Cadets of Gascony

A post occupied by the company of CARBON DE CASTEL-JALOUX at the siege of Arras. In the background is an embankment across the whole stage. Beyond is a view of plains extending to the horizon. The countryside is covered with entrenchments. The walls of Arras and the outlines of its roofs can be seen in the distance. Tents, weapons, armor, and drums are strewn about. Day is breaking with a faint glimmer of yellow sunrise in the east. Sentinels keep watch at various points. Campfires are burning. The cadets of Gascony, wrapped in their cloaks, are sleeping. CARBON DE CASTEL-JALOUX and LE BRET are keeping watch. They are very pale and thin. CHRISTIAN sleeps among the others in his cloak in the foreground, his face illuminated by the fire. There is silence.

Scene I

CHRISTIAN, CARBON DE CASTEL-JALOUX, LE BRET, the CADETS, then CYRANO.

[Firing is heard in the distance.]

[Firing is heard again, nearer this time.]

[Those who have lifted up their heads prepare to sleep again.]

[He comes down. LE BRET advances anxiously to meet him.]

[He enters the tent and disappears.]

LE BRET:
It's terrible!
CARBON:
Not a morsel of food left.
LE BRET:
Mordious!
CARBON:
[making a sign that he should speak lower] Curse under your breath. You will awaken them. [to the CADETS] Hush! Go back to sleep. [to LE BRET] He who sleeps can dine by dreaming of food.
LE BRET:
That's not much comfort to those who cannot sleep! What starvation!
CARBON:
Oh, damn their firing! It will wake my boys. [to the CADETS, who lift up their heads] Go back to sleep!
A CADET:
[moving] Damn! Again!
CARBON:
’Tis nothing! It's just Cyrano coming back!
A SENTINEL:
[from offstage] Halt! Who goes there?
VOICE OF CYRANO:
Bergerac.
SENTINEL:
[on the embankment] Stop! Who goes there?
CYRANO:
[appearing at the top of the embankment] It's Bergerac, you idiot!
LE BRET:
Heavens!
CYRANO:
[making signs that he should not awaken the others] Hush!
LE BRET:
Are you wounded?
CYRANO:
No. You should know by now they make a habit of missing me every morning.
LE BRET:
This is too much! To risk your life every morning in order to deliver letters!
CYRANO:
[stopping before CHRISTIAN] I promised that he would write often. [He looks at CHRISTIAN.] He sleeps. How pale he is! But still handsome, despite his sufferings. If his poor lady-love knew that he is dying of hunger…
LE BRET:
Get yourself to bed, quickly.
CYRANO:
Don't scold me, Le Bret! The risk I take is smaller than you think.
I've found an easy spot to pass through the Spanish lines, where the men go to sleep drunk every night.
LE BRET:
You should try to bring us back some food next time.
CYRANO:
A man must carry no weight if he is to get by there! But there will be a surprise for us tonight. If I'm not mistaken, the French will either eat or die tonight.
LE BRET:
Oh! What's going on? Tell me!
CYRANO:
No, not yet. I'm not certain of it yet. You'll see.
CARBON:
We're the besiegers, and yet we're starving! How disgraceful!
LE BRET:
Alas, this siege is full of complications! While we're besieging, we ourselves are caught in a trap and are besieged by the Cardinal Infante of Spain.
CYRANO:
It would come full circle if he were besieged as well!
LE BRET:
This isn't funny. I'm serious.
CYRANO:
Oh! Of course!
LE BRET:
To think that you should risk your precious life everyday, for the sake of a letter. [seeing him turning to enter the tent] Where are you going?
CYRANO:
To write another one!

Scene II

The same, with all but CYRANO. The day is breaking in a rosy light. The town of Arras is golden on the horizon. The report of cannon fire is heard in the distance, followed immediately by the beating of drums far away to the left. Other drums are heard much nearer. There are sounds of stirring in the camp and voices of officers in the distance.

[The daylight has now come.]

CARBON:
[sighing] The reveille! [The CADETS move and stretch themselves.] Nourishing sleep is at an end! I know what their first cry will be!
A CADET:
[sitting up] I'm so hungry!
ANOTHER:
Oh, I'm dying of hunger!
TOGETHER:
Oh!
CARBON:
Up with you!
THIRD CADET:
I cannot move a limb!
FOURTH CADET:
Nor can I!
FIRST:
[looking at himself in a piece of armor] My tongue is yellow. The air we've been living on is not quite in season—it's hard on the digestion.
ANOTHER:
I'd give my coronet for a bit of cheese!
ANOTHER:
If I don't get something for the juices in my stomach to work on, I'll give up and retire to my tent like old Achilles!
ANOTHER:
Oh, something, anything! Even just a crust!
CARBON:
[going to the tent and calling softly] Cyrano!
ALL THE CADETS:
We're dying!
CARBON:
[continuing to speak under his breath at the opening of the tent] Help me, Cyrano. You always know what to say to make them feel better. Come, cheer them up.
SECOND CADET:
[rushing toward another who is munching on something] What are you eating there?
FIRST CADET:
Cannon wadding fried in axle-grease! It's poor game-hunting around here!
A CADET:
[entering] I've been hunting game!
ANOTHER:
[following him] And I've been after fish!
ALL:
[rushing to the two newcomers] Well!—What have you brought?—A pheasant?—A carp?—Come, show us quick!
FISHER:
A minnow.
HUNTER:
One tiny sparrow.
ALL TOGETHER:
[exasperated] It's more than we can bear! We'll mutiny!
CARBON:
Cyrano! Come to my aid!

Scene III

The same, with CYRANO.

[The CADETS sit with bowed heads. Their eyes have a far-off look as if they are dreaming. Once in a while, they furtively wipe away their tears with their cuffs and the corner of their cloaks.]

[He makes a signal and the drum begins to beat.]

[All the CADETS mutter irritably.]

[He walks up and down, reading a little book which he has drawn from his pocket. DE GUICHE enters. Everyone appears absorbed and happy. DE GUICHE is very pale. He goes up to CARBON.]

CYRANO:
[appearing from the tent, very calm, with a pen stuck behind his ear and a book in his hand] What's wrong? [There is silence. He speaks to the FIRST CADET.] Why do you drag yourself around so sadly?
CADET:
I have something in my feet which weighs them down.
CYRANO:
And what might that be?
CADET:
My stomach!
CYRANO:
I have the same problem!
CADET:
But aren't you bothered by it?
CYRANO:
No, being so thin only makes us look taller!
A THIRD:
My stomach's hollow.
CYRANO:
Then it shall make a fine drum to bang during the assault!
ANOTHER:
I have a ringing in my ears.
CYRANO:
No, no! That can't be! A hungry stomach has no ears!
ANOTHER:
Oh, for a morsel of anything, with just a dab of oil!
CYRANO:
[pulling off the CADET's helmet and holding it out to him] Here's your salad!
ANOTHER:
What, in God's name, can we eat?
CYRANO:
[throwing him the book which he is carrying] The Iliad! A little food for thought!
ANOTHER:
The prime minister in Paris gets his four meals a day!
CYRANO:
It would be courteous of him to send you a few partridges!
SAME CADET:
Yes, it would! And wine too!
CYRANO:
A little Burgundy, please, Cardinal!
ANOTHER:
I'm as ravenous as a giant!
CYRANO:
Then feast on some of your giant's fat!
FIRST CADET:
[shrugging] You're always so quick with your pointed words!
CYRANO:
Yes, pointed words! And I hope that when I die, I shall die making a pointed word for a good cause. I'll die a soldier's death by a soldier's sword, wielded by some brave adversary. I'll die on blood-stained ground, not in a sickbed, with a pointed word on my lips, and a real point within my heart.
ALL THE CADETS:
I'm hungry!
CYRANO:
All you think about is food! Bertrandou the fifer, you were a shepherd once. Draw your fife from its leather case and play for these greedy, gluttonous soldiers. Play some sweet country songs to remind us of our Gascon homes. Play those songs that softly echo the dear voices of family, in which each note calls to us like a little sister. Play those tunes that rise slowly, like the smoke-wreaths rise from the hearthstones of our native villages. Their music strikes the air like Gascon patois! [BERTRANDOU seats himself, and gets his flute ready.] Your flute is sadly at war now, but it was not always a warrior. As your fingers dance upon its stem in a bird-like minuet, remember that flutes were not always made of wood, but were made first out of simple reeds. Use your flute to recall those pastoral days, the soul-time of your youth, in country pastures! [The old man begins to play a Gascon tune.] Listen to the music, Gascons! It's no longer the piercing fife of battle, but beneath his fingers, the flute of the woods! No more the call to combat, it's now the love-song of the wandering goat-herds! Listen! It's the valley, the wetlands, the forest, the sunburnt shepherd boy with scarlet beret, the dusk of evening on the Dordogne River! ’Tis Gascony! Listen, Gascons, to the music!
CARBON:
[to CYRANO in a whisper] But you're making them weep!
CYRANO:
Yes, but for homesickness. It's a nobler pain than hunger. It's a pain of the soul, not the body. I'm pleased to see their pain changed. Heart- ache is better than stomach-ache.
CARBON:
But aren't you weakening their courage by playing with their hearts?
CYRANO:
[making a sign to a drummer to approach] Not at all! The hero that sleeps inside of every Gascon is easily awakened. All it takes is—
ALL THE CADETS:
[standing up and rushing to take up their weapons] What? What is it?
CYRANO:
[smiling] See! One roll of the drum is enough! Goodbye dreams, regrets, native land, love! All that the pipe brought forth, the drum has chased away!
A CADET:
[looking toward the back of the stage] Ugh! Here comes Monsieur de Guiche.
CYRANO:
[smiling] That's a flattering welcome!
A CADET:
We are sick to death of him!
ANOTHER:
With his lace collar over his armor, acting like he's a fine gentleman!
ANOTHER:
A soldier should not wear linen over steel!
THE FIRST:
Unless he's using it to bandage a boil on his neck!
THE SECOND:
He's not a true soldier! He's a scheming courtier!
ANOTHER:
He's his uncle's nephew!
CARBON:
But he's still a Gascon.
THE FIRST:
Oh, but a false Gascon! I don't trust him at all. True Gascons are madmen, but he is too sane. There's nothing more dangerous than a rational Gascon!
LE BRET:
He's so pale!
ANOTHER:
Oh, he's hungry, just as we are. But since he wears gilded studs on his armor, his stomach-ache glitters in the sunlight!
CYRANO:
[hurriedly] Let's not look like we're suffering! Take out your cards and pipes and dice! [They all begin lighting pipes and spreading out games on the drums, the stools, the ground, and on their cloaks.] And I shall read Descartes.

Scene IV

The same, with DE GUICHE.

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

[There is silent delight among the cadets. The cards fall, the dice rattle, the smoke is puffed.]

[The CADETS again suspend their movements and wait.]

[There is silence. The cadets stifle their laughter in their cards and dice-boxes. DE GUICHE turns and looks at them. They instantly become serious and return to their games. One of them whistles indifferently the tune that was just played by the fifer.]

[He goes to the embankment and waves the scarf three times.]

[All the CADETS rise. There are sounds of swords being picked up and belts being buckled.]

[They all sit down again and take up their games.]

[He goes up with CARBON.]

[DE GUICHE speaks in a low voice with CARBON at the back. Orders are given. Preparations go forward. CYRANO goes up to CHRISTIAN, who stands with crossed arms.]

[A distant rumbling is heard far off in the camp.]

[Shots and voices and carriage bell are heard.]

[Everyone rushes to see.]

[Everyone is on the embankment, staring. The bells come nearer.]

[Everyone comes down and falls into line.]

[The carriage enters at full speed covered with dust and mud. The curtains are drawn closed. Two LACKEYS follow behind. The carriage stops suddenly.]

[A roll of drums sounds. The CADETS take off their hats.]

[All are bowing to the ground, but at the sound of a woman's voice every head is instantly raised.]

DE GUICHE:
[to CARBON] Good day! [They examine each other. De Guiche speaks in an aside, with satisfaction.] He's quite green!
CARBON:
[looking at DE GUICHE with the same sort of satisfaction and also speaking in an aside] His cheeks are sunken and his eyes are as big as saucers!
DE GUICHE:
[looking at the CADETS] So! Here are the rebels! I've been hearing from all sides that you country louts scoff at me—your colonel! It seems that you mountain-bred aristocrats harbor a disdain for me, calling me a plotter and a scheming courtier! I hear that it doesn't please your mightiness to see a lace collar on my armor! You're all simply enraged by the fact that a man can be still be a Gascon without looking like a ragged beggar! [There is silence. Everyone continues to smoke and to play.] Shall I command your captain to punish you? No.
CARBON:
Let me remind you that these are my men, and I would refuse to punish them.
DE GUICHE:
Ah!
CARBON:
These men are of my company. I take orders only from headquarters.
DE GUICHE:
Is that so? Fine, then. [addressing himself to the cadets] I am above your taunts, because it's well known how I've shown myself in this war. Just yesterday, at Bapaume, I beat back the Count of Bucquoi. I assembled my men and we charged on him three separate times!
CYRANO:
[without lifting his eyes from his book] Yes, and don't forget the part about your white scarf.
DE GUICHE:
[surprised and gratified] Oh, you've heard that detail? It's true! I'll tell you how it happened. While turning about to recall the troops for the third charge, I was swept up with a band of fugitives. They bore me with them, and we came dangerously close to the enemy. I was in peril of capture or sudden death! I quickly had the idea to loosen the scarf which told my military rank and I let it fall. This way, I was unnoticed and was able to leave the swarm. I went back, rallied my men, and we charged and scattered them! What do you say to that, Sir?
CYRANO:
I say that Henry the Fourth would never have stripped himself of his scarf, no matter the danger.
DE GUICHE:
But it was a good trick! And it worked!
CYRANO:
Oh, that may be true! But I don't believe in lightly abdicating the honor of being the enemy's target. [Cards and dice fall again, and the cadets smoke with delight.] We have very different ideas of what courage is, Sir. If I had been there when your scarf fell, I would have picked it up and put it on myself.
DE GUICHE:
Oh, that's just Gascon bragging!
CYRANO:
Bragging? Give the scarf to me. I promise that tonight I will lead the assault while wearing it across my chest.
DE GUICHE:
Another Gascon boast! You know very well that my scarf now lies on the river bank in enemy territory. The place is riddled with gunfire! No one can bring it back!
CYRANO:
[drawing the scarf from his pocket, and holding it out to him] Here it is.
DE GUICHE:
[taking the scarf] I thank you. And now I shall make a signal that I was unable to make until now.
ALL:
What's he doing?
SENTINEL:
[from the top of the embankment] I see a man running away down there!
DE GUICHE:
[descending] He's a false Spanish spy. He's extremely useful to me. I give him false news to carry to the enemy, and such news influences their decisions!
CYRANO:
He's a traitor and a scoundrel!
DE GUICHE:
[carelessly knotting his scarf] But he's extremely helpful to us. Now, what were we talking about? Ah! I have news for you. Last night, the Marshal secretly left for Dourlens in order to bring back food and drink for us. But to ensure that he would be able to return to camp more easily, he took most of the troops with him. If we get attacked now, we'll be in serious trouble. Half of the army is absent from the camp!
CARBON:
Yes, if the Spaniards knew this, it would be terrible for us. But they know nothing?
DE GUICHE:
Oh, they know. And they will attack us.
CARBON:
Ah!
DE GUICHE:
My false spy came to warn me of their attack. He told me, “I can have them attack at whichever point you'd like them to, by telling them that it's the point which is least defended. Where do you want it to happen?” I answered, “Leave the camp and watch for my signal. I will sign to you from the point I have chosen.”
CARBON:
[to the CADETS] Make ready!
DE GUICHE:
It will happen in one hour.
FIRST CADET:
Oh, in that case…
DE GUICHE:
[to CARBON] The Marshal will be on his way back, so we must keep the enemy occupied here for as long as we can.
CARBON:
How do you propose we do that?
DE GUICHE:
By letting them continue their attack until every last one of your cadets are killed.
CYRANO:
Ah! So this is your revenge!
DE GUICHE:
I am not saying that if I loved you all, I would have chosen differently. As boastful and courageous as you are, you are my best choice. In this way, I serve both my King and my grudge at the same time.
CYRANO:
Permit me to express my gratitude.
DE GUICHE:
I know you love to fight against the odds. I hope you're not complaining now.
CYRANO:
[to the CADETS] We shall add to the Gascon coat of arms a new mark! Among its six bars of blue and gold, we'll add one more—a blood-red bar that was missing before!
CYRANO:
[putting his hand on CHRISTIAN'S shoulder] Christian?
CHRISTIAN:
[shaking his head] Roxane!
CYRANO:
Yes, I know.
CHRISTIAN:
If I could only, at the very least, say goodbye to her in a letter!
CYRANO:
I had a suspicion that today might be the day, so I already wrote— [He draws a letter out of his jacket.]
CHRISTIAN:
Show it to me!
CYRANO:
Shall I—
CHRISTIAN:
[taking the letter] Yes! [He opens it and reads.] Wait a minute!
CYRANO:
What?
CHRISTIAN:
This little spot!
CYRANO:
[taking the letter, with an innocent look] A spot?
CHRISTIAN:
It's a tear!
CYRANO:
Alas, poets are so good at inventing emotion that they sometimes get caught up in it themselves! This letter was so sad and moving that I wept myself while writing it!
CHRISTIAN:
You wept? But why?
CYRANO:
Oh, death itself is nothing. But to never see her again! That is something worse than death! To think that I shall never—[CHRISTIAN looks at him.] I mean, to think that we shall—[quickly] I mean, that you
CHRISTIAN:
[snatching the letter from him] Give me that letter!
VOICE OF SENTINEL:
Who goes there?
CARBON:
What is it?
SENTINEL:
[on the embankment] ’Tis a carriage!
CRIES:
A carriage? In the camp? It's coming! The enemy! Fire on it! No! The coachman! What did he say? “On the King's service!”
DE GUICHE:
The King's service? How?
CARBON:
Hats off, everyone!
DE GUICHE:
The King's service! Get in line, all of you! Don't you know how to welcome a king?
CARBON:
Beat the salute!
ROXANE:
[jumping down from the carriage] Good day!

Scene V

The same, with ROXANE.

[DE GUICHE goes out.]

DE GUICHE:
On the King's service! You?
ROXANE:
Yes, I come in the service of the king called love! What other king is there?
CYRANO:
Great God!
CHRISTIAN:
[rushing forward] Why have you come?
ROXANE:
This siege is going on too long!
CHRISTIAN:
But—
ROXANE:
I will tell you all!
CYRANO:
[who, at the sound of her voice, has stood still, rooted to the ground, afraid to raise his eyes] My God! I don't dare to look at her!
DE GUICHE:
You cannot stay here!
ROXANE:
[merrily] Yes, I can! Who will give me a drum to sit on? [She seats herself on the drum that is rolled forward.] Thank you! [She laughs.] My carriage was fired at! [proudly] It looks just like a pumpkin, doesn't it? And my footmen like rats turned into handsome men, just like in the fairy tale! [blowing a kiss to CHRISTIAN] Good morning! [examining them all] You don't look very cheerful! Don't you know it's a long way from Paris to Arras? [seeing CYRANO] Cousin! I'm delighted to see you!
CYRANO:
[coming up to her] But how, in Heaven's name—?
ROXANE:
How did I find my way here? It was simple enough. I just had to keep going until I saw the countryside laid to waste. Ah, what horrors were there! If I had not seen it, I would never have believed it! Well, gentlemen, if this is the way you serve your king, I would certainly rather serve mine!
CYRANO:
But this is sheer madness! Where in the devil's name did you get through?
ROXANE:
Where? Through the Spanish lines, of course!
FIRST CADET:
Only a woman could get away with something like that!
DE GUICHE:
But how did you pass through their lines?
LE BRET:
Yes, that must have been extremely difficult!
ROXANE:
Not really. I simply drove calmly forward in my carriage, and whenever some proud Spaniard stopped me, I gave him my sweetest smile. And since Spaniards are the most gallant gentlemen in the world—after Frenchmen, of course—they allowed me to pass on!
CARBON:
True, that smile of yours makes a pretty passport! But were you not asked to give an account of where you were going, Madame?
ROXANE:
Yes, frequently. And in answer, I would say, “I'm going to see my lover.” At that word, the fiercest Spaniard of them all would gravely shut the carriage door, and, with a gesture that a king might envy, would signal to his men to lower the guns leveled at me. Then, with sad and graceful dignity, he would doff his hat and bow low to me, saying, “Pass on, Señorita!”
CHRISTIAN:
But, Roxane—
ROXANE:
Forgive me for saying “my lover.” But think of it! If I had said “my husband” not one of them would have let me pass!
CHRISTIAN:
But…
ROXANE:
What's the matter?
DE GUICHE:
You must leave here!
ROXANE:
Must I?
CYRANO:
Yes, and right now!
LE BRET:
At once!
CHRISTIAN:
Indeed, you must.
ROXANE:
But why must I?
CHRISTIAN:
[embarrassed] Because—
CYRANO:
[also embarrassed] In three quarters of an hour—
DE GUICHE:
[with the same look] Or less—
CARBON:
[the same] It would be best if—
LE BRET:
[the same] You might want to—
ROXANE:
You're going to fight, aren't you? I'm staying here!
ALL:
No, no!
ROXANE:
He is my husband! [She throws herself into CHRISTIAN'S arms.] They shall kill us both together!
CHRISTIAN:
What a fiery look in your eyes!
ROXANE:
You know what it signifies!
DE GUICHE:
[in despair] This is a post of mortal danger!
ROXANE:
[turning around] Mortal danger?
CYRANO:
He should know. He stationed us here.
ROXANE:
[to DE GUICHE] So! You wanted to make a widow out of me!
DE GUICHE:
No! I swear to you—
ROXANE:
I will not go! I'm reckless now, and I shall not move from here! Besides, it's quite amusing!
CYRANO:
Oh! So the lady intellectual is now a heroine as well!
ROXANE:
I am your cousin, Monsieur de Bergerac.
A CADET:
We'll defend you well!
ROXANE:
[more and more excited] I do not doubt that at all, my friends!
ANOTHER:
[ecstatically] Ah! The whole camp smells like irises!
ROXANE:
And what luck! I'm wearing a hat that will look so nice on the battlefield! [looking at DE GUICHE] Shouldn't you be going? Surely they'll begin the attack any moment!
DE GUICHE:
I won't stand for this! I'm going to inspect the cannons. When I return, I hope to see that you've changed your mind!
ROXANE:
Never!

Scene VI

The same, with all except DE GUICHE.

[The whole company starts forward to pick it up.]

[Everyone is confused and dismayed.]

[The CADETS cheer enthusiastically.]

[The CADETS applaud.]

[The CADETS applaud more. The dish passes from hand to hand.]

[Enthusiastic cries ensue. All the CADETS reach out to the platter.]

[She lays it all out on the grass, aided by the two lackeys who followed behind the carriage.]

[CHRISTIAN comes to help her. CYRANO'S uneasiness increases.]

[The CADETS tear open the cushions, laughing and shouting.]

[In an instant everything has been pushed into the tents or hidden in jackets, cloaks and hats. DE GUICHE enters hurriedly and suddenly stops, sniffing the air. There is silence.]

CHRISTIAN:
[begging] Roxane!
ROXANE:
No!
FIRST CADET:
[to the others] She stays!
ALL:
[hurrying, hustling each other, tidying themselves for her] A comb! Some soap! My uniform is torn! A needle! A ribbon! Lend me your mirror! Your mustache curler! A razor!
ROXANE:
[to CYRANO, who still pleads with her] No! Nothing shall make me move from this spot!
CARBON:
[who, like the others, has been buckling, dusting, brushing his hat, settling his plume, and drawing on his cuffs, advances to ROXANE, and speaks ceremoniously.] Since that is the case, let me present to you some of these gentlemen who are about to have the honor of dying before your eyes. [ROXANE bows, and stands leaning on CHRISTIAN'S arm, while CARBON introduces the cadets to her.] Baron de Peyrescous de Colignac!
THE CADET:
[bowing] Madame.
CARBON:
[continuing] Baron de Casterac de Cahuzac…Vidame de Malgouyre Estressac Lesbas d'Escarabiot…Chevalier d'Antignac-Juzet…Baron Hillot de Blagnac-Salechan de Castel Crabioules…
ROXANE:
But how many names do you each have?
BARON HILLOT:
Oh, too many to count!
CARBON:
[to ROXANE] Please, open the hand which holds your handkerchief.
ROXANE:
[opens her hand, the handkerchief falls] Why?
CARBON:
[quickly raising it] My company had no flag! But now they will have the most beautiful flag in all the camp!
ROXANE:
[smiling] ’Tis a little small.
CARBON:
[tying the handkerchief on the staff of his lance] But it's made of lace!
A CADET:
[to the rest] I could die happy, having seen such a sweet face, if only I had something in my stomach!
CARBON:
[indignantly] Shame on you! How can you speak of eating when such a lovely woman—
ROXANE:
I'm starving too! It must be the brisk air. I'd like some pâté, some cold chicken and some good wine. Would you please bring it to me?
A CADET:
You want all of that?
ANOTHER:
But where on the earth shall we find it?
ROXANE:
[quietly] In my carriage.
ALL:
What!
ROXANE:
All we must do is unpack it and serve it! Look a little closer at my coachman, gentlemen, and you'll recognize a most valuable man! All the sauces can be served hot, if you like!
THE CADETS:
[rushing to the carriage] It's Ragueneau! [loud cheers] Oh! Bravo!
ROXANE:
[looking after them] Poor fellows!
CYRANO:
[kissing her hand] Kind fairy!
RAGUENEAU:
[standing on the seat of the carriage and proclaiming] Gentlemen!
RAGUENEAU:
The Spaniards, feasting their eyes on such a beautiful lady, failed to notice the beautiful feast that she was hiding!
CYRANO:
[in a whisper to CHRISTIAN] Listen, Christian!
RAGUENEAU:
They were so occupied with gallantry that they overlooked… [He draws a plate from under the seat, and holds it up.] the galantine!
CYRANO:
[still whispering to CHRISTIAN] Please, let me have one word with you!
RAGUENEAU:
They were so hypnotized by Beauty that they failed to notice… [He holds up a roasted pig on a platter.] the Beast!
CYRANO:
[in a low whisper to CHRISTIAN] I must speak to you!
ROXANE:
[to the CADETS, who come down with their arms laden with food] Put it all on the ground!
ROXANE:
[to CHRISTIAN, just as CYRANO is drawing him away] Come and make yourself useful!
RAGUENEAU:
Peacock with truffles!
FIRST CADET:
[radiant, coming down with a big slice of ham] Thank God! We don't have to die without having had a gullet-full—[quickly correcting himself on seeing ROXANE] Pardon me! A civilized banquet, I mean!
RAGUENEAU:
[throwing down the carriage cushions] The cushions are stuffed with quail!
THIRD CADET:
Thank the Lord!
RAGUENEAU:
[throwing bottles of red and white wine down to the CADETS] Flasks of rubies and flasks of topaz!
ROXANE:
[throwing a folded tablecloth at CYRANO'S head] Unfold that napkin! Come, make it quick now!
RAGUENEAU:
[waving a lantern] Each of the carriage-lamps is a little pantry of its own!
CYRANO:
[in a low voice to CHRISTIAN, as they arrange the cloth together] I must speak with you before you speak to her.
RAGUENEAU:
The handle of my whip is a sausage!
ROXANE:
[pouring out wine and helping with the food] Since we're about to die, let's eat all this food ourselves. All for the Gascons! And, listen! If de Guiche comes back, we shall not invite him to our feast! [going from one to the other] There, there! You have time enough! Don't eat too fast. Here, have some wine. Why are you weeping?
FIRST CADET:
It's all so good!
ROXANE:
[playing the part of the hostess, speaking quickly to all of them in turn] Hush! Red or white? Some bread for Monsieur de Carbon! A knife, please! Pass your plate! A little of the crust? Some more? Let me help you! Some champagne? A wing?
CYRANO:
[who follows her, his arms laden with dishes, helping her to wait on everybody] How I worship her!
ROXANE:
[going up to CHRISTIAN] What would you like?
CHRISTIAN:
Nothing.
ROXANE:
Oh, you must! At least take this biscuit, soaked in wine!
CHRISTIAN:
[trying to detain her] Oh! Tell me why you came here!
ROXANE:
Wait! My first duty is to these poor men. Hush! In a few minutes—
LE BRET:
[who had gone up to pass a loaf of bread on the end of a lance to the sentry on the embankment] De Guiche is coming!
CYRANO:
Quick! Hide the bottles, plates, pie-dishes and meats! Everything! Hurry! Look as if nothing has been going on! [to RAGUENEAU] Get up on your seat! Is everything covered up?

Scene VII

[All the food and drink reappears as if by magic.]

[The CADETS shout and dance in delight.]

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

[She takes it and they go up toward the embankment. All the CADETS take off their hats and follow them.]

[As ROXANE appears on the ridge, the tops of the lances disappear, lowered for the salute, and a shout is raised. She bows.]

[He goes hurriedly into his tent.]

DE GUICHE:
Something smells good here.
A CADET:
[singing casually] La, la, la…
DE GUICHE:
[looking at him] What's the matter with you? Your cheeks are flushed.
CADET:
Nothing's the matter! It's just my blood boiling at the thought of the coming battle!
ANOTHER:
Poom, poom-poom…
DE GUICHE:
[turning around] What's that?
CADET:
[slightly drunk] Oh, nothing! Just a little song!
DE GUICHE:
Well, aren't you in a merry mood!
CADET:
It's just that the approach of danger is intoxicating!
DE GUICHE:
[calling CARBON DE CASTEL-JALOUX, to give him an order] Captain! I— [He stops short on seeing him.] By God! You too! How strangely happy you look!
CARBON:
[red in the face, hiding a bottle behind his back with an evasive movement] Oh! I…
DE GUICHE:
Listen. I have one cannon left, and I've carried it over there. [He points.] Your men can use it in case they need it.
A CADET:
[reeling slightly] What a thoughtful action!
ANOTHER:
[with a gracious smile] How sweet of you to think of us!
DE GUICHE:
Good Lord! Have they all gone crazy? [curtly] Since you're not used to cannons, beware of the recoil on this one.
FIRST CADET:
Pooh!
DE GUICHE:
[furious, going up to him] Look here, you—!
CADET:
Gascon cannons never recoil!
DE GUICHE:
[taking him by the arm and shaking him] You're drunk! But with what?
CADET:
[loftily] The smell of gunpowder!
DE GUICHE:
[shrugging his shoulders and pushing him away, then going quickly to ROXANE] Quickly, Madame, have you made your decision?
ROXANE:
Yes, I'm staying here.
DE GUICHE:
No, you must go!
ROXANE:
No! I'm staying.
DE GUICHE:
If this is the way it's going to be, someone give me a musket.
CARBON:
Why?
DE GUICHE:
Because I, too, am staying.
CYRANO:
At last! This is true bravery, Sir!
FIRST CADET:
Then you are a Gascon after all, despite your lace collar!
ROXANE:
What's all this about?
DE GUICHE:
I will never leave any woman in danger.
SECOND CADET:
[to the first] Listen! Don't you think we ought to give him something to eat?
DE GUICHE:
[eyes sparkling] Food!
THIRD CADET:
Yes, you'll see it appear from under every hat and coat!
DE GUICHE:
[controlling himself, proudly] Do you think I'll eat your leftovers?
CYRANO:
[saluting him] You're making progress.
DE GUICHE:
[proudly, with a light touch of Gascon accent] I will fight without breaking my fast!
FIRST CADET:
[with wild delight] Spoken like a true Gascon!
DE GUICHE:
[laughing] I am a Gascon!
CADET:
He's one of us!
CARBON:
[who had disappeared behind the embankment, reappearing on the ridge] I've lined up my pikemen. They're prepared to fight until the end.
DE GUICHE:
[bowing to ROXANE] Will you accept my hand, and accompany me while I inspect them?
CHRISTIAN:
[going over to CYRANO] Tell me quickly!
PIKEMEN:
[from outside] Hurrah!
CHRISTIAN:
What is this secret?
CYRANO:
If Roxane should—
CHRISTIAN:
Should what?
CYRANO:
If she should speak of the letters—
CHRISTIAN:
Yes, go on!
CYRANO:
Don't spoil it all by seeming surprised—
CHRISTIAN:
Surprised at what?
CYRANO:
I must explain to you! It's quite a simple matter. I was reminded of it just today upon seeing her. You've written—
CHRISTIAN:
Tell me quickly!
CYRANO:
You've written to her more often than you think.
CHRISTIAN:
How so?
CYRANO:
I took it upon myself to express your passion for you! At times I wrote to her without telling you!
CHRISTIAN:
Ah, I see.
CYRANO:
It's quite simple! No great matter!
CHRISTIAN:
But we've been blockaded. How did you get the letters across?
CYRANO:
Oh! I was able to get through before dawn.
CHRISTIAN:
[folding his arms] And was that a simple matter too? Tell me, how often have “I” written? Twice a week? Three times? Four?
CYRANO:
More often still.
CHRISTIAN:
What! Every day?
CYRANO:
Yes. Every day, twice a day.
CHRISTIAN:
[violently] And you became so caught up in the mad joy of it that you risked your life—
CYRANO:
[seeing ROXANE returning] Hush! Not in front of her!

Scene VIII

ROXANE, CHRISTIAN. In the distance cadets are coming and going. CARBON and DE GUICHE give orders.

[She goes up to the CADETS, who respectfully crowd around her.]

ROXANE:
[running up to CHRISTIAN] Ah, Christian! At last!
CHRISTIAN:
[taking her hands] Now, Roxane, tell me why you traveled such perilous roads and dealt with such vulgar soldiers in order to come here.
ROXANE:
Your letters brought me here, my love!
CHRISTIAN:
What do you mean?
ROXANE:
It's your fault that I ran such risks! Your letters intoxicated me so much I lost my reason! So many letters! And each one better than the one before!
CHRISTIAN:
Do you mean to say you came all this way just because of a few simple love letters?
ROXANE:
Yes! You have no idea of the power those letters hold! Ever since that night under my window, when, in a voice all new to me, you bared your soul—ever since then I've adored you! And now, with all the letters of the past month, I hear your tender and true voice so close to me! So it is your fault, I say! It was your voice that drew me here. Penelope never would have stayed home and contented herself with her embroidering if her Ulysses could have written such letters! Instead, she would have cast everything aside and fled to join him, as mad for love as was Helen!
CHRISTIAN:
But—
ROXANE:
I read them over and over. I grew weak with love. I was entirely yours. Each separate page was like a flower petal, plucked from your soul, and sent wafting into mine. Imprinted in each burning word was a love so sincere, so powerful—
CHRISTIAN:
A love sincere! And you really could feel that, Roxane?
ROXANE:
Yes, I felt it!
CHRISTIAN:
And so you have come…
ROXANE:
Oh, Christian, my true love! Yes, I have come to you! If I were to throw myself down on my knees, I know you would lift me up. Therefore, I lay my soul down at your feet, and it cannot be raised. I've come to beg your forgiveness. And it seems a good time to ask for forgiveness, now that death is so near. I ask you to forgive me for the insult I did to you when I first loved you only for your handsome face!
CHRISTIAN:
[horror-stricken] Roxane!
ROXANE:
And later, when I grew less frivolous, I began to love you not just for your beauty, but for also for your soul. I loved you for both of these things at once!
CHRISTIAN:
And now?
ROXANE:
Ah! And now, your true self has triumphed over your appearance! I now love you only for your soul!
CHRISTIAN:
[stepping backward] Oh, Roxane!
ROXANE:
But be happy. It must be torture for any noble soul to be loved only for beauty. For beauty is a poor disguise that is soon worn threadbare by time. Your dear thoughts have outshined the handsome face that won me in the beginning. And now I see clearer. Now I no longer see your beauty at all!
CHRISTIAN:
Oh!
ROXANE:
Do you still doubt your victory?
CHRISTIAN:
[pained] Oh, Roxane!
ROXANE:
I know. You cannot believe in such a love yet.
CHRISTIAN:
I don't ask for such a love as that! All I want is for you to love me more simply!
ROXANE:
Like so many other women have loved you? For shame! Let me show you a better kind of love!
CHRISTIAN:
No! The first one was better!
ROXANE:
Oh, how wrong you are! The way I love you now is the best kind of love! I love you for your true self. If you were less handsome—
CHRISTIAN:
Hush!
ROXANE:
I would love you still! Yes, even if you became ugly—
CHRISTIAN:
No! Don't say it!
ROXANE:
Yes, I will say it!
CHRISTIAN:
Even if I were ugly?
ROXANE:
Yes, even so, I swear I'd love you still!
CHRISTIAN:
My God!
ROXANE:
Are you content at last?
CHRISTIAN:
[in a choked voice] Yes.
ROXANE:
What's wrong?
CHRISTIAN:
[gently pushing her away] Nothing. I just need to have a word with someone. Just one moment.
ROXANE:
But…
CHRISTIAN:
[pointing to the CADETS] Those poor fellows are being deprived of you while you're here with me. Go on and speak to them and smile at them before they die.
ROXANE:
[deeply moved] Dear Christian!

Scene IX

CHRISTIAN, CYRANO. At the back of the stage, ROXANE is speaking to CARBON and some CADETS.

[She rushes over to CYRANO. CHRISTIAN goes out.]

CHRISTIAN:
[calling toward CYRANO'S tent] Cyrano!
CYRANO:
[reappearing, fully armed] What's the matter? Why are you so pale?
CHRISTIAN:
She does not love me!
CYRANO:
What?
CHRISTIAN:
It is you she loves!
CYRANO:
No!
CHRISTIAN:
She loves me only for my soul!
CYRANO:
Truly?
CHRISTIAN:
Yes! And that soul is you! Therefore it's you she loves—and you love her!
CYRANO:
I?
CHRISTIAN:
It's true! I know it!
CYRANO:
Yes, it's true.
CHRISTIAN:
You love her madly!
CYRANO:
Yes, and even more than that!
CHRISTIAN:
Then tell her so!
CYRANO:
No!
CHRISTIAN:
Why not?
CYRANO:
Look at my face! You'll find your answer there!
CHRISTIAN:
She told me she would love me even if I were ugly.
CYRANO:
She said that?
CHRISTIAN:
Yes! In those words!
CYRANO:
I'm glad she told you that, but those are only words. Believe them if you want to, but I wouldn't. Take my word for it: never grow ugly. She'd be upset with me then!
CHRISTIAN:
We'll see about that.
CYRANO:
No! I'm begging you!
CHRISTIAN:
Yes! Let her choose between us! Tell her everything!
CYRANO:
No, no! I will not have it! Spare me this torment!
CHRISTIAN:
Do you really believe that just because my face is handsome by chance, that your chance of happiness should be destroyed? That would be too unjust!
CYRANO:
But do you think that just because I happen to have the gift of eloquence, I should let it kill your chance of happiness?
CHRISTIAN:
Tell her everything!
CYRANO:
You must not tempt me this way!
CHRISTIAN:
I'm tired of being my own rival! I'll put an end to it!
CYRANO:
Christian! Enough!
CHRISTIAN:
Our marriage was made in secret. It can be easily dissolved if we survive.
CYRANO:
My God! You still persist!
CHRISTIAN:
I want to be loved for myself or not at all! I'm going over to the other side of the camp. While I'm gone, you must speak to her. Let her choose between the two of us!
CYRANO:
It will be you.
CHRISTIAN:
I pray that it will! [He calls out.] Roxane!
CYRANO:
No! No!
ROXANE:
[coming up quickly] Yes?
CHRISTIAN:
Cyrano has something important to tell you.

Scene X

ROXANE, CYRANO. Then LE BRET, CARBON DE CASTEL-JALOUX, the CADETS, RAGUENEAU, DE GUICHE, etc.

[She hesitates.]

[A shot is heard outside, but CYRANO keeps talking.]

[He whispers something to him.]

[More shots are heard.]

[She goes up to look outside.]

[Some CADETS enter, trying to hide something they are carrying. They huddle close around it, preventing ROXANE from seeing what it is.]

[She rushes up, pushing everyone aside.]

[ROXANE flings herself down by CHRISTIAN. Sounds of gunfire, clashing of arms, and beating of drums are heard outside.]

[He rushes over the embankment, followed by the CADETS.]

[RAGUENEAU rushes up, bringing water in a helmet.]

[ROXANE tears a piece of her dress and dips it into the water. She then presses it against CHRISTIAN'S wound, trying to stop the bleeding. CYRANO whispers quickly into CHRISTIAN'S ear while she is distracted.]

[CHRISTIAN closes his eyes.]

[She opens it.]

[Musket shots ring out, along with shouts and noises of battle.]

[Trumpets sound in the distance.]

[There is a great tumult, with shouts and screams from all sides. CADETS reappear, wounded and falling. CYRANO, rushing to the battle, is stopped by CARBON DE CASTEL-JALOUX, who is streaming with blood.]

[The FIFER plays. The wounded try to rise. Some CADETS, falling one over the other down the slope, group themselves around CYRANO and the little flag. The carriage is crowded with men inside and outside. Surrounded by muskets, the carriage is protected like a fortress.]

[The CADETS fire.]

[There is a deadly volley of fire from the enemy. The CADETS fall on all sides.]

[His voice is drowned in the battle.]

Curtain.

ROXANE:
What is this urgent news?
CYRANO:
[in despair] He's gone! [to ROXANE] Oh, it's nothing! You know how he sees such importance in the most trivial things!
ROXANE:
[warmly] Did he doubt what I said? Ah, yes, I can tell—he doubted.
CYRANO:
[taking her hand] But did you really speak the truth to him?
ROXANE:
Yes, I would love him even if he were…
CYRANO:
Does it embarrass you to say that word in front of me?
ROXANE:
I…
CYRANO:
[smiling sadly] It won't hurt me! Say it! You'd love him if he were ugly!
ROXANE:
Yes!
CYRANO:
[passionately] Even if he were hideous?
ROXANE:
Hideous! Yes!
CYRANO:
Disfigured?
ROXANE:
Yes!
CYRANO:
Grotesque?
ROXANE:
He could never be grotesque to me!
CYRANO:
You'd love him the same way?
ROXANE:
Yes! No—even more!
CYRANO:
[losing command over himself, speaking in an aside] My God! It's true! Maybe love really is within my reach! [to ROXANE] I…Roxane… listen—
LE BRET:
[entering hurriedly] Cyrano!
CYRANO:
[turning around] What?
LE BRET:
Hush!
CYRANO:
[letting go of ROXANE'S hand and exclaiming] Oh, God!
ROXANE:
What is it?
CYRANO:
[to himself, stunned] It's all over now.
ROXANE:
What's the matter? Listen! Another shot!
CYRANO:
It's too late! Now I can never tell!
ROXANE:
[trying to rush out] What's happened?
CYRANO:
[rushing to stop her] Nothing!
ROXANE:
Those men… [CYRANO tries to draw her away.] You were about to tell me something…
CYRANO:
Tell you something? Oh, it was nothing, I swear! [solemnly] I swear that Christian's soul, his nature, was…[quickly correcting himself] is the noblest and the greatest—
ROXANE:
Was? [with a loud scream] Oh!
CYRANO:
It's all over now!
ROXANE:
[seeing CHRISTIAN lying on the ground, wrapped in his cloak.] Oh, Christian!
LE BRET:
[to CYRANO] Struck by the first shot of the enemy!
CARBON:
[with sword in the air] We're being attacked! Get your muskets!
ROXANE:
Christian!
VOICE OF CARBON:
[from the other side] Quick! Prepare yourselves!
ROXANE:
Christian!
CARBON:
Fall in line!
ROXANE:
Christian!
CARBON:
Ready your matches!
CHRISTIAN:
[in a dying voice] Roxane!
CYRANO:
I told her everything. She still loves you.
ROXANE:
Yes, my love?
CARBON:
Draw your ramrods!
ROXANE:
[to CYRANO] He's not dead, is he?
CARBON:
Open your charges with your teeth!
ROXANE:
His cheek is growing cold against my own!
CARBON:
Ready! Aim!
ROXANE:
[seeing a letter in CHRISTIAN'S jacket] A letter! It's for me!
CYRANO:
[aside] My letter!
CARBON:
Fire!
CYRANO:
[trying to disengage his hand, which ROXANE is holding on her knees] But Roxane, the battle is raging!
ROXANE:
[detaining him] Please stay with me for a while. He's dead. You were the only one who really knew him. [weeping quietly] He was a wondrous and beautiful man, wasn't he?
CYRANO:
[standing up, with his hat off] Yes, Roxane.
ROXANE:
An inspired poet.
CYRANO:
Yes, Roxane.
ROXANE:
With a pure and brilliant mind.
CYRANO:
Yes.
ROXANE:
A heart too deep for shallow minds to comprehend; a spirit both subtle and charming.
CYRANO:
[firmly] Yes, Roxane.
ROXANE:
[flinging herself on the dead body] He is dead!
CYRANO:
[aside, while drawing his sword] Yes, and let me die today as well. For, unknowing, it is I that she mourns, over his body.
DE GUICHE:
[appearing on the embankment, bareheaded, with a wound on his forehead, in a thunderous voice]
That's the signal! The French are bringing provisions into camp! Hold out a little longer!
ROXANE:
There is blood on the letter, and tears!
A VOICE:
[from outside, shouting] Surrender!
VOICE OF CADETS:
No!
RAGUENEAU:
[standing on the top of his carriage, watching the battle over the edge of the embankment] The danger is at its greatest!
CYRANO:
[to DE GUICHE, pointing to ROXANE] I will join the charge! You take her away!
ROXANE:
[kissing the letter, in a faint and choked voice] Oh, God! His tears! His blood!
RAGUENEAU:
[jumping down from the carriage and rushing toward her] She's fainted!
DE GUICHE:
[on the embankment, to the cadets, with fury] Stand fast!
A VOICE:
[outside] Lay down your arms!
CADETS:
No!
CYRANO:
[to DE GUICHE] You've proved your valor, Sir. [pointing to ROXANE] Now, hurry out of here and save her!
DE GUICHE:
[rushing to ROXANE, and carrying her away in his arms] I will do so! If you can hold out, victory will be ours!
CYRANO:
Good. [calling out to ROXANE, whom DE GUICHE and RAGUENEAU are carrying away in a fainting condition] Farewell, Roxane!
CARBON:
We're losing ground! I've been wounded twice!
CYRANO:
[shouting to the CADETS] Gascons! Never turn your backs! [to CARBON, whom he is holding up] Have no fear! I have two deaths to avenge: my friend Christian's and my own happiness! [They come downstage, CYRANO brandishing the lance with ROXANE'S handkerchief attached to it.] Fly proudly, little lace flag embroidered with her name! [He sticks it in the ground and shouts to the CADETS.] Fall on them, Gascons! Crush them! [to the FIFER] Play, fifer!
A CADET:
[appearing on the crest, beaten backward, but still fighting] They're climbing up the embankment!
CYRANO:
Let us salute them! [The embankment is instantly covered by a formidable row of enemies. Imperialist flags are raised.] Fire!
A CRY FROM THE ENEMY'S RANKS:
Fire!
A SPANISH OFFICER:
[taking off his hat] Who are these men who are not afraid of death?
CYRANO:
[reciting, erect, amid a storm of bullets] The bold cadets of Gascony, of Carbon de Castel-Jaloux! Brawling and swaggering boastfully— [he rushes forward, followed by a few survivors] The bold cadets…