A Play in 5 Acts
by Edmond Rostand
Cyrano de Bergerac: Characters | Act I | Act II | Act III | Act IV | Act V
Translated from the French by Gladys Thomas and Mary F. Guillemard
The Cadets of Gascony.
Post occupied by company of Carbon de Castel-Jaloux at the siege of Arras.
In the background an embankment across the whole stage. Beyond, view of plain
extending to the horizon. The country covered with intrenchments. The walls
of Arras and the outlines of its roofs against the sky in the distance.
Tents. Arms strewn about, drums, etc. Day is breaking with a faint glimmer
of yellow sunrise in the east. Sentinels at different points. Watch-fires.
The cadets of Gascony, wrapped in their mantles, are sleeping. Carbon de
Castel-Jaloux and Le Bret are keeping watch. They are very pale and thin.
Christian sleeps among the others in his cloak in the foreground, his face
illuminated by the fire. Silence.
Christian, Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, Le Bret, the cadets, then Cyrano.
Not a morsel left.
CARBON (making a sign that he should speak lower):
Curse under your breath. You will awake them.
(To the cadets):
Hush! Sleep on.
(To Le Bret):
He who sleeps, dines!
But that is sorry comfort for the sleepless!. . .
(Firing is heard in the distance.)
Oh, plague take their firing! 'Twill wake my sons.
(To the cadets, who lift up their heads):
(Firing is again heard, nearer this time.)
A CADET (moving):
The devil!. . .Again.
'Tis nothing! 'Tis Cyrano coming back!
(Those who have lifted up their heads prepare to sleep again.)
A SENTINEL (from without):
Ventrebieu! Who goes there?
THE VOICE Of CYRANO:
The SENTINEL (who is on the redoubt):
Ventrebieu! Who goes there?
CYRANO (appearing at the top):
(He comes down; Le Bret advances anxiously to meet him.)
CYRANO (making signs that he should not awake the others):
Oh! you know it has become their custom to shoot at me every morning and to
This passes all! To take letters at each day's dawn. To risk. . .
CYRANO (stopping before Christian):
I promised he should write often.
(He looks at him):
He sleeps. How pale he is! But how handsome still, despite his sufferings.
If his poor little lady-love knew that he is dying of hunger. . .
Get you quick to bed.
Nay, never scold, Le Bret. I ran but little risk. I have found me a spot
to pass the Spanish lines, where each night they lie drunk.
You should try to bring us back provision.
A man must carry no weight who would get by there! But there will be
surprise for us this night. The French will eat or die. . .if I mistake not!
Oh!. . .tell me!. . .
Nay, not yet. I am not certain. . .You will see!
It is disgraceful that we should starve while we're besieging!
Alas, how full of complication is this siege of Arras! To think that while
we are besieging, we should ourselves be caught in a trap and besieged by the
Cardinal Infante of Spain.
It were well done if he should be besieged in his turn.
I am in earnest.
To think you risk a life so precious. . .for the sake of a letter. .
(Seeing him turning to enter the tent):
Where are you going?
I am going to write another.
(He enters the tent and disappears.)
The same, all but Cyrano. The day is breaking in a rosy light. The town of
Arras is golden in the horizon. The report of cannon is heard in the
distance, followed immediately by the beating of drums far away to the left.
Other drums are heard much nearer. Sounds of stirring in the camp. Voices of
officers in the distance.
(The cadets move and stretch themselves):
Nourishing sleep! Thou art at an end!. . .I know well what will be their
A CADET (sitting up):
I am so hungry!
I am dying of hunger.
Up with you!
--Cannot move a limb.
Nor can I.
THE FIRST (looking at himself in a bit of armor):
My tongue is yellow. The air at this season of the year is hard to digest.
My coronet for a bit of Chester!
If none can furnish to my gaster wherewith to make a pint of chyle, I shall
retire to my tent--like Achilles!
Oh! something! were it but a crust!
CARBON (going to the tent and calling softly):
ALL THE CADETS:
We are dying!
CARBON (continuing to speak under his breath at the opening of the tent):
Come to my aid, you, who have the art of quick retort and gay jest. Come,
hearten them up.
SECOND CADET (rushing toward another who is munching something):
What are you crunching there?
Cannon-wads soaked in axle-grease! 'Tis poor hunting round about Arras!
A CADET (entering):
I have been after game.
ANOTHER (following him):
And I after fish.
ALL (rushing to the two newcomers):
Well! what have you brought?--a pheasant?--a carp?--Come, show us quick!
ALL TOGETHER (beside themselves):
'Tis more than can be borne! We will mutiny!
Cyrano! Come to my help .
(The daylight has now come.)
The SAME. Cyrano.
CYRANO (appearing from the tent, very calm, with a pen stuck behind his ear
and a book in his hand):
What is wrong?
(Silence. To the first cadet):
Why drag you your legs so sorrowfully?
I have something in my heels which weighs them down.
And what may that be?
So have I, 'faith!
It must be in your way?
Nay, I am all the taller.
My stomach's hollow.
'Faith, 'twill make a fine drum to sound the assault.
I have a ringing in my ears.
No, no, 'tis false; a hungry stomach has no ears.
Oh, to eat something--something oily!
CYRANO (pulling off the cadet's helmet and holding it out to him):
Behold your salad!
What, in God's name, can we devour?
CYRANO (throwing him the book which he is carrying):
The first minister in Paris has his four meals a day!
'Twere courteous an he sent you a few partridges!
And why not? with wine, too!
A little Burgundy. Richelieu, s'il vous plait!
He could send it by one of his friars.
Ay! by His Eminence Joseph himself.
I am as ravenous as an ogre!
Eat your patience, then.
THE FIRST CADET (shrugging his shoulders):
Always your pointed word!
Ay, pointed words!
I would fain die thus, some soft summer eve,
Making a pointed word for a good cause.
--To make a soldier's end by soldier's sword,
Wielded by some brave adversary--die
On blood-stained turf, not on a fever-bed,
A point upon my lips, a point within my heart.
CRIES FROM ALL:
CYRANO (crossing his arms):
All your thoughts of meat and drink!
Bertrand the fifer!--you were shepherd once,--
Draw from its double leathern case your fife,
Play to these greedy, guzzling soldiers. Play
Old country airs with plaintive rhythm recurring,
Where lurk sweet echoes of the dear home-voices,
Each note of which calls like a little sister,
Those airs slow, slow ascending, as the smoke-wreaths
Rise from the hearthstones of our native hamlets,
Their music strikes the ear like Gascon patois!. . .
(The old man seats himself, and gets his flute ready):
Your flute was now a warrior in durance;
But on its stem your fingers are a-dancing
A bird-like minuet! O flute! Remember
That flutes were made of reeds first, not laburnum;
Make us a music pastoral days recalling--
The soul-time of your youth, in country pastures!. . .
(The old man begins to play the airs of Languedoc):
Hark to the music, Gascons!. . .'Tis no longer
The piercing fife of camp--but 'neath his fingers
The flute of the woods! No more the call to combat,
'Tis now the love-song of the wandering goat-herds!. . .
Hark!. . .'tis the valley, the wet landes, the forest,
The sunburnt shepherd-boy with scarlet beret,
The dusk of evening on the Dordogne river,--
'Tis Gascony! Hark, Gascons, to the music!
(The cadets sit with bowed heads; their eyes have a far-off look as if
dreaming, and they surreptitiously wipe away their tears with their cuffs and
the corner of their cloaks.)
CARBON (to Cyrano in a whisper):
But you make them weep!
Ay, for homesickness. A nobler pain than hunger,--'tis of the soul, not of
the body! I am well pleased to see their pain change its viscera. Heart-ache
is better than stomach-ache.
But you weaken their courage by playing thus on their heart-strings!
CYRANO (making a sign to a drummer to approach):
Not I. The hero that sleeps in Gascon blood is ever ready to awake in them.
'Twould suffice. . .
(He makes a signal; the drum beats.)
ALL THE CADETS (stand up and rush to take arms):
What? What is it?
You see! One roll of the drum is enough! Good-by dreams, regrets, native
land, love. . .All that the pipe called forth the drum has chased away!
A CADET (looking toward the back of the stage):
Ho! here comes Monsieur de Guiche.
ALL THE CADETS (muttering):
Ugh!. . .Ugh!. . .
A flattering welcome!
We are sick to death of him!
--With his lace collar over his armor, playing the fine gentleman!
As if one wore linen over steel!
It were good for a bandage had he boils on his neck.
Another plotting courtier!
His uncle's own nephew!
For all that--a Gascon.
Ay, false Gascon!. . .trust him not. . .
Gascons should ever be crack-brained. . .
Naught more dangerous than a rational Gascon.
How pale he is!
Oh! he is hungry, just like us poor devils; but under his cuirass, with its
fine gilt nails, his stomach-ache glitters brave in the sun.
Let us not seem to suffer either! Out with your cards, pipes, and dice. . .
(All begin spreading out the games on the drums, the stools, the ground, and
on their cloaks, and light long pipes):
And I shall read Descartes.
(He walks up and down, reading a little book which he has drawn from his
pocket. Tableau. Enter De Guiche. All appear absorbed and happy. He is
very pale. He goes up to Carbon.)
The same. De Guiche.
DE GUICHE (to Carbon):
(They examine each other. Aside, with satisfaction):
He has nothing left but eyes.
DE GUICHE (looking at the cadets):
Here are the rebels! Ay, Sirs, on all sides
I hear that in your ranks you scoff at me;
That the Cadets, these loutish, mountain-bred,
Poor country squires, and barons of Perigord,
Scarce find for me--their Colonel--a disdain
Sufficient! call me plotter, wily courtier!
It does not please their mightiness to see
A point-lace collar on my steel cuirass,--
And they enrage, because a man, in sooth,
May be no ragged-robin, yet a Gascon!
(Silence. All smoke and play):
Shall I command your Captain punish you?
I am free, moreover,--will not punish--
I have paid my company--'tis mine.
I bow but to headquarters.
That will suffice.
(Addressing himself to the cadets):
I can despise your taunts
'Tis well known how I bear me in the war;
At Bapaume, yesterday, they saw the rage
With which I beat back the Count of Bucquoi;
Assembling my own men, I fell on his,
And charged three separate times!
CYRANO (without lifting his eyes from his book):
And your white scarf?
DE GUICHE (surprised and gratified):
You know that detail?. . .Troth! It happened thus:
While caracoling to recall the troops
For the third charge, a band of fugitives
Bore me with them, close by the hostile ranks:
I was in peril--capture, sudden death!--
When I thought of the good expedient
To loosen and let fall the scarf which told
My military rank; thus I contrived
--Without attention waked--to leave the foes,
And suddenly returning, reinforced
With my own men, to scatter them! And now,
--What say you, Sir?
(The cadets pretend not to be listening, but the cards and the dice-boxes
remain suspended in their hands, the smoke of their pipes in their cheeks.
I say, that Henri Quatre
Had not, by any dangerous odds, been forced
To strip himself of his white helmet plume.
(Silent delight. The cards fall, the dice rattle. The smoke is puffed.)
The ruse succeeded, though!
(Same suspension of play, etc.)
Oh, may be! But
One does not lightly abdicate the honor
To serve as target to the enemy
(Cards, dice, fall again, and the cadets smoke with evident delight):
Had I been present when your scarf fell low,
--Our courage, Sir, is of a different sort--
I would have picked it up and put it on.
Oh, ay! Another Gascon boast!
Lend it to me. I pledge myself, to-night,
--With it across my breast,--to lead th' assault.
Another Gascon vaunt! You know the scarf
Lies with the enemy, upon the brink
Of the stream,. . .the place is riddled now with shot,--
No one can fetch it hither!
CYRANO (drawing the scarf from his pocket, and holding it out to him):
Here it is.
(Silence. The cadets stifle their laughter in their cards and dice-boxes. De
Guiche turns and looks at them; they instantly become grave, and set to play.
One of them whistles indifferently the air just played by the fifer.)
DE GUICHE (taking the scarf):
I thank you. It will now enable me
To make a signal,--that I had forborne
To make--till now.
(He goes to the rampart, climbs it, and waves the scarf thrice.)
THE SENTINEL (from the top of the rampart):
See you yon man
Down there, who runs?. . .
DE GUICHE (descending):
'Tis a false Spanish spy
Who is extremely useful to my ends.
The news he carries to the enemy
Are those I prompt him with--so, in a word,
We have an influence on their decisions!
DE GUICHE (carelessly knotting on his scarf):
'Tis opportune. What were we saying?
Ah! I have news for you. Last evening
--To victual us--the Marshal did attempt
A final effort:--secretly he went
To Dourlens, where the King's provisions be.
But--to return to camp more easily--
He took with him a goodly force of troops.
Those who attacked us now would have fine sport!
Half of the army's absent from the camp!
Ay, if the Spaniards knew, 'twere ill for us,
But they know nothing of it?
Oh! they know.
They will attack us.
For my false spy
Came to warn me of their attack. He said,
'I can decide the point for their assault;
Where would you have it? I will tell them 'tis
The least defended--they'll attempt you there.'
I answered, 'Good. Go out of camp, but watch
My signal. Choose the point from whence it comes.'
CARBON (to cadets):
(All rise; sounds of swords and belts being buckled.)
'Twill be in an hour.
Good!. . .
(They all sit down again and take up their games.)
DE GUICHE (to Carbon):
Time must be gained. The Marshal will return.
How gain it?
You will all be good enough
To let yourselves to be killed.
I do not say that, if I loved you well,
I had chosen you and yours,--but, as things stand,--
Your courage yielding to no corps the palm--
I serve my King, and serve my grudge as well.
Permit that I express my gratitude. . .
I know you love to fight against five score;
You will not now complain of paltry odds.
(He goes up with Carbon.)
CYRANO (to the cadets):
We shall add to the Gascon coat of arms,
With its six bars of blue and gold, one more--
The blood-red bar that was a-missing there!
(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
CYRANO (putting his hand on Christian's shoulder):
CHRISTIAN (shaking his head):
At least, I'd send
My heart's farewell to her in a fair letter!. . .
I had suspicion it would be to-day,
(He draws a letter out of his doublet):
And had already writ. . .
Will you. . .?
CHRISTIAN (taking the letter):
(He opens and reads it):
This little spot!
CYRANO (taking the letter, with an innocent look):
Poets, at last,--by dint of counterfeiting--
Take counterfeit for true--that is the charm!
This farewell letter,--it was passing sad,
I wept myself in writing it!
Oh!. . .death itself is hardly terrible,. . .
--But, ne'er to see her more! That is death's sting!
--For. . .I shall never. . .
(Christian looks at him):
We shall. . .
I mean, you. . .
CHRISTIAN (snatching the letter from him):
Give me that letter!
(A rumor, far off in the camp.)
VOICE Of SENTINEL:
Who goes there? Halloo!
What is it?
A SENTINEL (on the rampart):
'Tis a carriage!
(All rush to see.)
In the camp?
It enters!--It comes from the enemy!
--Fire!--No!--The coachman cries!--What does he say?
--'On the King's service!'
(Everyone is on the rampart, staring. The bells come nearer.)
The King's service? How?
(All descend and draw up in line.)
The King's! Draw up in line!
Let him describe his curve as it befits!
(The carriage enters at full speed covered with dust and mud. The curtains
are drawn close. Two lackeys behind. It is pulled up suddenly.)
Beat a salute!
(A roll of drums. The cadets uncover.)
Lower the carriage-steps!
(Two cadets rush forward. The door opens.)
ROXANE (jumping down from the carriage):
(All are bowing to the ground, but at the sound of a woman's voice every head
is instantly raised.)
The same. Roxane.
On the King's service! You?
Ay,--King Love's! What other king?
CHRISTIAN (rushing forward):
Why have you come?
This siege--'tis too long!
But why?. . .
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! dare I look at her?
You cannot remain here!
But I say yes! Who will push a drum hither for me?
(She seats herself on the drum they roll forward):
So! I thank you.
My carriage was fired at
by the patrol! Look! would you not think 'twas made of a pumpkin, like
Cinderella's chariot in the tale,--and the footmen out of rats?
(Sending a kiss with her lips to Christian):
(Examining them all):
You look not merry, any of you! Ah! know you that 'tis a long road to get
CYRANO (coming up to her):
But how, in Heaven's name?. . .
How found I the way to the army? It was simple enough, for I had but to
pass on and on, as far as I saw the country laid waste. Ah, what horrors were
there! Had I not seen, then I could never have believed it! Well, gentlemen,
if such be the service of your King, I would fainer serve mine!
But 'tis sheer madness! Where in the fiend's name did you get through?
Where? Through the Spanish lines.
--For subtle craft, give me a woman!
But how did you pass through their lines?
Faith! that must have been a hard matter!. . .
None too hard. I but drove quietly forward in my carriage, and when some
hidalgo of haughty mien would have stayed me, lo! I showed at the window my
sweetest smile, and these Senors being (with no disrespect to you) the most
gallant gentlemen in the world,--I passed on!
True, that smile is a passport! But you must have been asked frequently to
give an account of where you were going, Madame?
Yes, frequently. Then I would answer, 'I go to see my lover.' At that word
the very fiercest Spaniard of them all would gravely shut the carriage-door,
and, with a gesture that a king might envy, make signal to his men to lower
the muskets leveled at me;--then, with melancholy but withal very graceful
dignity--his beaver held to the wind that the plumes might flutter bravely, he
would bow low, saying to me, 'Pass on, Senorita!'
But, Roxane. . .
Forgive me that I said, 'my lover!' But bethink you, had I said 'my
husband,' not one of them had let me pass!
But. . .
What ails you?
You must leave this place!
And that instantly!
No time to lose.
Indeed, you must.
But wherefore must I?
'Tis that. . .
CYRANO (the same):
--In three quarters of an hour. . .
DE GUICHE (the same):
--Or for. . .
CARBON (the same):
It were best. . .
LE BRET (the same):
You might. . .
You are going to fight?--I stay here.
He is my husband!
(She throws herself into Christian's arms):
They shall kill us both together!
Why do you look at me thus?
I will tell you why!
DE GUICHE (in despair):
'Tis a post of mortal danger!
ROXANE (turning round):
Proof enough, that he has put us here!
ROXANE (to De Guiche):
So, Sir, you would have made a widow of me?
Nay, on my oath. . .
I will not go! I am reckless now, and I shall not stir from here!--Besides,
Oh-ho! So our precieuse is a heroine!
Monsieur de Bergerac, I am your cousin.
We will defend you well!
ROXANE (more and more excited):
I have no fear of that, my friends!
ANOTHER (in ecstasy):
The whole camp smells sweet of orris-root!
And, by good luck, I have chosen a hat that will suit well with the
(Looking at De Guiche):
But were it not wisest that the Count retire?
They may begin the attack.
That is not to be brooked! I go to inspect the cannon, and shall return.
You have still time--think better of it!
(De Guiche goes out.)
The same, all but De Guiche.
FIRST CADET (to the others):
ALL (hurrying, hustling each other, tidying themselves):
A comb!--Soap!--My uniform is torn!--A needle!--A ribbon!--Lend your
mirror!--My cuffs!--Your curling-iron!--A razor!. . .
ROXANE (to Cyrano, who still pleads with her):
No! Naught shall make me stir 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
It is perchance more seemly, since things are thus, that I present to you
some of these gentlemen who are about to have the honor of dying before your
(Roxane bows, and stands leaning on Christian's arm, while Carbon introduces
the cadets to her):
Baron de Peyrescous de Colignac!
THE CADET (with a low reverence):
Madame. . .
Baron de Casterac de Cahuzac,--Vidame de Malgouyre Estressac Lesbas
d'Escarabiot, Chevalier d'Antignac-Juzet, Baron Hillot de Blagnac-Salechan de
Castel Crabioules. . .
But how many names have you each?
CARBON (to Roxane):
Pray, upon the hand that holds your kerchief.
ROXANE (opens her hand, and the handkerchief falls):
(The whole company start forward to pick it up.)
CARBON (quickly raising it):
My company had no flag. But now, by my faith, they will have the fairest in
all the camp!
'Tis somewhat small.
CARBON (tying the handkerchief on the staff of his lance):
But--'tis of lace!
A CADET (to the rest):
I could die happy, having seen so sweet a face, if I had something in my
stomach--were it but a nut!
CARBON (who has overheard, indignantly):
Shame on you! What, talk of eating when a lovely woman!. . .
But your camp air is keen; I myself am famished. Pasties, cold fricassee,
old wines--there is my bill of fare? Pray bring it all here.
But where on earth find it?
In my carriage.
Now serve up--carve! Look a little closer at my coachman, gentlemen, and
you will recognize a man most welcome. All the sauces can be sent to table
hot, if we will!
THE CADETS (rushing pellmell to the carriage):
ROXANE (looking after them):
CYRANO (kissing her hand):
RAGUENEAU (standing on the box like a quack doctor at a fair):
Gentlemen!. . .
. . .The Spaniards, gazing on a lady so dainty fair, overlooked the fare so
dainty!. . .
CYRANO (in a whisper to Christian):
. . .And, occupied with gallantry, perceived not--
(His draws a plate from under the seat, and holds it up):
--The galantine!. . .
(Applause. The galantine passes from hand to hand.)
CYRANO (still whispering to Christian):
Prythee, one word!
And Venus so attracted their eyes that Diana could secretly pass by with--
(He holds up a shoulder of mutton):
(Enthusiasm. Twenty hands are held out to seize the shoulder of mutton.)
CYRANO (in a low whisper to Christian):
I must speak to you!
ROXANE (to the cadets, who come down, their arms laden with food):
Put it all on the ground!
(She lays all out on the grass, aided by the two imperturbable lackeys who
were behind the carriage.)
ROXANE (to Christian, just as Cyrano is drawing him apart):
Come, make yourself of use!
(Christian comes to help her. Cyrano's uneasiness increases.)
FIRST CADET (radiant, coming down, cutting a big slice of ham):
By the mass! We shall not brave the last hazard without having had a
(quickly correcting himself on seeing Roxane):
--Pardon! A Balthazar feast!
RAGUENEAU (throwing down the carriage cushions):
The cushions are stuffed with ortolans!
(Hubbub. They tear open and turn out the contents of the cushions. Bursts of
RAGUENEAU (throwing down to the cadets bottles of red wine):
Flasks of rubies!--
(and white wine):
--Flasks of topaz!
ROXANE (throwing a folded tablecloth at Cyrano's head):
Unfold me that napkin!--Come, come! be nimble!
RAGUENEAU (waving a lantern):
Each of the carriage-lamps is a little larder!
CYRANO (in a low voice to Christian, as they arrange the cloth together):
I must speak with you ere you speak to her.
My whip-handle is an Arles sausage!
ROXANE (pouring out wine, help ing):
Since we are to die, let the rest of the army shift for itself. All for the
Gascons! And mark! if De Guiche comes, let no one invite him!
(Going from one to the other):
There! there! You have time enough! Do not eat too fast!--Drink a little.-
-Why are you crying?
It is all so good!. . .
Tut!--Red or white?--Some bread for Monsieur de Carbon!--a knife! Pass your
plate!--a little of the crust? Some more? Let me help you!--Some champagne?-
CYRANO (who follows her, his arms laden with dishes, help ing her to wait on
How I worship her!
ROXANE (going up to Christian):
What will you?
Nay, nay, take this biscuit, steeped in muscat; come!. . .but two drops!
CHRISTIAN (trying to detain her):
Oh! tell me why you came?
Wait; my first duty is to these poor fellows.--Hush! In a few minutes. . .
LE BRET (who had gone up to pass a loaf on the end of a lance to the sentry on
Quick! hide flasks, plates, pie-dishes, game-baskets! Hurry!--Let us all
Up on your seat!--Is everything covered up?
(In an instant all has been pushed into the tents, or hidden under doublets,
cloaks, and beavers. De Guiche enters hurriedly--stops suddenly, sniffing the
The same. De Guiche.
It smells good here.
A CADET (humming):
DE GUICHE (looking at him):
What is the matter?--You are very red.
The matter?--Nothing!--'Tis my blood--boiling at the thought of the coming
Poum, poum--poum. . .
DE GUICHE (turning round):
THE CADET (slightly drunk):
Nothing!. . .'Tis a song!--a little. . .
You are merry, my friend!
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):
Plague take me! but you look bravely, too!
CARBON (crimson in the face, hiding a bottle behind his back, with an evasive
Oh!. . .
I have one cannon left, and have had it carried there--
(he points behind the scenes):
--in that corner. . .Your men can use it in case of need.
A CADET (reeling slightly):
ANOTHER (with a gracious smile):
How? they are all gone crazy?
As you are not used to cannon, beware of the recoil.
DE GUICHE (furious, going up to him):
But. . .
Gascon cannons never recoil!
DE GUICHE (taking him by the arm and shaking him):
You are tipsy!--but what with?
THE CADET (grandiloquently):
--With the smell of powder!
DE GUICHE (shrugging his shoulders and pushing him away, then going quickly to
Briefly, Madame, what decision do you deign to take?
I stay here.
You must fly!
No! I will stay.
Since things are thus, give me a musket, one of you!
Because I too--mean to remain.
At last! This is true valor, Sir!
Then you are Gascon after all, spite of your lace collar?
What is all this?
I leave no woman in peril.
SECOND CADET (to the first):
Hark you! Think you not we might give him something to eat?
(All the viands reappear as if by magic.)
DE GUICHE (whose eyes sparkle):
THE THIRD CADET:
Yes, you'll see them coming from under every coat!
DE GUICHE (controlling himself, haughtily):
Do you think I will eat your leavings?
CYRANO (saluting him):
You make progress.
DE GUICHE (proudly, with a light touch of accent on the word 'breaking'):
I will fight without br-r-eaking my fast!
FIRST CADET (with wild delight):
Br-r-r-eaking! He has got the accent!
DE GUICHE (laughing):
'Tis a Gascon!
(All begin to dance.)
CARBON DE CASTEL-JALOUX (who had disappeared behind the rampart, reappearing
on the ridge):
I have drawn my pikemen up in line. They are a resolute troop.
(He points to a row of pikes, the tops of which are seen over the ridge.)
DE GUICHE (bowing to Roxane):
Will you accept my hand, and accompany me while I review them?
(She takes it, and they go up toward the rampart. All uncover and follow
CHRISTIAN (going to Cyrano, eagerly):
Tell me quickly!
(As Roxane appears on the ridge, the tops of the lances disappear, lowered for
the salute, and a shout is raised. She bows.)
THE PIKEMEN (outside):
What is this secret?
If Roxane should. . .
Should?. . .
Speak of the letters?. . .
Yes, I know!. . .
Do not spoil all by seeming surprised. . .
I must explain to you!. . .Oh! 'tis no great matter--I but thought of it to-
day on seeing her. You have. . .
You have. . .written to her oftener than you think. . .
Thus, 'faith! I had taken it in hand to express your flame for you!. . .At
times I wrote without saying, 'I am writing!'
Ah!. . .
'Tis simple enough!
But how did you contrive, since we have been cut off, thus. . .to?. . .
. . .Oh! before dawn. . .I was able to get through. . .
CHRISTIAN (folding his arms):
That was simple, too? And how oft, pray you, have I written?. . .Twice in
the week?. . .Three times?. . .Four?. . .
More often still.
What! Every day?
Yes, every day,--twice.
And that became so mad a joy for you, that you braved death. . .
CYRANO (seeing Roxane returning):
Hush! Not before her!
(He goes hurriedly into his tent.)
Roxane, Christian. In the distance cadets coming and going. Carbon and De
Guiche give orders.
ROXANE (running up to Christian):
Ah, Christian, at last!. . .
CHRISTIAN (taking her hands):
Now tell me why--
Why, by these fearful paths so perilous--
Across these ranks of ribald soldiery,
You have come?
Love, your letters brought me here!
What say you?
'Tis your fault if I ran risks!
Your letters turned my head! Ah! all this month,
How many!--and the last one ever bettered
The one that went before!
What!--for a few
Hold your peace!
Ah! you cannot conceive it! Ever since
That night, when, in a voice all new to me,
Under my window you revealed your soul--
Ah! ever since I have adored you! Now
Your letters all this whole month long!--meseemed
As if I heard that voice so tender, true,
Sheltering, close! Thy fault, I say! It drew me,
The voice o' th' night! Oh! wise Penelope
Would ne'er have stayed to broider on her hearthstone,
If her Ulysses could have writ such letters!
But would have cast away her silken bobbins,
And fled to join him, mad for love as Helen!
But. . .
I read, read again--grew faint for love;
I was thine utterly. Each separate page
Was like a fluttering flower-petal, loosed
From your own soul, and wafted thus to mine.
Imprinted in each burning word was love
Sincere, all-powerful. . .
A love sincere!
Can that be felt, Roxane!
Ay, that it can!
You come. . .?
O, Christian, my true lord, I come--
(Were I to throw myself, here, at your knees,
You would raise me--but 'tis my soul I lay
At your feet--you can raise it nevermore!)
--I come to crave your pardon. (Ay, 'tis time
To sue for pardon, now that death may come!)
For the insult done to you when, frivolous,
At first I loved you only for your face!
And later, love--less frivolous--
Like a bird that spreads its wings, but can not fly--
Arrested by your beauty, by your soul
Drawn close--I loved for both at once!
Ah! you yourself have triumphed o'er yourself,
And now, I love you only for your soul!
CHRISTIAN (stepping backward):
Be happy. To be loved for beauty--
A poor disguise that time so soon wears threadbare--
Must be to noble souls--to souls aspiring--
A torture. Your dear thoughts have now effaced
That beauty that so won me at the outset.
Now I see clearer--and I no more see it!
Oh!. . .
You are doubtful of such victory?
I see you cannot yet believe it.
Such love. . .?
I do not ask such love as that!
I would be loved more simply; for. . .
Which they have all in turns loved in thee?--
Oh! be loved henceforth in a better way!
No! the first love was best!
Ah! how you err!
'Tis now that I love best--love well! 'Tis that
Which is thy true self, see!--that I adore!
Were your brilliance dimmed. . .
I should love still!
Ay, if your beauty should to-day depart. . .
Say not so!
Ay, I say it!
Ugly! I swear I'd love you still!
Are you content at last?
CHRISTIAN (in a choked voice):
Ay!. . .
What is wrong?
CHRISTIAN (gently pushing her away):
Nothing. . .I have two words to say:--one second. . .
But?. . .
CHRISTIAN (pointing to the cadets):
Those poor fellows, shortly doomed to death,--
My love deprives them of the sight of you:
Go,--speak to them--smile on them ere they die!
ROXANE (deeply affected):
Dear Christian!. . .
(She goes up to the cadets, who respectfully crowd round her.)
Christian, Cyrano. At back Roxane talking to Carbon and some cadets.
CHRISTIAN (calling toward Cyrano's tent):
CYRANO (reappearing, fully armed):
What? Why so pale?
She does not love me!
'Tis you she loves!
--For she loves me only for my soul!
Yes! Thus--you see, that soul is you,. . .
Therefore, 'tis you she loves!--And you--love her!
Oh, I know it!
Ay, 'tis true!
Ay! and worse!
Then tell her so!
And why not?
Look at my face!--be answered!
She'd love me--were I ugly.
Said she so?
Ay! in those words!
I'm glad she told you that!
But pooh!--believe it not! I am well pleased
She thought to tell you. Take it not for truth.
Never grow ugly:--she'd reproach me then!
That I intend discovering!
No! I beg!
Ay! she shall choose between us!--Tell her all!
No! no! I will not have it! Spare me this!
Because my face is haply fair, shall I
Destroy your happiness? 'Twere too unjust!
And I,--because by Nature's freak I have
The gift to say--all that perchance you feel.
Shall I be fatal to your happiness?
It is ill done to tempt me thus!
Too long I've borne about within myself
A rival to myself--I'll make an end!
Or union, without witness--secret--
Clandestine--can be easily dissolved
If we survive.
My God!--he still persists!
I will be loved myself--or not at all!
--I'll go see what they do--there, at the end
Of the post: speak to her, and then let her choose
One of us two!
It will be you.
ROXANE (coming up quickly):
Cyrano has things
Important for your ear. . .
(She hastens to Cyrano. Christian goes out.)
Roxane, Cyrano. Then Le Bret, Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, the cadets, Ragueneau,
De Guiche, etc.
CYRANO (in despair. to Roxane):
He's gone! 'Tis naught!--Oh, you know how he sees
Importance in a trifle!
Did he doubt
Of what I said?--Ah, yes, I saw he doubted!
CYRANO (taking her hand):
But are you sure you told him all the truth?
Yes, I would love him were he. . .
Does that word
Embarrass you before my face, Roxane?
I. . .
CYRANO (smiling sadly):
'Twill not hurt me! Say it! If he were
Ugly!. . .
(Musket report outside):
Hark! I hear a shot!
He could not be grotesque to me!
You'd love the same?. . .
The same--nay, even more!
CYRANO (losing command over himself--aside):
My God! it's true, perchance, love waits me there!
I. . .Roxane. . .listen. . .
LE BRET (entering hurriedly--to Cyrano):
CYRANO (turning round):
(He whispers something to him.)
CYRANO (letting go Roxane's hand and exclaiming):
What is it?
CYRANO (to himself--stunned):
All is over now.
What is the matter? Hark! another shot!
(She goes up to look outside.)
It is too late, now I can never tell!
ROXANE (trying to rush out):
What has chanced?
CYRANO (rushing to stop her):
(Some cadets enter, trying to hide something they are carrying, and close
round it to prevent Roxane approaching.)
And those men?
(Cyrano draws her away):
What were you just about to say before. . .?
What was I saying? Nothing now, I swear!
I swear that Christian's soul, his nature, were. . .
(Hastily correcting himself):
Nay, that they are, the noblest, greatest. . .
(With a loud scream):
(She rushes up, pushing every one aside.)
All is over now!
ROXANE (seeing Christian lying on the ground, wrapped in his cloak):
LE BRET (to Cyrano):
Struck by first shot of the enemy!
(Roxane flings herself down by Christian. Fresh reports of cannon--clash of
arms--clamor--beating of drums.)
CARBON (with sword in the air):
O come! Your muskets.
(Followed by the cadets, he passes to the other side of the ramparts.)
THE VOICE OF CARBON (from the other side):
Ho! make haste!
HANDLE YOUR MATCH!
(Ragueneau rushes up, bringing water in a helmet.)
CHRISTIAN (in a dying voice):
CYRANO (quickly, whispering into Christian's ear, while Roxane distractedly
tears a piece of linen from his breast, which she dips into the water, trying
to stanch the bleeding):
I told her all. She loves you still.
(Christian closes his eyes.)
How, my sweet love?
ROXANE (to Cyrano):
He is not dead?
OPEN YOUR CHARGES WITH YOUR TEETH!
Grows cold against my own!
ROXANE (seeing a letter in Christian's doublet):
A letter!. . .
'Tis for me!
(She opens it.)
(Musket reports--shouts--noise of battle.)
CYRANO (trying to disengage his hand, which Roxane on her knees is holding):
But, Roxane, hark, they fight!
ROXANE (detaining him):
Stay yet awhile.
For he is dead. You knew him, you alone.
Ah, was not his a beauteous soul, a soul
CYRANO (standing up--bareheaded):
An inspired poet?
And a mind sublime?
A heart too deep for common minds to plumb,
A spirit subtle, charming?
ROXANE (flinging herself on the dead body):
Dead, my love!
CYRANO (aside--drawing his sword):
Ay, and let me die to-day,
Since, all unconscious, she mourns me--in him!
(Sounds of trumpets in the distance.)
DE GUICHE (appearing on the ramparts--bareheaded--with a wound on his
forehead--in a voice of thunder):
It is the signal! Trumpet flourishes!
The French bring the provisions into camp!
Hold but the place awhile!
See, there is blood
Upon the letter--tears!
A VOICE (outside--shouting):
VOICE OF CADETS:
RAGUENEAU (standing on the top of his carriage, watches the battle over the
edge of the ramparts):
The danger's ever greater!
CYRANO (to De Guiche--pointing to Roxane):
I will charge!
Take her away!
ROXANE (kissing the letter--in a half-extinguished voice):
O God! his tears! his blood!. . .
RAGUENEAU (jumping down from the carriage and rushing toward her):
She's swooned away!
DE GUICHE (on the rampart--to the cadets--with fury):
A VOICE (outside):
Lay down your arms!
CYRANO (to De Guiche):
Now that you have proved your valor, Sir,
(Pointing to Roxane):
Fly, and save her!
DE GUICHE (rushing to Roxane, and carrying her away in his arms):
So be it! Gain but time,
The victory's ours!
(Calling out to Roxane, whom De Guiche, aided by Ragueneau, is bearing away in
a fainting condition):
(Tumult. Shouts. Cadets reappear, wounded, falling on the scene. Cyrano,
rushing to the battle, is stopped by Carbon de Castel-Jaloux, who is streaming
We are breaking! I am wounded--wounded twice!
CYRANO (shouting to the Gascons):
GASCONS! HO, GASCONS! NEVER TURN YOUR BACKS!
(To Carbon, whom he is supporting):
Have no fear! I have two deaths to avenge:
My friend who's slain;--and my dead happiness!
(They come down, Cyrano brandishing the lance to which is attached Roxane's
Float there! laced kerchief broidered with her name!
(He sticks it in the ground and shouts to the cadets):
FALL ON THEM, GASCONS! CRUSH THEM!
(To the fifer):
(The fife plays. The wounded try to rise. Some cadets, falling one over the
other down the slope, group themselves round Cyrano and the little flag. The
carriage is crowded with men inside and outside, and, bristling with
arquebuses, is turned into a fortress.)
A CADET (appearing on the crest, beaten backward, but still fighting, cries):
They're climbing the redoubt!
(and falls dead.)
Let us salute them!
(The rampart is covered instantly by a formidable row of enemies. The
standards of the Imperialists are raised):
A CRY IN THE ENEMY'S RANKS:
(A deadly answering volley. The cadets fall on all sides.)
A SPANISH OFFICER (uncovering):
Who are these men who rush on death?
CYRANO (reciting, erect, amid a storm of bullets):
The bold Cadets of Gascony,
Of Carbon of Castel-Jaloux!
Brawling, swaggering boastfully,
(He rushes forward, followed by a few survivors):
The bold Cadets. . .
(His voice is drowned in the battle.)
Cyrano de Bergerac: Characters | Act I | Act II | Act III | Act IV | Act V
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