Cyrano de Bergerac

Full Text

Scene 4.III.

Full Text Scene 4.III.

Scene 4.III.

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?

THE CADET:
I have something in my heels which weighs them down.

CYRANO:
And what may that be?

THE CADET:
My stomach!

CYRANO:
So have I, 'faith!

THE CADET:
It must be in your way?

CYRANO:
Nay, I am all the taller.

A THIRD:
My stomach's hollow.

CYRANO:
'Faith, 'twill make a fine drum to sound the assault.

ANOTHER:
I have a ringing in my ears.

CYRANO:
No, no, 'tis false; a hungry stomach has no ears.

ANOTHER:
Oh, to eat something--something oily!

CYRANO (pulling off the cadet's helmet and holding it out to him):
Behold your salad!

ANOTHER:
What, in God's name, can we devour?

CYRANO (throwing him the book which he is carrying):
The 'Iliad'.

ANOTHER:
The first minister in Paris has his four meals a day!

CYRANO:
'Twere courteous an he sent you a few partridges!

THE SAME:
And why not? with wine, too!

CYRANO:
A little Burgundy. Richelieu, s'il vous plait!

THE SAME:
He could send it by one of his friars.

CYRANO:
Ay! by His Eminence Joseph himself.

ANOTHER:
I am as ravenous as an ogre!

CYRANO:
Eat your patience, then.

THE FIRST CADET (shrugging his shoulders):
Always your pointed word!

CYRANO:
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:
I'm hungry!

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!

CYRANO:
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.

CARBON:
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?

CYRANO (smiling):
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!. . .

CYRANO (smiling):
A flattering welcome!

A CADET:
We are sick to death of him!

ANOTHER CADET:
--With his lace collar over his armor, playing the fine gentleman!

ANOTHER:
As if one wore linen over steel!

THE FIRST:
It were good for a bandage had he boils on his neck.

THE SECOND:
Another plotting courtier!

ANOTHER CADET:
His uncle's own nephew!

CARBON:
For all that--a Gascon.

THE FIRST:
Ay, false Gascon!. . .trust him not. . .
Gascons should ever be crack-brained. . .
Naught more dangerous than a rational Gascon.

LE BRET:
How pale he is!

ANOTHER:
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.

CYRANO (hurriedly):
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.)