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. They wait.)
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 arms.)
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.)