Roxane; the Duke de Grammont, formerly Count de Guiche. Then Le Bret and Ragueneau.
And you stay here still--ever vainly fair,
Ever in weeds?
THE DUKE (after a pause):
Am I forgiven?
Ay, since I am here.
His was a soul, you say?. . .
Ah!--when you knew him!
Ah, may be!. . .I, perchance, too little knew him!
. . .And his last letter, ever next your heart?
Hung from this chain, a gentle scapulary.
And, dead, you love him still?
He is but partly dead--our hearts still speak,
As if his love, still living, wrapped me round!
THE DUKE (after another pause):
Cyrano comes to see you?
Dear, kind old friend! We call him my 'Gazette.'
He never fails to come: beneath this tree
They place his chair, if it be fine:--I wait,
I broider;--the clock strikes;--at the last stroke
I hear,--for now I never turn to look--
Too sure to hear his cane tap down the steps;
He seats himself:--with gentle raillery
He mocks my tapestry that's never done;
He tells me all the gossip of the week. . .
(Le Bret appears on the steps):
Why, here's Le Bret!
(Le Bret descends):
How goes it with our friend?
ROXANE (to the Duke):
All that I prophesied: desertion, want!. . .
His letters now make him fresh enemies!--
Attacking the sham nobles, sham devout,
Sham brave,--the thieving authors,--all the world!
Ah! but his sword still holds them all in check;
None get the better of him.
THE DUKE (shaking his head):
Time will show!
Ah, but I fear for him--not man's attack,--
Solitude--hunger--cold December days,
That wolf-like steal into his chamber drear:--
Lo! the assassins that I fear for him!
Each day he tightens by one hole his belt:
That poor nose--tinted like old ivory:
He has retained one shabby suit of serge.
Ay, there is one who has no prize of Fortune!--
Yet is not to be pitied!
LE BRET (with a bitter smile):
My Lord Marshal!. . .
Pity him not! He has lived out his vows,
Free in his thoughts, as in his actions free!
LE BRET (in the same tone):
My Lord!. . .
THE DUKE (haughtily):
True! I have all, and he has naught;. . .
Yet I were proud to take his hand!
(Bowing to Roxane):
I go with you.
(The Duke bows to Le Bret, and goes with Roxane toward the steps.)
THE DUKE (pausing, while she goes up):
Ay, true,--I envy him.
Look you, when life is brimful of success
--Though the past hold no action foul--one feels
A thousand self-disgusts, of which the sum
Is not remorse, but a dim, vague unrest;
And, as one mounts the steps of worldly fame,
The Duke's furred mantles trail within their folds
A sound of dead illusions, vain regrets,
A rustle--scarce a whisper--like as when,
Mounting the terrace steps, by your mourning robe
Sweeps in its train the dying autumn leaves.
You are pensive?
True! I am!
(As he is going out, suddenly):
Monsieur Le Bret!
A word, with your permission?
(He goes to Le Bret, and in a low voice):
True, that none
Dare to attack your friend;--but many hate him;
Yesterday, at the Queen's card-play, 'twas said
'That Cyrano may die--by accident!'
Let him stay in--be prudent!
LE BRET (raising his arms to heaven):
Prudent! He!. . .
He's coming here. I'll warn him--but!. . .
ROXANE (who has stayed on the steps, to a sister who comes toward her):
What is it?
Ragueneau would see you, Madame.
Let him come.
(To the Duke and Le Bret):
He comes to tell his troubles. Having been
An author (save the mark!)--poor fellow--now
By turns he's singer. . .
Bathing-man. . .
Then actor. . .
Beadle. . .
Wig-maker. . .
Teacher of the lute. . .
What will he be to-day, by chance?
RAGUENEAU (entering hurriedly):
(He sees Le Bret):
Ah! you here, Sir!
Tell all your miseries
To him; I will return anon.
But, Madame. . .
(Roxane goes out with the Duke. Ragueneau goes toward Le Bret.)