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from Four plays (1915)
translated by Barrett H. Clark (1890-1953)
MONTRICHARD. [Reading his guide-book] "Pilnitz, nine kilometres south-east of Dresden, summer residence of the Court. Castle . . . Natural waters . . . Magnificent baths . . . Casino . . ." [Throwing down the book] Palpitating with interest, that little book!
MARQUIS. Tell me, M. de Montrichard you are a great authority on modern France who is Mlle. Olympe Taverny? An actress?
MONTRICHARD. No, M. le Marquis, she is one of the most luxuriously and frequently kept women in Paris. How does it happen that her fame has reached Pilnitz?
MARQUIS. The Constitutionnel announces her death.
MONTRICHARD. Is that possible? A girl of twenty-five! Poor Olympe!
BAUDEL. [Rising from behind the divan] Is Olympe dead?
MONTRICHARD. [After looking for the person who is speaking.] Did Monsieur know her?
BAUDEL. [Embarrassed] Just as everyone did hm yes, very well.
MONTRICHARD. What was the cause of her death?
MARQUIS. Here's the item: [He reads] "Our California correspondent writes, 'Yellow fever has just claimed as its victim one of the most charming of our young compatriots, Mlle. Olympe Taverny. A week after her arrival in San Francisco she met her death.'"
MONTRICHARD. What the devil was she doing in California? She had an income of ten thousand francs!
BAUDEL. Which she must have lost in investments.
MONTRICHARD. [To the MARQUIS] It has always seemed to me the most cruel injustice that these happy young creatures should be exposed to so serious an accident as death, the same as honest women are.
MARQUIS. That is the only possible way for them to make regular their position in society. But what surprises me is that the papers give her long death-notices.
MONTRICHARD. [At the right of the table] You have been away from France for some time, have you not, M. le Marquis?
MARQUIS. Since the Vendée 1832.
MONTRICHARD. There have been great changes in twenty-two years.
MARQUIS. So I imagine: then things were going from bad to worse. But the devil! then, at least, there was some sentiment of public modesty.
MONTRICHARD. What can public modesty do in the face of facts? The existence of this class of women is one of the facts I refer to. These women have passed out of the lower strata of society and come into the broad daylight. They constitute a little world of their own which makes its orbit in the rest of the universe. They go about, give and attend dances, have families, and gamble on the Bourse. Men don't bow to them as yet when they are with mothers or sisters, but they are none the less taken to the Bois in open carriages; in the theatre they occupy prominent boxes and the men are not considered cynics.
MARQUIS. That's all very curious. In my day the boldest man would never dream of parading himself in that way!
MONTRICHARD. Well, in your day this new social circle was still in the swamp; now it's dried up, if not thoroughly renovated. You used to hunt in high-top boots, buckled up to the belt; now we walk about in pumps. Streets have been cut through, squares, whole residential sections. Like the city of Paris, society takes in new suburbs every fifty years. This latest is the Thirteenth Arrondissement. Do you know, these women have so strong a hold on the public that they have even been made the heroines of plays?
MARQUIS. In the theatre? Women who ? And the audience accepts that?
MONTRICHARD. Without a murmur which proves that having made their entrée into comedy, they have done likewise into correct society.
MARQUIS. You could knock me down with a feather!
MONTRICHARD. Then what have you to say when I tell you that these ladies manage to get married?
MARQUIS. To captains of industry?
MONTRICHARD. No, indeed to sons of good families.
MARQUIS. Idiots of good families!
MONTRICHARD. No, no. The bane of our day is the rehabilitation of the lost woman fallen woman, we say. Our poets, novelists, dramatists, fill the heads of the young generation with romantic ideas of redemption through love, the virginity of the soul, and other paradoxes of transcendental philosophy. These young women must become ladies, grand ladies!
MARQUIS. Grand ladies?
MONTRICHARD. Marriage is their final catch; the fish must be worth the trouble, you see.
MARQUIS. [Rising] Good God! And the father-in-law doesn't strangle a woman in a case of the sort?
MONTRICHARD. [Also rising] What about the law, M. le Marquis?
MARQUIS. Devil take the law them if your laws permit such shame to fall upon good families, if a common prostitute can tarnish the honour of a whole family by marrying one of its drunkard sons, it is the father's right to take his name from the thief of his honour, even if it were glued to her skin like Nessus' tunic.
MONTRICHARD. That's rather a brutal form of justice for the present age, is it not, M. le Marquis?
MARQUIS. Possibly, but I am not a man of the present age.
BAUDEL. But, M. le Marquis, suppose the woman in question does not drag her stolen plumage in the gutter?
MARQUIS. I cannot admit the hypothesis, Monsieur.
BAUDEL. Is it not possible that she should like to give up her former life and want to lead a quiet and pure existence ?
MARQUIS. Put a duck on a lake among swans, and you will observe that the duck regrets its mire, and will end by returning there.
MONTRICHARD. Home-sickness for the mud!
BAUDEL. Then you don't believe in repentant Magdalens?
MARQUIS. I do in the desert.
MARQUIS. Shh! Messieurs, beware of chaste ears!
MONTRICHARD. And how are Mme. la Marquise and Mlle. Geneviève?
MARQUISE. Much better, thank you, Monsieur. Have you seen the papers, dear?
MARQUIS. Yes, dear, and I am now at your disposal.
GENEVIÈVE. No news from Turkey, grandfather?
MARQUIS. No, my child.
MONTRICHARD. Are you interested in the war, Mademoiselle?
GENEVIÈVE. I should so like to be a man and fight!
MARQUISE. Hush, child.
GENEVIÈVE. I'm not so stupid or if I am, I owe it to you, grandmother. You shouldn't blame me!
MARQUISE. [Tapping GENEVIÈVE gently on the cheek, then going toward her husband.] Coming to the spring, Tancrède? It's time.
MARQUIS. Very well. [To the others] We invalids are here to take the waters. My arm, Marquise. And you lead the way, granddaughter. [To his wife] Sleep better?
MARQUISE. [To her husband] Almost well; and you?
MARQUIS. So did I. [They go out. MONTRICHARD escorts them to the door and returns.]
BAUDEL. [To MONTRICHARD] I am delighted, Monsieur, to have made your acquaintance.
MONTRICHARD. When did I have the honour, Monsieur ?
BAUDEL. Why here just now
MONTRICHARD. The few words we exchanged together? Good Lord, you are a quick acquaintance-maker!
BAUDEL. I have known you a long time, by reputation. I have always wanted to be counted among your friends.
MONTRICHARD. That's too good of you! Though my friendship is not a temple of etiquette, people do not as a rule enter it unannounced. [Aside] Who is the fellow?
BAUDEL. [Bowing] Anatole de Beauséjour
MONTRICHARD. Knight of Malta?
BAUDEL. I confess it.
MONTRICHARD. Fifteen hundred francs and what did the title of Beauséjour cost you?
BAUDEL. Two hundred thousand in land.
MONTRICHARD. Dear enough. You deserve another a little less expensive.
BAUDEL. Ha, ha! Good! Baudel, Monsieur, is my patronymic.
MONTRICHARD. Baudel? Just as the Montmorency were called Bouchard. I seem to have heard your name somewhere before, Monsieur. Didn't you apply for membership in the Jockey Club last year?
BAUDEL. I did.
MONTRICHARD. And you were refused because you were one moment! because your father was a milliner?
BAUDEL. He financed the concern: partner of Mlle. Aglaë.
MONTRICHARD. Partner, yes. Well, Monsieur, if I were your father's son I should call myself merely Baudel. It's no disgrace to be bald; only when one wears a wig does one run the risk of appearing ridiculous, M. de Beauséjour. And so your very humble
BAUDEL. [Intercepting him] Monsieur, the estate of Beauséjour is situated on the road to Orleans, thirty-three kilometres from Paris. Could you tell me where Montrichard lies?
MONTRICHARD. [Returning to BAUDEL] Three impertinent fellows have asked me the same question. To the first I replied that it was situated in the Bois de Boulogne;l to the second, in the Bois de Vincennes; l to the third, in the Forest of St. Germain.l I accompanied each of these three sceptics to the duelling grounds; they returned convinced grievously convinced so convinced that no one has since dared repeat the question. I trust, Monsieur, that you no longer desire the information?
BAUDEL. You refer to pleasure parties on your estates, I take it? You forget, perhaps, that there are other places for such? Spa, Homburg, Baden, and Pilnitz!
MONTRICHARD. Monsieur then insists on a wound?
BAUDEL. Yes, Monsieur, I need one. I have arranged this little conversation with that end in view.
MONTRICHARD. Very well, M. Baudel. But I warn you that you have already an inch of steel in your arm. Take good care that the weapon goes no deeper!
BAUDEL. I am fully aware that Monsieur is the best swordsman in Paris. Your blade stands you in good stead of everything, including a genealogy.
MONTRICHARD. Two inches.
BAUDEL. Of an ambiguous title, relying entirely upon chance. You have by your bravado and your cleverness made an entrée in the world of fashion and high life; you are even one of the leaders in that world, where you always behave like a perfect gentleman: spending generously, never borrowing a good gambler, good comrade, dead shot, and a gallant knight.
MONTRICHARD. Three inches.
BAUDEL. Unfortunately, however, you have recently lost your luck. You are now without a sou, and are looking for fifty thousand francs with which to tempt fortune once again. You cannot find the money.
MONTRICHARD. Five inches!
BAUDEL. I shall loan you that amount.
BAUDEL. Now how many inches?
MONTRICHARD. That depends on the conditions you make. You have conditions?
MONTRICHARD. Speak, M. de Beauséjour.
BAUDEL. It's quite simple: I should like
BAUDEL. The devil! It's not so simple as it seemed.
MONTRICHARD. I am very intelligent!
BAUDEL. Monsieur, I have an income of a hundred and twenty-three thousand francs.
MONTRICHARD. You are fortunate.
BAUDEL. No, I am not. I have received a gentleman's education and I have aristocratic instincts. My fortune and my breeding call me to the more brilliant realms of society
MONTRICHARD. And your birth stands in your way.
BAUDEL. Precisely. Every time I knock at the door, it is closed in my face. In order to enter and to remain, I must fight a dozen duels. Now, I am no more of a coward than the average man, but I have a hundred and twenty-three thousand reasons for wanting to live, while my adversary as a rule would have only thirty or forty thousand. It's not too unevenly matched.
MONTRICHARD. I understand: you want to earn your spurs once for all, and you turn to me?
BAUDEL. That's it.
MONTRICHARD. But, my dear Monsieur, my inserting an inch of steel into your arm will not prove that you're a good swordsman.
BAUDEL. That is not exactly
MONTRICHARD. Then what ?
BAUDEL. It's rather a delicate matter to explain.
MONTRICHARD. Say it out let us be frank.
BAUDEL. You are right: I propose a bargain.
MONTRICHARD. For what? You remind me of a bottle of that sort of champagne that takes a quarter of an hour to blow the cork out! Good God, man, ask for a corkscrew!
BAUDEL. Monsieur, your device is Cruore dives, isn't it?
MONTRICHARD. Yes, Monsieur, Cruore dives; Enriched by his blood. This was not my own invention: it was given by Louis XIV to my great-grandfather four generations ago; he received eight wounds at the Battle of Senef.
BAUDEL. What was the estate worth at the time?
MONTRICHARD. One million.
BAUDEL. [Lowering his eyes] Twenty-five thousand francs a wound. I am not as rich as Louis XIV, Monsieur, but there are wounds and wounds. A scratch on the arm, for instance doesn't that seem worth fifty thousand francs?
MONTRICHARD. [Severely] Do you mean you wish to buy a wound? You're mad!
BAUDEL. Bear in mind that it is more to my interest than yours to keep the matter a secret. There is nothing reprehensible in the arrangement: the price of blood has always been an honourable thing. Your own device proves that.
MONTRICHARD. [After a moment's hesitation] You know, I like you I couldn't for the life of me say why but I like you. It will be very amusing to make you a man of the world. I'll take that wound from you, but gratis, you understand?
BAUDEL. [To himself] That will cost more but I don't mind!
MONTRICHARD. Send your seconds.
BAUDEL. But the cause of the quarrel?
MONTRICHARD. Your name is Baudel. I am said to have suggested that you cross the L.2
BAUDEL. Good! Montrichard, a duel to the bitter end!
MONTRICHARD. And afterward we shall have a housewarming for our new friendship at the Hotel du Grand Scanderburg. I shall await your seconds here, my dear M. Baudel.
BAUDEL. De Beauséjour.
MONTRICHARD. Yes, yes: de Beauséjour. [BAUDEL goes out] There's a queer type! I'll make something of him: first a friend very attached with a string to his paw ! This duel is exactly what I needed to set me going once again. Montrichard, the hour of fate has sounded, the hour of marriage! [He goes to the door, meets PAULINE and bows to her.]
MONTRICHARD. You? You're not dead, then? Why, the papers are full of it!
PAULINE. Doubtless a mistake!
MONTRICHARD. Aren't you Olympe Taverny?
PAULINE. Ah, I thought so! This is not the first time I have had the honour to be mistaken for that lady. I am the Countess de Puygiron, Monsieur.
MONTRICHARD. A thousand pardons, Madame! The resemblance is so striking! Even your voice! You will excuse me for making so natural a mistake? Especially as this is as likely a place to meet Olympe Taverny as the Countess de Puygiron. I beg your pardon once more, Madame.
PAULINE. [Going down-stage to the right] Of course, Monsieur. I was looking for my uncle and aunt here.
MONTRICHARD. They are at the spring. M. le Marquis never told me his nephew was married.
PAULINE. For an excellent reason: he didn't know it himself.
PAULINE. It's a surprise that my husband and I have in store for him. Please be good enough, therefore, not to tell him of our arrival, if you happen to see him before we do. Or will you please show me the way to the spring?
MONTRICHARD. Do me the honour of taking my arm, Madame. I have the good fortune to be slightly acquainted with your family. [Bowing] Baron de Montrichard most pleased to this is nonsense, introducing an old friend!
MONTRICHARD. Are you afraid I'll tell? You know I'm always on the woman's side. You and I can help each other; in my own interest, if for no other reason, I am bound to be discreet on your score.
PAULINE. In what way, M. de de Montrichard, can I be fortunate enough to serve you?
MONTRICHARD. Ah, you're defiant? Do you want security? I'm only too pleased. I am thinking of marrying: your great-uncle, the Marquis de Puygiron, has a charming granddaughter. I have just made her acquaintance, but have not as yet been received into the family circle. If you will arrange that for me and further my suit, I shall see to it that whoever has the impertinence to recognise you will have to deal with me.
PAULINE. [Taking his hand] How did you recognize me?
MONTRICHARD. First, your face, then that little pink mark on your beloved ivory neck. The mark I used to adore!
PAULINE. Do you still remember it?
MONTRICHARD. You were my only real love.
PAULINE. And you mine, dear Edouard.
MONTRICHARD. No, no Alfred you're mixing the names. Your "only real love" has had so many names! What the devil put it into your head to marry? You were very happy before?
PAULINE. Did you ever happen to notice, when you stepped out into the boulevard, that you had left your cane in the restaurant?
PAULINE. And you went back for it. There in the private dining-room you saw the wreckage of the orgy: candelabra in which the lights were burned out; tablecloth removed; a candle-end on the table which was all covered with grease and stained with wine. Instead of lights and laughter and heavy perfumes, that made the place gay not long since, were solitude, silence, and a stale odor. The gilded furniture seemed like strangers to you, to everyone, even to themselves. Not a single article among all this that seemed familiar, not one was reminiscent of the absent master of the house or awaited his return. Complete abandonment!
PAULINE. Well, my life is rather like that of the private dining-room. I must be gay or utterly lonely there is no possible compromise. Are you surprised then that the restaurant aspires to the dignity of the home?
MONTRICHARD. Not to mention a certain taste for virtue that you must have acquired?
PAULINE. You're joking?
MONTRICHARD. No, virtue is for you a new play-thing, I might almost say, forbidden fruit. Let me warn you that it will set your teeth on edge.
PAULINE. We shall see.
MONTRICHARD. The career of an honest woman is a fearful undertaking!
PAULINE. It can't compare with ours! If you only knew how much energy it required to ruin a man!
MONTRICHARD. No matter, you are now Countess de Puygiron. Now tell me what is the meaning of the news of your death in the Constitutionnel?
PAULINE. A note my mother sent to all the papers.
MONTRICHARD. How is good old Irma, by the way?
PAULINE. Very well and happy. When I married, I gave her all I had furniture, jewels, income.
MONTRICHARD. That was something of a consolation for losing you.
PAULINE. So you see how necessary it was to throw people off the scent? Thanks to this plan, no one will dare recognise Olympe Taverny in the Countess de Puygiron. Now, dear, you know if I had persisted in not being recognised, you would have retired with excuses that is, if, you hadn't given me your security.
MONTRICHARD. Suppose you happen to meet one of your friends who knew of your liaison with the Count?
PAULINE. No one knew of it.
PAULINE. Henri took me seriously from the very first. He was most discreet: Didier and Marion Delorme, you see! You must know that I've played my cards well. I talked of going into a convent; then he asked me to marry him, and I accepted. I pretended I was going to California. Henri met me in Brittany; I married him there a year ago, under my real name, Pauline Morin.
MONTRICHARD. Is he as big a fool as that?
PAULINE. You insulting creature! He's a very intelligent and charming young man.
MONTRICHARD. Then how does it happen that ?
PAULINE. He never had a mistress his father was very severe with him. When he became of age, he was as innocent as
MONTRICHARD. As you at the age of four! Poor fellow!
PAULINE. He's not to be pitied; he's very happy with me.
MONTRICHARD. Do you love him?
PAULINE. That is not the question. I strew his path with flowers artificial, perhaps, but they are prettier and more lasting than real ones.
MONTRICHARD. Truly, do you think the game worth the candle?
PAULINE. So far, I don't. We've been spending ten months alone in Brittany all by ourselves. For the past two months we've been travelling, alone again. I can't say that we've been hilarious. I live the life of a recluse, going from hotel to hotel; with the maids, servants, and postilions, I am "Madame la Comtesse." All that would be dull enough if I hadn't other dreams for the future but I have. Now that Olympe Taverny (God rest her soul!) has had time to go to California and die and be mourned for in Paris, I can boldly enter society by the front door, which the Marquis de Puygiron is to open for me.
MONTRICHARD. Is your husband going to introduce you to his uncle?
PAULINE. Indeed he is! But he's not expecting the kind of meeting I have planned!
MONTRICHARD. There's a fine fellow caught in a trap!
PAULINE. It's all for his own happiness! If he introduces me as an honest woman, he will not be lying: for a year I have been the personification of virtue. I have a new skin.
MONTRICHARD. You have only to shed it, Countess!
PAULINE. Impertinent! Here is my husband!
MONTRICHARD. Will you be good enough, Madame, to present me to M. le Comte?
PAULINE. My friend, M. le Baron de Montrichard.
HENRI. [Bowing] Monsieur.
PAULINE. We owe our acquaintance to a rather strange accident: M. de Montrichard, when he saw me come in, mistook me for you know whom I am thought to resemble?
MONTRICHARD. The mistake was all the more inexcusable as the person you speak of recently died in California, and I do not believe in ghosts.
PAULINE. Is the poor creature dead? Well, I haven't the courage to mourn her! Let us hope I shan't again be mistaken for her!
HENRI. Take care, Madame, perhaps M. de Montrichard feels the loss more keenly than you?
MONTRICHARD. Right, Monsieur, I thought a great deal of the lady. Her heart was much above her station in life.
HENRI. Ah? Doubtless Monsieur was in a position to appreciate her better than anyone else?
MONTRICHARD. No, Monsieur, no. My relations with her were always of a very brief and friendly nature.
HENRI. [Shaking hands with him cordially] I am very glad to have made your acquaintance, Monsieur we must become friends!
MONTRICHARD. Monsieur! [To himself] I feel sorry for him!
SERVANT. Two gentlemen who wish to see M. de Montrichard.
MONTRICHARD. [To himself] Baudel's seconds! [Aloud] Good, I shall be with them in a moment. [The servant goes out] I hope, M. le Comte, that we shall soon find an opportunity of continuing the conversation? Madame!
HENRI. [To himself, as he sees his uncle] My Uncle!
MONTRICHARD. [Meeting the MARQUIS at the door] M. le Marquis, you find yourself in the bosom of your family. [He goes out.]
MARQUIS. It's Henri! My dear boy, what a surprise! [He opens his arms; HENRI kisses him, then kisses the MARQUISE' hand] Three years without coming to see us! And not a letter for a whole year! How ungrateful of you!
MARQUISE. What of it? Family affection doesn't die out like other affection, through absence or silence. Two hundred leagues away, when we were both grieving for the same reason, we were together in our sorrow.
MARQUIS. We expected you just before your poor father's death. We thought you would feel the need of being with us.
HENRI. I was very, very lonely and I thought of you, but important business affairs
MARQUIS. I understand the will and so forth. The most painful part of human bereavements is that we cannot escape from material worries. Well, here you are at last, and we are very happy to see you.
MARQUISE. How did you know we were here?
HENRI. The fact is, I didn't. I expected to meet you in Vienna, at the end of my German tour.
MARQUIS. Heaven bless the chance that brought you to us, then! We have you and we mean to keep you.
HENRI. I should be only too glad to spend some days with you, only I was just passing through Pilnitz! I must leave in an hour
HENRI. It's a matter of great importance
MARQUIS. What an idea! There can't be anything to prevent ?
HENRI. Excuse me. [He looks toward PAULINE, who stands near the table. The MARQUIS watches him]
MARQUIS. Ah? [Aside to Henri] You're not travelling alone? Well, youth is youth! [Aloud] If you have only an hour to stay here, let us spend the time together at least! Our hotel is just two steps from here. Give your aunt your arm.
PAULINE. I shall wait for you here, Henri.
MARQUIS. [Turning round] You lack tact, Mademoiselle!
HENRI. [Going to PAULINE and taking her hand] Uncle, I have the honour to present you to the Countess de Puygiron.
MARQUISE. The Countess de Puygiron?
MARQUIS. Are you married?
HENRI. Yes, Uncle.
MARQUIS. [Severely] How does it happen, Monsieur, that I, the head of the family, knew nothing of this?
HENRI. Let me postpone an explanation in which my self-respect and my duty toward you could not but suffer. I did not come to Pilnitz to see you, and I have no intention of antagonising you by my presence here. In leaving you, I believe that I am paying you all the deference at present due you.
MARQUIS. This has nothing to do with deference, Monsieur! In families like ours there exists a solidarity of honour which is not to be trifled with or put aside by a caprice. Ask me what I have done with our family name and I shall answer that I have never spotted it except with my blood. Now I command you to give me your account!
HENRI. Command? When I married Pauline, I broke with the family. I therefore have the right to be rid of any duty toward it, as I ask none of its privileges.
MARQUISE. Henri, my child, can't you be a little more conciliatory?
MARQUIS. Madame, do not believe for an instant that it is Henri who is speaking! Can't you see that this spirit of revolt has been put into him by someone else?
HENRI. You are mistaken, Monsieur: I respect what deserves respect. But the prejudices and absurd conventions, the hypocrisy and tyranny of society nothing could prevent my despising them as they deserve to be despised!
MARQUIS. Whom have you married in order to set society at defiance?
HENRI. I prefer not to say.
PAULINE. Why not, dearest? You must not allow your uncle to believe your marriage worse than a misalliance! That would kill him! Let me reassure him! His sense of honour will surely ? Then we may go.
HENRI. Very well. [He walks away]
PAULINE. My name is Pauline Morin, M. le Marquis; I am the daughter of an honest farmer.
MARQUIS. You a farmer's daughter? But your manners, your language ? ?
PAULINE. My dear mother gave me an education far beyond my station.
MARQUIS. Possibly! Come, Marquise. [He offers his arm to the MARQUISE, and they turn to go]
PAULINE. Please stay. I ought to leave if my presence is disagreeable to you!
MARQUIS. You really cannot expect to be publicly received into a family which you entered in secret? [HENRI is about to speak]
PAULINE. And why not in secret? Tell me what you suspect, M. le Marquis? My marriage must seem to you a very treacherous and bold stroke.
MARQUIS. That would not be at all necessary with a child like Henri!
HENRI. But she wanted to go into a convent!
PAULINE. It was a comedy, a cruel comedy! Whom could you hope to persuade of my sincerity? Who would admit that a girl of low birth, when she found in you all the intelligence and goodness of heart she had always dreamed, would give up her secret soul to you? You were very simple to believe it ask your uncle. If I had really loved you, would I not have refused to become your wife? Would I not, M. le Marquis?
HENRI. And do you imagine she didn't refuse? She made every possible objection that you yourself would have made.
PAULINE. I was defending not only your happiness, but my own. [HENRI sits down at the table] Do you think I had a beautiful dream, M. le Marquis? If you only knew what I am suffering! But I have no right to complain; I anticipated what was going to happen. [To HENRI] I asked God for one year of your love in exchange for the happiness of a lifetime. He has kept His bargain, and given me even a little extra for full measure: for you still love me.
HENRI. [His arms extended toward her] I do love you! I love you as much as I did the first days of our love.
PAULINE. Poor dear! You don't realise what is going on within you! Perhaps I'm wrong to tell you but it's only what you will learn soon enough. Your affection is already waning and you are being worn out by the struggle you are making against the conventions of society. Your family traditions, which you have shattered, and which you call prejudices, are now rising up one after the other
MARQUISE. [To her husband] That's true enough.
PAULINE. You are resisting, I know, and you are already angry that your happiness is not rewarded enough for the sacrifices you are forced to make, but every day these sacrifices grow greater, and the reward less. When you leave here, you will feel the weight of loneliness bearing down on you; you will see with other eyes the woman who ought always to stand you in stead of family, friends, society and before long the regret of what you have given up for me will change to remorse.
MARQUISE. [To her husband] She doesn't speak like a woman who's trying to deceive us!
PAULINE. But never fear, dearest, the day that happens I shall give you back all you have lost for my sake, and your love for me will be my whole life.
HENRI. Who can listen to you and not adore you?
MARQUISE. [To her husband] Poor woman!
PAULINE. Goodby, M. le Marquis, and forgive me for having the honour to bear your name I am paying dear for it!
MARQUISE. [To her husband] Say something nice to her.
MARQUIS. Only my rigid principles, which I have always adhered to, separate us to my regret.
PAULINE. Thank you! I go away proud, for I feel that I am at least esteemed by the Great Marquis!
MARQUIS. Do you know my nom de guerre?
PAULINE. I am the daughter of a Vendéen!
HENRI. [To himself] What's this?
MARQUISE. Daughter of a Vendéen?
PAULINE. Who died with honour on the field of battle.
MARQUIS. In what battle?
MARQUIS. I wasn't there, but our men fought valiantly that day! What did you say was your father's name?
PAULINE. Yvon Morin.
MARQUIS. I don't recall
PAULINE. I scarcely thought you would: he was only a common soldier of your cause.
MARQUIS. We were all equals, made noble by our faith. If there had been distinctions it was death only that made them! [To HENRI] Why didn't you tell me you were marrying the daughter of a Vendéen? That's not a misalliance! Your father shed his blood with ours, Countess!
PAULINE. Oh, M. le Marquis!
MARQUIS. Your uncle! [Stretches out his arms toward PAULINE, who falls into them.]
MARQUISE. [As PAULINE kisses her hand] I was sure Henri would not contract a marriage unworthy of him!
MARQUIS. [To HENRI] Now you won't leave, will you?
MARQUIS. Go if you like, only we shall keep your wife. Come to our hotel, Countess; I should like to introduce you to my granddaughter. This proud nobleman will certainly follow you
HENRI. Yes, we shall join you soon, Uncle.
MARQUIS. Don't make us wait too long we shan't sit down to dinner until you come. [He shakes hands with PAULINE and HENRI and goes toward the door] It's the Lion d'or. [He goes out with the MARQUISE]
HENRI. Swear to me that you didn't know my Uncle was here! Swear on your life!
PAULINE. On my life, on my mother! You suspect something too terrible for words, I know!
HENRI. Forgive me! You can see how I suffer. I sometimes even doubt you. This story you seemed to invent on the spur of the moment
PAULINE. You think it was prepared?
HENRI. I did and my heart sank.
PAULINE. Poor child! You thought I married in order to get into the family, and become a Countess?
PAULINE. That my sole
HENRI. Forgive me I'm not at all well.
PAULINE. I know, and for that very reason I wanted you to be with your family once more. My love is not enough in itself but rather than have you suspect me, I should tell the whole truth to your uncle.
HENRI. It would kill him I know it would kill him! [He throws himself upon the divan]
PAULINE. [Sitting beside him] Then we'll go tomorrow, if this lie is troubling you
HENRI. It is. Your intention was good thank you for that! But I have no right to fly in the face of my uncle's prejudices with a lie. Every time he shook hands with me, every time you spoke to any member of my family, would be an abuse of confidence for which I should blush.
PAULINE. [Embracing him] We'll go tonight. Those clouds on your forehead must disappear, you adorable boy! I ask nothing more than to be with you, alone! Come now, let us join those people whose peace of mind gives you so much worry.
HENRI. You angel!
PAULINE. Ah, you have given me wings! [She gives him her arm coquettishly. HENRI kisses her forehead. To herself] Countess, ah!
MARQUISE. You must not forget, Tancrède, that we are dining at Mme. de Ransberg's.
MARQUIS. I shan't forget: you know I adore Mme. de Ransberg!
MARQUISE. And I believe your affection is returned! If she were thirty years older I might be jealous.
GENEVIÈVE. On the contrary, grandmother: rather just because she is twenty, it seems to me
MARQUISE. That she is no match for you, who are sixty.
GENEVIÈVE. Do you think the victor is always the one with the heavy battalions?
MARQUISE. In matters of friendship, yes.
MARQUIS. I am very grateful to the dear little Baroness for the way she welcomed our Pauline.
GENEVIÈVE. Then you have reason to be grateful to all Vienna, for that matter.
MARQUIS. I don't deny that. I have been touched and flattered, I admit, by her reception here.
GENEVIÈVE. You might almost imagine that we were concealing contraband goods!
MARQUIS. I'm foolish, like the ass with the burden of relics!
GENEVIÈVE. [Rising] Did you hear that, Pauline?
PAULINE. [Emerging from her reverie] What?
GENEVIÈVE. [Going to PAULINE] So much the worse! See what you've lost! That will teach you to join in the conversation!
PAULINE. I'm not feeling well.
MARQUISE. Not yet?
GENEVIÈVE. You're never well, are you?
PAULINE. It's nothing. [To herself] What a bore!
MARQUIS. [Sitting by the
PAULINE. That's so.
GENEVIÈVE. But the party was such fun!
PAULINE. [To herself] Like a rainy day!
GENEVIÈVE. Mme. de Rosenthal is so jolly! She breathes an air of gaiety all about her. Such a brilliant soirée! Even the old people at their whist must have been excited!
MARQUISE. My partner, the Chevalier de Falkenstein, took my kings every time
MARQUIS. His excuse was Pauline's laughter it distracted his attention.
GENEVIÈVE. A deaf man with a sharp ear! Pauline didn't move and she won enormously.
PAULINE. Enormously? A hundred francs, at the outside.
MARQUIS. That's good, at a franc a point. But I have an idea you don't care for gambling?
PAULINE. I don't, M. le Marquis, I don't [To herself] at a franc a point.
GENEVIÈVE. Pauline is so serious that I think she's bored by all this frivolous society.
MARQUISE. Yes, and she seemed, beforehand, to expect a wonderful time!
PAULINE. I imagined it was going to be something far different from this!
MARQUIS. You are too serious for your years, my dear niece.
MARQUISE. But society is not altogether a matter of frivolity. If you are bored with the young people, why don't you talk with the older ones? You could certainly find something worth while to talk about with them?
PAULINE. Madame, I am ashamed to confess that the topics of conversation in society do not appeal to me: I am a barbarian. I've lived too long in our primitive Brittany.
MARQUIS. We shall civilise you, my dear child. What is the weather like?
GENEVIÈVE. [Going to the window] Superb!
MARQUISE. It won't last.
MARQUIS. Does your wound still pain you?
MARQUISE. What wound?
GENEVIÈVE. [Returning] You didn't know that grandmother was once a soldier?
GENEVIÈVE. [Going to the MARQUIS] Did that displease you?
MARQUISE. No, dear.
MARQUIS. You allow her too great liberty she's too familiar with you.
MARQUISE. Familiarity is the small-change of tenderness. We are too old to object to that.
MARQUIS. Very well. That child speaks to you sometimes in a way I shouldn't dare to do!
GENEVIÈVE. This is between grandmother and me, grandfather. It doesn't concern you.
MARQUISE. Geneviève, you are forgetting yourself!
GENEVIÈVE. You're as severe as grandfather. Did I annoy you, grandfather?
MARQUIS. No, dear. With me I allow you certain liberties
GENEVIÈVE. Then you are as indulgent as grandmother! [She kisses him]
MARQUIS. That child is twisting us round her little finger, Marquise.
GENEVIÈVE. [Taking a hand of each of her grandparents in her own] Forgive my little trick: I only wanted to try an experiment. Henri spoke of the respect each of you had for the other
MARQUIS. Are you surprised that I respect your grandmother?
GENEVIÈVE. Oh no, but I never dreamed how far it went! Henri called my attention to it: "How beautiful it is," he said, "to see those two lives so bound up in each other! Old age without a blemish! Two hearts that have gone through life inseparable, two beings whom the battles of life have brought closer together. The head and the saint of the family"
PAULINE. [To herself] Philemon and Baucis!
GENEVIÈVE. And tears came into his eyes tears of admiration and tenderness.
MARQUISE. Dear Henri!
MARQUIS. He's right, dear your grandmother is a saint!
MARQUISE. [Smiling] Tancrède, it isn't your place to sanctify me!
MARQUIS. Would you like to hear about that wound, Pauline? I'll tell you: the Marquise came with me to the Château of Péniscière you know the details of that terrible siege! When fire broke out and forced us to leave the Château, we retreated fighting all the way to a little wood where we separated after firing our last volley. The Marquise and I made our way to a farm-house, where we hid. As the door opened she fainted, and then I noticed that she had been hit by a bullet! [Taking her hand] My dear wife! That wound will be counted among your good deeds, in Heaven!
MARQUISE.. I hope not, dear. You have given me reward enough on earth.
PAULINE. Noble! [To herself] Poseurs!
GENEVIÈVE. I should like to be your age and have done that!
MARQUISE. I think you would do the same as I did under the circumstances.
GENEVIÈVE. I would! So would Pauline!
MARQUISE. Of course: she is Bretonne.
PAULINE. [To herself] They'll soon begin to think that we have done it!
SERVANT. The carriage is ready. [He goes out]
MARQUIS. [To the MARQUISE] Come, my dear [To GENEVIÈVE and PAULINE] We'll come back and get you for dinner. Now you may dress, ladies.
GENEVIÈVE. We have plenty of time.
PAULINE. May I not be excused?
MARQUIS. Impossible, dear, the dinner is given in your honour. [The MARQUIS and MARQUISE go out at the back]
PAULINE. [To herself] What a bore! [To GENEVIÈVE] Where do they go every day at the same hour?
GENEVIÈVE. They say they go out for a drive, but no one ever sees them.
PAULINE. A mystery!
GENEVIÈVE. I know, but I pretend not to: they visit the poor.
PAULINE. But why the mystery?
GENEVIÈVE. Shouldn't charity always be secret?
PAULINE. Yes, of course. [To herself] Oh dear, what people! I don't know what to do next.
GENEVIÈVE. Where is Henri?
PAULINE. I have no idea probably visiting the poor.
GENEVIÈVE. He seems rather depressed lately.
PAULINE. He's never been over-gay: he's a melancholy boy.
GENEVIÈVE. You don't know of any hidden trouble, do you?
PAULINE. My dear, melancholy comes from the stomach. Healthy people are never melancholy; M. de Montrichard, for instance. [She sits down]
GENEVIÈVE. [Smiling] He must have an extraordinary stomach!
PAULINE. How clever he is and how gay!
GENEVIÈVE. He is amusing.
PAULINE. And brave! He would make a woman very happy.
GENEVIÈVE. You say that as if Henri weren't making you happy?
PAULINE. I am very happy, and Henri is charming to me. Only, Mme. de Montrichard would have no occasion to envy me. I should like to see you that woman.
PAULINE. Haven't you noticed what marked attention he pays you?
GENEVIÈVE. No. Did he tell you ?
GENEVIÈVE. That he's paying attention to me?
PAULINE. I observed that myself; it's as clear as day. He is in love with you.
GENEVIÈVE. Are you interested in him?
PAULINE. Yes because I love you.
GENEVIÈVE. Then be good enough to ask him to stop.
PAULINE. Why? Don't you like him?
GENEVIÈVE. [Nervously] No more than I do anyone else. I'm never going to marry.
PAULINE. [Rising] I'm surprised. I didn't think your religious devotion went so far as to eliminate marriage?
GENEVIÈVE. It isn't a matter of religion it's only an idea of mine.
PAULINE. Then you love someone you cannot marry?
GENEVIÈVE. I love no one
PAULINE. You are blushing. [Drawing GENEVIÈVE to her] Now, Geneviève, confide in me am I not your friend?
GENEVIÈVE. I tell you, I don't love anyone.
PAULINE. Then you did love someone?
GENEVIÈVE. Let's not talk about it, please. [Leaving PAULINE] I can't. [She goes to the sofa]
PAULINE. I understand! [To herself] So much the better for Montrichard! [To GENEVIÈVE] My dear, M. de Montrichard is not a man who cannot forgive a youthful slip. [She goes to GENEVIÈVE again]
GENEVIÈVE. A youthful slip?
PAULINE. He's the ideal husband for you. He'll never inquire into your past life, and if anyone should ever make the slightest allusion to
GENEVIÈVE. To what?
PAULINE. What you don't dare tell me But don't blush, dear! [She makes GENEVIÈVE sit down] What young girl hasn't been imprudent once in her life? You meet a handsome young man at a dance; he squeezes your hand; then perhaps you answer a note of his [GENEVIÈVE starts to get up again, but PAULINE detains her] and all in the most innocent possible way. Then you find you're compromised, without ever having done anything actually wrong.
GENEVIÈVE. Note? Compromised? I?
PAULINE. Then what do you mean by saying you ought not to marry?
GENEVIÈVE. [Rising, with dignity] I mean, Madame, that there is a man whom I have been brought up to regard as my future husband, and But you wouldn't understand! You could suspect ! [She turns her back to PAULINE]
PAULINE. I am sorry if I hurt you, dear, but your reticence certainly led me to suppose and you know I was only trying to be friendly!
GENEVIÈVE. [Giving PAULINE her hand] I was wrong!
PAULINE. Now, be brave. There was a man, you say, whom you were brought up to regard as your future husband?
GENEVIÈVE. I gave all I could respect and submission to this fiancé. I tried to think and act as he did. I was his companion in my secret thoughts I oh, I can't tell you! Now I feel like a widow.
PAULINE. He's not dead?
GENEVIÈVE. Dead to me he is married.
PAULINE. There's no telling what men will do!
GENEVIÈVE. He hardly knew me. He met a woman who was worthy of him, and married her and he was right.
PAULINE. Then you should follow his example.
GENEVIÈVE. With me it's different.
PAULINE. Do you still love him?
GENEVIÈVE. Even if I once loved him, I should have no right to do so now; his heart belongs to another woman.
PAULINE. I don't quite follow your subtle reasoning
GENEVIÈVE. It's simply a matter of keys. [They rise] A husband should be able to open every drawer belonging to his wife, should he not?
PAULINE. Of course.
GENEVIÈVE. Here is a little gold key which I should have to keep from my husband.
PAULINE. What does it open?
GENEVIÈVE. An ebony box containing my diary.
PAULINE. Your diary?
GENEVIÈVE. Yes. My grandmother taught me, ever since the time I was a little child, to write down what I did and thought!
PAULINE. How queer!
GENEVIÈVE. It's a very good thing to look into one's heart every day. If there are any weeds, it's easy to pluck them out before they take root.
PAULINE. Away with dog's-grass, eh? And so you wrote down day by day this romance of yours? Metaphorically speaking, that is the key to your heart?
PAULINE. You may as well make up your mind that some day someone will steal it.
GENEVIÈVE. In any event, it will not be M. de Montrichard.
PAULINE. So much the worse for him and you!
SERVANT. M. de Beauséjour. [He goes out]
GENEVIÈVE. And still less he! I can't bear him, the smooth, bragging ! I'm going to dress. [She goes out]
BAUDEL. I hope I'm not driving anyone away?
PAULINE. My cousin.
BAUDEL. I should regret it were I able to regret anything in your presence, Countess!
PAULINE. [Going to get a small hand-mirror which lies on a console-table, to the right, and then motioning BAUDEL to a chair] Very gallant of you, I'm sure!
BAUDEL. [To himself] Alone, strange to say! Let us follow de Montrichard's advice, and may Buckingham preserve me! [He brings a chair close to PAULINE]
PAULINE. [Sitting on the sofa] Is M. de Montrichard sick, that we see Pylades alone?
BAUDEL. [Sitting down] No, Madame, he is not. He will himself come to present his respects.
PAULINE. Do you know, your friendship is worthy the age of chivalry?
BAUDEL. Cemented in our blood! I owe Montrichard a little revenge, and I shall soon pay my debt!
PAULINE. What? Old friends like you?
BAUDEL. What can I do? He's absurd; he gets on my nerves! Think of it, he persists in noticing your resemblance to !
PAULINE. [Looking at herself in the mirror] That poor girl who died in California. Yes, I know. Don't you agree with him?
BAUDEL. I confess there is something she resembled you as the goose resembles the swan.
PAULINE. She would thank you for that!
BAUDEL. She lacked that grace, that distinction, that eminently aristocratic air !
PAULINE. Yet Montrichard says we might be taken for sisters.
BAUDEL. Your homely sister, perhaps!3 [He laughs]
PAULINE. Clever! But you're not at all gallant toward the woman you once loved you did once love Olympe, didn't you?
BAUDEL. Not in the least, but she was wild about me!
BAUDEL. I had the devil of a time making her listen to reason; she swore she was going to asphyxiate herself.
PAULINE. Is it possible? Perhaps it was because of you that she went to California?
BAUDEL. [Rising] I am afraid so. Such is life: we love those who do not love us, and do not love those who love us. You are now taking revenge for that poor creature, Mme. la Comtesse.
PAULINE. I thought I had forbidden that topic?
BAUDEL. What then shall I talk about?
PAULINE. [Laying the mirror on the sofa] Anything else. What did you think of the affair last night?
PAULINE. Take care, I'm laying a trap: I'm going to put your judgment to the test. What did you think of my neighbour?
PAULINE. The slim lady to my right, with a head like an ostrich's whose feet stuck out so from under her dress?
BAUDEL. That's not kind of you. Well, one would have to be the devil of a naturalist to class her as mammiferous.
PAULINE. Not bad. And the mistress of the house, with all her diamonds?
BAUDEL. I thought the diamonds superb.
PAULINE. Like her teeth: half of them false! [She rises]
BAUDEL. [To himself] What a change in her! [To PAULINE] You are a connoisseur, then, Countess?
PAULINE. Every woman is an amateur jewel connoisseur.
BAUDEL. Will you then kindly give me your opinion on this trifle?
PAULINE. Very beautiful. That pearl on the clasp is magnificent. But what are you doing with such a river of jewels?4
BAUDEL. Making it flow at the feet of the feet of
PAULINE. Some danseuse, I'll wager.
BAUDEL. At the feet of the most deserving.
PAULINE. How lucky she is! She holds up the necklace so that it sparkles.
BAUDEL. [To himself] She does look like Olympe!
PAULINE. You're a bad boy.
BAUDEL. Blame no one but yourself, Madame!5
PAULINE. You are too clever. This necklace looks a trifle tight.
BAUDEL. Do you think so?
PAULINE. Yes see! [She takes it from the box, then gets the mirror. BAUDEL, who has taken the box, lays it on the table and returns to PAULINE, who hands him the mirror. She then puts on the necklace] No, it's plenty large enough. [To herself, as she looks of herself in the glass] How it shows off the complexion!
BAUDEL. [Aside] Montrichard was right; great ladies are as fond of jewels as the others are. What he knows about women! Now I a Countess's lover that will certainly send me up in the world!
PAULINE. [Unclasping the necklace] Take your diamonds to your danseuse now!
BAUDEL. After they have touched your neck? It would be the vilest profanation!
PAULINE. Then what are you going to do with them?
BAUDEL. I shall keep them as a souvenir.
PAULINE. No, no, I wouldn't allow that.
BAUDEL. Then, Countess, there is but one thing to do: keep them yourself as a souvenir of me, since you object to my having one of you.
PAULINE. You're out of your senses! Are such things possible?
BAUDEL. Why ask? It's very simple. Would you not accept a bouquet of flowers? Diamonds are flowers which last a long time that is all.
PAULINE. Do you think my husband would look at it in that light?
BAUDEL. [Laying the box on the table at the right] You might tell him that they're paste.
PAULINE. [To herself] I never thought of that! What a fool I am; I forget that I have a hundred thousand francs income! [To BAUDEL] Let's not joke about it any longer, Monsieur. Take this back to the jeweller that will be best. [She gives him the necklace]
BAUDEL. [To himself.] Her husband, eh? [To HENRI] How are you, M. le Comte? You're just in time to clear up a mystery of which I am the victim.
HENRI. What is the mystery, Monsieur?
BAUDEL. Madame is trying to persuade me that these diamonds are only paste. [He hands HENRI the necklace.]
PAULINE. [To herself] Who would have thought it of him?
HENRI. I am no judge. [To the Countess.] Did you buy this, Madame?
PAULINE. Yes, because of the setting. It's an old one. Quite a bargain.
BAUDEL. I confess my ignorance, Madame, and I promise to keep the secret of the marvellous paste diamonds. It will be to my credit that others are deceived by them. Are you going to wear it tonight at Mme. de Ransberg's?
HENRI. Are you dining there, Monsieur?
BAUDEL. No, M. le Comte, but Montrichard is going to introduce me at the soirée afterward. I hope to make up at that time for not having seen you now, for I must go [Bowing] Mme. la Comtesse! M. le Comte! [To himself.] Things are going beautifully! [He goes out.]
HENRI. You have one great fault, Pauline: duplicity and you don't scruple to act on every occasion
PAULINE. I don't see ?
HENRI. Couldn't you tell me frankly if you wanted diamonds?
PAULINE. [To herself] Water seeks the river certainly in this case. 6
HENRI. I never refused you anything reasonable. As you are going into society, I realize you must have jewels, and if I have given you none so far, it was because I had not thought about it. But I repeat, I dislike this underhanded business.
PAULINE. [Taking it] I beg your pardon, dear. It was really so small a matter that I was ashamed to speak of it.
HENRI. How much do you need for other jewels?
PAULINE. Didn't your mother have a jewel-box?
HENRI. Her diamonds became sacred objects when she died: they are not jewels, but remembrances. [He goes to the left] Suppose I allow you fifty thousand francs? Is that enough?
PAULINE. Thank you. [A pause]
HENRI. [Returning] Has my aunt gone out yet?
PAULINE. Yes, with your uncle. May I ask where you have just come from?
HENRI. A walk in the country.
PAULINE. In those clothes?
HENRI. No, I changed them when I came back.
PAULINE. [Going to HENRI] Why didn't you take me?
HENRI. You don't like walking you prefer driving in the fashionable streets.
PAULINE. But the country must be lovely!
HENRI. It is.
PAULINE. In all the melancholy splendour of autumn!
HENRI. What dress are you going to wear to-night? [He goes to the fireplace]
PAULINE. Henry, you are vexed with me about something? What is it?
PAULINE. I ask you evidently there is something. I have surely done nothing have I given you reason to complain?
HENRI. Have I given you any cause to be offended?
PAULINE. The idea!
HENRI. Please, Madame, let us leave these petty family quarrels to the lower classes! You are too dignified to stoop to that.
PAULINE. I see: those awful suspicions are troubling you again!
HENRI. I have no suspicions.
PAULINE. You mean you are sure. Tell me, Henri; my conscience is perfectly clear, and I demand an explanation.
HENRI. No use, Madame, you will never have occasion to complain of my attitude.
PAULINE. That's complete estrangement, then! Do you think for one moment I'll accept that?
HENRI. What difference does it make to you?
PAULINE. Now, Henri, for the love of Heaven! Our happiness is at stake, don't you see? Let us both be frank. I'll set you an example: yes, in bringing you to Pilnitz, I knew we should meet your uncle.
HENRI. His secretary did tell me of a letter you had written him
PAULINE. [To herself] I thought so!
HENRI. But I didn't believe that: you promised me you didn't know you swore on your mother's soul.
PAULINE. I would have sworn on the soul of my own child, if I had had one, because you are dearer to me than the whole world, and my first duty is to make you happy! I wanted to bring you back into your proper surroundings again, and allow you to breathe the air that is natural to you that was my only crime.
HENRI. I appreciate what you have done.
PAULINE. But the way you say it! Do you for one moment imagine that I was prompted by personal pride that I wanted to play a part in society, and masquerade as a great society belle? An empty rôle, dear, and I am only too ready to relinquish it.
HENRI. I can believe it!
PAULINE. This artificial existence bores me.
HENRI. [Sitting down] I know.
PAULINE. Then what do you accuse me of?
HENRI. Nothing. [He goes to the right of the table and sits down again]
PAULINE. [Sitting by him on a little table] Come, Monsieur, you mustn't scowl! Kiss your wife, who loves only you. [She offers her forehead; HENRI touches it with his lips] Do you object to my little trick for getting the necklace? Don't scold me I don't deserve it. I'm not going to society affairs any more. Then, that matter of your mother's jewels that was tactless, indelicate of me. I should have realised that a saint's relics should belong only to an angel. Keep them, preserve them religiously, and if Heaven grants us the blessing of a daughter
HENRI. [Violently, as he rises] You a daughter! She might resemble you!
PAULINE. Henri! [She tries to stand up, but he forces her back to her place]
HENRI. Don't say a word! Let us have no more of this ridiculous farce! I know you only too well! All that virtue you assume so cleverly, your unselfishness, love, repentance the whole thing has fallen from you like a load, like thick paint in the warm atmosphere of this family circle! I can see! I am no longer the child you seduced!
PAULINE. [Standing up] You grow younger, my dear: you had reached years of discretion when you married me.
HENRI. [Sadly] Twenty-two! I had just lost my father, a man whose severity kept me a child when I should have been a young man. You were my first mistress I knew nothing of life, except what you taught me. I wasn't hard to deceive; I made an easy rung in the ladder of your ambition.
PAULINE. My ambition? Ha, how far has it gone? I'm really surprised at you! You might think I had lived a gay and merry life with you, alone for a year!
HENRI. You may well regret all the wasted hours, after what I have just found out. The society our family moves in is not exactly what you had expected, I know, and your disappointment has opened my eyes. You feel that this is not quite your place you feel ill at ease, out of your natural element; you cannot forgive the real society ladies for the superiority of their manners and their breeding . [PAULINE is about to speak] I can see how bitter you are from every word you speak. You cannot understand the true worth or the essential goodness of this family. You are bored, and as out of place as an unrepentant sinner in church
PAULINE. [Sharply] That will do! You don't love me, in other words. There is only one thing to do: separate on friendly terms.
HENRI. Separate? Never.
PAULINE. Are you doing me the honour to want my company?
HENRI. You bear my name, Madame, and I shall not allow it to be dragged in the gutter. [A pause ensues] Now let us quietly accept the result of our act. We are bound together: let us walk side by side, and try not to hate each other.
PAULINE. You will find that difficult.
HENRI. Never fear: if I cannot forget how you became Countess de Puygiron, I shall never lose sight of that fact that you are she. Now, I have already shown you too much of what I feel this explanation is at an end. Let us do our best to keep up appearances.
PAULINE. A nice life to look forward to, isn't it?
GENEVIÈVE. Pauline, aren't you going to dress? They're coming for us soon.
PAULINE. I forgot I was talking with Henri. I'll hurry, though. [She starts to go] Scold your cousin, dear; she wants to be an old maid!
PAULINE. Henri is another edition of myself. She wants to remain an old maid in order to be faithful to a childhood husband who deserted her for three dolls!
HENRI. [Troubled] Geneviève
GENEVIÈVE. I don't know what she means?
PAULINE. [To herself] How troubled they are!
HENRI. [To PAULINE] You'll never be ready in time!
PAULINE. [To herself] Ha, is he the childhood husband? I'll soon find out! [A gesture from HENRI] I'm going. You'll talk sense to her, won't you? [She goes out]
GENEVIÈVE. Pauline doesn't know what she's talking about. She can't imagine a girl's not wanting to marry without there being some mystery.
HENRI. Is it true that you don't intend to marry?
GENEVIÈVE. I don't exactly know, but I'm not prejudiced against marriage. I consider it the basis of home-life, if not a religion in itself, and I should be too proud to accept a master who would not be a god for me.
HENRI. You are right, Geneviève: wait for a man who is worthy of you.
GENEVIÈVE. My grand-parents have given me so splendid an example of married life that I'd rather a thousand times go into a convent than marry for the sake of convenience, or because it's the thing to do. Rather than accept the first man who happens along
HENRI. The worst misfortune that can befall a human being is an uncongenial marriage.
GENEVIÈVE. And I'm so happy here my people are so good to me! The man who takes me from my home will seem like a stranger it would be like leaving a temple for an inn.
HENRI. [To himself] Here was my happiness! So near at hand! [He turns aside, putting his hand over his eyes]
GENEVIÈVE. What are you thinking of?
HENRI. Nothing; I was looking at that portrait. [He indicates the MARQUISE' portrait, over the fireplace]
GENEVIÈVE. It seems to keep watch! How comforting it is! I feel that the whole house is protected by it.
HENRI. [To himself, as he looks at the portrait] She would have been my mother! [A servant enters, announces Madame Morin and goes out] Madame Morin?
IRMA. Where is she? Where is my daughter? How are you, son-in-law?
GENEVIÈVE. How glad Pauline will bet
IRMA. Where is she?
GENEVIÈVE. Dressing. Don't let her know you are here we'll give her a surprise.
IRMA. You must be her cousin, Mademoiselle? Fine young lady, well set-up! Kiss me, will you, angel?
GENEVIÈVE. Delighted, Madame. [She goes toward IRMA, but HENRI quickly steps between the two]
HENRI. To what do I owe the pleasure of seeing you, Madame?
IRMA. My maternal affection. [A carriage is heard outside]
GENEVIÈVE. Grandfather's coming. I'll tell him you're here. [She goes out]
HENRI. What do you want?
IRMA. Well have I a daughter or haven't I?
HENRI. You haven't any longer. She is dead to you: you have inherited everything she possessed.
IRMA. My dear, that inheritance has taken wings! I've speculated.
HENRI. I see. How much will you take to go?
IRMA. Heavens! He wants to buy a mother's love!
HENRI. I'll give you an income of fifteen hundred francs.
IRMA. I must have my daughter.
HENRI. Three thousand.
IRMA. You poor boy!
HENRI. Come, Madame, they'll be here shortly. Tell me how much you'll take.
IRMA. Five thousand.
HENRI. Very well. But you leave tomorrow morning?
IRMA. All right.
HENRI. Sh! Here's my uncle.
MARQUIS. I am very glad to see you, Mme. Morin.
IRMA. M. le Marquis, the honour is mine.
MARQUIS. As the mother of a charming daughter! True!
IRMA. Excuse my travelling clothes I should have fixed up a little, but I so wanted to see my girl!
MARQUIS. Very natural, but your Breton costume would have been dear to the eyes of an old Chouan. It was very wrong of you not to wear it.
HENRI. [To IRMA] Pretend to understand!
IRMA. Oh, one can't travel in such a costume.
MARQUIS. [To HENRI] She looks like a clothes-dealer but your wife will see to that. [Aloud] Will you see that Madame's room is made ready?
IRMA. A thousand thanks, M. le Marquis, but I'm only passing through the city. I must leave for Dantzig tomorrow morning.
MARQUIS. And why must you go to Dantzig so soon?
IRMA. To collect a debt of a hundred thousand francs. I'll lose it if I don't go tomorrow. Ask my son-in-law.
HENRI. That's so.
MARQUIS. Then I have nothing further to say. But you will see us on your return?
IRMA. You are too good, M. le marquis.
MARQUIS. I should like to know you better. We'll talk about Brittany in Breton.
IRMA. [To herself] Good Lord!
HENRI. I think it's time to go to Mme. de Ransberg's, Uncle. Pauline may stay with her mother: it will be an excellent excuse.
MARQUIS. Very true.
MARQUISE. You are very welcome, Madame.
MARQUIS. My wife Madame Morin.
IRMA. [Confused] Madame I this honour
MARQUISE. You find your daughter surrounded here only by friends, Madame.
IRMA. Oh, of course Madame Madame is too good!
PAULINE. Are you ready?
MARQUIS. You won't have to go, dear.
PAULINE. Why? [GENEVIÈVE takes her hand and conducts her to IRMA] Mother! [She steps back, looking nervously at the MARQUIS]
IRMA. Yes, dearie, it's me!
MARQUIS. [To the MARQUISE] We're in the way here. We are now obliged to leave you, Madame; we are dining out.
MARQUISE. We should be very sorry, Madame, to be in the way you must want to give free rein to your feelings.
IRMA. Oh, I please
GENEVIÈVE. [To PAULINE] What lovely diamonds!
MARQUIS. Well, well, Henri is gallant!
PAULINE. They're only paste I just thought it would be amusing to have them!
MARQUISE. Marvellous imitation that pearl especially! But, my dear, the Countess de Puygiron should never wear artificial pearls! Good evening, Madame.
PAULINE. Oh, Mother, how glad I am to see you! [She kisses her] What is going on in Paris? How is Céleste? And Clémence? And Taffétas? Ernest? Jules? Gontran? And how was the ballet at the Opéra? And the Maison d'Or? And the Mont-de-Piété?
IRMA. Oh, my!
PAULINE. I've been dying to know for a whole year! Let me take off my corsets! God, it's fine to talk with you, mother, for a minute!
IRMA. Pauline's herself again! I knew all this greatness wouldn't change you. You're always the same.
PAULINE. More than ever. Did the news of my death make much of a stir in Paris?
IRMA. I should say it did! What a lot of people went to your funeral! More than to La Fayette's! I was awfully proud to be your mother take my word for it!
PAULINE. Poor dear! But here I am rattling along maybe you'd like something to eat?
IRMA. Give me some fruit fresh. It's six o'clock.
PAULINE. I forgot happiness of seeing you! [She rings]
IRMA. I'm all excited!
PAULINE. Lay places for two. [To IRMA] Shall we eat here?
IRMA. Suits me down to the ground.
PAULINE. [To the servant, severely] You hear? And don't take an hour for it, either!
SERVANT. [To himself] As if I were a dog! [He goes out]
PAULINE. [Returning to IRMA] What did the girls think of my trick?
IRMA. They were all jealous of the gorgeous funeral. Clémence threw herself into my arms and cried: "The idea! Oh, my!"
PAULINE. Poor creature! Who's she with now?
IRMA. Don't talk about it! She's got better luck than an honest woman! A fine general: fifteen thousand a year!
PAULINE. I was a bigger fool than she! [The servant brings a table and sets it]
IRMA. Aren't you happy?
ADOLPHE. I beg your pardon, Mme. la comtesse, for the liberty I am taking of
PAULINE. Be seated, Monsieur.
ADOLPHE. The day after tomorrow our theatre is to give a performance for my benefit, and I thought that as a compatriot, you would be glad to take a box. Will you be so good as to accept this?
PAULINE. Many thanks, Monsieur. I am told that you do impersonations?
ADOLPHE. Yes, Madame, I owe my success in a foreign country to that.
PAULINE. If you are not occupied this evening, we should be delighted to hear you.
ADOLPHE. Charmed, Madame.
PAULINE. [To the servant] Bring me another glass, and then go. [The glass is brought and filled with wine] Here, M. Adolphe, drink this.
ADOLPHE. Thank you, Madame, but champagne does not agree with me.
IRMA. It's Cliquot, old man; you can't get drunk on that. Here's to you!
ADOLPHE. [After drinking] It's good!
IRMA. [Pouring out another glassful for him] Say, little one, you squint, don't you?
ADOLPHE. Yes, Madame, that squint was what induced me to go into comic impersonation.
MONTRICHARD. And is to give us the pleasure of hearing you! [ADOLPHE drinks]
PAULINE. Sing us a song, M. Adolphe.
ADOLPHE. Le Petit cochon de Barbaric? [IRMA again fills his glass]
PAULINE. No, a student song!
ADOLPHE. I don't know any.
MONTRICHARD. But you look as if you'd been a notary's clerk?
ADOLPHE. I have, Monsieur.
PAULINE. You have?
ADOLPHE. Yes, I come of a good family, Madame; my father was one of the biggest hardware merchants in Paris. He wanted me to go into the law, but an irresistible sense of vocation drove me to the boards. [He drinks]
MONTRICHARD. Your father must have been very angry?
ADOLPHE. He even refused to allow me to use his name said I was soiling it by dragging it before the footlights.
PAULINE. What is his name?
MONTRICHARD. It would have been downright sacrilege!
IRMA. Here's to you, then, son of Mathieu! I like you! You're not handsome and you're something of a fool, but you're nice and simple!
ADOLPHE. [Displeased] Madame!
IRMA. Now you mustn't be angry, little one! I was only joking! [She rises, holding a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other] You're good looking, good looking between squints!
PAULINE. Come now, let's put our elbows on the table and say foolish things! Why, I can almost imagine myself at the Provençaux I'm born again!
MONTRICHARD. [To himself] Homesickness for the mud!
IRMA. Can't see decently in here! And I don't like to say foolish things in the dark! [She hands the bottle to ADOLPHE]
MONTRICHARD. Someone'll get wounded!
PAULINE. [Taking a candle from the table and putting it in one of the candelabra] Let's light all the candles! Help me, Montrichard.
MONTRICHARD. I don't know how many there are but before long Irma's going to see thirty-six.
ADOLPHE. Well, I see fifteen. [PAULINE and MONTRICHARD stand on chairs at either side of the fireplace and light the large candelabra between which hangs the portrait]
IRMA. A picture? What is it?
PAULINE. A barometer.
IRMA. That barometer looks to me like an old lady.
MONTRICHARD. [To PAULINE] Hm! What if she should come in now?
PAULINE. Let them all come! They can send me to the devil with their five hundred thousand francs, if they like!
ADOLPHE. [Who has taken MONTRICHARD'S place] I'd like to suggest a toast.
IRMA. [Coming down-stage on the right] Go ahead, but try to be respectable.
MONTRICHARD. Wait for us. [Near the table] We're listening.
ADOLPHE. To that enchanting sex which is the charm and torment of our existence in a word: the ladies!
MONTRICHARD. You are rather forward, M. Adolphe!
IRMA. I call it risqué!
PAULINE. Comes from a fortunate man, evidently.
ADOLPHE. Yes, Madame
MONTRICHARD. You must have all sorts of affairs; a man like you, so exposed in the theatre
ADOLPHE. [Fatuously] I must admit that opportunities are not lacking.
MONTRICHARD. Then what is, for the love of Heaven?
ADOLPHE. I'm a respectable man: I'm married.
PAULINE. A very grave fault you must try to redeem yourself.
IRMA. And look after your wife! Take my advice!
ADOLPHE. I beg you, respect the mother of my children!
MONTRICHARD. Oh, Adolphe, hast thou children?
ADOLPHE. Three: all my living image!
PAULINE. I pity the youngest.
PAULINE. He has the longest time during which to resemble you!
MONTRICHARD. All children begin by looking like papa, and end by resembling their father!
IRMA. "The voice of blood" is a prejudice.
PAULINE. [Raising her glass] Down with prejudices!
MONTRICHARD. Down with hardware merchants!
ADOLPHE. Down with hardware merchants!
IRMA. Long live us!
MONTRICHARD. [To himself] And to think of all she did in order to become a countess!
PAULINE. [Dreamily] The dear old songs of my youth! Those lovely old dresses and scarves I used to wear! The dances at the Chaumière dinners at the Moulin-Rouge the old mill I used to throw my hat over! I can see a young girl living in an attic; one day she runs off over the fields to meet her lover for the first time. And the sun! "Open the door, please!"
IRMA. [Half-asleep] Ah!
MONTRICHARD. [To himself] I thought so!
ADOLPHE. [Rising, quite drunk] I tell you I'm not bad-looking!
PAULINE. Then you're a blackguardly imposter! Take off your false nose and your china eyes!
MONTRICHARD. Take off his head, while we're about it!
ADOLPHE. My wife thinks I'm very distinguished looking.
PAULINE. She's unfaithful to you!
ADOLPHE. Oh, if I thought so !
MONTRICHARD. You maybe sure she isn't, old man! You should never doubt your wife!
ADOLPHE. Would you swear it on the head of this respectable lady?
MONTRICHARD. Lend me your head, Irma; I should like to oblige this gentleman.
ADOLPHE. [Sobbing] How unhappy I am! She's deceiving me, I know !
PAULINE. How about your good looks, now, you fool?
IRMA. There's a fine comedian for you!
ADOLPHE. [Falling info IRMA'S arms] You, my mother, you understand me!
IRMA. [Repulsing him] Here now, you fool! Tell us something funny; you came here to make us laugh.
ADOLPHE. That's right well a baptism song! [He sings]:
[He stops, sobbing
again] My poor children! they are
PAULINE. What? Your children?
ADOLPHE. I bought my wife a cake yesterday, and I haven't paid the baker yet! [He falls down info his chair]
MONTRICHARD. [To himself] Poor devil!
IRMA. Look, Minette, he's a good-hearted fellow. He's ruining himself for women.
PAULINE. Don't cry, baby, we won't send you away empty-handed! Montrichard, give him my purse.
MONTRICHARD. [To PAULINE] Charity will be your ruin. [Giving ADOLPHE the purse] Here you are, old man.
ADOLPHE. [Rejecting it] No. Monsieur, no I receive money only from my manager when he gives it to me. This would be charity. Thank you, I come of a good family!
PAULINE. I feel so sorry for him. I don't like to see misery at such close quarters.
IRMA. If he's proud, it's his own loss!
PAULINE. What can I make him accept? [She quickly takes the pearl from her necklace and gives it to ADOLPHE] Here, baby, here's a little trinket for your wife. You can't refuse that.
ADOLPHE. You are very kind, Mme. la Comtesse. [He kisses her hand]
PAULINE. It's late you must go home now. Take him to the door, Montrichard. [IRMA fills ADOLPHE'S pockets with the remains of the dessert]
MONTRICHARD. Take my arm, M. Adolphe. [To himself] Olympe is herself again! God knows where she'll end now!
ADOLPHE. [To PAULINE] You're an angel. [To IRMA] You're both angels.
MONTRICHARD. Don't say that! They won't believe you!
ADOLPHE. [To MONTRICHARD] So are you!
MONTRICHARD. Of course I am. So are you an impossible angel. Come now, son of Mathieu! [They go out]
IRMA. [Yawning and stretching herself] What an idea! To give him an artificial pearl!
PAULINE. Artificial? It's worth at least a thousand francs.
IRMA. [Sitting up] A thousand francs? Are you crazy?
PAULINE. What of it? I didn't have anything else handy. [Brooding for an instant] It will bring me luck! My separation will be a success!
IRMA. Got a pack of cards around here?
PAULINE. [Taking a candelabrum and going toward the door leading to her room] Not here, but I have in my room. Why?
IRMA. [Following her] I want to try see how you'll succeed.
PAULINE. Do you still believe in card-tricks?
IRMA. Do I? That's the only thing that's dead certain!
IRMA. Stop it! You'll come to some bad end if you don't believe in something.
PAULINE. I rely on myself. [Taking up the candelabrum which she had set down]
IRMA. You're right; we must help ourselves; then Heaven will help us.
PAULINE. Yes, Heaven!
IRMA. Figuratively speaking. Now for the cards!
PAULINE. My separation!
SERVANT. Mme. la Comtesse asks M. le Baron to be good enough to wait a moment for her. Here are the newspapers. [He goes out]
MONTRICHARD. Do I arrive in the midst of a crisis? Hardly tactful, but what's the odds? If I don't succeed in marrying this lady, I can easily find another. Now I am really quite a catch. But then why should I marry at all?
PAULINE. How are you, M. de Corbeau?7
MONTRICHARD. Do I seem handsome8 to you?
PAULINE. As everything does which one is on the point of losing?
MONTRICHARD. Oh, have I been fortunate enough to cause you some anxiety, Mme. la Comtesse?
PAULINE. Even sleeplessness or rather, nightmares. How inconsiderate of you to stay at Homburg for a week without writing a line! I dreamed of you as having lost every sou, and your head was bound up in bloody bandages!
MONTRICHARD. And you shed a tear for me? Mourned by Olympe what an occasion for a beautiful death! I've always missed the exact occasion. Far from blowing out my brains, I blew up the bank!9
MONTRICHARD. As really as I have the honour to announce the news to you.
PAULINE. [Enthusiastically] What a man! And what luck! And you wonder why women love and admire you! If you were only willing, it wouldn't be that fool Baudel who'd abduct me !
MONTRICHARD. It would be that ass Montrichard but you would be a greater fool than he!
PAULINE. [Laughing] That's true enough.
MONTRICHARD. What is this joke about the abduction?
PAULINE. It's a very serious matter. I have made up my mind to kick over the traces, and I've chosen M. de Beauséjour as my accomplice.
MONTRICHARD. But I was told at his rooms this morning that he went away last night?
PAULINE. Yes to Nice.
MONTRICHARD. But why without you?
PAULINE. I remain to negotiate with the honourable family for an amicable separation.
MONTRICHARD. Which you hope to obtain?
PAULINE. Which I am sure to obtain. There is an element of chance, because I intend to impose my own conditions; but since yesterday I have found very persuasive arguments, and I assure you everything will be arranged. They thought that when I entered their family I dishonoured it! Watch my exit!
MONTRICHARD. But why didn't Baudel wait for you?
PAULINE. First, I wanted to get some precious possessions safe out of the way. He took them with him.
MONTRICHARD. Your diamonds?
PAULINE. Other things, too. Then he must find a place for me to stay. Do you think I want to stop at a hotel? I'm tired of this life of the past eighteen months. I'm going to make up for lost time, make no mistake about that!
MONTRICHARD. Poor Baudel! Be a good girl, now, Countess, and don't ruin the boy!
PAULINE. He will get just what he deserves, he, the prince of fools!
MONTRICHARD. But he's a dear child.
PAULINE. Think so? Do you know, he had the audacity to claim that he'd once been Olympe Taverny's lover?
MONTRICHARD. While as a matter of fact he only belonged to the number of those who had not?
PAULINE. Now, now
MONTRICHARD. I beg your pardon, Countess if I dare still call you by that name?
PAULINE. You may dare, old man; I'm not going to drop it.
MONTRICHARD. Maybe the Puygirons will drop it for you?
PAULINE. I'd rather give up my money. Their name's a gold mine, dear.
MONTRICHARD. But what if they offered some compensation?
PAULINE. They? Poor people! I don't advise them to. I tell you I have them!
MONTRICHARD. So tight as that?
PAULINE. Yes. I've not lost much time since you've been away: I've been working this last week.
MONTRICHARD. Oh, don't tell me
PAULINE. You're afraid of being dragged in as an accomplice?
MONTRICHARD. I want to be nothing in all this business but a sort of good genius and then
PAULINE. Then? What do you mean?
MONTRICHARD. That this marriage of mine Well, I'm not so anxious about it now.
MONTRICHARD. I'm not ready to make a fool of myself that way until I have nothing left with which to commit more follies. Now I have cash. In the second place, I don't think the young lady is especially attracted to me. If, therefore, she were forced to take me for want of a better, she would have her revenge on me! I should be paying dear! I'd rather she went into a convent than I!
PAULINE. I shan't insist, if you look at it in that light. And I must say the child doesn't love you she loves someone else.
MONTRICHARD. I suspected it.
PAULINE. Do you know who that someone else is? I give you a hundred guesses. My husband!
MONTRICHARD. Who said so? She?
PAULINE. She has no idea I know.
MONTRICHARD. How did this hopeless love take root?
PAULINE. It's not hopeless that's the nicest part of the business. She's taken it into her head that I'm a consumptive, that I haven't more than six months to live. I don't know where she got that idea!
MONTRICHARD. [To himself] I wonder!
PAULINE. And she's waiting for my death with angelic serenity. That's the way with these angels! Dealers in morality! Good Lord, we're better than they! Don't you think so?
MONTRICHARD. Well, between the person who sets a trap and the one who allows himself to be caught there's hardly a hair's difference. So, I get off scot-free, thanks to you
PAULINE. And now that you know how matters stand, be good enough to go away. My dressmaker is waiting for me: I must have a serious talk with her. You don't have to think hard to know I'm not going to show off on the Promenade des Anglais those monastic weeds that captured simple Henri's heart!
MONTRICHARD. Shall I see you again, then?
PAULINE. In this family, no, but I have a notion you'll walk into Nice some day and want to be set on your feet again.
MONTRICHARD. That reminds me! [Taking out his pocketbook] Will you do me a favour? Take this check on the Bank of France to Baudel. I intended to give it to him this morning as soon as he was up
PAULINE. For fifty thousand francs? What is this?
MONTRICHARD. A loan.
PAULINE. Do you still continue to pay your debts, you overgrown child?
MONTRICHARD. None of us is perfect!
PAULINE. If I were you, Baron, I should keep that little check for a rainy day.
MONTRICHARD. No, no, it might rain on me before it does on him, and I should be forced to use it. Let us keep our honour intact!
PAULINE. Take this back. I don't like to carry scraps of paper worth so much.
MONTRICHARD. Very well. I'll send it through the banker. Goodby, Contesina. [He kisses her hand]
PAULINE. Goodby, Baronino. [He goes out] What a queer mixture! I thought he had more backbone! Really, I think there is no perfect man!
PAULINE. Good morning, Geneviève.
GENEVIÈVE. I beg your pardon, I didn't see you! How are you this morning?
PAULINE. Very well, as usual.
GENEVIÈVE. As usual!
PAULINE. Were you looking for something?
GENEVIÈVE. A little gold key I lost yesterday.
PAULINE. The key to the famous box? The key to your heart?
GENEVIÈVE. That's the one.
PAULINE. I told you someone would steal it.
GENEVIÈVE. Oh, I'll find it.
PAULINE. [Putting on her hat] You can find everything except lost time
GENEVIÈVE. Are you going out?
PAULINE. To the dressmaker's.
GENEVIÈVE. Can you think of dresses ?
PAULINE. This is a happy day for me.
GENEVIÈVE. You're better, then?
PAULINE. Little Miss Obstinate, I'm as healthy as possible.
GENEVIÈVE. You said something very different the other day.
PAULINE. No matter what happens, don't forget that you've sworn never to repeat a single word of what I told you.
GENEVIÈVE. It's not fair to make me promise that please don't keep me to it.
PAULINE. I must. If you talk too much to your grandparents about me, they're likely to want to look after my welfare a little too carefully. I couldn't remain here! Now, let's say nothing more about it.
GENEVIÈVE. But I shall at least have done all I could?
PAULINE. Yes, your conscience may be clear! See you later, angel. [She goes out]
GENEVIÈVE. I have an idea but how can I open the subject with grandfather and grandmother? [She sits down, her head resting on her hand. She is plunged in thought] Oh, Henri! My dear Henri!
MARQUIS. [Pointing to GENEVIÈVE] What is she thinking about? Statue of meditation!
MARQUISE. She looks very sad.
MARQUIS. Very. What's the trouble, dear?
GENEVIÈVE. [Startled] I didn't know you were there!
MARQUISE. Didn't you hear us come in? What awful thought was absorbing you so?
MARQUIS. Has someone troubled you?
GENEVIÈVE. Oh, no.
MARQUISE. Do you want anything?
GENEVIÈVE. No. [Interrupting herself] That is
MARQUIS. That is yes. Come now, don't sulk what is it?
GENEVIÈVE. I want to see Italy!
MARQUIS. What? Italy right off, at once?
GENEVIÈVE. It's the spleen I don't like Vienna. I'll be sick if I stay here any longer.
MARQUISE. How long have you felt this way?
GENEVIÈVE. For a long time. I didn't intend to say anything about it I hoped I should get over the feeling. But it only gets worse. Please take me to Rome!
MARQUIS. This isn't reasonable!
MARQUISE. Silly idea of a spoiled child]
GENEVIÈVE. No, I declare it isn't. I must make that trip. I don't usually take advantage of your kindness, do I? You don't know what it's costing me now to ask you to break in on your quiet life, your regular habits
MARQUIS. Oh, our habits! The main consideration is that you should be happy, and it seems that you are not that here. What do you say, Madame?
MARQUISE. We are at home wherever Geneviève is happy.
GENEVIÈVE. Well, if you take me to Rome, I promise to sing like a song-bird from morning to night; you'll have me with you all day; there won't be any dances to deprive you of your granddaughter. We'll have such a good time together!
MARQUIS. All together!
GENEVIÈVE. You can teach Pauline and me whist.
MARQUIS. Is Pauline to come?
GENEVIÈVE. Of course it's to be a family party! Every evening you'll have your little game just as you do here, only it'll be nicer. I'll be your partner and you may scold me every time I make you lose a king. Here you don't dare scold grandmother!
MARQUIS. Well, I don't say no to that. If the Marquise consents, we'll talk it over later.
GENEVIÈVE. Talk it over?
MARQUIS. We must have some time to become accustomed to the idea.
GENEVIÈVE. And you will show me Rome yourself, grandfather. All young women go there with their husbands, who explain the sights to them. But I'd rather go with you.
MARQUISE. She's right, dear; we should take advantage of the time she is still with us.
MARQUIS. If someone had told me an hour ago that we should spend the winter in Rome I should certainly have been surprised!
GENEVIÈVE. Then you will? Oh, thank you!
MARQUISE. She's looking better already.
GENEVIÈVE. When do we leave?
MARQUIS. [Laughing] Give me my cane and hat.
MARQUISE. How much time will you give us to get ready?
GENEVIÈVE. I'll get ready for you you have only to step into the carriage.
MARQUIS. Give us a week.
GENEVIÈVE. Too long. You'd have time to change your mind!
MARQUISE. Four days?
MARQUIS. You'll sing, you say, from morning to night?
GENEVIÈVE. And I'll play whist with you. I'll read your paper. I'll do anything you like! I do love you so! [She throws herself info his arms]
MARQUISE. Really, I like the idea of this trip. Shall we leave tomorrow?
GENEVIÈVE. I gave you three days I'm reasonable! We must have time to persuade Pauline and Henri.
MARQUISE. I hardly think they'll object.
GENEVIÈVE. If they do well, you're the head of the family, grandfather; use your authority.
MARQUIS. It seems to me that you are the head of the family!
GENEVIÈVE. I warn you now that if Pauline doesn't come with us, I shan't go. If you're anxious for the trip you must induce her to come, too.
MARQUIS. Very well, Mademoiselle, I shall make use of my authority. [To the MARQUISE] When we have great-grandchildren, they'll make us walk about on all fours!
SERVANT. This gentleman [showing card] would like to see M. le Marquis.
MARQUIS. [Taking the card] Mathieu Adolphe. I don't know him. What does the gentleman look like?
SERVANT. He is an actor I once saw at a little theatre I believe he is the same one.
MARQUIS. What can he want with me? An artist, a Frenchman? Ask him to come in. [The servant goes out]
MARQUISE. [To GENEVIÈVE] Go to your room. [GENEVIÈVE goes out]
ADOLPHE. Forgive me for disturbing you, Monsieur and Madame. I wished to see Mme. la Comtesse, but she is out, and I took the liberty of
MARQUIS. Very glad to see you, my dear Monsieur I have always had a liking for artists.
ADOLPHE. I beg your pardon, Monsieur, but it is not as an artist that I come to see you, but as a man. You see before you a prodigal son who was drawn to the footlights by an irresistible sense of vocation, but who in leaving the stage has found again the position and manners befitting his status.
MARQUIS. [Dryly] That is different. What can I do for you?
ADOLPHE. Let us go back a little, if you please. I lately had the honour of sitting at your table.
MARQUIS. My table? Are you dreaming, Monsieur?
ADOLPHE. Not in the least. The scene there is no other word for it took place in this very room. There is the picture which we illuminated. [Looking at the MARQUISE] An excellent likeness, Madame, very noble! My compliments! Good portraits are so rare nowadays! I wanted to have one of Mme. Mathieu
MARQUIS. Indeed, Monsieur?
MARQUISE. When was this?
ADOLPHE. Last Saturday.
MARQUISE. [To her husband] The day Mme. Morin came. We were dining out.
ADOLPHE. Yes, you were not at home. There were four of us; your charming niece, an elderly lady very distinguished looking a gay gentleman, and your humble servant, who had the good fortune to happen in at the time.
MARQUIS. What brought you?
ADOLPHE. I came to offer a box for my benefit performance.
MARQUIS. Then why not come to the point at once, Monsieur? I don't go to the theatre any longer, but, as a compatriot, I am ready to subscribe.
ADOLPHE. Very kind of you, but the performance took place yesterday.
MARQUIS. Was it successful?
ADOLPHE. We didn't cover expenses.
MARQUISE. I see. What is the price of my box?
ADOLPHE. I was not asking for charity, Monsieur. My father was a gentleman, one of the largest hardware merchants in Paris.
MARQUIS. [Smiling] Noblesse oblige! I had no intention of offending you, Monsieur.
MARQUISE. We are ready to offer any excuses.
ADOLPHE. I ask for none, Madame.
MARQUIS. [Offering him a chair] Sit down. [Taking his snuff-box from his pocket and handing it to ADOLPHE] Will you have some snuff?
ADOLPHE. Just a pinch.
MARQUIS. How do you like it?
ADOLPHE. It's delicious! So where was I?
MARQUIS. At the table
ADOLPHE. Oh, yes. After dinner, I was asked to sing. Naturally, I couldn't think of receiving money for my services, because I acted in my capacity of man of the world. Then Mme. la comtesse induced me to accept this pearl as a present to my wife. [He takes the pearl from his pocket]
MARQUISE. [Quickly] Let me see it, Monsieur. [She takes it.] Didn't this belong to a diamond necklace?
ADOLPHE. Yes, Madame.
MARQUIS. [To himself] Very bad taste on her part!
ADOLPHE. I wanted to keep it as a souvenir, but you see I was counting on that blessed benefit yesterday to pay off some debts
MARQUIS. Are you in debt?
ADOLPHE. Gambling debts. [To himself] At the bakery! [To the others] They fall due in twenty-four hours, you understand, so that I had to take this to the jeweller's.
MARQUIS. And he told you what it was worth?
ADOLPHE. Yes, Monsieur. Now, I can hardly believe that Mme. la comtesse intended to make me so valuable a present.
MARQUIS. So valuable!
ADOLPHE. The jeweller offered me a thousand florins.
MARQUISE. Then it's real. [She knocks the pearl against the table] Yes, it is!
MARQUIS. What does this mean?
ADOLPHE. What do you think? That I came here to ask for money? Nothing of the kind!
MARQUIS. You bring it! Shake hands, Monsieur, you are a true gentleman. As for that pearl, my niece did know what she was doing when she gave it to you it is yours. But please allow me to buy it from you. I should like to return it to her.
ADOLPHE. Ah, M. le marquis!
MARQUISE. [To the MARQUIS] Poor fellow, he's so embarrassed!
MARQUIS. Since you seem to like my snuff, allow me to present the box to you as a souvenir. [He takes-out his snuff-box]
ADOLPHE. M. le marquis, I promise you I shall always keep it.
MARQUIS. Au revoir, my friend.
ADOLPHE. Then you will allow me to come and see you occasionally?
MARQUIS. Honest people like yourself are always welcome in the homes of honest people like ourselves,
ADOLPHE. M. le marquis, you have given me a signal honour!
MARQUIS. [Laughing] The Order of the Snuff-box. [ADOLPHE goes out] A fine fellow and he carries away with him one of my old-fashioned prejudices. [HENRI enters] Here, nephew, give this pearl to your wife, and ask her not to play any more tricks on us. In other words, ask her not to try to deceive us with any more paste imitations!
HENRI. [Going to the MARQUISE] What's this?
MARQUISE. This pearl is real; so are the diamonds, in all probability.
HENRI. Then why did she lie to us?
MARQUISE. Probably she was afraid you would scold her for her extravagance.
HENRI. I gave her fifty thousand francs with which to buy jewels. She should have told me she'd spent some of the money in advance.
MARQUISE. False pride, perhaps.
MARQUIS. Here she is. I shall take particular pleasure in making it embarrassing for her!
You're just in time, niece. We were speaking of your paste imitations and marvelling at the immense progress in chemistry.
PAULINE. [Taking off her hat and shawl] Diamonds are so cleverly imitated that it is almost impossible to distinguish the artificial ones from the real.
MARQUIS. Will you show me your necklace?
PAULINE. I haven't it any longer I sent it back to the jeweller's.
PAULINE. Madame told me that the Countess de Puygiron should not wear artificial jewels.
MARQUISE. Take care, child.
MARQUISE. No, I don't want to see her any more involved in her lie. We know that the stones are real.
PAULINE. Well I confess
MARQUIS. That you haven't returned them to the jeweller's?
PAULINE. I did return them! Yes! I was afraid the trick would be discovered so I put an end to all that nonsense!
HENRI. How much did you lose on the exchange?
HENRI. Nothing at all?
PAULINE. Of course not.
HENRI. Not even the price of this pearl? [He shows her the pearl]
PAULINE. [To herself] The devil! [To the others] I didn't want you to know I was going to pay for it out of my savings.
HENRI. Where does the jeweller live?
PAULINE. Never mind, I'll see to it.
HENRI. Where does he live?
PAULINE. Monsieur, the way you insist !
HENRI. Answer me and don't lie!
PAULINE. Do you suspect something?
HENRI. [Violently] Yes, I suspect that these diamonds were given you by M. de Beauséjour!
PAULINE. Oh, Henri!
MARQUISE. Remember, she's your wife!
HENRI. If I am mistaken, let her give me the address of the jeweller, and I'll make sure at once.
PAULINE. No, Monsieur, I refuse to stoop in order to justify myself. Your suspicion is too vile. Believe what you like.
HENRI. You forget that you have no right to be so haughty about it.
PAULINE. And why, if you please? I defy you to say!
HENRI. You defy me?
MARQUIS. You don't know what you are saying, my boy. It is very wrong, of course, for your wife to be so obstinate, but what the devil! think of it; you're accusing her of an infamy!
MARQUISE. [To PAULINE] Pauline, take pity on him! He doesn't know what he is saying. Prove that he's wrong.
PAULINE. No, Madame, I shan't say another word.
HENRI. She's vile! She sold herself!
MARQUIS. Henri, your conduct is not that of a gentleman! Ask your wife's pardon.
HENRI. I beg your pardon all of you! That woman is Olympe Taverny! [The MARQUIS is thunderstruck. The MARQUISE stands at his side. PAULINE is at the right, HENRI of the left. HENRI goes to his uncle, and falls to his knees] Forgive me, father, for having dishonoured the name you bear, for having allowed that woman to impose on me, for having polluted this pure house by her presence!
MARQUIS. I disown you!
MARQUISE. But he loved her then, and thought her worthy of us, because he believed her worthy of himself. This marriage was the fault of his youth, not a crime against his honour as a man. Don't disown him, dear he is very unhappy!
HENRI. A duel to the end with M. de Beauséjour now pistols ten paces!
MARQUIS. Good! I'll be your second! [HENRI goes out. The MARQUIS opens a drawer and takes out a case of pistols, which he places on the table in silence]
PAULINE. Don't trouble to get those ready, M. le marquis. Your nephew is not going to challenge M. de Beauséjour, for the excellent reason that M. de Beauséjour left Vienna last night. I have just now allowed Henri to leave, because his presence here would have interfered with an explanation which we are going to have.
MARQUIS. An explanation between us, Mademoiselle? Your explanation will be made in court.
PAULINE. I can easily imagine that you would like to drag me into court that is what I should like to discuss. There is one point which you know nothing of: I shall enlighten you.
MARQUIS. The lawyer will see to that. Leave us.
PAULINE. Very well. [To the MARQUISE] Will you be kind enough to give Mlle. Geneviève this gold key? She has been looking for it since yesterday.
MARQUISE. The key to the box?
PAULINE. Which contains the record of her heart's history.
MARQUISE. How do you happen to have it?
PAULINE. I simply took it. Indelicate of me, was it not? You see, I have not been well brought up. I thought I should find in that box just the weapons I might need some day. I was not mistaken. Will Mme. la marquise be pleased to hear some extracts? [She gives the MARQUISE a slip of paper]
MARQUIS. Another blackguardly trick!
PAULINE. A rather brutal way of putting it! But I am not one to defend your granddaughter!
MARQUISE. [Unfolding the paper] This isn't her handwriting!
PAULINE. You don't think I'm foolish enough to let you have the original? That is in safe-keeping, in Paris. Read.
MARQUISE. [Reading] "April 17. What is happening to me? Henri doesn't love Pauline any more. He loves me "
MARQUIS. [To his wife] Would Henri be so !
PAULINE. Undignified as to make love to his cousin? Looks like it, doesn't it? But you needn't worry: I told her.
MARQUIS. You, Madame?
PAULINE. And I told no more than the truth.
MARQUIS. [To his wife] Does Henri love his cousin?
MARQUISE. [Reading] " I love him. Oh, now I am sure I have never felt otherwise toward him " Poor dear! "God have pity on me! That love is a crime! Grant me the power to tear it from my heart! I considered him dead! Why has he come back again?"
MARQUIS. [To PAULINE] Yes, why?
PAULINE. Continue, you will hear!
MARQUISE. [Reading] "April 20. My heart is deeply troubled: what can I do with this love which, after all, might become legitimate? He will always feel remorse. He is dishonoured by the fearful hope which he feels in spite of me. But is it my fault if Pauline cannot recover from the illness that is killing her?"
MARQUIS. You again? [PAULINE bows]
MARQUISE. That is why she wanted to have us all to go to Italy!
MARQUIS. [To PAULINE] If a man were capable of such infamy, I'd shoot him like a dog! But a woman, it seems, may do anything!
PAULINE. [To the MARQUIS, smiling] It is most fortunate that we have the privileges accorded us by reason of our weakness, you must admit. But to return to your granddaughter: I think the reading of her little romance will attract more admirers than husbands. Don't worry, though, I shan't publish this precious document unless you force me to and you won't do that, I'm sure.
MARQUIS. Make your conditions, Madame.
PAULINE. At last, thank God, you are reasonable. I shall follow suit. All I ask is an amicable separation, and that I keep the money agreed on in my contract.
MARQUIS. You will not use our name?
PAULINE. Oh, M. le marquis, I realise its value!
MARQUIS. We shall pay you!
PAULINE. You are not rich enough. And what would you think of me for selling the title? No, I have it and I intend to keep it. An amicable separation cannot take from me what a legal one cannot you must at least be just.
MARQUISE. [To her husband] She has us bound, hand and foot!
MARQUIS. Very well!
PAULINE. Now we are agreed. You must arrange it all with Henri. I'll rid you of my company at once. [She turns to go]
MARQUIS. One moment first we must have Geneviève's diary.
PAULINE. I told you it was in Paris.
MARQUIS. Write to the receiver of stolen goods to return it at once.
PAULINE. Nothing is simpler. But, really, if I give up my only weapon, what guarantee shall I have ?
MARQUIS. My word as a gentleman.
PAULINE. Good; between people of honour a given word is enough. Well, I give you my word that I shall not misuse my precious treasure. What would be the good for me?
MARQUIS. The pleasure of revenge. You must hate us, for you realise how we despise you.
PAULINE. Is that the way you hope to persuade me?
MARQUISE. The Marquis uses strong expressions it's very wrong of him. Be kind, Madame! Please, for our dear grandchild's sake, take pity on our gray hairs! I shall pray for you!
PAULINE. [Smiling] Good for evil, Madame!
MARQUIS. That will do, Marquise! [He passes in front of PAULINE , without looking at her. To the MARQUISE] Leave me alone with her.
MARQUISE. But, my dear
MARQUIS. [Conducting the MARQUISE to the door] Leave us! [The MARQUISE goes out. The MARQUIS sends her a long kiss with his two hands, and comes down-stage again]
PAULINE. You're pale, M. le marquis.
MARQUIS. [His arms crossed as he stands immovable] You would be paler than I if you knew what I was thinking!
PAULINE. Ah, threats?
MARQUIS. [Slowly] We have begged, but there was no use. My dear saint of a wife has prostrated herself before you.
MARQUIS. [About to seize her] Well, you damned ! [He stops] Our salvation lies in our own hands now, understand?
PAULINE. I'm not afraid; I've gagged bigger men than you.
MARQUIS. [Staccato] Write as I dictate.
PAULINE. [Shrugging her shoulders] You're dawdling, Marquis.
MARQUIS. Write this instant, do you hear me? Tomorrow will be too late!
MARQUIS. Because if once my granddaughter's secret is known, the only possible reparation will be her marriage with your husband, and, by God, if that happens, she shall marry him!
PAULINE. [Smiling] You mean that you'll suppress me? My dear Monsieur, do you take me for a child? [She tries to go]
MARQUIS. [Laying his hand on the pistols] Take care!
PAULINE. Why? Don't mind about those pistols they're not loaded. Now let's stop trifling you're bound to lose in the end.
MARQUIS. [Composing himself] Write as I tell you, and I will give you half a million francs.
PAULINE. You offer to buy my artillery on the day of battle? Your humble servant. Adieu, dear Uncle [She goes toward the door at the left]
MARQUIS. [Taking up a pistol] If you try to pass that door, I will kill you.
PAULINE. [On the threshold, as she hums an air from "Les Etudiants":]
MARQUIS. [Fires. PAULINE screams and falls, outside the door. The MARQUIS takes another pistol and loads it] God is my judge!