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    Act II

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    Chapter 3
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    MASC. I have at length yielded to your desires. In spite of all my protestations I could hold out no longer; I am going to venture upon new dangers, to promote your interest, which I intended to abandon. So tender-hearted am I! If dame nature had made a girl of Mascarille, I leave you to guess what would have happened. However, after this assurance, do not deal a back stroke to the project I am about to undertake; do not make a blunder and frustrate my expectations. Then, as to Anselmo, we shall anew present your excuses to him, in order to get what we desire. But should your imprudence burst forth again hereafter, then you may bid farewell to all the trouble I take for the object of your passion.

    LEL. No, I shall be careful, I tell you; never fear; you shall see....

    MASC. Well, mind that you keep your word. I have planned a bold stratagem for your sake. Your father is very backward in satisfying all your wishes by his death. I have just killed him (in words, I mean); I have spread a report that the good man, being suddenly smitten by a fit of apoplexy, has departed this life. But first, so that I might the better pretend he was dead, I so managed that he went to his barn. I had a person ready to come and tell him that the workmen employed on his house accidentally discovered a treasure, in digging the foundations. He set out in an instant, and as all his people, except us two, have gone with him into the country, I shall kill him to-day in everybody's imagination and produce some image which I shall bury under his name. I have already told you what I wish you to do; play your part well; and as to the character I have to keep up, if you perceive that I miss one word of it, tell me plainly I am nothing but a fool.

    SCENE II.--LELIO, alone.

    It is true, he has found out a strange way to accomplish my wishes fully; but when we are very much in love with a fair lady, what would we not do to be made happy? If love is said to be an excuse for a crime, it may well serve for a slight piece of imposture, which love's ardour to-day compels me to comply with, in expectation of the happy consequences that may result from it. Bless me! How expeditious they are. I see them already talking together about it; let us prepare to act our part.


    MASC. The news may well surprise you.

    ANS. To die in such a manner!

    MASC. He was certainly much to blame. I can never forgive him for such a freak.

    ANS. Not even to take time to be ill.

    MASC. No, never was a man in such a hurry to die.

    ANS. And how does Lelio behave?

    MASC. He raves, and has lost all command over his temper; he has beaten himself till he is black and blue in several places, and wishes to follow his father into the grave. In short, to make an end of this, the excess of his grief has made me with the utmost speed wrap the corpse in a shroud, for fear the sight, which fed his melancholy, should tempt him to commit some rash act.

    ANS. No matter, you ought to have waited until evening. Besides, I should have liked to see Pandolphus once more. He who puts a shroud on a man too hastily very often commits murder; for a man is frequently thought dead when he only seems to be so.

    MASC. I warrant him as dead as dead can be. But now, to return to what we were talking about, Lelio has, resolved (and it will do him good) to give his father a fine funeral, and to comfort the deceased a little for his hard fate, by the pleasure of seeing that we pay him such honours after his death. My master inherits a goodly estate, but as he is only a novice in business, and does not see his way clearly in his affairs, since the greater part of his property lies in another part of the country, or what he has here consists in paper, he would beg of you, after having entreated you to excuse the too great violence which he has shewn of late, to lend him for this last duty at least....

    ANS. You have told me so already, and I will go and see him.

    MASC. (Alone). Hitherto, at least, everything goes on swimmingly; let us endeavour to make the rest answer as well; and lest we should be wrecked in the very harbour, let us steer the ship carefully and keep a sharp look out.


    ANS. (Coming out of Pandolphus' house). Let us leave the house. I cannot, without great sorrow, see him wrapped up in this strange manner. Alas! in so short a time! He was alive this morning.

    MASC. We go sometimes over a good deal of ground in a short time.

    LEL. (Weeping). Oh!

    ANS. Dear Lelio, he was but a man after all; even Rome can grant no dispensation from death.

    LEL. Oh!

    ANS. Death smites men without giving warning, and always has bad designs against them.

    LEL. Oh!

    ANS. That merciless foe would not loosen one grip of his murderous teeth, however we may entreat him. Everybody must feel them.

    LEL. Oh!

    MASC. Your preaching will all be in vain; this sorrow is too deep-rooted to be plucked up.

    ANS. If, notwithstanding all these arguments, you will not cast aside your grief, at least, my dear Lelio, endeavour to moderate it.

    LEL. Oh!

    MASC. He will not moderate it; I know his temper.

    ANS. However, according to your servant's message, I have brought you the money you want, so that you might celebrate your father's funeral obsequies!

    LEL. Oh! oh!

    MASC. How his grief increases at these words! It will kill him to think of his misfortune.

    ANS. I know you will find by the good man's books that I owe him a much larger sum, but even if I should not owe anything, you could freely command my purse. Here it is; I am entirely at your service, and will show it.

    LEL. (Going away). Oh!

    MASC. How full of grief is my master!

    ANS. Mascarille, I think it right he should give me some kind of receipt under his hand.

    MASC. Oh!

    ANS. Nothing in this world is certain.

    MASC. Oh! oh!

    ANS. Get him to sign me the receipt I require.

    MASC. Alas! How can he comply with your desire in the condition he now is? Give him but time to get rid of his sorrow; and, when his troubles abate a little, I shall take care immediately to get you your security. Your servant, sir, my heart is over full of grief, and I shall go to take my fill of weeping with him. Hi! Hi!

    ANS. (Alone). This world is full of crosses; we meet with them every day in different shapes, and never here below...


    ANS. Oh Heavens! how I tremble! It is Pandolphus who has returned to the earth! God grant nothing disturbed his repose! How wan his face is grown since his death! Do not come any nearer. I beseech you; I very much detest to jostle a ghost.

    PAND. What can be the reason of this whimsical terror?

    ANS. Keep your distance, and tell me what business brings you here. If you have taken all this trouble to bid me farewell, you do me too much honour; I could really have done very well without your compliment. If your soul is restless, and stands in need of prayers. I promise you you shall have them, but do not frighten me. Upon the word of a terrified man, I will immediately set prayers agoing for you, to your very heart's content.

    "Oh, dead worship, please to go! Heaven, if now you disappear, Will grant you joy down there below, And health as well, for many a year."

    [Footnote: This seems to be an imitation of a spell, charm, or incantation to lay the supposed ghost, which Anselmo says kneeling and hardly able to speak for terror.]

    PAND. (Laughing). In spite of my indignation, I cannot help laughing.

    ANS. It is strange, but you are very merry for a dead man.

    PAND. Is this a joke, pray tell me, or is it downright madness to treat a living man as if he were dead?

    ANS. Alas! you must be dead; I myself just now saw you.

    PAND. What? Could I die without knowing it?

    ANS. As soon as Mascarille told me the news, I was ready to die of grief.

    PAND. But, really, are you asleep or awake? Don't you know me?

    ANS. You are clothed in an aerial body which imitates your own, but which may take another shape at any moment. I am mightily afraid to see you swell up to the size of a giant, and your countenance become frightfully distorted. For the love of God, do not assume any hideous form; you have scared me sufficiently for the nonce.

    PAND. At any other time, Anselmo, I should have considered the simplicity which accompanies your credulity an excellent joke, and I should have carried on the pleasant conceit a little longer; but this story of my death, and the news of the supposed treasure, which I was told upon the road had not been found at all, raises in my mind a strong suspicion that Mascarille is a rogue, and an arrant rogue, who is proof against fear or remorse, and who invents extraordinary stratagems to compass his ends.

    ANS. What! Am I tricked and made a fool of? Really, this would be a compliment to my good sense! Let me touch him and be satisfied. This is, indeed, the very man. What an ass I am! Pray, do not spread this story about, for they will write a farce about it, and shame me for ever. But, Pandolphus, help me to get the money back which I lent them to bury you.

    PAND. Money, do you say? Oh! that is where the shoe pinches; that is the secret of the whole affair! So much the worse for you. For my part, I shall not trouble myself about it, but will go and lay an information against this Mascarille, and if he can be caught he shall be hanged, whatever the cost may be.

    ANS. (Alone). And I, like a ninny, believe a scoundrel, and must in one day lose both my senses and my money. Upon my word, it well becomes me to have these gray hairs and to commit an act of folly so readily, without examining into the truth of the first story I hear...! But I see....


    LEL. Now, with this master-key, I can easily pay Trufaldin a visit.

    ANS. As far as I can see, your grief has subsided.

    LEL. What do you say? No; it can never leave a heart which shall ever cherish it dearly.

    ANS. I came back to tell you frankly of a mistake I made in the money I gave you just now; amongst these louis-d'or, though they look very good, I carelessly put some which I think are bad. I have brought some money with me to change them. The intolerable audacity of our coiners is grown to such a height in this state, that no one can receive any money now without danger of his being imposed upon. It would be doing good service to hang them all!

    LEL. I am very much obliged to you for being willing to take them back, but I saw none among them that were bad, as I thought.

    ANS. Let me see the money; let me see it; I shall know them again. Is this all?

    LEL. Yes.

    ANS. So much the better. Are you back again? my dear money! get into my pocket. As for you, my gallant sharper, you have no longer got a penny of it. You kill people who are in good health, do ye? And what would you have done, then, with me, a poor infirm father-in-law? Upon my word, I was going to get a nice addition to my family, a most discreet son-in-law. Go, go, and hang yourself for shame and vexation.

    LEL. (Alone). I really must admit I have been bit this time. What a surprise this is! How can he have discovered our stratagem so soon?


    MASC. What, you were out? I have been hunting for you everywhere. Well, have we succeeded at last? I will give the greatest rogue six trials to do the like. Come, give me the money that I may go and buy the slave; your rival will be very much astonished at this.

    LEL. Ah! my dear boy, our luck has changed. Can you imagine how ill fortune has served me?

    MASC. What? What can it be?

    LEL. Anselmo having found out the trick, just now got back every sou he lent us, pretending some of the gold-pieces were bad, and that he was going to change them.

    MASC. You do but joke, I suppose?

    LEL. It is but too true.

    MASC. In good earnest?

    LEL. In good earnest; I am very much grieved about it. It will put you into a furious passion.

    MASC. Me, sir! A fool might, but not I! Anger hurts, and I am going to take care of myself, come what will. After all, whether Celia be captive or free, whether Leander purchases her or whether she remains where she is, I do not care one stiver about it.

    LEL. Ah! do not show such indifference, but be a little more indulgent to my slight imprudence. Had this last misfortune not happened, you would have confessed that I did wonders, and that in this pretended decease I deceived everybody, and counterfeited grief so admirably that the most sharp-sighted would have been taken in.

    MASC. Truly you have great reason to boast.

    LEL. Oh! I am to blame, and I am willing to acknowledge it; but if ever you cared for my happiness, repair this mishap, and help me.

    MASC. I kiss your hands, I cannot spare the time.

    LEL. Mascarille, my dear boy!

    MASC. No.

    LEL. Do me this favour.

    MASC. No, I will not.

    LEL. If you are inflexible, I shall kill myself.

    MASC. Do so--you may.

    LEL. Can I not soften your hard heart?

    MASC. No.

    LEL. Do you see my sword ready drawn?

    MASC. Yes.

    LEL. I am going to stab myself.

    MASC. Do just what you please.

    LEL. Would you not regret to be the cause of my death?

    MASC. No.

    LEL. Farewell, Mascarille.

    MASC. Good bye, Master Lelio.

    LEL. What...?

    MASC. Kill yourself quick. You are a long while about it.

    LEL. Upon my word, you would like me to play the fool and kill myself, so that you might get hold of my clothes.

    MASC. I knew all this was nothing but a sham; whatever people may swear they will do, they are not so hasty now-a-days in killing themselves.


    (Trufaldin taking Leander aside and whispering to him).

    LEL. What do I see? my rival and Trufaldin together! He is going to buy Celia. Oh! I tremble for fear.

    MASC. There is no doubt that he will do all he can; and if he has money, he can do all he will. For my part I am delighted. This is a just reward for your blunders, your impatience.

    LEL. What must I do? Advise me.

    MASC. I don't know.

    LEL. Stay, I will go and pick a quarrel with him.

    MASC. What good will that do?

    LEL. What would you have me do to ward off this blow?

    MASC. Well, I pardon you; I will yet cast an eye of pity on you. Leave me to watch them; I believe I shall discover what he intends to do by fairer means. (Exit Lelio).

    TRUF. (To Leander). When you send by and by, it shall be done.

    MASC. (Aside and going out). I must trap him and become his confidant, in order to baffle his designs the more easily.

    LEAND. (Alone). Thanks to Heaven, my happiness is complete. I have found the way to secure it, and fear nothing more. Whatever my rival may henceforth attempt, it is no longer in his power to do me any harm.


    MASC. (Speaking these words within, and then coming on the stage). Oh! oh! Help! Murder! Help! They are killing me! Oh! oh! oh! oh! Traitor! Barbarian!

    LEAND. Whence comes that noise? What is the matter? What are they doing to you?

    MASC. He has just given me two hundred blows with a cudgel.

    LEAND. Who?

    MASC. Lelio.

    LEAND. And for what reason?

    MASC. For a mere trifle he has turned me away and beats me most unmercifully.

    LEAND. He is really much to blame.

    MASC. But, I swear, if ever it lies in my power I will be revenged on him. I will let you know, Mr. Thrasher, with a vengeance, that people's bones are not to be broken for nothing! Though I am but a servant, yet I am a man of honour. After having been in your service for four years you shall not pay me with a switch, nor affront me in so sensible a part as my shoulders! I tell you once more, I shall find a way to be revenged! You are in love with a certain slave, you would fain induce me to get her for you, but I will manage matters so that somebody else shall carry her off; the deuce take me if I don't!

    LEAND. Hear me, Mascarille, and moderate your passion. I always liked you, and often wished that a young fellow, faithful and clever like you, might one day or other take a fancy to enter my service. In a word, if you think my offer worthy of acceptance, and if you have a mind to serve me, from this moment I engage you.

    MASC. With all my heart, sir, and so much the rather because good fortune in serving you offers me an opportunity of being revenged, and because in my endeavours to please you I shall at the same time punish that wretch. In a word, by my dexterity, I hope to get Celia for...

    LEAND. My love has provided already for that. Smitten by a faultless fair one, I have just now bought her for less than her value.

    MASC. What! Celia belongs to you, then?

    LEAND. You should see her this minute, if I were the master of my own actions. But alas! it is my father who is so; since he is resolved, as I understand by a letter brought me, to make me marry Hippolyta. I would not have this affair come to his knowledge lest it should exasperate him. Therefore in my arrangement with Trufaldin (from whom I just now parted), I acted purposely in the name of another. When the affair was settled, my ring was chosen as the token, on the sight of which Trufaldin is to deliver Celia. But I must first arrange the ways and means to conceal from the eyes of others the girl who so much charms my own, and then find some retired place where this lovely captive may be secreted.

    MASC. A little way out of town lives an old relative of mine, whose house I can take the freedom to offer you; there you may safely lodge her, and not a creature know anything of the matter.

    LEAND. Indeed! so I can: you have delighted me with the very thing I wanted. Here, take this, and go and get possession of the fair one. As soon as ever Trufaldin sees my ring, my girl will be immediately delivered into your hands. You can then take her to that house, when... But hist! here comes Hippolyta.


    HIPP. I have some news for you, Leander, but will you be pleased or displeased with it?

    LEAND. To judge of that, and make answer off-hand, I should know it.

    HIPP. Give me your hand, then, as far as the church, and I will tell it you as we go.

    [Footnote: Generally it was thought preferable, during Molière's lifetime, to use the word temple for "church," instead of église.]

    LEAND. (To Mascarille). Go, make haste, and serve me in that business without delay.


    Yes, I will serve you up a dish of my own dressing. Was there ever in the world so lucky a fellow. How delighted Lelio will be soon! His mistress to fall into our hands by these means! To derive his whole happiness from the man he would have expected to ruin him! To become happy by the hands of a rival! After this great exploit, I desire that due preparations be made to paint me as a hero crowned with laurel, and that underneath the portrait be inscribed in letters of gold: Vivat Mascarillus, rogum imperator.


    MASC. Soho, there!

    TRUF. What do you want?

    MASC. This ring, which you know, will inform you what business brings me hither.

    TRUF. Yes, I recognise that ring perfectly; stay a little, I will fetch you the slave.


    MESS. (To Trufaldin). Do me the favor, sir, to tell me where lives a gentleman....

    TRUF. What gentleman?

    MESS. I think his name is Trufaldin.

    TRUF. And what is your business with him, pray? I am he.

    MESS. Only to deliver this letter to him.

    TRUF. (Reads). "Providence, whose goodness watches over my life, has just brought to my ears a most welcome report, that my daughter, who was stolen from me by some robbers when she was four years old, is now a slave at your house, under the name of Celia. If ever you knew what it was to be a father, and if natural affection makes an impression on your heart, then keep in your house this child so dear to me, and treat her as if she were your own flesh and blood. I am preparing to set out myself in order to fetch her. You shall be so well rewarded for your trouble, that in everything that relates to your happiness (which I am determined to advance) you shall have reason to bless the day in which you caused mine."


    From Madrid. Marquess of MONTALCANA

    Though the gipsies can be seldom believed, yet they who sold her to me told me she would soon be fetched by somebody, and that I should have no reason to complain. Yet here I was going, all through my impatience, to lose the fruits of a great expectation. (To the Messenger). Had you come but one moment later, your journey would have been in vain; I was going, this very instant, to give the girl up into this gentleman's hands; but it is well, I shall take great care of her. (Exit Messenger). (To Mascarille). You yourself have heard what this letter says, so you may tell the person who sent you that I cannot keep my word, and that he had better come and receive his money back.

    MASC. But the way you insult him...

    TRUF. Go about your business, and no more words.

    MASC. (Alone). Oh, what a curse that this letter came now! Fate is indeed against me. What bad luck for this messenger to come from Spain when he was not wanted! May thunder and hail go with him! Never, certainly, had so happy a beginning such a sad ending in so short a time.


    MASC. What may be the cause of all this mirth?

    LEL. Let me have my laugh out before I tell you.

    MASC. Let us laugh then heartily, we have abundant cause so to do.

    LEL. Oh! I shall no longer be the object of your expostulations: you who always reproach me shall no longer say that I am marrying all your schemes, like a busy-body as I am. I myself have played one of the cleverest tricks in the world. It is true I am quick-tempered, and now and then rather too hasty; but yet, when I have a mind to it, I can plan as many tricks as any man alive; even you shall own that what I have done shows an amount of sharpness rarely to be met with.

    MASC. Let us hear what tricks you have invented.

    LEL. Just now, being terribly frightened on seeing Trufaldin along with my rival, I was casting about to find a remedy for that mischief, when, calling all my invention to my aid, I conceived, digested, and perfected a stratagem, before which all yours, however vain you may be of them, ought undoubtedly to lower their colours.

    MASC. But what may this be?

    LEL. May it please you to have a little patience. Without much delay I invented a letter, written by an imaginary nobleman to Trufaldin, setting forth that, having fortunately heard that a certain slave, who lives in the latter's house, and is named Celia, was this grandee's daughter formerly kidnapped by thieves, it was his intention to come and fetch her; and he entreats him at least to keep her and take great care of her; for, that on her account he was setting out from Spain, and would acknowledge his civility by such handsome presents, that he should never regret being the means of making him happy.

    MASC. Mighty well.

    LEL. Hear me out; here is something much cleverer still. The letter I speak of was delivered to him, but can you imagine how? Only just in time, for the messenger told me, had it not been for this droll device, a fellow, who looked very foolish, was waiting to carry her off that identical moment.

    MASC. And you did all this without the help of the devil?

    LEL. Yes. Would you have believed me capable of such a subtle piece of wit? At least praise my skill, and the dexterity with which I have utterly disconcerted the scheme of my rival.

    MASC. To praise you as you deserve, I lack eloquence; and feel unequal to the task. Yes, sufficiently to commend this lofty effort, this fine stratagem of war achieved before our eyes, this grand and rare effect of a mind which plans as many tricks as any man, which for smartness yields to none alive, my tongue wants words. I wish I had the abilities of the most refined scholars, so that I might tell you in the noblest verse, or else in learned prose, that you will always be, in spite of everything that may be done, the very same you have been all your life; that is to say, a scatter-brain, a man of distempered reason, always perplexed, wanting common sense, a man of left-handed judgment, a meddler, an ass, a blundering, hare-brained, giddy fellow,--what can I think of? A... a hundred times worse than anything I can say. This is only an abridgement of your panegyric.

    LEL. Tell me, what puts you in such a passion with me? Have I done anything? Clear up this matter.

    MASC. No, you have done nothing at all; but do not come after me.

    LEL. I will follow you all over the world to find out this mystery.

    MASC. Do so. Come on, then; get your legs in order, I shall give you an opportunity to exercise them.

    LEL. (Alone). He has got away from me! O misfortune which cannot be allayed! What am I to understand by his discourse? And what harm can I possibly have done to myself?
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