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    Act II

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    Chapter 3
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    SCENE I.--ÉRASTE, alone.

    Are the bores gone at last? I think they rain here on every side. The more I flee from them, the more I light on them; and to add to my uneasiness, I cannot find her whom I wish to find. The thunder and rain have soon passed over, and have not dispersed the fashionable company. Would to Heaven that those gifts which it showered upon us, had driven away all the people who weary me! The sun sinks fast; I am surprised that my servant has not yet returned.


    ALC. Good day to you.

    ER. (Aside). How now! Is my passion always to be turned aside?

    ALC. Console me, Marquis, in respect of a wonderful game of piquet which I lost yesterday to a certain Saint-Bouvain, to whom I could have given fifteen points and the deal. It was a desperate blow, which has been too much for me since yesterday, and would make me wish all players at the deuce; a blow, I assure you, enough to make me hang myself in public.--I wanted only two tricks, whilst the other wanted a piquet. I dealt, he takes six, and asks for another deal. I, having a little of everything, refuse. I had the ace of clubs (fancy my bad luck!) the ace, king, knave, ten and eight of hearts, and as I wanted to make the point, threw away king and queen of diamonds, ten and queen of spades. I had five hearts in hand, and took up the queen, which just made me a high sequence of five. But my gentleman, to my extreme surprise, lays down on the table a sequence of six low diamonds, together with the ace. I had thrown away king and queen of the same colour. But as he wanted a piquet, I got the better of my fear, and was confident at least of making two tricks. Besides the seven diamonds he had four spades, and playing the smallest of them, put me in the predicament of not knowing which of my two aces to keep. I threw away, rightly as I thought, the ace of hearts; but he had discarded four clubs, and I found myself made Capot by a six of hearts, unable, from sheer vexation, to say a single word.

    [Footnote: In the seventeenth century, piquet was not played with thirty-two, but with thirty-six, cards; the sixes, which are now thrown away, remained then in the pack. Every player received twelve cards, and twelve remained on the table. He who had to play first could throw away seven or eight cards, the dealer four or five, and both might take fresh ones from those that were on the table. A trick counted only when taken with one of the court-cards, or a ten.

    Saint-Bouvain, after having taken up his cards, had in hand six small diamonds with the ace, which counted 7, a sequence of six diamonds from the six to the knave counted 16, thus together 23, before he began to play. With his seven diamonds he made seven tricks, but only counted 3, for those made by the ace, knave, and ten; this gave him 26. Besides his seven diamonds he had four spades, most likely the ace, king, knave, and a little one, and a six of hearts; though he made all the tricks he only counted 3, which gave him 29. But as Alcippe had not made a single trick, he was capot, which gave Saint-Bouvain 40; this with the 29 he made before, brought the total up to 69. As the latter only wanted a piquet, that is 60,--which is when a player makes thirty in a game, to which an additional thirty are then added, Saint-Bouvain won the game. Alcippe does not, however, state what other cards he had in his hand at the moment the play began besides the ace of clubs and a high sequence of five hearts, as well as the eight of the same colour.]

    By Heaven, account to me for this frightful piece of luck. Could it be credited, without having seen it?

    [Footnote: Compare with Molière's description of the game of piquet Pope's poetical history of the game of Ombre in the third Canto of The Rape of the Lock.]

    ER. It is in play that luck is mostly seen.

    ALC. 'Sdeath, you shall judge for yourself if I am wrong, and if it is without cause that this accident enrages me. For here are our two hands, which I carry about me on purpose. Stay, here is my hand, as I told you; and here ...

    ER. I understood everything from your description, and admit that you have a good cause to be enraged. But I must leave you on certain business. Farewell. But take comfort in your misfortune.

    ALC. Who; I? I shall always have that luck on my mind; it is worse than a thunderbolt to me. I mean to shew it to all the world. (He retires and on the point of returning, says meditatively) A six of hearts! two points.

    ER. Where in the world are we? Go where we will, we see nothing but fools.


    ER. Ha! how long you have been, and how you have made me suffer.

    LA M. Sir, I could not make greater haste.

    ER. But at length do you bring me some news?

    LA M. Doubtless; and by express command, from her you love, I have something to tell you.

    ER. What? Already my heart yearns for the message. Speak!

    LA M. Do you wish to know what it is?

    ER. Yes; speak quickly.

    LA M. Sir, pray wait. I have almost run myself out of breath.

    ER. Do you find any pleasure in keeping me in suspense?

    LA M. Since you wish to know at once the orders which I have received from this charming person, I will tell you.... Upon my word, without boasting of my zeal, I went a great way to find the lady; and if...

    ER. Hang your digressions!

    LA M. Fie! you should somewhat moderate your passion; and Seneca...

    ER. Seneca is a fool in your mouth, since he tells me nothing of all that concerns me. Tell me your message at once.

    LA M. To satisfy you, Orphise ... An insect has got among your hair.

    ER. Let it alone.

    LA M. This lovely one sends you word ...

    ER. What?

    LA M. Guess.

    ER. Are you aware that I am in no laughing mood?

    LA M. Her message is, that you are to remain in this place, that in a short time you shall see her here, when she has got rid of some country-ladies, who greatly bore all people at court.

    ER. Let us, then stay in the place she has selected. But since this message affords me some leisure, let me muse a little. (Exit La Montagne). I propose to write for her some verses to an air which I know she likes.

    (He walks up and down the stage in a reverie).

    SCENE IV.--ORANTE, CLIMÈNE, ÉRASTE (at the side of the stage, unseen.)

    OR. Everyone will be of my opinion.

    CL. Do you think you will carry your point by obstinacy?

    OR. I think my reasons better than yours.

    CL. I wish some one could hear both.

    OR. I see a gentleman here who is not ignorant; he will be able to judge of our dispute. Marquis, a word, I beg of you. Allow us to ask you to decide in a quarrel between us two; we had a discussion arising from our different opinions, as to what may distinguish the most perfect lovers.

    ER. That is a question difficult to settle; you had best look for a more skilful judge.

    OR. No: you speak to no purpose. Your wit is much commended; and we know you. We know that everyone, with justice, gives you the character of a...

    ER. Oh, I beseech you ...

    OR. In a word, you shall be our umpire, and you must spare us a couple of minutes.

    CL. (To Orante). Now you are retaining one who must condemn you: for, to be brief, if what I venture to hold be true, this gentleman will give the victory to my arguments.

    ER. (Aside). Would that I could get hold of any rascal to invent something to get me off!

    OR. (To Climène). For my part, I am too much assured of his sense to fear that he will decide against me. (To Éraste). Well, this great contest which rages between us is to know whether a lover should be jealous.

    CL. Or, the better to explain my opinion and yours, which ought to please most, a jealous man or one that is not so?

    OR. For my part, I am clearly for the last.

    CL. As for me, I stand up for the first.

    OR. I believe that our heart must declare for him who best displays his respect.

    CL. And I that, if our sentiments are to be shewn, it ought to be for him who makes his love most apparent.

    OR. Yes; but we perceive the ardour of a lover much better through respect than through jealousy.

    CL. It is my opinion that he who is attached to us, loves us the more that he shows himself jealous?

    OR. Fie, Climène, do not call lovers those men whose love is like hatred, and who, instead of showing their respect and their ardour, give themselves no thought save how to become wearisome; whose minds, being ever prompted by some gloomy passion, seek to make a crime out of the slightest actions, are too blind to believe them innocent, and demand an explanation for a glance; who, if we seem a little sad, at once complain that their presence is the cause of it, and when the least joy sparkles in our eyes, will have their rivals to be at the bottom of it; who, in short, assuming a right because they are greatly in love, never speak to us save to pick a quarrel, dare to forbid anyone to approach us, and become the tyrants of their very conquerors. As for me, I want lovers to be respectful; their submission is a sure proof of our sway.

    CL. Fie, do not call those men true lovers who are never violent in their passion; those lukewarm gallants, whose tranquil hearts already think everything quite sure, have no fear of losing us, and overweeningly suffer their love to slumber day by day, are on good terms with their rivals, and leave a free field for their perseverance. So sedate a love incites my anger; to be without jealousy is to love coldly. I would that a lover, in order to prove his flame, should have his mind shaken by eternal suspicions, and, by sudden outbursts, show clearly the value he sets upon her to whose hand he aspires. Then his restlessness is applauded; and, if he sometimes treats us a little roughly, the pleasure of seeing him, penitent at our feet, to excuse himself for the outbreak of which he has been guilty, his tears, his despair at having been capable of displeasing us, are a charm to soothe all our anger.

    OR. If much violence is necessary to please you, I know who would satisfy you; I am acquainted with several men in Paris who love well enough to beat their fair ones openly.

    CL. If to please you, there must never be jealousy, I know several men just suited to you; lovers of such enduring mood that they would see you in the arms of thirty people without being concerned about it.

    OR. And now you must, by your sentence, declare whose love appears to you preferable.

    (Orphise appears at the back of the stage, and sees Éraste between Orante and Climène).

    ER. Since I cannot avoid giving judgment, I mean to satisfy you both at once; and, in order, not to blame that which is pleasing in your eyes, the jealous man loves more, but the other loves wisely.

    CL. The judgment is very judicious; but...

    ER. It is enough. I have finished. After what I have said permit me to leave you.


    ER. (Seeing Orphise, and going to meet her). How long you have been, Madam, and how I suffer ...

    ORPH. Nay, nay, do not leave such a pleasant conversation. You are wrong to blame me for having arrived too late. (Pointing to Orante and Climène, who have just left). You had wherewithal to get on without me.

    ER. Will you be angry with me without reason, and reproach me with what I am made to suffer? Oh, I beseech you, stay ...

    ORPH. Leave me, I beg, and hasten to rejoin your company.

    SCENE VI.--ÉRASTE, alone.

    Heaven! must bores of both sexes conspire this day to frustrate my dearest wishes? But let me follow her in spite of her resistance, and make my innocence clear in her eyes.


    DOR. Ah, Marquis, continually we find tedious people interrupting the course of our pleasures! You see me enraged on account of a splendid hunt, which a booby ... It is a story I must relate to you.

    ER. I am looking for some one, and cannot stay.

    DOR. (Retaining him). Egad, I shall tell it you as we go along. We were a well selected company who met yesterday to hunt a stag; on purpose we went to sleep on the ground itself--that is, my dear sir, far away in the forest. As the chase is my greatest pleasure, I wished, to do the thing well, to go to the wood myself; we decided to concentrate our efforts upon a stag which every one said was seven years old.

    [Footnote: The original expression is cerf dix-corps; this, according to the dictionnaire de chasse, is a seven years' old animal.]

    But my own opinion was--though I did not stop to observe the marks--that it was only a stag of the second year.

    [Footnote: The technical term is: "a knobbler;" in French, un cerf à sa seconde tête.]

    We had separated, as was necessary, into different parties, and were hastily breakfasting on some new-laid eggs, when a regular country-gentleman, with a long sword, proudly mounted on his brood-mare, which he honoured with the name of his good mare, came up to pay us an awkward compliment, presenting to us at the same time, to increase our vexation, a great booby of a son, as stupid as his father. He styled himself a great sportsman, and begged that he might have the pleasure of accompanying us. Heaven preserve every sensible sportsman, when hunting, from a fellow who carries a dog's horn, which sounds when it ought not; from those gentry who, followed by ten mangy dogs, call them "my pack," and play the part of wonderful hunters. His request granted, and his knowledge commended, we all of us started the deer,

    [Footnote: The original has frapper à nos brisées; brisées means "blinks." According to Dr. Ash's Dictionary, 1775, "Blinks are the boughs or branches thrown in the way of a deer to stop its course."]

    within thrice the length of the leash, tally-ho! the dogs were put on the track of the stag. I encouraged them, and blew a loud blast. My stag emerged from the wood, and crossed a pretty wide plain, the dogs after him, but in such good order that you could have covered them all with one cloak. He made for the forest. Then we slipped the old pick upon him; I quickly brought out my sorrel-horse. You have seen him?

    ER. I think not.

    DOR. Not seen him? The animal is as good as he is beautiful; I bought him some days ago from Gaveau.

    [Footnote: A well-known horse-dealer in Molière's time.]

    I leave you to think whether that dealer, who has such a respect for me, would deceive me in such a matter; I am satisfied with the horse. He never indeed sold a better, or a better-shaped one. The head of a barb, with a clear star; the neck of a swan, slender, and very straight; no more shoulder than a hare; short-jointed, and full of vivacity in his motion. Such feet--by Heaven! such feet!--double-haunched: to tell you the truth, it was I alone who found the way to break him in. Gaveau's Little John never mounted him without trembling, though he did his best to look unconcerned. A back that beats any horse's for breadth; and legs! O ye Heavens!

    [Footnote: Compare the description of the horse given by the Dauphin in Shakespeare's Henry V., Act iii., Scene 6, and also that of the "round hoof'd, short jointed" jennet in the Venus and Adonis of the same author.]

    In short, he is a marvel; believe me, I have refused a hundred pistoles for him, with one of the horses destined for the King to boot. I then mounted, and was in high spirits to see some of the hounds coursing over the plain to get the better of the deer. I pressed on, and found myself in a by-thicket at the heels of the dogs, with none else but Drecar.

    [Footnote: A famous huntsman in Molière's time.]

    There for an hour our stag was at bay. Upon this, I cheered on the dogs, and made a terrible row. In short, no hunter was ever more delighted! I alone started him again; and all was going on swimmingly, when a young stag joined ours. Some of my dogs left the others. Marquis, I saw them, as you may suppose, follow with hesitation, and Finaut was at a loss. But he suddenly turned, which delighted me very much, and drew the dogs the right way, whilst I sounded horn and hallooed, "Finaut! Finaut!" I again with pleasure discovered the track of the deer by a mole-hill, and blew away at my leisure. A few dogs ran back to me, when, as ill-luck would have it, the young stag came over to our country bumpkin. My blunderer began blowing like mad, and bellowed aloud, "Tallyho! tallyho! tallyho!" All my dogs left me, and made for my booby. I hastened there, and found the track again on the highroad. But, my dear fellow, I had scarcely cast my eyes on the ground, when I discovered it was the other animal, and was very much annoyed at it. It was in vain to point out to the country fellow the difference between the print of my stag's hoof and his. He still maintained, like an ignorant sportsman, that this was the pack's stag; and by this disagreement he gave the dogs time to get a great way off. I was in a rage, and, heartily cursing the fellow, I spurred my horse up hill and down dale, and brushed through boughs as thick as my arm. I brought back my dogs to my first scent, who set off, to my great joy, in search of our stag, as though he were in full view. They started him again; but, did ever such an accident happen? To tell you the truth, Marquis, it floored me. Our stag, newly started, passed our bumpkin, who, thinking to show what an admirable sportsman he was, shot him just in the forehead with a horse-pistol that he had brought with him, and cried out to me from a distance, "Ah! I've brought the beast down!" Good Heavens! did any one ever hear of pistols in stag-hunting? As for me, when I came to the spot, I found the whole affair so odd, that I put spurs to my horse in a rage, and returned home at a gallop, without saying a single word to that ignorant fool.

    ER. You could not have done better; your prudence was admirable. That is how we must get rid of bores. Farewell.

    DOR. When you like, we will go somewhere where we need not dread country-hunters.

    ER. (Alone). Very well. I think I shall lose patience in the end. Let me make all haste, and try to excuse myself.


    First Entry.

    Bowlers stop Éraste to measure a distance about which there is a dispute. He gets clear of them with difficulty, and leaves them to dance a measure, composed of all the postures usual to that game.

    Second Entry.

    Little boys with slings enter and interrupt them, who are in their turn driven out by

    Third Entry.

    Cobblers, men and women, their fathers, and others, who are also driven out in their turn.

    Fourth Entry.

    A gardener, who dances alone, and then retires.
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