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    Act III

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    Chapter 4
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    SIL. Yes; your lovers have decided that you should be together, and we are acting according to their orders.

    HYA. (to ZERBINETTE). Such an order has nothing in it but what is pleasant to me. I receive such a companion with joy, and it will not be my fault if the friendship which exists between those we love does not exist also between us two.

    ZER. I accept the offer, and I am not one to draw back when friendship is asked of me.

    SCA. And when it is love that is asked of you?

    ZER. Ah! love is a different thing. One runs more risk, and I feel less determined.

    SCA. You are determined enough against my master, and yet what he has just done for you ought to give you confidence enough to respond to his love as you should.

    ZER. As yet I only half trust him, and what he has just done is not sufficient to reassure me. I am of a happy disposition, and am very fond of fun, it is true. But though I laugh, I am serious about many things; and your master will find himself deceived if he thinks that it is sufficient for him to have bought me, for me to be altogether his. He will have to give something else besides money, and for me to answer to his love as he wishes me, he must give me his word, with an accompaniment of certain little ceremonies which are thought indispensable.

    SCA. It is so he understands this matter. He only wants you as his wife, and I am not a man to have mixed in this business if he had meant anything else.

    ZER. I believe it since you say so; but I foresee certain difficulties with the father.

    SCA. We shall find a way of settling that.

    HYA. (to ZERBINETTE). The similarity of our fate ought to strengthen the tie of friendship between us. We are both subject to the same fears, both exposed to the same misfortune.

    ZER. You have this advantage at least that you know who your parents are, and that, sure of their help, when you wish to make them known, you can secure your happiness by obtaining a consent to the marriage you have contracted. But I, on the contrary, have no such hope to fall back upon, and the position I am in is little calculated to satisfy the wishes of a father whose whole care is money.

    HYA. That is true; but you have this in your favour, that the one you love is under no temptation of contracting another marriage.

    ZER. A change in a lover's heart is not what we should fear the most. We may justly rely on our own power to keep the conquest we have made; but what I particularly dread is the power of the fathers; for we cannot expect to see them moved by our merit.

    HYA. Alas! Why must the course of true love never run smooth? How sweet it would be to love with no link wanting in those chains which unite two hearts.

    SCA. How mistaken you are about this! Security in love forms a very unpleasant calm. Constant happiness becomes wearisome. We want ups and downs in life; and the difficulties which generally beset our path in this world revive us, and increase our sense of pleasure.

    ZER. Do tell us, Scapin, all about that stratagem of yours, which, I was told, is so very amusing; and how you managed to get some money out of your old miser. You know that the trouble of telling me something amusing is not lost upon me, and that I well repay those who take that trouble by the pleasure it gives me.

    SCA. Silvestre here will do that as well as I. I am nursing in my heart a certain little scheme of revenge which I mean to enjoy thoroughly.

    SIL. Why do you recklessly engage in enterprises that may bring you into trouble?

    SCA. I delight in dangerous enterprises.

    SIL. As I told you already, you would give up the idea you have if you would listen to me.

    SCA. I prefer listening to myself.

    SIL. Why the deuce do you engage in such a business?

    SCA. Why the deuce do you trouble yourself about it?

    SIL. It is because I can see that you will without necessity bring a storm of blows upon yourself.

    SCA. Ah, well, it will be on my shoulders, and not on yours.

    SIL. It is true that you are master of your own shoulders, and at liberty to dispose of them as you please.

    SCA. Such dangers never stop me, and I hate those fearful hearts which, by dint of thinking of what may happen, never undertake anything.

    ZER. (to SCAPIN). But we shall want you.

    SCA. Oh, yes! but I shall soon be with you again. It shall never be said that a man has with impunity put me into a position of betraying myself, and of revealing secrets which it were better should not be known.


    GER. Well! Scapin, and how have we succeeded about my son's mischance?

    SCA. Your son is safe, Sir; but you now run the greatest danger imaginable, and I sincerely wish you were safe in your house.

    GER. How is that?

    SCA. While I am speaking to you, there are people who are looking out for you everywhere.

    GER. For me?

    SCA. Yes.

    GER. But who?

    SCA. The brother of that young girl whom Octave has married. He thinks that you are trying to break off that match, because you intend to give to your daughter the place she occupies in the heart of Octave; and he has resolved to wreak his vengeance upon you. All his friends, men of the sword like himself, are looking out for you, and are seeking you everywhere. I have met with scores here and there, soldiers of his company, who question every one they meet, and occupy in companies all the thoroughfares leading to your house, so that you cannot go home either to the right or the left without falling into their hands.

    GER. What can I do, my dear Scapin?

    SCA. I am sure I don't know, Sir; it is an unpleasant business. I tremble for you from head to foot and.... Wait a moment.

    (SCAPIN goes to see in the back of the stage if there is anybody coming.)

    GER. (trembling). Well?

    SCA. (coming back). No, no; 'tis nothing.

    GER. Could you not find out some means of saving me?

    SCA. I can indeed think of one, but I should run the risk of a sound beating.

    GER. Ah! Scapin, show yourself a devoted servant. Do not forsake me, I pray you.

    SCA. I will do what I can. I feel for you a tenderness which renders it impossible for me to leave you without help.

    GER. Be sure that I will reward you for it, Scapin, and I promise you this coat of mine when it is a little more worn.

    SCA. Wait a minute. I have just thought, at the proper moment, of the very thing to save you. You must get into this sack, and I....

    GER. (thinking he sees somebody). Ah!

    SCA. No, no, no, no; 'tis nobody. As I was saying, you must get in here, and must be very careful not to stir. I will put you on my shoulders, and carry you like a bundle of something or other. I shall thus be able to take you through your enemies, and see you safe into your house. When there, we will barricade the door and send for help.

    GER. A very good idea.

    SCA. The best possible. You will see. (Aside) Ah! you shall pay me for that lie.

    GER. What?

    SCA. I only say that your enemies will be finely caught. Get in right to the bottom, and, above all things, be careful not to show yourself and not to move, whatever may happen.

    GER. You may trust me to keep still.

    SCA. Hide yourself; here comes one of the bullies! He is looking for you. (Altering his voice.) [Footnote: All the parts within inverted commas are supposed to be spoken by the man Scapin is personating; the rest by himself.] "Vat! I shall not hab de pleasure to kill dis Géronte, and one vill not in sharity show me vere is he?" (To GÉRONTE, in his ordinary tone) Do not stir. "Pardi! I vill find him if he lied in de mittle ob de eart" (To GÉRONTE, in his natural tone) Do not show yourself. "Ho! you man vid a sack!" Sir! "I will give thee a pound if thou vilt tell me where dis Géronte is." You are looking for Mr. Géronte? "Yes, dat I am." And on what business, Sir? "For vat pusiness?" Yes. "I vill, pardi! trash him vid one stick to dead." Oh! Sir, people like him are not thrashed with sticks, and he is not a man to be treated so. "Vat! dis fob of a Géronte, dis prute, dis cat." Mr. Géronte, Sir, is neither a fop, a brute, nor a cad; and you ought, if you please, to speak differently. "Vat! you speak so mighty vit me?" I am defending, as I ought, an honourable man who is maligned. "Are you one friend of dis Géronte?" Yes, Sir, I am. "Ah, ah! You are one friend of him, dat is goot luck!" (Beating the sack several times with the stick.) "Here is vat I give you for him." (Calling out as if he received the beating) Ah! ah! ah! ah! Sir. Ah! ah! Sir, gently! Ah! pray. Ah! ah! ah! "Dere, bear him dat from me. Goot-pye." Ah! the wretch. Ah!...ah!

    GER. (looking out). Ah! Scapin, I can bear it no longer.

    SCA. Ah! Sir, I am bruised all over, and my shoulders are as sore as can be.

    GER. How! It was on mine he laid his stick.

    SCA. I beg your pardon, Sir, it was on my back.

    GER. What do you mean? I am sure I felt the blows, and feel them still.

    SCA. No, I tell you; it was only the end of his stick that reached your shoulders.

    GER. You should have gone a little farther back, then, to spare me, and....

    SCA. (pushing GÉRONTE'S head back into the sack). Take care, here is another man who looks like a foreigner. "Frient, me run like one Dutchman, and me not fint all de tay dis treatful Géronte." Hide yourself well. "Tell me, you, Sir gentleman, if you please, know you not vere is dis Géronte, vat me look for?" No, Sir, I do not know where Géronte is. "Tell me, trutful, me not vant much vit him. Only to gife him one tosen plows vid a stick, and two or tree runs vid a swort tro' his shest." I assure you, Sir, I do not know where he is. "It seems me I see sometink shake in dat sack." Excuse me, Sir. "I pe shure dere is sometink or oder in dat sack." Not at all, Sir. "Me should like to gife one plow of de swort in dat sack." Ah! Sir, beware, pray you, of doing so. "Put, show me ten vat to be dere?" Gently, Sir. "Why chently?" You have nothing to do with what I am carrying. "And I, put I vill see." You shall not see. "Ah! vat trifling." It is some clothes of mine. "Show me tem, I tell you." I will not. "You vill not?" No. "I make you feel this shtick upon de sholders." I don't care. "Ah! you vill poast!" (Striking the sack, and calling out as if he were beaten) Oh! oh! oh! Oh! Sir. Oh! oh! "Goot-bye, dat is one littel lesson teach you to speak so insolent." Ah! plague the crazy jabberer! Oh!

    GER. (looking out of the sack). Ah! all my bones are broken.

    SCA. Ah! I am dying.

    GER. Why the deuce do they strike on my back?

    SCA. (pushing his head back into the bag). Take care; I see half a dozen soldiers coming together. (Imitating the voices of several people.) "Now, we must discover Géronte; let us look everywhere carefully. We must spare no trouble, scour the town, and not forget one single spot Let us search on all sides. Which way shall we go? Let us go that way. No, this. On the left. On the right. No; yes." (To GÉRONTE in his ordinary voice) Hide yourself well. "Ah! here is his servant. I say, you rascal, you must tell us where your master is. Speak. Be quick. At once. Make haste. Now." Ah! gentlemen, one moment. (GÉRONTE looks quietly out of the bag, and sees SCAPIN'S trick.) "If you do not tell us at once where your master is, we will shower a rain of blows on your back." I had rather suffer anything than tell you where my master is. "Very well, we will cudgel you soundly." Do as you please. "You want to be beaten, then?" I will never betray my master. "Ah! you will have it--there." Oh!

    (As he is going to strike, GÉRONTE gets out of the bag, and SCAPIN runs away.)

    GER. (alone). Ah! infamous wretch! ah I rascal! ah! scoundrel! It is thus that you murder me?


    ZER. (laughing, without seeing GÉRONTE). Ah, ah! I must really come and breathe a little.

    GER. (aside, not seeing ZERBINETTE). Ah! I will make you pay for it.

    ZER. (not seeing GÉRONTE). Ah, ah, ah, ah! What an amusing story! What a good dupe that old man is!

    GER. This is no matter for laughter; and you have no business to laugh at it.

    ZER. Why? What do you mean, Sir?

    GER. I mean to say that you ought not to laugh at me.

    ZER. Laugh at you?

    GER. Yes.

    ZER. How! Who is thinking of laughing at you?

    GER. Why do you come and laugh in my face?

    ZER. This has nothing to do with you. I am only laughing with myself at the remembrance of a story which has just been told me. The most amusing story in the world. I don't know if it is because I am interested in the matter, but I never heard anything so absurd as the trick that has just been played by a son to his father to get some money out of him.

    GER. By a son to his father to get some money out of him?

    ZER. Yes; and if you are at all desirous of hearing how it was done, I will tell you the whole affair. I have a natural longing for imparting to others the funny things I know.

    GER. Pray, tell me that story.

    ZER. Willingly. I shall not risk much by telling it you, for it is an adventure which is not likely to remain secret long. Fate placed me among one of those bands of people who are called gypsies, and who, tramping from province to province, tell you your fortune, and do many other things besides. When we came to this town, I met a young man, who, on seeing me, fell in love with me. From that moment he followed me everywhere; and, like all young men, he imagined that he had but to speak and things would go on as he liked; but he met with a pride which forced him to think twice. He spoke of his love to the people in whose power I was, and found them ready to give me up for a certain sum of money. But the sad part of the business was that my lover found himself exactly in the same condition as most young men of good family, that is, without any money at all. His father, although rich, is the veriest old skinflint and greatest miser you ever heard of. Wait a moment--what is his name? I don't remember it--can't you help me? Can't you name some one in this town who is known to be the most hard-fisted old miser in the place?

    GER. No.

    ZER. There is in his name some Ron...Ronte... Or...Oronte...No. Gé...Géronte. Yes, Géronte, that's my miser's name. I have it now; it is the old churl I mean. Well, to come back to our story. Our people wished to leave this town to-day, and my lover would have lost me through his lack of money if, in order to wrench some out of his father, he had not made use of a clever servant he has. As for that servant's name, I remember it very well. His name is Scapin. He is a most wonderful man, and deserves the highest praise.

    GER. (aside). Ah, the wretch!

    ZER. But just listen to the plan he adopted to take in his dupe--ah! ah! ah! ah! I can't think of it without laughing heartily--ah! ah! ah! He went to that old screw--ah! ah! ah!--and told him that while he was walking about the harbour with his son--ah! ah!--they noticed a Turkish galley; that a young Turk had invited them to come in and see it; that he had given them some lunch--ah! ah!--and that, while they were at table, the galley had gone into the open sea; that the Turk had sent him alone back, with the express order to say to him that, unless he sent him five hundred crowns, he would take his son to be a slave in Algiers--ah, ah, ah! You may imagine our miser, our stingy old curmudgeon, in the greatest anguish, struggling between his love for his son and his love for his money. Those five hundred crowns that are asked of him are five hundred dagger-thrusts--ah! ah! ah! ah! He can't bring his mind to tear out, as it were, this sum from his heart, and his anguish makes him think of the most ridiculous means to find money for his son's ransom--ah! ah! ah! He wants to send the police into the open sea after the Turk's galley-- ah! ah! ah! He asks his servant to take the place of his son till he has found the money to pay for him--money he has no intention of giving--ah! ah! ah! He yields up, to make the five hundred crowns, three or four old suits which are not worth thirty--ah! ah! ah! The servant shows him each time how absurd is what he proposes, and each reflection of the old fellow is accompanied by an agonising, "But what the deuce did he want to go in that galley for? Ah! cursed galley. Ah! scoundrel of a Turk!" At last, after many hesitations, after having sighed and groaned for a long time...But it seems to me that my story does not make you laugh; what do you say to it?

    GER. What I say? That the young man is a scoundrel--a good-for-nothing fellow--who will be punished by his father for the trick he has played him; that the gypsy girl is a bold, impudent hussy to come and insult a man of honour, who will give her what she deserves for coming here to debauch the sons of good families; and that the servant is an infamous wretch, whom Géronte will take care to have hung before to-morrow is over.


    SIL. Where are you running away to? Do you know that the man you were speaking to is your lover's father?

    ZER. I have just begun to suspect that it was so; and I related to him his own story without knowing who he was.

    SIL. What do you mean by his story?

    ZER. Yes; I was so full of that story that I longed to tell it to somebody. But what does it matter? So much the worse for him. I do not see that things can be made either better or worse.

    SIL. You must have been in a great hurry to chatter; and it is indiscretion, indeed, not to keep silent on your own affairs.

    ZER. Oh! he would have heard it from somebody else.


    ARG. (behind the scenes). Hullo! Silvestre.

    SIL. (to ZERBINETTE). Go in there; my master is calling me.


    ARG. So you agreed, you rascals; you agreed--Scapin, you, and my son--to cheat me out of my money; and you think that I am going to bear it patiently?

    SIL. Upon my word, Sir, if Scapin is deceiving you, it is none of my doing. I assure you that I have nothing whatever to do with it.

    ARG. We shall see, you rascal! we shall see; and I am not going to be made a fool of for nothing.


    GER. Ah! Mr. Argante, you see me in the greatest trouble.

    ARG. And I am in the greatest sorrow.

    GER. This rascal, Scapin, has got five hundred crowns out of me.

    ARG. Yes, and this same rascal, Scapin, two hundred pistoles out of me.

    GER. He was not satisfied with getting those five hundred crowns, but treated me besides in a manner I am ashamed to speak of. But he-- shall pay me for it.

    ARG. I shall have him punished for the trick he has played me.

    GER. And I mean to make an example of him.

    SIL. (aside). May Heaven grant that I do not catch my share of all this!

    GER. But, Mr. Argante, this is not all; and misfortunes, as you know, never come alone. I was looking forward to the happiness of to-day seeing my daughter, who was everything to me; and I have just heard that she left Tarentum a long while since; and there is every reason to suppose that the ship was wrecked, and that she is lost to me for ever.

    ARG. But why did you keep her in Tarentum, instead of enjoying the happiness of having her with you?

    GER. I had my reasons for it; some family interests forced me till now to keep my second marriage secret. But what do I see?


    GER. What! you here, Nérine?

    NER. (on her knees before GÉRONTE). Ah! Mr. Pandolphe, how....

    GER. Call me Géronte, and do not use the other name any more. The reasons which forced me to take it at Tarentum exist no longer.

    NER. Alas! what sorrow that change of name has caused us; what troubles and difficulties in trying to find you out!

    GER. And where are my daughter and her mother?

    NER. Your daughter, Sir, is not far from here; but before I go to fetch her, I must ask you to forgive me for having married her, because of the forsaken state we found ourselves in, when we had no longer any hope of meeting you.

    GER. My daughter is married?

    NER. Yes, Sir.

    GER. And to whom?

    NER. To a young man, called Octave, the son of a certain Mr. Argante.

    GER. O Heaven!

    ARG. What an extraordinary coincidence.

    GER. Take us quickly where she is.

    NER. You have but to come into this house.

    GER. Go in first; follow me, follow me, Mr. Argante.

    SIL. (alone). Well, this is a strange affair.


    SCA. Well, Silvestre, what are our people doing?

    SIL. I have two things to tell you. One is that Octave is all right; our Hyacintha is, it seems, the daughter of Géronte, and chance has brought to pass what the wisdom of the fathers had decided. The other, that the old men threaten you with the greatest punishments-- particularly Mr. Géronte.

    SCA. Oh, that's nothing. Threats have never done me any harm as yet; they are but clouds which pass away far above our heads.

    SIL. You had better take care. The sons may get reconciled to their fathers, and leave you in the lurch.

    SCA. Leave that to me. I shall find the means of soothing their anger, and....

    SIL. Go away; I see them coming.


    GER. Come, my daughter; come to my house. My happiness would be perfect if your mother had been with you.

    ARG. Here is Octave coming just at the right time.


    ARG. Come, my son, come and rejoice with us about the happiness of your marriage. Heaven....

    OCT. No, father, all your proposals for marriage are useless. I must be open with you, and you have been told how I am engaged.

    ARG. Yes; but what you do not know....

    OCT. I know all I care to know.

    ARG. I mean to say that the daughter of Mr. Géronte....

    OCT. The daughter of Mr. Géronte will never be anything to me.

    GER. It is she who....

    OCT. (to GÉRONTE). You need not go on, Sir; I hope you will forgive me, but I shall abide by my resolution.

    SIL. (to OCTAVE). Listen....

    OCT. Be silent; I will listen to nothing.

    ARG. (to OCTAVE). Your wife....

    OCT. No, father, I would rather die than lose my dear Hyacintha (crossing the theatre, and placing himself by HYACINTHA). Yes, all you would do is useless; this is the one to whom my heart is engaged. I will have no other wife.

    ARG. Well! she it is whom we give you. What a madcap you are never to listen to anything but your own foolish whim.

    HYA. (showing GÉRONTE). Yes, Octave, this is my father whom I have found again, and all our troubles are over.

    GER. Let us go home; we shall talk more comfortably at home.

    HYA. (showing ZERBINETTE). Ah! father, I beg of you the favour not to part me from this charming young lady. She has noble qualities, which will be sure to make you like her when you know her.

    GER. What! do you wish me to take to my house a girl with whom your brother is in love, and who told me to my face so many insulting things?

    ZER. Pray forgive me, Sir; I should not have spoken in that way if I had known who you were, and I only knew you by reputation.

    GER. By reputation; what do you mean?

    HYA. Father, I can answer for it that she is most virtuous, and that the love my brother has for her is pure.

    GER. It is all very well. You would try now to persuade me to marry my son to her, a stranger, a street-girl!


    LEA. My father, you must no longer say that I love a stranger without birth or wealth. Those from whom I bought her have just told me that she belongs to an honest family in this town. They stole her away when she was four years old, and here is a bracelet which they gave me, and which will help me to discover her family.

    ARG. Ah! To judge by this bracelet, this is my daughter whom I lost when she was four years old.

    GER. Your daughter?

    ARG. Yes, I see she is my daughter. I know all her features again. My dear child!

    GER. Oh! what wonderful events!


    CAR. Ah! gentlemen, a most sad accident has just taken place.

    GER. What is it?

    CAR. Poor Scapin....

    GER. Is a rascal whom I shall see hung.

    CAR. Alas! Sir, you will not have that trouble. As he was passing near a building, a bricklayer's hammer fell on his head and broke his skull, leaving his brain exposed. He is dying, and he has asked to be brought in here to speak to you before he dies.


    SCA. (brought in by some men, his head wrapped up, as if he were wounded). Oh, oh! gentlemen, you see me.... Oh! You see me in a sad state. Oh! I would not die without coming to ask forgiveness of all those I may have offended. Oh! Yes, gentlemen, before I give up the ghost, I beseech you to forgive me all I have done amiss, and particularly Mr. Argante and Mr. Géronte. Oh!

    ARG. I forgive you; die in peace, Scapin.

    SCA. (to GÉRONTE). It is you, Sir, I have offended the most, because of the beating with the cudgel which I....

    GER. Leave that alone.

    SCA. I feel in dying an inconceivable grief for the beating which I....

    GER. Ah me! be silent.

    SCA. That unfortunate beating that I gave....

    GER. Be silent, I tell you; I forgive you everything.

    SCA. Alas! how good you are. But is it really with all your heart that you forgive me the beating which I...?

    GER. Yes, yes; don't mention it. I forgive you everything. You are punished.

    SCA. Ah! Sir, how much better I feel for your kind words.

    GER. Yes, I forgive you; but on one condition, that you die.

    SCA. How! Sir?

    GER. I retract my words if you recover.

    SCA. Oh! oh! all my pains are coming hack.

    ARG. Mr. Géronte, let us forgive him without any condition, for we are all so happy.

    GER. Well, be it so.

    ARG. Let us go to supper, and talk of our happiness.

    SCA. And you, take me to the end of the table; it is there I will await death.

    THE END.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *
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