LAURENCE: And so, even if I had children, the marriage would be nul and void?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Certainly. Their presence would have nothing to do with it; only the law which is strict, without being unjust, would recognize their rights as legitimate children.
LAURENCE: It’s still the marriage which makes the children legitimate!
ROQUEFEUILLE: (laughing) Yes, more often than the husband!
LAURENCE: And there was no marriage?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Pardon me, there was one, but it no longer exists.
LAURENCE: It’s true, you’ve explained it to me—good faith! Do you know, my poor Roquefeuille, that, if you had said nothing a week ago, I would still be married?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Ideally, yes, but in fact, no! And would you have preferred that Robert made this horrible discovery before you?
LAURENCE: Oh! no!
ROQUEFEUILLE: And the first discussion was a bit excited?
LAURENCE: (exclaiming) Oh!
ROQUEFEUILLE: Eh! my God! it’s necessary to foresee and fear in this life! And foreseen in time, armed in war, with the enormous advantage of offensive, it belongs to us alone to avoid the peril even before it is suspected!
LAURENCE: That’s right! You are a true friend, my dear Roquefeuille! You have no need of other papers than those I’ve delivered to you?
LAURENCE: The publications?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Have been made.
LAURENCE: You have no other recommendations to—
ROQUEFEUILLE: You’ve suppressed the newspapers?
LAURENCE: Yes, but without knowing why.
ROQUEFEUILLE: I have my reasons: the press is so indiscreet. Did you see the man from city-hall yesterday?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Ah! In that case no one suspects anything?
LAURENCE: Yes, I thought it my duty to write to Leonie.
ROQUEFEUILLE: So much the worse!
LAURENCE: I am sure of her discretion.
ROQUEFEUILLE: I’d be even more sure of it if she knew nothing .
LAURENCE: It was bound to happen, my friend I had motives, reasons that I don’t know how to explain to you.
ROQUEFEUILLE: That’s different!
LAURENCE: Hush! It’s she!
LEONIE: (kissing Laurent) Ah! my dear Laurence, my poor friend!
LAURENCE: Ah! my poor Leonie.
LEONIE: What! Yesterday, I left a married woman, and I find a young lady.
ROQUEFEUILLE: A widow, madame,—a deplorable widow!
LEONIE: Isn’t this a mystification by this frightful notary? He’s capable of anything.
LAURENCE: Alas, no!
LEONIE: And now it will last a week?
LAURENCE: A week!
LEONIE: And your husband knows nothing?
LEONIE: And why haven’t you confessed it to him?
ROQUEFEUILLE: I advised her to—but—
LAURENCE: I didn’t dare.
LAURENCE: The evening in which Roquefeuille informed me of the fatal secret, Robert spent the night out.I was counting then on having some hours to reflect on my strange position and the new duties that it imposed on me when I heard the voice of my husband; my first, my only idea was to rush into my room and barricade myself inside.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (aside) And to tell that Robert didn’t break down the door! Clumsy! violence with his wife would have been delicious !
LAURENCE: My God! after having rapped several times, seeing that I didn’t answer, he took the role of retiring. As for me, I didn’t close my eye all night; the most crazy ideas succeeded one another in my head, and I wasn’t able to see clearly in the chaos when day came. I rose, not knowing what part to take, almost confiding my destiny to chance or to the inspiration of the moment. I met Robert, and already my secret rose to my lips, when his cold and severe air stopped it. For my wrongs, was he angry with me when he woke up, was he after me because of my shut door on his return? I don’t know but I found him so cold, so severe—I remained trembling, my heart was palpitating—I saw only dangers in speaking. I kept my secret, and since that moment, each day augments my embarrassment and diminishes my courage!
LEONIE: But what do you fear?
LAURENCE: Do I know? You know my husband, he’s neither the best nor the worst than anyone else, indeed he has ideas a little cruel about things of this world. But, say to most husbands after three years of marriage: You are free!
ROQUEFEUILLE: A what a stroke! What a save yourself if you can!
LEONIE: The gentleman is exaggerating. Many would resume the road to city-hall.
ROQUEFEUILLE: Yes—with other women!
LAURENCE: (to Leonie) You see how reassuring he is! And perhaps he’s right, my dear. Robert loves me, I think—he’s a man of honor, I am sure; but after three years of marriage isn’t it like a tree which has given all its flowers, all its fruits—and that one sees fall without regret? Why risk all my happiness on a word?
LEONIE: But this silence cannot last forever. What will be the end of this comedy?
ROQUEFEUILLE: The end of all comedies: a marriage!
LAURENCE: Here’s what Roquefeuille has advised me: Keep my secret quiet for eleven days.
LEONIE: Eleven days—the time necessary
ROQUEFEUILLE: For publications, yes.—and during this time, let me do the needful things, furnish the papers, publish the bans, etc . The Mayor of our district is my friend, which simplifies things.
LEONIE: And the eleventh day?
ROQUEFEUILLE: The eleventh day, escort Robert to city-hall, under some sort of pretext, still without telling him anything, and there—abruptly inform him of the truth.
LEONIE: Just like that, all of a sudden?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Thaz it!
LEONIE: What’s the advantage?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Immense! So as not to give him time to reflect—
LEONIE: Why, it’s—
ROQUEFEUILLE: It’s a trap, I’m perfectly aware; but it’s the only way to get there! Because if one gives him eleven days to consider—Oh!
LEONIE: What a monster this notary is!
ROQUEFEUILLE: Yes, but what a notary this monster is!
LAURENCE: In short! all is agreed in a way, and I only regret not having a mother, a sister, with whom I could retire during this time, under the first pretext that came.
LEONIE: Why? Aren’t you comfortable here?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Yes! This young girl’s scruple seems a bit late to me!
LAURENCE: This is none of your concern, my dear Roquefeuille, these are feminine secrets that your ears cannot understand,—and if you were really nice—
ROQUEFEUILLE: Very nice! Your Servant, Roquefeuille!
LAURENCE: Oh! my friend—
ROQUEFEUILLE: Good! good! I’ll go into Robert’s room.
ROQUEFEUILLE: You can talk without fear. You know I an not forgetting my cane, (he leaves)
LEONIE: Well, what did you want to say?
LAURENCE: See what this strange situation has done to me: since I’ve known the nullity of my marriage, I am no longer of good faith, I no longer have the right to consider myself as married—
LAURENCE: All the while my husband, whose ignorance assures his good faith, still thinks himself—
LEONIE: What, you are making a serious case of this to the point of -
LAURENCE: But, in the end, think that I am not married!—and I don’t know what any other woman would do in my place—; as for me, at the risk of seeming a bit ridiculous, I confess to you that one scruple—bizarre perhaps—an exaggerated delicacy it’s possible—but still No!—no!—no!—
LEONIE: And what does your husband say?
LAURENCE: He doesn’t say anything.
LEONIE: He’s really quite angry?
LAURENCE: I thought he was the first day, I old you, but the same evening his bad humor disappeared, and disappeared so completely that my situation has become very difficult—
LEONIE: What! for a week—you retire each night into your fortifications?
LEONIE: And Mr. Maubray to his camp?
LEONIE: And except for covering fire, all communication is interrupted between the two places?
LEONIE: Ah, indeed, ah! why, now there’s a delicate situation !
LAURENCE: Even more delicate because during the day, I make myself as sweet, as friendly, as attentive as possible!
LEONIE: You come out from your fortifications?
LAURENCE: And at night—
LEONIE: You return to your lines?
LAURENCE: You said it.
LEONIE: And the besieger?
LAURENCE: (lowering her eyes) Ah! Sometimes he’s in a very bad mood!
LEONIE: Hell! he’s within his rights to be.
LAURENCE: Why that’s exactly what scares me; it’s precisely for that I need your help!
(Baptiste enters with a newspaper in his hand.)
LAURENCE: What do you want?
BAPTISTE: These are the newspapers that I am bringing to the master.
LAURENCE: Put them there!
BAPTISTE: But, madame, the master is accustomed—
LAURENCE: That’s fine I tell you; put them there!
LEONIE: What do you intend to do with these newspapers?
LAURENCE: It’s Roquefeuille who advised me to suppress them with the greatest care.
LEONIE: And why?
LAURENCE: I don’t know.
LEONIE: Ah, the publications, no question—(She takes a paper; Laurence takes the other papers and puts them into a little furniture at the right.)
LAURENCE: You are right.
LEONIE: Let’s see—(reading) Paris First—Miscellanies: That’s not it. Ah! Marriage Banns: Between Mr.Lenormand, 5 rue Coquilliere, and Miss Danjou, same house. Mr. de Valois, Rue Royale, and Miss Laurent, same house—
LAURENCE: Why always: same house?
LEONIE: I don’t see why—Ah! here!
LEONIE: Mr. Robert Maubray, 8 rue de Londres, and Miss Laurence de Croix—(Leonie gives her the paper)
LAURENCE: (reading) Same house!
LEONIE: Now do you understand?
LAURENCE: Ah! yes—Watch out! my husband—(hiding the paper)
ROBERT: (aside) Always with someone! (aloud) Madame!
LEONIE: My dear Maubray!
ROBERT: You are very scarce; we almost never see you.
LEONIE: You are very good to notice that.
ROBERT: And you, my dear Laurence, this neuralgia?
LEONIE: A neuralgia?
LAURENCE: (to Robert) Still suffering, my friend
ROBERT: Take care of yourself. You know how dear your health is to me! (going to kiss her)
LAURENCE: (crying) Oh! be careful!
ROBERT: (in a bad mood) It’s astonishing how this neuralgia persists! You haven’t seen my newspapers?
LAURENCE: (hiding them behind her) No!
ROBERT: It’s strange; this has been happening to me for two or three days already! Madame! (to himself) Oh! this neuralgia! Absolutely, I must know what’s become of them! (exit Robert)
LAURENCE: (after having assured herself of Robert’s departure resumes reading the paper) Mr. Robert Maubray, 8 rue de Londres, and Miss La Croix, same house. There it is. Ah:—Mr. Maxime Duvernet 17, rue Louis le Grand, and Madame de Vanvres—
LEONIE: (taking the paper) What! I am in it; we are in it! Ah ! Mr. Duvernet hasn’t declared himself beaten! He keeps it up! he intends to marry me despite myself.
LAURENCE: He loves you, that’s his excuse.
LEONIE: Well, he will lose his expenses; for this morning I received a letter from Havre that informs me that the Panama is leaving in three days.
LAURENCE: You are going?
LEONIE: Do you want me to marry this gentleman?
LAURENCE: I want—I want you to stay.
LEONIE: Then you don’t understand that if I stay, I will be here, quite simply eleven days and I—
LAURENCE: You don’t understand that if you leave, I am ruined?
LAURENCE: Yes, ruined! Robert was astonished at first, then uneasy in the new position made for him. It was really necessary to invent something—I invented—
LEONIE: Ah! yes, neuralgia
LAURENCE: But, now—
LEONIE: He believes you less?
LAURENCE: He doesn’t believe me at all?
LEONIE: The drama is getting complicated.
LAURENCE: And the siege continues! And I am losing ground by the moment! and the fort must be held for three days more you understand, three days? I am lost if you do not come to my assistance.
LAURENCE: You must renounce your departure so as to come live in this house and not leave me!
LEONIE: Oh! oh! oh!
LAURENCE: You are hesitating?
LEONIE: Well, I should think so! And then if this comedy drags out a bit longer it’s my liberty itself which finds itself compromised, without speaking of the abominable rancor that Mr. Maubray is going to devote to me.
LAURENCE: You refuse?
LEONIE: Why, hell! think about it—Well, no! It shall not be said in future ages that Madame de Vanvres refused reinforcements to her best friend! I will enter your home with arms and baggage, we will resupply the fort, and all is saved, even honor!
LAURENCE: Ah! how good you are! (kissing her)
LEONIE: Now there’s a kiss I would never have stolen!
BAPTISTE: (announcing) Mr. Duvernet!
LAURENCE: Pardon me, Maxime, If I leave you so precipitously!
LEONIE: We have some arrangements to take—
MAXIME: She, too?
THE TWO WOMEN: And we present you our very humble excuses. (They leave)
MAXIME: Now there’s a woman who will make me damned before marriage!
ROQUEFEUILLE: (entering) There are some folks in a big hurry!
ROBERT: (entering) Ah! Maxime! By Jove! I was going to send to your place! Are we alone?
ROBERT: Well, I am delighted to have both of you two! I have to consult you.
MAXIME: As a doctor?
ROQUEFEUILLE: As a notary? Or as friend?
ROBERT: As friends above all! As notary, perhaps! but especially as doctor!
ROQUEFEUILLE: It’s Panurge’s consultation?
ROBERT: An on the same question, marriage!
ROQUEFEUILLE: Only Panurge was more clever; he consulted in advance.
MAXIME: We are listening to you, speak!
ROBERT: As friends, first of all. Imagine that a mystery has reigned in this house for a week that I’ve vainly tried to penetrate. My wife is no longer the same; she flees me; she avoids me. Nothing works as it used to; there are continual comings and goings of folks I don’t know. Yesterday, a very ill dressed gentleman came to offer the services of his administration, and after a long conversation it was only a question of city-hall, of a ceremonial carriage, etc, I thought I understood it was a question of burial.
ROQUEFEUILLE: And you didn’t profit by the opportunity?
ROBERT: And that’s not all! My wife locks herself up for hours to read, and do you know what novel I found on her desk? The Civil Code—opened on the chapter on marriage—The respective rights of spouses.
ROQUEFEUILLE: Ah! that’s curious—Was there a book mark?
ROBERT: Bad joke! In the end, not even my newspapers on which I can lay my hands for the past week.
ROQUEFEUILLE: Strange! strange!
MAXIME: And your conclusion?
ROBERT: Yours is?
ROQUEFEUILLE: You have no other indications?
ROBERT: Yes, there are others, but—
ROBERT: It’s delicate to discuss!
MAXIME: You can say anything to your notary.
ROQUEFEUILLE: And to your doctor.
ROBERT: Well, so be it! You plainly see this door?
MAXIME: I see it.
ROBERT: It’s the door to my wife’s room.
ROBERT: Well, do me the pleasure of opening it?
ROBERT: Do it anyway!
ROQUEFEUILLE: Open the door for him for the love of God!
MAXIME: (going to the door to the right) So be it!—Locked!
ROBERT: Well, yes, locked! but locked as one does not lock a door, especially to a husband! So, that’s what it’s been like for a week.
ROQUEFEUILLE AND MAXIME: (laughing) Ah, bah!
ROBERT: I will admit to you, my dear friends, that your laughter irritates me!
ROQUEFEUILLE: What! it’s not even open at the discreet hour when Psyche extinguishes her lamp?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Well, what do you want us to do about it, my poor friend? We really, cannot—
ROBERT: By Jove! I know that well enough! But I want advice—some good advice!
MAXIME: What advice?
ROBERT: That of a Notary, first of all!
ROQUEFEUILLE: Go ahead!
ROBERT: Does my wife have the right to refuse me?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Obedience? No! Article 213—
ROBERT: Have I the right to demand—
ROQUEFEUILLE: Obedience? Yes! Same article 213.
ROBERT: Fine! So I’m at ease on the subject of legality!
ROQUEFEUILLE: You can sue your wife in court for that
ROBERT: No, no, no! Only, I know my right. That’s immense!
ROQUEFEUILLE: Keep going! you will amuse yourself infinitely.
ROBERT: (to Maxime) You understand well enough that I am not easily resigned to this role of—
MAXIME: Of Tantalus?
ROBERT: Of Tantalus, so be it! And that I’ve asked my wife the cause of this anticipated divorce—
MAXIME: And she replied to you that she was ill?
ROBERT: That she was ill—with nerves
ROQUEFEUILLE AND MAXIME: With nerves.
ROBERT: With nerves!
MAXIME: Well, that reason is better than another!
ROBERT: The reason is pitiful, my dear chap. Laurence has never had greater appearance of the most magnificent health. She is as fresh as at fifteen, and pretty as a cherub.
ROQUEFEUILLE: You are looking at her through the eyes of a bachelor.
MAXIME: Look, let’s be serious! Do you know you’ve done something wrong? Is your wife angry with you?
ROBERT: No, indeed! And the proof is that during the day she is charming, almost flirtatious with me; but as the Sun descends on the horizon—
MAXIME: The beauties of the day lock themselves in bed with the Sun! And this began—
ROBERT: The day my guard letter came, you remember—that curious discovery of my nationality.
MAXIME: (laughing) By Jove! now there’s the reason! No need to seek others! She wants to break off all relations with you—because you are English.
ROQUEFEUILLE: Oh! oh! oh! At the moment of the treaty of commerce? Not likely?
ROBERT: (impatiently) My God! you joke about it!
MAXIME: Seriously, I’m distracted by it!
ROBERT: I have only one resource, it’s to address myself to you, my friend. I want you, adroitly, without Laurence suspecting it, for you to tell me if my wife is ill, yes or no.
MAXIME: What! without her suspecting it? Why, miscreant, have you considered that for us doctors the only thermometers are the pulse and the tongue?
ROQUEFEUILLE: And if she doesn’t lend herself to it?
MAXIME: If she mustn’t suspect?
ROBERT: Ta, ta, ta, manage it your own way; find some clever means, deviously, to reach your end.
ROQUEFEUILLE: Hush ! the door is opening.
MAXIME: It’s broad day light!
ROBERT: Here’s my wife; I am leaving you with her. Come, Roquefeuille.
MAXIME: No, by Jove! Much better for you to be here!
ROQUEFEUILLE: (aside) And me, too!
LAURENCE: (entering) You don’t wish me ill for it, Maxime, for having left you alone for a moment?
MAXIME: Robert kept me company.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (aside) Careful! Roquefeuille—warn her (Low to Laurence) Be—
ROQUEFEUILLE: Me? (coughing) Ah, my friends, I think I’ve got the grip.
MAXIME: But what I don’t forgive you for, Madame, is for having carried off Madame de Vanvres, if I weren’t certain it was to prevent her departure.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (same as before) Be careful!
LAURENCE: You were saying?
ROQUEFEUILLE: (pretending to think she’s interrupted Robert) You said?
ROBERT: As for me, I didn’t breathe a word.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (to Laurence) He didn’t breathe a word.
LAURENCE: Ah! I thought (aside) What’s the matter with them anyway?
ROBERT: (low to Maxime) Go to it!
LAURENCE: And of what were you speaking when I interrupted your conversation? Is there anything indiscreet about asking you?
MAXIME: (aside) How to manage it?
ROQUEFEUILLE: (aside) Let’s see how to get her out of it?
MAXIME: (aloud) Ah! yes, madame, I was telling these gentlemen some particulars of my voyages. I said that Europe, which thinks itself the head of civilization, has been outdistanced in certain sciences by the natives of Oceania. In divination, for example.
LAURENCE: In divination!
ROQUEFEUILLE: (aside) Now there’s a devious means.
LAURENCE: You believe in that science?
MAXIME: Yes, madame; but I make an extreme difference between the science of Mr. Desbarolles and that of the inhabitants of Nouka-Hiva.
ROBERT: (low) Indeed.
MAXIME: Example palm reading.
ROQUEFEUILLE: Ah! there it is!
MAXIME: (continuing) Palm reading can, at most, reveal the past. May I have your hand, if you please.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (low to Laurence) No, don’t give it!
LAURENCE: My hand!
ROBERT: (aside) Finally!
ROQUEFEUILLE: No, don’t give it! (low)
LAURENCE: (not comprehending) But—
ROBERT: Give your hand, dear friend!
ROQUEFEUILLE: (aside) Then there is only one way (to Laurence) Give me your other.
MAXIME: (low to Robert) Take your watch and count one minute.
ROBERT: I understand!
MAXIME: Hand of a thoroughbred, Madame. Hum!
ROQUEFEUILLE: (taking her other hand) Completely aristocratic . (Robert counts and looks at Roquefeuille)
MAXIME: Well, what’s he doing?
ROQUEFEUILLE: I am making a counter-test.
LAURENCE: Explain this to me?
ROQUEFEUILLE: We are going to tell you your good fortune, beautiful lady. Let it be done!
ROBERT: (low to Maxime) Count!
MAXIME: Well, Madame, you have a long hand, slender fingers—twenty—
MAXIME: And what we call the psychic hand—forty.
MAXIME: Which ought to marvelously serve the conceptions of a superior intelligence
ROBERT: (low to Maxime) That’s it!
MAXIME: (low) Sixty pulsations! Pulse is excellent!
ROQUEFEUILLE: That’s it 120! A horse fever!
ROQUEFEUILLE: A horse fever!
ROBERT: You are crazy or your watch doesn’t work!
ROQUEFEUILLE: My watch doesn’t work? My mother’s watch!
ROBERT: Go to the devil! Let’s see the tongue! (aside) Oof! and what a one! (to Laurence) Oh! you are not done yet, madame—it seems that it’s not over.
LAURENCE: What’s this all about?
MAXIME: In the art of divination, madame, the hand is only the first page of the book!
LAURENCE: What is the second?
MAXIME: It’s—don’t laugh in advance—it’s the tongue!
ROQUEFEUILLE: (to Laurence) Close your mouth!
ROBERT: Ah! as to that, you’ll never persuade me!
MAXIME: And why not? Isn’t the tongue the virtual expression of our thoughts? All our organs obey our will, the tongue alone is indispensable, and as a starter, doesn’t know how to lie, physically, of course! They say: a long tongue for a person clever and witty, a thick tongue for a moron and an imbecile.
ROQUEFEUILLE: And a well hung tongue on a gossiper.
MAXIME: And what’s astonishing about observant people who have made the tongue the mirror of the future?
ROBERT: I give up! I give up! And, if Laurence will indeed loan herself—
LAURENCE: What, sir, you want—(laughing) Ah! this can’t be serious?
ROQUEFEUILLE: Close your mouth! (She closes her lips)
ROBERT: I beg your pardon, nothing is more serious!
LAURENCE: Ah! for goodness sakes! (she laughs)
ROQUEFEUILLE: (putting his pince nez on his nose) Come on, beautiful lady, come on, put out your tongue!
LAURENCE: (breaking into laughter) Ah! my word! I cannot! Ha, ha, ha! (she falls laughing onto the sofa.Maxime and Robert look at her, as Roquefeuille sticks his tongue out at them.)
ROBERT: Didn’t make it!
MAXIME: (to Roquefeuille) It’s your fault!
MAXIME AND ROBERT: Yes, you made her laugh!
ROQUEFEUILLE: It was you!
MAXIME: AND ROBERT: It was you!
ROQUEFEUILLE: It was you.
LEONIE: (entering) My God! what’s the matter?
LAURENCE: Ah! the most clownish idea!
MAXIME: (quickly) It’s nothing (aside) Not much more was needed to make me ridiculous in her eyes?
LEONIE: My room is ready; do you want to give the order to your servants to bring my baggage?
MAXIME: Servants? Ah, madame—no other than myself is necessary.
ROQUEFEUILLE: And me? (aside) Let’s call off the hounds!
LEONIE: Ah! you are very gallant, the two of you! Well, follow me!
MAXIME: To the end of the world!
ROQUEFEUILLE: (low, to Laurence) Oof! and by two! But watch out for that guy, he has some ideas—flighty ones (he escapes)
ROBERT: (as Leonie, Maxime and Roquefeuille leave) My wife says she’s ill, and is marvelously well! We are really going to see! You are fleeing me, Laurence?
ROBERT: Stay, I beg you—you’d think I frighten you.
ROBERT: And, I confess, I myself, am tempted to believe it a little, to see the care with which you avoid me.
LAURENCE: I avoid you?
ROBERT: I don’t suppose you will say that it’s chance alone which is putting a third party in our private conversation, and ceaselessly raises a barrier between the two of us?
LAURENCE: Why, yes, truly—I haven’t noticed—
ROBERT: You cannot know, my dear Laurence, the pleasure that you give me in speaking this way; for, on honor, I had almost begun to suspect your affection.
LAURENCE: Oh, Robert, what an idea!
ROBERT: Ah! damn, dear friend, you know, the heart can become tired, in the end, of loving alone, of struggling alone, and without another heart to respond to it, and then—Come sit near me.
LAURENCE: (terrified) Thanks! thanks!
ROBERT: Again! You move away when I call you?
LAURENCE: I am not moving away! (she recoils)
ROBERT: Then come, I beg you.
LAURENCE: (sitting) Got to do it!
ROBERT: Ah! And now, my dear Laurence, that we are, one on one with each other, no longer old spouses, but like young lovers, will you tell me what is the subject of your preoccupations?
LAURENCE: I assure you—
ROBERT: Haven’t we been living like strangers for the past week?
LAURENCE: (wishing to rise) Robert!
ROBERT: There! see, the very moment in which for the first time, I find you alone, you already want to leave me. You don’t love me .
LAURENCE: I don’t love you! (aside) What torture!
ROBERT: Is this a young girl? Is this my wife who is speaking to me?
LAURENCE: (aside) Oh! my God!
ROBERT: I would understand you if you were Miss de Croix instead of being Madame Maubray, and if my passion—
LAURENCE: Why, I assure you there’s nothing to it, I—
ROBERT: If you loved me would your eyes be lowering themselves before mine? If you loved me, would you find me ridiculous and boring? If you loved me, would you push away my arm which entwines your waist? (he takes her by the waist)
LAURENCE: (overwhelmed by agitation) Robert! Robert!
ROBERT: As for me, I love you! (he wants to take her in his arms, she rises)
LEONIE: (entering with a hatbox) It’s only me, dear friends, don’t be disturbed!
ROBERT: Plague on all intruders!
LEONIE: (low to Laurence) It seems I got here just in time!
ROBERT: How did it happen my dear Laurence, that your servants didn’t announce Madame de Vanvres?
LEONIE: What do you mean, announce me? They won’t announce me now that I am part of the household.
ROBERT: Of the household?
LEONIE: Why, you see plainly, I am moving in.
ROBERT: What! That room you were speaking of?
LEONIE: Why, it’s here!
LEONIE: Your wife didn’t tell you? Because she wanted to give you a pleasant surprise!
ROBERT: (aside) She’s giving herself a bodyguard!
LEONIE: (low to Laurence) He’s furious!
LAURENCE: You’re not miffed with me, my friend, for what I’ve done?
ROBERT: Not at all! I am enchanted, enchanted!
LEONIE: I told these gentlemen to put my effects in my room.
ROBERT: The guest room at the other end of the apartment?
LEONIE: What are you thinking of? A place inhabited by all sorts of people? I would die the first night. No, no, the room adjoining that of your wife. (starts to leave)
ROBERT: (furious) Say her room right out, and let’s not speak of it any more! (to Laurence) Finally, as I was telling you, my dear Laurence—
LEONIE: Over here, Mr. Maxime, this way!
MAXIME: (enters, with irony) Here I am, madame!
ROBERT: (walking around agitatedly) The other one! Ah! they are pushing things to extremes!
MAXIME: What’s the matter with him?
LEONIE: He’s got the vapors. Well, my hat boxes, and my dresses, and Mr. Roquefeuille.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (entering with boxes) Here, here, here!
ROBERT: Again! It only lacked him!
LEONIE: This way, gentlemen!
ROQUEFEUILLE: (unburdening himself) Oof! And they want me to get married!
ROBERT: (aside) Come on! it’s over! I am no longer in my own home! It’s a train station, a loading platform! Oh! I’d enjoy breaking something. (he rings)
LAURENCE: (low to Leonie) How will this end?
BAPTISTE: (entering) Monsieur rang?
ROBERT: My papers!
BAPTISTE: Why, sir—
ROBERT: I asked you for my newspapers! Is that clear?
BAPTISTE: It’s that—
ROBERT: You don’t reply: it’s that—to a man who asks for his newspapers. If my papers doesn’t get here by tomorrow, you will be discharged—
LAURENCE: They mislaid it my friend (to Robert) Go, and keep your mouth shut! (he leaves)
ROQUEFEUILLE: (to Robert) For the last week, nothing but platitudes in the papers.
ROBERT: How much patience one must have!
MAXIME: (laughing) And all that because you haven’t read your paper. You can boast of being a proud original!
ROBERT: Does that concern you? Yes, I am furious because papers do not vanish without a trace! For the last week I haven’t seen a single one!
MAXIME: If that’s what’s bothering you, see the lucky chance! I can come to your assistance.
MAXIME: I’ve got today’s newspaper in my pocket!
LAURENCE: (aside) Ah!
LEONIE: (aside) Clumsy!
ROQUEFEUILLE: He really needed it!
ROBERT: At bottom, I don’t care much about it.
MAXIME: Yes, yes! There’s a story in it which concerns me, and under the title of friend, you ought to be interested in it.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (low to Maxime) Be quiet, will you?
LEONIE: (low) Be quiet, will you?
MAXIME: Huh? Is it wrong to say, madame, that your name appears near mine in the publication
LEONIE: For certain, sir, you will compromise me
LAURENCE: (low to Roquefeuille) He’s going to see ours, too!
ROQUEFEUILLE: By Jove! How to parry the blow?
ROBERT: Ah! ah! you are there already? My compliments—
ROQUEFEUILLE: My condolences!
LEONIE: (getting between Maxime and Robert) Don’t read it! I never authorized Mr. Duvernet—Don’t read it!
ROBERT: Indeed! indeed!
LAURENCE: What to do?
LEONIE: (low to Roquefeuille) On guard! (Robert reads the paper)
ROQUEFEUILLE: Some cool headedness! Some audacity! (to Leonie) What are you looking for, madame?a piece of cardboard or some paper to divide this linen?
LEONIE: Yes, exactly.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (in a low voice) The newspaper?
ROBERT: Where are these publications that I cannot find?
MAXIME: On the fourth page!—Dummy!
ROBERT: That’s right!
LOUISE: (taking the paper) Excuse me, my dear Maubray, now this is what we need.
ROQUEFEUILLE: Well executed!
ROBERT: (astonished, containing himself) Why, madame you don’t use a whole newspaper, to divide a skein of linen!
LEONIE: That’s perfectly true! You see, when I am wrong, I admit it. (she tears the paper in two and gives him the first half) Here, read your Paris first.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (aside) Bravo! And they want me to get married? Ah, no!
MAXIME: (going to Leonie and taking half of the paper) No indeed, no indeed, madame! The paragraph that I want to make Robert read is in the second part of the paper.
LEONIE: (low) My God, how impossible you are!
MAXIME: You are saying?
LEONIE: I said nothing.
MAXIME: I heard wrong.
MAXIME: Huh? (he takes half of the paper, tears it in two and returns half to Leonie) There’s still enough there to divide ten skeins ! (to Robert) And if you wish to cast your eyes—(he gives him a quarter of the paper.)
ROBERT: Aside, looking at Leonie) Now there’s a little lady who will quite simply make me commit a crime. (taking the paper from Maxime) Give it to me.
LAURENCE: (to Roquefeuille) Lost!
ROQUEFEUILLE: (low) Not yet! (he turns over the ink on the table) Ah!
MAXIME: What’s the matter?
ROBERT: It seems it is not over.
ROQUEFEUILLE: Ah! my God! madame has just overturned the ink and made an enormous spot on the table. It’s the Black Sea. How to repair it? Quick, madame a scrap of paper!
THE WOMEN: Ah! my God! it’s spreading! Quickly.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (slowly takes the leaf which Robert was holding and gives it to Leonie.) Here, Madame, Dry! dry!
LEONIE: Let’s dry it. (she rubs with the paper)
LAURENCE: Just in time!
MAXIME: Why, madame, for the love of God!
LEONIE: Meddle with what concerns you, my dear sir.
ROBERT: (to Leonie) Ah, indeed! madame, are you making fun of me, by chance?
LEONIE: Can you think that? I assure you that it doesn’t appear so; but I am desolated—
ROQUEFEUILLE: It doesn’t appear so at all.
ROBERT: Eh! it’s really a question of this table!
LEONIE: Then what is it a question of? This is not a scrap of paper, I suppose?
ROBERT: Indeed, madame.
LEONIE: That’s right? that’s the one you were reading? How stupid you are, Roquefeuille!
ROQUEFEUILLE: It’s me then—But the injury can be repaired. Could I suspect that they attached so much importance to a nasty end of a newspaper? In what condition is it now?
MAXIME: Here it is, but in a pitiful state.
ROQUEFEUILLE: It’s slightly stained, but with a little good will—
MAXIME: Impossible to decipher a line.
LAURENCE: (low to Leonie) I am saved)
ROBERT: (to Leonie, explosively) Madame!
LEONIE: My God! what’s the matter with him?
ROBERT: (beside himself) So, madame, I am not duped by all this! This paper is only a pretext for the continual persecutions of which I am the object! I don’t know what bad wind has blown through my household, but for a week, that is to say, since your arrival, everything here has gone from bad to worse. My wife forgets that she is my wife, my friends forget they are my friends! I don’t dare affirm that this is all your work—
LEONIE: But you believe it?
ROBERT: But I believe it.
LEONIE: That’s frank at least.
LAURENCE: My friend!
ROBERT: Leave me alone! because you are all in agreement! Leave me!
LAURENCE: What do you intend to do?
ROBERT: Oh! nothing, I don’t even want to impose the sacrifice of a friend, and I am giving up the territory. (he leaves)
MAXIME: Robert! Robert!
(Robert has shut the door in her face. Maxime leaves by the back left. Music until the lowering of the curtain.)
ROQUEFEUILLE: As Pyrhhus would have said, another victory like that and it’s over for us!
LEONIE: We were pushing things a bit far!
LAURENCE: Ah! I feel it indeed! But what to do now?
ROQUEFEUILLE: There can be no hesitation. You must make peace, fast! fast!
LAURENCE: And how to make peace?
ROQUEFEUILLE: That’s your affair! When a place under siege cannot defend itself, it hoists up a flag and capitulates! Capitulate!
LEONIE: Yes, capitulate! capitulate!
LAURENCE: (heading towards Robert’s door) Indeed, you are right! What have I gained by this comedy?Today, the wrath, perhaps tomorrow the indifference of Robert. I’ve compromised my happiness too much already.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (at the back) Capitulate!
LAURENCE: (going to Robert’s door and trying to open it) Locked.
ROQUEFEUILLE: (to Leonie) Locked!
ALL THREE: Ah!