The Impostures of Scapin
Produced by Delphine Lettau
THE IMPOSTURES OF SCAPIN.
(LES FOURBERIES DE SCAPIN.)
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH PROSE.
_WITH SHORT INTRODUCTIONS AND EXPLANATORY NOTES_
CHARLES HERON WALL
Acted on May 24, 1671, at the Palais Royal, 'Les Fourberies de
Scapin' had great success. It is nothing, however, but a farce, taken
partly from classical, partly from Italian or from French sources.
Moliere acted the part of Scapin.
ARGANTE, _father to_ OCTAVE _and_ ZERBINETTE.
GERONTE, _father to_ LEANDRE _and_ HYACINTHA.
OCTAVE, _son to_ ARGANTE, _and lover to_ HYACINTHA.
LEANDRE, _son to_ GERONTE, _and lover_ to ZERBINETTE.
ZERBINETTE, _daughter to_ ARGANTE, _believed to be a gypsy
HYACINTHA, _daughter to_ GERONTE.
SCAPIN, _servant to_ LEANDRE.
SILVESTRE, _servant to_ OCTAVE.
NERINE, _nurse to_ HYACINTHA.
_The scene is at_ NAPLES.
THE IMPOSTURES OF SCAPIN.
SCENE I.--OCTAVE, SILVESTRE.
OCT. Ah! what sad news for one in love! What a hard fate to be
reduced to! So, Silvestre, you have just heard at the harbour that my
father is coming back?
OCT. That he returns this very morning?
SIL. This very morning.
OCT. With the intention of marrying me?
SIL. Of marrying you.
OCT. To a daughter of Mr. Geronte?
SIL. Of Mr. Geronte.
OCT. And that this daughter is on her way from Tarentum for that
SIL. For that purpose.
OCT. And you have this news from my uncle?
SIL. From your uncle.
OCT. To whom my father has given all these particulars in a letter?
SIL. In a letter.
OCT. And this uncle, you say, knows all about our doings?
SIL. All our doings.
OCT. Oh! speak, I pray you; don't go on in such a way as that, and
force me to wrench everything from you, word by word.
SIL. But what is the use of my speaking? You don't forget one single
detail, but state everything exactly as it is.
OCT. At least advise me, and tell me what I ought to do in this
SIL. I really feel as much perplexed as you, and I myself need the
advice of some one to guide me.
OCT. I am undone by this unforeseen return.
SIL. And I no less.
OCT. When my father hears what has taken place, a storm of reprimands
will burst upon me.
SIL. Reprimands are not very heavy to bear; would to heaven I were
free at that price! But I am very likely to pay dearly for all your
wild doings, and I see a storm of blows ready to burst upon my
OCT. Heavens! how am I to get clear of all the difficulties that
beset my path!
SIL. You should have thought of that before entering upon it.
OCT. Oh, don't come and plague me to death with your unreasonable
SIL. You plague me much more by your foolish deeds.
OCT. What am I to do? What steps must I take? To what course of
action have recourse?
SCENE II.--OCTAVE, SCAPIN, SILVESTRE.
SCA. How now, Mr. Octave? What is the matter with you? What is it?
What trouble are you in? You are all upset, I see.
OCT. Ah! my dear Scapin, I am in despair; I am lost; I am the most
unfortunate of mortals.
SCA. How is that?
OCT. Don't you know anything of what has happened to me?
OCT. My father is just returning with Mr. Geronte, and they want to
SCA. Well, what is there so dreadful about that?
OCT. Alas! you don't know what cause I have to be anxious.
SCA. No; but it only depends on you that I should soon know; and I am
a man of consolation, a man who can interest himself in the troubles
of young people.
OCT. Ah! Scapin, if you could find some scheme, invent some plot, to
get me out of the trouble I am in, I should think myself indebted to
you for more than life.
SCA. To tell you the truth, there are few things impossible to me
when I once set about them. Heaven has bestowed on me a fair enough
share of genius for the making up of all those neat strokes of mother
wit, for all those ingenious gallantries to which the ignorant and
vulgar give the name of impostures; and I can boast, without vanity,
that there have been very few men more skilful than I in expedients
and intrigues, and who have acquired a greater reputation in the
noble profession. But, to tell the truth, merit is too ill rewarded
nowadays, and I have given up everything of the kind since the
trouble I had through a certain affair which happened to me.
OCT. How? What affair, Scapin?
SCA. An adventure in which justice and I fell out.
OCT. Justice and you?
SCA. Yes; we had a trifling quarrel.
SIL. You and justice?
SCA. Yes. She used me very badly; and I felt so enraged against the
ingratitude of our age that I determined never to do anything for
anybody. But never mind; tell me about yourself all the same.
OCT. You know, Scapin, that two months ago Mr. Geronte and my father
set out together on a voyage, about a certain business in which they
are both interested.
SCA. Yes, I know that.
OCT. And that both Leandre and I were left by our respective fathers,
I under the management of Silvestre, and Leandre under your
SCA. Yes; I have acquitted myself very well of my charge.
OCT. Some time afterwards Leandre met with a young gipsy girl, with
whom he fell in love.
SCA. I know that too.
OCT. As we are great friends, he told me at once of his love, and
took me to see this young girl, whom I thought good-looking, it is
true, but not so beautiful as he would have had me believe. He never
spoke of anything but her; at every opportunity he exaggerated her
grace and her beauty, extolled her intelligence, spoke to me with
transport of the charms of her conversation, and related to me her
most insignificant saying, which he always wanted me to think the
cleverest thing in the world. He often found fault with me for not
thinking as highly as he imagined I ought to do of the things he
related to me, and blamed me again and again for being so insensible
to the power of love.
SCA. I do not see what you are aiming at in all this.
OCT. One day, as I was going with him to the people who have charge
of the girl with whom he is in love, we heard in a small house on a
by-street, lamentations mixed with a good deal of sobbing. We
inquired what it was, and were told by a woman that we might see
there a most piteous sight, in the persons of two strangers, and that
unless we were quite insensible to pity, we should be sure to be
touched with it.
SCA. Where will this lead to?
OCT. Curiosity made me urge Leandre to come in with me. We went into
a low room, where we saw an old woman dying, and with her a servant
who was uttering lamentations, and a young girl dissolved in tears,
the most beautiful, the most touching sight that you ever saw.
SCA. Oh! oh!
OCT. Any other person would have seemed frightful in the condition
she was in, for all the dress she had on was a scanty old petticoat,
with a night jacket of plain fustian, and turned back at the top of
her head a yellow cap, which let her hair fall in disorder on her
shoulders; and yet dressed even thus she shone with a thousand
attractions, and all her person was most charming and pleasant.
SCA. I begin to understand.
OCT. Had you but seen her, Scapin, as I did, you would have thought
SCA. Oh! I have no doubt about it; and without seeing her, I plainly
perceive that she must have been altogether charming.
OCT. Her tears were none of those unpleasant tears which spoil the
face; she had a most touching grace in weeping, and her sorrow was a
most beautiful thing to witness.
SCA. I can see all that.
OCT. All who approached her burst into tears whilst she threw
herself, in her loving way, on the body of the dying woman, whom she
called her dear mother; and nobody could help being moved to the
depths of the heart to see a girl with such a loving disposition.
SCA. Yes, all that is very touching; and I understand that this
loving disposition made you love her.
OCT. Ah! Scapin, a savage would have loved her.
SCA. Certainly; how could anyone help doing so?
OCT. After a few words, with which I tried to soothe her grief, we
left her; and when I asked Leandre what he thought of her, he
answered coldly that she was rather pretty! I was wounded to find how
unfeelingly he spoke to me of her, and I would not tell him the
effect her beauty had had on my heart.
SIL. (_to_ OCTAVE). If you do not abridge your story, we shall
have to stop here till to-morrow. Leave it to me to finish it in a
few words. (_To_ SCAPIN) His heart takes fire from that moment.
He cannot live without going to comfort the amiable and sorrowful
girl. His frequent visits are forbidden by the servant, who has
become her guardian by the death of the mother. Our young man is in
despair; he presses, begs, beseeches--all in vain. He is told that
the young girl, although without friends and without fortune, is of
an honourable family, and that, unless he marries her, he must cease
his visits. His love increases with the difficulties. He racks his
brains; debates, reasons, ponders, and makes up his mind. And, to cut
a long story short, he has been married these three days.
SCA. I see.
SIL. Now, add to this the unforeseen return of the father, who was
not to be back before two whole months; the discovery which the uncle
has made of the marriage; and that other marriage projected between
him and a daughter which Mr. Geronte had by a second wife, whom, they
say, he married at Tarentum.
OCT. And, above all, add also the poverty of my beloved, and the
impossibility there is for me to do anything for her relief.
SCA. Is that all? You are both of you at a great loss about nothing.
Is there any reason to be alarmed? Are you not ashamed, you,
Silvestre, to fall short in such a small matter? Deuce take it all!
You, big and stout as father and mother put together, you can't find
any expedient in your noddle? you can't plan any stratagem, invent
any gallant intrigue to put matters straight? Fie! Plague on the
booby! I wish I had had the two old fellows to bamboozle in former
times; I should not have thought much of it; and I was no bigger than
that, when I had given a hundred delicate proofs of my skill.
SIL. I acknowledge that Heaven has not given me your talent, and that
I have not the brains like you to embroil myself with justice.
OCT. Here is my lovely Hyacintha!
SCENE III.--HYACINTHA, OCTAVE, SCAPIN, SILVESTRE.
HYA. Ah! Octave, is what Silvestre has just told Nerine really true?
Is your father back, and is he bent upon marrying you?
OCT. Yes, it is so, dear Hyacintha; and these tidings have given me a
cruel shock. But what do I see? You are weeping? Why those tears? Do
you suspect me of unfaithfulness, and have you no assurance of the
love I feel for you?
HYA. Yes, Octave, I am sure that you love me now; but can I be sure
that you will love me always?
OCT. Ah! could anyone love you once without loving you for ever?
HYA. I have heard say, Octave, that your sex does not love so long as
ours, and that the ardour men show is a fire which dies out as easily
as it is kindled.
OCT. Then, my dear Hyacintha, my heart is not like that of other men,
and I feel certain that I shall love you till I die.
HYA. I want to believe what you say, and I have no doubt that you are
sincere; but I fear a power which will oppose in your heart the
tender feelings you have for me. You depend on a father who would
marry you to another, and I am sure it would kill me if such a thing
OCT. No, lovely Hyacintha, there is no father who can force me to
break my faith to you, and I could resolve to leave my country, and
even to die, rather than be separated from you. Without having seen
her, I have already conceived a horrible aversion to her whom they
want me to marry; and although I am not cruel, I wish the sea would
swallow her up, or drive her hence forever. Do not weep, then, dear
Hyacintha, for your tears kill me, and I cannot see them without
feeling pierced to the heart.
HYA. Since you wish it, I will dry my tears, and I will wait without
fear for what Heaven shall decide.
OCT. Heaven will be favourable to us.
HYA. It cannot be against us if you are faithful.
OCT. I certainly shall be so.
HYA. Then I shall be happy.
SCA. (_aside_). She is not so bad, after all, and I think her
OCT. (_showing_ SCAPIN). Here is a man who, if he would, could
be of the greatest help to us in all our trouble.
SCA. I have sworn with many oaths never more to meddle with anything.
But if you both entreat me very much, I might....
OCT. Ah! if entreaties will obtain your help, I beseech you with all
my heart to steer our bark.
SCA. (_to_ HYACINTHA). And you, have you anything to say?
HYA. Like him, I beseech you, by all that is most dear to you upon
earth, to assist us in our love.
SCA. I must have a little humanity, and give way. There, don't be
afraid; I will do all I can for you.
OCT. Be sure that....
SCA. (_to_ OCTAVE). Hush! (_To_ HYACINTHA) Go, and make
SCENE IV.--OCTAVE, SCAPIN, SILVESTRE.
SCA. (_to_ OCTAVE). You must prepare yourself to receive your
father with firmness.
OCT. I confess that this meeting frightens me before hand, for with
him I have a natural shyness that I cannot conquer.
SCA. Yes; you must be firm from the first, for fear that he should
take advantage of your weakness, and lead you like a child. Now,
come, try to school yourself into some amount of firmness, and be
ready to answer boldly all he can say to you.
OCT. I will do the best I can.
SCA. Well! let us try a little, just to see. Rehearse your part, and
let us see how you will manage. Come, a look of decision, your head
erect, a bold face.
OCT. Like this.
SCA. A little more.
SCA. That will do. Now, fancy that I am your father, just arrived;
answer me boldly as if it were he himself.--"What! you scoundrel,
you good-for-nothing fellow, you infamous rascal, unworthy son of
such a father as I, dare you appear before me after what you have
done, and after the infamous trick you have played me during my
absence? Is this, you rascal, the reward of all my care? Is this the
fruit of all my devotion? Is this the respect due to me? Is this the
respect you retain for me?"--Now then, now then.--"You are insolent
enough, scoundrel, to go and engage yourself without the consent of
your father, and contract a clandestine marriage! Answer me, you
villain! Answer me. Let me hear your fine reasons"....--Why, the
deuce, you seem quite lost.
OCT. It is because I imagine I hear my father speaking.
SCA. Why, yes; and it is for this reason that you must try not to
look like an idiot.
OCT. I will be more resolute, and will answer more firmly.
SCA. Quite sure?
SIL. Here is your father coming.
OCT. Oh heavens! I am lost.
SCENE V.--SCAPIN, SILVESTRE.
SCA. Stop, Octave; stop. He's off. What a poor specimen it is! Let's
wait for the old man all the same.
SIL. What shall I tell him?
SCA. Leave him to me; only follow me.
SCENE VI.--ARGANTE, SCAPIN, SILVESTRE (_at the further part of the
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). Did anyone ever hear of such an
SCA. (_to_ SILVESTRE). He has already heard of the affair, and
is so struck by it that, although alone, he speaks aloud about it.
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). Such a bold thing to do.
SCA. (_to_ SILVESTRE). Let us listen to him.
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). I should like to know what they
can say to me about this fine marriage.
SCA. (_aside_). We have it all ready.
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). Will they try to deny it?
SCA. (_aside_). No: we have no thought of doing so.
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). Or will they undertake to
SCA. (_aside_). That may be.
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). Do they intend to deceive me
with impertinent stories?
SCA. (_aside_). May be.
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). All they can say will be
SCA. We shall see.
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). They will not take me in.
SCA. (_aside_). I don't know that.
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). I shall know how to put my
rascal of a son in a safe place.
SCA. (_aside_). We shall see about that.
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). And as for that rascal
Silvestre, I will cudgel him soundly.
SIL. (_to_ SCAPIN). I should have been very much astonished if
he had forgotten me.
ARG. (_seeing_ SILVESTRE). Ah, ah! here you are, most wise
governor of a family, fine director of young people!
SCA. Sir, I am delighted to see you back.
ARG. Good morning, Scapin. (_To_ SILVESTRE) You have really
followed my orders in a fine manner, and my son has behaved
SCA. You are quite well, I see.
ARG. Pretty well. (_To_ SILVESTRE) You don't say a word, you
SCA. Have you had a pleasant journey?
ARG. Yes, yes, very good. Leave me alone a little to scold this
SCA. You want to scold?
ARG. Yes, I wish to scold.
SCA. But whom, Sir?
ARG. (_Pointing to_ SILVESTRE). This scoundrel!
ARG. Have you not heard what has taken place during my absence?
SCA. Yes, I have heard some trifling thing.
ARG. How! Some trifling thing! Such an action as this?
SCA. You are about right.
ARG. Such a daring thing to do!
SCA. That's quite true.
ARG. To marry without his father's consent!
SCA. Yes, there is something to be said against it, but my opinion is
that you should make no fuss about it.
ARG. This is your opinion, but not mine; and I will make as much fuss
as I please. What! do you not think that I have every reason to be
SCA. Quite so. I was angry myself when I first heard it; and I so far
felt interested in your behalf that I rated your son well. Just ask
him the fine sermons I gave him, and how I lectured him about the
little respect he showed his father, whose very footsteps he ought to
kiss. You could not yourself talk better to him. But what of that? I
submitted to reason, and considered that, after all, he had done
nothing so dreadful.
ARG. What are you telling me? He has done nothing so dreadful? When
he goes and marries straight off a perfect stranger?
SCA. What can one do? he was urged to it by his destiny.
ARG. Oh, oh! You give me there a fine reason. One has nothing better
to do now than to commit the greatest crime imaginable--to cheat,
steal, and murder--and give for an excuse that we were urged to it by
SCA. Ah me! You take my words too much like a philosopher. I mean to
say that he was fatally engaged in this affair.
ARG. And why did he engage in it?
SCA. Do you expect him to be as wise as you are? Can you put an old
head on young shoulders, and expect young people to have all the
prudence necessary to do nothing but what is reasonable? Just look at
our Leandre, who, in spite of all my lessons, has done even worse
than that. I should like to know whether you yourself were not young
once, and have not played as many pranks as others? I have heard say
that you were a sad fellow in your time, that you played the gallant
among the most gallant of those days, and that you never gave in
until you had gained your point.
ARG. It is true, I grant it; but I always confined myself to
gallantry, and never went so far as to do what he has done.
SCA. But what was he to do? He sees a young person who wishes him
well; for he inherits it from you that all women love him. He thinks
her charming, goes to see her, makes love to her, sighs as lovers
sigh, and does the passionate swain. She yields to his pressing
visits; he pushes his fortune. But her relations catch him with her,
and oblige him to marry her by main force.
SIL. (_aside_). What a clever cheat!
SCA. Would you have him suffer them to murder him? It is still better
to be married than to be dead.
ARG. I was not told that the thing had happened in that way.
SCA. (_showing_ SILVESTRE). Ask him, if you like; he will tell
you the same thing.
ARG. (_to_ SILVESTRE). Was he married against his wish?
SIL. Yes, Sir.
SCA. Do you think I would tell you an untruth?
ARG. Then he should have gone at once to a lawyer to protest against
SCA. It is the very thing he would not do.
ARG. It would have made it easier for me to break off the marriage.
SCA. Break off the marriage?
SCA. You will not break it off.
ARG. I shall not break it off?
ARG. What! Have I not on my side the rights of a father, and can I
not have satisfaction for the violence done to my son?
SCA. This is a thing he will not consent to.
ARG. He will not consent to it?
ARG. My son?
SCA. Your son. Would you have him acknowledge that he was frightened,
and that he yielded by force to what was wanted of him? He will take
care not to confess that; it would be to wrong himself, and show
himself unworthy of a father like you.
ARG. I don't care for all that.
SCA. He must, for his own honour and yours, say that he married of
his own free will.
ARG. And I wish for my own honour, and for his, that he should say
SCA. I am sure he will not do that.
ARG. I shall soon make him do it.
SCA. He will not acknowledge it, I tell you.
ARG. He shall do it, or I will disinherit him.
ARG. How nonsense?
SCA. You will not disinherit him.
ARG. I shall not disinherit him?
ARG. Well! This is really too much! I shall not disinherit my son!
SCA. No, I tell you.
ARG. Who will hinder me?
SCA. You yourself.
SCA. Yes; you will never have the heart to do it.
ARG. I shall have the heart.
SCA. You are joking.
ARG. I am not joking.
SCA. Paternal love will carry the day.
ARG. No, it will not.
SCA. Yes, yes.
ARG. I tell you that I will disinherit him.
ARG. You may say rubbish; but I will.
SCA. Gracious me, I know that you are naturally a kind-hearted man.
ARG. No, I am not kind-hearted; I can be angry when I choose. Leave
off talking; you put me out of all patience. (_To_ SYLVESTRE)
Go, you rascal, run and fetch my son, while I go to Mr. Geronte and
tell him of my misfortune.
SCA. Sir, if I can be useful to you in any way, you have but to order
ARG. I thank you. (_Aside_) Ah! Why is he my only son? Oh! that
I had with me the daughter that Heaven has taken away from me, so
that I might make her my heir.
SCENE VII.--SCAPIN, SYLVESTRE.
SIL. You are a great man, I must confess; and things are in a fair
way to succeed. But, on the other hand, we are greatly pressed for
money, and we have people dunning us.
SCA. Leave it to me; the plan is all ready. I am only puzzling my
brains to find out a fellow to act along with us, in order to play a
personage I want. But let me see; just look at me a little. Stick
your cap rather rakishly on one side. Put on a furious look. Put your
hand on your side. Walk about like a king on the stage. [Footnote:
Compare the 'Impromptu of Versailles'.] That will do. Follow me. I
possess some means of changing your face and voice.
SIL. I pray you, Scapin, don't go and embroil me with justice.
SCA. Never mind, we will share our perils like brothers, and three
years more or less on the galleys are not sufficient to check a noble
SCENE I.--GERONTE, ARGANTE.
GER. Yes, there is no doubt but that with this weather we shall have
our people with us to-day; and a sailor who has arrived from Tarentum
told me just now that he had seen our man about to start with the
ship. But my daughter's arrival will find things strangely altered
from what we thought they would be, and what you have just told me of
your son has put an end to all the plans we had made together.
ARG. Don't be anxious about that; I give you my word that I shall
remove that obstacle, and I am going to see about it this moment.
GER. In all good faith, Mr. Argante, shall I tell you what? The
education of children is a thing that one could never be too careful
ARG. You are right; but why do you say that?
GER. Because most of the follies of young men come from the way they
have been brought up by their fathers.
ARG. It is so sometimes, certainly; but what do you mean by saying
that to me?
GER. Why do I say that to you?
GER. Because, if, like a courageous father, you had corrected your
son when he was young, he would not have played you such a trick.
ARG. I see. So that you have corrected your own much better?
GER. Certainly; and I should be very sorry if he had done anything at
all like what yours has done.
ARG. And if that son, so well brought up, had done worse even than
mine, what would you say?
GER. What do you mean?
ARG. I mean, Mr. Geronte, that we should never be so ready to blame
the conduct of others, and that those who live in glass houses should
not throw stones.
GER. I really do not understand you.
ARG. I will explain myself.
GER. Have you heard anything about my son?
ARG. Perhaps I have.
GER. But what?
ARG. Your servant Scapin, in his vexation, only told me the thing
roughly, and you can learn all the particulars from him or from some
one else. For my part, I will at once go to my solicitor, and see
what steps I can take in the matter. Good-bye.
SCENE II.--GERONTE (_alone_).
GER. What can it be? Worse than what his son has done! I am sure I
don't know what anyone can do more wrong than that; and to marry
without the consent of one's father is the worst thing that I can
possibly imagine. [Footnote: No exaggeration, if we consider that
this was said two hundred years ago, and by a French father.]
SCENE III--GERONTE, LEANDRE.
GER. Ah, here you are!
LEA. (_going quickly towards his father to embrace him_). Ah!
father, how glad I am to see you!
GER. (_refusing to embrace him_). Stay, I have to speak to you
LEA. Allow me to embrace you, and....
GER. (_refusing him again_). Gently, I tell you.
LEA. How! father, you deprive me of the pleasure of showing you my
joy at your return?
GER. Certainly; we have something to settle first of all.
LEA. But what?
GER. Just stand there before me, and let me look at you.
LEA. What for?
GER. Look me straight in the face.
GER. Will you tell me what has taken place here in my absence?
LEA. What has taken place?
GER. Yes; what did you do while I was away?
LEA. What would you have me do, father?
GER. It is not I who wanted you to do anything, but who ask you now
what it is you did?
LEA. I have done nothing to give you reason to complain.
GER. Nothing at all?
GER. You speak in a very decided tone.
LEA. It is because I am innocent.
GER. And yet Scapin has told me all about you.
GER. Oh! oh! that name makes you change colour.
LEA. He has told you something about me?
GER. He has. But this is not the place to talk about the business,
and we must go elsewhere to see to it. Go home at once; I will be
there presently. Ah! scoundrel, if you mean to bring dishonour upon
me, I will renounce you for my son, and you will have to avoid my
presence for ever!
SCENE IV.--LEANDRE (_alone_).
LEA. To betray me after that fashion! A rascal who for so many
reasons should be the first to keep secret what I trust him with! To
go and tell everything to my father! Ah! I swear by all that is dear
to me not to let such villainy go unpunished.
SCENE V.--OCTAVE, LEANDRE, SCAPIN.
OCT. My dear Scapin, what do I not owe to you? What a wonderful man
you are, and how kind of Heaven to send you to my help!
LEA. Ah, ah! here you are, you rascal!
SCA. Sir, your servant; you do me too much honour.
LEA. (_drawing his sword_). You are setting me at defiance, I
believe...Ah! I will teach you how....
SCA. (_falling on his knees_). Sir!
OCT. (_stepping between them_). Ah! Leandre.
LEA. No, Octave, do not keep me back.
SCA. (_to_ LEANDRE). Eh! Sir.
OCT. (_keeping back_ LEANDRE). For mercy's sake!
LEA. (_trying to strike_). Leave me to wreak my anger upon him.
OCT. In the name of our friendship, Leandre, do not strike him.
SCA. What have I done to you, Sir?
LEA. What you have done, you scoundrel!
OCT. (_still keeping back_ LEANDRE). Gently, gently.
LEA. No, Octave, I will have him confess here on the spot the perfidy
of which he is guilty. Yes, scoundrel, I know the trick you have
played me; I have just been told of it. You did not think the secret
would be revealed to me, did you? But I will have you confess it with
your own lips, or I will run you through and through with my sword.
SCA. Ah! Sir, could you really be so cruel as that?
LEA. Speak, I say.
SCA. I have done something against you, Sir?
LEA. Yes, scoundrel! and your conscience must tell you only too well
what it is.
SCA. I assure you that I do not know what you mean.
LEA. (_going towards_ SCAPIN _to strike him_). You do not
OCT. (_keeping back_ LEANDRE). Leandre!
SCA. Well, Sir, since you will have it, I confess that I drank with
some of my friends that small cask of Spanish wine you received as a
present some days ago, and that it was I who made that opening in the
cask, and spilled some water on the ground round it, to make you
believe that all the wine had leaked out.
LEA. What! scoundrel, it was you who drank my Spanish wine, and who
suffered me to scold the servant so much, because I thought it was
she who had played me that trick?
SCA. Yes, Sir; I am very sorry, Sir.
LEA. I am glad to know this. But this is not what I am about now.
SCA. It is not that, Sir?
LEA. No; it is something else, for which I care much more, and I will
have you tell it me.
SCA. I do not remember, Sir, that I ever did anything else.
LEA. (_trying to strike_ SCAPIN). Will you speak?
OCT. (_keeping back_ LEANDRE). Gently.
SCA. Yes, Sir; it is true that three weeks ago, when you sent me in
the evening to take a small watch to the gypsy [Footnote:
_Egyptienne_. Compare act v. scene ii. _Bohemienne_ is a more
usual name.] girl you love, and I came back, my clothes spattered with
mud and my face covered with blood, I told you that I had been attacked
by robbers who had beaten me soundly and had stolen the watch from
me. It is true that I told a lie. It was I who kept the watch, Sir.
LEA. It was you who stole the watch?
SCA. Yes, Sir, in order to know the time.
LEA. Ah! you are telling me fine things; I have indeed a very
faithful servant! But it is not this that I want to know of you.
SCA. It is not this?
LEA. No, infamous wretch! it is something else that I want you to
SCA. (_aside_). Mercy on me!
LEA. Speak at once; I will not be put off.
SCA. Sir, I have done nothing else.
LEA. (_trying to strike_ SCAPIN). Nothing else?
OCT. (_stepping between them_). Ah! I beg....
SCA. Well, Sir, you remember that ghost that six months ago cudgelled
you soundly, and almost made you break your neck down a cellar, where
you fell whilst running away?
SCA. It was I, Sir, who was playing the ghost.
LEA. It was you, wretch! who were playing the ghost?
SCA. Only to frighten you a little, and to cure you of the habit of
making us go out every night as you did.
LEA. I will remember in proper time and place all I have just heard.
But I'll have you speak about the present matter, and tell me what it
is you said to my father.
SCA. What I said to your father?
LEA. Yes, scoundrel! to my father.
SCA. Why, I have not seen him since his return!
LEA. You have not seen him?
SCA. No, Sir.
LEA. Is that the truth?
SCA. The perfect truth; and he shall tell you so himself.
LEA. And yet it was he himself who told me.
SCA. With your leave, Sir, he did not tell you the truth.
SCENE VI.--LEANDRE, OCTAVE, CARLE, SCAPIN.
CAR. Sir, I bring you very bad news concerning your love affair.
LEA. What is it now?
CAR. The gypsies are on the point of carrying off Zerbinette. She
came herself all in tears to ask me to tell you that, unless you take
to them, before two hours are over, the money they have asked you for
her, she will be lost to you for ever.
LEA. Two hours?
CAR. Two hours.
SCENE VII.--LEANDRE, OCTAVE, SCAPIN.
LEA. Ah! my dear Scapin, I pray you to help me.
SCA. (_rising and passing proudly before_ LEANDRE). Ah! my dear
Scapin! I am my dear Scapin, now that I am wanted.
LEA. I will forgive you all that you confessed just now, and more
SCA. No, no; forgive me nothing; run your sword through and through
my body. I should be perfectly satisfied if you were to kill me.
LEA. I beseech you rather to give me life by serving my love.
SCA. Nay, nay; better kill me.
LEA. You are too dear to me for that. I beg of you to make use for me
of that wonderful genius of yours which can conquer everything.
SCA. Certainly not. Kill me, I tell you.
LEA. Ah! for mercy's sake, don't think of that now, but try to give
me the help I ask.
OCT. Scapin, you must do something to help him.
SCA. How can I after such abuse?
LEA. I beseech you to forget my outburst of temper, and to make use
of your skill for me.
OCT. I add my entreaties to his.
SCA. I cannot forget such an insult.
OCT. You must not give way to resentment, Scapin.
LEA. Could you forsake me, Scapin, in this cruel extremity?
SCA. To come all of a sudden and insult me like that.
LEA. I was wrong, I acknowledge.
SCA. To call me scoundrel, knave, infamous wretch!
LEA. I am really very sorry.
SCA. To wish to send your sword through my body!
LEA. I ask you to forgive me, with all my heart; and if you want to
see me at your feet, I beseech you, kneeling, not to give me up.
OCT. Scapin, you cannot resist that?
SCA. Well, get up, and another time remember not to be so hasty.
LEA. Will you try to act for me?
SCA. I will see.
LEA. But you know that time presses.
SCA. Don't be anxious. How much is it you want?
LEA. Five hundred crowns.
OCT. Two hundred pistoles.
SCA. I must extract this money from your respective fathers' pockets.
(_To_ OCTAVE) As far as yours is concerned, my plan is all
ready. (_To_ LEANDRE) And as for yours, although he is the
greatest miser imaginable, we shall find it easier still; for you
know that he is not blessed with too much intellect, and I look upon
him as a man who will believe anything. This cannot offend you; there
is not a suspicion of a resemblance between him and you; and you know
what the world thinks, that he is your father only in name.
LEA. Gently, Scapin.
SCA. Besides, what does it matter? But, Mr. Octave, I see your father
coming. Let us begin by him, since he is the first to cross our path.
Vanish both of you; (_to_ OCTAVE) and you, please, tell Silvestre
to come quickly, and take his part in the affair.
SCENE VIII.--ARGANTE, SCAPIN.
SCA. (_aside_). Here he is, turning it over in his mind.
ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). Such behaviour and such lack of
consideration! To entangle himself in an engagement like that! Ah!
SCA. Your servant, Sir.
ARG. Good morning, Scapin.
SCA. You are thinking of your son's conduct.
ARG. Yes, I acknowledge that it grieves me deeply.
SCA. Ah! Sir, life is full of troubles; and we should always be
prepared for them. I was told, a long time ago, the saying of an
ancient philosopher which I have never forgotten.
ARG. What was it?
SCA. That if the father of a family has been away from home for ever
so short a time, he ought to dwell upon all the sad news that may
greet him on his return. He ought to fancy his house burnt down, his
money stolen, his wife dead, his son married, his daughter ruined;
and be very thankful for whatever falls short of all this. In my
small way of philosophy, I have ever taken this lesson to heart; and
I never come home but I expect to have to bear with the anger of my
masters, their scoldings, insults, kicks, blows, and horse-whipping.
And I always thank my destiny for whatever I do not receive.
ARG. That's all very well; but this rash marriage is more than I can
put up with, and it forces me to break off the match I had intended
for my son. I have come from my solicitor's to see if we can cancel
SCA. Well, Sir, if you will take my advice, you will look to some
other way of settling this business. You know what a law-suit means
in this country, and you'll find yourself in the midst of a strange
bush of thorns.
ARG. I am fully aware that you are quite right; but what else can I
SCA. I think I have found something that will answer much better. The
sorrow that I felt for you made me rummage in my head to find some
means of getting you out of trouble; for I cannot bear to see kind
fathers a prey to grief without feeling sad about it, and, besides, I
have at all times had the greatest regard for you.
ARG. I am much obliged to you.
SCA. Then you must know that I went to the brother of the young girl
whom your son has married. He is one of those fire-eaters, one of
those men all sword-thrusts, who speak of nothing but fighting, and
who think no more of killing a man than of swallowing a glass of
wine. I got him to speak of this marriage; I showed him how easy it
would be to have it broken off, because of the violence used towards
your son. I spoke to him of your prerogatives as father, and of the
weight which your rights, your money, and your friends would have
with justice. I managed him so that at last he lent a ready ear to
the propositions I made to him of arranging the matter amicably for a
sum of money. In short, he will give his consent to the marriage
being cancelled, provided you pay him well.
ARG. And how much did he ask?
SCA. Oh! at first things utterly out of the question.
ARG. But what?
SCA. Things utterly extravagant.
ARG. But what?
SCA. He spoke of no less than five or six hundred pistoles.
ARG. Five or six hundred agues to choke him withal. Does he think me
SCA. Just what I told him. I laughed his proposal to scorn, and made
him understand that you were not a man to be duped in that fashion,
and of whom anyone can ask five or six hundred pistoles! However,
after much talking, this is what we decided upon. "The time is now
come," he said, "when I must go and rejoin the army. I am buying my
equipments, and the want of money I am in forces me to listen to what
you propose. I must have a horse, and I cannot obtain one at all fit
for the service under sixty pistoles."
ARG. Well, yes; I am willing to give sixty pistoles.
SCA. He must have the harness and pistols, and that will cost very
nearly twenty pistoles more.
ARG. Twenty and sixty make eighty.
ARG. It's a great deal; still, I consent to that.
SCA. He must also have a horse for his servant, which, we may expect,
will cost at least thirty pistoles.
ARG. How, the deuce! Let him go to Jericho. He shall have nothing at
ARG. No; he's an insolent fellow.
SCA. Would you have his servant walk?
ARG. Let him get along as he pleases, and the master too.
SCA. Now, Sir, really don't go and hesitate for so little. Don't have
recourse to law, I beg of you, but rather give all that is asked of
you, and save yourself from the clutches of justice.
ARG. Well, well! I will bring myself to give these thirty pistoles
SCA. "I must also have," he said, "a mule to carry...."
ARG. Let him go to the devil with his mule! This is asking too much.
We will go before the judges.
SCA. I beg of you, Sir!
ARG. No, I will not give in.
SCA. Sir, only one small mule.
ARG. No; not even an ass.
ARG. No, I tell you; I prefer going to law.
SCA. Ah! Sir, what are you talking about, and what a resolution you
are going to take. Just cast a glance on the ins and outs of justice,
look at the number of appeals, of stages of jurisdiction; how many
embarrassing procedures; how many ravening wolves through whose claws
you will have to pass; serjeants, solicitors, counsel, registrars,
substitutes, recorders, judges and their clerks. There is not one of
these who, for the merest trifle, couldn't knock over the best case
in the world. A serjeant will issue false writs without your knowing
anything of it. Your solicitor will act in concert with your
adversary, and sell you for ready money. Your counsel, bribed in the
same way, will be nowhere to be found when your case comes on, or
else will bring forward arguments which are the merest shooting in
the air, and will never come to the point. The registrar will issue
writs and decrees against you for contumacy. The recorder's clerk
will make away with some of your papers, or the instructing officer
himself will not say what he has seen, and when, by dint of the
wariest possible precautions, you have escaped all these traps, you
will be amazed that your judges have been set against you either by
bigots or by the women they love. Ah! Sir, save yourself from such a
hell, if you can. 'Tis damnation in this world to have to go to law;
and the mere thought of a lawsuit is quite enough to drive me to the
other end of the world.
ARG. How much does he want for the mule?
SCA. For the mule, for his horse and that of his servant, for the
harness and pistols, and to pay a little something he owes at the
hotel, he asks altogether two hundred pistoles, Sir.
ARG. Two hundred pistoles?
ARG. (_walking about angrily_). No, no; we will go to law.
SCA. Recollect what you are doing.
ARG. I shall go to law.
SCA. Don't go and expose yourself to....
ARG. I will go to law.
SCA. But to go to law you need money. You must have money for the
summons, you must have money for the rolls, for prosecution,
attorney's introduction, solicitor's advice, evidence, and his days
in court. You must have money for the consultations and pleadings of
the counsel, for the right of withdrawing the briefs, and for
engrossed copies of the documents. You must have money for the
reports of the substitutes, for the court fees  at the conclusion,
for registrar's enrolment, drawing up of deeds, sentences, decrees,
rolls, signings, and clerks' despatches; letting alone all the
presents you will have to make. Give this money to the man, and there
you are well out of the whole thing.
 _Epices_, "spices," in ancient times, equalled
_sweetmeats_, and were given to the judge by the side which
gained the suit, as a mark of gratitude. These _epices_ had long
been changed into a compulsory payment of money when Moliere wrote.
In Racine's _Plaideurs_, act ii. scene vii., Petit Jean takes
literally the demand of the judge for _epices_, and fetches the
pepper-box to satisfy him.
ARG. Two hundred pistoles!
SCA. Yes, and you will save by it. I have made a small calculation in
my head of all that justice costs, and I find that by giving two
hundred pistoles to your man you will have a large margin left--say,
at least a hundred and fifty pistoles--without taking into
consideration the cares, troubles, and anxieties, which you will
spare yourself. For were it only to avoid being before everybody the
butt of some facetious counsel, I had rather give three hundred
pistoles than go to law. [Footnote: What would Moliere have said if
he had been living now!]
ARG. I don't care for that, and I challenge all the lawyers to say
anything against me.
SCA. You will do as you please, but in your place I would avoid a
ARG. I will never give two hundred pistoles.
SCA. Ah! here is our man.
SCENE IX.--ARGANTE, SCAPIN, SILVESTRE, _dressed out as a bravo_.
SIL. Scapin, show me that Argante who is the father of Octave.
SCA. What for, Sir?
SIL. I have just been told that he wants to go to law with me, and to
have my sister's marriage annulled.
SCA. I don't know if such is his intention, but he won't consent to
give the two hundred pistoles you asked; he says it's too much.
SIL. S'death! s'blood! If I can but find him, I'll make mince-meat of
him, were I to be broken alive on the wheel afterwards.
(ARGANTE _hides, trembling, behind_ SCAPIN.)
SCA. Sir, the father of Octave is a brave man, and perhaps he will
not be afraid of you.
SIL. Ah! will he not? S'blood! s'death! If he were here, I would in a
moment run my sword through his body. (_Seeing_ ARGANTE.) Who is
SCA. He's not the man, Sir; he's not the man.
SIL. Is he one of his friends?
SCA. No, Sir; on the contrary, he's his greatest enemy.
SIL. His greatest enemy?
SIL. Ah! zounds! I am delighted at it. (_To_ ARGANTE) You are an
enemy of that scoundrel Argante, are you?
SCA. Yes, yes; I assure you that it is so.
SIL. (_shaking_ ARGANTE'S _hand roughly_). Shake hands,
shake hands. I give you my word, I swear upon my honour, by the sword
I wear, by all the oaths I can take, that, before the day is over, I
shall have delivered you of that rascally knave, of that scoundrel
Argante. Trust me.
SCA. But, Sir, violent deeds are not allowed in this country.
SIL. I don't care, and I have nothing to lose.
SCA. He will certainly take his precautions; he has relations,
friends, servants, who will take his part against you.
SIL. Blood and thunder! It is all I ask, all I ask. (_Drawing his
sword_.) Ah! s'death! ah! s'blood! Why can I not meet him at this
very moment, with all these relations and friends of his? If he would
only appear before me, surrounded by a score of them! Why do they not
fall upon me, arms in hand? (_Standing upon his guard_.) What!
you villains! you dare to attack me? Now, s'death! Kill and slay!
(_He lunges out on all sides; as if he were fighting many people at
once_.) No quarter; lay on. Thrust. Firm. Again. Eye and foot. Ah!
knaves! ah! rascals! ah! you shall have a taste of it. I'll give you
your fill. Come on, you rabble! come on. That's what you want, you
there. You shall have your fill of it, I say. Stick to it, you
brutes; stick to it. Now, then, parry; now, then, you. (_Turning
towards_ ARGANTE and SCAPIN.) Parry this; parry. You draw back?
Stand firm, man! S'death! What! Never flinch, I say.
SCA. Sir, we have nothing to do with it.
SIL. That will teach you to trifle with me.
SCENE X.--ARGANTE, SCAPIN.
SCA. Well, Sir, you see how many people are killed for two hundred
pistoles. Now I wish you a good morning.
ARG. (_all trembling_). Scapin.
SCA. What do you say?
ARG. I will give the two hundred pistoles.
SCA. I am very glad of it, for your sake.
ARG. Let us go to him; I have them with me.
SCA. Better give them to me. You must not, for your honour, appear in
this business, now that you have passed for another; and, besides, I
should be afraid that he would ask you for more, if he knew who you
ARG. True; still I should be glad to see to whom I give my money.
SCA. Do you mistrust me then?
ARG. Oh no; but....
SCA. Zounds! Sir; either I am a thief or an honest man; one or the
other. Do you think I would deceive you, and that in all this I have
any other interest at heart than yours and that of my master, whom
you want to take into your family? If I have not all your confidence,
I will have no more to do with all this, and you can look out for
somebody else to get you out of the mess.
ARG. Here then.
SCA. No, Sir; do not trust your money to me. I would rather you
trusted another with your message.
ARG. Ah me! here, take it.
SCA. No, no, I tell you; do not trust me. Who knows if I do not want
to steal your money from you?
ARG. Take it, I tell you, and don't force me to ask you again.
However, mind you have an acknowledgment from him.
SCA. Trust me; he hasn't to do with an idiot.
ARG. I will go home and wait for you.
SCA. I shall be sure to go. (_Alone_.) That one's all right; now
for the other. Ah! here he is. They are sent one after the other to
fall into my net.
SCENE XI.--GERONTE, SCAPIN.
SCA. (_affecting not to see_ GERONTE). O Heaven! O unforeseen
misfortune! O unfortunate father! Poor Geronte, what will you do?
GER. (_aside_). What is he saying there with that doleful face?
SCA. Can no one tell me whereto find Mr. Geronte?
GER. What is the matter, Scapin?
SCA. (_running about on the stage, and still affecting not to see
or hear_ GERONTE). Where could I meet him, to tell him of this
GER. (_stopping_ SCAPIN). What is the matter?
SCA. (_as before_). In vain I run everywhere to meet him. I
cannot find him.
GER. Here I am.
SCA. (_as before_). He must have hidden himself in some place
which nobody can guess.
GER. (_stopping_ SCAPIN _again_). Ho! I say, are you blind?
Can't you see me?
SCA. Ah! Sir, it is impossible to find you.
GER. I have been near you for the last half-hour. What is it all
SCA. Your son, Sir....
GER. Well! My son....
SCA. Has met with the strangest misfortune you ever heard of.
GER. What is it?
SCA. This afternoon I found him looking very sad about something
which you had said to him, and in which you had very improperly mixed
my name. While trying: to dissipate his sorrow, we went and walked
about in the harbour. There, among other things, was to be seen a
Turkish galley. A young Turk, with a gentlemanly look about him,
invited us to go in, and held out his hand to us. We went in. He was
most civil to us; gave us some lunch, with the most excellent fruit
and the best wine you have ever seen.
GER. What is there so sad about all this?
SCA. Wait a little; it is coming. Whilst we were eating, the galley
left the harbour, and when in the open sea, the Turk made me go down
into a boat, and sent me to tell you that unless you sent by me five
hundred crowns, he would take your son prisoner to Algiers.
GER. What! five hundred crowns!
SCA. Yes, Sir; and, moreover, he only gave me two hours to find them
GER. Ah! the scoundrel of a Turk to murder me in that fashion!
SCA. It is for you, Sir, to see quickly about the means of saving
from slavery a son whom you love so tenderly.
GER. What the deuce did he want to go in that galley for? [Footnote:
_Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galere?_ This sentence
has become established in the language with the meaning, "Whatever
business had he there?"]
SCA. He had no idea of what would happen.
GER. Go, Scapin, go quickly, and tell that Turk that I shall send the
police after him.
SCA. The police in the open sea! Are you joking?
GER. What the deuce did he want to go in that galley for?
SCA. A cruel destiny will sometimes lead people.
GER. Listen, Scapin; you must act in this the part of a faithful
SCA. How, Sir?
GER. You must go and tell that Turk that he must send me back my son,
and that you will take his place until I have found the sum he asks.
SCA. Ah! Sir; do you know what you are saying? and do you fancy that
that Turk will be foolish enough to receive a poor wretch like me in
your son's stead?
GER. What the deuce did he want to go in that galley for?
SCA. He could not foresee his misfortune. However, Sir, remember that
he has given me only two hours.
GER. You say that he asks....
SCA. Five hundred crowns.
GER. Five hundred crowns! Has he no conscience?
SCA. Ah! ah! Conscience in a Turk!
GER. Does he understand what five hundred crowns are?
SCA. Yes, Sir, he knows that five hundred crowns are one thousand
five hundred francs. [Footnote: The _ecu_ stands usually for
_petit ecu_, which equalled three franks. "Crown," employed in a
general sense, seems the only translation possible.]
GER. Does the scoundrel think that one thousand five hundred francs
are to be found in the gutter?
SCA. Such people will never listen to reason.
GER. But what the deuce did he want to go in that galley for?
SCA. Ah! what a waste of words! Leave the galley alone; remember that
time presses, and that you are running the risk of losing your son
for ever. Alas! my poor master, perhaps I shall never see you again,
and that at this very moment, whilst I am speaking to you, they are
taking you away to make a slave of you in Algiers! But Heaven is my
witness that I did all I could, and that, if you are not brought
back, it is all owing to the want of love of your father.
GER. Wait a minute, Scapin; I will go and fetch that sum of money.
SCA. Be quick, then, for I am afraid of not being in time.
GER. You said four hundred crowns; did you not?
SCA. No, five hundred crowns.
GER. Five hundred crowns!
GER. What the deuce did he want to go in that galley for?
SCA. Quite right, but be quick.
GER. Could he not have chosen another walk?
SCA. It is true; but act promptly.
GER. Cursed galley!
SCA. (_aside_) That galley sticks in his throat.
GER. Here, Scapin; I had forgotten that I have just received this sum
in gold, and I had no idea it would so soon be wrenched from me.
(_Taking his purse out of his pocket, and making as if he were
giving it to_ SCAPIN.) But mind you tell that Turk that he is a
SCA. (_holding out his hand_). Yes.
GER. (_as above_). An infamous wretch.
SCA. (_still holding out his hand_). Yes.
GER. (_as above_). A man without conscience, a thief.
SCA. Leave that to me.
GER. (_as above_). That....
SCA. All right.
GER. (_as above_). And that, if ever I catch him, he will pay
GER. (_putting back the purse in his pocket_). Go, go quickly,
and fetch my son.
SCA. (_running after him_). Hallo! Sir.
SCA. And the money?
GER. Did I not give it to you?
SCA. No, indeed, you put it back in pour pocket.
GER. Ah! it is grief which troubles my mind.
SCA. So I see.
GER. What the deuce did he want to go in that galley for? Ah! cursed
galley! Scoundrel of a Turk! May the devil take you!
SCAPIN (_alone_). He can't get over the five hundred crowns I
wrench from him; but he has not yet done with me, and I will make him
pay in a different money his imposture about me to his son.
SCENE XII.-OCTAVE, LEANDRE, SCAPIN.
OCT. Well, Scapin, have your plans been successful?
LEA. Have you done anything towards alleviating my sorrow?
SCA. (_to_ OCTAVE). Here are two hundred pistoles I have got
from your father.
OCT. Ah! how happy you make me.
SCA. (_to_ LEANDRE), But I could do nothing for you.
LEA. (_going away_). Then I must die, Sir, for I could not live
SCA. Hallo! stop, stop; my goodness, how quick you are!
LEA. What can become of me?
SCA. There, there, I have all you want.
LEA. Ah! you bring me back to life again.
SCA. But I give it you only on one condition, which is that you will
allow me to revenge myself a little on your father for the trick he
has played me.
LEA. You may do as you please.
SCA. You promise it to me before witnesses?
SCA. There, take these five hundred crowns.
LEA. Ah! I will go at once and buy her whom I adore.
SCENE I.--ZERBINETTE, HYACINTHA, SCAPIN, SILVESTRE.
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
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
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
SIL. Why do you recklessly engage in enterprises that may bring you
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
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.
SCENE II.--GERONTE, SCAPIN.
GER. Well! Scapin, and how have we succeeded about my son's
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?
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
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
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.
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 Geronte, and one vill not in sharity show me
vere is he?" (_To_ GERONTE, _in his ordinary tone_) Do not stir.
"Pardi! I vill find him if he lied in de mittle ob de eart"
(_To_ GERONTE, _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 Geronte is." You are looking for Mr. Geronte?
"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 Geronte, dis prute, dis cat." Mr. Geronte,
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 Geronte?" 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
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
SCA. No, I tell you; it was only the end of his stick that reached
GER. You should have gone a little farther back, then, to spare me,
SCA. (_pushing_ GERONTE'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
Geronte." Hide yourself well. "Tell me, you, Sir gentleman, if you
please, know you not vere is dis Geronte, vat me look for?" No, Sir,
I do not know where Geronte 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 Geronte; 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_ GERONTE _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. (GERONTE _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_, GERONTE _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?
SCENE III.--ZERBINETTE, GERONTE.
ZER. (_laughing, without seeing_ GERONTE). Ah, ah! I must really
come and breathe a little.
GER. (_aside, not seeing_ ZERBINETTE). Ah! I will make you pay
ZER. (_not seeing_ GERONTE). 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?
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?
ZER. There is in his name some Ron...Ronte... Or...Oronte...No.
Ge...Geronte. Yes, Geronte, 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 Geronte will take care to have hung before to-morrow is
SCENE IV.--ZERBINETTE, SILVESTRE.
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.
SCENE V.--ARGANTE, ZERBINETTE, SILVESTRE.
ARG. (_behind the scenes_). Hullo! Silvestre.
SIL. (_to_ ZERBINETTE). Go in there; my master is calling me.
SCENE VI.--ARGANTE, SILVESTRE.
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
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.
SCENE VII.-GERONTE, ARGANTE, SILVESTRE.
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
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
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
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?
SCENE VIII.--ARGANTE, GERONTE, NERINE, SILVESTRE.
GER. What! you here, Nerine?
NER. (_on her knees before_ GERONTE). Ah! Mr. Pandolphe, how....
GER. Call me Geronte, 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.
SCENE IX.--SCAPIN, SILVESTRE.
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 Geronte, 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. Geronte.
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
SIL. Go away; I see them coming.
SCENE X.--GERONTE, ARGANTE, HYACINTHA, ZERBINETTE, NERINE, SILVESTRE.
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.
SCENE XI.--ARGANTE, GERONTE, OCTAVE, HYACINTHA, ZERBINETTE, NERINE,
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. Geronte....
OCT. The daughter of Mr. Geronte will never be anything to me.
GER. It is she who....
OCT. (_to_ GERONTE). 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_ GERONTE). 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
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!
SCENE XII.-ARGANTE, GERONTE, LEANDRE, OCTAVE, HYACINTHA, ZERBINETTE,
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
GER. Oh! what wonderful events!
SCENE XIII.--ARGANTE, GERONTE, LEANDRE, OCTAVE, HYACINTHA,
ZERBINETTE, NERINE, SILVESTRE, CARLE.
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.
SCENE XIV.--ARGANTE, GERONTE, LEANDRE, OCTAVE, HYACINTHA, ZERBINETTE,
NERINE. SILVESTRE, CARLE, SCAPIN.
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. Geronte. Oh!
ARG. I forgive you; die in peace, Scapin.
SCA. (_to_ GERONTE). 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
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
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. Geronte, 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
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