Эдвард Джордж Бульвер-Литтон
The Lady of Lyons; Or, Love and Pride
Beau. Say no more, madam!—say no more!—[Aside.] Refused! and by a merchant’s daughter!—refused! It will be all over Lyons before sunset!—I will go and bury myself in my chateau, study philosophy, and turn woman-hater. Refused! they ought to be sent to a madhouse!– Ladies, I have the honor to wish you a very good morning. [Exit.
Mme. Deschap. How forward these men are!—I think, child, we kept up our dignity. Any girl, however inexperienced, knows how to accept an offer, but it requires a vast deal of address to refuse one with proper condescension and disdain. I used to practise it at school with the dancing-master.
Damas. Good morning, cousin Deschappelles.—Well, Pauline, are you recovered from last night’s ball?—So many triumphs must be very fatiguing. Even M. Glavis sighed most piteously when you departed; but that might be the effect of the supper.
Pauline. M. Glavis, indeed!
Mme. Deschap. M. Glavis?—as if my daughter would think of M. Glavis!
Damas. Hey-day!—why not?—His father left him a very pretty fortune, and his birth is higher than yours, cousin Deschappelles. But perhaps you are looking to M. Beauseant,—his father was a marquis before the Revolution.
Pauline. M. Beauseant!—Cousin, you delight in tormenting me!
Mme. Deschap. Don’t mind him, Pauline!—Cousin Damas, you have no susceptibility of feeling,—there is a certain indelicacy in all your ideas.—M. Beauseant knows already that he is no match for my daughter!
Damas. Pooh! pooh! one would think you intended your daughter to marry a prince!
Mme. Deschap. Well, and if I did?—what then?—Many a foreign prince—
Damas [interrupting her]. Foreign prince!—foreign fiddlestick!—you ought to be ashamed of such nonsense at your time of life.
Mme. Deschap. My time of life!—That is an expression never applied to any lady till she is sixty-nine and three-quarters;—and only then by the clergyman of the parish.
Servant. Madame, the carriage is at the door. [Exit.
Mme. Deschap. Come, child, put on your bonnet—you really have a very thorough-bred air—not at all like your poor father.—[Fondly]. Ah, you little coquette! when a young lady is always making mischief, it is a sure sign that she takes after her mother!
Pauline. Good day, cousin Damas—and a better humor to you.—[Going back to the table and taking the flowers]. Who could have sent me these flowers? [Exeunt PAULINE and MADAME DESCHAPPELLES.
Damas. That would be an excellent girl if her head had not been turned. I fear she is now become incorrigible! Zounds, what a lucky fellow I am to be still a bachelor! They may talk of the devotion of the sex—but the most faithful attachment in life is that of a woman in love—with herself. [Exit.
The exterior of a small Village Inn—sign, the Golden Lion—A few leagues from Lyons, which is seen at a distance.
Beau. [behind the scenes.] Yes, you may bait the horses; we shall rest here an hour.
Enter BEAUSEANT and GLAVIS.
Gla. Really, my dear Beauseant, consider that I have promised to spend a day or two with you at your chateau, that I am quite at your mercy for my entertainment,—and yet you are as silent and as gloomy as a mute at a funeral, or an Englishman at a party of pleasure.
Beau. Bear with me!—the fact is that I am miserable.
Gla. You—the richest and gayest bachelor in Lyons?
Beau. It is because I am a bachelor that I am miserable.—Thou knowest Pauline—the only daughter of the rich merchant, Mons. Deschappelles?
Gla. Know her?—who does not?—as pretty as Venus, and as proud as Juno.
Beau. Her taste is worse than her pride.—[Drawing himself up.] Know, Glavis, she has actually refused me!
Gla. [aside]. So she has me!—very consoling! In all cases of heart-ache, the application of another man’s disappointment draws out the pain and allays the irritation.—[Aloud.] Refused you! and wherefore?
Beau. I know not, unless it be because the Revolution swept away my father’s title of Marquis,—and she will not marry a commoner. Now, as we have no noblemen left in France,—as we are all citizens and equals, she can only hope that, in spite of the war, some English Milord or German Count will risk his life, by coming to Lyons, that this fille du Roturier may condescend to accept him. Refused me, and with scorn!—By Heaven, I’ll not submit to it tamely:—I’m in a perfect fever of mortification and rage.—Refuse me, indeed!
Gla. Be comforted, my dear fellow,—I will tell you a secret. For the same reason she refused ME!
Beau. You!—that’s a very different matter! But give me your hand, Glavis,—we’ll think of some plan to humble her. Mille diables! I should like to see her married to a strolling player!
Enter Landlord and his Daughter from the Inn.
Land. Your servant, citizen Beauseant,—servant, Sir. Perhaps you will take dinner before you proceed to your chateau; our larder is most plentifully supplied.
Beau. I have no appetite.
Gla. Nor I. Still it is bad travelling on an empty stomach. What have you got? [Takes and looks over the bill of fare.]
[Shout without.] “Long live the Prince!—Long live the Prince!”
Beau. The Prince!—what Prince is that? I thought we had no princes left in France.
Land. Ha, ha! the lads always call him Prince. He has just won the prize in the shooting-match, and they are taking him home in triumph.
Beau. Him! and who’s Mr. Him?
Land. Who should he be but the pride of the village, Claude Melnotte?—Of course you have heard of Claude Melnotte?
Gla. [giving back the bill of fare.] Never had that honor. Soup—ragout of hare—roast chicken, and, in short, all you have!
Beau. The son of old Alelnotte, the gardener?
Land. Exactly so—a wonderful young man.
Beau. How, wonderful?—Are his cabbages better than other people’s
Land. Nay, he don’t garden any more; his father left him well off. He’s only a genus.
Gla. A what?
Land. A genus!—a man who can do everything in life except anything that’s useful—that’s a genus.
Beau. You raise my curiosity;—proceed.
Land. Well, then, about four years ago, old Melnotte died, and left his son well to do in the world. We then all observed that a great change came over young Claude: he took to reading and Latin, and hired a professor from Lyons, who had so much in his head that he was forced to wear a great full-bottom wig to cover it. Then he took a fencing-master, and a dancing-master, and a music-master; and then he learned to paint; and at last it was said that young Claude was to go to Paris, and set up for a painter. The lads laughed at him at first; but he is a stout fellow, is Claude, and as brave as a lion, and soon taught them to laugh the wrong side of their mouths; and now all the boys swear by him, and all the girls pray for him.