Эдвард Джордж Бульвер-Литтон
The Lady of Lyons; Or, Love and Pride


Beau. A promising youth, certainly! And why do they call him Prince?

Land. Partly because he is at the head of them all, and partly because he has such a proud way with him, and wears such fine clothes—and, in short, looks like a prince.

Beau. And what could have turned the foolish fellow’s brain? The Revolution, I suppose?

Land. Yes—the revolution that turns us all topsy-turvy—the revolution of Love.

Beau. Romantic young Corydon! And with whom is he in love?

Land. Why—but it is a secret, gentlemen.

Beau. Oh! certainly.

Land. Why, then, I hear from his mother, good soul! that it is no less a person than the Beauty of Lyons, Pauline Deschappelles.

Beau. and Glavis. Ha, ha!—Capital!

Land. You may laugh, but it is as true as I stand here.

Beau. And what does the Beauty of Lyons say to his suit?

Land. Lord, sir, she never even condescended to look at him, though when he was a boy he worked in her father’s garden.

Beau. Are you sure of that?

Land. His mother says that Mademoiselle does not know him by sight.

Beau. [taking Glavis aside]. I have hit it,—I have it; here is our revenge! Here is a prince for our haughty damsel. Do you take me?

Gla. Deuce take me if I do!

Beau. Blockhead!—it’s as clear as a map. What if we could make this elegant clown pass himself off as a foreign prince?—lend him money, clothes, equipage for the purpose?—make him propose to Pauline?—marry Pauline? Would it not be delicious?

Gla. Ha, ha!—Excellent! But how shall we support the necessary expenses of his highness?

Beau. Pshaw! Revenge is worth a much larger sacrifice than a few hundred louis;—as for details, my valet is the trustiest fellow, in the world, and shall have the appointment of his highness’s establishment. Let’s go to him at once, and see if he be really this Admirable Crichton.

Gla. With all my heart;—but the dinner?

Beau. Always thinking of dinner! Hark ye, landlord; how far is it to young Melnotte’s cottage? I should like to see such a prodigy.

Land. Turn down the lane,—then strike across the common,—and you will see his mother’s cottage.

Beau. True, he lives with his mother.—[Aside.] We will not trust to an old woman’s discretion; better send for him hither. I’ll just step in and write a note. Come, Glavis.

Gla. Yes,—Beauseant, Glavis, and Co., manufacturers of princes, wholesale and retail,—an uncommonly genteel line of business. But why so grave?

Beau. You think only of the sport,—I of the revenge. [Exeunt within the Inn.

SCENE III

The interior of MELNOTTE’S cottage; flowers placed here and there; a guitar on an oaken table, with a portfolio, etc.; a picture on an easel, covered by a curtain; fencing foils crossed over the mantelpiece; an attempt at refinement in site of the homeliness of the furniture, etc.; a staircase to the right conducts to the upper story.

[Shout without]. “Long live Claude Melnotte!” “Long live the Prince!”

The Widow Mel. Hark!—there’s my dear son;—carried off the prize, I’m sure; and now he’ll want to treat them all.

Claude Mel. [opening the door]. What! you will not come in, my friends! Well, well, there’s a trifle to make merry elsewhere. Good day to you all,—good day!

[Shout]. “Hurrah! Long live Prince Claude!”

Enter CLAUDE MELNOTTE, with a rifle in his hand.

Mel. Give me joy, dear mother!—I’ve won the prize!—never missed one shot! Is it not handsome, this gun?

Widow. Humph!—Well, what is it worth, Claude?

Mel. Worth! What is a riband worth to a soldier? Worth! everything! Glory is priceless!

Widow. Leave glory to great folks. Ah! Claude, Claude, castles in the air cost a vast deal to keep up! How is all this to end? What good does it do thee to learn Latin, and sing songs, and play on the guitar, and fence, and dance, and paint pictures? All very fine; but what does it bring in?

Mel. Wealth! wealth, my mother! Wealth to the mind—wealth to the heart—high thoughts—bright dreams—the hope of fame—the ambition to be worthier to love Pauline.

Widow. My poor son!—The young lady will never think of thee.

Mel. Do the stars think of us? Yet if the prisoner see them shine into his dungeon, wouldst thou bid him turn away from their lustre? Even so from this low cell, poverty, I lift my eyes to Pauline and forget my chains.—[Goes to the picture and draws aside the curtain.]

See, this is her image—painted from memory. Oh, how the canvas wrongs her!—[Takes up the brush and throws it aside.] I shall never be a painter! I can paint no likeness but one, and that is above all art. I would turn soldier—France needs soldiers! But to leave the air that Pauline breathes! What is the hour?—so late? I will tell thee a secret, mother. Thou knowest that for the last six weeks I have sent every day the rarest flowers to Pauline?—she wears them. I have seen them on her breast. Ah, and then the whole universe seemed filled with odors! I have now grown more bold—I have poured my worship into poetry—I have sent the verses to Pauline—I have signed them with my own name. My messenger ought to—be back by this time. I bade him wait for the answer.

Widow. And what answer do you expect, Claude?

Mel. That which the Queen of Navarre sent to the poor troubadour:—“Let me see the Oracle that can tell nations I am beautiful!” She will admit me. I shall hear her speak—I shall meet her eyes—I shall read upon her cheek the sweet thoughts that translate themselves into blushes. Then—then, oh, then—she may forget that I am the peasant’s son!.

Widow. Nay, if she will but hear thee talk, Claude?

Mel. I foresee it all. She will tell me that desert is the true rank. She will give me a badge—a flower—a glove! Oh rapture! I shall join the armies of the republic—I shall rise—I shall win a name that beauty will not blush to hear. I shall return with the right to say to her—“See, how love does not level the proud, but raise the—humble!” Oh, how my heart swells within me!—Oh, what glorious prophets of the future are youth and hope!

[Knock at the door.]

Widow. Come in.

Enter GASPAR.

Mel. Welcome, Gaspar, welcome. Where is the letter? Why do you turn away, man? where is the letter? [GASPAR gives him one.] This! This is mine, the one I intrusted to thee. Didst thou not leave it?

Gaspar. Yes, I left it.

Mel. My own verses returned to me. Nothing else!