CyranA

Adapted from Edmond Rostand

By Doug Zschiegner

Volume 9, Issue 1 (Spring 2022)

Notes from the Adapter/Director to the Reader

Why CyranA?

You’re about to read an adaptation of a French play written in 1898. Over one summer, I collected more than twenty English translations and used them as inspiration (but not imitation) in writing new dialogue. I tried to maintain the story and the style but switched the gender of each character.

Why?

On the practical level, there are always far more actresses than actors, while classical playwrights wrote FAR more male characters. Also practically, this is a monumental play as originally written (up to four hours, over forty characters, and set in a particularly difficult period for costumes).

While addressing those challenges, I still tried to stay close to the original: the mix of humor and heroic sentiment, the passion for romantic poetry presented in a range of verse styles, and the references to historical and—anachronistically—contemporary literature. A humbling challenge, to be sure.

The real impact of the gender-reversal now lies with you:

What is it like to read a 19th century man’s idea of a 17th century man embodied by a 21st century woman?

How difficult is it to imagine a world with an entirely female power structure, female elite soldiers and priests, and with males cultivating plumage to attract a mate? Our title character combines wit, aggression, self-less dedication, literary and military skills, and panache—but has one enormous self- esteem problem.

What is it like to see those traits in a woman instead of a man?

Doug Zschiegner, Adapter/Director

Cyrano de Bergerac. Trans. Renauld, Charles. 1899, Project Gutenberg, 2013

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/41949

Cyrano de Bergerac. Trans. Gladys Thomas, Mary F. Guilemard. 1910 Project Gutenberg, 1998

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks.1254

These are the first published English translations and are the most literal translations from the French. The dialogue is overly-formal and would sound inappropriately awkward onstage today, but they served as the most useful connections to the original meaning of the lines. I did not take literal lines from either. Both are in the Public Domain in the U.S.

DOUG ZSCHIEGNER – Adapter (it’s pronounced CHEEG-ner) Doug is in his 15th year as Associate Director/Associate Professor at Niagara University Theatre’s ambitious BFA program. Directing there includes COMPANY, BAT BOY, SHE LOVES ME, MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM, DECISION HEIGHT and his adaptations of CyranA, THE MACBETH INSURGENCY and PYGMALION NOW.  As an actor, he’s played Equity roles across the country, including Atticus Finch in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and over 35 roles by Shakespeare such as Brutus, Prospero and Orlando at Utah Shakespeare Festival, American Theatre Festival and Shakespeare in Delaware Park. Doug trained at the National Shakespeare Company, NYC and the Professional Theatre Training MFA Program, U of Delaware. He’s directed in Virginia, Philadelphia and Milwaukee and was Associate Director at Mill Mountain Theatre—directing 30 plays in 8 years. Interested in producing CyranA? Contact zschiegner@yahoo.com

CyranA

Adapted From Edmond Rostand

By Doug Zschiegner

THE CHARACTERS

French names, places, and words use French pronunciations

THE WOMEN

Cyrana De Bergerac              poet and duelist, blessed with a large nose

Christiane De Neuvillete      cadet from northern France, blessed with a beautiful face

La Bret                                   officer with the cadets and Cyrana’s longtime comrade

Carbon de Castel-Jaloux       Captain of the Gascony Cadets

Raguena                                 an open-hearted poet and baker

Lignie’re                                 poor composer of satirical songs and lover of liquor

De Guiche                              niece of the Cardinal, climbing in rank

Valvert                                    social climber, serving De Guiche, excellent with a sword

The Marquises:                     fashion-focused social climbers

Bellerose & Brissaille

Montfleury                             popular theatre actor

Jodolet                                    (Usher/Stage Hand)theatre producer

The Priest                              dedicated, but of limited eyesight

The Musketeer                      proud & aggressive

The Cavalry                            looking for adventure

The Pickpocket                     effective at working the underside

The Apprentice                      in training as a pickpocket

The Cadets                             young nobility from the Gascony region

The Bakers                             working for Raguena

The Poets                               ragged and poor and manipulative

The Musicians                       young and of limited skill

THE MEN

Robin                                      Cyrana’s 2nd cousin, a handsome Precieuse, aspiring to more

The Chaperone                      long-time protector of Robin

Luis                                         Raguena’s no-nonsense wife

The Precieuses:                     intent on fashionable excellence & on attracting women

Gerard, Gustave, & Germain

The Orange Boy                    young, selling concessions at the theatre, also a Baker

Two Actors                             masked dancers

The Monks:                           from the Benedictine monastery in Paris

Father Abbot                          head of the monastery

Brother Claude                      the former Chaperone after taking his vows

Brother Bertrum                   new to the order

Other Monks

Originally cast with 15 women and 6 men

ACT ONE

Theatre at the Hotel de Bourgogne

It’s 1640 In Paris, France

In A World Where Women Wear The Pants

An empty theatre. Facing us are benches and a suggestion of a gallery with boxes. Down front is a narrow stage with footlights. A STAGE HAND is sweeping. In one box, an ACTRESS in a robe is putting on make-up before the house opens. An ORANGE BOY is preparing a tray with his concessions: fruit, pastries, wine. A rough looking PICKPOCKET is sneaking around. There’s a skirmish between the USHER and a woman wearing a sword.    

USHER
Wait, where’s your ticket?

MUSKETEER
I enter free.

USHER
Why?

MUSKETEER
Why, I am a Musketeer!

THE PICKPOCKET distracts the USHER with a peashooter while her APPRENTICE also slips in without paying.

MUSKETEER
The house is still empty.

THE PICKPOCKET (aside to THE APPRENTICE)
You see! Distraction. That’s our game. Now, success with a theatre crowd will come from choosing our targets well. Fancy dress doesn’t necessarily mean money. (referring to the fencers)

THE APPRENTICE
The pickings look slim.

They sit and play dice as three masked PRECIEUSES—fashionable young men intent on cultural excellence and on attracting women—pay the USHER and enter.

GERARD

You see we’re too early. Disserted. Just look!
I had plenty of time to finish my book.

GERMAIN

Ah, but soak in the history. This theatre. This stage.
I saw Corneille here—Racine!at an age
When I barely knew culture, but mother
Insisted—taught me like no other.

GUSTAVE

Give me a good seat. Perhaps near an aisle,
My charm should be seen. It makes women smile.

ORANGE BOY

Oranges! Milk! Strawberries and Tea!  

BELLEROSE (entering)

Why make an entrance with no one to see?

BELLEROSE and BRISSAILLE, two Marquises—fashion-focused women—are in.

BRISSAILLE

Pish posh, now you fool. The time we arrive
Depends on the Cardinal. She keeps us alive.

BELLEROSE (indicating the curtained box)

We’re here just before her. She’s not in her place.

BRISSAILLE

Her patronage paid for that fancy new lace!

The beautiful CHRISTIANE, in the uniform of the Gascony Cadets, rushes in and stares up at the boxes. A STAGE HAND is passing by with a tray of lit footlight lanterns, which momentarily frame her in light. There’s a musical chord and a suspension of the action with the focus on CHRISTIANE. This is broken by the entrance of the poorly dressed, singer/poet LIGNIE’RE carrying a bottle. The MARQUISES approach them both.

LIGNIE’RE
Someone left the cage open. The peacocks escaped!

BELLEROSE
Well, if it isn’t that shabby songbird, Lignie’re.

BRISSAILLE
And still upright, this late in the day.

BELLEROSE (seeing CHRISTIANE)
You have a new friend. That delicious face could never tolerate Lignie’re’s libations.

LIGNIE’RE
Christiane de Neuvillette. (pronounced “kris-TYANNE”) Just arrived from the north.

BRISSAILLE
Really. New blood?

CHRISTIANE
Barely a month in Paris. Today, I enlisted to battle Spain with the Royal Guards. The Cadets.

THE PICKPOCKET (stumbling between the group)
Forgive my clumsiness!

BRISSAILLE is distracted and THE APPRENTICE steals her money pouch.

BRISSAILLE
Surely your poison pen calls you to this theatre. Surely you’re composing another salacious satire to lampoon your betters.

LIGNIE’RE
And surely there are buttocks in need of your lips.

BELLEROSE (retreating with BRISSAILLE)
Some day that un-bridled tongue will cost her dearly…

The three PRESCIUSES have spotted CHRISTIANE and cruise up to her.

GUSTAVE

Please pardon good lady, we hope not to upset.
But your ravishing face has caused us to bet.

GERMAINE

Have we seen you in Shakespeare?

GERARD                                                       Or a farce I would say?

GERMAINE

No doubt you’re an actress.

GUSTAVE                                                     We just don’t know the play.

CHRISTIANE (awkwardly)
I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you.

Uncomfortable laughter all around, silence, then the men retreat.

LIGNIE’RE
Why did I let you drag me to the theatre? Your man has not made his entrance and my bottle has reached its finale.

CHRISTIANE
Lignie’re, I need your help. Every performance, the handsome Robin (pronounced “ro-BAN”) sits in that box. We have fallen in love! You’re a renowned songwriter and you know the ways of Paris. You must help me—

LIGNIE’RE
My friend, yours is not a look that requires romantic assistance.

CHRISTIANE
I’m only an honest soldier, but Robin is a precieuse. He studies, attends lectures, strives for the finest things. This language they speak. It confounds me!

LIGNIE’RE
This lack of liquor confounds me. I must find a tavern and replenish.

ORANGE BOY

Hot Tarts! Macaroons! Or cold Orange-Drinks!

LIGNIE’RE

Be honest, my boy. Your selection? It stinks.

ORANGE BOY

Fresh Milk?

LIGNIE’RE                                      Makes me ill.

ORANGE BOY

Cold Water?

LIGNIE’RE                                      Worst still.

ORANGE BOY

Lemonade?

LIGNIE’RE                                      I will pass.

ORANGE BOY

Red Wine?

LIGNIE’RE                                      One large glass! (buying one from him)

RAGENUA (a baker, spiffed up for the occasion, enters with a hearty:)

Bonsoir!

THE MARQUISES, THE PRECIEUSES Ah! Raguena!

LIGNIE’RE Good Christiane, allow me to introduce the most-beloved woman in Paris!

RAGUENA
Lignie’re! Have you seen de Bergerac?

LIGNIE’RE
Every poet, actor, and artist knows Raguena’s Pastry Shop.

RAGUENA
You are too kind.

LIGNIE’RE
And that she will feed them on credit.

RAGUENA
Poetry itself is my compensation.

LIGNIE’RE
Her work is quite delicious. Both her cakes and her verse. Pray tell, what did you pay for your ticket tonight?

RAGUENA
Four custards and fifteen cream-puffs. ‘Tis a premiere! But Cyrana not here? That’s most unexpected.

LIGNIE’RE (onto her next glass)
Why is that?

RAGUENA

But surely you know?

LIGNIE’RE                           I do not.

RAGUENA

                                                                        Excuse me!
The star of tonight’s play? That ham Montfleury!
This actor, you see—quite famous, I guess—
Is so over the top and such a great mess
That Cyr’na banished her work for four weeks.
Her acting tonight could bring violent ‘critiques.’

CHRISTIANE

But who is this Cyr’na? And why would she fear?

LIGNIE’RE 

Oh this cha-rac-ter? Just wait till you hear.

RAGUENA

There’s no one living can attack,
Like Cyrana de Bergerac.

LA BRET (an officer in the Guard, rushes in)

Cyrana here? She’s already arrived?
Blood must have been spilt. And who has survived?

RAGUENA

That bundle of joy is her friend, La Bret.
You want a description? None better to say.

LA BRET (trying to describe Cyrana)

She’s not quite the type you’d see in a painting.

LIGNIE’RE 

Yet, her unique profile has left weak men fainting.     

LA BRET

The sight of her nose often prompts a mild scoff:
‘Say what is that thing? Can’t you just take it off?’
She cuts a proud figure with cape—white-plumed hat.
But the pride that’s within goes quite deeper than that.           
Her soul’s countless worth, no one can dare cheapen.
And as poet and solider and swordsman? Unbeaten!

LIGNIE’RE

Tonight’s expectation: she make’s good on her threat.

RAGUENA

She will, rest assured. I’ve just placed a bet.                              

LA BRET searches for CYRANA. There’s a slap: GUSTAVE has rebuffed the advance of the MUSKETEER, and GUSTAVE and GERMAINE storm out to cheers of the crowd. At the same time, the PICKPOCKETS are dangling a stick with a hook, and snag the hat off BRISSAILE, invoking more cheers. As the PICKPOCKET scrambles down the gallery and the APPRENTICE exits, DE GUICHE, VALERT, THE CHAPERONE, and a masked MAN appear in the boxes. Just as a small orchestra begins to tune, ROBIN removes his mask, and there’s a light and an admiring murmur from the crowd.

CHRISTIANE

That’s him! That’s Robin! Right there in the box!

LIGNIE’RE

My friend, your young chicken is prey of a fox.

RAGUENA

Robin’s cousin of Cyrana (who’s face has that monolith)
But she wouldn’t approve of the company he’s with.

CHRISTIANE

Just tell me the worst.

LIGNIE’RE           

That’s Compte De Guiche.
She’s a sick combination of fop and of leach.
De Guiche thinks she loves him, but she’s already married
To the Cardinal’s nephew. Her advances she’s buried
By wooing Robin through a proxy: Valert!

RAGUENA (to CHRISTIANE)

If you value your life, do not focus up there.

LIGNIE’RE

Raguena, you’re a coward. Don’t shrink from their power.
Myself? I’ll expose them this very same hour.

(pulling out handwritten pages)

I’ve written a song that features their plot,
The dark machinations of that devious lot.                 
It’s a most vicious song. I penned the best rhyme.
(Well, all aren’t the best…perhaps half the time.)
Deception and pretense! Their goal is Robin.

CHRISTIANE

            I swear that I’ll save him.

RAGUENA

      I doubt that you can.
With the Cardinal her aunt, that De Guiche gets her way.

LIGNIE’RE

The lure of good liquor forbids me to stay.
Christiane—he’s a beauty, and intelligent, too.

RAGUENA

            While you’re down here babbling, he’s looking at you.

LIGNIE’RE makes her way to the exit. RAGUENA retreats to LA BRET. As CHRISTIANE and ROBIN make eye contact, the action suspends again. Music. Then the freeze breaks.

CHRISTIANE (staring up at the box)

With each part of my being I know this is love.
I’ll challenge Valvert. Slap her with my glove.
We’ll duel to the death to save my Robin.
I reach in my pocket—

THE PICKPOCKET (caught picking her pocket)

—And you find my hand.

CHRISTIANE (holding her tight)
What are you doing?

THE PICKPOCKET
Wait, wait. Let me go, and I’ll tell you a secret.

CHRISTIANE
What secret?

THE PICKPOCKET
That drunken friend of yours—who just left? Her life’s in peril. A song she wrote offended the high and mighty. There’s going to be an ambush tonight.

CHRISTIANE
An ambush? By whom?

THE PICKPOCKET
A hundred armed women have been hired. I am one.

CHRISTIANE
Who hired a hundred thugs?

THE PICKPOCKET
That I can’t tell you. There’s honor even among us. If you want Lignie’re to wake up tomorrow, warn her to avoid the Port de Nesle tonight.

CHRISTIANE (releasing her)
Where can I find her?

THE PICKPOCKET (scurrying away)
Start with the pubs. She’ll be crawling from one to another for hours.

CHRISTIANE
A hundred to one! The cowards! I go!—But him!—And them!

CHRISTIANE is torn between love and duty, but finally exits. BELLEROSE and BRISSAILLE wave their handkerchiefs and “woo hoo” up at DE GUICHE in her box.

DE GUICHE
Bonsoir.

BELLEROSE
Compte De Guiche, you are looking especially splendid this evening.

BRISSAILLE
Those ribbons are stunning! What call you that color?

DE GUICHE
It’s called ‘Spanish Blood.’

BELLEROSE
Ah, an apt name! For when you join the battle, Spain will bleed indeed.

DE GUICHE
Merci beaucoup.                                                                                                                

The crowd is getting restless. POET #4 and MUSICIAN #2 enter. A short trumpet fanfare. From one curtained box, a red-gloved hand appears and waves imperially. The crowd responds with murmurs and polite applause. LA BRET returns to RAGUNEA.

RAGUNEA
The Cardinal’s here so the play will begin. Will Montfleury perform?

LA BRET
Will Cyrana allow it?

A robed, masked performer, JODELET, takes the stage—facing the onstage crowd—and bangs a large staff three times.

LA BRET
That’s not Montfleury!

RAGUENA
I’ve lost my bet!

JODELET
Mesdames and Messieurs! Welcome to this temple of the arts: the Hotel de Bourgogne! We ask that you silence your conversations and please unwrap any candy. It is with enormous pleasure I present to you, the finest purveyor of the poetic, the last bastion of beauty, that most theatrical of thespians: Madame Montfleury!

Music. Two masked ACTORS with tambourines dance about and frame an entrance. A flamboyant MONTFLEURY makes a grand appearance. She has thick makeup, a burlesque of a pastoral shepherd’s costume, a beribboned pan flute, and a flower. The crowd goes wild. She acknowledges the ovation and ostentatiously throws a kiss up to ROBIN.

MONTFLEURY       (intoning and gesturing dramatically)         

‘Oh, happy the shepherds
Who, far from the city,
Doth appreciate birds
And blossoms so pretty…’

A VOICE
Villain! Were you not forbidden to show your painted face for one month?

The crowd searches for the VOICE, as MONTFLEURY makes another attempt.

MONTFLEURY

‘Oh, happy the shepherds
Who far from the city…’

THE VOICE
Oh, Queen of Clowns, make your exit this instant!

MONTFLEURY

                                    ‘Oh, happy the shepherd…’

THE VOICE
While you’re chewing the scenery, perhaps you’ve a taste for this!

A hand brandishing a cane appears. The ACTORS cower. Most of the crowd supports MONTFLEURY.

CALVARY
Let her perform! We came for a play!

CROWD
Montfleury! Montfleury!

MUSKETEER
Play on! Fear nothing!

MONTFLEURY

                                    ‘Oh, happy the….’

CYRANA (appears, cane aloft, white plumed hat cocked, and one helluva nose)
Well, I shall be angry in a moment.

BRISSAILLE
See here, good woman. This is hardly the place for dramatic criticism.

CYRANA (leaping onto the stage)
One more word and I shall carve this ham like Sunday dinner.

BELLEROSE
But the play! Why deprive us of this literature?

CYRANA
Literature! This sugar-encrusted excrement? Surely someone in Paris has one modicum of taste left. Or have your tongues become so accustomed to a diet of this doggerel, that you can no longer discern the savor of a polished turd?

GERARD
Have you no decency?!

MONTFLEURY
I beseech you!

CYRANA
I will clap my hand three times. On the third, this fool moon will eclipse.

The crowd cheers and boos.

CYRANA (a clap)
One!

MONTFLEURY
While my dedication to my art is without question…

CYRANA
Two!

MONTFLEURY
…there comes a time when prudence…

CYRANA
Three!

MONTFLEURY disappears to the roar of the crowd and JODOLET follows.

MUSKETEER
Coward!

JODELET (reappearing)
Silence good patrons! It’s with a heavy heart I inform you that your favorite tragedian has fallen ill and won’t be able to continue….

MUSKETEER (to CYRANA)
But pray tell, Mademoiselle, why do you this hate this Montfleury?

CYRANA
Two reasons, good youth. Either would be sufficient. One:It offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters.’ This grease-soaked slab of bacon did indeed ‘out Herod-Herod.’ Two: (with a glance at ROBIN) Well…the second is mine own.

JODELET
But you must understand, these people paid for a performance. Would you leave them so unsatisfied? We’ll have to refund their tickets.

CYRANA
That’s the first intelligent thing you’ve spoken all evening. Never let it be said that this sanctuary of Thespis doesn’t provide good value. Catch then this purse and hold then your peace. (tosses her money pouch to JODELET to cheers from the crowd)

JODELET (weighing the pouch)
At this price, you may cancel the performance every night! Twice!

More cheers as some, including the ACTORS, gather around JODELET, others listen to the following. The DE GUICHE party makes it way to the floor of the pit.           

BRISSAILLE                                                                                                            
What a shameful display. Certainly you know this actor is under the generous patronage of one of France’s most powerful Duchesses. Have you a patron?

CYRANA
None.

BRISSAILLE
What, no great patron to shield your name?

CYRANA
None!

BRISSAILLE
No one to protect you?

CYRANA
Would you like to go for three? No, no one! All the protection I need, I wear at my side. (touching her sword)

BRISSAILLE
The Duchess has a long reach.

CYRANA

Should the situation arise,I can lengthen my reach with steel.
Please be so kind as to turn on your toes. (BRISSAILLE is defiant)
Or are you staying to stare at my nose?

BRISSAILLE

            Mon dieu! I do not.

RAGUENA                            Oh my dear.

LA BRET                                                       Oh my God.

CYRANA

Is something amiss? Perhaps something is odd?
Does my nose have a smudge? I hope nothing is wrong.
You don’t think it’s ugly? Or crooked? Or long?

BRISSAILLE

            Your Grace is mistaken!

CYRANA                                           A wart with a hair?

BRISSAILLE

No nothing unusual.

CYRANA                               Then why would you stare?

BRISSAILLE

            I assure you I didn’t. I tried hard not to look.

CYRANA

Why wouldn’t you gaze then? Does it have a hook?
You must be disgusted if you cannot glance.

BRISSAILLE

            Disgusted? Oh no!

CYRANA

Then why not take the chance?
Go ahead. Take a gander. Do you think it large?

BRISSAILLE

            I really don’t think so.

CYRANA

                        Be honest. Take charge.

BRISSAILLE

            As a matter of fact, I would call it quite small.

CYRANA

Well that simply shows you have no brains at all.
My nose in enormous! Immense! Like a trunk!
What you don’t understand is if ever it shrunk
I’d be just like you and I’d hide in disgrace
With that tiny boil in the midst of my face.
You see, I am proud that I cannot pass
For regular folks who get kicked in their ass.

Suiting the word to the action, she boots BRISSAILLE away. The crowd cheers.

DE GUICHE
She’s getting to be tiresome.

VALVERT
That swashbuckling…buckle…swasher!

DE GUICHE
Will no one put her in her place?

VALVERT
I’ll treat her to my razor sharp repartee’. Dear Robin, watch this! (she goes up to CYRANA) Mademoiselle, your nose… it is…very…big!

CYRANA
Very.

VALVERT
Ha!

CYRANA
Is that all?

VALVERT
What-what-what do you mean?

CYRANA

Certainly you can do better than ‘big?’
There are a thousand insults you could create:

Aggressive:                  If that were mine I’d amputate.

Friendly:                      When you drink from a cup how does it stay dry?
Maybe a wine barrel? Just give it a try.

Geographic:                 Is that a rock, or a boulder, or what is the story?
Perhaps a peninsula or large promontory?

Gracious:                     You love the little birds. How sweet!
You’ve grown a perch for their tiny feet.

Considerate:                Take care when you bow lest you lose your balance.

Decorative:                  Does that curtain rod come with drapes and a valance?

RAGUENA (as CYRANA looks to her for a suggestion)
Tender:                       

CYRANA

Pray get a small umbrella made,
Lest in the sun the color fade.

(Members of the crowd now shout out the prompts and CRYANA improvises)

British:                         I cahn’t find my wet bulldog. I hate to ahsk this,
Would you sniff it out with that great proboscis?

Religious:                     Ev’n Gabriel’s Horn couldn’t blow quite like this.

Military:                       She’s brought her own cannon. She must now enlist.

Rustic:                          That a nose? A dwarf pumpkin? Are you eating a pear?
Ah! That prize cu-cum-ber should have won last year’s fair!

Medicinal:                    If that starts to run, we’ll have a tsunami.

Constabulary:              Put up your hands and drop the salami!

Practical:                      A coat tree of your very own.

Productive:                  She would certainly need a big grindstone.

(a beat while the audience figures that one out)

Historical:                    If it blows—we’ll know how Pompeii felt.

Literary:                       Oh that this too too solid nose would melt!

CYRANA poses on stage to enthusiastic applause. She turns back to VALVERT.

CYRANA
You had quite an opportunity here: an audience, a patron to impress, a paramour to dazzle. Your choice for the occasion? ‘Very big.’

DE GUICHE
Come away, Valvert.

VALVERT (trying to rally the crowd)
Listen to this arrogance! This gauche country bumpkin! This failure of fashion! She has no ruffs or ribbons or lace. She doesn’t even have gloves!

CYRANA
That’s true. My elegance lies within. When I rise in the morning I drape myself in dignity rather than decorations. I value liberty over jewelry. Scruples over baubles. Integrity and independence, over conformity and trends. Panache may not be in vogue, but it has served me well.

VALVERT
But, Madame…

CYRANA
As for gloves. I had a pair, but left one in some fop’s face.

VALVERT
Knave! Rascal! Scoundrel! Hack!

CYRANA (bowing, as if VALVERT introduced herself)
Ah! Cyrana de Bergerac! (The crowd particularly enjoys that one. CYRANA turns to leave)

VALVERT (challenging her with a glove swipe to her back)
You buffoon!

CYRANA (suddenly in pain)
Ay! Ah!

LA BRET (from the sidelines)
Cyrana! What ails you?

CYRANA
It’s nothing. This happens when I leave it idle too long.

VALVERT
What are you saying?

CYRANA
Cramps. Cramps in my sword. (draws) There. That’s better.

VALVERT (also drawing)
At last. A chance to put you in your place. You…’poet!’

CYRANA
Oh dear. A battle of wits with the unarmed. One has rules… How about this? To prove that word and sword are equally deadly, while we duel, I’ll improvise a ballade.

VALVERT
A ballade?                                                                     

CYRANA                                                        
Sorry, too big a word? A ‘poem.’ Of strict classical design: Three stanzas of eight lines each and then a coda—a final quatrain—on the last line of which, I will hit.

VALVERT
You?…I?… En garde!

CYRANA
A moment…

VALVERT
To gather your courage?

CYRANA
To gather my rhymes. (thinks a bit, tallying them up) Very good! ‘The Ballade of the Duel at the Hotel de Bourgogne Between Cyrana de Bergerac and an Ostentatious Philistine’

VALVERT
What is that, if you please?

CYRANA
The title.

LA BRET, RAGUENA, and the crowd clear a circle with cries of ‘Make way,’ ‘Give room,’ ‘No noise,’

CYRANA

To begin, I take off my old hat.
My cape soon follows it.
Mine’s not a fancy one like that
But I don’t mind a bit.
The sword I wield for this combat,
Polished and shined with spit,
Will kill a pseudo-aristocrat
Who on the last line, I hit.

VALVERT attacks and they exchange a few moves.

Well, wasn’t that part quite exciting?!
You really can commit.
Since we’ve started up the fighting
What is’t should be my tar-get?
Shall I aim for a spot inviting,
Like head, or hand, or tit?
(This part is only inciting,
On the last line, I hit.)

Another series of moves and counter moves.

You are a fine adversary.
At first, you looked a twit.
This rhyming while we thrust n’ parry
Is challenging I admit.
The word ‘coward’ in my dictionary?
There is no rhyme for it.
To the point, that’s quite ancillary,
For on that last line, I hit.

At the end of this volley, CYRANA disarms VALVERT and has both swords.

And now the final coda:

Start praying to your favorite saint.
‘Tis time to end this bit.
With that I thrust, I lunge, I feint,
And as I said, I HIT!

 CYRANA has crossed both swords like a scissors over VALVERT’s nose, and snips it off on that final word. With a scream, she runs to DE GUICHE, who pushes her back to the fight. As CYRANA modestly bows, VALVERT rushes up and is impaled on the sword CYRANA flourishes behind her. VALVERT falls back on DE GUICHE, who dumps her on BELLEROSE, and they are all three off.

GERARD
You animal!

RAGEUNA
Magnificent!

LA BRET
You are mad!

ORANGE BOY
How heroic!

POET #4
Magnifique!

CAVALRY
That was far better than the play would have been.

ROBIN makes eye contact with CYRANA—another momentary freeze with a note of music—but then the CHAPERONE shuffles her off too. RAGUENA dances with delight, congratulates CYRANA and exits. The CAVALRY tries to comfort [pick-up] GERARD and they exit, followed by the MUSKETEER. The POET and the MUSICIAN remain.

CYRANA (to JODELET)
May we stay a bit?

JODELET
Well of course! But wouldn’t you rather go dine?

CYRANA
Not tonight, my friend.

JODELET, the ACTORS, and the MUSICIAN confer upstage with the POET about her script.

LA BRET
Because?

CYRANA
To dine requires coin.

LA BRET
But that bag of gold?

CYRANA
My nest egg for the month.

LA BRET
Spent in one toss. What a ludicrous waste!

CYRANA
What a glorious moment.

ORANGE BOY (having heard)
Mademoiselle de Bergerac? My humble concessions are yours. Please have all you like.

CYRANA
Young fellow, my Gascon pride refuses charity. Yet I also refuse to disappoint such a tender sapling.

ORANGE BOY
Have some grapes…

CYRANA Just one.

ORANGE BOY
A glass of wine…

CYRANA
Just water.

ORANGE BOY
And a macaroon…

CYRANA
Just a half.

ORANGE BOY
And nothing else?

CYRANA
Your hand to kiss. (she does)

ORANGE BOY
Why thank you. You’re too kind. (The ORANGE BOY retreats up with the ACTORS.)

CYRANA (ceremoniously laying out her ‘banquet’)
Ah! Bon appe’tit!

LA BRET
You’ll be the death of me, if not yourself. These public displays! For every admirer you win, I fear you offend two others. And some in high places.

CYRANA
Who?

LA BRET
The Cardinal for one. She must have thought you…

CYRANA
…original at least.

LA BRET
But why such spite? Such venom? That tirade over a foolish actress?

CYRANA (suddenly bristling)
Montfleury could not be allowed to continue! Preening to please the public. Making googely eyes at the gallery. To dare to raise her gaze to hers…! A slug crawling across a rose!

LA BRET
Methinks I know why the lady protests so much. Could it be a particular rose has caught your eye?

CYRANA
Oh, come La Bret. One thing stands between me and romance: And it enters the room a full minute before I do. Yet this… does not kill desire. As fate would have it, my tastes run to the fairest.

LA BRET
The fairest…

CYRANA
In all the world. The most handsome, most brilliant, most refined…

LA BRET
Do tell!

CYRANA Anyone who sees his smile knows perfection. Every word rings true. Every gesture, divine.

LA BRET
Your cousin, Robin!

CYRANA
Second cousin. As an orphan, my playmate each summer when we were young.

LA BRET

Well, so much the better:
He saw you triumph here tonight!

CYRANA

A chance with him? You’ve lost your sight! (after a beat)
Yes, there are moments, in spring, in the dark,
When I’m walking alone outside of a park,
And I fantasize when I see a pair
Of lovers in moonlight, without a care.
And I think, why not me? And I stand tall.
I then see my profile shadow the wall.

LA BRET

Just now, with that boy who gave you the food,
He did not run. And he said nothing rude.
Robin was cheering you during the duel.

CYRANA

If he laughs in my face—dear God how cruel.
Courage I have, panache with each breath,
But mocked by Robin? I’d much prefer death.

JODELET (entering with the CHAPERONE)
Forgive my interruption. Someone is asking for you.

CYRANA
Why, that’s Robin’s chaperone…

CHAPERONE
My young man bid me inquire you out. What he bid me say I will keep to myself. Except to say that they are private matters.

CYRANA
Private?

CHAPERONE
We attend mass at dawn tomorrow. Thereafter, should you be some place where words may be exchanged…

CYRANA (slumping against LA BRET)
Ah, good lord!

CHAPERONE
My master will also there attend.

CYRANA
Where? Ah…but…ah…yes…where?

CHAPERONE
Where?

LA BRET
Where?

CYRANA
Ah, Raguena’s. Raguena’s Pastry Shop. The Rue Saint.…ah… the Rue Saint-Honore’

CHAPERONE (exiting)
Very good. Be you there at seven.

CYRANA
Without fail! (she falls into LA BRET’s arms) A rendezvous…at dawn!

LA BRET
You don’t hate the world anymore?

CYRANA
The world can go to hell. He knows I live!

LA BRET
I hope his tete-a-tete will calm you down.

CYRANA
Calm? I am mad! Give me a mountain to climb! Dragons to slay!

JODELET
Quiet please, we’re working!

CYRANA
We go. I need giants to battle.

RAGUENA and the CAVALRY burst in dragging LIGNIE’RE, drunk and terrified.

RAGUENA
Cyrana! We need your help.

CYRANA
Good, Lignie’re what’s the matter?

LIGNIE’RE
Rumors in the taverns. They want me dead—because of my song! There’s a hundred women, lying in wait—an ambush—at the Port de Nesle. I must pass through to get home. A hundred killers!

CYRANA

One hundred women? They wait in the night?
(Given my mood, that sounds about right.)
My fellow poet, don’t worry your head.
I promise tonight you will sleep in your bed.

LA BRET

But why take the risk?

CYRANA

I’ll tell you La Bret,
‘Cuz this drunken lout made a gesture one day:
She saw in a church a quite handsome man
And as he was leaving he touched his hand
In-to holy water. So to get him to stop
This fool emptied the basin! She drank every drop!
A woman like that, I want to defend.

LIGNIE’RE

            But killed for my song?

CYRANA                                           Because you’re my friend.

LA BRET

This sounds like a slaughter.

ORANGE BOY                                 I fear it’s your end.

CYRANA

Why don’t you come witness? You all can attend!
Throw open the doors. We’ll parade to the fight.
Nothing but magic can happen this night.

As the group gathers, some taking the footlights as lanterns, we hear great doors open, and moonlight shines on their faces. A momentary tableau.  Music.

ORANGE BOY

            Ah, Paris before us.

RAGEUNA                            All drenched by the moon.

CYRANA

For now, oh so peaceful, but—ah—very soon,
There’ll be an adventure, and then high above
The sun brings the dawn and the dawn brings my love.

Music! CYRANA leads the procession into the night.

End of ACT ONE

ACT TWO

Raguena’s Pastry Shop

The Next Morning at Sunrise

The procession morphs into a raucous, musical transition with the cast moving a few set pieces and a team of BAKERS—in aprons and hats—shifting the long platforms that formed the stage into tables for a cooking assembly line. RAGUENA joins her husband LUIS to conduct the morning’s choreographed, juggled, preparations: eggs, flour, milk, etc. fly into big bowls, dough is kneaded and spread onto trays, breads and pastries are brought from the ovens.          

RAGUENA                                                                              
Yes, my precious artisans! As the silver rays of dawn awake the citizens of Paris, use your gifted hands to create the treats that will nourish their souls. As this auspicious night draws to a close, it is our raison-d’etre to forge the gastronomic delights that will fuel the day’s revelations. (a bell rings and the BAKERS rush to the ovens) As the sun rises on a day of new possibilities, so our bread rises as sustenance to that achievement. We are not mere bakers, but the generators of culinary dreams. If food be the music of love, bake on!

BAKER #3 (presenting RAGUENA with trays of fresh goodies)
Comedic Croissants!

BAKER #1
Tragic Tarts!

BAKER #2
Pastoral Petit Fours!

RAGUENA
You’ve put the clefts on the loaves in the wrong places. The baguette scans better thus: Da dum, Da dum, Da dum, Da dum, Da dum.

BAKER #5 (with a baked harp)

Good Mistress, this I’ve baked just to inspire.

RAGUENA (giving a coin)

Well done! A pastry shaped into a lyre!

LUIS (with a basket of large paper cones)

Our business would no longer court disaster
If you allowed the crew to bake much faster.

RAGUENA

Oh Muse! Avert thine eyes, from my dear spouse.
His bourgeois slant infects our house.

LUIS

But wife, without this dough we’d live in rags.

RAGUENA

Lu-is, I see you’ve made us paper bags.
But what then is this? Oh, break my heart.
Pages of poems, here torn apart!
The words of good friends, now cut into pieces.
Disrespected! Trashed! Destroyed with these creases!
If Verse you treat like this, God knows
What violence you’d do to Prose.

LUIS
Every day the shop fills with your poetic parasites. You accept their attempts at writing as payment. Why shouldn’t I use these useless scraps for something practical?

Two PRECIEUSES enter the shop.

RAGUENA
May I help you, my lovelies?

GUSTAVE
Two of your finest brioches.

RAGUENA
An inspired choice.

GERMAINE
Could you wrap them for us?

RAGUENA
Wrap them? (she searches the bags)

‘Ulysses thus on leaving fair Penelope…’ No, not that one.
‘As Phoebus’ hair shines like the sun…’ Certainly not.
‘Though roses be red, good violets, bright blue…’ Well, if something has to go…

She wraps the pastries. As the gentlemen leave, CYRANA rushes in.

CYRANA
What’s the clock?

RAGUENA
The clock strikes six and the glittering star appears! Your performance last night was magnificent.

CYRANA
Which one?

RAGUENA
Both! Your stunning duel in verse at the Hotel de Bourgogne and then that ambush at the Port de Nesle.

CYRANA
Ah. Ancient history. Six, you say? He’ll be here at seven…

RAGUENA
Never have I seen a more masterful display of sword and word.

LUIS
She’s talked of nothing else all morning.

CYRANA
You pop one windbag, another inflates.

RAGUENA
‘…Will kill a pseudo-aristocrat’ Kudos! (RAGUENA flourishes a loaf as a rapier and knocks a tray of pastries out of a Baker’s hands)

LUIS
Your histrionics will ruin us!

CYRANA
What is the time?

RAGUENA
Two minutes past six.

CYRANA
May I have some privacy?

RAGUENA
Anything for you, but soon my poets will arrive for their morning salon.

LUIS
For their breakfast, more likely. And see if they aren’t still here for lunch.

CYRANA
The time?

RAGUENA
Three minutes past six.

MUSKETEER (entering)
Good Morning, fair Luis!

LUIS (rushing to her)
Wonderful to see you again!

CYRANA (to RAGUENA)
Who’s that?

RAGUENA

A friend of Luis. A warrior he said.

CYRANA

A warrior indeed. At least of the bed.
And tell me again, how much time has past?

RAGUENA

Not five minutes more than when you last asked.

MUSKETEER

I hear you have here, th’ hottest tarts in Pair-ee!

BAKER #2 (aside)

The cheapest one too, it looks like to me.

CYRANA (pressing RAGUENA)

When my guest arrives, I ask you for the room.

RAGUENA

            This person upsets you. You’re face reflects doom.

CYRANA

It’s nothing, good friend. (RAGUENA is skeptical) No lies here today.

RAGUENA

That nose getting longer may give you away!

CYRANA

Let me sit for a moment and give me a pen.

(to herself)

The words in my heart might just flow when
I can put them on paper and not see his face.
For I fear in his presence, I’ll be a disgrace.

CYRANA sits and writes, as a group of bedraggled, cackling, cooing POETS invade the shop.       

LUIS

And in come your vultures, all ready to feed!

POET #2 (to RAGUENA)

Good morrow, good sister!

POET #1                                            Good sister indeed!

POET #4

Once again here we are with a genius so fine.

POET #3

A goddess with rhymes and with pastry, divine!

RAGUENA

Dear Artists, you’re welcome to my humble store.
The treats that await you will nourish, but more—
The words that we share shall soon fill our soul:
A literate banquet to make us all whole.

LUIS (aside to the MUSKETEER)
I think I’m gonna be ill.

The POETS sit to eat. The BAKERS pours coffee.

POET #5
We would have been here sooner, but we were delayed by a mob around the Port de Nesle.

POET #2
The docks were littered with the carcasses of bleeding assassins. Each one un-seamed from the nave to the chops.

POET #5
I counted eight.

CYRANA (as she’s writing)
Hmph. I thought seven…

POET #4
Rumor is that one brilliant buccaneer took on an entire gang.

POET #3
We saw discarded weapons and hats all over the neighborhood.

RAGUENA
Cyrana, do you know something of this?

CYRANA
Not I.

LUIS
And you? You know who could have done this?

MUSKETEER (with faux-false modesty)
Maybe I do. Maybe I don’t… One mustn’t kill and tell.

CYRANA (to herself)
A thousand times when I thought of Robin, these vibrant images filled my head. How pale they seem on the page. How cowardly it seems not to give them voice.

POET #5
And you, good Raguena. What new poetry have you been baking?

RAGUENA
Oh, nothing—well one. A trifle. A Recipe in Verse!

(After begrudging encouragement from the POETS, she recites)

ALMOND TARTS a la RAGUENA

Beat three fresh eggs,
Gently and quick,
Into a rich froth,
Supple and thick.

A lemon then squeeze
But not quite too hard,
Since the juice that you need
Should be lighter than lard.

Fresh milk then add next,
Direct from the cow.
Sweet almonds pour in.
Oh, we’re moving on now!

Then pop it all in
To the oven with care,
In hopes that deliciousness
Soon will be there.

The secret this is
For rich Almond Tarts,
That dee-light the palate
And warm up each heart.

(Over-enthusiastic applause, cries of “Delightful!” “Delicious!”—and more eating)

CYRANA (aside to RAGUENA)
You know they’re only feasting on your words so they can feast on your cakes.

RAGUENA
Oh, I’m aware they’re a bit too generous. But it’s a fair bargain: I feed their needy bellies and they feed my need to read. The end is more poetry for all.

CYRANA
You, dear heart, are a very special woman. (crossing to LUIS with the MUSKETEER) And is this noble conqueror laying siege to you, Luis?

LUIS
I assure you, no one breaches my fortifications without my consent.

CYRANA
A word to the wise: Raguena is my friend. You need another example of what happens to those who threaten my friends? (with a scissor-snipping gesture, she crosses away to the door)

LUIS
Really? You’ve no response? Couldn’t you at least make a joke about her nose?

MUSKETEER It’s not hernose I fear… (they separate)

CYRANA
Here he comes! Hist!

RAGUENA (taking the cue, RAGUENA shuffles them all off, the POETS grabbing the food.)             
We’d be more comfortable in here for our next recitations!

CYRANA (finishing and pocketing the letter)
No need to sign. I’ll only draw this if there’s a glimmer of hope.

ROBIN, masked, enters the shop, followed closely by the CHAPERONE.

CYRANA
Bonjour and welcome! (the CHAPERONE interrupts her advance)

Ah, noble sir, grant a word? Even two?

CHAPERONE

You can have up to four, should that please you.
My role is to chap’rone, the virtuous Robin.
Just try to get past me, if you think that you can.

CYRANA

Do sweet things entice, dear? Do they challenge your norms?

CHAPERONE

Temptation comes on me in so many forms.

CYRANA (filling a poem with treats)

Three cream puffs, two tarts…

CHAPERONE                                      And a couple of cakes.

CYRANA

And wrap it all up in some drivel that takes
A free hand with rhyme, but nevertheless
Makes a mighty good package for this sweet largess.

            (shuffling the CHAPERONE out)

The warm morning beckons. It’s barely hot.
And you can come back when you’ve finished the lot!

The door slams and CYRANA is alone with ROBIN.

CYRANA
Dear Robin. Blessed be this blessed hour when you remembered to remember me.

ROBIN (unmasking)
I come from Confession for confession. For your ears alone. But first I offer thanksgiving for your gallantry at the theatre last night. That dandy you checkmated with weapon and wit is the pawn of a great lady who thinks she’s in love with me.

CYRANA
Ha. Compte De Guiche?

ROBIN
Indeed. De Guiche was insisting I marry the dolt. No doubt as cover for her own attempts to win me. You foiled her advance.

CYRANA
A happy chance! Then I fought not for my nose but for your hand.

ROBIN
And for that I thank you. But before I confess, I need to remember you again as that faithful young playmate in our days beside the lake…

CYRANA
When you’d come each spring to visit Bergerac! We’d gather mulberries…

ROBIN
You’d cut reeds to serve as your swords…

CYRANA
The silk of corn would serve as hair for your dolls…

ROBIN
And we’d dream of lives far richer than those we lived then.

CYRANA
You were so different from the other children. So eager to explore. Be more.

ROBIN
And you would do all that I asked. You’d run to me with a scratch from battling some imagined foe. And I would play father and scold and bandage you. (seeing the wound on her hand now) What’s this? Perhaps you haven’t grown up at all.

CYRANA
The foes are real now—a skirmish at the Port de Nesle.

ROBIN (cleaning her wound with his handkerchief)
Here, let me.

CYRANA
Your touch…

ROBIN
Tell me. How many did you fight?

CYRANA
Oh, no more than a hundred. But you are now out of your text. What did you come to say?

ROBIN
Our childhood memories have inspired me. Yes, now I dare: I am in love.

CYRANA
In love?

ROBIN
With one who doesn’t know.

CYRANA
Ah.

ROBIN
Not yet.

CYRANA
Ah?

ROBIN
But I know she loves from afar and dares not speak.

CYRANA
Ah.

ROBIN
Your hand… Are you getting a fever?

CYRANA
Ah…

ROBIN
She’s in the Guard. In your company in fact. Can you believe it?

CYRANA
Ah!

ROBIN
Such pride…such panache…so noble…so beautiful!

CYRANA (pulling away)
Beautiful?

ROBIN
What’s wrong?

CYRANA
Nothing. This wound may prove fatal after all.

ROBIN
I love her. Even though we’ve only seen each other in the theatre.

CYRANA
You’ve never spoken?

ROBIN
Only with our eyes.

CYRANA
Then how do you know?

ROBIN
Why, Cyrana. A man just knows. Besides I have spies—well, confidantes—for confirmation.

CYRANA
She’s in the Guard? In my company?

ROBIN
Christiane de Neuvillette.

CYRANA
There’s no ‘Christiane’ in the Guard!

ROBIN
There is. Since yesterday. Under Captain de Castel-Jaloux.

CYRANA
How quickly. How quickly we fling away our hearts.

CHAPERONE (entering)

I’ve finished the cakes. ‘Tis now time to go.

CYRANA

Go read the bags! Oh, here’s sourdough! (he’s back out with more food)
Robin, you love words, intelligence and more.
For all that you know she could be a bore.
You need to explore her soul and her wit.

ROBIN

Her face looks so bright and her eyes confirm it.

CYRANA      

With the right presentation all food can look rich.
What if she’s stupid?

ROBIN                                  Then I’ll die in a ditch.

CYRANA

            So why the confession? And why meet me here?

ROBIN

Because I heard something that filled me with fear:
It’s Gascon Cadets that make up your Guard.
Christiane—an outsider—could be treated quite hard.
They’re well reputed for pride and sharp spite.
I fear for her safety.

CYRANA                               (Well, that you got right.)

ROBIN

When I saw your vigor in deflating that dandy
I knew your protection would come in quite handy.

CYRANA

            Rest assured, my dear man, I’ll take care of your friend.

ROBIN

You’ll keep her from duels? See her safe to the end?
I’ll sleep so much better knowing you’re at her side.
You really must love me.

CYRANA                                           Surely that I can’t hide.

ROBIN (putting on his mask as he leaves)

Please ask her to write. Forgive me for prying—
Your midnight battle must have been trying!
A hundred to one? You did not even wince?
What a warrior you are.                                                                                   

CYRANA                                           I’ve had harder fights since.

A moment of CYRANA alone, then CARBON and LA BRET are at the door.   

CARBON
And there is the courageous heroine! At last we’ve found you!

CYRANA
Captain…

CARBON
My Cadets are searching everywhere to congratulate you on your victory. They’re anxious to hear your tale.

CYRANA
Indeed.

CARBON (calling back outside)
She’s in here! Celebrating in a bakery!

LA BRET
I delayed them as long as I could. And Robin?

CYRANA
Hush!

RAGUENA (returning)
Captain Carbon de Castel-Jaloux. I am overjoyed!

CARBON
You are overwhelmed!

CADETS pour in the front, POETS from the back, and a BAKER & LUIS offer coffee.

CADETS (overlapping Gascon curses)
Sandious! Mille dious! Capdedious! Pocapdedious!

RAGUENA
Are you all from Gascony?

ALL CADETS                       Ay!

CADET #1 (each congratulating CYRANA)
Brava!

CYRANA
Baroness.

CADET #2
Vivat!

CYRANA
Baroness.

CADET #5, #6, & #8
Come we must embrace you!

RAGUENA
And are you all Baronesses?

CARBON
You could build a tower with nothing but their titles.

POET #4 (approaching CYRANA)

My plan it is to enshrine you in verse.

POET #5

That will not happen if I get done first.

GUSTAVE (two masked PRESCIUSES have entered and also approach)

You’ve established yourself as the man of the hour
And those in the know will relish your power.
We hold a salon and we’d like to you speak.

GERMAINE

Might you be free—say—the start of next week?

LA BRET (interrupting)

The Gazette will feature three columns on you.

CYRANA

Gazette? What is that?

LA BRET

An idea quite new.
It’s a journal of sorts, a daily ‘news’ paper.

CYRANA

Hard to imagine that’s worth more than vapor.

RAGUENA (standing on a table, gleefully)

My shop is invaded and filled end to end!

CYRANA

Just yesterday, I had barely one friend.

LA BRET

Your exploits are famous! Your story has reach!

CARBON (at the door)

            Here comes a carriage. It looks like De Guiche…

LA BRET (aside to CYRANA)

Is there something wrong? You don’t seem quite well.
Did Robin disappoint?

CYRANA                                           There is nothing to tell.

DE GUICHE (entering with BELLEROSE—and killing the rhythm)
My, my, my. Once again the center of attention. Mademoiselle de Bergerac, every breeze in Paris carries your scent this morning.

CYRANA
The smell of honor is so out of fashion, I’m surprised it’s even recognized.

DE GUICHE
I bring accolades from my aunt the Cardinal herself. She observed your duel from her box last night and woke to tales of your ‘adventure’ on the Port de Nesle.

CYRANA (bowing)
The Cardinal is a fine judge of valor.

DE GUICHE
Your reputation is well established. You serve with this young rabble? In the Guards?

CARBON
Since many of my company are here, maybe you’d like to present them.

(BELEROSE hastily brings an armchair for DE GUICHE.)

CYRANA
My Lady De Guiche, it is beyond my pleasure to introduce to you the Gascony Cadets, under Captain Carbon de Castel-Jaloux!

(CYRANA drums out a rhythm and leads, with the CADETS taking their parts)

ALL CADETS           The bold Cadets of Gascony
Of Captain de Castel-Jaloux.

CYRANA                   They brawl and they swagger quite boastfully
But fear should they come after you.

ALL CADETS           The bold Cadets of Gascony
Of Captain de Castel-Jaloux.

LA BRET                   Steeped in battles and honor and heraldry
And brimming with blood that is blue.

CADET #2                 Young lions protecting from blasphemy
The weakest and neediest few.

CADET # 1                Young wolves with razor-sharp scrutiny
Force evil to bid life adieu.

ALL CADETS           The bold Cadets of Gascony

CADET #5                 Love men, oh yes, quite a few.

CADET #6                 Should they pass by your balcony?
Your husbands keep close to you.

ALL CADETS           The bold Cadets of Gascony

CYRANA                   Are proud of their land, that is true.
With each breath they honor their family

ALL CADETS           And Captain de Castel-Jaloux.

They end in a grand pose—perhaps with drawn swords—featuring CARBON.

DE GUICHE
Brava. Really. Brava.

BELLEROSE
Compte de Guiche. It so happens that having a poet in your entourage is the height of fashion.

DE GUICHE
I might be willing to consider…a protégé

CYRANA
I follow no one.

DE GUICHE
Of course, I have the ear of my aunt.

LA BRET
The Cardinal! She’s practically God.

DE GUICHE
After seeing your performance last night, perhaps I could persuade her to read something of yours.

LA BRET
Great heavens!

DE GUICHE
No doubt you’ve written some epic in verse, now languishing in a trunk somewhere?

CYRANA (tempted)
Well, in fact…

LA BRET (aside to CYRANA)
Your romantic tragedy. This may be your chance!

DE GUICHE
The Cardinal is skilled at the tricks of the trade. After improving a few of your lines, she may be willing to produce it.

CYRANA
Impossible. Not a comma would be altered.

LA BRET
Cyrana!

CYRANA (silencing her)
La Bret!

DE GUICHE
Do you know how much she would pay?

CYRANA
The payment I give myself for crafting a perfect line far exceeds her wealth.

DE GUICHE
Ah. So you’re proud.

CYRANA
Ah. So you’re perceptive.

ORANGE BOY (bursting in with a dozen plumed hats skewered on a sword)
Cyrana! Look at these! The docks at the Port de Nesle are covered with the molted feathers of the fowl you chased away!

RAGUENA
Shall I add chicken to the menu?

CARBON
I fear they’re too greasy to be palatable.

BELLEROSE
Someone lost their investment in those rogues. I wonder who hired them?

DE GUICHE
It was I. (the laughter stops) That drunken nightingale needed to be silenced. I certainly wasn’t going to dirty my own hands.

CYRANA (saluting with the sword, sliding the hats off at her feet)
Would you return these to your cutthroat friends? And tell them, I might be willing to consider…a protégé

DE GUICHE
My carriage! (BELLEROSE exits)

I trust Mademoiselle, when you weren’t courting glory,
You read ‘Don Quixote?’

CYRANA                                           It is my life story.

DE GUICHE

That truly mad fool, in a truly sad scene,
Tilts boldly at windmills.

CYRANA

Yes, Chapter Thirteen.
A tricky opponent that shifts in each breeze.

DE GUICHE

The sails of the windmill are much stronger, please.
That impossible fight leaves him covered with scars.
He’s thrown down in the mud—

CYRANA                                           And then up to the stars.

As the crowd acknowledges the victory, DE GUICHE exits.                  

LA BRET      

            When will you learn? Good God, please do say!

CYRANA

Batten your hatches: Hurricane a la Bret…

LA BRET

Everyone needs a patron. That you cannot dismiss.
And rarely is there such an offer as this.
Every chance you just squander. You ruin your fate.
The smallest of hurdles? Exaggerate!

CYRANA
Exaggerate? Yes! How else would you have me live? Ignoring the most obvious ills and deferring to another for solutions? Allowing those most unworthy of pride, to live on in their proud delusions? No, thank you.

Me, a ‘protégé?’ A parasite! A pet! A feeble ivy, clinging to the bark of a greater trunk! To live each day, cringing in hope of an oily smile from my patron’s oily lips?

Oh, no, my friend. If I’m going to jump through hoops, they’ll be of my own construction. To create from the heart, not by commission. To generate art without thought of admissions. To have no critic more critical than myself. To see life as it is. To laugh, to sing, to dream. To shoot for the moon, whatever the cost.

And to wear my hat at the angle that pleases me. This plume is not fashion, but panache. It may not raise me high, it may not lift me to the moon, but I’ll live till I die and the journey will be mine own.

Respectful admiration from the CADETS.

LA BRET (taking CYRANA aside to confer)
Yes, show that face to the world, but between us: he doesn’t love you?

CADET #8 But what about the battle last night? Tell us the story of your conquest!

CADET #1 (referencing CHRISTIANE, who has entered unnoticed)
Perhaps this whale of a tale may instruct our new minnow here—this tadpole that slithered down from Northern France.

CHRISTIANE
Did I miss something?

CADET #1

Chances are good.
If you’re joining the team—learn the rules of the game.
Now you must hear what dares not speak its name.

CADET #6

A word there exists, which can never be uttered.
Not even spoken.

CADET #5                             Or whispered.

CADET #2                                                     Or muttered.

CADET #1

In the midst of her face, there lies something forbidden.

CADET #6

It cannot be mentioned.

CADET #5                                         It cannot be hidden.

CADET #2

            A rogue once was slain

CADET #6                 —yes, killed with some ease –


CADET #2

            When all that she did was just sniffle and sneeze.

CADET #1

Don’t wave your kerchief, it is not allowed.
A faux pas like that could serve as your shroud.

CADET #6

            We know that you’re new here and not from the South.

CADET #2

            You’re bound to be stupid and open your mouth.

CHRISTIANE (crossing to CARBON)

Oh, Captain, my Captain, now what’s your advice?
These Gascony braggarts are all cold as ice.
What do I do to establish my place?

CARBON

            Throw northern brave-ry back in their face!

CADET #8 (to CYRANA)

Enough of the teasing, the waiting all year.
Tell us the story we’re longing to hear.

CHRISTIANE sits apart, astride a chair, as the CADETS gather round CYRANA.

CYRANA

There’s little to tell of the skirmish last night.
The knaves all lay hidden, for the moon was too bright.
Their ambush had failed, so we started to walk.
Then a cloud passed the moon. All went dark on the dock.
It was suddenly black. That singer? She froze.
You could see nothing in front of your—

CHRISTIANE                                                          —nose!           

(ALL freeze, then slowly rise in terror.)

CYRANA

Pray who is this person?

CARBON                                           Our newest Cadet.

CYRANA

Please tell me her name.

LA BRET                                           Christiane de Neuvillette.

CYRANA (after a moment composing herself)

Alright, now where was I? The night it was dark.
Assassins approached me, so just for a lark
I let them come near,

CHRISTIANE                                  Nose to nose?

CYRANA

Eye to eye!
Anxious I was to draw blood. (You know why.)
The signal was given. Like one they arose,
When the leader, she fingered the side of her—

CHRISTIANE                                              —nose?

CYRANA      

Face! I was gonna say face…
The wretches, they swarmed me. All eager to show
How they’d poke their—

CHRISTIANE                                  —nose in?

CYRANA

I meant their toe.
So on I did fight. Landing slashes and blows.
These hundred ruffians would pay—

CHRISTIANE                                  —through the nose!

CYRANA

            OUT! Clear the room! She and I? All alone!

CADET #1 (fleeing)

            She’ll tear out her tongue!

CADET #8                                         And break every bone!                              

The room clears, leaving CYRANA and CHRISTIANE face to face for a tense moment.

CYRANA                                                                                                                              
Come to my arms!

CHRISTIANE
What?

CYRANA
You’re quite brave.

CHRISTIANE
But…

CYRANA
I’m his sister.

CHRISTIANE
Whose sister?

CYRANA
Robin’s!

CHRISTIANE
He’s your brother?

CYRANA
Second cousin—practically the same thing. He’s told me all.

CHRISTIANE
All…? So he loves me?

CYRANA
Believe it or not.

CHRISTIANE (as they embrace)
Oh, if you knew what that means to me!

CYRANA
I have a clue. (looking at her face) So I see what he saw!

CHRISTIANE
If you knew my admiration…!

CYRANA
You’ve an odd way of showing it. Now: he’s expecting a letter from you.

CHRISTIANE
A letter? Mon dieu! Then all is already lost!

CYRANA
Why?

CHRISTIANE
If I try to write, I’ll lose him. Robin craves an intellect. Me? I’m a fool.

CYRANA
Fools don’t know they’re foolish. And you don’t attack with the wit of a fool!

CHRISTIANE
Oh, I can compete. In a battle with other women, I’m a genius. But when I look in the eyes of a man… my mind it goes blank. I have nothing to say.

I cannot ‘compare thee to a summer’s day.’
They like what they see, that is till I speak.

CYRANA

They like what I say, till they see this beak.

CHRISTIANE

Oh, for the words that attract like my face!

CYRANA

            Oh, that my words came from some other place!

CHRISTIANE

            You articulate passion?

CYRANA                                  

They’re attracted to you?
There’s a lover indeed from the blend of us two.
Robin deserves naught but the finest, the best.
A woman we’ll make who is up to the quest.
What say I provide the art for your letter—
The frame that you offer would suit her much better.

CHRISTIANE

            I don’t know. It’s dishonest. And bound to fail.

CYRANA

            Have you got a chance on your own with the mail?

CHRISTIANE

What’s in it for you? Would it give you pleasure?

CYRANA

            A game with such stakes any poet would treasure!

                        (pulling out what she’d written earlier)

A letter like this I composed on a whim.
He’s expecting it soon, so take it to him.

CHRISTIANE

            It was there in your pocket? And written in rhyme?

CYRANA

            Oh, writers just write things. Quite all of the time.

CHRISTIANE

Should we change it to suit him?

CYRANA

It fits like a glove.
Men are so gullible when they’re in love.

They embrace, as RAGUENA and ALL peak in to see them together.                                     

RAGUENA

Knock, knock. Oh, pray, pardon. There’s bloodshed in here?

CADET #1 (seeing their embrace)

            Well, that’s unexpected. You think that they’re qu—–

(CARBON claps a hand over her mouth just in time)                      

CARBON

            Our demon’s transformed to a gentle-er mother.

LA BRET

            Strike on one nostril and he turns the other!

MUSKETEER

Hey Luis, look. We’ve been given the right.
We can speak of her nose now. And without a fight!

MUSKETEER goes right up to CYRANA and throws some lame insult. CYRANA throws a single punch and lays her out flat. The Cadets cheer and lift her on their shoulders,      

ALL

The bold Cadets of Gascony
Of Captain de Castel-Jaloux.
They brawl and they swagger quite boastfully
But fear should they come after you!

One note suddenly sounds and there’s a freeze as CYRANA holds high her white-plumed hat with a shaft of light illuminating it—then blackout.

End of ACT TWO

INTERMISSION

ACT THREE

Robin’s Balcony

Late Afternoon

Outside ROBIN’S home. There’s a front door, and above it, a doorway leading to a small balcony. Also a bench, and a suggestion of the surrounding square with doors to other houses. Down the street in front of the houses comes the three PRECIEUSES with masks. They head towards another door whose knocker is wrapped with a scarf.                   

GERMAINE                                                                                               

            This street is in vogue! Such quaint architecture.

GERARD

            Ah, here is the house where they’re holding the lecture.

GERMAINE

And this time, my dear, oh, please hold your tongue.
We don’t want you known as someone high-strung.

GUSTAVE

The only real reason I engage conversation
Is so I can establish a smart reputation.

GERARD

            Why else would we suffer such pretentious talk?

GUSTAVE

            If we don’t attract women? Forget it. I walk!

GERMAINE (seeing the wrapped knocker)

Just so we won’t be disturbed by a sound—   
How very thoughtful—the knocker’s been bound.

They “ooooo” in admiration and are through the door. THE CHAPERONE comes out of ROBIN’S home followed by RAGENUA, in the midst of a sad story.

RAGUENA

And this is, at last, why you saw my tear:
My husband has left me for that Musketeer!
Alone and lost—and bankrupt as well—
I saw no peace in my bottomless hell.
Filled with self-pity, I wept and I wept.
Then Cyr’na appeared, and my heart? It leapt!

THE CHAPERONE

Mon dieu!

RAGUENA

Dieu indeed. And as only she can,
Cyr’na did save me by asking Robin
To make me her cook. Life here gives me hope.
And I don’t spend money like some stupid dope.       

Also on route to the lecture, BELLEROSE and BRISSAILLE scurry across.

BELLEROSE

This discourse I dread. Must you drag me to more
Than one speaker a week? 

BRISSAILLE                                     Well, just try not to snore.

They go through the same door as the men. THE CHAPERONE has seen them and calls up to the balcony.

THE CHAPERONE

Robin, we are late. Oh, please do come down!

ROBIN (calling from inside)

            I’m coming now!

RAGUENA                            Going out on the town?

THE CHAPERONE  

I’m rather excited that we both were invited
To this talk that’s entitled ‘Love, Unrequited!’

RAGUENA

What do I detect, deep under your crust?
There lives a romantic?

THE CHAPERONE                        Our secret, I trust!

CYRANA enters haranguing two young MUSICIANS carrying instruments. [lutes? guitars? flutes?] She’s trying to get them to play the correct note.

CYRANA
Arghhh! No a ‘B!’ (a wrong note) ‘B’ (wrong) ‘B’ (wrong). Hopeless, you tone-deaf barbarians. All day, you’ve proven to be the most ineffective instrumentalists.

THE CHAPERONE
Why the young musicians?

CYRANA
The fruits of my wager. I made a bet over a grammatical point—which of course I won—and my prize is constant underscoring from sunrise to sunset. I intended to serenade Robin, but my accompaniment’s proving incompetent. Would you be so good as to fetch him down?

THE CHAPERONE (drily, exiting)
I serve at your pleasure.

RAGUENA
Cyrana, I can’t thank you enough for arranging this position for me. Robin is eating like a king.

CYRANA (sniffing the air)
Do I detect your Crème Brule? (another sniff) About to turn charcoal?

RAGUENA (racing inside)
Good lord, I forgot!

CYRANA (back the MUSICIANS)
And you, my young charges… Do you know Montfleury? The pretentious swine?

MUSICIAN #1
The actor?

CYRANA
Same thing. I shall give her the gift of music. Stand outside her house and play your proudest pavane. Full-bodied, repeated, and as loud as you can.

MUSICIAN #2
Ay, ay.

They exit as ROBIN enters from his home.                                                        

ROBIN
Christiane is a genius! Brilliant as she is beautiful!

CYRANA
Could that be?

ROBIN
Her letters are extraordinary. Oh, when we’re together, there are moments she seems distant, halting, but then erupts a flow of words that take my breath away. More brilliant even than you!

CYRANA
Surely not.

ROBIN
Ah, the jealousy of poets. You think because the package is perfection, the gift inside must be worthless.

CYRANA
She is eloquent in expressions of love?

ROBIN
Expressions? Dissertations! Themes and variations! Listen: (she recites)

‘The more of my poor heart you take,
The greater yours grows, till I fear it break.’

CYRANA
Pooh!  

ROBIN

‘Should you so gift your heart to me,
Would Cupid then give mine to thee.’

CYRANA
First too much heart, then not enough. Make up her mind!

ROBIN

‘If I could write kisses, why then my postscripts
Would leap from these pages right onto your lips.’

CYRANA (impressed in spite of herself)
OK, that one’s better…

ROBIN
Ah, but this—

CYRANA (interrupting)
You’ve learned all her letters by heart?

ROBIN
Every one of them!

CYRANA
That’s flattering indeed.

THE CHAPERONE (rushing in)
Monsieur, I saw from the window: Madame De Guiche is rounding the corner!

ROBIN
Cousin, you better go inside. She still seeks my love and daily rises in rank. You haven’t impressed her in the past.

CYRANA disappears into the house and THE CHAPERONE retreats to the doorway to supervise. DE GUICHE comes down the street.                                                

ROBIN
What a surprise. We’re late for a lecture.

DE GUICHE
I come to take my leave.

ROBIN
Where are you going?

DE GUICHE
I’ve just received orders. We’re to besiege Arras. Snatch it back from the Spanish dogs.

ROBIN
Ah—to besiege…?

DE GUICHE
I see my departure moves you not.

ROBIN
Madame…

DE GUICHE
I’m wounded to the depths of my heart. Will I never see you again? (silence) You’ve heard that I am named commander of the campaign? And of the Cadets?

ROBIN
What—the Gascony Cadets?

DE GUICHE
Ay, with your cantankerous cousin. Arras may be the opportunity to finally put her in her place.

ROBIN
You mean the Cadets will go to Arras?

DE GUICHE (with a snort)
But of course. They’re now one of my regiments! We deploy tonight.

ROBIN (aside, sinking to the bench)
Christiane!

DE GUICHE
You grow faint?

ROBIN
To send the one you love to war! I am undone…

DE GUICHE
Why sir, then I do move you? This is the first time you’ve expressed such a thought. And just when I’m about to leave!

ROBIN (collecting himself)

So your plan is to take your revenge on my cousin?

DE GUICHE

You don’t take her side?

ROBIN

No, I see a dozen
Good reasons for holding your grudge.
But to send her to battle? That I do judge
Would not cause her pain. It’s what she’d like most.
She lives for a fight and would thrive in that post.      
You know what would really disable her pride?
Keep her out of the fighting. Make her sit to the side!

DE GUICHE

You’re saying what?

ROBIN

Perhaps here’s a plan:
Rather than Cyrana joining that band
Of boastful Cadets to fight for their glory—
Keep them all safe at home. Oh! Then she’d be sorry!
Deprived of that honor—

DE GUICHE

Ah, my dear Robin.
Can you be so devious? Well—only a man!

            (revealing a stack of sealed letters)

The orders are here to send out to each regiment.
These I’ll deliver—but much to their detriment—
The Cadets’ I will save. Oh, how I’ll embarrass
Those insolent fools who are stuck here in Paris! (pocketing the CADET’S orders)                     

ROBIN
Madame De Guiche. What a brilliant plot you’ve come up with!

DE GUICHE
So there is a trickster in you as well?

ROBIN
You have no idea.

DE GUICHE
Oh, I do love you! But to be sent to war, just when we’ve made this connection… (an idea!) An order of Benedictine monks lives near here. They serve my Aunt’s private chapel and have a healthy fear of her niece. They’ll hide me till sunset and then I’ll return to you. In a mask!

ROBIN
But surely you must march with your troops this evening.

DE GUICHE
They can find their own way. Tonight you’re mine!

ROBIN
I had no idea of your valor.

DE GUICHE
You do love me then?

ROBIN
How much, you soon shall see.

DE GUICHE (kissing his hand and exiting)
Au revoir! This is but our beginning!                                                                     

THE CHAPERONE (coming forward, mocking her exit)
‘Au revoir’—
yeech.

ROBIN
Not a word of what I’ve done. (calling in) Good cousin! (back to the CHAPERONE) Cyrana would never forgive me for depriving her of a fight.

CYRANA (entering)
You’ve dispatched De Guiche?

ROBIN
And now we’re late for our lecture. If Christiane arrives before I return, please ask her to wait.

CYRANA
And on what subject will you challenge her this evening?

ROBIN
I vary my pattern. I’ll give her no topic, no time to prepare her speeches. She must speak her thoughts on love as they come. Let them flow freely.

CYRANA
Splendid!

ROBIN

But that is our secret! Do not spill the beans.

THE CHAPERONE (aside)

My hopes for this lecture are in smithereens.

CYRANA
Our secret indeed!(They’re inside the other house. It’s growing dark.) And thank you for giving me a moment to craft this ‘improvisation.’

CHRISTIANE (entering from the street)
Cyrana! What’re you doing here?

CYRANA
Preparing once again to save your derrie’re. This shall be your finest performance. Come aside. I’ll coach you.

CHRISTIANE
No! Not anymore. I’m tired of learning your lines and bumbling with stage fright. Now that I know he loves me, I’ve conquered my fear! Tonight, at last, I speak for myself.

CYRANA
Mercy!

CHRISTIANE
Your borrowed robes fit well at the beginning and I am grateful, but I’ve learned a great deal. You don’t need to teach me how to take a man in my arms.

CYRANA (bowing and leaving her alone)
Then speak for yourself, good friend. Que sera sera!

(And at that moment, applause from behind the other door as the lecture ends. CHRISTIANE hides, as the attendees cross back down the street.)

GERMAINE

Well that was just thrilling!

GUSTAVE                             Enlightening!

BELLEROSE                                                Absurd.

BRISSIALLE

My mind, it is reeling!

GUSTAVE                             I hung on each word!

GERMAINE

I learned much of love.

GERARD                               I feel so ‘in-the-know.’

BRISSIALLE

I leave all inspired!

BELLEROSE                        I could use a Bordeaux!

They exit. THE CHAPERONE barrels out the door followed by ROBIN.

ROBIN

I’m sorry we arrived so late—oh, my dear—

THE CHAPERONE (the martyr)

No worries. There’s always another—next year! (THE CHAPERONE is in)

ROBIN (reveals herself, intercepting ROBIN)
Christiane! Evening falls. The air is sweet. (they sit on the bench) I am yours. Speak…

CHRISTIANE
I love you.

ROBIN
Ay, speak of love.

CHRISTIANE
I…love you.

ROBIN
Yes, you have your thread. Now embroider.

CHRISTIANE
I love you—a lot.

ROBIN
Uh, huh…

CHRISTIANE
Ieeaahhmmmallluvvv….

ROBIN
How do you love me? At least ‘count the ways…’

CHRISTIANE
I love you and…would like it…if you loved me.

ROBIN(rising)
Christiane!

CHRISTIANE
I don’t love you.

ROBIN (sitting)
Yes?

CHRISTIANE
I adore you.

ROBIN
I ask for cream and you give me skim milk! Tell me what you love.

CHRISTIANE
I love… your throat (going in to kiss it)

ROBIN
Really!

CHRISTIANE
I’m a fool for love.

ROBIN
That much seems clear. You’ve lost your voice and I must say, it distresses me more than if you’d lost your looks! Any may simply ‘desire.’ You’ve been offering that which elevates the mere ‘animal.’

CHRISTIANE

I know. But I love!

ROBIN

Now you’re back to the start?
Tonight you say nothing that touches my heart.
Perhaps all you need is some time on your own.
I bid you goodnight and I leave you alone.

CHRISTIANE
But… (he stops… she tries…nothing, he slams the door in her face)

(CYRANA emerges from the shadows, slow clapping.)

CYRANA
Oh, are there tickets to your next performance?

CHRISTIANE
Cyrana! You have to help me.

CYRANA
Not a chance.

CHRISTIANE
But I shall die.

CYRANA
And not a surgeon alive can save you.

A light in the balcony doorway.

CHRISTIANE

But wait—
What light in that tall window breaks?

CYRANA

Compete with that? I hate re-makes!

CHRISTIANE Oh, I shall die!

CYRANA
Speak low.

CHRISTIANE (whispering)
Oh, I shall die. There is no life without Robin.

CYRANA
It’s very dark…

CHRISTIANE
So.

CYRANA
Perhaps there’s a way. Though you don’t deserve it… Stand there.

(CHRISTIANE stands under the balcony) No, where he can see you!

(Suddenly the two MUSICIANS return.)

MUSICIAN #1
MI’ lady! We’re back!

CYRANA
Hush!

MUSICIAN #2 (whispering)
We serenaded Montfleury.

MUSICIAN #1 (with a tomato)
She threw food at us.

CYRANA
Go! Guard the street there. Should someone approach, play something to warn me.

MUSICIAN #2
But what tune?

CYRANA
If a man is coming, play something bright. If a woman, something somber. (They exit. Back to CHRISTIANE:) Alright, call him.                                      

CHRISTIANE
Robin!…Oh my handsome Robin!

ROBIN (from off)
Who calls?

CHRISTIANE
Christiane!

ROBIN (his head out the balcony doorway)
It can’t be. Christiane has gone mute.

CYRANA prompts from under the balcony in a whisper “—–”

CHRISTIANE (aloud)

—–  You say —–  my love —–  sounds so forlorn?   

—–  When the fact is —–  it has only been born.

ROBIN (about to exit, but pausing at that)
Yes…?

CHRISTIANE (being prompted)

—–  At birth, my love —– was humble, sick and weak.
—–  So weak in fact, that it barely could speak.

ROBIN

That’s better!

If love was so weak, would it not have been mercy
To put it out of its misery? Avoid controversy?

CHRISTIANE

—–  Oh, I tried to choke it. —–  Kill love, if you please.
—–  But it grew instead to a child Hercules!

ROBIN
Ahh…

CHRISTIANE

—–  The youth grew so strong that it took control.
—–  It filled up my heart. It saved my bad mole!

(CYRANA frantically corrects) ‘Soul!’ It saved my ‘sad soul.’

CYRANA pulls CHRISTIANE back under the balcony.

ROBIN         

Though love, once again, has unlocked your vault       ,
Your thoughts seem to stumble. Why do they halt?

CYRANA (imitates CHRISTIANE’s whispering voice and takes over)

            It’s growing so dark that my thoughts cannot see.

ROBIN

            Yet you can hear me. Pray, how can that be?

CYRANA

My words are below and fight from down here
To ascend up to you and alight in your ear.
Be gentle Robin, for from that great height,
A hard word from you can crush me this night.

ROBIN

Then I will come down.

CYRANA                                           No! Do not, my love.

ROBIN

Then why is it that you don’t climb here up above?

CYRANA
No!! (she scrambles to trade hat and cape with CHRISTIANE) Don’t break this spell! This is how it should be at last. Indulge my need to speak unseen.

ROBIN
Why unseen?

CYRANA
Ah, you couldn’t know the intoxication of invisibility. (dares to step into his view, but disguised by hat, cape, and shadow) You only see the dark folds of my cloak—imperfection concealed. I stand in the full radiance of your light. Oh, if I had the words…

ROBIN
Words you have!

CYRANA
My wit serves me well to decorate, to hide. Yes, I’m skilled at the attack, but I aim at weeds and not at stars. Never till tonight have words come from my heart. Tonight I discover my voice.

ROBIN
It’s true. Your tone rings with something new.

CYRANA
Here in the protective dark, I dare to be myself at last. Here unseen, I dare to let you see… I don’t know what to say! I never dared to dream this. Forgive a wretch so new to ecstasy.

ROBIN
Why? What’s so new?

CYRANA
To be free at last. To unshackle my iron mask. To surrender the weapons that protect me from mockery, but keep me distant…

ROBIN
Why would you fear mockery?

CYRANA
For the loud beating of my heart! That pounding drum I feared the world would call ridiculous. It’s too much! Only now do I relish the full symphony. Not shallow tunes designed to distract. Not premeditated rhymes and artificial meters. But the rich music that erupts from just three notes. Three notes that when played—transcend.

ROBIN
And the three?

CYRANA
‘I. Love. You.’ Sound those in harmony—and all else is futile. Speech is rendered useless… And still the words bubble up! All, all, all that’s within me—this gushing flood—it bursts the damn. All this I dare to sacrifice to you. You. You, the fiery star that consumes my selfish shell. At last my love—so long restrained—is free. Is there some way to make you understand?

ROBIN
Why, this is love indeed.

CYRANA
Oh, that this evening lasts! Let me dance on this knife’s edge for all eternity—free from fear. Too fair the moment! Too, too sweet the night!

ROBIN
I’m trembling. You’ve conquered all of me.    

CYRANA
This moment crowns us both victors. There’s no treasure left to seek. Perfection is attained. There’s only one thing left I dare to ask…

CHRISTIANE (from under the balcony)
A kiss!

ROBIN
A what??

CYRANA (back underneath)
You fool, you move too fast.

ROBIN
You ask what?

CHRISTIANE (whispering)
He’s ready! Now’s the time to strike!

CYRANA (whispering)
Christiane, it’s too soon.

ROBIN                                                 
What do you whisper?

CYRANA
Uh, I argue with myself. I’m so drunk with love that I’ve lost all sense.

ROBIN
You pull away so quickly…

CYRANA
I’m too presumptuous. I wouldn’t dare to tarnish a shining star…

ROBIN
But why not??

ROBIN exits his balcony. Offstage, confused music from the two MUSICIANS.

CYRANA
What’s this? Someone’s coming. They play both a bright tune and a somber one… Is it a woman or a man? (a PRIEST enters) Ah, neither—a priest!  

CHRISTIANE
Not now! Get rid of her!

PRIEST (she is searching the doors with her lantern)
Pray tell me where’s the home of Monsieur Robin? I have a most important letter.

CYRANA

Oh, you’re all wrong. It’s back that way.
Turn left, then right, then ten steps a pace.
It is obvious as the nose on your face.

PRIEST (exiting as she came)
I thank you—and shall pray for your healing.

CYRANA
Good luck with that.

CHRISTIANE
Now get me that kiss!

ROBIN (reappearing above)
Christiane, are you still there?

CHRISTIANE (not thinking)
I am.

CYRANA (shoving her back under the balcony)
I am!

ROBIN
We were speaking of…

CYRANA
A kiss. When all is said, what’s a kiss? A breath, a touch. The brush of a hummingbird’s wing. Once consumed, they’re lost. Frequency diminishes them. ‘But when they seldom come, they wished for come.’ I’m content to suffer in humble anticipation.

ROBIN
Yet would you deprive me of a caress of your beautiful face?

CYRANA
Ah, yes…my face…I almost forgot.

ROBIN
Then come and take my lips.

CYRANA (a decision…aside to CHRISTIANE)
Climb!

CHRISTIANE
What?

ROBIN
The brush of that hummingbird’s wing!

CYRANA
Climb!

CHRISTIANE (beginning to climb up the balcony)
But, now it’s somehow wrong…

CYRANA
Climb, you animal! (CYRANA succeeds in pushing CHRISTIANE up)

ROBIN
Ah, my Christiane!

ROBIN and CHRISTIANE kiss on the balcony.

CYRANA (observing)
At last the feast of love. And I? Lazarus, begging crumbs from the rich man’s table. Yet one morsel gives me comfort: It’s my words he tastes upon her lips. My words… (the jumbled music plays again) Again, bright and sad tunes—the priest is back. (CYRANA, as if out of breath from running in, calls up) Hello!

ROBIN
Who calls?

CYRANA
I…I was passing by. Is Christiane there?

CHRISTIANE
Cyrana?!?

ROBIN
Bonsoir, cousin! I’m coming down. (he exits)

CHRISTIANE
What are you doing? (seeing the PRIEST enter, she exits)

CYRANA
Back again?

PRIEST
It must be here. I’m sure of it. The home of Monsieur Robin.

CYRANA
Oh, Ro-BIN. You said Ro-LIN. ‘L.’

PRIEST
No, Ro-BIN. ‘B.’ ‘B.’ ‘B.’

Three ‘B’ notes from the offstage MUSICIANS.

ROBIN (entering, followed by CHRISTIANE and RAGUENA with a candle)
What is it?

PRIEST (presenting it to him)
A most urgent letter.

CHRISTIANE
What?

PRIEST
It cannot be but holy business. Sent by the Cardinal’s niece…

ROBIN
De Guiche! (she signals RAGUENA)

RAGUENA (taking the cue to distract the PRIEST)

Oh Holy Mother, I’ve wanted to know
Just what was so bad about Galileo…?

RAGUENA and CYRANA pull her aside, while CHRISTIANE takes the candle and ROBIN unseals the letter.

ROBIN
She’ll never give me peace!(reading) ‘My Beloved. The drums beat. The regiments prepare for siege. Yet I’ve slipped away and am hid behind these monastery walls. I send this priest—a simple fool who knows not what she carries—to prepare you for my imminent arrival and for our night of passion…’ et cetera.

CHRISTIANE
How dare she!

ROBIN (calling back the PRIEST)

Good Mother! This letter to me pertains to you:

                        (he improvises)

‘Dear Sir, The Cardinal’s wish is holy writ
You know it’s your duty to obey, albeit
This act will break your heart at very least.
A sacred, true, and intelligent priest,
Brought you this letter and now in your house
She’ll marry you. By my decree your spouse
Will be the very one you cannot stand—
(he pauses to turn the page)  Christiane!’

PRIEST
Oh, I knew she entrusted me with a most divine duty!

ROBIN
(aside) Am I not apt at reading letters? (aloud) But this is horrible!

PRIEST (holding her lantern to CYRANA’s face)
‘Tis you he must marry?

CHRISTIANE
‘Tis I!

PRIEST (seeing her pretty face)
But…

ROBIN (back to the letter)

Oh, here is a postscript, written in bold:
‘And give the good priest twenty pieces of gold’

PRIEST
Then let me not to the marriage of true minds be an impediment!

The PRIEST heads for the door and the rest follow.

ROBIN (aside to CYRANA as he exits)
De Guiche will be here soon! Keep her busy until we’re wed.

CYRANA
I understand! So how to detain this pretentious ass…? (somber music from the MUSICIANS) And right on cue. Young lads! (the MUSICIANS appear) Inside this home. And the moment the deed is done, play loud enough for me to hear. (they exit into the house)

DE GUICHE (entering in a black mask, groping along)                                   
What could have delayed this foolish priest?

CYRANA (aside)
A transformation is called for. It’s my evening for disguise…

CYRANA disguises herself by grabbing a nearby potted plant, pulling out the plant, and putting the large pot on her head as a kind of helmet. She climbs up something. [the bench? the proscenium? swings in on a rope?]

DE GUICHE
This looks like his home. Damn, this mask!

Suddenly CYRANA drops in between DE GUICHE and ROBIN’S door as if from a great height. DE GUICHE looks to the sky amazed.

DE GUICHE

Where on earth did you come from?

CYRANA (in an affected voice)

Not earth at all.
My journey on the moon began/ Oh what a fall!
I fell and fell and fell, but just before
On lunar land I walked. That’s not a metaphor,
Oh no. You see the stardust on my cape? And say—
My boots are damp from wading in the Milky Way.

DE GUICHE

            She’s lost her mind, for sure!

CYRANA (seeing her mask)   

Do tell, your grace,
What brave new world is this that such a face
So black is commonplace?

DE GUICHE

Why you’re a mess.
Now I must pass.

CYRANA

Don’t tell! Just let me guess:
(At guessing games I’m most creative.)
Of darkest Africa you are a native!

DE GUICHE

This is a mask and not my face at all.
CYRANA

Then I’m in Venice and it’s Carn-i-val?

DE GUICHE

I’ve come to meet my lover on this terrace.

CYRANA

            A lover? Ah, I see then we’re in Paris.

DE GUICHE (a chuckle in spite of herself)

            Though this be madness, yet there’s method in’t.

CYRANA

You laugh at me when I’ve endured this stint?
You laugh at one who’s travelled to the moon??
I tell you that I’m crushed.

DE GUICHE

Why you buffoon.
How would you ever get from here to there?

CYRANA

            I’ll tell you now, if secrecy you swear!             

DE GUICHE (tempted)          

So are you genius or comedienne?
No, I must get into this house.

CYRANA

Well than!
You twist my arm and now I must comply.
A method have I found and used to fly
Up to the stars.

DE GUICHE                         A kind of flight?

CYRANA

            On this I hold the copyright!

DE GUICHE

Well how do you fly? Now let me hear.

CYRANA

I used my training as an engineer.
A grasshopper I built of wood and steel.
I climbed on top, and just to give it zeal,
Some gunpowder I stick right up its ass.
The leaps that it makes are then unsurpassed!

A burst of music from within.

CYRANA (taking off her disguise)

And that’s my cue to end this science fiction.
Look who’s received their marriage benediction:                    

RAGUENA, in happy tears, and a bewildered CHAPERONE come out with candelabras and join the PRIEST to form a wedding portrait with ROBIN and CHRISTIANE.

THE PRIEST
I have not failed to do as you requested!

DE GUICHE
You? And she? It seems I’ve been out foxed. Cunningly contrived! (to CYRANA) And what a carefully crafted story. You should publish.

CYRANA
I’m editing the final draft.

THE PRIEST
A handsome couple, made by you.

DE GUICHE
Bid your groom a fond farewell.

CHRISTIANE
Why so?

DE GUICHE
Your regiment will depart immediately. Join them!

ROBIN
But you said the Cadets wouldn’t fight.

DE GUICHE
Ay, they fight. (she giving her the Cadets’ orders) And Christiane has the honor of delivering the news to Captain de Castel-Jaloux.

ROBIN (throwing himself into her arms)
Christiane!

DE GUICHE

Their wedding night has been detained!

CYRANA (aside)

She thinks that this will give me pain.

The sound of drums growing nearer.

CHRISTIANE
Robin—

ROBIN

Oh, once again, give me your kiss.

CYRANA (pulling them apart)

Alright, we’ve had enough of this.

CHRISTIANE

He’s hard to leave. You cannot know
This depth of pain.

CYRANA                               That’s not quite so.

We see a portion of the line of soldiers marching off to war with shouldered rifles.

DE GUICHE

            It’s time to march!

CYRANA                               Come do your duty.

ROBIN

Oh, Cy-ra-na. Protect this beauty!
She’s in your charge. Now promise me
You’ll keep her safe –

CYRANA                               That may not be.

ROBIN

            You’ll keep her warm –

CYRANA                               That cannot be.

ROBIN

            That she’ll stay faithful—

CYRANA                               That’s a start…

ROBIN

            And write to me—

CYRANA                               With all my heart!!

Sweeping off her hat in a deep bow, CYRANA joins CHRISTIANE and DE GUICHE in the line of soldiers. ROBIN, RAGUENA, THE CHAPERONE, and the PRIEST wave a tearful farewell. Lights fade as the tempo picks up and the soldiers topple a few set pieces, shifting the stage to a desolate battlefield…

End of ACT THREE

ACT FOUR

The Siege of Arras

Before Sunrise

The transition—a dark chaos of drums, scurrying soldiers, and shadows—resolves to a hazy, pre-dawn stillness. There’s a rampart upstage with a lone sentinel surveying the enemy territory beyond. This battlefield post is occupied by Captain Carbon de Castel-Jaloux’s Gascony Cadets. They’ve seen hard fighting. Supplies are gone. There are stacks of rifles and a tattered fleur-de-lis flag. Cadets—weak and pale—sleep wrapped in ragged blankets. CHRISTIANE lies to one side looking especially worn. LA BRET and CARBON huddle around a smoking fire.

LA BRET                                                       
Murder…

CARBON
No other word for it. We’re trapped. We don’t have food to last the week.

LA BRET
The week? To last the day. ‘My kingdom for a horse’…on a plate!

CARBON
Hush. Don’t wake my babes. They’ll remember they’re starving. The lucky sleep and dream they dine. (distant gun shots) Damn those snipers. 

CADET #1 (stirring)
The devil…what noise?

CARBON
Shhh. Go back to sleep.

More shots, closer this time.

CADET #8 (as sentinel, calling over the rampart)
Who goes there?

CYRANA (off)
De Bergerac!

CADET #8
Halt! Identify yourself or I’ll shoot!

CYRANA (appearing over the rampart)
I said ‘De Bergerac,’ you fool.

CARBON (quieting the stirring Cadets)
Sleep, sleep…

LA BRET
Thank God! You’re late but still alive.

CYRANA (joining them at the fire)
Shhh. They missed me as they miss me every morning. It seems Spanish wine does not improve Spanish marksmanship.

LA BRET
It’s suicide! You risk your life to cross enemy lines before dawn? And just to post a letter.

CYRANA
No need to growl, old mother-bear. I promised she would write. (seeing CHRISTIANE sleeping) Even starving she has beauty, but if Robin could see her now his heart would break.

CARBON
No sign of weakness in the Spanish lines?

CYRANA
Our siege is still besieged. Their encampments surround us.

CARBON
We set out to starve Arras, but now they starve out us. They’re most effective at cutting off our supply lines. These children…have I recruited them to die?

CYRANA
The Spanish starve as well. This standoff cannot last. (crosses away)

LA BRET
Where are you going now?

CYRANA
To write the next communiqué, what else? Even in war, Aphrodite must be served.

CYRANA withdraws to her tent and writes. A distant horn blows reveille. CADETS stir.

CARBON
Another day. And still I have nothing to offer.

LA BRET
That doesn’t mean that they won’t ask. The litany begins again:

CADET #5
Oh, how my stomach aches!

CADET #7
I can’t take this much longer.

CADET #9
Pray, tell me there’s food today.

CADET #6
I dreamt of steak but only bit my tongue.

CARBON
Get up!

CADET #3
I can’t move. I’d rather die in bed.

CARBON
Pray God to give you strength.

CADET #4
‘Blessed are the hungry’ indeed. Give me loaves and fishes.

CADET #1
We won’t go to battle till we eat!

CADET #7
No food, no fighting!

CARBON (aside to CYRANA)
Can’t you offer them distraction? You’re better at esprit de corps.

CADET #2 (seeing another with something in her mouth)
You’re chewing! What did you find?

CADET #1
(she spits it out) A rack of roasted rags—marinated with axle grease.

CADET #2 (lunging for the leftovers)
Let me have some!

They grapple in a weak fight.

CYRANA
Wrong enemy! Save it for the Spanish!

CADET #5

My stomach’s hollow as a drum.

CYRANA

You’ll sound the charge should that time come.

CADET #3

We must have food.

CADET #4                             Our need is valid.

CYRANA (pulling off #4’s plumed hat)

What’s on your head? Behold. Your salad!

CADET #4

Just one full plate—and then a bottle!

CYRANA (tossing a book)

So feed your soul with Aristotle.

CADET #9

We’re dying here, and you’re just ‘clever?’

CYRANA

Yes! This is how I choose to die. Not ever
Would I want to end asleep in some extrav’gant bed.
It is not hard to simply live ‘well fed.’
Give me a cause worth sacrifice and I
Shall go with head held high.
Let others feed their selfish need,
I’ll fight and starve and brawl and bleed.

CADET #9

            But what’s the cause for which we pay?
            So the Cardinal has four meals a day?

CYRANA

Not for her. Not De Guiche. Not their phony band.
You sacrifice this day for your homeland.
We are surrounded by a worthy enemy.
You run the risk to die in infamy
To keep them from your family home.
You’ve wandered far, but where’er you roam
It’s Gascony that lives within. The land
Where you were born you must protect and
Your folks that sleep in house or farm
It falls to you to save from harm.
Remember now the shepherd’s piping tunes,
That underscored your summer afternoons?
The sun that blessed the day with perfect bliss?
The oaks that shadowed your first kiss?
Recall that sky. Recall that rich sunset.
That’s why you are a Gascony Cadet.

The CADETS are lost in the memory. Some surreptitiously wipe a tear.

CARBON (aside to CYRANA)
You make them weep with homesickness!

CYRANA
Heartache beats stomachache any time.

CARBON
But won’t this weaken their courage?

CYRANA
Remembering their Gascon blood will only strengthen their resolve.

CADET #8 (the sentinel, looking toward the other side of camp)
Ho! Here comes Madame De Guiche!

CADET #9
De Guiche!

CADET #6
That popinjay.

CADET #4
She dresses for the opera not the front!

CADET #5
Without her aunt she’d be a maid.

CYRANA (to CARBON)
You see how quickly they revive.

CARBON
Some respect, if you please. She’s a Gascon after all.

CADET #1
A Gascon who’s forgotten where she’s from.

LA BRET
Nothing more dangerous than Gascony ego turned egotistical.

CADET #9
To survive a siege in lace and jewels is not our way.                

CYRANA
(to the CADETS) Don’t give her the satisfaction of seeing you suffer. Out with your dice and cards and pipes. I shall read Descartes.

The CADETS scurry to appear casual as DE GUICHE enters—also pale with hunger. CARBON stands.

DE GUICHE
What have we here? (they ignore her) The air grows cold this side of camp. Your insolence is well reported. This ragged bunch of malcontents who dare to disrespect my place. These country rubes who criticize my dress. As if the quintessential Gascon were a scarecrow. (no response) Perhaps it’s discipline you need. Shall I command your Captain punish you?

CARBON
Command away. I’m deaf to your petty reprisals.

DE GUICHE
Indeed? You’re insubordinate as well?

CARBON
They enlisted for this fight. I pay their salaries myself. We’ll be the first to obey a call to battle. But it’s not insubordination when an order is inane.

DE GUICHE
I can endure your little hates. My conduct under fire is well known. It was only yesterday I led an avalanche of troops beyond enemy lines.

CYRANA (not looking up from her writing)
And your white sash? Where’s the scarf your rank requires?

DE GUICHE
Ah, that story’s reached your ears already? Yes, the Spanish dogs attacked our flank. I fought well but their numbers overwhelmed us. I could see I was in danger of being taken prisoner—or worse. In a fit of inspiration, I threw my scarf to the ground. They were unable to identify me as commander and I safely passed to the rear to order the next surge.

LA BRET
That tale of courage ends with your retreat. Should we surmise that you lead best when in disguise?

CYRANA
Were I behind you on that field, I’d seize that scarf and proudly take the point.

DE GUICHE
Easy to boast when you’ll never have to prove it. You know my sash lies deep in Spanish lands.

CYRANA calmly pulls out the long white scarf. Muffled laughs from the CADETS. DE GUICHE spins on them and they’re silent.

DE GUICHE
Why, thank you. My decision has been made.

DE GUICHE takes the scarf, climbs up the rampart, and waves it at the Spanish line.

CARBON
Your reason for this display?

DE GUICHE
A signal to my waiting Spanish spy.

CADET #8 (the lookout)
Someone’s running away!

DE GUICHE
I’ve received intelligence that an attack is imminent.

CARBON
An attack? How soon?

DE GUICHE
Within the hour. I can’t delay their charge but, through liberal bribes, I bought the right to choose the point that they hit first. I’ve just identified that point.

ALL react. CHRISTIANE steps forward.

CHRISTIANE
So this is how you take revenge?

DE GUICHE
What ‘revenge?’ This is sound military strategy. I chose the bravest troops to repel the strike. Aren’t you proud to lay down your lives?

LA BRET
But a pointless slaughter…!

DE GUICHE (aiming at CYRANA)
In the past you fought a hundred-to-one. Surely these odds are in your favor.

DE GUICHE exits. The CADETS are still.

CYRANA

The chevrons on the Gascon seal alternate blue and gold.
Today we add a splash of red, stained deep and true and bold.            

CARBON
And now, my brave souls. Prepare to fight.

CADETS clear the blankets and gather guns and ammunition. CHRISTIANE pulls CYRANA aside.

CHRISTIANE
Cyrana!

CYRANA
I know: Robin.

CHRISTIANE
There should be one last letter. I want you to say all that’s in my heart.

CYRANA (with what she wrote earlier)
Fearing the worst, I’ve written such a message. (CHRISTIANE takes the letter and reads) Let me explain…

CHRISTIANE
…So much passion… and what’s this spot? It looks like a tear blurred the ink.

CYRANA
Oh, once again a poet’s weakness. Sometimes we play our part too well and a little life invades our art.

CHRISTIANE
How can you imitate a pain as deep as mine? How can you put this on a page?

A rumble of shouts from offstage. CHRISTIANE puts the letter in her shirt.     

CADET #8 (from the sentinel’s post)
What’s this? A carriage approaches thru enemy lines!

A FEMALE VOICE (off)
Let us through! We serve the good of France!

The CADETS grab their guns as a carriage rumbles on and stops.

[Perhaps the carriage is a small trailer pulled by a bicycle? Or a cart pulled by a hooded, caped woman? Or perhaps we only hear the sound of a horse-drawn carriage that stops just out of sight…?]

A MALE VOICE (off)
We serve the good of France!

Some CADETS train their weapons on approaching the carriage.

ROBIN (emerging)
Bon jour a’ tous!

CARBON reminds the stunned CADETS to take off their hats.

CHRISTIANE

Robin, my love! Why have you come out here?

ROBIN

Oh good Christiane, I could not wait all year.
This siege has gone on long enough.

CYRANA (unable to look)

Oh eyes,
Confirm this miracle. My hearing surely lies.

ROBIN

Dear cousin, how good to see you there!
Good to see you all! Bit worse for wear
It seems—but surely by any book—
It’s flattering indeed, this ‘lean and hungry look.’        

            (sitting to tell the story)

That road is long for sure from Paris to Arras.
Spain balked at first, but then they let me pass.

CYRANA

How can that be?

ROBIN

Quite simply done in fact.
Oh yes, at times, it’s true, we were attacked,
But we looked so odd in that desolate land
That they would stop and try to understand
Just why it was we weren’t under cover.
I’d simply say: ‘I travel to see my lover.’
With that, voila’, the barriers would part.
For even evil Spanish dogs have heart.

CHRISTIANE

            My dear, Robin!

ROBIN

I should—you’re right—have said ‘my wife.’
But that I promise you would never save my life.                               

CARBON

            You must leave this post. It’s not safe here for you.

ROBIN         

            What better protection than Captain Jaloux?

                        (with all seriousness)

I am no fool. No matter what my fate,
I live to fight and die right here beside my mate.

CADET #4

            It’s like we dream before the battle starts.

CADET #3

We’ll defend your life with all our hearts.

ROBIN (cheering them up again)

Now guess who joined my journey. Look!
The one and only Raguena, my cook!

RAGUENA lowers her hood and ALL cheer.

RAGUENA

Oh, my good friends, tell me: Your rations?
I fear they may not quite ignite your passions.
We brought along a finer bill of fare:
I wear a cape of bread and camembert!

            (opening her cloak to reveal food stuffed in pockets)

Even with the Spanish love of law and order,
They missed some things as we crossed their border.
My pants, it’s true may look a bit bizarre:
Now through each loop ‘let slip the dogs of war.’

            (taking off a string of sausages at her belt)

Besides the cheese, in this carriage I cram,
Red wine, stuffed peacock, and even a ham.

                        (distributing food from the carriage with ROBIN)

We brought truffles, pate’, baked cakes—a real feast.
Would someone be good and carve the roast beast?

CYRANA (aside)
As if Gabriel himself descended to earth.

ROBIN (with food for CHRISTIANE)
Here my love. Eat!

CHRISTIANE
But why…? Why have you put yourself in such peril?

ROBIN
My first duty is to these dear folk. Give me a moment. (he distributes food) Captain—have you tried one of these?

LA BRET has stuck a loaf on the end of a rifle to pass up to the sentinel.

CADET #8 (from the rampart)
De Guiche! De Guiche returns!

CYRANA
Quick hide the food. Everything out of sight!

ALL scramble to tuck away the goodies, just as DE GUICHE enters.

DE GUICHE (stopping short)
Why does it smell like my father’s kitchen? (CADET #4 tries to suppress a drunken giggle) And why do you smell like a tavern? (another) And suddenly merry?

CADET #4
The approaching danger is intoxicating.

ROBIN (revealing himself)
So your charge now includes your soldiers’ smell? My, how you rise in rank!

DE GUICHE
Monsieur Robin! How is it possible…?

ROBIN
Your treatment of those in your care leaves something to be desired.

DE GUICHE
You must return home at once!

ROBIN
Not when my wife is in need. I belong at her side.

DE GUICHE
You don’t understand the danger here. This is no place for a man!

ROBIN
Yet you send women to slaughter quite eagerly? You relish your role as a maker of widowers? Just what is your code of honor?

DE GUICHE
My code of honor… (a decision)… does not include needless sacrifice. Give me a rifle.

ROBIN
Why?

DE GUICHE
Should you remain, then so will I. I fight at the side of my troops.

CARBON
Why, there’s a little Gascon in her after all!

LA BRET (showing her food)
Then you should not fight on an empty stomach.

Almost magically, ALL reveal their feast.

DE GUICHE
But how…? (to ROBIN) You are indeed miraculous.

ALL regroup and eat. CYRANA pulls CHRISTIANE aside.

CYRANA
Christiane, before you speak with Robin again …

CHRISTIANE
What could have possessed him to come here?

CYRANA
Should he speak of the letters…

CHRISTIANE
The letters?

CYRANA
I’ve not been altogether forthcoming. Don’t spoil everything by being surprised…

CHRISTIANE
At what?

CYRANA
It’s nothing. But you should know you’ve written more often than you think.

CHRISTIANE
How? We’ve been cut off for over a month.

CYRANA
I snuck through. Just before dawn. It’s nothing.

CHRISTIANE
This is ‘nothing’ too? And how often have I written? Every week?

CYRANA
Perhaps a bit more.

CHRISTIANE
More? Two times a week? Three? (CYRANA reluctantly prompts)

Not every day??

CYRANA
Yes, daily…twice daily.

CHRISTIANE
This ‘game’ gave you so much joy, that you risked your life?!

CYRANA (retreating to her tent area)
Hush! He must not know…

ROBIN comes to CHRISTANE as CADETS clear food and carriage, and disperse to resume battle prep.

ROBIN
Christiane, at last!

CHRISTIANE
Now tell me why… To put yourself in jeopardy…? What brought you here?

ROBIN
Your letters, my love!

CHRISTIANE
What?

ROBIN
Your letters drew me in. Each one richer than the one before.

CHRISTIANE
Some silly love-notes?

ROBIN
Oh, you can’t know! Since that night when I heard your voice in the darkness as if for the first time—that night you breathed your soul into me—since then, it’s you I’ve truly loved. Your words called me here as the Sirens called Ulysses.

CHRISTIANE
But…

ROBIN
Each page, a petal from your heart. I read and re-read until my fervor burned as bright as yours.

CHRISTIANE
But so far apart? How can love grow like that?

ROBIN
Oh, Christiane, I come to crave your pardon. Before we risk death, you must forgive me. I insulted you when I only cared for your face.

CHRISTIANE
Robin!

ROBIN
Now, at last, your spirit triumphs. I love you only for your soul.

CHRISTIANE
Robin…

ROBIN
The superficial mask of lust has burned away. You’ve taught me how to clear my sight of frivolous beauty. Your mind has won the day.

CHRISTIANE
It can’t be… I don’t ask for love like this. I want to be loved simply… for…

ROBIN
For that which all the world sees? 

CHRISTIANE
Our first love was the best…

ROBIN
I alone have seen you as you really are. This love will last even if your beauty fades.

CHRISTIANE
Don’t say more.

ROBIN
Yes, even if you were ugly, my love would live as strong.

CHRISTIANE
My God…

ROBIN
Are you content?

CHRISTIANE
I’m overwhelmed… (a decision) But I keep you from my fated friends. Go, smile on them before they die…

ROBIN (deeply touched)
Oh, my Christiane…

He goes back to the troops.

CHRISTANE
Cyrana! (CYRANA returns) It’s not me he loves.

CYRANA
What?

CHRISTIANE
It’s you.

CYRANA
No.

CHRISTIANE
He only loves my soul. That soul is you.

CYRANA
Can that be?

CHRISTIANE
And you love him.

CYRANA
I…

CHRISTIANE
It’s true. I finally see it. You love to madness.

CYRANA
Yes…and well beyond.

CHRISTIANE
Then tell him now.

CYRANA
No!

CHRISTIANE
And why not?

CYRANA
The answer’s on my face.

CHRISTIANE
He said to me: ‘I’d love you even ugly.’

CYRANA
That can’t be. Sweet words but don’t test them.

CHRISTIANE
Because I was born with looks, shall I destroy your happiness?

CYRANA
Because I was born a literate freak, shall I destroy yours?

CHRISTIANE
Tell him!

CYRANA
Don’t tempt me with this.

CHRISTIANE
I’ll be loved for who I am or not at all! This must end. Our marriage wasn’t consummated. It can be easily dissolved—if we survive.

CYRANA
Christiane.

CHRISTIANE
I’ll get out of the way and let you tell him. Robin!

CYRANA
No. No!

CHRISTIANE (calling to ROBIN)
Cyrana has something important to say to you.

CHRISTIANE exits, as do the last of the CADETS and ROBIN rushes to CYRANA.

ROBIN
What does she mean?

CYRANA
It’s nothing.

ROBIN
She doubted me, didn’t she? Yes, I could see she did.

CYRANA
Are you sure you told the truth?

ROBIN
It’s true. I would love her if she were—(hesitates)

CYRANA
Does it embarrass you to say that word in front of me?

ROBIN
Yes, even ugly. (a shot rings out in the distance) What was that?

CYRANA
Hideous?

ROBIN
Hideous. Yes!

CYRANA
Disfigured.

ROBIN
Ay!

CYRANA
Grotesque?

ROBIN
She could never be grotesque to me!

CYRANA
Your love would be the same?

ROBIN
Even more.

CYRANA (beginning to lose control of herself)
My God. Could this be true…at last? Robin, listen…I…

LA BRET (running in)
Cyrana?

CYRANA
Here!

LA BRET
Hush. (whispers in her ear)

CYRANA
Ah…

ROBIN
What is it?

Gunfire off. LA BRET withdraws.

ROBIN (running to see)
More shots! Does it begin?

CYRANA (aside)
And now it ends. Too late for me to ever tell.

LA BRET leads a group of CADETS carrying something they try to conceal.

ROBIN
What’s happened?

CYRANA
Come away.

ROBIN
But what were you saying…?

CYRANA
I swear that Christiane was the noblest, the bravest…

ROBIN
What? (he runs to the CADETS, pushes them away and reveals CHRSTIANE on the ground with a bloody wound) Christiane!

ROBIN rips cloth from something and grabs the canteen that RAGUENA brings.

CYRANA (whispering to CHRISTIANE while ROBIN is distracted)
I told him everything. It’s you he loves. And always will.

CHRISTIANE’S eyes close.

ROBIN (returning to her)
Oh, my sweet love? No. This can’t be. (he finds the letter in her clothes) This is for me…

CYRANA
Robin, the battle…

ROBIN
You knew her. You alone. You knew her soul.

CYRANA
Ay, Robin.

ROBIN
A heart too deep for mind to fathom.

CYRANA
Ay, Robin.

ROBIN
This letter, her blood…and stained with her tears.

CYRANA
Ay…Robin.

The sound of guns and cannons builds.

RAGUENA
Robin, you must not stay!

CYRANA (aside)
And all of me he mourns in her—let that die as well. (draws her sword)

CARBON (appearing on the rampart with a drawn sword, but wounded.)         
And now, my brave Cadets. Fall in! Unleash the power of the French!

The sound and smoke increase as the CADETS, with rifles, form a line facing the battle. To the cadence of a drum, they fall into a stylized routine of kneeling, aiming, shooting, and reloading that continues through the following. Some are shot. DE GUICHE, with a head wound, runs on.

DE GUICHE (bellowing to the troops)
But hold this line a while. Reinforcements are at hand.

CARBON
Stand fast! Give the Spanish a welcome they won’t forget!

CARBON is shot and falls. The CADETS falter.

CYRANA
De Guiche, you’ve proven your valor. Now, fly and save Robin. I’ll take the point.

DE GUICHE
So be it. Gain some time. I’ll return with more troops!

DE GUICHE and RAGUENA pull ROBIN from the fray and exit. The battle rages on as CYRANA tries to reestablish the line.

CYRANA
Aim well, Gascons! Victory will be ours!

Wounded soldiers return to their places. The shooting line continues.

CYRANA (waving her plumed hat and prompting)

The bold Cadets of Gascony
Are proud of their land, that is true…

ALL (joining in a rag-tag chant)

The bold Cadets of Gascony
Are proud of their land, that is true.
With each breath they honor their family
And Captain de Castel-Jaloux.

Most of the above is drowned out by the sound of battle. Then the loudest explosion overwhelms everything, and the stage goes black.

End of ACT FOUR

ACT FIVE

The Benedictine Monastery

Fifteen Years Later—Autumn

As the explosion fades, a church bell rings, and bright red leaves fall from above, isolated in darkness. The exiting CADETS strike what’s left of the post and leaves cover the rest. Late afternoon light reveals a simple, open courtyard with the suggestion of a long path. Robed MONKS gently sweep leaves. Chanting wafts in from a nearby chapel.

 FATHER ABBOT supervises two of the sweeping MONKS. One of them is ROBIN’S CHAPERONE who has joined the order and is now BROTHER CLAUDE.                    

BROTHER BERTRUM (unable to hold back any longer)
Father Abbot. Brother Claude stared in the mirror this morning—twice! He was checking out his buttocks in his robe.

BROTHER CLAUDE
Brother Bertrum!

FATHER ABBOT
That is not good.

BROTHER CLAUDE
Well, I saw Brother Bertrum steal a plum out of the pie.

FATHER ABBOT
Poor judgment, brother.

BROTHER BERTRUM
It was only a small plum.

BROTHER CLAUDE
It was only a little glance.

FATHER ABBOT
I shall have to tell Mademoiselle De Bergerac.

BROTHER BERTRUM
No, please don’t! She’ll tease us mercilessly.

BROTHER CLAUDE
She’ll say monks are vain.

BROTHER BERTRUM
She’ll say we’re gluttons.

FATHER ABBOT
Yes…but she’ll say it with great panache. She’ll be here soon.

BROTHER BERTRUM
These Saturday visits began when Robin arrived?

BROTHER CLAUDE
Come Lammas-Eve at night it will be fourteen years since Monsieur Robin went into mourning and we came to this monastery. My place has always been at his side.

FATHER ABBOT
Your dedication to this order is profound, my son. But time has not healed Robin’s wounds. Only Cyrana has the skill to temper his grief.

BROTHER CLAUDE
Cyrana’s visits warm all of us. 

FATHER ABBOT
God knows well her soul.

BROTHER BERTRUM
Every Saturday, she tells me, ‘Brother, I ate meat on Friday!’

FATHER ABBOT
When she came last, food had not passed her lips for several days.

BROTHER CLAUDE
Father!

FATHER ABBOT
Cyrana is poor. Captain La Bret has tried to help, but her pride won’t permit it.

ROBIN, in mourning, appears in the distance, walking slowly with DE GUICHE, who’s visibly older and wears a sign of higher status.

BROTHER BERTRUM
Monsieur Robin walks with a visitor. Is that a Duchess?

BROTHER CLAUDE
Yes, Madame De Guiche has achieved much, but hasn’t called in quite some time.

FATHER ABBOT
Let’s give them privacy.

As they exit, FATHER ABBOT signals MONKS to place an embroidery stand and stool.

DE GUICHE
So nothing will tempt you to leave? You’ll simply hide your handsome face behind these walls forever?

ROBIN
Forever.

DE GUICHE
Ever faithful?

ROBIN
Ever.

DE GUICHE (after a pause)
Am I forgiven?

ROBIN (with a small smile)
I’ve learned much from this Brotherhood.

DE GUICHE (another pause)
I never really knew her—this Christiane that inspires such devotion. Her last letter…still next to your heart?

ROBIN
Somehow she speaks to me still.

DE GUICHE
And does Cyrana visit?

ROBIN
Often, yes. What a kind old companion. I sit and work each Saturday. The clock strikes, I hear the tap of her cane on stone—she never fails to appear on the last stroke. She teases my endless sewing projects. She shares the gossip of the week. We call her my ‘Gazette.’ (LA BRET rushes in from a side entrance) Why, Captain La Bret! How goes it with our friend?

LA BRET
Ill. Very ill.

ROBIN (aside to DE GUICHE, about LA BRET)
Ever the tragedian. (He sits at the stand and embroiders)

LA BRET
Perhaps your grace can persuade her how important this is. It’s just as I predicted! Cyrana lives despised. Each letter makes her fresh enemies. Attacking sham nobility. Sham bravery. Sham devotion.

ROBIN
Ah, but her sword keeps them all in check. No one gets the better of her.

LA BRET
How long can she sustain the fight? Each day another hole appears in her only boots.

DE GUICHE
Cyrana is not to be pitied. She lives free in thought and free in action.

ROBIN
Your grace?

DE GUICHE
True. I have all and she has nothing. But the price of my ‘all’ has been great. I’ve climbed high, but the train I drag behind grows heavy. The pull of a thousand little lies. A thousand self-disgusts.

ROBIN (with irony)
‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.’

DE GUICHE
Not my intent to cast a shadow. I’ll strive to find more time to call. (kissing Robin’s hand) Captain, a word, if you please?

(ROBIN sews as DE GUICHE pulls LA BRET out of his hearing.)

DE GUICHE
You’re correct, none dare to attack—but many hate your friend. Yesterday, at the Queen’s soiree’ it was said that Cyrana should beware: ‘Accidents occur.’ Let her stay in—be prudent!

LA BRET
Stay in? She’s on her way! She won’t miss her weekly call.

RAGUENA enters from the side and rushes to them.

RAGUENA
I thought you might be here. (nudging them farther from ROBIN) It’s best he shouldn’t know. I just spotted Cyrana leaving her house. As she was rounding a corner, a great timber fell from a roof. Whoever dropped it disappeared.

LA BRET
Not by accident, rest assured. Oh, Cyrana!

RAGUENA
I rushed to our friend… our poet… on the ground with a large gash in her head.

DE GUICHE
Dead?

RAGUENA
Not quite. I helped her up to her room. Oh, that hovel! Have you seen the squalor in which she lives?

DE GUICHE
You called a doctor?

RAGUENA
Ay—who ordered her to stay in bed. She bandaged the wound, but couldn’t treat the fever. If she tries to stand, Cyrana could die.

LA BRET
We must get to her side. Come!

RAGUENA, DE GUICHE, and LA BRET exit as BROTHER CLAUDE and BROTHER BERTURM bring a large old armchair and set it near ROBIN. FATHER ABBOT follows.

ROBIN
Ah, once again Cyrana’s throne to its place of honor. And a ratty old throne it is.

FATHER ABBOT
It’s the best in our parlor, Monsieur.

BROTHER CLAUDE
Why was Raguena scurrying away in such a hurry?

ROBIN
Raguena? Leaving without speaking to me? No doubt our former poet-chef is off to yet another new vocation.

FATHER ABBOT
I understand Moliere just hired her to light the lamps before each play.

BROTHER CLAUDE
I most enjoyed her time as hair-dresser. I never looked so fine.

BROTHER BERTRUM gently swats at him.

ROBIN
It’s a lovely evening. I almost feel at home in this gentle dying of the year.

The clock strikes seven times. They anticipate the arrival. Lines of hooded MONKS process by in the distance. No CYRANA.

ROBIN
But where…my thimble?…perhaps… ah, here it is…perhaps a Brother detained her at the gate. Perhaps she tries to… where are those scissors?… perhaps she tries to save his soul at last. So faithful for so many years…why today? Ah, these leaves… (brushing them off his work).

FATHER ABBOT spots CYRANA at the far end of the path, relying heavily on her cane, hat pulled down low.

FATHER ABBOT
Mademoiselle De Bergerac.

ROBIN (without turning around, but visibly relieved)
Ah. Now where was I…? Time has faded the old work. How will I ever match the thread?

As CYRANA struggles to approach, the MONKS exchange concerned looks. FATHER ABBOT quiets them.

ROBIN
And so you leave me waiting. For the first time in fourteen years.

CYRANA (she reaches the chair and sits, her voice not betraying her moments of pain)
It’s a disgrace. Villainous. I was detained…

ROBIN
By?

CYRANA
A most unwelcome—and persistent—visitor.

ROBIN (focusing on his work throughout)
Some creditor no doubt?

CYRANA
Ay, cousin, a creditor. The last to call me to account. I raged, ‘Don’t you understand this is Saturday? I have a long-established rendezvous.’ I fear I only succeeded in putting off the inevitable.

ROBIN

Defer this creditor. I shall not let you leave.

CYRANA

            This debt must now be paid, I do believe. (her eyes close)

ROBIN

You’ve lost your joie de vivre? That’s displeasing.
The Brothers are here. So where is your teasing?

CYRANA (rallying)

Ah look! The Trinity of Down Cast Eyes!

BROTHER BERTRUM (seeing her face)

Oh my!

CYRANA (silencing him, then summoning some bluster)

(It’s nothing.) Oh, how I despise
The fasting you expected yesterday!
I eat red meat. No matter what you say.

FATHER ABBOT

Then join us at the refectory
So you can be fed quite properly.

BROTHER CLAUDE

We’ve made a pot of our famous stew.

CYRANA

Wait just a bit and I’ll go with you.

ROBIN

You agree so easily? Tonight tardy
And docile? If she’s late to our party
And then acquiesces, she may be disposed
To be converted as you’ve often proposed.

BROTHER BERTRUM

Oh no, not I!

FATHER ABBOT

                                     We never would dare.

CYRANA

No sermon text? What, don’t you care?
Here I sit upon your rack.
Now where’s your evangelical attack?
So pray for me! It’s your ambition.

BROTHER CLAUDE

Prayers need not wait for your permission.

FATHER ABBOT gestures and the MONKS leave.                          

ROBIN

To let you see heaven is their only goal.

CYRANA

I see you’re part of the same rigmarole:
Your endless work on that tapestry
Is to show me the length of eternity.

ROBIN

            And there, once again, is your favorite jest.

                        (leaves fall in the breeze, a full moon slowly appears)

            Just look at the leaves!

CYRANA

The trees are obsessed
With painting death in bright colorful hues.
They know how to let go.

ROBIN                                              Now tell me news!

CYRANA

My Gazette: Well—At court last Saturday
They lit nine hundred candles, so they say.
There’s dispute about the number of tapers
Since the fire that ensued burned up all the papers.

Sunday, September twentieth:

The Queen grew sick on marmalade and at a doctor’s hand
She was bled with leeches. Now marmalade’s been banned.

Monday, the twenty first:

The court, et al, repaired to Fontainebleau.
Nothing happened on September twenty-two.

On Wednesday:

A victory in Austria reported by our army.

On Thursday:

Four suspected witches were executed calmly.

Yesterday:

            Montfleury’s sick pug was treated with an enema…

ROBIN (with mock outrage)
That’s quite enough of that!

CYRANA (fighting the pain)
And today, the twenty-sixth…

ROBIN (finally noticing)
My Cyrana…

CYRANA (pulling her hat lower)
It’s nothing. That old wound from Arras. There, it’s passed. (but it hasn’t)

ROBIN
Arras left wounds on both of us. Mine I carry here, by my heart. (pulling out the letter) Time has faded the ink, but not the stains of tears and blood.

CYRANA
You once told me I could read it. Perhaps now…

With growing concern, ROBIN hands her the letter. Darkness descends, isolating them in a shaft of moonlight. Chanting from the distant chapel.

CYRANA
‘Robin, farewell. Today I fear I die.’

ROBIN
You read aloud?

CYRANA
‘I’ve lived my life with no regrets, yet now I have developed one. There’s so much still within my heart that I have failed to tell. So much of my devotion, my adoration, my love, still unexpressed.’

ROBIN
The way you read… I hear…

CYRANA
‘But even as I write of this, a mighty hope dispels regret. For though I may never see the love in your eyes or touch your cheek, somehow, my voice will still be heard.’

ROBIN
Yes, that voice…not for the first time…

CYRANA
‘Somehow we shall be near.’

ROBIN
You know these words…

CYRANA
‘And living in that hope, I bid farewell as one who loved her whole life long…’

ROBIN
Of course. For fourteen years you played a role. You wore the mask of kind old friend.

CYRANA
Robin!

ROBIN
It was you.

CYRANA
It wasn’t me.

ROBIN
How could I not have heard…each time you spoke my name?

CYRANA
It was Christiane.

ROBIN
That voice in the dark rising up from below…

CYRANA
I swear to you—

ROBIN
The sweet-mad love born in our youth…

CYRANA
No, my dear, I never loved you.

ROBIN
Why keep silent? She did not write these words. The tears—were they your tears?

CYRANA
…the blood was hers.

A pause as awareness dawns on both of them.

ROBIN
How much has died tonight. How much is born anew. Why now? Why break your silence now?

CYRANA
Why?

LA BRET and RAGUENA rush on.                                      

LA BRET
Here? What madness!

CYRANA (another little shot at LA BRET)
‘Blow winds and crack your cheeks…’

LA BRET
This is suicide.

RAGUENA
She’s brought on death by coming here.

ROBIN
Then this weakness…?

CYRANA
Oh yes, the last entry in my Gazette—

September twenty-six, it’s dated:
‘De Berg’rac was assassinated.’

CYRANA removes her hat revealing a bloody bandage on her head.

CYRANA
It’s not the ending I would write. To be struck unseen by some coward.

RAGUENA
Ah, my friend…

CYRANA
Save the grief. Shouldn’t you be at the theatre? Holding the candle for Moliere?

RAGUENA
I quit today. His latest play? He’s stolen an entire scene from you.

CYRANA
An entire scene from me!? So did it work?

RAGUENA
It played like gold. The audience laughed to tears.

CYRANA
Ah, my role indeed. To be the voice behind the scenes while another takes the bow. My words to live in other’s mouths. My gratitude to all who gave them breath.

ROBIN
Cyrana, I love you.

CYRANA
And I you, but what of that? No fairy tale reprieve. True love does not release the beast from ugliness. I live a toad ever after.

ROBIN
But by this moon, I swear…

CYRANA
Oh, swear not by the moon—the inconstant moon. For that is my shining home and tonight I finally arrive. There, at last, to find the paradise of exiled souls: Galileo… Plato…Socrates… (shaking off a wave of pain, struggling to her feet) No, not like this! I will not end at rest. (resisting their help) No! On my feet, with head held high. The grinning skeleton of death draws on me now. (drawing her sword) Now bring it on. (she squares off against an unseen partner)

ROBIN
Cyrana!

CYRANA
Would you believe this boney fool dares mock my nose?(several thrusts in the air) A menacing opponent to be sure. I leave the lesser fights for lesser souls. I only duel with hopeless odds. Come all at once, my ancient foes! (hearing the noise, hooded MONKS rush on into the shadows) I fight as I have always fought. Compelled by something greater than myself. Who else will hold the ground for those who can’t? I battle Prejudice!(with few strokes) Cowardice! Greed and Fear! Ignorance? No doubt, you will get me in the end. But surrender? Never! (she falls back into the arms of ROBIN and her friends) Though I confess, my battles cost me dear, I retain one asset. Spotless and pure. One thing I brandish in the face of Death. And that is…that is…

ROBIN
What, my love?

CYRANA (a faint smile seeing ROBIN)
My huge panache!

She slumps against him, but manages to sweep her hat up high and die with arm outstretched. The chanting swells. The lights fade on all but CYRANA’S white plume as the MONKS gently pass it, one to another, up towards the moon. Darkness.

The End of The Play

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