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Representative Plays by American Dramatists: 1856-1911: Paul Kauvar; or, Anarchy by Steele Mackaye

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I did. Listen, child. I am about to leave France. By my side there is
peril--here is safety. Answer frankly: will you follow me, or remain
here under the protection of Monsieur Kauvar?

DIANE.

[_Aside_.]

What can this mean? He could not ask this if he knew the truth.

[_Aloud_.]

Father, I do not understand.--What shall I say?

DUKE.

What your heart prompts, child.

[_Turning away_.]

Nay, do not hesitate; I will not influence your choice even with a
look.

DIANE.

If I shrink from danger, if I stay here, what becomes of you?

DUKE.

I go alone.

DIANE.

Alone to meet your peril?--Then, by the bond of a daughter's duty, my
place is at my father's side.

[PAUL _staggers. The_ DUKE _retires quietly to desk_. DIANE _speaks
aside to_ PAUL.]

Remember he is old, with none but me to comfort his last days.

PAUL.

[_With stern self-control_.]

Monsieur, the double pass for George Leblanc and Diane his daughter
has been fairly won.

[_Hands the pass to the_ DUKE, _bows coldly, and leaves the room
without a look at_ DIANE, _who falls into a chair and hides her face_.

DUKE.

[_Looking suspiciously at_ DIANE.]

Could there be warrant for his strange presumption? If so, this
separation is none too soon.

[_Enter_ GOUROC.]

Ah, Marquis, congratulate us. We are now released from all need of
burdening even you.--See! Here is a pass which opens the doors of our
prison. We fly to-night to Vendee, where we hope you may soon rejoin
us, and our cousin Rochejacquelein.

GOUROC.

[_Aside_.]

The devil!--

[_Aloud_.]

You are fortunate, Duke. Alas that I cannot go with you!

DUKE.

Well, come, Diane; time flies. We must prepare for our escape.

[_Going with_ DIANE.]

Au revoir, Marquis.

GOUROC.

Au revoir, Monsieur le Duc, and bon voyage, Mademoiselle de Beaumont.

[_Exeunt the_ DUKE _and_ DIANE. GOUROC _changes to a fierce and
hurried manner_.]

Ah!--Not so fast, dear Duke! You're not out of France yet. This sudden
flight destroys all my plans. Again this girl, the heiress of ten
millions, will get beyond my reach.--No!--death, dishonour--nothing
shall snatch her from me now!--Aye, but how to prevent it?

[_Reflecting_.]

The Duke has not many years to live, and in these ticklish times old
men's days are easily shortened. He dead, his daughter's at my mercy.

[_With sudden triumph_.]

I have it!--I see the way to place her wholly in my grip!--A brilliant
move and easy to execute!--Kauvar knows nothing of my rank!

[_Rings bell, goes to desk and begins to look at papers_.]

Yes, these are what I need to guarantee my triumph!

[_Enter_ POTIN.]

Have you any blank warrants?

POTIN.

I have!--I keep them always handy, especially for the petticoat sex.

[_Giving them_.]

I say, Comrade, I hope it's a she-man this time, for there's nothing
like this--[_Making sign across throat_] to stop the wag of a woman's
tongue.

GOUROC.

Go.--Remain in the ante-room.--I may want you to summon a guard.

POTIN.

[_Going_.]

All right, Citizen! I'm always ready at the call of the Republic.

[_Exit_.

GOUROC.

Good!--Now to secure my victory!--But where can I find Kauvar?

[_Starts for door_. KAUVAR _enters, absorbed in thought, without
seeing_ GOUROC, _who watches him_.]

He's just in time! Fate conspires with me for success.

[PAUL _seats himself at desk and buries his face in his arms_.--GOUROC
_goes over quietly and touches him on the shoulder_.

PAUL.

[_Starting up in dismay_]

You here, Gouroc!

GOUROC.

I am, old friend,--though you seem scarce glad to see me.

PAUL.

Pardon, Comrade; you find me at a moment when my mind's absorbed with
many cares.

GOUROC.

I understand;--in times like these perplexity pursues the patriot. I
would not now intrude, dear friend, if duty did not force me.

PAUL.

[_With sudden suspicion_.]

Duty! And what duty can bring you here?

GOUROC. I have important warrants for your signature.

PAUL.

[_Sitting again, with a sigh of relief_.]

Another time.--I cannot sign them now.

GOUROC.

[_Firmly_.]

Friend, the business of the Republic is sacred; it cannot be
postponed.

PAUL.

[_Wearily_.]

Well, well!--What are these warrants?

[_Takes up pen carelessly_.

GOUROC.

[_Calling off papers, as he gives them to_ PAUL _to sign_.]

Warrants for the arrest of Catherine Cler--

[PAUL _signs_.]

Maxime Berton--

[PAUL _signs_.]

Marie Legrand--

[PAUL _signs_.]

And this blank warrant for a suspected party, whose name that fool
Potin has registered so badly that I must get him to decipher it
before I can fill it in.

[PAUL _signs mechanically_.]

[_Aside_.]

Tis done!--And she is mine!

[_Aloud_.]

Shall you be at the club to-night, friend?

PAUL.

[_Shortly_.]

No!

[_Night comes on_.

GOUROC.

What excuse shall I offer the fraternity?

PAUL.

Say I am busy--busy--[_Striking his breast_.] breaking the heart of a
traitor to France!

GOUROC.

[_Going_.]

A welcome message.--I sha'n't forget it.

[_Exit_.

PAUL.

Wife gone!--Home desolated!--Naught left but the haunting memory of
joy forever lost!--Ah, I am weary, heart-broken--helpless!

[_He sinks into the chair at desk, and buries his face in his arms.
Slowly the light dims to darkness. At back, the stage is transformed
into a_ TABLEAU OF KAUVAR'S DREAM OF ANARCHY.

_Mysterious music accompanies the Dream, which consists of a tableau
of the guillotine in the Place de la Revolution, in Paris, by
moonlight.

Here is seen the scaffold, with its ghastly paraphernalia, surrounded
by ferocious_ SANS CULOTTES, _and_ GENS D'ARMES. _Amidst them is an
old hag.

The death-cart, with its load of victims, is seen in the
foreground--the entrance to the garden with the palace of the
Tuilleries in the background.

The_ HEADSMAN _stands ready, near the knife of the guillotine.

From the death-cart_ DIANE _glides on and slowly goes up the scaffold
steps.

As she reaches the top, she is seized roughly by the_ HEADSMAN.

_At this moment_ PAUL _starts with a cry of agony from his chair--and
at his shriek, the whole Tableau of the Dream instantly disappears_.

PAUL.

[_Starting up wildly_.]

No, no!--My life for hers!--My life for hers!

[_Waking, as the Dream disappears, he looks about dazed and
bewildered; then bursts into hysterical laughter_.]

A dream!--Thank God, a dream!--Only a horrible dream!

[_Suddenly stops short in horror_.]

How dark and still the house is. My God!--Something has
happened!--What is it?

[_Shrieks with terror_.]

Diane!--Diane!

NANETTE.

[_Entering with lamp_.]

What's the matter?

PAUL.

Diane--Mademoiselle Diane, where is she?

DIANE.

[_Appearing, dressed to go away_.]

Here!

PAUL.

[_Makes a spontaneous movement toward her, then checks himself and
turns to_ NANETTE.]

Leave us!

[NANETTE _goes silently away_. PAUL _speaks to_ DIANE _hoarsely_.]

Where are you going?

DIANE.

I am going to do my duty--follow the father who would die without my
care.

PAUL.

[_After a pause_.]

Yes, I remember now.--You are right.--You will be safer out of
France.--The dream! The dream!

DIANE.

What dream?

PAUL.

No matter! I am resigned now! Yes, resigned--resigned--resigned!

[_Sinks sobbing into chair_.

DIANE.

No, no, Paul!--I cannot endure this!--I will stay! I will stay!

PAUL.

[_Starting up_.]

No! You must not! I dare not keep you here.--I fear the worst!

DIANE.

What do you mean?

PAUL.

Don't ask me. I do not know myself. But you--when you are gone--you
will not forget me?

DIANE.

Not while memory lasts!

PAUL.

And I--perhaps I--some day--shall be free to seek you.

DIANE.

God grant that day is near!

PAUL.

And we--when we meet again, will you find courage to acknowledge who I
am?

DIANE.

Nay--if you desire it--I'll prove my deathless love before I go.--I'll
tell my father all.

PAUL.

No, never!--Never till I've won a name that even your proud father is
forced to honour. Meantime, I ask but this--your love and trust, while
I have life to strive.

DIANE.

You shall have it!--Yes, through sunshine and shadow, I will love and
trust you to the end.

[_They embrace_.

DUKE.

[_Outside_.]

Nanette, the coach is ready: be quick, bear our baggage to the door.

[PAUL _and_ DIANE _separate quickly. Entering, the_ DUKE _glances
suspiciously at the two, then advances to_ PAUL.]

Paul Kauvar, let us not part in bitterness. I owe you much; I grieve
to see you suffer. Courage! Believe me, I never honoured you as I do
now.

[_Extends his hand_. PAUL _turns away_.]

Will you not take my hand?

PAUL.

No, Monsieur. Not until you think it worthy to guide and guard your
daughter, as my wife.

DUKE.

[_Starts haughtily, then turns to_ DIANE.]

Come, child! Tis time that we were gone.

DIANE.

[_Crossing and extending her hand to_ PAUL.]

Farewell!

PAUL.

[_Taking her hand, speaks aside to her_.]

Remember, love and trust.

DIANE.

Forever!

[PAUL _kisses her hand. She comes slowly to her father, keeping her
eyes in anguish on_ PAUL.

[_The_ DUKE _leads her toward the folding doors which are suddenly
thrown open, disclosing a platoon of_ GUARDS. DIANE _shrieks, the_
DUKE _starts back_, PAUL _turns in horror_. TABOOZE _advances into the
room_.

TABOOZE.

In the name of the Republic, I arrest Honore Albert Maxime, heretofore
Duc de Beaumont.

DIANE.

[_Clasping the_ DUKE.]

Father!

PAUL.

[_Sternly_.]

What does this mean?--Whose name is on that warrant?

TABOOZE.

[_With surprise_.]

Why, your own, Citizen.

[PAUL _recoils, stunned_.

DUKE.

What! Betrayed by you?

DIANE.

No, no! It is not true!

[_Snatching the paper, looking, then with a cry_.]

Great heaven!--It is!--His name and hand!

[_She sinks down in despair_.

PAUL.

[_Passionately, to the_ DUKE.]

I betray you!--I, Paul Kauvar.--Tis false!

[_To_ DIANE.]

You at least will not believe this lie.

DUKE.

[_Interposing_.]

Silence! Better death to her than the pollution of another word from
you!

PAUL.

But my God!--You do not know.--She is--

DIANE.

[_Starting up wildly_.]

Stop!--I forbid you to say more!

CURTAIN.

ACT II.

SCENE. _Interior of the Prison of the Republic. A room with
cells.--Entrance to outer corridor. Table with chairs near it.--As
curtain rises, howls of a Mob are heard outside_.

POTIN.

[_Entering in the midst of the howls, then clapping his hands to his
ears_.]

Oh, that I were deaf! Then I'd escape the shriek of my wife, and the
roar of this cursed tribunal condemning poor devils to death.

[_Renewed howls_.]

Aye, that's right! Howl on, hyenas! I could howl, too, yesterday, as
well as the worst of ye. But I can't now; no, not since the arrest
of the poor old Duke. There he lies, in yonder cell, and here am I
quartered as a witness against him--and that villain Gouroc has done
all this!

[_Enter_ GOUROC _quietly in the background_.]

Curse him! He rules me with a rod of red-hot iron! I wish I had him
here now! By the gods! I'd take courage for once; I'd tackle him with
my tongue--like my wife. I'd say--

GOUROC.

[_Advancing coolly_.]

Well, Citizen,--you'd say--?

POTIN.

[_Aside, startled_.]

The devil take you!

GOUROC.

What would you say?

POTIN.

Nothing!--anything!--everything!

GOUROC.

That's lucky!--I have much for you to say before the day is done. The
trial of the Duke will soon begin. When asked who gave you the order
for the Duke's arrest, you must swear that it was Paul Kauvar who did
so.

POTIN.

Why, Lord help me! 'Twas you who gave me the order, and forced me to
carry it, too.

GOUROC.

Possibly; but, in spite of that, my name must not be mentioned in the
affair, to any one, do you hear?

POTIN.

Alas, I do!

GOUROC.

And will swear as I command?

POTIN.

[_With sudden resolution_.]

Never!

GOUROC.

Do you care to save your head?

POTIN.

Of course! What could I do without it?

GOUROC.

If you refuse to attest as I have dictated, I will declare you guilty
of treason in trying to conceal the presence of the Duke in Paris.
Such a declaration from me is sure perdition to you. How say you now:
will you swear?

POTIN.

[_Wilting_.]

I will swear.

GOUROC.

You are wise.

[_Going_.]

Within an hour, the trial comes on. Be at hand, or--

[_Making a sign across his throat_.]

There's nothing like this to quiet a traitor's tongue.

[_Exit_.

POTIN.

[_Looking after him_.]

To lie living, and be a coward--or to lie dead, and be a corpse;
that's the riddle.--No! I'll be neither a coward nor a corpse. I'll
run away!--run like a brave man, enlist in the army of Vendee, and so
escape damnation, and my wife.

[_Starts off_.]

Liberty, lend thy wings that I may fly--

[NANETTE _appears_.]

Ye gods!--Fate is false again!

NANETTE.

Ha! It's you, is it?

POTIN.

No, it was me; but now you're here, I'm nobody.

NANETTE.

Where's the Duke?

POTIN

[_Pointing_.]

In that cell.

NANETTE.

And I believe 'twas you betrayed him!

POTIN.

[_Indignantly_.]

That's a lie!

NANETTE.

Well said! Short and sharp, like the truth.

[_She pats_ POTIN _on the back. He turns away_.]

Bravo!--But one moment! Do you know who did betray him?

[POTIN _shakes his head mournfully_.]

You do know! I can see by the wag of your head you know, and I mean
to make you tell me!--But I can't stop now; I'm here to see Mam'selle
Diane; where is she?

POTIN.

[_Pointing to cell_.]

There--with her father.

NANETTE.

I'll be back soon, and then I'll give you a piece of my mind.

POTIN.

Give me peace if you like, dear, but keep the mind for yourself;
you've none to spare.

NANETTE.

Woe to you when next we meet!

[_She flounces out_.

POTIN.

Yes, it's woe to me whene'er we meet!--But now to fly; I've no time
to lose; between my wife and Gouroc, I shall go cracked. So here's for
liberty, and Vendee!

[_Exit into his room_.

_Enter_ GOUROC, _followed by_ GUARDS _escorting_ MARDOCHE.

GOUROC.

[_To_ GUARDS.]

You may leave the prisoner with me.

[_Exit_ GUARDS.]

And so, Mardoche, you have been tried and condemned.

MARDOCHE.

Yes. Accused by beasts, tried by fools, and condemned by assassins.

GOUROC.

And of what were you accused?

MARDOCHE.

I was a quiet cobbler; I made shoes for Jacobins that pinched their
toes, so I was accused of sympathy with aristocrats.

GOUROC.

Is this all the cry they raised against you?

MARDOCHE.

No. I was never heard to swear, so I was watched--and was seen upon
my knees. As piety is poison to the Republic, I was accused of being a
priest! I was searched, and these were found upon me.

[_Showing a crucifix and rosary_.]

This was enough. I was immediately condemned to die.

GOUROC.

A fine fool you were, to be caught with such baubles in your bosom.
Had you forgotten old mother Dupaix?

MARDOCHE.

The old woman who never gossiped, wore clean linen, and kept four
cats?

GOUROC.

The same--who was therefore accused of being a Duchess in disguise,
and sent to the guillotine.

MARDOCHE.

Moral:--In this age of reason, death to him who prays!

GOUROC.

Or keeps four cats! But cheer up, Citizen; I have a crumb of comfort
for you yet. In your cell someone is waiting impatiently to see you.

MARDOCHE.

Who?

GOUROC.

Your sister.

MARDOCHE.

Great heavens! Of what do they accuse her?

GOUROC.

Nothing. She is here by my care to bid you farewell.--Listen and
understand.--You are going to die, and leave your sister in poverty
amidst the perils of the Republic.--What would you be willing to do to
provide her with an independence?

MARDOCHE.

I would do anything. I can do nothing.

GOUROC.

You are mistaken. If you choose, before you die, you can place in her
hands 10,000 francs.

MARDOCHE.

How?

GOUROC.

By helping me to save another man's life.

MARDOCHE.

I do not understand.

GOUROC.

The Due de Beaumont has been discovered, and is about to be condemned.
For reasons of my own, I wish to save his life. There is but one way.
You, who are destined to die soon, must be disguised as the Duke,
answer to his name, and go to the scaffold in his stead. Consent to
do this--and you shall place in your sister's hands 10,000 francs in
gold.

MARDOCHE.

What! That Jacobin of Jacobins, Gouroc, asks a cobbler to save a
Duke--?

GOUROC.

Why not? The Republic is poor, the Duke is rich. He has been condemned
for our glory. But if his secret escape will bring us gold, why
not crown the Republic with riches as well as fame? Is not this
Patriotism?

MARDOCHE.

Yes, Patriotism to-day! Yesterday and to-morrow--Jesuitism.

GOUROC.

Well, your answer. Will you save the Duke?

MARDOCHE.

[_After a pause_.]

I will.

GOUROC.

Good! In your cell you'll find everything for your disguise.

MARDOCHE.

[_As howls are heard outside_.]

Listen.--That is the voice of fraternity shrieking for fratricide!

GOUROC.

By heaven! No cobbler talks as you do!--Who are you? What are you?

MARDOCHE.

A victim--to present madness! An atonement--for past wrongs! A pledge
for future progress!--The Abbe de St. Simon.

GOUROC.

Ha! As I suspected.

[SOLDIERS _are heard approaching_.]

Take care!--Hurry to your cell; they are coming for the Duke.

MARDOCHE.

And my sister--?

GOUROC.

You shall have the money at your parting.

MARDOCHE.

Thus my death will bring her more than all the years I might have
lived to love her. [_Exit_.

OFFICER.

[_Entering, followed by_ GUARDS, _and presenting paper to_ GOUROC.]

An order for the person of Duc de Beaumont.

GOUROC.

[_Looking at order_.]

Correct.--There is his cell.

OFFICER.

[_Reading from paper at the door of_ DUKE'S _cell_.]

Honore Albert Maxime, heretofore Duc de Beaumont, you are called for
trial for your life. In the name of the law, stand forth!

_The_ DUKE _appears with_ DIANE _clinging to him, followed by_
NANETTE.

DUKE.

I am ready.

[_The_ GUARDS _surround him_.

OFFICER.

[_To_ DIANE.]

Young woman, free your father; he must follow me alone.

DIANE.

If he is guilty, then I am guilty. I have shared his prison; I claim
the right to share his scaffold.

OFFICER.

You are not called, and cannot go with him.

DUKE.

Courage, child! Remember who you are, and scorn to show these
miscreants what you feel.

[_Putting her gently from his breast_.]

We shall meet again.--

[_Turning to_ OFFICER.]

Lead on, sir.

[_The_ GUARDS _go off with the_ DUKE.--DIANE _falls into a chair near
table, overcome_. NANETTE _approaches her;_ GOUROC _waves her back_.

GOUROC.

[_Pointing to cell_.]

Wait there, till you're wanted.

[NANETTE _goes out sullenly_. GOUROC _draws near to_ DIANE.]

At last I'm free to crave your pardon for the part I'm forced to play
in these dark days of tragedy.--Say you'll forgive me.

DIANE.

I have nothing to forgive, sir.--You did not betray my father, and if
you dare to feel for such as we, then it is for the Republic to pardon
your secret treachery.

GOUROC.

Always cruel, Mademoiselle. If you knew the truth, you could not wound
me with your scorn.

DIANE.

[_Going_.]

If my face offends you, I will go.

GOUROC.

Stay, and be just.--I am the slave of a great purpose. I am fast
securing the ruin of the Republic. My affected zeal but masks the
well-aimed blows I strike at the enemies of our order.--Before many
weeks have past, Robespierre will go to the scaffold, the Jacobins be
ruined, and the Republic crushed.--To this great end I am content to
suffer anything, even your contempt, if need be.

DIANE.

Yes, I despise all blows dealt in darkness.

GOUROC.

Even though those very blows could save your father's life?

DIANE.

[_Turning and staring at him_.]

Save my father's life?

GOUROC.

Yes; I hold it in my power to set your father free, and escape with
both of you to Vendee.--Say but the word and it is done.

DIANE.

Tell me the word that I may speak it quickly.

GOUROC.

You know the past.--My one wild dream was to win you as my wife.
Revolution came; I lost you in the chaos of the times; and when at
last I found you, a traitor had nearly caused your death.

DIANE.

[_In anguish_.]

No more, sir! No more!

GOUROC.

But I can save you yet.

DIANE.

Save my father! That is all I ask.

GOUROC.

To save his life I must imperil my own. I am willing to do this, but--

DIANE.

[_Scornfully_.]

You must have your price!

GOUROC.

Yes--that price, the right to save and guard you as my wife. One word
of hope, and I am your slave forever.

DIANE.

Such a word would be cruelty to you, and crime in me.

[_She starts to go_.

GOUROC.

[_Seizing_ DIANE'S _hand_.]

Hear me, I beg--beseech--

[_A bell tolls_.]

Nay--I command!--Listen!

A VOICE.

[_Calls slowly in the distance_.]

Hubert, Marquis de Ferrand,--Comte de Vigny,--Duc de Beaumont----

[DIANE _turns in horror_.

GOUROC.

Your father is called for trial! That means certain death.

DIANE.

[_Kneeling_.]

Save him!--I will pay the price with everything I have.

GOUROC

I may hope?

DIANE.

Yes! Take hope from my despair.

GOUROC.

Then you will be my wife?

DIANE.

When he and I are free.

GOUROC.

Your father shall be saved!--I go to perfect all my plans.

[_Kissing her hand_.]

From this moment I am yours--body, mind and soul!

[_Exit hurriedly_.

DIANE.

When he has saved my father--death shall deliver me.

[_Exit_.

POTIN _enters cautiously, with various things hidden under his
clothes, giving him a grotesque appearance_.

POTIN.

Now, O Fate, is your chance to protect a patriot! If I can only get
away,--I shall escape perjury in Court, and tongue-lashing from my
wife!--Now to run!--To run for Vendee! Better the awful thunder of
masculine war than the piercing tenderness of a woman's tongue!

[_Starting to run of, he begins to sing--to the tune of the
Marseillaise chorus:_]

To leave--to leave my wife!--

NANETTE.

[_Rushing in and stopping him_.]

Hold, Citizen Potin!

POTIN.

[_Wilting_.]

Oh, Republic, I am lost!

NANETTE.

Dodolphe--you're up to mischief! Speak out--what's up?

POTIN.

Patience, gentle lamb!

NANETTE.

Don't lamb me, sir!

[_Twisting him round_.]

What's this mean?

[_Tapping him_.]

Porpoise!

[_Pulling breeches from under his coat_.]

Culottes!

[_Pulling cap from his breast_.]

Ye gods, what's this?

[_Pulling hose from his pockets_.]

By heaven! A woman's hose!

[_Shaking hose in his face_.]

What does this mean?

POTIN.

Nothing, precious love! This is my uniform;--I have recruited for
Vendee.

NANETTE.

You--a soldier?

POTIN.

[_Posing_.]

Yes: The safety of France demands it. I go to preserve the Republic!
France beckons--while Victory extends her arms, panting to embrace my
noble form!

NANETTE.

Embrace ye?

[_Putting his head under her arm_.]

Let Victory try it if she dare!

TURNKEY.

[_Entering with_ GUARD.]

Citizen Potin, you are wanted as a witness.

POTIN.

Caught!--From the frying-pan into the fire!

NANETTE.

We shall meet again, my dear.

POTIN.

Don't remind me now; I'm sick enough already.

[_Enter_ PAUL KAUVAR. POTIN _starts at sight of him, and speaks to
the_ GUARD.]

I'm ready; show the way.

PAUL.

[_To_ POTIN.]

Stop!--Thank heaven I have found you! Tell me, who ordered the Duke's
arrest?

POTIN.

[_Sullenly_.]

What I know of, that I'll tell only to the Court.

[_Exit_.

PAUL.

[_Turning to_ NANETTE, _who is going_.]

Nanette, one word.

NANETTE.

What word can an honest woman speak that you would care to hear?

PAUL.

Justice!--I want that word, and all it signifies.

[_Mob howls outside_.

NANETTE.

Listen! Go to them--they'll give you justice, aye, and glory, for you
betrayed the innocent--to glut their appetite for blood.

PAUL.

That's a lie--a vile, infamous, monstrous lie!

NANETTE.

Is it a lie that you signed the warrant for the Duke's arrest?

PAUL.

My name was forged.

NANETTE.

I know your hand too well to be deceived. I've seen the warrant; it
bears your name, and written by yourself.

PAUL.

Then it was obtained by some strange trick! I've tried to learn the
truth, but no one will tell me who took the warrant to the office of
the Guard.

NANETTE.

I wish I could believe you.

PAUL.

[_Forcing her to face him_.]

And so you shall!--Do I look like the vilest of mankind?

NANETTE.

No; in looks you're lucky!

PAUL.

Would any man conspire to kill the wife he adores?

NANETTE.

Why ask that?

PAUL.

Because Diane de Beaumont is my wife.

NANETTE.

Your wife?

PAUL.

Yes! For me to betray her father would be to break her heart! Pain to
her is the anguish of the damned to me! Can you not see that I am--I
must be innocent?

NANETTE.

In these days the fairest faces mask the foulest souls! Looks and
words prove nothing! Evidence alone will clear you of this crime.

PAUL.

That--I have not been able to obtain.

NANETTE.

Then get it quickly before it is too late.

PAUL.

Where is Diane--my wife?

NANETTE.

[_Pointing_.]

There!--Praying for the father she believes you betrayed.

PAUL.

No, she cannot! By the light of her own love she sees the innocence of
mine.

NANETTE.

Then love is lunacy!

PAUL.

Send her here to me!

NANETTE.

She will not come.

PAUL.

I'll stake my life she will!

NANETTE.

You shall see.

[_Exit_.

JEAN LITAIS _enters, watching_ PAUL _intently_.

PAUL.

Two things at any cost I must accomplish! First, prove my innocence of
treachery, and save her father from the guillotine.

JEAN.

[_Advancing_.]

For that I came to help you.

PAUL.

Who are you?

JEAN.

Look well and you will see.

PAUL.

I've seen your face before, but have forgotten where we met.

JEAN.

I am Jean Litais. Six months ago, I was accused, and about to be
condemned. You saw--took pity--spoke in my behalf--and by your
eloquence saved my life! So now the life you saved, and all its
service, is yours to use, or forfeit as you please! A lion freed a
mouse--the mouse now comes to serve the lion.

PAUL.

I do not understand.

JEAN.

I am turnkey here, though once a servant of the Duke's. You love his
daughter; I can help her father to escape.

PAUL.

How?

JEAN.

[_Crossing to the door_.]

This opens on a staircase leading to the river. Here's the key. I have
a boat below. To-night I'll creep up the stairs and knock three times.
Open, then, this door--and you'll find deliverance for those you love.

PAUL.

[_Taking the key_.]

How can I repay this deed?

JEAN.

Trust me--that is all.

PAUL.

[_Extending his hand_.]

I will--I do!

JEAN.

[_Kissing_ PAUL'S _hand_.]

I'm yours in life or death.

[_Goes to door_.]

Till to-night!

[_Exit_.

PAUL.

[_Alone_.]

Saved!--Thank God!--Their freedom in my hand!--

[_Pausing_.]

And yet she does not come.--Can it be that she believes me
guilty--esteems me lower than the foulest worm?

[_Enter_ DIANE.]

No, no,--I was right!

[_Going toward her_.]

I knew you'd come.

DIANE.

[_Checking him_.]

Stop!--Let me look at you and say farewell.

PAUL.

Then you really think me guilty?

DIANE.

If an angel had accused you, I would say it was a lie.

PAUL.

Diane! Diane!--My loyal wife!

[_He embraces her_.

DIANE.

[_Shrinking from him_.]

No, no! I am not worthy of your love! I must save my father's life, no
matter what it costs me.

PAUL.

Courage, dear heart! I hold here salvation for you both.

DIANE.

You?

PAUL.

Yes! This very night your father shall fly with us to England.

DIANE.

Ah! Then I am free! I need owe him nothing!

PAUL.

Owe whom nothing?

[_The tramp of_ SOLDIERS _is heard outside_.

DIANE.

Hark!--The Guard!--Take care!

_Enter the_ DUKE, _with_ GUARD _and_ POTIN.

DUKE.

[_Contemptuously to_ PAUL.]

You here, traitor?

DIANE.

[_Aside to the_ DUKE.]

You must not call him that. He did not betray. The proof is this--that
he has come to save you.

DUKE.

And so make my debt to him a means of reaching you;--but I would not
accept my life from hands unclean with treachery.

PAUL.

There's not a drop of traitor's blood within my veins!

DUKE.

Yet you signed the warrant for my arrest.

PAUL

Then another hand than mine--unknown to me--filled in your name.

DUKE.

Plausible trickster!--We have here double proof that you are guilty.

[_Enter_ GOUROC _in background_.]

The evidence of the man to whom you gave the warrant, commanding him
to take it to the Guard.

PAUL.

There's no such man alive--or dead!

DUKE.

Potin, advance.

[POTIN _comes forward sullenly_.]

Repeat what you swore in court.--From whom did you receive the warrant
for my arrest?

POTIN.

[_After a struggle_.]

I received it from--

[_Hesitates_.

GOUROC.

[_Aside to_ POTIN.]

Take care!--If I denounce--you die!

DUKE.

Well, sir, we are waiting.

POTIN.

[_Desperately_.]

I received it--[_Pointing at_ PAUL.] from him.

[PAUL _recoils with horror_. DIANE, _with cry of agony, hides her face
upon her father's breast_.

PAUL.

[_Crossing to_ POTIN.]

Potin, look at me.--On your word hangs the honour of your old and
steadfast friend! Look in my eyes, and, in the name of your own
salvation, speak nothing but the truth.

DUKE.

[_Sternly_.]

'Tis useless to intimidate the witness. He will not prove himself
a perjurer, and condemn himself to death, even to please so dear a
friend as you.

PAUL.

My God!--There is some wicked plot!

DUKE.

Yes--and you're the plotter.

[PAUL _falls prostrate into chair near table. Supporting_ DIANE _to
the door of his cell, the_ DUKE _pauses and speaks_.]

Paul Kauvar, we shall never meet again.--Remember my last
words.--Beggars, thieves, assassins may escape perdition; but neither
here, nor hereafter, is there any hope for Judas.

[_Exit, supporting_ DIANE.

[NANETTE _follows the_ DUKE _off_. POTIN _goes into the opposite
cell_. GOUROC _crosses to_ PAUL.

GOUROC.

How's this, old Comrade? I thought you were antique in the mastery of
your emotions.--A man of iron--firm as flint!

PAUL.

Agony is fire that melts the mettle of the hardest man.

GOUROC.

But why should you--a Jacobin--care for this old Duke?

PAUL.

I loved his daughter--she became my wife.

GOUROC.

[_Starting_.]

What! Diane de Beaumont is your wife?

PAUL.

Yes--has been my wife in secret--for six months.

GOUROC.

[_Aside_.]

So I have a double task! To save her--and kill her husband.

[_Aloud_.]

The same old story, Comrade, and as usual a woman mars the plot! You
were a patriot, till love enmeshed you in his magic web; then you
became the weakest of mankind--a husband. I am sorry, very sorry; but
Paul--my friend--if I can serve you now, I beg of you command me.

PAUL.

Yes, you can serve me. You have been my friend--be more!

GOUROC.

Your sorrow seems so deep, I swear I think I'd serve it--even at the
cost of conscience! Speak then, without fear.

PAUL.

Help me to save the father of my wife!--See! This key opens yonder
door; to-night, at any moment, you may hear three knocks.--That signal
will be given by a man who will conduct you safely out of France.

GOUROC.

A man that you can trust?

PAUL.

To the death.--I saved his life.

GOUROC.

But suppose the Duke is called before the signal comes!--I must go and
find some man to take his place.

GOUROC _starts to go_. PAUL'S _face lights with a sudden resolution_.

PAUL.

Stop! The man is found.

GOUROC.

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