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The Blunderer by Moliere

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measure_ well, half a foot will _break his measure_ as well as
ten ells."]

LEL. Since the thing is done, let us think no more about it. My rival,
however, will not have it in his power to cross me, and provided you
will but exert your skill, in which I trust...

MASC. Let us drop this discourse, and talk of something else; I am not
so easily pacified, not I; I am in too great a passion for that. In the
first place, you must do me a service, and then we shall see whether I
ought to undertake the management of your amours.

LEL. If it only depends on that, I will do it! Tell me, have you need of
my blood, of my sword?

MASC. How crack-brained he is! You are just like those swashbucklers who
are always more ready to draw their sword than to produce a tester, if
it were necessary to give it.

LEL. What can I do, then, for you?

MASC. You must, without delay, endeavour to appease your father's anger.

LEL. We have become reconciled already.

MASC. Yes, but I am not; I killed him this morning for your sake; the
very idea of it shocks him. Those sorts of jokes are severely felt by
such old fellows as he, which, much against their will, make them
reflect sadly on the near approach of death. The good sire,
notwithstanding his age, is very fond of life, and cannot bear jesting
upon that subject; he is alarmed at the prognostication, and so very
angry that I hear he has lodged a complaint against me. I am afraid that
if I am once housed at the expense of the king, I may like it so well
after the first quarter of an hour, that I shall find it very difficult
afterwards to get away. There have been several warrants out against me
this good while; for virtue is always envied and persecuted in this
abominable age. Therefore go and make my peace with your father.

LEL. Yes, I shall soften his anger, but you must promise me then...

MASC. We shall see what there is to be done. (_Exit Lelio_). Now,
let us take a little breath after so many fatigues; let us stop for a
while the current of our intrigues, and not move about hither and
thither as if we were hobgoblins. Leander cannot hurt us now, and Celia
cannot be removed, through the contrivance of...


ERG. I was looking for you everywhere to render you a service. I have a
secret of importance to disclose.

MASC. What may that be?

ERG. Can no one overhear us?

MASC. Not a soul.

ERG. We are as intimate as two people can be; I am acquainted with all
your projects, and the love of your master. Mind what you are about by
and by; Leander has formed a plot to carry off Celia; I have been told
he has arranged everything, and designs to get into Trufaldin's house in
disguise, having heard that at this time of the year some ladies of the
neighbourhood often visit him in the evening in masks.

MASC. Ay, well! He has not yet reached the height of his happiness; I
may perhaps be beforehand with him; and as to this thrust, I know how to
give him a counter-thrust, by which he may run himself through. He is
not aware with what gifts I am endowed. Farewell, we shall take a cup
together next time we meet.


We must, we must reap all possible benefit from this amorous scheme, and
by a dexterous and uncommon counterplot endeavour to make the success
our own, without any danger. If I put on a mask and be beforehand with
Leander, he will certainly not laugh at us; if we take the prize ere he
comes up, he will have paid for us the expenses of the expedition; for,
as his project has already become known, suspicion will fall upon him;
and we, being safe from all pursuit, need not fear the consequences of
that dangerous enterprise. Thus we shall not show ourselves, but use a
cat's paw to take the chesnuts out of the fire. Now, then, let us go and
disguise ourselves with some good fellows; we must not delay if we wish
to be beforehand with our gentry. I love to strike while the iron is
hot, and can, without much difficulty, provide in one moment men and
dresses. Depend upon it, I do not let my skill lie dormant. If Heaven
has endowed me with the gift of knavery, I am not one of those
degenerate minds who hide the talents they have received.


LEL. He intends to carry her off during a masquerade!

ERG. There is nothing more certain; one of his band informed me of his
design, upon which I instantly ran to Mascarille and told him the whole
affair; he said he would spoil their sport by some counter-scheme which
he planned in an instant; so meeting with you by chance, I thought I
ought to let you know the whole.

LEL. I am very much obliged to you for this piece of news; go, I shall
not forget this faithful service.

[_Exit Ergaste_.]

SCENE IX.--LELIO, alone.

My rascal will certainly play them some trick or other; but I, too, have
a mind to assist him in his project. It shall never be said that, in a
business which so nearly concerns me, I stirred no more than a post;
this is the time; they will be surprised at the sight of me. Why did I
not take my blunderbuss with me? But let anybody attack me who likes, I
have two good pistols and a trusty sword. So ho! within there; a word
with you.

SCENE X.--TRUFALDIN _at his window_, LELIO.

TRUF. What is the matter? Who comes to pay me a visit?

LEL. Keep your door carefully shut to-night.

TRUF. Why?

LEL. There are certain people coming masked to give you a sorry kind of
serenade; they intend to carry off Celia.

TRUF. Good Heavens!

LEL. No doubt they will soon be here. Keep where you are, you may see
everything from your window. Hey! Did I not tell you so? Do you not see
them already? Hist! I will affront them before your face. We shall see
some fine fun, if they do not give way.

[Footnote: This is one of the passages of Molière about which
commentators do not agree; the original is, _nous allons voir beau
jeu, si la corde ne rompt_. Some maintain that _corde_ refers to
the tight rope of a rope dancer; others that _corde_ means the
string of a bow, as in the phrase _avoir deux cordes a son arc_, to
have two strings (resources) to one's bow. Mons. Eugène Despois, in his
carefully edited edition of Molière, (i., 187), defends the latter
reading, and I agree with him.]

SCENE XI.--LELIO, TRUFALDIN, MASCARILLE, _and his company masked_.

TRUF. Oh, the funny blades, who think to surprise me.

LEL. Maskers, whither so fast? Will you let me into the secret?
Trufaldin, pray open the door to these gentry, that they may challenge
us for a throw with the dice.

[Footnote: The original has _jouer un momon_. Guy Miege, in his
Dictionary of barbarous French. London, 1679 has "_Mommon_, a
mummer, also a company of mummers; also a visard, or mask; also a let by
a mummer at dice."]

(_To Mascarille, disguised as a woman_). Good Heavens! What a
pretty creature! What a darling she looks! How now! What are you
mumbling? Without offence, may I remove your mask and see your face.

TRUF. Hence! ye wicked rogues; begone, ye ragamuffins! And you, sir,
good night, and many thanks.


LEL. (_After having taken the mask from Mascarille's face_).
Mascarille, is it you?

MASC. No, not at all; it is somebody else.

LEL. Alas! How astonished I am! How adverse is our fate! Could I
possibly have guessed this, as you did not secretly inform me that you
were going to disguise yourself? Wretch that I am, thoughtlessly to play
you such a trick, while you wore this mask. I am in an awful passion
with myself, and have a good mind to give myself a sound beating.

MASC. Farewell, most refined wit, unparalleled inventive genius.

LEL. Alas! If your anger deprives me of your assistance, what saint
shall I invoke?

MASC. Beelzebub.

LEL. Ah! If your heart is not made of stone or iron, do once more at
least forgive my imprudence; if it is necessary to be pardoned that I
should kneel before you, behold...

MASC. Fiddlesticks! Come, my boys, let us away; I hear some other people
coming closely behind us.

SCENE XIII.--LEANDER _and his company masked;_ TRUFALDIN _at the

LEAND. Softly, let us do nothing but in the gentlest manner.

TRUF. (_At the window_). How is this? What! mummers besieging my
door all night. Gentlemen, do not catch a cold gratuitously; every one
who is catching it here must have plenty of time to lose. It is rather a
little too late to take Celia along with you; she begs you will excuse
her to-night; the girl is in bed and cannot speak to you; I am very
sorry; but to repay you for all the trouble you have taken for her sake,
she begs you will be pleased to accept this pot of perfume.

LEAND. Faugh! That does not smell nicely. My clothes are all spoiled; we
are discovered; let us be gone this way.


SCENE I.--LELIO, _disguised as an Armenian;_ MASCARILLE.

MASC. You are dressed in a most comical fashion.

LEL. I had abandoned all hope, but you have revived it again by this

MASC. My anger is always too soon over; it is vain to swear and curse, I
can never keep to my oaths.

LEL. Be assured that if ever it lies in my power you shall be satisfied
with the proofs of my gratitude, and though I had but one piece of

MASC. Enough: Study well this new project; for if you commit now any
blunder, you cannot lay the blame upon ignorance of the plot; you ought
to know your part in the play perfectly by heart.

LEL. But how did Trufaldin receive you?

MASC. I cozened the good fellow with a pretended zeal for his interests.
I went with alacrity to tell him that, unless he took very great care,
some people would come and surprise him; that from different quarters
they had designs upon her of whose origin a letter had given a false
account; that they would have liked to draw me in for a share in the
business, but that I kept well out of it; and that, being full of zeal
for what so nearly concerned him, I came to give him timely notice that
he might take his precautions. Then, moralizing, I discoursed solemnly
about the many rogueries one sees every day here below; that, as for me,
being tired with the world and its infamies, I wished to work out my
soul's salvation, retire from all its noise, and live with some worthy
honest man, with whom I could spend the rest of my days in peace; that,
if he had no objection, I should desire nothing more than to pass the
remainder of my life with him; that I had taken such a liking to him,
that, without asking for any wages to serve him, I was ready to place in
his hands, knowing it to be safe there, some property my father had left
me, as well as my savings, which I was fully determined to leave to him
alone, if it pleased Heaven to take me hence. That was the right way to
gain his affection. You and your beloved should decide what means to use
to attain your wishes. I was anxious to arrange a secret interview
between you two; he himself has contrived to show me a most excellent
method, by which you may fairly and openly stay in her house. Happening
to talk to me about a son he had lost, and whom he dreamt last night had
come to life again, he told me the following story, upon which, just
now, I founded my stratagem.

LEL. Enough; I know it all; you have told it me twice already.

[Footnote: Though Lelio says to Mascarille, "Enough, I know it all," he
has not been listening to the speech of his servant, but, in the
meanwhile, is arranging his dress, and smoothing his ruffles, and making
it clear to the spectator that he knows nothing, and that he will be a
bad performer of the part assigned to him. This explains the blunders he
makes afterwards in the second and fifth scenes of the same act.]

MASC. Yes, yes; but even if I should tell it thrice, it may happen
still, that with all your conceit, you might break down in some minor

LEL. I long to be at it already.

MASC. Pray, not quite so fast, for fear we might stumble. Your skull is
rather thick, therefore you should be perfectly well instructed in your
part. Some time ago Trufaldin left Naples; his name was then Zanobio
Ruberti. Being suspected in his native town of having participated in a
certain rebellion, raised by some political faction (though really he is
not a man to disturb any state), he was obliged to quit it stealthily by
night, leaving behind him his daughter, who was very young, and his
wife. Some time afterwards he received the news that they were both
dead, and in this perplexity, wishing to take with him to some other
town, not only his property, but also the only one who was left of all
his family, his young son, a schoolboy, called Horatio, he wrote to
Bologna, where a certain tutor, named Alberto, had taken the boy when
very young, to finish there his education; but though for two whole
years he appointed several times to meet them, they never made their
appearance. Believing them to be dead, after so long a time, he came to
this city, where he took the name he now bears, without for twelve years
ever having discovered any traces of this Alberto, or of his son
Horatio. This is the substance of the story, which I have repeated so
that you may better remember the groundwork of the plot. Now, you are to
personate an Armenian merchant, who has seen them both safe and sound in
Turkey. If I have invented this scheme, in preference to any other, of
bringing them to life again according to his dream, it is because it is
very common in adventures for people to be taken at sea by some Turkish
pirate, and afterwards restored to their families in the very nick of
time, when thought lost for fifteen or twenty years. For my part, I have
heard a hundred of that kind of stories. Without giving ourselves the
trouble of inventing something fresh, let us make use of this one; what
does it matter? You must say you heard the story of their being made
slaves from their own mouths, and also that you lent them money to pay
their ransom; but that as urgent business obliged you to set out before
them, Horatio asked you to go and visit his father here, whose
adventures he was acquainted with, and with whom you were to stay a few
days till their arrival. I have given you a long lesson now.

LEL. These repetitions are superfluous. From the very beginning I
understood it all.

MASC. I shall go in and prepare the way.

LEL. Listen, Mascarille, there is only one thing that troubles me;
suppose he should ask me to describe his son's countenance?

MASC. There is no difficulty in answering that! You know he was very
little when he saw him last. Besides it is very likely that increase of
years and slavery have completely changed him.

LEL. That is true. But pray, if he should remember my face, what must I
do then?

MASC. Have you no memory at all? I told you just now, that he has merely
seen you for a minute, that therefore you could only have produced a
very transient impression on his mind; besides, your beard and dress
disguise you completely.

LEL. Very well. But, now I think of it, what part of Turkey...?

MASC. It is all the same, I tell you, Turkey or Barbary.

LEL. But what is the name of the town I saw them in?

MASC. Tunis. I think he will keep me till night. He tells me it is
useless to repeat that name so often, and I have already mentioned it a
dozen times.

LEL. Go, go in and prepare matters; I want nothing more.

MASC. Be cautious at least, and act wisely. Let us have none of your
inventions here.

LEL. Let me alone! Trust to me, I say, once more.

MASC. Observe, Horatio, a schoolboy in Bologna; Trufaldin, his true name
Zanobio Ruberti, a citizen of Naples; the tutor was called Alberto...

LEL. You make me blush by preaching so much to me; do you think I am a

MASC. No, not completely, but something very like it.

SCENE II.--LELIO, _alone_.

When I do not stand in need of him he cringes, but now, because he very
well knows of how much use he is to me, his familiarity indulges in such
remarks as he just now made. I shall bask in the sunshine of those
beautiful eyes, which hold me in so sweet a captivity, and, without
hindrance, depict in the most glaring colours the tortures I feel. I
shall then know my fate.... But here they are.


TRUF. Thanks, righteous heaven, for this favourable turn of my fortune!

MASC. You are the man to see visions and dream dreams, since you prove
how untrue is the saying that dreams are falsehoods.

[Footnote: In French there is a play on words between _songes_,
dreams, and _mensonges_, falsehoods, which cannot be rendered into

TRUF. How can I thank you? what returns can I make you, sir? You, whom I
ought to style the messenger sent from Heaven to announce my happiness!

LEL. These compliments are superfluous; I can dispense with them.

TRUF. (_To Mascarille_). I have seen somebody like this Armenian,
but I do not know where.

MASC. That is what I was saying, but one sees surprising likenesses

TRUF. You have seen that son of mine, in whom all my hopes are centred?

LEL. Yes, Signor Trufaldin, and he was as well as well can be.

TRUF. He related to you his life and spoke much about me, did he not?

LEL. More than ten thousand times.

MASC. (_Aside to Lelio_). Not quite so much, I should say.

LEL. He described you just as I see you, your face, your gait.

TRUF. Is that possible? He has not seen me since he was seven years old.
And even his tutor, after so long a time, would scarcely know my face

MASC. One's own flesh and blood never forget the image of one's
relations; this likeness is imprinted so deeply, that my father...

TRUF. Hold your tongue. Where was it you left him?

LEL. In Turkey, at Turin.

TRUF. Turin! but I thought that town was in Piedmont.

MASC. (_Aside_). Oh the dunce! (_To Trufaldin_). You do not
understand him; he means Tunis; it was in reality there he left your
son; but the Armenians always have a certain vicious pronunciation,
which seems very harsh to us; the reason of it is because in all their
words they change _nis_ into _rin_; and so, instead of saying
_Tunis_, they pronounce _Turin_.

TRUF. I ought to know this in order to understand him. Did he tell you
in what way you could meet with his father?

MASC. (_Aside_). What answer will he give?

[Footnote: Trufaldin having found out that Mascarille makes signs to his
master, the servant pretends to fence.]

(_To Trufaldin, after pretending to fence_). I was just practising
some passes; I have handled the foils in many a fencing school.

TRUF. (_To Mascarille_). That is not the thing I wish to know now.
(_To Lelio_). What other name did he say I went by?

MASC. Ah, Signor Zanobio Ruberti. How glad you ought to be for what
Heaven sends you!

LEL. That is your real name; the other is assumed.

TRUF. But where did he tell you he first saw the light?

MASC. Naples seems a very nice place, but you must feel a decided
aversion to it.

TRUF. Can you not let us go on with our conversation, without
interrupting us?

LEL. Naples is the place where he first drew his breath.

TRUF. Whither did I send him in his infancy, and under whose care?

MASC. That poor Albert behaved very well, for having accompanied your
son from Bologna, whom you committed to his care.

TRUF. Pshaw!

MASC. (_Aside_). We are undone if this conversation lasts long.

TRUF. I should very much like to know their adventures; aboard what ship
did my adverse fate...?

MASC. I do not know what is the matter with me, I do nothing but yawn.
But, Signor Trufaldin, perhaps this stranger may want some refreshment;
besides, it grows late.

LEL. No refreshment for me.

MASC. Oh sir, you are more hungry than you imagine.

TRUF. Please to walk in then.

LEL. After you, sir.

[Footnote: It shows that Lelio knows not what he is about when he does
the honours of the house to the master of the house himself, and forgets
that as a stranger he ought to go in first.]

MASC. (_To Trufaldin_). Sir, in Armenia, the masters of the house
use no ceremony. (_To Lelio, after Trufaldin has gone in_). Poor
fellow, have you not a word to say for yourself?

LEL. He surprised me at first; but never fear, I have rallied my
spirits, and am going to rattle away boldly..

MASC. Here comes our rival, who knows nothing of our plot. (_They go
into Trufaldin's house_).


ANS. Stay, Leander, and allow me to tell you something which concerns
your peace and reputation. I do not speak to you as the father of
Hippolyta, as a man interested for my own family, but as your father,
anxious for your welfare, without wishing to flatter you or to disguise
anything; in short, openly and honestly, as I would wish a child of mine
to be treated upon the like occasion. Do you know how everybody regards
this amour of yours, which in one night has burst forth? How your
yesterday's undertaking is everywhere talked of and ridiculed? What
people think of the whim which, they say, has made you select for a wife
a gipsy outcast, a strolling wench, whose noble occupation was only
begging? I really blushed for you, even more than I did for myself, who
am also compromised by this public scandal. Yes, I am compromised, I
say, I whose daughter, being engaged to you, cannot bear to see her
slighted, without taking offence at it. For shame, Leander; arise from
your humiliation; consider well your infatuation; if none of us are wise
at all times, yet the shortest errors are always the best. When a man
receives no dowry with his wife, but beauty only, repentance follows
soon after wedlock; and the handsomest woman in the world can hardly
defend herself against a lukewarmness caused by possession. I repeat it,
those fervent raptures, those youthful ardours and ecstacies, may make
us pass a few agreeable nights, but this bliss is not at all lasting,
and as our passions grow cool, very unpleasant days follow those
pleasant nights; hence proceed cares, anxieties, miseries, sons
disinherited through their fathers' wrath.

LEAND. All that I now hear from you is no more than what my own reason
has already suggested to me. I know how much I am obliged to you for the
great honour you are inclined to pay me, and of which I am unworthy. In
spite of the passion which sways me, I have ever retained a just sense
of your daughter's merit and virtue: therefore I will endeavour...

ANS. Somebody is opening this door; let us retire to a distance, lest
some contagion spreads from it, which may attack you suddenly.


MASC. We shall soon see our roguery miscarry if you persist in such
palpable blunders.

LEL. Must I always hear your reprimands? What can you complain of? Have
I not done admirably since...?

MASC. Only middling; for example, you called the Turks heretics, and you
affirmed, on your corporal oath, that they worshipped the sun and moon
as their gods. Let that pass. What vexes me most is that, when you are
with Celia, you strangely forget yourself; your love is like porridge,
which by too fierce a fire swells, mounts up to the brim, and runs over

LEL. Could any one be more reserved? As yet I have hardly spoken to her.

MASC. You are right! but it is not enough to be silent; you had not been
a moment at table till your gestures roused more suspicion than other
people would have excited in a whole twelvemonth.

LEL. How so?

MASC. How so? Everybody might have seen it. At table, where Trufaldin
made her sit down, you never kept your eyes off her, blushed, looked
quite silly, cast sheep's eyes at her, without ever minding what you
were helped to; you were never thirsty but when she drank, and took the
glass eagerly from her hands; and without rinsing it, or throwing a drop
of it away, you drank what she left in it, and seemed to choose in
preference that side of the glass which her lips had touched; upon every
piece which her slender hand had touched, or which she had bit, you laid
your paw as quickly as a cat does upon a mouse, and you swallowed it as
glibly as if you were a regular glutton. Then, besides all this, you
made an intolerable noise, shuffling with your feet under the table, for
which Trufaldin, who received two lusty kicks, twice punished a couple
of innocent dogs, who would have growled at you if they dared; and yet,
in spite of all this, you say you behaved finely! For my part I sat upon
thorns all the time; notwithstanding the cold, I feel even now in a
perspiration. I hung over you just as a bowler does over his bowl after
he has thrown it, and thought to restrain your actions by contorting my
body ever so many times.

LEL. Lack-a day! how easy it is for you to condemn things of which you
do not feel the enchanting cause. In order to humour you for once I
have, nevertheless, a good mind to put a restraint upon that love which
sways me. Henceforth...


MASC. We were speaking about your son's adventures.

TRUF. (_To Lelio_). You did quite right. Will you do me the favour
of letting me have one word in private with him?

LEL. I should be very rude if I did not. (_Lelio goes into Trufaldin's


TRUF. Hark ye! do you know what I have just been doing?

MASC. No, but if you think it proper, I shall certainly not remain long
in ignorance.

TRUF. I have just now cut off from a large and sturdy oak, of about two
hundred years old, an admirable branch, selected on purpose, of
tolerable thickness, of which immediately, upon the spot, I made a
cudgel, about ... yes, of this size (_showing his arm_); not so
thick at one end as at the other, but fitter, I imagine, than thirty
switches to belabour the shoulders withal; for it is well poised, green,
knotty, and heavy.

MASC. But, pray, for whom is all this preparation?

TRUF. For yourself, first of all; then, secondly, for that fellow, who
wishes to palm one person upon me, and trick me out of another; for this
Armenian, this merchant in disguise, introduced by a lying and pretended

MASC. What! you do not believe...?

TRUF. Do not try to find an excuse; he himself, fortunately, discovered
his own stratagem, by telling Celia, whilst he squeezed her hand at the
same time, that it was for her sake alone he came disguised in this
manner. He did not perceive Jeannette, my little god-daughter, who
overheard every word he said. Though your name was not mentioned, I do
not doubt but you are a cursed accomplice in all this.

MASC. Indeed, you wrong me. If you are really deceived, believe me I was
the first imposed upon with his story.

TRUF. Would you convince me you speak the truth? Assist me in giving him
a sound drubbing, and in driving him away; let us give it the rascal
well, and then I will acquit you of all participation in this piece of

MASC. Ay, ay, with all my soul. I will dust his jacket for him so
soundly, that you shall see I had no hand in this matter.
(_Aside_). Ah! you shall have a good licking, Mister Armenian, who
always spoil everything.


TRUF. (_Knocks at his door, and then addresses Lelio_). A word with
you, if you please. So, Mr. Cheat, you have the assurance to fool a
respectable man, and make game of him?

MASC. To pretend to have seen his son abroad, in order to get the more
easily into his house!

TRUF. (_Beating Lelio_). Go away, go away immediately.

LEL. (_To Mascarille, who beats him likewise_). Oh! you scoundrel!

MASC. It is thus that rogues...

LEL. Villain!

MASC. Are served here. Keep that for my sake!

LEL. What? Is a gentleman...?

MASC. (_Beating him and driving him off). March off, begone, I tell
you, or I shall break all the bones in your body.

TRUF. I am delighted with this; come in, I am satisfied. (_Mascarille
follows Trufaldin into his house_).

LEL. (_Returning_). This to me! To be thus affronted by a servant!
Could I have thought the wretch would have dared thus to ill-treat his

MASC. (_From Trufaldin's window_). May I take the liberty to ask
how your shoulders are?

LEL. What! Have you the impudence still to address me?

MASC. Now see what it is not to have perceived Jeannette, and to have
always a blabbing tongue in your head! However, this time I am not angry
with you, I have done cursing and swearing at you; though you behaved
very imprudently, yet my hand has made your shoulders pay for your

LEL. Ha! I shall be revenged on you for your treacherous behaviour.

MASC. You yourself were the cause of all this mischief.


MASC. If you had had a grain of sense when you were talking to your idol
you would have perceived Jeannette at your heels, whose sharp ears
overheard the whole affair.

LEL. Could anybody possibly catch one word I spoke to Celia?

MASC. And what else was the cause why you were suddenly turned out of
doors? Yes, you are shut out by your own tittle-tattle. I do not know
whether you play often at piquet, but you at least throw your cards away
in an admirable manner.

LEL. Oh! I am the most unhappy of all men. But why did you drive me away

MASC. I never did better than in acting thus. By these means, at least,
I prevent all suspicion of my being the inventor or an accomplice of
this stratagem.

LEL. But you should have laid it on more gently.

MASC. I was no such fool! Trufaldin watched me most narrowly; besides, I
must tell you, under the pretence of being of use to you, I was not at
all displeased to vent my spleen. However, the thing is done, and if you
will give me your word of honour, never, directly or indirectly, to be
revenged on me for the blows on the back I so heartily gave you, I
promise you, by the help of my present station, to satisfy your wishes
within these two nights.

LEL. Though you have treated me very harshly, yet what would not such a
promise prevail upon me to do?

MASC. You promise, then?

LEL. Yes, I do.

MASC. But that is not all; promise never to meddle in anything I take in

LEL. I do.

MASC. If you break your word may you get the cold shivers!

LEL. Then keep it with me, and do not forget my uneasiness.

MASC. Go and change your dress, and rub something on your back.

LEL. (_Alone_). Will ill-luck always follow me, and heap upon me
one misfortune after another?

MASC. (_Coming out of Trufaldin's house_). What! Not gone yet?
Hence immediately; but, above all, be sure you don't trouble your head
about any thing. Be satisfied, that I am on your side; do not make the
least attempt to assist me; remain quiet.

LEL. (_Going_). Yes, to be sure, I will remain quiet.

MASC. (_Alone_). Now let me see what course I am to steer.


ERG. Mascarille, I come to tell you a piece of news, which will give a
cruel blow to your projects. At the very moment I am talking to you, a
young gipsy, who nevertheless is no black, and looks like a gentleman,
has arrived with a very wan-looking old woman, and is to call upon
Trufaldin to purchase the slave you wished to redeem. He seems to be
very anxious to get possession of her.

MASC. Doubtless it is the lover Celia spoke about. Were ever fortunes so
tangled as ours? No sooner have we got rid of one trouble than we fall
into another. In vain do we hear that Leander intends to abandon his
pursuit, and to give us no further trouble; that the unexpected arrival
of his father has turned the scales in favour of Hippolyta; that the old
gentleman has employed his parental authority to make a thorough change,
and that the marriage contract is going to be signed this very day; as
soon as one rival withdraws, another and a more dangerous one starts up
to destroy what little hope there was left. However, by a wonderful
stratagem, I believe I shall be able to delay their departure and gain
what time I want to put the finishing stroke to this famous affair. A
great robbery has lately been committed, by whom, nobody knows. These
gipsies have not generally the reputation of being very honest; upon
this slight suspicion, I will cleverly get the fellow imprisoned for a
few days. I know some officers of justice, open to a bribe, who will not
hesitate on such an occasion; greedy and expecting some present, there
is nothing they will not attempt with their eyes shut; be the accused
ever so innocent, the purse is always criminal, and must pay for the



MASC. Ah blockhead! numskull! idiot! Will you never leave off
persecuting me?

ERG. The constable took great care everything was going on smoothly; the
fellow would have been in jail, had not your master come up that very
moment, and, like a madman spoiled your plot. "I cannot suffer," says he
in a loud voice, "that a respectable man should be dragged to prison in
this disgraceful manner; I will be responsible for him, from his very
looks, and will be his bail." And as they refused to let him go, he
immediately and so vigorously attacked the officers, who are a kind of
people much afraid of their carcasses, that, even at this very moment,
they are running, and every man thinks he has got a Lelio at his heels.

MASC. The fool does not know that this gipsy is in the house already to
carry off his treasure.

ERG. Good-bye, business obliges me to leave you.


Yes, this last marvellous accident quite stuns me. One would think, and
I have no doubt of it, that this bungling devil which possesses Lelio
takes delight in defying me, and leads him into every place where his
presence can do mischief. Yet I shall go on, and notwithstanding all
these buffets of fortune, try who will carry the day. Celia has no
aversion to him, and looks upon her departure with great regret. I must
endeavour to improve this opportunity. But here they come; let me
consider how I shall execute my plan. Yonder furnished house is at my
disposal, and I can do what I like with it; if fortune but favours us,
all will go well; nobody lives there but myself, and I keep the key.
Good Heavens! what a great many adventures have befallen us in so short
a time, and what numerous disguises a rogue is obliged to put on.


AND. You know it, Celia, I have left nothing undone to prove the depth
of my passion. When I was but very young, my courage in the wars gained
me some consideration among the Venetians, and one time or other, and
without having too great an opinion of myself, I might, had I continued
in their service, have risen to some employment of distinction; but, for
your sake, I abandoned everything; the sudden change you produced in my
heart, was quickly followed by your lover joining the gipsies. Neither a
great many adventures nor your indifference have been able to make me
abandon my pursuit. Since that time, being by an accident separated from
you much longer than I could have foreseen, I spared neither time nor
pains to meet with you again. At last I discovered the old gipsy-woman,
and heard from her that for a certain sum of money, which was then of
great consequence to the gipsies, and prevented the dissolution of the
whole band, you were left in pledge in this neighbourhood. Full of
impatience, I flew hither immediately to break these mercenary chains,
and to receive from you whatever commands you might be pleased to give.
But, when I thought to see joy sparkle in your eyes, I find you pensive
and melancholy; if quietness has charms for you, I have sufficient means
at Venice, of the spoils taken in war, for us both to live there; but if
I must still follow you as before, I will do so, and my heart shall have
no other ambition than to serve you in whatever manner you please.

CEL. You openly display your affection for me. I should be ungrateful
not to be sensible of it. Besides, just now, my countenance does not
bear the impress of the feelings of my heart; my looks show that I have
a violent headache. If I have the least influence over you, you will
delay our voyage for at least three or four days, until my indisposition
has passed away.

AND. I shall stay as long as you like; I only wish to please you; let us
look for a house where you may be comfortable. Ho! here is a bill up
just at the right time.

SCENE IV.--CELIA, ANDRÈS, MASCARILLE, _disguised as a Swiss_.

AND. Monsieur Swiss, are you the master of the house?

MASC. I am at your service.

[Footnote: In the original, Mascarille speaks a kind of gibberish, which
is only amusing when the play is acted; but it can serve no purpose to
translate "_moi, pour serfir a fous_," "_Oui, moi pour
d'estrancher chappon champre garni, mais che non point locher te gent te
mechant vi_," etc., by "me be at your serfice," "yes. me have de very
goot shambers, ready furnish for stranger, but me no loge de people
scandaluse," etc. A provincial pronunciation, an Irish brogue, or a
Scotch tongue, are no equivalent for this mock Swiss German-French.]

AND. Can we lodge here?

MASC. Yes, I let furnished lodgings to strangers, but only to
respectable people.

AND. I suppose your house has a very good reputation?

MASC. I see by your face you are a stranger in this town.

AND. I am.

MASC. Are you the husband of this lady?

AND. Sir?

MASC. Is she your wife or your sister?

AND. Neither.

MASC. Upon my word, she is very pretty! Do you come on business, or have
you a lawsuit going on before the court? A lawsuit is a very bad thing,
it costs so much money; a solicitor is a thief, and a barrister a rogue.

AND. I do not come for either of these.

MASC. You have brought this young lady then to walk about and to see the

AND. What is that to you? (_To Celia_). I shall be with you again
in one moment; I am going to fetch the old woman presently, and tell
them not to send the travelling-carriage which was ready.

MASC. Is the lady not quite well?

AND. She has a headache.

MASC. I have some good wine and cheese within; walk in, go into my small
house. (_Celia, Andrès and Mascarille go into the house_).

SCENE V.--LELIO, _alone_.

However impatient and excited I may feel, yet I have pledged my word to
do nothing but wait quietly, to let another work for me, and to see,
without daring to stir, in what manner Heaven will change my destiny.


LEL. (_Addressing Andrès, who is coming out of the house_). Do you
want to see anybody in this house?

AND. I have just taken some furnished apartments there.

LEL. The house belongs to my father, and my servant sleeps there every
night to take care of it.

AND. I know nothing of that; the bill, at least, shows it is to be let;
read it.

LEL. Truly this surprises me, I confess. Who the deuce can have put that
bill up, and why...? Ho, faith, I can guess, pretty near, what it means;
this cannot possibly proceed but from the quarter I surmise.

AND. May I ask what affair this may be?

LEL. I would keep it carefully from anybody else, but it can be of no
consequence to you, and you will not mention it to any one. Without
doubt, that bill can be nothing else but an invention of the servant I
spoke of; nothing but some cunning plot he has hatched to place into my
hands a certain gipsy girl, with whom I am smitten, and of whom I wish
to obtain possession. I have already attempted this several times, but
until now in vain.

AND. What is her name?

LEL. Celia.

AND. What do you say? Had you but mentioned this, no doubt I should have
saved you all the trouble this project costs you.

LEL. How so? Do you know her?

AND. It is I who just now bought her from her master.

LEL. You surprise me!

AND. As the state of her health did not allow her to leave this town, I
just took these apartments for her; and I am very glad that on this
occasion you have acquainted me with your intentions.

LEL. What! shall I obtain the happiness I hope for by your means? Could

AND. (_Knocks at the door_). You shall be satisfied immediately.

LEL. What can I say to you? And what thanks...?

AND. No, give me none; I will have none.


MASC. (_Aside_). Hallo! Is this not my mad-cap master? He will make
another blunder.

LEL. Who would have known him in this grotesque dress? Come hither,
Mascarille, you are welcome.

MASC. I am a man of honour; I am not Mascarille, I never debauched any
married or unmarried woman.

[Footnote: Mascarille answers in his gibberish, "Moi non point
_Masquerille_," an allusion to _maquerelle_ a female pander;
hence his further remarks.]

LEL. What funny gibberish! It is really very good!

MASC. Go about your business, and do not laugh at me.

LEL. You can take off your dress; recognise your master.

MASC. Upon my word! by all the saints, I never knew you!

LEL. Everything is settled, disguise yourself no longer.

MASC. If you do not go away I will give you a slap in the face.

LEL. Your Swiss jargon is needless, I tell you, for we are agreed, and
his generosity lays me under an obligation. I have all I can wish for;
you have no reason to be under any farther apprehension.

MASC. If you are agreed, by great good luck, I will no longer play the
Swiss, and become myself again.

AND. This valet of yours serves you with much zeal; stay a little; I
will return presently.


LEL. Well, what do you say now?

MASC. That I am delighted to see our labours crowned with success.

LEL. You were hesitating to doff your disguise, and could hardly believe

MASC. As I know you I was rather afraid, and still find the adventure
very astonishing.

LEL. But confess, however, that I have done great things--at least I
have now made amends for all my blunders--mine will be the honour of
having finished the work.

MASC. Be it so; you have been much more lucky than wise.


AND. Is not this the lady you were speaking of to me?

LEL. Heavens! what happiness can be equal to mine!

AND. It is true; I am indebted to you for the kindness you have shown
me; I should be much to blame if I did not acknowledge it; but this
kindness would be too dearly bought were I to repay it at the expense of
my heart. Judge, by the rapture her beauty causes me, whether I ought to
discharge my debt to you at such a price. You are generous, and would
not have me act thus. Farewell. Let us return whence we came, and stay
there for a few days. (_He leads Celia away_).


MASC. I am laughing, and yet I have little inclination to it. You two
are quite of the same mind; he gives Celia to you. Hem! ... You
understand me, sir?

LEL. This is too much. I am determined no longer to ask you to assist
me; it is useless; I am a puppy, a wretch, a detestable blockhead, not
worthy of any one taking any trouble for me, incapable of doing
anything. Abandon all endeavours to aid an unfortunate wretch, who will
not allow himself to be made happy; after so many misfortunes, after all
my imprudent actions, death alone should aid me.


That is the true way of putting the finishing stroke to his fate; he
wants nothing now but to die, to crown all his follies. But in vain his
indignation, for all the faults he has committed urges him to renounce
my aid and my support. I intend, happen what will, to serve him in spite
of himself, and vanquish the very devil that possesses him. The greater
the obstacle, the greater the glory; and the difficulties which beset us
are but a kind of tire-women who deck and adorn virtue.


CELIA. (_To Mascarille, who has been whispering to her_). Whatever
you may say, and whatever they intend doing, I have no great expectation
from this delay. What we have seen hitherto may indeed convince us that
they are not as yet likely to agree. I have already told you that a
heart like mine will not for the sake of one do an injustice to another,
and that I find myself strongly attached to both, though by different
ties. If Lelio has love and its power on his side, Andrès has gratitude
pleading for him, which will not permit even my most secret thoughts
ever to harbour anything against his interests. Yes; if he has no longer
a place in my heart, if the gift of my hand must not crown his love, I
ought at least to reward that which he has done for me, by not choosing
another, in contempt of his flame, and suppress my own inclinations in
the same manner as I do his. You have heard the difficulties which duty
throws in my way, and you can judge now whether your expectations will
be realized.

MASC. To speak the truth, they are very formidable obstacles in our way,
and I have not the knack of working miracles; but I will do my utmost,
move Heaven and earth, leave no stone unturned to try and discover some
happy expedient. I shall soon let you know what can be done.


HIPP. Ever since you came among us, the ladies of this neighbourhood may
well complain of the havoc caused by your eyes, since you deprive them
of the greatest part of their conquests, and make all their lovers
faithless. There is not a heart which can escape the darts with which
you pierce them as soon as they see you; many thousands load themselves
with your chains, and seem to enrich you daily at our expense. However,
as regards myself, I should make no complaints of the irresistible sway
of your exquisite charms, had they left me one of all my lovers to
console me for the loss of the others; but it is inhuman in you that
without mercy you deprive me of all; I cannot forbear complaining to

CEL. You rally in a charming manner, but I beseech you to spare me a
little. Those eyes, those very eyes of yours, know their own power too
well ever to dread anything that I am able to do; they are too conscious
of their own charms, and will never entertain similar feelings of fear.

HIPP. Yet I advance nothing in what I have said which has not already
entered the mind of every one, and without mentioning anything else, it
is well known that Celia has made a deep impression on Leander and on

CEL. I believe you will easily console yourself about their loss, since
they have become so infatuated; nor can you regret a lover who could
make so ill a choice.

HIPP. On the contrary, I am of quite a different opinion, and discover
such great merits in your beauty, and see in it so many reasons
sufficient to excuse the inconstancy of those who allow themselves to be
attracted by it, that I cannot blame Leander for having changed his love
and broken his plighted troth. In a short time, and without either
hatred or anger, I shall see him again brought under my sway, when his
father shall have exercised his authority.


MASC. Great news! great news! a wonderful event which I am now going to
tell you!

CEL. What means this?

MASC. Listen. This is, without any compliments...

CEL. What?

MASC. The last scene of a true and genuine comedy. The old gipsy-woman
was, but this very moment...

CEL. Well?

MASC. Crossing the market-place, thinking about nothing at all, when
another old woman, very haggard-looking, after having closely stared at
her for some time, hoarsely broke out in a torrent of abusive language,
and thus gave the signal for a furious combat, in which, instead of
swords, muskets, daggers, or arrows, nothing was seen but four withered
paws, brandished in the air, with which these two combatants endeavoured
to tear off the little flesh old age had left on their bones. Not a word
was heard but drab, wretch, trull. Their caps, to begin with, were
flying about, and left a couple of bald pates exposed to view, which
rendered the battle ridiculously horrible. At the noise and hubbub,
Andrès and Trufaldin, as well as many others, ran to see what was the
matter, and had much ado to part them, so excited were they by passion.
Meanwhile each of them, when the storm was abated, endeavoured to hide
her head with shame. Everybody wished to know the cause of this
ridiculous fray. She who first began it having, notwithstanding the
warmth of her passion, looked for some time at Trufaldin, said in a loud
voice,--"It is you, unless my sight misgives me, who, I was informed,
lived privately in this town; most happy meeting! Yes, Signor Zanobio
Ruberti, fortune made me find you out at the very moment I was giving
myself so much trouble for your sake. When you left your family at
Naples, your daughter, as you know, remained under my care. I brought
her up from her youth. When she was only four years old she showed
already in a thousand different ways what charms and beauty she would
have. That woman you see there--that infamous hag--who had become
rather intimate with us, robbed me of that treasure. Your good lady,
alas! felt so much grief at this misfortune, that, as I have reason to
believe it shortened her days; so that, fearing your severe reproaches
because your daughter had been stolen from me, I sent you word that both
were dead; but now, as I have found out the thief, she must tell us what
has become of your child." At the name of Zanobio Ruberti, which she
repeated several times throughout the story, Andrès, after changing
colour often, addressed to the surprised Trufaldin these words: "What!
has Heaven most happily brought me to him whom I have hitherto sought in
vain! Can I possibly have beheld my father, the author of my being,
without knowing him? Yes, father, I am Horatio, your son; my tutor,
Albert, having died, I felt anew certain uneasiness in my mind, left
Bologna, and abandoning my studies, wandered about for six years in
different places, according as my curiosity led me. However, after the
expiration of that time, a secret impulse drove me to revisit my kindred
and my native country; but in Naples, alas! I could no longer find you,
and could only hear vague reports concerning you; so that having in vain
tried to meet with you, I ceased to roam about idly, and stopped for a
while in Venice. From that time to this I have lived without receiving
any other information about my family, except knowing its name." You may
judge whether Trufaldin was not more than ordinarily moved all this
while; in one word (to tell you shortly that which you will have an
opportunity of learning afterwards more at your leisure, from the
confession of the old gipsy-woman), Trufaldin owns you (_to Celia_)
now for his daughter; Andrès is your brother; and as he can no longer
think of marrying his sister, and as he acknowledges he is under some
obligation to my master, Lelio, he has obtained for him your hand.
Pandolphus being present at this discovery, gives his full consent to
the marriage; and to complete the happiness of the family, proposes that
the newly-found Horatio should marry his daughter. See how many
incidents are produced at one and the same time!

CEL. Such tidings perfectly amaze me.

MASC. The whole company follow me, except the two female champions, who
are adjusting their toilet after the fray. Leander and your father are
also coming. I shall go and inform my master of this, and let him know
that when we thought obstacles were increasing, Heaven almost wrought a
miracle in his favour. (_Exit Mascarille_).

HIPP. This fortunate event fills me with as much as joy as if it were my
own case. But here they come.


TRUF. My child!

CEL. Father!

TRUF. Do you already know how Heaven has blest us?

CEL. I have just now heard this wonderful event.

HIPP. (_To Leander_). You need not find excuses for your past
infidelity. The cause of it, which I have before my eyes, is a
sufficient excuse.

LEAND. I crave nothing but a generous pardon. I call Heaven to witness
that, though I return to my duty suddenly, my father's authority has
influenced me less than my own inclination.

AND. (_To Celia_). Who could ever have supposed that so chaste a
love would one day be condemned by nature? However, honour swayed it
always so much, that with a little alteration it may still continue.

CEL. As for me, I blamed myself, and thought I was wrong, because I felt
nothing but a very sincere esteem for you. I could not tell what
powerful obstacle stopped me in a path so agreeable and so dangerous,
and diverted my heart from acknowledging a love which my senses
endeavoured to communicate to my soul.

TRUF. (_To Celia_). But what would you say of me if, as soon as I
have found you, I should be thinking of parting with you? I promised
your hand to this gentleman's son.

CEL. I know no will but yours.


MASC. Now, let us see whether this devil of yours will have the power to
destroy so solid a foundation as this; and whether your inventive powers
will again strive against this great good luck that befalls you. Through
a most unexpected favourable turn of fortune your desires are crowned
with success, and Celia is yours.

LEL. Am I to believe that the omnipotence of Heaven...?

TRUF. Yes, son-in-law, it is really so.

PAND. The matter is settled.

AND. (_To Lelio_). By this I repay the obligation you lay me under.

LEL. (_To Mascarille_). I must embrace you ever so many times in
this great joy...

MASC. Oh! oh! gently, I beseech you; he has almost choked me. I am very
much afraid for Celia if you embrace her so forcibly. One can do very
well without such proofs of affection.

TRUF. (_To Lelio_). You know the happiness with which Heaven has
blessed me; but since the same day has caused us all to rejoice, let us
not part until it is ended, and let Leander's father also be sent for

MASC. You are all provided for. Is there not some girl who might suit
poor Mascarille? As I see, every Jack has his Gill, I also want to be

ANS. I have a wife for you.

MASC. Let us go, then; and may propitious Heaven give us children, whose
fathers we really are.

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