A LYRIC DRAMA
IN FOUR ACTS AND SCENES
ADAPTED FROM THE FAMOUS POEM OF "OWEN MEREDITH"
Copyright, 1906, By
Lord Alfred Vargrave, an English Diplomat,
John Lawrence, his Cousin and Secretary,
Eugene, Duc de Luvois, a French Nobleman,
Sir. Ridley McNab, a Scotch Financier,
Prince Weichselkopf-Bierstein, a German,
Colonel Androsky, an Austrian,
Colonel Castello, a Spaniard,
Bernard Le Sauteur, a French Guide,
Francois, a Waiter,
Baroness Badensieck, a Russian "Diplomatic Agent,"
Mrs. D'Arcy, widowed Sister of Sir Ridley,
Matilda, her Daughter, an Heiress,
Ayah, Lucille's East Indian Nurse,
LUCILLE, Comtesse de Nevers.
SYNOPSIS OF SCENES
ACT I—Casino at Serchon.
ACT II—Lucille's Chalet at Lake Oo.
ACT III—Garden at Ems.
ACT IV—Battlefield before Sebastopol.
PERIOD—Just before and during the Crimean War.
Scene - Conservatory of the Casino at Serchon just before and during the Ball described in Canto II., of the original poem "Lucille."
N.B. -- This is a sort of interior court or patio, such as is common to Southern countries, and the principal entrance from the exterior is through an ornamental Gateway at R., slightly R. U.
At C. entrance to the Ballroom, which should be raised on a platform, so that the dancers are visible in silhouette through windows.
At L., entrance to the Hotel proper. At L.L. an arbor, screened from the rest of the stage by palms and semi-tropical foliage. Cafe chairs and small table at L.C., at which are discovered
AS CURTAIN RISES
Prince Weichselkopf, with long-stemmed German pipe; Col. Androsky, with a cigar, and Col. Castello with cigarette, smoking and drinking their after dinner coffee and liqueurs, attended by Francois, a typical French Waiter.
N.B. -- the dialogue begins in a casual,"make-talk" manner, as follows:
Messieurs, it has been a most beautiful day—
The season ends well—It has been very gay—
Ach,—so?—(Puffs his pipe meditatively)
(Coach horn heard in the distance off R.)
There's the coach from Cazeaux — it is bringing, I hear,
Quite a number of guests for this time of the year.
From Bigorre by post-chaise,— likewise diligence,
There is coming a crowd to attend our last dance.
Ach,—so?—(Puffs his pipe pensively)
ENTER from L., BARONESS Badensieck — All but the Prince rise to greet her — He barely lifts his cap and smokes steadily.
Ah, BARONESS, welcome to our " kaffee-klatsch"—
Bon soir, BARONESS—
—"Bitte, nehmen Sie Platz." (Points to chair)
'Tis a "Concert of Europe" I've stumbled upon,
—A German,— an Austrian,— a Frenchman,— a Don,—
It only requires a Briton, or Russ
To create a discord and stir up a fuss.
All, Madame, we seek only peace with the ladies—
"Place aux dames," says the proverb— (Placing chair for her)
PRINCE — (sourly)
—Und dot place is Hades!
The ladies are now in their "negligee" all,
Taking naps, so their eyes will be bright for the ball;
But I, who've attained to the age of discretion,
Have nothing to care for, except my digestion.
Permit me to offer a cordial frappé,—
Still better a hot demi-tasse café—
Bah,-- "Coffee,"— a vile Oriental narcotic,
fit only for Turks and their temper despotic,—
Never offer such damnable mixtures to me,
But, if possible, garcon, bring a good cup of tea.
Ach,- tea!-- (With a grimace of disgust)
Exit Francois at L.
Tea is the bless'd herb that brightens the mind,—
Provided the brain to be brightened you find;
So it's easy to see, Prince, why you say "Ach, Himmel,"
And pickle your wits in beer, brandy and Kummel.
"When in Rome you must do as the Romans do"
Is a good old maxim that I hold true;
And so, while in France I sip my absinthe,—
Far away here from Paree, it's " bitters and sherry ".
We Russians are more cosmopolitan, far—
For we follow the customs, wherever we are;
Speak your tongues,—play your games,—ape your styles,—pay your prices,—
But never neglect our own national vices.
Permit me to offer a cigarette, then.
Do vomen in Russland smoke, den, like de men?
Yes, since German-born Catherine proved it is true
That women may do all that men do,— more, too.
Permit me, den, Madame, to lend you my pipe—
Thanks,— tobacco, like cheese, should not be over-ripe
Save for Prussians and pigs—
A hit, Prince,— now rest
And put up your rapiers, for here comes a guest.
ENTER from R., SIR RIDLEY McNAB, escorted by FRANCOIS, who is laden down with numerous bags, rugs, hat-boxes and the usual impedimenta of the travelling Briton, which he is busily counting.
CASTELLO-- (indicating SIR RIDLEY)
Behold, Baroness, your Brition is here,--
Fairly reeking with self-satisfaction,-- and beer.
From the moutain of luggage he brings in his train,
It must be a second invasion of Spain,--
Surely Wellington never had more in his van;--
He must be-- He is--
--Ein verdammt Engleeshman.
You are all "in the target"-- The bull's eye you notch,
But, unless I'm mistaken, this person is Scotch.
But look at his luggage--
I do,-- there's the rub,—
And I see not the sign of a traveller's "tub."
SIR RIDLEY-- (to FRANCOIS)
Are ye e'em sure that a' o' me luggage is here,
Me gude gillie, or "garson", is't?
SIR RIDLEY-- (doubtfully)
There's two or more missing, the best I can spier,—
Were they left in the carriage, mayhap?
Rin an' fetch them, me gude mon; but stay, are we near to Bigorry, or Searchon?
Serchon?— Oui, Monsieur.
And is this an inn where they gie ye good cheer?
—Is it hiely respectable?— (Motioning to Hotel)
Mais, OUI, Monsieur— (Grabs baggage and starts L.—Sir. R. stops him angrily)
Haud, ye dodderin' lummox— I doot ye'r a leer,—
—Or do ye make game o' me?
SIR RIDLEY— (turning to others)
Is there naeboddy here who will act as me friend,
— For yonder daft body can nae comprehend
Me language* that's plain as the nose on me face,—
'Til I'm losin' me temper, an' sperrit o' grace.
My Lord, the Queen's English I quite understand,—
—Though I may not be up to the Edinburgh brand.
Me Lady—ye flatter me gift o' the gab,—
But I'm nae "Lordship ",— jist plain SIR Ridley McNab.
Ah, Sir Ridley, your fame has preceded you here,—
For all know by name the great Scotch financier—
(SIR RIDLEY bows- She introduces the others)
Prince Weichselkopf-Bierstein I think you must know--
SIR RIDLEY-- (bowing profoundly)
His Highness I ken richt weel—
Ach, so? (With an accent of indignant surprise)
SIR RIDLEY— (yielding)
By repute, I maUn add,—as a Prince most elite,—
And I'm honored his Most Royal Highness to meet—
BARONESS-— (introducing others)
This is Colonel Androsky— This Colonel Castello,
And each one you'll find a "right royal fellow".
ANDROSKY— (offering glass)
YoU must have "a wee nip" before taking your leave—
Pray join us, Sir Ridley, in an aperatif—
SIR RIDLEY-- (yielding)
Weel, in Lunnon I teach a large Sunday-school class,—
But here there's nae harm if I tak a wee glass,—
Here's health to Your Highness,— and you, too,
Madame, I have na' I he pleasure o' knawin' yer name—
The Baroness Badensieck,-- unknown to fame,—
ADRONSKY-- (half aside)
EXcept as the queen of the diplomat's game.
Thanks, Sir Ridley,— what brings you so far from your home,—
Is it gold, or romance that tempts you to roam?
SIR RIDLEY—- (shrewdly)
Both, Your Ladyship,— but that's an unco lang story,
I'm going to meet me rich niece at Begorry—
Scotch-Irish, I judge, from your pronunciation?
Me sister, indeed, wedded one of that nation.
You speak of the rich Mrs. D'Arcy, no doubt,—
They say that her fortune's uncommonly "stout"—
Her husband's a great Dublin brewer, I hear—
SIR RIDLEY— (drily)
Aye, he doubled his doubloons by doublin' his beer.
Ah, Sir Ridley,—you're just bubbling over with fun—
I'd know he vas Scotch from dot horrible pun.
(BARONESS plies SIR RIDLEY with liquor and "pumps" him.)
SIR RIDLEY— (sanctimoniously)
"Speak nae ill o' the deid," is a rule that I mind—
Especially when they leave money behind—
An' whiles I'll nae countenance sellin' o' drink,
a man manna turn up his note at the chink
Because it is tainted; the gude mon must spear
The best way to banish the odor o' beer.
Ach, so?-- Do I den understand it is true
Der brewer left all his great fortune to you?
Not precisely, Your Highness, still in me you see
Of that richt PRINCELY fortune the humble trustee,
And guardean of Mistress Matilda—
at Bigorre she's accounted the "catch" of the year.
Aye, that's the romance that made me cross the wave,—
For she's going to marry LORD Alfred Vargrave.
Not that long haired, Byronical young diplomat?
Yah, but, as poor as a rat.
Still, Mistress Matilda has plenty, 'tis said,
To re-gild any coronet placed on her head-—
And in England the guinea that's spent by a Peer
Is freed from the auld Guinness' flavor o' beer,—-
A title's a graund disinfectant—-
She might marry higher als a Lordship, you know—
But a real English Lordship is always at par,
While there's too many SMALL German Princes, by far,—
The market of Hymen is glutted—-
Ach,— Donnervetter— (Rises and exits angrily at R.)
Don't forget the ball, Prince, when you feet a bit better.
Ah, ye've wounded His Highness-- I doot ye'll be sorry—
But, I must e'en dine, then awa' to Bigorry.
You must wait until morn for the next diligence,
So you'd better remain and attend our last dance.
SIR RIDLEY— (horrified)
Hoots,— dauncing's the Deevil's own pastime, they say,—
I maun drink, but ye'll nae lead my footsteps astray—
(Starts tipsily toward L.)
Ah, Sir Ridley, you surely would not run away
When a poor, lonely female implores you to stay?
Hoots, Madame, I doot ye're Delilah hersel',
But ye'll nae lure this Samson to daunce down to--
But, the ball is our only amusement to-night,—
If you "sit out" with me it will surely be right—
SIR RIDLY-- (yielding)
Weel, Baroness, while I hold dauncing a sin,
Nae dool it's instructive-- Mayhap I'll look in—-
Thanks, Sir Ridley--'til then I will bid you farewell—
(SIR RIDLEY, in bowing off backwards at L. collides with Eugene, Duc de Luvois, who comes dashing out at this moment)
Sacrableu-- Mille tonnerre—-
(Pushes past SIR RIDLEY)
--It's the Deevil himsel',
(Exit SIR RIDLEY hurriedly into Hotel at L.-- Others laugh)
Whither So fast, Eugene?
Parbleu, I go
Not So fast that I cannot return blow for blow.
Pray pardon our levity-— 'Twas not at you
We laughed, but the lout you almost overthrew.
He took you for Lucifer— Nay,— do not frown,
But tell us, Luvois, are you bound "up" or "down"?
(With gesture toward zenith and nadir)
I was up in the clouds, 'til that old fool I struck,—
Now I fear that he somehow has shadowed my luck.
Lovers live in the clouds, and one therefrom infers
You were flying to meet the Comtesse De Nevers ?
I'll confess to you, Baroness,— since you know all,—
I was hoping to bring the Comtesse to the ball,—
But, with all these delays, I fear I'll be late—
(Turns toward R., where enters Ayah)
Ah, here is her messenger — What is my fate?
(Ayah salaams to him in Oriental fashion, and recites)
"Tell the Duke I am coming alone— 'Tis my whim,—
But I promise the first and last waltzes to him"
So Lucille de Nevers to her servant hath said.
(Salutes the Duke again, and retires bacKward at R.)
Well, half a loaf's better by far than no bread,—
So I needs must await her in patience—
(Exits at R.)
Was there ever a mate to that lucky Luvois?
He's obtained all the gifts of the gods,— rank and wealth—
—And good looks—
--And then such inexhaustible health.
"He that hath shall have more," and this truth, I surmise,
Is the cause why to-night, by the beautiful eyes
Of la charmantte Lucille more distinguished than all,
He so gaily goes off with the Belle of the Ball.
Is it true that de Luvois will marry Lucille?
Is it likely the magnet will cling to the steel?
Yet I'm willing to wager,— whatever you choose,—
If Luvois deigns to propose, the Comtesse will refuse—
Refuse? What? A young Duke,— not thirty, my dear,
With at least half-a-million— (what is it?)— a year?
That may be, Baroness, yet I know some time since,
Castlemar was refused,— though as rich,— and a Prince.
But Luvois, who never before in his life
Was in love with a woman who was not a wife,
Is now certainly serious—
Who was her sire,
That no Prince to the hand of Lucille may aspire?
The offspring of times trouble-haunted, he came
Of a family, ruined, yet noble in name;
He lost sight of his fortune at twenty in France,
And, half-statesman, half-soldier, and wholly "free lance",
Had wandered in search of it over the world
Into India;— but scarce had the nomad unfurled
His wandering tent at Mysore, in the smile
Of a Rajah, whose court he controlled for a while,
And whose council he prompted and governed by stealth,—
Scarce, indeed, had he wedded a lady of wealth,
Who died giving birth to his daughter, before
He was borne to the tomb of his wife at Mysore.
His fortune, which fell to his orphan, perchance
Secured her a home with his sister in France,—
A lone woman,— the last of her race left,— now dead,—
And Lucille is Comtesse de Nevers in her stead.
And this swart Oriental, who seems to keep guard
O'er Lucille as if she were her OWN child and ward?
That old Indian fondled Lucille on her knee
When she left, as an orphan, far over the sea
In India, the tomb of her parents, unknown,—
To pine, a pale flow'ret, in great Paris town.
and no Genii could guard her more closely, I swear,
for the old crone appears to have eyes everywhere.
Yet mythology says, Argus one fell asleep,
And admitted a wolf where there should be but sheep—
What-- Lucille in a scandal?-- Why, I never heard
Against her reputation so much as a word,
And I wouldn't believe if I did--
Sir, you prove that all chivalry is not yet dead.
(Sound of horses' hoofbeats in distance off R.)
And is there a blot on Lucille's 'scutcheon, then?
Aha,-- women love scandal no better than men.
(Horses' hoofbeats approach, and halt on stone pavement off R. Enter at R., BERNARD LE SAUTEUR, in riding dress, carrying saddlebag.)
CASTELLO— (hailing him)
Ho, Bernard Ie Sauteur,— king of all guides,—
So gaily he sings, and so bravely he rides—
(Bernard halts at C. and salutes him)
Whose steed, besides yours, proudly tramples the pave?
Le cheval de Monsieur,— Sir Lord Alfred Vargrave-—
(Exit at L.)
Aha— Enter the Hero,— hot-foot from "Bigorry",
And bringing the sequel, perchance, to my story.
Lord Alfred the hero? Then, unless my wit errs,
He knows more than we do of Lucille de Nevers?
His secret's his own— I'm sure I'll not blab—
Pshaw,—Of course he rides here to meet Ridley McNab.
It may be,—and yet, in the tale I was told,
Lucille and this Lordling were sweethearts of old—
(Sound of viols tuning in ball room C.)
But, a truce to our gossip— The dancing begins,—
I must see that Sir Ridley adds one to his sins—
(Goes up C, eluding ANDROSKY'S curiosity)
Nay,—that's all the hint you will get out of me,—
But, keep your eyes open, and see,— what you see—
(Exit at C.)
She's a wicked old viper, who darts out her tongue
At all fair reputations—
(Going up C. with ANDROSKY)
Nous verrons— Nous verrons.
(Exeunt at C.)
Pause, during which String Orchestra up C. begins in slow waltz tempo, the old song: " Here's a health
Enter from R., LORD ALFRED VARGRAVE, in travelling costume-- He comes moodily down C., evidently in deep meditation-- Enter from L., BERNARD, who meets ALFRED at L.C.
Lord Alfred, I've secured you the best room of all;
Will yon dine now, Milord, or first dress for the ball?
ALFRED-- (awakening from his reverie)
No,-- deliver this note to the lady addressed;
Until you return I will wait here and rest.
(ALFRED sits at table L.L.— Bernard serves wine, and exits at R.)
ALFRED-- (filling a glass)
Allons, "Fill up the cup"-- but "Many's the slip"
Hath the proverb well said, "Twixt the cup and the lip."
How blest we should be, have I often conceived,
Had we really achieved what we nearly achieved;
We but catch at the skirts of the thing we would be,
And fall back on the lap of a false destiny;
So it will be,-- so it has been,-- since this world began,
for the happiest, noblest, and best part of ma
Is the part that he never has fully played out,--
For the first and last word in life's volume is— "DOUBT"-- (raises his glass and drinks slowly)
The man who seeks one thing in life, and but one,
May hope to achieve it before life be done;
But he whos seeks all things, wherever he goes,
Only reaps from the hopes which around him he sows
A harvest of barren regrets— (Spills the lees from his glass)
(Enter from R. FRANCOIS)
Monsieur Lawrence inquires if Lord Vargrave is here?
Admit him at once—- my dear cousin John—-
(Exit FRANCOIS R.)
I wonder why he's followed me to Serchon
When I thought I'd so cleverly stolen away
And left him to guard my fair young fiancee—
(Enter from R. JOHN LAWRENCE in riding dress-— Lively music.)
A fool, Alfred,— a fool,— a most motley fool—
The man who puts friendship his pleasure above
To travel about with a woman in love,—
Unless she's in love with, himself.
Are you here then, dear Jack?
Can't you guess?
Be assured that I did not come for myself.
Who sent you?
That imperious, golden-haired elf,
Your Will-o'-the-Wisp, who has led you and me
Such a dance through the hills-—
A;FRED-- (mildly interested)
Of course,-- who but she could contrive so to keep
One's eyes, and one' feet, too, from falling asleep
For even one hour of the long twenty-four?
What's the matter, that you should make such an uproar?
"The matter?" Why you scarcely an hour had been gone
When Mnatilda's demands "WHY you went to Serchon?"
"Well,"-- fearing that some of your secrets I'd blab,
I PRESUMED that you came to meet Ridley McNab,
Who would stop here to-night on his journey—
So Matilda decided that I must take horse
To tell Uncle Ridley she comes by post-chaise
As soon as she dons her best ball-gown; the case
Wholly passes my patience.
My own is worse tried.
ALFRED— (handing him letter)
Read this, if you doubt, and decide.
JOHN-- (reading letter)
"I hear from Bigorre you are there. I am told
You are going to marry Miss D'Arcy.-- Of old"
—What is this?
Read it on to the end, and you'll know.
"When we parted your last words recorded a vow,—
—What you will"—
(Sniffs at the letter suspiciously)
—Hang it, this smells all over, I swear,
Of adventures and violets; was it your hair
You promised a lock of?
Read on,— you'll discern.
"Those letters I ask you, my Lord, to return"—
Humph-- letters-- the matter is worse than I guessed,—-
I have my misgivings.
(Looks keenly at Alfred)
Well, read out the rest,
And advise.-- (Sips wine with show of nonchalance)
Eh, where was I?-- (reading)-- "Miss D'Arcy, perchance,
Will forego one brief page of the summer romance
Of her courtship"-- (breaks off suddenly)
Egad, a romance, for my part,
I'd forego every page of, and not break my heart.
"And spare you one day from your place
At her feet"-— Pray forgive me the passing grimace,
The lady means MY place-- "I trust you will feel
I desire nothing much. Your friend,"-- (bless me)—
The Comtesse de Nevers?
What will you do?
You ask me just what I would rather ask you.
You can't see her—
And Matilda ?
You must manage.
—Must I?— I decline it though,— FLAT.
(Rises and paces up and down impatiently before resuming)
In an hour the horses will be at this door,
And Matilda and "Mamma" will be here before
You have half "broken off with the old love," my boy,—
Then farewell to your prospects of marital joy.
Hush— Hush— This is serious—
You must think—
What excuse can you make, tho'?
Mrs. D'Arcy that— Lend me your wits, Jack—
Can't you stretch out your fancy to fit a friend's use?
Excuses are clothes which, when asked unawares,
Good Breeding to Naked Necessity spares,—
You must have a whole wardrobe, no doubt—
My dear fellow,
Matilda, is jealous, you know, as Othello.
I am serious.— Why see this "Lucille"?
Jack, what gentleman could disregard that appeal?
(Takes letter tenderly)
Will you go to her house?
Yes, I will—
JOHN— (checking him)
One word,— stay—
Are you really in love with Matilda?— (This earnestly)
What a question— Of course.
(N.B.— In the dramatic development of the story, John is hopelessly in love with Matilda, but remains loyal to his cousin, Alfred.)
Were you really in love
With Madame de Nevers?
—What, Lucille?— No, by Jove, Never REALLY— (This last in a rather doubtful tone)
At least, so she was some ten summers ago.
Women change so—
—And, unless rumor errs,
I believe that last year the Comtesse de Nevers
Was at Baden the rage— held an absolute court
Of devoted admirers, and really made sport
Of her subjects—
JOHN— (in tantalizing tone)
—When she broke off with you
Her engagement, her heart did not break with it, too.
Pray, would you have had her dress always in black,
And shut herself up in a convent, dear Jack?
Besides, 'twas my fault the engagement was broken.
Most likely-- How was it?
(Lights cigar and smokes)
She bored me-- I showed it-- She saw it-— What next?
She reproached— I retorted-- Of course she was vexed;
I was vexed that that she was so-- She sulked— So did I—
If I asked her to sing, she looked ready to cry;
She said I had no heart; I said SHE had no reason;
I swore she talked nonsense-- she sobbed I talked treason;
In short, my dear fellow, 'twas time, you'll agree,
Things were brought to a climax and finish—
So, when to that crisis the matter was brought,
She released me— I lingered, but lingered, she thought
With too sullen an aspect;-- this gave me, of course,
The occasion to fly in a rage,— mount my horse,—
And to "Leave her forever"-- You know the phrase,Jack,--
So we parted.-- (relapses into a reverie)
JOHN-- (after a pause)
--You are really resolved to go back?
JOHN-- (in warning tone)
--To that worst of all places,— the Past.
You remember Lot’s wife?
'Twas a promise when last
We parted.—My honor is pledged to it.
What is it you wish me to do?
—You must tell
Sir Ridley I meant to have called— with his ward—
—To explain— But, that time was so pressing—
JOHN— (bowing extravagantly)
"Your Lordship's obedient"— I really can't lie so.
You wish, then, to break off my marriage?
But, indeed, I can't see why yourself you need take
Not see?— Would you have me, then, break A promise my honor is pledged to?
JOHN— (humming an air)
"And away, said the stranger"—
Oh, good— So, you scoff.
At what, my dear Alfred?
At all things—
Yes, I see that your heart is as dry as a reed;
At Honor you jest-- You are cold as a stone.
To the promptings of friendship— Belief you have none--
The blood of our kinship is curdled to gall,—
Heartless,-- cold,-- unconcerned--
(Turns away petulantly)
Have you done?— Is that all?
Well then, listen to me; I presume when you made
Up your mind to propose to Miss D'Arcy you weighed
All the drawbacks against the equivalent gains,
Ere you finally settled the point.— What remains
But to stick to your choice?-- You want money?— "Tis here;
A settled position?-- 'Tis yours.— A career?
You secure it.-- A wife, young and pretty as rich,—
Whom all men will envy you.— Why must you itch
To he running away on the eve of all this
For a woman whom never for once did you miss
All those years since you left her?—
(Pauses for reply)
(ALFRED remaining silent,JOHN resumes)
Who knows what may hap?
That letter, to me, is a palpable trap— (Taps letter)
But there’s nothing to risk-- You exaggerate, Jack—-
You're afraid-- In an hour at the most I'll be back.
Ay, but how?— Discontented— unsettled— upset—
Bearing with you a comfortless twinge of regret,—
Preoccupied,— sulky,— and likely enough
To make your betrothed break all off in a huff.
"An hour," you say?— But in one hour who knows
What may happen.— I don't,— nor do you, I suppose. (Enter BERNARD at R., bearing billet-doux, which he gives ALFRED.)
Botheration— the lady will be here to-night—
Aha,— "the plot thickens"—
Don't be impolite—
Is that any way an old comrade to treat?
I can scent a fine scene if those two ladies meet.
You must keep them apart— Meet Matilda outside—
Persuade her to rest a bit after her ride;
Stop the post-chaise around at the opposite door,
And don't let her Mother come in here before
I have seen and conversed with Lucille. (Crosses L.)
Commissions, my Lord?— I'll be going before
You think of one harder—
(Starts toward R. stealthily)
(N. B.—ALFRED forgets JOHN for the moment, and crosses toward L. where he meets BERNARD – then turns and catches JOHN at the door R.)
Jack is right, after all—
The coquette—(snaps Lucille’s note contemptuously)
Does Milord mean to go to the ball?
"The ball" you say, Bernard?-- Perhaps,— I don't know--
You may save me a ticket in case I should go—
(Exit BERNARD L.)
I shall need one for Jack,— where are you?
(Turns quickly and catches JOHN just sneaking off at R.)
Just taking a characteristic French “adieu.”
(Turns and starts to bow out backward)
(Enter from R., the DUC DE LUVOIS, with whom JOHN collides.)
Ventre Sante Gris—Sacre mille tonnerre—
Is the place full of Englishmen?
JOHN—(turning to LUVOIS)
(With exaggerated English accent)— Pardon Mounsair—
(Bows around LUVOIS, and then dodges out of door R.)
Luvois—(watching JOHN off)
Beyond doubt he is crazy— (turns to ALFRED)
Monsieur, for my friend's
Inadroitness permit me to offer amends— (Offers wine)
Nay, I'll not drink to-night— But I see, sir, you are
A smoker.— Allow me— (Extends his hand)
ALFRED—(offering cigar case)
Pray take a cigar.
LUVOIS— (taking cigar)
Many thanks— Such cigars are a luxury here—
A match?— (Accepts match and lights cigar)
Yes, you'll find few to match them, I fear,
This side of Havana.— (Lights cigar himself)
You stay at Serchon?
—An hour or so only.
The season is done.
(N. B.— At first this is simply "make-talk" between strangers)—
LUVOIS— (lightly )
‘Twas shorter this year than the last—
Folly soon wears her shoes out—she dances so fast!—
We are all of us tired.
--You know the place well?
I have been here two seasons—
--Pray, who is the Belle
Of the Baths at this moment?
—The same who has been
The belle of all places in which she is seen,—
The bells of all Paris last season; last Spring
The belle of all Baden—
—An uncommon thing.
Sir, an uncommon beauty— I rather should say,—
An uncommon character.— Truly, each day
One meets women whose beauty is equal to hers,
But none with the charm of Lucille de Nevers.
Madame de Nevers?
Do you know her?
Or, at least, I did know her a long time ago,—
I almost forget—
-—What wit— What a grace
In her language her gestures— What play in her face--
And yet what a sadness she seems to conceal. (Wistfully)
You speak like a lover--
I speak as I feel,--
But not like a "lover."—What interests me so
In Lucille,-- at the same time forbids me, you know,
To give to that feeling, what whate’er the sensation,
The name we men give to an hour’s admiration,--
A night’s passing fancy— an actress’s eyes,--
A dancing girl's ankles— A fair lady’s sighs.
I quite comprehend; but this sadness,-- this shade
Which you speak of?
LUVOIS—(glances at him suspiciously)
--I beg you, sir, don’t be afraid
To enlighten a friend, who but seeks information.
I have heard that an Englishman,-- one of your nation
I presume,-- and, if so, I must beg you, indeed,
To excuse the contempt which I-- (Pauses defiantly)
Pray, sire, proceed
With your tale— My compatriot-- what was his crime?
Oh, nothing.— His folly was not so sublime
As to merit that term. If I blamed him just now
It was not for the sin, but the silliness—
I own I hate Botany— Still, I admit,
Although I myself have no liking for it,
And do not understand,— still I cannot despise
The cold man of science, who walks with his eyes
All alert through a garden of flowers, and strips
The lilies' gold tongues and the roses' red lips
With a ruthless dissection; since he, I suppose,
Has some purpose beyond the mere mischief he does—
(Pauses and regards ALFRED defiantly)
But the stupid and mischievous boy, who uproots
The exotics, and tramples the tender young shoots
For a boy's brutal pastime, and merely because
He knows no distinction 'twixt heart's-ease and haws,—
I would like, for the sake of each nursling so nipped,
To catch the young rascal, and see him well WHIPPED.
ALFRED— (with forced calmness)
Some compatriot of mine, then, do I understand,
With a cold Northern heart, and a rude English hand,
Has injured your Rosebud of France?
Sir, I know
But little, or nothing;— yet some faces show
The last act of a tragedy in their regard,—
Though the first scenes be wanting, yet it is not hard
To divine, more or less, what the plot may have been,
And what sort of actors have passed o'er the scene.
And whenever I gaze on the face of Lucille,
With its pensive and passionless languor, I feel
That some fire has burnt there,— burnt out and burnt up
Health and hope.— So you feel when you gaze in the cup
Of extinguished volcanoes;— you judge of the fire
Once there by the ravage you see.
(Breaks off abruptly, and while mastering his feeling, regards ALFRED, who has fallen into a deep reverie.)
—But I tire you.
—I see you have finished at last your cigar,—
May I offer another?
(Extends cigar-case to LUVOIS)
LUVOIS— (waving it away)
(Listening off R.) —No, thanks. —From afar
I think I hear sounds of the rumbling of wheels,—
It must be a carriage— It may be Lucille's—
(Exits quickly at R.— ALFRED watches him off)
The fellow's a Frenchman,— and yet not a sinner,—
If he loves Lucille so much,— Ah, well— let him win her.
—Perhaps it were better to see her no more—
(Picks up note from floor, where he has cast it, and reads)
"Your last letter reached me too late from Bigorre—
This evening,— alas,— I must go to the ball,
And shall not be at home 'til too late for your call;
But to-morrowj at any rate, sans faute, at One,
You will find me at home, and will find me alone.
Meanwhile, let me thank you sincerely, milord,
For the honor with which you redeem your last word—
Yes,— I thank you, Lord Alfred.— To-morrow, then L."
(ALFRED pauses for a moment, then resolutely)
—I WILL see her once more,— just to bid her "Farewell".
(Exits slowly at L., to last strains of "Farewell" Waltz.)
(On his exit, music changes abruptly to "Varsovienne.")
(JOHN appears at R., trying to block the way against MATILDA, who dodges under his arm, and runs down C, laughing at him)
But you CAN'T enter this way—
I'm already in—
LADIES do not come in here—
Why,— where is the sin?
Well,— you see, it's a sort of smoking bazaar—
Oh, I just love the odor of Alfred's cigar—
(Sniffs the scent, which leads her directly toward arbor at L., where JOHN has reason to believe that ALFRED is in hiding. Accordingly JOHN hastens to get ahead of her, and prevent her from seeing behind the screen,—which increases her curiosity correspondingly,— until both discover that there is nothing to conceal.)
This is serious, Matilda,— I beg you, don't joke—
You're a fine sort of soldier, to flinch at mere smoke—
How can you face powder?—
(Presses closely to JACK, in an attempt to see what he is hiding— Having satisfied himself with a swift glance that ALFRED is not there, JOHN suddenly betrays his own love for MATILDA in a temptation to kiss her)
You'd see, never fear,—
If you were not Alfred's—
(MATILDA looks up at him, defiantly, as if daring him— Enter at R., MRS. D'ARCY,— who observes the situation)
MRS. D'ARCY— (mildly)
Matilda, my dear,—
Now don't be after teasin' your dear Cousin John,
Who so kindly escorted us here to Serchon
After Alfred deserted—
(Comes C.—MATILDA runs to her)
MATILDA—(with mock indignation)
—And what does Jack do
But grossly insult me.—
(Glares at Jack, who is taken aback)
—Madame, that's not true.
Mamma, I declare to you,— I almost fainted,—
When he actually dared to suggest that I'm PAINTED.
(JOHN and MRS. D'ARCY are both evidently relieved at this— MRS. D'ARCY pats MATILDA's cheek, proudly, as she says—)
Her complexion's her own—'Tis the rich Irish blood
Under snow-drifts o' Scotland that makes her sae rud—
--I merely suggested that she should apply
Some powder to lessen it—
MATILDA—(aside to JOHN)
Oh, what a lie—
And after your ride, don't you think you had best
Retire to your rooms?
Now he hints we aren't DRESSED.
MRS. D'ARCY— (misunderstanding)
"Not dressed," did he say?
(Glares at JOHN to his confusion)
No, Madame,— not at all—
I merely wished you to look well at the ball.
(MATILDA throws off travelling cloak, disclosing ball-dress)
Behold, Monsieur Milliner— How is my waist?
Are my skirt and my bodice cut quite to your taste?
Can you even suggest that I alter a seam
Of this Paris creation?— (Curtseys to him)
—No, by Jove,—you're a dream.
Yes, me darlin', you certainly look very nice—
But I think I will take Cousin Jack's kind advice—
(Crosses toward L., mopping her rather red face)
And until you return, it will give us a chance—
If Matilda is willing,— to have just one dance—
MRS. D'ARCY— (benignantly)
Just this wan,— but no more, or else people may say
You are dancing too much with Milord's fiancee.
(MRS. D'ARCY crosses L.L.— MATILDA takes JOHN's arm and starts up C.—Enter at L., BARONESS, BADENSIEK, ANDROSKY and CASTELLO)
So, it seems, sir, that ladies DO come to this place—
All places are proper that YOU deign to grace—
(Exeunt JOHN and MATILDA at C., she smiling on him kindly— BARONESS et al. watch them off,— not seeing MRS. D'ARCY at L.L.)
There goes the Miss D'Arcy who has so much pelf—
But, I judge that young man values her for herself.
That's John Lawrence,— the cousin of Alfred Vargrave—
Well, Milord should look sharp if he wishes to save
His betrothed and her dowry— I hear from Bigorre—
(Suddenly sees MRS. D'ARCY, and changes her tone)
Why, my dear Mrs. D'Arcy— Didn't see you before—
(BARONESS greets MRS. D'ARCY effusively, but she is not responsive— Men cross R., light cigarettes, and watch them smilingly)
So, you've come to our ball?— Well, this is a surprise—
That's your daughter,— I know by the beautiful eyes
And the fine, arching brows she inherits from you—
--No, her father— his eyes were the rare Irish blue—
(MRS. D’ARCY whispers confidentially to BARONESS)
ANDRODKY— (aside to CASTELLO)
She's caught her already— (indicating BARONESS)
BARONESS— (to MRS. D’ARCY)
—Beg' pardon,— speak louder.
MRS. D’ARCY— (in a loud whisper)
Could ye lind me the loan of a little pearl powdher?
Surely,— Go to my room— it is not very far— (Points off L.)
And is furnished with all the "munitions of war."
(Exit MRS. D’ARCY at L.— ANDROSKY and CASTELLO return to their chairs)
CASTELLO— (banteringly to BARONESS)
Talking treason and warfare?— That's not woman's work—
Of course you're conspiring against the poor Turk—
'Tis the fault of that air that the orchestras play,—
Wherever I go, it seems plainly too say:—
(Pauses to catch measure of the music played off, then hums)
Some day the White Czar will make you topple"—
Ah, but that will not happen for many a year.
But 'twill come in good time, my dear sir,— never fear—
'Twas predicted by Peter the Great— (This dramatically)
Ah, the Czar
Has more practical sense than the Sultan, by far;
For the "Sick Man,” shuts his women in a hareem,—
While the Czar makes them push his political scheme.
A truce to your tiresome political lore,—
For here comes the goddess, whose birth at Mysore
Makes sacred that city of India— Ma foi.
FRANCOIS-- (announcing at R.)
La Comlesse de Nevers, et le Due de Luvois.
Just previous to the announcement, dancers come trooping from C. as if at the conclusion of the dance, and group up stage, fanning and chatting—
LORD ALFRED, now in evening dress, enters from L., and takes his place unobtrusively in the arbor at L.L., where he can observe all that passes on the stage unseen by the others-- Last of the dancers, JOHN and MATILDA appear, and stand at C.
Enter at R., LUCILLE, escorted by LUVOIS, and attended by ATAH-- All greet her as she comes down C., smiling and bowing-- Just as she reaches C., ALFRED sees and recognizes her with a start,— and although she does not see him,-- she stops suddenly, and seems to be listening to the music of the waltz, played off— LUVOIS follows her jealously, and interrupts her reverie.
LUVOIS— (to LUCILLE)
Our waltz is beginning— After so many pains
To secure it, I can't forego one of its strains— (Offering his arm)
The time for our first waltz must long since be past,—
But, since I have promised,— "The first shall be last."
(Declines LUVOIS' proffered arm, and turns to Baroness)
Ah, Belle Comtesse, I hope there's no double entendre
Concealed in your words,— which bring the reminder
That an old friend of yours has come many a verst
Just to see you to-night—
(Pauses— then with pointed emphasis)
—Will "the last" then be "first"?
Ah, who knows, Baronessa?— Old friends are so few,
And so seldom return quite unchanged to our view,
Whether meeting again will bring pleasure or pain?
—You must tell me much more,— or you ask me in vain.
"Mirable dictu"— This remarkable dame
Has not even yet, Messieurs, asked for his name—
She can't be a woman—
My sex, then, to save,—
Pray tell me who is he?
LORD ALFRED VARGRAVE.
LUCILLE-- (with forced, composure)
Ah, an old friend, indeed; why, for fully ten years
I've not seen or heard of him.— So it appears
This world's not so wide or so long, after all.
(Looks about, as if dismissing the subject)
But everyone seems to be missing the ball.
(LUCILE takes the arm of LUVOIS and goes up C., meetmg MATILDA, who gives way jealously-- Exeunt omnes, except JOHN and MATILDA— ALFRED remains in concealment, andf falls into a reverie)
Jack,-- who is that woman?— (Pointing after LUCILLE)
JOHN-- (affecting innocence)
--The Comtesse de Nevers—
And she DARES call MY Alfred "an old friend of hers"?
If she says so, Matilda, quite likely it's true,—
You will grant that he's sundry years older than you,
And of female acquaintances must have a few
Who are not quite a hundred—
Jack,— that will do.
(Crosses down L.) (JOHN who has discovered ALFRED's presence, heads her off quickly)
I beg pardon Matilda,— but here is our chance
Before Mamma returns, to snatch just one more dance.
I'll not dance with you, Jack, 'til your manners you mend—
Mamma said "but one dance",—so that is the end,—
I'll not disobey her.—
(Looks wistfully toward ball room— Then turns to JOHN)—
—But your arm you may lend—
I want to see more of my Alfred's "old friend"—
(MATILDA leads JOHN off C, the latter lagging slightly behind— At the door he turns and gives a signal, which startles ALFRED who has been entirely oblivious of the preceding short scene— ALFRED arouses himself from his reverie and emerges from L.L.)
JOHN— (in a hoarse whisper, as he exits)
AROUSE YOURSELF, ALFRED—
ALFRFRED— (as if awakening)
—-Do I dream?— Is this real?
I invoke the dim ghost of that pallid Lucille
Whom I loved in my youth, and deemed long-since dead,—
But a goddess incarnate arises instead
From the ashes of memory— (Stands as if dazed)
(Enter Ayah from R., and crosses up C.— Alfred recognizes her)
—Ah, the old dame,
Whose teeth and whose eyes used to beam when I came
With a boy's eager step, in the blithe days of yore,
To pass, unannounced, her young mistress's door.
(Calls loudly just as she is about to exit)—Ayah—
(AYAH stops, turns quickly, stares at him a moment,-- then recognizing him, comes down, and salaams to him at first, then grasps his outstretched hand and puts it to her forehead)
Lord Alfred Sahib!— I should say—"Monsieur"—
Your mistress expects me— Say I'll wait for her here—
(AYAH sallasms, and exits at C.— ALFRED stands pensively)
Good heavens, I never conceived that Lucille
Could have looked so enchanting; I'm tempted to kneel
At her feet., and her pardon with passion implore—
(LUCILLE appears at door C., and regards him with, emotion— But when he turns and, seeing her, seems about to kneel to her, she smiles and extends her hand in conventional society style.)
Ah, Lord-- I hope our ball isn't a bore—
Madam, I'll not impose on you long, be assured;—
You see that your latest command has secured
My immediate obedience—
(Bows and hands her package of letters)
—Presuming I may
Consider my freedom restored from this day.
LUCILLE— (rallying him gently)
I had thought, my Lord Vargrave,— Pray don't look so sad,—
That your freedom from me not a fetter has had—-
Indeed,—in my chains have you rested 'til now?
I had not so flattered myself, I avow. (Laughs wistfully)
For Heaven's sake, Madam,—in the name of the past,
Do not jest.— Has the moment no sadness, at last?
(Pauses a moment and listens to Waltz off C.)
Does our old waltz, so plaintively throbbing the air,
Bring you no recollection of what you wrote there?
‘Tis an ancient tradition, Lord Vargrave,— a tale
Often told;— a position too sure to prevail
At the end of all legends of love.— If we wrote
When we first loved, foreseeing the hour,— then remote,—
Wherein of necessity each would recall
From the other the poor, foolish records of all
Those emotions, whose pain, when recorded, seemed bliss,—
Would we write as we wrote?-- But we think not of this
At Twenty-- (Who does not at Twenty)— we write,
Believing eternal the frail vows we plight;
And we smile, with a confident pity, above
The vulgar results of all poor, human love;
For we deem, with that vanity common to youth,
Because what we feel in our bosoms, in truth,
Is novel to us, that 'tis novel to earth,
And will prove the exception, in durance and worth
To the great law to which all on earth must incline—
LUCILLE-- (concluding tenderly)
The error was noble-- the vanity fine—
Shall we blame it because we survive it? —Ah, no—
‘Twas the youth of our youth, my lord,— Is it not so?
ALFRED— (as if improvising)
“Ah, the love of our youth— In the youth of our love—
When we loved all in truth, and in truth treasure trove;
Though far we may rove, 'midst sorrow and ruth,
We never can sever the love of our youth."
You know well enough, my dear Alfred,— or what
I would say is,-- you yet recollect, do you not,
LORD Alfred, enough of my nature to know
That these pledges of what was, perhaps, long ago
A foolish affection,-- I do not recall
From those motives of prudence which actuate all,—
Or MOST women when their love ceases.— Indeed,
If you have such a doubt, to dispel it I need
But remind you that ten years these letters have rested
Unreclaimed in your hands.
You are generous, Madame.
LULLILE— (with affected gayety)
—Nay,— I but jested.
Do not think I abuse the occasion.— We gain
Justice— judgment with years,—or else years are in vain.
—From me not a single reproach will you hear.—
I have sinned to myself,— to the world,— Nay, I fear,
To you chiefly. The woman who loves should, indeed,
Be the friend of the man that she loves; she should heed
Not her selfish and often mistaken desires,—
But his interest whose fate her own interest inspires.
And rather than seek to allure for her sake,
His life down the turbulent, fanciful wake
Of impossible destinies,— should use all her art
That his place in the world find its place in her heart.
I, alas,— I perceived not this truth 'till too late;
I tormented your youth— I have darkened your fate,—
—Forgive me the evil I did, for the sake
Of its long expiation—
(Holds out her hand impulsively)
(ALFRED clasps her hand and draws her to him unresistingly)
(Enter at C, AYAH, who whispers in a warning tone)
—The Due de Luvois seeks you here—
Him a moment or so, my good Ayah;— Explain
I have business of private importance—
(As Ayah turns to go, she adds)
Bring that packet of letters.
(Turns to Alfred again)
Let not ME interfere
With his claims on your time, Lady; when you are free
From more pleasant engagements, allow me to see
And to wait on you later,
LUCILLE— (to AYAH)
Tell the Duke I'll return,
As soon as this packet of letters I burn.
(Exit LUCILLE haughtily at L.— AYAH exits at C. simultaneously)
Curse the luck!—If only my tongue could command,
I might still be pressing that delicate hand,
In the hope that its fluttering pulse would reveal
If I still have a place in the heart of Lucille?
The hand of a woman is often in youth
Somewhat red, somewhat rough,— somewhat graceless, in truth;
Does its beauty refine as its pulses grow calm,—
After Sorrow has crossed the life-line in the palm?
(Turns and paces impatiently down L.)
Pshaw,— that is all over— She will marry Luvois,—
And I must look out for my Mamma-in-law,
Who barters her daughter in return for my title—
Poor Matilda,— your welfare to us is not vital.
(ALFRED wanders into arbor and resumes his seat pensively— Enter from L., LUCILLE, followed closely by the DUC DE LUVOIS— As ALFRED hears them, he seeks a way of escape,— but finding none, is forced to remain an involuntary eavesdropper during the scene)
—Duke,—I don't understand—
(Seeking to escape from him)
—Ah, forgive.—This whole week
I have seen you pale, silent,— preoccupied;— Speak,--
Speak, Lucille, and forgive me.— I know that I am
A rash fool,— but I love you— I love you, Madame,
More than language can tell.— Do not deem, O Lucille,
That the love I no longer have strength to conceal
Is a passing caprice;— it is strange to my nature,
And has made me, unknown to myself, a new creature.
I implore you to sanction and save the new life,—
Which I lay at your feet, with this prayer: "Be my wife!"
(Kneels at LUCILLE's feet)
—I intended to tell you, before you had spoken—
That I have no heart left,-- to be bartered, or broken—
Nay,-- I know it, Lucille— But whatever your heart
May have suffered of yore, it can only impart
A pity profound to the love which I feel—
Hush-- Hush— I know all— Tell me nothing, Lucille.
You know all, did you say? Well, then, know that, in truth
I have learned from the rude lesson taught in my youth,
From my own heart to shelter my life; to mistrust
The heart of another!— We are what we must,
And not what we would be! I know that one hour
Assures not another!— The will and the power
(Stops abruptly, as if to conceal real feeling)
-—Ah, Lucille, in that answer you fence
With a passion you know to be true and intense!
‘Tis not my life, Lucille, that I plead for alone,
If your nature I know, 'tis no less for your own!
(Then proudly,— yet appealingly)
I offer you, Comtesse, a name not unknown,—
A fortune, which worthless without you has grown,—
All my life and my future I lay at your feet,—
With a heart which for you, and you only can beat!
(Bows humbly before her)
LUCILLE— (deeply moved)
That heart, Duke,— that life,— I respect both; that name
And position you offer,— and all that you claim
In behalf of their nobler employment, I feel
To deserve what, in turn, I now ask you—
I ask you to leave me—
—You do not reject?
I ask you to leave me the time to reflect.
You demand, then—
—The time to reflect.
(LUVOIS starts to go, then turns to her imploringly)
Say one word—
May I hope?
—What is sadder than fond hope deferred?
(LUVOIS hisses her hand gallantly, then exits slowly at R.— LUCILLE stands watching him wistfully, then turns to see ALFRED, who emerges from the arbor at L.L., and comes C.)
It was not my fault-- I have heard all he said—
Now the letters,-- and farewell, Lucille!— When you wed
Ah, may you be happy!
--Perhaps this farewell
Is our last, Alfred Vargrave, in life— Who can tell?
Let us part without bitterness.— Here are your letters—
(Hands him packet, which she has concealed from LUVOIS)
--Be assured,I retain you no more in my fetters.
They are fetters that I would be glad to resume,—
If you were not bound elsewhere— (looks after LUVOIS)
(Then appealingly to her)-- Still, may I presume
To request just one dance-- That old waltz— 'tis our last,
(Strains of the "Lucille" waltz swell louder and louder)
‘Twas promised another—
--For the sake of the past?
(LUCILLE, as if hypnotized by that music of tender memory, gives ALFRED her hand, and he leads her slowly up to C.— Enter LUVOIS at R., just in time to see them exeunt at C.)
LUVOIS—(calling to her)
—Madame de Nevers— Belle Comtessa— LUCILLE—
(As she goes)
Sacre!—Who is the scoundrel that's trying to steal
My waltz with the belle of the ball?— He's too bold!
I'll follow and forcibly claim her— (Starts up C.)
(Then stops suddenly at the thought)—
There's only ONE man who could keep us apart,—
And that is the man who has broken her heart!
His name?— And I'll send him a challenge to-night—
Surely even a cold-blooded Briton would fight
For the heart and hand of Lucille—
(Starts up C. angrily)
Enter JOHN and MATILDA at C, just in time to block LUVOIS)
LUVOIS— (addressing JOHN)
But the greatest of favors on me you'll confer
If you'll tell me the name of the man waltzing there
With the lady in white—
(Points off C. into ball room)
(JOHN glances in the direction indicated, then draws back)
Beg pardong, Mounsair,— But my eyes are not strong— I don't see very well—
MATILDA—(trying to see)
Just let me take a look, and perhaps I can tell — (LUVOIS makes way for her, but JOHN drags her away)
No, my dear, I am sure you don't know him at all.
(LUVOIS gives him an angry glance, and exits at C.)
MATILDA-- (angrily, to JOHN)
Then why, sir, are you keeping me from the ball?
(JOHN badly embarrassed, cannot reply.)
Jack, your conduct has been most annoying tonight!
Where is Alfred,— and why does he keep out of sight?
I presume he's conferring with Ridley McNab
About marriage settlements— Trying to grab
The bulk of your fortune as dowry—
(Stops as he sees enter from, L., SIR RIDLEY, MRS. D’ARCY and the BARONESS— MATILDA is facing to right, so does not see them at first)
Stop, Jack! You slander your cousin and chief to his back!
(MATILDA crosses angrily to R.— JOHN turns up C. forlornly—BARONESS and MRS. D'ARCY come down C. discussing SIR RIDLEY)
Did you ever observe such an obstinate man?
I can't get him to dance,— 'though I'm certain he can.
MRS. D’ARCY— (mischievously)
Sure, I mind whin he danced wid as nimble a heel
As any braw lad in the auld Scottish reel—
(MATILDA turns, and seeing SIR RIDLEY, rushes to him at C.)
Ah, Uncle— (kisses him)— Where's Alfred?
—I dinna ken, dear,—
I hae nae laid eyes on him.— Is he e'en here?
Jack said he was with you—
(Looks around at JOHN)
(Crossing down R.C.)
—I said I SURMISED
If a slanderer lied, I should not be surprised—
(MATILDA, on the verge of tears, crosses to MRS. D’ARCY at L.C.— SIR RIDLEY crosses R.C., and shakes hands perfunctorily with JOHN— BARONESS up C. looks critically on the strained situation— At this moment a commotion breaks out in the ball room up C.— Dancers come pouring out in great excitement and group about door— Enter ALFRED [to L.] and CASTELLO [to R.] supporting LUCILLE)
The Comtesse is fainting— stand back— give her air—
(Lucille is led slowly down C., and recovers herself partly.)
It is nothing— I found it so stifling in there—
(MATILDA turns to see LUCILLE in ALFRED's arms—- Simultaneously enter at C. LUVOIS, angrily, and ANDROSKY restraining him)
That Woman— and Alfred?
MRS. D’ARCY— (indignantly)
—Well, I do declare!
ANDROSKY— (aside to LUVOIS)
Be quiet— He's engaged to that girl over there—
(BARONESS, with smelling-salts, and SIR RIDLEY, with pocket-flask, which he slyly produces from his pocket, hurry to LUCILLE at C.)
Let me gie her some brandy— A wee bit o' peg—
(MRS. D’ARCY and MATILDA start as if to reprove him, but JOHN, who has crossed above C., checks them imperiously if quietly)
JOHN—(aside to women)
Mrs. D’Arcy— Matilda— be silent, I beg.
(BARONESS brushes ALFRED aside, and ministers to LUCILLE— as ALFRED turns L., he meets MATILDA face to face)
Oh, Alfred— how could you?
—(Falls into his arms sobbing)
—His sweetheart—I see
(Then recovering herself with an effort and smiling)
—Good people, I beg you, don't trouble with me—
—I'm right as a trivet—
(Turns and totters toward R.)
(LUVOIS, who has crossed down R., meets her angrily)
Could Lucille de Nevers
Forget for that last waltz WHICH partner was hers?
Ah, Eugene, your forgiveness most humbly I crave,—
—It was really my "last" with Lord Alfred Vargrave—
(Turns, as if introducing LUVOIS to ALFRED, who has turned MATILDA over to her mother, and followed LUCILLE to L.C.— The two men bow coldly to each other on either side of LUCILLE)
LUCILLE— (impulsively to LUVOIS)
Surely you would not quarrel for one little waltz,
When the future is yours,— to atone for my faults?
(LUVOIS relenting, she turns casually to ALFRED)
LUCILLE— (in conventional tone)
Well,— good-bye, Milord Vargrave— You return to Bigorre,—
And so, I presume, we shall see you no more.
You forget our engagement to-morrow— at ONE—
(MATILDA, who has been almost mollified, is again incensed— JOHN checks her, and whispers in angry "aside" to ALFRED)
JOHN— (aside, to ALFRED)
You infernal old idiot— what have you done?
LUCILLE— (with feigned surprise)
Ah, can it be possible— Your friends are here?—
And this is Miss D'Arcy?— Come kiss me, my dear—
(Embraces MATILDA, who submits coldly)
I assure you, he fairly enthused about you,—
Your hair, like the corn-silk,— and eyes of deep blue,—
And I promised, if you should come over to-night
To our ball, that to-morrow I'd surely invite
Your whole party to lunch with me, promptly at ONE—
(Turns appealingly to the BARONESS)
You remember it, BARONESS?— What have I done!
(With mock despair at her own bad memory)
BARONESS—(taking the cue)
OH yes, I remember— we all will be there,—
And I was just begging Sir Ridley to wear
His national costume,— the kilts, and all that,—-
SIR RIDLEY— (deprecatingly)
Ah, Madame,— I fear I'll be getting too fat.
(BARONESS raises a laugh, which relieves the intensity of the situation, and "explains" to MRS. D’ARCY in pantomine at L.C. slightly up stage; CASTELLO and SIR RIDLEY turn up C. talking "aside"— ANDROSKY restrains LUVOIS at R., and JOHN detains ALFRED at L., leaving LUCILLE and MATILDA together at C.)
Dear Miss D'Arcy, I hope you imagined no harm in
My meeting Lord Alfred—
(MATILDA hesitates awkwardly)
MrRS. D’ARCY--- (Breaking in loudly in response to BARONESS)
—Sure, I t'ink she is charmin'.
(With admiring glance at LUCILLE)
LUCILLE-- (to MATILDA)
—As an old friend I wished to congratulate him
On his rumored engagement— 'Twas merely a whim—
(Then, as MATILDA still hesitates, LUCILLE continues earnestly)
You mustn't believe tales you've doubtless been told,—
Why,— I'm almost a mother to him,— I'm so old—
(MATILDA looks up at her shyly)
And I'm sure that from your side he never will roam—
(Convinced at last MATILDA kisses her)
(LUCILLE stifles a sob, then says loudly)
Let us have one more waltz-— Let it be "Home, Sweet Home."
(Lucille smilingly pushes MATILDA into ALFRED'S arms, then turns, and although evidently faint and suffering, gives her hand to LUVOIS. The orchestra strikes up "Home, Sweet Home", and they waltz— JOHN takes MRS. D'ARCY as his partner, while the BARONESS grabs SIR RIDLEY, and whirls him, protesting, 'round and 'round.-- Dance continues for only a few measures (while the laugh lasts) which should bring the dancers into the following positions:
BARONESS ---------------------------------------------------------------------MRS. D'ARCY
and SIR RIDLEY --------------LUCILLE --------------MATILDA -------------and JOHN
-------------------------- & LUVOIS --------& ALFRED
Suddenly LUCILLE gives a sharp little cry, and, fails backward from LUVOIS' arms,— he supporting her with difficulty— ALFRED abruptly deserts MATILDA and catches LUCILLE, holding her closely in his arms in a lover-like embrace, until the fall of the first
Dancers ---------------- Dancers
Sir Ridley ---------- Castello ------------- Mrs. D'Arcy
Baroness ------------------- Ayah--------------- John
Androsky ------------------- Matilda
[Holcomb obviously intended four acts; but only the text of Act I appears in this print edition and a manuscript has not yet been located.]
Last revised: 8 September 2010