A DRAMA IN FIVE ACTS
HONORE DE BALZAC
Presented for the First Time in Paris
At the Theatre-Historique
May 25, 1848
PERSONS OF THE PLAY
Comte de Grandchamp, a Napoleonic General
Eugene Ramel, a State's Attorney
An Investigating Magistrate
Felix, servant to General de Grandchamp
Champagne, a foreman
Baudrillon, a druggist
Napoleon, son to General de Grandchamp by his second wife
Gertrude, second wife to General de Grandchamp
Pauline, daughter to General de Grandchamp by his first wife
Marguerite, maid to Pauline
Gendarmes, Sheriff's Officer, the Clergy
SCENE: Chateau of the General de Grandchamp, near Louviers, Normandy
(A richly decorated drawing-room; on the walls are portraits of
Napoleon I. and his son. The entry is by a large double glass door,
which opens on a roofed veranda and leads by a short stairway to a
park. The door of Pauline's apartments are on the right; those of the
General and his wife are on the left. On the left side of the central
doorway is a table, and on the right is a cabinet. A vase full of
flowers stands by the entrance to Pauline's room. A richly carved
marble mantel, with a bronze clock and candelabras, faces these
apartments. In the front of the stage are two sofas, one on the left,
the other on the right. Gertrude enters, carrying the flowers which
she has just plucked, and puts them in the vase.)
Gertrude and the General.
I assure you, my dear, that it would be unwise to defer any longer
giving your daughter in marriage. She is now twenty-two. Pauline has
been very slow in making her choice; and, in such a case, it is the
duty of parents to see that their children are settled. Moreover, I am
very much interested in her.
In what way?
The position of stepmother is always open to suspicion; and for some
time it has been rumored in Louviers that I am the person who throws
obstacles in the way of Pauline's marriage.
That is merely the idle gossip of little towns. I should like to cut
out some of those silly tongues. And to think that they should attack
you of all people, Gertrude, who have been a real mother to
Pauline—whom you have educated most excellently!
It is the way of the world! They will never forgive us for living so
close to the town, yet never entering it. The society of the place
revenges itself upon us for slighting it. Do you think that our
happiness can escape envy? Even our doctor—
Do you mean Vernon?
Yes, Vernon is very envious of you; he is vexed to think that he has
never been able to inspire any woman with such affection as I have for
you. Moreover, he pretends that I am merely playing a part,—as if I
could do it for twelve years! Rather unlikely, I should think.
No woman could keep up the pretence for twelve years without being
found out. The idea is absurd! And Vernon also is—
Oh, he is only joking! And so, as I told you before, you had better
see Godard. I am astonished that he has not yet arrived. He is so rich
that it would be folly to refuse him. He is in love with Pauline, and
although he has his faults, and is somewhat provincial, he is quite
able to make her happy.
I have left Pauline quite free to choose a husband for herself.
There is no cause for anxiety. A girl so gentle, so well brought up,
so well behaved, is sure to do right.
Gentle, did you say? She is headstrong, like her father.
She, headstrong? And you, come now, do you not always act as I wish?
You are no angel, and always wish what pleases me! By the bye, Vernon
takes dinner with us after his autopsy.
Was it necessary to tell me that?
I only told you, in order that he might have his favorite wines.
Felix (enters, announcing)
Monsieur de Rimonville!
Ask him in.
Gertrude (making a sign to Felix to arrange the vase of flowers)
I will go to Pauline's room, while you are talking business. I should
like to superintend the arrangement of her toilet. Young people do not
always understand what is most becoming to them.
She has no expense spared her! During the last eighteen months her
dress has cost twice as much as it previously did; after all, poor
girl, it is the only amusement she has.
How can you say it is her only amusement while she has the privilege
of living with us! If it were not my happy lot to be your wife, I
should like to be your daughter. I will never leave you, not I! Did
you say for the last eighteen months? That is singular! Well, when I
come to think of it, she has begun to care more about laces, jewels,
and other pretty things.
She is quite rich enough to indulge her tastes.
And she is now of age. (Aside) Her fondness of dress is the smoke. Can
there be any fire? (Exit.)
The General (alone)
What a pearl among women! Thus I am made happy after twenty-six
campaigns, a dozen wounds, and the death of an angel, whose place she
has taken in my heart; truly a kind Providence owed me some such
recompense as this, if it were only to console me for the death of the
Godard and the General.
Ah! good day, Godard! I hope you are come to spend the day with us?
I thought perhaps I might spend the week, General, if you should
regard favorably the request which I shall venture to make of you.
Go in and win! I know what request you mean—My wife is on your side.
Ah, Godard, you have attacked the fortress at its weak point!
General, you are an old soldier, and have no taste for mere phrases.
In all your undertakings you go straight ahead, as you did when under
Straight and facing the whole battery.
That suits me well, for I am rather timid.
You! I owe you, my dear friend, an apology; I took you for a man who
was too well aware of his own worth.
You took me to be conceited! But General, as a matter of fact, I
intend to marry because I don't know how to pay any court to women.
The General (aside)
What a civilian! (Aloud) How is this? You talk like an old man, and
—that is not the way to win my daughter.
Do not misunderstand me. I have a warm heart; I wish only to feel sure
that I shall be accepted.
That means that you don't mind attacking unwalled towns.
That is not it at all, General. You quite alarm me, with your banter.
What do you mean then?
I understand nothing about the tricks of women. I know no more when
their yes means no, than when their no means yes; and when I am in
love, I wish to be loved in return.
The General (aside)
With such ideas as those he has precious little chance.
There are plenty of men like me, men who are supremely bored by this
little warfare of manners and whims.
But there is something also delightful in it,—I mean in the feminine
show of resistance, which gives one the pleasure of overcoming it.
Thank you, nothing of that sort for me! When I am hungry, I do not
wish to coquette with my soup. I like to have things decided, and care
very little how the decision is arrived at, although I do come from
Normandy. In the world, I see coxcombs who creep into the favor of
women by saying to them, "Ah! madame, what a pretty frock you have on.
Your taste is perfect. You are the only person who could wear that,"
and starting from such speeches as that they go on and on—and gain
their end. They are wonderful fellows, upon my honor! I don't see how
they reach success by such idle talk. I should beat about the bush
through all eternity before I could tell a pretty woman the effect she
had made on me.
The men of the Empire were not of that sort.
It is on account of that, that I put on a bold face! This boldness
when backed by an income of forty thousand francs is accepted without
protest, and wins its way to the front. That is why you took me for a
good match. So long as there are no mortgages on the rich pasture
lands of the Auge Valley, so long as one possesses a fine chateau,
well furnished—for my wife need bring with her nothing but her
trousseau, since she will find there even the cashmeres and laces of
my late mother—when a man has all that, General, he has got all the
courage he need have. Besides, I am now Monsieur de Rimonville.
No, you're only Godard.
Godard de Rimonville.
Godard for short.
General, you are trying my patience.
As for me, it would try my patience to see a man, even if he were my
son-in-law, deny his father; and your father, a right honest man, used
himself to drive his beeves from Caen to Poissy, and all along the
road was known as Godard—Father Godard.
He was highly thought of.
He was, in his own class. But I see what's the matter; as his cattle
provided you with an income of forty thousand francs, you are counting
upon other animals to give you the name of De Rimonville.
Now come, General, you had better consult Mlle. Pauline; she belongs
to her own epoch—that she does. We are now in the year 1829 and
Charles X. is king. She would sooner hear the valet call out, as she
left a ballroom, "the carriage of Madame de Rimonville," than, "the
carriage of Madame Godard."
Well, if such silliness as this pleases my daughter, it makes no
difference to me. For, after all, you would be the one they'd poke fun
at, my dear Godard.
Godard, you are a good fellow, you are young, you are rich, you say
that you won't pay your court to women, but that your wife shall be
the queen of your house. Well, if you gain her consent you can have
mine; for bear in mind, Pauline will only marry the man she loves,
rich or poor. There may be one exception, but that doesn't concern
you. I would prefer to attend her funeral rather than take her to the
registry office to marry a man who was a son, grandson, brother,
nephew, cousin or connection of one of the four or five wretches who
betrayed—you know what my religion is—
Betrayed the Emperor. Yes, everyone knows your creed, General.
God, first of all; then France or the Emperor—It is all the same to
me. Lastly, my wife and children! Whoever meddles with my gods becomes
my enemy; I would kill him like a hare, remorselessly. My catechism is
short, but it is good. Do you know why, in the year 1816, after their
cursed disbanding of the army of the Loire, I took my little
motherless child and came here, I, colonel of the Young Guard, wounded
at Waterloo, and became a cloth manufacturer of Louviers?
I suppose you didn't wish to hold office under them.
No, because I did not wish to die as a murderer on the scaffold.
What do you mean?
If I had met one of those traitors, I should have finished his
business for him. Even to-day, after some fifteen years, my blood
boils if I read their names in the newspaper or anyone mentions them
in my presence. And indeed, if I should meet one of them, nothing
would prevent me from springing at his throat, tearing him to pieces,
You would do right. (Aside) I must humor him.
Yes, sir, I would strangle him! And if my son-in-law were to ill-treat
my dear child, I would do the same to him.
I shouldn't wish him to be altogether under her thumb. A man ought to
be king in his own house, as I am here.
Poor man! How he deceives himself!
Did you speak?
I said, General, that your threat had no terrors for me! When one has
nothing but a wife to love, he loves her well.
Quite right, my dear Godard. And now with regard to the marriage
My daughter's portion consists of—
It comprises her mother's fortune and the inheritance of her uncle
Boncoeur. It will be undivided, for I give up my rights to it. This
will amount to three hundred and fifty thousand francs and a year's
interest, for Pauline is twenty-two.
This will make up three hundred and sixty-seven thousand five hundred
It will be more!
Four hundred thousand francs. (Godard seems astonished.) I make up the
difference! But when I die there will be nothing more coming to her.
Do you understand?
I do not understand.
I am very much attached to little Napoleon.
You mean the young Duke of Reichstadt?
No, my son whom they would enter in the register only under the name
of Leon; but I had inscribed here (he places his hand upon his heart)
the name of Napoleon! Do you see I must provide for him and his
Especially for his mother; she'll take care of that!
What are you saying? If you don't agree with me, out with it!
If I did so, we should find ourselves in the law courts. (Aloud) I
agree, and will back you in everything, General.
Good for you! And I'll tell you why, my dear Godard.
Godard, I prefer Godard. I'll tell you why. After having commanded the
grenadiers of the Young Guard, I, General Comte de Grandchamp, now
weave the cloth for their uniforms.
This is very commendable! You should keep on storing up, General, so
that your widow may not be left without a fortune.
She is an angel, Godard!
Godard, she is an angel, to whom you are indebted for the education of
your intended, whom she has moulded after her own image. Pauline is a
pearl, a jewel; she has never left this home; she is as pure and
innocent as she was in her cradle.
General, let me admit that Mlle. Pauline is beautiful!
I am quite sure of that.
She is very beautiful; but there are numbers of beautiful girls in
Normandy, some of them very rich, much richer than she is. Well now,
you'll scarcely believe how the mothers and fathers of these heiresses
run after me! It is scarcely decent. But it amuses me immensely; I
visit their chateaus; they overwhelm me with attentions—
I said he was conceited!
Oh, I am quite aware that it is not for my sake! I don't delude myself
as to that; it is for my unmortgaged pastures; for my savings, and for
my habit of living within my income. Do you know what it is that makes
me seek an alliance with you above all others?
There are certain rich would-be fathers-in-law who promise to obtain
from his Majesty a decree, by which I shall be created Comte de
Rimonville and Peer of France.
Have you won any battles? Have you saved your country? Have you added
to its glory? This is pitiful!
Pitiful? (Aside) What shall I say? (Aloud) We differ in our views on
this subject, but do you know why I prefer your adorable Pauline?
I suppose it is because you love her.
That is a matter of course; but it is also on account of the harmony,
the tranquillity, the happiness which reign here! It is so delightful
to enter a family of high honor, of pure, sincere, patriarchal
manners! I am a man of observation.
That is to say, you are inquisitive.
Curiosity, General, is the mother of observation. I know the seamy
side of the whole department.
Yes, really! In all the families of which I have spoken to you, I have
seen some shabbiness or other. The public sees the decent exterior of
irreproachable mothers of family, of charming young persons, of good
fathers, of model uncles; they are admitted to the sacrament without
confession, they are entrusted with the investments of others. But
just learn their inner side, and it is enough to startle a police
Ah! That is the way you look at the world, is it? For my part, I try
to keep up the illusions in which I have lived. To peer into the inner
life of people in that way is the business of priests and magistrates;
I have no love for the black robed gentlemen, and I hope to die
without ever having seen them! But the sentiment which you express
with regard to my house is more pleasing to me than all your fortune.
Stick to that point, and you will win my esteem, something which I
lightly bestow on no one.
Thank you, General. (Aside) I have won over the father-in-law at any
The same persons, Pauline and Gertrude.
The General (catching sight of Pauline)
Ah! Here you are, darling.
Doesn't she look beautiful?
Forgive me, sir. I had no eyes excepting for my handiwork.
Mademoiselle is radiant!
We have some people to dinner to-day, and I am something more than a
stepmother to her; I love to deck her out, for she is to me like my
They were evidently expecting me!
Gertrude (aside to Godard)
I am going to leave you alone with her. Now is the time for your
declaration. (To the General) My dear, let us go out on the veranda
and see if our friend the doctor is coming.
I am at your service, as usual. (To Pauline) Good-bye, my pet. (To
Godard) I shall see you later.
(Gertrude and the General go to the veranda, but Gertrude keeps her
eye on Godard and Pauline. Ferdinand shows his head at the door of
Pauline's chamber, but at a quick sign from her, he hurriedly
withdraws it unobserved.)
Godard (at the front of the stage)
Let me see, what fine and dainty speech can I make to her? Ah, I have
it! (To Pauline) It is a very fine day, mademoiselle.
It certainly is, sir.
It is in your power to make the day still finer for me.
How can I do that?
Don't you understand me? Has not Madame de Grandchamp said anything to
you about the subject nearest my heart?
While she was helping me to dress, an instant ago, she said a great
many complimentary things about you!
And did you agree with her, even in the slightest way?
Oh, sir, I agreed with all she said!
Godard (seating himself on a chair, aside)
So far so good. (Aloud) Did she commit a pardonable breach of
confidence by telling you that I was so much in love with you that I
wished to see you the mistress of Rimonville?
She gave me to understand by her hints that you were coming with the
intention of paying me a very great compliment.
Godard (falling on his knees)
I love you madly, mademoiselle; I prefer you to Mlle. de Blondville,
to Mlle. de Clairville, to Mlle. de Verville, to Mlle. de
Oh, that is sufficient, sir, you throw me into confusion by these
proofs of a love which is quite unexpected! Your victims make up
almost a hecatomb. (Godard rises.) Your father was contented with
taking the victims to market! But you immolate them.
I really believe she is making fun of me. But wait awhile! Wait
I think at least we ought to wait awhile; and I must confess—
You do not wish to marry yet. You are happy with your parents, and you
are unwilling to leave your father.
That is it, exactly.
In that case, there are some mothers who would agree that their
daughter was too young, but as your father admits that you are
twenty-two I thought that you might possibly have a desire to be
settled in life.
You are, I know, quite at liberty to decide both your own destiny and
mine; but in accordance with the wishes of your father and of your
second mother, who imagine that your heart is free, may I be permitted
still to have hope?
Sir, however flattering to me may be your intention in thus seeking me
out, that does not give you any right to question me so closely.
Is it possible I have a rival? (Aloud) No one, mademoiselle, gives up
the prospect of happiness without a struggle.
Do you still continue in this strain? I must leave you, sir.
Thank you, mademoiselle. (Aside) So much for your sarcasm.
Come sir, you are rich, and nature has given you a fine person; you
are so well educated and so witty that you will have no difficulty in
finding some young person richer and prettier than I am.
How can that be when one is in love?
Well sir, that is the very point.
She is in love with someone; I must find out who it is. (Aloud)
Mademoiselle, will you at least permit me to feel that I am not in
disgrace and that I may stay here a few days?
My father will answer you on that score.
Gertrude (coming forward to Godard)
Well, how are things going?
A blunt refusal, without even a hope of her relenting; her heart is
evidently already occupied.
Gertrude (to Godard)
Her heart occupied? This child has been brought up by me, and I know
to the contrary; and besides that, no one ever comes here. (Aside)
This youth has roused in me suspicions which pierce my heart like a
dagger. (To Godard) Why don't you ask her if such is the case?
How could I ask her anything? At my first word of jealous suspicion,
she resented my curiosity.
Well, I shall have no hesitation in questioning her.
Ah, here comes the doctor! We shall now learn the truth concerning the
death of Champagne's wife.
The same persons and Dr. Vernon.
Well, how are you?
I was quite sure of it. Ladies (he bows to them), as a general rule
when a man beats his wife, he takes care not to poison her; he would
lose too much by that. He doesn't want to be without a victim.
The General (to Godard)
He is a charming fellow!
The General (to the doctor, presenting Godard to him)
Vernon (looking at Godard)
If he kills her, it is by mistake from having hit her a little too
hard; and he is overwhelmed with grief; while Champagne is innocently
delighted to have been made a widower by natural causes. As a matter
of fact, his wife died of cholera. It was a very rare case, but he who
has once seen Asiatic cholera cannot forget it, and I am glad that I
had that opportunity; for, since the campaign in Egypt, I have never
met with a case. If I had been called in time I could have saved her.
How fortunate we are, for if a crime had been committed in this
establishment, which for twelve years has been so free from
disturbance, I should have been horrified.
Here you see the effect of all this tittle-tattle. But are you quite
Am I certain? That's a fine question to put to a retired
surgeon-in-chief who has attended twelve French armies, from 1793 to
1815, and has practiced in Germany, in Spain, in Italy, in Russia, in
Poland, and in Egypt!
The General (poking him in the ribs)
Away, you charlatan! I reckon you have killed more people than I have
in those countries.
What is this talk that you are alluding to?
This poor Champagne, our foreman, was supposed to have poisoned his
Unhappily, the night before she died, they had had an altercation
which ended in blows. Ah! they don't take example from their masters.
Such happiness as reigns here ought to be contagious, but the virtues
which are exemplified in the countess are very rare.
Is there any merit in loving an excellent husband and a daughter such
Come, Gertrude, say no more! Such words ought not to be spoken in
Such things are always said in this way, when it is necessary to make
people believe them.
The General (to Vernon)
What are you muttering about?
I was saying that I was sixty-seven years old, and that I was younger
than you are, and that I should wish to be loved like that. (Aside) If
only I could be sure that it was love.
The General (to the doctor)
I see you are dubious! (to his wife) My dear child, there is no need
for me to bless the power of God on your behalf, but I think He must
have lent it me, in order that I might love you sufficiently.
You forget that I am a doctor, my dear friend. What you are saying to
Madame is only good for the burden of a ballad.
The burdens of some ballads, doctor, are exceedingly true.
Doctor, if you continue teasing my wife, we shall quarrel; to doubt on
such a subject as that is an insult.
I have no doubt about it. (to the General) I would merely say, that
you have loved so many women with the powers of God, that I am in an
ecstasy as a doctor to see you still so good a Christian at seventy!
(Gertrude glides softly towards the sofa, where the doctor is seated.)
Pshaw! The last passions, my friend, are always the strongest.
You are right. In youth, we love with all our strength which grows
weaker with age, while in age we love with all our weakness which is
ever on the increase.
Oh, vile philosophy!
Gertrude (to Vernon)
Doctor, how is it that you, who are so good, try to infuse doubts into
the heart of Grandchamp? You know that he is so jealous that he would
kill a man on suspicion. I have such respect for his feelings that I
have concluded upon seeing no one, but you, the mayor and the cure. Do
you want me also to forego your society which is so pleasant, so
agreeable to us? Ah! Here is Napoleon.
I take this for a declaration of war. She has sent away everyone else,
she intends to dismiss me.
Godard (to Vernon)
Doctor, you are an intimate friend of the house, tell me, pray, what
do you think of Mlle. Pauline?
(The doctor rises from his seat, looks at the speaker, blows his nose,
and goes to the middle of the stage. The dinner bells sounds.)
The same persons, Napoleon and Felix.
Papa, papa, didn't you say I could ride Coco?
Napoleon (to Felix)
Do you hear that?
Gertrude (wiping her son's forehead)
He is quite warm!
But only on the condition that some one goes with you.
You see I was right, Master Napoleon. General, the little rascal
wished to go on his pony alone into the country.
He was frightened for me! Do you think I am afraid of anything?
(Exit Felix. Dinner bell rings.)
Come and let me kiss you for that word. He is a little soldier and
belongs to the Young Guard.
Vernon (with a glance at Gertrude)
He takes after his father!
As regards courage, he is his father's counterpart; but as to
physique, he resembles me.
Dinner is served.
Very well! But do you know where Ferdinand is? He is generally so
punctual. Here, Napoleon, go to the entrance of the factory and see if
he is coming. Tell him to hurry; the bell has rung.
We need not wait for Ferdinand. Godard, give your arm to Pauline.
(Vernon offers his arm to Gertrude.) Excuse me, Vernon, you ought to
be aware that I never permit anybody but myself to take my wife's arm.
Decidedly, he is incurable.
Napoleon (running back)
I saw Ferdinand down in the main avenue.
Give me your hand, you little tyrant!
Tyrant yourself! I'll bet I could tire you out.
(Napoleon turns Vernon round and round. All leave, chatting gaily.)
Ferdinand (cautiously stealing from Pauline's room)
The youngster saved me, but I do not know how he happened to see me in
the avenue! One more piece of carelessness like this may ruin us! I
must extricate myself from this situation at any price. Here is
Pauline refusing Godard's proposal. The General, and especially
Gertrude, will try to find out the motives of her refusal! But I must
hasten to reach the veranda, so that I may have the appearance of
having come from the main avenue, as Leon said. I hope no one will
catch sight of me from the dining-room. (He meets Ramel.) What, Eugene
Ferdinand and Ramel.
You here, Marcandal!
Hush! Don't pronounce that name in this place! If the General heard
that my name was Marcandal, he would kill me at once as if I were a
Because I am the son of General Marcandal.
A general to whom the Bourbons are in part indebted for their second
In the eyes of General Grandchamp, to leave Napoleon for service under
the Bourbons was treason against France. Alas! this was also my
father's opinion, for he died of grief. You must therefore remember to
call me by the name of Ferdinand Charny, my mother's maiden name.
And what are you doing here?
I am the manager, the cashier, the factotum of Grandchamp's factory.
How is this? Do you do it from necessity?
From dire necessity! My father spent everything, even the fortune of
my poor mother, who lived during her later years in Brittany on the
pension she received as widow of a lieutenant-general.
How is it that your father, who had command of the Royal Guard, a most
brilliant position, died without leaving you anything, not even a
Had he never betrayed his friends, and changed sides, without any
Come, come, we won't talk any more about that.
My father was a gambler—that was the reason why he was so indulgent
to me. But may I ask what has brought you here?
A fortnight ago I was appointed king's attorney at Louviers.
I heard something about it. But the appointment was published under
De la Grandiere, I suppose.
That is it.
In order that I might marry Mlle. de Boudeville, I obtained permission
to assume my mother's name—as you have done. The Boudeville family
have given me their protection, and in a year's time I shall doubtless
be attorney-general at Rouen—a stepping-stone towards a position at
And what brings you to our quiet factory?
I came to investigate a criminal case, a poisoning affair,—a fine
introduction into my office.
Monsieur, Madame is worrying about you—
Please ask her to excuse me for a few moments. (Exit Felix.) My dear
Eugene, in case the General—who like all retired troopers is very
inquisitive—should inquire how we happen to meet here, don't forget
to say that we came up the main avenue. It is important for me that
you should say so. But go on with your story. It is on account of the
wife of Champagne, our foreman, that you have come here; but he is
innocent as a new-born babe!
You believe so, do you? Well, the officers of justice are paid for
being incredulous. I see that you still remain, as I left you, the
noblest, the most enthusiastic fellow in the world; in short, a poet!
A poet who puts the poetry into his life instead of writing it, and
believes in the good and the beautiful! And that reminds me—that
angel of your dreams, that Gertrude of yours, whatever has become of
Hush! Not only has the minister of justice sent you here, but some
celestial influence has sent to me at Louviers the friend whose help I
need in my terrible perplexity. Eugene, come here and listen to me a
while. I am going to appeal to you as my college friend, as the
confidant of my youth; you won't put on the airs of the prosecuting
attorney to me, will you? You will see from the nature of my
admissions that I impose upon you the secrecy of the confessional.
Is it anything criminal?
Oh, nonsense! My faults are such as the judges themselves would be
willing to commit.
Perhaps I had better not listen to you; or, if I do listen to you—
I could demand a change of position.
You are always my best and kindest friend. Listen then! For over three
years I have been in love with Mlle. Pauline de Grandchamp, and she—
You needn't go on; I understand. You have been reviving Romeo and
Juliet—in the heart of Normandy.
With this difference, that the hereditary hatred which stood between
the two lovers of the play was a mere trifle in comparison with the
loathing with which the Comte de Grandchamp contemplates the son of
the traitor Marcandal!
Let me see! Mlle. Pauline de Grandchamp will be free in three years;
she is rich in her own right—I know this from the Boudevilles. You
can easily take her to Switzerland and keep her there until the
General's wrath has had time to cool; and then you can make him the
respectful apologies required under the circumstances.
Do you think I would have asked your advice if the only difficulty lay
in the attainment of this trite and easy solution of the problem?
Ah! I see, my dear friend. You have already married your
Gertrude—your angel—who has become to you like all other angels,
after their metamorphoses into a lawful wives.
'Tis a hundred times worse than that! Gertrude, my dear sir, is now
Madame de Grandchamp.
Oh, dear! How is it you've thrust yourself into such a hornets' nest?
In the same way that people always thrust themselves into hornets'
nests; that is, with the hope of finding honey there.
Oh, oh! This is a very serious matter! Now, really, you must conceal
nothing from me.
Mlle. Gertrude de Meilhac, educated at St. Denis, without doubt loved
me first of all through ambition; she was glad to know that I was
rich, and did all she could to gain my attachment with a view to
Such is the game of all these intriguing orphan girls.
But how came it about that Gertrude has ended by loving me so
sincerely? For her passion may be judged by its effects. I call it a
passion, but with her it is first love, sole and undivided love, which
dominates her whole life, and seems to consume her. When she found
that I was a ruined man, towards the close of the year 1816, and
knowing that I was like you, a poet, fond of luxury and art, of a soft
and happy life, in short, a mere spoilt child, she formed a plan at
once base and sublime, such a plan as disappointed passion suggests to
women who, for the sake of their love, do all that despots do for the
sake of their power; for them, the supreme law is that of their love—
The facts, my dear fellow, give me the facts! You are making your
defence, recollect, and I am prosecuting attorney.
While I was settling my mother in Brittany, Gertrude met General de
Grandchamp, who was seeking a governess for his daughter. She saw
nothing in this battered warrior, then fifty-eight years old, but a
money-box. She expected that she would soon be left a widow, wealthy
and in circumstances to claim her lover and her slave. She said to
herself that her marriage would be merely a bad dream, followed
quickly by a happy awakening. You see the dream has lasted twelve
years! But you know how women reason.
They have a special jurisprudence of their own.
Gertrude is a woman of the fiercest jealousy. She wishes for fidelity
in her lover to recompense her for her infidelity to her husband, and
as she has suffered martyrdom, she says, she wishes—
To have you in the same house with her, that she may keep watch over
She has been successful in getting me here. For the last three years I
have been living in a small house near the factory. I should have left
the first week after my arrival, but that two days' acquaintance with
Pauline convinced me that I could not live without her.
Your love for Pauline, it seems to me as a magistrate, makes your
position here somewhat less distasteful.
My position? I assure you, it is intolerable, among the three
characters with whom I am cast. Pauline is daring, like all young
persons who are innocent, to whom love is a wholly ideal thing, and
who see no evil in anything, so long as it concerns a man whom they
intend to marry. The penetration of Gertrude is very acute, but we
manage to elude it through Pauline's terror lest my name should be
divulged; the sense of this danger gives her strength to dissemble!
But now Pauline has just refused Godard, and I do not know what may be
I know Godard; under a somewhat dull exterior he conceals great
sagacity, and he is the most inquisitive man in the department. Is he
He dines here to-day.
Do not trust him.
If two women, between whom there is no love lost, make the discovery
that they are rivals, one of them, I can't say which, is capable of
killing the other, for one is strong in innocence and lawful love; the
other, furious to see the fruit of so much dissimulation, so many
sacrifices, even crimes lost to her forever.
You alarm me—me, the prosecuting attorney! Upon my word and honor,
women often cost more than they are worth.
Dear friend! Papa and mamma are impatient about you; they send word
that you must leave your business, and Vernon says that your stomach
You little rogue! You are come eavesdropping!
Mamma whispered in my ear: "Go and see what your friend is doing."
Run away, you little scamp! Be off! I am coming. (To Ramel) You see
she makes this innocent child a spy over me.
Is this the General's child?
He is twelve years old?
Have you anything more to tell me?
Really, I think I have told you enough.
Very well! Go and get your dinner. Say nothing of my arrival, nor of
my purpose here. Let them finish their dinner in peace. Now go at
Poor fellow! If all young people had studied the annals of the court,
as I have done in seven years of a magistrate's work, they would come
to the conclusion that marriage must be accepted as the sole romance
which is possible in life. But if passion could control itself it
would be virtue.
Curtain to First Act.
(Stage setting remains as in Act I.)
Ramel and Marguerite; later, Felix.
(Ramel is buried in his reflections, reclining on the sofa in such a
way as to be almost out of sight. Marguerite brings in lights and
cards. Night is approaching.)
Four card tables—that will be enough, even though the cure, the mayor
and his assistant come. (Felix lights the candles.) I'll wager
anything that my poor Pauline will not be married this time. Dear
child! If her late mother were to see that she was not queen of the
house, she would weep in her coffin! I only remain here in order to
comfort and to wait upon her.
What is this old woman grumbling about? (Aloud) Whom are you
complaining of now, Marguerite? I'll bet it is the mistress.
No, it is not; I am blaming the master.
The General? You had better mind your own business. He is a saint, is
Yes, a stone saint, for he is blind.
You had better say that he has been blinded.
You hit the nail on the head there.
The General has but one fault—he is jealous.
Yes, and obstinate, too.
Yes, obstinate; it is the same thing. When once he suspects anything
he comes down like a hammer. That was the way he laid two men lifeless
at a blow. Between ourselves, there is only one way to treat a trooper
of that sort; you must stuff him with flattery. And the mistress
certainly does stuff him. Besides, she is clever enough to put
blinders on him, such as they put on shying horses; he can see neither
to the right nor to the left, and she says to him, "My dear, look
straight ahead!" So she does!
Ah! You think with me that a woman of thirty-two does not love a man
of seventy without some object. She is scheming something.
Oh, these servants! whom we pay to spy over us!
What can be her scheme? She never leaves the house, she never sees
She would skin a flint! She has taken away the keys from me—from me
who always had the confidence of the former mistress; do you know why
she did so?
I suppose she is saving up her pile.
Yes, out of the fortune of Mlle. Pauline, and the profits of the
factory. That is the reason why she puts off the marriage of the dear
child as long as she can, for she has to give up her fortune when she
Yes, that's the law.
I would forgive her everything, if only she made Mademoiselle happy;
but I sometimes catch my pet in tears, and I ask her what is the
matter, and she says nothing but "Good Marguerite!" (Exit Felix.) Let
me see, have I done everything? Yes, here are the card tables—the
candles—the cards—Ah! the sofa. (She catches sight of Ramel) Good
Lord! A stranger!
Don't be startled, Marguerite.
You must have heard all we said.
Don't be alarmed. My business is to keep secrets. I am the state's
The same persons, Pauline, Godard, Vernon, Napoleon, Ferdinand, the
General, Madame de Grandchamp.
(Gertrude rushes to Marguerite and snatches the cushions from her
Marguerite, you know very well what pain you give me, by not allowing
me to do everything for your master; besides, I am the only one who
knows how to arrange the cushions to his liking.
Marguerite (to Pauline)
What a to-do about nothing!
Why, look! Here is the state's attorney!
The state's attorney at my house?
I am surprised!
The General (to Ramel)
Sir, what brings you here?
I asked my friend, M. Ferdinand Mar—
(Ferdinand checks him by a gesture. Gertrude and Pauline look at him
It is his friend, Eugene Ramel.
My friend, Ferdinand de Charny, to whom I have told the object of my
visit, to say nothing about it until you had finished your dinner.
Ferdinand then is your friend?
I have known him from childhood; and here we met in your avenue. On
meeting, after nine years of separation, we had so many things to talk
about, that I caused him to be late.
But, sir, to what circumstance am I to attribute your presence here?
I come in the matter of Jean Nicot, known as Champagne, your foreman,
who is charged with a crime.
But, sir, our friend, Doctor Vernon, has declared that Champagne's
wife died a natural death.
Yes, sir, cholera.
Justice, sir, believes in nothing but investigations and convictions
of its own. You did wrong to proceed before my arrival.
Madame, shall I bring in the coffee?
Wait a while! (Aside) How changed this man is, this attorney. I
shouldn't have recognized him. He terrifies me.
But how could you be brought here by the crime of Champagne, an old
soldier for whom I would stand security?
You will earn that, on the arrival of the investigating magistrate.
Will you be pleased to take a seat?
Ferdinand (to Ramel, pointing out Pauline)
That is she!
A man might lay down his life for such a lovely girl.
Gertrude (to Ramel)
We do not know each other! You have never seen me, have you? You must
have pity on us!
You may depend upon me for that.
The General (who sees Ramel and Gertrude talking together)
Is my wife to be called to this investigation?
Certainly, General. I came here myself because the countess had not
been notified that we required her presence.
My wife mixed up in such an affair? It is an outrage!
Keep cool, my friend.
Monsieur, the investigating magistrate!
Let him come in.
The same persons, the investigating magistrate, Champagne, Baudrillon
and a gendarme who is guarding Champagne.
The Magistrate (bowing to the company)
Monsieur the state's attorney, this is M. Baudrillon, the druggist.
Has M. Baudrillon seen the accused?
No, monsieur, the accused came in charge of a gendarme.
We shall soon learn the truth in this case! Let M. Baudrillon and the
Come forward, M. Baudrillon; (to Champagne) and you also.
M. Baudrillon, do you identify this man as the person who bought
arsenic from you two days ago?
Yes, that is the very man.
Didn't I tell you, M. Baudrillon, that it was for the mice that were
eating up everything, even in the house, and that I wanted it for
Do you hear him, madame? This is his plea; he pretends that you
yourself sent him to get this stuff, and that he handed the package to
you just as he took it from M. Baudrillon.
It is true, sir.
Did you make any use of the arsenic, madame?
You can then show us the package sent by M. Baudrillon; it should have
his label, and if he acknowledges that it is entire and unbroken, the
serious charges made against your foreman will in part be disproved.
We shall then have nothing more to do than to receive the report of
the physician who held the autopsy.
The package, sir, has never been taken from the desk in my bedroom.
Ah! General, I am saved.
Poor old Champagne!
General, we shall be very happy if we have to announce the innocence
of your foreman; unlike you soldiers, we are always delighted to be
Here it is, gentlemen.
(The Magistrate, Baudrillon and Ramel examine the package.)
Baudrillon (putting on his glasses)
It is intact, gentlemen, perfectly intact. Here is my seal on it
Lock that up carefully, madame, for the assizes for sometime have had
to deal with nothing but poisoning cases.
You see, sir, I have kept it in my desk, in which none but the General
and myself have access.
(Gertrude returns to her bedroom.)
General, we will not wait for the report of the autopsy. The principal
charge, which you will agree with me was very serious, for all the
town was talking of it, has been disproved; and we have full
confidence in the skill and integrity of Doctor Vernon. (Gertrude
returns) Champagne, you are at liberty. (General expression of
satisfaction.) But you see, my friend, to what painful suspicions a
man exposes himself when his home has a bad name.
Ask the General, your Honor, if I am not mild as a lamb; but my wife,
God forgive her, was the worst that was ever made. An angel could not
have stood her. If I have sometimes tried to bring her to reason, the
anxious moments you have made me pass here, have been punishment
enough! To be taken up for a prisoner, and to know yourself innocent,
while you are in the hands of justice. (Weeps.)
Well! well! You are acquitted now!
Papa, what is justice?
Gentlemen, justice ought not to commit errors of this kind.
There seems to be always something fatal in this justice! And this
poor man will always bear a bad name from your arrival here.
Madame, for the innocent there is nothing fatal in criminal justice.
You see that Champagne has been promptly discharged. (Fixing his eyes
upon Gertrude.) Those who live without reproach, who indulge no
passions, save the noble and the lawful, have nothing to fear from
Sir, you do not know the people of this country. Ten years from this
time they will say that Champagne poisoned his wife, that the officers
of justice came to investigate and, but for our protection—
Say no more, Gertrude. These gentlemen have done only their duty.
(Felix prepares the coffee.) Gentlemen, can I offer you a cup of
Thank you, General; the urgency of this affair called me away from
home rather suddenly, and my wife is waiting dinner for me at
Louviers. (He goes on the veranda to talk with the doctor.)
The General (to Ramel)
You are a friend of Ferdinand's, I believe?
Yes, General, and you have in him the noblest heart, the most spotless
integrity, the most charming character that I have ever met.
This state's attorney seems to be a very kind man!
And why does she say that? Is it because he praised M. Ferdinand? Ah!
there's something there!
Gertrude (to Ramel)
Whenever you have any moments to spare, you must come to see M. de
Charny. (To the General) Would not that be nice, dear?
The Magistrate (coming in from the veranda)
M. de la Grandiere, our physician, agrees with Doctor Vernon that this
death resulted from Asiatic cholera. We beg, therefore, that you,
countess, and you, count, will excuse us for having disturbed, even
for a moment, the tranquillity of your charming household.
Ramel (to Gertrude in the front of the stage)
Take care! God never protects undertakings so rash as yours. I have
discovered all. Give up Ferdinand, leave his life free, and be
satisfied with the happiness of a wife. The path which you are
following leads to crime.
I'll die before I give him up!
I must get Ferdinand away from this place.
(Ramel beckons to Ferdinand, takes his arm, and goes out with him
after exchange of formal bows.)
At last we are rid of them! (To Gertrude) Let the coffee be handed
Pauline, kindly ring for the coffee.
The same persons, excepting Ferdinand, Ramel, the Magistrate and
I shall find out presently whether Pauline loves Ferdinand. This
urchin, who wants to know about justice, seems to me pretty cute; I'll
make use of him.
(Felix brings in the tray.)
Godard (who has taken Napoleon aside)
Would you like to play a nice trick on somebody?
That I would. Do you know one?
Come with me, and I'll tell you how you must do it.
(Godard goes on the veranda with Napoleon.)
Pauline, my coffee. (Pauline brings it to him.) It isn't sweet enough.
(Pauline gives him some sugar.) Thank you, dear.
M. de Rimonville?
M. de Rimonville?
Godard, my wife wants to know if you would like some coffee?
Yes, thank you.
(Godard places himself in such a way as to watch Pauline.)
It is pleasant to sit down and take a little coffee in quiet.
Napoleon (running in)
Mamma, mamma! My good friend Ferdinand has just fallen down; he has
broken his leg and they are carrying him into the house.
How very unfortunate!
(Pauline falls back on her chair.)
What is that you said?
It is all a joke! I only wished to see if you all loved my good
It is very naughty of you to act in that way; how did you come to
think of such a trick?
It was Godard.
She loves him! She was nicely caught by my trap, which I have never
known to fail.
Gertrude (to Godard, as she offers him some coffee)
Are you aware, sir, that you would make a very indifferent preceptor?
It is very bad of you to teach a child such mischievous tricks.
You will come to the conclusion that I did pretty well, when you learn
that I have been enabled by this little stratagem to discover my
(Godard points to Ferdinand who is entering the room.)
Gertrude (letting fall the sugar basin)
She is in the same box!
You startled me.
The General (who has risen from his seat)
What is the matter with you, my dear child?
Nothing; it is Godard's nonsense; he told me that the public
prosecutor had come back. Felix, take away this sugar basin, and bring
me another one.
This is a day of surprises.
M. Ferdinand, they are going to bring some sugar for you. (Aside) He
is not looking at her. (Aloud) How is it, Pauline, you did not put any
sugar in your father's coffee?
Why, of course, it was because she was too scared; didn't you hear her
Won't you hold your tongue, you little story-teller! You are always
(Pauline sits on her father's knee, and puts sugar in his cup.)
Can it be true? And to think that I have taken such pains in dressing
her! (To Godard) If you are right, your marriage will take place in a
fortnight. (Aloud) M. Ferdinand, here is your coffee.
It seems that I caught two in my mouse-trap! And all the time the
General is so calm, so tranquil, and this household is so peaceful!
Things are getting mixed up. I shan't go yet; I wish to have a game of
whist! Oh! I give up all thoughts of marriage for the present.
(Glancing at Ferdinand) There's a lucky fellow! He is loved by two
women—two charming, delightful creatures! He is indeed a factotum!
But how is it that he is more successful than I am, who have an income
of forty thousand?
Pauline, my dear, offer the cards to the gentlemen for a game of
whist. It is almost nine o'clock. If they are going to have a game,
there is no time to be lost. (Pauline puts out the cards.) Come,
Napoleon, bid good-night to the gentlemen, let them see you are a good
boy, and don't try to stay up as you usually do.
Good-night, papa. What is justice like?
Justice is blind! Good-night, my pet.
Good-night, M. Vernon! What is justice made of?
It is made up of all our crimes. When you are naughty, they whip you;
that is justice.
They never whip me.
Then they never do justice to you!
Good-night, my good friend! Good-night, Pauline! Good-night M. Godard.
Have I been good?
(Gertrude kisses Napoleon.)
I have the king.
And I, the queen.
Ferdinand (to Godard)
Monsieur, we are partners.
Gertrude (seeing Marguerite)
Be sure to say your prayers, and don't provoke Marguerite. Now, go to
bed, dear heart.
Yes, dear heart! What is love made of?
The same persons, except Napoleon.
When that child begins to ask questions, he is an amusing youngster.
It is often very embarrassing to answer him. (To Pauline) Come,
Pauline, let us go and finish our work.
It is your lead, General.
Mine? You ought to get married, and we could visit at your house, as
you visit here, and you would have all the happiness of a family.
Don't forget, Godard, that there is no one in the department happier
than I am.
When a man reaches sixty-seven without reaching happiness, it is
impossible to catch up. I shall die a bachelor.
(The two women set to work at the same piece of embroidery.)
Gertrude (seated with Pauline at the front of the stage)
How is this, my child! Godard tells me that you received his advances
very coldly; yet he is a very good match for you.
My father, madame, has given me leave to choose a husband for myself.
Do you know what Godard will say? He will say that you refused him
because you had already made your choice.
If it were true, you and my father would know it. What reason have I
for not giving you my confidence?
I cannot say, and I do not blame you. You see in matters of love women
keep their secret with heroic constancy, sometimes in the midst of the
most cruel torments.
Pauline (aside, picking up the scissors, which she had let drop)
Ferdinand was wise in telling me to distrust her—she is so
Perhaps you have in your heart a love like that. If such a misfortune
has befallen you, you may rely on my help—I love you, remember! I can
win your father's consent; he has confidence in me, and I can sway
both his mind and affections. Therefore, dear child, you may open your
heart to me.
You can read my heart, madame, for I am concealing nothing from you.
Vernon, what in the name of everything are you doing?
(Faint murmurs are heard among the card players; Pauline casts a look
The question point-blank does not do with her. (Aloud) How happy you
make me! For this provincial joker, Godard, avers that you almost
fainted when he prompted Napoleon to declare that Ferdinand had broken
his leg. Ferdinand is a pleasant young fellow, our intimate friend for
some four years; what is more natural than your attachment for the
youth, whose birth and talents are both in his favor?
He is my father's clerk.
Thank God, you are not in love with him; I was a little anxious for
the moment, for, my dear child, he is a married man.
What! He is married? Why then does he make a secret of it? (Aside)
Married? That would be outrageous. I will ask him this evening. I will
give him the signal on which we agreed to meet.
Not a line of her face changed! Godard is wrong, or this child is more
self-possessed than I am. (Aloud) What is the matter with you, my pet?
Gertrude (touching Pauline's neck)
Why, you are quite hot! Do you feel so? (Aside) She loves him, that is
plain. But the question is, does he love her? I suffer the torments of
I have been working too closely at this frame! And what, pray, is the
matter with you?
Nothing. But you asked me why Ferdinand kept his marriage secret.
Gertrude (rising, aside)
If she is in love, she has a will of iron. But where can they have
met? I never leave her in the daytime, and Champagne sees him all the
time at the factory. No! it is absurd. If she does love him, it is
without his knowledge, and she is like all other young girls, who
begin to love a man in secret. But if they have come to an
understanding, I have given her such a start that she will be sure to
communicate with him about it, if only through her eyes. I will keep
them both well in sight.
We have had wonderful luck, M. Ferdinand!
(Ferdinand leaves off playing and goes towards Gertrude.)
I did not know that it was possible to suffer so much and yet live on.
Ferdinand (to Gertrude)
Madame, won't you take my place in the game?
Pauline, will you go instead? (Aside) I can't tell him that he loves
Pauline, that would suggest what may be a new idea to him. What shall
I do? (to Ferdinand) She has confessed all.
I don't understand. Do you refer to Mlle. de Grandchamp?
And what has she been doing?
You have not been false to me? You do not want to kill me?
Kill you? She? I?
Am I the victim of one of Godard's jokes?
Gertrude, you are beside yourself!
Godard (to Pauline)
Ah! Mademoiselle, that is bad play!
You lost a great deal by not taking my stepmother for a partner.
Gertrude (to Ferdinand)
Ferdinand, I do not know whether I am rightly or wrongly informed; but
this I do know; I prefer death to the loss of our hopes.
Take care! The doctor has been watching us very keenly for the last
She has not once looked back at him! (Aloud) She will marry Godard,
for her father will compel her to do so.
Godard would make an excellent match for any one.
I can't stay here any longer! My daughter plays vilely, and you,
Vernon, have trumped my king!
My dear General, it was a finesse.
You stupid! Come, it is ten o'clock, and time to go to sleep instead
of playing cards. Ferdinand, be good enough to take Godard to his
room. As for you, Vernon, you deserve to sleep on the floor as a
punishment, for trumping my king.
It is, after all, merely a matter of five francs, General.
It is also a matter of honor. (To Vernon) Come, now, although you have
played so badly, let me hand you your hat and cane.
(Pauline takes a flower from the vase and plays with it.)
A signal! I will watch her this night, even though my husband should
afterwards kill me for it!
Ferdinand (taking a candlestick from Felix)
M. de Rimonville, I am at your service.
I wish you good-night, madame. My respects to you, mademoiselle.
De Rimonville—Doctor, I—
Vernon (looking at him and blowing his nose)
Good-bye, my friend.
The General (attending the doctor on his way out)
Good-bye till to-morrow, Vernon, but come early.
Gertrude, Pauline and the General.
My dear, Pauline refuses Godard.
And what are your reasons, my daughter?
I do not like him sufficiently to take him for a husband.
Well, never mind! We will look out some one else for you; but it is
time for this to end, for you are now twenty-two, and people will
begin to talk about you, my wife and me unless you make an early
May I not be permitted, if I choose, to remain single?
She has made her choice, but probably wishes to tell you by yourself.
I will leave you, and she will confess it. (To Pauline) Good-night, my
child; talk freely with your father. (Aside) I will listen.
(Gertrude enters her chamber and proceeds to close the door.)
The General and Pauline.
The General (aside)
Act as my daughter's confessor! I am utterly unfitted for such a task!
She might rather act as confessor to me. (Aloud) Pauline, come here.
(He takes her on his knee) Now, do you really think, my pet, that an
old trooper like me doesn't understand your resolution to remain
single? Why, of course, that means, in every language in which it has
ever been uttered, that a young person is in a special hurry to be
married—to some one that she is in love with.
Papa, I would like to tell you something, but I cannot have confidence
And why not, mademoiselle?
Because you tell everything to your wife.
And you mean to tell me that you have a secret of such a kind that it
cannot be revealed to an angel, to the woman who has educated you—to
your second mother!
Oh! If you are going to be vexed, I shall get off to bed. I used to
think that a father's heart would be a place of unfailing refuge for a
You silly child! Come, I am going to be in a good humor.
How kind you are! But listen! Suppose I were in love with the son of
one of those whom you detest?
The General (rising abruptly to his feet and repulsing her)
I should detest you!
And this is what you call being good humored?
My child, there are feelings in my heart that you should never rouse
in me; you ought to know this. They are my very life. Do you wish to
be the death of your father?
Dear child! I have had my day. My lot, with you and Gertrude at my
side, is an enviable one. But, however sweet and charming is my life,
I would quit it without regret, if by that means I could render you
happy; for happiness is a debt we owe to those who owe to us their
Pauline (noticing the door ajar, aside)
Ah! she is listening. (Aloud) Father, I didn't mean what I said, but
suppose I felt a love of that kind and it was so violent that I was
likely to die of it?
It would be best for you to tell me nothing about it, and wait for
your happiness until my death. And yet, since there is nothing more
sacred, nothing more dear next to God and country, than children to
their parents, children in their turn ought to hold sacred their
parents' wishes and never to disobey them, even after their death. If
you do not remain faithful to this hatred of mine, I think I should
come forth from my grave to curse you!
Pauline (kissing her father)
Oh! you bad, bad man! At any rate, I shall now find out whether you
can keep a secret or not. Swear to me on your honor that you'll not
repeat a syllable of what I told you.
I promise you that. But what reason have you for distrusting Gertrude?
If I told you, you would not believe it.
Are you trying to torture your father?
No. But which do you place first,—this hatred for traitors, or your
They are both first with me, for they are based upon a common
Very well; if you throw away your honor by violating your oath, you
may as well throw away your hatred. That is all I wanted to find out.
If women are angelic, they have in them also something of the
diabolical. Tell me, who has filled the head of such an innocent girl
as you are with ideas like these? This is the way they lead us by
Pauline (interrupting him)
You naughty child!
Keep my secret, or I will bring you a son-in-law that will drive you
(Pauline enters her own apartment.)
The General (alone)
There must certainly be some key to this enigma! It must be
discovered! Yes, and Gertrude shall discover it!
(Pauline's chamber; a small plain room with a bed in the centre and a
round table at the left; the entrance is at the right, but there is a
secret entrance on the left.)
At last I am alone! At last I can be natural! Married? My Ferdinand
married? If this is so, he is the falsest, foulest, vilest of men! And
I could kill him! Kill him? But I myself could not survive one hour
the knowledge that he was actually married. My stepmother I detest!
And if she becomes my enemy, there will be war between us, and war in
earnest. It would be terrible, for I should tell my father all I know.
(She looks at her watch.) Half-past eleven, and he cannot come before
midnight, when the whole household is asleep. Poor Ferdinand! He has
to risk his life for a few minutes' chat with her he loves! That is
what I call true love! Such perils men will not undergo for every
woman! But what would I not undergo for him! If my father surprised
us, I would be the one to take the first blow. Oh! To suspect the man
you love is to suffer greater torment than to lose him! If he dies,
you can follow him in death; but doubt—is the cruelest of
separations!—Ah! I hear him.
Ferdinand and Pauline (who locks the door).
Are you married?
What a joke! Wouldn't I have told you?
Ah! (She sinks back on a chair, then falls upon her knees.) Holy
Virgin, what vows shall I make to thee? (She kisses Ferdinand's hand.)
And you, a thousand blessings on your head!
Who could have told you such a foolish thing?
Why, she knows all about me, and if she did not, she would set spies
to discover all; for suspicion with such women as that is certitude!
Listen, Pauline, moments now are precious. It was Madame de Grandchamp
who brought me into this house.
Because she is in love with me.
How horrible! And what of my father?
She was in love with me before her marriage.
She is in love with you; but you, are you in love with her?
Do you think if I were, I should have remained in this house?
And she is still in love with you?
Yes, unhappily she is! I ought to tell you that she was at one time
beloved by me; but to-day I hate her from the bottom of my heart, and
I sometimes ask myself why. Is it because I am in love with you, and
every genuine and pure love is by nature exclusive? Is it because the
contrast between an angel of purity, such as you, and a devil like her
excites in me just as much hatred towards her as it rouses love
towards you, my joy, my bliss, my beauteous treasure? I cannot say.
But I hate her, and I love you so much that I should not regret dying
if your father killed me; for one talk with you, one hour spent in
this chamber by your side, seems, even when it is passed away, a whole
lifetime to me.
Oh, say those dear words again! For they bring back my confidence once
more. After hearing you speak thus, I forgive you the wrong you have
done me in telling that I am not your first and only love, as you are
mine. It is but a lost illusion, that is all! Do not be vexed with me.
Young girls are foolish, they have no ambition but in their love, and
they would fain rule over the past as they rule over the future of
their beloved! But you hate her! And in that word, you give me more
proof of love than you have given me for the two years that we have
loved. If only you knew with what cruelty this stepmother has put me
on the rack, by her questions! But I will be avenged!
You must be very careful! She is a very dangerous woman! She rules
your father. She is a woman who will fight to the death!
To the death! That is as I wish it!
Be prudent, dear Pauline! We are going to act in harmony, are we not?
Well, my love, the prosecuting attorney is of opinion that if we would
triumph over the difficulties that prevent our union, we must have
fortitude enough to part for some time.
Oh! Give me two days and I will win over my father!
But you do not know Madame de Grandchamp. She has gone too far to
leave off without ruining you, and to do that she will go to any
lengths. But I will not go away without giving you what may prove most
effective weapons against her.
Oh, give them, give them to me!
Not yet. And you must promise me not to make use of them, unless your
life is in danger; for what I am doing is certainly a breach of
confidence. But it is for your sake I do it.
Tell me what it is?
To-morrow I shall put into your hands the letters which she wrote to
me, some of them before, some of them after her marriage. Pauline, do
not read them! Swear this to me, in the name of our love, in the name
of our happiness! It will be sufficient, should it ever become
absolutely necessary, that she knows that they are in your possession;
at that moment you will see her trembling and groveling at your feet,
for all her machinations then are foiled. But do not use them
excepting as a last resort, and keep them well concealed.
What a terrible duel it will be!
Terrible! But, Pauline be courageous, as you have so far been, in
keeping the secret of our love; do not acknowledge it, until you find
it no longer possible to deny it.
Oh, why did your father betray the Emperor? If fathers knew how their
children would be punished for the sins of their parents, there would
be none but good men!
Perhaps this sad interview will prove the last moment of happiness we
I will rejoin him, if he leaves me—(Aloud) See, I no longer weep, I
am full of courage! But tell me, will your friend know the place where
you are hiding?
Eugene will be our confidential friend.
And the letters?
To-morrow! To-morrow! But where will you conceal them?
I shall keep them about me.
Oh no, not yet!
A moment more may ruin us.
Or unite us for life. Come, let me show you out, I shall not rest
until I see you in the garden. Come!
Let me take one more glance at this maiden chamber, in which you will
think of me—where all things speak of you.
(The drawing-room before described.)
Pauline on the veranda; Gertrude at the door of the room.
She is seeing him out! He has been deceiving me! So has she! (Taking
Pauline by the hand, she leads her to the front of the stage.) Will
you dare tell me, now, mademoiselle, that you do not love him?
Madame, I am deceiving no one.
You are deceiving your father.
And you, madame?
So both of you are against me—Oh, I shall—
You shall do nothing, either against me or against him.
Do not compel me to show my power! You must be obedient to your
father, and—he is obedient to me.
We shall see!
Her coolness makes my blood boil. My brain reels! (Aloud) Do you know
that I would rather die than live without him?
And so would I, madame. But I am free. I have not sworn as you have to
be faithful to a husband—And your husband is my father!
Gertrude (kneeling before Pauline)
What have I done to you? I have loved you, I have educated you, I have
been a good mother to you.
Be a faithful wife, and I will say no more.
Nay! Speak! Say all you like—Ah! the struggle has begun.
The same persons and the General.
How is this? What is going on here?
Gertrude (to Pauline)
You must feign sickness. Come lie down. (She makes her lie down.) I
happened, my dear, to hear moans. Our dear child was calling for help;
she was almost suffocated by the flowers in her bedroom.
Yes, papa, Marguerite had forgotten to take away the vase of flowers,
and I almost died.
Come, my daughter, come into the open air.
(Gertrude and Pauline go towards the door.)
Stay a moment. What have you done with the flowers.
I do not know where Madame has put them.
I threw them into the garden.
(The General abruptly rushes out, after setting his candle on the card
Pauline and Gertrude; later, the General.
Go back to your room, lock yourself in! I'll take all the blame.
(Pauline goes to her room.) I will wait for him here.
(Gertrude goes back into her room.)
The General (coming in from the garden)
I can find the vase of flowers nowhere. There is some mystery in all
these things. Gertrude?—There is no one here! Ah! Madame de
Grandchamp, you will have to tell me!—It is a nice thing that I
should be deceived by both wife and daughter!
Curtain to the Second Act.
(Same stage-setting. Morning.)
Gertrude; then Champagne.
Gertrude (brings a flower vase from the garden and puts it down on the
What trouble I had to allay his suspicions! One or two more scenes
like that and I shall lose control of him. But I have gained a moment
of liberty now—provided Pauline does not come to trouble me! She must
be asleep—she went to bed so late!—would it be possible to lock her
in her room? (She goes to the door of Pauline's chamber, but cannot
find the key.) I am afraid not.
Champagne (coming in)
M. Ferdinand is coming, madame.
Thank you, Champagne. He went to bed very late, did he not?
M. Ferdinand makes his rounds, as you know, every night, and he came
in at half-past one o'clock. I sleep over him, and I heard him.
Does he ever go to bed later than that?
Sometimes he does, but that is according to the time he makes his
Very good. Thank you, Champagne. (Exit Champagne.) As the reward for a
sacrifice which has lasted for twelve years, and whose agonies can
only be understood by women,—for what man can guess at such
tortures!—what have I asked? Very little! Merely to know that he is
here, near to me, without any satisfaction saving, from time to time,
a furtive glance at him. I wished only to feel sure that he would wait
for me. To feel sure of this is enough for us, us for whom a pure, a
heavenly love is something never to be realized. Men never believe
that they are loved by us, until they have brought us down into the
mire! And this is how he has rewarded me! He makes nocturnal
assignations with this stupid girl! Ah! He may as well pronounce my
sentence of death; and if he has the courage to do so, I shall have
the courage at once to bring about their eternal separation; I can do
it! But here he comes! I feel faint! My God! Why hast Thou made me
love with such desperate devotion him who no longer loves me!
Ferdinand and Gertrude.
Yesterday you deceived me. You came here last night, through this
room, entering by means of a false key, to see Pauline, at the risk of
being killed by M. de Grandchamp! Oh! you needn't lie about it. I saw
you, and I came upon Pauline just as you concluded your nocturnal
promenade. You have made a choice upon which I cannot offer you my
congratulations. If only you had heard us discussing the matter, on
this very spot! If you had seen the boldness of this girl, the
effrontery with which she denied everything to me, you would have
trembled for your future, that future which belongs to me, and for
which I have sold myself, body and soul.
What an avalanche of reproach! (Aloud) Let us try, Gertrude, both of
us, to behave wisely in this matter. Above all things, let us try to
avoid base accusations. I shall never forget what you have been to me;
I still entertain towards you a friendship which is sincere,
unalterable and absolute; but I no longer love you.
That is, since eighteen months ago.
No. Since three years ago.
You must admit then that I have the right to detest and make war upon
your love for Pauline; for this love has rendered you a traitor and
criminal towards me.
Yes, you have deceived me. In standing as you did between us two, you
made me assume a character which is not mine. I am violent as you
know. Violence is frankness, and I am living a life of outrageous
duplicity. Tell me, do you know what it is to have to invent new lies,
on the spur of the moment, every day,—to live with a dagger at your
heart? Oh! This lying! But for us, it is the Nemesis of happiness. It
is disgraceful, when it succeeds; it is death, when it fails. And you,
other men envy you because you make women love you. You will be
applauded, while I shall be despised. And you do not wish me to defend
myself! You have nothing but bitter words for a woman who has hidden
from you everything—her remorse—her tears! I have suffered alone and
without you the wrath of heaven; alone and without you I have
descended into my soul's abyss, an abyss which has been opened by the
earthquake of sorrow; and, while repentance was gnawing at my heart, I
had for you nothing but looks of tenderness, and smiles of gaiety!
Come, Ferdinand, do not despise a slave who lies in such utter
subjection to your will!
I must put an end to this. (Aloud) Listen to me, Gertrude. When first
we met it was youth alone united us in love. I then yielded, you may
say, to an impulse of that egotism which lies at the bottom of every
man's heart, though he knows it not, concealed under the flowers of
youthful passion. There is so much turbulence in our sentiments at
twenty-two! The infatuation which may seize us then, permits us not to
reflect either upon life as it really is, or upon the seriousness of
How calmly he reasons upon it all! Ah! It is infamous!
And at that time I loved you freely, with entire devotion; but
afterwards—afterwards, life changed its aspect for both of us. If you
ask why I remained under a roof which I should never have approached,
it is because I chose in Pauline the only women with whom it was
possible for me to end my days. Come, Gertrude, do not break yourself
to pieces against the barrier raised by heaven. Do not torture two
beings who ask you to yield to them happiness, and who will ever love
Ah, I see! You are the martyr—and I—I am the executioner! Would not
I have been your wife to-day, if I had not set your happiness above
the satisfaction of my love?
Very well! Do the same thing to-day, by giving me my liberty.
You mean the liberty of loving some one else. That is not the way you
spoke twelve years ago. Now it will cost my life.
It is only in romance that people die of love. In real life they seek
Do not you men die for your outraged honor, for a word, for a gesture?
Well, there are women who die for their love, that is, when their love
is a treasure which has become their all, which is their very life!
And I am one of those women. Since you have been under this roof,
Ferdinand, I have feared a catastrophe every moment. Yes. And I always
carry about me something which will enable me to quit this life, the
very moment that misfortune falls on us. See! (She shows him a phial.)
Now you know that life that I have lived!
Ah! you weep!
I swore that I would keep back these tears, but they are strangling
me! For you—While you speak to me with that cold politeness which
is your last insult,—your last insult to a love which you
repudiate!—you show not the least sympathy towards me! You would like
to see me dead, for then you would be unhampered by me. But, Ferdinand,
you do not know me! I am willing to confess everything to the General,
whom I would not deceive. This lying fills me with disgust! I shall take
my child, I shall come to your house, we will flee together. But no more
If you did this, I would kill myself.
And I, too, would kill myself! Then we should be united in death, and
you would never be hers!
What an infernal creature!
And there is this consideration. What would you do if the barrier
which separates you from Pauline were never broken down?
Pauline will be able to maintain her own independence.
But if her father should marry her to some one else?
It would be my death.
People die of love in romance. In real life they console themselves
with some one else, and a man only does his duty by being true to her
with whom he has plighted troth.
The General (outside)
I hear the general calling. (The General appears.) You will then
finish your business as quickly as you can, M. Ferdinand, and return
promptly; I shall wait for you here.
The General, Gertrude, then Pauline.
This is rather early in the morning for you to be holding a conference
with Ferdinand! What were you discussing? The factory?
What were we discussing? I will tell you; for you are exactly like
your son; when once you begin to ask questions, you must have a direct
answer. I had an impression that Ferdinand had something to do with
Pauline's refusal to marry Godard.
When I come to think of it, you were perhaps right.
I got M. Ferdinand to come here for the purpose of clearing up my
suspicions, and you interrupted us at the very moment when I seemed
likely to gain some information.
(Pauline pushes the door ajar unseen.)
But if my daughter is in love with M. Ferdinand—
I must listen.
I do not see why, when I questioned her yesterday in a paternal manner
and with absolute kindness, she should have concealed it from me, for
I left her perfectly free, and her feeling for him would be absolutely
She probably misunderstood you or you questioned her before she had
made up her mind. The heart of a young girl, as you ought to know, is
full of contradictions.
And why should there not be something between them? This young man
toils with the courage of a lion, he is the soul of honor, he is
probably of good family.
I understand the situation now.
He will give us information on this point. He is above all things
trustworthy; but you ought to know his family, for it was you who
discovered this treasure for us.
I proposed him to you on the recommendation of old Madame Morin.
But she is dead!
It is very lucky that I quoted her then! (Aloud) She told me that his
mother was Madame de Charny to whom he is devoted; she lives in
Brittany and belongs to the Charnys, an old family of that country.
The Charnys. Then if he is in love with Pauline, and Pauline with him,
I, for my part, would prefer him to Godard in spite of Godard's
fortune. Ferdinand understands the business of the factory, he could
buy the whole establishment with the dowry of Pauline. That would be
understood. All he has to do is to tell us where he comes from, who he
is, and who his father was. But we will see his mother.
Yes, Madame Charny. Doesn't she live near Saint-Melo? That is by no
means at the other end of the world.
Just use a little tact, some of the manoeuvres of an old soldier, and
be very gentle, and you will soon learn whether this child—
Why should I worry about it? Here comes Pauline herself.
The same persons, Marguerite, then Pauline.
Ah! It is you, Marguerite. You came near causing the death of my
daughter last night by your carelessness. You forgot—
I, General, cause the death of my child!
You forgot to take away the vase containing flowers of a strong scent,
and she was almost suffocated.
Impossible! I took away the vase before the arrival of M. Godard, and
Madame must have seen that it was not there while we were dressing
You are mistaken. It was there.
She's a hard one. (Aloud) Does not Madame remember that she wished to
put some natural flowers in Mademoiselle's hair, and that she remarked
about the vase being gone?
You are inventing a story. But where did you carry it?
To the foot of the veranda.
Gertrude (to the General)
Did you find it there last night?
I took it from the chamber myself last night, and put it where it now
stands. (Points to the vase of flowers on the veranda.)
Sir, I swear to you by my eternal salvation—
Do not swear. (Calling.) Pauline!
Was the vase of flowers in your room last night?
Yes. Marguerite, my dear old friend, you must have forgotten it.
Why don't you say, Mademoiselle, that some one put it there on purpose
to make you ill!
Whom do you mean by some one?
You old fool, if your memory failed you, it is unnecessary for you, at
any rate, to accuse anybody else.
Pauline (aside to Marguerite)
Keep silence! (Aloud) Marguerite, it was there! You forgot it.
It is true, sir, I was thinking of the day before yesterday.
The General (aside)
She has been in my service for twenty years. Strange that she should
be so persistent! (Takes Marguerite aside.) Come! What did you say
about the flowers for my daughter's hair?
Marguerite (while Pauline makes signs to her)
I said that, sir—I am so old that my memory is treacherous.
But even then, why did you suppose that any one in the house had an
evil thought towards—
Say no more, father! She has so much affection for me, dear
Marguerite, that she is sometimes distracted by it.
I am quite sure I took away the flowers.
The General (aside)
Why should my wife and my daughter deceive me? An old trooper like me
doesn't permit himself to be caught between two fires, and there is
something decidedly crooked—
Marguerite, we will take tea in this room when M. Godard comes down.
Tell Felix to bring in all the newspapers.
Very good, madame.
Gertrude, the General and Pauline.
The General (kissing his daughter)
You've not even said good-morning to me, you unnatural child.
Pauline (kissing him)
But, you began by scolding about nothing. I declare, father, I am
going to undertake your education. It is quite time for you, at your
age, to control yourself a little,—a young man would not be so quick
as you are! You have terrified Marguerite, and when women are in fear,
they tell little falsehoods, and you can get nothing out of them.
The General (aside)
I'm in for it now! (Aloud) Your conduct, young lady, does not do much
towards promoting my self-control. I wish you to marry, and I propose
a man who is young—
Handsome and well educated!
Please keep silence, when your father addresses you, mademoiselle. A
man who possesses a magnificent fortune, at least six times as much as
yours, and you refuse him. You are well able to do so, because I leave
you free in the matter; but if you do not care for Godard, tell me who
it is you choose, if I do not already know.
Ah, father, you are much more clear-sighted than I am. Tell me who he
He is a man from thirty to thirty-five years old, who pleases me much
more than Godard does, although he is without fortune. He is already a
member of our family.
I don't see any of our relations here.
I wonder what you can have against this poor Ferdinand, that you
should be unwilling—
Ah! Who has been telling you this story? I'll warrant that it is
Madame de Grandchamp.
A story? I suppose, you will deny the truth of it! Have you never
thought of this fine young fellow?
Gertrude (to the General)
She is lying! Just look at her.
Madame de Grandchamp has doubtless her reasons for supposing that I
have an attachment for my father's clerk. Oh! I see how it is, she
wishes you to say: "If your heart, my daughter, has no preference for
any one, marry Godard." (In a low voice to Gertrude) This, madame, is
an atrocious move! To make me abjure my love in my father's presence!
But I will have my revenge.
Gertrude (aside to Pauline)
As you choose about that; but marry Godard you shall!
The General (aside)
Can it be possible that these two are at variance? I must question
Ferdinand. (Aloud) What were you saying to each other?
Your daughter, my dear, did not like my idea that she was taken with a
subordinate; she is deeply humiliated at the thought.
Am I to understand, then, my daughter, that you are not in love with
Father, I—I do not ask you to marry me to any one! I am perfectly
happy! The only thing which God has given us women, as our very own,
is our heart. I do not understand why Madame de Grandchamp, who is not
my mother, should interfere with my feelings.
My child, I desire nothing but your happiness. I am merely your
stepmother, I know, but if you had been in love with Ferdinand, I
The General (kissing Gertrude's hand)
How good you are!
I feel as if I were strangled! Ah! If I could only undo her!
Yes, I should have thrown myself at your father's feet, to win his
consent, if he had refused it.
Here comes Ferdinand. (Aside) I shall question him at my discretion;
and then perhaps the mystery will be cleared up.
The same persons and Ferdinand.
The General (to Ferdinand)
Come here, my friend. You have been with us over three years now, and
I am indebted to you for the power of sleeping soundly amid all the
cares of an extensive business. You are almost as much as I am the
master of my factory. You have been satisfied with a salary, pretty
large it is true, but scarcely proportionate perhaps to the services
rendered by you. I think at last I understand the motive of your
It is my duty, General.
Granted; but does not the heart count for a good deal in this? Come
now, Ferdinand, you know my way of considering the different ranks of
society, and the distinctions pertaining to them. We are all the sons
of our own works. I have been a soldier. You may therefore have full
confidence in me. They have told me all; how you love a certain young
person, here present. If you desire it, she shall be yours. My wife
had pleaded your cause, and I must acknowledge that she has gained it
before the tribunal of my heart.
General, can this be true? Madame de Grandchamp has pleaded my cause?
Ah, madame! (He falls on his knees before her.) I acknowledge in this
your greatness of heart! You are sublime, you are an angel! (Rising
and rushing forward to Pauline.) Pauline, my Pauline!
Gertrude (to the General)
I guessed aright; he is in love with Pauline.
Sir, have I ever given you the right, by a single look, or by a single
word, to utter my name in this way? No one could be more astonished
than I am to find that I have inspired you with sentiments which might
flatter others, but which I can never reciprocate; I have a higher
Pauline, my child, you are more than severe. Come, tell me, is there
not some misunderstanding here? Ferdinand, come here, come close to
How is it, mademoiselle, when your stepmother, and your father agree?
Pauline (in a low voice to Ferdinand)
We are lost!
Now I am going to act the tyrant. Tell me, Ferdinand, of course your
family is an honorable one?
Pauline (to Ferdinand)
You hear that!
Your father must certainly have been a man of as honorable a
profession as mine was; my father was sergeant of the watch.
They are now separated forever.
Ah! (To Gertrude) I understand your move. (To the General) General, I
do not deny that once in a dream, long ago, in a sweet dream, in which
it was delicious for a man poor and without family to indulge
in—dreams we are told are all the fortune that ever comes to the
unfortunate—I do not deny that I once regarded it as a piece of
overwhelming happiness to become a member of your family; but the
reception which mademoiselle accords to those natural hopes of mine,
and which you have been cruel enough to make me reveal, is such that
at the present moment they have left my heart, never again to return!
I have been rudely awakened from that dream, General. The poor man has
his pride, which it is as ungenerous in the rich man to wound, as it
would be for any one to insult—mark what I say—your attachment to
Napoleon. (In a low voice to Gertrude) You are playing a terrible
Gertrude (aside to Ferdinand)
She shall marry Godard.
Poor young man! (To Pauline) He is everything that is good! He
inspires me with affection. (He takes Ferdinand aside.) If I were in
your place, and at your age, I would have—No, no, what the devil am I
saying?—After all she is my daughter!
General, I make an appeal to your honor; swear that you will keep, as
the most profound secret, what I am going to confide to you; and this
secrecy must extend so far even as to Madame de Grandchamp.
The General (aside)
What is this? He also, like my daughter, seems to distrust my wife.
But, by heaven, I will learn what it means! (Aloud) I consent; you
have the word of a man who has never once broken a promise given.
After having forced me to reveal that which I had buried in the
recesses of my heart, and after I have been thunderstruck, for that is
the only word in which to express it, by the disdain of Mademoiselle
Pauline, it is impossible for me to remain here any longer. I shall
therefore put my accounts in order; this evening I shall quit this
place, and to-morrow will leave France for America, if I can find a
ship sailing from Havre.
The General (aside)
It is as well that he should leave, for he will be sure to return. (To
Ferdinand) May I tell this to my daughter?
Yes, but to no one else.
The General (aside to Pauline)
Pauline! My daughter, you have so cruelly humiliated this poor youth,
that the factory is on the point of losing its manager; Ferdinand is
to leave this evening for America.
Pauline (to the General)
He is right, father. He is doing of his own accord, what you doubtless
would have advised him to do.
Gertrude (to Ferdinand)
She shall marry Godard.
Ferdinand (to Gertrude)
If I do not punish you for your atrocious conduct, God Himself will!
The General (to Pauline)
America is a long way off and the climate is deadly.
Pauline (to the General)
Many a fortune is made there.
The General (aside)
She does not love him. (To Ferdinand) Ferdinand, you must not leave
before I have put in your hands sufficient to start you on the road to
I thank you, General; but what is due me will be sufficient. Moreover,
I shall not be missed in your factory, for I have trained Champagne so
thoroughly as a foreman, that he is skillful enough to become my
successor; and if you will go with me to the factory, you will see—
I will gladly accompany you. (Aside) Everything is in such a
muddle here, that I must go and look for Vernon. The advice and
clear-sightedness of my old friend, the doctor, will be of service in
ferreting out what it is that disturbs this household, for there is
something or other. Ferdinand, I will follow you. Ladies, we will be
soon be back again. (Aside) There is something or other!
(The General follows Ferdinand out.)
Gertrude and Pauline.
Pauline (locking the door)
Madame, do you consider that a pure love, a love which comprises and
enhances all human happiness, which makes us understand that happiness
which is divine,—do you consider such a love to be dearer and more
precious to us than life?
You have been reading the Nouvelle Heloise, my dear. What you say is
rather stilted in diction, but it is nevertheless true.
Well, madame, you have just caused me to commit suicide.
The very act you would have been happy to see me commit; and if you
had succeeded in forcing me to it, you would have felt in your heart
the joy which fills mine at present.
According to my father, war between civilized nations has its laws;
but the war which you wage against me, madame, is that of savages.
You may do as I do, if you can—but you can do nothing! You shall
marry Godard. He is a very good match for you; you will be very happy,
I assure you, for he has fine qualities.
And you think that I will quietly let you marry Ferdinand?
After the few words which we have exchanged this evening, why should
we now indulge in the language of hypocrisy? I was in love with
Ferdinand, my dear Pauline, when you were but eight years old.
But now you are more than thirty—and I am still young. Moreover, he
hates you, he abhors you! He has told me so, and he wishes to have
nothing to do with a woman capable of the black treachery with which
you have acted towards my father.
In the eyes of Ferdinand, my love will serve as my vindication.
He shares the feelings which I have for you; he despises you, madame.
Do you really believe it? Well, if it is so, my dear, I have one more
reason for the position I take, for if he refuses to become my
husband, to gratify his love, Pauline, you will force me to marry him
for the sake of satisfying my revenge. When he came to this house, was
he not aware that I was here?
You probably caught him by some such snare as you have just set for
us, and into which both of us have fallen.
Now, my child, a single word more will put an end to everything
between us. Have you not said a hundred times, a thousand times, in
moments when you were all feeling, all soul, that you would make the
greatest sacrifices for Ferdinand?
You said you would leave your father, would flee from France; you
would give your life, your honor, your salvation for Ferdinand?
Yes, and if there is anything else that I can offer besides
myself—this world and heaven!
Let me tell you, then, that all that you have wished to do, I have
done! It is enough therefore to assure you that nothing, not even
death itself, can arrest my course.
In saying this, you give me the right to defend myself before my
father. (Aside) O Ferdinand! Our love, (Gertrude takes a seat on the
sofa during the soliloquy of Pauline) as she has said, is greater than
life. (To Gertrude) Madame, you must repair all the evil that you have
done to me; the sole difficulties which lie in the way of my marriage
with Ferdinand, you must overcome. Yes, you who have complete control
over my father, you must make him forego his hatred of the son of
And do you really mean that?
And what means do you possess formidable enough to compel me to do so?
Are we not carrying on a warfare of savages?
Say rather, of women, which is even more terrible! Savages torment
the body alone; while we direct our arrows against the heart, the
self-love, the pride, the soul of those whom we attack in the very midst
of their happiness.
That is truly said. It is the whole woman-nature that I attack.
Therefore, my dear and truly honored stepmother, you must eliminate by
to-morrow, and not later, all the obstacles that stand between me and
Ferdinand; or you may be sure my father shall learn from me the whole
course of your conduct, both before and after your marriage.
Ah! That is the way you are going to do it! Poor child! He will never
Oh, I know the domination you exercise over my father; but I have
I went to Ferdinand's house—I am very inquisitive—and I found there
your letters, madame; I took from among them those which would
convince even the blindness of my father, for they will prove to him—
What will they prove?
But this will be, unhappy child, both theft and murder! For think of
And have not you accomplished the murder of my happiness? Have you not
forced me to deny, both to my father and to Ferdinand, my love, my
glory, my life?
This is a mere trick; she knows nothing. (Aloud) This is a clever
stratagem, but I never wrote a single line. What you say is not true.
It is impossible. Where are the letters?
They are in my possession.
In your room?
They are where you can never reach them.
Madness with its wildest dreams spins through my brain! My fingers
itch for murder. It is in such moments as this that men kill each
other! How gladly would I kill her! My God! Do not forsake me! Leave
me my reason! (Aloud) Wait a moment.
My thanks to you, Ferdinand! I see how much you love me; I have been
able to pay back to her all the wrongs she did us a short time
ago—and—she shall save us from all we feared!
She must have them about her,—but how can I be sure of that? Ah!
(Aloud) Pauline! If you have had those letters for long, you must have
known that I was in love with Ferdinand. You can only lately have
They came into my hands this morning.
You have not read them all?
Enough to find out that they would ruin you.
Pauline, life is just beginning for you. (A knock is heard.) Ferdinand
is the first man, young, well educated and distinguished, for he is
distinguished, by whom you have been attracted; but there are many
others in the world such as he is. Ferdinand has been in a certain
sense under the same roof with you, and you have seen him every day;
the first impulses of your heart have therefore directed you to him. I
understand this, and it is quite natural. Had I been in your place I
should doubtless have experienced the same feelings. But, my dear, you
know not the ways either of the world or of society. And if, like so
many other women, you have been deceiving yourself—for we women, ah,
how often are we thus deceived!—you still can make another choice.
But for me the deed has been done, I have no other choice to make.
Ferdinand is all I have, for I have passed my thirtieth year, and I
have sacrificed to him what I should have kept unsullied—the honor of
an aged man. The field is clear for you, you may yet love some other
man more ardently than you can love to-day—this is my experience.
Pauline, child, give him up, and you will learn what a devoted slave
you will have in me! You will have more than a mother, more than a
friend, you will have the unstinted help of a soul that is lost! Oh!
listen to me! (She kneels, and raises her hands to Pauline's corsage.)
Behold me at your feet, acknowledging you my rival! Is this sufficient
humiliation for me? Oh, if you only knew what this costs a woman to
undergo! Relent! Relent, and save me. (A loud knocking is heard, she
takes advantage of Pauline's confusion to feel for the letters.) Give
back my life to me! (Aside) She has them!
Oh, leave me, madame! Will you force me to call for some one?
(Pauline pushes Gertrude away, and proceeds to open the door.)
I was not deceived, she has them about her; but I must not leave them
with her one single hour.
The same persons, the General and Vernon.
You two, locked in together! Why did you call out, Pauline?
How pale you are, my child! Let me feel your pulse.
The General (to Gertrude)
And you also seem to be very much excited.
There was a joke between us and we were indulging in a laugh; weren't
we, Pauline? You were laughing, my pet?
Yes, papa. Dear mamma and I were in a gale of laughter.
Vernon (in a low voice to Pauline)
That's a pretty big lie!
Didn't you hear us knocking?
We heard quite plainly, papa; but we didn't know it was you.
The General (in a low voice to Vernon)
They seem to be leagued against me. (Aloud) But what was it all about?
Dear husband, you always want to know everything! We were speaking for
the moment about the tenants, about some acquaintance of ours. But let
me go and ring for tea.
But tell me all about it?
Why this is sheer tyranny! To tell the truth, we locked ourselves in
so that no one would disturb us. Is that plain enough?
I should think it quite plain.
Gertrude (whispering to the General)
I wished to worm her secrets out of your daughter, for it is evident
that she has some secrets! And you come interrupting us, while I am
working in your service—for Pauline is not my daughter; you arrive,
as if you were charging a hostile squadron, and interrupt us, at the
very moment I was going to learn something.
Madame the Countess of Grandchamp, ever since the arrival of Godard—
Ah! yes, Godard. Well! he is still here.
Do not ridicule my words! Ever since yesterday nothing has gone as
usual! By God! I'd like to know—
Sir, this oath is the first I have ever heard from you. Felix, bring
in the tea. (To the General) You are tired, it seems, of twelve years
I am not, and never will be a tyrant. A little time ago I came
unexpectedly upon you and Ferdinand engaged in conversation, and I
felt I was in the way. Again, I come home and you are locked in with
my daughter, and my appearance seemed to put you out. And to cap all,
Come, General, you can quarrel with Madame as much as you like, but
not before other people. (Godard is heard approaching.) I hear Godard.
(Whispers to the General) Is this keeping your promise to me? In
treating with women—I am bound as a doctor to admit it—you must
leave them to betray themselves; while at the same time you watch them
carefully; otherwise your violence draws forth their tears, and when
once the hydraulic machinery begins to play, they drown a man as if
they had the strength of a triple Hercules!
The same persons and Godard.
Ladies, I came once before to present my compliments and respects to
you, but I found the door closed. General, I wish you good-day. (The
General takes up a newspaper and waves his hand in greeting.) Ah! Here
is my adversary of yesterday's game. Have you come to take your
No, I came to take some tea.
Ah! I see you keep up the custom of the English, Russians and Chinese.
Would you prefer some coffee?
No, no; allow me to have some tea; I will, for once, deviate from my
every-day custom. Moreover, you have your luncheon at noon, I see, and
a cup of coffee with cream would take away my appetite for that meal.
And then the English, the Russians and the Chinese are not entirely
incorrect in taste.
Tea, sir, is an excellent thing.
Yes, when it is good.
This is caravan tea.
Doctor, have you seen the papers? (To Pauline) Go and talk to M. de
Rimonville, my daughter, I, myself, will make tea.
Perhaps Mlle. De Grandchamp likes my conversation no better than my
You are mistaken, sir.
Should you do me the favor of no longer seeking me in marriage, you
would still possess in my eyes qualities of sufficient brilliancy to
captivate the young ladies Boudeville, Clinville, Derville, etc.
That is enough, mademoiselle. Ah! How you do ridicule an unfortunate
lover, in spite of his income of forty thousand francs! The longer I
stay here, the more I regret it. What a lucky fellow M. Ferdinand de
Lucky? Why is he lucky? Poor fellow! Does his good fortune consist in
the fact that he is my father's clerk?
M. de Rimonville—
M. de Rimonville—
Godard, my wife is speaking to you.
Do you like much or little sugar?
A moderate quality.
Not much cream, I suppose?
On the contrary, plenty of cream, countess. (To Pauline) Ah, M.
Ferdinand is not then, after all the man who—whom you have
distinguished by your favor? I can at least assure you that he is very
much to the taste of your stepmother.
How annoying these inquisitive provincials are!
It is fair that I should amuse myself a little at her expense before I
take leave. I must get something out of this visit.
M. de Rimonville, if you desire anything solid, there are sandwiches
Thank you, madame.
Gertrude (whispering to Godard)
Your cause is not wholly lost.
O madame! I have thought a great deal over my rejection by Mlle. de
Ah! (To the doctor) Doctor, you will take yours as usual, I suppose?
If you please, madame.
Godard (to Pauline)
Did you say, "poor fellow," mademoiselle? For M. Ferdinand is not so
poor as you think him. He is richer than I am!
How do you know that?
I am certain of it, and I will tell you why. This M. Ferdinand, whom
you think you know, is an exceedingly crafty fellow—
Can he possibly know his real name?
A few drops of opium in her tea will put her to sleep, and I shall be
Godard (to Pauline)
You cannot deny the authority of him who has put me on the track.
Oh, sir! Kindly tell—
It was the prosecuting attorney. I remembered that at the house of the
Boudevilles it was said that your clerk—
He is putting me on the rack.
Gertrude (offering a cup to Pauline)
Am I dreaming? I thought I saw her put something into Pauline's cup.
Pauline (to Godard)
And what did they say?
Ah! Ah! How attentive you are! I should have been exceedingly
flattered to think that you put on that air when any one was talking
about me, as I am now talking about M. Ferdinand de Charny.
What a strange taste this tea has! You find yours good?
You talk about the tea in order to distract my attention from the
interest you take in what I am telling you. I see through it all!
Well, come now, I am going to astonish you. You must know that M.
You are joking, M. Godard.
On my word of honor, mademoiselle, he possesses a treasure. (Aside)
She is madly in love with him.
How this fool startled me.
(Pauline rises from her seat and Vernon takes the teacup from her
Let me take it, my child.
The General (to his wife)
What ails you, dearest? You seem—
Vernon (who has retained Pauline's cup and returned his own in its
place to Gertrude. Aside)
It is laudanum; fortunately the dose is light; but it is very certain
that something is about to happen. (To Godard) M. Godard, you are a
crafty fox. (Godard takes out his handkerchief as if to blow his
Doctor, I bear no ill-will.
Listen! Do you think that you could carry off the General to the
factory and keep him there for an hour.
I would like to have that youngster to help me.
He is at school until dinner-time.
Why do you wish me to do this?
Now I beg of you, for you are a good fellow, to do as I bid you; it is
necessary. Do you love Pauline?
I did love her yesterday, but this morning— (Aside) I must find out
what he is concealing from me. (To Vernon) It shall be done! I will go
on to the veranda and come back again with a message that Ferdinand
sends for the General. You may rely upon me. Ah! Here is Ferdinand
himself, that is all right!
(Godard goes on the veranda.)
'Tis peculiar, how drowsy I feel.
(Pauline lies down on the divan; Ferdinand appears and talks with
The same persons and Ferdinand.
General, it will be necessary for you to come to the office and the
factory in order to verify my accounts.
That is only just to you.
Ah, General, I'll take advantage of this occasion to visit your
establishment with you, for I have never seen it.
Very good, come along, Godard.
If they go away, fortune will favor me indeed.
Vernon (who has overheard her, aside)
Fortune, in this case, is represented by me—
Gertrude, Vernon, Pauline, and later Marguerite.
Doctor, would you like another cup of tea?
Thank you, but I am so deep in the election returns that I have not
yet finished my first cup.
Gertrude (pointing to Pauline)
Poor child, you see she is sleeping?
How is this? She is sleeping?
It is no wonder. Imagine, doctor, she did not go to sleep until three
o'clock in this morning. We were greatly disturbed last night.
Let me assist you to carry her to her room.
It is not necessary. Marguerite, help me put this poor child to bed.
She will be more comfortable there.
(Marguerite comes forward and assists Gertrude to carry Pauline away.)
Vernon, Felix (who enters at this juncture) and Marguerite later.
Is there anything I can do for you, sir?
Is there a closet anywhere here in which I can lock up something?
Felix (pointing to the closet)
Here is a place, sir.
Good! Felix, don't say a word of this to a single soul. (Aside) He
will be sure to remember it. (Aloud) I am playing a trick on the
General, and the trick will fail if you say anything.
I will be as dumb as a fish.
(The doctor takes from him the key of the closet.)
And now leave me alone with your mistress, who is coming back here,
and be on the watch that no one interrupts us for a moment.
Felix (going out)
Marguerite was right; there is something in the wind, that's certain.
There is nothing the matter. Mademoiselle is sleeping quietly.
What can have set by the ears two women who have hitherto lived in
peace? All doctors, little though they be philosophers, can tell. The
poor General, who all his life has had no other idea excepting that of
escaping the common lot! Yet I see no one here likely to cause him
jealousy, but myself and Ferdinand. It is not probable that I am the
man; but Ferdinand—Yet I have so far noticed nothing—I hear her
coming! Now for the tug-of-war!
Vernon and Gertrude.
I have them!—I am going to burn them in my chamber. (She meets
Madame, I have sent everybody away.
May I ask you why?
In order that we may have our explanation without witnesses.
Explanation! By what right do you—you, the parasite of the house,
pretend to have an explanation with the Comtesse de Grandchamp?
I, a parasite? Madame! I have an income of ten thousand francs,
besides my pension; I have the rank of general, and my fortune will be
bequeathed to the children of my old friend! A parasite indeed! You
forget that I am not only here as a friend but as a doctor, and—you
poured certain drops of laudanum into Pauline's tea.
I saw you do it, and I have the cup.
You have the cup? Why, I washed it myself!
Yes, you washed mine, which I gave you in exchange for that of
Pauline! I was not reading the newspaper, I was watching you.
Oh! sir, how unworthy of you!
You must confess that what I did then is of great service to you, for
if you had by the effect of that draught brought Pauline to the brink
of the grave, you would have been very glad of my services.
The brink of the grave—why, doctor, I put in only a very few drops.
You admit, then, that you put opium in her tea?
Doctor—this is outrageous!
That I have obtained a confession from you? Every woman under the same
circumstances would have said the same thing. I know it by experience.
But that is not all. You have several others things to confide in me.
He is a spy! The only thing I can do is to make him my accomplice.
(Aloud) Doctor, you are too useful to me to admit of our quarreling.
In a moment, if you will wait here, I will return and speak frankly to
(Gertrude goes into her chamber and locks the door.)
She has turned the key! I am caught, tricked! I cannot after all
resort to violence. What is she doing? She is going to hide her flask
of opium. A man is always wrong when he undertakes to discharge for a
friend the offices which my old friend, this poor General, expects of
me. She is going to entangle me—Ah! Here she comes.
I have burnt them! There is not a trace left—I am saved! (Aloud)
My stepdaughter Pauline, whom you believed to be an innocent girl, an
angel, had carried off furtively and criminally something whose
discovery would have compromised the honor and the life of four
Four! (Aside) That is herself, the General—Ah! her son, perhaps—and
This secret, concerning which she is forced to keep silence, even
though it imperilled her life to do so—
I don't quite catch your meaning.
In short, the proofs of this secret are now destroyed! And you,
doctor, who love us all, you would be as base, as infamous as she
is—even more so, because you are a man, and have not the insensate
passions of a woman!—You would be a monster if you were to take
another step along the path on which you have now started—
You mean that for intimidation? Madame, since civilized society first
sprang into being, the seed which you are sowing has produced a crop
whose name is crime.
But there are four lives at stake; remember that. (Aside) He is giving
way. (Aloud) In spite of this danger I demand that you will assist me
in maintaining peace here, and that you will immediately go and get
something by which Pauline may be roused from her slumber. And you
will explain, if necessary, her drowsiness to the General. Further,
you will give me back the cup, for I am sure you intend to do so, and
each step that we take together in this affair shall be fully
explained to you.
We must separate now, for the General will soon be back.
I shall still look after you! I have now a weapon that I can use and—
Gertrude (alone, leaning against the closet in which the cup is locked
Where can he have hidden that cup?
Curtain to the Third Act.
Gertrude and Pauline (the latter sleeping on a large armchair on the
Gertrude (cautiously entering)
She is sleeping, and the doctor said that she would wake up at once.
Her slumber alarms me. This then is the girl that he is in love with.
I do not find her pretty at all. Oh, yes, after all, she is beautiful!
But how is it that men do not see that beauty is nothing but a
promise, and that love is the—(someone knocks). How is this; there
are people coming.
May I come in, Pauline?
It is the doctor.
The same persons and Vernon.
You told me that she would soon awake.
Don't be alarmed. (Calling aloud) Pauline! Pauline!
O M. Vernon! Where am I? Ah! In my own room. What has happened to me?
My child, you fell asleep while you were taking your tea. Madame de
Grandchamp feared as I did that this was the beginning of a sickness;
but it is no such thing. It is altogether, as it seems to me, the
consequence of a night without sleep.
And now, Pauline, how do you feel?
I have been sleeping—and madame was here while I slept! (She starts
up; puts her hand upon her bosom.) Ah! It is outrageous! (To Vernon)
Doctor, can you have been an accomplice?
An accomplice in what? What were you going to say?
I! my child! Could you suppose that I was the accomplice of an evil
action wrought against you, whom I love as if you were my daughter?
Don't speak of such a thing as that! But come, tell me?
There is nothing, doctor, nothing to say!
Let me speak a few words to her.
What possible motive can there be for a young child to keep silence,
when she is the victim of such an act of treachery as this?
Gertrude (in a low voice to Pauline)
So you see, Pauline, you didn't long keep in your possession the
proofs which you intended taking to your father in your ridiculous
accusation of me!
I understand all; you gave me a narcotic in order to deprive me of
We are equally inquisitive. I have done to you what you did to me in
You are triumphant now, madame, but it will soon be my turn.
The war, then, is to continue?
War, madame? Call it a duel! One or the other of us must go.
You are tragic.
There appears to be no outbreak between them, nor the least
misunderstanding!—But stay, an idea strikes me; suppose I go and look
(Vernon prepares to go out.)
We must have a talk together. (Whispering) I shall not leave you until
you have given me back—
I stated to you the sole condition—
Vernon (going to her)
Are you aware that my sleep just now was not a natural one?
Yes, you were put to sleep by your stepmother. I have proof of it. But
do you know the reason why?
Oh! doctor, it is—
Later on, I will tell you all.
Already from each of them I have learned something of what lies
beneath. Ah! poor General!
I am waiting, doctor.
(Vernon bows and escorts Gertrude out.)
Pauline (alone; she rings)
Yes, the only alternative left me is to flee with him; if we continue
this conflict, my stepmother and I, it can but result in my father's
dishonor. Would it not be better to disobey him? Then I will write to
him—I will be generous, because, my triumph over her will be
complete—I will let my father still believe in her, and will explain
my flight by attributing it to the hatred which he bears to the name
of Marcandal and to my love for Ferdinand.
Pauline and Marguerite.
Does mademoiselle feel well again?
Yes, I am well enough in body; but in mind—Oh, I am in despair! My
poor Marguerite, unfortunate is the girl who has lost her mother—
And whose father has for his second wife such a woman as Madame de
Grandchamp. But tell me, mademoiselle, am I not to you a humble and
devoted mother? My affection for you as a nurse has grown in
proportion to the hate with which this stepmother regards you.
Yes, Marguerite, you may believe it, but you delude yourself. Your
love can never be as great as her hatred.
Oh! mademoiselle! If you would only put me to the proof!
Really?—Would you leave France for me?
To be with you, I would travel to the Indies.
And would you start at once?
At once!—My baggage is not heavy.
Well, Marguerite, we will start to-night, and secretly.
But why is this?
You ask me why? Do you not know that Madame de Grandchamp put me to
sleep with opium?
I know it, mademoiselle, and Doctor Vernon knows it also, for Felix
told me that he put under lock and key your teacup.—But why did she
Say not a word about it, if you love me! And if you are as devoted to
me as you profess to be, go to your room and gather together all that
you possess, so quietly that none shall suspect that you are preparing
for a journey. We will start after midnight. You must now take from me
here, and carry to your room, my jewels and all that I shall need for
a long journey. Use the utmost caution; for if my stepmother had the
least idea of what we are doing, I should be ruined.
Ruined!—But, mademoiselle, what is come over you? Think seriously
before you leave your home.
Do you wish to see me die?
Die!—Oh, mademoiselle, I will at once obey your wishes.
Marguerite, tell M. Ferdinand to bring me my year's allowance; bid him
come this moment.
He was under your windows when I came in.
Under my windows!—doubtless he thought that he would never see me
When I think of leaving my father's house, it at once comes home to me
that my father will seek me many a day, far and wide. With what
treasures love ought to repay me, for such sacrifices, for I abandon
to follow Ferdinand my country, my father, and my home! But at any
rate, this shameless woman will lose him without hope of restoration!
Moreover, I shall return! The doctor and M. Ramel will win for me
forgiveness from my father. I think I hear the step of Ferdinand!
—Yes, it is actually he!
Pauline and Ferdinand.
Oh, my love, my Ferdinand!
And I thought that I should never see you again! Marguerite, I see,
She knows nothing yet; but this night she shall learn of our flight,
for we shall be free; and you shall take your wife with you.
Oh, Pauline, do not deceive me!
I was making arrangements to rejoin you in your place of exile; but
this odious woman has hurried on my resolution. There is no merit in
what I am doing, it is a question of life and death to me.
Of life and death! Tell me what has she been doing?
She almost poisoned me; she drugged me, in order to take the letters I
carried about me! By what she has dared to do, in order to keep you
for herself, I judge what she yet may do. If therefore we wish to be
united, our only hope lies in flight. Therefore let us not say
farewell! This night we must find some refuge or other—But where?
That lies with you.
Ah! These words,—how wild with joy they make me!
Ferdinand! Take every precaution; hurry to Louviers, go to the house
of your friend, the prosecuting attorney; secure our passports, and a
carriage with fast horses. I fear that my father, urged on by this
stepmother, may try to overtake us! May he fail to do so; he would
kill us, for I am telling him in this letter the fatal secret of your
birth which compels me thus to leave him.
Dismiss your fears. Eugene completed his preparations for my departure
yesterday. Here is the sum of money which your father owed me. (He
shows her a pocket-book.) Give me your receipt. (He puts down some
money on the table.) I have only to give in my balance sheet in order
to be free. We shall reach Rouen in three hours, and at Havre we shall
take an American ship. Eugene has sent a trusty man to secure me a
passage on board. The officers of the vessel will think it only
natural that a man should take his wife abroad with him, so we shall
meet with no obstacle—
The same persons and Gertrude.
We are lost!
So you are going to start without telling me, Ferdinand? Oh, indeed!
But I have heard it all.
Ferdinand (to Pauline)
Mademoiselle, have the goodness to give me your receipt, it is
indispensable in completing the account which I must give to your
father before leaving. (To Gertrude) Madame, you may be able, perhaps,
to prevent mademoiselle from going away; but I can no longer remain
here, and I must absolutely start to-night.
You must stay here, and you shall stay here, sir!
Against my will?
What mademoiselle wishes to do, I myself will do, and without fear. I
will make M. de Grandchamp come into this very room, and you will at
once see that he will compel you to leave, but—with me and my child.
(Felix appears.) Beg M. de Grandchamp to come here.
Ferdinand (to Pauline)
I see her object. Detain her here, while I overtake Felix, and prevent
him from speaking to the General! Eugene will tell you how you must
act after my departure. When once we have left this place, Gertrude
will be powerless to oppose us. (To Gertrude) Farewell, madame. You
lately made an attack on Pauline's life, and by this act have broken
the last ties that bound me to your friendship.
You have nothing but accusations for me! But you do not know what
mademoiselle intended telling her father concerning you and me.
I love her, and will love her all my life; I shall be able to defend
her against you, and I prize her high enough to suffer banishment in
order to obtain her. Farewell.
Dear, dear Ferdinand!
Gertrude and Pauline.
Now that we are alone, do you know why I have summoned your father? It
is in order to tell him the name and family of Ferdinand.
Madame, what are you going to do? My father, as soon as he learns that
the son of General Marcandal has won the love of his daughter, will
get to Havre as quickly as Ferdinand does. He will come up with him,
I would sooner see Ferdinand dead than united to any one but myself,
especially when I feel in my heart as much hatred for that other one
as I have love for him. Such is my final word in our mortal duel.
Madame, I am now at your feet, as you but now were at mine. Let us
slay each other if you like, but let us not murder him! Let his life
be spared, though it be at the cost of mine!
Will you give him up?
I will, madame.
Gertrude (she lets her handkerchief fall in the excitement of her
You are deceiving me! You tell me this, because he loves you, because
he has already insulted me by avowing it, and because you believe that
he will not love me any longer. Now this will not do, Pauline, you
must give me some pledge of your sincerity.
Her handkerchief! Ah! I see with it the key of her desk. It is there
that the poison is locked up! (Aloud) Did you say pledges of my
sincerity? I will give them to you. What do you demand?
Really, I do not care for more than one proof that you mean what you
say, and that is, that you should marry the other suitor.
I will marry him.
And you must, at this very moment, plight your troth with him.
Go to him yourself, madame, and tell him; and then come here with my
And I will give him my word; even though this be to give away my life.
In what a tone she uttered that. With what resolution! And without
tears—I feel sure she is keeping something back! (Aloud) And so you
are quite resigned to this?
I hope she is. (To Pauline) If you are sincere—
You are mendacity itself, and you always see a lie in other's
words—Oh! Leave me, madame, you make me shudder.
Well, she is candid at any rate. (Aloud) I am going to tell Ferdinand
of your resolution—(Pauline nods in acquiescence.) But he will not
believe me. Suppose you write a word to him?
Yes, I will write to him, and tell him not to go away. (Sits down and
writes.) Here is the letter, madame.
"I am going to marry M. de Rimonville—so that you may remain here.
Pauline." (Aside) I do not quite understand this—I fear that there is
some trick in it. I am going to let him leave; he will learn of the
marriage when he is far away from this.
Ferdinand is utterly lost to me now—I have always expected it; the
world is either a paradise or a prison cell; and I, a young girl, have
dreamed only of the paradise. But anyway I have the key of the desk,
and I can return it after having taken out something which may serve
to put an end to this terrible situation. Yes, that is what I will do!
Pauline and Marguerite.
Mademoiselle, my trunks are all packed. I am now going to begin
Yes. (Aside) It is best to let her do so. (Aloud) Come here,
Marguerite, take this gold and conceal it among your things.
You are sure that your reasons for starting away are very urgent?
My poor Marguerite, who knows whether I shall be able to get away! But
come, go on with your work.
And to think that I believed this fury was unwilling that mademoiselle
should marry! Is it possible that mademoiselle should have concealed
from me that her real love was being opposed? Yet her father is so
good to her! He leaves her free to choose—Suppose I were to speak to
the General—Oh! no, I would not run the risk of injuring my child.
Marguerite and Pauline.
No one has seen me. Listen, Marguerite, first of all, take away the
money that I gave you, and then let me think about the resolution
which I have taken.
If I were in your place, mademoiselle, I would tell everything to the
To my father? Unhappy woman, do not betray me! And let both of us
respect the illusions, in the midst of which he lives.
Ah! Illusions! That is the very word.
You may leave me now.
Pauline, then Vernon.
Pauline (holding in her hand the parcel of poison, which was shown in
the first act)
Here stands death before me! The doctor told us yesterday, in
reference to Champagne's wife, that this terrible substance required
some hours, almost a whole night, to produce its deadly effects, and
that it was possible, during the first hours, to nullify these
effects; if the doctor remains at the house, he will provide this
(Some one knocks.)
Vernon (from without)
It is I.
Come in, doctor! (Aside) Curiosity brings him to see me, curiosity
will take him away.
I see, my child, that between you and your stepmother, there are
secrets of life and death?
Yes, and, above all, death.
I was afraid so! And that, of course, I must attend to. But tell
me—You must have had some terrible quarrel with your stepmother.
Let me hear no more of that creature. She deceives my father.
I know it.
She never loved him.
I was quite sure of that!
She has sworn to ruin me.
How? Is it in an affair of your heart that she wishes to do you harm?
Rather say, it is my life she threatens.
What a horrible suspicion! Pauline, my child, I love you well, you
know I do. Tell me, can nothing save you?
In order to change my fate, it would be necessary that my father
change his ideas. Listen; I am in love with M. Ferdinand.
I already know that. But who would hinder you from marrying him?
Can you keep a secret? Well, he is the son of General Marcandal!
My God! You may rely on my keeping that secret! Why, your father would
fight with him to the death, if for nothing else, because he has had
him under his roof for three years.
You will then see very plainly that there is no hope for me.
(Pauline sinks back overwhelmed with emotion in an armchair.)
Poor child! I fear she is going to faint. (He rings and calls)
The same persons, Gertrude, Marguerite and the General.
Marguerite (running in)
What is it, sir?
Get me a tea-urn of boiling water, into which you must drop some
What is the matter with you, Pauline?
Dear child, do tell us?
Oh, it is nothing! We can understand her feelings. It is because she
sees her lot in life decided—
Vernon (to the General)
Her lot decided? And in what way?
She is going to marry Godard! (Aside) It seems to me as if she were
giving up some love affair of which she did not wish to tell me. As
far as I can understand from what my wife has told me, the unknown one
is ineligible, and Pauline did not discover his unworthiness until
And you believe this? Do not precipitate matters, General. We will
talk it over this evening. (Aside) Before then I am going to have a
few words with Madame de Grandchamp.
Pauline (to Gertrude)
The doctor knows all!
Pauline (she puts back into the pocket of Gertrude the handkerchief
and the key, while the latter is looking at Vernon, who converses with
Keep him away, for he is capable of telling all he knows to the
General. We must at least protect Ferdinand.
She is right. (Aloud) Doctor, I have just been informed that Francis,
one of our best workmen, is sick; he hasn't appeared this morning, and
you might go and visit him.
Francis? Oh! Vernon, you had better go and see him—
Doesn't he live at Pre-l'Eveque? (Aside) More than three leagues away.
Are you alarmed about Pauline?
It is simply an attack of nerves.
I can take your place here, doctor, if that is so, can't I?
Yes. (To the General) I'll undertake to say that Francis is about as
sick as I am! The fact of it is, I see rather too much and my presence
is not desired—
The General (in a rage)
What are you talking about? To whom do you refer?
Are you going to fly into a passion again? Do calm yourself, my old
friend, or you will cause yourself eternal remorse.
Just keep these people talking, till I return.
Gertrude (to Pauline)
Tell me, how do you feel now, my sweet angel?
Just look at them.
Ah! Well, women stab each other with a smile and a kiss.
The same persons (except Vernon) and Marguerite.
Gertrude (to the General, who seems as if he were bewildered by the
last words of Vernon)
What is the matter with you?
The General (passing before Gertrude to the side of Pauline)
Nothing, nothing! Tell me, my little Pauline, is your engagement with
Godard to be quite voluntary?
He will be here soon.
I am expecting him.
The General (aside)
There is a tremendous amount of bitterness in her tone.
(Marguerite appears with a tea-cup.)
It is too soon, Marguerite, the infusion can't yet be strong enough!
(She tastes it.) I must go and prepare it myself.
I have always been in the habit of waiting upon Mlle. Pauline.
What do you mean by speaking to me in this tone?
Marguerite, if you say another word, we shall fall out.
Marguerite, you may just as well let Madame de Grandchamp have her
(Gertrude goes out with Marguerite.)
And so my little girl has not much confidence in the father who loves
her so? Come now! Tell me why you so distinctly refused Godard
yesterday, and yet, accept him to-day?
I suppose it is a young girl's whim.
Are you in love with anybody else?
It is because I am not in love with anybody else that I consent to
marry your friend M. Godard!
(Gertrude comes in with Marguerite.)
Take this, my darling, but be careful, for it is a little hot.
Thank you, mother!
Mother! Truly, this is enough to drive one crazy with perplexity!
Marguerite, bring me the sugar basin!
(While Marguerite goes out and Gertrude talks with the General,
Pauline drops the poison into the cup and lets fall the paper which
Gertrude (to the General)
You seem to be indisposed?
My dear, I cannot understand women; I am like Godard.
(Marguerite comes back.)
You are like all other men.
Pauline (hurriedly drinking the poisoned cup)
How are you now, my child?
I am better.
I am going to prepare another cup for you.
Oh, no, madame, this will be quite enough! I would sooner wait for the
(Pauline sets down the empty cup on the table.)
The same persons and Felix, then Godard.
Felix (looking inquiringly at Pauline)
M. Godard asks if you will see him?
Gertrude (leaving the room)
What do you intend saying to him.
Wait and see.
I am sorry that mademoiselle is indisposed. I did not know it. I will
not intrude. (They offer him a chair.) Mademoiselle, allow me to thank
you above all for the kindness you have shown in receiving me in this
sanctuary of innocence. Madame de Grandchamp and your father have just
informed me of something which would have overwhelmed me with
happiness yesterday, but rather astonishes me to-day.
That is to say, M. Godard—
Do not be hasty, father, M. Godard is right. You do not know all I
said to him yesterday.
You are far too clever, mademoiselle, not to consider as quite natural
the curiosity of an honorable young man, who has an income of forty
thousand francs, besides his savings, to learn of the reason why he
should be accepted after a lapse of twenty-four hours from his
rejection—For, yesterday, it was at this very hour—(He pulls out his
watch) Half-past five—
What do you mean by all this? It looks as if you are not as much in
love as you said you were. You have come here to complain of a
charming girl at the very moment when she has told you—
I would not complain, if the subject were not marriage. Marriage,
General, is at once the cause and the effect of sentiment.
Pardon me, Godard, I am a little hasty, as you know.
Pauline (to Godard)
Sir—(Aside) Oh, how I suffer! (Aloud) Sir, why should poor young
Poor? No, no, mademoiselle; you are not poor. You have four hundred
Why should weak young girls—
Well, then, innocent young persons—be so very fastidious about the
character of the man who presents himself as their lord and master? If
you love me, will you punish yourself—will you punish me—because
your love has been submitted to a test?
Of course, from that point of view—
Oh! These women! These women!
You may just as well say, "These daughters."
Yes, for I am quite sure that mine has more brains than I have.
The same persons, Gertrude and then Napoleon.
How has it turned out, M. Godard?
Ah, Madame! General! My happiness is complete, and my dream fulfilled.
For now I am to be admitted into a family like yours. To think that I
—Ah! Madame! General! (Aside) I'd like to find out the mystery, for
she has precious little love for me.
Papa, I have won the school medal—Good-day, mamma—and where is
Pauline? And so you are sick? Poor little sister! I'll tell you
something—I have found out where justice comes from.
And who told you? Ah! see what a lovely boy he is!
The master told me that justice comes from God.
It is very plain that your master was not born in Normandy.
Pauline (in a low voice to Marguerite)
O Marguerite! Dear Marguerite! Do send them all away.
Gentlemen, Mlle. Pauline desires to take a little nap.
Just so, Pauline, we will leave you, and you need not get up till
I will certainly get up then if I can. Father, kiss me before you go.
The General (kissing her)
My darling child! (To Napoleon) Come, my boy.
(They all go out, except Pauline, Marguerite and Napoleon.)
Napoleon (to Pauline)
And how is it you do not kiss me? Tell me what ails you?
Oh! I am dying!
Do people die? Pauline, what is death made of?
Death—is made—like this—
(Pauline falls back into Marguerite's arms.)
Oh! My God! Help! Help!
Oh! Pauline, you frighten me! (Running away.) Mamma! Mamma!
Curtain to the Fourth Act.
(The chamber of Pauline as before.)
Pauline, Ferdinand and Vernon.
(Pauline lies stretched upon her bed. Ferdinand holds her hand in an
attitude of profound grief and despair. It is just before dawn and a
lamp is burning.)
Vernon (seated near the table)
I have seen thousands of dead men on the field of battle and in the
ambulances, yet the death of this young girl under her father's roof
moves me more profoundly than all those heroic sufferings. Death is
perhaps a thing foreseen on the field of battle—it is even expected
there; while here, it is not only the passing away of a single person,
but a whole family is plunged in tears and fond hopes vanish. Here is
this child, of whom I was so fond, murdered, poisoned—and by whom?
Marguerite has rightly guessed the secret of this struggle between two
rivals. It was impossible to refrain from communicating at once with
the authorities. In the meantime, God knows I have used every effort
to snatch this young life from the grave. (Ferdinand raises his head
and listens to the doctor) I have even brought this poison, which may
act as an antidote to the other; but the princes of medical science
should have been present to witness the experiment! No man ought to
venture upon such a throw of the dice.
Ferdinand (rises and approaches the doctor)
Doctor, when the magistrates arrive, will you explain this experiment
of yours; they will be sure to sanction it; and you may be sure that
God, yes God, will hear me. He will work some miracle, He will give
her back to me!
I should have ventured upon it before the action of the poison had
wrought its full effects. If I did so now, I should be looked upon as
the poisoner. No (he places a little flask upon the table), it would
be useless now, and to give it with the most disinterested motives
would be looked upon as a crime.
Ferdinand (after holding a mirror before Pauline's lips)
Anything, everything is yet possible; she still breathes.
She will not live till daylight.
She has just uttered my name.
The vitality of a girl of twenty-two is very tenacious! Moreover, she
will preserve consciousness, even to her last gasp. She might possibly
rise from her bed and talk with us, although the sufferings caused by
this terrible poison are inconceivable.
The same persons and the General.
The General (outside)
Vernon (to Ferdinand)
It is the General. (Ferdinand, overcome with grief, falls back on the
armchair, where he is concealed by the curtains of the bed.) What do
I want to see Pauline!
If you take my advice, you will wait awhile; she is very much worse.
The General (entering)
For that reason I shall come in.
Do not come in, General. Listen to me!
No, no! Ah, how motionless, how cold she is, Vernon!
Listen! General! (Aside) We must get him away somehow. (Aloud) There
is but a faint hope of saving her.
You told me—You must have been deceiving me!
My friend, we have to look this catastrophe in the face, as we had to
look towards the batteries through a shower of bullets! On such
occasions, when I hesitated, you always went forward. (Aside) That is
a good idea! (Aloud) You had better bring to her the consolations of
Vernon, I wish to see her, to give her my last kiss.
The General (kissing her)
Oh! How icy cold she is!
That is a peculiarity of her sickness, General. Hurry to the priest's
house, for in case my remedies fail, it is not right that your
daughter, who has been reared as a Christian, should be forgotten by
Ah! yes. I will go.
(The General moves towards the bed.)
Vernon (pointing towards the door)
I quite lose my head; I am distracted—O Vernon, work a miracle for
us! You have saved so many people—and here you cannot save the life
of my child!
Come, come, be off. (Aside) I must go with him, for if he meets the
magistrates there will be more trouble still.
(Exit the General and Vernon.)
Pauline and Ferdinand.
Ah! My God! Can this be her last sigh? Pauline, you are my very life;
if Vernon does not save you, I will follow you, and we shall still be
I shall expire, then, without a single regret.
Ferdinand (takes up the flask)
That which would have saved you, if the doctor had arrived earlier,
shall deliver me from life.
No, for you may still be happy.
Never, without you.
Your words revive me.
The same persons and Vernon.
She speaks; her eyes once more are open.
Poor child! There she falls asleep again. What shall the waking be?
(Ferdinand sits down again and takes the hand of Pauline.)
The same persons, Ramel, the Investigating Magistrate, a Doctor, a
Corporal of Police and Marguerite.
M. Vernon, the magistrates are here. M. Ferdinand, you must leave the
Take care, corporal, that all the entrances of this house are guarded,
and observe our orders! Doctor, can we remain here a few moments
without danger to the sick lady?
She is asleep, sir; and it is her last slumber.
Here is the cup into which the infusion was poured and which still has
traces of arsenic; I perceived it there as soon as I took hold of it.
The Doctor (examining the cup and tasting the contents)
It is evident that the liquid contains some poisonous substance.
Please to make an analysis of it. (He sees Marguerite picking up a
small piece of paper from the ground.) What paper is that?
Oh, it is nothing.
In such cases as these, nothing is insignificant in the eyes of
magistrates! Yes, gentlemen, we shall have to examine this paper
later. What can have delayed M. de Grandchamp?
He is at the priest's house, but he will not stay there long.
The Magistrate (to the doctor)
Have you made your examination yet, sir?
(The two physicians converse together at the head of the bed.)
Ramel (to the magistrate)
If the General returns, we must deal with him according to the
(Marguerite is weeping, kneeling at the foot of the bed; the two
physicians, the judge and Ramel are grouped in the front of the
Ramel (to the doctor)
It is therefore of your opinion, sir, that the illness of Mlle. de
Grandchamp, whom we saw two days ago full of health, and even of
happiness, is the result of a crime?
The symptoms of poisoning are undeniable.
And are the remains of the poison contained in this cup so
discernible, and present in such a quantity, as to furnish legal
The Magistrate (to Vernon)
This woman alleges, sir, that yesterday, at four o'clock, you
prescribed for Mlle. de Grandchamp an infusion of orange leaves, as a
soothing draught for the nervous excitement which followed upon an
interview between the stepmother and her stepdaughter; she says,
moreover, that Madame de Grandchamp, who had despatched you on an
empty errand to a place four leagues away, had insisted upon preparing
and giving everything to her daughter herself; is this true?
When I persisted in my purpose of attending myself upon my young
mistress, my poor master was incensed to the point of reproaching me.
Ramel (to Vernon)
Where did Madame de Grandchamp send you?
Everything is ominous in this mysterious affair. Madame de Grandchamp
was so anxious to get me out of the way that she sent me three leagues
to visit a sick man, who, I found when I reached his home, was
drinking in the inn. I blamed Champagne for deceiving Madame de
Grandchamp, and Champagne positively told me that the workman had not
appeared at the factory, but that he himself knows nothing about his
Gentlemen, the clergy are here.
We can continue our proceedings in the drawing-room.
This way, gentlemen, this way.
Ramel, the Magistrate, the Sheriff's Officer and Vernon.
Here, then, is the result so far of our inquiry, in accordance with
the evidence of Felix and Marguerite. Madame de Grandchamp, in the
first place, administered to her stepdaughter a dose of opium, and
you, M. Vernon, who were present and saw the criminal attempt, managed
to secure and lock up the cup.
It is true, gentlemen, but—
How is it, M. Vernon, that when you witnessed this criminal attempt,
you did not check Madame de Grandchamp in the fatal course which she
was then pursuing?
Believe me, gentlemen, I did everything which I thought could be done
with prudence, and all that my long experience suggested was attempted
Your conduct, sir, was peculiar, and you will be called upon to
explain it. You did your duty yesterday in preserving the cup as
evidence; but why did you not go further?
Pardon me, M. Cordier, this gentleman is advanced in years; he is an
honest and trustworthy man. (He takes Vernon aside) You have found
out, I suppose, the cause of this crime.
It springs from a rivalry between two women, who have been urged on to
the most violent extremes by their reckless passions. And I was
obliged to keep silence on the subject.
I know the whole business.
Yes, and, like you, I have done everything to prevent this
catastrophe; for Ferdinand was to leave this very night. I knew Mlle.
Gertrude de Meilhac in former years, having met her at the house of my
Oh! sir, show clemency! Have pity on an old soldier, crippled with
wounds, and enslaved by delusions. He is in danger of losing both his
daughter and his wife. Heaven grant he may not lose his honor also!
We understand each other. So long as Gertrude does not make such
admissions as force us to see the real situation, I shall endeavor to
persuade the investigating magistrate—who is an extremely sagacious
and honest man of ten years' experience—I shall try to make him
believe that cupidity alone has influenced Madame de Grandchamp. You
must assist me. (The magistrate approaches; Ramel nods to Vernon and
puts on an expression of severity.) Why did Madame de Grandchamp wish
to drug her stepdaughter? You, who are the friend of the household,
ought to know this.
Pauline was about to confide her secrets to me. Her stepmother thought
that I was learning certain things which her interest required should
be concealed; and that, sir, is doubtless the reason why she sent me
to treat a workman who was in good health, and not to prevent help
from being brought to Pauline, for Louviers is not so far off.
What forethought she has! She won't be able to escape if we find the
proofs of crime in her desk. She does not expect us here; she will be
The same persons, Gertrude and Marguerite.
I hear the strains of church music! What, is there another trial going
on here? What can be happening? (She goes to the door of Pauline's
chamber and starts back terrified, on the appearance of Marguerite.)
They are offering prayers over the body of your victim!
Pauline! Pauline! Dead!
And it is you, madame, who have poisoned her.
I! I! I! Ah! what is this? Am I asleep or awake? (To Ramel) Ah! How
extremely fortunate for me in this meeting! For you know the whole
affair, don't you? Do you believe me capable of a crime like this?
What! Am I actually accused of it? Do you think that I would have made
an attack upon her life? I, the mother of a child, before whom I would
not wish to be disgraced? Justice will vindicate me—Marguerite, let
no one leave the room. Gentlemen, tell me what has taken place since
yesterday evening, when I left Pauline slightly indisposed?
Madame, collect yourself! You stand before the tribunal of your
You chill me with such words—
The administration of justice in France is the most perfect of
criminal procedures. No traps are set, for justice proceeds, acts, and
speaks with open face, for she is solely intent upon her mission,
which is, the discovery of the truth. At the present moment, you are
merely inculpated, and in me you must see your protector. But tell the
truth, whatever it may be; the final result will be decided at a
Ah! sir, take me into her chamber, and in presence of Pauline I will
cry out, what I cry out before you—I am guiltless of her death!
Sir, let us have none of those long phrases, with which you blind the
eyes of people. I suffer pains unheard of! I weep for Pauline as
though she were my child, and—I forgive her everything! What do you
want with me? Proceed, and I will answer you.
What is it that you will forgive her?
Ramel (in a low voice)
Be cautious in your replies.
You are right, for precipices yawn on every side!
The Magistrate (to the sheriff's officer)
Names and titles may be taken later; now write down the notes of the
investigation, and the inquiry. (To Gertrude) Did you yesterday
forenoon put opium into the tea of Mlle. de Grandchamp?
Ah! doctor—this is you.
Do not accuse the doctor. He has already too seriously compromised
himself for you! Answer the magistrate!
It is true.
Madame recognizes the cup and admits that she put opium in it. That
will be enough for the present, at this stage of the inquiry.
Do you accuse me then of something further? What is it?
Madame, if you cannot free yourself from blame with regard to a later
event, you may be charged with the crime of poisoning. We must now
proceed to seek proofs either of your innocence or of your guilt.
Where will you seek them?
From you! Yesterday you gave Mlle. de Grandchamp an infusion of orange
leaves, in another cup which contained arsenic.
Can it be possible!
The day before yesterday you declared that the key of your desk, in
which the arsenic was locked, never left your possession.
It is in my dress pocket.
Have you ever made any use of that arsenic?
No; you will find the parcel still sealed.
Ah! madame, I sincerely hope so.
I very much doubt it; this is one of those audacious criminals—
The chamber is in disorder, permit me—
No, no! All three of us will enter it.
Your innocence is now at stake.
Gentlemen, let us go in together.
My poor General! He kneels by the bed of his daughter; he weeps, he
prays! Alas! God alone can give her back to him.
Vernon, Gertrude, Ramel, the Magistrate and the Sheriff's Officer.
I scarce can believe my senses; I am dreaming—I am—
You are ruined, madame.
Yes, sir—But by whom?
The Magistrate (to the sheriff's officer)
Write down that Madame de Grandchamp having herself unlocked for us
the desk in her bedchamber and having herself given into our hands the
parcel sealed by M. Baudrillon, this parcel which two days ago was
intact is found unsealed and from it has been taken a dose, more than
sufficient to produce death.
Madame, it was not without reason that I took from your desk this torn
piece of paper. We have also picked up in Mlle. de Grandchamp's
chamber a piece of paper, which exactly fits to it; and this proves
that when you reached your desk, in that confusion which crime always
brings upon criminals, you took up this paper to wrap up the dose,
which you intended to mix with the infusion.
You said that you were my protector! And there, see now—
Give me your attention, madame. In face of such suspicions, I feel I
shall have to change the writ of summons into a writ of bail or
imprisonment. (He signs the document.) And now, madame, you must
consider yourself under arrest.
Of course, I will do all that you wish! But you told me that your
mission was to search for the truth—Ah! Let us search for it
here—Let us search for it here!
Gertrude (to Ramel; she is weeping)
O M. Ramel!
Have you anything to say in your defence which would lead us to cancel
this terrible sentence?
Gentlemen, I am innocent of the crime of poisoning, and yet all is
against me! I implore you, give my your help instead of torturing me!
And listen to me—Some one must have taken my key,—can you not
understand? Some one must have come into my room—Ah! I see it all
now— (To Ramel) Pauline loved as I loved; she has poisoned herself!
For the sake of your honor, do not say that, without the most
convincing proofs, otherwise—
Madame, is it true that, yesterday, you, knowing Doctor Vernon was to
dine with you, sent him—
Oh! you,—your questions are so many daggers at my heart! And yet you
go on, you still go on.
Did you send him away to attend a workman at Pre-l'Eveque?
I did, sir.
This workman, madame, was found in a tavern, and in excellent help.
Champagne had told me that he was sick.
We have questioned Champagne, and he denies this, averring that he
said nothing about sickness. The fact of it was, you wished to
preclude the possibility of medical aid.
It was Pauline! It was she who made me send away Vernon! O Pauline!
You have dragged me down with yourself into the tomb, to which I sink
bearing the name of criminal! No! No! No! (To Ramel) Sir, I have but
one avenue of escape. (To Vernon) Is Pauline still alive?
Vernon (pointing to the General)
Here is my answer.
The same persons and the General.
The General (to Vernon)
She is dying, my friend! If I lose her, I shall never survive it.
It seems to me that there are a great many people here—What must be
done? Oh, try to save her! I wonder where Gertrude is.
(They give the General a seat.)
Gertrude (sinking at the feet of the General)
My friend! Poor father! I would this instant I might be killed without
a trial. (She rises.) No, Pauline has wrapped me in her shroud, I feel
her icy hands about my neck. And yet I was resigned. Yes, I would have
buried with me the secret of this terrible drama, which every woman
should understand! But I am weary of this struggle with a corpse that
holds me tight, and communicates to me the coldness and the stiffness
of death! I have made up my mind that my innocence of this crime shall
come forth victorious at the expense of somebody's honor; for never,
never could I become a vile and cowardly poisoner. Yes, I shall tell
the whole, dark tale.
The General (rising from his seat and coming forward)
Ah! so you are going to say in the face of justice all that for two
days you have concealed by such obstinate silence—vile and ungrateful
creature, fawning liar!—you have killed my daughter. Are you going to
kill me also?
Ought I to keep silence?—Ought I to speak?
General, be kind enough to retire. The law commands.
The law? You represent the justice of men, I represent the justice of
God, and am higher than you all! I am at once accuser, tribunal,
sentence and executioner—Come, madame, tell us what you have to say?
Gertrude (at the General's feet)
Forgive me, sir—Yes—I am—
Oh, poor wretch!
I cannot say it! Oh! for his honor's sake, may he never know the
truth. (Aloud) I am guilty before all the world, but to you I say, and
will repeat it to my last breath, I am innocent! And some future day
the truth shall speak from out two tombs, the cruel truth, which will
show to you that you also are not free from reproach, but from the
very blindness of your hate are culpable in all.
I? I? Am I losing my senses? Do you dare to accuse me? (Perceiving
Pauline.) Ah! Ah! My God!
The same persons, and Pauline (supported by Ferdinand).
They have told me all! This woman is innocent of the crime whereof she
is accused. Religion has at last taught me that pardon cannot be
obtained on high except by those who leave it behind them here below.
I took from Madame the key of her desk, I myself sought the poison. I
myself tore off the paper to wrap it up, for I wished to die.
O Pauline! Take my life, take all I love—Oh, doctor, save her!
Is this the truth, mademoiselle?
The truth, yes, for the dying alone speak it—
We know then actually nothing about this business.
Pauline (to Gertrude)
Do you know why I came to draw you from the abyss which had engulfed
you? It is because Ferdinand spoke to me a word which brought me back
from the tomb. He has so great a horror of being left with you in life
that he follows me, and will follow me to the grave, where we shall
rest together, wedded in death.
Ferdinand! Ah, my God! At what a price have I been saved!
But unhappy child, wherefore must you die? Am I not, have I ceased for
one moment to be a good father? And yet they say that I am culpable.
Yes, General, I alone can give the answer to the riddle, and can
explain to you your guilt.
You, Ferdinand, you to whom I offered my daughter, you who loved her—
My name is Ferdinand Comte de Marcandal, son of General Marcandal. Do
Ah! son of a traitor! What could you bring to my home but death and
treachery! Defend yourself!
Would you fight, General, with the dead?
Gertrude (rushes to Ferdinand with a cry)
Oh! (She recoils before the General, and approaches his daughter, then
draws forth a phial, but immediately flings it away.) I will condemn
myself to live for this old man! (The General kneels beside his dying
daughter.) Doctor, what will become of him? Is he likely to lose his
The General (stammering like a man who has lost his speech)
General, what is it?
I—I am trying—to pray—for my daughter!