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Title: The Beneficent Bear
Original title: Le bourru bienfaisant
Author: Goldoni, Carlo (1707-1793)
Translator: Anonymous
Editor and reviser: Zimmern, Helen (1846-1934)
Date of first publication [this translation]: 1892
Date of first performance [original play]: 1771
Place and date of edition used as base for this ebook: London: David Stott, 1892 [first edition]
Date first posted: 29 May 2010
Date last updated: 29 May 2010
Project Gutenberg Canada ebook #540

This ebook was produced by: Delphine Lettau & the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net













* In order to render the exact shade of meaning of the Italian title, it has been necessary to adopt the colloquial phrase.



Dalancourt, his nephew.
Dorval, the friend of Geronte.
Valerio, the lover of Angelica.
Piccardo, the servant of Geronte.
A Servant of Dalancourt.
Madame Dalancourt.
Angelica, sister of Dalancourt.
Martuccia, housekeeper to Geronte.

The Scene is in Paris, at the house of Geronte.




Scene I.—Martuccia, Angelica, and Valerio.

Ang. Valerio, leave me, I entreat you; I fear for myself, I fear for you. Ah! if we should be surprised—
Val. My dear Angelica!
Mar. Do go, sir.
Val. [To Martuccia.] One moment more. If I could be well assured—
Mar. Of what?
Val. Of her love—of her constancy.
Ang. Ah, Valerio! can you doubt it?
Mar. Go, go, sir; she loves you but too well.
Val. This is the happiness of my life—
Mar. Quick, go away. If my master should come in suddenly!
Ang. [To Martuccia.] He never leaves his room so early.
Mar. That is true; but you know he walks and amuses himself in this room. Here are his chessmen, and here he often plays. Oh, don't you know Signor Geronte?
Val. Pardon me, he is Angelica's uncle. I know my father was his friend, but I have never spoken to him.
Mar. He is a man, sir, of a most singular character. At bottom a most worthy man, but impatient, and peculiar to the last degree.
Ang. Yes, he tells me he loves me, and I believe him; but while he tells me so, he makes me tremble.
Val. [To Angelica.] What have you to fear? you have neither father nor mother. You are at your brother's disposal, and he is my friend; I will speak to him.
Mar. Ah! Exactly! Trust to Signor Dalancourt.
Val. Well, can he refuse me?
Mar. Indeed, I think he can.
Val. Why so?
Mar. Listen; I will explain the whole matter in a few words. My nephew, your brother the lawyer's new clerk, has told me what I will now tell you. He has been with him only a fortnight, I heard it from him this morning; but he confided it to me as the greatest secret: for Heaven's sake do not betray me!
Val. Do not fear.
Ang. You know me.
Mar. [Speaking in a low tone to Valerio, and looking towards the door.] Signor Dalancourt is a ruined man, overwhelmed. He has run through all his fortune, and perhaps his sister's dowry too. Angelica is a burden too great for him to bear, and to free himself from it, he means to shut her up in a convent.
Ang. Oh, Heavens! What do you tell me?
Val. Can it be possible? I have known him a long time. Dalancourt always appeared to me a young man of good sense and honourable principles; sometimes impetuous, and apt to take offence, but—
Mar. Impetuous—oh, most impetuous!—a match for his uncle, but far from having his uncle's excellent feelings.
Val. He is esteemed, beloved by every one. His father was perfectly satisfied with him.
Mar. Ah, sir, since his marriage he is no longer the same man.
Val. Can it be that Madame Dalancourt—
Mar. Yes, she, they say, is the cause of this great change. Signor Geronte is deeply offended with his nephew for his foolish compliance with the whims of his wife, and—I know nothing, but I would lay a wager that this plan of the convent is of her contrivance.
Ang. [To Martuccia.] You surprise me. My sister-in-law, whom I looked on as so discreet, who showed me so much friendship! I never could have thought it.
Val. I know her, and cannot believe it.
Mar. Surely you are not serious? Does any lady dress more elegantly? Is there any new fashion that she does not immediately adopt? At balls and plays, is she not always the first?
Val. But her husband is ever at her side.
Ang. Yes, my brother never leaves her.
Mar. Well, they are both fools, and both will be ruined together.
Val. It is impossible.
Mar. Very well, very well. I have told you what you wanted to know. Now go at once, and do not expose my mistress to the danger of losing her uncle's favour. He alone can be of any service to her.
Val. Keep calm, Angelica. No question of interest shall ever form an obstacle.
Mar. I hear a noise. Go at once.
[Exit Valerio.
Ang. How miserable I am!
Mar. There's your uncle coming. Did I not tell you so?
Ang. I am going.
Mar. No, remain here, and open your heart to him.
Ang. I would as soon put my hand in the fire.
Mar. Come, come; he is sometimes a little hasty, but he has not a bad heart.
Ang. You direct his household, you have influence with him; speak to him for me.
Mar. No, you must speak to him yourself; all I can do is to hint at the matter, and dispose him to listen to you.
Ang. Yes, yes, say something to him, and I will speak to him afterwards. [Going.]
Mar. Remain here.
Ang. No, no; when it is time, call me. I shall not be far off.
[Exit Angelica.
Martuccia, alone.
Mar. How gentle she is—how amiable. I have been with her from her babyhood. I love her; I am distressed for her, and wish to see her happy. Here he is.
Enter Geronte.
Ger. [To Martuccia.] Where's Piccardo?
Mar. Signor—
Ger. Call Piccardo!
Mar. Yes, sir. But may I say one word to you?
Ger. [Very impatiently.] Piccardo, Piccardo!
Mar. [In the same tone.] Piccardo, Piccardo!
Enter Piccardo.
Pic. Here, sir; here, sir.
Mar. [To Piccardo angrily.] Your master—
Pic. [To Geronte.] Here I am, sir.
Ger. Go to my friend Dorval, and tell him I am waiting to play a game of chess with him.
Pic. Yes, sir, but—
Ger. But what?
Pic. I have a commission—
Ger. To do what?
Pic. From your nephew.
Ger. [In a passion.] Go to Dorval's.
Pic. He wishes to speak to you.
Ger. Begone, sir!
Pic. What a man! [Exit.
Ger. A madman—a miserable creature! No, I will not see him; I will not permit him to come and disturb my tranquillity. [Goes to the table.]
Mar. [Aside.] There, he is in a rage at once. Most unfortunate for me.
Ger. [Sitting down.] What a move that was I made yesterday! what a fatality! How in the world could I be checkmated with a game so well arranged? Let me see; this game kept me awake the whole night. [Looking over the game.]
Mar. May I speak to you, sir?
Ger. No.
Mar. No! But I have something important to say to you.
Ger. Well, what have you to say? let me hear it.
Mar. Your niece wishes to speak to you.
Ger. I have no time now.
Mar. Really! Is what you are about, then, of such very great importance?
Ger. Yes, of the utmost importance; I don't often amuse myself, and then I do not choose to be plagued to death. Do you hear?
Mar. This poor girl—
Ger. What has happened to her?
Mar. They want to shut her up in a convent.
Ger. In a convent!—To shut my niece in a convent! to dispose of my niece without my approbation, without my knowing anything about it!
Mar. You know your nephew's embarrassments.
Ger. I have nothing to do with my nephew's embarrassments, nor his wife's follies. He has his own property; if he squanders it, if he ruins himself, so much the worse for him. But as for my niece, I am the head of the family, I am the master; it is for me to provide for her.
Mar. So much the better for her, sir, so much the better. I am glad to see you get so warm in the dear girl's behalf.
Ger. Where is she?
Mar. She is near, sir. Wait a moment—
Ger. Let her come in.
Mar. Yes, she most earnestly desires to do so, but—
Ger. But what?
Mar. She is timid.
Ger. Well, what then?
Mar. If you speak to her—
Ger. I must speak to her.
Mar. Yes, but in this tone of voice—
Ger. The tone of my voice hurts nobody; let her come and rely on my heart, not on my tone of voice.
Mar. That is true, sir. I know you; you are good, humane, charitable; but I entreat you, do not frighten the poor girl; speak to her with a little gentleness.
Ger. Yes, I will speak to her with gentleness.
Mar. You promise me?
Ger. I promise you.
Mar. Do not forget it.
Ger. [Beginning to be impatient.] No.
Mar. Above all, do not get impatient.
Ger. [Impatiently.] I tell you, no.
Mar. I tremble for Angelica.[Exit.
Geronte, alone.
Ger. She is right; I sometimes suffer myself to be carried away by my irritable temper. My niece deserves to be treated with tenderness.
Enter Angelica.—She remains at a distance.
Ger. Come near.
Ang. Sir? [Timidly advancing one step.]
Ger. [Warmly.] How can you expect me to hear you when you are three miles off?
Ang. Excuse me, sir. [She approaches him, trembling.]
Ger. What have you to say to me?
Ang. Has not Martuccia told you something?
Ger. [At first gently, then by degrees he gets excited.] Yes, she has spoken to me of you, of that insensate brother of yours, that extravagant fellow, who suffers himself to be led by the nose by his silly wife, who is ruined, utterly lost, and has no longer any respect for me. [Angelica moves as though to go away.] Where are you going? [Very impetuously.]
Ang. You are angry, sir.
Ger. Well, what is that to you? If I get angry at a blockhead, I am not angry with you. Come near; speak; you must not be afraid of my anger.
Ang. My dear uncle, I can't speak to you unless I see you calm.
Ger. What martyrdom! Well, I am calm. Speak. [Trying to compose himself.]
Ang. Martuccia, sir, has told you—
Ger. I don't mind what Martuccia says. I want to hear it from yourself.
Ang. My brother—
Ger. Your brother—
Ang. Wishes to shut me up in a convent.
Ger. Well, do you wish to go into a convent?
Ang. But, sir—
Ger. [With warmth.] Well! Speak.
Ang. It is not for me to decide.
Ger. [With a little more warmth.] I do not say it is for you to decide, but I want to know your inclination.
Ang. You make me tremble, sir.
Ger. [Aside, restraining himself.] I shall burst with rage.—Come near. I understand, then, a convent is not to your liking?
Ang. No, sir.
Ger. For what have you an inclination?
Ang. Sir—
Ger. Do not be afraid. I am calm. Speak freely.
Ang. Ah! I have not the courage.
Ger. Come here. Do you wish to be married?
Ang. Sir—
Ger. Yes or no?
Ang. If you desire—
Ger. Yes or no?
Ang. Well, yes—
Ger. Yes! you wish to be married! to lose your liberty, your tranquillity! Very well; so much the worse for you. Yes, I will marry you.
Ang. [Aside.] How good he is for all his hasty temper!
Ger. Have you an inclination for any one in particular?
Ang. [Aside.] Now, if I had the courage to speak to him of Valerio!
Ger. Well, have you any lover?
Ang. [Aside.] This is not the opportune moment. I will get Martuccia to speak to him.
Ger. Come, come, let us end the matter. The house in which you live, the persons you see, may perhaps have led you to form an attachment. I wish to know the truth. Yes, I will do something handsome for you, but on the condition that you deserve it. Do you understand? [With great warmth.]
Ang. [Trembling.] Yes, sir.
Ger. Speak openly, frankly. Have you any attachment? [In the same tone.]
Ang. [Hesitating and trembling.] But—no, sir.—No, sir, I have none.
Ger. So much the better. I will find a husband for you.
Ang. Oh, God! I should not like, sir—
Ger. What is it?
Ang. You know my timidity.
Ger. Yes, yes, your timidity. I know womankind; now you are a dove, but get married, and you will be a hawk.
Ang. Ah, my uncle! since you are so good—
Ger. Yes, too good.
Ang. Let me tell you—
Ger. Dorval not come yet! [Going to the table.]
Ang. Hear me, my dear uncle.
Ger. Don't disturb me now. [Intent on the chessboard.]
Ang. One single word—
Ger. [Impatiently.] Enough has been said.
Ang. [Aside.] Oh, Heaven! I am more unhappy than ever. Ah, my dear Martuccia will not abandon me! [Exit.
Geronte, alone.
Ger. She is a good girl; I would willingly do all I can for her. If she had any attachment, I would endeavour to please her, but she has none. I will see, I will look about. But what in the world detains Dorval? Is he never coming? I long to try that cursed combination again that made me lose the last game. Certainly, I ought to have won it—he did not beat me, I beat myself. I must have lost my senses. Let us see a little. My pieces were placed so, and Dorval's so. I moved the king to his castle's square; Dorval placed his bishop on his king's second square. I—check—yes, I take the pawn—Dorval—he takes my bishop,—Dorval—yes, he takes my bishop, and I—give check with my knight. By Jove! Dorval loses his queen. He plays his king, and I take his queen. Yes, the fellow, with his king, has taken my knight. But so much the worse for him. Now he is in my nets; his king is fast. Here is my queen; Yes, here she is. Checkmate. It is clear. Checkmate, and the game is won. Ah! if Dorval would come, he should see it.—[Calls.] Piccardo!
Enter Dalancourt.
Dal. [Apart, and in much confusion.] My uncle is alone; if he will listen to me!
Ger. I will place the pieces as they were at first. [Not seeing Dalancourt, he calls loudly.] Piccardo!
Dal. Sir—
Ger. [Without turning, and supposing he is speaking to Piccardo.] Well, have you found Dorval?
Enter Dorval.
Dor. Here I am, my friend.
Dal. [With resolution.] My uncle.
Ger. [Turning, sees Dalancourt, rises quickly, throws down the chair, and goes out without speaking.]
Scene II.—Dalancourt and Dorval.
Dor. [Laughing.] What is the meaning of this scene?
Dal. It is dreadful! All this because he has seen me.
Dor. [In the same manner.] Geronte is my friend. I know his disposition perfectly.
Dal. I am sorry on your account.
Dor. Indeed, I came at an unlucky time.
Dal. Excuse his violence.
Dor. [Smiling.] Oh, I'll scold him; I'll scold him.
Dal. Ah, my friend, you are the only person who can do anything for me with him.
Dor. I will do what I can, with all my heart, but—
Dal. I agree that, from appearances, my uncle has reason to be offended with me; but if he could read the bottom of my heart, all his affection for me would return, and he would never repent it.
Dor. Yes, I know your character, and I believe everything might be hoped from you; but your wife—
Dal. My wife, sir! Ah, you do not know her. All the world is mistaken about her, and my uncle especially. I must do her justice, and let the truth be known. She knows nothing of the embarrassments by which I am overwhelmed. She thought me richer than I was, and I have always concealed my affairs from her. I love her. We were married very young. I have never permitted her to ask for anything—to want anything. I have always endeavoured to anticipate her wishes, and to provide for her pleasures. In this way I have ruined myself. [Earnestly.]
Dor. To please a lady—to anticipate her desires! That is no easy task.
Dal. I am certain, had she known my situation, she would have been the first to forbid the expenses I have indulged in to please her.
Dor. Yet she did not forbid them.
Dal. No, because she had no fear—
Dor. My poor friend!
Dal. [Afflicted.] Indeed I am poor.
Dor. [Still smiling.] I pity you.
Dal. [With warmth.] You are making a jest of me.
Dor. [Still laughing.] By no means; but—you love your wife prodigiously?
Dal. Yes, I love her; I have always loved her, and shall love her as long as I live; I know her, know all her worth, and will not suffer any one to accuse her of faults which she has not.
Dor. [Seriously.] Gently, my friend, gently; you have a little too much of the family hastiness.
Dal. [With much warmth.] Pardon me, I would not for the world offend you; but when my wife is spoken of—
Dor. Well, well, let us speak of her no more.
Dal. But I wish you to be convinced.
Dor. [Coldly.] Yes, I am convinced.
Dal. [With much earnestness.] No, you are not.
Dor. [A little excited.] Excuse me, I tell you I am.
Dal. Very well, I believe you, and am delighted that you are. Now, my dear friend, speak to my uncle on my behalf.
Dor. Most willingly will I do so.
Dal. How much obliged to you I shall be!
Dor. But we must be able to give him some reasons. How have you managed to ruin yourself in so short a time? It is only four years since your father died, leaving you a handsome fortune, and it is said you have spent it all.
Dal. If you knew all the misfortunes that have happened to me! Seeing my affairs were in disorder, I wished to remedy them, and the remedy was worse than the disease: I listened to new schemes, engaged in new speculations, pledged my property, and have lost everything.
Dor. Here lies the error—new projects; the ruin of many another man.
Dal. And my condition is utterly hopeless.
Dor. You have been very wrong, my friend, especially as you have a sister.
Dal. Yes; and it is now time to think of providing for her.
Dor. Every day she grows more beautiful. Madame Dalancourt receives much company in her house, and youth, my dear friend, sometimes—you understand me?
Dal. Regarding this point, I have on reflection found an expedient; I think of placing her in a convent.
Dor. Place her in a convent! A good plan; but have you consulted your uncle?
Dal. No; he will not hear me; but you must speak to him for me and for Angelica. My uncle esteems and loves you, listens to you, confides in you, and will refuse you nothing.
Dor. I have great doubts of this.
Dal. I am sure of it. Pray try to see him, and speak to him at once.
Dor. I will do so; but where is he gone?
Dal. I will find out.—Let us see—Is any one there?
Enter Piccardo.
Pic. [To Dalancourt.] Here, sir.
Dal. Is my uncle gone from home?
Pic. No, sir; he went into the garden.
Dal. Into the garden! at this time of day?
Pic. For him it is all the same. When he is a little out of temper, he walks about and goes out to take the air.
Dor. I will go and join him.
Dal. I know my uncle, sir; you must give him time to get calm. It is better to wait for him here.
Dor. But if he goes out, he may not return here again.
Pic. [To Dorval.] Pardon me, sir, it will not be long before he is here: I know his temper, a few minutes will be sufficient. I can assure you he will be much pleased to see you.
Dal. Well, my dear friend, go into his room. Do me the favour to wait for him there.
Dor. Willingly; I understand perfectly how cruel your situation is. Some remedy must be provided; yes, I will speak to him, but on condition—
Dal. [With warmth.] I give you my word of honour.
Dor. It is sufficient.
[Exit into Geronte's room.
Dal. You did not tell my uncle what I told you to tell him?
Pic. Pardon me, sir, I have told him, but he drove me away, according to his custom.
Dal. I am sorry for it; let me know when the moment is favourable for me to speak to him. Some day I will reward you for your services.
Pic. I am much obliged to you, sir; but, thank Heaven, I am in want of nothing.
Dal. You are rich, then?
Pic. I am not rich, but I have a master who will not let me want for anything. I have a wife and four children, and ought to be in the greatest straits of any man in the world; but my master is so good, that I support them without difficulty, and distress is unknown in my house. [Exit.
Dalancourt, alone.
Dal. Ah, my uncle is an excellent man. If Dorval can have any influence over him—If I can hope to receive assistance equal to my wants—If I can keep it concealed from my wife—Ah, why have I deceived her? Why have I deceived myself? My uncle does not return. Every minute is precious for me. In the meantime, I will go to my lawyer's. Oh, with what pain I go to him! It is true, he flatters me that, notwithstanding the decree, he will find means to gain time; but quibbles are so odious, my feelings suffer, and my honour is affected. Wretched are they who are forced to resort to expedients so discreditable.
Enter Madame Dalancourt.
Dal. Here comes my wife. [Seeing her.]
Mad. Ah, my husband! are you here? I have been looking everywhere for you.
Dal. I was going out.
Mad. I met that savage just now; he is scolding and scolding wherever he goes.
Dal. Do you mean my uncle?
Mad. Yes. Seeing a ray of sunshine, I went to walk in the garden, and there I met him. He was stamping his feet, talking to himself, but in a loud voice. Tell me, has he any married servants in his house?
Dal. Yes.
Mad. It must have been this. He said a great many had things of the husband and wife; very bad, I assure you.
Dal. [Aside.] I can easily imagine of whom he spoke.
Mad. He is really insupportable.
Dal. You must treat him with respect.
Mad. Can he complain of me? I have failed in nothing; I respect his age, and his quality as your uncle. If I laugh at him sometimes when we are alone, you pardon it. Except this, I have for him all possible respect. But tell me sincerely, has he any for you or for me? He treats us with the greatest asperity; he hates us as much as he can, and now his contempt for me has become excessive: yet I must caress him and pay court to him.
Dal. [Embarrassed.] But—when it is so easy to do so—he is our uncle. Besides, we may have need of him.
Mad. Need of him! we! how? Have we not means of our own to live in decency? You are not extravagant; I am reasonable. For myself, I desire no more than for you to provide for me as you have done. Let us continue to live with the same moderation, and we shall be independent of every one.
Dal. [In a passionate manner.] Let us continue to live with the same moderation!
Mad. Yes, indeed; I have no vanity. I ask nothing more of you.
Dal. [Aside.] How unhappy I am!
Mad. But you seem to me to be disturbed—thoughtful. What is the matter? you are not easy.
Dal. You are mistaken, there is nothing the matter.
Mad. Pardon me, I know you. If you have any sorrow, why hide it from me?
Dal. [More embarrassed.] I am thinking of my sister. I will tell you the whole.
Mad. Your sister! But why of her? She's the best girl in the world—I love her dearly. Hear me. If you will trust her to me, I will relieve you of this burden, and at the same time make her happy.
Dal. How?
Mad. You think of placing her in a convent, and I know, on good authority, it will be against her wishes.
Dal. [A little warmly.] At her age, ought she to be asked what she wishes or does not wish?
Mad. No; she has understanding enough to submit to the will of her friends; but why not marry her?
Dal. She is too young.
Mad. Good! was I older than she when we were married?
Dal. [Excitedly.] Well, must I go about from door to door looking for a man to wed her?
Mad. Listen to me, my husband, and do not disturb yourself, I pray. If I guess aright, I am sure Valerio loves her, and that she too is attached to him.
Dal. [Aside.] Heavens, how much I have to suffer!
Mad. You know him. Can there be a better match for Angelica?
Dal. [Much embarrassed.] We will see—we will talk of it.
Mad. Do me the favour to leave the management of this affair to me; I have a great desire to succeed in it.
Dal. [In the greatest embarrassment.] Madame?
Mad. What say you?
Dal. It cannot be.
Mad. No! why not?
Dal. Will my uncle consent to it?
Mad. And if he does not? I do not wish that we should be wanting in our duty to him, but you are the brother of Angelica. Her fortune is in your hands—whether it is more or less depends on you alone. Let me assure myself of their inclination, and on the subject of interest, I would soon arrange that.
Dal. [Anxiously.] No; if you love me, do not meddle with it.
Mad. Are you then averse to marrying your sister?
Dal. On the contrary.
Mad. What then?
Dal. I must go now. I will talk with you about it on my return. [Going.]
Mad. Are you displeased at my interference?
Dal. Not at all.
Mad. Hear me. Perhaps it is concerning her fortune?
Dal. I know nothing about it. [Exit.
Mad. What does this conduct mean? I do not comprehend it. It is impossible that my husband—No, he is too wise to have anything to reproach himself with.
Scene III.Enter Angelica.
Ang. If I could speak with Martuccia! [Not seeing Madame D.]
Mad. Sister!
Ang. [Uneasily.] Madame!
Mad. Where are you going, sister?
Ang. [Uneasily.] I am going away, Madame.
Mad. Ah! then you are offended?
Ang. I have reason to be so.
Mad. Are you angry with me?
Ang. Why, Madame?
Mad. Hear me, my child; if you are disturbed about the affair of the convent, do not think I have any hand in it. It is just the reverse; I love you, and will do all I can to render you happy.
Ang. [Aside, weeping.] What duplicity!
Mad. What's the matter? you are weeping.
Ang. [Aside.] How much she has deceived me! [Wipes her eyes.]
Mad. What cause have you for sorrow?
Ang. Oh, the embarrassments of my brother.
Mad. The embarrassments of your brother!
Ang. Yes; no one knows them better than you.
Mad. What do you say? Explain yourself, if you please.
Ang. It is needless.
Enter Geronte, and then Piccardo.
Ger. [Calls.] Piccardo!
Pic. Here, sir. [Coming out of Geronte's apartment.]
Ger. [With impatience.] Well, where is Dorval?
Pic. He is waiting for you, sir, in your room.
Ger. He in my room, and you said nothing about it?
Pic. You did not give me time, sir.
Ger. [Seeing Angelica and Madame D., he speaks to Angelica, turning as he speaks towards Madame D., that she may hear him.] What are you doing here? I wish to have none of your family. Go away.
Ang. My dear uncle—
Ger. I tell you, go.
[Exit Angelica, mortified.
Mad. I ask your pardon, sir.
Ger. [Turning towards the door by which Angelica has gone out, but from time to time looking at Madame D.] This is strange. This is impertinent. She wants to annoy me. There is another staircase for going down into the other apartment. I will shut up this door.
Mad. Do not be offended, sir; as to myself, I assure you—
Ger. [He wants to go into his room, but not to pass Madame D., and says to Piccardo.] Tell me, is Dorval in my room?
Pic. Yes, sir.
Mad. [Perceiving the embarrassment of Geronte, steps back.] Pass on, sir; I will not be in your way.
Ger. [Passing, salutes her.] My lady—I will shut up the door. [Goes into his room, and Piccardo follows him.]
Mad. What a strange character! but it is not this that disturbs me. What distresses me is the anxious manner of my husband, and Angelica's words. I doubt; I fear; I wish to know the truth, and dread to discover it.





Scene I.—Geronte and Dorval.

Ger. Let us go on with our game, and talk no more of it.
Dor. But it concerns your nephew.
Ger. A blockhead! A helpless creature, who is the slave of his wife, and the victim of his vanity.
Dor. More gentleness, my friend, more gentleness.
Ger. And you, with your calmness, you will drive me mad.
Dor. What I say is right.
Ger. Take a chair. [Sits down.]
Dor. [In a compassionate tone, while he is going to the chair.] Poor young man!
Ger. Let us see the game of yesterday.
Dor. [In the same tone.] You will lose—
Ger. Perhaps not; let us see—
Dor. I say you will lose—
Ger. No, I am sure not.
Dor. Unless you assist him, you will certainly lose him.
Ger. Lose whom?
Dor. Your nephew.
Ger. [With impatience.] Eh! I was speaking of the game. Sit down.
Dor. I will play willingly, but first listen to me—
Ger. You are always talking to me of Dalancourt.
Dor. Well, if it be so?
Ger. I will not listen to you.
Dor. Then you hate him—
Ger. No, sir, I hate nobody.
Dor. But if you do not wish—
Ger. No more—play. Let us go on with the game, or I shall go away.
Dor. One single word, and I have done.
Ger. Very well.
Dor. You have some property?
Ger. Yes, thank Heaven!
Dor. More than you want?
Ger. Yes, some over with which I can serve my friends.
Dor. And you will give nothing to your nephew?
Ger. Not a farthing.
Dor. It follows—
Ger. It follows?
Dor. That you hate him.
Ger. It follows that you do not know what you say. I hate, I detest his manner of thinking, his abominable conduct; to give him money would be only to nourish his vanity, his prodigality, his folly. Let him change his system, and I will change when he does. I wish repentance to deserve favours, not favours to prevent repentance.
Dor. [After a moment's silence, he seems convinced, and says, with much gentleness] Let us play.
Ger. Let us play.
Dor. I am distressed at it. }[Playing.]
Ger. Check to the king.
Dor. And this poor girl!
Ger. Who?
Dor. Angelica.
Ger. [Leaving the game.] Ah, as to her, it is another affair. Speak to me of her.
Dor. She must suffer, too.
Ger. I have thought of it, and have foreseen it. I shall marry her.
Dor. Excellent! she deserves it.
Ger. Is she not a most engaging young lady?
Dor. Yes, truly.
Ger. Happy is the man who shall possess her. [Reflects a moment, and then calls] Dorval!
Dor. My friend?
Ger. Hear me.
Dor. [Rising.] What would you say?
Ger. If you wish her, I will give her to you.
Dor. Who?
Ger. My niece.
Dor. What?
Ger. What! what! are you deaf? Do you not understand me? [Animated.] I speak clearly—if you wish to have her, I give her to you.
Dor. Ah! ah!
Ger. And if you marry her, besides her fortune, I will give her of my own a hundred thousand francs. Eh! what say you to it?
Dor. My friend, you do me much honour.
Ger. I know who you are; I am certain by this step to secure the happiness of my niece.
Dor. But—
Ger. But what?
Dor. Her brother?
Ger. Her brother! Her brother has nothing to do with it; it is for me to dispose of her; the law, the will of my brother—I am master here. Come, make haste, decide upon the spot.
Dor. Your proposal is not to be decided on in a moment. You are too impetuous.
Ger. I see no obstacle; if you love her, if you esteem her, if she suits you, it is all done.
Dor. But—
Ger. But—but—Let us hear your but.
Dor. Does the disproportion between sixteen and forty-five years appear to you a trifle?
Ger. Nothing at all. You are still a young man; and I know Angelica, she has no foolish notions.
Dor. She may have a liking for some other person?
Ger. She has none.
Dor. Are you sure of it?
Ger. Most certain; quick—let us conclude it. I will go to my notary's; he shall draw up the contract: she is yours.
Dor. Softly, my friend, softly.
Ger. [With heat.] What now? Do you wish still to vex me—to annoy me with your slowness—with your cold blood?
Dor. Then you wish—
Ger. Yes, to give you a sensible, honest, virtuous girl, with a hundred thousand crowns for her fortune, and a hundred thousand livres at her marriage. Perhaps I affront you?
Dor. By no means; you do me an honour I do not deserve.
Ger. [With warmth.] Your modesty on this occasion is most inopportune.
Dor. Do not get angry; do you wish me to take her?
Ger. Yes.
Dor. Then I take her—
Ger. [With joy.] Indeed!
Dor. But on condition—
Ger. Of what?
Dor. That Angelica consents to it.
Ger. Do you make no other obstacle?
Dor. No other.
Ger. I am delighted. I answer for her.
Dor. So much the better if you are sure.
Ger. Most sure—most certain. Embrace me, my dear nephew.
Dor. Let us embrace, my dear uncle.
[Dalancourt enters by the middle door; sees his
uncle; listens as he passes; goes towards his
own apartment, but stops at his own door
to listen
Ger. This is the happiest day of my life.
Dor. My dear friend, how very kind you are!
Ger. I am going to the notary's. This very day it shall all be concluded. [Calls.] Piccardo!
Enter Piccardo.
Ger. My cane and hat.
[Exit Piccardo.
Dor. I will now go home.
[Piccardo returns, and gives his master his cane
and hat, and withdraws
. Dalancourt is
still at his door
Ger. No, no, you must wait here for me; I will soon return. You must dine with me.
Dor. I have to write; I must send for my agent, who is a league from Paris.
Ger. Go into my room and write; send your letter by Piccardo. Yes, Piccardo will carry it himself; Piccardo is an excellent young man—sensible—faithful. Sometimes I scold him, but I am very fond of him.
Dor. Well, since you are determined, it shall be so; I will write in your room.
Ger. Now it is all concluded.
Dor. Yes, we agree.
Ger. [Taking his hand.] Your word of honour?
Dor. [Giving his hand.] My word of honour.
Ger. My dear nephew!
[Exit at the last words, showing joy.
Scene II.—Dalancourt and Dorval.
Dor. In truth, all this seems to me a dream. I marry!—I, who have never thought of such a thing!
Dal. Ah, my dear friend, I know not how to express my gratitude to you.
Dor. For what?
Dal. Did I not hear what my uncle said? He loves me, he feels for me; he has gone to his notary; he has given you his word of honour. I see plainly what you have done for me; I am the most fortunate man in the world.
Dor. Do not flatter yourself so much, my dear friend, for the good fortune you imagine has not the least foundation in truth.
Dal. How then?
Dor. I hope, in time, to be able to do you a service with him; and hereafter I may have some title to interest myself in your behalf; but till then—
Dal. [With warmth.] For what, then, did he give you his word of honour?
Dor. I will tell you at once; he did me the honour to propose your sister to me as a wife.
Dal. [With joy.] My sister! Do you accept?
Dor. Yes, if you approve it.
Dal. You overwhelm me with joy; you surprise me. As regards her fortune, you know my situation.
Dor. About that we will say nothing.
Dal. My dear brother, let me, with all my heart, embrace you.
Dor. I flatter myself that your uncle on this occasion—
Dal. Here is a connection to which I shall owe my happiness. I am in great need of it. I have been to my lawyer's, and did not find him.
Enter Madame Dalancourt.
Dal. [Seeing his wife.] Ah, Madame!
Mad. [To Dalancourt.] I have been waiting for you with impatience. I heard your voice.
Dal. My wife, here is Signor Dorval; I present him to you as my brother-in-law, as the husband of Angelica.
Mad. [With joy.] Indeed!
Dor. I shall be highly pleased, Madame, if my happiness meets with your approbation.
Mad. I am rejoiced at it, sir; I congratulate you with all my heart. [Aside.] What did he mean by speaking of the embarrassments of my husband?
Dal. [To Dorval.] Is my sister informed of it?
Dor. I think not.
Mad. [Aside.] Then it was not Dalancourt who made the match.
Dal. Do you wish me to bring her here?
Dor. No, do not bring her; there may still be a difficulty.
Dal. What is it?
Dor. Her consent.
Dal. Fear nothing; I know Angelica, and your circumstances and merit. Leave it to me; I will speak to my sister.
Dor. No, my dear friend, do not, I beg you, do not let us spoil the affair; leave it to Signor Geronte.
Dal. As you please.
Mad. [Aside.] I comprehend nothing of all this.
Dor. I am going into your uncle's room to write; he has given me permission, and he has told me expressly to wait for him there, so excuse me; we shall soon see each other again.
[Exit into Geronte's apartment.
Scene III.—Dalancourt and Madame Dalancourt.
Mad. From what I hear, it appears you are not the person who marries your sister?
Dal. [Embarrassed.] My uncle marries her.
Mad. Has your uncle mentioned it to you? Has he asked your consent?
Dal. [With a little warmth.] My consent! Did you not see Dorval? Did he not tell me of it? Do you not call this asking my consent?
Mad. [A little warmly.] Yes. It is an act of civility on the part of Dorval, but your uncle has said nothing to you.
Dal. [Embarrassed.] What do you mean by that?
Mad. I mean, he thinks us of no account.
Dal. [Warmly.] You take the worst view of everything. This is terrible! You are insupportable.
Mad. [Mortified.] I insupportable! you find me insupportable! [With much tenderness.] Ah, my husband! this is the first time such an expression has ever escaped from your lips. You must be in a state of great uneasiness so to forget your affection for me.
Dal. [Aside.] Ah! too true.—My dear wife, I ask your pardon with all my heart. But you know my uncle; do you desire to offend him still more? Do you wish me to hinder my sister? The match is a good one; nothing can be said against it. My uncle has chosen it; so much the better. Here is one embarrassment the less for you and me. [With joy.]
Mad. Come, come, I am glad you take it in good part; I praise and admire your conduct. But permit me to make one suggestion: Who is to attend to the necessary preparations for a young lady going to be married? Is your uncle to have this trouble? Will it be proper? will it be correct?
Dal. You are right; but there is time, we will talk of it.
Mad. Hear me: you know I love Angelica. The ungrateful girl does not deserve I should care for her; but she is your sister.
Dal. How! you call my sister ungrateful! Why so?
Mad. Do not let us speak of it now; some other time, when we are alone, I will explain to you. And then—
Dal. No; I wish to hear it now.
Mad. Have patience, my dear husband.
Dal. No, I tell you; I wish to know at once.
Mad. Well, as you wish it, I must satisfy you.
Dal. [Aside.] How I tremble!
Mad. Your sister—
Dal. Proceed.
Mad. I believe she is too much on your uncle's side.
Dal. Why?
Mad. She told me—yes, me—that your affairs were embarrassed, and that—
Dal. That my affairs were embarrassed;—and do you believe it?
Mad. No. But she spoke to me in such a manner as to make me think she suspected I was the cause of it, or at least, that I had contributed to it.
Dal. [A little excitedly.] You! she suspects you!
Mad. Do not be angry, my dear husband. I know very well her want of judgment.
Dal. [With feeling.] My dear wife!
Mad. Do not be distressed. Believe me, I shall think no more of it. It all arises from him; your uncle is the cause of it all.
Dal. Oh no! my uncle has not a bad heart.
Mad. He not a bad heart? Heavens! the worst in the world! Has he not shown it to me?—But I forgive him.
Enter a Servant.
Ser. Here is a letter for you, sir.
Dal. Give it to me. [He takes the letter. Exit Servant.] Let us see it. [Agitated.] This is the hand of my lawyer. [Opens the letter.]
Mad. What does he write?
Dal. Excuse me for a moment. [He retires apart, reads, and shows displeasure.]
Mad. [Aside.] There must be some bad news.
Dal. [Aside, after reading the letter.] I am ruined!
Mad. [Aside.] My heart beats!
Dal. [Aside.] My poor wife! what will become of her? How can I tell her?—I have not the courage.
Mad. [Weeping.] My dear Dalancourt, tell me, what is it? Trust your wife: am I not the best friend you have?
Dal. Take it and read: this is my situation. [Gives her the letter.][Exit.
Madame Dalancourt, alone.
Mad. I tremble.—[Reads.] "Sir, all is lost; the creditors will not subscribe. The decree was confirmed. I inform you of it as soon as possible; be on your guard, for your arrest is ordered."—What do I read! what do I read! My husband in debt, in danger of losing his liberty! Can it be possible? He does not gamble, he has no bad habits; he is not addicted to unusual luxury.—By his own fault—may it not then be my fault? Oh, God! what a dreadful ray of light breaks in upon me! The reproofs of Angelica, the hatred of Signor Geronte, the contempt he shows for me, day after day! The bandage is torn from my eyes: I see the errors of my husband, I see my own. Too much love has been his fault, my inexperience has made me blind. Dalancourt is culpable, and I perhaps am equally so. What remedy is there in this cruel situation? His uncle only—yes—his uncle can help him;—but Dalancourt—he must be now in a state of humiliation and distress—and if I am the cause of it, though involuntarily, why do I not go myself? Yes—I ought to throw myself at Geronte's feet—but, with his severe, unyielding temper, can I flatter myself I shall make any impression on him? Shall I go and expose myself to his rudeness? Ah! what matters it? Ah! what is my mortification compared to the horrible condition of my husband? Yes, I will run! This thought alone ought to give me courage. [She goes towards Geronte's apartment.]
Enter Martuccia.
Mar. Madame, what are you doing here? Signor Dalancourt is in despair.
Mad. Heavens! I fly to his assistance.[Exit.
Mar. What misfortunes!—what confusion! If it be true she is the cause of it, she well deserves—Who comes here?
Enter Valerio.
Mar. Why, sir, do you come here now? You have chosen an unfortunate time. All the family is overwhelmed with sorrow.
Val. I do not doubt it. I just come from Signor Dalancourt's lawyer. I have offered him my purse and my credit.
Mar. This is a praiseworthy action. Nothing can be more generous than your conduct.
Val. Is Signor Geronte at home?
Mar. No; the servant told me he saw him with his notary.
Val. With his notary?
Mar. Yes; he is always occupied with some business. But do you wish to speak with him?
Val. Yes, I wish to speak with them all. I see with sorrow the confusion of Dalancourt's affairs. I am alone. I have property, and can dispose of it. I love Angelica, and am come to offer to marry her without a portion, and to share with her my lot and my fortune.
Mar. This resolution is worthy of you. No one could show more esteem, more love, and more generosity.
Val. Do you think I may flatter myself?—
Mar. Yes, and especially as she enjoys the favour of her uncle, and he desires to marry her.
Val. [With joy.] He desires to marry her?
Mar. Yes.
Val. But if he wishes to marry her, he also wishes to propose a match that is to his taste?
Mar. [After a moment's silence.] It may be so.
Val. And can this be any comfort to me?
Mar. Why not? [To Angelica, who enters timidly.] Come in, my young lady.
Ang. I am terribly frightened.
Val. [To Angelica.] What is the matter?
Ang. My poor brother—
Mar. Is he just the same?
Ang. Rather better. He is a little more tranquil.
Mar. Hear me. This gentleman has told me something very consoling for you and for your brother.
Ang. For him too?
Mar. If you knew what a sacrifice he is disposed to make!
Val. [Aside to Martuccia.] Say nothing of it. [Turning to Angelica.] Can any sacrifice be too great for you?
Mar. But it must be mentioned to Signor Geronte.
Val. My dear friend, if you will take the trouble.
Mar. Willingly. What shall I say to him? Let us see. Advise me. But I hear some one. [She goes towards the apartment of Signor Geronte.] [To Valerio.] It is Signor Dorval. Do not let him see you. Let us go into my room, and there we can talk at our ease.
Val. [To Angelica.] If you see your brother—
Mar. Come, sir, let us go—quick. [She goes out and takes him with her.]
Scene IV.—Angelica, and then Dorval.
Ang. [Aside.] What have I to do with Signor Dorval? I can go away.
Dor. Mademoiselle Angelica!
Ang. Sir?
Dor. Have you seen your uncle? Has he told you nothing?
Ang. I saw him this morning, sir.
Dor. Before he went out of the house?
Ang. Yes, sir.
Dor. Has he returned?
Ang. No, sir.
Dor. [Aside.] Good. She knows nothing of it.
Ang. Excuse me, sir. Is there anything new in which I am concerned?
Dor. Your uncle takes much interest in you.
Ang. [With modesty.] He is very kind.
Dor. [Seriously.] He thinks often of you.
Ang. It is fortunate for me.
Dor. He thinks of marrying you. [Angelica appears modest.] What say you to it? Would you like to be married?
Ang. I depend on my uncle.
Dor. Shall I say anything more to you on the subject?
Ang. [With a little curiosity.] But—as you please, sir.
Dor. The choice of a husband is already made.
Ang. [Aside.] Oh, heavens! I tremble.
Dor. [Aside.] She seems to be pleased.
Ang. [Trembling.] Sir, I am curious to know—
Dor. What, Mademoiselle?
Ang. Do you know who is intended for me?
Dor. Yes, and you know him too.
Ang. [With joy.] I know him too?
Dor. Certainly, you know him.
Ang. May I, sir, have the boldness—
Dor. Speak, Mademoiselle.
Ang. To ask you the name of the young man?
Dor. The name of the young man?
Ang. Yes, if you know him.
Dor. Suppose he were not so young?
Ang. [Aside, with agitation.] Good Heavens!
Dor. You are sensible—you depend on your uncle—
Ang. [Trembling.] Do you think, sir, my uncle would sacrifice me?
Dor. What do you mean by sacrificing you?
Ang. Mean—without the consent of my heart. My uncle is so good—But who could have advised him—who could have proposed this match? [With temper.]
Dor. [A little hurt.] But this match—Mademoiselle—Suppose it were I?
Ang. [With joy.] You, sir? Heaven grant it!
Dor. [Pleased.] Heaven grant it?
Ang. Yes, I know you; I know you are reasonable. You are sensible; I can trust you. If you have given my uncle this advice, if you have proposed this match, I hope you will now find some means of making him change his plan.
Dor. [Aside.] Eh! this is not so bad.—[To Angelica.] Mademoiselle—
Ang. [Distressed.] Signor?
Dor. [With feeling.] Is your heart engaged?
Ang. Ah, sir—
Dor. I understand you.
Ang. Have pity on me!
Dor. [Aside.] I said so, I foresaw right; it is fortunate for me I am not in love—yet I began to perceive some little symptoms of it.
Ang. But you do not tell me, sir.
Dor. But, Mademoiselle—
Ang. You have perhaps some particular interest in the person they wish me to marry?
Dor. A little.
Ang. [With temper and firmness.] I tell you I shall hate him.
Dor. [Aside.] Poor girl! I am pleased with her sincerity.
Ang. Come, have compassion; be generous.
Dor. Yes, I will be so, I promise you; I will speak to your uncle in your favour, and will do all I can to make you happy.
Ang. [With joy and transport.] Oh, how dear a man you are! You are my benefactor, my father. [Takes his hand.]
Dor. My dear girl!
Enter Geronte.
Ger. [In his hot-tempered manner, with animation.] Excellent, excellent! Courage, my children, I am delighted with you. [Angelica retires, mortified; Dorval smiles.] How! does my presence alarm you? I do not condemn this proper show of affection. You have done well, Dorval, to inform her. Come, my niece, embrace your future husband.
Ang. [In consternation.] What do I hear?
Dor. [Aside and smiling.] Now I am unmasked.
Ger. [To Angelica, with warmth.] What scene is this? Your modesty is misplaced. When I am not present, you are near enough to each other; when I come in, you go far apart. Come here.—[To Dorval, with anger.] And do you too come here.
Dor. [Laughing.] Softly, my friend.
Ger. Why do you laugh? Do you feel your happiness? I am very willing you should laugh, but do not put me in a passion; do you hear, you laughing gentleman? Come here and listen to me.
Dor. But listen yourself.
Ger. [To Angelica, and endeavouring to take her hand.] Come near, both of you.
Ang. [Weeping.] My uncle!
Ger. Weeping! What's the matter, my child? I believe you are making a jest of me. [Takes her hand, and carries her by force to the middle of the stage; then turns to Dorval, and says to him, with an appearance of heat] You shall escape me no more.
Dor. At least let me speak.
Ger. No, no!
Ang. My dear uncle—
Ger. [With warmth.] No, no. [He changes his tone and becomes serious.] I have been to my notary's, and have arranged everything; he has taken a note of it in my presence, and will soon bring the contract here for us to subscribe.
Dor. But will you listen to me?
Ger. No, no. As to her fortune, my brother had the weakness to leave it in the hands of his son; this will no doubt cause some obstacle on his part, but it will not embarrass me. Every one who has transactions with him suffers. The fortune cannot be lost, and in any event I will be responsible for it.
Ang. [Aside.] I can bear this no longer.
Dor. [Embarrassed.] All proceeds well, but—
Ger. But what?
Dor. The young lady may have something to say in this matter. [Looking at Angelica.]
Ang. [Hastily and trembling.] I, sir?
Ger. I should like to know if she can say anything against what I do, what I order, and what I wish. My wishes, my orders, and what I do, are all for her good. Do you understand me?
Dor. Then I must speak myself.
Ger. What have you to say?
Dor. That I am very sorry, but this marriage cannot take place.
Ger. Not take place! [Angelica retreats frightened; Dorval also steps back two paces.] [To Dorval.] You have given me your word of honour.
Dor. Yes, on condition—
Ger. [Turning to Angelica.] It must then be this impertinent. If I could believe it! if I had any reason to suspect it! [Threatens her.]
Dor. [Seriously.] No, sir, you are mistaken.
Ger. [To Dorval. Angelica seizes the opportunity and makes her escape.] It is you, then, who refuse? So you abuse my friendship and affection for you!
Dor. [Raising his voice.] But hear reason—
Ger. What reason? what reason? There is no reason. I am a man of honour, and if you are so too, it shall be done at once. [Turning round, he calls] Angelica!
Dor. What possesses the man? He will resort to violence on the spot. [Runs off.]
Geronte, alone.
Ger. Where is she gone? Angelica! Hallo! who's there? Piccardo! Martuccia! Pietro! Cortese!—But I'll find her. It is you I want. [Turns round, and, not seeing Dorval, remains motionless.] What! he treat me so! [Calls.] Dorval! my friend! Dorval—Dorval! my friend! Oh, shameful—ungrateful! Hallo! Is no one there? Piccardo!
Enter Piccardo.
Pic. Here, sir.
Ger. You rascal! Why don't you answer?
Pic. Pardon me, sir, here I am.
Ger. Shameful! I called you ten times.
Pic. I am sorry, but—
Ger. Ten times! It is scandalous.
Pic. [Aside, and angry.] He is in a fury now.
Ger. Have you seen Dorval?
Pic. Yes, sir.
Ger. Where is he?
Pic. He is gone.
Ger. How is he gone?
Pic. [Roughly.] He is gone as other people go.
Ger. Ah, insolent! do you answer your master in this manner? [Very much offended, he threatens him and makes him retreat.]
Pic. [Very angrily.] Give me my discharge, sir.
Ger. Your discharge—worthless fellow! [Threatens him and makes him retreat. Piccardo falls between the chair and the table. Geronte runs to his assistance and helps him up.]
Pic. Oh! [He leans on the chair, and shows much pain.]
Ger. Are you hurt? Are you hurt?
Pic. Very much hurt; you have crippled me.
Ger. Oh, I am sorry! Can you walk?
Pic. [Still angry.] I believe so, sir. [He tries, and walks badly.]
Ger. [Sharply.] Go on.
Pic. [Mortified.] Do you drive me away, sir?
Ger. [Warmly.] No. Go to your wife's house, that you may be taken care of. [Pulls out his purse and offers him money.] Take this to get cured.
Pic. [Aside, with tenderness.] What a master!
Ger. Take it. [Giving him money.]
Pic. [With modesty.] No, sir, I hope it will be nothing.
Ger. Take it, I tell you.
Pic. [Still refusing it.] Sir—
Ger. [Very warmly.] What! you refuse my money? Do you refuse it from pride, or spite, or hatred? Do you believe I did it on purpose? Take this money. Take it. Come, don't put me in a passion.
Pic. Do not get angry, sir. I thank you for all your kindness. [Takes the money.]
Ger. Go quickly.
Pic. Yes, sir. [Walks badly.]
Ger. Go slowly.
Pic. Yes, sir.
Ger. Wait, wait; take my cane.
Pic. Sir—
Ger. Take it, I tell you! I wish you to do it.
Pic. [Takes the cane.] What goodness! [Exit.
Enter Martuccia.
Ger. It is the first time in my life that—Plague on my temper! [Taking long strides.] It is Dorval who put me in a passion.
Mar. Do you wish to dine, sir?
Ger. May the devil take you! [Runs out and shuts himself in his room.]
Mar. Well, well! He is in a rage: I can do nothing for Angelica to-day; Valerio can go away. [Exit.





Scene I.—Piccardo and Martuccia.

Mar. What, have you returned already?
Pic. [With his master's cane.] Yes, I limp a little: but I was more frightened than hurt; it was not worth the money my master gave me to get cured.
Mar. It seems misfortunes are sometimes profitable.
Pic. [With an air of satisfaction.] Poor master! On my honour, this instance of his goodness affected me so much, I could hardly help shedding tears; if he had broken my leg, I should have forgiven him.
Mar. What a heart he has! Pity he has so great a failing.
Pic. But what man is there without defects?
Mar. Go and look for him; you know he has not dined yet.
Pic. Why not?
Mar. My son, there are misfortunes, terrible misfortunes, in this house.
Pic. I know all; I met your nephew, he told me all: this the reason I have returned so soon. Does my master know it?
Mar. I think not.
Pic. Ah, how it will distress him!
Mar. Certainly—and poor Angelica.
Pic. But Valerio?
Mar. Valerio—Valerio is here now; he will not go away. He is still in the apartment of Signor Dalancourt: encourages the brother, takes care of the sister, consoles Madame;—one weeps, another sighs, the other is in despair; all is in confusion.
Pic. Did you not promise to speak to my master?
Mar. Yes, I should have spoken to him, but he is too angry just now.
Pic. I am going to look for him, to carry him his cane.
Mar. Go; and if you see the tempest a little calmed, tell him something concerning the unhappy state of his nephew.
Pic. Yes, I'll speak to him, and I'll let you know what passes. [Opens the door softly, enters the room, and then shuts it.]
Mar. Yes, dear friend, go softly.—This Piccardo is an excellent young man, amiable, polite, obliging; he is the only person in the house to my liking. I do not so easily become friends with everybody.
Enter Dorval.
Dor. [In a low tone, and smiling.] Ah, Martuccia!
Mar. Your servant, sir.
Dor. Is Signor Geronte still angry?
Mar. It would not be strange if the storm were over. You know him better than any one else.
Dor. He is very angry with me.
Mar. With you, sir? He angry with you!
Dor. [Smiling.] There is no doubt of it; but it is nothing; I know him. I am sure as soon as we meet he will be the first to embrace me.
Mar. Nothing is more likely. He loves you, esteems you, you are his only friend. It is singular—he, a man always in a passion, and you—I say it with respect—the most tranquil man in the world.
Dor. It is exactly for this reason our friendship has continued so long.
Mar. Go and look for him.
Dor. No; it is too soon. I want first to see Angelica. Where is she?
Mar. With her brother. You know the misfortunes of her brother?
Dor. [With an expression of sorrow.] Ah, too well: everybody is talking of them.
Mar. And what do they say?
Dor. Don't ask me: the good pity him, the hard-hearted make a jest of him, and the ungrateful abandon him.
Mar. Oh, Heaven! And the poor girl?
Dor. Must I speak of her too?
Mar. May I ask how she will fare in this confusion? I take so much interest in her, that you ought to tell me.
Dor. [Smiling.] I have learned that one Valerio—
Mar. Ah, ah! Valerio!
Dor. Do you know him?
Mar. Very well, sir; it is all my own work.
Dor. So much the better; will you aid me?
Mar. Most willingly.
Dor. I must go and be certain if Angelica—
Mar. And also if Valerio—
Dor. Yes, I will go to him too.
Mar. Go then into Dalancourt's apartment; you will there kill two birds with one stone.
Dor. How?
Mar. He is there.
Dor. Valerio?
Mar. Yes.
Dor. I am glad of it; I will go at once.
Mar. Stop; shall I not tell him you are coming?
Dor. Good! such ceremony with my brother-in-law!
Mar. Your brother-in-law?
Dor. Yes.
Mar. How?
Dor. Do you not know?
Mar. Nothing at all.
Dor. Then you shall know another time. [Goes into Dalancourt's apartment.]
Mar. He is out of his senses.
Enter Geronte.
Ger. [Speaking while he is turning towards the door of his room.] Stop there, I will send the letter by some one else; stop there, it shall be so. [Turning to Martuccia.] Martuccia!
Mar. Sir?
Ger. Get a servant to take this letter directly to Dorval. [Turning towards the door of his apartment.] He is not well, he walks lame, and yet he would take it. [To Martuccia.] Go.
Mar. But, sir—
Ger. Well, let us hear.
Mar. But Dorval—
Ger. [Impatiently.] Yes, to Dorval's house.
Mar. He is here.
Ger. Who?
Mar. Dorval.
Ger. Where?
Mar. Here.
Ger. Dorval here?
Mar. Yes, sir.
Ger. Where is he?
Mar. In Signor Dalancourt's room.
Ger. [Angrily.] In Dalancourt's room! Dorval in Dalancourt's room! Now I see how it is, I understand it all. Go and tell Dorval from me—but no—I do not want you to go into that cursed room; if you set your foot in it, I will discharge you. Call one of the servants of that fellow—no, I don't want any of them—go yourself—yes, yes, tell him to come directly—do you hear?
Mar. Shall I go, or not go?
Ger. Go! don't make me more impatient. [Martuccia goes into Dalancourt's room.]
Geronte, alone.
Ger. Yes, it must be so; Dorval has discovered into what a terrible abyss this wretched man has fallen; yes, he knew it before I did, and if Piccardo had not told me, I should be still in the dark. It is exactly so. Dorval fears a connection with a ruined man; that is it. But I must look further into it to be more certain. Yet why not tell me? I would have persuaded him—I would have convinced him.—But why did he not tell me? He will say, perhaps, that my violence did not give him an opportunity. This is no excuse: he should have waited, he should not have gone away; my resentment would have been over, and he might have spoken to me. Unworthy, treacherous, perfidious nephew! you have sacrificed your happiness and your honour. I love you, culpable as you are. Yes, I love you too much; but I will discard you from my heart and from my thoughts. Go hence—go and perish in some other place. But where can he go? No matter, I'll think of him no more;—your sister alone interests me; she only deserves my tenderness, my kindness. Dorval is my friend; Dorval shall marry her. I will give them all my estate—I will leave the guilty to their punishment, but will never abandon the innocent.
Scene II.Enter Dalancourt.
Dal. Ah, my uncle, hear me for pity's sake! [He throws himself in great agitation at Geronte's feet.]
Ger. [Sees Dalancourt, then draws back a little.] What do you want? Rise.
Dal. [In the same posture.] My dear uncle, you see the most unhappy of men; have mercy! listen to me!
Ger. [A little moved, but still in anger.] Rise, I say.
Dal. [On his knees.] You, who have a heart so generous, so feeling, will you abandon me for a fault which is the fault of love only, and an honest, virtuous love? I have certainly done wrong in not profiting by your advice, in disregarding your paternal tenderness; but, my dear uncle, in the name of your brother, to whom I owe my life, of that blood which flows in the veins of us both, let me move you—let me soften your feelings.
Ger. [By degrees relents, wipes his eyes, yet not letting Dalancourt see, and says in a low tone] What! you have still the courage?
Dal. It is not the loss of fortune that afflicts me; a sentiment more worthy of you oppresses me—my honour. Can you bear the disgrace of a nephew? I ask nothing of you; if I can preserve my reputation, I give you my word, for myself and my wife, that want shall have no terrors for us, if, in the midst of our misery, we can have the consolation of an unsullied character, our mutual love, and your affection and esteem.
Ger. Wretched man! you deserve—but I am weak; this foolish regard for blood speaks in favour of this ingrate. Rise, sir; I will pay your debts, and perhaps place you in a situation to contract others.
Dal. [Moved.] Ah, no, my uncle! I promise you, you shall see in my conduct hereafter—
Ger. What conduct, inconsiderate man? That of an infatuated husband who suffers himself to be guided by the caprices of his wife, a vain, presumptuous, thoughtless woman—
Dal. No, I swear to you, my wife is not in fault; you do not know her.
Ger. [Still more excited.] You defend her? You maintain what is false in my presence? Take care! but a little more, and on account of your wife I will retract my promise; yes, yes, I will retract it—you shall have nothing of mine. Your wife!—I cannot bear her. I will not see her.
Dal. Ah, my uncle, you tear my heart!
Enter Madame Dalancourt.
Mad. Ah, sir! you think me the cause of all the misfortunes of your nephew; it is right that I alone should bear the punishment. The ignorance in which I have lived till now, I see, is not a sufficient excuse in your eyes. Young, inexperienced, I have suffered myself to be guided by a husband who loved me. The world had attractions for me; evil examples seduced me. I was satisfied, and thought myself happy, but I am guilty in appearance, and that is enough. That my husband may be worthy of your kindness, I submit to your fatal decree. I will withdraw from your presence, yet I ask one favour of you: moderate your anger against me; pardon me—my youth—have compassion on my husband, whom too much love—
Ger. Ah, Madame, perhaps you think to overcome me?
Mad. Oh, Heaven! Is there no hope? Ah, my dear Dalancourt, I have then ruined you! I die. [Falls on a sofa.]
Ger. [Disturbed, moved with tenderness.] Hallo! who's there? Martuccia!
Enter Martuccia.
Mar. Here, sir.
Ger. Look there—quick—go—see to her; do something for her assistance.
Mar. My lady! What's the matter?
Ger. [Giving a phial to Martuccia.] Take it. Here's Cologne water. [To Dalancourt.] What is the matter?
Dal. Ah, my uncle!
Ger. [To Madame D., in a rough tone.] How are you?
Mad. [Rising languidly, and in a weak voice.] You are too kind, sir, to interest yourself in me. Do not mind my weakness—feelings will show themselves. I shall recover my strength. I will go, my—I will resign myself to my misfortunes.
Ger. [Affected, does not speak.]
Dal. [Distressed.] Ah, my uncle! can you suffer—
Ger. [With warmth to Dalancourt.] Be silent!—[To Madame D., roughly.] Remain in this house with your husband.
Mad. Ah, sir! ah!
Dal. [With transport.] Ah, my dear uncle!
Ger. [In a serious tone, but without anger, taking their hands.] Hear me: my savings are not on my own account; you would one day have known it. Make use of them now; the source is exhausted, and henceforth you must be prudent. If gratitude does not influence you, honour should at least keep you right.
Mad. Your goodness—
Dal. Your generosity—
Ger. Enough! enough!
Mar. Sir—
Ger. Do you be silent, babbler!
Mar. Now, sir, that you are in a humour for doing good, don't you mean to do something for Mademoiselle Angelica?
Ger. Well thought of. Where is she?
Mar. She is not far off.
Ger. And where is her betrothed?
Mar. Her betrothed?
Ger. He is perhaps offended at what I said, and will not see me. Is he gone?
Mar. Sir—her betrothed—he is still here.
Ger. Let him come in.
Mar. Angelica and her betrothed?
Ger. Yes, Angelica and her betrothed.
Mar. Admirable! Directly, sir, directly. [Going towards the door.] Come, come, my children; have no fear.
Enter Valerio, Dorval, and Angelica.
Ger. [Seeing Valerio.] What's this? What is this other man doing here?
Mar. They are, sir, the betrothed and the witness.
Ger. [To Angelica.] Come here.
Ang. [Trembling, speaking to Madame D.] Ah, sister! I ought indeed to ask your pardon.
Mar. And I too, Madame.
Ger. [To Dorval.] Come here, Signor Betrothed. What say you? Are you still angry? Will you not come?
Dor. Do you speak to me?
Ger. Yes, to you.
Dor. Pardon me, I am only the witness.
Ger. The witness!
Dor. Yes. I will explain the mystery. If you had permitted me to speak—
Ger. The mystery! [To Angelica.] Is there any mystery?
Dor. [Serious, and in a resolute tone.] Hear me, friends: you know Valerio; he was informed of the misfortune of the family, and had come to offer his fortune to Dalancourt, and his hand to Angelica. He loves her, and is ready to marry her with nothing, and to settle on her an annuity of twelve thousand livres. Your character is known to me, and that you delight in good actions. I have detained him here, and have undertaken to present him.
Ger. You had no attachment, eh? You have deceived me. I will not consent that you shall have him. This is a contrivance on both your parts, and I will never submit to it.
Ang. [Weeping.] My dear uncle!
Val. [In a warm and suppliant manner.] Sir!
Dor. You are so good!
Mad. You are so generous!
Mar. My dear master!
Ger. Plague on my disposition! I cannot continue angry as long as I would. I could willingly beat myself. [All together repeat their entreaties, and surround him.] Be silent! let me alone! May the devil take you all! let him marry her.
Mar. [Earnestly.] Let him marry her without a portion!
Ger. What, without a portion! I marry my niece without a portion! Am I not in a situation to give her a portion? I know Valerio; the generous action he has just proposed deserves a reward. Yes, let him have her portion, and the hundred thousand livres I have promised Angelica.
Val. What kindness!
Ang. What goodness!
Mad. What a heart!
Dal. What an example!
Mar. Bless my master!
Dor. Bless my good friend!
[All surround him, overwhelm him with caresses,
and repeat his praises.
Ger. [Trying to rid himself of them, shouts] Peace! peace! Piccardo!
Enter Piccardo.
Pic. Here, sir.
Ger. We shall sup in my room; all are invited. Dorval, in the meantime we'll have a game of chess.




This play was originally published in The Plays of Goldoni along with The Fan, A Curious Mishap, and The Spendthrift Miser.

A small number of obvious spelling mistakes have been corrected.

[End of The Beneficent Bear by Carlo Goldoni]