SCENE I.——HARPAGON, A POLICE OFFICER.
Off. Leave that to me. I know my business. Thank Heaven! this is not the first time I have been employed in finding out thieves; and I wish I had as many bags of a thousand francs as I have had people hanged.
Har. Every magistrate must take this affair in hand; and if my money is not found, I shall call justice against justice itself.
Off. We must take all needful steps. You say there was in that casket…?
Har. Ten thousand crowns in cash.
Off. Ten thousand crowns!
Har. Ten thousand crowns.
Off. A considerable theft.
Har. There is no punishment great enough for the enormity of the crime; and if it remain unpunished, the most sacred things are no longer secure.
Off. In what coins was that sum?
Har. In good louis d'or and pistoles of full weight.
Off. Whom do you suspect of this robbery?
Har. Everybody. I wish you to take into custody the whole town and suburbs.
Off. You must not, if you trust me, frighten anybody, but must use gentle means to collect evidence, in order afterwards to proceed with more rigour for the recovery of the sum which has been taken from you.
SCENE II.——HARPAGON, THE POLICE OFFICER, MASTER JACQUES.
Jac. (at the end of the stage, turning back to the door by which he came in). I am coming back. Have his throat cut at once; have his feet singed; put him in boiling water, and hang him up to the ceiling.
Har. What! Him who has robbed me?
Jac. I was speaking of a sucking pig that your steward has just sent me; and I want to have it dressed for you after my own fancy.
Har. This is no longer the question; and you have to speak of something else to this gentleman.
Off. (to Jacques). Don't get frightened. I am not a man to cause any scandal, and matters will be carried on by gentle means.
Jac. (to Harpagon). Is this gentleman coming to supper with you?
Off. You must, in this case, my good man, hide nothing from your master.
Jac. Indeed, Sir, I will show you all I know, and will treat you in the best manner I possibly can.
Off. That's not the question.
Jac. If I do not give as good fare as I should like, it is the fault of your steward, who has clipped my wings with the scissors of his economy.
Har. R ascal! We have other matters to talk about than your supper; and I want you to tell me what has become of the money which has been stolen from me.
Jac. Some money has been stolen from you?
Har. Yes, you rascal! And I'll have you hanged if you don't give it me back again.
Off. (to Harpagon). Pray, don't be hard upon him. I see by his looks that he is an honest fellow, and that he will tell you all you want to know without going to prison. Yes, my friend, if you confess, no harm shall come to you, and you shall be well rewarded by your master. Some money has been stolen from him, and it is not possible that you know nothing about it.
Jac. (aside). The very thing I wanted in order to be revenged of our steward. Ever since he came here, he has been the favourite, and his advice is the only one listened to. Moreover, I have forgotten neither the cudgelling of to-day nor …
Har. What are you muttering about there?
Off. (to Harpagon). Leave him alone. He is preparing himself to satisfy you; I told you that he was an honest fellow.
Jac. Sir, since you want me to tell you what I know, I believe it is your steward who has done this.
Har. He who seemed so faithful to me!
Jac. Himself. I believe that it is he who has robbed you.
Har. And what makes you believe it?
Jac. What makes me believe it?
Jac. I believe it … because I believe it.
Off. But you must tell us the proofs you have.
Har. Did you see him hanging about the place where I had put my money?
Jac. Yes, indeed. Where was your money?
Har. In the garden.
Jac. Exactly; I saw him loitering about in the garden; and in what was your money?
Har. In a casket.
Jac. The very thing. I saw him with a casket.
Har. And this casket, what was it like? I shall soon see if it is mine.
Jac. What it was like?
Jac. It was like … like a casket.
Off. Of course. But describe it a little, to see if it is the same.
Jac. It was a large casket.
Har. The one taken from me is a small one.
Jac. Yes, small if you look at it in that way; but I call it large because of what it contains.
Har. And what colour was it?
Jac. What colour?
Jac. Of a colour … of a certain colour…. Can't you help me to find the word?
Jac. Red; isn't it?
Har. No, grey.
Jac. Ha! yes, reddish-grey! That's what I meant.
Har. There is no doubt about it, it's my casket for certain. Write down his evidence, Sir! Heavens! whom can we trust after that? We must never swear to anything, and I believe now that I might rob my own self.
Jac. (to Harpagon). There he is coming back, Sir; I beg of you not to go and tell him that it was I who let it all out, Sir.
SCENE III.——HARPAGON, THE POLICE OFFICER, VALÈRE, MASTER JACQUES.
Har. Come, come near, and confess the most abominable action, the most horrible crime, that was ever committed.
Val. What do you want, Sir?
Har. What, wretch! you do not blush for shame after such a crime?
Val. Of what crime do you speak?
Har. Of what crime I speak? Base villain, as if you did not know what I mean! It is in vain for you to try to hide it; the thing is discovered, and I have just heard all the particulars. How could you thus abuse my kindness, introduce yourself on purpose into my house to betray me, and to play upon me such an abominable trick?
Val. Sir, since everything is known to you, I will neither deny what I have done nor will I try to palliate it.
Jac. (aside). Oh! oh! Have I guessed the truth?
Val. I intended to speak to you about it, and I was watching for a favourable opportunity; but, as this is no longer possible, I beg of you not to be angry, and to hear my motives.
Har. And what fine motives can you possibly give me, infamous thief?
Val. Ah! Sir, I do not deserve these names. I am guilty towards you, it is true; but, after all, my fault is pardonable.
Har. How pardonable? A premeditated trick, and such an assassination as this!
Val. I beseech you not to be so angry with me. When you have heard all I have to say, you will see that the harm is not so great as you make it out to be.
Har. The harm not so great as I make it out to be! What! my heart's blood, scoundrel!
Val. Your blood, Sir, has not fallen into bad hands. My rank is high enough not to disgrace it, and there is nothing in all this for which reparation cannot be made.
Har. It is, indeed, my intention that you should restore what you have taken from me.
Val. Your honour, Sir, shall be fully satisfied.
Har. Honour is not the question in all this. But tell me what made you commit such a deed?
Val. Alas! do you ask it?
Har. Yes, I should rather think that I do.
Val. A god, Sir, who carries with him his excuses for all he makes people do: Love.
Har. Fine love that! fine love, indeed! the love of my gold!
Val. No, Sir, it is not your wealth that has tempted me, it is not that which has dazzled me; and I swear never to pretend to any of your possessions, provided you leave me what I have.
Har. In the name of all the devils, no, I shall not leave it to you. But did anyone ever meet with such villainy! He wishes to keep what he has robbed me of!
Val. Do you call that a robbery?
Har. If I call that a robbery? A treasure like that!
Val. I readily acknowledge that it is a treasure, and the most precious one you have. But it will not be losing it to leave it to me. I ask you on my knees to leave in my possession this treasure so full of charms; and if you do right, you will grant it to me.
Har. I will do nothing of the kind. What in the world are you driving at?
Val. We have pledged our faith to each other, and have taken an oath never to forsake one another.
Har. The oath is admirable, and the promise strange enough!
Val. Yes, we are engaged to each other for ever.
Har. I know pretty well how to disengage you, I assure you of that.
Val. Nothing but death can separate us.
Har. You must be devilishly bewitched by my money.
Val. I have told you already, Sir, that it is not self-interest which has prompted me to what I have done. It was not that which prompted my heart; a nobler motive inspired me.
Har. We shall hear presently that it is out of Christian charity that he covets my money! But I will put a stop to all this, and justice, impudent rascal, will soon give me satisfaction.
Val. You will do as you please, and I am ready to suffer all the violence you care to inflict upon me, but I beg of you to believe, at least, that if there is any harm done, I am the only one guilty, and that your daughter has done nothing wrong in all this.
Har. I should think not! It would be strange, indeed, if my daughter had a share in this crime. But I will have that treasure back again, and you must confess to what place you have carried it off. 6
Val. I have not carried it off, and it is still in your house.
Har. (aside). O my beloved casket! (To Valère) My treasure has not left my house?
Val. No, Sir.
Har. Well, then, tell me, have you taken any liberties with…?
Val. Ah! Sir, you wrong us both; the flame with which I burn is too pure, too full of respect.
Har. (aside). He burns for my casket!
Val. I had rather die than show the least offensive thought: I found too much modesty and too much purity for that.
Har. (aside). My cash-box modest!
Val. All my desires were limited to the pleasures of sight, and nothing criminal has profaned the passion those fair eyes have inspired me with.
Har. (aside). The fair eyes of my cash-box! He speaks of it as a lover does of his mistress.
Val. Dame Claude knows the whole truth, and she can bear witness to it.
Har. Hallo! my servant is an accomplice in this affair?
Val. Yes, Sir, she was a witness to our engagement; and it was after being sure of the innocence of my love that she helped me to persuade your daughter to engage herself to me.
Har. Ah! (Aside) Has the fear of justice made him lose his senses? (To Valère) What rubbish are you talking about my daughter?
Val. I say, Sir, that I found it most difficult to make her modesty consent to what my love asked of her.
Har. The modesty of whom?
Val. Of your daughter; and it was only yesterday that she could make up her mind to sign our mutual promise of marriage.
Har. My daughter has signed a promise of marriage?
Val. Yes, Sir, and I have also signed.
Har. O heavens! another misfortune!
Jac. (to the Officer). Write, Sir, write.
Har. Aggravation of misery! Excess of despair! (To the Officer) Sir, discharge your duty, and draw me up an indictment against him as a thief and a suborner.
Jac. As a thief and a suborner.
Val. These are names which I do not deserve, and when you know who I am …
SCENE IV.——HARPAGON, ÉLISE, MARIANNE, VALÈRE, FROSINE, MASTER JACQUES, THE POLICE OFFICER.
Har. Ah! guilty daughter! unworthy of a father like me! is it thus that you put into practice the lessons I have given you? You give your love to an infamous thief, and engage yourself to him without my consent! But you shall both be disappointed. (To Élise) Four strong walls will answer for your conduct in the future; (to Valère) and good gallows, impudent thief, shall do me justice for your audacity.
Val. Your anger will be no judge in this affair, and I shall at least have a hearing before I am condemned.
Har. I was wrong to say gallows; you shall be broken alive on the wheel.
Eli. (kneeling to her father). Ah! my father, be more merciful, I beseech you, and do not let your paternal authority drive matters to extremes. Do not suffer yourself to be carried away by the first outburst of your anger, but give yourself time to consider what you do. Take the trouble of inquiring about him whose conduct has offended you. He is not what you imagine, and you will think it less strange that I should have given myself to him, when you know that without him you would long ago have lost me for ever. Yes, father, it is he who saved me from the great danger I ran in the waters, and to whom you owe the life of that very daughter who …
Har. All this is nothing; and it would have been much better for me if he had suffered you to be drowned rather than do what he has done.
Eli. My father, I beseech you, in the name of paternal love, grant me …
Har. No, no. I will hear nothing, and justice must have its course.
Jac. (aside). You shall pay me for the blows you gave me.
Fro. What a perplexing state of affairs!
SCENE V.——ANSELME, HARPAGON, ÉLISE, MARIANNE, FROSINE, VALÈRE, THE POLICE OFFICER, MASTER JACQUES.
Ans. What can have happened, Mr. Harpagon? You are quite upset.
Har. Ah, Mr. Anselme, you see in me the most unfortunate of men; and you can never imagine what vexation and disorder is connected with the contract you have come to sign! I am attacked in my property; I am attacked in my honour; and you see there a scoundrel and a wretch who has violated the most sacred rights, who has introduced himself into my house as a servant in order to steal my money, and seduce my daughter.
Val. Who ever thought of your money about which you rave?
Har. Yes; they have given each other a promise of marriage. This insult concerns you, Mr. Anselme; and it is you who ought to be plaintiff against him, and who at your own expense ought to prosecute him to the utmost, in order to be revenged.
Ans. It is not my intention to force anybody to marry me, and to lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself; but as far as your interests are concerned, I am ready to espouse them as if they were my own.
Har. This is the gentleman, an honest commissary, who has promised that he will omit nothing of what concerns the duties of his office. (To the Officer, showing Valère) Charge him, Sir, as he ought to be, and make matters very criminal.
Val. I do not see what crime they can make of my passion for your daughter, nor the punishment you think I ought to be condemned to for our engagement; when it is known who I am …
Har. I don't care a pin for all those stories, and the world is full, nowadays, of those pretenders to nobility, of those impostors, who take advantage of their obscurity and deck themselves out insolently with the first illustrious name that comes into their head.
Val. Know that I am too upright to adorn myself with a name which is not mine, and that all Naples can bear testimony to my birth!
Ans. Softly! Take care of what you are about to say. You speak before a man to whom all Naples is known, and who can soon see if your story is true.
Val. (proudly putting on his hat). I am not the man to fear anything; and if all Naples is known to you, you know who was Don Thomas d'Alburci.
Ans. Certainly; I know who he is, and few people know him better than I do.
Har. I care neither for Don Thomas nor Don Martin. (Seeing two candles burning, he blows one out.)
Ans. Have patience and let him speak; we shall soon know what he has to say of him.
Val. That it is to him that I owe my birth.
Ans. To him?
Ans. Nonsense; you are laughing. Try and make out a more likely story, and don't pretend to shelter yourself under such a piece of imposture.
Val. Consider your words better before you speak; it is no imposture, and I say nothing here that I cannot prove.
Ans. What! You dare to call yourself the son of Don Thomas d'Alburci?
Val. Yes, I dare to do so; and I am ready to maintain the truth against anyone, who ever he may be.
Ans. This audacity is marvellous. Learn to your confusion that it is now at least sixteen years ago since the man of whom you speak died in a shipwreck at sea with his wife and children, when he was trying to save their lives from the cruel persecutions which accompanied the troubles at Naples, and which caused the banishment of several noble families.
Val. Yes; but learn to your confusion that his son, seven years of age, was, with a servant, saved from the wreck by a Spanish vessel, and that this son is he who now speaks to you. Learn that the captain of that ship, touched with compassion at my misfortune, loved me; that he had me brought up as his own son, and that the profession of arms has been my occupation ever since I was fit for it; that lately I heard that my father is not dead, as I thought he was; that, passing this way to go and find him out, an accident, arranged by heaven, brought to my sight the charming Élise; that the sight of her made me a slave to her beauty, and that the violence of my love and the harshness of her father made me take the resolution to come into his house disguised as a servant, and to send some one else to look after my parents.
Ans. But what other proofs have you besides your own words that all this is not a fable based by you upon truth.
Val. What proofs? The captain of the Spanish vessel; a ruby seal which belonged to my father; an agate bracelet which my mother put upon my arm; and old Pedro, that servant who was saved with me from the wreck.
Mar. Alas! I can answer here for what you have said; that you do not deceive us; and all you say clearly tells me that you are my brother.
Val. You my sister!
Mar. Yes, my heart was touched as soon as you began to speak; and our mother, who will be delighted at seeing you, often told me of the misfortunes of our family. Heaven spared us also in that dreadful wreck; but our life was spared at the cost of our liberty, for my mother and myself were taken up by pirates from the wreck of our vessel. After ten years of slavery a lucky event gave us back to liberty, and we returned to Naples, where we found all our property sold, and could hear no news of our father. We embarked for Genoa, where my mother went to gather what remained of a family estate which had been much disputed. Leaving her unjust relatives, she came here, where she has lived but a weary life.
Ans. O heaven! how wonderful are thy doings, and how true it is that it only belongs to thee to work miracles! Come to my arms, my children, and share the joy of your happy father!
Val. You are our father?
Mar. It was for you that my mother wept?
Ans. Yes, my daughter; yes, my son; I am Don Thomas d'Alburci, whom heaven saved from the waves, with all the money he had with him, and who, after sixteen years, believing you all dead, was preparing, after long journeys, to seek the consolations of a new family in marrying a gentle and virtuous woman. The little security there was for my life in Naples has made me abandon the idea of returning there, and having found the means of selling what I had, I settled here under the name of Anselme. I wished to forget the sorrows of a name associated with so many and great troubles.
Har. (to Anselme). He is your son?
Har. That being so, I make you responsible for the ten thousand crowns that he has stolen from me.
Ans. He steal anything from you!
Val. Who said so?
Har. Master Jacques.
Val. (to Master Jacques). You say that?
Jac. You see that I am not saying anything.
Har. He certainly did. There is the officer who has received his deposition.
Val. Can you really believe me capable of such a base action?
Har. Capable or not capable, I must find my money.
SCENE VI.——HARPAGON, ANSELME, ÉLISE, MARIANNE, CLÉANTE, VALÈRE, FROSINE, THE POLICE OFFICER, MASTER JACQUES, LA FLÈCHE.
Cle. Do not grieve for your money, father, and accuse any one. I have news of it, and I come here to tell you that if you consent to let me marry Marianne, your money will be given back to you.
Har. Where is it?
Cle. Do not trouble yourself about that. It is in a safe place, and I answer for it; everything depends on your resolve. It is for you to decide, and you have the choice either of losing Marianne or your cash-box.
Har. Has nothing been taken out?
Cle. Nothing at all. Is it your intention to agree to this marriage, and to join your consent to that of her mother, who leaves her at liberty to do as she likes?
Mar. (to Cléante). But you do not know that this consent is no longer sufficient, and that heaven has given me back a brother (showing Valère), at the same time that it has given me back a father (showing Anselme); and you have now to obtain me from him.
Ans. Heaven, my dear children, has not restored you to me that I might oppose your wishes. Mr. Harpagon, you must be aware that the choice of a young girl is more likely to fall upon the son than upon the father. Come, now, do not force people to say to you what is unnecessary, and consent, as I do, to this double marriage.
Har. In order for me to be well advised, I must see my casket.
Cle. You shall see it safe and sound.
Har. I have no money to give my children in marriage.
Ans. Never mind, I have some; do not let this trouble you.
Har. Do you take upon yourself to defray the expenses of these two weddings?
Ans. Yes, I will take this responsibility upon myself. Are you satisfied?
Har. Yes, provided you order me a new suit of clothes for the wedding.
Ans. Agreed! Let us go and enjoy the blessings this happy day brings us.
Off. Stop, Sirs, stop; softly, if you please. Who is to pay me for my writing?
Har. We have nothing to do with your writing.
Off. Indeed! and yet I do not pretend to have done it for nothing.
Har. (showing Master Jacques). There is a fellow you can hang in payment!
Jac. Alas! what is one to do? I receive a good cudgelling for telling the truth, and now they would hang me for lying.
Ans. Mr. Harpagon, you must forgive him this piece of imposture.
Har. You will pay the officer then?
Ans. Let it be so. Let us go quickly, my children, to share our joy with your mother!
Har. And I to see my dear casket