Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
From ‘Madman or Saint?’
By José Echegaray (1832–1916)
Translation of Mary Jane Christie Serrano
  [Don Lorenzo, a man of wealth and position living in Madrid, has discovered that he is the son, not as he and all the world had supposed, of the lady whose wealth and name he has inherited, but of his nurse Juana, who dies after she has revealed to him the secret of his birth. In consequence he resolves publicly to renounce his name and his possessions, although by doing so he will prevent the marriage of his daughter Inez to Edward, the son of the Duchess of Almonte. The mother will consent to Don Lorenzo’s renunciation of his possessions but not of his name, as this would throw a stigma on Inez’s origin. He refuses to listen either to the reasoning or to the entreaties of his wife, the duchess, Edward, and Dr. Tomás. Finally they are persuaded that he is mad, and Dr. Tomás calls in a specialist to examine him. The specialist, with two keepers, arrives at the house at the same time with the notary, whom Don Lorenzo has sent for to make before him a formal act of renunciation of his name and possessions.]

Don Lorenzo enters and stands listening to Inez.
DON LORENZO  [aside]—“Die,” she said!
  Edward—You to die! No, Inez, not that; do not say that.  2
  Inez—And why not? If I do not die of grief—if happiness could ever visit me again—I should die of remorse.  3
  Lorenzo  [aside]—“Of remorse!” She! “If happiness could ever visit her again!” What new fatality floats in the air and hangs threateningly above my head? Remorse! I have surprised another word in passing! I traverse rooms and halls, and I go from one place to another, urged by intolerable anguish, and I hear words that I do not understand, and I meet glances that I do not understand, and tears greet me here and smiles there, and no one opposes me, and every one avoids me or watches me.  [Aloud.]  What is this? What is this?  4
  Inez  [hurrying to him and throwing herself into his arms]—Father!  5
  Lorenzo—Inez! How pale you are! Why are your lips drawn as if with pain? Why do you feign smiles that end in sighs!—How lovely in her sorrow! And I am to blame for all!  6
  Inez—No, father.  7
  Lorenzo—How cruel I am! Ah! you think it, although you do not say it.  8
  Edward—Inez is an angel. Rebellious thoughts can find no place in her heart; but who that sees her can fail to think it and to say it?  9
  Lorenzo—No one; you are right.  10
  Edward  [with energy]—If I am right, then you are wrong.  11
  Lorenzo—I am right also. There is something more pallid than the pallid brow of a lovesick maiden; there is something sadder than the sad tears that fall from her beautiful eyes; something more bitter than the smile that contracts her lips; something more tragic than the death of her beloved.  12
  Edward  [with scornful vehemence]—And what is that pallor, what are those tears, and what the tragedies you speak of?  13
  Lorenzo—Insensate!  [Seizing him by the arm.]  The pallor of crime, the tears of remorse, the consciousness of our own vileness.  14
  Edward—And it would be vile, and criminal, and a source of remorse, to make Inez happy?  15
  Lorenzo  [despairingly]—It ought not to be so—but it would!  [Pause.]  And this it is that tortures me. This is the thought that is driving me mad!  16
  Inez—No, father, do not say that! Follow the path you have marked out for yourself, without thought of me. What does it matter whether I live or die?  17
  Lorenzo—Inez!  18
  Inez—But do not vacillate—and above all, let no one see that you vacillate; let your speech be clear and convincing as it is now; let not anger blind you. Be calm, be calm, father; I implore it of you in the name of God.  19
  Lorenzo—What do you mean by those words? I do not understand you.  20
  Inez—Do I rightly know myself what I mean? There—I am going. I do not wish to pain you.  21
  Edward  [to Lorenzo]—Ah, if you would but listen to your heart; if you would but silence the cavilings of your conscience.  22
  Inez  [to Edward]—Leave him in peace—come with me; do not anger him, or you will make him hate you.  23
  Lorenzo—Poor girl! She too struggles, but she too will conquer!  [With an outburst of pride.]  She will show that she is indeed my daughter!  24
[Inez and Edward go up the stage; passing the study door, Inez sees the keepers and gives a start of horror.]
  Inez—What sinister vision affrights my gaze!—No, father, do not enter there.
  Edward—Come, come, my Inez!  26
  Inez  [to her father]—No, no, I entreat you!  27
  Lorenzo  [approaching her]—Inez!  28
  Inez—Those men there—look!  29
[Inez stretches out her hand toward the study; Don Lorenzo stands and follows her gaze.  At this moment the keepers, hearing her cry, show themselves between the curtains.]
  Edward  [leading Inez away]—At last!
*        *        *        *        *
  Lorenzo—Now I am more tranquil! The wound is mortal! I feel it here in my heart! I thank thee, merciful God!  31
Dr. Tomás and Dr. Bermúdez enter and stop to observe Don Lorenzo.
  Dr. Tomás—There he is—sitting in the arm-chair.
  Dr. Bermúdez—Unfortunate man!  33
  Lorenzo  [rising, aside]—Ah, miserable being! Still cherishing impossible hopes. Impossible? And what if they honestly believe that I—  [Despairingly]  Ah! If they loved me they would not believe it.  [Pause.]  Did I not hear Inez—the child of my heart—speak of remorse? Why should she speak of remorse?  [Aloud, with increasing agitation.]  They are all wretches! They would almost be glad that I should die. But no: I will not die until I have fulfilled my duty as an honorable man; until I have put the climax to my madness.  34
  Dr. Tomás  [laying his hand on Don Lorenzo’s shoulder]—Lorenzo—  35
  Lorenzo  [turning, recognizes him and draws back angrily]—He!  36
  Dr. Tomás—Let me present to you Dr. Bermúdez, one of my best friends.  [Pause.  Don Lorenzo regards both strangely.]  37
  Dr. Bermúdez  [to Dr. Tomás, in a low voice]—See the effort he makes to control himself; he is vaguely conscious of his condition—there is not a doubt left on my mind.  38
  Lorenzo—One of your best friends—one of your best friends—  39
  Dr. Bermúdez  [aside to Dr. Tomás]—The idea is escaping him, and he is striving to retain it.  40
  Lorenzo  [ironically]—If he is one of your best friends, then your loyalty is a guarantee for his.  41
  Dr. Bermúdez  [aside, to Dr. Tomás]—At last he has found the word. But notice how unnatural is the tone of his voice.  [Aloud.]  I have come to be a witness, according to what Dr. Tomás tells me, of a very noble action.  42
  Lorenzo—And of an act of base treachery also.  43
  Dr. Tomás—Lorenzo!  44
  Dr. Bermúdez  [aside, to Dr. Tomás]—Let him go on talking.  45
  Lorenzo—And of an exemplary punishment.  46
  Dr. Bermúdez  [aside to Dr. Tomás]—A serious case, my friend, a serious case.  47
  Lorenzo  [to Dr. Tomás]—Call everybody: those of the household and strangers alike. Let them assemble here, and here await my orders, while I go to fulfill my duty yonder. What are you waiting for?  48
  Dr. Bermúdez  [aside, to Dr. Tomás]—Let him have his way; call them.  49
[Dr. Tomás rings a bell; a servant enters, to whom he speaks in a low voice and who then goes out.]
  Lorenzo—It is the final trial; I could almost feel pity for the traitors. Ah! I am sustained by the certainty of my triumph. Be still, my heart. There they are—there they are. I do not wish to see them. To treat me thus who loved them so dearly!—I do not wish, and yet my eyes turn toward them—seeking them—seeking them!
*        *        *        *        *
  Lorenzo—Inez! It cannot be! She! no, no. It cannot be! My child!  51
[Hurries towards her with outstretched arms.  Inez runs to him.]
[Dr. Bermúdez hastens to interpose, and separates them forcibly.]
  Dr. Bermúdez—Come, come, Don Lorenzo; you might hurt your daughter seriously.
  Lorenzo  [seizing him by the arm and shaking him violently]—Wretch! Who are you to part me from my child?  54
  Dr. Tomás—Lorenzo!  55
  Edward—Don Lorenzo!  56
  Angela—My God!  57
[The women group themselves instinctively together, Inez in her mother’s arms, the duchess beside them.  Dr. Tomás and Edward hasten to free Bermúdez from Don Lorenzo’s grasp.]
  Lorenzo  [aside, controlling himself]—So! The imbeciles think it is another access of madness! Ha, ha, ha!  [Laughing with suppressed laughter.  All watch him.]
  Dr. Bermúdez  [aside to Dr. Tomás]—It is quite clear.  59
  Angela  [aside]—Oh, my poor Lorenzo!  60
  Inez  [aside]—My poor father!  61
  Lorenzo  [aside]—Now you shall see how my madness will end. Before I leave this house, with what pleasure will I turn that doctor out of it. Courage! The coming struggle inspires me with new strength. What! Is a man to be declared mad because he is resolved to do his duty? Ah, it cannot be! Humanity is neither so blind nor so base as that. Enough! I must be calm. Treachery has begun its work; then let the punishment begin too.  [Aloud.]  The hour has come for me to perform a sacred duty, though a most painful one. It would be useless to ask you to witness formalities which the law requires, but which you would only find irksome. The representative of the law awaits me in yonder room; and in obedience to another and a higher law, I am going now to renounce a fortune which is not mine, and a name which neither I nor my family can conscientiously bear longer. After this is done I will return here, and with my wife, and—and my daughter—and let no one seek to dissuade me from my purpose, for it would be in vain—I will leave this house which has been for me in the past the abode of love and happiness, but which is to-day the abode of treachery and baseness. Gentlemen  [to Dr. Tomás and Dr. Bermúdez],  lead the way; I beg you to do so.  62
[All slowly enter the study.  On the threshold Lorenzo casts a last look at Inez.]

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.