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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
A Contest of Wills
By Émile Augier (1820–1889)
 
From ‘The Fourchambaults’

MADAME FOURCHAMBAULT—Why do you follow me?  1
  Fourchambault—I’m not following you: I’m accompanying you.  2
  Madame Fourchambault—I despise you; let me alone. Oh! my poor mother little thought what a life of privation would be mine when she gave me to you with a dowry of eight hundred thousand francs!  3
  Fourchambault—A life of privation—because I refuse you a yacht!  4
  Madame Fourchambault—I thought my dowry permitted me to indulge a few whims, but it seems I was wrong.  5
  Fourchambault—A whim costing eight thousand francs!  6
  Madame Fourchambault—Would you have to pay for it?  7
  Fourchambault—That’s the kind of reasoning that’s ruining me.  8
  Madame Fourchambault—Now he says I’m ruining him! His whole fortune comes from me.  9
  Fourchambault—Now don’t get angry, my dear. I want you to have everything in reason, but you must understand the situation.  10
  Madame Fourchambault—The situation?  11
  Fourchambault—I ought to be a rich man; but thanks to the continual expenses you incur in the name of your dowry, I can barely rub along from day to day. If there should be a sudden fall in stocks, I have no reserve with which to meet it.  12
  Madame Fourchambault—That can’t be true! Tell me at once that it isn’t true, for if it were so you would be without excuse.  13
  Fourchambault—I or you?  14
  Madame Fourchambault—This is too much! Is it my fault that you don’t understand business? If you haven’t had the wit to make the best use of your way of living and your family connections—any one else—  15
  Fourchambault—Quite likely! But I am petty enough to be a scrupulous man, and to wish to remain one.  16
  Madame Fourchambault—Pooh! That’s the excuse of all the dolts who can’t succeed. They set up to be the only honest fellows in business. In my opinion, Monsieur, a timid and mediocre man should not insist upon remaining at the head of a bank, but should turn the position over to his son.  17
  Fourchambault—You are still harping on that? But, my dear, you might as well bury me alive! Already I’m a mere cipher in my family.  18
  Madame Fourchambault—You do not choose your time well to pose as a victim, when like a tyrant you are refusing me a mere trifle.  19
  Fourchambault—I refuse you nothing. I merely explain my position. Now do as you like. It is useless to expostulate.  20
  Madame Fourchambault—At last! But you have wounded me to the heart, Adrien, and just when I had a surprise for you—  21
  Fourchambault—What is your surprise?  [Aside: It makes me tremble.]  22
  Madame Fourchambault—Thanks to me, the Fourchambaults are going to triumph over the Duhamels.  23
  Fourchambault—How?  24
  Madame Fourchambault—Madame Duhamel has been determined this long time to marry her daughter to the son of the prefect.  25
  Fourchambault—I knew it. What about it?  26
  Madame Fourchambault—While she was making a goose of herself so publicly, I was quietly negotiating, and Baron Rastiboulois is coming to ask our daughter’s hand.  27
  Fourchambault—That will never do! I’m planning quite a different match for her.  28
  Madame Fourchambault—You? I should like to know—  29
  Fourchambault—He’s a fine fellow of our own set, who loves Blanche, and whom she loves if I’m not mistaken.  30
  Madame Fourchambault—You are entirely mistaken. You mean Victor Chauvet, Monsieur Bernard’s clerk?  31
  Fourchambault—His right arm, rather. His alter ego.  32
  Madame Fourchambault—Blanche did think of him at one time. But her fancy was just a morning mist, which I easily dispelled. She has forgotten all about him, and I advise you to follow her example.  33
  Fourchambault—What fault can you find with this young man?  34
  Madame Fourchambault—Nothing and everything. Even his name is absurd. I never would have consented to be called Madame Chauvet, and Blanche is as proud as I was. But that is only a detail; the truth is, I won’t have her marry a clerk.  35
  Fourchambault—You won’t have! You won’t have! But there are two of us.  36
  Madame Fourchambault—Are you going to portion Blanche?  37
  Fourchambault—I? No.  38
  Madame Fourchambault—Then you see there are not two of us. As I am going to portion her, it is my privilege to choose my son-in-law.  39
  Fourchambault—And mine to refuse him. I tell you I won’t have your little baron at any price.  40
  Madame Fourchambault—Now it is your turn. What fault can you find with him, except his title?  41
  Fourchambault—He’s fast, a gambler, worn out by dissipation.  42
  Madame Fourchambault—Blanche likes him just as he is.  43
  Fourchambault—Heavens! He’s not even handsome.  44
  Madame Fourchambault—What does that matter? Haven’t I been the happiest of wives?  45
  Fourchambault—What? One word is as good as a hundred. I won’t have him. Blanche need not take Chauvet, but she shan’t marry Rastiboulois either. That’s all I have to say.  46
  Madame Fourchambault—But, Monsieur—  47
  Fourchambault—That’s all I have to say.
[He goes out.]
  48
 
 
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