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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Outwitting a Guardian
By Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732–1799)
 
        
From ‘The Barber of Seville’
  
  [Rosina’s lover, Count Almaviva, attempts to meet and converse with her by hoodwinking Dr. Bartolo, her zealous guardian. He comes in disguise to Bartolo’s dwelling, in a room of which the scene is laid.]

[Enter Count Almaviva, dressed as a student.]
  Count  [solemnly]—May peace and joy abide here evermore!
  1
  Bartolo  [brusquely]—Never, young sir, was wish more àpropos! What do you want?  2
  Count—Sir, I am one Alonzo, a bachelor of arts—  3
  Bartolo—Sir, I need no instructor.  4
  Count—  —a pupil of Don Basilio, the organist of the convent, who teaches music to Madame your—  5
  Bartolo  [suspiciously]—Basilio! Organist! Yes, I know him. Well?  6
  Count  [aside]—What a man!  [Aloud.]  He’s confined to his bed with a sudden illness.  7
  Bartolo—Confined to his bed! Basilio! He’s very good to send word, for I’ve just seen him.  8
  Count  [aside]—Oh, the devil!  [Aloud.]  When I say to his bed, sir, it’s— I mean to his room.  9
  Bartolo—Whatever’s the matter with him, go, if you please.  10
  Count  [embarrassed]—Sir, I was asked— Can no one hear us?  11
  Bartolo  [aside]—It’s some rogue!  [Aloud.]  What’s that? No, Monsieur Mysterious, no one can hear! Speak frankly—if you can.  12
  Count  [aside]—Plague take the old rascal!  [Aloud.]  Don Basilio asked me to tell you—  13
  Bartolo—Speak louder. I’m deaf in one ear.  14
  Count  [raising his voice]—Ah! quite right: he asks me to say to you that one Count Almaviva, who was lodging on the great square—  15
  Bartolo  [frightened]—Speak low, speak low.  16
  Count  [louder]—  —moved away from there this morning. As it was I who told him that this Count Almaviva—  17
  Bartolo—Low, speak lower, I beg of you.  18
  Count  [in the same tone]—Was in this city, and as I have discovered that Señorita Rosina has been writing to him—  19
  Bartolo—Has been writing to him? My dear friend, I implore you, do speak low! Come, let’s sit down, let’s have a friendly chat. You have discovered, you say, that Rosina—  20
  Count  [angrily]—Certainly. Basilio, anxious about this correspondence on your account, asked me to show you her letter; but the way you take things—  21
  Bartolo—Good Lord! I take them well enough. But can’t you possibly speak a little lower?  22
  Count—You told me you were deaf in one ear.  23
  Bartolo—I beg your pardon, I beg your pardon, if I’ve been surly and suspicious, Signor Alonzo: I’m surrounded with spies—and then your figure, your age, your whole air— I beg your pardon. Well? Have you the letter?  24
  Count—I’m glad you’re barely civil at last, sir. But are you quite sure no one can overhear us?  25
  Bartolo—Not a soul. My servants are all tired out. Señorita Rosina has shut herself up in a rage! The very devil’s to pay in this house. Still I’ll go and make sure.  [He goes to peep into Rosina’s room.]  26
  Count  [aside]—Well, I’ve caught myself now in my own trap. Now what shall I do about the letter? If I were to run off?—but then I might just as well not have come. Shall I show it to him? If I could only warn Rosina beforehand! To show it would be a master-stroke.  27
  Bartolo  [returning on tiptoe]—She’s sitting by the window with her back to the door, and re-reading a cousin’s letter which I opened. Now, now—let me see hers.  28
  Count  [handing him Rosina’s letter]—Here it is.  [Aside.]  She’s re-reading my letter.  29
  Bartolo  [reads quickly]—“Since you have told me your name and estate—” Ah, the little traitress! Yes, it’s her writing.  30
  Count  [frightened]—Speak low yourself, won’t you?  31
  Bartolo—What for, if you please?  32
  Count—When we’ve finished, you can do as you choose. But after all, Don Basilio’s negotiation with a lawyer—  33
  Bartolo—With a lawyer? About my marriage?  34
  Count—Would I have stopped you for anything else? He told me to say that all can be ready to-morrow. Then, if she resists—  35
  Bartolo—She will.  36
  Count  [wants to take back the letter; Bartolo clutches it]—I’ll tell you what we’ll do. We will show her her letter; and then, if necessary,  [more mysteriously]  I’ll even tell her that it was given to me by a woman—to whom the Count is sacrificing her. Shame and rage may bring her to terms on the spot.  37
  Bartolo  [laughing]—Calumny, eh? My dear fellow, I see very well now that you come from Basilio. But lest we should seem to have planned this together, don’t you think it would be better if she’d met you before?  38
  Count  [repressing a start of joy]—Don Basilio thought so, I know. But how can we manage it? It is late already. There’s not much time left.  39
  Bartolo—I will tell her you’ve come in his place. Couldn’t you give her a lesson?  40
  Count—I’ll do anything you like. But take care she doesn’t suspect. All these dodges of pretended masters are rather old and theatrical.  41
  Bartolo—She won’t suspect if I introduce you. But how you do look! You’ve much more the air of a disguised lover than of a zealous student-friend.  42
  Count—Really? Don’t you think I can hoodwink her all the better for that?  43
  Bartolo—She’ll never guess. She’s in a horrible temper this evening. But if she’ll only see you— Her harpsichord is in this room. Amuse yourself while you’re waiting. I’ll do all I can to bring her here.  44
  Count—Don’t say a word about the letter.  45
  Bartolo—Before the right moment? It would lose all effect if I did. It’s not necessary to tell me things twice; it’s not necessary to tell me things twice.  [He goes.]  46
  Count  [alone, soliloquizes]—At last I’ve won! Ouf! What a difficult little old imp he is! Figaro understands him. I found myself lying, and that made me awkward; and he has eyes for everything! On my honor, if the letter hadn’t inspired me he’d have thought me a fool!— Ah, how they are disputing in there!— What if she refuses to come? Listen— If she won’t, my coming is all thrown away. There she is: I won’t show myself at first.  47
[Rosina enters.]
  Rosina  [angrily]—There’s no use talking about it, sir. I’ve made up my mind. I don’t want to hear anything more about music.
  48
  Bartolo—But, my child, do listen! It is Señor Alonzo, the friend and pupil of Don Basilio, whom he has chosen as one of our marriage witnesses. I’m sure that music will calm you.  49
  Rosina—Oh! you needn’t concern yourself about that; and as for singing this evening— Where is this master you’re so afraid of dismissing? I’ll settle him in a minute—and Señor Basilio too.  [She sees her lover and exclaims:]  Ah!  50
  Bartolo—Eh, eh, what is the matter?  51
  Rosina  [pressing her hands to her heart]—Ah, sir! Ah, sir!  52
  Bartolo—She is ill again! Señor Alonzo!  53
  Rosina—No, I am not ill—but as I was turning—ah!  54
  Count—Did you sprain your foot, Madame?  55
  Rosina—Yes, yes, I sprained my foot! I—hurt myself dreadfully.  56
  Count—So I perceived.  57
  Rosina  [looking at the Count]—The pain really makes me feel faint.  58
  Bartolo—A chair—a chair there! And not a single chair here!  [He goes to get one.]  59
  Count—Ah, Rosina!  60
  Rosina—What imprudence!  61
  Count—There are a hundred things I must say to you.  62
  Rosina—He won’t leave us alone.  63
  Count—Figaro will help us.  64
  Bartolo  [bringing an arm-chair]—Wait a minute, my child. Sit down here. She can’t take a lesson this evening, Señor: you must postpone it. Good-by.  65
  Rosina  [to the Count]—No, wait; my pain is better.  [To Bartolo.]  I feel that I’ve acted foolishly! I’ll imitate you, and atone at once by taking my lesson.  66
  Bartolo—Oh! Such a kind little woman at heart! But after so much excitement, my child, I can’t let you make any exertion. So good-bye, Señor, good-bye.  67
  Rosina  [to the Count]—Do wait a minute!  [To Bartolo.]  I shall think that you don’t care to please me if you won’t let me show my regret by taking my lesson.  68
  Count  [aside to Bartolo]—I wouldn’t oppose her, if I were you.  69
  Bartolo—That settles it, my love: I am so anxious to please you that I shall stay here all the time you are practicing.  70
  Rosina—No, don’t. I know you don’t care for music.  71
  Bartolo—It will charm me this evening, I’m sure.  72
  Rosina  [aside to the Count]—I’m tormented to death!  73
  Count  [taking a sheet of music from the stand]—Will you sing this, Madame?  74
  Rosina—Yes, indeed—it’s a very pretty thing out of the opera ‘The Useless Precaution.’  75
  Bartolo—Why do you always sing from ‘The Useless Precaution’?  76
  Count—There is nothing newer! It’s a picture of spring in a very bright style. So if Madame wants to try it—  77
  Rosina  [looking at the Count]—With pleasure. A picture of spring is delightful! It is the youth of nature. It seems as if the heart always feels more when winter’s just over. It’s like a slave who finds liberty all the more charming after a long confinement.  78
  Bartolo  [to the Count]—Always romantic ideas in her head!  79
  Count  [in a low tone]—Did you notice the application?  80
  Bartolo—Zounds!

  [He sits down in the chair which Rosina has been occupying.  Rosina sings, during which Bartolo goes to sleep.  Under cover of the refrain the Count seizes Rosina’s hand and covers it with kisses.  In her emotion she sings brokenly, and finally breaks off altogether.  The sudden silence awakens Bartolo.  The Count starts up, and Rosina quickly resumes her song.]
*        *        *        *        *
  81
[Don Basilio enters.  Figaro in background.]
  Rosina  [startled, to herself]—Don Basilio!
  82
  Count  [aside]—Good Heaven!  83
  Figaro—The devil!  84
  Bartolo  [going to meet him]—Ah! welcome, Basilio. So your accident was not very serious? Alonzo quite alarmed me about you. He will tell you that I was just going to see you, and if he had not detained me—  85
  Basilio  [in astonishment]—Señor Alonzo?  86
  Figaro  [stamping his foot]—Well, well! How long must I wait? Two hours wasted already over your beard— Miserable business!  87
  Basilio  [looking at every one in amazement]—But, gentlemen, will you please tell me—  88
  Figaro—You can talk to him after I’ve gone.  89
  Basilio—But still, would—  90
  Count—You’d better be quiet, Basilio. Do you think you can inform him of anything new? I’ve told him that you sent me for the music lesson instead of coming himself.  91
  Basilio  [still more astonished]—The music lesson! Alonzo!  92
  Rosina  [aside to Basilio]—Do hold your tongue, can’t you?  93
  Basilio—She, too!  94
  Count  [to Bartolo]—Let him know what you and I have agreed upon.  95
  Bartolo  [aside to Basilio]—Don’t contradict, and say that he is not your pupil, or you will spoil everything.  96
  Basilio—Ah! Ah!  97
  Bartolo  [aloud]—Indeed, Basilio, your pupil has a great deal of talent.  98
  Basilio  [stupefied]—My pupil!  [In a low tone.]  I came to tell you that the Count has moved.  99
  Bartolo  [low]—I know it. Hush.  100
  Basilio  [low]—Who told you?  101
  Bartolo  [low]—He did, of course.  102
  Count  [low]—It was I, naturally. Just listen, won’t you?  103
  Rosina  [low to Basilio]—Is it so hard to keep still?  104
  Figaro  [low to Basilio]—Hum! The sharper! He is deaf!  105
  Basilio  [aside]—Who the devil are they trying to deceive here? Everybody seems to be in it!  106
  Bartolo  [aloud]—Well, Basilio—about your lawyer—?  107
  Figaro—You have the whole evening to talk about the lawyer.  108
  Bartolo  [to Basilio]—One word; only tell me if you are satisfied with the lawyer.  109
  Basilio  [startled]—With the lawyer?  110
  Count  [smiling]—Haven’t you seen the lawyer?  111
  Basilio  [impatient]—Eh? No, I haven’t seen the lawyer.  112
  Count  [aside to Bartolo]—Do you want him to explain matters before her? Send him away.  113
  Bartolo  [low to the Count]—You are right.  [To Basilio.]  But what made you ill, all of a sudden?  114
  Basilio  [angrily]—I don’t understand you.  115
  Count  [secretly slipping a purse into his hands]—Yes: he wants to know what you are doing here, when you are so far from well?  116
  Figaro—He’s as pale as a ghost!  117
  Basilio—Ah! I understand.  118
  Count—Go to bed, dear Basilio. You are not at all well, and you make us all anxious. Go to bed.  119
  Figaro—He looks quite upset. Go to bed.  120
  Bartolo—I’m sure he seems feverish. Go to bed.  121
  Rosina—Why did you come out? They say that it’s catching. Go to bed.  122
  Basilio  [in the greatest amazement]—I’m to go to bed!  123
  All the others together—Yes, you must.  124
  Basilio  [looking at them all]—Indeed, I think I will have to withdraw. I don’t feel quite as well as usual.  125
  Bartolo—We’ll look for you to-morrow, if you are better.  126
  Count—I’ll see you soon, Basilio.  127
  Basilio  [aside]—Devil take it if I understand all this! And if it weren’t for this purse—  128
  All—Good-night, Basilio, good-night.  129
  Basilio  [going]—Very well, then; good-night, good-night.

[The others, all laughing, push him civilly out of the room.]
  130
 
 
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