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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 Husband
By Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732–1799)
 
        
From ‘The Marriage of Figaro’
  
  [The scene is the boudoir of young Countess Almaviva, the Rosina of the previous selection. She is seated alone, when her clever maid Susanna ushers in the young page Cherubino, just banished from the house because obnoxious to the jealous Count.]

  Susanna—Here’s our young Captain, Madame.  1
  Cherubino  [timidly]—The title is a sad reminder that—that I must leave this delightful home and the godmother who has been so kind—  2
  Susanna—And so beautiful!  3
  Cherubino  [sighing]—Ah, yes!  4
  Susanna  [mocking his sigh]—Ah, yes! Just look at his hypocritical eyelids! Madame, make him sing his new song.  [She gives it to him.]  Come now, my beautiful bluebird, sing away.  5
  Countess—Does the manuscript say who wrote this—song?  6
  Susanna—The blushes of guilt betray him.  7
  Cherubino—Madame, I—I—tremble so.  8
  Susanna—Ta, ta, ta, ta—! Come, modest author—since you are so commanded. Madame, I’ll accompany him.  9
  Countess  [to Susanna]—Take my guitar.

  [Cherubino sings his ballad to the air of ‘Malbrouck.’  The Countess reads the words of it from his manuscript, with an occasional glance at him; he sometimes looks at her and sometimes lowers his eyes as he sings.  Susanna, accompanying him, watches them both, laughing.]
  10
  Countess  [folding the song]—Enough, my boy. Thank you. It is very good—full of feeling—  11
  Susanna—Ah! as for feeling—this is a young man who—well!  12
  [Cherubino tries to stop her by catching hold of her dress.  Susanna whispers to him]—Ah, you good-for-nothing! I’m going to tell her.  [Aloud.]  Well—Captain! We’ll amuse ourselves by seeing how you look in one of my dresses!  13
  Countess—Susanna, how can you go on so?  14
  Susanna  [going up to Cherubino and measuring herself with him]—He’s just the right height. Off with your coat.  [She draws it off.]  15
  Countess—But what if some one should come?  16
  Susanna—What if they do? We’re doing no wrong. But I’ll lock the door, just the same.  [Locks it.]  I want to see him in a woman’s head-dress!  17
  Countess—Well, you’ll find my little cap in my dressing-room on the toilet table.

  [Susanna gets the cap, and then, sitting down on a stool, she makes Cherubino kneel before her and arranges it on his hair.]
  18
  Susanna—Goodness, isn’t he a pretty girl? I’m jealous. Cherubino, you’re altogether too pretty.  19
  Countess—Undo his collar a little; that will give a more feminine air.  [Susanna loosens his collar so as to show his neck.]  Now push up his sleeves, so that the under ones show more.  [While Susanna rolls up Cherubino’s sleeves, the Countess notices her lost ribbon around his wrist.]  What is that? My ribbon?  20
  Susanna—Ah! I’m very glad you’ve seen it, for I told him I should tell. I should certainly have taken it away from him if the Count hadn’t come just then; for I am almost as strong as he is.  21
  Countess  [with surprise, unrolling the ribbon]—There’s blood on it!  22
  Cherubino—Yes, I was tightening the curb of my horse this morning, he curvetted and gave me a push with his head, and the bridle stud grazed my arm.  23
  Countess—I never saw a ribbon used as a bandage before.  24
  Susanna—Especially a stolen ribbon. What may all those things be—the curb, the curvetting, the bridle stud?  [Glances at his arms.]  What white arms he has! just like a woman’s. Madame, they are whiter than mine.  25
  Countess—Never mind that, but run and find me some oiled silk.

  [Susanna goes out, after humorously pushing Cherubino over so that he falls forward on his hands.  He and the Countess look at each other for some time; then she breaks the silence.]
  26
  Countess—I hope you are plucky enough. Don’t show yourself before the Count again to-day. We’ll tell him to hurry up your commission in his regiment.  27
  Cherubino—I already have it, Madame. Basilio brought it to me.  [He draws the commission from his pocket and hands it to her.]  28
  Countess—Already! They haven’t lost any time.  [She opens it.]  Oh, in their hurry they’ve forgotten to add the seal to it.  29
  Susanna  [returning with the oiled silk]—Seal what?  30
  Countess—His commission in the regiment.  31
  Susanna—Already?  32
  Countess—That’s what I said.  33
  Susanna—And the bandage?  34
  Countess—Oh, when you are getting my things, take a ribbon from one of your caps.  [Susanna goes out again.]  35
  Countess—This ribbon is of my favorite color. I must tell you I was greatly displeased at your taking it.  36
  Cherubino—That one would heal me quickest.  37
  Countess—And—why so?  38
  Cherubino—When a ribbon—has pressed the head, and—touched the skin of one—  39
  Countess  [hastily]—Very strange—then it can cure wounds? I never heard that before. I shall certainly try it on the first wound of any of—my maids—  40
  Cherubino  [sadly]—I must go away from here!  41
  Countess—But not for always?  [Cherubino begins to weep.]  And now you are crying! At that prediction of Figaro?  42
  Cherubino—I’m just where he said I’d be.  [Some one knocks on the door].  43
  Countess—Who can be knocking like that?  44
  The Count  [outside]—Open the door!  45
  Countess—Heavens! It’s my husband. Where can you hide?  46
  The Count  [outside]—Open the door, I say.  47
  Countess—There’s no one here, you see.  48
  The Count—But who are you talking to then?  49
  Countess—To you, I suppose.  [To Cherubino.]  Hide yourself, quick—in the dressing-room!  50
  Cherubino—Ah, after this morning, he’d kill me if he found me here.

  [He runs into the dressing-room on the right, which is also Susanna’s room; the Countess, after locking him in and taking the key, admits the Count.]
  51
  Count—You don’t usually lock yourself in, Madame.  52
  Countess—I—I—was gossiping with Susanna. She’s gone.  [Pointing to her maid’s room.]  53
  Count—And you seem very much agitated, Madame.  54
  Countess—Not at all, I assure you! We were talking about you. She’s just gone—as I told you.  55
  Count—I must say, Madame, you and I seem to be surrounded by spiteful people. Just as I’m starting for a ride, I’m handed a note which informs me that a certain person whom I suppose far enough away is to visit you this evening.  56
  Countess—The bold fellow, whoever he is, will have to come here, then; for I don’t intend to leave my room to-day.

  [Something falls heavily in the dressing-room where Cherubino is.]
  57
  Count—Ah, Madame, something dropped just then!  58
  Countess—I didn’t hear anything.  59
  Count—You must be very absent-minded, then. Somebody is in that room!  60
  Countess—Who do you think could be there?  61
  Count—Madame, that is what I’m asking you. I have just come in.  62
  Countess—Probably it’s Susanna wandering about.  63
  Count  [pointing]—But you just told me that she went that way.  64
  Countess—This way or that—I don’t know which.  65
  Count—Very well, Madame, I must see her.—Come here, Susanna.  66
  Countess—She cannot. Pray wait! She’s but half dressed. She’s trying on things that I’ve given her for her wedding.  67
  Count—Dressed or not, I wish to see her at once.  68
  Countess—I can’t prevent your doing so anywhere else, but here—  69
  Count—You may say what you choose—I will see her.  70
  Countess—I thoroughly believe you’d like to see her in that state! but—  71
  Count—Very well, Madame. If Susanna can’t come out, at least she can talk.  [Turning toward the dressing-room.]  Susanna, are you there? Answer, I command you.  72
  Countess  [peremptorily]—Don’t answer, Susanna! I forbid you! Sir, how can you be such a petty tyrant? Fine suspicions, indeed!

  [Susanna slips by and hides behind the Countess’s bed without being noticed either by her or by the Count.]
  73
  Count—They are all the easier to dispel. I can see that it would be useless to ask you for the key, but it’s easy enough to break in the door. Here, somebody!  74
  Countess—Will you really make yourself the laughing-stock of the château for such a silly suspicion?  75
  Count—You are quite right. I shall simply force the door myself. I am going for tools.  76
  Countess—Sir, if your conduct were prompted by love, I’d forgive your jealousy for the sake of the motive. But its cause is only your vanity.  77
  Count—Love or vanity, Madame, I mean to know who is in that room! And to guard against any tricks, I am going to lock the door to your maid’s room. You, Madame, will kindly come with me, and without any noise, if you please.  [He leads her away.]  As for the Susanna in the dressing-room, she will please wait a few minutes.  78
  Countess  [going out with him]—Sir, I assure you—  79
  Susanna  [coming out from behind the bed and running to the dressing-room]—Cherubino! Open quick! It’s Susanna.  [Cherubino hurries out of the dressing-room.]  Escape—you haven’t a minute to lose!  80
  Cherubino—Where can I go?  81
  Susanna—I don’t know, I don’t know at all! but do go somewhere!  82
  Cherubino  [running to the window, then coming back]—The window isn’t so very high.  83
  Susanna  [frightened and holding him back]—He’ll kill himself!  84
  Cherubino—Ah, Susie, I’d rather jump into a gulf than put the Countess in danger.  [He snatches a kiss, then runs to the window, hesitates, and finally jumps down into the garden.]  85
  Susanna—Ah!  [She falls fainting into an arm-chair.  Recovering slowly, she rises, and seeing Cherubino running through the garden she comes forward panting.]  He’s far away already!… Little scamp! as nimble as he is handsome!  [She next runs to the dressing-room.]  Now, Count Almaviva, knock as hard as you like, break down the door. Plague take me if I answer you.  [Goes into the dressing-room and shuts the door.]  86
[Count and Countess return.]
  Count—Now, Madame, consider well before you drive me to extremes.
  87
  Countess—I—I beg of you—!  88
  Count  [preparing to burst open the door]—You can’t cajole me now.  89
  Countess  [throwing herself on her knees]—Then I will open it! Here is the key.  90
  Count—So it is not Susanna?  91
  Countess—No, but it’s no one who should offend you.  92
  Count—If it’s a man I kill him! Unworthy wife! You wish to stay shut up in your room—you shall stay in it long enough, I promise you. Now I understand the note—my suspicions are justified!  93
  Countess—Will you listen to me one minute?  94
  Count—Who is in that room?  95
  Countess—Your page.  96
  Count—Cherubino! The little scoundrel!—just let me catch him! I don’t wonder you were so agitated.  97
  Countess—I—I assure you we were only planning an innocent joke.

  [The Count snatches the key, and goes to the dressing-room door; the Countess throws herself at his feet.]
  98
  Countess—Have mercy, Count! Spare this poor child; and although the disorder in which you will find him—  99
  Count—What, Madame? What do you mean? What disorder?  100
  Countess—He was just changing his coat—his neck and arms are bare—

  [The Countess throws herself into a chair and turns away her head.]
  101
  Count  [running to the dressing-room]—Come out here, you young villain!  102
  Count  [seeing Susanna come out of the dressing-room]—Eh! Why, it is Susanna!  [Aside.]  What, a lesson!  103
  Susanna  [mocking him]—“I will kill him! I will kill him!” Well, then, why don’t you kill this mischievous page?  104
  Count  [to the Countess, who at the sight of Susanna shows the greatest surprise]—So you also play astonishment, Madame?  105
  Countess—Why shouldn’t I?  106
  Count—But perhaps she wasn’t alone in there. I’ll find out.  [He goes into the dressing-room.]  107
  Countess—Susanna, I’m nearly dead.  108
  Count  [aside, as he returns]—No one there! So this time I really am wrong.  [To the Countess, coldly.]  You excel at comedy, Madame.  109
  Susanna—And what about me, sir?  110
  Count—And so do you.  111
  Countess—Aren’t you glad you found her instead of Cherubino?  [Meaningly.]  You are generally pleased to come across her.  112
  Susanna—Madame ought to have let you break in the doors, call the servants—  113
  Count—Yes, it’s quite true—I’m at fault—I’m humiliated enough! But why didn’t you answer, you cruel girl, when I called you?  114
  Susanna—I was dressing as well as I could—with the aid of pins, and Madame knew why she forbade me to answer. She had her lessons.  115
  Count—Why don’t you help me get pardon, instead of making me out as bad as you can?  116
  Countess—Did I marry you to be eternally subjected to jealousy and neglect? I mean to join the Ursulines, and—  117
  Count—But, Rosina!  118
  Countess—I am no longer the Rosina whom you loved so well. I am only poor Countess Almaviva, deserted wife of a madly jealous husband.  119
  Count—I assure you, Rosina, this man, this letter, had excited me so—  120
  Countess—I never gave my consent.  121
  Count—What, you knew about it?  122
  Countess—This rattlepate Figaro, without my sanction—  123
  Count—He did it, eh! and Basilio pretended that a peasant brought it. Crafty wag, ready to impose on everybody!  124
  Countess—You beg pardon, but you never grant pardon. If I grant it, it shall only be on condition of a general amnesty.  125
  Count—Well, then, so be it. I agree. But I don’t understand how your sex can adapt itself to circumstances so quickly and so nicely. You were certainly much agitated; and for that matter, you are yet.  126
  Countess—Men aren’t sharp enough to distinguish between honest indignation at unjust suspicion, and the confusion of guilt.  127
  Count—We men think we know something of politics, but we are only children. Madame, the King ought to name you his ambassador to London.— And now pray forget this unfortunate business, so humiliating for me.  128
  Countess—For us both.  129
  Count—Won’t you tell me again that you forgive me?  130
  Countess—Have I said that, Susanna?  131
  Count—Ah, say it now.  132
  Countess—Do you deserve it, culprit?  133
  Count—Yes, honestly, for my repentance.  134
  Countess  [giving him her hand]—How weak I am! What an example I set you, Susanna! He’ll never believe in a woman’s anger.  135
  Susanna—You are prisoner on parole; and you shall see we are honorable.  136
 
 
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