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Title: La Tontine
Author: Le Sage, Alain René, 1668-1747
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "La Tontine" ***

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This Etext is for private use only. No republication for profit in 
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Copyright Holder. The Copyright Holder is especially concerned about 
performance rights in any media on stage, cinema, or television, or 
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or the like is charge. Permissions should be addressed to: Frank 
Morlock, 6006 Greenbelt Rd, #312, Greenbelt, MD 20770, USA or 
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http://www.cadytech.com/dumas/personnage.asp?key=130



                             La Tontine

                         One Act by Le Sage


                       Translated and Adapted by

                          Frank J. Morlock
                               C 1986



CHARACTERS


Dr. Peacock                       M. Trousse-Galant
Flem                              M. Bolus
Worthy                            Eraste
Harriet                           Marianne
Jeremy                            Crispin
Dudley                            Ambrose
Trippet                           Frosine
St. Slaughter *                   Sergeant
Soldiers

* This character and the soldiers may be omitted in production.

Five men, two women



Scene: Dr. Peacock's house.



Flem
Truly, Dr. Peacock, you're a clever man. I've been a pharmacist for
twenty-five years and never met a doctor who practiced medicine like
you.

Peacock
Indeed, no other doctor of my acquaintance has penetrated nature as
deeply as I have. But I don't like to praise myself; I can't stand
flattery. I want you to come home with me to discuss an important
matter. Now, has any one asked for me while I was away? TRIPPET, hey,
TRIPPET!

Trippet (entering)
How you do scream! Well, sir, what can I do for you?

Peacock
Has Lady Bellaston asked for me?

Trippet
No, sir.

Peacock
So much the better. It's a sign her medication is working. How about
Judge Glanville--has he called?

Trippet
Yes, sir.

Peacock
Good. It's to tell me that the purge I gave him yesterday has cured
him of his pleurisy.

Trippet
The poor man died during the night. His son came to tell you. He was
in a fury and cursed you and Mr. Flem. I took your part and he cussed
me out, too. Happily, I can deal with that. I listened to him very
calmly.

Peacock
What right has he to complain? I gave him the best treatment. I bled
him more than twenty times and purged him frequently. He ought to be
cured according to the books.

Trippet
And died according to bell and candle.

Peacock
Get out of here, impudence. Leave criticizing doctors to the surgeons.

(Exit Trippet.)

Flem
Between you and me, Dr. Peacock, I don't have a high opinion of that
purge.

Peacock
It worked effectively most of the time--excepting the Judge.

Flem
Also, excepting your wife who you buried last year.

Peacock
Right.

Flem
That merits some concern.

Peacock
Not at all. A good doctor pursues his calling without any regard to a
bad result. Otherwise, teaching in medical school might be called into
question and where would we be then?

Flem
That's another matter.

Peacock
I never deviate from established practice.

Flem
You do wisely.

Peacock
Well now, let's talk of the business I brought you here for. You know
I've always regarded you as my best friend.

Flem
You are right to do so. I have been a friend of your family for many
years. It was I who furnished the drugs during your father's last
illness.

Peacock
I thank you for it. Ever since I've written my prescriptions only for
you.

Flem
Oh! For that, yes.

Peacock
Moreover, I've had you get rid of inexpensive, useless drugs. And
whenever I write a prescription, I never forget to write it for five
or six grains more than the patient needs.

Flem
And I always put in seven or eight grains less than you prescribe.
That way I save the life of the patient and your reputation.

Peacock
Consider the way we work together. I prescribe imaginary medicines
found only in your apothecary shop. I praise their healthfulness,
their propriety, and your skill in blending drugs.

Flem
And for my part, I never miss a chance to praise you. I speak of your
miraculous cures--which, in truth, I've seen very few of.

Peacock
Thus, we help one another.

Flem
And, I tell all the patients who come to me about you, praise you to
the skies, and belittle or disparage all other doctors without
exception.

Peacock
We do everything that a doctor and a pharmacist can do for each other.
We work in perfect harmony. And, to further our friendship, I am going
to tell you about a little investment I have made. I've taken out a
ten thousand pound Tontine on him.

Flem
Flem
You? (puzzled) Why?

Peacock (supercilously)
You know what a Tontine is, of course?

Flem
Certainly, a Tontine is--a Tontine is--(helplessly) What the devil is
a Tontine?

Peacock (smugly triumphant)
It's a last man out club. The survivor gets all the money from all
the policies.

Flem
That's clever. So if you die--

Peacock (slightly exasperated)
The policy's not on my life--but on that of a peasant of sixty who
you wouldn't take to be forty. He's the father of one of my servants.
He's in unusually good shape.

Flem
Well?

Peacock
I've taken out this policy on him and he's agreed to make me a
beneficiary in return for free medical care.

Flem
That's a clever idea.

Peacock
A fellow like that, in my hands, will become immortal.

Flem
Sooner than later.

Peacock
Suppose that he only lives, say one hundred years.

Flem
All right, one hundred years.

Peacock
Isn't it certain, that in fifteen or twenty years, he'll be the only
person in his group?

Flem
In all likelihood.

Peacock
Five years later, he'll be the only one. Therefore, I'll receive all
the money for twenty years.

Flem
The reasoning is clear. You've put your money to good use.

Peacock
I'm delighted you approve my project. And you are a beneficiary, too.
Because, I mean to marry you to my daughter.

Flem
Sir, that's an honor that--

Peacock
No compliments. And, for the dowry, I'm going to give you half the
immense revenue from this insurance policy which you cannot fail to
collect. And no, I'm going to show you our gold mine. You'll have to
agree he's an excellent specimen.

(Exit Peacock into his house.)

Flem
What a man Doctor Peacock is! Some people think he's a little crazy;
but what's just happened would go a long way to disabuse them.

(Peacock returns from the house leading Dudley, a sturdy old peasant.)

Peacock
Have a look at this young fellah! Ever see a better built body?

Flem
Never.

Peacock
What do you say to those eyes?

Flem
Really bright.

Peacock
How do you find his skin tone?

Flem
Beautiful.

Peacock (to Dudley)
Open your mouth. (to Flem) Look at those teeth. Perfect condition.

Flem
He hasn't even got a cavity.

Peacock (to Dudley)
Let's hear your voice.

Dudley
Hem! Hem! Hem!

Peacock
Like thunder! Constitution of an ox.

Flem
Amazing.

Peacock
And his legs--stout and firm.

Flem
He's got all the signs of long life.

Peacock
Look at that chest.

Flem
Broad and strong. You've made quite a bargain, Doctor.

Peacock
We're going to get rich, Mr. Flem.

Flem
This peasant is a kind of Peruvian gold mine.

Peacock.
Answer my questions, Dudley. When you went to bed last night, did it
take you a long time to get to sleep?

Dudley
Soon as my head hits the pillow--poof--I was asleep.

Flem
Sleeps easily.

Dudley
And I wake up at dawn.

Peacock
And wakes with a ravenous appetite that I have difficulty to control.

Dudley (laughing)
Oh, as to that, Doctor, you keep me well regulated.

Peacock
How he roars! This roaring is no good for him. It comes from too many
vessels in contact with the diaphragm. To remedy this defect we ought
to give him a purge.

Dudley (crying)
Another purge! Woe is me.

Peacock
Preceded by a tonic composed of softening laxatives to prevent dry
stools. Go quickly, Mr. Flem, and prepare some suppositories and bring
them back here.

Flem
Back in a flash.

(Exit Flem.)

Peacock
As soon as you possibly can. This business is serious and requires
diligence.

Dudley
Can't you leave me without tormenting me, Doctor? For the last three
days, ever since I put myself in your hands, you've already purged me
twice. I want to have lunch and enjoy it.

Peacock
Blood isn't necessary to preserve life. I know what I'm doing. I am
more interested in keeping you alive than you yourself. Listen, my
friend, as soon as I have bled you, I'll cook up a delicious lunch.

Dudley
Ah, that would be nice.

Peacock
I want to give you something appetizing. What do you like to eat?

Dudley
Mutton chops.

Peacock
Bah! What bad spirit put such a detestable thought in your head? It's
too fatty and it clogs your bowels.

Dudley
I seem to have heard that apothecaries like jelloes.

Peacock
True. But, between you and me, they only sell them. They actually
prefer stuffed dates.

Dudley
Really--well, how about a nice roast beef?

Peacock
Nothing is more indigestible.

Dudley
Give me pork, then.

Peacock
Too likely to have trichinosis. Dirty.

Dudley
Too dirty, too sweet, too hard, too fatty. What the devil do you want
me to eat?

Peacock
An ounce of fresh cheese?

Dudley
Fresh cheese?

Peacock
With two or three glasses of laxatives.

Dudley
I am dead and buried

(Enter Trippet.)

Trippet
Sir, there's a man down there who insists on speaking to you.

Peacock (going out)
Let's see what he wants of us.

(Exit Peacock.)

Dudley
Ah!

Trippet
You sigh! What caused you to sigh like that, my poor Dudley?

Dudley
They're going to bleed me again and give me an enema.

Trippet
What's wrong with you?

Dudley
They say I have extended diaphragm muscles, and I don't know how many
other maladies. Yet, I don't feel a bit sick.

Trippet
That's terrible, my friend, that's terrible. Not to know what's wrong.

Dudley
Since I've been in this house, I've lost more blood than I did in
twenty years as a soldier.

Trippet
I believe it.

Dudley
Doctor Peacock intends to make me the last survivor of my group--but
if this keeps up, I won't last another month.

Trippet
That's a chance you take.

Dudley
Let's speak openly. Even if I survive the bleeding, I won't survive
the diet. I'll starve.

Trippet
He practices austerity in his own eating habits.

Dudley
Aie! How can I resist him. He thinks I'm weak and prescribes for my
maladies. He watches my food. He forbids me wine. Damn his medicine
and science. It would be better not to interfere with nature.

Trippet
To forbid wine to a man of your type is the same as forbidding women
to a man of a different sort.

Dudley
Trippet, my dear Trippet, are you capable of pity?

Trippet
Without a doubt. What can I do for you?

Dudley
You run the house. If you would give me a bottle of wine, I will owe
you my life.

Trippet
Heaven preserve me from doing such a thing. If the doctor has
forbidden you wine then that proves it isn't good for you.

Dudley (kneeling)
I beg you, on my knees.

Trippet
Useless prayer.

Dudley
At least give me a pork chop.

Trippet
Not a slice!

Dudley
Ah, if only I were young again. You'd give me the keys to the wine
cellar.

Trippet
I wouldn't bet on that.

Peacock (entering and seeing Dudley on his knees to Trippet)
Ah, Dudley! How passionate you are! My God! That's no way to prepare
for an enema. Come along, return to your room and try to calm yourself
while waiting for the return of Mr. Flem. (Dudley leaves) That's
funny, really.

Trippet
Do you have any idea what he wanted from me?

Peacock
It's not really difficult to figure out. Dirty old gallows-bird.

Trippet
He was trying to cajole me with his sweet talk and passionate
gestures--but I'm not that kind of woman.

Peacock
Good, Trippet. Don't give in to human weakness.

Trippet
I'd let him croak before he could have any.

Peacock
Now wait a minute--if he shows any signs of croaking! You must satisfy
him, Trippet! Ahem! I intend that he live a long life.

Trippet
We are talking at cross-purposes.

Peacock
Oh, that! Trippet, they've come to get me to see a patient--a feverish
cantor who refuses to drink a purge--but before I leave, it will be
easier if I talk to my daughter. Tell her to come see me. (Exit
Trippet) I suppose I could find a better husband for Harriet than this
Flem. For example, a bureaucrat or a down-and-out gentleman. But I
prefer to pay off my own debts, not someone else's. Instead of which,
I will exploit my daughter for all she is worth.

Harriet (entering)
What do you want, Daddy?

Peacock
Something you will like. I've decided to marry you. I've chosen a man
for you who is extremely knowledgeable and will give you complete
satisfaction.

Harriet
Oh, heaven.

Trippet (entering)
Ah!

Peacock
He's totally a skilled practitioner.

Harriet
How unhappy I am!

Peacock
Great fortitude.

Trippet
Now we're headed in different directions.

Peacock
Listen! What's all this about, if you please? I haven't even told you
his name--only of his worthiness, and you are making faces, both of
you.

Trippet
It's not his worth that displeases--it's his incompatible qualities.

Peacock
What? What incompatible qualities?

Trippet
Eh! Yes, sir. Those qualities are certainly found in an old dotard.
You are painting a wretched portrait of a handsome young man.

Peacock
But, I don't propose to marry my daughter to some old fuddy-duddy.
It's Mr. Flem.

Harriet (surprised)
Mr. Flem!

Trippet (same tone)
Mr. Flem!

Peacock
Yes, Mr. Flem. He's only fifty. Not old enough to be too virtuous.

Trippet
A virtuous man is not for Miss Harriet, and I am going to prove it. In
order to know the worth of a virtuous husband, is it not necessary for
the wife to be dispirited herself? First, give her a young man of
twenty, and not only will she be fine, she'll have a reasonable
husband.

Peacock
Nice reasoning. A smart daughter ought not to examine her future
husband too closely. She ought to consider it a pleasure to find one
agreeable to her father. Understand, Harriet? Now, on my return, I
expect to find you disposed to receive the hand of Mr. Flem. (exit)

Harriet
Did you hear, Trippet? Is there a misfortune equal to mine? Isn't it
enough to lose hope of being with Worthy? Now, I must reconcile myself
to becoming the wife of this detestable Mr. Flem.

Trippet
Flem is difficult to swallow--assuredly.

Harriet
Worthy, dear Worthy, what will your despair be when you hear this
news?

Trippet
Alas! I believe I can already see how unhappy he will be. What a
lively sadness moistens his eye. What tears mix with yours. Oh, I
loathe the old apothecary.

Harriet
Trippet, your joking is unseasonable.

Trippet
I'm not joking. I don't know any more than you what the future will
hold. But my point of view is different. You see despair and I see
cause for hope. I read the future in a way that is more agreeable than
you do.

Harriet
You are deceiving yourself. I am already unhappy enough to be married
to Mr. Flem. Without doubt, I will gag of it. But I will fulfill my
destiny. The more I have to suffer, the more my character will grow.

Trippet
I know very well that character thrives on hardship--but sometimes
hardship corrupts a pure heart.

Harriet
I hear a noise. Someone is coming.

Trippet
Eh, Miss, it's Mr. Worthy.

Jeremy (entering with Worthy)
It's he, himself, Trippet, and your loveable Jeremy.

Trippet
You come just in time, gentlemen. Help us avoid the storm that
threatens us. Dr. Peacock has promised his daughter to Mr. Flem.

Jeremy
To that flat-nosed pharmacist with thick glasses who works in his
shop?

Trippet
Exactly.

Worthy
Is it true?

Trippet
So true that the marriage may take place at any time.

Worthy
Oh, Harriet! How can you let them drag you to the altar without making
the least effort in my behalf?

Harriet
What do you expect me to do, Mr. Worthy?

Jeremy
Ladies, you have only to follow us to our inn. Our horses are all
saddled. We will disappear with you both.

Trippet
Good idea. We'll disappear. All's fair in love and war.

Worthy
Jeremy, I beg you. Think up some plan to prevent this detestable
marriage.

Jeremy
That's what I'm dreaming up. Use your imagination, too, Trippet.
You're good at this sort of thing.

Trippet
All right. Let's stir up our imagination.

Jeremy
Well. What have you come up with?

Trippet
Wait a while.

Jeremy
Dammit, I can't wait forever. I've already decided on the best plan.

Trippet
Let's hear it.

Jeremy
Simply to make Flem and Doctor Peacock quarrel. Won't that do it?

Trippet
Without a doubt.

Worthy
Sounds good to me.

Jeremy
Right, eh? See how easily I solve the most difficult puzzles.

Trippet
But, you haven't said how we'll do it.

Jeremy
Right. How to do it? Listen, hasn't some rich person recently died at
their hands?

Trippet
The Judge. Judge Glanville.

Jeremy
That's our luck! All we have to do is to tell the Doctor that Flem
says it was the Doctor's prescription that killed the patient. At the
same time, we tell Mr. Flem that the Doctor is blaming everything on
the way the prescription was compounded.

Worthy
I like that idea.

Trippet
Won't work.

Harriet
Why not?

Trippet
I tell you, it won't work. Mr. Flem and Dr. Peacock are too hand-in-
glove. For twenty years they've been killing people--some of the
nicest people in this city--and they never quarrel over it. And you
think they're going to quarrel over a mere magistrate. Why, they've
done in lords and ladies.

Jeremy
I've got another idea. This one is matchless. Is it true that Doctor
Peacock has an insurance policy on some peasant?

Trippet
Nothing is more true.

Jeremy
So much the better. This gives me the plan, which I believe, must
infallibly succeed. I would like to speak to this peasant.

Trippet (pointing)
There's the door to his room. You can go in. He's alone.

Jeremy
Leave it to me. That's all I need to know.

(Exit Jeremy.)

Harriet
What do you suppose he's up to?

Worthy
I don't know, but Jeremy is a world-class trickster.

Trippet
I've got an idea of my own. See if we don't slow this marriage down.

Harriet (hugging Trippet)
You bring me back to life.

Worthy (hugging Trippet)
Me, too.

Trippet
I see it.

Harriet
You don't know how much I'll owe you if you save me from this odious
husband.

Trippet
Time will tell if you mean that.

Worthy
Me, too!

Trippet
Poor children. It would be a terrible shame to separate you. You only
want to be together.

Worthy
Here comes Jeremy.

Jeremy (returning, and still speaking to Dudley)
Yes, you have only to do as I told you and you will be delivered from
the Doctor's tyranny. Until we meet again. Adieu.

Trippet
What? You've already talked to Dudley?

Jeremy
I only had two words to say to him. I've warned him. If he plays his
role and all goes well, Miss Harriet will today change her name to
Worthy. And, as for you, Trippet, I permit you to think of possessing
me.

Trippet
How do you intend to work these miracles?

Jeremy
I'm going to disguise myself as a Colonel. Worthy will be my Major.
And, as Dr. Peacock doesn't know us because we've always been careful
never to come here except when he's visiting patients--ah, what a
trick I will play on him. I intend to consult him on a pretended
illness. (low to Trippet) Well, Trippet, you're good at this sort of
thing. What do you say to it?

Trippet
I approve of it. That's all I have to say about it.

Worthy
But, tell us everything.

Jeremy
I will instruct you as we go. Let's leave now. Time is precious. I'm
going to prepare everything. (to Harriet) No goodbyes, beautiful lady.
(to Trippet) See you soon, you little flirt. You, Major, follow me.

(Exit Jeremy and Worthy.)

Harriet
Do you think it will work?

Trippet
Indubitably.

Harriet
Don't let me languish any more. Listen to me.

Trippet
Hush! Our lovers were right to leave. Here comes Mr. Flem. Follow my
lead and pretend to be delighted to marry him.

Harriet
What a bore!

Trippet
Don't complain. He can easily be fooled.

(Enter Flem.)

Trippet
Ah, ah! Mr. Flem, we've heard news of you. You want to marry my
mistress?

Flem
It's the Doctor who's taken it into his head that I shall marry. As
for myself, I never thought of Miss Harriet because of the difference
in our ages.

Trippet
What difference! You're joking, Mr. Flem. Do you know, you look as
young as a man of twenty-five.

Flem
Well, as to that matter, I'm still juicy. Got a lot of sap left in me.

Trippet
You're cute. You have regular features, good color, noble bearing,
graceful manners, and as for your figure, let Miss Harriet speak. (to
Harriet) What to you say?

Harriet
Well put together.

Trippet
His hypodermic syringe is just ravishing.

Harriet
It suits him better than a sword.

Trippet
And the most gallant cummerbund doesn't look better than his work
apron.

Harriet
Behold a tasty, well-turned-out dish of a man.

Flem
It's delightful to me to hear such words from your mouth, dear lady.
They distill an amorous syrup in my soul. Yes, my dear, I already
sense the birth in my heart of a feeling for you that I had for my
late wife. Haven't I told you, doll, how we lived together, my wife
and I?

Harriet
Never, I assure you.

Flem
Ours will be just such a perfect union.

Trippet
Tell us about if, if you please, sir. I'm just crazy to hear about
happy marriages. They're so unheard of.

Flem
Madame Flem had a lively affection for me.

Trippet
Undoubtedly you deserved it.

Flem
On my side, I had a particular care for her health. I didn't wait till
she was sick to give her a remedy. Every day, by way of precaution, I
made her take some medicine.

Trippet
Charming little man.

Flem
When she was the least bit sick, I redoubled my efforts. Alas, the
poor woman didn't live long.

Trippet
I believe him.

Flem
She had a very delicate constitution. But, if she died, if was not for
want of medication. Not for want of remedies.

Trippet
Rather the remedies were wanting.

Flem
To give her a breath of life, I didn't spare a single drug in my
apothecary.

Trippet
Oh, miss--what a husband.

Harriet
He's worthy of all the feeling I have for him.

Flem
You flatter me, my angel.

Harriet
No, sir. I swear, I'm not flattering you at all.

Flem
For you, sweetheart, I promise to take the same care and the same
attention, I lavished on my first wife.

Harriet (low to Trippet)
What an engaging prospect.

Flem
Every morning and night I will give you some little delight.

Trippet
That's bound to please her.

Flem
Goodbye, beautiful star. I have to leave you to find Dudley. How
impatient I am to have you joined to me. When I even think of it, I am
happy.

Trippet
You love the pleasures of imagination.

Flem
Yes, but I like physical ones better.

(Exit Flem into Dudley's room.)

Trippet
Old fool.

Harriet
What a man, Trippet. I hate him more than I love Mr. Worthy.

Trippet
You hate him so much already?

Harriet
Rather than marry him, I am capable of going to the last extremities.

Trippet
Stay of that mind. It may be helpful if we can't manage things in an
honest way.

Harriet
Shut up, you fool, my father is coming.

Trippet
Let us continue to dissemble.

Peacock (entering)
Well! Trippet, in what frame of mind is your mistress?

Trippet
In a mood to obey you. Oh, indeed, we've had a change of mind since
you left. We paid attention to your wise advice. Do you know, sir,
that we've learned to love old men?

Peacock
Are you serious?

Trippet
Ask Mr. Flem in what manner we received him. Presently, we have eyes
only for your old friend.

Peacock
I don't know if you're speaking seriously, but the fact of the matter
is, an older man is better.

Trippet
A thousand times better. I wish someone would give me the choice
between an old man and a young musketeer. It wouldn't take me long to
make up my mind, let me tell you.

Peacock
In fact, an old boy tends to be very indulgent towards a young wife.

Trippet
Oh, yes. In place of a young man who is indulgent only towards his
friends. An old husband leaves us his wealth by dying and a young one
doesn't die until he's gobbled up our dowry.

Peacock
Sometimes that girl is pretty smart. Now, Harriet, I'm delighted you
no longer dislike Mr. Flem--

Harriet (under her breath)
Ah, I prefer death.

Peacock
What did she say under her breath about dying?

Trippet
She says she'd rather die than lose him. She's crazy about him.

Peacock
Well, that's a passion that's arrived rather suddenly.

Trippet
And a proper one, too.

Peacock
But, it's a sort of madness, Trippet.

Trippet
Assuredly. Now, if you were to forbid her to love him, she would love
him even more.

Peacock
Who are these people coming here?

(Enter Jeremy and Worthy.)

Trippet
They seem to be some kind of soldiers.

Jeremy (disguised as a colonel)
I am looking for Dr. Peacock. They say he looks rather large and
bloated. Necessarily, it must be you.

Peacock
I am Dr. Peacock.

Jeremy
Ah, sir, let me embrace you. In the fashionable world you are often
spoken of. They say you are a clever doctor and your prescriptions are
written in elegant Latin.

Peacock
Sir!

Jeremy
Ah, ha! Who are these lovely ladies?

Peacock
This is my daughter and this is her maid.

Jeremy
To show you how much honor I feel for you and everything that belongs
to you, I insist on embracing them, too.

Harriet
Just a minute, Mr. Officer.

Trippet
Do you take us to be barmaids?

Peacock (low)
These fellows are very impertinent.

Jeremy
Have you more than one daughter?

Peacock
No, sir.

Jeremy
So much the worse. When they are made like these they can be easily
married off.

Peacock
Well, God willing, I'm just about to marry her to an apothecary friend
of mine.

Jeremy
Very good idea. Your patients certainly won't have to wait for enemas
and purges.

Peacock
They will lack nothing.

Jeremy
The more I look at your daughter, the more I find she looks like you.

Peacock
You're joking!

Jeremy
Word of a soldier! She's you in miniature. Your eyes are the same
except for the coloring. Her little nose becomes large like yours:
oval face, square face; really the resemblances are astonishing in
certain families.

Peacock
Come, sir, if you will. What are you getting at?

Jeremy
That maid of yours is making eyes at me. Apparently, I was made to be
the sport of a wench. They always tease me.

Peacock
Sir, for God's sake, tell me who you are.

Jeremy
I am a colonel and you see me here with my major. I come to consult
you about an illness.

Harriet
Goodbye, Mr. Colonel.

Jeremy
Why are you running off, pretty ladies?

Trippet
We don't want to hear the conversation of an officer who consults a
doctor.

(Exit Trippet and Harriet.)

Jeremy
I want to tell you, sir--no boasting--I'm well thought of by the
combat troops.

Peacock
I'm sure of it, and I congratulate you, sir.

Jeremy
When there's something particularly tough to do, they always call for
me. Ask my major.

Worthy
It's true.

Peacock
I believe it.

Jeremy
So, you see, I have all the honor and reputation I could wish.
Unfortunately, my body isn't made of iron.

Peacock
I see.

Jeremy
I came down with asthma in Germany while I was pursuing the enemy.

Peacock
The cause of your illness is worthy of--

Jeremy
Here's how it happened to me. I reconnoitred an enemy scouting party.
I attacked them; they resisted. I redoubled my efforts. They
regrouped. Then, they fled. I followed them, but then I was obliged to
give up the pursuit. I couldn't get my breath. They said I have
swollen glands. So, since then, I've been asthmatic.

Peacock (aside)
He's consulting me for his own amusement--but I will mock him in his
turn. (aloud) You wish a remedy that will soothe you?

Jeremy
Exactly!

Peacock
I have an infallible remedy. But, I have a scruple about curing you.

Jeremy
What's that?

Peacock
I think you should keep your asthma and seek a disability pension.

Jeremy
I like your idea.

(Enter Dudley from the house and Flem after him.)

Dudley
Murder! Help! Help! Fire!

Peacock
Why all this noise?

Jeremy
What do I see? There's a face I've seen before. Yes, my word, it
really is! It's Rosebud. Major, don't you recognize him?

Worthy
It's Rosebud all right. The deserter.

Dudley
Oh, yes, sir, it's me. I beg for pardon.

Jeremy
Coward! Fortune has delivered you to justice.

Dudley
Oh, Colonel, have pity on me.

Jeremy
Say, what! God! Why did you disappear without leave?

Dudley
The Captain was always beating me and there was nothing I could do!

Jeremy
For God's sake, abandon the battlefield because you were beaten? To
avenge yourself on your captain, couldn't you wait till after the
battle? Major, call Sergeant Slaughter and some soldiers to take this
deserter to the guardhouse.

(Exit Worthy to the street.)

Peacock
You never told me, you bastard, that you were a deserter.

Dudley
I never dared to tell you, sir.

Peacock
What a mess this wretch has got me in.

(Worthy returns with several soldiers.)

Sergeant Slaughter
What is it, sir?

Jeremy
Arrest that man.

Peacock
Sir, I beg you to pardon him.

Flem
We both ask you.

Jeremy (folding his arms)
It upsets me, gentlemen, not to be able to do as you wish. But, when
it comes to punishing infractions of military rules, I am inexorable.

Peacock
I will cure your asthma.

Jeremy
I should look to my pension.

Flem
I'll furnish you all the medicine you need for your old age.

Jeremy (after a struggle)
No. No. (to soldiers) Hurry up, take this clown without more
discussion. You will see that this poor devil will die as quickly in
my hands as in yours.

(Enter Trippet and Harriet.)

Trippet
What noise is this I hear? What brouhaha are you making here?

Dudley
Intercede for me, Trippet. They want to hang me as a deserter.

Trippet
Why, gentlemen, if you want to kill him, why not leave him in the
hands of Dr. Peacock?

Harriet
Grant him his life, Mr. Colonel.

Jeremy
No mercy.

Harriet
Be a human being.

Trippet
We beg you.

Jeremy
Don't pester me any more. Guards! Seize him!

Peacock (aside)
It's easy to see what the outcome will be with these people. (aloud)
Listen, Mr. Colonel, so as not to waste time talking, I am going to
count out a hundred gold pieces--or more.

Jeremy
I am incorruptible.

Trippet
What, sir, can you resist the sound of money and the prayers of a
beautiful lady?

Jeremy
How can I resist? I am not a judge. Do you take me for a judge?

Trippet
Dr. Peacock has a ten thousand pound insurance policy on the life of
this man.

Peacock
That's right. Would you consider going shares on him?

Jeremy
I don't know what to do.

Trippet
If you wish to kill him, let us die with him.

Jeremy
Well, then--let him run the gauntlet.

Trippet
Listen, Mr. Colonel, I've got an idea how to fix everything.

Jeremy
How? What way?

Trippet
Marry my mistress.

Jeremy
What, me! For God's sake, my dear friend, if you don't have a better
idea than that, Rosebud is going to hang.

Worthy
Oh, it's too much. Colonel. You've go to give it up. Free him.

Jeremy
That's easy for you to say. But, if you were in my place--the rank of
Colonel would cause you to speak differently.

Worthy
No--word of honor.

Jeremy
All right! You marry her and I consent at that price to spare the
deserter.

Trippet
Come no, Mr. Major, consider how charming she is.

Worthy
I have little taste for marriage--but to please the Colonel--I'll do
it. But, only if the doctor gives me a large dowry. It is not right to
marry a woman who brings nothing.

Jeremy
He's right, Doctor. It's necessary to make it worth his while. Make
over all your wealth to him.

Peacock
Your humble servant. I prefer you to hang Mr. Rosebud. I'll be off
much cheaper.

Trippet
Mr. Major, you seem generous. Accept my mistress on the same terms she
was to be married to Mr. Flem. That's to say, for one-half the
interest on the ten thousand pounds that the Doctor has put on the
head of Dudley.

Peacock
That, I can live with.

Worthy
To accommodate you, sir, I would like to consent.

Flem
And, I won't object. I free you of your promise, Doctor.

(Exit Flem.)

Dudley
But, who will care for me? The father-in-law or the son-in-law?

Peacock
I will. I will treat you as I always have.

Dudley
That being the case, I prefer to run the gauntlet.

Worthy
No, Rosebud, no. I will care for you. I will care for his health.

Jeremy
I've suddenly taken it into my head to get married, too. With this
flirt.

Peacock
What, Colonel? You wish to marry the maid after having refused the
mistress?

Jeremy
I will ennoble her. There, Trippet. From wench, I make you a lady of
quality.

Trippet
It won't be the first such metamorphosis.



CURTAIN



TRANSLATOR'S NOTE:
A few lines of dialogue have been added to the play explaining what a
tontine is. Tontines were named for an Italian Banker named Tonti who
discovered the scheme. Strange as it may seem this play got Le Sage in
a great deal of trouble because the government was employing the Tontine
as a means of raising revenue and this play was regarded as a subversive
attack on the revenue system of the monarchy.





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