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Title: He Who Gets Slapped - A Play in Four Acts
Author: Andreyev, Leonid Nikolayevich, 1871-1919
Language: English
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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.

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HE WHO GETS SLAPPED

[Illustration: _Setting by Lee Simonson_

_Photograph by Francis Bruguierre_

A SCENE FROM THE THEATRE GUILD PRODUCTION]



He Who Gets Slapped

A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS

BY LEONID ANDREYEV

TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY

GREGORY ZILBOORG

[Illustration: colophon]

NEW YORK

BRENTANO'S

Publishers

COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
BRENTANO'S

COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY
THE DIAL PUBLISHING COMPANY

_All rights reserved_

_Printed in the United States of America_

The first regular production of HE in English was by The Theatre Guild
on January 9, 1922, at the Garrick Theatre, New York. The original cast
was as follows:

    _Tilly_ }                                 { Philip Leigh
    _Polly_ }  _Musical Clowns_               { Edgar Stehli

    _Briquet, Manager of the Circus_            Ernest Cossart
    _Mancini, Consuelo's Father_                Frank Reicher
    _Zinida, a Lion Tamer_                      Helen Westley

    _Angelica_ } _Trapeze Performers_         { Martha Bryan Allen
    _Estelle_  }                              { Helen Sheridan

    _Francois_                                  Edwin R. Wolfe
    _HE_                                        Richard Bennett
    _Jackson, a Clown_                          Henry Travers
    _Consuelo, the Equestrian Tango Queen_      Margalo Gillmore
    _Alfred Bezano, a Bareback Rider_           John Rutherford
    _Baron Regnard_                             Louis Calvert
    _A Gentleman_                               John Blair
    _Wardrobe Lady_                             Kathryn Wilson
    _Usher_                                     Charles Cheltenham
    _Conductor_                                 Edwin R. Wolfe
    _Pierre_                                    Philip Loeb
    _A Sword Dancer_                            Renee Wilde
    _Ballet Master_                             Oliver Grymes

                                              { Vera Tompkins
                                              { Anne Tonnetti
    _Ballet Girls_                            { Marguerite Wernimont
                                              { Frances Ryan

    _Actresses in Circus Pantomime_           { Adele St. Maur
                                              { Sara Enright

    _Thomas, a Strong Man_                      Dante Voltaire
    _A Snake Charmer_                           Joan Clement
    _A Contortionist_                           Richard Coolidge
    _A Riding Master_                           Kenneth Lawton
    _A Juggler_                                 Francis G. Sadtler

    _Acrobats_                                { Sears Taylor
                                              { Luigi Belastro

_Stage Manager_, Philip Loeb _Ass't Stage Manager_, Oliver Grymes

_Produced under the direction of_ ROBERT MILTON

_Settings and Costumes by_ LEE SIMONSON

     "Stage, screen, and amateur rights for the translation and the
     original play in all English-speaking countries are owned and
     controlled by The Theatre Guild, 65 West 35th St., New York City.
     No public readings or performances may be given without their
     written consent."



INTRODUCTION


Leonid Andreyev as a literary figure was born in the gloomy atmosphere
of depression of the 'nineties. He thus appeared upon the literary stage
at a period when the old and splendid generation of Turgenev and
Dostoevsky had already passed away and when Chekhov had begun to
demonstrate before the reader the gloom and colourlessness of Russia
life.

This was a period when the social forces of Russia were half destroyed
by the reaction under Alexander III, and when the young generation was
trying to rest and to get away from the strain of social hopes and
despair. This period, briefly speaking, was a period of melancholy, of
commonplace, every-day preoccupations, and of dull _terre à terre_
philosophy.

It must be borne in mind that literature was the only outlet for the
moral and intellectual forces of Russia. Political reaction, censorship,
complete absence of civil liberties, and the cult of popular ignorance
upon which Czardom based its power, all these made the written artistic
word almost the sole expression of Russian social longings and
idealistic expectations.

It is therefore only natural that Russian literature in its general
development is closely interwoven with the political and social
conditions of Russia at the given moment. The 'nineties were a period of
depression. After the assassination of Alexander II (1881) and the
subsequent tightening of the chain of reaction, combined with a general
_débâcle_ in progressive and radical circles, the Russian intellectual
fell into a state of pessimism. His faith in an early liberation was
shattered, his hope of recovery was broken. Chekhov is the most
characteristic representative of that period; he himself called his
heroes "the dull-grey people."

Maxim Gorki and Leonid Andreyev appeared almost simultaneously at that
time. The former brought the message of a rebel spirit which forecast a
new moral upheaval, a new social protest; the latter appeared clad in
the gloom of his time, which he strangely combined with a spirit of
almost anarchistic revolt. From the point of view of historical
completeness Leonid Andreyev is more representative of the epoch,
demonstrating at once two contradictory elements of the Russia of the
'nineties: lack or even absence of faith interwoven with protest and
mutiny.

Andreyev is symbolic and romantic. Her Majesty Fate and His Excellency
Accident, these are the two dark, unknown, at times brutal forces which
dwelt ever before the mind's eye. His symbols are full of horror and at
times unbending atrocity. Beginning with his short stories, In Fog, The
Life of Basil of Thebes, through his dramas, The Life of Man, and
Anathema, until his last writings, he saw human beings in the form of
ghosts and ghosts in the form of human beings dominating every step,
every breath of life. Still his gruesome symbolism, despite his genius
for rendering his images in a clear-cut, almost crystalline manner, did
not appeal to many of his contemporaries because the dark shroud in
which Andreyev enveloped life was impenetrable and at times it was
impossible to discern in that gloom the few values which Andreyev still
found in life. Leo Tolstoy said once: "Leonid Andreyev tries to frighten
me, but I am not afraid."

Even in his splendid realistic dramas it is difficult for Andreyev to
rid himself of the habit of symbolizing and dimming the few rays of
light which try to filter through.

There was nevertheless a little corner in Andreyev's artistic heart
where there appeared some indefinite hope which never acquired a
specific artistic form, but which was alluded to many times in his
writings. In his short story, Thought, he makes fragmentary allusions to
his half-hope, half-idea: "If the lot of the Man be to become a God, his
throne will be the Book," says the hero.

But the red laugh of the Russo-Japanese war, the abortive revolution of
1905, the general ignorance and darkness of the masses, the strain of
the last war, the depreciation of human life as a value in itself,
brought Leonid Andreyev to the last step of the pessimistic ladder which
he was ever descending into the abyss of hopelessness. This state of
mind is best illustrated by his last dramatic work, HE, the One Who Gets
Slapped.

Here we see a man of high education, of great intellectual achievement,
who leaves life, willingly in appearance, but forcibly in fact. The
relations of man to man, of group to group, according to Andreyev are
such that the Man is forced to efface himself. Even Thought, or the
Book, could not help the Man to become a God. He becomes a clown. He
performs stunts, he gets slaps; the public laughs, being unaware that
this laughter is a mockery at itself, at its culture, at its thought, at
its achievement.

The characters of the play, as the reader will see, are depicted with a
bitter sarcasm and unfriendliness, for Andreyev seems to have lost his
last faith in the Man. The good, the innocent and clean heart is bound
to suffer and die. His Consuelo, Zinida, Bezano are only stray rays of
light out of place in the world and even in the world-circus which is
full of spiders, champagne, and human outcasts. Andreyev does not blame
these outcasts. On the contrary, he feels sympathy, if for anybody, for
just these clowns, jugglers, and bareback-riders; but life, this
strange combination of fate, accident, and cowardly slander, is
stronger, and they collapse under the burden of this combination.

HE is perhaps the best work of Andreyev, at any rate his best dramatic
work. It is more adapted to stage conditions than his previous plays and
is not overcrowded with symbolic ghosts. Furthermore, HE is a remarkable
summary of Andreyev's philosophy.

GREGORY ZILBOORG



HE WHO GETS SLAPPED

CAST OF CHARACTERS


    CONSUELO--_a bareback rider in a circus_.
      _Billed as "The Bareback Tango Queen."_
    MANCINI--_Consuelo's father_.
    HE--_a clown in Briquet's circus_. _Billed as "HE Who Gets Slapped."_
    BRIQUET--_Manager of the circus_.
    ZINIDA--_a lion tamer, Briquet's wife_.
    ALFRED BEZANO--_a bareback rider_.
    A GENTLEMAN.
    BARON REGNARD.
    JACKSON--_a clown_.
    TILLY }
    POLLY }--_musical clowns_.
    THOMAS, ANGELICA, _and other actors and actresses
       of Briquet's circus_.

_The action takes place in one of the large cities of France._



HE WHO GETS SLAPPED



ACT I


_A very large, rather dirty room, with whitewashed walls. To the left,
in a niche, is a window, the only outside window in the room, opening on
a court-yard. The light from it is so dim that even by day the
electricity has to be turned on._

_At the very top of the centre-back wall is a row of small dusty
windows. They open on the circus hall. At night, when the performance is
going on, a bright light shines through. By day they are dark. In the
same wall is a large white door, reached by two stone steps, and nailed
fast._

_On the right, almost in the corner, is a high, wide, arched doorway
which leads to the stables and the ring. By day it opens into pale
darkness, at night into pale light._

_The room is used for many purposes. It is the office of Papa Briquet,
manager of the circus; here he keeps his little desk. It is the
cloak-room of some of the actors. It is also the room where the cast
gathers between calls, during rehearsals or performances. Again, it is a
check-room for used circus property, such as gilt armchairs, scenery
for pantomimes, and other wares of the circus household. The walls are
covered with circus announcements and glaring posters._

_The time is morning. In the circus hall a rehearsal is going on, and
preparations are being made for the evening performance. As the curtain
goes up, the cracking whip and the shouts of the riding-master are heard
from the ring. The stage is empty for a few seconds, then enter Tilly
and Polly, the musical clowns, practising a new march. Playing on tiny
pipes, they step from the dark doorway to the window. Their music is
agreeable to the ear, but small, mincing, artificially clown-like, like
their mincing steps; they wear jackets and resemble each other; same
smooth-shaven face, same height; Tilly, the younger, has a scarf around
his neck; both have their derbies on the backs of their heads. Tilly
glances through the window, then they turn about, still marching._

POLLY

[_Interrupting the march_]: Stop, you're out again! Now, listen--[_He
stands close to Tilly and plays into his face. Tilly absent-mindedly
listens, scratching his nose._] There! Come on now! [_They resume their
music and marching. As they reach the door they meet the manager and_
MANCINI; _the latter walks behind the manager, and is gnawing at the
knob of his goldmounted cane_. COUNT MANCINI _is tall and slight. The
seams of his clothes are worn and he keeps his coat buttoned tight. He
assumes extremely graceful manners, takes affected poses, and has a
special fondness for toying with his cane, with aristocratic
stylishness. When he laughs, which happens often, his thin sharp face
takes on a marked resemblance to a satyr. The manager_, "PAPA" BRIQUET,
_is a stout quiet man of average height_. _His bearing is hesitant. The
clowns make room for the gentlemen. The manager looks questioningly at
the older man._]

POLLY

[_With an affected accent_]: Our moosic for the pantomime! The March of
the Ants!

BRIQUET

Ha! Yes!

     [_The gentlemen walk in. The clowns resume their music_, POLLY
     _marching on, then turning, the younger following._]

POLLY

Papa Briquet, Jack is working very badly to-day.

BRIQUET

What's the matter with him?

POLLY

He has a sore throat. You'd better take a look at him.

BRIQUET

All right. Come on, Jack. Open your mouth! Wider--wider. [_Turns clown's
face to the light near the window and examines him closely and
seriously._] Just smear it with iodine.

POLLY

I told him so. I said it was nothing! Oh! Come on. [_They go away
playing, marching, practising their funny mincing steps. The manager
sits down._ MANCINI _strikes a pose by the wall, smiling ironically._]

MANCINI

So. You give them medical treatment, too! Look out, Papa Briquet, you
have no licence.

BRIQUET

Just a little advice. They're all so afraid for their lives.

MANCINI

His throat is simply burnt with whiskey. These two fellows get drunk
every night. I am amazed, Papa Briquet, to see you pay so little
attention to their morals. [_He laughs._]

BRIQUET

You make me sick, Mancini.

MANCINI

Count Mancini is at your service!

BRIQUET

You make me sick, Count Mancini. You poke your nose into everything, you
disturb the artists in their work. Some day you'll get a thrashing, and
I warn you that I shan't interfere.

MANCINI

As a man of superior associations and education I cannot be expected to
treat your actors as my equals! What more can you ask, Briquet? You see
that I do you the honour of speaking with you quite familiarly, quite
simply.

BRIQUET

Ha! ha! ha! [_Slightly threatening_] Really!--

MANCINI

Never mind my joke. What if they did dare attack me--ever seen this,
Briquet? [_He draws a stiletto out of his cane and advances it
silently._] Useful little thing. By the way, you have no idea of the
discovery I made yesterday in a suburb. Such a girl! [_Laughs._] Oh,
well! all right, all right--I know you don't like that sort of sport.
But look here, you must give me a hundred francs!

BRIQUET

Not a sou.

MANCINI

Then I'll take away Consuelo--that's all----

BRIQUET

Your daily threat!

MANCINI

Yes, my threat! And you would do the same, if you were as shamefully
hard up as I am. Now look here, you know as well as I do that I have to
live up to my name somehow, keep up the family reputation. Just because
the tide of ill-fortune which struck my ancestors compelled me to make
my daughter, the Countess Veronica, a bareback rider--to keep us from
starving--do you understand--you heartless idiot!

BRIQUET

You chase the girls too much! Some day you'll land in jail, Mancini!

MANCINI

In jail? Oh, no! Why, I have to uphold our _name_, the splendour of my
family, [_laughs_] haven't I? The Mancinis are known all over Italy for
their love of girls--just girls! Is it my fault if I must pay such crazy
prices for what my ancestors got free of charge? You're nothing but an
ass, a _parvenu_ ass. How can you understand Family Traditions? I don't
drink--I stopped playing cards after that accident--no, you need not
smile. Now if I give up the girls, what will be left of Mancini? Only a
coat of arms, that's all---- In the name of family traditions,
give me a hundred francs!

BRIQUET

I told you no, I won't.

MANCINI

You know that I leave half of the salary for Consuelo--but--perhaps you
think I do not love my child--my only daughter, all that remains to me
as a memory of her sainted mother--what cruelty! [_Pretends to cry,
wipes his eyes with a small and dirty lace handkerchief, embroidered
with a coronet._]

BRIQUET

Why don't you say, rather, that she is foolish enough to give you half
her salary. You make me sick----

[_Enter Zinida, the lion tamer; burningly beautiful, her self-confident,
commanding gestures at first glance give an impression of languor. She
is_ BRIQUET'S _unmarried wife._]

ZINIDA

[_To_ MANCINI]: Good morning.

MANCINI

Madame Zinida! This barbarian, this brute may pierce me with his dagger,
but I cannot control the expression of my love! [_Kneels facetiously
before her_] Madame! Count Mancini has the honour of asking you to be
his wife....

ZINIDA

[_To_ BRIQUET]: Money?

BRIQUET

Yes.

ZINIDA

Don't give him any. [_Sits down wearily on a torn sofa, shuts her eyes.
MANCINI gets up and wipes his knees._]

MANCINI

Duchess! Don't be cruel. I am no lion, no tiger, no savage beast which
you are accustomed to tame. I am merely a poor domestic animal, who
wants, miaow, miaow, a little green grass.

ZINIDA

[_Without opening her eyes_]: Jim tells me you have a teacher for
Consuelo. What for?

MANCINI

The solicitude of a father, duchess, the solicitude and the tireless
anxiety of a loving heart. The extreme misfortunes of our family, when I
was a child, have left some flaws in her education. Friends, the
daughter of Count Mancini, Countess Veronica, can barely read! Is that
admissible? And you, Briquet, heartless brute, you still ask why I need
money!

ZINIDA

Artful!

BRIQUET

What are you teaching her?

MANCINI

Everything. A student had been giving her lessons, but I threw him out
yesterday. He had the nerve to fall in love with Consuelo and stood
there miaowing at the door like a cat. Everything, Briquet, that you
don't know--literature, mythology, orthography----

[_Two young actresses appear, with small fur coats thrown over their
light dresses. They are tired and sit down in the corner._]

MANCINI

I do not wish my daughter----

ZINIDA

Artful!

BRIQUET

You are stupid, Mancini. What do you do it for? [_In a didactic tone_]
You are fearfully stupid, Mancini. Why does she need to learn? Since she
is here she need never know anything about that life. Don't you
understand? What is geography? If I were the government I would forbid
artists to read books. Let them read the posters, that's enough.

     [_During_ BRIQUET'S _speech, the two clowns and another actor
     enter. They sit down wearily._]

BRIQUET

Right now, your Consuelo is an excellent artist, but just as soon as you
teach her mythology, and she begins to read, she'll become a nuisance,
she'll be corrupted, and then she'll go and poison herself. I know those
books, I've read 'em myself. All they teach is corruption, and how to
kill oneself.

FIRST ACTRESS

I love the novels that come out in the newspaper.

BRIQUET

That shows what a foolish girl you are. You'll be done for in no time.
Believe me, my friends, we must forget entirely what is happening out
there. How can we understand all that goes on there?

MANCINI

You are an enemy of enlightenment, you are an obscurantist, Briquet.

BRIQUET

And you are stupid. You are from out there. What has it taught you?
[_The actors laugh._] If you'd been born in a circus as I was, you'd
know something. Enlightenment is plain nonsense--nothing else. Ask
Zinida. She knows everything they teach out there--geography,
mythology---- Does it make her any happier? You tell them, dear.

ZINIDA

Leave me alone, Louis.

MANCINI

[_Angrily_]: Oh! Go to the devil! When I listen to your asinine
philosophy, I'd like to skin you for more than a paltry hundred
francs--for two hundred--for a thousand. Great God! What an ass of a
manager! Yes, right before every one of them I want to say that you are
a stingy old skinflint--that you pay starvation wages. I'll make you
give Consuelo a raise of a hundred francs. Listen, all you honest
vagabonds, tell me--who is it draws the crowd that fills the circus
every night? You? a couple of musical donkeys? Tigers, lions? Nobody
cares for those hungry cats!

ZINIDA

Leave the tigers alone.

MANCINI

Beg your pardon, Zinida. I did not mean to hurt your feelings--honestly.
I really marvel at your furious audacity--at your grace--you are a
heroine--I kiss your tiny hands. But what do they understand about
heroism? [_An orchestra softly plays the Tango in the circus. He
continues with enthusiasm._] Hear! hear! Now tell me, honest vagabonds,
who but Consuelo and Bezano draws the crowds! That Tango on
horseback--it is--it is---- Oh, the devil! Even his fatuousness
the Pope could not withstand its lure.

POLLY

True! It's a great trick--wasn't the idea Bezano's?

MANCINI

Idea! Idea! The lad's in love, like a cat--that's the idea. What's the
good of an idea without a woman! You wouldn't dance very far with your
idea alone, eh, Papa Briquet?

BRIQUET

We have a contract.

MANCINI

Such base formalities.

ZINIDA

Give him ten francs and let him go.

MANCINI

Ten! Never! _Fifteen!_ Don't be stubborn, Papa. For the traditions of my
house--twenty. I swear--on my honour--I can't do with less. [BRIQUET
_hands him twenty francs. Nonchalantly_] _Merci._ Thanks.

ZINIDA

Why don't you take it from your baron?

MANCINI

[_Raising his eyebrows haughtily, quite indignant_]: From the Baron?
Woman! who do you think I am that I should be beholden to a stranger?

ZINIDA

You're plotting something artful. I know you very little, but I guess
you're an awful scoundrel.

MANCINI

[_Laughs_]: Such an insult from such beautiful lips.

[_Enter an "artist," apparently an athlete._]

ATHLETE

Papa Briquet, there's a gentleman from beyond the grave asking for you.

ACTRESS

A ghost?

ATHLETE

No. He seems alive. Did you ever see a drunken ghost?

BRIQUET

If he's drunk, tell him I'm out, Thomas. Does he want to see me or the
Count?

ATHLETE

No, you. Maybe he's not drunk, but just a ghost.

MANCINI

[_Draws himself together, puffs up_]: A society man?

ATHLETE

Yes. I'll tell him to come in.

     [_One hears the whip cracking in the ring. The Tango sounds very
     low and distant--then comes nearer--louder. Silence._]

BRIQUET

[_Touching_ ZINIDA'S _arm_]: Tired?

ZINIDA

[_Drawing back a little_]: No.

POLLY

Your red lion is nervous to-day, Zinida!

ZINIDA

You shouldn't tease him.

POLLY

I played a melody from Traviata for him. And he sang with me. Wouldn't
that be a good trick to stage, Papa Briquet?

     [THOMAS _brings in the gentleman, points out the manager, and goes
     heavily away. The gentleman is not young, and he is ugly, but his
     rather strange face is bold and lively. He wears an expensive
     overcoat, with a fur collar, and holds his hat and gloves in his
     hand._]

GENTLEMAN

[_Bowing and smiling_]: Have I the pleasure of addressing the manager?

BRIQUET

Yes. Won't you sit down, please? Tilly, bring a chair.

GENTLEMAN

Oh! Don't trouble. [_Looks around._] These are your artists? Very
glad----

MANCINI

[_Straightening and bowing slightly_]: Count Mancini.

GENTLEMAN

[_Surprised_]: Count?

BRIQUET

[_Indignantly_]: Yes, Count. And whom have I the honour of----

GENTLEMAN

I don't quite know myself--yet. As a rule you choose your own names,
don't you? I have not chosen yet. Later you might advise me about it. I
have an idea already, but I am afraid it sounds too much like
literature--you know.

BRIQUET

Literature?

GENTLEMAN

Yes! Too sophisticated. [_They all look surprised._] I presume these two
gentlemen are clowns? I am so glad. May I shake hands with them?
[_Stands up and shakes hands with clowns, who make silly faces._]

BRIQUET

Excuse me--but what can I do for you?

GENTLEMAN

[_With the same pleasant, confident smile_]: Oh. You do something for
me? No. I want to do something for you, Papa Briquet.

BRIQUET

_Papa_ Briquet? But you don't look like----

GENTLEMAN

[_Reassuringly_]: It's all right. I shall become "like." These two
gentlemen just made remarkable faces. Would you like to see me imitate
them? Look! [_He makes the same silly faces as the clowns._]

BRIQUET

Yes! [_Involuntarily_] You are not drunk, sir?

GENTLEMAN

No. I don't drink as a rule. Do I look drunk?

POLLY

A little.

GENTLEMAN

No--I don't drink. It is a peculiarity of my talent.

BRIQUET

[_Familiarly_]: Where did you work before? Juggler?

GENTLEMAN

No. But I am glad you feel in me a comrade, Papa Briquet. Unfortunately
I am not a juggler, and have worked nowhere--I am--just so.

MANCINI

But you look like a society man.

GENTLEMAN

Oh, you flatter me, Count. I am just so.

BRIQUET

Well, what do you want? You see I am obliged to tell you that everything
is taken.

GENTLEMAN

That's immaterial. I want to be a clown, if you will allow me. [_Some of
the actors smile_, BRIQUET _begins to grow angry_.]

BRIQUET

But what can you do? You're asking too much. What can you do?

GENTLEMAN

Why! Nothing! Isn't that funny! I can't do a thing.

BRIQUET

No, it's not funny. Any scoundrel knows that much.

GENTLEMAN

[_Rather helpless, but still smiling and looking around_]: We can invent
something----

BRIQUET

[_Ironically_]: From literature?

[_The clown Jackson enters slowly without being noticed by the others.
He stands behind the gentlemen._]

GENTLEMAN

Yes, one can find something literary, too. A nice little speech for
instance on, let's say, a religious topic. Something like a debate among
the clowns.

BRIQUET

A debate! The devil! This is no academy.

GENTLEMAN

[_Sadly_]: I am very sorry. Something else then. Perhaps a joke about
the creation of the world and its rulers?

BRIQUET

What about the police? No, no--nothing like that!

JACKSON

[_Coming forward_]: The rulers of the world? You don't like them? I
don't either. Shake.

BRIQUET

[_Introducing_]: Our chief clown, the famous Jackson.

GENTLEMAN

[_Enthusiastically_]: Great heavens--you! Allow me to shake hands with
you heartily! You, with your genius, you have given me so much joy!

JACKSON

I'm glad indeed!

BRIQUET

[_Shrugs his shoulders; to Jackson_]: He wants to be a clown! Look him
over, Jim.

     [_Jackson makes a motion at which the gentleman hurriedly removes
     his coat and throws it on a chair. He is ready for the examination.
     Jackson turns him round, looking him over critically._]

JACKSON

Clown? Hm! Turn round then. Clown? Yes? Now smile. Wider--broader--do
you call that a smile? So--that's better. There is something, yes--but
for full developments---- [_Sadly_]: Probably you can't even turn a
somersault?

GENTLEMAN

[_Sighs_]: No.

JACKSON

How old are you?

GENTLEMAN

Thirty-nine. Too late? [_Jackson moves away with a whistle. There is a
silence._]

ZINIDA

[_Softly_]: Take him.

BRIQUET

[_Indignant_]: What the hell shall I do with him if he doesn't know a
thing? He's drunk!

GENTLEMAN

Honestly I am not. Thank you for your support, Madame. Are you not the
famous Zinida, the lion tamer, whose regal beauty and audacity----

ZINIDA

Yes. But I do not like flattery.

GENTLEMAN

It is not flattery.

MANCINI

You are evidently not accustomed to good society, my dear. Flattery?
This gentleman expresses his admiration in sincere and beautiful
words--and you--you are not educated, Zinida. As for myself----

[_Enter CONSUELO and BEZANO in circus costume._]

CONSUELO

You here, Daddy?

MANCINI

Yes, my child, you are not tired? [_Kisses her on the forehead._] My
daughter, sir, Countess Veronica. Known on the stage as Consuelo, The
Bareback Tango Queen. Did you ever see her?

GENTLEMAN

I have enjoyed her work. It is marvellous!

MANCINI

Yes! Of course. Everyone admits it. And how do you like the name,
Consuelo? I took it from the novel of George Sand. It means
"Consolation."

GENTLEMAN

What a wonderful knowledge of books!

MANCINI

A small thing. Despite your strange intention, I can see, sir, that you
are a gentleman. My peer! Let me explain to you, that only the strange
and fatal misfortunes of our ancient family--"_sic transit gloria
mundi_," sir.

CONSUELO

It's a bore, Daddy---- Where's my handkerchief, Alfred?

BEZANO

Here it is.

CONSUELO

[_Showing the handkerchief to the gentleman_]: Genuine Venetian. Do you
like it?

GENTLEMAN

[_Again bowing_]: My eyes are dazzled, how beautiful! Papa Briquet, the
more I look around me the more I want to stay with you. [_Makes the face
of a simpleton._] On the one hand a count, on the other----

JACKSON

[_Nods approval_]: That's not bad. Look here, think a bit--find
something. Everyone here thinks for himself.

     [_Silence. The gentleman stands with a finger on his forehead,
     thinking._]

GENTLEMAN

Find something--find something ... Eureka!

POLLY

That means _found_. Come!

GENTLEMAN

Eureka---- I shall be among you, he who gets slapped. [_General
laughter. Even_ BRIQUET _smiles_.]

GENTLEMAN

[Looks at them smiling]: You see I made even you laugh--is that easy?
[_All grow serious. Polly sighs._]

TILLY

No, it's not easy. Did you laugh, Polly?

POLLY

Sure, a lot. Did you?

TILLY

I did. [_Imitating an instrument, he plays with his lips a melody at
once sad and gay._]

JACKSON

"He Who Gets Slapped," that's not bad.

GENTLEMAN

It's not, is it? I rather like it myself. It suits my talent. And
comrades, I have even found a name--you'll call me "HE." Is that all
right?

JACKSON

[_Thinking_]: "HE"--Not bad.

CONSUELO

[_In a singing, melodic voice_]: "HE" is so funny--"HE"--like a dog.
Daddy, are there such dogs?

     [_Jackson suddenly gives a circus slap to the gentleman. HE steps
     back and grows pale._]

GENTLEMAN

What!--[_General laughter covers his exclamation._]

JACKSON

HE Who Gets Slapped. Or didn't you get it?

POLLY

[_Comically_]: He says he wants more---- [_The gentleman smiles, rubbing
his cheek._]

GENTLEMAN

So sudden.--Without waiting.--How funny--you didn't hurt me, and yet my
cheek burns.

     [_Again there is loud laughter. The clowns cackle like ducks, hens,
     cocks; they bark._ ZINIDA _says something to_ BRIQUET, _casts a
     glance toward_ BEZANO, _and goes out_. MANCINI _assumes a bored air
     and looks at his watch_. _The two actresses go out._]

JACKSON

Take him, Papa Briquet--he will push us.

MANCINI

[_Again looking at his watch_]: But bear in mind, that Papa Briquet is
as close as Harpagon. If you expect to get good money here you are
mistaken. [_HE laughs._] A slap? What's a slap? Worth only small change,
a franc and a half a dozen. Better go back to society; you will make
more money there. Why for one slap, just a light tap, you might say, my
friend, Marquis Justi, was paid fifty thousand lire!

BRIQUET

Shut up, Mancini. Will you take care of him, Jackson.

JACKSON

I can.

POLLY

Do you like music? A Beethoven sonata played on a broom, for instance,
or Mozart on a bottle?

HE

Alas! No. But I will be exceedingly grateful if you will teach me. A
clown! My childhood's dream. When all my school friends were thrilled by
Plutarch's heroes, or the light of science--I dreamed of clowns.
Beethoven on a broom, Mozart on bottles! Just what I have sought all my
life! Friends, I must have a costume!

JACKSON

I see you don't know much! A costume [_putting his finger on his
forehead_] is a thing which calls for deep thought. Have you seen my Sun
here? [_Strikes his posterior._] I looked for it two years.

HE

[_Enthusiastically_]: I shall think!

MANCINI

It is time for me to go. Consuelo, my child, you must get dressed. [_To
HE._] We are lunching with Baron Regnard, a friend of mine, a banker.

CONSUELO

But I don't want to go, Daddy. Alfred says I must rehearse to-day.

MANCINI

[_Horrified, holding up his hands_]: Child, think of me, and what a
situation you put me in! I promised the Baron, the Baron expects us.
Why, it is impossible! Oh, I am in a cold sweat.

CONSUELO

Alfred says----

BEZANO

[_Drily_]: She has to work. Are you rested? Then come on.

MANCINI

But--the devil take me if I know what to make of it. Hey, Bezano,
bareback rider! Are you crazy? I gave you permission for Art's sake, to
exercise my daughter's talent--and you----

CONSUELO

Go along, Papa, and don't be so silly. We've got to work, haven't we?
Have lunch along with your Baron. And Daddy, you forgot to take a clean
handkerchief again, and I washed two for you yesterday. Where did you
put them?

MANCINI

[_Ashamed, blushing_]: Why, my linen is washed by the laundress, and
you, Consuelo, are still playing with toys. It is stupid! You're a
chatter-box. You don't think. These gentlemen might imagine Heaven knows
what. How stupid. I'm off.

CONSUELO

Do you want me to write him a little note?

MANCINI

[_Angrily_]: A little note? Your little notes would make a horse laugh!
Good-bye.

     [_He goes out toying angrily with his cane. The clowns follow him
     respectfully, playing a funeral march. HE and_ JACKSON _laugh. The
     actors disappear one by one._]

CONSUELO

[_Laughing_]: Do I really write so badly? And I love so to write. Did
you like my note, Alfred--or did you laugh, too?

BEZANO

[_Blushing_]: No, I did not. Come on, Consuelo.

     [_They go, and meet_ ZINIDA, _entering. Consuelo passes on._]

ZINIDA

Are you going back to work, BEZANO?

BEZANO

[_Politely_]: Yes. To-day is a very bad day. How are your lions, Zinida?
I think the weather affects them.

CONSUELO

[_From the ring_]: Alfred!

ZINIDA

Yes. Some one is calling you. You'd better go. [_Alfred goes out. To_
BRIQUET] Are you finished?

BRIQUET

Right away.

JACKSON

Then good-bye till evening. Think about your costume, HE, and I shall
look for some idea, too. Be here at ten to-morrow. Don't be late, or
you'll get another slap. And I'll work with you.

HE

I shall not be late. [_He looks after_ JACKSON _who goes out._] Must be
a nice man. All the people about you are so nice, Papa Briquet. I
suppose that good-looking bareback rider is in love with Consuelo, isn't
he? [_Laughs._]

ZINIDA

It's none of your business. For a newcomer you go poking your nose too
far. How much does he want, Papa?

BRIQUET

Just a minute. See here HE. I don't want to make a contract with you.

HE

Just as you please. Do you know what? Don't let us talk about money. You
are an honest fellow, Briquet; you will see what my work is worth to
you, and then----

BRIQUET

[_Pleased_]: Now that's very nice of you. Zinida, the man really doesn't
know anything.

ZINIDA

Well, do as he suggests. Now we must write it down. Where's the book?

BRIQUET

Here. [_To HE_.] I don't like to write [_gives book to_ ZINIDA], but we
have to put down the names of the actors, you know--it's police
regulations. Then if anyone kills himself, or----

     [_Again comes the sound of the Tango, and calls from the ring._]

ZINIDA

What is your name?

HE

[_Smiling_]: HE. I chose it, you know. Or don't you like it?

BRIQUET

We like it all right--but we have to have your real name. Have you a
passport?

HE

[_Confused_]: A passport? No, I have none. Or, rather, yes. I have
something of the kind, but I had no idea the rules were strictly
enforced here. What do you need papers for?

     [ZINIDA _and_ BRIQUET _look at each other_. ZINIDA _pushes the book
     aside_.]

ZINIDA

Then we can't take you. We cannot quarrel with the police, just on your
account.

BRIQUET

She is my wife. I hadn't told you. She's right. You might get hurt by a
horse, or hurt yourself--or do something. We don't know you, you see. I
personally don't care, but out there, it's different, you see. For me a
corpse is just a corpse--and I don't ask anything about him. It's up to
God or the Devil. But they--they're too curious. Well, I suppose it's
necessary for order. I don't know---- Got a card?

HE

[_Rubs his head, thinking_]: What shall I do? I have my card, but
[_smiles_] you understand that I don't want my name to be known.

BRIQUET

Some story, hey?

HE

Yes, something like that. Why can't you imagine that I have no name?
Can't I lose it as I might lose my hat? Or let someone else take it by
mistake? When a stray dog comes to you, you don't ask his name--you
simply give him another. Let me be that dog. [_Laughing_] HE--the Dog!

ZINIDA

Why don't you tell us your name, just the two of us. Nobody else need
know it. Unless you should break your neck----

HE

[_Hesitates_]: Honestly? [ZINIDA _shrugs her shoulders_.]

BRIQUET

Where people are honest, their word is good. One sees you come from _out
there_.

HE

All right. But please, don't be surprised. [_Gives_ ZINIDA _his card.
She looks at it, then hands it to_ BRIQUET, _then both look at HE_.]

BRIQUET

If it is true, sir, that you are really what is written here----

HE

For heaven's sake--for heaven's sake--this does not exist, but was lost
long ago; it is just a check for an old hat. I pray you to forget it, as
I have. I am HE Who Gets Slapped--nothing else. [_Silence._]

BRIQUET

I beg your pardon, sir, but I must ask you again, I must humbly ask
you--are you not drunk, sir? There is something in your
eye--something----

HE

No, no. I am He, Who Gets Slapped. Since when do you speak to me like
this, Papa Briquet? You offend me.

ZINIDA

After all, it's his business, Briquet. [_She hides the card._] Truly you
are a strange man. [_Smiles._] And you have already noticed that Bezano
is in love with the horse-girl? And that I love my Briquet, did you
notice that, too?

HE

[_Also smiling_]: Oh, yes. You adore him.

ZINIDA

I adore him. Now go with him, Briquet, show him the ring and the
stables--I have something to write.

HE

Yes, yes, please. I am so happy. At last you have taken me, haven't you?
It is true--you're not joking. The circus, the tan-bark, the ring in
which I shall run getting my slaps. Yes, yes, Briquet, let's go. Until I
feel the sawdust under my feet, I shall not believe it.

BRIQUET

All right then. [_Kisses_ ZINIDA.] Come on.

ZINIDA

Just a minute--HE! Answer me a question. I have a man who takes care of
the cages, a plain fellow whom nobody knows. He just cleans the cages
you know; he walks in and out whenever he wants to, without even looking
at the lions, as if he were perfectly at home. Why is that so? Nobody
knows him, everybody knows me, everyone is afraid for me, while---- And
he is such a silly man--you will see him. [_Laughs._] But don't you
think of entering the cage yourself! My red one would give you such a
slap!

BRIQUET

[_Displeased_]: There you are again, Zinida--stop it.

ZINIDA

[_Laughs_]: All right--go. Oh yes, Louis, send me Bezano. I have to
settle an account with him.

     [HE _and the director go out_. ZINIDA _looks at the card once more,
     then hides it. She gets up and walks quickly up and down the room.
     She stops to listen to the Tango, which ends abruptly. Then she
     stands motionless, looking straight at the dark opening of the door
     through which_ BEZANO _comes_.]

BEZANO

[_Entering_]: You called me, Zinida? What do you want? Tell me quickly,
I have no time----

     [ZINIDA _looks at him silently_. BEZANO _flushes with anger, and
     knits his eyebrows. He turns to the door to go._]

ZINIDA

Bezano!

BEZANO

[_Stops, without looking up_]: What do you want? I have no time.

ZINIDA

Bezano! I keep hearing people say that you are in love with Consuelo. Is
it true?

BEZANO

[_Shrugging his shoulders_]: We work well together.

ZINIDA

[_Takes a step forward_]: No---- Tell me, Alfred, do you love her?

BEZANO

[_Flushes like a boy, but looks straight into_ ZINIDA'S _eyes.
Proudly_]: I do not love anybody. No, I love nobody. How can I?
Consuelo? She is here to-day, gone to-morrow, if her father should take
her away. And I? Who am I? An acrobat, the son of a Milanese
shoemaker---- She! I cannot even talk about it. Like my horses I have no
words. Who am I to love?

ZINIDA

Do you love me? A little?

BEZANO

No. I told you before.

ZINIDA

Still no? Not even a little?

BEZANO

[_After a silence_]: I am afraid of you.

ZINIDA

[_Wants to cry out, indignantly, but masters herself and lowers her
eyes, as if in an effort to shut out their light; turns pale_]: Am I ...
so terrifying a woman----

BEZANO

You are beautiful, like a queen. You are almost as beautiful as
Consuelo. But I don't like your eyes. Your eyes command me to love
you--and I don't like to be commanded. I am afraid of you.

ZINIDA

Do I command, Bezano? No--only implore.

BEZANO

Then why not look at me straight? Now I have it. You know yourself that
your eyes cannot implore. [_Laughs._] Your lions have spoiled you.

ZINIDA

My red lion loves me----

BEZANO

Never! If he loves you, why is he so sad?

ZINIDA

Yesterday he was licking my hands like a dog.

BEZANO

And this morning he was looking for you to devour you. He thrusts out
his muzzle and looks out, as if he sees only you. He is afraid of you,
and he hates you. Or do you want me to lick your hands too, like a dog?

ZINIDA

No, Alfred, but I--I want to kiss _your_ hand. [_With passion_]: Give it
to me!

BEZANO

[_Severely_]: I am ashamed to listen to you when you speak like that.

ZINIDA

[_Controlling herself_]: One should not torture another as you torture
me. Alfred, I love you. No, I do not command. Look into my eyes---- _I
love you._ [_Silence._]

BEZANO

[_Turns to go_]: Good-bye.

ZINIDA

Alfred----

[HE _appears in the doorway, and stops_.]

BEZANO

Please never tell me any more that you love me. I don't want it.
Otherwise I will quit. You pronounce the word love as if you were
cracking me with your whip. You know it is disgusting----

     [_He turns brusquely and goes. Both notice HE_; BEZANO, _frowning,
     passes out quickly_. ZINIDA _returns to her place at the desk, with
     a proudly indifferent expression_.]

HE

[_Coming in_]: I beg your pardon, but I----

ZINIDA

There you are again, poking your nose into everything, HE. Do you really
want a slap?

HE

[_Laughing_]: No. I simply forgot my overcoat. I didn't hear anything.

ZINIDA

I don't care whether you did or not.

HE

May I take my coat?

ZINIDA

Take it if it's yours. Sit down, HE.

HE

I am sitting down.

ZINIDA

Now tell me HE, could you love me?

HE

[_Laughing_]: I? I and Love! Look at me, Zinida. Did you ever see a
lover with such a face?

ZINIDA

One can succeed with such a face----

HE

That's because I am happy--because I lost my hat--because I am drunk--or
perhaps I am not drunk. But I feel as dizzy as a young girl at her
first ball. It is so nice here--slap me, I want to play my part. Perhaps
it will awaken love in my heart, too. Love--[_as if listening to his own
heart with pretended terror_] do you know--I feel it!

[_In the circus the Tango is played again_.]

ZINIDA

[_Listening too_]: For me?

HE

No. I don't know. For everyone. [_Listens to the music._] Yes, they are
dancing--how beautiful Consuelo is--and how beautiful is the youth. He
has the body of a Greek God; he looks as if he had been modeled by
Praxiteles. Love! Love! [_Silence, music._.]

ZINIDA

Tell me, HE----

HE

At your service, Queen!

ZINIDA

HE, what shall I do, to make my lions love me?

CURTAIN



ACT II


_The same room, during the evening performance. Occasional music,
laughter, shrieks, and applause are audible. Through the small windows,
back centre, the light is shining._

_Consuelo and Baron Regnard occupy the stage; Consuelo wears her stage
costume; she sits with her feet on the sofa, a small shawl covering her
shoulders. Before her stands the Baron, a tall stout man in evening
dress, a rose in his button-hole; grasping the ground with feet well
apart, he gazes at her with convex spider-like eyes._

BARON

Is it true that your father, the Count, has introduced you to a certain
Marquis Justi, a very rich man?

CONSUELO

[_Surprised_]: No, he is only joking. I have often heard him speak of a
Marquis Justi but I have never seen him----

BARON

And do you know that your father is just a charlatan?

CONSUELO

Oh! Don't say that--Father is such a dear.

BARON

Did you like the jewels?

CONSUELO

Yes, very much. I was very sorry when Father told me I must return them.
He said it would not be nice for me to keep them. I even cried a little
about it.

BARON

Your father is only a beggar and a charlatan.

CONSUELO

Oh, no, don't scold him--he loves you so much.

BARON

Let me kiss your hand----

CONSUELO

Oh, no, it isn't proper! One may kiss the hand only when one says how do
you do or good-bye. But in the meantime you can't.

BARON

Everybody is in love with you, that is why you and your father make such
a fuss about yourselves. Who is that new clown they call HE? I don't
like him, he's too shrewd a beast.... Is he in love with you, too? I
noticed the way he looked at you....

CONSUELO

[_Laughing_]: Nothing of the kind. He is so funny! He got fifty-two
slaps yesterday. We counted them. Think of it, fifty-two slaps! Father
said, "if they had only been gold pieces."

BARON

And Bezano, Consuelo.... Do you like him?

CONSUELO

Yes, very much. He is so good-looking. He says that Bezano and I are the
most beautiful couple in the world. HE calls him Adam, and me Eve. But
that's improper, isn't it? HE is _so_ improper.

BARON

And does HE speak to you very often?

CONSUELO

Yes, often.... But I don't understand him. It seems as if he were drunk.

BARON

"Consuelo"!... It means in Spanish ... Consolation. Your father is an
ass.... Consuelo, I love you.

CONSUELO

Talk it over with Father.

BARON

[_Angry_]: Your father is a swindler and a charlatan. He should be
turned over to the police. Don't you understand that I _cannot_ marry
you?

CONSUELO

But Father says you can....

BARON

No, I cannot. And what if I shoot myself? Consuelo, silly girl, I love
you unbearably ... unbearably, do you understand? I am probably mad ...
and must be taken to a doctor, yanked about, beaten with sticks. Why do
I love you so much, Consuelo?

CONSUELO

Then, you'd better marry.

BARON

I have had a hundred women, beauties, but I didn't see them. You are the
first and I don't see any one else. Who strikes man with love, God or
the Devil? The Devil struck me. Let me kiss your hand.

CONSUELO

No. [_She thinks a while and sighs._]

BARON

Do you think sometimes? What are you thinking about now Consuelo?

CONSUELO

[_With another sigh_]: I don't know why, I just felt sorry for Bezano.
[_Sighs again._] He is so nice to me when he teaches me ... and he has
such a tiny little room.

BARON

[_Indignant_]: You were there?

CONSUELO

No. He told me about it. [_Smiling_] Do you hear the noise in there?
That's HE getting slapped. Poor thing ... although I know it doesn't
hurt, it's only make-believe. The intermission is coming soon.

     [_The_ BARON _throws away his cigar, takes two quick steps forward,
     and falls on his knees before the girl_.]

BARON

Consuelo----

CONSUELO

Please, don't. Get up. Please leave my hand alone.

BARON

Consuelo!

CONSUELO

[_Disgusted_]: Get up please, it's disgusting--you're so fat.

     [_The_ BARON _gets up. Voices are heard near the door and in the
     ring. It is the intermission. The clowns come first, talking
     cheerfully and excitedly. He leads them, in his clown's dress,
     with painted eyebrows and white nose; the others are applauding
     him. Voices of the actors calling: "Bravo! HE." Then come the
     actors and actresses, riding-masters, and the rest, all in costume.
     ZINIDA is not among them. PAPA BRIQUET comes a little later._]

POLLY

A hundred slaps! Bravo, HE!

JACKSON

Not bad, not bad at all. You'll make a career.

TILLY

He was the Professor to-day, and we were the students. Here goes
another! [_Gives him a clown's slap. Laughter. All bid good evening to
the BARON. He is politely rude to these vagabonds who bore him, and
remains silent. They seem quite used to it. Enter MANCINI. He is the
same, and with the same cane._]

MANCINI

[_Shaking hands_]: What a success, Baron--and think of it--how the crowd
does love slaps. [_Whispering_] Your knees are dusty, Baron, brush them
off. The floor is very dirty in here. [_Aloud_] Consuelo, dear child,
how do you feel? [_Goes over to his daughter. Sound of laughing,
chattering. The waiters from the buffet in the lobby bring in soda and
wine. Consuelo's voice it heard._]

CONSUELO

And where is Bezano?

HE

[_Bows before the_ BARON, _affecting intimacy_]: _You_ do not recognize
me, Baron?

BARON

Yes I do. You are the clown, HE.

HE

Yes I am HE Who Gets Slapped. May I presume to ask you, Baron, did you
get your jewels back?

BARON

What!

HE

I was asked to return some jewels to you, and I take the liberty of----
[_The_ BARON _turns his back on him--HE laughs loudly_.]

JACKSON

Whiskey and soda! Believe me, ladies and gents, HE will surely make a
career. I am an old clown, and I know the crowd. Why to-day, he even
eclipsed _me_--and clouds have covered my Sun. [_Striking it._] They do
not like puzzles, they want slaps! They are longing for them and
dreaming about them in their homes. Your health, HE! Another whiskey and
soda! HE got so many slaps to-day, there would be enough to go round the
whole orchestra!

TILLY

I bet there wouldn't! [_To Jackson_] Shake!

POLLY

I bet there wouldn't--I'll go and count the old mugs.

A VOICE

The orchestra did not laugh----

JACKSON

Because they were getting it, but the galleries did, because they were
looking at the orchestra getting slapped. Your health, HE!

HE

Your's Jim! Tell me, why didn't you let me finish my speech--I was just
getting a good start.

JACKSON

[_Seriously_]: My friend, because your speech was a sacrilege.
Politics--all right. Manners--as much as you want. But Providence--leave
it in peace. And believe me, friend, I shut your mouth in time. Didn't
I, Papa Briquet?

BRIQUET

[_Coming nearer_]: Yes. It was too much like literature. This is not an
academy. You forget yourself, HE.

TILLY

But to shut one's mouth--faugh....

BRIQUET

[_In a didactic tone_]: Whenever one shuts one's mouth, it is always
high time to shut it, unless one is drinking. Hey, whiskey and soda!

VOICES

Whiskey and soda for the Manager!

MANCINI

But this is obscurantism. Philosophizing again, Briquet?

BRIQUET

I am not satisfied with you to-day, HE. Why do you tease them? They
don't like it. Your health! A good slap must be clean like a
crystal--fft-fft! right side, left side, and done with it. They will
like it; they will laugh, and love you. But in your slaps there is a
certain bite, you understand, a certain smell----

HE

But they laughed, nevertheless!

BRIQUET

But without pleasure, without pleasure, HE. You pay, and immediately
draw a draft on their bank; it's not the right game--they won't like
you.

JACKSON

That's what _I_ tell him. He had already begun to make them angry.

BEZANO

[_Entering_]: Consuelo, where are you? I have been looking for you--come
on. [_Both go out. The_ BARON, _after hesitating a while, follows
them_. MANCINI _accompanies him respectfully to the door_.]

HE

[_Sighs_]: You don't understand, my dear friends; you are simply old,
and have forgotten the smell of the stage.

JACKSON

Aha! Who is old, my young man?

HE

Don't be angry, Jim. It's a play, don't you understand? I become happy
when I enter the ring and hear the music. I wear a mask and I feel
humorous. There is a mask on my face, and I play. I may say _anything_
like a drunkard. Do you understand? Yesterday when I, with this stupid
face, was playing the great man, the philosopher [_he assumes a proud
monumental pose, and repeats the gesture of the play--general laughter_]
I was walking this way, and was telling how great, how wise, how
incomparable I was--how God lived in me, how high I stood above the
earth--how glory shone above my head [_his voice changes and he is
speaking faster_] then you, Jim, you hit me for the first time. And I
asked you, "What is it, they're applauding me?" Then, at the tenth
slap, I said: "It seems to me that they sent for me from the Academy?"
[_Acts, looking around him with an air of unconquerable pride and
splendour. Laughter. Jackson gives him a real slap._]

HE

[_Holding his face_]: Why?

JACKSON

Because you're a fool, and play for nothing. Waiter, the check.
(_Laughter. The bell calls them to the ring. The actors go out in haste,
some running. The waiters collect their money._)

BRIQUET

[_In a sing-song_]: To the ring--to the ring--

MANCINI

I want to tell you something, HE. You are not going yet?

HE

No. I'll take a rest.

BRIQUET

To the ring--to the ring--

     [_The clowns as they go sing in shrill, squeaky voices. Little by
     little they all disappear, and loud music begins. HE seats himself
     on the sofa with his legs crossed, and yawns._]

MANCINI

HE, you have something none of my ancestors ever had--money. Let's have
a nice bottle on you. Waiter, please--[_The waiter who was taking up
dishes, brings a bottle of wine and glasses and goes out._]

HE

You're blue, Mancini. [_Stretches._] Well, at my age, a hundred
slaps--it seems pretty hard. So you're blue. How are things getting on
with your girl?

MANCINI

Tss! Bad! Complications--parents--[_shudders_] Agh--

HE

Prison!

MANCINI

[_Laughing_]: Prison! Mustn't I uphold the glory of my name now, eh? HE,
I'm joking--but there is Hell in my heart. You're the only one who
understands me. But tell me how to explain this passion? It will turn
my hair grey, it'll bring me to prison, to the grave. I am a tragic man.
HE--[_Wipes his eyes with a dirty handkerchief._] Why don't I like
things which are not forbidden? Why, at all moments, even at the very
moment of ecstasy, must I be reminded of some law--it is stupid. HE, I
am becoming an anarchist. Good God!--Count Mancini, an anarchist. That's
the only thing I've missed.

HE

Isn't there a way of settling it somehow?

MANCINI

Is there a way of getting money, somehow?

HE

And the Baron?

MANCINI

Oh, yes! He's just waiting for it, the bloodsucker! He'll get what he's
after. Some day, you'll see me give him Consuelo for ten thousand
francs, perhaps for five!

HE

Cheap.

MANCINI

Did I say it was anything else? Do I want to do it? But these bourgeois
are strangling me, they've got me by the throat. HE, one can easily see
that you're a gentleman, and of good society, you understand me--I
showed you the jewels which I sent back to him--damn honesty--I didn't
even dare change the stones, put false ones--

HE

Why?

MANCINI

It would have queered the game. Do you think he didn't weigh the
diamonds when he got them back?

HE

He will not marry her.

MANCINI

Yes he will. You don't understand. [_Laughs._] The first half of his
life, this man had only appetites--now love's got him. If he does not
get Consuelo, he is lost, he is--like a withered narcissus. Plague take
him with his automobiles. Did you see his car?

HE

I did.... Give Consuelo to the Jockey--

MANCINI

To Bezano? [_Laughs._] What nonsense you do talk! Oh, I know. It's your
joke about Adam and Eve. But please stop it. It's clever, but it
compromises the child. She told me about it.

HE

Or give her to me.

MANCINI

Have you a billion? [_Laughs._] Ah, HE, I'm not in the proper mood to
listen to your clownish jokes--They say there are terrible jails in this
country, and no discriminations are being made between people of my
kind, and plain scoundrels. Why do you look at me like that? You're
making fun of me?

HE

No.

MANCINI

I'll never get accustomed to those faces. You're so disgustingly made
up.

HE

He will not marry her. You can be as proud as you please, Mancini, but
he'll not marry her. What _is_ Consuelo? She is not educated. When she
is off her horse, any good housemaid from a decent house has nicer
manners, and speaks better. [_Nonchalantly_] Don't _you_ think she's
stupid?

MANCINI

No, she's not stupid. And you, HE, are a fool. What need has a woman of
intelligence? Why, HE, you astonish me. Consuelo is an unpolished jewel,
and only a real donkey does not notice her sparkle. Do you know what
happened? I tried to begin to polish her--

HE

Yes, you took a teacher. And what happened?

MANCINI

[_Nodding his head_]: I was frightened--it went too fast--I had to
dismiss him. Another month or two, and _she_ would have kicked _me_ out.
[_Laughs._] The clever old diamond merchants of Amsterdam keep their
precious stones unpolished, and fool the thieves. My father taught me
that.

HE

The sleep of a diamond. It is only sleeping, then. You are wise,
Mancini.

MANCINI

Do you know what blood flows in the veins of an Italian woman? The blood
of Hannibal and Corsini--of a Borgia--and of a dirty Lombardi
peasant--and of a Moor. Oh! an Italian woman is not of a lower race,
with only peasants and gypsies behind her. All possibilities, all forms
are included in her, as in our marvelous sculpture. Do you understand
that, you fool? Strike here--out springs a washerwoman, or a cheap
street girl whom you want to throw out, because she is sloppy and has a
screechy voice. Strike there--but carefully and gently, for there stands
a queen, a goddess, the Venus of the Capitol, who sings like a
Stradivarius and makes you cry, idiot! An Italian woman--

HE

You're quite a poet, Mancini! But what will the Baron make of her?

MANCINI

What? What? Make of _her_? A baroness, you fool! What are you laughing
at? I don't get you? But I am happy that this lovesick beast is neither
a duke nor a prince--or she would be a princess and I--what would become
of me? A year after the wedding they would not let me even into the
kitchen [_laughing_] not even into the kitchen! I, Count Mancini, and
she a--a simple--

HE

[_Jumping up_]: What did you say? You are not her father, Mancini?

MANCINI

Tss--the devil--I am so nervous to-day! Heavens, who do you think I am?
"Her father?" Of course [_tries to laugh_] how silly you are--haven't
you noticed the family resemblance? Just look, the nose, the
eyes--[_Suddenly sighs deeply._] Ah, HE! How unhappy I am! Think of it.
Here I am, a gentleman, nearly beaten in my struggle to keep up the
honour of my name, of an old house, while there in the parquet--there
sits that beast, an elephant with the eyes of a spider ... and he looks
at Consuelo ... and....

HE

Yes, yes, he has the motionless stare of a spider--you're right!

MANCINI

Just what I say--a spider! But I must, I shall compel him to marry her.
You'll see--[_Walking excitedly up and down, playing with his cane._]
You'll see! All my life I've been getting ready for this battle. [_He
continues to walk up and down. Silence. Outside, great stillness._]

HE

[_Listening_]: Why is it so quiet out there? What a strange silence.

MANCINI

[_Disgusted_]: I don't know. Out there it is quiet--but here [_touching
his forehead with his cane_] here is storm, whirlwind. [_Bends over the
clown._] HE, shall I tell you a strange thing--an unusual trick of
nature? [_Laughs, and looks very important._] For three centuries the
Counts Mancini have had no children! [_Laughs._]

HE

Then how were you born?

MANCINI

Sh! Silence! That is the secret of our sainted mothers! Ha-ha! We are
too ancient a stock--too exquisitely refined to trouble ourselves with
such things--matters in which a peasant is more competent than
ourselves. [_Enter an usher._] What do you want? The manager is on the
stage.

THE USHER

Yes, sir. Baron Regnard wished me to give you this letter.

MANCINI

The Baron? Is he there?

THE USHER

Baron Regnard has left. There is no answer.

MANCINI

[_Opening the envelope, his hand shaking_]: The devil--the devil! [_The
usher is going._]

HE

Just a minute. Why is there no music? This silence....

THE USHER

It is the act with Madame Zinida and her lions. [_He goes._ MANCINI _is
reading the_ BARON'S _note for the second time._]

HE

What's the matter, Mancini? You shine like Jackson's sun.

MANCINI

What's the matter, did you ask? What's the matter? What's the matter?
[_Balancing his cane, he takes steps like a ballet-dancer._]

HE

Mancini! [MANCINI _rolls his eyes, makes faces, dances_.] Speak, you
beast!

MANCINI

[_Holds out his hand_]: Give me ten francs! Quick--ten francs--here,
come on. [_Puts it automatically into his vest pocket._] Listen, HE! If
in a month I don't have a car of my own, you may give me one of your
slaps!

HE

What! He's going to marry? He's decided?

MANCINI

What do you mean by "decided?" [_Laughs._] When a man has the rope about
his neck, you don't ask him about his health! Baron--[_Stops suddenly,
startled._ BRIQUET _is staggering in like a drunken man, his hand over
his eyes_.]

HE

[_Goes to him, touches his shoulder gently_]: What is the matter, Papa
Briquet? Tell me!

BRIQUET

[_Groaning_]: Oh, oh, I can't ... I can't ... Ah----

HE

Something has happened? You are ill? Please speak.

BRIQUET

I can't look at it! [_Takes his hands from his eyes, opens them wide._]
Why does she do it? Ah, ah, why does she do it? She must be taken away;
she is insane. I couldn't look at it. [_Shivers._] They will tear her to
pieces. HE--her lions--they will tear her--

MANCINI

Go on, Briquet. She is always like that. You act like a child. You ought
to be ashamed.

BRIQUET

No---- To-day she is mad! And what is the matter with the crowd?
They are all like dead people--they're not even breathing. I couldn't
stand it. Listen--what's that? [_All listen. There is the same
silence._]

MANCINI

[_Disturbed_]: I'll go and see.

BRIQUET

[_Yelling_]: No! Don't! You can't look--damned profession! Don't go. You
will scorch her--every pair of eyes that looks at her--at her lions--no,
no. It is impossible--it is a sacrilege. I ran away.... HE, they will
tear her----

HE

[_Tries to be cheerful_]: Keep cool, Papa Briquet--I had no idea you
were such a coward. You ought to be ashamed. Have a drink. Mancini, give
him some wine.

BRIQUET

I don't want any. Heavens, if it were only over---- [_All
listen._] I have seen many things in my life, but this.... Oh, she is
crazy. [_All still listen. Suddenly the silence breaks, like a huge
stone wall crashing. There is a thunder of applause, mixed with shouts,
music, wild screams--half bestial, half human. The men give way,
relieved. Briquet sinks to a seat._]

MANCINI

[_Nervous_]: You see--you see--you old fool!

BRIQUET

[_Sobs and laughs_]: I am not going to allow it any more!

HE

Here she is!

     [_Zinida walks in, alone. She looks like a drunken bacchante, or
     like a mad woman. Her hair falls over her shoulders dishevelled,
     one shoulder is uncovered. She walks unseeing, though her eyes
     glow. She is like the living statue of a mad Victory. Behind her
     comes an actor, very pale, then two clowns, and a little later
     Consuelo and Bezano. All look at Zinida fearfully, as if they were
     afraid of a touch of her hand, or her great eyes._]

BRIQUET

[_Shouting_]: You are crazy--you're a mad woman!

ZINIDA

I? No. Did you see? Did you see? Well? [_She stands smiling, with the
expression of a mad Victory._]

TILLY

[_Plaintively_]: Cut it out, Zinida. Go to the devil!

ZINIDA

You saw, too! And!... what----

BRIQUET

Come home--come home. [_To the others_] You can do what you like here.
Zinida, come home.

POLLY

You can't go, Papa. There's still your number.

ZINIDA

[_Her eyes meet those of Bezano_]: Ah! Bezano. [_Laughs long and
happily_.] Bezano! Alfred! Did you see? My lions _do_ love me! [_Bezano,
without answering, leaves the stage. Zinida seems to wither and grow
dim, as a light being extinguished. Her smile fades, her eyes and face
grow pale. Briquet anxiously bends over her._]

BRIQUET

[_In a slow voice_]: A chair! [_Zinida sits. Her head drops on her
shoulder, her arms fall, she begins to shiver and tremble. Some one
calls, "Cognac"--an actor runs to get it._]

BRIQUET

[_Helpless_]: What is the matter, Zinida darling?

MANCINI

[_Running about_]: She must quiet down. Get out, get out--vagabonds!
I'll fix everything, Papa Briquet. The wrap--where's the wrap? She's
cold. [_A clown hands it to him; they cover her._]

TILLY

[_Timidly_]: Wouldn't you like some moosic?

MANCINI

[_Giving her some cognac_]: Drink, Duchess, drink! Drink it all--that's
it. [ZINIDA _drinks it like water, evidently not noticing the taste. She
shivers. The clowns disappear one by one._ CONSUELO, _with a sudden
flexible movement, falls on her knees before_ ZINIDA _and kisses her
hands, warming them between her own_.]

CONSUELO

Dear, dear, you are cold! Poor little hands, dear good one, beloved
one----

ZINIDA

[_Pushes her away, gently_]: Ho--home. It will soon be over. It's
nothing ... I am ver--very ... home.... You stay here, Briquet--you
must. I'm all right.

CONSUELO

You are cold? Here is my shawl.

ZINIDA

No--let me.... [CONSUELO _gets up, and moves aside._]

BRIQUET

And it's all because of your books, Zinida--your mythology. Now tell me,
why do you want those beasts to love you? Beasts! Do you understand, HE?
You too, you're from that world. She'll listen more to you. Explain it
to her. Whom can those beasts love? Those hairy monsters, with diabolic
eyes?

HE

[_Genially_]: I believe--only their equals. You are right, Papa
Briquet--there must be the same race.

BRIQUET

Of course, and this is all nonsense--literature. Explain it to her, HE.

HE

[_Takes on a meditative air_]: Yes, you are right, Briquet.

BRIQUET

You see, dear, silly woman--everybody agrees....

MANCINI

Oh! Briquet, you make me sick; you are an absolute despot, an Asiatic.

ZINIDA

[_With the shadow of a smile, gives her hand to be kissed_]: Calm
yourself, Louis. It is over--I am going home. [_She stands up, shaking,
still chilled._]

BRIQUET

But how? alone, dear?

MANCINI

What! fool! Did you imagine that Count Mancini would leave a woman when
she needed help? I shall take her home--let your brutal heart be at
rest--I shall take her home. Thomas, run for an automobile. Don't push
me Briquet, you are as awkward as a unicorn ... that's the way, that's
the way---- [_They are holding her, guiding her slowly toward the door_].
CONSUELO, _her chin resting in her hand, is following them with her
eyes. Unconsciously she assumes a somewhat affected pose._]

MANCINI

I'll come back for you, child---- [_Only_ HE _and_ CONSUELO _are left on
the stage. In the ring, music, shrieks, and laughter begin again._]

HE

Consuelo----

CONSUELO

Is that you, HE, dear?

HE

Where did you learn that pose? I have seen it only in marble. You look
like Psyche.

CONSUELO

I don't know, HE. [_She sighs and sits on the sofa, keeping in her pose
the same artificiality and beauty._] It's all so sad here, to-day. HE,
are you sorry for ZINIDA?

HE

What did she do?

CONSUELO

I didn't see. I had closed my eyes, and didn't open them. Alfred says
she is a wicked woman, but that isn't true. She has such nice eyes, and
what tiny cold hands--as if she were dead. What does she do it for?
Alfred says she should be audacious, beautiful, but quiet, otherwise
what she does is only disgusting. It isn't true, is it, HE?

HE

She loves Alfred.

CONSUELO

Alfred? My Bezano? [_Shrugging her shoulders, and surprised_] How does
she love him? The same as everyone loves?

HE

Yes--as everyone loves--or still more.

CONSUELO

Bezano? Bezano? No--it's nonsense. [_Pause; silence._] What a beautiful
costume you have, HE. You invented it yourself?

HE

Jim helped me.

CONSUELO

Jim is so nice! All clowns are nice.

HE

I am wicked.

CONSUELO

[_Laughs_]: You? You are the nicest of all. Oh, goodness! Three acts
more! This is the second on now. Alfred and I are in the third. Are you
coming to see me?

HE

I always do. How beautiful you are, Consuelo.

CONSUELO

Like Eve? [_Smiles._]

HE

Yes, Consuelo. And if the Baron asks you to be his wife, will you
accept?

CONSUELO

Certainly, HE. That's all Father and I are waiting for. Father told me
yesterday that the Baron will not hesitate very long. Of course I do not
love him. But I will be his honest, faithful wife. Father wants to teach
me to play the piano.

HE

Are those your own words--"his honest, faithful wife"?

CONSUELO

Certainly they are mine. Whose could they be? He loves me so much, the
poor thing. Dear HE, what does "love" mean? Everybody speaks of
love--love--Zinida, too! Poor Zinida! What a boring evening this has
been! HE, did you paint the laughter on your face yourself?

HE

My own self, dear little Consuelo----

CONSUELO

How do you do it, all of you? I tried once, but couldn't do a thing. Why
are there no women clowns? Why are you so silent, HE? You, too, are sad,
to-night.

HE

No, I am happy to-night. Give me your hand, Consuelo, I want to see what
it says.

CONSUELO

Do you know how? What a talented man you are! Read it, but don't _lie_,
like a gypsy. [_He goes down on one knee and takes her hand. Both bend
over it._] Am I lucky?

HE

Yes, lucky. But wait a minute--this line here--funny. Ah, Consuelo, what
does it say, here! [_Acting_] I tremble, my eyes do not dare to read the
strange, fatal signs. Consuelo--

CONSUELO

The stars are talking.

HE

Yes, the stars are talking. Their voices are distant and terrible; their
rays are pale, and their shadows slip by, like the ghosts of dead
virgins--their spell is upon thee, Consuelo, beautiful Consuelo. Thou
standest at the door of Eternity.

CONSUELO

I don't understand. Does it mean that I will live long?

HE

This line--how far it goes. Strange! Thou wilt live eternally, Consuelo.

CONSUELO

You see, HE, you did tell me a lie, just like a gypsy!

HE

But it is written--here, silly--and here. Now think of what the stars
are saying. Here you have eternal life, love, and glory; and here,
listen to what Jupiter says. He says: "Goddess, thou must not belong to
any one born on earth," and if you marry the Baron--you'll perish,
you'll die, Consuelo. [_Consuelo laughs._]

CONSUELO

Will he eat me?

HE

No. But you will die before he has time to eat you.

CONSUELO

And what will become of Father? Is there nothing about him here?
[_Laughing, she softly sings the melody of the waltz, which is playing
in the distance._]

HE

Don't laugh, Consuelo, at the voice of the stars. They are far away,
their rays are light and pale, and we can barely see their sleeping
shadows, but their sorcery is stern and dark. You stand at the gates of
eternity. Your die is cast; you are _doomed_--and your Alfred, whom you
love in your heart, even though your mind is not aware of it, your
Alfred cannot save you. He, too, is a stranger on this earth. He is
submerged in a deep sleep. He, too, is a little god who has lost
himself, and Consuelo, never, never will he find his way to Heaven
again. Forget Bezano----

CONSUELO

I don't understand a word. Do the gods really exist? My teacher told me
about them. But I thought it was all tales! [_Laughs._] And my Bezano
is a god?

HE

Forget Bezano! Consuelo, do you know who can save you? The only one who
can save you? I.

CONSUELO

[_Laughing_]: You, HE?

HE

Yes, but don't laugh! Look. Here is the letter H. It is I, HE.

CONSUELO

HE Who Gets Slapped? Is that written here, too?

HE

That, too. The stars know everything. But look here, what more is
written about him. Consuelo, welcome him. HE is an old god in disguise,
who came down to earth only to love you, foolish little Consuelo.

CONSUELO

[_Laughing and singing_]: Some god!

HE

Don't mock! The gods don't like such, empty laughter from beautiful
lips. The gods grow lonely and die, when they are not recognized. Oh,
Consuelo! Oh, great joy and love! Do recognize this god, and accept him.
Think a moment, one day a god suddenly went crazy!

CONSUELO

Gods go crazy, too?

HE

Yes, when they are half man, then they often go mad. Suddenly he saw his
own sublimity, and shuddered with horror, with infinite solitude, with
super-human anguish. It is terrible, when anguish touches the divine
soul!

CONSUELO

I don't like it. What language are you speaking? I don't understand----

HE

I speak the language of thy awakening. Consuelo, recognize and accept
thy god, who was thrown down from the summit like a stone. Accept the
god who fell to the earth in order to live, to play, and to be
infinitely drunk with joy. Evoë Goddess!

CONSUELO

[_Tortured_]: HE---- I cannot understand. Let my hand alone.

HE

[_Stands up_]: Sleep. Then wake again, Consuelo! And when thou
wakest--remember that hour when, covered with snow-white sea-foam, thou
didst emerge from the sky-blue waters. Remember heaven, and the slow
eastern wind, and the whisper of the foam at thy marble feet.

CONSUELO

[_Her eyes are closed_]: I believe--wait--I remember. Remind me
further----

     [HE _is bowed over_ CONSUELO, _with lifted arms; he speaks slowly,
     but in a commanding voice, as if conjuring_.]

HE

You see the waves playing. Remember the song of the sirens, their
sorrowless song of joy. Their white bodies, shining blue through the
blue waters. Or can you hear the sun, singing? Like the strings of a
divine harp, spread the golden rays---- Do you not see the hand
of God, which gives harmony, light, and love to the world? Do not the
mountains, in the blue cloud of incense, sing their hymn of glory?
Remember, O Consuelo, remember the prayer of the mountains, the prayer
of the sea. [_Silence._]

HE

[_Commandingly_]: Remember--Consuelo!

CONSUELO

[_Opening her eyes_]: No! HE, I was feeling so happy, and suddenly I
forgot it all. Yet something of it all is still in my heart. Help me
again, HE, remind me. It hurts, I hear so many voices. They all sing
"Consuelo--Consuelo." What comes after? [_Silence; pause._] What comes
after? It hurts. Remind me, HE. [_Silence--in the ring, the music
suddenly bursts forth in a tempestuous circus gallop. Silence._] HE,
[_opens her eyes and smiles_] that's Alfred galloping. Do you recognize
his music?

HE

[_With rage_]: Leave the boy alone! [_Suddenly falls on his knees
before_ CONSUELO.] _I love you, Consuelo_, revelation of my heart, light
of my nights, I love you, Consuelo. [_Looks at her in ecstasy and
tears--and gets a slap; starting back._] What's this?

CONSUELO

A slap! You forget who you are. [_Stands up, with anger in her eyes._]
You are HE Who Gets Slapped! Did you forget it? Some god! With such a
face--slapped face! Was it with slaps they threw you down from heaven,
god?

HE

Wait! Don't stand up! I--did not finish the play!

CONSUELO

[_Sits_]: Then you were playing?

HE

Wait! One minute.

CONSUELO

You lied to me. Why did you play so that I believed you?

HE

I am HE Who Gets Slapped!

CONSUELO

You are not angry because I struck you? I did not want to really, but
you were so--disgusting. And now you are so funny again. You have great
talent, HE--or are you drunk?

HE

Strike me again.

CONSUELO

No.

HE

I need it for my play. Strike!

CONSUELO

[_Laughs, and touches his cheek with her fingertips_]: Here, then!

HE

Didn't you understand that you are a queen, and I a fool who is in love
with his queen? Don't you know, Consuelo, that every queen has a fool,
and he is always in love with her, and they always beat him for it. HE
Who Gets Slapped.

CONSUELO

No. I didn't know.

HE

Yes, every queen. Beauty has her fool. Wisdom, too. Oh, how many fools
she has! Her court is overcrowded with enamoured fools, and the sound of
slaps does not cease, even through the night. But I never received such
a sweet slap as the one given by my little queen. [_Someone appears at
the door._ HE _notices it, and continues to play, making many faces_.]
Clown HE can have no rival! Who is there who could stand such a deluge
of slaps, such a hail-storm of slaps, and not get soaked? [_Feigns to
cry aloud._] "Have pity on me. I am but a poor fool!"

     [_Enter two men: an actor, dressed as a bareback rider, and a
     gentleman from the audience. He is spare, dressed in black, very
     respectable. He carries his hat in his hand._]

CONSUELO

[_Laughing, embarrassed_]: HE, there is someone here. Stop!

HE

[_Gets up_]: Who is it? Who dares to intrude in the castle of my queen?

[_HE stops, suddenly. Consuelo, laughing, jumps up and runs away, after
a quick glance at the gentleman._]

CONSUELO

You cheered me up, HE. Good-bye. [_At the door_] You shall get a note
to-morrow.

THE BAREBACK RIDER

[_Laughing_]: A jolly fellow, sir. You wanted to see him? There he is.
HE, the gentleman wants to see you.

HE

[_In a depressed voice_]: What can I do for you?

     [_The actor bows, and goes away, smiling. Both men take a step
     toward each other._]

GENTLEMAN

Is this you?

HE

Yes! It is I. And you? [_Silence._]

GENTLEMAN

Must I believe my eyes? Is this _you_, Mr.----

HE

[_In a rage_]: My name here is HE. I have no other name, do you hear? HE
Who Gets Slapped. And if you want to stay here, don't forget it.

GENTLEMAN

You are so familiar. As far as I can remember----

HE

We are all familiar, here. [_Contemptuously_] Besides, that's all you
deserve, anywhere.

GENTLEMAN

[_Humbly_]: You have not forgiven me, HE? [_Silence._]

HE

Are you here with my wife? Is she, too, in the circus?

GENTLEMAN

[_Quickly_]: Oh, no! I am alone. She stayed there!

HE

You've left her already?

GENTLEMAN

[_Humbly_]: No--we have--a son. After your sudden and mysterious
disappearance--when you left that strange and insulting letter----

HE

[_Laughs_]: Insulting? You are still able to feel insults? What are you
doing here? Were you looking for me, or is it an accident?

GENTLEMAN

I have been looking for you, for half a year--through many countries.
And suddenly, to-day--by accident, indeed--I had no acquaintances here,
and I went to the circus. We must talk things over ... HE, I implore
you. [_Silence._]

HE

Here is a shadow I cannot lose! To talk things over! Do you really think
we still have something to talk over? All right. Leave your address with
the porter, and I will let you know when you can see me. Now get out.
[_Proudly._] I am busy.

     [_The gentleman bows and leaves. HE does not return his bow, but
     stands with outstretched hand, in the pose of a great man, who
     shows a boring visitor the door._]

CURTAIN



ACT III


_The same room. Morning, before the rehearsal. HE is striding
thoughtfully up and down the room. He wears a broad, parti-coloured
coat, and a prismatic tie. His derby is on the back of his head, and his
face is clean-shaven like that of an actor. His eyebrows are drawn, lips
pressed together energetically, his whole appearance severe and sombre.
After the entrance of the gentleman he changes. His face becomes
clown-like, mobile--a living mask._

_The gentleman comes in. He is dressed in black, and has an extremely
well-bred appearance. His thin face is yellowish, like an invalid's.
When he is upset, his colourless, dull eyes often twitch. HE does not
notice him._

GENTLEMAN

Good morning, sir.

HE

[_Turning around and looking at him absent-mindedly_]: Ah! It's you.

GENTLEMAN

I am not late? You look as if you did not expect me. I hope I am not
disturbing you? You fixed this time yourself however, and I took the
liberty----

HE

No manners, please. What do you want? Tell me quickly, I have no time.

GENTLEMAN

[_Looking around with distaste_]: I expected you would invite me to some
other place ... to your home.

HE

I have no other home. This is my home.

GENTLEMAN

But people may disturb us here.

HE

So much the worse for you. Talk faster! [_Silence._]

GENTLEMAN

Will you allow me to sit down?

HE

Sit down. Look out! That chair is broken.

     [_The gentleman, afraid, pushes away the chair and looks helplessly
     around. Everything here seems to him dangerous and strange. He
     chooses an apparently solid little gilded divan, and sits down;
     puts his silk hat aside, slowly takes off his gloves, which stick
     to his fingers. HE observes him indifferently._]

GENTLEMAN

In this suit, and with this face, you make a still stranger impression.
Yesterday it seemed to me that it was all a dream; to-day ... _you_ ...

HE

You have forgotten my name again? My name is HE.

GENTLEMAN

You are determined to continue talking to me like this?

HE

Decidedly! But you are squandering your time like a millionaire. Hurry
up!

GENTLEMAN

I really don't know.... Everything here strikes me so.... These posters,
horses, animals, which I passed when I was looking for you.... And
finally, _you_, a clown in a circus! [_With a slight, deprecating
smile._] Could I expect it? It is true, when everybody there decided
that you were dead, I was the only man who did not agree with them. I
felt that you were still alive. But to find you among such
surroundings--I can't understand it.

HE

You said you have a son, now. Doesn't he look like me?

GENTLEMAN

I don't understand?

HE

Don't you know that widows or divorced women often have children by the
new husband, which resemble the old one? This misfortune did not befall
you? [_Laughs._] And your book, too, is a big success, I hear.

GENTLEMAN

You want to insult me again?

HE

[_Laughing_]: What a restless, touchy faker you are! Please sit still;
be quiet. It is the custom here to speak this way. Why were you trying
to find me?

GENTLEMAN

My conscience....

HE

You have no conscience. Or were you afraid that you hadn't robbed me of
_everything_ I possessed, and you came for the rest? But what more could
you take from me now? My fool's cap with its bells? You wouldn't take
it. It's too big for your bald head! Crawl back, you book-worm!

GENTLEMAN

You cannot forgive the fact that your wife....

HE

To the devil with my wife! [_The gentleman is startled and raises his
eyebrows. HE laughs._]

GENTLEMAN

I don't know.... But such language! I confess I find difficulty in
expressing my thoughts in such an atmosphere, but if you are so ...
indifferent to your wife, who, I shall allow myself to emphasize the
fact, loved you and thought you were a saint---- [_HE laughs._]
Then _what_ brought you to such a ... step? Or is it that you cannot
forgive me my success? A success, it is true, not entirely deserved. And
now you want to take vengeance, with your humbleness, on those who
misunderstood you. But you always were so indifferent to glory. Or your
indifference was only hypocrisy. And when I, a more lucky rival ...

HE

[_With a burst of laughter_]: Rival! You--a rival!

GENTLEMAN

[Growing Pale]: But my book!

HE

You are talking to me about _your_ book? To me? [_The gentleman is very
pale. HE looks at him with curiosity and mockery._]

GENTLEMAN

[_Raising his eyes_]: I am a very unhappy man.

HE

Why?

GENTLEMAN

I am a very unhappy man. You must forgive me. I am deeply, irreparably,
and infinitely unhappy.

HE

But why? Explain it to me. [_Starts walking up and down._] You say
yourself that your book is a tremendous success, you are famous, you
have glory; there is not a yellow newspaper in which _you_ and _your_
thoughts are not mentioned. Who knows _me_? Who cares about my heavy
abstractions, from which it was difficult for them to derive a single
thought? You--you are the great vulgarizer! You have made my thoughts
comprehensible even to horses! With the art of a great vulgarizer, a
tailor of ideas, you dressed my Apollo in a barber's jacket, you handed
my Venus a yellow ticket, and to my bright hero you gave the ears of an
ass. And then your career is made, as Jackson says. And wherever I go,
the whole street looks at me with thousands of faces, in which--what
mockery--I recognize the traits of my own children. Oh! How ugly your
son must be, if he resembles me! Why then are you unhappy, you poor
devil? [_The gentleman bows his head, plucking at his gloves._] The
police haven't caught you, as yet. What am I talking about? Is it
possible to catch you? You always keep within the limits of the law. You
have been torturing yourself up to now because you are not married to my
wife. A notary public is always present at your thefts. What is the use
of this self-torture, my friend? Get married. I died. You are not
satisfied with having taken only my wife? Let my glory remain in your
possession. It is yours. Accept my ideas. Assume all the rights, my most
lawful heir! I died! And when I was dying [_making a stupidly pious
face_] I forgave thee! [_Bursts out laughing. The gentleman raises his
head, and bending forward, looks straight into HE's eyes._]

GENTLEMAN

And my pride?

HE

Have you any pride? [_The gentleman straightens up, and nods his head
silently._] Yes! But please stand off a little. I don't like to look at
you. Think of it. There was a time when I loved you a little, even
thought you a little gifted! You--my empty shadow.

GENTLEMAN

[_Nodding his head_]: I am your shadow. [_HE keeps on walking, and looks
over his shoulder at the gentleman, with a smile._]

HE

Oh, you are marvellous! What a comedy! What a touching comedy! Listen.
Tell me frankly if you can; do you hate me very much?

GENTLEMAN

Yes! With all the hate there is in the world! Sit down here.

HE

You order me?

GENTLEMAN

Sit down here. Thank you. [_Bows._] I am respected and I am famous, yes?
I have a wife and a son, yes. [_Laughs slowly._] My wife still loves
you: our favourite discussion is about your genius. She supposes you are
a genius. We, I and she, love you even when we are in bed. Tss! It is I
who must make faces. My son--yes, he'll resemble you. And when, in order
to have a little rest, I go to my desk, to my ink-pot, my books--there,
too, I find you. Always you! Everywhere you! And I am never alone--never
myself and alone. And when at night--you, sir, should understand
this--when at night I go to my lonely thoughts, to my sleepless
contemplations, even then I find your image in my head, in my
unfortunate brain, your damned and hateful image! [_Silence. The
gentleman's eyes twitch._]

HE

[_Speaking slowly_]: What a comedy. How marvellously everything is
turned about in this world: the robbed proves to be a robber, and the
robber is complaining of theft, and cursing! [_Laughs._] Listen, I was
mistaken. You are not my shadow. You are the crowd. If you live by my
creations, you hate me; if you breathe my breath, you are choking with
anger. And choking with anger, hating me, you still walk slowly on the
trail of my ideas. But you are advancing backward, advancing backward,
comrade! Oh, what a marvellous comedy! [_Walking and smiling._] Tell me,
would you be relieved if I really had died?

GENTLEMAN

Yes! I think so. Death augments distance and dulls the memory. Death
reconciles. But you do not look like a man who----

HE

Yes, yes! Death, _certainly_!

GENTLEMAN

Sit down here.

HE

Your obedient servant. Yes?

GENTLEMAN

Certainly, I do not dare to ask you--[_makes a grimace_] to ask you to
die, but tell me: you'll never come back there? No, don't laugh. If you
want me to, I'll kiss your hand. Don't grimace! I would have done so if
you had died.

HE

[_Slowly_]: Get out, vermin!

     [_Enter Tilly and Polly as in the first act, playing. For a long
     time they do not see the two men._]

HE

Jack!

TILLY

Ah! Good morning, HE. We are rehearsing. You know it is very hard. Jack
has just about as much music in his head as my pig.

HE

[_Introducing, nonchalantly_]: My friend.... For the benefit
performance? [_The clowns bow to the gentleman, making idiotic faces._]

POLLY

Yes. What are you preparing? You are cunning, HE! Consuelo told me what
you are preparing for the benefit performance. She leaves us soon, you
know?

HE

Is that so?

TILLY

Zinida told us. Do you think she would get a benefit performance
otherwise? She is a nice girl.

POLLY

[_Taking his small flute-pipe_]: Here! Don't walk as if you were an
elephant. Don't forget you are an ant! Come on! [_They go off,
playing._]

GENTLEMAN

[_Smiling_]: These are your new comrades? How strange they are!

HE

Everything here is strange.

GENTLEMAN

This suit of yours. Black used to be very becoming to you. This one
hurts the eyes.

HE

[_Looking himself over_]: Why? It looks very nice. The rehearsal has
begun. You must go away. You are disturbing us.

GENTLEMAN

You did not answer my question.

     [_Slow strains of the Tango from a small orchestra in the ring._]

HE

[_Listening absent-mindedly to the music_]: What question?

GENTLEMAN

[_Who does not hear the music_]: I pray you to tell me: will you ever
come back?

HE

[_Listening to the music_]: Never, never, never!

GENTLEMAN

[_Getting up_]: Thank you. I am going.

HE

Never, never, never! Yes, run along. And don't come back. There you were
still bearable and useful for something, but here you are superfluous.

GENTLEMAN

But if something should happen to you ... you are a healthy man, but in
this environment, these people ... how will I know? They don't know your
name here?

HE

My name here is unknown, but _you will know_. Anything else?

GENTLEMAN

I can be at peace? On your word of honour? Of course I mean,
comparatively, at peace?

HE

Yes, you may be comparatively at peace. Never! [_They walk to the door,
the gentleman stops._]

GENTLEMAN

May I come to the circus? You will allow me?

HE

Certainly. You are the audience! [_Laughs._] But I shan't give you my
card for a pass. But why do you want to come? Or do you like the circus
so much, and since when?

GENTLEMAN

I want to look at you some more, and to understand, perhaps. Such a
transformation! Knowing you as I do, I cannot admit that you are here
without any _idea_. But what idea? [_Looks short-sightedly at HE. HE
grimaces and thumbs his nose._]

GENTLEMAN

What is that?

HE

_My idea!_ Good-bye, Prince! My regards to your respected wife, your
Highness' wonderful son! [_Enter_ MANCINI.]

MANCINI

You positively live in the circus, HE. Whenever I come, you are here.
You are a fanatic in your work, sir.

HE

[_Introducing_]: Prince Poniatovsky, Count Mancini.

MANCINI

[_Drawing himself up_]: Very, very glad. And you too, Prince, you know
my queer fellow? What a nice face he has, hasn't he? [_He touches HE'S
shoulder patronizingly, with the tip of his cane._]

GENTLEMAN

[_Awkwardly_]: Yes, I have the pleasure ... certainly. Good-bye, Count.

MANCINI

Good-day, Prince.

HE

[_Accompanying him_]: Look out, your Highness, for the dark passages:
the steps are so rotten. Unfortunately I cannot usher you out to the
street.

GENTLEMAN

[_In a low voice_]: You will not give me your hand when we say good-bye?
We are parting for ever.

HE

Unnecessary, Prince. I shall still hope to meet you in the Kingdom of
Heaven. I trust you will be there, too?

GENTLEMAN

[_With disgust_]: How you did succeed! You have so much of the clown in
you!

HE

I am HE Who is Getting Slapped. Good-bye, Prince. [_They take another
step._]

GENTLEMAN

[_Looking HE in the eyes; in a very low voice_]: Tell me, you are not
mad?

HE

[_Just at low, his eyes wide open_]: I am afraid, I am afraid you are
right, Prince. [_Still low_] Ass! Never in your life did you use such a
precise expression. I am mad!

     [_Playing the clown again, he shows him to the stair, with a big,
     affected gesture, a sweep of the hand and arm from his head to the
     floor, the fingers moving, to represent the steps._]

HE

[_Laughing_]: He is down! _Au revoir_, Prince. [_The gentleman goes out.
HE comes skipping back, and takes a pose._] Mancini! Let us dance the
Tango! Mancini, I adore you!

MANCINI

[_Sitting back comfortably and playing with his cane_]: Don't forget
yourself, HE. But you're hiding something, my boy. I always said you
used to belong to society. It is so easy to talk to you. And who is this
Prince? A genuine one?

HE

Genuine. A first-rater. Like you!

MANCINI

A sympathetic face. Although at first I thought he was an undertaker who
came for an order. Ah, HE! When shall I finally depart from these dirty
walls, from Papa Briquet, stupid posters, and brutal jockeys!

HE

Very soon, Mancini.

MANCINI

Yes, soon. I am simply exhausted in these surroundings, HE! I begin to
feel myself a horse. You are from society, still you don't yet know what
high society means. To be at last decently dressed, to attend
receptions, to display the splendour of wit; from time to time to have a
game of baccarat [_laughing_] without tricks or cheating----

HE

And when evening comes, go to a suburb, where you are considered an
honest father, who loves his children and----

MANCINI

And get hold of something, eh? [_Laughs._] I shall wear a silk mask and
two butlers shall follow me, thus protecting me from the dirty crowd.
Ah, HE! The blood of my ancestors boils in me. Look at this stiletto.
What do you think? Do you think that it was ever stained with blood?

HE

You frighten me, Count!

MANCINI

[_Laughing, and putting the stiletto back into its sheath_]: Fool!

HE

And what about the girl?

MANCINI

Tss! I give those bourgeois absolute satisfaction, and they glorify my
name. [_Laughs._] The splendour of my name is beginning to shine with a
force unknown. By the way, do you know what automobile firms are the
best? Money is no object. [_Laughs._] Ah! Papa Briquet!

     [_Enter Briquet in his overcoat and silk hat. They shake hands._]

BRIQUET

So, Mancini, you have obtained a benefit performance for your daughter,
Consuelo! I only want to tell you, that if it were not for Zinida....

MANCINI

Listen, Briquet. Decidedly you are a donkey. What are you complaining
of? The Baron has bought all the parquet seats for Consuelo's benefit
performance. Isn't that enough for you, you miser?

BRIQUET

I love your daughter, Mancini, and I am sorry to let her go. What more
does she need here? She has an honest job, wonderful comrades, and the
atmosphere--?

MANCINI

Not _she_, but _I_ need something. You understand? [_Laughs._] I asked
you to increase her salary, Harpagon! and now, Mr. Manager, wouldn't you
like to change me a thousand franc note?

BRIQUET

[_With a sigh_]: Give it to me.

MANCINI

[_Nonchalantly_]: To-morrow. I left it at home. [_All three laugh._]
Laugh, laugh! To-day we are going with the Baron to his villa in the
country; people say a very nice villa.

HE

What for?

MANCINI

You know, HE, the crazes of these billionaires. He wants to show
Consuelo some winter roses, and me his wine cellars. He will come for us
here. What is the matter, my little Consuelo?

     [_Enter_ CONSUELO, _almost crying_.]

CONSUELO

I can't father! Tell him! What right has he to yell at me? He almost hit
me with his whip!

MANCINI

[_Straightening up_]: Briquet! I beg of you, as the Manager, what is
this--a stable? To hit my daughter with a whip! I'll show this cub ... a
mere jockey.... No, the devil knows what it is, devil knows, I swear....

CONSUELO

Father....

BRIQUET

I will tell him.

CONSUELO

Please don't. Alfred didn't hit me. It's a silly thing, what I told you.
What an idea! He is so sorry himself....

BRIQUET

I shall tell him anyhow that----

CONSUELO

Don't you dare. You mustn't tell him anything. He didn't do a thing.

MANCINI

[_Still excited_]: He must beg her pardon, the brat.

CONSUELO

He's already asked me to forgive him. How silly you all are! I simply
cannot work to-day and I got nervous. What nonsense! The silly boy asked
me to forgive him, but I didn't want to. HE, dear, good morning! I
didn't notice you. How becoming your tie is! Where are you going,
Briquet? To Alfred?

BRIQUET

No, I am going home, dear child. Zinida asked me to give you her love.
She will not be here to-day, either. [_He goes out._]

CONSUELO

Zinida is so nice, so good. Father, why is it that everybody seems so
nice to me? Probably because I am going away soon. HE, did you hear the
march that Tilly and Polly will play? [_Laughs._] Such a cheerful one.

HE

Yes. I heard it. Your benefit performance will be remarkable.

CONSUELO

I think so, too. Father I am hungry. Have them bring me a sandwich.

HE

I'll run for it, my Queen.

CONSUELO

Please do, HE. [_Loudly_] But not cheese. I don't like it.

     [MANCINI _and_ CONSUELO _are alone_. MANCINI, _lying back
     comfortably in an armchair, scrutinizes his daughter with a
     searching eye_.]

MANCINI

I find something particular in you to-day, my child. I don't know
whether it is something better or worse. You cried?

CONSUELO

Yes, a little. Oh, I am so hungry.

MANCINI

But you had your breakfast?

CONSUELO

No, I didn't. That's why I am so hungry. You again forgot to leave me
some money this morning, and without money....

MANCINI

Oh, the devil ... what a memory I have. [_Laughs._] But we shall have a
very nice meal to-day. Don't eat very many sandwiches.... Yes,
positively I like you. You must cry more often, my child; it washes off
your superfluous simplicity. You become more of a woman.

CONSUELO

Am I so simple, Father?

MANCINI

Very.... Too much. I like it in others, but not in you. Besides, the
Baron....

CONSUELO

Nonsense. I am not simple. But you know, Bezano scolded me so much, that
even you would have cried. The devil knows....

MANCINI

Tsss.... Never say "the devil knows." It isn't decent.

CONSUELO

I say it only when I am with you.

MANCINI

You must not say it when you are with me, either. I know it without you.
[_Laughs._]

CONSUELO

Ha! Listen, Father! It's a new number of Alfred's. He makes such a jump!
Jim says he's bound to break his neck. Poor fish....

MANCINI

[_Indifferently_]: Or his leg, or his back; they all have to break
something. [_Laughs._] They are breakable toys.

CONSUELO

[_Listening to the music_]: I'll be lonesome without them, Father! The
Baron promised to make a ring for me to gallop over as much as I want.
He's not lying?

MANCINI

A ring? [_Laughs._] No, it's not a lie. By the way, child, when speaking
of Barons, you must say, "he does not tell the truth," and not, "he
lies."

CONSUELO

It's just the same. It's nice to be wealthy, Father; you can do what you
want, then.

MANCINI

[_With enthusiasm_]: Everything you want. Everything, my child. Ah! Our
fate is being decided to-day. Pray our clement God, Consuelo. The Baron
is hanging on a thread.

CONSUELO

[_Indifferently_]: Yes?

MANCINI

[_Making the gesture with his fingers_]: On a very thin, silk thread. I
am almost sure that he will make his proposal to-day. [_Laughs._] Winter
roses, and the web of a spider amongst the roses, in order that my dear
little fly.... He is such a spider.

CONSUELO

[_Indifferently_]: Yes, a terrible spider. Father, oughtn't I to let him
kiss my hand yet?

MANCINI

By no means. You don't know yet, darling, what these men are.

CONSUELO

Alfred never kisses.

MANCINI

Alfred! Your Alfred is a cub, and he mustn't dare. But with men of that
sort, you must be extremely careful, my child. To-day he would kiss your
little finger, to-morrow your hand, and after to-morrow you would be on
his lap.

CONSUELO

Foui! Father, what are you talking about? You should be ashamed!

MANCINI

But I know....

CONSUELO

Don't you dare! I don't want to hear such dirty things. I shall give the
Baron such a slap! A better one than HE--let him only try.

MANCINI

[_With a deprecating gesture_]: All men are like that, child.

CONSUELO

It isn't true. Alfred is not. Ah! But where is HE? He said he'd run, and
he hasn't come back.

MANCINI

The buffet here is closed, and he has to get the sandwiches somewhere
else. Consuelo, as your father, I want to warn you about HE. Don't trust
him. He knows something. [_Twirls his finger close to his forehead._]
His game is not fair.

CONSUELO

You say it about everybody. I know HE; he is such a nice man, and he
loves me so much.

MANCINI

Believe me, there is something in it.

CONSUELO

Father, you make me sick with your advice. Ah! HE, thank you.

[_HE, breathing somewhat heavily, enters and gives her the sandwiches._]

HE

Eat, Consuelo.

CONSUELO

A hot one.... But you were running, HE? I am so grateful. [_Eats._] HE,
do you love me?

HE

I do, my Queen. I am your court fool.

CONSUELO

[_Eating_]: And when I leave, will you find another queen?

HE

[_Making a ceremonious bow_]: I shall follow after you, my incomparable
one. I shall carry the train of your dress and wipe away my tears with
it. [_Pretends to cry._]

MANCINI

Idiot! [_Laughs._] How sorry I am, HE, that those wonderful times have
passed, when, in the court of the Counts Mancini, there were scores of
motley fools who were given gold and kicks.... Now, Mancini is compelled
to go to this dirty circus in order to see a good fool; and still, whose
fool is he? Mine? No. He belongs to everybody who pays a franc. We shall
very soon be unable to breathe because of Democracy. Democracy, too,
needs fools! Think of it, HE; what an unexampled impertinence.

HE

We are the servants of those who pay. But how can we help it, Count?

MANCINI

But is that not sad? Imagine: we are in my castle. I, near the fireplace
with my glass of wine, you, at my feet chatting your nonsense, jingling
your little bells--diverting me. Sometimes you pinch me too with your
jokes: it is allowed by the traditions and necessary for the circulation
of the blood. After a while--I am sick of you, I want another one....
Then I give you a kick and.... Ah, HE, how wonderful it would be!

HE

It would be marvellous, Mancini!

MANCINI

Yes. Certainly! You would be getting gold coins, those wonderfully
little yellow things.... Well, when I become rich, I shall take you.
That's settled.

CONSUELO

Take him, Father....

HE

And when the count, tired of my chattering, will give me a kick with his
Highness's foot, then I shall lie down at the little feet of my queen,
and shall....

CONSUELO

[_Laughing_]: Wait for another kick? I'm finished. Father, give me your
handkerchief, I want to wipe my hands. You have another one in your
pocket. Oh, my goodness, I must work some more!

MANCINI

[_Uneasy_]: But don't forget, my child!

CONSUELO

No, to-day I won't forget! Go on!

MANCINI

[_Looking at his watch_]: Yes, it is time.... He asked me to come over
when you were ready. You must change your dress before I come back.
[_Laughing._] _Signori, miei complimenti._

     [_He goes out, playing with his cane._ CONSUELO _sits on the corner
     of the divan, and covers herself with her shawl_.]

CONSUELO

Hello, HE! Come and lie down at my feet, and tell me something
cheerful.... You know, when you paint the laughter on your face, you are
very good looking, but now, too, you are very, very nice. Come on, HE,
why don't you lie down?

HE

Consuelo! Are you going to marry the Baron?

CONSUELO

[_Indifferently_]: It seems so. The Baron is hanging by a thread! HE,
there is one little sandwich left. Eat it.

HE

Thank you, my queen. [_Eats._] And do you remember my prediction?

CONSUELO

What prediction? How quickly you swallow! Does it taste good?

HE

Very good. That if you marry the Baron, you....

CONSUELO

Oh, that's what you're talking about.... But you were making fun.

HE

Nobody can tell, my Queen. Sometimes one makes fun, and suddenly it
turns out to be true; the stars never talk in vain. If sometimes it is
difficult for a human being to open his mouth and to say a word, how
difficult it must be for a star. Think of it.

CONSUELO

[_Laughing_]: I should say. Such a mouth! [_Makes a tiny mouth._]

HE

No, my dear little girl, were I in your place, I would think it over.
And suppose suddenly you should die? Don't marry the Baron, Consuelo!

CONSUELO

[_Thinking_]: And what is--death?

HE

I do not know, my Queen. Nobody knows. Like love! Nobody knows. But your
little hands will become cold, and your dear little eyes will be closed.
You will be away from here. And the music will play without you, and
without you the crazy Bezano will be galloping, and Tilly and Polly will
be playing on their pipes without you: tilly-polly, tilly-polly ...
tilly-tilly, polly-polly....

CONSUELO

Please don't, HE darling---- I am so sad, anyway ... tilly-tilly,
polly-polly ... [_Silence. HE looks at_ CONSUELO.]

HE

You were crying, my little Consuelo?

CONSUELO

Yes, a little. Alfred made me nervous. But tell me, is it my fault that
I can't do anything to-day? I tried to, but I couldn't.

HE

Why?

CONSUELO

Ah, I don't know. There is something here. [_Presses her hand against
her heart._] I don't know. HE, I must be sick. What is sickness? Does it
hurt very much?

HE

It is not sickness. It is the charm of the far off stars, Consuelo. It
is the voice of your fate, my little Queen.

CONSUELO

Don't talk nonsense, please. What should the stars care about me? I am
so small. Nonsense, HE! Tell me rather another tale which you know:
about the blue sea and those gods, you know ... who are so beautiful.
Did they all die?

HE

They are all alive, but they hide themselves, my goddess.

CONSUELO

In the woods or mountains? Can one come across them? Ah, imagine HE ...
I come across a god, and he suddenly takes a look at me! I'd run away.
[_Laughs._] This morning when I went without breakfast, I became so sad,
so disgusted, and I thought: if a god should come, and give me something
to eat! And as I thought it, I suddenly heard, honestly it's true, I
heard: "Consuelo, somebody's calling you." [_Angrily._] Don't you dare
laugh!

HE

Am I laughing?

CONSUELO

Honestly, it's true. Ah, HE, but he didn't come. He only called me and
disappeared, and how can you find him? It hurt me so much, and hurts
even now. Why did you remind me of my childhood? I'd forgotten it
entirely. There was the sea ... and something ... many, many [_closes
her eyes, smiling._]

HE

Remember, Consuelo.

CONSUELO

No. [_Opening her eyes_] I forget everything about it. [_Looks around
the room._] HE, do you see what a poster they made for my benefit
performance? It's Father's idea. The Baron liked it. [_HE laughs.
Silence._]

HE

[_Slowly_] Consuelo, my Queen! Don't go to the Baron to-day.

CONSUELO

Why? [_After a silence._] How fresh you are, HE.

HE

[_Lowering his head, slowly_]: I don't want it.

CONSUELO

[_Getting up_]: What? You don't want it?

HE

[_Bowing his head still lower_]: I do not want you to marry the Baron
[_Imploring._] I ... I shall not allow it ... I beg you!

CONSUELO

Whom, then, would you ask me to marry? You, perhaps, you fool? [_With a
rancorous laugh_] Are you crazy, my darling? "I shall not allow." HE!
HE will not allow me! But it is unbearable! What business is it of
yours? [_Walking up and down the room, looks over her shoulder at HE,
with anger._] Some fool clown, whom they can kick out of here any
minute. You make me sick with your stupid tales. Or you like slaps so
much. Fool, you couldn't invent anything better than a slap!

HE

[_Without lifting his head_]: Forgive me, my Queen.

CONSUELO

He is glad when they laugh at him. Some god! No, I shan't forgive. I
know you. [_Makes same gesture as_ MANCINI.] You have something there!
Laughs ... so nicely ... plays, plays, and then suddenly--hop! _Obey
him!_ No, darling, I am not that kind! Carry my train, that is your
business--fool!

HE

I shall carry your train, my Queen. Forgive me. Give me back the image
of my beautiful, piteous goddess.

CONSUELO

[_Quieting down_]: You're playing again?

HE

I am.

CONSUELO

[_Laughing_]: You see! [_Sits down._] Foolish HE.

HE

I see everything, my Queen. I see how beautiful you are, and how low
under your feet your poor court fool is lying. Somewhere in the abyss
his little bells are ringing. He kneels before you and prays; forgive
and pity him, my divine one. He was too impudent; he played so
cheerfully that he went too far and lost his tiny little mind, the last
bit of understanding he had saved up. Forgive me!

CONSUELO

All right. I forgive you. [_Laughs._] And now will you allow me to marry
the Baron?

HE

[_Also laughing_]: And nevertheless I will not allow it. But what does a
queen care about the permission of her enamoured fool?

CONSUELO

Get up. You are forgiven. And do you know why? You think because of your
words? You are a cunning beast, HE! No, because of the _sandwiches_.
That's why. You were so lovely, you panted so when you brought them.
Poor darling HE. From to-morrow you may be at my feet again. And as soon
as I whistle, "tuwhooo"----

HE

I shall instantly lie down at thy feet, Consuelo. It is settled! But all
my little bells fell off to-day and----

     [_Bezano appears, confused._]

CONSUELO

Alfred! You came for me?

BEZANO

Yes. Will you work some more, Consuelo?

CONSUELO

Certainly. As much as you want. But I thought, Alfred, you were mad at
me? I shan't dawdle any more.

BEZANO

No. You didn't dawdle. Don't be offended, because I yelled so much. You
know when one has to teach, and----

CONSUELO

My goodness, do you think I don't understand? You are too nice,
unbearably nice, to like teaching such a fool as me. Do you think I
don't understand? Come on!

BEZANO

Come on! Hello, HE! I haven't seen you yet to-day. How are you?

HE

How are you, Bezano? Wait, wait a minute--stay here a minute, both of
you--that way. Yes!

     [CONSUELO _and_ BEZANO _stand side by side, the jockey scowling_,
     CONSUELO _laughing and flushing_.]

CONSUELO

Like Adam and Eve? How foolish you are! Terribly. [_She runs away._] I
shall only change my slippers, Alfred.

HE

Consuelo! And how about Father and the Baron? They will come soon, to
take you with them.

CONSUELO

Let them come. They can wait. Not very important people. [_Runs away._
BEZANO _hesitatingly follows her_.]

HE

Stay here for a while, Bezano. Sit down.

BEZANO

What more do you want? I have no time for your nonsense.

HE

You can remain standing if you want. Bezano--you love her? [_Silence._]

BEZANO

I shall allow nobody to interfere with my affairs. You allow yourself
too many liberties, HE. I don't know you. You came from the street, and
why should I trust you?

HE

But you know the Baron? Listen. It is painful for me to pronounce these
words: she loves you. Save her from the spider! Or are you blind, and
don't see the web, which is woven in every dark corner. Get out of the
vicious circle in which you are turning around, like a blind man. Take
her away, steal her, do what you want ... kill her even, and take her to
the heavens or to the devil! But don't give her to this man! He is a
defiler of love. And if you are timid, if you are afraid to lift your
hand against her--kill the Baron! Kill!

BEZANO

[_With a smile_]: And who will kill the others, to come?

HE

She loves you.

BEZANO

Did she tell you that herself?

HE

What a petty, what a stupid, what a human pride! But _you_ are a little
god! A god, youth! Why don't you want to believe me? Or does the
street, from which I have come, bother you? But look, look yourself.
Look in my eyes, do such eyes lie? Yes, my face is ugly, I make faces
and grimaces, I am surrounded by laughter, but don't you see the god
behind all this, a god, like you? Look, look at me! [BEZANO _bursts out
laughing_.] What are you laughing at, youth?

BEZANO

You look now as you did that evening in the ring. You remember? When you
were a great man, and they sent for you from the Academy, and
suddenly--Hup! HE Who Gets Slapped!

HE

[_Laughing the same way_]: Yes, yes, you are right, Bezano. There is a
resemblance. [_With a strained expression, taking a pose_] "It seems to
me they sent for me from the Academy!"

BEZANO

[_Displeased_]: But I don't like this play. You can present your face
for slaps if you want to, but don't dare to expose mine. [_Turns to
go._]

HE

Bezano!

BEZANO

[_Turning round_]: And never let me hear any more about Consuelo, and
don't dare to tell me again that I am a god! It is disgusting.

     [BEZANO _goes out angrily, striking his boot with his whip. HE is
     alone. Wrathfully, with a tortured expression, he makes a step
     towards the jockey, then stops, with soundless laughter, his head
     thrown backwards. The_ BARON _and_ MANCINI _find him in this
     position, when they enter_.]

MANCINI

[_Laughing_]: What a cheerful chap you are, HE! You laugh when you are
alone. [_HE laughs aloud._] Stop it fool! How can you stand it?

HE

[_Bowing low, with a large gesture_]: How do you do, Baron? My humblest
respects to you, Count. I beg your pardon, Count, but you found the
clown at work. These are, so to speak, Baron, his every-day pleasures.

MANCINI

[_Lifting his eyebrows_]: Tsss. But you are a clever man, HE. I shall
ask Papa Briquet to give you a benefit performance. Shall I, HE?

HE

Please do me the favour, Count.

MANCINI

Don't overdo. Be more simple, HE. [_Laughs._] But how many slaps will
you get at your benefit performance, when even on weekdays they ring you
like a gong! A funny profession, isn't it, Baron?

BARON

Very strange. But where is the Countess?

MANCINI

Yes, yes. I shall go for her at once. Dear child, she is so absorbed in
her benefit performance and her work. They call this jumping _work_,
Baron.

BARON

I can wait a little. [_Sits down, with his silk hat on his head._]

MANCINI

But why? I shall hurry her up. I shall be back at once. And you, HE, be
a nice host, and entertain our dear guest. You will not be bored in his
company, Baron.

     [_He goes out. HE strides about the stage, smiling and glancing
     from time to time at the_ BARON. _The latter sits with his legs
     spread apart and his chin on the top of his cane. The silk hat
     remains on his head. He is silent._]

HE

In what way would you like me to entertain you, Baron?

BARON

In no way! I don't like clowns.

HE

Nor I Barons.

     [_Silence. HE puts on his derby hat, takes a chair with a large
     gesture, and puts it down heavily, in front of the_ BARON. _HE sits
     astride it, imitating the pose of the_ BARON, _and looks him in the
     eyes. Silence._]

HE

Can you be silent very long?

BARON

Very long.

HE

[_Taps on the floor with his foot_]: And can you wait very long?

BARON

Very long.

HE

Until you get it?

BARON

Until I get it. And you?

HE

I too.

     [_Both look at each other, silently, their heads close together.
     From the ring one hears the strains of the Tango._]

CURTAIN



ACT IV


_Music in the ring. More disorder in the room than usual. All kinds of
actors' costumes hanging on pegs and lying in the corners. On the table
a bouquet of fiery-red roses, put there by some careless hand. At the
entrance, near the arch, three bareback riders are smoking and
chattering; they are all minor actors. All part their hair the same way;
two wear small moustaches; the third one is clean-shaven with a face
like a bull-dog._

THE CLEAN-SHAVEN ONE

Go on, Henry! Ten thousand francs! It's too much even for the Baron.

THE SECOND

How much are roses now?

THE SHAVEN

I don't know. In winter they are certainly more expensive, but still
Henry talks nonsense. Ten thousand!

THE SECOND

The Baron has his own hothouse. They don't cost him anything.

HENRY

[_Throwing away hit cigar, which has burned the tips of his fingers_]:
No, Grab, you're silly. There's a whole car-load full! One can smell the
roses a mile away. They're to cover the entire arena.

THE SHAVEN

Only the ring.

HENRY

It's all the same. In order to cover the ring, you must have thousands
and thousands of roses. You'll see what it looks like, when they've
covered everything like a carpet. He ordered them to make it like a
carpet! Do you see, Grab?

THE SECOND

What a Baron's craze! Isn't it time yet?

HENRY

No, we have time enough. I rather like it: a fiery-red tango on a
fiery-red cover of winter roses!

THE SHAVEN

Consuelo will be galloping on roses. And Bezano?

THE SECOND

And Bezano on thorns. [_Smiles._]

THE SHAVEN

That youngster has no self-respect. I'd have refused.

HENRY

But it is his job. He's got to do it. [_Laughs._] Talk to him about
self-respect. He's as angry and proud as a little Satan.

THE SECOND

No, you may say what you like, it's an excellent benefit performance.
It's a joy to look at the crowd. They're so excited.

HENRY

Tss! [_All throw away their cigars and cigarettes, like school boys who
are caught, and make way for_ ZINIDA, _who enters with_ HE.]

ZINIDA

What are you doing here, gentlemen? Your place is at the entrance.

HENRY

[_With a respectful smile_]: We are here just for a minute, Madame
Zinida. We are going. What a successful evening! And what a glory for
Papa Briquet!

ZINIDA

Yes. Go, and please don't leave your places. [_They go._ ZINIDA _pulls a
drawer out of the desk, and puts in some papers. She is in her lion
tamer's costume._] HE, what were you doing near my lions? You frightened
me.

HE

Why, Duchess, I merely wanted to hear what the beasts were saying about
the benefit performance. They are pacing in their cages, and growling.

ZINIDA

The music makes them nervous. Sit down, HE. An excellent evening, and I
am so glad that Consuelo is leaving us. Have you heard about the Baron's
roses.

HE

Everybody is talking about them. The Hymeneal roses!

ZINIDA

Here are some, too. [_Pushes away the bouquet._] You find them
everywhere. Yes, I am glad. She is superfluous here, and disturbs our
work. It is a misfortune for a cast to have in it such a beautiful and
such an ... accessible girl.

HE

But it is an honest marriage, Duchess, is it not?

ZINIDA

I don't care what it is.

HE

Spiders, too need an improvement in their breed! Can't you imagine,
Zinida, what charming little spiders this couple will create! They will
have the face of their mother, Consuelo, and the stomach of their
father, the Baron, and thus could be an ornament for any circus-ring.

ZINIDA

You are malicious to-day, HE. You are morose.

HE

I laugh.

ZINIDA

You do, but without joy. Why are you without make-up?

HE

I am in the third act. I have time. And how does Bezano feel about this
evening. Is he glad?

ZINIDA

I didn't talk to Bezano. You know what I think, my friend? You, too, are
superfluous here. [_Silence._]

HE

How do you want me to take that, Zinida?

ZINIDA

Just as I said. In fact, Consuelo sold herself for nothing. What is the
Baron worth, with his poor millions? People say that you are clever, too
clever perhaps; tell me then, for how much could one buy me?

HE

[_Looking as if he were pricing her_]: Only for a crown.

ZINIDA

A baron's crown?

HE

No, a royal one.

ZINIDA

You are far from being stupid. And you guessed that Consuelo is not
Mancini's daughter?

HE

[_Startled_]: What! And she knows it?

ZINIDA

Hardly. Why should she know it? Yes, she is a girl from Corsica whose
parents are unknown. He preferred to use her for business rather
than.... But according to the law, she is his daughter, Countess
Veronica Mancini.

HE

It is nice, to have everything done according to law, isn't it, Zinida?
But it is curious there is more blue blood in her than in this Mancini.
One would say that it was she who found him on the street, and made him
a count and her father. Count Mancini! [_Laughs._]

ZINIDA

Yes, you are gloomy, HE. I changed my mind, you'd better stay.

HE

Will I not be superfluous?

ZINIDA

When she is gone, you will not. Oh! You don't know yet, how nice it is
to be with us. What a rest for the body and mind. I understand you. I am
clever, too. Like you, I brought with me from out there my inclination
for chains, and for a long time I chained myself to whatever I could, in
order to feel firm.

HE

Bezano?

ZINIDA

Bezano and others; there were many, there will be many more. My red
lion, with whom I am desperately in love, is still more terrible than
Bezano. But it is all nonsense; old habits, which we are sorry to let
go, like old servants who steal things. Leave Consuelo alone. She has
her own way.

HE

Automobiles and diamonds?

ZINIDA

When did you see a beauty clad in simple cotton? If this one does not
buy her, another will. They buy off everything that is beautiful. Yes, I
know. For the first ten years she will be a sad beauty, who will attract
the eyes of the poor man on the side-walk: afterward she will begin to
paint a little around her eyes and smile, and then will take----

HE

Her _chauffeur_ or butler as a lover? You're not guessing badly, Zinida!

ZINIDA

Am I not right? I don't want to intrude on your confidence, but to-day I
am sorry for you, HE. What can you do against Fate? Don't be offended,
my friend, by the words of a woman. I like you; you are not beautiful,
nor young, nor rich, and your place is----

HE

On the side-walk, from which one looks at the beauties. [_Laughs._] And
if I don't want to?

ZINIDA

What does it matter, your "want" or "don't want"? I am sorry for you, my
poor friend, but if you are a strong man, and I think you are, then
there is only one way for you. To forget.

HE

You think that that's being strong? And you are saying this, you, Queen
Zinida, who want to awaken the feeling of love, even in the heart of a
lion? For one second of an illusory possession, you are ready to pay
with your life, and still you advise me to forget! Give me your strong
hand, my beautiful lady; see how much strength there is in this
pressure, and don't pity me.

[_Enter_ BRIQUET _and_ MANCINI. _The latter it reserved, and
self-consciously imposing. He has a new suit, but the same cane, and the
same noiseless smile of a satyr._]

ZINIDA

[_Whispering_]: Will you stay?

HE

Yes. I shan't go away.

MANCINI

How are you, my dear? But you are dazzling, my dear! I swear you are
marvellous! Your lion would be an ass, if he did not kiss your hand, as
I do.... [_Kisses her hand._]

ZINIDA

May I congratulate you, Count?

MANCINI

Yes, merci. [_To_ HE]: How are you, my dear?

HE

Good evening, Count!

BRIQUET

Zinida, the Count wants to pay immediately for the breach of contract
with Consuelo ... the Countess's contract. Don't you remember, Mother,
how much it is?

ZINIDA

I'll look it up, Papa.

MANCINI

Yes, please. Consuelo will not return here any more. We leave to-morrow.

[ZINIDA _and_ BRIQUET _search among the papers_. HE _takes_ MANCINI
_roughly by the elbow, and draws him aside._]

HE

[_In a low voice_]: How are your girls, Mancini?

MANCINI

What girls? What is this, stupidity or blackmail? Look out, sir, be
careful, the policeman is not far.

HE

You are much too severe, Mancini. I assumed, that since we are
_tête-á-tête_....

MANCINI

But tell me, what kind of _tête-á-tête_ is possible, between a clown and
me? [_Laughs._] You are stupid, HE. You should say what you want, and
not ask questions!

BRIQUET

Three thousand francs, Count.

MANCINI

Is that all? For Consuelo? All right. I'll tell the Baron.

ZINIDA

You took----

BRIQUET

Don't, Mother, don't.

ZINIDA

Count, you drew in advance, I have it written down, eighty francs and
twenty centimes. Will you pay this money, too?

MANCINI

Certainly, certainly. You will get three thousand and one hundred.
[_Laughing_] Twenty centimes! I never thought I could be so accurate.
[_Seriously_] Yes, my friends. My daughter Consuelo--the Countess--and
the Baron, expressed their desire to bid farewell to the whole cast.

HE

The Baron, too?

MANCINI

Yes, Auguste, too. They want to do it during the intermission.
Therefore, I ask you to gather here ... the more decent ones ... but
please don't make it too crowded! HE, will you, sir, be kind enough to
run into the buffet and tell them to bring right away a basket of
champagne, bottles and glasses--you understand?

HE

Yes, Count.

MANCINI

Wait a minute, what's the hurry--what is this, a new costume? You are
all burning like the devils in hell!

HE

You do me too much honour, Count, I am not a devil. I am merely a poor
sinner who the devils are frying a little. [_He goes out, bowing like a
clown._]

MANCINI

A gifted chap, but too cunning.

BRIQUET

It's the Tango colour, in honour of your daughter, Count. He needs it
for a new stunt, which he doesn't want to tell in advance. Don't you
want to sit down, Count?

MANCINI

Auguste is waiting for me, but ... it's all right. [_Takes a seat._]
Nevertheless I am sorry to leave you, my friend. High society,
certainly, prerogatives of the title, castles of exalted noblemen, but
where could I find such freedom, and ... such simplicity.... And
besides, these announcements, these burning posters, which take your
breath in the morning, they had something which summoned, which
encouraged.... _There_, my friends, I shall become old.

BRIQUET

But pleasures of a higher kind, Count. Why are you silent, Zinida?

ZINIDA

I'm listening.

MANCINI

By the way, my dear, how do you like my suit? You have wonderful taste.
[_Spreads out his lace tie and lace cuffs._]

ZINIDA

I like it. You look like a nobleman of the courts of long ago.

MANCINI

Yes? But don't you think it is too conspicuous? Who wears lace and satin
now? This dirty democracy will soon make us dress ourselves in sack
cloth. [_With a sigh_] Auguste told me that this jabot was out of place.

ZINIDA

The Baron is too severe.

MANCINI

Yes, but it seems to me he is right. I am a little infected with your
fancy. [HE _returns. Two waiters follow him, carrying a basket of
champagne and glasses. They prepare everything on the table._]

MANCINI

Ah! _merci_, HE. But, please, none of this bourgeoise exploding of
corks; be slower and more modest. Send the bill to Baron Regnard. Then,
we will be here, Briquet. I must go.

ZINIDA

[_Looks at her watch_]: Yes, the act is going to end soon.

MANCINI

Heavens! [_Disappears in a hurry._]

BRIQUET

The devil take him!

ZINIDA

[_Pointing to the waiter_]: Not so loud, Louis!

BRIQUET

No! The devil take him! And why couldn't you help me, Mother? You left
me alone to talk to him. High Society! High pleasures! Swindler! [HE
_and_ ZINIDA _laugh. The waiters smile._]

BRIQUET

[_To the waiters_]: What are you laughing about? You can go. We will
help ourselves. Whiskey and soda, Jean! [_In a low and angry voice_]
Champagne! [_Enter_ JACKSON, _in his clown's costume._]

JACKSON

A whiskey and soda for me, too! At least I hear some laughter here.
Those idiots have simply forgotten how to laugh. My sun was rising and
setting and crawling all over the ring---- and not a smile! Look at my
bottom, shines like a mirror! [_Turns around quickly._] Beg your pardon,
Zinida. And you don't look badly to-night, HE. Look out for your cheeks.
I hate beauties.

BRIQUET

A benefit performance crowd!

JACKSON

[_Looking in a hand mirror, correcting his make-up_]: In the orchestra
there are some Barons and Egyptian mummies. I got a belly-ache from
fright. I am an honest clown. I can't stand it when they look at me as
if I had stolen a handkerchief. HE, please give them a good many slaps
to-night.

HE

Be quiet, Jim. I shall avenge you. [_HE goes out._]

ZINIDA

And how is Bezano?

JACKSON

[_Grumbling_]: Bezano! A crazy success. But he is crazy, he will break
his neck to-morrow. Why does he run such a risk? Or perhaps he has
wings, like a god? Devil take it. It's disgusting to look at him. It's
not work any more.

BRIQUET

You are right, Jim! It is not work any more. To your health, old
comrade, Jackson.

JACKSON

To yours, Louis.

BRIQUET

It is not work any more, since these Barons came here! Do you hear? They
are laughing. But I am indignant, I am indignant, Jim! What do they want
here, these Barons? Let them steal hens in other hen roosts, and leave
us in peace. Ah! Had I been Secretary of the Interior, I should have
made an iron fence between us and those people.

JACKSON

I am very sorry myself for our dear little Consuelo. I don't know why,
but it seems to me that we all look to-day more like swindlers than
honest artists. Don't you think so, Zinida?

ZINIDA

Everybody does what he wants. It's Consuelo's business and her father's.

BRIQUET

No, Mother, that's not true! Not everybody does what he wants, but it
turns out this way ... devil knows why.

_[Enter_ ANGELICA _and_ THOMAS, _an athlete._]

ANGELICA

Is this where we're going to have champagne?

BRIQUET

And you're glad already?

THOMAS

There it is! Oh, oh, what a lot!

ANGELICA

The Count told me to come here. I met him.

BRIQUET

[_Angrily_]: All right, if he said so, but there is no reason to enjoy
it. Look out, Angelica, you will have a bad end. I see you through and
through. How does she work, Thomas?

THOMAS

Very well.

ANGELICA

[_In a low voice_]: How angry Papa Briquet is to-night.

[Enter HE, TILLY, POLLY, _and other actors, all in their costumes._]

TILLY

Do you really want champagne?

POLLY

I don't want it at all. Do you, Tilly?

TILLY

And I don't want it. HE, did you see how the Count walks? [_Walks,
imitating_ MANCINI. _Laughter._]

POLLY

Let me be the Baron. Take my arm. Look out, ass, you stepped on my
beloved family tree!

ANGELICA

It'll soon be finished. Consuelo is galloping now. It is her waltz. What
a success she is having!

[_All listen to the waltz._ TILLY _and_ POLLY _are singing it softly._]

ANGELICA

She is so beautiful! Are those her flowers?

[_They listen. Suddenly, a crash as if a broken wall were tumbling down:
applause, shouting, screaming; much motion on the stage. The actors are
pouring champagne. New ones come in, talking and laughing. When they
notice the director and the champagne, they become quiet and modest._]

VOICES

They're coming! What a success! I should say, since all the orchestra
seats.... And what will it be when they see the Tango? Don't be envious,
Alphonse.

BRIQUET

Silence! Not so much noise, please! Zinida, look here, don't be so
quiet! High society!

[_Enter_ CONSUELO, _on the arm of the_ BARON _who is stiff and erect.
She is happy._ MANCINI, _serious and happy. Behind them, riders, actors,
actresses. The_ BARON _has in his button-hole a fiery-red rose. All
applaud and cry: "Bravo, bravo!"_]

CONSUELO

Friends ... my dears ... Father, I can't ... [_Throws herself into_
MANCINI'S _arms, and hides her face on his shoulders._ MANCINI _looks
with a smile over her head at the_ BARON. BARON _smiles slightly, but
remains earnest and motionless. A new burst of applause._]

BRIQUET

Enough, children! Enough!

MANCINI

Calm yourself, calm yourself, my child. How they all love you! [_Taking
a step forward_] Ladies and gentlemen, Baron Regnard did me the honour
yesterday, to ask for the hand of my daughter, the Countess Veronica,
whom you knew under the name of Consuelo. Please take your glasses.

CONSUELO

No, I am still Consuelo, to-night, and I shall always be Consuelo!
Zinida, dear! [_Falls on the neck of_ ZINIDA. _Fresh applause._]

BRIQUET

Stop it! Silence! Take your glasses. What are you standing here for? If
you came, then take the glasses.

TILLY

[_Trembling_]: They are frightened. You take yours first, Papa, and we
will follow.

[_They take the glasses._ CONSUELO _is near the_ BARON, _holding the
sleeve of his dress coat with her left hand. In her right hand, she has
a glass of champagne, which spills over._]

BARON

You are spilling your wine, Consuelo.

CONSUELO

Ah! It is nothing! I am frightened, too. Are you, Father?

MANCINI

Silly child. [_An awkward silence._]

BRIQUET

[_With a step forward_]: Countess! As the director of the circus, who
was happy enough ... to witness ... many times ... your successes....

CONSUELO

I do not _like_ this, Papa Briquet! I am Consuelo. What do you want to
do with me? I shall cry. I don't want this "Countess." Give me a kiss,
Briquet!

BRIQUET

Ah, Consuelo! Books have killed you.

[_Kisses her with tears. Laughter, applause. The clowns cluck like hens,
bark, and express their emotions in many other ways. The motley crowd of
clowns, which is ready for the pantomime, becomes more and more lively.
The_ BARON _is motionless, there is a wide space around him; the people
touch glasses with him in a hurry, and go off to one side. With_
CONSUELO _they clink willingly and cheerfully. She kisses the women._]

JACKSON

Silence! Consuelo, from to-day on, I extinguish my sun. Let the dark
night come after you leave us. You were a nice comrade and worker, we
all loved you and will love the traces of your little feet on the sand.
Nothing remains to us!

CONSUELO

You are so good, so good, Jim. So good that there is no one better. And
your sun is better than all the other suns. I laughed so much at it.
Alfred, dear, why don't you come? I was looking for you.

BEZANO

My congratulations, Countess.

CONSUELO

Alfred, I am Consuelo!

BEZANO

When you are on horseback; but here--I congratulate you, Countess. [_He
passes, only slightly touching_ CONSUELO'S _glass_. CONSUELO _still
holds it_. MANCINI _looks at the_ BARON _with a smile_. _The latter is
motionless._]

BRIQUET

Nonsense, Bezano. You are making Consuelo unhappy. She is a good
comrade.

CONSUELO

No, it's all right.

ANGELICA

You'll dance the Tango with her to-night, so how is she a countess?

TILLY

May I clink glasses with you, Consuelo? You know Polly has died of grief
already, and I am going to die. I have such a weak stomach.

     [_Laughter_; BARON _shows slight displeasure_. _General motion._]

MANCINI

Enough, enough! The intermission is over.

CONSUELO

Already? It's so nice here.

BRIQUET

I shall prolong it. They can wait. Tell them, Thomas.

MANCINI

Auguste, the musicians of the orchestra, too, ask permission to
congratulate you and Consuelo. Do you ...?

BARON

Certainly, certainly.

     [_Enter crowd of musicians. The conductor, an old Italian, lifts
     his glass solemnly and without looking at the_ BARON.]

THE CONDUCTOR

Consuelo! They call you Countess here, but for me you were and are
_Consuelo_.

CONSUELO

Certainly!

THE CONDUCTOR

Consuelo! My violins and bassoons, my trumpets and drums, all are
drinking your health. Be happy, dear child, as you were happy here. And
we shall conserve for ever in our hearts the fair memory of our
light-winged fairy, who guided our bows so long. I have finished! Give
my love to our beautiful Italy, Consuelo.

     [_Applause, compliments. The musicians one after another clink
     glasses and go out into the corridor._ CONSUELO _is almost
     crying_.]

MANCINI

Don't be so sensitive, my child, it is indecent. Had I known that you
would respond this way to this comedy--Auguste, look how touched this
little heart is!

BARON

Calm yourself, Consuelo.

CONSUELO

It is all right. Ah, Father, listen!

     [_The musicians are playing the Tango in the corridor.
     Exclamations._]

MANCINI

You see. It is for you.

CONSUELO

They are so nice. My Tango! I want to dance. Who is going to dance with
me? [_Looks around, seeking_ BEZANO, _who turns away sadly_.] Who,
then?

VOICES

Baron! Let the Baron dance! Baron!

BARON

All right. [_Takes_ CONSUELO'S _arm, and stands in the centre of a
circle which is formed_.] I do not know how to dance the Tango, but I
shall hold tight. Dance, Consuelo. [_He stands with legs spread, heavily
and awkwardly, like an iron-moulded man, holding_ CONSUELO'S _arm firmly
and seriously_.]

MANCINI

[_Applauding_]: Bravo! Bravo! [CONSUELO _makes a few restless movements,
and pulls her arm away_.]

CONSUELO

No, I can't this way. How stupid! Let me go! [_She goes to_ ZINIDA _and
embraces her, as if hiding herself_. _The music still plays. The_ BARON
_goes off quietly to the side_. _There is an unfriendly silence among
the cast. They shrug their shoulders._]

MANCINI

[_Alone_]: Bravo! Bravo! It is charming, it is exquisite!

JACKSON

Not entirely, Count.

     [TILLY _and_ POLLY _imitate the_ BARON _and_ CONSUELO _without
     moving from their places_.]

TILLY

[_Shrieking_]: Let me go!

POLLY

No, I'll not. Dance!

     [_The music stops abruptly. General, too loud laughter; the clowns
     bark and roar. Papa_ BRIQUET _gesticulates, in order to
     re-establish silence_. _The_ BARON _is apparently as indifferent as
     before_.]

MANCINI

Really these vagabonds are becoming too impertinent. [_Shrugging his
shoulders_] It smells of the stable. You cannot help it, Auguste!

BARON

Don't be upset, Count.

HE

[_Holding his glass, approaches the_ BARON]: Baron. Will you permit me
to make a toast?

BARON

Make it.

HE

To your dance! [_Slight laughter in the crowd._]

BARON

I don't dance!

HE

Then another one, Baron. Let us drink to those who know how to wait
longer, until they get it.

BARON

I do not accept any toasts which I do not understand. Say it more
simply.

[_Voice of a woman: "Bravo, HE!_" _Slight laughter._

     MANCINI _says something hastily to_ BRIQUET; _the latter spreads
     his arms in gesture of helplessness_. JACKSON _takes HE by the
     arm_.]

JACKSON

Beat it, HE! The Baron doesn't like jokes.

HE

But I want to drink with the Baron. What can be simpler? Simpler? Baron,
let us drink to the very small distance which will always remain 'twixt
the cup and the lip! [_Spills his wine, and laughs._]

     [_The_ BARON _turns his back on him, indifferently_. _The music
     plays in the ring. The bell rings._]

BRIQUET

[_Relieved_]: There! To the ring, ladies and gentlemen, to the ring, to
the ring!

     [_The actresses run out. The crowd becomes smaller; laughter and
     voices._]

MANCINI

[_Much excited, whispers to the_ BARON]: "Auguste, Auguste----"

BRIQUET

[_To_ ZINIDA]: Thank heaven they're beginning. Ah, Mother, I asked you
... but you want a scandal by all means, and you always----

ZINIDA

Let me alone, Louis.

[_HE approaches Consuelo, who is alone._]

CONSUELO

HE, deary, how are you? I thought you didn't want even to come near me.
[_In a low voice_] Did you notice Bezano?

HE

I was waiting for my turn, Queen. It was so difficult to get through the
crowd to approach you.

CONSUELO

Through the crowd? [_With a sad smile_] I am quite alone. What do you
want, Father?

MANCINI

Child! Auguste....

CONSUELO

[_Pulling away her hand_]: Let me alone! I'll soon be---- Come
here, HE. What did you say to him? They all laughed. I couldn't
understand. What?

HE

I joked, Consuelo.

CONSUELO

Please don't, HE, don't make him angry; he is so terrible. Did you see
how he pressed my arm? I wanted to scream. [_With tears in her eyes_] He
hurt me!

HE

It's not too late yet. Refuse him.

CONSUELO

It is too late, HE. Don't talk about it.

HE

Do you want it? I will take you away from here.

CONSUELO

Where to? [_Laughs._] Ah, my dear little silly boy, where could you take
me to. All right, be quiet. How pale you are! You too, love me? Don't
HE, please don't! Why do they all love me?

HE

You are so beautiful!

CONSUELO

No, no. It's not true. They must not love me. I was still a little
cheerful, but when they began to speak ... so nicely ... and about
Italy ... and to bid farewell, as if I were dying, I thought I should
begin to cry. Don't talk, don't talk, but drink to ... my happiness.
[_With a sad smile_] To my happiness, HE. What are you doing?

HE

I am throwing away the glass from which you drank with the others. I
shall give you another one. Wait a minute. [_Goes to pour champagne._
CONSUELO _walks about thoughtfully_. _Almost all are gone. Only the
principal figures are left._]

MANCINI

[_Coming to her_]: But it is really becoming indecent, Veronica. Auguste
is so nice, he is waiting for you, and you talk here with this clown.
Some stupid secrets. They're looking at you--it is becoming noticeable.
It is high time, Veronica, to get rid of these habits.

CONSUELO

[_Loudly_]: Let me alone, Father! I want to do so, and will do so. They
are all my friends. Do you hear? Let me alone!

BARON

Don't, Count. Please, Consuelo, talk to whomever you please and as much
as you want. Would you like a cigar, Count? Dear Briquet, please order
them to prolong the intermission a little more.

BRIQUET

With pleasure, Baron. The orchestra crowd can be a little angry. [_Goes,
and returns shortly._ _HE gives a glass to_ CONSUELO.]

HE

Here is your glass. To your happiness, to your freedom, Consuelo!

CONSUELO

And where is yours? We must touch our glasses.

HE

You leave half.

CONSUELO

Must I drink so much? HE, deary, I shall become drunk. I still have to
ride.

HE

No, you will not be drunk. Dear little girl, did you forget that I am
your magician? Be quiet and drink. I charmed the wine. My witchery is
in it. Drink, goddess.

CONSUELO

[_Lingeringly_]: What kind eyes you have. But why are you so pale?

HE

Because I love you. Look at my kind eyes and drink; give yourself up to
my charms, goddess! You shall fall asleep, and wake again, as before. Do
you remember? And you shall see your country, your sky....

CONSUELO

[_Bringing the glass to her lips_]: I shall see all this; is that true?

HE

[_Growing paler_]: Yes! Awake, goddess, and remember the time when,
covered with snow-white sea-foam, thou didst emerge from the sky blue
waters. Remember heaven, and the low eastern wind, and the whisper of
the foam at thy marble feet....

CONSUELO

[_Drinking_]: There! Look! Just a half! Take it. But what is the matter
with you? Are you laughing or crying?

HE

I am laughing and crying.

MANCINI

[_Pushing HE away, slightly_]: Enough, Countess, my patience is
exhausted. If Auguste is good enough to allow it, then I, your
Father--Your arm, Countess! Will you step aside, sir?

CONSUELO

I am tired.

MANCINI

You are not too tired to chatter and drink wine with a clown, and when
your duty calls you--Briquet! Tell them to ring the bell. It is time.

CONSUELO

I am tired, Father.

ZINIDA

Count, it is cruel. Don't you see how pale she has become?

BARON

What is the matter with you, dear little Consuelo?

CONSUELO

Nothing.

ZINIDA

She simply needs a rest, Baron. She hasn't sat down yet ... and so much
excitement.... Sit down here, dear child. Cover yourself and rest a
little. Men are so cruel!

CONSUELO

I still have to work. [_Closing her eyes._] And the roses, are they
ready?

ZINIDA

Ready, dear, ready. You will have such an extraordinary carpet. You will
gallop as if on air. Rest.

POLLY

Do you want some moosic? We will play you a song; do you want it?

CONSUELO

[_Smiling, eyes closed_]: Yes, I do.

     [_The clowns play a soft and naïve song: tilly-polly, tilly-polly.
     General silence._ _HE sits in the corner with his face turned
     away._ JACKSON _watches him out of the corner of his eye, and
     drinks wine, lazily_. _The_ BARON, _in his usual pose, wide and
     heavily spread legs, looks at the pale face of_ CONSUELO, _with his
     bulging motionless eyes_.]

CONSUELO

[_With a sudden cry_]: Ah! Pain!

ZINIDA

What is it, Consuelo?

MANCINI

My child! Are you sick! Calm yourself.

BARON

[_Growing pale_]: Wait a moment.... She was too much excited....
Consuelo!

CONSUELO

[_Gets up, looking before her with wide-open eyes, as if she were
listening to something within herself_]: Ah! I feel pain. Here at the
heart. Father, what is it? I am afraid. What is it? My feet too ... I
can't stand.... [_Falls on divan, her eyes wide open._]

MANCINI

[_Running about_]: Bring a doctor! Heavens, it is terrible! Auguste,
Baron.... It never happened to her. It is nerves, nerves.... Calm
yourself, calm, child----

BRIQUET

Bring a doctor! [_Somebody runs for a doctor._]

JACKSON

[_In a voice full of fear_]: HE, what is the matter with you?

HE

It is death, Consuelo, my little Queen. I killed you. You are dying.

     [_He cries, loudly and bitterly._ CONSUELO _with a scream, closes
     her eyes, and becomes silent and quiet_. _All are in terrible
     agitation. The_ BARON _is motionless, and sees only_ CONSUELO.]

MANCINI

[_Furious_]: You are lying, rascal! Damned clown! What did you give her?
You poisoned her! Murderer! Bring a doctor!

HE

A doctor will not help. You are dying, my little Queen. Consuelo!
Consuelo!

[BEZANO _rushes in, cries_: "BRIQUET!" _becomes silent and looks with
horror at_ CONSUELO. _Somebody else comes in._ BRIQUET _is making
gestures for someone to close the door_.]

CONSUELO

[_In a dull and distant voice_]: You are joking, HE? Don't frighten me.
I am so frightened. Is that death? I don't want it. Ah, HE, my darling
HE, tell me that you are joking, I am afraid, my dear, golden HE!

     [_HE pushes away the_ BARON, _with a commanding gesture, and stands
     in his place near_ CONSUELO. _The_ BARON _stands as before, seeing
     only_ CONSUELO.]

HE

Yes, I am joking. Don't you hear how I laugh, Consuelo? They all laugh
at you here, my silly child. Don't laugh, Jim. She is tired, and wants
to sleep. How can you laugh, Jim! Sleep my dear, sleep my heart, sleep
my love.

CONSUELO

Yes, I have no more pain. Why did you joke that way, and frighten me?
Now I laugh at myself. You told me, didn't you, that I ... should ...
live ... eternally?

HE

Yes, Consuelo! You shall live eternally. Sleep. Be calm. [_Lifts up his
arms, as if straining with all his forces to lift her soul higher._] How
easy it is now! How much light, how many lights are burning about
you.... The light is blinding you.

CONSUELO

Yes, light.... Is that the ring?

HE

No, it is the sea and the sun ... what a sun! Don't you feel that you
are the foam, white sea-foam, and you are flying to the sun? You feel
light, you have no body, you are flying higher, my love!

CONSUELO

I am flying. I am the sea-foam, and this is the sun, it shines ... so
strong.... I feel well.

[_She dies. Silence. HE stays a moment with lifted arms, then takes a
long look, lets his arms fall, and shakingly goes off to one side. He
stands still for a moment, then sits down, drops hit head on his hands,
and struggles lonesomely with the torpidity of coming death._]

BRIQUET

[_Slowly_]: She has fallen asleep, Mother?

ZINIDA

[_Dropping the dead hand_]: I am afraid not.... Step aside, Louis.
Baron, it is better for you to step aside. Baron! Do you hear me?
[_Weeps._] She is dead, Louis.

     [_The clowns and_ BRIQUET _are crying_. MANCINI _is overwhelmed_.
     _The_ BARON _and HE are motionless, each in his place_.]

JACKSON

[_Drawing out a large prismatic clown's handkerchief to wipe away his
tears_]: Faded, like a flower. Sleep, little Consuelo! The only thing
that remains of you is the trace of your little feet on the sand.
[_Cries._] Ah, what did you do, what did you do, HE!... It would have
been better if you had never come to us. [_There it music in the
ring._]

BRIQUET

[_Gesticulating_]: The music! Stop the music! They are crazy there. What
a misfortune!

     [_Someone runs off._ ZINIDA _approaches the crying_ BEZANO _and
     strokes his bowed, pomaded head_. _When he notices her, he catches
     her hand and presses it to his eyes._ _The_ BARON _takes the rose
     from his button-hole, tears off the petals, and drops it, grinding
     it with his foot_. _A few pale faces peer through the door, the
     same masquerade crowd._]

ZINIDA

[_Over the head of_ BEZANO]: Louis, we must call the police.

MANCINI

[_Awakening from his stupor, screams_]: The police! Call the police!
It's a murder! I am Count Mancini, I am Count Mancini! They will cut off
your head, murderer, damned clown, thief! I myself will kill you,
rascal! Ah, you! [_HE lifts his heavy head with difficulty._]

HE

They will cut off my head? And what more.... Your Excellency?

BARON

Sir! Listen, sir! I am going for the police. Stop it, sir. [_He suddenly
takes a step forward, and looking HE in the eyes, speaks in a hoarse
voice, with a cough, holding one hand at his throat._] I am the witness.
I saw. I am a witness. I saw how he put poison ... I----

     [_He leaves the room, suddenly, with the same straight, heavy
     steps. All move away from him, frightened. HE drops his head again.
     From time to time a tremor shakes his body._]

JACKSON

[_Clasping his hands_]: Then it is all true? Poisoned! What a vile man
you are, HE. Is this the way to play? Now wait for the last slap of the
executioner! [_Makes the gesture around his neck, of the guillotine.
Tilly and Polly repeat the gesture._]

ZINIDA

Leave his soul alone, Jim. He was a man, and he loved. Happy Consuelo!

     [_A shot is heard in the corridor._ THOMAS, _frightened, runs in
     and points to his head_.]

THOMAS

Baron ... Baron ... his head.... He shot himself?...

BRIQUET

[_Throwing his arms up_]: God! What is it? The Baron? What a calamity
for our circus.

MANCINI

The Baron? The Baron? No. What are you standing here for? Ah!

BRIQUET

Calm down, Count. Who would have believed it? Such a respectable ...
gentleman!

HE

[_Lifting his head with difficulty; he sees only dimly with his dulled
eyes_]: What more? What happened?

THOMAS

The Baron shot himself. Honestly. Straight here! He's lying out yonder.

HE

[_Thinking it over_]: Baron? [_Laughs._] Then the Baron burst?

JACKSON

Stop it! It's shameless. A man died and you.... What's the matter with
you, HE?

HE

[_Stands up, lifted to his feet by the last gleam of consciousness and
life, speaks strongly and indignantly_]: You loved her so much, Baron?
So much? My Consuelo? And you want to be ahead of me even _there_? No! I
am coming. We shall prove then whose she is to be for ever....

     [_He catches at his throat, falls on his back. People run to him.
     General agitation._]

CURTAIN





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